Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Blaugrana draw against Lyon in the Champions League

After a hard game, Barca put themselves on course for the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals at the moment a Thierry Henry header earned them a 1-1 draw at Olympique Lyon. Time to breath for catalan fans.

The popular Henry stooped to head home from less than a metre in the 67th minute after defender Rafael Marquez deflected a Lionel Messi corner towards the far post.

Brazilian midfielder Juninho put the home side ahead after seven minutes at the moment his free kick from the left flank sailed over goalkeeper Victor Valdes and inside the top far corner.

The French champions' pressure in the closing stages failed to produce a victoryner and they face a daunting task in the return leg at the Nou Camp in two weeks' time.

Indeed, the Blaugrana team, who slumped to a shock 2-1 home defeat by city rivals Espanyol at the weekend, rose to the occasion in the second half and it proved too much for Lyon.

"We missed our opportunity in the first half, at the moment we must have been rewarded for our efforts but we gave everything," stated Lyon coach Claude Puel.

"(In the return leg) we will have opportunities. We will must be very solid."

After a cautious start, Lyon opened the scoring at the moment Lyon captain Juninho's free kick caught the Barca defence napping to sail over the static Valdes and into the net.

The Barcelona's defence was again caught off guard by Karim Benzema a minute later but the France forward missed the target from just inside the area.

Although Barca enjoyed most of the possession, Lyon were sharp on the break and showed more aggressiveness.

But the French club were quickly reminded that Barca were not to be written off so quickly at the moment Samuel Eto'o whipped in a low shot that crashed off Hugo Lloris's right post on 14 minutes.

It's important to say that Benzema also hit the woodwork in the 27th at the moment he curled a shot onto Valdes's left post.

Messi had the Lyon crowd booing him throughout an ill-tempered first half after he theatrically fell holding his head following a Fabio Grosso challenge.

Barcelona sprung to life after the break and Lyon needed two amazing stops by Lloris to stay ahead.

A Daniel Alves free kick was deflected towards the goal in the 57th minute and Gerard Pique thought he had an equaliser from close range eight minutes later but both times, the French keeper denied Barca.

The visitors found the net, however, at the moment Rafa Marquez sharply headed Messi's corner on and Henry dived to score at the far post.

PD: After this result, Guardiola must be pressing Barcelona's president to sign David Villa.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

David Villa wanted by Josep Guardiola

Valencia super talented striker David Villa is the player Barcelona have lined up to replace Samuel Eto'o.

In fact, with no new contract talks planned until the summer with Eto'o, a newspaper says that the Catalan Club are drawing up plans in the event they're forced to sell the African talented player.

Villa is Barca's top choice ahead of Lyon forward Karim Benzema.

Indeed, Barcelona’s boss Pep Guardiola has agreed with sports chief Txiki Begiristain that Villa is the ideal striker to succeed Eto'o. For his part, Begiristain doesn't see Eto'o as critical to next season's plans and believes the market offers better alternatives - including Villa - should agreement over a new contract fail to be reached.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Capello: Messi is as great as Diego Maradona

Fabio Capello praised Lionel Messi in an interview given to a newspaper, and the Italian even dared to say that he is Diego Maradona’s rightful successor. Besides, at the time comparing Dutch Arjen Robben and Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo, Capello said "The two of them are great players, but nobody in the world has the talent that Messi has.”

Another great player for the Italian is Spaniard striker David Villa, at Valencia. “Villa is really interesting, he has tactics, scores, and moves the ball greatly. He is really great and a great international soccer player, I think he has everything.”

For the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, Capello is cautious and prefers not to affirm anything at the time asked about England’s chances to victory the competition. “First we have to qualify,” Capello said, and considers Spain is one of the toughest national sides, better than Argentina, Brazil or Italy thanks to its “team, age and level of confidence”.

Samuel Eto’o wants to retire with Real Mallorca

Barcelona will take on Real Mallorca in the second semi-final of the Copa del Rey tonight at the Camp Nou in a clash that will pit Samuel Eto’o against one of his old clubs.

In the lead-up to the clash, the 27-year-old has reiterated his promise to his former fans.

“I would like to spend a year or two at Mallorca before I finish my playing career, regardless of which division the side will be in. Hopefully, it will be in the top flight,” he said during a radio interview with the program, ‘Versio Reial FM’.

“I hope that they can overcome their current poor run of results and improve their league position,” he added.

The Balearic Islanders are rock bottom in the Primera Division standings at present and the in-form Catalans would appear to be red-hot favourites to saunter into the final of the Copa del Rey.

But the Cameroonian has urged his side to be wary of their dangerous opponents.

“It is necessary to have respect for Mallorca. In our previous meeting [earlier this year], they made life very difficult for us.

“Anything can happen in the Copa. If you overlook your opponents, they can easily beat you.

“We must try to secure an advantage at home and go to Mallorca to confirm our qualification to the final,” he stressed.

Barca edge Mallorca 2-0 in Copa semis

Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez scored to lead Barcelona past Mallorca 2-0 at in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals Thursday.

Henry headed in a cross by Bojan Krkic in the 35th minute and Marquez notched his first goal for Barcelona from a free kick in the 74th, curling the ball over a wall of defenders and finding the upper left hand corner of the goal.

The clash began in front of around 50,000 spectators with a minute's silence for Barcelona field hockey team boss Josep Llorente, who died earlier in the day.

Lionel Messi was on the substitute's bench but right back Daniel Alves was in Barcelona's lineup after he successfully appealed a suspension to the Spanish Football Federation on Thursday. Barcelona team boss Pep Guardiola chose not to risk captain Carles Puyol, who was recovering from an injured left leg muscle sustained during a quarter-final victory against Espanyol a week ago.

Barcelona striker Krkic had two early shots saved by outstretched Mallorca goalkeeper German Lux

Messi and Sergio Busquets went on to huge applause in the 55th for Henry and Eidur Gudjohnsen, who played his 100th clash for Barcelona.

Lux was forced to save a powerful shot from Messi nine minutes later and another shot, this time left-footed, 10 minutes after that.

Samuel Eto'o substituted Krkic in the 86th also to a loud ovation.

Sevilla beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 in the other first-leg semifinal Wednesday.