“Neymar will soon beat Messi to be the best in the world”, says Belletti.

Neymar is ready to assume the mantle of being the best player in the world, according to former Barcelona full-back, Juliano Belletti.

Brazil captain, Neymar is one shy of bringing up his 100th Barca goal and continues to be viewed as a supreme part of a forward collective alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Messi and Real Madrid rival, Cristiano Ronaldo have engaged in a two-way fight for the Ballon d’Or for most of the past decade, but Belletti, who scored the winning goal in the 2006 Champions League final against Arsenal, believes his countryman is improving all the time.

“Neymar can be the best player in the world soon,” he said, speaking at the launch of the 2017 International Champions Cup in New York.

“So it is good for Neymar. We will see a better Neymar in all of the [coming] years.”

Neymar stepped up with two late goals and a superb all-round display as Barcelona sensationally overturned a 4-0 first-leg deficit in their 6-1 Champions League last-16 win over Paris Saint-Germain at Camp Nou.

Belletti feels the confidence gained from such an incredible victory could propel Luis Enrique’s team to a second European title in the past three seasons.

“I think it is about confidence now,” he added, with Serie A giants Juventus awaiting Barca in the quarter-finals and eyeing revenge for their 2015 final defeat.

“After that victory against Paris Saint-Germain the players have more confidence to fight for the title.”

Meanwhile, it looks like another club likes Angel Di Maria. Tuttosport claim (via le10Sport) that Juventus have entered the fray for the former Manchester United man.

Di Maria has enjoyed a bit of a resurrection in 2017, after ending last year on some poor form.

The Argentine international is, however, part of PSG’s future plans. The Ligue 1 champions don’t want to give up on the 29-year-old, who has scored six goals and made seven assists between the league and the Champions League.

A recent report confirmed, in fact, that Angel Di Maria wanted to join Barcelona, something Le10 Sport had revealed last summer.

Part of the reason was his desire to play with friend Lionel Messi.
Di Maria recently revealed, however, that he was “very happy here. I still have two years on my deal.

“My family is happy here. There have, of course, been rumours. I’ll stay here until the end of my deal. Everybody has their way of thinking.

“The people can wish to play in China, it’s true that with the amounts of money we’re talking about, that can attract certain players. But that’s not my case, I prefer to stay here.”


Source: The Guardian

My performance against PSG remains the best of my career – Neymar

Neymar described his two-goal display as the “best game” of his career as he inspired the greatest comeback in Champions League history Barcelona thrashed Paris Saint-Germain 6-1.

The Catalans became the first side to come back from a 4-0 first leg deficit as Neymar scored twice in the final two minutes and then teed up a 95th-minute winner by Sergi Roberto to reach the quarter-finals 6-5 on aggregate.

“This is the best game I have ever played. For what it meant, for what we experienced and because I am in great form,” the Brazilian told BeIN Sports.

However, the Spanish champions looked down and out when Edison Cavani volleyed home what seemed to be the clinching away goal for PSG.

“Before… we believed and now even more,” Neymar added on Barca’s chances winning a sixth Champions League.

“When they scored the goal we had a little dip but then there was the fourth and the penalty. We concentrated and Sergi’s goal came.

“I know that we have made history. A team like this can do anything. The game was lost and we went out to play without pressure and with joy, throwing everything forward.”

Barca boss Luis Enrique announced last week that he will leave the club at the end of the season after he was heavily criticised following their 4-0 humiliation in Paris three weeks ago.

And Enrique took the chance to round on his critics as he thanked the “faith” of the Barca players and fans.

“First we had the mourning and that was especially hard on one person,” he said.

“This victory is dedicated to all Barca fans, but especially those that had faith in their team even after a day in which they were clearly outplayed by a team like PSG.”

– Baby boom –
Defender Gerard Pique even predicted a baby boom in the Catalan capital set off by Roberto’s outstretched right leg sparking delirium among nearly 100,000 at the Camp Nou.

“I would say to the hospitals of Barcelona to hire nurses. Tonight people will make a lot of love,” said Pique, the partner of Colombian pop star Shakira.

“It’s a miracle. We are in the quarters, which was the objective before it got a lot more complicated in Paris,” said Pique.

“We never stopped believing, even the fans, who are normally the most pessimistic. It seems this new generation believes in the team more.

“We have done it all together and that helps a lot.”

Despite Neymar, Suarez and Messi’s heroics, it was Roberto who proved to be Barca’s unlikely hero as he choose the perfect time to score his first goal of the season.

“I threw myself at it with everything,” said the Spanish international.

“We left Paris very down and now this is incredible. We were prepared for all this. The fans were like 10 extra players and in the end this is all for them.”

And Enrique confessed he had questioned why Roberto doesn’t find the net with more regularity.

“I saw him score a lot of goals in the youth team and it is always a joke between us ‘why doesn’t Sergi Roberto score?’ And then he scores tonight,” added Enrique.

“This sport is indescribable.”


Source: AFP

We fear UK may deny Messi and Neymar entry visas – UEFA

European football’s governing body, UEFA has said that the body fears Barcelona stars Lionel Messi & Neymar may be denied entry visas into the U.K for the Champions league final in Cardiff this May if they qualify, due to ongoing legal battles with the Spanish government.

Lionel Messi and Neymar have been embroiled in tax evasion court battles for over a year which has led to the resignation of former Barca president Sandro Rosell, with tax prosecutors alleging Messi evaded tax with offshore accounts while Barca hid the actual value of Neymar’s transfer so as to reduce money paid to former club, Santos and tax given to the Spanish government.

New laws in Britain could hinder people who have ongoing legal battles from entering the U.K and with Brexit set to be formalized, the entrance of non-British citizens into the U.K could become harder.

“Neymar and Lionel Messi both have [tax evasion] procedures going on,” UEFA President, Aleksander Ceferin told the New York Times.

“This year, the Champions League final is in Cardiff. “Imagine if they did not let them in.”That is a big thing for us, if players from England can travel anywhere, but players from other teams cannot travel to [the UK].”With free movement in Europe, it is much better.”If we see that players cannot enter because they have any sort of procedure ongoing then we will simply think if we should play our European matches there.”

He also talked about PSG/Ivory coast player, Serge Aurier’s incident during the group stages, when he was denied entry for a match against Arsenal.

“I was very disappointed when Aurier, from PSG, was not allowed to enter England, That will worsen when Brexit happens, especially if the reasons were as formal. “We could have a serious problem.”

Oops! Ballon d’Or winner ‘LEAKED’ with Cristiano Ronaldo set to win.

The winner of the 2016 Ballon d’Or will be Cristiano Ronaldo, according to a ‘leaked’ copy of France Football ahead of Monday night’s ceremony.

A supposed front page of the publication has been circulated online, featuring Ronaldo clutching the trophy, which would take him within one of Lionel Messi’s record five Ballon d’Or.

France Football, who founded the award, will publish an exclusive interview with the winner, and the front page would seem to confirm that it will be the Real Madrid superstar.

It also features a quote from Antoine Griezmann, saying: “I finished behind two monsters.”

That would appear to indicate that the Frenchman finished third in the voting behind Clasico rivals Messi and Ronaldo.

Ronaldo will not be present at the ceremony on Monday evening, having landed in Japan ahead of the FIFA Club World Cup.

The Portuguese is set to be officially announced as this year’s winner at around 8pm GMT.

Countdown as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi await Ballon d’Or announcement

Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to crown a memorable year by being named the world’s best player for a fourth time on Monday night.

The Ballon d’Or ceremony will be held in Paris on Monday while Ronaldo is thousands of miles away in Japan, ahead of Club World Cup duty for Real Madrid.

However, Ronaldo is expected to pick up the main award after a remarkable year even by his own high standards.

Real beat city rivals Atletico Madrid in May to become European champions for a record-extending 11th time, with Ronaldo once more playing a crucial role.

Two months later Portugal triumphed at Euro 2016 in France to claim a major trophy for the first time.

Ronaldo has scored 48 goals in 52 games for club and country in 2016.

The 31-year-old has previously won the Ballon d’Or three times, the last in 2014 when it had been merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year accolade.

Ronaldo is expected to beat Antoine Griezmann and Lionel Messi to the award.

Griezmann finished as top scorer at Euro 2016, where Les Bleus were defeated by Portugal in the final, and also helped take Atletico to the Champions League final.

Messi, meanwhile, will be looking to repeat his success of 2015 when he again beat Ronaldo to the individual title, which was a fourth since 2010 and fifth overall.

The Argentina captain, 29, helped guide Barcelona to another domestic league and cup double in 2015-16, scoring 41 goals in all competitions.

The Puskas Award: FIFA Releases The Top 10 Goals of 2016

Lionel Messi, Neymar and Saul Niguez are among the 10 nominees for the FIFA Puskas Award 2016.

Messi’s free kick in Argentina’s Copa America 4-0 semifinal victory over United States, Neymar’s flick and volley for Barcelona against Villarreal and Saul’s sublime solo effort for Atletico Madrid in their Champions League semifinal win over Bayern Munich are among the leading contenders.

