The early star of the show was an old Camp Nou friend (or an omen for those suspiciously inclined folks). But when the black cat was shown the exit (the security man earning a bite for his trouble), Luis Enrique’s new look FC Barcelona comfortably beat Elche 3-0. The visitors’ defensive strategy was voided when Lionel Messi opened up his 2014/15 account and despite a late first half setback, a debut goal 49 seconds into the second half from Munir El Haddadi ended this game as a competitive affair. There is certainly praise to go around, but seeing an energetic Messi with his much missed smile is unquestionably tonight’s key takeaway.
totalBarça welcomes you all to the first Liga game of the season between FC Barcelona and Elche CF! Are you ready?
Sunday, August 24, 2014 @ 21:00 Barcelona time - Convert to local time
The wait is finally over. FC Barcelona will today face Elche CF in their opening league game and Luis Enrique will make his first official managerial debut with the Catalan club. Much has changed since last season, with several new arrivals and goodbyes. The fans and players are as hungry as ever and are aiming to put the disappointments behind them, for the night is darkest just before the dawn.
Starting today, La Liga kicks off it’s new season, and Luis Enrique has given his final press conference ahead of Barça’s first league encounter against Elche. “It has been a great week in terms of the team dynamic and we are going into the game in the same buoyant mood as we did before the Gamper,” said the Barça boss before adding, “We know Elche will pose us problems because tactically and defensively they’re such a well-structured unit.” More from the Asturian after the jump.
The LFP has made kick-off times for the two first matchdays of La Liga and the Liga Adelante final. Barcelona will start their bid to get the league title back to the Camp Nou against Elche at home, with the match scheduled for Sunday, August 24, at 21:00 CET.
A week later, the first team will play its first away match for the season, at El Madrigal against Villarreal. That match has been scheduled for Sunday, August 31 at 19:00 CET.
Barça B times after the jump.
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.
Painful fact: FC Barcelona scored two legitimate goals in the Camp Nou last weekend in the title decider against Atlético Madrid. The video above is in Spanish, but it clearly highlights the fact that the offside call against Messi was incorrect because the ball deflected off Atlético defender Juan Fran and not Cesc Fabregas as the lineman apparently concluded. Draw what conclusions you may from this, but isn’t the lack of discussion of this blown call somewhat striking?
FC Barcelona have announced the arrival of the team’s former player, Luis Enrique as the first team’s coach. Many have been expecting this announcement for a while, and now that it is official, what do we know about our new coach?
Enrique coached the club’s youth team, Barça B, from 2008 to 2011 and has done an exceptional job developing future Culés. Some of the players that got the chance to learn from the new Barça coach are Martín Montoya, Marc Bartra, Sergi Roberto, Jonathan Soriano (now at FC Red Bull Salzburg), and Thiago Alcântara (now at FC Bayern Munich). The team finished fifth in their group of the third division during Enrique’s first year in charge, but the team was able to clinch promotion to the Segunda División the following year.
SELF-CRAP BY SELF-CRAP 1 – 1 GAME BY GAME
Simeone: “Luckily, preventing the Merengues from winning La Decima doesn’t depend on Barça…”
“…it depends on ‘Team Cholo.’ “
Cartoon by Caye
You’ve had your chance to rate the performance of the Blaugrana and the results are now tallied up. Take a look at how the totalBarça community ranked the squad and see how the ratings played out.
Image: David Ramos, Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com
In many ways, Barcelona versus Atlético has been the defining match of this season. An astonishingly well-organized and defensive team highlighting both the coaching and tactical weaknesses that have come to plague Barcelona, Atlético have marked Barcelona’s downfall with their own ascendancy. With their incredible discipline, teamwork, and fanatical adherence to a single playing philosophy, Atlético Madrid echo the ethos of Guardiola’s Barça, if not the aesthetics, and the current blaugrana team have been unable to overcome this ferocious discipline in six games. In many ways, Saturday’s Liga finale was a microcosm for their experiences this entire season. Barcelona started strong and faded sharply in the second half; the most-maligned players on the field (Javier Mascherano, Gerard Piqué, Dani Alves) were some of the game’s best performers; a key injury turned the game for them, while Lionel Messi never seemed to get out of first gear. All familiar sights to the average cule, but ones that deserve further dissection today.
totalBarça welcomes you all to the league final between FC Barcelona and Atlético Madrid! Are you ready?
Saturday, May 17, 2014 @ 18:00 Barcelona time - Convert to local time
Win or lose, tonight’s dramatic finale to the 2013/14 La Liga is sure to be spectacular, and it is a fitting conclusion to what has been a rollercoaster season for FC Barcelona and the top three teams in general. Overall, La Liga has been much more competitive than in recent years: In addition to having a genuine third challenger for the first time in several years, the title race has had more twists and turns than in the previous 100-point Ligas, in which dropping points more than a handful of times spelled certain defeat. Read on below for a look back at a crazy season.
