Barcelona continue to march on to the La Liga title thanks to a comfortable 2-0 win away to Málaga at La Rosaleda on Saturday. Even without Lionel Messi, Barça managed to dominate the worst team in the division to walk away with three more points, another clean sheets and some improved confidence ahead of Chelsea. All good.
Málaga are going down and have absolutely nothing to lose, so they did the right thing against a Barcelona without Lionel Messi: pressed them high and forced them to create without their superstar. But Málaga aren’t a good team and they left acres of space behind, and it was too easy for the Blaugrana to create chances.
Luis Suárez scored after just 15 minutes thanks to a lovely cross from Jordi Alba, and Philippe Coutinho doubled Barça’s lead with an exquisite finish following a wonderful individual play from Ousmane Dembélé. Things became even more comfortable for Barça when Samuel García was sent off with a direct red card for a criminal tackle on Jordi Alba.
At halftime, Barça were playing well enough to get a comfortable lead and pretty much guarantee the win. Would they keep up the pressure to score some more goals?
The second half was quite open as Barça looked for a goal to kill the game and Málaga looked to score to have some hope of getting back. Both goalkeepers were busy but never had to make any really big saves as both sides just took a lot of weak shots from distance that Jiménez and Ter Stegen easily collected.
The final 45 minutes were fun to watch, which hasn’t been the case in most of Barça matches under Valverde. The win came, nobody is injured, and we’ll have Messi back for Chelsea. Things are looking good tonight.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto (Gomes), Piqué, Umtiti, Alba (Digne); Rakitic, Busquets; Dembélé, Paulinho, Coutinho; Suárez
Goals: Suárez (15), Coutinho (28’)
Málaga: Jiménez; Rosales, Hernández, Miquel, Ricca; Samuel, Iturra, Lacen, Castro (Lestienne); Rolan (Success), En-Nesyri (Ideye)