The defending La Liga champions cruised to a routine victory against Deportivo in a one sided contest at the Camp Nou, in which the visiting team ended the game with 10 men.
Rafinha (21st min, 36th min) scored a brace while Luis Suarez (43rd min) scored his 45th goal of 2016 before Lionel Messi (58th min) added the fourth shortly after coming on as a sub against a hapless Deportivo side in a dominant team performance.
Messi shows his class on return
Most players need time to get back to their usual flow upon returning from an injury absence. Apparently, it seems the rule doesn’t apply if your name is Lionel Messi. The Argentine, who was sidelined for almost 3 weeks due to a muscle injury, returned back to a rapturous applause from the Barcelona faithful at the Camp Nou. And the 29-year-old didn’t disappoint, scoring with only his third touch of the game after team-mate Neymar spotted his unmarked run towards the front post with a sublime pass. Messi did what Messi does best – find the back of the net with a powerful shot, to add to the misery of the Deportivo team. It was his 17th goal in 14 appearance against the club.
Defensive organization still a concern
While it was a pretty straight forward victory for the home team, it still wasn’t without the bouts of shakiness in the defense early on in the game. Even though Deportivo failed to muster any decent attempt on goal, the back three looked far from convincing, with coach Enrique having a long discussion with defender Gerard Pique at the touchline after Rafinha opened the scoring. This is a cause of concern because a better attacking unit will definitely make most of the defensive lapses, as we saw in Barcelona’s 4-3 loss at Celta Vigo just before the international break.
The Aleix Vidal situation
The situation looks alarming for full-back Aleix Vidal, who even after the injury of first choice defender Sergi Roberto, didn’t make it to the first team squad for the game agaisnt Deportivo, with left-back Lucas Digne being preferred over him at the right-back spot. The former Sevilla man, signed by the club for €18 million plus add-ons just last season, was widely expected to make the right-back spot his own upon the transfer. But Sergi Roberto’s reemergence as a full-back pushed him down the pecking order. The situation has only grown on to become more grim with manager Luis Enrique reportedly said to be not in favor of Vidal. It wouldn’t be surprising if he is offloaded as soon the next transfer window opens, with news of a swap deal with Valencia’s Joao Cancelo being reported by Sport.
Paco Alcacer needs time
Probably the only Barcelona player tonight who will be disappointed at the end of the match would be new signing Paco Alcacer, who spurned some very glorious chances after coming on for striker Luis Suarez at half time. While the Spanish international hasn’t exactly hit the ground running since his transfer, he has been doing all the right things, like today where he made some good movements to get into the goal-scoring positions. But unfortunately for him, his final finish let him down throughout. Luis Enrique shouldn’t be concerned just yet as it’s just a matter of time until the former Valencia striker opens his Barcelona account and continues the scoring thereafter.
Focus on the next tie
Luis Enrique’s Barcelona team have become well known for their ruthless approach of not settling even after having a considerable lead against the opponent. But it does seem the team and the manager had one eye on their next match, as Luis Suarez was taken off at half time while the team strolled for the final thirty minutes or so. Their next fixture, a mouth-watering Champions League contest against Manchester City which sees former captain and manager Pep Guardiola return to Camp Nou, is one of the most eagerly awaited games of the season. The manager would naturally want his players to be in their best shape physically and mentally in what promises to be an enthralling tie this Wednesday night.