Saturday 27 September 2008

[Henrique] Bochum-Bayer Leverkusen

Bayer Leverkusen played this afternoon their sixth Bundesliga game of the season. Bayer won away against Bochum with 2-3.

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.

Tuesday 23 September - Cup round 2: Augsburg(2)-Bayer Leverkusen 0-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Yellow card.

Saturday 27 September - Bundesliga game 6: Bochum-Bayer Leverkusen 2-3
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Table (after six games)
1. Hamburg 13
2. Bayer Leverkusen 12
3. Werder Bremen 11
4. Schalke 11
5. Borussia Dortmund 11
6. Hoffenheim 10
7. Stuttgart 10
8. Wolfsburg (5) 9

Busquets renewal is priority for Barcelona

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona wants to offer Barcelona Atlètic defensive midfielder Sergio Busquets (20) a contract renewal as soon as possible (read more here). The current contract of the player expires at the end of this season.

Barcelona would be considering two possibilities: a new second team contract with high incentives or a first team contract with a higher fixed salary and lower incentives.

Barcelona site Pelikano claims that the renewal negotiations already started and doesn't exclude that Busquets has already received offers from interested clubs after his good performances over the last weeks.

Read more:
Contract renewal for Busquets coming up

[Crosas] Celtic Glasgow-Aberdeen

With a goal in extra-time, Celtic defeated Aberdeen with 3-2 this afternoon.

Former Barcelona midfielder Marc Crosas (20) started the game as central midfielder in a 4-4-2. Twenty minutes before the end, he was replaced by McDonald.

Since Barcelona can buy Crosas back in the summer of 2010 for two million euro (read more here), this blog will follow the performances of the midfielder over the next two years.

Sunday 10 August - League game 1: Celtic Glasgow-St Mirren 1-0
Non-selectable. Crosas has signed his contract and is presented to the fans before the match.

Sunday 17 August - League game 2: Dundee United-Celtic Glasgow 1-1

Saturday 23 August - League game 3: Celtic Glasgow-Falkirk 3-0
Substitute. Crosas replaces Brown in the 73rd minute (3-0).

Sunday 31 August - League game 4: Celtic Glasgow-Rangers 2-4

Sunday 14 September - League game 5: Motherwell-Celtic Glasgow 2-4
Starter. Crosas starts the game and is replaced by Nakamura in the 80th minute (2-4).

Wednesday 17 September - Champions League group stage game 1: Celtic Glasgow-Aalborg 0-0

Sunday 21 September - League game 6: Kilmarnock-Celtic Glasgow 1-3
Starter. Crosas starts the game and is replaced by Hartley in the 74th minute (0-2).

Tuesday 23 September - League Cup 1/8 finals: Celtic Glasgow-Livingston 4-0
Not selected.

Saturday 27 September - League game 7: Celtic Glasgow-Aberdeen 3-2
Starter. Crosas starts the game and is replaced by McDonald in the 72nd minute (1-2).

Table (after 7 games)
1. Celtic 16
2. Rangers (6) 16
3. Hearts 12
4. Inverness 10
5. Hibernian (6) 10


Youth: Deulofeu wants to stay in Barcelona

Asked about the rumours linking him with several English Premier League clubs (read more here), Barcelona Cadete A wing attacker Gerard Deulofeu (14) has said to Catalan regional newspaper Diari de Girona that he has no intention to leave Barcelona:

"I prefer not to talk about the rumours because I'm not dealing with that issue. But my dream is to make my debut with Barcelona's first team in the Camp Nou.

I'm playing some six years for Barcelona now and I feel really comfortable here. I got used to travel to Barcelona with a cab every day. Sometimes I'm sharing a cab with other youth players from my region.

Before Ronaldinho was my idol, but now it's Bojan. It's the player I like the most of the current Barcelona squad and for me he's an example to follow since he also came through the youth ranks."

See videos of Deulofeu here

Read more:
Youth: Arsenal and Chelsea fight over Deulofeu
Youth: Deulofeu has no plans to leave for England
Youth: English top clubs following Deulofeu

Match discussion: Espanyol

This evening at 8 pm bt,
Barcelona plays the fifth game of the season against Espanyol Barcelona.

