en, application, interactive_carousel
Barça's Champions League rivals suffered their second defeat in a week when Liverpool beat them 2-1 on Sunday
City are five points behind leaders Chelsea who have a game in hand
After losing 1-2 to Barça in midweek, Manchester City went down 2-1 to Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday in the Premier League – a result that leaves them five points off leaders Chelsea, who have played a game less.
Two great goals from The Reds
A brilliant tenth minute opener from Jordan Henderson gave Liverpool the lead, but City fought back and after Aguero had hit the woodwork, Dzeko gratefully accepted an assist from the Argentinean to draw the teams level on 25 minutes.
City pegged their hosts back after the break, but Brendan Rodgers young side stunned City with another excellent goal, with Coutinho firing home from distance in front of an ecstatic Kop and set Pellegrini another headache before their trip to the Camp Nou on March 18th.
The team beat Chelsea by the same score in the first leg in 2005 and then went on to win the competition
Barça will take a 2-1 lead into the second leg of their Champions League tie against Manchester City next month – a result that should give them plenty of confidence – along with the stats that show they’ve always won through in Europe with a similar first leg score.
Barça have won the away first leg of a European tie 1-2 on four previous occasions and each time they have gone on to win the tie, seeing off Basle (Fairs Cup, 1958-60), Spartak Prague (European Cup, 1985-86), Fram Reykjavik (Cup Winners Cup, 1990-91) and Chelsea (Champions, 2005/06). In the case of the Fairs Cup and Champions League wins, the team went on to win the competition that season.
The Argentine was the foundation upon which the victory in the Etihad was built
Lionel Messi put in a complete performance against Manchester City. Aside from the penalty, an excellent save by Joe Hart, the Argentine showed that even though he is the all time top scorer in the Champions League and is second top scorer this season with eight goals, he not only shines in this area of the game. He played an important role in both Luis Suárez’s goals and was a constant threat to the home side’s defence.
The statistics from the game only serve to back this up:
- 69 complete passes from 76 attempted, a success rate of 91%
-10 successful dribbles from 13 attempted
- He was involved on 114 occasions (Only beaten by Iniesta with 117)
-He won the ball 7 times (only beaten by Piqué, Sergio and Dani Alves)
-In defence he cleared the ball 5 times (only beaten the four defenders and Sergio)
The Uruguayan is the team's second highest scorer in Europe this season, with four goals from four appearances
- Luis Suárez scored two in a game for the first time since he joined the Club
- The Uruguayan has now bagged 4 goals in the Champions League this season, second only to Messi who has scored eight. Suarez also scored against Apoel (0-4) and Paris Saint Germain (3-1).
- Suárez is becoming a bit of a nightmare for City’s Joe Hart – his two goals on Tuesday followed up the brace he got for Uruguay against Hart’s England in last year’s World Cup.
- Although he played for Liverpool in the Premier for three and half years, Tuesday night was the first time he’d scored at the City of Manchester Stadium.
- The win against City was FC Barcelona’s fifth win on the trot in the Champions League.
- Barça dominated the game and chalked up 62% of total possession.
- Andrés Iniesta made most passes for Barça, with 99, whilst Messi had the highest percentage of completed passes – 90%
- Gerard Piqué was the top defender, winning the ball back 14 times.
- Keeper Marc-André ter Stegen again showed his footballing skills, making 15 passes – all of them successful.
After scoring his first brace for FC Barcelona, the Uruguayan described his high hopes for the second leg. Iniesta and Jordi Alba also spoke to the press
Luis Suárez was delighted with his team’s showing at the Etihad. “I think we had a great first half and should have scored more goals” he said. “They came out stronger in the second half and got it back to 2-1. City are a great team with a lot of qualities and we knew it would be difficult. But we can go away feeling that we have played a good game.”
On getting a brace, the Uruguayan added that “they were important goals that will help the team to get through this tie, so I’m happy. I think we can go on to win the second leg. We are aware that we are Barça and we have to show how strong we are at the Camp Nou”.
He also defended Leo Messi, who missed a penalty in injury time. “Leo knows how to deal with these situations” he said. “The important thing is that we had a spectacular first half in every sense. We read the game to perfection and knew how to make the most of the spaces they left open”.
Luis Suárez was not the only player to speak to the press after the win:
“We have achieved a great result. Even if Messi had scored the penalty, the tie would not have been over by any means. But we can feel good about this match. After a loss like the one the other day it was important to have a good game. We dominated for a long period and the team did a grand job."
“They came out stronger in the second half, but we didn’t defend at all badly. City managed to win back control of the game, and the feeling among the squad is that it was a good performance, but not a definitive one”.
“The return match will be an open one. When a team has nothing to lose then they are more dangerous and we are going to have to be careful at the Camp Nou. We’ll need to be as ambitious as we were here. Our attitude will be the same as today Tuesday at the Etihad. But we will have our people to support us back there and they will do all they can to help us into the next round. That’s very important for us”.
“We played a very good game. We had an especially good first half. Of course the result sets us up well for the second leg and we’re very happy about that”.
“There are no favourites in games like these and even though we’re leading, the return match will be a tough one. They’ll be looking for a win and we’re going to have to play as well as we did today”.
“Leo had a great game and once again showed why he is the best”.
The managers' approaches, Suárez's finishing and Messi's excellence all played their part in the result at the Etihad
FC Barcelona got a great result in Manchester, a 2-1 win that leaves them within touching distance of a place in the Champions League quarter finals. Here are five key factors that we’ve picked out from Tuesday’s game.
• The managers’ approaches. Both Luis Enrique and Pellegrini went for attacking methods. That was not much of a surprise as far as Barça are concerned but perhaps it was somewhat from Man City. The Chilean opted to start with two strikers, Agüero and Dzeko, a brave and unexpected choice. But Barça won the tactical battle by swarming the midfield with Sergio, Rakitic and Iniesta and with Messi dropping back to great effect.
