Barça were trailing throughout much of the match thanks to the early goal scored by JosebaLlorenteon 16 minutes. The Argentine stepped up when his team needed him the most – as he usually does – and netted twice within the span of five minutes to give his team the lead and the eventual victory. Without a doubt, El Sadar lived up to its reputation of being a prickly and tough place for the Azulgranas to show their best form. In fact, the last game Barça lost on the road in La Liga was in Pamplona (2011/12 season), which makes Messi’s performance tonight all the sweeter. The Argentine has scored a whopping five goals in FC Barcelona’s three official matches of the season, and this was his second brace in as many La Liga matches. It may be too early to judge whether or not last season’s 50-goal record will come under threat from the diminutive three-time Ballon d’Or winner, but he’s certainly off to a flying start.
The Catalan keeper was key Barça’s victory tonight. Valdés is rarely called upon to make as many saves as the opposing team’s keeper – thanks to his defence and Barça’s style of play – but when he must put himself in between the ball and his goal he usually responds with lightning-quick reflexes. At El Sadar the keeper, after Llorente fired Osasuna ahead early in the first half, stood tall in goal and held Barça’s opponent to one goal with brilliant saves long enough for his team to turn the game around.
If Barça’s flair is provided by the likes of Iniesta, Messi, Tello, et. al. then the consistency is provided by Sergio Busquets. The Catalan midfielder once again brought an even-keel and cool-headed approach to Barça’s midfield which allowed Alexis, Messi and Iniesta (and then Xavi) to double down on their efforts in the creative department.
The manager has won all three of his official matches as FC Barcelona’s head coach (RealSociedad, Real Madrid, and Osasuna). As he watched his team struggle to bounce back from Llorente’s early goal he gave commands from the sidelines – urging Jordi Alba to make his presence felt farther up the pitch, interchanging Tello and Alexis on the wings, and encouraging Messi to drop to the midfield – but his master stoke was to send in Pedro, Xavi, and Villa for Cesc, Iniesta and Tello. After the substitutions the game changed. Barça had more presence going forward and things started to click. The crescendo came in a play that involved Villa, Xavi and Alba in the build-up to Messi’s second goal.