A 90-minute prelude to peppers: FCB v Deportivo ReviewBy: Brandon | May 15th, 2011
With only the pasillo, pride and a peppers-inspired league cup ceremony to play for, a late-season encounter with paint-drying Depor was never going to inspire much excitement amongst the recently riled up ranks of Barca nation. Though even with those rock bottom expectations, this match was still, as the commentator rightly remarked, “easily the most boring Barcelona match of the past few years.” Boring to watch, even think about, and yes, review!
And so it was, that Barca was applauded onto the field with the time-honoured Liga tradition of the ‘honour guard,’ while Pep rolled out with the equally time-honoured tradition of fielding a makeshift team of old cranks and young whipper-snappers without anything meaningful left to play for (in the League at least).
That translated into the curious concoction of Valdes, Bartra, Fontas, Mascherano, Abidal, Thiago, JDS, Keita, Afellay, Jeffren and Bojan taking the field against a Deportivo side sorely in need of a result to stay in La Liga next season. Though you wouldn’t have known it when the game started, with the Galicians keen to sit back and counter-attack (which they did successfully, at least twice) and concede possession to a Barca side full of pace and possession, but very little else.
Aside from Valdes using his face to stop a shot, and Jeffren nearly saving his Barca career with a great solo effort, there was very little of note from the first half. Thiago was deployed in a more central, DM-like role which seemed to stifle his creativity, while Afellay was all over the pitch but mostly wreaking havoc down in the middle in another impressive display of versatility. Bojan looked lively in his return from injury, but as usual was unlucky/hapless, even managing to kick the ball off the referee and into his own hand at one point. In the second half it was more of the same, even though Dani Alves added some excitement to proceedings.
By the end of it all, one had to almost feel sorry for Depor who desperately needed a win, watched Barca pass the ball around disinterestedly, only to blow their best chance at the death to remain precariously perched above the relegation zone with one game left to play. Barca, on the other hand, got another glorious Liga celebration for their troubles, this time actually receiving the cup itself, along with a shower of peppers (the odd symbol of this Liga) and confetti to send them into a week of rest, one more match against Malaga then off to England and Wembley.
Valdes – 7: A couple solid saves when the team needed him, and most importantly, no injuries! Well on his way to another Zamora.
Bartra – 5: A little loose in the pass and some of Depor’s more dangerous attacks ran through his territory.
Mascherano – 7: Another solid performance from our regular, everyday centre-back
Fontas – 6: A plucky, detemined game from our Pique-in-waiting. Even demonstrated his facial pain threshold, which is key to emulating GP3.
Abidal – 7: With all the joy over his good health and his previous play at CB, it’s easy to forget how good of a two-way full back Abidal is. Tonight was a reminder.
Thiago – 6: A quiet game by his usual standards, though he was deployed in more of a defensive role without a true DM on the pitch. Crucial Liga minutes that will help in his promotion next season.
JDS – 6: Full of running, but mostly ineffective on the right side of midfield. Has some nice interplay with the other B-teamers, but didn’t seem to gel with Afellay and Keita.
Keita – 6: A relative grandpa out there, Ol’ Seydou had a decent game today, doing the usual break-up play in midfield and offering the rare offensive threat.
Jeffren – 6: Quite likely one of his last games in Blaugrana, and almost scored an transfer-fee-increasing solo goal.
Afellay – 8 (MOTM): For the second game running, the most effective attacking force in the side, tirelessly driving the offense forward with some direct runs and even a dribbling feint or two. Like Thiago, minutes in these games very important.
Bojan – 7: Despite his tough luck, his movement and pace looked sharp, and would have scored with a more accurate Dani Alves cross.
Alves – 7: Changed the game with some urgency down the right flank, though his crosses were mostly poor as usual.
Maxwell – 6: He’s back! Suddenly we have options at LB again!
Oriol Romeu – n/a: In all honesty, I had lost interest in observing this game closely by the time he came in.