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Here is an overview of the 2015-2016 season. Every week, David Leigh of Simply Barcelona Tickets kindly updates on everything to do with the club. Read from the top downwards to follow FC Barcelona’s successes. Enjoy

Celta de Vigo

There is no dispute that Celta de Vigo have made an impressive start to this season and after last night’s stunning win against Barcelona they look like a real force to be reckoned with. The match saw the end of Barcelona’s 100% league record this season and was the first loss in 24 league matches.

Whereas Barcelona typically hold 70% possession or more, the figure for last night’s match stands at 55%. But even with that slight advantage they just couldn’t deal with the onslaught that came from Celta, who controlled the start of the match and scored twice in the first half hour.

Going into the break two goals down is hardly ideal, but it is not insurmountable either. But ten minutes into the second half Iago Aspas scored his second goal of the night to put the hosts 3-0 ahead and pretty much deciding the night. Neymar clawed one back for the Catalans at the 80 minute mark off a Messi assist, but the night still wasn’t over. Three minutes later Guidetti showed which team was in charge and scored the final goal of the night.

1-0 Nolito (min 25)
2-0 Iago Aspas (min 29)
3-0 Iago Aspas (min 55)
3-1 Neymar (min 79)
4-1 Guidetti (min 82)

Barcelona dropped down to fifth place in the table last night after suffering a colossal defeat by Celta de Vigo. The reseult means that Real Madrid have leapfrogged the Catalans into top place, with Celta is the number two spot. Villarreal completes the top three, all of whom are on 13 points. While the result of the match was a disappointment, it is still early days.

Barcelona’s next match is against Las Palmas on Saturday.

Levante

Despite completely overwhelming the visitors during the first half in terms of possession, Barcelona went into the break with a goalless draw. Most of the play happened in the Levante area but despite 70% possession the Catalans were unable to finish the job.

Check out this season’s fixtures here.

Back on after the break though and things fell into place. Bartra scored the opener 7 minutes into the second half in what was going to be an intense few minutes for Barcelona. Just 8 minutes later Neymar opened up the lead off a rebound. And when he was brought down in the area, Messi scored from the penalty spot.

It didn’t all go Barça’s way though. When Casadesus found the ball there was little to stop him, with Ter Stegan caught napping and with just a single defender to beat. And Messi kicked the ball well over the net when he kicked his second penalty of the night after he was brought down in the Levante area. He made up for that disappointment just minutes from the end though, single handedly charging forward and putting the ball into the Levante goal.

1-0 Bartra (min 48)
2-0 Neymar (min 54)
3-0 Messi (min 59)
3-1 Casadesús (min 64)
4-1 Messi (min 88)

Barcelona remain at the top of the table with 12 points after winning their fourth match in four games. Real Madrid lies in second place, 2 points behind. Villarreal and Celta are also on 10 points, while a the bottom of the table, rather surprisingly, is Sevilla.

Barcelona plays Celta Vigo on Wednesday, currently 2 points behind.

Speak soon!

David Leigh
Simply Barcelona Tickets

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Roma

AS Roma

FC Barcelona’s opening Champions League match saw them travel to Italy to face AS Roma a team they last played as recently as August. On that occasion, the Gamper Trophy, the Catalans won 3-0. But the Gamper Trophy is very different from Champions League group stage.

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Barcelona came close to scoring several times within the first 10 minutes of the game, with both Messi and Suarez leading the attack on the Roman goal. Well in control of possession, it looked as if it was just a matter of time before the Catalans scored. When it did come, at the 20 minute mark, Suarez headed the ball almost from the goal line from a Rakitic cross. Barcelona were ahead!

However, that lead lasted a mere 10 minutes after Roma responded spectacularly. From his own half, Florenzi took the ball off Alba to rush forward. And then, just inside the Barcelona half, he shot the ball past Ter Stegen. It was a stunning way to answer back and the first half ended with both sides on one goal.

After the break a clash with Suarez saw the Roma keeper replaced with a hand injury. Barcelona too suffered injury woes when Rafinha was stretchered off just seconds after coming on for Rakitic. Mascherano took his place instead.

