Barcelona is the only team in the Spanish League to have won all of its four games so far, and they maintained their perfect record with an easy, comfortable 4-1 victory against Levante on Sunday. It wasn't the best of performances, but it was a deserved result nonetheless. Here's a few takeaways from what we saw on Sunday:
1. Sergi Roberto has been very good at right-back, but Dani Alves is different. In football, there are talented men and hard workers. Roberto is a hard worker who makes up for his lack of spectacular skills with tremendous work ethic and will, and all that effort turned him into a very important piece of Luis Enrique's system in this young season. But the return of Alves gave Barça another dangerous offensive option. The second goal wouldn't have happened with Roberto, simply because he won't try those types of skill moves. This is zero percent a criticism towards Roberto, it's just that he can't do the stuff Alves can. And that's important to a Barça team that relies so much on it's full-backs on offense. Roberto will be great in games where Barça needs to defend against a great winger, but against parked buses, it's better to play Dani.
2. Lionel Messi should stop taking penalties. Here's a few reasons: He's statistically worse than Neymar Jr. and Luis Suárez. In fact, he's 1-for-3 in five games this season, which is very worrisome. Plus, even the guy who's accompanying him in the Mount Rushmore of football stopped trying from the spot when he saw he missed too much. Yes, the great Pelé wasn't the official penalty-kick taker at Santos, instead choosing to pass that along to one of his striking partners, Pepe. Every miss throws some unnecessary criticism on Leo, and his 77% accuracy rate might come back to hunt him one day. It's just simpler to avoid it.
3. Everybody steps up, which is huge. Players like Marc Bartra, Adriano, Sandro Ramírez and Munir El-Haddadi got hardly any time at all, and that is always tricky. No player likes to be on the bench, and when he's asked to play after a while, he might not be at his best in terms of confidence, which could impact their performances. With those four, that was not the case. In their own way, each one had an important contribution on Sunday, with Bartra standing out as the best of them. We all expect a lot from him, and he works hard every time he steps onto the pitch. Credit to Luis Enrique's rotations that keep everyone hungry and waiting for a chance, and they make the best of it. And that makes this squad really special.