FC Barcelona News
Friday’s Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao at Atletico Madrid’s Vicente Calderón Stadium marked the end of an era, the last match with Pep Guardiola at the helm of FC Barcelona.
Even before it was played the match had been controversial, with Real Madrid objecting to plans to play the match at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium; the league authorities were slow to make their minds up over the date; and in the last week there wasa call by Madrid’s mayor to postpone the match as the date coincided with a pro-Franco march in the city; of course, what could be worse for Madrid, hosting a match between a Catalan and a Basque team?
And then on the day there were reports of coaches ferrying supporters of both teams to Madrid being stopped by the police and having banners and whistles confiscated! Yes, Spain has a long way to go in some respects as some elements clearly believe they are living in a totalitarian state where such behaviour is acceptable; in the end when the Spanish national anthem was played it was drowned out by the jeers of both sides.
FC Barcelona scored early on with Pedro opening; Messi scored after minute 19; and then Pedro scored the last goal of the match in the 24th minute. Afterwards Barcelona celebrated with Pep Guardiola’s final title for the club after the disappointment of the Spanish League and Champions League titles. And during the celebrations Barça’s supporters started to chant the name of their opponent, as Carles Puyol carried both Catalan and Basque flags around the stadium to celebrate.
1-0 Pedro (min 2)
2-0 Messi (min 19)
3-0 Pedro (min 24)
Barcelona defeated Valencia 2-0 at the Camp Nou on Wednesday to set up a meeting with Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Copa del Rey. The goals came from two stylish moves, finished by Cesc in the first half and Xavi in the second.
Valencia looked motivated and energetic in the opening stages, and managed to fashion a couple of early chances before Barcelona had been able to hit their stride. Firstly Ruíz, snuck in at the near-post, but could only slice his effort wide.
Then Mathieu looked up and picked out Fenghouli with a through-ball from the left, but Barça’s defence recovered and the winger grazed the side-netting under pressure. From there Barcelona began to find their composure, and some of the attacking movement over the next half an hour was sublime.
Barcelona took the lead with their first real attack – Messi dropped deep and lofted a staggering 40-yard pass over the Valencia backline into the path of Cesc, who barely had to adjust his stride before flicking the ball over Diego Alves with the outside of his boot to complete a fantastic move.
Minutes later, Messi intercepted a ball out by Rami before jinking past the defender. His shot was saved by Diego Alves, and rebounded to Cuenca, who took a touch before dispatching a shot just wide of the left post. Meanwhile Cesc was in real form – he clipped another lofted through-pass for Alexis, whose shot was deflected just wide. Then, as the half was coming to an end, he picked up the ball from the right and ran at the Valencia defence, evading a couple of challenges before forcing yet another Diego Alves save.
As in the first half, Valencia looked dangerous immediately after the restart. Jonas found Jordi Alba, who nodded past Puyol, beating the defender for pace. Pinto read the situation well this time and rushed out to close down the angle and make an important near-post save.
Barcelona settled once more though, and Cuenca started to shine on the left flank. In a lovely passage of play, the youngster dribbled in off the touchline and put Messi through with a clever reverse-pass, but the Argentine’s shot was deflected over. Messi was also creating opportunities of his own. In one dazzling run he evaded three Valencia defenders, but saw his effort pushed around the post by the increasingly overworked Diego Álvez.
There was one last scare at the other end of the pitch, when Pinto was caught off his line. Aduriz’ chip was on target, but Mascherano was covering and headed the ball off the line.
As the match entered it last ten minutes, Barcelona ended the match as contest. In another flowing move, Alexis was released by Messi down the left; the Chilean squared for Cesc, who laid it off deftly for Xavi on the overlap. The midfielder took a touch before driving it into the top-left corner to confirm Barça’s place in the final.
1-0 Fabregas (min 15)
2-0 Xavi (min 81)
Barcelona drew 1-1 against Valencia on Wednesday night, in a competitive first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final. Barça went behind to a Jonas goal in the first half and fired back soon after through Carles Puyol. Messi missed a penalty in a second half that Barcelona dominated.
The game was a remarkably even contest early on, as Barcelona kept the ball well, but Valencia posed a threat on the counter and had the better chances. Pablo Piatti was looking especially dangerous on the right flank, playing clever passes and cutting in onto his left foot.
Messi went on one driving run, but saw his shot blocked after he wriggled his way into the area. At the other end Soldado was fed by Piatti, but was blocked at the edge of the area by the onrushing Pinto. Replays suggested that Barça’s substitute ‘keeper might even have handled the ball outside the area.
