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Wigan come away with a shock result in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup
Manchester City were eliminated from the FA Cup this Sunday afternoon. They lost 2-1 at the Etihad to Wigan, who are quickly becoming City’s nemesis in the competition. In last season’s final City were defeated by Wigan in Wembley by 0-1. History repeated itself this season in the quarter-finals.
Trailing after 30 minutes
City fell behind to Wigan after 27 minutes of play, when the former Barça player Jordi Gómez converted a penalty conceded by Demichelis (who is not eligible to play on Wednesday at the Camp Nou due to suspension). Manuel Pellegrini sent out a starting XI that had five notable abscesses from his usual starting team. The players who were rested are Hart, Kompany, Silva and Fernandinho. However, Touré, Nasri and Agüero did start.
City’s chances of progressing to the next round suffered a blow when Perch scored the 0-2 on 47 minutes. From that moment on City surged forward. Nasri pulled a goal back with a fantastic shot from long range, but the fightback wasn’t on the cards despite excellent scoring opportunities for Dzeko and Agüero.
Wigan held on to their one-goal lead and will face Arsenal in the next round of the competition.
In an interview published in today's Daily Mail, Xavi has spoken about his admiration for English football, but doubts he'd ever play for a Premiership club
His future will always be tied to FC Barcelona, and he even admits to loving the idea of one day managing the team
Today’s edition of the Daily Mail features an exclusive interview with Xavi Hernandez, in which the questions are asked by former Liverpool player Jamie Carragher. Among other things, the Barça midfielder was quizzed about the current situation at Barça, Spain’s World Cup hopes and his plans for the future.
The interview begins with Xavi being asked about his impressions of current Champions League rivals Manchester City, and agreed with Carragher that Pelligrini’s approach to the first leg was somewhat unexpected. “They have players for a style more like Barcelona so it was a bit of a surprise” said Xavi. “They weren’t defensive but they were sitting back. Pellegrini’s teams normally want the ball and to take the game to the opposition.”
In fact, Xavi sees several parallels between the famous Barça style and that employed by Man City. “They have players like Yaya Toure, Nasri and now Navas and Negredo who are top-quality footballers who play the game the right way” he commented. “But it’s another thing when they come up against Barça as we have seven or eight players of our own who hardly ever give the ball away.”
Are Barca past it? No. We're still great!
Although Carragher puts the Barça team of the last few years up there with “Johan Cruyff’s Ajax, the AC Milan team of Arrigo Sacchi back to Di Stefano’s Real Madrid,” he is also concerned that that era is drawing to a close, pointing to the 7-0 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich last season as the prime indication. On that match, Xavi says “there is no question we were not at our best. We arrived at that point of the season tired. The big difference was that Bayern had a massive physical advantage on us and the result was huge,” but he refuses to accept that the loss marked the beginning of the end for the current team. “Barcelona can carry on winning trophies” he insists. “This is a spectacular crop of players. Look at the ages of the players: Fabregas, Messi, Iniesta, Alves, now Neymar, Jordi Alba and Pique - they are all around 26, 27, 28 29 years old. That’s a great generation of footballers.”
Jose Mourinho would seem to disagree, but Xavi laughed off the mention of the Chelsea manager’s recent comment that this is “the worst Barcelona side in many, many years.” Says Xavi, “Mourinho has a different style. It’s not the same style as Barcelona. He plays in a more defensive style and I respect that. But it’s to be expected that he doesn’t like our football. He has never liked Barcelona’s style. Not just now but even five years ago.”
Xavi on English football
Carragher wondered whether Xavi has ever been tempted to play in England, and the Barça player did admit to being a huge fan of the English game. “Manchester, Liverpool, the supporters, you can’t hear yourself in the stadiums. It’s fantastic. When I go to England, I get the feeling that you are part of football history” he explains. “It’s quite sensational. They are a real example, how they behave, the desire to win, the fans, it’s a big event, everything is like you’re in a film. In England there is a lot of respect for professional footballers, in the Latin Hispanic world, less so. People respect players a lot more over there than they do here and that’s why I think so highly of it.”
But despite this admiration for English football, Xavi thinks it’s highly unlikely that he’ll ever move to the Premiership, or anywhere other than his current club. “I’m Barcelona through and through and have always wanted to stay here” he insists.
The interview ends with perhaps the most interesting comment of all. When asked whether he can see himself managing FC Barcelona one day, Xavi quite openly accepted that it’s very much a possibility. “I’d love to” he said. “I’d like to remain in football forever. It would always have to be with Barcelona. That’s where my heart and feelings are.”
The tickets are only for sale to Barça supporters and are for seats released by the Seient Lliure system
On Monday at 10.00 AM CET, tickets will go on sale for the Champions League game between FC Barcelona and Manchester City (Wednesday 12, 8.45 PM CET). These are the seats released by the Seient Lliure system and are only for sale to Barça supporters.
When sales open on Monday, tickets availability will vary as seats as freed by season-ticket holders that do not plan to go to the game. Up to two tickets may be purchased per person via the official FC Barcelona website, Ticketmaster and tourism and retail outlets.
FC Barcelona is the top scoring team in the major European Leagues
Barça are the second team with most different goalscorers in all competitions
FC Barcelona leads the standings of teams scoring most goals in the major European Leagues, with a total of 74. Here we show, via 5 stats, these and other details from the Continents top scoring team.
