Barcelona need Messi back as they lose first game of La Liga season against Bilbao

Barcelona don’t usually lose too many games and in recent seasons they have gone 4 or 5 months into the season without a defeat but they opened up their La Liga campaign with a 1-0 loss against Athletic Bilbao last night.

Barca were expected to cruise as ever to a win and pick up three points and though they were the better team having a lot of attacking intent, there was always a feeling with the clock running down and the match still at 0-0 that Bilbao would get their one good chance to put this game to bed, and they did.

It happened in the 88th minute and it wasn’t just any old scrappy goal. No this was a thing of beauty and it was scored by Artiz Aduriz. That the winning goal would go to him was extra special given that he is a legend at Bilbao and he is 38 and probably playing his last season with the club. Nobody beforehand could have written the script and believed that Aduriz would be the matchwinner. For Bilbao the party went into the night and this will be a very special result for them.

Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid who are expected to challenge Barca this year for the title would have been looking on at that result- could this be one of those seasons where the football doesn’t click for Barca?

Well Lionel Messi wasn’t playing and it is fair to say that at least with his club he is THAT good that when he doesn’t play he is missed. Messi currently has a calf strain and could miss all of the games this month, which is terrible news for the current La Liga champions.

This is when new signing Antoine Griezmann is expected to step up but that didn’t happen and the club will now be focusing on returning back to the Nou Camp, the question though in everyone’s minds afterwards is is this is a one off blip or is it a sign of things to come?

As usual Barca had the more possession bringing in over 70% but at the end of the day they only had 2 shots on target, that simply isn’t good enough.

Barcelona will play Real Betis next weekend at home and that will gage for us just how strong this team will be, they usually score a few goals against them, but Betis have bought well this season including getting in Nabil Fekir who has been brilliant with Lyon for several seasons.

What is clear is that the pressure is now immediately on Barcelona not to drop any more points in the next few months, that is how consistent it can be in Spain, and they will be praying that Messi can come back sooner rather than later.

LaLiga fantasy picks for the opening weekend of the season in Spain

LaLiga returns this Friday night when Atheltic Bilbao welcome the reigning champions to San Mames.

Will anyone be able to stop Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez and co from winning Barcelona’s third successive Spanish league title?

As always, we’ve taken a look at the fixtures from a LaLiga fantasy football viewpoint to help you with your picks for the first weekend of the season.

Have a read and see if any tips stick out which might suit your fantasy LaLiga team this weekend. Continue reading

Barcelona v Arsenal: 3 things to watch

With the Premier League season a week away, and La Liga following the week after, pre-season friendlies are ramping up the intensity.

Barcelona host Arsenal in what is sure to be one of the best Joan Gamper Trophy games for years.

Normally, this is a chance for the Catalans to flex their muscles and, invariably, score a hatful, but the north Londoners certainly won’t be arriving at the Camp Nou to be the whipping boys. Continue reading

Are Barcelona in crisis?

On Friday morning, Barcelona announced that Pep Segura, the head of their footballing operation, had had his contract terminated.

The failure to progress to two successive Champions League finals when well placed seems to have been the catalyst for a change at the top.

It’s the latest in a long line of decisions that could suggest that the Catalans are in crisis, which isn’t what’s needed at the start of a new season. Continue reading

How will Barcelona use all its attacking talent this season?

Antoine Griezmann

Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele, Malcom and Philippe Coutinho.

Not a bad selection, is it?

They are the attacking players available within Barcelona’s first-team squad at the moment.

If the club had the necessary funds this summer, you could have added Neymar‘s name to that list.

Antoine Griezmann’s signing from LaLiga rivals Atletico Madrid freshens up the frontline with the Frenchman expected to make it into the starting eleven right from the off. Continue reading

Is Barcelona’s move for Neymar on the verge of collapse?

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It was a move that seemed unlikely even as recently as a few weeks ago, but the Neymar saga is destined to be the soap opera of this summer’s transfer window.

Clearly, the Brazilian wants out at Paris Saint-Germain and, if media reports are to be believed, Barcelona are the only club he wants to go to.

That the Catalans have even considered re-hiring a player who burned every bridge in the book when he left, is a surprise, but it just shows you that football as a business is a breed apart. Continue reading

Are Barcelona making a mistake by selling Cucurella?

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Having had a successful loan spell throughout the 2018/19 season, it was no surprise that Barcelona’s Marc Cucurella wanted to stay at Eibar.

The youngster had impressed, particularly in the games against the bigger sides in the Spanish top flight, and he even had the audacity to score against his parent club at the end of the campaign.

Eibar, quite rightly, exercised their purchase option on the player, a measly €2m, but Barca then utilised their buy-back clause to secure him for €4m. Continue reading

If Messi isn’t the Ballon d’Or, they should scrap it

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It’s long been contended that the Ballon d’Or has lost its shine as a worthwhile award.

Why?

Tactical voting, ridiculous PR campaigns designed to ensure certain players are front and centre around voting time despite having a poor year.

No definable metrics as to exactly how becoming the Ballon d’Or is measured. Continue reading

Barcelona’s difficult fixture list for 2019/20

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It’s fair to say that Barcelona have monopolised La Liga over the last decade, with eight league titles in 11 years since Pep Guardiola first took over.

Ernesto Valverde will be going for his third successive title but the way that the fixtures have fallen this season makes that a difficult task.

Barca travel to San Mames on the opening day, a ground where they’re unbeaten in five. However, they’ve started off some seasons slowly and that really isn’t the best place to begin 2019/20 unless each player is already firing on all cylinders. Continue reading

De Ligt pain is Todibo’s gain at Barcelona

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In the not too distant past, Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, suggested that he ‘knew’ where Matthijs De Ligt’s next playing destination would be.

The inference was that the Ajax captain would follow his former team-mate, Frenkie De Jong, to the Camp Nou.

It’s thought that a deal had been agreed between both clubs, though the meddling of the player’s agent, Mino Raiola, has ensured that De Ligt will be plying his trade elsewhere. Continue reading