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From The Mind of Xoel: Barça Wins 4-1, Closes in on Madrid

FC Barcelona are now one point back of Real Madrid in the Liga standings as El Blaugrana defeated Almeria 4-1 on Sunday. In this article, Xoel Càrdenas gives you his take on the win, Xavi's great night, Neymar struggling, and a historic night for Carles Puyol and Xavi as teammates.

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FC Barcelona closed the gap on the La Liga leading Real Madrid, as El Blaugrana defeated Almería 4-1 at the Camp Nou on Sunday.

Alexis Sanchez got the scoring started in the ninth minute when a Cesc Fabregas shot was not handled well by Almeria goalkeeper Esteban, and the Chilean was able to put the loose ball into the back of the net. Lionel Messi doubled the lead in the 23rd minute as he scored a golazo via a free kick. Grande D10S! Almeria responded just four minutes later as Trujillo's header off a corner kick got past Victor Valdes.

The second half was a poor showing by FCB, until the 83rd minute when off a corner kick, Messi's header hit the crossbar, and Carles Puyol scooped it in for to seal the Barça win. Xavi added a late golazo to put the icing on the win.

Let's get to the Best, Worst, and What We Learned from this game.

The Best: Xavi, Alexis

Last week, Xavi had that mean look on his face; as he witnessed his team lose. Xavi took out his anger on Almeria and the football on Sunday as he was straight ballin'. El Maestro had several great long passes to Neymar and Dani Alves, and helped control the tempo, got a great golazo late in the game, and had arguably his best game of the season.

If this is how Xavi Hernandez responds to being angry and frustrated, maybe Xavi needs to be angry more often. Kidding.

Alexis was a monster as well. His early goal calmed everyone down. He made terrific passes all game, and his hustle was on point.

The Worst: Barça for most of the second half, Neymar

Once again, Barcelona fell into the "Have a one-goal lead, but then not be able to finish off the opponent" zone. They looked poor, were not hustling as much as they were in the first 30 minutes, and were once again one play (or set piece) away from disaster. Thanks to Carles Puyol, Barcelona avoided what could have been a disaster, especially with Real Madrid and Atletico splitting points earlier in the day.

I honestly don't know if this trend is going away, but I hope it does.

Cesc Fabregas was off on the night, as well as Neymar. The Brazilian struggled from the start, and it didn't get better for him throughout the game. He wasn't able to do much with the fine passes Xavi set him up with, and his finishing was terrible-including a missed opportunity to put the game away late in the second half.

I don't expect Neymar to always be great. Everyone has a bad game, and on Sunday, Neymar had a bad game. Keep your head up, kid.

What We Learned: For the first time in their near 20 year time together at FC Barcelona, both Xavi and Carles Puyol scored in the same game.

I was shocked when I read the stat. Given, Puyol is a CB, but I would have thought he would have scored a header in a game that Xavi scored as well. According to @pedritonumeros, this was Xavi and Puyol's 325th Liga game together. Hard to believe that in 325 Liga games, they didn't score in the same game.

Also on the night, Lionel Messi became the player who needed the fewest games (265) to reach 200 Liga wins, breaking the old record of 288 games held up Leo's teammate Andres Iniesta.

This just reminds us that on any given game day/night, history can happen at the Camp Nou.

Grande Capi y Maestro! Grande Messi!

What's Next?: Saturday at Real Valladolid

Barcelona will look to return to the top of the La Liga, as they will travel to face Real Valladolid on Saturday. Midweek, there are international friendly games, so let's hope no one gets the injured, nor the team gets the old FIFA virus next weekend.

Xoel's Final Word

It was a good day and night to be FC Barcelona on Sunday. Despite struggling in the second half, Barça were able to get the 4-1 win over Almeria. With Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid splitting the points in the Madrid Derby, FC Barcelona are now only one point back of Real Madrid in the Liga standings. Barça moved two points clear of Altetico as well.

Good win, but much work is needed. Come back from international duty safer, boys. La Liga is still up for grabs.


Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona

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