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Match report

Barça takes 3 points against Getafe

March 21st, 2011

Over the course of the last few years fans from around the world have clamoured to adopt Barça as their own team – FC Barcelona was a guaranteed source of goals, emotions and aesthetics. Yet, during the last few matches it is also true that Barça had to learn a new skill; it had to learn how to suffer.

For instance, a couple of weeks ago during the second leg of the Champions League playoffs against Arsenal, after playing a marvellous match, Mascherano made an amazing intervention in the final minute when Bendtner was just about to score the second goal for the 2-3, which would have meant elimination for Barcelona. This weekend, in the Camp Nou, for the 29th round of the Spanish League, the story was pretty much the same.

FC Barcelona built another excellent performance, full of good passes, ball circulation and beauty.  Dani Alves scored an awesome goal (a superb half-volley) and Bojan, on his 100th Liga appearance, scored the second. But the final score line was 2-1 against a humble Getafe.  The final score doesn’t paint the complete picture of course, but we all know that football results are not logical, and Getafe could have drawn the match in the last minute. Reasons for that?

The first cause is the lack of effectiveness of the forwards, specifically Villa’s bad aim, and the fact that Messi also seems to have broken off his ‘friendship’ with the goal. But, it has to be said; Mr Muñiz Fernández (the referee) played his part in this story, as he did not see two clear penalties in the first half.  The final feeling is the FC Barcelona just has to put the finishing touches to it and close the matches earlier, so as to avoid this undeserved suffering.

FC Barcelona has also established a new record; 27 consecutive games without losing in the League, surpassing the record from the 1973/74 season (26).

As Real Madrid won its derby against Atletico, the gap between the two giants remains at five points.  It’s really a very useful difference to keep optimistic and face the challenging last part of the tournament, which includes a direct duel at the Bernabéu.

And the future is not only showing this duel for the Spanish League.  The Champions League draws conducted at UEFA offices last Friday established a possible semi-final involving these two same opponents who are already facing each other in the Copa del Rey final on April 20th.

1-0, Alves (min 16)
2-0, Bojan (min 49)
2-1, Manu (min 87)

TeamPWDLFAPts
1
Barcelona
29
25
3
1
81
15
78
2
Real Madrid
29
23
4
2
69
21
73
3
Villarreal
29
16
6
7
48
30
54
4
Valencia
29
16
6
7
42
33
54
5
Espanyol
29
14
1
14
37
41
43
6
Athletic Bilbao
29
13
3
13
44
41
42
7
Sevilla
29
12
6
11
43
43
42
8
Atlético Madrid
29
11
6
12
42
39
39
9
Mallorca
29
11
5
13
30
38
38
10
Osasuna
29
9
8
12
34
33
35
11
Real Sociedad
29
11
2
16
39
48
35
12
Levante
29
10
5
14
30
39
35
13
Getafe
29
9
7
13
39
45
34
14
Racing Santander
29
8
9
12
28
43
33
15
Sporting Gijón
29
7
11
11
27
35
32
16
Deportivo
29
7
10
11
23
39
31
17
Zaragoza
29
7
9
13
28
40
30
18
Málaga
29
8
5
16
38
59
29
19
Almería
29
5
11
13
30
48
26
20
Hércules
29
7
5
17
25
47
26

Barcelona in Test at Defiant Sevilla

March 14th, 2011

FC Barcelona were held to a 1-1 draw on Sunday night against a tough-tackling Sevilla team in one of most thrilling encounters of the season. Pep Guardiola’s men took the lead through Bojan before being pegged back by a Jesus Navas header in a hard-fought second half.

Barcelona’s goal came after Iniesta’s fantastic pass over Sevilla’s backline found Alves. The Brazilian pulled the ball down, before squaring for Bojan, an early replacement for the injured Pedrito, to fend off Caceres’ lunge and guide the ball into the net.

