As Barcelona prepare to face Jose Luis Mendillibar’s SD Eibar, join us as we reminisce the Catalans’ 3-0 victory over their Basque counterparts on their debut La Liga season in this episode of The Rewind.
Despite being under new management, Fútbol Club Barcelona were enjoying one of their best starts ever to a La Liga season. By matchday seven Luis Enriqué had taken the Catalans to fourth on the league table, with 19 points from a possible 21, and were up against a new face in the Primera División, Gaizka Garitano’s Eibar.
La Liga’s self-named “bravest club” had enjoyed a relatively good start to life in the first division, standing tenth on the log and with ten points ahead of their trip to Catalunya. The odds were very much against their favour, and they succumbed to a 3-0 loss in the iconic Camp Nou thanks to goals from Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr, and Xavi Hernández.
Alves · Pique · Mathieu · Alba
Xavi · Mascherano · Roberto
Pedro · Messi · Neymar
Bodeva · Lillo · Ekiza · Albentosa · Abraham
Errasta · Lana · Garcia
Capa · Berrjon
Lionel Messi and Dani Alves kicked things off in another picture-perfect show of their telepathic synchronisation. The two combined seamlessly just outside the box, with the Brazilian lacerating Eibar’s five-man backline with a through ball and found Messi, whose shot was cleverly stopped by Xabi Irureta.
The Argentine nearly got on the scoresheet just moments later, however, despite the quick passing between himself and Xavi, his curling effort went centimetres wide off the mark.
He then turned creator soon after, although, to his dismay, his cross glanced just over an onrushing Neymar’s head as it went out for a goal kick. On the other end, given Dani Alves’ offensive nature, Eibar exploited the spaces in behind through Ander Capa, though despite having gone past Claudio Bravo and with the goalmouth gaping wide, his shot went only as far as the side netting.
Desperation crept in, however it did barely anything to waver the hosts’ composure. Akin to a surgeon with his scalpel, they carefully dissected Eibar’s tight-knit defence with a passing phase reminiscent of the Barca of old, however despite their efforts, they simply could not open the scoring as Xavi’s low driven effort was met with an equally brilliant save by Irureta.
Pedro Rodríguez attempted a cross into the 18-yard box into Messi, but despite making appropriate contact, the ball fell right into the goalkeeper’s grateful arms. On the break, a slight miscommunication between Dani Alves and Gerard Piqué left Saúl Berrjón one on one with Bravo, however, intending to maintain his spotless record in goal, the Chilean made a fantastic block to keep the scores level heading into the break.
Going into half-time Barça were by far the superior side, although despite the rarity in their chances, Eibar produced the more clear-cut opportunities of the game.
Half Time: Barcelona 0-0 Eibar
Following Sergi Roberto’s injury right at the start of the second period, Luis Enriqué brought on Andrés Iniesta, and from then on, the game took a whole new dimension. His first involvement in the game — indirectly — led to Barça’s opener.
Having combined well with Xavi on the edge of the box, Barça’s outgoing legend played a pass and go with Messi, who instinctively threaded the ball like a string through the eye of a needle past the deep block to Xavi, who then chipped the ball into the back of the net to make it 1-0. It was the Argentine’s seventh assist in eight matches, and what a pass it was!
Iniesta then played one of his trademark long balls into Pedro, however, his miscontrol tightened the angle of the shot, and Irureta was on hand to make a comfortable save. Moments later Messi sought after his opener brilliantly, only to essentially caging himself into a space smaller than a telephone box, forcing his goalbound effort only as far as the side netting.
Having scored a whopping four goals against Japan during the international break, Neymar got his fifth goal of the week. Following Dani Alves’ sumptuous cross into the box, his compatriot let out a sumptuous volley which, despite Irureta’s best efforts, was too hot to handle. The goal was enough to put the game beyond a struggling Eibar’s reach, and their golden boy would put the final nail in the coffin just two minutes later.
For all his efforts, Messi finally got the goal he so richly deserved just over halfway into the second half with one of his trademark finishes. Midway into Eibar’s territory, he went head to head with their defenders, eventually finding Neymar lying in wait on the edge of the box. The Brazilian then laid the ball on a plate for his South American counterpart, who firmly struck the ball into the back of the net to kill off the game. All hits, no misses for the Messi – Neymar duo.
It was his 250th goal in the Spanish top flight, and what a moment to score it! With the Clásico just a week away, this goal left him with only two to equal Telmo Zarra as La Liga’s all time top goalscorer, at just 27 years of age, and with a chance to rub salt into his fierce enemies’ wounds in the Bernabeu no less.
