FC Barcelona 2 Malaga 2 (Copa del Rey quarter final first leg)

barcelona 2-2 malaga thiagoBarça and Malaga go into next Thursday’s second leg at La Rosaleda all square after a 2-2 draw at Camp Nou tonight. A mistake by Thiago Alcántara after 25 minutes allowed Manuel Iturra to put Malaga into a surprise lead but Barça responded quickly with an extraordinary goal from Leo Messi who presented his four Ballon d’Ors to the crowd before the game. Then a minute after Messi’s golazo, Carles Puyol headed Barça in front from a corner but Barça couldn’t add to the lead. Despite being reduced to ten men for the last fifteen minutes Malaga stole an equalizer in the 89th minute through Nacho Camacho.

On the day Pep Guardiola’s move to Bayern Munich was confirmed – proving me horribly wrong about his going to England – there were also a lot more changes to both teams than I had expected. Barça made eight changes while Malaga made seven with only Mascherano, Iniesta, Messi, Sergio Sanchez, Weligton, Eliseu and Camacho starting both at La Roseleda on Sunday and tonight at Camp Nou.

messi four ballon d'orAs in the league clash between the sides on Sunday tonight’s game began at a terrific pace. Messi didn’t take long to demonstrate his immense class. After just four minutes he chested Iniesta’s pass down to Thiago and then responded brilliantly to Thiago’s touch to loop a pass over the Malaga defence for Thiago to run on to but Thiago’s lob over Kameni didn’t have the strength to reach the line and Weligton cleared off the line. Two minutes later Messi sent a stunningly good pass for Tello to center from the left of the area, the low cross gave Alexis a golden chance but the Chilean forward couldn’t keep the ball down and hit it over the bar.

Alexis wasn’t discouraged, showing one devastating turn to start a break with a forty yard burst forward. Thiago was looking busy, sending in a dangerous cross that Sergio Sanchez nearly headed in his own goal, and bringing roars of approval with one delicious spin in midfield. However, despite the whirlwind first minutes it was becoming clear that Malaga were again going to be a difficult foe. They were offering practically nothing going forward but their defence was looking very organised and well-protected by the energetic Camacho, Iturra and Seba in midfield. Barça remained patient and continued to try and find openings. In the 19th minute Iniesta robbed the ball and quickly found Messi who showed electric acceleration to go past two opponents but he was off balance and shooting with his right foot and sent the ball well wide.

At this point of the game the script was pretty much as might have been expected. Then as on Sunday the deadlock was broken by an awful mistake by a promising young midfielder. At La Rosaleda it was Camacho who gifted Messi the chance to put Barça ahead, tonight it was Thiago who had gone back to receive the ball from Pinto but he got caught trying to turn by Iturra who had a clean run at goal and slotted the ball firmly past Pinto.

barcelona 2-2 malaga messi goalBarça’s reaction was astonishing and within five minutes we were in front. In the 29th minute Messi treated us to a flashback to his early years with a glorious charge up the right wing, hurdling challenges on the way, and then when it looked as though Weligton had got across to cover, Messi stole the ball with the guile of pickpocket, darted into the area and beat Kameni inside the far post to bring the house down. I wonder if Messi was remembering Weligton’s off-the-ball assault in 2009 as he celebrated the goal – I certainly was. Just a minute later Barça won a corner on the left. Thiago sent in the cross which was met by Puyol who was moving away from the goal but managed to flick a magnificent header that looped in off the far post.

barcelona 2-2 malaga puyol goalBarça had good momentum now and we looked for a third. Adriano and Iniesta made one burst into the area at brutal speed but Kameni was out to block. Then it was Tello who found Adriano overlapping and the Brazilian’s cross found Alexis at the far post but for the second time in the game the finish was poor and the ball ended up in the crowd. Alexis showed his frustration by kicking the publicity board but to be fair it was nowhere near as easy a chance as it seemed with the ball bouncing just before arriving to him. However, his run of luck in front of goal is becoming worrying.

After a splendid first half the second period was somewhat disappointing. Barça had the ball but besides a shot from Adriano and another from Messi, Kameni had little to do. The first attacks from Malaga began to appear sporadically with Saviola having a first shot blocked by Puyol and then hooking over from the resulting corner. Eliseu had moved to the right wing in the second half and he forced Pinto into a couple of saves and then in the 70th minute Pinto had to react very well to stop Seba’s powerful volley.

