El Clasico, The LaLiga Fixture With An Unrivaled International Flavour

Just a glance at the countries from around the world to have been represented in the world’s biggest domestic club fixture show just how much of a global game El Clasico has become over the years.

There will be a big international flavour to May 6’s LaLiga Clasico, with players from 14 different countries set to feature in the likely Barcelona and Real Madrid squads for the game at the Camp Nou.

Stars from many of world football’s biggest and most successful countries will of course be present, including previous World Cup winning nations Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, France and Uruguay.

But players from other nations all over the world have also represented both Barcelona and Real Madrid throughout El Clasico’s long and storied history, among them these eight which demonstrate the true global reach of the biggest fixture in world football.
1. Cameroon – Samuel Eto’o [Barcelona 2004-09]
Former Real Madrid youth teamer Samuel Eto’o featured in eight LaLiga Clasicos after moving to Barcelona in 2004, scoring four goals and providing three assists against his old side. A three-time league title winner with Barça, the centre-forward also played for Real Mallorca and scored 162 goals during his time in LaLiga, making him Africa’s all-time top-scorer in the competition.

2. Mexico – Hugo Sanchez [Real Madrid 1985-1992]
Hugo Sanchez scored eight goals in 13 LaLiga Clasicos during his seven seasons at Real Madrid. To this day the Mexican international’s five converted penalties remain a record for the fixture. Recently he recalled how the adrenaline rush from scoring in El Clasico was so great that he would jump even higher than normal during his signature somersault celebrations!

3. Philippines – Paulino Alcantara [Barcelona 1912-27]
Paulino Alcantara is to date the only Asian-born player to play for Barcelona’s senior side and scored the team’s first ever hat-trick against Real Madrid during a 6-6 Copa del Rey draw in 1916. A second El Clasico hat-trick ranks among his 369 goals in 357 game for the Catalans. Alcantara, who was born in Manila, also scored a hat-trick for the Philippines national side against Japan in Tokyo in 1917.

4. New Caledonia – Christian Karembeu [Madrid 1997-2000]
The only Pacific Islander to play in El Clasico is New Caledonia-born Christian Karembeu, who featured three times for Real Madrid against Barça in the late 1990s. A 1998 World Cup winner with France and a two-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid, Karembeu is now a LaLiga Ambassador who has attended El Clasico events in South Africa and Vietnam in recent years.

5. Mali – Seydou Keita [Barcelona 2008-12]
Seydou Keita boasts an enviable record of five wins and one draw from his six LaLiga Clasicos as a Barcelona player. The Mali international is also the African to have played most times in the fixture across all competitions [nine]. A three-time LaLiga winner with Barça, he also represented Sevilla and Valencia during his long and successful career in Spanish football.

6. Chile – Ivan Zamorano [Real Madrid 1992-96]
Ex-Chile international Ivan Zamorano scored in five consecutive El Clasico matches in the 1990s, a record only broken by current Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo during the 2012/13 LaLiga season. ‘Bam Bam’ was fundamental as ‘Los Merengues’ won the 1994/95 LaLiga title, winning the top scorer award with 28 goals, including a hat-trick in a memorable 5-0 Clasico victory at the Santiago Bernabeu.

7. Ivory Coast – Yaya Toure [Barcelona 2007-10]
Yaya Toure won four of his six LaLiga Clasicos during his three seasons as a Barcelona player, including an unforgettable 6-2 victory at the Bernabeu in 2009. The Ivory Coast international and current Manchester City midfielder won back-to-back LaLiga titles with the Camp Nou side in 2008/09 and 2009/10.


8. Dominican Republic – Mariano Diaz [Real Madrid 2016-17]
Last season’s LaLiga Clasico at the Camp Nou was the first to feature a player from a Caribbean nation when Dominican Republic international Mariano Diaz came on as a substitute for Real Madrid.

LA CORUNA, SPAIN – APRIL 26: Mariano Diaz of Real Madrid reacts during the La Liga match between RC Deportivo La Coruna and Real Madrid at Riazor Stadium on April 26, 2017 in La Coruna, Spain. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

He may have only been on the pitch for four minutes but it was enough for Sergio Ramos to equalise and gain a point which ultimately helped his side win the 2016/17 LaLiga title.

