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La Liga: FC Barcelona 5-0 Levante UD: Match Review

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A comprehensive, blow-by-blow recap of FC Barcelona 11th successive victory, as they dispatched Levante UD 5-0 at the Camp Nou on Sunday evening

David Ramos/Getty Images

FC Barcelona closed the gap to league leaders Real Madrid on Sunday evening with another sensational victory – their 11th consecutive win in all competitions, as the Blaugrana overpowered and overwhelmed Levante UD 5-0 at the Camp Nou. A hat-trick from Lionel Messi helped us on our way, as did the opening goal from Neymar, but the headline will probably come from substitute Luis Suarez’ goal – a jaw-dropping bicycle kick that perfectly summarised Barcelona’s dominance over the 90 minutes.

Barcelona

Levante

Possession

76%

24%

Total Shots

18

5

Shots on Target

10

1

Corners

3

4

Fouls

6

13

Offsides

3

1

Yellow Cards

1

2

Red Cards

0

0

With his eye on an eleventh successive victory, FC Barcelona head coach took the opportunity to ring the changes, making a total of eight changes to the side that defeated Villarreal CF 3-1 in midweek. Claudio Bravo was back in goal, while Martin Montoya, Adriano Correia and Marc Bartra were all granted rare starts in defense. Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernández and Ivan Rakitić rotated back into the midfield, while Luis Suarez made way for Pedro Rodriguez, who was marking a milestone – 300 appearances for the Blaugrana.

Would he mark the occasion with a goal? Would FC Barcelona keep their momentum and extend their winning streak? Really, what chance did Levante have of avoiding a complete beat down?

***

Barça started the match well; as was to be expected, the visitors had arrived with a defensive mindset, swiftly establishing a deep-lying, compact 4-2-3-1 in a bid to frustrate their hosts. Up against Barcelona’s fluid 4-3-3, it was obvious from the outset that Barça were going to dominate possession and territory, perhaps limiting their chances on the counter-attack in comparison to recent fixtures.

Still, we didn’t have to wait long for the first shot on goal – Pedro received possession on the right-wing and after a couple of stopovers he dropped a shoulder to create some space for a shot. His left-footed effort lacked any real power or placement, causing Marino no troubles at all in the Levante goal. A deflected long-range shot from Sergio Busquets around the five minute mark could have been more problematic, but again the Levante keeper dealt with the danger well.

Before long, the duo of Neymar and Lionel Messi announced their arrival with a cute piece of combination play; Neymar was the provider, sliding an accurate through-ball into the run of Messi who evaded the Levante defense with a sumptuous first touch. Dropping a shoulder in trademark fashion, Messi shaped up for the shot and we all expected some sort of end product. Alas, Messi’s shot was poor and ended up well off-target.

Nevertheless, it had been an encouraging start at the Camp Nou. We had possession, but we were also looking sharp. The tempo of the passing was good. The movement was good; the chances were coming and before long, the goals would surely follow suit.

And indeed they did; the fabled Messi-Neymar partnership wasn’t going to be denied for long. This time, Messi was the creator – a role he has often taken up this season, much to Neymar’s benefit, and this was no exception. Messi curled a cross/lofted through ball over the defense and Neymar, played on side by Ivan Ramis, made relatively light work of the finish. Even if he didn’t quite make clean contact with his shot, it was enough to send the ball looping over Marino and into the back of the net.

With 17 minutes on the clock, Barcelona were on the scoresheet and the three points were all but in the bag.

Unfortunately, that sentiment was generally reflected in the level of Barcelona’s play. Even when Levante vaguely threatened on the counter-attack, they couldn’t challenge Barça’s dominance and we were quite frankly content with what we had. We weren’t pressing particularly hard for that second goal, nor were we really being patient either. Really, Barça were quite comfortable in not doing an awful lot at all.

There’s nothing wrong with that – the result wasn’t in question and it made sense to conserve energy but it didn’t exactly make for scintillating watching either. Perhaps that’s just because we’ve been spoiled by epic encounters in recent matches; still, three points is three points and we were well on track to pick up our 11th straight win.

A wrongly disallowed Lionel Messi goal left something of a sour taste in the mouth around the 35 minute mark. It represented Barcelona’s first real attack of note since the opening goal and it came on the counter; a Levante free-kick was cleared with ease and after Pedro found Neymar, Barça were on the run. An exchange of passes with Lionel Messi left the Levante defense trailing in their wake – but as Messi applied the finish; the assistant erroneously raised his flag. Replays suggested that Messi was onside by at least a metre.

Disappointing, but Messi didn’t let that wrangle for too long; presented with another chance just minutes later, he finally grabbed Barcelona’s second goal. While Messi will get the plaudits for another cool finish, this goal was created by and would not have been possible without the efforts and anticipation of Marc Bartra. His interception was incredible, but his pass was even better, allowing Messi an easy one-on-one to work his magic.

The quality may have only been shown in bursts, but Barça were simply far too strong for Levante.