• Suárez’s finishing. The Uruguayan had only ever scored once against Man City, but he got two more tonight. He produced a fine finish for the opener and was in the right place for the second. And he had chances to get even more goals in the first 45 minutes.
• Stunning from Messi. He may have missed a penalty, but the Argentinian provided a terrific assist for the first goal and broke through the City rearguard in the build-up to the second. He finished with an extraordinary 90% in completed passes and created danger every time the ball came near him.
• Second half resistance. Man City came out much stronger after the break. But lack of accuracy in their shooting, the security generated by Ter Stegen and some fine interventions from the centre backs, especially Piqué, presented Man City from getting any further back into the match than Agüero’s 69th minute goal.
• Keeping control. Agüero’s goal didn’t stop FC Barcelona from controlling the game towards the end. Mathieu and Adriano injected some fresh blood into the team and when Clichy was sent off it was as good as game over. And they even managed to force a penalty in injury time.
Stay up to date ahead of the first leg matchup in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League
Manchester City and FC Barcelona face off on Tuesday night at 8.45pm CET in the first-leg clash of the UEFA Champions League last 16 . We take a look at all the news surrounding this big matchup.
• FANS READY TO GO. The Barça fans that have travelled to Manchester have filled the city with the team colours in the build-up to what promises to be a wonderful match.
• PACKED STADIUM. Manchester City have confirmed that tickets for the game have sold out. There will be 45,000 spectators watching the match.
• FIRST CONTACT. On Monday night, the Barça players took to the City of Manchester pitch for the first time. It won’t be long before they’re back out there...
• BARÇA FANS IN MANCHESTER. Some 1,100 Barça fans have made the trip to Manchester for tonight’s game. Supporters clubs have arrived from England, Poland, France, Belgium, Cyprus and Switzerland, as well Catalonia and the rest of Spain. The Fan Club Barça Polska has taken no fewer than 80 members.
• THE PLAYERS’ MORNING. The FC Barcelona footballers have relaxed this morning at the team hotel. We have a collection of pictures showing how they have been spending their time.
• THE BARÇA PLAYERS IN THE UK PRESS. Sergio Busquets sat down with The Guardian where he praised the Manchester City's play and the importance of their star player David Silva. Meanwhile, The Telegraph interviewed Barça defender Jordi Alba, who gave his opinion on the front line of Luís Suárez, Neymar, and Leo Messi.
• CONVERSATION BETWEEN PABLO ZABALETA AND JAVIER MASCHERANO. The two Argentinians connected by video-conference a few days ago.
• THE MATCHUP, BY NATIONALITY. Manchester City and FC Barcelona feature players from all over the world, with up to 14 nationalities set to be represented out on the pitch.
• FOLLOW THE GAME LIVE. Wherever you are, we have you covered, on TV, Radio and Twitter.
• AGÜERO v MESSI. The two stars are pals on the Argentina national team. Here we take a look at their careers, side by side.
• THE TWO TEAMS, HEAD TO HEAD. Who have scored more goals in the Champions League? Who are their leading scorers? We take a look at all the stats.
• HOW SUÁREZ SEES IT. The Barça forward offered his analysis in an interview with UEFA.COM about how Barça can emerge victorious at Manchester City.
• A CLOSER LOOK AT MANCHESTER CITY. All the important info about Barça's Champions League rivals.
The defender expects a similar game to last year and also sees the defeat against Málaga as less painful than the reverse in Anoeta
In the press conference ahead of the first leg of the Champions League last 16 tie, Gerard Piqué has declared that he expects a “similar game” to the one last season. He also added that despite the defeat in the league at the weekend, the team are in good form as well as highlighting Manchester City’s strengths.
Piqué on the tie: “I think it will be a similar game to last season. We are two sides who like to attack and have the ball. There was a key moment in the first leg with Demichelis' sending off and the goal from the penalty spot, without that it would have been closer.”
“Tomorrow will be a great game in a great stadium with great fans who will get behind them. I am sure that this team will get a good result and will play well. If you look back at two or three months ago, the team is in good shape, a defeat cannot make us doubt that. We have to do it again, it’s our job.”
The team’s form: “The defeat the other day was not as painful as the loss in Anoeta [against Real Sociedad]. When we had won 11 games in a row, nobody was talking about that. We will show that in upcoming games and we will get good results. “
“We are always in the hunt for the league title every year and in the Cup we have been fortunate enough to get to the semis or the final. In the Champions League this game is very difficult against a team that is top 5 in the world, it will be very difficult…..The most important thing in the short term for the team is to get to the quarter-finals.”
Piqué on individuals:
“Touré is a very, very important player. He was at Barça. Now he is a more attacking player. When he plays and when he doesn’t, there is a difference, but we just have to look at ourselves.”
“Silva is their most creative player. I know him from the national team and Valencia and he has tremendous technical quality.”
“Mascherano and Sergio Busquets are two of the best defensive midfielders. One is more tactical and positional and has the best first touch and short pass. The other is capable of working hard and pressuring like nobody else.”
The 21 Barça players who have made the trip to England trained at the City of Manchester Stadium under persistent rain
Barça have ended a busy day in Manchester with a training session on the pitch where they will take on Manchester City on Tuesday, the City of Manchester Stadium. The 21 players who have made the trip to England trained on Monday evening in the rain following the appearances of both Luis Enrique and Gerard Piqué before the press. The first leg of their last 16 tie kicks off on Tuesday at 8.45pm CET.
The Barça coach says that "it is good to compete three days after a defeat"
Expectation is high ahead of the last 16 first leg Champions League clash between Manchester City and Barça. The blaugranes’ coach Luis Enrique appeared before the press at the Etihad Stadium on Monday to analyse the game that will kick off on Tuesday at 8:45pm CET, highlighting the dangers presented by Manuel Pellegrini’s team.
