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May 28, 2008

Messi going to OlympicsIt is strongly rumoured that Barcelona board is reportedly unhappy about Messi's decision to represent his country in Beijing Olympics. Barcelona after finishing third has to play the qualifying rounds of Champions League precisely at the same time of Olympics. Barcelona directors wants their start player, Messi to stay with the club rather than go to Beijing. Now this has become a Country versus Club battle. I have wrote about this growing conflict between clubs and country after the formation of European Clubs Association. Messi has categorically stated that he would prefer to go to Beijing and represent his country. It is also rumoured that Lionel Messi’s father has met with Barcelona director Txiki Begiristain to talk about the player’s possible involvement in this summer's Olympics. Does Barcelona really require the presence of Lionel Messi to see them through the Champions League qualification? They have enough star power to see them through regardless of the opponents. But this look like Club is keen is excising its clout to prevent him from going to Beijing. They should remember that if Messi is vital in Barcelona's plans, then it's the same with Argentina. Argentina has the right to call upon their sons to represent their country in the greatest sporting spectacle.

Now coming to the rumours section, Deco has expressed his wish to move away from Cam Nou. Everyone expected him to move to Inter to join his old manager Mourinho, but it looks like he is not in Mourinho's scheme of things. Now he has to find another destination. Villareal has rejected Barcelona's offer for Martin Caceres. Barcelona is keen to sign him but looks like has to cough up the whol 20 million euros as stipulated by the players buy-out clause. Another issue for Barcelona is signing of Alves. Dani Alves has again reitered that he wants to move towards Barcelona. But Sevilla looks like not interested, which should result in Barcelona being forced to buy him out.

Gerrard Pirue Signs For BarcelonaGerrard Pique Bernabeu signed a four year deal with Barcelona which sees him back in the club where he started his youth career. It’s rumoured that Barcelona has to pay a fee of 6 million Euros in order to sign the defender. Gerard Pique has traditionally played in the centre back but can be used as a Left Back or a Defensive Midfielder. His height should give him superiority in the air, which Barcelona is lacking for some time. Pique is the grandson of former Barcelona director Amador Bernabeu. His surname did confuse me because of the similarity with former Madrid president Santiago Bernabeu. Pique was a member of the Barcelona youth team and grew up along with Messi and Fabregas. In 2004 Barcelona was reportedly unhappy and furious with Manchester United snatching him from their hands. Pique dismissed Barcelona's frustration saying that he was ill treated by the club after he decided to move away from Barcelona. Has anybody assured him about a better treatment this time needs to know :-)?

Gerard Pique went after the money when he decided to sign for Manchester United. He actually was convinced by Ferguson to sign up for ManU ahead of Arsenal. In the next season he was loaned out to Zaragoza and stayed back in ManU getting a little bit of first team action. Ferguson considered him as a good back up for his defenders and Pep also has to use him the same way. There was huge debate among Barcelona fans circle about Barcelona not getting anything from Pique's signing with Manchester United. But now Barcelona has to cough up 6 million to get him back. Barcelona still has to sign a quality defender as a back up for injured Milito. I don't think Pique could fill in his boots. But he could be a good back up player. His buyout clause is set at 50 million baffles me, is he that good player? Anyway as far as Manchester United is considered he was a good business, they made money from him while loaning him out and now selling him to Barcelona. Is this a good trend, I don't Know?

May 27, 2008

Keita moves to BarcelonaNow its official, Seydou Keita has become the first Malian to wear a Barcelona shirt. Barcelona paid the 14 million Euros release clause in Keita's contract to Sevilla. He signed the contract which will officially see him in the club until end of June 2012. The release clause has been set at a whooping 90 million Euros. The Mali international has thus become the first signing after Guardiola took charge. He may soon see his team mate Alves joining him at Barcelona. Keita has also become the ninth African player to join Barcelona.

