Vidal underlines his importance
Arturo Vidal only needed 64 seconds to highlight his importance to Barcelona with the opening goal to give the visitors the perfect start.
It was a typical Vidal goal too. Frenkie de Jong did well to win back possession and find Jordi Alba to swng in a cross for Vidal to outmuscle his defender and power a header home.
Impressively it’s his seventh La Liga goal of the season. Even more impressively it’s his seventh La Liga goal from nine efforts on target.
Earlier in the day an interview with Vidal emerged where he talked about the possibility of moving on if he didn’t feel important at Barcelona. He has 10 more games to show Barcelona just how important he can be.
Braithwaite on target, Griezmann quiet
Martin Braithwaite has been a breath of fresh air since arriving from Leganes. The Denmark international has said all the right things, poked fun at himself on social media during lockdown and shown quite clearly how determined he is to succeed at Barca.
His first goal was one he’ll remember too. The build-up may have been a bit scruffy but it was a superb finish from the Denmark international that gave goalkeeper Manolo Reina absolutely no chance.
Braithwaite almost scored a second too on the hour mark but was just denied by the goalkeeper after he’d done well to latch on to a Messi pass while under pressure and get an effort on target.
He was pretty pleased to get on the scoresheet too as he admitted afterwards.
“It is incredible to score my first goal for Barcelona. But it’s more important to restart the season with a win. We are pleased with the result, but we have to continue to play like this and win games.”
Source | El Chiringuito
His performance was a real contrast to that of Antoine Griezmann. The Frenchman’s work rate and willingness to defence can’t be faulted but is really not what Barcelona spent €120m to bring him to the Camp Nou for.
Alba banned for Leganes
Jordi Alba was also on the scoresheet against Mallorca with his first goal since August and his first assist since January 4.
Unfortunately for Barcelona he also picked up his fifth booking of the campaign which means he’ll sit out Tuesday’s home game against Leganes. Junior Firpo could therefore get another chance in the starting XI.
Alba admitted after the match that he was feeling good and “this break helped me because I needed to rest physically and mentally” and was one of several Barca players to look refreshed.
Araujo impresses Setien
Ronald Araujo was a bit of a surprise name on the teamsheet on Saturday, partnering Gerard Pique in defence ahead of Samuel Umtiti, as Quique Setien handed the 21-year-old his full debut.
The youngster put in a confident display and certainly seemed to impress his manager if his post-match comments are anything to go by:
“He played a superb game. He dealt with everything well and he didn’t try to do more than he had to. He can be proud of his performance and his first start.”
There’s been plenty of talk Barca could buy another defender this summer, but it’s increasingly possibly they could save themselves some money and promote Araujo instead.
Araujo will certainly enjoy taking three points and a clean sheet away from Mallorca on his first senior start and will be hoping for more game time in the run-in.
New look, same old Messi
Lionel Messi has emerged from lockdown clean shaven and with flowing locks which has brought back memories of his earlier days with Barcelona.
Although the captain’s look may have changed slightly there was certainly no difference in performance as he continued to run the show for Barcelona.
Messi dropped deep throughout to orchestrate things and ended up with two assists and a goal to extend his lead as the league’s top goalscorer and assister.
He als hit another landmark along the way:
20+ - Lionel Messi is the only player to score 20+ goals in 12 consecutive @LaLigaEN seasons:— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 13, 2020
✅23 - 08/09
✅34 - 09/10
✅31 - 10/11
✅50 - 11/12
✅46 - 12/13
✅28 - 13/14
✅43 - 14/15
✅26 - 15/16
✅37 - 16/17
✅34 - 17/18
✅36 - 18/19
✅20 - 19/20
There’s been plenty of talk about how a rest would benefit players such as Messi, who rarely get time off, and on this evidence he looks in great shape to lead Barca’s title charge.