On a hot day in Andalusia, Barcelona made easy work of the now already relegated Cordoba. Led by the duo of Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, who scored a combined five goals, with Suarez picking up his first Barcelona hat-trick. Ivan Rakitić, Gerard Pique and Neymar joined in on the scoring in Barcelona’s biggest win of the season. It also tied two previous occasions in which Barcelona won by the same score - the biggest win in club history.
|Shots on Target||1||11|
Because Barcelona can't afford to drop a single point the rest of the season, if they don't want to rely on outside help, Luis Enrique didn't want to leave anything to chance, naming arguably his strongest available lineup. In the heart of the defense Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano therefore made their return, while in central midfield Rakitić started alongside Anders Iniesta.
In any game in which the first placed takes on the last placed team it is widely expected that the first placed team dominates on the pitch, and that was indeed the case today. From the opening whistle Barcelona pushed all their players into the opposing half - Claudio Bravo was continuously the only man left in Barcelona's half. And it didn't take long for Barcelona threaten for the first time. Already in the third minute Barcelona should've taken the lead as Dani Alves found Neymar with a gorgeous cross, but Neymar's first-touch shot was poor, the ball flying over the crossbar.
Barcelona would create two more chances over the next couple of minutes, but the Cordoba defense did very well to prevent those shots from reaching the goalkeeper. The first shot was from Iniesta and was blocked while the second came after a lovely lay off from Neymar, but Aleksandar Pantić sent the ball out of play with a diving tackle.
But while Cordoba did focus their efforts mostly on defense, they were well aware that if they want to have any hope of remaining in the Primera División, they would have to win all of their remaining games, including this one against Barcelona. So they tried their luck on counter attacks, often sending long balls to the wings from where the winger would try to find Florin Andone in the middle. An excellent example of that tactic came in the 6th minute when Edimar Fraga won a lot of space down the left wing before finding Andone who headed the ball just over the crossbar.
It wasn't often that Cordoba launched a successful attack, but when they did, they were able to cause some problems to the Barcelona back-line. The hosts were also very organized when defending, doing very well to close down passing lanes that seemed open just a second ago, leading to many turnovers and intercepted passes.
Barcelona struggled to find open space in Cordoba's half due to the hosts' good positioning. Since that early minute press Barcelona couldn't even get near to the penalty area, let alone get a good shot off. The Catalans didn't get a good look on goal until the 26th minute, when Lionel Messi showcased some of his talent, slaloming past three Cordoba defenders, but his shot was lacking power and accuracy to beat Juan Carlos. Five minutes later, Suarez created a chance for Iniesta after a corner kick, but Iniesta's shot was once again blocked.
In the 37th minute, Neymar was again alone in front of Juan Carlos, this time after a stunning over the top pass from Messi. Neymar's aim was better this time, but the goalkeeper was able to get the slightest of touches on the ball, redirecting it into the post. The rebound was cleared before Suarez could get to it. Shortly thereafter Iniesta would get a shot off that wasn't blocked, but it was easily saved by Juan Carlos.
Barcelona would finally get on the board in the 42nd minute. Suarez would pick up the ball on the right side and patiently inched his way closer to the area in order to find an open player. He would find one in Messi who sent another stunning pass into the area which was perfectly controlled by Rakitić. The Croatian let the ball bounce once before he powered it under the crossbar to put Barcelona in front.
Even though Barcelona found it difficult to consistently threaten in the game so far, that would not be the last goal scored. Due to contact lens problems by Andone and an injury scare for Cordoba, two minutes were added one - just enough for Barcelona to double their lead. Iniesta ended his season-long run without an assist in La Liga with an inch perfect pass to Suarez who didn't make the same mistake Neymar made twice before. The Uruguayan redirected the ball enough to get it by the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. Before the celebrations were over, Carlos Clos Gómez whistled for halftime, with Barcelona going into the break with a commanding lead.
Cordoba would be the only team to make a substitution during halftime, with Jose Angel, who was struggling with a knock, not coming back on the pitch. He was replaced by Adrián Gunino. But it wouldn't matter much, as Barcelona picked up exactly where they left off - scoring goals. Before the first minute even ended Alves sent yet another perfect cross into the danger area. Messi ran onto it from deep and sent an unstoppable header to the far post to add to Barcelona's lead.
