Deportivo La Coruña 0 Barça 4

Barça’s 100% away record in La Liga remained intact tonight after another superb performance from the team. It took time to get going but we have seen the pattern plenty of times before as little by little we wear teams down to leave them dead by the end. David Villa hit back at his critics by opening the scoring in the first half and second half goals from Messi, Iniesta and Pedro left the result beyond any doubt.
I said earlier in the week that we will see rotations in the team over the next few weeks with the aim of having the players at 100% for the Champions League clash with Arsenal on February 16. Tonight, Pep Guardiola chose to start Alves, Xavi and Busquets on the bench which meant a rare start for Adriano at right back while Mascherano and Keita came into midfield. The result of this was that we looked a little slower than usual and for the first 25 minutes we struggled to create anything. Messi tried combining with Villa and Iniesta but there was little space through the middle.
Depor had offered very little going forward though Adrian showed a couple of times that he was a touch quicker than Puyol. Then in the 21st minute Depor had an excellent chance to take the lead when the ball was headed on to Adrian our defence were all looking for offside but Piqué had been slow moving out, Adrian seemed so surprised to have such a clear chance that he failed to get a proper contact on the ball and only succeeded in sending it softly wide. Until now we had not even managed a shot, Adriano changed that by blazing over from distance on 24 minutes but then a couple of minutes later we took the lead with our first real chance. Messi received on the right, he moved inside a bit and then sent a perfect pass for Villa’s well-timed run to beat the offside trap, Villa had a tight angle but his shot found a way through Aranzubia’s legs and into the net.
After the goal we began to look more like ourselves in that we controlled the play more easily though we now chose to keep the ball instead of risking the forward pass. There was one occasion when Abidal got forward before pulling the ball back for Villa who angered Messi by shooting against the defender instead of passing. Having scored against Athletic,  Abidal was obviously in the mood to get forward and in the 38th minute he amazed everybody by again getting the ball in the net but this time he was narrowly given offside when Messi made the pass.
We were not at our best in the first half but early in the second half a moment of magic from Messi killed off any possible reaction from Depor. Messi had been pulled back by Ruben Perez earning a free kick 30 yards out, the ball was slightly to the left of centre which might half given a better option to a shot from David Villa. But it was Messi who stepped up to hit a perfect curling shot into the top corner: the shot was so good that Arunzubia didn’t even bother trying to stop it, turning his back on the ball in frustration.
With the two-goal advantage we saw another similar pattern as we passed the ball from one side of the pitch to the other as the Depor players found it more and more difficult to keep chasing. Our possession game at times like this can seem almost unsporting as the other team has such difficulty to get a kick. Eventually, we wore them down and got our reward with a couple more goals near the end. In the 80th minute Piqué went on a foray forward before sending a pass out to Iniesta on the right, Iniesta cut inside before unleashing a powerful low left foot shot which flew past Arunzubia into the far corner. A minute later Messi made a penetrating diagonal run from the left before touching the ball through for Pedro to neatly lift over the keeper. Messi might have added a fifth after a good combination with Bojan but Arunzubia managed to do enough to send the ball out for a corner. We also had a few minutes at the end to see new signing Ibrahim Afellay but he didn’t really get a chance to show anything, hopefully we’ll see more of him again soon. Depor finally managed a shot on target in injury time after a poor pass from Piqué gave the ball away but Victor Valdés was as alert as ever to dent Adrian.
This was a clinical performance from Barça. We were not frustrated early on when we couldn’t find a way through and the patience paid off in the end. Of course it might have been different if Adrian had scored with Depor’s early chance but the fact that this was their only chance until injury time at the end shows that our defence was pretty much on top of things tonight. I won’t go into any of the record breaking statistics today but you are welcome to send any of these incredible stats into the comments section. To end today this report is dedicated to the memory of Ángel Pedraza who died earlier today (Saturday) after a long illness. Pedraza played 90 games for Barça in the 1980s. He was just 48 years old.

Angel Pedraza

Depor: (4-4-2) Aranzubia; Laure, Colotto, Lopo, Manuel Pablo; Antonio Tomás, Rubén Pérez, Domínguez (Alvarez m77), Desmarets (Rindaroy m70); Saul (Valeron m54), Adrián.

Barça: (4-3-3) Valdés 6.5; Adriano 7, Piqué 8, Puyol 7, Abidal 8; Iniesta 8 (Thiago m82, –), Mascherano 7.5, Keita 7; Pedro 6.5 (Afellay m82, –), Messi 8.5, Villa 6.5 (Bojan m70, 6.5).

