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Barça beats Rayo 5-0

October 29th, 2012

FC Barcelona’s 5-0 win against Rayo Vallecano means Tito Vilanova has equalled the club’s record for the start of a season of 8 wins and a draw set by Louis van Gaal in the 1997/98 season. In the same match Lionel Messi became equal tenth highest scoring player in la liga.

The hosts started out with Rayo looking like they were going all out and came close to scoring in the first 15 minutes. However, in the 20th minute Cesc found David Villa who scored the opener and after that Barcelona settled into the match, dominating possession.

However, it wasn’t until the start of the second half that things really started to go Barça’s way, with Messi scoring the second goal just two minutes in. Rayo did continue trying but with Barça continuing to dominate possession their efforts just ran out of steam and the match ended with goals from Xavi, Cesc and Messi to end 5-0.

0-1 Villa (min 20)
0-2 Messi (min 47)
0-3 Xavi (min 78)
0-4 Fábregas (min 79)
0-5 Messi (min 88)

Barcelona claws back victory against Sevilla

October 1st, 2012

Barcelona clawed back a 2-0 deficit on Saturday night against Sevilla to win the match in injury time and hold on to their unbeaten run in the league this season. Although the Catalans appeared to be in control of the match early on and a couple of good chances for Pedro and Messi, it was Sevilla who opened the scoring in the 25th minute. The first half ended 1-0 to the home team, but soon Sevilla were 2-0 up thanks to Negredo.

However, the Barcelona squad kept their heads and Cesc Fabregas soon scored the first for Barcelona, and several chances being created but the goals just didn’t come. Finally with a couple of minutes remaining on the clock, Cesc scored his second to level the score. The icing on the cake though was David Villa’s goal in the 92nd minute to give Barcelona the lead and an unbroken run of six matches won.

Next Sunday sees Real Madrid visit the Nou Camp in what is likely to be another highly charged match.

1-0 Trochowski (min 25)
2-0 Negredo (min 47)
2-1 Fabregas (min 52)
2-2 Fabregas (min 88)
2-3 Villa (min 92)

Dominant Barcelona Take the Points at Getafe

September 17th, 2012

FC Barcelona were in fine form on Saturday evening as they beat Getafe 4-1 in Madrid. It was a complete performance by Barça – lively in attack and defensively very sound. The goals came from Messi, who got two, Adriano and David Villa. Pablo Sarabia got a consolation for the home side, who barely had a sniff of the Barcelona goal all match.

Assistant coach Jordi Roura took Tito Vilanova’s place on the touchline, as the main man served out the second game of his suspension.

High in the stand at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez, Vilanova will have been pleased with the first half display, in a fixture that saw Pep Guardiola’s side slip to defeat last season. Barcelona found their touch quickly and started combining to great effect, even without mainstays like the injured Dani Alves and Messi, who was on the bench.

Tello had a chance four minutes in, when he used his lightning pace to rush past the Getafe backline, but saw his shot saved low by Moya. A little later Thiago controlled the ball deep in the Getafe half, strode forward and produced a rasping shot that crashed off the crossbar. Xavi then went close with an effort of his own

The pressure was building now, and it culminated with a goal – Cesc did well to get past two Getafe defenders before laying it off for Adriano, who tucked it home. Thiago might have made it two when he chested down a pinpoint pass by Tello, but Moya was alert and made a nearpost save.

Getafe hadn’t posed much of a threat, but forced Valdés into action just before half-time, when the Barça ‘keeper scrambled away a Pedro León free-kick.

The second half was much of the same from the visitors. Barcelona controlled possession and hardly looked troubled at the back. Tello had a couple of chances, the first of which was curled wide and the second well saved by Moya. Messi, on for Thiago, was denied what looked like a penalty when Miguel Torres brought him down but appeared to make no contact with the ball.

The referee had no choice but to point to the spot later when Pedro cut inside Valera and was caught by the defender. Messi scored, via Moya’s palm.

The onslaught continued into the final stages of the match – Montoya broke down the right, and his low cross was deflected into Messi’s path, who made no mistake from six yards out.

