FC Barcelona News
The 2014 FIFA World Cup opened last night in Brazil, with the host nation playing Croatia.
The Brazilian squad fielded both Dani Alves and Neymar in the match, but it was teammate and Real Madrid player Marcelo who made the first impact of the match when he opened the scoring for this year’s competition with an own goal.
Neymar later made up for it with 2 goals of his own, one from the penalty spot, but was awarded a yellow card for using his elbow while the Croatians called for him to be sent off. His first goal was superb, but the penalty looked like a poor decision. Brazil’s other goal was by Oscar, while Croatia had a goal of their own disallowed.
The final score was 3-1 to Brazil.
According to the official FC Barcelona website, manager Luis Enrique underwent emergency surgery for appendicitis at the weekend.
Although the timing must be frustrating just weeks into his new job, the operation was a success and he is expected to be discharged within a few days.
The Barça squad is due to go back to training in mid-July, but before that Enrique must be hard at work trying to shape his new look side: during the next few weeks we can expect a spate of new signings for the club.
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With just 10 days before the start of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the seven players from FC Barcelona selected for the national squad headed for the USA on Monday to participate in their final training camp before the big event and play a friendly against El Salvador.
The seven Barça players picked to play for Spain are Piqué, Jordi Alba, Sergio, Iniesta, Xavi, Cesc and Pedro and hopes will be high that Spain can again take the title as they did so memorably in 2010 with a squad dominated by Barcelona players.
Following the US tour the squad will fly to Curitiba during the group stage of the competition.
Former Barça captain Carles Puyol is to rejoin the club in September, taking on a role in the Football Department under Andoni Zubizarreta as an assistant to the sports management team.
It’s a great move for Puyol as it means he remains with the club he has always loved and, while he won’t be playing football, brings a strong work ethic and leadership skills while being well known both inside and outside FC Barcelona.
One competition that flies completely under the radar is the Copa de Catalunya, which on Wednesday was won by FC barcelona against Espanyol.
The cup has none of the prestige of other competitions with Barça fielding a squad mainly comprised of B-team players and a few years ago the final was cancelled when it became apparent that Barcelona did not intend to send the main squad to play.
The main question is why the competition continues to exist. While it might be prestigious enough for a second division team to win the title, FC Barcelona just can’t be bothered. It must be more to do with being overcommitted, with the league, Champions League and Copa del Rey. Many players also have commitments to national squads.
While the match ended goalless after full time, the match went to penalties. Barcelona walked away the winner after beating Espanyol 3-2 from the penalty spot.
Luis Enrique hosted his first press conference since being named as Barça coach on Monday, where he answered a number of questions about the style of the New Barça.
He talked about playing the kind of attacking football fans have come to expect of Barça but also emphasised defence. This is one area the team has been weak on for a number of years and it is surprising that the weakness not addressed previously. Now that Puyol has left the club though it is essential.
You can watch five minute highlights of the press conference below (overdubbed in English), in which he explains how he sees the club developing under his leadership:
You might also want to read Top 10 statements from Luis Enrique’s first press conference on the FC Barcelona website.
Barça has unveiled its kit for the 2014-2015 season with a return to the darker red and blue of the original shirts bold stripes.
According to the club, the crest has been updated too and for the first time the shirt features the yellow and red stripes of the Catalan flag at the front of the collar.
The new kit is designed by Nike and features a number of high tech features designed to offer players optimal comfort while playing.
Gerard Pique yesterday extended his contract with FC Barcelona by four years to 2019. Pique’s contract was due to run our at the end of next season but has come to an agreement with the club and will sign the new contract shortly.
At the same time Cesc Fabregas is reportedly being made available, with the club looking to see how how much they might be offered. His current valuation is around €40 million. Other players the club is open to offers for include Mascherano, Alex Song, Pedro, Alexis, Tello and Dani Alves.
FC Barcelona has inked an improved deal with Lionel Messi that will secure he remains with the club for the foreseeable future. A provisional deal was agreed at the end of last week and finally signed yesterday.
Although details have not been released it is reported the contract will earn Messi the equivalent of £16.3 million a year, making him the best paid player in the world.
In exchange for the higher payout from Barça Messi has given up a proportion of his image rights, which will be paid to FC Barcelona instead.
As well as announcing the signing a new coach yesterday, the board of FC Barcelona also announced that Marc-André Ter Stegen had been signed to replace Victor Valdes in goal, with José Manuel Pinto let go after more than six years as the reserve keeper.
Ter Stegen is just 22 years old and so has the potential for a long stint ahead of him at the Catalan club. He previously played at Borussia Mönchengladbach from 2011, making 107 appearances for the club after previously playing for the club’s reserve team.