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Messi scores Barça's second goal in Saturday's 2–0 derby win over cross-town rivals RCD Espanyol. / MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

1. Red-hot start

FC Barcelona knew the importance of a derby win to stay atop the table and came out scorching in a meteoric first 15 minutes with 85% of possession. Barça’s blazing start yielded Neymar’s 17th minute goal.


2. The trident — Messi, Suárez, and Neymar

With Neymar on the loose the Espanyol defence quivered with fear. Lionel Messi scored the second goal by beating Kiko Casilla from the tightest of angles and also hit the post on 56 minutes. Luis Suárez also deserves a special mention for his ferocity on attack and his passing game.


3. Ball movement

FC Barcelona had six shots on goal in the first half while setting the pace of play with clockwork-like passing and ball control. After going up 2–0 before the break, Barça spent the remainder of the half playing keep away from an Espanyol that did nothing but chase.


4. Containment

The key to keeping Espanyol at bay was Barça’s near-total possession. After the two goals, Espanyol tried to stretch the field, but ran into Barça’s compact midfield and well-positioned central defenders Piqué and Mascherano. After the break, Espanyol’s intensity increased slightly, but hey didn’t get their first shot on target until 68 minutes, just after the expulsion of Jordi Alba. Bravo saved Espanyol’s clearest chance of the match — a shot by Stuani — in the 85th.


5. Xavi’s 500th appearance

The FC Barcelona captain continues to make history. Today, after replacing Andrés Iniesta on 87 minutes, the Barça midfielder played his 500th league game for the Club. During that time he has scored 57 goals, made 96 assists and won seven titles.


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