Barcelona’s squad depth has made them unstoppable in LaLiga
Sergi Roberto and Robert Lewandowski scored as Barcelona restored their eight-point lead at the top of LaLiga with a 2-0 win over Cadiz at the Camp Nou on Sunday.
Both goals came late in the first half. Roberto broke the deadlock after good work from Ferran Torres before Lewandowski scored his 15th league goal of the season with a good shot from the edge of the box.
Substitutes Chris Ramos and Anthony Lozano both came close to coming from behind for Cadiz after the break and Cadiz were also disallowed for two goals but Barca easily held on to extending their unbeaten run to 18 games in all competitions.
1. Barcelona doesn’t skip a beat when it comes to squad rotation
With injuries piling up, Barca boss Xavi Hernandez will have been pleased as a much-changed side clinched three points against Cadiz. He made six changes from the side that drew against Manchester United in the Europa League and was later able to rest Lewandowski and Frenkie de Jong ahead of Thursday’s second leg at Old Trafford.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga & more (US)
– Read on ESPN+: Why Man Utd won’t win the Prem
Two goals just before the break meant Barca could relax in the second period. Roberto, one of the newcomers to the team, had already made a save against Jeremias Ledesma when he capitalized on a great run from Torres to open the scoring. Lewandowski then scored a much needed goal. He has been fighting for top form since the World Cup and has been goalless in three games. Still, his goal here saw him finish 24th for the season in just 29 appearances in all competitions. Only the crossbar later prevented him from conceding a second goal.
Cadiz recovered after the break. As in the first half, Roger Marti had ruled out a goal and Sergio Gonzalez’s side could feel they created enough chances to retrace at least one goal. But Barca remained relatively in control and, after Real Madrid beat Osasuna on Saturday, ensured they stayed eight points ahead of the weekend.
2. Torres is proving his worth for Barcelona
In his first start in exactly a month, Ferran Torres reminded Barca why they paid around €50m to sign him from Manchester City a year ago. Torres thrilled in the first half as he kept making ends meet to great effect against Cadiz left-back Santiago Arzamendia.
He shot just wide in the 22nd minute and then created a great chance for Lewandowski in the 41st minute before setting up the opening goal shortly afterwards. After picking up the ball down the right flank, he beat three Cadiz players – Arzamendia, Ruben Alcaraz and Fali – before crossing for Lewandowski. The Polish striker’s header was saved, but Roberto converted the rebound. It was the first goal this season in LaLiga where a single player, Torres, has had three consecutive possession goals.
Amidst all the debate that has surrounded Torres about his position, this was a true back-to-basics performance from him. He’s played on the left and in the middle this season, but he was best here on the right, staying wide and running into opponents.
3. Cadiz’ run at the Camp Nou ends
Camp Nou has been a happy place for Cadiz since their LaLiga return in 2020. They drew 1-1 at Barca in their first season and achieved a memorable 1-0 win last season. But on Sunday at Spain’s biggest stadium, they failed to take third place unbeaten.
Gonzalez’s tactics were neither here nor there. They didn’t sit as deep as some teams or fill their defenses with fives. However, they didn’t push Barca up – or at least couldn’t – as they played quite easily from behind.
Still, they created some chances. Roger had ruled out two goals, one for offside and the other for a fali foul on Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Ramos almost scored a brilliant solo goal and Lozano’s header hit the post.
However, there were no goals and no points, leaving Cadiz hovering just two points clear of the relegation zone despite two wins in their last three games before this weekend.
Best and worst performers
Best: Ferran Torres, Barcelona
He was Barca’s brightest attacker in the first half and a real nuisance for Cadiz. The question now is whether he can string together such appearances.
Best: Andreas Christensen, Barcelona
The defender was so good at stepping up to regain ball and launch attacks. He also completed more passes (31) in the first half than anyone else.
Best: Sergi Roberto, Barcelona
Didn’t have many minutes but got into midfield with the captain’s armband and scored one goal and set up the other.
Worst: Fali, Cadiz
Lost his one-on-one fight to Lewandowski, who caught him flat-footed for the goal, and fouled ter Stegen to neutralize Roger’s goal.
Worst: Ruben Alcaraz, Cadiz
He was called over to help Arzamendia deal with Torres but failed to grapple with the Barca striker and eventually received a warning.
Worst: Ansu Fati, Barcelona
While Torres has excelled, Fati will feel like he missed his chance. Had some good moments but air came twice in the last third when he could have found the net.
Highlights and notable moments
After a great dribbling through the traffic, Ferran Torres crossed into the penalty area. Sergi Roberto’s first shot was blocked, but his second was not.
Sergi Roberto opens the scoring for Barcelona after a brilliant dribble from Ferran Torres! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/64QYusqmmK
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 19, 2023
Shortly before the half-time whistle it was Robert Lewandowski’s turn to make it 2-0 for Barcelona.
Robert Lewandowski is back in the top scorers list!
Barcelona doubles their lead against Cadiz 👀 pic.twitter.com/vJsjfG6xXQ
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 19, 2023
After the game: What the coaches said
Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez on the result and performance: “We lowered the intensity in the second half. That’s normal. There were a lot of games, there was a lot of fatigue and we were two goals ahead. Cadiz also had some dangerous chances at the end, but I’m happy with that.” how we played. We didn’t concede a goal and we’re still eight points clear.”
Xavi on Torres’ performance: “I’m happy for Ferran. He took a step forward tonight. It was one of his best games since he came to the club. He sacrificed himself, he ran for the team, he helped the full-back… People value goals and assists, which is normal, but we’re focused on other things. He’s got a spectacular attitude.”
Cadiz coach Sergio Gonzalez on the result: “We knew where we were going. It’s a tough stadium and Barca haven’t lost in a long time. We deserve to stay in the game longer. The only complaint I have is the shutoff between the two goals. We can don’t hold.” reacted badly after a goal.”
Key Statistics (provided by ESPN Stats & Information Research)
Barcelona’s seven goals in 22 LaLiga games this season are the fewest in 22 games played in LaLiga history.
Sergi Roberto has now scored three league goals this season, the best of his career in a single LaLiga season. He has scored seven of his eight goals in La Liga career in the last four seasons.
Robert Lewandowski scored his 24th goal in all competitions with Barcelona this season. The last player besides Lionel Messi to score that many goals for the club in a season was Luis Suárez 2018-19 (also 24).
Lewandowski is nabbing a three-game drought in all competitions with Barcelona, who tied for his worst this season. His last run of four games without a goal at club level came in 2016 at Bayern Munich.
Lewandowski is also the fifth player with more than 30 goals this season in all competitions by players in teams from Europe’s top five leagues.
Barcelona: The Blaugrana meets Manchester United in the second leg of the Europa League on Thursday 23 February at 15:00 CEST. Then Barca return to La Liga action against Almeria on Sunday, February 26 (live stream on ESPN+ at 12:30pm ET).
Cadiz: El Submarino Amarillo continue their LaLiga campaign against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday February 25 (live stream on ESPN+ at 10am ET).
https://www.espn.com/soccer/barcelona-espbarcelona/story/4882371/barcelona-squad-depth-has-made-them-unstoppable-in-laliga Barcelona’s squad depth has made them unstoppable in LaLiga