Jan 26, 2014 at 8pm UK at ​Camp Nou
Barcelona
3-0
Malaga
Pique (40'), Pedro (55'), Sanchez (61')
Pique (30')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Perez (17'), Duda (31'), Ferreira (71')

Match Analysis: Barcelona 3-0 Malaga

Pedro Rodriguez of FC Barcelona celebrates with his team mate Lionel Messi after scoring his team's second goal during the La Liga match against Malaga on January 26, 2014
© Getty Images
Sports Mole dissects the action as Barcelona record a 3-0 win over Malaga in La Liga.

Barcelona returned to top spot in La Liga with a 3-0 win over Malaga at Camp Nou on Sunday.

Gerard Pique scored late in the first period, before second-half goals from Pedro and Alexis Sanchez secured all the points for the Spanish champions.

Here, Sports Mole dissects the 90 minutes of action between the two Spanish rivals.

Match statistics

Barcelona
Shots: 21
On target: 10
Possession: 73%
Corners: 13
Fouls: 10

Malaga
Shots: 3
On target: 2
Possession: 27%
Corners: 1
Fouls: 16

Was the result fair?

There is no question that Barcelona deserved to pick up all three points this evening, but Malaga are perhaps a shade fortunate that it wasn't by a more comprehensive scoreline. There wasn't a single period of the match where the visitors really threatened to harm the home side, who dominated from the first minute to the last. Gerardo Martino's side needed a response following wins for Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid this weekend and that proved to be the case.

Barcelona's performance

In truth, the Catalan outfit should have been out of sight at the interval due to their first-half dominance, but they took just a one-goal lead into half time. It was 2-0 after 55 minutes, however, and it could and probably should have been five or six if the Spanish champions did not drop their intensity when the points were secure. Barca will always score goals due to their talent in the final third, but Martino will have been pleased with another assured defensive performance from his side at Camp Nou.

Malaga's performance

With the way that Malaga lined up this evening, a goalless draw would have been the best that they could have hoped for. They defended well for long periods of the first half, but simply lost belief when Barcelona took the lead after 40 minutes. Roque Santa Cruz's injury in the first period did not help as they lost that physical presence in the final third, while there was little invention from midfield areas. It was a lacklustre display from a side that reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League last season.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Jordi Alba: Both defensively and offensively, Alba was sensational this evening. The Barcelona left-back might have had a couple of goals following mazy runs into the Malaga box, but he was also aware of his defensive duties and made a couple of terrific last-ditch clearances in the second period. It was a brilliant display from the former Valencia defender.

Biggest gaffe

Malaga defended well for long periods of the first period, but they let their concentration slip in the final five minutes of the half. For some reason Pique had time to settle himself and find the back of the net following a corner from Xavi. In what was a crowded box, the Spanish centre-back could not believe the time and space he had been afforded.

Referee performance

Clos Gomez caused some controversy in the first period with a number of strange decisions, including awarding a free kick to Malaga when two of their defenders had clashed inside the box. However, the Spaniard got the bulk of the decisions correct and did not have a negative influence on the contest. Overall, it was a fairly successful night for the referee.

What next?

Barcelona: The Catalan outfit welcome Levante to Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Wednesday holding a 4-1 lead from the first leg last week.

Malaga: Malaga will attempt to return to winning ways in the league when they host Sevilla next Saturday evening.

Pedro Rodriguez of FC Barcelona celebrates with his team mate Lionel Messi after scoring his team's second goal during the La Liga match against Malaga on January 26, 2014
Read Next:
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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Real Madrid11003033
2Barcelona11002023
3Real Sociedad11003213
4Leganes11001013
5Valencia11001013
6Atletico MadridAtletico10102201
7GironaGirona10102201
8Espanyol10101101
9Sevilla10101101
10Athletic Bilbao10100001
11Getafe10100001
12EibarEibar00000000
13Levante00000000
14Malaga00000000
15Villarreal00000000
16Celta Vigo100123-10
17AlavesAlaves100101-10
18Las PalmasLas Palmas100101-10
19Real Betis100102-20
20Deportivo La CorunaDeportivo100103-30
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