Like Barcelona, Espanyol has seven points out of their four previous games. They are ranked eigth in the Liga.

Last Wednesday, they lost 2-0 against Sevilla, playing with Kameni - Sergio Sánchez, Jarque, Pareja, Finnan (32 Chica) - Ángel, Lola (63 Callejón) - Luis García, Sielva (63 Moisés), Valdo - Jonathan Soriano.

Espanyol squad list:
Kameni, Cristian Álvarez, Sergio Sánchez, Pareja, Jarque, Chica, Moisés Hurtado, Sielva, Ángel, Lola Smiljanic, Julián López de Lerma, Nené, Jonathan Soriano, Tamudo, Luis García, Corominas, Callejón

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

Before (what are your expectations, what should be the line-up,...), during and after the match, you can comment on the game here.

Puyol (2): "Tamudo doesn't need much"

In an interview with Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona central defender and captain Carles Puyol (30) talked about the team and the club.

How do you feel ahead of the derby against Espanyol?
I have a good feeling about it. We're working very hard and everybody is motivated. The problem lately is that we start the games well but that we let the opponent come back too easily. We have to get better in that aspect and be stronger there. We have to finish the games. It's normal that the other team tries to look for the equalizer but it should be our objective to keep the same level of intensity so this doesn't happen anymore.

How should one play against Espanyol?
We have to play our own game. We should control the ball and be agressive, both in defense and in attack. A derby is different from other games and it's a fact that Espanyol caused us difficulties over the last years. Winning the three points is crucial to keep the confidence growing but also to give the first big joy to the fans, who will hopefully fully back us again. They will if we again start winning matches.

Tamudo didn't take part in the match before the derby, just like you. We're getting old or what?
We're certainly getting older. In his case, I don't know why he didn't play. In my case, the coach made a decision and I accept that.

Tamudo is one of the players who has given you most troubles?
Yes, he's one of them. It's a good player. Everytime he has the ball, he can be dangerous. You have to be concentrated the whole game because he doesn't need much to get you in troubles.

You know that this could be the last derby in the Montjuïc stadium (Espanyol is expected to move to their new stadium next year)?
I didn't think of that. I know their new stadium is almost ready but in general I'm not thinking about that kind of things.

This was the second part of this interview. You can read the first part here. The two last parts will follow in the coming days with Puyol talking, amongst other things, about the qualities and the character of Piqué and the Rijkaard era.

Medical: Jorquera returning to group training

Barcelona goalkeeper Albert Jorquera (29), who is in the last phase of recovering from a knee injury, joined the group during yesterday's training session and trained at the same level as the others for the first time in nine months.

Jorquera got injured during a game with the Catalan national team at the end of December last year.

It is now expected that Jorquera, who has been the number two goalkeeper behind Víctor Váldes over the last years, will be given the green light by the medical services in the coming days whereafter he'll again be available for Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola.

Read more:
Medical: Milito recovery halfway
Medical: Hleb probably out for three to four weeks
Medical: Preventive exercises for Messi

Friday 26 September 2008

Quote of the day: Guardiola

I don't know how the players are dealing with the rotations, but they don't have a lot to say anyway.

Josep Guardiola, Barcelona manager

Barça B - Match report: Atlético Baleares

Víctor Sánchez was again available because Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola didn't select him for the first team. Thiago took one of the three expensive midfield spots. Oier and Víctor Vázquez had their first start of the season.

Oier, Córcoles, Joni (77 Xavi Torres), Víctor Sánchez, Espasandín, Thiago (45 Gai), Rueda, Longás (72 Abraham), Víctor Vázquez, Maric, Nolito

See the further match stats and the league table here

Barcelona dominated the game from the beginning until the end but didn't have it easy against a very defensive oppponent. Barcelona had ball possession from the start and the pressure of the whole team didn't allow Baleares to come out regularly. A strong Víctor Sánchez eliminated all potential danger.

