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.
Highlights from the amazing comeback
Analysis to come. Ill get to you Pepe…
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.
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
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!
Barcelona’s title hopes are starting to look more and more difficult as they give up a late tie to Espanyol, giving Madrid a 5 point lead in the table. Highlights and more analysis below.
In summary Barca lacked any sort of continuity between their midfield and forwards. Combined with several squandered chances and Alexis, Messi and Fabregas disappearing for largely the entire game, Barca was unable to finish off Espanyol. A hand ball in the closing seconds that denied Barca a goal was not called for a penalty, further contributing to an unfortunate day.
Messi played possibly his most forgettable game of the season. Barca should have been able to generate more chances as the Espanyol team was attacking most of the game and the field was spread wide open. Barca’s defense played well but it was not enough to hold on to the three points
All of the goals were excellent. Cesc continues to be deadly in front of the net and his second goal was one of the best goals of the season. He sent a beautiful chip into the top corner that would make even Zidane jealous.
Puyol actually spent a considerable amount of time in the opponents box and was so entertaining to watch as he blundered around trying to find the net.
Messi was cheered like crazy when he entered the game, and quickly had two chances that he missed- yet they were still more beautiful than any goal most players ever score in their career. He put on a spectacle from the moment he entered the game and even though Cesc played amazing Messi reminded everyone who was the king.
Plus, a goal from a rare Messi header was an amazing way to start the year. Vamos Barca!!!