Sunday, 9 January 2011

Match Report - Deportivo La Coruña 0 Barcelona 4

FT: Deportivo La Coruña 0 - Barcelona 4 (Villa 26, Messi 51, Iniesta 78, Pedro 80)

Barcelona produced another dominant display to beat Deportivo La Coruña 4-0 and move five points ahead of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.

After a tough trip to Bilbao in midweek, Pep Guardiola took the opportunity to rest Xavi, Dani Alves and Sergio Busquets. Adriano started at right-back with Seydou Keita and Javier Mascherano handed starts in midfield. However, the champions’ other two Balon d’Or candidates, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi, started – the Argentine again excelling as the central point of the front three.

Depor somewhat surprisingly switched from their normal five at the back for a defensive 4-2-3-1 system. Manager, Miguel Ángel Lotina, admitting he had hoped to stifle Barca’s midfield with an extra man in that area and, for the first twenty minutes, his plan worked well. With the hosts happy to concede possession until the final third Barcelona dominated possession but made little headway in breaking down Depor’s stubborn backline.

However, once the visitors broke the deadlock on 26 minutes there was no way back for Depor. In what is becoming a comically repetitive move, Messi drifted in from the right flank before playing a reverse ball for the on-rushing David Villa to break the offside-trap and slide the ball underneath Daniel Aranzubia.

Both sides then seemed content to play out the first-half. Barca more than happy to keep possession – without looking like adding to their lead – whilst Depor posed very little threat to the visitor’s goal.

Barcelona made the game safe early in the second-half with another wonderful goal from Messi. Not always renowned for his threat from set-pieces, he curled the ball beautifully over the wall and into Aranzubia’s top right-hand corner from 25 yards.

Thereafter, the game was even more comfortable for the league leaders and they added to their lead with twelve minutes remaining.

Not to be undone by his team-mate ahead of Monday’s presentation of world football’s most prestigious individual award, Iniesta scored his own golazo. This time cutting in from the right before firing into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

And only two minutes later Pedro continued his excellent run of goal-scoring form after more exceptional play from Messi. The Argentine dancing past desperate Depor challenges before laying the ball through for the Canarian to lift over Aranzubia.

It was to be the last action for Pedro and Iniesta, who received another standing ovation as he left the field, Guardiola taking the opportunity to hand a debut to Ibrahim Afellay and another outing to Thiago Alcantara, who impressed after his introduction in last weekend’s 2-1 win over Levante.

Adrian then had a late opportunity for a consolation goal but was denied by an alert Victor Valdes.

Overall, it was another successful evening for the champions who have now won nine from nine away from home this season. As for the Galicians, in a game they were never expected to win it was a well-calculated risk to try something different tactically in an attempt to force Barca out of their rhythm. Unfortunately for Lotina’s men (like they were in this fixture last season) they were simply outdone by a few pieces of Messi magic.

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