Llevant – FC Barcelona: Confidence boosting fightback (1

The title race is still on as Bara chalked up yet another win to stay in touch with Real Madrid, who had earlier beaten Sporting 3-1, but it was hard work for Guardiolas men, who had to come back from one down after Barkero had scored a first half penalty to give the hosts the lead. Bara were unable to pull level until the hour mark, when Messi took over, firing n a left footed drive from the edge of the box and then hammering home a brilliant penalty after Cuenca had been bundled over in the box.

Attention now switches to Wednesdays Champions League semi-final against Chelsea, with the big one against Real Madrid at the Camp Nou next weekend on the horizon.

Early control

Bara began the game seven points adrift at the top, but they showed no nerves as they set about overcoming fifth placed Levante. With Alexis and Pedro both playing wide, there might not have been a natural target man up front, but Guardiolas team were soon carving out chances, as both Pedro and Messi tested Muna and Thiago had a couple of good headed chances. The visitors were in charge, but Levantes massed defence was always going to limit the clear chances on offer.

Barkero penalty

Levante were always going to be a danger on the break though and when once such speedy break resulted in a corner, the ref blew for a penalty after Busquets handled in the box and Barkero strode up to fire past Valdes and give his team the lead. In truth, Bara then found it hard to settle into their rhythm and looked a little slow as they tried to find their way through Levantes defence for the equaliser and found it hard to create too many chances before the break.

Messi leads the fightback

At the start of the second half, Guardiola brought on Cuenca for Xavi and soon after replaced Pedro with Iniesta as he looked to dominate in the middle and open up the flanks, particularly through Cuenca, who started the move that ended in Messis equaliser on the hour mark. The Argentinean played a quick one-two on the edge of the box and curled in a great shot to set up an exciting last half hour.

Messi seals the win

Cuenca was also key to the winning goal when he was bundled over by Bothelo as he ran on to a clever return pass from Cesc. Despite the home players protestations, the ref pointed to the spot and Messi hammered the penalty home high to the keepers left for the winner. There was no way that Bara were going to let such a hard won lead slip and they controlled the game as the clock ran down to take the three point.

Guardiola: “Levante are one of the worst teams to have to fight back against"

Cardoner: We have a winning Bara

The FC Barcelona Social Area vice president said that the attitude displayed by the players after conceding the goal against Levante fills him with pride and that we have a winning Bara. He added, in the end the team proves it. Jordi Cardoner, who congratulated Levante for their attitude in tonights match, is especially satisfied with the fact that Bara have once again shown that they are capable of fighting back after conceding a goal. For the vice president, the penalties that were called at the Ciutat de Valncia were no decisive.

Thinking ahead to Baras upcoming La Liga match, the Clsico, which will be played on Saturday at the Camp Nou, Cardoner is clear that it will be a match that will win new fans over. He added I understand that nothing is said and done in La Liga until the end of the season. Lastly, in the name of FC Barcelona, the vice president offered his sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Morisini.

Bara won three valuable points at the Ciutat de Valncia to keep their La Liga title hopes alive. The team was forced to fight back from a one goal deficit against one of the teams, according to Josep Guardiola, that are one of the worst to fight back against. In the end, Bara managed to win the match 1-2, to which Guardiola said it keeps us in it, in reference to the battle with Real Madrid for the top spot of La Liga.

The manager highlighted the qualities of Baras rival: they are one of the worst team to have to fight back against. They are very well organized on defence, they have players with a lot of experience. Furthermore, theyre fantastic on the counter. After the first goal, they went back [in their own half] to defend the result. Its clear that Levante have made it to where they are now because theyve done a good job.

On how the game played out, the manager said that in the second half we opened up the field. Our objective was to score the 0-1, but after conceding a goal, we had to change some things up to win the match. Cuenca gave us amplitude. Playing a goal down against these types of teams is very complicated, and if you lose the ball they kill you. We tried to attack with everything we had and in the end we managed to get a result that keeps us in it.

First, Chelsea

Even though a lot of the attention is now on next weekends Clsico at the Camp Nou, Guardiola said that hes more eager to face Chelsea: I dont have the strength to think about it [the match against Madrid]. We have to focus on Chelsea, its a Champions League semifinal.

Its a little less impossible

He did say that the match against Madrid will be marked by the power of a team that have only lost two matches in the Liga and he anticipates a terribly difficult match. He added, if they win, its over. Well see how we come into the match. Well have to play a very good game to beat them. On Baras chances of retaining the Liga title, Guardiola said that its a little less impossible.

