La Liga 2018-19, Barcelona 2-0 Espanyol: 3 reasons why Barcelona won the game
After an international break which lasted for 2 weeks, La Liga football returned with the focus on Barcelona as they took on Espanyol in front of their home fans. Barcelona already had a 10 point lead at the top of La Liga table and was hoping to extend their dominance while a win against Barcelona will help Espanyol to stay off from the relegation zone. Ernesto Valverde decided to change his 4-4-2 formation that won 4-1 against Real Betis and opted to go with a 4-4-3 formation with Coutinho, Suarez, and Messi at the front. Arthur, Busquets, and Rakitic made up the midfield while Nelson Semedo replaced Sergi Roberto in the right back position.
As for Espanyol, Borja Iglesias returned to the starting lineup and played as a striker along with Melendo. Victor Sanchez replaced Marc Roka at the heart of the midfield while Javi Lopez who predominantly plays as a left-back was instead employed as a central defender.
Barcelona did not take too much time to register their first shot on goal and completely dominated possession during the initial stages of the match. Barcelona forwards tried a few ambitious shots from outside the box since they were unable to find any space in the opposition box. There was a tense moment early in the match when Pique needlessly used his arm to stop Pedrosa but the referee did not give a foul. The first half ended 0-0 but the introduction of Malcom in the second half, it opened up the game and soon Barcelona was awarded a freekick. Messi converted the freekick with lots of grace and scored another goal in the 89th minute to give Barcelona a 2-0 victory over their city rivals. Barcelona completely outplayed Espanyol in all aspects of the game and further cemented their place at the top of the La Liga table. Here are the three reasons why they won against Espanyol.
#1 Lionel Messi’s Brillance
Messi again suffered a torrid time in International colors as Argentina lost a friendly against Venezuela and injured his groin in the process. But he was once again at his brilliant best in Barcelona colors and led his team to a comfortable victory. In the first half, he dropped deep into the midfield and tried creating chances for Suarez and Coutinho. He won a freekick in a dangerous area with good dribbling but could not convert it into a goal. For the first 45 minutes, he remained at the edge of the box and made some beautiful defence splitting passes. In the second half, he once again produced a moment of magic to give Barcelona the lead as a Panenka-style freekick left everyone in the ground bemused. He added to his goal tally in the closing stages of the match with a one-touch finish inside the box after receiving a clinical pass from Malcom.