FC Barcelona Lassa v Real Madrid: Dramatic late win to start the series (100-99)

The team celebrates Perperoglou's late basket / PACO LARGO - FCB
Perperoglou’s basket right at the death hands Barça a dramatic victory in the first match of the series

MATCH STATS

FCB Lassa: Doellman (19), Navarro (10), Satorasnky (13), Perperoglou (18) and Tomic (14) –starting five- Abrines (7), Samuels (7), Ribas (3), Oleson (6) and Vezenkov (3).

Real Madrid: Maciulis (8), Rodríguez (6), Ayón (11), Thompkins (4) and Taylor (2) –starting five- Rudy (9), Llull (14), Carroll(21), Reyes (13), Nocioni (7) and Hernán (4).

Score by period: 22-22/25-26/33-27/20-24

Officials: Juan Carlos García, Miguel Ángel Pérez and Calatrava

FC Barcelona earned a dramatic victory in the opening match of the Endesa League final over Real Madrid at the Palau Blaugrana on Wednesday.

With the lead constantly changing hands in the closing stages, up stepped Perperoglou to hand Barça a 100-99 win to lift the roof of the Palau.

Madrid began the game rather erratically, making a number of errors and miscalculated passes, something which the home side seized upon, and after five minutes, Barça had a healthy 14-4 lead. By the end of the first quarter, however, the visitors regained their composure, bringing the score level to 22 apiece.

The response from the Catalans was just what the doctor ordered: three consecutive trebles – two from Doellman and one from Ribas – reasserted Barça’s early dominance. Yet Madrid were not willing to back down, as Carroll and Maciulis hit three-pointers of their own to edge their side one point ahead going into the break.

The difference between the two sides was almost minute. Midway through the third saw the pair go level-pegging once again, at 61-61. Trebles from Navarro and Doellman saw Barça go six points clear, only to see the lead brought back to zero by that man Carroll again, with two back-to-back threes.

The final stretch saw the lead change hands on multiple occasions. Big moments require big players, and Barça had captain Navarro to thank for a 2+1 with two minutes to go to put the team 97-95. Madrid nipped into the lead (97-98) yet the best was left until the very end. With just three seconds remaining, Perperoglou scored a spectacular basket to send the Palau into raptures and hand Barça a 1-0 series win.

The second match will take place at the same location on Friday at 7.00pm CET.

How Barça’s players fared in the 2016 Copa América group stage

Despite playing just 75 total minutes in Argentia's first three games, Lionel Messi was the star of the group stage. / FIFA.COM
Three of the four current Blaugrana players competing are still alive, including Messi, Mascherano, and Bravo

Of the four FC Barcelona players who have seen action in this summer’s Copa America Centenario, three of them are still alive as the prestigious tournament heads into the knockout phase.

Claudio Bravo of Chile, and Leo Messi and Javier Mascherano of Argentina have made it out of Group D and into the quarterfinals.

A meeting in the final is possible, where fans in the United States would be treated to a rematch of last years’ title game.

Luis Suárez was on Uruguay’s roster, but did not play a single minute due to injury. Uruguay was knocked out early after losing their first two games.

Dani Alves, who recently announced he was moving on after eight seasons defending the Blaugrana shirt, was also given an early exit, as Brazil were sent packing after receiving the shock of the tournament, losing to Peru in their third game.

Here’s a closer look at what each current Barça player did in the group stage:

Leo Messi

The Barça striker scored three goals — all in the same game — to lead Argentina to three wins in three tries. He played just 75 minutes total, as La Albiceleste beat Chile, 2–1; Panama, 5–0; and Bolivia, 3–0. A hat trick, a double nutmeg, and a near goal on a free kick were the highlights.

Javier Mascherano

The defensive midfielder was the backbone of the Argentina national team in their first two games – which he started – although he did not play against Bolivia.

Claudio Bravo

The FC Barcelona goalkeeper, and captain of the defending Copa América champions, started and played all 90 minutes of Chile’s three games in Group D. After falling to Messi and Argentina, Chile rebounded to beat Bolivia, 2–1, and Panama, 4–2.

