Copa del Rey Match Review: FC Barcelona vs SD Huesca

Copa del Rey Match Review: FC Barcelona vs SD Huesca

Not much opposition was expected from SD Huesca for the return leg of the Copa del Rey round of 32 encounter. Indeed, with a four-goal cushion and having recently dropped points in the league to Getafe, FC Barcelona manager Luis Enrique’s thinking was obviously more about resting up for the long La Liga/CdR/Champions League marathon ahead, rather than use Lionel Messi to clobber some pretty weak opposition.

Wisely, Lucho opted to leave most of his first team to watch from the stands. Of the sixteen players called up, he asked only eleven first-team players to suit up. Even Martín Montoya got a much-deserved start. Heavens!

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Barça B-Mirandés: Reserves self-destruct (1-3)

Barça B-Mirandés: Reserves self-destruct (1-3)

In football, the ball never forgives. If you fail to put the ball into the net, you get punished. It is as simple as that. Yet Barcelona B seem to be so deeply confused at this time that they can’t even do basic things right. The match against Mirandés on Saturday was a true disaster. For all of the team’s good efforts in attack, there were tons of missed chances and a catalogue of inexplicable defensive errors. In essence, Barça B managed to throw away a match that could have very easily been theirs. Mirandés may have had the lead from early on, but once Dongou equalised it all seemed to be going the right way. No. Somehow, Mirandés scored two more goals to triumph in Barcelona. Read more…

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Feo against Getafe, a game to forget

Feo against Getafe, a game to forget

On a cold and rainy night on the outskirts of the Spanish capital, FC Barcelona huffed and puffed away fruitlessly for 90 minutes in an ugly (feo) 0-0 draw with Getafe. The home side made 18 interceptions, 21 clearances and smart fouls in an all out defensive display that limited the number of saves to 2 for keeper Vicente Guaita. The most problematic element is Getafe managed all that without too much fuss. Barça should have had a penalty, though Getafe could claim one as well, but anyone holding their breath expecting a La Liga referee to do his job competently may as well arrange the funeral right now. When going up against this hideously difficult defensive ploy, a penalty or a free-kick hit just an inch lower can be the best panacea, but still not an excuse. The performance wasn’t good. Barça have been going up against this tactic for six or seven years now with increasing frequency, so it’s not like Luis Enrique and the boys should have expected anything different. This was an instantly forgettable match with nothing worth noting. What remains obvious is Luis Enrique’s Barça very much remains a work in progress.

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Yes Barça won, but… a preview to the review

Yes Barça won, but… a preview to the review

Unable to give the effort I desire on reviewing FC Barcelona’s 3-1 victory of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) yesterday evening, I will offer a snippet of what I will have finished tomorrow. Because I am never an over-reactionary, do not hold any sort of agenda and gladly change my opinion when proven otherwise, I have no issue being clear that Barça’s performance yesterday evening did not impress me. Barça’s performance, as in the collective system, not Javier Mascherano’s top-draw pass, Luis Suárez’s sublime assist or Neymar’s glorious goal.

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Girona-Barça B: Halilović with the comeback (0-1)

Girona-Barça B: Halilović with the comeback (0-1)

Golazos are not usually just great goals. They are usually goals which are worth the goalscorer’s weight in gold. Just remind yourself of Andrés Iniesta’s goals in London and Johannesburg. Barcelona B was able to taste victory for the first time in almost two months at the home of the Liga Adelante leaders thanks to a true golazo by Alen Halilović. The midday kick-off of the Catalan derby of the Liga Adelante was rare enough, but the Croat’s goal was a rare moment of sheer brilliance in this league, that gifted three points to Barcelona B. Read more…

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Rakitić shines in Huesca win

Rakitić shines in Huesca win

Yesterday’s game was a good opportunity for Luis Enrique to give several members of the squad playing time, whether needed for confidence or development, and he did just that. A 4-0 win against SD Huesca paves the road towards the Copa del Rey’s next round, and watching the players who don’t get to play much enjoy themselves and win comfortably was certainly a pleasant sight.