Messi: "It was a very difficult ground to play in, but we managed to get a fantastic result"

Training session on Sunday

Bara will hold a closed-door training session this Sunday at 12:30 at the Ciutat Esportica Sant Joan Desp. Javier Mascherano will hold a post-training press conference.

Vital victory at the Ciutat de Valncia (1-2) which allows Bara to maintain the four-point gap with Real Madrid at the top of the table. After the match, Lionel Messi, with two goals, said he was very happy to win the three points against this seasons surprise team. We knew it was a difficult ground, Levante are having a fantastic season and we managed to get a great result, said Messi while walking off the pitch.

However, the Argentine highlighted the difficulty of taking on Juan Ignacio Martnezs side: at this point in the season every team is playing for something important. These matches are very complicated.

On form and headed to London

After securing Baras 11th consecutive victory in La Liga, Messi congratulated his teammates for keeping the winning streak alive. We have to continue like this, said the Argentine, now its time to think about Chelsea, this is the most important match. It will be more difficult than the match against Levante.

La Liga goal-scoring rivalry

Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have made history in La Liga as they are both level on top of the goal scoring chart. Both players, with 41 goals apiece, have shattered the previous record in their struggle to win the Pichichi award. Despite the ongoing duel, Messi highlighted the importance of the teams success ahead of his own: things are going well for us, but whats really important is that were both fighting for La Liga title.

Im happy that I scored because the team won, concluded Messi as he walked down the tunnel that leads to the dressing rooms.

Here are the statements made by FC Barcelona players after tonights match against Levante:

Vctor Valds:

Very hard-fought victory. Im proud of the work that we did. I congratulate Levante for how they played, they are a very good team.

Pedro Rodrguez:

It was a very difficult match, we knew that it was a complicated ground to play in. They had the early advantage but we managed to fight back.

We dominated the whole match. After the penalty against us it was more difficult because they closed themselves off and their defence is very strong. For this reason it was so difficult to mount a comeback, but our insistence to play on the wings allowed the team to fight back. Were very pleased.

Were facing a very difficult week. Well work hard and prepare for our upcoming matches.

It was hard to reduce the gap with Real Madrid. Well try to prepare for next Saturday’s match well to keep our title hopes alive in La Liga. The Clsico is important to both us and them.

Cesc Fbregas:

Its clear that we can improve. It was a very difficult match but we managed it well.

Weve gained a lot of ground on Madrid. We went to the Vicente Caldern with a 13-point disadvantage and now were only 4 away. Despite it all, now its time to focus on Chelsea and forget about La Liga for a couple of days.

This was one of our most difficult away matches, but we still have a few tough matches away from home. La Liga is still out of our hands. We wont depend on ourselves even if we beat Real Madrid. There are a few matches left but the end of La Liga is still a long way off.

Bara have a great fighting spirit, were very competitive.

Thiago Alcntara:

We stopped thinking about the Liga in the second half. We gave it our all and we can now enjoy one of our most difficult victories.

This is a very complicated stadium to play in, Levante are a fantastic team.

Im willing to play in any position. The objective is to always look for the win.

The Clubs philosophy is incredible. Its a joy for us youngsters, we have to be thankful to the Club for giving us confidence.

Chelsea is a very complicated rival, theyre a historic European club. It will be a beautiful playoff.

Isaac Cuenca:

It was fairly difficult, but we knew that what we were facing when we went up against Levante. It was complicated because they let us have the wings but it was hard to get good crosses in. In the end everything worked out and we won the three points.

I believe it was a penalty, I was pushed and the linesman saw it and the referee called it.

Were going to give it our all in London to get a good result for the return leg at the Camp Nou.

Barça arrive in Valencia

Directors luncheon

As usual, Levante and FC Barcelona representatives with gather for the traditional directors luncheon before the match. On this occasion, the luncheon will take place at Nou Rac del Palmar at 15.00

The team left the Ciutat Espotiva Joan Gamper at 10.15 for El Prat Airport and arrived in Valencia at 11.55. Upon arrival the team went directly to their hotel, where they will stay until kickoff time at the Ciutat de Valncia.

The Bara expedition

Besides the 18 players named to the team for this evenings match, vice president Jordi Cardoner, board members Susana Monje and Pilar Guinovart and football director Andoni Zubizarreta travelled with the team.

Its worth noting that one of the reserve players called up by Guardiola to face Levante, Martn Montoya, turns 21 this Saturday.

Return on Sunday

The team will spend the night in Valencia. Bara will start their journey home at 10:30 and arrive in Barcelona at 11:20.

