04 March 2012

Xavi, the passing king

The Barça midfielder leads the way in the five main European leagues in terms of completed passes in the opposing half of the pitch (1553). Team-mates Messi and Alves are second and third respectively.

Xavi Hernandez is the passing king of the leading European football leagues – England, Italy, Germany, France and Spain – with 1553 completed passes in the opponents' half. As well as Xavi, the top five in this particular ranking feature Leo Messi (1351 passes), Xabi Alonso (1271), Dani Alves (1215) and Mikel Arteta (1207). That makes three out of five for Barça.

However, Xavi Hernandez not only leads the way when it comes to passes in the opposing half. He also tops the ranking in all completed passes with 2139, the only player to pass the 2000 mark. As such he's well ahead of Xabi Alonso (1985), Andrea Pirlo (1925), Philipp Lahm (1896) and Mikel Arteta (1804). (via FCBarcelona.com)

Van Persie has nivelazo Barça

Van Persie was devoted even more at Anfield with two golazos to raise his price.


Another exhibit more of a shrine of football. Robin van Persie had never marked at Anfield yesterday and did so twice in a further demonstration of why it has more than enough level to play for FC Barcelona and fulfill his desire to be reunited with Cesc Fàbregas.

With a header from '9' Sagna to center and a stunning volley with his left foot in 92 minutes to pass Song, Dutch comeback initialed in Liverpool (1-2) Arsenal will complete a blank seven seasons but can not afford to stay without participating in the next Champions League.

And that is Van Persie, whose commitment to the Gunners and winning character contributed decisively to secure fourth place in the Arsenal at odds with Chelsea, now three points behind after losing (1-0) yesterday in the stronghold of the West Bromwich Albion.

The '10' of all Arsene Wenger continues to trade upward pulling of a group that needs a miracle Tuesday at home against Milan to lift the first leg 4-0.

Although last week said that until the summer will not make a decision about their future without wanting to know about negotiating a contract that expires in 2013, Van Persie letting life continue until the last day for Arsenal.

At 28 and with only one FA Cup and Community Shield under his belt, each passing day works against the Gunners to keep him next season.

Van Persie has very mature determining land on another 'big' where you can choose to win league and the Champions League. He knows he can hardly do it at the Emirates Stadium.

However, just as the fans of Arsenal celebrates his goals almost a week after another, its top management, resigned to its likely progress, rubs his hands with the money that you can enter by Van Persie.

If Barça, who offered himself forward in the past winter market, attend the desire of the player, enter a bid higher. The Dutchman is probably the player most coveted by the most powerful clubs in the summer where you can further enhance your cache in the tournament. Would have to see how the club would strengthen its attack depending on your fitness needs and economic adjustments.

Meanwhile, Van Persie is still beating people. Officers with 31 goals in 36 games and 25 in the Premiership, live your best season and will be a tough opponent of Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo the Golden Boots. (via MD)

Chelsea dreams of joining Guardiola


After Saturday's defeat of Chelsea in the field of West Brom (1-0), André Villas-Boas seems more convicted than ever and English newspapers like 'The Sun' or 'Daily Mirror' agree that the club 'blue' is crazy for Pep Guardiola as the new coach.

Guardiola, pending renewal as Barca coach has been in the spotlight of Roman Abramovich since 2010 and the Russian billionaire owner of the entity of Stamford Bridge insists long for him to be contrary Pep to sign a long-term contract with the FC Barcelona.

Before you bet on Villa-Boas himself last summer, which meant to pay compensation of 13.3 million euros to Porto to have the technical Luso current contract, Abramovich probed the possibility of bringing Guardiola, but he remained in the bench azulgrana.

Again according to British media, André Villas could be removed even before the knockout round of Champions the next day 14 against Napoli, who won the first leg 3-1, then Rafa Bentítez could act as interim coach until the end of season waiting for that Guardiola would be available from July to give a yes to an offer from London.

