Ernesto Valverde’s Athletic Bilbao will prove a test for FC Barcelona at Camp Nou. Despite defeating the Basque team in Catalonia 68% of the time historically, including their last nine visits, Valverde’s Bilbao are undefeated on the road in 96 days, stretching back to January 5th. Since then they have won at Osasuna, Betis and Levante, while drawing in Celta, Valencia and Elche. The key? Defense. In these last seven away trips, Bilbao have conceded only four goals.
Injuries, legal headache, apparently unhappy, reportedly [irresponsibly] wanting more money, looking ahead to the World Cup and whatever truths and lies are circulating, Lionel Messi has scored 38 goals in 41 appearances this year. A few assists too, 13 if we’re being accurate. What a rotten season huh?
Marc Bartra, the player who gave FC Barcelona fans a reason to smile yesterday, has now taken part in 50 games with the club’s first team. Yesterday’s was his first clásico and Spanish Cup final, where he managed to restore hope for a short period of time with a towering header from a corner to bring things level against Real Madrid. Unfortunately, the promising youngster was injured while attempting to catch up with the incredibly fast Gareth Bale, as he explained later: “I got cramp and hurt my hamstring.” Bartra won 12 balls, completed 31 out of 36 passes, shot twice at goal, cleared 15 balls, and played 87 minutes.
Bartra has so far played 16 games in La Liga, 4 in the Champions League, and 6 in the Copa del Rey, totaling 26 games out of a possible 50. The future looks bright for our young Spanish defender. Will he be given the chance to shine?
When it comes to statistics, yesterday’s game against Granada CF was probably FC Barcelona’s best in terms of domination yet the team failed to score. Barça attempted 33 crosses, their record in a league game this season, but there was no one to convert or make use of them which brings up a common question. Why not sign a classic #9 striker if crosses have become such an essential part of our game?
No goals midweek at Vicente Calderón, no goals yesterday evening at Granada. This is the first time since Pep Guardiola’s second and third official games in charge (2008/9) that FC Barcelona have failed to score in consecutive matches, spanning 2,050 days. Guardiola lost 1-0 to Wisla Krakow in the Champions League qualifier return leg (after essentially securing victory in Spain) and then lost his first La Liga match 1-0 at Numania. History knows how that season ended, how will this?
Additionally, defeat yesterday brings Gerardo Martino’s total league losses to five. That’s the same figure Barça have experienced in the last two league seasons combined. Pep Guardiola lost three (1-0 Getafe, 3-2 Osasuna, 1-2 Real Madrid) in his final campaign (2011/12), whereas Tito Vilanova lost just two (Real Sociedad 3-2, Real Madrid 2-1) in 2012/13.
He was told to not actively participate in the game, and that translated to Lionel Messi running just 6.8 kilometers. That’s 1.5 kilometers more than José Manuel Pinto and just 56% of the amount Atlético’s Koke put in.
Twice with Celta Vigo, thrice with FC Barcelona, José Manuel Pinto has always won at the Vicente Calderón. Pinto kept a clean sheet in a 0-3 win with Celta in 2005/6 and the very next year was victorious again (2-3) despite conceding a pair of goals. With Barça, Pinto has tasted a 1-3 win in the Copa del Rey quarter final in 2008/9 and also kept goal for a 1-2 league victory in 2012/13. The fifth victory was technically at the Calderón, but was against Atletic Bilbao in the 2011/12 Copa el Rey final (a 3-0 victory). Here’s to hoping Pinto can extend this record to 6 for 6.
No club has fallen victim to more Leo Messi goals than Atlético Madrid, with 20 goals in 19 games. However, that was pre-Diego Simeone Atletí; it’s quite a different story now. Simeone lost his first three matches to Barça after taking over as manager on December 23rd 2011: 1-2 at Vicente Calderón (2011/12), 4-1 at Camp Nou (2012/13) and 1-2 at the Calderón (2012/13). Messi scored one goal in the first victory and two in the second. And since then, El Cholo has devised both some anti-Messi and anti-Barça voodoo. Barcelona have now failed to defeat los rojiblancos in the last four matches, and Messi hasn’t scored since December 16th, 2012, covering 452 minutes.
