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Barcelona 3-1 Girona: 5 talking points as Blaugrana dispatch Catalan neighbours with ease 

Lionel Messi scored a brace in Barcelona
Lionel Messi scored a brace in Barcelona's 3-1 friendly win over Girona.
Elvis Ume O
ANALYST
Modified 17 Sep 2020, 02:57 IST
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Barcelona made it two wins from as many pre-season friendlies as goals from Lionel Messi and Philippe Coutinho gave them a 3-1 victory over Girona.

The Camp Nou side started the game on a strong note and forced Juan Carlos into some early saves before Philippe Coutinho broke the deadlock midway through the first half. It was no less than what Barcelona deserved for their dominant start. Not long thereafter, captain Lionel Messi doubled his team's advantage right on the stroke of half-time, with a fine finish from outside the box.

Girona halved the deficit with virtually the first kick of the second half, but Messi was on hand to restore Barcelona's two-goal advantage just five minutes later.

A raft of changes were made by both sides as the two managers sought to try out as many players as possible, which consequently had an impact on the tempo of the game. Despite fashioning some good chances in the final 30 minutes, neither side was able to find the back of the net again, but it took nothing away from what was a highly entertaining fixture.

Girona now begin their quest to return to La Liga when they visit Sporting Gijon in the Segunda Division while Barcelona play host to Elche in the Joan Gamper trophy in their final pre-season fixture.

On that note, let us take a loot at five talking points from Barcelona's 3-1 win in their friendly game against Girona at the Johan Cruyff stadium.

#5 Philippe Coutinho continues his fine run of recent form for Barcelona

Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring for Barcelona.
Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring for Barcelona.

It is no secret that things have not panned out well for Philippe Coutinho since his record-breaking transfer to Barcelona in January 2018.

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However, after spending the last year on loan with Bayern Munich, the Brazilian international is ready for a second chapter at Camp Nou, with new Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman stating his willingness to give the former Liverpool man a clean slate and a fresh start.

Coutinho, seemingly ready to make the most of the same, has sent out a statement of intent with his fine displays in the pre-season.

Having wrapped up the scoring from the penalty spot in Barcelona's 3-1 victory over Gimnastic Terragona on Saturday, Coutinho opened the scoring against Girona by tapping into an empty net after some intricate play between Messi and Trincao. The 28-year-old, who had earlier hit the post from outside the area, gave a fine all-round performance before leaving the field on the hour mark.

The season ahead is a make-or-break one for Coutinho's Barcelona career, but on the evidence of his pre-season displays, the player looks ready to rewrite his Camp Nou story.

#4 Ronald Koeman intent on changing Barcelona's playing style

Ronald Koeman
Ronald Koeman

For the best part of the last two decades, Barcelona operated with a tried-and-tested 4-3-3 formation that had been a prominent feature in the most successful period of the club's history. However, it seems that new manager Ronald Koeman could depart from the status quo.

In each of his first two games in charge, the former Everton gaffer sent out his team in a 4-2-3-1 formation where a double-pivot system shielded the defence while an attacking midfielder operated behind the centre-forward.

Against Girona, Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong sat in front of the backline while Philippe Coutinho, who was flanked by Messi and Francisco Trincao, played behind Antoine Griezmann.

This is a vastly different system to what the Barcelona players have been used to for most of their careers, and Koeman admitted as much after the win against Gimnastic when he stated:

''It's perhaps a little different and more defensive to what we have seen in the last few years. But the aim is to move the ball, hold on to it and create space to play between the lines, behind the opponents' midfield. I think this team is capable of doing this because we have midfielders who are able to play in that way.''

With previous attempts to alter Barcelona's style of play having had disastrous consequences, it remains to be seen whether Ronald Koeman can successfully implement this different formation.

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Published 17 Sep 2020, 02:57 IST
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