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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.
Both FC Barcelona and Manchester City have made changes since the two met at the same stage of last season's Champions League
Barça brought in nine new faces over the summer, plus new coach Luis Enrique, whilst City signed five players
With Barça and Manchester City again drawn together in the last 16 of the Champions League, we take a look at the changes at the two clubs since their last meeting.
Changes across the board
Barça: Thirteen of the players who were in the squad to face Manchester City last season should be in the reckoning to play against them again in February. Here are the changes at the Club since last year’s game:
- Coach: Luis Enrique took over the team in the summer and oversaw the signing of a total of nine new players across all areas of the team.
- Goalkeeper: Ter Stegen,Claudio Bravo and Jordi Masip all came in over the summer, with Ter Stegan so far taking on European duties and Bravo the keeper in the league.
- Defence: Jérémy Mathieu, Douglas and Vermaelen have all joined, but Luis Enrique has also kept the same basic structure at the back.
- Midfield: Sergio Busquets, Xavi and Andrés Iniesta continue to boss the Barça midfield, with summer signings Ivan Rakitic and Rafinha also getting plenty of game time.
- Forwards: Luis Suárez was the summer’s headline signing and he has formed a fearsome front three with Messi and Neymar – the three have bagged 13 goals in the six group games they have so far played together upfront – more than the totals for six of the teams in the knockout round.
Fewer changes at City
Manchester City: After taking the Premier League title last year, Manuel Pellegrini chose to consolidate his side as he entered his second season in charge, bringing in five new faces:
- Goalkeeper: England number 1 Joe Hart continues as the main keeper, with ex-Malaga keeper Willy Caballero joining up with his ex-boss as back up.
- Defence: Sagna and Mangala have been brought in to strengthen City at the back, where Kompany and Demichelis – the two centre backs who played against Barça last season – continue.
- Midfield: With Touré Yayá, Fernandinho, Kolarov, Navas, David Silva, Milner and Nasri still forming the backbone of the midfield, Pellegrini has also added Frank Lampard and Fernando, who both played a big part in the team’s final two group stage wins.
The Barça number 10 joked with his Argentina team mate Sergio Agüero about the Champions League draw
We have not had to wait long for a reaction from the Barça players with regards to the draw in the Champions League that has pitted them against Manchester City once again in the last 16. “Excited about the Champions League tie,” was the reaction of Leo Messi via social media.
The Barça number 10 took the opportunity to have a joke with his friend and team mate in the national side Sergio Agüero who is currently a Manchester City player. “It will be nice to come up against my friend ‘Kun’. I always beat him at FIFA [video game], but we will see what happens out on the field,” wrote the Champions League top goalscorer of all time.
Another who gave his reaction via social media was Andrés Iniesta. “A great tie awaits us against Manchester City!” exclaimed the blaugrana midfielder.
¡Nos espera una gran eliminatoria contra el Manchester City! A great tie against Manchester City is awaiting us!— Andrés Iniesta (@andresiniesta8) diciembre 15, 2014
The Catalans topped their first round group, while Man City qualified in second place behind Bayern Munich
Manchester City and FC Barcelona will face each other in the last sixteen of the Champions League, just like they did last season. The English side finished second in their first round group behind defending champions Bayern Munich, and ahead of Roma and CSKA Moscow. Meanwhile, Barça topped their group ahead of fellow qualifiers Paris Saint-Germain, and the eliminated Ajax and APOEL.
Here is a summary of the respective performances by the two sides in their six group matches:
A year after their first official game, City and Barça are set to battle it out for a UCL quarter final spot once again
The two clubs had previously only met in friendly games
Up until this year, Manchester City and FC Barcelona had never met in an official game – though there had been a number of friendlies between the two sides – but with the Champions League draw again pitting them against each other in the last 16, the stage is set for the second clash between the two in the space of a year.
The two clubs have played six friendlies against each other, with the English side appearing in the game to mark the Club’s seventy fifth anniversary in 1974 and the 2009 Gamper Trophy, whilst Barça travelled to Manchester for the inauguration of the City of Manchester Stadium in 2003.
In the last 16 of last year’s Champions League, Gerardo Martino’s team won 0-2 at the Etihad and 2-1 at the Camp Nou to book a spot in the quarter finals.
Here are the stats of all the games between the two clubs:
02-06-1952. Les Corts (Barcelona). Friendly
FC BARCELONA-MANCHESTER CITY 5-1
FC Barcelona: Velasco (Caldentey, 46), Calvet, Brugué, Segarra, Escudero, Bosch, Torra, Aldecoa, Kubala, Moreno and Gràcia.
Manchester City: Trautmann, Branagam, Rigby, Westwosrd, Paul, McCourt, Meadows, Williamson, Smith, Spurdle and Clarke.
Goals: Kubala (19’, 21’, 56’), Torra (20’), Gràcia (68’).
08-05-1957. Les Corts (Barcelona). Friendly
FC BARCELONA-MANCHESTER CITY 3-2
FC Barcelona: Estrems, Seguer, Biosca, Gràcia, Flotats, Segarra (Bosch), Tejada, Villaverde (Sampedro, 30), Martínez (Vicedo), Evaristo and Camps.
Manchester City: Trautmann, Leivers, Ewing, Sear, Phoenix, Paul, McCiellans, Kirkman, Jonstone, Hayes and Clarke.
Goals: Villaverde (9’), Tejada (77’), Sampedro (78’).
12-11-1974. Camp Nou (Barcelona). Friendly (75 anniversary game)
FC BARCELONA-MANCHESTER CITY 3-2
FC Barcelona: Sadurní, Rifé (De la Cruz, min 46), Gallego, Marinho (Juanito, min 78), Albaladejo, Migueli, Juan Carlos, Marcial, Heredia, Cruyff and Sotil.
