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Barcelona Do Enough Against Valencia

September 3rd, 2012

Barcelona produced a workmanlike performance to see off a gritty Valencia team with a 1-0 victory at the Camp Nou on Sunday night. Chances were rare for both teams, and Barça had to withstand a late push by Valencia to get the win. The only goal of the night was a spectacular strike by Adriano.

In the first half Barcelona were handed the task of breaking down a Valencia team that was sitting deep and defending doggedly. Alex Song made his league debut, and took his place in Busquets’ role in front of the back four.

Barça needed a little time to size up their opposition, but were soon keeping the ball and beginning to find threatening positions. It was Valencia though that created the first real opportunity – Soldado trapped a long pass, cut inside Piqué and curled a dangerous-looking shot just past the right post from the edge of the area, with Valdés at full-stretch.

But for the remainder of the half Barcelona proceeded with relative comfort and were soon finding space. Messi had two headed opportunities, the first of which flew over the bar, but the second drew an acrobatic save from Diego Alves. The threat was growing, but when the opener did arrive, it came from an unlikely source.

Barcelona worked a short corner on the left, and the ball found its way to left-back Adriano, who trapped it on the angle of the area and curled a rasping shot into the top right-hand corner, leaving Diego Alves helpless.

The chances continued to flow – Xavi threaded a fantastic pass that Pedro met on the volley, but Alves got down to make the save. Minutes later Messi put Cesc through on goal with plenty of time, but the midfielder’s chipped effort grazed the outside of the post.

Barça conjured two good chances at the beginning of the second half, but slowly faded. The first was perhaps the best of the night. Alexis worked the ball cleverly to the by line on the right and cut back for Cesc who was in space seven yards out. The former Arsenal man took his shot first-time but managed to clear the cross-bar by a couple of yards.

Then, after a flowing passing move Adriano cut in from the right, where he was now positioned after an injury to Dani Alves, but his left-footed shot was hit straight at Valencia’s ‘keeper.

In the final half-hour the game stagnated. Barcelona lost some attacking cohesion, and Valencia’s confidence started to grow. They thought they had equalized when Víctor Ruíz turned the ball in at the back-post from a free-kick, but the defender was correctly ruled offside.

As the clock ticked down, it was Valencia who created the best chances, but they were little more than glimpses of goal. Víctor Ruíz headed a corner well over, with Valdes looking uncomfortable, and then Jonas hit a volley from 25-yards out on the right, which flew just over the bar.

1-0 Adriano (min 21)

Champions League tickets now available for group stage

September 1st, 2012

Following the Champions League draw earlier in the week, Simply Barcelona Tickets now has ticket prices for all of FC Barcelona’s home matches in the group stage of the competition.

First off is Spartak Moscow on September 19th, with Celtic visiting the Nou Camp on October 23rd. And finally Benfica makes the trip to Barcelona on December 5th. You can check out availability for our tickets here or contact local suppliers for away matches.

Champions league 2012-13 groups drawn today

August 30th, 2012

The group stage of the UEFA Champions League was drawn at Monaco earlier today and finds FC Barcelona in group G against Celtic, Benfica and Spartak Moscow.

The first match in the group stage is due to take place on the 18th or 19th of September, finishing at the beginning of December. We’ll be adding match dates and ticket availability once we have that information from FC Barcelona.

Brave Barcelona Fall Just Short

August 30th, 2012

10-man Barcelona lost the Super Cup on away goals on Wednesday night, slipping to 2-1 defeat, with the score 4-4 on aggregate. In a torrid first half, Barça conceded two goals in quick succession and had Adriano sent off. They pulled a goal back via a Messi free-kick and rallied in the second half, but were unable to find a winning goal.

Barcelona looked confident in the first ten minutes, with Pedro finding some dangerous space, but the positive start was undone when Real Madrid played a hopeful ball over the top. Higuaín was making a run, but Mascherano looked set to clear until he kicked at air, leaving the Argentine forward with plenty of time to place his shot beneath Víctor Valdés.

The next 20 minutes were brutal – Barcelona’s defence under constant pressure and unable to find Xavi, Iniesta or Messi in any space.

Real Madrid’s second goal arrived after Valdés had been called into action a number of times. It came from another long-ball – Piqué tried to cut it out, but deflected it to Cristiano Ronaldo, who flicked it high into the air and brought it down on the right angle of the penalty area, now facing Valdés one-on-one. The Portuguese forward hit it low, and Valdés made contact, but the ball deflected up and into the roof of the net.

Barcelona were still unable to settle and looked uncomfortable dealing with Madrid’s direct passing. In one attack Adriano was left isolated by a long ball for Cristiano Ronaldo. The Brazilian defender tried to get his tackle in but was second to the ball, giving away a professional foul and seeing red.

