Saturday 22 November 2008

A Trap in the Shadow!

A boy played in the field, got stung by a nettle.

He ran home to his mother, telling her that he had but touched that nasty weed and it had stung him.

“It was just your touching it, my boy; the next time you meddle with a nettle, grasp it tightly, and it will do you no hurt” Do boldly what you do at all.


Getafe Game!

It’s a game to play before the Valencia dame that introduces December action for some, and it comes before Sevilla game that comes even before Valencia and marks the beginning of the challenge for the others, and more notably the Getafe game comes before the Sporting game that alerts the most urgent concerns for the unsettled CL – Barcelona fans.

In all that mix of names and dates, Getafe game moved to the shadow of interest, and more disturbing, it got buried in the fog of spotlights, though a Getafe battle is definitely a stone to turn to open the path for what comes later; flopping and flipping on Sunday will act as a kick on the knee before the breathtaking marathon, no matter when and where it starts for you, in Lisbon or in Madrid!


With four defeats, four draws and three wins, Getafe amuse the 12th spot in la liga. They will play away from home in Barcelona, but the interesting thing is that their numbers are better out than in, but how hopeful will they be to earn points in Barcelona, and eventually how concerned we need to be?

Getafe president Ángel Torres said that current Getafe coach Víctor Muñoz focuses more on intense physical and tactical training while Schuster, like Laudrup, works more with the ball - referring to the old Getafe that we knew, but if we want to make our observations based on numbers, I cant really see that physical edge while most of the goals conceded were netted in the last fifteen minutes of the first half, and mostly in the last quarter of the second half, is it a drop in fitness? Or is it a loss of tactical awareness and concentration? My assumption is a mix of both added to the fact that in the last slice of their matches, Getafe open the game, probably as an attempt to make a come back, they open defense and it cause them dearly. Click here for Getafe statistics.

Brief Ramzi….Brief!

Getafe defense

In front of Jacobo, the keeper who deservedly took Pato position between the post, we can talk about a defense line if we want to be too theoretical, but to be realistic we need to expect that in front of the keeper there will be the whole team defending. Francisco Casquero, Juan Albin, Lucas Licht, Fabio Celestini, Daniel Díaz, Esteban Granero and David Cortés are the tackling machines in the defense and midfield earning 18 yellow cards so far (30 for the whole team).

But while watching the highlights I can note two obvious weaknesses:

1) Slow defense with bad positioning specially on the counter attacks, I am not sure if their slow defense will give us any advantage keeping in mind that they will be playing a defensive crowdy-closed game, mainly one touch high tempo game can be the key to unlock this defensive chain, but hey! Watch out tackles! Messi are you listening?! That's if you played...

2) They are extremely weak dealing with crosses and diagonal balls dropped to the far post, and here where my eyes blink with that evil spark!

Getafe Offense:

Yes, they have Soldado who has all the motivation as an ex-Real Madrid player to cause troubles. Even though his finishing declined dramatically than expected earlier in his career, he is still a threat adding to the fact that he press defense aggressively to a limit that he may lose temper – 3 yellows.

And yes they have the dynamic Uche, but there real threat come from J. Albin and his compatriots in the midfield, they just love to shoot from distance, Francisco Casquero already bombed 29 shots, 9 on goal, Albin 32 shots, 12 on goal. Beside Esteban Granero, one of their most influential guys, and Jaime Gavilán Martínez, the ex-Valencia winger. Most of their goals were scored by the midfielders –especially Albin- but will their midfield get a chance to approach to Barcelona territory? That’s for Barcelona players to tell.

More Getafe highlights, click here


I will try not to be repetitive and just mention what’s exclusively related to this game; Guardiola will have to decide one of two ways to approach the game:

1) This is the last game before getting into the critical period including a fundamental game against Sporting and the mini league of December. After Getafe there is no way to take a breath, specially if our game against Sporting went wrong. So will he decide to save some batteries? Definitely he will not play a second string – if we can say we have second strings- but will he rest two or three players in this game? If he did, I understand, but may be for the first time this season I stand with the Anti rotation school for this game, so I choose the second approach.

2) Playing the best eleven: first of all to seal a game, as we mentioned before a wrong result means a wrong preparation for what follows, and secondly to gain momentum and confidence, and we can be little sadistic and say he needs to smash Getafe to spread more fear! Tactically, after all the rotations performed this season, is it true that the best eleven on the field are really the ones he has in his mind? Let’s try them in this game better than…

My favorite selection contains Busquets as a DM - Yaya will be better against Sporting - and Xavi and Hleb/Keita as midfielders - they both need starting role more than Gudi at the moment. Messi, Eto’o and Henry up front.

