Previous
Juventus
Malmo FF
2
0
FT
Game Details
Olympiakos
Atletico Madrid
3
2
FT
Game Details
Liverpool
Ludogorets Razgrad
2
1
FT
Game Details
Real Madrid
FC Basel
5
1
FT
Game Details
AS Monaco
Bayer Leverkusen
1
0
FT
Game Details
Benfica
Zenit St Petersburg
0
2
FT
Game Details
Borussia Dortmund
Arsenal
2
0
FT
Game Details
Galatasaray
Anderlecht
1
1
FT
Game Details
AFC Bournemouth
Leeds United
1
3
FT
Game Details
Birmingham City
Sheffield Wednesday
0
2
FT
Game Details
Blackpool
Watford
0
1
FT
Game Details
Brentford
Norwich City
0
3
FT
Game Details
Cardiff City
Middlesbrough
0
1
FT
Game Details
Charlton Athletic
Wolverhampton Wanderers
1
1
FT
Game Details
Huddersfield Town
Wigan Athletic
0
0
FT
Game Details
Ipswich Town
Brighton & Hove Albion
2
0
FT
Game Details
Bolton Wanderers
Rotherham United
3
2
FT
Game Details
Reading
Millwall
3
2
FT
Game Details
Colchester United
Sheffield United
2
3
FT
Game Details
Doncaster Rovers
Crawley Town
0
0
FT
Game Details
Gillingham
Peterborough United
2
1
FT
Game Details
Milton Keynes Dons
Bradford City
1
2
FT
Game Details
Notts County
Leyton Orient
1
1
FT
Game Details
Port Vale
Bristol City
0
3
FT
Game Details
Preston North End
Chesterfield
3
3
FT
Game Details
Rochdale
Walsall
4
0
FT
Game Details
Scunthorpe United
Coventry City
2
1
FT
Game Details
Swindon Town
Oldham Athletic
2
2
FT
Game Details
Yeovil Town
Crewe Alexandra
1
1
FT
Game Details
AFC Wimbledon
Burton Albion
3
0
FT
Game Details
Bury
Stevenage
2
1
FT
Game Details
Cambridge United
Exeter City
1
2
FT
Game Details
Cheltenham Town
Southend United
0
1
FT
Game Details
Mansfield Town
Morecambe
1
0
FT
Game Details
Northampton Town
Hartlepool United
5
1
FT
Game Details
Oxford United
Accrington Stanley
3
1
FT
Game Details
Plymouth Argyle
Wycombe Wanderers
0
1
FT
Game Details
Portsmouth
Dagenham & Redbridge
3
0
FT
Game Details
Shrewsbury Town
Carlisle United
1
0
FT
Game Details
Tranmere Rovers
Newport County
0
0
FT
Game Details
York City
Luton Town
0
0
FT
Game Details
Aldershot Town
Braintree Town
1
3
FT
Game Details
Alfreton Town
AFC Telford United
3
2
FT
Game Details
Bristol Rovers
Nuneaton Town
3
1
FT
Game Details
Chester City
Southport
2
0
FT
Game Details
Dartford
Dover
2
1
FT
Game Details
Eastleigh
Forest Green Rovers
2
2
FT
Game Details
Halifax
Grimsby Town
1
1
FT
Game Details
Kidderminster Harriers
Altrincham
4
0
FT
Game Details
Macclesfield Town
Gateshead
1
1
FT
Game Details
Torquay United
Woking
1
0
FT
Game Details
Welling
Lincoln City
2
0
FT
Game Details
Barnet
Wrexham
0
1
FT
Game Details
Rangers
Inverness Caledonian Thistle
1
0
FT
Game Details
Waterhouse
DC United
1
2
FT
Game Details
Cruz Azul
Chorrillo FC
3
0
FT
Game Details
Portland Timbers
Olimpia
4
2
LIVE 76'
Game Details
Independiente Terán
Cerro Porteño
1
0
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Estudiantes La Plata
Gimnasia La Plata
1
0
FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 0
Game Details
Deportivo Capiatá
Caracas F.C.
1
1
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Peñarol
Deportivo Cali
2
2
LIVE 90' +4'
Leg 1
Game Details
Guadalajara
Tijuana
2
0
FT
Game Details
Mérida
Atlante
1
0
FT
Game Details
Puebla
Morelia
2
1
FT
Game Details
Celaya
Necaxa
0
1
LIVE 80'
Game Details
Coras Tepic
Zacatepec
2
0
LIVE 80'
Game Details
Dorados de Sinaloa
Mineros de Zacatecas
2
1
LIVE 34'
Game Details
Monterrey
Santos
2
1
LIVE 78'
Game Details
Toluca
UNAM
2
1
LIVE 68'
Game Details
América Mineiro
Bragantino
0
2
FT
Game Details
Avaí
Sampaio Correa-MA
3
2
FT
Game Details
Goianiense
América RN
2
0
FT
Game Details
Náutico
Joinville
1
2
FT
Game Details
Paraná Clube
Ceará
0
0
FT
Game Details
Portuguesa de Desportos
Boa MG
1
1
FT
Game Details
ABC
AA Ponte Preta
0
2
FT
Game Details
Icasa
Vila Nova-GO
0
1
FT
Game Details
Luverdense
Santa Cruz FC
2
1
FT
Game Details
Oeste
CR Vasco da Gama
1
1
FT
Game Details
Al Hilal
Al-Ain
3
0
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Bidvest Wits
Amazulu
Postp
Game Details
Kaizer Chiefs
Maritzburg Utd
Postp
Game Details
Next

The Unbeatables

FC Reviews Jul 23, 2014
Read

FC Reviews: Six Stickers

FC Reviews Jul 3, 2014
Read

FIFA World Cup - Brazil

FC Reviews Jun 13, 2014
Read

Javier Zanetti: 'Play Like a Man'

FC Reviews Jun 4, 2014
Read

The Hooligan Factory

FC Reviews May 29, 2014
Read

The Class of '92

Blog - FC Reviews Nov 20, 2013
Read

Adidas Copa Mundial

Blog - FC Reviews Nov 7, 2013
Read
Aug 22, 2014

Sergi Samper: Barca's new Guardiola?

