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14.09.13 Barcelona v Sevilla

In their first game back after the international break, Barça chalked up their 12th straight league win and their fourth of this season to stay top of the table. It certainly wasn’t all plain sailing though with an injury time winner from Alexis just edging it Barça’s way, as the 76,765 saw their team suffer in the final few minutes. Gerardo Martino gave Cristian Tello his first start of the season, partnering Messi and Neymar  in attack, whilst Xavi returned to midfield alongside Iniesta and Sergio, who had recovered from the injury that kept him out of the international games. Within the first quarter of an hour, Barça found themselves in difficulties when Jordi Alba was forced off with what proved to be a torn muscle and  Adriano had to come on and replace him. Neymar was already looking lively though and had forced two good stops from the Seville keeper, who was again called on to keep out Tello on 20 minutes. Despite these chances and a Messi free kick which flew inches wide, Emery’s side were as expected, well organised in defence and leaving few spaces for the Barça front men. Eventually though, Dani Alves found a way through, arriving late to meet a great Adriano cross to head home after 35 minutes. Sevilla looked more dangerous from the off after the break and began to threaten Valdes’ goal, with the ref ruling out a goal from a corner for a foul on Sergio Busquets. Martino brought on Alexis and Cesc for Tello and Iniesta, as the game loosened up and Enery’s side began to look more confident. After trying his luck with  a shot from the edge of the box, Messi then doubled the lead after  Cesc won the ball in midfield to release Neymar down the left and the Brazilian set up the world number one for his sixth goal of the season to double Barça’s lead and surely put an end to the visitors resistance. Seville refused to lie down though and after Rakitic scored two minutes later (76), Coke then fired home the equaliser from a corner on 90 minutes, with the ref signalling three minutes of injury time. There was still time for a fright or two at the back, but Messi struck again just when it looked as if Barça’s winning run might be coming to an end, dribbling to the dead ball line on the right and cutting back the ball, which the keeper could only parry pout toAlexis who fired home a winner that sent the crowd into ecstasy as they celebrated yet another league win. It’s back to the Camp Nou on Wednesday, when Barça take on Ajax in the Champions League.

28.08.13 Barcelona v Atlético de Madrid

 

FC Barcelona won the 2013 Spanish Super Cup this evening at the Camp Nou. The 0-0 scoreline this Wednesday in Barcelona, after the 1-1 from the first leg at the Vicente Calderón, means that Tata Martino and Neymar Jr are champions for the first time with their new Club. Despite the lack of goals, the Camp Nou witnessed an intense match as the Blaugrana attempted to knock down the defensive wall erected by Atletico. The match, which featured on-pitch battles all of the field, ended in a goalless draw thanks to two fantastic saves from Valdés and because Messi missed a penalty kick after Atletico had been reduced to 10 men when Filipe Luis was sent off for elbowing Dani Alves. The match started with Barça surging forward toward Atletico’s goal. Dominant in possession, the Blaugrana comfortably controlled three quarters of the pitch. That’s where Simeone’s men were waiting, dug in and adopting the same approach they had last week: excellently organised on defence, keen to commit fouls to interrupt Barça’s flow, and looking to strike quickly once possession was recovered. After 30 minutes, a through ball from Busquets wasn’t taken advantage of by Messi when the Argentine’s attempt was blocked by a lunging Filipe Luis. Simeone’s men had yet to cross into Barça territory. The match heated up as time ticked off the clock. The visiting team continued to commit fouls without much punishment from the referee: only Koke was booked in the first half, to Barça’s Cesc and Busquets (Tata’s men had committed 6 fouls to Atletico’s 12). The Blaugrana, who still dominated possession, watched as Atletico created one of the best chances of the match when Arda shot from inside the area. Víctor Valdés reacted immediately and pulled out a massive save to keep the visiting side off the board. The title was still up for grabs at the break. The time of the second half was very different from what the fans saw in the first 45 minutes. In the first half the battle for the match was in the midfield, in the second players from both sides buzzed around their opponent’s area whenever they had possession. The box-to-box pace of the match nearly saw Atlético take the lead if it hadn’t have been for Valdés, who pulled out another great save to deny David Villa. Martino brought in Pedro and Iniesta for Alexis and Cesc and Barça slowly regained control. Atletico, in dire need of a goal, lost the plot in the final minutes of the match when Filipe Luis was shown a straight red for elbowing Dani Alves and Arda was sent to the dressing room with another red after he had been subbed off by Simeone. Godín stamped on Dani Alves’ back, an infraction that wasn’t penalised, and Pedro won a penalty which was missed by Messi. Despite the error, Barça deserved to win the title. Tata Martino and his men claimed the first title of the season, the Spanish Super Cup.

