Jules Kounde was back at Sevilla on Saturday for the first time since his summer move and was stationed once again at right-back. Ronald Araujo and Eric Garcia continued in central defense, with Alejandro Balde at left-back.
New boys Hector Bellerin and Marcos Alonso didn’t make the squad but will surely be involved next time out, although the same probably can’t be said of Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba who may have to start getting used to life on the bench.
Kounde will have enjoyed his return too. He picked up his first assist for Barcelona after coming infield and plonking the ball onto Lewandowski’s chest for the second goal of the night.
Another followed at the start of the second half. Raphinha’s whipped cross in was headed back across the goal by Kounde for Eric Garcia to knock home the visitors’ third and effectively end the game as a contest.
The defender could have had a goal himself too. Pedri found Kounde in acres of space in the box in stoppage time at the end of the first half but he somehow managed to head wide with just the goalkeeper to beat.
Kounde’s only played for Barcelona twice in La Liga, and both times not in his favored position, but the France international already looks one heck of a signing by the Catalan giants.
The goals keep on coming for Lewandowski who bagged his fifth of the campaign already with Barca’s second of the night. The Poland international controlled a ball in from Kounde beautifully on his chest before slamming past the goalkeeper.
Scoring five goals in your first four La Liga games is not easily done, with Lewandowski joining Cristiano Ronaldo and Radamel Falcao as the only players to manage the feat this century.
5 – Robert Lewandowski has scored 5 goals in 4 games in LaLiga, becoming only the third player to score 5 or more goals in his first 4 games in the competition in the 21st century after Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009 (5) and Radamel Falcao in 2011 (5). Amazing. pic.twitter.com/zVx8TpyJ70
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) September 3, 2022
It was also the striker’s first goal against Sevilla after previously drawing a blank against the Andalusians. Lewandowski had faced Sevilla five times previously (twice with Dortmund and three times with Bayern) but had not managed to find the back of the net.
Lewandowski may have cost €50 million at the age of 33, which is a huge amount for an aging player, but already looks a very sound investment indeed. The Poland international simply guarantees goals, wherever he plays, and you already get the feeling he might walk off with the Pichichi trophy at the end of the season.
Raphinha was also in the goals on Saturday night and opened the scoring at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium with his first La Liga strike for his new club since joining from Leeds United this summer.
The goal came against the run of play too. Sevilla enjoyed 61% possession in the first 15 minutes and were getting behind Barcelona for fun. If it hadn’t been for the offside flag and Marc-Andre ter Stegen the hosts could have been a couple up before Raphinha scored.
4 – Raphinha has scored his first goal in LaLiga after four games. He needed five games to score his first goal in the Premier League and seven in the Ligue 1. Adapted. pic.twitter.com/ui6jDbmUa2
— OptaJoao (@OptaJoao) September 3, 2022
The goal was a superb bit of counter-attacking football and showed how Barca will always be a threat with the attacking talent they have in the squad after a summer of big spending.
Credit must go to Gavi for winning the ball in midfield and starting things off, Ousmane Dembele then raced forwards and fed Lewandowski on the overlap. The striker conjured up a lovely dink that almost went in but was hooked off the line and straight to Raphinha to nod home from close range.
Believe it or not, there was also a goal for Eric Garcia at Sevilla. The center-back has enjoyed a superb start to the season after a tricky debut campaign with Barca that saw him heavily criticized and doubts raised over the wisdom of bringing him back to the Camp Nou.
The center-back has managed to quieten his critics so far in 2022-23 and also become one of the first names on Xavi’s team sheet, despite the increased competition for places at the back.
Xavi went with Eric again at Sevilla and the Spain international was again impressive after a tough start. The Barca manager was spotted calling over Eric and Araujo for instructions as the players celebrated Raphinha’s opening goal and whatever he said seemed to have an effect.
Eric went on to pop up with his first ever Barcelona goal to make it 3-0. Credit must go to Raphinha and Kounde but it was a nice moment for the defender and the wide smile on his face said it all.
Barca lost Eric to injury shortly afterwards but he played down injury fears after the match and insisted he was OK which is good news for Barca. After the start to the season, he’s had, Xavi will not want to be without Garcia for long.
One player who wasn’t on the scoresheet but was key to Barca’s win was Gavi. The 18-year-old was up for the battle at Sevilla and then some on Saturday night.
We all know about the teenager’s bite and tenacity but it was on show once again on Saturday. It was easy to lose count of the key balls that Gavi won during the match and no surprise to see him named the man of the match. He was simply everywhere.
It’s hardly a surprise that Gavi was all fired up at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuain either. The midfielder grew up at Real Betis before heading to Barcelona at the age of 11 and was clearly desperate to take all three points home with him.
| Gavi vs Sevilla
• More distance covered (11.3 kms)
• Most duels contested (16) – won 8.
• Most passes in final 3rd (19)
• Most ball recoveries in opposition half (2)
• Most fouls won (5)
• Most fouls committed (5)
• 2nd most ball recoveries (7)
• 2nd most passes (40) pic.twitter.com/bz6wtgjtMO
— Barça Buzz (@Barca_Buzz) September 3, 2022
The 18-year-old’s performance drew plenty of praise from his manager after the game too.
“I’m not surprised about Gavi, I see him working every day in training, he’s pure character, all heart, discipline, he’s wonderful,” he said. “I don’t want to be unfair to the others but today he was the best of the match”.
He wasn’t wrong either. What a talent.