Spain full-back Mario Gaspar is nominated for his acrobatic volley in last November’s friendly victory over England, while Hal Robson-Kanu’s neat turn and finish in Wales’ surprise Euro 2016 quarterfinal victory over Belgium is also on the list.

Corinthians attacking midfielder Marlone scored with a fine chest control and volley in a Copa Libertadores tie against Cobresal in April.

Daniuska Rodriguez scored a fine solo goal for Venezuela against Colombia in Women’s Under-17 Sudamericano Championship in March, holding off two challenges before firing past the goalkeeper.

Gefle midfielder Simon Skrabb also makes the list with an outlandish finish in a Swedish Allsvenskan match in October 2015, netting an outstanding “scorpion goal” from Kristian Bergstrom’s cross.

Probably the most outrageous free kick of the year came in the Malaysia Super League, when Mohd Faiz Subri channelled his inner Papiss Cisse for Penang against Pahang to hit a bending effort that was going toward one corner and went in the other.

Corinthians attacking midfielder Marlone scored with a fine chest control and volley in a Copa Libertadores tie against Cobresal in April.

Daniuska Rodriguez scored a fine solo goal for Venezuela against Colombia in Women’s Under-17 Sudamericano Championship in March, holding off two challenges before firing past the goalkeeper.

Gefle midfielder Simon Skrabb also makes the list with an outlandish finish in a Swedish Allsvenskan match in October 2015, netting an outstanding “scorpion goal” from Kristian Bergstrom’s cross.

Probably the most outrageous free kick of the year came in the Malaysia Super League, when Mohd Faiz Subri channelled his inner Papiss Cisse for Penang against Pahang to hit a bending effort that was going toward one corner and went in the other.

Messi ‘rejects new Barcelona contract after worries over tax fraud legal issues’.

LIONEL MESSI has rejected a new Barcelona deal.

Spanish daily Marca report that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner said no to a contract renewal in July over concerns regarding his tax fraud case.

Messi was given a 21-month sentence after being found guilty of three counts of tax evasion but did not serve time behind bars.

The Argentina superstar, widely regarded as the world’s greatest footballer, is tied down to Barcelona until 2018.

Marca claim Messi decided not to renew in the second week of July, when he was pictured on holiday with his family.

It is believed that Messi’s father Jorge and his advisers acted as messengers, passing on the forward’s decision to club bosses.

Marca report that Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu received the news with “understandable shock”.

Messi has recently endured a tough time with Argentina, urging his team-mates to get out of their “s*** situation”.

That came after his Barcelona team-mate Neymar scored in the Samba Boys’ 3-0 win over Messi’s side last week.

Barcelona return to action following the international break against Malaga on Saturday afternoon.

Eden Hazard Eyes Ballon d’Or Award

Chelsea playmaker, Eden Hazard, has admitted that he wants to win the Ballon d’Or prize next year.

The Belgian’s form dipped dramatically, after he won the PFA Player of the Year award, as the Blues clinched the Premier League title in 2014/2015 season.

Hazard has rediscovered his form under Antonio Conte and scored twice, as Chelsea hammered Everton 5-0 on Saturday .

The brace took his Premier League tally to seven goals in 11 matches this term, having only netted four times in 2015-16.

“Last season I was not good, so for me it was normal that I was not on the list,” Hazard said.

“But I want to come back on the list, and give everything to be on the list, not to be in the top 23 but to be in the top five.

“Yes, I want to reach that level.”

“Last season was difficult for me. I tried to be the same player that I was two years ago,” he added.

“But now I am trying to play like when I was a kid. I am enjoying playing now, my position is a bit different from before, I go inside more. It gives me more freedom, and I’m good for the moment.

“Conte has not change a lot, it is just that I have a little bit more freedom when we have the ball and without the ball.

“Because I don’t need to defend against the right-back, because Marcos Alonso is there. I just focus on staying in my position. And when I have the ball I have more freedom and I can go where I want to go, and be decisive.”

Xavi Hernandez backs Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo to win Ballon d’Or

Xavi Hernandez has extended an olive branch to Cristiano Ronaldo by saying the Real Madrid star “has the numbers” to win this year’s Ballon d’Or.

The former Barcelona midfielder unintentionally started a war of words with Ronaldo in September when he said that Ronaldo cannot be compared to his former teammate Lionel Messi. Ronaldo retorted by bragging about the fact he’s won the Ballon d’Or on three occasions and mocking Xavi’s decision to move to Qatari side Al-Sadd for the final years of his professional career.

However, Xavi has not risen to the Portuguese international’s comments, instead of backing him as the primary candidate to be crowned as football’s best player for the fourth time.

“Cristiano has the numbers to win this year’s Ballon d’Or, having won the Champions League and the Euros [with Real Madrid and Portugal],” he said at the ASPIRE4SPORT Congress & Exhibition in Amsterdam.

“But I also think that it’ll be very competitive, because Messi will be there, of course.”

The dispute between the two players started when Xavi was recently asked to compare Ronaldo and Messi in an interview with Cadena SER.

“Ronaldo is a player of his time,” he said, “but the problem is that there is another player who has been pretty much the best player in history.

“Ronaldo is extraordinary but compared to Messi, for me and for everyone who likes football, there can be no comparisons.”

Asked about the comments, Ronaldo replied: “I couldn’t care less about what Xavi says about me, he plays in Qatar or I don’t even know where.

“He’s won every collective trophy, including a World Cup and the European Championship, but he’s never won a Ballon d’Or.”

In August, Ronaldo was named UEFA Best Player in Europe ahead of Madrid teammate Gareth Bale and Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann.

This year’s Ballon d’Or will be voted on exclusively by journalists after France Football ended its six-year association with FIFA in September.

That relationship had seen the Ballon d’Or and FIFA’s World Player of the Year combined for the last six years, with journalists and national team captains and coaches voting on the world’s best player.

FIFA have not announced their plans for the World Player of the Year award going forward.

My Son Doesn’t Really Like Football – MessI

Barcelona star Lionel Messi revealed his son, Thiago, has little interest in the game his dad has become arguably the greatest player in.

The Argentine’s plethora of individual awards, eight La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns seemingly are not enough to get the three-year-old interested.

So the Barca ace’s biggest challenge yet may be trying to get Thiago loving the game his father dominates.

“I don’t buy him many balls or force him to play with them because he doesn’t like them that much,” Messi told Telefe’s ‘Polemica en el Bar’ in his homeland.

There may be hope yet, with Messi saying Barca are working on a project for the players’ children to play the game.

“Let’s see if he gets hooked that way, it would be a good start,” Messi said.

Messi Snubbed As Bale, Ronaldo, Griezmann Up For UEFA Best Player Award

The Argentine failed to make the top three for the Best Player in Europe accolade in favour of the Real Madrid duo and the Atletico and France striker

Lionel Messi has been left out of the top three shortlist for the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Antoine Griezmann in the running.

Messi was not even placed fourth in the long list of 10 candidates as Barcelona team-mate Luis Suarez bumped him down to fifth.

Ronaldo is favourite for the award, having led Real Madrid to their 11th Champions League win in 2015-16, before being crowned European champion with Portugal after seeing off France in the final at Euro 2016.


Bale, meanwhile, also won the Champions League with Madrid, while inspiring Wales to the semi-finals at the European Championship.

France striker Griezmann lost the Champions League final with Atletico, and was also on the losing side to Ronaldo at the Euros, although he was crowned top scorer with six goals.

The award, which Messi won last year, is voted for by journalists from UEFA’s member nations. Gianluigi Buffon, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer and Pepe were the other players on the long list.

Source – goal.com

“Messi is The Best Footballer Of All Time” – Pope Francis

Pope Francis says that he thinks Lionel Messi is the best footballer of all time.

Pope Francis said this in Krakow, Poland, during lunch while on a trip for the World Youth Day gathering, according to sport-english.com.

He was joined by 12 youths and one of them asked him, “Who is better, Maradona or Pele?” and the pope responded, “For me, Messi,” without giving further explanation.

A response that the participants at the lunch enjoyed – and none of them were Argentine.


Reports say nearly three million pilgrims made it to the mass he was celebrating on the final day of a five-day to Poland, as the 1,050th anniversary of Poland’s adoption of Christianity was celebrated.

Messi Is No 1986 Heroes- Maradona

Diego Maradona apparently boasted that his 1986 World Cup-winning Argentina team was better than the current squad now thrown into turmoil by Lionel Messi’s departure, in a recording published Wednesday.

Previously critical of Messi, the 55-year-old ex-national captain and 2010 World Cup coach joined calls this week for him to reverse his decision to retire from the Argentina national team after a morale crushing penalty shoot-out defeat to Chile in the Copa America Centenario final.

But in a recording published online by Argentine media, he was heard apparently belittling the side led by Messi.

“Every second that goes by makes us greater, because we went and played with balls… We didn’t go and play against Chile. We beat Germany,” Maradona told his old World Cup teammates in a recorded message to celebrate commemorating the 1986 victory.

“You know what I mean: the difference there is between one team and another.”

Argentina’s congress held a tribute to the 1986 squad on Tuesday to mark the 30th anniversary of their triumph, but Maradona did not attend.

