That's more like it. Barcelona's first away victory in La Liga since mid-November, a comprehensive 0-4 win, with gols from Eto'o (x2), Zambrotta, a fine gol born out of about fifteen passes and fantastic movement and finally Leo Messi with a low drive late on. A fine performance all round. Valdes solid in gol, making three good stops when Barça were only 0-1 up. The defense looking far better without Marquez (his dropping from the squad resulting in a clean sheet, coincidence? I think not) and ditching 3-4-3 for the less crazy and more traditional 4-3-3, with Sylvinho and Zambrotta coming in. The blaugrana completely controlled the game against a side that are seventh, just two points behind Athletico Madrid and who are most definitely in contention for a UEFA Cup spot.
Barça now have a two week break before they're at home to Mini-Depor at the end of the month. Deco is out, suspended after picking up a yellow card on Saturday night. He also injured his hand and will require an operation that will keep him out of the Portugal game in the week too.
What's eating Thiago Motta?
Poor old Thiago. If it's not some freak injury keeping him out of the Barça squad it's a crisis of confidence. Though he apologised on Tuesday and returned to training he's yet to be restored to the squad and hopefully will use these next few weeks to get his head together.
I quite like Motta, he gives Barça a different dimension in the holding midfield role from either Edmilson or Marquez. A good passer and strong plus he's a good taker of a free kick. He can certainly be sloppy at times and ala Patrick Viera seems to attract the refs attention no matter what he does. That said, he's no Guardiola and isn't really up to the standard of those around him (Deco, Iniesta and Xavi). How he recovers from this bout of self doubt will probably determine his future at the Camp Nou. He's certainly expendable and if he doesn't turn in a few commanding turns in the anchor role he could find himself pulling on a Getafe or Osasuna shirt next season wondering what the hell happened. I hope he gets back on the horse.
Belletti signs a new deal
Ropey right back Julio Belletti has signed a new deal which will keep him at Barcelona until mid-2009. Playing second fiddle to Zambrotta these days, Belletti is a decent player who doesn't much care for defending. We can look forward to his blazing attacking runs and hopeless lunges for a few seasons to come.