Barça hosted Eibar today in what was the beginning of a tough stretch of matches for the Catalan club. Barcelona started with a different formation than usual. Messi and Griezmann were the lone strikers with Vidal playing as an attacking midfielder. Busquets, Rakitic and Arthur joined in the middle. While Firpo, Lenglet, Pique and Semedo rounded out the back with Ter Stegen in goal of course.
Eibar looked to surprise with an early goal but the referee correctly called it off for offside. After this early attempt it was the Lionel Messi show. In the 14th minute, Messi produced a goal that only he could create. A brilliant run with a nutmeg and cheeky finish had Barcelona leading 1-0. In the 37th minute the Argentine struck again. With another dazzling run and perfect finish in the bottom corner of the goal. Before we could regain our breath from the second goal, the little magician had completed his hat trick in the first half. An incredible match from Messi who entered this match with a four game goal drought.
The second half was fairly dull with Barcelona creating most chances. But they were unable to finish or they were called offside. A boost of energy woke up the Camp Nou in the 70th minute. As Braithwaite came on for his Barcelona debut. The Dane had an electric debut and he tortured the Eibar back line. Furthermore, he set up two goals, one for Messi (his fourth in the match) and another for Arthur. Braithwaite will be disappointed to not finish his chance but the new signing should be delighted with the debut he has made.
The biggest takeaway from the match was Messi’s brilliance. Many had written him off for his goal drought, even though his performances were exceptional, his finishing hasn’t been at the level we were used to seeing from him. Today he answered his critics with a display of great magnitude that put the world at the edge of their seats. Astonishing work from Messi and the entire Barcelona squad on a day where tensions were high with the recent club scandals.
Barcelona will now travel to Napoli where they will face Napoli in the Champions League this upcoming Tuesday.