If FC Barcelona are going to finish this season with their heads held high, they need to get their fighting spirit back. They need to get angry! Fight for it! They showed a bit of fight during the last 15 minutes of yesterday’s match and came back to win 2-1. Let’s hope the players don’t slide out of the rest of the season and away into their separate teams for the World Cup. Let’s hope that someone in that locker room gives the team a damn good talking to and gets them fired up to finish strong. Get angry!
Barça B extended their unbeaten run to eight matches with a hard-fought victory against Girona at the Miniestadi. Eusebio’s team had to come back from behind, after conceding a first-half penalty, but the task proved easy for the leaders of the Juvenil A, Adama and Munir, who came on as substitutes in the second half, changing the shape of the game completely. The win puts Barça B on 54 points, which places them right in the upper echelons of the league standards, in 3rd place, just six points behind leaders Deportivo, who have a game in hand.
Barça’s Alevín A team (players born in 2002) have been crowned champions of the Mediterranean International Cup (MIC). The boys beat Ajax comprehensively in the final of the ‘D’ category of the tournament, with the scoreboard at the Palamós stadium reading 5-0. The boys in blaugrana couldn’t open the scoring until the second half, but when the first from Gerard Fernández went in, the goals started raining in. Fernández himself bagged a brace, as did Pablo Moreno, with Antonio Roca adding a fifth.
Congratulations to the boys!
totalBarça welcomes you all to Liga match between FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao!
Sunday, April 20, 2014 @ 21:00 Barcelona time - Convert to local time
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.
Yesterday evening club president Josep Maria Bartomeu came out strongly to Lionel Messi’s defense. Amidst papers manufacturing rumors regarding the Argentine’s possible departure, Bartomeu has hopefully put them to bed. Speaking with TV3, he also made some interesting but not detailed comments about what to expect next season.
During the Copa loss to Real Madrid, Neymar Jr. suffered an injury that caused an edema in his right foot. In an interview with Globo TV, Neymar said that he had the injury for a while and just worsened it in the Copa final. “It was an inflation that I had already had for some time. It got worse after I played. It was injured enough that I walked with difficulty after the game… I knew it would be a medium long period (that he would be out), but always with a little fear, first to be out, which I do not like at all in any form, and then, of course, for the World Cup. But within three weeks I’ll return and I hope to play Barça’s last match (this season).”
With the Copa del Rey and the Champions League gone, Barcelona must turn their attention back to La Liga. While hopes of finishing higher than third are slim at best, they must give one hundred percent for each of the five remaining games of the season. Athletic Bilbao will probably represent the Catalan’s greatest challenge until the final day of the season, where they will of course take on leaders Atlético Madrid for a potentially title-deciding match.
But first, the Basques. They handed Barça their first league loss of the season back in December at the New San Mamés, which has been a nigh-impregnable fortress this season. Undefeated in their last seven away trips, though only one win of the last four, Bilbao have ample motivation going into this game. They are currently in fourth with a six-point lead over Sevilla FC, but that lead is surely not enough to be comfortable – a loss to Barcelona and Sevilla next week would open up the battle for Champions League football. Athletic will be eying Barcelona as wounded giants, an opportunity to gain points from what used to be a certain loss.
So many injuries. Gerardo Martino is unable to call upon key members Víctor Valdés, Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba and Neymar. Jonathan Dos Santos and Isaac Cuenca are also injured, but inconsequentially. The one piece of good news is Marc Bartra received medical clearance. Full squad:
Pinto, Olazábal, Montoya, Fàbregas, Xavi, Pedro, Iniesta, Alexis, Messi, Mascherano, Bartra, Song, Afellay, Tello, Adriano, Dani Alves, Sergi Roberto, Sergi Gómez.
“The team is giving up? Absolutely not. We all felt the pain of the last weeks, a blow every third day, but it can still happen that those ahead of us have a result that favor us and we have the obligation to continue competing.” It’s business as usual from Gerardo Martino, and frankly, what else do you expect? I have seen comments begrudging the manner Martino speaks before games, saying it’s always the same positive, time to move forward rhetoric over and over. Well, what is it exactly you’d like him to say? Should he say, “I don’t care, my job’s probably not going to continue anyway, so yeah, I’m not really bothered.” How about, “I barely have any fit players, and many of them are struggling with form, so who knows what’s going to happen? I’m not a prophet.” Would that be preferable? Managers can only say so much, there’s also only so much to be said, and if anything, one of Martino’s faults is his honesty and candor. It’s not actually a fault, but in the vicious, unforgiving world of elite sport, those attributes are preyed upon by the vultures.
And Martino is absolutely right, FC Barcelona are four points from leaders Atlético. From the fatalism aplenty, one would think Barça trail by some insurmountable margin. Four points is a two game swing, one against leaders Atleti. There are five matches left and both teams who currently usurp Barcelona have a pair of very taxing midweek matches on their plates. It’s reasonably common for sides to drop points the weekend following such physically and mentally exhausting Champions League battles. Nobody’s saying it will be easy, some fortune is certainly required, but far crazier things happen.
“We are only one mistake from our rivals of taking control of the league. It’s one mistake.” More from Tata after the jump.
FC Barcelona B midfielder Pol Calvet looks set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines. The 20 year-old’s operation was completed successfully on Thursday by doctors Orava and Cugat for treatment of his hamstring muscle syndrome. Recovery time is set between four and six months.
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?
When Barça B set about the 2013-14 Liga Adelante season back in late August, everyone in blaugrana was declaring the team’s goal: retain Segunda División status. Fast forward eight months, and you’ll see a very different image. The Barça reserves are not only miles away from struggling for retaining their league status, but are actually playing some of the best football in the league and are quite fairly part of the league’s top 5 teams. Of course the target of retaining Liga Adelante status remains the same; Barça B are not allowed to win promotion to the Liga BBVA anyway, and therefore, all they have to do in the remaining eight league matches is to collect as many points as possible, starting with today’s home match against Catalan neighbours Girona.
April 19, 2014
April 18, 2014