Went along to the Barça match last night with my good friend Oriol Ballester and 62,589 other people.
Good match — 8 goals — 5-3 to Barça — in the rain, and with ten men against twelve in the second-half.
The result, which saw Leo Messi supersede César’s club record of 232 goals scored in official matches, puts Barça within 5 points of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.
Granada are a curious team — ten of their men play in red hoops, their goalie wears what he wants, and their twelfth man plays in a blue shirt and black shorts and carries a whistle. The twelfth man’s job is to do what he can to get one of the opposing team’s players sent off before the mid-point of the second-half.
Well, the twelfth man won his game but his team lost the match.
Must be confusing for all the Japanese and Korean Barça fans watching the match. Bit like sports fans from the U.S.A. trying to make head or tail of cricket.
As to the match … well … started off well with Barça looking very lively for the first 20 minutes. However, Adriano and Thiago soon seemed a half-step behind the rest of the team.
Guardiola, the coach, for reasons known only to himself, had obviously instructed the team to seek out and feed
Tello (oops! SEE Comments below) Cuenca— who, in the first half played on the left. Both Xavi and Messi were feeding him useful balls when in positions where they could have done serious damage and even scored. Dani Alves, too, was dragging the ball up field to lay it on for Tello Cuenca.
But there were many moments, you could see quite clearly, when
Tello (oops again! SEE Comments below) Cuenca seemed too concerned with what was at his feet, and his immediate opposition, than with the shape of the attack as a whole.
For the second half
Tello Cuenca was switched to the right — but his role seemed unchanged — until, that is, Iniesta, working with Xavi and Keita, began planking some ballast into the midfield — and freeing up a wilful Messi.
Tello’s goal was a cracker though.
Piqué had a restrained game — it seemed to me he was looking to avoid too intimate contact with Granada’s attack for fear of picking up a card. He spent much of the game simply knocking the ball to Puyol, or looking to find Xavi, apart from a five minute spell in the second-half when he drifted upfield and dabbled a bit in ineffective moves.
It was obvious to me that Granada’s twelfth man had Dani Alves’s card marked from the off — it was never a matter of if Alves would get at least one card but how and when. Shocking.
Keita played a good, solid game — clipping off Granada’s attacks and then building effective counter-attacks.
However, while Leo Messi may finish the season as La Liga’s, and FC Barcelona’s top scorer he has a long way yet to go before he rivals Dixie Dean’s tally.