As the players descended onto the field, the rain descended onto the Ipurua Municipal Stadium. The La Liga minnows Eibar have been defying expectations this season and with 6,300 fans in attendance, they were looking to pull off a historic result.
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The wet conditions were met with a physical approach from the hosts as they looked to unsettle the free flowing football of Barcelona. Sergio Busquets took a knock to the ankle while Luis Suárez was throwing his weight around upfront. But any Eibar hopes of keeping it level for as long as possible were cut short in the seventh minute.
Lionel Messi was stationed on the right flank before spotting the run of Suárez in behind. With seemingly no back-lift, Messi got the ball up and over the back line into the path of his strike partner. With his own angle at goal a tight one, the Uruguayan spotted the run of Munir to the left. Suárez fired the ball across the box and a slight deflection placed it perfectly into Munir's stride. He tapped it in at the back post and Barça were 1-0 up after seven minutes.
Barcelona goals often come in quick succession. Giving you no time to recover, they get at you to ensure they hit you when you are trying to hit them. Eibar seemed wary of this and looked to keep the ball in Barça's half for as long as possible. In fact, they came close to getting an equaliser. Josip Radosevic's whipped cross was met by Iván Ramis in the centre but despite having a free header, the defender could only direct it wide.
At the other end, there was plenty of space in behind for Barça's attackers to run into. Messi was routinely trying the ball over the top but the efforts couldn't quite be taken down. Barcelona's next best chance came through this method as Messi chipped the ball to find Munir. The winger, who was playing in the place of the suspended Neymar, seemed in a perfect position to find Suárez in the middle but he hit the half volley ahead of the Barça number 9 and it came to nothing.
Looking to capitalise on that missed chance, Eibar came close through Gonzalo Escalante. There was a definite game plan to attack Jordi Alba at the far post. Many balls were floated in towards that area looking to take advantage of the diminutive full back's height. This time, Escalanate took a step back from Alba which allowed him to connect with the ball on the volley. It was in an awkward position though and he could only place it wide of the far post.
Barcelona were struggling to get away on the counter and Eibar were racking up possession in the Catalan's half. Despite not having Neymar, there was still plenty of pace in Barça's front three so any breakaway that did get past Eibar's first line of defence was always going to be a danger.
This danger was exploited in the 42nd minute. Half time was coming and it was the home side on top but the best way to turn the tide in your favour is to grab a goal. After an Eibar attack, all of the front three were running towards the opponent's goal. Munir played it to Messi who continued to run towards the box. He dragged the defenders over to the left but instead of playing it to the now free Suárez, he fired it across Asier Riesgo and into the corner of the net.
The half time whilst blew at 2-0 and Luis Enrique could've been relatively happy but wary that an Eibar goal would make it a lot less comfortable. Barcelona have recently started the second half very strong and Enrique would've been hoping for an early goal to put the game to bed. However, the home side were looking just as big a threat as Barça were.
The rain continued to fall in the Basque country and the game suffered as a result. There were more wayward passes, more slips and less chances. Messi was dropping deeper to see the ball while Arda Turan was pushing forward but the final ball wasn't quite there.
Surprisingly, Enrique did not make any substitutions at the hour mark and there were a few signs of tiredness.
The game was approaching the final fifteen minutes and Barça had a chance to put the result past Eibar. Messi was tricking his way in the box but Ramis was staying with him. Messi went to cross the ball and the defender slid to block it but as he did, it got caught under his arm. It seemed more a case of falling on the ball than intentionally handling but the referee pointed to the spot regardless. Messi was the man to step up and he calmly slotted it down the middle as the keeper dove to his left.
With the game won, Enrique made the rare choice of a triple substation as Busquets, Gerard Piqué and Turan left the field for Marc Bartra, Sergi Roberto and Thomas Vermaelen.
There was just time for one final goal and nail in Eibar's coffin. A long ball forward from Claudio Bravo was headed away but Roberto, on the volley, found Suárez. It was an excellent goal that personified Suárez. He made the right run, had the technical ability to nutmeg a defender, the physicality to hold off another then the finishing ability to find the corner of the net. The game ended and while the 4-0 scoreline wasn't truly reflective of the game, Barcelona's superstar quality was there for all to see.
There is hardly a greater example of David v Goliath than Eibar v Barcelona but unfortunately for Eibar, Goliath turned up and brought his friends.
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