Archive | February, 2013

Preview: FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid (Copa del Rey semi-final second leg)

28 Feb

It may ‘only’ be the Copa del Rey, but tomorrow night’s semi-final second leg at Camp Nou between Barça and Real Madrid takes on a greater importance due to the delicate situation of both teams. There is not just a place in the final on May 18 at stake as both sides are looking for a boost in morale and improved performances in the run up to the crucial return matches in the Champions League last 16.Barça’s defeat last week at Milan has activated many of the underlying doubts surrounding the team. Is playing two attacking full backs leaving us too exposed at the back? Should Andrés Iniesta be used in midfield? Is there a place for David Villa in the team? Can Alexis Sanchez overcome his drop in confidence? Is there over-dependency on Leo Messi and should he be rested more? And perhaps most importantly – can Tito Vilanova make the correct decisions when he’s following everything from 6000 km away?

via Preview: FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid (Copa del Rey semi-final second leg).

via Preview: FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid (Copa del Rey semi-final second leg).

AC Milan vs FC Barcelona: Uefa Champions League Last 16 Preview

19 Feb

Milan against Barça in the Champions League. With a total of eleven titles of Europe’s top trophy between them there can be few contests on the world stage that equal the historic rivalry of these two great clubs. Fabio Capello’s Milan famously defeated Johan Cruyff’s dream team 4-0 in the 1994 final and since then the sides have faced each other on no fewer than ten occasions with a balance of four wins for Barça and two for Milan and four draws.Last season the teams met both in the group stage and again in quarter-finals. The first group stage match ended in a 2-2 draw at Camp Nou after Thiago Silva headed in a last minute equalizer for Milan and this was followed by Barça’s impressive 2-3 victory in the San Siro with Pep Guardiola bravely opting for a defence of three. The first leg of the quarter finals ended in an intense 0-0 draw in Italy and then Barça won the return 3-1 with two goals from Leo Messi and a third from Andrés Iniesta.

via AC Milan vs FC Barcelona: Uefa Champions League Last 16 Preview.

via AC Milan vs FC Barcelona: Uefa Champions League Last 16 Preview.

Preview: Granada vs FC Barcelona (game 24 liga 2012/13)

16 Feb

After a week watching others strut their stuff in the Champions League Barça are back in action tomorrow evening with a league fixture at Granada’s Los Cármenes stadium (Saturday 8 pm). Jordi Roura and Tito Vilanova have named a nineteen-man squad for the trip with the only first-team absentees being Johnathan dos Santos, Eric Abidal, David Villa, who has been in and out of hospital this week with kidney stone problems, and Xavi who trained normally today but who is being kept in reserve for next Wednesday’s Champions League game at AC Milan.The old adage in football is to take every game as it comes, and while for a player this is almost certainly the best philosophy, for a coach in the modern game there are surely situations when he finds himself looking at the coming fixtures with ample consideration for possible rotations. With Barça now twelve points clear of Atlético following their defeat at Rayo last Sunday it would be easy to give tomorrow’s game less priority given that in the following two weeks we play Milan and Sevilla before the cup and league clásicos with Real Madrid.

via Preview: Granada vs FC Barcelona (game 24 liga 2012/13).

via Preview: Granada vs FC Barcelona (game 24 liga 2012/13).

Preview: FC Barcelona vs Getafe (game 23 liga 2012/13)

9 Feb

Following a week of international friendlies Barça return to action with a league game against Getafe at Camp Nou which will kick off at the unusual time of 12 o’clock midday. The kick off time means a new routine for the players who will stay in a hotel tonight instead of with their families. There will be an 8.00 am wake-up call followed by breakfast at 8.30 before the team makes the short trip to Camp Nou at around 10.30.International breaks are inevitable but irritating all the same. However, I decided to watch Spain play Uruguay because of the seven La Masia products starting for La Roja and also for Carles Puyol’s 100th international appearance. Puyol’s 45 minutes were not his best but there were good performances from Fabregas and Valdés while Pedro continues to find the net more easily in internationals.

via Preview: FC Barcelona vs Getafe (game 23 liga 2012/13).

via Preview: FC Barcelona vs Getafe (game 23 liga 2012/13).

Valencia 1 FC Barcelona 1

4 Feb

Barça had to settle for a point after a complicated game against Valencia at Mestalla tonight. Ever Banega fired Valencia deservedly in front after 33 minutes but a Leo Messi penalty five minutes later after Pedro was brought down by Joao Pereira brought Barça level. Chances fell to both teams in the second half to take all three points but Cesc Fabregas and substitute David Villa missed Barça’s best opportunies while Valencia were denied at the end by a splendid double save by Victor Valdés.Jordi Roura made only two changes to the team that drew 1-1 at Madrid on Wednesday. Victor Valdés returned in goal while Javier Mascherano replaced Carles Puyol in defence. For Valencia, Vicente Guaita was preferred over Diego Alves in goal while Ernesto Valverde’s decision to play Banega suggests the player was not drunk, just late, for Friday’s training session.

via Valencia 1 FC Barcelona 1.

via Valencia 1 FC Barcelona 1.

Preview: Valencia vs FC Barcelona (game 22 liga 2012/13)

2 Feb

With the fallout from Wednesday’s cup clásico still making the headlines Barça return to Liga action tomorrow evening with a trip down the coast for a complicated game against Valencia at Mestalla (Sunday 7 pm). After Atlético Madrid’s defeat at San Mames last weekend Barça’s lead over Los Colchoneros at the top of the table has returned to eleven points while Real Madrid remain fifteen points adrift in third place.Before moving on to tomorrow’s game I should comment on the some of the post-clásico accusations and what may become known as Messigate or Bobogate. The original source-less accusation that Messi called Arbeloa “bobo” (dunce/dumbass) in front of his wife in the Bernabéu carpark before turning on Karanka to say “What the **** are you looking at, Mourinho’s puppet” were yesterday confirmed by Madrid’s Deep Throat José Callejon.

via Preview: Valencia vs FC Barcelona (game 22 liga 2012/13).

via Preview: Valencia vs FC Barcelona (game 22 liga 2012/13).