€12 million signing Claudio Bravo made an unfortunate start to his Barça career tonight when his mistake cost Barça a 1-0 defeat to Napoli in Geneva. Bravo had performed well, making one spectacular first-half save to deny Marek Hamsik, but in the 80th minute his poor kick fell to Blerim Dzemaili who fired the ball straight back from 30 yards and the Barça keeper allowed the ball to squirm through his hands for the only goal of the game. Continue reading
Xavi Hernández, Jeremy Mathieu and Patric Gabarrón have all been left out of the trip for tomorrow’s friendly in Geneva against Rafa Benitez’s Napoli as a precaution due to minor injuries. Alex Song and Ibrahim Afellay have also been left out presumably because Luis Enrique doesn’t include the pair in his plans. The remaining World Cup players, Messi, Mascherano, Dani Alves and Neymar returned from their holidays yesterday and will remain in Barcelona for specific training. The list of players travelling to Switzerland is as follows: Ter Stegen, Bravo, Masip, Montoya, Bartra, Piqué, Alba, Busquets, Iniesta, Sergi Roberto, Rakitic, Rafinha, Deulofeu, Pedro, Edgar Ié, Grimaldo, Samper, Halilovic, Adama, Munir, Bagnack, Sandro.
Barça’s second preseason friendly under Luis Enriqué ended in a 1-1 draw against OGC Nice in France tonight. Dario Cvitanich fired the French side in front with a penalty after Gerard Piqué was penalised for a push on the Argentinian striker in the 20th minute. Xavi Hernández who was so close to leaving the club this summer, equalized with another spot kick halfway through the second half after Munir El-Haddadi had been floored in the area. Continue reading
It’s not easy to understand what makes Leo Messi the player he is. He gives few interviews and when he does he gives little away. He prefers to keep his personal life to himself, and even his teammates, except for a select few, find him difficult to get to know. Guillem Balague, in his excellent biography on the Argentinian star, titled simply ‘Messi’, goes in search of the player’s roots and tries to get an idea of what it must be like to be Leo Messi. Continue reading
It has just been made official that Jeremy Mathieu will sign for Barça for the next four years. Barça will pay the €20 million asking price to Valencia for the Frenchman. This morning Mathieu travelled from Valencia to Madrid with the Valencia squad en route to South America for preseason friendlies, but once the transfer was confirmed the player has remained in Madrid and is expected to travel directly to Barcelona to complete the signing. Finally we have signed a defender though it is not the one anybody I know of wanted. Mathieu is by no means a bad player but he’s played most of his career at left back and only converted to central defence last season. He wasn’t considered good enough for the French World Cup squad (behind the younger Sakho who we didn’t want last summer) and he is now 30 years old. I really really hope I’m proved wrong but €20 million for this player seems like a big mistake and makes more evident the massive spending we have spent on other positions which were not as in need of reinforcement.
After weeks of rumours about a move to Qatar or to New York, Xavi Hernández has reportedly decided to start the season with Barça. Earlier today a story broke which claimed the negotiations for Xavi’s departure had broken down. Barça were reportedly going to pay Xavi a leaving bonus and if the local press are to be believed the final offer from Barça wasn’t what Xavi was hoping for. Luis Enrique is said to be happy for Xavi to stay and he will now return to training at the club on Thursday along with Alex Song, Ivan Rakitic and the other Spanish World Cup players. Xavi is 34 and still has two years left on his contract though depending how things go under Luis Enrique he could still look for a move in January or next summer.
A second half goal from Joan Roman earned Barça a 0-1 victory over Recreativo de Huelva tonight in Luis Enrique’s debut game in charge of the Blaugrana. The first pre-season game in preparation for the 2014/15 season proved to be far more significant for Barça B as 16 of the 23 Barça players on show tonight will start the season with Eusebio Sacristan. With the World Cup players all still on holiday the only first team players on show were Masip, Ter Stegen, Montoya, Bartra, Sergi Roberto, Afellay and Deulofeu. Continue reading
Barça’s 2014/15 season began today with medical tests for the players who were not involved in the World Cup. First team players Ter Stegen, Masip, Montoya, Bartra, Adriano, Sergi Roberto, Rafinha, Deulofeu, Afellay and Cristian Tello all reported to the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper to undergo various types of physical analysis and new coach Luis Enrique also called up Patric, Bagnack, Diagne, Grimaldo, Samper, Halilovic, Munir, Sandro, Dani Nieto, Joan Roman, Dongou and Adama from Barça B. These players will now have double training sessions from tomorrow until Friday and then on Saturday Barça play the first preseason friendly against Recreativo in Huelva. Bojan Krkic was also at the Ciutat Esportiva though he does not form part of Luis Enrique’s plans. Bojan could be on the way to Stoke City in England while Afellay and Tello are also looking at offers. The remaining World Cup players will return progressively according to when they were knocked out, starting with the Spanish players, Rakitic and Song who will all join the group on July 24.
Four years have passed but we all remember proudly how Andrés Iniesta’s extra-time goal in Johannesburg earned Barça a resounding victory over the rest of the world. Barça’s captain Carles Puyol will hand the trophy back to the organisers shortly before tomorrow’s World Cup Final at the legendary Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, but at the end of the game the prize could be back in Barça’s hands if Leo Messi and Javier Mascherano have their day. Continue reading
Luis Suarez has been confirmed today as Barça’s latest signing. The fee has not been disclosed but according to El Mundo Deportivo Barça will pay Liverpool €81 million for the player. The 27-year-old will sign a five-year contract and he will be presented next week but due to his four-month ban he will not be able to make his blaugrana debut until the end of October. Continue reading