analysis | 2016-02-15
Match Report: Barcelona 6:1 Celta - The entertainment as the road to victory
Barcelona achieved a stunning victory over Celta while honoring Cruyff with one of his most iconic plays
It wasn’t the best context for Celta to visit the Camp Nou. They arrived after an important physical and psychological effort last Thursday in the Spanish Cup, and without Sergi Gómez or Fontás but above all, without Nolito, Aspas or Orellana, their three exciting players, their peculiar trident. Regarding the culés, they presented themselves with their prime starting lineup with Sergi Roberto’s novelty. It has a lot of merit being on the starting squad when Arda Turan and Rakitic are your teammates and it speaks loudly of the Catalan’s quality and Luis Enrique’s trust in him.
As expected, Berizzo’s ranks pressured Barcelona high up the pitch with a 4-2-4 scheme, looking to trouble the center backs’ build-up plays, the possible relief to the full backs and blocking Sergio Roberto’s and Iniesta’s reception in the central zone. Meanwhile, the two strikers kept an eye on Busquets. The game rhythm was slow but this didn’t seem to upset either of the teams.
Barcelona had difficulties playing from the back, and only isolated and individual plays from Neymar or Messi, who invented the ‘referee dribble’, awoke the Camp Nou’s lethargy. But this wasn’t the only thing Messi made up yesterday. He wanted to celebrate his 299th goal in La Liga with a freekick that few footballers can execute. Sergio did everything he could to block the ball and even so that wasn’t enough.
Celta’s boldness is non-negotiable. They nearly went ahead in the scoreboard with a shot from Planas, and they almost tied the match after Messi’s goal with an outstanding volley from Beauvue. Bravo showed his skills on both occasions and he almost stopped the penalty scored by Guidetti, who gained the position inside the area facing Jordi Alba and the Catalan knocked him down unnecessarily when the Swedish was running toward the corner. Celta were clever and accurate, combining the pressure with the defensive transitions in order to avoid struggles to their center backs. Little by little, they improved on their build-up plays and forced Barcelona to step the intensity and rhythm up in order to beat them.
And they did so, with a Neymar sprint and the subsequent shot from Suárez which hit the post. Knowing that winning the three matches they have to play this week would mean a giant step toward the league title, Barça became a thunderstorm. Celta could not leave their own area, they kept the ball for just a few seconds and the culés arrived from all attacking fronts. It was Messi who, in the right moment and precise potency, provided a chipped pass to Suárez who was being very careless without the ball up until that point. It’s customary for the Uruguayan to score essential goals even if he’s not having the best of days.
Luis Enrique had planned a double substitution and despite the goal, he made them anyway. Aleix Vidal and Rakitic entered the pitch looking to settle the clash. That didn’t happen. The ball was moving in the culés’ defensive zones and at a much slower pace and Marcelo Díaz’ entrance alongside Wass’ physical stamina enabled Celta to take a step forward and to threaten Claudio Bravo twice.
But this Barcelona don’t need to control the entire match in order to be lethal. Messi and Neymar found each other and, just in case, Suárez sent the ball to the back of the net, becoming again the top striker in the championship, and recording his 10th goal in the last five matches at the Camp Nou.
Suárez added one more goal to his personal record in the most unexpected fashion. Messi was about to shoot a penalty kick for his 300th goal in La Liga, instead, he decided to send a subtle pass to the Uruguayan. Ode to entertainment, astonishment in the Camp Nou, and tribute to the myth that is Johan Cruyff. The critics sure will say it’s disrespectful and it will fuel void debates. The greatest respect to the rival and the game is to look for the victory with eagerness and to do it in the best way possible. Like Curry in basketball or Ricardinho in futsal, genius is linked to the voracity of the protagonists and to the confidence that in order to be successful they have to play in this way. And they all are spectacular.
Two more goals from Neymar and Rakitic were too much punishment considering the match Celta had performed, competing during 80 minutes and always believing in their chances, despite their absences. The Galician approach in the last years is one of the most engaging because of its execution and results.
And Messi. With a freekick, a chipped assist, or remembering Cruyff with that indirect penalty, the Argentinian and his partners are rewriting history.
Anything wrong? Send your correction.
Article translated from Spanish to English, originally published at the Perarnau Magazine by Ismael Ledesma.
WRITTEN BY: Ismael Ledesma
Ismael Ledesma coordinates and writes at Martiperarnau.com. He also collaborates with the press department of UD Levante @LevanteUDDM and LevanteUDRadio.
TRANSLATED BY: Jaime Ibarra
Jaime is a chemical engineer from Venezuela who is passionate about football and Barça. He loves the club’s history and he has been an unconditional fan since Ronaldo “The Phenomenon” amazed the world with the Blaugrana colors.