FC Barcelona News
In one of the final matches of Guardiola’s tenure, FC Barcelona rediscovered their attacking verve, defeating lowly Rayo Vallecano 7-0 in Madrid on Sunday night. Messi grabbed two and he was joined on the score-sheet by Keita, Pedro (2) and Thiago, while Rayo left-back Rober scored an own-goal trying to clear a shot by Alexis.
Guardiola took the opportunity to rest a handful of players who have looked a little tired over the last few weeks. Pinto was in for Víctor Valdés, while Xavi, Cesc, Dani Alves and Iniesta all started on the bench. After a traumatic week it took a while for Barcelona to find their feet against a side battling against relegation.
But sure enough, Barcelona’s game regained its familiar fluidity, and they got a goal with their first shot on target – an incisive passing move saw Alexis find Pedro free on the right side of the area, and his low cross was perfectly weighted for Messi to finish at the back post.
Barcelona were dominating though, and doubled their lead when Keita threaded a delightful pass through for Alexis. The Chilean forward dribbled round the onrushing Cobeño and tried to turn it into the goal from a tight angle on the left. His shot was heading wide, but as left-back Rober slid in to block he succeeded only in turning the ball into the goal, and managed to injure himself as he collided with the post.
The third followed shortly before half-time, and was crafted by Messi, who cut in from the right, beat three defenders and played it through for Keita who tucked it beneath the ‘keeper.
The second half was barely underway before Barça added to their tally – Alexis bustled down the left before picking out Messi all alone in the area. The Argentine’s close-range shot hit the cross bar, but Pedro was free to follow up and make it 4-0.
Much of the remainder of the second half was subdued, with Barcelona waiting for opportunities rather than take the attacking initiative. Rayo had their moments, particularly through the ever-lively Lass Bangoura, who embarked on one run from the left that beat two Barça defenders before his powerful shot drew another reaction save from Pinto.
Later there was time for Ibrahim Afellay to make a long awaited comeback from injury as he took the place of Sergio Busquets with 20 minutes to go. Soon after, Thiago made it five, when he arrived late to nod Alves’ cross down and in off the post from 16 yards. With the minutes ticking down, Messi flicked a looping pass into the inside-left channel for Pedro, who brought it under control and drove it below Cobeño for his second of the night.
Immediately after Messi added a seventh as Rayo completely fell apart in defence. Pedro got loose in the area, and cut the ball back for Messi, who coolly passed it into the bottom corner to seal an overwhelming victory for Barça.
Barcelona are out of the UEFA Champions League after drawing 2-2 with 10-man Chelsea at the Camp Nou. In an eventful match Barça were unable to capitalise on their dominance– they went 2-0 up through goals by Busquets and Iniesta, but were pegged back on the stroke of half time by a goal from Ramires. In the second half Barcelona attacked relentlessly, but couldn’t score the crucial third, and collapsed at the end to a breakaway Torres goal.
The first half was as dramatic as any at the Camp Nou this season. It started with Barcelona exerting near constant pressure on the Chelsea defence. And the first chance arrived within three minutes, when quick interplay between Messi and Sánchez saw Messi through against Cech, but the Argentine slammed his right-footed effort into the side-netting.
Soon after, Valdés had to clear a long-ball by Petr Cech, but in doing so crashed into Piqué, knocking him out cold. The centre-half would go on to play ten more minutes before getting withdrawn.
At the other end Messi drew a smart close range stop from Cech and Cesc volleyed wide after a clever ball over the top by Cuenca. But the pressure was starting to tell now, and just after the thirty-minute mark Barcelona took the lead. Alves, on for Piqué, released Cuenca on the right, who crossed low for Busquets to arrive late and slot home.
The remainder of the half was full of incident – first John Terry inexplicably kicked Alexis off the ball, earning a red card. Then with Chelsea caught high up the pitch and trying to recover, Alexis laid the ball off for Messi, who threaded it through down the left for Iniesta, who in turn made no mistake with an elegant side-footed finish into the bottom right corner.
