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La Liga: Malaga CF 0-0 FC Barcelona: Match Review

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Recap of the action from Barcelona, simply put, boring, scoreless draw against Malaga

Manuel Queimadelos Alonso

Barcelona were unable to break down a spirited Malaga side, ending the team's perfect start to the 2014-15 season. But not only was Barcelona unable to bring the three points home, it was actually Malaga who came closest to scoring the game winning goal, with Barcelona not even once firing a shot on goal. In all it was a truly disappointing performance from the Catalans.


Malaga

Barcelona

Possession

30%

70%

Total Shots

6

10

Shots on Target

2

0

Pass Accuracy

60%

87%

Corners

2

8

Fouls

15

13

Offsides

1

2

Yellow Cards

2

2

Red Cards

0

0

Barcelona started the match with a largely expected lineup, just about the only surprise coming at the right back position where neither Dani Alves nor Martin Montoya started the match. Instead it was Douglas Pereira who made his Barcelona debut. With Jeremy Mathieu left out of the match squad and Javier Mascherano rested the center back duo for Barcelona was formed by Marc Bartra and Gerard Pique.

Barcelona was unable to assert their domination from the opening whistle as Malaga didn't just sit back as many teams tend do against the Catalans. In fact, the hosts actually looked the more dangerous side, launching a couple good looking counters that threatened Claudio Bravo's net. In the 8th minute Malaga's Nordin Amrabat fired the game's first shot on goal, but under pressure from Jordi Alba he couldn't pick his spot and his shot was easily saved by Bravo.

The first chance by the visiting side didn't come until the quarter-hour mark when Lionel Messi fired a free kick, won after a strong run from Ivan Rakitić was stopped illegally, about a foot over Idriss Kameni's net. Barcelona's attacks looked slow, at times even anemic. The passing wasn't crisp and as a result Malaga's defense was rarely really tested.

Without much trouble the hosts held off Barcelona's attacks, and while doing so several times launched quick counter attacks that kept Bravo on his toes. Those attacks didn't necessarily create clear chances for Malaga, but Barcelona, on the other hand, also didn't create their next chance until the 27th minute. At that point Jordi Alba made a quick run up the left side, sending a dangerous cross into the middle where Lionel Messi tried to chest the ball on goal, but missed the net.

Barcelona started to spend more time in Malaga's defensive third over the last part of the half, but the plays appeared to move too slowly for Barcelona to break down the well positioned Malaga defense. The crosses were getting blocked, passes were getting intercepted and the shots, well, there were hardly any shots.

Two minutes before the halftime whistle three quick, crisp passes between Messi, Pedro and Alba strung out Malaga's defense enough for Alba to make a run behind the defense to create a good chance for Barça. However, the last pass, from Alba to Messi, missed the target by less than a foot and Messi was unable to apply the finish.

That brought the uneventful first half to an end, and if the first half showed anything it was that an improvement was needed if Barcelona wanted to leave Andalusia with three points and a perfect record intact.

Despite the poor first half halftime substitutions weren't expected, and that was indeed the case as neither team made any changes. Malaga started the second half by pressuring Barcelona players all over the pitch, creating quite a bit of confusion in the Barça back-line. But even though it at times didn't look pretty were the Catalans able to keep the hosts from creating good chances.

The hosts might not have created anything from their opening pressure, but they were able to keep Barcelona mostly pinned into their defensive third for the most part of the first ten minutes of the second half - a feat very few team will be able to achieve this season.

Barcelona then managed to break through the pressure on a couple occasions, but Malaga remained in control of the game, allowing little to nothing to the Catalan side. It took Barcelona fifteen minutes from the restart to create their first chance of the half, actually, it was the first chance of the half by either team. It came from a corner kick as Rakitić sent a perfect cross into the middle where Bartra won the aerial duel, but missed the target with the header.

In an attempt to liven up the play Lucho resorted to a double substitution in the 64th minute, replacing the largely ineffective Neymar and Pedro with two youngsters, Sandro Ramirez and Munir El Haddadi. Barcelona immediately looking livelier in attack, with Sandro especially bringing a lot of energy to Barcelona's left wing.

