‘Return Of A Legend’ – Koeman Officially Named New Barcelona Coach

In this file photo taken on October 13, 2019 Netherlands' coach Ronald Koeman looks on prior to the Euro 2020 football qualification match between Belarus and the Netherlands in Minsk. Sergei GAPON / AFP
In this file photo taken on October 13, 2019 Netherlands’ coach Ronald Koeman looks on prior to the Euro 2020 football qualification match between Belarus and the Netherlands in Minsk. Sergei GAPON / AFP


Crisis-hit Barcelona hailed the “return of a legend” as the Spanish giants on Wednesday officially named Ronald Koeman as their new coach through until 2022.

“FC Barcelona and Ronald Koeman have reached an agreement for the Dutchman to take over as first team coach until 30 June 2022,” the club said in a statement.

Former Barca star Koeman, who has been in charge of the Netherlands since 2018, will replace Quique Setien, who was sacked after the Catalans were humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals on Friday.

The 57-year-old, who becomes the fifth Dutchman to coach Barcelona after Rinus Michels, Johan Cruyff, Louis Van Gaal and Frank Rijkaard, will hold a press conference later Wednesday at 1600 GMT.

“More than 30 years after his arrival as a player, Koeman arrives once again as coach at the club that he helped win their very first European Cup back in 1992,” Barcelona said in a statement headlined “Return of a Barca legend”.

“Koeman, the hero of Wembley, is back,” the club added, a day after president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed the Dutchman would take over.

That night back in 1992, Koeman secured his place in Barca history, scoring the winning goal to claim the Catalan club’s first ever success in Europe’s top club competition.

As a player, Koeman arrived in Barcelona in 1989, at the time the second most expensive signing in the club’s history behind Diego Maradona.

In his six seasons as a Barca player Koeman made 264 official appearances, scoring 88 goals as he shone in Cruyff’s ‘Dream Team’, winning four consecutive La Liga titles between 1991-94.

– Mixed coaching bag –

Koeman’s coaching career, however, has been mixed and he arrives with the Catalans in crisis.

Setien was fired on Monday after the embarrassment against Bayern which meant Barca finish the season trophy-less for the first time since 2007.

Earlier on Tuesday sporting director Eric Abidal was axed, paying the price for the Bayern trouncing and internal conflict that took place during a league season that saw them surrender the La Liga title to Real Madrid.

Ex-France international Abidal was replaced Wednesday by Ramon Planes.

Koeman will leave his role as coach of the Netherlands to his assistant Dwight Lodeweges, while the national federation searches for a full-time replacement.

The Oranje take on Poland on September 4 and Italy three days later, in Amsterdam as part of the UEFA Nations League.

“It was an honour to be the national coach of the Netherlands,” said Koeman, who would have been in charge for the 2020 European championships, now postponed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“For the past two-and-a-half years I have done everything I can to achieve successes with the Oranje.

“I look back with pride on what we have achieved together in that period. The Dutch national team has a bright future, I am convinced of that.”

Koeman said that “everyone knows Barcelona is my dream club”.

“It feels very special to me to be able to become a manager there.”


FC Barcelona Adds 1XBET As A New Global Partner

Online betting company and Barça sign sponsorship agreement for the next five seasons, through to 30 June 2024.

FC Barcelona and 1xBet have signed a new sponsorship deal whereby the online betting company will become a new Global Partner of the Club for the next five seasons, through to 30 June 2024.

The agreement, which comes into effect on July 1, forms part of the Club’s global expansion strategy, and also relates to its mission to source the best possible partners in different categories to help it to maintain its leading position not just on the field of play but also in terms of sports sponsorship and marketing.

As a result of this agreement, FC Barcelona and 1xBet will be working together in different activations from a wide range of assets, including access the players to create promotional material and marketing campaigns.

1xBet is a leading international gaming and technology company with more than 12 years of experience in the field, and offices in Europe, Asia and Latin America. The company has sponsorship deals in place with major rights holders including Serie A, Tottenham Hotspur and LaLiga Media Partner, to name a few.


Statement by Josep Pont, member of the FC Barcelona board and head of its Commercial Area 

 “We are convinced that this deal with 1xBet will help us to continue to grow both on and off the field. This deal consolidates our global expansion strategy and we are sure that it will help us to connect with new sports fans all around the world”.


