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Barça face Osasuna in Copa del Rey

December 29th, 2011

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.

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Nine Goal Barcelona Run Riot

December 23rd, 2011

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)


Last call for FC Barcelona v Real Madrid

December 22nd, 2011

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.

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FC Barcelona v Bayer Leverkusen tickets now available

December 21st, 2011

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.

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La Liga 2011/2012 – standing after week 17

December 19th, 2011

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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Magnificent Barcelona are World Champions Once More

December 18th, 2011

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 Stroll Tainted by Villa Injury

December 15th, 2011

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)


La Liga 2011/2012 – standings after week 16

December 12th, 2011

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.

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Barcelona Make a Statement at the Bernabeu

December 12th, 2011

Barcelona have landed a major blow on bitter rivals Real Madrid, winning 3-1 at the Santiago Bernabéu. Goals from Alexis, Xavi and Cesc ensured a gutsy comeback and memorable result for Barça after sloppy play by Valdés had gifted Madrid an early goal through Benzema.

Perhaps the only surprise in Guardiola’s lineup was the absence of David Villa, who dropped to the bench – surely a result of the exciting form of Cesc and Alexis in recent weeks. And in some ways the formation was less overtly attacking than expected, with Cesc and the electric Iniesta joining and instigating attacks, but retaining a certain degree of discipline. Alexis was always furthest forward, probing across the frontline, while Messi operated in his deeper central role.

Barcelona got off to a dreadful start; Real Madrid pressed an early backpass to Valdés, and the ‘keeper made a hash of his kick, tamely finding Di Maria on the edge of the area. Busquets made two desperate blocks, but both fell to Madrid players – the second dropped at Benzema’s feet and the striker smashed his easy finish home from five yards with just a minute on the clock.

Understandably, Barça took time to find some composure. There were a few hairy moments for their backline, but it would be Messi who had the next real chance. He seized on a Ramos slip, jinked past Pepe, but saw his low effort saved on the stretch by Casillas. Two chances followed for Madrid – first for Benzema, whose header was well gathered by Valdés; then for a subdued Cristiano who had a close-range opportunity but sliced it wide.

From here Barcelona started to find their feet, keeping possession for longer spells. And by half an hour they were back in the game. Messi was the architect, bursting forward from the halfway line, dodging three tackles and posting Alexis through on goal. Under pressure from Pepe and Coentrão the Chilean found the bottom-right corner with precision.

With Barcelona’s ascendancy continuing into the second half it was probably no surprise that Real Madrid were becoming more forceful in the 50-50s, and the rancour that had plagued last season’s fixtures resurfaced intermittently. Ramos, Alonso, Pepe and Diarra were all booked, as increasingly dangerous tackles started to fly in.

Then, after a period of sustained possession, Xavi lashed a volley on goal from outside the area. Marcelo got a block in, but the ball skewed off his shin and span beyond the despairing reach of Casillas. Real Madrid were finding it increasingly difficult to get forward, but still posed a threat; Cristiano somehow managed to head a cross by Kaka wide from six yards.

The home team was punished almost instantly by a slick counter-attack. Messi set Alves free down the right wing, and Cesc stooped to meet his deep cross at the back-post to take the score to 3-1. There were subsequent chances for both teams, but the result never looked in doubt for Barcelona

1-0 Benzema (min 1)
1-1
Alexis (min 29)
1-2
Xavi (min 52)
1-3 Cesc (min 65)


Barcelona’s Young Stars Breeze Past BATE

December 7th, 2011

FC Barcelona triumphed 4-0 at the Camp Nou against Belarusian side BATE Borisov on Tuesday night, despite fielding a side composed mostly of young Barça B players. Midfielder Sergi Roberto opened the scoring in the first half, before Martín Montoya and two goals from Pedro completed a commanding performance.

With qualification and top spot firmly secured, Guardiola was able to offer a tantalising glimpse of Barcelona’s future, giving game time to highly rated young talents like Sergi Roberto, Martín Montaya and Rafinha, the brother of Thiago, who also started the match tonight. Meanwhile Isaac Cuenca continued his recent run in the first team and demonstrated throughout the evening that he has what it takes to hold his position down as the season wears on.

From the first whistle, Barça asserted control of this encounter – with just a couple of minutes on the clock Rafinha worked some space in the area and got a shot away, but BATE ‘keeper Gutor pushed it wide at the near post.

Rafinha was operating in Messi’s withdrawn forward position and looked very lively in the opening stages, also heading a Maxwell cross just over. The ever-improving Cuenca lashed a 25-yeard shot just wide, and also instigated a fine move that Sergi Roberto fired just wide.

At the other end Marc Bartra showed great presence of mind, flicking an awkward BATE cross over the head of an onrushing attacker.

Minutes later it was Sergi Roberto who would open the scoring – Thiago strode forward, and when his attempted pass to Pedro was cut out, Sergi was on hand to tuck the ball clinically into the bottom corner.

Martín Montoya, the right-back also had an impressive night, overlapping time and again to get into dangerous attacking positions. He might have had an assist in the first half, but went one better on the stroke of the hour, when he played a fabulous one-two with Isaac Cuenca before taking the ball in his stride a producing a calm finish into the roof of the net.

By now Barcelona were playing with supreme confidence and it was a joy to watch, especially against what should be considered relatively seasoned opposition. The move of the night came a matter of minutes after the second goal. After a delightful passage of pass and move, Cuenca got possession at the byline and cut the ball back for Pedro, who finished first time through Gutor’s legs.

Isaac Cuenca was pulling the strings for his tea, and BATE had no answer. With ten minutes to go he picked up the ball from just outside the area and smashed a shot that clipped the corner of the post. And it would be Cuenca who played a role in the final goal of the night as well. In the closing staged he drew a foul from BATE midfielder Volodko, and Pedro sent the ‘keeper the wrong way from the penalty spot to add extra gloss to an impressive night’s work.

1-0 Sergi Roberto (min 34)
2-0 Montoya (min 58)
3-0 Pedro (min 61)
4-9 Pedro (min 86)


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