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October 25, 2011
• Estadio Nuevo Los Cármenes, Granada
Referee: César Muñiz Fernández
• Attendance: 22500
FULL-TIME! Barcelona hold on to record a tight 1-0 away win courtesy of Xavi's brilliant free-kick against Granada, who finished the game with nine-men. Barcelona return to the top of the league, for tonight at least while Granada remain in the bottom bottom. That's it from me, Luke Matthews tonight. Be sure to check out all the other midweek La Liga action on Goal.com. Buenos Noches!
90' + 2'
Yellow/Red Dani Benítez
90' + 2'
BENITEZ IS DISMISSED FOR KICKING THE BALL AWAY, PICKING UP A SECOND YELLOW!
90' + 1'
Alves plays the ball to Villa unmarked in the box yet the former Valencia striker thrashes at it a little as the ball heads over the bar. We're into the first of three added minutes.
Yellow Card Seydou Keita
Keita is the next man to pick up a yellow card for a late tackle on Mainz. The Malian midfielder is the ninth player to pick up a yellow tonight.
Yellow Card Allan Nyom
This time it's Mollo's turn to cross the ball into the box yet Geijo can't get his head to it. Despite the home team's improved finish to this game, Barcelona have enjoyed 72% of possession tonight - amazing for an away team.
Granada have committed men forward as Benitez launches a decent-looking ball into the box. However, Maxwell does well to get his head to the ball. Nervy end to this game for the away team.
Messi attempts an effort from 25 yards out yet his shot deflects off Abel and goes out for corner. Xavi is replaced by Keita as Barca look to shore up the defensive side of their game.
We're currently camped out in the Granada final-third yet there really haven't been that many opportunities for Guardiola's side in this second half to double their lead against their ten-men opposition.
Lots of messy challenges still flying in all over the places as Mollo replaces F.Rico. The home team look like they're going to really go for it in the final 10 minutes.
Andrés Iniesta Luján
If anyone is going to score a second in this game, it will surely be Barcelona. However, the away team were given a fright when Geijo runs through on goal, only for an offside to spare their blushes.
Iniesta replaces Fabregas as the away team continue in their hope of wrapping up all three points. Remember, Real Madrid and Levante do not play until tomorrow night so a win for Guardiola's side here would lift them to top spot in La Liga.
SMART SAVE BY ROBERTO! Xavi plays in Cuenca yet the youngster is unable to beat Roberto who rushes out of his goal to block the winger's effort.
Good move from Barcelona as Messi slides the ball out wide to Fabregas who plays it alond the six-yard line. However, Villa is unable to get to the ball as it heads out for a goal-kick.
Yellow Card Cuenca
Still 1-0 to Barcelona here as we head towards the final 20 minutes. Not much happening at the moment in terms of clear opportunities with both sides defending well.
Villa is deemed to be in an offside position as Messi threatens to waltz into the Granada box. Harsh decision according to the replays.
Plenty of niggly challenges in the last few minutes which has certainly helped to disrupt the away team's passing game. Surely Barca will add a second, or will they?
Yellow Card Dani Benítez
Yellow Card Busquets
Barcelona will fancy their chances of all three points, especially with Granada down to ten-men. However, at 1-0, it's still all to play for here in Andalusia.
WHAT A CLEARANCE BY MAINZ! Messi thinks he has doubled Barca's lead when he dabs the ball over the on-rushing Roberto yet Mainz somehow manages a lunge to clear the ball off the line. Phenomenal stuff by the vice-captain.
Pedro has been substituted after picking up that injury with Villa on in his place. The good news for Barcelona is that Sanchez is due to return to training tomorrow.
Yellow/Red Jaime Romero
In the build up the sending-off, Pedro went down with a twisted ankle as a stretcher takes him to the sideline. Surely the wideman will not take any furrther role in this game.
RED CARD FOR GRANADA! JAIME SEES RED! The attacking midfielder earns a second yellow card for raising his foot in the challenge, with Maxwell earning a kick to the face.
Barcelona break with pace yet Siqueira does brilliantly to hold up Pedro on the wing before the winger eventually plays the ball back in-field with momentum lost. Despite being a goal down, Granada look solid at the back. Saying that, their Catalan opposition have not conceded in six games in all competitions.
Mainz fails to clear the danger with a header as Fabregas slaps a volley towards goal from the edge of the box. However, the midfielder's effort is straight down the throat of Roberto who claims the ball with ease.
Xavi attempts to squeeze a pass into the path of Messi yet the Argentine is unable to retrieve the ball. Barca have perhaps been a little guilty of trying to be too intricate tonight. the away team could do with using a bit more width.
Barcelona get the second-half back underway here at Los Carmenes. No changes at the break for either side. The next goal in this game is massive!
The second half is close and a few of you have spoken to us on Twitter. Simon Says is of the opinion that Barca could win 3 or 4 nil tonight while Terry Budu Abban says that Messi is a player whose mistakes are easily forgotten. Terry also believes the Argentine is a player who hates being second best and will prove that in the second half. Keep sending your views and thoughts to @LukasMaf on Twitter.
HALF-TIME! Barcelona take a 1-0 lead into the interval courtesy of Xavi's wonderful free-kick, the first time the team have scored directly from a set-piece since Messi did so back in January against Deportivo. The Catalans are good value for their lead yet it has to be said, they haven't been on top form. Remember to join us in 15 minutes for the second-half. Can Guardiola's men add to their lead and ensure they return to the top of La Liga.
