Espanyol 1 Barça 5

photo: Claudio Chaves

It was mentioned in the press this week that the one thing that Barça hadn’t done under Pep Guardiola was to give local rivals Espanyol a good stuffing, but this evening at the Cornella-El Prat stadium the team demonstrated once again that we are playing at a different level to everybody else. Pedro(2), Xavi and Villa(2) got the goals and Espanyol had few answers to Barça’s dominance, but Osvaldo did manage to grab a consolation goal which was the first goal Valdés has conceded since we beat Villarreal 3-1 five weeks ago.

Today’s game began at the typical high tempo we have come to expect in these local derbies. Espanyol came out hoping to catch us cold and as early as the first minute Osvaldo fired in a low cross/shot that Valdés gathered at the near post. But Barça reacted with a cheeky overhead effort from Busquets that went just wide.

We were playing with our typical 4-3-3 shape with the only variant being that Puyol played on the right of Piqué rather than to the left. Both teams were playing with very high defensive lines that meant that the 20 outfield players were often all found in a thin band near the halfway line. There was not much room for our typical game of triangular short passing but we had the tactical option of playing the ball into space behind the Espanyol back four to make the most of the pace of Pedro and Villa, and as the game went on we began to find these two players with more and more frequency.

The chances began to come from early on, Messi forced the first save from Kameni in the 9th minute and a minute later Alves robbed the ball high up the pitch and got a run at goal, however, Alves hesitated and squared back to Messi who only succeeded in firing over the bar. The warning signs were there for Espanyol and we took a deserved lead after 19 minutes. Puyol broke down an Espanyol attack and Busquets was on hand to clear up, Busquets lobbed the ball forward to Pedro on the half way line, Pedro laid the ball off first time to Messi who pushed the ball through the middle for Pedro to run onto before sliding the ball under Kameni. We went further ahead in the 30th minute, Messi played the ball to Villa who sent the ball into space for Pedro to chase, Pedro got into the area on the left before playing the ball back to Messi who sent a chip to the far post where Xavi fired in a cross, the ball hit Alves and bounced back to Xavi who smacked the ball back this time finding a space inside the far post. Espanyol had few moments near our goal but Valdés had to make a tremendous save from Callejon in the 35th minute but the Espanyol players must have realised there was little they could do especially when we played the ball out of our own area with a series of short passes. It is the type of thing that would give most coaches a heart attack but Barça have the quality of players that makes this type of play possible.

Nothing really changed in the second half, Espanyol continued to work hard to try and close us down but our passing at the moment is too good for most teams and our patient approach led to more chances to add to our tally. In the 60th minute Messi made a great run in from the right, he bounced a pass off Pedro, took the return before sending in a powerful shot that Kameni failed to hold and Pedro was on hand again to drive home the rebound. A couple of minutes later Iniesta unselfishly squared to Pedro looking for a hat-trick but Kameni was out fast to close the angles. Espanyol then went straight up the other end and Osvaldo got away from Puyol to shoot past Valdés.

For about ten minutes the result looked like it could be in danger especially if Espanyol could have got a second. But apart from one weak header over from Osvaldo, Valdés’s goal was not threatened. Instead we took advantage of the tiring Espanyol defence to find passes into space. In the 76th minute Messi held the ball and waited for the right moment to slip the ball through to Villa who ran on to beat Kameni easily, then eight minutes later it was Xavi who found the pass for Villa to race through and get another.

For anyone who doesn’t know it might be easy to arrive to the conclusion that Espanyol are a poor team, but before today they had won seven out of seven in Cornella this season. Scoring five here impresses me more than the eight at Almeria. The team is in a fantastic moment and it was great to see the goals for Pedro and Villa tonight, just as Messi missed out on a goal in the 5-0 win over Madrid he again missed out today as we scored five, however, he was involved in the first four goals and demonstrated again that he can make goals as well as score them. It’s just worth mentioning the statistics from the start of this season. We have 43 points from 16 games which makes our best ever start to La Liga and in that time we have already reached 51 goals with just 9 conceded. Our away record is simply stunning: 8 games, 8 wins, 29 goals scored with just 4 conceded. And just for good measure Victor Valdés beat his previous record of 570 minutes without conceding, Osvaldo’s goal coming 576 minutes since the last one we conceded.

