Saturday 20 September 2008

Quote of the day: Guardiola

It's time we start winning.

Josep Guardiola, Barcelona manager

Henry (3): "We also suffer if we get a bad result"

In an interview with Catalan sports paper Sport, Barcelona forward and French international Thierry Henry (31) talked on Wednesday about the start of the season.

What did the standing ovation of the crowd on Tuesday mean to you?
It meant a lot. Although the main thing is to play a good match. Only in England they applaud you if you lose, here you have to win for the people to be happy. Like on Tuesday, when they liked the way we played adn fought and saw that we're motivated. The fans aren't stupid and they see this kind of things.

You agree that the team sometimes doesn't look very strong mentally?
If you lose, the difficulties arrive. There are attacks in the press and the fans aren't happy. But you shouldn't forget we also suffer if we get a bad result. You think we came back from Numancia with a smile? Nobody was happy. In football you have to pass a new exam every single day, always, the next game is always the only thing that counts. So what should you do? Give up and lose against Sporting Lisbon? You should be able to come back and to fight and get better. It's the same in football as in life.

But is the team mentally strong?
Yes, we have to be if you look how we're starting the games. The team doesn't give up and works to get better. Football is like that, full of little details, like the fault that lead to the goal against Racing. You're worried when you return home, but the next morning you have to get up and return to work.

Is there less talent in this squad this season?
No. In every team where I have played, no matter the league, you will always have problems if you don't play as a team. You could win one or two games but you're always gonna fall at some point if you don't play as a team. What counts is the team effort. That's the way to obtain success.

What do you do after a game?
I get home, I eat something, I'm spending time with my friends, I laugh. I never go to sleep immediately, I always need three to four hours for my adrenalin level to drop.

How do you feel living in Catalunya?
Everything is phenomenal: the city, the food, the weather. I'm getting to know the city well. People are always treating me in a nice way down the streets.

You're the captain of the French national team. You would consider to take up that position in Barcelona?
No, Puyol is there. It's not about what I want, it's something that you shouldn't ask but something that comes in a natural way. You have some extraordinary people like Puyol, Xavi and Valdés. Guys from the club, who know Barcelona inside out and can lead the team.

This was the third and last part of the interview. You can read the first two parts part here:
Henry (1): "We win or lose as a team"
Henry (2): "I'm a goalscorer... when I play in the centre"

Barça B - Match report: Sant Andreu

For the game against the leader, the centre back duo was changed for the third time. With Víctor Sánchez returning to the first team and Verdés being suspended, Joni and Botía were the central defenders. Captain Xavi Torres re-entered the team as defensive midfielder. The forward line didn't change.

Miño, Córcoles, Botía, Joni, Espasandín, Rueda (80 Abraham), Xavi Torres, Longás (65 Tiago), Rayo (58 Víctor Vázquez), Maric, Nolito

See the further match stats here

Sant Andreu president Joan Gaspart, who was the president of Barcelona from 2000 to 2003, had his heart divided for this game. Midfielder Sergi Busquets, who had made his debut with the first team the day before, assisted the game to support his team-mates.

The game was very tactical from the start, with very few opportunites during the ninety minutes. Barcelona only held Maric, who was protesting a lot all along the match, deep and the wingers felt back to midfield waiting to break out if possible. It was a balanced game although Sant Andreu seemed to dominate parts of it, also due to a very solid midfield that recovered a lot of balls.

After just two minutes, Botía had to save a ball from the goal line. Rueda shot twice on goal and Nolito, the most dynamic Barcelona player, had two small chances. Miño had to hold one ball in the first half.

The second half was somewhat more attractive. After ten minutes, a good shot by Nolito was saved. Luis Enrique brought Víctor Vázquez and Tiago trying to give some more depth to the Barcelona play. The rhythm of the game went up but this didn't lead to chances.

Sant Andreu nevertheless took over and started to push more. A first shot just went wide but in the 70th minute the opponents could score out of ball that bounced back after Miño had saved a first chance.

Sant Andreu went for a second and decisive goal but it was Barcelona who had some chances to equalize. After a good action, a shot by Nolito went wide and the striker missed a few minutes later in a one-on-one with the Sant Andreu gaolkeeper. The latter also saved a shot by Abraham in extra time.

Barcelona Atlètic coach Luis Enrique said at the press conference after the match that he thought the defeat wasn't really justified: "This was clearly a game that should have ended with a draw. In my humble opinion, none of the two teams was superior. I'm leaving with a bad feeling because they scored out of half a chance. We had some chances but we couldn't finish them.