Credit: Guardian

Argentina Begs Messi Not To Quit

Argentine football legend Diego Maradona and the country’s President Mauricio Macri urged Lionel Messi on Monday not to leave the national team despite his vow to quit after a humiliating defeat.

The Barcelona superstar left the field in tears after missing a spot-kick in the Copa America Centenario final shootout against Chile on Sunday.

He promptly told reporters he was quitting, throwing Argentine football into turmoil ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

“He has to stay because he still has playing days ahead of him,” Maradona was quoted as saying by La Nacion newspaper online.

“He will go to Russia in form to be world champion.”

Messi, 29, is widely rated as the best player in the world, but Sunday’s loss was his fourth defeat in an international final for Argentina.

After an outpouring of disappointment by fans online, Macri joined the calls for the Barcelona superstar to stay with Argentina.

“He called him and told him how proud he feels of the national team’s performance and asked him not to listen to the criticism,” a spokesman for Macri told AFP by telephone.

Credit: Guardian

Nigerian Killed Over Messi, Ronaldo Squabble

A man was killed after arguing with a friend over whether Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo was the best footballer in the world.


Nigerian national, Michael Chukwuma, 21, stabbed 34-year-old compatriot Obinna Durumchukwu in a Mumbai suburb, Indian police said.


The incident took place following a party on Saturday night.


“They were discussing football players. One is a fan of Messi and the other was for Ronaldo,” a police inspector said.
“During the conversation a quarrel took place. The deceased threw a glass into the face of the accused person. The glass broke and caused small injuries.

“After that the accused took the broken glass and assaulted the deceased person who died due to heavy bleeding.”


Argentina international Messi, 28, is a five-time winner of the Ballon d’Or – the annual award given to the world’s best player by the governing body FIFA.


Portugal captain Ronaldo, 31, has won the accolade three times.


Credit : Punch

Messi Undergoes Kidney Stone Treatment

Lionel Messi is undergoing treatment on kidney stones which floored the Argentina superstar at the Club World Cup in December, Barcelona announced on Monday.

The five-time world Player of the Year “will be submitted to various tests on Monday and Tuesday to assess the development of kidney problems he suffered last December”, the Spanish champions said in a statement.

Messi is due back on Wednesday, when Barca face Valencia in the Copa del Rey semi-final second leg, with the Catalans firmly in control after the 7-0 first leg drubbing they handed Gary Neville’s team as Messi bagged a hat-trick.

The five time World Player of the Year is reported to be receiving lithotripsy, a procedure involving ultrasound shock waves to break down problem kidney stones.

Credit: Guardian

Suarez Rules Out Neymar Leaving Barcelona

The former Liverpool striker insists there is no chance of the Brazil international leaving the Spanish champions despite reported interest from Real Madrid and Manchester United

Luis Suarez insists there is no chance of Neymar leaving Barcelona in the summer, despite the mounting speculation over his future.

The Brazil international is currently involved in a protracted wrangle over a new contract which has alerted the likes of Manchester United and even Real Madrid.

The 23-year-old’s situation has been further complicated by the ongoing investigations into alleged fraud and corruption relating to his move to Barcelona in 2013.

But Suarez, speaking after he and Lionel Messi scored all seven goals in the thumping Copa del Rey first leg win over Valencia on Wednesday, dismissed any notion of Neymar swapping Camp Nou for the Bernabeu or the Premier League in the near future.

“I am convinced that Neymar will remain at” Barcelona,” he said.

“The club supports him, and I am sure that he will play here for many years.”

Messi Hopes To Meet Afghan Boy In Plastic Jersey

Barcelona star Lionel Messi is hoping to arrange a meeting with an Afghan boy who shot to fame after pictures of him dressed in a striped plastic bag jersey went viral, Kabul’s football federation said Monday.

Five-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi idolises the Argentine soccer star but a jersey of his favourite player is beyond the means of his poor family in the volatile province of Ghazni near Kabul.

His elder brother Homayoun, 15, made him the blue-and-white-striped plastic shirt with Messi’s named scrawled in marker pen and posted the photos of Murtaza wearing it on Facebook in mid-January.

Jorge Messi, Lionel’s father, told AFP on Saturday that the footballer was aware of the photos that made waves on social media and “wants to do something” for his young fan.

The Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF) on Monday said Messi was keen to meet Murtaza as soon as possible, though no date or venue has so far been finalised.

“Messi has been in communication with the federation to set up a meeting with the young boy,” AFF spokesman Sayed Ali Kazemi told AFP.

“We are working to see whether Messi will come to Afghanistan or the five-year-old will travel to Spain or they will meet in a third country.”

Credit: Vanguard

Policeman Jailed For Posting Messi’s Passport On Social Media

A Dubai court sentenced a policeman to one month in prison on Monday for posting a video showing Argentine football superstar Lionel Messi’s passport on social media, local media reported.

The Gulf News daily reported on its website that the policeman, identified only by his initials J.J., was criticised in particular for having “abused the telecommunications system”.

The policeman pleaded guilty and admitted he was wrong to have uploaded the post of Messi’s passport to Snapchat via his smartphone.

The incident occurred in December at Dubai airport, where Messi had landed to attend the Globe Soccer Awards, at which he received the best player award.

The Emirati policeman wanted a photo of himself with the footballer, but was told the star was tired from the flight, The National daily reported last month.

“I then went to the passport control desk and noticed that Messi’s passport had been left there, so I picked it up and shot a video of myself while holding it,” it quoted the policeman as saying.


Mascherano Confirms Tax Agreement And Will Avoid Prison Sentence

The Barcelona defender says he has reached an agreement with Spanish authorities over alleged unpaid taxes and blamed those who poorly advised him for the mess

Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano has released a statement in which he says he has reached an agreement with Spanish authorities concerning charges of tax fraud.

The Argentina international appeared in court in an effort to avoid a custodial sentence being handed down as a result of two counts of tax evasion.

Mascherano had failed to declare earnings in 2011 and 2012 which amounted to €1.5million.

Reports emerged in Spain earlier on Thursday to suggest that Mascherano had been handed a year in prison and a significant fine, but the former Liverpool man says an agreement has been reached with the Treasury which gives him “peace of mind”.

He has also suggested he could pursue legal action himself against the firm which he claims gave him poor advice and which led to the case being opened.

An official statement from Mascherano, published on Barcelona’s website, read: “I want to clarify some issues related to recent news about myself.

“As of today, I have reached an agreement with the Spanish tax authorities. As such, with the legal side resolved and with the confidence of having sorted my financial situation, I want to issue a short explanation.

“After agreeing to come to Barcelona, I hired a prestigious Spanish tax firm, with renowned professionals and an excellent reputation. In agreement with my situation, they recommended certain structures to me, all within the legal framework, always notifying me that the procedures were common, transparent and in accordance with the law.

“I was advised by said professionals from the year 2010 until 2014, when I decided to change firms before the process was opened against me and with evidence that my problem was no longer a possibility but a reality.

“My new advisors recommended I pay the taxes demanded by the Treasury, presenting what they called ‘corrections’.

“Now, finally and following a bitter delay, we have reached this agreement, which restores to me the peace of mind of having fulfilled my obligations.

“I’m a professional sportsman, I don’t have huge knowledge of tax or legal matters. As such, I lean on the people who handle these technical and, for me, complex terms.

“Throughout my career I’ve been an honest and responsible person, respecting my team-mates, the clubs for whom I have played and the countries where I have chosen to live.

“This situation I’ve had to go through has given me greater experience, from which I move on stronger and relaxed as I knew things were back in order.

“I reserve the possibility of taking action against those who made incorrect assessments and recommended things to me that were not correct.”

United Nations Appoints Lionel Messi, Shakira For SDG’s Campaign

The United Nations has appointed Barcelona and Argentina captain Lionel Messi and pop sensation Shakira who is also the wife of Gerard Pique, a defender for the Catalan club.

Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (L) poses with Colombian singer Shakira (R) on January 9, 2012 during the FIFA Ballon d’Or football award  ceremony. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE

 The two stars and other prominent persons were appointed to assist in the campaign to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
UN secretary-general said: “The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are our shared vision of
humanity and a social contract between the world’s leaders and the people.
“They are a to-do list for people and planet, and a blueprint for success.”

The group includes heads of state and government, business and political leaders and prominent academia, as well as artists who have shown outstanding leadership in their field.
John Mahama, Ghanaian president and Norwegian prime minister, Erna Solberg will co-chair the group of SDG Advocates, thecable.ng reports.
Other appointees include:

Her Majesty Queen Mathilde of Belgium
Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden
Richard Curtis Screenwriter, Producer and Film Director
Dho Young-Shim, Chairperson, United Nations World Tourism Organization’s Sustainable Tourism for Eliminating Poverty Foundation
Leymah Gbowee, Director, Gbowee Peace Foundation
Jack Ma, Founder and Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group
Graça Machel, President, Foundation for Community Development
Leo Messi, World Renowned Footballer, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser
Alaa Murabit, Founder, The Voice of Libyan Women
Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer, Unilever
Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Earth Institute at Colombia University
Shakira Mebarak, Artist, Advocate and Founder, Pies Descalzos Foundation, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
Forest Whitaker, Founder and CEO, Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative, UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation
Muhammad Yunus, Founder, Grameen Bank

Messi Out Of Club World Cup Semi-final

The Blaugrana forward is last-minute absentee for the match with Guangzhou Evergrande after coming down with an injury

Lionel Messi has been ruled out of Barcelona‘s Club World Cup semi-final as a result of renal colic, the club have confirmed.

