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30.12.2008 12:32

Christmas does Barça good

David Puig

Barça usually get the new year off to a good start. In the last ten editions of the League, the first team has won seven of their first games back after the Christmas break.

Christmas is good for Barça. Seven of the last ten years have got off to winning starts, with one draw and just two defeats in the first game in January.

Last one in Mallorca (0-2)

mall-fcb3.jpgBarça are starting 2009 against the same team they played in their first outing of 2008, Mallorca. Last year the venue was the Ono Estadio in Palma on January 5. Then under the orders of Frank Rijkaard, they won 2-0 with goals from Márquez and Eto'o. It was a good start for Barça, but they failed to capitalise on that and finished the season third in the league table.

Derby to start 2006 (1-2)

07-01-06_Larsson_01.jpgIn the 2005/06 season, Barça got off to a heavy start with the local derby at the Estadio Olímpico Lluís Companys against Espanyol. There was no Christmas hangover though and Barça won 2-1 with goals from Deco and Eto'o, Tamudo getting the only goal for the home side. Barça thus consolidated their position at the top of the table, with a four-point lead over second-placed Osasuna. It would end up being a historic year, for the team not only went on to secure the championship title, but also won their second Champions League crown.

Two famous defeats

Barça have only lost two of their last ten first games of the year, but both were heavy losses. Racing Santander and Villarreal both beat the Catalans 3-0 in the subsequent seasons of 2003/04 and 2004/05. Against the Cantabrians, in Frank Rijkaard’s first season, Barça were wallowing in ninth and 15 adrift of leaders Real Madrid, and that defeat sent them down to twelfth. But as the year wore on, Barça were reinvigorated, and following a spectacular turnaround they ended the season second, while Madrid had to settle for a lowly fourth.

09-01-05_Web_Villarreal_03.JPGThe 3-0 loss at El Madrigal on January 9, 2005 had less catastrophic results, for Barça were comfortably poised with a ten-point lead over second placed Valencia. The squad had spent some of the festive period on a training camp in Peralada, and perhaps it was tiredness from that which made Pellegrini’s side look so much better. But the work in Peralada did pay off eventually, and Barça won the league title with relative ease.

Last start at Camp Nou

Barça have not restarted their league campaign at the Camp Nou since January 5, 2003. Coached at the time by Louis Van Gaal, they had few problems overcoming Recreativo Huelva 3-0 with goals from Rochemback, Loren (own goal) and Cocu. It was a good start to a year that would end in disappointment, with FCB having to settle for a UEFA Cup berth.
Christmas does Barça good
Cup kicks off 2007
Barça started 2007 with a return match in the Copa del Rey. The date was January 2, and Barcelona entertained Alcoyano having already won 3-0 in the first leg. There was little left to be done, and the game in Barcelona ended 2-2.

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