The last ten meetings between FC Barcelona and Real Betis at Camp Nou have witnessed 44 goals, a 4.4 goals per game ratio. Real Betis have failed to defeat the Catalan club at their home ground in all of those games, with Barça winning eight and drawing twice. The team also managed to score three or more goals in eight of these games, while Betis found the net in only seven. Things are looking good also in the sense that Gerardo Martino’s men are the league’s strongest attacking force, scoring 89 goals, and will now face the team with the second most goals conceded, 61.
Gerardo Martino didn’t get the “W” versus Atlético Madrid, and thereby did not genuinely best Pep Guardiola’s first 50 games in charge. Tata’s half-century reads 37 wins, eight draws and five defeats, scoring 136 and conceding 37. Guardiola has the exact same game record, but his 2008/9 side scored 133 and conceded 42.
Tonight versus Atlético Madrid, Gerardo Martino reaches 50 games in charge of FC Barcelona. Despite all the many pages of criticism and debates about style and its abandonment, if the side win the game for Tata, he will have a half-century of matches statistically superior to Pep Guardiola, even if by only a hair.
Thus far Martino’s record reads played 49, won 37 (75.5%), drawn seven (14.3%) and lost five (10.2%). That has been done with 135 goals scored and 36 conceded. Guardiola’s first 49 read exactly the same, but with three less goals scored (132) and five more conceded (41). The only manager in Barça’s illustrious history with a better record after 50 games is the late, great and controversial Helenio Herrera, who after his first 50 could boast 40 wins, five draws and five defeats.
As if the Cornellà voodoo isn’t odd enough, Lionel Messi can today also vanquish another meaningless yet curious statistic. In the three matches Messi has played at the early 16:00 time slot, Leo is zero for three.
The first occasion occurred on March 2, 2013, when despite Messi scoring, Barça lost to Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu 2-1. It happened next this season in the 2-3 defeat against Valencia in Camp Nou, when again Messi scored. The third time was just three weeks ago, in the pitiful 1-0 defeat to Real Valladolid.
It is now certain that José Manuel Pinto is FC Barcelona’s first choice goalkeeper after Víctor Valdés’ injury will see him sidelined for the next six months. The injury has forced Barcelona manager Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino to announce the club will not seek an emergency loan for another goalkeeper.
But does the Andalucian-born keeper have what it takes to fill the big gloves left by Valdés? Or is he too rusty and beyond his prime to be trusted for the final push for the treble?
After Barça’s great triumph at the Bernabéu, calling a winner in La Liga has once again become overly complicated. The Blaugrana is in fact right back into the title mixer, alongside the two Madrid clubs. This weekend, the Primera División has got a new leader, with Atlético Madrid now leading thanks to a superior head-to-head comparison with Real Madrid after their 0-2 win at the Benito Villamarín against a struggling Betis, having won their away match and drawn the home match against the Blancos. The rojiblancos are level on 70 points with Real Madrid, and both clubs will surely feel Barça’s hot breath very strongly, with the Tata Martino’s team just a point behind on 69. What will determine the winner now are the final nine matches.
From this point, it is ‘a game of error’ as Tata called it; this is where all gets exciting. With nine matches left to play, any error will cost dearly. Needless to say, Barça has absolutely no margin for error at all. The Blaugranas are the only ones in the title race not holding their fate in their own hands. From now on each game will be a final; the only options being win or win.
With yesterday’s win, FC Barcelona defender Dani Alves (30) has taken his win tally against Real Madrid up to 20 games (12 with Barça and 8 with Sevilla), becoming the player with most wins in history against our rivals. So, what do we love most about our Brazilian right back? His dancing skills? His attacking football? His provocative comments (that, in my opinion, show only love and dedication towards the club)? Or the fact that Real Madrid players probably suffer from nightmares before the game and pray the Brazilian isn’t in the starting lineup? I choose the nightmares part.
Source: @pedritonumeros – Twitter
Sunday’s El Clásico was a memorable day for culés, the players and most of all for Lionel Messi. Already breaking a triple record that night, Leo reached another milestone after he surpassed Hugo Sánchez’s position in the all-time goal scorers in La Liga chart, and became second with 236 goals with only one man left to beat: Telmo Zarra. It’s true that Messi has now become La Liga’s all-time foreign goalscorer, but that’s still not enough for the little beast as he now needs 16 more goals to surpass the Basque player whose record currently stands at 251. And it’s clear that Messi will reach it. Just last week, the Argentinean surpassed Raúl (228) and Di Stéfano (227). Only question now is, will he break it this season?
16 goals in 9 matches… Challenge accepted?
