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Match report

Barcelona Take Narrow Advantage into Second Leg

August 24th, 2012

Barcelona gained a 3-2 first leg lead against Real Madrid in the Super Cup at the Camp Nou on Thursday night. Vilanova’s team was superior throughout, notching two well-taken goals via Xavi and Pedro, together with a Messi penalty. But Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a free header at the start of the second half for the visitors, and Di Maria robbed Valdés to score at the end.

In a scoreless first half, Real Madrid were happy to retreat deep into their own territory and try to catch Barça on the break. Barcelona settled quickly, and were soon finding a some space, especially down the left through Iniesta who was in fine form, keeping possession well and making himself constantly available for his teammates. He created the first half-chance when his powerful cross from the left just evaded the boot of Alexis at the back post.

The first real opportunity fell to Messi and arrived after lovely interplay between Dani Alves and Xavi. Barça’s captain for the night sent Alves on a run down the right flank – the Brazilian cut the ball back to Messi, who could only fire just wide from the edge of the box.

Messi then showed quick-feet to dance past Arbeloa and get a shot away, but it tricked low past the right-hand post. On the half-hour mark it was Pedro’s turn to get involved; he drove a left-footed shot in from 25 yards, but Casillas reacted quickly to push it over the bar.

Real Madrid had managed to preserve the clean-sheet going into the break, but were starting to look a little ragged – Sergio Busquets was on end of some late challenges, most notably by Arbeloa who caught him high on the leg with his studs.

The second half was far more gripping. Barcelona should have had a penalty early on when Arbeloa brought him down clumsily next to the byline on the right. But directly after, Madrid opened the scoring with their first real chance – Özil swung a corner in, and Cristiano Ronaldo bundled ahead of Busquets to nod home from six yards.

But no more than 30 seconds had passed before Barcelona drew level. Mascherano found Pedro’s incisive run from deep, and the winger side-footed a clinical finish past Casillas.

Later, after a sustained period of pressure, Barcelona won a penalty when Iniesta was brought down by a crude Sergio Ramos tackle. Messi then found the bottom-right corner with his penalty to hand the home team the lead.

By now Barcelona were looking rampant, and started carving Real Madrid open at will. With ten minutes to go Iniesta cut in from the left, waltzed past two challenges and posted Xavi through for the midfielder to slot beneath Casillas and make the score 3-1.

There was a sting in the tail near the end, when some loose ball-control by Valdés allowed Angel Di Maria to steal in and score a barely merited second goal for the visitors.


Sampdoria Lift Gamper Trophy

August 21st, 2012

A team of young Barça B players and first-team stars making their comebacks from injury slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Serie A club Sampdoria in the Gamper on Monday night. The visitors took an early lead through Roberto Soriano, and despite probing for 90 minutes , Barça were unable to find a way back.

There was barely a minute on the clock when Sampdoria stole a surprise lead. The Italian side worked the ball down the left wing for Obiang to swing in a right-footed cross from deep. Midfielder Roberto Soriano evaded his marker and stooped to head home to the right of Pinto in the Barcelona goal.

The home team needed some time to settle, given its slightly unfamiliar mix of players, and for the next half an hour achieved plenty of possession but not much by way of chances.

Barcelona probed via Afellay, Villa and Deulofeu, but Sampdoria were organised and determined. Villa fired a free-kick over from 25 yards and Sergi Roberto was just unable to make contact with a powerful Espinosa cross from the left.

As the half wore on, spaces began to open up, but not before Pinto was forced into a fine save when Maxi López got free in the Barcelona area. Afellay went close with a long-range drive, and moments later the Dutchman sent Deulofeu through down the left, but Samp ‘keeper Romero was alert to the danger and gathered the ball from the young winger’s feet.

Deulofeu had been quietly impressive all half, and almost scored the equaliser, when he turned the Sampdoria defence inside out down the right wing, but could only sting the palms of Romero with his shot from a tight angle.

Barcelona began the second half at a far higher tempo, and produced a number of eye-catching attacking moves. The pick involved Sergi Roberto and Deulofeu. The former slipped a measured through-ball forward for Deulofeu, but the young winger was once again closed down by Romero.

Deulofeu continued to pose a threat, and raised the crowd’s spirits with his pace and close control, although he occasionally tried to take on a little too much and ran into traffic. Sampdoria on the other hand weres sitting ever deeper, but still managed to create chances on the break.

First Tissone fired over on the half volley as Barcelona tried to clear their lines, and then Pozzi was presented with fantastic opportunity when he raced clear of the Barça defence. He had plenty of time to choose a corner, but Pinto came out quickly and Pozzi’s shot only ricocheted off the base of the post and out for a goal kick.

A raft of substitutions followed, and the Nou Camp faithful got a glimpse of some of the next generation of young stars to be produced by the famous youth system. Among them was Jean Marie Dongou, but the 17-year-old forward only had seven minutes to impress, and by that point the game was starting peter out.

