A forum for all 'english-speaking' fans of Gabriel Omar Batistuta, which EVER team he's involved with!
Thanks to ALL fans for any 'Bati-news' and news about Argentina!
To make it easier to reply to posts, please don't start a new thread if there is already an existing thread related to your topic. Let's try to keep all the same news 'together'. Thanks!
Sorry I'm so late starting this thread, but I was away last week.
And, Linda... there's no LIVERPOOL to moan about this year!! Yippppeeeeee!!!!
Anyway, here are the results of last week's matches.
Champions League - Group A
FC Twente Enschede 2 - 2 Inter Milan
Werder Bremen 2 - 2 Tottenham H.
Benfica 2 - 0 Hapoel Tel Aviv
Lyon 1 - 0 Schalke
Bursaspor 0 - 4 Valencia
Manchester U. 0 - 0 Rangers
Barcelona 5 - 1 Panathinaikos
FC Copenhagen 1 - 0 Rubin Kazan
Group E September 15
Bayern Munich 2 - 0 AS Roma
CFR Cluj 2 - 1 Basel
Marseille 0 - 1 Spartak Moscow
Zilina 1 - 4 Chelsea
AC Milan 2 - 0 Auxerre
Real Madrid 2 - 0 Ajax Amsterdam
Arsenal 6 - 0 Braga
Shakhtar Donetsk 1 - 0 Partizan Belgrade
Wish I'd kept this thread going, but still... I can't let tonight's final go by without saying SOMETHING about it!!
Obviously I hope Man U will win, but I'm not holding my breath. I know everyone else will want Barca to win and they probably will, so I'm just going to say that I hope it's a brilliant match and that Man U make more of an effort than they did in 2009!
And I hope that our 'magical Messi'...
has a great game (but not TOO great!! )
Here's a preview...
Barcelona v Man Utd preview
European glory beckons at Wembley on Saturday as the champions of Spain and England collide in one of the most eagerly-awaited finals in history.
Barcelona and Manchester United could already lay claim to being the two finest sides on the continent before this season, having each made it through to the final twice in the past five years.
They have confirmed their standing at the top of the game this term after dominating their respective domestic competitions, whilst progressing to this stage of the UEFA Champions League with little difficulty.
Barcelona cruised through a group also containing FC Copenhagen, Rubin Kazan and Panathinaikos, before overturning a first-leg deficit to knock out Arsenal in the last 16.
An emphatic victory over Shakhtar Donetsk in the quarter-finals was followed by an eagerly-awaited tie against rivals Real Madrid, when Lionel Messi's brilliance shone out in an otherwise fiery and controversial affair.
Manchester United came out ahead of Valencia, Rangers and Bursaspor in their group and were rewarded with a clash against Marseille in the next round.
Having beaten the Frenchmen and then held off the challenge of Chelsea in the quarter-finals, United hammered Schalke to take their place in this weekend's showpiece.
Sir Alex Ferguson's men also clinched the Premier League title in impressive fashion, while Barcelona collected a staggering 96 points in winning the Primera Liga.
But even though both sides have had successful seasons, it is the outcome of Saturday's final in London that will determine how fondly the 2010/11 campaign is remembered by each set of supporters.
Barcelona start as favourites not only because of their excellent results but also because they possess serious star quality, with Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi ranked as the top three players in the world at the end-of-year Ballon d'Or awards.
These three can combine to devastating effect and a number of scintillating performances in recent times have fuelled discussion about whether Barca are the best club team of all time.
The same has not been said of United, with some observers suggesting Ferguson's current crop lacks the class of previous vintages.
Such criticism has been roundly dismissed by everyone at Old Trafford, and while the Red Devils may not have quite the same sort of buccaneering style as Barca they have shown an ability to overcome any obstacle they face.
United have found a formidable formula of defensive solidity, speed and intensity in midfield and a cutting edge up front provided by the dual talents of Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez.
They also have another key weapon in the shape of manager Ferguson, vastly more experienced than counterpart Pep Guardiola and confident that he has hatched a plan to get the better of Barca.
