Sunday, December 25, 2005

Barcelona TV Expansion in Europe

More and more people will see Barcelona in Europe. The Club got an agreement with two distribution corporations to have Barca TV seen in Eastern Europe. The deals are within a plan of international distribution which has seen the channel already being offered in France and Japan.

One of the agreement has been struck with Iko Television, which broadcasts via satellite and cable to viewers in Hungary, Rumania, The Czech Republic and Slovakia. The second contract is with Polsat, a Polish company with 1.4 viewers. Both deals involve the broadcasting of between 2 and 6 hours a week.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Barcelona beats Cadiz and sets a record

African striker Samuel Eto'o scored twice and FC Barcelona won a club record 12th straight match on Saturday, defeating Cadiz 3-1 to assure itself of remaining atop the Spanish league after fifth straight round.

Ludovic Giuly scored for Barcelona too. Now the team broke the record of an 11-game winning streak in the league and Inter Cities Fairs Cup in the 1955-56 season.

Saturday's win over Cadiz's Ramon de Carranza stadium, which was achieved without flu-ridden Ronaldinho, moved it three points clear of Osasuna, which visits Real Madrid on Sunday.

Barcelona now has 37 points from 16 games, while Osasuna has 34. Deportivo has 29, one more than Real Madrid. Villarreal, Valencia and Celta have 26.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

FC Barcelona can get a Winning Record on Saturday

FC Barcelona is looking forward to get a club record 12th straight win Saturday when it visits struggling Cadiz in the Spanish "La Liga".

Last weekend's 2-1 win over Sevilla equaled the league leader's 11-game run in the 1955-56 season, when it managed 10 victories and one in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup.

Barcelona has made 34 goals and only conceded four during its league and Champions League streak. Mexican defender Rafael Marquez thinks the defending champion is "on a higher rung than last season."

"We must keep on piling up the points. If we can break records that's even better but we should always keep our minds on the next game, the most important one," Marquez thinks.

Barca seems unlikely to be troubled by Cadiz, which has gained just two points from its last seven matches and has slipped to 16th place.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Barcelona 2 - Udinese 0

Even though they are already in the next stage, FC Barcelona beated Udinese 2-0. The Catalan team scored two goals in the last five minutes, and eliminated Udinese from the Champions League on Wednesday.

Santi Ezquerro made the first goal in the 85th minute and Andres Iniesta scored the 2-0 in the 90th on a quick counterattack, to help Barcelona finish on top of Group C.

The italian team was tied with Werder Bremen in second place on seven points but the German side advanced to the last 16 on the basis of their record of one win and a draw in head-to-head matches with them.

Ronaldinho's team, which was missing several key players like the brazilian star and Samuel Eto'o, overwhelmed the Italian side in the midfield and never allowed the Udinese forwards close to its net.

The blaugranas threatened on every attack, with Ludovic Giuly striking the crossbar with a powerful drive in the 11th minute.

Deco's heel attempt was just wide in the 38th and Giuly hit the post from a tight angle in the 41st.

Udinese tightened up on defence as the game drew to a close. However, Ezequerro scored from a few meters out after repeated saves by Udinese defenders close to the net.

A few minutes later, Iniesta, a second-half replacement for Gabri Garcia, kicked into the open strike from inside the area following a quick counterattack led by Giuly.

Henrik Larsson squandered a chance for a third goal in injury team as many of the 40,000 partisan fans were already leaving the stadium.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Barcelona wins over Villarreal

Defender Juan Manuel Peña made an own-goal in the first half and deflected Deco's shoot in the second goal. This way, FC Barcelona defeated Villarreal 2-0 in the Spanish league on Sunday.

The victory over Villarreal was Barcelona's seventh straight in the league and ninth overall. At the same tome, this ended Villarreal's 13-game unbeaten streak in the league and Champions League and completed a great week for Ronaldinho Gaucho, who was voted European player of the year last Monday.

In other matches, Osasuna kept up the pressure on the leaders with a 2-1 victory at Malaga. Striker Achille Webo and winger Valdo Lopes scored first-half goals. Espanyol 1, Valencia 3; Cadiz 1, Zaragoza 2; Alaves 0, Mallorca 3; and Racing Santander 2, Real Sociedad 2.

Barcelona, which had scored 28 strikes in previous eight games, relied more on grit than flair to overcome Villarreal in hard clash in which Peña played an unlucky role.

The Blaugranas took the lead in the 24th minute when the Bolivian international inadvertently deflected the rebound after goalkeeper Sebastian Viera had only parried Ronaldinho's curling, bouncing free kick.

