Espanyol 1 Barça 1

A goal five minutes from the end from Espanyol substitute Alvaro Vazquez denied Barça the three points tonight in Cornellà leaving Real Madrid an advantage of five points at the top of La Liga. Cesc Fabregas had headed Barça in front early on with our 100th goal of the season, but we always struggled to control the game and Espanyol were rewarded for their effort with the late equalizer. We might have won the game in injury time but Gerard Piqué’s shot rebounded off the bar and then the referee failed to see that Pedro’s rebound was stopped by Raul Rodriguez’s raised arm.

We started with the same starting XI as at the Bernabeu with Alves forward wide on the right but soon Sergio Garcia had found space behind our defence on the left and his cross was met at the far post by Verdu whose header was splendidly saved by Valdés and then Piqué cleared Verdu’s rebound off the line. It was a definite early warning though we soon had the ball in the net though it was disallowed for a previous handball from Messi, then when Fabregas firmly headed in Alves’s cross after 16 minutes to put us in front it seemed as if Barça would take control. Espanyol keeper Cristian Alvarez might have done better but he was unsighted and not helped by Amat ducking out of the way of the ball.

However, the usual story of Barça settling down and controlling things didn’t happen. Victor Valdés was equal to Sergio Garcia’s effort and soon after Verdu fired over after Alves lost possession. The game was very open but we were not making chances, Alexis had little luck with his passes while Messi was strangely quiet, perhaps wondering about his speech tomorrow. Iniesta tried to get things moving but his shot, after exchanging passes with Alexis, went straight at the keeper. As we moved towards half-time Espanyol continued to cause us problems and we needed some last ditch defending from Puyol and Abidal to prevent Sergio Garcia and Verdu. Then just before the break Cesc turned 360º in the area but his shot failed to sneak between the post and Cristian’s boot. And then on the stroke of half time Romeric was fortunate to only see a yellow card after swinging for Piqué as they jumped for the ball.

In the second half it seemed as if we weren’t sure whether to go for a second goal or try to sit on our lead. Espanyol were still looking dangerous and we even had to rely on Xavi to get back and win a defensive header in front of Romeric. Pep pushed Alves further back though he was still able to get forward to nearly find Cesc with a through ball that went just too close to Cristian.

Pedro came on for Alexis and looked more dangerous on the left soon sending a ball across the goal that Messi could only fire back onto the outside of the post but at the other end Piqué had to make a good saving intervention in front of Thievy. Keita came on for Cesc with the intention of controlling things but a minute after the substitution Espanyol were level.  We were on the back foot and when the cross came in from Espanyol’s right Thievy headed on at the near post and Alvaro escaped Puyol¡s attentions to head home from close range.

Barça tried to react in the few remaining minutes with Piqué pushing up into attack. In injury time Messi sent Piqué into the area on the left and it looked like we might get the winner, however, Piqué’s shot cannoned off the crossbar and when Pedro fired in the rebound the ball was charged down by Raul Rodriguez. It was all very fast and obviously difficult for the referee to see but the replay showed the ball clearly struck Rodriguez’s raised arm.

The luck wasn’t with us but perhaps we didn’t deserve it today. There was talk this week about how Barça stay successful thanks to being able to maintain the hunger for trophies, though it should be admitted that Espanyol outfought us and showed more desire than we did today. Messi cannot be expected to save us every time though he was not himself tonight while Alexis also had a game he might rather forget. There is still a long long way to go in this Liga but the margin of error is getting to be extremely small now. If we fail to win the league this season I’m afraid I will be looking back at this game, and the 2-2 draw in Bilbao, as games where we dropped points basically because the other team wanted it more than we did.

Espanyol:  Cristian (Casilla m81); Amat, R.Rodríguez, H.Moreno, Dídac; Forlín, Romaric (Alvaro m64); Weiss (J. Lopez m45), Verdú, Thievy; S.Garcia.

Barça: Valdés 6.5; Puyol 6, Piqué 7, Abidal 6.5; Busquets 6, Xavi 7, Iniesta 6.5; Cesc 7.5 (Keita m85, –); Alves 6, Messi 6, Alexis 5.5 (Pedro m72, 6.5).

Goals: m16 Fabregas 0-1, m86 Alvaro 1-1

Yellow cards: m14 Messi, m45 Romeric, m69 Rodriguez,, m76 Alvaro, m84 S. Garcia, m90 Amat, m93 Casilla.

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11 Responses to Espanyol 1 Barça 1

  1. Caleb says:

    ouch…

  2. Hi, Nic and followers: do you know other cases like Espanyol? That is, a team who considers that the most important match in the championship is the match against a historic rival. I think that Espanyol save a half of season (or perhaps all the season) with this match.
    I think that’s clearly different that the traditional Barça-Madrid rivalry.
    Anyway, I’m very worried about the final result of the Liga. We will live –the people who are dwelling in Spain- a boring week with the comments of journalists of Madrid newspapers. I’m listening now their boring jeering: “the change of the cycle has arrived, the change of the cycle is here…”

    • barcacentralnic says:

      Hi Joan, I think it is much more typical to find fierce rivalries between teams from the same city, or between teams from neighbouring cities than cases like the Barça-Madrid rivalry where there are 600km between the cities. It is not surprising that teams that are not used to winning much put so much importance on the derby game. But I think you are forgetting that for many years in the 60s, 70s and 80s this was the situation for culés and the attitude to derbies with Madrid.
      As for the “change of cycle” I think it is a bit pathetic really. Real Madrid can consider themselves superior when they start beating us on a regular basis. It’s going to look strange at the end of the season if RM win La Liga but lose both clasicos. Unfortunately it will only add support to the ” referee conspiracy theorists” who already have plenty of statistics regarding penalties to support their arguments.

