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, Garteh 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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Match Review: Deportivo Alavés 2-3 FC Barcelona B

Match Review: Deportivo Alavés 2-3 FC Barcelona B

Barcelona B managed to record their first away win yesterday, beating Alavés 2-3 in Vitoria, but the truth is that the scoreline should never have been so close. Eusebio’s team dominated against a clueless Alavés in the first half, and despite of the hosts having some chances, they managed to put themselves into a three-goal lead by halftime. The second half was another story, as the reserves completely lost control over the match, conceded two late goals, and saw the opposition miss a penalty right at the death, ensuring that they had to suffer in order to get a third consecutive win. They did though, and that’s all that matters. Read more after the break.

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Match Review: FC Barcelona 2-0 Athletic Club

Match Review: FC Barcelona 2-0 Athletic Club

Up until the 79th minute, this was probably one of the most frustrating, mentally exhausting FC Barcelona matches. Not because the performance was disappointing or ‘boring’  but because everything was being executed perfectly, everything but the final decisive touch. Lionel Messi managed to find Luis Enrique’s super sub, Neymar Jr., twice to secure another late win against the stubborn Lions. Three games, three wins, and three clean sheets. I’m happy.

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Match Review: FC Barcelona B 4-1 Real Zaragoza

Match Review: FC Barcelona B 4-1 Real Zaragoza

If anyone told you that Barcelona B would end up beating Zaragoza 4-1 in two weeks’ time of the opener at El Sadar, you would have probably thought the man was over confident, or blown away by last season’s extraordinary exploits. Yet that’s precisely what happened at the Miniestadi yesterday. Eusebio’s team not only beat a promotion hopeful, but they completely demolished Zaragoza. They did so with 10 absences, in the aftermath of a summer that saw many of the team’s stars depart. The storyline is just inspiring. What’s more exciting than the previously sloppy, chance-missing Dongou bagging a brace for the second week on the run, and Gerard Gumbau, some 19-year-old kid who had only previously played football in the Primera Catalana scoring seconds after he came on? These moments are moments only offered by Eusebio’s Barça B. Read more after the jump.

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Match Review: Villarreal CF 0-1 FC Barcelona

Match Review: Villarreal CF 0-1 FC Barcelona

It took 81 minutes, but Barcelona finally managed to break down a stubborn Villarreal side at El Madrigal last night. On the one hand, it was a familiar sight: the home team defending deep and compact, launching counterattacks into open space behind Barça’s high line. But the Barcelona side that met Villarreal on the pitch today was distinctly unlike anything seen in the last two seasons. They created numerous chances against an excellent defensive side, looking relatively composed and solid at the back, before a youth player and out-and-out striker managed to net the game-winner. All new, all exciting.

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Match Review: FC Barcelona B 3-1 CE Sabadell

Match Review: FC Barcelona B 3-1 CE Sabadell

After a making significant improvement on last week’s average performance in Pamplona, Barcelona B was able to take its first win of the season with a 3-1 win against the fellow Catalans of Sabadell. It was a very eventful night at Barcelona’s Miniestadi, as Sabadell went ahead, were then reduced to ten players, Barça B managed to win two penalties but converted just one, and finally Dongou turned the game on its head for the hosts. Definitely an enjoyable showing from Eusebio’s men, that leaves a lot of promise for the long season ahead.

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Match Review: FC Barcelona 3:0 Elche CF

Match Review: FC Barcelona 3:0 Elche CF

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.

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Match Review: CA Osasuna 2-0 FC Barcelona B

Match Review: CA Osasuna 2-0 FC Barcelona B

Barcelona B’s 2014/15 Liga Adelante season began with a defeat at El Sadar against promotion contenders Osasuna. What the reserves showed on the pitch at Pamplona must have surely left coach Eusebio with plenty to ponder. The team was lackluster, lackeing the grit and determination to match the hosts’ energy. Eusebio’s side created very few chances, and was forced to play with a backline that was totally in shambles. Avoiding relegation will be a challenge this season. Read more…

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Match Review: OGC Nice 1-1 FC Barcelona

Match Review: OGC Nice 1-1 FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona had to settle for a 1-1 draw at the French Riviera following a match in which the blaugrana had two very different halves. Luis Enrique had the chance to experiment around with players and tactics, and it is certain that the coach wasn’t left disappointed, as the match gave him plenty of food for thought. Read more after the jump…

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Match Review: Recreativo 0-1 FC Barcelona

Match Review: Recreativo 0-1 FC Barcelona

Luis Enrique’s coaching spell at FC Barcelona kicked off with a narrow win over Recreativo de Huelva thanks to a goal from Joan Román. Enrique introduced all 23 players that were called up for the club’s first friendly game as the players start their journey towards regaining full match fitness. The game was far from entertaining, but the time will come when fans expect beautiful football and it is not now. The squad was mainly made up of Barça B players who will aim to impress Enrique for a shot at joining the first team.

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Match Review: FC Barcelona 2-2 Getafe CF

Match Review: FC Barcelona 2-2 Getafe CF

It was a depressing afternoon for Culés as the team’s La Liga hopes came to an end after a poor draw against Getafe CF. The Camp Nou mourned the death of Tito Vilanova with the players wearing a tribute jersey for their former coach. Lionel Messi and Alexis Sánchez scored for Barça, but Angel Lafita was able to equalize twice for Getafe. A rare trophy-less season seemed inevitable ever since the defeat against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final, but some fans still hoped for more.

