1-0, Messi (min 45)
2-0, Eto'o (min 50)
2-1, Adrian (min 68)
FC Barcelona ensured that they will remain on top of the league for another week as goals from Lionel Messi and Samuel Eto'o gave them a victory Deportivo in Camp Nou on Saturday evening.
The victory was hard fought as Deportivo proved that their run of bad form is firmly behind them
with a confident display that caused Frank Rijkaard's team several problems. Barça, however, were
close to the scintilating level that saw them sweep to the league title last season. Ronaldinho
produced some magic to entertain the crowd, while both of the home team's goals were well taken.
The victory ensured that the chasing pack must maintain their form if they are to keep up with the
After Xavi registered the first shot at goal in the second minute, Deportivo proved that they were not there to make up the numbers and had done their homework. The Galicians applied pressure to Xavi and Andrés Iniesta every time Barça looked to move out from defence and that ensured that the Blaugrana back four had to be on their toes. At the other end, The home team's attack was out in force as they produced slick passing at a fast pace as well as a range of tricks and turns that made the game absorbing.
Ronaldinho received a rare yellow card for blocking a free-kick and Fabián Estoyanoff put on the theatrics after being tapped by Samuel Eto'o. But the Barça nerves were not showing and moments before the break the opening goal came as Ronaldihno produced a moment of pure class as he flicked the ball clear of Fabricio Coloccini before side-footing the ball over the Deportivo back line. The Brazilian had spotted the run of Messi and picked him out perfectly, while the Argentinian completed the move with one touch for control and the next to drive the ball past Dudu Aouate. Eto'o had the last chance of the half, but he was unable to find a finish.
If a goal just before the break is difficult for the opposition, then another goal just after the restart can be just as devastating. In the 50th minute Barça added to their tally as Eto'o registered his eighth goal of the season. Ronaldinho combined with Xavi and Messi to send the Cameroonian striker through on goal and he coolly rolled the ball under the approaching goalkeeper. The game may have appeared to be over as a contest, but Depor had other ideas and they reduced teh deficit when Adrian raced through to score with 69 minutes on the clock.
In the closing minutes tiredness became a factor as the recent internatonal games showed in the legs of some of the FC Barcelona stars. Depor, who looked fresher, almost took advantage as they had several chances to draw level. Eto'o was not about to settle for a one-goal advantage though and he could have netted his second of the evening after combining with Ronaldinho, as the Brazilian produced a superb backheel, but this time Aouate repelled his effort.
Tonight’s game will be officiated by Valencian Miguel Ángel Ayza Gámez. He has refereed eleven games in the First Division this season, but only one involving Barça. That was the 0-0 draw with Osasuna at the Reyno de Navarra.
The league returns today, and now it’s time for the decisive stage. Barça have eleven games left, starting today with the visit of Deportivo La Coruña. The league leaders are seeking to maintain their commanding position.
Tonight (22:00, TV3/LaSexta/C9), Barça return to action after the international break. They face a
Deportivo side that is having a quiet season, struggling in mid-table but still able to create
problems for any
opposition. After a convincing win at
Recreativo, Barça have consolidated their place at the top of the table, and made it clear that
they intend to stay at the top of the table until the end of the season.
Setting the pace: While their direct rivals have been dropping points left, right and centre, Barça have been making steady progress, and now need three points from this match against Deportivo to put even more pressure on the rest. And to do that, Rijkaard has his full squad at his disposal with the sole exception of Deco, who is both injured and suspended. He looks almost certain to opt for an attacking trio of Messi, Eto’o and Ronaldinho, three of the best players in the world. With those three in the side, Barça have never lost in the league.
Home security: Barça have been especially strong at home this season, having won ten and drawn just three. And some of those wins have been extraordinarily comfortable, and in the domestic championship they have just won five games in a row in the Camp Nou.
Missing Arizmendi: Deportivo, meanwhile, have been very average away from home. And tonight they will have to make do without one of their star players and the club’s leading goalscorer this term, Arizmendi. But despite the missing striker, Caparrós still has a strong set of players and they are certainly not a side to be underestimated. From goalkeeper Aouate, through centre backs Andrade, Lopo and Coloccini, full back Capdevila, and midfielders Sergio and De Guzmán there is plenty to look out for.
Previous meetings: Barça have a decent record against Deportivo at the Camp Nou. The Galicians have visited the Barça stadium on 36 occasions in the league and lost 28 of those encounters. But the balance has been tipped somewhat in recent years, with Deportivo winning an impressive 3 out of 6.