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Deportivo La Coruña
28 January 2012
• Camp El Madrigal, Villarreal
Referee: José Antonio Teixeira Vitienes
• Attendance: 20000
Full-time score 0-0. Barcelona drop more points on the road to drift 7 points off the top in La Liga. The title is Real Madrid's to lose now. Credit to Villarreal though, who defended superbly against the European champions. Thanks for joining us at Goal.com! Good night everybody.
90' + 3'
AND THAT'S IT!!!! Villarreal have got the draw!! What a performance from the home side to limit Barcelona, and not even concede. Jose Molina has revived their season at El Madrigal, and this performance is something for them to build on as they look to move away from the relegation zone.
90' + 2'
Yellow Card Daniel Alves
90' + 1'
Villarreal playing for time now, the substitute Carlos Marchena giving them some breathing space for a moment by winning a free-kick under a number of challenges from Barcelona's midfielders.
Senna departs to a standing ovation from the El Madrigal crowd after putting in a fine display in the centre of the park.
Yellow Card Thiago Alcántara
Wave after wave of Barcelona attacks are being weathered by the Villarreal defence here. They have been fantastic tonight. Lopez makes yet another fine save from Messi.
ANOTHER SAVE FROM LOPEZ!!! Brilliant save from the Villarreal keeper with his legs as Messi looked to have put Barcelona ahead. Cesc then smashed the resulting rebound both high and wide.
CHANCE!!!! Alexis is inches away from converting a superb in-swinging cross from Tello down the left.
YELLOW CARD!!! For Gonzalo. Who we thought was on a yellow card from the first half. Yet it turns out this was a miscommunication from the Spanish television channel broadcasting the game. Sorry about that guys!
Yellow Card Gonzalo Rodríguez
Angel with a timely challenge on Tello in the area there, as Barcelona are tearing forward in search of a winner.
Marcos Ruben down for the home side with a shoulder injury. He may have to be withdrawn.
Barcelona are throwing men forward with ten minutes to go, with Puyol, yes you read that correctly, nearly dancing his way into the penalty area, only to be blocked off by Gonzalo.
An afterthought from that move, Tello showed some exceptional pace there in the build-up to Cesc's chance.
SO CLOSE!!!!!! Diego Lopez with a save from the heavens there to tip Fabregas's deflected effort onto the crossbar.
Yellow Card Joselu
Some more fresh legs on for Barca. Tello and Thiago on for the away side. Will one of the youngsters be the hero for Pep's side?
The game is starting to open up in the final stages, with Barcelona enjoying plenty of possession on the edge of Villarreal's penalty area. They're knocking at the door at El Madrigal. One goal could win this one.
@Gozie24 thinks following the turned down penalty appeal for Villarreal that it is "typical of referees to take sides with Barca. The Yellow Submarines will get at least a draw from this match. 1-1" is his prediction. We will see. A draw would be a fair result in my opinion.
VILLARREAL SUB: Cani off for Castellani
Straight into the wall. They've been disappointing from set plays this evening Barcelona.
Yellow Card Marcos Senna
FREE-KICK!! Barcelona have won another set piece in a dangerous area, and Lionel Messi lines it up, from full 35 yards out.
Here's a question. Who is the best-dressed manager in La Liga; Molina, Guardiola or Mourinho? It's a tough one I know... I'd plump for Guardiola.
Barcelona seem to be running out of ideas at the moment. Villarreal have been fantastic so far tonight, and would be delighted if the score remained the same here.
Don't forget guys, both Villarreal's centre-backs Gonzalo and Musacchio are on yellow cards. That may be something to keep an eye on as this half progresses and Barcelona go in search of goals.
15 places and 25 points separate these two sides in La Liga. Molina has reinvigorated Villarreal this evening, and on the back of this performance fans must hope for a brighter future, and a strong end to the season.
VERY OFFENSIVE SUBSTITUTION FROM GUARDIOLA!! Let's see if it works!
Substitution for Barcelona, Pique making way for Alexis, who was dropped to the bench for this game after picking up a knock against Real Madrid during the week.
Barcelona were 8 points adrift of Real Madrid before the start of this game. The last time a club made up at least five points in the second half of the season was in 2002-03 when Real Madrid overtook Real Sociedad. Los Blancos were five points behind after 19 matches and had a two-point lead over Sociedad in the final standings. Can Barca do it??
