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Ivan Rakitic unveils his future at Barcelona and euro 2020 as his last for Croatia


…His Final Bow for croatia.


Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic has said he is not considering leaving Barcelona at present, while admitting that Euro 2020 could be his final tournament with Croatia.

The midfielder started the season in the cold at club level, limited largely to substitute appearances domestically, but he has slowly re-established himself into the side and become an important player in recent weeks.


Isco Alarcon,Ivan Rakitic
Speculation persists surrounding a January exit, with Barcelona thought to be keen to offload the 31-year-old, but in an interview with Croatian outlet Sportske Novosti, Rakitic would not be drawn into that conversation.

“There’s nothing to say. I think everything is clear,” he said, when asked about his Barcelona future and his recent re-instalment into the team. “It is important to me that I enjoy football, that I am happy to go to training in the morning, to prepare myself for the game in the best possible way.


“In the end, it is the coach who decides who will play and how much.”

He was pressed for comment on whether he is being forced out of the club by manager Ernesto Valverde and director of football Eric Abidal, but again would not be drawn in. His contract is up in 2021 but for now, at least, he remains focused on performing in Catalonia.

“I have nothing to say about who said what he did and did; the most important question is whether they can play in Barcelona. If I can, it’s clear to me that Barcelona is the best place for me.

Ivan Rakitic,Mikel Merino
“We will see how it will be, but I am preparing for my contribution as much as possible in the next period. I have been here for five and a half years, having lived my most significant days in Barcelona, and I am convinced that the best, in fact, in front of me.”


More telling were his quotes on his Croatia future. Rakitic has starred in a golden era for the Croatian national side, helping them to a World Cup final in 2018, but he admits that Euro 2020 – where he will take on England, the Czech Republic and one of the playoff winners – could be his final bow.

“Yes, it is possible,” he said, when asked if his final international appearance could come in the summer. “Let’s be real, that’s quite clear. We will see what and how, first of all, what ideas the menu will have. I haven’t talked to [Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic] in a while, he didn’t even call or visit me.


Botond Barath,Ivan Rakitic
“We will consider what is best, not only for me, but for the whole national team. I said I would give everything I needed for young players.

“The most important is the well-being of Croatia, we will solve the rest. Slowly. It doesn’t matter what I want, but what is best for all of us.”


#NobleSport…

Messi reveals his most iconic records

…reveals his awards and records

If there’s one man who knows a little something about breaking records, it’s Lionel Messi. The Argentine has shattered records with terrifying ease, but he believes that his status as La Liga’s all-time top scorer trumps them all.

Back on 22 November, 2014, Messi netted his 251st, 252nd and 253rd league goals in a 5-1 win over Sevilla which saw him bypass Telmo Zarra’s 251 goals – a record which had stood untouched for 55 years before Messi showed up.

Five years later and Messi currently sits on 432 goals from just 465 games. However, when he first entered the league, he endured a run of just two strikes in 18 matches, which seems almost impossible for someone like the Messi we know these days.

Speaking to mark the 90th anniversary of La Liga, Messi admitted that it was tough for him to start with, but advice from a teammate helped him pull through.

“The first few years, it was difficult for me to score goals; either I was missing or I didn’t have any luck,” he confessed. “I remember [Samuel] Eto’o told me: the day you start scoring goals it’s going to be… because you have a lot of chances and you don’t finish them. Then one day it clicked, they went in.

”Every time I go out on the pitch, I think less about the goal and more about the game.

“To be the top goalscorer in this league with what the Spanish league means is special. To be honest I think that this is one of the best records I have.”

Of those 432 goals, so many of them have come free kicks. The Barcelona man is one of the biggest threats around from set pieces and has netted more in the last five seasons on his own than many of Europe’s biggest sides.

“Recently I have been looking into it and especially in free kicks to see if they move before, if they make a small movement, if not, how they react, how they place the wall,” he revealed.

“It’s true that I am now studying this a bit more. But everything is work and training, I have been getting better with training.”

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FC Barcelona’s Team Of The Decade | 2010 – 2019

When you think of success over the past decade, you think of Barcelona.

