Eusebio Sacristán reached a century of matches as Barcelona B coach yesterday at El Arcángel. The 49-year-old former Barça midfielder has been in charge since 2011-2012, when he was hired to replace Luis Enrique, who took charge of Serie A side Roma. His time with the reserves has not been an easy one, but he has managed to keep the team in Liga Adelante by some comfort in 2012/2013 and 2011/2012. Now, in his third season in charge, he says he’s more motivated than ever: “My satisfaction is working with all the players, on both the sporting and human level.”
Cesc Fàbregas said it felt like the players ran more than usual versus Ajax. Well, it wasn’t a feeling, they did. On Tuesday evening Barça put in more kilometers than in any other UEFA Champions League match this season and in all likelihood one of the most in any match this campaign. Cumulatively, the team ran 114.22 kilometers (km).
The player with the biggest shift? Andrés Iniesta. The Albacete man ran 11.55 kms, while another six players broke the 10 km barrier: Martín Montoya (10.94), Cesc Fàbregas (10.80), Pedro Rodríguez (10.79), Gerard Piqué (10.66), Alex Song (10.55) and Neymar (10.39).
But perhaps most amazingly of all, Ajax as a team ran over 5 kms more, a total of 119.46. They earned those three points.
José Manuel Pinto (38) has played more than 60 games for FC Barcelona since he joined the club in 2008 to replace Jorquera as the second goalkeeper. Since that time, Pinto has always been the back-up for the currently injured Víctor Valdés (31) and when he was needed he has always done well: 53 goals conceded in 63 games.
European domestic leagues are about three months into the season and coming off this final international break for 2013, there are 10 remaining teams still undefeated in their respective local competition, including FC Barcelona. Barça have thus far played 13 matches, winning 12 and drawing 1. That means Gerardo Martino has collected a possible 37 of 39 points, 95% of what was available. That is the best statistically in Europe. To compare against the other undefeated team’s records, continue reading.
Neymar has been busy taking care of business at Barça. The assist leader, a FIFA Ballon d’Or nomination and a fourth year in the running for the Puskás trophy. And in spite of having managed all that, Neymar is also the most fouled player in La Liga.
Sport ran a story claiming Diego Costa trumped his compatriot (or not) to the unwanted honor, comparing Neymar’s 43 fouls received to Diego Costa’s 45. But if one dives deeper into the numbers, as I did, on a per minutes converted to approximate per game basis, Neymar is officially the most targeted man in Spain. Diego Costa has thus far played 1, 118 minutes in the league and therefore is fouled on average 3.6 times per game. Neymar has been on the pitch far fewer minutes, 813, but gets hit 4.8 times per game. That’s 22% more often.
Website WhoScored.com, who use OptaSport data in their analysis, published a starting eleven of the top rated players 21 and under in Europe’s top five leagues (England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France). Occupying the left forward role and with the highest rating (8.07) on the field is FC Barcelona new man Neymar. While far from the greatest honor Neymar will win in his career, it’s pleasant to see that his terrific start to life with Barça is being acknowledged elsewhere and furthermore is supported by statistics.
Barça’s 3-1 victory over AC Milan on November 6th was a milestone evening for the club. That match was FC Barcelona’s 500th official match in European competitions.
It all began 64 years ago on June 26th, 1948, against Stade de Reims. That match was in the Latin Cup, both a precursor and parallel competition to the European Cup, that many football historians rate on par at the time with said European Cup. Barça won the match 5-0 and so began the path onwards to 17 continental titles.
Víctor Valdés doesn’t need to do much more to prove what an excellent season he is having, and the numbers back it up. Valdés is currently the league zamora, the keeper with the least conceded goals, and also has the highest save percentage with 42 saves from 50 shots on target. That’s a figure of 84%. And it’s not like they have been routine saves; we all know he’s executed some miraculous stuff including the featured image of his goal line save versus Betis.
WhoScored.com, using data from OptaSports, recently put together a concise info-graphic of Alexis Sánchez’s three seasons with FC Barcelona. The most immediately interesting aspect is from the heat maps. While it shows year on year he is consistent in tracking back, his positional instructions appear more defined this season. He is being utilized almost exclusively on the right-wing. More details below.
Yesterday evening Lionel Messi scored UEFA Champions League goals 64 and 65 of his career, now just six away from Raúl González’s all-time record of 71.
As it happens, AC Milan are Messi’s favorite victims in the competition, having scored eight goals against them over the years. In doing so the Argentine has set another personal record, being the first player ever to score eight goals against a single specific team.
Neymar and Alexis Sánchez are both poised to start alongside Leo Messi in the Champions League match against Milan, given their fine form and large contribution to Barça’s derby win against Espanyol. The two still miss a significant landmark in terms of their stats: scoring in the UEFA Champions League (UCL).
After 12 rounds of La Liga, FC Barcelona forward Neymar Jr. leads the standing of the league’s top assist providers, with seven. Two other blaugrana players are among the top six, Lionel Messi (5th) and Cesc Fàbregas(6th) each with four assists.
In total these three FC Barcelona players gave 15 assists, they also have scored 15 goals. Barça is obviously the overall La Liga leader, but it is also the only club in Spain to have three players in the top 10 assist chart. Real Madrid have two players with Garteth Bale (four assists) and Cristiano Ronaldo (three).