The Argentina international had been training as normal in Japan and was expected to line up from the start against Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao in Yokohama.

The European champions stated earlier on Thursday that Messi is suffering from renal colic and will therefore sit out the game, while his involvement in the final or third-place play-off will be determined by his recovery.

Barca are already likely to be without Neymar against Guanzghou, with the Brazil star still short of full fitness despite returning to training this week following a groin injury.

The former Santos forward posted a picture from training with the caption “I’m back” but head coach Luis Enrique has already warned he will not take any unecessary risks over his fitness.

Watch This Awesome 11 Year Old Kid Do Amazing Skills Using A Football, A Trumpet and A Saxophone

So i stumbled on this amazing boy on Youtube and i must say his talents at Keepy Up are amazing. He goes by the name of Jonathan and i must say this Boy can Juggle the World’s Economy If it ever was transformed into a Football to keep it stable…..LOL … Can he be the New Messi seeing he always has that legend written on his Back in other Subsequent Videos? Watch and Enjoy

If that didn’t convince you watch him play the Pink Panther on the Saxophone while Juggling a Football.  Pls never forget he is just 11 Years old.


Then watch Him Juggle awkward things that were thrown at him …………. Including an X Box controller pad

Ronaldo Doesn’t Deserve To Be A Ballon d’Or Finalist – Dani Alves

The Portuguese has been named among the finalists to win the award, along with Lionel Messi and Neymar, but the Barca star has now criticised his Real Madrid rival

Barcelona right-back Dani Alves insists Cristiano Ronaldo does not deserve to be a Ballon d’Or finalist, and says Neymar has become the second best player in the world behind Lionel Messi.

Both Messi and Neymar have been named among the finalists to win the award, along with the Real Madrid superstar, who has scored 16 goals in 18 appearances thus far this season.

Alves, though, does not think Ronaldo should not still be in the running.

“Messi is a bit ahead, because of his influence on the game,” Alves told reporters. “I think at this moment, Neymar is second best in the world.

“Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t deserve to be among the Ballon d’Or finalists. It’s not only about scoring goals.”

The Usual Suspects Messi & Ronaldo And A New Nominee Neymar, Make Ballon d’Or Final Shortlist

The original 23-man list has been reduced to just three names and includes two Barcelona players, with the winner to be revealed at a ceremony in Zurich on January 11, 2016

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar will contest the 2015 Ballon d’Or competition after the shortlist was whittled down from 23 names to just three.

Messi is the favourite to land the accolade, having led Barcelona to a famous treble last season, while Ronaldo is looking to defend his crown and draw level with the Argentine for overall wins.

Were he to pick up the Ballon d’Or at the ceremony in Zurich on January 11, 2016, it would be Messi’s fifth World Player of the Year title, more than any other player.

This year he is joined on the podium by Barca team-mate Neymar, who netted 10 goals en route to Champions League glory, including scoring in the final against Juventus in Berlin.

The Brazilian was also the joint-third top scorer in La Liga last season with 22 goals – and already has 14 this term – though his haul was put in the shade by those of Messi (43 goals) and topscorer Ronaldo (48).

For the sixth straight time, the final three-man Ballon d’Or shortlist does not include a single Premier League player, while it is a decade since an Englishman last made the final three (Frank Lampard in 2005).

The women’s nominees for their respective prize are the USA’s Carli Lloyd, Japan’s Aya Miyama and Germany’s Celia Sasic.

Security Concerns ‘Inevitable’ Ahead Of Clasico – Iniesta

Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta admitted on Thursday it is impossible to ignore security concerns ahead of Saturday’s huge clash between Real Madrid and Barca in the Spanish capital just days after a series of deadly attacks in Paris.

The Spanish government have promised security measures on an unprecedented level for the match that will see a capacity 81,000 fans descend upon the Santiago Bernabeu with 2,400 police, stewards and emergency services set to form a triple ring of security around the stadium.

“The situation generates concern for everybody. It is inevitable, I think we all agree on that,” said Iniesta.

“From what I know and what the security forces are saying, all possible measures will be taken and everyone should collaborate so that before, during and after the game a sporting spectacle can take place and it is the game that is the focus for such a special day for the world of football.”

The Stade de France, where France were hosting Germany, was one of a number of targets struck during the attacks on Friday that left 129 dead and over 350 injured.

Iniesta was part of the Spain squad that travelled to Brussels for a friendly against Belgium on Tuesday only for the game to be suspended less than 24 hours before kick-off due to the elevated terror threat.

“Fear isn’t the right word, but there was concern,” Iniesta added.

“We went because it seemed like everything could take place normally despite the situation we were in before they took that decision. A completely correct decision.”

However, he wholeheartedly backed the decision for games across Spain and the rest of Europe to go ahead this weekend.

“It is a shame that people aren’t talking about sport, football or the spectacle, but it is the reality we live in and we can’t ignore it.

“We have to try to return to normality. On Saturday, it is not just Madrid and Barca that are playing, but many games and hopefully everything goes as it always has done.”

Suarez: “Real Madrid Players Will Not Target Messi’s Knee”

The Uruguay international striker has scored 13 goals in all competitions this season thus far and says that the Argentine will not be unfairly targeted by Real’s defenders

Barcelona striker Luis Suarez does not expect Real Madrid players to target Lionel Messi‘s knee in this weekend’s Clasico.

Messi has been out of action since injuring his knee against Las Palmas in September, but has returned to training ahead of Saturday’s clash at Santiago Bernabeu.

Madrid captain Sergio Ramos is also set to feature despite struggling with a shoulder problem, and Suarez says neither player will be subjected to rough treatment.

“I don’t think anybody will try to hit Sergio Ramos’ shoulder and I do not think anyone will try to hit Messi’s knee either,” Suarez said at a news conference on Wednesday.

“We are colleagues and professionals. Messi has been training with the squad, but it is up to the coach to decide whether he will play.”

Barcelona hold a three-point lead over Madrid at the top of La Liga heading into Saturday’s match, but Suarez does not feel this weekend’s game will be decisive in the title race.

“We have to be happy with our recent performances, because we have been doing a good job without the best player in the world, travelling to the Bernabeu three points clear of Madrid,” the in-form Uruguayan added.

“Games like the Clasico are the ones that are decided by great players, but it will not be decisive in the race for the Liga title.

“There are still a lot of games left and Atletico Madrid also have a role to play.”

Saturday’s match represents a special occasion for Suarez as he returns to the stadium where he made his debut for Barcelona last October.

He continued: “It is always a special feeling to play in a stadium like the Santiago Bernabeu. It is even more special because I made my debut for Barcelona at the Bernabeu.

“Madrid are Madrid. We know what we have to do and we must be very focused right from the start.”

Gareth Bale Set To Be Fit For El-Clasico

Despite missing Wales’ friendly with Netherlands, Chris Coleman says the Real Madrid star is expected to be fit for El Clasico later this month

Wales boss Chris Coleman has suggested Gareth Bale will be fit in time for El Clasico on November 21 despite not being selected for the friendly with Netherlands in Cardiff.

Bale is not in the squad for the friendly at Cardiff City Stadium on November 13, with Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey also not selected, as the pair recover from calf and hamstring problems respectively.

Madrid forward Bale limped out of his side’s 3-0 win over Levante in the first game back following the international break, in which he helped Wales qualify for Euro 2016.

And Coleman explained it was a case of not wishing to gamble on Bale’s fitness rather than anything more concerning.

“I think, having [had] the correspondence with Madrid, he’ll probably figure in the next game for them [after the international break] I would imagine,” he explained.

“But they want to use this time wisely and carefully and get him up to speed. We respect that.

“Gareth also wants to do what’s right. It’s not in our nature to take risks with players.”

Bale is likely to be involved against Barca in the first Clasico of the season at the Santiago Bernabeu – the rivals currently level on points at the top of La Liga.

On Sunday, Bale posted a picture of his return to training on Twitter with the message: “Back on the pitch stepping up my rehab!”

“I Don’t Compete With Ronaldo & He Doesn’t Compete With Me” – Lionel Messi

Barcelona star Lionel Messi insists he doesn’t see himself as being in competition with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo despite the constant comparisons that exist between the pair.

As individuals, Messi and Ronaldo have dominated the game for the best part of the last decade, with the last seven Ballon d’Ors won by one of the two.

That’s expected to become eight in January, with Messi tipped to win it back from Ronaldo, who has won it for the last two years.

However, the Argentine is adamant he’s not spurred on by how

These are things that [other] people say,” Messi said when asked about his rivalry with the Portuguese international in an interview with Yahoo!. 

“I don’t compete with Cristiano and I suppose he would not compete with me — what I want is the very best for my teams and that’s what I am working for.”

More to follow…

Messi, father to appear in court over $4.5 million tax fraud charges

Argentine forward Lionel Messi and his father Jorge have been ordered to appear in court on charges of defrauding Spanish tax authorities over an amount worth more than four million euros (about $4.5 million; about N990 million).