Most of you on Twitter still backing the Catalans. Before the game I would have predicted a comfortable win, but Jose Molina has set his side out well tonight, and they have looked really good on the ball. I can see there being goals, possibly for both teams.
Adriano does really well down the left before cutting inside and surging into the area. But there is Bruno to dispossess the Brazilian, and he does so superbly, just as the Barca player looked to pull the trigger.
Borja Valero has been his side's best player this evening, and he does well to evade a couple of challenges in the Barca half there before eventually being dispossessed by the robust Carlos Puyol.
Is this a Copa del Rey hangover from Barcelona or are Villarreal performing really well? Let me know your thoughts on Twitter @charliefscott
Having seen a replay, I can confirm that Barcelona can count themselves very very lucky not to concede a penalty there!
NOW THAT COULD HAVE BEEN A PENALTY!!! Borja Valero is clearly tripped by Busquets in the Barca penalty area, yet the referee gives nothing!!
FREE-KICK!! For Villarreal, after a rash Dani Alves challenge on Senna allows the home side to build from the back with a free-kick 30 yards from their own goal.
Welcome back!! The second half is underway, and Eric Abidal starts the half with a foray down the left that is eventually halted by Angel.
We're goalless at the break here, despite Messi having a couple of decent chances and Villarreal threatening on the counter attack. Don't forget guys, if you want to get involved with our match coverage tonight, send me your thoughts and views to @charliefscott. I'll be back shortly for the second half of this finely poised La Liga match.
Dani Alves and Adriano attacking down either wing for Barcelona, and it means they've only got three men at the back at present. If the home side can catch them on the counter attack they could exploit that.
Still no goals at El Madrigal, but there have been chances, for both sides. I can't see this one finishing 0-0.
Unbelievable from Messi. What a reverse pass that is to Cesc, but the former Arsenal man is not quite on the same wavelength and his heavy first touch allows Diego Lopez to mop up at the back.
Yellow Card Marco Ruben
And Marco Ruben then joins him in the referee's book. I am not sure what for yet though.
This game is really hotting up now!! Tackles flying in all over the shop at El Madrigal, one of which results in a yellow card for Gonzalo. Both Villarreal's centre-backs on yellows now. Not ideal for the home side.
Moments before that disallowed goal Senna had struck a fabulous effort towards goal that Victor Valdes did brilliantly to tip round the post. Shades of 2005-06 Villarreal there.
DISALLOWED GOAL FOR VILLARREAL!! Gonzalo Rodriguez has his header chalked off for offside. Barcelona looking slightly vulnerable from set-plays this evening.
CHANCE FOR VILLARREAL!!! Marco Ruben fires wildly over the bar from distance after being found by a marvelous high ball from Valero. Waste.
Tremendous cross from Oriol down the left for the home side. But guess who was there for Barcelona to snuff out the danger? Yep, who else, Eric Abidal. What a performance he is having tonight! The standout performer so far.
Alves strikes it wide though. Diego Lopez was unhappy about his side's wall there. Fortunately for him Alves's strike was harmless.
Yellow Card Mateo Musacchio
YELLOW CARD!! For Musacchio, and that is a very dangerous place to be giving away a free-kick. 25-30 yards out, left of centre.
Jose Molina's side are unbeaten in their last five matches at El Madrigal, winning three times and drawing twice. They've started well tonight, and have looked dangerous on the break so far.
And that's a well-taken set piece! Barcelona eventually manage to clear the ball after YET MORE superb defending from that man Eric Abidal, this time he's blocked a goal-bound shot at the back post!
Free-kick to the home side. Valero shapes up to take it.
More good defensive play from Eric Abidal, this time intercepting a threaded through-ball from the impressive Valero.
The majority of you on Twitter are predicting a comfortable Barca win tonight, yet after a quarter of the game gone, it's still goalless, although the game does appear to be opening up a bit.
Excellent counter-attack from Villarreal. Borja Valero dances past a couple of challenges down the left before lifting a dangerous cross to the back post that Abidal does well to clear to safety. The home side's fans will want to see more of that tonight!