Luis Suárez

The 2015/16 Golden Shoe winner spent the weeks prior to the Copa América recovering from a hamstring injury he sustained in Barça’s Copa del Rey final win in mid-May.

Nevertheless, he was not ready for Uruguay’s first two games, a pair of 1–0 losses to Mexico and Venezuela. With Uruguay mathematically eliminated, Suárez also sat out the team’s 3–0 win over Jamaica.

Argentina, Chile win; Copa América quarterfinal bracket set

Lionel Messi and Argentina are through to the knockout rounds at the Copa América Centenario. / FIFA
Messi and Bravo play, Mascherano sits, as both teams cruise into the last eight

A trio of FC Barcelona stars were once again in action on the same day at the 2016 Copa América.

But this time, instead of going toe-to-toe, as they did on June 6 in Santa Clara, Argentina and Chile, who were last year’s finalists, were playing on opposite sides of the country.

Argentina beat Bolivia, 3–0, at Century Link Field in Seattle, Washington. Lionel Messi did not start, but he came in for Gonzalo Higuaín in the second half and was held scoreless while managing a pair of shots on goal. Javier Mascherano, however, did not play.

Around the same time the Argentina–Bolivia game was kicking off, some 2,800 miles away (4,500km) at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Chile was putting the finishing touches on their 4–2 win over Panama.

FC Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo played all 90 minutes for Chile and turned in a clean sheet. Bravo made two saves and completed 32 of 35 pass attempts (91%).

Both teams have made it out of Group D and into the quarterfinals.

Argentina, which won Group D with 9 points after going a perfect three-for-three — including a head-to-head win over Chile —  will face Group C runners-up Venezuela in the quarterfinals. That game kicks off at 7.00pm ET on June 18 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Chile’s last eight match pits them against Group C winners Mexico, also on June 18. That game will kick off at 10.00pm ET at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Clásico to decide the league title

Satoransky and Rudy in action in a previous meeting / FCB ARCHIVE
Barça Lassa take on Real Madrid at Palau Blaugrana in the first match of the best-of-five series

The final of the Endesa League is set to get underway with FC Barcelona and Real Madrid going head-to-head in a best-of-five battle. Barça have home advantage in Wednesday’s opening game, but Real Madrid pose a strong threat with the best attack in the division, with an average 90 points per game.

It is the fifth straight final between the two teams and, so far, the wins have alternated. Real Madrid have a team full of quality individuals which means there will be plenty of interesting duels come Friday. While Llul, Rodriguez, Carroll and Ayon have been the protagonists for the side from the capital, so have Tomic, Satoransky and Perperoglou for Barça, among plenty of others.

Barça go into the round of matches in good form and have home advantage in the first game which they will be hoping can push them towards a winning start.

Andrés Iniesta, the MVP king

Iniesta MVP
The FC Barcelona captain was named the best player on the pitch in Spain’s Euro 2016 opener against Czech Republic, winning the prize in five different competitions

Despite now being one of the veterans of the squad, Andrés Iniesta’s influence remains as strong as ever, as demonstrated with another glowing display in Spain’s Group D opener against Czech Republic on Monday.

The FC Barcelona captain curled in an inch-perfect cross for club colleague Gerard Pique to head home from close range with just three minutes remaining, handing Spain a vital three points.

As well as the assist, Iniesta was the most influential player on the park, conducting the pace of the game from midfield and keeping the Czech side constantly on their toes. As a result of his performance, the 32-year-old was given the man-of-the-match award by UEFA, a prize which has become somewhat common for the midfield maestro.

Iniesta was voted the MVP of the recent Copa del Rey final win over Sevilla and has previously won the award in the Champions League and the European Super Cup at club level.

His most memorable MVP awards for Barça are the one in the European Super Cup against Porto in 2011, the Champions League final in Berlin last year, and this season’s Copa del Rey final.

