Barcelona See off Spirited Almería

April 11, 2011

FC Barcelona edged a little closer to the title on Saturday night with a display of steely determination to overcome a stubborn Almería team. After a disjointed first-half, Barça swept the Andalucian visitors aside, but not before going a goal down.

Once again Lionel Messi will deservedly take the plaudits after raising his tally to a staggering 47 goals for the season. Much like his team tonight, the Argentine genius’ performance was a little below his best. But it was his sheer will to win that was most remarkable; as late as second-half injury time he chased an apparent lost cause to force a mistake from Marcelo Silva and seal the game for his team with a delicate close-range chip.

It was an unfamiliar Barça side to take to the pitch tonight. The recent defensive injury crisis was exacerbated by one-match suspensions to Víctor Valdés and Busquets, while Bojan began in place of Villa, and Pedro continued his slow reintroduction to the side by starting on the bench. Young La Masia graduate, Thiago was rewarded for his mature performance away to Villareal with another midfield start.

Perhaps understandably, Barcelona were unable to assert their usual tempo on the match in the first half. Bojan produced a rare moment of excitement as he crafted an opportunity for Thiago after a great run. But his game was ended by an awkward collision with Marcelo Silva, and Villa entered the fray in his stead.

Almería’s performance belied their status as the league’s bottom club, working hard to deny Barcelona time and space in the final third. In truth the Blaugrana side was starting to look more than a little frustrated when the half time whistle blew.

A much-improved second half was needed, and at the offset it was clear that Barça were upping the ante. Villa drilled the ball onto the post after just three minutes. Still, this team has been a little vulnerable on counter attacks lately, and so it proved when Almería broke from a corner and Miguel Ángel Corona was set free to tuck the ball below Pinto.

Gabriel Milito was perhaps culpable for the goal by dropping a little too deep, but the central defender atoned for his error moments later with a wonderful raking pass to release Villa, who was felled by Diego Alves to win a vital penalty. Messi stepped up and made no mistake, smashing the ball into the bottom right corner.

Pedro soon took to the field, allowing Iniesta to drop back to his midfield role and start conducting affairs with his usual panache. A second goal was starting to look inevitable, and it came from Barcelona’s youngest player; Thiago met a Messi corner with a perfect glancing header to give Alves no chance.

From then on, the visitors posed no real threat, and Messi struck at the death to add a little gloss to another crucial win.

0-1 Corona (min 49)
1-1 Messi (min 52)
2-1 Thiago (min 63)
3-1 Messi (min 90)

Team P W D L F A Pts
1
Barcelona
31
27
3
1
85
16
84
2
Real Madrid
31
24
4
3
72
22
76
3
Valencia
31
18
6
7
51
35
60
4
Villarreal
31
16
6
9
48
36
54
5
Sevilla
31
13
7
11
48
46
46
6
Atlético Madrid
31
13
6
12
48
41
45
7
Athletic Bilbao
31
14
3
14
47
45
45
8
Espanyol
31
14
2
15
38
43
44
9
Levante
31
11
6
14
33
41
39
10
Mallorca
31
11
6
14
33
42
39
11
Sporting Gijón
31
9
11
11
29
35
38
12
Racing Santander
31
9
10
12
31
45
37
13
Osasuna
31
9
8
14
36
37
35
14
Real Sociedad
31
11
2
18
40
54
35
15
Deportivo
31
8
11
11
25
40
35
16
Getafe
30
9
7
14
41
49
34
17
Zaragoza
30
7
9
14
29
43
30
18
Hércules
31
8
6
17
28
48
30
19
Málaga
31
8
6
17
39
62
30
20
Almería
31
5
11
15
32
54
26

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