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Messi & Mascherano through to World Cup final with Argentina

July 10th, 2014

Barça players Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano are through to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final after Argentina beat Holland on penalties last night.

Neither side looked to be particularly on form last night, although Messi had his occasional moments, and overall the match lacked the kind of spectacle you might have expected. After approaching the end of the second half it looked increasingly likely that the match would go to extra time and it was little surprise to end 0-0.

With neither side seriously threatening in extra time it was clear that it would take a good bit of luck for the match not to go to penalties. And here was where Argentina had a clear advantage, with the Dutch keeper having failed to stop a single penalty in his career. 16 out of 16 penalties had gone past him.

Vlaar went first for Holland, failing to put eh ball past Romero, followed by Messi who put Argentina ahead. Robben scored for the Netherlands, followed by Garay to put the Argentine squad ahead 2-1. Sneijder missed, while Aguero puit Argentina further ahead on 3-1. And then Kuyt and Rodríguez both scored to put Argentina into the final of the World Cup.

The Argentine squad faces Germany in the final in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.

Brazil crashes out of 2014 World Cup

July 9th, 2014

After losing Neymar through injury against Colombia last Friday the national squad appeared to go into meltdown, completely losing confidence in the team’s ability to progress to the final. What few can have guessed is how Brazil would collapse against Germany though.

The Germans went ahead in the 11th minute, and were two up after 23. But what came next is beyond belief, scoring in the 24th and then 26th minutes and the 29th to end the first half 5-0.

The second half wasn’t quite so impressive, but Germany had already done enough and the Brazilians much have just been waiting for the final whistle so they could escape the humiliation meted out. Germany scored two more in the second half though to put them on 7-0 and it was only in the dying moments of the match that Brazil snatched back a little dignity to score in the 90th minute for a final score of 7-1, Brazil’s worst ever defeat.

We all knew Neymar is good. But so good he carried Brazil into the semi-finals?

Argentina and Messi through to World Cup semis

July 7th, 2014

Leo Messi and Argentina made it through to the semi-final stage of the 2014 World Cup after narrowly beating Belgium 1-0 on Saturday.

Argentina scored an early goal to go ahead in the eighth minute thanks to Gonzalo Higuaín, but despite Messi not scoring he started the play that resulted in the only goal of the match and was on form throughout the match.

Argentina faces The Netherlands next on Wednesday at 9pm BST at São Paulo, the first time the Argentine national squad has made the semi-finals in 24 years, when Maradona was with the squad.

Neymar injury ends his World Cup as Brazil qualifies for semi-finals

July 7th, 2014

Brazil beat Colombia 2-1 on Friday to earn their place in the World Cup semi-final against Germany. However, rather than jubilation at their success, the match was overshadowed by an injury to Neymar that will see him out of action for some time.

At the end of the match a clash with Juan Zuniga saw Neymar writhing in pain as Real Madrid’s Marcello anxiously tended his Brazilian team mate. Stretchered off in tears, it was soon announced that he will take no further part in the competition after fracturing a vertebra.

Although the injury will not require surgery, doctors have said it is painful and his back will need to be immobilised and it has been reported that while in agony on the ground he was unable to feel his legs, causing much concern. Although not as series as first feared, Neymar is certain to miss the start of the season with Barcelona.

The loss of Brazil’s star player has left the squad in disarray, showing the problems of relying too heavily on a single player, something FC Barcelona has also suffered in the past with Messi.

Brazil faces Germany at Belo Horizonte on Tuesday at 9pm BST.


New Barça goalkeeper Claudio Bravo arrives in Barcelona

July 7th, 2014

FC Barcelona’s replacement for Victor Valdes arrived in Barcelona at the weekend after returning from Brazil after Chile exited the 2014 World Cup. Chile was defeated by Brazil on penalties after the match ended 1-1 after extra time last weekend.

Bravo has played for Real Sociedad since 2006, initially as the second goalkeeper but earning a starting place in the squad for good in 2008. His success there brought him to the attention of the Catalan giants.

