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12-23-2012, 02:58 AM
les Habs
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I need to catch up on some matches. Really nice match from Barça against Valladolid to get it started.

Well the team started off really well. Alexis with a great chance in the 5th minute. Should have used his left foot and probably should have scored. Great passing in a tight space by the players in the buildup. After that though I felt that Valladolid were the better side for about the next quarter of an hour. From there on in though we took over the game until the last 5 minutes or so when they scored their equalizer. The team wasn't even slacking as it was a nice goal by Valladolid. Overall a great team performance.

A couple of notes on players. Another huge performance from Messi. More on this with his goals, but there's so much more there than the amazing stats. Speaking of stats though, he could have easily had a hattrick and really should have. I really liked Thiago. I read/hear a lot of people say "well so and so is just a generational player" and "they won't have another Messi." Well how about another Xavi? I mean this kid should reach Xavi's level and possibly be even better when you consider his skillset. Thiago with a bunch of nice touches and one-touch passes throughout the match. He worked hard off the ball and gets into good positions. Big performance from him. Interesting too as a lot of the time Thiago played deeper generally with Xavi getting forward more and closer to the box. Busquets was another standout. Another performance to highlight a player that most neutrals or detractors should see. Some great work in the "dark arts" defensively and some nice footwork on the ball. Have to mention Dani Alves as well. Some excellent service from Dani Alves in this game and he was a real threat on the right flank. I know their have been rumors this season, but I've seen nothing to suggest we sell him. We've got greater depth in terms of quality of performance right now than we have in some time, but he still is an important player for this team. Some nice workrate from Pedro. Sanchez got into good positions. Some nice defensive plays from Mascherano. Overall a great team performance really.

First goal was a microcosm of the way the team played until that point. Short quick passes with smart runs. What I loved though was what Messi did on that play. Came deep and when he had the ball with a player right in front of him, all he did was dwell on the ball a few seconds. Could have laid it off to Thiago, but held it, then made a run, played a give and go and then the ball was with Alba who slotted it to Xavi. Messi with the majority of the buildup and a nice goal all around, yet he doesn't get an assist. I normally watch the Sky broadcasts of the matches, but in the interest of time I downloaded a BeIN version tonight and Ray Hudson was hilarious on this goal: "You people with your lucky, fancy machines, just keep hitting that reply button." One funny thing about the goal too was that until that point Alba didn't get forward much at all. It was all Dani down the right flank, yet Alba on one of his few forays forward he gets the assist. He's not pretty much equalled his stats with Valencia in the league for all of last season. Oh, and another late goal giving use the lead going into the halfway mark. Then right after the restart you've got 4 players going at goal and Sanchez wasted the pass when he could have put Thiago through, but love that sort of attacking mentality. Then to start the second half we almost have another goal within minutes after some great give and go play from Dani and Pedro.

Second goal was another really good one. I think what sums up Messi though in what separates him from the likes of other players is the play just moments before. Valiente had the ball and some how Messi as he's harrassing him forces the corner. I still don't know how it happened, but just futher testament to what sort of player this kid is. Anyway, then he takes a poor shot on a really good chance which he seconds later follows up with a really nice goal. He could have played it out wide to Sanchez, and it looked like he was going to, but instead he holds onto it and puts it off the far post. But the again buildup was something. He holds off a player and gets it to Xavi, continues his run getting Xavi's backheel and right after he looks like he's going to play it out wide to Sanchez he puts it between a guys legs before the shot. Just that whole sequence alone shows you how great he really is, making plays out of nothing, and how much better he is than everyone else. Ridiculous to even consider anyone else for the Ballon d' Or.

Third goal was a gift to Tello with comical defending from that last defender as Tello went through, but I have to say he looked confident in the finish. In fact he looked to the left side of goal but placed it right. Regardless, the one thing that he needs more than anything is end product and that was it. A nice way to top of signing a new deal. Ditto for Xavi and Messi.

It has to be said, another really nice away atmosphere. Valladolid supporters were not only in the match most of the time, but very classy in their respective receptions of Villa and Iniesta. Their players gave them a nice goal and some nice late drama as well. Some of our canteranos in their side as well with Valiente and I think Sastre. Bueno was one of Madrid's I know. Some quality in that team.

Overall another big win in a number of ways. For starters it's great going into the break with a win. Couple that with a Madrid loss and it's even better. Also a big win considering the news about Tito this past week. Now I would expect this sort of response, but having that expectation met this way was great. Also a confidence booster for Roura. Actually his third win in charge this season, but different circumstances here. Finally away to Valladolid is a tricky fixture. Madrid only won 2-3, Betis 0-1 and Valencia only managed a draw. Valladolid are pretty good side if they continue to play like that then they deserve their place in the table.

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