But then, as half time beckoned, Chelsea scored a goal from nowhere. Lampard spotted Ramires’ run, and the Brazilian produced a deft chip which looped over Valdés and down into the net. The goal put Chelsea back in the lead in the tie on away goals.
In the second half Chelsea defended in a 6-3 formation and Barcelona toiled to find gaps, but few were forthcoming.
On one of the rare occasions that Barcelona managed to draw Chelsea players out of position, Cesc flicked the ball away from Drogba on the right side of the area, earning a penalty from the forward’s lunge. Messi stepped up but drove his spot-kick onto the cross bar and out.
After the penalty Barcelona appeared to be discouraged, and found it increasingly difficult to carve open the massed Chelsea ranks – Messi cut in from the right and hit the bottom of the post from outside the area, and Cuenca forced a stop from Cech. Any hopes of qualifying were wiped out by Torres’ goal when Barça had committed the whole team forward. A long kick downfield left the Spanish forward one-on-one with Valdes, and he rounded the ‘keeper before passing it in.
1-0 Busquets (min 34)
2-0 Iniesta (min 43)
2-1 Ramires (min 45)
2-2 Fernando (min 92)
Barcelona’s defeat at the hands of Madrid on Saturday night effectively ended any hope of overtaking their arch-rival in the Spanish League this season. Read the rest of this entry »
Barcelona effectively conceded the title on Saturday evening, losing 1-2 to Real Madrid at the Camp Nou. Real Madrid took the lead through Khedira after a slip by Valdés. From there Barcelona fought gamely and eventually equalised via Alexis in the 70th minute. But immediately after the goal Real Madrid regained the lead through Cristiano Ronaldo.
The first half got off to a frantic pace, with Real Madrid once again pressing Barcelona high up the pitch, but quickly getting back into position when Barça had the ball. It was the away team that settled earlier – in the first five minutes Cristiano Ronaldo nodded a header down onto the top Puyol’s head, and looked destined for the top-right corner before Valdés tipped it over the bar acrobatically.
Alves almost got a shot away after he intercepted a pass between two Madrid defenders, but Casillas was quick to come out and block him off. Cristian Tello was lively on Barcelona’s left flank throughout the half, and had Barcelona’s first telling effort when cut inside a defender but saw his shot across the goal well saved by Casillas
But as Barcelona appeared to be finding their feet, Real Madrid scored from a corner – Di Maria swung the ball in deep from the left, Pepe got up at the back post and headed it across the six yard box. Valdes spilled the ball and Puyol attempted to cover, but was outmuscled by Khedira who scooped the ball into the net.
After the goal Real Madrid retreated into their half and put the onus on Barcelona to try and break them down. Ten minutes after the opener Xavi had a golden opportunity to make it 1-1. Messi slipped a sublime reverse pass through, and Xavi had plenty of time one-on-one, but saw his shot narrowly roll past the left post after a small deflection off Casillas.
The second half saw Barcelona completely dominate territory and possession, as Real Madrid held their shape and attempted to buy time at every opportunity. Chances were limited for either side, and after 25 minutes the closest Barça had come was via a Xavi shot that zipped just past the left post.
Soon after though, Barcelona were on level terms. Stylish build-up play from Messi and Iniesta brought the ball to Tello’s feet. His shot was well saved by Casillas, but Busquets sent the ball back towards the goal, and Alexis was on hand to force the ball home after a goal-line scramble.
At this stage it seemed likely that Barcelona would take the upper hand, but directly after the goal Real Madrid had regained the upper hand. This time Özil received the ball on the right touchline, and sent a smart, angled pass in behind for Cristiano, who took it on, rounded Valdes to the right and tucked his shot home.
Stifled by Madrid’s dogged defending, Barcelona were unable to rouse themselves and were unable to muster another chance before full-time.
