Nelson Semedo resembles Dani Alves and other things learned as Lionel Messi inspires Barca to 6-1 win

Andy West 11:59 20/09/2017
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Lionel Messi added four more goals to his soaring early season tally as a much-changed Barcelona maintained their 100 percent start to La Liga by routing Eibar 6-1.

Paulinho and Denis Suarez also netted for the second consecutive game as Barca stretched their lead at the top of La Liga to seven points over Real Madrid.

Here are three things learned from the clash…

MESSI, MESSI, MESSI, MESSI

This was a strange game. Eibar were the better team – by far – in the opening 20 minutes and had more shots on goal than their opponents, but still ended up losing 6-1. The reason was very simple: Lionel Messi.

The Argentine was, once again, simply sublime. After opening the scoring with a penalty he decided to add an open play hat-trick – and ‘decided to’ feels about right because, as Espanyol boss Quique Sanchez Flores once quipped, it sometimes appears that Messi could score a hat-trick in every game if he wanted to.

His second goal was particularly impressive, as he raced to the edge of the area under heavy pressure and despite falling off balance somehow managed to guide the ball inches inside the left hand post, passing the ball into the net rather than shooting it.

And as the dust settles, it’s worth noting something which would be truly remarkable if we weren’t talking about Messi: with five league games played, he’s already scored nine goals. Oh yes…plus two in the Champions League. Against Juventus.

SEMEDO SETTLING IN

Aside from Messi, the most notable performance for Barca came from right-back Nelson Semedo, who is looking increasingly capable of solving the dilemma presented by the departure of Dani Alves in the summer of 2016.

Indeed, in the way that Semedo calls upon endless supplies of energy to raid up and down the right wing, diligent in defence and daring in attack, there’s more than a hint of resemblance between the Portuguese international and the legend he is hoping to replace.

On this occasion Semedo made arguably the most important single contribution to the game by winning the penalty which opened the scoring and changed the course of the action, and he has surely now already firmly established himself as Ernesto Valverde’s first choice on the right-hand side of defence. And although there’s an awfully long way to go before he can even begin to match Alves’s achievements, he’s made a good start.

Lionel Messi with defender Nelson Semedo

Lionel Messi with defender Nelson Semedo

BARCA STILL FAR FROM PERFECT

Barcelona are sitting pretty at the top of La Liga with five wins out of five, but don’t be fooled into thinking they are unbeatable because their results have been far better than their performances.

The hosts were significantly inferior to Eibar in the opening 20 minutes of this game and had a great save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen – or should that be a glaring miss by Sergi Enrich – to thank for keeping the score level.

Messi’s penalty after 20 minutes was their first shot of any description, and it was fortunate that Paulinho soon followed up by powering home a header from a corner to take the game away from Eibar.

The second half was a different story as Messi ran riot, but there’s absolutely no room for complacency for Barca after two consecutive games against modest opposition – Getafe on Saturday, Eibar on Tuesday – when they were outplayed in the opening stages. Against better opposition, they may not get off the hook so easily.

Enersto Valverde won't be sitting too comfortably despite Barca's stunning start

Enersto Valverde won’t be sitting too comfortably despite Barca’s stunning start

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