Real Madrid vs Barcelona :Copa del Rey | Key Players and Prediction

Real Madrid vs Barcelona :Copa del Rey | Key Players and Prediction

European champions Real Madrid welcome La Liga leaders Barcelona to the Santiago Bernabeu for the second leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal on Wednesday night. 


The two iconic rivals played out a fascinating 1-1 draw in the first leg, at Camp Nou, and will do everything in their power to better that outcome, tonight, in the Spanish capital. 

Real Madrid, due to their inconsistent patches this season, came into the tie as the underdogs. However, at Camp Nou, we saw a totally different Real Madrid in action. They were creating chances, defending religiously, and managed to outplay Barcelona in their own backyard. Lucas Vazquez drew first blood in the 6th minute to set the tempo, which Real Madrid maintained until the final whistle. Barcelona, thanks to a common Marcelo mistake, still got themselves back into the contest through Malcom’s firm strike in the second half. 

So, the 1-1 scoreline does seem like a decent one from Real Madrid’s perspective as they need a goalless draw or better to secure their place in the Copa del Rey final — their first since the 2013/14 campaign. However, considering how great Barcelona have been at the Santiago Bernabeu — without defeat at the Bernabeu since October 2014 — lately, the narrow margin hardly provides any protection. 

Key Players

Barcelona

Lionel Messi

This one is pretty much a no-brainer. The best player in La Liga and possibly the world, Lionel Messi needs to have a spotless game to help his side make it to the finals. Last weekend, the Argentine shrugged off injury concerns to score a decisive hat-trick in a 4-2 win at Sevilla. Tonight, he will once again be marked heavily and will have to put in a shift. But knowing just how capable the Barcelona skipper is, there is no reason for fans to be anxious. Lionel Messi has registered a whopping 33 goals and 18 assists in 32 appearances across all competitions this season and will fancy himself to add to his tally, tonight. 

Real Madrid

Gareth Bale

Following Cristiano Ronaldo‘s departure, the Welshman was supposed to emerge as Real Madrid’s most important, decisive player. Sadly, things haven’t been quite straightforward for the former Tottenham Hotspur ace. During his absence, Vinicius Junior made his way into the team and has managed to make himself an indispensable member of Santiago Solari’s squad. Having lost his place to an 18-year-old, the most expensive player in the squad has been acting out, landing the team in a complicated situation. The Welsh wizard is desperate for an opportunity to win his place back, and an emphatic performance against Real’s fiercest rivals could go a long way in helping his cause. 

Probable XI

Real Madrid (4-3-3): Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Vazquez, Benzema, Vinicius

https://twitter.com/SergioRamosismo/status/1100417706308919296

Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Vidal; Messi, Suarez, Dembele

Prediction

El Clasico is one of the most decorated and intense rivalries in the world. These two iconic sides have played out some fascinating fixtures over the years, and we expect nothing less tonight. Barcelona seem to be the more in-form team right now, but a desperate Real Madrid will not be an easy team to beat.

We predict Real Madrid to beat Barcelona on penalties.

Also Read: Rivalry beyond years

Messi and Pele, two generations united by an image

Messi and Pele, two generations united by an image

The Argentine star footballer, Lionel Messi repeats the same iconic gestures of the Brazilian legend 49 years later on Saturday. 


It happened on June 21, 1970, at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico. One of the most spectacular World Cup finals of all time was played, in which Brazil beat Italy by four goals to one. Pele, the legendary Brazilian football player, gave the most remembered image of that World Cup, when he celebrated the victory climbing on his teammate Jairzinho, raising his right fist to the sky, with a smile of indescribable satisfaction as he put his other arm around the neck of number 7 Brazilian. It is a photograph that is seen a thousand times.

Against Seville, in the victory of Barcelona 2-4, as if he wanted to repeat the image, Leo Messi was the protagonist of a practically traced photograph. Almost 50 years later, the Argentine star celebrated one of his goals climbing on Dembele and repeating all gestures: right fist to heaven, left arm around the neck of his partner, smile of euphoria to the wind. Only the dorsal of the crack support changes. If in Mexico it was 7 of Jairzinho, this time it was 11 of Dembele.

The similarity of the two photographs is surprising and the football quality of the two main characters still gives more prominence to the comparison. Pele was, at that time, the best footballer on the planet. Leo Messi is now without discussion. He showed it again in Seville. Although the two games cannot be compared by importance, the commitment, happiness, and euphoria of two of the greatest players of all time is exactly the same. In Mexico in 1970, in the Spanish League in 2019, the picture is quite really same.