But Sevilla fought back after a first half that was all Barcelona. Within minutes of the restart Negredo drew Valdes wide, crossing for Navas to head home.

Barcelona had started the match with real swagger. Iniesta floated in from the left side of the midfield three to bypass the retreating Sevilla defence with a series of looping through-balls.

Messi was dropping as deep as the halfway line to collect the ball and add pace and momentum to the Blaugrana attacks, while Bojan and Villa filled the vacuum created by his absence, making rapier-like thrusts through the massed rojiblanco ranks.

Yet, with Sevilla defending with depth and resolve, the most dangerous runs were from former Sevillistas Adriano on the left, and the vibrant Alves on the right. Alves was incorrectly ruled offside as early as the 16th minute, before breaching the defence expertly for the Barcelona goal.

And Barcelona had a right to feel hard done by after a precise early Messi free kick was crazily ruled out by referee Perez Lasa.

Despite this injustice Barcelona were tightening their stranglehold on the game with every minute. Another smart, looping Iniesta pass found Messi, whose header rebounded agonisingly off the crossbar.

Sevilla’s usual suspects, Navas, Rakitic and the burly Negredo, were little more than exhausted bystanders throughout the first 45.

Still, when the teams came out for the second half, the home side took to the field with renewed energy and intent. Manzano’s players appeared to take heart from being only 1-0 down; Kanoute replaced Zokora, and started to pose questions of the high Barça backline.

Their aggressive attack combined with a fierceness in the tackle that appeared to startle the Barça players; Messi, recovering from a collision with Varas on the stroke of half time, was the chief target, but Pique, Busquets and Bojan all felt the force of this robust approach. It was now a different match and Barcelona needed to knuckle under.

They did manage to recover some of their first half fluency, carving out a handful of chances in a breathless second period. Messi went close, Iniesta crashed a long-range effort off the bar, before being denied on the line by Medel. And at the other end a crucial Valdes block denied Navas and Sevilla an unlikely lead.

There was a strong penalty shout after Bojan was felled by Navas late on, but ultimately Pep’s men had to be contented with a hard-earned point.

0-1 Bojan (min 30)
1-1 Navas (min 48)

TeamPWDLFAPts
1
Barcelona
28
24
3
1
79
14
75
2
Real Madrid
28
22
4
2
67
20
70
3
Valencia
28
16
6
6
42
32
54
4
Villarreal
28
15
6
7
47
30
51
5
Espanyol
28
14
1
13
37
39
43
6
Athletic Bilbao
27
13
2
12
42
38
41
7
Atlético Madrid
28
11
6
11
41
37
39
8
Sevilla
28
11
6
11
42
43
39
9
Real Sociedad
28
11
2
15
38
46
35
10
Mallorca
28
10
5
13
29
38
35
11
Getafe
27
9
6
12
36
41
33
12
Osasuna
28
8
8
12
30
33
32
13
Levante
28
9
5
14
29
39
32
14
Deportivo
28
7
10
10
23
38
31
15
Zaragoza
28
7
9
12
28
39
30
16
Racing Santander
28
7
9
12
26
42
30
17
Sporting Gijón
28
6
11
11
26
35
29
18
Almería
28
5
11
12
30
47
26
19
Hércules
28
7
5
16
25
43
26
20
Málaga
28
7
5
16
36
59
26

Barça outguns Gunners

March 9th, 2011

After losing 2-1 against Arsenal in the first round, FC Barcelona only needed a 1-0 victory to go through to the Champions League quarter-finals on away goals. However, 1-0 was never going to be enough against a team such as Arsenal and the reality was that Barça made things unnecessarily complicated for themselves thanks to a second half own goal by Busquets.

Barcelona came on looking like they intended to win and possession throughout the match was close to 70 percent. The majority of the play was in Arsenal’s half, which perhaps was just as well with Puyol still of through injury and Piquet serving a suspension. However, Arsenal was dealt a poor card in the 18th minute, when goalkeeper Szczesny was substituted through injury.

