LaLiga 2018-19: Plenty of positives for Barcelona in rout over Levante
Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick and assisted two goals as Barcelona comfortably went past a spirited Levante side, thumping them 5-0.
Let us first look at how Ernesto Valverde set up the team tactically. On paper, Barcelona started with the tactical formation of 3-5-2, with Messi and Luis Suarez up front leading the attack.
Levante were unquestionably not just trying to notch up a point. They went all out in attack as soon as the game started, making their intentions clear: they wanted to win.
In the first 30 minutes of the first half, they were brilliant, and Barcelona were forced to sit back. Valverde's men soaked the pressure very well by dynamically switching the shape to 5-3-2, with Alba and Dembele joining the back line and Vidal joining the midfield.
When going forward, Barcelona switched to 3-2-4-1, with Busquets and Rakitic in the middle and Alba and Demeble on the flank, and Vidal pushing forward.
Luis Suarez was involved in 3 goals, scoring one. This was important for his confidence as he is coming back from a knee injury; this boost was very much needed.
Strikers are usually judged by how many goals they score, but statistics do not justify the contribution Suarez makes for the team. He does much more than just scoring goals.
He makes runs in the final third, lays off the passes, makes dummies, and his off-the-ball movement is out of the world. He is a constant threat in the box, and you will never see Suarez slacking off. He is always involved in the game.
Dembele on his part put in the the hard work and played with a great attitude in the match. Lately, there have been a lot of reports in the media criticizing Dembele for being lazy and late for training. But in this match, he tracked back a lot to help in defense.
Dembele can be trusted with defensive duties as well if such a situation arises in the future. This was a disciplined performance from him, and it will positively help him to shrug off the unnecessary off-the-pitch media attention.
Levante have one of the best attacks in the league, and Barcelona's defense has been shaky in recent times, so it was important that Barcelona kept a clean sheet. The defense had been leaking a lot of goals lately, so it was a confidence boosting game from that point of view as well.
Pique delivered an incredible performance. His tackles were perfectly timed. He was trying to get involved in the attack and he was rewarded for his efforts too when he calmly finished the ball into the back of the net to make the scorline 5-0. He has now scored three goals in the last four games.
Overall this was a good game for FC Barcelona. The win means that after Matchday 16 Barcelona sit at the top with 34 points, three more than the second placed Sevilla.