Barcelona step by step: The Eixample

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The Eixample, designed by architect Idelfons Cerdà, is made up of an immense mosaic of orderly blocks that make up the centre of the city, in the area outside the city walls. It is divided into left and right hand sides at Carrer Balmes, but the slanting route traced by the Diagonal avenue breaks up the ordered grid framework crossing the whole city from east to west and ending at the sea. In the left hand side of the Eixample, we find the historical building of the University of Barcelona, and the Gran Via is like a tunnel through time that passes through the modernist style Casa Golferichs and reaches the Plaça de les Arenes shopping centre. The right part of the Eixample runs to Passeig Sant Joan and is where the Cerdà plan began. since the Barcelona bourgeoisie abandoned the walled city and began to build small houses with gardens in this area, the only surviving examples of which are to be found in Passatge Permanyer. The area’s neuralgic centres are undoubtedly Plaça Catañunya and Passeig de Gràcia, which are the main focus of the city’s economic activity, the later containing luxury multinational jewelers and fashion stores. Running alongside, another elegant avenue, Rambla Catalunya, is ideal for visitors to have a drink at one of its numerous terrace bars. On the upper side we find the Sagrada Familia neighbourhood, whose name comes from the famous church, Gaudi’s most iconic work.

Barcelona step by step: Gràcia

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In the north of the city is the neighbourhood of Gràcia, which until the late nineteenth century was independent from Barcelona. It is currently one of Barcelona’s most popular neighbourhoods, and the one with the strongest personal identity, featuring numerous bars, restaurants, terraces, shops and theatres. It retains its original urban pattern of narrow streets and a rich network of squares which are always frequented by locals. At first glance, its most striking landmark is Gaudi’s Parc Güell, but the area has much more to offer. It’s a lively quarter, thanks in part to the groups that dance swing in Plaça de la Virreina or social meeting points like Plaça del Sol and Plaça Rius i Taulet. Cultural activity is also the order of the day here and the neighborhood is home of Teatre Lliure and Cinema Verdi, one of the city’s few cinemas that show movies in original language. Enjoy its nightlife! Closest metro station: Fontana.

Barcelona step by step: Poble-Sec

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Traditionally a working class and residential neighbourhood, Poble-Sec has recently become a popular quarter with young people. Although most people are not aware of the fact, this is the authentic Eixample, the first widening of the old city, set between the narrow streets of the Raval and the straight lines of the Eixample. With Avinguda Paral.lel on one side, with its many theatres such as the Apolo or Victoria, and the parkland of Montjuïc on the other, providing various viewpoints on its slopes, Poble-Sec occupies a narrow stretch of land between. In keeping with the authenticity of the neighbourhood is Quimet & Quimet, a bodega where you can try somo aperitif and tapas, as is the retro-style La Federica. I should also mention the recently restored El Molino and Plaça del Sortidor, which is always bubbling with activity and full of the warm village-like life that characterizes the area. Closest metro station: Poble-Sec and Paral.lel (L2 and L3).

