Who is going to say it first? David Villa and Barcelona. It should be perfect, but it just isn't........yet. Maybe we'll give him a bit longer. Time for your weekly dose of Spanish football and dairy produce from Tim Hill.
The spotlight was not necessarily on him, but by the second-half fans and viewers alike, were either wincing or taking a sharp intake of breath whenever the ball went near him. He seemed to be playing within a bubble of expectation – this expectation transformed to the sincerest of sympathy as the game wore on.
This week, a lot has been made about David Villa’s clinical edge, or given his latest predicament, lack of. He may have become Spain’s National Team top-scorer ever this week but his progress at Barcelona has been perplexing. The reaction to his lack of goals has been rather quaint from the media and his teammates, with softly-spoken phrases that you would use to talk to an ageing family member whose bladder problems are starting to become more than a small nuisance.
In Barcelona’s game against Valencia this weekend, to again use another absurd analogy, it was like David Villa was a maturing cashier in a bank – his overall work was good, impressive, to be expected – but when it comes to the crunch, finishing, or to follow this increasingly struggling metaphor, ‘cashing out’, he floundered.
In the first-half, the whole Barcelona XI were left with their mouths agape as Valencia controlled the match, caught Barcelona napping and their defence seemed organised and confident in catching David Villa offside. However, this was expected.
Roberto Soldado, a striker who is continuing to surprise after seasons of mediocrity and premature baldness, piped up in the week preceding, saying, "It's the moment to hurt Barcelona. They are suffering at home, we are playing well away and we have to take advantage of these circumstances."
His words held much weight given the first-half, Valencia permanently pounded a hole in the right-side of Barcelona’s defensive line and the opening goal came from a penetrating attack from that side. Valencia exercised their kegels and slipped a ball in between Puyol and Pique for Mathieu to run onto, who crossed it for Pablo Hernandez to slide in.
Sexual double entendres aside for now, los Che should have gone into half-time with two goals to their good name. I can imagine Unai Emery at the break comb in hand quaffing his greasy mop whilst telling his team to keep it up – for they managed to do what others team haven’t, stop Barcelona having the ball.
Guess what’s coming up? Yes – a cliché. It has been said that football is a game of two halves, and it is – when you have Xavi Hernandez on your team.
Barcelona’s less milkier magician combined with THE Barcelona milky magician to set the stage for Barcelona’s comeback. For those of you who aren’t familiar with nicknames I conjured up thirty seconds ago, these players are the aforementioned Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta. The goal itself was a thing of unalloyed beauty. A dribble inside from Iniesta sucking four Valencia players to him coupled with a quick pass to Xavi provided the delicious starter, Iniesta carried his run through the Valencia wolf-pack and Xavi served the main-meal with such grace you’d suspect him of being a waiter at the Ritz. Of course, this archetypal Barcelona goal had the Nou Camp crowd asking for seconds.
Senor Hernandez, the charitable and gentile character he is, politely accepted. This time he cooked up a hearty, sinewy cross for Carlos Puyol to devour in the manner of grace you’d expect from such a man. This was not the goal that you’d find dining in Michelin restaurants, but the goal you’d expect to be on his third batch of Bacon and Onions down at the Biker cafe on a Sunday morning.
The second-half performance managed to dissolve the talk of the poor form of David Villa. However, such talk will continue until he scores at the rate he did in the Black and White of Valencia. In an interview with Adriano in AS, the Brazilian left-sided utility player, was even asked the wearisome question of whether he’s worried that Barcelona will get the ‘real’ David Villa? However, with Villa’s quality, it’s not so much whether he’ll show this quality – it is all about when he will.
Ignore the words uttered by myself on Real Madrid earlier on in the season. The white-hankies flown by the Madridistas are being replaced by the white stains in their pantalones. Given Madrid standards, the start they had was disappointing; their attacking play was janky and awkward. Nevertheless, as every Mourinho side does, defensively, they looked solid and tight – not the characteristics that sit well with the Madridistas. However, they now sit at the top of the table with seventeen points with more than double the goal difference of any other team. This was after a win away at the only Sheikh-owned club in Spain, Malaga. Given the attacking talents, they have on display this form should be par for the course; they should be top of the table and should be scoring the most. Madrid host Santander on Saturday so expect them to score as much as Wayne Rooney would if he moved to Ajax.
Villarreal sadly squandered their chance to move to the top of the table after a thoroughly strange game away to Hercules. The deadly double of David Trezeguet and Nelson Valdez scored, both sandwiching a goal from Joan Capdevila. A few minutes before half-time everyone expected Hercules to wander into the clubhouse with a broad smile on their faces, such imagery was shattered by David Trezeguet getting himself sent-off minutes before the whistle. This was for running his mouth off like a ‘WKD drunk’ Wayne Rooney. This provided motivation for Villarreal to push on in the second-half and they equalised before both Borja Valero and Mateo Musacchio joined David Trezeguet in an awkwardly cold bath for the remainder of the match.
Hecules 2 – Villarreal 2
Gijon 2 – Sevilla 0
Athletic Bilbao 2 – Zaragoza 1
Deportivo 0 – Osasuna 0
Levante 2 – Real Sociedad 1
Mallorca 0 – Espanyol
Santander 1 – Almeria 0
Malaga 1 – Real Madrid 4
Barcelona 2 – Valencia 1
Atletico Madrid 2 – Getafe 0
The Race for the Pichichi
Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid – 5
Nilmar, Villarreal – 5
Gonzalo Higuain, Real Madrid – 4
Fernando Llorente, Athletic Bilbao – 4
Giuseppe Rossi, Villarreal - 4
Tim writes regularly for IBWM but if you would like to read more from him, please visit his very fine blog.