Barcelona maintained their lead at the top of La Liga as they routed visiting Celta Viga 5-0 at Camp Nou on Saturday night.
Barcelona hosted Celta Vigo at Camp Nou on Saturday looking to climb back atop the top of the La Liga table after Real Madrid had overcome Eibar 4-1 earlier in the day. And in an emphatic response to their fierce rival’s attempts, Luis Enrique’s side handed a thumping 5-0 rout to the visitors to re-establish their one-point lead over Los Blancos.
Lionel Messi opened the scoring midway through the first half with a magnificent solo effort that saw him run 45 yards before slotting the ball into the Celta. The lead was then doubled in the 40th minute as Neymar dinked the ball over Sergio Alvarez after being set up by Messi.
Barcelona continued in the second half just like they ended the first as Ivan Rakitic made it 3-0 twelve minutes post the break before Samuel Umtiti converted from Messi’s pinpoint cross. The Argentina captain then rounded off the resounding win with yet another solo effort.
The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the talking points emerging out of an emphatic Barcelona win at Camp Nou on Saturday night.
Messi Magic Lights Up The Night
Saturday night confirmed one thing – Lionel Messi is well and truly back to his very best, and the Argentinean wizard is ready to lead Barcelona to glory this season. Sensational all through the night, and almost unplayable at times, Celta Vigo just couldn’t handle the Barcelona skipper on Saturday.
— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) March 4, 2017
Messi scored two magical goals while laying on the assists for a further two to ensure that Barcelona didn’t have to break a sweat for much of the match at Camp Nou and show for the umpteenth time just why he is considered to be one of the very best in the history of the game.
And it wasn’t just the brace of goals and assists but also the manner in which he got that simply resulted in fans and pundits alike sit mesmerized by his wizardry on the field. His first goal saw Messi dribble the ball all the way from half line – a solo run that ended with his 37th goal in his 37th appearance this season.
He followed that up with assists for Neymar and Samuel Umtiti’s goal before unleashing his best at the last, as he came up with another magnificent individual effort by cutting in from the right before calmly striking the ball low past Sergio Alvarez.
The Title Charge Is Back On
Messi’s magnificent form has also seen Barcelona roar back into contention to win La Liga this season, and how. Midway though the campaign, it was looking like Barcelona will have to contend with finishing runners up behind Real Madrid, with their bitter rivals yet to lose a game till then.
Barcelona 5-0 Celta Vigo FT:
Chances created: 14-4
Pass accuracy: 86%-75%
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 4, 2017
However, three months into 2017, and things have certainly turned around for the Blaugrana. They have not only plugged the gap on Los Blancos but have actually taken the lead in the race for the title, although Real Madrid do have a game in hand on Luis Enrique’s side.
In fact, Barcelona’s form since their last loss in the Spanish top flight goes a long way in reaffirming why they are where they are currently, with the Catalan club not losing since their 4-3 defeat to Celta back on October 2.
19 matches have been played since then. Barcelona have come up against every club in La Liga in that period and have yet to be beaten by any of them. Luis Enrique’s men have also picked up 44 of the 54 points on offer, boast of the best unbeaten league run in Europe and well and truly deserve to be on top of the table, setting up an exciting climax for the season.
Luis Enrique’s Announcement – A Catalyst For Barcelona’s Season?
Earlier this week, Luis Enrique announced that he would be stepping down from his position at the helm at Barcelona at the end of the season. That announcement came in the wake of a dominant 6-1 win over Sporting Gijon on Wednesday, and Enrique’s side backed that up with another rout on Saturday.
— Barcastuff (@barcastuff_real) March 4, 2017
There was concern that Enrique’s announcement could send Barcelona’s season spiralling with the crucial final stretch beckoning, but early signs point towards it actually kick starting the club’s campaign right when it matters the most.
Barcelona came up with their best performance all season, as they were largely untroubled for much of the game in an imperious game in which Celta could do little to influence the game. 12 games remain until the end of the season and it will be exciting to see how Enrique bows out as the Barcelona boss.
Celta Vigo Will Rue Their Wastefulness
It goes without saying the Celta Vigo were blown out of the match by Barcelona, and Messi in particular, but the visitors did have a few chances coming their way to at least deny Barcelona and Marc-Andre ter Stegen a clean sheet.
Particularly, Iago Aspas was guilty of spurning more than one clear cut chance, as he couldn’t convert the two that came his way, while a couple more half chances went abegging in the second half. While these chances would have done little to affect the result of the game, these are opportunities that should have ideally been converted.
Can Barcelona Turn It Around Against PSG?
Barcelona seem to be getting back to their best touch at just the right point in the season, as they are definitely in contention to win two titles this season, with their recent form ensuring they have roared back in the race for the La Liga title.
Emery (PSG coach) “Against Barça, you have to play as if it were the first game. They’re a team that is capable of doing a lot of things.”
— FC Barcelona Fl (@FCBarcelonaFl) March 5, 2017
They must now turn their attention towards the Champions League, though, and it’s the visiting Paris Saint-Germain up next. The French champions come into the Round of 16 second leg match at Camp Nou with a comprehensive four-goal lead over Barcelona and are heavy favourites to progress into the quarterfinals.
It has been less than three weeks since Barcelona were handed the embarrassing 4-0 defeat at the Parc des Princes. But what looked like an insurmountable lead in February does not like a done deal all of a sudden with Barcelona being the most in-form side in Europe currently.
Make no mistake, the task at hand for Luis Enrique and his charges is still unenviable, but the last two results have instilled a feeling of belief in this Barcelona side. If they can replicate their best form from the last two games, they certainly have a chance of overturning the massive deficit on Wednesday.