Numancia got a surprising win over Barcelona (1-0) tonight at the Los Pajaritos stadium in the first game of the 2008/09 Spanish league season.

The local side scored an early goal through Mario and subsequently relied on their good defensive work, aided by the small dimensions of their home pitch. Barça had the possession and always tried to attack; it has to be said that they were unlucky, with shots from Eto’o and Messi hitting the posts of Numancia’s goal, but for the most part the men coached by Pep Guardiola did not manage to pose enough offensive threat to neutralize the local side’s advantage.

Real Madrid also lost in their debut (2-1 at Deportivo), while Atlético Madrid are the first team to sit at the top of the league after beating Málaga 4-0.

19.00 CET – Numancia vs. Barcelona
Los Pajaritos stadium, Soria

The 2008/09 season in Spanish football is kicking off this weekend, with FC Barcelona playing their first league game against Numancia at the Los Pajaritos stadium.

Lionel Messi and his Barça teammates will try to have a good start to the league campaign in a year when the club hopes to return to trophy-winning ways after the disappointing last two years. Pep Guardiola has taken over as head coach and new signings (Alves, Keita, Pique, Cáceres, Hleb) have been made aimed at bringing the team back to the top.

Rivals Numancia were promoted from the Second Division last season and have never been beaten by Barça in the three Liga games played between the two sides at the Los Pajaritos.

Despite losing 1-0 tonight in Krakow, Barcelona won their Champions League preliminary tie against Wisla 4-1 on aggregate and made it to the group stage of the competition. It was a lackluster display by Barça, whose players did not seem to perform at full intensity, probably due to the four-goal advantage obtained in the first leg of the tie.

Leo Messi had not been included in the squad for this game; the Argentine forward returned to Spain right after winning the Olympic gold medal in Beijing, but Barça’s coach Pep Guardiola decided it was best for him to stay in Barcelona preparing for the beginning of the domestic league, to take place next weekend.

Argentina defeated Nigeria (1-0) in the Olympic final in Beijing to claim their second consecutive title in the football tournament of the Summer Olympic Games, after having already triumphed in Athens in 2004. It is also the second international trophy that Leo Messi has won with his country, following the Under-20 World Cup title obtained in 2005.

The game was played under tough conditions mainly due to the high temperature; it was a hard fought affair, with not many scoring chances available for the two teams. The Argentinians always looked more dangerous though, and eventually took the lead ten minutes into the second half: Leo Messi picked the ball in the centre circle and delivered a through pass to Di Maria, who then approached the penalty area and found the net with an excellent left-foot finish over the keeper.

From that moment on Argentina focused on holding on to their lead, but still created danger through the ability and spark of Agüero and Messi. No more goals were scored and the gold medal went to Argentina, the team that proved to be the best throughout the whole competition.

Congratulations, Leo! Congratulations, Argentina!

Argentina got a great win (3-0) over Brazil yesterday in the semifinal of the football tournament of the Beijing Olympic games, and will clash with Nigeria for the gold medal on Saturday.

The Argentinians were the better side throughout the entire game and saw Brazil off with second-half goals scored by Agüero(2) and Riquelme(pen.). Lionel Messi, who had another good performance in the semifinals, expressed his thoughts after the match:

We had a great game. I think we were always in control; we couldn’t score in the first half, but after the break we managed to convert our chances

We are happy now, but the tournament isn’t finished yet. We want the gold medal
15.00 (CET) – 21.00 (China) – Argentina vs. Brazil
National Stadium, Shanghai

Argentina and Brazil will clash today at the National Stadium in Shanghai for a place in the final of the football tournament of the Beijing Olympic Games.

Probably the two biggest favorites to win the gold medal, both sides face the semifinal in a similar physical condition after winning their quarter-finals matches in extra time. The spotlight will be on the FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi and his ex-teammate Ronaldinho as the two try to lead their sides into the Olympic final.

The game kicks off at 15.00 CET. Nigeria and Belgium will be the two teams playing the other semifinal.

Lionel Messi scored a goal and gave an assist to Di Maria in the quarter-finals of the Beijing Oympic Games against the Netherlands.

Date: August 17, 2008
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15.00 (CET) – 21.00 (China) – Argentina vs. Netherlands
National Stadium, Shanghai

Argentina and the Netherlands are clashing with each other today in the quarter-finals of the football tournament of the Beijing Olympics. After having been rested on the last game of the group phase against Serbia, Lionel Messi will make Argentina’s starting line-up today as the team fights to earn a place in the semifinals, which would put them on the verge of securing a medal.

The second game in the group phase of the 2008 Beijing Olympic football tournament saw Argentina get a 1-0 win over Australia at the Shanghai stadium and secure a spot in the quarter-finals of the competition.

The Argentinians had a hard time creating chances throughout the entire game as they clashed against a well organized and defensive-minded Australian team. Lionel Messi and Juan Román Riquelme, Argentina’s two most creative players, were closely marked and struggled to find space. After the break, the Southamerican side progressively started to get closer to scoring as second-half substitute Di Maria provided them with more spark and the Australian defenders started to look tired. Argentina’s goal eventually came fourteen minutes from time, when a brilliant collective play set up by Riquelme, Messi and Di Maria was finished by Lavezzi with a precise right-foot touch to beat the Australian keeper.

Having already booked a place in the knock-out phase of the tournament, Argentina will face Serbia in the last game of the group stage on Wednesday.

Argentina had a good debut in the Beijing Olympic football tournament as they defeated Ivory Coast 2-1 at the Shanghai stadium. Lionel Messi was the most dangerous attacking player for his country and scored the opening goal.

The game was fairly close and both teams had their chances to win. After 40 minutes Leo Messi picked up a through ball from Juan Román Riquelme and sent the ball to the left of the Ivorian keeper and into the goal, giving Argentina the lead. Seven minutes into the second period the African side equalized through a header from Cisse. As time passed the game was looking likely to finish in a draw, but five minutes before the end Sevilla FC player Lautaro Acosta scored the winning goal for the Southamerican side. Acosta got the rebound off the keeper after a shot from Lionel Messi and put it in the back of the net to secure the three points.

The second game in the group phase will see Argentina face Australia on Sunday.

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