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Gerard Pique out of action for 4 weeks

April 2nd, 2014

Gerard Pique will reportedly be out of action for four weeks after sustaining a hip fracture against Atletico Madrid at the Nou Camp last night.

Pique fell to the ground after just ten minutes play and was seen to clutch the back of his thigh. He then clearly struggled even to walk and, after being attended by teammates, was substituted by Marc Bartra.

This is a blow to the team, currently without Carles Puyol and Victor Valdes through injury.

Source: BBC

First leg Champions League semi-final against Atletico ends in draw

April 2nd, 2014

Atletico Madrid is turning out to be the big rival in the Spanish league this season, although it is still to early to write of Real Madrid, and so it was rather unfortunate for Barcelona to be drawn against them in the Champions League. On the other hand it also presents a chance for either team to get ahead mentally in the domestic competition, with whichever team qualifies for the final surely mentally wired to win the la liga title too.

Looking back at recent matches there is a clear pattern. Since facing Atletico twice in August for the Spanish Supercup and then in January in the league all matches have ended in a draw. In August they first played at the Vicente Calderon stadium, drawing 1-1, followed by the Nou Camp leg of the competition, which ended goalless and Barça taking the trophy thanks to the away goal rule.

And then in January, at the Vicente Calderon for the first leg in the Spanish league, the matched ended a goalless draw again. And so perhaps it was unsurprising that last night at the Nou Camp the match ended with each team scoring a goal apiece.

The beginning of the match began a bit scrappily for Barça, but once they seemed to have warmed up a bit that changed; Pique came off with a thigh injury, replaced by Bartra, after just 10 minutes following a fall, another blow to the squad. After the first quarter hour Barcelona’s performance picked up visibly and began to dominate, controlling possession and ensuring play was focused on the Atletico end. Despite this neither team had many opportunities to score, and the few chances on goal were stopped.

The match was certainly exciting though as both teams were playing well, although perhaps Messi was slightly off. As the match progressed though the referee seemed reluctant to show any cards to the visitors who were going in harder and harder against the Catalans.

Soon after the break the visitors went ahead, when Diego scored following a free kick and Pinto was just unable to get his hands to the ball, which slipped into the top corner. With Atletico now with the advantage, Barça stepped up the pace, with the visitors response being an increase in fouls. Finally Neymar equalised nearly half an hour into the second half and although the players kept on the pressure they were unable to score another to win this leg.

Next week sees Barça travel to Madrid for the return leg, with Atletico having the advantage after scoring away from home. If the current pattern of goals remains then the match will end goalless; however, there is no reason for that to happen and Barcelona needs to focus on getting an early goal to win this round outright.

On social media some Barça fans were complaining that the team lacked the killer instinct last night. I don’t think that is the case at all, apart from a poor start they rose to the challenge and produced some great football. The problem is that Atletico is really on form this season and a true competitor, much more so than Real Madrid.

0-1 Diego (min 58)
1-1 Neymar (min 73)


Barça members to vote on Nou Camp plans

April 1st, 2014

Club members will vote on plans for the redevelopment of the Nou Camp and surrounding area on Saturday, prior to the match against Betis.

The project, Espai Barça, includes remodelling and expanding the stadium to 105,000 spectators as well as providing new offices, a larger Palau Blaugrana holding 12,000, an ice rink and 5,000 additional parking places.

If the project is given the green light by members it is planned for completion in 2021.

Source: FC Barcelona


Valdes’ knee surgery judged a success

April 1st, 2014

Victor Valdes underwent surgery on his right knee yesterday morning in Germany after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in the match against Celta last Wednesday. Valdes landed awkwardly after making a save and was clearly in agony as he was attended by medical staff and appeared to be in tears as he was stretchered off.

The initial assessment of the operation is that it was a success, although he faces a long period of recuperation before he is match fit. The current assessment is that it will be seven months before he plays again, meaning that he will miss the World Cup.

It also means that he has probably played his last match for Barça, given that he was determined to leave the club at the end of his contract this season. While he has sometimes faced criticism from fans when the club was not winning as much as they would like, he has been a mainly consistent and dedicated member of the squad throughout his first team career and will be missed.

