The more pressure, the better Barça response. The Catalans closed a long-awaited day with a bright marker in Anoeta. It was not just any game, because before Atlético and Madrid had won, and the expectation was maximum in San Sebastián. And it was not a minor scenario either because some of the most decisive episodes in the last years of Barcelona have taken place on the Real court. The range of 1-6 is not yet known. The win will cause in any case that at the moment there is much and good talk about Barça even though four points still separate them from Atlético.
Endured by Ter Stegen, Barça football overflowed Real, battered and subdued by the teachers of Busquets and Messi and overwhelmed by Dest and Alba on his 32nd birthday. The veterans are vindicated and the wings have gone from penalizing in defense to being decisive in attack after the team has stabilized with the hand of Koeman. The Barcelona fans fly, happy and ambitious in a decisive moment to measure the candidates to win the League. Barca no longer suffers to cut points but rather enjoys and intimidates with the victories, overflowing with health after adding 37 points out of 39, 18 games without losing, nine consecutive victories in a foreign field, the last brilliant by 1-6.
Life has been smiling on Barça since the beginning of the year, so comfortable with the scoreboard and sure with his football that the coach does not change the drawing, an apparent 3-4-3 that often turns into a 3-4-2 -1, nor does he touch the lineup, even when he recovers a starter like Araujo. The Uruguayan’s substitution meant keeping Griezmann on the day that he celebrated his 30th anniversary at a stadium where he burst as a distinguished footballer in the League, and that De Jong would continue as central alongside Mingueza and Lenglet. Koeman was right.
More surprising was the formation of Imanol due to the presence of the Merquelanz midfielder as a false winger. Despite also being picked up with three centrals, the Real bled from the left side, pierced by Dest. The Catalans played by heart, daring in their deployment and pressure, in solidarity defensively to avoid the transitions of the Donostiarras, vertical even without Silva. The Barça fans alternated their possessions with long passes to uncheck Dembélé when Real squeezed the ball out.
The Catalans, however, lacked precision to shoot the pass line from their area and also to finish the plays against Remiro. Grateful and generous, Real is as demanding of itself as it is of its rival because it turns each match into eleven individual duels, a plan that penalizes every mistake with an opportunity: Isak found Ter Stegen’s body after De Jong’s failure.
There was no more time in half an hour, the two teams were very concentrated, until Messi came into play after a failure by Remiro to center Dest. The Barcelona captain activated the wings and two goals fell at one point: he first enabled Alba, whose center was finished off by Dembélé and riveted by the hard-working Griezmann, and later he deepened for Dest, who crossed before Remiro’s departure. Dest was a dagger against the Real.
Isak, on the other hand, could not with Ter Stegen. The goalkeeper twice denied the forward in two actions that previously portrayed the goalkeeper himself and De Jong. The losses did not penalize the Catalans, more effective on the other hand than Real, lack of punch and driving, unable to cover Busquets and Messi. The team is oriented around the omnipresent midfielder and marks the differences from the position of hitch of 10. Messi and Busquets play and open for the sides when they do not connect between them as happened in the 0-4.
The captain needed to endorse his condition as top scorer (23 goals) after Benzema and Luis Suárez had scored. The fourth goal crowned Barça’s excellent performance against a distraught Real and the sixth made the captain bigger on the day that he added his 768 games with Barça’s sheepskin. The third expressed the opposite dynamics: Dest’s fortune met Merquelanz’s misery. And, in between, there are two excellent goals, from Dembélé and from Barrenetxea, to liven up Barcelona’s full game.