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Victory in FIFA Club World Cup comes at a cost for Barcelona

Thursday 15th December 2011
European Champions Barcelona will face Santos in the FIFA Club World Cup final on Sunday after beating Asian Champions Al-Sadd 4-0, but the victory came at a cost.

Striker David Villa was stretchered off just before the break with a broken tibia, which could see Pep Guardiola without his star striker for the rest of the season.

Despite rumours in recent weeks that Villa could be leaving the Nou Camp, Guardiola had earlier quashed those rumours.
With the attacking talent on show for Barcelona, it came as a surprise that their goals came from a right back, a substitute left back and a defensive midfielder.

A double from Adriano, a clinical finish from Seydou Keita and a late fourth from substitute Maxwell gave Barcelona a comfortable win in Yokohama.

First half

Barcelona dominated the early proceedings, with keeper Victor Valdes only getting two touches in the first 20 minutes.

Despite their dominance, the European champions did not have a shot on target until the 18th minute, when Al-Sadd keeper Mohamed got down well to deny Villa.

The Barcelona fans did not have to wait long to see the deadlock broken, as Adriano stole in on a mix up in the Al-Sadd defence to put the Catalan side ahead.

Pedro's cross looked to be going harmlessly wide but former Portsmouth defender Nadir Belhadj tapped it back to the keeper and unable to pick it up, Mohamed dallied on the ball and Adriano blocked his attempted clearance, which deflected into the back of the net.

The Spanish champions continued to dominate and ten minutes later they thought they had gone 2-0 up, but Villa was correctly ruled offside after he pounced on a loose ball, following a good save from the Al-Sadd keeper from Iniesta's strike.

Barcelona were then given the crucial blow, as Villa had to be stretchered off after getting tangled with two Al-Sadd defenders as he broke into the box, falling awkwardly on his leg.

The loss of the Spanish striker did not appear to stall Barcelona's attacking emphasis and just before the break Adriano added his and Barcelona's second.

After good approach play from Thiago Alcantra, he slid in Adriano who powerfully struck the ball in to the bottom corner from the edge of the box, to put the Catalonians in clear control.

Just before half time, Al-Sadd had their first attempt on goal as former Marseille striker Mamadou Niang fired over after a rare attack for the Qatari side.

Second half

After the break Barcelona continued to dominate, with Victor Valdes a constant spectator throughout the half.

The European giants had a penalty appeal dismissed as Sanchez went down in the box and then the former Udinese forward had a goal wrongly ruled offside.

Barcelona all but ended the tie through an unlikely source, as Keita ran through unmarked, latching on to a Lionel Messi through ball, coolly slotting home into the bottom corner.

Messi then nearly got himself on the scoresheet but his attempted overhead kick was rushed and went harmlessly wide.

The tempo of the game then slowed down, as the news of Villa's injury filtered out of the dressing rooms, amidst a flurry of substitutions by both managers.

Promising striker Isaac Cuenca came on for the Catalan side but it was experienced left back Maxwell who ended the scoring with a shot from a tight angle, which the Al-Sadd keeper should have dealt with.

The Spanish side had two more late injury concerns as Carlos Puyol and Javier Mascherano both went down after late challenges from striker Yusef, but they both appeared to come out of the challenges without serious injury.

Barcelona will face a much tougher test when they take on Santos and Neymar on Sunday morning, but the seriousness of the injury to David Villa will be the main concern to everyone from Catalonia tonight.


Barcelona: Valdes; Adriano, Puyol, Mascherano, Abidal (Maxwell); Keita, Thiago, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Villa (Sanchez- Cuenca). Unused subs: Pinto, Pique, Fontas, Olazabal, Dani Alves, Busquets, Fabregas, Jonathan, Xavi.

Al-Sadd: Mohamed Saqer; Kasoula, Koni, Majid, Lee, Belhadj; Al Bloushi (Al Yazidi), Rizki, Keita (Al Haydos), Al Khalfan; Niang (Y. Ali).  Unused subs: Yahya, Al Hamad, Zakariya Muhammad, Leandro, Al Sheeb, Mohammed, Naser Saad, Muhannad Hussein, Hassan.
Adam Woodhouse

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