Something seems to be happening at Barça

Something seems to be happening at Barça

Rarely in football do you sincerely think “that was bloody brilliant”. Obviously I’m not referring to the second half (except for Arda Turan’s wonderful moment of theatre), but that first half was one of wonderful ebb and flow. It started with a bang, then an elegant rebuttal, an unsurprising controversy, a swift reply and finally it ended with a bang. Instead of being called for a clear handball, Jordi Alba burst the length of the field to superbly assist Neymar’s winner on a night the Brazilian sparkled. Down 2-3 at the half (2-4 on aggregate), Neymar finally had enough of the relentless fouling, got into Gabi’s face and then stood up to Fernando Torres. Eventually that concluded with Gabi being sent off during the break and viewers needing a double take when Atlético took to the field curiously a man down.

I must say, there’s been few firmer admirers and supporters of Atletí but lately it feels things are getting nasty. The soldier “never say die” mentality is shifting into a bit of a sore loser routine. The Atlético guys seem to genuinely believe they’re being wronged despite cynical and excessive physical fouls that are blatantly obvious. Whether a direct consequence or not, it was poetic that referee Gil Manzano had to ask for a new disappearing spray can with 10 minutes still to spare. He blew over thirty fouls and distributed 13 yellow cards (10 to Atlétio Madrid) as well as 2 red cards. Barça were unable to beat Atletí in six attempts last year, they’ve now won three times in barely over two weeks with an aggregate score-line of 7-3. Something seems to be happening at FC Barcelona.

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Happy Birthday #Xavi35

What a privilege it has been having Xavi in blaugrana all this time. Happy Birthday Maestro!

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Calma Luis, calma

Calma Luis, calma

Tug away, pull with all your might, try by force and you’ll never be free. The harder you try, the tighter the bamboo grips – on this simple principle the age old Chinese handcuffs have imprisoned many an index finger. As soon as the prisoner relaxes, so does the snare and voilà, freedom. We human beings so often get in our own way. We want something so badly that our attempts become desperate, frantic and ultimately counterproductive. Whether it’s Dee gripping the rat trap (for any of my Always Sunny brethren out there) or Luis Suárez in blaugrana, often when one stops trying so hard nature takes its course.

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Neymar, Suárez, Messi – Barça beat Atlético 3-1

Neymar, Suárez, Messi – Barça beat Atlético 3-1

That did not look a team in the midst of mutiny. FC Barcelona put in their best performance of the season, in particular with a sensational first half that at the very least merited the two goal advantage. Atlético Madrid certainly overstepped with their physical play, it got dirty, and only through the incompetence of La Liga officiating finished the game with all eleven men on the pitch. It was that same ineptitude from Undiano Mallenco that also gifted the visitors with a chance for points. At the end however, Barça matched Atletí intensity and very deservedly walked off the Camp Nou pitch worthy winners.

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Match Squad: no Mathieu nor Xavi

Match Squad: no Mathieu nor Xavi

The 18 man squad for tonight’s game confirmed Xavi Hernández is out with an injury. Frenchman Jérémy Mathieu is the other chief absentee thanks to the final phase in recovering from an Achilles problem. Otherwise Jordi Masip, Douglas and Martín Montoya can once again reserve their seats as spectators in the presidential box. Full squad list:

Ter Stegen, C. Bravo, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio, Pedro, Iniesta, Suárez, Messi, Neymar Jr, Rafinha, Mascherano, Bartra, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, Adriano, Alves, Munir.

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Breaking: Bartomeu announces 2015 summer elections

Breaking: Bartomeu announces 2015 summer elections

In the still ongoing press conference, Josep Maria Bartomeu announced that the board will call early elections for this coming summer. This is a huge and historic moment for the club and one that will have many millions of culés celebrating.

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Live: Josep Maria Bartomeu’s press conference

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Breaking: Carles Puyol resigns

Breaking: Carles Puyol resigns

Carles Puyol has announced via his official Facebook page that he is ending his professional working relationship with FC Barcelona.

A full translation of his announcement after the jump.

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Breaking: FC Barcelona terminate Zubizarreta’s contract

Breaking: FC Barcelona terminate Zubizarreta’s contract

Whether Andoni Zubizarreta already knew or his comments last night were the impetus, minutes ago FC Barcelona confirmed they have terminated the director of football’s contract. I ask totalBarça readers to take caution….champagne corks can be dangerous objects. President Josep Maria Bartomeu will stage a press conference live tomorrow afternoon on this action and likely others. Official statement below:

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I do not trust Luis Enrique

I do not trust Luis Enrique

Trust is essential to relationships. It is something that is not easy to earn and something that should not be given away cheaply. “In Fergie/Arsenè/Pep/Carlo/whoever We Trust” is one of football’s most common stadium banners – a fan base expressing their faith in said leader on the basis of trust. I don’t trust Luis Enrique, and frankly nobody else should either. Let me be clear, this does not mean I am advocating for his dismissal or further demonizing the near satanic reputation of the board many relish in perpetuating for appointing him. I don’t trust Luis Enrique because he has given me no reason to.