Xavi Hernández is one of the best ever and the history books will support that claim. Xavi is now the third most capped player ever in the UEFA Champions League (previously European Cup) with 140 official appearances. He took that third spot in the last match versus AC Milan, his 139th, and in doing so surpassed Milan legend Paolo Maldini.
The numbers almost never lie. And these say that FC Barcelona is offensively the best team in Europe’s top six leagues (England, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Portugal). In its almost perfect start to the Spanish season, Barcelona has collected 34 out of a possible 36 points, scoring 34 goals and conceding just seven after 12 rounds. These numbers average to 2.8 goals scored and 0.58 goals conceded per game. Barcelona’s defense is nothing to underestimate so far this season either, with Gerardo Martino’s team conceding more goals than only three other teams in Europe’s top leagues (excluding Portugal since the 10th round has not been played yet): England’s Tottenham Hotspur (5) and Southampton FC (4) albeit after only 10 matches, and Italy’s AS Roma (31 out of 33 possible points, 25 goals scored, 2 conceded after 11 rounds).
An interesting statistic so far this season is that when Andrés Iniesta, Xavi Hernández and Lionel Messi have played together, there have been a total of ten goals. This is in comparison to the additional 31 goals that have been scored due to other players in the team. This is the number of goals for a total of 16 games where there have been 13 wins and three draws. This averages out to a goal every 33.3 minutes or 1.9 goals per game between the players in the team compared to a goal every 49.5 minutes or 1.1 goals per game just considering the trio.
This is a positive reflection regarding the changes that Gerardo Martino, coach of FC Barcelona, has been making to the squad regarding line ups and the style of playing but not so much regarding the majestic trio.
Víctor Valdés has made a spectacular start to the season. The Barça number one, in his final season with the club, is proving to be a huge asset in Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s team, with his crucial saves winning games and earning precious points for the blaugrana.
With his clean sheet against Espanyol, he has reached yet another statistical landmark: his tenth clean sheet of the season, out of 16 games. The team currently has the best defense in both the Liga and the Champions League, largely thanks to his contribution.
With his appearance against Celta Vigo, Alexis Sánchez has reached 100 official caps with FC Barcelona. The Chilean, who is going through a period of red-hot form for club and country, signed for Barça in the summer 0f 2011 from Udinese, and has since scored 32 goals with the blaugrana, the same number as Cesc Fàbregas.
Taking a look at Alexis’ goals, it is clearly evident that Madrid-based sides are his favourite victims. Real Madrid, Rayo Vallecano and Getafe have received three a piece from ‘El Maravilla’, while Atlético Madrid has received one. Jesús Cobeño, Rayo’s goalkeeper, is the one who conceded the most goals (3) to the Chilean ace.
Tomorrow’s match is sure to a cracker, an important first for Tata Martino, Neymar, Carlo Ancelotti, and Gareth Bale. But it also has the potential to be a clásico for the record books: In Liga Clasicos, Xavi and Puyol are set to become Barça’s most capped players, and a goal from Messi would tie him with Cesar for Barça’s top scorer. Not pictured, but even more importantly, a goal tomorrow would make Messi El Clásico’s all-time top scorer in all competitions – he is currently tied with Alfredo Di Stefano at 18 apiece.
Source: FC Barcelona
Adriano Correia (28) has set a personal record at FC Barcelona with six consecutive starts.
An injury to Jordi Alba has helped but nobody can deny how well Adriano has done so far this campaign. This personal record also is encouraging seeing how frequently in the past Adriano would pick up small injuries which disrupted his momentum in the team. Already this year he has scored two goals, including an important winner to Málaga.
He really is a likable player, just see how genuinely ecstatic he gets when scoring goals.
So much for all that center-back drama. In a poll conducted today by Sport, one of Catalonia’s two major daily publications, 65% of fans voted that there was no need to sign a new center-back come January.
So does that settle it? Will Barça move forward with Marc Bartra as the new long-term solution? I feel confident at least until season end he will be given his trial by fire.
Of course some will question whether he’s ready to step in for the big matches: the Real Madrids, the Champions League semifinals. And that’s fair, but there is only one way to find out; experimentation. Maybe the board didn’t do such an inexcusable thing by not overspending this summer on the limited defensive options. Just maybe.
We all know that this season is, for Víctor Valdés, his last at FC Barcelona. Yet the Catalan keeper has been at his best for weeks now, earning his seventh clean sheet of the season last night against Celtic. It seems like Valdés is now relieved of the pressure of being Barça’s number one year in, year out and is now giving the best he can for the club that he loves, which has enabled him to be the Blaugrana’s most reliable player so far in the season. He is also the only one who has not missed a single minute, playing the full 990 minutes of Barça’s 11 official matches so far. However, there seems to be something else deep inside V. V.’s mind.
Gerardo Martino has won five out of five La Liga games. This has only been done by four previous managers in their debut season as coach. FC Barcelona has had starts like this in the years 1985, 1991, 1998, 2010 and now 2013. In those previous seasons with such a start, the team went on to win the league. Let’s hope history repeats itself this season.
For the first time in over five years, 316 consecutive matches ago, FC Barcelona finished a match with less ball possession than their opponent. The last time was in May 2008, also in Madrid, but against Real Madrid. Last night Barça finished with 49% possession, but still won.
However according to OptaSports it hasn’t been quite that long, they claim February 2010 was the last time the team had less than 50% possession. Either way, it’s been quite a while.
The times they are a-changin.