Arsenal started to look ruffled and things got heated, losing their cool. Meanwhile Barça continued a relentless attack on the Arsenal goalmouth and Barcelona really looking like they’d deliver the goods.  However, Arsenal were still still unnerved by Barça’s dominance continued going in hard. The result was a yellow card for Van Persie for a foul on Alves and he was perhaps lucky not to have been sent off immediately.

2 mins into injury time Messi came close to scoring, and then a minute later out the ball home to end the first half 1-0.

If the score had remained 1-0, Barcelona would have gone through. Unfortunately things are never that simple and while defending the Barça goal Busquets scored an own goal for the visitors, which changed things completely. However, once again the balance tipped in Barcelona’s favour, whenVan Persie was shown a second yellow card for proceeding after the offside whistle blown – a controversial decision, which the player contested with the ref.

Facing a 10 man Arsenal, Barça had a go at the goal again and again. Eventually Xavi scored in the 69th minute, meaning Barça needed just one more goal to secure their place. That came just 2 minutes later when Messi scored from the penalty spot following a foul on Pedro.
Arsenal meanwhile hadn’t quite given up and a few minutes before the final whistle mounted an attack on the Barcelona goal; however, Victor Valdes saved the day. The final score was 3-1 and the irony is that none was actuall scored by Arsenal.

1-0 Messi (min 48)
1-1 Busquets p.p. (min 52)
2-1 Xavi (min 69)
3-1 Messi (p) (min 71)


Barça scrapes another win

March 7th, 2011

After some of the goal-fests earlier in the season it should probably be no surprise that Barça is capable of far less spectacular results too. For the second match in a row, Barcelona won by just 1-0, this time thanks to Keita in the 42nd minute – set up by Leo Messi.

Barça struggled to find their feet for the first 20 minutes but when they did they were certainly effective – unfortunately so was Zaragoza’s goal keeper.

Thirty minutes in it looked like Barcelona had broken the deadlock, but Keita’s goal was incorrectly judged to be offside. Three minutes before the break though, Keita did score the only goal of the match. Victor Valdes was back in action after a lay-off through injury, but really he had little to do; when Zaragoza did break through, Valdes was there to stop the ball.

In the second half Barça dominated possession, and both Pique and Bojan got close to adding another goal to Barça’s tally. However, it wasn’t to be and when the final whistle blew it was just a single goal scored but three more points on the league table. Barça’s next match is against Arsenal on Tuesday. While it is good news that Victor Valdes is back in goal, it will be without Carles Puyol, who can make a huge difference to defence.

After Barça’s 2-1 loss at Emirates, they need just 1-0 to go through to the next round. Fingers crossed that they can do that – or more.

1-0, Keita (min 42)

TeamPWDLFAPts
1
Barcelona
27
24
2
1
78
13
74
2
Real Madrid
27
21
4
2
65
20
67
3
Valencia
27
16
6
5
42
28
54
4
Villarreal
27
15
5
7
46
29
50
5
Athletic Bilbao
27
13
2
12
42
38
41
6
Espanyol
27
13
1
13
35
39
40
7
Atlético Madrid
27
11
5
11
39
35
38
8
Sevilla
27
11
5
11
41
42
38
9
Real Sociedad
26
11
2
13
37
42
35
10
Mallorca
27
10
4
13
28
37
34
11
Getafe
27
9
6
12
36
41
33
12
Levante
27
9
4
14
28
38
31
13
Racing Santander
27
7
9
11
25
39
30
14
Osasuna
27
7
8
12
27
32
29
15
Sporting Gijón
27
6
10
11
25
34
28
16
Deportivo
26
6
10
9
21
35
28
17
Zaragoza
27
6
9
12
24
39
27
18
Hércules
27
7
5
15
25
41
26
19
Almería
27
5
10
12
28
45
25
20
Málaga
27
6
5
16
34
59
23

Narrow victory for Barça against Valencia

March 3rd, 2011

FC Barcelona narrowly scraped a victory at the Mestalla in Valencia last night with a second half goal from Lionel Messi.

