0-1, Tamudo (min. 28)
1-1, Messi (min. 43)
2-1, Messi (min. 56)
2-2, Tamudo (min. 89)
Barça and Espanyol drew 2-2 in the Penultimate game of the season, which saw Messi bag a brace. Tamudo also scored twice, the second coming in the last minute; robbing Barça of the Liga leadership.
This Saturday saw all of the top three teams unable to overcome their opponents. In a vibrant
encounter, it was Espanyol who broke the deadlock, however, Messi grabbed two to set Barça on their
way in what seemed like a well-deserved victory. Espanyol had other ideas, and in the final minute
of normal time, brought the scores level 2-2.
Tamudo nets first
The game started at a very high tempo with both teams creating chances. Barça were pushing forward on every occasion and looking for goal from the outset. However, De la Peña led his team on dangerous counter-attacking plays. Tamudo in the 7th, Messi in the 14th and Gudjohnsen in the 17th all had chances to open up the scoring.
The opener came following a counter-attack led by De la peña; finding Tamudo in space following a well timed pass, the Espanyol striker slotting past the advancing Valdes 0-1. A little later, however, good news came from the Romareda indicating that Zaragoza had taken the lead through a Diego Milito penalty. The Camp Nou erupted knowing that the Liga title was still open to play for.
Barça draw level
Despite being down, Barça continued their dominating attacking plays. Their persistence paid off in the 43rd minute; Zambrotta broke down the right and put in a cross, the ball took a deflection off a defender, bounced up and off the arm of Messi into the back of the net 1-1.
Following the restart, Eto’o took up his role on the left flank while Gudjohnsen moved into the centre. Barça continued to dominate and found themselves, on many occasions, within scoring distance of the Espanyol goal.
Barça again, following sustained pressure, found a way through the defence. Deco controlled a difficult ball well and slipped it through to Messi to advance on Kameni and guide the ball in with his right foot 2-1. Shortly afterwards, however, came the notice that Real Madrid had levelled through van Nistelrooy.
Intensity to the end
At 2-1, Barça remained solid on pitch looking for the third goal to finish off the game. Gudjohnsen came very close in his last contribution of the game before being replaced by Motta in the 72nd. Espanyol soaked up the pressure well, while Milito put Zaragoza in the lead again over Madrid.
Two simultaneous blows
Eto’o, using all his strength and speed, found himself one on one with Kameni, however the goalkeeper doing well to deny him. Barça appeared in control of the game and three points looked to have been won, however, it was not to be; Raul Tamudo denying Barça valuable points with a last gasp effort, while at the same time, Van Nistelrooy salvaging Madrid from the doors of defeat at the Romareda. With both these actions, Madrid remain at the top of the table with just one game remaining.
With nothing left to play for, Espanyol see the derby game as an excellent opportunity to break the trend of bad results. The 3-1 victory at home demonstrates the danger they possess, at Camp Nou, however, Barça will be with Samuel Eto’o, who has scored 5 goals against Espanyol, 4 of which coming during his time with Mallorca. The Cameroon striker has yet to score against Espanyol at Camp Nou; a statistic he hopes to break this time around.
Barça prepare to battle it out for the liga title in what might prove a decisive night of footbal. While Barça take on Espanyol, Madrid face Zaragoza and Sevilla play Mallorca.
An intense clash is expected to take place on Saturday, the blaugrana have an opportunity to
increase their chances of going top of the table again, currently being denied due to goal
difference. Espanyol, however, do not have anything to play for but want to get one over their
local rivals. At the same time, Madrid face a complicated tie away to Zaragoza, while Sevilla
travel to Mallorca.
Win or win
Regardless of what happens in the other games, Barça must stick to their own task and beat Espanyol. The Copa de Catalunya final victory for Barça bears little precedence over Saturday’s game as both teams will be fielding very different starting line ups. Despite this, the penalty shoot out victory would have been a good morale boost to take into the final two games of the season.
25 years without a win
It has been 25 years since Espanyol managed to win at Camp Nou. Two draws and 20 defeats is the record the visiting team brings with it – a record Frank Rijkaard’s men hope to add to. If the blaugrana achieve victory, it will mean they are unbeaten at home all season. Up until now, they have won 14 and drawn 4.
Marquez returns, Ronnie out
The exodus of players on international duty meant Rijkaard could not train with the full squad until Thursday. Marquez returns to the squad after having been sidelined for 5 weeks, Javier Saviola and Sylvinho are out through technical decision and Ronaldinho and Edmilson are out through suspension. In the end, the Spanish Sports Disciplinary committee refusing to overturn Ronaldionho’s red card.
With the absence of Ronaldinho but with the support of the Camp Nou, Barça will go out looking to take on the Liga title race head on.