1) LEADERS IN EUROPE. With 74 goals FC Barcelona lead the ranking. Real Madrid and Liverpool come next with 73, whilst Bayern Munich (66), París Saint-Germain (64) and Juventus (62) top the rankings in other major European Leagues.
2) 2.8 GOALS PER GAME. Gerardo Martino's players have reached this total in 26 League matches, an average of 2.8 goals per game. It's the same average, more or less, as Bayern Munich (66 goals in 23 games) and Real Madrid (73 goals in 26 games). Liverpool have an average of 2.6 and PSG and Juventus 2.3.
3) THREE PLAYERS WITH MORE THAN 10 GOALS. Alexis Sánchez (16 goals), Leo Messi (15) and Pedro Rodríguez (13) are the three players with over 10 goals in La Liga. The list goes up to five players, including Cesc and Neymar Jr, if we include all competitions.
4) 15 DIFFERENT GOALSCORERS. a total of 15 different players have scored for Barça this season in official competitions. They are Messi (27), Alexis (18), Pedro (17), Cesc (13), Neymar (12), Tello, Xavi, Adriano, and Piqué (all with 4), Busquets and Alves (with 3), Puyol (2), Bartra, Iniesta and Dongou (all with 1). In Europe only Arsenal and Ajax, with 16 different scorers, have more than Barça. AC Milan and Bayern also have 15 different scorers.
5) 45 GOALS IN 2014. FC Barcelona is the team which have scored most goals in Europe at the beginning of this year. They have scored 45 goals in 16 games, which is greater than the 42 goals scored by Real Madrid, Bayern Munich's 41, the 38 scored by City and the 34 by Liverpool. In the case of the last 3 teams it has to be said that they have played less games than Barça and Madrid.
FC Barcelona's Champions League rival claimed the title thanks to two fantastic goals from Touré and Nasri, and another from Navas
Manchester City defeated Sunderland 3-1 this Sunday afternoon and thus claimed the Capital One Cup. FC Barcelona’s Champions League knock-out round rival fought back from a one-goal deficit thanks to two fantastic goals from Yaya Touré and Nasri. In injury time, Navas netted the final goal of the match.
It wasn’t the best of starts for the Citizens seeing that Sunderland grabbed the go-ahead goal inside the first 10 minutes of play. Borini beat Kompany and fired past Pantilimon for the opener. The team managed Pellegrini looked for the equaliser, but they were denied until after the break.
Two fantastic plays give City the lead
Both Yaya Touré and Nasri scored brilliant goals in two minutes to give their team the lead (min 55 and min 56). After the goals, Agüero was given playing time after an injury kept him from featuring against Barça in the first leg of the Champions League knock-out round at the Etihad.
The final stretch of the match was relatively comfortable for Pellegrini’s men. The final goal was scored in added time as Jesús Navas scored on the break, and thus secured the first title of the season for Manchester City. FC Barcelona will host the British team in 10 days at the Camp Nou.
The FC Barcelona forward sits down with The Guardian to talk about his career at the Club and the Champions League tie against Manchester City
Days before the first leg of the Champions League knock-out tie between Manchester City and FC Barcelona at the Etihad, Pedro Rodríguez was interviewed by Sid Lowe for The Guardian. The Canary Islander opened up about his esteem for his former manager Pep Guardiola, the difficult Champions League tie against Manchester City and the daunting challenge of getting consistent playing time for one of the most star-studded teams in the world.
The Spanish forward, who featured prominently for Barça’s reserve team in the 2007/08 season, was promoted to the senior side after Pep Guardiola’s promotion winning year with Barça B in 2008. Pedro recalled that “Pep was exactly the same. The fact that it was the first team made no difference: it was the same analysis, the same philosophy, the same work. We had a long conversation after the Copa del Rey final [Guardiola’s last game on the Barça bench, Lowe points out] and I said ‘thank you.’”
He adds: “When a coach trusts you enough to take you from the youth team and put you into the first team, one of the best teams in the world, it’s not easy. He had faith in me and supported me. Without that, a player can lose heart and look for a solution away from the club.”
But despite the fact that Pedro has had to battle for playing time with some of the most prolific forwards in recent history (Eto’o, Ibrahimovic, Henry, Messi, etc.) things have gone extraordinarily well for the forward. In addition to winning an impressive amount of titles, including the World Cup and two Champions League crowns, he’s managed to win over the managers that succeeded Guardiola on the Barça bench. Under Tata Martino, the player has started 27 matches – a total of 2,379 minutes – and he’s scored a total of 17 goals – only Messi and Alexis have scored more than the Canary Islander in all competitions this season.
“When I started we had Samu [Eto’o] and Titi [Henry] and Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] too. Now we have Alexis, Messi, Neymar. Another new signing, another big name, will probably arrive in the summer but I’ll keep on going,” he said. “You know it’s always difficult to get minutes. I know the best games for me ar the ones where there’s space to run, to get away from defenders. That suits me and the team. Unfortunately, there’re few games like that. But the mister [Tata Martino] is giving everyone a chance, rotating a lot, and I’m happy with the opportunities I’ve had and the way I’ve taken them.”
The forward went on to say that it doesn’t bother him when his team-mates are selected ahead of him on game day. “Of course, I want to play every game but you have to accept rotations and understand that other players are in good form. Even when you think you should be playing more, you have to stay positive for when the opportunities arise,” he said. “If not, then at the end of the season you analyse the situation and look for the best solution.”
