José Mourinho, the anti-Barcelona, stands alone in modern football

April 24, 2015

“Todern football was invented in Barcelona in the mid-90s. Of this season’s Champions League quarter-finalists, four sides are managed by players who turned out for Barça in 1996: Pep Guardiola, Luis Enrique, Julen Lopetegui and Laurent Blanc. Within a couple of years, they had been joined by Frank de Boer and Phillip Cocu as well as the coach, Louis van Gaal, and his assistant, Ronald Koeman. In slightly differing ways, the eight are apostles for the Barcelona way – or, more accurately, given the influence of Ajax on that style, the Barçajax way. However, there was another presence there, initially as a translator and then as a coach. In the Barçocracy of modern football, there is a fallen angel.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Returns, rematches, powerhouses mark Champions League semifinals

April 24, 2015

“The Champions League semifinal draw was conducted Friday and while the names may be familiar, the opportunity for new storylines to arise is bountiful. There will be reunions for coaches and a chance to avenge previous defeats, and, with three teams still dreaming of clinching a European, league title and domestic cup treble, plenty at stake.” SI

Valencia heads to Barcelona ready to cement its place among Spain’s best

April 20, 2015

“History warns us to be skeptical of foreign ownership in Spanish soccer. One minute we’re being told Racing Santander ‘could compete with Real Madrid and Barcelona,’ and then the man that told us that, Ashan Ali Syed, disappears off the face of the earth, wanted by Interpol. Racing is now in the second division. Malaga’s tale isn’t as dramatic, but neither did it have the happy ending Sheikh Abdulla Al-Thani had promised us. Once in the Champions League, he decided to asset strip the squad, flogging the likes of Santi Cazorla and eventually Isco, and instead let the team rebuild itself through youth. At least it’s still in the top flight.” Fusion

Berlin-Bound: Which Team Has the Best Chance of Winning the Champions League?

April 16, 2015

“As we told you a few weeks ago, the drama’s all but gone from the major domestic leagues across Europe. Thankfully, the Champions League is here to save us. The quarterfinals of soccer’s greatest annual competition kick off today with Atlético Madrid hosting Real Madrid in a rematch of last year’s final and Monaco traveling to Juventus. Tomorrow, FC Porto welcomes Bayern Munich and Barcelona visits Paris Saint-Germain.” Grantland

Luis Suárez: another dimension for Barcelona

April 16, 2015

“‘Luis Suárez did what he does best,’ sighed Edinson Cavani, fresh from watching his Uruguay team-mate score a pair of magnificent goals at the Parc des Princes. The forwards had just experienced wildly contrasting evenings, but even the crestfallen Cavani had to admire the way his international colleague had put FC Barcelona on the brink of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals with a 3-1 win at Paris Saint-Germain.” UEFA (Video)

La Liga’s top Spanish scorer may have played his way to Portugal

April 13, 2015

“The messages started arriving, and they didn’t stop. ‘There were more than 100,’ Rayo Vallecano attacker Alberto Bueno told El País. ‘And that’s not including Twitter. I couldn’t even keep track of the ones which were coming through on there.’ Manchester United’s Juan Mata wasn’t among those who sent a message, but he did phone Bueno, who he played with at Real Madrid many moons ago, to congratulate him on his 14-minute, four-goal haul in Rayo’s win over Levante at the end of February. And the goals didn’t stop there: One more came against Barcelona, two against Granada and another at Eibar.” Soccer Gods (Video)

Clock Is Ticking on Xavi’s Storied Career at Barcelona

April 8, 2015

“Andrés Iniesta and Xavi Hernández have played tiki-taka since childhood. They have grown closer than brothers, can find one another with a pass in their sleep and have won every honor in the global game. Their days together are numbered. They do have unfinished business because Barcelona still might win, three more trophies this season to add to the 24 that they have won as integral parts of both their club and the national team, Spain.” NY Times


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