On this week's episode, we'll talk about Barça's 6-0 win over Granada, Jeremy Mathieu, the Champions League and more. Let's go!
Barça 6-0 Granada
Neymar scored in the 25th minute to make it 1-0. Ivan Rakitic got a goal in the 43rd minute as Lionel Messi sent a great cross into the area and Rakitic was there to head the cross in for the second Barça goal on the day. Just a minute later, the lead went to 3-0 as Messi set up Munir, Granada goalkeeper Roberto got a touch on the ball, but landed at Neymar's feet and the Brazilian netted his brace.
In the second half, Messi got his goal as Xavi set up Dani Alves who then crossed it to a wide-open Leo for the header. It was Lionel Messi's 400th goal of his career.
— SB Nation (@SBNation) September 27, 2014
El gol 401 de Leo Messi. ¡BRUTAL! https://t.co/O3dg3jt34h— Liga BBVA (@LigaGoleador) September 27, 2014
Neymar got his hat trick in the 65th minute as Xavi connects with Messi who feeds Ney for his third goal. Messi grabbed his brace in the 81st minute to make it 6-0. At 248 goals in La Liga in his career, Leo Messi is now only four goals from becoming the Liga's all-time leading goal-scoring king. Grande D10S!
— barcastuff (@barcastuff) September 28, 2014
Luis Enrique's men bounced back from such a poor showing at Málaga to having their best showing of the La Liga season.
Jeremy Mathieu: the best CB on FCB
As soon as the 2013-14 Liga season ended, rumors began to surface that sporting director Andoni Zubizaretta, president Josep Bartomeu and then-newly signed manager Luis Enrique were interested in signing then-Valencia LB/CB Jeremy Mathieu. Many fans continued to say this was a terrible move to go for such an "old" player, as well as the fact that he is not a big-name CB like Mats Hummels or one of the top CBs in the world like Mehdi Benatia.
Barça's plan was always Jeremy Mathieu and PSG's Marquinhos. After tough negotiations with Valencia and having to pay the full €20 million release clause, Barcelona got Mathieu. Marquinhos never came, but Barça got one of their targets.
Many fans were unhappy, and it was understandable—especially after Benatia went to Bayern Munich for "just" €15 million more than Barcelona paid for Mathieu.
Remember Jeremy Mathieu's press conference? If not, let me remind you that Mathieu had several questions thrown to him that were a bit disrespectful. The Barcelona media were not convinced that Jeremy was a good signing. During Mathieu's presentation at the Camp Nou, a group of fans shouted "Zubi, Resignation," obviously stating their displeasure with his signings, Mathieu included.
Jeremy Mathieu took a pay cut to join FC Barcelona. Barcelona VP Jordi Mestre stated this during the presentation. "Jeremy showed, both financially and personally, that he really wanted to play at Barça - we're grateful for that." Reports stated he gave up €3 million to join the Catalans. Last week, a fan confronted Mathieu as he was leaving the Ciutat Esportiva. The fan was made and told Mathieu he lost €200 due to Barça's 0-0 draw at Málaga.
And after all of this: the displeasure of some fans, being disrespected by the media, as well as taking a pay cut, Jeremy Mathieu has never verbally retaliated toward his critics.
Instead, Jeremy Mathieu is letting his game do the talking.
Mathieu has been the best CB for Lucho's team this season. Yes, there have been moments he's made a few mistakes (on the road), but overall, Jeremy has been solid. He's already got the chemistry with Jordi Alba on the left side of the back line, as they were teammates at Valencia. As we saw in the Granada game and all season, Mathieu continues make great slide tackles and his speed is tremendous. Culés are now embracing the Frenchman as another good fit in the Barça puzzle.
— La Masia Cule (@ars_cule) September 27, 2014
Recently, Gerard Pique stated that Mathieu is one of the best CBs in the world right now. When asked about Pique's comment, Jeremy was humble with his response. "No, I'm not [one of the best CBs in the world]. I have a long way to go for that. Like I said, I'm going to give 100% for this team and I intend to do it the best way I can. What I want is the best for the team."
Monsieur Mathieu, très bon!
Paris Saint-Germain vs. FC Barcelona
This Tuesday, Barcelona will travel to France to take on PSG in the UEFA Champions League Group F action. Look for Lucho to go with his "A" line up of: Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Jeremy Mathieu, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Andres Iniesta; Pedro, Lionel Messi and Neymar.
Look for Marc-Andre ter Stegen to start at GK. While many would say Munir El Haddadi should start over Pedro, let's not forget that Pedro does have years of CL experience and despite the Canarians struggles, he's a better option to start on the road in a CL game than the young, inexperienced Munir.
Lastly, Barcelona will debut their third "highlighter" (as I'm calling it) kits against the Parisians, who continue to struggle in Ligue I via more draws. Thiago Silva, Ezekiel Lavezzi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are out for the game; all injured.
Barcelona should be able to handle weakened PSG.
Prediction: PSG 1-2 FC Barcelona
Next weekend's Liga match: at Rayo Vallecano
This upcoming Saturday, Lucho and the squad travel to Madrid to face Rayo Vallecano. We'll have a full preview of the match later this week here on SB Nation.
In less than a month....
Luis Suarez is released at the Santiago Bernabeu from his FIFA imprisonment.
El Clásico can't come soon enough for Luis Suárez! pic.twitter.com/Aszu6u8Lzh— FansAllStar Football (@FASfootball) September 12, 2014
Photo of the week (via @barcastuff)
— barcastuff (@barcastuff) September 27, 2014
Every generation has its heroes.
Xoel's Final Word
The biggest game of the young competitive season is upon us as Barcelona head to Paris to take on PSG. A Barça win would give the Catalans a nice five-point edge over PSG in the Group F table.
Time to invade Paris and take the points.
Xoel, The Voice of Els Culés and host/creator of "This Week in FC Barcelona" every Monday on SB Nation.