But with the news regarding Messi muscular problems, then I prefer Hleb on the right wing and Keita as a midfielder, unless if Guardiola decided to give Bojan the chance as a winger, which is not a bad attempt at all!

Keeping in mind that nothing clear till the moment I wrote this article, I hope we rest Messi in this game anyway as a precautiant. And better not to select him as a starter against Sporting, may be that help to use him against Sevilla, even if we needed to rest him again against Valencia.

If Busquets played, then this is a game for him to rise back to meet earlier expectations after his first few games, because lately I can’t say I am satisfied by his performance.

I count on Henry in this game to cut in from the left to act as a second striker moving to the far post where Alves can easily fax the ball to him while the defense is busy dealing with Eto’o and Messi. Remember the evil spark mentioned above?

We all remember that game in the cup when we took things for granted and they smashed our hopes and pride, Getafe may have no chance in this game if Barcelona played a declined game as I expect they will, their attitude will determine their altitude.

Games between the two teams:

Games played:8, Draw2, FC Barcelona won 5, Getafe won 1

Played at FC Barcelona: Games 4 Draw1 FC Barcelona won 3 Getafewon 0

This week:

Real Madrid - Recreativo

Villarreal - Valladolid

Sevilla - Valencia

Barcelona - Getafe


Off record:The recipe of troubles:

I have lot to say about it but knowing I REALLY need to end this post I say, the recipe of troubles consist of:

Henry as a left wing, Messi on the right plus Busquets as a midfielder.

I can understand playing Yaya and Busquets together as Defensive midfielders but then you need Hleb as a left wing to bounce back helping Xavi building up the game, or Messi acting as a free player behind two dual strikers, Eto’o and Henry.

Or else, that Recipe will always complicate things; don’t say I didn’t mention it.

Ramzi Tanani

Barcelona working hard on set pieces

Asked about the opening goal in last weekend's game against Recreativo Huelva, Barcelona assistant coach Tito Vilanova has confirmed to Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia that the team had worked on the free kick during training:

"We had practised that move a lot and we also had a secret sign. Actions like that aren't about one player, others have to mislead the defenders or have to position themselves well. You have to coordinate the movements of five or six players.

Coordinating your players is already hard work and that still doesn't mean that the opponent falls into the trap. Against Valladolid we also tried something at two corners but it didn't work. You also shouldn't use them if you don't really need them. If we would have been winning against Recreativo, we wouldn't have tried it. You shouldn't waste those actions.

The inspiration can come from everywhere. Every game serves. For the Recreativo move, we remembered a goal that Barcelona B made last season in the fourth division. But it doesn't matter, even a Russian league game can be a source of inspiration. We watch the movement and if we like it and it has its worth, we start to work on it.

We notice that the players are enthusiasic about it. Players like Márquez, Touré, Xavi and others are happy with having more options at set pieces, although we don't always have enough time to practise them. Sometimes we have to focus more on working the passing rhythm or tactical issues, which leaves us less time than we would want for the set pieces.

The set pieces are also the result of video reports that contain tens of actions of the opponent. Some have almost hundred actions that are later filtered to show the squad only a small part. They see around twenty of them. The first work is done by staff members Carles Blanxart and Domènec Torrent, they separate the material: tactical issues at one hand and set pieces at the other.

When preparing a game, we try to watch and analyze three or four games of the opponents. I watch all of them, sometimes together with Pep, sometimes with Juan Carlos Unzué. The minimum is the last two games of the rival team and if there's time, we watch some more."

Watch the video of the Recreativo game:

[Henrique] Bielefeld-Bayer Leverkusen

Bayer Leverkusen played this afternoon their fourteenth Bundesliga game of the season. Bayer was defeated 2-1 by Arminia Bielefeld and loses the leader spot.

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.

Saturday 22 November - Bundesliga game 14: Bielefeld-Bayer Leverkusen 2-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

1. Hoffenheim 31
2. Bayer Leverkusen 28
3. Bayern Munich 28
4. Hertha Berlin 27
5. Borussia Dortmund 24
6. Schalke 23
7. Hamburg (13) 23
8. Wolfsburg 22
9. Werder Bremen (13) 20


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

Medical: Messi still doubtful after light training

Despite the problems he suffered yesterday (read more here), Barcelona player Lionel Messi (21) has done a light training session this morning. Messi did some stretching and running on his own.

