Despite coming heavily under fire since his team’s 1-0 loss to Real Valladolid over the weekend, Gerardo Martino was calm and assured in his pre-match press conference for the Champions League game against Manchester City. Barcelona welcome the Citizens to Camp Nou following a 2-0 victory in the first leg, but Martino urged the team not to become complacent despite their lead. Read on after the jump for more from the Barcelona manager.
FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has told the BBC that although the club had done nothing wrong in the Neymar Jr transfer, it has nonetheless been an embarrassing affair. The article gives a brief background to the unfolding drama, saying that ‘the club were formally accused of tax fraud in February, when a judge in Spain had ruled there was enough evidence to continue investigations into the transfer’.
Regarding the €13 million that Barça willingly paid in taxes as a ‘voluntary contribution’, Bartomeu said, “we paid because of prudence, because there is a possible different interpretation. So we want to be prudent. We don’t want to take any risks. Barça is a very well known brand name in the world and we have to take care of the club and doing this is prudent [for the] situation to keep the good image of our club. We don’t agree with the judge, of course. For us, this is an absurd and unfair situation because we did everything correctly in signing Neymar to FC Barcelona”.
The UEFA assigned referee for Wednesday’s encounter versus Manchester City is Frenchman Stephane Lannoy. He has been a UEFA referee since 2006 and has overseen 59 European club games, 19 of those in the Champions League. Lannoy is quite experienced having worked his way up from the 2008 Olympics to being part of the latest two major international tournaments in 2010 and 2012.
Lannoy has refereed three Barça matches previously, and the Spanish club were victorious each time (3-1, Stuttgart 2007; 2-0, Copenhagen 2010; 1-0, Celtic 2013). He also oversaw Manchester City’s 2-0 win against Bayern Munich in 2011.
Alexis Sanchez was nominated as the Barça representative to speak to the press on Monday after the loss to Valladolid this weekend. The Chilean was direct in acknowledging the team’s failures but also emphasized the need to look forward, with key matches against Manchester City and Real Madrid approaching. Read on to see what Alexis had to say.
FC Barcelona B left it late to score the winner in their match against SD Ponferradina, but all that counts for them are the three points. The reserves scored the only goal of the game in stoppage time, through a Sandro Ramírez penalty, yet that was just what they deserved. Eusebio Sacristán’s team was focused throughout the match, dominating proceedings, and the fact that the scoring was not opened sooner was down to the visitors’ keeper and their own wastefulness. All is well in the end though, as the B team has now climbed to 40 points and into the top ten, six points clear of the relegation zone. Read on for more.
FC Barcelona B midfielder Javi Espinosa is set to miss three weeks of action after injuring his knee in the B team’s victory against SD Ponferradina. The midfielder was stretchered off 43 minutes into the match following an awkward twist of the knee, and replaced by Adama Traoré, after he attempted to return to action following first aid. Medical tests carried out by the club have revealed that the 21-year-old has sustained a Grade 1-2 sprain to his left knee’s medial collateral ligament. Espinosa will undergo conservative treatment in the coming weeks, missing Barça B’s matches against Deportivo de la Coruña, Deportivo Alavés and SD Éibar.
Javi Espinosa has played 26 of the club’s 28 league matches this season, scoring 5 goals and setting up his team-mates for another 4.
Barcelona suffered yet another defeat this weekend, this time against Valladolid, meaning that the club’s title chances took a big blow. Many players seemed rather uninterested on the José Zorilla pitch, prompting many culés to call for wholesale changes this summer. A big squad overhaul is easier said than done though, and it doesn’t always work.
During the international break, FC Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernández (34), sat down for an interview with Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher, now a sports writer for the Daily Mail, and a longtime admirer of the diminutive midfield maestro. In it he talked about the team’s dominant era, his evolution as a player and the future.
Barça were surprised by the set up of Man City because they have players whose playing style is more like Barcelona, and thought that they would want to have more of the ball. Xavi said that they were not strictly defensive, but they weren’t going forward either.
He described Pellegrini’s teams as usually attacking, possessive of the ball, opening up the game down the wings and pressing high up, which they didn’t do in the first game. Read more from the interview after the jump.
Sergi Samper (19) was the special guest on the Barça TV show ‘Promeses,’ where he celebrated his 10-year anniversary as an FC Barcelona youth player. The Barça B midfielder looked back on his ten years as a Blaugrana, during which he has assimilated the Barça philosophy fully, which has brought him at stage at which he’s working towards his first team debut.
Samper arrived at Barça aged 6, to take part in the FCBEscola courses. Two years later, he entered the youth ranks, playing for Benjamín B. Fast forward ten years and he’s one of the most promising players at La Masia. Read Samper’s quotes from his appearance on the show after the jump.
