Monday, 27 January 2014
Boardroom blues fail to knock Barcelona off
Crisis? What crisis? Barcelona endured turbulent times in a week that saw Sandro Rosell step down as president and the club reveal the figures behind the controversial deal to sign Neymar last summer. Off the pitch, things were looking bleak. But back on it, the outlook already appears much more rosy.
There were plenty of question marks ahead of Sunday's visit of Malaga: How would Rosell's resignation affect the players? How much would the revelations of the real cost of Neymar's transfer impact on the rest of the squad? And how would all the upheaval at boardroom level influence the team with Real Madrid and Atletico breathing down their necks in the race for La Liga?
The answer to all of the above, however: not at all. Barca took the lead in the Camp Nou clash at home to Bernd Schuster's side after 40 minutes through Gerard Pique, but the Catalans created numerous chances prior to the defender's opener, with Alexis Sanchez striking the post, Cesc Fabregas firing wide, Lionel Messi missing the target from an acute angle and the visitors keeping the home side at bay with some desperate defending, which included several cynical challenges.
Messi, dropping deeper than usual in more of a creative midfield role at times, set up Pedro for 2-0 early in the second half and also started the move which saw Alexis add another. Three and easy: what had looked like a tricky test and even a potential banana-skin for the Blaugrana following events at boardroom level leading up to this match, ended up as a Sunday stroll. And it could have been many more.