Tag Archives: barca

Barcelona reveals when Ansu Fati would return from November injury.

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Sport and others say that he was due to return to the training pitch at the start of February, but his recovery is behind schedule, and that has not happened.

Barcelona midfielder Ansu Fati has suffered a set-back in his return from injury, as reports in Spain say it will be April at the earliest before he is back on the pitch at Camp Nou.

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The 18-year-old is one of the most highly-rated young wingers in Europe and had started the season with five goals in ten appearances before a knee injury forced him off against Real Betis back in November.

The serious nature of the injury came to light in the hours after the match and it soon became apparent he would have to undergo surgery to amend the issue.

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That procedure was undertaken later in November, and the initial prognosis was that he would be out for around four months.

Fati has been out since November | Eric Alonso/Getty Images

As the season wore on, the Champions League second leg with PSG at Parc des Princes on 10 March emerged as a target date, and earlier this week, Barca boss Ronald Koeman expressed a cautious hope that this was on track – though he was reluctant to make any promises.

On Tuesday, he said (per Marca): “Hopefully he can participate [against PSG in France], but I am not sure. The most important thing is that he recovers well but I am not going to set a date.”

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Unfortunately, reports that have since come to light suggest that his cautious tone was well measured.

Sport and others say that he was due to return to the training pitch at the start of February, but his recovery is behind schedule, and that has not happened.

Acknowledging that the club do not want to commit to a date that would add pressure to the youngster, the consensus is that he won’t feature again until some time in the middle of April.

He is expected to undergo another surgery soon, and could go under the knife for a third time depending on how things progress.

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PSG on 10 March, at least, is now viewed as an impossibility, meaning Barca will have to navigate a tricky last 16 tie without one of their best attackers.

Ronaldo Koeman is hopeful Fati will return to face PSG | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

They go in in decent shape, however – while they are ten points from La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid, they remain undefeated in the league in 2021, and have won their last five on the bounce.

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#NobleSport

Barcelona to sue El Mundo over claim Messi’s contract worth €555m.

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Barcelona will take legal action against the Spanish newspaper El Mundo after it published details on Sunday of Lionel Messi’s current contract, which it says is worth up to 555 million euros ($674 million) over four years.

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Barca responded by also insisting they were not responsible for the leak, although the club did not deny the details of the report.

El Mundo say the deal signed by Messi in 2017 is the “largest in the history of sport” and called it the “colossal contract that ruins Barcelona”.

The 33-year-old could end up collecting a maximum of 555,237,619 euros before it expires on June 30 this year, if all conditions were met.

With six months left of the deal to run, “the player has already earned 511,290,052 euros, almost 92 per cent of the possible total”, the report claims.

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The leak comes as Barcelona are wrestling with a dire financial situation, worsened by the pandemic, and with Messi’s future still up in the air, given the striker can leave the club for free this summer.

“In view of the information published today in the newspaper El Mundo, in relation to the professional contract signed between FC Barcelona and the player Lionel Messi, the club regrets its publication given that it is a private document governed by the principle of confidentiality between the parties,” said Barcelona in a statement.

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– ‘Absolute support’ –

“FC Barcelona categorically denies any responsibility for the publication of this document, and will take appropriate legal action against the newspaper El Mundo, for any damage that may be caused as a result of this publication.

Sky-high price: Lionel Messi’s salary is in the spotlight J. Bassa AFP/File

“FC Barcelona expresses its absolute support for Lionel Messi, especially in the face of any attempt to discredit his image, and to damage his relationship with the club where he has worked to become the best player in the world and in football history.”

According to the report, Messi earned 115 million euros just for signing the contract in 2017 and among his potential bonuses is a 3,548,644-euro reward for winning the Champions League and 2,365,766 euros for winning La Liga, El Mundo claims.

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His club contract dwarfs those of the other top earners in global sport.

Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, last year signed the biggest contract in North American sport, worth a minimum of 450 million dollars, but it is 10 years long.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract with Juventus is worth a reported 30 million euros a year, but bonuses may have taken it up to 70 million euros last season. Ronaldo also earns more from endorsements than Messi.

Messi is set to decide in the coming months whether he wants to stay at Barcelona or leave the club he joined as a 13-year-old and where he has become arguably the greatest player of all time.

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Frustrated with Barca’s decline in recent years, the Argentinian also feels unfairly blamed for worsening performances on the pitch.

Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are the favourites to sign Messi if he chooses to leave.

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Lionel Messi eye-catching Barcelona contract ‘revealed’

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News of Messi’s contract comes just days after the club revealed their 2019/20 financial report, which showed Barcelona are facing gross debts of £1bn.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi’s current contract will see him earn £492m by the time it expires next summer, making it the biggest deal in the history of sports.

Messi became the highest-paid footballer in the world when he penned the four-year deal with Barça back in November 2017, with club officials more than happy to pay up to prevent him from walking away for free in 2018.