All the ticking nevertheless didn't lead to a lot of chances, with crosses not arriving and shots going largely wide. All actions initially started from Nolito on the left side. When Víctor Vázquez got involved on the other wing, the danger started coming. A first cross went into corner but a few minutes later, in the 38th minute, a sharp centre of Víctor Vázquez lead to a goal by Nolito.

One minute before half-time, Baleares scored the equalizer out of their first real opportunity of the game, when Jose scored after a throw-in and a nice inside pass.

Luis Enrique decided to let Gai Assulin start the second half, making his season's debut. The Israel youth international began with two good actions in the first five minutes and gave the team more depth. At the hour, a shot by Maric went just wide and a hard shot by Víctor Vázquez was saved, like was a shot of Rueda.

Barcelona kept Baleares in their box for the last fifteen minutes, but the goal didn't fall, with one great chance, two other balls saved from the line and a possible penalty not awarded. Five minutes before the end, Maric headed an excellent cross from Abraham strongly into the goal. In extra-time, a free kick of Baleares went wide.

Barcelona Atlètic coach Luis Enrique said at the press conference after the match that it was a difficult game: "We knew that it wouldn't be easy and they indeed kept a lot of players behind the ball. We planned to play fluently and to give the opponent no chance. When we scored the first goal we thought things would change and there would be more space. But that wasn't the case. A childish error costed us the equalizer and we had to start all over again.

We started the second half with a lot of motivaton to play well, both technically and physically. We created a lot of chances, three or four real scoring chances, and we came closer to the objective. We got our second home victory after suffering a lot. It's good to keep up the positive series at home.

We suffered a lot. For the first time this season, I have been suffering. I try to look at the game with a cool head so I can make the analysis and see what's best for the team but this time the circumstances made me suffer very much.

I will keep on rotating. We have 21 key players in this squad. The players respond well to the rotating. I see they're all involved, those who play, those who sit on the bench and those who aren't called up. They live and do everything together. That's one more reason why I like this squad a lot although we still have to work hard and get better.

I liked Gai, he was very good. It was the first time he played, we want to have him at his top, his physical level got a lot better but he still needs some more. He contributes a lot, he's decisive in one-on-one, he scores easily and he's only 17. Can you ask more? Today he played on the right wing, but it shouldn't always be like that.

Víctor Vázquez is technically superior, top quality. He can play on the wing, in the centre or as attacking midfielder. He's very motivated and I liked his game a lot. He participated in the first goal and, like the others, he's a key player.

Thiago is a spectacular player, another youth product that could go very far, but has still some steps to make. The fact that I took him off after the first half doesn't mean he had a bad game. It wasn't a punishment, on the contrary."

Guardiola and Eto'o about 'The Hug'

When Gudjohnsen scored the 3-2 on Wednesday, Barcelona forward Samuel Eto'o shot off the bench trying to hug his manager (see the images here, around 1:30). Both protagonists have meanwhile commented the event at press conferences.

Guardiola, who also had a coach-hugging moment during the 2000 European championships in Belgium and the Netherlands (see the video where you have the end of the hug
here), said that he was just surprised: "The truth is that I saw someone push me from behind and I looked at that person with total surprise. I didn't feel the need to hug him. It surprised me because I didn't expect it. I was just thinking about the ten minutes we still had to play."

Eto'o said he was just acting in a flow of happiness: "It surprised him a lot. When there's a goal, you don't plan what you do, you go out there to celebrate and that's it. When you're on the pitch, you suffer less than on the bench. I was suffering a lot on the bench.

Guddy scored and I jumped and pushed the coach. He stood there like asking 'what's happening?', but that's just the moment, nothing more. I want to stress again that my relationship with the coach is good despite what happened this summer. How wouldn't we connect very well? People tend to behave well, it's a natural thing. I have always been motivated."

See three more pictures here, here and here

Said all this, Guardiola is nevertheless planning some costume retouches:

Puyol (1): "Guardiola is a perfectionist"

In an interview with Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona central defender and captain Carles Puyol (30) talks about the team and the club.

First we should congratulate you with the renewed captaincy.
Thank you.

