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Match report

Champions League dream shattered by Inter Milan

April 29th, 2010

Barcelona was full of blaugrana shirts and the sense of excitement ever present during the build up to the big match at the Nou Camp last night. In the stadium the atmosphere was electric, and despite each team’s strong sense of purpose Samuel Eto’o warmly greeted ex-team mates Xavi Hernández and Victor Valdes before going onto the pitch.

From the start it was clear how the two teams intended to play, with Barça purely on the attack while Inter playing to defend their 3-1 advantage from the first leg of the semi-final.

The Catalans had huge possession throughout the match, holding onto the ball for 75%. But try and try and try as they might, the Inter defense just wouldn;’t allow them through.

Early on, in the tenth minute, Ibrahimovic got a yellow card which looked like it should have been a penalty for Barça, his ripped shirt evidence of who the victim really was. And what could have been the pivotal point of the game came in the 27th minute when Thiago Motta received a straight red card – he’d already got a yellow – for a completely unnecessary foul of Sergei Busquets. After receiving his marching orders, Motta was clearly upset, and launched another attack on Busquets showing little respect for his former team or team mates.

Down to 10 men, Inter continued to defend well. Despite some changes – Maxwell for Milito and Bojan for Ibra – time and time again Barcelona was unable to find the space to work their magic; until finally in the 84th minute Pique put it into the back of the net, although replays show he was probably offside.

Barcelona seemed to gain energy with the goal and kept on at it. When Bojan put the goal in the net a few minutes later it looked like Barça had done it; however, the goal was disallowed for a handball from Touré Yaya.

All in all a great match, with Barcelona fighting until the end. It’s a shame they couldn’t do enough to get that second goal, but they needn’t hang their heads in shame at the result.

1-0, Piqué (min 84)


Much needed boost for Barça ahead of Champions League semi

April 26th, 2010

FC Barcelona held on to all the points on Saturday evening, in an early kick off against Xerez, but with with Real Madrid also winning their match, Barcelona is still clinging onto the league table by a single point.

Although Jeffren and Henry put Barça ahead early on, the visitors continued to make life hard for them until well into the second half – they scored a goal in the 24th minute to narrow the gap to 2-1 and missed two opportunities. However, Ibrahimovic sealed the victory five minutes into the second half.

This was a welcome victory ahead of the Champions League semi-final on Wednesday, when they will really need to pull out all the stops. After their 3-1 defeat by Inter last Tuesday a 2-0 victory is the minimum they need to go through; however, the Italians are unlikely to make it that simple.

1-0 Jeffren (min 13)
2-0 Henry (min 23)
2-1 Bermejo (min 24)
3-1 Ibrahimovic (min 55)

Team P W D L F A Pts
1
Barcelona
34
27
6
1
83
20
87
2
Real Madrid
34
28
2
4
89
29
86
3
Valencia
34
18
8
8
53
35
62
4
Mallorca
34
16
8
10
53
38
56
5
Sevilla
34
16
6
12
52
42
54
6
Villarreal
34
15
7
12
50
46
52
7
Getafe
34
15
5
14
52
46
50
8
Athletic Bilbao
33
14
7
12
45
44
49
9
Deportivo
34
12
8
14
33
43
44
10
Atlético Madrid
34
12
7
15
52
53
43
11
Espanyol
34
10
11
13
27
40
41
12
Osasuna
33
10
8
15
30
39
38
13
Almería
34
9
11
14
34
46
38
14
Sporting Gijón
34
9
10
15
33
46
37
15
Racing Santander
34
8
12
14
37
50
36
16
Málaga
34
7
13
14
38
43
34
17
Zaragoza
34
8
10
16
39
58
34
18
Valladolid
34
6
14
14
34
54
32
19
Tenerife
34
8
8
18
35
66
32
20
Xerez
34
6
9
20
31
59
27

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First leg goes to Inter

April 21st, 2010

Barcelona suffered a disappointing defeat last night at the hands of Inter Milan in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final.

Barça was looking a little ragged at the start and the hosts seemed to have far too much possession at the beginning of the game. However, things looked like they might go Barcelona’s way when Pedro scored a fantastic goal in the 19th minute after Maxwell shot the ball back inside the area; but 10 minutes later and Inter equalised with a goal from Sneijder.

And the second half got off to a bad start when Maicon reached the goal just three minutes in. While Barcelona had some opportunities they were unable to make it count and at 60 minutes Milito scored for Inter, although he was almost certainly offside.

With such a heavy defeat, Barça is going to have to pull out all the stops if they are to have any chance of reaching the final; they need to beat Inter 2-0 next week at the Nou Camp, but to be really certain of defending the Champions League title in Madrid they’ll need to be aiming for 4 goals.

