After a week in which it was being asked in the Catalan and Spanish media if Messi had lost his touch after a lack of goals following his injury layoff, or whether Barça’s glory days were behind them under Tata Martino, the squad sent out a clear message in their match against Milan last night.
Barcelona dominated from the start, while Milan opted for highly defensive play making it difficult to get through. In the end Neymar was brought down in Milan’s area and a penalty awarded to the Catalans; Messi ended his goal drought by putting Barça ahead. Busquets also scored minutes after Messi’s first goal, while the Italians’ only goal came towards the end of the first half when Pique deflected Kaka’s shot into his own goal.
During the second half Milan looked to drop their focus on pure defence and started to look at attacking the Barcelona goal. However, with their defence now opened up Messi delivered his second goal 10 minutes from time assisted by Cesc to seal their victory and a place in the last 16.
1-0 Messi (min 29)
2-0 Busquets (min 38)
2-1 Piqué (min 44)
3-1 Messi (min 82)
The result means that Barcelona are now guaranteed to be through to the next round whatever now happens in the group stages, five points ahead of second place Milan. Not bad for a team that some said was in crisis.
With the All Saints holiday on Friday, the Barcelona derby against Espanyol was played on Friday night rather than Saturday or Sunday as would be more normal.
Barcelona dominated possession from the outset, but were unable to break the Espanyol defence. Espanyol enjoyed a few moments of counter attack and came close to scoring after a mixup with Dani Alves, but Valdes made the save. Immediately afterwards Alves came close to opening the scoring but struck the Espanyol woodwork and in the end the first half ended goalless.
Back on after the break Barça looked revitalised and soon looked like they would score, with a Messi header that looked certain to go in saved by the Espanyol keeper, Kiko Casilla, and Neymar had a go at the goal too. In the end Neymar assisted Alexis to the only goal of the match in the 66th minute and while both teams sought to score, the remainder of the match was goalless.
1-0 Alexis (min 66)
Following Saturday’s clasico there has been now let up for the Barça squad, with an away match scheduled for last night against Celta de Vigo. While a number of key players were rested ahead of the Barcelona derby on Friday and the next Champions League clash against Milan next Wednesday, the team got into their stride right from the start.
Once again Alexis showed that his class, putting the visitors into the lead after eight minutes. Celta, managed by one time Barça captain and Barça B coach, tried to apply pressure by moving their defence forward, but the Catalans controlled the match and the home team watched Barcelona’s attempts on the goal coming to nothing, but they must have known is was just a matter of time.
Back on after the break saw Barcelona extend the lead, when Cesc Fabregas hit the bar, for the ball to rebound into the net off the back of the Celta keeper. And a few minutes later Messi set Cesc up to score again, this time cleanly putting the ball into the net.
0-1 Alexis (min 8)
0-2 Yoel (min 47)
0-3 Fábregas (min 53)
The result of the clasico on Saturday was to open up the gap with Real Madrid in third place. Barcelona is now six points ahead, while a single point separates them from Atletico Madrid, who are looking like they are the real competition for the league title this season.
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Saturday was the big one, when Real Madrid visited the Nou Camp to play in “el clasico”. The event is one of the most widely anticipated matches in the world with Spain’s two biggest teams acting out on pitch the antagonism felt between centralist Spain versus Catalonia. At least the days of Jose Mourinho amping up the tension are over though.
Both teams started perhaps a little nervously, with neither doing much at first. And then Iniesta ran forward with the ball passing to Neymar, who scored the first in the 18th minute and the home crowd was ecstatic. It seemed to spur on Barça too, who were clearly in control of the match. It didn’t stop Madrid from making a good effort on the Barcelona goal towards the end of the first half, only stopped by Valdes.
The break seemed to have revived the visitors, with Barcelona not dominating possession to such an extent and allowing Madrid to take another go at the Barcelona goal. Again Valdes showed what he is paid for.
With Alexis on for Cesc, Madrid continued to apply pressure. However, Barcelona once again brought the game back into their control culminating in the 76th minute with the second goal of the night scored by Alexis. As they continued working, Alves came close to making it 3-0, but in the end it was Madrid’s last minute goal that clawed back the scoreline to 2-1. The goal came too late for the visitors though and the final whistle blew to give Barcelona three more points.
1-0 Neymar (min 18)
2-0 Alexis (min 76)
2-1 Jesé (min 89)
Last night’s Champions League group stage match against AC Milan ended in a draw after first half goals from Robinho and Messi, leaving Barcelona at the top of the table for Group H.
