FC Barcelona extended their good form on Sunday with a 4-0 away win over Deportivo. The Catalans looked good and manager Luis Enrique’s tactics worked very well. Here you will find an overview of how the team played as a whole and how each player played individually.
Enrique fielded a weakened squad in the midweek Copa del Rey match against Elche so that he could give his key players rest and give playing time to others as Barcelona had a 5-0 aggregate lead after the first leg. This rest seemed to greatly benefit Barcelona and they played very well against Deportivo. One of the few negatives in the Blaugrana’s performance was the fact that their defense was easily cut open at times, often because of a Gerard Pique error. However, the defense and rest of the team was constantly pressing the opposition and winning the ball back when they needed to.
Barcelona’s midfield and attack played incredibly well. They dominated possession throughout the match and kept hitting Deportivo on the counter by seamlessly transitioning from defense to offense in the blink of an eye. Although Luis Suarez blew many chances he was given, he still played decently and the deadly trident of Messi, Neymar and Suarez continued to become more familiar with each other. Although they “only” had four goals, the Catalans completely dominated the match, registering fourteen shots to Deportivo’s seven and having possession of the ball for 68% of the match.
The ‘keeper had a good match in which he wasn’t called into action very often but when he was, he came through with big saves. One save stands out. At one point in the match, Gerard Pique allowed Deportivo midfielder Juan Dominguez to break through the defense. Dominguez’s shot from six yards out seemed destined for goal, but at the last second Bravo stretch out and diverted the shot from the goal. He also could be seen distributing the ball very well –like Victor Valdes used to— and he organized his defense very well by leading from the back.
As always, Dani Alves was a constant attacking threat at right-back for Barcelona. He kept pushing forward with the ball and putting the ball into the box. He combined well with the whole Barca attack, especially Messi. His defensive contribution was also substantial.
Just like Alves, Jordi Alba was as much a constant attacking threat for Barcelona at his full-back position as ever. The left-back could constantly be seen running up and down the left wing, contributing in both defense and attack. He exchanged a countless amount of passed with Neymar, leading the Brazilian to create chances for his teammates.
Mascherano was once again a reliable choice for the Blaugrana at center-back. The Argentine was skilled in the tackle and succeded at making one last-man tackle. He pushed forward much more than usual, playing like a defensive midfielder, his natural position. He often when on long runs with the ball into Deportivo’s territory. Mascherano proved again that he is the best center-back on Barcelona.
The Spanish center-back didn’t have the best of times against Deportivo. Pique allowed to defenders to brush by him, resulting in goal-scoring opportunities more than once. Hopefully he will be better next time out.
The defensive midfielder put in another very solid performance. He was calm in possession, drew many fouls and did very well at shielding the defense. He was substituted off for Marc Bartra in the 66th minute.
Iniesta, the captain on the night, put in the type of performance we have come to expect of the little maestro. The midfielder dictated play throughout the whole match and delivered many beautiful through balls that created scoring chances. In the first half he delivered a ball over a few Deportivo defenders to give Suarez a great chance at goal, but the Uruguayan shot wide. Iniesta completed 94% of his chances before being subbed off for Rafinha in the 66th minute.
The Croatian midfielder was magnificent against Deportivo. He played with loads of heart and determination and clocked up two beautiful assists for Messi. On the first one, he put an inch-perfect lobbed pass right in the path of Messi who headed in. On the second one he thread the ball between two defenders at a tight angle, right to Messi who scored with a beautiful shot. Earlier in the match, Rakitic delivered a perfect corner kick to Messi on the ground, but the Argentine’s shot was brilliantly saved.
While Neymar didn’t put in one of his usual amazing performances, he still had a decent game. He constantly got past defenders with skill moves and was linking up very well with Jordi Alba. Neymar still seemed to be a little injured from his collision with Atletico’s Jose Maria Gimenez last week. He was being defended very physically, so he was taken off for Pedro in the 69th minute.
The magical Argentine was pretty much flawless once again. He scored three goals, taking his all-time hat trick tally for Barcelona up to 30. Messi officially played as a right winger against Deportivo, with permission to roam wherever he pleased. The first goal of the night for La Pulga came in the 10th minute. He slipped through the Deportivo defense undetected and was founded by a beautiful lobbed pass from Ivan Rakitic which he headed in. His second goal was officially assisted by Suarez, but he created it himself. He received the ball on the edge of the box, dribbled past a few players, appeared to have lost the ball and then beautifully chipped the ‘keeper. Messi’s third and final goal came when he received a beautiful pass from Rakitic deep in the box and unmarked, fire an amazing low shot into the back of the net. During all this attacking, Messi somehow managed to largely contribute in defense also. Another mind-blowing performance from Messi.
Deployed centrally, the Uruguayan had a decent game. Although he assisted Messi, he blew many golden chances to score or create. At one point, he received the ball on the left side of the goal with Messi on his right. The goalkeeper closed off his angle and a pass to Messi would have been a surefire assist, he instead chose to shoot and fired wide. This was uncharacteristically selfish of the former Liverpool man.
The Brazilian midfielder came on for captain Iniesta in the 66th minute but didn’t make much of an impact except for a nice through ball to Suarez that was just of the toothy Uruguayan’s reach.
The center-back came on for Busquets in the 66th minute and received a yellow card due to a bad officiating call almost immediately. However, he quickly recovered and went on to play well including a sliding last man tackle on the goal line.
Pedro came on for Neymar in the 69th minute and played on the left wing. Although he didn’t have much of an impact, he combined very well with Messi and Suarez in attack.
*All stats were obtained from WhoScored.com