Barcelona had a big weekend in La Liga with a dominant, entertaining 5-0 win against Sporting Gijón at El Molinón. The Blaugrana played a great game, scored loads of goals and deservedly won a key game on the road. Here's a few takeaways from an impressive display on Saturday:
1 - Messi-less Neymar is really fun to watch
The entire 'MSN' trio is obviously incredible, but whenever one of them is out, it's very interesting to watch how the other two work without the third guy. Messi-Neymar and Messi-Suárez are fun combinations, but nothing is coller than seeing Neymar-Suárez play without Leo. Luisito is the same regardless, and he actually takes his game up a noth by working twice as hard and shooting more on goal. But Neymar is a different monster without Messi, and it's so fun to see. You can see how much Ney wants to prove he can do the job, trying to get everyone involved all the time and looking a lot calmer and composed in comparison to the bold, happy, provocative (good provocative) guy we see when Leo plays. Neymar clearly has the potential to play the Messi role, and his willigness to do it is the best thing about it. Ney is not nearly the player Messi is, and he knows it. But he tries it anyway, and he usually does well.
To sum it all up, this tweet from our SB Nation friend Kevin McCauley is perfect:
Neymar’s ability to adjust his playing style completely based on Messi’s presence or lack thereof is great. My favorite thing about him.— a good millennial (@kevinmccauley) September 24, 2016
2 - Sergi Roberto is a world-class footballer
There's just no escaping this anymore, it's just a fact. Our brains as Barça fans still can't process another right-back not named Dani Alves, and we'll always measure the new RB against Alves' best version. That's impossible because Dani is one of the best full-backs of all time, and they just don't grow on trees. Barça needed a very good replacement to the Brazilian, and they got one on Roberto. This guy went from Lord Sergi to one of the most complete, best all-around players in football, someone every great manager wants on their team. We need to learn to appreciate Roberto, because even though he isn't as good as Dani Alves, players like him don't grow on trees either.
3 - Arda Turan is finally a proper Barcelona player
Arda's situation is very similar to Roberto, even though they are different players with different expecations: we all though Sergi would be the next Xavi, and we all thought Arda would bring his Atlético Madrid talents and play amazing football right away. Just like Sergi, it took time and different positions for Arda to finally find his form and his place within the Barça system. After almost two months of the new season, it's safe to say Turan is now settled and playing his usual football. This early form does not look like a fluke, it's just what we're going to see from Arda from now on. He will have bad days like all other players, but there's no need to get desperate. He definitely does not look like returning to his terrible first few months, and we are finally able to appreciate Arda's abilities.