Barcelona did not have it all their own way against Sevilla, and while the Blaugrana had most of the ball, the visitors would probably have been pleased with their defensive effort until Jordi Alba broke the deadlock. Until that point, Robert Lewandowski’s effort from distance was their best effort, saved by Yassine Bounou, which came from outside of the box.
However when Jordi Alba got into the box and finished Franck Kessie’s delicate pass, the game opened up for the Blaugrana. Alba would go on to get another assist too in the match, turning out to be the decisive figure, alongside Raphinha.
According to Xavi Hernandez, that opening goal came straight from the tactics board. It was an area of weakness that Barcelona had identified.
“The situation was that there was space behind [Gonzalo] Montiel. Jordi gives us a lot in attack, he’s an extraordinary last passer. He gets to the second phase, at the far post… he gives us a lot in attack. Especially happy [with him].”
Xavi would go on to tell Marca that Alba’s qualities were ones that the Barcelona squad lacked on the whole, but it was something they were able to call on during particular situations.
While Xavi has been criticised for some of his choices earlier this season, lately he has done a good job of finding the right balance for the side. In particular, the switch to playing one of Gavi or Pedri further forward as part of a four-man midfield has paid dividends.