FC Barcelona News
Last night saw Racing de Santander visit the Nou Camp in the first home match of the new season, a match that was last lost in 1987. However, the final result is, according to Catalan television, the worst start to the season since the 1970s and a section of the fickle Barça crowd showed their displeasure at the result by waving their handkerchiefs during the match.
In some ways it is hard to see why Barcelona failed to win, as during the first half they kept possession for 80 percent of the match and when losing the ball, recapturing it quickly. However, possession isn’t the same as attacking the goal, and this they did far too rarely during the first half, making it spectacularly dull to watch.
Hleb was brought down in the 36th minute and in clear agony, earning Racing a yellow car, one of several throughout the match. After being attended by medics he was helped off the pitch, limping heavily and it was later announced that he’ll be out of action for some time with ligament damage.
When the teams came on after half time it looked like Barça were determined to do something, with Dani Alves immediately attacked Racing’s goal, although unsuccessful. And when Iniesta was taken down in the penalty area it looked like it would go Barcelona’s way – the penalty wasn’t given though.
However, Barça had clearly ratcheted up the pressure, with a long hard shot from Xavi clearing the cross bar in the 51st minute, a quick flurry of play from Keita to Iniesta to Pedro failing to go in two minutes later following soon after by a near own goal caused by Barcelona’s increased pressure.
Leo Messi was brought in to increase the pressure on racing in place of Keita and immediately got to work, with a cheer of support from the Barça crowd and a couple of fast attacks on the Racing goal. And when Barcelona were awarded a penalty in the 69th minute, Messi was finally able to put the ball in the back of the net.
Just five minutes later though and Racing were awarded a free kick. Hitting the ball hard, it was slightly deflected and completely misjudged by Victor Valdes, who dived the wrong way. Barcelona kept up the attack, but failed to do anything more and the final result was 1-1.
Overall, the second half was much more exciting to watch, and Barcelona’s possession down to 64 percent reflected the fact that they were losing the ball more often to Racing because they were attacking the goal. However, the team is suffering from exactly the same problem as under Rijkaard, regardless of the squad having had an extreme makeover – despite dominating possession of the ball and attacking the goal frequently they fail to score.
Guardiola must have thought his honeymoon would last longer than these first two matches of the season. Hailed as a deity when first announced in the early summer, he has shown that he can’t walk on water after all.
“David beats Goliath” is how the Catalan television news put it, but however it is expressed there can be no doubt that Barcelona should have won this match. Once again the team is playing little differently from under the steardship of Frank Rijkaard, with plenty of opportunities that are wasted. Josep Guardiola needs to make a difference, or his honeymoon period with the fans will be very short lived.
Although there should have been little doubt, Barça qualified on Tuesday night after beating Wisla Krakow 4-1 on aggregate.
However, Guardiola has little reason to celebrate as his squad performed poorly. After the 4-0 home win, Barcelona struggled to win Gamper through sheer luck and never quite got together for the away leg of the Champions League qualifier.
Little seems to have changed in how the squad was performing under Frank Rijkaard, which could mean that Barça selected the wrong manager in Pep Guardiola and he is just as poor as Rijkaard, or else he is just as good as Rijkaard and the problem lies elsewhere. Perhaps that is being unfair on Guardiola and he needs to work with his team a little, but the squad should be approaching the start of the new season in better shape than they have displayed in the last 2 matches.
Barça fans are notoriously unforgiving, and so there needs to be a radical improvement soon.
Other news is that Joan Laporta managed to retain his position as club president after a vote by the club’s super delegates.
The Nou Camp saw an impressive display last night as Boca Juniors from Argentina visited to compete in the Gamper trophy. With a new manager and new players to show off, the stadium was a buzz of excitement, and a display to seemingly compete withe the Olympics opening.
However, after Barcelona’s goal heavy friendlies played recently, the match against Boca must have been a disappointment. The visitors out on a strong display and eventually went ahead 1 goal.
It looked as though it was going to stay that way too. At the end of the second half the teams were given a very generous 5 minutes injury time. Puyol made the most of it and scored. And with a few seconds to go Eto’o scored too.
That’s it for the year, with Frank Rijkaard’s final match as manager of FC Barcelona. The Catalans visited Murcia on Saturday, where they provided a massive goal-scoring display – the final result was Murcia 3, Barcelona 5. In many ways this is the end of an era for Barça – perhaps it fell short of reaching the heights of Cruyff’s dream team, but despite this last season, it has been a hugely successful team. However, the days when Ronaldinho could do no wrong are long past and it’s time for him to find a team where he can return to his former glory; and it is for Barcelona to replan, refocus and build an equally strong side.
Frank Rijkaard’s final appearance as Barça’s manager at the Nou Camp ended in another humiliating defeat for the Catalan club.
After going 2-0 up following goals from Henry and Eto’o , Mallorca fought back and equalised. However, they made good use of injury tim, scoring a third goal in the 93rd minute, securing a victory against Barcelona. The small number of supporters who attended the match showed their clear displeasure at Deco, Henry and Eto’o, who were continuously booed throughout the match.
However, appreciation was shown towards Frank Rijkaard and despite him leaving with Barça in a seemingly poor condition, his time with the club is sure to be remembered fondly once Barcelona has moved on.
Once again Barcelona were humiliated, this time in El Classico at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid. For most of the match there may as well have been three players in the Barça squad, with only Messi, Puyol and Valdes showing any kind of spirit. Goal after goal was delivered by Real Madrid in the pouring rain, so much so it was painful to watch and when Deco was shown the yellow card in the second half, his comment to the ref saw him expelled, surely done to get aware from the slaughter as soon as possible.
The only compensation came towards the end when Messi passed a long ball to Henry, who put it in the net – small compensation for a 4-1 defeat though.
Following Barça’s ejection from Champions League following their defeat by Manchester United and the near certainty of Real Madrid winning the league – which they did last night – the pressure has come right off the squad, although theoretically they should be fighting for second place in the league. During the week we had the news that 10 members of the squad would be put up for sale means that next year the team will look very unfamiliar, surely deflating some fantastically overinflated egos.
So how is it, at the very moment that it doesn’t matter, Barça was able to beat Valencia 6-0?
Valencia certainly have had their share of problems this season, but remember that they managed to knock Barça out of the Copa del Rey.
I ask again; how is it possible for Barcelona to beat Valencia 6-0?
The 1-0 result against Manchester United means that Barcelona is certain to remain with put a trophy this season. Despite playing well for much of the match, the team simply didn’t have the stamina to put the goal in the back of the net, as a 1-1 draw was all they needed.
Manchester played well too, and there is no doubt that they deserve to go through, but this will come as a further blow to Barça which must be planning some big changes over the summer.
Barcelona appears to have given up the fight for the league title in favour of concentrating on the Champion League trophy after fielding a second rate team on Saturday night that lost 2-0 to Deportivo. With Messi spotted at the Spanish Grand Prix at Montmelo and first team goalkeeper Victor Valdes among those being rested, Barça struggled to get anywhere. Let’s hope that this strategy pays off, as Barcelona are now fighting for second place in the league and Tuesday is the big decider in Europe against Manchester United.