Barcelona B play host to Ponferradina this weekend and as always, their goal will be to earn the full three points. The team now finds itself at a crucial point in the season, in a period that will determine whether going forward there is still danger of relegation. Barça B are doing quite well at the moment, being on the verge of breaking the 40-point mark. They still need some more points to guarantee safety though, as the experiences of recent years have taught us that the ‘magic’ points total that secures safety in the Liga Adelante is on average 47 points. Yet this season, with things so tight in the bottom half of the league, a team would perhaps need 50 points at minimum to feel entirely safe. Barcelona B are close, and the sooner they get those points the better.
Ponferradina will be by no means an easy obstacle to overcome though. La Ponfe beat Eusebio Sacristán’s men early in the season, and surely if Barça B take the match lightly, they will be punished. Traditionally, Barça B-Ponferradina matches are evenly matched. Last year’s matches saw both teams win at home against each other, with the blaugranas winning 1-0 in Barcelona and the team from Castile and León taking a 3-2 win at El Toralín.
Barcelona lost 1-0 to relegation-threatened Real Valladolid today, seriously damaging their title hopes in La Liga. Away matches have been a serious challenge for the Catalans in the second half of this season, and Valladolid proved no exception. Away from Camp Nou, Barça’s run of form is shocking: They have won just one of five games in 2014, kept one clean sheet in the last eight matches, and have not scored the first goal of a match since November 2013. Though one can remember that the players are human and have had a difficult week between the international travel, Carles Puyol’s announcement, and a personal tragedy to Andrés Iniesta, nonetheless there is something inexplicable about the downward spiral occurring to Tata Martino’s men. Make the jump as we try to dissect this puzzling match.
FC Barcelona’s director of football, Andoni Zubizarreta, talked after the Real Valladolid match, in which the Catalan team lost 1-0. The former goalkeeper chose put a positive spin on things and claimed that the team should use this defeat to learn from their mistakes. “This is a defeat we have to take in. We must reflect and learn from this because on Wednesday we have a very important game.” He went on to say that the game “was too dense. They beat us in every part of the pitch. In the second half, when we went for the win, we were unlucky.”
Saturday’s match was one of the most disappointing performances of the season. FC Barcelona lost against Real Valladolid away which means the league is now Real Madrid’s to lose. The fans were disappointed and so were the team. However, the player reactions are quite different than usual. While some players chose to self criticise their performances but look forward, others (Dani Alves) chose to take yet another swipe, his third of 2014, at the fatalism from the public. Check out what the players had to say after the jump.
WHY IS LIONEL VOMITING?
Leo: “Before they would say things that would make want to vomit…”
“…But this time I don’t think this is the case.”
Cartoon by Caye
Gerardo “Tata” Martino spoke this evening at the post match press conference, after a very unexpected and disappointing defeat away against Real Valladolid. The coach admitted the team lacked ideas to breakthrough their defence, but kept insisting that the team did not lack their usual intensity. “The team lacked ideas but not intensity. We completely failed in generating play and that’s what stopped us from getting the result. We lacked what makes us Barça: Good elaboration in our build-up, finding spaces, breaking through on the wings and having depth. But we didn’t lack attitude.” More from the coach after the jump.
totalBarça welcomes you all to the Liga match between Real Valladolid and FC Barcelona!
Saturday, March 8, 2014 @ 16:00 Barcelona time - Convert to local time
“Messi is great, I don’t think he needs to win with Argentina to be great. Ronaldo is great, I don’t think he needs to be world champion with Portugal to be great. But Maradona did it and Zidane did it and Ronaldo Nazario and Rivaldo did it. Many of the big guys did it, so everybody’s waiting for them to do it.”
Nike has revealed its newest football boot design yet with the help of FC Barcelona’s midfielder Andrés Iniesta at the new Disseny Hub Barcelona centre. The boots have an absolutely new, unique design that, according to Iniesta, “makes your ankle much more comfortable.” The Magista, through its new extended collar, fits the player’s foot and ankle in a way that enables the player to have more control over his foot and boot. Continue reading for more details on the Magista.
Gerardo Martino sat with the press for the mandatory pre-game discussion. As usual, Martino isn’t taking the match lightly. “I’m worried because of who the opposition are. They are struggling against relegation and have only won four home games, but then again, they have only lost two. They’re strong at home.” Tata isn’t completley wrong but not entirely correct either. Real Valladolid have played 12 home matches, won three, drawn six and lost three. The Barça boss had a voluminous amount to say yesterday, part of which was presented here. Below find Martino’s thoughts on squad rotation, Carles Puyol and Leo Messi.
Xavi Hernández gets in on the trend started by Ellen Degeneres in his publicist’s selfie.
Marc Bartra was the latest player to pay tribute for Carles Puyol, who announced last Tuesday that this will be his last season wearing the Blaugrana colours. “It’s sad news for us all,” he said at a press conference on Thursday. “For the team because we’ve lost our leader, he’s a captain from head to toes. And personally because he gave me so much advice and helped me progress in the game.”
But the young defender preferred to look at the positive side of the situation, saying, “We haven’t taken in the idea that he won’t be with us next season. But there are still three months left and we have to be optimistic and learn as much as we can from him in that time.” Bartra also admitted that the Catalan captain has helped him grow as a player. “He helps me a lot on the field. After every move he gives me advice and after every game and every training session too. He has done a primordial job not just for me, but the whole team.”
FC Barcelona’s defender, Gerard Piqué, has been included in Gerardo ‘Tata” Martino’s match squad to face Real Valladolid after recovering from a thigh injury that kept him away for two weeks. On the other hand, José Manuel Pinto, Isaac Cuenca, Alex Song, Jordi Alba, and Jonathan dos Santos will not be travelling to Valladolid, in addition to Andrés Iniesta who will miss the game due to personal reasons.
Here is the 18-men squad: Valdés, Olazábal, Mascherano, Bartra, Alves, Adriano, Montoya, Piqué, Busquets, Sergi Roberto, Xavi, Cesc, Afellay, Alexis, Tello, Neymar Jr., Pedro, and Messi.
Andrés Iniesta has asked to be dropped from the squad list for Saturday’s match against Valladolid for “personal reasons.” According to multiple sources, the reason is that his wife, Anna, has lost the son the couple were expecting.
totalBarça sends Andrés and his family our thoughts and prayers at this difficult moment.
WILL BARÇA AT LAST SIGN A CENTERBACK?
Puyol: Zubi, I’m leaving
Zubi: Got it.
Next year I won’t be at Barça.
You’ll be without a centerback.
Do you understand?
And you’re not thinking of looking for a substitute?
A substitute for whom?
Cartoon by Caye
March 6, 2014