Tag: FC Barcelona

Lionel Messi: forward was unaware of Neymar’s Barca exit

Lionel Messi said that he was unaware until the very last moment over Neymar’s decision to leave Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain.

Last month, both Gerard Pique and Xavi Hernandez revealed that they found out the Brazilian was off to France while they were at Messi’s wedding to longtime partner Antonela Roccuzzo at the end of June in Rosario, Argentina.

However, despite being briefed on the options Neymar had on the table, Messi says it was much later when he actually learned the deal was going to take place.

“Honestly, no,” he said when asked if he was aware during his wedding that Neymar had plans to join PSG. “Until the last day of the tour [of the United States] we were talking and we didn’t know anything. He said that he still wasn’t clear what to do and he didn’t know what he was doing. Others said they knew. But right until the last minute, we were speaking to him.”

Xavi had told the BBC last month that Neymar “told us at Messi’s wedding that he wanted to change, he wanted to change the club.”

Luis Suarez, who along with Messi and Neymar once formed the famed Barca offensive trident MSN, added that he and Messi tried to convince Neymar to remain at Camp Nou right up until the last possible moment, although without putting too much pressure on him.

“We never said, ‘Don’t go because you won’t be happy,’” Suarez said. “We said, we didn’t want him to go, but that he was free to do what he wanted. Because of the friendship we have, it was painful that he left.”

PSG paid Neymar’s €222 million buyout clause in August to take him to France.

Alcacer double helps Barca edge past Sevilla

Barcelona’s Paco Alcacer scores their first goal during the La Liga Santander match between FC Barcelona and Sevilla, at Camp Nou, in Barcelona, Spain, on November 4, 2017. Photo: Reuters

FC Barcelona needed Paco Alcacer to deliver a double that helped the La Liga leaders to a 2-1 home win over Sevilla for their 10th victory in 11 games.

Alcacer, 24, who had to endure a disappointing first season at the Camp Nou, was making only his second league start of the campaign, but made an impact by putting the hosts ahead midway through the first half by slotting home his first after 23 minutes from Luis Suarez’s long pass..

Even after Guido Pizarro had levelled for Sevilla after the break with a header from a corner, another first-time finish from Alcacer maintaining Barca’s unbeaten run in La Liga. Only three teams — Valencia, Barca and Atletico Madrid — are left unbeaten in the Spanish top-flight at the moment.

The win also maintains Barcelona’s four-point lead at the top of La Liga, with Valencia second, Atletico Madrid third and Real Madrid, who play Las Palmas on Sunday, fourth. Sevilla would remain in fifth following their defeat.

However, they did went close to doing damage to Barca’s campaign through Luis Muriel, whose two long-distance strikes narrowly missed the Barca goal. Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen had little to do otherwise, and was thankful to Nelson Semedo who produced a great block to prevent Pablo Sarabia from testing him.

Alcacer also registered an attempt with a header over from close range, while his team-mate Gerard Pique saw his shot come off the crossbar.

Earlier, Valencia took their tally of league goals to 30 — level with Barca —  with a 3-0 win over Leganes. Dani Parejo, Rodrigo and Santi Mina, with a penalty, ensured their team continued their great start to the season.

Andres Iniesta scores rare goal as Barca stays ahead in La Liga

FC Barcelona has maintained their four-point lead at the top of La Liga with a 2-0 win over the bottom club Málaga at the Camp Nou after Andres Iniesta scored his first goal in over a year.

The Catalan club led within two minutes as Gerard Deulofeu scored his first goal for the club, but it should not have counted as the ball went out of play before Lucas Digne’s crossed for an easy flick-in by Deulofeu.

“It’s absurd, the ball was half a metre out over the line,” said the Málaga defender Luis Hernández afterwards. “Once again, a decision is made that we suffer from. We are not going to blame the referees for our place in the league, but it’s hurting us a lot.”

On the other hand, Barca’s second was less controversial as Lionel Messi found captain Iniesta, whose deflected shot flew past debutant keeper Andres Prieto — his first strike since scoring against Celtic in the Champions League in September 2016.

The game would had been sealed when a fierce shot from Sergio Keko looked to have hit Digne’s hand before cannoning up into his face in the area, but again to Málaga’s disadvantage, nothing was given.

Barca forward Luis Suárez should have scored a third with 15 minutes left but dragged a close-range shot wide after being picked out by Sergi Roberto, while Luis Hernández saw his header drift just past the post at the other end.

The result meant that table leaders Barca are still four points above second-placed Valencia, who remain unbeaten and had impressively dispatched fifth-placed Sevilla 4-0 earlier on Saturday.