  3. bc9jaCulé says:

    At the end of it all, it’s just another tense fixture with an unfortunate result — what with the blind and envious referees officiating our liga games this season. They always see these penalties when Madrid’s playing but pretend to see nothing when it’s us. They (the referees) are so darned determined to ensure that we drop some crucial points. What they fail to realise is that their Madrid-oriented efforts will soon be rubbished and paralyzed when Madrid begin dropping serious points and we’ll top the table again.

    Although, I must emphasize that Messi, especially, surprised me last night. He must be so preoccupied with the thought of the FIFA gala tonight. He wasn’t even focused all through the match but as you said, we can’t always expect him to be our saviour. What ultimately hurts me is that no team in Laliga puts up such fights against Madrid like Espanyol did against us last night. Well, I just pray we beat Madrid to ALL the titles come May.

    Visca Barça!!!
    Força Barça!!!

  4. barcacentralenrique says:

    credit to espanyol and pochettino, lets be honest. as bc9jaCulé referred to above, and as I did in the preview, this is Espanyol’s champions leage final, they give it their absolute all and last night was no different. sometimes the other team just has more intensity and sheer passion, and its very difficult to rise up and match that. i dont think thats saying we didnt show desire, particularly fabregas was fighitng hard, but it didnt go our way tonight and our attacks were being shut down.

    that being said, im in a lesser mood for forgiveness because of the trend. dropping away all these points on our travels will be our achilles heel, and the number of slip ups have become worrying. we just have to kill off games, and i think pep and the team know that. alexis and pedro need to come ot the party and regain proper form. not 1 nice piece of play in between, but being consistent threats and positive contributers. we really are missing pedro’s clinical and well timed finishes.

    another point from bc9jaCulé i was also going to discuss was the annoying fact other teams don’t rise like this against madrid. i mean seriously, i look at the way atletico cower like losers everytime they face madrid is pathetic, i would love madrid to have a proper city rivalry.

    the ref did annoy me though with the handball inconsistency. referees are just not reliable in general which is such a shame. i know the shot was fast but if i can see it on the tv i dont see why they cant in the game. messi got a yellow card for a doubtful intentional handball, this at the very least was a foul and therefore penalty. not an excuse though, but nevertheless it will be important.

    5 points is a lot, assuming we rise at the camp nou and win, and we are perfect till then, 2 points. i jjust cannot see madrid winning each and every game from now till the 38th, but saying that, we have become obliged to attempt that feat and take advantage of any slip up.

    long way to go, but 3 points tonight would really have gone down much better.

  5. FCB-Parbo says:

    Wow, I’m a little sad with the result. I know that Espanyol always put their highest effort against us, but so ridiculously when they meet against RM. Pep knows that and the team too. But we know we can’t count on them to take points away of RM, we have to put our own effort. There was little understanding between our players. And what’s wrong with Messi. He seemed so uninterested and didn’t even try to fight. I know we can’t always count on him, but if he only had tried. Oh, RM are celebrating now and it will be so annoying. I hope the other teams will fight against RM like they do against us. I still believe that sooner or later Madrid will drop points (at least I’m hoping for that), coz right now they are not playing like they used to at the start of the season.

    Sorry, but as much as I like Messi I would give him a 5,because he didn’t fight with his heart. Still love the team though.

  6. Hilal says:

    The officiating in this game was disgusting. While Espanyol played an exceptional game and we were sub par the fact remains that the ref has a job to do and he botched it. The same ref that dissalowed a goal for a handball didnt give a penalty for a far more blatant hand ball. It could quite easily be argued that the ball that hit Messi’s hand bounced off his leg and he didnt do it on purpose (even though he got a yellow) but on the opposite end their defender uses his hand in the most blatant way right in front of goal and it isnt called? Come on. Thats just not right.

    All that being said, 5 points is nothing really, especially since we will beat them when they come to our house in April.

  7. Ian Adams says:

    It always kills me to watch Barca mess it up and play badly. Refereeing was terrible but we should still be able to beat Espanyol! After all, its not like they’re Madrid or some other team who’s actually good. Messi just seemed disjointed, Alexis was almost entirely useless, but in reality the whole team wasn’t really clicking. I’m now getting slightly worried about the league. Yes, we’ll beat Madrid again (unless we play like we did in the first minute the whole game) but they’ve looked so good against the normal league teams it’s going to be hard to get ahead.

    Visca Barca!!
    Forca Barca!!

  8. Pingback: Preview: FC Barcelona vs Espanyol (game 18 liga 2012/13) | barçacentral

  9. Pingback: Preview: FC Barcelona vs Espanyol (game 18 liga 2012/13) | barçacentral

  10. Pingback: Preview: FC Barcelona vs Espanyol (game 18 liga 2012/13) | barçacentral

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