Mr Lowe then asked the FC Barcelona forward about the then upcoming first leg of the Champions League tie against Manchester City. “I watch City when I can. I enjoy watching them play and when there’s a team you know you’re going to face, it’s good to see what form they’re in and analyse them.” He added: “You try to avoid the strongest teams but we knew we could get them ... There are some opponents you prefer, that’s the truth. Maybe this way we will be even more focused than ever, because we know how difficult it is.”
Read The Guardian article in its entirety here.
Previous to this Tuesday's win away to Manchester City, the only time FC Barcelona had won the first leg in the round of 16 in the last six years was against Leverkusen in 2012
For just the second time in six years FC Barcelona return from the first leg of a round of 16 Champions League tie with a victory. The first time was two years ago against Leverkusen, when goals from Alexis (2) and Messi earned the Blaugrana the win in Germany (1-3).
Recent history shows that this particular round in the competition hasn’t been necessarily easy for Barça seeing that last year the first team fell 2-0 at the San Siro against Milan, three years ago they lost 2-1 to Arsenal and in the 2009/10 and 2008/09 seasons they drew 1-1 with Stuttgart and Lyon, respectively. Despite the defeats and draws, Barça have always progressed to the quarter-finals.
No defeats in the second leg
FC Barcelona have won the first leg of a European tie by 0-2 on eight occasions, and they’ve always made it to the next round. Furthermore, Barça have never lost a second leg of a tie at the Camp Nou that started with a 0-2 result from the first leg. An overview of the second leg results after a 0-2 victory in the first leg:
European Cup 1959/60
FC Barcelona 5-1 AC Milan
Fairs Cup 1961/62
FC Barcelona 4-1 Estrella Roja
Cup Winners Cup 1963/64
FC Barcelona 3-1 Shelbourne
UEFA Cup 1980/81
FC Barcelona 1-0 S. Wanderers
UEFA Cup 1986/87
FC Barcelona 2-0 Bayer Uerdingen
Cup Winners Cup 1988/89
FC Barcelona 5-0 Ram Reikjavik
UEFA Cup 2000/01
FC Barcelona 1-1 Club Bruges
Champions League 2010/11
FC Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid
Barça have never failed to qualify in a European tie after a similar result in the first leg
Xavi equalled Raúl González as the second player with more Champions League matches
Barça's win at Manchester City in the first leg of the last 16 of the Champions League leaves us with some interesting statistics, shown below:
- FC Barcelona have won 0-2 nine times in the first leg of a European tie, and every time qualified for the next round.
- The last time was the Champions League semi-final in 2010/11, when two Messi goals sealed the win at the Santiago Bernabéu. In the return leg at the Camp Nou the teams drew 1-1.
- In Manchester, Dani Alves scored his third goal this season. His two earlier goals came in the League, against Levante (7-0) and Sevilla (3-2). In the Champions, the last time he scored was against Spartak Moscow in the group stage last season (0-3).
- Leo Messi has scored three times in the first leg of the knock-out stages in the Champions League. He scored in Glasgow in 2008, in Leverkusen in 2012 and this Tuesday in Manchester.
- Xavi Hernández was the player who made most passes (137), followed by Cesc (108), Alves (107) and Busquets (102). Former Barça player Yaya Touré was the City player with most passes (62).
- Xavi equalled Raúl González in the second position of players with most games in the Champions League, having played 144. Top of the list is Ryan Giggs (149).
- The game at the Etihad was Andres Iniesta's 100th in UEFA competitions. He's played 95 in the Champions, 3 in the UEFA Cup, and 2 in the European Super Cup.
- Gerard Piqué and Leo Messi are the players with most consecutive games in the starting eleven. The have both started in the last six matches.
- Pedro Rodríguez has not played a single minute since the Getafe v Barça match in the return leg of the last 16 of the Spanish Cup.
3,000 Culés at the Etihad
The Argentinian forward has scored in six goals in four matches, it's his longest goalscoring streak of the season so far
Messi also scored for the first time in a two-leg tie in England
Leo Messi is enjoying his best goalscoring streak of the season. With this evening’s goal at the Etihad, the Argentinian took his scoring streak to four consecutive matches. The player’s crusade on Barça’s opponents started with two goals away to Sevilla (Liga), then another at the Anoeta (Cup) followed by two more goals against Rayo Vallecano (Liga). In Manchester he added to the streak by scoring the opener against City in the Champions League.
Up until now, Leo Messi had scored in three consecutive games this season. It happened in September against Valencia, Sevilla and Ajax, before he picked up his thigh injury.
11 goals in 2014
Barça’s No.10 has netted a total of six goals in Barça’s last four matches, and since the start of the calendar year, he’s scored 11 times. In total, the player has netted 25 goals this season in all competitions.
The goal against Manchester City also sees Messi do away with a pending assignment: score in a two-leg tie in England. Up until now, his only goal on English soil was in the Wembley final in 2011, against Manchester United.
The Brazilian right back says that "a lot can happen in 90 minutes, but we have an important advantage"
The 0-2 against Manchester City is a good result “seeing that we scored two goals away from home and we didn’t concede,” said Dani Alves, who added that “we still have a second leg and we have to kill the tie off at home.” The Brazilian right back continued: “A lot can happen in 90 minutes, but we have an important advantage.”
The man who scored the second goal of the night highlighted “the fantastic work of the whole team” above any individual performances, and he admitted that he’s “pleased” with how his team played. “We knew that it was going to be a tough match, very hard, because the rival we were going up against are very intense.” According to Alves, Barça’s response “was to have possession and be a difficult side to deal with for them.”
