FCBarcelona - Sevilla 22-10-11 (1)

Barça drew with Sevilla in a game that they did everything they could to win, but came up against an inspired Javi Varas. The visiting goalkeeper saved a penalty from Messi in injury time.

Sevilla's visit to the Camp Nou was a great test for the current league champions. After the first half hour Barça were clearly the superior side, coinciding with a change of formation, but they didn’t reap the reward of a goal. The main culprit was the visiting goalkeeper, who even saved a penalty from Messi in a controversial end to the game.

From 3-4-3 to 4-3-3

Right from the start the 2 goalkeepers, both in great form, were to become the main protagonists. First the Seville keeper, Javi Varas, stopped a rasping shot from Iniesta (min 9) with his feet. Then Víctor Valdés saved Barça with two crucial saves from Navas (min 11) and Armenteros (min 19). Barça started with a 3-4-3 formation, which became 4-3-3 on the half hour. Until then they had been on the attack, but were unable find space in the middle of the park against a well organized opponent.

Space down the wings

With their new formation, Barça started to play down the flanks: Messi drifted to the right, and Iniesta to the left, with Alves and Adriano pushing forward as well. The change caused problems for Sevilla, who had been very comfortable before that point. In the 40th minute, Varas saved Villa's shot after a fine collective move down the left, and just before the break, he then thwarted Messi. There had been very few chances in the first half, but some really clear ones.

Barça siege

The Catalan team increased their domination of the game after the break: Barça pushed forward, and Sevilla resigned themselves to counter-attacking. There was no lapse in concentration from Javi Varas, who pulled off another good save from a low Iniesta strike (min 54). Soon afterwards, Messi, Villa, and Adriano, all fired just wide, and Guardiola made an attacking change, bringing on Pedro for Keita (min 62). Without throwing caution to the wind, Barça attacked again and again, led brilliantly by Xavi, and the fans really got behind the team.

Cruel punishment

The last minutes of the match saw Barça completely on top, taking risks against a totally defensive Sevilla who just couldn’t get hold of the ball. In injury time, Iniesta forced Barça’s first penalty of the season. The tension that had been building up for 90 minutes boiled over  before Messi could take the penalty, with the away team protesting the decision, some pushing and shoving, and Kanoute getting sent off for his reprehensible conduct. Varas, instrumental once again, pushed away Messi’s penalty. Despite the goalless draw the home team received a fantastic ovation from a packed Camp Nou.