Lionel Messi Shines as Barcelona Remain Undefeated in 3-1 Victory Against Malaga

Tre' Atkinson@@TreAtkinsonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2013

With Tito Vilanova’s return to the bench and a rested lineup, Barcelona defeated Malaga 3-1 to continue their undefeated run in La Liga play. After playing each team once in league play, Barcelona is the first club in history to be undefeated at the midway point.

Entering the game, Malaga boasted the best defense in La Liga, while Barcelona could claim the strongest attack in Spain. The encounter did not disappoint as fans expected huge excitement at La Rosaleda.

First Half

The home side did not surprise anyone when Malaga started the game putting intense pressure on Barcelona.

La Blaugrana had a bit of trouble getting chances on goal in the first minutes of the game, while Malaga continued to test the Barcelona defense.

Barcelona got the first real chance of the game when Messi found himself played through with just the keeper to beat. Yet an incredible defensive display from Malaga stopped the Argentine from scoring.

Things would eventually settle down for both teams, as settled as could be in this huge encounter.

Chances were few and far between for both clubs who were having an all-out war in the middle of the pitch. The battle of Sergio Busquets and Isco dominated the night.

Barcelona slowly began to take control of the game, though Malaga looked dangerous with the ball.

It would be none other but Lionel Messi who opened the scoring in the 27th minute. A weak pass back to the keeper by Camacho was intercepted by the Argentine, who calmly beat the keeper before slotting into an empty goal.

After the Catalans took the lead, Barcelona settled into more control of the game. The score should have been doubled, but an incorrect call from the linesman cost La Blaugrana on the eve of halftime.

A free kick found an open Xavi who slotted to an unmarked Lionel Messi. Offside was called on Messi from the free kick; however, the pass had been made to Xavi, who was clearly onside.

Both teams would enter halftime proud of the performances displayed. For Malaga, the first half was a physical one that tested Barcelona. Yet the class of La Blaugrana clearly had the upper hand.

Second Half

With history at stake Barcelona came out in the second half in a fearsome attack. A back heel to Andres Iniesta after just one minute of play should have led to a goal, but it was again the linesman with an incorrect call.

La Blaugrana would not be denied in their attempt for a second goal. The 50th minute brought fans a treat as Messi found a streaking Cesc Fábregas, who beat the keeper with a tremendous finish.

With the score then at 2-0 in Barcelona’s favor, La Blaugrana turned up the pressure.

Barcelona’s onslaught continued as Malaga began to struggle to contain the Catalan attackers. Andres Iniesta weaved his magic in the midfield, which constantly led to attacks as Barcelona could have scored two more goals in 15 minutes.

Malaga then began to cause problems for Barcelona. However, the Catalan defense stalled every attack for Malaga as the goal never seemed to come to fruition.

The most amazing goal of the night occurred late as Thiago played a one-two with Messi before firing from outside the box to beat the keeper. The goal showed fans the immense attacking talent that young Thiago possesses.

After the third goal it was clear that the game was over. Malaga reverted to defending as Barcelona was clearly determined to finish out the game with possessing the ball.

Yet Malaga would not be denied as they looked for a consolation goal. A free kick at the end of the game from Buonanotte was beautifully sent over the wall and past Victor Valdes. As beautiful as the strike was, it was certainly too late for Malaga.

Barcelona’s victory keeps the undefeated season alive after exactly one half of the season. La Blaugrana remain 11 points above Atletico Madrid, and are now an incredible 18 points above rivals Real Madrid.

All signs point to a possible treble for Barcelona. However, this win shows that the Catalans may even finish unbeaten in La Liga.

Talking Points

Dani Alves put in his best performance of the season. His attack was integral for Barcelona in beating Monreal on the right flank. But the defense of Alves was also very impressive on the night.

Sergio Busquets also had an extremely impressive game. The lanky Catalan midfielder had a daunting task of holding the play of Isco. The Malaga star had a very quiet night thanks to Busquets, the Catalan was certainly the X-factor for La Blaugrana.

Who else could be the player of the game other than Lionel Messi. The Barcelona star absolutely ran the attack for La Blaugrana by scoring a goal and assisting on the other two. His unbelievable form continues as Barcelona looks unbeatable at this point.

What are your thoughts on Barcelona’s victory at La Rosaleda? Can La Blaugrana finish undefeated in La Liga? Don’t forget to leave your thoughts and comments below.


Tre’ Atkinson, The Catalan Blood of Bleacher Report. 

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