FC Barcelona News
Barcelona had to settle for a 1-1 draw away to Espanyol in the derby on Sunday night. Cesc headed Barça into an early lead, but his side was unable to build on it, and was pegged back at the death by Álvaro Vázquez. It was a tense, hard-fought encounter, in which key refereeing decisions went against Guardiola’s men.
The big story at kick-off was Iniesta’s return to the side, recovering from a strain picked up before the winter break. He took his place in a strong team, on the left side of central midfield in a 4-3-3.
Espanyol came flying out the traps in front of a raucous crowd at the Estadi Cornellà-El Prat, closing down Barcelona’s defenders at a ferocious tempo, and breaking quickly whenever in possession. Their pressure almost paid off in the first ten minutes when Sergio García rushed clear down the left side of the area and crossed for Verdú, whose initial headed effort was miraculously saved by Valdés, and Piqué was ready on the line to clear the follow up.
Barcelona soon woke up though and forced a number of close calls. First Cesc thought he’d scored when Messi intercepted Álvarez’ clearance and squared for him, but replays showed a handball by Messi in the build up. Alexis then went one-on-one with Álvarez, but never looked confident and was hustled wide by the ‘keeper. On their next attack though, Barcelona took the lead. Dani Alves surged forward down the right and picked out Cesc with a perfect cross. Cesc’s header was powerful and aimed at the bottom corner. Álvarez got his fingertips to it, but couldn’t keep it out.
The remainder of the half was relatively even, with both teams forcing slight openings without capitalising. Abidal had to be sharp to block a Thievy shot inside the area. At the other end Barça continued to threaten as Alexis posted Iniesta through, but his left-footed effort was deflected away by Álvarez. Puyol made a crucial block from Verdú, and then just before the half-time whistle Cesc cleverly turned past an Espanyol defender on the byline, but his close-range strike hit the outside of the near post.
The game remained poised at 1-0 after the break, with no clear sight of goal for either side. It wasn’t until half an hour in that some space opened up for Barça – Pedro, on for Alexis, fired a deep low cross that Messi met on the stretch with his right boot, ricocheting off the near-post and into the side-netting.
Espanyol hadn’t created much, but took their opportunity with 86 minutes gone. Raúl Rodríguez was released down the right and his cross was headed on by Thievy for Álvaro Vázquez to score from no more than a couple of yards out. Then in injury time Barcelona had real reason to feel aggrieved – Messi played Piqué in, and after his shot crashed off the cross-bar, Pedro’s follow-up was clearly pushed away by Raul Rodriguez’ arm.
0-1 Cesc (min 15)
1-1 Alvaro (min 85)
Cesc Fàbregas and Lionel Messi helped bring FC Barcelona within touching distance of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals, each scoring two goals in a comfortable 4-0 first leg victory over Osasuna at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night.
Barcelona settled quickly in this game, showing no signs of rust after their two-week break. A couple of early forays aside, Osasuna were soon pinned back in their own half by the home team’s intelligent passing and movement. Alves dragged a left-footed shot just wide – the livewire Brazilian would be a constant threat down the right wing, given even more freedom playing in front of a three-man defence.
It didn’t take long for Barcelona to make the breakthrough. Alves carried the ball inside from the right, feeding Xavi, whose close control helped him evade three defenders before laying a pass on for Cesc to score an easy tap in.
Cuenca was also impressive down the left flank – he worked some space before finding Alves on the opposite flank, who once again worked the ball to Xavi, but the captain could only shoot just wide.
By now the attacks were relentless and it was no surprise when Barcelona doubled their lead. With 20 minutes gone Xavi fed Cesc on the edge of the area, who controlled the ball on the turn with an immaculate first touch, before clipping a perfectly weighted chip over the head of Riesgo in the Osasuna goal.
Barcelona were looking reinvigorated after their winter break, and continued to carve out chances. Riesgo needed to react quickly to close range shots from Puyol and Thiago, as Osasuna somehow managed to maintain a two-goal deficit. At the end of the half he was called upon once more, tipping a chip by Dani Alves over the bar after a jinking run by the Brazilian.