Keita started his top flight footballing career in 1999-2000 seasons at Olympique Marseille. But shortly he was transferred to FC Lorient, where he completed his transformation to a quality defensive midfield player. Then he moved to RC Lens in the 2002-03 seasons. The 2006-07 seasons were so productive for him in terms of goals and success - he scored 11 goals in 37 games. But Lens has to let him go reluctantly after Keita reached an agreement with Sevilla. He continued the good work in Sevilla also scoring four goals from 31 games. But his ability, skill and his track record with buy-out clauses should be the reason why Barcelona has set a huge release clause for him. Whatever this one is a quality striker. he will be able to fill into the shoes of Edmillson and cover the great void in midfield. But how Guardiola is going to use both Yaya and Keita together is to be seen. Keita and Yaya both are quality players and will demand regular first team actions. Add to this Xavi and Iniesta who will be the driving force in Midfiled, Guardiola might be in for something.

May 23, 2008

Giovani Leaving BarcelonaGiovani Dos Santos looked like a completely baffled man. At least his recent comments as quoted by media give us an impression of a very confused person. From the moment Barcelona's season started going, all the fingers started pointing on him along with Ronaldinho. It was said that he will never be able to make a switch to first team action. His hardships were increased by the fact that his colleague Bojan, who was promoted along with him, looked like cemented his position. He has scored only four goals throughout the season compared to Bojan's eleven. he could only manage ten La Liga starts compared to Bojan's fourteen. He had to wait till the last game to get into the La Liga goal books, even though he did that is style. Barcelona fans and media are searching for scapegoats at every nook and he appears to be one of their favourite now. Before the start of this season, he was linked to a number of clubs but he came forward and declared that his future is with Barcelona. At that time that was hailed by Barcelona fans and used to question Fabregas' decision. But at the end of the season it looks like Giovani might be regretting his decision.

Many Barcelona fans have already written him off as an over rated players. True that he came to the team as the next Ronaldinho; but expecting that he will turn around the fortunes of the club was too much. Everyone seems like forgetting the fact that this is his first season and not interested in giving him some breathing space. I do agree with the fact that Bojan had made more impact than Dos Santos in the first season; but how can you write him off just because his first season didn't come off that well. Bojan has been more consistent among the two and also have been more effective. But isn't it because he get a chance to play more in his natural positions. Most of his goals are from simple tap in; I do agree that he has a great positioning sense and a great goal scoring instinct. Giovani is a different player to Bojan; he fits more into the playmaker style of role than the striker. Many times this season he seemed lost when he started in the lineup. But isn't it natural in a maiden season. Even Messi in his first season gave an impression that he cannot shoot to save his life. The fact that he made his debut in a difficult season should not be held against him. Already suggestions are made to send him on loan to another club so that he can gain experience. I don't understand this theory, why Barcelona is a bad place to earn experience? Giovani has shrugged off this suggestion; many consider this as arrogance. But I would like to consider this as a testimony to his tough character. He has categorically stated that, if he leaves it will be forever. He looks like a kid with tough character and a great belief in him. If Barcelona decides to sell him in the end it would be a sad day for the club and its youth system. It also sends the wrong signals to youngsters that First team will not be accommodative for the young talents. Secondly I am totally convinced about his talents and is absolutely sure that he will make Barca pay for such a mistake. But I have a feeling Barcelona is strongly considering to sell him, otherwise with so much rumours floating Barcelona board would have backed him. Maybe they are waiting for the right price.

May 22, 2008

Usually when you think about rating the best goals of the season, there always exist a chance that you may go bad, especially with Barcelona. But not this time friends, not this time. It was pretty easy. There were only a handful of goals which can be considered, and picking the best was as easy as it gets. This is my list and if I have missed some please let me know. I have short listed three goals, with Henry, Eto and Ronnie making their presence . Its a pity I could not include the best player of this season - Iniesta in the list. The list starts in the reverse order.

3) Third in the list is Eto's goal against Mallorca in a 2-0 victory.

2) Henry features on the list at number 2 with this stunning strike against Celtic in that thrilling 3-2 victory.

1) Who can be in the top position - Ronaldinho. With this unbelievable goal against Athletico Madrid. Barcelona lost the match 4-2.

