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FC Barcelona 7-0 Valerenga IF: Match Review

A recap of Barcelona's emphatic 7-0 pre-season victory over Valerenga at the Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo, as goals from Jean-Marie Dongou (2), Alexis Sanchez, Cristian Tello, Lionel Messi, Jonathan dos Santos and Joan Roman secured a landslide win for the visitors

Messi got himself back on the score-sheet with a goal this evening
Messi got himself back on the score-sheet with a goal this evening
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

FC Barcelona registered their first win of pre-season in spectacular fashion on Saturday evening at the Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo, smashing a stunning seven goals past their hosts Valerenga. Keen to erase all memories of their 2-0 defeat to Bayern Munich, Barcelona came roaring out of the gates and coasted into an early 3-0 lead, courtesy of goals from Alexis Sánchez, Cristian Tello and of course, Lionel Messi. Jonathan dos Santos added a fourth just minutes prior to half-time, Jean-Marie Dongou scored a quick-fire second-half brace before Joan Angel Roman rounded off proceedings with a sensational seventh.






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Jordi Roura opted for the same starting XI as Wednesday’s defeat against Bayern Munich, with all available first-team players granted a start – aside from third-choice keeper Oier Olazábal who would surely get some minutes in the second-half, just as he did at the Allianz Arena. Would this strong Barcelona line-up be able to defeat Valerenga in their own stadium? Would Lionel Messi score his first goal of pre-season?

Starting the match in a bright fashion, Barcelona stormed into an early lead courtesy of Chilean forward Alexis Sánchez. The former Udinese striker finished last season in scintillating form, and while he was far from his best on Wednesday against Bayern, Sánchez was keen to demonstrate what he could offer new coach Gerardo Martino who was watching on from the stands. Finding himself in acres of space after a failed Valerenga free-kick, Alexis displayed excellent concentration to stay on side and control Lionel Messi’s searching pass. Surging into the area, Sánchez cut inside the challenge of the Valerenga left-back and fired a low shot into the far corner of the net past the helpless Lars Hirschfield.

A poor start for the hosts – but it was about to get much worse, as just minutes later, Barcelona scored a second.

Once again, Lionel Messi was the creator; some 40-45 yards from goal Messi jinked past the challenge of a Valerenga midfielder, dropped a shoulder and threaded an exceptional pass through the eye of a needle, splitting the Valerenga defense to find the run of Cristian Tello. In a typically composed move, Tello opened up his body to slot the ball past Hirschfield and double Barcelona’s advantage with six minutes on the clock at the Ullevaal Stadion.

Before long, Barça added a third and this time it was Messi who got himself on the scoresheet. Combining with Sergi Roberto, Messi skipped past a couple of challenges to create himself space and dragged a left-footed shot across goal into the bottom corner of the net. For Messi, and for Barcelona in general, this was just too easy. Valerenga simply couldn’t cope with the gulf in quality. Sure, it was an excellent dribble and pass from Sergi Roberto, while the chance was finished in calm fashion by the Argentine maestro – but it was schoolboy defending from the hosts, who were supposed to be providing some sort of a "test" for their visitors.

Full of confidence and with momentum on his side, Roberto again combined with Messi moments later. Again dribbling into space to occupy the Valerenga defense, Roberto teed it up nicely for the Ballon d’Or winning striker, who this time couldn’t convert – rattling the frame of the goal with his effort from just outside the penalty area.

In fact, this match was shaping up to be the "Messi and Sergi Roberto show", as once again, the pair combined to excellent effect. Scooping the ball over the Valerenga defense, Roberto picked out the run of Messi, who – under pressure with his back to goal – attempted a spectacular back-heel finish. It could have easily been an early contender for "goal of the season" had it worked, but unfortunately Messi’s audacious flick was finger-tipped to safety by the relieved Hirschfield.

Certainly Lionel Messi looked determined to grab his second of the evening and having been thwarted on multiple occasions by Lars Hirschfield, one had to wonder whether Messi would ever get his second. Before the half-time break he was gifted one more chance to complete his brace, as Martin Montoya’s pin-point cross found Messi in space on the edge of the Valerenga penalty area. With the ball bouncing awkwardly, Messi hit it on the half-volley only to see his effort deflected by the Valerenga centre-half – more by luck than design – allowing Hirschfield to keep the ball out. For the moment at least, Valerenga were finding a way to keep the Blaugrana off the score-sheet. The question was: would their "luck" last?