Barça looked rather scrappy throughout the match which was partly due to the state of the grass; it was dry thanks to windy conditions and hadn’t been watered. Barça was also missing Puyol in defence, although reserve keeper Pinto was put to good use.

The result puts Barça temporarily 10 points ahead of Real Madrid, who  are playing tonight. it’s a big week for Barça with Zaragoza on Saturday night and then comes crunch time when Arsenal visits the Nou Camp on Tuesday.

0-1 Messi (min 76)

TeamPWDLFAPts
1
Barcelona
26
23
2
1
77
13
71
2
Real Madrid
25
19
4
2
55
19
61
3
Valencia
26
15
6
5
40
27
51
4
Villarreal
26
15
5
6
45
26
50
5
Espanyol
26
13
1
12
35
38
40
6
Athletic Bilbao
26
12
2
12
40
38
38
7
Sevilla
26
11
5
10
41
40
38
8
Atlético Madrid
26
10
5
11
36
34
35
9
Real Sociedad
26
11
2
13
37
42
35
10
Mallorca
26
10
4
12
27
35
34
11
Getafe
26
9
6
11
36
39
33
12
Racing Santander
25
7
8
10
23
35
29
13
Levante
26
8
4
14
27
38
28
14
Deportivo
26
6
10
9
21
35
28
15
Zaragoza
26
6
9
11
24
38
27
16
Osasuna
26
6
8
12
26
32
26
17
Hércules
26
7
5
14
24
39
26
18
Sporting Gijón
26
5
10
11
23
34
25
19
Málaga
25
6
5
14
34
51
23
20
Almería
25
4
9
12
25
43
21

Weakened Barça squad dominates in Mallorca

February 28th, 2011

Even when Barça isn’t playing at its best, the squad can still manage to pull out some spectacular results. On Saturday the team faced Mallorca, with Puyol, Xavi, Valdes and Jeffren injured and Dani Alves off because of suspension. While they found it difficult to get going at the start, once they really got into the game they made it count.

The first half was rather slow for the Catalans, who were struggling to make any serious impact against Mallorca. However, as their game came together both Messi and Adriano came close; and then in the 38th minute Messi headed the ball into the net to open the scoring.

After the break Barça seemed to have been rejuvenated and looking like they meant business. Possession was up and it looked to be only a matter of time before they scored again; that goal came eventually when Villa connected with the ball from Busquets. And minutes later Pedro ensured that all three points would be Barça’s with the third of the night.

Meanwhile Real Madrid dropped two points after a goalless draw against Deportivo, leaving FC Barcelona seven points ahead on 68.  This next week’s going to be a tough one though, with Valencia on Wednesday, Zaragoza on Saturday and Arsenal the following Tuesday – it’s make or break for Barça’s Champions League ambitions.

0-1, Messi (min 38)
0-2, Villa (min 57)
0-3, Pedro (min 66)

TeamPWDLFAPts
1
Barcelona
25
22
2
1
76
13
68
2
Real Madrid
25
19
4
2
55
19
61
3
Valencia
25
15
6
4
40
26
51
4
Villarreal
25
14
5
6
44
26
47
5
Espanyol
25
13
1
11
34
36
40
6
Athletic Bilbao
25
12
2
11
39
36
38
7
Sevilla
25
10
5
10
38
40
35
8
Atlético Madrid
25
10
4
11
35
33
34
9
Real Sociedad
25
11
1
13
36
41
34
10
Getafe
25
9
5
11
35
38
32
11
Mallorca
25
9
4
12
25
34
31
12
Racing Santander
25
7
8
10
23
35
29
13
Levante
25
8
3
14
26
37
27
14
Deportivo
25
6
9
9
21
35
27
15
Hércules
25
7
5
13
24
38
26
16
Osasuna
25
6
7
12
26
32
25
17
Sporting Gijón
25
5
10
10
23
31
25
18
Zaragoza
25
5
9
11
22
37
24
19
Almería
24
4
9
11
24
40
21
20
Málaga
24
5
5
14
31
50
20

