Saturday 15 November 2008

Quote of the day: Gudjohnsen

My youngest son Daniel cannot sleep
if he doesn't wear his Barça pyamas.

Eidur Gudjohnsen, Barcelona player

Eto'o: "I have no intention of leaving"

Barcelona player Samuel Eto'o gave an interview to British monthly football magzine World Soccer.

What are your first soccer memories as a boy growing up in Cameroon?
The great Cameroon side with Roger Milla. But that doesn't make me at all unusual, that's the seminal moment for any child from my generation in Cameroon. What the team achieved in the 1990 World Cup, reaching the quarterfinals before losing to England in overtime, was something incredible.

So, did you model yourself on Milla? Have you always been a striker?
No, I admired him hugely, he was my hero, but I started off as a central midfielder. Then I moved out to the right wing and finally to center forward. It hasn't worked out too badly.

Your goal-scoring record is phenomenal. What's the key to scoring goals season after season?
It's all about hunger and commitment. I always say that the one player who I admire is Raúl. He typifies what I am talking about, that desire, season after season, to keep scoring goals, to never, ever let up, even when people are ignoring him or questioning him. I keep scoring because I keep wanting to score. I am never satisfied. I always fight.

You joined Real Madrid as a 16-year-old and were loaned out, rather than given a chance in the first team, before you finally moved to Mallorca. Was there ever a moment when you thought that it wouldn't work out?
No, never. I always said that I wanted to play football and I wanted to play at the highest level. It doesn't matter what road you take, there are many different routes to the top but they can all take you there. I was convinced that I would get there. I never had any doubts at all.

Is success sweeter because it has come at the expense of Real Madrid? You seem especially motivated every time you play them.
No. Success is sweet because my team wins, nothing else matters. I want the fans of Barcelona to be happy. I'm not playing to prove a point to anyone else. I'm playing to win.

You seem to be quite a spontaneous and passionate person. You have also been involved in a number of controversial incidents. Have you ever regretted anything you have done?
I have always tried to be true to myself. People react to that the way they want to but that is how I am. I am not pretending, this is me. I can make mistakes but there is no point dwelling on that.

You have also made a stand for what you think is right and threatened to walk off the pitch in Zaragoza after racist abuse from fans. Do you think your stand on racism has made a difference?
(smiles) I would rather not talk about that.

Is there something the authorities, the league, the government, the federation, could do to improve the situation?
They are there to look for solutions to these problems and they know what needs to be done. I am not the person to tell them. I shouldn't have to either. I have to trust that they will know how to act.

Maybe they could start by treating African soccer with more respect. How did you feel about so many clubs complaining about the African Cup of Nations when they would never say the same about a European or South American tournament?
The tournament needs to be understood and given more respect. But the needs of clubs and national federations need to be considered. The governing bodies of European football need to reach an agreement with the governing bodies of African football. But I think it will be difficult to change the dates because we have changed it once and there are few options. What date can we change to next? Let's hope they sit down and talk to find the best solution for all sides.

Which players do you especially admire?
I always looked up to Roger Milla as a kid, but now there are certain strikers that I love to watch. There is a player who I believe in a very short time will be a genuinely great player: my teammate Bojan Krkic. The kid has everything. He has to keep growing, improving and developing that special aura of magic that strikers have but he is well on the way. What he has achieved at 17 is beyond what any normal player would be capable of.

What about a defender who's especially hard to face?
I would pick out Dani Alves and Carles Puyol. I have the good fortune to have Puyol alongside me ... and it's a relief that we have signed Alves now. He's a defender I used to enjoy playing against because it was such a challenge, so hard. Playing against someone like that makes you work to improve yourself as a player.

Do you watch other leagues?
Yes, all the time. I watch the Italian league, the English league, the German league, the French league. I am crazy about football, really hooked.

This past summer it looked like you might leave Spain. Would you be disappointed if you didn't experience a different league? Is that an ambition?
There were offers, but I made the decision to stay at Barcelona, and I honestly think that was the best decision I have made in my life. I don't have a burning desire to try a different league. I have lived all of my career so far in Spain, and if I finish it here then fine. I'm happy here. I have no intention of leaving.

Eleven players have international mid-week game

Eleven Barcelona players have been called up to play with their national team next week.