Peña then took part of Barcelona's second goal in the 63rd minute when Deco's fierce drive from outside the area hit him and flew past Viera.

Mexican defender Rafael Marquez was ejected in the 88th minute after receiving a second yellow card.

The Catalan team was playing its first game without Spain midfielder Xavi Hernandez, who tore a cruciate knee ligament on Friday and will be sidelined for six months. His teammates took the field in tee-shirts carrying the message "Cheer up. We're with you" in Catalan.

Xavi's replacement, Thiago Motta, was carried off on a stretcher in the 71st minute after making a tackle which earned him a yellow card. Motta missed most of last season with a knee injury.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Barça clash against Villarreal today

The clash of this weekend will encounter first and third-place squads FC Barcelona and Villarreal at the latter's El Madrigal stadium. The match promises to provide some good open soccer, mostly provided by the approximately 50 percent of players on the field from Latin America. Argentines Lionel Messi, for Barcelona, and Juan Román Riquelme, of Villarreal, will be in charge of the attack. Ronaldinho will be on the field with the happiness of getting the Golden Ball this week.

Missing from Barcelona's lineup will be midfielder Xavi Hernández, who suffered a leg injury in practice on Friday and will be out for the season, doctors said yesterday. Xavi, a vital component of Barça's attack, tore a ligament in his knee when his leg became stuck in the wet practice field and his body's inertia severed the ligament.

Team doctors said that Xavi will need at least six months to recover, ending the midfielder's season with Barcelona, but leaving a question mark as to whether he'll be available for the World Cup in Germany next year.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Villarreal will try to stop Barcelona

Deportivo Villarreal wants to stop FC Barcelona from stretching its winning streak. The clash will take place on Sunday. Coach Rijkaard is confident, however, in his powerful team, which has won six league matches plus two more in the Champions League, scoring 28 goals and conceding three.

But Villarreal's recent performance is very good. Neither team has lost for more than two months.

"The game is one of the greatest in this season and much more so when you look at how the teams are doing. A win would a big step for us," Villarreal's Brazilian midfielder Marcos Senna said.

Nevertheless, Barcelona's confidence is very strong. "If we keep up this level, with the team putting its all into every game, it will be very difficult for us to lose," Mexican defender Rafael Marquez said.

Barcelona has been led by Ronaldinho, who has netted 10 times in his last 10 games and won the European player of the year award on Monday.

Villarreal hopes to avoid the distraction of its Champions League game on Wednesday against Lille. A win or a draw against the French team would send Manuel Pellegrini's team into the knockout round.

Villarreal striker Diego Forlan, who hasn't played for the club since Nov. 2 because of a left thigh injury, is almost fit but unlikely to play on Sunday.

After 13 games, Barcelona heads the standings with 28 points, above Osasuna on goal difference. Villarreal, Sevilla and Celta Vigo are next with 23. Real Madrid and Valencia have 22.

If Barcelona loses, Osasuna will go top if it avoids defeat at No. 12 Malaga on Sunday.

2005 - 06 Squad

Goalkeepers

1. VALDÉS
25. JORQUERA
28. RUBEN

Defence

2. BELLETTI
4. MÁRQUEZ
5. PUYOL
12. GIO
15. EDMÍLSON
23. OLEGUER

Midfielders

3. MOTTA
6. XAVI
10. RONALDINHO
18. GABRI
20. DECO
17. VAN BOMMEL
24. INIESTA

Forwards

7. LARSSON
8. GIULY
9. ETO'O
11. MAXI
14. EZQUERRO
30. MESSI

FC Barcelona Stadium: Camp Nou

Located on Avinguda Aristides Maillol, s/n, 08028, Barcelona, the stadium was opened on the 24th of September 1957. The first match that took place in the Camp Nou was FC Barcelona against a squad from Warsaw and the Barcelona line-up in the new Stadium was formed by:Ramallets, Olivella, Brugu, Segarra, Vergs, Gensana, Basora, Villaverde, Martnez, Kubala and Tejada. Bara won 4-2.

The Stadium capacity is of 98,787 numbered seats. The Stadium is 48 metres high and has a surface of 55,000 square metres (250 m long and 220 m wide).

F.C. Barcelona History

Hans Gamper and his friends were playing an unknown sport called 'foot-ball' in a place in Catalonia. When Gamper went on to found Barcelona Football Club on 29 November 1899, he could hardly have imagined the momentous events that would follow!

During some of Catalonia's most difficult years, the flag meant the people's hopes for freedom, and nowadays that same flag is the symbolic link which continues to represent the ties between a very special club and its' fans.