Asked about the quadriceps problems of Messi, Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola has said at a press conference that it will be decided tomorrow if Messi will play tomorrow against Getafe:

"Messi is fine, it's nothing bad. He has some discomfort and he has been training apart from the group today, but he trained good. Until now he always had problems in the back of his leg, now it's in the front. We'll see tomorrow if he'll be in the match squad and if he plays. He sure looks motivated to play."

Read more:
Medical: Messi has quadriceps problems
Medical: Iniesta out for six to eight weeks
Medical: Abidal out for three more weeks

Benzema agent confirms Barcelona interest

Karim Djaziri, the agent of Olympique Lyon forward and French international Karim Benzema (20), has confirmed to French football site Algerie News that Barcelona is one of the European top clubs that is closely following the French striker.

Olympique Lyon would be informed about the interest of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United. The three clubs would have contacted the agent, with whom they are still talking, wanting to sign the player next summer.

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that, although the performances of Benzema during the European championships in June were disappointing to the Barcelona technical staff, the player continues to be one of Barcelona's transfer priorities for the summer of 2009.

Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain keeps working hard on the deal and a transfer of Benzema would not be linked to a possible renewal of Barcelona player Samuel Eto'o.

Read more:
Barcelona one of Benzema's favourite clubs
Barcelona working on Benzema transfer
Benzema only an option if Eto'o doesn't renew

FCB Miami: Barcelona has its eyes on the US

author: Greg Johnson
Los Angeles Times
date: 17 October 2008

With a trophy case chock-full of Spanish League, Copa del Rey, Spanish Super Copa and UEFA hardware, FC Barcelona clearly knows something about soccer. Now the club hopes to bring its winning ways to North America.

Barcelona's chosen portal is Miami, which is competing against St. Louis, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Atlanta and Portland to secure one of the two MLS expansion franchises that are scheduled to come online in 2011.

The proposed Miami franchise would play its home games in the new soccer-friendly stadium at Florida International University, and has drawn strong political support in Miami. Barcelona is partnering with Bolivian-born Miami businessman Marcelo Claure, founder of the wireless communications company Brightstar.

During a telephone interview on Thursday afternoon, Barcelona president Joan Laporta described his club's plan in simple and direct terms: import Barcelona-style futbol to the the States, improve the quality of MLS Play, build the Barcelona brand and, in the process, "make a better world."

The latter objective, Laporta said, is evident in the club's decision to hand valuable real estate on its jerseys to UNICEF rather than leasing the space to a for-profit. "That is a message to the world," Laporta said, "that Futbol Club Barcelona is returning things to the world, to the society."

If the Miami bid succeeds, Laporta said, Barcelona would stick close to its philosophy of drawing up-and-coming players from athletes enrolled at its soccer academies. And, yes, Barcelona would establish academies in the U.S. to funnel athletes into its system.

Laporta wouldn't rule out importing a European superstar from Europe to anchor an MLS franchise. But he also emphasized the importance of young players trained in Barcelona's ways. "It is better to build with players that have the hunger to win," Laporta said. "We would want this franchise to be very competitive."

Laporta said that Miami was chosen because of synergies with Claure, who already is involved with soccer, as well as the demographics of South Florida. Though the last professional soccer team to play in South Florida, the Miami Fusion, folded seven years ago, Laporta is confident that there are "plenty of supporters of soccer" if the team offers the right kind of game.

As for the naysayers who hold that futbol won't succeed in the U.S., Laporta points to MLS franchise price tags that rose from $5 million a few years ago to $40 million in the most recent league expansion. "We are sure that our franchise will be, first of all, competitive in sporting affairs. Secondly, it will be profitable for shareholders, for the owners of the franchise."

The best way to reach those dual goals, Laporta said, is to "touch the hearts of the people in the Miami area. This is important, and we know how to do it."

Read the full and original article here

Read more:
Interview with Barcelona partner Claure
Henry could leave for Miami in 2010
Weighing the seven bids

Barcelona wants to renew Eto'o until 2012

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona wants to renew the contract of Barcelona forward and Cameroonian international Samuel Eto'o (27).

