The Camp Nou giants take advantage of Real Madrid's slip up to open up a gap at the top of the table...Barcelona strolled four points clear at the top of La Liga at the culmination of the first half of the season after a comfortable 4-1 victory over Malaga at the Camp Nou on Sunday evening.
The Blaugrana were aware that Los Blancos’ slip-up versus Almeria meant that they had already been crowned winter champions, but they wasted no time in taking full advantage, and goals from David Villa (2), Andres Iniesta and Pedro meant that Pep Guardiola’s side build themselves a lead at the top of the table.
From the very first minute of this match, Barca were completely dominant, and it only took until the seventh for the Boquerones’ resolve to shatter. David Villa’s run across the pitch picked out Dani Alves, and his pass to the edge of the area was struck first time by Iniesta, which crashed in off the post.
Guardiola’s side did not let up and in spells of the first half they were simply untouchable. Xavi clattered a shot against the crossbar before David Villa got himself involved in the goalscoring exploits.
Lionel Messi slipped a glorious pass perfectly into his run, and El Guaje took a touch to control before slipping the ball through the legs of the advancing Asenjo.
On 35 miinutes, the match was over as a contest. Once again Messi was the architect, taking four defenders out of play to find Iniesta, and when his effort was blocked at close range, Pedro was on hand to tidy up and roll the ball into the net.
In the second period, however, the Spanish champions went for long spells in auto-pilot, not truly searching for another goal, inviting Malaga to attempt to fight their way back into the contest.
To their credit, Manuel Pellegrini’s side were able to find a consolation, and a spectacular one at that. A foul from Sergio Busquets on the edge of the area allowed Duda a set-piece that he duly swerved into the corner, giving Victor Valdes absolutely no chance.
That strike merely enraged Barcelona, and their advantage was dutifully restored minutes later, when David Villa sprinted towards Asenjo, then casually walked round him and slid the ball into the empty net.
Malaga will have considered this match too early for their abundance of new signings to gel, while Pep Guardiola will be content with another acceptable night’s work as his team position themselves as favourites to clinch their third consecutive La Liga title.