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Deportivo La Coruña
September 22, 2012
• Camp Nou, Barcelona
Referee: Carlos Del Cerro Grande
• Attendance: 65834
Borja Gómez 90'+ (own goal)
That's it from me, Keeghann Sinanan, it's been a pleasure! Till next time!
A quite breathtaking, relentless ending to the match from Barcelona, who kept breaking against the Granada defence like water on rocks. Xavi made the difference off the bench with a magnificent goal in the 87th minute, and then a late own goal sealed an unfortunate end for Granada. They certainly made it hard for the Blaugrana, and were extremely close to clinching a major result. Hats off to Barca though for never letting up. 2-0 the final score.
Full time! Now we can breathe.
90' + 2'
Own Goal Borja Gómez
Own goal! That wraps it up! Gomez is the unfortunate party, but the goal was forced by Messi, who, despite losing the ball in a crowd of players, harried to win it back and drove the ball towards goal, where Gomez sends a sliding clearance the wrong direction into the back of the net!
90' + 1'
Messi has just hit the post. A superb through pass from Pedro finds the Argentine on the left. He strikes hard, beats Tono, but sees his shot cannon back off the post!
Sanchez again! He again nips in ahead of the Granada defence to strike a loose ball in the area! Tono saves low at his feet though!
Could have been two! Sanchez's pace is too much as he attacks a loose ball on the edge of the box. He beats his marker, tees up Pedro in space, but the Spaniard's lifted finish goes over the bar!
XAVI HAS DONE IT! What an unbelievable strike to finally break the resistance of Tono and Co.! A cross into the area is challenged by Sanchez. The ball spills out to Xavi at the edge of the box, who touches it into the air and smashes an absolute beauty in off the underside of the bar!
Granada have just had two amazing openings on the break. Barca are so committed in attack, that the visitors have two opportunities to overwhelm the hosts on the break. The final ball though, in both instances, was lacking.
INSANE! An amazing 30 second passage! First, Orellana breaks clear beyond the sleeping Barca defence and advances clean through on Valdes, who makes a clutch block! The Blaugrana immediately storm back down the pitch, and a one-two sees Messi shoot from close range, only for Tono to deny him again!
Backs to the wall time for Granada here. They are close, very close, to taking the first points off Barcelona this season.
Xavi lifts in a telling cross towards the six-yard area. Sanchez gets up surprisingly well to peat Inigo Lopez in the air and head towards goal, but it lacks any power and is an easy grab for Tono.
Camp Nou up in arms appealing for a penalty. Fabregas tries to unleash his inner Messi, twisting and turning against Siqueira, but the fullback is having none of it. He slides in to clear the ball, felling Fabregas in the process, but it looks like the midfielder went down to easily. Good call.
As I just finish singing his praises, Tono comes up with another gem between the posts! Tello fashions a glorious chance for Xavi with a lightning quick break down the left. He crosses to Xavi, who hits it right on the penalty spot, but the Granada keeper, again, blocks low. Fantastic keeping!
We have just seen a save of the year contender from Tono. Sanchez initially had possession deep inside the area but falls over. Granada fail to clear their lines, and the ball breaks to Fabregas 12 yards from goal. He fires hard and true, its heading into the bottom corner, but the SLIGHTEST of fingertips from the keeper diverts it around the post. What. A. Save.
Some real madness in the Granada half as Messi skips past two players with brilliant ease, but is put off by a combined effort from Tono and Lopez. No penalty though.
Brahimi goes off and on comes Gomez in the last change for Granada.
Adriano is next to make way, and on comes Tello, hero of the midweek win against Olympiakos. The youngster scored one and assisted another, and was generally a menace all game.
Yellow Card Borja Gómez
A deserved yellow card for Borja Gomez, who body checks Messi on an attempted break. You can understand sometimes why the Argentine had been developing an agitated edge to his game in the last season or two, after suffering hundreds of challenges like that every year.
Siqueira sparks forward on the break after Messi gave up the ball, he wins a throw in a deep position in the Barca half. A welcome respite for the visitors.
Barca probing and probing for an avenue to break through. Messi however, is cornered into a cul de sac, and is robbed of the ball by Iriney.
Pedro did excellently to latch onto a Xavi pass on the right, jink past his marker and whip in a teasing cross which Tono punches away from the onrushing Messi!
Orellana sees two corners in quick succession fisted clear by Valdes at the near post. When in doubt, punch it out.
El Arabi receives a good crossfield ball from Brahimi, but fails to beat Song on the left. Corner to come.
Off goes Torje, on comes Ortiz in the second change for the visitors.
