First half chances have been few and far between in Barcelona’s La Liga clash at Sevilla on Friday night, but the hosts did not take chances with Lionel Messi.

The Argentinian international has a fine set piece record with the Catalans, and Julen Lopetegui’s side were on red alert as Diego Carlos conceded a free kick inside Messi territory on 21 minutes.

Anxious to avoid being embarrassed by one of Messi’s trademark under-the-wall free kicks, Lopetegui ordered former La Blaugrana winger Munir El Haddadi to lie down behind their defensive wall.

Jules Kounde was also stationed as an extra defender on Tomas Vaclik’s goal line, with the French defender eventually heading Messi’s effort over the bar.

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The chance was the best opening of fast paced first half, with neither team really testing Vaclik or Marc Ter Stegen.

Barcelona are aiming to extend their lead at the top to five points over Real Madrid, but a draw or defeat allows Zinedine Zidane’s side to leapfrog them, if they beat Real Sociedad on Sunday.

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