Luis Enrique’s coaching spell at FC Barcelona kicked off with a narrow win over Recreativo de Huelva thanks to a goal from Joan Román. Enrique introduced all 23 players that were called up for the club’s first friendly game as the players start their journey towards regaining full match fitness. The game was far from entertaining, but the time will come when fans expect beautiful football and it is not now. The squad was mainly made up of Barça B players who will aim to impress Enrique for a shot at joining the first team.
It was a bittersweet victory for Brazil after their celebrations were ruined by Neymar Jr’s injury. The hosts clinched a 2-1 win against Colombia, with Thiago Silva, David Luiz, and James Rodríguez claiming the goals. And now, Brazil will face Germany in the 2014 World Cup’s semifinal, but without their star man. Neymar was stretched off in the closing minutes with a fractured vertebrae and is out for at least four weeks, and they’ll have to survive without him.
In one of the most exciting matches of the 2014 World Cup so far, Lionel Messi was able to inspire Argentina into a third straight win after defeating Nigeria with three goals to two. Argentina finish on top of Group F and await Group E’s runner up. Goals came from Messi (2) and Marcos Rojo for Argentina, while Ahmed Musa (2) scored for Nigeria. Continue reading for more details.
Croatia was unceremoniously chucked out of the World Cup by an excellent Mexican display, losing 3-1. El Tri weren’t as gung ho as usual, showing a tactical versatility and discipline to their game. Ivan Rakitić and the rest of his teammates didn’t have much of a game. On the positive side, he delivered the assist for Ivan Persić’s late goal, but on the negative side he was deservedly yellow-carded for a nasty high tackle. Other than that Rakitić did nothing of note, as he and midfield partner Luka Modrić were left isolated and unable to conjure anything. The Mexicans did a superb job of disconnecting Croatia’s playmaker from the wingers and Mario Mandzukić upfront. At least the new signing will now have some time to kick his feet up and rest for what will be the most demanding chapter of his professional career when he begins at Camp Nou.
Spain finally put points on the board with a 3-0 victory over Australia. The goals came from David Villa, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata in a game La Roja dominated quite comfortably. It’s false logic to conclude that had Vicente del Bosque used this line-up or any other against The Netherlands or Chile things would be different. Those are unknowable answers not worth wasting time pondering. Rather, Spain thrived in a match against a proactive opponent composed of the worst collection of individuals in the group. One can call it naivety or bravery from Australia, either way Spain will look better against any side that decides to take the game to them rather than sit back in numbers and counter-attack.
Brazil were able to stay on top of Group A of the 2014 World Cup after defeating a weak Cameroonian side with four to goals to one. Goals came from Neymar Jr. (2), Fred, and Fernandinho. Brazil will now face Alexis Sánchez’ Chile, who finished second in Group B, in the round of sixteen. Neymar was subbed off after 70 minutes while Dani Alves played the entire game. Continue reading for more details.
FC Barcelona have confirmed another pre-season friendly. The match on July 19th, just five days after the squad is required to report back to training, will see Barça take on Recreativo de Heulva for the Colombino Trophy at 22:00 local time. The game is part of Recreativo’s 125th anniversary celebration.
Seeing as Spain are already out of the World Cup, it’s likely now that Spanish first team players will be back to training already, though players involved with national teams that go deeper into the tournament are unlikely to be involved in this match.
I began writing this as soon as Chile took the lead, but in truth I could have started it earlier. The end of Spain’s incredible tournament three-peat came crashing down with a dreadful performance, losing to Chile 2-0 in Rio de Janeiro. The Spaniard’s faces were filled with anxiety, devoid of belief and poise. They passed the ball as if they were introduced to it this morning. Spain’s special era had to end, but it feels ugly in this fashion.
In a goalless yet entertaining game, Brazil were held to a draw in their second 2014 World Cup game against the always difficult Mexico. Both teams failed to capitalize on their chances throughout the 90 minutes. The result keeps Brazil on top of Group A with four points, with Mexico on their tail with four points as well. FC Barcelona’s Neymar Jr. and Dani Alves played the entire game. Continue reading for more details.