Messi twice denied! First, a beautiful passing move spreads the ball wide to Adriano, and his cross is taken right off the boot of Messi by Siqueira. The resulting corner is punched clear, but Son works it back into Messi who, clean through, is denied by a brilliant stop from Tono!
Nyon motors through two Barcelona players, but Mascherano steps forward to nip the ball off his toes. The Granada fullback keeps striding forward, and forces Valdes to clear hurriedly.
A promising break from Granada. Nyon puts through El Arabi behind the fullback, and the substitute sprints clear down the right. However, he loses control of his sprint and runs right into Adriano, losing the ball.
What are your views on how the first hour has gone? Reach me on Twitter @keeghann.
Antonio Floro Flores
Youssef El Arabi
Floro Flores, who has been struggling in the last minute, is forced off the pitch, with El Arabi coming on in his stead.
Xavi's fresh legs see him race through on a Messi through ball towards the byline, but despite being in the clear, he doesn't lift his head and crosses blindly into the arms of Tono.
Good tackle from Dani Alves to snuff out Brahimi near the corner of the box on a rare foray forward from Granada.
Granada haven't been able to get anything going in attack in the second half so far. Barca have kept them penned back squarely in their own half.
First Barca action on the bench is a double change - Thiago makes way for Xavi, and Villa does the same for Pedro.
A one-two-three between Messi, Fabregas and Sanchez sees the Spaniard tee up the Chilean in the area, but he snatches at his shot and blazes over.
A lot better from Barca in attack as Alves sees a cross deflected over for a corner. They are flowing when on the ball, attacking in dedicated waves, with the fullbacks bombing forward to provide support.
Dani Alves takes charge of a freekick, and pings it towards the six-yard box towards Song. However, the former Arsenal man cannot generate enough purchase on his header and it goes over the bar.
A composed passing move sees Busquets, Fabregas and Adriano touch the ball, with the Brazilian crossing towards the near post. Villa almost stumbles over the cross but manages to get a shot away, but Tono makes a solid stop low down. That was one of those shots that we often see slip through the keeper's wickets.
Narrowest of offsides on Villa, who was attempting to latch on to a Fabregas pass.
Here we go again! Hit me up on Twitter @keeghann for any comments on the match!
Frustration may be the best way to describe Barca's experiences in the first half. They've been dominant in possession, as expected, but Granada have followed the script of many of the 'lesser' teams to square off at Camp Nou, and have defended deeply and diligently. The pressure from the Catalans finally began to tell towards the end of the half as they fashioned a few chances, but some last ditch stuff at the back, particularly from Inigo Lopez, has kept them at bay. Second half in just a bit, so stay tuned.
45' + 1'
That's the end of the half.
Yellow Card Toño
Tono picks up a stupid yellow card for time wasting.
Villa and Messi having a right old go at each other after a miscommunication on a move.
A deep cross into the area is taken by Thiago on his chest. He primes to whack one into the corner, but a Granada defender manages to block him off! And that brave man is, you guessed it, Inigo Lopez!
This is more like it from Barca. The last seven to nine minutes have been sustained pressure in the Granada half - but more importantly, pressure with a cutting edge. No surprise to see Messi at the heart of everything good.
More desperate defending from Granada! Messi squares up to Inigo Lopez once again. This time, he beats his marker deep inside the area, shifts onto his left foot, but sees his endeavor halted by Iriney, who had tracked back into the box!
Another clutch block from Inigo Lopez had denied Messi, who seemed to be away after a ridiculously good first touch. Barca turning the screw a bit here...
And again! This time it's a bit of defensive mix up that nearly breaks Granada's resistance. A seemingly harmless stabbed ball from Sanchez is met with an ungainly back-header from Gomez that almost loops under the crossbar, but for the fingertips of Tono!
A freekick from which they very nearly score! A sumptuous move frees Messi on the run towards goal. He seems to be a step ahead of the defence, but Lopez just manages to block with his boot!
A late challenge from Iriney fells Busquets once again, giving Barca a freekick.
Hit me up on twitter @keeghann for any comments on the game!
Granada are giving a good account of themselves here. There have been a few nervy moments - there always are when you face Barca. But their defensive shape has been a rigid 4-5-1 shape when in their own half and they have made it hard for the Catalans on the ball.
Busquets, with all the time in the world, passes straight to Torje, sparking Granada on the counter. Iriney feeds Siqueira on the overlap down the left, and the fullback holds off his marker before blasting high towards goal. Valdes tips it over though!
Messi leads the charge on the break. Poor Rico is left on his backside as the Argentine skips past him and feeds Sanchez in the wing. But the Chilean's cross really kills the attack as it is hacked clear by the defence.