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FC Barcelona respond to CAS decision

FC Barcelona respond to CAS decision

Here is the official club statement responding to the Court of Arbitration of Sport’s (CAS) decision to dismiss FC Barcelona’s appeal of the FIFA ban.

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Breaking: CAS dismiss FC Barcelona’s FIFA ban appeal

Breaking: CAS dismiss FC Barcelona’s FIFA ban appeal

That’s 0/2 at the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS). The Swiss based court released a statement today dismissing FC Barcelona’s appeal against the FIFA imposed transfer ban confirming that the “FIFA decision is confirmed in full and the sanction remains in force.” This shouldn’t be surprising given Barça officials effectively admitted to breaching the FIFA regulations and defended their actions with a ‘yeah, technically we did but…’ This is another damming event that happened under the Sandro Rosell, now Josep Maria Bartomeu, administration, but at the same time the FIFA regulations are debatable in their scope.

I’ve maintained since the start of all this that this ban is genuinely not a big deal. Clubs rarely use the January window in any case, so that’s irrelevant and this summer’s splurge was indicative of the club predicting not being able to spend next summer. At the end of the day, Barça have a handful of players in the B side that merit a chance with the big boys and this ban provides the perfect opportunity to do so.

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Barça’s midfield offers the path of least resistance

Barça’s midfield offers the path of least resistance

Martin Ødegaard is the “beautiful bride.” Reminiscent of a starry-eyed yet rather absurd pack of singles vying for one woman’s carefully choreographed affections on ABC’s The Bachelorette, a bevy of Europe’s most eligible suitors have been swooning the 16-year-old Norwegian in the hope of receiving his final rose and becoming the “fortunate groom.” Karl-Heinz Rummenigge’s child-bride metaphor aside, the meticulous courting of Ødegaard would be commonplace in America’s well-oiled collegiate recruitment machine but it’s unprecedented in the European club market.

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Final match squad of 2014

Final match squad of 2014

Neymar makes the list but unsurprisingly Dani Alves will miss out with his hamstring issue. Otherwise Jordi Masip, Douglas, Marc Bartra and Sergi Roberto have been overlooked for selection.

The final list reads as follows:

Ter Stegen,Claudio Bravo, Montoya, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio, Xavi, Pedro, Iniesta, Suárez, Messi, Neymar Jr, Rafinha, Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Adriano, Mathieu, Munir.

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Anything but a win spells an unhappy Christmas

Anything but a win spells an unhappy Christmas

FC Barcelona say farewell to 2014 tomorrow at Camp Nou against 19th place Córdoba. Nothing other than victory will suffice. Club president Josep Maria Barotmeu envisions 2015 as the “year of Luis Enrique” whereas the manager himself stressed that the team must raise the bar. What will eventually happens remains to be seen – for right now the only objective is to finish the year strong and send the players off on their break in good spirits.

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Probably about 70:30, a PSG 3-4-3 analysis

Probably about 70:30, a PSG 3-4-3 analysis

We had control of the game from the start, even though they scored first. We knew where we could do them damage, where to find space, and where we could get our decisive players into the game. We wanted to accumulate as many players as possible in attack, to try and unbalance the opponent. We gave up some chances, but against this type of opponent, that will happen. We are stronger when we can use different shapes. To sum up, a very good night for us.

- ESPNFC

That’s how Luis Enrique summed up the much talked about 3-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). Well, I’m about to talk more about, A LOT more, so if that’s your kind of thing…onwards!

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Back to the Etihad it is

Back to the Etihad it is

Of the seven possible available group runners-up FC Barcelona have drawn Manchester City for the second year in a row in the UEFA Champions League round of 16. The draw certainly could have been kinder but this is the game’s premier competition, there’s no place for groaning, time to buck up. For a list of the other match ups, follow the jump:

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Feo against Getafe, a game to forget

Feo against Getafe, a game to forget

On a cold and rainy night on the outskirts of the Spanish capital, FC Barcelona huffed and puffed away fruitlessly for 90 minutes in an ugly (feo) 0-0 draw with Getafe. The home side made 18 interceptions, 21 clearances and smart fouls in an all out defensive display that limited the number of saves to 2 for keeper Vicente Guaita. The most problematic element is Getafe managed all that without too much fuss. Barça should have had a penalty, though Getafe could claim one as well, but anyone holding their breath expecting a La Liga referee to do his job competently may as well arrange the funeral right now. When going up against this hideously difficult defensive ploy, a penalty or a free-kick hit just an inch lower can be the best panacea, but still not an excuse. The performance wasn’t good. Barça have been going up against this tactic for six or seven years now with increasing frequency, so it’s not like Luis Enrique and the boys should have expected anything different. This was an instantly forgettable match with nothing worth noting. What remains obvious is Luis Enrique’s Barça very much remains a work in progress.

