Before the break, Barcelona’s Copa del Rey tie with Atleti was a dominant display capped off with a two-goal advantage.
The second half, conversely, was a reminder that you should never feel calm at half-time and always prepare for the last 45 minutes to test your nerves.
In the last league game of 2016, Barcelona blew past city rivals Espanyol with a Messi and Iniesta inspired 4-1 victory.
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Barça entered matchday 11 with something to prove.
Playing away at Sevilla is a consistently difficult match, and the general mood suggested it might not go well.
Ilusionista. Harry Potter. Maestro. Artist. Puto Crack.
Winning 5-0 on the road is cause for celebration enough, but doing it without Messi, Iniesta, or Rakitić after a hard-fought draw against Atlético midweek is a miracle of a manita.
If the Alavés game was a misstep, and the Celtic game a masterpiece, Luis Enrique and the rest of the squad will be hoping that tomorrow’s match at Leganés falls somewhere in between.
In Spanish, the phrase a la vez means “both, at the same time.” Fittingly, Barça’s 1-2 loss to newly promoted Alavés was, a la vez, frustrating and potentially avoidable, but not world ending or an indicator of crisis.
The international break is a weird phenomenon — essentially hitting pause on early season progress while players travel thousands of miles for another team. So club fans hold their breath and look at their watches until it’s over, hoping everyone comes out unscathed.
Barça’s return to action against Alavés tomorrow is a welcome relief after 16 members of the squad were called up for nine different countries for friendlies and World Cup qualifying.
Ahead of the weekend, let’s see how (and where) Barça fared internationally.