Barcelona were considered the underdogs going into the Champions League semi-finals but few would have expected their complete and utter defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich last night. April 23rd is celebrated in Catalonia as the diada de Sant Jordi – St George’s Day – but few would have felt there much much to celebrate last night.
With Lionel Messi back in the squad there at least seemed a chance that the Catalans could walk away with a chance. However, despite high possession throughout the match, Bayern showed their own class and simply outplayed the visitors. Soon after kickoff it became clear that parts of the pitch were completely sodden with water. It was also made clear that Bayern meant business when Victor Valdes was called into action within the first couple of minutes and the visitors were also lucky not to concede a couple of penalties for hand ball, first by Gerard Pique and later by Alexis.
In the end it took Bayern 24 minutes to score the first of the night, with Barcelona having made no serious attempt at the German’s goal. However, after the break came the real onslaught; Bayern’s second goal came in the 47th minute, the third in the 71st and the final goal of the night in the 80th. The second goal looked like it may have been offside and the third followed an unnoticed foul against Barça, but given that the two handballs earlier hadn’t been seen either Barça has little to complain about.
The only hope for Barça towards the end was to score an away goal hoping to overpower the Germans in the home leg, but that was not to be. It will be a difficult task ahead in a week’s time and the chances of Barcelona now qualifying for the final look slight.
1-0 Müller (min 24)
2-0 Mario Gómez (min 47)
3-0 Robben (min 71)
4-0 Müller (min 80)
Saturday night saw Levante visit the Nou Camp ahead of the Champions League clash on Tuesday against Bayern Munich. Theoretically a straightforward match, Levante ensured that they did everything to stop the Catalans getting through despite controlling possession as normal.
Lionel Messi is still off while recovering from his injury, but up front Tito Vilanova played Cesc Fabregas and David Villa. However, the game was slow and Levante’s defence stopped them getting through for any real chances and when Thiago had a chance the Levante keeper made a good save; soon after Iniesta was brought down inside the box, but the resulting penalty by Villa was deflected and a follow up from Cesc stopped too.
After the break Xavi came on in place of Iniesta and the pace picked up a little. However, only after Alexis came on that he came close to setting up Villa, but finally in the 82nd minute it was Alexis that set up Cesc to score the only goal of the match.
1-0 Fábregas (min 82)
Barcelona finished the weekend with another three points in the bag after a 3-0 away win against Zaragoza on Sunday evening. Despite some of the big names missing from the squad, including Messi and Iniesta, Barça dominated possession in their normal manner.
However, as is too often the case, the Catalans were frustrated in converting the high possession into goals early in the match, until finally Thiago opened the scoring in the 19th minute. However, Tello ensured Barça finished the first half two goals ahead with a goal in the 38th minute set up by Thiago and Alexis.
Back on for the second half, it looked only a matter of time before Barcelona scored again. Tello scored his second of the match in minute 53, firmly sealing victory for FC Barcelona.
0-1 Thiago (min 19)
0-2 Tello (min 38)
0-3 Tello (min 53)
The first leg of the Champions League quarter final proved to be rather controversial, with FC Barcelona making a formal complaint against the referee for a number of technical errors on his part that disadvantaged the Catalans, while Paris Saint-Germain’s first goal was clearly offside and added to that was an injury sustained by Lionel Messi making his appearance in the home leg doubtful; in the end he started on the bench.
PSG came on fighting and it was clear from the start that there were not going to be intimidated simply because the match was at the Nou Camp and it looked for a long time as if it would be they, rather than Barcelona who might go through to the next round. While the first half ended goalless, after the break it took just a few minutes for the visitors to break the deadlock with a goal by Pastore. However, it didn’t really change the balance of the game as Barça still needed just a single goal to clinch their place in the semi-final.
However, once Messi came on at the hour mark the whole dynamic of the match seemed to change. While perhaps not at his best, Messi seemed to be everywhere and it was he who set up the equaliser, assisted by Villa and put into the net by Pedro. In last 20 minutes PSG knew they needed to score again, while Barcelona had to prevent them from doing so as they’d then need to score 2 more to qualify.
In the end the match ended 1-1 to put Barcelona through to the semi-finals for the sixth successive season, a record.
0-1 Pastore (min 49)
1-1 Pedro (min 70)
FC Barcelona celebrated both Tito Vilanova and Eric Abidal’s return to the Nou Camp on Saturday night with a spectacular 5-0 against Mallorca. The Barça coach has recently returned from New York where he was receiving treatment for cancer of the salivary duct, while Abidal came on in the second half for the first time since his liver transplant last year.
With Messi out of action after the draw against Paris Saint-Germain last Tuesday and with the return leg of the Champions League quarterfinal on Wednesday some of the big guns were missing from the squad. However, Iniesta came on as captain while Cesc slotted in to replace Messi.
In fact by the half time whistle with Barça four goals ahead the match was all but over with two each from Cesc and Alexis. After the break Cesc scored his hattrick immediately to make it 5-0. While that was to be the last goal of the match, another highlight was when Eric Abidal came replace Gerard Pique in the 69th minute to huge cheers from the crowd.