May 15, 2008

Kaka to barcelona?After a hugely disappointing season, it is not at all a surprise that Barcelona based dailies having already started speculation about which all are coming to the club. But this one was unexpected. Kaka is being linked to a move to Barcelona. El Sport have broken the story of a possible exchange, may be the biggest in any club's history which may involve Ronaldinho and Zambrotta and an additional 20 million Euros for the current world player of the year. This could be ideally another scoop by the daily to thrill their readers, as Milan have not yet showed the slightest hint of letting their hands off Kaka. Moreover they were trying to buy Ronaldinho in order to build a team which revolves around the two great Brazilians. There are indications that Barcelona might even place Deco on the discussion table to tempt Milan in to this move. Whatever, I have to admit that this is one rumour that I loved the most. I don't know whether he will come or not, but just the possibility of seeing Messi and Kaka together drives me crazy.

Another rumour, which could be turning to be true involves another Brazilian - Dani Alves.Barcelona after Dani AlvesIts absolute certain that Alves will be moving out of Sevilla this season, but the only question remains is where? Barcelona is rumoured to have tabled an offer for 25 million Euros. Last year Sevilla rejected a 36 million euro deal for him, but this year they might have to let him go as he is at the end of his contract. Sevilla will be trying to make as much as money from Alves who was bought for a mere €848,000. Real Madrid and Liverpool all are interested in him and that could make Barcelona's job tougher. Things will become more difficult if Chelsea or Manchester United enter the fray.

Another two guys who have been strongly linked to Barcelona is the French footballer of the year - Benezema and Huntelaar. Both of them are very aspiring prospects. But early indications suggest that Lyon will not let goo of Benezema that cheaply. Barcelona has to sell big in order to buy these guys. Then there is the interest in Capel and Lahm. But the worst story which is breaking out is a possible move of Eto to Tottenham. Eto is said to be unhappy about the way the Nou Camp crowd treated him last week. He was jeered whenever he got the ball and is looking for a move to premiership. Strong indications are coming about a possible offer for Messi from Chelsea. But Barcelona will not be in a mood to let him go. Ashley Cole has suggested that Messi is better than Ronaldo and would love to play along with him. Now we know why they are saying all these.

May 9, 2008

ivy7y6aydmbrt8o5qo2z.jpgI cannot remember a person who has been ridiculed more than Frank Rijkaard in the last two years, on a second thought may be George Bush. With Real Madrid humiliating Barcelona, supporters and media are jointly after him. He could be the most hated person in Barcelona at this moment. With John Laporta announcing yesterday that Rijkaard will be replaced by Pep Guardiola from July 1st; now its time to pay homage to a great gentleman and a wonderful coach who has given us so much. If you give a thought to why he is being ridiculed so much, its all his own mistakes; yes he has done enough managerial blunders, used players in unimaginable positions but that's not what I am referring to. He gave us a team which after a long time was feared and respected across the world, especially in Europe. You want proof, look at the way Manchester United (the in form most attacking team of present) played against an out of form, out of sort Barcelona. If he is being ridiculed for his managerial skills, it’s because through his initial three seasons he made us forget all the failures of the past.

Rijkaard was a legend as a player. He started his career as a Central Defender at Ajax, moved to Sporting CP then to Real Zaragoza and from their to A C Milan. It was at Milan, Rijkaard became a legend at his favorite position of Holding Midfield. He has been an inspiration to a lot of Holding Midfield players like Vierra etc. His credentials as a player was never in question but his previous managerial records were. Prior to Barcelona he coached Sparta Rotterdam, where he earned the insane reputation of taking the club to relegation first time in his history. His coaching stint with Dutch national team was a much better one, leading the side to Euro 200 semi finals. Hence, when Barcelona gave him the job in 2003-04 season there were pretty huge noises around him. Rijkaard bought Ronaldinho and Edgar Davids that season, but the rest of the squad consisted of many under achieving players who had failed to win a trophy since 1999. Those who are too critical about Rijkaard's two trophies less season should remember that this is not the first time we are suffering this. That season’s start was disappointing with many in media and fans asking for his resignation. Laporta has to be commended here for not listening to the media, particularly when the team was so close to the relegation zone. Those times ESPNSTAR never telecasted Spanish La Liga in India and the only way I could follow the game was through internet. It was heart breaking to get up every morning and read how bad your team performed. But in the second half of the season Rijkaard turned around the club. The team started wining one after another and finished second with a terrific win at Bernabeu. Still remember the Xavi goal set up by Ronaldinho in the dying moments. The next season he would completely revamped team, the old guards were let off and new players were bought in. Players like Deco, Eto, Edmillson, and Marquez combined well with Ronaldinho to win two consecutive La Liga title. The next season he became the only coach to win twice at Bernabeu when Ronaldinho destroyed Madrid. This was a feat even the likes of Cryuff, Van Gaal, Aragones could not achieve. That year he gave the most beautiful present for a Barcelona fan - the Champions League success. Frank Rijkaard with his coaching style turned Barcelona to the most respected side in history. The next two seasons was terrible with winning no trophies. I would attribute it to a lack of effort by players and blunders made by Rijkaard.