After the defeat in the league against Málaga at the weekend, the Barça coach admitted that it was good fro them “to compete again three days later, especially at a ground like the Etihad.”
Luis Enrique on differences to last season: “We cannot think about what happened last season, only in putting in a good performance. Tomorrow we will see if the distance between us is bigger or smaller, we will see that out on the field.”
“The game will depend on where the space is, and if we have the ball. For that reason the midfield will be key.”
On the team’s motivation: “We have to aspire to win everything because we are Barça. We have to change our mentality because we are going into a different competition with a tie over two legs.”
“To come to play in a country like England with a footballing tradition motivates the players, more so against a side who are candidates to win the competition.”
“In this kind of tie with two teams looking to win the competition, there is no favourite.”
On coming into the game off the back of a defeat: “It’s good for us to compete three days after the defeat, and more so at a venue like this.”
“We will try to do the things we did well before against a quality side like Manchester City.”
The two sides are set to face off this Tuesday in a meeting to feature players from up to 14 different countries
The UEFA Champions League is back for FC Barcelona, with Manchester City being their first big obstacle standing in the way of a quarter-final berth. The first leg is set for Tuesday night at Etihad Stadium. The matchup will be one of diversity, with both sides together expected to feature players from up to 14 different nationalities from throughout Europe, South America and Africa.
The Manchester City coach has warned in a press conference: "It's different to last season, we are in better shape and experience helps"
Samir Nasri points out he has never won against Barça so "there won't be any friends out there on the field"
The build up to Manchester City v FC Barcelona is well and truly under way with coach of the Premier League champions Manuel Pellegrini and attacking midfielder Samir Nasri appearing before the press on Monday. The Chilean and the Frenchman looked ahead to the first leg of their side’s last 16 tie against Barça, insisting they are confident of their chances of making it past the blaugranes.
The two clubs met last season in exactly the same stage of the competition with Barça the ones who made it through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Both Pellegrini and Nasri are adamant that this season “it will be very different.”
Pellegini on their approach to the tie this season: “It’s true that we did not play well in the group stage, but we fought to the end and we showed great character to qualify.”
“When you play over 180 minutes the most important thing is to win the first game and not concede. We will attack from the start.”
On Touré Yaya’s suspension: “He’s an important player for us, but we can still play without him. It’s is better to have him but we will have to win without him.”
On the tie last season: “Last year was different because on that occasion we had played 18 games in two months, this season we are in better shape because we have not played so much.·
“We did not change our style. We always try to play our style in one way or another, but we were not happy with our performance.”
On Manchester City’s opponents:
“Before the game against Málaga they had won 11 games in a row and so for that reason I expect the same old Barça as always.”
“We cannot only focus on Leo Messi because they also have Luis Suárez, Neymar, Iniesta and many other great players.”
“It’s a game that everyone wants to play in. Personally, I have always lost when I have played against Barça, so there will be no friends out on the field.”
“Last year we showed them too much respect and we did not have enough experience to face a side like Barça. This time we will not be afraid.”
The team's flight touched down in England at 11.55am GMT
FC Barcelona have arrived in Manchester for Tuesday’s Champions League game. Luis Enrique has taken 21 players on the trip and their flight departed El Prat Airport at 10.40am CET and landed in England at 11.55am GMT.
The group is being led by vice-president Javier Faus, directors Susana Monje, Jordi Moix, Josep Ramon Vidal-Abarca and Pau Vilanova. President Josep Maria Bartomeu, vice-presidents Jordi Mestre and Manel Arroyo and directors Silvio Elías and Dídac Lee will be travelling on the day of the match.
The squad are staying at the Lowry Hotel. At 7.00pm CET Gerard Piqué and Luis Enrique will be giving a press conference and an hour later there will be a training session on the City of Manchester pitch. The game kicks off on Tuesday night at 8.45pm CET.
Everything you need to know about both teams ahead of their Champions League last-16 tie
Manchester City prepared for FC Barcelona by trouncing Newcastle 5-0
The two Madrid clubs won their Liga fixtures
Four days before hosting FC Barcelona in the Champions League, Manchester City cruised to a comfortable 5-0 victory over Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium. Coupled with Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Burnley, the result has reduced the gap between City and the leaders to five points.
The game got off to the perfect start for the home side, with Agüero scoring from a penalty in the very first incident of the match. Nasri completed a lightning quick move after 12 minutes to extend that lead and then Dzeko converted a Silva assist to make it three. Shortly after the break, the Spaniard himself scored back-to-back goals in the space of three minutes to establish the definitive scoreline of 5-0.
After the game, manager Manuel Pellegrini was asked about Tuesday’s game with FC Barcelona. “We are going to try from the beginning to be an aggressive team and try to score goals” he said. “I am sure we will see our team trying to play in the same way we did against Newcastle … I think we are better prepared because last season we arrived in February after playing 18 games in December and January. But this year we have played fewer games and I also hope the experience of what happened against Barça last year will help us."
Wins for Madrid, Atlético and Villarreal
In La Liga, and following FC Barcelona’s 1-0 defeat at home to Málaga on Saturday, Real Madrid have moved four points clear at the top of the table thanks to a 2-0 win at Elche. After the first half ended without score, Benzema was gifted the opportunity to tap home the opener after 56 minutes and a quarter of an hour later, Cristiano Ronaldo headed home an Isco cross to make it two.
After last week’s defeat at Celta had distanced Atlético Madrid from the top two, Diego Simeone’s side are back within three points of Barça following a convincing 3-0 defeat of Almería on Saturday evening. Mandzukic put them ahead thanks to a rather dubious penalty and Griezmann then added two more, with all the goals coming in the first half.
