Saturday, 6 September 2008

Vilanova talks (1): "I'm convinced we'll win the Liga"

Barcelona assistant coach Tito Vilanova talked in an interview with Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo about the team and the season so far.

What is your function?
Together with the other members of the staff, I organize the training session, I prepare the matches by watching videos of the opponents and I advise Guardiola.

Why are you convinced that Barcelona will win the Liga?
Because I see the players train every day with a lot of motivation. You don't have to talk to them about their attitude, maybe even the opposite. Gudjohnsen for example didn't have to come to the training on Monday but he had a very good voluntarily session.

Which quality of Guardiola will make the group overcome the last two defeats?
One defeat as I'm concerned, because I see the Wisla game as a 4-1 win. Pep loves football, he knows this club better than anybody and he knows what he wants to do and how he wants to do it. He knows how to motivate the players at the right moment.

Being a man of the club gives him more credit?
No, at the contrary, it never has. Someone coming from outside would have been given more credit. And certainly with the current sitution, there's no margin for errors.

The 1-0 against Numancia was an unexpected blow?
We knew that they would give us the whole pitch and they had the luck that they could score soon. It wasn't easy, but to say it simple, it's a reality that we had five or six clear chances that could easily have lead to three or four goals.

Have you seen that the group took a lack of confidence in away games with them from last season?
I would like to link the game in Poland to the 4-0 of the first game, which makes it a different game. In both games we created ten clear chances. With Eto'o, Messi, Bojan and Henry, you normally score three or four goals then. Against Numancia the problem was that we wanted too much instead of waiting and being more calm.

The player who is the least patient waiting for the ball is Messi?
Today there are no natural wingers anymore because we play a different system than all other teams in the world. The other clubs don't need wingers, so they just don't exist. We put players on the wing because they can play there but at the same time they are more used to play in the centre. Leo did quite good what we asked from him during the pre-season.

In the coming days, you'll have the other parts of this interview with Vilanova talking, amongst other things, about the 4-3-3 system and the position of Thierry Henry.

Eto'o training on his own

Because he missed two training sessions earlier this week due to a charity/personal trip to Africa, Barcelona forward Samuel Eto'o had to train on his own yesterday afternoon and this morning.

Because of a suspension, Eto'o cannot participate in a World Cup qualifier with Cameroon this weekend.

Youth: Juvenil A and Juvenil B squad lists

Barcelona has officially announced the squad lists of the Juvenil A and Juvenil B youth teams.

Juvenil A and Juvenil B are the two highest youth teams. Juvenil A players are in theory born in 1990 although players can be promoted to a higher category. Juvenil B players are normally born in 1991.

Juvenil A (1990)

Diego José Gómez Heredia 12-02-90
Marc Martínez Aranda 04-04-90

David Álvarez Vázquez 'Polaco' 19-02-90
Marc Bartra 15-01-91
José Julio Jurado 23-01-90
Martín Montoya 14-04-91
Álex Bolaños 06-01-90
Marc Muniesa 27-03-92
Pere Segarra 15-01-90
José Carlos Terrón 12-04-91
Cristian Valle 10-02-90

Franco Fasciana 09-05-90
Ilie Sánchez Farres 21-11-90
Sergio Maestre García 18-11-90
Jonathan Dos Santos 26-04-90
Oriol Romeu 24-09-91

Adrià Carmona 08-02-92
Anselmo Eyegue Nfono 05-09-90
José Luís Gómez Hurtado 17-08-90
Rubén Rochina 23-03-91
Gerard Zambudio 13-09-90

Juvenil B (1991)

Carlos Castarnado 26-12-92
Sergi Pagés 09-03-92
Alejandro Sánchez Benítez 'Alex' 03-02-91

Adrià Blanchart 19-03-92
Albert Dalmau 16-03-92
Sergi Gómez 28-07-92
Carles Planas 04-03-91

Ivan Balliu 01-01-92
Javier Espinosa González 'Javi' 19-09-92
Luis Gustavo Ledes Evangelista Dos Santos 28-09-92
José Palau 24-02-92
Dennis Krol 27-03-91
Martí Riverola 26-01-91
Sergi Roberto 07-02-92
Jonathan Rodríguez 'Jhony' 09-07-91
Oriol Rossell 07-07-92

Luis López "Ckiki" 18-10-91
Brian Canalejo 29-05-92
Armand Ella Ken 23-02-93
Gael Junior Etock 05-07-93
Mauro Emanuel Icardi 19-02-93
Manuel Reina Carpintero 'Manu' 07-05-92

Barça B - Match report: Santa Eulalia

The surprise in the Barcelona line-up was the replacement of last season's first choice goalkeeper Oier by Rubén Miño who has been promoted from the Juvenil A team this summer.

