Claudio Bravo rounds off a perfect season

Claudio Bravo lifting the Golden Glove award / CA2015.COM
The Chilean has won four trophies this season and joins elite band of players who have won domestic treble and international title

Claudio Bravo is now Copa América champion, captaining a Chile side to their first ever victory in the 99 year history of the competition. As such, the Barça goalkeeper has claimed an amazing four trophies in the season 2014/15.

The Chilean claimed the Spanish league title at the end of May having played in every single La Liga game for the blaugranes. A week later he lifted the Spanish Cup thanks to Barça’s win over Athletic Club at Camp Nou. Finally on 6 June the blaugranes claimed the treble for the second time in their history thanks to the 3-1 over Juventus in Berlin.

Just like ex-Barça player Ronald Koeman in 1988 with PSV Eindhoven and the Dutch national side, Bravo has completed the domestic treble and claimed one of the three most important international titles available, the Copa América, the World Cup and the European Championships. With the win for Chile over Argentina, Bravo joins an elite band of players who have achieved such a feat as well as claiming individually claiming the Zamora trophy for his performances in the league and the Golden Glove award for his performances in the 2015 Copa América.

With the win over Argentina in South America’s premier international tournament, Claudio Bravo adds another trophy to his list of honours, the first such title for his country after a run of four defeats in the final.

Suárez and Gerrard good friends off the field

Gerrard and Suárez in their time at Liverpool FC / LIVERPOOL FC
The Barça striker and the former Liverpool captain now at LA Galaxy could face each other in the first game of the pre-season tour of the USA

On Saturday Steven Gerrard, LA Galaxy’s new signing, came out at half time during his new team’s game against Toronto FC to say a few words to the fans in the StubHubCenter, the stadium where the California side play their home games. The legendary former Liverpool captain arrives in Los Angeles to lead the team along with another former Premier League player, the captain Robbie Keane. The Galaxy are the current MLS Champions and Gerrard is set to begin training with the team on 7 July and after his first session he will be unveiled officially in front of the press.

LA Galaxy will be the FC Barcelona’s first pre-season opponents when the two sides meet in a friendly on 22 July at 5.00am CET in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Two of Steven Gerrard’s former team mates at Liverpool are current members of the Barça first team squad, Javier Mascherano and Luis Suárez. The Uruguayan striker spent three and a half seasons at Liverpool and formed a lethal partnership with the English midfielder.

Gerrard and Suárez good friends

The two players’ relationship extends beyond the field of play as has been shown on several occasions. One example is the message that the Barça striker posted on social media when Gerrard played his final game for Liverpool: “Thanks legend, for everything you did for me at Anfield and for all the happiness that you have given the world of football. Thanks for everything mate. You are one of the greatest!”
Similarly, the midfielder congratulated Suárez for his Champions League success back on 6 June in Berlin, posting a photo in which they both appear with a Barça shirt signed by the striker and dedicated to his former team mate. “Congratulations my friend!” was the message that accompanied the photograph.

Mascherano also former team mate

Javier Mascherano also played at Anfield for three and a half seasons. The Argentina formed a famous midfield trio alongside Gerrard and Xabi Alonso. Unfortunately, ’el jefecito’ was unable to claim a trophy during his time at Liverpool, coming closest when they were beaten in the final of the 2007 Champions League by AC Milan.

Claudio Bravo Copa América champion (0-0, 4-1 pens.)

Bravo Copa América winner / FCB
Chile, captained by the Barça keeper, win the title on penalties against Messi and Mascherano’s Argentina

MATCH DETAILS

Chile: Bravo; Silva, Medel, Marcelo Díaz; Isla, Vidal, Aránguiz, Beausejour; Valdivia (Mati Fernández, m. 74); Alexis Sánchez and Vargas (Henríquez, m. 94).

Argentina: Romero; Zabaleta, Demichelis, Otamendi, Rojo; Biglia, Mascherano; Pastore (Banega, m. 80); Messi, Kun Agüero (Higuaín, m. 73) and Di Maria (Lavezzi, m. 28).

Penalties: Mati Fernández, goal. Messi, goal. Vidal, goal. Higuaín, miss. Aránguiz, goal. Banega, saved by Bravo. Alexis Sánchez, goal

Claudio Bravo’s Chile are Copa América champions for the first time in their history following victory over Argentina in a penalty shoot out in the final played in the Estadio Nacional in Santiago. The Barça keeper and Chile captain was the hero in game that ended goalless after 120 minutes of football, saving Éver Banega’s penalty to give former blaugrana Alexis Sánchez the chance to nervelessly score the decisive spot kick for a 4-1 win on penalties. Leo Messi was the only man who found the net for ‘Tata’ Martino’s team in the shoot out and Javier Mascherano also played all 120 minutes for the ‘albiceleste’. Disappointment for Barça’s two Argentines but delight for Bravo who adds the title to the treble of the league, Champions League and the Spanish Cup won in 2014/15 with FC Barcelona.

