Barça’s final preseason game before next weekend’s start to the 2012/13 Liga, ended with a 0-2 victory against FC Dinamo Bucureşti in Bucharest tonight. Leo Messi opened the scoring with the first shot of the game and Ibi Afellay added the second with the last shot just before the final whistle. However, the best news of the night was the return of both David Villa and Andreu Fontás after eight and seven months out, respectively.
Right from the start the difference in class between the two sides was pretty clear to see. Barça took the lead after just three minutes after Alexis won a ball that Messi had just lost and swiftly sent the ball back to the Argentinian who controlled with one touch before firing low into the far corner from just inside the area. Alexis looking active on the left set up Messi with another golden chance in the twelfth minute but Messi mishit his shot well over from near the penalty spot.
However, after this chance, despite some very nice possession play we didn’t create another decent chance until Messi and Cesc combined well in the 29th minute but Messi’s shot was again off target. Then a minute later Busquets sent a pass out to Alexis who had switched to the right, and his dangerous low cross was put out for a corner by a defender. Xavi sent the corner to the near post where Busquets headed it on but Alexis at the far post failed to get enough power on his header.
Alexis continued to show a lot of involvement with a volley wide after a good control on his chest and turn. Pedro, on the other side of attack, had been much quieter, then in the 38th minute he combined well with Alba but when Alba pulled his cross back Pedro sent his shot wide of the far post.
Messi was still the main danger though and in the 40th minute he went past one before firing in a good shot that the keeper turned round the post for a corner. Then before half time Messi nearly sent a dangerous return pass to Alba but as our new signing ran into the area he bumped into Pedro who found he couldn’t get out of the way.
As against Manchester United on Wednesday Tito Vilanova made six changes at half time and our play failed to find the same easy flow as in the first half. Dinamo had their best effort of the game in the 51st minute with a header from a corner and it wasn’t until the 59th minute that we came close again when Iniesta’s lob over the goalkeeper went just too high. We then made three more substitutions and despite Tello making an immediate chance for Afellay who shot against a defender our game became more disorganised. Dinamo had a series of half chances without testing Valdés too much though our keeper did make one poorly timed run out of the side of his area which ended with him bringing an opponent down. In an official game he would almost certainly have been booked for this action.
Villa got his chance to come on after 73 minutes and he looked keen on the left wing. However, the best of the subs was probably Rafinha who looked very active in the last 15 minutes after coming on for Messi. In the 83rd minute he squared for Afellay to shoot from just outside the area and the keeper had to beat the ball away with his fists. Afellay has not had a lot of luck in the preseason but in injury time Mascherano sent a ball over the top and he controlled well before finishing with a difficult lob over the keeper.
I have to admit that only five preseason games does not seem many to prepare for a new season but at least we haven’t undergone any of the money-making trips to Asia or the US so our players should be in good shape. Unfortunately Valdés, Piqué, Iniesta, Busquets, Fabregas and Pedro have all been called up by Vicente Del Bosque for Wednesday’s pointless friendly game in Costa Rica. What the Spanish Football Federation hope to gain from this game I have no idea, but to have such a journey just before the start of the league season will only be detrimental to the players involved and their clubs. Our next game is the opening league game at home to Real Sociedad on Sunday 19th.
Barça: Valdés; Alves (Montoya m45), Piqué (Mascherano m45), Bartrá (Fontás m63), Alba (Adriano m45); Xavi (Ilie m63), Busquets (Sergi Roberto m45 (Villa m73)), Fabregas (Iniesta m45); Pedro (Tello m63), Messi (Rafinha m77), Alexis (Afellay m45).
Goals: m4 Messi 0-1, m92 Afellay 0-2.