I'm nevertheless satisfied with the work of the players. I can't complain about their attitude. Sant Andreu will surely play for the top positions in the league. We knew that it would be a difficult game but they didn't cause us great troubles. On the other hand it's true that we didn't have many clear chances either.

We have to take some details from this game, we'll integrate them in our training sessions next week. In general, I think we're going in the right direction, like I was expecting. And all players will particpate this season. I don't have a fixed team right now. Maybe it will come later in the season but there aren't starters and substitutes here and those who convince during training sessions and matches will play."

Read more match reports here

Guardiola not worried about Bojan

The truth is that I'm more worried about critical comments on my Champions League match day costumes...

...than the criticism I could receive on the few minutes Bojan is playing

(click the cartoon to enlarge)

see more cartoons here

Henry not included in Sporting list

Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola has this morning announced the list of 18 players for the third game of the Spanish league against Sporting Gijón tomorrow evening at 9 pm.

The list:
Valdés, Pinto,
Alves, Márquez, Piqué, Puyol, Cáceres, Abidal,
Xavi, Touré, Keita, Iniesta, Gudjohnsen, Busquets,
Messi, Eto'o, Bojan, Pedro

Henry hasn't fully recovered from his sore throat and despite doing some exercises this morning, he wasn't included in the list (read more here). Márquez did recover and has been training normally yesterday afternoon and this morning.

Abidal and Barcelona Atlètic player Sergio Busquets are re-entering the list. Sylvinho and Víctor Sánchez are not included, the latter will play with Barcelona Atlètic later today. Jorquera, Hleb and Milito are not available because of injuries.

Youth: English top clubs following Deulofeu

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that several English Premier League clubs are interested in Barcelona Cadete A wing attacker Gerard Deulofeu (14).

Scouts of Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool have been following the performances of Deulofeu during an international youth tournament in the Netherlands earlier this year and this has lead to contacts with the entourage of the Catalan player.

Although several agencies have already offered their services to his parents, Deulofeu, who joined Barcelona from Espanyol a few years ago, is at this moment not yet represented by a professional agent.

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that it looks like Armando Ufarte could become the agent of the Spanish youth international.

See a video of Deulofeu here

Read more:

Barcelona interested in Chelsea striker Kalou

British tabloid The Daily Mirror claims that Barcelona is intersted in Chelsea forward and Ivory Coast international Salomon Kalou (23).

Kalou would be getting increasingly frustrated at Chelsea because of a lack of first-team chances under new Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari and Barcelona believes they could sign the Ivorian, who would be available for 7,5 million euro°.

Asked about his situation, Kalou said earlier this week in an interview with British sports site Setanta Sports that he could seek other opportunities in the future if he fails to become a regular starter:

"Of course I practice hard to have opportunities, but the manager’s decisions must be respected, even if I’m here to play. It’s up to me to work twice as hard at training, and to be honest I try to give my best in order to improve my football and hopefully it’s going to pay off.

I don’t know what my future consists of, the season is still long. It’s too early to take a decision right now. When a young player arrives at Chelsea he’s happy to learn, and then you can have the opportunity to grow in another club or in here. As a young player I am aware of the fact that I have to make the perfect choice and at some point of my career I’ll have to accept to fly with my own wings."

Read more:
Chelsea offers Malouda in Eto'o deal
Barcelona wanted Arshavin as a substitute
Deal with Drogba close

[Henrique] Bayer Leverkusen-Hannover

Bayer Leverkusen played yesterday their fifth Bundesliga game of the season. Bayer had an easy win at home against Hannover: 4-0.

Brazilian central defender and Barcelona loan out Henrique (21) started the match and played the whole game in the centre of the Bayer defense.

Barcelona bought Henrique this summer and decided to loan him out to Bayer Leverkusen for one season (read more here). This blog will follow Henrique's performances during this season.

Sunday 10 August - Cup round 1: Rot-Weiß Oberhausen-Bayer Leverkusen 2-3
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 120 minutes.

Saturday 16 August - Bundesliga game 1: Bayer Leverkusen-Borussia Dortmund 2-3
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 23 August - Bundesliga game 2: Vfb Stuttgart-Bayer Leverkusen 0-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 30 August - Bundesliga game 3: Bayer Leverkusen-Hoffenheim 5-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Right back.

Saturday 13 September - Bundesliga game 4: Hamburg-Bayer Leverkusen 3-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Right back.