The threat from Valencia was growing, urged on by the boisterous home support. Soldado pulled back from the defence to crash a stylish first-time volley just over the bar. And just after Alexis wasted a presentable opportunity crafted by Cesc, Valencia had grabbed the lead. Mathieu was set free down the left and cut the ball back for Jonas to side-foot into the top right corner, leaving Pinto with no chance.
Barcelona’s response was as impressive as it was quick. After a period of possession Cuenca weaved in from the right wing, dancing past two challenges before flicking an intelligent ball through for Alexis. The Chilean saw his effort well saved by Diego Alves, but when the resulting corner was sent deep, Carles Puyol rose at the back post nod a firm downward header past Valencia’s stranded ‘keeper.
Early in the second half Alexis saw a goal just ruled out for offside, and Piatti twisted past Abidal to shoot just over from the right and angle of the penalty area. Then, ten minutes into the half, Thiago chested the ball down in the Valencia area before tapping it away from Miguel, who took the youngster’s legs for a penalty. Messi stepped up to take the resulting spot-kick, but seemed hesitant in his run-up – Diego Alves guessed the right way and pushed the relatively tame effort away to his left.
Barça’s were not discouraged though – Busquets only just failed to make a decisive glancing contact with a Messi free-kick, and Abidal fired a powerful near-post effort that Diego Alves had to palm out for a corner. When the ball came in Messi rose to head the ball back across goal, but Piqué could only send it over under pressure from the Valencia defence.
By now Barcelona were in charge of the contest, but just couldn’t convert their opportunities into goals. The best chance as the match wound down fell to Dani Alves, who played a sublime one-two with Messi before smashing his effort off the bottom of the left-hand post.
1-0 Jonas (min 27)
1-1 Puyol (min 35)
Following Real Madrid’s qualification for the Copa del Rey quarter finals later this month and FC Barcelona going through after defeating Osasuna, football fans can look forward to two clasicos both next week and the week that follows.
On 17/18/19 January Real Madrid play at home, with the Nou Camp leg a week later on 24/25/26. These dates will be confirmed shortly and if you’d like to order now you can do so to ensure you don’t miss out on what will be another exciting encounter between the two sides.
Last season the Copa del Rey was Real Madrid’s only title and so Jose Mourinho’s boys will be looking to at least make it through to the next round and defeat their Catalan arch-rival even if they don’t win the title.
Cesc Fàbregas and Lionel Messi helped bring FC Barcelona within touching distance of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals, each scoring two goals in a comfortable 4-0 first leg victory over Osasuna at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night.
Barcelona settled quickly in this game, showing no signs of rust after their two-week break. A couple of early forays aside, Osasuna were soon pinned back in their own half by the home team’s intelligent passing and movement. Alves dragged a left-footed shot just wide – the livewire Brazilian would be a constant threat down the right wing, given even more freedom playing in front of a three-man defence.
It didn’t take long for Barcelona to make the breakthrough. Alves carried the ball inside from the right, feeding Xavi, whose close control helped him evade three defenders before laying a pass on for Cesc to score an easy tap in.
Cuenca was also impressive down the left flank – he worked some space before finding Alves on the opposite flank, who once again worked the ball to Xavi, but the captain could only shoot just wide.
By now the attacks were relentless and it was no surprise when Barcelona doubled their lead. With 20 minutes gone Xavi fed Cesc on the edge of the area, who controlled the ball on the turn with an immaculate first touch, before clipping a perfectly weighted chip over the head of Riesgo in the Osasuna goal.
Barcelona were looking reinvigorated after their winter break, and continued to carve out chances. Riesgo needed to react quickly to close range shots from Puyol and Thiago, as Osasuna somehow managed to maintain a two-goal deficit. At the end of the half he was called upon once more, tipping a chip by Dani Alves over the bar after a jinking run by the Brazilian.
There were a few contentious moments early on in the second half. Cuenca was clearly fouled on the edge of the penalty are as he skipped past Damià, but referee Borbalán wasn’t interested. Then Messi, on for Pedro, was held back as he bustled into the Osasuna area, but also saw his appeals waved away.
Within minutes of Messi’s entry though, Barcelona once again looked formidable in attack. The Argentine missed the goal by a matter of centimetres after wriggling past two defenders, swapping passes with Alves and neatly chipping the stranded Riesgo.
