Barcelona

  1. Andrés Iniesta: The silent leader and all-time great

    iniesta24th June 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
    He's not a shouter; he doesn't scream at his colleagues like Roy Keane used to. He's not a gesticulator; he doesn't point and orchestrate his team's positioning as the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger and John Terry do. But Andrés Iniesta is a leader.

    That might come across as an obvious statement, considering that Iniesta is captain of FC Barcelona, one of the biggest clubs in the world. But the 32-year-old midfielder's leadership style is less than obvious it is subtle, yet ever-present.

    It would be an over-simplification to suggest that Iniesta merely leads by example, his influence on those around him stretches far beyond monkey-see-monkey-do. The Barça midfielder carries an aura which demands deference; he might as well be wearing his vast collection of medals around his neck every time he walks out onto the pitch.

    Yet he's unassuming shy, even. He doesn't bang his own drum loudly; he doesn't need to.

    The first sig

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  2. Dani Alves a Pioneer of Right Side Defensive Football

    15th June 2016. By Ryan Baldi.
    Brazilian full-back Dani Alves will leave FC Barcelona this summer to join Juventus. After eight years at the Camp Nou, Alves will depart with the respect and appreciation of Barça fans. But do they, and indeed the wider footballing audience, really appreciate Alves for what he truly is, and has been? Alves should be recognised as the greatest full-back of the last two decades.

    The 2003 FIFA under-20 World Cup was held in the United Arab Emirates during winter. While England with a side that included James Milner, Steven Taylor and Michael Chopra -- finished bottom of their group without scoring a single goal, many of the established football nations fielded strong squads, packed with potential future stars.

    Andrés Iniesta turned out for Spain, along with future Atlético Madrid stars Juanfran and Gabi. There was River Plate striker Fernando Cavenaghi top-scoring for Argentina, with Javier Mascherano anchoring the midfield. Rober

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  3. FC Barcelona: Imploding or Making a Comeback?

    6th May 2016.
    It's been a long and bizarre season at Camp Nou. What started off looking as a sure-footed march toward a second consecutive treble has ended up an inconsistent season where there's a non-zero chance that Barca won't win a single title. Yet, even with just two games left on the schedule before the end of the 2015/16 La Liga campaign, the Catalan football club remain formidable opponents and legitimate title contenders. A team that just a few weeks ago seemed to be imploding is making a show of their big comeback. They've become the underdogs in their own frontrunner story.

    A Brief Look Back

    To understand the weird array of contradictions that has defined Barcelona's 2015/16 season, we need to look back at the very start of it. Barca surged into the season as the clear frontrunners for both the Champions League and the La Liga. They'd played one of the best seasons on record in 2014/15, clinching

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  4. Surprises Abound in Champions League Quarterfinal and Semifinal Draw

    19th April 2016.
    Not too long ago, we were speculating about Barcelona winning a second treble in a row, or about Paris Saint Germain taking what they've done in France the last few years and translating it into their first-ever Champions League win. Both of those narratives were dashed against the rocks in the quarterfinal rounds, where Barcelona crashed out of the 2015/16 Champions League in jarring fashion and where PSG fell in an upset to Manchester City.

    Now, with just four teams and two rounds remaining in the competition, the stakes have been ramped up another few notches. What happened for the UCL's once-guaranteed frontrunners, and what's next for Europe's most prestigious club football tournament? Read on to find out.

    Barcelona's Downfall

    Heading into the quarterfinals, FC Barcelona seemed like the safest of bets to charge right on through to the semis. After all, Barca have advanced to the semifinals

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  5. La Liga vs Premier League: Which Heavyweight Football Division is Stronger?

    2nd April 2016.
    Luis Suarez has enjoyed nothing but success since making the move from Liverpool to Barcelona ahead of the 2014/15 season. In his first campaign with Barca, Suarez won the treble and was a finalist for UEFA's Best Player in Europe Award. He also got to play alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar in what many have called one of the best front threes in football history. This season, meanwhile, the Uruguayan striker is duking it out with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo to be the La Liga's top scorer-all while hoping for a second treble in a row for Barcelona.

