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Michelle Ackermann

Michelle Ackermann

Born in South Africa, soccer has always been a part of my life, and was pretty much ingrained in my genes. Journalism is my second love in life, and what better way to combine my two favorite things in life than to write about the one thing I am most passionate about. I follow the New York Red Bulls religiously, but have a deep passion for La Liga. This passion is part of the reason why I have moved to Barcelona to pursue my dream of becoming a sports broadcaster.


Barça Secures Victory Over Benfica, the Fabregas-Saga & the Falcao Threat

Written by on October 2, 2012 | 3 Comments »
Posted in Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, General, La Liga, Real Madrid, UEFA Champions League

Headlines in Spain may still be focused on what many consider “the comeback of Champions”, following Barcelona’s spectacular turnaround from a 2-goal deficit against Sevilla over the weekend in a display that all Blaugrana fans have been waiting for since the season started. Despite their unbeaten record in La Liga thus far, the squad seem to lack that swift and precise play and that may all be to blame on the unseemingly bad luck that has befallen the squad as a string of injuries continues to hamper an already shaky backline…but the breathtaking play by Barça turned the dooming deficit into a vivacious victory with remarkable goals by Fàbregas, and a third by Villa to solidify their spot at the top of La Liga ahead of Sunday’s ‘El Clásico’. Now, with their second triumph in the Champions League race against Benfica, the Barcelona side seems to be well on track in their quest to victory.


 Alexis Steals The Show As Barça Secures Victory Against Benfica

In the much anticipated match of the Group G fixture, Benfica –FC Barcelona, fans finally witnessed a Barcelona side that seemed composed and determined.  Despite the absence of Thiago, the dynamic duo, Messi and Alexis stole the show. It was a superb pass from Messi that found the Chilean striker merely six minutes into the game as Barça took the lead.  With numerous shots from Alexis, perhaps his statement from last week rings true, “The best Alexis hasn’t arrived yet”. Add to that, swift and precise play by Jordi Alba and the Barça side saw a pretty smooth ride to victory against the Portuguese side. Unlike the previous match against Sevilla, Fàbregas refrained from simulation and instead handed Barcelona their second goal in the 55th.

The Barcelona back line seemed slightly more solid with the return of Captain, Carles Puyol, following his last injury, but another nasty tackle close to the 80th minute saw the Catalan back on a stretcher…exiting the field, again.

 Barça Dirty Simulation Rears Its Ugly Head…Again

Despite the quality of FC Barcelona’s display against Sevilla, a shocking simulation by Cesc Fàbregas seemed to make just as many headlines as Villa’s spectacular goal. With twenty minutes left, it was what seemed to be a rather innocent confrontation between Cesc Fàbregas and Gary Medel that would lead to the only red card, and a Sevilla side reduced to 10 men. Upon replay, no one can deny that the ‘incident’ was clearly not one worth showing a red card, but quite simply over the top dramatics by Fàbregas. Reminiscent of the infamous ‘Busquets dirty dive, one must wonder when someone will finally put an end to these ridiculous antics. Perhaps even more shocking was the fact that the referee in this match, Mateu Lahoz, one of Mourinho’s favorites since he barely blows for anything, found the incident worthy of such a punishment. Post-game, Fàbregas stated, “He touched my face with his forehead … if you like, I can do that to you and see what you think.”

 Falcao & The Atletico Madrid Threat

It may be their city rivals, Real Madrid that most consider to be Barça’s biggest threat, but it seems that this time around, the Blaugranas may want to pay closer attention to the lesser notarized, Atletico Madrid.  With star-striker, Falcao, the current goal leader in La Liga, who has had a spectacular start to the season, scoring 7 out of 16 goals during the squad’s first six matches of the season, the Colombian striker seems to be set for a stellar season, if his current form continues. Atletico Madrid, who are merely two points behind Barça in the La Liga standings are nipping at the heels of the Catalan giants. It was Falcao’s fantastic form thus far that led to Atletico Madrid’s President, Enrique Cerezo statement that “He (Falcao) is the best striker in the world… Nor would I want to swap Falcao for Messi or Cristiano, Falcao is the best”. Can Atletico Madrid continue their current form, and if so, may we be in store for a surprise contender this season?

