Barcelona Wins, Real Madrid Loses, Is La Liga Done?
FC Barcelona not only gained three points and maintained their unbeaten streak intact in La Liga (17 games) as they crushed Levante 0-4 on Sunday, but Tito Vilanova's men demoralized their eternal rival Real Madrid and sent José Mourinho complaining all the way down to 11 points behind Barça.
Victor Valdés had a monster save on José Barkero’s shot in the 13th minute as Levante had the first threat in the game. Dani Alves had to leave the game in the 14th minute with a muscular injury and was replaced by Martin Montoya.
With Montoya’s entrance, all 11 Barça players that were on the pitch were all La Masia products.
Definitely a moment in history.
Lionel Messi missed his first real shot in the 23rd minute as Leo’s shot from near the top of the box went just wide right of the post. Xavi’s long range shot missed left in the 24th minute. Xavi took a quick half volley shot in the 30th minute, but his shot rolled right into Levante goalkeeper Gustavo Munúa’s hands. Levante had another shot just a minute later as Barkero missed from close range. A corner kick was headed toward net by Juanfran, who nearly set up his teammate Obafemi Martins for a goal, but Martins didn’t react in time and the ball rolled out for a goal kick. Gerard Pique just missed heading in a goal from a corner kick in the 42nd minute.
In the second half, Lionel Messi got Barcelona in the lead thanks to a great pass from Andrés Iniesta. Messi lobbed the ball over Munúa to give the Catalans the lead in the 48th minute. Barkero almost made a wonder goal in the 50th minute as his volley just missed left of Valdés.
Messi got a brace on the night in the 52nd minute as once again Andrés Iniesta found Messi inside the box and Leo slide it into the back of the net to double the lead. It was Messi’s 11th brace on the season.
Andrés Iniesta decided to get his goal in the 57th minute as Don Andrés blasted a shot from the top of the penalty box and beat Munúa for the 3-0 lead and Barcelona’s third goal in 11 minutes.
Cesc Fabregas got into the fun in the 63rd minute as once again Iniesta found a teammate on the left side. Cesc got the give-and-go from Andrés and Fabregas passed a sliding Munúa and—with a great touch—slid the ball in for the fourth goal for el blaugrana.
With his third assist on the night, Andrés Iniesta became the second player in La Liga this season to record a three-assist game. The other player with a three-assist game this Liga season: Cesc Fabregas.
With the fourth goal, FC Barcelona became the first Liga club to score four goals in four consecutive road games.
Valdés got a great save on Martins in the 65th minute as the home side tried to get something started. Adriano made his return from injury for Barcelona in the 75th minute as the Brazilian replaced Jordi Alba.
Close to the 90-minute mark, a penalty was given to Levante as the referee called a foul on Carles Puyol. Barkero stepped up to take the kick, but Valdés was a beast and stopped Barkero’s shot and the rebound as well. According to OptaSports.com, only Andrés Palop (Sevilla) and Diego Alves (Valencia) have saved more PKs than Valdés in La Liga in the last 10 years.
For the weekend, Victor Valdés > Iker Casillas.
Final: Levante 0–4 FC Barcelona
What looked like what could be a complicated game for Barcelona turned out to be a rout for the Catalans. The Man of the Match was Andrés Iniesta and deservedly so (three assists, one golazo).
With 12 wins and one draw, FC Barcelona has now equalized the best start in La Liga history after 13 games, matching the 1991-92 Real Madrid record.
Barcelona’s win combined with Real Madrid’s loss to Real Betis on Saturday, Barcelona is now 11 points ahead of Real Madrid in the Liga table.
Let’s look at the four most important things "From The Mind of Xoel" from this game, including the question all Liga fans are asking: Is La Liga done already?
Messi Closes in on Müller
With his two goals on the night, Lionel Messi has now scored 82 goals in 2012 and moved to within three goals of tying the legendary Gerd Müller for the most goals in a calendar year (85 in 1972).
Here are some more Messi magical stats:
Messi now has 11 braces on the season.
Messi has now scored 26 goals for Barcelona in 20 official matches this season.
Lionel Messi has scored more goals in November 2012 (nine) than Andy Carroll has since he left Newcastle United (eight).
Lionel Messi since the birth of his son, Thiago: nine goals in 630 minutes for Barcelona and Argentina (one goal every 70 minutes).
Messi has scored 112 goals in his last 100 official matches for Barcelona
Messi has scored more than one goal in four consecutive Barcelona games, equaling his personal record from March 2010.
Lionel Messi has scored for Barcelona in six consecutive away games.
Messi is now just one road goal away from tying Raul for second for most away goals in Liga history (87). At 25 years of age, Messi will easily pass current record-holder Hugo Sanchez’s record of 99 away goals in the not-too-distant future.
Lionel Messi has scored 82 goals in 2012 so far. AC Milan has scored 81 goals as a team in 2012.