Manchester City: McRae, Barret, Donachie, Henson, Clarck, Oakes, Jummerbee, Bell, Marsh (Leman, min 46), Keegan and Tueart.
Goals: Juan Carlos (3’), Cruyff (53’), Marinho (59’).
15-08-1986. Municipal Huelva. Torneig Colombino (semifinal)
FC BARCELONA-MANCHESTER CITY 1-1*
FC Barcelona: Urruti, Gerardo, Migueli, Julio Alberto, Víctor (Pedraza, min 70), Fradera, Carrasco (Clos, min 80), Calderé, Robert, Hughes and Marcos (Esteban, min 70).
Manchester City: Suckling, Reid (Brigthwell, min 41), May, Clements, McCarthy, Redmond, Davies, McNab, Christie (Kinsey, min 23), Baker and Wilson.
Goals: 1-0 Robert (16'); 1-1 Wilson (50').
*Manchester City won 3-4 in the penalty shoot out
10-08-2003. City of Manchester (Manchester). Friendly (City of Manchester Stadium inaugural game)
MANCHESTER CITY-FC BARCELONA 2-1
Manchester City: Seaman, Sun Jihai, Sommeil (Dunne, min 74), Distin, Tiatto, Wright-Phillips, Bosvelt (Barton, min 74), Sinclair (Sibierski, min 74), Ali Benarbia (Berkovic, min 30), Anelka (Wanchope, min 63), Fowler (Macken, min 63).
FC Barcelona: Rustu, Puyol, Andersson (Gerard, min 46), Reiziger, Òscar López (Ros, min 83), Xavi (Márquez, min 83), Cocu, Quaresma (Saviola, min 46), Ronaldinho (David Sánchez, min 83), Kluivert (Iniesta, min 63), Overmars.
Goals: 1-0 Anelka (34’); 1-1 Saviola (58’); 2-1 Sinclair (67’).
19-08-2009. Camp Nou (Barcelona). Trofeu Joan Gamper
FC BARCELONA-MANCHESTER CITY 0-1
FC Barcelona: Pinto, Montoya (Alves, min 46), Fontàs (Henrique, min 63), Puyol (Bartra, min 31) (Piqué, min 63), Maxwell (Muniesa, min 63), Touré (Thiago, min 46), Sergio Busquets (Keita, min 46), Gudjohnsen (Jonathan Dos Santos, min 46), Pedro (Messi, min 46), Bojan (Ibrahimovic, min 46) and Jeffren (Gai Assulin, min 54).
Manchester City: Given, Zabaleta (Garrido, min 65), Dunne, K. Touré, Onuoha, Weiss, Wright-Philips (Tripper, min 81), Ireland, Barry (Etuhu, min 69), Petrov and Tévez (Bellamy, min 64).
Gol: 0-1 Petrov (27’).
18-02-2014. City of Manchester Stadium (Manchester). Champions League Round of 16 first leg
MANCHESTER CITY-FC BARCELONA 0-2
Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Jesús Navas (Nasri, min 57), Yaya Touré, Fernandinho, Kolarov (Lescott, min 57), David Silva and Negredo.
FC Barcelona: Víctor Valdés, Dani Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Sergio, Iniesta, Alexis (Neymar, min 57), Messi and Fàbregas (Sergi Roberto, min 85).
Goals: 0-1 Messi (53’); 0-2 Dani Alves (89’).
12-03-2014. Camp Nou (Barcelona). Champions League Round of 16 second leg
FC BARCELONA-MANCHESTER CITY 2-1
FC Barcelona: Víctor Valdés, Dani Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Sergio, Iniesta, Fàbregas (Sergi Roberto, min 86), Messi and Neymar (Alexis, min 79).
Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Milner, David Silva (Negredo, min 72), Yaya Touré, Nasri (Jesús Navas, min 73) and Agüero (Dzeko, min 45).
Goals: 1-0 Messi (66’); 1-1 Kompany (88’); 2-1 Dani Alves (90’).
Barça beat Manchester City in last season's Champions League, 0-2 at the Etihad and 2-1 at the Camp Nou
Barça have again been drawn against Manchester City in the last 32 of the Champions League – a repeat of last year’s tie at the same stage, when Barça won 0-2 in Manchester at 2-1 at the Camp Nou to book a quarter final spot.
Here’s the chance to watch the goals from Leo Messi and Dani Alves – two apiece – which saw off the threat from Pellegrini’s side last season, and Lescott’s late consolation goal at the Camp Nou.
The first leg will be played in Manchester on the 24th of February with the return leg at Camp Nou on the 18th of March
The tie is a repeat of the encounter in the last 16 the previous season when Barça came through victorious
Manchester City will be Barça’s opponents in the last 16 of this season’s Champions Leaague following the draw which has taken place this Monday in Nyon, Switzerland. The two sides only previous meeting in Europe came last season at exactly the same point in the competition.
The first leg will be played in Manchester on the 18th of February with the return leg at Camp Nou on the 18th of March.
We will take a look at the previous meetings between the side and at the team coached by Manuel Pellegrini.
Manchester City appeared to be out of the competition at one point in the group stage but two excellent results in their last two matches earned them a place in the last 16. On Match Day 5 a late goal from Sergio Agüero gave them all three points against Bayern at home before they went to Italy to defeat Roma 2-0 to secure passage to the next round.
Barça and ‘the Citizens’ know each other well after meeting in the competition at the same stage last season. City coach Pellegrini continues to enjoy the talents of a squad that contains names such as the currently injured Sergio Agüero, Vincent Kompany, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Eliaquim Mangala, Aleksander Kolarov, David Silva, Edin Dzeko, Samir Nasri and the former Barça player Touré Yaya.