0-1 Khedira (min 16)
1-1 Alexis (min 69)
1-2 Cristiano (min 72)
Barcelona will have to overcome a one-goal deficit to proceed to the Champions League Final, after losing the first leg 1-0 to Chelsea. Barça completely dominated the first half, but fluffed a number of openings and were hit by a sucker punch from Didier Drogba just before the break. The second half was more subdued, but Barcelona managed to create a couple of chances, most notably in the very last minute when Busquets failed to put away a straightforward rebound from seven yards.
Chelsea ceded possession and got men behind the ball. Most of the match was played out in their territory, as they waited for counter attacks, set pieces and long-balls up to Drogba to put Barça under pressure.
Still, Barcelona were dangerous, and almost scored from their first chance. Iniesta lofted a pinpoint pass through for Alexis in an inside-left position. The Chilean forward then lobbed it over Cesc, but, agonisingly, the ball bounced back off the crossbar.
Minutes later Cesc should have made it 1-0 to Barcelona. Iniesta fizzed a low shot towards Cech’s bottom-left corner, and when the ball rebounded to Fábregas the midfielder miscued his shot from six yards with the goal gaping.
Despite efforts by the home team to disrupt the flow the match the chances continued to flow for Barcelona. Cesc turned inside Cahill on the left side of the area, but his shot was beaten away by Cech.
Cesc had another opportunity to open the scoring just before half-time, when Messi bustled forward and slipped a smart ball behind the defence for him. This time Cesc chipped it over the ‘keeper, but Ashley Cole intervened on the line at the last second.
Chelsea had posed some threat from long throws, but didn’t get a clear sight of Barça’s goal until the stroke of halftime when Lampard spotted Ramires breaking down the left. The Brazilian had plenty of space in front of him and worked his way to the edge of the area before squaring for Drogba who swept it home to give Chelsea an unlikely lead.
In the second half Barcelona found their play increasingly stifled, and started to lose momentum. Chelsea were even less enterprising than in the first half and spent the remainder camped in front of their box.
Although chances were more limited, Barça did get a few glimpses of goal. Adriano drove in from the left and curled a long-range shot that Cech had to push away. A few minutes after, Alexis was released by a delicate Cesc pass, but sent his shot wide under pressure from Ashley Cole.
From there Barcelona toiled against the resilient Chelsea defence, and space was hard to find. The match seemed to be limping to the final whistle when Messi and Sergio combined, and the ball fell to Pedro. His shot rebounded off the post and into Sergio’s path, but the midfielder was off balance and couldn’t make the right connection.
Barcelona remain four points behind Madrid after a 2-1 win against Levante, now in the number five spot in the league, while Madrid played Sporting Gijon, a rather easier game given that the team are in the relegation zone. This week Barcelona faces Chelsea in the first leg of the Chapions League semi-final and next Saturday is the clasico, which could put the Catalans within a pòint of the league leaders.
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FC Barcelona had to come from behind to beat Levante 2-1 at the Ciutat de Valencia on Saturday night. After conceding to a Barkero penalty, Barça hit back with two goals by Messi.
Guardiola stuck with the same system that defeated Getafe three days earlier, featuring a three-man defence of Puyol, Mascherano and Adriano. A major absentee from the first team midfield was Andrés Iniesta, who took his place on the bench at kick-off.
Barcelona got off to a strong start, and went about creating a series of chances in the opening minutes. The first fell to Pedro, after Messi found the winger in plenty of space on the left side of the area. Pedro’s shot was straight at Munua, and the Levante ‘keeper managed to parry away one-handed.
Later Messi showed great strength to bring the ball down in the area after the Levante defence attempted to clear its lines. He held off two defenders and made space for a shot that went just over the bar.
Thiago then had two excellent chances to open the scoring for Barcelona, with two headers. The first went just wide after Alexis tricked his way to the byline and pulled a cross back. The second came from a Messi free kick – Thiago beat the offside trap but could only head straight at Munua, despite being in plenty of space.
