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.
Luis Suárez became today the fifth Golden Boot winner to sign for FC Barcelona after sharing the award with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo for the 2013/2014 season, finishing ahead of Lionel Messi, Diego Costa, and Zlatan Ibrahimović. Suárez scored 31 league goals in 33 appearances for Liverpool FC last season as the English club finished in second place in the Premier League and secured qualification for the Champions League. Hans Krankl, Hristo Stoichkov, Henrik Larsson, and Thierry Henry also joined the Catalan club after winning the prestigious award, and they did not disappoint.
FC Barcelona’s ace attackers Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr have taken the 2014 World Cup by storm. Both men have inarguably been their national sides’ top performers. Messi has 24 goals in his last 24 Argentina caps, or 32 goals in 36 games in 2014, with 10 assists. In canary yellow, Neymar has outrageously good career statistics, 22 years old, 52 appearances, 35 goals and 20 assists. After the jump are their group stage performances in numbers, including an impressive 92% shot accuracy from Neymar.
FC Barcelona’s Javier Mascherano is on the cusp of making his 100th appearance for Argentina. El Jefecito should accomplish the feat this evening (or afternoon) as the albiceleste take on Iran. Mascherano will become only the fourth Argentine to ever reach a centenary of caps, joining now Atlético Madrid manager Diego Simeone (106), legendary center-back Roberto Ayala (115) and of course mister indestructible Javier Zanetti (145). Though one day they will all be passed by Lionel Messi, who already at 26 has 87 caps.
After a long and painful season, here’s a look back at the individual stats in the league campaign from the first team players. With the statistics broken down to 14 categories, we could see who former coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino favoured all throughout the season and the reasons that may be behind it. Take a look at the stats provided by Opta Sports after the break.
FC Barcelona have managed to clinch the Liga title on eleven previous occasions when the final game took place on the Blaugrana’s home soil, the most recent during the 2009-2010 season when the team defeated Real Valladolid 4-0 to end the season on top of the table with 99 points. Five of these occasions occurred at Les Corts, while the other six were celebrated at the Camp Nou. Now, the team is ready to face Atlético Madrid and fight for the fifth La Liga title in six years. Camp Nou magic?
Barça’s favorite opponents in such situations are Athletic Bilbao who were beaten four times before (1944-45, 1947-48, 1952-53, and 1991-92) when the Catalans were seeking another league trophy to add to their record books. The remaining wins came against Real Zaragoza (2), RCD Espanyol, Real Sociedad, UD Las Palmas, Sevilla FC, and Real Valladolid. Will Atlético be added to the list of victims?
Two wins, and it’s La Liga 23 for Barça. But while eyes are glancing a week forward, Sunday’s game against Elche looks to be far from simple. Elche languish in 14th place, only three from safety, BUT, the side from Alicante is undefeated at home for over five months, including the entirety of 2014. Elche’s nine home matches this calendar year have ended in four wins (Rayo, Almería, Celta, Getafe) and five draws (Sevilla, Osasuna, Betis, Bilbao, Levante). This success falls squarely on Elche’s stingy defense, which over this 8,100 minute undefeated home run have only conceded two goals. This isn’t an anomaly either. Elche boast the second best home defensive record in La Liga, having conceded just 12 goals in 18 games, which is only bested by Atlético Madrid’s nine goals in 18 games.
Elche will play to their strengths tomorrow and pack the defensive line and plan to keep the game scoreless. They have the joint worst offensive record in Spain with only 29 goals scored in 36 total matches, so Elche boss Fran Escribá will know their best bet for points will be to park the bus. Barça know the challenge, now they must face it and ensure to break through the lines and get a goal. A La Liga crown will depend on it.
When looking for a goalscorer, Lionel Messi is always a safe bet. With his late winner against Villarreal, the little wizard from Rosario has reached 40 goals in the season. This is the fifth consecutive season in which Leo’s goal tally has been above 40 goals. Considering that this season he has only played 43 games, compared to last year’s 50 or 60 two years ago, him passing the 40 goal is no mean feat.
According to a Business Insider poll, Lionel Messi is America’s 7th most popular athlete. Michael Jordan took the top spot for the third straight year, followed in order by the Denver Bronco’s (NFL) Peyton Manning, the Heat’s (NBA) LeBron James, LA Laker (NBA) Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods and New England Patriot quarterback (NFL) Tom Brady. Lionel Messi finished tied with New York Yankee’s (MLB) legend Derek Jeter. These sort of statistics have shown consistency year on year the impact football (soccer) is having in the US, and particular the popularity of Barça and Leo Messi.
In a season when things have not been going very well for FC Barcelona, one would expect that the coach would turn to the club’s endless conveyor belt of youth talent for the answer to the team’s lack of fresh legs and fresh ideas. Instead, players from FC Barcelona B have only seen 72 minutes of first team football this season. Read more after the jump.