Barcelona remain three points clear at the top of the La Liga table thanks to a truly dominant 5-0 victory on the road against Levante. After a tough beginning to the game, Barça saw Lionel Messi take over, score a hat-trick and lead his team to a big victory and ensure Barça will finish the year as league leaders.
Without the injured Nélson Semedo, Ernesto Valverde decided to start three central defenders and match Levante’s formation, and having Ousmane Dembélé as a wing-back clearly hurt the player and the team. Barça couldn’t put together really good attacking moves, and Levante didn’t have trouble stopping the Blaugrana. Dembélé had to defend a lot more than he’s used to, and his side was used time after time by Levante to attack.
There wasn’t much action in the first 30 minutes, and then the game caught fire when Emmanuel Boateng hit the crossbar, which was followed by Lionel Messi attracting four defenders and finding Luis Suárez completely free inside the box, and the Uruguayan scored a great volley to put Barça ahead. The Blaugrana dominated after scoring, and added a second goal when Sergio Busquets played a gorgeous through ball and Messi had no problems finding the back of the net.
At halftime, Barça had a lot of problems for 35 minutes. Then Messi happened, and Barça were 45 minutes away from a big away victory.
Barça started the second half by making sure the game was over, with Suárez, Jordi Alba and Messi combining for a beautiful counter attack and a second goal for Leo as the visitors made it 3-0 and effectively ended the match. Things got even better when a great passing move ended with Arturo Vidal giving Messi a tap-in and his hat-trick.
The game was definitely over with 30 minutes still to go, and the final half-hour when as expected: Levante tried to attack and get a consolation goal, while Barça tried to maintain a solid defense and score more goals on the counter. Nothing happened for a long time, and then Gerard Piqué joined the scoring party with two minutes to go and made it 5-0 for Barça.
The final whistle came on what is another sensational away performance from the champions. The formation change was interesting, Lionel Messi was absurd again, and this team looks really good right now. Really, really good.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Piqué, Lenglet, Vermaelen (Arthur); Dembélé (Denis), Rakitic, Busquets, Vidal (Coutinho), Alba; Messi, Suárez
Goals: Suárez (35’), Messi (43’, 47’, 60’), Piqué (88’)
Levante: Oier; Cabaco, Postigo (Prcic), Rober; Jason, Rochina (Coke), Campaña, Bardhi, Toño; Boateng (Mayoral), Morales