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FC Barcelona have played 13 times at San Siro with four victories, four draws, and five losses.
Giuseppe Meazza Stadium in Milan, commonly known as San Siro, will host the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League Final on May 28th 2016. Barça know it well having played there 13 times, achieving four victories along with four draws and five defeats.
Rivaldo, Giuly, and Xavi have all shone
The 13 matches played there included battles against both AC Milan and Inter Milan. Barça have defeated AC Milan three times there, tied twice and lost three times. The last two Barça wins there were extra special, coming in the first leg of the 2005/06 Champions League semifinals and in the 2011/12 group stage, when Giuly and Xavi led them to victory.
Further back, the team won in Milan in the 1959/60 season, and years later, Rivaldo turned in some incredibly stunning performances like his hat trick in a 3-3 draw in the 2000/01 season.
Nevertheless, the team has only beaten Inter there once. It happened way back in the 1959/60 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. But since then Barça has only managed two ties and two defeats, the most recent being a devastating Champions League semifinal loss in 2009/10.
The stadium will be celebrating its 88th anniversary on September 19th, 2014. It was also expanded in 1956 and renovated in 1989.
Luis Enrique was able to get almost everyone into the match
22 players used in the four games played so far this season
Once the match against APOEL was over, Luis Enrique reiterated that he wanted all his players to feel important. Based on how he has managed the team thus far, he means what he says. In four matches, the coach has called on 22 players. Only Luis Suarez, serving a suspension, the injured Masip and Vermaelen, and the newly signed Douglas have yet to appear.
Barça v APOEL by the numbers:
- Of the 22 players used thus far, 21 have started at least once. The only exception is Sandro, who has subbed in three times.
- Only two players, Messi and Munir, have started all four games so far. They are followed by Bravo, Mathieu, Alba, Sergio and Rakitic with three starts each.
- Messi is the only player to have played all 360 minutes this season.
- Ter Stegen, Bartra, Adriano, Samper, Sergi Roberto, Xavi and Neymar Jr. all made their first starts of the season against APOEL.
- In fact, the game marked the official debut for both Ter Stegen and Samper.
- In the first four matches, five different players have scored: Messi (2), Neymar (2), Munir, Sandro and Piqué.
- The match against APOEL was the first time this season that no ça player was shown a yellow.
- It was the team's fourth consecutive shutout.
- Dani Alves played his 300th career game for FC Barcelona. He has 20 goals in that time.
- Alves also led the team with 11,322 meters covered. He was followed by Samper (11,296m) and Adriano (11,283m).
- Gerard Piqué scored his 21st career goal for Barça. It was his seventh overall Champions League goal, and his second in a Champions League opener.
- Xavi is now tied with Raúl González as the all time leader in Champions League matches played, with 142.
- FC Barcelona as a team is now just one goal shy of 500 all time in Champions League play.
The FC Barcelona manager also defended his decision to make nine changes and said he'd do the same thing again
“It's not easy to attack teams like those" he added. "We'll show the players where they need to imrpove. We can't settle for that, we need to be better."
First Champions League game and first win. “We found it hard to make the right choices over the final metres” said Luis Enrique, who was nevertheless positive about his side’s one goal victory against APOEL. “We have great, quality players but we didn’t get through on goal for a variety of reasons. We weren’t at our best over the final metres. We weren’t moving the ball around fast enough.”
On the issue of the three goalkeepers he commented that “it’s not a position like the others. But I have three great keepers and I’ll use them. I don’t believe in the cliché of a first choice keeper. I want them all to be ready. I didn’t tell them who would play, that’s my idea. I expect us to get results, and I have total faith that we will. I’m not associating any one keeper with any one competition. I want them all to be prepared and I’ll deal with them my way.”
He went on to say that “they put ten players behind the ball. It’s not easy to attack a team like that, but they did create some danger. We scored from a set piece and we’re working on those, so I’m glad it came off … We managers worry when things don’t go to plan. These aren’t easy games, APOEL played a serious game … We’ll be showing the players what they need to get better. We can’t settle for this, we have to play better. I am sure we can make even better players of the players we have.”
Luis Enrique handed Sergi Samper his debut tonight in a Champions League match of all things. “I know Samper very well” he said. “He has personality. He only made one mistake. He carried the team well and is a great finding for the club. He’ll help us on this journey.” And on Xavi he commented that “he seems fine to me. I’ve spoken with him and we’ve got a good relationship. And Piqué brings a lot of joy to the team. He’s a great player and I’m so happy he scored.”
Asked about the nine changes he made to the team that played at the weekend, he concluded that “perhaps our play was less fluid because of all the rotations, but I’m sticking to my guns. I need my whole team, although I’m sure I’ll get it wrong sometimes. We can’t always win 3-0 or 4-0, but I have total faith in my players.”
The midfielder led the team with 107 passes, more than both Alves (101) and Adriano (100).
Sergi Samper's dreams came true on Wednesday night, making his first appearance for FC Barcelona. And it was a night he won't be forgetting anytime soon.
It was early Wednesday morning when Luis Enrique announced who would be dressing for the match. Samper's name was called. The Barça B midfielder, who has played for the club since he was six years old, was finally getting his shot.
Just before 7.00 PM CET more news came. Samper was designated to start the match, taking over from his idol, Sergio Busquets, a star player who he had been working hard to imitate in recent years.
Samper certainly didn't play like someone making his debut. Flawless in the opening minutes, his simple and efficient ball control fit right in with the team's clockwork passing game. He led the team with 107 passes, 98 of which were on target, more than both Alves (101) and Adriano (100).
“I felt very comfortable”
After the game, Samper spoke to the Barça TV programme El Marcador and explained: “I’m very happy to have made my debut at the Camp Nou in the Champions League. It’s a dream for me and I’m very happy. I felt comfortable playing out there – with these players around you, it’s really easy. I’m very happy to be here and grateful for the confidence shown in me”.