In the competition last season, the only official meetings between the two clubs, the blaugranes won 2-0 away in Manchester before finishing off the tie with a 2-1 win at Camp Nou in the second leg.
The other ties in the last 16:
Atlético Madrid - Bayer Leverkusen
Real Madrid - Schalke 04
Chelsea - Paris Saint-Germain
Monaco - Arsenal
Porto - FC Basel
Bayern Munich - Shakhtar Donetsk
Dortmund - Juventus
Man City and Barça meet again in the last 16 of the Champions League
The English club have maintained the majority of the squad from last season with Manuel Pellegrini still in charge as manager
The draw has brought FC Barcelona and Manchester City together in the last 16 of the Champions League for the second successive season. The English club maintain the same spine of the squad that faced the blaugranes in the previous campaign and are in the round of 16 in the competition thanks to victories in their final two games of the group stage. Here we have 10 things you ought to know about Barça’s next opponents in Europe.
1. Barça and Manchester City have met just twice in official competition. Those meetings came last season in the last 16 with the balugranes winning 2-0 in Manchester and 2-1 at home in Camp Nou.
2. The English side are currently in second place in the Premier League on 36 points, just three behind leaders Chelsea.
3. City made it through to the last 16 thanks to their 2-0 away win at Roma in the final game of the group stage.
4. In the final two games of Group E City picked up 6 of their final total of 8 points which was enough in the end to take them through in second place. Prior to the wins over Bayern and Roma they were in fourth place behind CSKA Moscow on 2 points.
5. New faces this season at City include Frank Lampard signed from Chelsea, Mangala (Porto) , Caballero (Málaga), Fernando (Porto) and Sagna (Arsenal).
6. The former blaugrana Touré Yaya remains one of the key members of the squad at City but he will unavailable for the first leg due to suspension.
7. Striker Sergio Agüero is currently sidelines with a knee injury picked up in the recent league win over Everton but he is expected to be back in time for the tie against Barça.
8. The Argentinian is the team’s top scorer so far in the competition with 5 goals in 5 matches. City other 4 goals in the group phase were scored by Touré, Zabaleta, Milner and Nasri.
9. Manchester City have never been beyond the last 16 of the competition. They were knocked out by the blaugranes at that stage last season and in their other two appearances in the competition in 2011/12 and 2012/13 they failed to make it out of the group stage on both occasions.
10. Only three City players have taken part in all 6 games in the competition so far – they are: goalkeeper Joe Hart, midfielder James Milner and their Andalusian winger Jesús Navas.
From 10.00 AM CET on December 17, non season ticket holding members will be able to buy tickets for the Champions League return leg at the Camp Nou
FC Barcelona and Manchester City meet at the Camp Nou on March 18 at 8.45 PM CET in the second leg of their Champions League round of 16 match. Non season ticket holding Barça members will get priority treatment in the purchase of up to a maximum of six tickets each, which go on sale from 10.00 AM CET on Wednesday December 17.
Tickets can be purchased from the usual sources, namely the club website at www.fcbarcelona.com, from Ticketmaster and from the FC Barcelona ticket offices.
On Monday December 22, also at 10.00 AM CET, all other Barça members and the general public will be able to buy tickets for the match. For security reasons, English supporters may not purchase tickets.
All the stats from a good week in the Champions League plus fan photos, possible opponents in Europe and hit videos
FC Barcelona take on Getafe on Saturday with the intention of rounding off what has up to now been a pretty good week for the blaugranes. Here at fcbarcelona.com we take a look back at what have been an exicitng last few days.
The blaugrana have faced all seven teams they could face in the round of 16: Juventus, Basel, Bayer Leverkusen, Arsenal, Manchester City, Shakhtar and Schalke
FC Barcelona have a Champions League past with all seven teams they could face in the next round of the competition: Juventus, Basel, Bayer Leverkusen, Arsenal, Manchester City, Schalke and Shakhtar.
Let's take a look at some of the past matchups Barça had with their potential upcoming rivals.
In the 1999/2000 season Barça played against the London club in the group stage. They played to a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou in the first leg and the Barça won 4-2 in London. In the 2009/10 season, Barça knocked out Arsenal in the quarterfinals with a 2-2 first leg in London and a 4-2 win in the return leg at Camp Nou. In 2010/11, Barcelona won 2-1 at Emirates Stadium and 3-1 at Camp Nou. The most important Champions League match between the teams was in the 2006 Paris final where Barça won 2-1 with goals from Samuel Eto'o and Juliano Belletti.
Barça have only faced the 'Citizens' once, and that was in last season's round of 16. Barça won both matches: 2-0 in Manchester and 2-1 back at Camp Nou.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen:
The 2001/02 season saw the first ever match in the Champions League between FC Barcelona and this German side. They faced each other in the group stage with the Germans winning 2-1 in Leverkusen and Barça winning by the same score at Camp Nou. In 2002/03, Barça won in the pre-group stages by 2-1 in the first leg in Leverkusen and 2-0 back home in Barcelona.
The best match between them came in 2011/12 when Barça won 3-1 in Germany and 7-1 at Camp Nou. In that game, Leo Messi scored five goals.
Barça have played Schalke just once, in the 2007-08 quarterfinals. FC Barcelona managed to win by a single goal in both games, a pair of 1-0 victories.
Barça faced Basel in the third and fourth matches of the 2008/09 group stage. Basel, which was Ivan Rakitic's first club, lost to Barça 5-0 at home before managing a 1-1 draw in Barcelona.
