Saturday 16 May 2009

ReLive: Barcelona-Mallorca 3-1

Messi, the true heir to Maradona's crown

author: Duncan White
source: The Telegraph

date: 14 May 2009

Lionel Messi's father was told that his son would not grow taller than 4ft 7ins. Lionel, then 11, had been diagnosed with a hormonal problem that would impede his growth and, if untreated, would end his hopes of becoming a professional footballer.

No club in Argentina would take on the £500 per month treatment so Messi Senior took his son to Spain and entered him for a trial at Barcelona. Ten years on and the cost of those injections must feel like the best investment Barcelona ever made.

Messi, an exhilarating player at the top of his game, is the best player in the world. So far this season he has scored an improbable 33 goals in 44 games. Clubs in Spain have tried doubling up, cutting off his supply or even just kicking him. None of it has worked. How do you stop this squat figure as it weaves in sinuously from the right?

What separates Messi from a player like Cristiano Ronaldo is that style and substance are always in harmony. Ronaldo can embellish his game with art for art's sake but Messi's tricks and dribbles are performed purely to enable the quickest route to goal. Hiddink described him primarily as a 'productive' player. "I like the way he plays very much," Hiddink said. "I think he doesn't like the stardom of playing but he is very effective, one of those players who make it look very simple but in fact, it is very difficult what they do – nature gives them a lot of gifts."

Ronaldinho, Messi's predecessor as Camp Nou fantasista, was also guilty of playing more for the crowd than for the game and it has taken impressive work from Josep Guardiola to rebuild the Frank Rijkaard team that had come to rely on the mercurial Brazilian. The Barcelona that beat Arsenal in the Champions League three years ago, was a side that, even in decline, ended up indulging Ronaldinho's compellingly individual approach to the game.

There is also a petulant side to Messi. Jose Mourinho and his Chelsea side had first brought Messi to the attention of the English public and it wasn't for his elusive dribbling that he came to prominence. Chelsea left-back Asier Del Horno was red-carded for a clumsy foul on Messi who looked up at the refree before rolling over which lead to Mourinho sarcastically applauding his acting skills.

His international debut against Hungary lasted all of 40 seconds as he was sent off for throwing an elbow at a defender who was tugging his shirt. Having won the World Youth Cup in 2005, Argentine football fans had been tremendously excited by Messi's impending debut – none were expecting to end with him trudging from the field in tears.

It is that blend of the cynical and the sublime that makes him the first credible heir to Diego Maradona. A long line of successors have been falsely anointed – Ortega, Riquelme, Aimar, Saviola, D'Alessandro – only to suffer under the weight of impossible expectation. Messi, though, has taken on the legacy of Maradona and at times has appeared to be consciously parodying it.

In June 2007 Barcelona, in the penultimate game of the La Liga season, were losing to city rivals Espanyol when Messi leapt and flicked the ball into the net with his hand, and celebrated without shame. The goal was given. Only a couple of months earlier he had scored a spectacular goal against Getafe, dribbling from within his own half, that was strikingly similar to Maradiona's famed goal against England in the 1986 World Cup. 'Messidona' read the headline the following morning.

Those two goals – cynical and sublime – were a revelation, their execution so uncannily imitative, that the second coming of El Diego seemed at hand. Maradona never won the European Cup in his time with Barcelona and Napoli, so in that regard Messi will be carving out his very own legacy if he leads the club to be their third European title.

With over a decade of football in front of him, it is vertiginous to think of what Messi could achieve in his career and astonishing to think that it was nearly over before it began.

read the full and original article here

Read more:
Who's the best player in the world?
Messi repeats wish to retire at Barcelona
Messi: "I would like to be a better header"

Negredo not excluding joining Barcelona

Asked if he would be willing to join Barcelona (read more here), Almería forward Alvaro Negredo (23) has said in an interview with Spanish online newspaper Diario Siglo XXI that he doesn't exclude the option:

"I'm not closing the door for anything. Barça is a big club and football players want to play at the best teams and Barça is one of them... Can they be stopped? Yes... but not at this moment (laughs). It's clear that the way they are playing is incredible. They have the treble within reach.

