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January 2, 2011
• Camp Nou, Barcelona
Referee: Miguel Pérez Lasa
• Attendance: 70000
Pedro 47', 59'
C. Stuani 80'
Barcelona being 2011 in winning ways thanks to two goals from Pedro. Levante will feel as if they played well enough to get something from the game and should take some confidence away from this game. This is where I leave you, but not before a few words from Xavi. Take a bow son. Good night to you all.
90' + 3'
At that is the last action in the game. Full-time at the Camp Nou.
90' + 2'
Yellow Card Stuani
90' + 2'
Levante have one last chance here. They win a freekick from 30 yards out. Reina comes up for it, and the delivery is dangerous but someone the ref awards a freekick to Barcelona. Really nothing in that, just Valdes was on the floor.
90' + 1'
We are reaching the climax of this game as we head into injury time. Abidal finds himself on the floor clutching his head and Barca look as if they are going to survive. Still time for Levante to launch some final attacks however. And here is one, a long range freekick - but Stuani is called up for a shove on Milito.
Yellow Card Xavi
Yellow Card Busquets
The ball is in the net, after Villa lifts the ball over the onrushing Reina. But he is flagged for offside, replays show he was onside and that the goal should have stood. Ahh, replays, only if they were instant access for officials.....
How it isn't 3-1! Barcelona are bearing down on Reina's goal, Alves comes in from the right hand side, with Villa and Pedro in support but he fails at the most simple of crosses overhitting it and the chance is gone. Pedro goes on to recollect the ball and crosses, it is a shambles in the area, Pedro turns to shoot but his shot is blocked of the line and somehow Villa's effort his turned around the post. Incredible.
I didn't think Messi was on the pitch!? David Villa finds some magic in his boots. Alves started the move by cutting in from the right hand side, squeezing the ball onto Villa, who darted past one defender, before turning another, and touching it beyond one more. Although the angle was tight he was able to find a shot on target and Reina had to expertly tip behind. Stunning from Villa.
Pedro has earnt his way tonight, peeling wide left creating space for himself. His cross though is deflected behind for a corner.
Barcelona aren't a club to panic, but any team will feel nervous with little time remaining and just a goal in it. It is proving that way at the moment, Levante enjoying possession which they haven't had before.
GOALLLLL!!!! The big man unleashes a stunning goal, Stuani is the man of the moment providing Levante a foothold in the game. Rocha delivered a great cross into Stuani's path and he is unable to hit the ball perfectly, Valdes doesn't even move as the volley nearly bursts the net. Guardiola doesn't look so calm.
Close from Barca. Turning it up, Alves makes an uncharted run into the area, a run the Xaiv tries to find. However the rebound falls to Villa who looks to bear down on goal and grab a third but it is just well defended by Reina.
There is a sense of getting to the finishing line for the league leaders now. They are stroking the ball around well at ease, turning it up every now and then.
Pedro is picked out by a forty-yard cross field ball, which the Spaniard delicately controls and provides a dangerous cross. On this occasion Robuste is equal to it.
Villa looks to protect the ball, but is clattered from behind by Cerra. Somehow, the foul goes against Barca's No. 7. Strange that one.
Xavi, has had practice with his free-kicks, and he final attempt just brushes the roof of the the net. Great effort, but it remains 2-0.
Counter-attacking at its most lethal. A corner from Levante is cleared away, allowing Xavi to bring the ball clear, he plays a wonderful ball through to Pedro bursting down the right and his cross is only just dealt with by Robuste seeing is clip just go wide of the post.
CROSSBARR! Amazing, just amazing. Kieta finds the ball at his feet from Xavi's firm pass, and he manages to control expertly well, before spinning and playing a ball though for Thiago. The substitutes combined brilliantly allowing Thiago to clip the ball over the onrushing Reina but only to see his effort rebound of the bar.
Decent work from Villa on the left, winning a corner which Barcelona quickly take. They continue to press but are unable to break down Levante.
There is a new noise level at Camp Nou now, and Levante don't look like they are capable of finding two goals here.
Assist Daniel Alves
GOOALLLLLL!!! Number two for Pedro, and again Alves is the provider. He has amples of from on the right hand touchline, and he pulls the ball back to Pedro. The No. 17 doesn't even need a touch to set it up, he just bends his foot around the ball and directs it into the far corner. Beautiful goal.
