Barcelona brags about having one of the best youth systems in the world. Today was one of the days where they truly did not want to hear about it. In the mid-90’s a kid named Iván de La Peña came up and went up the ranks quickly. He got to the big team and was an immediate impact player. He would leave, but eventually come back for another stint with barca. Then in 2002, he made the decision that would change his career forever- he signed with Espanyol.
Seven years later, he was the man that brought the steady march of the Blaugrana ballet to a screeching halt. Although he was not in his best shape physically, coach Mauricio Pochettino knew that they needed El Pelat’s presence on a pitch where Los Pericos had not experienced victory in over 27 years. This is why the blaugrana’s 2-1 loss was probably the best thing to have happened to them this season. As much as josep guardiola wanted to sell me a bill of goods about how important this game was, the team attitude was far from it. Let’s be honest… Barca got caught looking ahead, and Espanyol played them perfectly. So for Barca fans that want to cry about it, suck it up and take your medicine!
Josep guardiola lost the pulse of the game and he seemed uncharacteristically rattled. The team reflected their coach’s image and turned the pitch into a wrestling mat. started to make decisions that appeared quite strange. Eric Abidal’s Freak groin injury was a foreshadowing of the night. The Logical explanation to replace abidal would have been to put in Sylvinho at right back. The few times when he was called up for services in recent weeks, he responded.
Instead guardiola decided for Carles Puyol- a tired and still-recovering from injury carles puyol. the Nou Camp held their collective breath every time the barca captain fell to the ground. And him not playing at in his natural position left the backline exposed on that flank. That was where Iván de la Peña showed up in Los Pericos’ first goal. Nené, who gave Barca fits all night, came down Barca’s right and Held the ball for a long time. Many thought that the Espanyol attack was extinguished. Nené had no shot on goal, but he did have a cross to the backpost where he found El Pelat wide open. In a way it was a blessing in disguise for Barca. Ferreiro delgado gave Espanyol advantage on a foul at midfield. If he were to stop play, he would have been forced to send off Sergi Busquets.
Victor, oh Victor
saturday night might have been a tough night for victor valdés. Barcelona outshot their catalan rivals 18-2. The bad news was that both of those espanyol shot hit the back of the net. The second goal must have been the one that might lead a goalkeeper to a sleepless night. His direct pass to de la Peña was masterfully chipped over the barca keeper’s head into the back of the net for the eventual game-winner.
Taking both Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto’o out for sergi busquets (who already had a yellow card coming in) and Eidur gudjohnsen respectively Allowed ESpanyol to tee off on Lionel Messi. Let’s be honest, When Gudjohnsen came in, it seemed like Barca were packing it in and were already looking at the Champions League. The tactical argument seemed to be that Guardiola wanted to establish an attacking trident of busquets-messi-gudjohnsen.
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What’s up with Xavi and Messi bumping both Dani Alves and Rafa Márquez from the free kicks? Known as two of the best on the team (and in the world) on set pieces, Barca handcuffed themselves by taking the ball under their feet. Messi and Xavi both came close, but they never posed a threat on Carlos Kameni’s goal. In the end, this game reflected the adage that Necessity always trumps history. On the pitch it was a confrontation between need of this year’s espanyol and the confusion and lack of direction of last year’s barca.
Barca’s lone goal of the evening came off a set piece a toure Yaya rifled in a rebound, but it seemed like it was too late by then. the Blaugrana shot incessantly, but it wasn’t enough to bother Kameni in goal and a 27-year drought ended for Los Pericos.
So Barcelona can talk about the referee screwing them or bad calls not going their way, but that is the nature of the beast. If there is something that the blaugrana needed, it was this loss. YOu aren’t going to hear this in the catalan papers. I am not trying to say that Barcelona should now lose to Real madrid, but their hunger should be peaked that much more.
For Espanyol, it’s a win- and then some. Yes, they are in 19th place. It might have seemed like it was a tiny step, but it was a gigantic leap. Espanyol seem confident and ready to battle all comers. The problem is that this will mean nothing if they lose to Real Madrid Next weekend. They would Fall behind Osasuna and Mallorca by at least four points to get out the relegation zone and maybe even more. More importantly, Mauricio Pochettino has officially won over the dressing room.