The curse continues! Barcelona was yet again unable to beat Rubin Kazan, despite completely dominating possession (75 percent) and creating (and missing) countless chances.
Guardiola tried a 4-2-3-1 formation for the first time, with the fabulous Sergio Busquets and the still unimpressive Mascherano as holding midfielders. Barcelona did manage to dominate the match but Mascherano still looks like a fish out of the water—he needs time to adapt.
Barcelona started the match strong; Pedro hit the woodwork and Villa missed a great chance in the first twenty minutes. Barcelona were completely dominating and the goal seemed like a matter of time.
However, in the first time that the Russian managed to attack, they had a penalty and took the lead in the 30th minute. Once again, Barcelona's defense was caught sleeping (it has been happening quite a lot lately).
The goal didn't affect Barcelona and they kept controlling possession and creating some good chances, although not as many as usual. In the 60th minute, Villa scored the equaliser, also from the penalty spot. It looked as though Barcelona could grind out a win.
Immediately after the goal came the moment that every football fan expected: the best player on the planet came into the match.
Lionel Messi performed at an acceptable level and created some chances that could have led to Barcelona's second goal. He didn't show his usual otherworldly level, but no one could really ask that of him today. Against Mallorca on the weekend, he will certainly be back to form.
The bad news for Barcelona fans is that Guardiola hasn't still managed to beat Rubin Kazan. The good news is that the great Lionel Messi is back, ready to take Barcelona to glory.
On December 7 at Camp Nou, Barcelona will have another chance to break the Rubin Kazan curse. Can they do it? I'm sure that right now many wouldn't put their money on it.