Rumours in the infamous Football Leaks drama in 2018 shed some light on just how much Messi would earn from that contract, but El Mundo now claim to have a copy of the paperwork which reveals the true extent of Messi’s earnings.

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It’s stated that Messi is guaranteed to take home £122m each season, but that’s not even the craziest part. There was a £102m bonus handed to the Argentine simply for signing the contract, on top of a £69m loyalty bonus he gets every season for staying at the club.

The deal also includes bonuses like more than £520,000 for winning FIFA’s The Best award, something he did in 2015 when it was known as World Player of the Year, and £3.1m if Barcelona reach the Champions League final.

With a total value of £492m, Messi’s contract is now understood to be the biggest in the history of sports, beating the £402m ten-year deal inked by Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and boxer Canelo Alvarez’s £292m five-fight deal with DAZN.

It’s prompted claims that Messi has ‘ruined’ Barcelona – something El Mundo go along with in their headline – but presidential candidate Victor Font has hit back at the idea that Messi has run the club into the ground.

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“Leo Messi has earned every euro paid to him by Barca,” Font wrote on Twitter. “He has not ruined us. On the contrary. He is the best player in history and we want him to stay with us forever more.”

Instead, others have pointed to the combined £384.5m which was spent to sign Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann, none of whom have really justified their lofty price tags at Camp Nou.

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Koeman reacts after Messi get 2-games suspension.

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Spanish Football Federation Competition Committee deemed a two-game suspension sufficient – but Barcelona have announced their intention to appeal and this has been supported by Koeman.

Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman has backed the club’s decision to appeal Lionel Messi’s suspension following the Argentinian’s red card against Athletic Club in the Supercopa de Espana final.

With Barcelona trailing 3-2 in injury time, Messi’s run was blocked off by Asier Villalibre and the forward responded by striking the Athletic Club striker round the back of the head.

The incident was not initially seen, but after the referee consulted the VAR monitor, Messi was shown a straight red card – the first of his club career.

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Despite reports suggesting the six-time Ballon d’Or winner could be slapped with up to a 12-game ban, the Spanish Football Federation Competition Committee deemed a two-game suspension sufficient – but Barcelona have announced their intention to appeal and this has been supported by Koeman.

“The club has told me that they do not agree on it and we will see,” said the Barcelona manager (via Blaugranagram.) “There are things that can be defended and it is a matter for the club, hopefully they will reduce the sanction, otherwise we will play two games without Messi.

“He has trained without problems this morning and it means that he has recovered well from the last game and will be good to play when he has to play after his suspension.”

With his two game suspension, Messi is currently poised to miss Barcelona’s Copa del Rey last 32 tie against Segunda B outfit Cornella on Thursday evening, followed by Sunday’s La Liga clash with struggling Elche.

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He would then be in contention to return the following Sunday for Barcelona’s league meeting with Athletic Club – the side against whom he initially incurred his suspension.

Barcelona currently sit third in La Liga – seven points behind leaders Atletico Madrid – after another turbulent season on and off the pitch.

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#Newsworthy

‘If Messi decides to leave Barca’ Barca will be renamed – Eto’o

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Samuel Eto’o, Messi old Barcelona team mate, chatted to NobleSports reliable source about the current situation at the club in the wake of the harrowing Bayern defeat.

Samuel Eto’o is someone who has always spoke his mind on matters close to his heart. Right from the moment he arrived in Spanish football in the late 90s, he became one of the most recognised players in LaLiga and without doubt, one of the best players and goal scorers in Barça’s history.

If anyone knows Leo Messi, it’s Eto’o – for the Cameroonian, Messi “is almost like a son”. Together, they won the Champions League in 2006 and 2009 – for several seasons, Eto’o and Messi shared happy times and not so happy moments at Camp Nou.

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Messi IS Barcelona – Eto’o
In an interview with TyC Sports, Eto’o made it clear how he feels about the bleak situation surrounding his old club. “I love Messi like he was my own son, I want the best for him. Barcelona is Messi and I think if Messi decides to leave, we’ll have to change the name of the club. We are lucky in that at Barcelona, we have the best player in the world and of all-time, we have to do everything possible to ensure he finishes his career at Barcelona,” Eto’o explained.

As for the humiliating defeat to Bayern, the African said of the players: “I really suffered myself with that defeat, not just for Leo, but for all of the lads. Someone who has never played the game will find it hard to understand, but these things exist in football – and in life too. Anyone can suffer a fall but you have to get up again and that is the most difficult part. The players, the bosses, the fans… I hope that we can lift ourselves up from this and begin to dream again for next season”.

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Twitter react after Barcelona’s defeat to Bayern Munich.

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The crazy thing about this game is that it actually started fairly evenly. Barcelona could have netted five in the first ten minutes.

They forced David Alaba into an own goal, hit the post and had a Luis Súarez shot well saved by Manuel Neuer, and it looked like we could be in for a 10-10 kind of game.

Bayern decided to hold up their side of the bargain, tearing Barça’s defence open with terrorising ease.

