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Three things we learned from Barcelona 4-1 Alaves

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The champions finished 2019 with a win at the Camp Nou

FC Barcelona v Deportivo Alaves - La Liga Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Griezman growing in importance at Barcelona

Antoine Griezmann netted his seventh La Liga goal of the season against Alaves to get the hosts off to a strong start with a fine curling shot from just inside the penalty area.

Interestingly it’s the sixth time this season he’s scored Barca’s first goal and the third time in their last four La Liga games.

His smile when he got a big GOAT hug after the goal lit up the Camp Nou too.

Barcelona V Alaves Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

There was also a lot more about Griezmann’s performance to admire. He and Lionel Messi linked up beautifully on a quick break that almost saw Barca double their lead on 38 minutes.

Griezmann’s backheel sent Messi scampering into the box but somehow his effort just trickled wide of Pacheco’s far post.

More combination play followed after the break. Messi dinked a ball over the top for Griezmann to tap home but unfortunately he had just strayed offside.

The Frenchman spoke after the game about how he was “going on holidays very happy” and now looks to be settling in well at the Camp Nou after a slow start.

When Vidal shoots, he scores

Ernesto Valverde changed his entire midfield for Saturday’s game, going with Arturo Vidal, fit-again Sergio Busquets and Carles Alena.

Vidal popped up with a typical performance that also included another goal, that’s his fifth of the season for Barca in La Liga from just his fourth start.

The Chile international seems to relish being in the starting XI, netting in three of his four starts and he just can’t miss at the moment:

Vidal now has more goals this season than the rest of Barca’s midfield combined (De Jong and Busi have one each, Rakitic and Alena have zero).

Yet his future continues to dominate the headlines and Saturday brought fresh rumors of interest from Inter Milan and talk about a loan deal with an option to buy.

Ernesto Valverde was quick to say he’s counting on Vidal after the match, and on this evidence Barca really would miss him if he was to move on in January.

Barca finish 2019 unbeaten at the Camp Nou

Saturday’s win saw Barca stay top of the table, Messi hit his 50th goal of the calendar year again and the champions finish 2019 unbeaten at the Camp Nou.

It was also a good night, statistically at least, for Luis Suarez who popped up with three assists and a goal for Valverde’s side.

No team has managed to come away from Barca’s home stadium this year with a victory, and only four teams have prevented Valverde’s men from winning (Real Madrid twice, Valencia and Slavia Prague).

Barcelona have scored a whopping 81 goals in those 28 matches and conceded just 20.

It’s a different story away from home of course. Barca have drawn at Sociedad and Osasuna and lost at Athletic, Levante and Granada and that’s just this season.

Barcelona are now guaranteed top spot at Christmas, unless Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao by five goals on Sunday night, and will head into 2020 still as the team to beat in La Liga.