Copa del Rey Match Review: FC Barcelona vs SD Huesca

Copa del Rey Match Review: FC Barcelona vs SD Huesca

Not much opposition was expected from SD Huesca for the return leg of the Copa del Rey round of 32 encounter. Indeed, with a four-goal cushion and having recently dropped points in the league to Getafe, FC Barcelona manager Luis Enrique’s thinking was obviously more about resting up for the long La Liga/CdR/Champions League marathon ahead, rather than use Lionel Messi to clobber some pretty weak opposition.

Wisely, Lucho opted to leave most of his first team to watch from the stands. Of the sixteen players called up, he asked only eleven first-team players to suit up. Even Martín Montoya got a much-deserved start. Heavens!

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Copa del Rey Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs SD Huesca

Copa del Rey Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs SD Huesca

FC Barcelona takes on SD Huesca for the second leg of the Copa del Rey round of 32 on Tuesday evening at the Camp Nou.

After a scoreless draw against Getafe at the weekend and a tactically strange experiment against PSG last week, FC Barcelona manager Luis Enrique will be looking to continue his delicate balancing act at the helm of the first team. He must somehow look to achieve a convincing result, blood his talented youngsters from the B team, and spare his first team regulars from unnecessary minutes ahead of league action against Córdoba this weekend.

In all likelihood, progression to the next round against either Real Valladolid or Elche will go Barça’s way given there’s a nearly insurmountable four-goal aggregate standing in Huesca’s path.

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Champions League Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain FC

Champions League Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain FC

Barring the discovery of some sort of corrupt, murderous plot orchestrated by FC Barcelona and/or Paris Saint-Germain against Sepp Blatter and his cohorts, both sides are guaranteed Champions League football in February after the winter break. What’s at stake however, is a potentially season-ending match up against one of the other lethal group winners: Bayern Munich, Chelsea, or to a lesser extent, Porto, Borussia Dortmund or Monaco, (and in PSG’s case, either of the Madrid clubs).

Whichever club snatches top of group today could find life in the next round much easier by drawing FC Basel, Bayer Leverkusen, CSKA Moskva, Sporting Clube de Portugal, Schalke 04, or Shakhtar Donetsk. Interestingly, some difficult opponents will be lurking in this pot as well, namely Juventus, Arsenal, Roma and Manchester City.

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Right-back where we started

Right-back where we started

Seems just like yesterday we were pleading, praying, and shouting for a serious solution – any solution – to FC Barcelona’s defensive malnourishment. With an ailing and literally stapled Carles Puyol just months from retirement, and a shunned and discarded Éric Abidal no longer at the club, sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta finally pulled himself up by the gator straps after a veritable prodding from the media, and somehow completed a set of signings that appeared to have addressed all of the questions surrounding depth and positional frailty–not just defensively, but all over the pitch. Each addition seemed quite effective and logical, except for that last odd signing of Douglas Pereira dos Santos from São Paulo FC. Continue reading »

Copa del Rey Match Preview: SD Huesca vs FC Barcelona

Copa del Rey Match Preview: SD Huesca vs FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona manager Luis Enrique Martínez García threw culés a wily screw ball at the weekend in Valencia by fielding a surprising line up consisting of midfielders Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano. Although the plan failed convincingly despite the win, the morsel that optimistic fans should take away is that the club is under the stewardship of a daring leader who is willing to tinker and shock in order to achieve results and stave off complacency.

Round 32 of the 112th edition of the Copa del Rey has begun. Enter the Primera División. Enter los canteranos. Enter another opportunity for Lucho to really dig into the depths of his squad and understand fully the arsenal at his disposal. Continue reading »

Champions League Match Preview: APOEL Nicosia vs FC Barcelona

Champions League Match Preview: APOEL Nicosia vs FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona will face APOEL Nicosia in Cyprus on matchday five of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday evening. There is still plenty to play for from both clubs’ perspectives. Barcelona is one point behind group leader Paris Saint Germain, while APOEL can still muster a Europa League drop-in should it overtake AFC Ajax.

In other news, having just become La Liga’s top scorer, Lionel Messi can break another record Tuesday by scoring one more goal, putting him one past Raúl González’s 71 Champions League goals. The record is Messi’s to lose however. Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo is hot on his heels and could potentially claim the record should Messi not score and the Portuguese net two or more against FC Basel on Wednesday.

