Barça 5 Almeria 0

Barça took a giant step towards this year’s Copa del Rey Final after beating Almeria 5-0 with another superb display of attacking football. Leo Messi led the way with two more goals, with striking partners Villa and Pedro each getting a goal, these four all coming in an electrifying first 30 minutes, substitute Seydou Keita added a fifth at the end of the game to leave Almeria needing some sort of miracle next Wednesday. I can’t stress enough how well we played especially in the first half when some of the combinations were so fluid and fast I gave up trying to keep up with which players had been involved.

With Puyol injured and Alves still not completely at 100%, Guardiola put out more or less his strongest possible team with just the normal change of goalkeeper in the Copa and the substitution of Busquets with Mascherano which is probably the easiest change for Guardiola to make. It seems that it doesn’t matter quite so much who plays in which defensive position, if we have the front three of Pedro, Messi and Villa supported by Xavi and Iniesta from midfield we really are quite unstoppable at times. People will say that it was expected as we had already beaten Almeria 0-8 at the end of November but Almeria have shown recently that they are not such a bad team and in their last four games they had three wins and a draw with Real Madrid. However, our attacking flair tore Almeria apart from the beginning, there were chances for Almeria to score too, but the difference between the teams was clear to see as our attacking insistence was soon rewarded, though we were somewhat fortunate in the first two goals. After just ten minutes Messi received the ball from Pedro, he spotted the space and used his speed to nip away from two opponents before firing in a powerful low shot that found the back off the net though the Almeria keeper Esteban should have done better as he allowed the ball to bounce over his dive. Then less than two minutes later Xavi burst through the middle before feeding Villa on the left, Villa cut in a bit before curling in a shot that somehow squirmed under the unfortunate Esteban.

It was a great start but there was no letting up from the team, Goitom was giving us some concern at the back with his speed but it was our superb attack that was rewarded again in the 16th minute, Iniesta made a run forward towards the left before checking and sending a 20 yard pass out to Messi on the right, Messi glided smoothly into the area before side footing home with such apparent ease that it makes me feel like running out to my local park to do the same. We were three up and we were playing some magnificent stuff, I don’t often use terms like fantasy football but in this period, while perhaps not defensively perfect, it was a joy to watch, Pedro might have scored the goal of the season with an overhead effort after a neat flicked pass from Villa, and then Villa had the ball in the net after a beautiful build up but he was correctly given offside.

The down side was that Almeria players started lunging into challenges a bit more and Messi and Adriano both took knocks, after the foul on Adriano on 30 minutes Xavi swung in the free kick and found Pedro with a magnificent leap at the near post to send a header looping into the far top corner. It was almost as if we were saying that we could score from the most unexpected source you care to name, three weeks ago it was Eric Abidal surprising with a goal, and today the smallest player we have, Pedro, scoring with a header from a set piece. If Guardiola had planned this on the training field he is even more of a genius than I had thought, but I imagine it was a spontaneous move from Xavi. Almeria didn’t seem to know whether to attack or defend but they did come close to a goal just before half time when they took advantage of Xavi being down to go forward, but Pinto leapt beautifully to save from Crusat’s drive. Messi saved his best run for just before half time spurting past two into the area only to see Esteban make an excellent save getting down quickly to his left to stop the shot.

Those who thought we were on the way to another eight goal feast were slightly disappointed as the intensity inevitably dropped in the second half though we continued to see some magical moments, Maxwell hit the outside of the post after overlapping Messi, Adriano had a shot saved after a brilliant back heel from Pedro and this was followed almost immediately by another save from a screaming 30-yard drive from Mascherano. Afellay and Keita came on in place of Villa and Xavi, and Afellay continued to show a lot of promise. There was some more great stuff especially from Messi and Iniesta but the play was breaking down before we could get a shot. We had to wait until three minutes from the end for the final goal: Messi played a perfectly weighted pass for Keita’s well-timed run and the control with the right foot was quickly followed by the left foot sweeping the ball under the advancing Esteban.

