Good things can’t last forever. Barcelona B’s winning run in the Spanish third tier came to an end on Sunday at El Collao, against a combative Alcoyano side that will certainly rival the Blaugranas for promotion. Gerard López did say last week that the match against Alcoyano would be war; the coach was proved right as the game was intensely contested and, above all, contained lots of controversy. The Blaugranas almost completed a miraculous comeback after coming back from 2-0 down, but this time round, they were defeated in the same way that the won last week, thanks to a late goal scored by the hosts.
Round three of La Liga sees Barcelona lose a tough three points at home to Alavés. The club was first undone with a simple cross to Deyverson that resulted in a goal, but minutes later equalized on a Jérémy Mathieu header from a Neymar corner. The contest was decided in the 64th minute after a bad clearance by Javier Mascherano that led to a goal from Ibai Gómez. Luis Enrique made seven changes to the team that started the previous match against Athletic Club before the international break. Even after the introductions of Lionel Messi, Andrés Iniesta, and Luis Suárez the club were unable to equalize.
“Good artists create. Great artists steal”
And so the age-old saying goes. Two paradoxes exist between Los Colchoneros and La Blaugrana, and they are not just found in the cultural authenticity of Catalonia in contrast with the fast lane of the capital, Madrid. The first paradox is found where one team currently finds itself; at the pinnacle of world football and excellence, and where the other aspires to find itself. The second paradox is found in the manner in which excellence is achieved: art, grit inventiveness, toughness.
During the international break, attention usually swings away from club football. For Barcelona B though, the weekend was not the time for switching off. Gerard López and his charges hosted Villarreal B, one of the promotion contenders this weekend, in a match the coach conceded last week would be one of the toughest for the team in the first round of the league season. The Blaugranas though, riding the wave of positivity that has been carrying them for the past two weeks, managed to sink the Yellow Submarine and take a win that installed them as the sole league leaders. To get there though, the reserves had to suffer.
Round two of La Liga sees Barcelona earn a tough three points with a one to nil victory away at the new San Mamés. The low scoring affair was cagey and tense throughout with an early header from Ivan Rakitić deciding the affair.
Barcelona B kicked off their 2016-17 season on Saturday, and after last season’s disappointment, Gerard López’s men did what they had to do to start their season on high note. In front of just 850 spectators at the Miniestadi, the reserves began their quest to come from the ‘well’ (a name for the Segunda División B due to the complexity of its promotion system) against tiny Atlético Saguntino, who just gained promotion to Spain’s third tier after negotiating the way up from the Tercera División. Gerard’s side dominated the match from start to end, but once again the team’s defensive frailties meant the match went for a grandstand finish, with MVP Marc Cardona sealing the win and three points for the reserves in stoppage time.
Summer for Barça fans as been a bit of a mixed affair. The club made many brilliant signings but some players fell on the international stage. In the Euros, the blaugrana players of Spain crashed out at the hands of Italy, and Ivan Rakitić’s Croatia going out to eventual winners Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo. Even more upsetting, in the Copa America, Lionel Messi dazzled throughout, only to lose out in another international competition on penalties. After Leo was brought to tears at the MetLife Stadium, some FCB fans feared the worst for his future. Other fans recalled his incredible performances after the World Cup disappointment in 2014. Messi has made his intentions clear for this season after game week one.
A lot has been said about the 2015/2016 season. And even though it proved to be a success (Yes, a double is a success folks), there was a bitter taste left in the mouths of all cules. Seeing our arch-rivals in Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid competing for top honours in the UEFA Champions League Final seemed a strange ending to a season that had started with so much promise. Celebrating the Copa Del Rey triumph proved an even stranger feeling. I personally can attest to feeling like I was jumping for joy for a 2nd place finish.
Xavi Hernández was never a man of many words. Whenever the former Barcelona midfield puppet master spoke to the press, he did so to offer some words of wisdom and to offer opinions that always echoed the voice of logic. Xavi, now ready to begin his second season with Qatar’s Al-Sadd sat down with SPORT journalist Javier Miguel before joining his team’s preseason training in Austria for a comprehensive interview. TotalBarça is bringing you the whole interview in English.
The joke going around before the United States faced Argentina in the Copa América semifinals last night was that a third of the fans in Houston were there to support the hosts, a third for Argentina, and a third for Lionel Messi. To judge from the broadcast, the joke might not have gone far enough. There were Messi jerseys, Messi signs, even albiceleste flags with Messi’s airbrushed face rippling in the breeze. Only the most pious American fans pretended their guys had any chance against an Argentina side that’s playing like the best in the world, led by the best player in the world. Most just wanted to witness greatness.