Barça’s Spanish Cup semi-final opponents Villarreal won 1-0 against Eibar to stay well poised for a place in Europe next season. The Basques managed to hold out for 71 minutes before Vietto found the target for Villarreal just two minutes after coming on as a substitute.
Heartbreak for Granada
Next week, FC Barcelona travel to Granada (Saturday, 4.00pm CET), whose battle against relegation suffered a cruel blow at Levante on Monday night, just when it looked like an El Arabi penalty would be enough to secure three crucial points. Camarasa equalised for Levante with just two minutes to go and then Barral grabbed a winner for the home side four minutes into injury time. Granada finished with nine men, with both Colunga and El Arabi sent off and set to miss the game with FC Barcelona. The result leaves the Andalusians second from bottom and four points adrift of salvation.
Ben Pugsley, sportswriter and Manchester City fan based in Barcelona, sheds some light on the true identity of FC Barcelona's Champions League opponents
Ben Pugsley is a former Manchester City season ticket holder who now lives and works in Barcelona. A football pundit on Catalan television, he produces Premier League analysis on his Objective Football blog, as well as being a regular contributor to both a Manchester City and an FC Barcelona fansite. So he seemed like the perfect person to discuss the upcoming Champions League fixture. www.fcbarcelona.com tracked him down…
Tell us something about the history of Manchester City...
They were formed in 1880 in an area of old mills, factories and canals. The local St Mark’s Church set the club up as something for the unruly workers to have that could take their minds off other vices and stop them from causing mischief. And it morphed from there. They didn’t become Manchester City until sometime in the 1890s.
We have a lot of history that people forget. Around Europe, people see us as a nothing club that got lucky because a rich Sheikh injected millions into the club. They forget that back in the 60s and 70s we were winning leagues and we’d go around Europe hammering teams. Then in the 90s, we disappeared into the lower leagues…
And how did that happen?
If we go back to the first year of the Premier League, City had quite a good team. We finished fifth under Peter Reid. And they fired him! From that point on, it was a talent drain. We went through six different managers in four years. And the finances slumped too. We just ran out of money. And then in 96, we got relegated into the second division, and from there down to the league below.
We were out of the Premier League for four seasons. John Wardle saved us by putting his own money in and it got us back into the Premier League. But we went straight back down again. Then Kevin Keegan took us back up in 2002 and we’ve been there ever since.
How would you compare their rivalry with Man United to Barça’s own rivalries?
It’s obviously more of a geographical one, not political like here. And it’s changed down the years. In the Second World War, Old Trafford was bombed and Man United played for the next few years at Maine Road. They shared the same ground. It was all very friendly. Even in the hooligan years of the 70s and 80s, it was never a violent rivalry. Then in in the 90s, Man United were suddenly winning the league almost every year and that coincided with Man City’s descent, and we were made to feel inferior. That’s why United fans call us the ‘bitters’. It was jealousy, basically.
For many years it was probably more like the rivalry here with Espanyol. You had a super-successful global club, like Barcelona. And you had a neighbour that was struggling just to stay in the league and maintain financial stability. And the way Man City got out of it was the Commonwealth Games in Manchester. The city built a stadium for the Games and afterwards City turned it into a football ground. They would never have been able to afford to build it on their own. And then in 2008, Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi was looking to buy a club and the reason he chose Man City was the infrastructure. They had the new stadium.
The new stadium holds how many?
It’s 48,000 now, but they’re starting work on expanding it with a new tier that will hold 60,000. But it is outside of the city and quite difficult to get to. And City fans are very different to United fans. You don’t get as many tourists going to games. They’re making a big push now to allow the under 15s in, because they know they are going to grow into the 30 year olds who will take their kids as well. The club is very child-focused.
So now that Man City have risen like a Phoenix from the ashes, do you think they are now back for good?
With the infrastructure that has been created, it would take an absolute disaster for Manchester City to drop back down. This club’s greatest achievement of the last ten years is not winning leagues. It’s that a decade ago we were just a little club playing in front of small crowds in a run-down stadium and they’ve turned that into a top ten global football giant. The club is more professionally run and has been globalised through marketing.
There has been a huge emphasis on the academy structure. Two months ago we opened a 200 million pound campus, with pitches, gyms, sleeping quarters, places to study... Everything is incredibly hollistic under one roof, very similar to La Masia at Barça. And we’ve got teams in New York and Sydney. They know that you can’t just buy players for ever and ever. They want Man City to be like Barça and to have five or six products of the academy teams playing for the first team. Even if the owners walked away, Manchester City would still be self-sustaining. And this is still the start of the journey. People all around the world are going to be hearing a lot more about Manchester City.
There’s an old cliché that Man City is the team that people from Manchester support and United are for outsiders. How far is that really true?
I remember going to school in the 90s and there weren’t that many City fans. Kids wanted to support United because they were more successful. When they say 75% of people in Manchester are City fans, I just don’t think it’s true. I think it’s a lot more evenly balanced than City fans like to suggest.
Who would you name as the three biggest Man City legends of all time?
The older generation would probably say Frank Swift or Bert Trautmann, but I think Colin Bell is universally renowned as THE iconic Manchester City player. A free-flowing midfielder in the seventies, he played for England, but had his career cut short at the age of 27 by a knee injury.
In my generation we like to cling to the underdogs, like Georgi Kinkladze. He was around in the 90s and the way he ran with ball was amazing. We had a horrible team back then, a bunch of journeymen and cloggers, and in the middle of it there was this guy who was an only slightly worse version of Leo Messi.
And then there are the players from the modern era. You could make a very strong argument that four or five of the players in the team now, Kompany, Touré. Agüero or Silva for example, are among the top six or seven that have ever played for Man City.
Turning to the Barça game, how do you think this year’s game might be different to the ones last season?