Goals: m26 Villa 0-1, m51 Messi 0-2, m80 Iniesta 0-3, m81 Pedro 0-4.

Yellow card: m50 Ruben Perez

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7 Responses to Deportivo La Coruña 0 Barça 4

  1. Gusto says:

    Before I post my first comment on this wonderful blog I would like to thank the creators and authors of this website for maintaining a place where English speakers can gather to read about all things Barca, and engage in lively intelligent discussions about the team and sport we all know and love. I was worried when FCBNews, this blogs predecessor, was coming to an end that a place to meet and discuss would no longer be available, but I can now rest assured because of barcacentral.

    For me, the most important aspect of this game was how we played in the absence of 3 regular starters. Mascherano produced a very competent display at DMwhich allows our midfield to breathe a sigh of relief knowing we have 2 perfectly capable and talented options for that position. While Adriano may not have been quite as prolific as Alves, he was purchased to do exactly what he did tonight; give solid performances along either flank so we can rest our stars over the course of a long campaign.

    Of the 3 different rotations, Keita easily had the largest shoes to fill as I expect Xavi to to lift the Balon d’Or come Monday. Because of his consistency and attitude, we generally know what to assume when given a start and he did not let me down. Keita will always give 100% in the center of the park and while may not have the the technique, control, or vision of Xavi, his energy and support in both defense and attack allows the team to operate without significantly dropping its level of play. We definitely lose creativity without Xavi, but not necessarily stability when Keita has a good display like today. Furthermore, it is important the rest of the team knows how to play well without our maestro as injuries and age will eventually catch up with him, and tonight we saw our boys cope very well without his presence.

    I would like to give a special mention to Abidal who had a splendid game tonight. He is probably the least technically gifted of our strongest starting XI but I justify his selection because he brings athleticism, height, strength, and speed to our back line. However, this being his 4th season in the blaugrana colors, it seems his technical skill has markedly improved as evident by his forward runs and link up play with the midfield and forwards. He will always miss a few passes per game and boot the ball down the field when there might be another option but his improvement and form is encouraging to watch.

    Cheers mate!

  2. bc9jaCulé says:

    A brilliant masterpiece the game was.

    But why did Villa not make that golden pass to Messi? Fine, he needs to score more but he also must imbue into his “SELFISH INSTINCTS” that; Creatin’ a wonderful assist is sometimes more honourable & glorious than actually scorin’ the goals. Xavi is a Ballon d’Or finalist today principally b’cause of the countless killer passes (that has led to goals) he’s supplied, not to mention Iniesta’s.

    Besides, he’d (Villa) scored earlier in the game through a killer pass from Messi. Aint life supposed to be a give-and-take affair?

    That gesture from Villa reaaaaaally pissed me & almost destroyed that joyous victory for me regardless of the final scoreline.

    Case in point:

    Dont you think the 1-on-1 chances Villa keeps wastin’ are becomin’ unbearable? For God’s sake, he’s supposedly a veteran striker, not a rookie (NOT THAT HE SHOULDN’T MAKE MISTAKES BUT IT SHOULDN’T BE A PERPETUAL SCENARIO).

    Is anybody with me on this one or is it me who is overly reactin’ and utterly impatient?

    Will someone call me to order!!!

  3. blaugranaboy says:

    the thing i enjoyed most about last night was guardiola’s team selection. i thought it was great he let some of the starters have a breather and give the supplements a full 90 minutes. and the fact we managed to win justifies that totally.

    these games are actually rather impressive from us. it isnt the razzle dazzle type football we saw over december, but when a team sets out with 10 men behind the ball, letting you have all the field but the final 3rd, it is impressive we are finding a way through and that will be vital for our season.

    i also thought mascherano had a stellar game. few misplaced passes here and there, but his tackling and covering was excellent. i give him a large amount of credit and hopefully he isnt too upset with his limited game time. adriano disappointed me, not because he didnt have a decent game, but because he can do a hell of a lot better. this guy was great for sevilla. keita, well, he is never going to be at the level of his teammates, but he didnt do anything bad. at 30, he isnt old, but i would like to see his place in the pecking order drop one for afellay. id much prefer to see the new young dutchman get the immediate start when xavi/iniesta drop from midfield. pep loves keita so much though. if anyone watched the english commentary last night, they went on about how pep was lauding him this week, saying how he is such a unique and great person and that pep had never met anybody like him. so, i hope that relationship will keep keita a happy squad player, but i would like to see less of him as the time goes forward.

