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FC Barcelona 2-1 Hamburger SV: Match Review


FC Barcelona delivered a win for new coach Tito Vilanova who was taking charge of his first match as first team coach. Facing Hamburg at the Imtech Arena in their first pre-season match, Dani Alves put the Blaugrana ahead with a thumping strike from the edge of the area after poor defending from Hamburg, but Tolgay Arslan equalised for the hosts as Barca were caught short at the back after a mistake in possession. However, Gerard Deulofeu restored the lead with a little over five minutes left to play in the opening half, and despite a plethora of changes at the break, Barcelona held on for a comfortable win.






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The starting line-up didn’t bring any huge surprises, with Alexis Sanchez filling in for the injured Lionel Messi, meaning that Ibrahim Afellay and Gerard Deulofeu were positioned on either wing. Javi Espinosa was the one "surprise" choice in a midfield completed by Jonathan Dos Santos and Sergi Roberto. In defense, Javier Mascherano and Marc Bartra were joined by the two Brazilians – Dani Alves and Adriano.

Immediately Barcelona settled into their usual possession style, and unsurprisingly it was Gerard Deulofeu who was causing the Hamburg defense the most grief. Entering the left-side of the area Deulofeu tried to open up some space with a few step-overs, but only won a corner for his trouble. Not that it would matter, Barcelona were about to open the scoring. The corner was floated in towards the back-post, and quite simply the Hamburg defense failed to clear their lines, allowing Alexis Sanchez time and space to set up Dani Alves, who emphatically struck the ball into the net at the first time of asking. With a little over five minutes on the clock, Tito Vilanova and Barcelona were off to the best possible start.

Deulofeu continued to trouble the Hamburg ranks with his direct dribbling, but also with his movement off the ball. The Blaugrana were often benefitting from a man advantage in attack thanks to Alves’ forward runs, but on this occasion Gerard Deulofeu was the "extra man" and after being supplied with the ball he fired a decent shot across goal, which was saved by Rene Adler. However, this being the first game of pre-season, Barcelona was also making mistakes.

Heung-Min Son fired off a warning with an admittedly tame effort from the edge of the box, but when he was gifted an opportunity just moments later courtesy of a mistake in possession from Barca, he took it with both hands. After the mistake Hamburg had a three-on-two situation in their favour, and when Heung-Min Son received possession he displayed composure far beyond his years to cut inside of the desperate slide tackle from Javier Mascherano, and while his shot was diverted onto the bar by Jose Manuel Pinto, it was a fabulous effort from the South Korean forward. Barca tried to block the rebound, but Tolgay Arslan’s shot found its way over the line and HSV were level.

Barcelona nearly found an immediate reply from Alexis Sanchez, but his "goal" was correctly ruled offside by the linesman. That being said, the Blaugrana didn’t have to wait too long before retaking the lead as Gerard Deulofeu finally got the goal his performance had deserved just five minutes before the interval. Ibrahim Afellay had the initial chance – which was eerily similar to a chance Deulofeu had earlier – dragging a shot across goal, with Adler again parrying the ball back into play but this time he paid the price as Deulofeu applied the finish. With one half in the books, Barcelona were leading 2-1.

Tito made multiple changes at the break, with Ivan Balliu, Marc Muniesa, Carles Planas, Ilie, Cristian Lobato, Sergi Gomez, Patric, Joan Roman Angel and Rafinha all taking the field, as Pinto and Sergi Roberto were the only two players to start both halves. With all those changes (and with Hamburg making changes of their own), the game was always going to suffer, and although Barcelona were still keeping possession well, they were also making errors as a back-pass to Pinto nearly went horribly wrong. However, that was just the tip of the iceberg as more bad news followed in the form of a potentially serious injury to Marc Muniesa.

Muniesa was running towards the ball when he went down without a challenge, holding his knee. Muniesa looked in real pain, and while injuries are never a welcome sight, it’s even worse to see a player go down in such a meaningless fixture. Despite being replaced at half-time, Marc Bartra was allowed back on –credit to Hamburg for allowing that.

In all honesty, the second half was a fairly uneventful affair, with the first half-chance of note coming around the 70 minute mark as a cross was sent into the area towards Cristian Lobato, but HSV dealt with the danger well. Somewhat bizarrely that was the cue for Oier Olazabal to replace Pinto, and the chances started to come thick and fast. Lobato again was the target of a long pass, and Adler rushed from goal, but couldn’t get to the ball. This left Lobato with a chance to extend the lead, but he made a real mess of the shot, lifting the ball into the crowd.

Hamburg did have a chance to equalise through Artjoms Rudnevs, but the Latvian couldn’t keep his header down after a good delivery from the corner kick. Barcelona responded with a chance of their own from another corner, as Rafinha’s looping corner was played back into the area at the far post, but Marc Bartra – like Rudnevs before him – couldn’t keep his header down. Lobato then let fly with a thunderous long-range strike, which forced Adler into an impressive save. That was the last significant action of the match, and Tito Vilanova will undoubtedly be pleased that he could deliver a victory for his first match in charge.

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