La Liga: FC Barcelona Beat Malaga CF 4-1 and Rewrite History Books
Barcelona keep on shattering every record under Pep Guardiola! The blaugrana beat Malaga 4-1 today and have collected an impressive 52 points (17 wins, one draw and one defeat) at the end of the first half of the season, which is not only a La Liga record, but a European record.
With the four goals scored today, Barcelona have increased their tally to 61 goals (while conceding a mere 11 goals) in 19 matches, which is also a La Liga record of goals in the first half of the season.
The most impressive thing is that both these records already belonged to Pep Guardiola's Barcelona: 50 points and 59 goals in the glorious 2008/2009 season. After a rather disappointing 2009/2010 season, Barcelona have again been firing on all cylinders this season, playing the kind of football that their supporters want to see.
After a shaky start, with a shocking defeat to Hercules and a draw against Mallorca, both at Camp Nou, Barcelona have now racked up 13 league wins in a row and there seems to be no stopping them. Malaga did what they could, but early it became apparent that Barcelona were going to record another blowout win.
Barcelona were brilliant in the first half and led 3-0 at halftime, with goals from Andrés Iniesta, David Villa and Pedro Rodriguez. In the second half, Barcelona took the foot off the pedal and Malaga managed to get one back, but David Villa scored yet another to secure the triumph. Lionel Messi, the best player on the planet, didn't even need to score today.
Behind Barcelona's fantastic first half of the season is an attacking trio that has been even more deadly than Messi-Eto'o-Henry in 2008/2009. Lionel Messi, Pedro Rodriguez and David Villa have formed an even more prolific trio. In the league, Lionel Messi has scored 18 goals, David Villa 14 and Pedro Rodriguez 10, which means that they have a combined 42 goals (out of Barcelona's 61). In all competitions, they have a combined 63 goals so far (Messi 31, Villa and Pedro both 16).
David Villa's signing was the best move Barcelona could have made this summer. The Spanish striker has been so amazing this season and has brought so much to Barcelona's game that a certain Swedish flop is now a distant, fading memory for the blaugrana fans. Not only are Villa's stats excellent (16 goals and seven assists so far), but his work rate is phenomenal, and so is the link-up with Lionel Messi and Pedro Rodriguez.
Pedro has further established himself as a world-class winger/striker and Lionel Messi...well, what can we say about him that doesn't sound redundant? The trio has been absolutely outstanding so far and the best might be yet to come.
Behind the attacking trio, Iniesta has also been brilliant. He has been playing better than ever before and he has even been scoring goals, which is quite unusual for Don Andrés. He has already racked up six goals in La Liga so far, some of them excellent (like today's). Messi aside, Iniesta has been the second-best player in the world this season so far.
Xavi has also been excellent, despite struggling with injuries at the beginning of the season, and Busquets has established himself as a world-class defensive midfielder. At the back, Puyol and Piqué form an almost impenetrable duo, Daniel Alves patrols the right side as usual and Abidal has been in the best form of his career.
The Brazilian right back got injured today and he will be out for 10-15 days, but Adriano has already proved to be an excellent cover, and even Puyol can cover for Alves if necessary. Quality in depth is something that Barcelona doesn't lack. Even new signing Ibrahim Afellay has showed some very good signs, which might be confirmed on Wednesday at Betis, where he should be given the opportunity to play the full 90 minutes.
Many pundits have hailed Pep Guardiola's Dream Team as one of the best teams of all time and they've been proving it every week.
Trophies aren't handed in January and a lot can happen in football, but the truth is that, unless something very unexpected happens, it will be very difficult to stop Barcelona from collecting the trophies. A third straight La Liga title is definitely in the cards, as second-place team Real Madrid, despite a great season, are already four points behind.
The hunt for the Champions League starts in February and, the way Barcelona are playing, it will be difficult for the top sides around Europe to resist the onslaught.
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