I don't know where I will play next season. Real Madrid has an option to buy me back, although I don't know if they will use it. I also will have to look at the different options. If Madrid wants me back just to use me in another transfer deal, it should also be in my interests. I can only say that I have three games left this season and no better way to end my stay here than winning three times."

Read more:
Almeria wants Bojan on loan next season
Barcelona monitoring promising players
Almeria's Diego Alves to rival Valdes

Watch a video of Negredo here:

[Henrique] Bayer Leverkusen-Monchengladbach

Bayer Leverkusen played this afternoon their 33rd league game of the season, defeating Borussia Mönchengladbach 5-0.

Brazilian central defender and Barcelona loan out Henrique (22) wasn't available because of an injury.

Barcelona bought Henrique last summer and decided to loan him out to Bayer Leverkusen for one season (read more here). This blog follows Henrique's performances during this season.

Sunday 10 August - Cup round 1: Rot-Weiß Oberhausen-Bayer Leverkusen 2-3
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 120 minutes.

Saturday 16 August - Bundesliga game 1: Bayer Leverkusen-Borussia Dortmund 2-3
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 23 August - Bundesliga game 2: Vfb Stuttgart-Bayer Leverkusen 0-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 30 August - Bundesliga game 3: Bayer Leverkusen-Hoffenheim 5-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Right back.

Saturday 13 September - Bundesliga game 4: Hamburg-Bayer Leverkusen 3-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Right back.

Friday 19 September - Bundesliga game 5: Bayer Leverkusen-Hannover 4-0
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Tuesday 23 September - Cup round 2: Augsburg(2)-Bayer Leverkusen 0-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Yellow card.

Saturday 27 September - Bundesliga game 6: Bochum-Bayer Leverkusen 2-3
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 4 October - Bundesliga game 7: Bayer Leverkusen-Hertha Berlin 0-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Yellow card.

Saturday 18 October - Bundesliga game 8: Eintracht Frankfurt-Bayer Leverkusen 0-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Friday 24 October - Bundesliga game 9: Bayer Leverkusen-FC Köln 2-0
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Tuesday 29 October - Bundesliga game 10: Werder Bremen-Bayer Leverkusen 0-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Friday 31 October - Bundesliga game 11: Bayer Leverkusen-Wolfsburg 2-0
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 8 November - Bundesliga game 12: Karlsruhe-Bayer Leverkusen 3-3
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Yellow card.

Saturday 15 November - Bundesliga game 13: Bayer Leverkusen-Schalke 2-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 22 November - Bundesliga game 14: Bielefeld-Bayer Leverkusen 2-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 29 November - Bundesliga game 15: Bayer Leverkusen-Bayern Munich 0-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Yellow card.

Saturday 6 December - Bundesliga game 16: Borussia Mönchengladbach-Bayer Leverkusen 1-3
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 13 December - Bundesliga game 17: Bayer Leverkusen-Cottbus 1-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Wednesday 28 January - Cup 1/8 finals: Bayer Leverkusen-Cottbus 3-1

Saturday 31 January - Bundesliga game 18: Borussia Dortmund-Bayer Leverkusen 1-1

Saturday 7 February - Bundesliga game 19: Bayer Leverkusen-Stuttgart 2-4
Substitute. Henrique replaces Castro in the 66th minute (0-2). Assist.

Friday 13 February - Bundesliga game 20: Hoffenheim-Bayer Leverkusen 1-4
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Sunday 22 February - Bundesliga game 21: Bayer Leverkusen-Hamburg 1-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Yellow card.

Saturday 28 February - Bundesliga game 22: Hannover-Bayer Leverkusen 1-0
Suspended. Henrique cannot play because of five yellow cards.

Wednesday 5 March - Cup 1/4 finals: Bayer Leverkusen-Bayern Munich 4-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Sunday 8 March - Bundesliga game 23: Bayer Leverkusen-Bochum 1-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 14 March - Bundesliga game 24: Hertha Berlin-Bayer Leverkusen 1-0
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 21 March - Bundesliga game 25: Bayer Leverkusen-Frankfurt 1-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Yellow card.

Sunday 5 April - Bundesliga game 26: FC Köln-Bayer Leverkusen 0-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Right back.