    With all of this success, it would be easy for Suarez to call his time in the Spanish La Liga the highlight of his career. Yet, in

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  6. A Preview of the Champions League

    22nd March 2016
    On March 18th, the UEFA officially announced the draw for the Champions League quarterfinal round. For the most part, the matchups for the next round of Europe's most prestigious soccer tournament look to have clear favorites. However, as we saw from the semifinals-where Bayern Munich of all teams had to win their second leg match in extra time-there is no such thing as a sure thing in this ultra-competitive tournament.

    The lineup for the quarterfinals shows beyond a doubt that the La Liga is the strongest league in European football right now. The Spanish top-flight accounts for three of the eight quarterfinal spots, with FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid all earning spots. Two Bundesliga teams are also in the mix (Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg), while England, France, and Portugal grabbed one slot apiece (for Manchester City, Paris

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  7. Why Does the Bundesliga Have the Top Stadium Attendance in Europe?

    In terms of UEFA coefficient rankings (and judging by the last few Champions League and Europa League tournaments), the Spanish La Liga is the best football league in Europe. The English Premier League, meanwhile, is incredibly wealthy and is consistently cited as the most fiercely competitive division in all of soccer. While these two leagues boast plenty of virtues, though, there is one key superlative they do not have: the top stadium attendance in Europe.

    Germany's Impressive Numbers

    Indeed, on February 25th, the German Bundesliga announced its spectator figures for the first half of the 2015/16 campaign. According to the report, a grand total of 6,478,680 soccer fans came out to see the 153 Bundesliga games that took place between August and December 2015. That number figures out to a per-match average of 42,344 spectators-not only the highest tally of any league in Europe but also the highest of any football

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  8. Pep Guardiola Versus Luis Enrique: The Battle for the Best Active Manager

    Who is the best active manager in football? A year or two ago, the likes of Jose Mourinho, Louis van Gaal, Jurgen Klopp, and Carlo Ancelotti all would have likely made the shortlist. Now, though, Mourinho has been sacked from Chelsea, Louis van Gaal has failed to create another dynasty at Manchester United, Jurgen Klopp resigned from Borussia Dortmund following a disappointing 2014/15 season (and has been arguably underwhelming at Liverpool), and Carlo Ancelotti was sacked from the Real Madrid job after failing to win a title during the 2014/15 campaign.

    All of those coaches still have claims to greatness-particularly Ancelotti, whose sacking was arguably unjust and who will have another chance to prove his pedigree when he takes over at Bayern Munich this summer. Until then, though, it's probably fair to cut the battle for the best active manager title down to two prime contenders: current Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola and FC Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique.

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  9. Barcelona MSN Versus Real Madrid BBC

    There aren't many soccer squads in history-let alone right now, this season-that can stand shoulder to shoulder with FC Barcelona's unbreakable front three. The football club struck gold last season when Luis Enrique put Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez on the field together. Despite early reports that Enrique and Messi were having spats in practice, Enrique managed to teach his three stars how to play off one another to be better together than they could ever be separately. And considering just how good Messi, Neymar, and Suarez are separately, that statement is quite a feat.

    Remarkably, if there is one offensive lineup in the world that can challenge Barca's Messi-Suarez-Neymar triage, that trio is also playing in the Spanish La Liga right now. Real Madrid have a dynamic trio of their own: Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, and Cristiano Ronaldo, all as capable of orchestrating incredible football feats as their Barcelona counterparts. The question is this: can

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  10. Could the Premier League Lose Its Fourth Champions League Spot?

    Right now, Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, and arguably even West Ham United are all battling to clinch one of the English Premier League's top four spots. As in previous years, the top four clubs in the division this season will qualify for the Champions League-with the top three earning entry into the group stage and the fourth-place club heading into the final play-off round.

    The race for these four slots is even more intense this year, given the fact that last year's EPL champion-Chelsea FC-has very little chance of qualifying for the Champions League. As such, clubs that haven't traditionally qualified for Europe's most prestigious tournament in the past-Leicester, Tottenham, and West Ham are getting ever close to breaking the cycle in 2016.

    But what if England didn't get four spots in the Champions League? Recent rumors have suggested that the Premier League could, at some point in the not-too-distant future, be

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