Sunday, 18 December 2011

Barcelona dominate in Yokohama

Barcelona dominated the Club World Cup final from first to last and handed Santos a lesson into the bargain as they added yet another trophy to the frankly ridiculous collection they're building up in what will no doubt become known as the Guardiola era.

The Catalans dominated from the off and it proved something of a surprise that it took a full quarter of an hour before they took the lead. They did with a quite outstanding goal; Xavi with a sublime touch and Lionel Messi with a delightful, cheeky, impish, just plain sexy chip over the stranded Cabral. Xavi turned finisher a few moments later as the Blaugrana carved open their South American rivals, Dani Alves prominent on the right. There was so much space on the flanks, the ball came in from the right and Xavi was on the edge of the box to sweep it home.

A goalmouth scramble - Barca can even make those look amazing - saw the third goal come on the stroke of half time. A wonderful back-heel from Messi played in Alves down the right and the ball found it's way, via half a dozen other feet, to Cesc Fabregas, unmarked on the back stick, and he passed it across goal and inside the far post. Santos trudged off the field, heads on chests, already a beaten side.

The second half started as the first ended with Fabregas starting the move and the eventual shot grazing the outside of the post via Cabral's fingertips. Andres Iniesta was almost a peripheral figure in the first half, but he too went close after a stereotypical passage of intricate passing, but aside from that, Barcelona were content to keep the ball away from Santos and preserve the lead they'd built. The third goal had killed the game.

A fourth eventually arrived with eight minutes to go, Alves playing Messi in whose initial control was poor, but it served a purpose in drawing Cabral out of his goal allowing the little Argentine to take the ball round him and pass it into the net.

This was as comprehensive a win as it's possible to see. Barca, with a staggering 72% of possession, starved Santos. They were clinical in the first half, pragmatic in the second. Xavi's control and pass for the opener was pure porn and Santos were a beaten side from there on in. It's difficult to be too critical of the Brazilians: they were just beaten by a far superior side.

Earlier in the day, Asian champions Al Sadd won the third-place play-off against Kashiwa Reysol on penalties after a dismal 0-0 draw.

No comments: