Tag Archives: FC Barcelona

Between two Clasico’s – Simon Harris and Nic Aldam

Between the Clasico’s, Simon Harris and Nic Aldam discuss Barca’s week and a preview on Wednesday’s Clasico at Camp Nou. Listen here!


Liverpool's Kenny Dalglish defends Andy Carroll, Santos' Neymar confesses admiration for Barcelona and Lionel Messi: Morning's Top Stories — The Beautiful Game (@iWorldCup) November 20, 2011

Lionel Messi will not join Barcelona on US trip – La Liga News | FOX Sports on MSN

Lionel Messi will not join Barcelona on US trip – La Liga News | FOX Sports on MSN.

Burned out and in need of rest. There is a good chance for a slow start into the Spanish league.

The awakening of an American soccer giant – Remember the Cosmos

cosmosThe New York Cosmos put U.S. soccer on the world stage in the 1970s. For those who are old enough to remember, soccer exploded in the United States when Pele, Beckenbauer, Chinaglia and many other international superstars joined the Cosmos in New York City, stunning an American audience and the American sports world.

Since then, soccer grew into a sport played by millions of kids across the country, and U.S. teams became serious contenders in international competition in all age groups and for men and women alike, but Cosmos hasn’t had a team since 1985. The New York Cosmos is now making a comeback and on its way to becoming an expansion team in the MLS. Still infused with flair, fabulousness and the promise of greatness, the club has lost none of its international name recognition or the ability to rally masses around the world, more than any other sports team in the United States. The Cosmos Continue reading

What to learn from the Champions League Final 2011, FC Barcelona – Manchester United

The big game is over. It ended as it always does, Barca won. Looking at the international press reports on Sunday, there was no doubt about the result. Barcelona is the best team in the world, Messi, Messi, Messi, completed passes and so on. Everyone and their grandma are saying the same thing. Now what? Are we playing that competition in the next year? Or do we just ask Barca to keep the pot for a couple of years and then try again? Do we tell our soccer kids, that is how it is, they are great, the rest of us sucks and it is impossible to win against them?

Let’s take a look at this game. It is commonly acknowledged that Manchester United had the better start and actually controlled the game. They managed to look really good for 15 minutes, despite the unimportant fact that Barca had 111 completed passes and United “only” 51 after 14 minutes. The unknown reason why they went away from their style of playing in the first 15 minutes just drives me nuts. What happened? Afraid of their own courage and too much respect? Got scared when Barca had a few opportunities? Came up with the insane idea that they could play out Barca? Missing flexibility to let the other team be the dominant team? My answer is, all of that!

The way United had to play and played in the first 15 minutes is though. It costs a lot of resources and is very difficult to play for 90 minutes. However, it was the right way to approach the game and they should have continued this way. Suddenly, United fell back and started playing in their own half, giving away the ball and strengthen Barca’s game. Remember Sir Alex appearing on the sideline after 20 minutes? He saw it and he tried to straighten the game out again. The reasons above, in the second paragraph, are all reasons why the players changed their game and once Barca got the game into their hands, United wasn’t able to get it back.

Look at the first goal. United’s performance during the build up of the first goal was not more than 5th division. Lost the ball in Barca’s half and got caught completely out of position. Look at the performance of Edwin van der Sar facing the “shot” from Pedro. He speculated! He didn’t react to the shot, which was actually just a push in goal. Van der Sar, already out positioned, moved into the other corner, clearly visible to Pedro, who only had to “guide” the ball into the wide open net. We all know that Edwin van der Sar is a great goalie, arguably one of the best in the world. What the heck did he think during that moment? Answer, too much. He thought Pedro, and everything else in the Barca team, shoot like hell and if the ball hits the net, he will have to get the goal from the stands. Van der Sar’s thought in a quarter of a second, he is going to shoot, it will be hard, and I will have to jump first to have a chance. Pedro curled the ball into the other corner. A goalie like van der Sar doesn’t have to speculate, he can stop shots from everyone at any time, from any distance. The common hype, his last game and the desperate “want” to deliver a wonderful game over motivated him. Once the pressure of the game, and his own, was gone, after it was 3-1, he found his form and killed a few opportunities for Barca.

