Austin Jay Jay Okocha – Africa’s Best Mid Fielder

Born on the fourteenth of august 1973 (17/08/1973), weighs between 70 to 74kg, and between 1.7m to 1.75m tall.

Okocha started his professional career with CCB Lions, from where he was transfer to Enugu Rangers. From Enugu He got a transfer to Eintracht Frankfurt in 1992/1993 season. Okocha made his first international debut for Nigeria in May 1993 against coted’ivoire in a qualifier match decided n Abidjan and He distinguished himself by scoring Nigeria’s only goal in a game Nigeria lost by two goals to one (2-1). In another world cup qualifier against Algeria in Lagos Okocha scored a text book free kick to level up Algeria who were a goal up. His great performance ensured a four one (4-1) victory over the Algerians. The way he was carried shoulder high by ecstatic fans showed that he was indeed the hero of the day.

The 1994 nation’s cup was another sterling performance for Okocha’s career has his performance enable Nigeria to lift the trophy for the second time. He was as selected as the member of the tournament best eleven (11).

Three month months later Okocha was with the Nigeria’s squad after inspiring Nigeria to her first ever world cup appearance. Although his performance was slow down by a foot injury as He could only play ninety (90) minutes against Italy and He was voted the man of the match in the game which sent Nigeria packing from the world cup that year. However these feats were enough to earn him a place at the Africa footballer of the year in 1994.

In spite of Okocha’s achievement in 1994, in December 1994, he was sacked alongside two of his club mate; Ghanaian Tony Yeboah and ex German international Maurizio Gaudino, for an accusation the coach Jupp Heynckes define as gross indiscipline and insubordination. The trio went their separate ways Tony Yeboah and Maurizio Gaudino departed for Leeds United and Manchester City of England Respectively. Okocha shifted base to Turkey with Turkish Champion fernerbache in a lucrative two year contract worth $4million.

Notably the highlight of his stay at Frankfurt was the 1993/1994 season when one of his goals was adjusted the goal of the season. The goal was vintage, Okocha, as he displaced four opponents including the goalkeeper (please don’t ask the name of the goalkeeper) over and over again, before flashing the ball to the net.

Okocha chose Fernerbache ahead of other offers from Spain, France and even Germany because of his desire to play alongside his national team colleague Uche Okechukwu, who had joined Fernerbache to a second position finish in Turkish championship.

Okocha tasted international glory again when He came in as a substitute in Nigeria one zero (1-0) win over Uzbekistan in the return leg of Afro Asia Cup, before the afro Asia cup, He featured for Nigeria in the US Cup and scored in the three two defeat (3-2) defeat by the United State. Okocha’s great exploit got a Turkish citizenship and lots of publicity in1997 for his contribution to the progress of Turkish football. Okocha won the Turkish championship in 1996/1997 season scoring 16 goals in 33 matches and getting a place at the UEFA Champions League, he finished as one of the highest goal scorer in 1995/1996 and 1996/1997 with 14 and 16 goals respectively.

Okocha enriched his international career by winning by winning Africa’s first ever Olympic Gold medal in soccer with Nigeria U-23 team in Atlanta in 1996 scoring a twice taken penalty against Mexico in the quarter finals.

Okocha’s exploit at France 98 world cup where he rattled and dazzled against Spain, Bulgaria and Denmark. Jay Jay was marked the player of true class every time he got the ball, he made thousand of spectators shift on their seat contemplating what magic he would spring next. It was no surprise that he was nominated into the team of the tournament, even though as substitute.

France 98 coordinating president and the present UEFA president Michel Platini describe Okocha as one of the few pure number 10 remaining in the world football.

PSG manager Alain Giresse got romance with Jay Jay when he started the move that resulted in Nigeria’s only goal against Bulgaria at the Parc De Princes in Paris which incidentally is PSG home ground. The match ended 1-0 in favor of Nigeria. Okocha became the French record transfer and became the most expensive Africa player in the last Millennium with $18million transfer from Fernerbache to PSG.

Okocha got married in 1997 to Nkechi, and his first child was given birth to when the world cup was going on in 1998. the name of the child he named Daniella. He also has a son.

He was the continent best player at the France 98 world cup, he became the second best in Africa in 1998 when the Africa footballer of the year award was given to Hadji Mustapha of Morocco.

Okocha featured in the Nigeria/Ghana 2000 nation’s cup, a superb player scoring two of Nigeria’s 4-2 demolishing of Algeria. Okocha was red carded in the quarter final tie against Senegal. He missed the semi final match against South Africa and was on target for Nigeria in the final against Cameroon, scoring Nigeria equalizer goal riffling home a rocket shot, the match ended 5-3 on penalties the Cameroonians won.

