After a lightning start to the game as Barça took up from where they left off at the Bernabeu, a nasty looking injury to Valdes stunned the Camp Nou and although Messi and Neymar ensured the win, the keeper’s injury cast a pall over the celebrations. Luis Enrique made his return to the Camp Nou with a five-man defence that included Fontas as a deep lying midfielder and with an untypical tactic of ceding possession, which allowed Barça to lay siege to the Celta area and reap the benefits within the first five minutes, as a clever move between Iniesta, Messi and Alexis ended with a simple tap in for Neymar. With Iniesta finding plenty of space through the middle to release Messi, Barça were playing elegant and incisive football which created chances for both Neymar and Messi. All the optimism took a blow on 20 minutes however, when Valdes fell awkwardly saving a free kick and immediately called for help in obvious pain, before being stretchered off. The Barça players looked shocked for a while and the rhythm dropped, before Iniesta and Messi brought a smile back to the fans’ faces on the half hour with an inch perfect move that the Argentinean finished off by rounding the keeper to double the lead. Iniesta was replaced by Sergi Roberto as a precaution at half time and with the rain coming down and the players clearly affected by the injury to Valdes, Celta took the chance to step forward after the break and Pinto was called on to make a superb double save on 52 minutes to keep the Galicians out. Cesc was unlucky to have a goal ruled out for offside just before the hour mark, but it was the visitors who looked the more likely to score, until on 67 minutes, Neymar broke down the left into the box and fired through the defenders’ legs to beat the keeper and make it three. Soon after, the Brazilian was replaced by Pedro. There was still time for drama though, as Pinto clattered into a post after a good stop from Bermejo. The crowd held their breath, but the keeper got up and went on to make two more good stops on a night that brought another win, but one tinged wth sadness for Valdes’ injury.
FC Barcelona have made a great start to their European campaign. A Messi hat trick plus a Piqué header from Neymar’s corner kick sealed a convincing win for FC Barcelona in the opening game of the group stage. Ajax started in great style but were overwhelmed as Barça grew in strength throughout the match, led by the goals of Leo Messi and the saves of Victor Valdés. The keeper twice prevented an Ajax equaliser and then stopped a penalty with the score at 4-0. The result puts Barça at the top of their Champions League group, tied on points with AC Milan, who beat Celtic 2-0 in the San Siro. The next match will be in Scotland, where Barça lost 2-1 a year ago. Tonight witnessed a match between two teams with the same footballing philosophy. Ajax were not intimidated by the imposing surroundings and applied a style of football so reminiscent of Barça: a willingness to play the ball out from defence, a desire to keep possession, and pressure high up on the opposing defence. For Barça it was an unusual experience – few teams dare to challenge Barça with such tactics in the Camp Nou itself. Although Barça did not have things all their own way in the early minutes, the first and best chances fell to Martino’s players. Neymar Jr tested Vermeer in the Ajax goal, but the Dutch keeper handled well. But it was Messi who broke the deadlock in the 21st minute with a free kick to the bottom left corner to make it 1-0 for FC Barcelona. Despite the setback, Ajax kept their composure and could have had a couple goals themselves before half time. Valdés pulled off two great saves from Van Rhijn and Duarte. Neymar Jr almost got one himself before the break but when half time arrived the result was still very much undecided. The second half was very different. Ajax were unable to keep the ball as Barça showed a tougher and more intense side to their game. A textbook counterattack led by Busquets ended in Messi’s second goal of the evening. And then just four minutes later a Piqué goal put the three points almost beyond doubt, the central defender heading in from a Neymar corner. But there was more to come. First, Messi capitalized on the sustained Barça pressure to complete his hat trick. Then Valdés stopped a Sigthorsson penalty kick awarded for a foul by Mascherano. The end of a great European opener for FC Barcelona.
Una fredda notte di febbraio e un anticipo alle 22.00! Per l’occasione é scesa la neve sul Tibidabo e l’aria é decisamente glaciale. Guardando la partita mi sembra che il Barça abbia perso molto smalto e probabilmente non sta succedendo niente di strano, probabilmente solo si sta avvicinando la fine di un ciclo strepitoso. La fitta rete di passaggi non porta a niente, nel primo tempo praticamente nessun tiro in porta e la sensazione é quella della mancanza di un centravanti di peso. Il Sevilla si limita a difendersi ma alla prima occasione Botia infila Victor Valdes e porta gli ospiti in vantaggio. Nella ripresa il Barça riesce a rimettere la partita in piedi e a portare via i 3 punti, ma senza sussulti e senza impressionare come sempre riusciva a fare. Il Sevilla dal canto suo, ci prova e si rende molto pericoloso in piú di un’occasione. La Liga ormai é chiusa ma tanto in Copa del Rey quanto in Champions League vedo molto difficile una nuova affermazione dei catalani.
Match clou della sedicesima giornata della Liga BBVA. Il Barça primo in classifica riceve la visita dei diretti inseguitori dell’ Atletico Madrid. Il Camp Nou é pieno e la serata é abbastanza calda….vengono distribuite 90000 bandierine azulgrana che rendono uno splendido colpo d’occhio all’ingresso in campo delle compagini. La partita é davvero molto piacevole, le due squadre si afforntano a viso aperto fino a quando Falcao con un pallonetto geniale rompe gli equilibri. Mi ha davvero impressionato, se ne é andato in scioltezza con una eleganza di altri tempi e ha fatto scivolare la palla sopra Victor Valdes in uscita con un sangue freddo e uno stile incredibile. A partir da quel momento il Barça, che aveva cominciato un pó contratto é uscito dal guscio con la forza che lo contradistingue e in pochi minuti riesce a incanalare la partita sul binario giusto fino a vincerla comodamente. Da annotare la doppietta di Messi che lo eleva a 90 reti marcate nell’anno naturale facendogli ottenere il record assoluta nella stessa categoria. Finisce 4-1 e grazie al pareggio tra il Real Madrid e l’Espanyol il Barça é giá molto vicino a vincere la liga nonostante sia solo metá dicembre.