El Clasico Set to Go Ahead Amidst Security Concerns

Nov 18, 2015 by Alex Baker

In a week in which terror attacks have cast a long shadow over European football in the bombings in France and the cancellation of scheduled friendlies between Belgium and Spain, and Holland and Germany, this season’s first El Clasico is still set to be played on Saturday.

With the entire continent still grieving and on its guard, the show will go on: Real Madrid will line up against Barcelona, and the people will attempt to take back a little normalcy from the terrorists who have tried to wrest it from them.

Security levels at the Santiago Bernabeu will be heightened, with a major increase expected in the number of police deployed around the stadium, as well as more stringent security checks for fans entering it.

And what of... Read More

El Clasico: Barcelona Optimistic About Messi’s Return

Nov 16, 2015 by Alex Baker

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has been working hard to regain fitness in time for Saturday’s El Clasico showdown with Real Madrid. With the core of the Barça team away on international duty, coach Luis Enrique gave the four-time World Player of the Year, along with the rest of the remaining members of the squad, the weekend off.

But Messi chose to spend his Friday training with the Barça B team in an effort to further speed his progress toward regaining match fitness.

Messi has been out of action since September with a knee ligament injury. In his absence, teammates Luis Suarez and Neymar have done a dutiful job of carrying the mantle.

Suarez, somewhat ironically, is benefiting from his international suspension, at least at club level: Still in... Read More

Messi to Miss El Clasico

Nov 02, 2015 by Alex Baker

The Spanish sporting press reported Monday that Barcelona forward Lionel Messi will not recover from his recent knee injury in time for El Clasico. The looming showdown with Barça’s archrivals, Real Madrid, is set for November 21.

The Argentine ace suffered knee ligament injuries against Las Palmas in late December. While the original prognosis was for eight weeks on the sidelines, recent stories in the Catalan media had suggested that Messi’s recovery had fallen behind schedule.

While thankfully no surgery was required, Messi’s injury, like all knee ligament injuries, was a delicate one. Messi’s initial recovery involved spending a couple of weeks on crutches, and with the Clasico less than three weeks away, he has not yet been able to run consistently without pain.

So while his... Read More

Messi Knee Injury Won’t Require Surgery

Sep 28, 2015 by Alex Baker

Barcelona fans the world over awoke to the happy news Monday morning that Lionel Messi’s knee injury isn’t as bad as feared. While the player is still set to be sidelined for a period of seven to eight weeks, no surgery is required and Messi could return to action sooner than expected, according to Argentina’s team doctor.

Messi suffered an injury to the ligaments in his left knee in Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Las Palmas at the Camp Nou Saturday. After receiving treatment on the pitch, Messi was subbed off in the 10th minute and taken to a nearby clinic for tests.

Despite the hopeful prognosis from Argentina team doctor, Donato Villani, Messi is set to miss a number of important matches, beginning with... Read More

Atletico Looking to Swap Mandzukic for Tevez

Jun 17, 2015 by Alex Baker

With Carlos Tevez already identified as Atletico Madrid’s top transfer target this summer, Juventus, in a bit of football symmetry, have named Atleti striker Mario Mandzukic as the man they would replace the Argentine with. Mandzukic, who had a good but not great season with Atletico, is one of the players the club is reportedly looking to move on this summer.

After falling from last season’s dizzying heights of winning La Liga and making it to the Champions League final, to finish third this season, Diego Simeone is looking to rebuild an Atleti attack that suffered in the wake of Diego Costa’s departure to Chelsea.

While Mandzukic contributed a respectable 12 goals and five assists in the league this season, it was Antoine Griezmann who emerged as Atleti’s... Read More

Messi Magic Elevates Barcelona

May 07, 2015 by Alex Baker

You can take the Ballon D’or, the Pichichi, and all the other records and throw them into the Tyrrhenian Sea. Because if you wanted an answer as to whom the best player in the world is, it came towards the conclusion of Barcelona’s first-leg, semifinal clash against Bayern Munich at the Camp Nou on Wednesday.

The match had been at a deadlock for well over an hour when Messi suddenly turned it on. His first strike came in the 77th minute when from out of nowhere, he fired home a shot from the edge of the box that left the otherwise outstanding Manuel Neuer no chance in the Bayern goal.

He struck again just three minutes later, when he was played in by a nice pass from Ivan Rakitic,... Read More

Messi’s Fine Form Begs the Question: What Might Have Been?

Apr 08, 2015 by Alex Baker

Lionel Messi was on target again for Barcelona against Almeria on Wednesday, opening the scoring in the 33rd minute with a sumptuous curling strike from the edge of the 18. It was the first of four unanswered goals Barça put past Almeria on the day, Messi’s 33rd of the season, and his 21st in this calendar year. Begging the question: why couldn’t he have played like this a year ago on the runup to the World Cup?

The spring of 2014 was a very different time for Messi and Barcelona. Messi was nearly 10 pounds heavier and Barça was in the midst of what would prove to be its first trophy-less season since 2007-08.

They say the two things in life you can’t avoid are death and taxes and apparently... Read More

Messi Named Top Forward in 2015, Ronaldo is 29th

Mar 30, 2015 by Alex Baker

An analysis conducted by the CIES Football Observatory has named Barcelona attacker Lionel Messi the top performing forward in Europe’s elite leagues for 2015, while Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo came in at 29th. The study analyzed players based on six Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, including rigor, recovery, distribution, take-ons, chance creation, and shooting.

Messi has scored 17 goals in La Liga in 2015; Ronaldo has netted just six.

According to the study, it’s Arjen Robben who is Messi’s closest competition. The Bayern Munich winger came in second with his Netherlands teammate, Bas Dost coming third. Messi’s Barça teammate Luis Suarez came in fourth, followed by Chelsea striker Diego Costa in fifth and Tottenham striker Harry Kane in sixth.

While Ronaldo came in at a relatively lowly 29th, that’s significantly... Read More

Messi has ‘Dropped the Pizza’ and Is Ready for El Clasico

Mar 20, 2015 by Alex Baker

After admitting in his own words that 2014 was “a not very good year,” Lionel Messi has lately regained the mercurial form that made him the undisputed best player on Earth for most of the last half decade. As this weekend’s El Clasico looms, the four-time Ballon d’Or winner is flying high once again.

Reports in the Spanish media have it that Messi’s return to form is in part due to a renewed commitment to fitness that included giving up pizza and shedding eight pounds from this time last year.

According to the Catalan daily, Mundo, Messi has refocused his training efforts and has been showing up early for team sessions to do extra work. He’s apparently also been working with a dietician and the kinesiologist for the... Read More

See all Lionel Messi