Everyone expected a really difficult game, and it's exactly what happened for Barcelona against Málaga. The Blaugranes had to fight a bad team performance and an valiant opponent, but still got a huge 2-1 win on the road, thanks to goals from Munir El-Haddadi and Lionel Messi. Juanpi scored for Málaga. With the win, the Blaugrana are once again at the top of the league table, and escaped one of the toughest games of every season with a key victory.
Goal, Barcelona. Within the first minute of action, a beautiful through ball by Messi found Luis Suárez in the box, and league's top goalscorer turned into assistant, setting up Munir for an easy tap-in. With such an early lead, it looked like the predictions of a tough game were all wrong.
They were not. Málaga started to completely dominate the game, pressuring high up the pitch and forcing a totally changed Barça defense into a ridiculous number of miscues. With every mistake by the Blaugrana back four, the Albicelestes would get closer and closer to the goal. It finally happened, thanks to another ball given away by Javier Mascherano, with Juanpi finishing the play for the hosts who got the equalizer.
The uninspired, stunned Blaugranes tried to recover themselves and get a second goal. It almost came with a counter-attack started and nearly finished by Messi, with the Málaga defense blocking the Argentine's shot at the last second.
At halftime, a poor game with a disappointing result and performance for a title-chasing team. The Blaugrana needed changes.
The changes came. In the lineup, with Mathieu coming in for Vermaelen, and in the overall level of performance. The visitors were much better, more intense, passing and moving faster, and pinning Málaga in their own box.
After a great possession sequence, Iniesta found an open Adriano at the edge of the box, and the Brazilian crossed a perfect ball to Messi, who finished the play with a sensational volley to give Barça the lead just five minutes into the half.
From then on, Málaga went forward in search of the game-tying score, with Barça controlling the ball as much as possible and trying to capitalize on counter-attacking opportunities.
But the scoreline remained the same, and Barça got the win. A giant win in a really hard game. PHEW.
Málaga: Kameni; Rosales, Angeleri, Weligton (Duda), Torres; Camacho, Recio (Fornals), Juanpi, Castro; Cop (Santa Cruz), Charles
Goal: Juanpi (32')
Barcelona: Bravo; Vidal, Mascherano, Vermaelen (Mathieu), Adriano (Roberto); Busquets, Arda, Iniesta; Messi, Suárez, Munir (Rakitic)
Goals: Munir (1'), Messi (51')