That’s just how good La Blaugrana have been between 2010 and 2019, starting the decade with Guardiola’s tiki-taka, following that with Luis Enrique’s treble winners, and ending it with more La Liga success under Ernesto Valverde.

This has probably been the most successful era in Barça’s history and so picking just 11 players from the hundreds who have donned their colours over the past ten years is tough.

But we’ve had a try here at 90min, so enjoy Barcelona’s team of the decade…


Goalkeeper & Defenders⚽ Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GK) – Arguably Barcelona’s best signing of the decade, Ter Stegen looks a steal at the £11m La Blaugrana paid for him back in 2014. Doubts always lingered over Victor Valdes when he was in the Barcelona goal in the Guardiola era. No such doubts have persisted with the German.

⚽ Dani Alves (RB) – The most decorated player in world football, Barcelona still haven’t really found a replacement for Dani Alves since he left back in 2016. The Brazilian re-invented the role of the modern full back, placing the onus more on attacking output than defensive solidity. With two Champions Leagues for Barça this decade, the 36-year-old is a club legend.

⚽ Gerard Pique (CB) – One of the constants throughout Barcelona’s immensely successful decade, Pique made his 500th appearance for the club this year. The 32 year-old was allowed to leave Manchester United by Sir Alex Ferguson, who believed Jonny Evans was the better player. After 29 trophies in 11 years at Camp Nou, it’s fair to say he proved Fergie wrong.

⚽ Carles Puyol (CB) – Although his best days were probably behind him by the time this decade came around, it’s a testament to how good Puyol was that he still makes this XI. The Catalan was one of the finest ball playing centre halves the world has ever seen, and will go down as a Barça legend.

⚽ Jordi Alba (LB) – The £12.6m Barcelona paid for Alba will probably go down as one of the best pieces of business in football ever. The left back made the tiki-taka masters even stronger than before, and his Champions League win in 2015 was well deserved. Another great attacking full back.


Midfielders⚽ Sergio Busquets (CM) – Possibly the best deep lying playmaker the world has ever seen – though Andrea Pirlo might have something to say about that. The La Masia graduate somehow always finds space, and knows how to get Barcelona’s attacks going. A vital cog in the Guardiola machine, he has remained instrumental for Barça throughout the decade.

⚽ Andres Iniesta (CM) – What can we say that hasn’t already been said about Andres Iniesta? The little magician was at the top of his game before he left Camp Nou in 2018, and to be honest we don’t think we ever saw him give away the ball. He started the decade with Spain’s World Cup winning goal and ends it as a club and international legend.

⚽ Xavi (CM) – You almost feel sorry for Barcelona midfielders who have to play after the high standards set by Xavi Hernandez. They’ll just never be as good. A pass master, Xavi played at the highest level until the age of 35, ending his near-20 year Barça career as a Champions League winner in 2015.


Forwards⚽ Lionel Messi (RW) – In one of the most predictable things you’ll ever read on 90min.com, Messi makes it into the Barcelona team of the decade. He’d also undoubtedly make it into Barça’s all-time XI. He won another Ballon d’Or this year after netting just the 51 goals last season. Lad’s good, innit.

⚽ Luis Suarez (ST) – A rarity in this team in that Suarez was brought in for big money, rather than as a bargain or through the academy. But it’s fair to say that after his move from Liverpool in 2014, he more than delivered. The Uruguayan is the focal point Barça lacked under Tata Martino and Tito Vilanova. Oh, and by the way, he has 140 goals in 177 games. Not bad at all.

⚽ Neymar (LW) – Probably the most controversial name on this list due to the fact he left Camp Nou for PSG in 2017, Neymar was the final part of the famous MSN trio that tore up European football in the mid-2010s. Rumours are that Barça want him back to reform the attack that won them their last Champions League. We’d all like to see that.


https://www.instagram.com/fcbarcelona/?utm_source=ig_embed&ig_mid=3DADAAD7-6E5B-4F70-A341-6CEAAEF76F47

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How Lenglet defend varane’s challenge during El Clásico clash.

…penalty might have changed that

Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet has defended himself following his challenge on Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane during Wednesday’s Clásico at Camp Nou.

Though it was a high challenge inside his own penalty area, it didn’t result in a penalty being given even after a VAR check, and Lenglet insists the decision must be respected.