It all comes down to this. FC Barcelona and Atlético Madrid have toiled for a combined 6,600 La Liga minutes yet it all boils down to a single 90, with everything still to play for. Atlético Madrid’s season is interestingly similar to Liverpool’s. As the possibility of a league title become more and more real, both teams apparently had nothing to lose; until they had something to lose. Liverpool are theoretically delighted with a second place finish, it’s much higher than anyone predicted pre-season, yet when the title was literally within reach and an unpredictable slip took it all away, Anfield faithful can be as rational as they like, but in their hearts it hurt.
It will be the same with Atletí; tomorrow there is something very real to lose. What Diego Simeone and his legionnaires have accomplished this season is without exaggeration among one of the most impressive feats in modern football. Atlético Madrid operate with a wage budget less than Queen’s Park Rangers, reportedly around 66 million euro, Barça and Real Madrid both pay upwards of 200 million. Atletí as a club and it’s fan base would have bitten your arm off pre-season if offered a Champions League final and a top two La Liga finish, but it’s a very possible reality than in the coming eight days this miraculous Atlético season may finish as so many others before, empty handed.
All eyes will be on Saturday’s title-bout between La Liga heavyweights Atlético de Madrid and Futbol Club Barcelona at the Camp Nou. The hosts must KO Atletí and earn the last three points of the season to clinch the league for the 23rd time.
From the opposite corner, Diego Simeone’s men only need a draw to secure their triumph as they head into a historic match. No one can doubt the rojiblancos’ credibility this year, and their boss couldn’t ask more of his players. “The players gave their all,” said the Argentine coach. “[I am] proud of Atlético de Madrid … Nobody has given them anything for free.” He also added that his squad would keep working, “with effort and humility” to win their two remaining finals after having booked tickets to Lisbon for the Champions League final. More after the jump.
FC Barcelona will unveil a huge Camp Nou mosaic to urge the team onto victory, and the Liga title, during Saturday’s match against Atlético. 100,000 leaflets will be used to spell out “Som El Barça” [We are Barça]. The phrase will be wrapped in the blue and red team colors and the red and gold of the Catalan Senyera. Are any of you lucky enough to be attending the match live?
Xavi Hernández highlighted the importance of winning this season’s La Liga not only to end the year in good fashion, but also to thank and crown this generation that has made us proud for so long. “It’s a great final, a fantastic match. It would be the icing on the cake for this generation, playing such an important match as this,” said Xavi. The game on Saturday will be Carles Puyol’s last in a Barça shirt, with Víctor Valdés already on his way to Germany, and the team is eager to reward both for their efforts over the years. More from Xavi after the jump.
FC Barcelona will play for the title against Atlético Madrid on Saturday in the Liga’s final match of the season, in match that will decide the title. However, this is not the first time Barça have been in such a position. Nine times in the past, the club secured the Liga in the final Matchday. Read more after the jump…
Barcelona always responds well when it comes to securing the league title in the final Matchday. The first occasion came in 1929, when Barça beat Arenas de Getxo 2-0 away from home to seal the title.
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?
FC Barcelona’s president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, encouraged and called for the fans to come and support the team against Atlético Madrid on Saturday. “I encourage everyone to come to the stadium. It will be difficult to win but we will fight,” said Bartomeu. Barca and Atlético’s draws against Elche CF and Malaga CF meant that it will come down to La Liga’s final round where the two giants will battle to be crowned champions. “It will be a final,” he said. Continue reading for more from Bartomeu and Andoni Zubizarreta.
It was definitely an extremely tense 90 minutes for the fans, but the team’s objective was completed. “We suffered, but we’re happy and satisfied. We deserve this chance and we will fight for the title,” said Bartomeu. Bartomeu also believes that, although it has been a difficult season for all, the players have what it takes to win the league: “Like all Culés, I have a lot of confidence in the players.”
Barça’s number 8 Andres Iniesta who recently turned 30 spoke to the press on Monday in a conference filled with inspiration, passion and belief. The Spaniard truly summarised what it is to be Blaugrana Faithful as the team heads on to Saturday’s game against Atlético Madrid – the game that’ll decide this insane league season once and for all.“The teams know each other well, it’ll be down to the details,” said the World Cup winner, “We need to be ready, focused in the final few metres, during the last few passes. We’re lacking sharpness in taking chances and that’s what’s held us back in the last few games. We’ve made chances but we’re lacking that freshness. Not just the strikers, but the team. It’s cost us.” More from San Andrés right after the jump!
The man from Rosario, Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino, was chosen out of many other rumoured coaches with better résumés after the resignation of former coach Tito Vilanova (May his soul rest in peace). Candidates such as Marcelo Biesla, Michael Laudrup and Luis Enrique were surprised by the club’s acquisition – the man had no European experience. But like Barça’s newest signing, Neymar Jr, the club was more than willing to take the risk if the man fit the job.
And now? Follow the jump: