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.
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.
Ever since he joined Barcelona from Arsenal in the Premier League over a year ago, there have been stories in the media, both English and Spanish, about Alex Song being unhappy and unsettled at his new La Liga club. And last week they surfaced again, with suggestions that the Cameroon international could be heading back to England in the January transfer window.
The reasons given are usually that he is not playing enough, and with Sergio Busquets in front of him for his favoured position, he did struggle to break into the first team under Tito Vilanova last season. But he did finish the season with 34 appearances, although many were as a sub.
When Alex Song signed for FC Barcelona last summer, the fans of his former club Arsenal were not happy at all, as they felt he was an integral player in their team, not to mention they had just sold Robin van Persie to their rivals Manchester United. The Barcelona fans, however, were fairly nonplussed, and his early performances didn’t do much to convince them that a suitable cover for the excellent Sergio Busquets had been found.
The president of FC Barcelona, Sandro Rosell, suggested last week that he would try again to persuade the Spanish international keeper Victor Valdes to change his mind about leaving the club at the end of the season. 31-year old Valdes has so far resisted any attempts to get him to accept a new contract, although he sais he is happy to see out his current deal which expires next summer.
The only way that Fabregas could have had a better game for Barcelona on Sunday was if he had scored. He had plenty of chances, but always chose to pass. This was not because Cesc was lacking in confidence or was passing the responsibility, thoigh, it was because every time he passed it was to a player in a better position to score. It was the most selfless performance I have seen in a long time.
I know that some Barcelona fans will not be all that happy about the news that Cesc Fabregas will definitely not be leaving the club this summer. Manchester United were obviously keen on the midfielder and were apparently ready to put in a third and higher offer, but the 26-year old has now made a public declaration that renders any further attempts by the Old Trafford team pointless.
Fabregas said, “It has always been my dream to play for Barcelona and that has not changed. I am very happy with life at the club.
There are still plenty of contradictory reports in the media about Cesc Fabregas and his future at FC Barcelona. According to some reports, Manchester United are still fairly confident that the Spanish midfielder will accept a move back to the Premier League and Old Trafford. The Barcelona manager and vice president have insisted that they want him to stay, but the player himself has yet to make any public announcement.