    otherwise, glad to see gusto up there give abidal more well deserved credit. this guy has quickly become one of my favorites (though most the team are). he is playing at such a high level for us not only this year, but the past 2 seasons. he has come leaps and bounds from the first year. im really loving him.

    bojan disappointed again, which really does make me sad.

    bc9ja: i dont think villa has missed many flat out 1 on 1. chances a few, but not alone with the keeper. the one incident u mentioned was a bit selfish, as messi was in a far better position, but as u say, villa is slightly struggling so he needs that for confidence. his first goal was great and very important for us as we were struggling to get behind depo. his run and finish were top draw. ill admit he hasnt been as good as i thought he would, but there is not one cell in my body that wishes zlatan was still here. that guy was poison to our group. cruyff, pep, and rosell all agree. i think villa has played far better than zlatan, he works much harder, and his attitude cannot even be compared. aside from etoo never having left, villa is my perfect choice to come in. and i think he will improve, and im sure he will always contribute with a goal and assist along the way.

  4. bc9jaCulé says:

    @ B-boy

    Zlatan? Bein’ a poison to the group was an understatement — he was like ‘AIDS’ to the group. See, I must say I really appreciate Villa’s work rate but I just think he needs to be more dynamic in front of goal, especially when he’s got better & much easier options. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that that’s the key to Messi’s unplayable status @ the moment. He doesn’t just dribble nowadays — he passes, makes the runs, creates the assists & yet, consistently scores the goals — I mean Messi’s b’comin’ “XaviIniestaMessi” all embedded in one body.

    Seriously, I know Villa can’t be Messi. So, all I ask of him (VILLA) is just a little touch of ALTRUISM-CUM-DYNAMISM!!!

  5. Caleb says:

    Woah! I think people are being harsh on Villa here. He had a selfish moment, sure. But we have to be honest and admit that Messi has his fair share of selfish moments. I think Messi’s level has dropped a fair amount since the break. He’s showing flashes, but I don’t think he was an 8.5 tonight.

    I have to say that Abidal is playing at an amazing level tonight. He’s looking to attack more. His touch is really good. He’s quite composed lately. Making good choices overall. I really like some of the stuff he does with his chest traps.

    Mascherano is also really good. He’s sooooo goooood at breaking up the other team’s play. On offense he knows what to do: feed the ball to the creative players and keep it moving. I also think he’s adapted his tackling well and is being careful not to solidify his reputation as a dirty tackler. There were several times where the Liver Pool version would have gone right through some guys legs in this game, but the Barca version held back and avoided any cards.

    Bojan… sad… he’s got to get it together.

  6. Fredegar says:

    Well, how fun is it that, having failed to score with his best foot for some very long periods in his life, Iniesta scored this one with his left? He really is full of confidence at the moment, it’s just great, it will certainly be a bit unjust cos’ I feel Xavi is the one really deserving it, but I will enjoy him lifting the ballon d’or tonight!
    5 goals already, that’s a big amelioration, I always wondered why he didn’t score as much with us than with the national team, so I’m happy he raised his goal stats this year, particularly as he plays mostly in the midfield, contrary to past years when he played a lot on the right wing…

    Something that really tends to anger me on the other hand is this criticism of Villa. Please guys, this is just pure bullshit from the Madrid press, don’t fall for it. Of course Villa is no Messi, but you can’t have three Messis up front. I don’t know what you can ask more from him, he is scoring goals (12 in 17 games is a pretty handy stat for any striker int the world), contributing assists, is involved in the game a lot and works his socks off for the team, pressing and defending. So what’s more? Being the perfect centerback as well? Cleaning the whole Camp Nou during the 90 mins of the game? I must say I’m completely baffled by this criticism, okay he is offside sometimes, and he has missed a few opportunities in front of the goal, yeah, like he is the only player doing that…
    Well, let’s enjoy tonight guys, I wish you all a merry Ballon d’or!

  7. bc9jaCulé says:

    I don’t deny that Villa’s failure to make that golden pass to Messi really cut me deep and albeit my comments might be a bit “over the edge” and have angered alot of culés, those criticisms were constructive (not destructive).

    I was simply recommendin’ ways in which he can better his game and MOST SIGNIFICANTLY, complement the Barça trademark style (just like a good coach would do though might not be so direct about it).

    My apologies, culés, — it was just a recommendation — no strings attached!

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