Seven minutes later, in a play very similar to the one described in the paragraph above, Suarez completed his sixth brace of the season. Another inch perfect cross was sent in from the right by Alves, this time to the head of Suarez, who, with slight help from the post, increased Barcelona's lead to four.
The game was all but decided at this point, but both teams continued to play at a relatively high level, regardless of the heat. At the one hour mark Claudio Bravo was welcomed to the game with a powerful, long range effort from Patrick Ekeng that Bravo did well to keep out. Immediately thereafter, Messi and Suarez spearheaded a Barcelona counter that only lacked a Neymar finish, after Suarez found him wide open on the far side.
Heat and Bayern Munich in mind, Luis Enrique made a double substitution in the 61st minute. Iniesta and Mascherano were taken off the pitch and were replaced by Xavi and Jeremy Mathieu. Four minutes later, the Manita was complete. After sending a few poor balls into the area from the corner flag earlier in the game, Rakitić sent a perfect ball this time, right onto the head of Pique who escaped his marker. With space, Pique had little work picking an open spot to put Barcelona up 5-0.
In the 68th minute Lucho completed his final sub, replacing Rakitić with Pedro Rodriguez. With the big lead Barcelona were able to relax the rest of the game, though they sometimes relaxed a bit too much as Cordoba came close to scoring a goal or two but their aim was poor. On the other side Suarez had a good chance to complete his first Barça hat-trick, but his shot hit the outside part of the net.
In the 78th minute, Messi had an excellent chance to join Suarez with two goals. The play was just about the same as the one Messi scored on earlier in the half. Two things were different though. The cross, again a good one, came from Pedro, and not from Alves, and Messi missed the target from six yards out. Messi corrected that mistake two minutes later with a simple tap in goal. Pedro, Neymar and Messi beautifully combined in the area, before Pedro tried to find Suarez for the hat-trick. Suarez was dispossessed, but the ball squirted free and it became a foot race between Neymar and Messi. Messi won it and scored his second of the match.
In the 82nd Neymar tried to find Suarez with a cross, but it was too high for Suarez who would've been left with a simple finish. Neymar, however, would score his first of the game in the 85th minute. The Brazilian was brought down in the penalty area for a spot kick, and Messi gave the ball to Neymar to take it. Neymar showed patience on the kick, sending Juan Carlos one way and sending the ball to the other one.
Suarez's wait for the hat-trick didn't last long much longer as he would be able to complete it in the 88th minute. Xavi fired a long shot that was blocked on its way by Pantić and directed right into the waiting "arms" of Suarez. With the goalkeeper out of position due to his reaction to the initial shot, Saurez had no trouble sending the ball into the wide open net to make it an impressive 8-0.
Barcelona continued to dazzle over the remaining time, but they would score no more. This game will certainly serve as an excellent boost to the highly anticipated Champions League match against Bayern Munich in just a couple days.
|Roll Call Info|
|Commenter list||A.J.Khan, Abdul S., Anders Thomassen, Antonio Moreira, Arnau22S, Artemis11, Ayush Tiwari, BDBarca, Barca Boy, BarcaBarca, Barcasura, BarcelonaCobayo1998, Catalan_Blood, Delano Heerkens, DudeBV, Filip_Croatia, HumbertoGecko, Lapulga, Lio10, NamesTroyResideInTheDMV, NoImagination90, Piquénbauer, Ragnar_Lothbrok, Rajesh1101s, Renato Goncalves, RexRegum, Ruy Diaz, Seanaly, Sebanovic, Som-i-Serem, Sony13, Steven Cordero, Swn.Culé, TengkuAmir, Tunebarca, Willis1984, Yuro_Doosh, Z Ahmad, abdulla0207, ade fox, barca4life1273, barca96, barcaforlife.., cefiro22, craig00000, david.james, el_uruguayo, feeya7, footballfordoze, foreverbarça, hobo_barca, jithen, jonathanvazquez10, luck-ycoltsfan19, michael10, milesbarca, msalmanz, nolet, nosrejadorable, oddsbodiSkins, ray-fcb, sandstorm v, scotticus1, shrey.arora, shubham2806, syredeathtrooper, uday kakoti, une see|