 

Which Stars Support Which Team In La Liga’s ‘Celebrity Clasico’?

The Barcelona and Real Madrid players taking part in May 6’s LaLiga Clasico at the Camp Nou are household names all over the world – and many of the potential audience of half a billion cheering on their team are global stars themselves.

There are lots of close ties between La Liga and the global world of entertainment, while top performers in many other sports are also keen followers of Spanish football.

Among Barcelona’s biggest backers is Colombian singer, songwriter, and dancer Shakira, who will of course be supporting her partner: the Blaugrana defender Gerard Pique.

Madrid centre-back Sergio Ramos also has a famous other-half in Pilar Rubio, a well known Spanish TV presenter, model and actress.

Jennifer Lopez is a huge Madridista, and wore a Real jersey during a concert in the Spanish capital in 2012. Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin regularly tweets his excitement about big Los Blancos games.


Barca fan Justin Bieber got a backstage look at Lionel Messi and company training when performing in the city in 2016. Rapper Snoop Dogg has worn the Catalan side’s colours more than once onstage.

Many of Hollywood’s A-List celebrities are also close followers of Spanish football. Oscar-winning actress Julia Roberts was starstruck herself on meeting Cristiano Ronaldo at April 2017’s ‘Clasico’ at the Bernabeu.

Roberts’ ‘Pretty Woman’ co-star Richard Gere even travelled with Zinedine Zidane’s team to their Champions League final victory against Atletico Madrid in Milan in 2016. Actors Viggo Mortensen and Russell Crowe are also confessed Madridistas.

Bollywood superstar Ranbir Kapoor is such a big Barca fan that the club made him an honorary member and official ambassador to India in 2011.

Former Terminator and California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has also enjoyed a visit to the Camp Nou.
Within Spain’s own acting community, Madrid born Penelope Cruz grew up a Madrid supporter, but her husband Javier Bardem is a longtime Barca fan.

Past and present stars from other sports will also be tuning in on Sunday for sure. Five time NBA champion with the LA Lakers Kobe Bryant is a massive Barca booster; Oklahoma City Thunder star Carmelo Anthony has trained with Madrid.

New England Patriots two-time Superbowl winner Rob Gronkowski loves Ernesto Valverde’s men, while ex-Cincinatti Bengals wide-receiver Chad Ochocinco cheers on Zidane’s side.

Tennis star Rafael Nadal is a regular Bernabeu visitor and honourary Madrid club member, despite his uncle Miguel Angel Nadal winning five LaLiga titles playing for Barca in the 1990s.

Meanwhile double Wimbledon winner Andy Murray was often at the Camp Nou while training in the Catalan capital as a teenager.

Once the LaLiga Clasico kicks off on Sunday these stars will be like all other fans, glued to the action. Only when the final whistle is blown we will find out which celebrities are on the winning side.

A Look At LaLiga Stars’ Hobbies

LaLiga stars’ hobbies include video games, sports cars, golf, horse-racing, poker and surfing

When not training or playing games, LaLiga’s biggest names all have their own favourite ways to unwind and relax – whether at home, in the garden or on their travels.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi not only features in many football video games, he also regularly plays them himself. The eight-time LaLiga winner has told interviewers he likes to relax by gaming with friends, and has even gone online anonymously to challenge strangers over the internet.

Less competitively, the Argentine has also been seen playing a Barca v Real Madrid ‘Clasico’ against his five year old son Thiago, although we never learned who controlled which side.

Over at Real Madrid, galactico Cristiano Ronaldo is an avid collector of expensive sports cars, with the garage at his house outside the Spanish capital home to a Lamborghini Aventador, Rolls-Royce Ghost, McLaren MP4-12C Spider, Ferrari F12, and two Bugattis – a Chiron and Veyron.

Three-time LaLiga topscorer Ronaldo also likes to share his hobby with his family, having bought his mother a silver Porsche Boxster as a Christmas present a few years back.