The game ultimately finished 0-0 in what was an incredibly dull contest between two of the most famous clubs in world football. A penalty might have changed that, but Lenglet wasn’t penalised after his studs made contact with Varane’s thigh in an effort to win a header.

Both Real coach Zinedine Zidane and captain Sergio Ramos were unhappy, with the latter in particular describing that and a separate shirt pull on Varane as ‘pretty clear’ penalties, but Lenglet stood his ground when quizzed after the game.

“For me, it’s not a penalty,” he is quoted as saying by AS when asked about his challenge.

Lenglet insists he was simply trying to win the ball with his head and any contact with Varane was for leverage in that aerial contest.

“I wanted to get the ball out with my head and give strength to my movement. I used my body and legs for that and, unfortunately, I touched Raphael’s leg,” he explained.

“I’m the protagonist and I know I’m going to clear the ball. I’m not a player who likes to kick people. But if some believe it’s a penalty, it’s up to the VAR. The VAR made a decision and must be respected.”

The result did nothing to the top of La Liga, with Barça and Real level on points – the Catalans are ahead by virtue of a marginally superior goal difference. Sevilla are five points back in third place, with none of the top three winning either of the last two league fixtures.

#Newsworthy…

9 people arrested after El clasico clash turns war.

About nine people have been arrested by police and 46 injured as Catalonia independence protesters threw rocks at police on the night of ‘El Clasico’ the much rivaled match between Barcelona and Real Madrid, which had previously been postponed due to security fears.

9 arrested after El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid turned violent  (photos)

As Barcelona played Real Madrid on Wednesday night at the Camp Nou stadium, masked protesters carrying Catalan seperatist flags in support of Catalonia independence from Spain, set bins on fire and threw glass bottles and rocks at police, who responded with foam bullets in a street outside the stadium.

The protesters, set up barricades in the middle of the street, which they then set on fire after police arrived in dozens of vans.

9 arrested after El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid turned violent  (photos)

This is the first violent protest in Catalonia region since October when Spain’s top court jailed nine Catalan separatist leaders over their role in a failed 2017 bid for independence.

9 arrested after El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid turned violent  (photos)

It should be noted that this classico match which ended 0-0 was supposed to be played in December but was postponed due to serious security concerns and on Wednesday night thousands of Catalonia protesters could be seen chanting “Independence” and “Free political prisoners”

The main goal of the protests is to get pain’s government to negotiate on Catalonia’s right to self-determination and independence from Spain and to achieve freedom for the separatists who were jailed.

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El Clasico – See reactions from fans after Real Madrid and Barcelona match.

The fixture that football fans around the world unite in to glue their eyes towards.

Over the years it has had drama, passion, two of the world’s greatest ever players regularly partaking in it, and more often than not, football of the highest order with goals galore.

Real Madrid and Barcelona have been the top two sides in La Liga for sometime, however, they do say the form book goes out of the window for derby clashes, right? Well, having not beaten La Blaugrana in the league in their last six attempts, during which time La Liga has been won twice by Barça, perhaps that isn’t so.

Either way it was sure to be an engrossing clash at Camp Nou, with both sides level pegging atop the division heading into Wednesday night’s clash.

So, who was going to start for either side? How were the teams going to setup? And…more importantly, was a golfer going to get the nod over youth?

You betcha.

https://twitter.com/ftblaxelV2/status/1207360822047072256

https://twitter.com/eemz_siphiwo

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0-0: Barcelona Struggles Against Real Madrid In El Clasico.

A disappointing Clasico ended goalless at Camp Nou on Wednesday night, keeping Barcelona at the top of La Liga despite Real Madrid producing an accomplished and disciplined performance.

Both sides went close inside the opening 30 minutes, with Karim Benzema having a shot cleared off of the line by Gerard Pique before Sergio Ramos performed a similar action to deny Lionel Messi.

The draw means Barça keep top spot ahead of the weekend, though both sides will know further slip-ups must not occur in what is set to be one of Europe’s more exciting title races in the second half of the season.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-REAL MADRID
BARCELONA

Key Talking Point

The pressure piling on Ernesto Valverde had been alleviated somewhat by a run of four La Liga victories in a row, but the draw with Real Sociedad on Saturday left Barça needing to beat Real to give themselves a more comfortable cushion at the top of Spain’s top flight.

