FC Barcelona News
FC Barcelona celebrated both Tito Vilanova and Eric Abidal’s return to the Nou Camp on Saturday night with a spectacular 5-0 against Mallorca. The Barça coach has recently returned from New York where he was receiving treatment for cancer of the salivary duct, while Abidal came on in the second half for the first time since his liver transplant last year.
With Messi out of action after the draw against Paris Saint-Germain last Tuesday and with the return leg of the Champions League quarterfinal on Wednesday some of the big guns were missing from the squad. However, Iniesta came on as captain while Cesc slotted in to replace Messi.
In fact by the half time whistle with Barça four goals ahead the match was all but over with two each from Cesc and Alexis. After the break Cesc scored his hattrick immediately to make it 5-0. While that was to be the last goal of the match, another highlight was when Eric Abidal came replace Gerard Pique in the 69th minute to huge cheers from the crowd.
1-0 Fábregas (min 19)
2-0 Alexis (min 21)
3-0 Fábregas (min 36)
4-0 Alexis (min 37)
5-0 Fábregas (min 45)
Barcelona gained a convincing win against Levante on Sunday night, allowing them to open the lead up over Real Madrid to 11 points, after their archrival lost against Betis the previous night.
While the first half ended without a goal, just two minutes after the break saw Barça’s first from Leo Messi after being set up by Iniesta. Five minutes later the Argentine made it 2-0, once again thanks to Iniesta, who was perhaps man of the night; minutes later he put the ball into the Levante net to make it 3-0 to the Catalans, and he helped create the fourth goal for Barça, scored by Cesc Fabregas.
All in all a useful win against Levente, who went into the match in the number four spot in the league. They have now dropped to six, but even so have made leaps and bounds in the last two seasons when they were considered one of the weakest teams in the league.
0-1 Messi (min 47)
0-2 Messi (min 52)
0-3 Iniesta (min 57)
0-4 Fabregas (min 63)
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)
We’re still in that awkward point of the year between the end of one season and the start of the next. And while this time last year we had the World Cup in South Africa to keep us entertained, this year there is little but transfer rumours to keep us occupied.
Luckily the fixture list for the Spanish League will be drawn later this month – I don’t yet know the exact date yet – and as soon as I have details I’ll send you an email!
Summer Fixtures 2011
Barça is off to America for a short series of matches and when they return it’s for the Spanish Supercup. This year they face Real Madrid and you can book the first leg in Madrid (August 14th) and the second leg in Barcelona (August 17th) from the website; and they also play an as yet undecided team in the Gamper Trophy on August 22nd.
Talking of transfer rumours, for FC Barcelona that naturally means Cesc Fabregas, who has a long held ambition to return to Barça; he was brought up in the club’s youth academy along side Leo Messi and Gerard Pique and the president of FC Barcelona, Sandro Rossell, seems to be going out of his way to make that happen.
I keep reading that he’ll be signed by this date or that, but it hasn’t come to fruition yet. The other player being linked to Barcelona is Alexis Sanchez, who is also being linked to Man Utd.
However, is a new midfielder or winger what Barcelona needs right now? If I were looking for players I think I’d be looking to strengthen the defence.
Carles Puyol is a great player but years of giving his all for Barcelona are taking their toll and he was out for a good chunk of the season with a knee injury, and when he’s not playing his absence really felt. While I certainly hope that his recent knee operation will allow him to play at the start of the season there is no guarantee that he will be match fit for the entire season.
OK, that’s enough of my armchair analysis, happy Independence Day to all US readers and speak soon to all!
FC Barcelona’s presidential elections took place yesterday with Sandro Rosell the clear winner on 61% of the vote.
With Joan Laporta’s time in office over after a staggeringly successful time in the role, it is perhaps surprising that Rosell had such support; he was for a time Laporta’s right hand man until they spectacularly fell out.
But maybe it was because he was responsible for bringing Ronaldinho to the club; or simply because it has been clearly had his sights on the presidency for several years and was considered the natural successor.
In his victory speech he said “I want a Barça that will recapture the world’s imagination” – I’m neither pro nor anti Rosell, but that sounds like the biggest load of guff I’ve heard for a long time; Barça already capture the world’s imagination, that’s one of the reasons that we have several thousand people signed up for our mailing list and why people from all over the world buy tickets from us.
And he goes on with more guff; “one that unifies and does not separate while being committed to the country and to the causes of solidarity”.
One of Rosell’s priorities will be to ensure that Pep Guardiola stays as coach. He will also need to finalise the long expected deal with Arsenal to bring Cesc Fabregas to the club that Laporta got under way. The English press is reporting that a deal has gone on behind the scenes involving Rosell.
When he takes over on July 1st it’s at a club that is in pretty good shape. As well as winning the Spanish League he should find the club’s finances are looking much healthier than those of many; Real Madrid and Valencia spring to mind.
Just as well, since he plans on a €150 million development of the area around the Nou Camp rather than remodel the façade of the stadium. Time will tell how he gets on.
It’s a while since I sent any kind of news update on FC Barcelona, but with the Spanish League title sealed it seemed like time to take a bit of a break. Meanwhile, the wheels have continued to turn at Barça.
First thing on the agenda today is the FC Barcelona elections. Joan Laporta has overseen a spectacularly successful presidency at the club but it is now his turn to move on to pursue a career in the political arena. At least with the boardroom bust-ups he had at Barça he will be prepared for it.
The election campaigns of Agustí Benedito, Jaume Ferrer, Marc Ingla and Sandro Rosell are now in the final days, with club members voting on Sunday 13th June.
While the presidential election going on in the background, it’s important not to forget the players. So far Barça has signed David Villa from Valencia and while the long rumoured bid for Cesc Fàbregas was formalised with a €35 million offer, Arsenal have so far rejected it. Laporta has stressed that the lines of communication with Arsenal are still open and so it may just be that they are haggling over the price.
Meanwhile the rest of the footballing world is focused on South Africa. Victor Valdes has finally been selected for the Spanish squad along with several other Barça team mates; other national squads with Barça players include Argentina, France, Ivory Coast and Brazil.