Barça turns defeats into victories

PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
FC Barcelona has made a great start to the league season with two wins away to Osasuna and Getafe, stadiums where the team lost last year

And a win away to Getafe is a lucky omen; a victory there has always been followed by Barça taking the league title

Messi has already broken his own goal scoring record for a calendar year with 61 goals so far in 2012

Here are some of the positive facts thrown up by Barça’s 1-4 victory over Getafe:

Barça has already won in both of the stadiums where the team lost last year (1-2 in Pamplona and 1-4 in Getafe). Last season Barça lost these matches 3-2 and 1-0, respectively.

•  So Barça has already come out on top in two of the three league matches lost last season. The third was the game against Real Madrid in the Camp Nou. Barça can make it three out of three when the two sides meet on 7th October.

•  Barça has always gone on to lift the league title after winning away to Getafe.

•  The starting line-up in the Coliseum Alfonso Perez featured no fewer than 10 players brought up through the Club’s youth academy. The odd-man-out was Adriano.

•  The final score of 1-4 was a fair reflection of the opportunities enjoyed by both sides. Getafe had 6 shots compared to Barça’s 15.

•  Barça’s clear dominance of the game is also reflected in the stats for possession (67%) and passes completed (248 for Getafe against 619 for Barça).

•  With Messi starting the match on the subs bench, Valdes is now the only player in the squad to have played every minute of every match so far.

•  Piqué moves ahead of Messi into second place in the same ranking of minutes played with 492 compared to Messi’s 486.

•  As of 16th September Messi has already surpassed his personal best of 60 goals in a calendar year, which he established in 2011. His provisional tally for 2012 now stands at 61.

•  Montoya and Thiago made their first appearances of the season in the starting line-up. For Thiago it was also his first game after recovering from injury.

•  On Saturday, Adriano played his 200th game in the Spanish league. And just as he did against Valencia before the international break, he scored the opening goal of the match, his sixth in 75 games for Barça.

Spartak Moscow and Granada CF to visit the Camp Nou this week

Leo Messi and Tito Vilanova / PHOTO: ARXIU FCB
After a week marked by the absence of Barça’s international players, Tito Vilanova’s men look ahead to a week that’s marked by the team’s Champions League debut and the Liga match against Granada

After the international break and the match away to Getafe, the Azulgranas look forward to this week where they will  make their debut in the Champions League and play in La Liga at home against Granada. Tito Vilanova’s men, who have Monday off, will train five times this week.

Before for match against Spartak Moscow, the Azulgranas will train at the Camp Nou (on Tuesday and Wednesday). After the match against Spartak, the team will return to training at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper.

Monday, September 17

Day off

Tuesday, September 18

18.00 training session at the Camp Nou

Wednesday, September 19

12.00 training session at the Camp Nou

20.45 FC Barcelona – Spartak Moscow

Thursday, September 20

11.00 training session at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper

Friday, September 21

11.00 training session at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper

Saturday, September 22

12.30 training session at the Camp Nou

22.00 FC Barcelona – Granada CF

Sunday, September 23

Day off

Getafe – FCB: FC Barcelona's standout players

Cesc and Thiago / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
A couple of Azulgranas stepped up for the injured Iniesta, Alexis and Jordi Alba and led Barça to its fourth consecutive victory in La Liga

Tito Vilanova / Jorge Roura

No Iniesta, no Jordi Alba, no Alexis, no Dani Alves, no Messi, no Mascherano (though the two Argentinians played a portion of the second half). The first three were unavailable and the latter three only trained twice with the team before this weekend’s Liga match. Games after international breaks have always proved complicated for FC Barcelona, and the fact that Barça had to face Getafe at the Coliseum added an extra dose of caution to the players’ psyche.

Tito Vilanova, who wasn’t allowed to manage the team from the bench due to suspension, said after the match that he named “the freshest players” to Barça’s starting line-up, which meant Messi, Dani Alves, and Mascherano didn’t get the nod to play from the get go, and Montoya, Cesc, Thiago, Tello and Puyol did. Vilanova’s plan – set in motion by assistant coach Jorge Roura – worked. Both Adriano and Montoya overwhelmed Getafe’s wide defenders with the assistance of Pedro and Tello; Cesc, Thiago and Xavi – all of whom alternated their runs into the Getafe area –  kept Getafe’s defence in a state of disarray; and the tried and true Piqué-Puyol duo didn’t disappoint at the back. All in all, Tito’s game plan was too much for a Getafe side that defeated Real Madrid just weeks ago.

Xavi Hernández:

Xavi, who completed 93.1% of his 101 attempted passes, organised his fellow midfielders around him like bumpers in a pinball machine as he made sure the ball bounced around the Coliseum’s pitch at a furious pace. In fact, the Catalan was voted man of the match by Barça fans after the game (this may change as voting is still open). With the 1-4 scoreline secured after the 90 minutes of play, Xavi said: “I feel great, fresh. Thiago played a brilliant game, as did Cesc. Busquets gave us that equilibrium from the back … We all played at a high level. It’s hard to do well here, so we should be proud of how we played.”

Thiago Alcántara:

It was good to see Thiago back on the pitch after months of recovering from an injury that kept him away from the London Olympic Games and the start of Barça’s season. The youngster was the perfect compliment to Xavi’s methodical style of play. Filling in for the injured Iniesta, Thiago added a certain level of depth to Barça’s midfield with incisive runs and crisp one-time passes – 96.8% of which were completed.