The annual Joan Gamper Trophy match is set for August 18th against Mexican club Léon de Guanjuato. Léon is the club of former Barça man Rafa Márquez, who just captained Mexico for record setting fourth consecutive World Cup. Mexico follow the non-straightforward league format familiar in South America, so Léon are the reigning champions of Mexcio’s 2014 closing championship and 2013′s opening championship.
The evening will additionally be utilized to stage testimonials for Carles Puyol and Víctor Valdés.
Group F was meant to be an easier challenge for Messi and company, but as Argentina launched its campaign against World Cup debutants Bosnia and Herzegovina, the match was much harder than expected in the Maracanã stadium. Despite an own goal by Bosnia’s Sead Kolisinac, the Europeans were in control in the first half as Argentina’s midfield was left wandering and lost. But with some brilliant shuffling by coach Alejandro Sabella, the second half told a very different story for the South Americans with their captain Lionel Messi the star of the show. More details after the jump.
The long-anticipated 2014 World Cup in Brazil finally kicked off today with an entertaining and somewhat controversial game between the hosts and Croatia. FC Barcelona’s Neymar Jr. and Dani Alves were selected to start the game against their European opponents and were able to lead their national team to a decent victory on route to a 6th World Cup trophy. Neymar (2) and Chelsea FC’s Oscar scored for Brazil, while Real Madrid’s Marcelo scored an own goal as the game reached full time with a scoreline of 3-1. More details on how Barça’s boys performed after the jump.
Barcelona B finished their season on a high, taking a narrow 2-1 win away to Hércules CF yesterday. Eusebio’s team had a very different face on the pitch, went into the break with a two goal lead, with the home side pulling one back in the second half, but not being able to land an equaliser. With this win, Barça B managed to finish the season in 3rd place with 66 points, which is the joint best finish of the team in the second division, along with the third place finish in 2010-11. Read on for details.
A long season has finally come to an end. Barcelona B play their final Liga Adelante match of the 42-match season away to Hércules and will look to end a strange season in the best possible way. The reserves even flirted with relegation before the turn of the year, but 2014 injected new life into Eusebio’s players, who finally realised their potential in the second half and slotted right in between the very best teams of the division. 3rd place is exactly what these players deserve, and a win against Hércules would be the perfect finish to a season that has proved that these youngsters have endless reserves of perseverance. Read more…
Eusebio Sacristán said in his pre-match comments that he would like for his team to say goodbye to the fans at the Miniestadi with some real spectacle in the season’s last home match. The reserves obeyed their coach’s orders to the very last syllable as the 2000 spectators at the Miniestadi were treated to a match that was perhaps the most exciting in the whole league season to date. The Blaugranas fell two goals behind their visitors in the first half, but managed to turn things around in the second half, through a brace scored by Edu Bedia and another one by Dongou. Yet the game held more for the fans, as Dongou saw red with 10 minutes to play, with Alcorcón snatching the opportunity to equalize and look for the winner. Yet David Babunski proved to be the joker for the hosts, netting the winner with just seconds to play, and signing off a really jaw-dropping scoreline of 4-3.