Miño, Córcoles, Romeu, Joni, Espasandín, Abraham (59 Thiago), Xavi Torres (59 Longás), Busquets, Nolito, Maric, Jeffren (75 Rayo)

See the further match stats here

Barcelona clearly dominated the first half with an advanced back-line and a midfield that controlled the game but the ball possession didn't lead to an advantage on the score board. Santa Eulàlia was well-organized behind the ball and Barcelona could only create a few opportunities.

While Jeffren didn't seem to be around, Nolito was very active and had a first chance at the beginning of the match. After 15 minutes, an impressive 30 metres shot by Xavi Torres was deflected in corner. Two minutes before half-time, Maric scored but the goal was cancelled because of an unclear off-side.

Santa Eulàlia started stronger in the second half and at the sideline coach Luis Enrique showed his disappointment about the attitude of his team. The Barcelona midfield lost control and had difficulties to take out the counter attacks of Santa Eulàlia. Miño had to make three good saves in the second half, one of them after a mistake by Joni.

With Longás and Thiago entering the game after fifteen minutes in the second half, Barcelona seemed to regain the control of the match. A shot by Nolito was held. Ten minutes before the end of the match a great run on the right wing followed bu a good cross lead to the opening goal by Tino. Barcelona tried to score the equalizer but a powerful shot of Thiago went wide and five minutes in extra-time a good chance by Nolito was saved.

Luis Enrique said at the press conference after the match that he expexts much more of his players: "It's true that we had a lot of ball possession but there was no intensity, no attitude and no ambition and you cannot win a game like that. We were superior but we only had one real chance: the goal by Maric that was cancelled.

The opponents didn't do much in the first half and in the second they scored out of one of the three or four counter attacks they had. You can't say much about it, you have to congratulate them with the result.

Now we have to learn from our mistakes, I will try to convince the players that motivation is everything. Technically they're all very talented but this doesn't lead to anything if you don't show that on the day of the match."

Miño 6

Córcoles 5
Romeu 4
Joni 4
Espasandín 4

Abraham 4
Xavi Torres 5
Busquets 5

Nolito 6
Maric 4
Jeffren 5

Thiago 5
Longás 4
Rayo 5

Poll result: Who should be our left winger?

This is the final result of this blog's Who should be our left winger? poll:

38% ... Hleb
18% ... Iniesta
14% ... Pedro
12% ... Henry
10% ... Bojan
8% .... Somebody else / Don't know

Victor Sanchez available for B team

Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola has agreed with his Barcelona Atlètic colleague Luis Enrique that Barcelona Barcelona polyvalent defender and midfielder Víctor Sánchez (20) will be available for the B team this weekend.

Because of the Liga break and the fact that the player lacks match rhythm after some injury problems during the pre-season, Víctor Sánchez, who was promoted to the first team this summer (read more here), returns temporarily to Barcelona Atlètic and trained already with the team on Friday.

Barcelona Atlètic assistant coach Joan Barbarà told the club's official media that the staff was satisfied to be able to count on Víctor Sánchez: "We receive him with open arms. Every player who joins us from the first team can help us. Guardiola and Luis Enrique talked about the issue and because the first team doesn't play this weekend they decided what they think is best for everyone.

For us it's clear at which position he could play, but we don't want to reveal this now. We all know that Víctor can play and perform well at several positions. So wherever he will play, he will add something."

Read more:

Ex-Barça: Gerard without a club

Although it was rumoured earlier this summer that former Barcelona player Gerard López (29) had signed a two-year deal with Greek club PAOK Saloniki, the Catalan midfielder is still available on a free transfer after Recreativo Huelva decided not to use the option to extend his contract for another season.

The player is currently training with local Catalan club Granollers, the club of his hometown.

Gerard came through the Barcelona youth ranks but left the club for Valencia in 1997. Three years later, newly elected Barcelona president Joan Gaspart bought the player back for a transfer fee of over 20 million euro. The Catalan midfielder joined Monaco on a free transfer in the summer of 2005. With Barcelona, Gerard won one Spanish league in 2005.

