Written by Will Parchman

montoya

The first thing you’ll notice about this clip is that there’s a basketball hoop set up at Barcelona’s training grounds. Why is there a basketball hoop set up at Barcelona’s training grounds? While you spend about 1.3 seconds pondering this fact, Martin Montoya is readying to explode the membrane around your brain. LITERALLY BUT NOT REALLY.

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Written by Travis Clark

This Sunday serves up another edition of El Clasico, as Barcelona hosts Real Madrid in one of, if not the best rivalry in world soccer.

To commemorate the upcoming game where past editions have featured great goals, amazing skill and epic hissy fits and brouhahas, scope out some of the best goals from meetings over the years, from the likes of Johan Cruyff, Diego Maradona, Roberto Carlos and Lionel Messi.

Barcelona is currently in first place in La Liga, a point ahead of Real Madrid, adding even more gravitas to Sunday’s encounter. Some fun preview reads include a web chat with Guardian’s Spain expert Sid Lowe, Paste Soccer’s 25 most memorable moments from the rivalry and a tactical preview.

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Written by Will Parchman

lionel-messi-big-screen

Leo Messi’s 2011-12 season still haunts him. Stalks him, really, like an overgrown shadow. Messi set a European record with 73 goals that season, including 50 in La Liga. He scored five goals in a Champions League win over Bayer Leverkusen. He became the first player to ever register a goal and an assist in six competitions in one season. He won a Copa del Rey.

In all likelihood, he’ll never do that again. In lieu of heavy rule changes that tilt the game even further in favor of attackers, we may not see a year like that repeated in our lifetimes. By anyone. And yet Messi is continually measured against it, and the sum of each of his seasons since has come up short. Naturally. Of course they have.

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Written by Maxi Rodriguez

VerratiIt’s not too often that a player locks down one of their sport’s most dynamic offensive forces, but that’s exactly what Marco Verrati did during PSG’s recent Champions League match with Barcelona.

For the 62 minutes that Verrati was on the pitch, he looked a composed pendulum in the midfield, offering support to a team that struggled to repel Barcelona’s flowing attack, repeatedly stepping in at crucial moments to cut down opportunities for Barcelona.

Check out the clips after the jump that show Verrati’s work on Lionel Messi. These aren’t desperation tackles, though they may look it. These are perfectly timed, perfectly measured tackles that prevented clear opportunities on goal.

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Written by Will Parchman

ibra

There were so many great goals in the Champions League this week, we’ll have to bring them all to you in one MEGALEG of a compilation. You’ve got Ibra scoring against Barcelona, Messi and Neymar scoring against IbraSG, a wonderful move from Chelsea’s Andre Schurrle against Sporting and one titanically awesome strike from Samir Nasri that pushed City into the round of 16 over Roma.

Dig it.

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Written by Will Parchman

This video is a boatload of greatness.

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Written by Will Parchman

Carles Puyol is retiring from his decades-long stint as the professional hair stylist for Barcelona, and the club is feting him appropriately. That includes this recently released video of Puyol from his first public appearance as a Barca prospect. It came on the TV show ‘La Barberia,’ which ran in Spain from 1990-1996. This clip, from 1992, is one where they apparently confuse Puyol for a striker.

In the course of the video, Puyol is referred to as ‘tender’ and ‘the hairiest one,’ was jokingly called Romario and is rocking a jean jacket harder than physically possible. Are you not entertained by this? By all of this? It’s like a cache of denim exploded on a chia pet.

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Written by Ken Sweda

I have just returned from the experience of a lifetime: watching my 13-year-old daughter play on the grounds of the FC Barcelona Escola, the feeder school to Barca’s famed La Masia soccer academy. The occasion was the third annual FCBEscola International Tournament held during Easter week.

My daughter Erin was chosen to represent the US, along with only two other girls, among 48 young American players who participated in FCBEscola camps in Chicago and Florida last summer, ran by Kaptiva Sports, a sports marketing company out of Florida and the official FC Barcelona partner in the USA.

Four teams of 12 were put together in under the “FCBEscola USA Blue” name in the U8 – Iniciacio, U10 – Preformacio, U12 – Formacio and U14 – Precompeticio age groups and played against collections of players from the various permanent FC Barcelona Escola school locations around the world. Great football was played, with wonderful sportsmanship, effort and joy. Players came from Brazil, Japan, India, Dubai, Poland, Singapore, Egypt, the Dominican Republic, Tenerife, Illes Baleares, larger Cataluña and Barcelona itself, and united in the world’s game.

What we experienced in Barcelona, with the spirit of the players and their supporters, was nothing short of inspiring. ‘We represented the US soccer with values, dedication, and sportsmanship. For our team, this was an unforgettable soccer experience but also a lifelong lesson that every participant will carry in their hearts and mind from now on. The goal is to inspire the next generation and prove them an avenue to their dream and one day become a professional soccer player and represent their county in humbleness’ Said Marcel Bombonato, Kaptiva Sports and FCBEscola Director of operations for the USA market.

As I write this, reflecting on what I saw, certain things stand out.

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Written by Travis Clark

Few rivalries in club football seem to showcase everything about the beautiful game quite like El Clasico does.

And Sunday’s iteration was no different, showcasing the best and worst of the world’s most popular sport — it had glorious goals, ridiculous histrionics, wailing at officiating, moments of breathtaking beauty, while featuring arguably the game’s best players in Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Barcelona ultimately triumphed thanks for a pair of second half penalties, as Messi’s hat trick wrote a new chapter in an already peerless career. Official highlights are above. And check out the top of La Liga’s standings after the jump.

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Written by Will Parchman

Ten years ago today, after being purchased from Argentina for a whistled tune and a jaunty dance, Messi won his first appearance for Barca B. This is footage from that fabled game. As for the fun translation of the description, to the machine!

“On March 6, 2004, in a game against the Miniestadi Mataró, an Argentinian 16 year old made ​​his debut with the Barcelona branch. Barça B won 1-0 and Messi, who played 90 minutes, left several details that, later, would be at the Camp Nou and in the best arenas worldwide.

Interestingly, Leo Messi had already debuted in a friendly match with the first team five months earlier. The November 16, 2003 the now ’10 ‘Barca had faced his first start against Porto FC Barcelona. Its official debut arrive on October 16, 2004, in the field of Espanyol.”

 

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