On this day, 18 years ago, a 12-year-old Andrés Iniesta was heading north. Accompanied by his father, José Antonio, and mother Mari, the only sound audible in the car for five hours was the roar of the motor humming along the highway. José Antonio likened it to a “funeral.” Andrés was leaving behind his family and his hometown of Fuentealbilla in Albacete, but was heading towards La Masia with the dream of making it at FC Barcelona. He cried much of the journey and most of the night, despite the best efforts of Víctor Valdés to make him feel safe and less homesick.
All journeys, big or small, begin with a single step and 18 years ago in 1996, Andrés Iniesta made a difficult one that would eventually prove to be life changing. More than 500 matches, six league trophies, three Champions Leagues and that goal later, Iniesta is a grown man and a living Barça legend.
When the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League campaign kickoffs tonight, visitors APOEL Nicosia will become the third Cypriot side to battle against FC Barcelona in Catalonia. The previous two visits occurred in the now defunct UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup, a predecessor of the UEFA Cup, now the Europa League. The first encounter was in September 1982, when Barça smashed Apollon Limassol 8-0 with a hat trick from Diego Maradona and brace by Bernd Schuster. Fast-forward 14 years later and actually on Espanyol’s Montjuic pitch (with the Camp Nou being resurfaced), in September 1996 the original Ronaldo scored both goals in a 2-0 win over AEK Larnaca.
Eighteen years on, can Luis Enrique engineer a winning managerial debut and make Barça’s home record against those from Cyprus three for three?
Yesterday was a very important day in the career of Munir El Haddadi, as the striker made his full Spain debut being 19 years and 7 days old, a feat that makes him the third youngest Barça player to play for the senior national team of Spain, behind Bojan Krkić and Josep Samitier. Read more after the jump.
São Paulo’s Douglas Pereira (24) is set to sign for Barça this weekend, making him the sixth Brazilian full back signed by the Catalan club this century. The full back position has been filled by a Brazilian ever since Juliano Belletti and Sylvinho wore the blaugrana shirts back in 2004. Remarkably, Belletti and Sylvinho were also products of the Brazilian club São Paulo. Culés around the world will never forget Belletti’s winner against Arsenal in the 2006 Champions League final in Paris. Sylvinho also featured both in the 2006 and the 2009 Champions League winning squad.
Before last season, FC Barcelona and Elche CF hadn’t played each other in nearly 25 years. But before that, they were frequent opponents for the Catalans, and not without success: Elche has beaten Barça 8 times at home, and drawn 7 out of their 20 games at Camp Nou. Read more about the history of Barcelona vs Elche encounters after the jump.
In the history of FC Barcelona there have been many important dates. Yet few people will know that today is one of the milestone dates in Barcelona’s route to becoming a fully professional club. Exactly 100 years ago, on August 12th 1914, the club appointed its first official team doctor. Read more…
On August 6, 1936, FC Barcelona president Josep Sunyol was tragically murdered by a squadron of General Francisco Franco’s rebel fascist army during the Spanish Civil War. Today marks the 78th anniversary of his tragic passing and in memory Barça’s captain will wear a black armband in tonight’s match against Napoli.
The legend of his event has grown and is often cited in the eternal Barça-Real Madrid debate, the ultimate encapsulation of good vs bad. Stories have gone so far as it being a planned assassination. Tonight’s news is actually rather interesting as many over the decades have been unimpressed with the club’s effort to keep alive his memory. Those interested in all this and a lot more should invest in Sid Lowe’s terrific Fear and Loathing in La Liga. The chapters dedicated to the Civil War and Sunyol’s fateful last day are impeccably researched and written.
