After last weekend’s poor result against Valencia Barcelona stood in the number two spot in the Spanish League table, three points behind Atletico and tying on points with Real Madrid. This weekend also looked like a fairly tough one, with Barça being drawn against Sevilla, in seventh place, while Atletico faced lowly Almeria and Real Madrid playing Osasuna. In the end Saturday see Atletico slip up on Saturday and lose 2-0, while Real Madrid won their match 2-0, suddenly turning the spotlight back on FC Barcelona.
It was the hosts who opened the scoring in a match plagued by heavy rain, when Alberto Moreno shot from the edge of the box and the ball deflected off Bartra. However, they were unable to capitalise on three other occasions on the Barça goal. Meanwhile Barcelona picked up the pace and just after the half hour mark Alexis off a Messi free kick, although it looked like he might have been offside; that’s the way of football though and the ref gave the goal. And then two minutes before the half-time whistle Messi put the Catalans into the lead.
Back on after the break Sevilla had a good go at the Barça goal; the fight had by no means left them, and Valdes was called into action. And then 10 minutes into the second half Iniesta set up Messi to put the visitors 3-1 in the lead. Barça continued to control the game, although the possibility of a Sevilla fight back was ever present but finally in the closing minutes of the game Alexis crossed to Cesc, who scored the final goal of the match and put Barcelona back on the top of the table.
1-0 Alberto Moreno (min 14)
1-1 Alexis (min 33)
1-2 Messi (min 43)
1-3 Messi (min 55)
1-4 Fábregas (min 87)
Barcelona won the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals last night when they defeated Real Sociedad 2-0 thanks to a goal from Busquets at the end of the first half and a rather silly own goal by the visitors.
While at least players and supporters were spared the heavy rain of last week’s match, the football was rather uninspiring and despite dominating possession as usual, Barcelona just didn’t seem to have the will – or the energy – to score. Pinto was forced into action early on and acquitted himself well then on a couple of other occasions, but Barça’s finest just couldn’t get the ball home. Finally with just a couple of minutes to go before the break, Busquets scored. However, during the celebrations Iñigo Martínez was handed his second yellow card of the night for complaints to the ref, a harsh decision if there ever was one.
Back on after the half-time break Barcelona were still unable to do as much as they should have with the visitors a man down. At the hour mark though Alexis made a tremendous shot that looked as if it should have gone in but instead it ricocheted across the goalmouth, was deflected by Elustondo… straight onto the chest of keeper Zubikarai, who was running towards the goal, and into his own net.
1-0 Busquets (min 43)
2-0 Zubikarai (min 60)
All looked like it was going to go to plan on Saturday afternoon when Alexis opened the scoring for Barça after just six minutes. However, despite high possession throughout the match the Catalans were unable to do quite enough and ended the match with their second defeat this season and their first league defeat at the Nou Camp in 25 matches.
Following the early lead in the opening minutes it looked as if everything was going Barcelona’s way and would surely be a matter of time before they scored a second goal. Unfortunately, when another goal did come it was for Valencia at the end of the first half.
After the break things quickly went from bad to worse with Piatti scoring for the visitors three minutes in and putting Valencia into the lead. It still looked as though Barcelona were commanding the match and could turn things around their way. That feeling was reiterated when Messi scored from the penalty spot 10 minutes into the second half to level the score again, but just minutes later Valencia once more took the lead with a goal by Paco Alcácer.
With half an hour still left to run it seemed like plenty of time for Barça to get down and focus, to lay on the pressure and score. However, things were not helped by Jordi Alba being sent off after being booked a second time and despite changes in the lineup, Barcelona were unable to level with Valencia, let alone retake the lead.
The result leaves the Catalans in second place in the table behind Atletico Madrid.