Real Madrid vs Sporting Gijon Live Match, 14-04-2012, 20:00

Real Madrid vs Sporting Gijon Live Football Match.

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Spotlight on Levante

Levante were founded in 1909 and despite living in the shadow of their bigger city neighbour Valencia, they did enjoy some success in the 1930s, reaching the Spanish Cup semi finals in 1935 after seeing off both Valencia and Bara. Levante also won the Free Spain Cup during the civil war a tournament held between teams in the Republican held territories. This competition was recognised as official by the Spanish Parliament in 2007, although the Spanish footballing authorities subsequently upheld the Francoist governments post war decision to deny it legitimacy.

Levante were named after the wind which whipped round their original beachfront ground, but after the civil war they were forced to move, eventually building the Ciutat de Valencia stadium in the late 1960s. By that time, they had made their debut in the top flight playing their first game against Espanyol in Barcelona, where they drew 4-4. They lasted just two seasons though and didnt return for nearly 40 years, finally winning promotion in the 2003/04 season under Manolo Preciado.

The team were relegated and promoted again twice during the first decade of the century, but after their last promotion in 2010, they have enjoyed two seasons of success, first under Luis Garcia who spent three years at the club between 2008 and 2011 and helped them to a 10th place finish last season, and this year under Juan Ignacio Martinez.

FORM GUIDE

Its been a great season for Levante, who have spent much of the campaign in the top four and achieved a notable win over Real Madrid during a nine game unbeaten start to the season . Their progress is particularly notable given that Levante have the lowest budget in the division 23 million Euros. Levante currently lie in fifth place on 48 points, two behind Malaga in fourth and two above sixth place Osasuna.

After a difficult January and February, when they won just one of their opening eight games of 2012, Levante have recovered and before their midweek defeat to Sporting they had won five of their previous eight games. Levante have won 9 of their 16 matches at the Ciutat de Valencia so far this season, lost 4 and drawn 3, scoring 26 goals and conceding 16.

ONE TO WATCH

Ivory Coast striker Araouna Kon is Levantes leading scorer this season, with 13 goals and Juan Ignacio Martinez will surely do everything possible to play him against Bara despite his fitness problems. The African is currently on loan from Seville, who signed him for a then record club fee of 12 million Euros from PSV in 2007.

A serious knee injury cut short his progress at Seville, who also loaned him out to Hannover in 2010, but this season he has been a key part in Levantes success and is just one goal away from becoming their highest ever goalscorer in the top flight.

Spanish League Preview, Week 33

Villarreal(35 points) currently have a seven point cushion over Zaragoza and Sporting, with Granada a further point ahead on 36 and Racing bottom on 25. Despite the bad news that their prolific striker Giuseppe Rossi, who has been out with a knee injury since last October, suffered another bad injury in training on Thursday which will rule him out for a further six months, Villarreal, who have lost just one of their last ten home games drawing with Bara, Valencia and Real Madrid and beating Malaga in that run will start favourites against the bottom club Racing with just one win in their last 16 – on Sunday.

Fellow strugglers Zaragoza could also see any hopes of a fight back dashed if they are unable to beat Granada at La Romareda, with a win virtually ensuring another season in the top flight for the visitors and possibly leaving Zaragoza with a ten point gap between them and safety.

Tough call for Sporting

Sporting Gijon have taken just 9 points from their 16 away games so far this season and a trip to the Bernabeu on Saturday night cant offer too much hope to Clementes relegation haunted side. Below the top two, Valencia(52 points) and Malaga(50) continue to battle it out for third place, with Emerys team away to Espanyol and Pellegrinis side hosting Real Sociedad.

Seville hunting down European spot

Of all the teams chasing European places behind Bara and Madrid, Seville are the only ones to have put together a consistent run of results and sit menacingly in seventh on 45 points ahead of Mondays visit to Getafe, with their next three games against Levante, Real Madrid and Betis likely to be key in deciding their European options.

Sixth place Osasuna(46 points) travel to Sevilles city rivals Betis, hoping to avoid a repeat of last weekends thrashing at Rayo, whilst Athletic Bilbao(42) are at home to Mallorca in a game that sees Joaquin Caparros return to San Mames for his first league game since he left the club last season. Atletico Madrid are level on points with Bilbao, Espanyol and Getafe and on Sunday they play their second successive Madrid derby when they travel across the city to Vallecas to take on Rayo(40 points)

Forward thinking strictly forbidden

Both Levante and FC Barcelona are within touching distance of their respective targets. The Valencian side are just two points off fourth place, which would send them through to the Champions League qualifiers, while the Catalans have managed to narrow the gap between themselves and the former runaway league leaders to just four points. Both teams come face to face at the Ciutat de Valncia tonight (22.00, TV3, La Sexta and Rdio Bara), the first game of a decisive week for Barcelona, in which they will also meet Chelsea (Wednesday 18) and Real Madrid (Saturday 21). In order to keep their title hopes alive, for the time being, the Bara players have been ordered not to even think about either of those two matches.

