Saturday, April 15: Barcelona vs. Real Sociedad at Camp Nou, Barcelona in La Liga
An exciting first half propelled Barcelona to a key victory against Real Sociedad. Leo Messi scored twice to help lead his club. Sociedad had a great chance in the 12th minute, but Mikel Oyarzabal shot directly at goaltender Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Five minutes later, Luis Suarez set up Messi and he capitalized from outside the area. A little while later he scored from close range after Sociedad’s goalkeeper turned away Suarez. Sociedad was helped out when Samuel Umtiti blundered and scored an own goal. Nonetheless, the Blaugrana responded quickly when Paco Alcacer scored after a set up from Messi. Still not quite at the break, Sociedad’s Xabi Prieto got the ball past ter Stegen and into the goal, cutting the deficit to 3-2. The second half was much more calm as Real Sociedad shut down Messi and Barcelona’s attack. However, Barcelona’s defense and Marc-Andre ter Stegen held strong to secure the victory. Messi has now scored more goals from outside box this season than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues, with seven. Alcacer has also scored in four of his last seven La Liga games.
Wednesday, April 19: Barcelona vs. Juventus at Camp Nou, Barcelona in Leg 2 of the UEFA Champion’s League Quarterfinals
Barcelona would have needed a fantastic comeback to advance. Instead, a scoreless draw sealed the deal as Juventus moves on and Barcelona is out at this stage for the second year in a row. Juventus has now gone 531 minutes in the Champion’s League without giving up a goal and is the first team to not lose to Barcelona at Camp Nou in the last 16 Champion’s League games. Juventus had a strong chance early on but failed to capitalize as Barcelona slowly showed up to play. Barcelona put pressure on their opponents and forced some turnovers, but could not find the net. Juve’s goaltender Gianluigi Buffon was hardly tested. Ultimately, Juventus might be the team to beat in the Champion’s League.
Image: Neymar and former Barcelona player Dani Alves fight for the ball during Wednesday’s Champion’s League quarterfinal second leg at Camp Nou. Credit: AP/Emilio Morenatti, http://www.newsday.com/sports/soccer/barcelona-vs-juventus-uefa-champions-league-quarterfinals-leg-2-pictures-1.13493211
Barcelona is still trying their best to have Neymar’s three-match suspension lifted. The team was hoping to have it delayed until after the coming El Clasico, even having Neymar travel to Madrid with the team. At this point, however, as they await the sports tribunal’s appeal decision, it appears as if Neymar will have to sit out the match.
Former legend Ronaldinho will be wearing a Barcelona shirt in a matchup between Barca legends and Real Madrid Legends. The matchup is set to take place April 28th in Beirut, Lebanon. This will be Ronaldinho’s debut for the program.
Turkish real estate agency Nef has become a new sponsor for the club. Nef, the main sponsor for the Turkish football club Galatasaray for the past year, aims to replicate its success in Europe and tell Turkey’s story to the world. This sponsorship will not be a jersey sponsorship, but instead an official one. Final details will be coming within the next few days. This continues the trend of Turkish companies sponsoring European sports clubs in recent years.
The Week Ahead:
The main story for the week ahead is El Clasico. This matchup will take place between Barcelona and Real Madrid in Madrid on Sunday. A loss for Barca would put them six points behind Real Madrid in the La Liga standings and certainly hurt their chances at the title. It will definitely be a game to watch.