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FC Barcelona 2-0 Dinamo Bucureşti: Match Review

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El Guaje is back!
El Guaje is back!

FC Barcelona finished pre-season with a 2-0 victory over Romanian side Dinamo Bucureşti with the goals coming courtesy of a typically composed finish from Lionel Messi and a delightful (Messi-esque) chip from Ibrahim Afellay. The Blaugrana dominated proceedings at the National Arena in Bucharest, and on another night they could have scored so many more. The win ensured that Barcelona ended their pre-season unbeaten, but the big news comes in the shape of a long-awaited return to action for David Villa, who played 20 minutes in his comeback from a broken leg.






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The big news prior to kick-off involved David Villa, who was ruled fit enough for a place on the bench, paving the way for his potential return from injury. There were also a few surprises in Tito’s starting XI, as Dani Alves started at right-back despite missing training during the week with a slight knock, while Jordi Alba made his first start for the club. All in all, it was a very strong line-up, and save for Marc Bartra and potentially Cesc Fàbregas, it might just be the strongest XI at Tito’s disposal, and it didn’t take long for Barcelona’s superiority to show. Just four minutes into the match and the Blaugrana broke the deadlock.

Barcelona were looking comfortable in possession, using the ball well in the opening stages of the game, but it was their attitude off the ball that created the goal. A Dinamo defender was dallying in possession, so Alexis Sanchez moved in to nick the ball away and make the pass to Messi. It may well have been Leo’s first touch of the game, but it wasn’t going to make a difference as La Pulga dropped a shoulder to shake off the challenge of Grigore and curled a left-footed shot into the far corner of the net. After going 90 minutes against Manchester United without scoring, the goal was a huge boost.

Minutes later Sanchez was at it again, pressuring the Dinamo keeper into a poor clearance, and then moments later he turned creator once more, beating his man on the left to send in a low cross, but Messi couldn’t keep his effort down. Messi also had another chance on the 16th minute after good work on the left-flank by Jordi Alba, but having controlled Alba’s driven cross, Messi couldn’t engineer enough space for a decent effort on goal.

Heavily favouring the left-hand side of the field, Barca were creating chance after chance against a shaky Dinamo defense with Alexis Sanchez causing the most problems with his relentless pressing. Dinamo quite simply couldn’t cope with Barcelona’s creativity and the sheer number of bodies that they were committing to each attack, and Messi had yet another chance to extend Barca’s lead. Playing a one-two with childhood teammate Cesc Fàbregas, Messi tried to catch the keeper off-guard at the near post, but he could only find the side-netting.

Around the 35 minute mark, Pedro and Alexis swapped wings meaning that Pedro could try his luck down the left-hand side. Just like with Sanchez, Alba built up an instant rapport with his compatriot, freeing him with a delightful lobbed pass, but on that occasion, Pedro’s control deserted him. However, when Alba played Pedro in again just minutes later, his control was better, but this time his finishing was a little off as he swerved his shot wide of the far post.

Pedro turned creator for Barcelona’s next chance, playing the ball into the six-yard box towards Dani Alves, but under pressure from the Dinamo defense, the Brazilian couldn’t divert the ball goal-wards. It was the final chance of an impressive first-half showing from the Catalans, but heading into the break, it was only 1-0 to Barcelona.

As we have grown accustomed to in Barcelona’s pre-season matches, Tito utilised the half-time break to make a number of changes as Martin Montoya, Javier Mascherano, Adriano, Sergi Roberto, Andrés Iniesta and Ibrahim Afellay all took the field with Dani Alves, Piqué, Alba, Busquets, Fàbregas and Alexis all making way. That meant that Sergi Roberto was at pivote, presumably with a view to judging whether or not Barca needs to sign a new midfielder in the coming weeks. Dinamo started the second half, forcing a corner and a good save out of Victor Valdés, although they were going to have to improve further if they were to salvage a result out of the game.

The half-time subs had affected Barcelona’s rhythm so it took them a good 15-20 minutes to get back into their stride, but when they did, the chances started to come in thick and fast once again. Iniesta had a chance to double the lead with a lob over the Dinamo keeper, although somewhat uncharacteristically his technique was lacking and he lifted the effort well over the bar.

This was around the hour mark, and Tito took this as a signal to make yet more substitutions as Ilie, Cristian Tello and Andreu Fontas were brought (for Xavi, Pedro and Bartra) on with the latter making his return after seven months out with a knee injury. Tello made an instant impact, straying offside within seconds of arriving on the field.

Barcelona nearly created another chance, and it won’t surprise you to know that Messi and Iniesta were the players involved. The Argentine fed Iniesta, who was positioned on the edge of the Dinamo box, and shielding the ball from the challenge of a defender, Andrés played it back to Messi with a superb back-heel. Leo was tackled before he could get his shot off, but it was a good move from the Blaugrana.

Then, with a little over 15 minutes remaining, David Villa returned to the field. Sidelined since December with a broken leg, he replaced Sergi Roberto (who may or may not be injured) to a good ovation from the Romanian crowd. It was great to see El Guaje back, even if he couldn’t seal his comeback with a goal. Rafinha replaced Lionel Messi with 76 minutes on the clock which coincidentally allowed Villa the space he needed to play a one-two and even if he ran out of space to control the return pass, it was promising play nonetheless. Ibi forced a good save from the Dinamo keeper with a stinging left-footed effort on the 83rd minute, and with play drawing to a close it was the Dutchman who put the icing on the cake with a fabulous chip after a great pass from Javier Mascherano. Barcelona may have only won by two goals, but it could have been so many more and you get the feeling that there is much more to come from Tito Vilanova’s side. Next up is the league opener against Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou (home, sweet home!), Visca el Barca!

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