0-1 Pedro (min 19)
1-1 Sneijder (min 29)
2-1 Maicon (min 48)
3-1 Milito (min 60)


Two points dropped in Barcelona derby

April 19th, 2010

FC Barcelona’s lead over Real Madrid dropped to a single point after drawing in the Barcelona derby, while Real Madrid beat Valencia at the Bernabeu.

Barça took the short trip to Espanyol’s new stadium at Cornellá on Saturday, where the first half saw them kept under pressure and unable to find their usual style. There was plenty of rough play too, with two yellow cards handed out to Espanyol before Alves picked one up in minute 24.

Barcelona looked better in the second half, and play started to flow. Even after Alves received his second yellow in the 61st minute Barça dominated, but despite some attempts on the goal they were unable to score for those additional two points.

Team P W D L F A Pts
1
Barcelona
33
26
6
1
80
19
84
2
Real Madrid
33
27
2
4
87
28
83
3
Valencia
33
17
8
8
52
35
59
4
Sevilla
33
16
6
11
49
38
54
5
Mallorca
32
15
7
10
50
37
52
6
Villarreal
33
14
7
12
48
45
49
7
Athletic Bilbao
33
14
7
12
45
44
49
8
Getafe
33
14
5
14
48
43
47
9
Deportivo
33
12
8
13
33
42
44
10
Atlético Madrid
33
11
7
15
49
52
40
11
Osasuna
32
10
8
14
30
37
38
12
Almería
33
9
11
13
34
45
38
13
Espanyol
33
9
11
13
26
40
38
14
Sporting Gijón
33
9
10
14
33
44
37
15
Racing Santander
33
8
12
13
36
48
36
16
Zaragoza
33
8
10
15
38
56
34
17
Málaga
33
7
12
14
37
42
33
18
Tenerife
33
8
8
17
34
63
32
19
Valladolid
33
5
14
14
32
54
29
20
Xerez
33
6
9
19
30
56
27

For info and pricing of Barcelona tickets see the homepage.


Three more points for Barça

April 15th, 2010

Barcelona extended its lead at the top of the Spanish league last night after a 3-0 win over Deportivo. Although the Catalans went one goal up thanks to Bojan in the 15th minute, the players looked tired after their matches against Arsenal and Real Madrid and it was far from clear that they would keep the three points available.

However, in the 68th minute things changed, with a long shot from Pedro that soared through the air and over the defence and keeper and straight into the net. Just four minutes later it was the turn of Touré Yaya to score and Barça’s victory was in the bag.

With a much more comfortable margin both the players and crowd started to enjoy the match more; while neither team stopped trying, a Mexican wave went round the stadium, only petering out as Barça attack came close to another goal.

1-0 Bojan (min 15)
2-0 Pedro (min 68)
3-0 Touré Yaya(min 72)

Team P W D L F A Pts
1
Barcelona
32
26
5
1
80
19
83
2
Real Madrid
31
25
2
4
83
27
77
3
Valencia
31
16
8
7
50
33
56
4
Mallorca
32
15
7
10
50
37
52
5
Sevilla
32
15
6
11
46
38
51
6
Athletic Bilbao
31
14
6
11
45
42
48
7
Getafe
32
14
5
13
46
40
47
8
Villarreal
32
13
7
12
46
44
46
9
Deportivo
32
12
7
13
33
42
43
10
Atlético Madrid
32
11
7
14
48
50
40
11
Osasuna
32
10
8
14
30
37
38
12
Sporting Gijón
32
9
10
13
33
41
37
13
Almería
31
9
10
12
33
43
37
14
Espanyol
32
9
10
13
26
40
37
15
Racing Santander
32
8
11
13
34
46
35
16
Zaragoza
32
8
9
15
38
56
33
17
Málaga
32
7
11
14
37
42
32
18
Tenerife
32
7
8
17
31
61
29
19
Valladolid
32
5
13
14
32
54
28
20
Xerez
32
6
8
19
28
54
26

Real Madrid plays against Almeria tonight, which should be an easy three points, with Barça crossing town to play Espanyol on Saturday night and then heading to Italy for Tuesday’s match against Inter Milan. Espanyol’s keeper, Idriss Carlos Kameni, was sent off last night and won’t be playing in the match against Barça.


Barça back on top after defeating Real Madrid

April 12th, 2010

Barcelona is back at the top of the league table after a classic 2-0 defeat of Real Madrid at the Bernabeu on Saturday night!

Although there are still seven matches remaining of the season, it is a huge moral boost for the Catalans and has really dented Real Madrid’s self-belief. It is always difficult to put “El Clasico” in any real perspective as it is hyped so much throughout Spain, which it so often fails to live up to (although last season’s 6-2 defeat of Real Madrid at the Bernabeu certainly DID). However, Saturday’s match was the forth El Clasico won by Pep Guardiola and Real Madrid’s first home loss this season.