The Ukrainians have played Barça three times in the Champions League. Twice were in the group stage. In 2004/05, Barça won 3-0 at Camp Nou while Shakhtar won 2-0 in Donetsk. In the 2008/09 season, Barça won 2-1 in the Ukraine, but lost 3-2 back in Barcelona. It was that season which ended with resounding success for Barça as they celebrated their third European championship in the final held in Rome.
But the highlight was when they met in the quarterfinals of the 2010/11 season with Barça winning 5-1 at home and then 1-0 at Shakhtar.
Having only faced off twice with Barça, Juventus are the only team of the seven possible rivals who have not visited Camp Nou in the last ten years. The last time was in the 2002/03 quarterfinals, which the Italians won. They drew 1-1 in Turin but Juventus prevailed 2-1 Camp Nou.
The one that gives Barça fans the best memories was the 1985/86 quarterfinal. FC Barcelona beat a Juventus with Platini and Laudrup the year of the Seville final against Steaua Bucarest. Barça won the first leg at home, 1-0 and then drew 1-1 in the return leg, knocking out one of the best teams of the era.
Messi set the all-time Champions League goal scoring record, currently at 75 goals
The blaugrana led the tournament in completed passes with a staggering 92% success rate
FC Barcelona closed out the Champions League group stage in remarkable fashion, and now head into the knockout stages boasting some of the tournament's best play so far. Here are 10 group stage facts to prove it:
1. Tournament-best passing percentage. Barça led the all 32 teams in this year's group stage with a 92% passing rate. Barça players completed a staggering total of 3,862 passes in six games for a mind-blowing average of 644 passes per game.
2. Least corner kicks against. Barça tied with Atletico Madrid for fewest corner kicks against with just 14 in the six group stage games. In other words, Barça's rivals averaged a paltry 2.33 corners per game.
3. Maximum possession in a game. At GSP Stadium in Cyprus against APOEL Nicosia, FC Barcelona monopolised play with a dominating 74% possession. No other team held the ball more in any one game during this phase of the competition.
4. Second in average possession with 63%. Barça were runners up in this category only by a hair, with Bayern Munich's 64% average possession coming in just ahead.
5. Leo Messi was the second leading scorer. The Barça forward scored eight goals in six matches and was only surpassed by Shakthar Donetsk striker Luiz Adriano's nine goals. Messi's eight goals made history, as he became the leading scorer in Champions League history after surpassing Raul. Messi equalled the former Real Madrid striker after scoring two goals against Ajax at the Amsterdam Arena, and broke the record with a hat trick at APOEL. He then closed out the group stage with a goal against PSG at Camp Nou. Messi's record currently stands at 75.
6. Gerard Piqué had a 99% passing rate. The FC Barcelona central defender attempted a total of 216 passes, of which 214 were successful, good enough for third among defenders. Although it must be noted that the top two were Michael Heylen of Anderlecht and Kostas Giannoulis of Olympiakos who, despite having achieved a 100% passing rate, played a total of just six minutes between the two. Piqué, on the other hand, played 360 minutes.
7. Messi was the top passing forward. Messi led all forwards in the six Champions League group stage matches with an 87% passing rate. He made a total of 267 passes.
8. Dani Alves was the second-best passing defender. The right back made a total of 340 passes in five games. Only Giorgio Chiellini's 461 were better, although the Italian defender played in one more game than Alves.
9. Marc Bartra led defenders with fewest fouls committed. The central defender committed only one foul in 450 minutes played. Forty-one other players also only committed a single foul in this phase of the competition but among them, Bartra played the fourth most minutes. The other 41 players averaged 244 minutes played while Bartra played almost double that number of minutes.
10. Neymar was the most fouled player. The Brazilian was fouled 21 times in the five games he has played in this Champions League — an average 4.2 fouls per game.
Barça could face Arsenal, Juventus, Basel, Bayer Leverkusen, Manchester City, Shakhtar or Schalke
The UEFA Champions League round of 16 draw will take place in Nyon, Switzerland on Monday, 15 December at 12.00 PM CET. It is then that FC Barcelona's next opponent will be determined. The next round is set for February and could pit Barça against any of seven potent sides including: Juventus, Basel, Bayer Leverkusen, Arsenal, Manchester City, Shakhtar and Schalke. Let's take a quick peek at each possible opponent.
Right now they are the best side in Italy, and are the three-time defending champions of the Serie A. Massimiliano Allegri's team have experienced players in Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini and Patrice Evra plus talents like Paul Pogba, Carlos Tévez, Fernando Llorente and Claudio Marchisio. And the glue holding it all together is midfielder Andrea Pirlo.
In European matches, though, they've been a bit of a mixed bag. In their last group match versus Atlético Madrid, they could have either won the group or been eliminated from the tournament, depending on the final score. But in the end this defensive-minded team finished second, thus winning a date with a first-place side. Will it be Barça?
The Swiss always produce a team with good clockwork. Paulo Sousa's team have once again overcome the loss of some key players in the offseason and continue to lead the Swiss Super League while staying competitive against European competition. This isn't their first time as in the past they did well when dealing with the losses of players like Shaquiri and Salah.
This year has been especially good to them in the Champions League, having taken four points from English giant Liverpool in the group stage, celebrating their trip to the round of 16 at Anfield. They also beat Ludogorets twice while falling twice to Real Madrid.
BAYER 04 LEVERKUSEN
Discreet and serious, Bayer Leverkusen has been lurking in the Bundesliga shadows of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund for years waiting for their moment to break out. This year is no different as they sit in fourth place in the Bundesliga while winning second place in group C of the UCL behind Monaco, but ahead of Zenit Saint Petersburg and Benfica.
Roger Schmidt's offensive scheme has brought out the best of players like Bellarabi, Çalhanoglu and Son, the team's top scorers this season. If not for some unlucky late game collapses, they would have several more points would be closer to Bayern than the 13 points that currently separate them.
