HAMBURG – If Barcelona have been too relaxed in the build-up to their Champions League quarter-final against Roma then the weekend league draw with Sevilla will have put an end to such complacency.
They were two minutes from losing their unbeaten league record at the Sanchez Pizjuan on Saturday, trailing 2-0 before Luis Suarez and substitute Lionel Messi struck to save them.
Spanish media counted just 54 seconds between the two goals with the first arriving in minute 88 of the game.
The fact that Suarez admitted post-match that Sevilla had been the better side summed up what a wake-up call the game was for Barcelona.
There have been signs of over-confidence going into their first leg against Roma today and they had been noted in Italy.
Former Sevilla sporting director Monchi is now at Roma and in an interview with Spain’s Diario AS he said this week: “What’s been said has not been well received.
“What is more I have seen comments that are based on people not really knowing Roma but I prefer to step back from all that.
“Obviously in terms of percentages Barcelona is the favourite but I like what [Sevilla coach Vincenzo] Montella said after Sevilla drew Bayern Munich: ‘If there is a one percent chance then we will fight’.”
What saved Barcelona at the weekend against Sevilla was Messi. He came on with just over half an hour remaining despite not being 100 percent.
Reports in the Catalan media suggested he had been advised not to do any “long sprints” during his brief appearance.
His shot from the edge of the area that earned his team a point was enough to make his performance count.
“Messi’s quality knows no limits,” Monchi added. “I read recently that he feels better every day. That’s a measure of how great he is that he keeps on improving.”
Asked who else he would like to see playing for Roma instead of against them, Monchi added: “Well Sergio Busquets is not bad is he? He is also playing as well as ever.”
Busquets’ absence through a fracture in his foot has seen him miss Barcelona’s last two games but he should be back just in time to face Roma.
He will give Barcelona back some of the defensive solidity they look to have lost in Seville at the weekend.