Connect with us

Sports

Analysis: Supercup defeat exposes big problems for FC Barcelona

FI

Published

on

MADRID, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) — FC Barcelona’s 4-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey in Riyadh on Sunday night was a painful slap across the face for fans who believed their side still has the chance to overtake their eternal rivals this season.

Barca coach Xavi Hernandez has continued to insist Barca can make up a seven-point deficit with Real Madrid at the top of La Liga, and although there is no mathematical reason it can’t recover seven points in 19 matches, the footballing reality on display on Sunday night says it’s impossible.

To put things brutally, Barcelona was quite simply outplayed by a Real Madrid side, that was faster, more aggressive and played better football than it did.

Hardcore Barca fans will point to an injury list containing Marc Andre Ter Stegen, Gavi, Inigo Martinez, Raphinha, Marcos Alonso and Joao Cancelo, and say Pedri has only just returned from his second-long injury layoff of the season.

A Madrid fan would straight-bat that back, arguing that Real Madrid is missing Eder Militao, David Alaba, Thibaut Courtois and Lucas Vazquez and Carlo Ancelotti has been able to negotiate his way around a long list of absences so far this campaign.

The main reason for that is that Real Madrid has a better squad with players such as Brahim Diaz coming in from the fringes to become important players, while others such as Luke Modric, Toni Kroos, Eduardo Camavinga, Fede Valverde, Dani Ceballos and Aurelien Tchouameni have allowed Ancelotti to manage his options in midfield.

Brahim stepped up when Vinicius was recovering from his hamstring problems, Rodrygo has started to score goals on a regular basis and despite rumors that he is unhappy at less game time this season, Modric has provided quality and vision when needed.

It’s obvious that Gavi’s knee injury has been a serious blow to Barcelona and it clearly miss his pace and aggression in midfield. Frenkie de Jong and Ilkay Gundogan are both fine players, but is more diesel engines and doesn’t snap into its rivals as Gavi does.

Likewise, Pedri’s constant muscle problems (possibly because he was overplayed when he was just 17 and 18) have robbed Barca of a player able to up the game a pace.

Inigo Martinez arrived on a free transfer from Athletic Club Bilbao in the summer and after recovering from a foot injury quickly became first choice, but Martinez is another player who has a worrying injury history in recent seasons and can’t be relied on, while left back Alejandro Balde, suddenly seems to be in a confidence crisis and Barca misses the aggression of Jordi Alba.

The main problem on Sunday night was Barca’s tactics: against a Real Madrid side that specializes in the counter-attack, Xavi tried to play a defensive line virtually on the halfway line.

The only way that was going to work was if Barca’s attacking players were able to press the Madrid defense and midfield and rob possession as they looked to play the ball out, but if your center-forward is 35-year-old Robert Lewandowski, who is starting to show signs of slowing down, and he is accompanied by Sergi Roberto, a barely-fit Pedri and the talented, but languid Ferran Torres, that’s almost impossible to do.

Real Madrid found space for the pass behind the defense and the pace of Vinicius and Rodrygo did the rest. While when Barca attacked, Madrid got players behind the ball and closed the gaps and with nobody to push things into second and third gear, Barca had the ball, but did little with it.

It also helps explain why Barca had a run of 20 matches without winning a game by more than two goals ahead of its semi-final against Osasuna.

Xavi’s Plan-A failed and so far there is little sign he has a Plan-B and while Barca will still beat lesser sides due to inertia rather than brilliance, unless something drastic happens, it can forget any hopes of winning La Liga this time around.

Source(s): sun.mv

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Sports

Dortmund stuns Atletico in dramatic Champions League quarters

FI

Published

on

By

BERLIN, April 16 (Xinhua) — Borussia Dortmund turned around a 2-1 first-leg defeat by clinching a hard-earned 4-2 victory over resilient Atletico Madrid in the second leg on home soil on Tuesday.

Dortmund advanced 5-4 on aggregate into the Champions League semifinals.

The BVB immediately went in search of the goal and came close with just three minutes gone when Marcel Sabitzer’s shot from inside the box was blocked by defender Cesar Azpilicueta in the last nick of time.

Two minutes later, Atletico had the golden chance to extend the aggregate lead, but Alvaro Morata pulled wide with only Dortmund goalkeeper Gregor Kobel to beat.

Dortmund controlled possession though and got rewarded for their efforts at the half-hour mark when Mats Hummel’s defence-splitting through the ball allowed Julian Brandt to fire past Madrid custodian Jan Oblak from a tight angle.

The hosts gained momentum and doubled the lead in the 39th minute as Sabizter teed up for Ian Maatsen, who slotted home from a sharp angle into the far post bottom corner.

After the restart, Los Colchoneros came out with their guns blazing and restored parity on aggregate with the great assistance of Dortmund veteran Mats Hummels, who accidentally cleared Mario Hermoso’s dangerous header into the wrong goal.