The exhibition of Messi was the best news of the Barca in the Pizjuan. But also the worst, as if not for the Argentine, yesterday the Catalan club would have lost the game. Messi is the best and decides the meetings, it is normal, but another thing is an excessive dependence and have to win it alone, the way it happened on Saturday. On an optimistic note, the outburst of Messi should be a turning point for the team, after a few games of gray and before a big week in which they can sentence the Champions League and qualify for the Cup final.

Messi pulled the car too much alone and now the rest of the players must join before it’s too late. With a crack at this level, if the team recovers the tone, they are in time to make history this season. From Saturday duel, we also have to highlight, on a positive level, Valverde’s reading of the game and the changes in the break. And also the quality minutes of Alena who deserves to be a starter in the big match.

Also Read: The unknown facts about Messi

Lionel Messi Bags 50th Career Hat-Trick in 4-2 Win over Sevilla

Lionel Messi Bags 50th Career Hat-Trick in 4-2 Win over Sevilla

Barcelona skipper, Lionel Messi, netted his 50th career hat-trick to help his side register a comeback win at Sevilla in La Liga on Saturday afternoon. 


Saturday’s treble against Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium saw him net his 44th hattrick for the Catalan outfit, with 32 of them coming in La Liga itself, landing him just two behind record-holder former Real Madrid man, Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Earlier in the 2018/19 campaign, the Argentine genius scored his 8th hat-trick in the Champions League in an emphatic 4-0 win against PSV Eindhoven at Camp Nou. The treble against the Dutch league leaders made him the most prolific hat-trick getter in Europe, beating former record-holder Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Last night, against Sevilla, Lionel Messi, once again, proved his potency in front of goal to help his side bag all three points. The hosts started the game on the front foot and deservedly took the lead capitalizing on a rare misplaced pass from Lionel Messi. Four minutes after Sevilla’s devastating counter, Lionel Messi restored parity from the edge of the area, dispatching an unstoppable volley. 

Just before the half time whistle, Sevilla restored their advantage, thanks to Barcelona’s sloppiness at the back. Once again, Lionel Messi stepped up to the plate and evaporated the Andalusian side’s one-goal cushion. He picked the ball on the edge of the area, capitalized on Sevilla’s lackluster marking, and curled his right-footed effort past Sevilla stopper, Tomas Vaclik. 

His third of the night demonstrated his steely composure in front of goal. The Argentinian waited patiently right until the end to chip the ball over the oncoming and helpless Sevilla goalkeeper to top off his treble. And as if his superb hat-trick wasn’t bad enough, the 31-year-old took it upon himself to assist Luis Suarez for Barcelona’s fourth goal. 

Following the emphatic 4-2 win at Sevilla, which saw Barcelona open up a 10-point lead at the top of La Liga table, Barcelona coach, Ernesto Valverde, discussed the brilliance of his skipper. 

Lionel not only scored three goals, but you have to see where, when and how he gets them,” said Valverde, as quoted by AS

“We have a decisive and superlative player. All teams have decisive players but we have the best in the world. Not only for his goals, but because he [always] appears in the right place at the right time.”

Messi himself was pleased with the victory and reiterated his intention of finishing this season strongly and bagging all three trophies on offer. 

There is still a long way to go in the title race, but it was important to win here to keep the gap as it is,” he said on BeIN Sports afterwards, as quoted by Marca.

“We have some more tough fixtures ahead. It gets harder and harder to win. We’re not dismissing any of the tournaments. We’re one step away from reaching a Copa del Rey final, but we have a very tough match as we take on Real Madrid in their stadium.”

“But we’ll go there to try to win and we are confident that we can do that. Then we’ll think about the league again. We’re going to try to win it all,” he concluded. 

Also Read: Messi becomes first player to score 400 La Liga goals

El Clasico: A rivalry that goes far beyond football

El Clasico: A rivalry that goes far beyond football

If there is a football event that immobilizes the world of sports, it is the El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona, monopolizing the attention of more than 650 million viewers worldwide, proving that it is much more than just a football game. 


When German striker Udo Steinberg scored the first two goals of Barcelona’s 3-1 victory over Real Madrid on May 13, 1902, at the Hipodromo Stadium in Madrid he did not know he was writing the first chapter of one of the biggest rivalries in world football. The game with 2 thousand fans was for the semi-finals of the Coronation Cup (predecessor of the Copa Del Rey of Spain). More than a century later, Barcelona and Real Madrid, who face each other on Thursday at the same tournament, monopolize the attention of football fans. Spain is divided in front of this classic and nobody is indifferent.

