Real Madrid 1-2 Barcelona: Real start strongly but Barca eventually find a way through

January 19, 2012

“Carles Puyol and Eric Abidal were Barcelona’s unlikely goalscoring heroes in the first leg at the Bernabeu. Jose Mourinho surprised many with his team selection, playing both Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain, and leaving out Mesut Ozil. Hamit Altintop made a rare start at right-back. Pep Guardiola named the same side as in the recent league fixture at the Bernabeu, with the exception of in goal – Jose Pinto is Barcelona’s cup goalkeeper. The game took a similar pattern to that match – Real started strongly and went ahead, but Barcelona grew into the game and eventually the pressure resulted in goals.” Zonal Marking

Copa del Rey review: Real Madrid CF 1 – FC Barcelona 2
“Oh yeah and there was dancing. Guardiola went for what I’d consider the strongest Barça starting XI at the moment, but of course with Pinto in goal over VV. This was worrying as there’s no way Pinto can compare to VV and I thought playing the second choice keeper in a Clásico was asking for a disaster to happen. But we’ll get to that later. So Barça’s starting XI was as follows: Pinto – Alves, Puyol, Piqué, Abidal – Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta – Cesc, Messi, Alexis. The bench was made up of VV, Thiago, Sergi Roberto, Cuenca, JDS, Adriano and Mascherano.” The Offside

Mourinho: Equaliser the killer blow
“Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho admitted conceding an equaliser from a corner ‘deflated’ his side as they went on to lose 2-1 to Barcelona in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final at the Bernabeu. Cristiano Ronaldo had given the hosts an 11th-minute lead, but Barcelona levelled when Carles Puyol was left unmarked to head in Xavi’s corner before Eric Abidal struck the winner 13 minutes from time.” ESPN

Real Madrid v Barcelona – as it happened
“The idea that it’s possible to have too much of a good thing was surely agreed upon and created by parents in order to get their children ready for all of life’s many and varied disappointments; can’t have ice-cream every day of the week, put the Playstation away, because you’ve got homework to do and greens to eat. Of course, some of the best childhood memories stem from the random treats life throws at you, the rare occasion you stayed up late to watch a football match or when your teacher couldn’t be bothered on a rainy afternoon and put a film on instead. Here are moments to cherish; special because they don’t come along very often and if they did, well, it would just be another of those things you could shrug your shoulders at with tired insouciance.” Guardian

Africa Cup of Nations: Libya team a symbol of hope for nation renewed

January 19, 2012

“Ask around and the consensus is that Libya’s best player is the midfielder Tariq al-Taib. He has twice finished in the top 10 of the voting for African Player of the Year, had successful stints in Tunisia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and captained the national side the last time they reached the finals of the Cup of Nations, in 2006. When Libya walk out at the Estadio de Bata on Saturday to face Equatorial Guinea in the opening game of the 28th Cup of Nations, though, Taib will not be there.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Group A: African Cup of Nations Preview (Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Senegal, Zambia)

January 19, 2012

“No introductions, you know what this is. The African Cup of Nations 2012, in all its resplendent glory. This will be the 28th edition of the Cup of Nations and the third covered on Just Football after 2008 and 2010. For a general 2012 tournament preview and background head here – I will be writing a regular column for FourFourTwo throughout the competition. Here I present to you Just Football’s previews…” Just Football, Group B: African Cup of Nations 2012 Preview (Angola, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Sudan)