Sometimes, one goal isn’t enough from Lionel Messi, especially when the Barcelona machine has a few troubles getting its game going. A team they easily beat in the league, away, during the weekend, suddenly made it a much more difficult day, with 10 men, in the Copa Del Rey, at the Camp Nou.
What didn’t work for Barcelona, finishing the first leg at home in a 2-2 draw, making their visit to the La Rosaleda a bit more complicated than they wished for? Simple mistakes, by more than one player. There was Jose Manuel Pinto at goal, in my opinion the responsible person for Malaga’s first goal – you don’t pass to player close to goal with his back turned away from the pitch when you see the pressure coming. Didn’t exactly ooze confidence on to the defenders after that.
And there’s Alexis Sanchez, a shade of himself from last season. Missed a couple of easy chances, and his confidence was never the same. Tito Vilanova knows what he’s doing, trying to bring the Chilean back to form, feeling he’s going to need him further down the road. But Alexis can’t beat playes on the dribble, and despite all of his effort and hard work on the defensive side, his offensive contribution this season (3 goals in 23 matches) is a huge disappointment.
Lionel Messi himself has had better days. His goal might have been a foul on the Malaga defender, but it seemed that Camacho’s equalizer for Malaga was also an infringement, fouling Adriano on his way to score, so that is pretty much wrongs cancelling each other out. Messi’s goal came when he broke to the wing. Barca’s game in a nutshell, for most of the second half, was to centralized, especially after Cesc Fabregas entered the match.
Malaga were all over Lionel Messi, while Andres Iniesta was too busy doing Thiago’s job, as the youngster, who’s been getting a lot of playing time recently, didn’t really shake off his early mistake that helped Malaga score the opening goal. Tello was dangerous on the wing, but after he was substituted there was no width in Barcelona’s game. Maybe Messi, who always looks unstoppable coming off the right when he does change his positioning a bit, should have wondered off from the middle a bit more, finding safe for himself and opening up the traffic jam in the middle.
At the end of the day, as footballers love to say, there’s really nothing too dramatic about this draw. For a team that has dropped only two league points this season, any match that isn’t a win, in any competition, looks like a huge surprise, which it is, but it’s not the end of the world or a reason to get too worried. Barcelona are still huge favorites in the second leg, in which Vilanova will probably try a little less tweaking with the lineups and squad, that probably cost Barcelona sealing the deal in the first leg. Not everything this season has to be easy.