Monday, April 23, 2012

Barca Falls to Madrid


"It can’t get more cruel and hurting for Barcelona than to hand over the title to Real Madrid at Camp Nou. More depressing for the Catalans was the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo, a player whose big-match temperament has been under constant scrutiny this season, finally shook off any nerves to perform whereas Barca’s blue-eyed boy Lionel Messi failed to even penetrate into the box.

It is noteworthy that the El Clasico played last December was almost identical to this past weekend’s, except for the scoreline where Barca were away and won 3-1. They replaced Real Madrid at the top of La Liga and then there was no turning back as they raced to the title and also took the top honours in Europe. But one major difference in both these matches that was very clearly visible in this El Clasico has been the impact of Daniel Alves. Not just his delivery into the box but his ability to hold the ball has somehow seemed to have failed him in the last two matches. He was incredibly awful in both the Chelsea and the Clasico match. It seemed very uncharacteristic of him not to constantly keep delivering those balls into the box. More frustrating is to see him lose the ball just for an opposition winger to counter-attack.

Another very glaring aspect in Barca’s downfall was the substitutions of Xavi. In both the matches, Pep Guardiola chose to substitute Xavi and bring in Pedro and Sanchez respectively. Though Sanchez scored the equaliser, he did not make as much impact as someone who is fit enough to replace Xavi in such a crucial match should.

These might be trivial issues. But, the most important concern of Pep Guardiola now must be to deal with his defensive crisis and a certain attacker called “Tello”. How can the inclusion of Tello be justified on such a stage where the stakes are so high? Certainly, his finishing abilities do not warrant a place for him in this Barcelona side. More pressing an issue is that of Victor Valdes and Carlos Puyol. Though Puyol played his heart out in this match, both Puyol and Pep must realise that age is catching up with Mr. Barca. He cannot go on forever. This was evident from Madrid’s first goal. It was a classic case of a goalkeeper poorly placed and a defender who took an eternity to clear the ball at his feet with two attackers lurking around him. Puyol could have done much better as that goal just boosted Madrid’s confidence. They effectively shut out Barca in the first half by making them play within themselves and offering them no penetration into the box. But, before Chelsea come back next week,Pep must surely pep up his goalkeeper who is looking out of place recently."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Barca Crush Getafe 4 - 0

From the UK Guardian:

"The Chile forward Alexis Sánchez scored twice as Barcelona swept to a 4-0 home win over Getafe that moved them to within a point of La Liga leaders Real Madrid on Tuesday.

Sánchez curled in the opener from Lionel Messi's layoff after 13 minutes and the world player of the year netted his 39th league goal and 61st in all competitions this season from an Andrés Iniesta backheel.

Sánchez and Pedro headed goals within three minutes of each other in the second half.

Barça, who were 10 points adrift of Madrid just over three weeks ago, cranked up the pressure with a 10th straight win and moved to within one point of their arch rivals."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Messi Nets 60th Goal

From the Hindustan Times:

Lionel Messi became the first player in almost 40 years to score 60 goals in a single European top-flight season after a brace helped Barcelona come from behind to beat 10-man Zaragoza 4-1.

Messi's 23 goals from the last 12 games has helped him arrive at the landmark 60 figure, the first time since Gerd Muller scored 67 goals in the 1972-73 season for Bayern Munich.

With a minimum of nine games still to play in the league and cup, 24-year-old Messi has the German's record well within his sights.

Barca's victory on Saturday also helped the champions slash Real Madrid's lead to three points with Jose Mourinho's side facing a tough April schedule, starting against third-placed Valencia today.

After that comes the Madrid derby against Atletico and the El Clasico showdown with Barca also to feature. 

"All we can do is keep going and see what happens in the matches still to play. We knew this would be a difficult game for the way that the opposition has been playing in the last month and the state of the pitch made it worse for both of us," said Barca coach Pep Guardiola."