1. Welcome to FCB!
Arda Turan looks destined to be as big a hit at the Camp Nou as he was at the Vicente Calderón. His was just eight minutes into his Liga debut for Barça when his perfect through ball to Leo Messi was notched up as an assist. His passing was exquisite throughout his 71 minutes on the pitch, and he also played a key role with a smart dummy leading to the third goal. Today’s other league debutant, Aleix Vidal, made it look like he’s been a Barça right-back all his life. Both left the field to standing ovations.
2. Eleven plus
Luis Enrique was not wrong when he said that the two new arrivals have done wonders for squad-depth. He could afford to leave the likes of Sergio Busquets, Javier Mascherano, Andrés Iniesta and Dani Alves on the bench and yet the effects were barely noticed. Sergi Roberto was handed the role of central midfielder and did not disappoint.
The Argentinian has scored eleven goals in eight games against Granada, and he got three of those this afternoon. For the first two he beat the offside trap to perfection to collect assists from Arda and Luis Suárez, and the third was also about being in the right place at the right time. But we’ve got so used to Messi scoring goals that the only real surprise was that that was his first Liga hat-trick of the season! A last minute reminder for Ballon d’Or voters, perhaps?
4. Granada’s gamble
Unlike most managers that come to the Camp Nou, José Ramón Sandoval opted not to order his players just to sit back and defend. But starting with two strikers didn’t pay off, it just gave the Barça frontline more room for manoeuvre, and Messi had already netted twice in the first quarter of an hour.
A run of four games without a goal ended on Wednesday in the Copa del Rey against Espanyol for Barça’s other Ballon d’Or candidate. In the win over Granada the Brazilian was back on the scoresheet with a beautifully taken goal to round off the 4-0 win. Previously, he was involved in two of Messi’s three goals, the Barça number 11 producing an excellent all round performance before heading off to Zurich on Monday for the Ballon d’Or gala.