Barça powered to 4-1 victory over Alavés in the final game of 2019 to give the players plenty to smile about as they head off for a well-earned Christmas break. The Catalans were very much the superior side, and despite a few moments of uncertainty when the visitors got back to within a goal they eventually cruised to a comfortable three points.
There was no questioning that Barça thoroughly deserved their lead when Antoine Griezmann produced a wonderful finish to do justice to a Luis Suárez assist.
Leo Messi was at his stunning best, teeing up Arturo Vidal for a bicycle kick, having a fine goal disallowed for offside, and firing just wide following a dazzling solo run.
Without even firing on all cylinders, the blaugrana were in such command that it felt inevitable that they would eventually build on their lead. And they did just that when some sweet skills from Messi and a second assist of the day for Suárez led to Vidal making it 2-0 on the edge of half-time.
Just when it looked like a routine three points at Camp Nou were on their way, Alavés sprang into action. The Basques pulled a goal back when Pere Pons powered in a header, and were even threatening to score an equaliser.
The drama was just what was needed to bring the game, the stadium and the team flashing back into life.
Messi, with a typically brilliant jiggle and strike from the edge of the area re-established the two-goal lead. That’s what the fans had come to see.
The fourth came from the penalty spot. Play was called back some time after the original incident, a handball denying Suárez in the area, and the Uruguayan himself stepped up to convert Barça’s fourth.
After Suárez had assisted all three of the earlier goals, it was justice done!
And that was it. Barça will end the year as Liga leaders unless Real Madrid are able to beat Athletic Club by five goals on Sunday night. The championship now takes a fortnight off … Next up, the derby at Espanyol on January 4.