Barcelona to rest stars as they push for Champions League glory

 

 

 

Lionel Messi

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde was firm in his commitment to pushing for further glory, after his side wrapped up an eighth La Liga title in the last 11 seasons.

A 1-0 win at home to Levante means the Catalan side have secured their title defence, with three league games to spare before the end of the 2018-19 season.

The former Athletic Bilbao coach will now focus his squad’s energies on completing a first treble since 2015. Continue reading

How Barcelona will beat Man Utd

Screenshot 2019-04-04 at 17.31.29

They might be favourites to win the tie over two legs, but there’s no way that Barcelona will be taking Manchester United lightly, particularly at Old Trafford.

Playing at the Camp Nou for the second leg may seem to afford the Catalans an advantage of sorts, but Ernesto Valverde and his team will want to make that a formality.

In order to do so, they’ll need to take the game to the Red Devils and quieten the expected 75,000 crowd.

But just how are they going to manage it?

Continue reading

Barcelona keen on PSG star Adrien Rabiot

Rabiot

La Liga leaders Barcelona have confirmed their interest in signing French international Adrien Rabiot from Ligue 1 side Paris Saint Germain.

The midfielder’s contract expires at the end of the 2018-19 season, and he is free to confirm terms with non French teams during the January transfer window, with a view to sealing a move in the summer.

His situation has become increasingly tense with the French giants, with widespread reports that he has been banned from the club’s dressing room on match days by the club’s hierarchy.

Continue reading

Barcelona looking for Coutinho improvement in 2019

Barcelona head into 2019 as La Liga leaders, with Ernesto Valverde chasing a second successive league title since taking over.

They lead rivals Atletico Madrid by three points, but the former Athletic Bilbao boss knows his players will have to go up a gear if they are to compete domestically and in Europe in the second half of the season.

Many of the squad are having solid, but unspectacular seasons, with the individual brilliance of Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele often making the key differences in recent weeks.

Continue reading

Barca need to up the ante in the Champions League

Screenshot 2018-11-29 at 21.24.07

When your captain and talisman is steadfast in his resolve that this will be the year that the team is going to win the Champions League, the least that’s expected from every player is 100 percent concentration, commitment and effort in every game in the competition.

It’s a given at the top level, but since Lionel Messi uttered those words at the start of the campaign, the Argentinian has been the only one following his own advice in each European match that he’s been involved in. Continue reading

Could Alena’s emergence see Suarez/Rafinha moved on?

Screenshot 2018-11-20 at 11.04.36

Having patiently waited for an opportunity to become part of the first-team squad on a regular basis at Barcelona, Carles Alena finally appears ready to emerge from the shadows.

The 20-year-old is over his injury and playing consistently well, and the recent acknowledgment by the club that they won’t send him out on loan suggests that they have big plans for a player who is coveted by other teams.

Mauricio Pochettino was recently at a Barcelona B fixture, and the rumours, though unsubstantiated, were that he had come specifically to watch Alena. Continue reading

Spain may have turned a corner under Enrique

spainscoreSpain began their UEFA Nations League campaign with an impressive 2-1 win against Gareth Southgate’s England at Wembley, indicating they may have just turned a corner since their turbulent World Cup campaign. The appointment of Luis Enrique as Julen Lopetegui’s permanent replacement was seen by many as a positive move towards getting the Spaniards back to their best after a disappointing campaign in Russia this summer. Lopetegui was sacked just days before Spain’s first game in the tournament and while stand-in Fernando Hierro deserves credit for leading the nation to the tournament in such difficult circumstances he did not seem to be the right man for the job, hence Enrique’s appointment.

Continue reading

Are Spanish giants Barcelona losing their identity?

_riverplatevfcbarc19087805_a045944d

It’s easy to say that nothing is fundamentally wrong when you are the champions of your country and this past weekend you just scored 8 goals against an opponent, but Barcelona one of the greatest teams in the history of football are losing their identity as a club.

That identity is wrapped around their academy known as La Masia and the cold harsh facts that the Catalan club have not produced a player from within that has gone on to the first team in 10 years.

Currently there are just five players that make up the entire Barcelona A squad that came from the academy, they are; Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, Sergio Roberto, Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique. At the beginning of the year that figure was six but Andres Iniesta has since moved on to pastures new playing in the Chinese league.

So why are Barcelona not producing more players from the academy level? One theory is written within the clubs recent successes. So good has it been that top European clubs have no longer wanted to raid the A team but go after the youth before they make the step up to play at the hallowed turf that is Nou Camp. So teams are coming in for the young players, tempting them with more wages and better contracts. To counter this Barcelona at the start of this year increased youth team wages by a whopping 160%. It remains to be seen if this will have a lasting effect.

But that is just one opinion, the other could be that the club are failing in their academy system because they have indeed lost their identity and have just become another big spending European heavyweight. And of course there is evidence to back this up. In the last 4 seasons despite selling players such as Neymar for almost £200m they still spent almost £700m. Now if you are spending that type of money why would you even look at players that are in the academy?

Sergio Busquets remains the last home grown player that Barcelona have developed at the academy and he made his debut 10 years ago, and youth players continue to be lured by other clubs because they see a lack of opportunity.

A worrying trend has seen quality players leave the club, no matter how big Barcelona are they are wising up to the fact that they are not wanted. Take Sergio Gomez who was voted the 2nd best player at the U17 World Cup last year, he now plays for Borussia Dortmund. And then there is Pablo Moreno who scored 200 goals in five years at the academy, where is he now? Playing for Juventus.

Whilst splashing out millions of euros on todays superstars is a problem, the root seems to stem from the managerial side of things. The last two coaches of Barcelona Luis Enrique and Ernesto Valverde did not come from the academy and so do not have a connection to it. Plus La Masia is in effect no more, the players now train elsewhere so a special relationship has stopped, and in today’s football world it wouldn’t be a surprise if it never came back.

 

 

 

Replacing Iniesta will be Valverde’s biggest challenge at Barcelona

Andres Iniesta

Replacing a club legend is never an easy task, and managers are often define, or destroyed, in their ability to do so.

On Friday morning, club captain Andres Iniesta announced that this will be his last season at the club, in front of a packed media conference.

Whilst the decision to call time on his career at the club has been rumoured for months, the formal confirmation has presented a question – how do you replace Andres Iniesta?

The Spanish international added that he will not move to another La Liga side, or to a European club, as he does not want to come up against his boyhood club

Continue reading

World Cup 2018 – Spain confidence bodes well

Spain2018WC

Continuing our series of looking ahead at some of the favourites for this year’s World Cup in Russia, it is now Spain’s turn to fall under the microscope. Having arguably fallen victim of the world ranking system to fall into Pot 2 of the World Cup, the Spaniards will still have confidence they can advance beyond the group stages and commence a campaign to win a second World Cup in three tournaments.

Spain find themselves in Group B in Russia, alongside Morocco, Iran and European champions Portugal. It could be argued, then, that Spain being in Pot 2 may not have had as much impact as it possibly could have done. Despite Portugal having won Euro 2016, Spain will feel they can get the job done and top this group, or at the very least aim for a runner-up spot. Continue reading