Lionel Messi scored his first goal of 2013 but Pedro was the star as Barcelona thrashed Espanyol in the Catalan derby
The referee blows his whistle for full time, which means that the football match is over. Barcelona will be delighted to have scored four football goals to Espanyol's zero football goals. That means they have won the football match 4-0. It is understood that this means they are 16 points clear of Spanish football side, Real Madrid, who are managed by a Portuguese man called Jose Mourinho.
Thank you for reading this Serious Report.
Professional Journalist Jacob Steinberg.
90 min+2: The scoreboard on the left of the screen has revealed that we are in the second minute of stoppage time and that it is still Barcelona 4-0 Espanyol.
90 min+1: It is understood we are in the first minute of stoppage time in the La Liga football match between Barcelona and Espanyol. It is 4-0 to Barcelona. More when we know more.
90 min: Two more minutes of this, which will be delivered to you in the style of a Professional Journalist.
89 min: "If we're on the subject of MBM cliches, I am this close to losing it after reading yet another reference to the Pulitzer Prize from an MBMer," says Johny B. "Aren't there any other awards for you journo types? I am beginning to think this is more like an offhand humorous report of a football match meant purely for entertainment rather than professional journalism."
You've rumbled us, Johny! As for your question, I think Rob Smyth has a Golden Globe for a Rumour Mill he once wrote, Scott Murray has an Emmy for a Fiver and Tom Lutz has a 25m swimming badge.
87 min: I spent quite a lot of time trying to work out how to do that. It's probably wrong as well.
84 min: Moreno is booked for a moronic two-footed challenge on Thiago. He should be off but he's only booked. "It's a shame that Pedro's substituted before his hat-trick, but I have to disagree with you on one point: he really wasn't this far offside, it was more than this far but not quite that far, so let's just agree he was this far offside," says Reinoud Dupan.
He underlined and did italics on the last 'this' but the MBM tool doesn't allow for underlining. So if you can just imagine there's one underneath the final 'this' that would be great. I imagine it would look a bit like this: ––––––––––––. So basically the equation is this x this + ––––––––––. That's math. You can't argue with math.
81 min: Messi hits the bar with a free-kick from 30 yards out. The ball was curled over the wall with his left foot and towards the top-right corner but bounced up off the woodwork with Casilla beaten. It fell back down to earth from a great height but an Espanyol defender was on hand to head it away.
80 min: It's kind of understandable that Gerard Pique is falling asleep. He dilly-dally-Christian-Daillys about with the ball in his own half before playing a ludicrous backpass to Valdes. An Espanyol player steals in - I'm not sure who – but can't beat Valdes.
77 min: The former Barcelona winger Simao is replaced by Albin. Meanwhile Sid Lowe is losing it. Poor Sid. Pray for him.
75 min: Pedro shakes hands with the referee as he walks off to be replaced by Alexis Sanchez.
72 min: And once again, Pedro is denied his hat-trick by an offside flag. The ball is pinged over the left-back for Alves, who was onside. He cushioned it across to Pedro, who finished clinically. However he was this far offside.
71 min: "I am this tired of reading the same rehashed italic cliches on MBM," sermonises Ashley Cotter-Cairns, who has won the Pulitzer Prize 20 years in a row.
70 min: My word. Suddenly Barcelona come to life, Alves and Messi playing their own little game in their own little world inside the Espanyol half. Messi then sprays a pass to the left for Villa, who shifts the ball on to his right, looking to curl it into the far corner. It's hit tamely at Casilla though.
67 min: "I know it's a tired old trope, but where was this reaction when Crouch 'played basketball' against Man City?" says Matt Dony. "And, yes, I hope one of the impressively strong German sides can stop Barca. I love watching them, but I cannot stand their smug, self-righteous approach, seemingly thinking that their way is the only morally acceptable way of kicking a ball around with your mates."
66 min: Here's David Villa, on for Cesc Fabregas.
65 min: Barcelona have the ball in the net, Pedro tapping in, but Fabregas was this far offside after an incredible pass from Messi. What a shame. "To answer Nathan Chalk's question, I think some commentators are too quick to condemn non-British players because they perceive them, rightly or wrongly, not to have an innate, some might say English, sense of fair-play," says Simon McMahon. "It's the 'diving foreigners' debate, I suppose. The point is no one but Suarez himself knows whether or not it was intentional and so to state on telly that what happened was the 'work of a cheat' seems to me to be not very fair on the player. Casual xenophobia or just laziness?"