The story begins

Image Credit: Archivo de El Nacional

Barcelona was born first, on the initiative of the Swiss athlete Joan Gamper, who arrived on Spanish soil for professional reasons. Months later, Gamper put an ad in a sports magazine to invite all the foreign legion of the city, to be part of a new project. The plan on November 29th, 1899 was baptized with the name of Futbol Club Barcelona.

The city of Madrid would also have its equipment. In February 1900 the Madrid Football Club was constituted, and on 6th of March of 1902 is established officially like Real Madrid. By that time, both clubs played and did not go beyond the normal rivalry between the two teams. In fact, the first time they played officially in 1902, the Catalan team won in the semi-final of the Coronation Cup.

The first controversial transfer

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Striker Josep Samitier Vilalta played an important role in the history between both teams. He is the third top scorer in the history of Barca (333), behind Paulino Alcantara (369), and Argentine Lionel Messi (404), current Blaugrana player. He was one of the great figures and emblem of the Catalan box in which he played for 17 years until he signed for Real Madrid in 1933. The event increased the hostility between the two clubs. With the political situation that surrounded, where a change in regime led to a civil war, the country went through a military dictatorship that reinforced the image of FC Barcelona as a figure of Catalan identity that opposed the Spanish government.

Political problems and 11-1

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In the 1930s, the political situation in Spain became complicated after a regime change that would impose a military dictatorship. Barcelona would reinforce its image as a Catalan identity against the Spanish government that banned all languages except Castilian.

During the dictatorship, a Real Madrid vs Barcelona in the semifinal of the Copa del Rey would be played, the Catalans would win at home 3-0, in a match with insults in the stands against Real Madrid. The return, played in Madrid had the bulging Real Madrid victory 11-1, however, before the match, the Spanish army and police went to the dressing room of the Catalan team to intimidate them.

Fernando de Argila, Barcelona’s goalkeeper, said afterwards that the referee told him,

“Look how the stand is. We cannot allow something to happen here. You already know what you have to do.”

Help of Franco to Real Madrid

Image Credit: revistamirall.com

HIRING DI STEFANO

One of the greatest players in history, the Argentine was hired at the same time by Barcelona and Real Madrid. It was not clear which club was the owner of the South American footballer’s rights. The Spanish court ruled that for four years Di Stefano would play each one season in each club. Barcelona refused, considering the absurd decision, and the Argentine turned idol of Madrid.

CONSTRUCTION OF STADIUM

Santiago Bernabeu, a Francoist soldier, was president of the club at the time of the construction of the monumental stadium (Estadio Santiago Bernabeu) in the Spanish capital in 1947. The country lived a post-war period and Real Madrid was out of money. Even so, the work ended in less than three years, possibly with the help of the central government, done in a hidden way.

RELATIONSHIP WITH REFEREES

Finally, the rivalry still exposes what would be a rather suspicious relationship between the club and the football referees. The wives of the referees received gifts from Real Madrid. The growth of the Madrid club would be a project of Franco to become a propaganda agent of the regime in the rest of the world.

Impact of Johan Cruyff and Michael Laudrup

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On February 17, 1974, Barcelona thrashed Real Madrid 0-5 in their own backyard. Johan Cruyff silenced the Bernabeu with his football being decisive of that historical marker. That Barca would win the League again 14 years later.

20 years after the win at the Bernabeu, Johan Cruyff would repeat another 5-0 as Barca coach. The coach changed the philosophy of the club by winning 4 consecutive leagues and the coveted European Cup in Wembley (1992). The “Manita” achieved in the 1993-1994 season was the culmination of a glorious stage with the benches.

A year and a day later, Real Madrid returned the “Manita” in 1994-95. Zamorano, Luis Enrique and Amavisca scored on a historic night that ended with Cruyff’s “Dream Team”. It was the first year of Michael Laudrup in white, who took revenge on his former team. The Whites recovered the League after 4 consecutive League wins of the Catalans.

Luis Enrique and the historic transfer of Luis Figo

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In the summer of 1996, Luis Enrique signed with Barcelona. The Spaniard had not triumphed in the Real house but he managed perfectly with the Barca feeling. As soon as he arrived in Barcelona, he reneged on his Madrid past and was inflated to score goals against his ex-club.

Luis Figo took the opposite path in the year 2000. Florentino Perez reached an agreement with the captain of Barcelona and won the presidential elections of Real Madrid holding the Portuguese hand. The whites paid the clause of 60 million euros to get the star of their biggest rival. In October, Madrid visited Camp Nou and Figo received the “boo” of the century. The fans call him Judas, they threw tickets with his picture.

