FC Barcelona defender Marc Bartra (23) will start his third season with the first team. Despite knowing that the club is looking for a new center back the Catalan youngster is eager to become a regular in Luis Enrique’s team. Read his the full interview with Catalan daily Mundo Deportivo after the jump.
FC Barcelona forward Alexis Sánchez (25) and the Chilean national team were unable to win their final game of the group stages against the Netherlands. Two late goals from Leroy Fer and Memphis Depay respectively were enough for a very defensive Dutch team to take the three points. Despite the loss, Chile are through to the next round. Read more after the jump.
Cuiabá, one of the warmest cities in Brazil, was the scene for Chile’s opening game of the World Cup. Opponents: Australia. What at first looked like a walk-over for the men of Chile and boss Sampaoli turned into a hard-fought victory with Alexis Sánchez (25) earning himself the Man of the Match award. Read more after the jump.
A lot of things have been happening in and around Camp Nou the last couple of days; Messi signing an improved contract, Luis Enrique appointed the new manager, Ter Stegen becoming Barcelona’s new goalkeeper and youngsters Deulofeu & Rafinha coming back from loan to join the first team next season. Amidst all of this, left back Jordi Alba (25) came out to defend his team mate Lionel Messi (26).
According to Alba, Messi deserves more respect. “It is easy to criticise and make comments but they are very unjust. He has won the Ballon d’Or four times and he will definitely win more. If they criticise him, then what will they say about me?”
Former Barcelona manager Johan Cruyff talked to Catalan newspaper Sport and the Dutchman was once again very critical of the current board. While at the International Film Festival of Sports the father of Barça’s “Dream Team” said that the current team is having troubles because “the decisions are being made by the board and since they don’t know how football works it’s very difficult to do well.”
Ex-player Hristo Stoichkov wasn’t particularly impressed with the team either. The Bulgarian said: “How can you say the league has been lost when there’s still two games to be played?” A clear reference towards the negativity expressed by the players and coach Gerardo Martino after the draw against Getafe. He also made a prediction concerning the end of the season, “The Champions League for Atlético, the league for Barça and the cup for Madrid. Everybody’s happy that way.”
Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta spoke to Spanish TV station Cuatro. He said, “It is shocking that [Lionel] Messi’s case still isn’t resolved. If it were up to me, Messi would be at FC Barcelona for life.”
Laporta also spoke about Brazilian forward Neymar Jr. According to the Catalan politician, people shouldn’t be too hard on Neymar because, “Neymar is the victim of bad management by the current board.”
Talking about the possibility of running for president again, Laporta said the following: “At the end of the season I will make my intentions concerning Barça clear.” Some media are speculating that Laporta will organise a vote of no confidence against the current FC Barcelona board.
FC Barcelona vice president Javier Faus gave an interview on Ràdio 4 where he commented about the FIFA ban. According to him, everything that is happening with the club at the moment is not a coincidence. He said, “The last five years the club has become a victim of series of accusations. Doping, the attacks on coaches Pep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova, statements by certain people regardless of who is on the board, Messi, Neymar and so on. These accusations aren’t random.”
Faus also mentioned how the club needs to be united, saying, “If Barça as an institution and everybody who loves us don’t stick together it will hurt us. Our proposal is to be united. They try to damage the image of our club but they will not succeed. As an institution we know said: Enough is enough. In fact, each week we tell other organisations, clubs or administrations how we work and explain how we operate.” Read more what Faus had to say after the jump.
Suspicions of doping, problems with Lionel Messi’s taxes, investigations surrounding Neymar’s signing, irregularities in La Masia’s recruitment–FC Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu is convinced that the same person or group of people are responsible for all of this. A “black hand” acting anonymously. “We noticed that externally they are trying to hurt FC Barcelona in recent times. We’re investigating. We have some evidence that leads us to think that somebody is trying to hurt Barça. We will not stop until we find the person, or people, responsible,” he said.
The president has seen “strange things” in the case of the alleged irregularities in signing youth players. He added, “The UEFA Committee decided the penalty of our club on November 28, 2013 but we only receive it four months and five days later. However on 9 December, only 11 days later, they ask us for more information on the players, which we provided them.”
On Wednesday FC Barcelona play against Celta de Vigo at Camp Nou for a midweek La Liga encounter. The technical staff have called up the same players as they did for the game against Real Madrid, with the exception of Xavi Hernández. The Catalan midfielder is replaced by Cristian Tello.
Manager Gerardo Martino decided to leave out Oier, Ibrahim Afellay, Martín Montoya and Xavi while Carles Puyol, Jonathan Dos Santos and Isaac Cuenca are still injured.