As to the game itself, Sampere explained: “it wasn’t easy, we weren’t as comfortable on the pitch as we had expected. The three points are welcome – it was important to win and that will set us up nicely in terms of confidence”
The Brazilian is over his knee trouble and is available for selection against APOEL
Douglas makes the squad for the first time, and it's Montoya, Busquets, Pedro, Mascherano and Jordi Alba who are dropped
But Barça B's Samper, Sandro and Munir are all included
The squad of eighteen has been announced for tonight’s Champions League fixture with APOEL. Dani Alves is included after being declared fully recovered from his knee injury, and fellow Brazilian Douglas has been named in the side for the first time since arriving at FC Barcelona.
Luis Enrique and his staff have opted to leave out Montoya, Busquets, Pedro, Mascherano and Jordi Alba, while the injured Vermaelen will also sit the game out. But Samper, Sandro and Munir, all of Barça B, get the nod.
The complete squad of 18 versus APOEL:
Ter Stegen, C. Bravo, Piqué, Rakitic, Xavi, A. Iniesta, Messi, Neymar, Rafinha, Bartra, Douglas, Sergi Roberto, Adriano, Dani Alves, Mathieu, Samper, Sandro & Munir.
All 519 members who requested tickets to see FC Barcelona visit Paris Saint-Germain in Champions League play on September 30th will be able to see the game live in France.
Ticket requests for FC Barcelona's second Champions League group match, versus Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, September 30th at Parc des Princes in Paris, were no longer being accepted as of this Tuesday at 7.00 PM CET. Since the club began taking requests on Monday morning, club members have requested a total of 519 tickets through 227 separate requests, all of which will be fulfilled, giving everyone who wanted to the chance to go and see the game live.
Since fewer tickets were requested than the total available for members (1,496), the draw that was scheduled for this Wednesday will not be held.
For Barça, the match in Paris will come after their week six Liga match versus Granada at the Camp Nou and before their week seven Liga match at Rayo Vallecano in Madrid. It will be the club's third official visit to Paris Saint-Germain's home field. In their two previous visits, they were defeated 2-1 in 1995 and came away with a 2-2 draw in 2013.
Munir, Sandro, Jordi Masip, Ter Stegen and Douglas could be among those making their Champions League debut versus APOEL
Luis Enrique to make first Champions League appearance as a head coach
The UEFA Champions League is Europe's biggest stage and where legends are born. It is what all players aspire to. Appearing in this competition is a milestone for any Barça player. This year, the opening match brings with it the possible debut of up to four players: Munir, Sandro Ramirez, Douglas Pereira and goalkeepers Ter Stegen and Jordi Masip. Luis Enrique will also be making his first Champions League appearance as a head coach.
Sandro Ramirez and Munir, technically still Barça B players, have enjoyed significant playing time in the first three Liga matches. Munir was also called up to play for the Spanish national team. The young striker of Spanish and Moroccan origin has been in excellent form and could make his Champions League debut on Wednesday.
Douglas, on the other hand, has not yet appeared for FC Barcelona. If he gets into the game against APOEL on Wednesday, he would not only be making his Champions League debut, but also his FC Barcelona debut.
One of the team's new goalkeepers, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen of Germany, played one game in the 2012 qualifying stage with his old team, Borussia Monchengladbach. They lost that match 3-1 to Dynamo Kiev. Another goalkeeper, Jordi Masip, who played with Barça B last season, has only appeared in two friendlies, against HJK Helsinki and at the Trofeo Colombino, versus Recreativo Huelva. He didn't concede a single goal in either game. Both keepers could also make their Champions League debuts against APOEL.
Luis Enrique making first appearance
One thing for sure is that Luis Enrique will be making his first head coaching appearance in the Champions League. Although he played in the competition many times as a player, he never got the chance to coach on Europe’s biggest stage at either of his previous clubs, Roma or Celta. And he also missed out on the chance to manage Roma in the Europa League in 2011/12 when his side was knocked out by Slovan Bratislava in the qualifying round.
The Apoel keeper spent eight years at FC Barcelona and describes how much he benefited from the club's values
The son of a Basque father and a Galician mother, Urko Pardo started out at Anderlecht in Belgium, and then spent eight years of his youth years at Futbol Club Barcelona. The goalkeeper has dual Belgian and Spanish nationality, and has played for Apoel for the last three seasons. After beating HJK Helsinki of Finland and Aalborg of Denmark in the qualifying rounds, the Cypriot outfit are through to the group stages of the Champions League for the third time, and fate determined that Pardo will now be up against his former club. He spoke to us about his life in Cyprus, and also his fond memories of his time at Barça.
How’s your Cypriot experience going?
Very well. I’ve been here for three years, since the 2011/12 season, and I’m very happy. Yes, the football here is very different, but it’s also very competitive. Being a small island, people don’t follow our league very much, but there’s a strong level and it’s an interesting competition. There may not be much of a history to Cypriot football, but the league is very competitive.
Are you looking forward to playing at the Camp Nou?
We’re very much looking forward to playing there and enjoying it. But we’re cool about it. We’ve got a bit of European experience behind us and we’re confident about the game.
Is Cypriot football very different to in the rest of Europe?
A lot of foreigners come here. A lot of Brazilians, Portuguese, Spaniards and so on. And all those different players sort of bring their experiences here, because there isn’t much of a history of youth football in Cyprus. There’s no Masia or academies like that. The football here is more technical and physical than in other European countries.
Are there any parallels between the Spanish and Cypriot leagues?
More than parallels, I’d say differences. For a start, there’s a big difference in the clubs’ budgets. But because of the world financial crisis, a lot of players from elsewhere have come here and that’s helped to raise the level. This league is growing.
What are Apoel’s strong points?
We are a team that works hard for each other. A team that shares the workload and gives everything on the pitch. We’ve got European experience. Most of us have played in European competitions already. And we’re very keen.
What do you expect from the trip to Barcelona?
To get a good result, why not? We are coming as a quality unit and we want to try to balance the result. Like I said, we’ve got European experience and we’re confident we can get a good result at the Camp Nou.
Who are the standout players in the Apoel team?
To be honest, if I were to name anyone, it would be disrespectful to the others. But of course, any of the strikers in this team are dangerous.
Tell us about your experience at FC Barcelona. What memories do you have of your eight years at the club?
