La Liga Review: FC Barcelona 4 – 1 Atlético de Madrid, in which Busquets is awarded a 12 and VV agreesBy: Natasha | December 16th, 2012
There was much talk of this match being “the” game of the season so far, or it being entirely about Messi vs Falcao. Falcao, he who scores solo manitas for fun. It wasn’t exactly Messi vs Falcao and thank goodness, I don’t think I was able to tolerate much more of that. Actually, it was more Qatar vs Azerbaijan – check the shirt sponsors if you don’t believe me.
Barça’s lineup was as follows: VV, Adriano, Piqué, Puyol, Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Alexis, Messi and Pedro. Correctly predicted by none other than Ade! If only my predictions were as useful. I could say I predicted that JDS wouldn’t even make the bench – and he didn’t – but that’s probably obvious. Alexis and Adriano* were understandably chosen over their counterparts, Dani Alves and Villa, mainly because their performances as of late have been below standard. I can say that because apart from watching them play – obviously – there have been countless rumours floating around about their future at Barça. Sigh. It’s gonna be a long transfer window!
*he was also chosen because he’s our second best striker. Except he’s not a striker. Yeah!
Here are the highlights from the match. Worth watching for Adriano’s golazo! And Busquets’ goal. And Messi’s brace. Falcao’s goal was pretty cool too. Actually, just watch it all!
Atlético looked dangerous from the start, with a header from Falcao at 9m just hitting the post. Ah, the goalpost, our trustworthy defender. It never lets us down. Barça had a pretty slow start to the first half but they were probably awoken by Messi’s free kick in the 23rd minute. It went straight into the wall. Crazy vibrations and all that. That pretty useless free kick was all very well and good until Barça were hit on an Atlético counter attack a minute later. Falcao’s touch was slightly too strong and the ball skimmed past the post, but not for long. Atlético’s first and only goal of the evening came from, you guessed it, Falcao. It was a good goal at that; he outran the entire team, chipped the ball right over VV and made it look too darn easy.
You’re Barcelona, what do you do when you’re 0-1 down? You get your best goalscorer* on the case, that’s what. You may ask who this goalscorer is. It’s Adriano, of course! Who else would it be?
*Spoiler alert: our best goalscorer does, infact, score two goals in this match.
Adriano’s goal was very impressive, actually. I’d add a video of it but the ones I’ve found aren’t great quality and besides, it’s in the highlights video above. Go watch it!
So we had an almost-mandatory-these-days Adriano goal. Now what? Another goal, I hear you say! Yes! This time from the best defensive midfielder in the world, who always does his job so well that we never see him and that’s why he’s the best, with inch perfect passes and not one misplaced pass ever, a 10/10 performance every single match…*exhales*…BUSQUETS!
Now Busquets’ goal was, according to Pinto, “cold-blooded”. At least I hope “sangre fría” means cold-blooded, or I’ll have made a fool of myself. That certainly won’t have been the first time. So, yes, as I was saying, Busquets’ goal. Alexis passed to him, he paused about for a second or so and then made the shot. I like to think his tiny pause was due to some kind of crazy goal-seeking vision he has. “Target discovered. Position taken. Shoot!” – something like that. And I like that. His calmness and ability to take a step back for a moment allowed that goal to happen.
That concluded the first half. Barça settled down in the later minutes of the first half, thankfully. The second half started off in a similar manner. Atlético subbed Suarez, a midfielder, for Adrian, an attacker. Their shape changed, and not for the better. After Messi’s goal (I have basically lost track of how many he’s score this year. A lot), Simeone swapped Diego Costa for Tiago, which reset Atlético back to their original 4-4-2. Oh yeah, Messi’s goal. See, you almost forget his goals because they’re such a foregone conclusion these days. It was a nice, simple goal, assisted by Alexis. Tito looked pleased and shouted “vamos!” in celebration. He’s not the cool cucumber you thought he was…
Atlético were looking tired during the second half and struggled to keep up. Barça, meanwhile, stayed focused and didn’t become complacent even at 3-1 up. Why do I say that? Because they scored in the 88th minute. The fourth goal came from that sneaky trickster, Messi. Barça’s attitude after the third goal was very positive. They kept attacking up until the 90th minute. If this was last season, we would probably have seen them drop the pace and end up conceding two more, with the game finishing in a draw. However, this is not last season! I think the attitude of the whole team has changed and there’s a renewed hunger. You just gotta look at the league table. Barça aren’t taking any prisoners this season. Atlético played quite well which isn’t reflected by the scoreline, but them’s the breaks. Although as Barça fans, we know all about playing well and not having a scoreline to prove it.
Real Madrid drew against Espanyol (yes, really) earlier in the day, resulting in Barça being 13 points clear of them. Yesterday’s win has also opened up a 9 point gap between Barça and Atlético, but you probably knew that already. Of course, it would be very foolish to assume the league is Barça’s, but if things stay the same, it will be Barça’s to lose. But things likely won’t stay the same because HLEBRUARY.
Before I move on to the player ratings, in the match preview, Ade promised fleeting internet fame to whoever made the correct prediction for this match. Although not 100% correct, a special mention to “BarcaA” for correctly predicting the number of Barça goals, a Messi brace and a goal from Adriano! Pedro didn’t quite do the impossible though. But, nevertheless, woo! Can we award fleeting internet fame anyway? I think so. Holiday spirit and all that!
Valdes – 6.5. Falcao’s goal was excellent and I don’t think there was any way Valdes could have saved it. He was probably a little too far out in his box, but the goal wasn’t disastrous in the end.
Adriano – 8. An excellent goal and just an excellent performance. Previously, I didn’t think he was as good on the right flank as he was on the left, but he’s beginning to prove otherwise. Dani Alves has serious competition if Adriano stays on form for the rest of the season – and healthy. Please don’t get injured!
Piqué – 7.5. When he’s not busy listening to Frank Sinatra and decorating Christmas trees, he also plays CB for Barça! He’s on form and after a few dodgy matches early in the season, that is most definitely welcome.
Puyol – 6.5. He had a few dodgy moments, but this is Puyol and I can’t be too harsh. That’s mainly because I’m scared he’ll track me down and roar at me and burst my eardrums…
Jordi Alba – 7.5. With Pedro and Alexis being rather ineffective in attacking, Adriano and Alba pick up the pieces. I may now refer to them as the A team. Because of their surnames…yes, anyway, the killer squirrel did not disappoint. The left flank is finally open for business!
Busquets – 12, obviously!!!. I’m awarding him MOTM. This is for Ade. Seriously though, he was superb and his goal was the icing on the cake. And no one can disagree with him being man of the match because Valdes said he was too. So there!
Xavi – 7. This was an oddly quiet match for Xavi, but he was still there and doing his thing.
Iniesta – 7. Atlético’s pesky defenders wouldn’t stop buzzing around him when he had the ball. I believe he was the one who provided the perfect pass that found Adriano before he scored, but I’m also watching the replay of the goal in terrible quality and can’t say for sure.
Pedro – 4.5. I don’t know, is this harsh? But Pedro, what’s going on? He was anonymous. Can we have Pedro the goal machine back yet?
Messi – 7. Even with a below-par match, he still scores two goals. That’s just how Messi works.
Alexis – 5.5. Made a wonderful run and pass to assist Messi’s first goal. But that was about it and he’s still not playing at his potential. I swear I say that every time I give Alexis a rating.
And finally! There was a pitch invader and Messi gave him a hug. Now you know what you gotta do if you want a hug from Messi – invade the pitch. Sounds easy.