Only 4 goals on an away match while conceding two means Barcelona had, once again, their fair share of problems with their back four. But what are problems when they’re compared with the brilliance of Lionel Messi, who was sharp and lethal as ever, scoring two goals and breaking the goals in a calendar year record set by Pele oh so long ago.
It’s symbolic an Argentinian player would break Pele’s record, at least in some sense, especially with Pele constantly saying that Neymar is better than Messi. Nonsense upon nonsense, until we see Neymar in Europe for a couple of seasons. For now, the only thing between Messi and a worldwide agreement on the world’s best is Cristiano Ronaldo, grabbing a fair share of the votes.
Unlike the Celtic match from midweek, there was nothing physical or tight about the way Mallorca came to play. Completely open and free to move about, Barcelona were up 3-0 before half time. Even when Mallroca do try to park the bus, they just don’t have the right kind of personnel to do it efficiently, and certainly not a good enough of a goalkeeper in the highly overrated Dudu Aouate.
Messi reached 76 goals in 2012. What does that mean? Well, nothing that we didn’t already know. That defenses crumble before his tiny feet, and that he can’t stop scoring. After a few matches without goals, Messi found the net against in the Champions League in a losing effort. Against Mallorca, it didn’t look close to that, even for a second.
Even when Mallorca made it 3-2 in a weird few minutes early in the second half. Barcelona just calmed the match down with some quality possession, with Xavi enjoying a good day thanks to more than just his free kick goal to open up the match. He didn’t feel too much pressure on him while Cesc Fabregas was accurate, and Cristian Tello drew a lot of attention on the left, forcing Mallroca to shift their focus from the middle of the pitch. Tello also went on the scoreboard right before half time.
Alexis Sanchez came on for David Villa in the 66th minute and had one of his better performances in a sad and bad season for him, where he simply can’t seem to find the net or make the right decisions when he’s finally free in the danger zone. This time he set up Messi for a fourth goal that killed all hopes of a comeback with 20 minutes left to play in the match.
David Villa, after seemingly doing everything right in his comeback from injury, has grown stagnant in the last couple of matches. Not seeing enough of the ball and looking rusty once more when he does get it. Maybe he’s stuck on the wing too much, but there’s also the theory that something bad is going on between him and Messi, which will obviously effect Villa’s performance more, finding it harder to get by without a steady supply of passes, some of them from Leo.
In all, just an ordinary La Liga away match for Barcelona, only the opponent didn’t play in a style that troubles Barcelona. Same problems in the defense, even with Gerard Pique back in the lineup. It’s impossible to get it right with a makeshift crew each week and the changing personnel. Maybe now, with Pique healthy, Javier Mascherano’s weaknesses will be stored away for a while. In general, against a rival like Mallorca, soft from top to bottom, it doesn’t really matter.