After withdrawing Alexis and bringing on Montoya, Barcelona saw out the half in comparative comfort, fashioning a couple of attacks and pinning Real Madrid back. After ten minutes of building pressure, Messi cracked home a stunning free-kick from 30 yards that curled round the wall and beat Casillas at the left post to make it 2-1 on the night.

Following a tentative start, the second half burst into life 15 minutes in, after some great work by Pedro. The winger first controlled a long-range pass with an immaculate first touch, seeing his subsequent shot saved by Casillas. And minutes later he embarked on an exciting run down the right flank, before cutting inside and forcing another save from Madrid’s ‘keeper.

Until this point Real Madrid had been happy to slow the tempo, but responded by initiating attacks of their own. Khedira bustled past two defenders before Valdés blocked his close-range shot, while Higuaín grazed the outside of the post after being sent clear – Mascherano had managed to get make a crucial challenge at the last moment.

In a frenetic ending, Barcelona had chances to win the tie. Montoya raced through down the right-flank, but Casillas pulled off another big save. Then in the last minute substitute Alex Song set up Messi, but the Argentine’s effort flew just wide.

La liga 2012/2013 – standing after week 2

August 28th, 2012

FC Barcelona has started out the season pretty much ideally, with six points out of two games. On the other hand Real Madrid has slipped badly and put them on the defensive. While their draw against Valencia – who Barcelona are playing on Sunday – might have been foreseen, they would have been aiming to beat Getafe.

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Messi to the Rescue with Late Strikes

August 27th, 2012

Barcelona snatched a 2-1 win thanks to two late goals by Lionel Messi away at CA Osasuna on Sunday evening. Barça’s opponents were energetic and enterprising, creating a number of chances in an entertaining and even encounter. Joseba Llorente scored a volley in the first half, but Barcelona fought back in the last 15 minutes. Messi scored a tap in, then curled a stylish shot in from the edge of the area.

Unlike many Primera Division opponents Osasuna try to attack rather than counter against Barça, which, combined with a less than ideal playing surface, makes for a tricky away trip.

Osasuna were positive from the start and could have had a goal inside a minute when Cejudo got away from Pique and unleashed a near-post shot that drew a world-class one-handed save from Valdes.

Barça responded with a chance of their own; Iniesta guided a sublime pass through for Alexis, but Andres in the Osasuna goal was quick off his line to close the angle and make the save.

The came an Osasuna goal – Lamah picked up the ball on the left flank and curled in a deep cross to the back-post that Joseba volleyed in from an acute angle, leaving Valdes with no chance.

Barcelona continued to create chances. Tello drew a save from Andres, and then Iniesta missed what looked like a simple chance – Alexis was released down the right flank and, with just the ‘keeper to beat, squared for Iniesta. But just before it reached his foot the ball took an unfortunate bounce, and was duly sent flying over the bar from eight yards.

Valdes had to be sharp to keep out a low shot from Lamah and then Joseba Llorente’s follow up was blocked by some determined defending. Troubled as they were at the back, Barcelona were a constant threat at the other end – just before the break, Messi rounded Andres, but the ‘keeper recovered to make an important save.

Osasuna continued to pressure Barcelona in the second half. Lamah might have scored after a powerful run and shot, and, soon after, Osasuna almost added to their one-goal lead when Busquets was robbed in front of his area. The ball broke for Nino, who was one-on-one with Valdes, but his low shot grazed the right post and went out for a goal kick.

After key changes and with just 15 minutes remaining, Barcelona finally clicked into gear. After good work by Pedro on the right side of the box, Alexis seized on a mistake by an Osasuna defender, and squared for Messi who slid in and scored from five yards out.

Osasuna lost a man when midfielder Punal was shown a straight red for protesting a possible offside in the build up. And seconds later, Messi had scored again. This time Jordi Alba crossed low from the left and Messi tucked a low strike inside the left post to claim a hard-fought and valuable away win.

Barcelona Take Narrow Advantage into Second Leg

August 24th, 2012

Barcelona gained a 3-2 first leg lead against Real Madrid in the Super Cup at the Camp Nou on Thursday night. Vilanova’s team was superior throughout, notching two well-taken goals via Xavi and Pedro, together with a Messi penalty. But Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a free header at the start of the second half for the visitors, and Di Maria robbed Valdés to score at the end.

In a scoreless first half, Real Madrid were happy to retreat deep into their own territory and try to catch Barça on the break. Barcelona settled quickly, and were soon finding a some space, especially down the left through Iniesta who was in fine form, keeping possession well and making himself constantly available for his teammates. He created the first half-chance when his powerful cross from the left just evaded the boot of Alexis at the back post.

The first real opportunity fell to Messi and arrived after lovely interplay between Dani Alves and Xavi. Barça’s captain for the night sent Alves on a run down the right flank – the Brazilian cut the ball back to Messi, who could only fire just wide from the edge of the box.

