Despite being the most successful team at the European level in recent history, having qualified for six consecutive semi-finals and lifted the title three times in the last seven years, football experts around the world seem to agree that Barcelona are not favourites to beat Bayern Munich and qualify for the final round of the competition.
Barca ‘keeper shortage’ as too many are sent off
Barcelona could begin Saturday’s home game against Deportivo La Coruna with their fifth-choice goalkeeper on the bench after both Victor Valdes and Barca B’s Oier Olazabal were sent off at the weekend.
Valdes, 31, saw red for confronting and insulting referee Miguel Angel Perez Lasa at the final whistle of the 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid at the Bernabeu after the official had denied Barca a late penalty when Sergio Ramos appeared to bring down Alexis Sanchez.
Oier, 23, was dismissed on the same afternoon for a professional foul during Barca B’s 3-3 La Segunda draw at Las Palmas.
Experienced senior back-up goalkeeper Jose Pinto, 37, who regularly plays in Copa del Rey games, is likely to start against Depor.
But with Oier suspended and the next in line Jordi Masip, 24, having missed the trip to Las Palmas with a knee injury, 19-year-old fifth choice Miguel Banuz could be on the bench.
Joseph Fabrice Ondoa, 17, who came to Barca via Samuel Eto’o's foundation in 2009 and has already been called up to the Cameroon senior international squad, is another potential option.
Valdes, who was Barca captain on Saturday in the absence of Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol, faces a suspension of between two and five games.
The length of his ban could hinge on the official interpretation of the actual words used, with Spanish media reports claiming he told Perez Lasa he had ‘”screwed up” and “should be ashamed” of himself.
Ramos was given a five-game ban in January after accusing referee Miguel Angel Ayza Gomez of being a “shameless scoundrel” after being shown a red card during a 4-0 Copa del Rey win over Celta Vigo.
Some in the Catalan press have claimed Valdes should get a lesser ban because his offence was not as bad. The Spanish competition committee will announce a decision later in the week, with Barca having the right to appeal.
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“The truth is Guardiola did pull off an astonishing feat at Barcelona. He achieved what every coach at every level knows to be the true measure of success: he extracted the very best from what he had and, almost beyond imagination, he made his players even better. Lucky Bayern. He’ll do it again.”
John Carlin writes for El País. He is working on a feature film documentary about FC Barcelona
Bayern Munich confirm Pep Guardiola will become manager of the Bundesliga side in July on a three-year contract.
Current Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes will remain in his post until the end of this season.
Barcelona Coach Pep Guardiola Quits European Soccer
2012-04-27 12:49:24.88 GMT
from Arsenal coach in 12th, 13th paragraphs.)
By Alex Duff
(Bloomberg) — Pep Guardiola, the most successful Barcelona coach ever, will
quit the Spanish soccer club after losses in the last week ended its chance to
defend its league and European titles.
41-year-old announced his resignation today at a press conference. Assistant
coach Tito Vilanova will take over, club president Sandro Rosell said.
years, everyone gets tired,” Guardiola said.
“You can only recover by getting away and resting.”
at home to Real Madrid April 21 to fall seven points behind Real with four
games remaining in the Spanish season. Barcelona was eliminated by Chelsea in
the Champions League semifinals three days later.
overseen two Champions League titles — more than any other Barcelona coach –
and three Spanish titles since replacing Frank Rijkaard in 2008. Johan Cruijff
and Rijkaard are the other coaches to have led Barcelona to elite European
titles, in 1992 and 2006.
he would take a break from soccer.
probably return, but not now,” he said.
been coach of the Barcelona reserve team.
Former president Joan Laporta promoted him to lead the
first team after a single season because of his knowledge of the team’s style.
Barcelona as a midfielder, playing 379 times for the team between 1990 and
2001. The period included winning the 1992 European Cup.
In his first
season as coach, Barcelona won each of the six competitions it took part in
including Spain’s La Liga and Copa del Rey, the world club championship and the
he told club executives in February that he was nearing the end of his stint as
coach. He had a rolling contract that expired at the end of the season, and the
former Barcelona player turned down Rosell’s offer of an extension.
1-0 to Chelsea and then was held to a 2-2 draw April 24th at the Camp Nou to
lose 3-2 to the London team in the two-match semifinal.
make a decision based upon one result,” the coach said. “My head had already
decided that this was my last season.”
style under Guardiola has focused on accurate passing and ball control, giving
the team 60 to 70 percent of possession in most matches. Arsenal coach Arsene
Wenger said he was disappointed that the Spaniard was quitting because he
appreciated the squad’s fluid style of play.
one of the representatives of this philosophy and made this philosophy triumph
so I would have loved him, even going through a disappointing year, to stay and
come back and insist with his philosophy,” the Frenchman said.