Barcelona fell 8-2 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-final | Pool/Getty Images

Thomas Müller, Ivan Perišić and Serge Gnabry were all on the score sheet in the first half, with Müller finding the back of the net twice to ensure that this tie was over at half time. Even at 4-1, this looked embarrassing for Barcelona.

If only we knew what was coming.

The worst was yet to come for Barça. Joshua Kimmich fired home after a run from Alphonso Davies which may very well force Nélson Semedo into an early retirement, before Robert Lewandowski beat the offside trap to head home.

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And the worst was still yet to come.

Off the bench came Philippe Coutinho – the same Coutinho who joined Barça for £142m, was deemed to be a flop and shipped out on loan to Bayern – and he scored. Twice. You can’t make this stuff up.

There’s a lot of things which won’t be forgotten quickly from this game. We’ll be talking about it for a long, long time.

However, the best thing to come out of the whole thing?

Literally three minutes before the beating began. Comedic timing at its finest.

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Messi out of UCL amid Bayern 2-8 win to Barca.

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A merciless Bayern Munich inflicted a humiliating, record defeat on Barcelona on Friday, recording a scarcely believable 8-2 victory in their Champions League quarter-final in Lisbon to leave Lionel Messi forlorn and surely hastening in the end of an era in Catalonia.

Thomas Mueller scored twice either side of goals from Ivan Perisic and Serge Gnabry in a stunning opening 31 minutes at an empty Estadio da Luz, with a David Alaba own-goal having briefly brought Barcelona back level.

Luis Suarez pulled it back to 4-2 at one point in the second half, but Barcelona then caved in, with Joshua Kimmich getting Bayern’s fifth before three more goals in the final stages, one for the prolific Robert Lewandowski and two for substitute Philippe Coutinho.

Barcelona’s German goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen reacts after conceding an eighth goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match against Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on August 14, 2020. Manu Fernandez / POOL / AFP

That was the really humiliating part for the beaten side, with Coutinho on loan in Bavaria from Barcelona, who spent huge money on signing the Brazilian in 2018.

The game was eerily reminiscent of Germany’s 7-1 destruction of Brazil in the 2014 World Cup, a game in which Mueller also played and scored.

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Germany went on to win that World Cup and Bayern look a good bet to win this Champions League, although they will surely face a sterner test in the semi-final regardless of whether it is against Manchester City or Lyon.

This was their 19th consecutive victory in all competitions, and a 28th game unbeaten for Hansi Flick’s side. They have now scored 39 goals in nine Champions League outings this season.

Bayern Munich’s German forward Thomas Mueller (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match against Barcelona at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on August 14, 2020. Rafael Marchante / POOL / AFP

– End Of An Era –
But the story of this game is Barcelona’s remarkable capitulation and the question is what happens to them now.

Messi was 27 when they last won the Champions League in 2015. He is 33 now and this game may make up his mind that he needs to finally leave the Camp Nou if he is to win it again.

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Barca have just about been here before: They were torn apart by Bayern in the 2013 semi-finals, losing 7-0 on aggregate, but this was eight goals in 90 minutes.

And with an aging team featuring six players aged 31 or older, this has to be the end of an era.

Barcelona’s Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez controls the ball during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match against Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on August 14, 2020. Manu Fernandez / POOL / AFP

Coach Quique Setien will not survive. His team, having already come second to Real Madrid in La Liga, simply could not cope with Bayern’s pressing.

Bayern went ahead in the fourth minute as Mueller controlled a ball in from the left by Perisic and played a one-two with Lewandowski to scuff a shot low past compatriot Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

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They did leave themselves open at the back and parity was restored when Alaba, in attempting to stop a Jordi Alba cross, sliced the ball over Manuel Neuer and into his own net.

For a very brief spell Barca were even on top, as Neuer was forced into a key save from Suarez and a Messi cross came back off the far upright.

But Bayern, suffocating their opponents with their pressing, went back in front midway through the first half. Gnabry won back possession on the edge of the final third before feeding Perisic, who fired past Ter Stegen and into the far corner.

That was the first of three goals in a 10-minute spell.

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Leon Goretzka’s deft touch over the top took out Clement Lenglet and Gnabry drilled home to make it 3-1. Then Mueller stole in front of Lenglet to turn in Kimmich’s delivery from the right for 4-1.

Suarez briefly gave Barca something to cling to as he controlled Alba’s ball in from the left, body swerved away from Jerome Boateng and fired home.

Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (L) challenges Bayern Munich’s German midfielder Serge Gnabry during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on August 14, 2020. Manu Fernandez / POOL / AFP

Yet there would be no comeback, as Kimmich converted Bayern’s fifth following a remarkable assist by Alphonso Davies, and then Lewandowski headed in Coutinho’s cross to make it six.

As Barcelona collapsed, Coutinho made it seven in the 85th minute at the end of a move started when Messi was robbed of possession and then had time to score another in the 88th minute.

