Barcelona seeks fourth straight victory in the League without Messi

Barcelona does not want to give up. Displaced ten points behind Atlético de Madrid, the Barça team still trusts in the miracle, spurred on by its full of victories in the League since the beginning of the year and which causes Ronald Koeman to repeat that he is “on the right track.”

In Elche, this Sunday, he will seek his fourth consecutive victory in the tournament, something he has not achieved since last February and that the coach highlighted as “fundamental”.

You must do it without the contest of Leo messi, sanctioned, with the probable return to the starting eleven of Sergiño Dest, already recovered from his injury, and, above all, with, under the leadership of Antoine Griezmann, the intention of turning the need into a virtue: showing itself again as a team that competes and is willing to overwhelm the rival with offensive play, pressure and intensity that shows that growth is more than just good words.

It will be the first visit to Elche since January 2015, when they thrashed them 0-6, and in a stadium where they have never lost, going back to December 1974 (1-0) in the old Altabix. The statistics unquestionably support Barça and even more so if one takes into account that the franjiverde team accumulates twelve league games without winning, having added seven draws and five defeats since they beat Valencia in October and, from there, at home, link four draws and two defeats that have brought him down to relegation positions.

With an eye on what happens next at the Metropolitano, where Atlético will host Valencia, Barcelona, ​​which since its last defeat in Cádiz at the beginning of December has had six victories and two draws, will face the Elche duel with the need to cooling off and probably making use of the rotations attending to the load of an infernal calendar that, in addition, will mean his seventh consecutive game away from the Camp Nou, which will be eight when he visits Rayo Vallecano in the Copa del Rey the following Wednesday. Never seen.

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Barcelona relives another nightmare in Seville

First it was on May 7, 1986 at the Sánchez Pizjuán. Then on May 25, 2019 at Benito Villamarín. And finally on January 17, 2021 at the La Cartuja stadium. Three different fields in the same city and three defeats, hard to accept, that remain in the history of Barcelona. Only once, in 1925, did the Barça team win a final in this city … And it was in a different fourth stadium, the now defunct Reina Victoria stadium, where they beat Arenas de Getxo. In a very, very distant time …

Nothing, of course, can compare to the defeat of 1986, when Barcelona reached the final of the Champions League, called the European Cup at that time, to face a Steaua from Bucharest that no one believed. They surpassed the team led by Bernd Schuster and led by Englishman Terry Venables. The clash ended in the penalty shootout and with defeat … And without Schuster on the field, replaced by the coach during the second half.

That sporting tragedy was dragged into the soul by Barcelona fans until after six years the thorn was removed when they beat Sampdoria at Wembley with Koeman’s goal, unforgettable … Although in the books it never disappeared, it never will, that painful defeat at Sánchez Pizjuán.

He did not play a final in Seville again until many years later, on May 25, 2019. The team, led by Valverde, reached that final of the Copa del Rey against Valencia coached by Marcelino García Toral in full depression. Although he had conquered the League, he was still dragging the collapse of Anfield, where 18 days before he had been crushed by Liverpool in the Champions League … And Valencia beat him, at Benito Villamarín, 2-1. Messi scored, but was not enough to equal the 2-0 with which the rival had advanced.

And the third came. The last collapse in a game to which Barça arrived rearmed with morale but without obvious football with which to overcome the rival. The feelings against Real Sociedad were no longer the best. He won the penalty shoot-out in a semifinal that could fall on either side … And he was seen in a final without the necessary ambition to prevail in football.

Barça, who suffered badly on defense, did not come out to play with character, trying to minimize the risks and trying to win the final with the minimum or, at least, without biting football.

Another big game and another stone in Koeman’s way. Defeated by Getafe and Cádiz in collapses with no excuse in the opponent’s view, Barça has lost this season to Real Madrid and Atlético in the League, was run over by Juventus in the Champions League and lost in their first final against Athletic … A lot to think about.

Messi wanted to play but was not enough to lead the team. Neither Pedri nor Dembélé accompanied him, he could not combine then with De Jong due to the pressure of the rival and only the sparks of Griezmann seemed to give him the necessary air to win.

