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News article on: Football

Players in and out
FC Barcelona started the season with five new signings - Gerard Piqué (Manchester United), Seydou Keita (Sevilla), Martín Cáceres (Vila-real), Daniel Alves (Sevilla) and Alexander Hleb (Arsenal). The Brazilian Henrique also joined the club but was loaned out for the season to Bayer Leverkusen.

In addition to the signings, Guardiola brought in Sergio Busquets, Víctor Sánchez and Pedro Rodríguez from Barça Atlètic.

Eight players left the club atteh end of the 2008 season -Zambrotta (AC Milan), Oleguer (Ajax), Ronaldinho (AC Milan), Deco (Chelsea), Edmílson (Vila-real), Ezquerro (Osasuna), Giovani (Tottenham) and Thuram (retired).

Historic Triple

The 2008/09 season turned out to be the very best in Barca’s long and successful history. Guardiola’s team won the Spanish League, Spanish Cup and Champions League – the first triple of the 21st century in Europe.

fcb-racing_x5x.jpgThere were early signs of the exquisite football the team were to offer during the pre-season trips to Scotland and USA, though a poor start to the league season with defeats at Numancia ( 1-0 ) and a draw against Racing at the Nou Camp ( 1-1 ) didn’t seem to augur well for Guardiola’s new project based on a clear commitment to home-grown talent – eleven of the 24-man squad had come up through the youth teams – and thrilling attacking football that was to thrill all Europe. All that seemed a long way off after the draw with Racing though and it wasn’t until the first wins began to take place that the true potential of the team became clear.


QM3D1661.jpgSporting Club were beaten 3-1 in the Champions League, then Sporting Gijon were thrashed 1-6 . Then 2-1 wins against Shaktar and then Espanyol at Montjuich were followed by an extraordinary three games that revealed Barca’s almost insulting superiority when they dispatched Athletico Madrid 6-1 , Basle 0-5 and Almeria 5-0 .

Top of the league in November

ALN01D03.008.jpgA 1-4 win at Malaga at the start of November saw Barca go top of La Liga for the first time and they were not to relinquish to spot for the rest of the season. Nothing seemed able to stop Guardiola’s team, not even the tough four-game run against Seville, Valencia, Real Madrid and Villarreal. Four wins out of four: 0-3 , 4-0 , 2-0 and 1-2 saw them heading the table with a 12 point lead over Madrid.

New year success continues

QM3D9049.jpgJanuary and February saw the team maintain their fantastic form in both the league and cup, keeping their distance from Madrid, who went on a 10 game winning run after defeat at the Nou Camp, and seeing off Benidorm, Atletico Madrid, Espanyol and Mallorca into book a place in the Spanish Cup final.

Dip in form

22-03-09_WEB_PARTIDO_03.jpgThere was bound to be a dip in form, even for such a team as Barac, and it came at the end of February when they went 5 games without a win, but they bounced back to an even higher level with Champions League wins over Lyon ( 5-2 ) and Bayern Munich ( 4-0 ) and league demolitions of Malaga ( 6-0 ) and Seville ( 4-0 ), ahead were the two biggest games of the season so far, the classic derby trip to the Bernabeu and the visit to Stamford Bridge for the Champions League semi final.

2-6 and Iniesta’s goal

web_12.jpgBarca arrived at the Bernabeu with their league lead cut to just 4 points, but in a thrilling display of force and flair they silenced the Madrid crowd with a stunning 2-6 win that firtually ensured the league title, whilst a 93rd minute Iniesta strike saw them beat Chelsea 1-1 to reach their second Champions League final in four years.

Dreams fulfilled in Valencia and Rome

ZUERAS_FC.BARCELONA_-_MANCHESTER_UNITED_FINAL_CHAMPIONS_TROFEO_27-05-09_102.JPGOn May 13th Barca won a record 25th Spanish Cup title, beating Athletic Bilbao 4-1 in Valencia. Three days later, Madrid’s defeat at Villarreal saw Guardiola’s team lift the League title and then on 27th in Rome came the 2-0 victory over Manchester United to claim the Champions League and their historic third title of the season, their second of the century and third overall.

FC Barcelona thus rounded off a historic season, becoming the first European team of the 21st century to claim a triple, the first ever Spanish team to do so and only the fifth ever after Glasgow Celtic (1966/67), Ajax (1971/72), PSV (1987/88) and Manchester United (1998/99) .

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