Monday, February 27, 2012

Messi Saves the Day Again

From Reuters:

"Lionel Messi’s quick thinking and brilliant execution fired Barcelona to a 2-1 La Liga win at Atletico Madrid on Sunday that kept the gap on leaders Real Madrid to 10 points.

The World Player of the Year caught the Atletico defence napping to score a breathtaking 81st-minute free kick and settle an intense battle at the Calderon after Atletico striker Radamel Falcao had cancelled out Daniel Alves’s opening goal.

As the home defence lined up to defend the free kick wide on the left, Messi noticed Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois out of position and curled a stunning strike over the Belgian’s head into the far top corner for his 28th league goal of the season."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Messi Crushes Valencia 5 -1

Coming off an unexpected loss last weekend to Osasuna and a mid-week 3 - 1 triumph over Bayer Leverkusen in Champions League competition, this week FC Barcelona came roaring back to their championship form in a 5 - 1 rout of Valencia, in which Lionel Messi scored no less than four goals. 

As reported in The Hindu:

"Lionel Messi scored four goals to inspire Barcelona to a 5-1 victory over Valencia on Sunday in the Spanish League, but the champion still remains 10 points behind leader Real Madrid.

Messi, playing his 200th game for the club, took his league goals tally to 27 for the season and 42 in all competitions although third-placed Valencia had stunned the Spanish and European champion by taking a shock early lead.

“The most important thing was that the team played like we did against Bayer Leverkuson in the Champions League in midweek when we won 3-1,” said Messi after his Camp Nou master class.

“There are lots of crucial challenges ahead and it's necessary to keep going like this.”

The pressure was on the Catalan side after defeat last weekend away to Osasuna and it got off to a poor start with Pablo Piatti giving Valencia the lead after nine minutes.

Martin Montoya, in the side with Dani Alves suspended, and Gerard Pique left Piatti unmarked and keeper Victor Valdes came and failed to reach a Sofiane Feghouli cross allowing the diminutive striker to tuck the ball in.

The home fans were becoming restless but Messi responded once again when his side needed him most with two goals in five minutes.

Adil Rami failed to clear a cross and Messi coolly finished from a tight angle.

The Argentine then got ahead of the Valencia defence to meet an Eric Abidal cross and while the keeper Diego Alves saved his initial shot, he was able to sweep in the rebound.

Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas were both denied by Alves while the former Arsenal player then hit the woodwork with an acrobatic effort.

The home side continued to push forward after the break with Alves stopping a Messi header with a wonderful save and Fabregas badly miscued before Messi gave Barca a cushion by firing in a rebound after another Alves block.

Messi completed his hat-trick with 15 minutes to go and then notched up his 42nd goal of the season after running clear of the defence and clipping the ball over the keeper.

With the Valencia defence in disarray substitute Xavi Hernandez lobbed the ball over the keeper for the fifth in injury time.

Despite the rout, Barcelona is still struggling to retain its title after Real Madrid had swept past Racing Santander 4-0 on Saturday.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Osasuna Shocks Barca 3-2

From CNTV:

"Spain's Primera Liga powerhouse Barcelona faced Osasuna on Saturday. Pep Guardiola’s 3-time defending champions went into the game seven points behind first-place Real Madrid in the league standings, and faced a critical match against an underdog playing at home.

The sides battled on a Osasuna’s bumpy pitch in Pamplona, and a swirling wind didn’t make Barca’s players any more comfortable. The home team seemed to adapt quicker. Serbian striker Dejan Lekic beat Victor Valdes at his near post after only five minutes. Osasuna led it 1-0.

The Navarran squad kept the pressure on, and it scored again in the 22nd. Lekic arrived unmarked again off a low cross to find the net. Barca went in at the break trailing by two goals for Barcelona turned to its youngsters to lead the squad back. 51st minute, Isaac Cuenca provided the cross for Alexis Sanchez. He made it 2-1.

But Osasuna came back with a huge goal, four minutes later. Valdes made a poor clearance and Osasuna’s Raul Garcia squeezed a shot in off the post. The score stood at 3-1 and Barcelona was on the ropes.
Barca put veteran Cesc Fabregas into the lineup. He found Cristian Tello for a nice move with a smash high into the net. The champs closed it to 3-2.

Osasuna struggled to hold on. Barcelona seemed to score its third, but the goal was waved-off for offside. Osasuna finished off the win, 3-2 over Barcelona."