FC Barcelona went back to winning ways in La Liga with a 4-1 thrashing of Celta Vigo to return to the top of the La Liga table. A heroic hattrick from Lionel Messi as well as a late stunner from Sergio Busquets gave the Blaugrana a dominant win, while Lucas Olaza scored an impressive goal which turned out to be a mere consolation for Celta.
Story of the Game
The visitors actually started the game in positive trying, trying to penetrate their defence with swift, well-linked moves. But it wasn’t much before Lionel Messi woke up and in the 14th minute, he took the ball from Sergi Roberto before attempting a show which went narrowly wide of the target.
However, Messi didn’t make any mistake when his side won the penalty six minutes later Ansumana Fati rode through the left-wing, before his attempted cross struck Joseph Aidoo’s hand, resulting in a Barcelona penalty. The Argentine netted it comfortably to score his sixth La Liga goal and put his side in the drive’s seat.
Messi was in the thick of things again in the 32nd minute, when he found some space to curl in a shot from outside the box which was collected by Ruben Blanco. Just when it seemed Barcelona were cruising towards another goal, Celta made their presence felt.
It was the Argentine who fouled Papa Cheikh outside his side’s penalty area. Lucas Olaza stepped up to beautifully curl it into the net, bringing things level at the 42nd minute and leaving the Blaugrana looking for answers again.
But their leader stepped up with another moment of magic. After Arthur was illegally impended outside the box, Messi stepped up to superbly curl the ball into the top corner to regain parity for Barcelona heading into the half-time break.
Ousmane Dembele came on in the second half and nearly made an instant impact in the 46th minute after dribbling past a few defenders, but shooting his attempt way over the post. However, Messi sealed the three points for the hosts with another brilliant free-kick in the 48th minute.
Frenkie De Jong was fouled outside the area by Cheikh, as the Argentine duly took the set-piece and stuck it into the top corner to complete his hattrick. Fran Beltran and Pione Sisto then forced some solid saves from Marc Andre ter Stegen before the hour mark.
Messi again created a chance in the 62nd minute, when he played Antoine Griezmann through on goal but the Frenchman scuffed his chance. As Celta looked to get a goal back, Barcelona netted their own in the 85th minute.
The Blaugrana went on a counter-attack, as Messi set Dembele through, who cut it for Sergio Busquets to finish with a low drive, sealing the win for Barcelona.
Takeaways from the Game
Lio Messi is determined for another Pichichi trophy
After their disappointment in mid-week when they were held by Slavia Prague at home, but Messi led what was a defiant answer to doubters against Celta. The Argentine scored two more vintage free-kicks with utmost panache, taking his league tally for the season to eight. He created a few chances here and there, but his unbridled hunger for more goals means he won’t be stopping bagging them consistently.
Despite having played lesser games, the Argentine’s only one goal behind Karim Benzema in the top-scorers race. If this majestic showing was any proof, it won’t take him much time to race back into becoming favourite to win the Pichichi trophy again.
Celta Vigo can only get better under Oscar Garcia
Celta’s new coach Oscar Garcia returned to the Camp Nou where he once played as a Barcelona player in his first match as their new head coach. With The Sky Blues struggling to get out of the relegation zone, this crushing loss definitely wasn’t the best way for Garcia to start his career. But he has enough experience to suggest that Celta will improve under him.
Today itself they were fearless going forward, exposing the hosts' defensive vulnerabilities with some intricately created attacking moves. Garcia still doesn’t have a fully fit squad at his disposal and is only learning their best traits. Well, today could’ve helped him discover their strengths and weaknesses, giving him enough knowledge to make sure they’re a more compact, driven side going forward.
Arthur and Frenkie De Jong pivot is crucial for Barca’s success
The reason for Barcelona’s jump in form from their drab draw against Slavia Prague to such a commendable win on Saturday was they had a much smoother midfield pivot who forced them forward with more urgency. Arthur acted as a harassing driving figure for the Blaugrana, moving past midfielders with ease and forcing fouls in perfect positions for Messi’s free-kicks. He earned the free-kick which led to his captain’s second, while his creative passes opened up Celta’s defence as well.
De Jong won back possession a number of times, electrifying his side’s swift-breaks and helping form some exciting attacking moves. The young midfielders are the soul of Barca’s midfield right now and if they want to continue playing beautiful attacking football consistently, they must keep starting throughout.
It was another Lionel Messi show at the Camp Nou on Saturday, with the Barca captain bagging another hattrick. More than just his sensational goals, he was at the heart of creating every move with an incisive through-ball, bright spark of movement to urge his side forward.
Busquets also helped run the show from midfield before capping off his effective performance with a stellar finish to give the fans more joy towards the end of the game. His younger compatriot Arthur ran Celta’s midfield ragged, but his bright sparks of creative genius proved just how important the Brazilian is maintaining that wonderful attacking cohesion in the team.