La Liga: Leo Messi Scores a Brace and Barcelona Keep Their Perfect Away Record
Today's victory over Saragoza marked Barcelona's best away start in La Liga ever.
After beating Racing (0-3) and winning in the Calderón (1-2) and San Mamés (1-3) , Guardiola’s team notched up their fourth straight win on the road with today’s 0-2 win over Zaragoza. Never before had the blaugrana won their first four away matches in the league. Yet another record for Pep Guardiola's record-breaking squad...
It was a quite calm match for Barcelona, especially after Ponzio was (rightfully) sent off in the beginning of the second half.
The first half was completely dominated by Barcelona. Without Xavi (still recovering from injury), their game wasn't as fluid as usual, but chances were appearing and everyone knew that it was only a matter of time until the goal appeared.
In the 41st minute, Villa drew off four defenders and brilliantly assisted Messi, who had no trouble opening the score. At half-time, Barcelona led 1-0, a quite natural result.
In the second half, it was pretty much the same story. Barcelona controlled possession, passed the ball around slowly and patiently and created some good chances. In the 66th minute, the best player in the world, Lionel Messi (who else?), sentenced the game with his second goal (12th of the season in all competitions)—a shot from the edge of the box.
In the dying minutes of the game, David Villa hit the post for the upteenth time this season. The Spaniard striker played well again, and had a brilliant assist for Messi's first goal, but he's been quite unlucky so far. Guardiola (and the fans) believe that it is only a matter of time before Villa starts scoring freely as he is used to.
Thiago Alcantara, the 19-year-old hailed by some as the new Xavi, came into the match in the 70th minute and he played extremely well, as if he had been playing with the first team for years. It's too soon to say whether he can be the new Xavi, but he surely has promise. Hopefully, Guardiola will give him more chances during this season.
As expected, Real Madrid had no trouble beating Racing Santander 6-1 (in a match where Cristiano Ronaldo scored four times) and kept the lead for now. Valencia surprisingly lost against giant-killers Mallorca and Barcelona are now lonely in second place, only one point behind Real Madrid..
Today's win was quite easy for Barcelona, who didn't really need to step up their game. Next week, though, the blaugrana will have a very difficult match at home against Sevilla. With Xavi back (hopefully), Barcelona must keep their winning form.
Another win against a tough side (after beating Atletico Madrid and Bilbao away and Valencia at home) will improve Barcelona's chances of three-peating (they might even take first place should Real Madrid slip up at Hercules, who beat Barcelona at Camp Nou earlier this season).
Before that, though, there's a Copa del Rey (a competition, just like every other, that Barcelona want to win at all costs) match at Ceuta—the first match of a two-leg tie— on Tuesday. It will certainly be an opportunity for youth players like Thiago, Jonathan and Oriol Romeu to show themselves to Guardiola.
The team hasn't hit top form yet, but they're still in a very good position to contend for every competition they're involved in, which is surely a great sign for all Barcelona fans. When this team hits their best form, there's no telling what they can do and achieve.
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