FC Barcelona 2 -2 Malaga Copa del Rey Match Review: Pellegrini Pulls One Out of the HatBy: kelsey | January 17th, 2013
Not many teams down a man and a goal at the Camp Nou would walk away even, but Malaga did just that last night presenting a stiff test to Barca at home. Meanwhile, as Malaga’s ability to hold Barca captured headlines for on the field play, off the field two other pieces of Barca-related news reverberated around the footballing world today:
Pep Guardiola agreed to a three year deal with Bayern Munich to coach the top German club, and Victor Valdes’ agent announced his decision not to extend his contract when up for renewal in 2014. Very sad for Barca to see their star keeper follow Pep out the door, but we wish the former manager and keeper the best in future endeavors!
For this first leg of the tie, Tito rested a number of his regular starters opting to go with: Pinto, Montoya, Puyol, Mascherano, Adriano, Song, Thiago, Iniesta, Messi, Tello and Alexis. VV, Piqué, Busquets, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Pedro, and Cesc watched on from the bench. On the other side of the pitch Pellegrini went with: Kameni, Jesus Gamez, Sergio Sanchez, Weligton, Eliseu, Seba Fernandez, Iturra, Buonanotte, Camacho, Portillo and Saviola.
Barca’s play initially looked like the brilliant affair of the last Malaga match. First twenty-five minutes were all Barca pressuring Malaga’s defense, linking up around the box. Alexis squandered one golden opportunity then another, somehow hitting an inch perfect Tello pass over the net instead of in it from close range. Minutes later, the ref had no patience for his theatrics in the box and booked the Chilean for simulation. Otherwise it appeared to be all Barca, until Malaga picked Thiago’s pocket after he tried to take a touch too many after receiving Pinto’s outlet pass, and Malaga scored against the run of play.
The goal spurred Barca on and within minutes the team gained the lead. First, Messi took a ball along the sideline dribbling past defenders, then upon losing the ball to the last man, immediately capitalized on the defender’s indecision on where to play it out, regained control, and shot the ball low into the corner of the net.
Barca had hardly finished celebrating the first goal when Puyol found the back of the net again. Pointing away from net to play a ball that was hit behind him, Puyi somehow managed to send a looping header backwards into the far corner of the net. 2-1 Barca.
Barca dominated the half but hardly the scoreline and it cost them in the second. Malaga appeared revived after the break as Barca fizzled out. Pinto made a few fine saves to deny Malaga the equalizer as Malaga’s attack grew and Barca’s hold on possession weakened. Close to 75 minutes in, Tito introduced Pedro and Cesc in for Tello and Alexis and the two subs had an immediate impact with Cesc launching a beautiful ball up the field to a sprinting Pedro. Malaga’s last man knew he was beat and clipped Pedro from behind right outside the box denying him a clear goal scoring opportunity. Ref showed straight red as a result and Malaga played a man down the rest of the half.
Despite being down to 10, Malaga showed much more spirit then Barca’s side, and were rewarded at the close of the game when they put another one away off a free kick. Final time: 2 all setting up a complicated and competitive return leg on the island.
Pinto – 8: Made an excellent save near the end and had no chance on the goals. Overall a good night in net for Pinto.
Montoya – 7.5: Good on defense, and his runs were strong. Like pretty much everyone else on the team, Montoya’s crosses could use some work.
Puyi – 8: Gorgeous goal; heart of the team.
Masch – 8: Good performance from Masch. Showed some of his defensive midfield ball skills, and had a couple timely interceptions on defense as well.
Adriano – 7: Overall a good night linking up on offense and warding off danger; unfortunate fall to give Malaga a clear header on net for their second goal off the set piece.
Song – 6: Solid performance aside from one bad giveaway and a few other loose passes. Seemed to get tired toward the end.
Thiago – 5: Looked good at the beginning, but gifted Malaga the first goal and was clearly shaken up after it. Not a great night.
Iniesta – 8: Ghost mode all night going through defenders, creating chances; looked a bit tired by the end.
Alexis – 3: Couple horrific misses, and lost the ball repeatedly. Really, just poor overall aside from his off the ball movement, but that definitely could not save Alexis this game.
Messi – 8.5: Messi again showed why he’s the best in the world creating the first goal out of sheer determination, and easily could’ve (should’ve) had an assist or two.
Tello – 7.5: Good game overall though has the tendency to go invisible at times. Used speed to good effect, and was more patient before crossing setting up a few great chances. Maturing.
Fab – 6: Initial pass across the field to Pedro was amazing, but otherwise Cesc looked a bit slow and off his game.
Pedro – 7: Added a nice attacking dimension, but first touch failed him on occasion.
Xavi – 7: Brought some stabilization to the center of the pitch for Barca.
Some Related Barcelona Posts:
- FC Barcelona 5 – 0 Cordoba Copa del Rey Match Review: The Return of El Guaje
- The Incredible Barcelona: Malaga 1 – 3 Barcelona La Liga Match Review
- Copa del Rey review: Deportivo Alavés 0, FC Barcelona 3, Or, A Little Treat