One competition that flies completely under the radar is the Copa de Catalunya, which on Wednesday was won by FC barcelona against Espanyol.
The cup has none of the prestige of other competitions with Barça fielding a squad mainly comprised of B-team players and a few years ago the final was cancelled when it became apparent that Barcelona did not intend to send the main squad to play.
The main question is why the competition continues to exist. While it might be prestigious enough for a second division team to win the title, FC Barcelona just can’t be bothered. It must be more to do with being overcommitted, with the league, Champions League and Copa del Rey. Many players also have commitments to national squads.
While the match ended goalless after full time, the match went to penalties. Barcelona walked away the winner after beating Espanyol 3-2 from the penalty spot.
Saturday afternoon saw Futbol Club Barcelona travel the short distance to Cornella-El Prat to face Espanyol in the Barcelona derby. With an early kick off the match was a tough one for Barça, who scraped to a win thanks to a second half penalty kicked by Leo Messi. Both teams put on a good performance, with Barcelona missing a couple of early opportunities to go ahead, but despite playing well, the hosts were quick to take any opportunity whenever it arose. Despite this the first half ended with neither team scoring.
After the break saw more of the same but as Espanyol’s players began to tire the number of fouls committed against Barça rapidly rose, but it took a handball inside the Espanyol area to provide the opportunity that provided the only goal of the match, Messi calmly putting the ball into the back of the net to put Barcelona into the lead.
Espanyol’s fate was really sealed though when their keeper came forward out of the area and saved the ball, earning a red card. With Espanyol’s substitutions already made it took a while to decide who was to wear his number 13 shirt, with defender Javi López eventually pulling it on over his own shirt and donning the gloves. While they were perhaps the most terrifying minutes of his life, the countdown to the final whistle saw him acquit himself well, stopping the ball twice.
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)