FC Barcelona keeps their lead in La Liga as El Blaugrana stomped Rayo Vallecano 6-0 at the Camp Nou on Saturday night.
The game had just started when Adriano got the scoring started in the second minute as his shot from the left side, outside of the box, curled beautifully into the back of the net. Adriano is the Liga king of long golazos! Lionel Messi got his goal in the 36th minute as a pass by Cesc Fabregas led to Messi lobbing the ball over Rayo goalkeeper Ruben for the 2-0 lead. With his goal, Messi became the all-time leading goal scorer for a single club in Liga history with 336 goals (official matches). Legend.
In the second half, Alexis Sanchez made it 3-0 as Messi set up the Chilean who put the ball low toward the near post and into the back of the net for the goal. In one of the loveliest plays you'll see all season, Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta pulled the give-&-go as Iniesta's beautiful back heel found Cesc running toward goal, and Fabregas found Pedro for Barça's fourth goal on the night. A magical play, to say the least. Messi completed his brace in the 67th minute for FCB's fifth goal. Neymar came into the game near the 60th minute to get some competitive minutes into those rusty legs. Just before the final whistle, Neymar scored an absolutely beautiful golazo to tell the football world, "I'm back."
Let's get to the Best, Worst, and What We Learned from this game.
The Best: Messi, Fabregas, Iniesta
With his second goal on the night, Messi (228 goals) surpassed Real Madrid legend Alfredo di Stefano for fourth place in the all-time goal scorer in La Liga history (227). Messi is now tied with Raúl for third all time, and only seven goals away from passing Hugo Sanchez for second all time (234). Eres grande, D10S!
Cesc was straight ballin' on Saturday. His passes were on point, his energy was intoxicating, and he was on par with Iniesta when it came to creating goal-scoring plays for Barça. Don Andres was brilliant on the night as well, including that wonderful back heel pass to Cesc to set up the fourth FCB goal.
The Worst: The minutes between Adriano's goal and Messi's goal.
Once again, FC Barcelona took the lead against their opponent early, dominated, and had many goal-scoring opportunities. But once again, Barcelona was unable to expand their lead, giving their opponent a shot to come back.
We've all seen this story before.
I understand Barça has been unlucky when it comes to shots off the post, but the bad decisions when it comes to passes inside the box, realizing when to the shot and not pass, and so on, are not part of luck. Bad decisions and lack of executing the finish. This team still has moments when they are not able to finish off a team early. Hopefully, this will change soon, because it could end up costing them a game, as we saw a few weeks ago against Valencia.
What We Learned: Tata Martino may need to sit Xavi against Manchester City, and start Cesc and Iniesta.
Xavi is going to be ready for the Manchester City game on Tuesday, but if I were Tata Marino, I don't know how I could sit Cesc Fabregas or Andres Iniesta on Tuesday. I'm not saying Xavi should not play against City; what I'm saying is that Tata should consider not starting Xavi, start Cesc and Andres, and use Xavi as a substitute.
I love Xavi, and he'll probably get the start, but it's tough to keep Iniesta or Cesc on the bench when they are in such good form as of late, knowing the first leg of this match-up will be the toughest test of the season. Tata could always surprise us and put Cesc at the False 9 spot, moving Messi to the RW position and either Pedro, Alexis or Neymar at the LW spot. This lineup would have all three mids together on the pitch. Then again, if one needs to be subbed off, Sergi Roberto would be the main substitute, which is not the most ideal plan-with all due respect to Sergi. Alex Song is always there to change the midfield structure for Barça as well.
Tata has a tough call to make, but with him resting Xavi for the Rayo game, I makes sense that Tata will start Xavi. Not that that's a bad thing, but with Cesc and Don Andres' playing at such a high level as of late, it's tough to risk stopping their good chemistry and rhythm in order to put in Xavi.
What's Next?: Tuesday at Manchester City in Champions League action
FC Barcelona will face their toughest test of the 2013-14 season thus far as they will head to Manchester and face City in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League match-up. Look for Xavi to start, as he was left out of the team for the Rayo game to rest up for City. Javier Mascherano is also expected to start, as he played only a few minutes against Rayo. Neymar could start as well, as he played only a few minutes on Saturday. Then again, Neymar did look a bit rusty against Rayo, and Tata could always go with Pedro or Alexis to start, with Neymar coming into the City game as a substitution.
Xoel's Final Word
It was a glorious game for FC Barcelona as they dominated from the start, and destroyed Rayo Vallecano 6-0 at the Camp Nou on Saturday night.
Now, the biggest and toughest test of the season thus far is upon us, as Barcelona face Manchester City on Tuesday.
Time to step up. Time to stay strong. Time to go to Manchester, battle City, and return home with a win.
Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona