Perhaps it’s just their way of raising the difficulty level for themselves as the four-time defending Copa del Rey winners, but Barcelona are beginning to make a habit of dropping the first leg before pulling themselves through to the next round with a second-leg comeback.
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At least, that’s what Ernesto Valverde’s side will be forced to do, once again, after suffering a 2-0 defeat away to Sevilla on Wednesday. Similarly, Barca fell to Levante away from home in the first leg of the round of 16 before storming back to advance to the quarterfinals with a 3-0 victory at home.
Barcelona were without Lionel Messi, who was rested alongside a handful of other regular starters.
“When you make changes you take risks,” Valverde said after the game. “But I don’t regret it, it’s what had to be done. Last season we paid the price for our participation in the Copa. This year we think it’s best to make more changes.”
Pablo Sarabia and Wissam Ben Yedder did the damage for Sevilla in the second half, grabbing goals in the 58th and 76th minutes. Sarabia opened the scoring with a volley to put home a cross by Quincy Promes, and Ben Yedder poked the ball past Jasper Cillessen after Ever Banega’s shot took a deflection inside the penalty area.
Barca will host the second leg at the Camp Nou next Wednesday.