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January 6, 2013
• Camp Nou, Barcelona
Referee: Jesús Gil
• Attendance: 73760
Pedro 15', 27'
L. Messi 29'
That's all from me for tonight guys, thanks very much for joining me. Good night!
FULL-TIME: BARCELONA 4-0 ESPANYOL Tito Vilanova's side ensured he experienced a calm return to the Barcelona dugout following his recent surgery as they bulldozed their way past Espanyol at Camp Nou. Pedro scored twice in the first half, between goals from Xavi and Messi, as the Blaugrana raced into a four-goal lead at the break. They had chances to increase the scoreline after the interval, and but for the crossbar and some questionable offside decisions they would have. The win makes it 52 points from a possible 54 so far this season in the league, as they continue their superb unbeaten run.
90' + 2'
Espanyol have possession as the game reaches its conclusion, with the referee blowing the final whistle after Casilla hoofs a goal kick upfield.
90' + 1'
Iniesta has been sensational for Barcelona this evening. He's just danced past two challenges and played a scything pass into the path of Messi who is just beaten to the ball by Casilla. How do you choose one from Messi, Ronaldo and Iniesta for the Ballon d'Or??
The fourth official signals that there will be two minutes of added time.
Pique is finishing the game in a position on the left wing for Barcelona, which tells you what kind of end we are seeing to the match at Camp Nou. Barca are well in control as they ease to what looks like it will be a four-goal victory.
HOW HAS MORENO NOT SEEN RED FOR THAT?!! The defender catches Thiago with a horrid two-footed off-the-ground challenge as the Spanish midfielder looks to break through on goal, yet the referee deems it is only a yellow card. Moreno is very very lucky not to have been heading for a slightly early bath there.
Yellow Card H. Moreno
Alba is still making his way to the byline from his position at left-back, despite there being 85 minutes gone and his team leading 4-0. He has got such an engine on him, the former Valencia man.
I cannot believe Barcelona haven't scored in the second half.
MESSI'S EFFORT COMES CRASHING BACK OFF THE CROSSBAR!! The Ballon d'Or contender sends a curling strike onto Casilla's woodwork that then bounces away to safety. The Espanyol goalkeeper was well-beaten there!
Barca win a free kick for a foul on Messi 30 yards out, and the Argentine lines up the set piece himself...
GOOD BLOCK FROM VALDES!! The Barca goalkeeper saves Pique's blushes with a strong save from Albin after his team mate had lazily given the ball away just outside his own penalty area.
Both linesman have been a bit flag-happy tonight. On the latest occasion the official nearest to us raises his vibrant piece of cloth when Garcia is clearly being played onside by Pique as a ball is played through.
The Chile international Alexis Sanchez is the man who replaces Pedro for the home side.
Off goes Pedro to a standing ovation from the Camp Nou faithful, he deserves that, he's put in an exemplary performance tonight. His movement and finishing was top notch during his time on the pitch.
Classic Busquets. Barcelona's tough-tackling midfielder collapses to the floor under a challenge from the Espanyol substitute Stuani, and Busquets' mock pain is so convincing that the referee shows the visiting player a yellow card.
Yellow Card Stuani
Pedro and the linesman on the far side are not friends. There, I said it. The attacker on his hat-trick again has the ball in the back of the net, but again the linesman lifts his flag to say he is offside. When he wasn't! It should be 6-0 now, and Pedro should have four to his name!
STAT: Iniesta has now provided 100 assists in his career: 79 for Barcelona and 21 for Spain. What a wonderful player he is.
A heavy pass from Puyol leaves Alba with some work to do to keep the ball in play in the left-back position for Barcelona, but no Espanyol players even attempt to challenge the Spaniard, which gives him time to control the ball and bring it out of defence.
Barca make their second change as Cesc is replaced by the reported Chelsea/Arsenal/Liverpool/Manchester City/Tottenham target David Villa.
WHAT A GOA.... Hang on, there's a flag up. I'm not sure about that! Messi slides a fine pass to Fabregas, who then cuts the ball back to Pedro for a simple finish with Casilla pulled out of position. Fabregas is adjudged to have been offside in the build-up even though replays show he wasn't. What a shame! That was an electric move from the home side.
That is sublime from Barcelona! Iniesta and Fabregas exchange passes brilliantly on the near side to flummox Espanyol's midfield and advance forward with the ball. It is eventually worked to Alves on the right, but his cross is overhit and Casilla can gather it in his arms under pressure from Messi.
And finally they are able to make the switch, the young midfielder comes on in place of Xavi.
Barcelona are also set to make their first substitution of the game, with Thiago warming up on the sidelines.
Espanyol choose to make a change as Barcelona prepare to take a corner - Christian Alfonso replaces the yellow-carded Raul Baena.