More chances to score
The right back added that “we managed to create a lot of goalscoring chances and the result could have been better. We try to do our jobs better every day.”
Here are the statements made by some of the players after the match:
“The result is fantastic for us.”
“After the penalty and the expulsion, they tried to pressure us. The goal was to retain possession and in the end we won.”
“The second leg is at home, but we can’t be overconfident.”
“I think it’s more difficult to beat us if we play this way, this is the path to follow.”
“We played an important role. We knew how we wanted to play, and that’s what we did.”
“We can all complain about something, but one team was superior to the other.”
“We have a good feeling about this, especially because of how we played and how we pressurd them.”
“Barça are always a rival that you have to think about. There’s a lot of talk about how we lack the pressure we had in years past.”
“We know that in a Champions League match you always have to suffer through at least 20 minutes of play.”
“The team stepped up, we played a great game. The result is really good for us and we know that the second leg will be difficult. City are a team that always create goalscoring chances.”
“We have to continue to play like this. You can never relax when you’re a Barça player. The decisive moments of the season are here and we are going to continue to fight for it all.”
Videos, pictures, news, infographics, interviews, and more... get all the information leading up to tonight's Champions League showdown between the Citizens and the Blaugrana
• The Etihad Stadium, ready for Manchester City v FC Barcelona
• "The team that doesn't have possession will suffer"
Barça's 23 footballers train at Etihad Stadium
FC Barcelona trained at Etihad Stadium this Monday evening ahead of tomorrow’s Champions League tie against Manchester City. All 23 players named to the team participated in the session. It’s worth noting that Isaac Cuenca and Jonathan dos Santos, injured, stayed in Barcelona.
Therefore, Gerardo Martino will have to cut five players from the team ahead of kick off, which is scheduled for 8:45 PM CET.
At 8 PM (local time) the traditional dinner between directors of both clubs took place. FC Barcelona was represented by President Josep Maria Bartomeu, vice-presidents Carles Vilarrubí and Jordi Mestre, director Jodri Moix, Delegate to UEFA Amador Bernabéu, and sports director Andoni Zubizarreta.
The manager believes that both teams come into tomorrow's Champions League game on form
Manuel Pellegrini explained this Monday that City’s challenge in tomorrow’s game is “to preserve our style and personality.” His FC Barcelona counterpart, Gerardo Martino, agrees: “City’s profile is similar to ours, perhaps they are more direct, but their players tend to want the ball. In a match with two teams that base their play off of possession, the team that doesn’t have the ball will suffer more.”
In this sense, Martino believes it’s vital to keep possession. “Maintaining possession benefits us and it reduces City’s chances,” he said as he admitted that his team’s objectives are to control the game and score at the Etihad.
Martino was also asked about Manchester City’s attacking power. “They are a dangerous team. The fact that they’re the highest scoring team in the Premier League shows that they are difficult to control, and when we have to defend, we’ll defend. The best way to counteract them is to take the ball away from them,” said Martino.
The FC Barcelona manager believes that both teams come into the match “on form,” and he noted that “City are one of the best teams in the world.”
When asked about Agüero’s absence, he was clear: “As a fan I lament his absence, but as a manager he’s one less problem I have to worry about.”
On Neymar Jr possible inclusion in the starting line-up, Martino said, “what we value most is his health. We have to decide if he’ll start the match or like the other day, on the bench.”
"Historically this round has been difficult for us," says the center back ahead of tomorrow's match against Manchester City
If there’s a player on FC Barcelona’s team who has fond memories of Manchester it’s Gerard Piqué. At the age of 17 the center back signed with Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United. “I was just a kid that came here to earn a living. I lived here for three magnificent years. After Barça my team is Manchester United because they treated me so well,” said Piqué this Monday afternoon. But his time with the Red Devils has passed and now he has to focus on Manchester’s other team, Manchester City. The two clubs will face off on Tuesday in the Champions League. “Historically the knock out round has been difficult for us. Last year we lost 2-0 to Milan,” said the center back during the pre-match press conference.
Barça come into the match after defeating Rayo by 6 to 0 and reaching the final of the Copa del Rey, while City defeated Chelsea in the FA Cup. “Both teams are doing well and we both have confidence coming into the match.” He added: “FC Barcelona are doing good work and Martino has a lot of influence in that regard. In our last two games we played at a high level, we had the ball and we worked well together. We’re on form.”
When asked about Manchester City, Barça’s No.3 said “Manchester City are a very good team, very solvent, with a lot of variety and quality.” When asked about Álvaro Negredo, the player Piqué will most likely be called on to cover, the defender said: “He’s always had good years but this season, playing in a big club like City, he’s doing exceptionally well.”
He added: “Tomorrow’s match is a great opportunity to show that we have great players and that we can be here. If you want to win the Champions League, you have to play against the best.” He continued: “We have three months left, 22 matches, that’s not a lot. If we give it our all, we can win it all.”
Former colleagues Touré Yaya and Sergio Busquets answer the same questions ahead of Manchester City v FC Barcelona
The Ivorian is hoping Barça don't score in Manchester, while the Catalan is dreaming of a win
Touré Yaya and Sergio Busquets shared the same dressing room and position from 2008 to 2010, a period when they won everything going at Barça. But for the last three and a half years, the Ivory Coast international has been at Manchester City, and on Tuesday two of the world’s finest midfielders meet again at the Etihad Stadium.
