Jan 16, 2012

FC Barcelona - 4, Real Betis - 2

FC Barcelona continued with their winning streak at home in La Liga with a very hard fought 4-2 victory against an inspired Real betis side. The match started very brightly for us going 2-0 up within 12 minute, then turned into a nightmare when Real Betis equalised early into second half. But the players showed enough character to come back from that set back and finish off the game. Lionel Messi who had a rather poor night by his standard scored twice, Xavi and Sanchez completed the goal tally for Barca. For Real Betis it was Castro and Santacruz who scored. FC Barcelona started the match with a eight point gap between league leaders Real Madrid, who managed to organise a spectacular 2-1 coming from behind victory(thanks to the linesman who ruled a perfectly legitimate goal from Mallorca as offside when the score was 1-0 to the host favour) against Real Mallorca. Guardiola once again decided to employ the 3-4-3 formation. We had Puyol, Abidal and Mascherano in defense. The midfield had Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas. Messi, Cuenca and Sanchez formed the attacking trio.

Real Betis started thye game very well closing down space for our midfield and making life difficult for the three man defense. In the 8th minute they had a double chance first when Molina was played onside by a swift counter. Valdes read the danger and came off his line to concede a corner and had once again have to pull out another save from the resulted corner. BUt in the 10th miunte Barcelona shaked off that poor start with Xavi scoring the first off the night. Alexis Sanchez played the ball to Fabregas whose shot hit the post, but fortunately the rebound went straight to Xavi, who had the simplest job to do. In the 12th minute Lionel Messi made it 2-0 when he latched on to a brilliant cross from Sanchez from the left. In the 22nd minute Real Betis once again managed toe stretch our three man defense but once again Ruben Castro's finish was wayward. In the 32nd minute Real Betis pulled one goal back with Castro guiding the ball into Barca goal. That was the first goal we have conceded in the Camp Nou in this La Liga season. We were begining to get a bit complacent in posession. The half ended with Messi being booked for an intentional handball inside the box, which I believe has made him ineligible for the next league game against Malaga.

Real Betis did manage to stretch our back three with their two fast wide players. It was to be seen whether Guardiola takes off the off-colour Cuenca and bring in someone to shore up the defense. Guardiola obliged and brought in Alves for Cuenca. In the 52nd minute Roque SantaCRuz scored with a brilliant curler to tie the scoreline at 2-2 from a brilliant counter attack. In the 55th minute Abidal found Messi inside the box, but the Argentinian's shot was a bit close to the keeper. In the 60th minute Messi and Fabregas played a neat 1-2 exchange which played Messi straight on goal but the defense did really well to block his effort. In the 69th minute Iniesta was booked unfairly for diving after he was clearly brought down in the box. That's yet another penalty which was denied for Barca. In the 71st minute Betis were rightly reduced to ten men after Mario has brought down Messi just ourtside the box winning his second booking of the night. In the 75th minute Alexis had a unmarked header going over the bar. In the very next minute Alexis made it 3-2 for Barcelona after latching onto a through ball from Xavi and finished from a very tight angle. In the 83rd minute Guardiola took off Cesc fabregas and brought in Thiago. In the 85th minute finally the referee awarded a penalty after the Betis defender handled the ball in the box. Messi made no mistake finishing it and making the scoreline 4-2. In the 90th minute Victor Valdes made a good save off Ruben Castro.

It was a pretty nervous match, especially after Betis equalised. But what is becoming so frustrating nowadays is that there looks like a concentrated efforts from the referees not to award Barca any clear cut penalties. Iniesta should feel himself really unlucky to have booked for diving in another example of clear cut penalty not been awarded to Barca. The Catalan media has recently suggested that there is a concentrated efforts from Spanish Federation to prevent Barca winning a fourth title. I considered that a total bogus news. But with each week passing we have to start giving some credentials to those news. On the other hand Real madrid are getting 50-50 chances called in their favor. Yesternight Real Mallorca had a perfect goal ruled offside, that offside decision was so strange as the player was not only behind the last two Real Madrid players also was in his own half. Guardiola and other Barca staffs have till now decided against racing anything against refereeing in public. But if we don't tackle this now we may have to struggle in the long run. We had a series of disappointing away draws and in all those draws we had atleast one clear cut penalty which is not ruled in our favor.

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