Gerard Piqué

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Barcelona denies using fake social media accounts to bash club legends

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Barcelona issued a lengthy denial of reports that it hired a public relations firm to bash some of its current players.

The PR firm has also denied the allegations in those reports, and the club is threatening legal action against those making the reports.

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Barcelona has been mired in turmoil this season, with director of football Eric Abidal clashing with Lionel Messi as the superstar striker contemplates a summer exit clause in his contract.

The club has also changed managers, and trails Real Madrid by a point for the table lead.

So of what has Barcelona been accused? For one, using a number of social media accounts to compliment current president Josep Maria Bartomeu and take shots at some massive names including current players Gerard Pique and Lionel Messi, as well as a certain famous ex-coach. From Marca:

According to a report by Que t’hi jugues, the company hired by the Catalan club manages up to almost 100 Twitter and Facebook accounts which have attacked individuals such as Messi, Xavi, Gerard Pique, Pep Guardiola, Carles Puyol, Joan Laporta and Carles Puigdemont.

Barca rejected this notion, claiming: “I3 Ventures, a service provider to the Club, has no relationship with the accounts mentioned and, if any relationship were to come to light, the Club would immediately end their contractual agreement and bring about any necessary legal action to defend their interests.”

The club demanded “an immediate rectification” to the reports.

It would be a monstrous and damning story if true, but must be taken with a grain of salt given that Marca has widely been considered a pro-Real Madrid outlet for some time. The allegations seize on the unsteadiness at Barca given the messiness of the season.

Imagine the stupidity of doing such a thing, risking the alienation of a golden era of names that made a generation fall in love with the idea of Barcelona. Couldn’t be true, surely?

Atletico Madrid comes back to stun Barcelona, set up derby final

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We’ve got a Madrid Derby in Saudi Arabia.

Atletico Madrid outlasted Barcelona in a thrilling Spanish Super Cup semifinal on Thursday, the Blaugranas defense a second half shambles.

All five goals came in the second half of a 3-2 decision, Atleti earning a spot opposite Real Madrid in Sunday afternoon’s final.

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Real routed Valencia in the other semifinal.

Atleti is looking for its first Supercup since 2014, while Real won its 10th in 2017. Only Barcelona (13) has won more.

Koke had given Atleti the shot at a Madrid Derby final, but Barca answered well.

Former Atleti man Antoine Griezmann headed in a rebound after Lionel Messi supplied the equalizer with a quick-witted shot in traffic.

Gerard Pique tapped in a would-be third goal after Messi teamed up with Arturo Vidal for a clever free kick routine, but VAR overturned the call.

Atleti then won a penalty on a reckless challenge from Barca goalkeeper Neto, and Morata converted the chance. The Madrid side looked to have a second penalty in three minutes when Morata’s cross appeared to strike the hand of Pique, but VAR did not see a conclusive error.

Barca’s defense remained wide open, however, and Angel Correa raced past the back line and powered a shot through Neto’s hands to make it 3-2 in the 86th.

Messi now has 16 goals and nine assists in 20 matches this season. He has 13 goals and five assists in 18 Super Cup matches.

Pique: Griezmann growing into Barca role ‘little by little’

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This summer, there was plenty of talk that Barcelona’s players wanted Neymar in town and quite the opposite regarding Antoine Griezmann.

The Atletico Madrid star was the player purchased by Barcelona.

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Griezmann, 28, has four goals and three assists in 15 matches, but the bulk of that outlay came in two matches and he’s without a goal or assist in the UEFA Champions League.

A bit different from his 21 goals and 10 assists in 48 matches last season, at least on the goals end, but the Frenchman is settling into a new club and city.

While it’s not like his new teammates think he’s garbage, they aren’t sugarcoating their opinion of his transition nor downplaying their lofty opinion of Barca.

