We all know of the Anoeta Curse, so coming into this game undefeated I was concerned yet optimistic. After the amazing showing midweek, the signings, losses by Real Madrid, a win at Anoeta would just keep the good times rolling.
Valverde started with the conservative line-up as we've seen in the past against strong opponents. Being honest, with all the singings and Dembele back, I almost forgot the purpose of this line-up. Of course, my biggest point of contention was the inclusion of Andre Gomes, a player who did nothing for 90' mid-week.
Early in the game Roberto got forward and was adding to the attack. As much as I enjoy Semedo at right back, it cannot be argued that Roberto is not an asset when it comes to the attack. I feel he is to Luis Suarez on the right side what Jordi Alba is to Messi from the left.
Interesting Test Early
So we go down 2 goals…honestly, I wasn't bothered, I was actually interested to see how Valverde handled the situation, how the team reacted. If we want the Treble this season, we will face these types of situations, so that Sociedad was giving it early was a great thing for our team.
I was disappointed in our defense, very much excited to have Umtiti back in the squad. I don't think Pique was as commanding as he should have been and Vermaelen was not impressive. However, I think the bigger issue was a lack of execution of the plan in the midfield. This formation has worked in the past, granted we had Don Andres in the middle to keep everyone on track. Should Gomes have gotten the start?
Either way, again, this guy is where he should be when he should be there. Clearly, he is an asset to this team and it's been great to see. I was not originally opposed to his purchase, I was most upset at the price tag, but I can say he's been worth it.
The biggest question with Paulinho in this game was, why was he removed after scoring a goal and clearly contributing defensively, why did he give way for the sub?
Luis Suarez in Form
There is not much to say about this other than, Barca fans need to have more faith. I saw so many fans demanding we purchase a new striker when Luis was in his slump. Strikers lose form sometimes, it happens, what's amazing, however, is that he is regaining form towards the most important parts of the season. An absolutely amazing goal in the top corner, having both him and Messi in form is just a joy to see.
This was where I had most of my issues this game. Valverde's insistence on keeping Gomes on while he was contributing nothing to both offense or defense was absurd. Putting in Denis Suarez for the last 3 minutes of the game was insulting. At this point, I would not blame him if he wanted to leave, which is sad because the stats show he is a much better player than Gomes.
Overall, this game was a great positive for us, we were tested, we responded well. Lionel Messi is going for his 6th Ballon d'Or in spectacular fashion, this is clearly not his motivation, however, you can tell there is a determination with him and it's great seeing that team-wide.
Have no fear Barca fans…trust in our team! Forca Barca!