Tuesday night's game at the Etihad 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 the international web sites
All around the world, people are going to glued to their TV sets on Tuesday as Manchester City host FC Barcelona in one of the most eagerly anticipated games of the season. In the UK, the game gets under way at 7.45 PM GMT, but viewers in the Americas will be watching it in the middle of the afternoon, while fans in Asia and Oceania will either be staying up very late on Tuesday, or getting up very early on Wednesday. But it’s worth making sacrifices for a game as good as this one.
Radio Barça, FCBarcelona.com and @FCBarcelona
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 and on all of the club's usual social networks.
To help you find the game, here's a list of kick off times in different countries and the channels that are showing the match.
Brazil - 5:45 PM (Brasilia)
ESPN + Sur, ESPN + Andina, ESPN HD Latin, ESPN Play Latin America
China - 3:45 AM (Wednesday morning) (CST)
QQ Sports Live, Sina Sports, CCTV-5
France - 8:45 PM (CET)
beIN Sports 1
India - 1:15 AM (Wednesday morning) (IST)
TEN Sports LIVE, Ten Action
Indonesia - 2:45 AM (Wednesday morning) (WIB)
Liputan Champions, Orange TV Indonesia, SCTV
Japan - 4:45 AM (Wednesday morning) (JST)
Fox Sports Japan
Russia 11:45 PM (MSK)
Spain - 8:45 PM (CET)
UAE - 11:45 PM (GST)
beIN Sports Arabia 1 HD, beIN Sports Arabia 3 HD, beIN Sports Arabia 11 HD
USA - 2:45 (EST)
TV3, Fox Soccer 2Go, SiriusXM FC, Fox Deportes, Fox Sports 1 USA
The FC Barcelona sports director highlights the quality of Manchester City
Andoni Zubizarreta, who travelled with the 23 man squad, spoke to the media shortly beforte boarding the flight to Manchester. “The first knockout match is never an easy game, and given the quality of the opponent this year, this promises to be a top quality match”, said Andoni Zubizarreta shortly before boarding the flight to Manchester. The FC Barcelona director of sport added that “teams of this level are outstanding not just because of what they can do as a unit, but also because of the capacity of individual players to resolve situations”.
As far as he sees things, “we have to sense that we are Barça and that we have our own way of understanding and playing football … We have never lost our confidence in Messi and he has proved himself time and again both in training and in matches.”
Zubizarreta was also asked how much Barça’s whole season depends on the outcome of this one match, and responded that “people forget that we have already won the Spanish Supercup this season. If we hadn’t won it, and given our circumstances at that time, then that may have affected our whole season. Our position in the league, qualifying for the cup final, all these things affect the outcome of the season, not just this match”.
Catalonia's two main sports dailies agree that Man City could be one of the most important tests FC Barcelona will face this season
But there is a general mood of optimism about the Catalans' chances of making it into the last sixteen
On the eve of one of the most eagerly awaited matches of the season, Manchester City v FC Barcelona in the Champions league on Tuesday night (8.45 PM CET), Catalonia’s two sports dailies, ‘Sport’ and ‘El Mundo Deportivo’, are naturally packed with information about a clash that people have been talking about for weeks.
“City will put Barça’s full potential to the test” writes Josep Maria Casanovas in ‘Sport’ in an article that clearly reflects the general mood of respect for Man City, despite the fact that this is the first time the Premiership side have ever reached this stage of the competition. “The arrival of a serious and experienced manager like Pellegrini has given them the balance and consistency that they lacked under Mancini. City are not yet at Barça’s level, but they have the financial resources to become one of the four biggest clubs in Europe.”
Casanovas also notes that the Sky Blues are “a club that speaks Spanish as two of their senior executives, the director general and the director of sport are ex Barça men. Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain are loving their English experience and have been able to turn a losing club into a winning one.”
Henry fancies FCB
‘El Mundo Deportivo’ sought the impressions of former Barça man Thierry Henry, who predicts difficulties for FCB. “Manchester are better than ever this year” says the Frenchman. “They have made some big investments are showing their full potential in the Premiership. But because of the way they play, I think they’re an opponent Barça can cope with well. City don’t like to close things up at the back and Barça will feel comfortable and find the spaces they like. I’ll be watching on TV and cheering on Barça like any other fan.”
The paper also spoke to Marc Muniesa, the former Barça man now playing in England for Stoke City. In his opinion, Man City “are not as good away as they are at home, but they have some quality players up front and can create danger at any time. … They’re very fast, but without Fernandinho and Agüero they aren’t quite the same team.”
Muniesa is generally very optimistic about his former club’s chances. “If you have to name City’s weak points, then it’s their defence” he comments. “They’re strong, physical players. Zabaleta and Kolarov like to go up and join the attack and leave a lot of space behind them, and their centre backs are not especially quick … And City seem to have gone off the boil a bit in recent weeks, which is also due to some important injuries. I have every confidence in Barça, but they’ll have to be careful with City’s speed.”
‘Sport’ columnist Francesc de Haro shares the same optimism, largely due to the resurgence of Leo Messi in the FCB ranks. He writes that “with the Argentinian back to full form, Barcelona are back at a level currently only matched by Bayern Munich, and Manchester City are no longer the colossus that seemed so indestructible back in December. The Barça fans are now seeing the light and I don’t suppose the City supporters are seeing things through rose-tinted glasses any more.”