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Champions League Match Preview: AFC Ajax vs FC Barcelona

Champions League Match Preview: AFC Ajax vs FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona is playing AFC Ajax Amsterdam in Holland, and despite last year’s loss, Barça will be coming out the gates with fire in their eyes, especially considering a loss would drastically change the face of this group. Also, a certain Uruguayan will be making his Champions League debut against his second European club with a point to prove, having missed out on the Ballon d’Or shortlist.

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Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs AFC Ajax

Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs AFC Ajax

FC Barcelona hosts the pioneers of totaalvoetbal AFC Ajax Tuesday evening for round three of the UEFA Champions League group stage. Now approaching the halfway point of group play with a mere 3 points under their belt, the Catalans have a chance to get their campaign back on track in what few expect to be an easy group. With a humbling defeat at Paris Saint Germain (PSG) and a narrow win over APOEL Nicosia, Barcelona has shown its own mortality. And with so many among the Ajax ranks familiar with the Barcelona’s mechanisms, it would be difficult to argue that this should prove a walk in the park for the hosts.

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Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs APOEL FC

Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs APOEL FC

While many in Catalunya certainly cheered or breathed a sigh of relief at the announcement of Cyprus club APOEL FC drawing FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League group stage, Barça boss Luis Enrique likely raised a concerned eyebrow. For it was but three seasons ago when APOEL, battling a group consisting of FC Porto, Zenit St. Petersburg, and Shakhtar Donetsk, finished top and advanced two more rounds before being ruthlessly dispatched by Real Madrid in the quarterfinal. Minnows of that group and the 2011/12 tournament, the Cypriots advanced at the expense of more experienced clubs through conservative tactics, a good mix of experienced and explosive players, and biding time until home advantage presented itself. Could a surprise be lurking in the grass for the blaugrana, who squeaked by Villarreal, or could this be an opportune time for Lucho to do some tinkering as more big games loom?

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Comparing Douglas, Alves and Montoya

Comparing Douglas, Alves and Montoya

São Paulo FC fans all over Brazil are lauding the efforts of club directors after off-loading right back Douglas Pereira, whom many fans considered a liability and not worthy of a starting place on their beloved team. To be fair, Dani Alves is also seen by many Brazilians in a similar light domestically, but how one performs from team to team can sometimes provide quite the study in contrast. While assurances of his defensive abilities are plentiful online, numbers from Opta Sports compiled by ESPN Brasil do a little bit more to dispel the worries of non-Portuguese-speaking culés frantically combing the internet for more on who exactly this Douglas character is and what he could possibly offer on a right flank that has been so dominantly deputized by Dani Alves and to a far lesser extent, Martín Montoya. Continue reading »

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

ANCELOTTI HAS SEEN THE LIGHT …

Ancelotti: “As I’ve said before, Madrid isn’t a football team, but a religion …”

“… with millions of referee followers since its founding.”

Cartoon by Caye

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

WHEN THEY SIGNED NEYMAR …

Ney cost the board 57 million euros.

… AND NOW.

Ney cost the board a boatload of millions of euros, their credibility and their shame.

Cartoon by Caye

Mazinho: “Celta was the ideal place for Rafinha’s evolution.”

Mazinho: “Celta was the ideal place for Rafinha’s evolution.”

Fifa World Cup 94′ winner Mazinho has an exciting summer to look forward to. His home country of Brazil will be teeming with footballing activity the likes of which it hasn’t seen since 1950, but he need not squint his eyes looking across the ocean for football to bring him joy. In Europe, his sons Thiago and Rafinha Alcântara have been plying their trade at Bayern Munich and Celta de Vigo, respectively. While the older and more talented Thiago looks set to remain in Germany, Rafinha appears to making much anticipated strides in his maturity.

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Ex-Barça: David Villa to NYCFC?

Ex-Barça: David Villa to NYCFC?

Multiple sources in the press including ESPN, Mundo Deportivo, Sport, and Gazzetta dello Sport, are reporting that Atlético Madrid striker David Villa has reached an agreement to play for new North American football club, New York City FC.

The yet-unannounced three-year deal with NYCFC would see Villa move to Manchester, England where he would train with parent-club Manchester City FC, until its Major League Soccer counterpart begins its season in February of 2015.

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Cartoon of the Day: Sport

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

VILLA ABOUT TO GO TO NEW YORK AND BARÇA WOULD LOSE 3MILLION

VILLA: “In the end, Barça won’t even get enough to buy sunflower seeds.”