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Arturo Vidal underestimates Bayern

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Arturo Vidal has warned Bayern Munich to expect a tougher test than usual when they face Barcelona on Friday evening.

The Chilean will go up against his former club when the two European heavyweights meet in the Champions League quarter-finals in Lisbon.

“[Friday] is the most important game of the season,” Vidal said in his pre-match press conference.

“We’re really hoping to go through.

“Bayern come into it off the back of a spectacular season – they’re cup and Bundesliga champions.

“We know that it’ll be difficult, but it’ll be a great game.

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“If we do what we have to do, we’ll go through.

“It’ll be a tight game.”

Bayern figures, such as Lothar Matthaus, have hinted that the German side are strong favourites for the clash.

“I haven’t paid much attention [to the comments] because I know the people at Bayern and what they say off the pitch isn’t what the players think,” Vidal added.

“They’re confident but they should know that they won’t be playing against a Bundesliga team [on Friday].

“They’ll be playing against Barcelona.”

Vidal also addressed the pessimism around Barcelona’s chances of progressing.

“I know that the fans have their doubts,” he continued.

“We’re the best team in the world, but we haven’t shown that on the pitch and we lost LaLiga.

“We have Leo [Messi] and other top players and we want to show that.”

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Robert Lewandowski’s recent form has seen him mentioned in the same breath as Messi.

“Lewandowski is extraordinary, tireless and very dangerous,” Vidal said about his former teammate.

“I’ve seen him grow, how he prepared and it will be really tough to mark him.

“It’s very difficult to compare him to Leo because Messi is from another planet.”

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Battle for Sancho could start between Barca and Madrid next season

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Real Madrid and Barcelona could enter the race to sign Jadon Sancho if Manchester United fail to sign him this summer, according to reports.

United have reached an impasse in their negotiations with Borussia Dortmund as the German side are demanding a fee of £108million, despite the financial impact of coronavirus.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side remain hopeful they can strike a deal but Dortmund have repeatedly insisted the forward is going nowhere after the Red Devils failed to meet their August 10 deadline.

Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc was adamant that Sancho will play for the Bundesliga side next season.

And if 20-year-old remains in Germany for the 2020-2021 campaign, NobleSports claim Barca and Real could be ready to pounce in the following summer.

Neither of the LaLiga sides are in a position to make a bid for the England international ahead of next season with both clubs feeling the economic strain of the pandemic.

Real’s president Florentino Perez confirmed they would not be making any big signings but hinted the club would be able to compete in the transfer market once their finances have recovered.

‘The situation is really bad. It’s hard to ask the players to take a pay cut to help deal with it and then make signings,’ he told El Transistor last month.

‘That can wait. Madrid will sign the best again when the situation changes.’

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Barca are also not currently in a position to seal any big transfers and would have to sell several stars in order to raise the money Dortmund are demanding.

Sancho is currently in pre-season training with Dortmund and insisted he is happy to be back with his team-mates.

Speaking to BVB-TV on Wednesday, Sancho said: ‘I love playing with this lot. It is a special bunch.

‘We’ve got some special young players coming up. I am really happy to share the pitch with them and guide them.

‘I was once in their shoes, playing with the seniors. I am happy for them.’

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Ronaldo to see out his rest of contract despite Barca links

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Although there were sensational reports that Cristiano Ronaldo might be on his way to Barcelona to link up with longtime rival Lionel Messi, it appears he will be staying at Juventus for now.

Some members of Ronaldo’s team have reportedly told NS that the rumours are ‘all false’ and that he will be remaining in Turin until the end of his contract.

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Earlier on Thursday, Spanish journalist Guillem Balague had told the NS sources that the Serie A champions are desperate to offload his massive £28million wage bill, and had offered him to the Catalans, among other elite European teams.

The Italian giants can reportedly only afford to keep one out of Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala at the club for next season due to their financial situation and their desire to bring in at least one striker, a right back and a winger.

Both Ronaldo and Dybala have contracts running until 2022 with Juventus.

However, Barcelona have also been hit hard financially by the coronavirus pandemic, and are unlikely to be able to afford such a huge name.

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A link up between Ronaldo and Messi has long been a dream of many fans. The two have been battling it out on the highest stage in football and dividing opinion as to who is the better player for over a decade.

They share eleven Ballon d’Or awards between them; Messi with six and Ronaldo with five, and have a combined 1,272 career goals.

After a hugely successful career with Real Madrid, Ronaldo joined Juventus in 2018, and has continued his impressive scoring run.

Meanwhile, Messi has spent his entire career at Barcelona, and has been the club’s talisman for over a decade.

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Barca’s incredible record: no defeats at home since 2013

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It won’t be a normal Champions League night at the Camp Nou this Saturday evening, with the match taking place at the weekend and without supporters, but Barcelona will feel comfortable when the ball gets rolling in their fortress.

Not since the 2012/13 semi-final second leg against Bayern Munich have they lost a home game in Europe’s premier competition.

