Barcelona 3 – 1 Zaragoza Match Review: Tarazan Returns!By: Yazan | November 18th, 2012
Yesterday we witnessed something special, we actually had 4 defenders playing in defense. How awesome was that? Not only that, we had our first choice center backs back, Pique and Mr. Puyol Tarazan.
But still, it turned out that old/new habits die hard!
Tito decided to go for a La Masia back four with Montoya – Pique – Puyol – Alba. In midfield Song covered for the suspended Busquets while Xavi and Iniesta resumed normal functionality in midfield giving Cesc some rest after starting every La Liga game this season. In attack with Alexis out injured, it was a straight forward choice of MVP in attack.
The game started out as expected with Zaragoza defending with 8 players from the first whistle. This didn’t stop Barca from registering their first real chance of the game on the 2nd minute. Killer Squirrel Alba was on one of his marauding runs down the left and cut an excellent ball to Messi just inside the penalty area who managed to shot it just wide.
As with the theme this season, the team had most of the possession but lacked any real cutting edge, reverting to some more direct long balls to try to stretch the Zaragoza wide from their position. But the first goal of the game came 15 minutes after the match start and after another great work from Alba on the left. Again Alba cut from the left and laid the ball into Messi’s path on the edge of the penalty area. Leo first touch was perfect to take the ball away from the defender and into space before sliding the ball past the keeper. Simply outstanding !!
Although we all were somehow certain Messi will score against Zaragoza at some point, the question on everyone’s minds was, when will be concede a goal? Well, very quick is the right answer if Fifa doesn’t do something about this stupid corner kicks rule! Having initial cleared the CK into another CK, Barca’s defense could not clear the ball properly. Young Montoya tried his best to clear it but his weak effort felt straight to Zaragoza’s Montanes. With no one really closing him quick enough, Montanes sent a very fierce low shot that managed it’s way past everybody’s sliding tackles and into Valdes’s net.
Of course, when there is Messi there is always a way. Somehow the little magician used his strength and skill to keep moving forward on the left towards the byline. When he realized that both Puyol and Pique were useless setting between the Zaragoza crowd in the penalty area, Messi laid a perfect ball towards the on rushing Song to shoot and score his first goal for the club.
Other than some ridiculous skill from Iniesta, and some crazy runs and turns by Xavi, there was no other major contributions in the first half. The second half soon started with no changes from Barca. Most of the play was coming from Barca’s left hand side, the Alba – Iniesta – Villa connection will only get better and better for Barca and Spain with time. However, a certain Montoya and Messi had other thoughts on the right. Messi saw Montoya’s run on the right and sent him the ball. Although Villa had started to make the run towards the far post on the left, Montoya played the ball back to Messi now at the edge of the penalty area. With a fantastic first touch to control the ball followed back a cracking precise shot, it was 3-1 Barca on the 60th min.
Although 4 goats were scarified before the start of the match to get Tito to give Villa 90 minutes of football, Tito had one eye on Barca’s trip to Russia midweek (we hope so anyway) and decided to get him off and bring Tello on. However by that time, Barca were running out of steam after some of the players journeys around the world with their national team, and Zaragoza were slowly threatening our goal.
Puyol, still with his elbow strapped, made way for Bartra on the 75th min as it was clear that Captain Caveman is still short of match fitness. But this didn’t stop Puyol from feeling, well upset for not completing the 90 min! He wanted to kick someone out of frustration but couldn’t find JDS anywhere on the bench. Still we had genuine hope to see 11 Masia graduates on the pitch together. But Tito being Tito decided to bring Pedro off and introduce Cesc.
The last real chance of the game came from Don Iniesta who had ghost mode on full throttle throughout the match. After cutting inside from the left on the edge of the penalty area, Iniesta curling effort rocketed off the top right corner. Had it gone in it would have topped an amazing performance with an exceptional goal.
Valdes – 6.5: Can’t be blamed for the goal, nothing else worth mentioning other than that.
Montoya – 7.5: Not as adventurous as his counterpart on the left hand side, but still Montoya timed his runs perfectly and had a good balanced game between attach and defense. With time and more experience, say hello to Dani Alves’s heir and Spain’s next RB. Excellent awareness to send the ball back to Messi for the third goal.
Puyol – 7: Loved to see Tarazan back. Having said that, he didn’t look very sharp, understandably after such a lay-off. When it comes to desire and sheer power and strength, no one can ever beat this guy.
Pique – 7.5: Looks good as he returns to full fitness. He seems to be slowly recovering the Piquenbeur form of old.
Alba – 8: The left hand side Dani Alves. This guy is definitely running on hybrid Duracel and Energizer batteries, he never stops running, it’s amazing.
Song – 8: An excellent game by Song, his best in Barca’s shirt this season for sure. Protected his defense good, got out of trouble with some nice touches and tricks, and the all important second goal. What else do you want from your DM, seriously?!
Xavi – 7.5: During the first half Xavi was unplayable. But as times passed by, he started to fade gradually. Still his distribution was second to none.
Iniesta – 8.5: After being left out of the squad in the last 2 games, Iniesta had a point to prove, and boy did he prove it. He was everywhere, going past opposition players as if they weren’t there. Shame he didn’t have his goal tonight.
Pedro – 6: Other than the usual hassling and running around, hardly noticed Pedro.
Messi – 9 (MOTM): Absolutely brilliant stuff from Messi. Scored 2 goals and created the third. Enough said!
Villa – 6.5: Slightly better than Pedro as he was more involved with Alba and Iniesta. Really hope he can get back to his best as soon as possible as he appears to lack the confidence to go past his man or get slightly physical, opting time and time again for nice back heel flicks and safe passes back to his teammates.
Tello – 5: Still cannot see the reason why Tello is being pushed on the first team. Although the pace and talent is there for everyone to see, every time he seems one-dimensional and short out of ideas, “a one trick pony” running towards the byline then crosses the ball hoping for the best.
Barta – NA: Not enough time to rate.
Cesa – NA: Not enough time to rate.