- Copy link
FC Barcelona have got 2022 off to the perfect start with a 1-0 win in the Balearic Islands, Luuk de Jong heading in the only goal of the game moments before half-time.
And while several of Barça’s direct rivals started the year with poor results, it means the blaugrana have flown up to fifth position in the league, leap-frogging Rayo Vallecano and Real Sociedad and moving to within a single point of fourth placed Atlético Madrid.
It is testament to Barça’s incredible strength in depth that despite all the injuries, Covid and suspensions to work around, Xavi was still able to field a more than decent starting XI for this game – and even greater testament that the team was able to overcome all the difficulties and produce a winning performance.
Luuk de Jong’s huge 45 minutes
Right from the start it was Barça, wearing light blue, who were doing all the talking, while Mallorca were struggling to get a word in edgeways. Of the many early chances the best two fell to Luuk de Jong. Both of those ended up striking the woodwork, the second a spectacular scissors kick onto the crossbar.
And on the edge of half time, it was the Dutchman who capped a fine 45 minutes by putting Barça into a much deserved lead. Óscar Mingueza whipped in the cross and De Jong rose at the far post to head in exactly the kind of goal that he was brought to the club to score.
It was also Barça’s seventh headed goal of the league season – a category where the team does not traditionally excel.
As the game progressed we got to see more and more of the home side, but there was very little to truly trouble Ter Stegen as Barça continued to dominate what was often a rather scrappy game.
Late in the second half we got to see a double debut. First, Álvaro Sanz came on for Nico, and shortly after Estanis Pedrola, the youngster who arrived from Reus in the summer, replaced one of Barça’s standout performers of the day, Ilias Akhomach.
The duo entered the fray in a game that had very much become of case of grinding out the result rather than a dazzling finale.
In injury time, the islanders very nearly snatched an equaliser when Jaume Costa caught the ball brilliantly on the volley. But Ter Stegen was at hand to save the day and Barça could celebrate three absolutely crucial points to get the new year off to a fabulous start.
- Copy link