The Chilean manager says that his team "will be the same team that we see in the Premier League"
Manuel Pellegrini revealed what he believes is the key to tomorrow’s Champions League match between Manchester City and FC Barcelona. “The most important thing is being able to be the same team that play every week in the Premier, with the same style and personality,” said the manager this Monday. “You will see the same team, perhaps with different players, but the style will be the same,” he added.
When asked about his players, the Chilean revealed that Ferandinho would be included in the team for tomorrow’s showdown: “He has a chance to play, he trained without any trouble with the team.” The Brazilian, who up until today was recovering from injury, hasn’t played since January 29. Fernandinho and Zabaleta are one card away from suspension, while Milner will complete his one-match ban tomorrow.
On the other hand, Pellegrini confirmed that Sergio Agüero would miss the match, noting that “he’s not ready,” but that he would likely play against Stoke City this weekend.
When asked about Barça, Pellegrini was clear that Messi isn’t the only threat his men need to be wary of: “Barça are not just Messi, even though he is the best player in the world.”
The FC Barcelona squad have departed for Manchester for their Champions League match on Tuesday night at 8.45 PM CET
The players debuted Nike's new clothing line in their trip to the British city. They wore red hoodies, grey shirts and blue pants
The first team left the Ciutat Esportiva at 9.30 this morning and arrived in Manchester just before noon. The plane left El Prat Airport at 10.30 AM CET and arrived in the English city at 11.50 AM GMT. The team will rest at their hotel and then at 7.00 PM GMT they’ll be training in the Etihad Stadium, the venue for Tuesday night’s game. Before, at 6.15 PM GMT, manager Tata Martino and defender Gerard Piqué will be speaking to the media.
President Josep Maria Bartomeu is leading the expedition, joined by Javier Faus, Carles Vilarrubí and Jordi Mestre, secretary of the board Toni Freixa and directors Jordi Moix, Pilar Guinovart, Ramon Pont, Dídac Lee and Josep Ramon Vidal-Abarca.
Gerard Piqué and Yaya Touré open up about the showdown between FC Barcelona and Manchester City in the Champions League
Gerard Piqué, in an interview with The Telegraph, opened up about his teammate Neymar Jr, the Champions League tie against Manchester City, and FC Barcelona’s style of play.
“He’s really young, he’s got a lot of hunger to show to the world that he is right for Barcelona and that he’s one of the best players in the word,” said Piqué on his teammate Neymar Jr. “His quality, his skills, his goals, have added a lot to the team and at the same time maybe he takes a little bit of the focus.”
The defender added: “Everything was on Messi, with everyone trying to stop him. Now we have another way. Ok, if it’s not Messi’s day, we have Neymar, we have Pedro, we have Alexis, we have a lot of quality in the striker area, and I think that’s really good for the team.”
When asked about the upcoming Champions League match against Manchester City, Piqué explained: “I remember when Pellegrini was here in Spain with Malaga and Real before he always liked to play [...] I think he has good quality players with David Silva, Kun Aguero – you know, they can have the ball, have the possession. They’re having a good season.”
Piqué then went on to talk about Barça’s style of play and its evolution over the years: “I think you have to play the way your players can play. With Xavi and Andres Iniesta and definitely Messi you have to play like this [possession football], because it’s the best way to win titles. It’s true that maybe we play a little more direct now, but you have to try to improve. All the other teams – all our opponents – they know how we play and how to defend against it. Finally you have to find ways to be different, or try to find other options and solutions to try to score goals.
“It’s difficult for us to be like Atletico Madrid now, who are playing very defensively, or Chelsea. We don’t know how to play like this, because in the air we are weak, from corner kicks or free kicks. If the other team has people who are 6ft 3inch or 6ft 4inch we are dead, because we are really small. We don’t know how to defend inside the box. We defend with the ball, by having the ball, with our possession.”
Read The Telegraph article in its entirety here.
FC Barcelona are a “great club with an exceptional history”
Yaya Touré spoke to UEFA.com about Tuesday’s Champions League showdown against his former club. The Ivorian international was clear that he doesn’t relish the opportunity to face his old teammates: "It's difficult because I don't really want to play Barcelona. It's a club I have a lot of respect for, a club which taught me a lot and where I have many friends who helped me.
"I will play against these guys at the Camp Nou,” he added. “It's the stadium where I always wanted to play and now I'll be coming back wearing a different shirt. I didn't want to play in front of the fans who gave me so much love and respected me, but that's football.”
Touré then explained the differences in playing for FC Barcelona and Manchester City: "At Barcelona it was my job to hold and organise. It was all about being focused and never losing concentration. Now I can drop into defence or join the attack. I was limited to playing in the middle at Barcelona. I like playing in England because it's an open league and very fast-paced."
Read the UEFA.com article in its entirety here.
Barça will play away to Manchester City on Tuesday and four days later Real Sociedad will host the Blaugrana for the 25th round of La Liga
Tata Martino’s men return to Champions League play on Tuesday when they travel to Manchester City for the first leg of the knock out round of the continental tournament (8:45 PM CET). Upon arrival back in Barcelona, the team will have just enough time to prepare for the away match against Real Sociedad (Saturday, 8:00 PM CET). After eliminating the Basque team from the Cup, the Blaugrana will return to San Sebastián for the 25th Round of La Liga.
Monday, 17 February
9:30 AM CET. Departure from the Ciutat Esportiva and trip to Manchester.
7:00 PM CET. Training session at Etihad Stadium.
Tuesday, 18 February
8:45 PM CET. Manchester City - FC Barcelona. First leg of the Champions League knock out round.
