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La liga 2011/2012 – standing after week 33

April 12th, 2012
We have FC Barcelona tickets for all competitions at the Nou Camp

Barcelona remain four points behind Real Madrid after their archrival beat Atletico Madrid in their match last night.

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Alexis on Form as Barcelona Breeze Past Getafe

April 10th, 2012

Barcelona got revenge for their away defeat earlier in the season by thrashing Getafe 4-0 at the Camp Nou on Tuesday evening. Alexis Sánchez got two goals, with Messi and Pedro grabbing one apiece. It was a thoroughly professional and composed performance, and a result that ramps up the pressure on Real Madrid, just one point ahead before their match on Wednesday.

Guardiola fielded what looked a very attacking lineup – ostensibly it was a four-man defence, with Mascherano and Busquets in the middle, but the latter floated between midfield and defence. Puyol and Adriano were on the flanks, tucking in occasionally.

Barcelona settled quickly and attacked relentlessly in the first half, getting the opener after 12 minutes – from the left touchline, Iniesta looped a pass infield for Messi. The Argentine chested into the path of Alexis who strode forward and curled his shot past Moyá and inside the right post.

Barça maintained the intensity after the goal, and were denied what should have been a second by a strange refereeing decision. After a spell of prolonged possession Messi slipped a pass through for Xavi, who turned in the area and lifted his shot over Moyá. A goal seemed unavoidable as the ball bounced over the line, but it was hooked away by a Getafe defender and off Messi for a goal kick. Replays suggested the goal should have stood.

Getafe were deep, narrow, and struggling to cope with Barcelona’s pressing and movement. With half an hour gone, Busquets lofted a pinpoint pass through for Messi, but the forward’s shot dribbled agonisingly wide of the right post.

The away team did muster an attack of their own; as Barcelona cleared a corner, Rubén Pérez struck a sweet volley from outside the area which deflected just wide of the goal with Valdés motionless.

In response Barcelona should have extended their lead – Cuenca fired a low cross from the right wing that picked out Alexis in plenty of space at the back post, but the Chilean forward could only poke wide. The second goal came before half time, after a breathtaking passing move. Messi fired a pass through Iniesta, who produced a delightful back-heeled layoff for the overlapping Argentine with his first touch. Messi picked it up and fired the ball into the top left corner.

Barça were less urgent in the second half, electing instead to build slowly and retain possession. It was almost half an hour before Moyá was tested – he palmed away a wayward Cuenca cross. But the next time Cuenca got down the right flank he curled a cross that Alexis headed home. And two minutes later Barcelona scored with another header. This time Messi swung a free kick in from the right hand side, and Pedro glanced a deft header into the top left corner.

Later Messi danced past three defenders from left corner flag, but his shot was deflected onto the bar by the ‘keeper.

1-0 Alexis (min 13)
2-0 Messi (min 44)
3-0 Alexis (min 73)
4-0 Pedro (min 75)

La liga 2011/2012 – standing after week 32

April 8th, 2012

Barcelona closed the gap with Madrid to four points after they beat Zaragoza 4-1 and Valencia held Madrid to a goalless draw at the Bernabeu.

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Barcelona Battle Past Zaragoza

April 8th, 2012

With the 2011/2012 in its closing few weeks we still have tickets available for two matches. On April 24th Barcelona faces Chelsea in the Champions League semi-finals, while in early May we have FC Barcelona tickets available for the league match against Malaga. That match will be played midweek, and the date is not yet fixed so could be on any day between 1st and 3rd May.

FC Barcelona earned a hard fought 4-1 win away at Real Zaragoza on Saturday night. In a competitive match Valdés saved a penalty before conceding to an Aranda header. Barça bounced back minutes later through goals from Puyol and Lionel Messi. Messi extended the lead from the spot and Pedro added the forth.

Barcelona took a long time to find their stride. Zaragoza were tenacious in their attempts to press and win the ball back, and there was also a rugged edge to their game, giving away no fewer than six fouls in as many minutes.

Guardiola’s men were rattled and were finding it difficult to work the ball into dangerous positions. And indeed it was Zaragoza who carved the first big opportunity – when Micael sent the ball in low from the left for Aranda, but the striker miscued his shot.

Messi had a shot blocked, but 20 minutes into the match Barcelona were yet to force a save from Roberto in the Zaragoza goal. At the other end Zaragoza hit the post, and then Lafita beat Valdés to the rebound but was brought down by Barça’s ‘keeper. Turienzo Álvarez signalled what was a relatively clear penalty. Aranda aimed his spot kick towards the right side of goal, but Valdés got across to make a key save.

But Zaragoza continued to break with menace. Just after half an hour Aranda broke the offside trap and got in behind the Barcelona defence. His first shot was saved by Valdés, but the rebound bounced off the striker’s head in and into the goal.

