5 Keynotes as Barcelona cruise through Deportivo Alavés
Barcelona kicked off their La Liga campaign in style as they beat Alavés 3-0 with all of their goals coming in the latter half of the game. Coming back from the Spanish Super Cup victory, Barcelona started the game with the loud cheers of about 56000 cules from the Nou Camp stands. Philippe Coutinho was the surprise exclusion from the starting 11 which seemed to struggle in creativity in the middle for about half of the game. However, as always they came back stronger in the second half and spoiled the resilient Alavés efforts. Barcelona is mounting a challenge to defend their La Liga title and here, we look upon 5 keynotes of the game.
#1 The scoreline did not reflect the game Barca played
With 79% possession and 25 shots( 9 on target ), Alavés can consider themselves lucky to just concede 3 goals in the evening. The opposition keeper, Fernando Pacheco, had a night to remember and unquestionably was their best player on the pitch. While the other Barcelona frontline were pretty wasteful in front of goal, Messi hit the woodwork twice in the game.
#2 Messi is back to his comfort zone
With the two sublime goals, it's safe to say that Lionel Messi is back to where he enjoys football. After his painful world cup woes, cules were anxious to see if Messi has the same desire to succeed at Barca and his performances in this game. His free-kick under the wall was Barca's 6000th La Liga goal of all time and his last goal did all but seal the game.
#3 Benching Coutinho was a mistake
Barcelona started the game with Busquets, Sergi Roberto, and Rakitic completing the midfield trio. While it was nice to see Roberto in his natural position, there was an obvious lack of creativity in the midfield. Coutinho was introduced in the second half and the difference in the tempo was easily visible. He linked up nicely with Messi on occasions and was also the scorer of the second Barca goal.
#4 Luis Suarez needs to step up
Luis Suarez was probably the weakest link in Barcelona's attack. He squandered numerous counter attacks with his slow pace and his heavy first touch let him down in a couple of occasions. His assist to Messi for the third goal was his best play of the day but that's not all you hope from a world-class striker. Though he was defended by Ernesto Valverde, Barcelona would need Suarez at his brilliant best if they wish to compete on all fronts this season.
#5 Playing time for new signings
Arturo Vidal and Arthur, two of Barcelona's four summer recruits, made their La Liga debut in this match. Though both the players started the match from the bench, stepping in front of their home crowd for the first time would provide them much needed confidence. Arthur looked confident on the ball and Vidal almost created a goal by his timely tackle to start a counter attack.