The match started with both teams looking a little desperate and a long way from playing their best. Barça’s first goal came in the 32nd minute from a clearly annoyed Messi, sick and tired of the constant fouling from Madrid.

To me – and I’m hardly unbiased -  it looked like Madrid were going in hard throughout the match, but players from both teams received yellow cards; Messi, Xavi, Alves and Maxwell were all cautioned, but although Ramos picked up one yellow for Madrid, there were two other occasions which looked like they were clear yellow cards and he should have received his marching orders.

After the break one of the heroes of the night was Victor Valdes, who faced dangerous moments in the 51st and 55th minute when Van der Vaart and Ronaldo managed to break through, and then in the 69th minute – it constantly amazes me both when people call for him to be replaced AND that he has never been called up for the Spanish selection. The other hero was Pedro, who scored the second goal for Barça in the 56th minute; Messi came close again in the 77th minute, but his shot was saved by Casillas.

A great night for Barcelona, but not the dismal result Real Madrid seem to think it is. While the teams are arch-rivals, coming second in the league – and it isn’t over yet – hardly counts as the total failure painted by some of their supporters.

After the match there were plenty of fireworks in Barcelona and the party atmosphere spilled over in to the centre of Barcelona where another spectacular victory was celebrated. My own post match party didn’t finish until the very early hours of Sunday morning.

0-1, Messi (min 32)
0-2, Pedro (min 56)

Team P W D L F A Pts
1
Barcelona
31
25
5
1
77
19
80
2
Real Madrid
31
25
2
4
83
27
77
3
Valencia
31
16
8
7
50
33
56
4
Sevilla
31
15
6
10
45
36
51
5
Mallorca
31
15
6
10
49
36
51
6
Athletic Bilbao
31
14
6
11
45
42
48
7
Villarreal
31
13
7
11
46
41
46
8
Getafe
31
13
5
13
43
40
44
9
Deportivo
31
12
7
12
33
39
43
10
Atlético Madrid
31
11
7
13
47
48
40
11
Sporting Gijón
31
9
10
12
33
39
37
12
Osasuna
31
10
7
14
28
35
37
13
Almería
31
9
10
12
33
43
37
14
Espanyol
31
9
10
12
25
37
37
15
Racing Santander
31
7
11
13
31
45
32
16
Zaragoza
31
8
8
15
37
55
32
17
Málaga
31
7
10
14
35
40
31
18
Tenerife
31
6
8
17
29
61
26
19
Valladolid
31
4
13
14
30
53
25
20
Xerez
31
5
8
19
26
53
23

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El Messiah flattens The Gunners

April 7th, 2010

After the 2-2 scoreline against Arsenal last week there was little room for complacency when The Gunners came to the Nou Camp last night. And with Puyol and Pique each serving a suspension, Barça was forced to field a severely depleted defence.

But after Arsenal’s first goal in the 18th minute it all went Barcelona’s way – or more correctly Lionel Messi’s – when the Argentinian scored a staggering four goals for a 4-1 victory taking Barça through to the Champions League semi-finals against Inter Milan later this month.

Click here for tickets for the Champions League semi-final between FC Barcelona and Inter Milan

In some ways the match was a complete reversal of the first leg, with most of the really decisive action happening in the first half. Although Barcelona started off with high possession as usual, Arsenal kept breaking the flow of the game, and the result was a rather scrappy match to watch.

And then disaster struck in the 18th minute with a goal from Bendtner after some poor defence from the Catalans. However, just 2 minutes later Leo Messi equalised with a shot from the edge of the box.

Barcelona’s second goal came in the 36th minute from an Abidal pass in the area, showing the visitors who was in the driving seat. And a few minutes later, in the 41st minute, Messi ran forward with the ball and chipped it over the keeper and into the goal for his hat-trick.

With the match all but decided in the first half, the pace of the second half was much slower. However, Arsenal showed they had not given up and came close to scoring on two occasions. The first was in minute 72, when a Bendtner header struck the post – although even if it had gone in he was ruled offside. And in the 82nd minute Arsenal again came close, with a shot the struck the corner of the post.

With the game looking like it was won, Messi put in a final effort in an amazing display of football. He dummied the ball around the Arsenal defence almost like he was two different players; shot the ball towards the goal, which was deflected by the Arsenal keeper; lined the ball up again and… GOAL!!! It was the goal keepers worst nightmare, straight between his legs.

