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Barcelona vs. Granada: Score, Reaction from 2016 La Liga Match

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2016

FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi, left, scores past Granada's goalkeeper Andres Fernandez during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Grenada, at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Barcelona went top of La Liga after beating Granada 4-0 on Saturday. Lionel Messi bagged a hat-trick and Neymar Jr. added a fourth as the hosts' star-studded front three ran riot at the Camp Nou.

Barca's starting XI included new signings Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal for the first time. Gifted youth Sergi Roberto was also included in a holding role at the base of midfield.

The club's Twitter provided the full lineup:

FC Barcelona 🏆🏆 @FCBarcelona

Barça XI: 13.Bravo 3.Piqué 4.Rakitic 7.Arda 9.Suárez 10.Messi 11.Neymar 18.Jordi Alba 20.S.Roberto 22.Aleix Vidal 23.Vermaelen #FCBLive

Granada's official Twitter detailed the starting XI for the team that entered the game just two points above the bottom three:

Granada C.F. @GranadaCdeF

OFICIAL | Alineación del @GranadaCdeF ante el @FCBarcelona_es #VamosMiGranada #FCBvGCF https://t.co/dqSjHCrrmU

Diario Sport journalist Samuel Marsden highlighted one precocious prospect who might stand out for the visitors:

Samuel Marsden @samuelmarsden

Granada the guests today. Eyes to be kept on Peñaranda, an 18-year-old Venezuelan who's already caught Gary Neville's attention.

Crisp and inventive combination passing between Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar cut Granada's defence to ribbons in the first half. The awesome trio was aided by the mercurial brain of Turan.

He combined with Suarez and Messi to eventually tee up the latter for a very stylish opener. Spanish Football writer Sergi Dominguez applauded the quality of the move:

Sergi Domínguez @FutbolSergi

Fantastic goal. Terrific Messi play, Suárez so astute in passing of play and magical, defence-splitting pass from Turan.

Dominguez was soon wowed by yet another typically classy and unified effort in attack as Messi doubled his tally and Barca's lead:

Sergi Domínguez @FutbolSergi

GOOL MESSI! Another incredible goal! Neymar > Suárez > Messi. As selfless as ever. Great football.

It had been a first-half masterclass from Messi, but it wasn't all about his goalscoring. His own creative output was also worthy of plaudits, according to Sid Lowe of the Guardian:

Sid Lowe @sidlowe

HT Barça 2-0 Granada. Messi 2. Nice goals. 2 v similar excellent passes from Arda (one led to goal the other didn't). Messi's passing superb

In fact, only wayward finishing from others denied Barca a more commanding lead at the break. Football writer Rik Sharma identified Suarez as a particularly wasteful culprit:

Rik Sharma @riksharma_

Luis Suarez's finishing has been haywire for a couple of weeks. A couple of astonishing misses in the last few games

Messi claimed his hat-trick just before the hour mark after Neymar's shot rebounded off the post. Once again, Turan was at the heart of the build-up, using a dummy to help send Neymar clear.

ESPN's Dermot Corrigan noted how impressively the cerebral winger was adapting to his new team-mates:

Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan

Arda fitting in pretty well on left side of Barca's midfield three. Was on right of trio v Espanyol on Wed. Seems equally happy in both.

One more goal was yet another reminder of Messi's significance even in a team littered with so many other awesome stars. The Argentinian forward has made a blistering start to the new calendar year, per OptaJose:

OptaJose @OptaJose

7 - Messi has had a hand in all seven Barcelona's goal on 2016 (five goals, two assists). Hero

His hat-trick is also a timely fillip ahead of the FIFA Ballon d'Or ceremony.

There was still time for Neymar to add his name to the scoresheet. He benefited from another astute assist from Suarez.

Post-Match Reaction

Enrique expressed his willingness to rotate his bigger squad to keep players fresh for the challenges ahead:

FC Barcelona 🏆🏆 @FCBarcelona

Luis Enrique: " I have more chance to share out minutes and the key is to get to the end of season in good shape" https://t.co/10kmC6bqff

On the subject of that looming award ceremony, the Barca gaffer indicated his interest will lie elsewhere:

Rik Sharma @riksharma_

Luis Enrique says he's not going to the Ballon d'Or ceremony - where he is shortlisted for coach of the year

But he did offer his support for one man who will be there:

FC Barcelona 🏆🏆 @FCBarcelona

Luis Enrique: "Messi is a unique player and there won't be another. Team goals motivate him year on year" #fcblive https://t.co/LGs34XUAAu

Those sentiments were echoed by club president Josep Maria Bartomeu:

FC Barcelona 🏆🏆 @FCBarcelona

President Bartomeu: "For the Ballon d'Or I would vote for Leo. I hope he wins" #fcblive

A professional performance with some great goals and three points is very welcome for Barcelona boss Luis Enrique. His team has now reclaimed top spot and put the pressure on Atletico Madrid ahead of their tricky away trip to Celta Vigo on Sunday.

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