Vilanova reacted by bringing on Fabregas and Pedro and within half a minute of coming on Fabregas sent a tremendous long pass for Pedro who would have had a clear run through if he hadn’t been clipped by Monreal who was shown a straight red card by referee Jose Luis Gonzalez Gonzalez. Xavi came on to try and make a difference as Barça searched for a third goal. Pedro was denied by a last ditch tackle by Sergio Sanchez, and Xavi curled one wide from 25-yards.

Then with the clock close to 89 minutes, Duda lofted a free kick into the area, Puyol, Mascherano and Song all lost the flight of the ball and Adriano was outbustled by Camacho who got in free at the far post to half-volley past Pinto. Fabregas had a final attempt with a header from Messi’s corner but the ball drifted wide of the far post with Pedro arriving just too late.

barcelona 2-2 malaga alexis missNo doubt there will be a lot of flak for Alexis after his misses, and it is going to be a tough test for the Chilean to get over this bad run and prove he can be a star at Camp Nou. I liked Alexis a lot in his first season and it was always clear he was not a great goalscorer. The problem here is: that’s precisely what he should be. He has skill, he has speed and he makes excellent runs which get him into scoring positions, but his finishing recently has been woeful. Despite my desire to see more of David Villa I am pleased that Vilanova continues to show confidence in Alexis, patience is needed with new players and Alexis has shown he has enough quality to be at the club. However, there are some at Camp Nou who have less patience and the last thing we want to hear are whistles and boos for our own players.

The other negative point tonight was the error from Thiago, who was also caught in possession in our half in the second half. He has so much talent that he can undoubtedly fill Xavi’s boots when he retires, but he needs to learn from the great man about not losing the ball. I imagine Vilanova will put out a stronger team for next week’s second leg which is sure to be tough. A draw tonight is not the end of the world. Hopefully it will prove as a warning for future games.

Barça: Pinto 6.5; Montoya 6.5, Mascherano 6.5, Puyol 7.5, Adriano 6.5; Thiago 5.5 (Xavi m78, 6), Song 6.5, Iniesta 7.5; Alexis 5 (Pedro m74, 6.5), Messi 7.5, Tello 6.5 (Fabregas m74, 7).

Malaga: Kameni; Gamez, Sergio Sanchez, Weligton, Eliseu; Camacho, Iturra; Portillo (Monreal m45), Buonanotte (Duda m68), Seba; Saviola (Santa Cruz m65).

Goals: m25 Iturra 0-1, m29 Messi 1-1, m30 Puyol 2-1, m89 Camacho 2-2.

Yellow cards: m10 Alexis, m33 Messi, m38 Eliseu, m93 Seba.

Red Card: m75 Monreal.

Attendance: 55,151

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8 Responses to FC Barcelona 2 Malaga 2 (Copa del Rey quarter final first leg)

  1. Pingback: FC Barcelona 2 Malaga 2 (Copa del Rey quarter final first leg) « Views From The Bullpen

  2. ewe_gb says:

    I agree to disagree with you nic on alexis: I just don’ see any bright barca future for him and it is beyond my grasp that he got preferred to villa that often. today he had to score at least one goal and after all he is a striker who are supposed to strike regularly.

    and then I suppose that tonight’s line-up was not good enough to replicate sunday’s game. song is no busquets – he was decent enough, still busquets is probably the best in his position worldwide.

    thiago had to less support and was quite overwhelmed by the responsibility with no xavi, fabregas, busquets or even sergi roberto to support him.

    all in all a bad performance overall – maybe at the right moment before expectations are getting to high and we – as supporters – start to believe that all titles are reserved for barca this season.

  3. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    Good right up Nic. Overall, i have to mention 2 things that i think we should learn from last night’s game. 1 has already been mentioned by ewe-gb above. Song is no Busquets. Song is a very good player. Has the power and adds muscle to the team. Song is also good at his passing range. Good supporting the attack. I am fast seeing him as a box to box sort of midfielder. Song can’t be relied on to shoot from far and although he possess pretty decent defensive capabilities, he can’t anticipate and cut of the opponents attack in the manner of Busquets. His composure level is also not as good as Busquets. Song’s advantage over Busquets will be his better pace and muscle power.

