Ho Hum, Just Another Manita: Barça 5 – 0 Almeria

Heh, what if we kicked it at Pedro's head? (Miguel Ruiz / Àlex Caparrós)

I don’t even know what to say, really. Other than things like Holy mackerel and a sprig of clover, Batman! Statements that don’t even really make sense. Another manita? Yup, that’s just Barça bein’ Barça. That’s just the blaugrana stringin’ a few passes together and beating the pants off of poor Almeria, who came in without having failed to win a Copa match this season. Adios to that, I should say.

Minute 30 and it was 4-0, though that was a harsh 4-0 on Almeria, whose backup keeper, Esteban, let them down. And by the time he’d collected himself and started making simple saves, it was all over except, you know, the final 60 minutes and of course the bleating of the Barça crowd. And 5-0 was harsh on Almeria, but it was also light on Barça, who could have had 8 or 9 if they’d really turn the screw. But they didn’t, which, at 5-0, you can say “okay, sure, understandable,” but this is a 2-leg deal and as much of a cushion as possible is always helpful so while 8 goals is totally crazy absurd to demand, I’m demanding it because I’m totally crazy absurd.

And then there was the defense, which gave up a few shots on goal that it shouldn’t have because it got lazy. Lazy like me on warm summer day. Or a cold winter day. Or any of the days in between. Our defense was busy shoving potato chips into its face while watching Judge Judy berate some poor slob. And it was chuckling, of course, because that could never be it on that TV, being charged with breaking someone’s fridge by accidentally slamming an El Camino loaded with paintballing gear through the backside of a double wide.

Eh, I don’t actually care that much about the defensive lapses. I’m too thrilled with our fifth 5-0 win of the year. A manita of manitas, if you will. 9 matches with over 5 goals scored (2 of them against Almeria) and a total of 97 goals in 33 competitive matches (20 league, 6 CL, 7 Copa). That is, by my math, more than 12 goals per match! Hallelujah! Guardiola and company are bringing home the friggin’ bacon, one manita at a time. And yeah, I know Kevin’s rule about “we’re not proven until we bring home silverware” (and I do believe it’s not just Kevin that says this, but lots of people), but right now, I don’t much care. We’re fun to watch. And that, ladies and gentlecats, is why I watch this sport at all. Because it’s fun. Because it’s joyful, because I like smiling and I like celebrating (and yes I like screaming and hating, but not a tenth as much as I like liking).

And so, this is team is awesome. Lovely, wonderful, amazing, sensational, even magical. They come in on their flying carpets with the goal genies and they produce masterful crap like Pedro heading the ball in from a set piece. That’s not even humanly possible! Once I scored a header with Messi in FIFA and I laughed because video games make a mockery of reality! And then I scored an own goal to appease the gods of the game. Because that is what must happen in FIFA or you get a visit from the Loss Monster. Speaking of, maybe Barça should up the competition level from Amateur to like Professional or even World Class, just so there’s something of a challenge. Just sayin’.

I’m generally not a fan of Maxwell, but in this game I only once said “get back on defense!” and that was quite early on, when it was 0-0. After that I had no reason for complaint, so well done, Maxwell Smart, old chap. And you missed a goal by that much to boot. And yes, old timers, I really did just make that reference. As for Adriano, if he’d had shootin’ boots instead of just runnin’ boots (which were tireless), it would have been a different matter altogether, but he put contrived to put the ball out of place or right to a defender about as often as I contrived to roll my eyes. Perhaps there was some sort of a correlation, but what do I know, I’m no math major, just some schmuck with a keyboard.

And as some schmuck with a keyboard, it’s up to me to say, once again, Holy cowbell, Batman that was some sort of a show from Lionel Messi. And, given that he was instrumental in making like a bajillion perfect passes, also Xavi. Which means, because they’re some sort of a Bob and Bobette tag team super show (how’s that for a reference, my francophone friends?), Andres Iniesta gets a mention too. Cause slam bam thank you ma’am that third goal was as delicious as a warm pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving.

Abidal passes it out of the back, hard, and Xavi is able to dummy it for Pedro, who slides off a short pass to Iniesta. Already, within 5 seconds, the ball is from our box to their half. Pedro then makes a mad dash down the center as Xavi and Messi roll up the right wing. Villa is the obvious pass on the left, but his defender shades over and because of Pedro’s run down the middle, Xavi and Messi have only 1 defender between the 2 of them. So Iniesta turns the ball and puts the ball over to the right, where Messi gets it and, in classic Messi fashion, takes the defender who has moved over to cover him and makes him look like a training cone. And Pedro is there for any rebounds.