Chelsea are fifth in the Premier, occupying a position of Europa League, the Carling Cup in the quarter fell to Liverpool, new champion, and the FA will play the knockout round on Tuesday outside Birmingham (the trip ended with a tie).

José Mourinho also sounds like a possible replacement for his former aide Villas-Boas, although Guardiola seems now the great object of desire 'blue'. Besides, remember that both Pep as 'Mou' on the list of possible candidates to lead the England team after Fabio Capello forced goodbye and the refusal of Harry Redknapp, current Tottenham coach, to commit to the position to within two months, just doors of Euro in Poland and Ukraine. (via MD)

FC Barcelona dominate the game even with 9 men.

[Selection] Spain insists Rafinha

The RFEF is sure to convince the Blaugrana and recalled that his brother Thiago went through something similar.

Rafa Alcantara throws Brazil, the land of their fathers and, in large part, theirs. There has never hidden and will not now. In fact, his injury layoff in some of the calls for the lower state selection is due to this.

But the RFEF insists convince the juvenil blaugrana that there will be time to choose whether to get a date to do so. Julen Lopetegui, coach of the Under 19, summoned him to play a friendly in France and this time, Rafinha attended the meeting. The midfielder also wore the captain's armband and scored one of the goals in the win at Meaux (1-2). After weighing pros and cons, the youngest of the brothers Alcantara has decided to play with the Spanish team. At least, while Brazil does not get so formal. In that case, when the time will decide. Understands that the RFEF Rafinha is behaving so generous to him and, meanwhile, is convinced the Federation to convince definitively to choose to wear red. The coaches also recall that Thiago went through something similar. (via SPORT)

[Barça B] Eusebio Sacristán: "We want to return to the line we had to Depor's game"

Barça B coach is confident his team for the next Liga Adelante match against Recreativo: "We will Huelva with the aim of being able to get the win."

Eusebio will have all players available, but Tello, Muniesa, Sergi Roberto and Dos Santos, who are with the first team, Miño and Ilie, who continue injured and Armando, who is suspended.

Barça B confidently prepares his match against Recreativo Huelva on Sunday (7:45 p.m.). Eusebio Sacristán has had all the available players in training this Saturday morning, except for Tello, Muniesa, Sergi Roberto and Jonathan dos Santos, who are the first team.

The coach expected to be a bumpy ride, as the rival "is getting very positive results lately, and certainly have a lot of confidence and high spirits." However, Eusebio trusts his team to reunite with the victory after two days missing. "We want to return to the line that we had before these two games," remarked the coach remarked, and added that his players go "up, confident in what we are doing."

"The team is still strong, solid, beyond any result that has not been good for us lately," said Eusebio Sacristán and pointed out that "there is confidence in our work."

Azulgrana coach subsidiary has announced the squad for the match against Recreativo after training. Players Oier, Montoya, Bartra, Carmona, Rodri, Oriol Rosell, Masip, Sergi Gómez, Kiko Femenía, Lobato, Espinosa, Planas, Balliu, Rivarola, Gerard Deulofeu, Patric, Rafinha and Dongou are traveling to Huelva. Miño and Ilie are not on the list because they are still low, and may not play because Armando is punished by five cards, and he saw the fifth in the match against Hercules. The coach stressed that "the important thing is that players who do go to a good standard and achieve a victory for the team." (via FCBarcelona.cat)

[Barça B] Barça B, react on their visit to Huelva

Barça B adds two consecutive losses and expected to react in Huelva. However, the numbers are not encouraging, since it has a single branch point of the last five games played away from the Mini Estadi.

This is a set of outcomes that determine the team's goals, which in the next two weeks will know, as their evolution in la Liga, if he can fight at the top or should be face down. While he thinks, Eusebio can not count on Sergi Roberto, Dos Santos, Tello and Muniesa, who are with the first team. In addition, Armando is penalized. Riverola has recovered from an elongation, while Minho, Ilie and Gustavo are injured. Valladolid coach has called Dongou and Patric, the juvenil. (via SPORT)

Piqué: "The team did a brutal job"

The Barça defender praised his teammates after they earned the three points against Sporting Gijón. The Barça squad believes that in order to win the Liga the team must “win three points every week”.