With just over 10 minutes to go, Getafe pulled a goal back to make it 3-1, when a shot by Sarabia took a wild deflection off Mascherano and left Valdés with no chance. But it had been a thoroughly professional performance by Barcelona, and this was underlined in injury time, when David Villa scored from a delightful Xavi pass. The Asturian forward strode into the area and placed his shot in between Moya’s legs to end the match at 4-1 to Barcelona.

1-0 Adriano (min 32)
2-0 Messi (min 72)
3-0 Messi (min 76)
3-1 Mascherano (min 77)
4-1 Villa (min 89)

Preparations continue [FC Barcelona]

July 19th, 2012

Following a session in the heat of Barcelona on Wednesday, Tito Vilanova had 12 senior squad players and eight B-team players back on Thursday morning. Joining the main group were David Villa, Dani Alves and Andreu Fontas under medical supervision, while Thiago and Cuenca are reported to be continuining with their recuperation programmes in order to get fit for the start of the season. Following today’s morning session, tomorrow the players have two sessions scheduled at 09:00 and 19:00.

Read “Preparations continue” at FC Barcelona

Alexis Steps Up For Barcelona

November 30th, 2011

FC Barcelona strolled past Rayo Vallecano on Tuesday night, beating the team from Madrid 4-0. Alexis Sánchez was one form, scoring two well-taken goals, the first of which was an impressive curled effort. Villa added the third after a slick passing move, and Messi made it four with a trademark solo effort.

Barça fans were handed some welcome good news in the build up to the match, learning that the ever-influential Andrés Iniesta would make his comeback. He joined Keita and Xavi in the midfield, sitting behind a potent attack of Villa, Messi and Alexis. Iniesta nearly marked the occasion early on with a spectacular goal from the halfway line, but his effort was just kept out by Cobeño.

Perhaps heartened by fellow Madrid club Getafe’s achievements on the weekend, Rayo began the match at full throttle, pressing and presumably hoping to take advantage of any hangover for Barcelona. A deep, floated cross found Guinean striker Lass free at the back-post, but his volley hit the side-netting. The 19 year-old was a real nuisance in the opening exchanges, showing pace and willingness to chase lost causes.

Cobeño was then forced back into action by Barcelona, the improving Alexis slipped Alves through, and his cross was deflected goalwards and only kept out on the stretch by Rayo’s ‘keeper. A swirling free-kick nearly caught Valdés out at the back-post.

Then, after a prolonged spell of possession, Barcelona took the lead; Xavi angled a pass to Alexis on the left angle of the area, and the Chilean forward curled a delightful shot in off the far post.

Rayo almost responded in kind. Michel brought the ball down in the area, but pressure from Abidal saw him shoot over.

From then it was all Barcelona, and the home team enjoyed what was perhaps a long overdue slice of luck; Messi fired a pass into Xavi’s feet on the edge of the area. The midfielder miscontrolled, but the ball landed at the feet of Alexis who produced a composed finish with the outside of his boot.

Then Villa capped the satisfying half Guardiola’s men, when he tapped home to make it 3-0 after a Piqué drove forward and released Dani Alves, who squared for the Asturian striker.

The second half was barely underway when Lionel Messi took centre stage. As he so often does, the diminutive Argentine picked the ball up by the right touchline and powered forward; he beat a defender to go one-on-one, and slotted past Cobeño to take the score to 4-0 and end the match as any kind of contest.

With the match in the bag, Guardiola could afford to withdraw Xavi, Inesta and Alexis, and the series of substitutions took the momentum out of the game.

Rayo were effectively spent, and Barcelona maintained possession, while occasionally fashioning chances. Villa’s effort in the 69th minute was spectacular, as he elegantly controlled a long pass and then tried a lob that went just over.

1-0 Alexis Sánchez (min 28)
2-0 Alexis Sánchez (min 40)
3-0 Villa (min 42)
4-0 Messi (min 49)

Real Zaragoza Offer Little Resistance to Rampant Barcelona

November 21st, 2011

FC Barcelona romped to a 4-0 win at home to Real Zaragoza on Saturday night, with Piqué, Messi, Puyol and David Villa grabbing the goals. The home side was in sparkling form and had complete control of the game – only a fine performance by Los Blanquillos’ ‘keeper Roberto kept the score-line down.

Barcelona lined up for this game with an exciting attacking side; Alexis Sánchez started on the left flank, presented with an opportunity to put his stuttering early career with the club behind him. Young winger Isaac Cuenca took his place on the right, and Messi, Cesc and Xavi took up the central creative roles, switching positions throughout the evening.

