On paper it looked pretty straightforward; Barcelona in the number 2 spot in the league table playing Valladolid, hovering near the bottom. However, football isn’t always as straightforward as that as was proved on Saturday when the Catalans lost out to their hosts.
It seemed that Barcelona found it difficult to properly get into the match as Valladolid went on the offensive and after just fifteen minutes the hosts went ahead. As Barça started to find their feet there were a few chances created, but all the same the squad was unable to do enough to make it count and much of the play looked sloppy.
Things looked a little better after the break, when both Messi and Neymar attempted to draw level. However, still the squad didn’t seem to be able to connect properly and looked a shadow of Barça at their best. In the end neither team scored again and with both Real Madrid and Atletico playing on Sunday the two rivals had a chance to reflect on Barça’s slip up prior to playing their own matches.
1-0 Fausto Rossi (min 16)
This weekend was an important one for Barça, with Real Madrid at the top of the table and Atletico equal on points with the Catalan club. Whatever happened elsewhere, Barcelona needed to win their match, while hoping that the Madrid derby would help out. While championships are never won or lost on a single fixture, the sooner they can leapfrog Madrid and open up the points gap the better.
In the end they didn’t disappoint, while the Madrid derby didn’t quite go as well as it might have. But then again, it means Atletico Madrid are now behind on points rather than behind on goal difference, while Real Madrid are just one point ahead.
Alexis made sure the home side went ahead inside 10 minutes when he fired in a rebound shot by Cesc Fabregas. With possession high as normal, Barça were in control of the game, although perhaps looking a little ragged at times. It took another quarter hour before the next game from Messi, who by luck or design curled the ball into the net from a free kick, way out of reach of the goalkeeper. However, minutes later Almeria got one back from a corner and the break came with Barça just a goal ahead.
Back on after the break Almeria started to look threatening at times, and while both Neymar and Messi both came close the score remained as it was. With Iniesta brought on though the dynamic changed and inn the 83rd minute Messi headed the ball to the crossbar with Puyol put it home to make it 3-1. With the minutes ticketing down it looked as though Barcelona had just about done enough, but three minutes before the end Xavi scored again to seal the win for Barcelona.
1-0 Alexis (min 8)
2-0 Messi (min 23)
2-1 Trujillo (min 26)
3-1 Puyol (min 81)
4-1 Xavi (min 87)
With three teams tying for points at the head of the table it was just a matter of time before the deadlock was broken; this Saturday was when it happened. Earlier in the afternoon Real Madrid had played host to Elche, beating the visitors 3-0.
FC Barcelona’s match in San Sebastian turned out to be a different matter, with the Catalans unable to get fully into the game it and seeming to be lacking. Things started to unwind at the half hour mark when Real Sociedad scored from an Alex Song own goal, but even then it was just a matter of minutes before Messi struck back to equalise.
After the break things went badly wrong. Soon Griezmann but the Basques into the lead again followed by Zurutuza just minutes later. With Gerardo Martino receiving several warning from the ref during the first half he was obliged to sit out the second half from the stands. How much this affected Barça is impossible to know, but whatever the reason the Catalans were just unable to recover from this setback and ended the match 3-1 down.
The result leaves Barça trailing Real Madrid by three points, just ahead of Atletico Madrid on goal difference after they also lost on Sunday. There is still a long way to go in the league and there is still plenty of time for things to change. However, Barcelona can’t afford to have many more matches like that if they want to take this season’s league trophy.
1-0 Alex Song (min 31)
1-1 Messi (min 35)
2-1 Griezmann (min 52)
3-1 Zurutuza (min 57)
Goals by Leo Messi and Dani Alves ensured that Barcelona go into the return leg of the Champions League knockout against Manchester City as firm favourites for the semi-final. Early on Barcelona had close to 75% possession, but despite the impressive stats they were unable make it count.
However, as the hosts got into the match after the first quarter hour they began to threaten and soon Victor Valdes was called into action. Luckily every time he was needed Valdes was there and perhaps he wasn’t always as clean in stopping the ball as he would have liked, he was effective throughout.
Although the first half ended goalless, it wasn’t long after the break before the deadlock was broken when, eight minutes into the second half, Messi was brought down on the edge of the area by Demichelis. While replays showed it was probably outside the area the ref thought otherwise and Demichelis sent off. Messi scored from the penalty spot to put the Catalans ahead.
With one man down Pellegrini made some changes to the Man City lineup, but Barcelona was still unable to do as much as might be expected. The hosts had by no means given up on the match, while Barcelona wanted to slow down the pace as much as they could. Neymar came on for the last twenty minutes in place of Alexis and just as it looked as if Barça was going to win by a single goal a last minute move but Alves and Neymar saw Alves shoot the ball between the keeper’s legs and win the match 2-0.
0-1 Messi (min 53)
0-2 Dani Alves (min 89)
Saturday night was the turn of Rayo Vallecano, second bottom of the league, to play the mighty Barça at the Nou Camp. The first goal came inside two minutes with Adriando showing how Barcelona continued to go on, and although they dominated possession Rayo also had a couple of opportunities that looked dangerous.
The Barcelona attack was relentless though and with the ball hitting the posts time and time again it only looked a matter of time for the second goal from the hosts. Eventually it came when Messi chipped the ball over the head of the Rayo keeper and into the net and the first half ended 2-0.
Back on after the break Barça continued the attack and just a few minutes in Alexis scored their third of the night. Minutes later they made it 4-0 when Pedro scored after a fantastic move from Iniesta and Cesc. Despite the match being well under control, Barcelona maintained the pressure and Messi scored his second of the night.
Finally, just a couple of minutes before the full time whistle, Neymar, playing for last 20 minutes after a six week injury layoff, made it six for Barça. All in all a great confidence booster ahead of their Champions League clash against Manchester City on Tuesday.
1-0 Adriano (min 1)
2-0 Messi (min 35)
3-0 Alexis (min 52)
4-0 Pedro (min 55)
5-0 Messi (min 67)
6-0 Neymar (min 88)
Barcelona travelled to the Basque Country last night for the return leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final, the first leg of which they won 2-0 last week. The Catalans came on with one aim in mind and controlled possession throughout. However, try as they might, Real Sociedad made sure that Barça had little space to make the most of their high possession and were quick to counterattack, creating several dangerous situations.
Messi scored 26 minutes in, pretty much sealing a place in the final for Barcelona with the home team, but despite needing to score 4 goals the Basques kept on fighting to the end. The match was fairly tough, with five yellow cards handed out by the ref, and in the end Griezmann scored for Real Sociedad with a great shot in the closing minutes but there was no chance at all to catch up with Barça.
FC Barcelona will face Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final, currently scheduled for April 19th. That date is likely to change as it coincides with a weekend in which a league match is already scheduled and so something has to give.
0-1 Messi (min 26)
1-1 Griezmann (min 85)
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)