LaLiga: Barcelona 3-0 Alaves, 3 reasons why La Blaugrana dominated El Glorioso
It has now been over a decade since Barca failed to win their opening fixture in LaLiga and in truth, the 3-0 scoreline could and should have been much greater.
The home side started the match with somewhat of a surprising first XI. Coutinho started on the bench while Sergio Roberto took his place on the right side of midfield with Nelson Semedo behind him in defense.
Regardless, this was a very strong team and one which began the match on the front foot against an extremely defensive Alaves side. The first half produced numerous half chances, but no goals as Barcelona dominated possession without finding a way past the El Glorioso's defensive lines.
However, the match changed midway through the second half when Messi stepped up to take a freekick just outside the box. The Alaves wall expected the Argentinian to hit the ball high, but instead, Barcelona's new captain slipped the ball under the wall to give his team the lead.
Alaves had to go on the attack after falling behind and Barcelona punished them twice more with goals from substitute, Coutinho, and a second from Messi securing a very comfortable 3-0 win in front of a packed home crowd.
The game finished with Barcelona having 25 shots on goal compared to Alaves' three and securing an incredible 78% of possession over the 90 minutes plus injury time.
Below are three reasons why Barcelona thoroughly dominated the Basque club at the Nou Camp.
#3 Alaves' Deep Defensive Lines
Alaves set out with one aim in this game - to keep a clean sheet. Abelardo played a 4-5-1 formation with the aim of packing the midfield and defensive lines to reduce time and space for Barcelona's skillful attackers.
The plan worked for most of the match. Despite having just 22% of the ball in the first half, Alaves entered the break with a clean sheet and a 0-0 scoreline. They managed just one shot on goal in the first half which failed to trouble Ter Stegen and made only 112 passes compared to Barcelona's 419 in the opening 45 minutes.
Due to the deep defensive set up by the visitors, the Catalans dominated play throughout the match. They were slightly sluggish off the mark however and managed only two shots on target during the opening period despite having a lot of the ball.
It took a moment of brilliance from Messi to break the deadlock after the hour mark and encourage Alaves to come out of their shell. After the first goal, the discipline in the Basque club's defense slipped and allowed Barcelona to break through twice more.
La Blaugrana will endure many more games like this at the Nou Camp this season and are sure to be happy they managed to get all three points against a stubborn defensive side.