La Liga: FC Barcelona 2-0 Deportivo La Coruna: Match Review

No wonder Alexis doesn't score very often if this is his "goal face" :P - David Ramos

A recap of Barcelona's 2-0 win over last-place Deportivo La Coruna at the Camp Nou

Even with one eye on Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16, second-leg clash with AC Milan, Barcelona managed to secure the three points on Saturday night, defeating Deportivo La Coruna at the Camp Nou. Alexis Sánchez put Barça ahead on 38 minutes, converting Dani Alves’ sumptuous cross with a sublime header but the Blaugrana left it until late to secure the three points, as substitute Lionel Messi lifted the ball over Dani Aranzubia in the 88th minute, grabbing his 51st goal of the season in the process.

Barcelona

Deportivo

Possession

72%

28%

Total Shots

12

4

Shots on Target

7

0

Pass Accuracy

91%

72%

Fouls

14

10

Offsides

6

2

Yellow Cards

2

1

Red Cards

0

0

Barcelona made seven changes to the side that lost 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu, as Jose Manuel Pinto replaced the suspended Victor Valdés, while Carles Puyol, Adriano Correia, Alex Song, Cesc Fàbregas, Cristian Tello and Alexis Sánchez started ahead of Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Andrés Iniesta, Pedro and Lionel Messi respectively. It was clear that Jordi Roura had one eye on Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League tie with AC Milan; would this "weakened" Barcelona XI be able to claim the three points at the Camp Nou?

Barcelona started well, showing little signs of their recent "poor" form to take control of the match right from the get-go. Carles Puyol was anchoring the defense brilliantly, eliminating the danger whenever Deportivo threatened to muster an attack, while Dani Alves was marauding down the right-flank to create a few chances. In fact, it was the Brazilian who registered the game’s first shot on target, firing a shot at Aranzubia from a tight angle following a blocked cross. Alves then turned creator, lifting a delightful pass over the Depor defense to find Fabregas, but Cesc couldn’t keep his shot down and the chance was wasted.

Deportivo came into the match with the league’s worst defensive record, and the league’s worst record away from home – and it became increasingly obvious as the match continued. Barcelona were simply too strong for Depor, but they just couldn’t turn their dominance into goals. They were certainly creating chances. Cristian Tello hit the post with a deflected shot around the 20 minute mark; David Villa completely forgot how to finish, missing what appeared to be an "easy" one-on-one chance and Adriano was the next to be denied as Daniel Aranzubia made an early case for Man of the Match.

However, in spite of Aranzubia’s heroics, Deportivo simply didn’t (or couldn’t) find a way to stop Barcelona creating chances, so you knew that sooner or later, Barça would be able to convert and take the lead. It may have taken a little longer than some expected, but after 38 minutes, the Blaugrana took the lead courtesy of Alexis Sánchez.

Dani Alves had been one of Barça’s standout performers in the opening half of action at the Camp Nou and unsurprisingly, he was involved with the goal, supplying an inch-perfect cross from the right-flank to find Alexis Sánchez. The Chilean hasn’t been at his best this season, but he has shown signs of improvement – including this brilliant header from the edge of the six-yard box which even Aranzubia couldn’t keep out. Thanks to Sánchez’ fifth goal of the season Barça were deservedly ahead headed into the half-time break.

Neither manager made a change at the break. Despite falling behind, Deportivo would have been relatively satisfied with the scoreline after the opening half of play while it was clear that Barcelona were in control – meaning there was no need to bring Lionel Messi off the bench, at least not yet. However, Barcelona didn’t start the second half with the same sort of intensity as they finished the first, and as a result, they found chances a little hard to come by. On paper, it didn’t matter. Barcelona were 1-0 ahead and Deportivo had barely ventured into the Barcelona half, let alone forced a save out of Pinto, but given Barcelona’s recent track record with clean sheets, they probably needed another goal to secure the three points.

Fortunately, an Argentine striker named Lionel Messi and a Spanish international named Andrés Iniesta were ready to enter the fray. And in typical fashion, Messi soon had the ball nestling in the back of the net, pouncing on the rebound following a shot from Andrés Iniesta, but the Argentine was (correctly) flagged for offside and the score remained at 1-0. This prompted Roura into his final substitution as Sergio Busquets replaced Cesc Fàbregas, who left the field to a smattering of boos.

Barcelona were not playing particularly well and their minds had clearly wandered to the task ahead, but they still had enough left in the tank to carve Deportivo open one last time, allowing Lionel Messi to claim his 40th league goal of the season – and secure the three points. It was fabulous finish from the Argentine superstar who delicately lifted the ball over the despairing reach of Aranzubia to strike in his seventeenth successive La Liga appearance. Sánchez will be credited with the assist, but it was fantastic team goal and more than that, it was a sign that Barcelona are ready to take on AC Milan on Tuesday.


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