At the 2002 nations cup Okocha passes and skills must not be written off as it posses threat to the opponent although he was denied of goal, his passes and skills were felt in the matches.

With the departure and dismissal of Super Eagles key players, another team was constituted, and Jay Jay Okocha was entrusted with the captainship role. Okocha captained Nigeria to the Korea Japan 2002 world cup, although it became Nigeria’s worse world when Nigeria was grouped alongside Argentina, England, and Sweden. Nigeria finished at the bottom of the table in the group but Jay Jay Okocha’s experience and skills earn him a move to Bolton Wanderers of England.

Okocha haven mentored players like Ronaldinho, and Everton Play maker Mikel Arteta at PSG, helped Bolton from relegation contender to UEFA cup contender. He was given the captainship responsibilities after his superb first season at Bolton.

Okocha was in the premier league best five in his second season at Bolton. Players like Sorensen of Aston Villa Ray Palour and Dennis Bergkamp of Arsenal will not forget for hia free kick and great skill. He help Bolton to her first Carling cup final and to the sixth position for the first time in decades.

His performance was superb as he led Nigeria to the Tunisia 2004, scoring the CAF nations cup 1000th goal in a 4-0 demolishing of South Africa. He drive home spectacular free kicks that ensure Nigeria qualify ahead of Cameroon in the quarter final. He was nominated for the Africa footballer of the year in 2004. He was the second best player in Africa on two occasion consecutively-2004 and 2005 respectively. He was the BBC Africa footballer of the year in 2004 and 2005 respectively.

Okocha was released from Bolton alongside Fadiga, N’Gotty and Matt Jensen. He decided to move to a Qatar on a lucrative one year contract half of what Tranbzonspor had offered him. He decided to move to Qatar ahead of Wigan, Reading and Everton.

Okocha came back to England as he was signed by a lower division who are now doing well in the premier league (Hull City). Although injury has been a major set back for Jay Jay, he was with the Hull City side defeated by Chelsea in the Carling Cup. Hull City remained the only club Okocha did not score. Hull city promoted to the premier league last season. He inspired Hull City to their promotion to the premier league and left the club after their promotion. With the departure of Okocha from the national team it will be difficult to find a replacement to fill that big shoe of Okocha. Although young players like Lukman Haruna and Rabiu Ibrahim are showing great class, demonstration and the potential to be the next Super Eagles play maker. It took eight Years to find a replacement for Green Eagles Mudashiru Lawal. Osaro Obaifo, John ENE Okon, Friday Ekpo could not replace Lawal on till the arrival of Austin Okocha. How long will it take to find a replacement for this great player called Okocha who bow out of football as a player on June 27, 2008 said Waidi Akanmu?

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EPL 2011-12 Preview: Swansea Vs Manchester United

Swansea City play host on Saturday, November 19, 2011, in match week 12, when Manchester United come visiting, at Liberty stadium.

Swansea are coming off a creditable 0-0 stalemate against Liverpool at Anfield, in match week 11. Swansea shared enough possession in the game but without troubling the Liverpool back-line, unduly. Dyer staged a right-to-left run in the 64th minute but he squandered a scoring opportunity after collecting a through ball. With six minutes left, Graham knocked down the ball in front of the Liverpool goal but Mark Gower failed to keep the ball down, and Swansea missed out on what would have been a historic win for the promoted side.

Manchester United edged out Sunderland in a lacklustre home game, at Old Trafford, in match week 11. In a match unforgivable except for coinciding with Sir Alex's 25th anniversary at the helm, United's win was built on Wes Brown's own goal, at the interval. While dominated possession, in the first half, they rarely tested Westwood, in the Sunderland goal. While Hernandez had a glimpse of goal in the second half, after being put through by Fletcher, the Bulgarian striker blew the chance by going down a bit too easily, in the face of a charge by Larrson, in the Black Cats' area. Referee Lee mason was not impressed with the penalty claim that ensued. Kieron Richardson denied United the chance of a second goal in the 64th minute when he swept efforts from Nani and Hernandez, within a minute of each other.

Head to head, Swansea and Manchester United have met in 8 league games, with United triumphing on 6 occasions, with the remaining matches ending in stalemates. The last time these teams met was in may 1983, in the English first division; that match hosted at Old Trafford was won 2-1 by Manchester United.

