Barcelona women’s team forward Alexia Putellas scored this fantastic goal as she produced a woman of the match performance in the Copa de la Reina final, leading Barca to a 4-0 victory over Zaragoza. This victory concluded a fantastic treble-winning year for the women’s team, adding this trophy to their successes in the league and Copa Catalunya this season.
Last week, Andrés Iniesta spoke to Spanish newspaper El Pais ahead of the Spanish national team’s departure across the Atlantic for friendlies and the Confederations Cup in Brazil. In between comments about the tactical developments of the Spanish team and the impact of Mourinho, Iniesta reflected on the season he’s had and his excitement looking forward.
Marca reported today that the €7.5 million a year contract David Villa (31) signed in 2010 has a clause that bumps up his salary to €11 million in his fourth year. Although it is clear there is no room for Villa at Barcelona, such a sum could well encourage him to remain an extra year, or to demand higher wages from clubs that seek to sign him, like Atlético Madrid or North London clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal. On the other hand, this clause would make Barcelona more desperate to sell the Asturian striker, as they cannot afford to have a bench player be the second-highest paid player on the squad, especially not while they look to make budget room for at least two more arrivals. Villa will look at offers after the Confederations Cup, and will most likely accept smaller wages, while Barça will probably have to accept a smaller transfer fee. While it would be sad to see him go, totalBarça hopes to see David at a club where he can thrive next season and get back to his best goalscoring form.
Image Credit: David Ramos/Getty Images
Sport has recently announced that the RFEF has decided the start and end dates for the 2013-14 Liga BBVA: it will begin on the weekend of August 17th/18th and end on May 18th – this is a slightly more condensed season than usual as a result of the timing of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
The Copa del Rey final will be held on April 19th, and the Supercopa de España between Atlético Madrid and FC Barcelona will be held on August 21st, at the Vicente Calderón, and August 28th at Camp Nou.
One of the inevitable results of the increasingly international scope of club football is the spread of myths and player reputations across the globe. Most football aficionados – be they fans, journalists, or even players – only follow a handful of teams or leagues in detail. Yet through the media, through a handful of high-profile Champions League or cup games, through YouTube highlights of catastrophic goals or errors, and, most importantly, through the all-important video games like FIFA, we are bombarded with information that makes us feel like experts. Some of us may recognize that our knowledge is incomplete, but it is much more difficult to confess “I simply don’t know much about X” or stay silent when you have been exposed to news stories and discussions about X every month or two. So as we fans talk to each other or post on message boards, these reputations reinforce themselves, and reputations begin to take on lives of their own, developing into myths. Although I am by no means an expert on Brazilian football, I’ve done a bit of research on new blaugrana boy Neymar, and I’d like to bust some myths today.
Yesterday it was revealed that Emili Ricart, a long-term physical trainer at FC Barcelona, has finished his contract and will not be renewed by the club. The trainer, who first joined the club during Guardiola’s time in charge, was widely loved by the players, having helped Xavi recover from his knee injury in 2005, David Villa from his recent shin break, and Abidal from his recent struggles with cancer. Perhaps most importantly, Ricart was influential in helping Iniesta overcome the hamstring problems that plagued him throughout the 2009-10 season in time for the 2010 World Cup, where Andrés famously scored the winning goal in the final. Ricart has given much to Barcelona, and the reasons for his departure remain unclear.
Neymar was all smiles and gratitude as he stood before a packed Camp Nou for the first time, which roared with delight as the Brazilian juggled, kicked balls to the crowd, and even spoke a phrase of Catalan expressing his thanks to the fans. A great first day for Neymar with Barcelona, hopefully emblematic of his future at the club.
Image via twitter
Vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed during Neymar’s press conference that the total amount paid by the club to bring the Brazilian superstar to Barcelona was 57 million euros. This cost includes the fee to Santos, third-party owners, agents, and the player himself – it is unknown if this includes the 10 million Barça are rumored to have used as a down payment last summer. This price is higher than initially expected, which was partly due to the late interference from other interested clubs, according to Bartomeu. The player’s buyout clause is set at 190 million euros.
Image: David Ramos/Getty Images
Barça captain Carles Puyol spoke to the press today about his future at the club and the injury problems he has dealt with this season. Puyol made it clear that the rumors of him going to Milan are completely false: “My future is at Barça. I have three years remaining on my contract and I want to play competitively until I’m 40, I’m going to fight for it.”
Twelve first team players (Adriano, Pique, Mascherano, Alba, Busquets, Song, Dos Santos, Cesc, Xavi, Alexis, Pedro, Villa) featured in tonight’s Copa Catalunya final, out of 21 total participants. Only two B team players, Oier and Patric, played the full 90 minutes. Yet another perplexing example of Tito neglecting youth players – is winning the Copa Catalunya that important?
According to Sport, Barça B defender Marc Muniesa’s contract will not be renewed before it expires this summer, and the 21-year-old will be allowed to leave for free.
FC Barcelona have officially announced that Éric Abidal (33) and President Sandro Rosell will be giving a press conference at 13:00 tomorrow, Central European time. The conference is rumored to concern Abidal’s departure this summer. It will be streamed live on Barça TV and the club’s website.
FC Barcelona announced via Twitter Saturday night that Brazilian winger Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. (21) has signed a five-year deal with the Catalan club. The transfer fee is believed to be between €25-28 million for 100% of Neymar’s rights, plus two friendly matches between Barça and Santos, in addition to the widely accepted-but-unconfirmed €10 million prepayment Barcelona put down for the player last year.
