La Liga: FC Barcelona 5-1 CA Osasuna: Match Review

David Ramos

A recap of Barcelona's emphatic 5-1 win over ten-man Osasuna at the Camp Nou

FC Barcelona were at their irresistible best on Sunday night at the Camp Nou, running out comfortable 5-1 winners over relegation-threatened Osasuna. Lionel Messi opened the scoring on 11 minutes, virtually walking the ball into the net, but his goal was cancelled out by Raoul Loe’s long-range strike. Unfortunately, that goal proved to be a false dawn for Osasuna, who were reduced to ten men after Alejandro Arribas picked up a second yellow-card for handling in the area. Messi dispatched the penalty to put the Blaugrana back ahead, and after Pedro doubled Barça’s lead with a tap-in on 40 minutes, Messi completed his four-goal haul with a second-half brace.

Barcelona

Osasuna

Possession

75%

25%

Total Shots

17

3

Shots on Target

8

1

Pass Accuracy

90%

63%

Fouls

10

9

Offsides

10

2

Yellow Cards

1

2

Red Cards

0

1

Barcelona made five changes to the side that defeated Malaga on Thursday night, as Victor Valdés, Carles Puyol, Adriano Correia, Thiago Alcântara and David Villa were all handed starts, with Jose Manuel Pinto, Jordi Alba, Cesc Fàbregas and Andrés Iniesta all dropping to the bench ahead of Wednesday’s Clasico. Would Barcelona’s "MVP" strike-force be able to find a way past one of La Liga’s best defenses?

Barcelona immediately settled into their stride at the Camp Nou, establishing control of the game against relegation-threatened Osasuna – who seemed content to sit back and absorb pressure. Even with one of the league’s best keepers, you could tell that their strategy was flawed. Barcelona score goals for fun, they could have taken the lead with their very first shot on target. Credit to Carles Puyol who displayed fabulous technique to find the run of Thiago with an impressive diagonal pass. As one might expect, Thiago’s first-touch was exceptional. Taking the ball in his stride with a fabulous piece of chest control, Thiago took a touch to set himself – with his head no less – but he couldn’t quite lift his shot over the advancing Andrés Fernandez.

However, while Fernandez was at his best to deny Thiago the game’s opening goal, he negated that impressive piece of goal-keeping less than ten minutes later, when he made a mistake that cost Osasuna dearly. Rushing from goal to clear an attempted through ball (destined for David Villa), Fernandez’ couldn’t get enough distance on his clearance and not only that, but his clearance fell kindly at the feet of Xavi Hernández. A selfish player might have been tempted to go for a shot; Fernandez was out-of-position after all, but Xavi, ever the team player, took a touch and picked out Lionel Messi with a sumptuous through ball. The Argentine advanced on goal, and after tricking Andrés Fernandez with a deft body swerve, he simply walked the ball into the net for his 30th La Liga goal of the season.

11 minutes had been played at the Camp Nou, and Barça were already ahead. Given that Osasuna have struggled for goals, it appeared as though Barcelona would go on to record a comfortable victory. Then again, maybe we should know better...

Since the game’s opening goal, all the "chances" had fallen Osasuna’s way. Miguel De Las Cuevas had a shot blocked and Oier also had a shot blocked following a cross from Nano. Alejandro Arribas was then booked for a needless handball, which would come back to haunt Osasuna, but only after they had levelled the scores. Marc Bertran was the architect, delivering a cross from the byline following a one-two with Oier. Unfortunately for Joseba Llorente who would have relished a chance to attack a rare Osasuna cross, Adriano momentarily cleared the danger at the near post, but only as far as Raoul Loe, who fired the ball into the bottom corner of Valdés’ net at the first-time of asking.

Was a shock on the cards at the Camp Nou? Would eighteenth-place Osasuna be able to frustrate the league leaders? Not a chance. Pedro may have wasted a good chance to score Barcelona’s second goal just minutes after Loe’s equaliser, but Barça continued to exert pressure on the visiting defense. Adriano was the next to take a shot at goal, and while his shot was blocked it was done so illegally, as Alejandro Arribas handled for the second time in a ten-minute period. Referee Fernando Teixeira Vitienes was left with no choice but to point to the spot, and hand Arribas his second yellow card of the evening. Osasuna were down to ten men, and Messi duly stepped up to compound their misery with a well-taken penalty.

Lionel Messi nearly completed his hat-trick around the half-hour mark after a nice pass from Dani Alves set the Argentine up for a shot at goal, but unfortunately his effort was deflected behind for a corner. The Blaugrana were then denied their third goal of the evening courtesy of a bad decision by the assistant referee, who incorrectly flagged for offside to disallow Pedro a much-needed goal. Lionel Messi came closer still to his hat-trick on 38 minutes and again, it was Dani Alves who supplied the Argentine with the chance but this time La Pulga was denied a rare headed goal by the frame of Andrés Fernandez’ goal. But Barça were not about to lose faith; they continued to press forward and with 40 minutes played, they got their reward.

Xavi deserves credit for his diagonal lobbed-pass which found Dani Alves in acres of space, and instead of trying his luck with a shot, Alves decided to selflessly square the ball to Pedro, who slotted home for his fifth La Liga goal of the season – bringing him level with Adriano. And that was how the half finished; Barcelona finished 3-1 ahead, and looked set to coast to their nineteenth win of the season.

Neither manager opted to make a change at the break, and just like the first-half, Barça managed to score with their first shot-on-target. Unsurprisingly, it was Messi who got the goal; after starting the move with a pass out wide to Villa, Messi made a nice run to receive a return pass from El Guaje and as expected, he made a mockery of the Osasuna defense by finishing the chance from such a tight angle.

Within a minute of the restart, he was at it again, this time slotting home his fourth of the evening after a pass from Adriano. Osasuna just couldn’t cope with Barcelona’s off-the-ball movement, and with a healthy lead, Jordi Roura could now turn his attention to the midweek Clasico, taking off three key players for the remaining 20-30 minutes. Pedro was the first to make way, and he was replaced by the out-of-form Chilean, Alexis Sánchez. He was soon joined on the bench by Xavi, who received a well-earned rest after 67 minutes of action – Cesc Fàbregas his replacement. Speaking of former Arsenal midfielders, Alex Song was also given a rare run-out, allowing Sergio Busquets to sit out the final 20 minutes.

Naturally, Alexis managed to miss a number of clear-cut chances in his time on the field, but at least he was creating chances to miss with his movement and work-rate off the ball. Eventually, his movement will result in a goal, and when it does, there’s a distinct possibility that Sánchez will be able to go on a goal-scoring run – it’s just a case of waiting for that goal to materialise.

David Villa nearly added a sixth in injury-time with a close-range shot assisted by Messi, but Andrés Fernandez denied El Guaje with a stunning reflex save. However, I’m sure we will be content with not only the scoreline, but the nature of the win heading into Wednesday’s match with Real Madrid. Until then, Visca el Barça!

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