Sunday 12 April - Bundesliga game 27: Bayer Leverkusen-Werder Bremen 1-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Right back.

Saturday 18 April - Bundesliga game 28: Wolfsburg-Bayer Leverkusen 2-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Right back.

Wednesday 22 April - Cup 1/2 finals: Bayer Leverkusen-Mainz 4-1 (aet)
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 120 minutes. Right back. Yellow card.

Saturday 25 April - Bundesliga game 29: Bayer Leverkusen-Karlsruhe 0-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Right back.

Saturday 2 May - Bundesliga game 30: Schalke-Bayer Leverkusen 1-2
Injured. Henrique has a muscle injury in a thigh.

Friday 8 May - Bundesliga game 31: Bayer Leverkusen-Bielefeld 2-2
Injured. Henrique has a muscle injury in a thigh.

Tuesday 12 May - Bundesliga game 32: Bayern Munich-Bayer Leverkusen 3-0
Injured. Henrique has a muscle injury in a thigh.

Saturday 16 May - Bundesliga game 33: Borussia Mönchengladbach-Bayern Munich 5-0
Injured. Henrique has a muscle injury in a thigh.

1. Wolfsburg 66
2. Bayern Munich 64
3. Stuttgart 64
4. Hertha Berlin 63
5. Borussia Dortmund 58
6. Hamburg 58
7. Hoffenheim 52
8. Schalke 50
9. Bayer Leverkusen 49
10. Werder Bremen 45
11. Hannover 39

1st and 2nd place: group phase of Champions League
3rd place: third qualifying round of Champions League, winner enters the group phase, losers enter the Uefa Cup
4th place: qualifies for 4th qualifying round of Uefa Cup
5th place: qualifies for 3rd qualifying round of Uefa Cup

Barcelona Atletic goalkeeper Oier in Mallorca list

Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola announced earlier today a list of 20 players for the league game against Mallorca tomorrow evening at 7:00 pm.

The list:
Valdés, Pinto, Oier,
Alves, Puyol, Piqué, Cáceres, Abidal, Sylvinho,
Xavi, Víctor Sánchez, Touré, Busquets, Keita, Gudjohnsen,
Messi, Eto'o, Bojan, Hleb, Pedro

Pinto is uncertain after having twisted his right ankle this morning. If he doesn't pass the test tomorrow morning, Barcelona Atlètic goalkeeper Oier Olazabal will travel with the team to Mallorca.

Milito, Márquez, Henry, Iniesta and Jorquera are recovering from injuries. Piqué has minor troubles and has been doing an indivual program. Barcelona Atletic players Gai, Xavi Torres, Abraham, Thiago, Botía and Fontàs have trained the last two days with the first team. Today, Jeffren also took part in the training session.

Barcelona will travel tomorrow to Mallorca. The players are expected at the Camp Nou at 9:30 am from where the team will go to the El Prat airport. The arrival is expected at 11:20 am.

Arshavin talks about failed Barcelona transfer

Arsenal attacker and Russian international Andrei Arshavin (27) has said in an interview with British tabloid The Daily Mail that, despite an offer by Barcelona last summer and despite being a Barcelona fan, it in the end is probably best he didn't join the club:

"I did have an offer from Barcelona but Zenit were not happy. I try not to think about what could have happened and at least at Arsenal I am playing. At Barcelona I think I would be sitting on the bench, like Aleksandr Hleb.

Which player could I replace? Thierry Henry? No, he is too good and I think Messi will be the World Player of the Year. If I could vote it would be for Messi. Even if you just count the goals and the beautiful passes and look at it statistically, Messi would win over Ronaldo. It has been close but Messi has been better. So where would I play at Barcelona?

Last season, once I knew I was leaving St Petersburg, the choice was always England or Spain, never Italy. I think the English league right now is the best league there has ever been, whereas in Italy it is very defensive, very closed football. I do not like it. I enjoy the honesty of English football, because nobody gives up, and almost all the best players are here. Italian football is at the bottom because of all those scandals. Their league is not very interesting.

