Barcelona will finish 2019 as leaders of La Liga thanks to a 4-1 win over Alavés Saturday at Camp Nou. The Blaugrana played a very good first half, didn’t bother to play the second, but scored goals at the right times to walk away as winners and go into the holiday break in first place.
Barça showed hunger and intent from the jump, dominating possession and pressing high up the pitch whenever they lost it. They were active and sharp with their passing and movement in the final third, and the Alavés defense just couldn’t cope with all the action early on.
There were two goals scored in the first 15 minutes, but the first was disallowed for a slight offside on Lionel Messi as the captain was just a little too eager to get on the receiving end of a masterful assist from Sergio Busquets. It didn’t take long for a proper goal to be scored, though: Luis Suárez with the cross, Antoine Griezmann with a nice right-footed finish.
Barça continued to attack and create loads of chances with plenty of bodies running into the box, but somehow they couldn’t get the ball into the net as we approached halftime. The best chance came on a spectacular counter-attack that nearly ended with a goal of the season contender from Messi and Griezmann, but the ball just would not go in.
Until the last play of the first, when Suárez was once again the provider with a nice assist for a powerful strike from Arturo Vidal to make it 2-0 just seconds before the final whistle. At halftime, Barça were dominant and could very easily extend the lead even further with a serious second half performance.
It wasn’t serious. Barça made a pathetic start to the final period, sleepwalking through the first 20 minutes unbothered to keep up the intensity and the attacking intent, and they allowed Alavés back into the game by not defending a simple cross and letting Pere Pons make a free run into the box to head the ball home.
Alavés scoring didn’t really wake up the Barça attack, so Lionel Messi decided to act: the captain picked up the ball outside the box with four defenders around him, found a little space and fired a gorgeous curling shot into the near corner to make it 3-1. Just five minutes later Barça were given a penalty thanks to VAR, and Luis Suárez made it four from the spot.
No more goals were scored as both teams seemed satisfied to keep things as they were, and the final whistle came to end a good win that could have been a great one. Hating on Valverde is easy, but this one is on the players. Their lack of effort and attention in the second half was just pathetic. Enjoy your holidays, Barça fans. Not watching this team for the next two weeks is a gift.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto (Semedo 84’), Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Vidal, Busquets (De Jong 79’), Aleñá; Messi, Suárez (Pérez 84’), Griezmann
Goals: Griezmann (14’), Vidal (45’), Messi (69’), Suárez (75’)
Alavés: Pacheco; Martín, Ely, Navarro, Duarte; Pere Pons, García; Vidal (Burke 86’), Muñoz (Rioja 53’), Wakaso (Joselu 70’); Pérez
Goal: Pere Pons (56’)