The victory took Barca to first on the log, earning Claudio Bravo his eighth successive clean sheet and leaving Barca without having conceded a goal to any opposition for twelve successive hours in the domestic league.
Barcelona will be hoping to replicate this performance as they host Eibar tomorrow in the hope of continuing on the winning path.
Full Time: Barcelona 3-0 Eibar
The Rewind: Barcelona 8-1 Huesca, 2014/15
While the 8-2 victory from the 2018/19 season is fresher within the minds of Barça’s supporters, the Catalans obtained an equally memorable result in the second leg of their last 32 Copa Del Rey tie. The Garnet and Blue had already ripped the Aragonés in stunning style away from home in the reverse fixture, a game that saw them win 4-0, and were looking to complete the demolition derby at home in a half-packed Camp Nou.
The second tier Azulgranas endured one of the worst halves to a game in their history, as their defence, porous as a sponge, conceded a “manita” by halftime. Pedro, filling in for Neymar in his favoured left-wing scored a first-half hat trick, as goals from Andres Iniesta, Adriano Correia, Adama Traoré, Sergi Roberto, Sandro Ramirez led Huesca to a damning 8-1 loss on away soil.
Montoya · Mascherano · Bartra · Adriano
Roberto · Samper · Iniesta
Rafinha · Munir · Pedro
Antonio · David · Gaspar · Scardina
Manola · Lucas · Sosa · Bernal
Cabezas · Esnaider
Despite the flabbergasting scoreline, Barcelona nearly found themselves on the back-foot early on in the game. As soon as the fifth minute, Chus Sosa played in a sumptuous cross from the touchline into Juan Esnaider’s path. The Spaniard directed the subsequent header towards Jordi Masip’s goal, however to his utter discontent, his effort bounced off the frame of the post and out for a goal-kick.
Having awoken the beast, Barça wreaked havoc on Huesca’s brittle defence, with Pedro opening the scoring. Munir el Haddadi beat his opponent’s offside trap with a perfectly timed run into the half-empty pitch. Once at the edge of the box, he played an outswinger with the outside of his left foot, finding Pedro in the 18-yard area, who scored the subsequent header.
He doubled his tally soon after, as following yet another botched attempt at keeping Barça at bay, the men in white let Pedro of the hook for a fraction of a second, and he punished them accordingly with a smashing effort past Dani Jiménez.
Deputising for Dani Alves, Martin Montoya played one of the Brazilian’s trademark crosses, finding Sergi Roberto right near the penalty spot. The La Masia graduate made the most delicate touch as his chipped effort proved too good a strike for the Huesca shot-stopper even to fathom touching.
Barça were fully in their stride as with a 7-0 aggregate lead, the tie was well and truly finished. With this in mind, they delicately carved Huesca open with pristine passing synonymous with the Barcelona of old. Come the end of the move, Roberto found Iniesta who, with the most fluid of controls for rid of his marker and subsequently tapped the ball past the advancing Jiménez and into the net to make it 4-0.
Barça’s job was just halfway complete, and Pedro added the icing to what was turning out to be a cake adorned with goals of all kinds. Pedro completed his hat trick with a goal almost identical to that of Mohamed Salah’s Puskas winning goal from 2018. It was the perfect strike to cap off what had been a perfect evening.
Half Time: Barcelona 5-0 Huesca
As the momentum was still on, Barcelona kept up the onslaught and ridiculed Huesca even further. Sandro unlocked their defence with the most delicate of through balls, finding Adriano positioned in the opposite flank. With the keeper completely out of his favoured position, the Brazilian took a strike from outside the penalty area, scoring splendidly to take the lead to a whopping ten on aggregate.
With 13 minutes left to play, substitute Adama Traoré, a man of much different physicality then, added further gloss to the scoreline. Just as he does now, he used his quick feet and instinctive reactions to skip post his markers till he ultimately found himself one on one with Dani Jiménez, who was truly helpless to stop the goal going in.
Towards the end of the tie, Javier Mascherano chipped the ball over the entirety of the Huesca backline, finding an on-rushing Sandro in the penalty box. With all the time in the world, he controlled the ball, picked his spot and let out a fierce strike past the keeper to finish the scoring for the Blaugrana.
Huesca got a consolation goal via a Carlos David header, however, it was worth next to nothing, as they were ruthlessly eliminated from the king’s cup by 12 goals to two.
Full Time: Barcelona 8-2 Huesca