Comprehensive beatings are sometimes fun to write about, especially when it is against a Valencia, Real Madrid, Villareal, or the like. We can gush and fawn and generally praise the entire team while reveling in our own superiority, at least until the next week. This game against Ceuta though was something all together more measured. Like my cat Bella pawing at a bug or some such thing, perhaps the bug puts up a fight for a minute, but other than that it’s just a prolonger and measured torture. In a Copa del Rey match where Pep was looking to give some young kids reps we introduced Messi up 3-1… It was that bad for the North Africans.
I do not mean any of the preceding or the following to disrespect Ceuta. They came a long way and played a much better (funded and talented) side and did not roll over, nor did they resort to harsh, childish tactics sliding our players or acting as if they didn’t belong there. You cannot help it your city is inaccessible except by ferry or chopper and that Morocco still claims your land as its own, you just did what you could. So kudos to you, what is left of Spanish imperialism, you were worthy, if smaller foes.
Before we even got settled in Nolito broke the seal in the 2nd minute with a wonderful little goal using a hop, skip, and possibly a jump while moving through defenders before slotting one home. Nolito is a good little player, he may never be a superstar or anything, but a serviceable striker he most certainly is. Then, just like was predicted, Gaby Milito scores because he does that so often. Corner. Ball to feet. Goal. Simple as that and it wasn’t off his head, so good for the oft-injured (foreshadowing) defender.
Now Bojan, poor Bojan. The moment that I am sure made 95% of this board orgasm with glee as Bojan was fouled (maybe) and a card was shown (red) and a penalty was given (maybe justly) before Bojan stepped up, fooled the keeper, and hit the post (absurd). Certainly the young man needs a goal, a tap-in perhaps (foreshadowing!), or even the most clumsy goal ever, but he needs one, badly. He was tireless up front this game, and deserved more goals and better treatment than he is sure to get. He’s not washed up, he’s not awful, and he doesn’t need to be sent away unless we have some other striker waiting in reserve to take his spot. And don’t say Nolito, he’s good, but Bojan has more skill and just needs off the snide.
Ceuta got one back, so huzzah for them, before the half ended and it was 2-1. Second half engage: 5 minutes in and Pedro, who showed a ton of movement, slotted home a brutally hard low shot that Ceuta’s keeper had no chance on. 3-1. That, as they say, was that. The next 15 minutes were a whirlwind of passes, and shots, and good saves, and a barrage. Wouldn’t you know Ceuta’s luck too, they are down 3-1 and being dominated, and then the ringer Leo Messi shows up on the pitch. You might ask why, but my best answer would be two-fold: 1. There is a lot of internal and external pressure from people with money invested in the team to play the player as much as possible, he’s a money-making machine; 2. Messi is basically a child: he always wants to play, he never wants to sit, he always wants to be in on the action, even against a 2nd rate side he could run circles around with 1 leg lopped off.
So Messi’s on, dilly-dallying around, treating this like a Sunday shoot around between some friends. He dances into the box, set free by a gorgeous Thiago pass, chips the keeper, but the ball is barely touched before skimming just past Keita to Bojan, who taps it in like only he can so masterfully. Finally, off the freaking snide because this was just ridiculous at some point. Hopefully this will mean he stops forcing so much and can relax. Anyway, Messi scores a beautiful goal, la-ti-da. 5-1, 7-1 on aggregate, let’s go have some champagne and party like Pique taught us. Unfortunately, Milito was injured again and may be out as long as a month, meaning we may need to become very familiar with Fontas very soon.
But wait, there’s one key element I have missed today: Thiago. He was absolutely brilliant today and unlucky not to score. 2 assists, one of which was Xavi-like and the other of which came off a great settling move, then dribbling through two defenders before leaving for Milito in a solid position, and excellent movement creating space for passes. He has learned well from his forerunners and is really showing why he is next in line for a promotion very soon. A definite Man of the Match performance. Another great performance from Masch, who is fitting in nicely to his role player and Biscuits stand-in. He looks solid in possession and makes the short passes well, which is what that Barça DM needs to do. He is making some fans look foolish for their complaints about his signing and play.
I could complain about Bartra’s poor movement and marking on the goal, or Maxwell’s similar actions on the same play, but why? We won, we have moved on, and the young guys looked good. I don’t do scores because they are arbitrary, but your MOTM was Thiago and his 1st Lieutenant was Masch. Glad Bojan scored, glad Pedro did, glad Messi was not injured.
Let’s do some shots.