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From The Mind of Xoel: Barça 4-1 Valladolid. Neymar & Alexis Shine

After going down 1-0, Neymar and company came back and defeated Real Valladolid by 4-1 on Saturday night at the Camp Nou. Alexis Sanchez got a brace, Xavi grabbed a goal as well. Barça heads into the international break atop of La Liga.

David Ramos

Javi Guerra got the scoring going in the 10th minute as a corner kick ball was headed in by the Spanish forward for the 1-0 lead for the visitors.

Alexis Sanchez tied it up in the 14th minute as the Chilean slammed the ball from outside the box, and a diving Diego Marino couldn't reach it and the game was tied.

Neymar was clearly taken down inside the box nearly the 31st minute, but the referee did not make the call. A terrible non-call.

In the second half, Xavi made it 2-1 in the 52nd minute as Neymar set up the play. The Brazilian found Cristian Tello to the left, Tello then slipped the ball toward center, and Xavi puts a great finishing touch to the ball as he slotted the ball low and toward the far post for the 2-1 lead. Sanchez extended the lead in the 64th minute as Xavi found Neymar and the kid slid it to Alexis who curled it low and in for the 3-1 score line.

Neymar finally got his goal in the 70th minute as Alexis had a shot at getting his hat trick, but instead of taking the shot at goal, he passed it to an open Neymar and the Brazilian was able to grab his second Liga goal of the season.

Let's take a look at the Best, Worst, and "What We Learned?" from this game.

The Best: Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez was on fire in this game. The Chilean created several goal-scoring opportunities in the game. Sanchez's goal was a monster response to Valladolid's stunning header just a few minutes before. It was clear Alexis was motivated and felt confident after his good game at Celtic-in which he came on as a substitute. After the game, Tata Martino shared with the media what he told Alexis to motivate him. "I told Alexis that I want to see the Alexis of Chile, the Alexis of River Plate. I just gave him the chance to be that player." Grande, Alexis!

The play of the game for me was Alexis' unselfish act in order to give Neymar a shot at goal. Any other player-especially a forward-would have taken the shot to get personal glory, in this case, a hat trick. But Sanchez is not that kind of forward. Alexis remembered to give back to his teammate that helped him get the two goals before the game, Neymar. What a tremendously unselfish play by Alexis Sanchez. The play truly represents what Futbol Club Barcelona is all about: hard work, teamwork, and unselfishness.

BTW: Marc Bartra has another great game. The kid is proving he is a cornerstone for the future of the Barcelona back line. Alex Song had a terrific passing game. How terrific? It was perfect! Alex Song completed all of his 102 passes in against Valladolid.

The Worst: Fernando Teixeira Vitienes' Non-calls

Referee Fernando Teixeira didn't make any new friends in Barcelona on Saturday as he blew a clear penalty on Neymar in the first half. There were two non-calls that raised eyebrows and started the Camp Nou crowd to boo and whistle at Teixeira. The first no-call foul on Neymar was a bit questionable, but the second one was a clear PK, but Teixeira played the role of a typical Liga referee, and made a bad non-call.

Why couldn't Teixeira have been the referee for the Real Madrid game against Elche? A non-call was needed there.

What We Learned?: Neymar is Solid at the CF Spot

In my previous article, I mentioned how it wouldn't be a bad idea for Tata Martino to put Neymar at CF for the Valladolid game. Here is a portion of what I said:

" I'd ask Tata Martino to consider putting Neymar at the CF spot for the Valladolid game, with Cristian Tello at the LW spot and Alexis at RW (Pedro would rest). Cesc as the "False 9" is not a bad Plan B, but I feel Neymar at the CF spot has the potential to be better. Let's see what Neymar can do at the center of the attack. If he does well, cool. If he doesn't do well, then at least Tata tried to mix things up."

Thank you, Tata Martino, for obviously reading my article, as you put the starting forwards in the order that I suggested a few days before. Much appreciated.

And the result was great: Neymar played very well at the CF spot against Valladolid. His passes where solid, he is always a goal-scoring threat, and his speed and constant movement around the middle of the front line caused problems for the Valladolid back line.

Neymar's performance against Valladolid validates that the Brazilian is capable of being Messi's "fill-in" whenever needed. This is obviously great news for all, but it's especially good news for Tata. He now sees the offense can still function well with Neymar at the top, thus Tata has another option for his game plan(s). With Messi possibly being available for the next Liga game for Barcelona against Osasuna, Tata now can feel more confident about not allowing Leo to rush back as Martino can put Neymar at CF, and give Messi more rest in time for the Champions League clash against AC Milan on October 22nd as well El Clásico on October 26th.

As mentioned in my previous article, "There is no one in the world that can replace Lionel Messi whenever he's out. But in my opinion, there is no other player in the world that is better suited to temporarily fill-in King Leo's throne than Prince Neymar. He has the talent, skill, speed, and passion. Let's see how Neymar does as ‘the man.'"

Well done, Prince Neymar. I'm sure King Messi is proud of your performance.

What's Next?: October 19th at Osasuna

With the international break upon us, La Liga returns to action on October 19th as FC Barcelona will travel to Pamplona to face Osasuna. Jordi Alba is expected to be back as he's been out since mid-September with torn fibers in his right hamstring. As previously mentioned, Messi may be available for the game, but with Neymar playing well at the CF spot against Valladolid, Tata may keep Leo out and rest him one more game. Alexis Sanchez will more than likely not start, as the Chilean may come back to the club tired after making the long trip from South America to Spain.

Xoel's Final Word

After going down 1-0 early, FC Barcelona came back and rolled past Real Valladolid by a 4-1 score line on Saturday night. Alexis, Neymar, Bartra, and Xavi all had solid games. With the win, Barcelona extends their club record by winning their first eight Liga games. And congratulations to Cristian Tello, who after the game announced he and his girlfriend, Lorena, are expecting their first child.

Barça head into the international break atop of La Liga.

24 points out of 24 possible.

8 wins out of 8 games.

1  FC Barcelona, defending La Liga champion, looking stronger than ever.


Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona

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