Messi hat trick vs. Malaga as Barca wins (4-1)

“Messi is the footballing northern star, the one that is constantly burning the brightest”

A hat trick puts Messi on top of the La Liga score sheet, and continues to solidify his position as the world’s greatest. He did everything this game, providing mesmerizing passes, world class finishes, a free kick that rattled off the upper corner, and displaying the all around resiliency that defines him.

In the wake of another ugly clasico and more controversy last week, Messi again proves that he is the incorruptible football genius that is so deserving of the praise he receives.

It is hard to even pick out which of his genius goals was best, as all three were made of the skill and deftness that are afforded to only the top pantheon of football players. Even the free kick, which didn’t score, was as close and as impressive as a miss could be, curling way out beyond the wall only to slice back inward and rattle off the post.

Personally I’d have to go with his third goal, as he hurdles several tackles and shows his unique burst of speed and calm, off balanced finishes that have seen him strike the net so many times. It has been a while since he has had one of his trademark slice and dice runs through a defense, and two of them made today a memorable game.

Barcelona vs Malaga (Game Analysis)

After a somewhat quiet clasico, most likely for fear of his life at the scythes of Pepe and Ramos, Messi came out and completely dominated this game.

With Xavi on the bench Messi took over as play maker and goalscorer in the first half, leaving no doubt that he is the engine of this team and undoubtedly the best player in the world. His header was aimed precisely at his critics, with a perfect airborne finish into the side net. His passes were creative, precise, and mind bogglingly quick, appearing sometimes to have premonitions as he created plays that no one else on the field even saw developing. Sometimes he was so quick that his teammates were caught off guard and squandered what could have been incredible goals. Which brings me to my next point…

The Messi-Abidal Connection. After the wondergoal at Real Madrid, Messi and Abidal seem to be firing on all cylinders, with Messi supplying no less than 5 balls into the box to Abidal in just the first half (one which released him completely free on goal). While this is a great addition to the attack, my question is why does it seem that, other than Messi, Barcelona is relying on their defenders now to generate goals. In watching Abidal try to deal with these clear cut chances, its apparent that he does not have the deftness of a true attacker and even when released on goal it is still a low percentage chance that he will score. Releasing him 1v1 with the goalie like setting up your center in basketball with a wide open 3. The crowd jumps to their feet, but odds are it’s not going in. Why has Barcelona NOT been able to consistently set up their forwards with goalscoring chances? Sanchez has played great but is being used as a holding player for most of the game and a relentless pest to the central defenders. Adriano is in a makeshift forward role but is more comfortable from the outside, and is also very unlikely to finish on a piercing run into the box. Bottom line, I miss Villa and Pedro.

Yet Barcelona has managed this season with a ‘goals by committee’ approach, but to win championships you tend to need some great individual efforts in front of goal as well. Let’s hope Messi’s form does not waver as this season draws towards its climax.

BARCA WINS!!! (2-1)

Barcelona beat Real Madrid at the Bernabeu again! Another stunning come from behind with the help of the two most unlikely heroes- Abidal and Puyol!

Both defenders found the net in the second half as Barca rose victorious once again in the face of Mourinho and Pepe, who both seem hell bent on destroying Barca’s magisterial style of play.

Analysis and highlights to come soon! Check back.

FC Barcelona – Real Betis (4-2)

Barcelona came back in the second half to put away Betis in an attempt to keep pace with Real Madrid in the race for La Liga.

Man of the Match : Split between Alexis Sanchez and Victor Valdes

Victor made two huge saves, one on a breakaway, in the first half that would have completely changed the game if they scored. Betis with a lead would have packed it back and tried to hold onto the points, and the game could have ended in disaster

Alexis Sanchez made the difference in the win, with a delicate pass into the box to set up the first goal, a pinpoint cross the assist Messi on the second, and a scorcher of his own in the second half. That goal was the kind you love to see from forwards, and much like his strike in the Real Madrid game, he was able to run onto a ball and finish decisively. That individual striking power is what Barca will need if they want to have any chance of catching Real Madrid

 

The very, very ugly : Barcelona’s defense looked disastrous at times. Betis’ forwards were able to run at them into space and create several chances and two goals. It could have easily been five however, and its very disturbing to think how Benzema and Higuian from Real Madrid will do in Wednesdays match if they are given that much space and time. Macherano was in central defense and though he did have some good individual plays, the back 3 as a whole were disorganized, and played just a downright terrible game. Pep has a few days to fix that or the game on Wednesday will be an embarrassment.

 

Highlights of the game here

Barcelona vs Betis 4-0

 

Barcelona v Osasuna (2-1) Analysis and Highlights

As expected, Barcelona won against Osasuna to secure a spot in the next round, where they face Real Madrid. I was only able to watch the first half, in which Barca struggled to find a rhythm with all of their B team players. While this might be expected, I was surprised at Cuenca’s lack of an impact especially since he has had so much first team exposure. Pedro and Alexis were also completely dissociated up top, which is something Barca needs to work on. They have barely seen any time together on the pitch this season thru various injuries but will need to get that sorted out very soon as they will both be counted on for many important goals as the seasons closes.

Fontas’ injury was very disappointing as he seemed be progressing closer and closer to gaining a spot in the defensive rotation. I guess well have to wait till next year to see if he can be the reliable substitute for Pique and Puyol.

Highlights of the game below


Enjoy, and Visca Barca!