Swansea have won 3 and lost 3 of their last 8 league matches, while United have won 3, drawn 2 and lost one of their last 6 league games.

Currently in a creditable 10th place on the league table after being promoted from the Championship this season, Swansea have hosted 5 home games, this season, and won 3 and drawn 2 of them, while Manchester United, who are in 2nd place behind Manchester City have had 3 wins and 2 draws in 5 games on the road.

United have lost steam since the brilliant beginning to their Premiership season. But Sir Alex's wards carry enough firepower to be able to take away all three points from Liberty Stadium, come match week 12.

Swansea City's starting eleven against Liverpool: Vorm, Rangel, Monk, Williams, Taylor, Gower, Britton, Allen, Routledge, Graham, Dyer.

Manchester United's starting eleven against Sunderland: Lindegaard, Jones, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Nani, Fletcher, Rooney, Park, Wellbeck, Hernandez.

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The Truth Behind Real Madrid

Whether you are new to the sport of football, or you have been a fan for years, odds are you have heard some mention of the team Real Madrid. Now known as one of the most successful professional football clubs they, like other teams of its time, started from humble beginnings.

Things were rough when they started out in the first decade of the 20th century. While much effort went into finding a permanent plot of land for the team to play on, success was made with the rental of a plot of land on Bullring Avenue. Not long after that, Real Madrid was formed. Once considered part of Espanol de Madrid, Real Madrid was officially founded back in 1902, with club regulations being approved not long after the team’s creation date.

While the team had some success, its first official title was not achieved until 1905 with the first international event taking place later that same year. Real Madrid began to make their name known with the accomplishment of winning the Cup of Spain for three consecutive years, from 1905 to 1907 to be exact. When 1909 rolled around, it proved to be quite a successful year for Real Madrid. After a meeting with delegates from other Spanish football clubs, the Spanish FA was created with Real Madrid’s president being named as the secretary of the organization.

As time passed and the team’s popularity grew, Madrid obtained their first league title in the 1931 to 32 season. This proved to be the start of the team’s power with this title being the start of the 29 League titles that they would accomplish over the years. Due to the start of the war in 1936 Real Madrid’s popularity started to decrease. Attempts were made by Pablo Hernandez to keep the team in the public eye, but multiple attempts failed miserably. While all hope appeared to be lost, 1939 brought the first full house at Chamartin Stadium for Real Madrid. While it was perceived that interest in football decreased with the war, support held and grew as the war rolled on with its popularity becoming well known when the war was over.

1943 brought their first historical win. In a semi-final game against the Catalans, Madrid defeated them with a score of 11-1. As the years passed, the team proved itself to be a power to be reckoned with. The 1950’s brought the team’s third league title after 23 years.

When it comes to league titles, Real Madrid is one of the only teams in the league to win five consecutive times in the 76 year history of the competition. They accomplished this feat in the 1960-61, 1964-65, 1985-86 and 1989-90 seasons. No other team in the history of the competition has been able to meet or even break the record that has been created by the successful Real Madrid team.

The present and the future show great promise for the team. With the team having just celebrated their 106 birthday in March of 2008, the team continues to achieve success. With a mixed history, their past has proven them to be a force to be reckoned with and they may just be one of the most powerful teams for years to come.

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Real Madrid – From Crisis to Crisis

Awarded the title of ‘the most successful football club of the twentieth century’ by F.I.F.A., Real Madrid, nine years into the twenty first, look to have a lot of work to do to retain their crown!

It seems incredible but the club that has won two Champions’ League (2000 and 2002) and four La Giga titles since the beginning of the Millennium has seemed to lurch – comically in the eyes of many – from one crisis to another.

How many clubs can you think of that would sack their manager hours after winning the Champions’ League for a record time? Real Madrid did in 2002 with Vincent del Bosque.

How many clubs would bring back a manager who won the league title for them in his only ever season with the club and then sack him immediately after he repeated the feat? Real Madrid did that to Fabio Capello in 2007.

How many clubs would replace their president, Florentino Pérez,because his so-called gallactico policy of bringing the world’s best players to the club had spectacularly imploded, replace him with a president who later is alleged to have rigged the voting, and then re-elect Señor Pérez unopposed because he vowed, again, to bring all the world’s best players to Madrid?

