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Last minute goal from Messi puts Argentina through to next round

June 23rd, 2014

An injury time goal from Lionel Messi ensured victory for Argentina and put them through to the next round of the World Cup.

Saturday saw the Argentine national squad face Iran, who played a solid game against the South Americans. Both Messi and Mascherano played the entire  minutes, with the latter making his 100th appearance for Argentina. The match looked to end in a goalless draw, with the Iranians at times looking dangerous, but a brilliant bit of play from Messi saw the only goal of the match and put Argentina at the top of Group F.

Argentina play their final group stage match on Wednesday against Nigeria, who drew against Iran and beat Bosnia and Herzegovina 1-0 and so lie in second place.

 


Xavi set to quit FC Barcelona

June 23rd, 2014

Xavi Hernandez is to quit FC Barcelona and headed for Qatar according to reports. A long time feature of the Barçá squad, Xavi was brought up in Barcelona youth training programme, la Masia, and made his first team debut in 1998 and quickly made himself felt in the midfield. Vice-captain to Puyol from 2004, recently Xavi took over captaincy from Puyol.

Following the departure of Gerardo Martino and Luis Enrique coming on board to oversee the new Barça project it is clear that the squad will look very different to that playing the 2013-2014 season. It is understandable that aging players, such as Puyol and Xavi, want to hang up their boots or play for big bucks overseas until they retire, and in the case of Xavi it is said that he doesn’t see where it would fit into the new squad.

 


Spain exits World Cup after defeat by Chile

June 19th, 2014

Spain’s aging squad with a number of FC Barcelona players proved to be no match for Chile last night, when the Spanish national squad was beaten 2-0. Following the opening match in which Spain was humiliated by Holland 5-1 this is the end of the road for Spain, who will soon be returning home after facing Australia next week.

Hopes had been high for the Spanish selection and while thoughts of winning the trophy for a second time in succession may have been unrealistic, I don’t think anyone expected such a pitiful display. In the two matches played so far Spain has scored just a single goal and that was from a penalty.

The age of the players may well be a contributing factor in the team’s performance, and perhaps the main reason for them doing so poorly. If so it shows a lack of realism at the top and a lack of strategic thinking for the Spanish selection.

Following Spain’s triumphant return from South Africa four years ago, Vicente del Bosque’s position was assured as coach. But with these results there is no question that he will go. The question is, will he resign before the Spanish football association sacks him?

 


Ivan Rakitic to sign 5 year contract with FC Barcelona

June 17th, 2014

FC Barcelona and Sevilla have come to an agreement over Ivan Rakitic, who is due to sign a 5 year contract with the Catalan club. As part of the agreement Denis Suárez will transfer to Sevilla for the next two seasons.

Rakitic was Sevilla’s captain and lead the team to the Europa League title this last season, generally playing in the central midfield. He is currently in Brazil, where it represents the Croatian national squad.


Club Leon to play in Gamper

June 17th, 2014

The annual Joan Gamper trophy is this year scheduled for 20th August, when Mexican Club León de Guanajuato visits the Nou Camp.

Former Barça player Rafa Marquez has played at Club Leon since 2012 and it is the first time the club will contest the trophy. The match will also act as a farewell to both Carles Puyol and Victor Valdes as players.

Other summer fixtures include matches against Nice on 2nd August and HJK Helsinki on 9th August.


Messi goal helps Argentina to victory

June 16th, 2014

After Brazil’s opening match and Spain’s humiliation at the hands of the Dutch, last night saw Argentina take centre stage captained by Barça superstar Lionel Messi.

Despite often being considered the best player in the world, Messi is yet to make an impact on the World Cup. And despite admitting to nerves last night his move when it came resulted in a fantastic goal, only his second World Cup goal in nine matches, the last being in 2006!

Argentina went ahead against Bosnia and Herzegovina early on thanks to an own goal by Sead Kolašinac, with the Argentine side certainly lacking against a side that had never scored a World Cup goal. However, after the break and a change of formation, Argentina started to look far more comfortable and Gonzalo Higuain helped set up a spectacular goal for Messi 20 minutes into the second half.

With Argentina now looking more comfortable and with a two goal advantage things were looking far better. Five minutes from the end Vedad Ibišević closed the gap but Argentina held onto their lead to take three points to head Group F.

Argentina’s next match is against Iran on 21st June.

1-0 Kolašinac (min 3)
2-0 Messi (min 65)
2-1 Ibišević (min 85)


Disastrous World Cup opener for Spain

June 14th, 2014

Spain’s opening match in the 2014 World Cup against Holland turned into an unmitigated disaster, when the reigning champions were defeated 5-1.

Seven Barça players were on the pitch last night and as this article on the BBC points out, none of Real Madrid’s attackers is Spanish while just one player from current la liga champions, Atletico Madrid, took part.

The squad is also mature, with seven players over thirty and it may be that the current Spanish squad is just too old to compete at the level required to get anywhere near good enough to lift the World Cup trophy for the second time in succession.


Fabregas inks deal with Chelsea

June 13th, 2014

After his three seasons at FC Barcelona, Cesc Fabregas is to make a return to Premier League football after confirming a deal with Chelsea, under Jose Mourinho.

His departure had been widely expected and with a host of players expected to leave over the summer the new look Barça project is well under way. The shape and form of the squad for the 2014/2015 season is far from clear at the moment though and no doubt the FC Barcelona talent scouts will be taking the pick of the world’s players out in Brazil at the moment.

The UK press is reporting a £30 million deal, with the contract for 5 years.


Neymar scores 2 goals in World Cup opener

June 13th, 2014

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.


Luis Enrique undergoes appendix op

June 10th, 2014

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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