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Match Review: FC Barcelona B 1-2 Albacete Balompié

Match Review: FC Barcelona B 1-2 Albacete Balompié

Barcelona B seem to have hit yet another period of the ‘autumn curse’. Eusebio’s side lost to a valiant Albacete side at the Miniestadi despite going in front just 16 minutes into the match, with the visitors making a brilliant comeback within the space of four minutes to inflict yet another defeat for Barça B, who are now 6 matchdays without a win in the Liga Adelante, and falling steadily down the table. Read more…

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Oupa against APOEL

Oupa against APOEL

Two hatricks and two significant records surpassed by Lionel Messi act as the fulcrum to Barça nation’s improved mood. In another performance that saw Luis Enrique play a more classical system with forwards starting wide then cutting in and midfielders centralized, FC Barcelona sparkled in dispatching a usually stodgy APOEL side at home. The Cypriots offered nothing going forward, but this is a side that until last night only conceded a goal a game and made mega-bucks side Paris Saint-Germaine (PSG) work-hard for both theirs. Messi was at his ultimate best, putting so many others in goal scoring positions while also scoring himself and tracking back in defense. Luis Suárez showed off his trickery and genuine football genius scoring his first goal with a trademark move and finish. The interplay between two of the world’s true football wizards only foreshadows many moments of wonder to come.

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Match Review: FC Barcelona 5:1 Sevilla FC

Match Review: FC Barcelona 5:1 Sevilla FC

Like all stunning moments in life, the Barcelona-Sevilla game yesterday made us reexamine what we take as given. At the core of it all was Lionel Messi, and at the core of Messi is one question: “How the hell did he do that?” But there were other questions too, like: “Wait, so that guy with the goofy smile being lifted in the air is the one who’s going to leave Barcelona?” or “Weren’t Sevilla supposed to be good?” or “Weren’t we supposed to be terrible?” My question, admittedly, would have to be “How do I write about him?”

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Match Review: SD Ponferradina 4-4 FC Barcelona B

Match Review: SD Ponferradina 4-4 FC Barcelona B

This kind of scoreline is usually not a good one for commentary. With this kind of scoreline, even a neutral would sit back and watch a game of the Liga Adelante. Yet from a Barcelona B perspective, the game against Ponferradina was both the best, and the worst example of how to manage a two-goal lead away from home. Eusebio’s men came back from behind to earn a two goal lead twice, but somehow Ponferradina managed to equalise within the space of two minutes. Read more…

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Match Review: FC Barcelona B 1-1 CD Numància

Match Review: FC Barcelona B 1-1 CD Numància

Barcelona B’s winless run is set to run for yet another week after the reserves drew against Numància on Saturday. Eusebio’s team were fortunate to go into halftime with the score at 0-0, as Numància completely dominated, but after the restart the hoststook control of the match, managing to equalise the visitors’ early goal and having lots of chances to get their first three points in the league in over a month. There was no reward for their efforts though, meaning that the blaugrana will have to spend another week away from winning ways. Read more…

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Match Review: Real Betis 1-0 FC Barcelona B

Match Review: Real Betis 1-0 FC Barcelona B

Barcelona B’s problems seem to have no end. The Blaugrana reserves narrowly lost to Betis on Saturday, and took their winless run to three matches. It was also a third consecutive match without scoring for Barça B. Eusebio’s team seemed to run out of ideas in the creative department, and relied on flashes of brilliance from Adama and Sandro to create danger for Antonio Adán’s goal. Betis dominated the match throughout, and eventually got a deserved win in a heated affair.

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Match Review: UD Almería 1-2 FC Barcelona

Match Review: UD Almería 1-2 FC Barcelona

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.

