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FC Barcelona have collected yet another three points in what is turning out to be a quite extraordinary league season. Seven wins in a row, eight points clear at the top of the table, and yet another clean sheet in a record-breaking campaign in defence.
Cadiz were seen off to the tune of a 2-0 win. Breaking down another side that’s very well drilled at the back was not easy, and even when they were two goals down, the Andalusians kept battling. But although this was by no means a simple game, the three points never really looked in serious doubt.
And that was without the injured Pedri or the suspended Ronald Araujo. It was time for other players to make their presence felt, and the man who did that most, and whose name was rightly chanted by the fans, was Ferran Torres. This was his night.
In probably his best performance since joining Barça, especially in the first half, Torres was taking on one, two, three or more defenders at a time, and his confidence seemed to be growing each time.
It truly was a delight to behold. Especially when his most astonishing run of all led to Barça’s first goal. He jingled and jangled his way through the sea of yellow shirts and topped it with the perfect pass to Andreas Christensen. The Dane’s shot was blocked but Sergi Roberto was there to pump home the rebound and Barça were finally off the mark.
The all-important second
Cadiz may have had Roger Marti’s goal disallowed for the narrowest of offsides, but other than that it had been all Barça until then, and there was no question that the lead was more than deserved.
The deadlock broken, Barça were able to extend their lead before the break. Even Xavi was ready to admit before this game that Robert Lewandowski has gone a bit off the boil of late. In case anybody had forgotten, his fifteenth league goal of the season was a reminder of how good he is.
A brilliant goal didn’t look half as brilliant as it was because the Pole has such an uncanny knack of making the difficult look so easy.
Building up two-goal cushions has been a problem for Barça of late, so it was great to feel a real party atmosphere going on in a Spotify Camp Nou that could afford to sit back and relax a little.
With all the old classics being sung on the terraces, the job looked done and dusted. The players could also afford to ease things in the second half, with both Lewandowski and Frenkie de Jong being withdrawn, no doubt with the trip to Old Trafford on coach Xavi’s mind.
It also meant the chance for 18-year-old Angel Alarcon, who already made hid senior debut against Ceuta in the Copa del Rey, to come on for his first minutes in La Liga.
Next stop, Manchester
The gambles ultimately paid off, but that’s not to say that Cadiz didn’t have their chances. Ter Stegen got a superb hand to a huge chance for Chris Ramos, Anthony Lozano headed onto the woodwork and Roger Marti had a second goal of the night chalked off, this time for an earlier foul on the Barça keeper.
But Barça hung on for an astonishing 17th clean sheet in 22 games, and with just seven goals conceded thus, that equals the all-time record at this stage of a season.
FC Barcelona’s La Liga position is healthier than ever. In the Europa League things are somewhat more delicate. There’s a big job to be done against Manchester United on Thursday, but the team is clearly more than ready for the challenge. Bring it on!
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