FC Barcelona News
Barcelona struggled at times, but achieved a 4-2 victory a lively Real Betis team at the Camp Nou. After taking a two-goal lead through Xavi and Messi Barça were pegged back before Alexis and Messi got the winners.
Barcelona were caught cold in the first few minutes of the game. Real Betis attacked with verve, and might have taken an early lead when Rubén Castro set Jorge Molina through one-on-one, but Valdés was alert to the danger and snuffled out the chance. He had to be on his toes from the ensuing corner, clawing a flicked header by Dorado out at the near post.
Barcelona then took over, and scored their first goal with just ten minutes gone. The improving Alexis slipped a smart pass between two defenders for Cesc. His left-footed effort hit the post, but Xavi was first to react to the rebound. It was only a matter of seconds before they made it 2-0. Betis continued to throw bodies forward and when Barcelona won possession they had little trouble cutting through Los Béticos’ ranks. For the second Iniesta picked up the ball from deep and burst forward. He chose to release Alexis, whose low cross found Messi free in the centre to score from close range.
Barça then had a comfortable spell, combining neatly, with only last-ditch efforts from the Betis defenders keeping the score down. But despite being two-down, Betis remained smart on the break – they offered a reminder of their attacking threat when Jefferson Montero cut back for Rubén Castro, who misconnected with the ball and watched it fly over the bar.
And they clawed a goal back on the half hour mark – Molina rounded Valdés and laid it on for Sevilla, who spotted striker Castro at the far post, giving him a simple finish to make from six yards. Now looking more confident, the away side was suddenly a real a match for Guardiola’s men, who were struggling to find their customary fluency.
Betis ramped up the pressure at the start of the second half, winning a dangerous free-kick and pegging Barcelona back. The home side was on its heels and conceded the lead on 52 minutes. Rubén Castro broke free on the counter down the left wing – his pass infield found substitute Roque Santa Cruz, who powered a strike inside the right post from the edge of the area.
Barcelona then went on the attack – they should have had a penalty when Iniesta was fouled by Montero, but Villanueva somehow saw fit to book Barcelona’s number 8 for a dive. When Betis had Mario sent off for a second yellow things started to look a little easier, and, after a couple of half-chances, Barcelona regained the lead when Xavi clipped a pass over the top for Alexis, whose shot evaded Casto at the near post. With the clock running down, Barcelona won a penalty for a Dorado hand-ball, and Messi made no mistake from the spot.
1-0 Xavi (min 9)
2-0 Messi (min 11)
2-1 Rubén Castro (min 31)
2-2 Santa Cruz (min 50)
3-2 Alexis (Min 73)
4-2 Messi (min 84)
After last week’s 4-0 win against Osasuna in the Nou Camp there wasn’t much left to do for Barça to make it through to the next round. There was some doubt during the day whether the match would take place due to the weather, but in the end it went ahead as planned in freezing fog.
The Barça squad looked as though they weren’t going to over exert themselves in the cold, however after 15 minutes Fontas was stretched off the pitch, with Abidal coming on in his place. After some undemanding play, Osasuna finally came alive at the end of the first half and Lekic put the ball past Pinto to put the hosts ahead.
After the break Barça quickly got into the game to make sure Osasuna’s advantage was temporary. The Catalan’s moment came just four minutes into the second half when Adriano crossed to Alexis, who put the ball into the Osasuna net. Guardiola then brought on Messi in place of Alexis and soon after Busquets came on to replace Pedro, who was suffering a thigh strain.
A few minutes later Messi set up Sergi Roberto’s goal inside the area in the 72nd minute to put Barcelona ahead; the scoreline remained 2-1 to Barcelona, who once again have qualified for the Copa del Rey quarter-final. Next week they face Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, with Barcelona v Real Madrid at the Nou Camp leg being played a week later.
1-0 Lekic (min 40)
1-1 Alexis (min 49)
1-2 Sergi Roberto (min 72)
Following Real Madrid’s qualification for the Copa del Rey quarter finals later this month and FC Barcelona going through after defeating Osasuna, football fans can look forward to two clasicos both next week and the week that follows.
On 17/18/19 January Real Madrid play at home, with the Nou Camp leg a week later on 24/25/26. These dates will be confirmed shortly and if you’d like to order now you can do so to ensure you don’t miss out on what will be another exciting encounter between the two sides.
Last season the Copa del Rey was Real Madrid’s only title and so Jose Mourinho’s boys will be looking to at least make it through to the next round and defeat their Catalan arch-rival even if they don’t win the title.
Here at Simply Barcelona Tickets we’d like to extend our congratulations to Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola for being recognised by FIFA as the best player and best coach in the world right now.
Last night at an award ceremony is Zurich Leo Messi was awarded the FIFA Ballon d’Or, in its second year of existence after the FIFA Player of the Year and France Football Magazine’s Ballon d’Or were merged. In its previous incarnation only Michel Platini had been awarded the Ballon d’Or three years straight, and he is joining Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo who were both three time winners of the old FIFA award.
Messi received 48% of votes, with Cristiano Ronaldo on 22% and teammate Xavi on 9%. Upon receiving the award the Argentine player thanked “my teammates, trainers, physios, the coach and everyone at Barcelona” before adding “I want to share this honour with my teammate, Xavi… He deserves it, too. I want to share it with you, because you deserve it as much as me. It’s a pleasure to be here alongside him and to play with him.”
In addition to Messi, Barça coach Pep Guardiola won the Coach of the Year award ahead of Sir Alex Ferguson and Madrid’s motormouth Jose Mourinho. Ferguson, who received FIFA’s Presidential Award for his success over three decades as manager said “Messi could play in any generation… The Barcelona team right now, with Lionel in their side, are an extraordinary side.”
Real Madrid are again five points ahead of FC Barcelona after they beat Granada 5-1, while Barcelona drew against local rivals Espanyol on Sunday.
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Read the rest of this entry »
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.