64 min: "Neanderthals invented the roast dinner," says Grady Klein. "Meat + fire, no veg."
63 min: And here is the first change. Xavi is replaced by Thiago. And Stuani, wearing a protective mask, replaces Verdu.
62 min: The intensity has gone out of this game. I suspect it needs a couple of Barcelona subsitutes, eager to show what they can do, to spice it up. I guess that's the problem when you are so superior - it's difficult to keep yourself motivated.
60 min: Espanyol sensibly remove Baena, who was living dangerously, and bring on Cristian Alfonso. Moments later, Pique flicks a header goalwards but straight at Casilla.
59 min: In space on the left, Fabregas tries to bend one into the far corner. It's blocked behind for a corner.
57 min: Espanyol shout for handball against Pique as Garcia makes a nuisance of himself in the area. No dice.Baena then clips Pique who rolls about in risible fashion, knowing the Espanyol man had already been booked. What happened to the #spirit from the #summerofsport?
56 min: Casilla gets himself in a tangle with a backpass, allowing Pedro to close him down and almost nick the ball off him for what would have been a tap-in. He just about gets away with it and gets a goal-kick even though he touched the ball last. That's why Mourinho dropped him then.
53 min: Baena is booked for clumping Iniesta for nutmegging him. Meanwhile Sadique Ali comes up with a possible answer.
52 min: "Hmm, aren't there roast dinners in the Bible?" says Ryan Dunne. "I'd go for Noah or Abraham or one of those dudes! NB are you not worried that referring to knowing a ''she'' will alienate your stereotypical-MBMer audience?" Hmm. I wonder if Abraham hosted a cookery programme back in the day.
51 min: It's not going to be Milan.
50 min: Really, though, is there anyone who can stop this Barcelona side in Europe this season? There's no Chelsea to do the unthinkable again. Manchester United and Arsenal won't be doing it. Real Madrid are in a rare old state at the moment. So could it be one of the German sides, perhaps?
49 min: I'm trying to settle an argument with someone. Does anyone know who invented the roast dinner? I'm suggesting Henry VIII but she doesn't believe me.
47 min: "What if Suarez had done what 'doesn't happen' in football (according to his boss - and apparently he's fine with that...) and owned up?" says Matt Cast. "It would have gone at least some way to cancelling out the way he has dragged football through the mud over the last 2 and a half years. Liverpool would have probably won anyway, or there would have been a replay, Mansfield get some cash, Liverpool probably get through anyway. I'm not saying he should have done that, but he could have. At the very least he could have refrained from kissing his wrist - does the guy even have an inkling of how low his reputation is? It just looked very bad."
46 min: Off we go again. "Its astonishing how much Barcelona seems to function on a two-year cycle," says Alex Hanton. "2008/2009-won everything in sight; 2010- OK but not quite living up to potential; 2011- see 2009; 2012- see 2010. If the pattern continues they'll be unbeatable in Europe this season. Though if anyone can do it let's hope its Celtic, solely for Ryan Dunne's reaction."
Half time emails.
"So has Mourinho tired of Iker so much that he has loaned him out to Espanyol or are you implying that the Espanyol keeper is a only fraction of the Spain captain by taking off the ‘s’?" asks R Vivekananda.
"You just cant score four goals in the first half in a derby match," says Pangeran Siahaan. "Barcelona are being outlandishly disrespectful to traditional football values here."
"Witch-hunts are a metaphor for when people go after you even though you've done nothing wrong," says Ethan Dean-Richards. That's the opposite of what's happened with Suarez today (and in general.) If you do a handball and people say "hey! you've done a handball!" that's not a witch-hunt, it's more like someone turning up to your house and telling you that they are a witch and you saying 'okay, you are witch.'"
"Re Simon McMahon," says Nathan Chalk. "Could you please explain where you think the casual xenophobia in that remark regarding Suarez is please? I think people need to be more careful throwing such accusations around. I'd have liked Suarez to admit it was handball, and I'm not a fan of the man, but I don't believe many footballers would have admitted the handball. That's the biggest shame for me."
"There are no incentives to play fair anymore," says Mark Lunt. "Getting away with a blatant handball - a talent which Suarez has displayed before - is just another skill nowadays - as is diving. I imagine some people may disagree with me on this, but one of Messi's greatest gifts is that no matter how much he gets kicked, tripped, pulled etc, he usually does everything he can to stay on his feet (and often goes on to score). You only have to look at some players and they fall over in the box (ie Steven Gerrard). I'm saying this as a Liverpool fan (since the 1960s) and an ex-pat scouser."
