Quarterfinal streak ends as Messi, Ronaldo both eliminated
Neither Lionel Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo will be in the Champions League quarterfinals for the first time since 2005. Ronaldo has won five Champions League titles in his career. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)Back before iPhones, Twitter and Instagram even existed, there was Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo — or both — in the Champions League quarterfinals. Ronaldo has won five Champions League titles — one with Manchester United and the rest with Real Madrid, including three straight from 2016-18. The two have even met in the final, with Messi and Barcelona beating Ronaldo and Man United 2-0 in 2009.
PSG draws 1-1 with wasteful Barcelona to reach CL quarters
(AP Photo/Christophe Ena)PARIS – Paris Saint-Germain withstood early pressure from a much-improved but wasteful Barcelona side to draw 1-1 on Wednesday and reach the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Neymar and Messi tormented PSG that night, but there was to be no reply this time. Navas then tipped Sergino Dest’s drive onto the crossbar as Barcelona opened PSG up with its passing and movement. Incessant pressure led to a penalty for Barcelona, again following a VAR check, when Kurzawa was adjudged to have impeded Griezmann. With that miss, some of the belief seemed to sap from Barcelona and the second half was more even.
Big loss to PSG a reality check for Barcelona
But the struggles were far from over for Barcelona, which went on to lose 4-1 in the first leg of the round of 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday. The team looked beaten and bruised after the home loss on Tuesday, with players and coach Ronald Koeman conceding that Barcelona wasn’t up to the task against a better PSG team and admitting that things have to change. PSG, meanwhile, has added top players and has come closer and closer to breaking through with the European title. AdThe Catalan club has made it to the Champions League quarterfinals 13 straight times, last being stopped in the round of 16 in 2007. It was PSG that looked like the big European powerhouse, and it seems that it felt that way for Barcelona players as well.
Barcelona's turmoil deepens after Messi contract leak
Its problems off the field are far from over, though, with the club now trying to show it is fully behind Lionel Messi after the embarrassing leaking of his contract. But the club's focus was on trying to find out how — and why — Messi’s 555-million-euro ($673 million) contract ended up being disclosed. “If someone from the club leaked this, that person can’t have a future in this club.”AdThe El Mundo newspaper gained access to the contract that Messi signed with the Catalan club in 2017. Laporta said he messaged Messi to encourage him and tell him not to worry about the leaking of his contract. AdThe Catalan club struggled at the start of the season but has improved recently.
AP Interview: Pedri brings back brilliance to Barça midfield
Barcelona will play the final after defeating Real Sociedad 3-2 in a penalty shootout after the game ended 1-1. (AP Photo/Jose Breton)BARCELONA – It’s no coincidence that Pedri González conjures up those flashes of exquisite playmaking brilliance that Barcelona fans have been longing for since the days of Andrés Iniesta. Like Iniesta, Pedri is silky smooth with the ball on his feet, with his dribbling and passing in tight spaces. Pedri has scored three goals this season, but it is his passing and footwork with the ball that has set him apart. Twice this season, Pedri has produced no-look flicks with the back of his heel to roll the ball behind to set up Lionel Messi for goals.
AP Interview: Sergiño Dest says 'it is my time' at Barcelona
(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)BARCELONA – Amid the turmoil at Barcelona, United States defender Sergiño Dest has found his patch to flourish. The former Ajax player arrived in the aftermath of Barcelona’s devastating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League in August. Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman immediately put him to work filling in for injured fullbacks on both sides of the team’s defense. So that is why I chose Barça,” Dest said about becoming the first American player to sign for Barcelona’s senior club in early October. “I just worry about the team, and making sure we win the league and the Champions League,” Dest said.
Italy back in contention; England out of Nations League
(AP Photo/Francisco Seco)ROME – Three years after an embarrassing failure to qualify for the World Cup, Italy is back in contention with the best in Europe. England, meanwhile, is already out of contention for the Nations League finals with one round of matches still to play. In all, more than 20 Italy players were unavailable due to the virus and injury. Jorginho converted a penalty for Italy midway through the first half after Andrea Belotti was brought down inside the area. WINNING WALESWales is the only unbeaten team in League B following a 1-0 win over Ireland, courtesy of David Brooks’ second-half header.
AP Interview: Barça VP says Messi never was for sale
His buyout clause stands at an untouchable 700 million euros ($828 million), but he could have likely fetched a hefty price if Barcelona had been willing to listen to offers. “We think it would be good for him to finish his career with the club,” Moix said. It fell 203 million euros ($240 million) short, according to the club’s annual financial report presented by Moix last week, due to the coronavirus. Young defender Jean-Claire Todibo was loaned to Benfica for 2 million euros ($2.3 million). According to Moix, it also saved 30 million euros ($35 million euros) in salaries Barcelona would not have to pay this campaign.
Barcelona close to signing young American defender Dest
(AP Photo/Peter Dejong)MADRID – American right back Sergiño Dest is set to join Barcelona, coach Ronald Koeman said on Wednesday. The Ajax player underwent a medical in Barcelona and the clubs were finalizing the details to make the transfer official, the Barcelona coach said. “I think that kind of experience will help the player but also will help the American national team,” Koeman said. The 19-year-old speedy defender has a Surinamese-American father and Dutch mother, but chose to play for the U.S. national team instead of the Netherlands. Dest committed to the U.S. national team last October, a month after making his senior debut for the Americans.
