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Neymar stars as Barcelona beats Villarreal

December 16th, 2013

Many commentators in Spain were already writing off FC Barcelona under Gerardo Martino after a couple of poor results, seemingly forgetting the string of successes that came before. But another solid result on Saturday night after Barcelona’s thrashing of Celtic during the week should silence the critics, at least until they drop another point.

Not everything went Barça’s way, of course, and Villarreal put on a good fight. However, Barcelona dominated possession and while they were unable to do as much as may have been hoped, they also prevented Villarreal from doing much either. In the end the opening goal was scored by Neymar from the penalty spot following a hand ball at the half hour mark and despite a promising attempt on the goal by Alexis, the first half ended 1-0.

Back on after the break the visitors were quick to equalise, but Barcelona remained unperturbed. And 20 minutes into the second half Barcelona were rewarded with a second goal from Neymar, set up by Alexis. While there were some who criticised the decision to sign Neymar at the start of the season he is proving his worth at the moment. With Messi injured, the Brazilian seems to have found himself within the team and in the last two matches scored a total of five goals.

1-0 Neymar (min 29)
1-1 Musacchio (min 46)
2-1 Neymar (min 66)

Barcelona demolishes Celtic to end head of Group H

December 12th, 2013

If anyone really believed that Barcelona had lost their mojo after the couple of recent defeats, they must have changed their mind after last night’s display against Celtic. The Catalans came on looking like they meant business and within the first few minutes, while the visitors barely touched the ball, Barcelona were clearly on the attack and it took just six minutes before Pique put Barça ahead.

Barcelona continued to dominate possession, clearly in control of the match, and it looked as if the second was only a matter of waiting. Although it is perhaps surprising that the second goal, by Pedro, came nearly half an hour later Neymar’s first of the evening a couple of minutes before the break meant Barcelona had all but sealed the result.

In the second half Barcelona continued their onslaught when Neymar scored his second of the night. And ten minutes later he made it a hat trick to put Barça 5 goals ahead, his first Champions League goals and first hat trick for Barcelona.

With Tello brought on in place of Alexis it took just a few minutes before he too scored, when his shot rebounded off the heel of a Celtic defender and into the goal. And then, in the closing minutes of the match Celtic finally came to life. Samaras has a couple of good attempts on the Barça goal and scored to leave the final score at 6-1.

1-0 Piqué (min 6)
2-0 Pedro (min 39)
3-0 Neymar (min 43)
4-0 Neymar (min 46)
5-0 Neymar (min 56)
6-0 Tello (min 70)
6-1 Samaras (min 86)

While Barcelona had already earned their place in the next round, AC Milan’s goalless draw with Ajax meant that they would have ended at the top of the table anyway. However, after the recent criticism levelled at the team this result showed firmly that they mean business. We’ll learn who Barcelona faces next on Monday, with the next round taking place in Februay.

Group H
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Comfortable win for Barcelona in Copa del Rey opener

December 9th, 2013

After a couple of disappointing results against Ajax and then Athletic Bilbao, Friday saw Barcelona play their first Copa del Rey match against Cartagena from Segunda División B.

Although there was never a real chance of the hosts making a big impact against Barça, they did do enough to create a slight upset at the quarter hour mark when Fernando scored the opener. However, with the Catalans back in their stride and creating chances Pedro equalised after 35 minutes; and just a few minutes later Cesc put Barcelona in the lead.

Following the break there was plenty of opportunity for Barça, who completely overwhelmed Cartagena, but it wasn’t until nearly 30 minutes into the second half that Pedro scored his second of the night. Now comfortably in the lead, Alexis was brought off in exchange for Jean Marie Dongou, making his debut for the first team. And what a night it will be for him to remember after he put the ball into the Cartagena net off a rebound.

1-0 Fernando (min 15)
1-1 Pedro (min 35)
1-2 Fábregas (min 42)
1-3 Pedro (min 74)
1-4 Dongou (min 88)

FC Barcelona fixtures for December 2013

December 4th, 2013

The date and time of all FC Barcelona’s fixtures in December and the first match back after the break in January have now been confirmed for both home and away matches.

The table below shows remaining matches for December (the home team is listed first) in three different competitions; la liga, Champions League and the Copa del Rey. Note the early kick off for Barcelona versus Elche on 5th January. Traditionally many children will attend this match due to it coinciding with Three Kings, when they receive their presents, and there will be parades throughout Barcelona on that evening as the three kings shower the kids with sweets.

11 Dec20:45Barcelona v Celtic
6 Dec21:00Cartagena v Barcelona
14 Dec20:00Barcelona v Villarreal
17 Dec22:00Barcelona v Cartagena
22 Dec17:00Getafe v Barcelona
5 Jan16:00Barcelona v Elche

You can check the homepage for ticket availability for all home matches.