"Loving the casual witch-hunt on Suarez yet again," paranoids Gurinder Arora. "What's the lad supposed to do eh? Pick the ball up before scoring and say "Nope here you are Mansfield never a goal". Ridiculous."
No, that would be handball. You should probably read the laws of the game.
The referee blows his whistle two seconds before the 45-minute mark.
43 min: The possession stats flash up and Barcelona have had 75% of it. To be honest, I'm surprised it's not more. If you were to tell an Espanyol player that they have had 25% of the possession they'd probably think you were mad.
42 min: Finally Iniesta has a shot from 25 yards out. It's deflected wide by Moreno. The corner comes to nothing.
41 min: To summarise the events of the last few minutes, Barcelona have been passing it around at will and Espanyol have been sitting back hoping they don't bother attacking properly. It's basically a case of how many goals they want.
38 min: Espanyol have the ba... no, wait, Barcelona have it again.
37 min: Barcelona have the ball.
36 min: Thinking about it, there hasn't been much magic of the Cup at the Camp Nou this evening either.
35 min: "Never mind Sturridge, what did you make of the Suarez goal, Jacob?" says Simon McMahon. "Just heard it described by the commentator on the news as 'the work of a cheat'. Aside from the casual xenophobia present in such a remark, that's a pretty strong claim to make about an incident that could easily be viewed as accidental."
I think Suarez knew exactly what he was doing but even if it was accidental, he surely could have told the referee. He would have known he controlled it with his hand ... and they were playing Mansfield. It wasn't very romantic.
34 min: Alves fires a cross-shot across goal from the right which reaches Iniesta at the far post. He shoots. It's blocked. It's as if Espanyol are playing with five men.
33 min: "Are Barcelona dedicating each goal personally to an Espanyol fan," says Jonathan Da Silva. "Only four more needed."
32 min: Of course, without Bielsification none of this would be possible. Just think about that for a moment, will you?
31 min: And a happy new year to Espanyol. They look shellshocked.
At last, at long last, Lionel Messi scores in 2013. He calmly steps up and rolls his penalty into the bottom-left corner, Casilla going the wrong way. That's his 36th goal of the season. 36 (Thirty-six)! The goal drought is over.
28 min: Casilla sends Fabregas flying after the midfielder got to a loose ball in the area first and the referee takes a moment to make up his mind before pointing to the spot.
I think it's fair to say that Pedro Rodriguez is going to score at least 96 goals in 2013. Take that, Lionel Messi! This is an absolutely outstanding goal. From a seemingly unthreatening position, Busquets prised open Espanyol with a marvellous defence-splitting pass. What vision! Pedro runs through, beats Casilla to it and then brilliantly dinks it over him. What a finish. What a goal. What a team.
25 min: Alves charges down the right and sends a cross into the area. Messi tries to flick it on but there's nothing doing.
23 min: Barcelona don't like it up 'em. Espanyol just need to stick it in the mixah. Casilla hoofs a clearance up field and between them Busquets and Puyol make a right mess of it, the pair of eedjits, allowing Sergio Garcia to steam through and blast a volley into orbit. That was a brilliant chance. He should have scored. But didn't.
21 min: Barcelona's possession must be in the region of 80%. It's just relentless. "What if Messi deliberately shot the ball off Pedro's knee. What's the record for assists in a calendar year?" says Saurav Samaddar. "Messi might be gunning for it this time."
19 min: The close control from Fabregas in the buildup to that goal was astonishing. How do they do it? I wish I was one of them. When you think of Danny Sturridge's ridiculous aren't-I-brilliant dance after scoring against Mansfield this afternoon, it's really rather depressing, isn't it?
18 min: Imagine if Barcelona's players had secretly come up with a plan to nick all of Messi's goals. Imagine! The larks!
Pedro 1-0 Lionel Messi in 2013. It initially looked like this was Messi's goal but it actually went in off Pedro. The scoundrel. Fabregas, at the heart of every Barcelona attack, wriggled through on the left, finding space where there appeared to be none, before cutting the ball back to Messi. He scuffed his shot from about six yards out and it took the slightest of touches off Pedro, brushing his knee, before nestling in the far corner. That is Pedro's goal.
13 min: Casilla - note, not Casillas - stops Iniesta from doubling Barcelona's lead. Messi played a pass to Fabregas on the edge of the area. He stepped away from his marker beautifully and this time pushed it through to Iniesta, whose shot was saved well with his legs by Casilla.