Why all those innovations, now the team has four captains plus a support commission with four more players?
We came up with this because a lot of players wanted to get involved and that's very good. The four captains are there for the daily stuff but if a more important issue arises, we'll meet with all eight so everyone is represented. And if an individual player wants to make whatever comment, he'll be listened to. All players can express their own opinion here.

It seems remarkable that Messi and Eto'o have been included. Messi because of his youth and Eto'o because of his complex character.
You shouldn't read too much between the lines. Besides, in reality, if you look at it, the eight players involved are the ones that are around for the longest time. It's fairly easy.

How do you explain the small attendances at the Camp Nou so far this season?
It's complicated. The last two seasons were hard for everyone but that's behind us and we should live in the present. It's our job now to make even the most disappointed fans return to the stadium.

Let's talk about Guardiola. Is he such a perfectionist like is being said?
Yes, that's correct. He wants to control every possible aspect. It's his first year and he wants to make all his ideas clear to us and that's why he puts so much time in it. It's logical.

What's the reason behind some weak moments in the games? On Wednesday, after an excellent first half, one goal of Betis made the team doubt too much? It's a confidence crisis that you take with you from the previous seasons?
It's no weakness. But what we should try to do is to keep the same level of intensity and react if we receive a goal. In fact, I think the team was very good against Betis. They scored the equalizer but the reaction of the team was very good. They didn't collapse at all and went for the victory. The fact that they showed that they are able to react gives confidence for the future.

This was the first part of this interview. The three other parts will follow in the coming days with Puyol talking, amongst other things, about the game against Espanyol and the qualities and character of Piqué.

Pedro replaces Caceres in Espanyol list

Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola has earlier today announced the list of 18 players for the fifth game of the Spanish league against Espanyol Barcelona tomorrow evening at 10 pm.

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

Wing attacker Pedro returns to the list. He replaces centre back defender Martín Cáceres in the only change compared to the Betis list.

Sergio Busquets, who is still indicated as being a Barcelona Atlètic player, stays with the first team. Sylvinho and Víctor Sánchez, who has been playing the last two games with Barcelona Atlètic, are for the third time in a row not included. Jorquera, Hleb and Milito are not available because of injuries.

The Points: Betis

Valdés 5___6___6,5___6___6

Alves 6___7___7___6___5,5
Márquez 5___5,5___4___5___5
Cáceres 5___6,5___6___7___6
Abidal 6___5,5___5,5___9___5

Xavi 6___6,5___6___7___6
Touré 5___6,5___6,5___4___5,5
Keita 5___7___5,5___6___5

Messi 7___8,5___8,5___9___8
Eto'o 8___8___7,5___9___7,5
Iniesta 6___8___8___6___6,5

Gudjohnsen 8___6,5___7,5___8___7,5
Busquets 6___6___7___5___6,5
Bojan 6___6,5___6,5___6___6,5


If you have seen the match, you can give your own points. If you know other papers or sites that give points, you can let me know. See previous points here.

Will Henry leave in January?

Asked if he could be tempted if a club like Manchester City would ask for him during the January transfer window (read more here), Barcelona forward and French international Thierry Henry (31) has said in an interview with Catalan radio station Catalunya Ràdio that he hasn't plans to leave:

"At this moment I'm not yet thinking about leaving Barcelona in the winter and I think this won't change. I don't know. In life there can happen things you don't expect. I didn't think that I would leave Arsenal either and look where I am now.

Physically I'm here but I have another life too. In fact, my life is in London because that's where my daughter is. I think about her, that's normal, but it doesn't affect me. I have to do my job and I know when I have to be focused. Despite that, I don't regret my transfer and I feel very good in Barcelona. The food, the weather and the city are incredible.

I understand the criticism I'm receiving because I didn't yet won anything with Barcelona and this needs to change this season. If Arsenal would have won the Champions League in 2006, I could have decided to move one year earlier. Now I didn't arrive in Barcelona at the right time because I was injured.

Rijkaard asked me if I was able to play and I didn't want to be out for three months just after arriving. For my body, it would have been better if I would have said no since I had been out for six months. Nobody forced me to play, it was my own decision and fault because I really wanted to play.

