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Monday, May 16, 2011

Busquets acquitted

FC Barcelona official website has today confirmed Sergio Busquets will be able to take part in the final of the Champions League on the 28th.

The Control and Disciplinary Body of UEFA had opened a case file into the alleged racist abuse which allegedly occurred during the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Camp Nou.

UEFA initiated the investigation after Real Madrid aired a video of a supposed racist action by Buesquets against its player Marcelo. The case was forwarded by UEFA’s disciplinary inspector, Jean-Manuel Leuba, seeking a penalty of five-game suspension.  Barcelona had presented its own arguments to counter the accusation yesterday.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Review: Levante 1-1 FC Barcelona – CHAMPIONS OF SPAIN!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, FC Barcelona are the official La Liga Champions for the 2010-2011 season!
This season was special. We were made fun of in the beginning of the season, after losing our first home game to Hercules in September. The doubters and haters had come out as fast as they could after the game. We were called weak, they said we were tired, that Real Madrid would trounce us this year, especially considering that Madrid were the ones who possessed the “Special One”. Yet after a brutal season, our boys have battled through every obstacle placed in front of them, and in they end, after all the smoke had cleared, OUR team stood the tallest. This is a day for all of us to be proud, We Did It!

We went into Week 36 squaring off against Levante. The Valencia based side needed to win this game just as much as we did, although a draw would have been beneficial to both teams. We needed a point in order for us to be appointed La Liga Champions, and a point for Levante would have guaranteed them a place in the Spanish top flight next season.

Guardiola clearly realized the situation, and his team selection reflected the occasion. Our coach decided to roll out with a line-up which consisted of both first-teamers and substitutes. Valdes was the goalie, while Pep chose a back-line of Alves, Mascherano, Pique, and Abidal, with a midfield consisting of Xavi, Keita, and Busquets, while our front line included Messi, Villa, and Afellay.
The beginning of the game was unusual. Bar├ža had most of the ball, while Levante had the better chances in the first 20 minutes. Weak headers, and some woeful finishing denied Levante the chance to get the opening goal of the game. Barcelona then managed to grab a hold on the match, and the best chance in the first half for Barcelona fell in the 25th minute. After winning a free kick, Xavi whipped the ball into the penalty area which Busquets almost managed to get a head to.

Two minutes after the first chance, we took the lead thanks to a brilliant pass from Xavi. After having received the ball 40 yards from the goal, Xavi turned, looked up, and spotted Keita’s 20 yard run. Our midfield general then picked out Keita with a peach of a pass, from where our number 15 managed to produce a wonderful header into the top left corner of the net.

As soon as the first goal was scored, Barcelona went back to what it does best. Keep Ball. Our next chance of the game fell to Villa, whose curling shot from the edge of the area missed the right hand corner by a couple of inches. Two minutes after this chance by Villa, Levante scored their first goal of the night. A routine ball from Javi Venta should have been cleared by Pique, but a misunderstanding between the defender and Valdes allowed Caicedo to roll the ball into the empty net. Messi then almost managed to get his first goal of the night, trying to place the ball into the top corner of the net from a 25 yard free kick, but it curled agonizingly wide from the post. With that, the half time whistle had blown.

The second half was probably one of the most boring halves of the season. The only highlights were two Messi runs, two runs which should have produced a better outcome. His first occurred in the 56th minute. He received the ball 25 yards from goal, and after having his passing options limited by the Levante defence, Messi managed to wriggle and skip past four Levante players, but his shot bounced back from the inside of the post and it was cleared to safety.

His second run saw him start from 40 yards out. After playing a one-two with Alves, Messi went on a mazy run, which saw him evade the attention of the entire Levante defense, but after some nice footwork, his shot from the edge of the area missed the goal by a matter of centimeters.