Alves and Piqu in but Keita out

Guardiola is glad to be able to recall both Alves and Piqu from injury, but some minor trouble with his right thigh has kept Seydou Keita out of the squad of eighteen. The Malian was the scorer of the last goal Bara scored away to Levante, just over a year ago, and which served to mathematically clinch Baras third league title in a row. Cesc, who was suspended against Getafe, also returns to a squad that also includes two Bara B players in Tello and Montoya.

Javi Venta in doubt

Javi Venta is the biggest incognito in the home squad. One of the full backs left toes was trodden upon in last Wednesdays 3-2 defeat at Sporting Gijn, and the player was unable to train on Thursday or Friday. Also absent is Del Horno, who is out until May.

Fifth placed Levante is the only team to have won at home to Real Madrid all season (1-0), while other strong sides have also been beaten at the Ciutat de Valncia, including Sevilla (1-0) and Atltico Madrid (2-0).

The Azulgrana Roundup, Week 12

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“Question: Do you have a pre-match ritual or anything you do before a game for good luck?

Xavi: No, I’m not obsessive like that. I try to concentrate and visualise the match a bit. I imagine my opponents, who will play in my area of the pitch and how the match is going to develop, but I have no superstitions.

  • Puyol shows off a new face ornament he picked up during this weekends match (this is also your hint to the following question). Caption: Do you know what this is?
  • Goal.com. KS Leong. When Iniesta strikes, his teams never lose: the World Cup heros amazing scoring record for Barcelona and Spain

Iniesta has been christened San Andres in some parts. In others he is known as the Heartbreaker thanks to his uncanny propensity to score crucial late goals to kill off an opponent, and break rival fans hearts.

En cuestin de internet siguen batiendo registros: ms de 6 millones de visitas en menos de un mes, claro que el premio merece la pena. Por si os animis os comento que el twitter chino se llama Tencent Weibo y que el Bara tiene cuenta oficial verificada con un milln de seguidores, ste es el enlace solo hay un pero comprubalo t mismo

Lionel Messi scoring 60 goals in one season is incredible, especially due to the fact that the last time anyone scored that amount of goals in one season was nearly 40 years ago, by one Gerd Muller who used to play for Bayern. Earlier than that? The 1940s and so on. The incredible thing is that its very reasonable tobelieveLionel Messi will find himself holding the record for most goals in one season in European club competition this season, with Cristiano Ronaldo not too far behind him.

Xavi is different in basic terms he is a separate type of player, preferring constant neat short passes rather than the searching long diagonals that Pirlo and Scholes favour. Furthermore, his positional development was the opposite he went from being the pivote in the Barcelona system to playing closer to goal. They asked me to get up and down and provide assists, Xavi recalls in Graham Hunter’s book Bara: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World. But it’s difficult from that [deep] position. Ten or 15 metres further up the pitch, where I play now, makes it much easier for me.

“My kids love him,” he said. “They both have Barcelona shirts with his name on the back and they like the fact I swapped shirts with him after one of our previous games.”

“Barcelona-based orthropaedic surgeon Dr. Ramon Cugat spoke to Catalan radio station Ona FM on the recovery of Ibrahim Afellay, Andreu Fonts, and David Villa, whom all appear to be well on their way to full match fitness.”

Alves and Piqué in squad

Good news for the Bara coaches. For Saturdays game away to Levante (22.00, TV3 and La Sexta), Bara have both Gerard Piqu and Dani Alves available. The two defenders have been declared fully fit following their respective muscular problems. The centre back has been missing for two league matches and the right back was out for the Getafe game.

But Seydou Keita has been left out as a precautionary measure. The Malian has been having minor thigh trouble, and therefore joins Villa, Fonts, Abidal and Afellay as an absentee. The latter has actually been given medical clearance, but has not been included in the team, while reserve players Cristian Tello and Martin Montoya do make the squad.

Congratulations for Puyol

Fridays training session at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper started with a round of applause in honour of Carles Puyols 34th birthday. Alves and Piqu both worked out normally, but Keita exercised separately due to his fitness concerns. Tello and Montoya were also there for the final session before travelling south to Valencia for Saturdays Liga fixture.