FC Barcelona, after the surprising expulsion of Gerard Piqué and David Barral’s goal, reacted perfectly to take the three points against Sporting Gijón. The Azulgrana players all agree that the most important thing is to keep on winning three points each week to keep Barça’s title hopes alive.

“Our work is done, we won and we want to keep [our title hopes] alive. This is our aim week after week. The only thing we can do is win the three points every week,” said Piqué. “There weren’t any spaces, there were a lot of defenders and they didn’t attack attack us. You want to close the game out quickly in games like this, but we couldn’t do it until the end,” said the fullback.

Piqué also talked about Seydou Keita, the man that scored the go-ahead goal as the clock was winding down: “he scored an amazing goal. To score a goal in the upper 90 is worth admiring. What can I say about Keita? He’s a very important player, a key piece in this team.”

The team’s good attitude

Despite being shown a red card, the Azulgrana defender highlighted the attitude displayed by his teammates against a rock-hard Sporting side: “I’m very happy for my teammates. They were able to win a very complicated match that keeps us alive in the League.

“My teammates were magnificent, they did a brutal job despite only having 10 men on the pitch,” said Piqué.

The defender took the opportunity to tell his version of the play that earned him a straight red card: “[the foul] wasn’t worth a red card, but there’s one referee and he makes the decisions.”

Here are the statements made by the FC Barcelona players after the match:

Pedro Rodríguez:

“I’m very pleased with how the team reacted

“I’m also pleased with how the fans responded, they helped the team throughout the match

“Playing a man down, we had to be a bit more aware of their counterattacks. However, we created our chances and we managed to earn an important victory”

Andrés Iniesta:

“The distance [with Madrid] is considerable, but we have to fight until the end

“We were expecting them to shut down spaces. In the end, however, the points stay here

“The manager knows that we all want him to stay

“When an important player like Messi can’t play, we all must try a bit harder

“Once again, the team played some great football

“The game got tough after the referee’s decision, but we had to attack. Our necessity is winning three points week after week

“Being a referee is very difficult, they make their decisions within seconds

Dani Alves:

“We have to value the great work we did tonight. We’re happy

“Talking about the referees is a lost cause

“We don’t have a margin of error. We have to keep on going with this attitude, and with it we’ll keep our title hopes alive

“It’s obvious when Messi isn’t on the pitch. He’s the best player in the world

“Gerard Piqué has his reasons to be angry”. (via FCBarcelona.com)

Fernando Alonso, Real Madrid and oviedista to watch a Barça-Sporting

Fernando Alonso was one of the guests by FC Barcelona in the Camp Nou stage in the game against Sporting.

Fernando Alonso is these days at the Circuit de Catalunya in training before the start of the Formula One season and taking advantage of their presence, the club invited him to the box at the Camp Nou to watch the game against Sporting Gijón.

And it is still curious presence in this game because if it is Spaniard, but of Oviedo. And if you like football but it's Madrid. Alonso arrived at Camp Nou in an Alfa Romeo. He wore a sweatshirt, white of course, and jeans. With that dress, no one can enter the box, but acknowledged that Barcelona made ​​an exception for the Formula One driver and let him be there.

Before you start the game, Alonso spoke to the cameras of Canal Plus. Although Ferrari had nullified the Asturian press appearances and Massa scheduled this weekend, Alonso did speak at the Camp Nou, at least to our knowledge, for the same Canal Plus and Barça TV. On the renewal of Guardiola, said Pep and Barça "are made ​​for each other." He added: "I love football and I have the opportunity to come and see. I was born in Oviedo, Oviedo and I'm from a little more than Madrid, but that does not mean that the spectacle of football is great," he said .. And most of the game, saying only that "it is pure entertainment and also with the Barcelona playing so well."

