Barcelona are back! The greatest club in the world returned to La Liga action after three months with a very good 4-0 win away to Mallorca thanks to two assists and a goal from Lionel Messi, a debut goal for Martin Braithwaite and an impressive team performance, and Quique Setién’s men are now five points clear at the top of the table until Real Madrid kick off their game on Sunday.
There was barely any time to settle into the game and Barça already had the lead: Jordi Alba with a beautiful cross into the box and Arturo Vidal with a perfect header. A great start followed by a nice bit of passing and high pressing from Barça, who kept on running after the ball and using well once they got it back, and they could have scored a second within the first 15 minutes.
After that initial pressure Barça were a bit slower in possession, while Mallorca stepped up their pressure and began creating trouble thanks to Take Kubo, who was a nightmare for about 15 minutes. The young Japanese winger found himself isolated against a defender time and time again, delivering a couple of dangerous crosses and forcing Ter Stegen into two tough saves.
Then came a water break at the half-hour mark, and that’s what Barça needed to settle things down and go back to dominating. And a great goal by Martin Braithwaite, his first for the club, gave Barça a two-goal lead and clearly affected Mallorca who couldn’t keep the momentum.
At halftime the Blaugrana were playing well enough considering the layoff, and had a nice cushion going into the second half.
Mallorca made two defensive changes at the half that indicated they didn’t really believe they could come back, and Barça continued in complete control. Lionel Messi was highly involved in the attacking plays throughout the period looking to score a goal himself and set up others.
There were a few misses by Braithwaite, Ronald Araujo and Messi himself, but Barça were never in trouble as Mallorca showed zero attacking creativity once the threat of Take Kubo was neutralized. Barça eventually added a third goal thanks to a masterful assist by Messi and a smart finish by Jordi Alba, then a fourth with a right-footed goal from Messi, and the final whistle eventually came.
For a team that hasn’t played in almost 100 days this was an impressive performance from Barça, who are guaranteed to stay top of the table this weekend.
Mallorca: Reina; Pozo, Valjent, Raíllo, Sastre (Gámez 45’); Kubo, Pedraza (Baba 56’), Salva S. (Salibur 83’), Rodríguez; Hernández (Lago Junior 45’), Budimir (Abdón 83’)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto (Semedo 70’), Piqué, Araujo, Alba; Vidal (Rakitic 45’), Busquets (Arthur 70’), De Jong (Firpo 83’); Messi, Griezmann (Suárez 56’), Braithwaite
Goals: Vidal (2’), Braithwaite (37’), Alba (79’), Messi (90’+3)