But for the most part Barça failed to get their most influential players involved in their attacking build-up. While Messi was bright throughout, neither Luis Suarez nor Antoine Griezmann could get themselves in situations that really threatened Real.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-REAL MADRID
That’ll be concerning for Valverde, even if his side have scored ten more goals than Real in the league this season.

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Ter Stegen (7); Semedo (6), Pique (8), Lenglet (7), Alba (6); Roberto (6), Rakitic (5), De Jong (5); Messi (7), Suarez (5), Griezmann (5).

Substitutes: Vidal (6), Fati (5).

STAR PLAYER – Gerard Pique has reestablished himself as one of the world’s best centre backs after a few ropey seasons, and it was another accomplished performance from the former Spain international on Wednesday night.

Karim Benzema,Gerard Pique
His goal-line clearance early on demonstrated immense positional awareness, and he was able to ensure spells of Real pressure always ended without any firm final product.

REAL MADRID

Key Talking Point

An inauspicious start to the season seemingly ruled Real out of having a credible shot at the La Liga title, but slip-ups from other teams and a good run of form that has seen Los Blancos lose just once since October saw Real come into Wednesday night’s clash level on points with their hosts.

And given that Real’s players could have been slightly intimidated by the scenes outside Camp Nou before the game, Zidane will be relatively happy to see his side leave Catalonia with a point.

Real effectively limited Barça’s attacking output and had more than their fair share of chances, with Gareth Bale hitting the side-netting when well placed to test Thibaut Courtois in the second half, while Benzema hit the woodwork in the 64th minute.

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Courtois (6); Carvajal (7), Varane (7), Ramos (7), Mendy (6); Valverde (8), Casemiro (7), Kroos (7); Bale (6), Benzema (6), Isco (6).

Substitutes: Rodrygo (5), Modric (5).

STAR PLAYER – This Federico Valverde could be brilliant, y’know.

Antoine Griezmann,Federico Valverde
The Uruguayan has been one of Los Blancos’ standout performers so far this season in the semi-regular absence of Luka Modric, who has struggled with injury throughout the campaign and was stuck on the bench on Wednesday by Zidane.

His battle with Barcelona’s shiny, ex-Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong was one of the more intriguing battles of the evening, and it was one Valverde won for the most part, limiting the Dutchman’s forward forays to give the visitors more of a platform in midfield.

Casemiro was also instrumental in ensuring Barça were rarely able to build up too much momentum in their attacking movements during the first hour of the contest.

Looking Ahead

The two teams will play their last matches before the winter break at the weekend, with Barcelona hosting Alaves on Saturday before Real Madrid entertain Athletic Club on Sunday,

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Short History of Lionel Messi in El Clásico.

The world’s best player takes part in the world’s biggest game – at club level, at least – on Wednesday, as Lionel Messi faces Real Madrid for the 42nd time in his career.

Should he feature at Camp Nou as expected, the 2019 Ballon d’Or winner will equal Xavi Hernandez for the most appearances ever in El Clásico for a Barcelona player. However, Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, barring any last-minute injury problems, will take his own tally to 43 outings – the most of any player on either side.

Interestingly, Barça’s number 10 has actually gone three games against Real Madrid without scoring or assisting (he’s never gone on a streak of four matches) but remains the all-time top scorer in El Clásico, with 26 strikes in total – well ahead of legendary Madrid trio Alfredo di Stefano, Cristiano Ronaldo and Raúl.

All-Time Top Goalscorers – El Clásico
Club Player Liga Cup Super Cup European Total
Barcelona Lionel Messi 18 0 6 2 26
Real Madrid Alfredo Di Stéfano 14 2 2 0 18
Real Madrid Cristiano Ronaldo 9 5 4 0 18
Real Madrid Raúl González 11 0 3 1 15

Perhaps unsurprisingly, no player has more assists than Messi in the fixture’s history either (14).

First Steps

Messi’s Clásico story began way back in November 2004, when the then-17-year-old was included on the bench for a 3-0 win at Camp Nou.