I love Barcelona for the same reasons I love Arsenal. It is as if they do not even think of the result, they just want to play and score and if they lose, OK, then they will go out and do it again and win next time. At Arsenal, all we think about is how to attack, how to score, how to dribble, how to make a pass. We do not think so much about defence. Probably, for results, this is no good: but I like it.

That is why I hope Barcelona beat Manchester United in the Champions League final. United look very solid but they play like machines, whereas Barcelona are dreamers, they are more creative. Sometimes United kill everything and I like Barcelona's football more."

Read more:
Barcelona still interested in Arshavin
Arshavin repeats Barcelona is his favourite club
Barcelona could make a new move for Arshavin

Barcelona B captain could join Aris Saloniki

Barcelona Atlètic captain and defensive midfielder Xavi Torres (22) could move to Aris Saloniki during the summer transfer window.

Giannis Kontis, who will become sports director if the favourite candidate wins the presidential elcections at the Greek club later this month, has unconfirmedly said to journalists that the Catalan midfielder is one of the players they have a deal with and who will join Aris Saloniki at the end of this season in case his candidature wins the elections.

Read more:
An introduction to the coming stars
Which B players could be promoted?
Introducing the four selected B-team players

Next Madrid president could be tempting Messi

Madrid sports tabloid As claims that Barcelona thinks that Real Madrid presidential candidate Florentino Pérez is tempting Barcelona attacker and Argentinian international Lionel Messi (21).

Barcelona board member Xavier Sala Martín would have said in a private conversation that he thinks that Pérez has sounded out Messi.

If the next president of Real Madrid would be able to find a personal agreement with the player, he believes that Barcelona would be forced to negotiate on Messi's buyout clause of 150 million euro°. Barcelona attacker and Spanish international Andrés Iniesta (25) would be the other Barcelona player on the list.

Asked about the statement of Pérez that he didn't exclude signing a Barcelona player (read more here), Barcelona president Joan Laporta has said to journalists that he thinks trying to sign a Barcelona player would be a waste of time: "I thank him for the praising words, but I didn't like the fact that he left the door open in a kind of mysterious way for a possible signing of a Barça player. If he would do it, I would consider that to be a sporting aggression.

Florentino Pérez is a respectable man and he knows about sportsmanship. The relations between the clubs are at this moment agreeable and absolutely respectful and we hope things to stay this way, whoever the next president of Real Madrid will be, Florentino Pérez or somebody else.

I also advise him not to try to sign a player, because he will fail, firstly because the players who are at Barcelona are committed to the club, and therefore any attempt would be in vain. So I would be thankful if he didn't dedicate time to try and destabilise Barcelona. He will not obtain anything and the truth is that it wouldn't be worth the time and the effort."

Read more:
Next Madrid president keeps pushing for Iniesta
Madrid having difficulties to understand Messi
Next Madrid president not excluding Barca signing

There won't be a post-season tour

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona has cancelled a possible post-season tour in June (read more here).

Barcelona signed last year agreements to play friendly games in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Uzbekistan and thought about organizing a tour at the end of the season but those plans have meanwhile been cancelled.

The club was looking at the option to include the game in Uzbekistan in the pres-season schedule if the team would have gone on tour in Asia this summer, but in the end the tour will go to the Untied States (read more here). The games in Saudi Arabia, for which the fees have already been paid, will certainly have to be played at another time since they cannot be organized in July or August because of the heat in the region.

Read more:
Possible post-season friendly against Arsenal
Pre-season tour in United States confirmed
Possible tour in Asia before end of the season

Bojan linked with loan move to Deportivo and Betis

Asked about the rumours linking Barcelona forward and Spanish youth international Bojan Brkic with a loan move to Deportivo La Coruña (read more here), Deportivo manager Miguel Angel Lotina has said at a press conference that the club has talked with Barcelona but that a loan move of Bojan is unlikely:

"We've been talking with Barça about some players, like we did with Valencia, with Atlético Madrid and with Real Madrid. There are now some names on the table. We had some good experiences with loaning players from big teams and we're gonna try to repeat it by signing other players who are getting few chances at big clubs. I nevertheles can't confirm the rumour about Bojan because Barcelona surely will want to keep him."

