Thursday, March 29, 2012

Barca vs. Milan 0 - 0

From Fox Soccer:

AC Milan held Barcelona to an entertaining 0-0 draw on Wednesday in the opening leg of the quarterfinals, the first time in 30 matches and more than two years that the Spanish team had been held scoreless in the Champions League.

The last time Barcelona failed to score in the Champions League was in the 0-0 draw with Rubin Kazan in November 2009.

Milan will find out in the return leg at the Camp Nou next Tuesday how much it will regret Robinho's woeful miss early on, while Barcelona should've had a first-half penalty when Alexis Sanchez was brought down by goalkeeper Christian Abbiati.

Lionel Messi, who has scored 55 times this season, had a goal rightly ruled out for offside at the San Siro.
This is only the second time a match between these two European heavyweights has ended scoreless in 14 meetings.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who spent an unhappy season at Barcelona, was also kept quiet although he should have done better with two opportunities.

These teams played each other in the group stage, with defending champion Barcelona beating Milan 3-2 in November in their last matchup. And the opening stages of this game appeared to promise a similar amount of goals.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pre-Season News

As La Liga winds down and the MLS, NASL and USL-PRO leagues prepare to gear up for the upcoming season, its time to visit our favorite domestic teams to see how they are shaping up.

DC United scored its first points of the new season this past weekend, by posting a 0-0 draw against the talented Vancouver Whitecaps.  With one point now in the league standings, it's too early to judge how effective this United side might really be, but we're glad to see the black and red back on the pitch once again.

In NASL action, our beloved Fort Lauderdale Strikers scored a 7-2 pre-season thumping of Barry University this weekend, showing the kind of form that brought the Strikers to the NASL championship game last season.  With off-season moves that strengthen the defense, we expect the Strikers to be as good or even better than they were last season.  The Strikers open their season on March 31 against in-state rival Tampa Bay Rowdies in the latest rendition of the Florida Derby.

Speaking of Tampa Bay... we are happy to note that the franchise has finally resolved its trademark dispute with the previous owners of the Rowdies trademark and logo, and as of December 2011 the franchise is once again known as the Tampa Bay Rowdies.  This move at last fully restores the colors and traditions of the old NASL teams that built the Florida Derby back in the 1970's and 80's. 

Finally, in USL-Pro League action, Jedi Soccer's favorite USL team, the Charleston Battery, dropped a 2-0 pre-season match against the Wilmington Hammerheads.  The Battery's home opener is on Saturday April 14.

As the European season overlaps with the US domestic season, this is a rich time of the year for Jedi Soccer, as we track and write about our favorite Jedi Soccer sides:  FC Barcelona, DC United, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and the Charleston Battery. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Messi Becomes Barcelona Career Scoring Leader

From The Washington Post:

Step aside John Cruyff. Move over Laszlo Kubala, Romario and Ronald Koeman. And, please, don’t even mention Ronaldinho.

If anyone doubted who is the best scorer to don Barcelona’s burgundy and blue, Lionel Messi ended the debate in emphatic fashion on Tuesday night with a hat trick to become the club’s career goals leader.

Messi broke Cesar Rodriguez’s 57-year-old Barcelona record, getting his eighth hat trick of the season in a 5-3 Spanish league win over Granada that increased his goals total to 234.

“We are before the best player in absolutely every facet,” Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said. “He is capable of everything that a football player must do and he does it every three days. I am sorry for those who want to dethrone him, but he is simply different from all the rest. Messi has entered the history of the club at just 24 years of age. If he continues like this in the coming years, he will score so many goals that he will never be surpassed.”

Guardiola said that Messi was to soccer what Chicago Bulls great Michael Jordan was to basketball.
“Jordan dominated his sport and Messi dominates this one,” the former Barcelona midfielder said. “The first thing about Messi to point out is his mentality. He has great quality, of course. But the important thing is his mental strength.”

While Cesar set the mark in 13 seasons from 1942-1955, Messi needed just under eight campaigns to pass his milestone.

“He is defining an era. He is the best,” Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdez said.