The clock ticked down to the final minutes, and other than a few substitutions, one that included Abidal getting a standing ovation from the Levante faithful, there was not much special to witness. And when the last minute of stoppage time had finished, and the referee had signaled the end of the 36th game in Barcelona’s 2010-2011 season, everyone that was associated with FC Barcelona were ecstatic, as that was the whistle that confirmed FC Barcelona as the 2010-2011 La Liga Champions.
When I wrote my first review, the review that I submitted when I applied for totalBar├ža (I picked the Barcelona-Real Madrid game), I wrote that whether or not FC Barcelona win a title this season, we were witnessing a special era. An era which saw us rack up title after title, assemble one of the greatest teams ever brought together, both on an individual and collective note, an era which saw us produce one of the greatest performances in the history of football, an era which saw three of our best players recognized as the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd best players in the world, an era which saw us witness one of the greatest ever football players to have graced the game, the list goes on…. This team is special, and they now have three La Liga titles from the last three years. I feel like crying. A part of me feels as if though, until I die, I will never be able to witness such a golden period in FC Barcelona’s history, and just for the record, I’m eighteen years old. I haven’t seen Sacchi’s Milan, I haven’t seen the great Ajax, I haven’t seen the 1970′s Brazil, I haven’t even seen our very own Dream team of the 90′s, but watching this team play makes me feel as if, though I don’t need to see all those other teams play, it makes me feel as though this team is better than all the other great teams of the years before. Enjoy this moment fellow Cules, WE did it. Oh, and did I mention, we’re also in the Champions League Final… Not bad, not bad at all… VISCA BARCA!!!!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Brazil & Real Madrid legend Ronaldo to star in Hollywood movie

Former Brazil international Ronaldo ended his football career a few months ago due to his ongoing injury problems, but the 34-year-old is now looking to broaden his horizons - by taking up acting.

The former Barcelona, Inter, Real Madrid and AC Milan striker has confirmed on his official Twitter account that he will feature in the next film from director Marcio Garcia.

"I will study the art of film as I'm determined to do a good job," he stated.

Ronaldo will play a role as a bank robber in the movie entitled 'Open Road', which will begin shooting in Los Angeles next month. Juliette Lewis will play the leading female role, while Andy Garcia and Juliana Paes will also feature.

The legendary figure follows in the footsteps of Eric Cantona and Vinnie Jones, who also moved into acting after hanging up their boots.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Uefa hand Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho five-match ban

Jose Mourinho has been handed a five-match ban and fined £44,000 by Uefa following his comments after Real Madrid's Champions League semi-final first-leg tie against Barcelona.

Real Madrid have confirmed they will appeal this decision but as Mourinho has already served one game - his side's 1-1 draw on Tuesday at Camp Nou - and one other match is a suspended sentence, the Portuguese coach will miss his next three European games.

Following Real Madrid's defeat at home to Barcelona in the semi-final first leg, which included the dismissal of Pepe, who has already served his one-game suspension, Mourinho insinuated Barcelona were favoured by Uefa, a claim which was labelled as an "inappropriate statement" by the governing body.

Barcelona goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto, who was sent off at half-time for his involvement in a scuffle at the Bernabeu, has been suspended for three games, one of which has already been served.

Real Madrid have also been fined £17,000 for the "improper conduct of their supporters" during their first-leg tie.

"Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, who was dismissed from the bench in the first leg and made an inappropriate statement at the post-match interview, has been suspended for the next five Uefa club competition matches for which he would otherwise be eligible," read a statement on Uefa's website.

"The suspension includes the one-match ban for the match following the coach's dismissal, which was served for the return leg in Barcelona on Tuesday. The fifth match is suspended for a probationary period of three years. Mourinho has also been fined €50,000 [£44,000].

"Real Madrid have also been fined €20,000 [£17,000] for the improper conduct of their supporters.

"Meanwhile FC Barcelona goalkeeper Jose Pinto, who received a red card in the first leg match in Madrid, is suspended for three Uefa competition matches, and having already served a one-match ban for the return leg, will now also be suspended for the Uefa Champions League final on 28 May and the next Uefa club competition match for which he is eligible."


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson: We are not afraid of facing Barcelona in Champions League final

Sir Alex Ferguson insists that Manchester United are not scared about the prospect of facing Barcelona in the final of the Champions League.

The Red Devils beat Schalke 4-1 in their semi-final second leg on Wednesday to win 6-1 on aggregate, setting up a final with Pep Guardiola's men at Wembley on May 28.

According to The Mirror, Sir Alex said: "I don't think we should be going into the final lacking confidence.

"Barcelona's form has been very good this season and we're playing a fantastic team.

"But they haven't got a terror against us and we can't be frightened out of our skin. We've got to find a solution to playing against them.

"We were the favourites the last time we played them. Maybe we have a little more experience, but they're certainly at their peak.

"I wish it was Brechin City or someone like that instead!

"At the start of the season, if you look to the final, you'd want to steer clear of Barcelona because their performance level is there for everyone to see.

"But our away form in Europe has been terrific and we've found a way of playing away from home. Wembley is a neutral ground, but we'll be well prepared for that game."

