Barça were on the front foot from the first whistle, but it was Sevilla that went ahead through Sarabia after the first VAR review in Spanish football, just before the 10 minute mark. Sharp, incisive passing, particularly down Sevilla’s right side, ensured that the Blaugrana continued to dominate possession with new signing, Arthur, in the thick of the action.
Messi was unlucky with Barça’s first real chance of note just before the quarter hour, his clever shot through the legs of the defender parried by Vaclík, and it was the captain’s vision that saw Jordi Alba able to test the keeper again shortly after.
Sevilla were reduced to playing on the counter attack as Barça looked to find a way through their five-man defence, which Luis Suárez almost managed to do on 23 minutes. Clément Lenglet then soared to connect well with Messi’s free-kick but watched agonisingly as the ball went over the bar.
As the Blaugrana continued ramping up the pressure, Suárez would again go close, and Barça would finally get the reward their play deserved as Gerard Piqué slid home the rebound after Messi’s free-kick had come back off of the post.
The pattern continued at the start of the second-half as Barça moved the ball around with confidence. Ivan Rakitic replaced Rafinha after the break, and after an assured performance in midfield, Arthur made way for Philippe Coutinho who was soon involved. Messi would again go close with a free-kick before Sevilla grazed the crossbar with a dead ball routine of their own.
A fine double save by Vaclík ensured the game stayed level but in the very next attack, a rocket from Ousmane Dembélé flew in to give Barça the lead. He would make way for Arturo Vidal with five minutes to play, and there was still time for late drama as Marc-André ter Stegen saved Wissam Ben Yedder’s penalty in the last minute.
Barça are next in action on Wednesday, August 15, when they take on Boca Juniors in the Gamper Trophy at Camp Nou. Kick off is at 6.15pm CEST and tickets for the game can be bought here.