I prefer to play as a centre forward but the coach wants me on the wing. That's it, there's no problem. I met with the coach before the season. We talked about a lot of things, but I want to keep that between us. I don't like to think about the past, the things are how they are."

Asked about a possible exit in January, Henry didn't exclude a winter transfer in an interview with French sports paper L'Equipe if his situation wouldn't change in the coming months: "We should talk about it at that time then. I had a discussion with Guardiola before the season about my position. For me, that was very clarifying and I don't want to say more about it. This is what made me stay in Barcelona this summer despite having received several offers from the English Premier League. But I don't regret having stayed."

Catalan sports weekly paper Gol meanwhile claims that Henry has asked his agent to be alert in the coming months. The Frenchman wouldn't mind a quick exit because several of his sponsors have warned him that they won't accept another season like the previous one because of the further negative impact on his popularity. Henry would therefore be open to the possibility of entering in a players' exchange or a transfer to England or the United States.

Barcelona would have already been trying to sell Henry this summer but the operation was then blocked by new Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola.

Read more:
Manchester City will come after Henry in January
Barcelona would consider offer for Henry
Manchester United considering Henry bid

Giovani doesn't regret summer move

In an interview with his new club’s official magazine Hotspur, Tottenham attackerand Mexican international Giovani dos Santos (19) has insisted he does not regret leaving Barcelona for the English Premier League during the summer:

"I'm looking for opportunities to grow as a player and I saw Spurs as the kind of place where I could really develop. I did have other offers, but Spurs was the club I keenly wanted to come to because I know this team is really developing. I believe this club has a big, big future and I want to play my part in that. Now I'm here, I'm really happy."

Read more:
OFFICIAL: Giovani to Tottenham
Deco and Giovani are seen as bargains
Youth: Tottenham wants Jonathan dos Santos

Read the complete Giovani dos Santos transfer story from the first rumours until the official confirmation

Poll Result - Man of the match: Betis

This is the final result of this blog's Barcelona-Betis: Who was our man of the match? poll:

1. Eto'o 49%
2. Messi 26%
3. Gudjohnsen 11%

Vargas (Fiorentina) and Farfan (Schalke) monitored

Asked if Fiorentina left back defender Juan Vargas (24 - picture) and Schalke forward Jefferson Farfán (23) could join Barcelona in the future, Barcelona board member Josep Antón Colomer has suggested in an interview with Peruvian newspaper El Comercio that both Peruvian internationals are amongst the players that Barcelona is monitoring:

"Of course they could play for Barcelona one day. Barcelona has a well-organized scouting system and we are following a lot of players all around the world. The best Peruvian players will always be monitored by the club. There have always been Peruvian players who had the qualities to play for Barcelona."

Read more:
Manuel Neuer (Schalke 04)

Thursday 25 September 2008

Quote of the day: Busquets

I hope the day will come when I won't be surprised when the coach tells me that I will start the game.

Sergio Busquets, Barcelona player

Eto'o wants to score 200 goals in Barcelona shirt

Asked about the fact that he scored yesterday against Betis his 100th official goal as a Barcelona player, Barcelona forward and Cameroonian international Samuel Eto'o (27) has said at a press conference that he feels satisfied:

"It's an honour to reach that number. It means that I was lucky to be able to play a lot of games with this team and spend a lot of years at this club. I'm very happy and I hope to reach the 200 goals wearing this same shirt. I can't say anything about a possible renewal. The season will be very long, we will talk, there's enough time for that.

I wouldn't know if the old Eto'o is back. I'm this year's Eto'o and I feel very good. The injuries are behind me. Scoring or not, physically I am in good shape. I won't be the Eto'o of three seasons ago because I am now three years older now, but I am still Eto'o, with the same desire to win every game, with the same desire to help the team."

Watch goals number 99 and 100 here (as an extra you get the Eto'o-Guardiola hug)

The Pictures: Betis

(click on the pictures to enlarge)

(click on the pictures to enlarge)


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