The goal brought Barça to life, and they dominated the rest of the half. Roberto made a point blank save from Alexis, but when the resulting corner came in the Zaragoza ‘keeper’s attempt at a one-handed catch only served to divert the ball down to Puyol’s feet, and the defender was left with an easy chance to make it 1-1.

Zaragoza continued to attack, but it was Barcelona who would score the next goal on the break. After a Zaragoza corner, the away team broke forward with Alexis who carried the ball forward and picked out Messi with a lofted pass across. Messi wriggled past Paolo da Silva before slamming his shot into the top left corner.

A fractious second half saw Zaragoza coach Manolo Jiménez sent to the stands. Neither team could find their stride – Zaragoza looked dangerous early on, when Obradovic volleyed just wide, but Barcelona were soon on the front foot.

Alexis had an excellent chance to make it 3-1 when he was released by a Messi reverse pass and drew a reaction save from Roberto. Later the Chilean forward drew a clumsy tackle from Paredes in the area. Messi powered the penalty into the roof of the net to make the game safe. In injury time Pedro broke down the left, exchanged passes with Messi and tucked his finish neatly past Roberto to add gloss to the victory.

1-0 Aranda (min 29)
1-1 Puyol (min 35)
1-2 Messi (min 38)
1-3 Messi (min 86)
1-4 Pedro (min 91)

La liga 2011/2012 – standing after week 31

April 2nd, 2012

Real Madrid and FC Barcelona remain six points apart at the head of the Spanish League table.

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Barcelona See Off Bilbao

April 2nd, 2012

Barcelona produced a dominant performance to defeat Athletic Bilbao 2-0 at the Camp Nou on Saturday night. Iniesta was in sumptuous form, scoring the first with a powerful shot, and Messi completed the scoring from the penalty spot.

Both Barcelona and Athletic face crucial European matches in the coming week, and so it was no surprise to see some players rested. For the away team Llorente, Herrera and Muniain were noticeable for their absence from the lineup, while Puyol and Xavi sat the game out for Barcelona. Four of those five players had entered the game before the final whistle.

In the first half Barcelona carved a handful of opportunities, and Athletic had the quick reflexes of Iraizoz and some spectacular last-ditch defending to thank for keeping them in the contest. Alves took a powerful shot from at least 30 yards that Irazoz could only palm away to his right. From the ensuing passage of play, Piqué slammed a shot over with his left foot from ten yards.

Later, an audacious quick free-kick by Messi almost caught Iraizoz unawares, but the ‘keeper scuttled across his line to tip the shot wide. Then followed a stunning piece of defending by Aurtenetxe – Messi crossed deep from the right for Piqué, who slid in and connected with the ball at the back post. As the ball seemed destined for the net, Aurtenetxe leapt forward and somehow headed it off the goal-line.

All the same, Barcelona took the lead a couple of minutes later. Messi released Iniesta through the centre on the right, and the midfielder showed fantastic pace and strength to fend of the challenge of Ekiza before slamming an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net on the angle of the six-yard box.

Bielsa threw on Herrera and Muniain at the start of the second half, but the home team continued to dominate possession and create openings. Javi Martínez got a crucial block in against Messi as the forward got shot away in the area. Tello then forced another save from Iraizoz, who managed to get down to his left to keep out a curling strike by the Barça winger.

Minutes later Tello played a crucial role in the second goal. He tricked his way past Javi Martínez, buying a foul from the defender as he sought to pull him back. Messi stepped up for the spot-kick and tucked it coolly in the bottom right corner.

By now Barcelona was in a commanding position and could afford to be more patient in their passing. Llorente was now on the pitch for Athletic, but despite a few counter-attacking forays Athletic were still unable to make much of an impact on Barcelona. Iraizoz had to react quickly to push a deflected Iniesta shot over the bar.

Then came Athletic’s best opportunity – De Marcos strode forward and played it through for Munian whose first-time shot trickled past the on-rushing Valdés but was cleared off the by Pique’s outstretched left leg.

1-0 Iniesta (min 39)
2-0 Messi (min 56)

La liga 2011/2012 – standing after week 30

March 26th, 2012

Barcelona remains six points behind Real Madrid this weekend after temprarily closing the gap to three. However, Real Madrid easily overcame Real Sociedad with a 5-1 win.

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Barcelona Show Steel to Win in Mallorca

March 26th, 2012

Barcelona extended their excellent run with a resilient 2-0 away win at Real Mallorca on Saturday night. Messi scored in the first half with a deep free-kick that missed everybody and went in. Thiago saw red for a second yellow card after the break, but Barça held firm and Piqué scored a crucial winner with ten minutes left.

With a surplus of midfielders and dearth of defenders, it made sense for Guardiola to revert to his 3-4-3 for this game, with Mascherano, Piqué and Puyol lining up at the back. It’s a formation that has proved successful against La Liga’s weaker teams, but Mallorca demonstrated their quality at times in this encounter.