That was back on May 1, 2013, and since then they’ve gone 35 home Champions League games without tasting defeat

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It’s not just that they’ve hardly lost, it’s that they almost always win as they’ve had 31 wins and four draws in that time.

Even though they lost against Osasuna in their most recent fixture at the Camp Nou, their home form in general has been good of late.

That defeat against the Pamplona-based side in the penultimate round of LaLiga Santander was Barcelona’s first home defeat of the entire 2019/20 campaign.

Now, they’ll be looking to get back to winning ways against Napoli and to make it 36 home Champions League games in a row without losing.

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To secure Barca stay, Setien needs to defeat Napoli

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It’s been 13 years since Barcelona failed to reach the Champions League quarter-finals. The last time it happened the coach survived. The same thing is unlikely to happen if they are knocked out by Napoli on Saturday night.

Frank Rijkaard’s team was eliminated at the last-16 stage by Liverpool in 2007 but the Dutch coach had delivered the league and Champions League in 2006 and kept his job for one more season. Quique Setien has no credit in the bank and will depart if Barca fail to get past Napoli.

He knows it, although he smiled at the question in Friday’s press conference saying: ‘I knew you were going to ask me that one. At no time has the thought entered my mind that this will be my last game.’

Sergio Busquets was slightly more vague when he said: ‘It’s not a decision the players will take. We have to concentrate on what happens on the pitch and if Setien continues then that is a good sign for everyone because it will mean we have done well and, why not, even have won the tournament.’

There is money at stake too, lots of it, and at a time when Barcelona need every financial injection they can get.

Based on last year’s payments the difference between winning the final and getting knocked out at the round of 16 stage can be as much as 43m (£38.9m) euros. There was a 10.5m (£9.4m) euros prize for reaching last season’s quarter-finals, 12m (£10.8m) for reaching the semis, 15m (£13.5m) for reaching the final, 4m (£3.6m) for winning it, and a further 3.5m (£3.1m) for competing in the subsequent European Super Cup.

Avoiding the soap opera of looking for the club’s second new coach inside nine months, and missing out on the kind of money that would enable them to buy half of Lautaro Martinez (it’s a start) makes this the biggest game the club has faced for a long time.

They don’t usually fail at home in this competition – they are on a run of 35 games at the Nou Camp without losing. Not since they were beaten 3-0 by Bayern Munich in 2013 have they lost at home in Europe. But there will be no supporters in the Catalan cathedral of football this time and that is not the only thing making them slightly nervous.

Barcelona’s midfield is three men down. Arturo Vidal and Sergio Busquets are suspended and Arthur Melo, sold to Juventus although still available for Barcelona, will take no part.

Setien will have to patch together a midfield made up of Frenkie De Jong, Ivan Rakitic and 20-year-old Riqui Puig.

That will put the emphasis more than ever on the forward line. Lionel Messi tends to score in the round of 16. He has 19 goals in 14 games and as ever Barcelona will need him to be at his best.

This will be his 142nd game in the competition taking him past Ryan Giggs and level with Raul. He still has three players in front of him but Xavi (151), Cristiano Ronaldo (169) and Iker Casillas (177) are all in his sights.

This is the competition that for two seasons now he has pinpointed as the priority. Barcelona need him to be at his best and for Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann to be 100 per cent alongside him.

Griezmann, whose first leg away goal gives Barcelona the slight edge, knows a big performance will also save his own first campaign at the club.

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He has endured a tough first year with criticism that he has not repaid the 120 million euros (£108m) spent on him last summer. Much of that criticism has been harsh. His goal against Napoli in February was one of 15 he managed in his first campaign and not only does that tally match Neymar’s in his first season at the club but it also leaves Real Madrid’s Eden Hazard in the shade. The forward, signed from Chelsea last summer, has only scored once.

Griezmann may not have hit the heights he reached at Atletico Madrid where he scored 21 goals in his last season under Diego Simeone, 29, 26 and 32 in the three previous campaigns, but he has scored important goals. One on Saturday night would be another in an awkward first season marred by the struggle to get on Messi’s wavelength.

Griezmann’s team-mate Suarez, with whom the Frenchman has developed a friendship off the pitch to the point where Suarez published on social media: ‘Always positive and always looking forward’, in support of Griezmann, will also be a crucial cog.

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Suarez rushed back from knee surgery to compete in the run-in. He hobbled off into a mini-break as soon as Real Madrid were crowned champions. Now the test will be to see if he comes back at his best.

If he doesn’t then with Martin Braithwaite unavailable having only been registered for La Liga it will be the 17-year-old striker Ansu Fati who Setien has to turn to.

Whether it’s the youngest Champions League goalscorer in the competition’s history (17 years and 10 days when he scored against Inter in December), the old fox Suarez, the eternally questioned Griezmann, or Mr. Reliable Messi, coach Setien will not care.