Against Barça last year, Kompany was half-injured. Agüero was just back from being out for two months and was just not ready for the Camp Nou. But everyone is fit this time. Touré is suspended for the first leg but he’ll be back for the second. I think Barça fans will be surprised at how different Touré is now to the player he was at Barça. He’s the cog that holds together the midfield. His job here was to watch the backs of Xavi or Iniesta, but at City he’s literally the quarterback. Everything goes through him.
After the first game last year, Pellegrini was criticised for being too cautious. They gave Barça too much respect and in the first half they were really cagey and sat back. But as the game went on they grew in confidence. Perhaps Pellegrini will remember that. I think Man City’s pace could cause significant problems for Barça’s defence. We won 3-2 at Bayern Munich with all those great defenders and Neuer in goal, and Agüero scored a hat-trick like it was nothing.
But I still think he’ll set it up for damage control. In the Champions League, you want to have something to play for in the second leg. In the Premier League, Pellegrini will play the same attacking way whether it’s Chelsea or it’s Hull. But in the Champions League he tends to be more pragmatic. Against Roma, we just sat back in our own half and killed them on the counter attack, and Pellegrini would never do that in the Premier League.
There was a bit of slump in Man City’s form after Christmas. How can you explain that?
Back in December we’d just won something like eleven games in a row and Barça were nervous when the draw was made. The front page of Sport said it was the worst draw they could have possibly got. And then we got injuries. Dzeko, Agüero, Jovatic. All the forwards. We had James Milner, a midfielder, playing at centre forward! Then Silva, Kompany and Nasri. And then Touré went to the African Nations... Meanwhile, Barça were winning every week and people were saying Man City would have no chance of stopping them. But they should be careful not to get lulled into a false sense of security. Man City didn’t suddenly turn into a bad team. We were missing important players, and they're all back now.
So what’s your prediction?
Looking at things objectively, Barça are still the better team on paper. I’d say 1-1 on Tuesday, with Barça to go through over two legs.
The two Argentines spoke earlier this month about the upcoming Barça-Man City tie and much more
On February 5, just after training, Javier Mascherano and Pablo Zabaleta met up by videoconference from the FC Barcelona training ground and the Manchester City training ground respectively. The two Argentinian internationals have been great friends for a number of years now and they often share a room when they are on international duty together.
This confidence in each other leads them not just to talk about the upcoming Champions League tie between the two clubs, but also other topics as their friendship is plain for all to see amongst the smiles and laughter, despite the high stakes at risk in Europe’s top club competition.
Luis Enrique is taking everyone apart from the injured Douglas and Vermaelen to Tuesday's Champions League fixture
The Champions League is back at last and on Sunday morning the first team squad trained for the first time with their minds fully focused on the crunch game with Manchester City. When the session was over, Luis Enrique announced that he is taking all 21 of his available first team players on the trip, leaving hind only the injured Douglas and Vermaelen.
The full squad travelling to Manchester is thus as follows: Ter Stegen, Bravo, Masip, Montoya, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio, Xavi, Pedro, Iniesta, Suárez, Messi, Neymar, Rafinha, Mascherano, Bartra, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, Adriano, Alves and Mathieu.
The workout was used to recover from the exertions of Saturday’s disappointing home defeat to Málaga and to get the players focused on the game that kicks off at the Etihad at 8.45pm CET on Tuesday night. Jordi Alba worked out in isolation, while Douglas was able to train with the group despite not yet having been given medical clearance to play. The team will fly to England on Monday and will train at the match venue in the evening.
The following is Barça’s schedule for their first day in Manchester (all times CET):
10.00am: Departure for Manchester.
6.00pm: Press conference with Luis Enrique and Gerard Piqué in the City of Manchester Stadium.
7.00pm: Training in the City of Manchester Stadium
The Argentine looks ahead to their Champions League first leg against the Premier League title holders
After ending the group stage of the Champions League as leaders, Barça are back in action on the competition on Tuesday. Their opponents in the last 16 will be Manchester City and just a few days before the first leg, Javier Mascherano has cast an eye over the Premier League team, their coach Manuel Pellegrini and some of the players that he knows well such as Sergio Agüero and Pablo Zabaleta.
Mascherano on Manchester City:
“They will try to focus on the Champions League because it is a key competition for them and they are trying to improve every year.”
“If we maintain the good form we are in then we have chances. The most important thing is our form going into the game. We have the tools to put in a good performance in Manchester.”
“We have made more changes than they have and we have some new names. They have the same coach and they will try to do the same things. We will see a similar tie and we hope to get the same result.”
“Agüero and Messi are both very talented. Agüero is difficult to mark but nobody can compare to Messi because he is the best and nobody is at his level.”
“Zabaleta is a player who is very committed and he always gives 100%.”
“Pellegrini is a great coach and he has been at great clubs in his career. He is very calm and easy going and it is easy to understand him.”
The two Argentinian strikers are preparing to face each other in the Champions League
The Brazilian dealt with a wide range of subjects in his press conference after training this morning
Adriano Correia dealt with a wide range of subjects in his press conference after training this morning, touching on team mate Dani Alves’ situation, the team’s current run of good form and the upcoming Champions League game against Manchester City
Key period for the team
“We are working hard as we always do – we want to improve and win things and we want to grow. If we can do that, then we have the chance of some great things ahead. We are united in training and on the pitch and that makes a big difference”.
“We know there is a lot of hard work before the end of the season and we are getting into a key period where we need to be 100%”
“We know that if we have a dip in form, there are teams who are really looking forward to testing us. It’s vital we maintain our level if we want to keep enjoying this good form”.
“There were a lot of doubts raised about the team earlier on in the season, which is normal – now people are saying we’re the best team in Europe. It’s just people’s opinions and we are used to that”.
“Seeing Leo playing like he is is something we all enjoy, even in training. He pulls us along and that motivates us all”.
