Barcelona returned to winning ways and are now just three points away from a Top 4 finish in La Liga thanks to a 2-1 victory over Mallorca on Sunday night. Barça played well, scored one goal in each half and were the better team for the entire night, and the game wasn’t nearly as close as the score suggests.
The week off clearly helped a Barça team that played with as much intensity and pace as we’ve seen in a while and were in full control against a Mallorca side that showed some threat on the counter but were never able to match the Blaugrana’s desire and ferocity.
Xavi Hernández’s team wanted to get to the final third as quickly as possible and were very fast in possession, dominating the ball but being very direct with it trying to find Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Memphis Depay as much as they could.
Memphis was especially impressive in the first half, looking for the ball and constantly making great runs in behind the defense which got him a goal: after a brilliant long pass from Jordi Alba to pick up one of those runs by Memphis, the Dutchman showed great poise to chest the ball down and find the bottom corner with a sweet finish.
Barça could have easily scored another goal or two, with Aubameyang having a header well saved by Sergio Rico and Ronald Araujo finding the back of the net with a header of his own only to see the goal disallowed for offside.
At halftime Barça were very much in control but only had a one-goal lead, and they needed to keep up the good work to find more goals and confirm the victory.
Barça needed to get a quick goal to avoid any trouble against a Mallorca side that had some good moments in the first period, and they got it just nine minutes into the final period thanks to Sergio Busquets, who was first to the rebound after a Ferran Torres attempt and found the bottom corner with an excellent left-footed strike.
The Blaugrana were in cruise control after doubling their lead as they continued to dominate possession and attack with Memphis looking very hungry to score another goal. Barça did score a third with 20 minutes to go, but Ferran was offside and the hosts had a second goal denied by the flag on the night.
After spending most of the second half on the back foot and looking defeated, Mallorca decided to attack and made the final 10 minutes very interesting when captain Antonio Raíllo scored with his knee to give the visitors some hope.
Barça did a very good job of running out the clock by keeping possession, and although they couldn’t add a third goal they were never at risk of conceding the equalizer and were able to confirm the victory at the final whistle.
The score doesn’t reflect at all what we saw on the pitch as Barça were the better team the whole night and could have easily scored four or five with better luck on the offside calls. This was a good performance and a crucial result in the Top 4 race, and now Barça can clinch a Champions League spot if they beat Real Betis next week. Good stuff, boys!
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Alves (Lenglet 89’), Araujo, Piqué (Eric 28’), Alba; F. De Jong, Busquets, Gavi; Ferran (Fati 75’), Aubameyang (Dembélé 75’), Memphis
Goals: Memphis (25’), Busquets (54’)
Mallorca: Rico; Maffeo, Russo, Raíllo, Valjent, Oliván; Sánchez (S. Sevilla 70’), Battaglia (Lee 70’), Rodríguez (Grenier 60’); Ángel (Hoppe 89’), Niño (Kubo 60’)
Goal: Raíllo (79’)