An equally fresh-faced Andres Iniesta came off the bench in the second half for Henrik Larsson but Messi – who had made his La Liga debut just a month prior – watched from the dugout as Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o tore Madrid’s backline apart.

Ronaldinho,Lionel Messi

One year later, almost to the day, Messi started in his first Clásico appearance at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Now 18, Messi sparkled on the right of the front three, tormenting a side that featured David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane and Ramos – the latter of whom gave the young Argentine an early shoulder check in what would be the start of many battles to come.

Messi registered the first of his Clásico assists that day, with Eto’o almost pinching the ball off the toe of the youngster as he danced into the 18-yard-box, before poking home for the first in another 3-0 win.

First Goals

It took another 14 months for the first of Messi’s goals against Real Madrid.

In March 2007, Messi – who had missed the previous season’s fixture through injury – made up for lost time by bagging a magical hat-trick in his first-ever Clásico appearance at Camp Nou.

The 3-3 draw marked the teenage Messi’s coming of age performance in some respects, with his darting, weaving and ruthless finishing amping up the Diego Maradona comparisons all the way to 11.

As noted by Sid Lowe in the Guardian the day after the game, one newspaper ran a ‘Spot the Difference’ cartoon showing Maradona and Messi side by side, next to a caption that read, ‘Don’t kill yourself trying – there is no difference.’

Best Performances
Barcelona’s Argentinian Lionel Messi (C)

After that hat-trick, the goals continued with regularity. However, the only other hat-trick (to date) came in the barn-burning 2014 La Liga encounter at the Bernabeu, as Messi scored an 84th-minute penalty to complete his treble and seal a 4-3 win.

Among the Argentine’s most memorable displays include a double in the 6-2 humbling of Madrid in 2009, as Messi played as a ‘false nine’ to devastating effect in Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side.

“It was a plan that Pep Guardiola had come up with especially for this match in order for us to be our most effective,” Messi told FourFourTwo in 2017. “Those big matches can go either way, and I’ve been in games where we’ve conceded four goals to Real and others where we have scored six. It was a fantastic performance from the whole team. I’m not sure whether it was the best, but it’s certainly a match that we will always remember and cherish.”

In the spring of 2011 – during an ill-tempered but historic period as Guardiola’s Barcelona and Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid faced off four times in the space of three weeks – Messi again scored twice to decide the Champions League semi-final at the Bernabeu single-handedly.

His magnificent solo effort as he takes the ball of Sergio Busquets’ toe and jets past Lassana Diarra, Ramos, Raul Albiol and Marcelo before sliding past Iker Casillas remains one of the great Champions League goals.

Undoubtedly, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s other standout moment in Clásico history came in 2017 as he lashed in a 92nd-minute winner to secure a 3-2 win at the Bernabeu, before celebrating by holding his shirt up and presenting it to the crowd.

Barcelona lost out in La Liga and the Champions League that year with Real Madrid taking both, but Messi had proved a point on an individual level. He was the king of the Clásico.

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Home or Away

Perhaps curiously, 15 of Messi’s 26 Clásico goals (11 out of 18 in La Liga) have come at the Bernabeu, which has been a happy hunting ground for the world’s best player.

Messi’s apparent preference for playing away against Madrid is shared by the rest of the Barça team with the club’s best results in recent seasons often coming away from home.

Curiously, Messi has scored just once at home against Real Madrid since 2012 (excluding the Supercopa). Perhaps even more bizarrely, the last time he netted in a home league victory in El Clásico? 2008.

Messi told MARCA prior to December’s Clásico: “When we play at the Bernabeu, many more spaces are generated. They attack us more because they have the obligation as the host team and people push them for that.

“At the Camp Nou they play another type of match, sitting a little further back, they are closer together and hit on the counter-attack because they have very fast players up front. At the Bernabeu we play 90 minutes equally. Here the game becomes more locked and is more complicated.”

Real Madrid v Galatasaray: Group A – UEFA Champions League

With nothing separating Barça and Real at the top of La Liga and the winter break to follow, Wednesday’s meeting has extra bite – as if it needed it amid the off-field issues involving the rescheduling of the fixture and the threat of further disruption caused by the ‘Tsunami Democràtic’ planned protests.