In the few images of his that were televised, it was pretty quiet. For many minutes, his happiness was complete. Best for Real Madrid and oviedista not win or Barca and Sporting. But in the end, won the Barcelona. And Fernando, from the front row of the box, finished applauding when the Camp Nou was already emptying. (via SPORT)

Alexis, out for 10 to 15 days

The Chilean striker has a small tear in the adductor of his right leg.

Alexis Sanchéz came on in the second half of La Liga match against Sporting Gijón, however, he couldn’t finish the match due to muscle problems. According to Barça’s Medical Services, the striker has a small tear in the adductor of his right leg. The Chilean will be out of action for 10 to 15 days. (via FCBarcelona.com)

The best and worst of Barça-Sporting

BEST:

The victory and the team's ability to overcome the defense of the Sporting rocky and controversial refereeing decisions Velasco Carballo.


WORST:

No doubt the injury Alexis Sánchez. Guardiola does not usually throw their hands up for anything and the player seemed sore. Hopefully progress favorably but forecasts are not very promising. (via SPORT)

Clemente: "astounded a while Barça is not bad"


The coach of Sporting Gijón, Javier Clemente, has acknowledged that, despite losing to a Barcelona "superior" at the Camp Nou (3-1), the men have deserved a better result and therefore the effort he "knows by little "as achieving" a bit astounded Barça is not bad. "" In a normal development of the match, the team would not be angry. But having been twenty minutes that could have led us, I saw that my players at the end are down to the locker room a little tocaditos "admitted Clemente.

"Playing against Barça and have the opportunity to take something might not have become so easy," he explained. "Minute ten, with one draw and Barça least, was the game that can take you. I know little. Acknowledge the superiority of Barcelona, ​​but I know little."

According to the coach Basque "astounded a while Barça is not bad." "I do not know if my eternal youth will go back and party at the Camp Nou," added the matter.

In this senseClemente said that "more than one would have done to be scared and have created a fear and uncertainty. Not many rivals Barça believe him dangerous to doubt the outcome." Therefore, despite reiterate the superiority "clear" of Pep Guardiola has stated that the role of his men "is the way forward" ahead of games against direct rivals.

But he denied that his approach has been stingy, "Defensive? It depends on how you look at you. We have tried to deepen Barça, who had the ball but without depth. But being tightly closed, we have sought the input between the lines. If we had played open, we had entered from all sides. "

And, in conclusion, has avoided comment on a possible unfavorable arbitration Barça, who has claimed three penalties in the visiting area and has seen their center-backc Piqué was sent off in a rigorous way to start the second half. "I have no idea whether have hurt them. Shares in that Piqué have expelled or had whistled a foul I have no idea. I look at my stuff. 'Three penalties in our area? for even is small, "he joked. (via MD)

Perfect return for Keita

The Mali player scored his second goal of the season tonight at the Camp Nou. The midfielder hadn’t started a Liga match since the Barça-Rayo (4-0) game on November 29th, 2001.

It was a dream-like night for Seydou Keita. The Mali international, who played the full 90 minutes against Sporting Gijón, was the decisive player on the pitch when Barça desperately needed a goal. The midfielder, playing in his first match after the Africa Cup of Nations, unleashed pandemonium in the Camp Nou when he directed his left-footed shot to the upper corner of of Pablo’s goal. Amazing goal.

“I’m very pleased because it was very important to win, we were 10 points down,” said Keita at the end of the match. “We could have drawn, but in the end we won the three points,” he said.

It’s been a while since the midfielder graced the pitch for FC Barcelona. Keita was with the Mali national side for the Africa Cup of Nations for 11 Barça matches, and he didn’t play against Valencia (5-1) or Atlético Madrid (1-2). In total, he hasn’t played in 13 games. Before tonight, his last minutes on the pitch for Barça were at Cornellá-El Prat against Espanyol (1-1), at the start of the new year. The last time he started for the team was against Rayo (4-0), the game was played on November 29th, 2011.