He just needs his team to get over the line (having drawn the first leg 1-1) and into the final eight in Lisbon so he can prolong his spell in charge of Barcelona and keep alive the club’s hopes of boosting the finances and saving the season.

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Who will score the first goal in today’s Barca Napoli clash

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Barcelona will face Napoli in a few hours. Which striker will score the first goal in this clash?

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Barca to only sign Lautaro based on Suarez’s dismissal

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Barcelona will only sign Inter Milan forward Lautaro Martinez if Luis Suarez leaves the club this summer, according to reports in Spain.

The Argentinian striker has been strongly linked with a move to the Camp Nou this year and is valued at around £98million by the San Siro club.

Martinez has netted 19 goals for Antonio Conte’s side across all competitions this season and is likely to be in the squad for Inter’s Europa League clash against Getafe on Wednesday night.

But according to Spanish news outlet Mundo Deportivo, the Inter Milan’s proposed transfer to Spain depends on the future of current Barcelona number 9 Luis Suarez.

The report says the Uruguayan forward has an offer on the table from Major League Soccer in America and could quit Barcelona despite scoring 16 league goals for Quique Setien’s side this season.

If Suarez decides to move on, the club are likely to move for Martinez, who they view as the long-term successor to the aging Uruguayan.

If Barcelona’s first-choice striker decides to stay at the club, Mundo Deportivo say that Martinez has an agreement to join Barcelona next summer, with 33-year-old Suarez leading the line for the 2020-21 season.

The Catalan side do not want Martinez to sit on the substitutes’ bench during his time at Camp Nou, as club president Josep Maria Bartomeu cannot afford to make another expensive mistake, following the failed impacts of Ousmane Dembele, Antonie Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho at Barcelona.

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There are concerns amongst the La Liga giants about whether they can afford the Inter Milan striker in the current economic crisis enforced by the coronavirus pandemic.

Barcelona are reportedly planning a summer clear-out of expensive stars, with players such as Coutinho and defender Samuel Umtiti linked with high-profile moves away.

They have already sold highly-rated midfielder Arthur Melo to Juventus in a £67million deal, though Barcelona also signed Old Lady midfielder Miralem Pjanic in a £54million transfer.

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‘Barca should be focused, Napoli isn’t a Joke’ – Lenglet

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Clement Lenglet has made clear that Barcelona will have to be at their best if they are to advance to the final phase of the Champions League in Lisbon.

Barcelona will take on Napoli on August 8 at the Camp Nou, with the first leg in Italy having been a 1-1 draw.

“It’s about advancing against Napoli, who are a tough team,” Lenglet told Barcelona’s club media.

“In the first leg we drew 1-1 and it’s only a small advantage [with the away goal], but I really think that we will play a great game in Barcelona to reach the next round and get a good result that will allow us to travel to Lisbon.

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“The first thing we have to do is be extremely focused, perform well and try to win to get into the last eight in Lisbon.

“Then we will have to compete 100 percent to get as far as possible in the competition.”

Dries Mertens scored Napoli’s goal in the first leg and caused problems for the Barcelona defenders, with the Frenchman recognising the Belgian’s quality.

“He’s very fast in the first three metres, can move around well and likes to run behind defenders and is lethal near goal,” Lenglet said.

“He scored a good goal in the first leg.”

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‘When Barca signed me, I was speechless’ – Trincão

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Barcelona had a busy deadline day in the January transfer window, securing the signing of Francisco Trincao, and the Portuguese midfielder has admitted that the move was such a surprise when it happened he was lost for words.

Trincao is set to arrive in Catalonia at the end of the 2019/20 season, although it’s unclear what the plans are from there with regards to a loan spell.

“When Barcelona signed me, I didn’t know what to say,” Trincao explained to Barcelona’s official website.

“I had no words, it was a hugely proud moment for myself.

“This is a very important step for me to come and play for Barcelona.”

Having only played in Liga NOS, many supporters won’t be completely clear on how Trincao operates, and thus he sought to explain his style.

“I am very strong mentally, that’s my best quality,” Trincao added.

“I look for goals and to give assists that can help the team.

“I watch back my matches to see what I have done wrong and what I did well, I’m my own benchmark, I would highlight my dribbling ability and hard work.”

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Replacing Neymar has proven a fruitless task for Los Cules as both Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho have failed to live up to expectations, whilst Antoine Griezmann is taking longer than expected to settle.

The club will hope that the same doesn’t happen with Trincao, especially if he remains with the senior team in 2020/21, which is what the player himself wants.

“Although I prefer to play on the right wing, I want to help from any attacking position,” Trincao confirmed.

“I want to play the maximum number of matches possible.

“I want to help this team to win the maximum number of titles.”

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Authur insults Barca and says he wants to leave

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Arthur Melo has reportedly informed Barcelona that he has no intention to play for the club again.

Following his transfer to Juventus, Quique Setien stopped relying on the Brazilian midfielder in the last stretch of the LaLiga Santander season.

