13th June, 2020
Barcelona is surely one of those teams that somewhat benefited from the COVID-19 forced break in the football season this year.
They not only got a well deserved rest, but also had enough time to get back hitherto injured stars especially a Luis Suarez who was to virtually miss on the rest of the season if not for the unexpected break.
He made it back to the team and was a delight to watch as usual alongside the mercurial Barca captain, Lionel Messi.
Barca virtually demolished Real Mallorca 4-0 on Saturday night at Son Moix in their first game back since the COVID-19 outbreak forced a halt in the LaLiga and elsewhere.
The goal scorers for this game were Arturo Vidal, Martin Braithwaite, Jordi Alba and Lionel Messi in that order as the Catalan side picked up very important three points to consolidate their position at the top of the LaLiga.
There was some surprise in the starting line-up of Barcelona as Braithwaite started the game ahead of Luis Suarez who has just returned from injury and with Ronald Araujo in central defence in place of the still-not-100-percent-fit Samuel Umtiti.
The Catalans showed no rust after the three-month layoff and scored the first goal after just 66 seconds into the game through Arturo Vidal.
It started with Frenkie de Jong winning back a ball deep in the Mallorca area before laying a pass to Jordi Alba, who swung in a cross and the Chilean headed in the goal.
As was to be expected, Barcelona were dominating their hosts, constantly opening up the Mallorca defence and with some better finishing they would have scored another goal or two.
Surprisingly, it was still a one-goal affair midway through the first half when Mallorca came inches away from scoring an equaliser on a rare move forward that ended with Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen stretching to par away a Takefusa Kubo shot.
The same striker had another good crack at goal from a free-kick later in the half but once again, Ter Stegen had to be on his toes to keep the Japanese starlet off the scoresheet.
Mallorca were still enjoying their best moments of the half when Barca scored their second goal of the game.
Just like it was in the case of the first goal, De Jong once again did well to keep the ball alive in the Mallorca half which gave Lionel Messi the chance to flick a header over to a free Braithwaite, who then hammered in a right-footer for a 2-0 lead.
The hosts came out strong to start the second half and Ante Budimir was unlucky not to have reduced the deficit when his strike to finish a counterattack went wide.
Barcelona replaced Arturo Vidal with Ivan Rakitic to start the second half of the game, before making a second change around the hour mark, with Luis Suarez coming on in place of Antoine Griezmann.
That change naturally inspired the Barcelona attack and Messi came up with back-to-back chances that somehow failed to produce a goal at that stage of the match.
First, it was a pass slipped into the path of Braithwaite, whose shot was deflected wide by Mallorca goal-keeper, Manolo Reina while the second was a cross that was maneuvered by Suarez for Araujo who hit the post.
Thereafter, Sergi Busquets and Sergi Roberto came off for Arthur and Nelson Semedo, respectively, but Mallorca were still very much in the game and making matters difficult for the Barcelona defence.
Of course, Barcelona needed a third goal to kill off the game and it arrived at the right time as Messi found a streaking Jordi Alba, who slotted the ball past Reina into the net.
Lionel Messi deservedly got himself on the scoresheet in stoppage time, with the assistance of a deflection, to complete the big win, one that puts Barcelona five points clear of Real Madrid’s return on Sunday.
Mallorca: Reina; Pozo, Valjent, Raillo, Sastre (Fran Gomez, min. 46); Dani Rodriguez, Salva Sevilla (Yannis Salibur, min. 84), Pedraza (Baba, min. 57), Kubo; Cucho (Lago Junior, min. 46), Budimir (Abdon Prats, min. 85)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto (Semedo, min. 71), Pique, Araujo, Jordi Alba; Busquets (Arhtur, min. 71), De Jong (Junior Firpo, min. 84), Vidal (Rakitic, min. 46); Messi, Braithwaite, Griezmann (Suarez, min. 57)
Goals: 0-1: Vidal. 0-2: Braithwaite, 0-3: Jordi Alba, 0-4;: Messi