Ernesto Valverde had hoped Sunday’s clash with Sevilla would be rather more routine than it turned out to be. The Barcelona coach had more than one eye on the club’s Champions League clash with Roma in midweek and elected to leave Lionel Messi on the bench.
The Argentine had missed both of the international friendly matches against Italy and Spain after feeling some hamstring discomfort and Valverde made the decision to rest him. This choice was quickly called into question when the Andalusian club took a 2-0 lead.
This performance was one of Sevilla’s best under Vincenzo Montella, it seemed to be the perfect preparation for Tuesday’s Champions League tie with Bayern Munich. Barcelona couldn’t find any rhythm, their midfield looked disjointed without Sergio Busquets, whilst Andres Iniesta and Philippe Coutinho crowded the other’s space.
Messi has carried Los Cules at times this season, since Neymar’s departure last summer there is a lack of creative spark. People forget that Luis Suarez is a world-class striker, he isn’t a regular provider.
Diego Simeone has alluded to it earlier in the season, and there is a strong belief that without the Argentine, Barcelona wouldn’t be in the position they currently are in LaLiga.
With their unbeaten run at risk, Messi was introduced in the second half as Sevilla attempted to hold onto their lead. He saved his team’s unbeaten run as Barcelona scored two goals in the last two minutes of normal time to rescue a draw.
It wasn’t a result their performance merited, yet with the 30-year-old on the pitch, anything is possible.
He proved the difference against Atletico Madrid, he proved the difference against Chelsea and as the season progresses, you feel that if the Blaugrana are to have any chance in the Champions League, they will need their star at full-flow.