Barça 5 Levante 0

Barça gave a show of strength tonight with another Camp Nou manita which keeps us within sight of Real Madrid going into next week’s clásico. Cesc Fabregas got us on the road to victory with two goals and Isaac Cuenca added a third before half time. Second half goals from Leo Messi and Alexis Sanchez take our home record in the league now to a remarkable 39 goals scored with none conceded.

A week before the Bernabeu and Pep Guardiola returned to a defence of three, and it is beginning to look clear that Puyol, Mascherano andAbidal are his preferred three when we do play three at the back. The downside of this of course is that Dani Alves doesn’t fit in so easily and today he began on the bench. However, the 3-4-3 system is the one that best suits Cesc Fabregas and it didn’t take long for Cesc to make his presence felt. After just three minutes Busquets squared the ball to Messi 40 yards out, Messi quickly moved the ball forward and Iniesta played a clever flick that found its way through to Fabregas just outside the area, Cesc received in space and turned, he then shaped to curl one for the far popst before whipping a low shot that beat Munua inside his near post.

Levante were not immediately disheartened and Valdés had to stretch to reach Iborra’s header while Kone showed himself to be quite a handful for our defence early on. But while we may not have looked quite so solid defensively we looked great going forward. Isaac Cuencawas back in the side and showing his skill as an out-and-out right winger though sometimes his crossing was not so good tonight. In the fifteenth minute his centre seemed to be too deep until Messi controlled the ball brilliantly to set up Iniesta who shot over.

We were putting Levante under lotsof pressure, there was one electric run from Messi that led to a corner, Carles Puyol might have done better when Munua failed to hold Messi’s shot, and Javi Venta was booked after bringing down Alexis after a good pass from Cuenca. It was not long after this that Cuencamoved to the left side where he remained for the rest of the game while Alexis, Messi and Cesc interchanged positions at will. As soon as Cuenca had moved to the left he was fouled by Ballesteros who was also booked. Xavi flighted over the free kick and Fabregas timed his run perfectly and sent a flicked header into the top corner.

Soon after this Puyol had to go off seemingly with a bit of concussion after a clash of heads with Kone. Alves came on and almost immediately sent the ball forwardto Messi on the right, Messi cut inside and as the defence were all drawn towards him he pushed the ball on to Iniesta who again supplied the slightest touch to send the ball onto the left were Cuencawas free and he finished coolly with a low strike inside the far post. At the back we were still having a few problems and in the 38th minute Kone received from the left but with a decent chance failed to beat Valdés who then pounced on the loose ball as Alves came in to assist.

Pep Guardiola had made a controversial decision by playing Sergio Busquets despite him being just one booking away from suspension and Busquets responded with an excellent first 45 minutes. However, there was no need to take the risk any further and Keita came on at half time. We continued to dominate with a chance for Cesc after a one-two with Alexis on the right, however, we again showed our weakness defending corners and Valdés had to get across to his post to save Del Horno’s header. This sort of action mattered little tonight as we could have conceded without it making any difference but it is still a weakness we must work on. As it happened we went straight up the other end and scored, Alves playing in Messi inside the area and Messi controlled and finished with typical efficiency. However, Messi wasn’t so good a few minutes later when he failed to get proper contact on Cuenca’s return pass. But on the hour Barça scored the fifth and it was the best of the game. Eric Abidal found himself crowded in by the corner flag but he managed to find a pass up the line which Alexis flicked on to Messi who played the ball on to Xavi on the right, Xavi quickly played the ball back to Messi who changing the direction of the attack found Alexis spurting into the area, Alexis controlled and got in a shot that took a slight deflection off Del Horno’s back before finding its way in off the underside of the bar.

The last half hour was somewhat uneventful in comparison to the first hour but Pedro came on and looked lively while Alexis had a good finish to the game. Messi should have scored from close range but mishit his volley after Alexis had flicked on Xavi’s corner and with just a couple of minute to go Iniesta had a goal disallowed but somebody will have to tell me why. A defender mishit the ball and when the ball came down Iniesta judged it well to volley into the far corner. I’m really not sure why the goal was disallowed but if it was for offsifde the officials were clearly mistaken as the ball came from an opponent. In the very last minute Valdés earned himself a stupid yellow card for protesting to the ref. It won’t affect him playoing in the Bernabeu but he may come to regret it if he reaches five yellows this season.

Overall it was a splendid performance which will do us good going into next week’s game. There is the fascinating possibility that we may go to the Bernabeu and play a defence of three. I have to admit I have not thought it likely before as the three-man back line is usually to play opponents who play a two-man attack. However, Levante played a 4-2-3-1 and we still played the 3-4-3 successfully, though I think if we do go for the 3-4-3 then we may well see tonight’s starting XI again which could see Alves sacrificed. It’s a tough one to call but this week we will talk more about possible line-ups and formations for the Clásico, of course we have the Champions League game with BATE first but as the points don’t matter in that game I’m sure our attention from now until next Saturday will be 100% devoted to preparing to beat Madrid.

