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17.11.2008 13:21

Set piece ploy pays off

Roger Bogunyà

Messi opened the scoring at Nuevo Colombino with a rehearsed, training ground move, but it’s only one of the eight goals scored so far in the League from dead ball situations.

mr10.jpgAmongst other things, training sessions behind closed doors mean you can practice goals like the one created by Xavi and Messi on Sunday at Huelva (0-2). “We’ve been working on it at training, but there are some games when it just doesn’t come off,” said Sergio Busquets after the match. “The other day we saw a video of Recreativo and noticed they didn’t have a defender where Messi came in.” They didn’t have one against Barça either.

Second time around

Busquets is undoubtedly one of the first team players most familiar with the move, as Guardiola used it last year in the Third Division when he was the manager of Barça Atlètic.

QM3D1114.jpgIt was matchday 31 when an identical ploy garnered three points for the reserve team as Jeffren and Pedro created the only goal of the game against Cassà in a training ground move. The team tried the same move in games against Manlleu, Rapitenca and Barbastro though on these occasions they failed to score.

Training ground goal

Guardiola couldn’t conceal his delight after scoring with a training ground ploy. “I’m delighted for Messi,” he said. “The key things were Xavi’s pass and Messi’s ability to put it away. We’ve been practicing it for some time.”

“In a game as evenly balanced as today’s you need to surprise the other lot,” said Alves. “We’ve been working on it for quite a while,” added Márquez.

Five goals from free kicks

QM3D1378.jpgMessi’s goal in Huelva was the fifth from a free kick this season. The other four, however, were the result of direct shots on goal. The first one came when Messi took advantage of a lack of concentration in the Atlético de Madrid defence and scored when Coupet was lining up a wall which hadn’t been asked for.

Then two powerful strikes by Alves brought two more goals against Almeria and Malaga, while Xavi’s accuracy provided another against Malaga.

Four more from corners

QM3D3414.jpgSet piece plays don’t only come from free kicks. Corners can be dangerous as well, and Barça have scored from four of them. Márquez is responsible for two, against Sporting Lisbon and Atlético de Madrid, while two more came from Eto’o and an own goal against Sporting Gijon.
Set piece ploy pays off
One in three from set pieces
Almost 25% of Barça’s League goals (8 out of 36) have come from corners and free kicks. However, the Catalans have also scored from the penalty spot on three occasions, against Racing, Espanyol and Atlético de Madrid, which brings the strike rate from set pieces up above 30%, or almost one in three goals.

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