Juventus
    Juventus
      03.06.2015 20:41 - in: Champions League S

      Barcelona under the microscope

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      Founded in 1899, the Blaugrana play their home matches at the Nou Camp and are currently managed by former midfielder Luis Enrique

      Club

      Founded in 1899, Barcelona have won 23 La Liga championships, 27 Copa del Rey titles, 11 Spanish Super Cups, four Champions League trophies, four Cup Winners’ Cups, four Super Cups, three Inter-Cities Fairs Cups and two Club World Cups.

      Together with Athletic Bilbao and El Clasico rivals Real Madrid, the Blaugrana, whose customary shirt colour is red and blue, have never been relegated from Spain’s top flight in their illustrious history.

      Stadium

      Since 1957, Barcelona have played their home matches at the 99,354-seater Nou Camp, the largest stadium in both Spain and Europe.

      The venue has hosted many international matches, including two Champions League finals and various fixtures at the 1982 World Cup, and has also frequently been used for music concerts, having staged such artists as U2, Bruce Springsteen and Michael Jackson.

      Manager

      Barcelona are currently under the tutelage of Luis Enrique.

      The 45-year-old began his professional career by turning out for local outfit Sporting Gijon in 1989, before subsequently spending five campaigns at Real Madrid from 1991.

      His stint with Los Blancos proved fruitful, winning a La Liga title, a Copa del Rey and a Spanish Super Cup in the Spanish capital.

      Enrique, who was a versatile midfielder able to fill in both in defence and up front, then crossed the El Clasico divide by signing for Barcelona on a free transfer in 1996.

      During his time at the Nou Camp, he added two further La Liga winners’ medals, two Copa del Rey titles, a Spanish Super Cup, a Cup Winners’ Cup and a Super Cup.

      After netting 109 goals in 300 appearances for Barcelona and featuring at three World Cup tournaments with the Spanish national side, injury forced to Enrique hang up his boots for the final time in 2004.

      His first foray into management saw him take charge of Barcelona B from 2008 before he left for Serie A outfit Roma three seasons later.

      However, a disappointing term with the Giallorossi, which saw them fail to qualify for Europe, meant the Spanish tactician was relieved of his duties in 2012.

      Following a 12-month break from football, he was appointed manager of Celta Vigo, leading the Galicians to ninth position in the 2013/14 season.

      His impressive showing did not go unnoticed by former employers Barcelona, who swooped to sign him on a two-year contract, succeeding Gerardo Martino in the process.

      After leading the Blaugrana to their 23rd La Liga title and 27th Copa del Rey in recent weeks, Enrique now stands on the cusp of securing the club’s first treble since the 2008/09 season.

      His playing style shares La Masia’s values of easy-on-the-eye football, including possession, passing and expert movement in attacking areas.

      Domestic campaign

      Barcelona finished the 2014/15 La Liga term as champions on 94 points, with 30 victories, four draws and four losses to their name.

      The Blaugrana ultimately pipped arch-rivals Real Madrid to the post by just two points, March’s 2-1 El Clasico triumph at the Nou Camp proving vital for the title race.

      Enrique's men, who had previously been crowned winners in 2013, clinched the prize on the penultimate matchday of the season, overcoming former champions Atletico Madrid 1-0 at the Vicente Calderon on Sunday 17 May.

      With 43 league goals, talisman Lionel Messi finished the campaign as Barcelona’s top scorer, followed by Neymar on 22 and summer signing Luis Suarez (16).

      Copa del Rey exploits

      The Blaugrana entered the competition at the round of 32 stage, defeating Segunda Division B Group 2 minnows SD Huesca 12-1 on aggregate in December 2014.

      Elche were next to feel the force of Barcelona’s immense attacking prowess, losing 9-0 over two legs, before Atletico Madrid, who had dumped holders Real Madrid out in the previous round, were eliminated 4-2 on aggregate in the quarter-finals.

      Enrique’s troops then brushed Villarreal aside both home and away, recording a 6-2 semi-final success, to set up a Copa del Rey final showdown with Athletic Bilbao on 30 May.

      During Saturday’s showpiece event at the Nou Camp, Messi gave his side the lead courtesy of an incredible piece of individual brilliance on 20 minutes before Neymar rounded off a tremendous team move by tapping into an empty net ahead of the break.

      A 27th Copa del Rey title was sewn up when Messi prodded Dani Alves’ cross home with a quarter of an hour remaining, before Bilbao reduced the arrears through Inaki Williams’ header late on.

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