Lionel Messi ran the show while Riqui Puig and Jordi Alba impressed too as Barcelona cruised to a 5-0 win over Deportivo Alaves on Sunday.
Barcelona were on the money from the get-go and were unlucky not to be well ahead after the first quarter of an hour, as Riqui Puig, Lionel Messi and Arturo Vidal all struck the woodwork. The deadlock was finally broken midway through the first half, as Ansu Fati arrived late to finish off a dinked pass by Messi.
The Barcelona captain then scored himself, rounding off Roberto after collecting the ball from Puig. Heading into half-time, Alaves were three behind, as Luis Suarez scored following a fine exchange between Messi and Jordi Alba, who squared the ball for the Uruguayan. The fourth was then scored by Nelson Semedo in the 57th minute, with Puig getting another assist.
Poetically, it was Messi who scored Barcelona’s final league goal of the season, as he finished off a Jordi Alba cross to confirm his seventh Pichichi Trophy. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Quique Setien’s men following a comprehensive performance against Alaves.
On his 31st birthday, Neto enjoyed perhaps the easiest outing of his career. The Brazilian had more work to do with his feet than with the gloves, as he did not even have to make a single save. Precise when playing out from the back, misplacing just one pass all game.
Sergi Roberto: 8/10
A solid performance by Roberto, who was mostly camped in the Alaves half on Sunday. A constant outlet down the right flank, the Spanish international started the move for the first goal by winning the ball back in his own half before Lionel Messi found Ansu Fati. Thereafter, he looked to nip the Alaves attacks in the bud, winning 7 duels and completing 4 tackles.
Ronald Araujo: 8/10
Drafted into the starting lineup due to Gerard Pique’s suspension, Araujo produced a confident display on Sunday. The Uruguayan defender kept a check on Joselu smartly, never allowing the Alaves striker any time and space to make things happen. With the ball at his feet, he was accurate, completing 73 of the 77 passes he attempted.
Clement Lenglet: 7/10
As the senior player at the heart of the Barcelona defence, Lenglet guided Araujo well in addition to organising the back-line expertly. Like Araujo, Lenglet, too, was reliable when playing out from the back, hardly missing the target on his passes. However, his outing lasted just 50 minutes, as he hobbled off the pitch with an injury.
Jordi Alba: 9/10
Alba was a little slow off the blocks and was not involved a great deal to begin with. But, once he found his feet, there was no stopping him. The Spaniard showed great movement to link up with Messi before squaring the ball for Luis Suarez to score.
Alba also ended the game with an assist for Messi, playing the ball beautifully for his captain in what was another example of the fine chemistry the two players share. A 92% passing rate was icing on the cake and helped Barcelona retain control of the game.
Arturo Vidal: 8/10
During the game, Vidal was as he usually is – a man with tremendous work ethic and willingness to do the dirty job for his side. The Chilean made 2 clearances and won 3 tackles, all while having a passing rate of 91% and completing each of the long balls he attempted (4/4). Unlucky to end the game without a goal after hitting the woodwork in the first half.
Sergio Busquets: 8/10
Back into the starting lineup, Busquets was typically unassuming in his display. The veteran helped exert Barcelona’s control on the game, misplacing just 3 passes. He also won 6 duels, while losing the ball just 1 time and being dribbled past once. Needs to be in such form to help Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League
Riqui Puig: 9.5/10
Another game, another display that raised Puig’s stock. The young midfielder was everywhere, all while being as enterprising as ever. Puig was constantly looking to make things happen and ended the game with 4 key passes, with 2 of them ending with assists – one for Messi and the other for Nelson Semedo.
Riqui Puig vs Alavés
90% pass accuracy
4 key passes
3 big chances created
2 accurate long balls
1 successful dribble
2 tackles won
20 years of age. Phenomenal performance. Riqui is a true football artist. A pure joy to watch. 🔵🔴 pic.twitter.com/BjvJpt55Jy
— Football Talent Scout – Jacek Kulig (@FTalentScout) July 19, 2020
Puig also created one more big chance, but it did not end up with the ball in the back of the net, as Luis Suarez took a horrible shot. Pulling the strings in the Barcelona midfield like he is, it looks like Puig has been a part of the first-team setup for years. All of this bodes well for Barcelona.
Lionel Messi: 10/10
After lambasting the club following the defeat to Osasuna earlier this week, Messi looked to make a statement with another big performance. That is exactly what he did, as the Barcelona captain ran rings around the Alaves defence. Nearly scored a thunderous long ranger before providing the assist to Ansu Fati for Barcelona’s first.
Messi then got his name on the scoresheet with a peach of a finish. The Argentine wizard then helped create the third goal, finding Alba on a ghosting run. Messi ended the game with 2 goals and 2 assists, as he combined beautifully with Alba again to win a record seventh Pichichi.
With 21 assists, Messi also overtook Xavi as the player with the most assists in a single La Liga season. He has also tied with Thomas Muller (2019/20, Bayern Munich) for the most single-season assists by any player in the Top 5 European Leagues over the last 10 years. What a legend. One of a kind.
✅ Most La Liga goals in a season: Messi – 50 (2011-12)
✅ Most La Liga assists in a season: Messi – 21 (2019-20)
— Goal (@goal) July 19, 2020
Luis Suarez: 7/10
Suarez had a poor start to the game, as he squandered two chances, one of those being from a stunning pass by Puig. He made amends soon after, though, scoring from Alba’s low cross. Otherwise, he was not involved a whole lot, although he did play in 1 key pass.
Ansu Fati: 8/10
Fati opened the scoring with a superb effort, remarkably arriving late into the box to finish off from Messi’s dinked pass. That was a run that showed awareness beyond his years. The youngster also made 2 key passes and had an impressive passing rate of 90%, misplacing just 4 passes. Ending a fine maiden La Liga campaign on a positive note.
Nelson Semedo: 7/10
Semedo replaced the injured Lenglet, slotting in at right-back. Soon after coming on, the Portuguese was on the scoresheet, collecting Puig’s pass and scoring in an emphatic manner. Also had another shot blocked.
Frenkie de Jong: 6/10
Given the final half an hour to continue building his fitness, de Jong produced a professional display, accurately playing the ball forward (49/52 passes and 4/4 long balls completed), while also playing in 1 key pass. Getting back to his best at the right time.
Martin Braithwaite: N/A
On for the final 12 minutes or so, Braithwaite helped see the game out.