Could Barça win? Definitely. It could even be said that Athletic tied by chance at the last gasp … But it must be said that this tie rewarded both the courage and faith of the lions and punished the discouragement and little aggressiveness of the Catalans.

Seville was jinx again … And it leaves doubts at the Camp Nou at the worst moment of the season.

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Zidane’s complaints … Shall we play?

BARCELONA – We will have to ask Zinedine Zidane if the field is to his liking. Not too wet and not too dry. Muddy of course not and even less snowy and somewhat hard because of the ice, not even minimally like in Pamplona on Saturday. The president of LaLiga will have to be asked if the appropriate, minimal weather conditions should be agreed with the Real Madrid coach in order to play to their satisfaction. Not from others, no. To yours.

It may be that the El Sadar grass was not the same for Madrid as it was for its rival and that the Osasuna players did not have the same difficulties to play. Be…

To which Barça linked three consecutive victories and the cold froze Real Madrid at El Sadar la Liga stopped being a festival to become a suspicious tournament. “The conditions were not good to see a football match” argued Zidane to explain that the match should not have been played … Despite the fact that a priori neither the coach nor the club or anyone had said anything and perhaps forgetting, we should not It should be considered badly, that in previous years matches were played in the League in the same or worse conditions.

Barça, Valencia, Atlético, Betis … And also Madrid have played over the years under the snow, on terrain impracticable due to rain, mud or ice without causing complaints of any kind. . It should not have been comfortable for the Madrid players to spend four hours on a plane (installed in first class, don’t forget), but arriving at their luxury hotel in Pamplona they were able to rest throughout Saturday. Too many excuses … And more so if you consider that knowing the conditions that threatened Madrid on Friday, the club could have traveled hours before.

That Barça won 0-4 in Granada, that Messi scored two goals to add four in two games (and three shots to the wood), that De Jong is no longer his bad copy, that Dembélé has chained four games at a good level. .. And that Leo smiles with the company of a young and unleashed Pedri, waiting for the return of Ansu Fati, there are too many circumstances for Real, with Atlético at the top and with three games pending, to remain calm. This is how the sudden change of attitude in the merengue club is understood.

Barça explained that it is a great team, that it does not need to show itself to show muscle and that a good overall performance accompanied by strokes of genius from its captain is enough to regain confidence and look at the future league with better eyes.

Enough so that, suddenly, Real Madrid is uncomfortable spending four hours on a plane (first class, let’s remember) and resting for a whole day in a luxury hotel while Osasuna employees worked piecemeal to make the El Sadar stadium.

Surely, sorry, with all certainty, of having won in Pamplona, ​​Madrid would show muscle today speaking of an epic victory, in hellish conditions and with renewed spirits, in a response to Barcelona, ​​turned into a leader and without a trace of that “it was not due play “that Zidane claimed.

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Zidane’s complaints … Shall we play?

BARCELONA – We will have to ask Zinedine Zidane if the field is to his liking. Not too wet and not too dry. Muddy of course not and even less snowy and somewhat hard because of the ice, not even minimally like in Pamplona on Saturday. The president of LaLiga will have to be asked if the appropriate, minimal weather conditions should be agreed with the Real Madrid coach in order to play to their satisfaction. Not from others, no. To yours.

It may be that the El Sadar grass was not the same for Madrid as it was for its rival and that the Osasuna players did not have the same difficulties to play. Be…

To which Barça linked three consecutive victories and the cold froze Real Madrid at El Sadar la Liga stopped being a festival to become a suspicious tournament. “The conditions were not good to see a football match” argued Zidane to explain that the match should not have been played … Despite the fact that a priori neither the coach nor the club or anyone had said anything and perhaps forgetting, we should not It should be considered badly, that in previous years matches were played in the League in the same or worse conditions.

Barça, Valencia, Atlético, Betis … And also Madrid have played over the years under the snow, on terrain impracticable due to rain, mud or ice without causing complaints of any kind. . It should not have been comfortable for the Madrid players to spend four hours on a plane (installed in first class, don’t forget), but arriving at their luxury hotel in Pamplona they were able to rest throughout Saturday. Too many excuses … And more so if you consider that knowing the conditions that threatened Madrid on Friday, the club could have traveled hours before.