Levante create a chance there, quite out of nothing. The ball is deep on the right hand touch line, but Jorda is able to bend in a beautiful cross for Xisco who meets it with a diving header that has some power. Unlucky for him that his header is straight at Valdes - shot on target though from Levante.
It was Xavi, he had bend and direction but not the right placement. Started too far to the right and Reina was able to move across and easily save.
Levante find themselves in an attacking position, on the left hand touch line but they are unable to creat anything. Instead Barca counter fantastically and Pedro is bundled over by Pallardo givin the home side a free-kick in a dangerous position. 25 yards out, and just left of central. Xavi this time?
Passing resumes, and it build and builds until Thiago has an opening infront of him, strides forwards and powers a low strike which Reina is just able to gather. Thiago had only come on moments earlier for Mascherano.
Alves is proving dangerous at the start of the half as he gets forward again, this time he is unable to beat hi sman and kicks the ball out the play.
Assist Daniel Alves
GOALLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And it was coming, the ball was being played around the penalty area, Alves found himself in acres of space on the right hand side, in the box and Xavi found him with the perfect pass. He then dummied, dummied and then laied the ball to Pedro who unleashed a great strike beyond Reina. Levante have to come out now, surely.
Ten seconds into the second half - Barcelona have the ball and are moving it foward. Hello next 45 minutes?
Players are back out the second half at Levante are the side that will get us underway. Here we go folks, hold on tight now.
Half-time at Camp Nou, and despite frantic play and attacking intent it remains goalless. Barca have been the better side which would have been expected but Levante have caused some problems. Rejoin us in fifteen or so minutes for the second half, and hopefully some goals!
45' + 2'
Bojan is screaming for a penalty when he feels as if he is clipped but even after the chases after the man in yellow. the only thing he gets is a booking.
45' + 2'
Yellow Card Bojan Krkic
45' + 2'
For the record, if Bojan had been given a penalty it would have been incredibly soft.
45' + 1'
Yellow Card Nano
OOO! Ofside again, Bojan needs to learn, a clever ball through again from Xavi is perfect for the Spanish striker but firstly - his effort his smothered by Reina when he should have buried, and secondly he was flagged. Not good enough.
Reina's palms have really been tested in the last minutes. This time Iniesta cuts in on the right hand touch line and fires across goal that the stopper pushes away, only as far as Alves who strikes through several players. Reina just see's enough of it and gets behind the ball to save well.
Barca still be limited to the long range efforts, this time ex-Liverpool man Jaiver Mascherano strikes from far but his shot his deflected for a corner.
The corner is half cleared to Pedro who fires in a low shot, but Reina is able to scramble acorss and get low to his right. He pushes the ball right back into the danger area where Busquets fights forward only to see his prod go wide of the post. Ref pulled play back for a foul, so didn't matter too much.
Iniesta dribbles maginificiently pass three defenders, into the penalty area and manages to win his side a corner.
Robuste causes a stoppage in play here allowing the players to take on needed fluids. It has been a frantic opening forty minutes thus far.
Xavi plays a wonderful ball through to Alves, even an outstretched Nano can't stop the ball getting through. Dani Alves waste the time behind the Levante defence though and his cross is well cleared.
Neat interchange from Abidal and Busquets, getting the Frenchman out of a tight coner.
Barca played it brilliantly once again, Iniesta managing to play a delicate through ball to Bojan. Marginal offside decision given against the youngster there.
Here come Levante but Sergio Busquets comes across well to prevent the attack from ever becoming dangerous.
OOOO! The head of Del Horno just prevents Bojan from being one-on-one there. It was another inside diagonal beaut from Xavi, but it just didn't have enough on it this time.
Over hit for Dani Alves from Pedro. Chance goes for Barcelona again and Alves is begining to show his frustration at not breaking down the travelling side here.
Freekick, wide right, Xavi swings it, but Levante manage to clear the ball. But it only goes as far as the imaginary "last-third" line which Barca take to playing along again.
Levante look to attack once more, and Valdes has to leap to stop a dangerous cross from Xisco. Levante have grown in confidence, but you still can't see any team but Barcelona grabbing that 1st goal.
