Tito Vilanova and his men are 100% in La Liga and have a two-point advantage over Mallorca, Málaga and Rayo. However, this perfect record would not have been possible without key contributions from Alex Song, Adriano Correia, and the Xavi-Iniesta-Messi trio
No news is good news as far as the defensive midfielder position goes. The work done by an Azulgrana in the pivot role often goes unnoticed when the likes of Xavi, Messi and Iniesta are on the pitch, but it doesn’t make the job any easier. Tito Vilanova stated last week that Alex Song still had to learn the pivot role within the context of FC Barcelona’s style of play. It seems as though the Cameroon international is a fast learner seeing that he featured in Barça’s starting XI tonight against Valencia CF at the Camp Nou. Song, who played in the position usually reserved for Sergio Busquets, performed the quiet and methodical task of protecting Barça’s back line brilliantly while providing Xavi with enough support for the Catalan to dictate the tempo of the match. The ability to put in such a ‘Busquetsian’ performance with so little preparation is a commendable feat and one the ex-Arsenal player should be proud of.
“I’m at the top of my game; the best form I’ve been on in my entire career,” said Adriano three weeks ago. The Brazilian left back, who is known for his ability going forward, may have proved those words true during tonight’s match against Valencia. Adriano not only contributed to Víctor Valdés’ clean sheet but he also scored the goal that clinched the three points for FC Barcelona. The Brazilian was solid on defence and was a terror for João Pereira on the left wing. The Azulgrana rarely found himself caught out of position on defence despite spending much of his time in Valencia territory. Because of his goal, Barça’s record in La Liga is 100%. The team now sit atop the table with a two-point advantage over Mallorca, Málaga and Rayo.
The Messi-Xavi-Iniesta trio:
Justice would be better served if the three 2010 Ballon d’Or finalists had their own sections in this column, but their collective performance in tonight’s match allows for broader analysis. The three players completed nearly 200 passes between them, most of which were successful, and were the main contributors to Barça’s 63% overall possession against Los Che. Xavi finished the match with a completion rate of 96.6%, Iniesta with 96.4%, and Messi with 83.4%. The three players - Messi spent long spells of the match in the midfield - controlled the passing lanes and made sure the ball skipped along the Camp Nou pitch with enough pace to keep Valencia chasing for most of the match.