Except for Busquets, they will all play on Wednesday. Márquez plays with Mexico a World Cup 2010 qualifying game against Honduras, the others play friendly games.





Ivory Coast





Spain under-21

Barcelona one of Benzema's favourite clubs

Asked about his preferred transfer destinations, Olympique Lyon forward and French international Karim Benzema (20) has said in an interview with French sports paper L'Equipe that there are several possibilities:

"There are a lot of clubs out there. Barça, Real Madrid, but also Manchester United and AC Milan. Those are all great clubs that make you dream. I like Spain a lot but in Manchester or Milan you can also make great progress. I want to play at the highest level, to be amongst the best in the world, so I have the skills to leave for a top club.

I'm comfortable at Lyon at this moment and the day I want to leave, I will talk with the president so he knows about it and that's it. He has talked about a transfer fee of 100 million euro°, certain people were shocked because that's a big fee but we'll see when the time is there. At the end of this season we'll see what will happen. I have a projet and that's it. I'm not thinking about the date of my transfer."

Read more:

[Henrique] Bayer Leverkusen-Schalke

Bayer Leverkusen played this afternoon their thirteenth Bundesliga game of the season. Bayer defeated Schalke 2-1 and stays on top of the German league.

Brazilian central defender and Barcelona loan out Henrique (22) 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.

Saturday 4 October - Bundesliga game 7: Bayer Leverkusen-Hertha Berlin 0-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Yellow card.

Saturday 18 October - Bundesliga game 8: Eintracht Frankfurt-Bayer Leverkusen 0-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Friday 24 October - Bundesliga game 9: Bayer Leverkusen-FC Köln 2-0
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Tuesday 29 October - Bundesliga game 10: Werder Bremen-Bayer Leverkusen 0-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Friday 31 October - Bundesliga game 11: Bayer Leverkusen-Wolfsburg 2-0
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 8 November - Bundesliga game 12: Karlsruhe-Bayer Leverkusen 3-3
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Yellow card.

Saturday 15 November - Bundesliga game 13: Bayer Leverkusen-Schalke 2-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

1. Bayer Leverkusen 28
2. Hoffenheim 28
3. Bayern München 25
4. Hertha Berlin 24
5. Hamburg 23
6. Borussia Dortmund 21
7. Schalke 20
8. Wolfsburg 19
9. Köln (12) 19

1st and 2nd place: group phase of Champions League
3rd place: third qualifying round of Champions League, winner enters the group phase, losers enter the Uefa Cup
4th place: qualifies for 4th qualifying round of Uefa Cup
5th place: qualifies for 3rd qualifying round of Uefa Cup

Principal agreement on Xavi renewal

Madrid sports tabloid Marca claims that there's a principal agreement on the renewal of Barcelona attacking midfielder and Spanish international Xavi (28), whose current contract expires in the summer of 2010. A deal could be signed on Monday (read more here).

Barcelona and the player would have reached an agreement on almost all points, including the salary. Xavi would get a pay rise but wouldn't earn as much as players like Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto'o or Thierry Henry.

One of the details that should still be sorted out is the duration of the contract. The new contract will expire in 2013 or 2014. Catalan radio station Ona FM claims that Barcelona has offered the Catalan midfielder to renew until 2013, while Xavi asks a contract until 2014.

Catalan sports paper Sport confirms that there's a new meeting scheduled in the Camp Nou on Monday. Both parties are having a positive atitude and would want to bring their positions closer in order to close a deal soon.

Read more:
Xavi and Barcelona still not agreeing on salary
Xavi is top target for Manchester United
New Xavi renewal meeting scheduled next week

The Ultimate Game: Get Inside Guardiola's Head

With Frank Rijkaard you couldn't get any honour by predicting Barcelona's starting line-up. Even hockey moms could. But this has dramatically changed this summer. Until this very day, nobody has been able to crack the code of Josep Guardiola's brain. Nor has anyone got inside his sleeves.

So this is your chance to prove not only your knowledge about the game of football but also your psychological insight:


This is not (as in: NOT) a place for discussion on team tactics or personal player preferences. You just give the system and the eleven names you think will start the game against Recreativo on Wednesday.

You put them in the right position, so using the 4-3-3 (or whatever you think they will play) and putting the players from the right to the left, so the right back defender is your first name after the goalkeeper. If your line-up isn't clear, my interpretation counts.

