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Mourinho plays down Messi effect, says team makes Barcelona successful

Barcelona after a treble winning campaign last time around are is prime position to repeat the feat this season.

They are 8 points away from Atletico Madrid at the top of the La Liga points table and are already into the final of the Copa del Rey.

And recently they beat Arsenal in the Round of 16 of the Champions League 5-1 on aggregate moving into the quarter final of the tournament for the 10th consecutive time.

It helps when the front line consists of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar Jr but ex-Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho felt that the great amount of success that the Catalan giants have enjoyed in recent times was up to the whole team.

The trio all scored a goal a piece at the Camp Nou against Arsenal in the 3-1 victory and Mourinho explained that these results come firstly from their team ethic – and not their individual superstars.

“First of all it’s about individual players,” he said in an interview with BT Sport .

Lionel Messi now has 26 title to his name in his time at Barcelona and has three Champions League trophies in this time. The Portuguese mastermind pointed out that the three trophies were won under three different managers and has showed his quality over the years.

“Just to give you an example, Messi won the Champions League with three different managers,” he added.

He went on to say that though individual player and their performances are important for the team, it is the combination of the team as a whole that wins trophies.

He exclaimed that a team is always bigger than an individual star and added that he will always be a team manager.

“I am a football team manager. I know that sometimes people think that the individual is more important than the team,” he said.

“But when I feel that it is time for me to take a permanent holiday – I still think that the team is more important than anything,” he added.

However, when you have three players who have more goals than any other club in Europe, it is always going to be easy to get through times. And Mourinho was quick to admit that the individual performances make a huge difference.

He added, “But the obvious reality is that there are some players who can make a difference.”

Mourinho is presently without a job after being sacked away from the Stamford Bridge and is widely expected to take over Manchester Untied at the start of the next season.




Hazard scores a Messi-like goal in training ground
Hazard scores a Messi-like goal in training ground

Hazard equals Messi with training ground stunner

Eden Hazard is going through a rough patch this season, but the Chelsea star has certainly not lost his skills – if this chip is anything to go by.

The Belgian forward was seen at Chelsea’s training base in Cobham on Friday netting an outrageous curling effort from an impossible angle, which happens to be just like the stunning goal that Lionel Messi recently scored during a training session with Barcelona last month.

Hazard hit the ball with the outside of his right foot – while Messi netted his effort with his left foot – which then quickly flew towards the far post of the goal and rolled slowly into the back of the net.

After seeing this extraordinary clip, Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink will be hoping that Hazard can recreate his skills along with his goalscoring touch on Saturday when Chelsea welcome Stoke City at Stamford Bridge.

Despite several rumours linking him to a move away from Stamford Bridge this summer,  in an interview with Chelsea TV, the Belgian playmaker, who penned a five-year contract last season, insisted he sees his long-term future at Stamford Bridge and said he is happy to stay at Chelsea and wants to help his team to win more trophies.

Following a poor start to the campaign, Hazard managed to come to alive in recent weeks and scored his first two goals of the season – although, none of which have come in the league, while creating four others for his teammates.

Last season’s PFA Player of the Year will also have some added incentive to go on with his revival, as his younger brother Thorgan admitted this week that Eden will have no other choice but to buy dinner for him and their youngest sibling Kylian if he fails to score more goals and get more assists than them this season.

Watch Hazard score his stunning training ground goal in the clip below.

Messi hattrick
Messi scored a hat-trick

Messi’s hat-trick in Barcelona’s 5-1 thrashing of Rayo Vallecano

Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick as FC Barcelona restored their eight-point lead over Atletico Madrid and 12-point advantage over Real Madrid at the top of the La Liga following a comfortable 5-1 win away over Rayo Vallecano, who finished the game with nine men.

Ivan Rakitic opened the scoring after 22 minutes when Rayo keeper Juan Carlos dropped a straight-forward cross to allow the Croatian to score a simple goal, reports Xinhua.

Messi doubled Barcelona’s lead just a minute later after a counter-attack. The Argentinean took a pass from Neymar to score with a first time shot, although the goal should not have stood as Neymar was slightly offside at the start of the move.

The league leaders’ task was made significantly easier just before the break when Rayo defender Diego Llorente was sent off for a high tackle on Rakitic, although he was unlucky as TV replays showed he had clearly got to the ball well before his momentum carried him into the Barcelona midfielder.

Rayo are a brave side and kept on trying in the second half with Barcelona happy to create chances on the break. Messi netted his second of the night after Suarez had hit the post after another counter-attack eight minutes after the break.

Manucho gave the home side a reward that their attitude deserved when he scored a close-range header just four minutes later.

Ray were down to nine men with 20 minutes remaining as Manuel Iturra was deemed to have denied Barcelona a goalscoring opportunity as he brought down Sergio Busquets, only for Luis Suarez to miss yet another penalty.

It mattered little as Messi scored his third of the night three minutes later after getting through the Rayo defence and Arda Turan headed a fifth in the 86th minute.

Djokovic, Bolt, Messi lead Laureus Awards nomination
Djokovic, Bolt, Messi lead Laureus Awards nomination

Djokovic, Bolt, Messi lead Laureus Awards nomination

Beijing, March 3 (IANS) The nominees for the 2015 Laureus Awards were announced with 2014 winner Novak Djokovic, Usain Bolt and Lionel Messi featuring in the category of Best Male Athlete of the Year.

