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La Liga: FC Barcelona 3-0 SD Eibar: Match Review

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A recap of Barcelona's comfortable 3-0 win over newly-promoted SD Eibar at the Camp Nou, as goals from Xavi, Neymar and Lionel Messi secured the victory for Luis Enrique's side

David Ramos

In a match of milestones, FC Barcelona unsurprisingly came out on top on Saturday evening, but they were made to work for the three points as lowly SD Eibar put up a spirited challenge in their first match against the famous Blaugrana. However, fight as they might, Eibar just couldn’t cope with Barça’s star-power. Xavi got the opener, Neymar got the second with his 200th career goal, while Lionel Messi moved within one goal of Telmo Zarra’s La Liga goalscoring record by adding a third soon after.

One way, or another, we’re gonna getcha...bring it on Real Madrid Ajax!

Barcelona

Eibar

Possession

77%

23%

Total Shots

26

4

Shots on Target

11

2

Corners

12

3

Fouls

9

13

Offsides

0

1

Yellow Cards

2

2

Red Cards

0

0

No real surprises on the selection front; the majority of the headlines could be formed after the squad was announced earlier today. With that information in hand, one could predict the line-up pretty accurately – so the return of Javier Mascherano to pivote wasn’t so much of a shock as it might have been previously. Indeed, the only "surprise" might have been the inclusion of Neymar, who some tipped to start from the bench after his exploits with Brazil.

Nevertheless, it was a strong selection from Luis Enrique, and one that should have been more than capable of not just beating Eibar, but overwhelming them entirely. Would the night go according to script? Would we see Lionel Messi hit another memorable milestone? The Camp Nou crowd couldn’t wait to find out.

***

Barça started the match brightly, as expected, quickly asserting their dominance in possession as they began the process of chipping away at the SD Eibar defense. The visitors were understandably defensive in their approach, placing multiple lines of players behind the ball in an attempt to stymie the free-flowing Blaugrana attack. Going forward, Eibar would focus on set pieces, looking to maximise the brief glimpses they got of Claudio Bravo’s net.

A long time ago, this might have made for an intriguing encounter, a real tactical battle. However, as we well know, this is par for the course for Barcelona. There was nothing new about Eibar’s approach. Sure, they were a new name as far as we are concerned, but they certainly weren’t unfamiliar. The only question really surrounded the inevitable – when would Barça get their opening goal?

All eyes on Lionel Messi and Neymar then; although in all honesty, the pair were a little disappointing by their incredibly high standards, at least in the opening 25 minutes. Presented with a glorious one-on-one opportunity after a give-and-go with Dani Alves, you could have put your house on Lionel Messi scoring the opener around the 20 minute mark. However, if you did, you’d be pretty unhappy and looking for a new place to stay – Messi fluffed his lines and didn’t convert.

Five minutes later, Messi was at it again – in the thick of the action, he tried another one-two and while this was blocked by an Eibar defender, Messi was quick to react to the loose ball and his thunderous effort whizzed just past the far post. Close, but no cigar. Not yet anyway.

Indeed, this trend would continue for the remainder of the first-half. Barça had a lot of the ball, and enough time to do some damage, but for whatever reason, they were struggling to get out of first gear. The passing was quick enough, the movement was OK, but something was missing. What? I don’t quite know – but it was holding them back and giving Eibar hope that perhaps this match wasn’t a lost cause.

Overall, Eibar probably had the best chance of the first-half as well. Messi’s one-on-one was gilt-edged, but Ander Capa one-upped him near the end of the half. All it took was one simple pass. Behind Dani Alves, and behind Gerard Piqué; Capa was in. Bravo was rushing out, but Capa kept him composure, rounded the Chilean and with an open goal gaping, Capa blew it. Wide of the mark, and he really should have done better.

Barça responded with a Messi header that was powered right at Irureta in the Eibar goal but Eibar again one-upped the Argentine: this time it was a former Barça player, Saul. Another simple pass, another chance and this time Bravo was equal to it – parrying Saul’s powerful effort away for a corner kick.

Probably not the worst performance we’ve ever seen from Barça, but we needed an improvement in the second period.

***

A couple of early chances suggested we were going to get that improvement, although the finishes intimated that other areas would suffer as a consequence. A free header or two from Gerard Piqué, and a shot from Pedro – yet Irureta didn’t have to make a single save. In a sense, the collision that forced Sergi Roberto off clutching his ribs might have been a blessing in disguise. With 35 minutes left to play Andrés Iniesta entered the game, hoping to make the difference that could win this match for Barça.

And within minutes of his arrival, Barcelona got their opener – coincidentally I might add – as Xavi combined with Lionel Messi to break the deadlock. However, not as you might expect – it was actually Messi who was the creator, acting as the pivot-point in Xavi’s wall-pass, a move that he finished in Messi-esque fashion with an impudent chip.

Finally, a breakthrough.

Not a moment too late either. The Camp Nou crowd had grown restless a long time ago and this goal calmed their nerves just a tad. Enough to appease their bloodlust, for now at least. A few half-chances followed, but really the next noteworthy moment was the game’s second goal.

It was a half-chance at best, a cross from Dani Alves (take that haters) found Neymar around the penalty spot and the Brazilian swing his magical right boot at the ball, fizzing an unstoppable low volley past Irureta to seal the three points. Crisis, and game over.

Now the floodgates were opening. Neymar and Lionel Messi were combining and Messi got his goal as a reward, sliding a shot past Irureta’s despairing reach and into the back of the net via the far post. One away from Telmo Zarra’s record, with the Clasico on the horizon. You do the math folks, next week could special...

Enter Munir and enter Sandro. Well, Sandro actually replaced Pedro before the game’s second goal, but you get the picture. Lucho was confident that the game was over and was resting a few key names to reflect that. Neymar received a standing ovation – warranted one might add; the Brazilian has been an absolute sensation this season and the best is still yet to come, which is a terrifying prospect for opposing defenders.

Oh, and this Uruguayan fellow is still to come as well...but more on him next week. I’m taking an extended break from the site, but will hopefully pop back in for a report on the Clasico. Until next time, and always, Visca el Barça!

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# Commenter # Comments
1 Bostjan Cernensek 82
2 Artemis11 80
3 oddsbodiSkins 36
4 Som-i-Serem 33
5 Willis1984 28
6 ade fox 25
7 Staralfur 24
8 Ian Reynolds 23
9 tilak 19
10 Anders Thomassen 18
11 TwoA 17
12 Steven Cordero 13
13 PG9 12
14 barzaboy 12
15 JordiBalboa 9
16 craig00000 8
17 feeya7 8
18 LaSenyera 8
19 Abohabiba 7
20 ghost. 5
21 Uncharted_Almo 4
22 Catalan_Blood 4
23 Inder Methil 4
24 Dios 4
25 milesbarca 4
26 Abdul95 3
27 damaso 2
28 MessiLeftFoot 2
29 LA495 2
30 segunaina 2
31 Neyssi 2
32 UnderConstructionCule 2
33 Overrun by Suits 1
34 Rivens 1
35 imran raad 1
36 defeaning_silence 1
37 rnmrqz 1
38 JoseM14 1
39 NoImagination90 1
40 Richzorz 1