Barcelona scrapes win against Athletic

February 21st, 2011

Athletic Bilbao are never a walkover and despite beating them 3-1 back in September in the first leg of the league, Barça also has two draws against Athletic this season in the Copa del Rey giving them, perhaps, something to prove.

David Villa quickly opened up the scoring for Barcelona with a fourth minute goal. However, despite the team going full out to attack the Athletic goal they failed to put it home. Meanwhile, Pinto – on in place of Valdes – proved his worth with a great save in the 36th minute.

After the half time break Athletic came on to attack; within five minutes the Basques fired from the penalty spot for an equaliser. Barça kept up the pressure and came close to scoring. However, it wasn’t until the 77th minute that Messi scored Barça’s second from an Alves cross.

Barcelona kept hold of three points and remain five points clear of Real Madrid.

1-0 Villa (min 4)
1-1 Iraola (min 50)
2-1 Messi (min 77)

TeamPWDLFAPts
1
Barcelona
24
21
2
1
73
13
65
2
Real Madrid
24
19
3
2
55
19
60
3
Valencia
24
14
6
4
38
25
48
4
Villarreal
24
14
4
6
42
24
46
5
Athletic Bilbao
24
12
2
10
38
34
38
6
Espanyol
24
12
1
11
30
35
37
7
Sevilla
24
10
4
10
36
38
34
8
Atlético Madrid
24
10
3
11
33
31
33
9
Getafe
24
9
4
11
35
38
31
10
Real Sociedad
23
10
1
12
34
37
31
11
Mallorca
23
9
4
10
25
30
31
12
Racing Santander
24
7
7
10
21
33
28
13
Deportivo
24
6
8
9
21
35
26
14
Osasuna
24
6
7
11
25
30
25
15
Hércules
24
7
4
13
24
38
25
16
Sporting Gijón
24
5
9
10
23
31
24
17
Levante
24
7
3
14
24
36
24
18
Zaragoza
24
5
8
11
22
37
23
19
Almería
24
4
9
11
24
40
21
20
Málaga
24
5
5
14
31
50
20

Barça defeated by Gunners

February 17th, 2011

Barcelona took a few minutes to settle into the game until a few minutes into the game Messi took his first opportunity of the match. Although the ball went wide, the players seemed to find their stride afterwards, perhaps gaining some confidence. Possession from then on was high and Barça had a few unsuccessful attempts at the Arsenal goal. However, in the 26th minutes a Messi assist to Villa resulted in the first goal of the match.

A few minutes later Messi appeared to have scored again. Unfortunately it was judged to be offside, although replays would suggest it should have been allowed; they would also seem to suggest an Arsenal handball.

After the break neither team seemed to be creating any real danger and the game was drifting. However, Arsenal picked up the pace again and in the 78th minute Van Persie managed to put the ball past Valdes; five minutes later Arshavin scored a second for Arsenal.

Despite some great play in the last couple of minutes, Barça failed to claw back a goal to equalise, leaving the final score 2-1 to Arsenal. However, all is not lost – the Gunners visit the Nou Camp next month and all Barça needs is a 1-0 win to go through.

0-1 Villa (min 26)
1-1 Van Persie (min 78)
2-1 Arshavin (min 83)


End of Barça’s record winning streak

February 14th, 2011

Real Madrid closed the gap over the weekend to 5 points after Barça’s 1-1 draw with Sporting Gijon, putting an end to the Catalan’s incredible winning streak of 16 league wins.

