£96.8m Dembele faces second Barcelona lay-off

Jan 16, 2018, 00:56
£96.8m Dembele faces second Barcelona lay-off

Barcelona reached the halfway point of the season unbeaten and with a nine-point lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid. They are at their best when they are playing a direct style and utilising fully the talents of wide men, Mikel Oyarzabal and Adnan Januzaj. Zinedine Zidane's team has lost more points (22) than in its entire title-winning campaign last season (21), although it has a game in hand. A brilliant brace from Luis Suarez post the interval put the Blaugrana in the driving seat, before Lionel Messi wrapped up the proceedings with an fantastic free-kick to surpass Gerd Muller with 366th league goal.

Within the first 15 minutes, Lionel Messi had already twice passed the ball into the opposition net from the edge of the box, giving his side a 2-0 lead on the night. Messi reached his 366th league goal all-time, surpassing Gerd Mueller's Bundesliga mark of 365 and becoming the most prolific scorer among Europe's top leagues.

The fee could end up rising to £135.5m, but that deal was eclipsed last week by Barca's swoop for Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho, which could end up costing the Catalan giants £142m. With just six wins and 23 points from 18 games thus far, La Real's inconsistencies have put them at 13th on the table, although they are just six points adrift of fifth-placed Sevilla.

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A tight game of few chances was decided by Manu Garcia's 52nd minute volley, although Alaves did enough to deserve all three points.

Barcelona are one of three sides yet to score any goals in this period. Messi has been able to overcome the 1971 World Cup victor in just 401.

Barcelona has become a side who can win in different ways, with the stunning football produced in the 5-0 win over Celta Vigo in the King's Cup Thursday replaced by something more pragmatic at Sociedad.

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It is very easy to take Lionel Messi for granted. Barcelona came into Sunday's clash having not won at Anoeta since 2007 and 34 minutes into the battle it looked like the curse is going to continue.

After such a commanding performance at the Anoeta on Sunday, a ground where they traditionally struggle, it's hard to see where this incredible Barcelona side are going to drop points this season.

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