“He has always been an important player since he came here and he continues to show that. He’s always in the Champions League ideal XI. Dani wants to stay here and if I renew my contract it’ll be for our friendship and for my respect for him as a footballer”.
I’m available for the boss for whatever is needed. It’ll be a pity if Dani leaves, but I am here to play at right back if I’m needed - the boss knows he can count on me”
The countdown to Barça’s quarter-final first leg match up with The Sky Blues has begun. We take a look at the stats of Manuel Pellegrini’s side ahead of the game on Feb 24th
The Barça midfielder feels the team are motivated and ready to fight for everything on the table
FC Barcelona midfielder Andrés Iniesta recently told FIFA.com that his team are motivated to achieve all the objectives that have been set for this season. “We're in a position to win it all. It's all right there and we have a great team," he said. “We're coming off a down year, and that has really served as a motivator for us. We're going to try and make sure this season ends happily, with titles in our pockets, and with the fans having fun again," he declared.
Iniesta talked about how last season helped them refocus. “When you don't get what you want, it motivates you for the next year. We all want to win, but sometimes you can't do it and the season isn't so positive."
The midfielder also described the keys to making plays out on the pitch. "I try to see the game through quickly developing plays, and how I can get involved," he explained. Iniesta said he was proud to be a part of such a select group of players for the sixth straight year.
Soon to be 31 years old – this May, to be more specific – Iniesta said that his age and experience are a big help depending on the opponent and the type of game. “You learn to see certain things and to interpret the game," he admitted. "Now I have what I need not just to keep playing, but to keep getting better," he concluded.
Read the full interview:
The Barça forward has scored in nine straight home games – across all competitions – while netting 14 goals
FC Barcelona striker Leo Messi is in top form as Levante visit Camp Nou on Sunday at 5.00pm (CET). The Argentinian is on fire, having scored in the last nine home matches. Beginning on November 22, when his hat-trick against Sevilla gave him the league’s all-time scoring record, Messi has been difficult to stop, scoring 14 goals in Barça’s last nine games, an average of 1.5 goals per game.
One of Messi’s greatest virtues is that he scores when the team need it most, finding the net in vital situations in seven of the last nine home games. After beginning the streak against Sevilla, he scored three more times against Espanyol as Barça came from behind to win. In the UEFA Champions League, Messi led Barça’s reaction against PSG, tying the match four minutes after Zlatan Ibrahimovic had put the French ahead. Atlético Madrid and Villarreal were Messi’s most recent victims in the league, as he led his team to a 3–1 win over Atlético and a 3–2 comeback win against Villarreal.
Key in the Cup too
The Argentinian also scored the only goal of the match against Atlético Madrid in the first leg of the Spanish Cup quarter-finals, giving Barça the upper hand heading into the return leg at the Calderón. The last home goal Messi scored came against Villarreal on Wednesday night in the first leg of the Cup semi-finals. The ‘flea’ was tasked with finding holes in the Villarreal defence and did, putting Barça up before the break. On Sunday, he’ll have a new opportunity to keep the streak going.
Diego Simeone’s side have beaten Liga leaders Real Madrid 4-0 at the Vicente Calderón, while a last-minute goal from Milner saved Man City from home defeat to Hull
Third placed Atlético Madrid have beaten league leaders Real Madrid 4-0 in a derby that is likely to have a huge bearing on the final outcome of La Liga. Defeat for Atlético would have left the defending champions ten points behind their city rivals and well out of the chase for the title, but instead they now find themselves tied with Barça on 50 points. Real Madrid still lead with 54.
The result has provided a welcome boost to Barça’s own title aspirations. The Catalans, of course, have a game in hand, away to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday at 9.00pm (CET) where a win would now move them to within one point of the lead.
Atlético call Saúl
It was a glorious afternoon for the home fans at the Vicente Calderón, so used to being relegated to the status of the Spanish capital’s ‘other’ team. Not today they weren’t. Portuguese midfielder Tiago put them ahead after 14 minutes, and just four minutes later, Saúl, who had come on as a replacement for the injured Koke, made it two with an absolute peach of a bicycle kick.
Real were without the injured Sergio Ramos and Pepe, plus the suspended left-back Marcelo, and were sorely missing all three at the back as Atlético came at them time and time again. Antoine Griezmann had already had number of chances to extend Atlético’s lead before he finally found the target after 66 minutes to make it 3-0. And with a minute left on the clock, Mario Mandzukic converted a Fernando Torres assist to top off a day that the red-and-white half of Madrid will be remembering for a very long time. Not since 1987 have Atlético put four goals past their biggest rivals and the last time they beat Real home and away in the league was way back in 1964.
Villarreal prepare for Barça with win
Villarreal bounced back from defeat at the Camp Nou last week with a 2-0 win at home to Granada. They advanced after 29 minutes thanks to a Mainz own goal but struggled to get the job finished, with Granada pushing hard for an equaliser in the second half. Not until the second minute of injury time, when Gerard Moreno made it 2-0, were the three points secured. Villarreal, of course, will be facing FC Barcelona once again in the Spanish Cup semi-finals. With that in mind, the likes of Giovani dos Santos, Vietto, Cheryshev and Mario Gaspar were all among the regulars that were rested for this league fixture.
Milner rescues Man City
Meanwhile in England, FC Barcelona’s Champions League opponents Manchester City were on the verge of shock home defeat to Hull City, but a last minute free-kick from James Milner salvaged a 1-1 draw at the Etihad. David Meyler put Hull, who had lost their three previous games, in command after 35 minutes. It proved to be frustrating afternoon for City, who attacked constantly to no avail, hitting the crossbar twice, before Milner’s late equaliser. The result means they have now gone four league games without a win, while also getting knocked out of the FA Cup, and they’re now seven points adrift of Premiership leaders Chelsea, who won 2-1 at Aston Villa.
