Everyday Spain’s near 20 million football fans visit their local news stand, pick up their preferred periodical poison and either delight or disgust in the latest happenings of their favorite club. And whether Marca in Madrid or Mundo Deportivo in Catalonia, a café con leche is always part of the morning football ritual. So pour one yourself and find out what’s happening today in Barça nation.
The alarm bells are surely ringing now, and what every culé took for granted for the past eleven years has now come back to slap us in the face. Lionel Messi, who just celebrated his eleventh year at Barça, has hinted that he might leave the club in the future. Let me repeat that once again; Lionel Messi, a La Masia made phenomenon who grew up to raid all records in football and rewrite FC Barcelona’s history, is uncertain of his future at the club he gave everything to.
While the players are busy with the international week, Xavi Hernandez attended his new football camp in Cairo, Egypt. The midfielder, who was honored to transfer his project to the north african country, used the conference to comment on the team’s latest performance. After the team bounced back with a win against Almería after suffering two consecutive league defeats, Barça suffered a lot of criticism on their performance and the new coach has been treated as bait for it all. “Luis Enrique’s trademark is to play well and win, that’s the philosophy at Barça,” said Xavi on Monday morning in Cairo. “It’s the same style with a few changes, but the philosophy hasn’t changed at all.”
“We would like to be at our best in every game and for that to happen as soon as possible… But we started the season with a new manager and new players. All the same, we are going about things the right way.” More from the Barça captain after the jump.
Only once the final whistle blew did the red haze start to fade from cule eyes. Looking at the scoreline, it was hard to fathom the bile and spite that had been spewed for the previous two hours. But as the rage started to subside, some questions started to come forward. Would Luis Suárez have been as effective if he had started the game against a fresh, hardworking and disciplined Almería side? Did two away games three days apart, including an unexpected overnight delay in Amsterdam, play a factor in Luis Enrique’s choice of lineups? The international break was put forward as a boon – no Barcelona games for Enrique to worry about – but these fixtures have always been more ache than break for Barça’s players, most of whom have tremendous responsibilities in their national teams.
The jury is still out for Luis Enrique’s first months in the Camp Nou hotseat. The grace period is over, and as ‘Lucho’ is facing his first crisis, many have come out to completely level him with criticism. Yet a man who is held in the highest esteem amongst culés, Pep Guardiola cast a vote of confidence for Lucho along with his vote in the Catalan Referendum on November 9th.
Breathe. In what was a tense and stressful afternoon, FC Barcelona successfully managed to comeback from a one goal deficit againt UD Almería to win the game and add three massive points to temporarily top the league. Today’s performance was far, far from good, and since both Sevilla and Valencia await the team after the international break, there is much to discuss and much to change. Neymar Jr. and Jordi Alba scored both goals for Barcelona from two amazing Luis Suárez crosses, while Almería’s goal was scored by Thievy Bifouma. Continue reading for more.
FC Barcelona coach, Luis Enrique spoke to the press ahead of the game against UD Almería and said he is focused to get the win with no exceptions. However, he knows that Almería this season “are an improved side with regards to last season.” and added that it will not be a walk in the park for the Catalans, “they will sit back and try to hit us on the counter,” adding that “they will make life difficult for us.”
It’s been a rough period for FC Barcelona after losing two consecutive games in La Liga and falling out of top spot. However, the team reacted well against Ajax after winning for the first time a UCL game in Amsterdam, with two goals from Lionel Messi in each half which brought his total to 71 goals – equalling Raul Gonzalez’ Champions League record. The coach was all smiles in the post press conference on Wednesday night and admitted that he was relieved to have qualified to the next round of the Champions League with two games in hand. “It is important to have qualified with two games in hand. I’d like to stress the way the players behaved. I have no complaints about their attitude tonight.” More from the coach after the jump.
