Barcelona is back with a bang after almost a century days of break, and we managed to scrap a great victory, thanks to a vintage Messi performance and a relatively poor performance from Mallorca.
The announced lineup to the game was a surprise, nobody expected Ronald Araujo, Vidal, and Braithwaite to start, and honestly, it worked a treat as all of them performed exceptionally well.
Not long after the kickoff, we were already put ahead as De Jong made an excellent ball retrieval in a dangerous area before Vidal put it in the back of the net following a great cross from Jordi Alba. For majority of the first half, we didn’t capitalize on Mallorca’s poor defending. Roberto’s runs on the right didn’t prove fruitful until after a few minutes of crazy confusion and holding breath in; Messi took a huge risk heading the ball to Braithwaite, who smashed it home giving us a two-goal lead to carry in the second half.
Mallorca started the second half pretty much on the front foot; they created a couple of great scoring opportunities but were denied by Ter Stegen. But, they managed to lose their shape 70′ onward, making it easier for Messi to set up Alba with a beautiful long ball before he rounded it off in the bottom left corner in style. It looked like that’s it for the night, but Messi kept us on our toes right till the end before he surprised us with a marvelous finish.
The attack and defense department was working well, but the midfield was pretty much non-existent and didn’t contribute much during attack or defense. They left huge spaces behind and didn’t cover much ground, nor did they help with chance creation. This sort of disaster class from midfield against top teams and we’d suffer another Roma or Liverpool.
I’m not quite sure if it’s due to players being so long off the game or Mallorca’s high defensive line, either way though, Setien needs to address this issue.
Players Review and Rating:
Lionel Messi (10/10): Right from the start, this man was on a mission, and he wrecked Mallorca with 1 goal and 2 assists. He radiated energy and hunger for the whole game. The quarantine hasn’t affected him much, and by the way, growing out his hair and returning to his 2009 look really suits him.
Gerard Pique (9/10): Calm, composed and helped retain and recycle the ball, and defended exceptionally well. Second best player on the pitch.
Braithwaite (8/10): I wasn’t really impressed with this signing and thought it was another deadwood in the team but, not anymore since he made runs behind the defense, kept defenders on their toes pressing right from the start till the final blow and got his first goal of many to come for us. He has all the good traits that can help you strive in Blaugrana jersey.
Ter Stegen (7/10): He came out on top, saving everything Mallorca threw at him. Looks fit and ready.
Ronald Araujo (7/10): Athough the defense wasn’t really tested; he made an excellent first impression for a healthy start at Barcelona. Of course, there were several occasions in which he wasn’t positioned well and beaten by Kubo, but he does look promising.
Other players were average, as none of them did anything worthy of praise and were static for majority of the game.
As for final words, we won this much not because we played attacking football but because of the individual brilliance of Messi. Though this was expected due to the players being off the pitch for too long, and my guess is we need 2-3 games before the players regain chemistry and collectively display a dominant attractive performance. Until the next preview, stay safe.