Once again Barcelona had to find another way of winning, this time against Osasuna in Pamplona.
El Sadar can often be a difficult place to go, with a boisterous crowd that are close to the pitch clearly having an impact – and not just on the way in which their team play.
Officials must remain impartial at all times of course, but as was shown last season with the Robert Lewandowski sending off, the intimidation from the stands can sway things.
The Polish superstar was on the end of another couple of dubious decisions in the first half in particular this time around, and as the hosts rolled around on the turf as if seriously hurt you felt that it was only a matter of time before the officials succumbed to the pressure again.
When Gavi was clattered and given a bloody ear, it was a challenge bordering on assault, however unintentional, and yet the cat calls and whistles appeared to invite the referee to reverse any decision he may have given in favour of the visitors.
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Regardless, it was the physicality of the blaugranes which won them the game and which so irritated the home support.
Oriol Romeu was imperious in that regard in the holding role, not only using the ball intelligently in play but also standing firm in the heat of battle.
His ability to break up play and diligently use the ball this season, and in particular on Sunday night, has given Frenkie de Jong a new lease of life in the centre too.
Even with Gavi biting at the ankles of the opposition, however, Barca might still have lost this match.
Although the Catalans tried their best to employ their natural game at times, this wasn’t a match for sharp passing carousels.
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Getting the job done, however that were to come about, was of prior importance.
Strong arm tactics were the order of the day and, thankfully, Barca were up to the task – and that’s something we’ve not been able to say too much about of late.
It isn’t the ‘Barca way’ no, but sometimes you have to meet fire with fire. If it wins the three points then it should really be seen in a positive light.
For the most part against Osasuna there was barely a tackle missed, and Xavi surely has to be happen about that. I’d suggest it was one of the areas that needed most improvement from last season.
The coach will also be delighted with Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s performance again.
The German wasn’t often called upon in Sunday night’s fixture, but he was fully concentrated and up to the challenge.
Barca’s ability to win games often exclusively rests on his shoulders, and once again he proved how invaluable he is in front of the sticks.
This wasn’t a pretty win but a vital one all the same.