This is a team that are always around at this time of the year. Arsène Wenger's men are in their eighth straight round of 16, this time led by ex-Barça forward Alexis Sánchez, a rare bright spot on an Arsenal hat have not played well in the Premier League, currently sitting sixth, 13 points behind leaders Chelsea.
However, they haven't looked bad against European competition, clearly besting Anderlecht and Galatasaray while managing a first-place tie in the group with Dortmund, but falling to second place on a tiebreaker. They've got plenty of talent with Ramsey, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain and the injured Özil. Their big challenge is to get to the quarterfinals, something they haven't done since 2010.
Manchester City got two big wins to just get by. Kun Agüero scored against Bayern in the last minute gave them a do-or-die win, which they followed with a 2-0 victory over Roma.
Barça know them well from last season's round of 16. Pellegrini still has names like Agüero, now injured, Kompany, Lampard, Milner, Mangala, Kolarov, David Silva, Dzeko, Nasri and the ex-Barça player Touré Yaya.
Schalke 04 has virtually been a lock for the round of 16 in recent years. This year they got there in their last game with a 1-0 win at Maribor to snatch second place away from Sporting Lisbon.
The German side has an experienced goal scorer in Dutchman Klas-Jaan Huntelaar, two up and coming stars in Julian Draxler and Max Meyer plus mainstays like world class defender Benedikt Howedes and Kevin Prince Boateng, back with Schalke after a stint with AC Milan.
The Ukrainian team have overcome political strife at home in Donetsk to make it into the round of 16, thanks to their 1-1 draw at group winners Porto which gave them 9 points and the edge over Athletic Club.
With Mircea Lucescu in charge over the past several seasons, Shakhtar boasts a nice combination of homegrown Ukrainians and creative Brazilians, including Bernard, Douglas Costa and, above all, Luiz Adriano, who scored 9 goals in the group stage to tie the record set by Cristiano Ronaldo last season.
A milestone of 150 all-time wins and a record 75 Messi goals in the Champions League
Plus, this is the eighth consecutive season the team finish first in their group
FC Barcelona have created quite a stir all across Europe after beating Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 at Camp Nou on Wednesday night to vault to first place in Group F and a trip to the round of sixteen where they will take on a yet to be disclosed opponent.
Last night's match, by the numbers:
150 victories in the top European Competition sits Barça third on the all-time win list behind Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Their very first win in the European Cup came on 23 September, 1959 in a 6-2 win over CDNA of Sofia.
75 goals for Messi in the Champions League: The Argentinian just keeps going, extending his own record even higher against PSG. He got to 74 goals with a hat trick against Apoel in Nicosia. How many more will he get?
Barça have won their group for the 8th consecutive year, dating back to 2006/07 when they lost out to Chelsea. This year's 15 group stage points is their second best showing in that span — they got 16 in 2011/12.
Neymar was the man of the match. His long-range strike that gave Barça a 2-1 lead was the match's turning point.
Neymar's spectacular goal from outside the area against PSG has a precedent: He scored a carbon copy in last season's 6-1 win over Rayo Vallecano at home.
Of Neymar's 29 goals with FC Barcelona, he has scored 13 game-winners.
The 82,570 spectators at Camp Nou last night was tops on the season, confirming the match's vast media coverage.
Mascherano is on the cusp of 200 games played with Barça. Against PSG, he played in his 199th.
Against PSG, Barça players received exactly zero yellow cards, which hadn't happened since their first UCL match this season against APOEL, also at Camp Nou, which Barça won 1-0.
Last night's final score of 3-1 over PSG is the same result Barça had at Camp Nou against Ajax. Messi and Neymar also scored in that win. The third goal, though, was courtesy of Sandro.
FC Barcelona find out who they'll play next in the Champions League on December 15 in the draw to be held in Nyon (Switzerland) at 12.00 PM CET
They have finished top of their group for the eighth time in a row
Juventus, Basel, Bayer Leverkusen, Arsenal, Manchester City, Schalke 04 and Shakhtar Donetsk. Of these seven teams, all runners-up in their groups, one will be drawn as FC Barcelona’s opponents in the Champions League lround of 16 to be played from February 17. All will be revealed on Monday December 15 in a draw in Nyon (Switzerland) from 12.00 PM CET.
Six of those are sides that Barça already played in recent editions of the competition. Juventus last met the Blaugrana in 2002/03, the only side that has not visited the Camp Nou in the last decade. The Italians, along with Arsenal and Manchester City, would appear to be the most dangerous opponents that Barça could meet, but in whatever case, the Catalans have the advantage of playing the second leg at home.
FC Barcelona have topped their first round group for the eighth consecutive time. The last time they failed to do so was the 2006/07 season, when they finished second to Chelsea. Since then, there has only been one occasion when they have matched the 15 points they got this year (the 16 in the 2011/12 season).
Suárez scored Barça's third goal in the win over PSG
The Uruguayan explained: “it’s always important for a striker to score goals. It gives you self-confidence"
Barça front man Luis Suárez stressed that teamwork had been key to tonight’s victory over PSG: “we had to work as a team and help each other out. That helped us reach our goal and win the game”. The match also saw Suárez bag his first goal for the team at the Camp Nou and he explained: “it’s always important for a striker to score goals. It gives you self-confidence and you can feel good about having helped the team to take those very important three points”.