Second goal. Messi strolling towards the goal and having time to put the ball on his left foot for a though shot on goal. Not very well placed, it was almost the middle of the goal where the ball hit, shot from the top of the box with no defender even close. Van der Sar? Speculating again. After the game he stated, “Messi has a tendency to go for the long post”.

The first two goals are falling under the category “afraid of their own courage and too much respect”.

Third goal. A mistake from the beginner handbook. If you get a hold of the ball in the box, clear it with the first touch, especially when you play a team like Barca. The useless try to play around made the ball roll to Villa, on top of the box with nobody around, and he didn’t fuzz around. Great shot, no chance for van der Sar this time. The third goal is the category “insane idea to play out Barca in your own box” AND trying to beat one of Barca’s biggest strength’s, getting the ball back before the opponent finishes 3 or 4 touches, with exactly doing what they are waiting for, trying to keep the ball with short passes.

This is how cheap Manchester United lost this game. Yes, Barca had a number of other opportunities, but who has expected they won’t? They only scored after catastrophic mistakes of United. These mistakes were forced by psychological influences, not ability to play soccer. Too much thinking, allowing pressure to take over, rather than going down to the basics and just work the game and the opponent.

If you are a coach or player, this is what you can learn from this game:

  • If you play against a team that is better than yours, don’t try to play them out in your half or in your box.
  • Whatever your game is, change it for this one game. If your game is so great, then the other team wouldn’t be considered better than yours.
  • Play the ball into their half with the first touch and seek a shot on goal quickly, preferably within 10-15 seconds of winning the ball.
  • Don’t be afraid of anyone, especially not of yourself.
  • Cover the important spaces, on top of the box. Don’t bother with the opponents short pass game in midfield and how much possession they have. You need to be on top of the game around your box and when you get the ball. Remember, the other team is better than you, therefore, there is no point engaging in midfield play. Take the CL final as an example.
  • Read here for more tools for playing against the big shots and my tip for ManU on what to do against Barca.

It might be interesting to take a look at Real Madrid’s approach to win a “one game competition” against Barca. Mourinho and Real got a lot of heat for their way to play in the Copa del Rey final a few weeks back. I am sure Manchester United, and United’s supporters, would have been very happy with a 1-0 win and a not so attractive looking performance. It can be done, just step on the devils tale.

Barca’s goals in the final:

Barca’s first goal from a better ankle:

Today is the Day! How Manchester United can beat Barca.

The soccer world’s attention is focused on London’s Wembley Stadium today. Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United and Pep Guardiola’s “Dream Team” meet for the European crown in the world’s most exciting club sports event.

Experts all over the world explain their wisdom about soccer and who is taking the win in this year’s UEFA Champions League Final. Barca is considered the best soccer team in the world and is the favorite for most. However, Sir Alex is considered an “Old Fox”, even by Barca player’s, and he and his team can not be underestimated. ManU has what it takes in order to beat Barca.

How to beat Barca in a one game competition is the question of the day. Click the link and see how ManU can take this year’s crown.


How to beat Barca in a one game competition?!

On Saturday, May 28th, the biggest game in European soccer takes place in London. Barca and Manchester United meet at Wembley for the European soccer crown. Barca is considered the best soccer team in the world and the common opinion is that they are the favorite for the final.

Despite this common opinion, Manchester United has decided to show up anyway and see what happens. With good reason. United has a top team and has a winning mentality that is needed for such a game. Following the competition throughout the year, Barca’s opponents so far went into the games with the “pants full” before the game even started. Remembered is the poor performance of Arsenal at Nou Camp where the gunners were seeking their glory in defending and after the game had to blame the referee for their own mess.

