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La Liga: Round 26

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Photo credit: Lluis Gene/Getty Images

FC Barcelona 5-0 RC Celta de Vigo

Lineups:

FC Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Rafinha, Roberto, Busquets, Rakitić; Messi, Suárez, Neymar. (3-4-3)

RC Celta de Vigo: Álvarez; Mallo, Cabral, Gómez, Roncaglia, Jonny; Radoja, Wass, Bongonda; Aspas, Guidetti. (5-3-2)

FC Barcelona have been able to take advantage of the lack of consistency by Real Madrid in terms of getting results. Barcelona have won their six last La Liga games and scored 24 goals on that stretch. But Barcelona have not been able to convince collectively. The 4-0 defeat against Paris-Saint Germain in the Uefa Champions League set up the alarms at Barcelona. Since that dramatic lost, Luis Enrique ended up establishing the 3-4-3 scheme in the team. A tactical movement that gave offensive dynamism back to Barcelona. RC Celta de Vigo witnessed it in this game.

This type of lineup helped Barcelona in their short-passing game and build-ups. Samuel Umtiti and Gerard Piqué were the ones in charge to help Sergio Busquets to be the nucleus of every offensive transition. That allowed Lionel Messi to spend more time helping up front in the roles of right winger and false “9.” Sergi Roberto balanced his duties on defense and offense. Rafinha had the chance to drag rivals as a wide midfielder through the right wing. Ivan Rakitić, the X-factor in this scheme, anticipated to every rival’s pass or build-up to intercept them. It was all about quick ball-recovery, long and short possessions and creating different paths to attack.

Barcelona elaborated a fantastic collective play to score the first goal of the game in the 24th minute. Messi received a semi-elevated pass from Busquets, then he turned his body to leave one defender behind and drove the ball through the middle to make a diagonal cut to the left and send a long shot to the left corner of the net. In this goal, it was crucial how Luis Suárez held Jonny from catching Messi. That left more space for Messi to have a better angle on the shot.

It is also important to notice the fantastic game by Neymar. He constantly completed his take-ons on his personal mark. Celta de Vigo suffered every time Neymar beat his rival on the dribbles through the left wing. In the second goal, Messi sent a through pass to Neymar. The Brazilian smoothly scored the goal with an elegant chip shot.

Barcelona continued their showcase in the second half. The main protagonist of this showcase was Messi, who participated on each of the five goals. In the second half, after Neymar drag three rivals on a take-on, Messi received the ball and passed it to Rafinha. The Brazilian could not control it but ended up assisting Rakitić in the third goal – it was offside. Messi sent a well-measured assist to Umtiti in the fourth goal. Then Messi closed up the game in the 64th minute after he dribbled the ball through the right wing and left  Gustavo Cabral behind to score the goal with his left foot.

Barcelona might have found the formula to face the rest of the season in the best possible way. Their hope is that the 3-4-3 scheme would be the key to make the miracle comeback against PSG in the Uefa Champions League on Wednesday.

About Jose Sanchez

Journalism student at the University of Florida. Venezuelan and future sports journalist.

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