Six blaugrana in Spanish U-16 side

Six blaugrana in Spanish U-16 side

Albert Celades was once a highly promising made in FC Barcelona midfielder (1995-1999). But through a combination of club politics, management mishandling, horrific signings from abroad but also inconsistent form, Celades left the club and actually also spent five seasons with Real Madrid. The now retired 38-year-old is manager of the Spanish under-16 side and has called six players from Barça’s Cadete A. These six have passed through the grueling selection of youngsters in Spain that began last August, winding down 55 hopefuls to the final 23 to 25. The six are: Defender Marc Cucurella, midfielders Carles Aleñá, Dani Morer and Oriol Busquets and forwards Carles Pérez and Dani Olmo.

With six representatives in the 24 man squad, FC Barcelona can boast the largest contingent. Sporting Gijon, Valencia and Villarreal have each sent four while other clubs have sent usually only one. Real Madrid account for two of the 24.

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Quote of the Day: Never before, never again

Quote of the Day: Never before, never again

My opinion on Messi will never change. I have never seen a player like him, nor will I ever again.

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Sant Jordi

Sant Jordi

Sant Jordi, or Saint George, is the patron saint of Barcelona, and has been so since the 15th century. The Cross of St. George stands proudly on the FC Barcelona crest and is a day intrinsically woven into the makeup of Catalonian culture. Today to celebrate Sant Jordi Day, the club will distribute 2,500 roses to members and fans that pass by Camp Nou.

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Quote(s) of the Day: Nicht & Não

Quote(s) of the Day: Nicht & Não

No one needs to worry. We are all still a bit in love with this club and with the way things are handled here.

All the rumours about my negotiations with Barcelona are completely groundless.

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Video of the Day: Messi on “Follow Your Dreams”

Lionel Messi was the latest to join José Manuel Pinto for a “Follow Your Dreams” episode, the project Pinto heads with the objective of helping young and talented musicians by linking them with NGOs and other foundations. Messi reveals his preferences in music being Argentinian [shocker] as well as cumbia and reggae. He’s also commented on his guitar playing, saying, “I really like it but I still don’t know much about it. It relaxes me and it allows me to disconnect from everything.

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Player Reactions: FC Barcelona 2-1 Athletic Bilbao

Player Reactions: FC Barcelona 2-1 Athletic Bilbao

A much needed win at Camp Nou was eventually decided by surprise surprise Lionel Messi. Here’s Adriano, Javier Mascherano, Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta on the victory.

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Number of the Day: 96

Number of the Day: 96

Ernesto Valverde’s Athletic Bilbao will prove a test for FC Barcelona at Camp Nou. Despite defeating the Basque team in Catalonia 68% of the time historically, including their last nine visits, Valverde’s Bilbao are undefeated on the road in 96 days, stretching back to January 5th. Since then they have won at Osasuna, Betis and Levante, while drawing in Celta, Valencia and Elche. The key? Defense. In these last seven away trips, Bilbao have conceded only four goals.

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Bartomeu: “In-depth restructuring of the team”

Bartomeu: “In-depth restructuring of the team”

Yesterday evening club president Josep Maria Bartomeu came out strongly to Lionel Messi’s defense. Amidst papers manufacturing rumors regarding the Argentine’s possible departure, Bartomeu has hopefully put them to bed. Speaking with TV3, he also made some interesting but not detailed comments about what to expect next season.

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Athletic Bilbao squad

Athletic Bilbao squad

So many injuries. Gerardo Martino is unable to call upon key members Víctor Valdés, Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba and Neymar. Jonathan Dos Santos and Isaac Cuenca are also injured, but inconsequentially. The one piece of good news is Marc Bartra received medical clearance. Full squad:

Pinto, Olazábal, Montoya, Fàbregas, Xavi, Pedro, Iniesta, Alexis, Messi, Mascherano, Bartra, Song, Afellay, Tello, Adriano, Dani Alves, Sergi Roberto, Sergi Gómez.

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Martino: “I’m not at all satisfied”

Martino: “I’m not at all satisfied”

The team is giving up? Absolutely not. We all felt the pain of the last weeks, a blow every third day, but it can still happen that those ahead of us have a result that favor us and we have the obligation to continue competing.” It’s business as usual from Gerardo Martino, and frankly, what else do you expect? I have seen comments begrudging the manner Martino speaks before games, saying it’s always the same positive, time to move forward rhetoric over and over. Well, what is it exactly you’d like him to say? Should he say, “I don’t care, my job’s probably not going to continue anyway, so yeah, I’m not really bothered.” How about, “I barely have any fit players, and many of them are struggling with form, so who knows what’s going to happen? I’m not a prophet.” Would that be preferable? Managers can only say so much, there’s also only so much to be said, and if anything, one of Martino’s faults is his honesty and candor. It’s not actually a fault, but in the vicious, unforgiving world of elite sport, those attributes are preyed upon by the vultures.