Here’s Gerard Pique, via AS.com:

“Real Sociedad and Atlético were teams who played for Griezmann. That’s not the case at Barca, because the level is higher and he has to find his place in the side. Little by little he’s finding it. He’s got the quality and talent for it.”

Pique also blew off Barca’s extra rest before the new El Clasico date, and talked about Leo Messi’scontract talks as well as his relationship with Sergio Ramos. It’s all here.

Barcelona denounces Spanish court decision on Catalan independence

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Barcelona released a statement criticizing a recent Spanish Supreme Court decision that saw 12 political activists jailed for their role in the 2017 push for Catalan independence.

The statement said that “prison is not the solution” and called the decision “condemnatory.” Instead, the club said that “the resolution of the conflict in Catalonia must come exclusively from political dialogue.”

The political activists were punished for pushing through an October 2017 referendum in Catalonia that resulted in over 90% of the population voting for independence. The referendum was declared illegal by Spain and seen within the country’s political hierarchy as an act of treason.

As one of the biggest social institutions of Catalonia, Barcelona’s statement on the matter carries significant weight both within the region and across Spain. Barcelona games often feature flags and banners calling for Catalan independence. Catalonia has also made a recent push for an independent FIFA-recognized squad, unsuccessful to this point. However, they played their first match inside a FIFA-sanctioned international window this March against Venezuela.

As a result of the court decision, the Catalan Football Federation suspended all its matches for Monday in solidarity with the accused. This includes only clubs and leagues that fall under the federation, which does not include Barcelona, La Liga, or the Spanish national team.

“FC Barcelona also expresses all its support and solidarity to the families of those who are deprived of their freedom,” the club said in the statement. Gerard Pique re-tweeted the social media version of the statement, adding the caption “Proud to be part of this Club.” Pique is a Catalan native and has appeared for the Catalonia national team 10 times.

La Liga roundup: Messi-less Barcelona halted by Osasuna

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Barcelona’s draw and Real Betis’ win highlight Saturday’s La Liga action.

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Osasuna 2-2 Barcelona

With Antoine Griezmann’s magic nowhere to be spotted, Barcelona felt every bit of Lionel Messi’s absence for a second time this season.

Messi has yet to feature for the defending champions this season. Without him, Barcelona are off to a their worst start since Pep Guardiola‘s treble-winning side 11 years ago, earning only four points throughout three matches.

Barcelona’s latest hiccup? A 2-2 draw against a persistent Osasuna.

Osasuna’s game-defining goal came in the late stages, following a penalty call on Gerard Pique. Roberto Morales’ brace concluded a triumphant draw for the home side, that despite being severely outpossessed, managed to create more chances than Ernesto Valverde’s side.

Although the numbers aren’t in their favor, there is a glaring break in the clouds for Barcelona: 16-year-old Ansu Fati, who became the club’s youngest player to score in La Liga. The highly-touted left winger was brought on in the second half, and proved to be pivotal in the Catalonian’s punctured frontline.

With or without Messi, Barcelona host Valencia next, while Osasuna hope to continue their positive run against Real Valladolid.

Real Betis 2-1 Leganes 

For the first time this season, Real Betis have won a game.

With back-to-back losses to start the new campaign, Los Verdiblancos were far from meeting the high expectations that had them bouncing back from a wobbly 2018/2019 season. The team’s transition following a plethora of departures didn’t help the cause.

That continues to be the case for Real Betis, but with players such as summer signing Nabil Fekir, who continues to become more influential with each passing day, things can be different for Rubi’s side this time around.

The 26-year-old Frenchman, who missed out on move to Liverpool last summer, scored the game-winner against Leganes. With Giovani Lo Celso in London with Tottenham, Fekir is seamlessly becoming the ideal replacement: scoring two goals in the first three games La Liga.

The Sevilla based side can benefit from it again with Getafe up next, while Leganes, who are dead last, can learn something from Betis’ perseverance ahead of their bout against Villareal.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Levante 2-0 Real Valladolid

Getafe 1-1 Alaves