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FC Barcelona vs Valencia: Barça knocked off top spot

February 3rd, 2014

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)


FC Barcelona vs Levante: Barça powers through to Copa del Rey semi finals in pouring rain

January 30th, 2014

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)


La liga 2013/14 – standing after week 21

January 27th, 2014

FC Barcelona remains at the top of the table after their 3-0 win against Malaga, now in sixteenth place. The top of the table remains tight though, with Atletico Madrid also on 54 points and arch rival Real Madrid just one point behind. The league is really a three horse race, with fourth place Athletic Bilbao on 42 points.

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FC Barcelona vs Malaga: Barça maintains the pressure to hang on at the top of the league

January 27th, 2014

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)


Levante v FC Barcelona: Tello hat trick helps Barça power ahead

January 23rd, 2014

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)


La liga 2013/14 – standing after week 20

January 20th, 2014

With Real Madrid soundly beating Betis on Saturday and equaling the point tallies of both FC barcelona and Atletico Madrid  prior to their own matches, the competition at the top of the table is really heating up.

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Levante v FC Barcelona: disappointing draw as Madrid closes in behind

January 20th, 2014

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)


Getafe v FC Barcelona: Barça easily qualifies for Copa del Rey quarter-final

January 17th, 2014

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)


La liga 2013/14 – standing after week 19

January 13th, 2014

Saturday night’s goalless draw between Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona means the top of the table is essentially unchanged, with both teams now on 50 points and the Catalans marginally ahead of goals for. The result means Barcelona ends the half way point of the season leading the table, but the remainder of the season could easily go either way.

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Atletico Madrid v FC Barcelona: goalless draw at the top of the table

January 13th, 2014

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.


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