Wednesday, 19 February
10:00 AM CET. Return trip to Barcelona.
1:15 PM CET. Training session at the Ciutat Esportiva.
Thursday, 20 February
6:00 PM CET. Training session at the Ciutat Esportiva.
Friday, 21 February
9:45 AM CET. Trip to San Sebastián.
8:00 PM CET. Real Sociedad - FC Barcelona. Round 25 of La Liga.
Sunday, 23 February
Barça's rival in the Champions League are no longer league leaders after this afternoon's draw away to Norwich
Manchester City were held to a goalless draw by Norwich City this Saturday afternoon in the 25th round of the Premier League.
The Citizens came into the match without Agüero and Nasri, both of whom are injured. Manager Manuel Pellegrini sent out a starting team composed mainly of usual starters. The two teams were evenly matched for most of the 90 minutes of play, although the visitors had more chances on goal. Before the break Manchester City were denied by the woodwork, and in the second half Norwich enjoyed a good chance to take the lead.
The draw, coupled with Chelsea’s victory, means the Citizens are no longer at the top of the table. Pellegrini’s team are third on 54 points, two adrift of the new leaders.
Injured City striker out for a month with hamstring injury
Manchester City's star striker Sergio Aguero has been ruled out of the Champions League last 16 first leg tie against Barça at the Etihad on February 18th after picking up a hamstring injury midweek. The Argentinean, who has scored fifteen goals in seventeen Premiership games and six in just five Champions League appearences for City so far this season, will be sidelined for a month after he limped off with the hamstring injury during Wednesday's win over Spurs(1-5).
Options up front
Aguero had only recently returned from an eight game absence with a calf injury, but City are hardly short of options up front without him, with Negredo and Dzeko both looking sharp all season. The second leg of the Barça tie will be played at the Camp Nou on March 12th.
An Agüero hat trick plus a late goal from Kolarov sealed a second half comeback from a two-goal deficit against Watford in the fourth round of the FA Cup
Manchester City pulled off a heroic win in the fourth round of the FA Cup this Saturday, coming from 0-2 down to snatch a late victory against Watford. The visitors had silenced the Etihad Stadium as goals from Forestieri and Deeney gave Watford a two goal lead after just 30 minutes. Chilean coach Manuel Pellegrini reacted by sending on Kompany and Zabaleta to shore up City’s defence, and Jovetic to join Dzeko and Agüero up front.
Agüero hat trick
Watford defended doggedly for the opening quarter of an hour of the second half but were finally broken down by Argentine striker Kun Agüero. He hit a brace in the 60th and 79th minutes to level the score before Kolarov put City ahead for the first time in the match with just 3 minutes of normal time left. Agüero completed his hat trick in injury time and clinched Manchester City’s place in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
The process, which is exclusive to Club members, will begin at 10:00 AM CET on the Club’s website
1,870 tickets are available to members and, in the event that the demand for tickets is higher than the supply, there will be a draw held on 30 January
Starting next Monday, January 27, at 10:00 AM CET, through Wednesday, January 29 at 7:00 PM CET, the process to request a ticket for the match against Manchester City at Etihad Stadium will open. Club members can request a ticket at www.fcbarcelona.com.
This process is exclusive to Club members, and members must solicit a ticket through the online form found on the Members subsection of the site. Members cannot request more than one ticket, but multiple members may use the same online form if said members want to travel together to England.
A total of 2,752 tickets at 74 euros
For the match at the Etihad, FC Barcelona have a total of 2,752 tickets to distribute among members and fans, each ticket costs 74 euros. As is customary, 85% of the tickets are reserved for Club members (1,870) and supporters clubs (468). The remaining 15% (414) are reserved for athletic, institutional and sponsorship commitments.
Draw on the 30th
In the event that demand for the tickets surpasses supply, the Club will hold a draw on the 30th of January with the assistance of a notary. The Club will inform the members who win a ticket on the 30th or the 31st.
An interactive factsheet about the Barça striker’s achievement: matches, titles, goals...
An interactive factsheet about the Barça midfielder’s achievement: matches, titles, goals...
Pellegrini’s players brushed aside Cardiff thanks to goals from Dzeko, Navas, Touré and Agüero
Man City have won nine of their last ten Premier League matches and have 50 points from 22 games, one less than Arsenal
Manchester City beat Cardiff 4-2 this Saturday in matchday 22 of the English Premier League. The players coached by Manuel Pellegrini are in scintillating form and stormed to their ninth win in ten games with goals from Dzeko, Navas, Touré Yaya and Sergio Agüero.
Manchester City, Barça’s opponents in the Champions League round of 16, have 50 points from 22 games, one less than league leaders Arsenal. They are also the Premier’s top scorers with 63 goals.
The FC Barcelona forward, who attended the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala on Monday, is eager to reach the final of the European tournament
“Manchester City are a really strong side with outstanding players, and we’re going to have to be at the top of our game to get through the tie,” says the Brazilian
Neymar Jr, who attended the 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala on Monday, sat down with the Catalan press (Mundo Deportivo and Sport) upon his return to Barcelona to talk about the Ballon d’Or, his goals for the season, and his World Cup aspirations.
“Just being at the [Ballon d’Or Gala] is a prize, due to my work with Brazil, Santos and Barça,” said the FC Barcelona forward. “I just want to keep helping my teammates win major titles, which for me is the most important thing.” Neymar also revealed that he “would have voted for Leo Messi” for the Ballon d’Or, but that “Cristiano and Messi are different footballers who make a difference, I think the award is in good hands.”