Many footballers around the world enjoy a round of golf in their spare time, but few are into the sport quite as much as Ronaldo’s teammate Gareth Bale. Bale is an excellent player with a handicap of just six, and close friend of 2017 US Masters winner and lifelong Madrid fan Sergio Garcia.

The Wales international even recently hired a professional company to recreate three of the ball and stick game’s most famous holes – full size – in the back garden of his family home.

Across the ‘derbi’ divide, Atletico Madrid attacker Antoine Griezmann is a keen horse-racing fan, and part-owner of a prize-winning thoroughbred. Griezmann inherited his passion for the ‘sport of kings’ from his father, and regularly updates his fans via social media of the progress of his stable.

Their three year old colt ‘Tornibush’ won its first race last November in France, with jockey Franck Blondel imitating the owner’s goal celebration as he dismounted afterwards.

Meanwhile, Messi’s teammate Gerard Pique likes to relax by playing cards during his free time, and the Catalan centre-back has compared the risks involved in high-stakes poker to the challenge of keeping out LaLiga’s top forwards on the pitch.

The Spain international is a serious player who has competed in professional tournaments, with a highest finish of fifth in a world championship event in the Catalan capital in August 2017.

More active is the past-time preferred by Athletic Bilbao centre-forward Aritz Aduriz, an all-rounder who in his youth excelled at other sports including cross-country skiing and snowboarding.


Surfing is now his second love [after] football of course], having learned to ride the waves as a teenager on Bilbao’s La Zurriola beach.
The veteran still visits renowned surfing spots along the Basque coast such as Zarautz and Biarritz, while he has also taken his board on holidays to Costa Rica and California.

 

Barcelona To Present A New Bid After Liverpool Rejected £114m

Despite having a £114m bid rejected by Liverpool a few days ago, Barcelona has not given up on signing Phillipe Coutinho.

Mundo Deportivo, a Spanish football website, reports that the signing of Coutinho is getting very complicated since Liverpool’s stance remains inflexible and has systematically rejected all offers from Barcelona.

Barcelona now plans to present a new bid on Friday in Monaco when European clubs will gather for the Champions league draw.

Liverpool were given a deadline by Barcelona on Sunday to complete a deal for Philippe Coutinho that has passed. 

Liverpool are yet to qualify for the Champions League since they have a home clash with Hoffenheim on Wednesday but Barca knows the five-time champions league winners will still make it to Monaco even if Hoffe goes through, they would go to Monaco for the draw of the Europa League.

img_ssole_20170820-193402_imagenes_md_otras_fuentes_cou-kwVE-U43712245296XJ-980x554@MundoDeportivo-Web

Barça chiefs attempt to sign Coutinho hoping that this time Liverpool will study it and Coutinho can be a Barça player.

Coutinho’s environment is very discouraged since he considers Liverpool’s position means he will stay at Anfield and not sign for Barca. But the club is not pessimistic and hopes to convince the Merseyside team.

Unlike Borussia Dortmund, who have already put a price on Dembélé , Liverpool does not even want to put a price on the Brazilian, so the drama can be extended until the last day of the transfer market.

The biggest signing Liverpool can make this transfer is keeping Phil. I don’t see any defence capable of stopping the attack to be put by Lallana, Sturridge, Mane, Firmino, Mane, Henderson, Can and Coutino all fit.

What You Need To Know About Messi’s Upcoming Wedding

Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi is set to marry his fiancée Antonella Roccuzzo on June 30 in what will be the wedding of the decade that they have dominated football with Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo is definitely not invited though some of us have started planning on how to get to Argentina.

CR7s

The Barcelona forward will tie the knot in the suburb of Arroyo Seco in the pair’s hometown of Rosario in north-eastern Argentina.

Messi and Roccuzzo have been together for almost a decade and they will marry just a few days after the forward celebrates his 30th birthday.

Messi and Kids

They will also have a second ceremony in for 600 guests at the ‘9 reinas’ restaurant in Barcelona, according to reports.