Both the club and Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola are delighted with the attitude and the involvement of Eto'o on and off the pitch this season.

Barcelona has already made the first steps to offer the striker an extension of his current contract that expires in 2010 and the negotiations will be started once Barcelona players Xavi and Busquets have signed their renewals.

It is expected that Barcelona will offer Eto'o to sign for another extra two years, until the summer of 2012. Despite already being one of the top-three earners of the Barcelona squad, the Cameroonian player will probably ask for a serious pay rise.

Read more:
Renewal or exit for Eto'o
Eto'o: "I have no intention of leaving"
Benzema only an option if Eto'o doesn't renew

Youth: Icardi called-up for Argentina U-17

Barcelona Juvenil B forward Mauro Icardi (15) has been called-up for the Argentinian under-17 national team.

Icardi will play several friendly matches with the national team in December as a preparation for the World cup under-17 that will be held in Nigeria next year.

Read more:
Youth: Anselmo called-up for Equatorial Guinea
Barcelona monitoring Irish talent McCarthy
Youth: Pacheco explains Liverpool move

Watch Icardi in action:

Friday 21 November 2008

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 Getafe on Sunday.

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 4 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 the most points at the end of the season, can call himself the winner.

This is the tenth time this game is organized.




mario ch
Dan R

Book of the day: Män som hatar kvinnor

The men who didn't love the women

when Barcelona travelled to Basel, Guardiola was seen buying this book by Swedish left-wing journalist and writer Stieg Larsson (1954-2004) at the airport

Medical: Messi has quadriceps problems

Barcelona's medical staff has announced that Barcelona right wing attacker and Argentinian international Lionel Messi (21) got injured at the end of the training session earlier today.

Messi had some troubles in the quadriceps, the muscles on the front of the thigh, of his right leg. Several medical tests have shown that the player doesn't have a serious muscle injury.

The availibity of Messi for Sunday's game against Getafe is doubtful although it is not yet clear if and how long the player would be out. This will depend on the evolution of the troubles in the coming hours and days since the club in the first place wants to exclude further risks.

Read more:
Medical: Messi has high injury risk
Medical: Iniesta out for six to eight weeks
Medical: Abidal out for three more weeks

Victor Vazquez could be promoted next

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona Atlètic attacker Víctor Vázquez (21) could soon become the next B team player that is promoted to the first team by Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola (read more here).

Despite some injury problems, Vázquez, who made his first team debut last year against Recreativo, is having a good season with Barcelona's second team. The Catalan player, whose contract expires in 2010, has already been training several times with the first squad this season (read more

Read more:
Barça B: Victor Vazquez and Jeffren sign renewal
An introduction to the coming stars
Victor Vazquez could be promoted to first team

Guardiola meeting convinced Gudjohnsen to stay

Asked about the rumours linking him with an exit last summer (read more here), Barcelona attacker and Iceland international Eidur Gudjohnsen (29) has repeated in an interview with Catalan radio station RAC 1 that he decided to stay after talking with new Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola:

"When I chose to stay at Barça last summer, it was because I felt that people here hadn't yet seen the real Gudjohnsen. After talking with Guardiola, I decided not to listen to any offers. He told me that I would get opportunities, I have been patient and it turned out well.

I've always made clear that I didn't come here to enjoy the sun. Right now I'm very happy. I've noticed that Guardiola believes in me and that the teammates respect me a lot. Besides that, I'm playing more in my favourite position now, coming from the second line."

Read more:
West Ham again interested in Gudjohnsen
Gudjohnsen: "Guardiola reminds me of Mourinho"
Guardiola convinced Gudjohnsen to stay

Benzema only an option if Eto'o doesn't renew

Madrid sports tabloid Marca claims that Barcelona is interested in signing Olympique Lyon forward and French international Karim Benzema (20) next summer (read more here).

A transfer of the French striker is nevertheless only an option if the contract of Barcelona forward and Cameroonian international Samuel Eto'o (27) couldn't be renewed.

Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola would think that both players are candidates for the centre forward position and cannot play together, while the club isn't willing to spend a huge transfer fee to let one of the two forwards sit on the bench.

Barcelona plans to offer Eto'o a renewal later in the season but the negotiations on the contract extension will not be started this year (read more here). The current contract of Eto'o expires in the summer of 2010.

Read more:
Barcelona proposes Eto'o-Benzema swap

Pique: "Milito is like a mentor to me"

Barcelona player Gerard Piqué gave an interview to Catalan sports paper Sport.