As a player Rijkaard was a very temperamental. He once even spat at Rudi Voller. But as a manager he was clam and stable. Even when he had to encounter the bad boy of football - Mourinho, he displayed unbelievable grace. In an era the basic understanding of coaching is mental destruction of opponents by pre press conference sledging, he conducted himself very well. He gave respect to his opponents, event though I believed in last two season he made a habit of taking small clubs lightly. He gave us two La Liga and One Champions league title; but his greatest achievement is the encouragement he gave to the youngsters who came out of Youth academy. He gave enough chance to youngsters; if he could not deliver a Copa Del Rey trophy it was mainly due to the fact that he saw that as a stepping stone for youngsters to the big football. In his time the likes of Messi, Iniesta, Bojan, and Giovani all came out of the youth academy. Every Barcelona fans now looks forward very enthusiastically towards club’s youth system. His last two seasons were not that great, actually terrible if we go by the first three seasons. But no one can deny the fact that he was among the most successful coach Barcelona has ever seen. When you consider this has happened with the likes of Van Gaal, Wenger, Ferguson; you have to accept that there is nothing unnatural in these failures. He might have been a little lenient in training and this could have led to his downfall. But have to sympathize with him because the same approach was giving results the earlier season. Now it’s the time to move on - for both Rijkaard and the Club. It's a responsibility for each Barcelona fans to farewell him with respect he deserved. So keep your white Handkerchiefs in the pocket and get up on your feet and applaud this wonderful gentleman and wish him all the success for the future.

As a Barcelona fan I have only one thing to say
"Thank You Frank, You've been Fabulous."

May 8, 2008

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Madrid Humiliates BarcelonaThe humiliation of applauding Madrid players on to the pitch turned out to be minute, in comparison of the humiliation suffered in the match. Madrid destroyed Barcelona with a great all round performance. The final score line is a great injustice to Madrid, yes I mean what I said - they should have won the match by a dozen goals or so. Victor Valdez should be credited with keeping the Madrid score line to just four. This Classico was built up as a last attempt by Barcelona players to restore some pride; instead the Barcelona players were not at all interested. El Classico stature came from the fact that it is the ultimate clash between two Titans - but yesterday Madrid played like a real Champion, but Barcelona's performance resembled a team which has just been promoted to first division. But the most terrible part was to see Rijkaard sitting in his seat devastated by his players performance. He has given so much to the club, he deserved a better performance. Actually its better for him that he leave this season, as this bunch of players will not stand and fight for him.