Although it is certainly not the way he would have planned on bowing out at Barcelona, it is inconceivable that he will not get the send off he deserves at the end of the season. Barça’s last match of the season will be against Atletico Madrid on 17/18 May and win or lose the title, Valdes is sure to get a huge cheer.


La liga 2013/14 – standing after week 31

March 31st, 2014

Barcelona remains in second place in the league after all three teams at the top of the table won their matches this weekend. Barcelona played first, an early kick off against Espanyol, while Atletico and Real Madrid played their respective matches on Saturday evening.

Read the rest of this entry »


RCD Espanyol vs FC Barcelona: Barça scrapes win in local derby

March 31st, 2014

Saturday afternoon saw Futbol Club Barcelona travel the short distance to Cornella-El Prat to face Espanyol in the Barcelona derby. With an early kick off the match was a tough one for Barça, who scraped to a win thanks to a second half penalty kicked by Leo Messi. Both teams put on a good performance, with Barcelona missing a couple of early opportunities to go ahead, but despite playing well, the hosts were quick to take any opportunity whenever it arose. Despite this the first half ended with neither team scoring.

After the break saw more of the same but as Espanyol’s players began to tire the number of fouls committed against Barça rapidly rose, but it took a handball inside the Espanyol area to provide the opportunity that provided the only goal of the match, Messi calmly putting the ball into the back of the net to put Barcelona into the lead.

Espanyol’s fate was really sealed though when their keeper came forward out of the area and saved the ball, earning a red card. With Espanyol’s substitutions already made it took a while to decide who was to wear his number 13 shirt, with defender Javi López eventually pulling it on over his own shirt and donning the gloves. While they were perhaps the most terrifying minutes of his life, the countdown to the final whistle saw him acquit himself well, stopping the ball twice.


La liga 2013/14 – standing after week 30

March 27th, 2014

The top of the table has changed again, with Barcelona moving up into second place after Real Madrid’s defeat by Sevilla last night. Atletico Madrid’s win against Granada keeps them in the number one spot by a margin of just one point. Barcelona plays Espanyol in the Barcelona derby on Saturday, with Atletico facing Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid playing Rayo Vallecano.

Read the rest of this entry »


FC Barcelona vs Celta: Valdes injured in Barça win

March 27th, 2014

Following Barcelona’s clasico win on Sunday night and a single point separating them from the top two league places it was important to follow up last night with another win and whatever happens elsewhere Barça cannot at this point afford to slip up again and seemed to have regained some confidence from last weekend.

That quickly turned into an early result for the Catalans, when a move just five minutes in from Iniesta, Messi and Alexis saw Neymar score the opener. However, after initial jubilation when Victor Valdes made a save following a free kick awarded against Barça it became clear that he was injured and after receiving medical attention was stretchered off to be replaced by Pinto.

The initial prognosis is poor, with an expected six month recovery for torn knee ligaments and it has been this morning confirmed that he will require surgery. That almost certainly means he will sit out the remainder of the season, his last at the club after deciding not to renew his contract, as well as scotching any chance of playing for Spain in the World Cup this summer. After that bad news both Barça and fans were a little subdued, but just before the 30 minute mark Messi scored the second goal of the night to bring a little cheer to the Nou Camp.

Back on after the break Iniesta was taken off due to a thigh strain with Sergi Roberto replacing him. Celta immediately applied pressure with Pinto soon being called into action and making a couple of great saves. Soon after it looked like Cesc Fabregas had made it 3-0, only to be ruled offside, but then 20 minutes from the end it was Neymar who scored the third goal and effectively sealed the result for Barça. If it wasn’t bad enough having Valdes injured, Pinto looked winded for a few moments after hitting the post after stopping the ball but after ice on his knee he was up on his feet again to the relief of everyone.

