A Copa del Rey final defeat against eternal rivals Real Madrid added to Barça’s miserable week and reassured that this season will end without a trophy to add to the cabinet. After Marc Bartra equalised with a wonderful header, it was hard seeing Gareth Bale score and watch the season slip away. Read after the jump what Marc Bartra, Xavi Hernández, Andrés Iniesta and Dani Alves had to say after the match.
“It’s a really tough blow because the expectations are so great.” Gerardo Martino is correct on both fronts, particularly the latter. FC Barcelona are now their own worst enemies, having set the standard so high, it’s what too many assume to be the norm. Martino kept it short post match, but whether truthful or not, the Argentine felt his future hasn’t particularly changed. “As I have said for one, two, three months now, I don’t feel that my future has changed because of all that we lost, and nor do I think it would be different if we had won.” The part that is likely to prove true is that even if Barça had won, Martino’s future wouldn’t have been any different.
Commenting on the winning goal, Tata was annoyed because he felt “the game was going our way after we had leveled until that counterattack”, but also was impressed to see someone “sprint like that at that stage of the game.”
“Obviously this is not a good moment. It has been a hard week on all fronts.” But Tata also stressed the need for perspective, to look at the bigger picture, to trust in the fundamentals of the squad and look to build for the future.
One month remains in the season, and there is only one competition to focus on. The league isn’t over as both Madrid sides have a very real distraction in Europe. Martino has to implore the players to muster one final push and finish the season undefeated.
FC Barcelona’s title hopes for this season have faded away after a painful 1-2 loss against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey’s final. The loss came after a shocking league defeat against Granada CF and a goodbye to the Champions League following another loss against Atlético Madrid, and tonight the losing streak has gone up to three. Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino was disappointed after losing the title to our bitter rivals, but insisted the team must keep on moving forward. “It’s a very difficult blow because of our expectations. We wanted to win, but what I’m taking away from this match is the team’s intention. We must continue forward and keep on fighting for the league,” he said. More after the jump.
Barça’s legendary former player and coach has come out in defense of Lionel Messi, following criticism that has labelled the Argentine ”disinterested.” The Dutchman labelled that criticism as ‘nonsense’ and said that Barça has gone for years without a coherent plan and ‘bad influences from outside the dressing room’ in an interview with Croatian daily Jutarnji List. Make the jump for a few choice excerpts.
Goalkeeper José Manuel Pinto did an extensive interview with El Pais this week. Pinto is many things. Besides being a goalkeeper, he is a music producer and somewhat of a philosopher. He meditates, practices yoga breathing exercises and has a very positive view about football and life in general. Read on for an excerpt of his thoughts about today’s Copa del Rey final.
World Cup winner Andrés Iniesta spoke in Tuesday’s pre-match press conference ahead of Wednesday’s Copa del Rey final against eternal rivals Real Madrid. A horror week in the Catalan club caused an earlier than usual UEFA Champions League exit at the hands of Atlético Madrid, followed by a disappointing away loss against Granada CF which lost Barça’s grip on the league title chase.
But now the team is solely focused on bouncing back by beating Real Madrid for the third time this season in the very same stadium where they lost in 2011. Iniesta reassured the fans that “The team is able to play well and win.” He also added, “It would be a huge joy for our supporters. We only have thoughts of winning the trophy.” More from Don Andrés after the jump.
FC Barcelona’s Sporting Director Andoni Zubizarreta spoke to Catalan station TV3 about matters concerning the team. A loss at Vicente Calderón in Madrid and another at the Estadio Nuevo Los Cármenes last week created some “crisis” talk around the club. Suggestions behind Lionel Messi’s lack of play along with rumours surrounding Gerardo Martino’s exit by the end of the season were all denied by the former goalkeeper, who clearly stated that both Argentines deserve merit on their hard work. He also admitted that as a Sporting Director, last match highlighted his “worst moment” at the job. More from Zubizarreta after the jump.
He may be injured, he can’t even play but Capità still knows how to make culés proud. This afternoon Carles Puyol went in front of the media to basically try and straighten out the narrative, to try and regain some perspective in this myopic world of sport. Below is only a brief summary of what was said in his statement as well as the barrage of question, but basically Puyol said it’s no time to point fingers, that the team is always trying its best and have been for quite a few years now. He also defended Lionel Messi unscrupulously and had to explain that it’s impossible to always win. It was additionally a rallying of the troops, to try and get everyone on board with the final push.
In an interview with Time magazine, Edson Arantes do Nascimento “Pelé” was asked which club would he choose to play for today. The Brazilian legend who played for Santos for 18 years and then signed for the New York Cosmos at the end of his footballing career, said that he would undoubtedly return to his beloved Santos FC once again. Nevertheless, if he had to choose from today’s modern teams, he’d pick the Catalans. “If you were to ask me about teams from now, from modern football, I could name two or three teams, but at this moment, I would say FC Barcelona. It’s same style that Santos used to play.” More after the jump.
Another day and another loss. Gerardo Martino’s players have disappointed the fans once more in this roller coaster season after a loss at Granada that gave up Barça’s grip on the league chase. But who’s to blame? The board? The players? Martino? Well, Javier Mascherano chose to steal Cristiano Ronaldo’s creative excuse instead, “The ball didn’t want to go in, but we can’t make excuses. I think we created chances to score, but football can be like this.” More from the Argentine along with post-match comments from Andrés Iniesta and Martin Montoya after the jump!