Sevilla regional sports paper Estadio Deportivo meanwhile claims that Betis Sevilla is also interested in loaning Bojan next season, although it seems difficult to compete with all the others club that are wanting to sign the Catalan striker during the summer transfer window.

Read more:
Valencia interested in Bojan loan
Future of Bojan will be looked at in the summer
Almeria president confirms interest in Bojan loan

Pichichi and Zamora (day 35)

With Barcelona players competing for the trophies of best goalscorer and best goalkeeper of the Spanish league, this blog will follow the events during the second round.

28 Eto'o (Barcelona)
27 Forlán (Atlético Madrid)
25 Villa (Valencia)
23 Messi (Barcelona)
19 Henry (Barcelona)
19 Negredo (Almería)

0,89 Víctor Valdés (Barcelona)
1,06 Palop (Sevilla)
1,24 Aranzubía (Deportivo)
1,26 Casillas (Real Madrid)
1,27 Toño (Racing Santander)

[2008] New names on central defenders list

this post was published exactly one year ago:

Catalan sports paper Sport reports that Barcelona is intensely looking for central defenders and claims that the club is also following Getafe central defender Daniel "Cata" Díaz (28) (picture). The Argentinian player, who arrived at Getafe last summer, would cost 8 million euro°.

Fenerbahçe's Brazilian central defender Edu Dracena (26) is mentioned as being another candidate on the (long) list.

Read more 16 May 2008 news here:
New Milan offer for Ronaldinho
Barcelona still in the running for Pjanic
Arsenal considering Thuram offer

Friday 15 May 2009

The Ultimate Game: Get Inside Guardiola's head

With Frank Rijkaard you couldn't get any honour by predicting Barcelona's starting line-up. Even hockey moms could. But this has dramatically changed last summer. Until this very day, nobody has been able to crack the code of Josep Guardiola's brain. Nor has anyone got inside his sleeves.

So this is your chance to prove not only your knowledge about the game of football but also your psychological insight:


This is not (as in: N-O-T) a place for discussion on team tactics or personal player preferences. You just give the system and the eleven names you think will start the game against Mallorca on Sunday.

You put them in the right position, so using the 4-3-3 (or whatever you think they will play) and putting the players from the right to the left, so the right back defender is your first name after the goalkeeper. If your line-up isn't clear, my interpretation counts.

Don't forget to add your (nick)name by clicking Name/URL under the comment box and fill it in, otherwise your after-game claim to glory will be dismissed.

You can give your starting line-up until four hours before the start of the game, in this case: until 3:00 pm barcelona time.

If you give your line-up before Guardiola announes his match list (or if at least 20 players are included in the match list or if I decide so), you get one point for the correct line-up. If you do it after that announcement, you get half a point. Who will have the most points at the end of the season, can call himself the winner.

This is the 49th time this game is organized.





B. Beltrocco
mario ch



Dan R

Cali Socis
Cristi M


Barca nike

Knives Out

Barca nerd-fan
kamikaze kontiki

blaugrana poland

Picture of the day: Guardiola

Past midnight, after the cup win celebrations in the dressing room, Guardiola and his close friend Manel Estiarte, a former water polo player and Barcelona's head of external relations, went back out on the pitch and stayed talking about the game for about twenty minutes at the centre circle of an almost empty Mestalla stadium in Valencia.

Guardiola wanted to smell the grass and enjoy the moment. Estiarte commented afterwards to a journalist: "He left off some steam, it was truly emotional. He re-lived the game and I actually wanted to put on a jersey and to start playing myself."

Quote of the day: Toure

My wife has told me many times that I should shoot a little more on goal.

Yaya Touré, Barcelona player

Next season's shirts leaked

Football site Footballshirtculture has put out the presumed Barcelona home and away shirts for the 2009-2010 season. The away shirt had already leaked out three months ago (read more here).

Read more:
Next season's away shirts will be orange and pink
Special shirt for the cup final presented

The arrival of the cup in Barcelona

Yesterday at 1:35 pm, the team landed in Barcelona with the cup. After a one hour drive, the team bus arrived at the Camp Nou, were the cup was shown to the 2000 fans that were gathered at the stadium.

Custom Search
Custom Search