The (literal) icing on the (figurative) cake (say what?), though, was the gilt-edge pass from Messi to Keita for the 5th and final goal. Oh holy sassafras that was brilliant. And did you know that sassafrases is the longest word in the English language that you type entirely with your left hand? Well it is, and then if you put sweet in front of it, it’s even more so. So Milito has the ball on the wing, taps it to Messi, who turns his man and then there’s an open Keita to chip the ball to. And what a chip it was, but wait a minute, how did Keita get so damned open in the middle of defense? Simple: Pedro made a great run to the near post, pulling his defender with him into the gap opened up by the other CB stepping towards Messi, meaning Keita had space to move into and his defender, who wasn’t really supposed to be defending Keita, but rather the overlap from Adriano, had no shot in catching the Malian. And then the finish was just superb. Great take down, great space, and a great turn of the body to smack the ball beyond the keeper.

So, really, my biggest praise is for Pedro. Great galloping Galapagos galleons that man moves purty. And that, really, is all you need to hear from me on that subject.

Oh and hey, Afellay was pretty good too, but nothing super special. He’s adapting and that’s good and I like it. But no, I won’t sing his praises for not screwing up, much as I won’t sing anyone’s praises for wackin’ them some par holes.

So there ya go, folks. A review. Hope you enjoyed it and I hope you enjoy your evening (or morning, wherever you are). I’m off to do the manly stuff around the house. That’s right, prepare some things to be mailed.

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater Philadelphia area.

75 comments

  1. It’s always good to be a cule, and most days it’s fun to be one, but today it was REALLY FUN to be one. Lots of real purdy, messi football.
    Good review, and since there are no numbers, there’s nothing I can complain about(except the snow, I can complain about the snow, but that’s not your fault, Isaiah).

  2. Ronaldo is going to eat Adriano alive. If Alves is really gone Puyol needs to move back to the right. He was a man of the match candidate in the CL final two years ago.

    1. El Clasico and final CdR are on April…
      we don’t know who will be injured,
      hopefully nobody…

      but IF Alves got injured, yes, Pep should moves Puyol to the right…
      or “the Thong Boy will absolutely makes Adriano his little lollipop”… (copyright © Ray Hudson Inc)

      and the rest is Pique – Abidal – Maxwell…

    1. I don’t think Kxevin will agree about this..

      everyone KNOWS he hates Villa.. right, Kevv..? 😀

  3. Do we have an abi-dependency? Atleast I have! Everytime the ball came into our box (it was a little more than usual today), he was there to bail us out! And the couple of runs from box to box bringing the ball up, it was great to see him in his stride.
    We played for 20 minutes, finished the game and put the machine in the zombie mode! Efficient, i say!
    I had a heart attack when i saw Xavi going down 🙁

  4. Wow what a game yesterday, and hopefully a nice butt-woopin to hercules on saturday.

    The final against Madrid seems closer than ever can’t wait though it makes me nervous.

  5. Abdial was a rock AND a hard place. Dude was just crazy tonight. Any1 see the handshake between him and Pinto after the game? Hilarious.

  6. anyone notice that in the first goal, the messi made the two defenders run into each other and one of them fell down? hahahahaha

  7. During the first match i was really sacred messi and xavi would be injured and was shoutin for them to be pulled off. Messi just seen not to want to rest. The Final is gonna be one tense match. Hope our team is not about to be hit ty injury at this crucial time. Read somewhere that pique has been playing for a while with pain killing injections.
    Did anyone watch the EE MATCH after the watch someone threw something at casillas. The Object did not touch him but he made a lot out of it falling face down on the floor rubbing his head. I cant imagine i had actually felt for him before the replay was shown.

  8. I am delighted that Iniesta is scoring regularly. Did he score four games in a row now? And eight already only half-way into the season. He’s my favorite player to watch and I would love it if he would score a lot. He started every game of the first half of the La Liga season, a La Liga record since 2005 when Puyol did so.

    Also now with Iniesta’s recent form, we have four genuine goal threats. I was thinking back to the 2008/09 season and remembered how Iniesta was Goal.com and quite a few other publication’s choice for second best player of the year behind Messi for the end-of-season awards after 08/09. It’s truly amazing that we were so dominant last season even with him out for so many games.

    I also read up about him and how Iniesta idolized Pep and had a poster of Pep over his bed in his room, and when Iniesta won PotT in the Nike Cup with the Barcelona youth at 14 or 15, Pep was the one who presented the trophy to him and told him that he was the best player he had ever seen. Also remembering his quote to a young up-and-coming Xavi around that time ‘you will retire me, this lad will retire us all’. Iniesta has been spectacular this season. If he keeps on playing like this and scoring like this, if we win a couple trophies, he’ll have as good a shout at the Ballon d’Or as anyone… Messi would normally get it if Barcelona swept major trophies, but if Iniesta scores 20 or so from midfield (very possible, he has scored 8 in 29 games, still have possible 27 games left in all competitions) he will probably get it. He’s truly outshone Xavi and even Messi (only at times, though) this season. I think he’s peaking right about now and is only 26, and he has already won every trophy possible in football along with Xavi (2 CLs, 4 Ligas for Iniesta and 5 for Xavi, Club World Cup, a few Supercopas, a European Supercup, a Euro, a World Cup, two youth Euros for Iniesta and an U20 WC for Xavi).