Don't forget to add your (nick)name by clicking Name/URL under the comment box and fill it in, otherwise your after-game claim to glory will be dismissed.

You can give your starting line-up until three hours before the start of the game, in this case: until 6 pm barcelona time.

If you give your line-up before Guardiola announes his match list (or if all the available players or at least 20 players are included in the match list), you get one point for the correct line-up. If you do it after that announcement, you get half a point. Who will have 10 points somewhere down this season, can call himself the winner.

This is the tenth time this game is organized.



mario ch
Dan R

No surprises in Recreativo list

Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola has earlier today announced the list of 18 players for the eleventh game of the Spanish league against Recreativo Huelva tomorrow evening at 9 pm.

The list:
Valdés, Pinto,
Alves, Puyol, Piqué, Márquez, Cáceres, Sylvinho,
Xavi, Gudjohnsen, Busquets, Touré, Keita,
Messi, Eto'o, Bojan, Henry, Hleb

Jorquera is not included, like Víctor Sánchez and Pedro, who will play with Barcelona Athletic today. Milito, Abidal and Iniesta are not available because of injuries.

Barça B: Victor Vazquez and Jeffren sign renewal

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona Atlètic attacker Víctor Vázquez (21) and Barcelona Atlètic wing attacker Jeffrén (20 - picture) have signed a contract renewal yesterday.

The contract of both players still expires in 2010, but the two got a pay rise and a buyout clause of 5 million euro° was included in the new agreement.

With Víctor Vázquez and Jeffrén before able to leave Barcelona for free in the summer of 2009 when they weren't promoted to the first team and several clubs interested in signing them in January, Barcelona has proposed them this renewal.

Both attackers would have been contacted by other clubs. A few Primera División teams wanted to transfer Víctor Vázquez during the winter transfer market. Last summer, Barcelona already refused to listen to offers from first division teams, amongst which Málaga, for the Catalan attacker.

Read more:

Crosas wants to return to action this month

Celtic Glasow midfielder Marc Crosas (20), who has been out of action for almost a month with a hamstring injury, is back in light training and is targeting a return later this month.

Asked about the evolution of his injury, Crosas said to journalists earlier this week that he is hopeful of returning to action in the next two weeks: "I'm much better. I hope to be back in the team in the next few weeks. I don't know if next week or another one but I hope early. I'm working with the physio, I have spoken to the doctors and I am back running.

It was difficult for me to get injured because I started to play. I found good form and I played good games and now I need to begin again and start from zero. I am coming back at a good time because we have very important games coming up and I want to play again as quickly as possible. Now we have important games, but when I'm injured, all the games are important and I want to play."

Marc Crosas joined Celtic Glasgow in 2008. 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.

Read more:

Henry could leave for Miami in 2010

Asked if any current Barcelona players could join a new professional football club in Miami, Marcelo Claure, the Miami-based Bolivian businessman together with whom Barcelona is bidding for a place in the Major League Soccer (MLS), the professional football league in the United States and Canada (read more here), said in an interview with Catalan radio station Ona FM that the name of Barcelona forward and French international Thierry Henry (31) is on the table:

"We have talked with Barça about the possibility that a key player of the first team could come and play in Miami in 2010 and the name that is up is Henry. We've discussed it but Barça will always have the priority. A technical committee will choose the player, they will decide because they are the football experts.

Henry is one of the candidates, I think he could be the ideal person because in interviews with the American media he always says how much he likes the country, but there are other names too."

Read more:
Henry could consider MLS move in the future
FCB Miami: Weighing the seven bids
Chelsea manager wants Henry in January

Friday 14 November 2008

Quote of the day: Laporta

Barcelona has the best youth system in the world.

Joan Laporta, Barcelona president

New Xavi renewal meeting scheduled next week

Both main Catalan sports papers claim that there's a new meeting scheduled next week between Barcelona officials and Iván Corretja, the agent of Barcelona attacking midfielder and Spanish international Xavi (28), whose contract expires in 2010.

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain will meet with the agent for the third time, with the positions not having come closer much after Barcelona's initial offer was thought to be far too low by the player and his entourage. Although a solution shouldn't be expected soon, both parties have the will to reach an agreement.

