Barcelona’s recent league matches haven’t seen the team put in its best performances. Yet it must be noted that Barça’s life would have been made much simpler without the woodwork, which has so far denied the Blaugranas 11 times, more times than any other team in the league. The man who has hit the post most times is, unsurprisingly, Leo Messi who has seen his efforts come off the woodwork 6 times. The Argentine is followed by Neymar (2), Luis Suárez (1), Iniesta (1) and Munir (1).
You’ve probably had a miserable weekend watching Barça throw away the game against Celta Vigo after wasting so many chances. Well, we’d thought we’d make matters worse for you and list a couple of facts about Saturday’s loss.
We all know that La Masia is as prolific in producing talent as a football academy can get. Yet no one could have predicted that FC Barcelona’s academy would be the top provider of talent to Europe’s so-called ‘Big 5’ leagues. According to a recent study, players formed at La Masia are more abundant than players produced in any other academy based in one of the ‘Big 5’ countries. Read more…
On the 1st of July Nate Silver’s ESPN statistics and analytics blog FiveThirtyEight published the “Lionel Messi is Impossible” piece. Over social media recently I stated that it’s not the numbers that prove Messi is the best player in the world. What does then? To shorten what is complicated and longwinded reasoning, it comes down to a simple statement: you can just see it. Then a follower reminded me of the aforementioned FiveThirtyEight piece, though he ironically implied that Messi isn’t about stats and figures when the entire premise of the article he cited is stats and figures. Which is precisely the beauty of “Lionel Messi is Impossible”. Even though his genius is exponentially more than the box score, measurables are handy because there are no “yeah, but”s. These are hard, inarguable analytical facts which as I will go through to fortify Messi’s unmatchable grandeur. Now quoting the author Benjamin Morris:
“By now I’ve studied nearly every aspect of Messi’s game, down to a touch-by-touch level: his shooting and scoring production; where he shoots from; how often he sets up his own shots; what kind of kicks he uses to make those shots; his ability to take on defenders; how accurate his passes are; the kind of passes he makes; how often he creates scoring chances; how often those chances lead to goals; even how his defensive play marking compares to other high-volume shooters.
And that’s just the stuff that made it into this article. I arrived at a conclusion that I wasn’t really expecting or prepared for: Lionel Messi is impossible.”
What I particularly loved about this piece was its scope. Morris crunches a ton of numbers to gives us a perfectly fair representative sample that analyses the gauntlet of football. It’s also a handy source to squash any annoying Ronaldo versus Messi debate. So let’s get into it.
Ronaldo & Bale? Ibrahimovic & Cavani? Robben & Ribery? Nobody can deny that these are in fact some of the greatest duos in the modern game; and while it’s always a pleasure to see your team striker scoring in five games in a row, it truly is astonishing to have your team’s duo achieve that feat. That’s right, Messi and Neymar have been gelling together better than ever, scoring in the past five consecutive games.
Neymar Jr has already played 50 matches for FC Barcelona. Just over a year after his signing for the club, the Brazilian ace was handed his 50th appearance in blaugrana against Eibar, and didn’t fail to live up to the occasion delivering an electric performance with 1 goal and 1 assist. ‘Ney’ has played in 33 Liga matches, 12 Champions League matches 3 in the Copa del Rey and 2 in the Supercopa. Read more…
Leo Messi is widely known for his ability to score goals. In fact, he has quite a few records to show for this ability, and another one, the all-time top goalscorer in La Liga, currently held by the legendary Telmo Zarra, is about to fall at the Argentine’s might in one or two games. However, Messi is not often credited for his immense playmaking ability. ‘The Flea’ not only able to score beautiful goals, but he’s also able to create lots and lots of goals. Thereby, we give you Leo Messi, the assist centurion. More after the jump.
According to Twitter site @Footy, FC Barcelona became the first team in La Liga to record seven clean sheets in the opening seven games. Additionally, that means Claudio Bravo clean sheet record in the league jumps to 630, giving him the club record of minutes without conceding since the start of a new league campaign.
Claudio Bravo unbeaten league run stands at 540 minutes. If he manages to keep the ball out of his net past the first 20 minute against Rayo, Bravo will set a club record for minutes without conceding since the start of the league, beating the previous record of 560 held by Pedro María Artola in 1977/78.
FC Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitić currently leads La Liga players in pass attempts and passes completed after six matches, and is closely followed by the ex-Barça man, Roberto Trashorras, who currently plays for Rayo Vallecano and will face his former club tomorrow night. Rakitić has so far played 508 minutes and attempted 522 passes, completing 475 of them (91%). The Croatian is also accompanied by four of his teammates in La Liga’s top 10 list of players with most passes completed: Sergio Busquets (406), Jordi Alba (343), Jérémy Mathieu (315), and Dani Alves (309).
Sergi Samper is the name on Barça fans’ lips these days. The 19-year-old managed to make his official debut for the club, after spending the whole of his footballing career at the club. Samper started out at the FCBEscola, where the youngest aspiring Barça stars take their first steps in football. FCBEscola is a place that becomes the breeding ground for 25,000 dreams each year. Read more…
Nobody has plauged Levante’s 10 seasons in La Liga like Lionel Messi. The Barça goal machine has scored 9 times against the Valencia side, more than any other La Liga player active (Cristiano Ronaldo, 7) or not (Diego Forlán, 8). The Argentine has additionally hit the back of the net against Levante three seasons in a row. Looking hungry as ever, it would be a foolish punt to go against Messi making it 10 goals and four seasons running.
