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Video clip Ranking: 4 / five
Barcelona’s run of unbeaten matches came to an end finally after suffering a 2-1 defeat against Ajax in the Champions League. This defeat was a demoralising loss for the Spanish club considering that it was against 10 men after Ajax had lost Veltman to a red card in the 48th minute. After the match, midfielder Cesc Fabregas said that this was just one of those days when everything that the opposition did went in. This defeat does not have any consequences on their position in the group because they have already qualified for the knockout stages.
Fabregas was part of the team that lost in the match, which will undoubtedly increase criticism of manager Gerardo Martino. Even though the team has been winning quite easily under the regime of the new manager, they have not been playing the same style of football that has been so successful in recent years. It has also become the trademark of Barcelona, but that has been missing this year. Serero opened the scoring after just 19 minutes before Hoesen doubled their advantage just before half-time.
“We did plenty of running, it was not a question of the wrong attitude or a lack of commitment – it just didn’t work out. During half time there was no panic, we spoke a lot about our positioning and how we could improve it, but we still weren’t able to turn the game round in the second half. We have no excuses – the level of performance was simply not high enough for Barcelona,” said Fabregas to UEFA.com after the match.
Xavi’s penalty pulled one back for Barcelona, but they never managed to at least draw the match. The last defeat suffered by Barcelona in all competitions was back in May 2013 when they were defeated 3-0 by Bayern Munich.
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Atletico Madrid have been one of the surprise candidates for the title in Spain this season. They have been able to sustain the challenge beyond the winter break. One of their major tests for the title credentials will come in the form of a match against Barcelona, who share an identical record with Diego Simeone’s men at the top of the table. Ahead of the match with Atletico Madrid, Barcelona’s midfielder Cesc Fabregas says that this match will not determine the winner of the league title.
Barcelona are top of the table only on goal difference and they will be overtaken should they lose in this match. Gerardo Martino’s men have been going through an identity crisis this campaign due to the different philosophy adopted by the new manager. Atletico Madrid have been playing in the identity of their manager Simeone, who is considered as a legend at the club. The hard working men from Madrid are sure to cause the Catalan club some problems, but that will not be enough to win the title according to Fabregas.
Both teams have suffered just one defeat this campaign. Barcelona have a slightly better record when it comes to scoring goals, but the home team are better off in the defensive side of the game.
“It’s not a game that will decide the league, but will give the winner confidence to win. Atletico play together, pressing the attack. And Diego Costa is on a great run and scoring lots of goals,” said Fabregas, as the Catalan club aim to suppress the advantages of Atletico Madrid. Diego Costa has been one of the standout players in the Spanish league this campaign, as he has been able to keep up with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo in terms of goal scoring. He has 19 league goals.
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During Barcelona’s 4-1 triumph over Betis on November 10 that saw Cesc Fabregas being named man of the match as he scored 2 goals and provided 1 asists, the victory with a bittersweet taste as he picked up an injury that left him unable play with Spain against Georgia in the World Cup qualifiers.
Spain however did manage to cope with the absence of Cesc Fabregas as they claimed a 2-0 victory against Georgia and secured their place into Brazil for next year.
The 26 years old midfielder made a full recovery just in time to play against Granada and being an influential player for his club as he scored a penalty kick and created an assist for his teammate.
He gave an assist and he scored two goals in the match against Betis. After the game, Cesc told the press that he’s pleased with his current good form: “I’m on good form, I always try to vindicate myself and make a difference.”
Fàbregas admitted that “the team was a bit slow at the start, after the first goal we got better and in the second half we were very superior.” The midfielder then thanked his manager for his words of praise after the match even though he wasn’t named to the starting team in the mid-week showdown with Milan: “I know what his ideal starting team is, the rest of us need to push hard.”
Barcelona is starting to display the talent available in their squad as they are dealing with the absence of Messi excellently and Fabregas is shining even brighter than ever before for the Catalan team as he is showing why Barcelona offloaded £35 million in order to sign him from Arsenal.