But it was actually Malaga who created the next scoring chance with Samu Castillejo setting up Roberto Rosales for a shot on the edge of the penalty area, but the right back's powerful drive whistled past the far post. Three minutes later Malaga came about as close as possible to scoring the goal without actually scoring. Douglas brought down Luis Alberto on the left side, just outside of the penalty box, seemingly in a great spot to threaten Bravo with a high cross. But Juanpi had a different plan, firing directly on goal, trying to surprise the Chilean goalkeeper. But Bravo was able to palm the ball into the goalpost from where it bounced back into play to be cleared out of danger by the defense.

In the 73rd minute Luis Enrique made his final substitution, again taking a player that largely disappointed off the pitch, Douglas, and replaced him with Adriano Correia. Unlike in the first half, Malaga this time around stuck to the plan of high pressure, and it was very effective. Messi was constantly covered by at least three players while Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets misplaced (too) many passes.

Tensions started brewing about ten minutes before the final whistle, after Messi made a brilliant run from the right side, making his way very close to the goal only to be dispossessed, settling for a corner. After that play, Weligton grabbed Messi by the neck and shoved him to the ground. Pique quickly came to the aid of Messi, but all that got him was a yellow card, the same punishment as Weligton received.

Barcelona remained helpless even over the very last stage of the game, where one would expect a late push for the winning goal, but even that appeared to be a task too big. Barcelona managed to continue the streak of not allowing a goal, but in all honesty they were lucky to even extend that streak. A truly poor performance, and Lucho and his boys can actually be very happy to leave Malaga with a point.

With the gap to the pursuers now shrunken, Barcelona will have to show a big improvement on Saturday at home against Granada if they want to hold on to the La Liga lead for another round of football (though there is a chance that Valencia takes the lead tomorrow with a big enough win).

Roll Call:

Roll Call Info
Total comments 562
Total commenters 56
Commenter list ALongTimeLurker, Abdul95, AdeshMessiah, Ahmed Shahin, Anders Thomassen, Anirudh_Kul, ArenjaZ, Ari.K4, AristoBarca, BarcaLifer, BoodHernandez, Catalan_Blood, Eddie Pundell, El_Illusionista, FCBMessi, G0Barca, Inder Methil, JBeck12, Jigish, JordiBalboa, Jump., LA495, LaSenyera, Lapulga, NoImagination90, PG9, Ragnar_Lothbrok, Rajesh1101s, Renato Goncalves, Richzorz, Ruy Diaz, Shaquille421, Som-i-Serem, Steven Cordero, TheOnlyPtolemy, ThebeautifulGame, TwoA, Uncharted_Almo, Waje.y, Willis1984, Yuro_Doosh, askhanna, craig00000, david.james, feeya7, footballfordoze, hdp78, imran raad, jackpiratecaptain, messism, newinterest, robyn_bird96, syredeathtrooper, tilak, waseem10, ᏣᎧᎿᏒᎭᎳᎧᎢᎣᏯᏫ
Story URLs
# Commenter # Comments
1 TheOnlyPtolemy 63
2 BoodHernandez 45
3 Anders Thomassen 37
4 Willis1984 30
5 Uncharted_Almo 28
6 syredeathtrooper 28
7 messism 26
8 feeya7 25
9 robyn_bird96 20
10 AristoBarca 17
11 craig00000 16
12 BarcaLifer 16
13 tilak 15
14 Anirudh_Kul 14
15 Eddie Pundell 14
16 El_Illusionista 14
17 FCBMessi 12
18 hdp78 12
19 AdeshMessiah 10
20 Lapulga 9
21 imran raad 8
22 newinterest 8
23 PG9 7
24 footballfordoze 7
25 Rajesh1101s 7
26 Abdul95 7
27 waseem10 6
28 Ruy Diaz 5
29 Som-i-Serem 5
30 jackpiratecaptain 5
31 Yuro_Doosh 4
32 LA495 3
33 ThebeautifulGame 3
34 Catalan_Blood 3
35 david.james 3
36 LaSenyera 3
37 NoImagination90 2
38 Inder Methil 2
39 Waje.y 2
40 TwoA 2
41 Jump. 2
42 askhanna 2
43 Ragnar_Lothbrok 2
44 Richzorz 1
45 Ari.K4 1
46 Shaquille421 1
47 JBeck12 1
48 ArenjaZ 1
49 Renato Goncalves 1
50 Ahmed Shahin 1
51 ᏣᎧᎿᏒᎭᎳᎧᎢᎣᏯᏫ 1
52 G0Barca 1
53 Steven Cordero 1
54 Jigish 1
55 JordiBalboa 1
56 ALongTimeLurker 1