Mayhem in the Levante area again. Iniesta does well again, Pedro the man this time that is played in and pulls the ball back to the danger zone. Comical defending ensues as Robuste just swings a boot at it, lucky for him Reina prevents the OG, then Bojan is unable to convert from eight yards after brave defending.
Massive chance for Bojan!!!! The Barcelona striker manges to find a route through the numerous Levante defenders thanks to fantastic ball through from Iniesta and is one-on-on with Reina. The 'keeper stays talls and manages to claw away the bouncing ball and the angle vanishes for Bojan thanks to Nano who cleared it off the line.
In regards to the Levante charge, Luis Garcia was calling for a penalty. Xavi Torres was clipped by Maxwell but no enough to be awarded a penalty in my eyes. Ref got that one right.
Freekick, to the left of centre for Barcelona from about 25 yards., Xavi, captain. to be the man to take, or Villa....
Xavi steps over the ball, leaving it for Villa to strike. His freekick whistles past the post and harmlessly wide.
Nearly undone again. Barcelona, defensively look a shambles at this moment. Parrado, that man again, controls a long ball forward, and with his touch finds an onrushing Xavi Torres who bursts into the penalty box, but when he is about to the cross the ball into Larrea the Barca defense manage to intercept the cross before it arrives.
Abildal fouls Pallardo in the middle of the pitch, but the resulting freekick is wasted. Levante do though, manage to enjoy a spell of possession.
LEVANTEEE!! So close to taking an underserved lead there. Xisco and Larrea combine in the centre circle, and Larrea is left chasing the ball with Abidal. The Frenchman reaches it first but nevers feel deals with and when Valdes can only pass it straight to Pallardo after the pass back Barcelona are outnumbered in the middle of the area. Luckily for the Catalan club, Xisco is judged to be offside, and his shot was awful. But Levante caused all sorts of problems there on the counter.
Barcelona play it intricatetely once more. Maxwell and Pedro combine on the left, the latter giving a flick onto Maxwell. The Brazilian swings in a great cross but nobody there to attack it.
VILLA! Mighty close from Barcelona's central striker, he finds the ball with his back to goal, manages to turn expertly and unleashes a right-footed strike, that he see's just drag wide of the right-hand post. First sign from Villa though.
Second or third time that one of Xavi, Pedro or Iniesta have the picked the ball up to the left or right, and have look to play a delicate ball onto Bojan's chest. Clever but incredibly difficult to achieve, these guys will continue to try though.
Dani Alves commits a professional fould when he was caught too far up the pitch. Jorda played a decent one-two but as he looked to speed down the left-flank the Brazilian full-back held onto his shirt. Levante had a chance there.
Xavi and Iniesta continue to keep the ball away from the charging Xavi Torres and Juanlu, but eventually the pressure counts and a Barca pass is over hit.
Levante look to break quickly after Reina collects an cross, and Xisco looks to get onto the ball down the middle but the combined efforts of both Abidal and Alves prevents the striker from progressiong.
Iniesta from over 25 yards, so so close from the Spanish Maestro. He sets the ball and whips his right foot around the ball, directing his shot to the top right hand corner of the goal, Reina takes two steps and lets fly with a stunning one handed dive to his left to tip the shot around the post.
A corner for Barca causes some early problems but Levante eventually clear. Iniesta and Maxwell look to work a one-two down the left-hand side but Andrea Iniesta is powered off the ball by the defender.
Pass. Pass. Pass. You know who I am talking about, Barcelona play it around at ease in front of the Levante defence but their first forward pass is well intercepted by Juan Garcia.
And we are under way, Barca in their Red and Blue kit, facing Levante in black, with the wide white stripe down the middle.
Pep Guardiola is the example of calm and relaxed ahead of kick-off as the two sides respect the moments silence. Silence spreads the ground, indredible respect shown; from both sides.
Here are the teams: Barca XI: Victor Valdes, Dani Alves, Eric Abidal, Aregall, Maxwell, Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Andrea Iniesta, Pedro, Bojan, David Villa. Levenate XI: Manolo Reina, Cerra, Robuste, Nano, Asier Del Horno, Pallardo, Xavi Torres, Juanlu, Jorda, Larrea, Xisco Nadal.
Welcome to 2011! Barcelona get their campaign back under-way against a struggling Levante side, who will be hoping that they will be able to secure La Liga status come Spring time. Let's see what these two have got in store for us today.
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