Barca are up in arms looking for a penalty. Sanchez's cross looks to have struck the arm of Nyon, or at least that's the Catalan viewpoint. Rather inconclusive from what I saw.
Yellow Card Antonio Floro Flores
Floro Flores foils a promising Granada attack with a careless backheel that fails to pick up the overlapping runner on the wing. In his attempts to win the ball back, he clumsily fouls the one person you don't want to be fouling - Sergio Busquets. The Barca man makes sure everyone knows he's in pain, and Floro Flores gets a yellow card.
And as soon as I say that, they fashion a great chance. Messi, charging towards goal is blocked by a swarm of Granada defenders. The ball is deflected out to Fabregas at the top of the D, he shoots, but its straight at Tono! He of all people needs a goal too!
Granada have every man back in their own half. Barca are dominating possession, but are not getting things to click. Again, we've seen this before.
Keep an eye on Gabriel Torje, the Udinese loanee filling in on the right flank for Granada. He's a pacy, tricky wide man who loves to beat his man to the byline, exactly the type of player that's given Barca problems in recent games.
Barca starting to dictate things in their usual fashion. Granada haven't had a kick in the last few minutes. Villa has just been called for a marginal offside, after he looked to be clean through when latching onto a Messi pass.
Remember to reach me on Twitter @keeghann if you have anything to say about the game!
It's really good to see David Villa back in the starting lineup. He looks a bit rusty on the ball, but at least he seems eager to get on it. Fit, but not necessarily firing as yet.
Alexis Sanchez and Dani Alves link up on the right. The Brazilian whips in a devilish low cross towards Thiago in the area, but Tono manages to snare the ball.
More unconvincing defending from Barca. A pretty mediocre corner is allowed to go unchallenged. Floro Flores connects, it's blocked to Rico about 12 yards out, he takes it on the volley but it goes off target.
The first cracks begin to appear in the Song-Mascherano partnership. Both jump to challenge the same ball, and the Cameroonian connects with a header that goes in the wrong direction. Floro Flores attacks the ball and shoots, but its straight into the arms of Valdes.
Messi has just seen a shot from close range deflected over the bar, after a fantastic pass by Dani Alves set him up. The covering defender was Siqueira, who scored two penalties in the last meeting between these two sides, a 5-3 victory last March. That game was also the match where Messi became Barca's all-time leading scorer. And of course he scored a hat-trick.
Great hustle from Granada early on as Busquets is triple-teamed into coughing up the ball. The crossfield ball from Rico to Brahimi is not a good one though.
Barca haven't really got going yet. It's Granada who look like the home side here, as they force the Blaugrana into a few mistakes in possession.
Granada seem to be using Spartak's tactics from midweek - exploit the flanks on the counter attack. Siqueira's cross from the left is deflected, and with none of the central defenders in any hurry to attack it, Valdes makes an unconvincing punch clear.
And here we go! Any questions, thoughts or wisecracks through the game? Hit me up on Twitter @keeghann.
We're just about to kick things off here...
Should Granada upset all the odds and escape with a win here today, then they will move out of the relegation gone and, whisper it quietly, leapfrog Real Madrid in the table.
Barca of course have started the domestic season perfectly. In a results sense anyway, because some of their performances have been less than stellar, with only that man Messi giving them the extra nudge over the finish line. That pattern played out midweek in the Champions League as well where Spartak gave them a run for their money, only for Messi to score twice in the last 18 minutes to clinch a 3-2 victory.
But before we hold a candlelight vigil for Vilanova, who has been forced to field a central defence that cost over €40 million, spare a thought for Granada coach Juan Antonio Anquela. Regulars Fran Rico, Manolo Lucena, Hassan Yebda and Dani Martinez are all missing today, making his already daunting trip to Camp Nou seem set to play out like a scene from 300.
In case you haven't noticed, Tito Vilanova has included Javier Mascherano and Alex Song in central defence. Puyol and Pique are out injured, which is why the Barca boss begins with two midfielders by trade at the back. Or it could be another step forward in the ultimate master plan of fielding a 1-10-0 formation to make the dreams of every tiki-taka/tippy tappy/total football connoisseur come true.
Granada (4-2-3-1): Tono; Nyom, Siqueira, Inigo Lopez, Borja Gomez; Iriney, Mikel Rico; Brahimi, Orellana, Torje; Floro Flores.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Alves, Song, Mascherano, Adriano; Busquets, Thiago, Cesc; Alexis, Messi, Villa.
The lineups are in...
Greetings one and all, and welcome to today's La Liga clash between Barcelona and Granada! I'm Keeghann Sinanan, and I'll be taking you through the play-by-play.
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