Friday 19 September - Bundesliga game 5: Bayer Leverkusen-Hannover 4-0
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Table (after four games)
1. Hamburg 10
2. Bayer Leverkusen (5) 9
3. FC Bayern 8
4. Schalke 04 8
5. Borussia Dortmund 8
6. Stuttgart 7
7. Hoffenheim 7
8. Wolfsburg 6

Friday 19 September 2008

Quote of the day: Keita

I also like some racing with a car, but he's just mad.

Seydou Keita, Barcelona player,
after he acted as co-pilot of Eric Abidal on the Montmeló racing circuit and asked to get out after one lap

Barça B: Busquets represented by father

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona Atlètic midfielder Sergio Busquets (20) is these days receiving several offers form agents who wants to represent the player who made his first team debut last weekend against Racing Santander (read more here).

At this moment, Busquets is represented by his father and former Barcelona goalkeeper Carles Busquets, who is at this moment the goalkeeping coach of Barcelona Atlètic (read more here).

Read more:

Guardiola called Trezeguet this summer

Asked about the rumours linking him with Barcelona earlier this year (read more here), Juventus forward David Trezeguet (30) has repeated in an interview with Italian television channel Sky Sport that Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola called him this summer:

"Guardiola wanted me to be part of his new project at Barcelona, he said he liked my football qualities and he asked about my availability to move to Barcelona for the new season.

I have been very clear with him because I have never felt the need to leave Juventus. He respected my wish and Juventus has also be very clear about the issue. For me it was very important to know that Barcelona was following me, because it means that you are working well."

Read more:
Barcelona president denies Trezeguet interest
Thinking about Eto'o-Trezeguet swap
Trezeguet rejected Barcelona interest

Medical: Henry third player with soar throat

Valdés was the first victim on Wednesday, Márquez fell on Thursday and today Barcelona forward Thierry Henry (31) is the third victim of the pharyngitis plague that is going around in the Barcelona dressing room.

While Valdés has already recovered, Márquez and Henry stayed at home to rest this morning and didn't take part in the first training session.

Both players have been given medication and it now has to be seen if they will be able to participate in the second training session of the day at 6 pm.

Read all the latest medical reports here

Why is Bojan not playing?

Yesterday, the four main Spanish and Catalan sports papers all had a story on the lack of playing time of Barcelona forward and Spanish international Bojan Krkic (18) this season, despite the player having signed a five-year contract renewal few weeks ago (read more here) and the fact that Barcelona doesn't have an excess of strikers.

All indicate that Bojan not only didn't start an official game so far but that he looks to be at this stage of the season the fifth-ranked forward, also behind Pedro who was this summer promoted to the first team. Guardiola apparently doesn't intend to use Bojan on the wings, where he even prefers to play midfielders like Hleb and Iniesta.

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Bojan is just not the type of centre forward Guardiola has been looking for. The Barcelona manager wanted to sign a strong target man like Adebayor or Drogba this summer and Bojan is not really fitting that profile.

Madrid sports tabloid As claims that Guardiola could be paying Bojan back because the striker refused to return to Barcelona B, then coached by Guardiola, at the beginning of last season when he came back from the World Cup U-17.

Read more:
Renewal as birthday present for Bojan
Barcelona has six promising youngsters
Arsenal interested in Bojan

Ex-Barça: Motta to Genoa

On Wednesday, former Barcelona player Thiago Motta (26) has been officially presented as new player of Italian club Genoa.

Since he couldn't find a renewal agreement with Atlético Madrid this summer, Motta was available on a free transfer. The Italo-Brazilian has apparently signed a four-year contract with his new club.

Thiago Motta came through the Barcelona youth ranks and joined the first team during the 2001-2002 season. In the summer of 2007, the defensive midfielder left for Atlético Madrid.

With Barcelona, Motta won two Spanish leagues in 2005 and 2006, two Spanish super cups in 2005 and 2006 and one Champions League in 2006.

Read more:
Ex-Barça: Giuly to Paris Saint-Germain
Barcelona could get fee for Motta renewal
Ex-Barça: Mark Hughes to Manchester City

Medical: Marquez also has a sore throat

Barcelona defender Rafael Márquez (29) suffers from pharyngitis, a painful inflammation of the pharynx that causes a sore throat.

Like Hleb, Milito and Valdés, the Mexican could therefore not be present at the racing circuit yesterday (read more here).

It is unclear if Márquez will be available for the Sunday game against Sporting.

Read more:
Medical: Valdes out with sore throat
Medical: Hleb probably out for three to four weeks
Barça B - Injuries: Jeffren out for two months

Henry (2): "I'm a goalscorer... when I play in the centre"

In an interview with Catalan sports paper Sport, Barcelona forward and French international Thierry Henry (31) talked on Wednesday about the start of the season.