Spain’s public prosecutor has recommended a jail sentence totaling 18 months and fines of more than two million euros for Jorge Messi.


This is for allegedly defrauding the state of 4.2 million euros for the years 2007-2009.


The prosecutor has however argued that Lionel Messi should not have to answer the charges as his father oversaw his finances.


But a court document published on Thursday showed the judge in the case had ruled that the FC Barcelona player must still appear as a defendant.


The hearings will take place at a court in Vilanova i la Geltru, near Barcelona, the document said.


The court had previously ruled that Messi could have known about it all.


It also said he could have approved the creation of a web of shell companies which were allegedly used to evade taxes on income from image rights.


Revenue had been hidden using companies in Uruguay, Belize, Switzerland and the UK, according to the prosecutor’s office.


Previously, Messi and his father paid five million euros to the tax authorities as a “corrective payment’’ after they were formally charged in June 2013.


The footballer has been resident in Barcelona since 2000 and gained Spanish citizenship in 2005.


He is 10th on Forbes Magazine’s list of the world’s highest-earning athletes over the past decade with income of $350 million.





Messi Tax Fraud Charges Dropped

Authorities determined that the Barcelona and Argentina star was not aware of alleged manoeuvres to avoid fiscal obligations, given his age at the time of the infractions

Lionel Messi has seen charges of tax evasion against him dropped as prosecutors in Catalunya seek 18 months imprisonment for his father, Jorge Messi.

The Barcelona star had been accused of avoiding €4.1 million in tax obligations from 2007 to 2009, related to payments on image rights. 

But Spanish authorities opted to file the charges against him, marking his father as responsible for the alleged fraudulent acts.

“It is not plausible to think that his unawareness [of events] was intentional, or carried out seeking to defraud the Public Treasury,” the prosecutor’s ruling explained. 

As such, the office deemed that, given Messi’s age and close links with his father, it was Jorge who looked after the player’s business interests and “control of tax obligations”. 

Messi could, however, be called upon to testify in the case against Jorge, who has acted as his son’s agent throughout his professional career. 

As well as a possible custodial sentence, Messi Sr. could face a fine of €2 million if found guilty on the charges.

Only Messi And Ronaldo Are Better Than Aguero – Pellegrini

The Manchester City boss rates his star striker, who scored five times against Newcastle at the weekend, as the third best player in the world at the moment

Manchester City star Sergio Aguero is up there with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo among the best players in the world, according to his manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Aguero scored five goals in 20 minutes as City thrashed Newcastle United 6-1 in the Premier League on Saturday.

Last season’s golden boot winner had made a slow start to the season, but his haul took his tally to six in the league.

Pellegrini believes only superstars Messi and Ronaldo are better than his 27-year-old forward.

“After what we have seen [against Newcastle] of course Kun [Aguero] is at that level,” Pellegrini said.

“I have already said that, after Ronaldo and Messi, he is the best player in the world.

“But the important thing – not only for Kun but as a team – is that we must continue to improve.

“We need to win the Premier League again and to win the Champions League, because Messi and Ronaldo are always involved in that competition and that’s very important for a player.

“I’m very happy for us that in Kun we have a very important player. He always makes important things in competitions.”

Barcelona Win ECA Club Of The Year Award

Winning the Champions League, La Liga and the Copa del Rey ensured the Catalans were rewarded with the accolade in Monday’s ceremony.

Barcelona have been crowned Club of the Year for their treble-winning efforts in 2014-15 by the European Club Association (ECA).

Luis Enrique’s debut season was practically perfect as the Catalans waltzed to the Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey clean sweep, following a phenomenal second half of the season.

Blowing their chance of claiming a much-vaunted sextet by losing the Spanish Super Cup to Athletic Bilbao didn’t affect Barca’s chances of claiming the accolade at Monday’s ECA award ceremony in Geneva.

Europa League runners up Dnipro were also rewarded with the Best Sporting Progress award for reaching the final of the second-tier continental competition against all odds and expectations.

The Best Community and Social Responsibility Programme reward went to Arsenal for their efforts in working with the local London community to tackle the growing level of youth employment in the area.

The fourth and final ECA award for 2015, Best Achievement, went to Estonian side Levadia Tallinn for their “Together we move” scheme aimed at improving stadium accessibility for fans who require assistance dogs.

I Was Right To Leave Liverpool For Barcelona, Admits Suarez

The former Reds striker left the club last summer and, after winning four major honours since his arrival at Camp Nou, he is sure that he made the correct choice to move to Spain

Luis Suarez says that winning the treble in his first season at Barcelona more than justified his decision to leave Liverpool last summer.

Suarez made the switch from Anfield to Camp Nou last August and was immediately rewarded with silverware as Barca swept the board last term.

Luis Enrique’s side added the Uefa Super Cup to their bulging trophy cabinet on Tuesday, meaning Suarez has now won four major honours in a little over 12 months at the club – a feat that convinced the Uruguayan a move away from Anfield was definitely the right option.

Speaking to Sport360, Suarez revealed: “It was the right decision [to sign for Barca].”

“Winning trophies was a part of my decision in joining Barcelona, but also as a family we knew it was the right decision even before I won a trophy.

“I am very happy at Barcelona – I am at the best club in the world.

“It couldn’t have gone better, to achieve what we did in my first season was a dream.”

And Suarez is eager to replicate last season’s success.

He added: “If you look at some of the players here they have won trophies season after season, and that is my aim now.

“We enjoyed our moment last season, but now it is about a new challenge.”

Neymar Deserves Uefa Award Over Ronaldo – Luis Enrique

The Barcelona boss argued that the top three places in the Best Player in Europe gong should go to his all-star forward line and talked up the threat posed by Supercopa rivals Athletico madrid


Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique believes that Neymar was more deserving of a place in the top three of the Uefa Best Player in Europe award than Cristiano Ronaldo.

The governing body announced on Wednesday that the Real Madrid star would be on the podium alongside Barca stars Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.

However, the former Celta Vigo boss believes the Brazilian forward would have been a better choice than the Portuguese attacker, following his exploits in Barca’s treble-winning campaign.

“Who decided that Neymar isn’t one of the candidates for the Uefa trophy?” he asked at a press conference.

“I think it should be Neymar, Messi and Suarez, without a doubt.”

Luis Enrique went on to say that he feels his side are the team to beat in Spain and in Europe as he prepares for the first leg of their Supercopa tie against Athletic Bilbao on Friday.

“The pre-season schedule was set up so we can be the best we can be,” he said. “We have to be competitive from the start of the season and still be the team to beat. I would also say the same in Europe.

“The sextuple is a goal we have in mind and one that motivates us but we are focused on is winning the fifth title first – the sixth is still far away.”

Luis Enrique is expecting a tough game against Athletic and feels the Basques could try to man-mark Lionel Messi.

“Both teams know each other well, it [man-marking Messi] may be an option, but there are others,” said the former Camp Nou midfielder.

“They press very well and always make things difficult for their opponents. It will be an uncomfortable match and it will only be resolved over the two games.”

Lionel Messi Dressed ‘Like He Was Going To A Zoo’ – Gabon Political Party

Gabon’s political opposition have accused Lionel Messi of showing a “lack of respect for standards and principles” after the Barcelona star met the African nation’s president wearing denim shorts and a T-shirt.

Messi, 28, jetted into Gabon earlier this week on the first leg of a five-day visit to Africa, and met President Ali Bongo Ondimba in relaxed clothing.

A statement from the Union du Peuple Gabonais (UPG) party read: “The messiah of football arrived in Gabon like he were going to a zoo: dirty, unshaven and his hands in his pockets, looking for peanuts to throw to them!

“When you’re called Lionel Messi and you’re a multi-billionaire, you don’t have the right to present yourself to officials of a republic, even a banana one, with your hands in the pockets of a ripped, tattered pair of shorts.

“Gabon isn’t a zoo. We don’t know what the Argentine came to Gabon for, but we at least have the right to denounce his negligence and his lack of respect for standards and principles. We are uneasy with Messi’s attitude and his attire. Only for these reasons, linked to respect for the host country, do we condemn the footballer’s indelicateness, to say the least!”

Luis Enrique admits he’s not happy about the extent of Barcelona’s travelling as they begin their tour of the United States, although he insists it’s good to visit new places.

President Bongo himself drove Messi through the streets of the Gabonese capital, Libreville, in a jeep before the Argentina international laid the first stone of the stadium at Port-Gentil, which will stage Africa Nations Cup final tournament matches in 2017.

France Football reported that Messi was paid €3.5 million for the visit, which was reportedly organised by Samuel Eto’o, a confidante of President Bongo.

However, that claim was denied by Messi, who — according to El Mundo Deportivo — has asked France Football to rectify the report, and state that he did not receive a single cent for the visit. The Spanish paper said it had independently verified that Messi was not paid.

Dani Alves: Messi Convinced Me To Stay At Barcelona

The Brazilian has revealed that the Argentine argued that the right-back would not be able to find a better club than the Blaugrana, persuading him to sign a new deal

Dani Alves has revealed that Lionel Messi played a key role in his decision to stay at Barcelona.

