As this La Liga season has unfolded, I’ve been keeping track of the possession totals per game for last year’s league champion, Barcelona. In their most recent game against Getafe they had their worst showing so far, as they only managed to hold the ball for 50% of the match. It was well off their usual 68-70%.
When I look to find out what happened in La Liga I’ve taken to looking not for the score of the game but the possession time, which usually tells the story anyway. And when I saw the 50% number in this game, well below their average, I thought something strange must have happened.
It turns out Pique was given a red card in the 25th minute so Barcelona played most of the game with 10 men. Then, not that it matters that much, Rafa Marquez was given a red card in the 90th. Barcelona ending the game with just 9 men. It might be more fair if Barcelona start the game a man down. No more is it whether Barcelona won, it’s now about how badly did they embarrass the other team and keep the ball from them.
In the game, Barcelona scored early and looked like they could have scored often. After just six minutes Messi bent the ball into the left corner where the keeper couldn’t touch it. It was perhaps the longest-range shot he’s ever scored on, as the ball was laid back to him at the top penalty box arc and he bent it around the scrum in the box.
Later, Keita missed a clear chance in front of goal. But Barca broke away again on the counter, with Messi and Xavi going against four defenders. Messi dribbled down the throat of the goal and cut the ball back to Xavi who smartly pass the ball home.