Seville 1 Barcelona 1: Barcelona lack bite as Ronaldinho still fails to provide
Celtic fans take note – Barcelona had nine absentees at the weekend and coach Frank Rijkaard still chose to start without Ronaldinho. And when the Brazilian did appear for the second half his performance showed exactly why he had been left out in the first place.
Barcelona go to Glasgow in nine days time in the Champions League having gone seven matches without scoring more than once in a game, and with their double world player of the year in dire form.
He wasted four free-kicks on the edge of the Seville penalty area and produced a selection of loose passes and a mis-hit shot – no wonder Rijkaard started the match with 18-year-old Giovani Dos Santos in his place despite the Mexican having only returned from international duty in Houston 36 hours earlier.
Thierry Henry only managed 13 minutes more than Ronaldinho, asking to come off in the second half complaining of a hip problem. He spent another fruitless evening in front of a midfield either unable or unwilling to give him any of those early balls over the top of the opposition's defence that he thrives on.
It was left to Leo Messi to salvage something. His clever through ball sent Xavi away to score Barça's equaliser on 75 minutes and two minutes later his run forced Seydou Keita into a rash challenge that earned him a second yellow card. With a man less Seville's chances of re-establishing their lead were dented.
Although no one told flying left winger Diego Capel. The man who had put Seville ahead in the first half was still running Barcelona ragged in injury time.
Twice in the first half he bounded down the left and crossed for Freddie Kanouté only for the Mali striker to fail to beat Victor Valdes. Then on 34 minutes he turned finisher himself, sliding in a Jesus Navas cross. "We deserved the victory" said Capel. "Barcelona had one shot on goal and they scored. But we take a lot from the game because of the way we played."
Seville (4-4-2): Palop; Alves, Drago, Escude, Adriano; Navas (Maresca, 83), Poulsen, Keita, Capel; Kanouté (Renato, 64), Adriano.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Oleguer, Thuram (Marque, h-t), Milito, Abidal; Xavi, Edmilson (Ronaldinho, h-t), Iniesta; Henry (Gudjohnsen, 58), Messi, Giovanni.
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