“Ni para pipas/Nipapipas” = Not even (enough) for seeds

Cartoon by Caye

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

BARTOMEU: “Alexis is not for sale!”

“… but if someone wants to buy him, please call my office immediately.”

Cartoon by Caye

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

THE DECIMA COST FLORENTINO MORE THAN A BILLION

Florentino: “More than a billion in players…”

“…in other aspects, much more.”

Cartoon by Caye

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

SELF-CRAP BY  SELF-CRAP 1 – 1 GAME BY GAME

CONGRATULATIONS

Simeone: “Luckily, preventing the Merengues from winning La Decima doesn’t depend on Barça…”

“…it depends on ‘Team Cholo.’ “

Cartoon by Caye

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

THE GREATEST TROPHY LIFTER IN CULÉ HISTORY IS LEAVING

THANK YOU, CAPI!!!!!

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

WHAT WE NEEDED A FEW DAYS AGO

“ANTI-DEPRESSANTS: For a league that is an actual piece of sh…”

WHAT WE NEED NOW

“VIAGRA: We have to lift it up anyway possible”

Cartoon by Caye

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

ELCHE 0 – 0 THOSE NEEDING ATLETI TO LOSE LA LIGA TO WIN

Simeone: “I don’t know if Tata’s men will be able to “scratch up” 3 points at the Camp Nou, but this Barça has more lives than a cat.”

Cartoon by Caye

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

WILL THE POWER OF THE PISTACHIO RETURN?

Martino: “I believe the time has come for the pistachio polo…”

“…even though there’s been so much barbecuing, I don’t know if it’ll fit me.”

Cartoon by Caye

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

BARÇA CAN STILL WIN “THE LOST LIGA”

I NEVER THOUGHT I’D SAY THIS BUT…

THANKS, MERENGUES!!!

Martino: “Have you pinched me already?”

Pautasso: “784 times”

Martino: “Thanks, Jorge.”

Cartoon by Caye

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

CLOSED FOR ANTICIPATED VACATION

Martino: “I already had my bags packed and the gate closed…”

“…but before Luis Enrique shows up, I’ll try to win the league.”

Cartoon by Caye

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

THE NEWS READS THIS:

“LUIS ENRIQUE IN NEGOTIATIONS WITH ZUBI”

BUT THE REAL INFORMATION IS THIS:

“LUIS ENRIQUE SUCCEEDS IN GETTING ZUBI TO DO SOMETHING”

Cartoon by Caye

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

IF NECESSARY, SHOULD BARÇA LET ITS LAST GAME GO?

Martino: “I could live with no pity nor glory as coach…”

“…what would be tragic would be to go down in history as the coach that gifted a league to Madrid.”

Cartoon by Caye

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

20140504-1399148721775

MATHEMATICALLY SUNK 2 – 2 GETAFE CF

The team needs reinforcements and the culés need medication

ANTIDEPRESSANTS

¨For seasons that are a real piece of s…”

Cartoon by Caye

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

THE BEST-SELLING BOOKS AT THE CAMP NOU THIS PAST SAINT GEORGE’S DAY*

HOW TO NOT FALL ASLEEP ON YOUR LAURELS DURING THE TRANSFER WINDOW

THE ART OF NOT GIFTING PLAYERS TO YOUR RIVALS DURING THE SUMMER WINDOW

HOW TO SIGN A CENTERBACK FOR BLOODY ONCE — IN THREE VOLUMES!

*The Feast of Saint George (Sant Jordi) falls on the deaths of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare, hence the Catalan, Balearic, and Valencian traditions of gifting books.

Cartoon by Caye

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

WHO ARE WE CULÉS GOING WITH IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE?

Semis: Atlético – Chelsea: Mou vs Simeone, the choice is simple: ATLÉTICO

Semis: Madrid – Bayern:  No comment: BAYERN

Final: Atlético – Bayern: Most would go with Pep, but some still haven’t forgiven him for his departure and the Thiago incident: BAYERN…or Atlético

Final: Chelsea – Bayern: Mou lifting the trophy in front of Guardiola … HAHAHA: BAYERN

Final: Madrid – Atlético: Against Madrid we would side with the devil himself: ATLÉTICO

Final: Madrid – Chelsea: As I said, we’d side with the devil (as if we were Karanka): FORÇA MOU!!!!!

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

THE MATHEMATICIANS 2 – 1 THE LIONS

Martino: “Mathematically it’s possible. But if you know how to pray, do it.”