There were a few contentious moments early on in the second half. Cuenca was clearly fouled on the edge of the penalty are as he skipped past Damià, but referee Borbalán wasn’t interested. Then Messi, on for Pedro, was held back as he bustled into the Osasuna area, but also saw his appeals waved away.
Within minutes of Messi’s entry though, Barcelona once again looked formidable in attack. The Argentine missed the goal by a matter of centimetres after wriggling past two defenders, swapping passes with Alves and neatly chipping the stranded Riesgo.
It mattered little though as Messi would be on the scoresheet minutes later. After Osasuna failed to clear a goalmouth scramble, Cesc aimed a cross to the far post and Messi produced his now customary leap to nod the ball home. He nearly got another shortly after, when Alexis teed him up in the six-yard box, but Riesgo made yet another reaction stop.
There was still time for one more goal. Xavi looked up and saw Messi open on the left-side of the box. The diminutive Argentine turned, looked up and curled a shot past Riesgo to complete an assured performance.
1-0 Cesc (min 13)
2-0 Cesc (min 18)
3-0 Messi (min 74)
4-0 Messi (min 94)
FC Barcelona plays Osasuna in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey, with the home leg taking place on the 3rd to 5th of January and the return between the 10th and the 12th.
Last time Barcelona and Osasuna squared up the latter team lost 8-0 and so the match should be a fairly straightforward win unless anything wayward occurs.
Real Madrid will face Malaga and assuming that both Barça and Madrid win this round they will face each other once again in the quarter finals, provisionally scheduled for the 18th and 25th of January.
Last season Madrid beat Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final, leaving the two more important titles – la liga and Champions League – to the Catalans.
Barcelona are through to the next round of the Copa del Rey, demolishing minnows Hospitalet in a goal-fest at the Camp Nou. It was a win made at Barça’s academy, with every outfield player having been brought through the club’s youth ranks.
Mindful perhaps of the relatively slender 1-0 lead achieved in the first leg, Pep opted for a mix of youth and experience against the Segunda B opponents. Amongst the younger players taking their place in the 3-4-3 were Fontàs, Thiago and Cuenca, while Sergi Roberto and Cristian Tello were to come on in the first half.
It was a half completely run by the home side, but Hospitalet were first to conjure an opportunity – Striker Prats headed a free-kick narrowly wide. Thereafter Barcelona were relentless in attack. After ten minutes Isaac Cuenca wriggled free of Moussa on the byline, and the left-back tugged back Barça’s winger on the edge of the area. The referee signalled for a penalty, which was slightly harsh on the away team. Pedro was in no mood for charity, clinically slotting his spot-kick into the bottom left corner.
Minute later Xavi threaded a forensic through-pass for Cesc on the right side of the area. Barça’s number 4 looked up and squared for Iniesta, who found the net from no more than five yards to double the lead. Seconds had passed when Thiago pounced on Hospi defender Castaño’s indecision. The young midfielder was perfectly composed, junking past Craviotto and passing into the empty goal.
Then came a moment that took some gloss off the evening; Iniesta contested a loose ball and was clattered by Hospi’s goalkeeper, which forced Barça’s attacking midfielder from the pitch with a thigh injury. Initial reports were optimistic though, predicting an absence of no more than a couple of weeks.
Sergi Roberto replaced him, and the chances continued to flow. After point-blank saves and goal-line clearances, Hospitalet conceded once more with 35 minutes on the clock. Cesc lofted a sublime pass for Xavi, who scored at the near-post on the volley.
The lead was then extended to 5-0. Cristian Tello, on for Xavi, picked up the ball on the halfway line and, unopposed, ran straight for the opponents’ goal and found the bottom-right corner with a cool finish.