Superb defensive play from Pique a theatrical tumble to the turf. The Barca man tackles Garcia inside his own box before turning away from the Espanyol attacker's challenge before being tripped by Simao as he looks to dribble out of the penalty area. He wins a free kick for the foul, but his flailing arms and yelp as he hit the deck was far from impressive.
The home side should have a corner after Casilla fails to clear the ball under pressure from Pedro, but instead the referee awards a goal kick to Espanyol. Strange.
Xavi lofts the free kick to the back post but Fabregas only manages to pull off an air shot that rivals Garcia's from the first half for ridiculousness. You don't expect that from two professional footballers!
Baena hacks his way into the referee's notebook after crashing into Iniesta on the left-hand side. Barca have a free kick 35 yards out...
Yellow Card Raúl Baena
Lopez dispossess Alba well in the full-back position, but the Barca man embarks on a lung-bursting run to win the ball back, a task he succeeds in as he nicks the ball off Lopez and passes it to Puyol. That boy can move!
Iniesta teases a pass inside Lopez to Alba but the left-back cannot quite get to the ball before Casilla, the Epsanyol goalkeeper coming off his line well to steal the ball away.
No changes for either side at the break by the way.
Messi very nearly plays in Iniesta with a threaded through ball just moments after kick off. The Spaniard would have been one-on-one with Casilla there, but for a crucial lunge and block from Colotto.
Espanyol get us underway for the second half, fingers crossed it is as entertaining as the first 45 were!
The teams are back out on the pitch at Camp Nou. Second half coming up shortly...
HALF-TIME: BARCELONA 4-0 ESPANYOL Javier Aguirre's men have been outclassed in the first half of this Catalunya derby, with Barcelona racing into a four-goal lead before the break. Xavi gave the Blaugrana the lead following a fine passing move before Pedro struck twice and Messi scored from the spot. The home side have been well in control so far, and could go on to score quite a few in the second period by the looks of things in that first half. Join me in 10 minutes for all the action after the break!
45' + 1'
And there is the half-time whistle! Barcelona lead Espanyol 4-0 here.
The visitors have a late chance to test Valdes but a horrible air-shot from Garcia diverts possession straight back into the hands of Barcelona. That was an awful effort from the Espanyol frontman!
Corner for Espanyol...
A deflected shot from Iniesta results in a corner for the home side, and presents them with a chance to score a fifth. However, after playing the ball short from the set piece Pedro is tackled on the edge of the box by Colotto, who is then able to hack the ball upfield.
Barcelona have taken their foot off the gas somewhat as we approach half-time, and to be honest, who can blame them? They are four goals up before the break!
Garcia is holding the ball up well for Espanyol but his team mates are not doing enough to support the forward at the moment. On a couple of occasions in this first half he has shielded the ball and looked to tee it off only for no-one to make themselves available for a pass.
A crucial clearance from Alves stops the ball from running through to Simao as the attacker lurks at the back post following some decent play from Garcia for the visitors. Espanyol have looked slightly more threatening in the last few minutes.
Espanyol launch a rare attack down the right through Verdu, but the midfielder's cross field pass to Baena is wayward and gifts Barcelona a throw. That was very disappointing from Verdu, the away side had a real chance to test Barca's defence there!
Goal.com have got some fabulous Ballon d'Or content on the site at the moment, with the prestigious award being awarded tomorrow evening, and we are lucky enough to be watching two of the three contenders tonight in the form of Iniesta and Messi. The former has supplied his 11th Liga assist to set up Xavi's opening goal, while the latter has just scored from the spot to make it 4-0. And the guy they are up against, Cristiano Ronaldo, he scored twice earlier today. They're a bit good aren't they??
2013 so far: Cristiano Ronaldo 2-1 Lionel Messi...
I tell you what, I've just seen a replay of that penalty decision and I think Casilla has every right to feel a bit hard done by here. It looked to me like he won the ball as he dived at the feet of Fabregas! The referee thought otherwise though, and now the away side trail by FOUR goals after half an hour.
Penalty Goal Messi
MESSI SLIDES THE SPOT KICK HOME! 4-0 TO BARCA! The Argentine gets off the mark in 2013 from 12 yards, sending Casilla the wrong way with a well-struck shot into the bottom left corner.
Yellow Card Kiko Casilla
Barcelona have a penalty after Casilla catches Fabregas as he looks to dribble past him inside the Espanyol box! A chance to make it 4-0 her for Messi.
3-0!! PEDRO SCORES AGAIN!! The Masia graduate breaks the offside trap to latch on to Busquet's inch perfect through ball and lift a fine lob over the onrushing Casilla and into the back of the net. Pedro waits 5 months for a goal and two come along in the space of 10 minutes!
That's better from Alves! The full-back fires a cross straight onto the head of Messi but the Argentine cannot direct the ball on target and it bounces away to safety.
