Dramatic Barca comeback beats Sevilla to reach final

Barcelona pulled off a stirring comeback from two goals down to beat Sevilla 3-0 after extra-time in their Copa del Rey semi-final second leg, winning 3-2 on aggregate.

Danish forward Martin Braithwaite grabbed the decisive goal with a scrappy diving header early in the extra period after Ousmane Dembele had given Barca the lead in the 12th minute and Gerard Pique had levelled the tie deep in added time, moments after Fernando had been sent off for Sevilla.

Sevilla, who won the first leg at home 2-0, deployed uncharacteristically negative tactics yet they wasted a glorious chance to make it 1-1 in the second half and effectively kill the tie when Lucas Ocampos squandered a penalty.

The visitors’ misery was compounded when Luuk de Jong was sent off from the bench late on after allegedly abusive language to the fourth official.

Barca will meet either Levante or Athletic Bilbao in the final in Seville on April 17, looking to lift the Copa del Rey for a record-extending 31st time.

Gerard Pique had earlier brought his side level on aggregate
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Gerard Pique had earlier brought his side level on aggregate

Barca had won 2-0 at Sevilla on Saturday to go second in La Liga, leading their coach Ronald Koeman to declare his side had every chance of turning the tie around.

But their preparations were overshadowed when former President Josep Maria Bartomeu was arrested on Monday and the club’s Camp Nou offices were raided in a probe related to allegations of improper management and business corruption.

The club will elect a new leader on Sunday and the three candidates, Joan Laporta, Victor Font and Toni Freixa, were all present in the Presidential box to witness the comeback.

Dembele got them off to an ideal start with a scorching strike into the top corner from outside the box, and they would have scored a second with a deflected effort had Sevilla’s Marcos Acuna not cleared the ball off the line.

Barca continued to dominate in the second half and left back Jordi Alba almost levelled when he flew high into the air to meet a cross on the volley and rattle the crossbar.

Braithwaite's late winner sparked wild celebrations involving the full Barcelona line-up
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Braithwaite’s late winner sparked wild celebrations involving the full Barcelona line-up

Sevilla then launched a rare attack and earned a penalty when Ocampos was felled by Oscar Mingueza.

The Argentine, making his comeback from an ankle injury, scuffed his shot, however, and German ‘keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen caught the ball to keep his side in the competition.

Sevilla’s De Jong, who had been substituted in the 54th minute, was shown a red card from the bench at the death.

Sevilla defended deep for the remainder of the game but could not prevent Pique heading home a Griezmann cross to force extra-time and the Catalans had all the momentum plus an additional man to complete a famous win.

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How Have Barcelona Fared In Champions League Meetings Against English Teams?

With FC Barcelona being one of the biggest clubs not only in Spain but also in Europe, it should come as little surprise that they’ve faced some of the best teams across the continent. The many years that the Champions League has been running means that a variety of teams have tried to beat the Spanish giants with some of them being English – here are some of the most intriguing ties between them.

One of the first games that springs to mind is the infamous 2010/11 knockout round clash between Arsenal and Barcelona – a game that will probably go down as the Emirates Stadium’s best moment in its fifteen year history thus far. While Arsenal would end up going out narrowly via a 4-3 aggregate scoreline, the home leg is the game where the Gunners ran out 2-1 winners against arguably one of the best sides in history. With the iconic midfield trio of Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Xavi, as well as a prime Lionel Messi, lining up against an Arsenal side with the likes of Johan Djourou and Andrey Arshavin, on paper, Arsenal should have been trounced.

Source: Pixabay

However, the actual outcome was rather different. David Villa would open the scoring for Barca on 26 minutes, and the Spaniards looked to be cruising. However, a spell of wasteful chances including a notable miss from Messi allowed Arsenal to creep in and launch a spirited comeback kickstarted by a Van Persie near-post tap in. The best was yet to come for the Gunners as a few minutes from time, a vicious counter-attack was launched that culminated in a curled effort from Arshavin from the edge of the area that found its way int the back of the net. Barcelona’s reaction to that goal will forever be characterised by goalkeeper Victor Valdes’ slow falling over as the ball went over the line.

FC Barcelona have notably met an English side in the final of the Champions League multiple times. In that same year as the Arsenal clash, 2011, Manchester United stood in the way. Unlike the Arsenal away tie that was closely fought, Barcelona looked in control as they brushed aside United in a 3-1 victory. It would be the Catalan side who scored first through Lionel Messi and them who would have 68% of the ball and have nearly 6 times as many shots as the Red Devils. The 2011 Champions League final was interestingly a repeat of the 2009 edition where Barcelona had met Manchester United before and ran out winners there once again via a two-goal margin, although they did manage to keep a clean sheet in the process.

Unfortunately, after the departure of Pep Guardiola in 2012, Barcelona have struggled in the Champions League with a solitary title in 2015 since then. This year looks little different as they have a 4-1 deficit to overcome in a visit to the French capital. Guardiola, on the other hand, is in charge of a Man City side who are the favourites across all four competitions they are still in, including the league where they have odds of 1.005 in the Premier League betting due to the large gap they have created between them and the rest.

