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Oct 27, 2010

Xavi and Iniesta

Six FC Barcelona players have made into the 23 Men shortlist of FIFA Balon d'Or. Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, David Villa, Lionel Messi and Dani Alves are the Barca team members who has made it into the list. In a World Cup year this award is believed to go to a World Cup winner and that makes Xavi Hernandez the Primier Choice to Win the Opening FIFA Balon d'Or. The final 23 men list is Xabi Alonso (Spain), Daniel Alves (Brazil), Iker Casillas (Spain), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Didier Drogba (Côte d’Ivoire), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon), Cesc Fabregas (Spain), Diego Forlán (Uruguay), Asamoah Gyan (Ghana), Andrés Iniesta (Spain), Júlio César (Brazil), Miroslav Klose (Germany), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Maicon (Brazil), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Thomas Müller (Germany), Mesut Özil (Germany), Carles Puyol (Spain), Arjen Robben (Netherlands), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands), David Villa (Spain) and Xavi (Spain). THe biggest surprise is teh absence of Diego Milito of Inter Milan in that list. But that may give an earlier indication that the performance at the World Cup is going to count the most.

A young looking FC Barcelona side strolled to a 2-0 victory against third division side AD Ceuta in their opening match of this season's Copa Del Rey tournament. Goals from Maxwell and Pedro in the first half sealed a valuable away victory, which almost see us through to the next round. In the absence of a host of first team players, Bojan Krkic captained the team. Pinto has been our choice of keeper for this competition and that continued in this match also. We had a new central defense pairing with Fontas and Batra flanked on each side by the experienced Maxwell and Adriano. The midfield was much more experienced compared to defense with Thiago, Mascherano and Keita. Jeffren, Bojan and Pedro formed the attacking trio as expected.

Oct 25, 2010

FC Barcelona will start their campaign to re-gain the Copa Del Rey tomorrow against third division side Ceuta. Guardiola has rested a host of first team starters for this away match. Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Busquets, Iniesta, Messi and Villa has been rested, meanwhile Xavi and Milito are still continuing their recovery programme. Guardiola has announced a young squad which would make the trip. The squad list is Pinto, Puyol, Abidal, Maxwell, Adriano, Mascherano, Keita, Bojan, Jeffren, Pedro, Miño, Bartra, Fontàs, Thiago, Dos Santos and Nolito.

Oct 23, 2010

FC Barcelona maintained their 100% away season reconrd with a confortable 2-0 victory over bottom placed Zaragoza. Yet again, it was Lionel Messi who scored all the goals for Barca. With this victory we go temporarily to the top of the table. Madrid is playing Racing currently and could retain the lead with a victory. Zaragoza came out with an ultra-defensive approach emphasized by a five man defense. Abidal returned to the line-up in place of Maxwell for Barca, the rest of defense remained tth same with Alves, Puyol and Pique. Xavi was rested for this encounter and so the midfield had Iniesta, Keita and Busquets. We had our usual attacking line-up of Pedro, Messia and Villa upfront.

Oct 21, 2010

A week's time is a pretty long time as far as footballing calendar is considered. Last week there were only rumours about Rooney being unhappy at the treatment by Alex Ferguson, this week its official. It may not have been yet officially declared, but the relationship between Rooney and Alex Ferguson as of now stands terminated. I was quite surprised watching the press conference of Alex ferguson. Never in my wildest dream I thought he is going to come and unofficially throw Rooney out of Manchester United. I expected him to evade questions about Rooney and expected him to work on retaining his biggest star in the background. Little did I knew it was an unofficial firing ceremony. Technically Rooney is still a Manchester United player but do anyone see him continuing after what happened this week.

FC Barcelona moved to the top of the Group D with a laboured 2-0 victory against the Danish Cahmpions, Copenhagen. Two strikes from the World Player of the Year, Lionel Messi secured a vital win for Barca. FC Copenhagen had his fair share of chances to equalise in the match and would beruining missing those moments. Xavi who was pretty much doubtful for this match made it into the substitute bench after getting the all clear from Medical staff. But Valdes was ruled out of this tie with fever. That gave Pinto a rare start in Champions League. The defense had the familiar look of Abidal, Pique, Puyol and Alves. Guardiola decided to employ an ultra defensive midfield with Maxwell, Mascherano and Busquets. The front three were - Iniesta, Villa and Messi.

Oct 19, 2010

Messi and Pique

FC Barcelona will be hosting Group D leaders FC Copenhagen tomorrow night at the Camp Nou. FC København has found themselves clear on the top of group with two wins from their two matches. When the draw was made everyone expected FC Barcelona and Rubin Kazan to go throigh this group. I thought FC København was the real weak link, but they have proven me wrong. Following the inability to win in Moscow, this is a must win match for us. A failure to win this one complicates the entire qualifying campaign. Guardiola has plenty of injury woriies to ponder on. Gabriel Milito has been ruled out for two weeks, Xavi's injury most propbably will see him miss this clash and there is also doubt about Puyol's participation. If Puyol misses out on today's match, we could see once again Abidal moving into central defense. Add to that the average form of Pique in last few matches, it is definitely a worrying prospect. Xavi's injury looks more serious for me and it may not be a bad idea to rest him for a couple of matches. Iniesta has been in good form recently and should be able to run the midfield alone.