The win means Barça top their group – something Suárez feels is very important: “it means that you know you can feel more comfortable going into the second leg of the next round, knowing you are playing at home. This was also important for the Club’s image - we are very demanding here and we had to show everyone who we are”
Suárez reckoned the game at the Camp Nou was similar to the first match between the two in the group, played in Paris: “you could see then that that were a very well set up collective, with a lot of pace upfront and in tonight’s game that played the same way. The difference was that we took the game forward after the break and were able to build on our lead”-
As to any possible last 32 rivals, Suárez insisted: “If you want to win the Champions League, all of your opponents are difficult and tough to beat!”.
Below are some more of the players’ post-match reactions:
“Before the game we talked about trying to find areas where we could have superiority and create danger and I think that we managed that. We turned the result round and it’s always easier once you’ve got into the lead, but on the whole I think we put in a pretty complete performance”.
“We didn’t know who would start – that’s the way Luis Enrique is doing things this year. What we did know is that he was trying to figure out how PSG would play and try and surprise them to create danger”.
“I really do prefer the second leg at home. I know that there are teams who will go away for the return game and get a result, but I prefer to play that second match at home, with the fans helping us get through”.
“It’s hard to say you have controlled the whole game, but I do feel that we did so for large parts of the match. PSG are an uncomfortable team to face and they like to have the ball. The way they press is capable of unsettling any team”.
“I’ve been off for a whole and now I just have to keep feeling better and better and getting the rhythm back into my game so that I can move forward”.
“I don’t know what stage the side is at, but if we want to fight for every title, we have to continue to grow as a team. We are on a good run of results and we are improving our performances. That’s what we work for in training and that’s why we keep working to prepare for the next challenge”.
“Messi, Suárez and Neymar are a guarantee for us – let’s hope they can keep up this level of performance, because if they do, we will definitely go a long way”
“I felt fine in a three man defence. It put pressure on PSG when we came out with the ball and it worked well”.
The boss stressed the "seriousness" of his team against "a difficult opponent, who closed down at the back and took an early lead”
Luis Enrique was happy with his team’s performance against PSG, telling reporters in his post-match press conference: “we played at a very high level. We put in a serious game against a difficult opponent, who closed down at the back and took an early lead”.
Reflecting on his tactical changes, the boss explained: “we are stronger if we have the chance to use different set ups. Then our opponents don’t know what to expect from us”. PSG coach Laurent Blanc admitted that he was surprised with the 3-4-3 formation Luis Enrique sent out, but the Barça boss insisted: “the team really understood well what we wanted of them”.
“This was a game that we had to win because our aim was to top the group. And that is precisely what we have done – now we’ll see if home advantage is as important as they say!”
Looking to the next round, Luis Enrique refused to be drawn as to any team he’d like to be drawn against, making it clear that: “it would show a lack of respect to say I’d prefer to face any particular side – or if I said who I didn’t want us to play against. We’ve done our job now and I am sure whoever we are drawn against will be happy to have got this far too”.
The players' reactions to the win against PSG which gave the team top spot in their group
Luis Enrique has left out Masip, Montoya and Douglas, along with the suspended Alves and Rafinha and the injured Vermaelen
On Wednesday morning, Luis Enrique named his eighteen to face PSG in the evening’s Champions League clash at 8.45 PM CET in the Camp Nou. Along with the suspended Alves and Rafinha, and the injured Vermaelen, he has also opted to do without Masip, Montoya and Douglas
The full squad is therefore as follows: Ter Stegen, Bravo, Adriano, Alba, Bartra, Mathieu, Mascherano, Piqué, Sergio, Xavi, Sergi Roberto, Iniesta, Rakitic, Pedro, Neymar Jr, Munir, Messi and Luis Suárez.
A look at what the French press expects from tonight's showdown between the Group F leaders
The high profile game on Wednesday night between FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain at the Camp Nou has attracted plenty of French reporters to the city. The two clubs are going into battle for top place in the group in what Pierre Menes (Canal Plus) describes as “an important match but not a decisive match … The fans are going to see a prestigious match in which some good football is going to be played.”
Men of the match
There is considerable disagreement among the press as to who the standout players are likely to be this evening. Naturally, the names of Ibrahimovic and Messi are in everyone’s mouth, but "the Paris centre backs and Sirigu will also have something to say” says L’Equipe correspondent Lionel Dangoumau.
"This is an enormous challenge for Paris” says Loic Briley (RMC Sport). “They need to confirm themselves after the win at the Parc des Princes.” He’s supported here by François Clauss (Europa 1), who adds that “a good result would send a big message out to the rest of Europe.”
Fred Traini (Canal Plus) insists that there’s nobody in the FC Barcelona line-up to match Lionel Messi, who “is always the key man for Barça". Henry Laguérie (Europa 1), however, has a feeling that this could be the moment for Suárez, because “the Argentinian striker has never done very well against PSG.”
Both previous meetings between the teams at the Camp Nou have ended 1-1
The Parisians are the only side in Europe's five major leagues that have yet to lose this season
Barça and PSG meet on Wednesday night at 8.45 PM CET on the final day of group play in this season’s Champions League. Here’s a round-up must-know facts to prepare you for the game.
- This is the third meeting between the teams at the Camp Nou. Both previous encounters ended 1-1.
- In total, Barça have one win and PSG have two in the six previous games between these two teams. The other three ended all square.
- Barça’s only win was in the Cup Winners Cup Final of 1997, when Ronaldo scored the only goal of a 1-0 victory in Rotterdam.
- Against French clubs, Barça have 9 wins, 5 draws and 4 defeats.
- PSG have only lost two of their last eleven away fixtures in the Champion’s League.
- The side managed by former FCB man Laurent Blanc is the only one in Europe’s five biggest championships that is till unbeaten this season.
- Cavani has scored eight goals in his last ten appearances, while Ibrahimovic scored twice to secure PSG a win against Nantes in their last Ligue 1 outing.
