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SANTI GIMÉNEZ | 24/02/2013
Halfway through Sevilla's visit to Camp Nou, Barça were still at San Siro. Not physically of course, but mentally they were that team with sluggish movement and toothless in attack and one which looked prone to a considerable haemorrhage from the slightest scratch. In a bitterly cold, freezing Camp Nou, they looked evidently demoralized - to the point where Alexis Sánchez, after taking a knock to his thigh, stayed in the dressing room to allow Tello to take over on the left wing in the second period. The youngster's appearance changed the course of the game, waking a team which has recently been showing certain weaknesses and converting them back into what they once were to recover the essence of their game. Just by bringing Tello on, Barça not only ending winning a game in which they went behind, 2-1 but also demonstrated that they are capable of battling back after going a goal down.
That's important because Barça already have the league half sewn up and what they were searching for last night wasn't just three more points but a return to the positive vibe they had when the campaign began. The defeat in Milan came at an inopportune moment and created doubts ahead of Tuesday's meeting with Real Madrid. In the end, they will go home feeling happy but knowing that they have a few flecks to iron out as far as their recent performances are concerned.
In Can Barça, there is concern over what some describe as the team's glass jaw - the impression that any team, at whatever level, can deal out a sucker punch which leaves Roura's men groggy. It's a weakness which has been affirmed in the team most recent outings. In the past 11 matches, Barça have shipped at least one goal - a statistic which will be difficult to break against Madrid.
Both Barça and Sevilla have the chance to make the Copa del Rey final later this week but judging from the starting line-ups, it was clear that it's Barça who are more worried about their next game. Unai Emery on the other hand hardly made any changes to his XI while Roura lefy out Puyol, Cesc and demoted Alba, Xavi, Busquets and Pedro to the subs' bench.
The midfield and attack was the same as the one which pulverized Getafe but the Milan disappointment was still in their minds during the opening minutes at Camp Nou. Messi was uncharacteristically imprecise while Alexis and Villa were unable to open up the Sevilla rearguard. Then suddenly, Botía out-leapt his marker to thunder a header which bounced awkwardly for Valdés, flying past his outstretched hand and into the roof of the net.
Tello's appearance after the interval stimulated Barça and Villa moved into the centre-forward slot, putting away his first chance on goal with an equally potent header. Eight minutes later, Tello was involved in the build-up which enabled Messi a simple tap in from six yards. As an exercise in how to bounce back from a being a goal down, it wasn't bad but there is still room for improvement in the face of what is coming up next.
IMAGEN: Tello despierta al Barça