The decision to return to Barcelona looks to have been the right one, you must be enjoying things.
I sure am. I'm delighted because the trust I'm getting from the coach is wonderful. A football player needs to feel backed by his 'boss' and Guardiola is a coach who is supportive and demanding at the same time. I'm grateful for that.

Playing with the team of your heart is a problem or something to be proud of?
For me, it's a true honour. It's what I have always wanted. Few people are fan of the club like I am and to me it's a child's dream that is coming true. But in this club you have a lot of culés. Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, Víctor, Busquets...

But now everyobdy has an opinion about you.
And I love it. I'm one of them. I'm living with this club since I got aware of things and if this is the price I have to pay to play here, no problem.

The methods of Guardiola seem strange to you or they can be compared to those of Ferguson?
Guardiola is the most modern and professional coach I have known. The one who is most looking at the details and the one who is the most crazy about football. It's a pleasure to work with him.

Give us some examples.
There are thousands. The details of the set pieces, the analysis of the opponent, the continuous motivation...

When Guardiola calls you to come training the day of the game and let you free for the rest of the day, you're returning to your place in the afternoon?
Always. I could stay with my parents or my grandparents, but I like to go home, lay down, take a nap, watch a dvd and then return to the stadium.

You're afraid to lose your spot if Milito returns?
I will never see Milito as a rival because he has helped me a lot since we played together in Zaragoza. Despite him being injured since I arrived here, we're talking a lot and I see him more as a mentor.

You're playing great at the moment.
I can't complain. I feel very good, things are going well and I'm totally focused on my work. The team is doing great and we're all very much involved.

How come you didn't play with the under-21 this week?
It's nothing. They told me that they wanted to try the next generation and you shouldn't look for anything else.

But you should be getting ready to play the World cup in 2010.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I wouldn't say 'no', but South Africa still seems very far away for me now. At this moment I'm concentrating on Barça and winning a lot of trophies here.

This was the second and last part of this interview.

Read the first part here:

Read more interviews with Barcelona players here

Ex-Barça: Rivaldo renews with Bunyodkor

Uzbek club Bunyodkor has officially announced that former Barcelona player Rivaldo (36) has renewed his contract with the club.

Last August, Rivaldo signed a one-year deal with Bunyodkor (read more
here) but has now signed earlier this week a contract that will link him to the club until December 2011.

Rivaldo is quoted on Bunyodkor's official website as saying that he feels good at the club: "I want to help the progress and the development of football in Uzbekistan. I like the country, I like the conditions which has been created in my club and I decided to stay here for several years."

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 super cup in 1997.

Read more:

Bojan not considering to leave on loan

Asked if he would consider to leave the club on loan in January because of a lack of playing time, Barcelona forward and Spanish youth international Bojan Krkic (18) has said at a press conference that he's not thinking about that option:

"The career of a football player is full of good moments and moments that are not that good. I'm certainly not going though a bad moment, it's just that I'm not getting a lot of minutes. But I'm calm and happy because I'm playing at the best club in the world.

If I wouldn't have had so many minutes of playing times and so many chances last season, I could have considered to go on loan this season, but the circumstances aren't there. Last year I unexpectedly played a lot but I'm just starting in the world of football and what I'm going through now helps you to be prepared for the rest of your career.

I'm still making progress. I'm always part of the match squad and I participate in most of the games. I play less than last year but the season is very long. I'm only 18 year old, everybody would like to be in my place. People talking about a loan, only makes me more motivated to work hard and to grab the chances I'm getting."

Read more:

Arsenal worried about Cesc returning to Barcelona

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that English Premier League club Arsenal is afraid that Arsenal midfielder and Spanish international Cesc Fàbregas (21) could force a transfer to Barcelona and has therefore prohibited the player to make public statements about Barcelona.

Cesc starts to get frustrated about the lack of trophies won at Arsenal and the English club knows his dream is to return to Barcelona one day. The Catalan midfielder could look for a transfer next summer and Arsenal wants to avoid too much speculation.

Read more:

Thursday 20 November 2008

Number of the day: 12


the number of times Barcelona hit the woodwork in eleven league games

Medical: Iniesta could be ready for Madrid game

Catalan sports Sport claims that Barcelona player Andrés Iniesta is recovering well from the quadriceps injury he suffered during the Champions League game against Basel on 4 November (read more here).