Catalan sports paper Sport reports that a meeting couldn't go through this week because Xavi's agent was in London, where he accompanied Catalan synchronized swimmer Gemma Mengual, whom he also represents, and assisted the English cup game Chelsea-Burnley on Wednesday.

The paper claims that Barcelona general director of football Raül Sanllehí will assist next's weeks meeting and that it will be the second time that there will be talked about money. Barcelona would have informally offered Xavi a four-year contract with a gross year salary of 5,5 million euro the first two years and 6 million euro the last two years.

Catalan sports weekly paper Gol claims that Begiristain and Corretja already met more than ten times and that Xavi, who is now earning 4 million euro plus incentives a year, would be asking around 8 million euro. Juventus, Arsenal and Liverpool would be ready to offer the player a contract if the renewal negotiations would collapse.

Asked about the renewal negotiations, Begiristain admitted this week to journalists that the talks aren't progressing well: "At this moment, there are some difficulties, although we would like to come to an agreement soon. I hope we will be able to unblock the negotiations."

Spanish news agency EFE claims that Barcelona knows that Xavi has several offers from other European top teams, but that the club is confident that a renewal will be signed soon. The positions would be coming closer and a deal could be reached shortly.

Read more:
Xavi is top target for Manchester United
Xavi and Barcelona still not agreeing on salary
Xavi thinks renewal agreement will be reached

Deco (2): "The media pressure at Barca is huge"

Former Barcelona player Deco gave an interview to Catalan sports paper Sport.

(read the first part of the interview here)

Is Barca more than a club?
Barca is a special club, yes, because it represents a country, Catalunya. I experienced all of its atmosphere and it's an incredible club, everything that happens around it is a big deal. There are always a lot radio, televisions stations and newspapers following up on the club... Barca is always being talked about. Everything that happens with the club is followed very closely. Its a very special team.

Out of the entire blaugrana squad, who would you take with you to Chelsea?
Sshh. There are a lot of great players at Barca: Iniesta, Eto'o, Xavi, Puyol, Rafa, they are a great team.... but with out a doubt the best at this time not just at Barca but in Europe and the world is Leonel Messi. He is a different kind of footballer, an extraordinary player. If I had to choose, I would choose him of course.

Would you also give him the Golden Ball or would it be for your national squad teammate Cristiano Ronaldo?
If I had to choose fairly, I'd choose Cristiano Ronaldo. The Golden Ball is for the one that has had the best season, and Cristiano Ronaldo won the Champions League and the Premier League playing at high level, so I think it should be for him.

Would you come back to the Liga?
At this time I would not return to Spain. I am very happy to be here, in a great club that allows me to continue striving for the Champions.

Do you see winning the double again, like in Oporto and Barca, as feasible?
Why not?

What teams do you think are the toughest rivals for Chelsea in the Champions League?
I think the same ones as always: Manchester, Arsenal, Barca, Madrid, Inter... I think they would be the favored to win it.

That reminds me, why did you not leave with Mourinho, who helped you grow as a player, to Inter?
Because Chealsea has not won the league title in two years, and it is a challenge for me to win it, like what happened in Barca. It was a new goal and so I came to London.

Translated by: Mario

This was the second and last part of this interview.

You can read the first part here:

Youth-Barça B: Official team pictures

The sixteen youth teams of Barcelona were yesterday officially presented and had their team picture taken. Since they are officially still part of Barcelona Atlètic, first team players Busquets, Víctor Sánchez and Pedro took part in the session.

See the official team pictures of all the youth teams here

Barcelona interested in Man United striker Tevez

British newspaper The Guardian claims that Barcelona has expressed an interest in Manchester United forward and Argentine international Carlos Tévez (24).

Tévez, whose rights are owned by investment fund Media Sports Investments (MSI), is playing on loan with Manchester United since the summer of 2007.

The English Premier League club has the option to buy Tévez in January for 37 million euro° but it's uncertain if the Champions League winners are ready to put down the money.