12 min: Neck on the line time: this could be a long evening for Espanyol. It's a case of damage limitation really.
It's Xavi 1-0 Messi in 2013. This was as simple as they come. Iniesta broke into some space on the left and slid a low ball across the area. There were six Espanyol defenders in the area but none of them had bothered tracking Xavi, who slotted the ball comfortably past Casilla from close range. That was Xaviesta in motion.
8 min: Messi cuts in from the right and for a moment the terror in the Espanyol defence is clear to see. The ball runs away from him, though, spinning to Fabregas on the edge of the area. He could play Iniesta in on the right but instead, in true Arsenal style, faffs around with it and the chance is gone. The crowd murmur their disapproval.
7 min: Apparently Espanyol have brought eight fans to the Camp Nou tonight. Can anyone confirm this? To be fair, it is a long way to go for them.
6 min: Espanyol have been in Barcelona's half. They're running the show here. "Never mind Messi, 2013 is the year I'm finally going to sort myself out," says Simon McMahon. "No more sitting around, can in hand, sending pointless emails to the Guardian. I'll start tomorrow."
5 min: Espanyol haven't been out of their half yet. In fact, they've barely touched the ball. Whenever they do get it, they keep it for about three seconds. On the left, Alba charges forward and tries to release Iniesta, but his pass cut out to Javi Lopez.
4 min: "Is that a new by-line photo of your good self?" says Ryan Dunne. "Kudos for resisting the temptation to give it some Blue Steel or a wink for the ladies! Re: Mourinho. Given Big Sam's famous claim that he could manage Real Madrid, surely the logical next step would be for he and Mourinho to swap jobs until the end of the season? Afterall, is it really any more ludicrous that Mourinho's current, Brewster's Million, you-can't-sack-me shenanigans?"
That is a new byline picture, yes, because I am a professional and professionals need professional bylines. Mourinho likes Allardyce.
2 min: Lionel Messi still hasn't scored in 2013.
Peep! And we're off. Barcelona kick off and have the ball. I might just copy and paste that for future usage this evening. Barcelona won this fixture 4-0 last season. Lionel Messi scored all four goals but he hasn't scored yet tonight.
The teams are in the tunnel. Incredibly Tito Vilanova is on the Barcelona bench tonight despite his recent cancer scare.
I have been watching quite the performance from Jose Mourinho for the last two hours. Once again he baited the Bernabeu crowd by leaving Iker Casillas on the bench for Real Madrid's game against Real Soceidad, a ruse that was ruined after five minutes when his replacement, Adan, conceded a penalty and was sent off after five minutes. Unfortunately Jose chose not to either put himself in goal or stick a midfielder there instead and threw Casillas on.
He conceded the penalty and nearly gave away another goal shortly afterwards. It was 2-2 at half time and then, inevitably, Ronaldo scored twice. Jose didn't celebrate a single goal and when Ronaldo's second went in, he sat on the bench flinging his arms about and repeatedly shouting "puta" over and over again. What is this preposterous genius up to? He is properly on. I can't wait to see what he's going to do next.
Evening. So what have you been up to this year? Made some resolutions, have you? Having a dry January, are you? Going to make this year all about you, eh? Well, whatever it is you're planning, it's probably going to pale into insignificance with whatever Lionel Messi comes up with this year. True, some will say that his failure to score even once in 2013 is proof that he's past it and those people would probably be the Zambian FA. But Messi's quest to break the record he set of 91 goals in a calendar year last month begins this evening in the Catalan derby as Espanyol visit the Camp Nou.
They won't fancy their chances much tonight. When the winter break began in Spain, Barcelona were nine points ahead of Atletico Madrid and 16 points clear of Real Madrid, who have imploded under Jose Mourinho, who surely won't be there for much longer. Barcelona have played 17 games in La Liga this season. They've won 16, drawn one, lost none, scored 57 goals and conceded 19. In summary: they are pretteh, pretteh, pretteh good.
Barcelona: Valdes; Alves, Pique, Puyol, Alba; Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta; Fabregas, Messi, Pedro. Subs: Pinto, Montoya, Villa, Sanchez, Song, Mascherano, Thiago.
Espanyol: Casilla; Javi Lopez, Colotto, Moreno, Capdevila; Forlin, Baena, Victor Sanchez; Verdu, Sergio Garcia, Simao. Subs: Raul Rodriguez, Stuani, Albin, Cristian Gomz, Cristian Alfonso, Victor Alvarez, German.