The complete squad: Valdés, Pinto, Piqué, Fàbregas, Pedro, Iniesta, Alexis, Neymar Jr, Messi, Mascherano, Bartra, Sergio Busquets, Song, Jordi Alba, Tello, Adriano, Dani Alves, Sergi Roberto
Piero Ausilio, technical director of Inter Milan, who has been in Madrid to lure Álvaro Morata away from Real Madrid, has met with player agent Josep Maria Orobitg. The Italian club is interested in two of his clients: Defender Martín Montoya (22) and midfielder Sergi Roberto (22).
We don’t have to remind you that Montoya’s contract expires June 30 and that he still hasn’t signed an extension, although an agreement was reached between the club and the player a couple of weeks ago. If the new deal is signed, the Catalan fullback will stay at the club until 2018. His buy-out clause will also rise every year.
Ex-Barcelona defender Andreu Fontàs (24) is having a great season at Celta de Vigo. The player has the full confidence of manager Luis Enrique and this has triggered a clause in Fontàs’ contract. Because Fontàs has played a pre-determined amount of games, his contract with the Galician club is automatically prolonged until 30 June 2016.
Midfielder Cesc Fàbregas (26) spoke to Catalan daily Mundo Deportivo. He gives a comprehensive view of his feelings about the season that has passed so far, his opinion of Messi’s recovery and of Tata Martino’s role as coach, and looks ahead to the final matches and possible rewards the end of the season holds for Barça. Read the translation of the full interview after the jump.
25th September 2010: That’s the last time FC Barcelona managed to win a game in the Basque Country (Euskadi). On that day FC Barcelona had a 1-3 victory over Athletic Bilbao thanks to goals from Xavi Hernández, Seydou Keita and Sergio Busquets. From then on, Barcelona are on a seven game streak without a victory. Three draws and four losses against the Basque clubs is a poor balance.
FC Barcelona has, as of today, 54.1 million Facebook likes. Five million of those likes come from Indonesia which makes it the country with the most Barcelona fans.
Indosat, the regional sponsor of Barça in Indonesia, has certainly helped the club to promote itself. The telecommunications company is one of the major partners together with Head & Shoulders in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
This Saturday, for the league game against Valencia CF, the first team players will be wearing the Chinese symbol for horse on their shirts. The horse is the symbol of the New Chinese Year which begins January 31.
The shirt will only be used for this special occasion and will be worn on a day where the kick-off time is 16:00 which is convenient for Asian Barcelona fans. The game will be broadcast live on Beijing TV for China, Fox Asia will be airing in Indonesia & India, RS Sports will cover the game in Thailand, and WOWOW in Japan.
Ex-Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita (34) will join Valencia CF until the end of the season. Keita will sign his contract, that has an option for one extra year, with the Valencian club later this afternoon after he has passed his medical tests. The Mali international who played for Dalian Aerbin FC in the Super Liga China was part of the Sevilla squad in 2007-2008 before joining FC Barcelona for four seasons.
It’s seems like the game against Barcelona will come too early for Keita as he is not part of Valencia’s match squad for the game this Saturday.
Josep Bartomeu, the new president of FC Barcelona, was a guest this morning on the radio show El matí de Catalunya Radio. He explained, “[Barcelona doesn't] have an agreement with a goalkeeper to replace Víctor Valdés yet but we’re close.” He also talked about renewing Lionel Messi’s contract and giving him a pay rise saying that, “The negotiations will be as discreet as possible.” Read more after the jump.
Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribéry (30) admitted that he was still disappointed that he didn’t win the 2013 Ballon d’Or ahead of Liga stars Ronaldo and Messi. He told the media that, “Cristiano’s victory was mainly due to politics.” Read more after the jump.
Marc Bartra (22), FC Barcelona’s young defender, was interviewed on Barça TV’s El Marcador earlier today. He is gradually becoming a usual fixture in manager Gerardo Martino’s line-up. “Things are working out,” said the centre back. “I know that I have to continue working in order to take advantage of the opportunities the manager gives me.”
Read more after the jump.
MESSI SCORES A HATTRICK
13,200 fans at the mini
The open training was an absolute success
Leo scores three goals and gives one assist in the training match
Messi: I feel good and I’m very happy to be with my teammates again
Emotions and gifts at the hospital: A day with ill children. Tata Martino and his players spend a couple of hours to bring happiness
Hard start for 2014: Two months that demand a lot. It’s possible Barça has to play 15 games in January and February
Coming back to Barcelona is always a moment of happiness for Thiago Alcántara (22). Normally, the Alcántara family travels back to Brazil to celebrate Christmas but not this year. This year the Alcántaras are staying in Barcelona. Thiago just won the Club World Cup for the second time in his career and even managed to score in the final. His first milestone for FC Bayern Munich. The player shared his first moments at home with Catalan newspaper Sport as he was doing a workout organised by “5-hour ENERGY”, an energy drink. Read the translation of his interview after the jump.