Read more:
Nani was on top of the transfer list
Looking for a star
Xavi is top target for Manchester United

Poll result - Man of the match: Benidorm

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

1. Messi 41%
2. Caceres 14%
3. No one 13%

See full results here
See other poll results here

Arshavin agent invites Barcelona to move

Asked about the new rumours linking Zenit Saint Petersburg forward and Russian international Andrei Arshavin (27) with a move to Barcelona (read more here), the player's agent Dennis Lachter has said in an interview with Catalan radio station COM Ràdio that Barcelona hasn't yet called him:

"We have already several proposals on the table but no Barcelona official has contacted me until this day. Arshavin has already declared that he wants to leave Zenit. The team that wants him just has to make us an offer and then we can start negotiating.

At this moment Barcelona is playing great, so you should ask Guardiola, Txiki or Laporta if they're interested in Andrei. Tell Guardiola that he calls me or that they give me the number of Guardiola, Txiki or Laporta. Time will tell what can happen."

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that, despite the club not planning any transfers this winter (read more here), Barcelona could consider to make a bid for Arshavin if Zenit would seriously drop the asking price. Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola, who likes the Russian player, has been following Arshavin closely over the last months.

Read more:

Top ten most official Barcelona appearances

Barcelona's official website put out a list of players with the most official appearances in a Barça shirt.

548 Migueli (1973-1989)
452 Rexach (1965-1981)
436 Xavi (since 1998)
421 Amor (1988-1998)
411 Puyol (since 1999)

410 Zubizarreta (1986-1994)
402 Segarra (1949-1965)
401 Rifé (1964-1976)
399 Alexanko (1980-1993)
396 Asensi (1970-1980)

Barcelona isn't planning transfers in January

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona is not thinking about making a move when the winter transfer market opens in January.

With the technical staff satisfied with the current squad and with the attitude of all players on and off the pitch, Barcelona is not planning to make any incoming or outgoing transfer in the coming months.

This stand will only be changed if a player would get seriously injured in the coming weeks, preventing him to be available for the rest of the season.

Asked about the new rumours linking Russian player Andrei Arshavin to the club (read more here), Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain confirmed this week to journalists that no transfers are being planned: "If nothing bad happens, we don't expect to do anything this winter."

Read more:

The Points: Benidorm

Pinto 6___6,5

Alves 6___6
Puyol 5___6
Cáceres 5___5,5
Sylvinho 5___5,5

Gudjohnsen 5___5,5
Busquets 5___5,5
Keita 5___5,5

Messi 6___6
Bojan 6___5,5
Hleb 5___5

Xavi 6___6
Eto'o 5___6
Pedro *___*


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.

Thursday 13 November 2008

Quote of the day: Henry

Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie and Guns N' Roses.

Thierry Henry, Barcelona player,
asked about his musical preferences

A Basel fan in Barcelona: That's Football!

Basel fan René travelled to Barcelona last week to see his team drawing one all with Barcelona. He sent us this report.

That's Football!

Well, we bought our tickets in Basel just before the first game. After the horrible 0-5 in Basel, we were not having any expectations for the return game in Camp Nou. Even more, every result at the same level was acceptable to us, upfront........

We travelled to Barcelona by plane from Geneva very late in the evening. From the airport we got straight to Camp Nou. Huge, really huge area. After surrounding the ground, we were entering together with the FC Basel mob quite quickly. In general the stadium is okay, but the comfort is not the standard in Basel or other modern grounds.

The places we got together with all the other fans were very high up, I guess it might be around 150 m to the pitch. This is not really interesting if one like to "see" football. That's probably the reason why some of our fan were whistling against the own team entering the pitch, they thought it's Barca...........

The game was terrific good for us. After five minutes we finally had the ball first time, so business as usual. But our tactics was different than in Basel, and obviously quite successful. The coach had chosen to use the standard 4-5-1 system and not the 4-4-2 like in Basel. The result was that our team was closer together and had more players near the ball, attacking was quicker although the team gave lot's of ground to Barca. Also as a result of 4-5-1 tactics, the main problem of the first round was almost solved: the wingers of Barca could not go into a 1-1 situation, but were always against 2 of our players. So the wings were closed for Barca.

It was normal game, ball possession like 65% to 35%, but Barca did not score until he came. This small boy, called Lionel Messi, he entered the pitch and we fans were taking a deep breath. With his first touch he almost went through, but with the second touch, 90 seconds after entering the game, he did it. Unfortunately.

We felt our team was doing very good until this goal came and we were afraid that might change now. But it didn't, they kept doing what they were able to.

