Barca start to pull away! Winners, losers and ratings as the Blaugrana batter Sevilla to go eight points clear

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Raphinha 2022-23
Raphinha and Jordi Alba starred as Barcelona came alive in the second half to beat Sevilla and got eight points clear of Real Madrid atop La Liga.

Barcelona can't seem to lose at the moment. The Blaugrana haven't been on the wrong end of a result since October, a run that continued with the visit of a lowly Sevilla side.

And Barca, as they have done for most of their La Liga campaign, delivered in style. They overcame a shaky first half and exploded with three goals in the second to run away 3-0 winners and take an eight-point lead atop La Liga.

After Real Madrid lost to Mallorca early in the day, Sunday night represented a massive chance for Barcelona. And in the first half, the Blaugrana looked unlikely to capitalise. Sevilla's defensive setup was difficult to crack, while an early injury to Sergio Busquets took the pace out of Barca's game.

Xavi's side were much improved in the second. Jordi Alba provided the breakthrough, darting into the box and meeting Franck Kessie's lay off with a tidy side-footed finish.

They added a second shortly after, with Gavi turning in Raphinha's angled pass from close range. Barca were well in a rhythm by the time the third came, as Alba fed Raphinha to finish a flowing move.

This was a big result for Xavi, a battering of a struggling but always dangerous opponent. And following Madrid's loss earlier in the day, Barca might just be edging close to something bigger.

  1. The Winners

    The Winners

    Jordi Alba:

    Alba wasn't supposed to be in the XI on Sunday; he's fallen behind 19-year-old Alejandro Balde in Xavi's pecking order. But with Balde sidelined, Alba was given his chance. And he took it wonderfully. It was a classic Alba performance: constant runs, relentless energy and crucial quality in the final third. He created a few chances in the first half, and was even better in the second, scoring Barca's opener with a side-footed finish, before assisting Raphinha 20 minutes later. Alba benefitted from having little to do defensively, which suited his aging legs. Still, he showcased that he is still an impact player going forward.

    Franck Kessie:

    Speaking of unlikely heroes... Kessie was brought on as an emergency substitute after Busquets exited early with a nasty-looking ankle injury. The Ivorian seems an awkward fit in this Barca side. He doesn't necessarily have the same creative spark as Gavi or Pedri, and doesn't move the ball from a deep-lying role like Busquets. But on Sunday, he found his niche. Kessie played high up the pitch and was regularly in the Sevilla box. And from there, he assisted Barca's opener, a lovely little flick into Alba's path. He was also involved in the build-up to the second, spraying a pass to Raphinha, who, in turn, assisted Gavi.


    The former-Leeds man hasn't quite seen his Barcelona career take off yet. He's shifted positions frequently, playing on both the left and right, without avail. But with Ousmane Dembele out, Raphinha has been handed an extended run in the side in his preferred position. And he's taken advantage, tallying three goal contributions in his last two games. He approached his best on Sunday night, highlighted by a standout second half in which he grabbed a goal and an assist. Barcelona will need him to continue this form while Dembele is sidelined.

  2. The Losers

    The Losers

    Sergio Busquets:

    As soon as Busquets is starting to move into form, injury hit. The Spain international has been excellent in recent weeks, evoking memories of old with his metronomic passing and stout tackling. He was removed after five minutes against Sevilla, though, after twisting his ankle against the turf during a collision. It didn't appear to be a malicious challenge, but Busquets seemed in serious pain all the same. The good news for Xavi is that the 36-year-old was able to walk off. The bad news is he didn't look desperately comfortable doing it.

    Ivan Rakitic:

    Rakitic endured a forgettable night at his former stomping ground. The ex-Barcelona midfielder only managed 37 touches and had little impact on the game as his side was battered by a rampant home team. Rakitic is now 34 and was phased out of the Barca side almost three years ago with the arrival of Frenkie de Jong. Still, it must hurt for the Croatian to be on the end of such a one-sided result at a stadium where he enjoyed a successful spell.

    Real Madrid:

    Madrid lost to Mallorca earlier in the day, giving Barcelona a chance to go eight points clear atop the table. And the Blaugrana got their business done in style, leaving their biggest rivals with a lot of ground to make up in the coming weeks. Real now need Barca to drop points — which they seem increasingly unlikely to do.

  3. Barcelona Ratings: Defence

    Barcelona Ratings: Defence

    Marc Andre ter Stegen (7/10):

    Had one save to make. Celebrated joyously after Alba opened the scoring.

    Jules Kounde (7/10):

    Looked comfortable throughout, even if he doesn't have the best understanding with Raphinha yet. Kept Sevilla's wide men quiet, too.

    Ronald Araujo (7/10):

    Really impressive passing performance from an ever-improving centre-back. Good to get him a rest after Barca took a 3-0 lead.

    Andreas Christensen (7/10):

    His partnership with Araujo is really blossoming. Won all but one of his aerial duels and kept the ball moving.

    Jordi Alba (8/10):

    Unlikely starter after Alejandro Balde was ruled out with the flu. Turned in his best performance since the World Cup with a goal and an assist.

  4. Midfield


    Pedri (6/10):

    Lots of tidy stuff, but Pedri didn't necessarily have his best game. Didn't matter in the end.

    Sergio Busquets (4/10):

    Subbed off after five minutes with a nasty-looking ankle twist. Barca will hope it's not too bad.

    Frenkie de Jong (7/10):

    Moved to the deeper "Busquets" role after the veteran was taken off. De Jong showed why he can be a viable replacement long term with an excellent 90 minutes.

  5. Attack


    Raphinha (8/10):

    One of his best games under Xavi. Raphinha struggled early, but led the charge for Barca in the second half, scoring and assisting while also looking dangerous on the wing.

    Robert Lewandowski (7/10):

    Forced Yassine Bounou into a terrific save in the first half, lashed a free kick narrowly wide, and stung Bounou's palms again later. Unlucky not to get a goal.

    Gavi (7/10):

    One of four centre-midfielders for Xavi's side. Deployed as the most advanced, tucked into the left channel. Not his most involved attacking game, but still grabbed a goal.

  6. Subs & Manager

    Subs & Manager

    Franck Kessie (6/10):

    Replaced the injured Busquets after six minutes and did well for himself. Tackled a lot, made some nice runs, but lacked creativity in the final third.

    Marcos Alonso (6/10):

    A slightly shaky cameo.

    Ansu Fati (5/10):

    Looks to have lost his chance at getting regular minutes with Lewandowski back and Raphinha firing.

    Alejandro Balde (6/10):

    Ran around for 10 minutes.

    Ferran Torres (6/10):

    Good to see him back on the pitch. Still unclear as to how he fits into this team, though.

    Xavi (9/10):

    Went for his preferred four centre-midfielder formation, but saw it disrupted by an early injury to Busquets. Still, Xavi got a top performance out of his team in the second half, with Raphinha and Alba starring. A La Liga title seems increasingly likely...