Wednesday, at the Estadio Riazor, in A Coruna, visiting FC Barcelona put eight goals past a very amateurish Deportivo La Coruna side in their Week 34 La Liga match. The hosts fell victim to the Catalans’ overdrive desire to put aside what had been a very difficult few weeks featuring four defeats, to Real Madrid, Real Sociedad, Atletico Madrid, and Valencia.
Barca unleashed all of their attacking prowess upon the hapless Depor side and Luis Suarez (11, 24, 53, 64), Ivan Rakitic (47), Lionel Messi (73), Marc Bartra (79) and Neymar (81) did the damage in a pile-on display that had reassertion, goal differential, and Suarez-for-pichichi as the overriding objectives. With four La Liga matches left, against teams ranked 12, 15, 17, and 18 on the table, another domestic championship should be in the making, but it is not a sure thing this topsy-turvy year. The Copa del Rey final, against Sevilla, ironically to be played at the Vicente Calderon on May 22, will provide the final shot at silverware for Messi’s troops in the 2015-16 club year.
What might have been a fun display of offense yesterday was so calculated and, again, dependent upon officiating largesse and, yes, a large dollop of the weakest of oppositions, that the win seemed stuck in what the team so desperately wanted to get away from—suspicion.
The opening goal saw Suarez throw his marker down before making contact with the corner kick he one-timed into the net from close in. The goal should have been disallowed for the foul committed and the victimized Brazilian defender, Sidnei, could be seen pleading his case with the ref to no avail before the restart.
The second goal saw Depor defend, in the box, with five plus the goalkeeper, and no Barca player in the box. Yet, Messi was allowed to receive a pass unmarked at the top of the half moon, then allowed to pass into the box, while, inexplicably, Suarez was allowed to receive Messi’s pass unmarked and in a position that put him one-on-one with the keeper. Where were the six people allegedly defending against the two attackers?
In the key segment of the play leading to the third goal, three Depor defenders surround two Barca players on the left side of the box but somehow Suarez is allowed to calmly loft a pass to a streaking Rakitic who fires away totally unmarked on the other side of the box.
On the fourth goal, Messi controls a counter that sees Suarez run down the middle and Neymar take the left wing, against four Depor defenders and the goalkeeper who is at about the penalty spot. The central defenders, though, open a Grand Canyon-sized avenue down the middle for Suarez to receive Messi’s pass and then slot away from a very close in one-on-one position. Certainly the pichichi for Suarez objective was accomplished with the Uruguayan’s hat trick.
Maybe the Depor folks felt they had done enough this season, sitting four spots above the relegation zone.
The fifth goal, again scored when an unmarked Messi passed over four Depor defenders and found his two teammates were the only ones able to get the ball. This goal began to bring the who-else-is-after-the-pichichi into pristine focus as Neymar was left with a one-on-one (sound familiar?) with the goalkeeper and yet passed to the trailing Suarez for the put-in. Their guy was now one goal away from the leader of Barca’s hated archrival, Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
The six goal put the stink of the game front and center as once again five Depor players were unable to stop the Barca trident. When the right wing pass from Suarez came into the box, it was to an unmarked Messi who was by then standing, not running into position, but standing, at about the penalty spot. He simply had to tap the ball between the two inert central defenders and into an empty net as the goalkeeper was so woefully out of position as to require the cameraman to widen the television camera’s angle to encompass the goalie’s run back.
The seventh goal put both the Catalans’ goal differential objective and Depor’s fraudulent opposition into focus as Bartra, yes central defender Bartra, intercepted a ball just past the center circle, in Depor’s half and with nine of the opposition between him and the goal, and guess what happened? Yup, he dribbled all the way into the box, between those same two central defensive pillars who watched Messi’s tap in goal, for a close in shot and a score. Now Barca was then nearing Real’s goal differential. Another game like this one and they would be top scorers in the league.
The eighth goal saw Messi run between two Depor defenders who had a good look at the Argentine’s backside before the diminutive striker found, wait for it, a two-Barcelona vs. four-Depor break, which of course meant only the Barca players would touch the ball. Sure enough, Messi found a wide open Neymar who received the pass in stride, in the box, and, dare I say it, he was in one-on-one with the goalie, and, yes, he scored.
Barca eight and nobody home zero.