0-1 Bendtner (min 18)
1-1 Messi (min 20)
2-1 Messi (min 36)
3-1 Messi (min 41)
4-1 Messi (min 86)

FC Barcelona are looking like they’re right at the top of their game, which is good news for the forthcoming El Classic against Real Madrid on Saturday at the Bernabeu. And if they carry on like this they’ll be returning to the Bernabeu at the end of May for the Champions League final.


Barça in top form against Athletic

April 5th, 2010

Barcelona put on a real show of strength on Saturday against Athletic Bilbao, ahead of one of the most pivotal weeks of the season. On Tuesday they play Arsenal in the return leg of the Champions League quarter final; and on Saturday is the showdown with Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.

As usual Barça dominated possession, although there were chances created by both sides. Barça’s first goal came in the 26th minute, when Jeffren scored his first league goal of the season from an Abidal pass. And five minutes before the break came Barcelona’s second, with a goal from Bojan.

After last week’s match against Arsenal Barcelona no doubt we not entirely comfortable with a 2-0 advantage but Bojan made it 3 goals within a few minutes of the second half. And in the 67th minute Pedro, who was brought on to replace a now injured Jeffren, passed the ball to Messi who made it 4-0.

Although Athletic got back into the game enough to score a single goal in the 76th minute, Barcelona’s victory was more than comfortable and must have given a huge confidence boost ahead of their most important week of the season to date.

While Real Madrid remain top of the table following a 2-0 victory against Racing, both teams are now waiting for the other to stumble.

1-0, Jeffren (min 26)
2-0, Bojan (min 40)
3-0, Bojan (min 58)
4-0, Messi (min 67)
4-1, Susaeta (min 76)

Team P W D L F A Pts
1
Real Madrid
30
25
2
3
83
25
77
2
Barcelona
30
24
5
1
75
19
77
3
Valencia
30
16
8
6
48
30
56
4
Sevilla
30
14
6
10
43
35
48
5
Mallorca
30
14
6
10
46
34
48
6
Athletic Bilbao
30
13
6
11
41
41
45
7
Villarreal
30
12
7
11
45
41
43
8
Deportivo
30
12
6
12
32
38
42
9
Getafe
30
12
5
13
42
40
41
10
Atlético Madrid
30
11
7
12
47
45
40
11
Sporting Gijón
30
9
10
11
33
38
37
12
Almería
30
9
10
11
32
39
37
13
Osasuna
30
9
7
14
26
35
34
14
Espanyol
30
8
10
12
22
37
34
15
Zaragoza
30
8
8
14
37
53
32
16
Málaga
30
7
10
13
34
38
31
17
Racing Santander
30
7
10
13
30
44
31
18
Tenerife
30
6
7
17
29
61
25
19
Valladolid
30
4
12
14
30
53
24
20
Xerez
30
5
8
18
26
52
23

For more information on FC Barcelona tickets see our homepage.


Barça outplays Arsenal to 2-2 draw

April 1st, 2010

Barcelona looked like they were going to be a hard act to beat last night at the Emirates stadium in the first leg of the Champions League quarter finals against Arsenal. Within the space of 2 minutes Barcelona had been relentless in their search of the goal and it is a miracle that they didn’t score. In fact Arsenal only seemed to get into the match towards the end of the first half.

The visitors completely dominated, with Arsenal seeming to struggle to know how to respond, but the first half ended goalless all the same.

When the teams came on after the break the match was far more balanced with Barça’s strategy of scoring early having failed. However, Barcelona’s first goal came within a few minutes of the restart, with a goal from Ibrahimovic. And in the 58th minute Ibra scored again, seemingly tying up the result for the Catalans.

However, football doesn’t always work that way and just three minutes later it was Arsenal’s turn to score. Still looking like Barcelona would take the victory back to the Nou Camp, the 83rd minute saw a red card to Puyol and a penalty awarded to Arsenal – a mistake on the ref’s behalf from what I’ve seen.

That gave Arsenal the chance they wanted and immediately equalised to 2-2. Barcelona’s job was now to make sure the held on to that draw for the advantage going into the home leg, but without Puyol and Pique – the latter received another yellow card and will be forced to sit the match out – Barça’s defense will be weak.

All in all a good match to watch, but based on the first few minutes, an unexpected result.


Barcelona scrape victory against Mallorca

March 29th, 2010

FC barcelona retained their second place in the league with Real Madrid after a 1-0 win over Mallorca thanks to an Ibrahimovic goal in the 63rd minute on Saturday. Meanwhile Real Madrid played Atletico Madrid in the Madrid derby, where they retained three more points, beating Atletico 3-2-

Barcelona face Arsenal on Wednesday in the away leg of the Champions League tie, and rested Messi ahead of this important match.

0-1 Ibrahimovic (min 63)


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