16th December 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
To get a sense of just how highly regarded Barcelona's midfield maestro, Andres Iniesta, is within the club, Neymar's comments provide a fascinating insight into what a special talent he undoubtedly is. "Iniesta can't be compared with anyone, he's different - he has elegance and class," gleamed the Brazilian.
"Iniesta is the best midfielder I've seen play football. To be a great player or to be legend, he doesn't need to win Ballon d'Or."
Whilst Iniesta was out through injury, it's hardly surprising that Barca missed him so badly then, for he's such a once in a generation type of player who adds so much dynamism, creativity and incision to Luis Enrique's team's play.
Since suffering a knee injury against Valencia at the Mestalla on October 22, the fact the Blaugrana won just three out of the eight matches they played without their talismanic captain illustrated his insurmountable importance. After enduring a six week
- Posted: December 16, 2016Read more »
16th December 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
- Posted: December 07, 2016Read more »
7th December 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
Though they came away with a point and prevented Real Madrid from taking a nine-point lead in the title race, with Sergio Ramos scoring a late equaliser for the away side, Barcelona can be forgiven for feeling deflated after Saturday's 1-1 draw in El ClÃ¡sico at the Camp Nou.
But, once the dust has settled and time has allowed the Blaugrana to take a wider view of events from the weekend, manager Luis Enrique will be able to take a couple of positives from the game that will serve them well for the rest of the season. Namely the return to form of Sergio Busquets and the return from injury of captain AndrÃ©s Iniesta.
Barcelona have been something of an inconsistent beast this season. The usual control they exert over opponents in the midfield area has been conspicuously missing from several performances. In their final league game before the
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9th November 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
It seems strange to consider a player's potential unrealised when they finished their career with two World Cup winners' medals, 15 Wold Cup goals, a UEFA Cup, a Cup Winners' Cup, two domestic titles and over 350 career goals.
If it was ever possible for a player who represented Barcelona, Internazionale, Real Madrid and AC Milan to have never reached the heights of their early promise, then it was Ronaldo.
The buck-toothed Brazilian superstar burst onto the scene in the mid-1990s by scoring goals and shredding defences in a manner that would have made such all-time greats as PelÃ© and Diego Maradona raise their eyebrows in disbelief.
Having moved to Europe to join PSV Eindhoven as a teenager in the summer of 1994, Ronaldo appeared to possess a combination of athleticism, speed, finesse and skill that was unlike anything the football world had ever seen. He'd come to take over.
In recognition of his burgeoning potential, C
- Posted: November 02, 2016Read more »
2nd November 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
Rafinha AlcÃ¢ntara has been outstanding for Barcelona this season. The Brazilian midfielder has recovered from a serious knee injury which kept him out for most of the last campaign to become a key player for the Blaugrana.
The 23-year-old Brazilian comes from impressive athletic stock. His father, Mazihno, was a World Cup winning midfielder with Brazil in 1994; his mother was a volleyball player of some note; and his older brother, Thiago, came through the BarÃ§a academy and now stars for Bayern Munich and the Spanish national team. He is also the cousin of Valencia's Brazil-born Spanish international forward Rodrigo.
Often compared unfavourably to his older sibling, this season Rafinha is stepping out of his brother's shadow.
Thiago was regarded as an exciting prospect when coming through the club's famous La Masia youth system, and
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10th October 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
"When Barcelona don't have the ball, they're not Barcelona. And every robbery was an automatic attack," explained a delightful Eduardo Berizzo after his Celta Vigo side had just defeated Barcelona 4-3.
In what was one of the matches of the season, Berizzo's men adhered to his tactics of pressing Barcelona high up the pitch, and the man marking scheme attached it, beautifully, which allowed them to persistently dispossess and unsettle the Catalan giants. By applying such relentless pressure to Barca whenever they looked to pass out from the back, Celta ensured Luis Enrique's men found it hugely challenging to implement their usually effective passing game.
