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Jan 5, 2012

FC Barcelona firmly placed their right foot in the next round of Copa del Rey with a 4-0 victroy against Osasuna at the Camp Nou. Now unless a seriously bad loss happens in the return leg, we will be firm favorite to face either Malaga or Real madrid in next round. A frist half brace from cesc Fabregas put Barca on course for a easy victory. Messi who came in the second half completed the tally with two neatly taken goals. Usually after a break we struggle to find our rhythm, but this time around there was no nerves like that. The performance was as clinical as it can get after the holidays. The line up for the first match of 2012 was Pinto, Mascherano, Puyola, Pique, Xavi, Busquets, Thiago, Cesc, Alves , Pedro and Cuenca. The formation was a 3-4-3.

The first ten minutes saw we struggling a bit to take control of the possession and was characterised by some un-Barca like sloppy passing. Osasuna was keeping themselves back in their box, closing down any scoring chances. In the 14th minute we finally broke their defenses with a brilliantly taken goal from cesc Fabregas. Xavi found Cesc unmarked on the left in box and slipped the ball to him, who made no mistake with the finish. Dano Alves playing as a winger on the right was stretching the Osasuna defense. In the 18th minute Cesc fabregas doubled his tally following another attack started by Alves on right. Alves cross from the right was cleared to Puyol by Osasuna defense, Puyol slipped the ball to Xavi who found Cesc Fabregas staright on the goal in the box. Cesc fabregas produced a wonderful chip to over the keeper head to make the scoreline 2-0. In the 21st minute Xavi saw his shot from the box going wide of the far post. In the 22nd minute Thiago saw his shot saved by keeper after another brilliant atatck in which Alves was very much involved. In the 23rd minute Puyol found himself staright on the keeper who produced another brilliant stop to deny the Barca Captain. In the 37th minute Thiago forced a save from the keeper with a long range effort. In the 41st minute Xavi floated a long range cross spotting Thiago's run into the box, but Thiago couldn't bring the ball under control. In the 45th minute Alves set in a brilliant run from the middle but his attempt to chip the ball over keeper's head was thwarted by the keeper tipping the ball over the bar.

There was a drop in intensity after the break, which was pretty much understandable. In the 59th minute Guardiola brought in Messi for Pedro. That move definitely changed the tempo and we started banging heavily on Osasuna goal after that. In the 63rd minute Puyol shot high over the bar from a very promising position. In the 66th minute Messi almost got into the scoresheet with a beautiful move. He raced into the box, played a neat one-two with Alves but his chip over the sliding keeper surprisingly went wide of the goal. In the 67th minute Cuenca skipped inside and tried to curl his effort into tor far corner, but shot went wide and high. In the 72nd minute Puyol forced yet another save from the keeper from a Messi free kick. But Osasuna couldn't stop Messi for anymore as he got into scoresheet in the very next minute. The corner which resulted from the free kick caused an almighty scramble, Alves got hold of the rebound and send in a cross into the centre which was met by Messi's strong header. Guardiola took off Cuenca immediately and brought in Sanchez. In the 77th minute Messi forced a point blank save from the keeper after some sensual interplay inside the box. In the 84th minute Osasuna had a good chance to pull one back, but Lamah curled the ball horrible wide of target. In the 87th minute Keita came in for Fabregas. In the 91st minute messi made it 4-0 with a Messi style goal, skipping inside and finding the far corner.

Coming into the match, Guardiola got it spot on with his tactic with the 3-43 formation. Playing Alves as a winger stretched the Osasuna defense which definitely came with the idea to sit back and defend. That created space for the likes of Xavi to operate, who for me was the best player on the pitch. Puyol who was just once again brilliant in both defense and attack marshalled his troops with exemplory ease. The three man defense was sometime exposed a bit but Alves and Puyol did really well to cut down any thretening situations. the only disappointing part for me is the form of Pedro, who looks like struggling very much evethough he is putting his heart out. Cuenca did really well with stretching the pitch and definitely gives Guardiola a weapon to use. A 4-0 victory would have killed the second leg, but still we need to put a decent show at osasuana to secure teh Quarter Final spot.

All About FC Barcelona


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