Sevilla 2 Barcelona 0: Resting Messi backfires for Copa del Rey holders

Lionel Messi was given the day off as Copa del Rey holders Barcelona went down 2-0 away to Sevilla in the first leg of their quarter-final.

Pablo Sarabia and Wissam Ben Yedder scored in the second half to earn Sevilla a deserved 2-0 victory over Barcelona, who rested Lionel Messi, in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final. 

Messi came off the bench to help Barca beat Leganes in LaLiga at the weekend, but Ernesto Valverde left his captain out entirely at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan on Wednesday, handing a debut to shock signing Kevin-Prince Boateng in attack instead.

Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho came on as substitutes but, if Barca are to win the Copa del Rey for a fifth year in a row, they will have to overturn a first-leg deficit as they did in the last round against Levante. 

Sarabia struck to capitalise on a period of Sevilla dominance with Ben Yedder adding a late second, Pablo Machin's side bouncing back from a run of three straight losses in all competitions to stun the holders, although they lost talismanic winger Jesus Navas to injury.

Sevilla thought they had been awarded a penalty in the first half when Arturo Vidal blocked a cross with his upper arm, but a VAR review opted not to give a spot-kick. 

Ben Yedder should have given Sevilla the lead in the 36th minute, brilliantly beating Gerard Pique during a dazzling solo run but slicing his shot badly wide of the post. 

Barca missed an even better chance before the break, Malcom running on to a sublime Arthur pass to round Juan Soriano but hitting his finish into the side-netting. 

Quincy Promes and Ibrahim Amadou wasted good opportunities after the restart as Sevilla continued to impress, the opening goal deservedly arriving in the 58th minute. 

Promes raided down Sevilla's left wing and floated a cross into the Barca box, Sarabia meeting the ball with an excellent first-time finish that gave Jasper Cillessen no chance. 

And Sevilla gave themselves a further cushion ahead of the return fixture when they scored what might prove to be a decisive second goal in the 76th minute.  

Andre Silva and Ever Banega combined to tee up Ben Yedder at the back post, the striker using his celebration to show a message of support to missing Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala.

 

What does it mean? Messi magic missed by Barca

Valverde has a tricky task to juggle Messi's fitness with the Champions League returning next month, but the Barca coach must be careful of giving his side too much to do in a competition they have dominated in recent years. For the second round in a row, Barca are going to have to come from behind in the return leg. Messi will surely start on home soil.

As for Sevilla, who were beaten by Barca in the 2016 and 2018 finals, they will be desperate for revenge.

Promes promise begins to shine

When Promes moved to Sevilla from Spartak Moscow for the 2018-19 season it was regarded as one of the most exciting deals in Europe. The Netherlands winger has struggled, though, starting only three LaLiga games, but he showed enough verve and intensity to suggest he can be an asset over the second half of the campaign.

Malcom wastes his big chance

With Messi and Ousmane Dembele absent, Malcom was handed a rare opportunity to impress Valverde. However, a poor miss just before the break showed why the Brazilian could still be allowed to leave the club during the January transfer window. He was unsurprisingly hauled off after Sevilla took the lead.

What's next?

What promises to be a thrilling second leg will be played at Camp Nou next Wednesday, but before then Sevilla host Levante in LaLiga on Saturday, with Barca going to Girona a day later.