Barcelona came from behind to emerge 2-1 victors against a solid Getafe side, and it puts the Catalans seven points clear of Real Madrid.
Denis Suarez and Paulinho both came off the bench to turn the game around for Barcelona, but Getafe put up a solid performance and could take plenty of positives from the game.
Here are the five main subjects that warrant food for thought after Saturday’s clash:
Paulinho Announces Arrival
On 14th August 2017, Barcelona announced the signing of Paulinho for €40 million from Guangzhou Evergrande.
The football world went berserk and trolled both the player and the club mercilessly on social media, while Barcelona fans were almost in a state of panic, wondering why the club had signed a ‘Tottenham Hotspur flop’ and what he could possibly bring to the Catalan plate.
Last night, against Getafe, the Brazilian answered everything and, impressively so, in a span of just the thirteen minutes that he was on the pitch. The former Corinthians midfielder came on for Ivan Rakitic in the 77th minute with the game still very much in the balance, and showcased all his attributes that justify his starting place in the Brazilian national side.
Lionel Messi slipped in a typical Messi-esque pass through the center and, for a brief moment, one couldn’t imagine that Paulinho would have the pace or the strength to latch onto the ball.
He had both.
It was time for him to announce his arrival at Barcelona as he shrugged, almost bullied his way past Bjene and then launched an unstoppable shot into the far corner. It was indeed a tremendous goal.
For all his critics, Paulinho is in fact a very good player. A box-to-box midfielder, he has the pace and the strength to bulldoze his way through midfield and, as he showcased last night, he is not a bad finisher either.
In fact, he could play a crucial role for Barcelona as Iniesta may not be able to play week in-week out when fixtures come thick and fast on the football calendar.
With Busquets and Rakitic protecting Barca’s back four, Paulinho has the license to push himself up the field and help out in attack. Especially in the big games against Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, Paulinho could be an extremely influential player for the Catalans because of his robust nature.
Where are Suarez’s magic boots?
In his 5 games so far this season, Suarez has scored 2 goals. However, that is hardly a reflection of the Uruguayan’s performances. Again last night, Suarez looked way off the pace for the most part.
There was an instance in the second half when Barcelona were on the counter, and as Getafe were back-peddling, Suarez was through on goal with about 25 yards ahead of him to run into.
The moment the ball was released towards Suarez, you expected him to do the rest. But the 30-year old’s first touch was uncharacteristically poor, allowing the Getafe players to get goal-side of him.
In sport, and particularly in football, what separates the wheat from the chaff is the magic that a player possesses. Probably that’s where Neymar edges Eden Hazard. And that’s precisely where Thierry Henry and Luis Suarez beat every other striker of the last decade.
While one might argue that it’s still early doors, and two goals in five games isn’t that bad a start, the concern is not the goals at all, but his overall quality of performance. Playing in this strong Barcelona side, scoring goals is never going to be a problem, not for Suarez anyway.
With Neymar gone, if Barcelona are serious about going all the way in the Champions league, Luis Suarez must find his feet again and assist Lionel Messi, who is playing in a league of his own at the moment.
Barcelona’s Squad Depth Showcased
Surprisingly, Ernesto Valverde made no changes to the side that thumped Juventus 3-0 in the Champions league on Tuesday. Andres Iniesta had played five games in the space of fifteen days before last night, and so he was expected to be given a breather.
While Valverde had the option of both Andre Gomes and Paulinho, he chose to name an unchanged side. Barcelona were on a four game winning streak, and it gives a sneak peak into the manager’s mindset, who clearly does not like to fiddle with a winning formula.
Eventually, he was forced into an early substitution owing to Dembele’s injury, and later in the second half, he made two changes that turned out to be match-winning. It proved that Barcelona have decent depth in their squad, but Valverde likes to rely on substitutions rather than rotations.
Getafe came into this game on the back of an impressive win against Leganes, and although Barcelona are a different quality of opposition, the home side started from where they’d left off the previous weekend.
Gaku Shibasaki scored an absolute screamer in the first half – a definite contender for goal of the season – and Getafe fought incredibly hard to preserve the lead until Barcelona equalized.
Not only that, they even weaved a chance to equalize in the dying stages of the game, a testament to their effort and audacity to take the game to Barcelona.
Even though they have four points from as many games so far, the newly promoted side look hellbent on staying in the La Liga and, performances like these will ensure that they do.
Barcelona Title Favorites Already?
With four games played, Barcelona already have a seven point lead on rivals Real Madrid. Considering Real Madrid win their match later tonight, Barca will still have a four-point advantage. In the Premier league, the point table has little significance four weeks into the season.
But in La Liga, a league dominated mostly by two massive clubs, a four-point advantage is certainly big, if not mammoth, as the margin for error in this league is negligible.
Barcelona are not putting a single foot wrong at the moment and, if Real Madrid do not get their act together soon, one would imagine that Barcelona will make no mistake in running away with the La Liga title this season.