With just 10 days before the start of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the seven players from FC Barcelona selected for the national squad headed for the USA on Monday to participate in their final training camp before the big event and play a friendly against El Salvador.
The seven Barça players picked to play for Spain are Piqué, Jordi Alba, Sergio, Iniesta, Xavi, Cesc and Pedro and hopes will be high that Spain can again take the title as they did so memorably in 2010 with a squad dominated by Barcelona players.
Following the US tour the squad will fly to Curitiba during the group stage of the competition.
Gerard Pique yesterday extended his contract with FC Barcelona by four years to 2019. Pique’s contract was due to run our at the end of next season but has come to an agreement with the club and will sign the new contract shortly.
At the same time Cesc Fabregas is reportedly being made available, with the club looking to see how how much they might be offered. His current valuation is around €40 million. Other players the club is open to offers for include Mascherano, Alex Song, Pedro, Alexis, Tello and Dani Alves.
Nothing much has seemed to go right for Barça of late, with FIFA’s transfer ban shortly preceding the club’s ejection from Champions League by Atletico Madrid and then the loss against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final last week. And then there are the league woes.
Athletic Bilbao are always a tough opponent and, standing fourth in the table, well up to strength this season. With Barça suffering three straight losses, Messi not performing lately and a number of players unavailable through injury last night’s match was always going to be tough. Messi did appear to have overcome at least some of his woes and appeared to have scored 18 minutes in. However, the ref ruled the goal offside and despite some chances the first half ended goalless.
It didn’t take long after the players came back on for the first goal of the match, when Aduriz scored for the Basque team four minutes in. The visitors looked to have scored a second soon after but, like Messi’s goal, it was ruled offside.
However, as Barcelona started to pile on the pressure things started to look better and finally, 25 minutes into the second half, Pedro scored the equaliser. Just two minutes later Messi blasted a free kick through the wall to put the Catalans ahead and seal three points.
0-1 Aduriz (min 49)
1-1 Pedro (min 71)
2-1 Messi (min 73)
What a difference a week can make. Last weekend Barcelona seemed to be in crisis after losing against Valladolid, but Sunday afternoon saw the club pull Osasuna apart in a 7-0 win just days after seeing Man City off in Champions League.
Leo Messi opened the scoring after the quarter hour mark, thereby equalling the club record for goals scored by a player, with Alexis making it two just minutes later. And when Iniesta scored goal number three for Barça it was clear that the team wanted to make it clear that they have not given up hope in La Liga and pretty much tying up the result.
Back on after the break Messi became the number one goal scorer in Barça’s history, as the crowd roared their appreciation; fifteen minutes later Tello scored goal number five; and then just minutes before the end Messi made it a hat trick. Even then Barcelona had not finished as Pedro scored goal number seven just before the final whistle went.
1-0 Messi (min 17)
2-0 Alexis (min 21)
3-0 Iniesta (min 33)
4-0 Messi (min 61)
5-0 Tello (min 76)
6-0 Messi (min 86)
7-0 Pedro (min 89)
Saturday night was the turn of Rayo Vallecano, second bottom of the league, to play the mighty Barça at the Nou Camp. The first goal came inside two minutes with Adriando showing how Barcelona continued to go on, and although they dominated possession Rayo also had a couple of opportunities that looked dangerous.
The Barcelona attack was relentless though and with the ball hitting the posts time and time again it only looked a matter of time for the second goal from the hosts. Eventually it came when Messi chipped the ball over the head of the Rayo keeper and into the net and the first half ended 2-0.
Back on after the break Barça continued the attack and just a few minutes in Alexis scored their third of the night. Minutes later they made it 4-0 when Pedro scored after a fantastic move from Iniesta and Cesc. Despite the match being well under control, Barcelona maintained the pressure and Messi scored his second of the night.
Finally, just a couple of minutes before the full time whistle, Neymar, playing for last 20 minutes after a six week injury layoff, made it six for Barça. All in all a great confidence booster ahead of their Champions League clash against Manchester City on Tuesday.
1-0 Adriano (min 1)
2-0 Messi (min 35)
3-0 Alexis (min 52)
4-0 Pedro (min 55)
5-0 Messi (min 67)
6-0 Neymar (min 88)
After last week’s media circus centred on Neymar’s transfer figures and the shock resignation of FC Barcelona president Sandro Rosell as a result, the focus was back on football this weekend when Malaga travelled to the Nou Camp for round 21 of the Spanish League.
Barcelona narrowly beat Malaga 1-0 in the second round of the 2013-2014 season and with both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid comfortably winning their own matches prior to Barça’s kick off the players went on the pitch knowing that they would need to perform well.
The Catalans piled on the pressure from the outset and came close to scoring early on, but then so were Malaga, who made a few good attempts on the Barça goal. But finally it was Pique who broke the deadlock from a corner, just a few minutes before the halftime whistle to end the first half 1-0.
Back on after the break the visitors came close to equalising, but with the game back under control Barcelona starting working away at the Malaga goal. Time and time again the ball was stopped but it just looked like a matter of time and finally in the 54th minute Pedro scored Barça’s second off a Messi assist.
