Whilst most of the headlines will likely centre around Lionel Messi being the difference maker again for the Blaugranes, Jordi Alba has to get some media traction for another outstanding performance.
Is there a better left-back in the world on current form? I don’t think so.
His importance to the team has never been better evidenced than this season, and has made Luis Enrique’s initial decision to leave him out of the Spain squad look a very foolish one indeed.
Ousmane Dembele deserves credit for making a ‘Messi-type run’ to open up the space for Barca’s first goal against Leganes, but the delivery still had to be inch-perfect from Alba. And it was.
Though he was caught out of position for the visitors’ equaliser, that should in no way detract from the energy of his performance, the willingness to consistently get forward to help the attack and link with them whenever possible.
Jordi Alba cannot get enough praise for the brilliant job that he's done this season. He has hugely improved over the last few months, giving consistently good performances each week. The Alba-Messi connection is always brilliant. He ended up with 2 assists today. Underrated.— Art-hur (@EnjoyArthur) January 20, 2019
The telepathy was instant when Messi was introduced, less so when Philippe Coutinho patrolled that area in front of Alba, but once the former Liverpool man finds his mojo again, one should expect more dazzling combination play, with Alba always a willing outlet down the flank.
For the club to be dragging their heels again over his renewal is potentially playing with fire. Though he’s given no indication that he wants to leave, the club still need to get their finger out and give him what he wants.
Not yet 30 years of age, Alba has a few years left in those legs yet, and for what’s left of his career, Barca must ensure it’s played at the Camp Nou.
There’s a diligence to his play too, which he’s often not given credit for. He doesn’t go marauding forward for the sake of it, there’s always a purpose and more often than not an end product.
It’s also worth pondering how well he’s played alongside three different centre-backs this season; Samuel Umtiti, Clement Lenglet and Thomas Vermaelen. His calmness - and urgency when needed - has meant that all three have always had a viable outlet if they’ve been unable to bring the ball out of defence themselves.
The other issue that’s staring the club in the face concerns his rotation. One of the fittest in the side, it would still be good to see Alba rested from time to time.
Jordi Alba has now assisted 19 Messi goals, of which 14 in La Ligahttps://t.co/Ze5YyO42kG— MESSISTATS (@MessiStats_) January 20, 2019
The reverse fixture against Leganes is the only time he’s played less than 90 minutes in La Liga this season, with only Gerard Pique and Marc-Andre ter Stegen playing more in the domestic competition in 2018/19.
Perhaps by recalling Marc Cucurella from his loan spell at Eibar, Ernesto Valverde could benefit further in that regard.
For now though, let’s just bask in Alba’s exceptional full-back play.