The name Laureano Ruiz doesn’t get the instant recognition it should. Johan Cruyff, Pep Guardiola, even Rinus Michels register, but it can be argued the Ruiz got the primordial FC Barcelona/La Masia/tiki-taka ball rolling. Readers can get familiar with Ruiz in this previously published totalBarça piece. After the jump is an exclusive translation of a recent interview, the last carried out by Olé’s Jorge ‘Topo’ López (who passed away in an automobile accident during this summer’s World Cup) with the legendary Ruiz himself.
August is generally a month of important dates for FC Barcelona. Following the 25-year anniversary of Ronald Koeman’s debut on the first of August, August 3rd brings yet another landmark date: The debut of another Flying Dutchman, Johan Neeskens. Neeskens was one of Johan Cruyff’s most trusted teammates at Barça and made his debut some 40 years ago, on the day of the official inauguration of the José Rico Pérez stadium in Alicante. The former midfielder played the second half as his team won 4-0 against their hosts Hércules. Read more…
Today marks an important 25-year anniversary in the history of the club. August 1st is the day when one of the best ever Barcelona defenders, Ronald Koeman, made his debut with the club. The Dutchman, who has become deeply embedded in the hearts of culés thanks to his exploits with Barça, first pulled on a blaugrana kit in August 1989 during the club’s training camp in Hungary, in a friendly against amateur team VV Buitenpost. Koeman debut turned out to be a dream one: he scored 2 goals in 45 minutes in a 15-1 win. Read more…
Luis Suárez became today the fifth Golden Boot winner to sign for FC Barcelona after sharing the award with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo for the 2013/2014 season, finishing ahead of Lionel Messi, Diego Costa, and Zlatan Ibrahimović. Suárez scored 31 league goals in 33 appearances for Liverpool FC last season as the English club finished in second place in the Premier League and secured qualification for the Champions League. Hans Krankl, Hristo Stoichkov, Henrik Larsson, and Thierry Henry also joined the Catalan club after winning the prestigious award, and they did not disappoint.
Juliano Belletti, a former FC Barcelona defender and famously known for his winning goal against Arsenal FC in the 2006 Champions League final in Paris, was interviewed by the club and asked about the World Cup experience, his time at Barça, Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr. as well as the undergoing changes at the club. Belletti’s goal marked the start of the club’s European success, winning Barça’s second Champions League trophy at the time, and very few can forget that rainy Parisian night. Continue reading for the full interview.
It is almost four years ago that Andrés Iniesta made the winning goal of the 2010 World Cup. With the 2014 World Cup on the horizon, people are looking back at that historic strike and remembering how Iniesta stripped off his jersey to reveal a message written to a fallen player: “Dani Jarque: Always with us.” Jarque played with FC Espanyol and died from a heart attack suffered during pre-season training in 2009 at the age of 26.
Dani Jarque’s wife, Martina, and daughter, Jessica, have written a letter that was published in Mundo Deportivo this weekend, thanking Don Andrés and telling him just what his gesture meant to them.
Full translation of the letter after the jump.
On this day, 18 years ago, May 27th 1996, he made the unforgivable switch: Real Madrid to FC Barcelona. Over the course of history, 33 footballers have played for both clubs, but only 21 have made direct moves, and of those just three went from the capital to Catalonia. One of those three, and the last man to do so, was the new Barça boss Luis Enrique Martínez García, also known as Luis Enrique or Lucho.
Lus Enrique initially signed a five year deal, which he fulfilled then played another three seasons before leaving Barcelona and retiring from football is 2004. A decade later, he’s back.
Luis Enrique has been appointed as Barça’s first team coach after he’s served eight years playing in the Blaugrana shirt while holding the captain’s arm brand much of that period. With this announcement, the Asturian becomes the eighth Barça captain to become coach, following very familiar steps as the legendary Pep Guardiola and becoming the only two coaches to have both captained the first team and coached the B team. Check out below the list of former captains that coached the team right after the jump.