  “Catalonia Is Not Spain” –  Political Tensions Rise Ahead of El Clásico

It is no secret that the rivalry between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid is far more than an athletic one, but now, as the people of Catalonia continue to fight for their independence ahead of next month’s much anticipated election, political tensions from the other side of the world have been thrown into the mix. Mahmoud al-Sarsak, a former Palestinian footballer and former hunger striker, has stated that he will not accept an invitation to watch the El Clásico at the Nou Camp on Sunday. The statement followed news that former Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who spent five years in captivity in Gaza would also be attending the game. The FC Barcelona club representatives have clarified that they had not sent invites to either Shalit or al-Sarsak, but accepted request for them to attend this immense clash of Spanish powerhouses.  At what point will politics remain in a political sphere without interrupting the ‘beautiful game’, or are the two truly inextricably linked?

  Next Stop –El Clásico

“This is a big week for us”, Vilanova stated in a press conference prior to this Champions League fixture. This victory over Benfica may be just what the squad needed to keep spirits high as their next clash is against rivals, Real Madrid. This next meeting between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, one synonymous with dirty diving and antics may be Barça’s biggest challenge yet considering their injured backline, as well as the absence of Thiago. Can Tito find a way to surprise Mourinho and ‘Los Blancos’, or will Real Madrid put an end to Barcelona’s unbeaten streak?

3 responses to “Barça Secures Victory Over Benfica, the Fabregas-Saga & the Falcao Threat”

  1. Ed Gomes says:

    Michelle, I really disagree with some of the statements. Yes, I’m a Benfica fan, but this smooth Barca was far from perfect. In the first half Benfica should have netted one, Lima had to do better, and should have been more clinical due to the talent. Everyone looks like they are parking the bus due to Barca’s ball possession. But they are still very vulnerable to the counter, especially verse a team with pace. Benfica broke out numerous times and could of done better with their set pieces. Valdez was also very fortunate to save Bruno Cesar’s shot, early on. it almost got by him or deflected to Lima.
    Yes Sanchez had missed opportunities as well, and the squad looked “smooth and composed”, but their frailties at the back continue to show themselves. Mascherano, just keeps getting caught and that will cost them.
    I also found it funny, that you said they kept theatrics down. I will say Enzo went down while it looked lie he wasn’t touched. But in that sequence, the slide tackle was harsh and could have done harm with contact. On Barca’s side, Cesc went down in the box early on and then Pedro was carded for simulation. If anything, Barca has gotten much worse at those anctics. I will agree with pundits that Busquets foul wasn’t a red. But I also need to mention that Puyol’s injury wasn’t from a nasty challenge. He came down awkwardly on his arm, but it wasn’t from any intent.

    As for the Sevilla game, there are several issues. I know big teams getbig calls, and i understand it, but Sevilla is no slouch. The red card was ridiculous, and I thought I was watching a game at Old Trafford due to time given. I agree that Sevilla had to find a way to lock that game up, but the Barca influence was visible.

    Let me add that I love watching Barca attack. They are like a machine and beautiful to watch. But when sit on the ball and ticky tack it back and forth with no purpose, it’s boring. Yes, I know the difference between the ticky tack with offensive purpose and when it’s not.

    Atletico needs to get something this season. They are in a financial mess, and will have to sell, not only Falcao but others. Not even sure if CL qualification would stop that.

    Every country has their North vs South rivalry, but its incredible that Spain has three regions fighting. I won’t pretend to get it, I’m sure there’s valid points from all parties. The fact remains that as a species we haven’t develop much.

    El Classico will be full of controversy. At least one red card will come out.

  2. Ed,
    As always, thank you for your feedback and input, appreciated and always welcome. You make a valid point, “far from perfect”..maybe, but in comparison to the form the squad held in the beginning of the season, they seem to back on track to a smoother style of play.
    Of course, you are fully aware that I have repeatedly spoken about Barça’s backline, from the start of the season, and now with Puyol out for another 8 weeks, things are looking grim.
    As for the simulation, valid point, but admittedly, the theatrics and antics were few and far between, nothing like we will see on Sunday, guaranteed.

    As for the political cloud that looms over Barcelona right now, tensions are running high and Sunday’s match will surely be another platform for Catalonia to display their desire for independence. What better platform that millions worldwide?

    As for this red card on Sunday, who do you think will most likely be on the receiving end?

  3. Ed Gomes says:

    There’s the usual suspects.
    At Real; Pepe, Marcelo but I would keep a close eye on Ramos. Either due to show his fighting spirit or stick it to Mourinho.
    Busquets and Mascherano will be closely watched. But for me Cesc has been more than a little feisty with his tackles.

    These games have been so hyped, that frankly, I come away disappointed sometimes when maybe I shouldn’t.

    The Real vs City match was great to watch. I just don’t see that game happening. Yes Barca always makes it difficult, and like Messi said, Real doesn’t need much to score.
    We’ll see.

    Thank you for the kind words. I tend to rant .

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