FC Barcelona will be expecting to have to beat Real Sociedad today to retain their place at the top of La Liga, because Real Madrid have the much easier task of a home game against Elche. Barcelona can expect a tough away match, with the Sociedad manager, players and fans seeking revenge for what they see as a very unfair game at the Nou Camp recently.
Archive for the ‘champions league news’
Barcelona have got one foot in the quarter-finals of the Champions League after an exciting and hard fought game away to Manchester City ended in a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Lionel Messi and Dani Alves. But the night was spoiled somewhat by the City manager claiming that the referee was biased and had basically gifted the game to Barcelona.
It might surprise you to know that Barcelona have actually got a pretty poor record for this stage of the Champions League. It is not that bad, of course, because we have not failed to reach the semi-final stage since 2007 and have won the competition twice in that time. But in four of the last five years, Barcelona have failed to win their away leg at the last 16 phase.
There is no doubt that Barcelona were not particularly happy about getting Manchester City in the draw for the knockout stages of the Champions League, with only Arsenal a possible tougher test because of their experience in the competition.
And not too long ago it was looking worrying for the Spanish champions, as their form dipped while Manuel Pellegrini had City blasting teams off the pitch every week. But our fortunes have reversed a little. City suffered two games in a row where they failed to score, but they did come back with a good FA cup win over Chelsea on Saturday.
There have been concerns raised in Spain about the form of Barcelona and Lionel Messi. As usual, the two are closely linked, even perhaps intrinsically linked, especially with new Brazilian star Neymar currently unavailable with his own injury problem.
People have pointed to the fact that Messi has not been playing quite the same role as usual, often dropping deeper and not making his trademark bursts into the penalty area. His goalscoring has certainly not been what we expect since he returned from a two month lay-off with a hamstring problem.
Barcelona traveled to play Getafe in the second leg of the Copa Del Rey clash last night and Tata Martino could have been forgiven for sending out a team of youngsters and fringe players as they were already ahead 4-0 from the first leg at the Nou Camp.
At the end of the game, which Barca won comfortably 2-0, the manager may have wished that he had. Halfway through the first half, the Brazilian superstar Neymar, just back from a spell on the sidelines with illness, went over on his right ankle and slow motion replays did not look good.
The Barcelona manager can pretty much do whatever he wants tonight. With Cartagena coming to the Nou Camp for the second leg of the cup clash already 4-1 behind from the first leg, Tata Martino has the luxury of resting players, but it is the players who will play that are making the news.
It seems as if club captain Carles Puyol and first choice right back Dani Alves will both make their comebacks from injury tonight. Hopefully they will both gain the match sharpness they need to be considered for the more important La Liga games to come.
A lot can happen between now and February, but everyone concerned with FC Barcelona must be pretty glad that the next phase of the Champions League is a couple of months away, after drawing arguably the toughest side in the draw for the knockout stage.
Manchester City have just beaten Bayern Munich in the Allianz arena and followed it up with a 6-3 victory over the Premier League leaders Arsenal. I would probably say that Arsenal, because of their form this season and their experience in Europe, would have been the worst team to draw, but City’s mega rich owners have assembled a squad of superstars, including former Barca man Yaya Toure, who we should never have let go.