According to Sport, Arthur has not appeared after the Barcelona squad were given the week off by his coach following the end of the LaLiga Santander campaign.

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The rest of the Blaugrana players returned and passed their coronavirus tests on Monday.

In contrast with Arthur, Miralem Pjanic’s behaviour has been exemplary at Juventus after the swap deal between the Old Lady and Barcelona was made official.

His coach Maurizio Sarri even hailed his attitude and his commitment to the team.

“I don’t know what Arthur’s situation is and I’m not interested,” Sarri said.

“Pjanic is really involved in the group.

“I have no doubts about his morality and professionalism.”

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Messi tells Barcelona to replace Setien with Biesla

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Lionel Messi has reportedly urged Barcelona to make a sensational move to prize Marcelo Bielsa away from Leeds United and become the new manager at the Nou Camp.

Barca are in a state of turmoil off the pitch after a tough season which has ramped up the pressure on current manager Quique Setien, who only took over at the club in January.

Despite leading Leeds to promotion back to the Premier League, Bielsa’s current contract is set to expire this week and is yet to agree a new one with the Yorkshire club.

And Messi wants the Catalan giants to go all out to convince the fellow Argentinian to leave England and take over at Barca, according to the Sun.

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Messi was furious with his team after they surrendered the title with a defeat against Osasuna, labelling them ‘weak and erratic’.

The report indicates Messi believes Bielsa is the man Barca desperately need to sort out the issues they have suffered from on and off the pitch this season.

The 64-year-old has worked wonders at Leeds since taking over in 2018, implementing a dominant, expansive style of play well suited to Barca’s philosophy.

Leeds missed out on promotion via the play-offs in his first season but were able to secure the move back to the promise land as champions this term.

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In a difficult season for Barca, they have seen the LaLiga title wrestled off them by bitter rivals Real Madrid while mounting financial issues means they may have to sell key players.

There is also an increasingly strained relationship with Messi and club president Josep Bartomeu with the controversial chief publicly criticising and blaming players for various problems throughout the season.

There is the added distraction of the race to become the new president, with a return for Joan Laporta a possibility.

Club legend Xavi has also been linked with a move to replace Setien as boss, though he is believed to be unconvinced by the amount of issues going on at the club.

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Barca Vs Napoli to go head to head in UCL

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In two weeks’ time, Barcelona and Napoli will go head to head for a place in the Champions League quarter-finals.

The Catalans have the edge after the first leg, with an away goal in the 1-1 draw, and the pair meet again at the Camp Nou on August 8.

While Quique Setien’s side struggled in the final weeks of the LaLiga Santander season, Napoli are also finding it difficult to pick up some form in Serie A.

“Playing like this, in this way and with this attitude, we’re not even going to bother Barcelona in the Champions League,” Gennaro Gattuso said following Napoli’s recent defeat to Parma.

Gattuso’s side restarted their season with a trophy in June, beating Juventus in the Coppa Italia, but they’ve won just one of their last four matches in Serie A.

Napoli still have to play Lazio and Inter before the Italian domestic season finishes on August 2 – less than a week before their visit to the Camp Nou.

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It’s a different story for Setien, though, who will have had almost three weeks to prepare for the game.

The Spanish coach, Lionel Messi and the rest of the Blaugrana squad have put their differences behind them for now, focused on having a successful Champions League campaign, first against Napoli and then in Lisbon.

Antoine Griezmann and Clement Lenglet will be fit for the last 16 second leg, but Barcelona will be without the suspended Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal, leaving them short in midfield.

Riqui Puig could keep his place in the starting line-up, but the Champions League is a different prospect to playing Alaves, especially when the more experienced Sergi Roberto is available.

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Barca’s outreach for reliable coach: Blanc to replace Setien

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Former France coach Laurent Blanc is one of the options being looked at by Barcelona to replace Quique Setien in the summer.

The Spaniard’s role is under threat after missing out on LaLiga Santander and the Catalans are considering alternatives, particularly if the club fails to land the Champions League.

According to L’Equipe, Blanc is a target, with sporting director Eric Abidal supporting the move.

The newspaper also maintains that Blanc is very much interested in the role after being out of the game since 2016 when he left his role as coach of Paris Saint-Germain.

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Abidal knows Blanc well as he worked under him between 2010 and 2012 with the French national team, and is familiar with his possession-based style of play which would suit Barcelona well.

Since leaving PSG, Blanc has knocked back several offers, including from Sevilla and Galatasaray in 2017, but at the age of 54 is keen to get back in to the game.

Blanc would be prepared to sign a one-year deal and would want to bring in his assistant Frank Passi alongside him.

He isn’t the only candidate however, with the French paper also reporting that Ronald Koeman is in the running and is the preferred target of club president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

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G.O.A.T – Messi for the 7th time emerges La Liga top scorer

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Lionel Messi finished as top goalscorer in Spanish La Liga for a record seventh time after netting twice as dethroned champions FC Barcelona went on a scoring spree on Sunday.