United were not able to come out on top when they met the same opponents in the 2009 final, which Barcelona won 2-0, but will have happier memories of the last time they played a European Cup final at Wembley in 1968 and beat Benfica.
Spectators around the world will hope for a match full of attacking endeavour rather than cautious containment, and it will be the job of Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai to keep order.
United will nevertheless be aware of the importance of frustrating a Barca side that invariably dominates possession, and the last line of defence will be provided by goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, playing in his final match before retirement at the age of 40.
The veteran Dutchman will be shielded by a back four comprising Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, captain Nemanja Vidic and one of the Brazilian twins, perhaps Fabio.
Ferguson has a lot of options in midfield but is expected to go with Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs and Park Ji-sung, although Nani, Anderson and Darren Fletcher will also hope to feature.
Hernandez is set to cap a terrific debut season with a place in the forward line beside Rooney, as United look to exploit the one possible weakness in Barca's line-up, their defence.
Like United, Barca have all their key players fit after resting the majority of their main men in the final two rounds of domestic matches.
Eric Abidal has been in action, though, after returning from two months out following surgery on a liver tumour.
The French left-back is now in contention to play at Wembley alongside fellow defenders Dani Alves, Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, although versatile Argentine Javier Mascherano is another alternative if Guardiola decides he does not want to risk Abidal and Puyol - who has also had a spell out recently.
Sergio Busquets will play the holding role in midfield that allows Xavi and Iniesta freedom to express themselves, while Messi will be supported in attack by David Villa and Pedro.
Arrrggghhh!!! Less than 4 hours to go, I'mm really nervous now!!
I found a couple of Youtube trailers to get me even more nervous!
Well... it was a GREAT match, if you were a Barca supporter or a neutral! Not so good if you were a Man U supporter!
Barca were quite simply, SUPERB, a delight to watch!!! Man U were totally outclassed. And indeed, THE BEST TEAM WON!
Here are some pics and a couple of reports!
Pep: Messi is the best player ever
PEP GUARDIOLA hailed Lionel Messi as the best player
EVER after Barcelona's Euro supershow.
The Spanish champions demolished Manchester United 3-1 at Wembley to earn a fourth European Cup.
And Argie superstar Messi was once again at his brilliant best, scoring the second and leaving United defenders in his wake all evening.
Barca boss Guardiola said: "Lionel is the best player I've ever seen, probably the best ever. He made the difference.
"Messi is unique, a one-off. I just hope he doesn't get fed up. When he doesn't play well it is because something is wrong with his environment. Let's hope he can continue playing well."
Chelsea target Guardiola insisted his team is a one-off - claiming it would be difficult to find a similar group at another club.
He said: "If you play this football (like Barcelona) you need these players. At another club maybe I would have a problem to find these kind of players.
"I feel privileged to have these players. Everyone has worked towards this. We are very happy."
Lionel Messi lights up Wembley as Barcelona humble Manchester United
Saturday 28 May 2011 21.53 BST
The masterful Argentinian causes havoc and takes his first goal on an English pitch as Barcelona dispatch Manchester United 3-1
So Lionel Messi has finally scored for Barcelona on an English pitch. And how typical that it should have been conjured out of nothing.
The little man was 30 yards from goal when he picked up an apparently innocuous square pass from Andrés Iniesta. As usual, contact with the ball seemed to send electricity coursing through his slight frame. With three touches he had made 10 yards, and Manchester United were just waking up to the danger, with Patrice Evra making a belated sprint to meet the Barcelona No10, when the Argentinian master calmly cocked his left leg and sent a shot past Edwin van der Sar.
How gently he created havoc. Drifting into remote areas away from his notional markers, time and again he opened space for others while giving himself scope for those irresistible surges. This was, in sum, the most effective performance by a deep-lying centre-forward since Nandor Hidegkuti scored a hat-trick in Hungary's 6-3 defeat of England on this same pitch one autumnal afternoon in 1953.
