Saturday, 26 February 2011
Match Report: Mallorca 0 Barcelona 3
Barcelona moved provisionally eight points clear at the top of the league with a comfortable 3-0 win at Mallorca.
Much of the talk pre-match had been about whether Barca’s bench had the strength in depth to cope with the absence of Carlos Puyol, Xavi Hernandez, Dani Alves and Victor Valdes. However, concentration on those who would be absent from the Barca line-up overlooked the fact that the champions deadly triumvirate upfront were still available, fit and firing.
Last weekend El Mundo Deportivo’s front cover called on the MVP to boost Barca’s mojo back into to gear. The MVP was of course not Lebron or Kobe but the Messi-Villa-Pedro combination that has carried almost the entire goalscoring weight for Pep Guardiola’s side this season. Last weekend Messi and Villa got the goals, this week all three frontmen were back on target.
Mallorca had started the match well. Aware that without their passing metronome in Xavi Barca’s fluidity may suffer they pushed high up the field, closing the lines between the Barca midfield and attack and forcing the visitors back four to hold a lot of the possession. The home side also broke well and in numbers but too often the chance was wasted by a poor final ball.
Michael Laudrup’s came closest to scoring on 16 minutes when De Guzman’s corner was headed narrowly over by the unmarked Webo.
However, after a tricky opening quarter Barca began to find their rhythm thanks in particular to Messi’s movement and ability to go past defenders time and again.
Firstly, the Argentine was denied by a brilliant challenge from Ruben as he sped into the area, and then amazingly he fired over after a wonderful one-two with Iniesta.
Yet, it wasn’t long before he hit the front, scoring the opener on 37 minutes. A cute chipped ball through from Keita saw Messi just onside and able to control and awkwardly bouncing ball on his chest before looping a header over Aouate and into the net.
The visitors were in full flow now and nearly doubled their lead before the interval. Villa just unable to reach a defence splitting pass from Iniesta before Messi found more space in the box but after rounding Aouate his effort was cleared off the line.
Villa did add a second and end the game as a contest 10 minutes into the second-half. The Spanish international racing onto Sergio Busquets’ wonderful through ball to round Aouate and slot home from an acute angle.
Not to be outdone, Pedro then added his own special effort with a fierce dipping shot from just outside the box that gave Aouate no chance.
Barcelona were then happy to see the game out, Guardiola giving a rest to Villa and Pedro and some much needed game time to Bojan and Affellay. Iniesta coming closest to a fourth goal but he saw his effort fly across the face of goal.
Mallorca meanwhile kept to their task but never threatened to get back into the match. The depressing scenario for the league played out here as a team 3-0 down at home to one of the big two settled for damage limitation rather than attempting to get back into the game.
FT: Mallorca 0 Barcelona 3 (Messi 37, Villa 56, Pedro 66)