Messi's magic, Dembele's dynamism in Barcelona's 4-0 victory over PSV


The story of the game will be and should be about Lionel Messi, but the revitalized Barcelona offense does appear new and improved with Ousmane Dembele looking like a new player and Philippe Coutinho eligible to play in the Champions League.

Messi's hat trick was number eight in the competition for him and moves the Argentinian one ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo for the most in Champions League history. The fact that all three goals were scored in different ways is a testament to the marvelous display put on for the more than 76,000 people reported to be at the Camp Nou on Tuesday night.

The first goal beat the PSV wall with what may be called just as much a pass as it was a shot. As noted on Twitter, if you think that he's getting better at free kicks as he ages, you're right.






Messi's magic was possible due to the work rate of Luis Suarez. His Uruguayan partner may not have been successful in one on one situations in the contest, but his constant pressure and ability to make the proper runs to free up space for Messi should not go unnoticed.

The same can be said of Philippe Coutinho, who is already showing why not having him eligible for the Champions League last season hurt Barcelona more than most remember. It surely doesn't absolve the other ten starters for Barcelona who played in that fateful game against Roma, Ousmane Dembele came off the bench, but clearly there is a hunger in the side that was missing then.

Dembele's season so far has been summed up with the positive of scoring phenomenal goals starkly contrasting with his repeated loss of the ball. The chemistry between the French winger and his attacking teammates is improving, but his teammates did very little on his goal. His turn, dribble and rocket of a shot were all indicative of a player starting to play with confidence.

The dynamism of Barcelona's offense increases when more players are a threat. This may seem like an obvious statement, but the intent of Coutinho to take long shots, a confident Dembele and a vitalized Luis Suarez creates the most amount of space for Messi. It took a little over one half of football against PSV for all these pieces of the puzzle to fit together, but the match went from a tight affair to a blowout in a matter of minutes.

The sole Barcelona blemish on the game was the amount of complaining coming from the Blaugrana, leading to Samuel Umtiti's first yellow card. Whether or not it was merited, the Barcelona players were magnetized around the official for much of the second half. Umtiti's sending off for this second yellow means that Clement Lenglet will be quickly thrust into the spotlight during Umtiti's suspension. The big games he played for Sevilla would indicate that he has handled the pressure before, but not playing for the last month and lacking a game-tested rapport with Gerard Pique could work against him.

Tottenham's 2-1 loss to Inter Milan make their home clash with Barcelona in two weeks a little more interesting. While Dele Alli and Hugo Lloris should be returning for the Hotspurs, Lenglet will find himself with the unenviable task of contending with Harry Kane. Yet, if Messi plays like he did against PSV, it will be Tottenham with the impossible task.