Barcelona capitalised on Real Madrid’s latest slip-up by beating Sevilla 3-0 at Camp Nou to move eight points clear at the top of LaLiga.
Madrid’s surprise 1-0 loss at Real Mallorca earlier on Sunday opened the door for Barca, who took full advantage with their 10th win in a row this calendar year.
After toiling for the best part of an hour, Jordi Alba deservedly opened the scoring for Xavi’s side and they did not look back.
Gavi doubled the hosts’ lead 12 minutes later after being assisted by Raphinha, who added the third himself to edge Barca ever closer to a first league title in four seasons.
Barca were forced to make a change inside the opening eight minutes after Sergio Busquets injured his ankle and they struggled to find their full flow in the first half.
Yassine Bounou produced a fine stop with his leg to deny Robert Lewandowski and pulled off an even better save soon after to tip the striker’s long-range drive around the post.
Sevilla brought on Bryan Gil and Erik Lamela at half-time, but Barca continued to dominate the contest as Raphinha became the latest to test Bounou, this time from a header.
The breakthrough finally arrived just short of the hour mark as Franck Kessie, brought on for Busquets, brilliantly flicked the ball into the path of Alba to fire across Bounou.
A simple finish for Gavi in the 70th minute after being picked out by Raphinha gave Barca breathing space and the Brazil winger contributed to the scoring before full-time.
Alba played the ball into the middle and Raphinha was there to poke it past Bounou and cap a fine individual and team display.
Gavi the six-shooter pic.twitter.com/aHNLxQTRd0
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 5, 2023
What does it mean? Barca’s impressive form continues
While reigning champions Madrid continue to struggle for any real consistency, Barca have now won 10 of their past 11 LaLiga games and are unbeaten since mid-October.
This latest victory was well deserved against a Sevilla side who had won back-to-back games, with Xavi’s men showing the ruthless edge of champions-in-waiting in the second half.
Sevilla have now failed to beat Barca in 15 LaLiga meetings and are winless at Camp Nou in the league in a run spanning 20 visits since December 2002.
Barca at their best
Full-back Alba was recalled to the starting line-up by Xavi and made his mark with the key breakthrough goal to round off a flowing move that featured 17 passes.
Only Ferran Torres’ goal against Athletic Bilbao in October had a longer sequence of passes for Barca in LaLiga this term, with the Catalans truly finding their groove under Xavi.
Sevilla managed just three shots, with only one of those on target – and even that attempt from Lucas Ocampos came late on with the hosts already three goals ahead.
Indeed, Jorge Sampaoli’s side had just eight touches in the opposition penalty area and generated an expected goals (xG) value of a mere 0.1, compared to 2.7 for Barca.
Barcelona will look to extend their winning run when they travel to Villarreal on next Sunday, while Sevilla host Real Mallorca in six days’ time.