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Barcelona vs. Valencia, 5-1 !!!!!

Man crush: Alexis, Cesc, and Leo

What an incredible game. Okay, defensively we could have been a little better, although the rest seemed to have done Pique's form and/or attitude a lot of good. But offensively? As soon as Piatti made the goal for Valencia, Barcelona roared to life, keeping the visitors under almost constant pressure for the remainder of the game.

First Leo Messi scored with an exquisitely angled shot off a rebound from Pedro, and just a few minutes later he followed it up with a second goal, assisted by Abidal. Not his most graceful moment - Valencia keeper Diego Alves blocked the shot but failed to hold onto the ball, so Messi scooped it up with his toe and sent it in while almost tripping over him - but it got the job done.

In the second half, Messi was everywhere making would-be assists, none of which resulted in goals - Alves really earned his salary today. But once my favorite B squad bb Cristian Tello came on for Pedro, both teams perked up again. Alves blocked Tello's best shot, but Messi caught the rebound and lobbed it in. And he wasn't finished - in the last five minutes, he used Busquets' beautiful assist to send a trademark chip over the keeper for a fourth goal, and when the interception of his pass in extra time was fumbled by the defense, Xavi stepped up  and sent it soaring into the back of the net like a boss.

So there it was, a manita, five goals, all of which were either scored or assisted by Leo Messi. On his worst days, he's still the best of a talented team. And on his best days, he's simply unbelievable. I don't even know what you'd call four goals in one game, a top hat trick*? ;) Don't relax yet, Cristiano Ronaldo - the race for Pichichi is still on.

Game highlights here

*I've just been informed by the Barcelona website that four goals is called a poker.

P.S. What a perfect goal from Xavi, too. He'd spent most of the game sitting glumly on the bench - he's missed a lot of playing time recently due to a calf muscle injury - and it was so sweet to see his teammates working to give him the chance at a goal, and his fellow Ballon d'Or finalist's rebound eventually succeeding.

P.P.S. What exactly went on between Pep Guardiola and Cesc Fabregas when Thiago was subbed in? At first it looked affectionate, like they were just joking around together, but then Pep shoved him away with an expression that made me wonder whether Cesc had said something exceedingly cheeky.

ETA: Pep admits having told Cesc that he has to score (he's been playing much better recently but has had some hilarious misses, including one tonight). He also said that we've been missing clear chances and helping the other teams' keepers get their contracts renewed! LOL, Pep.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 20th, 2012 03:51 am (UTC)
The player on the right looks like an exhausted rock drummer.
Feb. 20th, 2012 04:18 am (UTC)
Hee! That's Barcelona's 33-yr-old team captain, Carles Puyol. He may be a football rock star, but he's ridiculously self-disciplined, thoughtful, and literate despite the hair.
Feb. 20th, 2012 04:22 am (UTC)
I think guys with long hair are hot, actually.

I owe you an email, or a call, or something.
Feb. 20th, 2012 02:37 pm (UTC)
Am I the only one who thinks Messi still wearing the long-sleeved shirt is cute?
Feb. 20th, 2012 10:27 pm (UTC)
LOL - not wearing his gloves on the pitch was a big step for him!
Feb. 22nd, 2012 10:41 pm (UTC)
That is one serious man-hug going on in that first picture :) I am so shallow.
Feb. 22nd, 2012 11:34 pm (UTC)
Um, you're not the only shallow one around here! These guys do the best man hugs. I love how Cesc looks all proud and fatherly and Alexis looks kinda blissed out ;).
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )



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