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Mar 16, 2009

FC Barcelona successfully kept a second consecutive clean sheet with a 2-0 victory at Almeria. Courtesy of this win Barca has restored the lead at the top to six points. The 2-0 victory does not necessarily tell the entire story of the match. But it is a testimony of the desperate defending of Almeria who were well assisted by Diego Alves, their Goal Keeper. If it was not for Diego, Barca would have scored half a dozen goals by half time. Bojan who was given a rare start ahead of Eto and Henry, repaid his coach with two match winning goals. This would have reduced lot of pressure on the youngster. Guardiola decided to reshuffle his attacking options for the Almeria match. The front three was made up of Messi, Iniesta and Bojan. The midfield was more physical with Keita, and Toure partnering Xavi. The defense lined up as expected with Sylvinho and Alves playing the full back roles and Pique and Marquez at the centre of defense ahead of Valdes.

The match started in a sub-dued pace. In the 7th mnute Messi spotted Keita's advancing run and played a great ball but Diego Alves rushed out of his line to clear the danger. In the 10th minute Keita had Barca's first shot on target; the move started with Iniesta picking up Alves run with a great cross; Alves shot cum cross was deflected to Keita but Diego brought out a one hand save of the strong Keita shot. In the 19th minute Xavi headed wide from Iniesta cross. These two have great understanding with each other. Then came a phase where Barca look least interested in penetrating Almeria defense; the only player who was looking really good in attack was Andres Iniesta. Then in the 35th minute Messi saw his shot from a Xavi cross blocked. With half time approaching there was a serious push by Barca to break the dead lock. They pounded Almeria defense one after other and Diego Alves great goal keeping saved Almeria for the half. As expected it was Iniesta who tested him first; Iniesta in the 42nd minute saw his shotb saved after great trickery in the box. Then in the 44th minute a great free kick by the "World Player of the Year in Waiting" Messi was well saved by Diego. Then in the 44th minute Pique saw his header being saved by Diego from a great Xavi cross.

It was clear that if Barca played the game at the tempo which they stopped the first half a goal would eventually come. The dead lock was finally broken when Iniesta and Messi combined together and Bojan was the beneficiarry. In the 53rd minute Messi gave the ball to Iniesta who held on the ball for a second and placed the ball back to Messi's path in the box; Messi's resultant shot hit the post but the rebound fell to Bojan who neatly obliged. Almeira knew that they have a herculean task ahead; but their task was made an impossible one in three minutes. In the 56th minute Bojan scored his second of the night to seal the match. The goal did have a touch of fortune but the build up was exquisite. Alves sets up on a great run into the box and passes the ball to Messi; Messi back heeled the ball to Iniesta who flicked it back to Alves who fed Bojan; Bojan looked to have wasted a great chance when he took a few touch more but his shot looped up into the goal from a defenders deflection. After that it was Barca teaching the Almeria players a new lesson in possession football. The Almeria players never saw the ball for long spells. In the 65th minute Valdes comes out of his line to clear danger from a through ball which split bot Marquez and Pique. In the 67th minute Guardiola replaced the goal scorer Bojan with Eto. Then in the 77th minute Valdes showed again that he can do the most stupid of stuffs with no pressure on him. Valdes seemed to have held on to a pass for more time; then he gave a non-sense kind of pass to Pique; the ball bounced awkardly for Pique putting him under pressure but he handled it well. Then in the 81st minute Keita was replaced by Gudjohnsen. Then in the 83rd minute Iniesta was taken off to bring on Hleb. Iniesta received huge applause from both visiting and home team fans.

This was a great result. We completely dominated the match. It was good to see Pep giving Bojan a start. Many may not agree but we should have our back-ups in good form so that they can take over when somebody gets injured. Iniesta once again was the best player on the pitch. Messi looks like getting back to his best. Toure was great once again. But this match also showed one fact that it is always best to have Iniesta in the middle if Henry is fit and in form. Without him we miss the creativity in the centre.

All About FC Barcelona is a Blog dedicated to the Most prestigous Club in the world, FC Barcelona by an ardent fan. Here I discuss about the Latest happening surrounding our Club and present my Views about the same.

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