Thundering Barca dominate in Thailand

Posted by Francesc Tomas

Barcelona achieved an emphatic 7-1 win against Thailand in their fifth preseason friendly Wednesday in Bangkok. Neymar, Lionel Messi (brace), Pedro Rodriguez (hat trick) and Alexis Sanchez scored for the Blaugrana, who enjoyed 68 percent possession, created 18 scoring chances and attempted 13 shots, eight on target.

Key 1 – While it is clear that the Thai opposition was overwhelmed by Barcelona's quality, the thundering way in which the visitors commanded the game from beginning to end can't be overlooked. The Cules scored seven goals, but I can't help but think that the scoreline could have been much more scandalous if there been any need for it.

-Martino firm on Fabregas, coy on Luiz
-Photo gallery: Barca in Bangkok

Again, I felt Gerardo Martino's players jumped on the pitch eager to impress their new manager, knowing a series of confident preseason performances will mean further chances once official competition starts. I was particularly pleased to see the team defending relentlessly whenever possession was lost despite the overall lack of a real challenge.

That improved attitude was clearly visible upfront, with key men such as Pedro or Alexis not only finding the net with ease, but also assisting others unselfishly on a regular basis. If the wingers continue their impressive form, it will be very difficult for Martino to choose between them (and the lightning-fast Cristian Tello, once he is back to full fitness) for the third forward spot next to Messi and Neymar.

Key 2 – Despite losing seven kilos after the Confederations Cup and receiving treatment for anemia during the Barcelona's tour, Neymar refused to take extra rest and was determined to help the team on the pitch.

The result? The talented Brazilian only needed 11 minutes to find the net for the first time since joining the Catalan giants. Not only that, but the way Neymar linked with his new teammates was much more fluid and collaborative than in their last match, giving the Barcelona attack that all-important extra edge which can ultimately unbalance games in their favour.

Key 3 – With the media's attention focused on whether Barcelona will attract the centre back that supporters, coaches and even players have been demanding for years, it was great to see upcoming La Masia youngster Frank Bagnack getting valuable playing time alongside Gerard Pique.

Don't get me wrong, I still believe the need to add an experienced defensive specialist is crucial, but in the meantime, I believe it is positive for Martino to see what other options are at his disposal within the club and youth system.

I sincerely wish Tito Vilanova a full recovery, but with all due respect, the Catalan manager was not the best at allowing new blood from Barca B to mix with the first team. Sure, Bagnack did give away a doubtful penalty, but the 18-year-old youngster looked comfortable in possession, pressed aggressively and tackled well when needed. In football, as in life, those who don't take risks rarely succeed.

Man of the Match – I know that this may seem obvious, but as fans around the world have come to expect, Lionel Messi was the best Barcelona player on the pitch: He had two goals, two assists and showcased his ability to keep his teammates functioning around him for the overall benefit of the team.

Also, the arrival of Neymar and increased involvement of Pedro and Alexis has seemed to allow La Pulga a lot more freedom to run and dribble into spaces.

Blaugrana to Watch – Pedro scored a tremendous hat trick, proving that, when confident, he can be a priceless asset to the attack. After a difficult year when his undeniable talent was overshadowed by his overreliance on Messi, it is refreshing to see El Canario shining individually again.

Player Ratings (0-10; 10=best)

Goal: Victor Valdes (6)

Defence: Dani Alves (6), Gerard Pique (6), Frank Bagnack (7), Adriano Correia (7)

Midfield: Alex Song (8), Cesc Fabregas (7), Sergi Roberto (7)

Forwards: Lionel Messi (9), Pedro (9), Neymar (8)

Substitutes: Jose Manuel Pinto (6), Martin Montoya (6), Xavi Hernandez (6), Alexis Sanchez (8), Andres Iniesta (7), Javier Mascherano (7), Marc Bartra (6), Sergio Busquets (6), Jordi Alba (6)

The Quote – "I like what I am seeing so far, such as high pressure on the ball and the short time it takes to recover it. We have the obligation of winning the Champions League, La Liga and La Copa, but I have the best players in the world with me." Martino

Have your say

What did you think of the Blaugrana performance against Thailand?

Who was your Man of the Match? Do you agree with the Player Ratings?

I welcome and appreciate all respectful feedback.

For more news and opinion notes on Barcelona, follow Francesc Tomas at @TomasESPN and Barcablog Facebook; 34,000 Cules have already joined.

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