The match then settled down until the last quarter hour. Suarez came close to scoring a second goal, as did Messi, the latter playing his hundredth Champions League match. But in the end Barcelona had to do with a single point from the encounter.

0-1 Suárez (min 20)
1-1 Florenzi (min 30)

Speak soon!

David Leigh
Simply Barcelona Tickets

PPS If you want to receive future weekly newsletters direct by email, you can join our opt-in for free here

Messi2

Atlético Madrid.

Leo Messi celebrated the birth of his second son by coming off the bench to score Barça’s winner in a deserved 1-2 victory over Atlético Madrid. There was a big surprise an hour before kick-off when the teamsheets appeared with Messi only featuring as a substitute. Luis Enrique obviously felt that the experience of becoming a father again, on top of 17,000 kilometres of plane flights during the international break, would have jaded the Argentinian maestro. But with the score at 1-1 after Neymar’s free-kick had cancelled out Fernando Torres’s 51st minute strike, the Barça coach called for Messi who responded by grabbing the winner with 13 minutes to go.

The game began with both defences looking tight and the only early attempt on goal came when Fernando Torres fires well over in the first minute. Barça had more of the ball as usual but the first crack in Atlético’s defence didn’t appear until the 15th minute when Iniesta found Rakitic arriving late on the right but Atlético keeper Oblak made a good save to turn the Croatian’s shot round the post for a corner.

Ter Stegen wasn’t tested at the other end though when Griezmann robbed Mascherano to send Fernando Torres racing away a chance looked on, only for Torres to blaze his shot over. It was highly competitive but Barça seemed to be getting on top. Suárez was unlucky when he could only stab the ball against the crossbar after Rafinha flicked on Rakitic’s corner. Barça’s were then forced into a change when Vermaelen complained of an injury after jumping at the same corner. Jeremy Mathieu came on in the unfortunate Belgian defender’s place. First reports suggest a three to four week recovery period.

There was little more threat on either goal until shortly before half-time when Barça created another chance after Sergi Roberto’s long ball found Suárez who then squared for Neymar who skipped past one challenge but Godin got back to block the Brazilian’s shot.

Atlético began the second half strongly. It was almost as if they knew that Messi would be introduced at some point and they needed to take advantage of their fortune at facing a Messi-less Barça while they could. Oliver Torres ran into the area after robbing Rakitic but then pulled his shot well wide. Atlético then had a shout for a penalty when Fernando Torres fired a cross against Mascherano’s hand, but as with Giminez at the other end in the first half, it was a case of ball onto hand rather than the other way round. A couple of minutes later Tiago volleyed a quick pass between the gap between Alba and Mascherano and Fernando Torres was quickest to react, Ter Stegen hesitated a moment allowing Torres to reach the ball first and fire a low shot just inside the far post.

Barça responded quickly to Atlético’s goal. Just three minutes later Neymar’s skill won him a free-kick just left of centre 25 yards out. With Messi still warmimg up on the sidelines, the Brazilian took the resposibility and curled a beautiful shot over the wall and away from Oblak’s dive into the top corner.

The tension was growing now and Luis Enrique decided it was time to play his ace. Messi replaced Rakitic, which meant Rafinha moved back into midfield, and the Argentinian proceeded to dominate the game for the remaining half an hour. He had been on the pitch just four minutes when he created danger by finding Rafinha who moved the ball on to Suárez who miscued his shot well wide. Then in the 67th minute he sent a perfect pass into the area to Neymar who dinked the ball over Oblak only to be denied a goal by Godin’s arm. The previous two handballs were debatable but I believe referee Mateu Lahoz got them right, this time Godin’s hand stopped a clear goal and a penalty should have been given but the official waved away Barça’s appeals.

Despite Barça’s dominance Atlético still threatened on the break and Sergi Roberto had to be quick to get back with a last ditch tackle to thwart substitute Carrasco. Then in the 77th minute Juanfran and Griezmann made a mix-up of a clearance, sending the ball to Alba who played a direct ball straight into Suárez who laid it off first time to Messi who met the ball in his stride and clipped it past Oblak’s dive.

