Saturday April 8: Barcelona vs. Malaga at La Rosaleda in La Liga
FC Barcelona came to face Malaga with a tight race in the La Liga standing, hoping to secure a victory. With Real Madrid drawing a tie on Saturday April 8th against divisional opponent Atletico Madrid, it opened room for Barcelona to sit atop of the table. In the first half against Malaga, Barca were dominating possession and seemed ready to score. As chances were being created, Malaga’s goalkeeper Carlos Kameni was a brick wall, saving everything coming his way. Malaga slowed down the ply of the game and advanced on created counterattacks. In the 32nd minute of the match, Malaga’s Sandro found the back of the net beating Barcelona’s goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen. Defending was particularly the issues with Barca’s Mathieu having trouble on the goal scored. Going into halftime with a goal deficit, Barcelona was looking for a big comeback. After the break, Malaga’s Sandro kept pressuring the ball almost scoring his second goal in the 57th minute. Luis Enrique decided to make a tactical move by bringing in Andres Iniesta, Sergi Roberto, Paco Alcacer early in the second half. This would allow for increase pressure and possibly give Barcelona the goals they needed. In the 65th minute, Neymar is shown his second yellow card for a reckless foul on Malaga’s Llorente forcing Barcelona to play the rest of the game with only 10 men. In the 90th minute, Malaga’s Jhony scored sealing the game and a 2-0 defeat. Barcelona has failed to score during both appearances versus Malaga, a team that sits at 15th place in the La Liga standings. Barcelona will be looking for key victories with 7 La Liga matches remaining in the 2016/17 season.
Tuesday April 11: Barcelona vs. Juventus at Juventus Stadium in First Leg of the UCL Quarter Final
Paulo Dybala had a brilliant first half performance in the match scoring a goal early in the 7th minute of play and again in the 22nd minute. In the 55th minute, Giorgio Chiellini got his name on the scoring chart with Juventus’ 3rd goal of the game.The Barcelona forwards were heavily contested and there were many chances to score but were not able to capitalize. Barcelona did not have a bad performance, they just could not find the back of the net. Barcelona will need three goals in the second leg against Juventus at the Camp Nou to have a chance to advance in the UCL. Juventus’ midfield consisting of Khedira and Miralem Pjanic pressed the entire game and confused Barcelona player. The chances were there, Lionel Messi had a goal that was disallowed due to Luis Suarez being in an offside potion and Gianluigi Buffon had a great save by a shot from Andres Iniesta. Juventus won the match 3-0 and Barcelona is again in a rough position. Looking forward to seeing a great matchup next week, April 19th, in the second leg of the Champions League
Neymar 3 Match Ban
Neymar received a 3-match suspension for applauding to a ref once he was given a red card for his actions against Malaga on April 8th. Neymar is in hopes of playing in the Clasico against Real Madrid but this three match ban will force him to not be able to play unless Barcelona takes action to fight the suspension. This hurts the Barcelona team because they currently trail Real Madrid by three points in La Liga standings and the Clasico is one of the biggest rivalries in the world. The Brazilian star has 9 goals in the league with 10 assists, a huge contribution to Barcelona’s offense. We will await the decision of the appeal within the upcoming week.
The Argentine soccer player, Javier Mascherano, has another problem with his left calf and there is no set timeframe of his return. This injury was suffered in Barcelona’s 3-0 defeat in the UCL against Juventus. He played the entire 90-minutes of the game and is always a valuable player in the game. This season, Mascherano has made 35 appearances in games while switching from centre back to right full-back throughout the season. His injury will be followed closely.
A Week Ahead
Saturday, April 15: Barcelona vs Real Sociedad at Camp Nou in La Liga
Wednesday, April 19: Barcelona vs Juventus at Camp Nou in Second Leg of the UCL Quarter Final