Review: Messi magic in Pamplona

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (2L) scores during the Spanish league football match CA Osasuna vs FC Barcelona at the Reyno de Navarra (El Sadar) stadium in Pamplona on December 10, 2016. / AFP / CESAR MANSO (Photo credit should read CESAR MANSO/AFP/Getty Images)

Off the back of the disappointing Clásico, today’s match up against an Osasuna team who have won just one of their last 14 home league games was Barcelona’s chance to end their three match drawing streak in La Liga and begin the catch up on Real Madrid, who were six points ahead of Barça at the start of the weekend.

Barça started the game with a different looking starting 11 with Neymar suspended after picking up five yellow cards, and Andrés Iniesta fit enough to start. André Gomes took Ivan Rakitić’s place in the starting line-up, and Arda Turan was pushed onto the wing, where he looks a lot more comfortable.

It became clear at the beginning of the game that it would be a matter of when Barça would unlock the Osasuna defence rather than if. Osasuna sat back while Barcelona circulated the ball well, helped by Samuel Umtiti’s return to the back-four and Iniesta giving Sergio Busquets the support that he has needed during the Illusionista’s absence.

Luis Enrique’s side largely dominated the play, with a few breaks for Osasuna that barely troubled Marc-André Ter Stegen, but Barça weren’t able to break the deadlock despite good chances for Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez, who struck the post after a good turn.

The second half began just how it ended with Barcelona dominating the ball and the goal felt very close.

After jinking past former Barça man Oriol Riera, Busquets played a pass to Messi, who played a trademark diagonal through ball to Jordi Alba, the full-back played a square pass to an open Suárez who finished off a classic Barcelona move just before the 60 minute mark.

Before the first goal, Barça were in danger regretting their earlier missed chances, but after Suárez tapped in the first the confidence grew in front of goal and with 72 minutes gone a wonderful 15-pass move which started from the back with Gerard Piqué and ended with Messi bouncing the ball over Osasuna ‘keeper Nauzet Pérez. Only two Barça players, Ter Stegen and Suárez, didn’t touch the ball during this brilliant move.

Messi ended the game fittingly with a truly stunning goal. The Argentinian skipped past three Osasuna players, putting one on his arse, faked to shoot, putting another player on the floor, and dispatched a shot to Nauzet’s left.

The game ended with Barça putting three past an Osasuna side who are now bottom of La Liga, in a match which could have ended with four or five goals added onto the scoreline. Messi continued to look his magical self, after an almost flawless Clásico performance, Busquets added another top performance, Umtiti slotted back into the back-four like he never left, and Iniesta’s return gave Barça the midfield balance they have ever-so needed.

With the core of the squad back, fit and playing well, Barça should be confident that they can complete the remontada and beat Real Madrid to the Liga title, and continue to battle for the Copa del Rey and Champions League.

Next up for the blaugrana is a very questionable mid-season trip to Qatar to play Al-Ahli, before a Catalan derby at the Camp Nou next weekend.

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  • Kneowell Anyanwu

    Messi was on his beast mode which is a norm, those faked shots of his is as old as himself but still very effective in and around the box, deservingly the MOTM. It’s almost like everyone brought their A games today, I thought roberto was exquisite too, so was alba. Iniesta lives everyday a magic, Umtiti was rock solid and those confident run forward I’ve missed will sure help against pressing teams. Busquet never put in a wrong foot, Andre Gomes embodies both busquet and rakitic in his play and looks more comfortable as a RM. Was a very convincing win albeit against a team at the bottom of the table but hey, take nothing away from this win cos a last placed Granada beat a 3rd placed sampaoli’s Sevilla, same thing happened with kloop’s liverpool who threw away a two goal lead twice last week and lost to a mid table team. Sampaoli out! Kloop out! Football is a b**tch isn’t it? Lol

  • Kneowell Anyanwu

    On the off side, has anyone noticed Pep’s tinkering after 26 games in city? Lucho was shredded and called “clueless” for attempting half that number in his first season, he has been criticised for a couple this season already. Seems only pep is allowed to get away with such tinkering isn’t it? Pep’s city concede and trails by 2 goals in a game while being outplayed, the camera catches him sipping a bottle of water on the sideline and it’s all cool. Lucho’s team trail by a goal, or maybe even fails to find a goal in a stalemate, the camera catches him on the chair and some fans say “see how helpless he looks an that chair”. Lmao! There isn’t an end to the Lucho hate thing. Hopefully after we win a trophy or two at the end of this season I just wish Lucho doesn’t renew, not because I want him gone, hell no! But because I can’t wait to see the tactical angel that will replace him. Grega even once said any whimp that isn’t named lucho can manage the club better than Lucho does. I just can’t wait to see that whimp. meanwhile city is been whitewashed by leicester.

    • Jason Rodriguez

      Pep once said that a coach’s cycle is only 3 years! Love Lucho, but maybe we need new ideas? Sampaoli perhaps?!!!

      • Kneowell Anyanwu

        Sampaoli is yet to make anything out of sevilla

      • Kneowell Anyanwu

        Btw, did pep remember an alex ferguson when he said that? Or a wenger?

  • Jason Rodriguez

    Barca looks a lot sharper when Turan is playing in attack! If Messi isn’t going to stick there, Now that we don’t have a Dani Alves marauding back and forth, Turan should be the starter there! I would line up:
    My reasoning is, that’s always how they play! Messi in the middle, NO-ONE in that right-wing. Raki backtracking/ babysitting, and Neymar going down the wings! Alba goes up and down, but barely contributes to the attack! And S. Roberto is easily vulnerable at the back! At least now, Messi can roam and create, while we have 2 deadly wingers and a striker to hold off the opposing teams! Iniesta-Busi- Raki can recycle possession! Umtiti and Mascherano can stifle the opposing wing play, and compact when needed! It’s breaking away from the 4-3-3, adding that missing cog, and making it better!

  • Peter Tinkler

    Hey Barca chums, was just curious as to what you all think of the UCL draw? I think it’s a tough motherf*cker myself, only Bayern being a tougher prospect.
    Seriously, when is the last time Barca had a favourable draw in the second round of the UCL?

    • Pius Kamau

      Hehe meanwhile Madrid somehow keeps on getting the easiest draws imaginable!