3-1 victory sees Barça comfortably reach Copa final

3-1 victory sees Barça comfortably reach Copa final

Villarreal huffed and puffed, sprinkled in a little hacking and stomping, and Barça won 3-1 anyways. The game was effectively over before it got going when Neymar put Barcelona ahead three minutes in. At the end of the day, it comes down to basic financial arithmetic: Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suárez versus Ikechukwu Uche, Luciano Vietto, Denis Cheryshev. Whilst Villarreal gave it their all and had a flurry of chances in a first half against an opponent that clearly knew they were 4-1 ahead on aggregate, superior caliber creates higher quality opportunities which leads to a greater frequency of goals. With a smiling Sergio Busquets on the bench, who despite what looked a horrific ankle injury reportedly only suffered a sprain, Barça qualify for the Copa del Rey final as everyone expected they would and with no damage done (fingers crossed still, you never know).

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Barça B-Mallorca: Close but…

Barça B-Mallorca: Close but…

In football, you sometimes get those days on which the universe seems to be conspiring against you. Those terrible, horrible days on which nothing seems to be working for you. Barcelona B’s match against Mallorca at the Miniestadi on Saturday was certainly one of those days. Jordi Vinyals’ men found themselves two goals down after conceding two first half goals in quick succession, but still had the mental capacity to fight back and bring the match level. However, a late and highly controversial penalty and a magisterial free-kick condemned the hosts to yet another defeat.

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Barça say goodbye to February with a win over Granada

Barça say goodbye to February with a win over Granada

The dreaded February has finally come to an end. FC Barcelona will now depart Andalusia with a 3-1 away win against Granada CF, a fixture that ended in defeat last year for Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino’s side. The team is now a point away from La Liga’s top spot as we all await Real Madrid’s game tomorrow against Villarreal CF, hoping that either the Yellow Submarines pull off an upset or at least go into Wednesday’s Copa del Rey game exhausted.

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An opportunity spurned but still an advantage earned

An opportunity spurned but still an advantage earned

An imperial first half followed by a bumbling second gave life to a tie that should be dead and put to bed. Given the palpable ease of the first 45, it was a poor showing to concede that extent of control to Manchester City and sit back, knowing City’s goal was only the next chance away. Even when Gaël Clichy was sent off following two clumsy (and deserved) bookings Barça didn’t put the home side under enough pressure. Then Lionel Messi threw away Pablo Zabaleta’s gift of a penalty to encapsulate an undeserving second half performance. Winning away from home is always the goal, yet tonight feels an opportunity blown. I’m genuinely disappointed with Luis Enrique tonight for not reacting appropriately to what were the two obvious problem areas. You obviously overwhelmingly fancy the blaugrana to see out the 2-1 advantage but The Citizens walk off this evening a happier side than they should be.

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Llagostera-Barça B: Reserves blown out (1-0)

Llagostera-Barça B: Reserves blown out (1-0)

Barça B may have a new coach, but getting rid of old habits is so much harder than sacking a coach. Jordi Vinyals’ team was every bit the team that was often embarrassed during Eusebio’s time against Llagostera today, and inevitably the reserves’ new coach tasted defeat in his first match on the road. His players simply played worse than the rival.

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Barça B – Alavés: Vinyals’ first point (0-0)

Barça B – Alavés: Vinyals’ first point (0-0)

Half a step forward for Jordi Vinyals’ Barça B. The reserves played an acceptable brand of football for a Barcelona side and got a point that might prove useful in this incredibly tight fight against relegation. Vinyals’ hand in the side was clearly evident, from the team selection to the tactics, and one can definitely say that the first (and often unreliable) first impression is positive.

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Athletic Club-Barcelona: Esto es Barça!

Athletic Club-Barcelona: Esto es Barça!

The Barcelona team we watched last night at San Mamés was a pure joy to watch. Credit to Athletic for making Barça work to a resounding 2-5 victory at a ground where the blaugranas hadn’t won since 2011. It also has to be noted that Barça’s defence didn’t have the best of nights. Yet the team’s quality was there, standing tall and imposing over La Catedral, like a ghost haunting. No matter how much Ernesto Valverde’s spirited troops huffed and puffed on yesterday’s cold night at the Basque Country, there was only ever going to be one winner. Barça simply gave that impossible sense of being untouchable. Read more…

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Sabadell-Barça B: Convincing Victory in an Electric Match (1-4)

Sabadell-Barça B: Convincing Victory in an Electric Match (1-4)

This weekend took a different turn from the past few weeks for the blaugrana youngsters as they managed to convincingly grab the three points at play in the Catalan regional derby against Sabadell. This gave Eusebio’s young men a push up to the 15th position of the classification in the Liga Adelante while they await the result of CD Lugo’s match on Sunday, who in case of a win take the Barcelonese contingent a level down to 16th position. The confrontation started out in a very open way, yet Barça B were more effective and efficient in front of goal and took over the tie bit by bit. For full details on the match read more…

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Something seems to be happening at Barça

Something seems to be happening at Barça

Rarely in football do you sincerely think “that was bloody brilliant”. Obviously I’m not referring to the second half (except for Arda Turan’s wonderful moment of theatre), but that first half was one of wonderful ebb and flow. It started with a bang, then an elegant rebuttal, an unsurprising controversy, a swift reply and finally it ended with a bang. Instead of being called for a clear handball, Jordi Alba burst the length of the field to superbly assist Neymar’s winner on a night the Brazilian sparkled. Down 2-3 at the half (2-4 on aggregate), Neymar finally had enough of the relentless fouling, got into Gabi’s face and then stood up to Fernando Torres. Eventually that concluded with Gabi being sent off during the break and viewers needing a double take when Atlético took to the field curiously a man down.