As is so often the case, Barça took a little while to get going, but completely dominated possession and territory, with the majority of the football played on the edge of Zaragoza’s area. In fact it took a goal from Barcelona for them to find their attacking rhythm.

Cesc won a free-kick on left angle of the area after 20 minutes – Xavi stepped up and curled a teasing cross, which Piqué headed home unmarked from the six-yard line.

The remainder of the first half was a barrage from Barça, and saw Zaragoza ‘keeper in stunning form. Messi alone had four close-range chances stopped, with Alexis and Cesc providing the ammunition. One of the best opportunities fell to Barça’s Chilean winger – Messi hustled forward, laid the ball to Cesc, whose back-heel was perfectly timed to meet, Alexis’ run, but Roberto was once again equal to the shot.

Then, just as the first half was coming to a close, Cesc found Messi in space in the area with a perceptive pass. The Argentine forward ducked past centre-half Lanzaro and finished right-footed to double Barcelona’s lead.

Barcelona continued to carve Zaragoza open after the break, with Lionel Messi at the heart of the best moves. He released Cesc, who saw his left-footed effort tipped past the post by Roberto. This effort was followed by the away side’s only real attacking spell in the match – the most notable attempt was by Laifto, who ran at Barça’s backline, but smashed a right-footed shot wide of the near post.

Barcelona responded by scoring their third of the night. Puyol took up an advanced position for a free-kick and showed real grit to score at the second attempt after Keita headed Xavi’s back across goal. Sensing that the game was now safe, Guardiola withdrew Cesc, Xavi and Alexis, bring on Thiago, Iniesta and David Villa.

After a sublime run, Messi fed Iniesta, but his clever toe-poke was clawed away by the fingertips of Roberto, who was the man responsible for keeping an air of respectability to the score-line.

In the end it was El Guaje who notched Barcelona’s fourth – Cuenca worked his way to the byline, and, when the youngster’s cross was deflected by Minero, Villa was on hand to complete the rout with a diving header.

1-0 Gerard Pique (min 17)
2-0 Lionel Messi (min 42)
3-0 Carles Puyol (min 53)
4-0 David Villa (min 74)

Villa and Iniesta Dispatch Awkward Czechs

October 20th, 2011

FC Barcelona triumphed 2-0 at home to Viktoria Plzen on Wednesday, having created a plethora of chances. Iniesta grabbed a sublime first goal after just ten minutes, but despite overrunning their opponents Barça had to wait for 70 more minutes before they could rest easy.

Guardiola selected what was last season’s first choice front six, with Iniesta and Xavi anchored by Busquets, and Messi offered the freedom of a withdrawn forward role flanked by Villa and Pedro. Plzen lined up with a 4-4-2 and a team composed entirely of Czech and Slovak players boasting few names that Barcelona fans would recognise.

After drawing against AC Milan Barcelona were in search of a first home win in Europe this season and started the match aggressively; Pedro and Alves both had fine chances after lightning quick one-touch passing moves from the left and then right. Then after ten minutes an almost identical attack involving Messi and Iniesta found the Spanish midfielder in an inside-right position in the area – he flicked the bouncing ball from his right foot to left, confounding his marker, before driving a shot into the bottom right corner to cap a magnificent piece of skill.

Plzen were in real trouble, and Barcelona’s high pressing ensured that they were unable to build attacks, with much of the first 30 minutes played exclusively in the away team’s half. And the chances came thick and fast for Barça; Pedro found room in the area on three occasions but was let down by a lack of composure and some desperate last-ditch Plzen defending. David Villa curled a shot wide and Messi hit the side-netting after he brought down a delicate looped pass by Busquets.

After half an hour the Czechs enjoyed their first spell of possession, but despite pushing Barcelona back were unable to muster a chance of note. And at the final whistle Messi offered a reminder of his threat when he curled a 25-yard free-kick onto the crossbar.

The chances continued to flow for Barcelona after the break, and it was Lionel Messi who took the spotlight. The Argentine forward embarked on two slaloming runs that would have resulted in goal of the season contenders had he managed to finish them off. For the first he worked his way past three defenders before being denied at the near post by Marek Cech in the Plzen goal.

