Both sides are still in the fight for European glory but off the pace in La Liga, so the Copa is the best chance either have of winning silverware this season.
First advantage went to Sevilla. Julen Lopetegui’s men secured an impressive 2-0 victory, scoring either side of half-time to ensure that Barcelona returned to Catalonia empty-handed. They were competent, controlled and ruthless.
“I think we deserved more,” Ronald Koeman said post-game in comments carried by Marca. “We played well and created scoring chances. I think the result doesn’t reflect what happened on the pitch, it’s too much of a reward to them for what happened.
“We’re in a good moment, and we’ll continue to fight. We played well, but we played against a great team, and a very physical one. We had opportunities. There’s VAR, but I think we should have had a penalty.
“We have to analyse the game. There are many games before the second leg, and there’s been great wear-and-tear. We have to try to play to win in the second leg, and there’s hope, although the tie is difficult. At home this team are capable of anything.”
The game started competitively, with Sevilla taking the lead inside the opening half-hour through Jules Kounde. The French centre back dribbled past Samuel Umtiti before finishing coolly.
Sevilla doubled their lead heading into the final five minutes, with ex-Barcelona man Ivan Rakitic scoring to give his club a valuable two-goal cushion that could come in handy come the second leg.