Monday, 12 December 2011

David Villa: I feel important at Barcelona

Villa, however, has made it clear that he's not worried about what is being said in the media.

"I feel important, and even more so when the coach speaks well of me. I don't give any importance to what is said outside the club," Villa said on a press conference.

"I don't have to be worried about all of this, it's all the same to me. I work so that the coach, my colleagues, the fans, and my family, are happy, and that's the case.

"I've always had the affection of team-mates and especially the public. I noticed it since the day I arrived."

Villa has so far scored five goals in 14 La Liga appearances this term.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Real Madrid and Barcelona dominate list for FIFPro World XI

Fifa has revealed the 55 players shortlisted for the FIFPro World XI 2011.

Barcelona, with 11 players and Real Madrid, with 10, are the most represented clubs, followed by Manchester United (six) and Chelsea (five).

After Spain's Primera Division, which boats 22 players, comes the Premier League (18), Serie A (nine), and the Bundesliga (four, all from Bayern Munich).

Santos star Neymar is the only player from outside of a European league to make the shortlist.

The final list, which will contain one goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders and three forwards, will be announced at the Fifa Ballon d’Or ceremony in Zurich on January 9.

Below you can find the complete shortlist:

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy, Juventus), Iker Casillas (Spain, Real Madrid), Manuel Neuer (Germany, Bayern Munich), Victor Valdes (Spain, Barcelona), Edwin van der Sar (Netherlands, retired, formerly Manchester United).

Defenders: Eric Abidal (France, Barcelona), Dani Alves (Brazil, Barcelona), Ricardo Carvalho (Portugal, Real Madrid), Ashley Cole (England, Chelsea), Patrice Evra (France, Manchester United), Rio Ferdinand (England, Manchester United), Vincent Kompany (Belgium, Manchester City), Philipp Lahm (Germany, Bayern Munich), Lucio (Brazil, Inter), David Luiz (Brazil, Chelsea), Maicon (Brazil, Inter), Marcelo (Brazil, Real Madrid), Alessandro Nesta (Italy, AC Milan), Pepe (Portugal, Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Spain, Barcelona), Carles Puyol (Spain, Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid), Thiago Silva (Brazil, AC Milan), John Terry (England, Chelsea), Nemanja Vidic (Serbia, Manchester United).

Midfielders: Xabi Alonso (Spain, Real Madrid), Gareth Bale (Wales, Tottenham Hotspur), Sergio Busquets (Spain, Barcelona), Cesc Fabregas (Spain, Barcelona), Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona), Kaka (Brazil, Real Madrid), Frank Lampard (England, Chelsea), Nani (Portugal, Manchester United), Mesut Ozil (Germany, Real Madrid), Andrea Pirlo (Italy, Juventus), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany, Bayern Munich), David Silva (Spain, Manchester City), Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands, Inter), Yaya Toure (Cote d'Ivoire, Manchester City), Xavi (Spain, Barcelona).

Forwards: Sergio Aguero (Argentina, Manchester City), Karim Benzema (France, Real Madrid), Edinson Cavani (Uruguay, Napoli), Didier Drogba (Cote d'Ivoire, Chelsea), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon, Anzhi), Radamel Falcao (Colombia, Atletico Madrid), Mario Gomez (Germany, Bayern Munich), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden, AC Milan), Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona), Neymar (Brazil, Santos), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Real Madrid), Wayne Rooney (England, Manchester United), Luis Suarez (Uruguay, Liverpool), Robin van Persie (Netherlands, Arsenal), David Villa (Spain, Barcelona).

Saturday, 10 December 2011

'I dream of becoming a parent,' reveals Barcelona's Lionel Messi

"I dream of being a father," he told Argentine magazine Caras.

Messi has won numerous pieces of silverware on both a personal and collective level at Barcelona, but admits without the presence of his family he would have struggled to cope with the pressures of top-level football.

"In football, you are faced with many questions and can easily become unsettled. Having the support of my family made everything easier," he continued.

"My family were always near me and often said [family support] was essential and very important for my career, especially towards achieving my goals, which is most difficult. You can get many doubts and become disrupted by everything that happens."

The diminutive No.10 is also renowned for living a far more tranquil life in comparison to some of his peers, and made no secret that he prefers to live out of the spotlight - while devoting less of his time to video games.

"The truth is I live a very normal life," Messi continued. "I'd rather live quietly at home, and when I have to go shopping, I get it done without any problems.

"I got tired of the Playstation and play very little now. I have to meet many expectations of myself," he concluded.

