LaLiga Essentials: Samuel Eto’o’s best performance in his career

FC Barcelona are the only team in European football history to have won a domestic league, domestic cup, and European cup treble in a single year on more than one occasion.

They first won LaLiga Santander, the Copa del Rey, and the UEFA Champions League in 2008-2009 in Pep Guardiola’s first season in charge, before making history six years later by repeating the achievement in 2014/2015 under Luis Enrique.

Based in Valladolid, whose nickname is Pucela, a name popularly used by locals to describe the city found in the North West of Spain. Founded on 20 June 1928, the club has donned the colours violet and white since its formation. Despite its long history in Spanish football, Valladolid’s honours include a single trophy of great relevance, the defunct Copa de la Liga 1983–1984.

On the 8th of November, a lowly placed Valladolid made the trip to the famous Camp Nou for matchday 10th and even though Valladolid fielded a very strong team, they knew they had their work cut out for them when going to the Camp Nou to face a star-studded Barcelona side with the front four of Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry, Eiður Guðjohnsen and African great Samuel Eto’o in what was seen as a David vs Goliath clash.

African masterclass of the ages

Barcelona came into the game very confident as they had one of the greatest teams in the modern era and it didn’t take the hosts long to get on the score sheet as Dani Alves went on one of his famous runs into the opposition’s half, finding Eto’o, who made a run between the two defenders and showed composure to find the back of the net 12 minutes into the game.

On the half-hour mark, Eto’o would double his tally, putting the home team two goals to the good when Xavi found Eto’o on the edge of the box, who then played a lobbed pass to Henry. Henry took a first-time shot that Sergio Asenjo parried before it fell to Eto’o, who volleyed home from close range.

The Valladolid defence could not cope with the attacking force of Barca as Messi drove the ball deep into enemy territory and played in Eto’o with a beautiful through ball that pierced the visitors’ defence. Eto’o rounded the keeper and found the net from a tight angle, bagging a hattrick in the first half.

One minute later, Eto’o would score his fourth goal of the game, which came in similar fashion to his third. Messi took on the defenders when a deflection from Lopez fell kindly to Eto’o who placed the ball in the bottom right corner, beating Asenjo for the fourth time in one half.

This would go on to be Eto’o’s highest-scoring match of his career in his last season with the Catalan giants – this goal was his 13th for the season. The Cameroonian is the only African player that has ever won the Pichichi Trophy for being the top scorer in the 2005/2006 season.

He would go on to score 130 goals for Barcelona in five seasons and also became the record holder for the greatest number of appearances by an African player. He is also in the history books for being the second player to score in two UEFA Champions League finals.

Vallodolid would go into the break 4-0 down at a packed Camp Nou, and it looked to get worse for them in the second half.

Ruthless display of Champions

The visitors kept the hosts quiet for most of the second half, but all of that went to waste as regrettably the goalkeeper played a pass to his defender who failed to trap the ball which fell kindly into the feet of Henry who found Eiður Guðjohnsen, and the Icelander chipped the rushing Asenjo to score Barca’s fifth goal of the game.

Barcelona’s tiki-taka passing was on full display later in the match when a quick one-two involving Aleksandr Hleb and Messi put the Belarusian through on goal, who unselfishly squared the ball for the easiest of tap ins for Henry in the 83rd minute. Wrapping up an exceptional match for Pep Guardiola’s chargers.

Historic season for Guardiola and Barcelona

That season, Barcelona would go on to win every competition they were in, including the famous 2-0 win over Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League. This record gave Guardiola a dream start to management life at Camp Nou.

Valladolid finished the season in 16th place, just one point from the relegation zone.

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