Barcelona 4-0 Granada: 6 Things We Learned
After converting two penalties, La Blaugrana put two more goals past Granada in the second half to ease to victory with a clean sheet in hand.
Barcelona was without several key stars such as Lionel Messi and Victor Valdes, but injuries did not prove to be a problem for Tata Martino’s men.
In this article, we will take a look at six things we learned from the win at the Camp Nou. As always, feel free to get involved in the discussion below!
*All statistics are courtesy of WhoScored.com
Andres Iniesta Is in Incredible Form
To the surprise of everyone, Andres Iniesta began the season in a strange way. He was not playing anywhere near his best, and as a result, he saw quite a bit of time on the bench.
Nobody really knows what caused Iniesta’s drop in form, but he has definitely picked it back up.
Iniesta was—without question—the man of the match for Barcelona in their win against Granada. He put on a dazzling performance and looked like the player we all know and love.
The 29-year-old completed 96 percent of his passes, won six dribbles and even made three key tackles. Iniesta was everywhere on the pitch and the orchestrator of nearly every attacking run for Barcelona.
To put it in the best term possible, Iniesta finally went ghost mode again.
With Lionel Messi sidelined, Barcelona need players to step up. Iniesta is finding his best form at the absolute perfect time of the season.
Barcelona's Best Center-Back Pairing Was on Display
In a recent article, I made the point that Barcelona’s best center-back pairing was the combination of Marc Bartra and Gerard Pique. I still stand by that claim.
Against Granada the defensive unit performed superbly. Of course, there was the odd blip in play, but the Catalans were in complete control throughout the entire match.
Bartra and Pique combined perfectly to shut down attacking chances and win the ball back. Pique made more interceptions, but Bartra stood out with seven miraculous tackles.
The center-back duo passed the ball brilliantly as well and never looked like it was in danger of conceding a single time.
Barcelona were able to earn yet another clean sheet in this match, and they did it without Valdes in goal. It was a testament to just how much the defense has improved and the changes that have been made.
Martino would be wise to continue with the Bartra-Pique partnership this season.
Granada Continue to Improve
Granada came into this match fighting for a place in the European zone of the table. That may not seem like much, but we have to take into account how far this club has come.
In 2011, Granada were promoted to the first division after having spent 35 years out of the top flight. Not only has the club survived in La Liga since then, but it continues to improve every season.
The match against Barcelona showed just how much Granada have done in one season to continue that improvement. They attacked well, were organized in defense and did not show the slightest bit of hesitancy at the Camp Nou.
From the front to the back, Granada put in a strong display. They may have conceded four goals, but for the most part, the match was closer than the score showed.
I’m not saying Granada could have won the match. What I am saying is that the club showed that it can at least compete against the best in Spain and will continue to grow under strong leadership.
Barcelona Belong to Neymar in Messi's Absence
With Messi sidelined, Barcelona now belong to Neymar. I know reading that isn’t shocking, and you might even be thinking that everybody knows this by now.
But just take a minute to think about what that means.
The weight left by Messi hasn’t been picked up by Xavi, Iniesta or even Cesc Fabregas. In seasons past, that is exactly who we would have expected to lead the team in his absence.
Instead, it is the newcomer Neymar who has taken full control of La Blaugrana. That is massive when you really think about it.
The Brazilian is already showing his ability to lead a team and make a huge impact every time he steps on the pitch. With Messi gone, Neymar will have the perfect opportunity to cement his importance at Barcelona.
When Messi does return, Neymar will no longer be his supporting attacker. Messi and Neymar will officially be partners.
Tata Martino Is Looking to Give Chances to Young Players
Tata Martino is the type of manager who is always looking ahead to the future. He believes in the youth at Barcelona and wants to make sure they have opportunities to grow.
However, giving young players chances is not an easy thing. With the pressure to win constantly shadowing Barcelona, you don’t have many games in which you can gamble.
The match against Granada was judged perfectly by Martino as one in which he could let young players see the pitch.
He gave Sergi Roberto a nice run out, as well as handing Adama Traore his debut with Barcelona. It seems as though Martino had this planned from the start.
His hands are tied when it comes to giving chances to young players. He can’t simply hand out opportunities, but this match showed that he has an eye out for La Masia’s young talent and is looking to give those players every chance he possibly can.
Barcelona Are OK Without Messi Short-Term
Barcelona are still going to be without Lionel Messi for quite a while. Missing the star is always going to affect the team, but there is hope without him.
The Catalans showed that they can make due without Messi. Not only did they beat Granada without him, but they absolutely dominated the match.
Barcelona are in no way better without Messi—that is wild to even consider. However, they are still a world class club that can win a lot of games even without the Argentine in the line-up.
For the next few weeks Barcelona are going to be just fine without Messi. They will win games and continue to show their best. It is the second half of the season that they need Messi to be healthy.
This time off will be good for everyone. Messi can rest and come back in his best form while other stars will have their times to shine. Injuries are never good things, but Barcelona can benefit from this predicament.
Expect Barcelona to survive without problems for the next few weeks. They will be just fine. But everyone is still waiting for the day when Messi is back on the pitch.
What did you take away from Barcelona's victory? Will La Blaugrana survive without Messi? Leave your thoughts and comments below!