On the pitch, Barcelona also have the chance to overtake Real Madrid in the head-to-head record for the most La Liga wins in Clásico history (currently both teams have 72 wins).

Wednesday promises to be a historic encounter for one reason or another.

It would be unusual if Messi didn’t have a say.

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Five reasons why Barcelona will win Real Madrid in El Clasico.

Barcelona and Real Madrid will lock horns tonight in what is easily the most watched league game in the world. Initially, the two Spanish giants were expected to lock horns together by October but the match was rescheduled due to security concerns in Catalonia.

Both sides are levelled on the same points with the goal difference separating them. These are strong reasons why the Catalans, who are at home, may defeat the Los Blancos:

* Lionel Messi factor

Barcelona captain, Lionel Messi, will play a crucial role in his team winning the match. Over the past years, the Argentinian has produced fantastic performances and scored some incredible goals against Madrid. When Messi is at his best, it is difficult to put a stop to him from producing great play, scoring and assisting a goal. The coach of Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane will look for possible ways to stop the Barcelona number 10 from being at his possible best. He is the highest goal scorer of El Clasico with 26 to his credit.

*Recent victories

The El Clasico match has produced so many goals between these two top Spanish teams. In the last three outings between these two teams, Barcelona has always edged them.
In the Copa Del Rey semi final match back in March, the Catalan giants and Los Blancos played a 1-1 draw but in the second leg Barcelona outclassed them by 3-0. Also in La Liga, the team made sure they clinched a vital win from their opponent through an Ivan Rakitic strike.

New Signings

In the last transfer market, Barcelona strengthened by signing Frenkie De Jong from Ajax and Antonie Griezmann from Atletico Madrid. These new signings have been instrumental in the Catalans quest for La Liga title and would see them take part in their first ever El clasico match.

Griezmann, who started life at Barcelona slowly, has begun to get back to his old self grabbing a goal in Barcelona’s 2-2 draw against Real Sociedad last Saturday. Also, De Jong has been superb with Barcelona in his first campaign, creating brilliant plays and also help the ageing Busquets in the team.

Conversely, none of Madrid new signings have settled down that well to make impact in the team.

La Masia talents

FC Barcelona is widely known in the world for producing young talented players and promoting them to the first team. The duo of Carles Perez and Ansu Fati have proved influential to the team whenever they are called to represent the colours of Barcelona. Young Fati proved instrumental in Barça’s win against Inter Milan in the last group stage match of the UCL by sealing Barça’s win and sending Inter to the Europa league.

Likewise Perez, who got a goal earlier in the game, would likely feature as substitutes in their first ever El Clasico.

* Valverde dominance

Barcelona’s coach, Ernesto Valverde, is a El-Clasico expert, having lost only one of the more than eight fixtures since he took over two years ago.

The 5-1 defeat of Real Madrid in October 2018 without Messi in Bernabeu led to the sack of Coach Julien Lopetugui. Valverde may falter in other games but he has a way of motivating his team to win the El-Clasico. He may well wield the magic wand again tonight.

#NobleSport.

Full details from Barcelona and Real sociedad’s match.

Barcelona will be looking to make it eight straight wins in all competitions when they travel to San Sebastian to take on Real Sociedad on Saturday afternoon.

The Catalans’ immense run of form has seen them climb to the summit of La Liga, with Real Madrid matching their 34-point tally after a similarly lengthy unbeaten run of their own – the pair, of course, meet in El Clásico on Wednesday night.

Despite their fine run and the form of Lionel Messi, the trip to the Anoeta Stadium will be anything but an easy one.

Martin Odegaard

Sociedad have been one of the surprise packagesof the season so far, currently sitting fourth in the table after a ninth-place finish last time out. The form of creative mastermind Martin Odegaard (three goals and four assists), crafty winger Mikel Oyarzabal (five goals and four assists) and prolific finisher Willian Jose (seven goals) have been key for Txuri-urdinak (yes, that’s their nickname) through 16 La Liga fixtures.

News

Sociedad have no fresh injury concerns from the side that drew 0-0 with Valladolid last weekend, although Ruben Pardo, Asier Illarramendi and David Zurutuza are still unavailable for selection.