Source: Pixabay

In previous years, FC Barcelona have been an unstoppable force in the Champions League, not least against English teams. That could be all about to change, though, with Messi nearing retirement and English teams such as Manchester City having a long-term aim to become one of Europe’s best, it may not be long before a changing in the European football guard is seen.

Arteta on Barca reports: I’m fully focused on Arsenal

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says he is “fully focused” on managing the club and is “extremely happy” at the Emirates after reportedly emerging as a potential managerial target for Barcelona.

The Spanish club will hold its presidential elections on Sunday and candidate Joan Laporta, who is the favourite to be elected for a second stint at the Nou Camp, has reportedly identified Arteta as a potential replacement for current Barca boss Ronald Koeman.

Arteta was a product of Barcelona’s academy but left in 2002 without making an appearance for the club.

The 38-year-old also honed his coaching methods at Manchester City under former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola, whom Laporta appointed in 2008.

But Arteta dismissed Catalan radio reports he could take charge of the Spanish giants, saying: “There is always going to be speculation when there are elections in Barcelona. It’s a huge team and obviously I was raised there as a player, and they’re always going to be linked.



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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Arsenal’s win against Leicester in the Premier League.

“But I’m fully focused on the job that I have to do here. We have a lot to do and I’m really enjoying it.

“I feel privileged to manage this football club and I’m extremely happy.”

Asked whether he could manage Barcelona one day in the future, he responded: “Today and tomorrow I am the manager of Arsenal Football Club and I’m really enjoying it and I want to do much better than what we’ve done.”

Arteta, who won the FA Cup at the end of his first season in charge, was appointed Arsenal boss in December 2019 and will have two years left on his current deal at the end of this campaign.

Asked whether new contract negotiations have begun with the club, he replied: “No. We are in the middle of the season, we have a lot to play for and at the moment it’s not a priority.

“I still have my contract here and I’m happy here, and I don’t think it’s something urgent.”

Will Laporta stick by Koeman next season?



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Spanish football expert Pete Jenson says Barcelona are fully behind head coach Ronald Koeman amid speculation Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is being lined up to replace him.

Spanish football expert Pete Jenson told Sky Sports:

“Joan Laporta is fully backing Ronald Koeman at the moment, and there are currently no plans to bring Mikel Arteta to the club. That could change at the end of the season if Laporta does win the election and if Koeman doesn’t end the season well.

“I’m sure Arteta will be one of the coaches that is looked at, but there are no immediate plans to try to bring Arteta to Barcelona – he’s very much behind Koeman.

“There’s also the Xavi question. He’s been linked with the Victor Font campaign. Font is the guy coming up against Laporta in the elections, and he made it clear from the start that Xavi is his man. Slightly embarrassingly, Xavi has distanced himself and has not come out and confirmed that.

“Whether Laporta or Font win, Xavi will feature at Barcelona in the future.”

Ex-Barcelona president Bartomeu released after arrest

Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu was released on Tuesday, a day after he was arrested in a police probe related to allegations of improper management and business corruption.

Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned as Barcelona president last year
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Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned as Barcelona president last year

A Barcelona court said in a statement Bartomeu, president between 2014 and 2020, and his former adviser Jaume Masferrer, had made use of their right not to testify in court and the judge had agreed to their provisional release.

Bartomeu was among four people connected with the club arrested on Monday in what Catalan police called “an investigation into alleged crimes related to property and the socio-economic order”.

Barcelona chief executive Oscar Grau and legal services director Roman Gomez Ponti were detained and later released on Monday while Bartomeu and Masferrer spent the night in a Barcelona police station.

The club’s offices at their stadium were one of five properties searched by police during the operation.

The operation is in connection with last year’s ‘Barcagate’ scandal, in which club officials were accused of launching a smear campaign against current and former players who were critical of the club and Bartomeu.

Barcelona deny accusations that they hired and overpaid a company to make negative comments about their own players and opponents on social media in order to boost the image of senior officials, and say they are cooperating with the investigation.

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Ex-Barcelona president Bartomeu released day after arrest

Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu was released on Tuesday, a day after he was arrested in a probe related to allegations of improper management and business corruption.

A Barcelona court said in a statement Bartomeu, president between 2014 and 2020, and his former adviser Jaume Masferrer, had made use of their right not to testify in court and the judge had agreed to their provisional release.

Bartomeu was among four people connected with the club arrested on Monday in what Catalan police called “an investigation into alleged crimes related to property and the socio-economic order”.

Barcelona CEO Oscar Grau and legal services director Roman Gomez Ponti were detained and later released on Monday while Bartomeu and Masferrer spent the night in a Barcelona police station.

Roman Gomez Ponti
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Roman Gomez Ponti leaves Les Corts police station in Barcelona after his arrest on Monday

The club’s offices at their Camp Nou stadium were one of five properties searched by police during the operation.

