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La Liga Review: Barcelona Go Eight Points Clear

La Liga Review

Barcelona moved eight points clear at the top of La Liga as a clinical second-half performance helped them to a comfortable victory against Sevilla.

After an uneventful first half the hosts took the lead through Jordi Alba’s 58th-minute side-footed finish. According to Barca coach Xavi Hernandez, that opening goal came straight from the tactics board. It was an area of weakness that Barcelona had identified.

“The situation was that there was space behind [Gonzalo] Montiel. Jordi gives us a lot in attack, he’s an extraordinary last passer. He gets to the second phase, at the far post… he gives us a lot in attack. Especially happy [with him].”

Gavi tapped home Raphinha’s cross to double the lead after 71 minutes and the Brazil winger rounded off the scoring by poking in Alba’s cross.

Defeat leaves Sevilla 16th, just two points clear of the relegation zone.

Earlier on Saturday, title rivals Real Madrid missed out on the chance to cut Barcelona’s lead at least temporarily to two points, losing 1-0 to Mallorca.

A Nacho Fernandez own goal early on in the match put Real Madrid on the backfoot early on, a blow they struggled to recover from. After that, their only shot on target was Marco Asensio’s missed penalty.

“It is a defeat that hurts a lot in this sense,” Carlo Ancelotti told Marca.

“It has been the match we expected. We had prepared for this. For a tough game, with fouls, interruptions… it was decided on small details because it wasn’t a bad game, especially in the second half. The goal we conceded affected us a lot because it was one of the few times they have entered our area. Also the missed penalty because it has affected the final result of the match.”

“The game, as an idea, was not bad, but it was a typical game in terms of interruptions. We did not have cool heads in the first half, it was better in the second. This affects us in the La Liga. Now we have to think about the Club World Cup, which we go to with difficulties, but also with enthusiasm.”

He was asked about the growing gap between themselves and Barcelona in La Liga, which now sits at eight points.

“What’s most important is every game we have to play. Now we have the World Cup, which we want to win. Then we’ll go back to fighting for La Liga until the end. We haven’t finished yet, there are many games to go. In every game, what has happened to us can happen.”