Lionel Messi has scored 82 goals (63 games) in 2012. Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 59 goals (64 games).
The race for the Ballon d’Or is over. A four-peat for Messi is on its way.
But perhaps the best thing about Leo Messi’s Sunday was his wristband. All Culés were wondering why Messi wore a wristband in the game as Messi never wears one. But after his first goal, we all found out why he wore the blue wristband: Leo wrote “I love you, Thiago” on the wristband. Messi showed the written message to all and kissed the wristband when he scored both goals.
A sweet moment reminding us that football is not the most important thing in the lives of the players.
Three more goals to tie Müller’s record. Four more to break the record.
The Power of La Maisa is Unmatchable
As previously mentioned, when Martin Montoya entered the game, history was made as all 11 Barça players on the pitch were all La Masia products.
How many other big clubs in the world could do this?
Only FC Barcelona could have done this, period.
When asked about having 11 Masia-bred players on the pitch at once, Gerard Pique mentioned after the game that this is how FC Barcelona works.
"Playing with 11 academy players? It's something to be proud of. It's the philosophy of the club. We first look at home."
Xavi went even further and acknowledged former Barcelona manager Louis Van Gaal in his commentary on the 11 Masia players playing. Van Gaal believed that a day would come where we’d see an all-Masia lineup on the pitch.
"Playing with 11 academy players is wonderful, something to be proud of, " said Xavi. "A hug to Louis van Gaal; his dream has come true."
Van Gaal and former club president Joan Laporta always dreamed of seeing an all-Masia lineup. On Sunday—the same day elections were held in Catalunya—their dream as well as the moment all Barcelona fans were waiting patiently to witness finally came true.
¡Toma! to PSG, Chelsea, Real Madrid, and to all big clubs.
Money can’t buy you what Barcelona did.
Is La Liga Done?
Is La Liga—as a competition—done with? Meaning, has FC Barcelona wrapped up La Liga?
Of course not!
Atlético Madrid is having an amazing season and, if not for the historic Barcelona season that we are all witnessing, el Atleti would more than likely be leading La Liga. Next week, Atlético will head to the Santiago Bernabéu to face José Mourinho’s Real Madrid in the Madrid Derby.
The best team in the city of Madrid is Atlético. Eight points don’t lie.
So what’s the best case scenario for FC Barcelona in the Madrid Derby?
Because with a Barcelona win combined with a tie in the Madrid Derby, Barça gains two points on both teams in the standings.
Personally, I’d like to see Real Madrid lose so Barcelona can go up 14 points on Madrid and anger Mourinho, club president Florentino Pérez, the Madrid media and all Madridistas even more.
If Madrid loses to Atlético and goes 14 points down in La Liga, I’m going to write an obituary for Real Madrid next week.
Now that we have that cleared up, let’s move to the final question most Liga fans are asking...
Is La Liga Done for Real Madrid?
Is La Liga Done for Real Madrid?
Essentially: It’s brain dead and on life support.
Any realistic Madridista will have a hard time making the case that Barcelona will lose four games the rest of the season. Or even tie three games and have Madrid go unbeaten the rest of the way with minimal ties.
Sorry Madridistas, it’s not happening.
I won’t say La Liga is officially/technically over for Real Madrid, but it’s essentially done.
Madrid’s dilemma reminds me of Barcelona’s situation where they were down 10 points last season. La Liga wasn’t over, but most fans agreed Barça had lost La Liga after falling into a double-digit deficit in the table. This applies for Real Madrid this season. Even if Madrid wins El Clásico in March, Mou’s team is still down eight points and still being at the mercy of Barcelona for La Liga, not to mention Atlético Madrid.
Yes, there is plenty of Liga left, but this Barcelona squad under Tito Vilanova is not going to slow down.
This Real Madrid team is obviously not as good as they were last season. This looks like the same Real Madrid of 2008-09 through 2010-11: good but inconsistent on the road, and consistently complaining—always looking for a scapegoat for their misfortunes.
This Barcelona team doesn’t look like the Pep Guardiola teams of the past; this team looks better.
Keyword: team. FC Barcelona plays like a solid team who plays unselfishly. We can’t say that about certain other teams in La Liga.
José Mourinho is facing the toughest crisis in his short career at Madrid. Fans are already questioning whether he should return next season, and I’m sure the Madrid media will certainly grill him this week. Who knows, maybe Mou is focusing his attention on updating his resume as you read this. Mou once said he has “unfinished business” in England.
Barcelona is at a different level than Real Madrid this season, and it’s a level Mourinho’s team will not reach this season in La Liga.
Life is good for all Culés.
FC Barcelona is on top of La Liga and making history.
Lionel Messi is making and breaking records.
And Real Madrid is 11 points behind.
O le le,
O la la,
ser del Barça és
el millor que hi ha
Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona on the net, period.
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