A long season in the Liga Adelante is finally coming to an end, and FC Barcelona B, who will play this season’s last game at home this weekend, want to finish in style. The reserves managed to come out from a tricky period in the final months of 2013, and with the start of 2014, finally realized their potential and came up with a string of impressive performances that have put them at the very top of the league standards. Eusebio’s group came within touching distance from surpassing the points record set by Luis Enrique’s Barça B back in 2011, but two defeats in their last 3 matches, have put them off track. They can now relax and look forward to their holidays, as all their goals have been achieved. First though, finishing the season on a high, starting with today’s game against AD Alcorcón, won’t do any harm. Read on for more…
Barcelona B fell to a single goal at El Molinón on Saturday, failing to beat a determined Sporting Gijón. The Blaugranas conceded midway the first half, and used the remaining time to search for an equalizer. Yet they were unable to break down the resilient home backline, which was undoubtedly, despite of all the absences in the team, the highlight for the hosts. Barcelona B suffered its second consecutive away defeat, but they are still in the upper reaches of the league standards, waiting to see what their final position will be after this weekend, depending on Sunday’s results. Read more…
Looking at Barcelona B’s current stats, one might be tempted to say that the reserves have nothing to play for in the 3 remaining matches in the Liga Adelante. However, the truth is that Eusebio’s team couldn’t have been given a greater motivation. They are currently well placed to be the best reserve team in the history of Spanish football. Barça B sit 3rd on the league table, with 60 points. That means they won’t be able to beat the points record of 71, set by Luis Enrique’s Barça B back in 2010-11, but they could still finish higher than that team and achieve the best ever finish by a reserve team in the professional divisions of Spain. The feat looks quite achievable, with Barça B having to play against Sporting Gijón, Alcorcón, and Hércules in their last three matches. Read more after the jump.
Espanyol accused FC Barcelona during the week of not showing the Copa Catalunya respect by using Barça B instead of the first team. A tad rich given the side they fielded last night as well. In any case, FC Barcelona’s B side gave as much as they got versus Espanyol and won the cup on penalties after a 0-0 full time score.
Barça keeper Ortolà saved the first penalty to take an immediate advantage and then ended up saving Espanyol’s third and fifth. Patric and Kaptoum netted Barça’s first and second, but the cup was put in doubt with misses by Denis Suárez and Grimaldo. The man of the moment in the youth ranks, Munir El Haddadi, stepped up and netted the fifth penalty, winning Barça’s eighth Copa Catalunya.
Tonight at 21:30 local time in Girona FC Barcelona take on Espanyol in the 2013/4 Copa Catalunya final. Unsurprisingly, this is the same final as the year before.
There won’t be any first team players taking part this evening, with most of them beginning World Cup preparations. In any case, this tournament is used as a testing group for the B team who make up the majority of the selected squad: Masip, Ortolá, S. Gómez, Patric, Ilie, J. Espinosa, Grimaldo, Babunski, M. Bagnack, Samper, Denis Suárez, D. Nieto, Lucas, Adama, Sandro, Munir, Roger Riera, Kaptoum.
FC Barcelona B managed to return to winning ways this weekend, after two consecutive defeats, with a commanding 4-0 victory over Real Murcia at the Mini Estadi. The final scoreline does not fully reflect on the how the match went on, as both teams created, and missed many opportunities. What finally set the teams apart was the hosts’ deadly finishing in front of goal, which saw them go into halftime with a three goal lead, with the goals scored by Munir El Haddadi, Jean-Marie Dongou and Edu Bedia. Adama Traoré added a fourth in the second half to complete the triumph for Barcelona B, who now climb up to third place with 60 points. They now await today’s results to find out where they’ll find themselves at the end of the weekend. Read more after the jump.
You’ve had your chance to rate the performance of the Blaugrana and the results are now tallied up. Take a look at how the totalBarça community ranked the squad and see how the ratings played out.
Image: David Ramos, Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com
In many ways, Barcelona versus Atlético has been the defining match of this season. An astonishingly well-organized and defensive team highlighting both the coaching and tactical weaknesses that have come to plague Barcelona, Atlético have marked Barcelona’s downfall with their own ascendancy. With their incredible discipline, teamwork, and fanatical adherence to a single playing philosophy, Atlético Madrid echo the ethos of Guardiola’s Barça, if not the aesthetics, and the current blaugrana team have been unable to overcome this ferocious discipline in six games. In many ways, Saturday’s Liga finale was a microcosm for their experiences this entire season. Barcelona started strong and faded sharply in the second half; the most-maligned players on the field (Javier Mascherano, Gerard Piqué, Dani Alves) were some of the game’s best performers; a key injury turned the game for them, while Lionel Messi never seemed to get out of first gear. All familiar sights to the average cule, but ones that deserve further dissection today.