On the international stage, Iniesta was voted MVP in the World Cup, in the final no less, where he scored the game’s only goal against the Netherlands in 2010 to land Spain the trophy. And two years later, in the Euro 2012 final against Italy, he was again the standout player on the field.

One month since FC Barcelona clinched Liga title

The Barça trident during the league champions' parade / MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
We look back at a memorable day when a hat-trick from Golden Shoe winner Luis Suárez sparked jubilance among the team and its supporters around the world

On May 14, Barça clinched the Liga title at Granada. One month later, this is the perfect time to remember a perfect day.

Luis Enrique came into the final match with a one-point lead on Real Madrid. Atlético Madrid, meanwhile, had lost all hope of challenging for the title after going down 2-1 at Levante the week before.

A win against Granada would have secured the title regardless of events at Riazor, where Madrid did indeed win their game.

And Barça were in full control of affairs in Andalusia. Luis Suárez put the Blaugrana ahead after 21 minutes and had extended the lead before the half-time whistle had blown.

The Uruguayan eventually made absolute certain of the title, and the Golden Shoe, with a third goal with five minutes to go.


After celebrations both on the pitch and in the dressing rooms, the party shifted to the city of Barcelona. The joy was especially intense after a season in which the title quest had looked done and dusted, but a series of adverse results in April suddenly put matters in considerable doubt.

But Barça regrouped in time and won their last five games without conceding a goal to take the domestic title for the second year in a row and the sixth time in the last eight seasons.

The final of the Copa del Rey was just a week later, but there was still time to celebrate the league triumph. The players paraded through the city on an open-top bus before switching their attentions to the cup final against Sevilla, where they would complete a famous double with an extra time win.

ESPECIAL CAMPIONS DE LLIGA

Luis Suárez’s Uruguay bow out of Copa America with 3-0 defeat of Jamaica

Luis Suárez in training prior to the game with Jamaica / AUF
FC Barcelona striker unable to feature in any of his country’s three games and leaves US dwelling on what might have been

Uruguay won their final match in Group C of the Copa America Centenario, 3-0 against Jamaica in Santa Clara with goals from Abel Hernández, Je-Vaughn Watson (own goal) and Mathias Corujo.

But it was too little, too late from the side that has won this trophy more than any other nation. They already knew before the game that they had no hope of progressing to the last eight after defeats to the two sides that do qualify: Mexico and Venezuela.

Once again, Barça striker Luis Suárez watched events unfold from the bench, and will be leaving the United States dwelling on what might have been had he not been carrying an injury sustained in the Copa de Rey final against Sevilla.

Peru hand defeat to Brazil

Uruguay was not the only major casualty of the biggest Copa America ever, which for the first time includes sixteen nations. Brazil, with former Barça man Dani Alves in the squad but Neymar Jr and Rafinha absent, have also packed their bags.

A Peruvian goal scored with the hand meant they bowed out in controversial fashion, but that did not disguise the fact USA 2016 did not see Brazil play anything like the level of football usually expected of the ‘canarinha’.

The teams that did qualify from Group B are Peru, who will now play Colombia in East Rutherford, and Ecuador who travel to Seattle to play the host nation.

Chile seeking to follow Argentina into quarters

With Uruguay and Brazil out of the picture, things are looking better than ever for Leo Messi and Javier Mascherano’s Argentina, who have looked very solid indeed with two wins out of two, including a Messi hat-trick in the 5-0 rout of Panama.

That is already enough to ensure a place in the last eight for the ‘albiceleste’, and a draw with Bolivia in their final group game tonight (CenturyLink Field, Seattle at EDT 10.00pm) would secure top spot and a game against Venezuela at Foxborough on June 18.

As long as they can avoid defeat to Panama in the game immediately before (Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia at 8.00pm EDT), then Claudio Bravo and Chile will also progress from Group D.

Unless they can oust Argentina from top spot, which is looking somewhat unlikely, a qualified Chile would face a tricky quarter-final against a Mexico side that is going to enjoy so much support at the Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara that it will effectively be a home fixture for them.