Here are some basics for United and anyone else who faces the challenge to play Barca:

  • Imprison and close the British press two weeks before the game(just kidding)
  • Complete focus on the game and what’s to come and understanding you have nothing to lose.
  • No yellow cards for stupid stuff (kicking the ball away, complaining, fouls in their half or at a time when the ball is moving away from goal, taking the shirt off when you score and all the other baloney). You will need a break at one point of the game when it is necessary to commit a professional foul.
  • Cover the important areas of the field, even though nobody is in there. For example, the area 10- 15 yards on top of the box.
  • Be aware of Barca’s way of play and what is going to happen. Don’t get lured out of important positions.
  • Do not care on how long they have the ball or how many passes they complete. Out of the 700 or so they will complete, only 10 will be dangerous and you will have to wait for them and then be on top of it. Patience is key.
  • If you get the ball while defending, get it out of your half with the first contact.

Here is why you need to do all this and more:

  • Imprison the press is not possible, but the reason is obvious. They couldn’t take their own team apart before an important competition. It would be a good idea, though.
  • Complete focus, because you need to follow what happens on the field at any second. Make sure nobody is in your back and stay behind the ball. Barca can get you in a blink.
  • The yellow card thing is explained above.
  • Barca, like no other team, has the ability to move the ball around the field and is waiting for openings to occur. These openings very often come up on top of the box where they stick the ball through for someone coming out of midfield (Messi, Xavi, Busquets). Cover that area, they will come. Villa usually starts his attacks from the outside (mostly the left side, while Dani Alves does the same on the right) and is walking the defending line (the 4 defenders) and at one point they stick the ball through. Be aware and hold that line. Important for the goalie to watch out for these passes behind the defending line.
  • With passing the ball around the field, they want you to lose patience and come out of your covered areas such as above.
  • The entire world and the number crunchers are astonished about the completed passes of Barca. Keep in mind, 690 out of 700 completed passes are just used to lure you out of your position and make the other 10 dangerous. In fact, the more completed passes they need, the better your chances are to get away without a goal against you. So, once they are in position, let them pass in midfield, don’t chase the ball.
  • If you get the ball while defending, and you will at one point, get it out of your half as quick as possible, preferably with the first touch. Barca has the habit, and the ability, when they lose the ball to get it back before the opponent completes 3 or 4 passes. They are masters in putting pressure on teams that way. Other teams turn into defensive mode after losing the ball. Barca’s first move when they lose the ball is forward. The other reason why you need to play in Barca’s half as much as possible is, defense is their weakness. If they are in their own half, they are by far not as strong as they are in your half.
  • Don’t commit everyone into defending. Keep them honest. If you position yourself too deep, they will come at you with everything they have. Play with 2 strikers and put them on the two defenders Puyol and Piquet. That will cause them to take at least one midfielder further back and will cause more oversight in midfield. It will also make the dangerous short passing a little longer and give you opportunity to intercept.
  • When Barca is losing the ball, the two outside defenders, right and left back are usually up in midfield. If you clear with the first touch, clear it into these areas. That will force Puyol and Piquet to get there and get the ball back. That usually works well, because everyone is only playing with one striker and with that the Barca defense is always a man up. If you play with two strikers you can keep the ball more often in their half and you will get opportunities.

These are the basics on how you can get Barca. It requires a lot of work and awareness, but it can be done. I my opinion, it is the way to win. Everything else has been tried out and failed. Good luck, ManU!

UEFA Champions League Final: Manchester United – FC Barcelona. How the English are about to beat themselves – again.

The Champions League final hype is in full gear. Not only in England and Spain, the entire world’s view is aimed to London where Manchester United and Barca face off on Saturday. In England, the pot is about to boil over these days. As always, the British press is looking for ways to live up to their name as the biggest enemy of the English soccer teams before any important competition. This time, naturally, the target is Sir Alex’s Manchester United squad.

Without going into the details of the case again, it has been reported all over the place, the target in the team is Ryan Giggs. Read here about the details. While everyone is allowed to have an opinion about Ryan Giggs and his actions, it is stuff that should not be beaten to death in the press the way the British press does. Especially since the case doesn’t indicate any criminal act on Giggs’ side. The media outlets that have jumped on this story should be ashamed of themselves and their poor reasons and motivations for this kind of reporting. The public interest card they play is absolutely ridiculous and has no base.

