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Marcador del partit

  • Date: Sunday, 12 Nov
  • Competition: ???label.competicio0???
  • Stadium: Camp Nou, Barcelona


  • FC Barcelona: 3
  • Zaragoza: 1

Match report

Match Report

The goals

0-1, Milito, min. 16
1-1, Ronaldinho, min. 30
2-1, Ronaldinho, min. 85
3-1, Saviola, min. 95

Magic of leadership is back!

FC Barcelona are back on top of the league following a gripping 3-1 win over third placed Real Zaragoza. Ronaldinho was on target twice and Saviola added the third as Barça cancelled out Gabi Milito's opener for Zaragoza.

Following Sevilla's goalless draw at Racing Santander earlier on, both these sides knew that a win at the Camp Nou would put them in pole position in the Spanish championship. The negative elements of this tense encounter were the incidents leading to both teams ending the game with only ten men on the pitch, and injuries to Edmilson and Messi, with the latter now sidelined for a potential three months.

Milito puts visitors ahead

Barcelona came out much the hungrier side early on, enjoying practically all the possession for the first quarter of an hour. Messi was the first player to get a shot on the visiting goal, and Gudjohnson enjoyed a couple of half chances shortly after.

So it was quite against the run of play that it was Zaragoza who broke the deadlock. Totally unmarked from a D'Alessandro corner, Gabi Milito was able to slam the ball home into an empty net. The goal gave Zaragoza the boost they needed, and had their forwards been a bit sharper, they could have taken advantage of further uncharacteristically sloppy Barça defending to extend their lead. Meanwhile everything Barcelona could conjure up was consistently dealt with by Zaragoza keeper César, whose positioning was generally superb.

Messi injured

And the night soon got worse for Barça. Zaragoza seemed insistent on defending their lead with a combination of time-wasting tactics and some overzealous tackling, and the home side paid the price. In the 22nd minute Leo Messi hobbled off with a foot injury. It looked serious, and indeed it was. The Argentinian youngster has broken a metatarsal bone and could be out for as many as three months. And Messi was not the only casualty of the night, six minutes later and Edmilson asked to be substituted and Thiago Motta was sent on his place.

But on the half hour, Barcelona were level. The goal was the result of an absurdly unnecessary corner conceded by Zaragoza, and Ronaldinho made no mistake in heading home the first Barcelona goal from a corner for almost a year. There was little further incident in the half, which ended with Messi's replacement, Giuly, finding himself in a fine position but taking too long and César was once again able to produce a simple save.

The first twenty minutes of the second half failed to produce much football either. Barcelona were still enjoying the best of the possession, but were struggling to find anything to do with it against the well-organised Zaragoza defence, with Diogo in particular looking impressive in his marking of Ronaldinho. Due to the earlier injuries, Rijkaard only had one substitution to make, and that was to bring on Saviola in place of the ineffective Gudjohnsen in the hope of injecting a little more spark into what was turning into a dour match.

Red card controversy

Then, in the 70th minute came the sorry incidents that led to both sides ending the game with ten men. Diego Milito made a ridiculous meal of an innocuous shove from Thiago Motta, and to the disbelief of the Camp Nou, referee Iturralde Gonzalez took his linesman's advice and sent off the Brazilian. There was justified outage among the Barça ranks, but seconds after the game had finally restarted, the referee levelled the playing field again. Javier Saviola broke through on goal, and Diego's brother, Gabi, pulled the Argentinian to the ground and the referee showed no hesitation in bringing out his red card for the second time of the night.

Ronaldinho makes it two

The incidents, however, did at least inject renewed energy into a lethargic match. With just five minutes left on the clock, Saviola was brought down on the edge of the Zaragoza area, and Ronaldinho stepped up to strike home one of his trademark free kicks, and his second goal of the night.

That seemed to be enough to secure the three points, but two minutes later Diogo set the Zaragoza forwards up with a golden opportunity that eventually fell to Zapater who wasted an easy opportunity to level the match by blasting the ball high into the stands.

Not wanting to risk Zaragoza getting another chance like that, Barcelona killed the match with possession football in the minutes that remained, and then found time to add the third of the night deep into injury time. It came from yet another Ronaldinho free kick, which struck the bar and rebounded back into play for the quick-witted Saviola to head home in opportunistic fashion.

All in all, a workmanlike performance from Barcelona to take the three points against one of their main rivals in this year's competition, but the downside of the evening was the serious injury to such a key player as is Leo Messi.



Three "Millionaires"

Javier Saviola will be up against two former River Plate colleagues at the Camp Nou tonight: Pablo Aimar and Andrés D'Alessandro. The three Argentinians played together at the Millionaires a few seasons ago before emigrating to the European game. The FC Barcelona striker was at River Plate from 1998 to 2001, and spent three seasons at the club with Aimar (at River from 1997-01) and two with D'Alessandro (1999-03).

Top of the table clash

FC Barcelona welcome Zaragoza tonight in a game that features second against third in La Liga, and both sides will also have key players back in their respective line-ups.

The Camp Nou is the venue tonight (21.00/C ) for the kind of game any football enthusiast will want to see, between two fine side that play in a positive, attacking style. And both Frank Rijkaard and Víctor Fernández will be able to welcome back such important figures as Gudjohnsen, Puyol, and Aimar. Sevilla permitting, a place at the top of the table could be the reward for the winners tonight.

With Puyol and Gudjohnsen: FC Barcelona have the bonus of having Puyol back in the side. The centre back missed the Deportivo game last week following the tragic news of the death of his father, while up front Gudjohnsen returns from injury. Frank Rijkaard therefore has plenty of options for his starting forwards and defenders, although he will not have the injured Eto'o and Belletti, or Ezquerro, who he has dropped this weekend. But Xavi is missing from midfield, meaning he is most likely to go for a centre of the field featuring Iniesta and Deco, next to either Edmílson or Motta.

Zaragoza, on the back of a four match winning streak, welcome back Aimar, whom missed the last two outings though injury. But for Víctor Fernández there are doubts surrounding Zapater in a midfield in which only D'Alessandro seems assured of a place in the first eleven.

The promise of goals: Diego Milito, joint top scorer in the championship along with Kanoute on eight, with Ronaldinho close behind on six are the kind of players that promise goals at the Camp Nou this evening. Both sides create a frenzy of goalscoring opportunities, with the likes of Ronaldinho, Iniesta and Deco, for FC Barcelona, and Aimar and D'Alessandro, both new at Zaragoza this season, producing plenty of fast flowing, attacking football this season.

History in Barça's favour: Results of recent clashes between these sides also suggest that there should be a lot to enjoy tonight. It is six years since a game between the Catalans and Aragonese failed to produce at least two goals. Of the 53 all-time meetings between these teams at the Camp Nou, Barcelona have won 40, while there have been 11 draws and only two wins for Zaragoza.

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