Barcelona opened their lead at the top of the table at the weekend being the only team to win all three of their encounters so far. Real Madrid won their first match of the season putting them on four points down in ninth place. However, it is still early days and there is plenty of time for Madrid to close the gap. Barça’s next match is against Getafe on September 15th. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Barcelona produced a workmanlike performance to see off a gritty Valencia team with a 1-0 victory at the Camp Nou on Sunday night. Chances were rare for both teams, and Barça had to withstand a late push by Valencia to get the win. The only goal of the night was a spectacular strike by Adriano.
In the first half Barcelona were handed the task of breaking down a Valencia team that was sitting deep and defending doggedly. Alex Song made his league debut, and took his place in Busquets’ role in front of the back four.
Barça needed a little time to size up their opposition, but were soon keeping the ball and beginning to find threatening positions. It was Valencia though that created the first real opportunity – Soldado trapped a long pass, cut inside Piqué and curled a dangerous-looking shot just past the right post from the edge of the area, with Valdés at full-stretch.
But for the remainder of the half Barcelona proceeded with relative comfort and were soon finding space. Messi had two headed opportunities, the first of which flew over the bar, but the second drew an acrobatic save from Diego Alves. The threat was growing, but when the opener did arrive, it came from an unlikely source.
Barcelona worked a short corner on the left, and the ball found its way to left-back Adriano, who trapped it on the angle of the area and curled a rasping shot into the top right-hand corner, leaving Diego Alves helpless.
The chances continued to flow – Xavi threaded a fantastic pass that Pedro met on the volley, but Alves got down to make the save. Minutes later Messi put Cesc through on goal with plenty of time, but the midfielder’s chipped effort grazed the outside of the post.
Barça conjured two good chances at the beginning of the second half, but slowly faded. The first was perhaps the best of the night. Alexis worked the ball cleverly to the by line on the right and cut back for Cesc who was in space seven yards out. The former Arsenal man took his shot first-time but managed to clear the cross-bar by a couple of yards.
Then, after a flowing passing move Adriano cut in from the right, where he was now positioned after an injury to Dani Alves, but his left-footed shot was hit straight at Valencia’s ‘keeper.
In the final half-hour the game stagnated. Barcelona lost some attacking cohesion, and Valencia’s confidence started to grow. They thought they had equalized when Víctor Ruíz turned the ball in at the back-post from a free-kick, but the defender was correctly ruled offside.
As the clock ticked down, it was Valencia who created the best chances, but they were little more than glimpses of goal. Víctor Ruíz headed a corner well over, with Valdes looking uncomfortable, and then Jonas hit a volley from 25-yards out on the right, which flew just over the bar.
1-0 Adriano (min 21)
FC Barcelona has started out the season pretty much ideally, with six points out of two games. On the other hand Real Madrid has slipped badly and put them on the defensive. While their draw against Valencia – who Barcelona are playing on Sunday – might have been foreseen, they would have been aiming to beat Getafe. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Barcelona snatched a 2-1 win thanks to two late goals by Lionel Messi away at CA Osasuna on Sunday evening. Barça’s opponents were energetic and enterprising, creating a number of chances in an entertaining and even encounter. Joseba Llorente scored a volley in the first half, but Barcelona fought back in the last 15 minutes. Messi scored a tap in, then curled a stylish shot in from the edge of the area.
Unlike many Primera Division opponents Osasuna try to attack rather than counter against Barça, which, combined with a less than ideal playing surface, makes for a tricky away trip.
Osasuna were positive from the start and could have had a goal inside a minute when Cejudo got away from Pique and unleashed a near-post shot that drew a world-class one-handed save from Valdes.
Barça responded with a chance of their own; Iniesta guided a sublime pass through for Alexis, but Andres in the Osasuna goal was quick off his line to close the angle and make the save.
The came an Osasuna goal – Lamah picked up the ball on the left flank and curled in a deep cross to the back-post that Joseba volleyed in from an acute angle, leaving Valdes with no chance.
Barcelona continued to create chances. Tello drew a save from Andres, and then Iniesta missed what looked like a simple chance – Alexis was released down the right flank and, with just the ‘keeper to beat, squared for Iniesta. But just before it reached his foot the ball took an unfortunate bounce, and was duly sent flying over the bar from eight yards.
Valdes had to be sharp to keep out a low shot from Lamah and then Joseba Llorente’s follow up was blocked by some determined defending. Troubled as they were at the back, Barcelona were a constant threat at the other end – just before the break, Messi rounded Andres, but the ‘keeper recovered to make an important save.
Osasuna continued to pressure Barcelona in the second half. Lamah might have scored after a powerful run and shot, and, soon after, Osasuna almost added to their one-goal lead when Busquets was robbed in front of his area. The ball broke for Nino, who was one-on-one with Valdes, but his low shot grazed the right post and went out for a goal kick.
After key changes and with just 15 minutes remaining, Barcelona finally clicked into gear. After good work by Pedro on the right side of the box, Alexis seized on a mistake by an Osasuna defender, and squared for Messi who slid in and scored from five yards out.
Osasuna lost a man when midfielder Punal was shown a straight red for protesting a possible offside in the build up. And seconds later, Messi had scored again. This time Jordi Alba crossed low from the left and Messi tucked a low strike inside the left post to claim a hard-fought and valuable away win.
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. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
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)
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.
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.
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)