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Even Ronald Koeman admitted at the end of 2020 that Barça’s title chances were very, very slim. But the way the team has been playing this New Year, nothing is out of the question. Today’s emphatic display in Granada was the fourth away win in a row for the blaugrana, and the two Madrid clubs will be very concerned indeed to feel the Catalans breathing right over their shoulders.
Barça dominated from start to finish. They went ahead early doors, and in curious fashion. At first Antoine Griezmann looked clearly offside. But the ball had come to him from a very clear deflection off Granada defender Soldado. It was time to test the match officials’ knowledge of the rulebook and the answer was the one we wanted… The goal was legal and Barça were one ahead after just 12 minutes.
And they were very good value for their lead. There’s been some sweet football so far in 2021, and there was plenty more of it here. Ter Stegen was not completely untested, but Barça were very much on top.
There were two more goals to enjoy before the break … and both from the same magnificent source.
Two for Messi
Leo Messi. Naturally. On 35 minutes, the Argentinian slammed a Griezmann assist into the top corner. A goal that makes him the outright top goalscorer in the league. Who said he’s lost his touch in front of goal? Clearly not!
Seven minutes later, the same man silenced the cynics who’ve also been suggesting he’s lost the art of free kicks. It was a trick he’s done before… opting to stroke the ball under the wall rather than around or over it. Slotted perfectly inside the post that was 3-0, and Messi reminding us all that he’s still the greatest footballer on the planet.
Goal four was Made in France. Ousmane Dembélé with the cheekiest of flop assists, and Griezmann with sublime control and the coolest of angled finishes. Barça were showboating and it was wonderful to watch.
If it wasn’t already, now it certainly was game over. Koeman even allowed himself the luxury of bringing Messi off for some well-earned rest. For further comfort, Granada were reduced to ten by a last-man tackle by Juan Vallejo on Messi's replacement, Martin Braithwaite.
Going into the game, Granada were seventh in the league and one of the most in-form sides. But they barely got a look-in today. It was Barça all the way. All the way to three more points for the rapidly growing collection, and a huge boost for the players who’ll soon be heading straight back to Andalusia for the Spanish Super Cup.
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