Note: this is not a ‘proper’ review. Ever since my favorite sports writer Bill Simmons did a retro video diary of one of his beloved Celtics games a while back, I have wanted to do one as well. What better occasion than an evening on which I cannot concentrate on ‘writing’ due to a group of unexpected visitors bringing three bottles of wine and one bottle of tequila to my humble abode (plus an appetite for the case of beer I had bought just a little while earlier)?
Give credit where credit is due. As predicted, Rayo Vallecano was not afraid. Even the fact that there are fans behind both goals in our stadium did not confuse them. It took them less than a minute to take the game to our throats, as a nifty move created enough space to blast a shot narrowly wide of our goal.
When it comes to missing goal opportunities, culés have seen it all. Iniesta and Dani Alves have a well known tendency to pass first and ask questions later. We’ve seen Spain’s leading scorer go on a fifteen game scoring drought. We’ve seen Alexis aim wide from 5 yards / shoot over from 4 yards / shoot at the keeper from 3 yards / trip over his own legs. And today we saw the one who might very well go down in history as the best to ever play the game receive the ball in front of an open net, mis-control it and then dribble 10 yards backwards to squander any chance the ball ever had to cross the chalked line between the goal posts.
Yes. Pulga distance. I have an excellent feeling about this. After scoring about half a dozen in the first half of the season we were ready to declare him a free kick specialist, but then he went into a free kick slump: Over. Over. Wide. Post. Over. Wall. Over and Wide. Wall. Over. Over. It sucked, ok? It felt as if somebody had only just give me a puppy and it had run away. But then it came back (Leo scoring a free kick against Granada). So, yes, Pulga distance. I have an excellent feeling about this….Ooooooooh, so close! Messi hit the bar with a gorgeously curved shot.
Don’t you just love it when strikers decide to drop themselves on the ground as if they got murdered by an invisible sniper instead of taking their chance and let off a shot?
I do. Roura doesn’t as he furiously gestures to the referee that he should give Dominguez a yellow card. As for myself, it usually doesn’t bother me that much when players dive. It bothers me when refs fall for it. And it also bothers me when refs give yellow cards to players for diving when they were actually fouled, or maybe just fell. It does happen from time to time. Maybe it’s just me, though.
Adriano is gonna 1) shoot 2) pass or 3) pull his hamstring.
If he weren’t so ‘delicate’, would he have become an automatic starter for Barcelona? One would assume that between Dani Alves’ stink fest that lasted most of 2012 and Eric Abidal’s career crippling disease, at some point Adriano Correia would have been a starting back…if only he could have kept out of the emergency room, right? One can only wonder.
Dani Alves comes on for his countryman, sporting the kind of tan that Eminem has always dreamed of having.
Gooooool! After Messi opened up the pitch with a touch that would make Iniesta jealous, he finds himself leading the break with options on the left and the right. He chooses his new BFF David Villa who kabooms the ball in the net. Futbol Club de Barcelona 1 – Rayo Vallecano 0.
Gooool! El Guaje returns the favor…
…which Messi happily takes advantage of. Much has been made this season about our two top forwards not getting on well. Well, maybe it’s me, but they seem to be getting along just fine.
Cesc, just like the whole of Barça today, had an up and down game. However, when he doesn’t start as a forward, his quality in the attacking third part of the pitch is undeniable as he puts Villa one-on-one with the keeper a minute before the break.
Villa shoots well wide, though.
Min 45+1, half time
An excellent first half for Barça. They could have been up by four or five goals, but then the Liga’s leading scorer would have had forty-two or forty-three goals instead of forty-one. Go figure…
Andrés Iniesta, honoring the captain’s band on his arm by having a great match so far, picks out the real
Slim Shady Dani Alves with an excellent pass. For once in his life, Dani Alves does not pass it for one of two forwards to tap the ball into the net. He takes the shot and is unlucky to hit the post.
Rayo Vallecano starts to come out of their shell. El Chori Dominguez drives a long range effort towards our goal which our resident pimp / temporary first goal keeper Pinto does well to block.
After mouthwatering work by Messi and Dani Alves takes the opposition’s goalkeeper out of play, a third blaugrana player receives the chance to score by shooting the ball past two defenders standing on the goal line. Guess who hides his face after shooting wide?
Barça escapes when Pique does not quite clear a corner and Cesc does not quite block a shot. Luckily Chori Dominguez’s (again) volley goes wide.
A second corner is cleared and finds its way to David Villa who, despite having a defender hanging on to his shirt and short gets the ball to Messi…
…who upon receiving the ball a good thirty-five yards from the goal prompts the TV commentator to start screaming in anticipation: “¡gol de Messi! ¡gol de Messi! ¡gol de Messi!”
“¡goooooooooooooool de la pulga diabolicaaaa!…”
And to be honest, it is a beautiful goal. His run turns the defender irrelevant. His chip the goalkeeper obsolete. It has been a while since he has given us this, but there is only one. Lionel Messi.
With Puyol out for up to three months, Xavi for up to three weeks and Valdés for another three games, our team was captained by Ghostface. When he makes way for Thiago in the 64th minute he passes the armband to Messi. Our future’s looking pretty good.
Speaking of substitutions, do you remember this guy?
Well, you should. Barça 3 – Rayo Vallecano 1
And they’re pressing for a second, the cheeky bastards!
A pantheresque reflex by Rubén prevents a fourth Barcelona goal after a one-two between Messi and Villa.
Rayo Vallecano escapes when the Flea gets tripped up in the penalty area. The referee comes, sees and conquers inner peace.
Rayo almost gets another goal. If there has ever been a player who has not been good enough to play for Barça and yet still spent his career scoring against us at will it’s Tamudo.
The MotM almost gets his hat-trick when, after dribbling past his defender, he chips Rubén a second time. If you are just like me you have just spent a good twenty-five minutes waiting and hoping for a fourth Barcelona goal. It is not to be as the ball goes just over.