With the curse of Balaidos finally brought to an end, Barcelona have come back and made a statement on what this new era is going to be like. With Cules pleased with the performance put up by Barca, they seem to have instilled new confidence after a strong start to this season, starting with a 4-0 victory against Villareal and a 3-0 victory against Celta de Vigo. Here’s what our editors have to say about the team’s performance:
Syed Abuzar: “Balaidos conquered, that too with style.”
Winning an away match convincingly that too at Balaidos, and with rain and wind pouring down, this was quite a performance.
The match started a bit slow, but from the start, Barca had a gameplan. Pressing was done higher on the pitch, and Celta were forced to make mistakes and rush their passes. The intensity on the press was commendable. The goal arrived when Busquets was on the edge of the box and played a ball inside. The ball eventually ended up in the goal after a great first touch and a finish from Fati. He was among the most influential players in the first half.
The half ended with a soft red card to Lenglet and Barca were forced to sacrifice Griezmann for Araujo to come in. Griezmann playing on the RW was isolated and didn’t impress. The second half started with a bang as Messi grew into the game. Coutinho combined with him very well. Coutinho was the best player on the pitch today along with Messi.
Busquets improved from the last goal and had a good game along with De Jong. Alba was covering the left flank very well, but the right one was isolated as neither Griezmann nor Roberto had a good game. But, Roberto cleared 3 crucial crosses and saved us at the back. Finally, he finished the game and his capped his performance with a goal.
The best thing about this performance was the hunger players are playing with. Despite being a man down, Barca pushed for another, and that proves Koeman is working with this team very well. We can hope this continues.
MOTM – Coutinho. He has been good since the start of the season. Most of the people wrote him off and said he would not fit in Barca. But he has shown he can do wonders with this team. His link-up play with everyone was top-notch, and he was involved whenever Barca was initiating an attack.
Sahil: “A game to remember for Barcelona.”
This game was truly sensational in every aspect. We achieved so many objectives through this game. First was we broke the 5-year-old Balaidos curse. We kept a clean sheet, we scored thrice, and the team performed really well. The lineup was the same since this was a tricky away fixture and it didn’t make any sense to change the eleven. The team started on a strong foot since the start. Celta did initiate high press, but the team was able to find solutions on a regular basis. In the final third, as usual, Koeman opted for left side overload. The team made constant one-touch passes, and we’re positionally fluid. In order to create more tension, they flooded the final third with 6 players. The goal from Fati was a start to lethal destruction. After Lenglet red card, it was expected that the team might slip up, but the second-half performance was even more energetic. This was the exact opposite for Celta. Oscar Garcia had a chance to introduce more offensive game, they did, but the organization was really bad. This paved the path for Barcelona to cause destruction in transitions. It went all downhill for Celta as minute by minute, Barcelona was becoming more dangerous. They never found any solution to stop them from scoring. The night was ended by Sergi Roberto who scored a rocket onto the top of the net which was the third goal of the night for Barcelona. All in all, the team and the decisions taken by the coach we’re accurate and Barcelona now have scored 7 goals and conceded nil in two games of the La Liga season.
MOTM: Busquets for me, shades of vintage Busquets seen last night. He was Barca’s player who covered most ground, covering 11.4 Kms in the game, constantly finding solutions and passing lanes. He hasn’t seemed this mobile in a long time, maybe a change in tactical role assignment did the job.
Sweta: “Barcelona shines amidst bad refereeing.”
As if 4-0 win against Villarreal wasn’t enough to please Barca fans, Koeman delivered even better team performance with 3-0 win against Celta Vigo at Estadio de Baladios, the cursed stadium for Barcelona. We hadn’t been able to win 6 away games at Baladios, losing out 3 previous games. What’s key about Koeman is, with every game, Barcelona look less dependent on Messi, which enables Messi to stride more forward and be in that goal scoring position. They are quick in the build-up from the 1st minute. They don’t go with useless side passes, wasting time. One of the key player fitting well in this Koeman’s plan is, Coutinho. Coutinho has been brilliant at midfielder position; he’s quick, confident, skilled and is consistently working to create chances. Fati scored the opener which makes us wonder why there’s the need of signing number 9 from some other club. He’s going to do even great in upcoming days. Messi has more freedom now, and he’s doing great as well. He was key in the second goal, which was his own goal, and he had later netted one, which was controversially called offside.
The referee had few moments which we can definitely point out. Lenglet was sent off with the second yellow for an elbow to Denis Suarez which was undeserving according to many football fans, including me. That definitely was a foul, but it wasn’t that harsh to get yellow to eventually getting sent off. Messi’s goal for offside call also looked close one. But, the referee didn’t get a second look to check that goal. It’s questionable because we have seen how there’s Var intervention when Real Madrid are in need of a goal. Consistency is the key, and with every game, it just seems wrong. Nevertheless, Barcelona is doing great under Koeman, Neto is filling the void of Stegen brilliantly, and almost every player is working very hard to bring the best from the team.
There’s definitely good days ahead for Barcelona.
Visca el Barca.
MOTM: Messi. Messi created the second goal out of nowhere, and he was consistently creating chances; that third goal should have stood, it was wrongly called offside, and the final goal by Roberto also came from Messi’s effort.
Conroy: “The jinx is finally broken at Balaidos.”
Well, Koeman really seems to be the real deal for Barcelona. The Dutch mastermind has a 100% record so far in La Liga ever since taking over managerial duties in the summer.
The Barça faithful know what a daunting task it is to grab a win at Celta Vigo’s home, Abanca Balaidos. For the past five league games, Barça has never won away at Celta, but this team under Koeman just updated that statistic.
Spanish wonder kid, Ansu Fati was at it again as he scored to give the visitors the lead. Koeman’s popular formation 4-2-3-1 has been proving ever so decisive, and the players are adapting to this with ease. Coutinho again was brilliant and definitely looked to be getting his Brazilian magic back. Knowing Celta’s style of playing on the counter, the first half didn’t go the way they would have wanted to. Just when we thought Barça was in control, a second yellow card to Lenglet just before the break forced the Catalan’s onto the back foot, but they held onto their one-goal lead.
As the rain poured down in Galicia, Barça looked to be playing eye-catching football even with a man down. Messi and his magic, forced an own goal giving Barça a 2-0 lead in this tough fixture. Dominating the first 30 mins of the second half Barça deserved to walk away comfortable winners in the tie. As the game progressed, Celta forced a path trying to get back with constant counter-attacks, and they had a few chances, but Neto managed to keep his posts in check. Messi could easily have scored a couple at the other end as well. Coutinho looked lively throughout the game; he only needed a goal, to sum up, his brilliant performance. Finally, Sergi Roberto sealed the tie in extra time with a crisp volley as the ball scrambled in the box.
With the team delivering performances like today, it is fair to say that Koeman is getting the Blaugrana on the right track. The confidence in the players and the motivation all around the squad looks bright.
MOTM: Philippe Coutinho, his involvement in the game was amazing. Koeman has given him the freedom to play to his style, and it is visible that the team is not totally dependable on Messi. It’s time for the big names to step up and shine. Coutinho is one of them.