Barcelona are back to winning ways in La Liga thanks to a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Levante at Camp Nou on Sunday night in Catalonia. The Blaugrana didn’t play a superb match but created plenty of really good chances to win, but Aitor Fernández had a great night in goal and it took a perfect finish by Lionel Messi in the 76th minute to give Barça an important win at home.
Barça had a slow start to the game, with not a lot of purpose and speed to their passing and with players not willing to move with intensity in the final third, which allowed Levante to stay organized and not see a lot of trouble early on while also being dangerous on the counter, with De Frutos missing a huge chance in front of Marc-André ter Stegen in the first 15 minutes.
Slowly but surely the Blaugrana started to increase the pressure and the pace of their attacking plays, and the chances started coming. There were four really good ones: first on a free-kick by Lionel Messi that found Antoine Griezmann all alone for a header, but Aitor Fernández made a huge save and saw Clément Lenglet miss the rebound against an open net.
The third chance was on a beautiful volley by Jordi Alba from the edge of the box for another excellent save by Aitor, and the Levante keeper’s best moment of the half came on another volley, this time by Griezmann after a cross from Messi that required an amazing stop by Aitor.
Fernández also made two other saves on shots from Martin Braithwaite and a good direct free-kick by Messi, and at halftime Barça weren’t playing great but created enough chances to score, and if they could find a way to get past Aitor the win would come in the second half.
Barça started the second half how they finished the first, dominating territory and possession and continuing to fire shots on goal, although they couldn’t truly trouble Aitor for a while. Messi and Griezmann were very active and Braithwaite continued to run around trying to find spaces as well, and the goal looked like a matter of time.
It finally came with 15 minutes to go, thanks to a great bit of high pressure from Griezmann, Braithwaite and Francisco Trincão, who worked together to recover the ball and find Frenkie De Jong, who found Messi, who found the back of the net to finally beat Aitor.
With a narrow lead they worked so hard to get, Barça decided not to take any major risks and stay solid at the back while still trying to find a second goal. The Blaugrana had a back five to finish the game with Samuel Umtiti playing as a third center-back. Umtiti made a couple of really important interventions and the game ended with a big save from Ter Stegen, and the final whistle came to give Barça a hard-fought win and three important points.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Dest, Araujo, Lenglet, Alba; De Jong, Busquets (Pedri 57’); Griezmann (Umtiti 89’), Coutinho (Trincão 70’), Braithwaite; Messi
Goal: Messi (76’)
Levante: Aitor; Coke (Miramón 68’), Postigo, Vezo, Clerc; De Frutos (Son 82’), Vukcevic (Radoja 68’), Malsa, Melero (León 82’); Martí (Morales 68’), Gómez