France was the last nation to go into a tournament as reigning world and European champions, but its efforts to win a first "treble" in international history floundered dramatically after finishing last in Group A at the 2002 World Cup.
David Villa was top goalscorer at Euro 2008 as Spain secured a first major championship in 44 years, but the world champions' all-time leading marksman will not be part of next month's title defense in Poland and Ukraine.
Carles Puyol is poised to miss Spain's defense of their European Championship crown after Barcelona confirmed their captain will be out for six weeks with a knee injury.
Barcelona captain Carles Puyol says Tito Vilanova is "the ideal man" to replace Pep Guardiola as Barcelona coach.
Look around and note who's playing in central defense for the Champions League semifinalists.
Barcelona defender Eric Abidal is to undergo surgery to replace his liver, according to a statement released on the Spanish club's website on Thursday.
A late goal from Eric Abidal gave Barcelona a 2-1 comeback victory in the first leg of their Spanish Cup quarterfinal clash with arch rivals Real Madrid.
Some more postgame thoughts following Barcelona's 3-1 win over Real Madrid in the clásico:
There are still those, remarkably, who ask whether tactics really matter, still those who persist with the Luddite insistence that the best players will win out come what may. No matter that Lionel Messi never produces his Barcelona form for Argentina or that Dani Alves regularly flounders for Brazil, Barcelona, these flat-earthers keep saying, win because they have the best players.
Barcelona and Real Madrid have roared back to form ahead of next week's Champions League challenges, with the Spanish giants recording comfortable victories in La Liga on Saturday.
Ten Champions League thoughts from Round 1 of the Group Stage:
Players in the top two tiers of the Spanish league have announced they are to go on strike for the first two weekends of the season.
FOXBORO, Mass. -- Saturday's game beween the U.S. national team and Spain is expected to draw a crowd of over 60,000. Spain of course, is the reigning World Cup champion and has brought a strong squad, although its missing playmaker Xavi and inspirational defender Carles Puyol. The last time these two nations met was in the 2009 Confederations Cup tournament when the U.S. pulled off a huge upset by winning 2-0 and ending Spain's then 35-game unbeaten streak. Spain's playersare a little tired after a long campaign, but expect both teams to play most of their starters for at least the first half.
On the eve of the Champions League final, here's how Barcelona and Manchester United's projected starting lineups stack up against each other:
Barcelona's team we know; Manchester United's is a matter of speculation, a fact that, in itself, is indicative of two things. First, that Barcelona is the favorite, with such a defined and familiar style of play that, even in this age of rotation, it is possible, as with the greats of the past, to rattle through a first eleven.
There are many things that set this Barcelona team apart from its predecessors. But one which hasn't often been highlighted -- and which is truly striking -- is that this is a more settled side than any other Champions League finalist in recent years. Not just by a little: by a lot.
The tradition of French players at Barcelona is not a strong one. Ludovic Giuly (2006) and Thierry Henry (2009) may have won the Champions League with the club, but more often the story is one of high hopes and failed expectations: Richard Dutruel, Philippe Christanval, Christophe Dugarry and Emmanuel Petit.
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola is warning his side against complacency ahead of their Champions League return against arch-rivals Real Madrid Tuesday.
Coach Jose Mourinho has told his Real Madrid players to heed the wisdom of Albert Einstein ahead of Wednesday's Champions League semifinal first leg against Spanish arch-rivals Barcelona.
Barcelona and Real Madrid lock horns Saturday in the first of four 'El Clasico' showdowns in 18 days which will define their respective campaigns in Spain and the Champions League.
Pep Guardiola said it was the last thing he wanted to see, but no one really believed him. Sure, the trip east won't be much fun, but a matchup against Shakhtar looked like the perfect draw for his Barcelona team in the Champions League quarterfinals.
Dutch striker Robin van Persie has returned to the Arsenal squad for their European Champions League clash against Barcelona on Tuesday.
Here's one man's choice for Barcelona's Team of the Decade, 2000-2010:
And so, after the Barcelona and Real Madrid Teams of the Decade, here's La Liga's finest XI from 2000-2010. First, though, a few things worth noting about all three teams:
Spanish champions Barcelona began 2011 with an 11th successive league victory on Sunday night to move five points clear of title rivals Real Madrid.
Spanish champions Barcelona will kick off 2011 without the services of world player of the year Lionel Messi and key defenders Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique.
In the aftermath of Barcelona's incredible 5-0 win over Real Madrid in the clásico Monday, here are some postgame reflections:
Barcelona ripped apart Spanish title rivals Real Madrid to take top spot in La Liga with an emphatic 5-0 home victory in the first "Clasico" of the season on Monday night.
Barcelona produced a masterful second-half display to come from behind and defeat Valencia 2-1 at the Nou Camp on Saturday.
CNN wraps up the best moments from the FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
It will be an image burned forever into Spain's national consciousness: the sight of captain Iker Casillas in tears after La Roja banished decades of World Cup failure by winning their first title on Sunday night.