Statement by Alex Sommers, spokesman of 1xBet

“We are very pleased to reach an agreement with one of the best clubs in the world. We are certain that 1xBet has something to offer to all FC Barcelona fans. We expect that the cooperation of two world-class brands will be lucrative for both parties. Barcelona’s slogan is “More than a club” and we hope that over the next 5 years, the fans will come to realize that 1xBet is more than a bookmaker”.


About 1xBet

1xBet is a leading international gaming and technology company with more than 12 years of experience in the field. It is one of the most rapidly developing companies in the betting industry, with offices in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, employing over 5,000 professionals.

1xBet boasts the largest number of markets in pre-match and live odds while also delivering a vibrant portfolio of online slots, live casino and table games, offering players the widest choice of entertainment. A digital first business, 1xBet accepts more than 250 payment solutions from all over the world and offers around the clock customer support in 30 languages.


Enrique To Leave Barca By End Of Season

luis-enriqueThe FC Barcelona Coach, Luis Enrique, has confirmed that he would leave the Spanish La Liga champions at end of the season when his contract expires.

Enrique made the announcement at a news conference after Barcelona thrashed Sporting Gijon 6-1 at the Nou Camp, to keep up their bid for a third league title under the management of their former midfielder.

Barcelona won the treble in their first season under Enrique after he replaced Gerardo Martino in 2014 and followed it up with a double last season.

However, performances as much as results this season have led to increased speculation over his future.

FCBarcelona Officially Lauches Soccer Academy In Lagos

FC Barcelona Officially Lauches Soccer Academy In LagosThe officials of FC Barcelona have lunched FCBEscola Soccer Academy in Lagos state, Nigeria.

The academy officially opened in the presence of FC Barcelona Director, Pau Vilanova and the Project Director of the FCBEscola, Franc Carbó.

The school which has been active since September 2016, is expected to enroll boys and girls between the ages 6 and 18.

It is the first of its kind in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa and would provide opportunities for potential footballers from all over the country as well as other parts of Africa, to receive first class training.

They would also receive training in English, Spanish, French and other Modern European languages, as well as General and Applied Mathematics, Humanities and Social Sciences, Creative, Technical and Vocational studies.

FCBEscola Lagos is modelled on FC Barcelona’s own youth system and students will be taught by the club’s coaches using its football methodology.

Siasia Invites More Players To U-23 Team Camp

siasiaThe Head Coach of Nigeria’s Under-23 football team, Samson Siasia, has added FC Barcelona Team B defender, Godwin Ekpolo and Glasgow Rangers’s Nathan Oduwa to his 51-man list in preparation for the Africa U-23 Championship taking place in Senegal.

Coach Siasia explained he was inviting both players to come and fight for jerseys in the team, as he intended to build a strong team that would do the nation proud, not only in Senegal, but at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Meanwhile, Coach Siasia has contacted all clubs in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), requesting for the release of their players for League games, to send their request to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), as he had no power to release any player.

The Coach insisted that no player would be released from the camp, and that aside those in the Home-Based Eagles team, all other players must report to Monday’s training session in Abuja.

Barcelona Are La Liga Champions

BarcelonaLionel Messi scored as Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid 1-0 to regain the La Liga title with a game to spare.

Barcelona went into the game looking for a win at Atlético Madrid, or a better result than Real Madrid who were away to Espanyol.

Real Madrid beat Espanyol but Barca’s win at Vicente Calderon means they go into next weekend’s final round with an unassailable four-point lead at the top of La Liga.

Messi scored the crucial goal just past the hour mark to render Madrid’s 4-1 away win and Christiano Ronaldo’s hat trick useless, although he could at least beat Messi to the top of Spain’s scoring charts.

It was Messi’s 41st league goal of the season, Barcelona’s 13th win in 14 La Liga matches and sees the club win their 23rd Spanish title.

FC Barcelona are on course to win the treble this season and the first of those three titles have been secured.

FC Barcelona progressed to the final of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) despite losing to German Champions-elect, Bayern Munich on Tuesday night.

Italian giants, Juventus, await them in the UEFA Champions League final on June 6 after defeating Real Madrid 3-2 on aggregate at the semi-final stage of the European football elite club competition.

Barcelona also play Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final on May 30.

Sergio Busquets has urged his team mates to go for the remaining two titles. Speaking after the victory at Vicente Calderon, he said “It (La Liga) is the most important, it’s all year, you play everyone home and away. The Champions League is the most prestigious but this is more important.

