• Quality, not chemistry! Barca still yet to hit top form despite Sevilla blitz
    12:10 | 07/10/2019

    The Catalans have looked strong in recent weeks, but there’s still a lack of sharpness on display for Ernesto Valverde’s new-look side.

    Photo by Getty

    Winning 4-0 but not being comfortable with your performance can be classified as a good problem, and that’s what Barcelona have right now.

    They thrashed Sevilla – on the scoreboard at least – to complete an excellent week after their comeback against Inter Milan in the Champions League.

    Yet in another universe, not too far removed from this one, Sevilla would have been 3-0 ahead before Luis Suarez broke the deadlock.

    If it had been poacher Javier Hernandez, sitting on the bench, rather than Luuk de Jong, up front, the Andalusians might have been 3-0 up.

    But the Dutch centre-forward, for all his energy, hustle and bustle leading the line, was remarkably wasteful.

    De Jong spurned three fine chances to score, a hat-trick of glaring misses, two from very close range, and was soon shown what happens if you look this blue-and-red chequered gift horse in the mouth.

    Barcelona have played of remarkably high calibre and they came to the fore in a brutal eight-minute period, with the Catalans striking thrice, a goal for every De Jong miss.

    Suarez’s was first, and best, a pin-point bicycle kick from Nelson Semedo’s cross, his third exceptional goal in the space of five days, after his Champions League brace against Inter Milan.

    Arturo Vidal was next, sliding in to finish from Arthur’s tempting, well-weighted pass, after more good work from Semedo.

    The Portuguese right-back has impressed out of position on the left in the last two matches, with Jordi Alba and Junior Firpo out injured.

    Apart from the executioner, Vidal, Semedo played the key role in a goal, with every player in the side touching the ball during the 25-pass build-up.

    Barcelona still seem incapable of consistently playing the possession football the purists desire but at times it is within their grasp.

    That is a promising sign – and terrifying for their rivals – and they will only improve as Frenkie de Jong, Arthur and Sergio Busquets gel, and Lionel Messi hits his best level.

    Busquets was left out at the expense of Vidal here and that suited the team on this occasion, with the chaotic Chilean scrapper playing his part and earning an ovation from the Camp Nou when he was substituted.

    Antoine Griezmann was left on the bench for this clash but will also likely form part of the best side, because he offers much greater ball retention ability than Ousmane Dembele.

    However, the Frenchman still convinces in fits and starts, in certain moments looking a world-beater, at others a clown – perhaps the team in a microcosm at this moment.

    A brilliant jink left Sevilla defender Diego Carlos sliding into next week, before Dembele finished coolly for Barcelona’s third, and the team’s 300th goal in 129 matches under coach Ernesto Valverde. That was the sublime.

    The ridiculous followed in the second half when he should have scored again but rifled an effort into the second tier of seats behind the goal, which takes some doing at a stadium as steep as this.

    Sevilla’s beleaguered forward De Jong contributed some more ridiculous of his own, spurning a fourth great chance, smashing an effort against the post after his Barcelona namesake committed a rare error.

    The visitors’ profligacy shows this Barcelona team is far from perfect, despite this excellent result and their win over Inter in the Champions League, in which they were also dismantled at the back.

    Messi is still finding his peak but scored a superb free-kick for the fourth before the game descended into farce in the final stages, with young centre-back Ronald Araujo wrongly sent off on his debut by referee Mateu Lahoz.

    Amid Barcelona players’s protests, Dembele was dismissed for saying something untoward to the official.

    Gerard Pique also picked up a booking – deliberately – so he is suspended for the next match, at Eibar, after his fifth yellow card of the league campaign and seventh in total.

    All three players can now not feature again domestically before the Clasico on October 26.

    By that time, the Catalans will hope to have added more chemistry to their sheer individual quality.

    Source – Goal.com

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