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02.11.2008 18:09

More than just three points

Marc Guillén

Barça’s eleventh consecutive victory at Malaga is one of those key wins for getting the league title, and there’s a lot of proof for this.

Barça won more than just three points and the leadership at Malaga. The players’ character and heart were crucial in an epic victory of a great team.

Xavi and Piqué, excellent

It was a great team effort yesterday, but the work of Xavi Hernàndez and Gerard Piqué, two of the seven players who came up through the youth squad, stood out. The defender took advantage of being the tallest player (1.92m) in the squad by stopping a lot of high balls. On a day a sound Barça defending, Piqué also picked up ten passes, and only lost one.

ALN01D03.014.jpgFor his part, Xavi was man of the match with his two goals, a feat he hasn’t managed since he was in youth football. Xavi is now Barça’s third highest scorer with six goals, three of them in the league. He’s also the player whose passes have set up most goals – six to date.

More than three goals a game

The figures speak for themselves. In the league, Barça has scored 28 goals (13 at home and 15 away) – an average of 3.1 a game. If we exclude the first two league games, it’s an average of 3.85 a game. In the Champions League, there’s an average of 2.8 goals a game.

449 minutes with a clean sheet

malaga_-_fcb_x6x.jpgMalaga player Duda’s great goal on Saturday broke a four-game clean sheet for Barça. They had played Bilbao, Basle, Almeria and Benidorm without letting in a goal. Though the keeper in Benidorm was Jose Manuel Pinto, Victor Valdes had kept a clean sheet for 359 minutes before Duda’s goal.

Four goals from free kicks

With the pitch in such a bad state, strategic moves became the key to the game, and the Barça players knew this and took advantage. Xavi and Alves got the first and fourth goals from direct free kicks.
Until the Malaga game, Barça had scored two other goals from free kicks. The first was when Messi surprised Bilbao’s defensive wall, and the second was scored by Alves against Almeria. This total of four shows Barça knows how to make the most of a dead ball.
More than just three points
For the historical records
Historically, Barça has found it difficult to win when weather conditions have been as bad as they were on Saturday in Malaga, but when they win, the victories are memorable. The last two times they won on water-logged pitches, they won the league.

In the 1998/99 season, the game against Bilbao was nearly suspended, but Barça went on to win 4-2 with goals from Luis Enrique, Cocu and Rivaldo (2). The same year, they went on to win Van Gaal’s second league title. Back in 1993/94, Barça beat Valladolid 1-3 on a muddy pitch in the Jose Zorilla stadium. Zubizarreta was sent off in the 12th minute, but Barça’s three goals came from Koeman (2) and Romario, and the same season they went on to win Johann Cruyff’s fourth league title.

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