His return to the starting XI was brilliant. He scored his second goal of the season, his first was in the semifinals of the Club World Cup against Al-Saad (4-0). This was, throughout his Azulgrana career, his 20th goal for Barça. Up until now he’s scored six goals in each of the seasons he’s been at the Catalan club (starting in 2008/09). (via FCBarceloan.com)

Piqué: "My expulsion was premeditated"

The defender has been very critical of the performance of Velasco Carballo.


Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué has accused Velasco Carballo deliberately to remove him on the first play of the second of the game against Sporting Gijón.

"During the break I told the referee that it was Keita penalty and he has kept. I have a feeling that there was premeditation," said Piqué at the conclusion of the match.

The center back has shown, however, happy with the final result (3-1). "They were three very important points. Have to pull to the front and survive until we have more strength and overcome rivals and everything it takes", has ruled. (via MD)

Guardiola: “I'm happy with how the players reacted”

The Catalan manager said that tonight’s match is a “morale boost” for the team. Guardiola also praised Seydou Keita’s, who scored the go-ahead goal, performance and behaviour.



Pep Guardiola was proud of the attitude that his team showed in tonight’s match against Sporting Gijón. The Barça manager said, “we won a match against a very defensive side in a match that turned against us. I'm happy with how the players reacted. They’ve done it again. The fans had a great time because we appealed to the epic [spirit] that this Club can sometimes have.”

Despite not being able to use Messi in tonight’s match, the manager knew that his team wouldn’t falter: “the players took a step forward tonight.”

“It’s very necessary to win games like this throughout the year.” Guardiola believes that tonight’s game against Clemente’s side will reinforce the Catalan club in the future. “The way this game was won reinforces our morale,” said that manager. Guardiola also highlighted the “self-esteem” of his players.

This Wednesday, Barça is to face Bayer in the return leg of the Champions League knock-out stage. “We have to try and enjoy this tie as we try to get to the quarterfinals of the Champions League for the forth year in a row,” he said. Guardiola also warned that the tie isn’t over despite the 1-3 from the away leg, and that his team should not underestimate their midweek opponents.

Guardiola had special words for Keita. “He scored a golazo [amazing goal], he never plays poorly. He does his best whenever I need him. He makes my job easier. I hope he can stay in this house as long as possible.” (via FCBarcelona.com)

[Liga BBVA; Week26] FC Barcelona 3 - 1 Real Sporting de Gijón

Barça put in a gritty performance to see off an ultra defensive Sporting team despite playing most of the second half with ten men after Piqué was sent off. Late goals from Keita and Xavi sealed the win after Iniesta had opened the scoring in the first half.


Barça chalked up their third league win on the trot after overcoming a Sporting team who'd clearly come to defend and park the bus in front of their goal right from the start. Guardiola's men were without Messi who was suspended but they had no difficulty in taking the initiative against such conservative opponents. There was plenty of controversy too, with three pretty clear penalty shouts denied the home team and a harsh looking red for Pique, but although Sporting managed a second half equaliser, Barça showed they are not just the most talented team on the planet, bit also full of steely determination, as Keita and Xavi gave them the points with two splendidly taken goals.

Clemente took an unusual tactical approach to the game, with a four man defence and man markers in midfield - a clear indication of his team's intention to defend from the off. As usual, Barça got hold of the ball and just attacked, looking sharp from the start as they tried to find a way through the wall of red and white shirts in front of them.

It wasn't an easy job though. Pedro saw a goal disallowed on 10 minutes for off side and Adriano hit a shot wide soon after. The full backs were getting heavily involved in attack and Alves was unlucky not to be given a penalty when he was bundled over in the box. Space was a t a premium around the Sporting area, but Keita found some to shoot, only for a Sporting hand to block it. There was no penalty blown though –much to the Camp Nou crowd's disgust!

