Article by Audrey Nolan
Barcelona is getting closer and closer to the La Liga title. The team won against Osasuna 2-0 on Wednesday at home and is now three points ahead of Real Madrid, with 71 points over Madrid’s 68. The two vie for the top spot in the first division of the most important title in Spanish soccer.
After a weak start this season, Barcelona now seems to have found its way. The team has been unbeatable in the last three games, leaving Valencia, Stuttgart, and Real Zaragoza aside to prove itself the favorite for the Champions League and La Liga BBVA. Barca scored a total of 11 points in those three games alone.
The game against Osasuna, however, seemed likely to end on a tie, with Barcelona’s goals coming late in the game. The match was close, with both teams having opportunities during the game but being unable to capitalize. Lionel Messi, who scored 10 of Barcelona’s previous 11 goals, was unable to score against Osasuna. In fact, it seemed likely that coach Pep Guardiola would allow the Argentine to rest, as the last games have been very intense for him, but he played in the end.
But Messi made little contribution in this game, especially with Osasuna in great shape and putting up a great offensive and defensive fight throughout the game.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic had the first chance of the night, taking a pass from Messi, but Osasuna goalkeeper Ricardo Lopez stopped the Swede’s shot.
From that moment on, the Catalans struggled to find their usual game style. Osasuna took advantage of their weakness, creating clear opportunities to score and severely testing Barcelona’s defense, catching the players by surprise twice.
Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes had to save a clear shot from Krisztian Vadocz as he moved, unmarked, into Barcelona’s area. Later Masoul Soleimani crossed from inside the area, unmarked again, and Carles Puyol had to intercept him to stop the goal.
After struggling to take control of the game, Barcelona finally had an opportunity at minute 30 with Ibrahimovic again. The Swede made a strong shot, but the ball smashed into the bar.
Osasuna’s defense stuck closely to Messi throughout the first half, making the Argentine a non-presence on the field and putting Barca in a difficult situation at home.
After the halftime break, however, Barcelona improved; Messi was able to take the lead again, sending a header just over the bar.
The Catalans were finally able to break Osasuna’s pressure and, at minute 72, Ibrahimovic received a pass that Pedro had combined with Andres Iniesta; he then sent a shot from close range for the first goal of the game, bringing relief to the concerned fans at Camp Nou.
The second goal came at minute 88, when Bojan took a pass from Iniesta to complete the play. The goal was the last of the game, and the match ended with a final score of 2-0 in favor of the home team.
For the Barcelona players, every game is important.
“We have to make sure we get three points each game,” said Barcelona midfielder Iniesta. “We have to win whichever way we can because right next to us is a team that is playing very well.”
Madrid will face Getafe on Thursday; the game decides the top spot in La Liga.
About the Author
Audrey Nolan has been a prominent writer on daily Spanish League Soccer; sports news and the sportsbetting industry for many exceptional sport web sites. You may reprint this article in its full content, please note no modifications to it are accepted.