Messi’s absence has inspired Suarez
There’s been plenty of talk of Barcelona’s hunt for a replacement for Luis Suarez this week, but all that talk was made to look awfully premature on Saturday.
The striker put in another superb display to help inspire Barcelona to victory. His stoppage-time winner was his ninth La Liga goal of the season, and he’s now the division’s top scorer.
Six of those goals have come in his last four games, and he might have had a hat-trick on Saturday too but saw another effort hit the crossbar.
Suarez has stepped up in some style to lead the team in the absence of Messi, and his fighting spirit and determination delivered the goods against Rayo.
Luis Enrique really can’t ignore Jordi Alba again
Another game, another assist, and another fine display from Jordi Alba. The full-back now has six assists for the season and is consistently a threat up and down the left flank.
Luis Enrique has left him out of both Spain squads so far, insisiting it’s nothing personal, but if he leaves him out again it’s going to be difficult to justify that stance.
While Barcelona may not be too disappointed to see Alba omitted again, in order to keep him fresh, there’s no doubt the defender wants back in and fully deserves it.
He said after the game he’ll be “looking out for Luis Enrique’s list.” On this form he should be one of the first names in the squad.
Dembele is a real conundrum for Barcelona
Ousmane Dembele proved decisive off the bench again for Barcelona in another frustrating yet effective display.
Once again the Frenchman was guilty of conceding possession, but for the third match running he helped secure the win.
He picked up an assist after coming off the bench against Real Madrid, set up Clement Lenglet’s header in midweek, and then levelled it up for Barcelona with a well-struck goal after 87 minutes on Saturday.
Th goal was his fourth in La Liga, more than he managed for the entirety of last season.
Yet there’s still no guarantee he will start the next game. He can be sloppy, he can be frustrating, but he can also be decisive.