Berizzo's strategy was executed to absolute perfection by his troops, as they successfully managed to cut the supply line to pretty much all of Barca's passing options in
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2nd September 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
Following his exertions with Turkey at Euro 2016, Arda Turan had every right to enjoy his time off ahead of the new season with Barcelona. But after a disappointing first season at the club, which was heavily interrupted by the club's transfer ban that meant he only started playing in January, the 29-year-old, with the input of Luis Enrique, choose to cut his holiday short and return to preseason training early.
By enjoying such a scintillating start to the season, Turan's been completely vindicated for his decision to sacrifice his vacation, in order to rediscover his form. He's scored an impressive three goals and supplied three assists in his three games this season, but his contribution hasn't stopped there. And this was something that was suitably illustrated in Barcelona's hard fought 1-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao at the weekend.
From his left-wing post, the stocky midfielder showcased exactly why he's such a
- Posted: August 10, 2016Read more »
10th August 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
When you hear the words "Real Madrid", a Pavlovian response is triggered in your mind, conjuring images of the famous immaculate white strip, a packed out Santiago BernabÃ©u stadium with floodlights glistening, the European Cup being proudly lofted high in celebration of yet another Continental conquering.
You also think of glamourous players, lavish spending on the latest superstars and transfer market dominance you think of GalÃ¡cticos.
Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo were the first of the headline-grabbing marquee signings of the era that became defined by the club's yearly summer transfer business in the early 2000s, and Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and James RodrÃguez are more recent examples of Los Blancos propensity to flex their financial muscles.
But even before the term GalÃ¡ctico was coined,
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5th August 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
Playing in Xavi's iconic number six jersey and in his old central midfield position, Denis Suarez certainly put in a performance that would've gained the former Barcelona legend's approval against Celtic, in Barca's 3-1 preseason friendly win.
After being purchased by Villarreal last term, Barca's decision to exercise their option to bring Suarez back for just €3.25 million was an easy one. After all, he's essentially like signing two new players, as he's capable of playing in many positions across both the attacking and midfield bands. Indeed, while his versatility makes him unique, it can also cause issues in relation to where he's most effective.
Although Luis Enrique started Suarez on the right hand side of central midfield against the Scottish champions, where he was brilliant, he then decided to deploy him as a left winger in the second half. T
- Posted: August 03, 2016Read more »
3rd August 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
FC Barcelona have undergone somewhat of shift in their transfer policy this summer, and one that hints at a further philosophical adjustment from manager Luis Enrique.
The BarÃ§a coach has chosen to operate with a relatively small squad during his two seasons in charge at the Camp Nou, and there is no debate over the fact that he has been incredibly successful: a treble of La Liga, the Champions League and the Copa del Rey marked a near-perfect debut season, and the last campaign saw BarÃ§a claim a domestic league and cup double.
Luis Enrique put his trust in a core set of incredibly talented individuals, and did very little rotating of his squad. The former AS Roma coach leaned heavily on the talents of the famous "MSN" attacking trident of Lionel Messi, Luis SuÃ¡rez and Neymar, along with the likes of AndrÃ©s Iniesta, Ivan Rakiti?, Sergio Busquets and Gerard PiquÃ©.
These are players of almost super-human footballing ability,
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27th June 2016. By Edward Stratmann.Â
For almost a year now, Gerard Pique has been a heavily derided figure by many fans of the Spanish national team, with a section of supporters dedicating themselves to incessantly booing, jeering and whistling at him. This is, of course, due to their belief that the Barcelona stopper holds anti-Real Madrid and pro-Catalan independence views.
Pique's outstanding performances against the Czech Republic and Turkey to start the tournament, with the highpoint being the dramatic late winner he scored against the Czechs, had, however, helped unite the fans and managed to stem the negative treatment directed towards him.
When speaking prior to Spain's final group game with Croatia, Pique noted how pleased he was the situation had improved, saying: "I take that very happily. It is better to be applauded than whistled. The only way to turn the situation around is my performance on the pitch.
"I had the good fortune to score