Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Spain: All square in Super Cup classic (+video)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on August 15, 2011

The first leg of the 2011 Spanish Super Cup took place in the capital city of Madrid last night with those two arch-rivals Real Madrid and FC Barcelona doing battle once more. After five Clásico meetings last season one would imagine that these two giants of world football would be sick of the sight of each other by now. But where there is a trophy to be played for it is almost inevitable that these clubs will feature and their clash on Sunday night was one of the more enjoyable matches in recent history.

2010-11 La Liga champions FC Barcelona had to travel to 2010-11 Copa del Rey winners Real Madrid’s Estadio Santiago Bernabéu and were caught a little off guard in the early stages as Madrid dominated proceedings. The home side’s superior possession and play was rewarded with the game’s first goal after just quarter of an hour when German international Mesut Özil coolly slotted home from close range. But Barcelona would, as they almost always do, come back strong and were 2-1 up at the break after David Villa’s stunning 35th minute equalizer was followed up by Lionel Messi’s strike in first half stoppage time.

But this match, and the tie as a whole, was salvaged by Xabi Alonso who beautifully controlled a low shot past a crowd of players to restore parity for Los Blancos ten minutes after the break. The second leg of this fascinating contest will be played at Barcelona’s Estadi Camp Nou on Wednesday evening with the home side slight favourites to win the trophy for a tenth time. Should Real Madrid defy the odds and win at the home of their arch-rivals then they would equal Barça’s tally of nine in this competition.

FC Barcelona voted Team of the Decade

Posted in European Football by peterbein on January 6, 2010
FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona won the Treble in 2008-09 following it with three more trophies late last year

It was perhaps no surprise that in Stoppage Time’s poll to find out who our readers thought was the best team in the last ten years that the accolade should go to the current Spanish, European and world champions FC Barcelona.They won the poll after securing 56% of the vote ahead of Real Madrid (23%) and Boca Juniors (11%).

Despite the fact that the first half of the decade was success-free for the Catalans it was the club’s more recent exploits that have earned them such acclaim. When Frank Rijkaard took over as coach of the club in 2003-04 the club were looking on enviously at arch-rivals Real Madrid who had already won two Spanish championships, two UEFA Champions Leagues and the Intercontinental Cup (now FIFA Club World Cup) since the noughties decade began. However the club’s fortunes began to change in 2004-05 when the “Blaugrana” won their first Spanish championship in six years finishing four points ahead of “El Real”. The following season, 2005-06, proved to be even more spectacular for the club as they successfully defended their Spanish crown, again beating Real Madrid to the title, this time by a whopping twelve points. In the same season, with a team including Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto’o and Deco, they went on to become European champions for the second time in their history following a 2-1 win over English club Arsenal FC in Paris.

Frank Rijkaard left the club after FC Barcelona finished the 2007-08 empty-handed after it initially seemed to promise much in terms of silverware. However a third-place finish in La Liga was deemed insufficient for the club president Joan Laporta who replaced Rijkaard with inexperienced coach Pep Guardiola, a club legend who had won six championships and the Champions League with Barça as a player. In the new coach’s first full season it was, even by Barcelona’s high standards, truly remarkable. The 2008-09 league championship was secured finishing nine points ahead of perennial challengers Real Madrid. The domestic double was secured after Barcelona won their first Copa del Rey (King’s Cup) in eleven years beating Athletic Bilbao 4-1 in the Estadio Mestalla in Valencia. Then, on a glory night in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, the Catalans achieved the unthinkable by beating defending European champions Manchester United 2-0, thanks to goals from Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi, to secure the title of “Tri Campions” (Treble Champions). Not even Real Madrid, for all their previous success, had managed to achieve such a feat. FC Barcelona joined the likes of Manchester United, Glasgow Celtic, PSV Eindhoven and Ajax Amsterdam as the only European clubs who had won their domestic Double and the European Cup/Champions League in the same season.

But much more was to come from Guardiola’s new Barça “Dream Team”. FC Barcelona won the Spanish Super Cup beating Athletic Bilbao 5-1 on aggregate in the traditional two-legged curtain raiser to the new season. As the 2009-10 season was getting into full swing Barça had to travel to Monte Carlo to play in the European Super Cup against 2008-09 UEFA Cup winners Shakhtar Donetsk from Ukraine. It was a tough match which went the distance but Pedro’s winner in extra-time gave the ‘Blaugrana’ a hard-earned 1-0 victory and the “Sextuple” was on the cards. Finally, in December 2009, FC Barcelona went to the United Arab Emirates to try and achieve the only honour to have eluded the club in their distinguished history: the FIFA Club World Cup. Having lost in the 2006 competition to Brazilian side Internacional, the Catalans were in no mood to give up another chance to be crowned best in the world. In the final against Argentinian side Estudiantes de La Plata the match started slowly before Mauro Boselli gave Barça’s opponents a shock lead on the half-hour mark. For much of the game the Argentines defended their goal as if their lives depended on it but they were ultimately broken down by Pedro who scored two minutes from the end of normal time. In extra-time it was to be cruel for the Argentines that it was to be one of their compatriots, Lionel Messi, who scored the winner for Barcelona. The “Sextuple” was won, Pep Guardiola and his team had created history and for new Barça star Pedro it was to be a unique individual achievement in that he scored in every major competition that Barcelona had won in the Sextuple year.

The people have spoken and it was a unanimous decision. “Stoppage Time” hails FC Barcelona as the 2000-09 Team of the Decade.