Lionel Messi has finished runner-up to Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2008 Ballon d’Or votings. The predictions finally came true and Ronaldo’s outstanding performances of last season -in which he won both the UEFA Champions League and the English Premier League with Manchester United- have awarded him this prestigious prize.

The votes from France Football magazine correspondents all over the world gave Cristiano the first spot -succeeding Kaká, the 2007 winner- with 446 points. Leo Messi got 281 points, while Spanish striker Fernando Torres obtained 179 points to finish third.

The first in a run of four games against the top teams in the Spanish league saw FC Barcelona claim a conclusive 3-0 win at Sevilla FC’s Sánchez Pizjuán stadium last night.

The game was very physical and tactical in the first half, where Samuel Eto’o scored the only goal that separated the two teams after twenty minutes with a powerful right-foot shot. In the second period Barça controlled the possesssion and ruled the play completely. Leo Messi had more time on the ball and found space playing as a center forward. Messi ended up destroying Sevilla’s defence and securing the victory for his team with two fine goals. After 78 minutes the Argentinian striker beat Palop with a great volley from just outside the box, and near the end of the game he picked up a great through ball from Hleb to round Sevilla’s keeper and score Barça’s third.

This was Barcelona’s tenth straight win away from home. The following league date will see them take on Valencia at the Camp Nou next Saturday.

You can watch Leo Messi’s two goals against Sevilla in our video section.

FC Barcelona scored a conclusive away win over Sporting Lisbon (5-2) yesterday on the fifth date of the Champions League’s group phase. The blaugranas will finish top of their group and thus will play the return leg of their first knockout tie at home.

Barça showed their superiority over Sporting right from the start of the game, once again finding their main attacking asset in Lionel Messi. Leo scored one goal and created another for Thierry Henry before being subsituted in the 57th minute when the scoreline was already 3-0 (the other goal had come through Piqué). Sporting scored two straight goals shortly after thanks to Veloso and Liedson, but an own goal by Caneira and a penalty scored by Bojan rounded off a wide win for Pep Guardiola’s men, who will now be able to focus on the upcoming run of difficult domestic league games against Sevilla, Valencia, Real Madrid and Villarreal.

Note: for some reason I have not been able to access and update the site for the last month. Things seem to be back to normal now. I apologize for the inconvenience. I will try to prevent this problem from happening again in the future.

In a game played under difficult pitch conditions due to the heavy rain in Málaga, FC Barcelona showed great attitude and took a deserved 4-1 away win to reach the top of the Spanish Liga table for the first time in the season.

Barça could not display their usual passing game, but adapted their style perfectly to the conditions of the pitch. Pep Guardiola’s men attacked with intensity and were solid defensively. Leo Messi got one of the goals and was once again a major offensive asset for the team. The other Barça goals came through Xavi (2) and Wellington (o.g.), while Duda scored for Málaga.

Barcelona will next take on Basel in a Champions League fixture to be played at the Camp Nou on Tuesday.

Lionel Messi spoke to the press about Barcelona’s recent form:

We are enjoying ourselves right now. The team is playing good and fast football. We press the opponents high up the field and move the ball really fast when we are in possession. We must take advantage of our current good form, but people must realize it’s impossible to win all the games as easily as we’ve been doing it lately

In other news:

-Football legend Diego Armando Maradona announced yesterday that he will be the new coach of the Argentine national team succeeding Alfio Basile, who resigned recently.

-Barça defeated Benidorm 1-0 away on the first leg of the first round of the Copa del Rey. Pep Guardiola chose to rest most of the team’s regular starters, including Leo Messi, for this game. The goal was scored by Bojan ten minutes into the second period of a match completely controlled by Barcelona.

A fantastic display of football from FC Barcelona ended in a 5-0 victory over Almería tonight at the Camp Nou in the 8th fixture of La Liga.

An on-fire Barça finished off Almería with five goals scored already in the first half. Samuel Eto’o got a hat-trick and Thierry Henry and Dani Alves scored the other two; Leo Messi didn’t score -his two best chances were wrongly ruled out by the referee- but did set up two of Barcelona’s strikes and contributed to the team’s excellent attacking football in the first period. The second half saw the home side lower their intensity and no more goals were added to the score sheet.

This was the ninth straight win for Pep Guardiola’s side, who will next take on Benidorm away on Tuesday in the first leg of the first round of the Copa del Rey.

FC Barcelona cruised to a comfortable 5-0 away win at FC Basel tonight in the third date of the UEFA Champions League’s group stage.

After only 22 minutes of play the scoreline was already 3-0 for Barça, which goes to show how one-sided the game was. Leo Messi got the opening goal after picking up a brilliant pass from Dani Alves, and produced many dangerous moves throughout the whole match. Bojan (2), Busquets and Xavi scored the remaining goals, which means that all five strikes came from players brought up in Barcelona’s youth structure.

Barça head the Group C table with nine points from three games. The Spanish Liga will be back on the weekend, with Pep Guardiola’s team taking on Almería at the Camp Nou on Saturday.

The Spanish first-division football league finally returned from the two-week break due to international encounters, and FC Barcelona maintained their winning ways claiming an important 1-0 victory at Athletic Bilbao.

Pep Guardiola decided to leave Leo Messi on the bench for the entire game. As the coach explained, Lionel was in good condition to play, but he preferred to give him a rest after the demanding games and long trips the Argentine star has been through in the past few days. Xavi was also out of the team due to a slight muscle injury. The game played at Bilbao’s San Mamés stadium was a close affair, with Athletic relying on their traditional spirited style and Barça having to work really hard to get the three points. After a mediocre first half, the second period saw an improvement in Barcelona’s attacking play. In the 63rd minute Thierry Henry made a fine move and set up Samuel Eto’o, who scored the only goal of the night. This win -the team’s fifth in a row- keeps Barça three points behind first-place Valencia CF on the league table. On an unfortunate note, both Keita and Márquez had to leave the pitch injured.

Leo Messi will have a chance to come back into Barça’s line-up on Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League game at FC Basel.

The Chilean national team got their first ever official-match victory over Argentina yesterday in Santiago in the Southamerican World Cup qualifying group.

The team coached by Marcelo Bielsa claimed a deserved win. Argentina’s play lacked organisation and intensity, while the home side were aggresive in their pressing and fast on the attack. Chile missed a number of scoring opportunities, but in the end Orellana’s first-half goal was enough to secure them the points. Leo Messi proved to be the most threatening player on his side, but even so was only able to create a couple of good chances in the entire game.

Chile and Argentina are now level on points (16) on the Southamerican group table after ten games have been played. The next rivals for the Argentinians will be Venezuela (home) and Bolivia (away) in two matches to take place in March 2009.

Argentina got back to winning ways in the 2010 World Cup qualifying stage after goals from Leo Messi and Sergio Agüero gave them a 2-1 victory over Uruguay at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires.

The home side had a great start to the game, scoring their two goals in the first twelve minutes. Lionel Messi got the opening goal finishing a Riquelme cross with a header and then it was Kun Aguero who extended the lead. Lugano scored for Uruguay near the end of the first period. Despite suffering many fouls from the opposing defenders, Leo Messi found space and created danger on the right wing in the first half; the FC Barcelona forward had a quiet performance after the break until he was substituted by Daniel Díaz near the end of the match.

Argentina will next take on Chile in a game to be played in Santiago on Wednesday.

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