Thomas Vermaelen goal hands Barcelona 1-0 win over gritty Malaga
The match saw Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar start together for the first time this season.
Barcelona found a goal in the 73rd minute to clinch the win against a gritty Malaga at the Nou Camp. The man who scored for them, an unlikely source, the former Arsenal man Thomas Vermaelen. Luis Enrique’s side were made to work hard for three points on this occasion by a Malaga side that refused to relent and only leaked on one occasion when Barcelona capitalised to score.
The second La Liga fixture of the season for Barcelona after their narrow 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao and the first at home for the Catalan club saw Brazil talisman Neymar return to the starting XI after missing most of pre-season and the first league game as he was recovering from mumps. It meant that it was the first time this season that the trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar who wreaked havoc for defences last season were reunited. Their 122 goals from last season a warning to all of what they are capable of when the three of them combine.
It was neither of the three that would win the game for the Blaugrana though, that honour would go to the Belgian Thomas Vermaelen who was the butt of numerous jokes last season for having been part of a treble-winning squad and making only a single appearance.
The first half was frustrating affair for both teams as Barcelona were struggling to create and even when they did, there was something missing in the final quarter of the pitch. They created several chances, mostly with Neymar providing the deliveries and Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez combining to try and create decisive openings to score. They were not successful though as Javi Gracia’s men held their own and went on to create their own chances, often only missing by a hair as they carved holes through Barcelona’s defence.
If the Catalan club were trying to score in the first half, they made it look like child’s play in the second as they went all out trying to beat the men in blue and white. Between the front three, they created chance after chance but a mix of fearless defending by the Malaga backline and poor finishing kept Barcelona out.
Just as the pressure started to build to breaking point, a corner for Barcelona meant that the taller players including Barcelona’s eventual hero on the night Vermaelen travelled forward. Though the corner didn’t directly make it to him, the ball came to Luis Suarez whose cross was met by the goalkeeper Kameni whose punch fell to Vermaelen in the box. The Belgian’s technique in the volley was immaculate as he gave Barcelona exactly what they needed, a goal.
The win gave Luis Enrique’s side 2 wins on the trot after the disappointing loss in the Spanish Supercopa. The side, however, is not without problems. Apart from the defensive fragility, the front 3 of Messi, Neymar, and Suarez looks rusty, especially the Brazilian but it’s something that should return to normal service once they have had a little more time on the pitch again this season.