Barcelona started with Marquez partnering Puyol. Thuram should have started instead of Marquez, Gudjonsen cam in midfield with Bojan, Henry and Messi upfront. Real Madrid settled down pretty quickly and had their first shot on target in the first minute when Robben curling kick was caught by Valdez. Then in the 6th minute Valdez tried to be smart and almost gave a way the ball to the opposition in the box - he was trying to round off Raul. In the 13th minute, Raul scores after a quick exchange of passes between Sneijder, Robben and Guti. Barcelona can consider themselves lucky for the referee overlooking the foul by Guti on Marquez, but whatever that finish from Raul was simply outstanding. He curled the ball past Valdez. Then in the 17th minute, Valdez gave another scare when he spilled a good long range shot from Gago towards Raul, but he managed to somehow grab it the second time. In the 21st minute referee gave a free kick for a non existing foul by Abidal on Guti. Guti's resulting free kick was directed into the net by Robben, who simply ran across the goal mouth without getting picked up by a defender. What pathetic marking! Rijkaard tried to instill some spirit by bringing on Giovani instead of Gudjonsen. After the second Goal Messi understood that he is not going to get any support from his team mate and tried to up the tempo all by himself. That resulted in a free kick just outside the box for a foul on Messi; but as usual Henry shot that wide. In the 32nd minute, Giovani shot wide from outside the box. Casillas cannot be blamed if he has started a taking a nap by this time, he never saw the ball. Then in the 34th minute Valdez puts across an excellent save to deny Guti. Next up was Robben's turn, he turned the entire defense inside out in the box but Valdez brought in another wonderful save to deny him also. In the 45th minute Bojan wins free kick again just outside the box only for Xavi to waste it. The first half story was simple - Madrid outplayed Barcelona in every field. May be that is an exaggeration, Madrid played and Barcelona players watched that was the truth.

Everyone hoped to see a different second half. Sylvinho was brought in place of Marquez but nothing changed. In the 54th minute Puyol's and Sylvinho's terrific intervention denies Madrid of a third goal. Sylvinho gets hurt in that process and had to be replaced by Edmillson. In the 63rd minute Higuain put Madrid three nil up, when he converted from an excellent pass from Diarra. In the 69th minute Valdez brings in another save to deny this time Marcello. But then in the 77th minute referee gave a penalty to Madrid for Puyol handling the ball that was again a bit harsh. Van Nistel Rooy scores the penalty and that was his 50th league goal for Madrid. In the 80th minute Robinho who was brought in after half time makes fun of the entire Barcelona defense with his trademark step overs. Again like the last ten minute in the first half, Messi single handedly tried to challenge Madrid. in the 81st minute Messi was denied by a terrific save by Casillas. In the 86th minute Messi was again denied by Casillas after an excellent run into the box. Then in the next minute Messi provides an inch perfect through ball from which Henry scores the consolation goal for Barcelona. In the injury time Xavi picks up a second yellow card and gets himself eliminated.

With this performance and Villareal's victory early in the night, Barcelona made sure that they have to play the qualifications for the nextb season's Champions League. This timid performance also saw Victor Valdez being toppled from the top of Zamorra table deservingly by Casillas. To a great extent, this humiliation was necessary, but cannot stop sympathizing with Rijkaard. Messi needs to step up his game, more importantly understand that he alone sometimes have to turn the matches. Whenever he tried to step up the tempo all by him Madrid looked uncomfortable.

May 7, 2008

Madrid versus BarcelonaWith Real Madrid securing their League Title last week, many believe today's Classico has lost his sheen. But Spanish press will not allow such a scenario, constantly drumming out the humiliation to be suffered by Barcelona players when they have to applaud the champions. This was a title which Barcelona lost rather than Madrid won. In the mid season, this game was build up as the one which will decide the Champion, but only for Barcelona to let go all the chances Madrid has placed before them. Barcelona still could hurt Madrid by spoiling their perfect night. This is a time for Barcelona players to show some respect to Rijkaard, who very probably would be managing his last El Classico. No Barcelona manager has been successful as Rijkaard has been when it comes to Classico at Bernabeu.

The suspension to Deco and Eto could harm Barcelona's chances pretty well. Yaya Toure has been rushed back to the side, which is already missing Iniesta, Milito and Ronaldinho. Barcelona players gave a good account of themselves during the 6-0 thrashing of Valencia. They were passing fluently and that was the reason for the complete domination. But their away form is still a suspect. This match could very well turn out to be a match between Messi and Madrid. Messi has announced his intention to hurt Madrid at Barnabeu. Henry could be expected to start along with Bojan and Messi. After a long time Henry gave a fabulous performance against Valencia. Absence of Deco means Gudjonsen will partner Xavi and Toure in the midfield. The back four will be Abidal, Thuram, Puyol and Zambrotta. Pinto has been added to the squad list and would be lucky to get a taste of Bernabeu ahead of Giovani and Ezquerro.

