What a game. Deportivo’s match with Barcelona on Saturday proved to be one of the most exciting and unexpected games in soccer history. The match featured a red card, a goal straight from a free kick, terrible defending, a hat trick, and huge comebacks from both squads.
Probably one of the most interesting facts is that Deportivo, a team that was promoted this year to La Liga from the Segunda División, scored a total of 4 goals against a team that has won the UEFA Champions League 4 times. No one could have predicted that 9 goals would have been scored during the match, with both teams scoring roughly half of that amount. This game definitely has the potential of being the match of the season, and it is one that fans all around the world needed to see.
In just the first 18 minutes of the match, Barcelona had already given themselves a comfortable 3-0 lead, but little did they know just what a game was still ahead of them. Just two minutes later, Mascherano committed a foul on Riki in the box, resulting in a penalty that Pizzi had converted with ease. Bergantinos and Messi managed to each score another one for their respective teams by the end of the first half, and the Catalans rushed to their lockers with a two-goal advantage.
Two minutes into the second half saw Pizzi scoring another goal for the Galicians. He scored a challenging goal from a free kick that made the score 3-4. To make things even more interesting, Mascherano racked up a second yellow for connecting elbows with Riki, resulting in his removal from the pitch. At 77 minutes, Messi put in a hat trick, his 15th in La Liga, that Deportivo had no way of stopping. Just two minutes later, when fans thought all surprises were already over, Jordi Alba, a Barcelona defender, put in a bizarre own goal that made it 4-5. Luckily for Barcelona, they were able to hold on to their lead this time, awarding them another 3 points on the La Liga table.
Throughout the game, the referee had made controversial calls. Iniesta, Fabregas, and Messi had expressed their concern that Mascherano was punished undeservingly on both occasions and that neither the penalty or the red card should have been given. In addition to that, Fabregas (who was previously substituted out) was booked for entering the pitch in celebration of Barça’s 5th goal. In response to the yellow card, Fabregas said, “If you can’t celebrate a goal anymore, we better stop this game.” Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova was also unhappy with the decision and said “I was just surprised that Cesc was given a yellow card for celebrating a goal.”
Messi, who was clearly the man of the match, is now just 4 goals from Brazilian soccer god Pelé’s record of 75 goals for his club and country in a single calendar year. In this game alone, the Argentine forward had scored 3 beautiful but different goals and assisted another. Following the game, Messi flew immediately to his wife and newborn son Thiago. For all the amazing work he has done for the team, he definitely earned his time off.
Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdés clearly had a bad game, but it wasn’t entirely his fault that the team conceded 4 goals. Their defense was very disorganized, sending bad clearances and failing to successfully stop attacks brought out Deportivo. The own goal was not his fault, because Jordi Alba made a bad pass that was out of Valdés’ reach. The two goals that depended on the goalkeeper alone were the penalty and the free kick, both of which would have been a challenge for any goalkeeper to fend off. Barcelona’s primary tactic during the game was obviously to outscore their opponents, not to prevent any goals.
With another 3 points, Barcelona remains in 1st on the La Liga scoreboard with a total of 22. Their record is currently 7 wins and 1 draw, which is equal to that of Atlético Madrid’s. They still maintain an 8 point gap between themselves and arch-rivals Real Madrid, who seem to have recovered from their slow start. Deportivo La Coruña remained in 18th place following the game, which means they are still in the relegation zone. They have a total of 6 points and a 1-3-4 record.