Squad news

REVIEW: BARCELONA 3 – DEPORTIVO 0 (LIGA)

15 Apr 2010
New thin presentation of a Deportivo that never did anything to stop a Barcelona that played at half speed. The three points were never in danger for the Catalans, and Lotina’s team still performing as a soulless team that doesn’t know where it’s going.

BEFORE THE GAME
Manuel Pablo and Antonio Tomas were fit to play as both passed a late test on Wednesday’s morning; therefore both were starters in the match. Juan Dominguez also passed the test, but he was sited on the bench. The surprise was that Lotina decided to give a chance to Adrián Lopez ‘Piscu’, who was just playing his second game on this liga season as he replaced Colotto at the centre of the defence.

The lineup was a 4-2-3-1; with Aranzubia at the goal, Manuel Pablo at the right-back spot, Laure was at the left, while Piscu and Lopo were the central defenders. Sergio and Antonio Tomas were the two pivotes, Juan Rodriguez was performing at the right wing, Guardado on the left and Pablo Alvarez was the playmaker. Finally, Riki was the central attacker.

At Barcelona, coach Pep Guardiola was trusting in Lionel Messi, Xavi, Pedro and Bojan to score the goals, while Venezuelan Jeffren Suárez was playing his ninth game on the liga season. With Iniesta and Ibrahimovic injured, Guardiola presented the best squad that he had, he only rested Puyol as Mexican Rafael Márquez was a starter at the centre of the defence.

FIRST HALF
No surprises at the Camp Nou; Barcelona had the 80% of the ball possession and also had enough occasions to define the game since the beginning. Depor continued to be a broken team that did what it could in order to reduce the damage. The pivotes never had the ball and the defensive line was constantly under pressure, Aranzubia had to appear several times to avoid more goals, while only Riki was creating some danger in attack.
 
Depor had the first scoring opportunity in the game, it was after a corner-kick taken by Sergio that Guardado found at the far post, but the Mexican missed the target (3’). The Galicians seemed serious within the first eight minutes, but little by little Barca gained the control over the actions and after a serious of corner-kicks Pedro hit the post from close range after a pass with the chest made by Pique (9’). Depor tried to respond with a mid-distance shot of Riki, but Víctor Valdés controlled the ball (11’).

Then things became very clear, Depor was locked at the back zone, with seven men in defensive positions, and it gave the ball possession to the rival, which is something dangerous against a powerful team like Barcelona. At minute 14, Xavi had a free-kick attempt and the Catalan midfielder sent a cross that Marquez headed on target, but Aranzubia was there to stop the ball.
 
The goal seemed a matter of time and it only lasted fifteen minutes to appear, Jeffren started the play at the centre assisting Xavi, and then the Catalan star drilled a perfect past that left Bojan Krkic alone against Aranzubia, then the youngster scored his fifth goal on the liga season crossing the keeper from close range. And six minutes later Jeffren was close to score the second, this after a cross from Messi, but this time Aranzubia was there to make the save.

At the 20th minute, Messi had his first attempt to score in the game, the Argentine tried to chip the ball over Aranzubia, but the Basque keeper cleared the danger over the crossbar. The dominance of the locals was clear and even insulting, but Depor managed to create a second scoring opportunity as Lopo found a corner of Sergio at the local area, but the effort of the Catalan hit a rival and later he asked for a penalty after been fouled by Jeffren  (23’).

But soon things returned to the “normal mode”, in the next play Dani Alves hit the post as he attempted a scissors-kick cross. Depor didn’t have any idea of how to stop the passing game of Barca at midfield, and the pressure of the locals was asphyxiating any attempt to reach the opposite goal, only Riki, the most in-form player at the Galician squad, seemed active, but he was too alone to do something important.

The true is that Depor’s scarce chances were always having a dangerous response, because Barca was releasing fast counterattacks that gave a lot of problems at the opposite side. And it’s that Depor’s midfielders never found the ball and all the responsibility to contain the danger was lying on the defensive line and especially on Aranzubia. Like the chance in which Riki lost the ball against Pique, later Guardado lost the ball again, and Messi started one of his well known runs in which he left everybody behind, but his final effort hit a rival and went to corner-kick (34’).

The same happened at minute 41; Guardado lost the ball in attack and the counterattack released by four Barca’s players ended with Jeffren releasing a drilling cross that Bojan connected with the ankle, reason why the ball went over the crossbar.

SECOND HALF
Curiously things started in the same way as in the initial first part as Depor was the first side to have a scoring opportunity, it was a free-kick of Sergio that Riki headed inside the area, then Guardado could have reached the ball, but Dani Alves cleared the danger first (46’). And soon the match returned to the picture of the first half as the Catalans had the initiative and continued dominating the actions.

