FC Barcelona News: 15 February 2012; Barça in Control Ahead of Return Leg, Lionel Messi Breaks Champions League Record

Alexis Sanchez led Barcelona to the win with a brace.

Sanchez double puts Barcelona in control - Yahoo! Eurosport
Two goals from Alexis Sanchez ensured Barcelona enjoyed a 3-1 victory away at Bayer Leverkusen in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie.The defending European champions dominated for large periods at the BayArena and are now firm favourites to progress to the quarter-finals for the fifth season in succession thanks to a fine full Champions League debut from their Chilean forward, and another virtuoso performance from Lionel Messi.

A Champions League love story - Barcelona's Lionel Messi breaks competition record with 19th strike in knockout games - Goal.com
So it is perhaps fitting that on Saint Valentine's Day, the much-admired Argentine created his own celebration of love by breaking yet another record, as he surpassed the mark set for goals scored in the knockout stages of the Champions League in Germany on Tuesday, with his 19th strike in games played at the business end of the tournament.

Guardiola: "The second half is a lesson for the return leg" | FC Barcelona
"I had a better time in the second half, [however] we played better in the first." These were the first words of Josep Guardiola after his team put in a good showing against Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the Champions League. In the first half Barça corralled Bayer Leverkusen in their own half and in the second, much more open than the first, the Catalans finished off the game (1-3).

Alves: "It's a good advantage but we have to finish it at home" | FC Barcelona
The FC Barcelona players were satisfied when they walked off the pitch of the BayArena. Víctor Valdés said, "the key was controlling the game from the beginning." However, Cesc Fabregas recognized that his team was sluggish at the start of the second half: "in the second half, we fell asleep in the first minutes but on the whole we played a very good game."

One year unbeaten in Europe | FC Barcelona
Barça’s last defeat in Europe was against Arsenal on February 16, 2011. It was in the last-16 away leg of the Champions League. Since then, Barça maintained a perfect record all the way to the unforgettable final in Wembley. The team’s form hasn’t suffered any dips this year either as the Catalans sailed through the group stages of the Champions League without tasting defeat.

Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola explains Gerard Pique omission - ESPN Soccernet
"I had to pick an 18-man squad," Guradiola told the post-match press conference. "Mascherano is suspended for the game against Valencia on Sunday, so I couldn't afford to lose Gerard. I also wanted to bring in Bartra, who we'll need in the near future. "Pique knows I love him. He's not angry about it. He knows he's untouchable and is very important for us."

Pedro reaches 150 official matches for FC Barcelona | FC Barcelona
Pedro Rodríguez played in his 150th official match for FC Barcelona tonight at the BayArena against Bayer Leverkusen. The 24-year-old striker made his debut for Barça’s first team, whilst under the management of Frank Rijkaard, four years ago. It was in January 12, 2008 when Pedrito, his preferred nickname at the time, came on for Samuel Eto’o in the dying minutes of the game against Real Madrid.

Muniesa and Bartra, pleased with the decision to play for the first team next season | FC Barcelona
Once the game against Cartagena was over (4-0), Marc Muniesa and Marc Bartra both said that they were pleased with the news offered up by football director Andoni Zubizarreta last week. The director said that both the defenders plus Dos Santos and Montoya would officially be part of the first team next season. "I’m very happy. It’s a dream that coming true little by little," said Muniesa.

Villarreal set for a renaissance | Andy Mitten - Yahoo!
You can walk from one side of Villarreal to the other in 25 minutes. From the tiny, two platform, train station to the sprawling CF Villarreal's cuidad deportivo, fitted around fields growing oranges, on the other. You walk past the town's solitary hotel and by houses clad in ceramics so garish they'd work as a set for Balamory.

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