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Yes Barça won, but… a preview to the review

Yes Barça won, but… a preview to the review

Unable to give the effort I desire on reviewing FC Barcelona’s 3-1 victory of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) yesterday evening, I will offer a snippet of what I will have finished tomorrow. Because I am never an over-reactionary, do not hold any sort of agenda and gladly change my opinion when proven otherwise, I have no issue being clear that Barça’s performance yesterday evening did not impress me. Barça’s performance, as in the collective system, not Javier Mascherano’s top-draw pass, Luis Suárez’s sublime assist or Neymar’s glorious goal.

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Neither history nor present should concern Barça

Neither history nor present should concern Barça

The Parisians must wait – today nobody should look beyond el derbì. First of all, it feels FC Barcelona are obligated to keep pace with a runaway Real Madrid freight train. Secondly, whilst Espanyol may be far from the top, los periquitos always save their best for Barça. Still, this is a game Luis Enrique and co are expected to win and anything short of the three points will bring harsh comparisons to Carlo Ancelotti’s gang and a micro-crisis before a semi-clutch match on Wednesday against Paris Saint-Germaine (PSG).

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The Result: Valencia CF 0-1 FC Barcelona

The Result: Valencia CF 0-1 FC Barcelona

RESULT:

Valencia CF: 0

FC Barcelona: 1

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How to score 74 Champions League goals

How to score 74 Champions League goals

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Video of the Day: Messi vs Ney

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Oupa against APOEL

Oupa against APOEL

Two hatricks and two significant records surpassed by Lionel Messi act as the fulcrum to Barça nation’s improved mood. In another performance that saw Luis Enrique play a more classical system with forwards starting wide then cutting in and midfielders centralized, FC Barcelona sparkled in dispatching a usually stodgy APOEL side at home. The Cypriots offered nothing going forward, but this is a side that until last night only conceded a goal a game and made mega-bucks side Paris Saint-Germaine (PSG) work-hard for both theirs. Messi was at his ultimate best, putting so many others in goal scoring positions while also scoring himself and tracking back in defense. Luis Suárez showed off his trickery and genuine football genius scoring his first goal with a trademark move and finish. The interplay between two of the world’s true football wizards only foreshadows many moments of wonder to come.

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Sneak preview of 2016 elections

Sneak preview of 2016 elections

Agustí Benedito, who lost the 2010 election to Sandro Rosell, has taken it upon himself to take the pulse of Barça’s socios (members). Using a survey circulated on the day of FC Barcelona – Celta Vigo on November 1st, we now have a picture of what the 2016 elections may look like. It’s been exclusively translated by totalBarça after the jump.

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Quote of the Day: Water under the bridge

Quote of the Day: Water under the bridge

In principle, I’ve no intention of ever coaching Barça again. I think that there are cycles in life and that mine [at Barcelona] is finished.

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Match Review: AFC Ajax 0-2 FC Barcelona

Match Review: AFC Ajax 0-2 FC Barcelona

A composed and controlled second half, the crescendo being Lionel Messi’s second goal of the match, was enough to give FC Barcelona victory in Amsterdam. With Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) defeating APOEL in the other tie, Barça have now already advanced to the next stage of the competition and need only battle PSG for top spot. It wasn’t superb by any means; Ajax had their moments too, but a much assured showing after the break gave the home team almost no chance of getting back into it. While Luis Suárez looking fatigued, Neymar being bullied about and the midfield (save Xavi) not supporting high enough, it was once again Messi orchestrating the show.

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The Result: AFC Ajax 0-2 FC Barcelona

The Result: AFC Ajax 0-2 FC Barcelona

RESULT:

AFC Ajax: 0

FC Barcelona: 2

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Luis Enrique: “There is nothing else to do”

Luis Enrique: “There is nothing else to do”

I’m sure I have, but right now I cannot think of a bigger overreaction in the Barça nation than over the recent successive defeats, a sentiment I clearly share with Luis Enrique. “Everything is being questioned at the moment, I understand that, but I will remain faithful to my ideas. I will not change due to one loss, or many losses. We make judgments at the end of the season, on whether the objectives have been achieved. That is my way, and has always been at other clubs I have coached. I am not concerned about the mood, I am just focused on preparing my players. We look to improve on some things, and praise other things we did well. There is nothing else to do.” More after the jump.

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Cruyff: “There is no point in this division”

Cruyff: “There is no point in this division”

The premier of the documentary “The Last Match”, based on his move to the club, may have been on FC Barcelona ground and with current FC Barcelona board members in attendance, but Johan Cruyff was as ever frank with his words. The crux of his comments was that the blame, which is absurd to even try assign after a couple of defeats (the horror!), does not lie with the new manager. “Barcelona had two coaches in nine years, and now three in three. There are more things going on that are not seen. There is no point to this social division…Luis Enrique has something in his favor. I signed him [in 1996], although they kicked me out and I could not coach him. He loves this sport. It is difficult to give advice to Luis Enrique. I am not inside, I cannot advise him.” More from the one time honorary president below.

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