That Barça won 0-4 in Granada, that Messi scored two goals to add four in two games (and three shots to the wood), that De Jong is no longer his bad copy, that Dembélé has chained four games at a good level. .. And that Leo smiles with the company of a young and unleashed Pedri, waiting for the return of Ansu Fati, there are too many circumstances for Real, with Atlético at the top and with three games pending, to remain calm. This is how the sudden change of attitude in the merengue club is understood.

Barça explained that it is a great team, that it does not need to show itself to show muscle and that a good overall performance accompanied by strokes of genius from its captain is enough to regain confidence and look at the future league with better eyes.

Enough so that, suddenly, Real Madrid is uncomfortable spending four hours on a plane (first class, let’s remember) and resting for a whole day in a luxury hotel while Osasuna employees worked piecemeal to make the El Sadar stadium.

Surely, sorry, with all certainty, of having won in Pamplona, ​​Madrid would show muscle today speaking of an epic victory, in hellish conditions and with renewed spirits, in a response to Barcelona, ​​turned into a leader and without a trace of that “it was not due play “that Zidane claimed.

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Sergio Busquets, fourth player to reach 600 games for Barcelona

BARCELONA – Sergio Busquets, starter in the line-up arranged by Ronald Koeman to face Granada, plays his 600th official match with Barcelona this Saturday, becoming the fourth footballer, after Xavi (767 games), Lionel Messi (who is Saturday will add 752) and Andrés Iniesta (674).

Member of an already legendary era, the first six classified on the list have been or are companions of Busquets, since the fifth is Carles Puyol (593 games) and the sixth is Gerard Piqué (553), the eighth being Víctor Valdés with 535 games .

The 32-year-old Catalan midfielder, under contract with the Barça club until June 2023, made his debut in the first team under Pep Guardiola, with whom he had already been indisputable in the subsidiary, on September 11, 2008 in a match League against Racing de Santander at the Camp Nou, which ended with a draw (1-1) and from which a position was gained in the coach’s plans, gradually stealing prominence from Yaya Toure until causing the Ivorian to decide leave the club in the summer of 2010 to join Manchester City.

Son of Carlos Busquets, who was a Barça goalkeeper between 1989 and 1998, Sergio joined the Barça club in 2005 as a youth, and was promoted until in May 2007 Frank Rijkaard gave him the opportunity to debut with the first team in the Catalunya Cup, although the following season, still 19 years old, he spent it at Barça B, trained by Guardiola and turned into one of the key pieces of the subsidiary that rose to 2nd Division B.

In this way Pep resolved to take him to the preseason of the first team in the summer of 2008 and although the presence of Xavi, Iniesta, Touré, Seidou Keita and Hleb implied that he would have a testimonial presence, the coach gave him the alternative in the second League match and from there until the end of the season, which ended with the triplet, he has already played 41 games, 31 of them as a starter, which catapulted him to the plane.

Busquets was Guardiola’s great bet together with Pedro or Piqué, debuting with the Spanish team in April 2009 and becoming indisputable from the following campaign, both in the Barça club and in the national team, being the main protagonist of the best successes in history both for Barça and for the Spanish team.

Since then Sergio Busquets has won a total of 31 Barça championships: three Champions League titles, eight in the League, three Club World Cups, three European Super Cups, six in the Copa del Rey and eight in the Spanish Super Cup. In addition to the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 Eurocup with the Spanish team.

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Zinedine Zidane denies COVID-19 negative, hopes to travel to Pamplona

The Real Madrid coach, the French Zinedine Zidane, tested negative for COVID-19 and will be able to travel to Pamplona for the match against Osasuna this Saturday.

Rorigo Fáez, from ESPN, advanced the test result after hours before he did not lead the session of the first team of the white team while waiting to know the result of the PCR test to which he was subjected because he had contact with a positive of coronavirus.

The Frenchman was evaluated in Valdebebas to a PCR test and another of antigens. The Madrid coach tested negative in the rapid antigen test initially, and now the result is confirmed with the other test.