12 of the 32 goals that the Argentinian has scored this season have come from his right foot, his best tally ever
Leo Messi has never been so two-footed. This season, 12 of his 32 goals have been scored with his supposedly weaker foot. That’s already more than his previous best, ten in the 2009/10 season, and there are still four months of the campaign left to play.
His first right-footed goal of the current season came away to Levante. He has since repeated the trick against Granada, Sevilla, APOEL, Espanyol, PSG, Cordoba and Villarreal. Especially memorable moments were his hat-trick in Nicosia and braces against Espanyol and Cordoba.
Oddly enough, ten of the twelve goals were scored in the second half of matches, and eight of them at the Camp Nou.
Leo Messi has scored a total of 386 goals for Barça. Of those, 61, in other words a relatively low percentage of 16%, were scored with his right foot. But this year the figure has risen to 37%, which clearly shows that this is an aspect of his game that he has been working to wonderful effect.
"In the league we have to wait for Real Madrid to slip up, which will surely happen. In the Cup and Champions League luck comes into it and we have to make our own", says the German keeper
Marc-André ter Stegen was one of the first new faces at Barça for the 2014/15 season. With the season having reached the half way point, the German keeper talks to fcbacelona.com about how he is settling in at the club, his own particular style of play and the number 1 spot in between the posts at the Club.
You move to Barça was made official in May and in July you started preseason. That was seven months ago now, so how have you settled in at the club?
“Yes, everything’s a little different than in Mönchengladbach; both the team and the circumstances, but people have seen how I play and what I do. I think everything’s going pretty well.”
For you the language was a key issue. How is your Spanish and Catalan?
“I’m doing lots of hours of Spanish class,but it’s tough to hold a conversation because a lot of people use Catalan, which is a very difficult language. When people speak I can follow the conversation, but if they speak directly to me it’s much more difficult. But anyway, I'm happy with how things are going and I’m going to step things up heading into the summer.”
How have you settled into the dressing room?
“I don’t know. So far I think the team’s comfortable with me.It definitely needs time. At first people didn’t know how I played and the team didn’t really know me very much. I think we keep playing better and we’re growing together as a team.”
Amongst your qualities, your ability with the ball at your feet is what stands out with both your right and left foot.
“Ever since I was a kid I’ve tried to play that way and I train hard to work on ball control. That’s my game, I’ve always said it. A lot of people might be surprised to see how I play.”
Are you two-footed?
How do you decide to play with one foot or the other?
“It depends on the situation. There are lots of things that can have an impact. Being able to play with my right or left foot helps me a lot playing here. It’s clear that not every pass is great, but the idea is to solve a given situation in the game.”
Did your time as an outfield player when you started playing help you in that aspect?
“That was a long time ago, but I think it helped in my early days as a goalkeeper. Maybe now I see game situations differently than if I hadn’t been an outfield player.”
You seem a very relaxed person as criticism or praise does not seem to affect you. Is this true?
“I don’t dwell too much on whether I receive criticism or praise. For me it’s important to look at the games, regardless of whether I’ve played well or not. In the end what matters is feeling. I put a lot of stock into what people close to me say and who look at my games such as goalkeeping coach De la Fuente so I can draw my own conclusions.”
The team is performing spectacularly in defence, what is the secret to its success?
“I think it’s about how well we set up. We play way up, we’re quick to put on pressure and we try to do it as a unit, including the goalkeeper. I think that’s our formula and it’s worked, even though we gave up two goals against Atlético. We’ve also shown that we can be tough on defence if necessary. I think if we keep playing well defensively, we have a shot at succeeding in all three competitions.”
Up until now Claudio Bravo has been the number one choice in the league and you in the Champions League and the Cup. What do you make of that?
“It’s a tough situation. I've always given 100% and that still remains my goal.
Bravo is doing a great job in the league and that’s a decision that has to be respected, but I'm going to keep trying.”
During your time here, you will have seen how terrible everything is when you lose and how brilliant when you win. Does everything get taken to these extremes in Germany?
“Definitely. I’ve never seen a single game judged based on half measures. You either play well or you don’t. I can get used to this situation. That’s the way it is here. I draw my own conclusions about the games I play in.”
Tell me about Barça’s chances in the league, Champions League and the Spanish Cup.
“We have to stay focused. In the league we hope Madrid stumble, which they surely will do. To stay in the title race we have to keep winning our games. In the Spanish Cup and the Champions League, luck certainly is a factor; we have to make our own luck. And we’re trying.”
You have two tough ties coming up against Villarreal and Manchester City. How do you approach those games?
“I think we have a shot. We just have to keep doing what we do every day. If we play good football and are solid on defence, we’ll have a good opportunity to get past Villarreal and Manchester City.”
Barça's Champions league rivals stepped up with a big performance at leaders Chelsea
Chelsea and Manchester City, Barça's Champions League last-16 rivals, played to a 1–1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Saturday in a match pitting the top two teams of the English Premier League. Neither side took many risks in an effort to avoid taking what would amount to a huge defeat, as Chelsea kept their five-point lead at the top of the table.
Chelsea went ahead in the 41st on a Rémy's goal but Manchester City roared right back and knotted the game just before the half as David Silva redirected a Kun Agüero shot into the net.
The Citizens are second in the Premier, five points back, but out of the FA Cup
With Agüero back in the fold, Pellegrini has just added Wilfried Bony as a reinforcement
The hype is palpable. With just under a month remaining until the highly anticipated heavyweight bout between FC Barcelona and Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League, the Citizens find themselves second the Premiership, five points behind leaders Chelsea. But in the last two weeks, City have been unable to capitalise after briefly being co-leaders, as a result of an untimely 1-1 draw at Everton coupled with a 2–0 home loss to Arsenal. Adding salt to the wound was City's head-scratching home loss to Middlesbrough in the FA Cup on Saturday, knocking them out of the tournament.
