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16.02.2008 23:57

Five points behind the leader

Roger Bogunyà

Barça’s victory in Zaragoza, combined with Real Madrid’s defeat in Sevilla, means that matchday 24 has been a good one all round for the azulgranas. They’ve managed to cut Madrid’s lead by three points and are now just five behind.

When Barça started their match in La Romareda at 10 pm they knew that the League leader, Real Madrid, had slipped up in Seville by losing to Betis. Two hours later Barcelona had reduced the points gap with Bernd Schuster’s men from 8 to 5 with another 14 League games still to go.

Looked easier for Madrid

They’ve done that on a match weekend which in principle looked easier for Madrid than Barça. Madrid were away at Betis, who prior to this Saturday were hovering on the edge of the relegation zone, while Barça had to take on Zaragoza who had only lost once at home this season. At the end of the day the two results have benefited the Catalans who are now five points behind the leader.

A tale of two penalties

zar-fcb_17.jpgThe encounter with Zaragoza was nevertheless very intense and in the end was decided from the penalty spot. Diego Milito missed his for Zaragoza, the first penalty awarded against Barcelona that hasn’t been converted into a goal this season. By contrast Ronaldinho scored his for Barça. It was the Brazilian’s first goal since he netted against Deportivo and his first in 2008.

It has also been the second Barcelona match this season featuring penalties for both sides. The first was in Lyon (2-2), though on that occasion both Messi and Juninho put their penalties away.

Still unbeaten

The 1-2 victory at Zaragoza means that Barça remain unbeaten in 2008. Since they lost to Madrid in the Camp Nou, the azulgranas have picked up points in every game. And this time they’ve done it by scoring more than one goal, something they hadn’t achieved since the game against Murcia on 12 January.

Barça’s away form has improved enormously and the early season doubts now seem a long way away. They haven’t lost away from the Camp Nou for three months now, with the last defeat being at Getafe on 10 November 2007.
Five points behind the leader
Iniesta doesn’t play
It’s news. Andrés Iniesta missed a match for the first time this season. The Barça midfielder wasn’t in the starting XI and wasn’t one of the three substitutes Frank Rijkaard brought off the bench. An unusual experience for Iniesta as up until yesterday he’d played in all Barça’s games.

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