I have wonderful memories of my time at Barça. I always felt really comfortable there. Of course I took some time to adapt at first, but once I did, I learned so much. I identify with the club’s values. With how it concentrates on youth players. Barça made me a good footballer but also a good person. I’m very grateful to the club.
After leaving Barça, you went club-hopping around Europe. How was that experience?
Truth is, it was not a hard decision to leave the club. The situation was different back then. There weren’t as many openings for young players. We weren’t shown the same confidence, and I thought it would be better to try my luck abroad. First, I went to the Greek league to play for Iraklis FC, and after that I was at Olympiakos.
Did you play in the Champions League for Olympiakos?
In 2009/10, when we got to the second round. We lost to Bordeaux. Playing in Europe always provides experience.
What do you think of the new-look Barça under Luis Enrique?
I think it’s a team that’s been reformed, but that has stuck to its foundations. It seems to be going well so far. Of course, it’s a great team that’s hard to beat.
Have you ever played at the Camp Nou?
Not in an official match, no. Only in training. Once, in the 2002/03 season, but I was unlucky at tore cruciate ligaments in the last game of that season.
The former FC Barcelona player is now managing Cypriot side AEK Larnaca, and he offered a few pointers regarding the side that visits the Camp Nou on Wednesday
He singled out Vinicius, Aloneftis and Manduca as the dangermen and predicts they'll use a defensive 4-4-2 approach against FCB
Thomas Christiansen took up his first managerial post just a few months ago at AEK Larnaca, and recently faced Apoel FC in the Cypriot championship. So he was the perfect man for fcbarcelona.com to speak to on its quest to learn more about Barça’s opening opponents in the Champions League.
How are you settling into your new life Cyprus?
“I’m happy. It’s my first managing job and we just beat title hopefuls Apollon 5-2 away in the first match. Then we lost to Apoel, but we played well. There’s an optimistic mood among the squad”.
What are AEK Larnaca aiming to do this season?
“To qualify for the title playoffs. The top six teams go through and that’s our target. But we’ll take things one game at a time”.
You lost to Apoel two weeks ago.
“We were able to play with them, but there is a big difference in our respective budgets and they ended up beating us. But it was a serious game. We kept our shape and caused them problems. But you can’t make mistakes against the big teams. Apoel are a good team”.
What would you say their main virtues are?
“They have a strong squad. I think they’re the best side in Cyprus, both individually and as a group. Apoel are most dangerous in attack. They have some top class players like De Vincenti, Aloneftis and Manduca, who got two against us. And I’d highlight Vinicius, he’s the engine of the team, a very hard worker and he gets through on goal. He scored in both legs of the Champions League qualifier”.
Do they have any weak spots?
“I’d day in defence. They move about a lot and have a tendency to leave spaces, and that’ll be especially true if Barça have two men coming at them down the wing. Apoel are a good side, but if Barça get the ball moving around fast, I don’t think they’ll cause too many problems”.
What kind of tactics do you think Apoel will use?
“I’m sure they’ll go for 4-4-2. They don’t create much pressure up front, and less so against Barça. In fact, they didn’t even do that much against us. I guess they’ll try to keep it tight at the back to stop Barça from getting the ball through the middle, which is why I think Barça should try to get the ball moving quick up the wings”.
They’re all saying that Apoel is the weak side in Group F. What do you think?
“They’ve been drawn in a group that they’ll find hard going. But Apoel are especially strong in their stadium. The fans get right behind them and no foreign teams ever get many goals there. You need to be brave to come to Cyprus and win”.
Finally, from afar, what’s your impression of Barça under Luis Enrique?
“To be honest I’ve only been able to see one Barça game since he took over, but from what I can gather, he’s using the same ideas as ever”.
Goalkeeper Urko Pardo was once at FC Barcelona and John Arne Riise played alongside Mascherano at Liverpool
Wednesday’s meeting will be the first ever between Apoel FC and FC Barcelona, but there are certain links between the two teams.
The most obvious is the man in goal for the Cypriot champions, Urko Pardo. Born in Brussels but to Spanish parents, he was part of the FCB academy from 2001 to 2005, and made 12 appearances for Barça B on Division 2B. He then had spells at Cartagena and Sabadell before coming back to Barça in the 2006/07 season and playing six more games for the reserves. His first foreign club was Iraklis of Greece. Then he went to Rapid Bucharest, although he spent most his time on loan to Olympiakos back in Greece before joining his current club in 2011.
The most famous name in the Apoel squad is John Arne Riise, the Norwegian signed just a few weeks ago and an old friend of Javier Mascherano. He and the Argentinian were together at Liverpool until 2008, when Riise left for AS Roma.
Curiously, just a few days after Riise left Roma to return to England in June 2011, this time to Fulham, Luis Enrique took over as manager of the Italian outfit.
Tiago Gomes, winner at the Camp Nou
One final tie between the clubs involves Tiago Gomes. The Portuguese midfielder played for Malaga in the 2007/08 season and for Hercules of Alicante from 2009 to 2011. In his final year with Hercules he got his first and only taste of First Division football in Spain, and was there to savour his side’s historic 2-0 win at the Camp Nou in the second day of the season. It may not have been the best of starts to Barça’s campaign, but they went on to do the Liga and Champions League double.
FC Barcelona's next opponents left it late before finally getting the better of Ermis Aradippo
Ajax also won, but PSG could only draw with Rennes
FC Barcelona’s first Champions League opponents will be APOEL Nicosia, who struggled to pick up a 1-0 win at home to Ermis Aradippou today. The tie was deadlocked until the 88th minute, when Sherindan finally grabbed the winner that leaves his side top of the Cypriot First Division.
Another of the teams in Group F, Ajax Amsterdam also won today, 2-1 against Heracles Almelo. Polish striker Milik got both the goals in a match that Frank de Boer’s side dominated from start to finish, the only blemish being a late consolation goal for the visitors with four minutes remaining. Ajax are now three points adrift of leaders with PSV, who play later on this evening.
But it was not such a bright day for PSG as they played their final league match before taking on the Dutch in the UCL. They opted to rest both Thiago Silva and David Luiz against Rennes and despite taking the lead through Camara just before the break, they failed to take command of the match and eventually N'tep claimed an equaliser for the home side. The draw leaves PSG one point behind leaders Bordeaux, who have a game in hand.