I’m sure I have, but right now I cannot think of a bigger overreaction in the Barça nation than over the recent successive defeats, a sentiment I clearly share with Luis Enrique. “Everything is being questioned at the moment, I understand that, but I will remain faithful to my ideas. I will not change due to one loss, or many losses. We make judgments at the end of the season, on whether the objectives have been achieved. That is my way, and has always been at other clubs I have coached. I am not concerned about the mood, I am just focused on preparing my players. We look to improve on some things, and praise other things we did well. There is nothing else to do.” More after the jump.
Two successive defeats against Real Madrid and Celta de Vigo have sparked large amounts of criticism and dissatisfaction from the fans, and all was aimed at Luis Enrique. Josep Maria Bartomeu spoke on the Efectivament show on Esport3 and showed his support for Luis Enrique and his ideas, believing that he has what it takes to put FC Barcelona back on the right track. “Success will come,” the club’s president said. Continue reading for more.
The premier of the documentary “The Last Match”, based on his move to the club, may have been on FC Barcelona ground and with current FC Barcelona board members in attendance, but Johan Cruyff was as ever frank with his words. The crux of his comments was that the blame, which is absurd to even try assign after a couple of defeats (the horror!), does not lie with the new manager. “Barcelona had two coaches in nine years, and now three in three. There are more things going on that are not seen. There is no point to this social division…Luis Enrique has something in his favor. I signed him [in 1996], although they kicked me out and I could not coach him. He loves this sport. It is difficult to give advice to Luis Enrique. I am not inside, I cannot advise him.” More from the one time honorary president below.
Luis Enrique was in high spirits following the win on Wednesday in the Copa Catalunya game against RCD Espanyol; “The team was in absolute control of the game … I was very pleased with their attitude and the way they tried to go for the game. Matches like these help to get the players into the rhythm of playing games and becoming more important to the team.” More after the jump.
FC Barcelona manager Luis Enrique participated in a press conference before the La Liga game against Real Madrid. One of the most discussed topics was, of course, Luis Suárez. “Today I cannot play this game. But he will have some minutes for sure, how many I cannot say,” said Luis Enrique and added that for the player it is a big thing to join up finally with the team and get some minutes in such an important game. Referring to his past as Real Madrid player and the usual unpleasant welcome at the Bernabéu due to his transfer to Barcelona, the coach said,“Going as a coach and player is very different. Last year my visit there was very calm.” Speaking about his team, he mentioned that Sergio Busquets feels good. “He has trained with everyone, and in principle, is available without any problem.” Read on for more from Lucho.
El Clasico is always a special occasion to football fans, players and coaches. To play in the match between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona is a privilege, and to sit on a bench as a team manager is both a big responsibility and a reason to be proud. Tomorrow Luis Enrique, the FC Barcelona coach will debut at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium in this role.
Ever since the 3-0 win against Eibar where Lionel Messi showed his evergreen class on the field, there’s been talks around the Argentine refusing Luis Enrique’s orders to be subbed off. No matter how many times the coach has denied this story and that these stories are only mind games from the Madrid media ahead of Saturday’s clásico, it didn’t stop many football figures from criticising Leo. However, Tuesday’s Champions League encounter against Ajax proved that the coach was right after the four-time Ballon d’Or winner was subbed off after 65 minutes into the game. Messi made it even more clear after the match when he said, “Lots of things have been said, but when the boss needs to take me off, he takes me off, no problem.” More from Leo after the jump.
FC Barcelona manager Luis Enrique underlined during the usual prematch press conference that game 3 of the Champions League won’t be an easy match. “We will have to produce a complete performance to beat Ajax, a team of many strengths. Ajax are a well-structured side, one that knows how to attack, how to press. Last season they created many problems for Barcelona.” said the coach. He had more words of praise for tonight’s opponent and underlined that “Ajax’s positional play is very good. They can play short and long passes and they find solutions in all areas. They press in defence − they don’t hesitate − and counterattack really well.”