1-0 Alexis (min 6)
1-1 Parejo (min 43)
1-2 Piatti (min 48)
2-2 Messi (min 54)
2-3 Paco Alcácer (min 59)
Last night Levante visited the Nou Camp for the return leg of the Copa del Rey quarter finals, the first leg of which Barça had won convincingly last week and looked certain to go through. The match was played in the pouring rain and I have never seen the stadium look so empty; bad weather and the near certainty of Barcelona’s qualification put locals off and just 25,000 people attended the match and those who did were mainly huddled at the back of the stands in the shelter.
The visitors went a goal up in the eighth minute thanks to a mistake by Sergi Roberto put the ball into his own net, but with possession high allowing the Catalans to control the match it was certain that they would soon score. The first goal for Barça came in the 27th minute, scored by Adriano, followed by Puyol two minutes before the break.
The second half produced a real show for the few people who attended the match. Alexis scored in the 49th minute to a huge celebration from the players; he then scored again a couple of minutes later, starting to make the match look like a training session. The players were relaxed despite the rain, while the visitors looked miserable and the goal keeper clearly just wanted to pack up, get warm and dry and go home. The last goal came from Cesc Fabregas to make the final score 5-1 and ensuring Barça’s place in the semi finals again this year.
It isn’t much fun at the Nou Camp when it is raining heavily and the new plans for redevelopment should at least sort out that aspect of it as it will be fully sheltered. I remember attending a Champions League match several years ago; we were running late and the match had started, but as we approached the stadium the heavens just opened up and drenched everything. Standing in a doorway to shelter from the deluge we made a run for the stadium but once inside found we couldn’t move as the doorways were packed with people trying to stay dry. With no way to see the match we just decided to get a taxi home and watched the second half on TV!
0-1 Sergi Roberto (min 8)
1-1 Adriano (min 27)
2-1 Puyol (min 43)
3-1 Alexis (min 49)
4-1 Alexis (min 51)
5-1 Fábregas (min 67)
After last week’s media circus centred on Neymar’s transfer figures and the shock resignation of FC Barcelona president Sandro Rosell as a result, the focus was back on football this weekend when Malaga travelled to the Nou Camp for round 21 of the Spanish League.
Barcelona narrowly beat Malaga 1-0 in the second round of the 2013-2014 season and with both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid comfortably winning their own matches prior to Barça’s kick off the players went on the pitch knowing that they would need to perform well.
The Catalans piled on the pressure from the outset and came close to scoring early on, but then so were Malaga, who made a few good attempts on the Barça goal. But finally it was Pique who broke the deadlock from a corner, just a few minutes before the halftime whistle to end the first half 1-0.
Back on after the break the visitors came close to equalising, but with the game back under control Barcelona starting working away at the Malaga goal. Time and time again the ball was stopped but it just looked like a matter of time and finally in the 54th minute Pedro scored Barça’s second off a Messi assist.
Six minutes later and Barcelona scored again, effectively shutting off any hope for Malaga. With the result in the bag the pace slowed down and off came Xavi, Pedro and Alexis and in their place came Tello, Sergi Roberto and Afellay. The latter has just recovered from knee and thigh injuries and back playing for Barça for the first time since 2012 after being loaned to Schalke.
This week sees Barça take on Levante again in the Copa del Rey, followed by Valencia next Saturday.
1-0 Piqué (min 39)
2-0 Pedro (min 54)
3-0 Alexis (min 60)
Last night Barcelona made their second visit to Valencia to play Levante in the space of a few days. On Sunday the result was disappointment, with a 1-1 draw leaving Barça tying on points with Atletico Madrid at the top of the Spanish League and just a single point ahead of Real Madrid, but although for a while last night’s Copa del Rey match seemed like it could go the same way a Tello hat trick ensured the Catalans left Valencia looking like they have done enough for the next round.
Early on it seemed like Levante were making all the breaks and the visitors were able to do very little at all. Despite some opportunities Barça failed to score and at the half hour mark El Zhar scored the opener for the home team. Barcelona failed to really rally after this and the first half ended with Levante a goal ahead and the match looking like it could go the same way as Sunday – or worse.