Hurting but not defeated was the message from Gerardo Martino going into today’s match against Granada. “It is impossible for a team to be fully over an elimination like that in so little time. You cannot be in top spirits just by magic. Nobody is in the best of moods, but there is no time for lamentations. There is no time for crying about things, although some defeats are very painful. We have to get straight back to thinking about the league. A win against Granada would allow us to move on a bit from the result in the Champions League.” More after the jump.
Dutch legend Johan Cruyff heavily criticised Barça’s board of directors in the wake of the Champions League exit at the hands of Atlético Madrid. He highlighted that the coach should not be blamed because of his limited ability to make decisions. “You can’t fault him [Tata] because he is doing what he can. But it’s really hard to manage a team if no one lets you”. More from the Barça legend after the jump.
After experiencing the club’s first exit in seven years before reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League, the players faces said it all: heartbreak and disappointment. But one thing was in common between the players, the coach, the staff, and the fans: They all acknowledged Atlético Madrid’s performance and congratulated them. Take a look at what Dani Alves, Jordi Alba, Andrés Iniesta, Xavi Hernandéz, Javier Mascherano and Marc Bartra had to say in the post-match reactions right after the jump.
Out of the Champions League, Barça only have themselves to blame after exit to Atlético Madrid. And for the first time in seven years, that exit occurred before the Catalan team reached the semi-finals stage of the competition. Barça boss Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino spoke after the match where he stated that his player “were brave. We were brave in that we tried to play like Barça have for the past decade. Playing like this is brave.” More from the Argentine’s post-match press conference right after the jump.
FC Barcelona’s Gerardo Martino spoke on the eve of Champions League quarter-final clash with Atlético Madrid that will be played in Madrid tonight. Speaking about the team’s chance to qualify for the semi-finals, Martino underlined, “I don’t like to predict what the result might be. What we need to do is to play better than Atlético and to win the game. These teams know each other very well, and they play with completely different styles. All I know is that Barcelona haven’t gone ahead in any of the meetings this season.” Asked about possible tactical approaches, the manager said, ”we need to see if we can do that and to try to control the match. Atlético are not the type of team who will allow us to control the game for the entire 90 minutes, but we’ll try to do that as it is how we like to play.” He also strongly stated that Barça’s objective is very clear, “is to qualify for the semi-finals in 90 minutes. The prize is progressing to the semi-finals of the Champions League.”
Xavi Hernández spoke to the media in a press conference ahead of Wednesday’s quarter final Champions League clash against Atlético Madrid, and explained how the team is only focused on going to win. “We would like to have got a more favourable result,” Xavi said. “A 1-1 draw is not so good, but we will go there full of motivation and spirit to go and win the game. We are a team made to attack and score goals, and are up against a team which is just the opposite. We must try and get ahead on the scoreboard. We have not done that in any of the four games. We would see then how they react. That could be key to the game.” More from Barça’s most capped player ever after the jump.
FC Barcelona midfielder Andrés Iniesta in an interview with Sport published today shared his opinion about tomorrow’s game against Atlético Madrid, as well as thoughts on La Masia and his 500th game in the blaugrana jersey. “The road to semifinals leads through a perfect match. We know that we will play against a very tough opponent, we experienced it in every game we played against them. We have to score a goal and be very concentrated,” said Iniesta. He also underlined that team “comes with the confidence to play a great game , to win the tie and with the hope of qualifying to the semifinals. We know it will be difficult, but the team is able to do so.”
After Saturday’s league game against Real Betis, José Manuel Pinto was the guest on Barça TV’s ‘El Mercador’ where he spoke about the team’s performances and the matches they have coming up. “The feeling is that in the first half we were better than in the second. Maybe we suffered after the physical effort in the Champions League, or maybe Betis were just better in the second half”.
“We’re in the final stretch,” said the goalkeeper, “and every game is vital. Really important. There is little room for error and we have to fight right to the last game.” More from the 38-year old after the jump.
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.
Eusebio Sacristán was this week’s guest on Barça TV’s show ‘ADN Barça.’ The Barcelona B coach said that the his team’s season is “very positive, the Segunda División is very well balanced, and we are doing things well… Barça B’s objective is to finish first, that is the team mentality, that we have to persevere until the very final minute in order to get the best possible result,” added the coach. Read the full translation of the interview after the jump.
“LA MASIA NO ES TOCA” read the unmissable flag prior to the Real Betis match kick-off. This bold and brazen move by the club was unmistakably both a message to the fans as well as to a certain footballing institution. Thursday’s blockbuster press conference saw president Josep Maria Bartomeu follow two main narratives: The dark forces and the club’s immense displeasure with FIFA for attacking the practices of La Masia. “La Masia is not to be touched. It is a model that made us world leaders in football for the last ten years.”
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.”
Much has been going on lately at the club, both on and off the pitch, and now is not the time to lose focus. FC Barcelona will face Real Betis tomorrow in La Liga, a game that may seem easy to some, but Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino looks to have learned from Real Valladolid’s lesson. “We can’t take Betis lightly. They have great players who play with heart and courage, and will fight until the last minute. We have to understand that they are suffering and that they’ll try to recover against us,” he said. Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid will face Villarreal CF and Real Sociedad respectively in this upcoming round, which means that a win against Real Betis may prove to be as important as ever. “Our whole focus is on Betis. It is the most important game and one that could allow us to stay alive in La Liga.” More after the jump.
The world of football was shocked when FIFA’s disciplinary commission sanctioned Barça with a ban embargoing them from making any transfers for two consecutive transfer windows for breaches related to the international transfer and registration of players under the age of 18. Culés all over the world were left lost wondering whether the ban will prevent the ‘supposedly already closed’ signings of German goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen and the Croatian youngster Alen Halilovic. I’m not going to lie guys, I’m as lost as you are. Read on after the jump!