Neymar struck a brilliant hat-trick to keep Barcelona still in contention for a title showdown with Real Madrid on the final day.
It wasn’t one of Barcelona’s best performances as a team, but, nevertheless, the Catalan giants dominated Las Palmas 4-1 and put up a decent show. Luis Suarez and Neymar were absolutely on fire, and led the way for Barcelona by scoring those goals.
Las Palmas looked shaky at several points, but there were times when they could’ve easily dominated Barcelona on a counter-attacking spurt.
That was evident in the second half when Pedro Bigas suddenly launched an attack and tore apart the Barcelona defence to score the only goal for his team.
However, that failed to do much for Las Palmas as Barcelona quickly regained composure and restricted the 14th-placed side to just that one goal.
Granted it wasn’t really a game against a big side, but it was an important match considering how Real Madrid was simultaneously playing Sevilla FC, and they too won with the same scoreline.
Real Madrid have one more match to go, while Barcelona will have to face Eibar. However, to even get to this place, a win was required yesterday and Neymar was only too happy to supply that.
Neymar’s first goal came in the 24th minute, following which Luis Suarez netted the second goal for the club. That took Barcelona to 2-0 before half-time, and in the second half, Neymar scored two more goals again as he completed his hattrick.
He was easily one of the better performers of the night and looked like a class act even when it came to dribbling and retaining possession. He also assisted Luis Suarez in scoring his goal, which means he was involved in all four goals scored by Barcelona.
When the season started, Sergio Busquets seemed only like a shadow of his former self. He was shaky and he failed to get much action on the ball. However, last night, he was absolutely on point as he put up a stellar performance for Barcelona.
He came in very handy after Javier Mascherano had to be ruled out with a sudden injury.
The experience and skill of Pique and Mascherano were missing from the squad, and that was when Busquets’ role in front of a young centre-back pairing became all the more significant.
Accepting the challenge, Busquets was brave and lived up to all expectations. The highlight of his performance was undoubtedly his tricky dribbling, and a pass to Andres Iniesta in the build-up ahead of the opening goal.
It wasn’t a bad performance by Messi – he was in tune with what was happening and did his part very quietly. However, his usual standards are so high that you expect at least a goal or two from him, especially on such crucial occasions.
It was a night when there was not a single assist or goal by Messi and that greatly disappointed the Barcelona fans. He did have a fairly easy chance to score in the second half, but his shot was really wide. In retrospect, that really wasn’t the only reason – he seemed demotivated and somewhat tired from the beginning.
The recent shift in Messi’s role to that of a more mature central player might be one reason because last night it seemed like he was unable to really get behind the ball in order to do some major damage against a relatively weaker Las Palmas side.
There have been times when he still had a stronger impact despite not scoring against bigger clubs, but last night saw an extremely quiet and mild side of him. Right now, there is nothing more he can do except hope to do a lot better against Eibar next week. Considering how incredible his usual performances are, last night was a bit of a let down.
Luis Enrique has found a worthy defender in Marlon Santos
Luis Enrique now knows he has a reliable young player in Santos who quietly made his league debut for Barcelona last night, but made sure people took notice of him with his brilliant performance.
The young Barcelona B team defender fit in perfectly with the Barcelona side despite the fact that it was his debut match.
His performance was all the more crucial since Gerard Pique, Aleix Vidal and Jeremy Mathieu were all sidelined for various reasons and with Sergi Roberto suspended, Javier Mascherano’s injury during warm-up was the last thing Luis Enrique needed. Santos filled in with real class, though.
In fact, he came into the side only 20 minutes before the actual game, and considering the amount of pressure on Barcelona to win this game, Santos performed very maturely. This might even lead way to a long-term future with Barcelona’s first team for the youngster.