“That would be interesting.”
Guardiola’s assistant for the last several years. He returned to the training
ground last year 15 days after an operation on a parotid gland. He trained with
Guardiola in Barcelona’s youth squad, but never played in a league match for
the club. The former midfielder played for Celta Vigo in Spain’s top league.
Because he represents everything that this club represents,” Barcelona sports
director Andoni Zubizarreta.
“The style of play, the analysis, everything. He puts in
hours until he goes to sleep to prepare things. We need somebody like that.”
For Related News and Information:
Barcelona news: NI BARCELONA <GO>
Top international sports stories: ISPO <GO>
Mess walked off the pitch in tears, shaking his head in disbelief. He wasn’t the only one.
Chelsea pulled off one of the unlikeliest comebacks in Champions League history on Tuesday, despite going a man and two goals down in the first half, earning a 2-2 draw against Barcelona. That sent the London club into the final 3-2 on aggregate and eliminated the defending champion.
Chelsea withstood a never-ending onslaught from the Spanish powerhouse and finished a few when rare opportunities finally presented themselves.
“It’s a historical night for the club. I believe we deserve to be in the final,” said Chelsea’s interim manager Roberto Di Matteo, whose team will face either Bayern Munich or Real Madrid in the May 19 final at Munich’s Allianz Arena. “We had a difficult season, but we seem to always get something special out when we need to. That’s part of the DNA of these players.”
For Barcelona, the result could mark the end of one of the most successful spells in club soccer. The team was looking for a third Champions League title in four seasons, and this loss came right on the heels of a 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid that all but ended its hopes of a fourth straight league crown.
Despite coming into the second leg with a 1-0 lead, Chelsea’s hopes looked all but over after going down 2-0 and having captain John Terry sent off for a needless foul in the first half.
It was Ramires’ stunning lob right before halftime gave the advantage back to Chelsea on away goals, and Barca never found a way to recover after the break. After Messi blasted a penalty kick against the crossbar and hit the post with another shot, substitute Frenando Torres scored in injury time to tie the match and make it 3-2 on aggregate and ensure that Chelsea advanced.
We knew this is how we had to play against Barcelona, even if sometimes it’s not so attractive. We used our strengths well and it worked for us in both games.
”– Fernando Torres
For Chelsea, this was the crowning achievement in a remarkable and improbable turnaround led by di Matteo, who has also guided the team into the FA Cup final after manager Andre Villas-Boas was fired in March.
Chelsea won the first leg 1-0 at Stamford Bridge last week after Didier Drogba scored with the hosts’ only shot on target amid a series of wasted chances by Barcelona.
It is Chelsea’s first Champions League final since losing to Manchester United in a penalty kicks shootout in 2008, and gives owner Roman Abramovich another chance to finally capture the elusive title in Europe’s premier club competition.
Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta put Barcelona up 2-0 by the 44th minute as the Spanish club again dominated possession from the start — owning 73 percent for the game. In between those goals, Terry was given a straight red card for putting his knee into the back of Alexis Sanchez, making a Chelsea rally look even more unlikely.
“I feel as I let them down, I’ve apologized to them,” said Terry, who will be suspended from the final alongside another three Chelsea players. “Looking at the replay, it does look like a red card.”
But just like at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea was very opportunistic once it created a rare counterattack.
“With 2-0 at halftime we would have believed we could get it, but this 2-1 was a little bit psychologically bad for us,” said Guardiola, whose team also lost Gerard Pique in the first half to a concussion. “The penalty we didn’t score and they got stronger.”
Barcelona’s inability to convert its possession advantage into goals was symbolized by Messi’s rare miss from the penalty spot in the 49th; the Argentina winger is scoreless in seven meetings with Chelsea. Barcelona hasn’t been able to beat Chelsea in the last seven meetings, either.
Three-time FIFA player of the year Messi, who has 63 goals this season, hasn’t scored in his last three games.
Torres, who has struggled all season, was sent clear in injury time, went around Valdes to put the ball into an empty net for his eighth goal in 11 games against Barcelona.
“We knew this is how we had to play against Barcelona, even if sometimes it’s not so attractive,” said Torres, who replaced Drogba with 10 minutes left. “We used our strengths well and it worked for us in both games. They had their chances but they didn’t finish and Ramires’ goal gave us life.”
By Dan Baynes
(Bloomberg) — Lionel Messi broke Barcelona’s all- time scoring record by
getting the second and third goals in his team’s match against Granada in
Spain’s La Liga today.
Messi, who was
named soccer’s best player for the third straight year in January, tied the
mark of 232 official goals set by Cesar Rodriguez during the 1940s and 50s in
the 17th minute and secured the record outright in the 68th minute when he
lobbed the ball over Granada goalkeeper Julio Cesar.