Not a chance.

Since he opened the scoring with less than five minutes gone at the Ullevaal Stadion, Alexis Sánchez had been relatively quiet, but that was all about to change as the Chilean fizzed a low cross into the danger zone.

Would Messi get on the end of it, or maybe Cristian Tello? Sergi Roberto perhaps? Instead, somewhat surprisingly, Jonathan dos Santos controlled the cross, held off his man and hit the ball low and hard towards the near post. His shot was too hot for Hirschfield to handle – so after a relatively disappointing first-half, JDS had made amends with a goal – Barcelona’s fourth of the evening.

All in all, it was an impressive first-half display from FC Barcelona, and Gerardo Martino must have been hoping for more of the same after the interval.

Jordi Roura made three changes at the break; Lionel Messi departed with a goal and two assists to his name, while both Jose Manuel Pinto and Alex Song joined him on the bench with Jean-Marie Dongou, Oier Olazábal and Sergi Samper replacing the three stars. With Messi sitting on the bench, Barça’s resident utility man Adriano added another role to his repertoire: captain! (At least for tonight anyway)

Getting back to the action, Wednesday’s second-half against Bayern Munich was a disappointing night for young Jean-Marie Dongou, who barely saw a touch of the ball in his 45 minute appearance. Now up against weaker opposition, Dongou was surely relishing his chance to lead the line with a few first-team players in support – and we were all desperate to know whether or not he could make this chance count.

Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long for an answer.

With his first chance of the night – and indeed his first chance of pre-season – Dongou made it count, as just six minutes into the second-half, the Cameroonian striker ghosted into space behind the Valernega defense. Picked out by an excellent pass from Alexis Sánchez, Dongou proceeded to do what he does best, finishing the chance with aplomb. Slotting the ball calmly past Lars Hirschfield, his goal completed the Manita; and with over half-an-hour left to play, there was a chance that the scoring would not end here, for either Dongou or Barcelona.

Inspired by Barcelona’s first-half "blitz" Dongou added his second of the evening on the 55 minute mark, thanks to Alexis Sánchez’ third assist of the night. Dribbling into space in the Valerenga area, Sánchez selflessly passed up an opportunity to shoot by passing it to Dongou, and with an empty net to aim at, Dongou buried this golden chance to stretch Barça’s lead to a staggering six goals.

In amidst all the goals, it was easy to forget that another team was on the field. Valerenga had at least tried their best, put in the hard yards so to speak, with no sign of a reward. However, an hour into the game, Valerenga finally managed to test the Barcelona keeper as Mohammed Fellah registered the hosts first shot on target. Created by a clever back-heel from Daniel Freidheim Holm, Fellah hit his shot on the turn, but Oier was more than equal to the effort, getting down low to his left to deny the Norwegians a consolation goal.

Rather coincidentally, that chance was the final meaningful act before Jordi Roura made the rest of his scheduled changes. Off went the other eight first-team players, replaced by their counterparts from the B team squad. Kiko, Sergi Gomez, Carles Planas, Patric, Ilie, Javi Espinosa, Joan Roman and Dani Nieto all took to the field, with a little less than 30 minutes to make an impact.

Patric came closest to extending Barcelona’s lead, as Dani Nieto’s hesitance in the final third nearly cost Barcelona a good chance to score a seventh; but Nieto recovered and his attempted cross was deflected straight to Patric and the versatile B team player (playing at left-back tonight) tried his luck – missing the corner of the net by just a few feet.

However, that as not to be the last chance of the evening, as Barcelona finally notched their seventh of the night through Joan Angel Roman. Signed from Manchester City last season, the talented Spanish winger/attacking midfielder has been in excellent form this pre-season having scored twice in Barça B’s friendly win over L’Escala a week or more ago; and his potential was on full display here, as Roman jinked his way past a couple of Valerenga defenders (not too dissimilar to a old-school goal from Lionel Messi) before thumping a right-footed shot into the roof of the net.

A sensational end to a sensational performance – sure it was "only" Valerenga, but there were many positives for Gerardo Martino to take from tonight’s match, even before the Spanish and Brazilian internationals join up with the squad over the course of the weekend. Undoubtedly, he would be hoping for much more of the same when he takes charge of his first match next week, when Barcelona travel to Poland to face Lechia Gdasnk.

Until then, Visca el Barça!

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