FC Barcelona and Maurice Lacroix launch ‘Juggle Challenge’

The 'Juggle Challenge' has some exclusive prizes to give away - FCB
The global campaign aims to create the biggest keep-up session and will hand out a number of unique prizes

Football is a universal language which everyone speaks and understands. Therefore, FC Barcelona Maurice Lacroix have joined forces to create the biggest community of users in the world of people doing keep-ups.

The two brands have begun the ‘Juggle Challenge’, a global campaign which gets underway on 13 June and ends on 11 July. The aim is to get football lovers to film themselves performing keep-ups with a ball, or any other object, for 15 seconds and then upload it to www.jugglechallenge.com.

Each video filmed will grow the account of Maurice Lacroix which the FC Barcelona players will launch on 13 June. The objective of the ‘Juggle Challenge’ is to create the biggest keep-up session and, therefore, a spherical mosaic will be created that the people can visualize and click on the videos of other participants. The Club and Maurice Lacroix will hand out exclusive gifts in the following categories.

Most likes

The three videos with the most likes will receive a Maurice Lacroix watch exclusively from the Pontos collection.

Creativity

The Maurice Lacroix design team will give out a special edition FCB watch (a Masterpiece, a Pontos S and an Eliros Chronographe) to the three most creative videos.

Location

A jury of experts from the Club will select the three videos filmed in the most unique locations. The winner will travel to Barcelona to enjoy an unforgettable experience. ]

 

Official announcement from FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona, comunicat institucional
The Board of Directors has decided to approve the agreement presented by the Club’s Legal Services with regard to the case surrounding the signing of Neymar Jr

The Board of Directors, which convened for an ordinary session at the Club’s offices on Monday, has decided to approve the agreement presented by the Club’s Legal Services with regard to the case surrounding the signing of Neymar Jr, currently being heard in the Courts of the Province of Barcelona.

The agreement involves the recognition by the Club of an error in tax planning for the signing of the player, for the fiscal years 2011 and 2013, when they did not not correctly withhold payments resulting from his incorporation. In addition, the Club has been exonerated from responsibility for the fiscal year 2014, which was also part of the proceedings.

The Board considers the approval of this agreement to be a positive step, one that puts an end to a situation of legal uncertainty that could have affected the viability of the Club’s sporting and economic plan in the coming years.

Given the importance of this decision, the Board has decided to subject the motion to approval at the next General Assembly of Member Delegates.

Other agreements

In addition, the Board has approved several auxiliary services contracts for the Club for the next two seasons, covering the areas of security, access control, and ball retrieval staff, among others.

The Board also approved a new FCB Escola in Ottawa, Canada, the country’s fourth, which will commence operations in October.

Piqué and Iniesta lead Spain to 1–0 Euro triumph over the Czech Republic

Gerard Piqué nods in past Petr Cech to give Spain the late lead on Monday afternoon. / UEFA
The FC Barcelona defender scores the game’s lone goal four minutes from time, heading in a cross from his Barça teammate

The Spanish national team got off to a good start at the UEFA Euro 2016 France, beating the Czech Republic, 1–0, on Monday afternoon in Toulouse. Spain thoroughly dominated from start to finish, but they were unable to beat goalkeeper Peter Cech until the 86th minute, when FC Barcelona’s Gerard Piqué headed in from close range after taking a perfectly timed cross from his Barça teammate, Andrés Iniesta.

Iniesta, who turned in a brilliant performance, was named Man of the Match. The midfielder almost singlehandedly commandeered the midfield, passing with laser-like precision and perplexing the Czech defense with bewildering changes of pace and direction that essentially put Spain on the attack for the better part of 90 minutes.

In addition to Iniesta and Piqué, their Barça cohorts Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba also started for Spain. All four played the full match. Spain, thus, leads Group D along with Ivan Rakitic‘s Croatia, which beat Turkey and Arda Turan on Sunday. Spain and Turkey square off Friday, 17 June 17 at 9.00pm CET.