In 2002 Figo returned to the Camp Nou but this time he decided not to be impressed. The atmosphere was very hostile again and every time he got close to taking the corner, objects of all kinds rained down on him. Among them, a bottle of whiskey and a head of suckling pig. The game was interrupted for a few minutes but it resumed despite the hostility. The score of 0-0 was practically anecdotal.

The Present Era

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Since the turn of the century, the two Spanish giants have won nine of the 17 Champions League titles. They’ve also soaked up all but three La Liga titles since 2001 as the duopoly sinks its hooks deeper into the coffers of Spanish soccer. As two of the dominant sides in Europe, Real and Barcelona have become destinations for the world’s greatest players. Since Figo’s transfer between the two El Clasico rivals in 2000, five of the past six latest world-record transfer fees in the new century have involved players either moving to or from a Spanish club.

There was nothing that guaranteed El Clasico would turn into the biggest rivalry game in the world. Most rivalries in soccer around the globe are predicated on proximity; Barcelona and Madrid are more than 300 miles apart. But they’ve both been good regularly, and at the same time, and that certainly helps build bad blood between two teams.

The combination of a long history of competition against one another, the politics that inevitably come to shape the evolution of particular clubs and fan bases and the fact that the two clubs have historically been perennial contenders have all played a role in developing the rivalry we now know as El Clasico. Keep that in mind when you see the two teams square away in the next edition of a legendary duel.

The Superstars

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El Clasico has always been memorable for the quality of players on display. The likes of Di Stefano, Emilio Butrageuno, Johan Cruyff, Ronaldinho, and of modern times Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, have all graced Clasicos down the years. It is a shame, therefore, that the modern-day Clasico has often been overshadowed by play-acting and simulation from both sides. The soccer seems to have taken a back seat, with the amount of yellow and red cards being the more important statistic. But whilst these two great teams remain rivals, El Clasico, the second-most watched soccer match in the world, will continue to be a spectacle for all.

Also Read: Lesser known fact about Messi

Barcelona’s Overdependence on Lionel Messi Once Again Exposed in Valencia Draw

Barcelona's Overdependence on Lionel Messi Once Again Exposed in Valencia Draw

Goals from Kevin Gameiro and Daniel Parejo handed Valencia a healthy 2-0 first-half lead at Camp Nou on Saturday night. The night was meant to be a hellish nightmare for the Blaugrana, but instead, it turned into a testament to Lionel Messi’s genius. 


Barcelona looked to be on the backfoot from the very beginning. They didn’t seem to have the tools to cope with Valencia’s relentlessness and inevitably gave away the opening goal. Valencia’s second — a sweetly struck penalty — took the wind out of Barcelona’s sails. They needed some inspiration to turn the match around, and sure enough, their ever-reliable talisman answered.

A foul on Nelson Semedo handed Barcelona the opportunity to cut the deficit from 12 yards out. Lionel Messi, unhesitantly, stepped up to the plate and rattled Murara Neto net. In the second half, Valencia did their best to hold on to their one-goal advantage and put everybody behind the ball. Messi, who excels in exploiting little pockets of space, struggled to make inroads into the visitors’ box. Thankfully for the hosts, their skipper also excels in making the most out of every situation. In the 64th minute, the Argentinian picked up the ball at the edge of the area, found just enough room to turn and curl an unstoppable effort past a helpless Neto. It took the man only 32 minutes to turn the game on its head, with limited support from his decorated team-mates.

Ernesto Valverde’s Barcelona salvaged on Saturday, but the hard-fought draw once again exposed their dependency on their skipper. Having a player of Lionel Messi calibre at your disposal is a privilege in itself, but the Catalan outfit currently look alarmingly dependent on his brilliance, at the moment. Earlier in the season, when Lionel Messi was forced out of action with a fractured arm, Luis Suarez stepped up to the plate and led by example. But the last few weeks haven’t been too kind on the Uruguayan. Players like Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho are undoubtedly outstanding, but they still don’t have the quality to become a beacon a hope when needed.

Even in the Copa del Rey, Messi was instrumental in wins over Levante and Sevilla. Barcelona came out second best in the first leg both against Levante and Sevilla, but Messi’s brilliance stopped them from crashing out, twice. Valverde’s side are happy and fortunate to have the most successful ‘hail mary’ pass at their disposal, but it probably won’t be long before their luck eventually runs out.

Also Read: 6 lesser known facts about Messi

Last night, the 31-year-old picked up a knock in the final minutes of the match which required a bit of medical assistance. With the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final against Real Madrid just three days away, Messi’s knock is bound to give some sleepless nights, but the manager is hopeful about fielding him on Wednesday.