May 6, 2008

Pep GuardiolaSpanish press has reported a story that Barcelona board has decided to replace Frank Rijkaard with Pep Guardiola. Josep Guardiola Sala, who is very fondly known as Pep Guardiola has captained F C Barcelona and Spain. He has played for Barcelona B team and the first team as a defensive midfielder. He was a prominent member of Johan Cryuff's "Dream Team". He is currently managing the Barcelona B team. It was initially rumoured that he will only be the second choice as he is not experienced enough.

Another set of rumours which are floating again links to Giovani Dos Santos. It is strongly rumoured that he may exit Barcelona as the board is looking to replace the existing attacking pair of Ronaldinho, Henry and Giovani. It is very disturbing to a Barcelona fan and one who believes in the system of developing players. It's a much more dangerous trend to compare a fresher like Giovani to the likes of seasoned players like Ronaldinho and Henry. This also might send a wrong signal to the kids coming out of youth system. I would not blame an youngster if he chose to sign for a foreign club rather than weight for Barcelona offer. After all if Giovani is sold; he alone has to be blamed for that - not because for his performance, but for his decision to stay with Barcelona.

May 5, 2008

Messi to Chelsea?Huge rumours are floating in the internet about the interest of Abramovich on Barcelona super kid Lionel Messi. The rumours say that Abramovich was so impressed by the way he played at Old Trafford and is convinced that he is the right player for the club. Most of these rumours are found in sites like goal etc so can't comment on the credibility of the news. I saw somewhere a rumour that Chelsea are ready to offer Barcelona a whooping ₤76 million for the Argentinean wizard. But the chances of Barcelona letting go Messi appears very bleak. Messi is projected as the rock on which the next superstar team would be build. But these interests should be good news for Messi - Not for the money, but for the fact that even with a mostly injury ridden season, he is still the most sought out players in the world.

Another rumour that is doing its round is the apparent interest of Wenger in another Barcelona kid - Giovanni Dos Santos. Actually this could be more damaging as Giovanni might be tempted to move away from the club, after what I perceive a very indifferent and tough treatment handed out on him by fans. There were many occasions when the fans jeered whenever he touched the ball, they tempt to forget the fact that he is playing his first season and would take some more time to settle down.

News that's doing the rounds, actually this looks more than a rumour - is the fact that Barcelona would see Gabriel Milito out for six months. There is no official confirmation about this in the official site, but I have a feeling that this might be true. The Argentinean Centre Back has damaged ligament of his right knee and would require that much time to recover. Meanwhile, Iniesta would not be seen in action for Barcelona for the rest of the games this season. It’s been rumored that he prefers to rest looking ahead to the European Championship. That's pretty normal and wise.

Barcelona vs Valencia PicturesEto - Barcelona vs Valencia PicturesBojan - Barcelona vs Valencia PicturesBojan - Barcelona vs Valencia PicturesBojan and Gudjonsen - Barcelona vs Valencia PicturesDeco and Rijkaard - Barcelona vs Valencia PicturesEto and Deco - Barcelona vs Valencia PicturesEto and Henry - Barcelona vs Valencia PicturesEto and Rijkaard - Barcelona vs Valencia PicturesHenry  and Bojan - Barcelona vs Valencia PicturesHenry and Bojan - Barcelona vs Valencia PicturesMessi - Barcelona vs Valencia PicturesMessi - Barcelona vs Valencia PicturesPuyol and Henry Congratulating Bojan - Barcelona vs Valencia PicturesPuyol, Massi and Henry - Barcelona vs Valencia Pictures

Barcelona thrashes ValenciaI actually don't know what to make out of this result. On a positive note, we can consider this as a turning point on which the next season can be build upon, or this could also be an indication of how bad the season was for a side like Valencia. Whatever; on a night in which Madrid retained the League title, Barcelona put up an impressive display against Valencia ending their goal drought but putting six across the net. One could only hope that if one of them came at that eventual night at Old Trafford. This win would have boosted the morale of Barcelona side ahead of the El Classico at Barnebeu. That match has no significance apart from the fact that Barcelona could salvage some pride by beating the champions. But the suspension to Eto and Deco could very well end up Barcelona dreams.