Neymar eyes Champions League success
When asked which title he’d prefer to win this season, Neymar said, “the Champions League would be very special for me. I want to win it and together with my teammates we’ll do everything we can to do just that.” He added: “Manchester City are a really strong side with outstanding players, and we’re going to have to be at the top of our game to get through the tie.” He was then asked which team he’d prefer to face in a hypothetical Champions League final: “I don’t care who we face as long as Barça are in the final.”
World Cup, a chance at redemption
“The World Cup is the most important competition of our lives,” said Neymar. “We Brazilians are in debt with our country, as the first time it was played in Brazil we didn’t win it. The whole country is living the dream and we don’t want to disappoint. God will be on our side to help us make the dream come true.”
The midfielder joined Barça B this summer from Manchester City and he believes that the Citizens have "more to gain than they have to lose" in the Champions League tie against FC Barcelona
He also says that "Barça are slightly more favoured" but that the "tie will be very open"
The knock out round of the Champions League against Manchester City is circled in red on FC Barcelona’s calendar. The two games will be especially poignant for a player who recently joined the Catalan team: Denis Suárez. The player, who arrived to Barça B this summer from Manchester City's youth team, said, “I really like this tie, it will be very open and I’ll see my old friends.”
Suárez went on to explain that “Barça are slightly favoured” to go through to the next round because “the second game is at the Camp Nou, and if Barça play their brand of football it will be complicated for Manchester City.” However, “the match in Manchester will be very difficult for Barça because City, at home, are very strong.”
Eager to conquer Europe
The Barça B midfielder is aware of Manchester City’s desire to win the ultimate club tile. “They are a team that are not used to playing in the Champions League, but they have signed an experienced manager (Manuel Pellegrini), and they have fantastic players who have never won the tournament. They are very eager to win it,” said Suárez. That’s why the midfielder believes that “City won’t have any pressure in either match because they have more to gain than they have to lose.”
Barça played 59 official matches over the year in La Liga, the Champions League, the Copa del Rey and the Spanish Supercup
In 2013, Barça played 59 matches (not including friendlies) and won two trophies, La Liga and the Spanish Supercup. The following is a breakdown of the first team’s stats in the four different competitions they appeared in (Liga, Champions League, Copa del Rey and Spanish Supercup).
*Data provided by OptaSports
A solitary goal from Dzeko (min 65) was enough to defeat Crystal Palace in the team's final match of the year
Barça’s rival in the Champions League closed out 2013 with a hard-fought victory against Crystal Palace (1-0). The Citizens dominated the match from the start but they were unable to break through the visiting team’s defence until the second half. Manchester City are now the Premier League leaders (Arsenal are set to play this Sunday).
Close but no cigar
Despite missing Agüero and Yaya Touré, among others, Pellegrini’s men controlled the match. But their dominance didn’t translate to goals given Crystal Palace’s organised defence.
Dzeko scores the match winner
The visitors, despite not creating a lot of chances, threatened the goal defended by Joe Hart. Manchester City’s keeper played an exceptional match as his efforts kept Crystal Palace off the board.
On the 65th minute, Nasri crossed the ball into the area where it was received by Navas, who laid it off for Dzeko. The forward fired to the back of the net, and thus secured the three point for Manchester City.
FC Barcelona's Champions League rival cruise to a semi-final berth in the Capital One Cup
Manchester City, Barça’s next rival in the Champions League, also won their Cup match this evening. The men managed by Manuel Pellegrini defeated Leicester by 1-3 in the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup.
Kolarov opened the scoring after only eight minutes of play. Dzeko bagged a brace on both sides of the break (min 40 and 52). Leicester, who play in the English Championship, pulled one back thanks to a strike from Lloyd Dyer.
Barça's opponents in the last 16 of the Champions League have nine familiar faces for Barça fans in their team
The two games between Manchester City and FC Barcelona to be played in February and March offer a whole series of attractive aspects. Manchester City are a top class side stuffed with world class figures - many of them familiar faces to the Barça fans. Below, we look at some of the facts and figures surrounding the game:
- Manchester City were the team FC Barcelona invited to play in their 75th anniversary game in 1974 and Barça themselves were the guests for the inaugural game at City's new ground in 2003.
- Així, Puyol, Xavi and Iniesta have already played against Manchester City.
- Touré Yaya played for Barça between 2007 and 2010, when he signed for City.
- City have eight players who've figured in the Spanish League -Demichelis, Zabaleta, Navas, Silva, Javi García, Touré Yaya, Agüero and Negredo.
- Coach Manuel Pellegrini also has plenty of experience in Spain - he was boss of Vilarreal from 2004 to 2009, Real Madrid in the 2009/10 season and Malaga from 2010 to 2013.
- Pellegrini and Martino have never faced each other, though when the City boss was in charge of Argentina (2000-03) Barça's manager was the Paraguay coach.
- Manuel Pellegrini's teams played against Barça 18 times in the league, winning 4 games, drawing 2 and losing the other 12.
- Barça B have two plaiyers who started out in the City youth teams - Denis Suárez and Joan Àngel Roman.
- Manchester City were the team FC Barcelona invited to play in their 75th anniversary game in 1974 and Barça themselves were the guests for the inaugural game at City's new ground in 2003.
Season 2013 - 2014iCal
League - Round 29 Sun 03/23/2014 21:00
League - Round 31 Sat 03/29/2014 16:00