The EFE agency said that Real Madrid sent a report to the Professional Football League with Zidane’s result and they await the decision of the organism to know if their coach can direct the last training session on Friday and travel to Pamplona.

The game this weekend has the threat of suspension due to bad weather because the forecasts indicate that on Saturday it will be snowing all day in Pamplona.

The coaching staff delayed training this Friday at Real Madrid City, which in the morning went to an afternoon session at 4:30 p.m. The trip to Pamplona was scheduled for the same Friday.

La Liga’s response to Real Madrid is expected on Friday morning.

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third in LaLiga, in growth and hope

Winner at San Mamés, a particularly unfriendly stadium, where he had accumulated two defeats and a draw in his last three visits. Barcelona linked their seventh day of the League without losing (five wins and two draws) and catapulted to third position in the championship, far from the two teams from Madrid but, finally, showing an image consistent with the greatness that is supposed to be . What to expect.

Lionel Messi smiled with two goals, two shots to the post and a special connection, again, with the young Pedri, who left Bilbao with the confirmation that Barça has discovered another star. If Ansu Fati lit up last year, now it is the turn of another ‘youngster’, a canary capable of playing as a veteran, who makes football easy and so simple that it is difficult to interpret for those who are not tied to their quality. And Messi, captain and beacon of this team, knows that surrounded by players of this quality he has the opportunity to enjoy himself again.

Leo, like De Jong, like Dembélé, like Pedri and even like Griezmann, not only did he enjoy a happy night in Bilbao but, achieving for the first time in the championship to link two victories away from the Camp Nou, warned that with the new year he can dreaming of abandoning depression and conquering illusion.

Cruyff said that ‘A flower does not make a summer’ and it is evident that it is early, very early, to cast the bells to the flight. Atlético de Madrid, with two games less, leads Barça by seven points and Real Madrid does by five. But around the Barça team, who this Wednesday played in yellow, the feeling can begin to be installed that, as Ronald Koeman wants, to be at the right moment to start the definitive growth.

Remember, or rather could remember, that first season of Fran Rijkaard on the bench. Another Dutchman in troubled times and that after 17 league games had the team in ninth position and fifteen points, fifteen, from Real Madrid, then the leader with 39 points. Rijkaard was close to cessation, then-president Joan Laporta kept him in office through thick and thin. A date later (3-0), he had 15 victories and two draws to, against everything imagined, come to dream of a league title that was not narrowly won.

It is not known how far this Barça of Messi can go, with Pedri growing, De Jong unleashed, Dembélé fired and waiting for the recovery of Ansu Fati to round off his illusion. It is possible that disappointment will return against Granada and that the Super Cup could catapult him to success or collapse him to failure … But seeing what was seen in Bilbao, Koeman’s team finally gave a feeling of illusion.

Third in the League, in growth and hope. Thus, at least on the night of the Kings, Barça lived in San Mamés.

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Barcelona can make up lost ground on their visit to Athletic in San Mamés

BARCELONA – Match by match, the favorite motto of Cholismo that has made a career out of Atlético de Madrid, Barcelona have already forgotten their tight and discreet victory in Huesca to focus all their attention on the new final they must face this Wednesday in San Mamés , faced with Athletic Bilbao in the game postponed at the beginning of the season and faced with the need, non-negotiable, to add the three points.

Koeman’s team will attend after a rare beginning of the week, with the two positives detected on Monday night and the change of plans on Tuesday, with generalized PCR tests to the entire staff and the transfer of the last training to the afternoon, with special attention at the club so that a generalized contagion is not unleashed in the dressing room at such a demanding time of the season. Not to say critical.

The Dutch coach should not have too many setbacks to face the game. Contemplating that he repeats the same defensive line that he put in contention in Huesca and waiting to confirm that Sergio Busquets maintains the position ahead of Miralem Pjanic along with Frenkie de Jong and Pedri, the main doubt appears with Antoine Griezmann, substitute in two of the last three games and that, according to Koeman’s words, the title must be played with a Martin Braithwaite who despite his very discreet numbers seems to have won the lead.