China’s Liu Cuiqing was nominated for the disability category on Wednesday with Boccia player Leung Yuk Wing from Hong Kong also in this category. The 17th edition of the Laureus World Sports Awards will be held on April 18 in Berlin, reports Xinhua.

Djokovic, who won three Grand Slam titles last year, Bolt, who won three gold medals at the World Athletics Championships, and Messi, who won the 2015 Ballon d’Or, are joined by Formula 1’s Lewis Hamilton, American basketballer Stephen Curry and golfer Jordan Spieth.

In the best female athlete category, 2015 winner Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia was again named along with Jamaica’s 100 metres World Champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, American tennis star Serena Williams, who came close to winning all four Grand Slam titles, Alpine skiing World Champion Anna Fenninger of Austria, US swimmer Katie Ledecky and American footballers Carli LLoyd.

New Zealand’s rugby team, the All Blacks, are in the running for the team award having successfully defended their crown at the 2015 World Cup hosted by England.

Liu, a 24-year-old visually impaired athlete, won four women’s T11 titles at her first ever World Championships in Doha. With guide Donglin Xu, she beat favourite Terezinha Guilhermina, the World and Paralympic champion. She comfortably won the 100m, set new Asian records in 200m and 400m and was part of the winning women’s 4x100m T11-T13 relay team.

Zico hails Messi ahead of Arsenal showdown
Zico hails Messi ahead of Arsenal showdown

Zico hails Messi ahead of Arsenal showdown

Brazil legend Zico has made a sensational claim, according to him Lionel Messi is on the brink of becoming the greatest footballer of all-time as Arsenal prepare with all they have to face the Barcelona superstar.

Messi and his teammates head to the Emirates Stadium to challenge the Gunners in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday, with his attacking colleagues Luis Suarez and Neymar also certain to be a major threat in London.

Now former Brazil playmaker Zico thinks Messi as accomplished a player as there has ever been.

“He is starting to surpass the level of Pele, Garrincha, [Johan] Cruyff, [Franz] Beckenbauer and [Diego] Maradona,” Zico told Barca TV.

The Argentine maestro recently emerged as the first player to reach 300 league goals milestone in Spain and at the age of 28 he could have many years left in the game.

He has always delivered against Arsenal in the past, most notably when scoring four at the Nou Camp against Arsene Wenger’s boys in 2010.

With Suarez and Neymar now providing more threat, Zico believes the worst for Arsenal awaits over the two legs.

“The trident is fantastic because they play as a team and suit each other perfectly,” Zico said, according to Barcelona’s website.

“Barca are favourites both in London and at Camp Nou.”

The first time Messi could have featured against Arsenal was on May 17, 2006, in the famous Champions League final which Barcelona managed to win 2-1. However, he did not start, having been injured earlier on, and Rijkaard didn’t want to take risk with him.

In 2009-10, with Guardiola at the dugout, he played, in a 2-2 draw in London – Ibrahimovic scored both goals. In the return leg, Messi scored stunning four goals. 21, 37, 42 and 88 were the minutes he found the net, following Bendtner’s opener.

In 2010-11, Barcelona suffered a 2-1 loss in the quarter-finals to Arsenal in London, with Messi setting up David Villa for their goal. But, back in Spain, the story was completely different. He scored a brace (45+3, 71), and Barcelona won 3-1.

This current Barcelona attacking force has become something else. Last season Messi, Suarez and Neymar scored 145 goals between them. This season they have already raced to a stunning 91. Very few expect Arsenal to neutralise them. Indeed, if you move on with £100 on Barcelonato score at the Emirates on Tuesday night, you would win only manage to win £11 off the bookies if they succeeded.

Meanwhile, despite Zico’s strong admiration for Messi, he has claimed next year the football world could see his Barcelona teammate clinch the FIFA Ballon d’Or award.

He said: “It would not be surprising at all if Neymar was named the best player in the world.”

MSN the best I've played with: Barcelona's Alves
MSN the best I've played with: Barcelona's Alves

Messi, Neymar still doubtful for Club World cup final

Yokohama, Dec 19 (IANS) FC Barcelona striker Lionel Messi trained here on Saturday with his teammates for the first time since being diagnosed with renal colic, an abdominal ailment that forced him to miss his team’s 3-0 win over Guangzhou Evergrande in the semi-final of the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup. But Barçelona head coach Luis Enrique did not say at a press conference in this central Japanese city whether the Argentine football superstar would be cleared to play in Sunday’s final against Buenos Aires-based club River Plate, reports Efe.

Messi appeared to be practicing normal during the 15 minutes of the session open to the media and later did some solo ball-control drills. Although the club has not provided any official word on Messi’s status, the player has already passed a kidney stone and is believed to be awaiting word from doctors on whether any remnants need to be removed.


Brazilian superstar Neymar also took part in Barcelona’s training session at the International Stadium Yokohama after being out since December 8 due to a minor leg injury, but Enrique also gave no guarantees that he would play on Sunday. No announcement from the club about whether or not these forwards will take the field against River Plate is expected until minutes before the match at that same venue.

Yet another South American striker, Uruguayan Luis Suarez, led the way for Barcelona against Guangzhou Evergrande in Thursday’s second semi-final, scoring all three goals. River Plate defeated Japanese club Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0 in Wednesday’s first semi-final, played at Nagai Stadium in Osaka.

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