Even though the intensity dropped a little in the second half there can be no complaints about the mentality of the players as this was excellent throughout. The fact that the final could well be against Real Madrid I find it very difficult to see us drop our guard in the return game. A few years ago Leo Messi scored a goal you will probably recall against Getafe in a Copa del Rey semi final in a game that we won 5-2. We lost the return game at Getafe 4-0 so we should be warned. However, as fans we can relax in the knowledge that this team will not relax until we have both feet in the final. That is the merit of Guardiola: the winning mentality is backed up with this relentlessness that makes this team so consistent and so special and so difficult to contain.

Barça: Pinto 7.5; Adriano 6.5, Piqué 7, Abidal 8, Maxwell 7.5 (Milito m82, 6); Xavi 8 (Keita m74, 7), Mascherano 7.5, Iniesta 8.5; Pedro 7.5, Messi 9, Villa 7.5 (Afellay m66, 7).

Almeria: Esteban; Michel, Pellerano, Carlos García, Luna; Mbami, Vargas; Piatti, Corona Crusat, Goitom.

Goals: m9 Messi 1-0, m11 Villa 2-0, m16 Messi 3-0, m30 Pedro 4-0, m87 Keita 5-0.

Yellow card: m43 Vargas

Attendance: 49,875

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This entry was posted in Copa Del Rey, David Villa, Leo Messi, Match reports, Pedro Rodriguez, Seydou Keita and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Barça 5 Almeria 0

  1. barcacentralroger says:

    Lovely. My favourite line:

    “Messi glided smoothly into the area before side footing home with such apparent ease that it makes me feel like running out to my local park to do the same.”

    Glad that Adriano had a more comfortable game (would have squeaked a 6.75 out of me), Abidal was immense, glad Milito got some minutes (although he looked hesitant), and perhaps Mascherano’s best game yet in a Barca shirt?

    Also did anyone get a good look at that piece of skill Affelay pulled off just inside the edge of the box? Youtube link please if anyone can find it.

  2. Noureddine says:

    Great game and electrifying performance, 5-0 was the exact result I was actually hoping for to get this tie done and dusted and have the likes of Messi Xavi and Iniesta get some rest ahead of Atletico Madrid’s visit.

    I thought the whole team were superb specially Abidal that amazed with his flawless display as CB and LB, but I have to mention that I was really disappointed by Adriano performance, the guy is just not clicking with the team and his selfish play just made things worse, guess Dani Alves’s shoes are some huge ones to fill.

    • barcacentralroger says:

      @Noureddine – I don’t think Adriano is playing well yet, but I think he has begun to improve. His shots from distance were frustrating this game, but I think it just is symptomatic of someone having a lot to prove. And whilst I don’t think he’ll ever be able to fill Dani’s shoes – we bought him to be an all round utility squad player not first choice in any position – I did see him interchanging with Messi on the edge of the box that reminded me of Dani. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not convinced yet – but I do think he is improving. It’s worth remembering that he’s only played eight games for us, of those only four as a starter, totalling just 400 minutes, 180 of those in the two heavily changed line-ups against Ceuta (no Xavi, no Iniesta) in what were somewhat scrappy games.

  3. barcacentralomer says:

    Whew! What a terrific all-round performance. Nic, I totally agree that the hallmark of Pep’s Barca is the mental toughness that he has ingrained into this side and the fact that he does not tolerate a complacent attitude irrespective of the opponent/fixture.

    While I whole-heartedly back this attitude, it’ll be interesting to see how long Barca can susatin this performance level on the field because in a few years time certain members that form core of this team like Xavi,Puyol and Abidal will have retired/play less significant roles, the frontline minus Messi will also undergo a transformation.