Defeated in his last two visits, the last one meaning the elimination in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey, for Barcelona the new San Mamés is not a friendly scenario, where he only won in six of his twelve visits and has three consecutive without succeeding, Athletic being a particularly uncomfortable rival and they do not forget the 4-0 victory with which they beat them in the Spanish Super Cup in 2015, the last title won by the Lions.

The Basque team will also have its main novelty on the bench, where Marcelino García Toral will debut, who on Sunday replaced a Gaizka Garitano whose dismissal caused a lot of surprise around the Basque club and who, having disastrous numbers against Barça, maintains a last happy memory.

Since his debut in front of Recrativo de Huelva, Marcelino has faced Barcelona up to 21 times as coach, reaping a single victory by 14 defeats and six draws, although that solitary victory was conquered in the final of the Copa del Rey in 2019, directing Valencia and breaking the reign of the Barça team for the previous four years.

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Barcelona exercises the option to renew Riqui Puig until 2023

BARCELONA – Riqui Puig will continue to be a Barcelona footballer until June 2023, after it became known that the Barça club and the midfielder made the extension of his contract stipulated as an option when he signed his last renewal in 2018 and that it ended at the end of this season.

This contract “was already signed at the time of that agreement” and therefore the player’s permanence has never been in question, according to what was published by Mundo Deportivo and that a Barcelona source confirmed to ESPN.

Despite his residual role in Ronald Koeman’s plans (he has barely taken part in 85 minutes distributed in 5 of the 22 official matches played by the Barça team this season), Riqui remains unchanged his desire to continue at Barça and shows reluctant, for the moment, to accept a loan during the second half of the season as it seems will happen with Carles Aleñá, who could close his departure to Getafe imminently.

The coach, who at the beginning of the season already warned Riqui that he would have little presence and advised him, like other young people in the squad, to leave on loan, has made it clear during the first three months of the course that his situation has not changed , as with Aleñá (170 minutes in five games) and unlike Ansu Fati, who took part in the first ten games of the campaign until his injury (eight of them as a starter), or Pedri, who only stopped playing against Ferencvaros in Champions.

In the case of Riqui, Barcelona, ​​beyond the postulates of the technical secretariat and Ronald Koeman, values ​​the player in terms of the future, keeping intact the confidence that he has just exploded as a Barça player. Something that, for the moment, he did not achieve neither with Valverde nor with Setién. Nor with Koeman.

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Barcelona beats Huesca, but continues without offering security

For Barça, each game becomes a mountain. Some days easier to climb and others impossible to overcome. If Barça came from a streak of acceptable play and results, minimally brilliant in their game and correct on the scoreboard, winning as they won this Sunday in Huesca, being the first game of the year, could be taken without criticism. But for Barça, the problem is that it does not offer security. It does not teach safety.

Leo Messi reached his 500 league games, 750 officers as a Barça player, leading another victory that will not go on the books. He made his debut in a stadium he had never played in, assisting De Jong, in which he was ultimately the only goal of the match. This is how Álvaro Fernández wanted it, the local goal who took two golden occasions from the Argentine crack, another from Pedri and another from Dembélé who, at least on the scoreboard, would have allowed Barça to win with much more solvency.

In the field, it was a very different story. “Removing the last 20 minutes we were very good. We created danger, we scored a great goal and we had chances to distance ourselves more. The second half was not so brilliant and we suffered at the end but we could have won by two or three goals difference,” he stressed at the end of Ronald Koeman, once again away from any self-criticism. Convinced of a speech that is becoming less and less among fans who wonder when they will see a powerful Barça as their greatness demands.

The coldest game of the season, the most uncomfortable shift in the League, was solved by Koeman’s team with a mixture of sensations that is seen too often, no matter how much the Dutch coach insists on greeting each victory as if it were a Resurrection.

Save time, not too much, until Wednesday, when you visit San Mamés, and until Saturday, when you travel to Granada. Two games in which you must add six points to go with a minimum of optimism to the Spanish Super Cup. Day by day, game by game as Simeone would say, this Barça lives lacking in constancy, clinging to a wire called Messi and that, being able to break at any moment … It still resists.

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