Barça: Valdés 7.5; Mascherano 7.5, Puyol 7 (Alves m36, 7) Abidal 6.5; Busquets 8 (Keita m45, 7), Xavi 7.5, Iniesta 7.5, Fabregas 8 (Pedro m72, 7); Cuenca 7, Messi 7.5, Alexis 7.5.

Goals: m4 Fabregas 1-0, m33 Fabregas 2-0, m37 Cuenca 3-0, m55 Messi 4-0, m61 Alexis 5-0.

Barça yellow cards: m45 Fabregas, m91 Valdés

Attendance: 79,361

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10 Responses to Barça 5 Levante 0

  1. Caleb says:

    Great game. I watched the Madrid game too, today (something I don’t usually do). To be honest, they did not look impressive. Marcelo with the ball seems like he’ll be a handful. Beyond that no one was great and Madrid’s first goal was so soft. If they hadn’t been gifted it they well may have started getting quite worried about winning. Maybe Madrid is usually better, but what I saw today made me feel pretty confident about next week.

    We were really strong today. A bit of defensive frailty, yes, but our attack was really good. I knew from the team selection that we were going to see a lot of great passing and very few turnovers. Every player in attack had great foot skills and good decision making.

    Hopefully Puyol is alright because he’s huge for us in the Classico. Mentally he gives us a big boost.

    Anyway I don’t want to start thinking too much about next week as it will start to affect my sleep.

    This was a great game to play before next week. Good performance.

  2. Babatunde abiodun says:

    To be honest we were brilliant and with the way we played the match show why we are stil the best irrespective what table tells,i watched madrid match too,nothing special about madrid,i assure u barca fan,coming next week we will win the clasico

  3. FCBarcelonaRocks! says:

    Can u fell this ?? This will be our anthem at the Bernabeu !!

  4. FCBarcelonaRocks! says:

    *feel*

  5. titi186 says:

    Nice report guys. Im still not convinced about this 3-4-3. I know it suits Cesc but Cesc was one of the best in the Premier League in a 4-5-1/4-3-3 with Arsenal so its not like he doesn’t play well in Barca’s old system. I think we’ve become a lot more vulnerable and top heavy and the constant change of formation means when we go away the team looks lost at times and it has cost us a lot already this season.

    Ahhhhhhh I have time off next week and want to go to the Classico so badly lol

    How does ticketing work with Real Madrid ?

    I know that Barca release some before the game for people who have given up their tickets but Im not sure with Real. I’d love to go as I can see Messi getting a golazo 8)

  6. Simon Harris says:

    Great performance against Levante but as far as the Madrid game’s concerned … 3-4-3 or 4-3-3.
    If it’s 3-4-3, Alves (and Pique) seems to be the victim, but as Cuenca and Alexis both play so wide, he’s hardly needed in attack. And having two wingers, leaves plenty of space for a double false 9 of Messi and Cesc.
    Problem is that Levante are one thing and Madrid are quite a different propostion, Alves is so good at getting the play back up the other end and Madrid are going to come out. They also play quite wide, so a 3-man defence feels a bit risky to me … and Busquets is going to have his work cut out dealing with the very tasty Di Maria!

  7. FCB-Parbo says:

    Great great performance and it has been a long time we’ve seen that. Alexis is gelling so well with his teammates and especially Messi. He is working so hard at defense and attack. I am so excited about de classico. We will win, (we have to believe in the team right?)but it wouldn’t surprise me if RM will play very defensively to protec their lead, even at home turf. As they always see a draw against us as a victory.

    Viva Barça !!!
    Forca Barça !!!

  8. DAYYIB-SM says:

    finally i am here ….. i missed barcacentral…. once again i am here to see barca…. i always watch barca but due to my busy i can’t share my opinion here once i did at fcbarcanews.com

    any way we are behind the team what ever happens on saturday…hope to ruin them…unpredictable but the win is on the way……barca barca barca will win…

  9. 5-0 to visit Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. We´re going to live a very interesting match. Barça will have to do its best (again) there. This time even more.

    Real Madrid is able to beat any team in just a single attack. I think Barça can´t do the same. The team defends itself by attacking in the rival court. But once the team is exceeded, they suffer a lot. And Real Madrid knows how to play these actions.

    Let´s see if Barcelona won´t miss the Liga next week.

  10. Pingback: Preview: FC Barcelona vs Levante (game 32 liga 2012/13) | barçacentral

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