The Scot also admitted that he has been taking pointers from Jose Mourinho, despite the Real Madrid coach seeing his side knocked out of the competition by the Catalan club.

"I speak to Jose quite a lot," said the United boss.

"I spoke to him last week, in fact. It's not as if we haven't seen Barcelona before.

"We've played them before and watched them many times this season. But we'll take any information, because Jose is very helpful that way."

For now, however, Sir Alex has to deal with a potentially Premier League title deciding game against Chelsea, who are three points behind them and level on goal difference.

Last year the Red Devils were knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich, and went on to lose to Carlo Ancelotti's men days later before eventually losing out on the title.

"There's a massive difference now from last year after going into the Chelsea game after losing to Bayern," Sir Alex said. "In the first half of that game we were really tired, but we'll have a fresh team on Sunday and we'll go for it.

"It's not an easy decision to rest some of the players for a few days but losing to Arsenal at the weekend forced the situation."


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Arsenal set to sell Andrey Arshavin as Arsene Wenger lines up Bojan Krkic or Willian as potential replacement

The Gunners have started the process of identifying replacements for the Russian attacker, with Barcelona star Bojan Krkic and Shakhtar Donetsk forward Willian being considered as potential targets.

Arshavin has frustrated Wenger with below-par displays in another season for the north London club that is set to end without a trophy.

The 29-year-old joined Arsenal from Zenit St Petersburg for around £15 million in January 2009 and enjoyed a promising start to his career at the club.

But he has endured a mixed season, scoring just six goals in 34 Premier League appearances and being demoted to the substitutes' bench 11 times as he has struggled to influence games.

Zenit sporting director Igor Korneev has suggested he would be eager to bring Arshavin back to the Russian club, saying: "If his situation at Arsenal does not improve and he's not comfortable in London, we can study this issue in time for next season."

Wenger is a long-term admirer of Bojan, who has failed to establish himself as a regular in the Barcelona side and plays in the wide attacking role currently occupied by Arshavin.

The 20-year-old, who is currently sidelined with a knee injury, will seek talks with the Barcelona hierarchy at the end of the season before making a decision on his future.

The Spain international is under contract until 2015 but wants first-team football to develop his career after making just seven league starts and scoring only three goals for the Catalan giants so far this season.

The striker understands his chances will be limited with Lionel Messi, David Villa and Pedro ahead of him in the pecking order at Camp Nou, while the January arrival of Ibrahim Afellay has nudged Bojan even further down the pecking order.

Bojan has previously revealed his admiration for the Premier League and has been linked with a £15m move to Liverpool as well as Italian side Napoli.

An alternative target for Arsenal could be Brazilian star Willian, who is being monitored by top clubs across Europe including Chelsea and Barcelona.

After four seasons with the Ukrainian champions he is desperate to move to a major European league but Shakhtar would have to lower their £20m price tag to tempt Wenger into a summer bid.

The Gunners believe they could land the 22-year-old with a £15m offer and fellow Brazilian Denilson has encouraged the club to bring his countryman to the Emirates Stadium.

"Willian would be perfect for Arsenal,” Denilson said last month.

“I know him well from the national youth team and he had a real winning mentality even then.

“I've heard Chelsea are interested in him but I think his character could really improve our team. We need match-winners at Arsenal and knowing what he does I know he could do the same in England.

“I believe his style would fit much better at Arsenal because of the way we play football. He's definitely one of the best creative players I have played with.

“I've spoken to him and told him that he could be a success with us. I think he would definitely make our team stronger."

Monday, May 2, 2011

Real Madrid general director Jorge Valdano: We still believe we can reach Champions League final

Real Madrid general director Jorge Valdano has made it clear that the club still believe they have what it takes to eliminate Barcelona to make it to the final of the Champions League.

Jose Mourinho's men were beaten 2-0 at home in the first leg and face a tough task to overturn that defeat in the return on Tuesday.

Valdano was quoted as saying on the club's official website: "Madridistas always believe in comebacks. If there was just one team that has the habit of being heroic, it would be Real Madrid.

"Nothing should deprive us of feeling hope and excitement for Tuesday's match at Camp Nou."

Brazilian playmaker Kaka is equally positive ahead of the fifth Clasico of the season, saying: "We expect to play a great game. We have faith. Real Madrid can never give up a fight.

"We are in a complicated spot in this tie, but we'll have to go for it at Camp Nou. We're hopeful. We will try to do a good job and look for a victory."