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Reigning La Liga champions Barcelona come off the back of an historic year the culmination of which (2009) saw them become the only club ever to win the ‘sextuple’ – La Liga, Copa del Rey, UEFA Champions League, Supercopa de Espana, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club Wold Cup all sat proudly in Barce’s trophy room.
Coach Josep Guardiola will know that the supporters and the powers in the club will hope for similar heights to be scaled during the new season with fresh UEFA Champions League success at the forefront of plans. Despite the failure to secure the services of Cesc Fabregas from Arsenal, who has expressed his interest in playing for the Catalan club, Guardiola has signed Argentinean Javier Mascherano from Liverpool and of course still has the wonderful feet of Lionel Messi at his disposal.
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic having moved back to Inter on a season-long loan after falling out with his coach and Thierry Henry long-since crossed the Atlantic to the MLS, the capture of the much-sought after signature of David Villa is more important than ever. Spain’s World Cup final hero Andres Iniesta will also feature heavily in Barce’s domestic and European fixtures as they seek to hold off bitter rivals Real Madrid especially with Jose Mourinho now in charge at the Bernabeu.
Barcelona should present a significant force both domestically and in Europe during 2010/11. Inspired by the now-legendary Carlos Puyol, expect Barcelona to challenge on several fronts this year.
The club began as a dream of one man, a Swiss in fact, Joan Gamper. Gamper issued an advertisement in a newspaper stating his dream to form a club in the city of Barcelona. On November 29 1899 a meeting was held at the Gimnasio Sole in which eleven players attended, thus giving birth to Barcelona Football Club.
Just before the club went on its winning spree, it was in dire financial condition in 1908, having won just the Campionat de Catalunya once. Gamper finally agreed to become the president of the club and immediately started the task of acquiring more members for the club.
During the period between 1908 and 1925, Gamper became the president of the club on five separate occasions. Gamper slowly increased the club members to more than 10,000 by 1922 and is also credited for acquiring a stadium for the club - the Camp Nou.
It was under Gamper's presidency that Paulino Alcántara was brought to the club. Alcántara went on to become the club's all-time leading scorer with 356 goals under his belt. With the financial situation of the club on the upswing, Barcelona's on-field performances too began to improve as the club won a total of 11 Campionat de Catalunya, 6 Copa Del Rey and 4 Coupe de Pyrenées, a regional competition.
However the club's fortunes changed for worse under the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, when the club was banned from hosting its game after the crowd jeered at the Spanish national anthem. Barcelona played an important hand in the creation of the Spanish La Liga in 1929, winning the inaugural season. The club soon became involved in political battles and the situation worsened during the Spanish Civil War. When the club toured USA and Mexico in 1937, it was proclaimed as the ambassador of democracy in Spain, leading to more than half the players requesting for exile in France and Mexico.
With the success of Spanish Civil War, General Franco began to take a number of strict measures against all those who opposed him, including the football club. In 1939 the Catalan language and flag were banned in Spain, along with the prohibition of using non-Spanish names. The club was forced to change its name to Club de Fútbol Barcelona and the Catalan flag was removed from its shield. However Barcelona continued to be a safe haven for Catalans. In fact the club's stadium was one of the very few places where Catalan language was spoken freely.
In spite of all the troubles the late 1940s and 1950s proved to be some of the most successful years for the club. Barcelona won seven La Liga titles, five Copa Del Rey and a number of other regional trophies.
In 1974 one of the greatest Barca Legend, Johan Cruyff joined the club from Ajax, rejecting a move to rivals Real Madrid citing the club's closeness to the Franco regime. Cruyff soon became a Barca favorite, helping the team win the La Liga title in 1974 for the first time since 1960 along with yet another Copa Del Rey.
Josep Lluís Núñez took over the presidency in 1978 with an immediate task of improving the club's financial condition as well as establish Barcelona as one of the best clubs in the world. The progress was slow and the club won just a solitary La Liga title, two UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and two Copa Del Rey in the first 10 years of Nunez's charge as president.
In 1988 Nunez appointed Cruijff as the new manager and the former player built one of the best teams in the club's history. Cruijff's team was fondly called as the Dream Team and included players such as Josep Guardiola, José Mari Bakero, Txiki Beguiristáin, Jon Andoni Goikoetxea, Gheorghe Hagi, Ronald Koeman, Michael Laudrup, Romário and Hristo Stoichkov.
The team conquered everyone before them, winning four consecutive La Liga titles from 1991 to 1994, two Copa Del Rey, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1991 and the European Cup in 1992. However Cruiyff fell out of favor with Nunez in the final two years of his managerial career at Barcelona and resigned from his position in 1996.
Bobby Robson was appointed as a makeshift manager in 1996-97 season as the club waited for Louis van Gaal to be free for the job. In spite of Robson winning a cup treble, Copa Del Rey, UEFA Cup Winners Cup and the Supercopa de España, that season, he was replaced by van Gaal. Though van Gaal managed to win two La Liga titles in 1998 and 1999 apart from the Copa Del Rey, Barcelona's failure to match Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League saw both Nunez and van Gaal resign from their positions.
Barcelona had a forgettable three years between 2000 to 2003 during which the club struggled both domestically and in Europe. Three managers were appointed and sacked during the period, which saw Luis Figo join arch rivals Real Madrid and the resignation of President Joan Gaspart.
The 2003-04 season saw two new arrivals at the club, the appointment of ambitious Joan Laporta as the president and Frank Rijkaard as the new manager. Both the men made tactical buys which saw the arrivals of Ronaldinho (after a failed very public attempt to lure David Beckham to the Nou Camp) , Deco, Ludovic Giuly, and Samuel Eto'o at the club.
With a mixture of new and experienced players, Rijkaard built a strong team capable of challenging the supremacy of Real Madrid. After consolidating the team in his first season, Rijkaard won the La Liga title in 2004-05 season and went one step ahead with a league and Champions League double the next season.
Barcelona started the 2006-07 season as favorites for a third successive La Liga title. But though the team managed to stay at the top of the league for a majority of the season, injuries to key players such as Eto'o and Lionel Messi in the second part of the season saw the club lose ground to Real Madrid in the later half of the season.
Having lost to Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium and only managing a draw home, Barcelona was behind the arch rivals in terms of head-to-head results. With Madrid showing consistent form in the final part of the season, the El clásico derby proved to be the difference between the two teams as Madrid won the league in spite of being level on points with Barcelona.
The last couple of seasons have seen the arrival and departure of further stars such as Henry, Saviola, Eto’o and Guily. Further silverware has graced the Camp Nou trophy cabinet and Barcelona have continued to build on their reputation as winners.
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Spains’ La Liga is one of the best leagues in the world with some of the best and most exciting players. To watch Barcelona live is to watch one of the best teams in the game. Live Sports Network provides you with live online football streaming of games including the opportunity to watch Barcelona live on Free-Football.TV. There is no reason to miss a minute of the action - online streaming of live footie action including Barcelona is only a click away.
Tags: Barcelona, Copa del Rey, live La Liga, La Liga, UEFA Champions League, Josep Guardiola, Lionel Messi, David Villa, Spanish La Liga, Johan Cruyff, Bobby Robson, Barcelona live