The rout continued into the second half. Tello showed electric pace to get to the byline on the left-side, cutting back for Cuenca who smashed the ball first-time under Craviatto’s dive. Then Cuenca broke free into the area, but was crudely hauled back by Hospi defender Viale. Thiago scored from the spot, and now the score was 7-0.
Tello, who was something of a revelation in this game, was next to add to the score, receiving the ball from Sergi Roberto and curling a classy right-footed shot past Craviotto on 64 minutes. Into the last ten minutes, Cuenca grabbed his second of the night, picked out by Cesc and crashing home from the right side of the area.
1-0 Pedro (min 11)
2-0 Iniesta (min 18)
3-0 Thiago (min 22)
4-0 Xavi (min 35)
5-0 Tello (min 42)
6-0 Cuenca (min 47)
7-0 Thiago (min 53)
8-0 Tello (min 62)
9-0 Cuenca (min 79)
After Barcelona’s humiliating 3-1 win against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu earlier this month the focus will soon turn to the next “clasico”, this time played at the Nou Camp.
Barça’s record against Madrid since last season has been remarkable and although they lost the Copa del Rey to their arch-rival, Barça took the important trophies; namely the Spanish League and Champions League.
We have a small number of tickets left for the match, but they will sell out soon. We currently have two VIP Gold tickets and some Cat 3 tickets but nothing else. If you’d like to see “el clasico” in 2012 now is a good time to place your order and avoid disappointment.
Barcelona’s fixtures for the next round of the Champions League was drawn last Friday and tickets are now available from Simply Barcelona Tickets. Barcelona was drawn against Bayer Leverkusen who they’ll play on February 14th in Germany, with the return leg at the Nou Camp on March 7th.
FC Barcelona is the current Champions League title holder after beating Manchester United last year. No title holder has ever successfully defended the title and so if Barça was to do so it would be another record created by this amazing team.
Barcelona’s first Champions League trophy was played at Wembley in 1992 when the famous Johann Cruyff ‘s famous “Dream Team” beat Sampdoria 1-0 with Pep Guardiola one of the players. They also won it against Arsenal in 2006 with Frank Rijkaard at the helm and twice with Guardiola; in 2009 and 2011, both times against Manchester United.
While Barça has been in Japan participating – and winning – the Clubs World Cup, its been business as usual for the remainder of the clubs in the Spanish League. With Real Madrid’s 6-2 win against Sevilla on Saturday they have again risen to the top of the table with a three point gap.
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Read the rest of this entry »
Barcelona lifted the Club World Cup after thrashing Santos FC 4-0 in Yokohama on Sunday. In a constantly one-sided encounter Guardiola’s men created chance after chance, hitting the post twice and forcing numerous close-range saves from Santos’ overworked goalkeeper. Messi got two, and was joined on the scoresheet by Xavi and Cesc.
Guardiola appears to haven chosen this match as an international platform for his 3-4-3 formation – Abidal, Piqué and Puyol lined up across the back. Somewhat unusual was the sight of Dani Alves very high and wide on the right, while Thiago took up similar position on the opposite flank. In between were Iniesta, Xavi, Cesc and Messi, interchanging more than the Brazilian opposition could handle.
With just ten minutes gone the chances began to flow for Barcelona. Messi had an effort from range, which was parried by Rafael into Thiago’s path, but his shot could also only find Santos’ ‘keeper. Shortly after Barcelona were ahead – there was a triangle between Messi, Cesc and Xavi, which resulted in a fabulous through ball by Barça’s captain for Messi, who took his time and dinked a chip over Rafael to open the scoring.
Barcelona doubled their lead no more than five minutes later. Dani Alves, who looked dangerous throughout the half, broke free down the right and crossed low for Xavi, who took one touch just inside the area to evade Bruno, and drilled a shot low to Rafael’s left side.
A great opportunity then followed for Messi – this time he was released by Cesc, but a last-second intervention by Edu Dracena kept him out. This chance was followed by Santos’ only attack of note – playmaker Ganso slipped Borges through, but Valdés reacted quickly to gather his shot.
