Barcelona wrapped up a routine win over Osasuna at the Camp Nou, despite playing way below their usual level. The Blaugrana got goals from David Villa – his first in twelve matches – and Lionel Messi – his 50th of the season.
After the huge win over Valencia, Real Madrid had ensured that the pressure was still on Barcelona to get the win against Osasuna. Like Mourinho, Guardiola was also resting key players, and the starting XI of Valdes, Alves, Mascherano, Milito, Maxwell, Busquets, Thiago, Keita, Jeffren, Villa and Afellay proved Barca have one eye on Wednesday’s encounter.
With the 3 Ballon D’Or nominees on the bench, all eyes were on David Villa to get the goals, and snap out of his well-publicised goal-drought. He started well, and his shot on 2 minutes was a sign of things to come, as it flashed just wide.
Next chance came from Afellay, as the Blaugrana showed no signs of missing their fabled trio, and the Dutchman had his attempt deflected onto the roof of the net. El Guaje won a free-kick on 16, but could only manage to hit the wall.
The new front three were combining well, and when Afellay played Jeffren down the line, the Spaniard fizzed in a brilliant ball, and who else would get on the end of it but the much-maligned Villa, and his sliding finish was pure class.
The relief on his face told it all.
Osasuna still had chances, and Valdes had to be at full stretch to deny them an equaliser as they pushed before half-time.
Barca were ahead, and Villa had broke his drought. How about Messi to come on for 5 minutes and hit the magical 50?
Well, maybe not 5 minutes…
Barca restarted the second half having made one change, Jeffren only completing 45 minutes on his return and Andres Iniesta was to take his place.
Maybe Barca would play better with the World Cup winner back on the pitch?
Even the introduction of Messi and Xavi for Villa and Milito respectively failed to rouse the team, and I only counted one shot by the Blaugrana up until the 85th minute.
Even that was poor, Iniesta blazing over after a cut back. The Catalans were not extending themselves, I just hope it was out of choice with Wednesday/Doomsday looming.
After the 85th minute though, and the game momentarily popped into life. Messi weaving his magic and applying the finish.
That’s a half-century of goals from one man.
Game over, Barcelona won 2-0, and my choice of MOTM goes to the Dutchman Ibrahim Afellay. His tireless work rate, blistering pace, and outstanding vision were the difference today.
Bring on Wednesday, bring on Mourinho and bring on the Champions League!
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