Barcelona are currently three points behind Real Madrid and play host to Levante on Saturday. Kick-off at Camp Nou is scheduled for 20:00CET.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas dismisses claims he lost focus at Arsenal

In an interview with on Thursday, the Spain international decided to set the record straight about his tumultuous return to the Catalan giants during the summer, and said that only injury troubles prevented him from gaining any consistency in 2010-11.

"Not for one moment, because I never knew what the future held," Fabregas said. "I was an Arsenal player and under contract until 2014, so I wasn't thinking of leaving.

"Some people claimed that, just because I didn’t play very much and had a lot of injuries, that it was a bad season for me. I disagree. I still scored nine goals and made 20 assists.

"However, what is true is that I had one injury after another, and every time I got back to full fitness, something else would happen and I’d have to start again from scratch. For all that, mentally I was 100 per cent focused on Arsenal."

Fabregas was then quizzed on his current employers, and he voiced his delight at the speed of his transition into the Barca first-team. The World Cup winner has already found the net five times and has provided an impressive five assists to team-mates, despite arriving in late August.

"[My transition has been] very comfortable, happy in fact," said Fabregas. "I've been greatly encouraged by my good early-season form.

"To be honest, everyone at the club has been helping me a great deal, above all my team-mates, some of whom I've known for many years. In addition, the fans have been great with me, so I've really no complaints."

The 24-year-old then switched to the topic of the forthcoming Club World Cup in Japan, which kicks off on December 8.

"This is Barcelona and we're obliged to win every game. It's what people expect," said Fabregas. "That makes it mandatory for us and we have to deliver.

"It’s the same for Real Madrid, AC Milan, Manchester United, Juventus and Bayern, among others. That’s just the way it is at big clubs."

Barcelona will enter the competition at the semi-final stage with the fixture set to be played on December 15, and host Levante in La Liga on Saturday.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Andres Iniesta: Barcelona will not change attacking approach for Real Madrid showdown

The reigning Spanish and European champions currently lie second in the standings, three points behind their bitter rivals and having played one game more.

There had been speculation that Barca might approach the Clasico with a little more caution than usual, as a defeat would leave them with a mountain to climb in terms of retaining their title.

However, Iniesta claims that they will not change their attacking approach for the upcoming trip to the capital.

"We will try to win, [just] as we always have,” the midfielder told Barca TV. “For us, nothing changes.

“The situation is what it is and let's go for the win. Do not think it has to be different to previous seasons."

The Spain international also rubbished suggestions that Barcelona have already slipped too far behind Madrid to hold on to their crown.

"I do not agree that the league is already decided,” the 27-year-old said.

“My reading [of the situation] is different [because] we have the chance to win at the Bernabeu, [even though] we know it will be a very tough match."

Iniesta, who scored the winning goal in last year’s World Cup final, has had his injury problems this season, but made an impressive return to action in Tuesday’s 4-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Barcelona's Gerard Pique cleared to play against Real Madrid after avoiding further punishment for yellow card

The Spain defender was under investigation after collecting a booking for time-wasting in Tuesday night's La Liga win over Rayo Vallecano.

The yellow card was Pique's fifth of the season, thus ruling him out of this weekend's clash with Levante at Camp Nou.

Gerard Pique
There was a suggestion, though, that he may have got himself booked deliberately in order to avoid running the risk of being suspended for the Clasico.

However, after investigating the circumstances surrounding Pique's caution, taking into account the notes of match referee Miguel Angel Perez Lasa, the Competition Committee could find no evidence of anything untoward on the player's behalf.

Consequently, Pique will only serve a one-game suspension for his indiscretion and will therefore be free to face Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on December 10.

The news is a massive boost for Barcelona as Pique has established himself as a mainstay at the heart of the Catalans' defence since rejoining the club from Manchester United in 2008.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Sign Lionel Messi from Barcelona? Anything is possible at Anzhi Makhachkala, says Samuel Eto'o

The 30-year-old striker made waves in the summer when he decided to leave Serie A giants Inter in order to join the big-spending side and the former Barca striker is now reportedly the world's highest-earning player.

Eto'o expects that many more big names will follow him to Russia in the near future, claiming that his side now has the pulling power to attract the very best.

"Lots of players call me," he told France Football. "You would be surprised at their names.

"A few years ago, when a player was having difficulties with his club, they would be linked with Chelsea. Now, they are linked with Anzhi."

A move for Messi would seem unlikely, given the Argentine's repeated commitment to Barca, but Eto'o says anything is possible at his ambitious new club.

"Why not Leo?" he added. "Here, nothing is impossible.

"The owner [Suleyman Kerimov] can buy who he likes, although the player must also want to come here - and that is one of his missions.

"I just reply to players who want to know about it here and give some clues to the owners from time to time."

Eto'o also revealed his ideal XI for Anzhi, choosing former Camp Nou team-mates Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Victor Valdes and Ronaldinho in his perfect side.

