Images – Another look at the Real Sociedad-FCB

Messi, contra la Reial Societat. FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.
Another look at the Real Sociedad-FCB

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Messi: “I’m my own biggest critic”

Messi in action / PHOTO: ARCHIVE FCB
“My son has changed my life more than the Ballons d’Or have,” said the Argentine player

“It’s crazy that I’m compared to Micheal Jordan or Muhammad Ali”

Messi was surprised when he won his most recent Ballon d’Or: “Not even in my wildest dreams could I have imagined this”

The challenge: win the World Cup with Argentina

In addition to wanting to win titles with Barça, Lionel Messi is aware that winning the World Cup with Argentina is his biggest challenge. “I’m lucky to have won so many things with Barça and it would be marvelous to win that title [World Cup] with my national team.” Messi went on to say that “a lot of things have changed recently [in the Argentina national team]. I’m lucky to be able to enjoy everything that happens with the national team.”

Leo Messi doesn’t like to talk in public. In fact, when he won his fourth Ballon d’Or he didn’t have a speech prepared. “I didn’t know I was going to win,” said the Argentine who admitted that “when my name was called it was a surprise. I didn’t expect it.”

Messi made these declarations in an interview with El Periódico de Catalunya. He added: “it’s crazy that I’m compared to athletes like Michael Jordan, Usain Bolt or Muhammad Ali. I don’t like comparisons, who am I to compare myself to someone else? I do my job and when [my career] is over we’ll see how well I’ve done.”

Messi’s son changed his life: “when I look at life, thinking about each moment, when I analyse each situation, now everything is different. He [Thiago] changed my life more than the Ballons d’Or have.

“The biggest critic of Messi is Messi. I know when I do things correctly and when I do them poorly,” said Messi. “I’m my number one critic.”

After winning his fourth Ballon d’Or, Messi said he’s “satisfied and proud to have won what I have but I always want more. Last year we were not able to win the Liga or the Champions League and this year I’d be thrilled to win more titles.”

When asked about the difference between Pep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova, Leo said, “the style is the same: the training sessions and the way we prepare for games. We do the same things we’ve done over that past couple of years.” He added: “It’s crazy what this team has been able to accomplish.” For Messi the key to the team’s success is that “we all like to play football and we’re good human beings, we’re humble and we’re an excellent group. This team continues to enjoy itself, we don’t look at football like a profession; rather, it’s our way of feeling, experiencing the sport.”

Tito: "I cannot reproach my players”

Vilanova, durant el partit / FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
The manager believes that Real Sociedad’s victory “was achieved more because of their effort than because of our mistakes”

He lamented the missed chances in the first half

Tito Vilanova’s first words in the post-match press conference were for Real Sociedad, the first team to defeat FC Barcelona in La Liga this season. “We have to congratulate them. Their victory was achieved more because of their effort than because of our mistakes,” he said. According to the manager, the team could have killed the game off if they had scored a third goal in the first half: “I cannot reproach my players. In the first half we controlled the game and we hit the woodwork twice and another chance was saved by Bravo. We played against a team that had only allowed six goals at home.”

“There’s a lot of Liga left”

The manager believes that the Liga title is still up for grabs despite his team’s advantage at the top of the table: “There’s a lot of Liga left, a lot of games and a lot of very difficult rivals that we have to play against.” With tonight’s defeat at the Anoeta, Atlético Madrid could come within 8 points and Real Madrid could come within 15 if both teams win on Sunday.

On Piqué’s red card, Vilanova was clear, “there are 200 fouls like that in a game,” he said in reference to the foul that cost Piqué his second yellow. He added: “even with the 0-2 I didn’t think it was going to be an easy match. Real played with much more intensity than they did last year.”