Read more:
Ex-Barça: Giuly to Paris Saint-Germain
Ex-Barça: Antic to Serbia
Ex-Barça: Overmars to Go Ahead Eagles

Already pre-agreement with Keita in December

New Barcelona midfielder and Mali international Seydou Keita (28) has revealed in two interviews last month that Barcelona already contacted the then Sevilla player in December about a tranfer this summer.

In an interview with French football site Foot Mercato, Keita stated that Barcelona was already working on his transfer for a long time: "I had already advanced contacts with Barcelona last December. It's always difficult to predict if a deal will go through but Barcelona wanted me and they knew I had a buyout clause. Of course it also depended on my performances.

Barcelona was already interested in me when I was playing for Lens and I was close to signing but in the end they prefered other players. Last december they came back because of my good season at Sevilla. The contacts were still there and since I had proven myself in the Liga, they made a quick decision. They weren't the only ones interested though. Juventus and Real Madrid also contacted me but I had given my word to Barcelona and didn't want to change that."

Keita kind of repeated the story in an interview with Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo a few weeks later: "Since I was a little boy I especially followed Barcelona and Marseille and I liked players like Romario, Koeman and Stoichkov. I knew that I would arrive here one day. When I was still playing for Lens, Txiki Begiristain already contacted my agent and tried to transfer me. And although I went to Sevilla, it was clear for me that my intention remained to come here.

Last December Txiki contacted us again and here I am. There were other clubs interested in me, amongst which Real Madrid and Juventus, but for me there was only one possible destination: Barcelona. It's a special club and for me without any doubt the best one there is."

Read more:

Robinho can play role in next presidential elections

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Manchester City left winger and Brazilian international Robinho (24) could become the secret weapon of former Barcelona sports vice president Sandro Rosell in the race to the Barcelona presidency in 2010.

This would also be possible because, when Madrid sold Robinho to Machester City earlier this week (read more here), they forgot to include in the deal a clause that makes a return of the player to the Spanish league impossible.

Read more:

Friday, 5 September 2008

Poll: Who should be our left winger?

Will there be a 'Barcelona USA' in 2011?

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona is looking at the option of creating a sister team in the Major League Soccer (MLS), the professional league in the United States and Canada.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta and Barcelona official Joan Olivé travelled to Miami on Wednesday planning to meet with a North-American businessman who wants to apply for an MLS franchise that would carry the name of Barcelona.

Because of the financial implications this could have, Barcelona is willing to listen to the offer. Although the talks are still in an initial stage, the first contacts between the two parties would have lead to certain optimism about the final outcome and to this week's trip.

Laporta and Olivé are also expected to meet with MLS officials to discuss the possiblities and the economic consequences of such a franchise. American television network Univision claims that the new team could be named 'Barcelona USA'. Mexican club Chivas already made a similar move by creating Chivas USA back in 2004.

At this moment there are fourteen MLS teams divided between the Eastern and Western Conferences. MLS plans on expanding to 18 teams by 2011. However, only two of the four new teams (Seattle Sounders and Philadelphia) have been officially announced.

Di Maria and Arshavin will be monitored

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona will be closely monitoring the situation of Benfica left winger and Argentinian international Angel Di María (20 - picture, on the right) and Zenit Saint-Petersburg forward and Russian international Andrei Arshavin (27).

Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola is aware that his squad lacks a left winger and if he cannot solve this problem with the current players, Barcelona will probably sign a player for that position during the January transfer window.

That's the reason why Barcelona will follow the performances of Di María, who would have the advantage that he will still be able to participate in the Champions League next year, and Arshavin over the coming months. Boca Juniors forward and Argentinian international Rodrigo Palacio (26) would be a third option.

Read more:

Marquez never thought about leaving

Asked about the rumours at the beginning ofthe summer that he could have to leave (read more here), Barcelona central defender and Mexican international Rafael Márquez (29) has said in an interview with Spanish news agency EFE that his first choice has always been not to leave:

"My priority has always been to stay with Barcelona. I know that there were rumours spread by the press but nothing was sure. No club official nor the manager talked to me directly about having to leave.

Of course when a new coach arrives, there's always some uncertainty about your position cause you don't know what his plans are. But just before I went on vacation, Guardiola talked with me and assured me that I would be a key player in his project. The coach has put his trust in me and now I want to pay him back."

Asked about a possible contract renewal (read more here), Márquez, whose current contract expires in 2010, says that he's not thinking about that at this moment: "I'm a man of today who doesn't like to think a lot about the future. I try to live day by day and to give the best of me at every moment.