Members only will be able to apply for tickets from 10.00 AM CET
FC Barcelona has 1,496 seats to offer, and if there are more requests than supplies, there will be a draw before a notary on September 17
From Monday September 15 at 10.00 AM CET until Tuesday 16 at 7.00 PM CET, the club website at www.fcbarcelona.com will be available for applications for tickets for the second game of the Champions League group stage away to Paris Saint-Germain to be played in the French capital from Tuesday September 30.
The process is only open to members, and involves filling in a form that will be available in the ‘Members’ section of the website, Members may only apply for one ticket each but up to four may take part in the same application in order to be able to travel together.
Allocation of 2,200 tickets
FC Barcelona has 2,200 seats in the Parc des Princes for sale to its supporters at a single price per unit of 55 euros. As usual, 85% of the tickets will go to members (1,496) and supporters clubs (374). The remaining 15% (330) will be used for sporting and institutional commitments, as well as sponsors.
Possible draw on September 17
All applications will be dealt with after the end of the established period. If there are more applications than available tickets, on Wednesday September 17 there will be a draw before a notary from among all of the applicant members. Between September 17 and 18, the club shall make an announcement to the winning members, who will be able to collect their tickets from the 22nd to 23rd, from 9.00 AM CET to 5.00 PM CET from the Camp Nou tickets offices at Access 15.
No fewer than 22 Barça players were also at Ajax Amsterdam
FC Barcelona's Champions League campaign starts against the Cypriot champions on September 17
Former youth goalkeeper Urko Pardo, who played alongside Messi at La Masia, is among the APOEL squad
“I'm leaving happy" said the FC Barcelona manager. And I hope that all we've talked about will help to unify criteria for the next edition of the Champions League"
Luis Enrique has spent Tuesday and Wednesday at UEFA Elite Club Coaches Forum in Nyon (Switzerland), and before returning to Barcelona he commented on what a positive experience it has been.
Speaking to www.fcbarcelona.com, the FC Barcelona coach said that "it’s been really interesting to attend this two-day meeting in Nyon. We have learned about the new regulations for the Champions League next season and analyzed each of our different views about the competition ... I'm leaving happy. And I hope that all we've talked about will help to unify criteria for the next edition of the Champions League"."
Meeting among friends
Luis Enrique already knew most of the managers who were attending the meeting, and which included a particularly familiar face in former FCB first team boss Pep Guardiola. “It was like a friendly gathering of old friends that hadn’t been together for a long time” he said. “It was an enriching experience to able to talk to people like Pep Guardiola, Michel, Rafa Benitez, Unai Emery, Mourinho and Filippo Inzagi, and in a laid back, cordial environment.”
The FC Barcelona manager joined the coaches of several other elite clubs, including Pep Guardiola
Luis Enrique travelled to Switzerland this Wednesday to attend the annual meeting of elite coaches organised by UEFA at its headquarters in Nyon, where he was joined by former Barça and current Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola.
On arrival, he attended lunch at the Hotel La Reserve in Geneva along with such fellow managers as Michel (Olympiakos), Unai Emery (Sevilla), Filippo Inzaghi (AC Milan), André Villas Boas (Zenit) and Laurent Blanc (PSG), who he played alongside at FC Barcelona in the 96-97 season and who he’ll be meeting again in the Champions League group stage.
Two days of meetings
After lunch, the players went to the UEFA headquarters in Nyon for the traditional group photo, which is where Luis Enrique firdst coincided with Pep Guardiola, who is not only a former team-mate, but was also first team manager while he was in charge of Barça B from 2009 to 2011. From now until Thursday, the coaches will be attending a series of meetings at which they will be discussing different aspects of UEFA competitions and refereeing issues.
The Forum will end with dinner at the UEFA headquarters, after which Luis Enrique will be returning to Barcelona in time for the first team training session scheduled for 6.30 PM CET at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper.
Sales will open next Tuesday, first of all exclusively for club members
Sales of Champions League group stage tickets will open next Tuesday 10 September from 10.00 AM CET. The three visitors to the Camp Nou will be APOEL Nicosia, Ajax Amsterdam and Paris Saint Germain.
On the first day, only non-season ticket holding FC Barcelona members will be able to purchase these tickets, and get a special 20% discount on the cost. They day after, September 3, and also at 10.00 AM CET, sales will be open to the general public.
They will be available for purchase via www.fcbarcelona.com or www.ticketmaster.com, by phoning 902 18 99 00, from official FCB stores, Barcelona Tourism Information Centres, FNAC, Carrefour and the club ticket offices.
FC Barcelona’s Champions League 2014/15 campaign kicks off at the Camp Nou against Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia on September 17, with the price of tickets ranging from 39 to 114 euros. On the third day of competition, October 21, the guests will be Ajax, and tickets for that game will range between 49 and 139 euros. The group closes with FCB at home to French side PSG on December 10, tickets costing between 59 and 159 euros.
PSG, Ajax and APOEL will be visiting the Camp Nou in the first phase of the 2014/15 Champions League
FC Barcelona learned on Thursday evening that their 2014/15 Champions League bid will commence in Group F, which they’ll share with Paris Saint Germain, Ajax Amsterdam and Apoel Nicosia, the respective league champions of France, Holland and Cyprus.
Paris Saint Germain
The winners of the last two editions of French Ligue 1 last faced FC Barcelona in the Champions League quarter finals two years ago. A gripping affair ended 3-3 on aggregate, with the Catalans progressing by virtue of the away goals rule. The game is also a re-edition of the 1997 Cup Winners Cup Final in Rotterdam, also won by Barça, 1-0 thanks to a 38th minute Ronaldo penalty.
Barça’s squad that 1996/97 season included French defender Laurent Blanc, although he was forced to sit out the final through injury. The same man is now into his second season on the PSG bench, and he’s not the only connection between the Parisian outfit and FCB. Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic joined Barça from Inter Milan in 2009, and Brazilians Thiago Motta and Maxwell also spent time in the Catalan capital. The PSG squad contains two other big names from Brazil, David Luiz and Thiago Silva, plus other top quality players of the calibre of Lavezzi, Cavani, Marquinhos, Matuidi and Cabaye.