Although it has been scheduled by the medical staff that Iniesta could reappear on 4 January against Mallorca, since he will have totally recovered by then, it's not excluded that Iniesta could be available for the game against Real Madrid on 13 december or the game against Villareal one week later.

Read more:
Medical: Iniesta out for six to eight weeks
Medical: Abidal out for three more weeks
Medical: Toure has to rest for two days

Barcelona interested in Belgian talent Hazard

Belgian newspaper De Standaard claims that Barcelona is very interested in Lille attacking midfielder and Belgian youth international Eden Hazard (17).

Hazard, who made his debut for French first division team Lille in October 2007, renewed his contract with his club earlier this week until 2012. The Belgian midfielder made yesterday his debut with the Belgian senior national team.

Hazard was one of the star players at the 2007 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship held in Belgium, in which Belgium reached the semi-finals, only to lose to Spain on penalties.

Asked about the rumours linking him with several European top clubs, among which Barcelona, Hazard said to the newspaper that he's now focusing on Lille: "When I chose to join Lille four years ago, that was because the club has an excellent youth academy. I've made a lot of progress but Lille knows they shouldn't burn me too early. This season, I'm almost always part of the first team, but I have to go step by step.

People compare me with Bojan Krkic, which is flattering but Bojan plays at a higher level. He plays with an absolute top club like Barcelona and he's also one year older. Nonetheless, we played with the national U-17 team against Spain and Bojan in the semi-finals and although we lost the game, I certainly wasn't worse than him that day."

Read more:
Barcelona monitoring Irish talent McCarthy

Ex-Barça: Patrick Kluivert to AZ Alkmaar

Wach a video of Hazard here:

Alves: "Guardiola will create an important legacy"

Barcelona player Daniel Alves gave an interview to the official FIFA website.

Dani, let's look back at the early part of your career. You were only 19 when you left Bahia for Sevilla. How did the move come about?
I was a little fortunate because I was playing for Bahia when I was called up for the South American U-20 championship, a tournament that always attracts the leading scouts. I played well and that's where the Sevilla people first spoke to me and said they were interested in signing me. Before the winter transfer window closed the club reached an agreement with Bahia.

Did you ever imagine Sevilla would go on to win the UEFA Cup twice?
No, I never thought that. When I arrived we were a fairly modest team whose main objective was to stay in the first division. We got stronger, though, and fortunately I was able to grow along with the team.

What were the main factors in the team's emergence?
Signings played a fundamental part but to my mind the most important thing was that we had a real team spirit. We were motivated and determined to change Sevilla's image in the Spanish game.

Out of all those signings, which one surprised you the most?
Frederic Kanoute was one of them. I had never seen him play for Tottenham and I was amazed that such a tall player could be so skilful and mobile. He was the focal point of the team, and when Luis Fabiano arrived they formed a strike partnership that commanded a lot of respect from other teams.

When you played at the FIFA U-20 World Cup UAE 2003 you were still adapting at Sevilla, weren't you?
It was during that tournament that Sevilla decided they wanted me for good. Bahia had agreed to loan me out for a season after the South American championship, but I played really well in the UAE. That's when Sevilla decided to make the move a permanent one.

After that it was another three years before you were named in the full national team. Would things have been different if you had been playing in Brazil?
Maybe I would have had more opportunities. I hadn't spent much time in Brazil so there were some people who didn't know my game, and the national team is so important in Brazil that it's not easy for players who aren't well known to get called up.

For 12 whole years, between 1994 and 2006, the right-back slot was occupied by one man, Cafu. Why do you think that no one came through in all that time to challenge for his place?
It's hard to explain a phenomenon like Cafu. He's a fantastic player and a true professional, a role model for others to follow. Like Roberto Carlos on the left flank, he defined an era in the Brazil team. As their successors in the national team we need follow the example players like them set.

Which of your fellow full-backs do you most admire?
There are a few who are in excellent form at the moment, like Maicon at Inter, or Belletti, although he's playing in midfield for Chelsea rather than right-back.

Is it fair to say you have more defensive responsibilities for Brazil than you did with Sevilla, for example?
Each situation, at Sevilla, Barcelona and Brazil, is different. We always have to be prepared for little changes and adapt to situations so that we can be as much use as possible for each coach we play under. They all have different styles.