For someone that is just looking to see a real exciting soccer match, “the game” that is played this week is absolutely not necessary and disappointing. The Spanish must be rolling on the floor and laughing about this form of British cannibalism.

Soccer is a game of mind and body, if your mind is somewhere else, you will have a hard time to perform on the field. Manchester United, last week, was my favorite for this final. With all the stuff boiling up this week, that view has changed. There is no way that United’s players can perform as they should, in order to win the game on Saturday.

Manchester United has everything to beat Barca in the final on Saturday. Great players, on all positions, an excellent coach that knows the details of the game, a winning mentality and a run that creates positive momentum you need to go into a game like this one. That Barca is still the favorite for the most is helping the cause as well. In a one game decision, this takes a lot of pressure away and in turn puts a lot of pressure on Barca. The longer the game goes on without a Barca goal, the better the chances for United will be. For Sir Alex and his team it is now important that they can overcome all the nonsense that the press has created and focus on the game. The advice for the British press, focus on the game as well. That’s were the public interest is. If you don’t know how to write about soccer, contact me. I will tell you about the game and what it means.

For the last time El Clasico – Barca winning marathon against Real

It is over! The El Clasico Marathon of the past 18 days is over. The winner is, FC Barcelona. While Real was able to snap the Copa del Rey from Barca, the overall winner of the marathon was Pep Guardiola’s team. Championship in the league and semi final win in the Champions League are the positive results from the last almost three weeks.

Barca is a sensational soccer team, there is no question about that. The way they play soccer is remarkable and a player such as Lionel Messi makes every soccer fan smile. The way how they move the ball through their opponents defense is just staggering and is very difficult to defend. It is also a fact that they have an awesome coach in Pep Guardiola. If at all, he is not much less magic than “The Special One” Jose Mourinho. All this is the common opinion about Barca and is available to read and watch in the press and on TV all over the world. It is a correct display of what is going on.

So, with that I hope I made it clear that I agree with the fact that Barca deserved to move on to the final in London. I say this, because I have a few other things to make clear, that are also facts and should be considered while evaluating and judging these four games.

Let’s start with a few things regarding to soccer overall. The word possession was all over the reporting. In the Copa del Rey final, Barca had completed well over 600! passes while Real ended with a number in the 160’s. Real, not Barca, won the game. This should give everyone a clear understanding on how valuable possession really is. It is no secret that you can win soccer games with much less possession than your opponent. Possession was about the same in all games, Barca had the ball, Real was defending, the over all results in game wins is tied. Each won one game and we saw two ties. Forget possession if you don’t have players like Barca has. It is a fact that you can control a game by defending. Does that look good? No, but you can do it.

Soccer, like many other ball sports, is a game of offense AND defense. Both style’s are based on one major characteristic, patience. On both sides, the players are waiting for opportunities to score or win the ball. Barca moves the ball all over the field, sometimes just with 2 or 3 yard passes, and is waiting until somewhere a defender loses patience and an opening occurs. With players like Messi, Xabi, Iniesta and all the other artists, I don’t mean that in a bad way, this is the way to go. Real, and all the other top teams in Europe, cannot keep up with Barca on that level. Therefore, they have to seek their opportunity somewhere else. Real defended well, and, they had their opportunities. To say otherwise is proof for not understanding what happens on the field or wearing a Barca hat.

If you are a coach these days and you are unfortunate and must play Barca, what are you going to do? Play them out? Not much chance. You must defend. And you must do that very well, otherwise they will score a sack full of goals. In order to win, you must wait for your chance to score. As Real clearly demonstrated, and has accomplished, the chance will come. Do you need some luck in order to have a chance? Take a guess! Would you go on the field expecting Barca will have no chance to score?

