Barcelon signed off their final La Liga game of the season in fine style, blasting past Manuel Pellegrini’s Malaga 4-1. There was some fantastic skill on show at the Nou Camp, and much of it came from two players whose futures are thought to be less than secure at the club, Cesc Fabregas and David Villa.
It is going to be an emotional evening at the Nou Camp tonight as FC Barcelona play host to Malaga in the final La Liga game of the season. Eric Abidal has not been offered an extension to his playing contract with the club, although he made it clear he wanted to continue to play. He has been offered a position with the coaching staff, but the 33-year old feels he still has something to offer so will seek another club.
Although neither team really had much to play for the derby between FC Barcelona and Espanyol is always fiercely contested. It was given extra spice this week after a Barcelona shirt was hung on a local landmark. The Espanyol players also formed a guard of honour for the champions, while hoping to spoil the party.
Barcelona were not about to let that happen though, and dominated the game throughout. The 2-0 scoreline could have been worse for the home side if David Villa had packed his shooting boots, but in the end it didn’t really matter. He was involved in the build up to the opening goal from Alexis, who showed fantastic close control and finishing. (see highlights below).
By beating Real Betis on Sunday, Barcelona went some way to getting over the Champions League disappointment against Bayern Munich. The win also put them on the brink of clinching the Spanish Primera Liga title for the 22nd time and the fourth time in five years. In fact, Barca could win it this week without playing, if Real Madrid fail to beat Malaga at the Bernabeu tomorrow.
The hype and expectation surrounding the build up to this game was huge, but Barcelona and Malaga did not disappoint, producing a fantastic feast of football. Barcelona’s relentless passing game finally wore down the resistance of Malaga, but the result was in doubt right until the last 10 minutes.
Barcelona now face Real Madrid three times in a month. The first leg of the semi-final will be played next Wednesday at the Bernabeu. The second leg will not be played until the end of February, followed that weekend by the Primera Liga game in Madrid. Madrid will host Barca next week without Casillas, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Coentrao and Di Maria. It is hard enough playing Barca with three of your best defenders missing, but when your keeper is out as well that is a nightmare.
There is no chance of Xavi Hernandez or Carles Puyol doing a Victor Valdes to Barcelona, after the 32-year old midfielder and the 34-year old captain and defender signed an extension to their current contracts that will keep them at the Nou Camp until 2016. Andres Iniesta has already committed his future to the club and they will now turn their attention to the best footballer in the world, Lionel Messi.
Barcelona face a tough task to stay in the Spanish cup against Malaga tomorrow. Having won every league game except for a single draw, Barca were surprised by a tenacious Malaga in the first leg at the Nou Camp last week, which ended in a 1-1 draw. Then a shock defeat by Real Sociedad at the weekend has left Barcelona looking vulnerable for the first time this season.
It appears that Barcelona are going to continue with the practice of giving playing opportunities to many of the fringe players in the Copa Del Rey games. Malaga come to the Bernabeu tonight for the first leg of the quarter finals, and they may also rest a few players, because Manuel Pellegrini has crucial games coming up in the league and Malaga do not have much strength in depth in their squad.
Malaga will feel a little unlucky to have lost 3-1 to Barcelona in the league at the weekend. Until the terrible backpass that let Messi in to score the first goal, they were coping well with Barca, and they will try to play the same way tonight.