|In a huge blow to Barcelona’s domestic title defence, David Villa fractured his tibia in his first injury since joining the club from Valencia last year [EPA]|
A weakened Barcelona out-classed Al Sadd 4-0 at the Club World Cup on Thursday to set up a final clash with Santos, but the result was overshadowed by a serious injury to striker David Villa.
The Spanish international, who has been linked with a move away from the Camp Nou, could be out for at least six months after he was stretchered off with what Barcelona said was a fractured left tibia.
Xavi, Dani Alves, Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique were all left on the bench, but it hardly mattered as the Qataris, the Asian champions, were torn apart.
As anticipated, it was all Barcelona from the off at a packed International Stadium in Yokohama, near Tokyo, in a game that felt more like an exhibition match than a competitive fixture for the 66,298 fans.
Barca had a mammoth 70 percent of the possession in the first 15 minutes, pinging the ball around as Al Sadd chased shadows under the floodlights in a hopelessly one-sided contest. It was only a matter of time.
The only surprise was that it took the Catalans so long to register their first real shot on goal, with Mohamed Saqr in the Qataris’ goal saving smartly from Villa just after 15 minutes.
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola threw his hands up at one stage when one move broke down, but on 25 minutes the Spanish side went ahead, and it had nothing to do with their class and everything to do with some hugely comical defending.
A cross from the left fell tamely to former English Premier League defender Nadir Belhadj, who controlled the ball, which ran loose to Saqr.
But Saqr, who like the Algerian Belhadj was one of the heroes of Al Sadd’s unlikely run to the Asian crown, hesitated over whether he should pick it up, and as he thought about it the Brazilian Adriano nipped in to prod home.
Villa was replaced by Alexis Sanchez five minutes before half-time in what did not at the time look a serious injury.
Al Sadd could not get out of their own half and it was no surprise when the Spanish champions went 2-0 up, Adriano rifling the ball low and hard under Saqr, who again ought to have done better.
Seydou Keita grabbed the third after he was set up by Lionel Messi, who had a quiet night by his exceptionally high standards, as the news filtered through on Barcelona’s website of Villa’s injury.
Substitute Maxwell added the fourth nine minutes from time.