Revamped Barcelona starts new season with spotlight on Messi
Barcelona's Lionel Messi, centre, in action during the pre-season friendly soccer match between Barcelona and Girona at the Johan Cruyff Stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)MADRID – Lionel Messi will be there when Barcelona starts its season on Sunday, just as he has been for the last two decades. After all, never before had Messi told the club that he wanted to leave, and never before had Messi been forced to stay. Some of those questions may start being answered on Sunday when Barcelona opens its Spanish league season against Villarreal at the Camp Nou. The result thrust Barcelona into one of its worst crises ever, and led Messi to make public his desire to leave.
Barcelona fans relieved after Messi says he will stay
BARCELONA Barcelona fans breathed a collective sigh of relief a day after Lionel Messi said he would wait a year in his desire to seek success elsewhere. Argentine great Messi announced Friday that, despite having told the club he wanted to leave, he would see out the last season on his contract. The 33-year-old forward said he would stay because he wanted to avoid the ugly possibility of going to court to seek his release. Hes Staying was splashed over a huge photo of Messi on the front page of Barcelonas daily Sport on Saturday. It hurt me when people started to doubt my love for this club, Messi said.
Waiting for Messi, Barcelona still reeling after 8-2 loss
A worker holds a shirt with the name of Barcelona soccer player Lionel Messi at a F.C Barcelona store in Barcelona, Spain on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. Barcelona is banking on a face-to-face meeting with Lionel Messi to try to convince him to stay. Talks with Messis father-agent are expected this week in Barcelona but the club also hopes to sit down with the player himself. Messi invoked a clause that allowed him to leave for free at the end of the season, but Barcelona said the clause expired in June. But so far no word from Messi on anything, and as he keeps quiet, Barcelona keeps reeling.
Barcelona wants face-to-face meeting to change Messis mind
(Rafael Marchante/Pool via AP)Barcelona is banking on a face-to-face meeting with Lionel Messi to try to convince him to stay. Talks with Messis father, who is also his agent, are expected this week in Barcelona, but the club also hopes to sit down with the player himself. Barcelona and Messi have yet to talk directly since the Argentine said last week that he wanted to leave the club. The humiliating defeat on Aug. 14 capped a complicated season for Barcelona, the first without a title since 2007-08. Barcelona reiterated its stance that it wants Messi to remain with the club and that it is not planning to negotiate his transfer.
Messi skips required coronavirus testing with Barcelona
Lionel Messi has told Barcelona he wants to leave the club after nearly two decades with the Spanish giants. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)MADRID In another sign that Lionel Messis time with Barcelona is coming to an end, the player did not report for required coronavirus testing scheduled for the whole squad on Sunday. Barcelona said Messi was the only player who did not undergo the tests at the clubs training center. Messi last week expressed his desire to leave the club, but Barcelona wants him to play out the contract that ends in June 2021. The 33-year-old Messi had been outspoken about the club's poor decisions this season, its first without a trophy since 2007-08.
Barcelona unwilling to negotiate Messi departure
Barcelona's Lionel Messi leaves he pitch at half time during the Champions League quarterfinal soccer match between Barcelona and Bayern Munich in Lisbon, Portugal, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (Rafael Marchante/Pool via AP)MADRID Barcelona is unwavering in its intention to keep Lionel Messi, who told the club earlier this week that he wanted to leave. Spanish media said Messi and his team contacted the club late this week to try to discuss his situation. Spanish radio station SER said on Saturday that Barcelona was ending its contract with its current law firm because it also worked for Messi. Training is scheduled to resume on Monday ahead of the start of the Spanish league season on the second weekend of September.
Messi's departure jeopardizes Barcelonas restructuring plan
Barcelona's Lionel Messi during the Champions League quarterfinal match between FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez/Pool)MADRID Lionel Messis surprise decision to leave Barcelona has dealt a blow to the clubs restructuring project even before it began. What might have upset him the most was the decision to get rid of Luis Surez, Messis longtime teammate and friend. With its aging team, Barcelona endured one of its toughest seasons, the first without a title since 2007-08. A lengthy legal batter would further hurt Barcelonas restructuring project, as would Messis departure without any financial compensation.
Lionel Messi tells Barcelona he wants to leave the club
Barcelona's Lionel Messi during the Champions League quarterfinal match between FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. Gerard Piqu says Barcelona "hit rock bottom" in an 8-2 humiliation from Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez/Pool)BARCELONA Lionel Messi has told Barcelona he wants to leave the club after nearly two decades with the Spanish giants. Barcelona said the document sent by Messi referenced a clause allowing him to leave for free at the end of the season. The Spanish season would normally have ended in May but was pushed back because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Barcelona officially hires Ronald Koeman as coach
BARCELONA Barcelona will try to end one of the worst crises in club history with Ronald Koeman as its coach. Barcelona officially announced a deal with Koeman on Wednesday, a day after club president Josep Bartomeu had said the Dutchman accepted the coaching offer and only details needed to be sorted out. Barcelona said Koeman will be officially introduced later Wednesday. Koeman had been coaching the Dutch national team since 2018, and previously coached in the Premier League, the Spanish league, the Dutch league and the Portuguese league. The 57-year-old Koeman began his coaching career as an assistant with Barcelona in the late 1990s.