Now with the lead, Barça gave a pretty good exhibition of keep-ball. However, Atlético never say die and with six minutes remaining Jackson Martinez made a good turn before shooting weakly straight at Ter Stegen. In injury time there was one final dangerous cross from Atlético’s right but Godin failed to make contact at the far post and Barça held on to the three points.

This was by no means a vintage Barça performance, but as against Athletic and Malaga, the team looked as solid and as disciplined as we have come to expect under Luis Enrique. The Barça coach’s decision to leave his star player on the bench was a brave one that played out perfectly in the end. While his confidence in Sergi Roberto and Rafinha is also paying off. I have been critical of Rafinha this season but today he gave a decent performance and played an active role in the victory. Praise should also go to Mathieu who took his opportunity well with a strong performance at the back. Just a shame about poor old Vermaelen who had started the season so promisingly.

Atlético: Oblak; Juanfran, Gimenez, Godín, Filipe; Oliver Torres (Carrasco m60), Tiago, Gabi (Vietto m80); Koke; Griezmann, Fernando Torres (Jackson Martinez m64).

Barça: Ter Stegen 6; Sergi Roberto 6.5, Mascherano 6, Vermaelen 6.5 (Mathieu m56, 7), Alba 6.5; Rakitic 6 (Messi m60, 8.5), Busquets 7, Iniesta 6.5; Rafinha 7, Suárez 7.5, Neymar 7.5.

Goals: m51 Fernando Torres 1-0, m55 Neymar 1-1, m77 Messi 1-2

Yellow cards: m18 Oliver Torres, m43 Filipe Luis, m44 Iniesta, m89 Giminez

Last night saw the return leg of the Spanish Supercup, which saw Athletic Bilbao visit the Nou Camp after their 4-0 home win against FC Barcelona.

Before I talk abut that though, I just wanted to mention that al league fixtures from the end of October onwards have been shifted by a week from the schedule published in July. Only in Spain! Anyway, I’ve contacted all customers of Simply Barcelona who are affected by this but if you’re thinking of seeing Barça play this season check out the revised schedule here.

Anyway, faced with a huge task it was always unlikely that Barça would score the five goals necessary to take the title, while at the same time preventing Athletic from scoring, but a consolation prize might have been to at least win the home leg. But alas, it was not to be in a hard fought match that at least provided plenty of entertainment. It also saw Athletic Bilbao win their first title in 31 years.

Barça came on looking for an early goal and the initial onslaught against the Athletic goal looked like it might produce the hoped for result. However, there was no goal in the early minutes and despite dominating possession as is their usual style Barcelona were unable to make it count despite a number of good attempts. And then, just before the break Mascherano and Suarez set up Messi to score the opener. While Barcelona was a long way from where they needed to be going into half time, they were at least ahead.

The Catalans turned up the pressure after the break as both sides aimed to score. However, 10 minutes into the second half Gerard Pique was given his marching orders after criticising a linesman’s decision. With four more goals required and one man down what was already a tall order suddenly got much harder and whether the ref was justified in showing Pique the red card is debatable. As I understand (and maybe I’m wrong on this) it only the captain is supposed to question refereeing decisions, which makes sense. But that rule is almost never applied. Officials need to be spared abuse from players (and I don’t know what Pique said), but the rules need to be applied consistently.

Despite being down to ten men Barcelona continued to fight, but the title was effectively seals when Aduriz scored the equaliser quarter of an hour from the end. Soon after the visitors where also down to ten men after Kike Sola brought down Mascherano.

In the end Athletic deserved the title but at least Barcelona were able to put on a good fight in front of the home fans. The league starts next weekend with Barcelona heading to the Basque Country for their opening match against Athletic Bilbao – again.

1-0 Messi (min 42)
1-1 Aduriz (min 73)

Speak soon!

David Leigh
Simply Barcelona Tickets

Attendance: 54,000

Athletic Bilbao

Last night Barcelona suffered the agony of being outclassed by Athletic Bilbao in the first leg of the Spanish Supercup, a sharp contrast to the ecstasy following their European Supercup win on Tuesday. In that match Barcelona saw a 4-1 lead over Sevilla and almost certain victory slip away so that Sevilla drew level and it was only towards the end of extra time that Barcelona snatched back their win. But Friday night was to be entirely different, perhaps due to fatigue following their win in Georgia.

