Messi, Suarez, Griezmann all on target for Barca as Atletico held
Barcelona’s ‘MSG’ strike force is finally clicked into gear as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann all scored in a ruthless 3-0 victory over Eibar on Saturday.
Griezmann’s place in the newly-formed attacking trident has not been secure but the Frenchman opened the scoring at Ipurua before teeing up Messi and then playing the crucial pass for Suarez to make it three.
“There will be good and bad days but we are getting to know each other and bit by bit we will do even better,” said Griezmann.
An authoritative Barca display thrust them to the top of La Liga, for a few hours at least before Real Madrid play Real Mallorca. They moved three points clear of Atletico, who drew 1-1 at home to Valencia.
The victory also dismissed suggestions their players might be affected by Friday’s postponement of next Saturday’s Clasico due to protests in Catalonia.
Violence in Barcelona and disruptions at El Prat airport meant Ernesto Valverde’s side altered their pre-match routine and embarked on a 589-kilometre bus trip to the Basque County on Friday.
All the while, discussions continued over the Clasico against Real Madrid, which is now expected to go ahead in December.
“It is fashionable not to agree on political issues but at least let’s agree on the date of the Clasico,” Valverde said afterwards. “It doesn’t seem to me that difficult.”
Perhaps chaos off the pitch inspired Barca to unite on it.
This was their fifth consecutive victory in all competitions, a sequence which is swiftly erasing memories of a stumbling start to the season.
The resurgence has coincided with Messi’s return from injury yet it was the fluidity and cohesion of the front three, rather than the Argentinian’s familiar solo brilliance, that will have been most pleasing for Valverde.
“Great players always understand each other,” Valverde said. “With time and matches they will understand each other even more.”
– Four for Griezmann –
Griezmann has four goals since joining Barca from Atletico Madrid last summer but a series of underwhelming showings led to Ousmane Dembele starting against Sevilla before the international break.
There was good news too for Barcelona in defence, where Samuel Umtiti came through 90 minutes in what was his first appearance of the season. Umtiti, who has been out with a foot injury, replaced the banned Gerard Pique.
The only blot on the result was an injury to Sergi Roberto, who hurt his left knee and was replaced at half-time. He will be a doubt for the Champions League game away at Slavia Prague on Wednesday.
The visiting fans chanted in support of the nine Catalan leaders imprisoned last week for a failed independence bid in 2017.