Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez score, but Barcelona labour to win at Getafe
Barcelona kicked off the New Year with a 2-1 win at Getafe but were second-best for large parts. Lionel Messi opened the scoring against the run of play, and Luis Suarez doubled Barca's lead with a thumping volley from the edge of the box. Jaime Mata pulled one back before the break, then missed an open goal in the second half as the home side failed to take advantage of their pressure.
The positives for Barca came elsewhere this weekend. Second-placed Atletico Madrid and third-placed Sevilla played out a 1-1 draw at the Sanchez Pizjuan, allowing the Catalans to open up a five-point lead at the top of La Liga. Elsewhere, Real Madrid lost at home to Real Sociedad. They're now 10 points off top spot.
That said, these three points shouldn't be undervalued. Getafe are having a good season, and, as Suarez trotted out that old cliche at full-time, it's these games where you win titles.
This was perhaps Barca's sloppiest performance of the season. There were so many basic mistakes. From stray Sergio Busquets passes to Gerard Pique giving away cheap corners, and from poor Marc-Andre ter Stegen clearances to ropey Suarez touches. Things didn't click. Somehow, though, they held on for three points.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Ernesto Valverde was slow to react in the second half, allowing Getafe to stay on top for far too long. Could have looked to make changes earlier to allow Barca to wrestle back control of the game.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 6 -- Despite Getafe creating some good chances, their finishing was often so woeful that he didn't have loads to do. Made one good save from Leandro Cabrera but was lucky not to be punished after giving the ball away cheaply in the second half.
DF Sergi Roberto, 6 -- Came straight back into the side after recovering from a hamstring injury but was not an improvement on Nelson Semedo, who should feel aggrieved to have been dropped.
DF Gerard Pique, 6 -- Almost scored in the first half, getting denied by goalkeeper David Soria from close range. A mixed night in terms of defending, making some bad errors, albeit nothing too serious.
DF Clement Lenglet, 7 -- The pick of Barca's back four. Comfortable on the ball and alert to his defensive duties, although was caught between two men for Getafe's goal.
DF Jordi Alba, 6 -- A frustrating night for the left-back who struggled to have the sort of impact in the final third he often does.
MF Ivan Rakitic, 7 -- Sat in as the deepest midfielder with Busquets on the bench. Read the game well and, save a couple of rash moments, was possibly Barcelona's best player. His best performances often come in a more defensive role at the moment.
MF Arthur Melo, 7 -- The Brazilian's clipped ball led to Messi's opening goal and he was daring against Getafe's high press.
MF Arturo Vidal, 6 -- Not his best performance in a game which didn't really suit him. Eventually taken off for Busquets.
FW Lionel Messi, 6 -- Opened the scoring against the run of play, doing well to take advantage of Arthur's deflected pass in the box. However, not at his best in general. Should have scored a second in the second half, but was denied by Soria one-on-one. Now has 16 league goals this season.
FW Luis Suarez, 6 -- Scored a stunning volley and worked hard, as usual, but, like Messi, not his finest evening.
FW Ousmane Dembele, 6 -- Still gave the ball away loosely more than Valverde would have liked. but his decision-making continues to improve. Messi should have scored when Dembele sent him through late on.
MF Sergio Busquets, 5 -- Looked like a man who's had a bug this week, which he has, after replacing Vidal.
MF Philippe Coutinho, NR -- Took Dembele's place for the last 10 minutes. Has now started the past four league games on the bench, which isn't great considering he became the club's record signing this time last year.
MF Carles Alena, NR -- Came on for the final few minutes in place of Arthur.