Gerard Piqué’s goal in the Champions League against APOEL was the Catalan centre-back’s ninth in the elite European club competition, and his seventh with Barça (he also has two with Manchester United). Although that figure hardly seems to be anything close to record-breaking, it is in fact the third highest number of goals scored by a defender in UEFA Champions League history. The centre-back only trails Roberto Carlos and Christian Panucci, who were both attacking full-backs, and is therefore the highest scoring centre-back in the history of the competition. Way to go, Geri.
El Maestro, now el capitán, Xavi Hernández hit a landmark against APOEL. For more than a decade, Real Madrid’s Raúl González Blanco had topped the UEFA Champions League all time appearance list with 142. Xavi equalled that figure on Wednesday night and will undoubtedly surpass the figure this season. Being the most capped player in the Champions League, the game’s elite competition, is something that requires consistency of excellence at the highest level over a long period of time. That sounds about right for Xavi.
FC Barcelona beat APOEL 1-0 without putting on a spectacular show on Wednesday, but Luis Enrique’s new-look side managed to break a significant record. This season’s team is the first team in Barcelona’s history to win all four opening matches without conceding a goal. This may not look particularly exciting for culés, who expected goals last night, but let’s not forget the old saying: attackers win matches, defenders win titles.
Last night was a special one for Sergi Samper. At the club since 6 years old, reportedly the only FC Barcelona player ever to play in every single age category before the first team, Samper impressed at the highest level. His passing was both secure and plenty, with 107 attempted (the most of anyone on the pitch) and 98 completed (92%).
Who’s the goal threat? Have have APOEL faired in Europe until today? All that and more after the jump, and don’t forget about the totalBarça exclusive profile.
That man of every superlative and countless statistics, Lionel Messi, has scored against Athletic Club at the Camp Nou for six seasons in a row. Though not yet medically cleared for the weekend, it’s almost a certainty he will be on the pitch Sunday. One would be foolish to bet against Messi’s run extending to seven seasons on the trot when the Lions come to town.
Barcelona B’s aim is to produce first team players. That is at least the official aim, because if we had to name an aim for the team, it would certainly have to make people expect the unexpected. At the beginning of this season, who would have expected Jean Marie Dongou (19), the Cameroonian forward who has been on the first team fringes for too long without breaking through, to be the Segunda División’s top scorer three matches into the season? Nobody. Yet it has happened. Read more after the jump.
Just over 16 years ago, Javier Saviola made a big money (24 million euros) move from River Club to FC Barcelona. Barça became his second club in his second league, following the Argentinean. Since, Saviola has moved to six other clubs and four other leagues, taking his total clubs to nine and different leagues to six. The Argentine was sent to Monaco and Sevilla before being sold to Real Madrid. He spent two seasons in the capital, before heading to Benfica, then Málaga, Olympiakos and most recently a summer move to Hellas Verona, where he joins Rafa Márquez. That makes his nine clubs: River Plate, FC Barcelona, AS Monaco, Sevilla FC, Real Madrid, Benfica, Málaga FC, Olympiakos and Hellas Verona, and the six leagues he’s graced: Primera División (Argentina), La Liga (Spain), Ligue 1 (France), Superliga (Portugal), Superleague (Greece) and Serie A (Italy). If he can land himself a gig in the Bundesliga, then Saviola will have played in all of Europe’s significant five leagues. At this rate, why not?
São Paulo FC fans all over Brazil are lauding the efforts of club directors after off-loading right back Douglas Pereira, whom many fans considered a liability and not worthy of a starting place on their beloved team. To be fair, Dani Alves is also seen by many Brazilians in a similar light domestically, but how one performs from team to team can sometimes provide quite the study in contrast. While assurances of his defensive abilities are plentiful online, numbers from Opta Sports compiled by ESPN Brasil do a little bit more to dispel the worries of non-Portuguese-speaking culés frantically combing the internet for more on who exactly this Douglas character is and what he could possibly offer on a right flank that has been so dominantly deputized by Dani Alves and to a far lesser extent, Martín Montoya.
The last time FC Barcelona lost on the opening day of La Liga was the 2008/9 season, when Pep Guardiola’s eventual all-conquering triplete side lost to Numancia 1-0. After that, Guardiola managed a win on the opener of his other three campaigns as did Tito Vilanova and Gerardo Martino in their debut seasons. Will Luis Enrique make it six on the trot?
The current 2014/15 FC Barcelona squad is the second most cosmopolitan in history with 10 unique nationalities represented. This falls one behind the 2008/9 squad that featured 11. The usual suspects are all present: Spanish, Brazilian, Argentinian to which is added German (Marc-André ter Stegen), Chilean (Claudio Bravo), Belgium (Thomas Vermaelen), French (Jérémy Mathieu), Uruguayan (Luis Suárez), Croatian (Ivan Rakitić) and Cameroonian (Alex Song). Therefore, of the current 10 nationalities represented, half come from new signings.