Athletic is never an easy foe and play the game physically, as evidenced by the number of fouls. Barcelona dominated possession, but time and time again was frustrated. It was the hosts who opened the scoring after fifteen minutes, and going into the break the match was still wide open. However, six minutes into the second half Aduriz scored the first of what was to be a hat trick inside a nightmare quarter hour for the Catalans, his third goal scored from the penalty spot.

While the situation is far from ideal, there is still the return leg on Monday. It will be tough, but as Sevilla came close to proving earlier earlier this week, it is not impossible to turn around a four goal deficit; but it is crucial that Athletic don’t score.

1-0 San José (min 12)
2-0 Aduriz (min 51)
3-0 Aduriz (min 60)
4-0 Aduriz (min 66)

Speak soon!

David Leigh
Simply Barcelona Tickets

Sevilla

FC Barcelona last night added the 2015 European Supercup to their trophy room after a hard fought battle against Sevilla that saw the Catalans lose their 4-1 advantage and the game go to extra time. Remember that if youi want to see Barcelona play this year we can supply tickets for ALL home matches. Click here for info.

Banega scored an early goal for Sevilla, with Messi equalising minutes later from a free kick and at the quarter hour mark it was the Argentine superstar who put Barcelona ahead thanks to another superb free kick. And in the closing minutes of the first half Suarez seemed to go all out in search of the goal, but it was Rafinha who put the ball into the Sevilla net. Suarez had his time though, ten minutes after the break, off an assist by Busquets. And with the scoreline now at 4-1 it looked like Barça had done all they needed to take the title.

However, the game wasn’t over as far as Sevilla were concerned and soon started to claw their way back into the match. Reyes scored at the hour mark followed 15 minutes later by a penalty kicked home by Gameiro. And then just six minutes from the final whistle Konoplyanka equalised, taking the game into extra time.

Both teams slogged long and hard during extra time and as the clocked ticked down it was increasingly looking as if the title would be decided on penalties. However, although Messi was unable put a third free kick into the Sevilla goalmouth, Pedro did so on the rebound to settle the match once and for all.

0-1 Banega (min 2)
1-1 Messi (min 6)
2-1 Messi (min 15)
3-1 Rafinha (min 43)
4-1 Suárez (min 55)
4-2 Reyes (min 60)
4-3 Gameiro (min 75)
4-4 Konoplyanka (min 84)
5-4 Pedro (min 118)

All in all an amazing match to watch and ultimately it could have gone either way. Sevilla look to be in top form this season and so it will be interesting to see whether they can offer a serious challenge for the league title. The title is Barcelona’s fourth this year, with the Spanish Supercup and Club World Cup still to come. We’ll see if they can match their record breaking feat of 2009 in which they won six out of six titles.

Speak soon!

David Leigh
Simply Barcelona Tickets

Pre-Season

Sunday night Barcelona were in Florence in the last round of the International Champions Cup, a series of pre-season friendlies the club has participated in this year. After beating LA Galaxy in the first match, Barça first lost against Man City and then were then beaten by Chelsea on penalties. And last night in Italy the pre-season woes were to continue.

Host club Fiorentina got two goals in early, both by Bernardeschi scored in the third and eleventh minutes but Suarez managed to get Barcelona back into the match just after the quarter hour. Barcelona was able to dominate possession in their normal inimitable way, but as sometimes happens, they were unable to make that possession count. At the end fo the day football isn’t about possession, it’s about scoring goals. Despite a number of chances, the Catalans were unable to do anything.

Of course, the squad is currently without Neymar, Alves, Messi or Mascherano, although the latter two have reportedly returned to training ahead of time. Barcelona faces Roma in the Gamper Trophy on Wednesday and then the European Supercup against Sevilla the following Tuesday, when we may see these players for the first time. Whatever the result of these matches, and the two legs of the Spanish Supercup to be played against Athletic Bilbao, there is still plenty of time to get back into shape for the start of the league on 23rd August.

1-0 Bernardeschi (min 3)
2-0 Bernardeschi (min 11)
2-1 Suárez (min 16)

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