Well, you could go on for a long time pointing out such eccentricities. But it would all be pointless in the eyes of the Madrid afícionados who will, quite rightly, remind you that they are the richest club in the world, the most commercially successful – largely because of the aforementioned Florentino Pérez – and, at the time of writing, were being linked in the transfer market with almost any player capable of tying up his own boot laces. Or, in the case of Christiano Ronaldo, probably getting one of his ‘less talented’ team mates to tie them up for him so that he could save his energy for scoring great goals, trying to get opposing players sent off and sulking when the referee doesn’t agree with him. There are those of us who think that Ronaldo and Real Madrid are a perfect match for each other: talented and good-looking but arrogant, untrustworthy and not much good in a fight.

And yet, for all this sniping criticism, I have loved watching Real Madrid sometimes in the past few years. When Roberto Carlos and Zidane combined down the left wing; when Beckham curved in centres for Raul to head home; when Sergio Ramos rampaged all over the pitch attempting to inspire his lethargic team to lift themselves; and when ‘Saint Iker’ Casillas showed, time after time, why he is undoubtedly the greatest goalkeeper in the world.

Because, the Bernabéu is a great place to watch football – for a neutral it can be just as entertaining to watch the crowd when Madrid are playing badly – and Real Madrid can be an exhilarating force when they play at their best.

Spain, and the Champions’ League, need a strong, fast-flowing, attractive Real Madrid team – it’s part of the fabric of life. Barcelona were a wonderful side this year but they had it too easy; Real need to make them justify their ‘Dream Team’ tag a lot more next season. Getting knocked out in the Champions’ League Quarter Finals year after year isn’t good enough either – and football is the worse for it.

Those of us who were weaned on the team that won the European Cup at Hampden Park all those years ago need to see a great Real Madrid team again – so, come on, Florentino, get that Cheque Book out and let’s see the end of Real Madrid as a laughing stock and instead give us something to scare the living daylights out of those imposters in Manchester, London, Milan and Barcelona – especially Barcelona!

Kaka could be the natural successor to Zidane; let’s now have the successors to Figo, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Fernando Hierro.

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Manchester United Football Club – Can They Win Their 20th League Title?

Manchester United Football Club can rightfully claim to be the best English football club ever thanks to its record 19th Premier League title. This club has always been very popular with fans of this game because of the passion it brings to the field and the assurance with which it picks up titles. However, it has seen great success over the past two decades thanks to the inspired guidance provided by its manager, Sir Alex Ferguson. Sir Alex has managed to steer the Red Devils to unpresented success even under the difficult and unpopular ownership of the Glazers.

There is a lot of buzz in footballing circles regarding the possibility of this club winning a record 20th Premier League title. In fact, it is common knowledge that Sir Alex is very keen to win this title because he wants to cement his reputation as the most successful manager British football has ever seen. He will want to retire soon, now that he is 70! Needless to say, supporters of the Red Devils will be behind them all the way with a variety of football cheers and chants. However, this is not going to be an easy task if Liverpool has anything to say in this matter!

The previous season's title was won in spite of lackluster performances by the team. However, it seems very unbelievably that they will have the same luxury this season because it is going to be a tough fight. Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov will have to put in quite a few sterling performances in order to ensure that the team does well. Sir Alex will also have to find a suitable replacement for Owen Hargreaves in order to put together a winning team that can take on any challenge.

Manchester United Football Club has always had an excellent relationship with its supporters. If you too are one then you should be prepared for a very eventful Premier League season. Make sure that you know all about the match fixtures so that you can catch all the best ones. In addition, it's a good idea for you to be aware of all the football cheers and chants that the team inspires so that you too can join in the revelry. This season will be awaited by all football fans to see whether Manchester United Football Club can actually hold on to its status of being the greatest football club in England.

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Liverpool FC Player Profile – Jose ‘Pepe’ Reina

Jose Reina is Liverpool’s first choice goalkeeper and rated by many as one of the best goalkeepers in the world of football. Born in Madrid in 1982, Reina is the son of former Barcelona and Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Miguel Reina, who also represented his country Spain.

Jose, nick named Pepe, Reina began his football career with the youth academy at FC Barcelona after initially playing in Barcelona’s reserve team he made thirty appearances for the first team in the 2000-2001 season, incidentally making two appearances against Liverpool in the semi-final of the UEFA Cup. The following season he was dropped from the Barcelona first team and secured a loan move to Villarreal in 2002 making his move permanent in 2004, he made over 100 appearances for the club. Reina signed for Liverpool in 2005 by then manager Rafael Benitez, who described him as the best goalkeeper in Spain.

Reina was immediately installed as the first choice goalkeeper at Anfield, making his debut against Welsh side Total Network Solutions in a Champions League qualifying game in July of 2005 and a month later he won his first cap for his national team Spain.