  4. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    Next, i must mention that i just like Nic AM ABSOLUTELY worried about Alexis Sanchez’s lack of composure infront of goal. Regardless of him deployed in wide areas most often,,,A forward in this Barcelona team is expected to atleast hit 10-15 goals a season. No??

    I love the part that Sanchez is very hardworking. I enjoyed a few runs he made during his time at Barcelona since the beginning. However i seem to notice the fact that Sanchez is very one footed. He always takes the ball to his right before making a dribble…..hardly seems to use his left at all and in alot of occasions even his runs seems very predictable. PLS CAN SOMEBODY CORRECT ME IF I’M WRONG PLS?? DOES ANYBODY NOTICE THIS AS WELL??

    I have another interesting summary to make. With all the qualities that Sanchez has, WOULD anybody prefer even ADRIANO in a wide forward role as compared to him?? Here’s my rational. Adriano is equally hardworking as compared. Has a good pace. Better shooting capabilities. Can shoot from distance. Can combine well, can pass the ball well. Good in his dribble. More 2 footed. NO?? DO I ACTUALLY HAVE A POINT HERE?? Can somebody tell me if i’m talking silly here??

    • barcacentralnic says:

      Adriano is certainly an option in attack and Guardiola used him there a few times last season. However, I think Villa, Alexis and Tello, (and with Cuenca another possibility soon if we don’t loan him out),should offer enough back-up to what seems to be working as our best line-up at the moment which is with Pedro-Messi-Iniesta as the three forwards.

  5. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    Finally about the overall performance of the team, i enjoyed how we played in the first 35 minutes. We were absolutely electric. It was hard to imagine that we will fail to win this match in the first half an hour.

    However, right from the beginning, i had my doubts over the defensive balance of the team. Busquets was not around. Song is good, but he will need a CM that can help him out with his defense as well. Xavi is excellent in getting the ball out from dangerous positions with so much style. The same can’t be said about Thiago. Atleast not yet, at the current moment. Thiago is will make a good attacking midfielder, but he still has to improve on his defensive part of the game. That error he made that gifted the first goal to Malaga is an error that wish not to see again from him or any other Barcelona 1st team players in the future.

    My question now is, did Tito pick well enough?? I felt that he somewhat got the balance wrong on this encounter. If he played Song as DM, he should atleast put Xavi alongside Iniesta in midfield. Or perhaps a Fabregas, Song, Xavi midfield…or even a Busquets, Song Thiago midfield. Iniesta is super good with his dribbles and attacking movement, combination play. Thiago has so much flamboyancy,,,adds flair upfront. By playing Thiago and Iniesta together,,,Alex Song will have a huge defensive burden to carry whenever we are under attack. And when they get past Song, they will just have to deal with the aging Puyol and the short in size Mascherano. I would have gone with a Bartra Pique or a Pique Puyol combination for last night instead.

    Overall, i know the importance of squad rotation…but I FELT WE OVER ROTATED last night. Key members like Xavi or Pique Should have been retained in the starting line-up. This could have helped is a little especially in defense.

    I know this surely isn’t the end of the world….but i hope we bounce back in the 2nd leg AWAY. If ever Sanchez and Thiago is given another run, i hope its against Sociedad and not against Malaga in the 2nd leg. Unless Sanchez proves everybody wrong by shooting 4 goals against Sociedad of course =D

    • barcacentralnic says:

      I totally agree about the over-rotation. I would have preferred three or four changes yesterday, then three or four at Real Sociedad. With a better result last night we could then have had the option of resting three or four for the second leg next week.
      I wonder if Tito was remembering last January when our cup battles may be seen to have taken its toll in La Liga and even to have affected our freshness at the end of the season. However, last season we also had the long trip to Japan in December for the Fifa Club World Cup and I think that was probably what affected the team’s freshness. This year we haven’t had the FCWC and the players have been looking very fit and alert, as Sunday’s game demonstrated. Surely youngsters like Piqué, Busquets, Fabregas and Pedro could have started last night.

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