Coming back from injury, it's doubtful that too much was expected of Sergi Roberto against Getafe. However, the young midfielder’s stellar performance on Saturday, which only serves to reinforce the increasingly-important role he has started to play in the Barcelona side.
With Andres Iniesta lacking match fitness, he stepped up and put in a performance reminiscent of the Spain international, laying off two sublime assists. The first sent the football world into a frenzy as his instinctive, back-heel flick was perfectly weighted into the path of Luis Suarez, who duly finished it off. Luis Enrique himself admitted the midfielder may not have been at 100 percent. Should that truly be the case, it will be of some intrigue among Barca fans of what’s to come.
Since his Barca debut almost five years ago, Sergi has predictably drawn comparisons with legends Xavi Hernandez and Iniesta, and this performance will only serve to promote that. Such a quality pass coming from the boot of a Barca midfielder is almost expected, but it hardly diminishes from the skill necessary to pull off such an audacious assist.
“I wasn't thinking about it at the time, it was decided in a thousandth of a second and the only option I had. The important thing is that it served to help the team," Sergi said after the game at Coliseum Alfonso Perez.
Those who didn’t see the assist may be think they detect a hint of exaggeration, but the quality of the pass was all too real as his Coach gushed over the assist in his post-match interview: “Sergi's lay-off was almost as good as a goal. You should always have faith in your teammates and be prepared.”
Had his first assist not been so special, much of the praise would instead fall on his second assist. Running down the right wing, he played a raking, cross-field pass for Neymar to volley home for a 2-0 lead.
The run was reminiscent of his stint at right-back, which reignited his Barcelona career. Though he may not have all the attributes of a modern-day full-back, he made the position his own and impressed in the absence of Dani Alves and Douglas – so much so that former Barca ‘B’ boss Eusebio Sacristan believed the Spaniard would be the club's future right-back for years to come.
Though his spell at right-back was brief, it served its purpose as far as keeping the midfielder in the manager’s thoughts. Slotted back into his more comfortable, central-midfield role, he has thrived, scoring a vital equaliser in the Champions League against Bayer Leverkusen, which the Catalans went on to win.
But Saturday's exploits against Getafe are likely to go down as his best performance in a Blaugrana shirt. He has so far provided a spark in what has been a slightly-lacklustre, overall performance for Barca’s midfield this league season, given that he is the only midfielder to register an assist in the League for Barca, while no midfielder has scored in La Liga
In fact, the treble-winners' last 14 Liga goals have come from either Luis Suarez or Neymar. Without the injured Lionel Messi, the onus is on those two to find the goals. Enrique would have hoped for his midfielders to chip in with more goals, but in the meantime, they need to focus on supplying the bullets for those two to fire.
And in the absence of Andres Iniesta, Sergi has done better than most this season.