Barcelona step by step: La Barceloneta-Port Vell

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This fisherman’s neighborhood is full of contrasts: old, straight, salt-stained streets give way to luxury yachts and some of the city’s finest seafood and rice restaurants (such as Vinya del Mar and Can Solé). Barceloneta beach is the most popular among young visitors, with its cosmopolitan atmosphere and its round the clock liveness. The calm waters of the Mediterranean sea, the Olympic Port, the modern Ribera and the modernist lines of the Estació de Francia are the boundaries of the area. Palau del Mar is a reminder of its period as an industrial port and the nearby prawn statue by Mariscal is an echo of the 1992 Olympic Games. Maremagnum has shops, bars and discos with sea views. Next to it we find the Imax Cinema and the Aquarium. Resisting the passage of time, the church of San Miguel del Puerto is a mere stone’s throw away. Closest metro station’s Barceloneta (L4).

Meatpacking Bistro

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He aquí un local para todo. Para un desayuno de tenedor o un buen café de camino al trabajo; para un suculento plato de carne o una ensalada al mediodía; para una merienda libro en mano o unas cervezas en compañía. Parece difícil contentar a todo el mundo a todas horas, pero las cosas bien escogidas (toda la comida es orgánica) y bien ejecutadas acaban haciendo mella, y este exitoso establecimiento de Sant Gervasi es prueba de ello: luminosidad, buen gusto en la decoración y talento en la cocina no pasan nunca desapercibidos. En Meatpacking Bistro disponen siempre de dos hamburguesas, la de atún (con mayonesa de wasabi, vinagreta de tomate y soja) y la Meatpacking (con bacon, cebolla confitada y queso), además de la del mes, cambiante. Además, lo decía antes, desde la mañana hasta la madrugada en los fin de semana aquí pueden desayunar dulces, ice tea, cereales con yogur o tortitas; pueden picar unos nachos con queso, tomate, olivas negras, carne picada, jalapeños y nata agria; almorzara una ensalada crujiente de verduras, espinacas a la crema o un filete de salmón a la plancha; merendar un café con un brownie o un helado casero; y tomar un cóctel de su carta propia. Elijan, si pueden…solo cuidado a los precios…no es exactamente barato!

La barbacoa de Gràcia

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Un buen surtido de carne a la parrilla e incluso, qué demonios, unos cargols a la llauna no tienen por qué estar reñidos con la inimidad y la calidez de un local que nos incita a conversar y enfrascarnos en largas sobremesas. Aquí cuidan el ambiente y son absolutamente estrictos con la calidad de los ingredientes que componen su carta. Pedir el chuletón gallego, verduras a la brasa, rovellons…y en general, parilladas acompañadas de patatas al caliu, tomate al parmesano y pimiento del padrón. El chuletón está muy rico, lo sirven acompañado con la piedra en el centro de la mesa para seguir calentando a tu gusto.

La Taberna Griega

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Muy cerca del Dionisios se encuentra La Taberna Griega, un restaurante acogedor y con precios competitivos en el menú mediodía. La cocina casera incluye especialidades como pikilla, ensaladas: horatiki, saganaki y platos como: moussaka, kokkinisto, kolokithakia y kalamaria, entre otros. La Taberna Griega también tiene una carta de vinos típicos helenos y postres griegos elaborados también de forma casera. Los menús incluyen, además del ya citado de mediodía, un menú degustación, uno de plato principal y un menú para grupos. El local, además, realiza espectáculos como baile de sirtaki, con rotura de platos incluida.

Barcelona step by step: Raval

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The Raval neighborhood can be found going down on the right side of the Ramblas. Its history is not a particularly elegant one. It went from being a red-light district and thought it has not yet completely recovered the fact is that it is on the way up. Nowadays it is a lively multicultural neighborhood that may well offer some stiff competition to the Born in the chic stakes in a few years. The Liceu opera house and the Boqueria market are long standing landmarks, but the arrival of the MACBA (Contemporary Art Museum) was a significant event in the quarter’s history. The Rambla del Raval, its main avenue, offers stark contrasts, from the upmarket Barceló Raval Hotel’s restaurant B-Lounge to kebab joints like Bismillah Kebabish. And all the streets that delimit the area are worthy of mention: Pelai, The Ramblas, Drassanes and Paral.lel. Metro: Liceu.