The World Cup will have a new winner on Sunday after Spain beat Germany 1-0 to set up a mouthwatering clash with the Netherlands.
The fiesta is on in Spain as fans celebrate their World Cup victory over Germany. CNN's Al Goodman reports.
At last we have a Spanish side in the World Cup final, and what a side they are! 1-0 doesn't tell the story of their dominance, they played like champions and fully deserved it. It's a shame to lose the Germans, but you can't argue with Paul the Octopus, tweets CNN's Matt Booth.
Xavi Hernandez has signed an extended deal with Barcelona that will keep him at the Camp Nou for the rest of his career, the Spanish club have announced.
Lionel Messi netted a double as Barcelona moved ever closer to retaining the Spanish league title with a 4-1 win over Tenerife at the Nou Camp on Tuesday night.
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola is spoilt for striking choice as his side attempt to overcome a two-goal Champions League semifinal deficit against Inter Milan, but faces a defensive poser with captain Carles Puyol suspended.
Real Madrid came from two goals down to beat Sevilla 3-2 in Spain's La Liga and claim top spot in the standings ahead of arch-rivals and reigning champions Barcelona.
Barcelona moved three points clear of Real Madrid in the Spanish league despite dropping their first home points of the season on Saturday night.
Barcelona are desperate to call on the services of Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic for Tuesday's vital Champions League group showdown with Inter Milan in the Camp Nou.
Barcelona have confirmed captain Carles Puyol has signed a three-year extension to his current contract, keeping him at the Nou Camp until 2013.
FULLTIME: It is finished. Spain's 35-match unbeaten streak ends on a frigid night in Bloemfontein, where the United States men's national team has engineered an improbable 2-0 upset of the reigning European champions.
Barcelona vs. Manchester United: Chime with your thoughts on the Champions League final here
Barcelona defender Gerard Pique is backing the Catalan side's devastating attack to come out on top in their battle against Chelsea's mean defense in the Champions League semifinal second leg at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
Barcelona produced a dazzling display of attacking football to rout arch-rivals Real Madrid 6-2 in the Bernabeu and all but secure the Primera Liga title.
Barcelona defender Rafael Marquez is set to miss the rest of the season with the knee injury he picked up in their Champions League goalless draw at home to Chelsea on Tuesday night.
Barcelona moved an astonishing 15 points clear at the top of the Primera Liga table after crushing Deportivo La Coruna 5-0 in a devastating display of attacking football at the Nou Camp.
European champions Spain continued their impressive World Cup qualifying campaign with a comfortable 3-0 away win over Estonia in Tallinn in Saturday.
Let's count the reasons why Germany has no business beating Spain for the Euro 2008 championship on Sunday (ABC, 2:45 p.m. ET):
If it's international-tournament time, that means Spain is officially on red alert. For all of the quality players and international prestige Spain has earned over the years, its national team still can't win when it counts. Its best finish at the World Cup was way back in 1950, when La Furia Roja finished fourth.
BARCELONA, Spain -- I never thought I'd travel 6,000 miles to talk MLS with Carles Puyol. But that's exactly what happened last week, purely through coincidence.
Lionel Messi left the field in tears during Barcelona's 1-0 win over Celtic in the Champions League last week. His latest injury -- a torn thigh muscle -- was a major blow not only for Barça, which will be without its brightest talent for at least six weeks, but it also raised wider questions about Messi's long-term future.
Real Madrid went five points ahead of Barcelona at the top of the Primera Liga, thanks to a scrappy 3-2 win at Recreativo Huelva, where three players were sent off, while neighbors Atletico Madrid beat Barca 4-2.
Julio Baptista scored the only goal of the game to give Real Madrid a 1-0 win at bitter rivals Barcelona -- sending the champions seven points clear in the Primera Liga and ending the Catalan side's 100 per cent home record this season.
Barcelona and Rangers both have 100% records in Champions League Group E after registering impressive away victories on Tuesday.
Barcelona captain Carles Puyol is likely to miss the start of next season after tearing a ligament in his left knee during a post-season friendly against Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa on Wednesday.
Twice World Player of the Year Ronaldinho has been confirmed in a Europe squad to play Manchester United in a jubilee charity match on March 13.
Late last season, Samuel Eto'o was asked the secret of Barcelona's success.
The father of Barcelona captain Carles Puyol has been killed in an accident at work.
Nothing hurts Real Madrid more than having to live in the shadow of arch-rivals Barcelona.
A brilliant second-half strike by Didier Drogba gave Chelsea a 1-0 Champions League victory over holders Barcelona at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
Barcelona got the defense of their Champions League crown off to a dream start when they blew away debutants Levski Sofia 5-0.
Uncapped midfielder Borja Oubina has kept his place in the Spain squad for their opening Euro 2008 qualifiers against Liechtenstein and Northern Ireland.
Espanyol's attempt to have their 1-0 defeat in the first leg of the Super Cup overturned, because they believe Barcelona fielded ineligible players, has been dismissed by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).