Barcelona got off to the best possible start when Messi won the penalty in the 4th minute. Messi made a great run, dribbling past defenders and drew the foul on him from Alexis. Valencia could consider a bit unlucky as the foul looked marginally outside the box. Messi made no mistake of the penalty and that was Barcelona’s first goal for four consecutive goal drought matches. Then in the 8th minute it was Xavi's turn to get into the score sheet. The move started with Messi placing the ball on to the patch of Henry to the left, Henry's attempt to find Messi in the centre hit the foot of defenders, Messi picked up the rebound and placed it back to Henry who by that time had moved to edge of box, he placed the ball in Xavi's path whose fierce shot from outside the box found the back of net. Then in the 14th minute Eto placed the ball into Henry’s patch who made no mistake to take Barcelona three up within first fifteen minutes. Barcelona continued to pour forward, troubling a Valencia side which looked lost. Henry saw his shot saved and Eto hit the side netting. Just before the half time, Messi could have made it four when he failed to convert a header of an excellent cross from Deco.

After the interval, Barcelona continued to probe for more goals. This made me think if they have showed the same attitude in earlier matches, we wouldn't have been sitting here with no trophies. It was Henry in the 57th minute who added the first of the second half. The move started with Eto passing the ball to Messi who placed it to Henry, Henry put the ball back into the net with the trade mark curling shot. In the 65th minute Eto was substituted with the flavour of the season - Bojan Krkic. In the 70th minute Joaquin had Valencia's first shot on Goal. Then in the 72nd minute, Bojan got into the score sheet. The move again started with Messi who placed the ball to Deco, who visionary through ball found Bojan in the box who made no mistake. Then in the 79th minute, Bojan added his second of the night from a wonderful assist by Gudjonsen from the left. Again the move started with Messi who placed a through ball to Gudjonsen spotting his run. In the 81st minute Valencia thought they had a consolatory goal but to be ruled offside.

First Half

Second Half

May 2, 2008

Txiki Begiristain, the Barcelona director of football, has given ample indications of the changes lying ahead of the team. He said and I qoute here "“The poor performances make changes an obligation”. Now we have to make an analysis, and the decisions will be made at the send of the season.Getting to Moscow would not have changed any of things we have decided. We don’t improvise, neither before, or after. Everything is ready but needs time. The changes will come in the end”. Barcelona fans and media were ringing up the decibels to see some changes in the side and if we can read between his lines then we might be inline for some big changes at the end of season. Txiki Begiristain in this interview have made it clear that its the players who need to be blamed for this abyssmal situation, not the board or the official. It would be easy for him to say that, but how much media and fans are going to buy into his assesment is a big question. Barcelona board indeed is as responsible as the players and the coach in this situation. They have let lose the players, which naturally have backfired when the players started to have off seasons. Let's take the example of Ronaldinho, he has been accused of drinking a lot and getting indulged in too much of parties and all. But the truth is he has been doing this from the begining itself. Two seasons ago also he might have partied the same way he has been doing this season. Nobody complained or raised an eyebrow then, why now? Everybody started to question his dedication when he started to have off season. The truth is Barcelona board and official never found the necessity of getting the acts together. Its easy to say that "we have a problem" when everything is going wrong, but it takes immense courage to stand up and say the same when everything was going great. if Barcelona board took a little interest in the state of affairs in the team, this moment would not have come.

When quizzed about Rijkaard's future, he has this to say "Rijkaard has done an extraordinary job, he is an honest club man. He has to find a way to end the season in a dignified fashion and remind us of the things he has won. This is the time for intensity and unity in the four remaining games.” Now that gives enough indication of where Rijkaard will be next season - Out Of The Club. But there are enough indications given that Txiki might be hitting the panic button too hard. His comments on new players who will be brought in is kind of tricky - ” It seems the club is looking for a new kind of player. The new players will have to offer immediate results. They have to be prepared, be mentally strong and able to lead and perform through difficult times”. Now that rush to turn things on its head might derail the syatem completely.

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