3 Things We Learned: FC Barcelona vs Deportivo Alavés

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 27: FC Barcelona team line up priorthe Copa Del Rey Final between FC Barcelona and Deportivo Alaves at Vicente Calderon Stadium on May 27, 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 27: FC Barcelona team line up priorthe Copa Del Rey Final between FC Barcelona and Deportivo Alaves at Vicente Calderon Stadium on May 27, 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images) /

Barcelona ensured that they finished the season with a major trophy by beating a physical Alavés side 3-1 in the Copa del Rey final.

André Gomes

The Portuguese midfielder had a stellar performance even though he was playing out of position. Confidence seems to be the main factor in determining how he performs because he looked a much better player after he assisted the second goal. The best example of this was his maize-like 60 yard run straight after the second goal.

In previous performances he often went for the easy option rather than taking a risk and potentially losing the ball. This game was different because he was willing to take on players, and constantly provided an option.

As he took on more responsibility, the rest of the team were willing to trust him more which benefited him personally because it allowed him to show the quality that he has. This responsibility also benefited the team because they were able to move the ball round a lot more efficiently due to the extra movement off the ball as well as having more control over the pitch due to the added option.

It was encouraging to see him being so positive because the quality of his second season performance is going to be pivotal in determining how long he stays at the club. Hopefully, he builds on this in the upcoming season to take a more commanding position in the team. Gomes is only 23 years old, so he does have age on his side.

Andrés Iniesta-Sergio Busquets Partnership

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One of the key factors in Barcelona’s success since the gradual reduction in playing role, and subsequent departure, by Xavi has been the partnership between these two. At their peak, they can dominate any opponent with absolute ease. They enable Barça to have control over a game by dictating the tempo from midfield. This provides a stable base for the creativity of Lionel Messi who unlocks the opposition defence. Under Luis Enrique there has been a focus on getting the ball to the front three in a more direct manner than under previous managers, but these two adapted to this.

When the opposition puts pressure on Barcelona in big games, these two stick close to each other. It’s simple, but very effective. They both excel at keeping possession with short-range passing which allows them to get out of tight situations. Iniesta also has the ability to accelerate past players, from a standing start, with ease. This allows them to draw the opposition high up the pitch before they explode past them through Iniesta’s dribbling or a ball that cuts through the opposition lines.

They did this against Alavés, and it allowed them to have complete control over the centre of the pitch. This meant that the opposition had to rely on cynical fouls to disrupt play. By having this level of control they gave plenty of service to Messi who had an excellent performance as usual.

Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images.
Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images. /

Luis Enrique

This was a fitting end to Luis Enrique’s time as manager. The sixth major trophy in three years as well as the ninth trophy altogether. Regardless of your opinion on him as a manager, his trophy haul speaks for itself. This season has been a rollercoaster of emotions, but the team deserved to finish the season with a major trophy.

He leaves the club with plenty of great memories such as the treble in 2015, the 4-0 win against Real Madrid in 2015, the 6-1 win against PSG this year, and the 3-2 win at the Santiago Bernabéu last month. After a winless year under Gerardo Martino, for the first time in 6 years, Enrique was the solution that Barcelona needed.

Unfortunately, his achievements will always be overshadowed by Pep Guardiola’s time as manager due to him creating the greatest club side ever. However, this shouldn’t take away from the impressive nature of Enrique’s achievements. Aside from Guardiola, he is the only manager to achieve a treble with Barça, and he handled Xavi’s last season expertly.

The main issues during his time as manager were poor transfer dealings, and the lack of players being promoted to the first team from La Masia. In terms of transfers, the blame can’t be entirely be put on him because the board had a key part in this as well. There have been successful additions as well such as Luis Suárez, Marc-André ter Stegen and Samuel Umtiti.

His unwillingness to use players from La Masia was the main issue because he sent players such as Munir and Sergi Samper on loan. Reforming a strong connection with the youth teams is key for Ernesto Valverde.