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5 reasons why Barcelona thrashed Celtic after shocking Alaves defeat

The last time Barcelona took on Celtic at the Camp Nou, seven goals were scored: One by Celtic, the rest by the Blaugrana. This time around, too, seven goals were scored. It was just that Barcelona scored all of them. Barcelona bounced back after their shocking defeat to Alavés in the only way they know: Destroying opponents.

The Barcelona-Alavés match had a lot of parallels to the Barcelona-Hercules match, played in Pep Guardiola's third season as manager at the Camp Nou. Both were five years apart, to the day, and in both Kiko Femenia played for the opposite team. Both were shock defeats, and the reply to both was a drubbing in the next CL match: Winning 5-0 against Panathinaikos during the Guardiola era, and 7-0 against Celtic this time around.

So, what changed? Here are 5 reasons why Barcelona thrashed Celtic after shocking Alaves defeat.

1. Opponents' tactics

Before looking at what the Barcelona themselves did differently, we need to look at what the two oppositions did differently. Although the Blaugrana tend to dominate all their games regardless of their rivals, it is clear they are more comfortable when spaces become available.

Brendan Rodgers tried to copy Alavés' 5-4-1 but positioned his Celtic team very high up the field. The result? As our friends at expected, the Scottish champions were simply no match for the Catalan giants.

Celtic’s 5-4-1 formation

Alaves’ 5-4-1 formation -- Similar but positioned further back

2. Far better build-up

Coming back to Barcelona, as Andres Iniesta emphasised after their match against Celtic, the build-up from the back was much better and that helped the team altogether. Javier Mascherano and Jeremy Mathieu play well alongside Pique, but when the Catalan is absent, they can’t take charge of defence and thus was the horrific show vs Alaves. Their inability to play the ball well from the back-line was also apparent.

Against Celtic, Pique and the impressive Samuel Umtiti took charge, won high balls and distributed the ball with panache -- causing the whole team's dynamism to immediately improve as a result.

3. New signings disappointed

Against Alaves, the newly signed Jasper Cillessen played with an unfamiliar pair of Masche and Mathieu, both of them having horrific days. Vidal, who still hasn’t impressed while wearing the Blaugrana, was terrible. Lucas Digne didn’t deliver as good a performance as he had been doing until that point. Without that buildup and proper transition from the back, the midfield struggled severely, and from then on, the attack. Sure, Paco Alcacer made a couple of brilliant runs, but hardly had any decent supply.

4. World-class players delivered

The inclusion of Iniesta and Lionel Messi being in the starting XI boosted the front, and Neymar improving his game to Reymar levels made things look beautiful up top. Partnering with the unstoppable Luis Suarez upfront instantly boosted Barca's chances of success.

5. Sergi Roberto impressed once again

Last but not least: Let’s not forget how important Sergi Roberto is to this team, as his absence was clearly visible vs Alaves as a struggling Aleix Vidal only made heads shake. Kudos to a young player who has established himself as a regular after years of patiently improving away from the spotlight.

Most in all, the team against Alaves looked like a makeshift one, with players who have hardly shared a pitch together having to start. It was a team playing badly, the system breaking down and most importantly, very poor team selection by Luis Enrique.

Against Celtic however, all of that was rectified. The imposing MSN trident started, as did most important first team members. Jordi Alba was brilliant on the left side, and along with Iniesta and Neymar, made the left wing completely Blaugrana.

Having said that, the key difference was the chemistry the team showed against Celtic. When the transitions are perfect and the build up is to scratch, very few teams can stop Barcelona, if any. 

Over the years, it has been quite common for Barcelona to amass a huge scoreline after a shock league defeat. Fortunately for Cules, the team's excellent performance against Celtic put doubters to rest once again.

May the excellence continue!

By Kaustav Phukan, columnist at Barcablog. Follow him on Twitter @Kdp_11


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