Barça and Ajax had never met each other in a competitive match until they were paired together in the group stages of last season’s Champions League. Under Tata Martino, Barça had few problems beating the Dutch 4-0 at the Camp Nou, but were beaten 2-1 at the Amsterdam Arena, albeit after already having sealed qualification from the group.
Ajax have made up for a seven-year spell without touching the Eredivisie trophy by winning the last four editions. Now managed by Frank de Boer, who played for Barça between 1999 and 2003, the squad includes several players that impressed at the World Cup, including goalkeeper Cillessen and defender Daley Blind. As tends to be the case, Ajax have an extremely young side, in which the oldest player, Moslander, is only 30 years old and most of the team were born in the 1990s..
This will be the first ever meeting between Barça and the most successful side in Cypriot football history, APOEL, who famously made it all the way to the Champions League quarter finals two years ago. In fact, it’s only the second time Barça have ever been drawn against Cypriot opposition. The last and only time was the 1996-97 Cup Winners Cup campaign under Bobby Robson, when Barça played and beat AEK Larnaca in the first round.
APOEL made it into the group stages of the competition for the third time by first beating HJK Helsinki, curiously enough just a few days after the Finns had played Barça in a preseason friendly, and then Danish side Aalborg 5-1 on aggregate. The squad includes Spaniard Urko Pardo, who spent three years at La Masia, where he shared a dressing room with the likes of Messi and Iniesta.
The Brazilian full-back, who scored the winning goal in the Champions League final in Paris, and was also World Champion with Brazil, talks about the World Cup and his time at Barça
Stade de France. 17 May 2006. Champions League Final. In the 81st minute of the Champions League Final between FC Barcelona and Arsenal, Belletti receives a pass on the right wing and plays a one-two with Larsson. Belletti takes the return pass, advances on goal and tries a cross shot, which goes through the legs of goalkeeper Almunia and ends up in the net, putting Barça ahead 2-1
The Barça players celebrated wildly in the rain in Paris, and the outpouring of joy extended to Barcelona, in one of the greatest celebrations ever seen in Catalonia. It was the goal that secured Barça’s second Champions League and would immortalise forever the Brazilian defender.
Juliano Haus Belletti (38) won two Spanish League titles, was the hero of the Champions League in Paris, and was part of the great team coached by Frank Rijkaard. All these achievements came after winning the World Cup with Brazil in 2002.
From what we’ve seen so far, do you think that Brazil can win this World Cup?
“I think so, but it won’t be easy. I expected them to suffer against Chile, as they are a great team, but I think that Brazil are getting better, and could well be Champions".
You are one of the fortunate players to win a World Cup. In your experience, what is the most important aspect to winning a competition like this?
"You have to play intelligently, and be focused the whole time, but most important is to improve with very game, especially in a competition as balanced as we are seeing here in Brazil. This is paramount".
What did winning the title mean to you? Did it change your career or your personal life?
"It's a source of pride for family, friends, and everybody in general. It’s priceless. On a professional level it’s also very rewarding. There are great Brazilian players who have never won this title. Very few have won a World Cup and being part of that group fills me with great pride that will stay with me forever”.
When you think about the World Cup, what is the first memory that comes to mind?
"When I went onto the pitch during the semi-final against Turkey, in 2002. A game of this magnitude is never forgotten. I’m from Cascavel (Paraná) and to achieve something like that is very hard".
TIME AT FC BARCELONA
What do you miss most about your time at FC Barcelona?
"Nothing specifically. As a professional, the major part of my career was spent at Barcelona, and everything was special. I can say that I am very proud of having played for this great club, and with such great players".
Why is Barça 'More than a club'?
"Because it wins trophies in all sporting disciplines. On the other hand, for the Club’s way of dealing with the families of the athletes, as it does with real care and in a special way, and also the special attention paid to the players themselves. Everything is done for you, and you only have to worry about playing. This is very important”.
You played with Messi at the start of his career. Does it surprise you how well he’s done and his four Golden Balls won?
"He was a special player, wanting to do something important. It was clear that he would be a great player, but nobody imagined that he would go so far. I must confess that I was surprised, because winning four 'Golden Balls', and maintaining that level for so many years is impressive. Nobody has done that before".
I don’t know if you are aware of what you signify for FC Barcelona. That goal in Paris, Barça’s second Champions League, made you immortal. What do you think about this?
"I remember the fantastic celebrations, some of the largest ever seen in Catalonia, but I’m not really too aware of it, as I live in Brazil and in the end you lose a bit of contact. Anyway, the Club gave me a replica of the Champions League trophy, which I have in my house. It’s very rewarding, because it was a title really tough to win, probably tougher than the ones which came later".
What’s your take on the changes that Barça are undergoing?
"What’s happening now is slightly different from our time. During that time, the problem was losing players. Now, age is the issue and, therefore, it’s an inevitable change. I don’t think that Barça has lost in quality, but the age of the players prevents them from maintaining the level shown in the past, and pressurising the opposition as they did before".
Do you think that Neymar will become an FC Barcelona idol?
"I think the same is happening with him as it did with Messi. In our time, Messi had a fixed position on the pitch. With the arrival of Guardiola, he got more freedom and he became the player he is. I think that Neymar also needs to show his full potential. In the National Team he has total freedom and is the star. In Barça he may well become the same”.
If you had to send a message to the Barça fans who always will remember you, what would it be?
"When I was signed, I just wanted to give enjoyment to Barça and the fans. I never imagined that I would become part of the life of the Barça fans. Having achieved that is a great honor, and fills me with pride. I couldn’t ever ask for more".
A total of 55 teams will feature in the qualifying rounds, and only 10 will advance to the group stage. FC Barcelona are one of the 21 teams that are already qualified for the first stage of the tournament
Luis Enrique's FC Barcelona will kick off its bid to win the title on the 16th or 17th of September
The 2014/15 Champions League is taking shape. A total of 32 teams will feature in the tournament, 22 of which are already qualified for the group stage. FC Barcelona are one of the 22 teams that are already qualified for the group stage. The competition will start on the 16th or 17th of September.