- Tonight’s referee will be Englishman Martin Atkinson, whose only previous experience of officiating Barça was the 2-2 draw with AC Milan in the 2011/12 season. He has never been in charge of a PSG match.
The German knows how well PSG play as a unit but also that if FC Barcelona get it right, this is a game they can win
On a more personal level, he stressed how much he still needs to keep learning new things every day
Marc-André ter Stegen has become Luis Enrique’s regular first choice keeper in the Champions League. In his first press conference since the day he was presented, and on the eve of the game with PSG, he commented that “if we play the way we know we can, we’ll win … We want to finish top of the group”.
Asked about former FCB man Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose in such fine form and a major threat from set pieces, Ter Stegen agreed that a close eye needs to be kept on the Swede. But it’s PSG as a unit that he’s most concerned about. “We know how good Ibrahimovic is” he said. “He is one of the best. We’ll have to be careful with him … and with the rest of their team! Like us, they are dangerous as a team”.
Regarding his situation in the squad, the keeper commented that “I want to do the best I can. In the last few games I have shown that it’s all going well, but my aim to is to do as well as possible in every training session and to be the most complete player possible. You can never stop.”
He also described how he is always observing his team-mates Claudio Bravo and Jordi Masip, because “I want to keep learning new things every day”.
But does Ter Stegen think that he and Bravo have done enough for the fans to forget the man they replaced, Víctor Valdés? “He is a player who can never be forgotten” was the reply. “Everybody said good things about him, that’s what I’ve heard, that he’s a fantastic person. We can’t forget him. We can only make sure that we do our job well”.
The FC Barcelona manager is full of respect for PSG and has also downplayed the importance of finishing top of the group
In his press conference prior to the showdown between Barça and PSG, home manager Luis Enrique kept his cards very close to his chest. “The idea is go out and do what we do in any game, go out to win” he said. “We’re playing against one of the candidates to win the title and they are such a top quality side that we’ll need to produce our best both in attack and defence.”
“I think it’ll be a similar game to the first leg” he continued. “Our control of the game and PSG dangerously quick on the counter. I hope we are able to create more pressure than we did last time … But PSG have a very powerful squad and are good enough to overcome any absences.” As for former FCB striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, “he’s a top player but we can stop him if we defend as a unit. If we work as a block we can prevent him from getting the ball as much”.
Best to come
As usual, he refused to reveal much about his planned line-up. Dani Alves is suspended, but the Asturian wasn’t letting on about his replacement. “I have a lot of options” he said. “I just hope that what I decide to do comes as a surprise to Laurent Blanc”.
The game will determine who finishes top of the group, which would obviously be nice for Luis Enrique but he doesn’t think it matters as much as some people are making out. “It’s not an impossible disadvantage that means you’re out of it” he explained. “You can come second in your group and still qualify for the next round.”
But games like this are always going to be that little bit more special. “You hear the Champions League music play and you know what an attractive competition it is” he said. “But I don’t think it’s the most important game of the season. I hope the biggest games have yet to come.”
He ended with a comment about the issues of crowd trouble and insulting chants that have been raised in Spain over the last week. “I am opposed to any kind of violence in football” he said.
The first team prepared for Wednesday's meeting with the French champions, but Rafinha was missing with a virus
On Tuesday morning, the Barça players continued preparations for their battle with Paris Saint-Germain for the right to be seeded in the next round of the Champions League. Luis Enrique had his full squad available apart from the injured Vermaelen and Rafinha Alcántara, who the Medical Services have announced has gone down with a virus, although he is suspended for Wednesday night’s match, as is Dani Alves.
The first team were joined by Munir and Sandro of the reserves on a very windy morning at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper.
The team will train same place same time on the morning of the match, when the definitive squad will also be revealed. Barça need to win the game to deny PSG the coveted top spot in the group and thus ensure a theoretically easier fixture in the last sixteen, as well as the bonus of playing the second leg at home.
A highlight reel of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's best goals when he donned the blue and claret
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is coming back to Camp Nou, this time as a member of Paris Saint-Germain. We've put together a list of the five best goals scored by the Swedish forward in the 2009/10 season, when he played for FC Barcelona. Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid were just two of the teams that fell victim to Ibra's rare combination of size and speed.
Barça play on Wednesday at Camp Nou against Paris Saint-Germain
Check out the pre- and post-game highlights of their last encounter
This Wednesday, 10 December at 20.45 PM CET, Camp Nou will host one of the first big games of the season as FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain square off to determine first place in group F of the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League. It has been Just over two months since they last met at the Parc des Princes in Paris on 30 September. That match resulted in a 3-2 PSG win. Relive everything that went on behind the scenes before and after the match.
The first team was joined today by Munir of the reserves as thoughts turned to Wednesday's game with the side from the French capital
There hasn’t been much time to savour the 5-1 victory against Espanyol, for work resumed today as the first team began preparations for Wednesday’s clash at the Camp Nou with Paris Saint-Germain. First place in the group us at stake and Luis Enrique has an almost full squad to pick from, with only Dani Alves and Thomas Vermaelen unavailable. The Brazilian is suspended, while the Belgian was at the Ciutat Esportiva today to begin his recovery process.
That made for 22 first team players at the training ground, who were joined by Munir of Barça B. They have another training scheduled for the same time, 11.00 AM CET, on Tuesday, after which Luis Enrique and one of the players will be giving a press conference.
The local times and channels for watching Wednesday's Champions League match at the Camp Nou
FC Barcelona play with PSG on Wednesday in a Champions League fixture. The game is being screened in a wide variety of countries on different channels, but if it’s not being shown where you are, fear not, for you can listen to live English language commentary on Radio Barça and on the international websites. You can also receive constant updates at fcbarcelona.com, on Twitter (@fcbarcelona_com) and on the club’s usual social networks.