Things went from bad to worse for Dortmund as Atletico increased the pressure before retaking the aggregate lead with 69 minutes gone as Dortmund’s defense couldn’t clear the ball from the area, allowing Angel Correa to hammer the ball into the roof of the net, making it 2-2 on the scoreboards.

Dortmund was flabbergasted but bounced back with two goals in quick succession. First, Niclas Fullkrug made it 3-2 on the scoreboards in the 71st minute after heading home Sabitzer’s pinpoint cross before the Austrian international got his name on the scoreboards as well after unleashing a hammer past Oblak two minutes later.

Atletico opened up and pressed frenetically for a goal, but Dortmund’s defense stood firm to claim the team’s first semi-final since 2013. The BVB will encounter Paris Saint-Germain in the next round.

“I am really happy and proud of the boys. We were the better and more active team today. That is why we deserved to advance into the next round,” said Dortmund coach Edin Terzic.

“We had the chance to draw the game and go ahead in the tie but, when you don’t take advantage of your chances, this happens, even more so in the Champions League,” commented Atletico captain Koke.

Source(s): Xinhua

Continue Reading

Sports

Macron says Plan B, Plan C possible for Paris Olympics opening ceremony

FI

Published

on

By

French President Macron revealed contingency plans for the Paris Olympic Games opening ceremony on the River Seine due to potential security risks, including the possibility of relocating to the Stade de France.

PARIS, April 15 (Xinhua) — The organizers have prepared alternatives to staging the highly-anticipated Paris Olympic Games opening ceremony on the River Seine if there are excessive security risks, French president Emmanuel Macron admitted on Monday.

As the countdown to the Olympics reaches the critical 100-day mark, Macron spoke to French broadcasters RMC and BFM TV inside the Grand Palais. While he reiterated his confidence in successfully hosting the ceremony on the Seine, he also acknowledged that alternative plans were under consideration due to potential security challenges.

“If we think there are security risks we’ll have Plan Bs, and even Plan Cs,” he said. “We are preparing them in parallel. We will do an analysis in real time. We have a ceremony which would be limited to the Trocadero and which would therefore not cover the entire Seine.”

Macron also mentioned the possibility of relocating the ceremony to the Stade de France.

“This is what is traditionally done,” he added.

Hosting the opening ceremony in the open urban space was a highly imaginative move by the Paris organizing committee and the local government.

According to the current plan, about 10,500 athletes are expected to travel approximately six kilometers from east to west along the Seine, disembarking near the Eiffel Tower at Trocadero Square for the celebration. An estimated 300,000 spectators are anticipated to watch the event live from both sides of the river.

However, security has been a significant concern from the outset of planning. The increasing risk of potential terrorist attacks is a critical consideration for both the organizing committee and the French government.

The Olympic flame for the Paris Games will be lit on April 16 in ancient Olympia, Greece. April 17 will mark the 100-day countdown to the opening of the Paris Olympics.

The Paris Olympics will take place between July 26 and August 11, followed by the Paris Paralympics from August 28 to September 8.

Source(s): Xinhua

Continue Reading

Sports

Xavi’s magic substitutions lead Barcelona to victory in thrilling encounter with PSG

FI

Published

on

By

PARIS, April 10 (Xinhua) — Barcelona’s manager, Xavi Hernandez, showcased his tactical genius by making two substitutions that led directly to goals, propelling his team to a thrilling 3-2 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday.

The game was an emotional rollercoaster, with Barcelona initially taking the lead, only to fall behind, and then executing a stunning comeback.

Brazilian forward Raphinha scored twice, including the opener in the first half, taking advantage of a mistake by PSG’s goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to net his first Champions League goal at the 37-minute mark.

PSG quickly turned the tables after halftime, with Ousmane Dembele and Vitinha scoring to give the Parisians a 2-1 advantage.

It was at this juncture that Xavi made a tactical masterstroke. In the 61st minute, he brought on Rodri and Joao Felix for Lamine Yamal and Sergi Roberto, a change that quickly paid off.

Pedri, just two minutes after coming on, lofted a perfect pass to Raphinha, who calmly finished past Donnarumma, drawing the teams level.

In the 76th minute, Xavi’s strategic acumen was on display again when he substituted Andreas Christensen and Ferran Torres for Frenkie de Jong and the key player Raphinha. Christensen scored with a header from a corner just a minute later, sealing a dramatic comeback for Barcelona.

“Pedri came on and helped us a lot. I’m very proud of the team. Christensen also came on and helped,” Xavi said. “Tactically we did really well.”

Since Xavi announced his departure from the team at the end of the season following a January defeat to Villarreal, Barcelona has been unbeaten in 12 matches across all competitions, a stark contrast to PSG’s previous unbeaten streak of 27 matches, which ended with this loss.

“We made things a bit difficult for ourselves. We managed to turn things around in the second half and could have had a third (goal),” PSG coach Luis Enrique said. “Everything’s still open for us and we will go there with ambition.”

The return leg is set for April 16th at Barcelona’s home ground.

Source(s): Xinhua

Continue Reading

Trending