Barcelona have enjoyed 77 per cent of possession in the first-half compared to Granada's 23%. No surprise to see Guardiola's men dominate the ball in this game as they look to take a lead into the break.
Messi and Fabregas play an intricate one-two yet the former Arsenal midfielder is closed down well by the Granada defence who shield the ball out for a goal-kick.
It is vital for Gonzalez' team that they do not concede another before the half-time whistle. They have another free-kick 40 yards from goal as Alves brings down Benitez.
Granada have responded fairly well to going a goal down and are looking more ambitious now as they commit men forward. No real chances on goal for the home team yet though.
Yellow Card Fran Rico
Yellow Card Jaime Romero
Stunning goal by Xavi to give Barcelona an important lift. How will the home team respond to going a goal down? Surely Granada will have to alter their game plan a little.
1-0 BARCELONA! SENSATIONAL STRIKE FROM XAVI! The captain tries his luck with a free-kick from 30 yards out, curls it over the wall and into the corner with Roberto helpless. Simply brilliant.
Barcelona have not been at their best so far tonight and despite dominating play, we head into the final 14 minutes of the first-half all square.
After nothing comes directly from a corner, Messi lays the ball to Abidal on the left side of the box who sees his powerful effort well parried by Roberto out of play for another corner.
Yellow Card Daniel Alves
Alves is the second man on the pitch to see a yellow card as he appears to stand on Benitez' ankle. The former Mallorca winger certainly made the most of the challenge, rolling around on the floor for the best part of 30 seconds.
All Barcelona still but credit must be given to Fabri Gonzalez' men so far who have been well organised especially at the back. The first goal in this game is crucial.
ANOTHER CHANCE FOR BARCELONA! After a slick move, Alves chips the ball into the box yet an unmarked Pedro is unable to find the target with his header from 12 yards out. Poor miss.
GOOD SAVE BY ROBERTO! Xavi attempts an effort from 30 yards out yet the keeper is able to parry the swerving shot to safety.
Granada win a corner as the home side hit Barca on the counter-attack. Benitez' run is finally ended by Alves who puts the ball out of play. However, the corner is poor and goes straight out of play for a Barcelona goal-kick.
A goal appears to be on the cards for the away team at the moment which would be bad news for Granada. The newly-promoted side have only scored two goals so far this season, the lowest scorers in the league.
GREAT BALL BY CUENCA! The youngster smashes a wonderful ball across the six-yard line yet no Barca player is there as Messi is unable to successfully cross the ball after he retains it. 30 seconds later Cuenca curls an effort wide from the edge of the box.
MESSI COMES CLOSE! The Argentine wiggles past F.Rico on the edge of the box before curling an effort goalwards. Roberto is at full stretch as the ball narrowly misses the target. That really was very close from Messi who is showing no signs of letting his penalty miss on Saturday affect his game.
Foul on Mikel just inside the Barca box by Pedro. Can the home team make the most of this and put the ball into the danger zone?
Barcelona are still seeing all of the ball, as expected in the early stages. Cuenca, who is making his full debut tonight has had a few touches of the ball so far and looks a promising player.
Quiet start from the home team who were playing in the Spanish third tier only two seasons ago. They currently have every player back in their own half as they look to do what Sevilla did against Barcelona at the weekend.
Xavi plays another brilliant through ball to Messi who is one-on-one with Roberto yet the attacker is ruled offside. Close decision that as Barcelona are already beginning to send out warning signs.
Xavi chips a delightful ball over the top of the Granada backline yet Messi is unable to bring the ball down smoothly as the home team manage to clear the danger.
Yellow Card Uche
Guardiola's men are currently seeing more of possession as they calmly stroke the ball around the pitch from back to front. Mascherano is down injured as Uche catches him late, earning himself a booking in the process.
We're underway here in Andalusia as the away side kick-off. Granada are in red and white horizontal striped shirts with blue shorts while Barcelona wear their change kit of all black.
Messi's miss against Sevilla at the weekend was his sixth penalty failure from 22, a poor record for the brilliant Argentine's usual standards. If the Catalans win a spot-kick tonight, will their No.10 step up to take it? Remember guys, tweet me your opinions and thoughts on the game on Twitter @LukasMaf.
With Getafe and Real Madrid not in action until tomorrow evening, Barcelona can leapfrog both sides tonight with a win against Granada to go back to the top of the table. Granada on the other hand have slipped into the relegation zone yet will surely take anything from this game tonight.
Barcelona make five changes from the team who dropped points at the weekend against Sevilla. Cuenca comes in to make his full debut for Villa while Fabregas replaces Thiago in the middle. Pedro starts ahead of Iniesta while Busquets returns to the midfield in place of Keita who drops to the bench. Finally, Maxwell makes a rare start at left-back in place of compatriot, Adriano.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Alves, Mascherano, Abidal, Maxwell; Busquets, Xavi, Fabregas; Pedro, Messi, Cuenca
Granada (4-2-3-1): Roberto; Nyom, Inigo Lopez, Mainz, Siqueira; Mikel, F.Rico; Abel, Jaime, Benitez; Uche
Here come the teams...
Hello and welcome to Goal.com's coverage of Granada against Barcelona from Los Carmenes. I'm Luke Matthews and i'll be guiding you through tonights action. Pep Guardiola's men will be keen to banish the memory of Saturday's 0-0 draw versus Sevilla at Camp Nou, especially a certain Lionel Messi who was guilty of missing an injury-time penalty. How will the champions respond tonight?
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