FC Barcelona News
With the All Saints holiday on Friday, the Barcelona derby against Espanyol was played on Friday night rather than Saturday or Sunday as would be more normal.
Barcelona dominated possession from the outset, but were unable to break the Espanyol defence. Espanyol enjoyed a few moments of counter attack and came close to scoring after a mixup with Dani Alves, but Valdes made the save. Immediately afterwards Alves came close to opening the scoring but struck the Espanyol woodwork and in the end the first half ended goalless.
Back on after the break Barça looked revitalised and soon looked like they would score, with a Messi header that looked certain to go in saved by the Espanyol keeper, Kiko Casilla, and Neymar had a go at the goal too. In the end Neymar assisted Alexis to the only goal of the match in the 66th minute and while both teams sought to score, the remainder of the match was goalless.
1-0 Alexis (min 66)
FC Barcelona beat Espanyol last night in the final of the Copa Catalunya, played in Lleida.
Barcelona fielded a squad full of B-team players and found it difficult to overcome Espanyol, who they played in the league on Sunday, and it was Espanyol who scored the opener.
In fact, it looked until the end that Espanyol would take the title, with Cesc Fabregas only scoring for Barça in the 89th minute. When the match went to a penalty shootout Barcelona dominated, scoring 4 times to Espanyol’s 2.
Simao (min 19)
Fàbregas (min 89)
Goals from Alexis and Pedro took FC Barcelona a step closer to their aim of finishing the season on 100 points after meeting Espanyol on Sunday evening.
Espanyol were no walkover from the start but after 13 minutes of play saw Alexis open the scoring after a Villa assist. However, despite Barça’s relentless play only two other real chances came in the first half from Cesc and Iniesta.
Back on after the break Barcelona continued to dominate possession and on one occasion things were looking like they might happen, but Villa shot wide. It was only after Espanyol went down to ten men that Pedro put the ball into the Espanyol net from Xavi to end the night 2-0.
0-1 Alexis (min 13)
0-2 Pedro (min 86)
Barcelona’s first match of the New Year was marked by the Barcelona Derby, with city rivals Espanyol visiting the Nou Camp. Tito Vilanova was back in charge after the operation to remove a tumour on his salivary gland just before Christmas and his squad rewarded him well.
After Xavi opened the scoring in the ninth minute off Iniesta, but then Pedro scored two goals and finally Lionel Messi scored his first goal of 2013 in the 28th minute. Having reached four goals inside half an hour, the home side felt they had the game under control and eased back a little. While it looked as if they might increase their lead, Espanyol broke up the flow in the second half and Pedro, looking as if he would make his hat trick, had two goals ruled offside.
1-0 Xavi (min 9)
2-0 Pedro (min 14)
3-0 Pedro (min 26)
4-0 Messi (min 28)
Earlier today FC Barcelona announced that they would field their B-team against Espanyol in the Catalan Supercup on July 31st and the response of the Catalan football association has been to suspend the match.
We have therefore removed tickets from sale and unless a solution is found and the match goes ahead as planned, all clients will receive a full refund.
FC Barcelona will be playing Espanyol in the Catalan Supercup on July 31st. The match will be played at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys (the Olympic Stadium) and kicks of at 21:45.
Although Barça’s new signing, Jordi Alba, will be missing from the squad due to Olympic duties, and the match is unlikely to be seriously competitive, it should provide a good opportunity to watch both Barcelona’s main football teams play at what was until recently was Espanyol’s home stadium, but now considered neutral.
More info on the Catalan Supercup 2012.
A number of summer fixtures have been arranged from later this month and into August, prior to the 2012/2013 Spanish League at the end of August. The majority of fixtures are friendlies, but there is one big one lined up – the Spanish Supercup against Real Madrid on 22/23 August, which will be Tito Vilanova’s first real test.
