Barcelona continued their perfect start to the season as they handed a thumping 6-1 loss to Eibar at Camp Nou on Tuesday
Barcelona maintained their firm stranglehold at the top of La Liga, as they enjoyed an emphatic 6-1 win over Eibar at Camp Nou on Tuesday. The game started slowly for the hosts as chances came few and far between, but it sprung into life in the 20th minute when Nelson Semedo was brought down in the Eibar box.
Lionel Messi converted from the resulting spot kick, upon which Barcelona asserted their dominance in the match. Eighteen minutes after Messi’s opener, the lead was doubled by the hosts as Paulinho struck a goal for the second game running.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 19, 2017
Denis Suarez then grabbed a third for Ernesto Valverde’s men before Sergi Enrich pulled one back for the visitors. However, Messi turned on the style thereafter, finding the back of the net three more times to complete the resounding win.
With five wins in five, Barcelona extended their lead at the top of the table to five points, leading bitter rivals Real Madrid by seven. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule of Ernesto Valverde’s men after yet another positive result.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 8/10
A relatively quiet night for the Barcelona number one. But, ter Stegen still had to remain alert on a number of occasions to keep the visitors at bay, especially early on in the match as Eibar kicked off the proceedings brighter of the two sides.
In particular, the German shot-stopper made three superb saves Sergi Enrich and Takashi Inui (twice). Ter Stegen did end up conceding a goal early on in the second half, but he stood no chance during the sequence. All in all a standout performance from the German.
Nelson Semedo: 8/10
The Portuguese defender continues going from strength to strength at Camp Nou, reinforcing Ernesto Valverde’s choice of picking him as the belated heir to Dani Alves. On Tuesday, in fact, Semedo went another step ahead in proving that he’s nothing short of an inspired signing for Barcelona.
Semedo delivering a brilliant performance once again. pic.twitter.com/PfgdR7EJ9O
— BarçaSpiral (@BarcaSpiral) September 19, 2017
Solid and reliable at the back, his ability to track back with pace and defend with energy kept things quiet on the right side of defence for the large part. But, it was in the final third where Semedo made the most impact, marauding down the right flank, and capping off his performance by winning the penalty for the opener. A true delight.
Gerard Pique: 6/10
Like all of his partners at the back, Pique had a quiet night and was a mere spectator as the teammates in front of him dominated the proceedings. The Spaniard was largely a solid customer on the night, winning most of his duels in the air, while blocking and intercepting a few attempts as well.
But, he was guilty of letting Sergi Enrich get past him rather easily to score the consolation goal for Eibar. Additionally, as the match wore on he let his guard down slightly to give the opposition attackers a slight sniff at goal, although it didn’t come to anything eventually.
Javier Mascherano: 7/10
A mere bit-part player at Barcelona now, Mascherano was making his first appearance for the Catalans since the season opening win over Real Betis. Despite not being a regular at the back for Barcelona though, the Argentine was a solid customer for large parts of the match, while also playing out the balls well.
He is unlikely to usurp the impressive Samuel Umtiti from the heart of the Barcelona defence anytime soon, but Tuesday’s performance suggests that Ernesto Valverde has a reliable backup in Mascherano whenever he needs to delve into the firepower in reserves.
Lucas Digne: 7/10
Another player who rarely gets to stitch a run of games together, Digne turned in an impressive performance on the night, proving himself to be a reliable understudy to Jordi Alba. Unspectacular, but effective in his duties, the Frenchman was solid at the back containing the opposition threat well.
His impact on the other end of the pitch was subdued indeed as he missed a one-on-one opportunity, but the lack of sharpness in the final third can perhaps be attributed to not getting an extended run of games.
Much lamented upon his shock arrival at Barcelona last month, Paulinho has gone a long way in proving his naysayers wrong over the last few days. The Brazilian had earned his first start for the Catalan club after scoring the winner against Getafe on the weekend, and his performance on Tuesday further went on to vindicate his signing.
Paulinho in LaLiga for Barcelona:
3 aerial duels won
Proving his worth. 👊 pic.twitter.com/TJJMrypnED
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 20, 2017
He first scored his second goal for Barcelona in the first half before working well with Lionel Messi in the build up to Denis Suarez’s strike. Paulinho then rounded off his performance by assisting Messi’s third goal. All in all, another impressive outing as he remained a constant threat in attack while being solid at the centre of the park.
Sergio Busquets: 7/10
Busquets has shown no signs of slowing down despite being an indispensable figure for nearly a decade. On Tuesday, the Spaniard controlled the tempo of the game beautifully, breaking up the opposition plays while starting his team’s attack on several occasions. A controlling display that was undone with a few errors, though.
Andres Iniesta: 7/10
A player who has his future at Barcelona mired in heavy uncertainty, Iniesta was a surprise inclusion, having featured prominently ever since the international break. Like Busquets, he controlled the proceedings well, but it was largely a quiet outing for the Barcelona captain.
Up front, his influence in attack was minimal though before being taken off early in the second half to get some well deserved rest. Another start on the weekend will be surprising indeed.
Gerard Deulofeu: 6/10
Another player who has made a bright start since being signed by Barcelona in the summer, Tuesday’s performance was one of his poorer outings. Lively all through his participation in the match, Deulofeu receives a ten on ten for effort and his ability to run at the defenders.
However, his decision making needs a lot of work as the former Everton man often ended up being wasteful in promising positions. The absence of Ousmane Dembele has given Deulofeu a chance to cement his place in the starting lineup, but he will need to be much improved in order to stake a claim at that.
Lionel Messi: 10/10
Messi has been imperious at the start of the season, finding the back of the net at will and arguably carrying Barcelona in several games already. Tuesday was no different as he ran the show once again, notching up his 39th hat-trick for the Blaugrana and ensuring a comfortable win for his side.
Lionel Messi for Barcelona across all competitions this season:
8 games 🏃
12 goals ⚽️
1 hat-trick 🎩
1 poker 4️⃣
Absolutely running riot. pic.twitter.com/r6qTyy81CH
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 19, 2017
The Argentinean wizard now has nine goals in five La Liga outings, way clear at the top of the goalscoring charts. While it is almost ludicrous to think of this, Messi seems to be playing better than he ever has, and has the Barcelona fans dreaming of a successful season, only a month after everything had seemed lost for them.
Denis Suarez: 8/10
Like Paulinho, he earned a start on Tuesday after a game changing effort against Getafe on the weekend. Suarez, unlike his more illustrious namesake at Barcelona, seems to be enjoying an inspired start to the season as he backed up the weekend’s performance with another solid outing, with a goal and an assist to boot.
On Saturday, Suarez had showed himself to be an added option in midfield, controlling things from the centre of the park. On Tuesday, he showed that he can be an option in attack as well, creating chances while keeping things ticking seamlessly. Ernesto Valverde has imposed a lot of faith in him, and Suarez is definitely repaying it.