The operation is in connection with last year’s ‘Barcagate’, in which club officials were accused of launching a smear campaign against current and former players, who were critical of the club and Bartomeu.

Barcelona had denied accusations that they hired and overpaid a company to make negative comments about their own players and opponents on social media in order to boost the image of senior officials.

The company was accused of using fake social media accounts to discredit opposition figures when they expressed views that went against the club.

Some of the figures supposedly included players such as Lionel Messi – who was unhappy and unsettled at Barcelona at the time – defender Gerard Pique, as well as former head coach Pep Guardiola. The club later released an independent audit report showing that there had been no wrongdoing.

Bartomeu and his board of directors resigned last year amid fallout from the controversy surrounding Messi and ahead of the upcoming presidential elections, which are to be held in less than a week’s time.

Catalan police leave the Nou Camp offices after the raid on Monday
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Catalan police leave the Nou Camp offices after the raid on Monday

Presidential candidate Joan Laporta said Monday’s events would cause “enormous harm to the image of our club”.

He said: “Facing what happened today with the raids at the club’s headquarters and the detentions of Barca’s ex-president Josep Maria Bartomeu and other executives of the club, our team want to express our utmost respect for the actions conducted by the judiciary and police authorities as well as utmost respect towards the principle of presumption of innocence.

“We are deeply saddened by these events that cause enormous harm to the image of our club.”

A club statement on Monday said they were co-operating fully with the investigation, stating: “Regarding the entry and search by the Catalan Police force this morning… FC Barcelona have offered up their full collaboration to the legal and police authorities to help make clear facts which are subject to investigation.

“The information and documentation requested by the judicial police force relate strictly to the facts relative to this case. FC Barcelona expresses its utmost respect for the judicial process in place and for the principle of presumed innocence for the people affected within the remit of this investigation.”

Koeman on Xavi rumours: I haven’t talked to anybody

Ronald Koeman
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Ronald Koeman was defiant when asked about talk linking Xavi Hernandez to the Barcelona job

Rumours suggest a new club president could bring former player Xavi Hernandez back to Barcelona as head coach.

The former Barca player told FIFA last week “it would be a dream” to manage Barca one day, but added that he respected Koeman and wished the Dutchman well in the role.

Speaking about the rumours, Koeman said: “I haven’t talked to anybody. I think we must wait to find out who the next president will be and then learn about his plans for the club and his future technical staff, and then we will talk.

“And if I don’t see a good future for myself here then we will have a problem, because I have another year of contract.”

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Bartomeu among ex-Barcelona officials arrested

Former president Josep Maria Bartomeu was among four ex-Barcelona officials arrested on Monday, according to widespread reports in Spain, as the club’s Nou Camp offices were also raided by Catalan police.

Current chief executive Oscar Grau, ex-director of legal services Gomez Ponti, and advisor to the president Jaume Masferrer were the other three detained by Mossos d’Esquadra, the force confirmed to Spanish radio station Onda Cero.

The operation is in connection with last year’s ‘Barcagate’, in which club officials were accused of launching a smear campaign against current and former players, who were critical of the club and Bartomeu.

Barcelona had denied accusations that they hired and overpaid a company to make negative comments about their own players and opponents on social media in order to boost the image of senior officials. The company was accused of using fake social media accounts to discredit opposition figures when they expressed views that went against the club.

Roman Gomez Ponti
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Roman Gomez Ponti leaves Les Corts police station in Barcelona after his arrest on Monday

Some of the figures supposedly included players such as Lionel Messi – who was unhappy and unsettled at Barcelona at the time – defender Gerard Pique, as well as former head coach Pep Guardiola. The club later released an independent audit report showing that there had been no wrongdoing.

Bartomeu and his board of directors resigned last year amid fallout from the controversy surrounding Messi and ahead of the upcoming presidential elections, which are to be held in less than a week’s time.

Presidential candidate Joan Laporta also confirmed the arrest of Bartomeu on Monday and said the day’s events would cause “enormous harm to the image of our club”.

Catalan police leave the Nou Camp offices after the raid on Monday
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Catalan police leave the Nou Camp offices after the raid on Monday

He said: “Facing what happened today with the raids at the club’s headquarters and the detentions of Barca’s ex-president Josep Maria Bartomeu and other executives of the club, our team want to express our utmost respect for the actions conducted by the judiciary and police authorities as well as utmost respect towards the principle of presumption of innocence.

“We are deeply saddened by these events that cause enormous harm to the image of our club.”

A club statement on Monday said they were co-operating fully with the investigation, stating: “Regarding the entry and search by the Catalan Police force this morning … FC Barcelona have offered up their full collaboration to the legal and police authorities to help make clear facts which are subject to investigation.

“The information and documentation requested by the judicial police force relate strictly to the facts relative to this case. FC Barcelona express its utmost respect for the judicial process in place and for the principle of presumed innocence for the people affected within the remit of this investigation.”

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