Brilliant Barcelona roar back to life with 4-0 hammering of Athletic Club

Whisper it, but Futbol Club Barcelona is back. When Joan Laporta sent this warning in January, it was greeted with a mixture of mockery and bemusement. But as February comes to an end, Barca are playing their best football of the season, and are finally getting the results to match.

When Xavi was appointed, there was optimism but also pragmatism, an acknowledgment that it would take time for the Catalan coach to implement his complex ideas onto a squad bereft of form and confidence. Two wins in the first six games proved this, but since the turn of the year and with the addition of quality in the January window, Xaviball, or La Xavineta, however you want to define it, is now flourishing. And if you want to back Barcelona this season, online fogadás is the place to do it.

The 4-0 win over Athletic Club at Camp Nou on Sunday night capped a brilliant week for the blaugrana. They have now scored four goals in three consecutive games, after winning 4-1 at Mestalla last weekend and 4-2 in Naples in midweek. This is the first time they have scored four in three successive matches since May 2017 (4-1 vs Villarreal, 4-1 at Las Palmas and 4-2 vs Eibar). Back then, Luis Enrique was at the helm and they had they frightening trident of Leo Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar. Of those 12 goals, Neymar scored five, while Messi and Suarez struck three apiece.

This time around, the goals have been shared around. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has led this latest spree: he smashed a hat-trick at Mestalla, scored in Naples and then opened the scoring against Athletic. Five goals in his first six appearances gives him the most prolific start for a forward since Samuel Eto’o in 2004.

Then it was all about the bench. Ousmane Dembele literally silenced his critics with a sensational cameo, smashing in his first goal of the season before setting up fellow subs Luuk de Jong and then the returning Memphis. Dembele became the twentieth different goalscorer for Barca in La Liga this season, and Ferran Torres hasn’t yet scored. This collective responsibility is something which has been needed given the chasmic absence of Leo Messi’s goals. This iteration has now scored 19 goals in six matches in February, 3.17 per game on average, a more than healthy return.

With this emphatic result, Barca have won three consecutive matches for the first time this season. There have been strong performances before, false dawns some could say. But given the quality of the opposition this past week, it can be hard to put any kind of dampener on the mood of Barca’s fans. It has been impressive: a convincing win at Mestalla, scoring four in the vociferous cauldron at Napoli, and then dismissing a normally solid, albeit rotated Athletic side.

Perhaps the biggest bonus though was the performance of Pedri. Still just 19 years of age, the recipient of the 2021 Golden Boy and Kopa awards showed once again why he is the best young player in the World. Those were the words of Xavi, who then compared him to the great Andres Iniesta. This praise should not be taken lightly. Xavi played in tandem with Iniesta as part of the best midfield of all time, so if he sees similarities, they are genuine. The standout moment was when Pedri got himself out of a tricky situation on the sideline with a glorious backheel nutmeg which led to gasps of astoundment from the fans close by. If a player reminds people of Iniesta and Juan Roman Riquelme in the same game, they’ve had a pretty decent night.

That’s an understatement in truth. Pedri and Barca are more than decent. They are building momentum at exactly the right time of the season. They are now just one point behind Betis in third, and have a game in hand on both los verdiblancos and Atleti. Next week, Betis and Atleti meet in Seville, putting Barca in a strong position now to finish in the top four. Xavi has only lost one league match so far, and now has an abundance of options at his disposal. Barca are purring, their fans are getting excited. There is still a long way to go, but Laporta’s celebratory mood is justified. Barca are on the right track.

Tags Athletic Club Barcelona La Liga
La Liga - Club News