0-1 Soriano (min 1)


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)


Goals from Messi and Afellay see 2-0 win for Barça against Dinamo in Bucharest

August 12th, 2012

FC Barcelona won the last of the pre-season friendlies last night when they visited Bucharest to play Dinamo. The match saw goals from Messi and Afellay, and also the welcome return of David Villa after an eight month absence following the breaking of his leg while playing during the Clubs World Cup.

Lionel Messi’s goal came early on, in the fourth minute, after which Barcelona retained extremely high possession as they often do, but were unable to score. Afellay scored right at the end of the match, in the 91st minute, to leave the score line at 2-0 to Barça.


FC Barcelona v Manchester United video highlights

August 10th, 2012

If you missed the match the other day between Barça and Man Utd, or you just want a reminder of all the best moments, you can take a look at the match highlights video below. Running for 2.5 minutes, it covers the penalties and after match celebrations.


Pre-season friendly against Man Utd sees Barça win on penalties

August 9th, 2012

Barcelona beat Manchester United last night in Gothenburg on penalties after neither time had scored at the end of full time.

The teams faced each other in the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals, with Barça taking the title on both occasions. Manchester almost went ahead in the first half when a Rooney penalty was saved by Victor Valdes. The match also marked the debut of recent signing Jordi Alba.

Manchester missed their first penalty, with Pinto saving the second; Xavi and Pique both scored for Barcelona to give them the match.

Read more here


Barça beats Paris-Saint Germain on penalties

August 5th, 2012

FC Barcelona won their second match under Tito Vilanova yesterday after the match ended 2-2 and going to penalties. The Catalans opened the scoring early on, with a goal from Rafinha, and Messi scored Barça’s second after being awarded a penalty. However, PSG recent signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored from the penalty spot at the hour mark and Zoumana Camara equalised nine minutes from the end.

With the match being decided on penalties, Barcelona put the ball home, which PSG failed to do for their first two shots to make the penalty tally 4-1 to FC Barcelona.


8-0 win for Barça against Raja Athletic

July 29th, 2012

FC Barcelona’s second pre-season friendly against Moroccan side Raja Club Athletic took place in Tangier last night, with a nine familiar faces side by side with B-team players.

Possession was more than 60% throughout the match, a figure that doesn’t seem particularly high, and the Catalans have sometimes had higher possession without the kind of result of last night; a hat trick from Messi, two from Alexis and one each from Dani Alves, Sergi Gomez and Gerard Deulofeu.

However, these matches aren’t so much about winning as providing entertainment and expanding the club’s support. The result should see a few more Barça shirts sold in Morocco, and a successful trip into North Africa.


The Tito Vilanova era begins with a win against Hamburg

July 25th, 2012

Lionel Messi stayed behind for the trip to Hamburg for the first match of the Tito Vilanova era, with the new coach apologising to German fans. Barça’s new coach said Messi was suffering a small injury that was at risk of being aggravated and was therefore rested, hoping to be match fit on Saturday.

Dani Alves, who has recently made it clear that he is currently feeling unappreciated by the club, opened the scoring in the 4th minute, with Arslan equalising in minute 20. And Deulofeu scored Barça’s second after an Alexis goal was disallowed.

At the break Vilanova changed nine players for a very different second half that saw the score unchanged. However, there was a blow to Marc Muniesa’s fitness when he went down with a knee injury. It is suspected that he has torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and will undergo tests today. He previously was off for 10 months after an injury on his left knee.

0-1 Alves (min 4)
1-1 Arslan (min 20)
1-2 Deulofeu (min 36)


Barça marks the end of an era as they win the Copa del Rey 2012

May 28th, 2012

Friday’s Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao at Atletico Madrid’s Vicente Calderón Stadium marked the end of an era, the last match with Pep Guardiola at the helm of FC Barcelona.

Even before it was played the match had been controversial, with Real Madrid objecting to plans to play the match at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium; the league authorities were slow to make their minds up over the date; and in the last week there wasa call by Madrid’s mayor to postpone the match as the date coincided with a pro-Franco march in the city; of course, what could be worse for Madrid, hosting a match between a Catalan and a Basque team?

And then on the day there were reports of  coaches ferrying supporters of both teams to Madrid being stopped by the police and having banners and whistles confiscated! Yes, Spain has a long way to go in some respects as some elements clearly believe they are living in a totalitarian state where such behaviour is acceptable; in the end when the Spanish national anthem was played it was drowned out by the jeers of both sides.

FC Barcelona scored early on with Pedro opening; Messi scored after minute 19; and then Pedro scored the last goal of the match in the 24th minute. Afterwards Barcelona celebrated with Pep Guardiola’s final title for the club after the disappointment of the Spanish League and Champions League titles. And during the celebrations Barça’s supporters started to chant the name of their opponent, as Carles Puyol carried both Catalan and Basque flags around the stadium to celebrate.

1-0 Pedro (min 2)
2-0 Messi (min 19)
3-0 Pedro (min 24)


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