Barcelona are now three points clear at the top of La Liga thanks to an amazing 4-0 victory over Espanyol on Saturday’s Catalan Derby. Captain Lionel Messi had one of his most incredible league performances to date, scoring two spectacular free-kicks and leading his team to a truly great win.
From the very first minute, Barcelona were clearly the better team in this game. They passed the ball well, they pressed high up the pitch and they suffocated Espanyol to the point where the home team couldn’t put three passes together. Lionel Messi was in rare form, running at defenders and creating chances for himself and others.
And then the goals started coming. First it was Messi, who won a free kick and then placed it into the top corner for one of the best goals of the season so far. Ten minutes later, Messi found Ousmane Dembélé on the left wing, and the Frenchman brought the ball into his right foot before unleashing a rocket into the top corner. After the second goal Espanyol had a few half-chances on crossing situations, but they never threatened at all.
Barça never stopped attacking and started to miss some incredible chances: first it was Luis Suárez who found himself one on one with the keeper and hit the post, then Ivan Rakitic and Messi missed point blank headers, and there was a feeling Barça didn’t quite kill the game despite such dominance.
They did find a third goal just before halftime to effectively end the contest, though: Dembélé played a gorgeous through ball to Luis Suárez, who used his strength to keep the ball away from his defender before nutmegging the keeper to make it 3-0 for the visitors.
At halftime, a truly breathtaking performance from Messi and the whole team had Barça not only up three goals, but putting on a memorable show in the Catalan Derby.
The first 15 minutes of the second half went as expected, with Espanyol pressuring high for an equalizer. Messi and Dembélé continued to be a threat on the counter whenever Barça had the ball, and after another free-kick was won at the edge of the box, Messi scored another ridiculous goal to make it 4-0 Barça with 25 minutes to go.
Espanyol thought they had a consolation goal when Óscar Duarte scored after a cross, but VAR disallowed the goal for an offside on Duarte. The final 10 minutes were filled with substitutions and Espanyol desperately trying to get a goal while Barça looked to keep the clean sheet.
The final whistle came, and Barça celebrated a memorable Derby victory. What a fantastic performance. This team is good, y’all.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Vidal, Busquets, Rakitic (Denis); Messi, Suárez (Munir), Dembélé (Coutinho)
Goals: Messi (17’, 65’), Dembélé (26’), Suárez (45’)
Espanyol: Diego López; Javi López, David López, Duarte, Dídac; Darder (Granero), Roca, Sánchez; Pérez (Baptistão), Iglesias, Melendo (García)