The Brazil international looked set to leave Camp Nou on a free transfer this summer, with the defender having been upset by the terms and length of the contract extension he was initially offered by the Catalan club.

However, the former Sevilla star agreed a new two-year deal with Barca on Tuesday, with the option of a third season, and the right-back has explained that Messi convinced him to commit his future to the treble-winners.

“Messi said to me: ‘Dani, stay, where you are going to feel better than you do here?'” the Selecao star told reporters on Wednesday.

“Long ago we talked about how well we were living at this club. We have wonderful things in this city, gorgeous weather, and all of this influenced our decisions.

“Messi and I had the same conversation a year ago when it was said someone wanted to sign the two of us and we discussed that we would never have it so good anywhere else.

“As I said at the treble celebration [on Sunday], and as I said many times before, I’m just in the place where I feel loved.

“For a few moments I had doubts but the other day it was very clear that most people here love me and value me, and that was one of the things that made me decide to stay.

“I always follow my heart. My heart was asking me to stay here and I still have many things to offer.

“I have the best group of colleagues, I have never seen a group with such connection and that helped in making the decision.

“A number of positive factors that have led me to make this decision.”

Indeed, Dani Alves revealed that his future had also been linked with that of coach Luis Enrique, who extended his contract with Barca until 2017 on the same day.

“Luis Enrique has been someone who selected me when there were people who doubted about me,” the 32-year-old added.

“At the beginning of the season when I was thinking about staying or going, he said something to me at the end of a game that left a real impression on me

“He said, ‘Dani, stay because we are going to enjoy this year.’

“Luis Enrique has influenced my decision because I like working with people of his nature. I see myself in him.

“I also renewed because Luis Enrique renewed. He has returned this club to the highest level. He has given us the hope and the possibility to get the treble and fight for the sextet!

“I think his renewal is well deserved. Our success has so much to do with him. People doubted him too but he and his staff have put Barca back on top.”

Alves also denied that the protracted and sometimes bitter nature of his contract talks have negatively affected his relationship with Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

“It was not a fight between Dani Alves and the club,” he added. “It was not a question of financial considerations. If it were only a matter of money, I would not still be here.

“I followed my heart and my heart told me that I had to stay at this club.

“I do not have a bad relationship with the president. On the contrary, I have a very good relationship but everyone tries to defend their rights, and it was just a process of negotiation.

“They offered me one thing and I did not want it. I asked one thing and they did not give it to me.

“But at the end we reached a compromise. I now have a two-year contract and will do whatever is needed to continue for a the third year.

“Next year will be better than this one and retiring at Barca is a possibility.”

Messi Isn’t Barcelona’s Only Piece Of Art – Luis Enrique

Luis Enrique says Lionel Messi is not the only “piece of art” in Barcelona‘s ranks after his team tore Bayern Munich apart late on in a 3-0 win in Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg.

Messi unsurprisingly stole the show as he continued his amazing season with a late double before Neymar made it three goals in 13 minutes in injury time.

However, the Argentine’s coach was eager to praise his entire side as they restricted Bayern to just a handful of chances and avoided conceding an away goal.

“Guardiola’s tactics were according to his style, his team and his philosophy,” Enrique said of his former team-mate. “And we played the same as we always do.

“Messi no longer surprises me. He has ambition and hunger, but I would not say Messi is the only piece of art at Barca. The work of the whole team was incredible on top of the fact we didn’t concede any goals.”

The Camp Nou win leaves Barca with one foot in the Champions League final and, though Enrique admits the showing could not have been any better, he is aware there are still 90 minutes for the Bavarians to conjure up a sensational shock.

“We are a little closer to the final now,” the head coach conceded. “It was the perfect result that takes us a little closer to Berlin, but we still have a second leg to navigate.

“I am enormously pleased with everything my players did. We defeated a team of huge ability. Their players barely had a sniff at goal and that’s just as pleasing. It was simply a brilliant result.”

Barcelona have a Liga clash at home to David Moyes’ Real Sociedad – whom they lost to in their first game of 2015 – to look forward to before travelling to face Bayern in next Tuesday’s second leg at the Allianz Arena.

Guardiola: Bayern Were In Control… Then Messi Showed His Class

Lionel Messi‘s class was the difference between Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the German champions’ 3-0 defeat on Wednesday, according to Pep Guardiola.

The Argentine – who shot to worldwide prominence while Guardiola was in charge of Barcelona – put the Bavarians to the sword with a late double which turned the well-balanced Champions League semi-final tie on its head at Camp Nou.

Neymar added insult to injury with a stoppage-time strike, avenging the three-goal triumph secured by Bayern on their last trip to Catalunya in 2013 and leaving the German champions with an almost impossible task in the second leg.

“Bayern did well for a long time,” Guardiola, whose side restricted Barca to their lowest possession in a Champions League game since 2006, told reporters. “But then Messi showed his class. Barca aren’t just him, though – they’re a strong team, with other top individuals like Luis Suarez and Neymar.

“Barca are so good that they find spaces wherever they want to. It’s the talent of their team that left us on the losing end, playing at Camp Nou is so hard.

“However, I think we actually controlled the game until the first Barca goal. We lost our grip after that, though, but I won’t blame any of my players. The team have gone through a lot of difficult situations this season.”

Guardiola was unremittingly bleak when assessing the Bundesliga champions’ chances of reaching the final in Berlin on June 6, adding: “You can turn around a one or two-goal deficit, but three goals is tough.”

Bayern now host Augsburg on Saturday – when they are almost certain to field a second-string side, having already wrapped up the league title last month – before playing host to the Catalans next Tuesday.

The winner of this semi-final will face either Real Madrid or Juventus, with the Italians holding a 2-1 advantage after the first leg on Tuesday in Turin.

Pep Guardiola Was Right – No System Can Stop Messi

Pep Guardiola cannot complain. He had Lionel Messi‘s magic for four formidable seasons at Barcelona.

On Wednesday night, the Catalan coach was on the receiving end of the Argentine’s astonishing abilities for the first time. The monster he helped create chewed up his best-laid plans.

But he won’t have been surprised. In the build-up to this tie, Guardiola said: “When he plays like this, there is no defence that can stop him. It’s impossible. He is used to players defending against him any way they can and he always ends up enjoying success. He is too good.”

He could very well say the same after the game. As usual, Messi was too good. At this level, games are decided by the very best – and Messi is just that. “There is no player more complete than Leo,” Guardiola once said. “He is the best at everything.”

During his time at Camp Nou, Guardiola always admitted his side would be a shadow of themselves without the Argentine among their ranks. “We would be a very good team and we would be competitive,” he stressed. “But we wouldn’t have won all that we have.”

Too true. Guardiola won 14 out of 19 titles at Barca – including six out of six in his first year. Meanwhile, Guardiola’s great work at Bayern has seen back-to-back Bundesliga championships claimed with relative ease, yet the Catalan coach was expected to turn the Bavarians into Europe’s elite team – which they were before his arrival as they won the treble and brutally beat an out-of-sorts Barca en route to the Champions League crown.

Now, that dream lies in tatters – and it’s all because of Messi.

The 27-year-old was well marked for much of the game, but as his rivals tired, he pulled the trigger: first, he lashed home a thunderous drive from the edge of the box that not even the brilliant Manuel Neuer could save; then he ran into the box and beat the Germany goalkeeper with an exquisite chip from a tight angle for his second. It was unstoppable – just as Guardiola had said.

Neymar’s late third means this tie is now all but over. In the end, it has not been settled – or so it seems at least – by tactical nous, but by Messi’s magic.

Guardiola benefitted so often from such fantasy football at Barca, like in the 2009 and 2011 Champions League triumphs, the semi-final success against Real Madrid en route to the latter and many, many more. This time, however, he has to grin and bear it.

And on the night of his return to Camp Nou, Guardiola’s words proved prescient. Just as Guardiola had said, nothing and nobody can stop the Argentine on this form – and there is no shame in that.

Bayern are brilliant, their coach remains the world’s finest and their tactical plan frustrated Barca for much of the match, but in the end, Messi was just too good.

Culled from www.goal.com

Cristiano Ronaldo Named World’s Richest Footballer

Goal.com has named Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo as the wealthiest footballer in the world with a personal fortune of £152m, about £7m more than his rival, Lionel Messi (£145m). Neymar, comes third in the list with a fortune of £97.9m.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Paris Saint-Germain and Sweden is worth £76.1m, while Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney is the highest-ranked Englishman on the list in fifth on £74.6m.

Brazilian star Kaka who just signed to MLS club Orlando City, is sixth in the rankings on £69.6m, followed by Samuel Eto’o (£63.1m), Raul (£61.6m) and Ronaldinho (£60.2m).

Former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard is in tenth with a personal fortune of £58m.

‘Messi Had Too Many Pizzas Last Season’ – Carles Rexach

After Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic fired their side to a 3-0 victory over Granada on Saturday, former Barcelona star Carles Rexach has hit out at Messi, claiming that the Argentine ate “too many pizzas last season”.

The 2013-14 campaign was an underwhelming one for the Argentine as he tallied his lowest number of goals since 2008-09 and Barca finished the campaign without a major trophy.

