I’m not exactly sure how to start this off. Up until the 88th minute I was going to say we got 3 points with relatively no fuss. But then, this trend of complacency and missed chances resulted in Getafe getting an 88th minute goal from Manu and us honestly scrambling to finish the game with the 3 points. Getafe had two decent sights on goal and if we had thrown away those 2 points, it would have been the most shameful and pathetic result in Guardiola’s era. Johan Cruyff said midweek that people are overreacting to amount of chances we are missing, but, I somewhat disagreed then and after tonight I disagree strongly.
So it started, and once again, as annoying as it is, the game plan of our opposition was as clear as it was predictable. Get use to it guys, we are barely going to get an open/”fair” game anymore, all teams are going to sit deep, defend with 9, and then hope for the counter attack or longball. Still, we started the half well and despite having to be patient in our build up, we were getting through enough. Messi, who essentially plays a freerole these days, started the game off picking up the ball very deep, but the consequence of this, is that his late runs into the box are more difficult to mark. In the 8th minute that strategy nearly worked when Xavi put Messi through with an excellent lobbed pass, and our little genius nearly scored a pearl of a goal when he tried to bicycle kick it past Codina. Luckily for Getafe, their goalie rushed out well and blocked the shot.
A minute later we had another decent chance when a through ball to Villa was somehow not collected by Codina, but the effort from the cut-back was not well utilized.
Still, despite barely having a touch for most the first 15 minutes, Getafe put a decent spell of possession together (which our crowd was not enjoying) and it finished with a very decent chance for Arizmendi, that he thankfully squandered.
However, we did get the breakthrough in the 17th minute, and it was with some style. We are treated to many wonderful team goals, full of clever touches and smart finishes, but we are not treated to a large amount of just cracker goals. Well, tonight we were. After an unsuccessful corner kick, we put in another rather hopefully ball into the area, and Cata Diaz cleared it with a header. The ball came towards Dani Alves and you could tell immediately he had no other idea but to give the ball a proper crack and to my surprise, he hit the half volley perfectly and it swerved with venom into the far corner. Simply an awesome strike.
Just a few minutes later, I was again surprised, this time that we did not make it 2-0. Villa got the ball on the left side, cut in sharply, and Cata Diaz left a trailing leg in the tackle and made no contact on the ball whatsoever. Personally, I think there was enough for a penalty there. But, it was not called. However, as Getafe tried to clear from that incident, Iniesta robbed them and fed Messi on the right who was all alone. Now, for some reason he didn’t just slot it past Codina, which seemed the easy option. Instead he tried to dribble the keeper and cut the angle rather tight and his right footed effort was to lateral and not on target. It however fell to Villa on the left, but he hit it high and wide. The word unclinical again came to mind.
In the 22nd minute the crowd applauded for 60 seconds in support of Abidal. This was an awesome gesture as were the t-shirts we wore before the game started.
Between the 28th and 32nd minute we had a few more chances. Pique got a header off a corner, Villa had another penalty claim (that he was booked for diving, and in honestly, he did play for it), and finally after a smart dummy from Iniesta a shot from Villa from the left was blocked by a flying defensive tackle.
But, despite the fact, nearly every comment above was chances for us, we nearly conceded in the 33rd minute and it highlighted ever so brightly the need to score more than one. A cross form the right side came in, Pique slipped but as he did touched the ball into the path of Casquero. Lucky for us, his shot was far from convincing and Victor Valdes was in the right place to make another very important and timely save.
We had two more chances before the half. In the 36th minute Alves cut the ball back perfectly for Xavi, but his shot from the edge of the box just went wide. And juset before half time, Villa had a good chance. He had been trying to make early runs all night but was not getting the pass he craved. Finally, Pique spotted the run, played a lovely long ball towards him, and eventually the ball did fall in the box for Villa, but he lashed the shot into the side netting. So, halftime, still 1-0, but really, we again should have had at least 2.
At least it only took 4 minutes to get that second goal. Messi played Bojan in on the right, he checked on to his left got, had a strike, and a wicked deflection of Cata Diaz gave Codina no chance. This proves that having a shot on goal, not trying that extra impossible pass, allows you to have these fortunate moments.
In the 56th minute, we missed another chance (shocking huh?). Iniesta played a wonderful pass through the defense to compliment Villa’s perfectly timed run, and our number 7 was clear through on goal. Incredibly though, he tried to square it for Messi instead of just opening up his body and slotting it into the far corner, something Villa has done 100eds of times. Some point to these moments as a sign the striker lacks confidence. In truth, the option to an open Messi was not bad, the execution just was. Instead of getting some outward swerve on the pass it was too straight and Codina could smother it.
But just 2 minutes later Villa gets no such leniency; he just flat out squandered a sitter. He got the ball at the top of the box, turned nicely to be facing the goalie, but his shoot was both weak and directly at Codina. I could not help but shake my head in disappointment.
From then on to the end it was the same story, chances, half chances, and one chance for Getafe. Our opposition were putting in plenty last ditch tackles or interceptions to stop us, but, we are missing a very real ruthlessness and cutting edge going forward.
Then, as the introduction mentioned, Getafe pulled one back in the 88th minute through a smart sidefooted volley finish by Manu from a cross. And in a game we for 88 minutes essentially strolled through, had to scramble and hold our breath.
Honestly, I’m annoyed right now. We are being wasteful, plain and simple. Mess around and stroll about when you’re up 3 or 4, but until then, get serious and finish your chances. Villa’s form is not encouraging and it’s rather ridiculous he didn’t score tonight. I think for the most part we were good but those final 5 minutes really irked me. The only special mention I feel like giving is to Mascherano. Anyway, 3 points in the bag. No Barça now until after this international break. Real are away to their city rivals, but in honestly, I have next to no faith in Atletico pinching some points. In recent history, they have been gutless and useless against Real.
Ratings – Valdes 8, Alves 7.5, Pique 6.5, Milito 7, Adriano 7.5, Xavi 7, Mascherano 8, Iniesta 7.5 (80min Afellay 6), Bojan 7 (67min Keita 6), Messi 7, Villa 6 (90+ Jeffren 6)