The mood for the second clash between Barcelona and Espanyol had already been set in their first meeting. While Espanyol was already down in goals, one of their players foolishly decided now was the perfect time to trash talk to Messi. “You’re short”, Alvaro Gonzalez quipped to Barca’s number 10. Messi was unaffected and casually replied: “You’re bad at football”, and went on to help his side to an easy 4-1 victory. That match overall was akin to a horror movie for Constantin Gâlcă’s side. The referee flashed yellow and red cards to Espanyol as if he was handing out Halloween candy to little children.
This second-to-last game in La Liga between the two was no different. Though MSN have shown signs of fatigue over the past few weeks, the three frontmen looked fresh for this match. Luis Suarez, Barca’s workhorse, was tireless as he applied pressure to Espanyol and fought off challenges to put balls in the back of the net. Messi, again, quenched his goal drought by scoring a curling free-kick that had Pau Lopez completely miss the ball by miles. Neymar has seen better days. The weight of constant scrutiny, court cases, and rumors has left the once tricky Brazilian frustrated. Though he was able to cut-in, cross with a rabona, and almost score a free-kick himself, the number 11 still looked slightly uncomfortable on the pitch next to his two other strike partners.
Espanyol, for all the trash talk prior to this match, looked weak and disorganized. Ter Stegen was left largely untested, even when he made an error that saw him pass the ball to an Espanyol player. As the balls started to hit the back of their net, Espanyol tried with no luck to tighten up their defensive lines. Then the fouling started. Six yellow cards were shown to the visitors for their Atleti-style tackles and farcical efforts. The fact that no red cards were shown is the only break Espanyol received all morning.
Messi has now scored his twenty-third free-kick of the season. Luis Suarez is now on track to take home both the Pichichi and the Golden Boot awards. Barcelona is unbeaten in their last four games. It seems as if getting booted out of the Champions League was the reality check that the Blaugrana needed to jump-start their engines again. At this point, La Liga is all but won with only one match to go and Barcelona are back in their stupendous goal scoring form to finish off a hectic season. Unless CR7 starts banging away goals in Madrid’s last La Liga match and Barcelona somehow slip-up and lose the final match, everything seems to be in favor of the boys in blue and red.