Fabulous. Utterly fabulous.
That was, by some distance, the performance of this season. Not even sure anyone was waiting for it, because did anyone genuinely believe the team had that in their locker under Koeman?
It’s hard to find fault in what was a comprehensive 90 minutes, and where Barcelona were better in all aspects of play.
Granada are no mugs either. We saw that at this ground the last time we were here, and another early goal from the hosts may have placed a different complexion on the game.
What was most enjoyable about that match, aside from the individual performances which we’ll go into shortly, was the confidence with which every Barca player passed the ball.
Aside from the odd lapse, it was like watching the Barca of old at times. Pam, pam, pam... rondos on the pitch in quick time, bamboozling the opposition. It’s what many of us have grown up on but which has been sorely missing of late.
Perhaps, just perhaps, Koeman is starting to turn the corner with this team. He’s beginning to get a response in each game, and that’s all a manager can ask.
It’s difficult to pick a man-of-the-match from the game too. There were so many terrific individual cameos.
Busi was back to doing what he does best; the simple things but with the minimum of fuss and with maximum results.
Just to confirm that in Messi’s worst ever seasons (last and this so far) he was, erm, top scorer. ♂️— Sid Lowe (@sidlowe) January 9, 2021
Frenkie de Jong looks a totally different player now he’s free of the shackles. Surely even his former national team manager can see that he has to be kept in his current interior role. One where he can break at speed and effect play with his superb passing range.
Dembele just needs to sort out his final ball and decision making at times, and steer clear of injuries, and he will be the difference maker. He showed what he’s capable of again tonight, and he deserved a goal for his industry.
He’ll settle for the assist to Antoine Griezmann, whose two goals were those of a man playing himself into form, the second of which was of the very highest quality. About time you might say.
An assist for Messi’s first too hints at the understanding which the pair are beginning to build. It’s not quite at the same level as the Alba/Messi or Pedri/Messi association, but it’s starting to gel.
I can’t end without tipping my hat to Samuel Umtiti, Oscar Mingueza and Pedri either. The latter is the best thing to happen to the club in years and he has to be looked after.
Umtiti, meanwhile, is probably playing his last season at the club, and at very late notice came in to do a sterling job at the back. Is there a chance he could force his way back into the picture?
Mingueza, for my money, just keeps getting better and better. Calm, assured, positionally sound for the most part... his emergence has been a real boon for the club too.
All in all, this was a 90 minutes to get really excited about, especially when you consider how quick the turnaround was after the Athletic match.
Time to put some pressure on the top two...