League title beckons (2-0)
Barça took another step towards the league title tonight with a 2-0 win over Osasuna thanks to a goal in each half from Villa and Messi which leaves them 8 points ahead at the top of the table with just 15 left to play for.
Guardiola rested Piqué, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro and Messi ahead of the upcoming European commitments and Villa and Messi – who came on in the second half- scored the goals that brought three more points in the fight to retain their La Liga title and leaves the side eight points ahead of Real Madrid who earlier won 3-6 at Valencia, with just five games to go.
Villa back in the goals
It took Barça a while to get going with all the changes, but even so Villa and Afellay, playing up front alongside Jeffren, had early chances to put them ahead. The game lacked pace though and Guardiola’s team were not linking up with their customary ease, but a quick move between the front three opened up the scoring as Afellay sent Jeffren down the wing and he crossed for Villa to break his mini goal drought and make it 1-0 on 23 minutes.
Valdés keeps Barça ahead
Osasuna are desperate for points though and they didn’t let the goal force them onto the back foot as they continued to harry and hustle their hosts. Sergio, Keita and Thiago were not finding it easy to link up, but Osasuna were not really posing too much threat up front either and the game was getting bogged down in midfield. It was the visitors though, who had the last chance of the half, when Damia forced Valdes into a great stop on the line to keep his team one up at the break.
Despite Iniesta coming on for Jeffren at the break, the game failed to spark after the break, with Barça missing possession and the ability to launch their attackers, whilst Osasuna were lacking in ambition and looked happy to avoid losing by a bigger margin. The boss tried to inject some urgency by bringing on Messi and soon after, Xavi replaced the injured Milito
Messi seals the points
Not surprisingly perhaps, the team improved notably with the world’s top three players - Messi, Iniesta and Xavi- on the pitch, but even so Osasuna’s pressing game was not making it easy. Mendilibar tried one last throw of the dice by bringing on Pandiani to give some weight up front, but at the other end, Messi bagged his 50th goal of the season to seal the points and round off a rather insipid second half. Three points more then, and the league title comes one step closer to the Nou Camp again.