Tito Vilanova’s Barça maintained their 100% league record tonight with a comfortable 1-4 win over Getafe at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez. With Real Madrid’s 1-0 defeat at Sevilla Barça now have an eight-point advantage over their main rival for La Liga. As against Valencia two weeks ago Adriano Correira opened the scoring, sweeping home in the 32nd minute after Cesc Fabregas’s run into the area, then substitutes Leo Messi, twice, and David Villa finished the job for Barça in the second half while Javier Mascherano scored an unfortunate own goal at the other end.
With Jordi Alba recovering from flu, the Fifa virus had already left Barça without Andrés Iniesta and Alexis Sanchez, but Vilanova considered it prudent to rest the three South Americans, Messi, Mascherano and Alves as they had all made long trips this week. It is also true that Alves has had some muscular problems in recent weeks while Messi has not had a minute’s rest so far this season, though it was interesting to see that Cesc Fabregas was given the “false nine” role, after his recent disappointing games in midfield. This also gave Thiago Alcantara a chance to come into midfield and start his first game after his long layoff with shin problems. The other decision of note was that Cristian Tello was again preferred over David Villa which leads one to wonder: when will Tito consider Villa to be ready? Or maybe Tito just wants to go even more cantera than Guardiola ever did as we started the game with ten home grown players with Adriano at left back being the only “outsider”.
Getafe began the game aggressively but it didn’t take long before Barça carved out a first chance with Tello going through on the left but as he tried to sidefoot for the far post Getafe keeper Moya got down well to his left to save. The referee Fernando Teixeira Vitienes had a complicated game with various shouts for penalties, the first for a hand ball from Miguel Torres as Pedro tried to go by the left back, then at the other end Colunga went down under pressure from Montoya, then not long after Fabregas went down struggling for the ball with Lopo but on each occasion the ref waved play on.
There was little danger in the Barça half though Colunga got one run with only Adriano to beat, for a moment memories of his sending off in Madrid came back, but this time Adriano won the ball cleanly. Generally Barça were controlling the ball very well with Xavi giving another lesson in how to maintain possession. On 25 minutes Xavi found Thiago who darted between two opponents before snapping in a shot from the edge of the area that hit the top of the crossbar before going over.
The warning signs were there for Getafe but Barça started to raise the rhythm. Tello sent in a low cross that evaded everybody, then Xavi got into the area after playing a 1-2 with Fabregas, the ball breaking to Adriano who lashed a shot over the bar. On 30 minutes Xavi drove one from 25 yards straight at Moya, then a couple of minutes later Xavi found Fabregas who ran into the area, went past Lopo, forcing right back Valera to come inside to intercept but the Getafe defender only suceeded in nudging Fabregas off the ball which ran on to Adriano who swept the ball home from about ten yards out.
Barça might have made it two a couple of minutes later when Tello’s centre reached Thiago who controlled well with his chest before stabbing in a shot that Moya did well to turn round his near post. There was then another penalty shout when the ball ricocheted up onto Puyol’s hand but it was the only scare in the remainder of the first half and we went in at half time 0-1 up.
It may have been worth remembering at half time that Madrid also led by a goal in their game here three weeks ago and Getafe came back in the second half to win 2-1. Getafe began the second half showing more ambition and in the 48th minute Diego Castro cut in from the right but his shot was sliced well wide. The only bad news of the night was an injury to Puyol’s left knee after stretching for a ball with Abdel Barrada. Our captain bravely played on for a couple of minutes before Mascherano replaced him, but he looks likely to be out for four to six weeks.
Tello had two chances within a couple of minutes, once his curler went just wide and Moya got down to his left to stop the other. Barça were dominating but lacking the finish and Vilanova called for Messi with half an hour to go. Messi was immediately involved forcing Michel into a foul that was punished with a yellow, then in the 66th minute Xavi sent Messi away only for Miguel Torres to slide in and bring him down, this time it looked a clear penalty but Teixeira Vitienes again ignored the appeal. Messi then found Tello in acres of space on the left and for once the winger didn’t look for the far post but Moya held his ground to block the shot.
Tello and Pedro then switched wings with Pedro coming to the left. In the 73rd minute Pedro turned Valero inside and then out forcing the full back to leave a heel out behind him which caught Pedro and the ref finally decided to point to the spot. Messi’s penalty kick was fairly central but Moya dived to his left and could only touch the ball with his trailing right hand and the ball carried over the line.
Finally there was breathing space and Villa came on for the last 15 minutes in place of Tello. In the 78th minute Messi could find no way through the middle but he managed to turn and maintain possession, the ball went from Xavi to Busquets to Pedro who played it on for the overlapping Montoya whose low cross took a slight deflection off Miguel Torres before arriving to Messi who had a simple tap in from three yards.
Getafe pulled a goal back after substitute Sarabia cut in from the right and shot, Adriano managed to get his toe in the way but the ball flew into Mascherano and took another wicked deflection that left Valdés completely stranded. Xavi Torres tried a hopeful shot from 25 yards that went well over but it was Barça who finished more strongly. In injury time Fabregas sent a glorious ball from the half way line for Villa to control with his chest before running on to fire in Barça’s fourth.
The victory is a definite show of authority to our rivals. It looked reasonably easy but we would do well to remember that distinguished coaches Pep Guardiola and José Mourinho have both lost on their last visit to Getafe’s Coliseum. I was worried that we might see another performance like the one at Osasuna where despite winning we played pretty poorly. However, even with all the changes and the Fifa virus we put out a team that dominated throughout. Lots of things to be pleased about: Adriano’s good form, Thiago’s return, Xavi’s masterclass and the goals for Messi and Villa come to mind, however, the two assists from Cesc Fabregas were probably the best news as hopefully they will serve to boost his confidence in the coming weeks. Madrid’s defeat at Sevilla is just the icing on the cake!
Next up it’s the Champions League on Wednesday with the visit of Spartak Moscow to Camp Nou.
Getafe: Moyá; Valera, Alexis, Abraham, Miguel Torres; Míchel, Xavi Torres; Abdel Barrada, Diego Castro, Pedro León (Sarabia m79); Colunga (Alvaro m60)
Barça: Valdés 7; Montoya 7, Piqué 7.5, Puyol 7 (Mascherano m57, 7), Adriano 8; Xavi 8.5, Busquets 7, Thiago 7.5 (Messi m59, 8); Pedro 7, Fabregas 7.5, Tello 6 (Villa m75, 7).
Goals: m32 Adriano 0-1, m74 Messi (pen) 0-2, m78 Messi 0-3, m80 Mascherano (o.g.) 1-3, m91 Villa 1-4.
Yellow cards: m23 Busquets, m38 Piqué, m61 Michel, m62 Valero.