Barcelona have now won 10 of their last 11 games and are just two points behind La Liga leaders Atlético Madrid thanks to a comfortable 2-0 win over Osasuna in Pamplona. Barça were in control from the very beginning and never needed to get out of third gear to get enough chances to score and win, and they’ve now put big pressure on the two Madrid teams ahead of tomorrow’s Derby.
Osasuna set up to defend deep and counter attack, while Barça had most of the possession trying to break down the opposition. The Blaugrana played very comfortably as if they knew they were going to score eventually, but that meant they played with very little pace in the final third and there were very few moments of quality from the visitors.
The home team, however, was quick and dangerous whenever they had the ball and Marc-André ter Stegen had to make two important saves in the first 15 minutes. Then, the one special moment of the half: Lionel Messi played a lovely pass over the top to find Jordi Alba, and the left-back fired an absolute rocket into the roof of the net to give Barça the lead.
Osasuna nearly equalized immediately through Rubén García but Ter Stegen made a great stop, and Barça controlled the rest of the half to go into the break with a one-goal lead. But to guarantee the win the visitors needed to turn their dominance of possession into more chances and more goals.
Despite having the lead and being comfortable in the match, Ronald Koeman wanted his team to attack more and made a halftime substitution with Ousmane Dembélé replacing Samuel Umtiti, switching formations and committing more bodies forward.
The change worked as Barça showed more intent going forward and Dembélé was constantly involved, but they still lacked the final ball to create real chances. Osasuna wanted to go forward and attack themselves but showed very little creativity, relying on crosses into the box to try and bring danger but barely threatened.
There was a large period of really nothing happening on the pitch as Barça seemed content with a one-goal lead, but the introduction of Ilaix Moriba added energy and intent to the midfield, and the youngster sealed the deal on the night, scoring a beautiful goal off another Messi assist to double Barça’s lead and remove any doubts about the winner.
The final whistle came to give Barça three big points, and the Madrid Derby will now decide whether or not the Blaugrana are really in a title race. But their part of the job was well done. So now... Hala Madrid?
Osasuna: Herrera; Vidal, Aridane, García, Sánchez; Torres (Gallego 84’), Moncayola, Torró (Oier 84’), Rubén (López 70’); Barja (Jony 62’); Calleri (Budimir 70’)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Mingueza, Lenglet, Umtiti (Dembélé 46’); Dest, De Jong, Busquets (Moriba 67’), Pedri (Puig 87’), Alba (Firpo 87’); Messi, Griezmann (Braithwaite 67’)
Goals: Alba (30’), Moriba (83’)