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FC Barcelona News: 15 April 2011; Anticipation Rising, Villarreal Win in Belgium

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Worth less than Ronaldo?
Worth less than Ronaldo?

Four battles, one war: Winner takes all for Barcelona and Real Madrid | The Guardian
White Hart Lane's final whistle became the clásico series' starting pistol, but both participants had already been up and running for some time. This was confirmation of what has long been coming: Barcelona versus Real Madrid. Over and over and over again.

Awesome foursome | Sky Sports
Predicting one Real Madrid v Barcelona game is hard enough, but trying to forecast what will happen over the next four games is practically impossible. If we apply that old cliché about it being a marathon not a sprint to the next 360 minutes of football to be played between these two old enemies, then the question we should be asking is: "Which of the two sides is in the best shape to go the distance?"

All eyes focused on clásico series | SI
Here we go, then. Barcelona and Real's very own World Series starts now, the most exciting run of games in living memory or definitive and depressing proof that no one else in Spain matters -- great clubs, superb teams and talented players, relegated to an irrelevance, in the shadow of two footballing behemoths.

No escaping Clasico fever | Eurosport
The Madrid press try to portray Barca as arrogant and conceited in their success. The Catalans portray Madrid as green-eyed monsters who will go to any length to unsettle what they consider to be the best team in the world, ever. It's all playground stuff.

Barcelona, best team ever? Football greats divided | SI
It's not too much of a stretch to argue that Barcelona is the best football team in the world right now. But is it the best side ever? If so, how to decide? And given how football has evolved over the decades, becoming ever faster, more muscular, wealthier and competitive, is it possible or even reasonable to compare Lionel Messi and his teammates to other great squads, including some that played a half-century ago?

Who is better: Messi or Ronaldo? | Eurosport
Barcelona host Real Madrid on Saturday, the first of four Clasicos in 18 days that will shape the destiny of La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League. The star men for each side, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, are both enjoying an exceptional season - but who is better?

Lessons from the Champions League | ESPN
What did we learn in the quarterfinals about the teams that made it through to the final four? Here are five lessons to keep in mind before Europe's premier competition returns with the first legs of two highly anticipated ties, Manchester United vs. Schalke on April 26 and Barcelona vs. Real Madrid on April 27.

Xavi: "Being normal isn’t a selling point –but it gets through to people" | FCBarcelona
During the interview, Xavi talks with a plain honesty about the fact that that he sees the squad as "regular guys, very uncomplicated in the changing room, who love football and have a lot of respect for other people"

Thiago Alcantara bangs hard at Barcelona's first-team door | The National
Thiago could do worse than compare himself with those he is trying to emulate. He has started more games than Sergio Busquets and Pedro at the same age, while Andres Iniesta made just six league starts in his first season with the first team. Most of his football has come with Barca B, who are third in the second division - the ideal stepping stone for future progress.

Piqué proves himself more vital than ever | FCBarcelona
Since he came back to the Club and won a place in the first team, Gerard Piqué has been a regular, but this season he is putting in more game time than ever. In his first season he played 2.208 minutes, 110 less than he has already played this campaign and last year he played 2.478, a figure which is he is just 160 minutes away from beating, with 7 league games to play.

Barcelona's finest-ever XI costs less than one Cristiano Ronaldo | The Telegraph
Given the amount Real Madrid has spent on new players over the last two seasons, it's unsurprising that los Galacticos' collective transfer fee dwarfs that of Barcelona - even with Kaka (£56 million) likely to start on the bench. The mismatch is so great that the entire Barcelona first eleven cost €85m - less than what Real Madrid paid to buy Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United.

Barcelona claiming €6 million in damages from COPE after doping allegations | Goal
Spanish giants Barcelona have demanded a little over €6 million in damages from radio station COPE in the wake of their recent insinuations that the Catalans are involved in doping practices. The broadcasters quickly retracted the initial comments, that also accused Valencia of similar treatments, but the Camp Nou club have moved toward legal proceedings.

Villarreal win to set up Porto clash | Eurosport
Villarreal overcame a first-half scare by coming from behind to win 3-1 at FC Twente, sealing a 8-2 aggregate win that puts them in the semi-finals of the Europa League. They will next meet Portuguese champions Porto, who pushed their credentials with a 10-3 aggregate win over Spartak Moscow.

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