Bernabeu Massacre as Barca batter Real Madrid!

messi-real-madridBarcelona humiliated Real Madrid at the Bernabeu this evening to move seven points at the top of La Liga with four games to play.

In a frenetic encounter, featuring eight goals, the Catalans outclassed their opponents in a terrific display of attacking football and could easily have had more goals than the six they scored.

After going behind early to a Gonzalo Higuain header they responded well and within seven minutes found themselves in front.

First Thierry Henry passed the ball around Iker Casillas and then with twenty minutes on the clock, Carles Puyol found himself unmarked from a free-kick to head into the net.

The Catalans were not about to stop at 2-1 either and they continued to push forward, forcing Casillas to make a few more saves before a Lassana Diarra mistake saw Lionel Messi add a third.

Madrid hit back soon after the break as yet another free-kick resulted in a goal, this time with Sergio Ramos heading home at the back post.

Henry scored his second nearly immediately after though to secure the win and then Messi added another with a superb goal later, before Gerard Pique got on the scoresheet after tapping from close range.

The win puts Barcelona within touching distance of the Primera title and means that Madrid’s season is all but over with four games left.

With both coaches deciding to go for their strongest teams from the start, it was little surprise that the match started at a frantic pace. Within the first minute Sergio Ramos had clumsily passed straight to Messi, who found Xavi, only for Iker Casillas to save his shot from outside the box. That chance set the tone for the early stages though as Arjen Robben darted through the Barcelona defence a couple of times and Messi set up Eto’o for the striker to disappointingly shoot straight at the ‘keeper.

The visitors looked the more likely to score but it was Madrid who sent the Bernabeu wild by taking the lead, as Ramos shook off Eric Abidal to cross straight to Higuain who, completley unmarked, headed past Victor Valdes. It was the perfect start for the home team but, within seven minutes of the goal, they found themselves behind.

First, Messi chipped a delightful ball over the top of Ramos to Henry, who slotted past Casillas with his right foot, and then, with on the 20 minute mark, Fabio Cannavaro conceded a needless free-kick on the left flank, which was subsequently whipped in for Puyol to head home.

It was a frantic start to the match and the pace was unrelenting as Robben’s shot was saved by Valdes and then Daniel Alves forced his ‘keeper to make another block as he nearly scored an own goal. It was Barcelona who looked the more dangerous though as Casillas had to save from Messi from close range and then watch as the Argentine struck a shot just wide of the post.

The space allowed to Barcelona had to tell soon and just after the half hour mark it did, as Xavi stole the ball from Lassana Diarra and passed in Messi, who finished past the ‘keeper to make it three. Even Alves nearly got in on the act as he hit a free-kick on target for once and forced Casillas to palm away, just before the interval.

After the break it was the same story too, as Barcelona continued to look threatening; Henry beating Ramos with ease on the left before winning a corner that was eventually cleared. Only Robben looked dangerous for the home side but he resorted to going to ground easily rather than try to beat Puyol on the flank.

Yet again though, Madrid scored against the run of play and, yet again, it was thanks to some poor marking from Barcelona. A free-kick on the right was whipped in by Robben and at the back post Ramos headed home past Valdes, to give the Bernabeu some hope with 35 minutes to go.

henry-etoo-real-madridNot long after Madrid thought they were back in the match though, Barcelona responded to score their fourth of the game. A delightful chip over the top from Xavi found Henry, who beat the on-rushing Casillas to the ball and tapped around him from the edge of the box to spark wild celebrations from the Catalans.

With a two goal lead, Barcelona began to slow the pace down, sending on Seydou Keita to replace Henry, but even without the Frenchman they grabbed a fifth. Some superb link-up play between Xavi and Messi resulted in the Spaniard fooling three defenders on the edge of the box and playing in his team-mate, who dummied before tapping past Casillas’ near post.

The humiliation didn’t stop there either, as Pique started a move on the half-way line by playing in Eto’o, and then was found in the box by the striker to tap home at the second attempt. The goal sparked a mass exodus in the Camp Nou and even the referee took pity on Madrid as he called full-time on the game with nearly no injury-time.

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Barcelona 0 – 0 Chelsea : Anti-football thwarts attack

henry-penalty-claimChelsea came and parked their bus in the Nou Camp.  Barcelona dominated possession and the chances on the night, but were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty.  Chelsea did have the luck however, as they should have probably had Michael Ballack sent off for two yellow cards in the second half.

Barcelona now find themselves with a big problem at the centre of their defence for the second leg. With Carlos Puyol now ruled out after picking up a harsh yellow card and Rafa Marquez now ruled out for the season after picking up a heavy knee injury, Chelsea will surely be rubbing their hands at that.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola was frustrated by Chelsea’s tactics in Tuesday’s goalless Champions League draw and believes referees should come down harder on teams who concentrate on breaking up play with tactical fouls.

Like Chelsea, Barcelona finished the semi-final first-leg with two yellow cards – Alex, Michael Ballack, Yaya Toure and Carles Puyol all going into the book – but Chelsea committed more than twice as many fouls and Guardiola believes the visitors should be punished for playing a negative game.

“Chelsea were constantly interrupting play with fouls while we played our normal attacking game,” he said. “One team is playing an attacking game and that should be taken into account.”

“The players complained about the referee, they were upset about that,” he revealed after the match. “I don’t complain about the referees, but I think the referee should see which team is attacking and which team is interrupting the play.

“We play clean; we foul as little as possible. And we have the same amount of cards as them. It’s not normal, it’s not fair.

“We said before the game: ‘no hard tackles, no fouls, it’s not necessary’, but we attacked, attacked and attacked and it’s ridiculous that we should end up with the same amount of cards as them.”

Guardiola believes such decisions could decide games in elite European competition.

“In the Champions League, small details decide games and could be the difference between winning or losing the tournament,” he said.

Nevertheless, Guardiola said he was not unhappy with the result.

“The result is what it is. Chelsea played very defensively, they were very disciplined and very strong with six players defending,” he said. “We will go to London and to the Bernabeu (for Saturday’s Primera Division game against Real Madrid) with the same spirit.”

Although Chelsea will be happy that they did not concede in Barcelona, they will be all too aware that they are more than capable of scoring away goals at Stamford Bridge.  Surely next week Chelsea cannot be so negative?..

It is precisely this negativity that is ruining football, they were scared and afraid of Barca’s attacking superiority…fair play though, their tactics have worked…for now..

As for Messi, he was kept quiet bullishly by the Chelsea back line…but to keep him quiet for a whole 180 minutes of football will be some achievement.. we’ll find out next week!

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