A well executed Thomas Vermaelen volley – the Belgian’s excellent technique a testament to his growing confidence, his newly found form, and growing role in the squad – was all that separated Javi Gracia’s Málaga CF and Luis Enrique’s FC Barcelona. As was the case in the La Liga opening fixture against Athletic Bilbao, this match too was defined by the two previous encounters between the sides- it is well known that Malaga collected four points against Luis Enrique’s treble winning team last season, while completing 180 minutes of superb defensive football without conceding a single goal to what many consider the best attacking trio in football history.
Despite both ‘Samus’ leaving Malaga for Villarreal, Gracia was expected to keep the same system and mimic the approach that worked so well for him last season. For Luis Enrique, it was an odd opportunity to prove that his team had evolved, could beat the squad that had been a minor thorn in their side last season, and a chance to remind us that their positional, possession based style attack is still as dominant as it once was and hasn’t fallen into disuse now that the trident have become more accustomed to attacking the space in transition.
Not as shocked as the rest of us
180 minutes of football last season weren’t enough to break down Málaga’s defence and score, and yesterday it looked like the opponents were once again going to leave the Camp Nou with at least a point. But thanks to Thomas Vermaelen, the man with a point to prove, Málaga were finally beaten by Luis Enrique and his players in a fixture that was lost last season. The coach, however, is not surprised to see the Belgian win Barcelona three valuable points.
“[His goal] doesn’t surprise me because he is a player of the top level. On a football level, there are no doubts about him. He is physically still not 100 percent, though. He is a very important player when it comes to set pieces, he is an expert in the air,” Lucho said.
The match winner will also be rejoining his national side after reassuring outings with the Catalans. “I’m happy he’s going with his national team, just like any Barça player. It will be good for him, although they have to evaluate his fitness. It’s good for Belgium and its good for Barça.”
totalBarça’s Match Center has all you need for tonight’s liga game against Malaga CF. The match kicks off at 20:30 Barcelona time – find your local time here. If you’re looking for a high quality stream, check out our new partnership with fubo.tv.
Check out the lineups, match events, streams and live chat, after the jump. As soon as the game is finished, you will be able to submit your ratings for the players as well. Welcome to the totalBarça Match Center – from pre-game to post, we’ve got everything you need for Barcelona vs Malaga.
Barcelona made a winning start to the new Liga season with a narrow 1-0 win at the San Mamés, the venue of the humiliating 4-0 Supercopa defeat two weeks ago, and inevitably, the result pleased Luis Enrique. “I think we started the [La Liga] championship the way we did last season, at a very high level,” said Lucho, who labelled Barça’s performance as “complete.”
The Asturian also heaped the praise on Sergi Roberto, whose “unexpected” cameo saw him play a “complete match,” saying that the Reus native as well as Jordi Alba were “very good” during the match. Lucho sought to calm the culé world down regarding the Blaugranas’ wounded, Dani Alves and Sergio Busquets, saying that the “injuries don’t seem very serious” and adding that “injuries are a part of football.”
totalBarça’s Match Center has all you need for tonight’s liga game at the San Mamés against Athletic Club. The match kicks off at 18:30 Barcelona time – find your local time here. If you’re looking for a high quality stream, check out our new partnership with fubo.tv.
Check out the lineups, match events, streams and live chat, after the jump. As soon as the game is finished, you will be able to submit your ratings for the players as well. Welcome to the totalBarça Match Center – from pre-game to post, we’ve got everything you need forAthletic Club vs Barcelona.