The hosts were quick to make sure that Barcelona were unable to get into their normal stride, which paid off in the 16th minute with a goal from Barral. Meanwhile Barça were unable to get through to really test the Sporting goal.

After the break Barcelona came on with a new sense of purpose. While there were some good opportunities, the Sporting goalkeeper refused to be intimidated and it wasn’t until the 79th minute that Villa equalised off a Messi assist.

While it is a shame to have dropped 2 points, Barcelona still have a good margin over Madrid and provided they hold their nerve and don’t suffer any serious injuries they remain favourites to take the title. Barça’s next match is against Arsenal on Wednesday.

1-0, Barral (min 16)
1-1, Villa (min 79)

TeamPWDLFAPts
1
Barcelona
23
20
2
1
71
12
62
2
Real Madrid
23
18
3
2
53
19
57
3
Valencia
23
14
5
4
38
25
47
4
Villarreal
23
14
3
6
41
23
45
5
Athletic Bilbao
22
12
2
8
37
31
38
6
Espanyol
23
12
1
10
30
31
37
7
Getafe
23
9
4
10
35
37
31
8
Sevilla
23
9
4
10
35
38
31
9
Real Sociedad
23
10
1
12
34
37
31
10
Atlético Madrid
23
9
3
11
32
31
30
11
Mallorca
22
8
4
10
24
30
28
12
Racing Santander
23
6
7
10
20
33
25
13
Hércules
23
7
4
12
24
37
25
14
Deportivo
23
6
7
9
20
34
25
15
Levante
23
7
3
13
24
34
24
16
Sporting Gijón
23
5
8
10
23
31
23
17
Zaragoza
23
5
8
10
22
36
23
18
Osasuna
23
5
7
11
21
30
22
19
Almería
23
4
8
11
23
39
20
20
Málaga
23
5
4
14
30
49
19

Barça breaks Real Madrid’s 50 year record

February 7th, 2011

Leo Messi’s hat-trick against Atletico de Madrid on Saturday created a new record for winning 16 league matches on the trot, beating a 50 year old record set by Real Madrid. It also marked Barça’s 700th goal at the Nou Camp since its inauguration in 1957.

Barça’s domination from the start – 80% possession – paid of in the 16th minute when Messi beat the Atletico defence to put the ball home. And 12 minutes later, after missing from an Alves assist, he put the ball in the back of the net for the second time. When Atletico came of after the break it was with a new sense of determination, although they created little in the way of real opportunities. Meanwhile Barcelona continued working, which paid off in the 78th minute with Messi’s third goal of the match.

The result leaves Barça on 61 points with Real Madrid seven points behind. As well as creating a new record for the number of league wins, the match also returned Messi’s status as the top goal scorer in the league.

1-0, Messi (min 16)
2-0, Messi (min 28)
3-0, Messi (min 78)

TeamPWDLFAPts
1
Barcelona
22
20
1
1
70
11
61
2
Real Madrid
22
17
3
2
52
19
54
3
Villarreal
22
14
3
5
41
22
45
4
Valencia
22
13
5
4
36
24
44
5
Athletic Bilbao
22
12
2
8
37
31
38
6
Espanyol
22
12
1
9
30
30
37
7
Sevilla
22
9
4
9
33
35
31
8
Atlético Madrid
22
9
3
10
31
29
30
9
Getafe
22
9
3
10
33
35
30
10
Real Sociedad
22
9
1
12
33
37
28
11
Mallorca
22
8
4
10
24
30
28
12
Zaragoza
22
5
8
9
21
34
23
13
Sporting Gijón
22
5
7
10
22
30
22
14
Osasuna
22
5
7
10
21
29
22
15
Hércules
22
6
4
12
22
36
22
16
Racing Santander
22
5
7
10
17
31
22
17
Deportivo
22
5
7
9
19
34
22
18
Levante
22
6
3
13
23
34
21
19
Almería
22
4
8
10
23
38
20
20
Málaga
22
5
3
14
28
47
18

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