Nicknamed “The Flea” for his headlong, goal-bound bursts, Messi made his Barcelona debut in 2004.
He tied Cesar’s record on a left-footed shot in the 17th minute for his 232nd goal, then chipped the goalkeeper for a 3-2 lead in the 67th. He added a goal from a tight angle in the 86th, increasing his season total to a career-best 54.

A three-time FIFA player of the year, Messi has 17 goals during a seven-game scoring streak and leads La Liga with 34 goals, two ahead of Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

The hat trick was Messi’s 18th for Barcelona and gave him 154 goals in his last 153 games over three seasons. His six hat tricks in La Liga this season tie the record set by Ronaldo last year.

Messi has scored 153 goals in the Spanish league, 49 in the Champions League, 19 in the Copa del Rey, eight in the Spanish Supercup, four in the Club World Cup and one in the European Supercup.

Late Monday, Barcelona announced Cesar’s total from 1942-55 was three fewer than the team previously said. A review by Barcelona’s Center of Documentation and Studies and the La Vanguardia newspaper determined Cesar did not score goals attributed to him during the 1947-48, 1948-49, 1949-50 and 1952-53 seasons and also credited him with an additional goal in 1945-46.

Barcelona’s sixth consecutive league win cut first-place Real Madrid’s lead to five points ahead of its game at Villarreal on Wednesday.

“Messi was calm as always after the game and thanked us all for our efforts,” said Cristian Tello, who also scored for Barcelona. “I have no doubt that he will end up as the best to have ever played this sport. Each game he shows that he is on another level. He doesn’t stop surprising us.”

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Messi Scores Five !

From Huffington Post Sports:

For all the astonishing feats in his young career, Lionel Messi had never scored five goals in a professional game. And no one had ever scored five times in a Champions League match.

Well, check both of those off.

With another mesmerizing performance, Messi helped defending champion Barcelona crush Bayer Leverkusen 7-1 Wednesday night to advance to the quarterfinals with a 10-2 aggregate win.

"Without Messi, Barca is the best team," Leverkusen coach Robin Dutt said. "And with him, they are in another galaxy."

The three-time FIFA player of the year scored in the 25th, 42nd and 49th minutes for a 3-0 lead and his 17th career hat trick for Barcelona, then added goals in the 58th and 84th minutes for the first five-goal game of his professional career.

"We'll never see a player like him again," Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said. "He is one of a kind."

The last time a player scored five goals in European soccer's top club competition had been when Ajax's Soren Lerby did it against Omonia in the old Champion Clubs' Cup in 1979-80.

"Messi is a joke. For me the best ever," Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney wrote on Twitter.

"I can't remember the last time I scored five goals, so I'm very happy," Messi said. "It's nice to score five goals.

"What was important was to win," Messi said. "That's what we wanted to achieve, now we're in the quarterfinals and we did it impressively."

Monday, March 5, 2012

Barca Surges Past Sporting

From Daily News & Analysis:

"FC Barcelona, playing without their talisman Lionel Messi who was suspended for the game, beat Sporting Gijon 3-1 at the Camp Nou. 

The win takes Barca to within seven points of Real Madrid.

Sporting manager Javier Clemente began the game on Saturday without a striker in his side and a packed defence to try and stop Barcelona, Xinhua reported.

The Catalans had two good penalty appeals turned down in the first half before Andres Iniesta opened the scoring following a brilliant passing move from the reigning league champions.

The game looked to be clearly going Barca's way, but it changed radically in the first minute of the second half, when Gerard Pique was sent off for supposedly bringing down Miguel de las Cuervas. It looked a harsh decision and more so when David Barral turned home a low cross from the resulting free kick.

Barca lost their shape and were unable to break down a well organised Sporting until Keita scored a fine left foot shot with 11 minutes remaining. It was his first league goal of the season.

Xavi Hernandez sealed the win after linking with Andres Iniesta two minutes from time. The midfielder took a magnificent through ball and clipped the ball over the keeper into the net."

Next up for FC Barcelona is a date with Bayer Leverkusen this Wednesday in Champions League competition.