The Spaniard became an immediate favourite with the fans at Liverpool, famed for his accurate distribution of the ball and his fantastic penalty saves, he had saved seven of the nine penalties he faced in his previous season with Villarreal. During his first season at Liverpool he was part of the team that set a club record for eleven consecutive games without conceding a goal.

At the end of his first season with Liverpool, Reina played in the FA Cup Final against West Ham United. An amazing game saw the scores level at 3-3 after extra time and the match was then decided on penalty kicks, the amazing shot stopper then obliged by saving three of West Ham’s penalty kicks to secure a 3-1 shoot out victory for the Reds.

After his first fifty games for the Reds, Reina had not conceded a goal in twenty eight of those matches, setting a new club record which had been previously held by the legendary Ray Clemence. Later that season he was on hand again as Liverpool beat Chelsea on penalties in the Champions League semi-final, he followed in his father’s footsteps by appearing in the European Cup Final, unfortunately the Reds lost 2-1 to AC Milan in the final.

Having made over 300 appearances for the first team, Reina signed a new six year contract with Liverpool in 2010 and although he has still to become the first choice as goalkeeper for his national side he has already become a Liverpool legend.

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Securing Your FC Tickets This Holiday Season

Many people are familiar with the football team FC and its star player. These people may have already seen a lot of games but this certainly wouldn’t change the fact that football enthusiasts will still want to treat themselves to the upcoming matches of FC this holiday season. The biggest FC fans are already lining up to buy FC tickets for the remainder of the holiday season, if only just to provide more evidence that their players truly are the greatest footballers despite just coming in second in the ranking of the award winning body for the said sports.

Many are saying that the solid performance they’re expecting from this team in the season will surely bring back the title to the FCB forward who is not only known to score goals, but also to keep plays for the team thoroughly organised with his effective assists and “rounded” playing style unlike the other who’s purely a scorer. The players may not be too bothered by the fact that their staunch rival beat him to the title this year; his fans, however, are a completely different matter and will surely be anticipating and comparing his upcoming good performance with that of the other team.

A lot of them are also awaiting how FIFA has ended ties and will likely re-launch its won World Player of the Year award, which they expect will go straight to the hands of FCB’s forward. If you’re looking forward to seeing the magic that FC creates on the field in every game, and how the club will work to bring home the Champions League title in 2017 especially since it’s been reported by sports portals to be eyeing up a move for in the January transfer window, football tickets are available online. You can reserve them in advance using the secure server of the official ticket agent of the team.

Likewise, if you wish to stay updated with football fixtures, you can do so by signing up for the site’s email alerts. It’s bound to be an exciting 2017 as it strives harder to snag more titles in the new year, so don’t miss your chance to see the intense game it pulls off every time and reserve your tickets now for the club’s upcoming games.

Securing your FC tickets for this holiday season and for the next year is truly a smart move to make sure you will never miss every football game.

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Barcelona’s Victory Over Sevilla Closes the Gap on Madrid

At the start of the weekend of 17th-18th March 2012 FC Barcelona was a full ten points behind their most bitter rivals, Real Madrid, a team that had gelled during Jose Mourinho’s second season in command. While both teams’ performance was amongst the best in the world, it is true that Barcelona hit a flat spot in the early part of the New Year and lost valuable points exactly when they needed to keep within breathing distance of Real Madrid. What must have been galling to Mourinho though was that most football pundits still tipped Barcelona as the world’s best team, despite the evidence painted by the numbers.

The Catalans visited Sevilla on Saturday night, a team that is never walkover, and unlike some recent matches they looked good from the start. Sometimes the players seem to take some time to warm up properly, and this has cost them in the past. However, Barcelona was attacking the Sevilla goal just minutes into the game. While not successful in these early attempts, it did signal their intent. However, when Adriano was knocked to the ground, Barcelona was awarded a free kick. Xavi took the shot from just outside the area and curled the ball into the top corner to put the visitors into the lead after quarter of an hour.

Barcelona continued to attack the Sevilla goal with real flare, showing why they are rated so highly for truly playing “the beautiful game”. And at the twenty-five minute mark Iniesta set up Argentine superstar Lionel Messi, who scored his 150th league goal for Barcelona. The hosts came close to scoring after an error by Pique, but a del Moral header hit the crossbar and the rebound was out of his reach.

Sevilla came on strong in the second half and looked like they might mean business. Despite a good attempt at the goal they soon ran out of energy and Barcelona once again picked up the pace to control the game. Barcelona had several more attempts at scoring a third but they didn’t quite make it and when Messi scored in injury time the goal was ruled offside to leave the final score at 2-0 to Barcelona.

