6 Things We Learned from Barcelona's Win Over Levante

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistNovember 25, 2012

6 Things We Learned from Barcelona's Win Over Levante

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    On Sunday, Barcelona cruised to a 4-0 victory over Levante on the road in Valencia. 

    Barcelona did not come alive until the second half, but when they did wake up, they scored four goals in 18 minutes. 

    Lionel Messi scored the first two goals for the Catalans, while Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas added goals in the second half as well.

    Barca's shutout was preserved by an outstanding effort by Victor Valdes in the 87th minute, as he saved a penalty from Barkero and then turned away a rebound attempt by Angel.

    Here are six things we learned from Barca's dominant victory over Levante.  

Lionel Messi Is 3 Goals Away from Gerd Muller's Record

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    With his two goals at the beginning of the second half, Lionel Messi added to his total for 2012 to 82 goals. 

    Messi now has just over a month to break the current record for goals in a single year held by Gerd Muller, who scored 85 goals in 1972.

    Unless he gets injured before the end of the year, Messi will shatter the 40-year-old record. 

    The question may not be if Messi can break the record, but can he score 100 goals in a calendar year.

    With six matches left on the schedule at the moment until 2012 ends, it is very possible that Messi will not only set a new record, but score a century of goals in one year. 

Barcelona Played Most of the Match with 11 La Masia Graduates

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    Barcelona's strong youth academy, La Masia, was shown off on Sunday, as Barcelona played for most of the match with 11 graduates of the academy.

    When Martin Montoya replaced Dani Alves in the 14th minute due to injury, he completed a Barca lineup that contained just graduates from La Masia. 

    This shows that not only can La Masia produce strong players, but it shows that Barcelona can develop a core of players to move up to the senior team and have a good amount of success. 

    Of the starting 11, Alves was the only player not to come through the academy to the first team. Alves came to the club from Sevilla on a transfer in 2008. 

Levante's Park the Bus Strategy Worked for One Half

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    In the first half, Levante played with some good organization in defense, as they were able to hold their visitors to a clean sheet. 

    Whenever Messi or Xavi tried to make an advancement into the penalty area, at least two or three Levante defenders would surround the Barcelona attackers and thwart any chance of an attack.

    In the second half, that strategy did not do as well, with four goals given up the first 18 minutes of the half.

    Once Barcelona scored their first goal two minutes after the second half started, the belief and morale of the Levante team sunk.

    If the hosts were able to hold on to a clean sheet for some of the second half, their sense of belief could have grown, and they would have had a chance to get a result from Sunday's match. 

Victor Valdes Produced 2 Save of the Year Candidates

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    With the match almost over in the 85th minute, Levante were given a penalty, and Barkero failed to convert thanks to two brilliant saves by Victor Valdes. 

    Valdes' first save on Barkero was an easy one, but his save on the rebound shot by Angel was one of the spectacular variety,

    Earlier on in the match, Valdes produced another moment of brilliance when he saved a 13th-minute shot from Barkero. 

    Valdes was not asked to do much on Sunday, but when he had to show up to make a big save, he certainly stepped up to the occasion. 

Barcelona Now Have 11-Point Advantage over Real Madrid

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    Barcelona's win on Sunday put the club 11 points ahead of rivals Real Madrid in the La Liga table.

    Real Madrid fell to Real Betis on Saturday to fall further behind their bitter rivals. 

    Barca are still unbeaten in La Liga this season with 37 points, while Real's slow start is beginning to haunt them even more, as they sit in third place with 26 points. 

    The biggest challenger to Barcelona's title hopes will be Real's crosstown rivals, Atletico Madrid, who sit just three points behind Barca after their own 4-0 win over Sevilla on Sunday. 

Andres Iniesta Was the Man of the Match

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    While Messi's two-goal performance will be focused on in the press, Andres Iniesta was the true star of Sunday's match. 

    Iniesta started up front alongside Messi and Pedro and was involved in all four Barcelona goals. 

    Iniesta assisted on three goals and scored a goal of his own in the 57th minute. 

    The 57th-minute strike was the first goal this season in La Liga for Iniesta, and he bolstered his assist total up to five with his performance on Sunday. 

    With his strong performance on Sunday, Iniesta could see more time in the front three of the 4-3-3 formation that manager Tito Vilanova puts out on the pitch.