Three in a row for Griezmann
Antoine Griezmann continued his fine run of form by scoring for a third game in a row for Barcelona to break the deadlock after just 14 minutes against Ferencvaros.
It was a classy effort too from the Frenchman. He managed a cheeky backheel flick at the near post that ended up going through goalkeeper Dénes Dibusz’s legs.
It was no surprise to see Griezmann beaming after his strike. The confidence has returned and he looks a different player from the early weeks of the season when he simply couldn’t buy a goal.
The Frenchman played with freedom and intelligence throughout the match before being given a rest on 65 minutes.
Ronald Koeman joked afterwards that “Jorge Valdano will have to come and see him every week” alluding to Griezmann’s recent interview where he opened on his Barca difficulties and his relationship with Messi. Certainly a weight seems to have been lifted from his shoulders.
Braithwaite can’t stop scoring
Griezmann isn’t the only player in the goals. Martin Braithwaite netted his fourth goal in three games for Barcelona and is certainly giving Koeman a selection headache.
Braithwaite’s effort made it 2-0 to Barcelona and came after a flowing team move that highlighted just how good they were to watch in the first half of the match.
33 - Martin Braithwaite’s goal for @FCBarcelona against Ferencvárosi TC is the longest pass sequence of any @ChampionsLeague goal this season with a total of 33 passes. Overwhelming. pic.twitter.com/TEDPpNwf1O— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 2, 2020
The Denmark international also won the penalty from which Ousmane Dembele scored Barca’s third of the night and said after the game he was happy to hand over the ball.
It’s been quite an impact from Braithwaite since Koeman handed him a first start of the season against Dynamo Kiev, and on this evidence it will be difficult to leave him out.
Captain Dembele loves the Champions League
Dembele was also on the scoresheet and was Barcelona’s standout player at Ferencvaros with a performance full of danger and intent.
The Frenchman played a role in both of Barca’s first two goals and then got on the scoresheet from the penalty spot after Braithwaite had been fouled.
| FOCUS— SofaScore (@SofaScoreINT) December 2, 2020
Ousmane Dembélé starred in Barcelona's 3:0 win over Ferencvárosi TC:
⏱️ 90' played
⚽️ 1 goal
️ 1 assist
2 big chances created
2 key passes
2/2 acc. long balls
5/6 succ. dribbles
8.9 SofaScore rating#FerencvarosBarca #UCL pic.twitter.com/KrbW6B2CGC
Dembele now has three goals and two assists from four Champions League outings this season and earned plenty of praise from Koeman after the match.
The Dutchman also handed Dembele the armband at half-time after Sergio Busquets went off at the break, and he should have had a second late on after being teed up by Riqui Puig but instead tried to play it back to the youngster and saw the opportunity disappear.
Pjanic offers a reminder of his talents
Miralem Pjanic offered Koeman a reminder of his talents after a curious start to his Barcelona career. The midfielder has only made one start in La Liga so far in 2020-21 but has been in the starting XI for every Champions League match.
The former Juventus man was in alongside Busquets against Ferencvaros and helped boss the midfield. Pjanic ended up completing 45 more passes than any other player on the pitch and also topped a number of other stats.
Pjanic certainly seemed happy enough after the match, explaining: “It was really cold, but the result warmed us up so we are very happy about the result and happy to go back with the three points, it was really important and we did a good game today.”
The 30-year-old’s performance should help his cause but it still seems he hasn’t quite convinced Koeman he deserves to be a regular in his starting XI yet.
Barcelona make it five in a row
Barca’s win also maintains their fine form in the Champions League and makes it five wins in a row. Of course the Catalan giants were expected to beat Ferencvaros, but they are the only team left with a 100% record in 2020-21 and five straight wins is not something they’ve managed too often.
5 - @FCBarcelona have won each of their first five @ChampionsLeague group stage games for the first time since the 2002-03 campaign, when they won all six in the first round group stages. Union. https://t.co/rFDKyjT3RA— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 2, 2020
It was a good night all round for Koeman. His team won comfortably despite being without Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Philippe Coutinho and Lionel Messi, while he was also able to rest some of his other key players.
Youngsters Riqui Puig, Carles Alena, and Konrad de la Fuente also saw more first-team minutes, while 21-year-old Oscar Mingueza has now made three starts for Barca in central defence and is yet to see his side concede a single goal
The victory also puts Barcelona in a strong position to finish top of Group G. Barca’s last match is on Tuesday at home to Juventus. The Serie A champions need to win by three goals to pip Koeman’s men to top spot.