The result meant that Barcelona was temporarily seven points behind Madrid, who were to face Malaga on Sunday. In that match it looked like Madrid was going to win by a single goal on the late Sunday night match. However, a last minute goal by Malaga meant that Madrid had to settle for a single point, leaving Barcelona eight points behind them at the top of the Spanish League. While not impossible to close the gap, realistically the title had already been settled though.

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Barcelona Beats Sporting Gijon But Still 10 Points Behind Madrid

Week 26 of the Spanish League took place on the weekend of 3rd and 4th march 2006, with Real Madrid going into the weekend a full ten points clear of FC Barcelona, the previous year’s title holders and bitterest rival. Madrid was to face the second team of the city of Barcelona, Espanyol, at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, while FC Barcelona was to play host to Sporting Gijon, sitting down in the relegation zone.

While on paper at least, Sporting looked to be a walk over, football matches don’t always follow mathematical logic in that respect and so Barcelona were fully prepared for whatever their visitors could throw at them.

However, Pep Guardiola was forced to field an under strength team, with Leo Messi sitting the match out due to his first ever suspension owing to five yellow cards picked up in previous matches, and Alexis started out on the bench; the Catalans were certainly looking a little short up front.

Much of the first half looked like a stalemate, with neither team able to score despite some effort to do so from both teams. However, four minutes from the half time break a nice bit of team play from Keita and Adriano set up Iniesta for the first goal of the match from 6 yards; minutes later Cesc almost made it two.

After the break Sporting’s de las Cuevas got in past the Barcelona defence and Pique challenged him; de las Cuevas went down and out came a red card for the Catalan defender. Replays showed that the decision was harsh and Pique was quick to criticise after the match.

With Barcelona thrown off balance Sporting managed to score. Once they did get back on their feet with 10 players though Iniesta and Xavi were looking like real stars. However, it was Keita who put Barcelona back in the lead 20 minutes before the end; and Xavi finished it off for the home team when he scored a few minutes from the end.

With three points in the bag, attention was then focused on Real Madrid to see what would happen with Espanyol, who went into the weekend in eighth place in la liga. Unfortunately for Barcelona, Madrid also took all three points available to them too, with a comfortable 5-0 win against Espanyol. While it is mathematically possible still for Barcelona to win the league, the likelihood of it happening at this stage, with Real Madrid still so strong, it close to zero. However, it looks like they won’t stop playing their best and still have the Champions League to play for.

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Barcelona Still 10 Points Behind After Win Against Atletico

While FC Barcelona has taken some time in recent matches to fully get into the game, on Sunday night they started out fully in their stride. Barcelona were guests of Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon stadium and with none of the apparent grogginess of late they started out on the attack.

This seemed to pay off after just seven minutes when Lionel Messi scored, however the referee ruled it out for handball. Next up came Xavi, whose 30 yard free kick forced Atletico keeper Courtois to show what he could do and save the ball.

The hosts quickly stepped up to the mark and responded to the Barcelona attack with a couple of dangerous looking breaks of their own. However, solid work by the defence and by Victor Valdes ensured nothing came of these.

The match started to get a little tough, but Barcelona settled down and then showed why they are considered the best team in the world at the moment when Messi, Cesc Fabregas and Dani Alves worked in perfect harmony to score the first goal of the match. However, Atletico’s Falcao responded with an attack on the Barcelona goal, which was denied by the quickness of Valdes.

After the break Atletico came on with a renewed sense of purpose and quickly started to push. This paid off a few minutes into the second half when Falcao, on the back post, volleyed the ball into the Catalan’s net from a corner.

As is so often the case Barcelona dominated possession, but even so the hosts were quick to attack when they had the opportunity. Dani Alves was instrumental in setting up an attack on the Atletico goal, but the ball was just beyond Messi’s reach and Alexis headed it over the post. Close to the end Barcelona’s defence messed up and allowed Falcao into the area. However, Valdes kept his head and reached the ball to prevent a second goal.

The match was won from a free kick by Messi. The ball soared over the Atletico defence and looked like it would go over the goal; however at the last second it dipped and went into the back of the net, much to the surprise of the Atletico goalie.

The final score was 2-1 to Barcelona, but with a 10 point disadvantage to Real Madrid their dream of another Spanish league title in 2012 was already over; coach Pep Guardiola admitted the fact, saying only that they would continue to play until the end.

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