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Nightmare start for Guardiola as Numancia down Barca

Pep Guardiola's first league match in charge of Barcelona did not go as planned with the title hopefuls falling to an embarrassing 1-0 opening day defeat to promoted Numancia on Sunday.

Guardiola, a member of Barca's 1992 European Cup winning team, has the job of wrestling the title from Real Madrid but the omens do not look good after an insipid display.

Barca were poor travellers last season under Frank Rijkaard and the new manager and season failed to bring a change in fortune and Real can turn the screw when they face Deportivo La Coruna in Sunday's late match.

Barcelona handed a league debut to Dani Alves – a 29.5 million euro signing from Sevilla in the summer – with Lionel Messi starting in attack after inspiring Argentina to Olympic gold.

Guardiola set up Barca with a 4-3-3 – the same system as Rijkaard – with Thierry Henry starting on the left wing – a position the Frenchman clearly doesn't like.

Numancia took the lead with Mario rifling home on 12 minutes after Barca's defence failed to deal with a cross from the left.

Samuel Eto'o hit the crossbar four minutes later and Barca had several other openings – with Messi hitting the post in the final minute – but Numancia held on for a historic win.

After just one game the league now goes on international break until September 13/14 but Guardiola will probably be relieved as he bids to solve his team's troubles.

Atletico Madrid followed up their impressive midweek qualification for the Champions League with a crushing 4-0 victory over promoted Malaga on Sunday.

Dutch international Johnny Heitinga scored 26 minutes into his league debut and Diego Forlan grabbed a quick fire brace before the interval to leave Malaga down and out. Florent-Sinama Pongolle completed the rout with a debut goal.

For the first time in their history Atletico fielded a starting XI without any Spanish players – although Argentine Mariano Pernia has dual nationality – but the fans will not care as long as they continue winning.

Last season's runners-up Villarreal were left frustrated as they were pegged back to a 1-1 draw by Osasuna.

Marcos Senna, a revelation for Spain in their Euro 2008 success, netted on 54 minutes to put Villarreal ahead but Osasuna levelled 15 minutes later.

Elsewhere UEFA Cup representatives Sevilla and Racing Santander shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw with Racing equalising after Luis Fabiano had shot Sevilla into a 70th minute lead.

Champions Real begin their bid for a third successive league title at La Coruna later on Sunday.

Robinho has been left out of the travelling squad and decided to hold his own press conference on Sunday to reiterate his desire to join Chelsea.

“The problem is that (Real Madrid) did not manage to recruit,” Robinho said. (Bernd) Schuster (Real coach) isn't my father, he's my coach. He can't make me do anything.”

It was not the pre-match preparation that Real wanted as they bid to end their Riazor jinx having failed to win at Depor since the 1991/92 season.

Sun 31 Aug, 2008
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1 Comment:


    Once more, let me reiterate myself. I think when Deco and Rolandinho were sold and Frank Rijkaard was terminated, I made a comment on this site that; “Barcelona was not going to be a successful team this season”. I haven’t said so because of animosity, but because of how the team officials handle issues. Rijkaard’s termination was too fast, and the most naive part was pep Guardiola leting two great mildfeiders to exit the club at once.There is a saying that goes like this: If you mind the way the rash or bump itches your skin and scratch it too much, you will be causing a very deep sore or wound on yourself, so pep Guardiola with Baecelona today. With the little experience he has come with from coaching FCB junior’s team, I think it was wise enough for him to work with Deco and Ronaldinho. Here he is today with a huge defeat from a newly promoted team; what is he thinking now? Is he wishing to have the soccer wizard (Ronaldinho) back or the midfield engineer (Deco) back? ‘No Pep Guardiola, you can never eat your cake and have it again’. As a fan of Fc Barcelona, I’m so shame and depressed of him and his so-called allied who have paved his way up there as a first team’s manager. I’m pretty sure that even the officials, players and other fans of Fc Barcelona are feelinging the same way that I’m feeling now and somehow regreting the absence of Frank Rikjaard, Rolandinho, and Deco from the squard today. I’m very sorry for poor Samuel Eto’o who is trying to live up to his career. If I were Eto’o, I would have found a club to join when he was asked by pep to leave upon his arrival as a new manager. Having said so, I believe that Eto’o still has a chance to leave by January transfer window, and if he’s given the green light once more, he should make a maximum use of it. I wish you all lucks Pep, and I hope you will improve.

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