828 minutes for Barça’s internationals

Alves. Brasil-Colòmbia in New Jersey. FOTO: fifa.com
Fourteen of Barça’s first team regulars were involved in international action this week.

Barça players totalled up 828 minutes in the games involving Spain, Spain under-21s, Argentina, Brazil and Chile. There were goals from Pedro (2) and Villa, while Alexis Sanchez limped off the pitch after just 20 minutes.

Victor Valdes (60 min)

Valdes played the first 60 minutes of Spain’s friendly in Panama, producing a solid performance especially at the beginning of the second half. He was replaced by Casillas with 30 minutes left of the match.

Jordi Alba (60 min)

Alba featured in the starting line-up at left back, in a back four including Juanfran, Javi Martinez and Albiol. He was replaced by Sergio Ramos after an hour.

Sergio Busquets (90 min)

The midfielder – who is banned for the next league match against Zaragoza – was the only Barça representative to play the full 90 minutes against Panama. He occupied the centre of midfield. Andrés

Iniesta (45 min)

Despite being on the pitch for only one half, Iniesta still had time to put his stamp of quality on the game and set up two goals for Pedro and Villa.

Pedro Rodriguez (45 min)

In just 45 minutes, Pedro added two goals to his growing international tally. The second came just before halftime when he deceived the Panama goalkeeper to fire into an empty net. He’s Spain’s highest scorer in 2012 with 7.

David Villa (72 min)

Villa scored his 53rd international goal and was replaced by Susaeta with a quarter of the game left.

Cesc Fàbregas (45 min)

Cesc started on the subs’ bench and came on for Iniesta at the break.

Martín Montoya (0 min)

The fullback was the only Barça player not to get a run-out and will have to wait a little longer to make his full international debut for Spain.

Leo Messi (90 min)

The captain of Argentina had to make do with a goalless draw against Saudi Arabia, managed by Frank Rijkaard, the man who handed him his Barça debut.

Javier Mascherano (90 min)

Mascherano occupied his usual place in the heart of the Argentine midfield, sparking off Argentine attacks and breaking up any danger from the home side.

Alexis Sanchez (20 min)

The forward started the game against Serbia in Switzerland but had to go off with a foot injury in the 20th minute.

Dani Alves (90 min)

Alves occupied the right back position for the full 90 minutes of Brazil’s draw against Colombia in New Jersey. He provoked a penalty which Neymar failed to convert.

Marc Bartra (90 min)

Bartra occupied one of the two centre back positions for Spain under-21s against Italy in Siena on Tuesday. He had a great game and almost scored.

Cristian Tello (31 min)

The winger came on for Spain under-21s in the 59th minute to join Barça B colleagues Sergi Roberto and Deulofeu. Deulofeu scored in Spain’s 1-3 win.

Leo Messi nominated for FIFA Puskas Award

Messi celebra un gol amb l'Argentina / FOTO: FIFA.COM
A Leo Messi goal for Argentina is one of ten goals nominated for this year’s FIFA Puskas Award, given annually for the best goal of the year

A shortlist of three goals will be announced on 29th November. The winner will be named at the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala on 7th January

This is the third consecutive year that Leo Messi has been put forward for the Puskas Award. The goal selected is the one he scored for Argentina on 9th June 2012 in a friendly against Brazil in New Jersey, clinching a 4-3 win for Argentina

The other nine candidates

Messi will be competing against goals from Agyemang-Badu, Hatem Ben Arfa, Radamel Falcao, Eric Hassli, Moussa Sow, Gastón Mealla, Miroslav Stoch, Neymar and Olivia Jiménez, the only woman to be included in the list.

Fans from around the world can vote for a shortlist of three goals until 29th November. Voting will then re-open until 7th January to choose the best of the three remaining goals.

Messi has been nominated for the award – set up in 2009 – for the last three years. His goal against Arsenal finished third in the final ranking last year.


