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The Camp Nou enjoyed what will go down as a night to remember as a powerful Barça brushed aside Mallorca with a hat trick for Cesc , two for Alexis and just as memorably, the return of Tito Vilanova and the reappearance of Eric Abidal. The French defender came on on 69 minutes to a tremendous reception, as the Camp Nou fans revelled in the perfect taster ahead of Wednesday’s visit of PSG.
Two quick goals each for Cesc and Alexis
Barça’s only change from the game against Vigo last week was Iniesta in for the injured Messi and with a number of big names missing it fell to the Spanish World Cup winner to take on the captain’s role and also run the midfield. Bartra and Piqué played at the heart of the defence – perhaps a hint of what to expect on Wednesday – and Cesc took on the false number 9 role.
The ex-Arsenal man looked comfortable and hungry playing in Messi’s usual position and opened the scoring after a lovely one-two with Alexis. Almost immediately afterwards, it was the Chilean who scored after the keeper had pushed aside another Cesc effort.
Game won by half time
At two up, the game took on a familiar pattern, with Barça attacking and Mallorca defending, with the very occasional chance – Helder shot into the side netting and Alfaro saw a header pushed wide. However, any hope that the visitors had of getting back into the game were snuffed out with two more goals in two minutes as Cesc and Alexis again combined and doubled their personal tallies.
Mallorca had tried to take risks up front, but they’d paid a high price for their fragility at the back and Gregorio Manzano stiffened them after the break by bringing on another midfield holding player. Cesc wasn’t to be stopped from getting his hat trick though, and in the first minute of the half he scored an excellent third after receiving a pin point pass from Iniesta, controlling the ball and switching his feet to fire past the keeper, Soon after, Iniesta was replaced by Jonathan dos Santos, who joined his brother Giovani on the pitch. Far from petering out, the game continued to excite the crowd, with Alfaro unlucky to see his goal ruled out for a very close off side decision.
“Abidal! Abidal! Abidal!”
With the three points secure, Barça looked to ring the changes and the Camp Nou fans roared their approval when Abidal began to warm up on 55 minutes. Cesc got a standing ovation when he was replaced by Deulofeu and then on 69 minutes the moment the fans had been waiting for finally arrived as Abidal gave a final handshake to Tito and came on to replace Piqué alongside Bartra and from then on, every tackle, pass and header he made was greeted with cheers from the Barça fans.
So, with Tito back on the bench and Abidal on the pitch, Barça rounded off the perfect preparation for Wednesday night’s big game against PSG.
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