On the Real side, there is a lot of complaining about the referee’s. While for the most part it is all nonsense, I agree with some of that. For the Champions League games there were two major decisions that clearly were of disadvantage to Real. In the first leg, Pepe saw a red card for a stupid foul. It was dangerous play in an area where it was not necessary, but a red card, please. There was not even much contact. In the second leg Real scored a goal. There was nothing wrong with that goal. Disallowed for a foul by Cristiano Ronaldo who went down during a “high speed” attack and on the way down fell into Mascherano’s legs. None of the Barca players was complaining about that scene, just the referee saw a foul.

Yes, these are just two scenes over two games, but those, not Barca’s ball movement, decided the semifinal. Not sure how that would have ended in the second leg, if Real’s goal would have been allowed. There would have been some excitement, that’s for sure.

Barca is an excellent soccer team, the best in their way of play. However, they are beatable. It will happen again.

Quick Post: Eric Abidal for return after liver surgery

This is outstanding news and should brighten up the day tomorrow for Barca, Real and every soccer fan in the world.

Eric Abidal return?

The Battle of Spain – Second half. Is Real Madrid ready to change the soccer world?

After Manchester United’s win against Manuel Neuer, the champions league today goes into the second round with the much anticipated clash between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. The opponents of today’s game, however, are finding themselves in round 3 of “The Battle of Spain”. At halftime, Real Madrid has the lead.

Barca, in the next two games, can make up for the losses in the first games. The two coming games will decide who has the say in Spain. The two champions league games are of a different character and require a different approach. Game one was a league game and ended with a tie that left Barca with an 8 point lead for the championship. While the game fueled Real’s confidence bucket, the result was enough for Barca. The second game, the final for the Copa del Rey was a one game competition and in such, everything is possible. Real won, deserved, but the cup final can’t be seen as the biggest game of the year, at least not this year.
Despite all the if’s and when’s around the first two games, Real managed and accomplished a few things that might be of importance of the outcome of the two champions league games. First, after a 5 -0 loss in the league at Barcelona and hopelessly trailing Barca, they have restored their confidence. They have shown the World, we can keep up with them, and, win. Second, while boosting their own confidence, they managed to “let some air out” of the over inflated Barca boat. Unlike two weeks ago, today, not everyone is so sure that Barca is advancing into the final. Third, and that was accomplished by “the special one” Jose Mourinho, Real showed that they have options in their game. Not only with players, but in strategy and game approach. While Barca is a great team, no doubt, it appears there is only one approach the team is world class in: Move the ball around the field with incredible speed and wait for the mistakes of the defenders, to set the deadly pass and score. Real has interrupted that circle and with that, called Barca’s weakness out, there is no other approach or a plan B that can work on a high level. Real has also shown that if you give Barca’s defense something to chew on, they might lose a few teeth during the process. They have taken the game to Barca and in doing so successfully brought in the real gain in the first two games. Respect from Barca, yes, being afraid, no.
Today’s first leg will not be the decider of the two-legged semi final. Well, if one of the two can pull off a win with three goals difference it is probably over, but everything less, doesn’t matter in who’s favor, leaves the second game as the decider. Real has shown they can beat Barca, the challenge is now to do so at Camp Nou next week.

Real Madrid – FC Barcelona, Start of “The Battle of Spain”!!

Over the next 8 weeks the excitement in the European soccer leagues will reach its peak. While in all leagues the fight for championship and relegation is fierce and is promising many exciting soccer games, in Spain, the situation is extremely electric. Game plan, faith and results of the different competitions present a very unique situation: Within barely 3 weeks, the two Spanish giants Real Madrid and FC Barcelona face off 4 times in increasingly critical games.

Tomorrow, Saturday, April 16th, the two face each other for the second league clash this season. A game that is always loaded with emotions to say the least, it is waited for since months. Barca won the first game at Camp Nou 5-0 and crashed Real’s hope for champion honors in Spain. Currently, Barca has an 8 point lead and it is very unlikely that Real can make that lead up, even with a win tomorrow. Does this take anything away from the game? No way! This clash is always loaded, no matter what the standing in the league is and a win is of major importance for both of them.