“I don’t know exactly what he has,” the Barca boss said in his post-match press conference, as quoted by Standard.

“We will have to wait to see what medical staff say. If he’s in good shape, he’ll play on Wednesday.”

With last night’s double, Messi — 21 goals — became the first player in Europe’s top leagues to reach 20 league goals for the season. Barcelona can’t help looking up to their captain for inspiration, but it’s also their responsibility to give him the support he needs. So far, Messi has been flawless, but Valverde would be wise to prepare an alternative system to churn out results — a system that keeps the club’s record goalscorer from burning out.

Lionel Messi’s double saves Barcelona against Valencia

Lionel Messi’s double saves Barcelona against Valencia

Barcelona had to heavily rely on Lionel Messi to bring back a point against Valencia (2-2) on Saturday. The Argentine genius, who scored twice, was the most vibrant Blaugrana against a very formidable Valencia team. 


In the standings, Barca still remains comfortably in the lead but can see Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid come closer to the top of the table after Sunday.

At Camp Nou, the captain of Barcelona scored his 20th and 21st goal of the La Liga, this season. Messi scored first from a penalty in the 39th minute, and then from a clear shot outside the box in the 64th minute. Earlier, the Frenchman Kevin Gameiro (24th minute) and captain Dani Parejo (32nd minute) gave the advantage to the Valencians.

Messi, who chained a ninth consecutive game with at least one goal scored, nevertheless remained on the sidelines for a long time to have his right thigh treated before re-entering the game to add relief to the Barca die-hards. In the standings of La Liga, this draw does not do the huge business for Barca (1st, 50 pts), but could see back on his heels Atletico Madrid (2nd, 44 pts), facing Real Betis on Sunday, and Real Madrid (3rd, 39 pts), who welcome Alaves on the same date.

But all of Catalonia is likely to worry for the next few hours for the physical state of Lionel Messi before a crucial month. The Argentine was hit in the thigh at the worst time, before facing Real Madrid on Wednesday. Barca’s schedule includes three successive (February 6th and 27th, March 2nd) and the round of 16 first leg of the Champions League in Lyon on February 19th.

Barcelona took high risks

Barcelona left Camp Nou with great frustration and with a large expenditure of energy. The opponents led 2-0 after half an hour of play. The opportunists Valencians took the advantage thanks to two counter-attacks. First, a breakthrough of the amazing Rodrigo, saluted by Gameiro (24th minute), author of his first goal since November before being forced to leave the field due to a head-to-head collision with Gerard Pique. As time ticked on, Daniel Wass was shoved in the box by Sergi Roberto. A logical penalty, transformed by Dani Parejo (32nd minute), and immediately a defensive curtain unfolded in front of the Valencia goal.

Also Read: The next superstar of Real Madrid

Untenable Messi 

As often in these cases, it was Messi who pulled his team out of the hole. The Argentinian first smoothly converted a penalty earned by Nelson Semedo just before the break (39th minute), which gave hope to Camp Nou. After the entry of his best partner, Jordi Alba at the break, Messi was untenable and ended up being rewarded from a pin-point shot sent from just outside the area to the back of the net in the 64th minute.

Camp Nou worried for Leo 

In the last half an hour, Barca tried to snatch the victory, and all three points, but all of Camp Nou held his breath in a cathedral when Messi left the field in the 70th minute to have a long massage in the right thigh. The Blaugrana captain eventually resumed his place, signalling that everything was fine, but the concern is likely to seize Barcelona. Especially, since La Liga race could get tighter after Sunday night if Atletico and Real win their respective matches.

Copa del Rey: Sevilla 2-0 Barcelona | Messi-Less Blaugrana Stumble in Seville

Copa del Rey: Sevilla 2-0 Barcelona | Messi-Less Blaugrana Stumble in Seville

Goals from Pablo Sarabia and Wissam Ben Yedder helped Sevilla to a 2-0 win over Barcelona in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final on Wednesday night.


Having lost to Real Madrid in their previous fixture, in La Liga, Sevilla were desperate to return to winning ways against the Copa del Rey holders, and their performance on the night reflected their intent.

The hosts started the game on the front foot and looked determined to break the deadlock right from the first minute. Barcelona, who were without most of their first-choice players, failed to cope with Sevilla’s relentless pressing and were forced to drop deep.

Barcelona players offered almost no resistance, as Sevilla players bombarded their final third. However, despite dominating every single aspect of play in the first half, the hosts failed to get themselves on the scoresheet, as none of their six attempts on goal managed to trouble the Blaugrana stopper.

