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Barça produced a tremendous display on Tuesday night to defeat Real Valladolid and collect three points to stay tight on the heels of the frontrunners in the Liga title chase. But it was not just the about the three points, it was also about the way they were won.
Ronald Koeman has always insisted that the changes will take time to show. Tonight they certainly did. It was a truly vintage performance from the blaugrana, dressed in pink this evening.
Lenglet heads home
Regarding changes, the main talking point prior to the game was the gaffer’s decision to field three centre backs (Ronald Araujo, Clement Lenglet and Oscar Mingueza), and it was one of those, Lenglet, whp opened the scoring after 20 minutes. Leo Messi provided the ball and the Frenchman headed home.
The Catalans had been keeping former Barça stopper Jordi Masip on his toes right from the kick-off. He’d produced a brilliant save to deny Messi moments before, but a Barça goal had always looked on the cards.
Barça on fire
So did a second, and that’s what we got after 35 minutes. Messi’s through ball to Sergiño Dest was simply fabulous, and the American laid up for Martin Braithwaite, picked ahead of Antoine Griezmann today, to tap home.
Valladolid were doing nothing wrong. Barça were just doing it much, much better. It looked solid, fresh and confident. It was the Barça we all know and love. Frenkie de Jong and Miralem Pjanic were doing a wonderful job keeping a highly active Messi supplied with balls, Pedri was belying his young age … All round it was very convincing performance indeed. Flawless.
It was Messi, De Jong and Pedri who combined for the third goal. It looked like something straight off a videogame screen, including a delightful back-heel from the Canary Islander and a wonderfully composed finish from the Argentine.
Again it was nothing less than Barça deserved. Valladolid needed goals and did come looking for them, and Ter Stegen was called upon more than once to show his typical brilliance... But Barça were always on top. And so was Messi, on top of none other than the great Pelé with a historic 644 goals for Barça, the most that ANYBODY has EVER scored for the same club!
The game was won, but Barça pushed on in search of more. A fourth goal seemed inevitable, but Philippe Coutinho hit the post, moments later Messi did as well… and it ended 3-0.
All in all, a truly majestic ninety minutes of football from FC Barcelona. A pleasure to watch and surely there’s plenty more where that came from! The next game is on the other side of Christmas, Eibar at the Camp Nou (Tuesday 29 December) … Bring it on!
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