Barça’s fixture list is as follows:
Hamburg v Barcelona
Selection Joueurs Locaux v Barcelona
Barcelona v Espanyol
Paris Sant-Germain v Barcelona
Manchester United v Barcelona
Barcelona v Sampdoria
Barcelona v Real Madrid
The fixtures for la liga will be drawn later this month. To receive details of the 2012/2013 season as soon as we have them confirmed make sure you join our mailing list, as well as a free weekly newsletter during the season.
The Camp Nou said a fond farewell to Pep Guardiola on Saturday night after Barcelona defeated Espanyol 4-0, with Lionel Messi grabbing all four goals. The Argentine got two from the penalty spot, one from a free-kick and another after latching onto a long pass.
Before Barcelona’s final home game of the season, the Camp Nou took the opportunity to thank Pep Guardiola for four seasons of unrivalled success, unfurling a giant banner with “We Love You, Pep” in Catalan. The visit of Espanyol offered an opportunity to bring his tenure as coach to a close with a win against one of the club’s two biggest rivals.
The first half was largely a quiet affair, though Barcelona were in near constant control. After a tentative opening, Messi jolted the game to life in the 11th minute when he curled a 25-yard free-kick past Cristian Alvarez to score his 47th goal in the league this season.
For much of the rest of the half Barça dominated possession, but Espanyol were resolute in defence and kept clear opportunities to a minimum.
Barcelona were equally watertight at the back, but going forward found their best chances coming from direct free-kicks. Iniesta forced Cristian Álvarez to make an excellent low diving save to keep out a free-kick destined for the bottom-right corner, and on the stroke of half-time another fine effort by Messi from the left hit the side-netting past the left post of the goal.
The home team’s superiority continued into the second half, and Barça began to get closer to the Espanyol goal, with Iniesta seeing two shots go narrowly wide – once after being put through by Pedro and later when a close range effort was deflected past the near post by an Espanyol defender after good interplay with Adriano.
Then in the 63rd minute Messi won a penalty. In a relatively debatable decision, Barça’s number 10 flicked the ball up and it caught the elbow of Cristian Gómez as he attempted to block. Messi scored his 48th of the season as he waited for the ‘keeper to move before sending the ball home off the right hand post.
Over the next ten minutes Espanyol enjoyed their best spell of the game when Forlín drove a volley at goal that Pinto pushed just wide of his right post, and later Mascherano produced a fantastic goal-line clearance after Weiss had got the better of Pinto.
But immediately after, Messi chested a long diagonal pass down, outpaced Víctor Sánchez and found the bottom right corner with a cool finish. The celebrations had barely finished when Busquets was felled in the penalty area by Forlín. Once again Messi stepped up to take the spot-kick and smashed the ball into the net to claim his 50th league goal of the season. The entire team then ran across to Pep Guardiola to celebrate together. And at full-time Guardiola took to the centre-circle to say goodbye to the fans amid emotional scenes.
1-0 Messi (min 11)
2-0 Messi (min 62)
3-0 Messi (min 72)
4-0 Messi (min 77)
Barcelona had to settle for a 1-1 draw away to Espanyol in the derby on Sunday night. Cesc headed Barça into an early lead, but his side was unable to build on it, and was pegged back at the death by Álvaro Vázquez. It was a tense, hard-fought encounter, in which key refereeing decisions went against Guardiola’s men.
The big story at kick-off was Iniesta’s return to the side, recovering from a strain picked up before the winter break. He took his place in a strong team, on the left side of central midfield in a 4-3-3.
Espanyol came flying out the traps in front of a raucous crowd at the Estadi Cornellà-El Prat, closing down Barcelona’s defenders at a ferocious tempo, and breaking quickly whenever in possession. Their pressure almost paid off in the first ten minutes when Sergio García rushed clear down the left side of the area and crossed for Verdú, whose initial headed effort was miraculously saved by Valdés, and Piqué was ready on the line to clear the follow up.
