Record Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi showed his superiority on Sunday as Barcelona defeated their arch rivals Real Madrid in the El classico.
Messi scored his 500th goal for the Spanish side as they dealt the Zinedine Zidane led side a blow to their La Liga title hopes.
Real were ahead in the first half as Casemiro opened scoring. Messi cancelled out the effort to level proceedings. Ivan Rakitic pushed Barca to the edge of victory then the Argentine superstar earned Real defender and skipper Sergio Ramos marching orders.
Zidane sent Columbia international James Rodriguez from the bench and he repaid the faith by equalizing with four minutes left. Then Messi struck. He scored from the last kick of the game to set Barcelona on the path of a third straight La Liga title.
Madrid were the favourites ahead of the game as their confidence overflowed. They only just defeated German champions Bayern Munich in the Champions League. They started the game at the Bernabeu very well but gradually lost control.
Samuel Umtiti clashed with Cristiano Ronaldo but despite the appeals for a spot kick, the referee waved it aside. Luis Suarez had the first attempt for the guests but the Uruguayan sent it wide. Ronaldo had his chance but Marc-Andre terStegen had a hand. Both sides were at it until Casemiro broke the deadlock as he tapped in from a Marcelo cross. Read more “ISN’T MESSI THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME?”
With a squad as deep and talented as Chelsea’s, it should come as no surprise that Jose Mourinho’s men are challenging on all fronts. Despite registering a convincing 3-1 win over Championship high flyers Derby in the League Cup on Tuesday night, topping the Premier League and strolling into the knockout stages of the Champions League, the Portuguese manager is right not to let talk of an unprecedented ‘quadruple’ creep in to Stamford Bridge. Read more “Jose Right to Play Mind Games”
Germany midfielder Mario Gotze says that the national team are not afraid of facing Spain in the upcoming friendly match. This is one of the high-profile friendlies scheduled for the team, who managed to lift the World Cup in the summer. Gotze scored the winning goal in the final against Argentina. He has come in leaps and bounds since being highly recognised for his talent at Borussia Dortmund. Germany have suffered some high profile defeats against Spain in recent years. The defeat in the Euro 2008 final was followed by a defeat in the World Cup 2010 semifinals. This has prompted talk that a victory in the match would be sweet revenge for Joachim Loew’s team.
Gotze has dispelled those talks by saying that Germany are the current world champions and that they need not fear any opposition or go into matches seeking revenge. Spain are going through a transitional period and are certainly not as strong as they once were. Manager Vicente del Bosque has called up a number of new players to the team, while he will also be missing key individuals like Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas. The Chelsea duo pulled out of the squad at the last moment citing injury problems. Spain managed to win their recent Euro 2016 qualifier against Belarus.
“Those games have nothing to do with the friendly we are about to play. We are not out for revenge. Revenge for what? We are the current world champions. We’re going to be playing against an elite team, one that has dominated world football in recent years. Competing at that level is always a special experience,” said Gotze. “We’re looking forward to this match. Against Spain it’s for certain that you meet a great opponent on a very high technical level,” said Loew to the German FA’s official site.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino says that there is little chance of the club allowing midfielder Paulinho to leave the club during the January transfer window. The Brazilian was signed after a lot of promise and he cost the London club a reported £ 16 million. After an impressive first season, he has been pushed to the sidelines. He has not been featuring regularly for Tottenham for almost a year. This is threatening to cost him his place in the Brazilian national team. As a result, it is widely speculated that Tottenham may look towards allowing the player to leave on a temporary basis with his former club Corinthians interested in him.
A move back to Brazil will help the player gets regular football under his belt. This may help him rediscover his form that made Tottenham convinced that they were making a right purchase at £ 16 million. Paulinho has been at Tottenham since 2013, but after making just six appearances this season, he is believed to be on the verge of a move. Pochettino, however, has ruled out any possibility of the midfielder rejoining the Brazilian outfit. He says that Paulinho will have a crucial role to play in the team as the season progresses and injuries take the toll on the current regulars.
“No, no Tottenham player, including Paulinho, will be loaned to Brazil. There is no chance. Paulinho arrived late, one of the last players to join the squad after the World Cup. There isn’t any problem. He is training and doing well, it’s just a technical decision,” said the Tottenham manager. Paulinho was one of the players involved with the Brazilian national team at the disastrous World Cup 2014 campaign. He was selected by the manager Luiz Felipe Scolari despite being aware that he was not a regular for Tottenham.
Former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola says that he is confident that new manager Luis Enrique will be able to emulate his achievements at the Camp Nou. Guardiola remains as one of the most successful Barcelona managers, and indeed across the world, in the last five years. The former Barcelona captain lifted several titles including two Champions League trophies with the Catalan club before joining Bayern Munich last summer. Since his departure, though, Barcelona have not done well in major competitions.
After winning the league title in Tito Vilanova’s first season at the club, Barcelona went on to lose the stranglehold on the title under Gerardo Martino last season. The club also lost its famed Champions League record where they have qualified for the semifinals consecutively for more than five years. The club quickly acted and sacked Martino from his role. They have brought in Enrique in a move that looks very similar to the way they appointed Guardiola in 2008. Enrique is also a former Barcelona captain, but he has suffered in poor spells at the likes of Roma.
Guardiola, however, says that Enrique is one of the top managers in world football and he will be able to prove that at Barcelona. The Catalan club have backed him heavily in the transfer window by spending more than £ 100 million.
“Of course he can match me at Barcelona, I think very highly of him. He will do a better job than I did. It is important for Barcelona to have its own identity again, a philosophy that we all recognise. I think we will see just that under Luis Enrique,” said Guardiola. Enrique was managing the Barcelona B team when Guardiola was in charge of the first-team. Even then, it was widely speculated that Enrique would one day replace Guardiola as the first team boss.
After a long time, there will be a fight for the first choice goalkeeper position at Barcelona. Victor Valdes kept this position in his own hands for the last decade, but the exit of the Spanish international after the end of his contract last season has marked the end of an era. Barcelona strengthened the goalkeeper position with two signings in the summer. Marc-Andre ter Stegen has been brought in from Borussia Mönchengladbach, while World Cup star Claudio Bravo has also come into the club. It is highly expected that Ter Stegen will be starting the new campaign is the number one goalkeeper.
This is despite the fact that he failed to make it into the World Cup 2014 squad with the German national team, which already has one of the best in the world – Manuel Neuer. Bravo, though, has come to the Camp Nou with the hope that he can capture the spot going into the new season. After a spectacular World Cup with the Chilean national team, he can look forward to claiming a spot right away. He has joined from Real Sociedad for around € 12 million. He has been a regular first-team player for the last seven out of the eight seasons.
“I have been surprised by many things that Ter Stegen has done. He has great quality and is already talking the native language, Catalan. [Goalkeeping youth product] Jordi Masip is also training well and knows the methodology of Barca. In my career I have never been a substitute but I have always started from scratch with my peers. Here there is a healthy competition that will help the team to be as prepared as possible. I think we both have the same chance to be a starter,” said Bravo. Barcelona’s new season starts with a pre-season match against Nice.