La liga 2013/14 – standing after week 15

December 2nd, 2013

Barcelona narrowly remain at the top of the table after their defeat by Athletic Bilbao at the weekend by virtue of goal difference. Atletico are in second place, with Real Madrid now three points behind in third, while Athletic Bilbao are now in the number four spot after ther victory against Barça.

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Barça suffer first league defeat against Athletic Bilbao

December 2nd, 2013

Following their defeat by Ajax last week, Barcelona headed for Bilbao on Sunday evening to play against Athletic, one team that should never be underestimated in the Spanish league. Following their disappointing result against the Dutch team in the Champions League, Martino’s men would have been looking for a confidence booster, but although they began strongly they failed to capitalise on their high possession rate early on and in the end suffered the first league defeat of the season.

In the first half an hour or so the match seemed to be going Barça’s way, dominating possession and coming close to scoring on several occasions. However, as the home side began to find their stride it became clear that this was going to be no walkover for Barça but even so the first half ended with neither side having scored.

Back on after the break it looked as if Neymar would be the one to break the deadlock. He missed a great opportunity and then was brought down just outside the area; the resulting free kick by Neymar went wide. After this Athletic seemed to get stronger, with Pinto called into action, but finally they made the breakthrough in the 69th minute to go ahead. Despite making a couple of changes, Barcelona just couldn’t get back into the game and offered little threat to the Athletic Bilbao goal before the final whistle went on their first league defeat this season.

1-0 Muniain (min 69)

Barcelona loses to Ajax after 28 matches undefeated

November 27th, 2013

With Barcelona already sure of their place in the knockout stage of the Champions League, last night’s result was always going to be pretty much irrelevant to them despite the club’s stated intention of playing to win. However, with a number of key players still absent through injury, including Leo Messi, Dani Alves and Victor Valdes, Martino was forced to field an under strength squad.

An under-strength Barça is still world class though and so it was almost a shock to see how much control Ajax were able to exert, clearly dominating from the start. In fact it was surprising to see that at one point Barcelona had just 45% possession; often it is 70% even against titans such as Real Madrid. In the end it was no great surprise when Ajax scored the opener after 18 minutes, which had the effect of spurring the Catalans on and Neymar coming close to equalising, but it was the Dutch side that scored again after a Pinto deflection allowed a second chance to go in.

Back on after the break Neymar had a good chance at goal, only to be brought down in the area. With Veltan shown a red for his efforts, Xavi scored from the penalty spot and playing against 10 men possession shifted slightly in Barça’s favour. However, they just weren’t able to do quite enough and in the countdown to the final whistle Martino elected to bring on some youngsters.

1-0 Serero (min 18)
2-0 Hoesen (min 41)
2-1 Xavi (min 49)

While the result makes no real difference to Barcelona, having already ensured their place in the next round, the loss follows an run of 28 matches undefeated for Barça. On the other hand it was positive news for Ajax, although they must beat Milan for a place in the last 16.

Group H
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La liga 2013/14 – standing after week 14

November 25th, 2013

Barcelona remain three points ahead of Atletico Madrid after their 4-0 win against Granada on Saturday, while Atletico scored an incredible 7-0 victory against Getafe and Real Madrid beat Almeria 5-0. This week sees Barcelona play Ajax in the Champions League group stages, knowing that they have already done enough for the next stage and the result is almost irrelevent. 

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Injuries fail to dent Barça against Granada

November 25th, 2013

Following the international break, and with a number of key players injured, Granada visited the Nou Camp on Saturday afternoon for a match attended by many kids thanks to the early start. Although Lionel Messi was one of those injured he showed off his latest Golden Boot, which he was awarded on Wednesday for a record third time as the highest scoring player in Europe last season. He has also been nominated again for the Player of the Year, which he has now won an incredible four times.

Despite lacking some key players, the team went all out right from the start, but despite a number of attempts on the Granada goal it was only after Cesc Fabregas was brought down in the area that allowed Iniesta to score the first from the penalty spot. Granada didn’t take that lying down though and soon were to make an attempt on the Barça goal, striking the crossbar and another attempt was stopped by reserve keeper Pinto, in place of injured Valdes. With the ball back under Barça’s control and in the Granada area, a second penalty was awarded after Iniesta was brought down. This time it was Cesc who put the ball away.

Back on after the break Pedro came close to scoring a third for the Catalans, but the ball went over the bar and soon after was brought down by Iturra; with two yellow cards, Granada was now down to 10 players. However, after making another attempt on the Barcelona goal, Neymar set up Alexis to make it 3-0. Finally, after a number of changes in the last 10 minutes, Pedro put the ball home to make it 4-0.

1-0 Iniesta (min 19)
2-0 Fábregas (min 39)
3-0 Alexis (min 70)
4-0 Pedro (min 89)

La liga 2013/14 – standing after week 13

November 11th, 2013

Barcelona extended their lead at the top of the table to three points after Atletico Madrid slipped to a draw against Villarreal, currently fourth place in the league. 

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