Messi then showed quick-feet to dance past Arbeloa and get a shot away, but it tricked low past the right-hand post. On the half-hour mark it was Pedro’s turn to get involved; he drove a left-footed shot in from 25 yards, but Casillas reacted quickly to push it over the bar.

Real Madrid had managed to preserve the clean-sheet going into the break, but were starting to look a little ragged – Sergio Busquets was on end of some late challenges, most notably by Arbeloa who caught him high on the leg with his studs.

The second half was far more gripping. Barcelona should have had a penalty early on when Arbeloa brought him down clumsily next to the byline on the right. But directly after, Madrid opened the scoring with their first real chance – Özil swung a corner in, and Cristiano Ronaldo bundled ahead of Busquets to nod home from six yards.

But no more than 30 seconds had passed before Barcelona drew level. Mascherano found Pedro’s incisive run from deep, and the winger side-footed a clinical finish past Casillas.

Later, after a sustained period of pressure, Barcelona won a penalty when Iniesta was brought down by a crude Sergio Ramos tackle. Messi then found the bottom-right corner with his penalty to hand the home team the lead.

By now Barcelona were looking rampant, and started carving Real Madrid open at will. With ten minutes to go Iniesta cut in from the left, waltzed past two challenges and posted Xavi through for the midfielder to slot beneath Casillas and make the score 3-1.

There was a sting in the tail near the end, when some loose ball-control by Valdés allowed Angel Di Maria to steal in and score a barely merited second goal for the visitors.

Alex Song signs with FC Barcelona

August 21st, 2012

Alex Song yesterday completed his move from Arsenal after passing his medical and signing on the dotted line. The player, who originally hails from Cameroon, signed a five year contract with the club, which payed €19 M to Arsenal. Song was presented at the Nou Camp on Monday night at the Gamper Trophy, which this year was played against Sampdoria.

It is reported that Song has been staying with former team mate Cesc Fabregas, who will help settle him into his new team, where he will replace Keita in midfield. His first test may come on Thursday when Barça plays Real Madrid in the Spanish Supercup.

Sampdoria Lift Gamper Trophy

August 21st, 2012

A team of young Barça B players and first-team stars making their comebacks from injury slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Serie A club Sampdoria in the Gamper on Monday night. The visitors took an early lead through Roberto Soriano, and despite probing for 90 minutes , Barça were unable to find a way back.

There was barely a minute on the clock when Sampdoria stole a surprise lead. The Italian side worked the ball down the left wing for Obiang to swing in a right-footed cross from deep. Midfielder Roberto Soriano evaded his marker and stooped to head home to the right of Pinto in the Barcelona goal.

The home team needed some time to settle, given its slightly unfamiliar mix of players, and for the next half an hour achieved plenty of possession but not much by way of chances.

Barcelona probed via Afellay, Villa and Deulofeu, but Sampdoria were organised and determined. Villa fired a free-kick over from 25 yards and Sergi Roberto was just unable to make contact with a powerful Espinosa cross from the left.

As the half wore on, spaces began to open up, but not before Pinto was forced into a fine save when Maxi López got free in the Barcelona area. Afellay went close with a long-range drive, and moments later the Dutchman sent Deulofeu through down the left, but Samp ‘keeper Romero was alert to the danger and gathered the ball from the young winger’s feet.

Deulofeu had been quietly impressive all half, and almost scored the equaliser, when he turned the Sampdoria defence inside out down the right wing, but could only sting the palms of Romero with his shot from a tight angle.

Barcelona began the second half at a far higher tempo, and produced a number of eye-catching attacking moves. The pick involved Sergi Roberto and Deulofeu. The former slipped a measured through-ball forward for Deulofeu, but the young winger was once again closed down by Romero.

Deulofeu continued to pose a threat, and raised the crowd’s spirits with his pace and close control, although he occasionally tried to take on a little too much and ran into traffic. Sampdoria on the other hand weres sitting ever deeper, but still managed to create chances on the break.

First Tissone fired over on the half volley as Barcelona tried to clear their lines, and then Pozzi was presented with fantastic opportunity when he raced clear of the Barça defence. He had plenty of time to choose a corner, but Pinto came out quickly and Pozzi’s shot only ricocheted off the base of the post and out for a goal kick.

A raft of substitutions followed, and the Nou Camp faithful got a glimpse of some of the next generation of young stars to be produced by the famous youth system. Among them was Jean Marie Dongou, but the 17-year-old forward only had seven minutes to impress, and by that point the game was starting peter out.

0-1 Soriano (min 1)

La liga 2012/2013 – standing after week 1

August 21st, 2012

The first match of the 2012-2013 Spanish League kicked off this weekend with Barcelona playing Real Sociedad on Sunday. Some matches were left for Monday, when Barça was playing the Gamper. However, the first week’s league table now stands as below.

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