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Sergi Roberto: Barcelona's surprisingly effective right-back

Barcelona won 1-2 against a strong Atletico side with brilliant goals from Neymar via a beautifully placed free kick and a Messi chip after going down to a Fernando Torres opener in 52nd minute.

Barcelona dominated much of the possession and had around 13 shots to Atleti's 11 but as like before in this campaign Barca had to wait till the end to finish things up. With this win Barca are now top of La Liga with a maximum of 9 points while Atletico remain in 5th place with 6 points. 

All good things aside injuries continue piling up as Vermaelen limped out of the ground in the 27th minute due to suspected calf injury which may keep him out for a month or so. Iniesta was magical the entire night with his amazing vision and magical dribbling. However Suarez cut out a frustrated figure and also struck on the post in the first half.

Here are my musings about the Atletico match:

1) Sergi Roberto- What a revelation he has been this season. Luis Enrique seems to have made the right decision to use the young midfielder in a right back role in the absence of Dani Alves due to injury and Aleix Vidal on the sidelines due to the transfer ban. He coped well at the back, also helped in the attack and provided a few dangerous crosses. Also in the 3rd minute he made a brilliant foray into the box and saw a certain penalty decision for handball turned down.

2) Neymar- Apart from the brilliant free kick and a few flashy dribbles he was quiet generally and misplaced a few passes as well. Connected well with Messi after he came on.

3) Martinez- Atleti's new signing of the season cut a disappointing figure in his second half cameo and Torres's goal hardly helped his cause.

4) Messi- Luis Enrique raised a few eyebrows after deciding to bench a certain FCB player. After coming on however, in 31 minutes of his play he completed 8 dribbles, scored a match winning goal and was the focal point of all attacks. 5th Ballon Do'r is on the horizon at this rate.

5) Fernando Torres- The only player who was not afraid to attack. With 8 shots, taken he had the highest in his team. Gave tough competition to the Barca back line and was rewarded with a beautiful goal.

6) Atletico's defense- Put their body on the line to stop the marauding attacks on their opponents. But fouls and yellows piled up during the match with Gabi lucky to escape red and Gimenez fortunate not to be punished for a couple of handballs.

7) Luis Enrique- Man of the moment. His decisions were accurate and his faith to keep Rafinha in by substituting Rakitic paid dividends after Messi's entry.

8) Barcelona- Three matches, three top quality opposition. Some beautiful link up plays, some sloppy and nervy defending, poor finishing and a host of referee errors against them. With nine points in their kitty this Barca team seem to get their job done. with a number of players on the sidelines they coped well with the Madrid based side and were the ones who looked more dangerous throughout. Slowly and steadily they are getting into their stead. 

These are the games that make or break a season. And Barca seem to be getting just the perfect start -- may it continue!

By Abhishek Das, columnist at Barcablog. Follow him on Twitter here. -- Looking forward to reading your views in the comment section!


  1. Honestly, I did not expect Sergi Roberto to become such an important player so quickly -- to the point that Luis Enrique will find it hard to bench him once Dani Alves reaches full fitness again.

    While we always know that a Barcelona right-back is effectively a winger, Sergi Roberto's impressive fitness and, especially, defensive discipline have been hugely impressive -- to the point that his Barcelona future may have been saved as a result.

  2. Luis Enrique seems to have hit a jackpot. And by the time winter transfer opens and Vidal is ready to play, it will be a three horse race. Alves, Vidal and Roberto will have to fight it out for the single spot and such fierce competition will only push them to perform better each day. Right Back spot for Barcelona is secured for the time being! And who knows Vidal can also play as a winger to provide some much needed rest to MSN up front.

  3. John McIntosh13.9.15

    If Roberto can establish himself at RB then Barcelona can use Vidal in midfield effectively.

    1. Exactly! The best thing about Aleix Vidal is that he can play virtually anywhere. Roll on January!

  4. Saifoulaye Camara13.9.15

    Really I was very very suprised to Sergi. When Alves get the injury I said it's finish for my team. But big up the Masia

    1. La Masia is an endless pot of talent -- Graduates just need to be trusted!

    2. I think we need to trust La Masia more and promote Grimaldo and Samper for regular football. They have the capability and technique to be among the finest.

    3. I don't think we should do that. We have skipped several generations with the unsuccessful on boarding of Bojan, Tello and Cuenca. For the first time now, we see the start of something that is potentially fruitful with Rafinha and Sergi. There are several reason not to rush with more players from La Masia:

      - We need to establish Rafinha and Sergi as back ups so that they can build up their tactical, mental and physical strength

      - There is limited opportunity for them to play now, let alone if we have 2 more youngsters in the rotation. It is better to divide the limited minutes between two players so that they can grow up faster, than to do that with 4 graduates

      - I don't think Grimaldo and Samper and yet on the level mentally and tactically to be promoted to the first team. We had a huge disappointment with Deulofeu and Montoya not being able to adapt to the demands of the first team.

      All and all, no need to rush their development. As for Sergi Roberto, I don't believe they have the plan to keep him in rotation for the RB, I think he is just the best option for now, but as soon as Alves is Back he will be back in midfield rotation.


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