Xavi Hernández, FC Barcelona’s midfield maestro and the team captain in Puyol’s absence, has played 3,547 minutes this season – only four fewer than his 2011-12 total of 3,551. With two games left to play and Vilanova showing little interest in rotation, the 33-year-old seems sure to overtake his total from last season, a fact that should be a surprise and a concern to many culés, as elaborated below.
FC Barcelona’s official site announced today that Messi has a strained right hamstring and will be out for two to three weeks. The Argentine forward limped off the field against Atlético Madrid on Sunday which cut short his first Liga start since March. Messi has been fighting a recurring injury since the away leg against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League quarter-finals, playing portions of several games since then despite not being fully fit, which has likely exacerbated the injury. He could be available for the team’s final game against Málaga, but it would probably be best for all involved if Messi rested for the rest of the season.
Image: Miguel Ruiz (FCB)
After yesterday’s uninspired victory over Atlético Madrid, several FC Barcelona players spoke to the press about the much larger victory of regaining the Liga championship.
FC Barcelona has just reported that the club has agreed terms with Gerard Deulofeu (19) to extend the B team player’s contract until June 2017. The young winger has been watched by several English clubs, including Liverpool and Manchester City, and his new buyout clause of 35 million euros is a clear message from Barcelona to the rest of Europe that La Masia’s best are not for sale.
As FC Barcelona won its 22nd league title on Saturday, several of the players and staff took a moment to dedicate the successful season to the extraordinary recoveries of Tito Vilanova and Éric Abidal – Abidal, of course, being our very own #22. Anims Tito, anims Abidal, and visca el Barça!
Last night FC Barcelona took on seventh-place Real Betis and defeated them with an impressive, though slightly shaky, 4-2 scoreline. Betis pressed and attacked well, exposing the continuing frailties of Barcelona’s defense, but ultimately the blaugrana attack, led by Andres Iniesta and substitute Lionel Messi, proved to be too much for them.
With speculation abounding over who will stay and go this summer, another question often slips through the cracks, a problem specific to FC Barcelona: who will get promoted from Barça B? Every year, a couple of the club’s youngsters are given first team contracts and a chance to prove their worth. Last year, Cuenca, Fontàs, and Thiago joined the team. This year it was Dos Santos, Tello, Bartra, and Montoya. Next year, likely candidates for promotion are center-back Marc Muniesa, whose season was disrupted by a severe muscle tear this fall, midfielders Sergi Roberto and Rafinha Alcântara, and winger Gerard Deulofeu, crown prince of La Masia. Read on after the break to find out what challenges these youngsters might face in their development.
FC Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes has spoken about his possible team selection for the Camp Nou match on Wednesday, considering that Bayern have six players who are one yellow card away from suspension. Philipp Lahm, Javi Martínez, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Dante, Luiz Gustavo and Mario Gómez could each miss the possible final in Wembley should they get cautioned.
The coming summer was always going to be an exciting one for FC Barcelona and many other top clubs, but last week, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund made it much more so. On the field, the German clubs provoked panic in Spain by dismantling Barcelona and Real Madrid with four goals apiece, leading many journalists to declare that the center of footballing power in Europe had moved at last. But off the field the German clubs were reshaping the transfer market as well. Bayern Munich acquired 20-year-old playmaker Mario Götze, Dortmund’s homegrown maestro and one of the world’s best young talents, as well as being strongly linked to Dortmund’s striker and four-goal hero against Madrid, Robert Lewandowski (24).
By the time Barça takes the field tomorrow, it will have been 13 days since Lionel Messi last featured in a game. With the exception of the winter holiday, this will be the Argentine’s longest stretch without playing a competitive match in the 2012/13 season. Like Puyol, Messi is incredibly competitive, and this extended rest – though necessary to recover from injury – has likely infuriated him. While he may not be at 100% fitness tomorrow, after nearly two weeks on the bench he will undoubtedly be raring to go. Bayern Munich has an impressive defense, but even the likes of Dante and Neuer may find themselves hard put to stop an impatient and eager Messi.
Image: David Ramos/Getty Images
Twenty-two year old center-back Marc Bartra gave a press conference on Thursday, responding to questions on his possible involvement in next week’s Champions League match against Bayern Munich. With Mascherano out for six weeks and Puyol doubtful, Bartra is looking increasingly likely to partner Gerard Piqué in central defense. His main competition lies in two makeshift center-backs, Adriano and Sergio Busquets – the former he outplayed against Paris Saint-Germain, and the latter is more urgently needed in midfield. But can Bartra rise to the occasion? Read on after the jump for the young man’s thoughts.
Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez (33) has recovered fully from his long-term hamstring problem and is training at 100% in preparation for the clash in Munich, ESPN reports. Sunday’s surprise start against Zaragoza was the first time Xavi had been named to the starting eleven in the League since February 3, and the 80+ minutes he played seem proof that the midfielder is well and truly recovered.
When Adriano and Marc Bartra took the field on Sunday, they became Barcelona’s 11th center-back pairing of the season. While we all like a little variety in our lives, this lack of consistency highlights our injury-ridden backline and offers one explanation for the number of goals Barça has conceded. With the acquisition of a centre-back a priority for the summer, perhaps Barça might be able to lower this number to five or six pairings next season?
Although Cristian Tello was voted Man of the Match against Zaragoza, Thiago Alcantara also performed excellently. In addition to his goal and two assists, this video shows how the 22-year-old’s dribbling, ball control, and passing vision continue to improve.
Video Credit: dervyx3
Last night’s victory over Zaragoza marked the 300th consecutive game in which FC Barcelona has controlled the majority of possession. The last time a team had more of the ball than Barça was May 7, 2008, nearly five years ago, when Real Madrid managed 50.5%. More after the jump.