Barcelona B play host to Ponferradina this weekend and as always, their goal will be to earn the full three points. The team now finds itself at a crucial point in the season, in a period that will determine whether going forward there is still danger of relegation. Barça B are doing quite well at the moment, being on the verge of breaking the 40-point mark. They still need some more points to guarantee safety though, as the experiences of recent years have taught us that the ‘magic’ points total that secures safety in the Liga Adelante is on average 47 points. Yet this season, with things so tight in the bottom half of the league, a team would perhaps need 50 points at minimum to feel entirely safe. Barcelona B are close, and the sooner they get those points the better.
Ponferradina will be by no means an easy obstacle to overcome though. La Ponfe beat Eusebio Sacristán’s men early in the season, and surely if Barça B take the match lightly, they will be punished. Traditionally, Barça B-Ponferradina matches are evenly matched. Last year’s matches saw both teams win at home against each other, with the blaugranas winning 1-0 in Barcelona and the team from Castile and León taking a 3-2 win at El Toralín.
Barcelona lost 1-0 to relegation-threatened Real Valladolid today, seriously damaging their title hopes in La Liga. Away matches have been a serious challenge for the Catalans in the second half of this season, and Valladolid proved no exception. Away from Camp Nou, Barça’s run of form is shocking: They have won just one of five games in 2014, kept one clean sheet in the last eight matches, and have not scored the first goal of a match since November 2013. Though one can remember that the players are human and have had a difficult week between the international travel, Carles Puyol’s announcement, and a personal tragedy to Andrés Iniesta, nonetheless there is something inexplicable about the downward spiral occurring to Tata Martino’s men. Make the jump as we try to dissect this puzzling match.
Nike has revealed its newest football boot design yet with the help of FC Barcelona’s midfielder Andrés Iniesta at the new Disseny Hub Barcelona centre. The boots have an absolutely new, unique design that, according to Iniesta, “makes your ankle much more comfortable.” The Magista, through its new extended collar, fits the player’s foot and ankle in a way that enables the player to have more control over his foot and boot. Continue reading for more details on the Magista.
Xavi Hernández gets in on the trend started by Ellen Degeneres in his publicist’s selfie.
FC Barcelona’s defender, Gerard Piqué, has been included in Gerardo ‘Tata” Martino’s match squad to face Real Valladolid after recovering from a thigh injury that kept him away for two weeks. On the other hand, José Manuel Pinto, Isaac Cuenca, Alex Song, Jordi Alba, and Jonathan dos Santos will not be travelling to Valladolid, in addition to Andrés Iniesta who will miss the game due to personal reasons.
Here is the 18-men squad: Valdés, Olazábal, Mascherano, Bartra, Alves, Adriano, Montoya, Piqué, Busquets, Sergi Roberto, Xavi, Cesc, Afellay, Alexis, Tello, Neymar Jr., Pedro, and Messi.
Andrés Iniesta has asked to be dropped from the squad list for Saturday’s match against Valladolid for “personal reasons.” According to multiple sources, the reason is that his wife, Anna, has lost the son the couple were expecting.
totalBarça sends Andrés and his family our thoughts and prayers at this difficult moment.
WILL BARÇA AT LAST SIGN A CENTERBACK?
Puyol: Zubi, I’m leaving
Zubi: Got it.
Next year I won’t be at Barça.
You’ll be without a centerback.
Do you understand?
And you’re not thinking of looking for a substitute?
A substitute for whom?
Cartoon by Caye
FC Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu and his board began an information campaign Wednesday designed to educate socios about the new Espai Barça project, which is scheduled for a referendum on April 5. The project’s main components are a renovated Camp Nou, a new Palau Blaugrana for the basketball team, and new social and commercial areas to attract more revenue for the club. In total, the Espai Barça has an estimated cost of €600 million euros and would be completed by 2021. Read on below for a summary of the proposed project, and check out more extensive videos and infographics on the club’s Spanish website.
Wednesday’s internationals friendly brought joy to many culés with Neymar’s superb hat-trick against South Africa, while it brought fear to the same people after watching Lionel Messi vomiting in the friendly against Romania. This wasn’t the first time we’ve seen an incident like this. Last year, the Argentine captain vomited in a friendly match against Bolivia. This was, however, justified with the match being played almost 13,000 feet above sea level. But that wasn’t the case on Wednesday, and like some who say that last year’s incident played a role in Messi’s injury and lack of fitness, the same fears are resurfacing as Barça approaches its most important part of the season. But the four-time Ballon d’Or winner downplayed the incident to calm his fans all over the world. “It happens to me all the time. It has happened various times with the club too. It is not anything that has not happened before.”
We all hope it’s nothing serious, Leo!