Breaking at speed, and attacking down the wings, the home team almost forced a number of openings in the first five minutes, as Barcelona took time to feel their way into the match. Still, it was Barcelona who had the first real chance – Iniesta fed Messi from the left touchline, and the forward’s attempted chip was saved somewhat fortuitously by the face of Aouate in the Mallorca goal.

Mallorca were still in the game though, and when Victor got to the byline down the right, his cross was met by a glancing near post header by Alvaro, which went narrowly wide.

Minutes later Barcelona were in front. Messi sent in a teasing free-kick from deep, which curled past everyone and bounced into the top left corner. There were two more half-chances before the break, both falling to Alexis. The first was for the edge of the area and deflected off a Mallorca defender before bouncing down and out off the cross-bar. The second was 20 yards and easily saved by the’ keeper.

In the second half the home team continued to pose a threat, and an already challenging afternoon for Barcelona was made more difficult when Thiago, booked earlier for a reckless tackle in the first half, saw a second yellow for a handball.

Guardiola reacted by bringing on Martín Montoya to form a back four, and his team saw out the match in impressive fashion. Mallorca tried to pusj forward for an equaliser but only saw occasional glimpses of goal – Hemed turned on the right side of the box, but his near post effort was easily saved by Valdés.

What was perhaps most impressive was the way Barcelona kept the ball and frustrated the home team. Iniesta was moved to the middle and was exceptional, drawing fouls, making space and finding teammates with remarkable consistency.

He earned a corner with a shot that deflected wide, and from the passage that followed, Barça got the crucial second goal. Piqué passed to Messi, and when the Argentine’s shot rebounded off the right hand post, Piqué was on hand to pass it home into the empty net. There was time for an attack by Mallorca, but Martín Montoya made a smart block to preserve the clean sheet.

0-1 Messi (min 25)
0-2 Pique (min 79)

La liga 2011/2012 – standing after week 29

March 22nd, 2012

With Barcelona winning their match on Tuesday night and Madrid again drawing in a bad tempered clash with Villarreal the gap at the top of the table has been reduced to six points.

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Hat-trick for Record Breaker Messi

March 21st, 2012

Lionel Messi is Barcelona’s record goal-scorer, after FC Barcelona were made to work for a 5-3 win at home against Granada on Tuesday night. Messi got three, alongside goals by Xavi and Cristian Tello. Mainz scored a header and Siqueira dispatched two penalties for the visitors.

Barcelona went into this match in superb form, and wasted no time in taking the initiative against their Andalusian visitors. Within three minutes they were one up – the excellent Isaac Cuenca drove to the byline down the left flank and floated in a deep cross. Messi was at the back-post to meet it and smartly headed down for Xavi who was waiting at the edge of the area. He volleyed the ball into the ground and out of the reach of Júlio César in the Granada goal.

Isaac Cuenca played a role in the build up to the second goal, which followed shortly after. This time he dribbled past two Granada defenders down the left wing, before sending in a cross that glanced off the head of a defender and landed at the feet of Messi, whose first-time half-volley was perfectly executed and skimmed into the bottom left-hand corner. The goal also sent Messi level with César as Barcelona’s all-time top scorer.

Ten minutes into the second half, Granada scored a goal from nowhere – they won a free-kick level with the left angle of the penalty area, just in from the touchline. Martins whipped the ball in, and Mainz climbed behind Piqué to nod the ball into the top-corner. Piqué nearly atoned for his lapse in Barça’s next attack, but his header from Xavi’s free-kick was straight at Júlio César.

Barcelona were then caught on the counter down the left, Benítez got goal side of Alves – the defender’s attempts to win the ball were slightly clumsy, bringing Benítez down, and Teixera pointed to the spot. The only doubt was whether the foul occurred inside the area. Siquera stepped up and sent Valdes the wrong way to equalise.

Really it was it was all building to Messi’s big moment. After a spell of end-to-end football, Alves picked out Messi with an exquisite chipped pass, which the forward pulled down before lobbing Júlio César. It was remarkably similar to his first ever goal for the club seven years ago and made him Barcelona’s all time top scorer on 233.

Fantastic interplay between Iniesta and Messi saw the ball fall at Cristian Tello’s feet insider the area. The young forward took a touch before sliding the ball into the bottom right corner to take the score to 4-2.

With five minutes to go Alves played another delightful pass behind for Messi, who brought it under control, rounded Júlio César and clipped it home. At the other end, Alves was harshly adjudged to have intentionally blocked a Benítez cross with his arm, and picked up a second yellow. Siqueira wrong-footed Valdés with a Panenka penalty and the full-time score was 5-3.

1-0 Xavi (min 4)
2-0 Messi (min 16)
2-1 Mainz (min 54)
2-2 Siqueira (min 61)
3-2 Messi (min 66)
4-2 Tello (min 81)
5-2 Messi (min 85) 
5-3  Siqueira (min 88)


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