Esteemed company

Esteemed company

Gerardo Martino joins a rather esteemed group of FC Barcelona managers with a win at the Santiago Bernabéu in his debut season. This has only happened previously under four managers: Pep Guardiola (2-6, 2008/9), Frank Rijkaard (1-2, 2003/4), Louis van Gaal (2-3, 1997/8) and Terry Venables (0-3, 1984/85). Tata is also only the fourth manager to take the Real Madrid scalp both home and away in his first season, which Guardiola also managed with a 2-0 win, Van Gaal won 3-0 and Venables oversaw a 3-2 win at Camp Nou.

Not to jinx anything, but in each of those seasons Barça finished ahead of Real Madrid, winning the title on each occasion except Rijkaard’s.

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The Louis Van Gaal dream fulfilled

The Louis Van Gaal dream fulfilled

Eleven is obviously the ‘number of the week’ for Barça. It is not because FC Barcelona are currently 11 points ahead of Real Madrid, it’s because of something a culé should be even more proud over – last Sunday in Valencia, FC Barcelona featured 11 homegrown players for the first time as they won 4-0 over Levante.

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100 percent homegrown … almost

100 percent homegrown … almost

Ten years ago, Louis van Gaal started his second period as FC Barcelona coach, a period that ended with him being sacked during the winter, and the team enduring its worst season in its centennial history. Despite the bad run, van Gaal left a very recogniseable legacy and a dream that almost became reality last Saturday against Getafe.

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Ex-Barça: Van Gaal appointed as Netherlands head coach

Ex-Barça: Van Gaal appointed as Netherlands head coach

Former FC Barcelona manager, Louis Van Gaal, was appointed head coach of the Netherlands national team this past week. Van Gaal held this position before, between 2000 and 2002, when he took over from Frank Rijkaard, who resigned when the Dutch failed to reach the final of the 2000 Eurocup, despite playing great football.

In his second spell, Van Gaal’s main task will be to qualify for the next World Cup in Brazil in 2014.

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Ex-Barça: Cruyff blocks Van Gaal in hopes of saving Ajax youth program

Ex-Barça: Cruyff blocks Van Gaal in hopes of saving Ajax youth program

Former FC Barcelona coaches Johann Cruyff (1988-1996) and Louis Van Gaal (1997-2000, 2002-2003) have never kept secret their disdain for one another. The former AFC Ajax players have been at odds for months regarding Van Gaal’s backroom appointment as CEO at the Amsterdam club. Cruyff, who serves on the five-member supervisory board at the club, was reportedly left in the dark regarding his nemesis’ appointment during a meeting in which Cruyff was not present. Cruyff appealed to a Dutch court, who ruled Tuesday that Ajax could not appoint the former Bayern Munich manager as a director based on the fact that the decision was not on the agenda for that particular meeting, a critical detail Cruyff openly objected to.

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Quote of the Day: Louis Van Gaal

Quote of the Day: Louis Van Gaal

“I have mentioned Barcelona from the beginning as an example of the level that we have to reach. If we finally have to go against them that would be nice. And also in Madrid. Yes, that would be a dream.”

Bayern Munich and former FC Barcelona coach Louis Van Gaal, speaking at the post-match press conference (after his team secured their place in the Champions League Final in Madrid, triumphing against Lyon 3-0)

Xavi hopes for final against Bayern: “Van Gaal is a formidable man”

Xavi hopes for final against Bayern: “Van Gaal is a formidable man”

Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernández has a particular desire: to play against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final. This has everything to do with the presence of Louis van Gaal in charge of the German team. The coach from Amsterdam gave the now mature Catalan his debut in the first team of Barcelona and the virtuoso has never forgotten this.

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Factfile Special: A Hero is Born

Factfile Special: A Hero is Born

On the occasion of his birthday (January 18) and in tribute to a job well done, we offer this special (belated) photo edition of our Factfile series to a man described as many things – poet,  intellectual, aesthete,  fashion model,  football icon,  “the annoyingly handsome and youthful champion with the six cups” etc.,  but whom Barcelona fans and supporters alike simply know as a gentleman, legendary former player, our revered coach.

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Bayern Munich offers Ribery to top clubs

Bayern Munich offers Ribery to top clubs

Franck Ribery (26) was supposed to be Bayern Munich’s star, but so far this season he has only played seven games from start, according to Catalan sports paper Sport. Ribery was confident that he would leave Munich last summer, a club that has lost its supremacy in German Bundesliga and has failed to be a challenger in the Champions League. Franz Beckenbauer insisted that Ribery should play for Bayern, till Louis Van Gaal came to coach Munich this summer. Almost from the first meeting there would have be a strange relation between Ribery and van Gaal. He has started seven games for Bayern Munich and scored only one goal against Borussia Dortmund. The team is almost eliminated from the Champions League, and are found in the 8th position in their league.

As Bayern seems to have lost confidence in Ribery, they would tend to sell him to other European clubs, among these are Barcelona. His contract will come to an end in June 2011. A possible transfer fee could therefore be around 35 million euros,since he is only 26 years old and will have 3-4 seasons left in the top. Not only Barcelona has interest towards the French international, but also Manchester City and Real Madrid are after the Munich star.

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Best defensive start since 2004

Best defensive start since 2004

Barcelona’s official website has carried out a story today stating Barcelona’s 3 goals conceded and 17 goals scored is the best defensive start since 2004/2005 season, when the team was under the guidance of Frank Rijkard. The 04/05 side also conceded 3 goals but scored 13, 4 less than the current goal tally.

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