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La liga 2012/2013 – standing after week 1

August 21st, 2012

The first match of the 2012-2013 Spanish League kicked off this weekend with Barcelona playing Real Sociedad on Sunday. Some matches were left for Monday, when Barça was playing the Gamper. However, the first week’s league table now stands as below.

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New Era Begins with Goal Glut

August 20th, 2012

New manager Tito Vilanova got off to an impressive start, as Barcelona cruised past Real Sociedad with a 5-1 win, and David Villa marked his return to fitness by scoring a late goal. Messi got on the score-sheet with two, and he was also joined by Pedro and Puyol in the first half.

It was a match remarkable for its landmarks – the first competitive game for Vilanova as manager, while Jordi Alba marked his first league start at left-back. The transition was as seamless as anyone could have hoped, with Barcelona displaying their famous attacking finesse and putting Real Sociedad to the sword.

The first half was a real goal-fest, as Barcelona settled quickly into their possession game, producing lightning-quick combinations and carving the visitors open time and again. Real Sociedad were swamped, but managed to build a couple of isolated attacks on the break.

There were two goals in the first ten minutes alone. First Puyol rose to head in a Xavi corner, getting the better of Ansotegi who vainly claimed a foul by Barça’s captain.

But less than three minutes after going behind, Real Sociedad responsed with a swift attack. Illarramendi received the ball from Xabi Prieto, and spread it to Chory Castro, whose emphatic finish beat Valdes high at the near post.

At this point, Messi entered the game. And with just 11 minutes on the board, the little Argentine grabbed the lead. Pedro squared a short pass for him, and he let it run across his body, bustled past a marker and dispatched a great effort into the top-left corner.

But he wasn’t done there – five minutes later Cristian Tello strode down the left side and although his cross was a little scuffed, Messi responded faster than anyone and fired the ball home with little fuss.

After four goals in less than 20 minutes the game settled into a pattern of Barcelona attacking with a little more patience, waiting for chances rather than forcing them.

The next big one fell to Messi again, after he was set free by a delightful reverse pass by Cesc. This time Bravo saved with his legs. But then, just before the break, Pedro put Barcelona 4-1 up when he coolly tucked Tello’s accurate cross into the bottom left corner first-time after a stylish passage of touch football.

The second half was a more controlled performance from Barça, remarkable mainly for David Villa reintroduction to the team. He scored with five minutes to go when Iniesta dribbled his way to the byline to the left side of the goal and produced a deft cutback for the Asturian striker, who curled a left-footed shot in to the top-right corner.

Before this a stunning passage of one-touch interplay between Messi and Pedro produced a chance that Messi put just wide.

It was a satisfying night for Barcelona and Vilanova, with injuries to Puyol and Iniesta to dampen the mood at the Camp Nou.

1-0 Puyol (min 3)
1-1 Castro (min 8)
2-1 Messi (min 10)
3-1 Messi (min 15)
4-1 Pedro (min 40)
5-1 Villa (min 82)


FC Barcelona tickets now available to order for 2012/2013 season

July 11th, 2012

Tickets for the forthcoming season of la liga, starting in August, are now available from Simply Barcelona Tickets.

The highlights of the season are, as usual, the clasicos, those hard fought battles between Barça and arch-rival Real Madrid. With Tito Vilanova in charge, after the departure of Pep Guardiola from the role after four fabulous years, little is likely to change.

However, fans of the Catalan club are looking for Vilanova to turn around the situation from the 2011-12 season which saw Madrid climb safely to the head of the table after a number of less than spectacular results from Barcelona.

However, that’s all relative as Barcelona where still head and shoulders ahead of third place Valencia. While Barça trailed Madrid by nine points, Valencia were behind them a full thirty points!

Check out Barça’s full fixture list for la liga and reserve your FC Barcelona tickets from Simply Barcelona Tickets this year.


La liga 2011/2012 – standing after week 38

May 14th, 2012

The Spanish League is over for another year, with Real Madrid getting 100 points. While Barcelona trailed by nine points on 91, third place Valencia were 30 points behind. Levante, the minnows that took an early lead in the league finished in a very respectible 6th place, and a place in the Europa League.

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Hard Fought Draw After Alves Sees Red

May 14th, 2012

FC Barcelona closed out their league campaign with a 2-2 draw at Real Betis. In a dramatic encounter, Busquets handed Barça the lead with a header from a corner, but, just as the game was looking straightforward, Dani Alves was sent off and Betis responded with two well-taken goals by Rubén Castro. Keita salvaged a point with a header in injury time.

Barcelona’s first half performance was as dominant as any away from home this season, pinning Betis back in front of the area and defending intelligently on the few occasions they lost possession. Betis were very swift on the break, but time after time Javier Mascherano was in the right position to win the ball back for his team, and make sure Víctor Valdés had nothing to do.

After maintaining pressure from the opening whistle, the away team took the lead within ten minutes – Xavi swung a corner in from the right, which Busquets met unchallenged at the near post to head home into the far bottom corner of the goal and give Barça an early lead.

Xavi had a free-kick from 25 yards, which had Casto worried and hit the side-netting of the near-post. Ibrahim Afellay was impressive in the opening period, demonstrating his pace and dribbling abilities, but it was Adriano at left-back who would next test Casto, when he cut in from the left-wing, evaded his marker and powerd a shot at the right side of goal, which the ‘keeper did well to tip past the post on the stretch.

The first ten minutes of the second half were packed with incident. Keita had chances, first drawing yet another smart save from Casto, and later firing straight at the Betis ‘keeper. Immediately after, Rubén Castro got the better of Mascherano for the first time in the match, but Víctor Valdés showed no signs of rustiness when he rushed off his line to smother the ball.

Then Dani Alves was earned a second yellow and expulsion from the pitch for a wild tackle on Jonathan Pereira as the winger took him on down the left wing.

Guardiola elected to withdraw Afellay for replacement right-back Montoya, and went about the game much the same fashion as before Alves’ red card, but Valdés had to make a reaction save with his legs in the 69th minute when Mascherano deflected a Nacho cross towards goal.

It proved to be a warning of things to come, because minutes later Rubén Castro latched onto a through ball and lifted his finish over the onrushing Valdés to equalise. And almost immediately after, Rubén Castro got in behind once again – this time he was released by Beñat, and found the bottom right corner to give Betis the lead.

Late in the game Messi smashed a free-kick from 30 yards that had Casto beaten, but rebounded off the post. And then, right at the death Montoya swung a teasing cross that Keita nodded down and in.

0-1 Busquets (min 8)
1-1 Rubén Castro (min 70)
2-1 Rubén Castro (min 73)
2-2 Keita (min 91)


La liga 2011/2012 – standing after week 37

May 7th, 2012

The Spanish league table after Pep Guardiola’s last home match as manager of Barcelona.

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Camp Nou Says ‘Thanks’ to Pep

May 7th, 2012

The Camp Nou said a fond farewell to Pep Guardiola on Saturday night after Barcelona defeated Espanyol 4-0, with Lionel Messi grabbing all four goals. The Argentine got two from the penalty spot, one from a free-kick and another after latching onto a long pass.

Before Barcelona’s final home game of the season, the Camp Nou took the opportunity to thank Pep Guardiola for four seasons of unrivalled success, unfurling a giant banner with “We Love You, Pep” in Catalan. The visit of Espanyol offered an opportunity to bring his tenure as coach to a close with a win against one of the club’s two biggest rivals.

The first half was largely a quiet affair, though Barcelona were in near constant control. After a tentative opening, Messi jolted the game to life in the 11th minute when he curled a 25-yard free-kick past Cristian Alvarez to score his 47th goal in the league this season.

For much of the rest of the half Barça dominated possession, but Espanyol were resolute in defence and kept clear opportunities to a minimum.

Barcelona were equally watertight at the back, but going forward found their best chances coming from direct free-kicks. Iniesta forced Cristian Álvarez to make an excellent low diving save to keep out a free-kick destined for the bottom-right corner, and on the stroke of half-time another fine effort by Messi from the left hit the side-netting past the left post of the goal.

The home team’s superiority continued into the second half, and Barça began to get closer to the Espanyol goal, with Iniesta seeing two shots go narrowly wide – once after being put through by Pedro and later when a close range effort was deflected past the near post by an Espanyol defender after good interplay with Adriano.

Then in the 63rd minute Messi won a penalty. In a relatively debatable decision, Barça’s number 10 flicked the ball up and it caught the elbow of Cristian Gómez as he attempted to block. Messi scored his 48th of the season as he waited for the ‘keeper to move before sending the ball home off the right hand post.

Over the next ten minutes Espanyol enjoyed their best spell of the game when Forlín drove a volley at goal that Pinto pushed just wide of his right post, and later Mascherano produced a fantastic goal-line clearance after Weiss had got the better of Pinto.

But immediately after, Messi chested a long diagonal pass down, outpaced Víctor Sánchez and found the bottom right corner with a cool finish. The celebrations had barely finished when Busquets was felled in the penalty area by Forlín. Once again Messi stepped up to take the spot-kick and smashed the ball into the net to claim his 50th league goal of the season. The entire team then ran across to Pep Guardiola to celebrate together. And at full-time Guardiola took to the centre-circle to say goodbye to the fans amid emotional scenes.

1-0 Messi (min 11)
2-0 Messi (min 62)
3-0 Messi (min 72)
4-0 Messi (min 77)


La liga 2011/2012 – standing after week 36(2)

May 3rd, 2012

While Barcelona convincingly beat Malaga last night, Real Madrid took the league title after beating Athletic Bilbao 3-1. However, not all is lost as Lionel Messi leads the goal tally in the league, two ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo who has scored 44 this season.

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Record-breaking Messi Leads the Way

May 3rd, 2012

Barcelona beat Málaga CF 4-1 in an entertaining match at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night. Despite winning two controversial penalties Barça sparkled in attack all evening, with Iniesta and Messi particularly impressive. The diminutive Argentine got a hat-trick to take his tally to a European record-breaking 46, boosting his claims for this season’s Pichichi Trophy, after Puyol scored the first from an Inesta cross. Málaga did create chances, and got their only goal from a header by Rondón.

It was a match with more riding on it than met the eye – Barcelona wanted to make Real Madrid work for their title, while Málaga maintained Champions League aspirations after a successful season on the back of a large investment by their Qatari owners.

The opening was slightly muted, but Barça were shaken on the 11th minute when a ferocious Duda free-kick flew past Pinto but rebounded off the right hand post. In the next passage of play Barça won a corner through a deflected effort by Cesc – it was taken short, and Messi released Iniesta with a clever reverse pass. Iniesta crossed it low and hard from the right, and Carles Puyol coolly turned it in to make it 1-0.

There followed a period of confident attacking play by the home team, but this spell of dominance was broken in the 26th minute when a cross from deep by Jesús Gámez was met with a powerful diving header by Rondón, which left Pinto with no chance as it zipped into the bottom left corner.

Once again, Barcelona responded quickly, and a jinking run by Iniesta was halted by a late Gámez tackle on the edge of the area. Whether it was a penalty was debatable, but referee Turienzo Álvarez pointed to the spot and Messi, anticipating Kameni’s early dive, nonchalantly rolled the penalty down the middle of the goal. Late in the half Cesc displayed excellent defensive instincts to block a shot by Duda after a mistimed punch by Pinto.

15 minutes into the second half Barcelona won another penalty – this time Duda was adjudged to have brought down Messi, but replays suggested the tackle might have been legitimate. Nevertheless Messi was efficient from the spot once again, smashing the ball into the top right corner.

Málaga then had a good chance fluffed by van Nistelrooy, on for Rondón, before Messi extended the home team’s lead with a fantastic goal. On the counter, Iniesta played a magnificent through-ball that breached two banks of Málaga defenders, finding Messi, who powered forward, flicked it over the advancing Kameni and passed it into the empty net.

From then on Barcelona were comfortable, as Málaga attempted to chase the game. Tello stretched the opposition defence after a couple of counter attacks, but the remainder of the match was played out in the home team’s half as Barcelona soaked up the opposition’s pressure, with Pinto only needing to make one save, from a late van Nistelrooy volley.

1-0 Puyol (min 13)
1-1 Salomón (min 25)
2-1 Messi (min 34)
3-1 Messi (min 57)
4-1 Messi (min 63)


La liga 2011/2012 – standing after week 36

April 30th, 2012

With the pressure of Barcelona scored an impressive 7-0 win against Rayo, depriving Real Madrid of the pleasure of taking the title this weekend.

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