Milan came out clearly focused on scoring early only to have their first goal ruled offside. However, a couple of minutes later their determintaion payed off, with Robinho putting the ball into the back of the Barça net. The Italians’ energy soon waned though and Barcelona picked up, demonstrating their usual high possession rate and when the time came, 20 minutes into the game, with Busquets and Iniesta setting up the goal for Leo Messi.
Despite controlling high possession the Catalans were unable to score again, despite some good opportunities. Neymar saw a volley just go wide at one stage but in the end the teams were forced to share the points.
1-0 Robinho (min 8)
1-1 Messi (min 22)
Barcelona’s next Champions League fixture is against Milan on 6th November. Before that we have the Nou Camp “clasico” on Saturday and the Barcelona derby on 1st November.
While eight straight wins for FC Barcelona created a new club record for the start of the season, the dream of a new la liga record was ended on Saturday night when they walked away with a single point against Osasuna. The match was marked by the return of Carles Puyol after months laid off with a knee injury and while the Catalans controlled possession from the start, the Basques didn’t allow them to do anything with the ball when in their area.
Leo Messi, who started on the bench after recovering from his injury, came on twenty minutes into the second half for Xavi, with Tello substituting Pedro almost 10 minutes later but even so, they were unable to penetrate the Osasuna defence. New boy Neymar and Cesc Fabregas both came close to scoring in the second half, but in the end it just wasn’t to be.
The match ended goalless, with a big week for Barça ahead. They play AC Milan in Italy on Tuesday and Real Madrid visit the Nou Camp for the clasico next Saturday.
Barcelona continued their record start to the season under Tata Martino, with their eighth successive win. However, despite Barça dominating possession in the first few minutes it was Valladolid who opened the scoring, with a goal by Javi Guerra in the ninth minute. Alexis equalised soon after but despite the dominance of the Catalans the first half ended with one goal to each team.
Barcelona properly got into their stride in the second half, with Xavi putting the home side into the lead six minutes in thanks to Tello and Xavi, while – with Messi injured – Neymar was pushing hard. It didn’t take long for Barcelona to go further ahead, with Alexis scoring his second of the evening in the 63rd minute after being set up by Neymar.
Just a few minutes later and Alexis returned the favour despite the opportunity of scoring a hat trick and instead set up Neymar to make it 4-1. The squad should be satisfied with the result as they take a break from domestic football while attention turns on the World Cup qualifiers.
0-1 Javi Guerra (min 9)
1-1 Alexis (min 13)
2-1 Xavi (min 51)
3-1 Alexis (min 63)
4-1 Neymar(min 69)
Last night’s win against Celtic means Barcelona are in a strong position to go through to the knockout stages of the Champions League, with the Catalans remaining top of the table after AC Milan drew against Ajax.
Travelling to Glasgow without the injured Leo Messi meant there was some concern, especially with memories of the same stage of the competition last year when Celtic beat Barça in both the group stage matches. However, there was no repeat of that last night, with Barcelona controlling possession as usual and crucially not allowing Celtic the opportunity to counterattack.
The first half ended with neither side having scored, but after the break the home side pushed more, the ball flowed less, and the fouls got worse. In one of the match’s most crucial points Brown brought down Neymar around 15 minutes into the second half. Although the foul looked minor, Brown received a red car; replays revealed that the Celtic captain had kicked Neymar’s back after he had already fallen to the ground.
With the home side down to 10 men and Barcelona pushing, Celtic came close to opening the scoring, saved by Victor Valdes. And then it happened; Neymar sprinted forward with the ball, passed to Alexis, who crossed to Cesc to score the only goal of the match.
In the closing minutes of the match Barcelona maintained pressure on the Celtic goal, but in the end the match finished with just the single goal.
0-1 Fábregas (min 73)
Barcelona’s win against Almeria on Saturday created a new club record for the start of the season, winning all seven matches played so far. The Catalans started the match testing the Almeria defence, while the hosts did all they could to make sure they were able to do little with the high possession.
However, at the 20 minute mark Pedro passed to Messi at the edge of the box and put Barça in the lead. Although Messi might have hoped to do more though, as just a few minutes later Xavi came on to replace him with the Argentine suffering a thigh injury likely to keep him out of action for two to three weeks. And with Messi off, Almeria started to capitalise on Barcelona’s lost focus, forcing Valdes into action at the end of the first half.
Back on after the break Barcelona regained their composure and, back in control, started to slow things down. 10 minutes into the second half Adriano put the ball into the Almeria net for the final goal of the match.
0-1 Messi (min 20)
0-2 Adriano (min 56)