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FC Barcelona vs. Real Betis, 4-2

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Messi saves our collective asses again

Lionel Messi did not play a single minute in Wednesday's disastrous match against Bayern Munich, and it did not bode well when he began today's on the bench. In his absence, Tello, Villa, and Alexis played in front, Iniesta, Song, and Xavi manned the midfield, and Jordi Alba, Adriano, Pique, and Dani Alves "defended," with Pinto filling in for an injured Valdes in goal.

The start of the match was spirited, to say the least. Pabon scored for Real Betis in the second minute when we took our sweet time clearing the ball and it came right back into our area. David Villa appeared determined to regain his title of offside king, and his gesture signifying that he'd only been a tiny bit ahead of the last man didn't fool anyone. Luckily, Iniesta crossed the ball into the box in the ninth minute and Alexis launched himself forward and drove it in with a diving header, evening the score. 1-1.

The game remained lively throughout the first half. Betis continued to test our defenders, prompting a monstrous save by Pinto. We created many chances that came to nothing: an open Xavi unselfishly offered an assist to Villa, who sent it into the stratosphere; Tello set up Villa beautifully but he completely failed to follow though; and Tello also made a shot of his own that bounced out of the goal but appeared to have crossed the line on replay. Unfortunately for Barcelona, it was R. Perez from Real Betis who scored before halftime with an unexpectedly powerful shot from outside the box. 1-2.

Vilanova must have been worried by what he saw because Messi started warming up shortly after the second half started. It was no surprise when he was put on for Villa, who had continued to flounder; what was a surprise was the perfect cross from Dani Alves that allowed Villa to head in a goal right before he left the field. Messi is rumored to still be less than fully fit, but he almost immediately made an enormous impact with a gorgeous free kick into the top left corner. This was almost repeated about ten minutes later, but the ball bounced off the posts. Just three minutes after that, though, an amazing combination play between Messi, Iniesta, and Alexis resulted in an assist for Alexis and a second goal for Messi. 4-2.

Alexis really gave his all tonight - three minutes later he found himself alone in front, collided with the keeper as he attempted to control the pass, and was left groaning on the ground, clutching his cojones. He was therefore shortly substituted by Thiago, which was no comment on the quality of his performance. Both teams continued to press until the end, with my comm screaming "VIENE LA MANITA! VIENE LA MANITA!" when an uncharacteristically rapid Barcelona counterattack almost put Iniesta and Messi through, but it was not to be. At least we got the three points and are one step closer to League victory.

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Iniesta approves.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
sageharper
May. 6th, 2013 10:43 am (UTC)
I had about twenty heart attacks watching that game, but yeah we got there in the end.

Complained about Pique again all the while; he's the worst because we all know he's a top class defender, but only when he can be arsed (and/or getting bollocked but Puyi). You would think with Puyi out that would make him step up, but he hasn't. So he needs to change too in the sense of growing up and being focused, and mentoring for the bb!defenders.

Goal aside Villa had a nightmare of a game, all things considered; has totally lost his groove with actual scoring.

People talk about Messi dependence and the difference he makes, but we hurt as much (if not more) for not having Puyi. Shoring up our defence is so important, more so than another striker. Honestly think we can keep working with what we have up front, and if we concede less stupid goals then that helps.

Aww Andres, he's in his underpants there isn't he. :)
flywoman
May. 6th, 2013 12:23 pm (UTC)
It was an exciting game, yet not a nail-biting one for me. Although maybe it should have been!

Pique had some nerve telling the press that changes had to be made. Let's start with *you*, bozo. He can defend well as long as he has Puyi or Ramos bossing him, apparently, but otherwise, he loses all sense of positioning.

Villa really was terrible yesterday. He kept hovering just the wrong side of Betis' defense, as if that would help anyone, and he couldn't hit the broadside of a barn, as we like to say out here.

I completely agree, getting an experienced defender to alternate with Puyi should be our first transfer priority. I think we need to revamp our tactics up front, but we have the talent already.

I honestly can't tell, but given that he's always getting photographed in his underpants, I think it's a safe bet.
sageharper
May. 6th, 2013 07:07 pm (UTC)
Maybe I'm just a bit sensitive, hoping that we'll keep our lead in the table.

Uh yeah exactly, good thing Tito kind of called him on it. If we actually had any other defenders I would have benched him, see if that helps his perspective.

All true that, coming down with whatever Nando had.

Exactly ... and then Sid Lowe started talking about it, and when Xavi leaves, and I just cannot deal with that as well right now.

lol yeah fair point.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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