Barcelona players Carles Puyol and Xavi will miss Spain's friendly international against Iceland on Tuesday because of minor injury problems following the club's recent tour of the United States.
European champions Barcelona attracted a record crowd of 92,650 to the Coliseum in Los Angeles where they were held to a 1-1 draw by Mexico's Chivas Guadalajara in a friendly game on Sunday.
Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o crowned a memorable season by finishing as the Primera Liga's top marksman with 26 goals as he scored in his side's 3-1 defeat at Athletic Bilbao.
UEFA Cup winners Sevilla have their eyes on a place in the Champions League when they host Barcelona on Saturday.
Barcelona reached the Champions League final for the first time in 12 years on Wednesday after a goalless home draw with six-times winners AC Milan sent them through 1-0 on aggregate.
Group H | World ranking: 5
Spanish rivals Barcelona and Villarreal both rest key men for Friday's Primera Liga clash at the Nou Camp ahead of midweek Champions League semifinals.
Lowly Racing Santander gave Barcelona a fright before the Primera Liga leaders came back to draw 2-2 and restore their 11-point lead at the top of the table.
Barcelona are confident they can recover from a recent barren spell in attack and account for Benfica in Wednesday's home Champions League quarterfinal.
Barcelona midfielder Thiago Motta will be out for two weeks after suffering a thigh strain during the 1-1 draw against Real Madrid, club medical staff said on Monday.
Thiago Motta may miss Barcelona's Champions League home quarterfinal second leg against Benfica after appearing to pull a right thigh muscle against Real Madrid on Saturday.
Barcelona defenders Rafael Marquez and Edmilson will miss the Champions League quarterfinal against Benfica after picking up injuries on Saturday.
A magical goal from Ronaldinho helped Barcelona draw 1-1 with Chelsea on Tuesday to reach the Champions League quarterfinals and avenge their elimination a year ago.
World player of the year Ronaldinho, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and AC Milan's Andriy Schevchenko were named in UEFA's team of the year on Monday.
Barcelona midfielder Mark van Bommel has received the all-clear to return for next week's Spanish Cup last 16 match against third division side Zamora.
Barcelona captain Carles Puyol has extended his contract with the Spanish champions until 2010, the Primera Liga club announced on Thursday.
Spain coach Luis Aragones criticized his players in the aftermath of their shock 1-1 home draw against lowly Bosnia-Herzegovina in World Cup qualifying.
Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard will be hoping the Primera Liga leaders can rediscover their form with a victory over Getafe at the Nou Camp on Sunday.
England captain David Beckham has denied reports he plans to quit international soccer after the 2006 World Cup and says he wants to win a century of caps.
The battle for control of Champions League Group F match begins in earnest on Wednesday when AC Milan face Barcelona at Rome's San Siro stadium.
Arsenal skipper Patrick Vieira misses Wednesday's Champions League clash against Panathinaikos, and is doubtful for Sunday's Manchester United clash.
A 5-0 win over San Marino moved Serbia and Montenegro to the top of World Cup qualifying group five as Spain were held to a goalless draw by Lithuania in Vilnius.
Spain's Joseba Etxeberria will almost certainly miss the Euro 2004 showdown against Portugal through injury, coach Inaki Saez has said.
Juan Carlos Valeron came off the bench to give Spain a 1-0 victory over Russia in their Euro 2004 opener, restoring the order in Group A after Greece's stunning win over Portugal.
Spain hope to shake off their reputation as slow starters when they begin their Euro 2004 campaign against Russia in Faro on Saturday.
Spain coach Inaki Saez omitted strikers Mista of Valencia and Arsenal's Jose Antonio Reyes from his Euro 2004 squad on Thursday, naming eight defenders.
Barcelona stepped up the pressure on Real Madrid in the race for the runners-up place in the Primera Liga after they claimed a 1-0 win at home to Racing Santander.
Real Madrid midfielder Luis Figo can play in this weekend's clash at Deportivo Coruna after his red card in Sunday's 2-1 home defeat by Barcelona was withdrawn.
Barcelona defender Carles Puyol is out of Spain's friendly with Italy on Wednesday after limping out of Barca's clash with Real Madrid on Sunday.
Luis Figo says referees are unfairly punishing Real Madrid following his red card in Madrid's 2-1 home defeat by archrivals Barcelona on Sunday.
Barcelona winger Luis Garcia will miss Sunday's league match against Real Madrid and is set to pull out of the Spain squad to play Italy next week with a groin strain.
Ronaldinho scored a 31st minute goal but was later sent off as Barcelona won 3-1 at lowly Valladolid.
Barcelona defender Carles Puyol will be out for up to six weeks after suffering a fractured cheekbone in the club's King's Cup win over Levante on Wednesday.
Midfielder Alberto Rivera converted a 10th-minute penalty to earn Division Two leaders Levante a 1-0 win over Barcelona in the third round, first leg of the Spanish King's Cup.
Barcelona continued their slide into mid-table obscurity after slumping to a 3-0 defeat away to a lively Racing Santander in the Primera Liga on Sunday.
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