Soon after though, on 41 minutes, they were on their feet to applaud a brilliantly worked goal between Keita, Adiano and Iniesta which the Spanish midfielder slotted home for the opener.

The goal came just at the right time – just before the break – but soon after the second half got underway the scene changed dramatically when Gerard Piqué was shown a red card on 46 minutes after he clashed with a Sporting attacker just outside the box. Clemente saw his chance and threw on top scorer David Barral, who rewarded his manager with a goal from only his second touch. Now the fans really got behind their team as the players rolled up their sleeves and fought for the points despite being a goal down.

Alexis came on and almost immediately fluffed a great chance, but Xavi and Iniesta were pulling the strings and more opportunities were bound to come. A third penalty was denied on 68 minutes and the volume inched higher from the crowd as they urged their team on amidst a flurry of yellow cards for the visitors.

The second goal and justice came via a beautifully flighted shot from outside the box by Keita and with the fans now revelling in the lead, Xavi rounded off the night with an exquisite chip over the keeper to make it three. The game saw Barça finish with nine men as Alexis limped off, but this was a heroic performance in which the team showed their commitment, their authority and their brilliance. (via FCBarcelona.com)


[Match Stats]
FC Barcelona Valdés; Alves, Mascherano, Piqué, Adriano, Keita, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro (Tello, min.59), Cuenca (Puyol, min.81) and Cesc (Alexis, min.59).

Sporting: Juan Pablo, Damián (Barral, min.48), Orfila, Gálvez, Botia, Canella, André Castro, Nacho Cases, Mendy, De las Cuevas (Eguren, min.75) and Ayoze (Carmelo, min.48).

Goals: 1-0: Iniesta, min.42. 1-1: Barral, min.49. 2-1: Keita, min.79. 3-1: Xavi, min.87.

Referee: Velasco Carballo (Colegio Madrilenian). He showed yellow card to Ayoze (min.28), Canella (min.29), Iniesta (min.47), De las Cuevas (min.64), Xavi (min.71)André Castro (min.73), Carmelo (min.74), Keita (min.76), Eguren (min.78), Barral (min.81) and Gálvez (min.82) and drove with Piqué red card (min.46)

Sunbs: Match of the twenty-sixth day of League match at the Camp Nou before 72,442 spectators.

VIDEO: http://youtu.be/8bY6kiBy4xA

The Bobby Robson Foundation auction winners attend Barça’s first team training session

The first two winners of the Bobby Robson and Breakthrough Brest Cancer solidarity auction visited the Club’s installations this weekend.

The first two winners of the Bobby Robson and Breakthrough Brest Cancer solidarity auction visited the Club’s installations this weekend. FC Barcelona donated a chance to watch a first-team training session and a game at the Camp Nou.

The first two winners are two French nationals that live in London, David and Michael Belhassen, father and son. They attended yesterday’s afternoon training session and they got the chance to snap photos of themselves with the players and Josep Guardiola presented the pair with two Barça jerseys autographed by the whole team.

The most exciting meeting was between Cesc and Michael. Michael, who favours FC Barcelona over his local club Arsenal, was especially excited to meet the Catalan midfielder in person. Both Michael and his father will watch today’s match between Barça and Sporting at the Camp Nou.

The online auction took place between the 8th and 23rd of last October, the Belhassen family donated £12,000. There was a second pair that also won this past October, they will visit the Club at the end of the season. (via FCBarcelona.com)

Thiago to miss the Barça-Sporting mach

Despite showing improvement, Thiago wasn’t able to overcome his tibia injury ahead of the match against Sporting. The midfielder will miss the game at the Camp Nou against the Asturians.

Despite showing improvement, Thiago wasn’t able to overcome his tibia injury ahead of the match against Sporting. The midfielder will miss the game at the Camp Nou against the Asturians. (via FCBarcelona.com)