Sevilla, once again, came out all guns blazing in the second half. The visitors threatened in bits and pieces, but they, too, were just as awful in front of goal. Pablo Machin’s side finally broke the deadlock just before the hour mark, with Pablo Sarabia’s smart finish handing the Rojiblancos a much-deserved lead. They doubled their advantage in the 76th minute, as Ben Yedder converted from a defence-splitting Ever Banega cross.

Barcelona tried their best to cut the deficit but lacked the conviction to punish an inspiring Sevilla outfit.

 

Starting XI

Sevilla: Soriano; Gomez, Kjaer, Mercado; Escudero, Banega, Amadou, Navas; Sarabia; Promes, Ben Yedder.

Barcelona: Cillessen; Semedo, Lenglet, Pique, Roberto; Artur, Rakitic, Vidal; Alena, Boateng, Malcom;

 

Talking Points: A Deserving Sevilla Win

Pablo Machin’s Sevilla have enjoyed a successful campaign so far, and last night’s performance was yet another feather in their cap. Despite going against the defending champions, they didn’t show even a hint of nervousness and took the game by the scruff of its neck.

The hosts were at their best in the first half and really deserved a goal mark their superiority. They did well to keep up the tempo in the second half and secure a two-goal advantage heading into the second leg at Camp Nou.

Boateng’s Debut

In Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez’s absence, new Barcelona signing, Kevin-Prince Boateng, was handed his Barcelona debut at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium on Wednesday night. Thanks to Sevilla’s determination, Boateng didn’t have much to work with and was largely restricted to non-threatening areas.

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde chose to start most of the second-string players, who themselves are still not fully accustomed to the team’s style of play. As a result, the 31-year-old looked isolated and failed to make any sort of impact.

No Messi, No Party, Again

Valverde took the bold decision of leaving Barcelona skipper, Lionel Messi, out of the squad for the first-leg, hoping other members of the team would step up and avoid an embarrassment. Sadly, they didn’t.

The Catalan outfit were looking out of their element right from the first minute and allowed Sevilla to walk all over them. Without Messi, they lacked creativity up top and barely threatened the Sevilla back-line. Only 1 of their 10 goal attempts was on target – a proper reflection of Barcelona’s hapless state without their ingenious captain.

Barcelona’s next fixture sees them welcome Girona to Camp Nou in La Liga on Sunday.

6 interesting unknown facts about Lionel Messi

5 interesting unknown facts about Lionel Messi

Argentina superstar Lionel Messi is one of the best footballers in the world at the moment. 


The Barcelona magician often compared to football legends like Pele and Maradona and it won’t be a surprise if he overtakes them in near future. Here are 6 interesting unknown facts about Lionel Messi.

Diagnosed With A Growth Hormone Deficiency

5 interesting unknown facts about Lionel Messi
Image Credit: Youtube

Messi’s amazing rise to become one of the all-time greats is against the odds, as when he was 11 he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency which stopped him from growing at a normal rate. His parents struggled to afford the payments for treatment, but after impressing in a trial for Barcelona, the team offered to pay for his treatment in Spain. Messi moved from Argentina to Spain with his father to join the youth academy. The treatment took three years, and although it did work, Messi remains one of the smaller players around the world at 5’6″.

 

Recruited by Barcelona after juggling with an orange

5 interesting unknown facts about Lionel Messi
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Leo Messi made many efforts to convince the leaders of Barcelona to offer him a chance. Legend says that oranges are at the origin of the love story between Barca and the Argentinean! Fabian Soldini, the player’s agent at the time, said:

“I went to see Lionel and I gave him a kilo of oranges and a few tennis balls.” I told him: “You train to juggle that and in a week and I will record you.”

“A week later, Leo mastered his subject. He juggled 113 times with an orange and 120 times with a tennis ball. I sent it all to Barcelona who told me to bring him in quickly.”

 

Messi dedicates his goals to his grandmother

5 interesting unknown facts about Lionel Messi
Image Credit: CNN International

When Lionel Messi scores a goal, the Argentinean points towards the sky but is not to thank God. He actually is thanking his deceased grandmother Celia. She was the one who drove her to Rosario training, she who convinced the coaches to play the little guy with the big boys. Alzheimer patient, she died when Leo was 10 years old. He still talks a lot and dedicates his goals by pointing his index to the sky.

“I miss her so much. I would have wanted her to see what I became. It is for this reason that I dedicate my goals to him because I like to tell myself that she sees me from where she is.”

Messi speaks Catalan only when he is drunk!