"Messi is obligatory," he said. "[I would also have] Xavi and Iniesta, because they play great football, and Ronaldinho for his magic."

Eto'o also named himself in the team, along with Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, Cameroon team-mate Geremi, Manchester United full-back Patrice Evra and Inter defender Lucio.

Barcelona's Pep Guardiola urges players to focus on Levante rather than Real Madrid

"The most important match is always the next one, against Levante. We have to stay as consistent as possible. It all comes down to one thing, playing your game and trying to win," Guardiola said at the pre-match press conference.

Guardiola was then asked about his side's position in the table behind Real Madrid, but the Barca boss stressed that the current situation doesn't worry him.

"I don't want to waste my time talking about things we can't do anything about. You can always get behind in sport. When you are behind, you must have the ambition of trying to catch the leader. It's normal.

"Sometimes you can't do it, but if we weren't trying, we'd be doing something wrong. However, that is not the case. There is nothing odd about being behind such a strong team."

Barcelona currently sit second in the Primera Division table with 31 points from 14 games.

Monday, 5 December 2011

TEAM NEWS: Lionel Messi starts for Barcelona against Zaragoza

Lionel Messi starts for Barcelona in Saturday night's Primera Division clash at home to Zaragoza.

Messi's participation was uncertain after he underwent a long journey to feature for Argentina in their recent World Cup qualifiers this week, but the 24-year-old is named in a strong side which also sees centre-backs Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol both start, as well as youngster Isaac Cuenca.

Chile winger Alexis Sanchez also features from the outset, but David Villa is left out of the starting side for the fourth game in a row, while Andres Iniesta is also on the bench.

Sergio Busquets has been left out of the squad altogether - along with Pedro, who has recovered from injury - as coach Pep Guardiola looks ahead to Barca's midweek Champions League clash with AC Milan.

Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Alves, Pique, Puyol, Maxwell; Keita, Cesc, Xavi; Alexis, Messi, Cuenca.

Subs: Pinto, Abidal, Mascherano, Fontas, Iniesta, Thiago, Villa

Zaragoza (4-2-3-1): Roberto; E. Juarez, Mateos, Lanzaro, Paredes; Ponzio, Meira; Barrera, Luis García, J. Carlos; Postiga.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Vying for the Top Spot

With both teams already qualified, tomorrow night's clash at San Siro between AC Milan and FC Barcelona is all about claiming the top spot in Group H. With 10 points Barca is at the top of the group ahead of AC Milan by two points. Usually two draws from now should see us stay at top, but the problem for Barca is the thei last Group match will take place days ahead of the first Clasico.

Guardiola would want to give his boys some rest ahead of that Clasico, and hence the clash at San Siro becomes crucial. A win will secure our top place. He have to do without the service of Iniesta at San Siro, who has been ruled out due to a slight injury. That may not be a cause of hge concern for Guardiola, as he got Cesc Fabregas at his disposal. Our last visit to san Siro wasn't a pleasant one losing 3-1 to Inter Milan in the Champions League semi-final. Our recent away form in Champions league is not quite good, struggling to win against major team. So there are some issue Guardiola needs to tackle tomorrow. Meanwhile AC Milan who shocked us with a last minute draw at Camp Nou, will be vying for us at their own back yard. And they would have the service of Zlatan Ibrahimovic for tomorrow night's game.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Lionel, Messi and Xavi Were Both Excellent Night, That's No Surprise

There was no doubt that Milan was successfully stretching our back three towards the end and they needed some cover. Moreover two of them were booked and there was a serious chance of seeing red card without some help. So the big question was whether Guardiola will go for a 4 man defense in second half. But Guardiola thought otherwise and continued with the three man defense. AC Milan brought in Pato at the start of second half. In the 49th minute Cesc Fabregas had a decent penalty shout after he was brought down by Abate, but the referee thought otherwise. In the 51st minute Xavi plays a lobbed ball spotting Messi's run, but once again Abbiati did well to deny Messi. In the 53rd minute Boateng equalised for AC Milan after he thundered past Valdes following a neat piece of skill. Valdes was the one at fault there getting beaten up at the near post. In the 63rd minute Xavi put us once again ahead with a trademark Barca move. The moves started the move by giving the ball to Messi, who I don't know still how played a through ball between four players to find Xavi in the box, who made no mistake with the finish.

In the 66th minute Nesta was taken off after pulling harmstring and that should have been some relief for our attackers. Everyone was expecting Guardiola to bring in Pique, but he had other ideas bring Sanchez for Villa. In the 69th minute Abbiati made two brilliant save off Sanchez from a well taken Thiago free kick. In the 80th minute Cesc was taken off for Pedro. WE once again went into the last ten minutes with only a goal lead and that made sure that the final minutes were going to be a bit nervy for Barca fans. In the injury time Guardiola brought in Jonathan dos Santos in place of Thiago.