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has not been invited to Lionel Messi’s wedding after a personal problem between Shakira and the Argentine’s wife-to-be, according to Spanish newspaper El Pais

The issue between the pair reportedly stems from a problem Messi’s fiancee, Antonella Roccuzzo, has with how Pique began his relationship with pop star Shakira.

Pique

Roccuzzo was close friends with the Spaniard’s former girlfriend Nuria Tomas and was unhappy with how the couple ended the relationship.

Messi has decided to do what Xavi did when he married Nuria Cunillera and not invite members of the club’s board to the wedding. 

Messi Xavi

It is understood he also took the decision to avoid any conflict between former Barcelona presidents Joan Laporta and Sandro Rosell.

It will take place at the Hotel Pullman in the city centre of Rosario, where nearly all of the 250 rooms have been booked for their guests to stay over.

It remains a secret as to who exactly is on the list of invitees, although it has been confirmed that all 21 of the other Barcelona first team squad members have received an invitation.

Sergio Aguero’s partner, La Princesita Karina, is also rumoured to be in line for a short performance.

What does one buy someone who earned around £62 million last year? Apparently, the correct answer is nothing.

Instead of asking for material gifts, the couple are requesting donations to his charity, the Leo Messi Foundation, which supports children in health care, education, and sport.

Rumors have swirled about the details of the wedding, and there have been numerous reported changes to the arrangements.

Messi cup

Local wedding planners Farina-Pavia confirmed they had been hired to organize the event, but said they had signed a confidentiality agreement not to talk about it.

Messi has reportedly requested that the wedding feast be made up of local specialities such as “empanada” pasties, “locro” stew and typical Argentina roast meat.

Authorities insist that security will not be a problem, even though Rosario is considered one of the most dangerous cities in Argentina.

The City Center complex is next to one of the city’s roughest districts.

A local government source told AFP the Messi family had asked that “the wedding not affect the daily life of the city or the traffic.”

Argentina media reported that Messi’s own security team will take care of his security.

Rosario newspaper La Capital said the bride would wear a dress by Spanish designer Rosa Clara.

See you there!

 

Barcelona Undone By Paris Pressing

Barcelona were undone by a combination of Paris Saint-Germain’s intense high pressing and a change in approach that has made the Blaugrana more vulnerable, writes Graham Hunter.

When a team of such ability, pedigree and fierce competitive pride are beaten as comprehensively as Barcelona were overcome by Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, it would be foolhardy to suggest either that there was one single cause or that it was just a bad day at the office.

Barcelona were thumped 4-0 like this four years ago, at Bayern München in the semi-finals, with Xavi Hernández arguing not only that it was largely a product of Barça being in a worse physical state than their opponents, but also that there wasn’t really that much between the sides after all.

Two seasons later, some of his points were substantiated when the Catalans eliminated Bayern in another UEFA Champions League semi-final en route to winning the treble. But this both feels and looks different.

The degree of superiority between Paris and the Spanish champions in this game was greater than in Munich in April 2013. Without taking any credit away from the victorious French title holders, nobody who has been watching Barcelona closely in recent months can actually be surprised that this has happened.

Luis Enrique introduced the concept that, in order to catch opponents out, it was a good idea to be less intricate, less possession-based in creating forward movements in matches.

That was because, as many of his players acknowledged, there were three extraordinary strikers up front who needed fewer openings and less of the work done for them before they could score.

So what, then, is the connection between what’s gone on since that decision and this 4-0 round of 16 first-leg hammering in Paris?

Well, gradually over the months, Barcelona have enjoyed less possession, dominated games less, proved less able to exert control, and have been more and more susceptible to being pressed.

Often the brilliance in the Blaugrana squad can make Luis Enrique’s side look not just healthy, but extremely dangerous. His reign has brought a flood of trophies.

But when a tactically superb, physically excellent, dynamic, confident and effervescent team like Paris truly go after this version of Barça, it’s hard not to ask whether some of the clear-cut ‘Cruyff’ concepts, which Josep Guardiola held so dear, have become a little rusty.