Bravo signed a four year deal with Barça at the beginning of July for a reported €12 million.

Ivan Rakitic signs for Barça [video]

July 1st, 2014

Ivan Rakitic officially signed for FC Barcelona this morning after completing his medical and will wear the number 4 shirt.

Watch the video below for more details.

Neymar seals Brazil’s place in World Cup quarter-finals in penalty shoot out

June 30th, 2014

While Spain and England were among the early casualties of this year’s World Cup, the host nation remains in the competition after beating Chile on Saturday. Brazil went ahead in the 18th minute, with Barça player Alexis Sanchez scored the equalizer for Chile just after the half hour mark but, try as they might, the match went to extra time and then to penalties.

While Brazil’s David Luiz scored from the spot, Chile’s first shot failed to go in; and Brazil’s second attempt failed as did Alexis for Chile; both Real Madrid’s Marcello and Charles Aránguiz scored; Brazil’s next missed, but Chile’s went in to leave the teams level; and then Neymar scored while Chile’s Gonzalo Jara failed, ending Chile’s World Cup campaign. Brazil next faces Colombia on Friday.

The other team to watch out for of course is Argentina, with FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano. The Argentine national squad plays Switzerland tomorrow evening for a place in the quarter-finals.

Messi scores 2 against Nigeria

June 26th, 2014

Lionel Messi scored two first half goals in yesterday’s match against Nigeria, which the Argentine squad beat the Africans 3-2.

Messi scored the opener 3 minutes in, but immediately after Ahmed Musa equalised. Messi then put Argentina ahead in injury time prior to the break, with Musa again equalising within 2 minutes of the second half.

However, Marcos Rojo scored the decider at the 59 minute mark and Argentina end the group stage at the head of Group F on 9 points.

Argentina will play Switzerland in the second round on 1st July.

Why FC Barcelona should pass on signing Luis Suarez

June 25th, 2014

One player who is currently being linked to FC Barcelona during this year’s transfer window in Luis Suarez, currently at Liverpool. While there is no denying his skill on the pitch though, last night’s World Cup match between Uruguay and Italy demonstrated why Barça should not touch him, despite being awarded Player of the Year for the 2013-2014 season.

Once again Suarez is accused of biting another player, and although the footage is unclear, his alleged victim,  Giorgio Chiellini, certainly does appear to have teeth marks on his shoulder following the incident. If found guilty it will be the third time he has been sanctioned and certain to be booted out of the World Cup.

Previously he has been suspended from league football for 7 matches by the Dutch football association for biting a PSV player in 2010; he was suspended for 10 Premier League matches in 2013 after biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanović.

As well as lengthy suspensions for biting opponents, Suarez has also been found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra in 2011, for which he was suspended for 8 games. Furthermore, he refused to shake the hand of Evra when they next met.

Given FC Barcelona’s strong stance on racism at matches, particularly following the incident when a banana was thrown at Dani Alves (who then showed how to deal with that kind of abuse in style), there can be no way they should even consider Suarez.

Who knows what the new Project Barça is going to be all about, but FC Barcelona is and always should set the examples that other clubs follow, to lead by example and really be more than a club.

Spain chalks up win against Australia while Neymar helps put Brazil through

June 24th, 2014

The Spanish national squad played its last match of the 2014 World Cup yesterday and at least exited the competition having notched up a win. Spain beat Australia 3-0, a total World Cup goal tally of 4 after the penalty scored against Holland and so at least will return home with a little dignity.

Also yesterday, Brazil beat Cameroon 4-1 with Barça’s Neymar scoring the host nation’s first two goals, the second of which was a fantastic bit of play. The result sees Brazil at the top of Group A and through to face Chile on Saturday.

While a good chunk of FC Barcelona players say goodbye to the World Cup with Spain’s exit, at least with some Barça players remain in the competition and with four goals to his name, Neymar is the highest scoring player in the competition.

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