Barcelona triumphed over Athletic Club in a fiercely fought 1-0 win at the Nou Camp yesterday.
On a night famous for the Feast of Sant Joan, the Catalonians ensured their fans had more to celebrate.
The Blaugrana kept their fifth clean sheet in a row in all competitions as they secured the home win to move top of the log.
Here are the pros and cons of the 1-0 triumph.
Pro: Title push continues
The victory means Barcelona move ahead of rivals Real Madrid to the top of the table.
Ivan Rakitic’s second-half strike piles the pressure on Real Madrid as they face Mallorca in their next outing.
The Blaugrana will hope for a Los Blancos slip, and try to win all their remaining games in their quest to secure the La Liga title once more.
Con: Midfield Misery
Barcelona’s midfield continues to divide opinions.
On the one hand, they keep possession well and misplace very few passes. However, they lack the incision, intensity, and penetration required to unlock defenses.
The onus remains on Messi to provide the required impetus to break opposition lines.
This is an area that needs serious improvement, and one that Setien should be looking to improve upon.
Pro: Ruqui’s Push
With the score level upon his introduction, Ruqui Puig had an immediate impact.
His intensity was contagious and his passing purposeful. Despite being brought on in the second half, he was named Rac1’s man of the match, a testament to how good he was on the night.
🌟 Riqui Puig is named RAC1's MOTM of #BarçaAthletic .
Congratulations, Well-deserved. 👏 pic.twitter.com/ZJnSVa2WRB
— BarçaTimes (@BarcaTimes) June 23, 2020
With speculation surrounding the future of some of his midfield teammates, Puig has shown that he’s a very real option going forward for the Blaugrana.
Setien might not have to look too far for his midfield solution.
Con: Striker Stinkers
Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann just can’t seem to get going.
The Uruguayan international was given 85 minutes on the night but accomplished little with them.
He still doesn’t look quite sharp and his late replacement Braithwaite looked much more up for it.
Antoine Griezmann just can’t buy a goal a the moment.
📊 [OPTA] | Antoine Griezmann has not scored in any of his last seven games in La Liga, his worst run in the Spanish top-flight since October-December 2016 (9, with Atlético de Madrid). pic.twitter.com/D0Fmwse6Ks
— BarçaTimes (@BarcaTimes) June 24, 2020
No matter how hard the Frenchman seems to work for the team nothing ever quite goes his way.
You can’t help but sympathize with Griezmann’s plight as his move to Catalonia seems like more of a mistake with each passing game.
Pro: Messi Milestone
On the night before his 33rd birthday, Messi reached yet another milestone.
The Argentine forward recorded his 250th assist for FC Barcelona on the night as he set up Ivan Rakitic’s 71st-minute winner.
Messi currently leads La Liga in the scoring charts as well as assists.
Lionel Messi in LaLiga this season:
Most goals (21)
Most assists (15)
Most chances created (67)
Most take-ons completed (147)
Most big chances created (28)
Most fouls won in the final ⅓ (28)
Most hat-tricks (3)
Most goals from outside the box (8)
It really is LeoLiga. 🤯 pic.twitter.com/xL1R3qOfaC
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 23, 2020
Messi would have liked to hit his 700th career goal on the night but it wasn’t to be.
As he turns 33, Barcelona’s greatest ever player will just have to wait to set yet another milestone.