Barcelona soon woke up though and forced a number of close calls. First Cesc thought he’d scored when Messi intercepted Álvarez’ clearance and squared for him, but replays showed a handball by Messi in the build up. Alexis then went one-on-one with Álvarez, but never looked confident and was hustled wide by the ‘keeper. On their next attack though, Barcelona took the lead. Dani Alves surged forward down the right and picked out Cesc with a perfect cross. Cesc’s header was powerful and aimed at the bottom corner. Álvarez got his fingertips to it, but couldn’t keep it out.
The remainder of the half was relatively even, with both teams forcing slight openings without capitalising. Abidal had to be sharp to block a Thievy shot inside the area. At the other end Barça continued to threaten as Alexis posted Iniesta through, but his left-footed effort was deflected away by Álvarez. Puyol made a crucial block from Verdú, and then just before the half-time whistle Cesc cleverly turned past an Espanyol defender on the byline, but his close-range strike hit the outside of the near post.
The game remained poised at 1-0 after the break, with no clear sight of goal for either side. It wasn’t until half an hour in that some space opened up for Barça – Pedro, on for Alexis, fired a deep low cross that Messi met on the stretch with his right boot, ricocheting off the near-post and into the side-netting.
Espanyol hadn’t created much, but took their opportunity with 86 minutes gone. Raúl Rodríguez was released down the right and his cross was headed on by Thievy for Álvaro Vázquez to score from no more than a couple of yards out. Then in injury time Barcelona had real reason to feel aggrieved – Messi played Piqué in, and after his shot crashed off the cross-bar, Pedro’s follow-up was clearly pushed away by Raul Rodriguez’ arm.
0-1 Cesc (min 15)
1-1 Alvaro (min 85)
FC Barcelona registered a simple win against Espanyol in the Barcelona derby tonight, easing to a 2-0 victory against their local rivals. It was a professional but low-key victory – the perfect antidote to the acrimony that engulfed the recent series of Clásicos.
After an uneventful start, Iniesta opened the scoring in the first half with a stylish run and finish, while Gerard Piqué made it 2-0 with a straightforward headed finish from a Xavi corner. Barça now just need one point from their remaining three games to secure a 21st Primera División title.
Starting with his best front six, Guardiola was able to call on a strong team against a side that has offered stiff resistance in recent seasons. At the back Fontàs filled in for Abidal and Adriano, while Mascherano’s impressive recent displays at centre half were rewarded with another start.
The opening half hour of the match was tight, with Espanyol quick to get players behind the ball and close off space. On their rare attacks they appeared to be targeting Fontàs at left back, but a few brief forays yielded little more than a dangerous set piece.
Osvaldo, els Banquiblaus’ most impressive player this season, was cutting an increasingly forlorn figure as the home side started to find their rhythm.
Iniesta made a statement of intent as he turned and ran at the Espanyol defence before finding room to curl a shot inside the far post. Kameni, the Cameroonian ‘keeper, was equal to the attempt on that occasion, but Barça’s stylish playmaker would find the net from a similar position a few minutes later.
This time Iniesta played a fortuitous one-two with Espanyol’s Galán, before cutting inside Amat at centre half and giving Kameni no chance. Barcelona were now in full flow, crafting a handful of chances via sublime one-touch combinations; Messi found David Villa after some delightful staccato passing, but the Asturian striker was unable to produce a finish worth of the move, guiding a close-range effort past the left post.
Barcelona had been forced to work hard for their first-half opportunities, but were handed their second goal on a platter at just after the break. Piqué was able to meet a Xavi corner unopposed and nod down to double his side’s lead.
This goal effectively killed the contest, and, after an exhausting month, Barça could be excused a couple of lapses of concentration. The slippery Osvaldo twice got the better of Piqué with the score at 2-0, but Víctor Valdés showed quick reactions on both occasions to preserve his side’s clean sheet.
Éric Abidal was then given the opportunity to continue his remarkable rehabilitation, replacing Fontàs on the 70-minute mark. With Adriano still absent the French defender will offer a much-needed option at left back, as Barcelona can now turn their attention to the final of the Champions League in Wembley at the end of the month.
1-0, Iniesta (min 29)
2-0, Piqué (min 47)