Positional play is less important, the passing is more often at human, rather than super-human, speed, the pressing of opponents ebbs and flows. This has become a side that, when the front three are playing exceptionally, can beat anyone.

Yet they are also a team who, if under the cosh, suddenly have fewer ‘systematic’ remedies. And no Xavi any more.

To say it’s impossible for Barcelona to turn round this knockout tie when their forward line is so exceptional would be to deny the history of this extraordinary competition. However, those who have followed the Blaugrana closely this term may not be holding their breath.

-UEFA

Messi wonder goal secures Barcelona a point

It took a sublime free kick from Lionel Messi to salvage a deserved point for Barcelona against Villareal on Sunday as as the game crept into stoppage time. 

Nicola Sansone fired the hosts ahead, a low angled finish after ex-Chelsea loan signing Alexandre Pato’s threaded pass.

Messi hit a post and Barca were denied a penalty when Bruno handled a shot by the Argentina forward, before Messi’s brilliant set-piece goal.

Barcelona are now five points behind Real Madrid in the La Liga title race, having played a game more, after they drew 1-1 with Villarreal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCj07Ljvk6c

Luis Suarez To Sign New contract With Barcelona

Luis Suarez has finally ended speculation over his future by agreeing a new five-year deal at Barcelona.

Barcelona announced on Thursday that Luis Suarez signed a new contract that will keep him at the club until 2021.

The striker who joined Barcelona in 2014 from Liverpool and has won two La Liga titles, two Copa del Reys and a Champions League with Luis Enrique’s side.

Suarez’s contract renewal comes two months after Neymar penned a new deal with the club. “I feel complete happiness because I am where I want to be,” Suarez told sky News..

“It’s now official. I never put any obstacles in the way of a renewal. I will never lose my ambition and enthusiasm for winning trophies and scoring goals.”

Messi is yet to sign fresh terms with the club as much as his current deal expires in 2018. 

Messi meets Afghan boy who became viral star

An Afghan boy who became an online hit after wearing a homemade shirt bearing Lionel Messi’s famous number 10 has finally met his hero.

A photograph of six-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi wearing the shirt made from a striped blue plastic bag went viral in January and ended with the boy receiving a signed shirt from the Barcelona striker.

viral

But now the pair have come face to face in Doha, according to Qatar’s World Cup organising committee.

Barcelona are in Qatar to play a friendly against Al Ahli.

messi1

“The image the world wanted to see,” tweeted the Supreme Committee on Tuesday. “The six-year old boy who dreamed of meeting his hero, #Messi, finally comes true.”

Ahmadi, who comes from the Jaghori District, in the eastern Ghazni province of Afghanistan, was forced to flee the country to Pakistan in May.

-BBC

Neymar Could Face 2 Year Jail Term!

Barcelona forward Neymar may be going or jail..Or maybe not.

Spanish prosecutors are seeking a two-year prison sentence for Barcelona forward Neymar along with a $10.6m fine for his part in a corruption case that surrounds his controversial move from Santos to Barcelona in 2013, a court filing said.

The case stems from a complaint by Brazilian investment group DIS, which owned 40% of Neymar’s transfer rights and alleges it received less money than it was entitled to from transfer fee.

Rosell resigned as the club’s president in 2014 for his role in the affair and testified in court in February alongside Bartomeu, Neymar and Neymar’s father.

The club struck a deal with prosecutors in June to settle a separate case and paid a £4.7million fine and avoided trial on charges of tax evasion over the transfer.

Barca thought they had brought the affair to a close when Judge Jose de la Mata archived the case in June, although Spain’s public prosecutor successfully overturned the ruling in September, allowing the case to proceed.

However, Neymar is unlikely to serve any prison time if he is convicted as, under Spanish law, any sentence of two years or under in duration can be suspended.

Neymar is not the only Barcelona player facing legal charges.

Lionel Messi, along with his father, was handed a 21-month jail sentence in July, after being found guilty of tax fraud.

The likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and Manchester City – two of the few clubs who could afford Neymar’s large transfer fee and hefty wages – will no doubt be watching the case closely just in case the player gets sick of being called a criminal at Barcelona.