Just minutes later he was at it again, leaving more defenders on their backsides only to see his effort bounce out off the near post and out for a goal kick. Messi’s next attempt had a hint of over-elaboration about it, as he controlled an incisive Villa pass and clipped the ball over Cech with supreme nonchalance, only to be tackled on the line.

The second goal finally arrived in the 81st minute when Messi was tackled in the area, only for the ball to drop at the feet of David Villa who made no mistake from 15 yards.

1-0 Iniesta (min 10)
2-0 Villa (min 81)

BATE battered in Minsk

September 29th, 2011

FC Barcelona cruised to a 5–0 victory against Belarusian side BATE Borisov in Minsk on Wednesday night. Guardiola’s men were never less than comfortable throughout, creating numerous chances on the way to a relatively rare away victory in Europe.

Sporting their black away colours, Barça took the lead through an own goal, before Pedro scored a header and Messi added two more goals to his already impressive tally this season.

As soon as the match settled, Barcelona were confronted by a wall of yellow shirts, with BATE setting up very deep in the hope of stifling Pep Guardiola’s side. Sole striker Mateja Kezman cut a very isolated figure on the halfway line, with his teammates withdrawing to the edge of the area in two tight banks. The first opportunity fell to BATE, as defender Marko Simic headed a corner over.

Barça stuck to their task and slowly the chances began to flow. Thiago’s shot was saved, and a Messi free-kick flashed past the left corner. With BATE unable to build anything resembling an attack, the strain was beginning to tell. And when Alves delivered a teasing cross from the right flank, midfielder Volodko turned the ball into his own goal under pressure from Messi at the back post.

Just three minutes later Barcelona were two goals ahead, when David Villa swung a pinpoint cross for Pedro to rise and nod home from the penalty spot. After this fine effort the home defence was in disarray, and a host of chances followed for the away side.

Still, the home team did muster one chance – Volodko nearly made up for his earlier error when he found some space in the Barça area, but the Belarusian poked the ball wide under pressure from Valdés.

David Villa was looking particularly lively and had two shots well saved after working some space on the left side of the area. The third goal for Barcelona was an absolute gift. This time Pedro broke free down the right, and when his rather tame cross was inexplicably fumbled by Gutor in the BATE goal, Messi was on hand to stab the ball home from five yards.

Early in the second half Lionel Messi looked hungry for more goals; just after the break he set off on a bustling run from the right flank, but skewed the ball wide at the near post with the outside of his left boot. The Argentine forward was not to be denied though; soon after, he set Alves galloping down the right flank and the Brazilian aimed a forensic square pass through the BATE ranks, which Messi controlled and fired into the top right corner to complete a fantastic move.

Messi nearly turned provider moments later when he found Abidal clear in the area with a breathtaking angled pass, but the French defender’s effort was saved. The night was topped off at the death by David Villa, who tucked a Thiago through pass into the bottom right corner.

0-1 Volodko (own goal) (min 18)
0-2 Pedro (min 22)
0-3 Messi (min 38)
0-4 Messi (min 56)
0-5 Villa (min 89)

Messi Shines as Barcelona Thrash Atlético

September 26th, 2011

Lionel Messi scored a spectacular hat-trick as FC Barcelona destroyed Atlético Madrid 5-0 at the Camp Nou on Saturday night. The Argentine forward was a menace throughout, bouncing back to form after a relatively subdued midweek performance against Valencia.

Víctor Valdés’ goal was rarely under threat from Los Colchoneros’ potent frontline, which was starved of space and possession in the face of a magnificent team display by the home side. David Villa opened the scoring, followed by a João Miranda own goal and Messi’s dazzling three-goal haul.

Even after an opening to the season that has seen a great deal of tactical experimentation by Pep Guardiola, Saturday’s formation was very unorthodox. The coach persisted with 3-4-3, but this time Dani Alves was playing as the right-sided defender. Meanwhile Sergio Busquets operated as a kind of attacking sweeper, dropping into defence when needed, but generally patrolling the area in front.

Barça were ahead within 10 minutes – David Villa chested down a 30-yard diagonal pass by Xavi, danced inside João Miranda and tucked the ball past Courtois to cap a fantastic goal. Tiago Mendes had earlier clipped the top of the bar, but Atlético Madrid were yet to settle, and fell further behind through an unfortunate own goal. This time Pedro broke forward, before the ball fell at the feet of Messi, whose shot ricocheted off ‘keeper Courtois and João Miranda, and into the net.