5 interesting unknown facts about Lionel Messi
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In 2000, the entire Messi family settled with Leo in Barcelona. But after a few months, to overcome homesickness, his mother, sister, and brother Matias return to Rosario. In 2008, Messi told La Capital, the Rosario newspaper:

“When my sister Maria Sol went to school, we spoke to her in Catalan, she suffered, she felt rejected. That’s why my mother decided to go back to Rosario with her so that she could continue her schooling there.”

Messi understands Catalan but hardly ever speaks it, he the banner of a club that claims the nationalism. Finally, one evening of celebration of a Barca title, he took the megaphone, went on top of the bus, and shouted:

“Visca el Barca, visca Catalunya y aguante Argentina, the concha de su madre!” Translation: “Long live Barca, long live Catalonia, and go Argentina, the whore of his mother!”

Messi had a scarf around his head. He was drunk.

 

Messi became Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer at 24

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In 2012, a 24-year-old Messi became the all-time leading scorer for Barcelona in all club competitions. He achieved this astonishing feat in impressive fashion, as he bagged himself a hat-trick in a 5-3 win over Granada. When you consider the history and success of Barcelona, this makes you realize just how prolific and talented Messi really is. He achieved this in just under 8 seasons, where the previous record was held by Cesar Rodriguez who had scored 232 goals (this took him 13 seasons and the record stood for 57 years). Messi is now out of sight in terms of goals scored, and by the time he is finished, it seems unlikely that anyone will ever topple his grand total.

 

“Inmessionante”: The word that entered the dictionary

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Lionel Messi had the right to become a common name. The Santillana dictionary has incorporated the adjective “inmessionante” whose definition is as follows:

“Adjective qualifier that refers to Lionel Messi, his perfect way of playing football, his unlimited ability to surpass himself. Describes the best footballer of all time.”

It is said that Messi deserves it. His way of dribbling, the ball sticking to the outside of his left foot, is unique. Guardiola believes he is the only footballer to “run faster with the ball than without”. Messi explains it like this:

“When I was a kid, I played on rotten wastelands, in the street, in my house. My driving of ball adapted to these conditions of play. With the outside, inevitably, because it is easier to hold the balloon … “

Lionel Messi Becomes First Player to Score 400 Goals in La Liga

Lionel Messi Becomes First Player to Score 400 Goals in La Liga

Barcelona skipper, Lionel Messi, scored his 400th La Liga goal as his side cruised to a comfortable 3-0 win over Eibar at Camp Nou on Sunday night. 


Luis Suarez put his side ahead early in the first half before tucking in the Catalan outfit’s third in the second half. After gradually making himself comfortable, the Argentina international started to put pressure on the visitors, forcing errors out of their defenders. In the 53rd-minute, Lionel Messi finally achieved what he was gunning for, as he doubled his side’s advantage from a clever Luis Suarez pass.

With the clinical bottom-corner strike, Messi took his La Liga goal tally to 400 goals, only taking 435 games to reach the unique milestone.

Messi scored his first La Liga goal against a lowly Albacete back in 2005, converting from his mentor, Ronaldinho’s, clever pass, becoming the youngest-ever scorer in the Catalan outfit. 14 years later, he stands proud as the league’s highest-ever goalscorer, that, too, by a fair distance.

Athletic Bilbao forward, Aritz Aduriz, comes next in line amongst players who are still active in La Liga, scoring 157 goals in 422 appearances.

The strike sees Lionel Messi extend his lead at the top of La Liga’s all-time leading scorers’ list, with former Real Madrid man, Cristiano Ronaldo, coming in second, having scored 311 goals in 292 appearances. Telmo Zarra, who scored 251 goals for Bilbao between 1940 and 1955, keeps his place at third.

The Argentinian also became the second player to reach the 400-goal landmark across Europe’s top five footballing leagues, following Juventus’ Ronaldo, who has scored 409 league goals in 507 appearances across three major leagues – the Premier League, La Liga, and Serie A.

Also Read: 5 youngsters with unmatched talent at La Masia

Following yet another memorable performance and conquering a milestone, Barcelona boss, Ernesto Valverde, hailed the genius of his captain, calling him a player from a “different galaxy.”

“It’s monstrous,” said the Barcelona head coach, as quoted by  Barca Blaugranes.

“It’s easy to say but you have to score them one after the other, it’s a long-term job. Messi is an extraordinary player because he is not only a scorer. It’s everything that he creates around him too.”

“His numbers are stratospheric, incredible. He is from another galaxy.”

The goal against Eibar marked Messi’s 17th in the Spanish top-flight, this season. He has also scored 6 goals in 4 Champions League group stage commitments.

