Football Club Barcelona move to within one point of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga after an excellent 4-0 victory over Getafe. Alexis Sanchez scored twice with Leo Messi smashing home his 61st goal of the season in between and Pedro Rodriguez finished the scoring with his second goal this week. The strength of the cantera was demonstrated yet again as we finished the game with ten home grown players.
With just three first team defenders available Pep Guardiola went for an extremely attacking 3-4-3 formation. Puyol, Mascherano and Adriano formed the back line, our midfield diamond had Busquets as the defensive point, Xavi and Iniesta in front of him with Messi as the attacking point. Up front we played Cuenca and Pedro hugging the touchlines with Alexis as the target man. Early on as we saw Getafe revert to a very deep 4-5-1, Barça’s attacking formation looked perfectly logical.
Right from the start the game was played almost exclusively in the Getafe half. With just Miku as a lone forward Getafe lost the ball quickly almost every time they gained possession and any hopeful ball forward was anticipated by the magnificent Mascherano. There were early chances for Puyol with a header that was saved by Moya after a deflection, and for Iniesta with a low shot that was pushed round the post by the Getafe keeper.
The goal didn’t take long to come. In the 13th minute Iniesta lobbed the ball inside to Messi who chested the ball down into the path of Alexis who burst past his namesake in the Getafe defence before firing an unstoppable shot past Moya from the edge of the area. Barça incresed the tempo in search of a quick second. Pedro did well to stay on his feet after charging down a clearance and when Alexis played it back to him Pedro hit a low shot that Moya had to dive to his left to stop. Then a minute later there was controversy when Xavi thought he’d scored, Messi threaded an impossible pass through and Xavi flicked the ball over Moya but Diaz got back to clear the ball as it was crossing the line. Replays suggested the ball had just about crossed the line but it was very very close and extremely difficult for the officials to call.
Getafe had a brief spell where they created three corners in quick succession but the closest they came to scoring was with Ruben Perez’s shot after one of the corners was cleared but Mascherano managed to get in the way and the ball was deflected wide. Barça were soon back in control and Cuenca began to be used more. In the 32nd minute Messi played the ball out to the right and Cuenca whipped in a terrific low cross that found Alexis charging in at the far post but the Chilean stretched with his right leg when it looked easier with the left and he sent a great chance wide.
Messi was not having his easiest game with little room to work in, Pedro’s pass found him in a good position but Messi let the ball run to nobody. But it’s never a good idea to say that Messi is having an off day, just before half time Iniesta played the ball inside from the left, Messi spotted Iniesta’s forward run and slipped a swift pass forward, Iniesta on the edge of the area touched the ball off brilliantly, and just as he had done in Zaragosa Messi fired a cracker into the top corner.
Messi was booked early in the second half for using his hand to try and convert a cross. Not an action to be applauded but it just demonstrates the player’s desire for goals. Getafe had one more goal attempt in the 55th minute with a lob that bounced off the top of the crossbar but Valdés seemed to have it covered. Barça preferred to keep the ball and patiently move it from side to side and as Getafe began to tire we again looked to find Cuenca on the right. In the 73rd minute Messi played in Cuenca again but our youngster appeared to overhit with a poor first control, however, he raced to the line to cut back an old-fashioned winger’s cross and Alexis met the ball with a brilliant old-fashioned centre forward header that gave Moya no chance.
We made it four soon after with another header. Messi swung in a free kick from the right and Pedro, the smallest player on the pitch, rose to flick a header that looped over Moya into the far top corner. With the game won Guardiola brought on Montoya, Muniesa and Tello. The game ended as a stroll for Barça though there was one more moment of magic as Messi chased a ball out to the corner flag, then won a rebound off Torres and Rios before darting back into the penalty area and trying to chip Moya who got a touch and Alexis couldn’t quite reach the ball to score.
This was an excellent response from the team and Pep Guardiola deserves praise again for a motivational pre-match press conference where he said it was time for less laughter and more running. The message was clear: there is no room for any nonsense now and the players gave an extremely serious performance from start to finish. All eleven deserve praise today as there was really very little to criticise, however, I think Mascherano and Busquets were particularly good. Mascherano’s anticipation was superb as poor Miku hardly had a kick all night, while the intelligence of Busquets to play the role of midfield anchor combined with slipping into defence was very important.
In the post match press conference Pep Guardiola has indicated that Eric Abidal’s operation has finished and he asked for prudency as it is still too early to talk about the condition of the player. Camp Nou gave a massive ovation for Abidal in the 22nd minute. It’s the battle we really want to win today. Força Abi!
Barça: Valdés 7; Puyol 8, Mascherano 9 (Muniesa m83, –), Adriano 7.5 (Montoya m76, 6.5); Busquets 8.5, Xavi 7.5, Iniesta 7.5, Messi 8; Cuenca 8, Alexis 8.5, Pedro 7.5 (Tello m78, 6.5).
Getafe: Moyà; Torres, Cata Díaz, Alexis, Masilela, Ríos (Arroyo m89), Casquero, Juan Rodríguez (Barrada m68), Rubén Pérez, Diego Castro (Gavilan m68), Miku
Goals: m13 Alexis 1-0, m44 Messi 2-0, m73 Alexis 3-0, m75 Pedro 4-0.
Yellow card: m49 Messi.