2021 has to be started in style and if that is not possible then a victory is a must. Barcelona opened their 2021 earning all three points by hanging on for a 1-0 victory at Huesca on a cold Sunday night at the Estadio El Alcoraz.

Barca dominated the game from start to finish, keeping possession deep in Huesca territory and constantly moving the ball from side to side to find spaces. Pedri impressed with the ball and always opened the opportunities.

They might not have the desired shots on target, but the chances did come their way – the pressure was on and it paid off after 27 minutes when Messi played an exquisite chipped pass into the box, where De Jong evaded two defenders and guided the ball into the corner of the net from six yards on the volley.

Messi would have capped a fine first-half performance with a superb goal five minutes from the interval had Alvaro Fernandez not pulled off a spectacular save, palming his dipping 20-yard free-kick over the crossbar.

After the break, Barca had possession and tried to create more chances, but lacked the cutting-edge in the final third – the best chance came in a one-two between Messi and Pedri that ended with the captain’s shot being saved by Alvaro.

Huesca tried going forward looking for an equalizer and stayed alive thanks to Barça’s inability to score, but the hosts couldn’t truly trouble Marc-Andre ter Stegen and the final whistle came to end quite a boring final period and award Barca all three points.

Dembele was a constant threat – created a big chance for Pedri which wasn’t taken.

He tortured the opposition with his speed and dribbling but lacked accuracy with his shooting.

Ronald Koeman made the surprise decision to omit Antoine Griezmann from his starting line-up, waiting until the final ten minutes before putting the Frenchman on.

Koeman had already made two substitutions by the time Griezmann emerged from the bench in the 80th minute. It was a puzzling piece of team selection from the Barcelona boss, who seems to be missing the point in terms of getting the best out of his No.7.

Griezmann needs to play in order to gain confidence. Leaving him on the bench while Martin Braithwaite leads the line is not something that is going to earn the player’s trust from a coach’s point of view.

Barcelona’s last La Liga defeat came on December 5 against Cadiz and they have only lost two of their last 11 in the league.

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Signs of improvement, but still, a long way to go.

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