Spanish Football Expert & Columnist @GuillemBalague
Guillem Balague on Barcelona penalty, Cristiano Ronaldo, Riyad Mahrez and Paul Pogba
Last Updated: 15/02/16 5:09pm
In his weekly column, Sky Sports' Spanish football expert Guillem Balague reflects on the major talking point from the weekend's La Liga action - Barcelona’s audacious 'Cruyff' penalty against Celta Vigo - and answers your questions on Cristiano Ronaldo, Gary Neville and Paul Pogba...
Hands down, Barcelona's victory over Celta Vigo was the La Liga game to watch this weekend.
In the first half, Celta went on a man-marking mission all over the pitch and, with some clever movement, they were able to create one versus one across the pitch. That was very brave and was implemented very well in the first half, but it was impossible to maintain for 90 minutes.
A lot of people, including myself, acknowledged the bravery of the Celta coaches but in the end the result was what it was - a heavy 6-1 defeat. In the second half, Barca were more aggressive without the ball, they moved the ball quicker and there were forward runners that made a big difference.
As is the case with all of Europe's top teams at the moment, Barcelona smell the Champions League approaching and are continuing to improve their performances. Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo, for instance, were domineering against Athletic Bilbao.
Barca stepped up a gear when it was needed against Celta. Ivan Rakitic, and even Aleix Vidal, provided fresh legs from the bench and that told against a tiring visiting side. It was wonderful to see the synergy of Barca's front three once again, particularly for the penalty.
For most fans stats mean a lot. The same can be said for the spearhead of the Barca attack, Lionel Messi, who knows he can score his 300th La Liga goal at any time. Apparently Barca had been mulling over whether to carry out the penalty routine for weeks, with Neymar the original recipient from Messi's pass. However, it was Luis Suarez who appeared instead, knowing that it could happen, and he finished it off.
Straight away the debate in Spain started: was it disrespectful or not? Football, especially in England, is made up of controversies and personalities, whereas in Spain it's tactics and personalities, with controversies only recently growing into the game.
Those characteristics didn't bring any of us into football, instead it was moments of magic and Barca's penalty will have evoked memories of John Cruyff's penalty from 1982 - a moment which is historic in football and is not viewed as disrespectful in any way.
You can defend Barcelona by saying that they have missed a few penalties this season so this was an opportunity to make sure the goal went in. Of course, you need the ability and the confidence to do it and, as we've seen in the past, Robert Pires and Thierry Henry weren't able to pull it off. Luis Enrique remarked that if he had tried something similar he would have collapsed!
It's worth noting that in order for a team to pull this off there needs to be a positive mind-set, and you could see from the Barca players laughing afterwards that they clearly enjoyed the goal. Would they have done it if it was 1-1, or if they were trailing? Maybe not. If that is the case then why did they feel the need to do it at all? My response to that would be: why not!
It wasn't just anybody who carried the move out, it was Messi, a player who doesn't go an inch further than he needs to. Everything he does is because it is needed. He also seemed to really enjoy himself in the process. It's moments like these which make us fall in love with football, things we will all remember and moments that will be referred to in the future.
Most of the discontent comes from Madrid. It is a media strategy to please the Madrid fans who want to hear that, it has nothing to do with people thinking about football and is more to do with the business side of things - ie selling newspapers.
To those who claim that this was out of order, and wouldn't like to see this in football, then I implore you to go and find another game because I wish there were more moments like this!
There are times where players do disrespectful things - tactical gestures or skills - when the game is over but that goal doesn't fall into that bracket for me. What would the opinion be if Ronaldo and Karim Benzema or Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney tried something similar? Everyone is talking about this goal so, for me, that must be for a good reason.
Guillem answers your questions
Ronaldo was brilliant for Real yesterday. Was his performance - and goal celebration - him making a point? @unitedfan82
Yes, Ronaldo was brilliant. That is what we want from him all the time so when I criticise him it is because I want that all of the time. If we don't get performances of that ilk from Ronaldo I find it difficult to class him among the best players in the world. If he just does every now and again, or against smaller sides, that is not good enough. Yes, he is a great goalscorer but he has got to show it in the big games to show he is one of the greatest players. Let's see if he can continue at that pace because it was brilliant to see.
Are Barca seriously interested in Riyad Mahrez to improve their attack? They seem to have a perfect squad - is there anywhere you think they could strengthen? @Shantanu3196
Barcelona are not thinking about Mahrez.
Are Barca definitely out of the running for Paul Pogba? I'd love to see him at City! @bluemoonboy
Interestingly, Pogba seems to be vying for a move to Barcelona but they don't have the money that Manchester City, United or Real Madrid are prepared to put on the table. For that reason it's difficult to say anything definitive, except for the fact those four clubs are interested.
What's the possibility of Manuel Pellegrini being Valencia's manager next season? @ExciteableExpert
Pellegrini is leaving his options open and so are Valencia so no decision has been made as to Pellegrini's future or Valencia's next manager.
Can you see Gary Neville working with Mourinho at Old Trafford? @SidKGenuis
Has Jose Mourinho signed for Manchester United? I must have missed that! As for Neville, he has stated publicly that he doesn't want to be an assistant or a coach for long so I don't expect him to be at Valencia beyond the summer. It has been a learning curve for him at Valencia and, when or if he does leave, he has a big decision to make as to what to do. In any case, he has had a great experience there.