    Like Roger, I’m not too disappointed with Adriano so far and I believe with time he will gradually fit into the ‘John O Shea’ role of a utility player who will provide reasonable backup for our starting XI fullbacks and perhaps even on the flanks in the midfield. I’m surprised how people are still not discussing the possibility that Dani Alves might leave during the summer and with Abidal being moulded into a CB, our fullback slots might need to be looked into during the summer.

  4. FCB-Parbo says:

    Hey, hey, hey, another manita. We are spoiled. Abidal did great, Messi was SUPER , the midfield was awesome and the frontline was to be scared of. Mascherano did very very well. I loved his long very accurate passes especially to the frontline. We need more of those. Our forwards are bursting unexpectedly towards the opposition area. If they lost balance then we will score more.

    BIG UP BARCA!!!

  5. bc9jaCulé says:

    You’ve said it all, Nic.

    Barça!
    Barça!!
    Barça!!!

    The rate @ which this Barça team keeps dishin’ out MANITAS to clubs at will, without fear or favour, — irrespective of the opponent’s pedigree and/or recent run of performances (recall Madrid and Espanyol?) — is becomin’ uncontrollable. Would it be too much to say “Barça should be the SI unit of other clubs’ actual standard”? I scarcely doubt so.

    Clearly, the scenario of the intricate telepathy and digital choreography the team leaps into when they step on the pitch — be it @ home or anywhere else — cannot be described.

    5 — 0 ?!?!?!

    Attainin’ a huge scoreline of such — against a team that won three out of their last four ties and drew the other against Madrid — is no small thing.

    Individually, they were excellent and even more so collectively. Messi? There are just no more superlatives left to do justice to his genius. In fact, the whole team was magnificent last night and special mentions must be made of Messi, Abidal, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro and Masch. And as for Adriano, just give him a little more time to figure the puzzle of masterin’ the Barça trademark pattern and you will realise how good he is as a utility player. Besides, he wasn’t that bad either last night as he showed some traits of improvement.

    @NIC
    I don’t know you as a person and so I can’t say how balanced you are in any other ramification but I KNOW one thing for sure: you are extravagantly balanced lexically and I must say this is one of my favourite reviews from your stable. Here’s wishin’ you more light and wisdom as you endeavour to lavish us with a LYRICAL REPLAY of every FCBarcelona match with your comfortin’ and pleasant choice of words.

    PS:
    Bring on Hercules and let’s show them the magnitude of their sins in the first leg (@ Camp).

    Forca Barça!!!

  6. blaugranaboy says:

    messi’s pass for the 5th goal was seriously lovely. what a player.

    but i have to say, the goalkeeping for the first two goals was rubbish. not like it made a difference but just thought it mention it.

  7. Noureddine says:

    @roger, considering the fact Adriano has been playing in La Liga for the longest in Sevilla’s jersey I think we should demand more, it’s not like he came from a different league, the guy all he thinks about once he cuts inside the box is shooting instead of passing.

    On a different note, who you think Pep’s choince as goalkeeper in case we face REAL MADRID in the final of the Copa???, since Pinto was his 1st choice of Copa games,but this is Real Madrid though I’d call for Valdez’s gloves for a game this magnitude.

    • barcacentralroger says:

      @Noureddine – I do agree that Adriano is not as good as we’d like by this stage – and perhaps had hoped considering that as you rightly note he has been in La Liga for a number of years – but at Sevilla he had license (or the expectation) to cut in and shoot from the edge of the area, whereas at Barca we want him to drift in with sharp one-twos with the forwards, something I think I started to see in Wednesday’s game. Not nearly there yet, but I think getting some game time will only improve him and in that sense perhaps Alves’s absence at a less crucial moment may be to our overall benefit (don’t quote me if we now suffer horribly from raids on the flanks from Forlan and Aguero!)

      Yes, very interesting point that you raise regarding the goalkeeping choice – Guardiola values principles above all other things. But does “all” include sticking it to Real?

      I think he’ll stick with Pinto but perhaps we should get a poll on the topic up?

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