Villarreal need to be careful not to be overran by Barca's forwards at the moment. Messi and Fabregas have been finding small pockets of space in dangerous areas in the last few minutes.
Messi is hanging right on the shoulder of the last defender at the moment, something that I imagine is every defender in the world's worst nightmare!
INCHES!!!!!!! Messi is so close to giving his side the lead after running through on goal and lifting a delightful chip over Diego Lopez that bounces agonisingly wide of the post.
Barca work the ball nicely in their attacking third. Dani Alves having the shot at the end of it, but it is deflected wide. Alves of course the scorer of that fantastic goal against Real Madrid during the week. It seems like he's got a taste for goal at the moment!
FOUL!! Borja Valero hauls down Sergio Busquets after the tall midfielder evaded the challenges of three of Valero's team-mates.
Barcelona's pressing in the opposition's half is quite breathtaking at times. Every players wants the ball at all times. Great to see!
Messi then attemps an outrageously ambitious effort from the edge of the area. The little Argentine flicking the ball over Gonzalo's head before firing a volley high over the bar.
The home side starting to move the ball around nicely, and only a marginal offside call stops Marco Ruben from racing onto a nicely weighted through-ball.
Neither side has settled into much of a rhythm so far. As I type that, Villarreal work the ball really well down the left, culminating in a rather tame effort from the edge of the box from Cani. Good move though.
Barcelona win a free-kick in a dangerous area. Messi and Xavi stand over it, and it is Messi who strikes the set piece, but it is weak and easily dealt with by the Villarreal defence.
Congratulations to Gerard Pique by the way, who today makes his 100th appearance in La Liga for Barcelona. I still struggle to comprehend why Sir Alex allowed him to leave Manchester United. What a player!
@Victor_Onode thinks this game is going to finish 7-1 to Barcelona with Messi bagging a hat-trick. A Barcelona fan perhaps?
CHANCE!!! Dani Alves nearly takes advantage after the Villarreal defence stands off him, and only a decent save at his feet by Diego Lopez keeps the scores level.
The home side have been struggling for goals lately, with the long-term injury to Giuseppe Rossi and Nilmar set to join Sao Paulo in the next few days.
And we're off... Barcelona winning an early throw-in deep in Villarreal's half.
A reminder for my Twitter account for those who want to get involved tonight; @charliefscott.
The teams are now out, and we are just minutes for kick-off here at El Madrigal.
Let's get some predictions on Twitter for the outcome of this game. Chuck anything my way; scores, who you think will shine, who will flop, let's see how people are feeling about the game!
Barca will have been happy to get past Real Madrid during the week after Los Merengues launched an impressive second half comeback after going 2-0 down. Villarreal have been impressive at home this season, picking up 16 of their 19 points at El Madrigal, and, up against a weakened Barcelona side tonight, they may just fancy their chances of causing an upset.
Pep Guardiola has been forced to make a couple of changes after Andres Iniesta and Alexis both picked up injuries during Barcelona's 2-2 draw with Real Madrid in the second leg of their Copa del Rey tie midweek. Adriano and Mascherano have been called in to replace them. Elsewhere Victor Valdes returns for league duty after Pinto played in the Copa del Rey. Personally, I'm not a fan of Adriano, and find it strange that Thiago has been overlooked for this one. What do you think?
This is Barcelona's starting XI and substitutes bench: (4-3-3): Valdes; Alves, Puyol, Pique, Abidal; Xavi, Busquets, Mascherano; Cesc, Messi, Adriano Subs: Pinto, Alexis, Thiago, Cuenca, Sergi Roberto, Tello, Dos Santos
The teams are in and Villarreal line up as follows: (4-4-2): Diego Lopez; Angel, Gonzalo, Musacchio, Oriol; Senna, Bruno Soriano, Cani, Borja Valero; Joselu, Marco Ruben Subs: Cesar, Mario, Zapata, Marchena, Camunas, Castellani, De Guzman
I'm Charlie Scott and I'll be reporting on the game this evening. If any of you out there on Twitter wish to send me your thoughts throughout the game feel free to do so by tweeting at @charliefscott. I'd love to hear your predictions and opinions as the match progresses.
Hello, and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE coverage of the Spanish Primera Division encounter between Villarreal and Barcelona at El Madrigal.
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