Barcelona 4-1 Malaga: 5 Things We Learned from Last Game of the Season
Barcelona concluded their season in a manner which mirrored a lot of what has gone before in La Liga over the past nine months.
They flew out of the traps against Malaga at Camp Nou on Saturday night, David Villa firing them ahead inside the opening four minutes.
Barely ten minutes later, they were 3-0 up—Cesc Fabregas and Martin Montoya the scorers.
Much like in the league, where they raced clear of the pack before Christmas, this game was over before it ever really started.
In the second period, Barca sauntered over the line.
Andres Iniesta curled home a fantastic fourth, before Pedro Morales' exquisite volley got Malaga on the score sheet in Manuel Pellegrini's final game.
Here are some things we learned, or are still waiting to learn, from the match...
Au Revoir Eric Abidal
Eric Abidal made an emotional entrance onto the pitch after 75 minutes—an entrance made for the last time in a Barcelona shirt.
It had long been known, but Saturday night was the final time that the 33-year-old will be seen in La Blaugrana colors, having not been offered a new contract (via ESPN).
He joined the Catalan club in 2007 from Lyon, making close to 200 appearances since.
Four La Liga titles, two Champions Leagues and two Copa del Reys have been won since his arrival.
It's not been straightforward off the pitch though, as he's battled successfully against a series of health scares.
The Camp Nou fans treated him to a rapturous send-off against Malaga, and now he will begin a summer of searching for a new club.
One More Year for Victor Valdes?
Anyone who expected a conclusion to the Victor Valdes situation will have been left in limbo after Barcelona's 4-1 win over Malaga brought the season to a close.
Speaking midweek, the 31-year-old goalkeeper offered no suggestion that he was pushing for a move away this summer (via BBC):
"I consider that my cycle as a Barcelona player will come to an end when my current contract expires in 2014."
Speculation since has centered on whether Barca will cash in on him this summer, or let him run his contract down while they scour the market for a replacement.
No answers were put forward on Saturday evening, as Valdes spent the entirety of the match on the bench.
Although, if he is to leave this summer, would Tito Vilanova not have let him play one final time?
Pellegrini's Exit to Spark an Exodus?
Manuel Pellegrini bid his goodbyes to Malaga at Camp Nou on Saturday night in a manner which will have disappointed him—particularly the first half.
Playing with a front two of Roque Santa Cruz and Julio Baptista, the Chilean tactician clearly wanted to attack Barcelona and leave on a high note.
Unfortunately, his players weren't particularly compliant.
They lacked the energy and motivation in the opening 45 minutes to make his plan work, perhaps more interested in following him out of the door this summer?
Isco, Jeremy Toulalan, Ignacio Camacho, Eliseu and Jesus Gamez have all been linked to transfers, while a number of other players are only on loan.
Come kickoff in August, it's likely to be a very different-looking Malaga side beginning the La Liga season.
David Villa: Time to Go
He may have got the ball rolling in Barcelona's 4-1 win over Malaga, but the overriding feeling as the curtains came down on 2012/13 was that David Villa's future will be best served away from Camp Nou.
After breaking his leg at the World Club Cup in 2011, he has never quite shown more than glimpses of the player that was so electric in his early days at the club.
That said, even this season he's contributed 15 goals.
On Saturday evening, though, he didn't look particularly sharp when he picked the ball up in dangerous areas.
And, even without Lionel Messi around, he only managed one shot for a goal—which was the simplest of finishes as well.
With the arrival of Neymar, Villa will drop further down the pecking order, and a summer move draws closer than ever for the 31-year-old.
Martin Montoya Stakes His Claim
Enough of the doom and gloom about players and managers moving on, what about some positivity about a youngster at the beginning of his career?
Martin Montoya, playing at right-back, put in a brilliant performance for Barcelona—and not just because he scored a cracker.
His passing was consistent, completing 90 percent of his 63 attempted passes as he galloped up and down the right flank.
Defensively he was not shy either, making three tackles, five interceptions and one clearance.
But yes, he did score too. A wonderful half volley after Malaga had cleared a corner.
While calls are made for outsourced replacements at Camp Nou, it'll be satisfying to see another La Masia product excelling in the first team.
*stats taken from WhoScored.com