LaLiga 2019-2020: Barcelona 4-1 Celta Vigo: 4 talking points as the Blaugrana cruise to victory
Barcelona got back to winning ways at Camp Nou with an emphatic 4-1 win over Celta Vigo to consolidate their position atop the league.
With Real Madrid having dispatched Eibar 4-0 earlier in the day, anything other than a victory would have been disappointing for the Blaugrana especially in light of their goalless draw with Slavia Prague in midweek.
The visitors came into the game with a new man on the bench, with former Barcelona midfielder Oscar Garcia appointed to replace Fran Escriba.
Garcia expectedly made some changes to a side who have been struggling all through the season, with Pione Sisto making a first start of the campaign, while he encouraged his side to press high up from the start.
This system paid dividends, as Celta put Barcelona on the backfoot in the early part of the game, with the Catalans struggling to exert their usual influence.
However, their early work came undone when Ghanaian international Joseph Aidoo committed a needless handball in the area, leaving Guillermo Fernandez with no choice but to point to the spot.
Lionel Messi stepped up and dispatched the resultant penalty, but Lucas Olaza levelled matters with a well-taken freekick after Lionel Messi had been booked for bringing down Iago Aspas in the 40th minute.
The decision seemed a bit harsh, as replays showed Messi had won the ball cleanly, but the Argentine international redeemed his image with a pin-point freekick just before the half-time break.
Almost straight from the restart, Messi got his hat-trick and at that point, there was no doubt that it was job done for the Catalans.
Sergio Busquets put the gloss on the scoreline late in the second half with a cleanly struck shot from the edge of the box. The goal was his first in over two years and helped ease some pressure off Ernesto Valverde.
Here, we shall be highlighting four talking points from the routine win for Barcelona.
#1 The Lionel Messi show
This season started in less than ideal circumstances for Lionel Messi, with a calf injury sidelining him and limiting his contributions.
However, since his return, he has been nothing short of exceptional and once again, he proved his mettle with a five-star performance against Celta.
He opened the scoring 23 minutes into the game, sending Blanco the wrong way from the spot and he got his brace with a well-taken freekick right on the stroke of half-time.
In what was almost a Deja Vu moment, the Rosario native completed his hat-trick in almost similar circumstances with another freekick to put Barcelona 3-1 up.
The pair of freekicks were the 53rd of his career and the almost unerring accuracy of his freekicks is almost unbelievable.
So far this season, he has scored four freekicks and has scored more freekicks than every club in Europe's top five leagues over the last one year.
Messi's deadliness from setpieces in and around the edge of the area means that opposition players cannot afford to keep committing fouls on Barcelona players in this area, but Barcelona's gameplan seems to revolve around winning freekicks on the edge of the box.
The hat-trick brought Lionel Messi to eight goals from just seven matches and anyone who had entertained thoughts of there being a new Pichichi winner would do well to have a rethink, as La Pulga Atomica is right back in the thick of things.