Cesc Fàbregas:

It wasn’t an easy international break for Cesc as there were rumblings in the media about the player’s performances with his Club. He was named to the starting line-up by Vilanova and was tasked with playing the ‘false 9’ role for most of the game (until Messi came on in the second half). The Catalan rose to the challenge and played his part beautifully. Adriano opened up the scoring at the Coliseum thanks to a brilliant run from the Catalan and later, in the second half, Cesc’s through ball was brought down by Villa and slotted into the back of Moyá’s goal for Barça’s fourth. Two assists in 90+ minutes. In addition to his two assists, Cesc paired up well with Thiago and Xavi in the first half and settled in perfectly for Thiago when the youngster was subbed off for Messi in the second. The midfielder actively contributed to the team’s dominating display of possession football (67.1%) over Getafe.

Leo Messi:

Six goals in four La Liga games. Messi played a rough-and-tumble World Cup qualifier against Peru on Wednesday, but he only needed 31 minutes to grab two more goals for his personal La Liga goal tally this evening. The Argentine was subbed in for Thiago on 59 minutes and quickly put the game beyond Getafe’s reach by beating Moyá twice in four minutes. The first was from the penalty spot after Pedro was tripped in the area, and the second was scored after a deflected cross from Montoya.

Villa: "It's important to win convincingly"

Villa celebrates his goal against Getafe / PHOTO: MiGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The FC Barcelona players are happy with the team’s victory over Getafe, especially the FC Barcelona forward, who once again scored and noted that he “feels better each day”

FC Barcelona’s forward, David Villa, was very optimistic after this afternoon’s match against Getafe. El Guaje said that “I feel better each day. I need to be patient and keep on working.” Villa also explained his goal celebration: “I’m going to have another child, he’s due in February and I’m very happy that I got to dedicate the goal to him.” The FC Barcelona forward, who scored Barça’s fourth goal, noted that “what every player likes to do is to feel good on the pitch and the best feeling always comes when you score. I’m happy that I was able to contribute to the team’s victory.”

“It’s a statistic, it’s always hard to play here and win; winning with authority [at Getafe] is important to us,” said Villa after the match. “We always highlight this match on the calendar as one of the most difficult away games of the season. In addition, last year we dropped points here. Therefore, we’re doubly pleased,” he added. On the possibility of featuring in Barça’s future line-ups, he said: “it depends on the manager, I’m in optimal form. Obviously the other players that play in my position are better prepared because I’ve been on the sidelines for a long time, but I feel good; I’m eager and strong.”

The following are statements made by the players after this afternoon’s match:

Piqué:

“We played a good game, the conditions weren’t the best because we were coming off of playing matches for our respective national teams and we had a couple of players missing due to injury. But the field was in good condition, the pitch was perfect. We dominated the game. It’s awfully cold here if you come later in the year.”

(On Real Madrid) “We’ve only played four games, this isn’t that important [in reference to the point gap between the two sides). We’re feeling good, though. We’ve won four out of four games. We have to continue like this.”

Xavi:

“We played football really well, we dominated from the start. They closed themselves off a the back but we played at a high level and we deserved the win.”

“We played with a lot of intensity and tension, we dominated possession, we didn’t commit silly fouls and we didn’t lose the ball needlessly. We’ve matured, the team played really well today.”

“I personally feel great, fresh. Thiago played a brilliant game, as did Cesc. Busquets, like always, giving us that equilibrium and starting the plays from the back … We all played at a high level and we managed to win the game. It’s hard to play here, so we should be proud of how we played.”

(On Real Madrid) “We have to see how that game ends (Sevilla-Real Madrid), but it would be good (if they didn’t win). It would give us an important advantage and they have to come visit the Camp Nou soon. Let’s see what they do.”

(On the Champions League): “I’m very excited and I’m very eager, we start off at home and we have to win. We’re very motivated, we’ve won all the points in the Liga so far and we want to start off our Champions League campaign with a victory.”

Tito Vilanova: “The most important thing is that we've won 12 out of 12 points”

Tito Vilanova / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The manager is pleased with how his team played at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez and he highlighted the fact that his players have won all the points from the first four Liga matches of the season

“It’s good to know that we lost last season in Pamplona and Getafe, and this year we managed to win”
“I only concern myself with improving the team so we can continue winning”

Tito Vilanova is proud that his players managed to come away with two important victories from “historically complicated” grounds like Pamplona and Getafe. The manager is prudent, however, and noted that “we still have a lot of away games still yet to play.” Vilanova noted that what’s truly important is that FC Barcelona have managed to win “12 out of 12 possible points.”

On this afternoon’s match at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez, the manager said that “we controlled the match from the beginning, that’s important because we had a hard time here last year.” Vilanova went on to add that his players had “enough patience” throughout the 90 minutes of play and that the team “managed to score a good amount of goals.” Vilanova added: “It’s good to know that we lost last season in Pamplona and Getafe, and this year we managed to win.”

Continue winning and improving

Vilanova rubbished the insinuation that he’s gained credit as a manager for leading his team to victory at the always difficult Coliseum: “I don’t think about it; I don’t believe it. We’ve only played four Liga matches. I only concern myself with improving the team so we can continue winning.”

The manager also talked about the player that scored two of Barça’s four goals, Leo Messi: “I talked it over with him. He worked hard throughout the pre-season and he’s played some tough games. He came into tonight’s match after a long trip and a couple of games with his national team. I opted for sending in the freshest players from the start and sending in Messi when the match was more open.”

Lastly, Vilanova praised Thiago, “I know his capacity to read the game, his eagerness and how excited he is to play,” and lauded Xavi and Cesc Fàbregas.