One piece of positive news for the Citizens has been the return of Kun Agüero, the Argentinian sharpshooter who suffered a left knee injury that left him sidelined for a month before coming back for the draw with Everton on January 10th. With a string of injuries to front-line players as 2014 drew to a close, City went to the winter transfer market with its checkbook and brought home Swansea striker Wilfried Bony for the sum of 25 million euros.
Bony, an Ivory Coast international who is currently playing in the African Cup of Nations alongside City cohort and ex-Barça man Touré Yaya, could theoretically be called to play in the last 16 tie versus Barça since his previous team did not play in European competition this year. Yaya, however, will miss the first leg—scheduled for Tuesday, February 24th in Manchester—due to suspension.
On a day of many shocks in England, FC Barcelona's Champions League opponents lose at home
Manchester City, who entertain Barça on February 24 in the Champions League second round, have crashed out of the FA Cup after losing 2-0 at home to Middlesbrough. There was simply no way through the Championship side’s tight defence and manager Aitor Karanka was able to celebrate an unexpected victory at the home of the Premiership champions.
Patrick Bamford was practically inside the City goal when he tapped in the opener following a collision between Boro’s Adomah and goalkeeper Caballero. Defender Fernando did his best to avoid the goal, but to no avail.
Kun Agüero missed a golden opportunity to pull level in the second half, but the visitors secured the win when former Murcia man Kike grabbed a second in injury time.
The result was one of a series of ‘cupsets’ in the fourth round of the competition, with Chelsea throwing away a 2-0 lead at Stamford Bridge to lose 4-2 to League One side Bradford, and Manchester United being held 0-0 by Cambridge of League Two.
Luis Enrique has used 29 players so far this season, seven from Barça B
At the season's mid-point, the list of goalscorers has grown to 17 different players
Barça are now in the quarterfinals of the Spanish Cup, the last 16 of the Champions League, and in the thick of the title race in La Liga. With everything still on the table, Luis Enrique has at his disposal a team with a wide variety of players who have received playing time. In fact, except the injured Thomas Vermaelen, every single first team player including the three goalkeepers have minutes under their belts this season. They include 22 players, plus seven more from Barça B, brining the total to 29.
Barça B rookies
Luis Enrique has full confidence in the youth academy, made clear by the minutes he has afforded to several of the Barça B players this season. Apart from Munir and Sandro, who have been regulars in the team this season, Adama, Samper, Halilovic, Edgar Ié and Gumbau have also seen playing time.
17 different goalscorers
One other stat that jumps out is the list of scorers. With Mathieu's goal against Elche on Thursday night, the number of players who have found the net this season has swelled to 17. In all three competitions this season, goals have been scored by the following: Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio, Xavi, Pedro, Iniesta, Suárez, Messi, Neymar, Rafinha, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, Adriano, Mathieu, Adama, Munir, and Sandro.
FC Barcelona have fired home 34 goals in their last seven games at the Camp Nou, with Leo Messi getting no fewer than 12 of them
The defeat at home to Celta Vigo last November was a major blow to FC Barcelona, but the first team have responded as they know best – scoring goals. Since that day, they have scored at least three times in every game at the Camp Nou, averaging 4.86 goals a game.
Barça bounced straight back from the upset against the Galicians by trouncing Sevilla 5-1. Leo Messi’s hat trick in that game placed him ahead of Telmo Zarra in the all-time Liga goalscoring ranking with a new record of 253 goals.
In the next home fixture, Espanyol were on the receiving end of another five-goal drubbing. Messi claimed another hat trick and in doing so set yet another record, that for goals scored in the Barcelona derby.
The next game at the Camp Nou was against PSG in the Champions League, with first place in the group at stake. Once again, Barça got the job done in style, winning 3-1, with the attacking ‘trident’ of Neymar, Leo Messi and Luis Suárez all getting their names on the scoresheet for the first time.
In the last two home games of 2014, the goals flowed just as spectacularly. Huesca were brushed aside 8-1 in the cup and then Córdoba were routed 5-0 in the league. The new year began with yet another flood of goals in the cup, this time against Elche, 5-0.
And then last Sunday came one of the toughest fixtures of the year, at home to Atlético Madrid, the Liga champions against whom Barça failed to score more than once in any of six attempts last season. But with Neymar, Messi and Luis Suárez all hitting the target once again, Atlético were soundly defeated 3-1. May the goals continue to come!
FC Barcelona's next UCL opponent miss a golden opportunity to gain on leaders Chelsea
Manchester City blew a chance to gain ground on Premier League leaders Chelsea, drawing 2-2 with visiting Burnley after coughing up a pair of second half goals in front of a stunned crowd. FC Barcelona's next opponent in the UEFA Champions League raced out to a two goal lead in the first half but were unable to seal the deal against the second worst team in the standings, failing to extend their winning streak to ten games and make up valuable ground on a Chelsea side that could only manage a 1-1 draw at Southampton.
The first team played 56 games this year, and here's a breakdown of how they fared
In the year about to end, FC Barcelona played 56 official matches, in La Liga, the Champions League and the Spanish Cup. Here is a summary of how they did in each of the three major competitions.
Tickets went on sale at 10.00 AM CET this Monday morning for the Champions League game
Tickets for the Champions League game on March 18 at the Camp Nou between Barça and Manchester City went on sale on Monday morning. Tickets are on sale to Club members and the general public, with a maximum of six tickets per person.
Following the period of sales to members without season tickets, remaining seats went on sale at ten o’clock on Monday morning for other Club members and the general public and are available through the usual channels: the Club website (www.fcbarcelona.com), Ticketmaster and the FC Barcelona ticket offices.
Season 2014 - 2015iCal
Copa del Rey - 1/2 2nd leg Wed 03/ 4/2015 20:00
League - Round 27 Sat 03/14/2015 18:00