Back on after the break though Barça looked stronger and started to make many more chances, while Levante seemed to have wilted. Six minutes into the second half Messi passed to Tello who shot at the goal only to have it deflected – and Juanfran put it into his own net to equalise for Barça.
That was really the turning point and now Barcelona seemed to have more focus, more determination. Seven minutes later Messi set up Tello, who this time put it into the Levante net. And then twenty minutes later they repeated the act; and again just five minutes later to put Barça 4-1 ahead and almost certainly through to the next round.
1-0 El Zhar (min 30)
1-1 Juanfran (min 51)
1-2 Tello (min 58)
1-3 Tello (min 79)
1-4 Tello (min 84)
With Real Madrid closing in on Barcelona and Atletico Madrid on Saturday to put all three clubs on 50 points however briefly, it was essential to do as much as possible on Sunday. Barcelona played the earlier match against Levante, with the home side going ahead after 9 minutes and the equaliser scored by Pique at 18. Barcelona dominated possession in their normal inimitable style, but with Levante throwing as much as they could into defence the Catalans found it difficult to create any real opportunities. With only one other real chance other than Pique’s goal the first half ended disappointingly 1-1.
Back on after the break most of the play was concentrated in the Levante end. However, that didn’t mean that things went entirely Barça’s way as a) they still couln’t create any good opportunities, and b) Llevante came on strong when they had the chance and put Victor Valdes to the test on two occasions. As the minutes counted down it seemed like Barcelona would pull one of thos last minute goals out of the bag, but it just didn’t come, leaving a worryinging couple of hours before the Atletico result was known.
With Atletico Madrid drawing too, Barcelona is still at the top of the table. However, with Barça and Atletico on 51 and Real Madrid on 50 the second half of the season leaves the three clubs everything to play for.
1-0 Vyntra (min 9)
1-1 Piqué (min 18)
Barcelona made it through to the Copa del Rey quarter finals last night in Madrid after a 2-0 win against Getafe on top of their 4-0 victory in the first leg last week, a match that marked the 700th appearance for Barça by Xavi.
Both goals were scored by Messi, showing he is fully recovered from his injury and back on form, the first just before the break, with the second goal coming quarter of an hour into the second half.
With the Catalans through to the next round the only down side was Neymar hobbling off the pitch about 20 minutes into the match. While it was feared he hard torn a tendon in his knee, the good news is that he is suffering a sprained ankle and so should be playing again shortly.
0-1 Messi (min 43)
0-2 Messi (min 62)
Saturday night saw the two top teams in the Spanish league battling it out with the potential for a points gap at the end of 90 minutes. Barcelona travelled to Madrid to play Atletico, who they are just ahead of in the table thanks to their goal tally, making the halfway point of the season.
Both teams were clearly going out of their way to win the match but despite numerous chances neither team scored. Barcelona, with both Neymar and Messi sitting the first half out, were unable to control the pace of the match as they are so often able to do and Atletico were quick to counterattack when the occasion arose.
After the break Messi came on in place of Iniesta, but the hosts seemed more in control of the match than before, and with Neymar brought on 20 minutes into the second half the dynamic of the match changed, with chances for both teams. However, nothing came off, despite the players’ best efforts and the teams ended the weekend much the same as they started.
Two each from Cesc Fabregas and Leo Messi ensured that Barcelona look like a strong contender for the next Copa del Rey round in a 4-0 victory against Getafe last night.
Cesc opened the scoring just seven minutes in, but despite working hard at finding a way through the Getafe defence and increasing that lead, the visitors ensured the Catalans lead by a single goal going into the break. Quarter of an hour into the second half Cesc scored his second for the night following a penalty against Pedro.
When Messi started to warm up the crowd began to cheer him on, finally brought on for his first match since being laid off through injury in place of Iniesta. Right at the end of the match his moment came, when Busquets and Montoya set him up to score, while Alex Song set him up for a second goal in injury time.
1-0 Fábregas (min 7)
2-0 Fábregas (min 61)
3-0 Messi (min 87)
4-0 Messi (min 91)