Then Pablo Álvarez was replaced by Juan Domínguez, the Shark already had a yellow card and was committing too many fouls, and Lotina preferred to put a player with a better ability to control the ball, but the Galician youngster barely appeared. The true is that within the first twenty-five minutes of the second part Depor was more focused and it started to display its well known aids in defence, something that gave difficulties to Barcelona.

Actually things seemed to be reaching a boring point, but then both teams had a clear opportunity in a matter of one minute. First Rafa Marques had an attempt during a corner-kick, the strong shot was going in, but it hit Sergio in the face and later Messi sent the ball out (60’); one minute later a cross from the same Sergio was found inside the area by Riki, who was backwards the goal and the Madrilenian ending releasing a shot that missed the target.

Suddenly Barca woke up and Depor ended paying the price. At minute 64, Pedro had a new chance as he tried to chip the ball over Aranzubia, but the Basque keeper made the save. Then Depor committed two straight errors that in the end cost a goal. First Laure made a bad pass and the play ended with Messi shooting from close range, the ball was drilled between the legs of the visiting keeper, but Laure corrected his previous error clearing the ball at the goal line.

But the second error was bigger and more deadly, Depor was taking a free-kick at the opposite side, but Sergio sent the ball to area just when no one was there and with the rest of Depor’s players in the half of Barca, then Víctor Valdés  tried to launch a fast counterattack, similar to the ones saw in the first part, no one was at Deepor's back zone and Aranzubia went out trying to clear the danger when Dani Alves and Lopo were fighting for the ball; the keeper sent the ball to midfield, and Pedro Rodríguez scored a great goal with a 40-meters shot that entered at the top-corner; a great goal due to trajectory described by the ball in the air, but also was a big mistake by Depor.

Then Lassad replaced Riki, who still not totally fit despite been the best player of Depor in the game. But the side that scored again was Barcelona, it was after a corner-kick in which Keita failed at the centre and later Yaya Touré found the ball at the far post to beat Aranzubia with a strong shot that hit Sergio and then went to the roof of the net. Depor’s players protested the play, because the African midfielder controlled the ball with the hand. 

Those two goals within four minutes killed the match; Depor gave up and Barca just spent the time controlling the ball and without pressing the accelerator, though Messi and Pedro had a clear chance to score the fourth, but both strikers missed the chance as they didn’t decide who should define the action (76’). Henry, who replaced Bojan, missed another opportunity as he couldn’t capitalise a good cross from Pedro (80’). The last appearance of Depor in the game was through Guardado, but Valdes made the save (86’).

AFTER THE GAME
A harmless Deportivo was never the match for a Barcelona that achieved a comfortable victory despite been playing at half speed. Depor just had a couple of isolated occasions, mainly through Riki, but Barca just needed to capitalise some of its chances to approach the dream of a second straight title in la liga. The score could even be bigger, but the posts, Aranzubia and even Sergio and Laure avoided a bigger humiliation.

Depor still ninth after the surprising defeat of Atletico Madrid against Xérez CD (1-2), but the chance to go to Europe looks now like a distant dream as the Galicians remain five points below the sixth place, and this with just six games remaining in the calendar. On Sunday the team will host UD Almeria at the Riazor (17h00 CET). Manuel Pablo is suspended for this game for accumulation of yellow cards.

MATCH STATISTICS
Barcelona: Víctor Valdés – Dani Alves, Márquez, Pique, Maxwell - Touré, Xavi (Busquets 76’), Jeffren (Keita 50’) - Pedro, Messi, Bojan (Henry 71’).
Deportivo: Aranzubia – Manuel Pablo, Piscu, Lopo, Laure – Antonio Tomas, Sergio (Iván Pérez 83’) - Juan Rodríguez, Pablo Álvarez (Juan Domínguez 52’), Guardado – Riki (Lassad 69’).
Goals: 1-0: (15’) Bojan, 2-0: (68’) Pedro, 3-0: (72’) Toure
Referee: José Luis Parada Romero. He showed yellow card to Lopo (13’), Pablo Alvarez (29’) and Manuel Pablo (78’)
Venue: Camp Nou (75,897)
Other statistics: Ball possession (77% - 23%); Total shots (21 - 5); Shots on target (13 - 3); Saves by the keepers (3 - 7); Corner-kicks  (14 - 2); Offsides (0 - 3); Fouls committed (11 - 12); Accuracy in the passes (87.62% - 71.33%)

* RESULTS & STANDINGS

ARCHIVE NEWS APR/10

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