Reial Societat-FC Barcelona (crònica): Unbeaten run ends at Anoeta (3-2)

Derrota del Barça contra la Reial Societat. FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.
An injury time winner for Real Sociedad put an end to Barça’s unbeaten league season, with Tito’s team going down 3-2 despite having been 0-2 up in the first half

Barça’s first league defeat of the season finally arrived with a 3-2 defeat in Donosti – an injury time winner for the Basques put an end to an astonishing run of 19 unbeaten games. It was a cruel way for the run to end – Barça had been two up within the first half hour, with only a late, late winner from the hosts giving them their win, but despite the dropped points, Barça still enjoy a clear lead at the top of the table.

Messi opens the scoring

Real Sociedad were always going to attempt to take the game to Barça, with talented attacking options in midfield and up front and a clear plan to press the visitors high up the pitch. Even so, it was Barça who had the early chances – Messi missing a great opportunity to open the scoring within the first five minutes and then almost immediately afterwards doing better with his second chance to put Barça one up.

Woodwork and goal for Pedro

Despite boasting 73% of the possession in the first half, Barça weren’t in total control as the game opened up – interrupted on 18 minutes by the ref when the lights at the stadium failed.  The league leaders soon doubled their lead though, when Pedro, who moments earlier had struck the woodwork, finished off a lovely sweeping move with Xavi  and Alves on 25 minutes.

Real strike back before the break

Messi nearly made it three on 39 minutes with a clever chip which beat the Real keeper, hit the post and was cleared off the line by two defenders. Immediately afterwards, Chory Castro hit home with a well struck shot from the left to beat Valdes, who was then forced into a good stop from the same player just before the break. Messi then drew a great stop from Bravo and the teams went in 1-2 at the break – Barça hadn’t quite been able to dominate in their usual style, but that was more down to Real’s good play rather than any fault in the visitors’ game.

Down to 10 men for the last half hour

Barça began the second half determined to slow the frenetic pace of the first half down and impose their more studied style on the proceedings and that seemed to be working until Pique saw his second yellow on 56 minutes and they were down to 10 men. Mascherano came on for Cesc to partner Puyol at the back, but the red card seemed to lift Real, who drew level five minutes later when a speculative Castro shot was deflected past Valdes off a Barça defender. Real seemed to be unsure whether to go for the win, or defend the draw, whilst Barça attempted to regain their control.

Injury time winner

Busquets was everywhere in defence, whilst Iniesta dropped back into midfield and Barça began to take charge again, admittedly without the attacking threat they’d shown at the start of the game. Real defended well and looked to have settled for a point until in injury time Agirretxe got in the end of a cross from the right and fired home to inflict Barça’s first defeat of the season.

PRÈVIA – El Barça arrenca la segona volta amb la idea d’allargar la seva imbatibilitat a la competició de Lliga

PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
Barça are looking to continue their perfect away record at a typically difficult venue

Real Sociedad, who have just lost at the Bernabéu (4-3) and drawn with Deportivo (1-1), have yet to win in 2013

The second half of the Liga season is about to get under way. FC Barcelona start at Anoeta where they will be looking to continue an amazing start to the season, with 55 out of a possible 57 points, an all-time record. And what’s more, they have a one hundred per cent record away from home. As Tito Vilanova has put it, Barça are defying statistics at the moment. Logic suggests that they will have to lose sooner or later, but that just isn’t turning out to be the case. San Sebastian is just the latest port of call in an incredible journey.

Villa and Song out

There are reasons to believe that the good run can continue. Barça are facing a side that they already beat comfortably, 5-1, earlier this season. That was the day that Villa returned from injury, but the Asturian will be back on the sidelines for this evening’s encounter.

Winless in 2013

Barça are up against ninth placed Real Sociedad, a team that has recently defeated Sevilla (2-1) and Valencia (2-5). But since the New Year, they have yet to add any further wins. First they lost at the Bernabéu (4-3) and last week were held to a draw at Deportivo (1-1). But they come into this fixture with a fully-fit squad, and a strong one at that. Vela, Griezmann, Xabi Prieto and ‘Chori’ Castro are the players most expected to trouble a Barça defence that welcomes back Piqué, who was rested midweek.

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