And Martino is absolutely right, FC Barcelona are four points from leaders Atlético. From the fatalism aplenty, one would think Barça trail by some insurmountable margin. Four points is a two game swing, one against leaders Atleti. There are five matches left and both teams who currently usurp Barcelona have a pair of very taxing midweek matches on their plates. It’s reasonably common for sides to drop points the weekend following such physically and mentally exhausting Champions League battles. Nobody’s saying it will be easy, some fortune is certainly required, but far crazier things happen.

We are only one mistake from our rivals of taking control of the league. It’s one mistake.” More from Tata after the jump.

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Number of the Day: 38

Number of the Day: 38

Injuries, legal headache, apparently unhappy, reportedly [irresponsibly] wanting more money, looking ahead to the World Cup and whatever truths and lies are circulating, Lionel Messi has scored 38 goals in 41 appearances this year. A few assists too, 13 if we’re being accurate. What a rotten season huh?

#Messinosetoca

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Alexis Sánchez denies Tata clash

Alexis Sánchez denies Tata clash

A story from Sport that Alexis Sánchez angrily confronted Gerardo Martino following the Copa del Rey loss and refused to collect his second place medal picked up some traction over social media yesterday. Alexis has come out and refused all such class. Not a user of social media himself, the Chilean had his agent, Fernando Felichevich, tweet out the following:

Having just finished speaking with Alexis, he asked me to flatly deny the story of his altercation with FC Barcelona’s manager. In more than a 10 year career [Alexis] has never had a problem with any of his managers. Alexis did not confront his manager, much less insult him. He has always had an exemplary attitude.

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Training on Good Friday

Training on Good Friday

The squad were given the day off to celebrate Easter Friday, but several made their way to the Ciutat Esportiva. Injured players Jordi Alba, Neymar, Gerard Piqué and Marc Bartra came in to perform recovery work. The other attendee was Adriano.

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2014/15 jersey?

2014/15 jersey?

As happens annually, an apparent version of the upcoming season uniform has been published by both Sport and Mundo Deportivo, using the leaked image from footyheadlines.com. In fairness, the leaks over the last few years have proven true. This one looks, well, let’s say hurriedly put together. But, it could be it or a close version. Thoughts?

leaked 2014:15 home jersey

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Number of the Day: 49%

Number of the Day: 49%

One of Barcelona’s principal dailies Mundo Deportivo asked in a poll “who is the most responsible for the bad state at Barça?”. From the 2,153 votes, 49% place the blame on the board, 23% on the players, 17% believe it’s the technical staff [aka manager and staff], 9% point the finger at Andoni Zubizarreta and 2% said other.

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Martino: “It’s a really tough blow”

Martino: “It’s a really tough blow”

It’s a really tough blow because the expectations are so great.” Gerardo Martino is correct on both fronts, particularly the latter. FC Barcelona are now their own worst enemies, having set the standard so high, it’s what too many assume to be the norm. Martino kept it short post match, but whether truthful or not, the Argentine felt his future hasn’t particularly changed. “As I have said for one, two, three months now, I don’t feel that my future has changed because of all that we lost, and nor do I think it would be different if we had won.” The part that is likely to prove true is that even if Barça had won, Martino’s future wouldn’t have been any different.

Commenting on the winning goal, Tata was annoyed because he felt “the game was going our way after we had leveled until that counterattack”, but also was impressed to see someone “sprint like that at that stage of the game.

Obviously this is not a good moment. It has been a hard week on all fronts.” But Tata also stressed the need for perspective, to look at the bigger picture, to trust in the fundamentals of the squad and look to build for the future.

One month remains in the season, and there is only one competition to focus on. The league isn’t over as both Madrid sides have a very real distraction in Europe. Martino has to implore the players to muster one final push and finish the season undefeated.

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Messi cam

Messi cam

Tonight the Copa del Rey final broadcasters RTVE will have one of their 24 cameras solely focused on Lionel Messi for the entire match. There will be another lens on Gareth Bale, and the footage will eventually be used to produce a special program on the two players. However, while one enjoy the match on the TV, tonight is will be possible to follow every step Messi takes live at www.rtve.es.

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Copa del Rey final Preview: FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid

Copa del Rey final Preview: FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid

Pros: Gerardo Martino is 2 for 2 against Real Madrid, Marc Bartra appears set to start, Leo Messi might be feeling in the mood for proving a point and tonight genuinely is Barça’s best shot at silverware. Cons: Carles Puyol and Gerard Piqué are effectively ruled out and Cristiano Ronaldo is unavailable. More pros than cons then, but of course, football is not won with a pros and cons table. Thus far Tata has had Carlo’s number, but Ancelotti is as experienced and able as any, it would be some feat for Martino to make it 3 for 3. But that’s what he must do, operative word being must.

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Quote of the Day: Ni nada

Quote of the Day: Ni nada

“If we lose the Copa [del Rey], Tata Martino isn’t done and we won’t call elections.

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Video of the Day: Munir’s stunning UEFA Youth League goal

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Official: Cristiano Ronaldo out of Copa del Rey Final

Official: Cristiano Ronaldo out of Copa del Rey Final

Today Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti officially ruled Cristiano Ronaldo out of tomorrow evening Copa del Rey final. Winning will still need a fully focused and committed performance from FC Barcelona, particularly considering the last several days. But with Ronaldo out, Gerardo Martino’s team’s task has markedly improved. Less excuses now, lads.

