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Barça have made it seven wins in a row in all competitions, and they did so with a performance on a par with so many of the other incredible nights in the team’s recent history.
Leo Messi was at his brilliant best, but the whole team gelled in a game that was about attacking football from start to finish, with moments of sheer class, skill and total spectacle. And much as the 5-1 result is in no way flattering to Valladolid, today's guests were anything but an easy opponent.
This was not a game about Valladolid playing bad. Far from it, they were excellent. But Barça were playing football from another universe.
Amazingly, 23 days have passed since the Camp Nou last hosted a football match. But the fans didn't have to wait long to celebrate the first goal.
Barça have been scoring early of late and tonight was no exception. Valladolid’s first touch of the ball was a botched clearance that bounded into the path of Clement Lenglet. The Frenchman connected and the ball bounced off a defender and the crossbar before landing in the net.
We had barely started and Barça were already a goal to the good, and from there the blaugrana went on to dominate. But on the quarter hour the visitors managed to equalise with a not too dissimilar goal of their own. Ter Stegen blocked a free kick only for the ball to ricochet back past him off Valladolid centre back Kiko Olivas.
Enter Leo Messi
Barça refused to let the goal affect them and were soon restoring their deserved lead when Arturo Vidal whooshed into space to meet the sweetest of balls from Messi. The Chilean got enough foot onto the ball to confound former Barça goalie Jordi Masip, and that was 2-1.
That was class, and there was more class to come moments later. Free kick in Messi territory. For some players, finding the top corner is as much a case of luck as it is of judgment. Not with Messi. He knew exactly where he wanted that ball to go. And it went there.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was his fiftieth career goal from a direct free kick. That’s not chance. That’s skill. An unreal kind of skill. 3-1.
Some players would be happy to finish their career with fifty goals of any kind!
Suárez moves up to fourth
Messi was full of tricks tonight, including a cheeky nutmeg that will already be doing the rounds on social media, and when he finally delivered another goal, it was another beauty – flicking the ball with his thigh and meeting it with a volley to score the kind of goal that once only existed in comic strips. Then Messi came along to do these kinds of things for real.
Moments later, Messi was at it again, this time with an assist for Luis Suárez, who had already been denied one goal for being just the tiniest of smidgens offside. El Pistolero connected perfectly with Messi’s service and that was 5-1 and the Uruguayan now the fourth highest goalscorer in Barça history. Wow. And he has now scored against all 27 of the different Liga teams he has ever faced. Double wow.
Vintage Barça. A joy to watch. Playing like this, we could have a lot of VERY nice things to look forward to this season. Next up, Levante at the weekend... Bring it on!
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