Did you know that the current managers of FC Barcelona (Luis Enrique), FC Bayern Munich (Pep Guardiola), Chelsea FC (Jose Mourinho) and Manchester United FC (Louis Van Gaal) all worked together at Barça from 1997 to 2000? A most intriguing fact indeed. During those years, the club won five trophies: one European Super Cup, two La Liga titles, one Spanish Cup and one Catalan Cup.
There is a reason being an FC Barcelona goalkeeper is a famed occupation. Sport ran a piece today with the cover “18 keepers in 20 years,” and though that claim is exaggerated, the overall theme is not. Here is the odyssey between the sticks from Andoni Zubizarreta to Marc-André ter Stegen.
FC Barcelona have announced the arrival of the team’s former player, Luis Enrique as the first team’s coach. Many have been expecting this announcement for a while, and now that it is official, what do we know about our new coach?
Enrique coached the club’s youth team, Barça B, from 2008 to 2011 and has done an exceptional job developing future Culés. Some of the players that got the chance to learn from the new Barça coach are Martín Montoya, Marc Bartra, Sergi Roberto, Jonathan Soriano (now at FC Red Bull Salzburg), and Thiago Alcântara (now at FC Bayern Munich). The team finished fifth in their group of the third division during Enrique’s first year in charge, but the team was able to clinch promotion to the Segunda División the following year.
FC Barcelona will play for the title against Atlético Madrid on Saturday in the Liga’s final match of the season, in match that will decide the title. However, this is not the first time Barça have been in such a position. Nine times in the past, the club secured the Liga in the final Matchday. Read more after the jump…
Barcelona always responds well when it comes to securing the league title in the final Matchday. The first occasion came in 1929, when Barça beat Arenas de Getxo 2-0 away from home to seal the title.
May 13th 2009 has gone down as a very important day on the Blaugrana calendar. Many culés regard it as the start point of the majesty of Pep Guardiola’s Barça. On that day, Barcelona won its first final under Guardiola, a 4-1 win against Bilbao in the Copa del Rey, and in the coming months, the club went on to make an unprecedented trophy haul including the Champions League, La Liga, the Supercopa, the European Supercup and FIFA Club World Cup. Read more after the jump…
FC Barcelona’s Andrés Iniesta and Samuel Eto’o celebrate a goal against Chelsea FC during the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg match at Stamford Bridge May 6, 2009. Iniesta‘s 93rd-minute goal sent ten-man Barcelona into the final against Manchester United FC on a night of incredible drama in London.
On this day, five years ago, Andrés Iniesta scored one of FC Barcelona most important goals ever. He said he struck it with his soul, and one can believe it. Here’s a video of that great goal, with a poorly orchestrated attempt by Barça TV to recreate it. Iniesta took the recreation about as seriously as the intention.
Five years ago today, Barça played a match that highlighted the start of a historic era for the club. That match was the 6-2 clásico in Santiago Bernabéu during Pep Guardiola’s debut season as Barça coach. A brace from both Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi, with a goal added from both defenders Gerard Piqué and Carles Puyol canceled out a mediocre Real Madrid. And a goal from Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Ramos was barely enough to match the beasts the club’s most decorated coach had created.
On this day, five years ago… we were unstoppable!
Alright, not quite on this day, but due to technical difficulties we will take some liberty. So, on this day yesterday, May 1st, 1989, both Tito Vilanova and Pep Guardiola made their FC Barcelona debuts. In a friendly celebratory match for the club’s 75th anniversary, Barça defeated CD Banyoles 6-2 and because it was leading to the Cup Winners Cup final, then-manager Johan Cruyff used a contingent of B team players to give the first team some rest. A 25-years-younger Pep started the match and was substituted at half time for his friend Tito. Despite Cruyff telling Guardiola he was “slower than [his] grandmother,” Pep would go on to legendary status for the club whereas Tito left the club soon after and played at seven clubs in his eleven year career before working as a coach, academy director and director of football at several Catalan clubs. Of course, the two would reunite many years later and together take Barça to previously unimaginable heights.