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.
The result of this two legged tie was almost settled in the favour of Barcelona in the first leg at Levante, but the Spanish champions made absolutely sure with a professional and ruthless performance at the Nou Camp last night. The weather was awful, but the team warmed the home fans up with five goals and a place in the Copa Del Rey semi-finals.
The opponents in that semi will probably be Real Sociedad and they must be wondering if they have any chance at all after Barcelona won 5-1 without Messi and made the aggregate score 9-2 against decent La Liga opponents. Messi was rested and Alexis Sanchez was given a chance to shine in the middle. He grabbed it with both hands and scored a nice brace.
Everything is starting to fall into place again for Barcelona after a tricky month or two for the Spanish champions. Unsurprisingly, the club’s struggles have coincided with the injury lay-off for the best player in the world, Lionel Messi.
So when he ran back onto the Nou Camp pitch last night with around half an hour to go, the Barca fans were delighted and the return of Messi has given the whole club a lift. Just in time as well, because this weekend sees the crunch La Liga clash with Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon stadium.
There have been rumours and speculation in the Spanish and British press all season about the Barcelona midfield star Andres Iniesta. The fact that the man who scored the winning goal in the World Cup final for Spain is yet to put pen to paper on a new contract with the Catalan club has encouraged the interest and it seems that some of Europe’s top clubs are taking an interest in the situation.
A lot of people concerned with FC Barcelona were worried about the referee for Saturdai’s El Clasico at the Nou Camp, because in the last few games he has been in charge of he has tended to favour Real Madrid. So it is not really surprising that the Bzarcelona supporting media had questioned his impartiality before the match.
As it turned out, Undiano has enraged Real Madrid fans, players and the manager Carlo Ancelotti, and the Madrid press claim he was influenced by the questions raised. Each incident has been looked at with the benefit of different camera angles and slow motion replays, and although Undiano did make mistakes, he did it for both sides. Ronaldo should have had a penalty, but so should Fabregas.
With most of the current stars, like Messi, Iniesta and Xavi, having come through the youth system at FC Barcelona, the Club has every right to be proud of the academy at La Masia, but there have been a few cases of players slipping through the fingers and then going on to star for another club. The most obvious example is Cesc Fabregas, who joined Arsenal as a 16-year old and was extremely hard to get away from the Premier League club afterwards.
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.
With Lionel Messi unable to play in the Champions League for Barcelona at Celtic last night, the young Brazilian had the chance to allay the fans’ fears that Barca are too reliant on the little Argentinean. He didn’t do that, and it was left to Cesc Fabregas to produce a fantastic headed finish to save Barcelona blushes.
Fabregas’ goals was the only one of the match, but if Celtic had enjoyed a bit more luck or found Valdes in anything but top form, the Scots would have been ahead before that. With around 80 percent possession during the match, Barca were only able to produce five efforts on target as they struggled to break down an organised Celtic team.