Barcelona secured a 3-0 win away at Osasuna, thanks to a second half-brace from Lionel Messi after Luis Suarez opened the scoring for the visitors.
Barcelona came into the match on the back of a heart-breaking 1-1 draw in the El Clasico at Nou Camp last weekend as Sergio Ramos snatched an equalizer in stoppage time to deny the Catalans a precious win. Osasuna, on the other hand, came into the game without a win in their last six games, having garnered just 1 point from a possible 18.
Barcelona dominated the proceedings but both sides went into half-time on level terms as the Catalan side were unable to find the break through. Luis Enrique’s half-time team talk seems to have worked as Luis Suarez opened the scoring for the visitors just inside the hour-mark.
The first goal was then followed by a brace from Argentine magician Lionel Messi, which included a mesmerising run, as Barcelona cruised to a 3-0 win. The Hard Tackle takes a look at some of the significant talking points from the game.
Messi the Magician
Barcelona are sometimes over-reliant on bursts of individual brilliance produced by one or more of the MSN trio. Lionel Messi has always produced magical moments consistently throughout his career. On Saturday in Pampilona, the Argentine produced another dazzling display of his talent as he brushed past several Osasuna players to calmly slot the ball in the corner of the net in a crowded penalty area.
Lionel Messi: MotM vs Osasuna, Rating 10, Goals 2, Shots 7, Key Passes 4, Dribbles 5, Touches 100 @FCBarcelona pic.twitter.com/8436rUUoOI
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) December 10, 2016
Lionel Messi: Has now scored 16 goals in his last 9 La Liga apps against Osasuna
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) December 10, 2016
While Barcelona already had the lead, the goal meant an added assurance of the result and the Argentine added one more, which meant that the 28-year-old now has 11 goals this season while he has a blitzing record of 16 goals in the last 9 appearances against Osasuna.
Between leaving La Masia for Valencia and then returning to the Nou Camp, Jordi Alba has blossomed into one of the most complete full-backs in the footballing world right now. The player goes about his business with aplomb and contributes equally to both sides of the game – defence and the attack.
Jordi Alba has registered 9 assists in LaLiga since the beginning of last season, more than any other defender. pic.twitter.com/HGPQYuxLZ8
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 10, 2016
Alba’s notoriety to go further up the pitch and his crossing prowess has seen him notch many assists. And he added two more to his tally on Saturday, taking his tally to 9 assists, the most by a defender in the league. The statistic highlights the player’s ability to create chances, a-la Dani Alves while being a bit less defensively fragile than the Brazilian was known to be.
A priceless Clean Sheet
Questions have been asked of Barcelona’s defence for a long time. But the Catalan defence came under even more scrutiny this season, especially after the 3-1 defeat at Etihad at the hands of Manchester City, a game that saw them sliced open by the persevering Citizens.
Barcelona managed a shutout away at El Sadar against Osasuna and Luis Enrique would be happy with the defensive efforts of his team. They have always had a stellar attack but, often, it has been the defence that has let them down. The arrival and deployment of more natural defenders at the back may just be they key to building a strong defensive unit, as was the case during the time Carles Puyol graced the Catalan jersey earlier in the millennium.
First-half stalemate a cause for worry
Even though Luis Enrique was pleased with the nature of the win, the manager threw in words of caution in relation to his side’s inability to score in the first-half on Saturday, despite a largely dominant display in the first 45 minutes of the game. The two sides went into half-time level and even though the performance was admirable, the score meant that Osasuna were still in the game with hopes of snatching a point or three.
This is something that may have failed to impact the Saturday result but can prove to be troublesome and the undoing of Barcelona’s title challenge against a more formidable opposition. The Catalan side already sit six points behind Real Madrid on the table and any further disappointments may just send their title challenge packing.
Barcelona finally get the Goose after a series of Ducks
Three consecutive draws in the league saw Barcelona slip to a six point deficit from the current table-toppers Real Madrid. The first half in Pampilona ended 0-0 and there were fears that the fixture could end up in another draw for Barcelona. But the Catalan side persevered in the second half and ended up winning 3-0, a win that was necessary, as it marked an end to a disappointing run of three draws.
The win also provides momentum to Luis Enrique and his men, which could prove to be pivotal in the title race.
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