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Barcelona’s slow start, sloppiness vs. Sevilla can provide hope for Roma in UCL

The 53 seconds between Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi’s goals in Seville on Saturday managed to disguise what had happened during the previous 87 minutes.

With less than three minutes to go at the Sanchez Pizjuan, Barcelona were two goals down against Sevilla and were about to lose their first league game of the season. discount authentic nfl jerseys By the time the match clock read 88:12, though, they were level. Suarez had bundled home from a corner and a half-fit Messi, brought on with half an hour to play with his side two behind, curled home from outside the box.

It was that crazy minute which deservedly took the headlines as Barca remained on track to become the first-ever side to go through a top-flight season in Spain unbeaten. But it was the previous 87 minutes which will give the Catalan side’s Champions League rivals hope.

Solid would be the standout word on a word cloud visualising Barca’s season (maybe only behind Messi) so far but they were anything but that against Sevilla. After an even opening first half an hour, they were exposed time and time again at the back, through the middle and on the counterattack.

Sevilla ended the game with 21 shots and only sloppy finishing prevented them from killing the match off at 2-0 as they created chance after chance. Their expected goals (xG) at the end of the game was 2.95. Barca’s was 1.79.

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde pretty much admitted his side got lucky.

“We don’t concede many but conceding the second goal so soon [after half-time] affected us,” he said in his postgame news conference. “We weren’t able to control their counter-attacks. That’s not happened to us before this season. That unbalanced us, we had problems.”

Valverde’s job before Wednesday’s game against Roma is to find out why his side looked so off colour. They’ve only conceded 15 goals in 30 league games this season (including the Sevilla match) and just two in their eight Champions League outings, but Saturday’s performance was a throwback to last season’s heavy European defeats against Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.

Why?

It could just have been a hangover from the international break, although there are other theories, too. Tiredness, being one, with key players rarely rested in a season discount nike nfl jerseys which has already seen Barca play 48 games including the Spanish Super Cup. Sergio Busquets and Messi (until the hour mark) were also missing and centre-backs Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti were not at their best.

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Zinedine Zidane: Isco, Gareth Bale should not feel like Real Madrid reserves

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said he hopes none of his players feel like reserves amid speculation that Isco and Gareth Bale could both again be left out of the XI for Tuesday’s Champions League quarterfinal first leg at Juventus.

After a hat trick in Spain’s 6-1 friendly win over Argentina last week, discount nfl jerseys china sco said he feels undervalued at Madrid, having started just six of the last 16 La Liga games and having been benched for the Champions League round-of-16 second leg at Paris Saint-Germain last month.

He also said that playing for his country “gave him life” and that he is enjoying the confidence of national coach Julen Lopetegui, leading to talk of a £75 million move to longtime suitors Manchester City this summer.

But Zidane said at a pregame news conference in Turin that he would continue to use his big squad as he felt best, pointing out the international and club calendars were very different.

“I hope the players do not think that way,” Zidane said. “For me, there are no reserves. I have 25 very good players and will use them all. There are moments when some play more. Maybe with the national team it is different for Isco as they have eight games — and here there are 60 [and] we play every three days. That is my way of coaching.”

Bale has 11 goals in 15 La Liga games this season, with nine since Jan. 1, but he was a substitute for both Champions League games against PSG as wingers Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio were favoured by Zidane. That has led to speculation about Bale, the former Tottenham Hotspur player, returning to the Premier League.

Madrid midfielder Luka Modric said at the news conference that discount authentic nfl jerseys injuries had not helped Bale’s case this term.

“It’s been a tough season for [Bale], with injuries, but of late he’s feeling good and is on a good goalscoring run,” Modric said. “He’s got great quality and his contribution is very important for us, with his pace and ability to get in behind.”