Messi’s 400 in Stats

  • 83 braces
  • 31 hat-tricks
  • 82% of goals from left foot – 328 Goals
  • 15% of goals from right foot – 58 Goals
  • 3% of goals from headers – 14 Goals
  • Messi’s 100th goal came against Almería in 2010; 200th against Osasuna in 2013; 300th versus Sporting in 2016
  • Messi has scored more goals in the league than 29 La Liga teams have scored in their entire history
  • Sevilla (25) are Messi’s favorite opponent, followed by Atletico Madrid (23), Valencia (22), Osasuna (21), Deportivo La Coruna (20), and Espanyol (20)
  • Messi has scored against 37 different teams in La Liga – more than any other player in history

At 31, when most human football players start to show signs of an inevitable decline, the Barcelona skipper keeps defying odds, every other day. It’s been an absolute pleasure so far, and we’re certain there is plenty more to come from our generation-defining superstar.

Copa del Rey: Levante 2-1 Barcelona – Match Report and Talking Points as Holders Succumb to Shock Defeat

Copa del Rey: Levante 2-1 Barcelona - Match Report and Talking Points as Holders Succumb to Shock Defeat

Defending champions, Barcelona, fell to a shock 2-1 defeat at Levante in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie in the Copa del Rey on Thursday night. 


Erick Cabaco and Borja Mayoral’s quickfire double inside the opening 18 minutes knocked Barcelona off their porch, sending the home fans into a frenzy. Philippe Coutinho dispatched a well-taken penalty in the 85th minute to cut the deficit for Barcelona, salvaging one crucial away goal from an otherwise disappointing night.

The hosts started threatening their lofty rivals right from the very beginning and got themselves a goal just after four minutes of play. Ruben Rochina’s well-taken free-kick found Erick Cabaco inside the area, who outleapt every Barcelona defender to put the ball past a helpless Jasper Cillessen.

Despite securing a 1-0 goal lead over the defending champions, the Granotas didn’t rest on their laurels and kept piling bodies forward. And after 14 minutes of relentless pressure, their dominance reflected handsomely on the scoreboard. Emmanuel Boateng’s clever pass set on-loan Real Madrid striker Borja Mayoral through on goal, who made his parent club proud by slotting the ball into the far corner.

Also Read: Mid Season Review – Barcelona vs Real Madrid

Barcelona, too, had their moments, but they came too far and few between. Malcom and Ousmane Dembele had their efforts saved by Levante stopper, Aitor Fernandez, but there weren’t many clear cut chances in the first half.

Fifteen minutes into the second half, the hosts had the chance to put the game to bed when Jose Luis Morales found himself one-on-one with Cillessen. The Spaniard, frustratingly, lost his composure and lifted his effort over the goal.

After evading a scare, Barcelona won themselves a lifeline when Denis Suarez was scythed down inside the area. The referee pointed to the spot and Coutinho made no mistake converting from 12 yards out.

Talking Points

Levante’s Spirited Display

The visitors started the game on the front foot and unsettled the Barcelona backline right from the very beginning. Erick Cabaco’s opener made them even hungrier, as they hounded Barcelona for every inch of the playing area.

Barcelona hammered Levante 5-0 at the Estadi Ciutat de Valencia in La Liga on December 16 and were the undisputed favorites to bag all three points, last night. The hosts, however, put the scarring defeat behind them and produced a truly remarkable performance.

Another Disappointing Barcelona Display

The Blaugrana have a solid five-point advantage at the top of La Liga, but they, in no way, look as intimidating as they are supposed to. Ernesto Valverde’s side were once again unconvincing at the back and offered little to no resistance to the onrushing Levante forwards.

Levante’s opening goal was almost a gift from a disoriented back line, who virtually deserted their goalkeeper, Jasper Cillessen. The Catalans didn’t learn from their initial mishap and kept allowing Levante to stroll inside the penalty box. Thankfully, their keeper was in an inspiring form on the night and stopped his team from falling further behind.

No Messi, No Party

Lionel Messi starred with a hat-trick in Barcelona’s emphatic 5-0 win at Levante, back in December. Sadly, he wasn’t on the pitch last night to inspire his side to yet another famous victory.

Keeping the upcoming La Liga fixtures in mind, Valverde fielded a much-changed Barcelona on Thursday. Most members of the starting XI don’t always get the opportunity to play together, but in no way should they look that much disinterested in a knockout cup fixture. There’s no denying the fact that Messi is Barcelona’s most important player, but this much dependence on a player could really prove to be catastrophic for the defending champions.