FCB travelled down the road from their Vallecas home this week to face the men from Cervezas Mahou who were looking for their first win of the Clausura campaign. The lineup on a day where several first-team regulars were unavailable was Jorge in goal, Harry, Omar, Rama and Jose at the back, Fabian and Cian at the base of midfield, Calum in front of them with Keith (Ed) and Ricky on the wings and Luigi up front.
From the kick off the trademark intensity was there for FCB but the quality and composure we’ve come to expect certainly was not. This was summed up after 15 minutes when some complacent work on the ball at the back lead to Mahou taking the lead when Omar’s ill-advised back-heel was short of its intended target and the opposition striker helped himself to the opening goal despite Jorge almost tipping the shot around the post.
The boys in red were struggling to string passes together and get a foothold in the game in windy and unpleasant conditions with balls often running out of play and giving the opposition defence the chance to reset. They were however level ten minutes after the opener as a corner found its way to Omar at the back post who atoned for his earlier mistake by smashing the ball past the keeper for parity. The men of Albion then had a golden opportunity to go in front during a period of dominance as a corner was handled in the area by a Mahou defender and a penalty awarded by the ref. After Calum’s thunderbolt rocket launch last week, this week saw Luigi step up only to do something similar as he blasted his penalty high over the bar and stuck his head in his hands.
After some choice four-letter words from the gaffer at the half, the gist of which being to get on the ball and try and play some football, the lads returned to the pitch to try and force the issue against opposition that have not caused too many problems for the FCB defence in recent seasons. The fluidity of play, however, was not forthcoming for the lads and all too often balls were overhit and first touches lead to tackles. As the second half wore on, the game broke up and there were chances created for the likes of Ed – who scuffed one wide and saw another poked off his toe by a covering defender having gone past the keeper- and substitute Carlos on for Jose -who got on the end of a cross only to see his effort smothered by the keeper.
The scoreline then went from poor to unacceptable for FCB as a rare Mahou corner and towering header consigned the previous table toppers to defeat and a blue Saturday. This despite the entrance of Sam in the closing stages, the re-assigning of Omar to a striker’s berth and a decent penalty shout being ignored after a free kick had pinged around in the area.
2-1 the final score. A very disappointing result for the boys and one which they will be looking to put right in training this week.
Quote of the match: Rami (geeing his star man Luigi up before the match) “You know Messi? That’s what you have to do.”
Miss of the match: (After being told to play like Messi): Luigi’s penalty.