I must say, there’s been few firmer admirers and supporters of Atletí but lately it feels things are getting nasty. The soldier “never say die” mentality is shifting into a bit of a sore loser routine. The Atlético guys seem to genuinely believe they’re being wronged despite cynical and excessive physical fouls that are blatantly obvious. Whether a direct consequence or not, it was poetic that referee Gil Manzano had to ask for a new disappearing spray can with 10 minutes still to spare. He blew over thirty fouls and distributed 13 yellow cards (10 to Atlétio Madrid) as well as 2 red cards. Barça were unable to beat Atletí in six attempts last year, they’ve now won three times in barely over two weeks with an aggregate score-line of 7-3. Something seems to be happening at FC Barcelona.

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Context and clean sheets: a look at Elche-Barcelona

Context and clean sheets: a look at Elche-Barcelona

As the final whistle blew on Barcelona’s 0-6 thrashing of Elche, several people noted that the scoreline was misleading out of context. Indeed, Elche attacked decently and defended well, while Barcelona were lackluster for 50 minutes and only broke the game open with goals off a set piece and a penalty. The goals only started to flow once Fayçal Fajr received his second yellow in the 57th minute, allowing Messi and Neymar to run rampant against 10 men. All of which is true, of course. But two things stand out to me in that line of thinking. First, if you were unable to enjoy the show of samba and smiles put on by Barça’s brilliant duo in the last half hour in Elche, you should stop reading this piece and go back to kicking puppies and pissing in flower beds. Second, and more seriously, is this tricky notion of context, the idea that some numbers are misleading and others aren’t, which I think bears more exploration.

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Barça B-Recreativo: Light at the end of the tunnel (3-1)

Barça B-Recreativo: Light at the end of the tunnel (3-1)

A win at last. Barcelona B put an end to a miserable five match losing run with a well-deserved 3-1 win over Recreativo today at the Miniestadi, the team’s first at home since October 19th, and for now, Eusebio’s men can sleep with a little more tranquility. On Munir’s return to the reserves, Eusebio’s men beat all the absences and played a game of good football against a direct rival, and led by the ‘rabbit out of the hat’ (aka Juan Cámara) they were able to get a result that allows them to set their sights on putting the relegation battle behind them for good. Read more…

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Neymar, Suárez, Messi – Barça beat Atlético 3-1

Neymar, Suárez, Messi – Barça beat Atlético 3-1

That did not look a team in the midst of mutiny. FC Barcelona put in their best performance of the season, in particular with a sensational first half that at the very least merited the two goal advantage. Atlético Madrid certainly overstepped with their physical play, it got dirty, and only through the incompetence of La Liga officiating finished the game with all eleven men on the pitch. It was that same ineptitude from Undiano Mallenco that also gifted the visitors with a chance for points. At the end however, Barça matched Atletí intensity and very deservedly walked off the Camp Nou pitch worthy winners.

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Leganés-Barça B: No end to the crisis (2-0)

Leganés-Barça B: No end to the crisis (2-0)

Nobody had great expectations from Barcelona B for today’s game against Leganés. The way last season’s third placed team have fallen from grace is just spectacular, and three consecutive defeats in the league didn’t create any high hopes. We just expected Eusebio’s men to finally react, but in the end we just got a typical Barcelona B performance of the 2014/15 season: soulless and utterly lacking in creativity. Read on for more.

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Barça B-Las Palmas: Free fall continued (0-2)

Barça B-Las Palmas: Free fall continued (0-2)

New Year, same old story for Barça B. The reserves surely had one of their toughest challenges in their hands with the opponent being the league leader, but one would still expect Eusebio’s men to make a notable effort. The league leaders left Barcelona with three points in the bag after a game during which they barely had to stretch their feet to overcome the tame challenge presented by the hosts. Eusebio’s team seemed lost in space once more, with the players seemingly coaching themselves against a rival that came to the Miniestadi with a clear aim and an even clearer plan. Read more…

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A match for the misfiring and maligned

A match for the misfiring and maligned

To most viewers, FC Barcelona thumping the 19th-placed team in La Liga 5-0 at home is the definition of business as usual, but in many ways Barcelona-Córdoba was a match for the unexpected. With rare sightings of Martin Montoya, a misfiring Messi, an in-form Pedro, and not one but two set-piece goals, fans were taken on a veritable safari tour of foreign sights.

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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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