    1. Iniesta reminds me a lot of Zidane. He even scores ridiculous goals at the most important matches. If Iniesta scores 20 Messi will probably score 40 atleast. Forget about Ballon’Dor and stuff. Enjoy the football. I personally think that last year was his best chance to win Ballon’Dor.

    2. Iniesta, like Pedro!!, also scores important goals. If a player has 15 goals at the end of the season, but all of them came with the club up 3 or 4-0 or in garbage time, I’m not impressed. Pressure is what makes great players. Performing when normal human beings can’t even walk because they’re so freaked out.

    3. I love Iniesta. He is my favorite player to watch. I love Messi as well and he is the best player in the world, but Iniesta is even more a delight to watch, he does the sublime and the insane and his control/first touch can be a work of art at times. And when he is on form it’s just berserkergang on the opposition. I hope he gets remembered rightfully as one of the all-time midfield greats.

      Zidane was 28 and a genius when he joined Madrid and cemented his ‘absolute legend’ status there by the end of his career at 34, right? I read a Sid Lowe article on the Real Madrid team of the decade where it said in his first season at first a lot of Madridistas considered him an unneeded luxury and there was even a saying ‘to guarantee a win drop Zidane’ or something.

      To get up there with Zidane as an all-time great in the minds of people Iniesta has plenty of time, after all he’s only 26 (the age at which Zidane won the World Cup with goals in the final). He’s part of a stacked generation with Spain and Barcelona, his fitness problems are supposedly dealt with (referring to a post below), he has been immense this season even compared to before, this and coming seasons could be ridiculous levels of play from him.

      It’s scary thinking how we have this fantastic a side even now, but with David Villa adjusting and getting better and better at fitting in, Messi improving enormously if he keeps up the rate of improvement over previous seasons, Iniesta seeming to have gotten even better, Pedro improving, we really could be set to go on an amazing era for longer than we expect. Hope we win two or three more UCL trophies, no reason why we shouldn’t.

      As for Xavi, Scholes is still playing in big games and sub when needed at 36, why not Xavi right? We might well see him for longer than we expect too.

      This team delights me.

    1. They’ve played him the whole time in the Copa, at least lately. Did Dudek get any games before getting injured?

    2. I think the first game Dudek played was the one where he got injured. Apparantly Mou said in a press conference that if he had his first choice keeper available, that’s who he would play.

      (I believe his words were more along the lines of ‘the best keeper in the world,’ but…yeah.)

  9. I love this Keita quote: “I play a little less than last season but the most important thing is the group.”

    That Nike Iniesta ad is crazy because of the fact that he is apparently even better than we see in matches. That move he put on Abidal was just absurd, as was all that practice stuff. It’s been said before, but the biggest reason that we are so badass this season (so far) is that Iniesta is strong and healthy. He doesn’t change everything, but it’s one more guy that a defense has to worry about and suddenly, you can’t worry about everyone.

    Messi, Xavi, Villa, Iniesta, Pedro!!. Who do you play?

    1. It was a nice move, but that whole “training” thing was an act. There are only Nike wearing players around Iniesta (hence Thiago being at the forefront) and it was planned for Abidal to push Iniesta to the ground so it could segway into the next season. Also the players never do rondos in that small of a circle. I have no doubt Iniesta could do that to a player if he wanted to, though.

    2. There doesn’t appear to be a strategy you can enact to try to slow us down these days. However, I would suggest to an opposing team that they might try to really cover Iniesta when Xavi has the ball and visey-versy. To allow those two to control the mid-field is suicide because they hold the keys to setting up the play that scores the goal and moreover Iniesta is now scoring goals as well. But, even as I type this … I realize that it’s probably a moot point because we are just playing such superior soccer on all levels that outside of a fluke or playing most of the subs, we’re most likely going to dominate the game.

    3. But if you cover Iniesta, Xavi will pass to Dani…or Messi…or Villa…or Busquets. Or even Puyol. Our players are constantly moving to make themselves available for passes, so if you expend too much energy covering one person, you leave three others open.