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Match Review: AFC Ajax 0-2 FC Barcelona

Match Review: AFC Ajax 0-2 FC Barcelona

A composed and controlled second half, the crescendo being Lionel Messi’s second goal of the match, was enough to give FC Barcelona victory in Amsterdam. With Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) defeating APOEL in the other tie, Barça have now already advanced to the next stage of the competition and need only battle PSG for top spot. It wasn’t superb by any means; Ajax had their moments too, but a much assured showing after the break gave the home team almost no chance of getting back into it. While Luis Suárez looking fatigued, Neymar being bullied about and the midfield (save Xavi) not supporting high enough, it was once again Messi orchestrating the show.

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Match Review: FC Barcelona B 0-0 Sporting de Gijón

Match Review: FC Barcelona B 0-0 Sporting de Gijón

A hard-worked draw for Barça B. In a game of two faces, Eusebio’s team survived an incredibly intense first half from Sporting de Gijón and then went on to search for the win with some improved play in the second half, yet wastefulness and the referee kept the hosts at bay, prolonging the visitors’ unbeaten streak. Barcelona B, now two games without a win, will definitely take heart from the fact that they managed another clean sheet. Read more…

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Match Review: FC Barcelona 0-1 RC Celta de Vigo

Match Review: FC Barcelona 0-1 RC Celta de Vigo

Wastefulness is one of things you never want to have when playing a game of football. You know that you may not get many chances, but those that you do get you finish well. What happens if you get 19 shots, 15 of those being clear-cut chances? Are you allowed to waste them? Of course not. If you do, you are punished. The ball never forgives. If you make mistakes, it stings you. That was pretty much what happened with Barcelona in the match against Celta. The Blaugranas were looking for a response after the clásico, but ended up wasting a catalogue of chances and losing all three points against a valiant Celta side that did basic things well to inflict a second straight league defeat on the Catalans.

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Match Review: CD Tenerife 2-0 FC Barcelona B

Match Review: CD Tenerife 2-0 FC Barcelona B

The key to participating successfully in a 42-round championship is to improve as time goes on. For Barcelona B, this doesn’t seem to be the case. The reserves showed signs of nearing top form with last week’s 4-1 win over Alcorcón, but were unrecognisable in Tenerife, putting on a performance that can only be compared for lack of quality with the hands-down opening day defeat at Osasuna. Eusebio’s men played second fiddle to the hosts throughout the match, and inevitably ended up losing to a team which had only won twice in 9 matches. Read more…

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Match Review: Real Madrid CF 3-1 FC Barcelona

Match Review: Real Madrid CF 3-1 FC Barcelona

Despite the star-studded rosters out on the pitch, last night’s Clásico was fundamentally a battle between the managers. Carlo Ancelotti unquestionably made short work of Luis Enrique in the Asturian’s first time in charge of a Clásico, but it is worth looking back to Ancelotti’s own debut almost exactly a year ago for comparison. Carlo alluded to the event in his pre-match presser – he famously decided to start Sergio Ramos in midfield only to find Lionel Messi shifted out to the right wing. The surprise move went fundamentally against the current of Ancelotti’s first two months at Madrid, in which he had been painstakingly rebuilding Mourinho’s shattered team into a balanced, possession-comfortable side in his own image. Having finally established the blueprint of his system, it was a rash move to adjust it too radically for the Clásico and backfired significantly. Almost exactly one year later, Luis Enrique fell into a similar trap. But Ancelotti’s Madrid, now in their second season and well-established as the fearsome technical side their manager had envisioned, punished those mistakes ruthlessly. Read on after the jump for a look back at the game.

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Match Preview: Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona

Match Preview: Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona

It’s here, it’s time. They come around every year, twice at least, but each time it feels as big if not bigger than the one before. FC Barcelona – Real Madrid, Real Madrid – FC Barcelona, el derbí now el clásico. For Carlo and co, it’s a chance to narrow the gap to a single point. For Lucho and the gang, an opportunity to streak seven ahead. For both, it’s the ultimate test of superiority, a battle between the two best collections of footballers on the planet. Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suárez, James Rodríguez, Neymar, Gareth Bale, Andrés Iniesta, Luka Modrić, Xavi Hernández, Toni Kroos, Sergio Busquets, Sergio Ramos. How much Saturday’s result will mean in the long run is unknown, but right now it feels all-important. But perhaps most importantly it’s a guaranteed 90 minutes of bona fide genius on display for an estimated 400 million set of eyeballs. It’s el gran clásico.

