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Dec 4, 2011

FC Barcelona closed down the lead between them and Real Madrid to six points with a comfortable 5-0 victory against fourth placed Levante. Cesc Fabregas opened the scoring, then doubled it followed by Cuenca, Messi and Sanchez goals gave Barca a comfortable victory at Camp NOu. Now all the focus will shift to next week's Clasico action at Bernebeu. With the El Clasico next week, everyones eye was on the line-up Guardiola was going to employ tonight. Once again Pep Guardiola went with a three mand defense, which could again feature at Bernebeu. Abidal, Mascherano and Puyol made the back three. The midfield had Cesc, Busquets, Iniesta and Xavi. Cuenca, Messi and Sanchez formed the front line. Levante has been in fine form this season and is known to have a very well organised defense and that definitely was the reason why a 3-4-3 formation was employed.

Barca went ahead in the third minute from a brilliant finish by Cesc Fabregas. Messi dropped deep and played the ball to Iniesta, who played a unbelievable back heel to Cesc fabregas, who did brilliantly to lose Ballesteros and finish calmly past the keeper. In the 15th minute Iniesta tried to curl the ball into the far left corner, but missed well wide. In the 17th minute Messi went on a trademark run skipping past a host of players, but his final shot was deflected wide for a corner. In the 20th minute the referee awarded Barca an indirect free kick, Messi took it and forced a save from keeper, who was lucky to see the rebound falling just short of Puyol's reach. In the 33rd minute Ballesteros uprooted Cuenca outside the box and conceded a free kick. Xavi took the free kick which was met by Cesc fabregas in the box, heading into the far corner taking Barca 2-0 ahead. In the 36th minute Puyol was taken off for Dani Alves, it looks like he was in a bit of discomfort following a head on colision with Kone. Immediately after the substution, we went 3-0 up with Issac Cuenca scoring the third. In the 39th minute there was an almighty scramble in our box, Valdes did well to prevent Kone on a one on one situation, then Alves did well to produce a last ditch intervention giving Valdes enough time to preserve the unbeaten record at Camp Nou.

Sergio Busquets was in the danger of missing the Clasico next week if he get a booking in this match. Guardiola was in no mood to take risk on that. At the start of second half Keita came in for Busquets. In the 54th minute Valdes had to make a diving save to deny a header from del Horno. In the 55th minute Lionel Messi got into the scoresheet latching onto a through ball from Alves to take us 4-0 ahead. In the 58th minute Messi missed infront of an open goal after some lovely exchange between himself and Cuenca. In the 61st minute Alexis Sanchez made it 5-0 with a brilliant curler into the far corner, it took a deflection on its way into the goal. In the 68th minute Cesc played a floated ball into box spotting Messi's run, Messi failed to take it into control and that helped the defense to close down. In the 72nd minute Pedro replaced Cesc Fabregas. In the 77th minute Lionel Messi missed yet another chance infront of the open goal from a Xavi corner.

Early goal from Cesc meant that we didn't have to work hard to secure the victory. But it was really a good one. Cesc Fabregas was brilliant with his finishing. Lionel Messi, uncharacteristically missed a host of easy chnaces infront of the goal. Sanchez worked had, but wasn't his best match. The rest of the team did really well. Isaac Cuenca, the new kid from Barca B did play his part well. He definitely gave us the much needed width and a live wire throughout the match. From the context of the Clasico, it is to be seen whether this performance has found solutions or opened more questions for Guardiola. I doubt the latter could be true. Cesc Fabregas, who was brilliant tonight cannot be accomodated ina 4-3-3 formationand a 3-4-3 could be risky at Bernebeu. Second the question of David Villa starting also is very much there. But for the time being it's six points which seperates us from the League leaders.

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