Wednesday 10 December 2014
Los Angeles – 11:45 AM (WST) / New York – 2:45 PM (EST)
Brazil – 5:45 PM (Brasilia)
ESPN Brasil, Esporte Interativo
South America – Buenos Aires 4:45 PM / Santiago Chile 4:45 PM / Mexico City 1:45 PM
Fox Sports Latin America
United Kingdom – 7:45 PM
Sky TV, Now TV, Sky Go Extra
France – 8:45 PM (CET)
BeiN Sports Max4
Barcelona – 8:45 PM (CET)
C+ Liga de Campeones
Arabian Countries – 10:45 PM (Mecca Time)
beIN Sports Connect Arabia
Russia – 11:45 PM (MSK)
NTV+ Football 3, NTV+ Sport Online
Thursday 11 December 2014
India – 1:15 AM (IST)
TEN Sports LIVE, Ten HD
Indonesia – 2:45 AM (WIB)
Liputan Champions, SCTV
China – 3:45 AM (CST)
Tencent Sports Video, CCTV Fengyun football
FC Barcelona: Tencent Weibo, Sina Weibo and www.fcbarcelona.cn
Japan – 4:45 AM (JST)
BS Sukapa CH 241
Australia – 6:45 AM (Sydney)
*Source: Live Soccer TV
The Barça captain reaches the appearance record previously set by the former Manchester United player
On the 16th of September 1998 Xavi Hernández made his FC Barcelona debut in the Champions League against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Curiously enough, the Barça coach at the time, Louis Van Gaal, is now in charge at the English club and his assistant is Ryan Giggs, the man who up until Tuesday held the record for the most ever appearances in Europe’s top club competition. Sixteen years after that debut in Manchester, the FC Barcelona captain reached a total of 151 matches in the European Cup, equalling the legendary United midfielder’s record.
Xavi started the game against Apoel in Nicosia on the bench but in the 62nd minutes he was given his chance, coming on to replace Ivan Rakitic. That was the moment he drew level with Giggs and now he is well placed to become the player with most appearances in the competition including qualifying rounds.
Xavi and Ryan Giggs lead the all time appearance list with 151 appearances – they are followed by Iker Casillas in third place (146), Paulo Maldini (139) and Clarence Seedorf (131). The game against Apoel means that Xavi is now the player who has made most appearances in the Champions League since the new format was introduced back in 1992. Without qualifying rounds, Xavi has played 145 matches, one more than Iker Casillas who could equal him on Wednesday evening against Basel.
After he smashed the Champions League goalscoring record on Tuesday, Leo Messi has made global headlines
Miracle, legend, and even extra-terrestrial are the kind of words the international press has used to describe his amazing achievement
These days, a month rarely goes by without Lionel Messi breaking a new record. Where he is concerned, the term ‘rewriting the history books’ is not just a cliché. It’s literally true, and the world’s media will vouch for that. After he broke the Champions League record by taking his talky up to 74 goals, we are running out of superlatives to describe somebody who is nothing less than a living legend.
No sooner had the final whistle blown in Nicosia than the Argentinian’s name was all over the international press. In one game, he had moved three goals ahead of Raul’s previous record of 71, and that was enough to make headlines all around the planet.
"It capped an extraordinary four days for Messi, who on Saturday became the top goal-scorer in La Liga's Primera Division after his hat-trick against Sevilla took him to 253 goals", writes British paper The Telegraph. "Another day, another record broken ... it was another opportunity to unleash a barrage of superlatives towards a football phenomenon” gushed CCN, while The Daily Mail points out that “Messi has been the Catalans' star man for much of the last decade, and at 27, still has many years of Champions League football in him.”
The Washington Post uses images of tweets from our own official Twitter account to illustrate its piece, proclaiming that “Lionel Messi is knocking down all-time soccer scoring records like a heavyweight boxing champ.” ESPN didn’t hold back with its words either, commenting that “Whenever Cules begin to feel that there is there is very little more that Messi can do to surprise them, the diminutive Argentinean strikes again, breaks yet another record and rises the bar even further. Having a player of his calibre come through the ranks of La Masia, then excel at a professional level for over a decade, is little short of a miracle.”
The Guardian Data Blog takes a statistical take on the story and works out that “it has taken the Argentinian player 90 appearances to reach 71 goals ... That gives Messi a terrifying 0.79 goals per game, meaning he will probably score in roughly four out of every five Champions League matches – a rate that is considerably higher than both Ronaldo’s (nearly two out of three) and Raúl’s (one out of two).”
Moving away from the Anglosphere, in Italy Gazzeta dello Sport has no doubt that "Messi’s record equates to a legend.” In France L'Express waxes lyrical about "A November with a taste of eternity,” while L'Équipe produced a curiously similar comment about how "this month of November will always have a taste of eternity for the four-time winner of the Balon d’Or”. Meanwhile, Le Fígaro asks "Can one record demerit another? If your name is Lionel Messi, it can."
German daily Die Welt believes that the new record is "too spectacular", while Der Speigel reminds us that "no other professional footballer has had such repeated success” and Frankfurter Allgemeine adds that “Messi’s 74 goals add to the term superlative.”
In Messi’s native Argentina, there was naturally euphoria at this latest achievement by a national hero. Clarín’s headline is clearer than any other, proudly announcing that "Messi has become the single highest goalscorer in the history of the European competition.” Argentine sports daily Olé explains its use of the title “Señor Record” by saying that “if you needed to find a synonym for the word ‘record’, then there’s no doubt that Messi would be the right choice. Because there are no limits to this football extra-terrestrial.”
Season 2014 - 2015iCal
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