Nail-biting, exciting, frightening and jaw-dropping. This is how every culé would describe this historically intense match. But one man starred in it, one man reassured the world that he still is, and always will be the best. That man was Lionel Messi. The four-time Ballon d’Or winner didn’t only score a hat-trick that night, but he also broke a hat-trick of records. Yes, three!
Lionel Messi first broke Alfredo Di Stefano’s long-standing record and became El Clásico’s all-time goalscorer with 21 goals so far. Not only that, with Iniesta’s opener Messi also became El Clásico’s all time assist leader with 12. And finally, Messi became the first player ever to score a hat-trick in El Clásico both home and away.
FC Barcelona have qualified for the Champions League quarterfinals for the seventh year in a row after eliminating England’s Manchester City with a 4-1 aggregate scoreline. The Catalan team last failed to qualify after a 2-2 aggregate score against Liverpool FC in the 2006/07 season, who won on away goals and later went on to reach the final. Previous quarterfinal opponents are Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal FC, FC Bayern Munich, Shakhtar Donetsk, Schalke 04, and AC Milan. Among all of these quarter-final encounters, Barça did not lose a single game. The team won seven and drew five. Read on to check out past Champions League results.
Lionel Messi: 26 years old, footballer, captain of the Argentinian national team and a living legend. In his free time he enjoys making fantastic solo runs with ball, beating and humiliating world class players and teams, scoring goals in a unique style, and winning all possible titles over and over again. For the past few years though, Messi has started a new hobby which includes beating every record in the history books until ultimately casting a shadow over them all and turning the books into his own biography. Read on for Messi’s incredible sights for the (very) near future.
If questioned whom in the FC Barcelona team did the most running by distance in the UEFA Champions League, I don’t believe many would have guessed Xavi Hernández. That’s right, the 34 year old has covered a total of 82, 093 meters this campaign, averaging to about 7.8 kilometers per game. His total ranks 8th in the competition, and no other Barça man appears in the top 20. Not too bad for the supposed “old man”.
Manchester City must win at Camp Nou in order to progress to the next stage of the Champions League, which would be historic as no team ever has come back from a 2-0 home defeat in the first leg. History isn’t on the Citizens side either, but history is not something high on the agenda at Eastlands or, the Etihad. FC Barcelona have not lost in a playoff match at home against an English side for seven years, the last time being Liverpool’s 2007 2-1 victory. English clubs have managed draws in recent campaigns (0-0 Manchester United 2007/8, 0-0 Chelsea 2008/9, 2-2 Chelsea 2011/12), but that won’t be enough for City.
Javier Mascherano has now played 100 league games in the Blaugrana outfit, and although that milestone came in a disappointing defeat against Real Valladolid, it’s worth noting that the Argentine has put in many great performances for Barça.
The 29-year-old joined the Catalan club from Liverpool FC in 2010, where he used to play as a defensive midfielder before Pep Guardiola altered his position. Similar to his 100th league match, Mascherano’s league debut was a 2-0 defeat at home against Hercules. But since then Javier hasn’t looked back; and as they say, the rest is history. Mascherano has played overall 169 games for Barça and won all six possible titles throughout these four years. So far, only three Argentine players have made more appearances than him: Zuviría, Saviola, and of course, Lionel Messi.
Sunday’s match against Almeria was not only a good comeback from the loss in Anoeta to boost the team’s confidence, it’s also a statement to what the team is really about. Although there’s still 12 matches left in the league, it’s still worth it to say that Barça have been rocking Europe with their stats. Barça are currently leading Europe in most goals scored in the league with 74 goals, while they also lead the continent in most goals scored in 2014. Not to mention the stats that show off the team’s dynamic goalscoring ability, which is ironic because it’s that very same team that used to be labeled as a “one man team” for the past few seasons. Check out the stats right after the jump.
In Johannesburg, South Africa’s Soccer City stadium, Neymar helped himself to a hat-trick as Brazil beat host South Africa 5-0. Those three goals took the 22-year-old Brazilian’s total tally for his country to 30.
Neymar has taken 47 games (0.64 goals/game) to reach this mark, and again it’s worth repeating he’s only 22. Lionel Messi reached 30 goals for his beloved Argentina at 25 years old and after 74 Albiceleste caps (0.41 goals/game). Another goal machine, Cristiano Ronaldo, hit his 30th goal for Portugal at 26, on his 86th appearance (0.35 goals/game).
Not too bad in my opinion.