1-0, Fernando Navarro (o.g., min.89)
FC Barcelona beat Mallorca thanks to a late own goal by Fernando Navarro in the 89th minute. Thanks to this goal and a penalty save by Victor Valdes in the first half sees Barça extend their lead at the top of the table.
Up until the goal, the game was not full of action and the game seemed destined for a share of the
spoils, however, the persistence of Barça eventually paid off. A few goal mouth ricochets resulted
in Fernando Navarro diverting the ball into his own net following Saviola’s shot which hit
the post, and thanks to a first half penalty save by Valdes, Barça picked up another victory
Possession and post
Barça controlled the game form the beginning. They played with patience, closed the visitors down well and looked for the quick attack. The sheer amount of possession of the ball denied the Balearic team creating any opportunities. The blaugrana looked to capitalize on their possession by using both flanks; in particular, Giuly and Messi. It was Mallorca this time who denied Barça the space they were looking for due to having two lines of four at the back, despite Marquez hitting the post in the 13th minute.
Gregorio Manzano’s squad did find their way into the blaugrana area. A quick counter attack put Jonas in a one on one situation against Valdes, Valdes fouled the encroaching attacker and subsequently earned himself a yellow card. However, Valdes had the final say in the confrontation as he guessed correctly and denied Mallorca taking the lead. As of this moment, Barça’s play gained momentum, with Deco and Giuly both having chances.
After the break, the blaugrana continued to stamp their authority on the game by having control of the ball nearly all the time. Mallorca, impenetrable at the back, denied Barça any chance of finding a way through. Both Messi and Eto’o had individual efforts denied by the imposing defence. Rijkaard looked to change things around after 22 minutes by bringing on Xavi and Saviola for Thuram and Giuly. Ten minutes later, Barça had a clear chance on goal, however, Moya was quick to react and punch the ball away. The match seemed to be heading for a goalless draw.
Attack and Goal
The full backs began to become more involved in the attacking plays in the search of three points. Gio, on two occasions put in crosses, only for them to connect with a defensive head. Belletti was introduced at the expense of Zambrotta, who added energy down the right flank. In the 88th, Xavi swung in a cross which was met by the head of Gio. The ball bounced off a few defenders before finding its way to Saviola whose shot rebounded off the post, hit Fernando Navarro and then into the back of the net (1-0). Luck was with the champions. The goal gives Barça three valuable points and sees them extend their lead at the top of the table. Barça also remain unbeaten in La Liga at home this season.
Coming to Camp Nou can be intimidating for any team. Barça have won eleven games and drawn three. Out of the 42 possible points, Barça have 36, making them the team in La Liga with the best home record.
With just nine league games remaining FC Barcelona find themselves in an ideal position to try and win their third consecutive title.
The statistics are optimistic, they are the team with the best home record; eleven wins and three
draws, with a total of 35 goals (average 2.5 per game). The last defeat coming last season against
Atlético Madrid (1-3).
Without Number 10: Frank Rijkaard will not be able to rely on Motta nor Ronaldinho. Ronaldinho, with 17 goals, is out for the next two games in order to recover from an illness. This is the first Liga game at Camp Nou this season that will not see the number ‘10’ on the pitch. Results, however, have been favourable in his absence; a victory in Mallorca ands three draws against Levante, Getafe and Osasuna. Other players sitting out of the game due to technical decisions are Oleguer and Ezquerro.
Eto’o and Belletti back in: Two players returning to the squad, after missing out on the previous game through minor injuries, are Eto’ and Belletti. Eto’o is keen to face his old team especially as his record stands at 5 goals in three games. Gudjohnsen is also looking forward to the prospect of playing against the team he scored 2 great goals in the previous encounter in Mallorca.
A Dangerous Opponent: Mallorca come into this afternoons games with all their players fit and ready. Gregorio Manzano has at his disposal a team with great attacking qualities; Ibagaza, Jankovic and Arango have helped the Balearic club reach a comfortable position of 13th in La Liga. Another well-known addition to their squad is Barça player Maxi Lopez. The Argentine player has played a big role in the club this season; playing in 25 games and scoring 2 goals.
Despite the 31 goals scored in total, the team from Mallorca has let in 40. Their away record has not been their best strength with four wins, two draws and eight losses, however, in their last outing against Getafe, they showed just what they are capable of away from home. On display in their last encounter was one of the jewels of Argentine football, Oscar Trejo, who debuted with a great goal.