Central defender Robin Le Normand is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season last time out. Meanwhile, Joseba Zaldua will be available having served a suspension of his own against Valladolid.

Arthur

Barça, meanwhile, will again be without the services of Ousmane Dembele due to a hamstring problem, while Arthur is still struggling to overcome an adductor issue.

Nelson Semedo remains absent due to a calf injury, although Jordi Alba is making progress in his recovery from a muscular problem and could potentially be involved this weekend.

Messi, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Luis Suarez will all return to the XI having been left out of the side against Inter, but Antoine Griezmann should keep his place in Barça’s front three.

Head to Head

This will be the 51st meeting between the two sides, with the Catalans generally getting the better of Sociedad in the past. Saturday’s visitors have won 32 of the meetings while Sociedad have come out on top on just eight occasions.

Clement Lenglet,Mikel Oyarzabal

The Basque side have, however, proven to be a ‘bogey’ team for Barcelona in the past. The Catalans once went 11 years without a league victory at the Anoeta Stadium before breaking the curse with a 1-0 win in January 2017.

Last season, we saw Ernesto Valverde’s side win both encounters by a 2-1 scoreline.

Recent form

Despite their healthy position in the table, Imanol Alguaci’s Sociedad side have endured an indifferent run of form as of late – winning just two of their last six.

After tearing apart a sorry Eibar side with a second-half blitz which saw them score three times,

Ansu Fati

Their task will be even harder with the form that Valverde’s men are in ahead of this one, they’re playing that well that they can beat the leading team in Serie A with a second-string starting XI. Barça’s 2-1 win over Inter, in which La Masia graduates Carles Perez and Ansu Fati both scored, was mightily impressive and showed that Barca’s youngsters can play a pivotal role for Valverde as Barca’s fixture list starts to clog up as the season progresses.

While Messi’s been doing Messi things and Luis Suarez has found his goalscoring form once more, it’s also worth noting that at the back, Clement Lenglet has been excellent this season for La Blaugrana and Ivan Rakitic has enjoyed a strong resurgence since coming back into the fold against Dortmund last month.

Will Barça’s hot streak come to an end on Saturday afternoon? Quite possibly.

This is a Sociedad side that can score goals from anywhere; Oyarzabal and Portu on the wings both have an eye for goal, Willian Jose is a natural goalscorer and Odegaard is the ultimate technician who can hurt you from central midfield. They’ve also shown to be competent defensively as well – conceding just 18 in 16.

Antoine Griezmann,Frenkie De Jong,Ivan Rakitic,Lionel Messi

Overall, this is a tough, tough fixture for Barça with one eye on El Clásico in the week. But, their form and the fact that some of their key men got rests during the week means they should get something from this one. A draw wouldn’t be surprising at all.

Prediction: Real Sociedad 1-1 Barcelona

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Neymar slams Barca over unpaid wages.

…takes Barca to court

PSG striker, Neymar is taking his former club, Barcelona to court for £2.9m in unpaid wages from his previous four-year stay at the Spanish club.

The 27-year-old Brazilian footballer who signed for Barcelona in 2013 from Brazilian club Santos has accused Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu of acting with ‘absolute bad faith’ since he joined the Ligue 1 champions for a world-record £198m fee in 2017.

According to Spanish outlet El Mundo, Neymar now believes he is owed £2.9m (€3.5m) in unpaid wages in addition to the £36.2m (€43.6m) he thinks he is owed via a renewal bonus.

The report also details that Barcelona believe they are owed money from selling Neymar, ”due to the first part of a renewal bonus, alongside £7m (€8.5m) in damages and interest.”

In an interview with Cadena Ser, Neymar Santos Sr, who serves as an agent to his son, said that the action was part of the original suit and expressed optimism that everything would be settled amicably.

“It’s a demand about his termination when he left the club,” Neymar’s father said, adding that ”Neither Barcelona nor us are worried. We will solve this situation.”

With the current court battle, It’s now unclear if Neymar will return to Barcelona despite rumors in the summer linking him with a return to the Nou Camp.

#Newsworthy…

Galtier speaks on Osimehn’s Bid By Barcelona And Arsenal

…says he will remain in Lille

Lille coach Christophe Galtier has come out to speak on the future of Super Eagles striker Victor Osimhen.

