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Feb 20, 2012

FC Barcelona cut the lead at the top back to ten points with a brilliant 5-1 win against Valencia. Unai Emery's side has always made Barca struggle, but this was completely different. Even though it didn't start well conceding a goal early, but after that it was total domination. We had 27 shots off 13 were at goal. It took some casual finishing and some brilliant Alves goal keeping to keep the scoreline at 5-1. Pablo Piatti scored Valencia's first, we responded through Messi scoring four and Xavi scoring one in the injury time. It looked like the players were simply tired off the tough matches against Valencia and decided to end it with a brilliant performance. We started the match 13 points behind Real Madrid and Valencia was eight point behind us. Both Mascherano and Alves were suspended for this encounter. The line-up selected by Guardiola for the encounter was Valdes, Montoya, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Busquets, Iniesta, Fabregas, Messi, Sanchez and Pedro.

In the 5th min Messi was brought down outside the box winning us a free kick and David Albelda a deserved yellow card. In the 9th minute Piatti gave Valencia a shock lead when he managed to get past Montoya and Pique and made contact with a lobbed cross from the right. Valdes was a little bit at fault in that goal for not coming out to cut down the angle. In the 12th minute Pedro had Barca's first shot on target, but was straight at the keeper. In the 22nd minute Lionel Messi equalised for Barca from a big error in the box by Valencia. Pedro sending in a croass which was well covered by Rami, but instead of clearing it Rami played it straight to Messi, who only had to beat the keeper to score in his 200th appearance at the Camp Nou. In the 27th minute Messi scored teh second of the night, once again it had a mistake from Valencia. Iniesta played Abidal on the left, who brilliantly cut the ball back to Messi, who has only to beat Alves, but Alves made the save only to fumble the ball and give it back to Messi. In the 29th minute Sanchez was put through by Fabregas but Alves made the save. In the 30th minute Fabregas skipped past the defense but his shot was saved by Alves' stretched foot. We had some half chances before the half ended but Valencia were able to see those away. At 2-1, the match was far from over and Valencia were just a mistake away from making Barca pay, evethough we were dominating Unai Emery's.

In recent times whenever we have played Valencia we have always saw an improved performance from our biys after the break. We needed a repeat of the same and needed to kill the game off quickly. In the 46th minute Alexis forced a save from Alves on the right. In the 48th minute Fabregas dribbled almost twenty yard before forcing a smart save from Alves. In the 60th minute Messi almost scored with his head but Alves pushed the ball on to the bar to deny him. In the 63rd minute Montoya forced a save from Alves, but the rebound fell to Cesc in the box who for some reason shot into the crowd with an open goal at his mercy. In the 67th minute Valdes brought a great one handed save fro Feghouli to keep the score at 2-1. GUardiola immediately decided to take Pedro and brought in Tello. In the 76th minute Messi completed his hat-trick in a move started by him. He passed the ball to Tello, who held his position well with his marker and forced a save from Alves, but the rebound fell into Messi's path, who made no mistake. Guardiola brought in Thiago for Fabregas straight after the goal. In the 82nd minute Tello shot just high over the bar after Messi slipped him through on the left. In the 85th minute Lionel Messi made it 4-1 after Busquets played him through with brilliant pass. GUardiola brought in Xavi for Iniesta after that. In the 91st minute Xavi made it 5-1 after he latched onto another poor clearance from Valencia defense.

This was a brilliant performance. Usually we have struggled this season against Valencia, but this was total domination. Even though they had only two shots on target - they scored from one and almost scored from the other. Lionel Messi once again was the catalyst in this performance. It's not that he scored four but the number of chances he created for his fellow players which stood out. Iniesta, who was starting for the second time after the injury was majestic. May be he need to get a bit more sharp, but showed what we were missing all this time. Sanchez and Fabregas were brilliant with their work rate, but both were guilty of watsing some seriously good chances. The best news for me was the performance of Pedro. He wasn't anything special, but worked really well and looked like a threat on the second half. Even though he was easily outperformed by the player who substituted him - Christian Tello. The rest of the cast played brilliantly. A special mention has to be made of Montoya, who was partly at fault for Valencia's goal, but grew into the match after that. It looked like Guardiola was taking a gamble when he announced MOntoya as right back, but the player rewarded the coach with a solid perfromance.

All About FC Barcelona


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