In more than 100 years, the club has lived through moments of glory and tragedy, through good times and bad, through epic victories and crushing defeats. Each one of these moments has contributed to shaping Barcelona into the absolutely unique club that it is today.

Legendary players like Zamora, Samitier and many others started placing the club in a first line poisition with brilliant playing style, bringing the team to a Golden Age of expansion. By 1922, the club opened the doors of its stadium of Les Corts, which had an initial capacity of 30,000, later expanded to an impressive 60,000. Besides dominating Spanish and Catalan championships, they won the first edition of the Spanish League in 1929.

By the second half of the 1940s the institution started to recover from its problems, which almost led the club to disband. Players like Cesar, Ramallets, and Velasco won the First Division fifteen years after the first and only time. With political issues calming down, the style of football played, and titles being brought, financial problems started to fade as more people became members. In 1950 arrived one of the most important players for FC Barcelona, Ladislao Kubala. During the first years after his arrival the team won almost every competition they played in, and its forwards, Cesar, Basora, and Kubala himself are still remembered.

In 1957, the Camp Nou opened its doors to the public. It is adequate to keep in view that this project was personally endorsed by General Franco himself, who approved an extremely generous appraisal of the state where the Stadium was to be built, therefore fostering the financing of the enterprise. With a capacity for up to 90,000 spectators, the Camp Nou is one of the biggest stadiums in the world. Unfortunately, a few years after the inauguration, titles became scarce, as they only won three official titles during the 1960s. But even then the club did not stop growing, gaining social and economic power every year.

Unlike the decade of the 50s, when Real Madrid bought Argentinian player Alfredo Di Stefano from FC Barcelona, Dutch legend Johan Cruyff signed a contract with the club in 1973. His electric style of play, fast and smart, could not appeal more to the fans. Even the record amount of £922,300 paid by FC Barcelona for him seemed nothing after defeating Real Madrid 5-0 in their own stadium and winning the league. By the following year the club had 70,000 members, making it one of the most powerful in the world.

Josep Luis Nuñez became president of FC Barcelona in 1978, leading the club into an unprecedented period of social and economic growth.

Diego Maradona was signed for a world record fee from Argentinos Juniors. With just one King's Cup win at the club, Maradona's stint at the club was considered a failure, but his signing created huge publcity for the club internationally.

Dozens of titles were won by all teams later on and other sections seen as less important than the football team started to receive more attention.

During 1990-1994, Johan Cruyff's Dream Team , playing a Total Football system, won four consecutive Leagues and for a first time the Champions League (1992) among other trophies.

Bobby Robson took charge of the club for a single season in 96-97, he recruited Ronaldo from PSV Eindhoven (his previous club) and delivered a Cup Winners' Cup and Spanish Kings cup. Interestingly he also brought the famous Portuguese manager José Mourinho to the club. José Mourinho at that time helped Robson at training tasks and he was responsible for translating Robson's press conferences to journalists.

Robson's time was short lived as the club had already made an agreement with notorious Dutch manager Louis van Gaal. Despite the loss of Ronaldo to Internazionale of Milan Rivaldo joined the team and Barcelona twice won the Spanish League title. Despite their great results at domestically, Barcelona failed to win the Champions League. Due to heavy fan criticism after three seasons in 2000, van Gaal resigned.

Joan Gaspart was elected as the successor of Josep Lluis Nuñez in 2000. It was not an easy task considering his achievements and a lot of pressure was put on the new board of directors. Still, Joan Gaspart's perceived bad management led the club to a financial crisis. Poor judgement when using the club's funds, the absence of any important victory, and underperforming players made the social pressure unbearable, forcing him to resign in 2003. A temporary commission took over until current president Joan Laporta was elected in the same year.

Joan Laporta proved to be a better choice for FC Barcelona. Nowadays, leaded by Ronaldinho and former Dutch international Frank Rijkaard as coach the club started to prove to be the best in the globe. Massive inherited debts have been reduced, and only two players remain from the original team that did not win a major title in five years. In 2003/2004 Barcelona made a spectacular return to form, finishing second after being near the bottom of the table for much of the season. It was only because the revival started too late that Barcelona didn't claim the title that season. During 2004/2005, Barcelona led the table from the first day to the last to claim its 17th Spanish La Liga title on May 14th, 2005 and its 6th Spanish Supercup title on August 20th, 2005. Despite their exit from the Champions League at the hands of Chelsea, supporters and players alike are starting to believe that a third golden age is beginning. The young, ambitous team is playing the attractive, attacking football the fans demand and the results to date are promising, including a thorough 0-3 trashing of Real Madrid on November 19th, 2005, thanks to two glorious goals from Ronaldinho.