    4. I know, I know. That’s why I said that there aren’t many obvious strategies that would work. It’s interesting to imagine if you were playing against them, what would you do? I would certainly press them (although by the hour mark, you would be too tired to do so). And I would try not to let Xavi find Iniesta or vice-versa. Those two are always opening up and looking to support each other. Yes, they would find some other super star to pass to, but maybe it wouldn’t amount to as much or it would at least take them a little longer to score.

  10. I remember reading on peps twitter iniesta saying that he has figured out what was causing the injuries and its all good now. Do you think I was something to do with his training because I have noticed Iniesta has lost a step, or at least some explosiveness, this season. Just speculating that perhaps he toned down the sprinting training which was putting too much strain on his glass legs. If this is true its a worthwhile trade-off for a fit iniesta.

  11. Can you imagine no trust for dudek. I have no qualms with pinto between the sticks for the final he is a good keeper but too playful atimes

  12. I’m off work with a sick kitty, so I will watch the match this afternoon, but can I just say I feel a little sorry for Almeria! We have to play them twice more, once in the Copa and once in the league, and I’m sure they are just hoping to escape without being too humiliated.

    For the second leg I hope some of the youngsters get some time. Fontas or Barta, particularly.

    1. No side effects from the $170 box of raisins incedent, but also no wisdom gained from it either. You’d think that if you got into food, we’re taken to the vet(which she hates), forced to vomit, given activated charcoal, and then kept from eating for 24 hours that you would learn a lesson. She still tries to get into things she can’t have. Beagles don’t learn lessons about food. They would eat themselves into a coma.

    2. were not we’re (I’m stealing your thunder, Kari, we’ll ruin the English language together)

  13. When we lost to Hercules the last time, wasn’t after one of those ridiculous, long distance Spanish friendlies?

  14. As an aside, I’m looking forward to seeing Adebayor play with RM. Another egomaniac competing to score goals against CR7. Should be interesting to watch. I give it a couple months before the whole thing implodes.

  15. I rewatched the game last night. Adriano was not awful in the first half. It wasn’t until the second half that he became the give Alves anything he wants poster child.

  16. living in the best time in club history is really cool… continue to be loss of words in describing what we are seeing. not only the passing game, but also the movements, tactical transitions, attacking and defending as a team…etc.

    we are not unstoppable, but it looks like one will need their best luck in history to stop us.

  17. You know, I just watched that Iniesta compilation video again. No wonder he gets fouled so much. I’d knock the crap out of him too. “I’m a professional, yo! Don’t go schooling me like I’m some mope in a practice league!” 😀

    If anyone hasn’t watched, here’s the link again. It’s staggering.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0RudpJof-Q

  18. http://www.goal.com/en/news/9/england/2011/01/27/2326123/sky-offside-in-the-way-they-handled-sexism-row-and-andy-gray

    Firstly, the puns are just awful. ‘Offside’? ‘Giving them the red card’? Those are fine in newspaper headlines but it sounds so stupid when someone actually says them. Especially not leaving it at just one pun but going for two. Cringe.

    Secondly, this, a woman, excusing stuff like Gray’s ‘put this down my pants’ harassment as banter? That’s just shameful. If it had been them belittling the capability of another nationality or race or the like, it’s just like that, in basically belittling the capability of a general group to do something without basis.

    Thirdly, GOD THE PUNS ARE SO LAME! AND TWICE! Lame football puns should be given the red card. Or in this case, a yellow for each pun, end result red.

    1. Well, this is Key’s wife, she’s got to defend her husband doesn’t she? Stand by your man and all that idiocy.

      If it was just the “women don’t know the offside rule” nonsense they might have got away with a slap on the wrist and a public apology, but the other incident is sexual harassment pure and simple. And according to inside sources it is just one example of a culture of sexism, bullying and harassment that Gray and Key’s have been perpetuating for years. I have no doubt that someone at Sky was out to get them, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have been fired. Keys might have gotten away with it, but he hammered the nails in his own coffin with that lengthy and delusional interview he gave.

  19. Do u knw what,i dnt feel hapi when we now score 2 or 3 goalz…i felt its a draw or lose…lol!!anybody havin dat feelin

    1. I kinda get you. There is a slight letdown when we only beat and not destroy a team. But the other side of it is that a well fought 1-0 victory can be more thrilling to watch, especially for a neutral (but I’m not a neutral so I’ll take manitas any time I can get one). I think the key is to enjoy this period of time thoroughly because it really can’t last forever, to enjoy this particular team while we can because it’s likely that we are in the middle of history being made, and to still support this team when they have an off period because that’s what real fans do.

    1. Gotta say my favorite was the pet rock (had one back in the day).
      Was #1 a dustbunny nightmare?

    1. Ok what the fuuuu- did he just do there? I wish Youtube had slow motion, I replayed it a couple times and couldn’t see the move clearly how he did that.

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