Soccer players never get tired of playing the game.

That’s what this page is all about.

Where your FIRST TOUCH SOCCER book ends, the FREE KICK page begins.

It’s a chance for you to learn more about Barcelona … and for me to talk about some of the great stories I couldn’t squeeze into the book.

Scroll down to get the latest news … and to learn more about Spanish soccer. And check out some of the cool collectibles I have in my home.

Enjoy this site, check back whenever you like, and contact me with any questions or comments.

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Breaking News

Lionel Messi
(Photo by L.F. Salas)

What’s up with Barcelona

April 29, 2023: Barcelona defeated Real Betis 4–0 in a match that featured the first game for rising star Lamine Yamal. At age 15, the lightning-quick forward became the youngest player in club history, breaking a record that had stood since 1922.

March 19, 2023: Barcelona beat Real Madrid, 2–1. It marked the 100th victory for Barcelona in their long rivalry.

January 28, 2023: Barcelona beat Girona FC to finish January unbeaten in league play. The club won all of its league games during the month by the identical score of 1–0.

January 15, 2023: Barcelona beat Real Madrid 3–1 in the finals of the Supercopa de Espana (Spanish Supercup). It was the club’s 14th Supercup title. Robert Lewandowski scored the deciding goal just before halftime. Padri and Gavi also scored for Barcelona.

October 01, 2022: Robert Lewandowski scored the lone goal in a victory over RCD Mallorca. It was the fifth shutout in a row for Barcelona and the sixth game in a row in which Lewandowski scored.

November 20, 2021: Barcelona beat RCD Espanyol 1–0 to make a winner of Xavi in his first game as the club’s new head coach. Xavi starred for Barcelona as a midfielder for 17 seasons and scored 13 goals for Spain in international matches.

April 17, 2021: The club won the Copa del Rey for the 31st time behind two goals from Lionel Messi and one each from Antoine Greizmann and Frenkie de Jong. Barcelona blanked Athletic Bilbao, 4–0.

February 27, 2021: Lionel Messi scored one of his club’s two goals in a shutout win against Sevilla. It was the 8th goal of the month for Messi.

January 27, 2021: Barcelona survived a scare against Rayo Vallecano in a Copa del Rey match, scoring a 2–1 comeback victory. Lionel Messi scored the tying goal and set up the winner for Frenkie de Jong with time running out.

August 14, 2020: A fun, high-scoring season ended with a stunning defeat for Barcelona, which lost to Bayern Munich 8–2 in the UEFA Champions League tournament. Superstars Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Antoine Griezmann combined for 67 goals during the season, but only Suarez found the net in the match against Bayern Munich.

February 22, 2020: Lionel Messi scored three times against the Basque club SD Eibar. It was Messi’s third hat trick of the season.

August 4, 2019: Barcelona defeated Arsenal 2–1 to win the Juan Gamper Trophy. Luis Suarez and Frenkie de Jong led the club to victory.

May 29, 2019: Lionel Messi scored his 50th goal of the year in the final match of the La Liga season. Barcelona won 26 times to finish in first place.

February 23, 2019: Lionel Messi scored a hat trick in a 4–2 win over Sevilla. It was the 50th three-goal game of Messi’s career.

October 28, 2018: Luis Suarez scored a hat trick in a 5–1 win over arch-rival Real Madrid.

April 27, 2018: Superstar Andres Iniesta announced that the 2017–18 season would be his last as a player. He joined FC Barcelona 22 years earlier.

April 14, 2018: Barcelona defeated Valencia to set a new league record by going 39 games in a row without a loss.

March 14, 2018: Lionel Messi scored his 99th and 100th goals in Champions League competition during a 3–0 victory over English club Chelsea.

January 6, 2018: The club made a deal with Liverpool FC to acquire star midfielder Philippe Coutinho, one of the game’s top playmakers. His nickname is The Little Magician.

December 23, 2017: Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi, and Aleix Vidal scored goals in a 3–0 shutout of defending league champion Real Madrid.

December 10, 2017: Lionel Messi scored his 525th goal for Barcelona, equaling Gerd Muller’s record for the most goals scored by a European player for one club.

November 25, 2017: The club signed Lionel Messi to a new contract that will keep him in a Barcelona uniform until 2021.