And then, yes we got crazy. Eren Derdiyok smashed the ball into the net, volley. Wow. We got crazy up there. The last 10 minutes was suffering, begging, crying, shouting, blaming but then, the whistle, great relief.

The result is good for us. Not only that we are the first club from Switzerland winning a point at Camp Nou, pride was back after the first game. Barca had given away the first game in a row of 11 victories and we did it. We were enthusiastic, really great.

Even more, now we have a small chance to fight for 3rd place in the group against Shakhtar Donetsk, so we could enter Uefa Cup next year. And I think we have a chance if we don't loose next game in Donetsk. We have our last game at home against Sporting and Donezk has to visit Camp Nou. And we hope, Barca isn't giving too many games away easily.

The best thing happened to us after the game:
We catched a taxi, entered and the driver congratulated us for the result. He opened his jacket and said "watch this" and it was a Real Madrid T-Shirt. Of course we had nice conversation with him about Barca, Real and football. We told him we'd like to go to Ramblas to eat something and he said he would bring us to a restaurant of his family at the port. So we went there, good restaurant and had a wonderful beef steak. As it was already 1am, we thought about leaving but the waiter came to us and said: "you want to see player?" Of course, which player? "Basilea, all team".

Yes of course, we thought he is nuts. Our team would not go after a game to eat at 2 am dinner. But we were wrong, after 30 minutes the guys showed up and as there were only about 10 supporters of FC Basel in the restaurant we shake hands with the guys and congratuled to the great result.

The next day we were running Rambla up and down, had paella and huge tapas. Just fine, sunshine, warm and a good result. What else you need? In the evening we got back to the airport and travelled home. Very happy.

That's football, isn't it? I love these emotions.

Hleb (2): "I miss Cesc a lot"

Barcelona player Alexander Hleb gave an interview to Catalan sports paper Sport.

(you can read the first part of this interview here)

Santander player Pinillos gave you a though welcome to the Spanish league. How did you feel about that injury?
Sometimes football in Spain is played too dirty. In England, they play hard, but fair. They go for the ball. In Spain, you have defenders who are always looking for your knee or your ankles. That's one of the things that surprised me most about Spanish football. Those tackles from behind just aren't acceptable. I wasn't expecting this.

The fans are surprised about the great stat of the season. You are too?
Not at all. This is Barcelona and we play how it is understood Barcelona should play. Barça is Barça, please. You don't have to lower the standard. The way we're playing right now is the minimum people can ask from us. This squad is made to win everything and technically the team is very good. We're going to come out there trying to win every game. What is happening seems very normal to me.

How does it feel to sit on the bench?
I'm not used to it, but it's normal. Partly because I have been injured and on the other hand because I cannot arrive here and say to the coach "Hey you, you have to play me and put the others on the bench because I'm great". All players are great here.

What do you think about the level of the Spanish league?
Well, if you see we're winning every game with 5-0, it could seem as if the level is quite low, but Atlético Madrid, against whom we scored six times, played very good against Liverpool, Villareal is going head-to-head with Manchester United and Madrid is a great team.

Cesc has said that he feels an oldie at Arsenal and that he misses you...
Arsenal has a fantastic team, although I understand what he's saying. I also miss him a lot because he was my best friend, both on the pitch, where we understood each other very good, as off the pitch. Together with Barcelona, Arsenal plays the best football.

If they don't win anything this season, Cesc maybe will get tired of losing and he could come to Barça...
Are you sure?

I'm not. Are you?
No. I'm talking a lot with Cesc, but not about this. He has a good contract and I don't think they want to sell him.

You are recognizing the Henry you played with at Arsenal?
Of course! He's a great guy, a good person and on the pitch he's as direct and straight as in his personal life.

This was the second and last part of this interview.

You can read the first part here:
Hleb (1): "I still need some more time to adapt"

The Video: Benidorm

Barcelona following Milan loan out Gourcuff

Italian football site Fiorentinanews claims that Barcelona is one of the clubs that are closely following Bordeaux attacking midfielder and French international Yoann Gourcuff (22).

Gourcuff joined Italian Serie A club AC Milan in the summer of 2006. This season, the Frenchman plays on loan with French club Bordeaux.

Read more:

The Pictures: Benidorm

(click on the picture to enlarge)

(click on the picture to enlarge)

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