“You can’t win every year. The cycle isn’t over. We’re a very young team. There’s a lot of players here from the Pep era. Now we have one trophy, we’re missing two and there are two games. It’s an historic season.”

Barcelona Cruise To UCL Final Despite Bayern’s Victory

BarcelonaFC Barcelona have progressed to the final of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) despite losing to German Champions-elect, Bayern Munich on Tuesday night.

The Catalans reached their first UCL final since 2011, despite Pep Guardiola’s team salvaging their pride in the return leg in Germany.

The German Champions revived their hopes through Medhi Benatia’s early downward header, after losing 3-0 to Barcelona at the Camp Nou last Wednesday.

The Spanish side levelled the score when Luis Suarez squared for a tap-in from Neymar, who drilled a second later in after the pair combined again.

Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller both curled in as Bayern won 3-2, but Barca still progressed 5-3 on aggregate after both legs.

However, cross town rivals, Real Madrid, must overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit against Italian champions-elect, Juventus, at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, to defend the European championship title against Barca.

Real Madrid To Take Legal Action On Players’ Car Attacks

Real MadridReal Madrid has said they will take legal action against any fans found to have attacked players’ cars, including that of Wales international, Gareth Bale.

The club, in a statement on Monday, said that they would take any applicable legal action against the individuals responsible for the attack.

Real Madrid noted that one club member had been suspended pending an investigation.

The club added it had already identified the individuals responsible for what it called “aggressive and violent actions against several of our players”.

Real Madrid players Gareth Bale and Jesé Rodríguez were allegedly attacked by their own fans outside the club’s training base, following their 2-1 El Classico defeat to FC Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Sunday.

After the team arrived back in Madrid on Sunday night, two fans repeatedly struck the cars of the two forwards as they refused to stop their cars to speak to them outside the Valdebebas training complex, according to images captured by Spanish television channel, Cuatro.

After looking threatening in the first half, in which he scored a correctly-disallowed goal, Bale was largely anonymous after the break, touching the ball just 16 times, including a shot that he dragged badly wide.

Jesé came on as a substitute in the 80th minute and was unable to help Madrid score a late equaliser.

Shortly after the fans vented their anger at Bale and Jesé, Sergio Ramos confronted the supporters asking “What’s the matter? Do you think that’s the right attitude?” The Spanish also commented that Real Madrid’s players had “left everything on the pitch”.

The defeat has left Real Madrid four points behind FC Barcelona at the top of La Liga with just ten league games left.

Cristiano Ronaldo Sets New All-Time UEFA Scoring Record

Christiano RonaldoCristiano Ronaldo has set a new all-time record goal total in UEFA club competition with his 77th and 78th strikes on Tuesday.

Ronaldo headed in Real Madrid CF’s 25th-minute equaliser against FC Schalke 04 in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg to draw level with Raúl González, who had topped the pile since surpassing Filippo Inzaghi in October 2010.

Ronaldo then added his second of the night – another equaliser – on the stroke of half-time to make it eight goals for the current campaign and eclipse the Spaniard.

It was also his 75th strike in the UEFA Champions League, group stage to final, taking him level with Lionel Messi as the elite competition’s joint-top scorer.

The last of former Madrid ace Raúl’s European goals came for Schalke in the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.

UEFA club competition top scorers

78: Cristiano Ronaldo (Sporting Clube de Portugal, Manchester United FC, Real Madrid CF)

77: Raúl González (Real Madrid, FC Schalke 04)

76: Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

70: Filippo Inzaghi (Parma FC, Juventus, AC Milan)

67: Andriy Shevchenko (FC Dynamo Kyiv, AC Milan, Chelsea FC)

62: Gerd Müller (FC Bayern München)

62: Ruud van Nistelrooy (sc Heerenveen, PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United FC, Real Madrid CF, Hamburger SV)

59: Thierry Henry (AS Monaco FC, Arsenal FC, FC Barcelona)

59: Henrik Larsson (Feyenoord, Celtic FC, FC Barcelona, Helsingborgs IF)

56: Eusébio (SL Benfica)

UEFA Champions League top scorers (group stage to final)

75 Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

75 Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United FC/Real Madrid CF)

71 Raúl González (Real Madrid CF/FC Schalke 04)

56 Ruud van Nistelrooy (PSV Eindhoven/Manchester United FC/Real Madrid CF)

50 Thierry Henry (AS Monaco FC/Arsenal FC/FC Barcelona)

Fernando Torres Tops UEFA’s Best January Signings Poll

Fernando TorresAtletico Madrid striker, Fernando Torres has been considered by fans as the best January transfer signing by clubs in a poll conducted by Europe’s football governing body UEFA on their website.