This year, the game has a much more explosive background compared to other years. It is the beginning of a series of clashes between the two within a short time. On Wednesday, they face each other again, in the Spanish Copa del Rey, the Spanish FA cup. It will be the final and that alone is promising absolute dramatic, excitement, agony and joy. Who gets what, has to be seen.

Not enough with that, a week later, they face off again. This time in the Champions League semi-final. A week later, game number 4 takes place, the second leg of the semi-final, this time in Barcelona.

The Spanish have quite some problems in their Country and working hard in trying to solve their issues. Over the next 4 weeks, however, it can’t be expected that a lot of work will be accomplished. For the time of “The Battle of Spain” work will only run on the side and daily worries over the economy will have an early summer break. You can bet that the main topic in Spain is soccer, by far. The good thing, some industries will experience a rise in business volume. If you have a soccer bar in Madrid or Barcelona, or anywhere else, this is your time.

As far as the teams go, the feelings before the games are different. While Barca and its players are no less excited than the Real players and supporters, following the reporting and commentary in the press, they sit much more confident, for the moment. Listening to the reports coming from Real, one can feel a lot of respect coming out of that corner. Maybe a little too much. Considered the importance of the games and what is at stake, some statements of players sounded almost like “toilette paroles”. The last game, a 5-0 win of Barcelona in last fall, 8 points short of Barca and the common opinion that Barca is the best team in the world, doesn’t leave the “Madridistas” untouched. A statement from Real’s superstar Ronaldo, confirms this:  “We have to believe it is possible for us to beat them. We are having a good run and feel confident”. One can debate the content of this statement, an expression of strong confidence it is not.

To get ahead in these games requires incredible skills, not only of physical nature, but also, and probably more, on the mental side. Both are fit and can run for hours if necessary, but the one that has a mental “blackout”, will lose the game and give away important momentum. Tomorrows game will set the tone for the next 3 weeks. While it is considered the least important of the 4 games, the result will influence the outcome of “the overall war”. Right now, Barca has the momentum. A Real win tomorrow would bring them level. And this will be important for the coming games. A loss would increase pressure on Real and require much more effort to get back. The game tomorrow is therefore probably the most important. Game on!

Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona, or who will make it?

Following the Spanish league, like all the others, I can’t hide a certain excitement about the possible outcome. The two super clubs, Real Madrid and “Barca”, feeding the excitement week by week. It seems that major changes in the table are only possible when the two play against each other. On first sight, that doesn’t sound very interesting.

Well, it is more interesting than it seems, especially when you watch them playing. You watch one playing, and winning, then you watch how the other one is trying to catch up. This, if you have soccer in your blood, is excitement pure, at least as long as it is happening like this weekend when Real followed the Barca win with a win against Villareal. Barca is winning the game on Saturday 4:0 and Real follows with a 4:2 win a day later. If you wonder who will run out of gas first, or who will eventually win the titel, those results (just the results) could give you an indication. While Barca in the most cases delivers a clear gameflow, the flow in Real’s game isn’t that fluent. Real’s problem is clearly in defense. That is not only visible since the game in Barecelona a few weeks back, but was also visible in the Villareal match.

As of yesterday, Real has only one solid defender, Carvalho. The other solid one, Pepe, is out injured. While Sergio Ramos and Marcello do a lot for the offensive part of the game, they are weak points in defense when the going gets though. Barca clearly took the two to the cleaners and with them the entire team of Real. Problems on both positions were visible in the Villareal game again. “The special one” works hard to find solutions for the problems, however, it appears there is no solution without losing creativity in the offensive game. Marcello does very well in the forward move, coming from behind and using the creativity in Real’s midfield. If you take him off the field, you lose that strength. If you take someone else from the offensive department off the field in order to secure Marcello’s position, you lose forward power as well. For the moment, Mourinho’s best bet is to use the two “6er’s”, Khedira and Alonso and let them support the two problem cases. Until April, when the two giants meet each other again, this might just be good enough. Then,  “in the game of the games” we will see how it turns out. Let’s all hope Real can keep up with Barca, so that we have a real cracker coming up.