The first games of the competition will be the qualifying rounds (1/2 and 8/9 of July), when the first six teams of the first round will battle it out for a spot in the next stage of the qualifiers. Among these six teams are FC Santa Coloma, from Andorra.
The second round of qualifiers will see 31 teams enter the fray, among them former European champions Celtic Glasgow and Steaua Bucharest. The draw for the first and second round of qualifiers took place this Monday in Nyon, Switzerland. Of the 55 teams that will feature in the qualifiers, only 10 will advance to the group stage.
The group stage will kick off in September and end on the 9th and 10th of December. The Champions League will return in February (17-18 and 24-25) and March (10-11 and 17-18) with the Round of 16. The quarter-finals will be played on the 14th and 15th and the 21st and 22nd of April, while the semi-finals will be played on the 5th and 6th and 12th and 13th of May. The final is scheduled for the 6th of June 2015, at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.
Pep Guardiola's Barça claimed the Club's third Champions League title five years ago today (May 27, 2009)
In the final played in Rome, the Blaugrana defeated Manchester United 2-0 thanks to goals from Eto'o and Messi
This Tuesday, 27 May, is the fifth anniversary of the Champions League title won in Rome against Manchester United. The team managed by Pep Guardiola reached the final thanks to Iniesta’s miracle goal in Stamford Bridge in the second leg of the semi-final tie against Chelsea.
Barça were not able to call on Abidal, Márquez and Alves in the final, but Guardiola’s team deactivated Cristiano Ronaldo, the Red Devils’ biggest weapon. Samuel Eto’o, on 10 minutes, scored the opening goal. 60 minutes later it was Leo Messi who made it 2-0.
That night Barça lifted their third Champions League title after winning the trophy in 1992 at Wembley and in 2006 in Paris. It was Guardiola’s first Champions League in his managerial career and he would go on to win the title in 2011 in another final against Manchester United.
In addition, the title was the final trophy of the historic treble-winning 2008/09 season. It remains the first and only treble won (league, Cup and Champions League) in Spanish football history.
The injury time goal booked Barça a place in the 2009 Champions League Final in Rome
On May 6, 2009 Barça enjoyed one of their most magical European nights in the Club’s history. After a goalless draw at the Camp Nou in the first leg, Barça travelled to London to face Chelsea in the second leg, with a place in the Rome final at stake. It was a tough game and after Essien put the hosts one up after nine minutes, Barça found it hard to get their game into full swing, a situation made even tougher by the sending off of Abidal on 66 minutes.
A Magic Moment
Time seemed to have run out as on 92 minutes Xavi spread the ball wide on the right for Dani Alves whose cross to the far post fell to Eto’o, who was unable to control the ball. Essien cleared, but only as far as Messi who burst to the edge of the box before squaring the ball to Iniesta. The Spanish midfielder fired home a brilliant effort to the left of Cech and Barça were in the final!
That goal set up the 2-0 win against Manchester United in the Rome Final to give the team a treble of League, Cup and Champions League, titles that they went on to add to with the Spanish and European Super Cups and the World Club Cup to round off a remarkable 2009 with six trophies and that Iniesta goal on May 6 at Stamford Bridge was a key moment in that historic year.
A different take on the Calderón game
The last six times Barça have crashed out of the Champions League they have reacted with five wins and one draw
Going out of Europe’s premier club competition has come as a tough blow to Barça, but there is no time to dwell on that, because on Saturday at 8.00 PM CET there’s a crucial league match to be played in Granada.
And if recent history is anything to go by, then FCB have never let disappointment in Europe dent their morale in the domestic championship. Following their last six European exits, the Catalans have responded with five wins and one draw.
Last year, FC Barcelona defeated Betis 4-2 after being soundly beaten by eventual champions Bayern Munich in the Champions League. A year before they responded in even more spectacular fashion to the pain of defeat to Chelsea, thumping Rayo Vallecano, 7-0 away
The year before that, Barça won their fourth European crown at Wembley, while the season before that, they had followed their nerve-racking European exit at the hands of Inter with a 4-1 win at Villarreal. In 2008, it was Valencia who were trounced 6-0 after Barça had been knocked out of Europe by Manchester United. And in 2005, Athletic Bilbao lost 2-0 at the Camp Nou after Barça’s second round elimination at the hands of another English club, Liverpool.
The only recent case of Barça not bouncing back with a league win was the 2006/07 season, when the opposition was none other than Real Madrid. The teams drew 3-3 in a dramatic match that saw a young Leo Messi show just what a legend was in the making by scoring a hat-trick against the eternal enemy.
"It's not that we didn't match their intensity, it's that we were unable to string 4-5 passes together like we wanted to," said the manager
"The team isn't doing well now (morale). We will move forward in the Liga and the Cup," concluded Martino
Gerardo Martino commented in his post-match press conference that his men “were brave. We were brave in that we tried to play like Barça have for the past decade. Playing like this is brave.” When asked about the game against Atlético, Martino said that “the flow of the game was what they (Atlético) were looking for” and “it’s not that we didn’t match their intensity, it’s that we were unable to string 4-5 passes together like we wanted to.”
Domination from the start by Atlético
“We had our chances after Atlético had taken the lead, they had chances too, but if we could have scored it would have been a different game,” said Martino, who added that “all of the games against Atlético have been similar. They score the first goal because they were more intense than us.”
When asked about Leo Messi’s performance, the manager said, “we wanted Messi to engage in one-on-ones with his defender on the right wing. He didn’t have a lot of participation, but he did have two goal-scoring chances. We didn’t base our whole game plan on Messi’s position, we also had Cesc, Neymar and Iniesta.”
Finally, when asked about the morale of his men, Martino said that “the team isn’t doing well now. We will move forward in the Liga and the Cup. The most important thing is to continue competing, we have a decisive game in Granada and next Wednesday we have the Cup final.”