If this leads to good performances and we can stay here, we'll stay. And if not, we'll see what happens. The only thing I can say is that I'm comfortable at Barcelona, where they always have treated me quite well, and that I hope to be able to continue working here for a long time."

Read more:

Puyol, Xavi and Valdes offered to renew until 2014

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona central defender and captain Carles Puyol (30), Barcelona midfielder Xavi (28) and Barcelona goalkeeper Víctor Valdés (26) will be offered a contract renewal until 2014.

Together with Messi, Iniesta and Bojan, who already renewed their contract, those three players should become the core of the future team.

The first talks with Xavi have already taken place (read more here) and the real negotiations will start later this month.

Read more:
Renewal talks coming up
Puyol and Valdes next on renewal list
First renewal talks with Xavi

Ex-Barça: Rivaldo to Bunyodkor

Former Barcelona player Rivaldo (36) has on Wednesday been presented as new player of Uzbek club Bunyodkor.

Bunyodkor (previously known as Kuruvchi) had
officially announced a one-year contract deal with Rivaldo last week. The Brazilian attacker leaves Greek club AEK Athens after one season.

Rivaldo told at a press conference that Bunyodkor made him an offer he could difficulty refuse: "As you know, I had an ongoing contract with Greek club АЕК. But my contract approached the end and I was invited by clubs from Australia and Japan. At the same time I got the serious offer from Uzbekistan and I accepted it."

Bunyodkor general director Tavakkal Kadirovich Ismailov revealed that former Barcelona player Petit had been acting as intermeidary: "Negotiations lasted two months. We were helped by our close partner Emmanuel Petit. He negotiated with the agent of Rivaldo."

Arriving from Spanish club Deportivo la Coruña in the summer of 1997, Rivaldo played five seasons for Barcelona. In the year 2002 he left for AC Milan. With Barcelona, Rivaldo won two Spanish leagues in 1998 and 1999, one Spanish cup in 1998 and one European s
uper cup in1997.

Read more:
Ex-Barça: Henk ten Cate to Panathinaikos
Ex-Barça: Geovanni to Hull City
Ex-Barça: Fernando Navarro to Sevilla

Youth: Daniel Sanchez (Sporting Cristal)

Peruvian newspaper Perú 21 claims that Barcelona is interested in Sporting Cristal midfielder and Peruvian international Daniel Sánchez (18), who could join the youth academy.

Sánchez, who has been called up for the first time for the senior Peruvian national team, would travel later this month to Barcelona for trials, that would have been arranged by Romanian Fifa agent Lucian Marenescu.

Asked about the rumours, Sánchez said to journalists that there's nothing certain yet: "I don't know anything about it, all I hear is through the press. I'm very calm because nobody, my club nor my agent, told me anything and I don't live from speculations.

If I would be able to leave for Europe, I would of course welcome that. So I hope the rumours will be confirmed one of these days. Even if it would just be to do a test with Barcelona, it would be fantastic. Who wouldn't want to play for that club, one that can compete for every trophy in Spain and Europe? If this could become more concrete, that would be incredible."

Read more:
Youth: Fasciana arrives this weekend

Read all Youth transfer stories here

Last-minute Manchester City offer for Eto'o rejected

British tabloid The Sun claims that, before going after Real Madrid winger Robinho, Manchester City launched on Monday a 40 million euro° bid for Barcelona forward and Cameroonian international Samuel Eto'o (27).

The offer was rejected by Barcelona, that already had put an end to its transfer activity for this summer.

Read more:

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Debate: The transfer summer of Real Madrid

The summer transfer period came to an end on Monday at midnight. For Real Madrid this is the result of the transfer activity over the past months:

Van der Vaart (Hamburg)
De la Red (Getafe)
Javi García (Osasuna)
Garay (Santander)

Robinho (Manchester City)
Baptista (Roma)
Soldado (Getafe)
Balboa (Benfica)

How do you think Madrid starts the new season? They've made good transfers, the squad is stronger? Or the opposite?

Messi's new hair cut

Ribery was on top of Guardiola's wish list

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Bayern Munich wing attacker and French international Franck Ribéry (25) was on top of the wish list of Barcelona managr josep guardiola to replace Ronaldinho as left wing attacker.

Barcelona sounded out Bayern officials who were nevertheless not willing to start talking (read more here).

The second name that was proposed by Guardiola was that of Real Madrid left winger and Brazilian international Robinho (24). After talking with agent Wagner Ribeiro, it soon became clear that Madrid didn't want to sell the player to Barcelona (read more here).

Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain then proposed trying the transfer of Valencia left winger and Spanish international David Silva (22), who in the end chose to renew his contract with Valencia.

Barcelona finally looked at the option to sign Zenit Saint-Petersburg forward and Russian international Andrei Arshavin (27) or Sevilla left winger and Spanish international Diego Capel (20). Although Guardiola wasn't totally convinced of their qualities, both players could have partially solved the left wing problems but a deal was not found.

Read more:

Iniesta wants to spend whole career in Barcelona

Asked about his plans for the future, Barcelona midfielder and Spanish international Andrés Iniesta (24) said in an interview with Spanish sports paper Sport that he doesn't have any intention to leave Barcelona:

"Of course I plan to stay with Barcelona. I already renewed my contract until 2014 and I hope to spend the rest of my career at this club. Although this will obviously also depend upon my performances because you always have to be at the level that is required. I sure am delighted to have already spent half of my life in Barcelona."

Read more:

Manchester City will launch bid on Messi

British tabloid The Sun claims that Manchester City manager Mark Hughes has been told by Sulaiman Al-Fahim, a board member of the Abu Dhabi United Group, the new owners of the English Premier League club, that he can bid 100 million euro° for Barcelona right wing attacker and Argentinian international Lionel Messi (21) Lionel Messi as soon as the next transfer window opens in January.

Al-Fahim said in an interview with the tabloid that he wants City soon to be the biggest club in the world: "We aim to be in the top four this season, we aim to win the Premier League next season and within three years from now we want to win the Champions League. We have the money and the manager to do it. We aim to have the best players in the world at Manchester City and one of the most exciting teams around, that everyone will want to watch.

We have a great manager with the same passion and commitment that we have. I will be meeting Mark to discuss the plans. Every transfer will be made with his full consultation. If we can get the biggest players in the world, then we will get them. My personal favourite player in the world at the moment is Ronaldinho, who City have tried to get. But believe me we will try again with Mark’s agreement — and get him.

We are not here to do battle with people, we just want to do what’s best for this club. That means being the best and going past the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United. By the time the next transfer window comes around in January the whole world of football will become aware of what is going on here and what our plans are. That is when the opportunity will be greater to get this club the best players. When I put my mind to something and set myself a target I achieve it. We are going to be the biggest club in the world."

Read more:
100 million euro Chelsea offer for Messi
Better contract for Messi
Manchester City will come after Henry in January

Ex-Barça: Sergio Garcia to Betis

Former Barcelona forward and Sergio García (25), who was earlier this summer rumoured to be on Barcelona's target list (read more here), has yesterday been officially presented as new player of Spanish first division club Betis Sevilla, where the striker signed a five-year contract.

Betis had
offically announced the transfer of the Spanish international on Tuesday. His former club Zaragoza officially confirmed the news the same day.

His new club pays a fixed transfer fee of 8 million euro° plus another possible 2 million euro° variables.

Sergio García came through the youth ranks of Barcelona and joined the first team in 2003. One year later he was loaned out to Levante. In the summer of 2005 Sergio García was transferred to Zaragoza.

Read more:
Ex-Barça: Giuly to Paris Saint-Germain
Guardiola and Txiki don't agree on Sergio Garcia
Ex-Barça: Mark Hughes to Manchester City

Madrid president has already plans for next summer

After having failed with Kaká, Cesc, Cristiano, Villa, Cazorla and Robinho,
it has become difficult to make myself even more ridiculous...

....but not impossible!!!

So next year I plan to announce
the signings of Kaká, Cesc, Cristiano, Villa, Cazorla and Robinho...

...but then dressed as a sexy high school girl

(click the cartoon to enlarge)

Renewal coming up for Pedro and Victor Sanchez

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona wing attacker Pedro (21 - picture) and Barcelona polyvalent defender and midfielder Víctor Sánchez (20) will be offered a contract renewal soon.

Although the players didn't ask anything, Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain plans to meet later this month with their representatives to start the negotiations.

Pedro and Víctor Sánchez were this summer promoted to the first team (read more here) which makes a change of some contract conditions a logical step. The paper adds that the two could still play some matches with Barcelona Atlètic this season if they don't get enough playing time with the first team.

Víctor Sánchez currently has a contract until 2011, while the contract of Pedro, who is representented by sports agency Bahía International, expires in the summer of 2010.

Read more:
Pedro and Victor Sanchez permanently promoted
Renewal talks coming up
Puyol and Valdes next on renewal list

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