Wednesday, June 19, 2024

New faces but same old story for Barcelona

SoccerNews in La Liga 13 Sep 2008


Pep Guardiola continues to wait for his first league win in charge of Barcelona after his title hopefuls threw two vital points away in a 1-1 home draw with Racing Santander on Saturday.

Argentine winger Lionel Messi converted a 70th-minute penalty but Barca failed to take advantage with Jonathan Pereira equalising six minutes later to deny the hosts victory.

One point from six is a woeful start for Guardiola who will expect better when Barcelona start their Champions League tilt on Tuesday with a home match against Sporting Lisbon.

Atletico Madrid are also in Champions League action on Tuesday at PSV Eindhoven – their first game in the competition since the 1996/97 season – but their preparations were spoiled by a 2-1 defeat at ten-man Valladolid.

Atletico stay top of the table on goal difference but Sevilla can replace them at the summit with victory over Sporting Gijon in Saturday's late match.

Guardiola was clearly unhappy with the opening 1-0 defeat by Numancia and showed he is not afraid to make big decisions by dropping French international Thierry Henry.

Bojan Krkic, Andres Iniesta and Messi all started on the substitutes bench – probably due to their international exertions – making way for the lesser known Sergi Busquets, 20, and 21-year-old striker Pedro “Pedrito” Rodriguez.

Gerard Pique, recruited from Manchester United in the summer, also made his debut in defence.

Daniel Alves came agonisingly close to his first Barcelona goal with his chip hitting the crossbar in the first minute of the second period.

But substitute Messi – recently criticised by his hero Diego Maradona for being too greedy – broke the deadlock with a spot-kick.

However, Pereira restored parity deflecting in a drilled free-kick to prompt jeers at Camp Nou.

Atletico Madrid paid the price for the international break with Uruguayan Diego Forlan unavailable after arriving back late from the World Cup qualifiers.

Central defender Jonny Heitinga was also injured on international duty with the Netherlands forcing Mexican manager Javier Aguirre to ring the changes.

Valladolid took full advantage of the makeshift side scoring after just three minutes through Vivar Dorado.

On 21 minutes Valladolid had Pedro Lopez sent off for two cautionable offences but the hosts still went two goals up seven minutes later through a penalty.

Substitute Kun Aguero pulled one back but Valladolid bravely held on.

On Sunday, champions Real Madrid go in search of their first win of the campaign against new boys Numancia at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Real lost 2-1 at Deportivo La Coruna a fortnight ago and come up against a Nuamancia team full of confidence after beating Barcelona.


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