Barça: Valdés 7; Alves 7, Piqué 6.5, Puyol 7, Abidal 7.5; Xavi 7, Busquets 7 (Mascherano m78, 6.5), Iniesta 8 (Keita m85, –); Pedro 8.5 (Bojan m88, –), Messi 8, Villa 8.

Espanyol: Kameni; Chica, Forlin, Victor Ruiz, Didac; Baena, Javi Marquez; Luis Garcia, Verdu, Jose Callejon; Osvaldo.

Goals: m19 Pedro 0-1, m30 Xavi 0-2, m60 Pedro 0-3, m63 Osvaldo 1-3, m76 Villa 1-4, m84 Villa 1-5.

Barça yellow cards: m25 Busquets, m53 Piqué, m69 Alves.

It is a bit strange for me tonight to be writing what is in reality just another match report. However, two weeks ago I didn’t know if I would ever do another write-up of a Barça game. Thanks to your comments at fcbnews I realized much had been created and I realized I didn’t want to stop blogging or lose the community we have built up here. The offers of help came in and I rediscovered an enthusiasm for doing this. I hope that enthusiasm comes through and we can achieve a vibrant community feel to Barçacentral.

We support the best goddamn team in the world who play football the way it should be played. They are a special team, let’s make this a special blog

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17 Responses to Espanyol 1 Barça 5

  1. CougaR10 says:

    i was havin mild heart attack in early minutes…even after pedro scored..
    Espanyols midfield worked pretty solid..closing down all angles deny out triangular tiki taka..
    but the pace of our attackers + sloppy defending from espanyols back four gave us a happy ending..
    deserved win?? oh yes..barca showed that they can play different kind of football today..
    letting espanyol conquering the middle while exploiting their high line..
    a tough game made easy by barca.

    Visca la Barca!

  2. Josep says:

    I’m happy to be reading your review after the game again Nick. Keep up the good work.

  3. barcacentralnic says:

    A few more statistics for you. We have won our last ten games. In these ten games we have scored 42 and conceded just 4. In these ten games Messi has scored 12, Villa has 7, and Pedro has a very impressive 9 goals! You might then remember that in the 2-0 win over Rubin Kazan only Messi of the three played. In the other 9 games the only game where we didn’t get at least three golitos from our deadly trio was against Ceuta when Villa didn’t play, though both Messi and Pedro managed to get on the scoresheet that day. We are on fire!

  4. Hilal says:

    This team is a machine. It is incredible to watch. Espanyol played an outstanding game, they pressed us relentlessly, they were physical, aggressive and they did everything they possible could to try and get in our faces and we STILL scored 5 goals. Truthfully it could have been a lot more.

    I thought this was going to be one of the toughest games we play all season and in a way it was, but at the same time we are so damn good right now we made it look easy. IT WASNT. I guarantee you all of our players are knackered after that game.

    Pedro btw is a little nutcase. He is absolutely relentless. His workrate and his attitude on the pitch is incredible. I think he is quickly becoming one of the best wingers in the game.

    Messi has officially become unplayable now. He has evolved his game so that he knows when to pass, when to dribble, when to shoot. He didnt score today but he was incredible. Everytime he had the ball he drew defenders opened space and made dangerous pass after dangerous pass. 3 assists tonight. He used to be a little more selfish, which in a way made him a little more playable, now he just cant be stopped. If you play him for the dribble he will get you with a killer pass, if you play him for the pass he will get past you and score. Simply incredible.

    Villa is getting there, slowly but surely. At least he is learning to stay onside a bit more, he was killing way too many attackes earlier in the season. It is quite terrifying to think what will happen once he hits top form because he is nowhere near his best yet!

    Cant wait to play Arsenal again!

    Great to have you back Nic!

  5. bc9jaCulé says:

    I was extremely glad to read a match report from u again Nic. Sort of relivin’ old times. Your last was that of d El Thrashico (sorry, used to be El Clasico) & ur newest, that of d local derby against Espanyol. What a way to call it quits with a venture and start off with another – I must say this is indeed IRONICAL. Pls dont go away again, Nic!

    About the match: I must admit I was somewhat nervous & unsteady durin’ d openin’ 10 mins but my confidence was reinforced with Pedro’s first. Need I accord individual accolades to our players? I don’t think so b’cause they blend rythymically like a Christmas carol & their collective inputs & outputs are perfect complements. Those guys rock — I call it CLOCKWORK. Even Espanyol conceded 5 goals? WoooooW!!!