The pre-match ceremonies, rather different from the sort of thing expected half a century ago, included the appearance on the pitch of a hundred or so dancers dressed as City gents, in bowler hats and pinstriped suits and umbrellas, until they stripped off to reveal more informal clothing before reassembling to accompany a trio of rappers.
Luckily, such nonsenses are forgotten as soon as the 22 footballers enter the arena, and you have to wonder why anyone bothers.
The first big shock of the night had come with the arrival of the team sheets, indicating the absence of Carles Puyol, Barcelona's combative captain and defensive spark plug. A product of the academy at La Masia and a veteran of 12 years in the first team, Puyol had played only three games since his partial recovery from a bad knee injury, and is scheduled to have an operation this week. Evidently Pep Guardiola considered him too great a risk over 90 minutes and assigned him to the bench.
"We are surprised because he is a super-expert at big finals," a Spanish journalist said before the kick-off. Winner's medals from one World Cup, one European championship, two European Cups, one European Super Cup and one Club World Cup would provide plenty of evidence for that assessment.
Puyol's replacement in the starting line-up was Javier Mascherano, expensively acquired from Liverpool last summer but unable to displace Sergio Busquets from his role at the base of midfield. The need to improvise a solution recalled the final in Rome two years ago, when Barcelona confronted United with a defence lacking the injured Rafael Márquez and the suspended Eric Abidal and Dani Alves, requiring Puyol to move over to left-back with Yaya Touré slotting into the unfamiliar role of centre-back alongside Gerard Piqué.
On that occasion the Premier League team came close to capitalising on Barcelona's early uncertainties at the back, creating five clear chances in the opening exchanges before Samuel Eto'o, with the Catalan side's first attack, struck the blow in the 10th minute that conclusively knocked the wind out of United's sails.
Eerily, Saturday night's match began with a very precise echo of that match 24 months ago. Or perhaps, given the deeply implanted character traits of these two clubs, it should not have been a surprise to see them repeating many lines from the first act of that drama.
With United pressing all over the pitch, Barcelona had to show patience before establishing their rhythm. Alves was robbed by Park Ji-sung in the opening minute, Busquets had his pocket picked by Javier Hernández inside Barcelona's penalty area, Víctor Valdés put a clearance straight into touch, Messi was dispossessed by Park, Busquets by Antonio Valencia, Pedro by Fábio.
So that was the first nine minutes. And then, just like last time, Barcelona started to play. There was no immediate Eto'o-style bolt from the blue, but gradually they began to find their rhythm with those five-yard exchanges that resemble a game of pass-the-parcel. And as they did so, the difference in styles became more glaringly apparent than ever. The breakdown of a Barcelona move would be followed by the ball whistling back over their heads in a fruitless attempt to find a United attacker, and the whole tiki-taka process would begin again.
All the constructive football was coming from Barcelona, but this time it took them 27 minutes to score. A handful of Messi dribbles and two David Villa shots might have brought earlier rewards, had it not been for desperate defending, before Iniesta prodded the ball straight ahead to Xavi, who squared it to Pedro on the right. Messi had made a decoy run on an inside diagonal, taking Evra with him and leaving Nemanja Vidic helpless to reach Pedro before the forward guided his shot past Van der Sar's left hand.
Seven minutes later Barcelona's defensive flaws were exposed as Wayne Rooney combined first with Fábio and then with Ryan Giggs before meeting the Welshman's delicately weighted return pass with a beautifully judged first-time shot which curled away from the diving Valdés. Giggs appeared to be in an offside position, but Xavi, Iniesta and Messi could only stand and admire the confidence with which Rooney created and finished the move.
Barcelona were quickly back into their pitter-patter stride, with Messi all but irresistible as he dribbled through the middle, turned the ball to Villa on the right, and just failed meet the return as it whistled across the face of Van der Sar's goal.
The second half was more of the same, with Barcelona making United's football look rudimentary, approximate, agricultural. A triumph for artistry, patience, imagination. And not a hint of gamesmanship. Magnificent, actually.