Barcelona is back on track after a two-week international break, getting a giant 5-2 victory over Rayo Vallecano thanks to a sensational performance by Neymar Jr. We all know how great the Brazlian was, so let's have a look elsewhere and take a few things away from a key win at home on Saturday:
1. Survival mode continues. Things were going to be tough until January anyway. The player sales and the transfer ban shortened the squad to a point where it would be hard to be as good as last season. Then, a ridiculous amount of injuries plagued the group, and all parts of the team suffered. Now the injured players are coming back, but we still don't have Messi, Iniesta and Rafinha. Until the three come back and Arda and Vidal can be registered, we won't see great performances. It's just that simple. The team won't be in sync as usual, and grinding out wins until things get better is the way to go.
2. The finishing issues are still there. Let's not get carried over by the five goals here. Yes, it was great to see, but the problems with the finishing are far from over. Just ten minutes in, Suárez, Rakitic and Sandro missed point-blank opportunities, and the story could have been way different had one or two of those easy shots gotten in. Neymar created magic out of nowhere and basically gave himself the penalty-kicks, and his game was out of this world. Despite a subpar collective game, chances were still created and weren't converted. This has to be corrected or, as we've already seen this season, it would come back to hunt the team in key games.
3. The defense is also still terrible. The right side of the defense was a nightmare, with Dani Alves once again being outclassed by the opposing winger. In the second half, Jordi Alba was thoroughly dominated by right winger Lass, and if it wasn't for Claudio Bravo and Mathieu, things could have gotten tricky. Credit goes to Mathieu, by the way, for a very encouraging response to the harsh criticism he received from the coaching staff. He wasn't perfect, but had a few last-second clearances and was overall good. Perhaps the only one. Have a cigar.