Rexach, who played for the Blaugrana from 1967-1981 and later coached the club, believes the attacker gained weight last year because he was eating too many pizzas.

“Before he would eat at the club and then rest afterwards, but it seems to me that last year Messi ate more pizzas than he wanted or needed,” Rexach told Regio7.

I Regret Voting Ronaldo For Ballon d’Or Award – Lewandowski

Bayern Munich attacker Robert Lewandowski has rued his decision to pick Cristiano Ronaldo in the Fifa Ballon d’Or vote ahead of Manuel Neuer.

The Poland skipper gave the Real Madrid star five points ahead of his Bayern team-mates Neuer and Bastian Schweinsteiger, but he now feels the Germany goalkeeper would have been a better choice in hindsight.

Neuer eventually ended third in the running for the prize with 15.72 per cent of the votes, just 0.04 per cent behind Lionel Messi, while 37.66 per cent picked Ronaldo.

“Voting for Ronaldo instead of Neuer was a mistake,” Lewandowski was quoted as saying by Welt.

“I would clearly vote for Neuer now if I had the chance. But I already cast my vote back in August or something. I would vote differently now.

“I am sorry for Manu. I am really surprised that he did not even come in second and the big gap to Ronaldo also baffles me. Manuel is an amazing goalkeeper and person.”

Neuer was one of four Bayern Munich players to make the top 10, with Arjen Robben (fourth), Thomas Muller (fifth), Philipp Lahm (sixth) all earning a spot among the world’s best, too.

Messi Admits he Could Leave Barcelona

Lionel Messi saw arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo beat him to the Ballon d’Or in Zurich on Monday and then reignited speculation over his own future by saying: “I don’t know where I’ll be next year.”

Barcelona and Argentina superstar Messi appeared to row back on his own comments made 24 hours earlier that rumours that he could leave the Camp Nou for Chelsea or Manchester City were “all lies”.

“I always said that I would finish my career at Barcelona and then at (his home town club in Argentina) Newell’s,” Messi told reporters after Real Madrid’s Portuguese icon Ronaldo lifted the world footballer of the year title for the second year in succession at a glittering FIFA awards ceremony.

“But I don’t know where I’ll be next year.

“As Cristiano (Ronaldo) said recently, football has many twists and anything can happen,” added the Barca talisman, who himself won the Ballon d’Or four years in a row from 2009.

After a superb performance in Barcelona’s 3-1 win over Spanish champions Atletico Madrid on Sunday, Messi had angrily dismissed talk that he wanted to leave after clashing with Barca’s manager Luis Enrique and the club’s board.

“I have never demanded anything to ensure that I stay because I never had any intention of leaving,” he told Barca TV after the match.

Messi’s relationship with Enrique had come under scrutiny after the forward was benched for the 1-0 defeat at Real Sociedad a week earlier. The rumours grew after Messi missed the first training session after that match, citing a stomach bug.

“I have heard it said that my dad has spoken to Chelsea or Manchester City. It is all lies. I have taken this chance to deny it so that everyone knows the truth,” Messi said Sunday.

But his latest comments are sure to regenerate interest from a number of cash-rich English Premier League clubs.

Manchester United are reportedly one of the few that could afford the buyout fee from his contract, reportedly set at 250 million euros (195 million pounds, $296 million), without falling foul of UEFA’s financial fair play rules.

With Messi commanding a reported salary in the region of 20 million euros a year the total cost of acquiring his services on a five-year deal could be a world record-shattering 350 million euros.

Credit: Yahoo Sports

Barcelona To Snub Ballon d’Or Ceremony As Bartomeu Cuts Fifa Ties

Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu has announced that he will boycott the Ballon d’Or ceremony as part of a severing of ties with Fifa.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has upheld Fifa’s decision to ban Barca from making any signings in the next two transfer windows (starting this January) for irregularities over bringing youngsters into academy, La Masia.

As a result, the Blaugrana are giving world football’s governing body the cold shoulder and Bartomeu, who remains convinced that the decision will be overturned, says that he will not attend the event in Zurich despite Lionel Messi’s nomination for the top prize.

“Fifa has not told us who made the original charge and during the period of the sanction we will not maintain any institutional relations with them,” Bartomeu said at a press conference.

“I have sent a stern letter to Sepp Blatter and I will not be attending the Fifa Ballon d’Or gala set for January 12.

“This is not the end of the matter. I foresee the Barca case becoming a watershed in the football world, just like the Bosman case. However long it lasts, we will not lose this case.”

While Messi is among the final three nominees for the 2014 Ballon d’Or, a number of Barcelona stars are candidates to be named in the Fifa FIFPro World XI for their performances in the past year.

Claudio Bravo, Jordi Alba, Dani Alves, Javier Mascherano, Gerard Pique, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Luis Suarez, Neymar and Messi are all on the final shortlist.

Finding the Truth in the Lionel Messi Follows Chelsea on Instagram Mystery

On Monday,  Lionel Messi started following Chelsea. And then the soccer world went berserk.

The context of this impossibly minor 21st-century occurrence – Man Follows Something on Social Media! – does indeed add some levity. Although Messi is a one-club man – unless you count his exploits with Newell’s Old Boys back in Argentina before he hit puberty – Messi is said to be unhappy in Catalonia. How anybody would actually know this is unclear since Messi never ever speaks to anyone about anything. (He was so shy when he arrived in Spain that his teammates thought he was a mute for several months.)

But things are not well at Barcelona. New manager Luis Enrique has introduced a new, more direct style – getting further away from the tiki-taka, HORROR OF HORRORS – which doesn’t seem to suit Messi as well. On Sunday, Barca lost its third game of the league season at Real Sociedad. Messi sat for the first half. On Monday, he skipped practice with something written off as stomach trouble of some kind kind. Funnily enough, club stalwart Xavi had said only a few days prior that gastroenteritis is typically an excuse for some other issue.

Now consider that last November, the avid 27-year-old collector of ancient goal-scoring records had said that he wasn’t sure if he’d finish out his career with Barcelona. He was apparently angry about its handling of his tax fraud case and that new arrival Neymar was rumored to be making about the same amount of money as he was.

Nevertheless, this appears to he just another calculated ploy by Messi’s conniving camp. The tiny maestro has strong-armed the club into extending – and upgrading – his contract in each of the last two seasons, even though his original deal still ran until 2016. With his latest deal signed last May, he is now under contract until 2019, with a buyout clause of some $300 million – about 2½ times the world record fee paid by Real for Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

Consider also that Messi is literally and figuratively irreplaceable for Barca. Figuratively, because he is Messi. Literally, because the club is banned from buying new players until 2016 for wrongdoings in recruiting underage players like, erm, Messi.

This, then, is probably a play of some sort by Messi’s people, trying to get something done that we might never find out about. Maybe he wanted a better parking spot. Or that corner office.

Besides, you don’t think the hermit-like Messi actually handles his own Instragram account, do you?

