FC Barcelona continued their positive momentum from their Clásico win over Real Madrid last weekend with a 3-0 win over Celta de Vigo on Tuesday night.
Alexis Sanchez started the goal scoring for FC Barcelona as a Pedro shot was blocked, and the rebound landed at Alexis' feet, and the Chilean slammed it in the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.
The score line became 2-0 in just less than three minutes into the second half. A Lionel Messi pass-intended for Alex Song-was a bit too long for Alex, but Cesc was there to slam the ball toward net and go in thanks to help from Celta keeper Yoel, who was credited with an own goal. In the 54th minute, Cesc got a goal as a great pass from Leo found Fabregas on the left and the former Arsenal man put it past Yoel for the goal. It was an easy win as Tata Martino's men left Vigo with three points.
Let's get to the Best, Worst, and "What We Learned" from this game.
The Best: Alexis, Marc Bartra, Messi, and Cesc Fabregas
There is no doubt that Alexis Sanchez is in the best form of his FC Barcelona career. It was great to see Alexis score a goal against Celta in his 100th game for FC Barcelona. As I mentioned in my post-Clásico article, Alexis has the confidence that he had when he was in Udinese. I believe Tata Martino has helped Alexis in regaining his confidence. Maybe it's the South American bond, but whatever it is, Martino has surely motivated Sanchez.
Take a look at these stats:
Cristiano Ronaldo: 8 league goals, 82 shots, but 3 of the 8 goals via penalties.
Alexis Sánchez: 6 league goals, 16 shots, 0 penalties.
If you take out Cristiano's penalty goals, Alexis Sanchez has scored just as more goals as Ronaldo, all while doing it with 66 less shots taken.
Alexis Sánchez has scored 4 out of Barcelona's last 7 league goals.
Alexis is a star, and he's shining brighter than ever!
Marc Bartra had a solid game against Celta. You can see the kid gaining confidence in every game he has played. Tata should consider playing Bartra against Espanyol on Friday to give either Carles Puyol or Gerard Pique some rest. And what can we say about Cesc Fabregas and Lionel Messi. Both had good games. Cesc got the goal (pretty much had two goals), and Leo grabbed an assist and was close to getting a goal of his own.
The Worst: The fact that some "Culés" are complaining that Messi is "off"
During this game, I noticed on Twitter that some so-called "Culés" are worried about Lionel Messi not scoring a goal against Celta. It's not like he wasn't trying his best to get one! You've got to give credit to Celta goalkeeper Yoel who had a few good stops on Leo shots.
It's not always going to be all goals with Messi. It never has been; that is what makes Leo so great. Messi influences a game with his presence alone to go along with his passes and so on. Would I like to see Leo score more goals? Of course. I want Messi scoring a goal or three in every game. But at the same time, we all have to accept the fact that Leo will go on streaks where he doesn't score goals. Messi has been so great throughout these years that a three or four-game streak where he doesn't score a goal seems like impending doom to some.
If we reach late November and Leo hasn't scored, then I'll be a bit worried. But for now, Alexis has stepped up along with Neymar. And that's how it's supposed to be. If your teammate is not getting the goals, you go out and get them. Besides, Leo has done enough goal-scoring as it is. Glad to see his teammates stepping up. And if this team is going to make a deep run in the Champions League again, goals from Neymar, Alexis, and Pedro will be needed to go along with Leo's. Messi will grab goals soon enough.
What We Learned?: Tata avoided the post-Clásico hangover, but still needs to work in a few players.
Although I am very pleased with the 3-0 win by FC Barcelona, thus avoided the post-Clásico hangover, I must admit I was a bit disappointed in a few of Tata Martino's decisions. I would have liked to have seen Martin Montoya start at either RB or LB. Montoya is naturally a RB, but can play LB if called upon. Adriano started the game, but was replaced by Montoya in the first half due to Adriano having thigh discomfort (again). Even though Martin got to play, I still believe Tata needs to give the kid more playing time. I fear this team will lose Montoya in the offseason due to lack of playing time. Martin is in the final year of his contract, and this club cannot afford to lose Montoya. He's a big part of the future of FC Barcelona. The kid wants to play, and just like Pep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova before him, Tata Martino could do better to work Martin Montoya into the rotation.
This would have been a great game to see Sergi Roberto play in. I don't know you he wasn't available for this game. On Monday, Tata Martino mentioned why Sergi hasn't been playing. "I'm contradicting myself because he doesn't play, but Sergi Roberto is a phenomenal player. But we have Xavi, Cesc, Iniesta..." With all due respect: Yeah, you kind of are, Tata.
I understand, Tata, that the midfield is stacked, but this is not helping Barcelona long-term. Xavi needs more rest, and this team can't depend on Iniesta and Cesc to have fresh legs constantly just because they are younger than Xavi or for whatever reason that there may be. Playing Alex Song in this game wasn't a bad idea (Song had a solid game), but it would have nice to have seen Sergi there along with Cesc, learning from Fabregas. I don't see Sergi Roberto pulling a Thiago Alcantara and ask to leave any time soon, but it's not helping his confidence just sitting there on the bench, marinating in frustration.
Tata has done a great job giving Marc Bartra time as a starter, given Tata had to due to the lack of depth this team has at CB. My hope is that Tata works Martin Montoya more and more just like he did with Bartra. Sergi Roberto needs time as well, perhaps in Copa del Rey games. If all else fails with Sergi Roberto's playing time, at least Barça has Rafinha Alcantara, loaned out and who will rejoin El Blaugrana next summer, getting plenty of playing time and experience at Celta de Vigo. I guess at least we have going for us when it comes to our young midfielders.
Come on, Tata. Let's work in Montoya and Roberto.
What's Next?: Friday vs. Espanyol
FC Barcelona head back home to host Espanyol in the Catalan Derby at the Camp Nou on Friday. Neymar is expected to start as the kid rested and did not play against Celta. Xavi should start as well as he rested against Celta. Javier Mascherano is expected to start as well. With Barcelona hosting AC Milan midweek next week, Tata Martino may look to rest players like Messi, Cesc, and/or Iniesta earlier than usual in the game if Barcelona gets out to a comfortable lead against Espanyol.
Xoel's Final Word
After an emotional win against eternal rival Real Madrid, FC Barcelona had no post-Clásico hangover as they defeated Celta de Vigo 3-0 on Tuesday night. It was an easy win for El Blaugrana, and now look to continue their winning ways against Espanyol at the Camp Nou this Friday.
No time to rest too much. There are too many wins left to be earned in La Liga.
A champion never lets their guard down.
And this FC Barcelona team will continue to work hard to continue earning wins, and to get one game closer every week to retaining the Liga title.
Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona