Thomas Vermaelen the unlikely hero for Barcelona vs Malaga

Luis Enrique fielded his strongest possible XI against Malaga that has been traditionally tough to crack at the Camp Nou, due to their unashamed defensive focus. That approach is helped by having one of the most decisive players in La Liga: goalkeeper Carlos Kameni. As expected, the hosts struggled to break through for the majority of the game, especially given the referees' inability to see not one but two clear fouls inside Los Boquerones' penalty area.

With the visitors clearly spurred on by their defensive success and Kameni living up to his reputation as one of the great goal-stoppers in Spanish football, with 12 saves, it took a surprising goal by Vermaelen to break the deadlock in just his fourth appearance for the Catalans. The unlikely hero succeeded where Lionel Messi and many stars around him had so frustratingly failed and showed how unpredictable the game of football can be.

Although still far from the mesmerizing football Barcelona fans have been spoiled with in recent years, Luis Enrique would certainly be more than happy with the narrow 1-0 victory against one of the most traditionally difficult visitors at the Camp Nou.

READ the whole player ratings column "Thomas Vermaelen leads Barcelona with surprising winner vs. Malaga" by Francesc Tomas for ESPN here.