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Match Review: FC Barcelona 3-1 AFC Ajax

Match Review: FC Barcelona 3-1 AFC Ajax

It genuinely is different watching live. I was fortunate enough this evening to enjoy the match in prime seats and literally wouldn’t have had a better view of the action. At the same time, I didn’t take notes so forgive me some possible inaccuracies and omissions. So, here goes.

An Ajax goal in the 88th minute made Barça unnecessarily sweat before yet another fantastically taken Sandro Ramírez goal made the result sure. A final 3-1 score-line is far more representative of the match pattern than 2-1 would have been, with FC Barcelona dominating Ajax entirely until Luis Enrique made the big changes in the second half. And as a side note, come on Lucho, telling the public the Real Madrid match was entirely out of your mind when removing Neymar, Lionel Messi and Andrés Iniesta is borderline insulting. That’s why you did it, it’s what you should have done it, and what happened afterwards is not a reflection of decisions taken at the time. That reflection being Barça considerably relaxed in the final half hour, eventually conceding a messy goal. But almost as importantly, the response was quick and fierce, a most positive element.

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Match Review: FC Barcelona B 4-1 AD Alcorcón

Match Review: FC Barcelona B 4-1 AD Alcorcón

Barcelona B had been seeking a victory for over a month before their match against Alcorcón. Against the team from Madrid, Barça B not only returned to winning ways, but did so in style. The reserves, led by an inspired Adama Traoré, put on their best performance of the season and put 4 past helpless Alcorcón, whose defenders were blown apart by the high quality football exhibited by the Blaugranas. Read more…

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Match Review: FC Barcelona 3-0 SD Eibar

Match Review: FC Barcelona 3-0 SD Eibar

One analyzes the process, not the result. It’s a widespread, deeply ingrained yet erroneous mindset doing it the other way around. I didn’t fret for one second tonight that FC Barcelona would walk away winners. There was nothing frustrating or lacking in the first half, it was simply sport, where not everything comes off and inches and microseconds may as well be miles and hours. That’s why one trusts the process. Barça were exceptional in the opening 20 to 25 minutes tonight. One could highlight the ferocity of ball recovery (certainly fulfilling Pep’s 6 second rule), relentless pressing, the speed of passing and movement and several outrageous mig tocs, and all would be correct. But really it was the steely focus, the intense concentration and unmissable pursuit of excellence. It took a bit of luck in the first and then a lot of class in the second to eventually slay a commendable Eibar 3-0.

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Match Review: Real Racing de Santander 0-0 FC Barcelona B

Match Review: Real Racing de Santander 0-0 FC Barcelona B

Barcelona B were not able to earn a win at El Sardinero on Saturday, but the feeling after the draw against Racing de Santander surely must have been that it was a point won rather than two lost. Eusebio’s men were outplayed for the most part, and although they did create some danger in the first half, they played second fiddle to the hosts. The second half saw Racing throw everything at Barça B, but Adrián Ortolá was in top form, managing to keep his first clean sheet of the season. Improvement is definitely required from the reserves, but as long as they keep collecting points here and there, they will keep themselves clear of trouble. Read more…

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Match Review: FC Barcelona B 0-1 CD Lugo

Match Review: FC Barcelona B 0-1 CD Lugo

Barcelona B failed to return to winning ways Saturday as they ended up losing a match they dominated against Lugo. Eusebio’s team by no means played a spectacular match, but were still dominant and had the best chances, as well as two goals annulled for offside. The visitors defended well and took advantage of one of their few chances to run away with all three points. The Blaugranas are now three matches without a win, but are still comfortable in mid-table. Read more…

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Match Review: Rayo Vallecano 0-2 FC Barcelona

Match Review: Rayo Vallecano 0-2 FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona returned to the top of league with 19 points in hand after a comfortable 2-0 win against Rayo Vallecano. Both goals were scored in quick succession during the first half, with the first from Lionel Messi and the second from Neymar Jr. With a seventh successive clean sheet in La Liga, Barcelona became the first team in the history of the league to not concede for the first seven games of the campaign.