October 18, 2017: During a 3–1 victory over the Greek club Olympiacos FC, Lionel Messi scored the 100th goal of his career in European competition.

September 18, 2017: Lionel Messi scored his second hat trick in three games, scoring four times in a 6–1 victory over S.D. EIbar.

April 23, 2017: Lionel Messi scored two goals against Real Madrid in a 3–2 victory. His winning goal in stoppage time (the few extra minutes referees add at the end of a half) was his 500th for Barcelona.

La Liga & Copa Del Rey

Copa del Rey
(Photo courtesy of ACruz319)

  • Barcelona plays in La Liga, which is Spanish for The League. There are 20 clubs in La Liga. Each plays 38 games—one home and one away against the other 19 clubs. The teams with the poorest records are moved down (or “relegated”) from the Primera Division (First Division) to the Segunda Division (Second Division) of Spanish soccer. A playoff helps to decide the clubs that move up to replace them.

  • Each year, Spanish soccer clubs compete in a tournament for the Copa del Rey (King’s Cup). Fans call it “La Copa” for short. Barcelona won La Copa for the 28th time in 2016—more than any other club.

Collector’s Corner

Laszlo Kubala
(© Rikard Magazine)

(© Futera FZ)

Neymar Jr.
(© Panini)

More treasures from the author’s collection!

  • Jose Samitier — Midfielder
    Jose Samitier was one of Barcelona’s first great players. So many people wanted to see him in the early 1920s that the club had to move to a bigger stadium. Samitier could shoot equally well with either foot, and scored many goals on headers. He scored 333 goals for Barcelona during his career.

  • Laszlo Kubala — Forward
    Laszlo Kubala fled Hungary after World War II and played his first league match with Barcelona in 1951. Over the next 10 seasons, hardly a game went by when he did not score a goal or set up one of his teammates. In 1958, Kubala helped to bring two fellow Hungarian stars—Sandor Kocsis and Zoltan Czibor—to the club.

  • Migueli — Defender
    With Migueli (Miguel Bernardo Bianquetti) anchoring its defense, Barcelona won 11 major trophies, including the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1979 and 1982. Migueli had a rock-solid body and a booming shot. Fans nicknamed him “Tarzan.”

  • Johann Cruyff — Forward
    In 1973, Barcelona paid more than $2 million for Dutch star Johann Cruyff. At the time it was the highest transfer fee in the history of soccer. Cruyff saw the game and played the game like no one else. He made Barcelona one of the great teams in Europe, first as a player and later as a manager (head coach).

  • Pep Guardiola — Midfielder
    Josep “Pep” Guardiola signed with Barcelona at the age of 13 and worked his way up to the senior team while he was still a teenager. Guardiola was a creative passer and great defensive player. He became team captain in 1997 and later used his knowledge of soccer to become a winning manager for Barcelona.

  • Rivaldo — Midfielder
    Rivaldo (Rivaldo Vítor Borba Ferreira) used his dribbling and shooting skills to become Barcelona’s most dangerous scorer for five amazing seasons. He is most famous for scoring on an overhead bicycle kick at the end of the 2001 season. The goal helped Barcelona qualify for the Champions League.

  • Neymar Jr. — Forward
    Neymar Jr. (Neymar da Silva Santos Junior) joined Barcelona for the 2013–14 La Liga season and showed he was worth every penny of his enormous transfer fee. He drove defenses crazy by attacking from every part of the field. His explosive speed makes him a threat to score whenever Barcelona has the ball.

Fun Facts

Johann Cruyff
(© Barratt Ltd.)

Did You Know?

• Before Lionel Messi became Barcelona’s goal-scoring king, Paulino Alcantara held the record with 369. He scored those goals in just 357 games. Alcantara played for Barcelona from 1912 to 1927.

• In 1936, many Barcelona players picked up rifles to fight for freedom in Spain’s bloody Civil War.

• In 1986, Barcelona drew more than 120,000 fans to a European Cup match against the Italian club Juventus.

• Barcelona’s youth academy trains hundreds of players each year. It was started by Johann Cruyff. Its “graduates” include Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, and Xavi Hernandez.

• In 2009, Barcelona became the first club to win a “sextuple” (six titles in the same season): La Liga championship, Copa del Rey, Spanish Super Cup, European Super Cup, Champions League, and Club World Cup.

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