UEFA.com finished transfer deadline day by asking more than 50 million social media followers to name who they thought had been the best signings of the winter window.

Fans of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League on Facebook, as well as followers of @ChampionsLeague and @EuropaLeague, were invited to make their suggestions using #WinterTransferTop5.

UEFA said that 50 million fans voted before the results were released on Wednesday.

The former Chelsea target-man beat close competitions from Ivorian strikers Wilfried Bony and Seydou Doumbia, who placed 2nd and 3rd. They both joined Manchester City and AS Roma.

Xherdan Shaqiri of Switzerland and Germany’s André Schurrle, made the last two of January’s top five signings according to the fans. They joined Inter Milan and VfL Wolfsburg respectively.

Torres, 30, left the boyhood club Atletico for English club Liverpool seven and a half years earlier and later joined Chelsea.

Torres has thus far scored three goals for Atletico since his return with two against cross-city rivals, Real Madrid and one against FC Barcelona.

Barcelona Not Allowed To Sign Any Players In 2015

_69851648_messi_getty1Barcelona will not be allowed to sign any players in 2015 after their appeal against a transfer ban was dismissed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said that  its appeals panel found no grounds to overturn a FIFA sanction preventing Barcelona from registering any new players for the period of two transfer windows.

The Spanish club was handed a 14-month ban in April after being found guilty of breaching FIFA’s rules on the transfer of players aged under 18.

FIFA rejected an appeal in August but the pending appeal to CAS allowed Barca to sign players including Luis Suarez.

A Barcelona statement added: “The errors that the club might have committed, and which have been recognised and argued before the corresponding authorities, are, in all cases, of an administrative nature and to a large extent have been caused by the existing conflict between the FIFA regulations and Spanish legislation, along with the club’s conviction that it was acting correctly.

“Therefore, FC Barcelona considers the sanction to be completely disproportionate as it supposes an excessive punishment for the club, when considering its trajectory and the circumstances of this specific case.”

Barcelona must also pay a fine of 300,000 pounds while the verdict has been published by CAS without written reasons, due to the need to reach a decision before the start of the January transfer window.

Barcelona went on a summer spending spree this year while the suspension went on hold during the appeals process, splashing out more than 150m euros (£117.5m) on Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Thomas Vermaelen, Claudio Bravo, Jeremy Mathieu and Alen Halilovic.

FC Barcelona To Present Ivan Rakitic On July 1

Ivan_RakitićIvan Rakitic will officially become an FC Barcelona player in the coming week.

Since Croatia are out of the World Cup in Brazil, the midfielder is free to travel to Barcelona and finalise the arrangements with his new club.

According to information on the Barcelona FC website, Rakitic would be posing for the traditional picture outside the club offices on Monday at 6.00 PM CET.

The day after, Tuesday, he will be taking routine medical tests at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper. Then at 11.15 AM CET, he’ll sign his new contract in the Camp Nou presidential lounge, and at around noon he’ll be appearing on the pitch in his new kit.

The final stop will be the Ricard Maxenchs pressroom, where he is due to give a press conference at 12.45 PM CET, which will be broadcast live on Barça TV as well as being streamed on the FC Barcelona website with an English translation.

It was officially announced on Monday 16 June that Croatian international Ivan Rakitic would be joining FC Barcelona for the next five seasons.

Ivan Rakitić (born 10 March 1988) is a Croatian footballer who, until his transfer, played for Spanish club Sevilla, as a central or attacking midfielder.

Rakitić started his professional career at FC Basel and spent two seasons with them before he was signed by Schalke 04. After spending three and a half seasons in the German Bundesliga, he was signed by Sevilla in January 2011. Two years later, Rakitić was confirmed as the club captain and captained the team to UEFA Europa League triumph.

On the international level, Rakitić plays for the Croatia national team. Although naturally a product of Switzerland’s youth level, Rakitić pledged his international career to his native parentage of Croatia instead. He made his debut for Croatia in 2007 and has since represented the country at UEFA Euro 2008 and UEFA Euro 2012.