1-0 Fábregas (min 19)
2-0 Alexis (min 21)
3-0 Fábregas (min 36)
4-0 Alexis (min 37)
5-0 Fábregas (min 45)
Barcelona walked away frustrated following last night’s Champions League match against Paris Saint-Germain after dominating possession throughout the match didn’t quite prove enough against some poor refereeing decisions, a goal awarded to Ibrahimovic that looked to be offside and a last minute equaliser from Matuidi.
The hosts started out strong and Valdes was forced repeatedly into action, but soon the Catalans looked brighter and when PSG failed to clear a corner, Dani Alves passed it to Leo Messi in the box, who almost effortlessly landed in the back of the net to open the scoring. However, Messi was soon in trouble and was substituted for the second half after suffering a hamstring injury; early reports suggest he’ll be out of action for three weeks.
After the break Barça continued to dominate until the last quarter hour when Valdes was called upon again to stop Paris Saint-Germain from scoring. Eventually though, after an absurd moment when Alba and Mascherano collided and were sent off the pitch for treatment, Ibrahimovic did score despite being well offside.
However, an attack on the PSG goal saw Alexis brought down by the goalkeeper and Barcelona again went ahead thanks to Xavi’s penalty kick. It looked like the clock was counting down to another Barça win, but a last minute goal from Matuidi that Valdes just couldn’t get his hands to saw the result reduced to a draw.
However, FC Barcelona will go into the second leg with a clear advantage thanks to the two away goals.
0-1 Messi (min 37)
1-1 Ibrahimovic (min 80)
2-1 Xavi (min 90)
2-2 Matuidi (min 94)
Ahead of their Champions League match against Paris Saint Germain, Barcelona fielded a squad with a number of less familiar faces against Celta de Vigo on Saturday night, while Abidal appeared on the bench for the first time following his liver transplant last April.
Barça dominated possession in their usual manner they were prevented from doing much with the ball by Celta who started pressurising early on and eventually it was Celta who opened the scoring after 37 minutes. However, that lead didn’t last long, with Tello equalising for the Catalans 5 minutes later.
Back on after the break, it wasn’t until 20 minutes from time that Messi put Barcelona in the lead, meaning he has scored against every single team in Spain’s top league. However, Oubiña scored a few minutes before the end leaving Barça with a draw.
1-0 Natxo Insa (min 37)
1-1 Tello (min 42)
1-2 Messi (min 71)
2-2 Oubiña (min 86)
The position at the head of the table remains unchanged, with Barcelona 13 points clearn of Real Madrid, with a single point separating them from Atletico. Barcelona is a full 27 points in front of fourth place Real Sociedad.
After knocking out AC Milan from Champions League last week, FC Barcelona seems to be back on form and fully recovered from their dip in performance against Real Madrid recently.
It was the turn of Rayo Vallecano to visit the haloed turf of the Nou Camp and both sides went out of their way to score. Rayo is currently half way down the table, but came on playing to win. In the end though it was Barcelona, with Puyol and Xavi off through injury, who went ahead. First a goal from Villa and then from Messi a few minutes from the break. And back on again Messi again to make it 3.
Tamudo scored in the 69th minute for the visitors, but by then it was too late to stage a comeback and the match edned 3-1. With the first captains off through injury or, in the case of Victor Valdes, suspension the captaincy was handed to Inieta. When he came off the armband was handed to Leo Messi, his first ever time as Barça captain.
1-0 Villa (min 24)
2-0 Messi (min 39)
3-0 Messi (min 56)
3-1 Tamudo (min 69)
FC Barcelona overcame the odds last night to turn around their 2-0 defeat in the first leg of the Champions League knockout stage by Milan three weeks ago and make it through to the quarter finals with flying colours. The result of the first leg meant they had to make it 3-0 or better to ensure their place, a feat which according to Sky News had never been done before.
What was clear was that the squad came into the stadium intending to do all they could towards winning, whether or not it had been done before. Very quickly the Catalans showed who was in charge and Lionel Messi scored the first goal in the fourth minute. Soon after Milan had one of their only chances on an open Barcelona goal, which went badly wrong for the Italians when it rebounded off the post instead.
Four minutes before the half time break Messi scored his second of the night to at least put them on an even footing with Milan, a virtual reset for the second half.
Back on after the break, Villa soon made it three goals for Barcelona. Although it was still a good result, it would only take a goal from the visitors to take this round still and so Barcelona contunued pushing.
And in the closing minutes of the goal, that twilight period where things ciould easily have gone astray with a break from Milan, it was Jordi Alba who signed and sealed the result for Barça, with an injury time goal that made the 95,000 strong crowd ecstatic. Last night’s result makes it the sixth successive year that the Catalans have made it thorugh to the quarterfinals.
1-0 Messi (min 4)
2-0 Messi (min 38)
3-0 Villa (min 54)
4-0 Jordi Alba (min 92)