Posted by News Express | 24 September 2015 | 3,563 times
Star-studded Barcelona yesterday suffered massive humiliation in a Spanish league game against underdog Celta de Vigo, which recorded a comfortable 4-1 home win, courtesy of a splendid Nolito goal, a brace from Iago Aspas and a John Guidetti score that were answered only by Neymar’s tally.
Before the embarrassing thrashing, it had been seven months and two days since Barcelona had lost a league game, a run of 18 undefeated matches in which Barca failed to win just twice, stretching back to Matchday 24 of last season. Besides, it had been seven years and four months since Barca had lost a La Liga game by three goals, according to ESPN Stats & Info. And that was against Real Madrid, not a small, provincial club like Celta.
With Real Madrid beating Athletic Bilbao 2-1 in a game that kicked off later, the loss dumped Barca from second place to fourth through five rounds of play. Villarreal’s 1-0 win at Malaga sent Barca tumbling to fifth place.
The way Luis Enrique’s side lost has to be disconcerting. Especially since this is the second time this year Barca has been totally picked apart, following the inexplicable 4-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup back in August.
It’s a rarity for all three parts of Barcelona’s vaunted trident of forwards to go off the boil simultaneously. But that's just what happened against Celta, as all three gave lukewarm performances.
Luis Suarez was invisible. Neymar wasn’t a significant factor until he scored his goal. Lionel Messi didn’t look sharp for the most part. What’s more, the midfield failed to impose itself and the defence made schoolboy errors in its coverage of Celta’s lightning-quick counters.
Nolito and Aspas, meanwhile, had a field day. Quite literally, finding vast expanses of space in Barca’s half to skip and saunter through. Nolito located a pocket of space in Barcelona’s box in the 26th minute and coolly deposited his curling shot into the far top corner. A short while later, he won the ball off a clumsy Gerard Pique by the halfway line and dispatched Aspas, who concluded his clear run on goal with a delightful chip over the helpless Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
In the second half, Aspas was practically given the field to himself again and beat Ter Stegen a second time on a breakaway, which he set up himself with a deft touch. He had another look or two, as did Nolito, but Celta didn’t even need them to convert those chances.
Because Barca forged just one major chance during the first 80 minutes or so, when Andres Iniesta teed up Messi in the second half. The world’s best player uncharacteristically put his finish against the post from 10 yards out. Neymar then finally grabbed a goal for Barca, but Guidetti soon erased all doubt.
Not that there was much of it by that point. The writing had long since been on the wall. And after the third goal was conceded – marking the first time Barca gave up three league goals since March 23, 2014 – the body language was just as legible. Suarez shook his head in disgust. Sergio Busquets and Messi bowed their heads in shame. Javier Mascherano stared into the void.
The truth that was lost to the scoreline is that it could have been worse. Celta’s deconstruction of Barca had been so total and disheveling and surgical that they could well have put a few more goals on the board and given the world’s most famous club one of its worst nights ever.
•Yahoo Sports. Photo shows Lionel Messi, who was tamed yesterday at Celta de Vigo.
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