Loss of Di María early on

In only their third ever Copa América final and their first since 1987, Chile started the better of the two sides in the Estadio Nacional in Santiago. The first real chance of the final fell to tournament top scorer Vargas after 10 minutes, the hosts’ striker dragging his side shot wide from the edge of the box. Barça keeper Claudio Bravo was not called into action until the 21st minute when he made a smart save from close range to deny ‘Kun’ Agüero. The Manchester City striker’s header came from a Leo Messi free kick on the right hand side. Argentina were dealt a blow just a few minutes later when Ángel Di María was forced off due to a hamstring injury to be replaced by Paris Saint-Germain striker Lavezzi. The substitute could have given his side the lead just before the break had he not hit his effort straight at keeper Bravo. Just seconds previously, Chile also had a chance to take a half time lead, Alexis denied by a save from Romero. The opening 45 minutes came to an end with the sides locked together at 0-0.

Extra time then penalties

In the second half Chile continued to have the better of the game, yet at the same time chances were still few and far between. The contest was very tight in midfield, Chile doing their best to keep Leo Messi quiet. Mascherano picked up a yellow card ten minutes into the restart for handball with ‘Tata’ Martino’s side suffering without the pace of Di María. What chances there were tended to fall to the hosts – Vargas did not really get hold of his effort on 73 minutes, Romero making a simple save. Former Barça striker Alexis had a better chance, volleying just wide with eight minutes of normal time remaining. Messi led a late counter that saw substitue Higuaín with a chance to win it for Argentina in injury time but his effort went into the side netting and so the final headed into extra time. A nervous extra half hour failed to separate the sides and so the 2015 Copa América was decided on penalties in favour of Chile.

Sergio Busquets reveals coaching ambitions

Busquets and Iniesta in Andorra / NIKE
The Barça midfielder and Andrés Iniesta have taken part in the Nike Camp Andorra and have answered the children’s questions

Sergio Busquets and Andrés Iniesta were the stars of a rather different press conference on Saturday. In the closing ceremony of the Nike Camp Andorra, they answered questions put to them by the children attending the camp. There were some unusual and entertaining questions and answers. For example, Sergio Busquets revealed that in the future he would like “to be a coach.” Nevertheless, he also added that he still has “many years of football”left in him as a player.” He also added, “I have no intention of changing teams.”
The Barça number 5 admitted “to be living a dream since I was young” playing for Barça. “Hard work, effort and dedication” are the ingredients for maintaining your place in a demanding team according to Sergio who also recalled the “nerves of his debut at Camp Nou.”

Stamford Bridge and South Africa

Andrés Iniesta, for his part, revealed to the children at the Nike Camp that the “two most spectacular moments experienced are the goal at Stamford Bridge and the World Cup final. That was an incredible sensation and an immensely happy one.” At the same time, he highlighted another special point in his career: “The day I made my debut at Camp Nou, after coming up through the youth ranks at the Club.”
During the ‘press conference’, several names cropped up. About former team mate Xavi, Andrés Iniesta said “he will be missed after so long together and experiencing so much together.” According to the midfielder, “there will never be another like him.” On Messi and Neymar he said: “I want the best in my team and Barça are winning with those two.” Of the two coaches Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique, he said “we have experienced some unique years with them.”
After the questions there was time for photographs and autogrpahs. Busquets and Iniesta left to a standing ovation with both players continuing their holiday before returning to training on 13 July.

Best wishes to FC Barcelona's fans in the US on the Fourth of July

FC Barcelona will be travelling to the USA later this month / FCB
Less than three weeks before the first team heads for the USA, the club sends Independence Day greetings to its stateside supporters

It’s July 4 in the United States of America and that can only mean one thing: Independence Day. The USA is a country where Barça has one of its largest support bases, and here at www.fcbarcelona.com we’d like to send our very best wishes to all of our American fans on this special day.

Of course, in less than three weeks’ time, the Barça first team will be heading stateside for the first three of its games in the 2015 International Champions Cup. They’ll be in Los Angeles to face the Galaxy on 21 July, after that they play Manchester United on 25 July in San Francisco and then head over to the east coast to play another English side, Chelsea, on 28 July in Washington DC.

Indeed, yesterday the club launched its The Unstoppables campaign to promote the matches which includes a very special competition in which two lucky people can win the chance to follow the team on their tour.

It’s by no means the first time Barça have visited the US. In 2003, they were in Boston, Washington and Philadelphia and in 2006 they visited Los Angeles, Houston and New York

There were other trips to the USA in 2009 to Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco and in 2011 when they visited Washington, Miami and Dallas. Curiously enough, the last three trips, in 2006, 2009 and 2001, were all immediately after the Catalans had won the Champions League. And history is about to be repeated for the fourth time, for once again Barça will be travelling to the US as European champions!

Happy Fourth of July, folks, and we’ll see you very soon!