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Match Review: Villarreal CF 2-3 FC Barcelona

Match Review: Villarreal CF 2-3 FC Barcelona

A lot of desire, a healthy slice of luck and perhaps a dash of the mythical. In the match following the painful passing of Tito Vilanova, the clock read 55 minutes and Barça were two goals down, seemingly on the road to further suffering. There was never a lack of effort and drive tonight, but Villarreal not only matched FC Barcelona’s intensity, they surpassed it. But fortunes change so quickly in football.

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Match Review: FC Barcelona B 2-1 Girona FC

Match Review: FC Barcelona B 2-1 Girona FC

Barça B extended their unbeaten run to eight matches with a hard-fought victory against Girona at the Miniestadi. Eusebio’s team had to come back from behind, after conceding a first-half penalty, but the task proved easy for the leaders of the Juvenil A, Adama and Munir, who came on as substitutes in the second half, changing the shape of the game completely. The win puts Barça B on 54 points, which places them right in the upper echelons of the league standards, in 3rd place, just six points behind leaders Deportivo, who have a game in hand.

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Copa Del Rey Final Review: FC Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid

Copa Del Rey Final Review: FC Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid

The Copa del Rey final kicked off as a potential saving grace to a disappointing FC Barcelona week, and what might prove to be a disappointing season, at La Mestalla in Valencia, and ended with a painful loss.

With this defeat, the chances of winning any title has dwindled down to La Liga, where the team trails in 3rd behind their Champions League vanquishers, Atlético Madrid, and tonight’s winners, Real Madrid. It has been a heartbreaking week indeed, yet tonight’s game was even more so because there were moments when a fan couldn’t be faulted in believing that it could have turned out better.

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Match Review: Granada CF 1-0 FC Barcelona

Match Review: Granada CF 1-0 FC Barcelona

Yesterday, Granada CF beat FC Barcelona for the first time since 1972, dealing a massive blow to Barça’s hopes of winning La Liga. As it stands, the blaugrana sit in third place, and with the toughest schedule of the top three in the last five games of the season, they are odds-on to stay there. If Barça were to finish bronze, it would be the first time since the 2007-08 season, well known as Frank Rijkaard’s last year and the year before Pep Guardiola came in and cleaned house. The Barça players have not given up yet, and the fans certainly shouldn’t – but maybe, just maybe, Gerardo Martino has.

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Match Review: Atlético Madrid 1-0 FC Barcelona

Match Review: Atlético Madrid 1-0 FC Barcelona

And finally there is a victor. Individually, collectively, FC Barcelona were utterly dire, completely dreadful and wholly undeserving of progressing. Readers here know I always credit the opposition in defeat; usually it is what is merited as defeats typically take two to tango. I applauded Ajax, I applauded Real Sociedad, and of course tonight I applaud Atlético Madrid.

However, tonight Barça’s ineptitude played a significant role. Atleti weren’t that special tonight. Yes, they ran tirelessly, were dogged and aggressive. Their shape was solid and their positions disciplined, as they always are. But Barça were awful: No precision, no movement, no sharpness, minimal spirit, no focus, no control. Frankly they looked flustered, dazed and rather confused. Atlético’s goals and chances came from the most basic of ploys. When Sergio Busquets (90% completion) and Andrés Iniesta (84% completion) are misplacing five yard passes, when barely anybody could get past a man, when Lionel Messi only attempts three take-ons and less than 40 passes, something is very wrong. When that is supplemented with poor defending, what chance was there? Defeat is one thing; this was another. I barely flinched during the Bayern massacre because I knew it was entirely unavoidable. But tonight Barça were not outclassed, they were outfought. Tonight Atlético only had to do basic things right, because their opponents did nothing right at all.

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Match Review: FC Barcelona 1-1 Atlético Madrid

Match Review: FC Barcelona 1-1 Atlético Madrid

And once again there is no victor. Two moments of magic were all that separated two gargantuan performances that will be praised in completely contrasting ways. FC Barcelona gave it absolutely all they had; yet in another very new-age Barça-Atletí flavored meeting the final score read 1-1. Of the encounters this season, tonight Atlético most embodied the ghost of Diego Simeone the footballer: Fouling consistently and physically. German referee Felix Brych was delighted to produce the first yellow, but when a second was more than warranted, the man in the middle cowered. Leo Messi had a quiet night thanks to his man-marking shadows, but the remainder of the side performed admirably and despite a godly Andrés Iniesta and terrific showings from Sergio Busquets, Neymar and Alexis Sánchez, the win was out of grasp.

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Match Review: RCD Espanyol 0-1 FC Barcelona

Match Review: RCD Espanyol 0-1 FC Barcelona

It was an ugly match, with moments of brilliance few and far in between. Espanyol hosted FC Barcelona at Estadi Cornella-El Prat in a highly physical and tense encounter, which stayed unsettled till the last 15 minutes, although there weren’t many signs before that of the fixture ever ending well.

When Barça were able to reach the opposition’s goal, their attempts were wasted, otherwise, they were just bullied and beaten off the ball in plain sight of the officials. The match was a counter-tactic to the one employed by Celta Vigo, whom were rightly hailed as an example of attacking play and sportsmanship.

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Match Review: FC Barcelona 3-0 Celta Vigo

Match Review: FC Barcelona 3-0 Celta Vigo

Yesterday FC Barcelona defeated Celta Vigo 3-0, moving up to second place as Real Madrid lost later on in the evening at Sevilla. It should have been a cause for celebration, but the victory was deeply bittersweet, tainted by the image of Víctor Valdés crying as he was stretchered off the field with a torn ACL, presumably never to don the blaugrana kit again. The heroic keeper has done wonders to get Barcelona this far in the title race, but now the Catalans will have to make it to the finish line without him. With eight games left in the season, Barça are one point out of first place. Win out and they take the title: It’s a daunting task, but against Celta Vigo on Wednesday, Barcelona took one step closer to their objective.

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