In truth, Messi should have completed his brace almost immediately after the restart. Teed up by Neymar in the Levante area, Messi simply had to pick his place and surely would have scored, but his finish was uncharacteristically poor. We expected to see the back of the net ripple again, but Messi instead tested the catching skills of the Culés sitting in the stands. Confirmation perhaps that Messi is human after all.

Not that it mattered; Barça were comfortably ahead at the break – it was simply a question of how many the Blaugrana would score in the second half.

***

For a while, it seemed as though we would run riot. The Levante area became our new home – we set up camp and proceeded to pepper the Levante goal with shots. Sometimes we were probably guilty of over-elaborating, but it was a joy to watch the players express themselves with some tremendous combinations.

A whole host of chances came and went without Barça adding to the scoreline – but let’s focus on the chance that did. Sergio Busquets instigated the move with a perfectly-timed, perfectly-weighted lobbed through ball over the Levante backline to find the run of Pedro. The Spaniard was clearly onside and selflessly squared the ball to find Lionel Messi in space for a simple tap-in. It was the Argentine’s second goal of the evening and his 25th of the La Liga campaign.

With a three-goal cushion, Luis Enrique turned to his bench to make some changes. Ivan Rakitić was the first to make way with Sergi Roberto his replacement for the final half-hour. The Catalan midfielder has impressed in his recent appearances; could he make an impact in this cameo?

Time would tell what impact he would make, but for now the rest of the Blaugrana were busy continuing where they had left off. A driving run into the area by Neymar enticed Ivan Lopez to make a challenge – but as usual, the ball was always in Neymar’s control. Lopez didn’t have a chance – and the referee duly pointed to the spot as Neymar was sent tumbling by Lopez’ errant leg. Up stepped Lionel Messi, who sent Marino the wrong way to complete his hat-trick.

That proved to be Neymar’s final contribution of the night; he was rested for the final 25 minutes with Luis Suarez replacing the Brazilian in the Barça attack. Would he be able to add to the tally?

The short answer: yes.

Long answer?

Holy mother of goodness, Suarez would not add to the tally, but he would upstage all the other goals combined with a sensational chilena – a pure golazo for the ages. Adriano Correia will be credited with an assist, although in truth, his cross wasn’t exactly great. It didn’t have a lot of pace, and was actually behind the run of Suarez. Luisito didn’t care – he improvised. Leaping into the air, Suarez let fly with an acrobatic bicycle kick and sent the ball into the opposite corner of the net to bring to the Camp Nou crowd to its feet.

A wonder-goal from a player who has now not only found his place, but has also found his confidence. Manchester City, Real Madrid; watch out, Barça are on a streak and we’re coming for you.

Next up, Malaga will visit the Camp Nou off the back of humbling defeats to Levante and Espanyol – but until then, Visca el Barça!

Roll Call Info
Total comments 434
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Commenter list A.J.Khan, Abdul95, Anders Thomassen, Anirudh_Kul, AraibKarim, Barca Boy, BarcaLifer, Bostjan Cernensek, CifuentesErick, Delano Heerkens, Diehardsupporter, FCBMo, FCB_Z8, FloFourFCBarca, LocoZZZ, LotusV3, Navz, NoImagination90, PG9, Piquénbauer, Prcho, Rajesh1101s, Richzorz, Ruy Diaz, Som-i-Serem, Staralfur, Steven Cordero, Varungrover, abdulla0207, ade fox, chamouco, craig00000, cule-since-1992, davesy22, el_uruguayo, footballfordoze, hdp78, hobo_barca, jithen, jrpm990127, llamas612, milesbarca, passenger, semperty, shubham2806, sid_barca, smichael69
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# Commenter # Comments
1 Bostjan Cernensek 47
2 Ruy Diaz 34
3 Som-i-Serem 32
4 FCBMo 32
5 craig00000 27
6 FloFourFCBarca 24
7 jithen 21
8 Delano Heerkens 19
9 Anders Thomassen 18
10 FCB_Z8 17
11 ade fox 15
12 NoImagination90 14
13 Barca Boy 13
14 Steven Cordero 13
15 Richzorz 10
16 LotusV3 10
17 abdulla0207 10
18 llamas612 9
19 cule-since-1992 7
20 Piquénbauer 5
21 smichael69 4
22 el_uruguayo 4
23 passenger 4
24 LocoZZZ 3
25 PG9 3
26 Navz 3
27 BarcaLifer 3
28 Abdul95 3
29 footballfordoze 3
30 milesbarca 2
31 hobo_barca 2
32 Anirudh_Kul 2
33 semperty 2
34 Staralfur 2
35 sid_barca 2
36 jrpm990127 2
37 A.J.Khan 2
38 CifuentesErick 2
39 shubham2806 1
40 Diehardsupporter 1
41 Prcho 1
42 hdp78 1
43 davesy22 1
44 chamouco 1
45 Rajesh1101s 1
46 Varungrover 1
47 AraibKarim 1