Six minutes later and Barcelona scored again, effectively shutting off any hope for Malaga. With the result in the bag the pace slowed down and off came Xavi, Pedro and Alexis and in their place came Tello, Sergi Roberto and Afellay. The latter has just recovered from knee and thigh injuries and back playing for Barça for the first time since 2012 after being loaned to Schalke.
This week sees Barça take on Levante again in the Copa del Rey, followed by Valencia next Saturday.
1-0 Piqué (min 39)
2-0 Pedro (min 54)
3-0 Alexis (min 60)
Barcelona celebrated the eve of Three King’s with a 4-0 win against Elche in their first match of the New Year. The evening is marked across Spain with processions with children showered in sweets before going home to receive toys and other presents brought by the kings and as a special treat many youngsters were taken by parents and grandparents to watch the match.
The match saw the return of Victor Valdes in goal after several weeks being laid low by an injury sustained in the national squad and saw Barça quickly show the visitors that they meant business as usual after the Christmas break. Goals from Alexis and Pedro saw the Catalans two goals ahead at the quarter hour mark, which remained until the break.
Back on in the second half Barça failed to extend their advantage when Xavi missed a penalty, but Alexis soon made up for that with his second of the night, set up by Iniesta and Pedro. Minutes later Alexis scored his first hat trick for FC Barcelona when he scored from a free kick just outside the area.
1-0 Alexis (min 6)
2-0 Pedro (min 15)
3-0 Alexis (min 61)
4-0 Alexis (min 67)
Barcelona’s last match of 2013 took place yesterday afternoon in Madrid, where they had travelled to play Getafe. However, with the home team scoring twice within the first quarter hour it looked for a while as if they might drop points ahead of Atletico Madrid’s evening match against Levante.
However, as the Catalans carried on working away Pedro scored one for Barcelona, then equalised and finally put Barça a goal ahead in time for the break; that was all in nine minutes. Barcelona were still playing without Messi and Valdes through injury, and Neymar was absent through suspension, but with these key players missing the remaining squad were determined to go into the holiday break heading the table still.
After the break Barcelona were clearly in control and although Getafe had a good chance at equalising 15 minutes in, Cesc effectively sealed the result when he scored from a Pedro cross. And when Pedro was brought down inside the area Cesc scored his second of the night to end the match 5-2 and with the almost certain knowledge that they would remain at the top of the table over Christmas.
1-0 Sergio Escudero (min 9)
2-0 Lisandro López (min 14)
2-1 Pedro (min 33)
2-2 Pedro (min 40)
2-3 Pedro (min 42)
2-4 Fábregas (min 67)
2-5 Fábregas (min 71)
Barcelona are through to the next round of the Copa del Rey after beating Cartagena 7-1 on aggregate. Last night’s goals came from Pedro, an own goal from Mariano and from Neymar to end the match on 3-0.
Cartagena played to defend, and with their full squad aiming to stop the Catalans from scoring it proved difficult to find space. However, Pedro finally got the ball home after 30 minutes to put Barcelona into the lead, a result that stood until the break.
The second half also started slowly, but 20 minutes the ball was deflected into the visitors’ goal from a Tello cross. With the result now pretty much settled Martino made a number of changes and in the final minutes a Jordi Alba assist helped Neymar score the third for the night.
Barça will play Getafe in the next round, the first lleg of which takes place on 8th January and the return leg the following week.
1-0 Pedro (min 30)
2-0 Mariano (min 67)
3-0 Neymar (min 87)
If anyone really believed that Barcelona had lost their mojo after the couple of recent defeats, they must have changed their mind after last night’s display against Celtic. The Catalans came on looking like they meant business and within the first few minutes, while the visitors barely touched the ball, Barcelona were clearly on the attack and it took just six minutes before Pique put Barça ahead.
Barcelona continued to dominate possession, clearly in control of the match, and it looked as if the second was only a matter of waiting. Although it is perhaps surprising that the second goal, by Pedro, came nearly half an hour later Neymar’s first of the evening a couple of minutes before the break meant Barcelona had all but sealed the result.
In the second half Barcelona continued their onslaught when Neymar scored his second of the night. And ten minutes later he made it a hat trick to put Barça 5 goals ahead, his first Champions League goals and first hat trick for Barcelona.
With Tello brought on in place of Alexis it took just a few minutes before he too scored, when his shot rebounded off the heel of a Celtic defender and into the goal. And then, in the closing minutes of the match Celtic finally came to life. Samaras has a couple of good attempts on the Barça goal and scored to leave the final score at 6-1.
1-0 Piqué (min 6)
2-0 Pedro (min 39)
3-0 Neymar (min 43)
4-0 Neymar (min 46)
5-0 Neymar (min 56)
6-0 Tello (min 70)
6-1 Samaras (min 86)
While Barcelona had already earned their place in the next round, AC Milan’s goalless draw with Ajax meant that they would have ended at the top of the table anyway. However, after the recent criticism levelled at the team this result showed firmly that they mean business. We’ll learn who Barcelona faces next on Monday, with the next round taking place in Februay.