Sergi Samper has all the tools to succeed at his disposal.

It is the fabled academy that brought through the likes of Victor Valdes, Carles Puyol, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas. Given time with Lionel Messi from the age of 14, Barcelona's La Masia can also be credited with helping one of the greatest footballers of all time develop. Throughout the season we will take a regular look at some of the next graduates who could make it big.

The first time I saw Sergi Samper play it was a freezing September night at Celtic Park, the kind of autumn weather not common in the Catalan territories anywhere south of the Pyrenees. Barcelona's under-19s were taking on Celtic in the now defunct Nextgen Series, a youth version of the Champions League that worked so well the concept was subsequently lifted by UEFA.

There were a few notable players on show from both sides: Barça's Cameroonian forward Jean Marie Dongou was already bullying opponents; while for the Glaswegians, young striker Tony Watt also showed his class by finding the back of the net. (Coincidentally, a year later he would repeat that feat at the same stadium against Barcelona's seniors.)

But one shone brightest of all: Barcelona's gangly 16-year-old midfielder, Sergi Samper, comfortably kept possession ticking over against players significantly older than him. Confident on the ball and sharp in the mind, Samper's skills were evident.

Being blown away by a young footballer the first time you see him doesn't really mean anything anyway: I'm pretty sure that happened for many when they watched Bojan Krkic score any of his innumerable goals in Barcelona's academy and the new Stoke striker has not made full use of his potential after years out on loan. But, watching Samper again a year later, I was much more confident about his outstanding talent.

It was in the same competition, at yet another ground fit for a senior Champions League clash: Tottenham's White Hart Lane. This time around the Catalan was far more authoritative while playing in a hugely demanding position, that of the midfield pivot -- the glue that holds Barcelona's system together. Only 12 months had passed, but he had improved quite notably. Half a second sharper in his timing and more confident while under pressure, he always seemed to know exactly what he was going to do before receiving possession and subsequently delivered with perfect technique. Those traits are essential in the position, and have been made into an art form by club teammate Sergio Busquets.

Samper is no Busquets, however: he is a very different kind of Barcelona pivot, one much more comparable in terms of his range of passing to the way Pep Guardiola played the role. With a capacity to place a cross-field ball on a sixpence that would make Andrea Pirlo proud, Samper also has the energy required to meet the physical challenges faced by contemporary midfielders. In essence, he is a modern version of Barcelona's No. 4, combining Guardiola's playmaking qualities with the ability to carry out defensive work at a high tempo shown by Busquets.

Having watched Samper countless times in the years since, observing how he has made the step up to second-division professional football, he has steadily overcome each new challenge along the way. Not every hurdle has been cleared at the first time of asking -- settling into Barca B took awhile -- but he has the desire to get back up and try again until he makes the leap, absorbing more valuable lessons each time. Now, the youngster is demonstrating that he is the future of Barcelona's deepest midfield role; the natural evolution of that position, in its formative stage.

The 19-year-old Samper was on show earlier this summer, though if you blinked, you probably missed it. The midfielder was given the chance to play in Luis Enrique's first game as senior Barcelona manager, participating in the second half of a 1-0 win over Recreativo on July 21. While unsurprisingly lacking in match sharpness, Samper still played an important part in the winning goal, though it wasn't necessarily the kind of part most football followers tend to pay attention to.

Barcelona's Sergi Samper
Samper will look to impress Luis Enrique this season after coming a long way since 2012.

It wasn't a pass, or even an interception, that stood out, but what he did without the ball. In the 63rd minute, after showing to receive possession from Marc Bartra in his usual position but ultimately not being obliged by the defender, Samper had the presence of mind to take a quick glance over his shoulder, spotting Ibrahim Afellay dropping back from a more advanced role to pick up Bartra's pass. The Catalan midfielder knew what was coming, and ran diagonally away from his original position to draw the attention of one of the Recreativo players who should have been protecting the area Afellay wanted to carry the ball into. As a result of Samper's movement, the Dutchman had space to drive forward and look for a teammate, finding Gerard Deulofeu, whose spilled shot was subsequently driven home by Joan Roman.

It's no coincidence that coaches at Barca refer to the club's brand of football as "positional play": understanding what is required not only when you are the player in possession, but also when your teammate has the ball is vital. Samper displayed that understanding perfectly in this instance, despite not yet having trained regularly with most of his teammates from that game.

Unsurprisingly, the people behind the scenes at Barcelona have been impressed too. Luis Enrique's mentality is that if you train hard enough and play well enough, you're both old enough and good enough for first-team duty, so Samper has a huge opportunity to alternate Barca B with the seniors this season. The Asturian coach has explicitly demanded a short 22-man first-team squad with all additional reinforcements to come from the academy and, as such, there is an obvious opening for the young midfielder to capitalise on.

With the presence of players like Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Xavi to learn from, Samper can only improve. Faced with another hurdle to be cleared, it would be something of a surprise if he hasn't done so come the end of the season.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.