"It's a very hard day for us, but Atlético deserved to win the tie," says Alves
Andrés Iniesta says, "I thank the fans who came out to cheer for us" and "we'll fight for what's left of the season"
Dani Alves said this Wednesday that “it was a very tough day for us” and he added that “we played against a team that has been playing like this for a while and we have to congratulate them. They bet on this style of play and it worked out. They leave the pitch dry, they slow the pace of the game down and they look to get in behind you and hit you on the counter attack.”
The left back explained that the team tried “everything possible to fight back” and that “perhaps we could have scored a goal,” but “Atlético deserved to win the tie.”
The following are statements made by some of the Barça players after the match:
“They were the better team in the opening minutes and after that we took control of the match, but we didn’t know how to get into their area. It’s very difficult to beat a rival (that plays this way), now we have to win the Liga and the Copa del Rey.”
“It’s hard to beat Atlético because of how they play. After 20 minutes, the intensity was the same for both teams. We have to forget about this game and start over. We don’t like to lose these games, especially in a competition like this one.”
“We have to watch the game again, but we had four or five chances that we normally finish. I think the team was brave and deserved to tie and play extra time.”
“We’ve played good games and we could have scored goals in both legs, the tie got away from us because we didn’t take advantage of our chances. I congratulate Atlético Madrid.”
“Atlético deserved to go through because they took advantage of their chances. Like in the first 20 minutes, they pressured us and they took advantage. We tried to score until the end of the game.”
“The Champions League is a very good competition and it’s a shame that we didn’t make the semi-finals. There aren’t many league games left to win the title and we have a final in Granada this weekend and on Wednesday in the Cup.”
“We have to thank the people who came out to cheer us on, we have to fight for what’s left.”
“I think we fought well and in the second half we didn’t give up at any point. The team worked hard and now we have to think about the league and the final of the Cup.”
“We’re sad because we put a lot of effort in. If we win the Cup, the season will have been a good one.”
Four of Barça's last nine results at the Calderon would give them a semifinal place if repeated tonight and one would take the game into extra time
Barça are the competition’s leading passers with 7,401 passes, 6,301 of which have been successful
Barça will have to win or draw 2-2 or more at the Vicente Calderon tonight if they are to make it into their seventh consecutive Champions League semi-final. On three of the previous occasions they’ve drawn 1-1 in the first leg, they’ve won the tie. Below are some more nuggets of information ahead of the game.
- The last time Barça won a tie after drawing 1-1 in the first leg was against Fiorentino in the 1996/7 European Cup Winners Cup, when Couto and Guardiola scored to give them a 0-2 win.
- Barça’s biggest ever win at the Vicente Calderon came in 2007, when they won 0-6 with goals from Zambrotta, Eto’o, Ronaldinho, Iniesta and Messi (2).
- Since that big win, Barça have travelled nine times to play Atletico - four of those results would see Barça through to the semis if repeated, four would send them out and one would mean extra time.
- Howard Webb will ref tonight’s game. Barça have won all three of their Champions League games the English ref has been in charge of, whilst Atletic have won one and drawn one game in which he’s been in charge.
- Simeone can count on Raúl Garcia, who was suspended for the first leg, whilst Insúa, Juanfran and Gabi are one card away from suspension, as are Iniesta and Cesc.
- At the Camp Nou, Tata Martino’s side made 688 successful passes against Atletico’s 236
- Barça are the competition’s leading passers with 7,401 passes, 6,301 of which have been successful.
- Marc Bartra made his first team debut at the Vicente Calderon: on February 14 2010. He also played in last season’s league game in Madrid.
- Neymar will also have happy memories of the Vicente Calderon, it was there that he scored his first goal for the team, in the first leg of this season’s Spanish Super Cup.
- Leo Messi also enjoys the trip to Atletico – he’s scored nine goals on the ground(eight against Atletico Madrid and one against Bilbao in the 2012 Cup Final)
"We have to be Barça, valiant, score goals and be solid all over the pitch," said the midfielder
In the pre-match press conference ahead of the Champions League quarter-final, Cesc Fàbregas was optimistic about his team’s chances of progressing after the 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou. “We have the weapons, talent and technique to beat them,” he declared. He added: “We’ve been working hard and we’re ready to compete. The team is very motivated and ready, I’m sure we’re going to have a good game.”
According to the midfielder, “Atlético are one of the strongest teams when they are trying to preserve a 0-0. They close their lines, and they know what they’re doing.” He admitted that the four previous games between the two teams have been “tough and even” and that he doesn’t expect tomorrow’s game to be any different. “They have a small advantage thanks to the 1-1 from the first leg. We have to start the game with our heads held high and compete well. We want to bring joy to our fans,” he said.
“We have to be a great Barça”
Cesc was clear: “We have to be Barça, valiant, score goals and be solid all over the pitch. We have to be a great Barça in order to get to the semis.” He added: “We’re fighting on three fronts and we will fight until the end. Tomorrow is a crucial game.”
When asked about his personal performances, the midfielder said: “I really want to step up. I have had small problems this month but now I’m as strong as ever.”
The sporting director of FC Barcelona stressed that, despite the precedents of being so equally matched against Atletico Madrid, each game throws up its own circumstances
Andoni Zubizarreta spoke to the media before taking the flight to Madrid. “Do we have a good chance? Without doubt! We'll leave the bookmakers to decide who are the favourites. We are going there knowing what we have to do. Our idea is to be at our best and on Wednesday night get back on the plane knowing that we are in the semi-final draw. It's obvious that Atletico Madrid have the same idea" the Barça Sporting Director said.
Although the precedents this season against Atletico have seen the teams so equally matched, Zubizarreta left the door open that we might see a different match: “Up to now there has been very little difference but each match throws up it's own circumstances and can be very unpredictable. A Champions League match is not the same as a Supercup game. We'll see what happens in this game”.
Total support from the Board
Asked about his personal situation, Barça's sporting director focussed on the support received by the Board: "If we had all been in the meeting we’d know why the nuances between the members might be slightly different. For me, the most important thing is what Manel Arroyo said on Monday, and to have the full support of the Board, which is how I have always felt. Similarly, I also regret that my name was in the news on Monday, instead of focussing attention on the Referendum for the New Espai Barça, which really is a core element for the future of the Club".
