The first half was intense and hard-fought, with very few chances and virtually zero space for either team to operate. Ronald Koeman surprised with a back three and a five across midfield but the plan worked well as the Blaugrana managed to press high up the pitch and always have width on the wings while also having movement and possession in the middle.
Messi and Dembélé played as a front two and were simply a living hell for the Sevilla defense, who could not find a way to deal with their movement as the two roamed freely around the final third and constantly dragged defenders out of position. Their work didn’t result in many chances, but Sevilla were so worried about them that they couldn’t get into a rhythm offensively and had to constantly foul to avoid getting in trouble.
Messi and Dembélé combined for the only goal of the half thanks to a marvelous through ball by the captain and a sublime finish by the Frenchman. Barça had nothing to worry about defensively and headed into halftime as the better team, but Sevilla were competing hard and the game was still up for grabs.
Barça started the second half well, continuing to press high and create chances, with three big ones before the 65th minute: first it was Jordi Alba who couldn’t get to a cross from Frenkie De Jong, then Sergiño Dest hit the post, and Messi missed a golden chance after an unbelievable run by Dembélé.
Unable to double their lead, Barça had to survive some pressure to Sevilla who brought on plenty of attacking players and started to fire crosses into the box, but the Blaugranadealt very well with every wave of pressure from the home side with Clément Lenglet especially dominant at the back.
As we reached the final 10 minutes Barça grew into the game again thanks to a great substitute cameo by Ilaix Moriba, who brought plenty of energy and was involved in the second goal which was finished by Messi to wrap up the win for Barça.