Oct 17, 2010

Andres Iniesta

FC Barcelona produced a stunning second half display to come back from a goal down to win one of the most important match this season. After being outplayed throughout the first half, Barca came out roaring in the second hal. Iniesta and Puyol scored for Barca to negate Pablo's first half strikes. It was quite a night, first seeing we being outplayed and then we playing an absoluetly brilliant second half. For once I got my predictions spot on. Guardiola promised he would start with both Xavi and Iniesta for this match and he very well did the same. We ahd Keita, Xavi and Busquets in the middle. Iniesta partnered with Villa and Messi upfront. The defense had Puyol, Pique, Alves and Maxwell.

Oct 16, 2010

Any other season, I would have preferred the prospect of facing Valencia at home over a clash at the Mestella. But with our home form this season, I am not so sure about this one. To make matters worse this one comes straight after an international break. Our performances after a break has always been a head-ache. There is no doubt where the footbaling world will be concentrated this weekend. But I would be keeping a close eye to see how the newly laid pitch behaves. The Camp Nou pitch has been a big dissappointment since the start of this season and the Mallorca clash saw the worst of it. Luckily the staffs used the international break to lay the new pitch and I hope it holds firm. As for Valencia is concerned, they have their own issues to prove. This is their first test to see whetehr they can realistically carry on the hope of winning the titles. This will be a match that could make them from Pretenders to contenders. Valencia's last visit to Cam Nou ended with Messi bagging a hat-trick and Barca fans will be hoping once again he repeat the performance. David Villa is declared fit to face Valencia but Guardiola still has to worry about the fitness of Xavi Hernandez.

Oct 14, 2010

FC Barcelona Vice President Jordi Cardone has formally announced the decison to slam the club's door on new aspiring members from November 1st. From November 1st, only people that meet the following requirements will be able to become club members: to be a member of a first or second relation to a current member, to be under 14 or to have been a a member previously. Simply put the the family into which you are born dictates your future as a potential Barca member. This was always believed to be one of the most important action item on Sandro Rosell's agenda and has been in the back burner for some time. Many beleieved that this whole rhetoric was merely an election gimmick, but sadly Rosell proved us wrong again. He has already dealt successfully with the Honorary Presidentship awarded to Johan Cruyff. A humiliated Cryuff meanwhile had already returned the club membership and kept himself away from the deadly President. It's quite a contrast how we treat our legends compared to Real Madrid. Alfredo di Stefano was uninanimously declared the Honorary President of Real Madrid for his contribution to the club. Sandro Rosell and his team is right when they argue about the validity of Laporta's decision to bestow Cryuff with a similiar honour, but treating a legend who changed the footballing identity of the club like the way he did was unpardonable. Cryuff was humiliated and had to pay the price for being so close to sandro Rosell's eternal enemy, Joan Laporta.

Oct 12, 2010

Oct 5, 2010

Camp Nou Pitch

This season so far is a classic example of two steps forward and one steps back. Otherwise how can you explain the reality of winning comfortably against Atletico and Athletic away from home and losing against Real Mallorca and Hercules at home. Our home form this season has been a revelation in the wrong sense. Last season we struggled to impose ourselves against tough opponents away from home. This season that is not at all a problem, but getting goals and ultimately victory at home is a different prospective. We have scored only two goals at the Camp Nou and can you believe that. I mean who would have thought we would struggle to get goals at our own home camp. I am struggling to come up with reasons for the same. Yes we haven't been playing at the pace we normally play, our boys are holding up the ball for more time at times, at times we are trying to be too fanciful, but none of these should stop us from winning at home. The state of Camp Nou pitch had a role to play in the two disappoining results against Hercules and Mallorca, but that cannot be blamed alone. Atleast as far as I hear, we have already started to look to get the pitch back to perfect condition and the international break comes at the right time.

Oct 4, 2010

FC Barcelona failed to take three points from yet another home match. At this point in the season , we have only one win at home and that too a 1-0 victory against Sporting Gijon. The poor state of Camp Nou pitch can definitely be blamed for this poor form but tonight it was a case of we getting blocked by a stubborn defense. Our defending especially against aerial threats has been pretty poor this seasona and that gifted Mallorca the equaliser after Messi put us in the lead. The failure to win this game put us 4 points behind the leaders Valencia. With the absence of both Xavi and Villa, Guardiola was forced to make some changes. As expected Messi, Bojan and Pedro formed the attacking trio with Messi playing a false centre forward. Iniesta, Mascerao and keita formed the midfield. The defnse had Pique, Milito, Abidal and Alves.

Oct 2, 2010

FC Barcelona will be missing two of their biggest stars while they prepare to take on Real Mallorca at the Camp Nou. Xavi hernandez, Barca Vice-Captain has been injured and will miss this match. David Villa also will be missing this mathc courtesy of the needless red card he picked up against Athletic Bilbao. FC Barcelona's title defense will be officially back on track after that dissappointing lose against Hercules. We had two very difficult away match after that and the team has made us all proud with very hard working performances. Mallorca's last visit to Camp Nou ended for them in a 4-2 defeat. This time around also it is going to be a very difficult travel for them. At home they had been brilliant this season so far, but the same cannot be said about their away matches. Barca meanwhile will be looking to get back to winning ways after their draw at Rubin kazan. That draw was never a bad result, but still the momentum of winning has to be regained.

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