Goals from Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique ensured that the hosts secured all the bragging rights in this Catalan derby. After Manchester United all but secured the English league, Barca did the same, and the clash on May 28 looks set to be worthy of the Champions League.
After the scenes at the Roman Sanchez Pizjuan last night, where Real Madrid destroyed Sevilla 6-2, there was no way Barcelona could retain the title. That however, did not mean that they were about to let Espanyol off easy.
The lineup of Valdes-Alves-Masvherano-Pique-Fontas-Xavi-Busquets-Iniesta-Pedro-Villa-Messi was the strongest available, at least with Puyol presumably being rested for Wednesday, where he can lift the La Liga trophy.
Barcelona started as they usually do, dominating the possession, but chances were few and far between. Pedro managed a shot on goal, but up until the 28th minute, there was a distinct lack of shots on goal.
Iniesta was going to change this. And how!
In true Guardiola style, he regained possession on the edge of the Espanyol box, then skipped past a defender, before sending a shot into the bottom corner.
Iniesta is in fine form, and showing why many believe he is the best player in the world, not called Messi.
Then, came a move so breath-taking, it made the French commentators on my stream yelp, and one exclaimed "Sacre Bleu!"
Barca had possession, with Fontas on the left, and when he passed it to Messi, the genius shone though. Messi back heeled it to Andres Iniesta who only needed one-touch to stab it in the direction of Villa, who slotted it home, only for the ref to disallow it.
Barcelona were firmly in control of this derby match, and the second half beckoned.
Straight away, Barca sprang to life, with Iniesta playing in Pedro, and his shot was tipped wide. Corner to Barcelona, and surely this wasn’t an opportunity for tiki-taka Barca to score?
Well, Espanyol, in case you didn’t see from the goal, are absolutely horrible at defending set pieces. Pique didn’t need to "rise like a salmon", or manhandle a defender. He only needed to run to head the ball.
The defending was criminal, and as quickly as you could say "Waka Waka", Barcelona had doubled their lead.
After that goal, the game went dead. Espanyol didn’t look to attack the Blaugrana, and well, Barcelona didn’t need to attack. Of course they did, and Villa had a couple of half-chances, but those aside, all the action came in the first minute or so, at least in the second half.
More great news though, as Eric Abidal played 20 minutes off the bench. I would say he was the man of the match again, but Iniesta was simply magnificent, and it would be a little harsh not to acknowledge this.
One point to go, and possibly not even that depending on the Real result on Tuesday.
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