After the second goal it was Lionel Messi who took the limelight. On 25 minutes he took a short throw on the right touchline. Getting the ball back from Pedro, he squirmed past two Atlético players before accelerating past the remainder of the defence with one touch, and smashing home at the near post while feigning for the far corner. It was one of the best of many fantastic individual goals in the course of his short career.

As majestic as this effort was, Messi nearly topped it in the second half when he ran the length of the pitch before being fouled by Perea on the edge of the area. In between, Cesc Fàbregas almost scored with a fabulous 35-yard chip that Courtois could only watch bounce off the top of the cross-bar. Meanwhile there was more good news for Barcelona when Gerard Piqué made his return from injury, replacing Busquets a few minutes after half time.

With 15 minutes to go Lionel Messi once again went about terrorising the Atlético backline. This time he made a diagonal run from about 40 yards out, bypassing central defence before dummying his way round João Miranda and sidefooting past the static Courtois, into the bottom right corner.

He capped an unforgettable performance just before full time when he played a one-two with David Villa, strode forward and guided a finish between Courtois’ legs. It was a fitting end to the night for Barcelona’s number 10, who must already be counted among the greatest ever to play the game.

1-0 Villa (min 9)
2-0 Miranda (own goal) (min 15)
3-0 Messi (min 26)
4-0 Messi (min 77)
5-0 Messi (min 91)

Barcelona Bag Eight on Memorable Night at Camp Nou

September 18th, 2011

FC Barcelona answered their critics in emphatic style at home to CA Osasuna on Saturday night, thrashing Los Rojillos 8-0. Messi chalked a hat-trick, with David Villa netting two, accompanied by Cesc and Xavi, who scored one goal each. It was a night of spectacular attacking football, and Guardiola’s men were back to their devastating best, enjoying more than 80% possession in the process.

In this fixture Guardiola opted for the 3-4-3 formation that dispatched Villareal so clinically in the first match of the season. A major pre-game positive was the return of Carles Puyol after almost nine months of injury problems. He took his place at the centre of the back three, flanked by Mascherano and Abidal, and looked in good form until coming off early in the second half.

In truth the Barcelona defence was pretty much untested for the whole evening. There was a clear determination to disprove any accusations of complacency after letting two leads slip, against Sociedad and Milan. Indeed Barcelona were in front by the fifth minute; Busquets floated a delightful pass out to Dani Álves, who headed square for Messi to sweep the ball home.

Fàbregas then continued his fine scoring form for his new club; chesting the ball down for Messi, who flicked it over the Osasuna backline for the recent signing to time a perfect left-footed volley past the hapless Fernández.

Barça were now 2-0 up and showed no sign of loosening their grip – Alves skipped down the right flank and curled a sublime cross for Messi, who nodded the ball down but onto the post. Still, the home side would not be denied; after a period of sustained possession Abidal slipped a pass through for David Villa, and the striker rounded Fernández, finishing with his left foot to make it three.

Five minutes later the Asturian was set free down the left once again. This time his attempt was saved, but ricocheted off the unfortunate Roversio and into the empty net. Then, on the 40th minute, Cesc was found in the box by Xavi before pirouetting and squaring for Messi who notched his second and Barcelona’s fifth of the night.

If Osasuna were hoping for a reprieve after half time, their opponents were unwilling to oblige, as within ten minutes Barcelona had scored six. This was perhaps the pick of the bunch; Xavi was put through by another perfectly weighted Messi chip. The midfielder let the ball bounce before lobbing Fernández from the edge of the area.

But Barça still weren’t done – Fàbregas bustled through the beleaguered Osasuna defence to find Villa, who turned the ball home from seven yards. Once again, it was Messi who stole the show, and the Argentine dynamo capped a landmark night for his team when he swapped passes with Cesc and strode clear to find the bottom right corner past Fernández.

1-0 Messi (min 4)
2-0 Cesc (min 13)
3-0 Villa (min 33)
4-0 Roversio own goal (min 39)
5-0 Messi (min 41)
6-0 Xavi (min 56)
7-0 Villa (min 75)
8-0 Messi (min 79)

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