They ended their disappointing 2019/2020 campaign on a high with a resounding 5-0 win at Alaves.

Barca finished the season second in the standings on 82 points, five points behind newly-crowned champions Real Madrid who drew 2-2 at Leganes later on Sunday.

Alaves came 16th on 39.

Teenage forward Ansu Fati put Barca in front midway through the first half after the visitors hit the woodwork three times.

Messi and strike partner Luis Suarez further stretched their side’s lead before half-time.

Defender Nelson Semedo hit the fourth early in the second half before Messi struck again, to end the campaign on 25 league goals.

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The Argentina captain had four more goals than second top scorer Karim Benzema of Real Madrid.

Messi, who also finished as top marksman for a fourth consecutive season, eclipsed the benchmark he previously shared with the late Telmo Zarra.

But he said he would have rather have won the league.

“Individual prizes and objectives are secondary. It’s an important achievement to win it seven times, but I would have liked it to have been accompanied by the La Liga title,” Messi said.

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Barca’s captain had made headlines on Thursday following his angry post-match interview after the 2-1 loss to Osasuna, blasting the team as weak and inconsistent.

He also appeared to criticise the running of the club.

But he was in a happier mood after the dominant performance against Alaves.

He said the team felt more confident ahead of next month’s UEFA Champions League last 16 second leg game with Napoli, which they host with the score tied at 1-1.

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“Today we saw something else. It was a difficult game due to the situation we were in and the kick-off time and heat.

“But the team responded with a different attitude and showed great commitment,” Messi added.

“We took a long hard look at ourselves from the inside, which is what we needed to do. We have not had a good season in terms of performances or results, but today we took a step forward.

“It’s an important step for what’s coming next.”


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Setien will continue as Barca coach for now – Bartomeu

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Barcelona coach Quique Setien will stay in his job for the time being after talks with president Josep Maria Bartomeu on Friday evening.

Setien is under pressure after Barca lost 2-1 at home to Osasuna on Thursday night and fierce rivals Real Madrid claimed the title with one round still left in LaLiga.

Captain Lionel Messi gave a furious post-match interview at Camp Nou in which he called for change ahead of the Champions League next month and Bartomeu met with Setien on Friday to discuss his future.

Following those talks, Standard Sport understands Setien was told he will remain in charge for the Champions League in August, with Barca in action at home to Napoli in the teams’ last-16 second leg at Camp Nou and a possible quarter-final clash against Bayern Munich ahead after that.

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Barca face Alaves away from home in LaLiga on Sunday and will train on Monday and Tuesday, before taking five days off ahead of their European fixture.


The board hope Barca’s players and technical staff will benefit from the break and are reluctant to change coach again after already replacing Ernesto Valverde with Setien in January.

Messi had said Barcelona would need to ‘change a lot’ if they are to challenge for the Champions League, but with the competition less than three weeks away, there is little time to adapt to the ideas of another coach.


“I think Setien should continue,” Barcelona legend Carles Rexach said on Friday. “When you change the coach in the middle of the season, it’s terrible for the team.”

On Sunday at Alaves, Setien’s side have nothing to play for in terms of points or objectives in LaLiga, but the coach’s short-term future could depend on the team’s performance at Mendizorrotza.

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‘In my opinion, Barca should sack Setien’ – Rivaldo

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Former Barcelona forward Rivaldo believes that the Blaugrana should consider sacking Quique Setien before the Champions League gets back underway in August.

The Catalans still have to face Napoli in the second leg of their last-16 tie, with the score currently tied at 1-1 after the first match in Italy.

“There is a real danger of losing to Napoli,” Rivaldo told Betfair.

“As a former Barcelona player and an Azulgrana fan, I’m worried about that game and I think most Cules share that feeling.

“With Barcelona in a bad way, with their spirits affected, without fans and with the Italians throwing their weight around, I think it will be very difficult.

“Now the big issue that Barcelona have on the table is whether there should be a change of coach before the Champions League and, frankly, I think it’s a headache for president [Josep Maria] Bartomeu.

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“I think the president should think about it.

“The fans and the press are disenchanted with Setien’s work and his way of playing and that reinforces the idea that a change has to be made right now.”

For Rivaldo, Barcelona should adjust their priorities ahead of this summer’s transfer window and focus on a move for Neymar, not Lautaro Martinez.

“Lautaro Martinez’s release clause has recently expired, so Inter can now ask for more money to sell him and, apparently, they want to extend his contract and keep him at the club,” Rivaldo noted.

“For that reason, I think Barcelona should refocus on signing Neymar this summer.

“According to recent news, Leonardo might now be interested in negotiating the Brazilian star’s move from [Paris Saint-Germain].

“I believe Neymar joining Lionel Messi would help Barcelona become again that sensational team that won many titles several years ago.

“Neymar would be the best possible signing for Barcelona as he will cheer up the squad and give a nice alternative to decide matches, allowing Messi to take a rest occasionally.”

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