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Match Review: FC Barcelona 6-0 Granada CF

Match Review: FC Barcelona 6-0 Granada CF

It’s been a very long time since culés last enjoyed a home match so much. The feelings we had today can only be found years back, in those emphatic wins of the Guardiola era, like the 8-0 thrashing of Osasuna in 2011. Barça not only managed to put six past a helpless Granada, but showed that the mentality in place will carry the team forward. Just three days after failing to register a single shot on target against Málaga, Luis Enrique’s men came out hungrier, more determined and more passionate to put on their best showing of the season to date. That’s what we want our team to be like. Read more…

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Match Review: Málaga CF 0-0 FC Barcelona

Match Review: Málaga CF 0-0 FC Barcelona

Let’s be clear: No detail about the match at La Rosaleda yesterday bears recapping. Nor is there any point to picking apart the performances of individual players – by and large, Barça’s front six were terrible, and Málaga’s defenders were excellent. Málaga put on the performance of a lifetime, with Roberto Rosales and Sergio Sánchez particularly deserving of praise, while Barça’s players failed at the most basic levels. Passes were misplaced, players were constantly dispossessed, and the overall tempo of the game was sluggish and uninspired. None of which bears analysis – these games happen. The more interesting question is what Luis Enrique does in the face of such challenges.

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Match Review: Levante UD 0-5 FC Barcelona

Match Review: Levante UD 0-5 FC Barcelona

Ten minutes into the game, it was a familiar scene. Barcelona were away from home on a shoddy pitch, patiently working the ball back and forth as they tried to break down the two banks of five men defending deep in front of the opposition goal. Then it happened – a stray pass in midfield fell to Levante, who broke quickly into the spaces left behind the fullbacks. Down Barcelona’s left, evading a desperate challenge from the exposed centre-back, then crossing to the unmarked man on the opposite flank. An easy goal – Barcelona have seen it too many times over the past two seasons.

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Match Review: FC Barcelona B 0-1 UE Llagostera

Match Review: FC Barcelona B 0-1 UE Llagostera

In football, you always have to work to get results. Matches are never won before kick-off. Perhaps that’s what Barcelona B’s players were thinking when they took to the pitch to face Llagostera yesterday. But when the match started they were faced by reality: They had no answers for neither Llagostera’s brilliantly orchestrated defensive tactics, or for their venomous counterattacks. The front line had a day off, and the defence made mistakes of the kind that have been unseen for months now. Defeat was inevitable for Barça B yesterday, despite Sergi Samper’s spirited performance in the pivot role. It is a rule that when your forwards are absent, getting goals is hard. Read more…

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Match Review: FC Barcelona 1-0 APOEL FC

Match Review: FC Barcelona 1-0 APOEL FC

It was a match of minimal thrills or spills. FC Barcelona put in considerable effort packed with sharp touches and energetic movement to try and unlock a stubborn APOEL side who appeared more or less content losing 1-0 after going down within in the first half hour. Okay fine, they had a corner in the second half, two threatening second half attacks and a last minute scare. There has been chatter of new schemes and radical shifts in Barça’s system under Luis Enrique, but I call wishful eyes creating a perception of want rather than is. The sample size is too small to make sweeping declarations. The reality is, one can have whomever on the bench, but when a team plays compact and narrow with all eleven men behind the ball, Barça and every other team on the planet will struggle to fashion double digit proper chances. Not to mention, that as much as Barça is a proactive side, often an opponent forces a degree of reactivity. But Gerard Piqué scored and while a 1-0 victory isn’t flashy, it provides the same number of points as a 3 or 4 goal margin. If teams want to come to Camp Nou and not lose yet still end up losing, Luis Enrique need not complain.

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