VOTA AQUÍ pel gol de Messi

The Blaugranas @_Pedro17_ and @Guaje7Villa, with three goals between them, lead Spain to victory over Panama (1-5)

 Pedro and Villa / PHOTO: CARMELO RUBIO (RFEF)
The FC Barcelona forwards scored Spain’s first three goals against Panama this evening, Sergio Ramos and Susaeta also got on the score sheet

Andrés Iniesta provided assists for Spain’s first and second goals

Six FC Barcelona players featured in Spain’s starting line-up, but only Busquets played the entire match

The Spanish national team defeated Panama this Wednesday thanks to goals from Pedro (2) and Villa in the first half and second half goals from Ramos and Susaeta. The friendly, played at Rommel Fernández Stadium, featured six FC Barcelona players in the starting line-up for Spain: Valdés, Alba, Busquets, Iniesta, Pedro and Villa. One of the most notable players of the match was Andrés Iniesta, who provided two assists in the first half. Sergio Busquets was the only Barça player to play the entire 90 minutes, whilst Montoya wasn’t able to make his debut.

Barça’s attacking trio lead the way

Iniesta and Pedro linked up on 15 minutes to make it 0-1. A quarter hour later Villa was the target of another incisive pass from Iniesta, the Spanish forward slotted the ball into the roof of the net to make it 0-2. Just before the break, Mata sent Pedro through on goal; the Canarian brilliantly left the keeper in his wake and secured Spain a three-goal advantage ahead of the second half.

Three goals to cap off the night

Iniesta and Pedro were subbed off before the second half for Cesc Fàbregas and Jesus Navas. Five minutes into the second half Víctor Valdés was forced to make his first save of the match. The keeper was subbed off for Casillas nine minutes later. In addition to Casillas, Mikel Susaeta and Roberto Soldado were also brought on for Jordi Alba and David Villa.

In fact, it was Susaeta that made it 0-5, after a cross from Navas. Minutes before that, however, Sergio Ramos had scored Spain’s fourth with a sublime free kick. The match still had one more goal in store to the delight of the home fans. In the dying minutes of the match Gabriel Gómez, with a Panenka-style effort, slotted the ball past Casillas from the penalty spot.

Messi and Mascherano's Argentina held to goalless draw by Frank Rijkaard's Saudi Arabia (0-0)

Messi / PHOTO: www.ole.com.ar
Argentina were not able to overcome Frank Rijkaard’s Saudi Arabia

Messi and Mascherano played the full 90 minutes

Alexis subbed off due to injury

Alexis Sánchez, who played from the start in the Chile vs Serbia match, was forced to abandon the pitch after he picked up a knock to his right ankle. Hanríquez came on for the injured Blaugrana after only 20 minutes of play.

Argentina came away from its international friendly against Saudi Arabia with a goalless draw. Leo Messi and Javier Mascherano, who ran the South American team’s midfield, played the entire 90 minutes. The match was also a good opportunity for Messi to meet up with his old manager Frank Rijkaard, who now coaches the Saudi Arabia national team. Despite the pressure to beat a team that, at least on paper, isn’t as powerful, Argentina was made to settle for draw.

Few chances

The first half didn’t see either side create too many scoring chances. Argentina had the initiative, but they couldn’t break through the home team’s defence. Nearly every attack from the team managed by Sabella went through Messi, who paired up with Agüero on offence. On 12 minutes, Messi unleashed a shot from just outside the area, after a good play with El Kun, but the local goalkeeper Abdullah did well to deny the Argentine. Despite the flow of the match, the best chance of the first half fell to Rijkaard’s men, but the chance was saved by the Argentina keeper, Romero.

Argentina push forward

The visiting team applied more pressure in the second half. Messi, who dropped back to the midfield, was incisive with his passes and runs and he very nearly scored the match winner on 79 minutes. Argentina poured forward in the dying minutes of the match, but in the end Saudi Arabia’s defence held out.