Osimhen who has scored 11 goals in 21 games across all competitions this season has also established himself as one of Africa’s in-demand strikers, scoring four goals in his last four appearances for his motherland, Nigeria and was recently nominated for the 2019 African Youth Player of the Year award by the Confederation of African Football.

Barcelona need a replacement for Luis Suarez while Arsenal need a new striker incase Aubameyang leaves but Galtier insists Osimhen will remain at the club when the January transfer window closes for business.

Asked if the former Sporting Chaleroi striker Osimhen will stay until the end of the season, Galtier told media : ”

Yes, I believe so. But in football, nothing is safe. I can confirm this with regard to the weeks that have just passed”.

Osimhen and his teammates will visit Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge on Tuesday in the UEFA Champions League.

#NobleSport

Messi says Liverpool Sadio Mane should have been higher in ballon d’or.

…expresses his dissatisfaction as mane finished as 4th

Lionel Messi has expressed his dissatisfaction after Senegalese and Liverpool forward Sadio Mane finished fourth in the Ballon d’Or rankings earlier this week.

The Barcelona superstar won the Ballon d’Or for the sixth time in his career in Paris on Monday, after edging out Virgil van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo to claim the gong. Sadio Mane came fourth while Mohamed Salah was placed in fifth.

Messi who voted Mane as his preferred candidate for The Best award, has now praised the Liverpool forward, saying It’s a shame to see that he finished fourth in the Ballon d’Or ranking.

‘It’s a shame to see Mane finish in fourth place,’ Messi told Canal+.

‘But I think there have been a lot of great players this year. That’s why it was difficult to choose a particular player. But I chose Sadio Mane (for The Best award) because he’s a player that I like.

‘Mane achieved a great year that was exceptional for the entire Liverpool team. That’s why I chose him.

‘I repeat, there were a lot of very great players this year, so the choice was difficult.’

.#Newsworthy…

Barca Lionel Messi wins his 6th Ballon D’Or (see family photo)

…Break ties with Cristiano ronaldo

Barcelona striker, Lionel Messi has won his sixth Ballon d’Or, breaking a tie for most ever with his arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 32-year-old beat Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo to win the award at a ceremony which took place in Paris on Monday night, Dec. 2nd.

Messi has now become the first ever player to win the award on six occasions, having been tied with Ronaldo on five. The Argentine and the Portuguese superstars dominated the Ballon d’Or for a decade between 2008 and 2017.

Although their duopoly was broken last year when Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric claimed the prestigious prize.

#Newsworthy…

Griezmann Admits His Loopholes, Address His Relationship With Messi…

France star, Antoine Griezmann has finally spoken about his relationship with Lionel Messi after reports emanated that both strikers don’t get along with each other.

Griezmann, signed from Atletico Madrid in the summer for €120million, has lacked chemistry with Lionel Messi, even stating in an interview that they hardly talk to each other during training.

Antoinne Griezmann admits he lacks confidence playing for Barca and finally addresses his poor relationship with Lionel Messi

Griezmann has scored four LaLiga goals and supplied three assists for Barca, however, his performances have been underwhelming with Spanish press claiming Barca might sell him to resign Neymar next summer.

Ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash against Borussia Dortmund, Griezmann told UEFA.com: “I’m in the process of learning and understanding how my team-mates play as everything is new to me.

“I’m still trying to read the runs and off the ball movement from the likes of Luis Suarez, Leo Messi and Ousmane Dembele along with the midfielders. It’s my intention to get to grips with this as soon as possible so I can offer my all to the team but at times it’s tricky’

“At present when I get the ball I have a certain lack of confidence in when to pass or when to shoot on goal, this I’m sure is something that will change with the passing of time.”

Last month, Griezmann admitted to finding it “difficult” to connect with Messi as neither of them are naturally big talkers.

“I’m pretty shy and sometimes have problems talking to others,” Griezmann said.

“It’s rare that I strike up a conversation. Luis [Suarez], Leo and myself have had meals together and the relationship can only improve over time.”

“He’s (Messi) the type of player that we’re not going to see again for at least 40 years and it’s a joy to watch him in action. It really is a privilege to play alongside him.”

#Newsworthy…

Endless Updates