1-0 Neymar (min 5)
2-0 Messi (min 29)
3-0 Neymar (min 70)


La liga 2013/14 – standing after week 29

March 24th, 2014

While the Spanish league was just a three horse race going into the weekend, the result of the clasico could easily have turned the rest of the season into a fight between Madrid’s two main clubs.

However, Barça’s win shows the world, and the Spanish sports media in particular, that the club has what it takes to win when it counts and there is now a single point between the number one spot and third place Barça. Whether it silences critics of the club, and in particular of Gerardo Martino, is a different matter though.

Team
P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
1
Atlético Madrid
29
22
4
3
66
21
70
2
Real Madrid
29
22
4
3
80
30
70
3
Barcelona
29
22
3
4
85
25
69
4
Athletic
29
16
7
6
52
32
55
5
Sevilla
29
13
8
8
53
44
47
6
Real Sociedad
28
13
7
8
49
39
46
7
Villarreal
29
13
6
10
49
36
45
8
Valencia
29
11
6
12
41
40
39
9
Levante
29
9
10
10
26
35
37
10
Espanyol
29
10
7
12
32
34
37
11
Granada
29
10
4
15
28
39
34
12
Celta Vigo
29
9
6
14
33
41
33
13
Málaga
29
8
8
13
28
36
32
14
Rayo
29
9
3
17
33
63
30
15
Elche
29
7
9
13
24
41
30
16
Osasuna
29
8
5
16
25
50
29
17
Getafe CF
29
7
7
15
26
46
28
18
Valladolid
29
5
12
12
31
49
27
19
Almería
28
7
5
16
27
52
26
20
Real Betis
29
4
7
18
23
58
19

Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona: Messi hat trick seals el clasico for Barça

March 24th, 2014

The clasico is one of the most eagerly awaited matches of the football calendar, with football lovers worldwide tuning in to watch the clash between two biggest sides in Spain. However, while the clasico is certainly a big deal, its importance is too often seen out of perspective.

It is largely symbolic of the antagonism felt between centralist Spain and Catalonia rather than actually being a title decider and all too often it is a damp squib after all the media hype leading up to the game.

That was not the case last night though and although the season was still a three horse race going into the weekend, a loss last night could certainly have put Barça out of contention for the league title, but the match was exciting throughout.

From the word go play was intense and while Madrid were looking for an early opener, it was Barcelona who scored first after just six minutes when Iniesta put the ball into the back of the Madrid net from a Messi assist. Despite dropping the chance for a goal a few minutes later, Benzema scored the equaliser for Madrid just before the 20 minute mark and then put the hosts into the lead just minutes after. However, Leo Messi scored his first of the night towards the end of the first half to go into the break equal.

Less than ten minutes into the second half Ronaldo put Madrid back into the lead from the penalty spot, although replays showed Alves appeared to bring him down outside the box; that’s the nature of football though and Barcelona has benefitted from similar decisions this season too. Messi equalised from the penalty spot ten minutes later after Neymar was brought down by Ramos, who was shown a red card for his efforts.

Alves came close to scoring with quarter of an hour to go with a blistering shot that struck the woodwork, but the decider came in the last ten minutes after Iniesta was brought down in the area and Messi scored his hat trick from the penalty spot.

The win leaves Real Madrid and Atletico madrid on 70 points, with Barcelona in third place on 69, leaving the season far from decided. A lot of flack had recently been aimed at Barça, in particular coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino, after Barcelona slipped behind Real Madrid, with media stories that he would leave the club at the end of this season, stories denied by both him and the club.

This happens at both FC Barcelona and Real Madrid; but the truth is they cannot be expected to win every single match and, indeed, a club that wins every match is one playing in a league below its true capabilities. Yet the critics are quick to sharpen their knives for the smallest failing and the media talks about the clubs being in crisis.

It remains to be seen whether the pressure on Martino will ease off, but what is clear is that he and his squad can produce results when they are really needed.

0-1 Iniesta (min 6)
1-1 Benzema (min 19)
2-1 Benzema (min 23)
2-2 Messi (min 41)
3-2 Ronaldo (min 54)
3-3 Messi (min 64)
3-4 Messi (min 83)


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