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Jan 3, 2010

For the second time in as much as visit, Villareal maged to take a point away from Nou Camp. Villareal's away form has been very poor this season, but that didn't stop them drawing and almost winnin g the match in the end. With this win Barca has moved clear of Real Madrid by three points, but the Madrid based side can equal Barca in points if they manage to win tonight at Osasuna. When Pedro put Barca in the lead in the 7th minute , we all expected to have a dominant match, but Villareal equalised through David Fuster in the start of second half. The game was a very open one with both teams having good oppurtunity to win the game. As expected Guardiola decided on a attacking line-up of Pedro, Ibra and Henry. The midfield had a surprise with Johnathan dos Santos making his debut along with Xavi and Busquets. Everyone expected Guardiola to start with Iniesta but then it may not have been ideal to start with Iniesta after an injury lay-off. The defense also looked in the expected format - Abidal, Pique, Puyol, and Alves. Lionel Messi was on the stands watching the match.

FC Barcelona took the lead early on in the first half. In the 7th minute Xavi played the ball on to the right, Pedro dummied it for Alves who sent in a not so great cross into the box,; Henry tracked back to middle of box and struck an exquisite volley which unfortunately for him hit the bar, but fortunately for Barca the rebound fell to Pedro who struck it past Lopez to open barca's account in 2010. In the 12th minute Valdes produced a great save to deny Nilmar. In the 25th minute Henry had his header well held by Lopez. In the 28th minute Villareal almost equalised, Cani sent in a great cross to a sprinting Fuster; Fuster head the ball down but was shocked to see the ball bounce up and over the bar. In the 33rd minute Johnathan sent a great ball releasing Henry on the left; Henry was tripped but recovered well and sent in a great cross but it missed a sliding Pedro. There wasn't much action in the rest of half and the half ended with henry sending aheader over the bar.

Villareal came cout more determined in the second half. In the 50th minute Senna wins the ball from Busquetsa and Villareal broke forward, but Fuster's final shot brushed the side netting. The next minute Villareal equalised with Fuster making no mistake this time. Nilmar's initial shot was blocked but the ball fell to Cani on the right whose whooping cross was well finished by Fuster on the left. Guardiola brought in Iniesta for Johnathan in the 57th minute. In the 65th minute Iniesta's curling effort from just outside the box was blocked by a stunning dive by Lopez. In the 81st minute Ibrahmovic had a great chance but he slipped while taking the shot sending the ball just wide. In the 86th minute Guardiola brought in Bojan for Pedro. The last chance of the match fell to Villareal with Puyol frantically clearing the ball from a Rossi header.

FC Barcelona might have effectively lost their lead on top with this performance. But then everytime there is a stoppage we always struggle. It was good to see Guardiola bringing in Iniesta so early on but again he dissappointed by holding his other substitution till last minutes. He could have tried the likes of Maxwell to put more speed fropm the left. The performance was overall good from the whole team. It was good to see Henry coming back to some form. Ibrahmovic was below par but have earned a suspension after getting booked. Alves was a constant threat with his crosses from the left. Dos Santos had a decent debut especially against a very tough opponent. With Messi and Iniesta back in the starting line-up, we can expect a much more competitive match against Sevill in the Copa Del Rey.

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