Directly after, Cesc nearly made it 3-0. To everyone’s surprise the midfielder had stayed onside to collect yet another sublime Xavi pass, but he could only hit the post from close range.
As the half drew to a close, Barcelona did extend their lead – Alves found Messi in the area to spark a scramble that ended when Cesc added the killer touch from six yards to cap a half in which Barcelona played some of their most consistently incisive football of the season.
Within seconds of the restart Barcelona were troubling Santos’ defence once again. Messi set up Cesc and Rafael produced the save of the match to push his shot just past the post. He was then in action soon after to save a close-range Messi effort with his legs.
Midway through the second half Barça sensed that the job was done and attacked with a little less intensity. In this spell Santos had their best chance, when Neymar was set free by Ganso, but Valdés was quick off his line to close the space and preserve the clean-sheet.
Messi then killed the game off, collecting the ball from Alves skipping over Rafael with his second touch and slotting home into the empty net.
0-1 Messi (min 17)
0-2 Xavi (min 24)
0-3 Cesc (min 45)
0-4 Messi (min 82)
Barcelona breezed to the final of the FIFA Club World Cup to set up a meeting with Copa Libertadores Champions Santos FC of Sao Paulo. Goals for Adriano (two), Keita and Maxwell helped the Catalan club to a 4-0 win against Qatari Asian Champions League winners, Al-Sadd, who were unable to muster as much as a shot on target throughout the encounter. Barcelona’s celebrations will be somewhat muted by the news that striker David Villa suffered a fractured fibia in the first half.
Guardiola used the game at Yokohama to give an opportunity to his rotation options, with Mascherano starting in central defence, Seydou Keita in central midfield, Adriano at right-back and Pedro on the left wing. It was a match in which Barcelona were never once troubled, but the slightly gauche attempts by the Al-Sadd players to win possession meant that this was a game watched with dread by most Cules.
It took a little longer than the customary few minutes for Barcelona to find their feet here; Al-Sadd defended very deep, and after no more than a couple of days in Japan, Guardiola’s men needed a while to settle. When they did the chances began to flow; David Villa latched on to a deflected clearance on the right side of the area and forced a low save from Mohamed Saqr in the Qatari’s goal.
The breakthrough followed shortly after. This time Barça took advantage of a comical Al-Sadd mix-up. Algerian defender Nadir Belhhadj nudged the ball back to his ’keeper when it would have been easier to clear. Mohamed Saqr struggled to get the ball under control, leaving Adriano free to steal in and score from no more than a yard out.
Minutes later David Villa suffered his injury. It occured when the Asturian striker attempted to control a loose ball in the Al-Saad area, under pressure from a defender. He looked uncomfortable straight away, but his calm reaction to the incident belied the gravity of the injury, as he now faces a number of months of the sidelines.
Alexis entered the fray in his stead and Barcelona continued to carve chances. On the stroke of half-time Thiago posted Adriano through with a beautiful reverse pass, and the Brazilian utility man found the bottom-left corner, although once again Mohamed Saqr might feel disappointed with his attempted save.
The second half was one of total Barcelona control. Messi was the man who came to the fore. He saw a shot deflected narrowly wide and a free-kick bound for the corner well saved. On the hour mark he was at the centre of a move to make it 3-0, producing a defence-splitting pass to play in Seydou Keita, whose neat finish across Mohamed Saqr nestled just inside the post.
The final goal came from a surprise source; the ever-lively Thiago found Maxwell on the left side of the area, and the Brazilian produced a powerful shot with his left-foot into the bottom-right corner.
0-1 Adriano (min 25)
0-2 Adriano (min 43)
0-3 Keita (min 64)
0-4 Maxwell (min 81)
Barcelona made it clear that the league this season is by no means over, with a devistating victory against Real Madrid on Saturday. Once again the Catalans ran rings around Madrid, with stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo seemingly overawed by players such as Leo Messi. The result leaves Barça on top of the table, equal on points with Real Madrid, but having played an extra match thanks to their Club World Cup commitments.