It’s worth taking you back to just a few days before the Lyon game when the majority of cules were bashing Ernesto Valverde - yet again - and talking Barca out of a quarter-final berth because of the simple fact that they’d not managed to score an away goal.
Show some respect people!
Appreciation tweet for Ernesto Valverde. Perfectly dealt with the pressure. pic.twitter.com/8vQlXH2XDo— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) March 13, 2019
It was obvious before five minutes had even been played that the Blaugranes had the bit between their teeth, and with the visitors having to come out and play as opposed to sitting back and defending, it would leave gaps in behind.
All that remained to be seen was whether Barca were in the mood to take advantage, and that question was answered emphatically.
Coutinho has been amazing— Nafay (@VintageDembele) March 13, 2019
Suarez MOTM performance if he continues like that
Arthur Melo .
Messi been good .
In short the whole team has been good , Ernesto Valverde masterclass so far . pic.twitter.com/ty7DxHeGiK
Given how well Lyon had played in this season’s Champions League, including remaining unbeaten against Manchester City over two games, this was a magnificent performance from the Catalans.
Lionel Messi will grab all of the headlines of course. Rightly so with two goals and two assists as well as popping up in defence when the need arose. It was a man of the match showing without a doubt.
2️⃣ Goals.— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 13, 2019
✅ Man. Of. The. Match. pic.twitter.com/Pj9DVkDPSm
However, on the night, perhaps we should all take the time to doff our respective caps to the likes of Clement Lenglet, Arthur Melo and Luis Suarez et al.
All three were brilliant in the spine of the team, and the latter was a particularly good foil for the captain. His work rate can at least be admired, if not his UCL scoring record this season.
98.6% - Arthur Melo completed 98.6% of his passes against Lyon (71/72), his best passing accuracy in a game for @FCBarcelona in all competitions. Calm. pic.twitter.com/XBwEbsDmGY— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 13, 2019
Aside from a nervous 15-minute period after Lyon had pulled a goal back, the hosts were in full control of proceedings, and the three late goals which finally ensured a passage into the quarter-finals were a just reward for Barca’s dominance.
***NEW ALL-TIME RECORD***— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 13, 2019
30 consecutive games unbeaten at Camp Nou in the @ChampionsLeague. 27 W and 3 D pic.twitter.com/Tdqo7vI3An
Valverde should be openly praised on this occasion too.
For far too long now, he’s been beaten with the stick that his teams don’t play good football, and certainly not in the Barca style.
I think we can all agree that the 90 minutes played on Wednesday night had all of the elements that we, as cules, desire from a performance.
It was sharp, effervescent and full of goals - something that we became accustomed to under the likes of Guardiola and Lucho.
⚠️ #facebookdown?— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 13, 2019
✅ Solved: Barça up up and away. pic.twitter.com/UtX549rKCO
Yes, it’s only one game, but it was an important marker in so many ways.
Barca can now approach the draw on Friday with confidence and no matter who we end up being paired with, we must still be one of the favourites for the trophy in May.
Perhaps this team will finally then get the respect it deserves.