It took 81 minutes, but Barcelona finally managed to break down a stubborn Villarreal side at El Madrigal last night. On the one hand, it was a familiar sight: the home team defending deep and compact, launching counterattacks into open space behind Barça’s high line. But the Barcelona side that met Villarreal on the pitch today was distinctly unlike anything seen in the last two seasons. They created numerous chances against an excellent defensive side, looking relatively composed and solid at the back, before a youth player and out-and-out striker managed to net the game-winner. All new, all exciting.
Last season proved to be the best ever in terms of successes for La Masia, but that success has also brought serious changes. The governing duo of Guillermo Amor and Albert Puig has been replaced by Jordi Roura and Aureli Altimira. Former midfielder Amor, who was a member of Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team in the 1990s, has elected to pursue a career in Australian football, where he has taken over as sporting director at top flight side Adelaide United. Read more after the jump…
An international break is coming up, and that is something that almost always means lots of absences for Barcelona. This time round, 13 first team players have been called up by their national sides. Sergio Busquets, Andrés Iniesta, Jordi Alba, Pedro Rodríguez and Marc Bartra are all off to play for Spain, while Neymar Jr. (Brazil), Javier Mascherano, Lionel Messi (Argentina), Claudio Bravo (Chile), Ivan Rakitić (Croatia), Rafinha Alcantara (Brazil U-21), Sergi Roberto and Munir El Haddadi (Spain U-21) have also been called up for international duty. Make the jump for a list of all the games involving Barça’s players in the upcoming international break…
After a making significant improvement on last week’s average performance in Pamplona, Barcelona B was able to take its first win of the season with a 3-1 win against the fellow Catalans of Sabadell. It was a very eventful night at Barcelona’s Miniestadi, as Sabadell went ahead, were then reduced to ten players, Barça B managed to win two penalties but converted just one, and finally Dongou turned the game on its head for the hosts. Definitely an enjoyable showing from Eusebio’s men, that leaves a lot of promise for the long season ahead.
A company called Traffic sits front and center in suspicions around the transfer of Douglas. It was the same company which facilitated FC Barcelona’s acquisitions of Keirrison and Henrique, players who effectively ended up never playing for the club. Vice-president Jordi Mestre however rebukes any ideas of shady dealings regarding Douglas. “You cannot compare this operation to those ones [Keirrison and Henrique]. Our coaches asked us for this player and the economical amounts are very different.” He further explained that Traffic was simply acting as Douglas’ agents and “were absolutely no hindrance“, and that the economic of the deal were exclusively between Barcelona and São Paolo.
“I WANT TO WIN IT ALL”
BARTOMEU ASSURES SPORT THAT HE’S NOT CONTENT WITH ONE TITLE
“We signed Luis Enrique to be competitive and to achieve excellence”
“The team had the greatest renovation since the Hesperia mutiny”
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“As soon as I saw this shirt I realised how much I am going to have to do here,” said Barça’s newest signing, Douglas Pereira, who will wear the number 16, which used to belong to Barça’s current fourth captain, Sergio Busquets. The Brazilian full back gave his first press conference on Friday as he was being presented to the media. “I am very happy to be here in Barcelona to represent Barça,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to training with my new team-mates … Since I’ve been here it’s all been on a different level: The city, the club, the stadium…” More from Barça’s seventh signing this summer, right after the jump.
Barcelona B didn’t get off to the best of starts in the Liga Adelante last week, as a lacklustre performance in Pamplona against promotion contenders Osasuna condemned the blaugrana reserves to a 2-0 defeat. However, the season is still in its early stages, and there will be many chances to bounce back, this weekend’s Catalan derby against CE Sabadell being one. The new-look Barça B side will take on their Catalan neighbours in the first match of the season before their own fans, and will hope to show that last season’s exploits aren’t out of reach for the new crop of players.
Barcelona play Villarreal away this weekend at the Yellow Submarine’s famous home stadium, El Madrigal. However, in recent years Barcelona have been nearly as comfortable at El Madrigal as at home, having not lost a game there since 2007. Their last six visits have yielded two 0-0 draws and four wins for the Catalans, including a whopping 1-4 victory in 2010. Last season’s 2-3 win was a tight game, but Luis Enrique’s side will look to dispatch the game early on Sunday.
It’s this time of the year again, and after their humiliating exit from the previous World Cup in Brazil, Vicente del Bosque wants to get his team back on track to its winning days. Spain will face France in a friendly game and Macedonia in the first qualifying game for the 2016 European Championship. The boss called up Andrés Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, Pedro Rodríguez and debutant Marc Bartra from the Catalan club. According to Vicente Del Bosque, Gerard Piqué was not called up because he still has some “discomfort” and is not yet “fully fit.”
Barcelona B trio Fabrice Ondoa (18), Macky Frank Bagnack (19) and Jean Marie Dongou (19) have been included in the 25-man squad announced by Cameroon’s national coach Volker Finke for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, against the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Ivory Coast, next month. Alex Song has been left out, as he remains suspended following his sending off in Cameroon’s second group match against Croatia at the FIFA World Cup in June.
Moments ago, FC Barcelona’s 2014/15 group stage challengers were made official. From the scary pot 2, Barça were joined by Paris Saint-Germaine (PSG), a significantly strong opponent with a certain familiar face. For the second year running, Ajax came out of Pot 3, while Cypriot club APOEL Nicosia from pot 4 completed Group F.
Javier Mascherano, who joined FC Barcelona in 2010, has extended his contract on Tuesday after signing a four-year deal which will end in 2018. The contract has a buy-out clause of €100 million with an option to extend a further year. Barça’s official website also reported that the deal was negotiated and agreed to before the World Cup, where Javier Mascherano proved his worth with his memorable heroics for Argentina.
“I’m committed to this club until the final day of the contract.” said the 30-year-old.“I hope I can live up to expectations of the club. I’m really happy to be in this great club and be part of a squad with such great players. Let’s hope things go really well for us this season. We’re looking forward to this season after some difficult times last campaign.”
According to the official website, FC Barcelona and São Paulo FC have reached an initial agreement for the transfer of the Brazilian right back Douglas Pereira. The deal should cost €4 million with another €1.5 million performance variables. The 24-year-old will fly to Barcelona by the end of the week for a medical before signing a five year long contract with the Catalan club.
Over the weekend, Josep Maria Bartomeu for the first time since the FIFA ban surfaced acknowledged a proportion of guilt. “We were aware that FIFA would ratify its sanction. In the past, we have committed certain irregularities — but always respecting the spirit of the regulation. It was highly unlikely that the tribunal would not ratify a sanction that had already been imposed. It was only to be expected… but the penalty is far too big. We knew that we’d end up going to the CAS, and now that time has come.”
As many have suspected, the summer mega splurge, with possibly more to come, was in anticipated of the two window ban. “We knew that we might not be able to make signings in the next two transfer windows and that at the same time there was a pressing need to renew the squad.”
Yesterday the board, technical staff and coaching staff had a joined meeting to discuss the happenings at the club before the board then alone held a meeting and released the following official statement:
Last week, the second official FC Barcelona football school opened in Brazil. After Rio de Janeiro a year ago, Barça announced the launch of activities at their Sau Paulo school with around 400 new students of both the male and female genders.
Different trials for young footballers from Sao Paulo and surrounding areas took place and only 400 footballers from the initial 1,000 that tried out were selected to be educated the Barça football philosophy from the start. However, the club admitted a new admission procedure will be started soon.