What a match, or should I say, Goal fest? It may not have been the best match defensively but in the offence we were brilliant. We should have atleast scored half a dozen goals had it not been for an excelllent performance from Abbiati. We looked very confused in defense whenever Milan managed to stretch our three man defense. In that sense, this match was a perfect example of when not to use the three man defense. I had earlier wrote about this topic have a look - 4-3-3 versus 3-4-3. Coming to individual performance, for me the pick of the player would be Thiago. He was brilliant tonight, maybe a bit slow in tracking back at occasion. But how can you ask more from a player who is at the first season with senior team. Lionel, Messi and Xavi were both excellent night, that's no surprise. Strangely Cesc who started the match well went anonymous after sometime and villa had another off night. The rest of the team did well collectively. For all the defensive problems, the final outcome from tonight's match is that we secured the top spot and now rest enough players against Bate Borisov.

Friday, 2 December 2011

We started with a 3 man defense but opening exchanges saw Milan pushing hard and Busquets constantly have to drop into the back line. In the 4th minute David Villa shot high and wide from a bit of promising target. In the 5th minute Xavi played a brilliant ball to Thiago in the box, who couldn't bring the ball under control. In the 14th minute Xavi put Barca 1-0 ahead which was a result of a brilliant move. All the credit for the goal should go to Thiago. He went and won a ball from an impossible position, then played it back to Messi in the middle, who found Keita on the left of box, who inturn threaded a great ball into middle which was diverted into goal by Xavi or maybe Van Bommel at the far post. In the 17th minute Thiago danced into the box from right before putting an awesome lobbed ball for Cesc, but Fabregas' shot was well saved by Abiati. In the 19th minute Robinho had a great chance to equalise when he somehow managed to shot high on an open goal.

But Ibrahimovic in the very next minute managed to equalise for AC Milan anyway. The move cam from Seedorf on the left who slipped the ball into Ibrahimovic in the middle. That move did expose the three man defense, but Thiago had to take the majority of blam for not tracking Seedorf's run. In the 23rd minute Messi shot at the cross bar from another brilliant move which involved Cesc and Xavi. That should have put us 2-1 ahead as we don't see Messi miss like that infront of an open goal.

In the 29th minute Xavi won us a penalty after he was brought down by Aquilani in the box. The move was brilliant started by Xavi who slipped the ball to Cesc, who played a brilliant reverse pass to find Xavi's run. Messi stopped in while taking the penalty and was booked, but Messi made no mistake even with the second attempt putting us 2-1 ahead. The referee in the whole melee booked Nesta instead of Aquilani, who was already on a yellow. In the 33rd minute Abiati pulled out an impossible save from Villa to deny us from increasing the lead. In the 39th minute Messi went in a great run skipping past three challenges, but Abiati once again made the save. In the 41st minute Mascernao pulled off a brilliant save from equalising for AC Milan. AC Milan managed to stretch our back three with Boetang trying to use the flank. In the 44th minute Puyol got booked for bringing down Boetang just outside the box. We somehow managed to keep that free kick from going into the goal. In the injury time Abidal got booked for pulling down Robinho and conceded another free kick, this time right on the box. We managed to deal with that also.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Barca Secures Top Spot in a Five Goal Thriller, AC Milan - 2, Barca -3

FC Barcelona secured the top spot of Group H in Champions League with a high tempo thrilling 3-2 victory against AC Milan. An own goal from Van Bommel, a penalty from Messi and another beautiful goal from xavi completed Barca's socreline, whereas Ibrahimovic and Boateng scored for AC Milan. In a match which put to practice the Galacticos principle (that is we will outscore you, no matter what), Barca emerged victorious. It was a tough place to test the three man defense but the team pulled out a brilliant win. Barca fans wanted to shore up the defense everytime we took the lead, as we were getting stretched in the defense. But guardiola was throwing attackers after attackers.

He was proven right by him team. With this victory Barcelona has secured the top spot. That means we can relax for Bate Borisove visit to Camp Nou on Decen=mber 7th. That should give Guardiola enough chance to rest his major players ahead of the first Clasico on December 11th. Guardiola lined up with Valdes, Puyol, Mascherano, BUsquets, Abidal, Keita, Xavi, Thiago, Fabregas, Messi and Villa. AC Milan mean while lined up in a normal 4-3-3 formation with, Abbiati, Zambrotta, Silva, Nesta, Abate, Van Bommel, Seedorf, Aquilani, Boateng, Ibrahimovic and Robinho.

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