Credit: Yahoo News

The Banalities Of Attacking Football; Defending Is A Greater Nub Of The Game

Football is a game of goals–a hackneyed statement with bifurcated interpretations. While a group contends that what is more important in football is scoring goals, the other maintains that defending goals is more important, hence the attacking school of thought and the defending school of thought, respectively. A tangency of the two schools however, is that the other aspect is also important but with relatively less weight.
‘’A team will not lose a match as long as it does not concede a goal; the worst result can only be a draw.’’ This is the philosophy that underpins the tactical substance of the defensive school of thought. This stance reveals that it is not enough for victory that a team scores goals but with an unconvincing rearguard, because cases abound to show that such teams are likelier to lose a match than a team with defensive solidity that does not concede a goal in the match. A combination of a good day for an attack and a bad day for a defense is likelier to result in a defeat than a combination of a good day for a defense and a bad day for an attack; the worst in the latter case is a draw! A team may not necessarily have to win every game, thus, the assertion that ‘’football is about winning’’ is not absolutely correct because the reality is that a team may not win every game, especially in a league competition. A more accurate assertion should be ‘football is about not losing.’ After all, the famous Arsenal “Invincibles” did not win every single game in the 2003/04 season; they were invincible because they did not lose any match!
There is hardly a gainsaying that an attack that gives a 2, 3, 4 goal advantage in a match may be adjudged to have delivered on its mandate; unfortunately however, this advantage is not enough to seal a victory. Incidentally, the greater onus of ensuring victory from a game lies on the defense. It has a more decisive duty of protecting the advantage by preventing goals, failure of which may mean a squander of such advantage.
To substantiate the above illustration where huge advantages evaporated into thin air owing to defensive frailties, the following cases come handy: Newcastle vs Arsenal (9th of Feb, 2011), Germany vs Sweden (16th of October, 2012), Arsenal vs Liverpool (30th of Jan, 2013), Everton vs Liverpool (28th of October, 2012),to mention but a few. On the other hand, an uncharacteristic ten-man Arsenal defensive solidity against a threatening Sunderland side on the 9th of February, 2013, to seal a hard fought victory goes to accentuate the significance of a strong defense in ensuring an eventual winner.
A quite different scenario which also reinforces the greater essence of defending is the last season first-leg Champions league match between Arsenal and B. Munich at the Emirates. At half time, the visitors were leading by two goals but the Gunners pulled one back in the early part of the second half and followed it with heavier attacking pressure on the Bayern’s defense but the Germans understood the superiority of the defensive philosophy, they were able to effectively contain the threats that came their way. On the other hand, Arsenal gave their ‘all’ to the attacking advances but haplessly compromised their defensive discipline. The implication of which was a Bayern’s sloppy third goal which effectively attenuated Arsenal’s earlier attacking threats.
The point worthy of note here is that, no matter the hunger for goals in a football match, defensive discipline and solidity remains effectively more important otherwise a flash of defensive frailty may cost a leading team its victory or turn a once sharp and threatening side into a psychologically weak and blunt team due to unnecessary concession of goals.
Another recent example which practically demonstrates the superiority of a defensive philosophy was the Champions league match between A.C. Milan and Barcelona, at the San siro. The Catalans are famous for their sharp attacking spears while the Rosonerri went into the game with a defensive game plan: try as much as possible not to concede a goal. As long as A.C. Milan kept preventing Barcelona from scoring, they knew they always had a chance—the worst for them would have been a draw and not a defeat! However, two of the rare occasions when A.C. Milan threatened the Barcelona defense led to goals. The Rosonerri capitalized on the frailties of the Catalan’s defense, situations that saw the Barcelona defense scampering like a ‘mertersacker’! The bugaboo of failing to score an away goal, magnified by the inordinacy of attacking football, turned them into an effigy of the old Barcelona.
Arsenal, a miniature of Barcelona, is equally known for attacking sharpness. One may not have to worry about their ability to score goals but what is rather often likely is that they could score three goals but concede four goals, and end up losing the match. A perennial albatross of the Arsenal team in recent years is poor defending, which has effectively made them mere ‘participants’ and not competitors/challengers in every league. Arsenal’s case is a major corroboration to the philosophy that defending is more important than attacking in a football match afterall.
In the modern climate, defending is not necessarily the sole responsibility of the ‘back four’, it is a duty of the whole team but ultimately rests on the ‘back four’. Ipso facto, ‘’…the best form of defense is to attack…’’ is an incorrect statement; a correctly modified assertion would be ‘’…the best form of defense begins from the attack…’’ (i.e.,’’…close them down, high up the field…’’). The difference between the two assertions is that the former talks about what to do when a team has the ball, while the latter talks about what to do when a team is not in possession of the ball. The defensive contribution of the likes of Van Persie, Messi, Silva, Rooney, Wilshere, Ronaldo, Suarez, etc., when their teams are chasing the ball is of great importance. The overall performance of Di Maria in Real Madrid’s emphatic win over an often soporific Barcelona, in last season’s 2nd leg Copa del rey Semifinal at Camp Nou, is emblematic of the point being made here.
For the avoidance of doubt, the defensive philosophy does not necessarily depreciate the idea of scoring goals. Infact, it considers it to be a very strong condition for winning a match.
Jose Mourinho, who incidentally seems to be a juggernaut of defensive philosophy, has led his club(s) to win its domestic league seven times, the UEFA Champions league twice, and the UEFA Cup once; between 2002 and 2013, he had not gone through a full season without winning at least one trophy. He obviously did not achieve all of these, in ten seasons of club management, without scoring goals. As a matter of fact, he is widely known as a man of immediate impact in a strange environment!
Mourinho has been heavily criticized by those who label his philosophy as ‘negative football’ but while he has remained impervious to such criticisms, he has often described his critics as a people who do not understand football. It is my view that Jose Mourinho is a manager with a lot of cards who astutely knows how and when to play each of his cards. This explains why he has been described by many pundits and aficionados, as one of the greatest tacticians of the game.
Besides, the fact that his former side—Real Madrid—arguably had the deadliest attacking force in club football in the present climate, effectively defeats the arguments of his critics. Such negative football-tagged criticism against a ‘Special One’ who led Real Madrid to a record of 121 goals scored in the 2011-12 season, can only be described as utterly shitty and uncharitable. His current Chelsea side are currently reinforcing the primacy of defending as they grind out 3-points from each match even if it were by a one-goal victory.
For such critics who ignorantly sing the song of a phantom ‘entertaining football’, they are advised to quickly take a membership card at the Emirates and endlessly savour their barren ‘entertaining football’ or betterstill, shift their fanship to Hollywood. The champion is the team that lifts the trophy at the end of the season, and that is the chief justification for the millions of pounds that travel the financial accounts trajectory of the transfer markets. Beat me in my own game is the message to the champions!
There is no such thing as universally acceptable style of football. What is acceptable is what is suitable, and suitability is best defined in the context of individual matches. It takes only tactically clever managers to know this!
Finally, the superiority of a defensive philosophy also reveals the myopia of the Ballon d’or award. It has become a rather disturbing reality that the Ballon d’or has been reduced to the Golden Boot award. It has sadly been restricted to the highest goal scorer and no longer the best player, and that explains the long, boring, and monotonous arguments about Messi versus Ronaldo. Sadly, these arguments are often loaded with the number of goals each of them has scored, and that edges one over the other. Goals now seem to be the principal criterion for the Ballon d’or, and sadly so. Ballon d’or is supposed to be an award for the best player, the most consistent player, and not necessarily the highest goal scorer! What happened to the midfielders, the defenders, and even the goalkeepers? What happened to Wesley Sneijder in 2006? It is still unfathomable why Andres Iniesta has not won the accolade. It is obvious that the doyens of the Ballon d’or are in dire need of the 2006 periscope!

Adesanya Segun
@omoluwabidada (Twitter)

Ronaldo On Track To Beat Messi’s Record Of 73 goals In A Season

Real Madrid‘s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona‘s Lionel Messi continue to exchange heavyweight blows in their relentless pursuit of records.

During a remarkable spell in November, the Argentine scored successive trebles to become the all-time top scorer in both La Liga and the Champions League, beating his great rival to Raul’s mark in the process.

Last weekend, both hit incredible domestic milestones. On Sunday, Messi became the first player to reach 400 goals in La Liga with a hat-trick in the derby against Espanyol. Less than 24 hours earlier, Ronaldo had scored a treble of his own to bring up a personal tally of 200 in Spain’s top flight.

While the former Manchester United man might trail the South American in Primera Division strikes, he has established himself as the favourite to win the 2014 Ballon d’Or thanks to a remarkable domestic scoring streak.

In his 13 league appearances this season, Ronaldo has been shut out only by Malaga. While this in itself is a staggering statistic, the sheer weight of goals from the 29-year-old is even more astounding. He has 23 to his credit at a rate of close to two a game.

Throw in four more goals in the Champions League and another two from the Uefa Super Cup, and Ronaldo is on course to break Messi’s record of 73 club goals in a single season.

When that was achieved by the Argentine in 2011-12, it was a total that seemed impossible to reach. Although the Portuguese has played 21 times already this season, there are still potentially a further 40 games in which he could feature, should Madrid go all the way in the Copa del Rey, Champions League and Club World Cup.

Ronaldo’s current strike-rate equates to 1.38 goals a game. If he was to maintain that standard for the duration of a 61-match campaign, he would finish 2014-15 with 84 club goals.

“Ronaldo is doing very well at that moment, he is extraordinarily motivated and physically he is at his peak,” coach Carlo Ancelotti said of his star man at the weekend.

Of course, it is impossible for even a player of Ronaldo’s standard to remain in prime condition over the course of an entire season – and there is also the possibility of injury, too.

The Portuguese has given himself a healthy margin for error, however, as he chases down perhaps the most remarkable record in the modern game.  

Source – goal.com

Breaking: Messi To Face Trial Over Tax Evasion Claim

Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi is to face court trial for alleged tax evasion, a Spanish judge has ruled.

The judge rejected a prosecution recommendation to drop the charges on the grounds the player’s father was responsible for his finances.

Messi and his father Jorge are accused of defrauding the authorities of more than 4m euros (£3.1m; $5m).

The pair, who deny wrongdoing, have five days to appeal against the ruling.

It is alleged that they withheld the money between 2007 and 2009.

The income related to Messi’s image rights, including contracts with Banco Sabadell, Danone, Adidas, Pepsi-Cola, Proctor and Gamble, and the Kuwait Food Company.

The judge ruled: “In this type of crime, it is not necessary for someone to have complete knowledge of all the accounting and business operations nor the exact quantity, rather it is sufficient to be aware of the designs to commit fraud and consent to them.”

Messi Suffers Hip Injury

Barcelona maintained their 100 per cent start to the season on Sunday, but their win over Villarreal could come at a price.

The Blaugrana beat the Yellow Submarine at El Madrigal yesterday thanks to a goal from young forward Sandro.

But after the match, Luis Enrique’s men revealed that Lionel Messi had pulled an abductor muscle in his right hip.

The Argentina international played the full 90 minutes, but will undergo tests today, with the extent of the injury likely to be learned on Tuesday.

The former Ballon d’Or winner endured a torrid time with knocks during the last campaign, and Barca will be hoping this is just a scare.

There was also bad news for Munir El-Haddadi, who bruised his right thigh. He also, will see medical specialists today .

we should remember messi had a nigglng injury for the better part of last season that almost hampered his progress and his teams success.