Then, after 22 minutes, and with Levante’s first real attack, Barcelona conceded a penalty. Valdés was unable to gather a corner, and Busquets was adjudged to have handled the ball when he attempted to win possession back. Barkero was cool from the penalty spot, waiting for Valdés to dive to the right before firing it down the middle.
Barça were quieter after conceding – Levante got men behind the ball much faster, and space was hard to find. The best chance was crafted by Messi, who looped a delightful pass for Cesc, but Munua dealt with the midfielder’s header.
With only a win good enough to maintain the pressure on Real Madrid, Barcelona attacked with real ferocity right from the start of the second half. Cuenca replaced Xavi, and Iniesta soon came on for Pedro. It took some time for the chances to start flowing though.
Adriano forced an acrobatic save from Munua with a shot just outside the area. And straight after, Messi drew Barcelona level. He ran with the ball from deep and played a one-two with Alexis on the edge of the area. Messi strode onto the return pass and curled the ball inside the left post.
Ten minutes later Cuenca dribbled past Juanfran on the right edge of the area, but as he got away the left-back pushed him to the ground, conceding a penalty for his side. Messi stepped up and stroked the ball into the top-right corner, sending Munua the wrong way.
From there Barcelona were professional, keeping possession in the Levante half and closing out an important and hard-fought win.
1-0 Barkero (min 22)
1-1 Messi (min 64)
1-2 Messi (min 72)
Barcelona remain four points behind Real Madrid after their archrival beat Atletico Madrid in their match last night. Read the rest of this entry »
Barcelona got revenge for their away defeat earlier in the season by thrashing Getafe 4-0 at the Camp Nou on Tuesday evening. Alexis Sánchez got two goals, with Messi and Pedro grabbing one apiece. It was a thoroughly professional and composed performance, and a result that ramps up the pressure on Real Madrid, just one point ahead before their match on Wednesday.
Guardiola fielded what looked a very attacking lineup – ostensibly it was a four-man defence, with Mascherano and Busquets in the middle, but the latter floated between midfield and defence. Puyol and Adriano were on the flanks, tucking in occasionally.
Barcelona settled quickly and attacked relentlessly in the first half, getting the opener after 12 minutes – from the left touchline, Iniesta looped a pass infield for Messi. The Argentine chested into the path of Alexis who strode forward and curled his shot past Moyá and inside the right post.
Barça maintained the intensity after the goal, and were denied what should have been a second by a strange refereeing decision. After a spell of prolonged possession Messi slipped a pass through for Xavi, who turned in the area and lifted his shot over Moyá. A goal seemed unavoidable as the ball bounced over the line, but it was hooked away by a Getafe defender and off Messi for a goal kick. Replays suggested the goal should have stood.
Getafe were deep, narrow, and struggling to cope with Barcelona’s pressing and movement. With half an hour gone, Busquets lofted a pinpoint pass through for Messi, but the forward’s shot dribbled agonisingly wide of the right post.
The away team did muster an attack of their own; as Barcelona cleared a corner, Rubén Pérez struck a sweet volley from outside the area which deflected just wide of the goal with Valdés motionless.
In response Barcelona should have extended their lead – Cuenca fired a low cross from the right wing that picked out Alexis in plenty of space at the back post, but the Chilean forward could only poke wide. The second goal came before half time, after a breathtaking passing move. Messi fired a pass through Iniesta, who produced a delightful back-heeled layoff for the overlapping Argentine with his first touch. Messi picked it up and fired the ball into the top left corner.
Barça were less urgent in the second half, electing instead to build slowly and retain possession. It was almost half an hour before Moyá was tested – he palmed away a wayward Cuenca cross. But the next time Cuenca got down the right flank he curled a cross that Alexis headed home. And two minutes later Barcelona scored with another header. This time Messi swung a free kick in from the right hand side, and Pedro glanced a deft header into the top left corner.
Later Messi danced past three defenders from left corner flag, but his shot was deflected onto the bar by the ‘keeper.
1-0 Alexis (min 13)
2-0 Messi (min 44)
3-0 Alexis (min 73)
4-0 Pedro (min 75)