    If my arithmetic won’t fail me, I think we’ve scored 29 goals in our last 6 league games (frm Villareal to Espanyol) which gives an average of almost 5 each; Villareal, RM & Espanyol inclusive. There’s no stoppin’ us – we’re simply phenomenal. I just hope we retain this form after the Xmas break.

    Don’t u think d present Barça family (they’ve gone past bein’ called a team now) is like an ‘inpenetrable electric circuit’? D current flowin’ through this circuit is capable of suffocatin’ any club – correct me if I’m wrong.

  6. AyousB says:

    thanks so much Nic

    nothing more to say than to thank you, Darren and others.

    you guys are all genius
    Viva Barcacentral

    back to the game, in fact im very happy. Happy because
    1. Espanyol (our old enemy) were not only beaten but were also humiliated just like their friend RM
    2. Our beloved team is the best, in fact all our players. Hope this form continues.

    Viva Barca

  7. apo says:

    i’m so pleased to see that the community of fcbnews lives on! i don’t know what compelled me to check the old site but it was a very pleasant surprise to see the link here. even though i don’t comment a lot (because i don’t know nearly as much about barca as most of you), i always turn to you guys for analysis. a big welcome back and thank you!

    didn’t get a chance to see the match because i was traveling but it was unusual not to see messi’s name included in the 5 goals. i’m happy for villa, though, because he’s a great guy and a hard worker. what a year it has been to be a cule!

  8. FCB-Holland says:

    There is more to life than football .
    Español fans pay their respect to Iniesta .
    http://www.soccerblog.com/2010/12/andres-iniesta-gets-standing-o.htm

  9. barcacentralnic says:

    Here’s a video of all the goals – glad I don’t have to suffer the GolTV commentators every week – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKTXerTnmlg

  10. jasper says:

    been looking for a good barcelona blog for a while without luck but this looks promising. keep posting good reviews please. often i dont get to see the matches and its so nice to read solid reviews combined with stats.

    thanks in advance.
    j.

  11. Fredegar says:

    Great great news, happy to read you again Nic!

    A couple of points not on the game in itself. About Messi: I can’t agree more with you Hilal, his development and progression are amazing. I remeber watching him against Manchester United when we got eliminated in the semifinals of the CL and thinking: “Well, he is a fantastic player, but he is not really suited to play as a 10″… The fact that he was already an incredible player, but has now developped far further from the tricky winger he was at the time, is really fantastic and truly makes him, by far, the best player in the world and in strong competition to be called the best player in History at the age of 23.
    At the start of the season, I would have wanted to give Ibra another chance. But seeing the team play these days, I’m so happy he fucked off to Milan. We are far better without him, he was slowing our game and putting the team in danger with his lack of workrate up front. We will never know if he could have adapted in his second season (and I still believe that if he had, it could have been incredible), but seeing Villa and Pedro working their socks off for us and scoring goals galores, I’m really glad that we changed.
    Finally, my only worry is that we could have peaked too early in the season, it will be terribly difficult to keep this level over a whole year. But then, we are so stratospherical at the moment that we could still beat most teams even with a dip in form. I wont’ worry for May now and just enjoy something I would never have dreamt possible: better football than in the 08-09 season: amazing! And great to have you commenting it, Nic!

  12. bc9jaCulé says:

    I really do not think it’s too early to peak.

    Reason:
    What’s the glory in climaxin’ towards the tail end of the season when u’ve dropped crucial points that really matter in the earlier stages? Recall, the season is almost split into two halves so all we need do is to @ least keep up with this momentum (if we cannot better it). In other words culés, all we require is CONSISTENCY!!! And I’m sure we’ll even get better b’cause our soccer gladiators are quite aware of what’s at stake.

    Fret not culés!

    Up Barça!

  13. Caleb says:

    Just when you think it couldn’t get better and we’ll have a really tight game, the team does this. Amazing.

    Thanks so much Nic! I really love your reports of the games!

  14. FCB-Parbo says:

    AMAAAAZING! Congrats barca family. You know, it got me thinking. What if !!! Villa was with us last season instead of that stupid Ibra. Would it had been a sextuple again?

    Up Barca!!

  15. Thank you for coming back with a new blog. I can never get enough of analysis and stories about Barca, especially with their fantastic form at the moment. I’ve been a fan for a decade and I cannot believe just how lucky I am to be watching such sublime performances from MY team.

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