Sergio Garcia gambles on a bouncing pass from his own half to get the wrong side of Pique and Puyol, but he cannot test Valdes with his shot as it flies wide of the Barca goal.
Iniesta misplaces a pass. Make a note, we probably won't see that again in this match.
STAT: That goal from Pedro was his first for Barcelona since the first day of the Liga season back in August, when he struck against Real Sociedad. Remarkable!
A hopeful punt forward from Baena runs straight through to Victor Valdes. The Barca goalkeeper has been a bystander so far in this match, as Espanyol have really struggled to keep a hold of the ball on the scarce occasions that they do win it from the home side.
Barcelona won 4-0 in the corresponding fixture against Espanyol last season, and are already two goals up here despite there being less than 20 minutes played. What do you guys think the final score will be? Let me know your predictions in the comment box to the right of this commentary!
Alves raises his hand to apologise to his teammates on the right after putting an awful cross behind for an Espanyol goal kick. That wasn't pretty from the Brazilian. Not at all.
UNBELIEVABLE!! PEDRO MAKES IT 2-0!! But this goal is all about the assist. How Fabregas managed to dribble past Lopez and Moreno and pick out Messi is beyond me! The Argentine sent a shot goalwards from 10 yards that Pedro helped in from close range to increase Barcelona's lead.
GOOD STOP FROM CASILLA!! Barcelona threaten to score a second through Iniesta after a lovely pirouette and pass from Fabregas splits the Espanyol defence wide open. Iniesta's shot was dealt with well by Casilla though, as he came off his line to block the goalbound shot.
Pedro fires a shot wide from 15 yards but the linesman on the near side has his flag up anyway, as Espanyol's defence stepped forward to catch the Barcelona man out as he received the lofted pass from Xavi.
1-0 TO BARCELONA!! WHAT A WAY TO START 2013!! Xavi gives the home side the lead in this Catalunya derby with a neat slotted finish under Casilla after a marvellous passing move from right to left culminated in Iniesta passing the ball into the feet of Xavi as he rushed into the box.
Fabregas dallies on the ball 20 yards from the Espanyol goal when he really should have played a quick pass into the path of Iniesta on the left. Instead he opts to turn back into trouble and is dispossessed by Juan Forlin.
Espanyol centre-back Hector Moreno nips in to steal the ball off the left foot of Alba, as the Spain international races into the penalty area and looks to fire a shot at goal. Timely stuff from the defender!
Barcelona are moving the ball superbly in the opening stages, with Iniesta, Messi and Cesc Fabregas playing some delightful passes to one another on the edge of the Espanyol box. Still no shot on goal as yet though, from either side.
Andres Iniesta dances his way into the Espanyol box on the left after being found with an intricate flick from Lionel Messi. Barcelona win a corner but fail to test Kiko Casilla and the ball is cleared by Javi Lopez.
The home side are probing down the flanks early on and the Espanyol full-backs are having trouble tracking the forward runs of Alves and Jordi Alba down each side. The Brazilian just volleyed a cross-shot into the box from the right but none of his team-mates were on the same wavelength and the ball flew out of play on the left-hand side.
It won't be nice for Espanyol, but for your average football fan like me it is great to see the likes of Gerard Pique, Carlos Puyol and Dani Alves all back in the Barcelona starting line-up. All three struggled with injuries before Christmas but have reached full fitness now.
And we are off! Barcelona get the ball rolling...
The teams are out here at Camp Nou, and we are just moments away from kick-off.
MASSIVE NEWS: Tito Vilanova takes his place on the bench for Barcelona tonight, just weeks after undergoing cancer surgery. Top man.
Update from elsewhere in La Liga as we approach kick-off: Real Madrid 4-3 Real Sociedad. Both sides had a man sent off, with Antonio Adan starting in goal for Madrid and then being shown his marching orders five minutes in! Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice for los Blancos, but their defence looked all over the place. Let's hope for similar excitement in this match!
Subs: German, Rodriguez, Victor, Albin, Gomez, Alfonso, Stuani
Espanyol (4-2-3-1): Casilla; Lopez, Colotto, Moreno, Capdevila; Forlin, Sanchez; Verdu, Baena, Simao; Garcia
Subs: Pinto, Montoya, Mascherano, Song, Thiago, Alexis, Villa
Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Alves, Pique, Puyol, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Cesc; Pedro, Messi, Iniesta
The Blaugrana's starting XI doesn't look half bad either. Take a look...
Barca go into the match nine points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid, with Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid back in third. They will be looking to secure all three points against their local rivals tonight, with Espanyol currently languishing in 18th place in La Liga.
My name is Charlie Scott, and I'm the lucky sod guiding you through this match tonight, as Barcelona look to carry on their outstanding league form that saw them drop just two points before Christmas. And those were against Real Madrid.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and may I wish you a warm welcome to Goal.com's LIVE coverage of this evening's Catalunya derby clash between Barcelona and Espanyol.
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