It mattered little though as Messi would be on the scoresheet minutes later. After Osasuna failed to clear a goalmouth scramble, Cesc aimed a cross to the far post and Messi produced his now customary leap to nod the ball home. He nearly got another shortly after, when Alexis teed him up in the six-yard box, but Riesgo made yet another reaction stop.
There was still time for one more goal. Xavi looked up and saw Messi open on the left-side of the box. The diminutive Argentine turned, looked up and curled a shot past Riesgo to complete an assured performance.
1-0 Cesc (min 13)
2-0 Cesc (min 18)
3-0 Messi (min 74)
4-0 Messi (min 94)
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.
FC Barcelona achieved a narrow 1-0 first leg victory in their Copa del Rey tie against local club CE L’Hospitalet on Wednesday night. The Segunda B team, from the third tier of Spanish football, offered stout resistance, with their ‘keeper Jose Moragon producing some saves of the highest quality to keep the score-line down. In the end it was a long-range strike from Andres Iniesta that gave Barcelona the advantage.
Though a city in its own right, Hospitalet de Llobregat is practically a suburb of Barcelona, ensuring one of the shortest away trips the Barça will have to make. With most of the club’s foreign internationals and U21 players away with their national teams, Guardiola had to select a team made up mostly of Spanish senior players, accompanied by a sprinkling of younger talent. Among the less experienced players on show were Jonathan Dos Santos at right-back, Andreu Fontas at centre-half, and Barcelona B star, Christian Tello on the right wing.
As is so often the case in cup competitions, the lower league team raised its game during the first half, much to the delight of the Hospi faithful at La Feixa Llarga. It was Barcelona who were dictating terms, but the home team was doing well to make life difficult, switching quickly diligently between defence and attack.
There were good attempts by David Villa and Keita, but Moragon in the Hospi goal was in great form and his full-stretch save from the latter was especially impressive. Hospitalet replied with a firmly struck free-kick, which Pinto stopped and then gathered on the second attempt.
Barcelona were finding it difficult to create much space, but as the half went on they began to make inroads – Cesc played a one-two with Tello before seeing his attempt saved at the near-post. The opening goal was a moment of inspiration from the classy Iniesta – he picked the ball up 30 yards out and crashed an effort into the top right corner, leaving Moragon with no chance. And then at the end of the first half Puyol rose highest at the far post, but his fine header hit the upright.
Early in the second half Barcelona started playing with a little more fluidity. Sumptuous passing moves produced chances for David Villa and Cesc Fabregas, but neither player could provide the necessary finish. Clearly unaccustomed to the high tempo, the home side retreated further into their own half during the second period, with a few of their players succumbing to cramp.
Moragon had to be at his best to keep out a fiercely-struck free-kick by David Villa, and later in the game reacted sharply to beat away a deflected long-range shot by Barça’s Asturian striker. In reply Hospitalet managed a dangerous-looking header by substitute Pedraza early in the half. But their best opportunity arrived in the closing stages, when the same player got on the end of a quick break, forcing a spectacular reaction save from the otherwise underworked Pinto.
0-1 Iniesta (min 42)
FC Barcelona drew with Athletic de Bilbao last night to ean their place in the Copa del Rey quater-final. Abidal scored Barcelona’s only goal, the first he has scored for the club. However, the hosts equalised 5 minutes from the end ending in a 1-1l draw, but letting Barcelona go through thanks to the 0-0 draw at the Nou Camp before Christmas.
0-1, Abidal (min 75)
1-1, Llorente (min 85)
An unfamiliar side walked onto the pitch last night as FC Barcelona faced AC Ceuta in the Copa del Rey. While Ceuta may be an unfamiliar sight in the Nou Camp, so was the Barça squad, with Bojan as captain.
However, despite fielding a squad largely composed of B team players, the Catalans dominated from the start. In the first seven minutes the scored two goals although Ceuta got one back 10 minutes before the break.
After the break Pedro opened the scoring for Barcelona, with Bojan adding a forth goal quart of an hour later. And with Leo Messi coming on in the 61st minute, it was almost certain that the Argentinian would add one to Barça’s tally – he did exactly that in the 68th minute.
The result means that Barça goes through to the next round of the Copa del Rey.
1-0, Nolito (min 2)
2-0, Milito (min 7)
2-1, Guzmán (min 35)
3-1, Pedro (min 50)
4-1, Bojan (min 64)
5-1, Messi (min 68)