Written by Travis Clark

hazardLandover, Maryland was the latest stop of the European club summer tour circuit on Tuesday night, as Barcelona battled Chelsea at the home of the Washington, D.C. American football team.

And while the merits of these games can be hotly debated, Eden Hazard jolted the game to life in the first half with a scintillating goal in the tenth minute.

The champions of England and the Spanish treble winners put on a show in front of a packed house of almost 79,000 fans, a sea of Messi, Neymar jerseys dotted between Chelsea’s familiar blue kit. Despite the exhibition nature of the match, both sides created plenty of scoring chances on the way to a 2-2 draw after Hazard tallied early in the game.

Be prepared to pick your jaw off the floor after watching the Belgian sensation’s latest work of art.

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Written by The 91st

Youth development is a topic we tend to focus on pretty regularly here at the 91st Minute. How can the US better develop talented players? How can we fix the college game? What do we need to do to create a new generation of informed coaches? These are all important questions, but we can’t help but feel helpless when we see clips like this come out of Barcelona’s La Masia academy.

Meet Mamadou Saidou, Barcelona’s new 11-year old star who is already better at soccer than you. Look at those touches! Look at that placement!

He’s only 11-years old, but it’s a testament to Barcelona’s effective academy structure that the telltale signs of Barcelona’s style are already being embedded in his approach towards the sport. Of course, a random YouTube clip doesn’t mean anything in the context of a long career, but here’s to Mamadou already making an impression.

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Written by Will Parchman

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There’s such a thing as ladling on hyperbole too thickly. At least as far as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar are concerned, those shouts are not valid. There is no hyperbole too viscous for these three. Take a trip over to Thesaurus.com and unleash the beast. Any combination of words you unchain from their moorings will still fall short of the brilliance displayed between Barcelona’s stupid-good trio.

Barca coasted past Bayern Munich on Tuesday for a second time in as many games to book passage to the Champions League finale. The game further proved the MSN trio is unquestionably the world’s best 4-3-3 front line. Whether it’s the best in history is now in question.

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Written by Will Parchman

essssss

There was once a time when Jerome Boateng was a human being like you and me, one with hopes, dreams and presumably a working nervous system.

None of those things are the case any longer. Because Leo Messi turned the Bayern central defender into a tree, which he chopped down and then burned for warmth on Wednesday. This may be the greatest public shaming since The Scarlet Letter.

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Written by Will Parchman

Over the last 10 years, Leo Messi’s amassed silly numbers. Video game numbers. He’s appeared for Barcelona 311 times. He has 281 goals, and they all had their beginning here. Patient Zero.

Messi’s first goal for Barca came on May 1, 2005 in a 2-0 win over Albacete. He only played 76 minutes with the senior team that season, and it was his only goal. But it was a doozy.

This is a fun side note, but this is what Barca’s lineup looked that day 10 years ago. Two holdovers. Andres Iniesta and some kid who came on as a late sub. We’ll see if he pans out.

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Written by Will Parchman

masia

This August, Catalan cleats will officially aerate American soil. Set to open in Lauderhill, Florida, a middle distance between Boca Raton and Miami, the colonial FCBEscola model will finally bring “Barcelona’s development model” to these shores.

Barcelona’s American academy – its first and only – is the club’s 14th worldwide. It would’ve been its 15th, but earlier this week the Danish FA rejected FCB’s request to open one of its schools near Copenhagen. Citing a desire to “safeguard the development of talent in Danish football,” the country clearly felt some unease about opening its borders to talent raiding parties from global clubs. It isn’t that Denmark doesn’t want its U7 players developed. It’s that it doesn’t want its U7 players developed by them.

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Written by Will Parchman

Barcelona walked over PSG again on Tuesday en route to a shockingly easy pathway to the Champions league semifinals. Despite everything Real Madrid did last year and then Bayern Munich’s unholy fleecing of Porto in the return leg this week, Barca looks a hell of a lot like the team to beat in this competition. They utterly de-pantsed PSG. By the end of these two legs, PSG was without pants.

The game’s seminal moment – nay, life’s seminal moment – came when Iniesta destroyed the lives of three PSG players before easily setting up Neymar to do a Neymar thing in the box and score.

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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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