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Oé, oé, oé UEFA Youth Team Champions!

Oé, oé, oé UEFA Youth Team Champions!

Just some time ago, FC Barcelona’s Juvenil A side defeated Benfica 3-0 in the first UEFA Youth League, the competition that mirrors the Champions League for players of 19 years and under. The star of the show, and the tournament, was Munir El Haddadi. The young man got a brace this afternoon, and over the entire competition 11 goals and six assists. The other goal today was scored by Rodrigo Tarin. Adama Traoré also shined in the win, as he has done all season. It’s truly a great accomplishment for the club and La Masia, which despite all the negative press stemming from the FIFA ban, is still the benchmark for football player development. I recommend anyone more interested to check out @Youngcules Twitter page for everything including the goals.

Congratulations Juvenil A! The future is bright indeed.

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Puyol: “I ask the supporters to give everything”

Puyol: “I ask the supporters to give everything”

He may be injured, he can’t even play but Capità still knows how to make culés proud. This afternoon Carles Puyol went in front of the media to basically try and straighten out the narrative, to try and regain some perspective in this myopic world of sport. Below is only a brief summary of what was said in his statement as well as the barrage of question, but basically Puyol said it’s no time to point fingers, that the team is always trying its best and have been for quite a few years now. He also defended Lionel Messi unscrupulously and had to explain that it’s impossible to always win. It was additionally a rallying of the troops, to try and get everyone on board with the final push.

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So what if he is

So what if he is

The metric that Lionel Messi ran 6.8 kilometers the other evening has produced a lot of chatter. A favorite narrative theorizes the Argentinian captain is protecting himself for the 2014 FIFA World Cup beginning in 60 days. Well, so what if he is?

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Happy Birthday: Carles Puyol

Happy Birthday: Carles Puyol

Today Capità turns 36, and it’s very possibly the last birthday Carles Puyol will celebrate in the blaugrana strip. Time is the inescapable constant, and even a warrior of Puyol’s calibre will suffer it. The man broke his body for the sport and club he holds so dear, he will be universally missed.

Happy Birthday Puyi from totalBarça. Don’t be a stranger you hear.

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Unhappy Numbers of the Day: 2,050 & 5

Unhappy Numbers of the Day: 2,050 & 5

No goals midweek at Vicente Calderón, no goals yesterday evening at Granada. This is the first time since Pep Guardiola’s second and third official games in charge (2008/9) that FC Barcelona have failed to score in consecutive matches, spanning 2,050 days. Guardiola lost 1-0 to Wisla Krakow in the Champions League qualifier return leg (after essentially securing victory in Spain) and then lost his first La Liga match 1-0 at Numania. History knows how that season ended, how will this?

Additionally, defeat yesterday brings Gerardo Martino’s total league losses to five. That’s the same figure Barça have experienced in the last two league seasons combined. Pep Guardiola lost three (1-0 Getafe, 3-2 Osasuna, 1-2 Real Madrid) in his final campaign (2011/12), whereas Tito Vilanova lost just two (Real Sociedad 3-2, Real Madrid 2-1) in 2012/13.

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Martino: “There is no time for lamentations”

Martino: “There is no time for lamentations”

Hurting but not defeated was the message from Gerardo Martino going into today’s match against Granada. “It is impossible for a team to be fully over an elimination like that in so little time. You cannot be in top spirits just by magic. Nobody is in the best of moods, but there is no time for lamentations. There is no time for crying about things, although some defeats are very painful. We have to get straight back to thinking about the league. A win against Granada would allow us to move on a bit from the result in the Champions League.” More after the jump.

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Barça Zone Valencia

Barça Zone Valencia

Those heading down to the Mestalla in Valencia to see FC Barcelona take on Real Madrid for the Copa del Rey should be sure to stop by Barça Zone Valencia. From 10 am to 7:30 pm, the club have organized a fan zone for the estimated 20,000 supporters that will make the midweek trip. Set up in Parc dels Tarongers, Barça Zone with have a range of activities on offer. Four bands will be performing live: The Uppshitters (apparently) (2 pm), Itaca Band (3:10 pm), Pirat’s Sound Sistema (4:25 pm) and Dr Calypso (5:45 pm), there will be various activities for children, foosball, mini-arena football, Catalan billiards, video games and of course plenty of food and beverages.

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Best Goal’s from Barça’s Youth

From the weekend of April 5th and 6th, here are La Masia’s top five goals from Nils Mortimer (U13), Alexis Meva (U17), Adama Traoré (Barça B), Sandro Ramírez (Barça B) and Godswill (U18).

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Number of the Day: 6.8

Number of the Day: 6.8

He was told to not actively participate in the game, and that translated to Lionel Messi running just 6.8 kilometers. That’s 1.5 kilometers more than José Manuel Pinto and just 56% of the amount Atlético’s Koke put in.

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