Finally, with regard to Pinto’s future, Zubizarreta said the following: "The conversations with Pinto have been very clear and there was transparency on both sides, and we all know what situation we find ourselves in. We have to carry on working, being aware that the football scenario can change almost every week".
The Argentinian manager, who won't be able to call on Arda Turan, explains that Adrian will play if Diego Costa "isn't fit for the game"
"We can't forget that Barça scored four goals at the Bernabéu," says Simeone
In today’s pre-match press conference, Diego Pablo Simeone said that Atlético Madrid will go up against “a very important team” and that one of his best players, Diego Costa, is available to play. “If he’s fit, he’ll play; he’s just doing ok, he’ll be on the bench; if he’s not well, he won’t be on the bench at all. There are three possibilities,” explained the manager.
When asked about the game, Simeone commented that “beyond the fax that we have a small advantage given the 1-1, Barça will not change its style of play. They always try to score and dominate the game. We can’t forget that they scored four goals at the Bernabéu. They are used to the pressure.”
The Atlético Madrid manager then went on to talk about the different styles both teams use: “Each team has its own weapons. They will try to win through their quality, through possession, we’ll look for spaces, and try to counterattack. It’s now of the best games you can see in the Champions League.”
The first team took off from El Prat Airport at 11a.m. and arrived one hour later in Madrid, for the return leg of the Champions League quarter final
The Barça first team flew this morning to Madrid, where on Wednesday they'll take on Atletico in the return leg of their Champions League quarter final. The plane took off at 11 a.m. from El Prat airport and landed in Madrid one hour later.
Heading up the Barça expedition is the President Josep Maria Bartomeu, accompanied by Vice Presidents Javier Faus, Carles Vilarrubí, Jordi Mestre and Manel Arroyo, Directors Susana Monje, Toni Freixa, Jordi Moix, Jordi Monés, Pilar Guinovart, Javier Bordas, Silvio Elías and Dídac Lee, and Sporting Director Andoni Zubizarreta.
It's worth remembering that Gerardo Martino has called up 21 players. Once in Madrid, Barça went straight to their hotel. They'll train this afternoon at the Vicente Calderón at 6.30 p.m.
Around 2,600 Barça fans will be in Madrid to support the team tomorrow.
Get all the info on the Champions League match between top two teams in the Spanish league. Don't miss out on all the news, interviews, press conferences, photos, and videos
Overview of international TV listings and kick off times for Wednesday's Champions League match at the Vicente Calderón between Colchoneros and Culés
Wednesday night's game at the Vicente Calderón is one of the biggest games of the season, and here's a guide to TV channels showing the game around the world. If the game isn't being shown in your country or region, remember that you can listen to live commentary in English on Radio Barça, and there will be constant updates here at www.fcbarcelona.com, on Twitter (@fcbarcelona) and on all of the club's usual social networks.
USA – 2:45 PM (EST)
Brazil – 3:45 PM (Brasilia)
South America – Buenos Aires 3:45 PM / Santiago, Chile 3:45 PM / México D.F. 12:45 PM
China – 2:45 AM (Thursday morning) (CST)
United Kingdom - 7:45 PM
Sky Sports 2/HD
France – 8:45 PM (CET)
India – 0:15 AM (Thursday morning) (IST)
Indonesia – 01:45 AM (Thursday morning) (WIB)
Japan – 03:45 AM (Thursday morning) (JST)
Russia – 11:45 PM (MSK)
NTV+ Sport Online, NTV+ Football 2
Spain – 08:45 PM (CET)
Arab countries – 11:45 PM (Mecca Time / GMT+3)
The midfielder hopes that Barça score first against Atletico to see “how they react” to something that hasn't happened in the previous four matches
He was emphatic about the FIFA sanction on FC Barcelona: “It's disproportionate and totally unfair"
Two days before the decisive game at Atletico Madrid in the second leg of the quarterfinals of the Champions League, one of the stars of the Barca squad, Xavi Hernandez, appeared before the media to explain how Barça are facing the challenge. "We hope to go ahead on the scoreboard to see how they react. This hasn’t happened in the previous four games", he said.
The midfielder knows what they’re up against "Atletico cut down the space, it’s not easy to create chances, and we have to be fluent in the game and move the ball quickly. It’s a really tough match". He went on: "We’d have liked to have gone there with a better result, but it all depends on us. We have to win and that benefits us because we’re a team built to attack, but we are facing an opponent who is just the opposite".
"We’re going there with tons of illusion and we’ll try to be ourselves. We’ll have to play really well” he acknowledged.
The game on Wednesday is the first in a demanding schedule. "It's a coin flip and one of us is going to be really disappointed. It’s an important week as the match in Granada will also be tough, and then we have the Cup Final" Xavi said. Thus, Xavi labelled the Atletico match as “more important” than the recent visit to the Bernabeu in La Liga, when there was more margin of error.
On the other hand, Xavi was emphatic about the FIFA sanction on the Club. "In the dressing room, and the Club, we believe that the sanction is disproportionate and unfair. The Masia does everything perfectly correctly and we’ll try to defend it to the maximum. We hope that it all comes to nothing", he said. Despite the initial shock, he said that the group always comes out stronger from set-backs: "We’ve suffered so many blows this season but we still feel strong and competitive. These things unite the team".
Carles Puyol did specific recovery work, whilst Cuenca trained with the rest of the group
Gerardo Martino has called up 21 players for Wednesday’s Champions League quarter final second leg game against Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon.
The team trained in Barcelona this Monday morning ahead of training in Madrid on Tuesday. Carles Puyol, who is in the squad even though he has yet to be declared fit, worked apart from the rest of the squad, whilst Isaac Cuenca worked with the rest of the group.
Today’s session also featured Barça B players Masip, Lucas, Planas, Babunski, Nieto and Espinosa and four Youth A team youngsters, Maxi Rolón, Corredera, Enquene and Fran Álvarez.
Season 2014 - 2015iCal
League - Round 4 Sun 09/21/2014 21:00
League - Round 5 Wed 09/24/2014 22:00
Champions League - Round 2 - F Tue 09/30/2014 20:45
League - Round 7 Sat 10/ 4/2014 18:00