How is your relationship with Guardiola?
I don't have any problem with the manager. On Tuesday they also tried to make me say bad things about him, but I don't have any problem with him.

I don't want you to say bad things, just to talk a little about him...
We work the tactics a lot and I think everything is going very well. Márquez' goal against Sporting was a prove of that. It shows we're working on set pieces.

Guardiola always praises you...
Yes, he does and that's a motivation. Since the start of the season everything is going fine. The problem is that after the game against Numancia they all focused on my performance.

You feel comfortable with the way Guardiola plays?
But for how long has Barcelona played like this? It has always been like this, with a 4-3-3. That's the way Barcelona plays and we should adapt ourselves to that. That's how the team won the Champions League and that's also the way games have been lost. Tactics isn't everything, the players are the ones who should execute the system properly.

You have to keep on playing on the wing. Nothing has changed for you since last season?
Sometimes I start at the left and move to the centre afterwards. Sometimes Leo can move in a free way, sometimes I change positions with Samu. There are a lot of changes and movements and we should continue like that.

You don't score goals. Don't you need them, being a goalscorer?
Yes, I'm a goalscorer. When I play in the centre that is... That's the basics of football, in the centre it's easier to score. I don't feel any pressure because as long as we win, it's not imortant who scores. Whoever scores, if we win everybody is happy. The celebration of Márquez' goal was a good example of that.

You have considered leaving the club?
No, at this moment, I don't. I spoke with the manager and we had the same thoughts and understood each other. So at this moment I don't.

This was the second part of the interview. You can read the first part here and the third part will be published tomorrow, with Henry talking, amongst other things, about the mental strength of the team and what he does after a game.

Thursday 18 September 2008

Guardiola taking the steering wheel

Barcelona didn't train today and after a group lunch the whole squad, the manager and some board members went to the Circuito de Catalunya racing circuit this afternoon.

After some racing exercises, the players received their Audi Q7 from the club's official car sponsor.

(click on the pictures to enlarge)


Medical: Preventive exercises for Messi

Catalan sports paper Sport reports that Barcelona forward Lionel Messi (21) didn't participate in the first part of yesterday's training session.

After the Sporting game, Messi had some minor muscle troubles and the staff therefore decided to give the player some personal and specific exercises aiming to avoid overburdening and more serious problems. After that, Messi joined his team-mates for the rest of the session.

It is believed that the problems are under control now and that Messi will be in perfect conditions to play against Sporting Gijón on Sunday.

Read all the latest medical reports here

Barça B: Luis Enrique enjoys coaching

In an interview with Asturias regional newspaper La Nueva España, Barcelona Athletic manager Luis Enrique (38) has talked about his first month as a coach.

How are things going in your new job?
Good, I'm again fully enjoying football. I have a good team and players with a great future.

You feel comfortable on the bench?
I actually didn't think I would like it this much. I would like to continue coaching, but a coach only depends on the results and he will be judged based upon that.

How does your team play?
We're following the tactics of the first team and the tradition that has been in this club for many years. We play a 4-3-3 system with wingers and trying to always play in a nice and dominant way. The idea is to balance defense and attack and to get a lot stronger by finding the right balance.

You also had an offer from the Spanish football federation (read more
here). Why did you choose for Barcelona?
I'm very grateful to the federation and especially to their sports director Fernando Hierro for the confidence, but Barcelona gave me the chance to train at a daily basis and to return to a club I also consider to be my home.

What is the objective of Barça B this season?
We want to try and win every game, in the beginning mainly to really see after ten games what our possibilities are. I don't exclude anything and our performances will show if we have been doing our job properly.

Guardiola sometimes takes away some of your key players.
For me, it's an honour that he promotes a few of my players every week. That's actually the reason why the first team squad is that short. I also have a very short squad so the Juvenil players have options to join us every now and then.

How is Joni López doing?
Good, motivated to get better and adding his experience to the team. He's performing at a good level.

How are you looking forward to the game against Sporting this weekend?
My heart is divided. Sporting has always been my team and Barcelona is my favourite teams amongst the top clubs.

You replaced Guardiola and we suppose you're talking with him about your teams. How is the situation of the first team?
It's a very well-organised and hard-working team with endless attacking possibilities. I'm sure they will play for the trophies this season. The doubtful start will only serve as an extra stimulation.

Read more:
Luis Enrique presented as Barcelona B coach
Barça B - Official: Joni
Luis Enrique to coach Barcelona B

The Pictures: Sporting

(click on the pictures to enlarge)


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