And now that you have spent a few months at Barcelona, how would you describe Pep Guardiola's style?
Right from the start he has shown a tremendous determination to be recognised as a winner on the bench too, and that has really motivated us. I've got no doubt he'll achieve his aim. Pep has a truly unique way of looking at football and I'm sure he'll create an important legacy in world football.

You played several times against the great Barcelona side of Frank Rijkaard and Ronaldinho. Do you think the current team has the potential to be as successful and entertaining as that one?
Every coach and every player tries to create their own legacy and I don't think there's any need to make comparisons. That team earned their place in history by winning titles and playing good football, and that's what we have to go and do, play good football. If we can get the results to go with that, then we will build our legacy.

The UEFA Champions League is a trophy that Barcelona fans are always anxious to win. Would you say you were among the favourites for this year's competition?
Barcelona's such a big club that we're always among the favourites. This is one of the most difficult competitions there is, though. It's going to be a real challenge but I think we are ready to take it on.

Read the full interview here

Read more:
Schuster wanted Alves for Madrid midfield
Alves: "I'm grateful for the effort the club made"
Barcelona involved in five summer top transfers

FCB Miami: Barca serious about MLS involvement

Author: Keyvan Heydari

In mid-October, when an FC Barcelona delegation led by club president Joan Laporta disembarked in Miami for a surprise announcement of a Major League Soccer expansion bid, the waves rippled from New York to Barcelona. Since then, more details have been revealed, and Miami's joint bid between FC Barcelona and Bolivian cell phone magnate Marcelo Claure has started to take shape and gain strength.

Because Miami historically has been a fickle market for soccer despite its large Latino population, its diverse soccer groups were surprised and energized by news of the potential team. Speculation is that Laporta, who has vacationed in Miami, would live in Florida once his term as Barcelona president expires in 2010. According to Laporta, hiring the front-office personnel would be Barcelona's responsibility. "That is our specialty," he said.

Miami has several advantages. It's home to knowledgeable soccer fans, and it's the production headquarters for networks such as Univision, Telemundo and Gol TV, and it's one of the closest American cities to South America and to Europe. It also already has a club, Miami FC, which competes in the USL First Division.

Barcelona's exact role in the venture is not yet clear. "It's a very serious initiative, the way we do things at Barça. We would have the sporting lead in this project," said Laporta. "Also, we think Miami is the gateway to America and a cultural crossroads."

Miami also might be an attractive destination for European stars. Players such as Barcelona forwards Samuel Eto'o and Thierry Henry have vacationed in Miami in the past year. Dario Brignole, Barcelona winger Lionel Messi's commercial agent, also is based in Miami. He says it would make business sense and would be a good link for Messi down the line. (Messi just signed a deal to replace Henry in the Gillette ad with Roger Federer and Tiger Woods.)

Barcelona -- which has a joint marketing agreement with MLS -- and Claure are asking the league to modify its expansion strategy, which foresaw a new team in Seattle for 2009, one in Philadelphia for 2010 and two more in 2011. MLS is expected to make a decision later this year or in early 2009. Claure and Laporta insisted their wish was to begin playing in MLS in 2010.

"We think we have all the ingredients in place," Claure said. "We're not very patient, and if we could, we would start in 2009. Never has a team of the quality of Barcelona made the choice of starting a 'sister' team in another league. This is the first time this happens."

The financial muscle of the 37-year-old Bolivian entrepreneur, president of the largest Hispanic-owned business in the U.S., is expected to smooth over any resistance at FC Barcelona, a nonprofit sports club. Claure is the owner of privately held Brightstar Corp., which has assets of more than $4.8 billion.

"This is a sweetheart deal. The financial risk is zero," said Joan Oliver, Barcelona 's general manager upon his return to Spain . "Barça has to become a global brand. If we don't get into ventures like these, then we would be overtaken by the teams that have new investors from the East and the Gulf."

Laporta and his traveling committee were aware that a constituency of Barcelona "socios" in Catalonia are debating the merits and faults of the MLS initiative. In an online poll of more 3,000 Barca fans, 56 percent were in favor of the proposed MLS franchise and 42 percent were against.

In an e-mail, Claure fleshed out how the joint MLS gambit came about and noted that he and Laporta have been talking about MLS since February. "It never made sense … that Miami did not have an MLS team," Claure wrote. Claure had several conversations with D.C. United shareholder Will Chang, but it was a few weeks back that Marcelo and Laporta met with Don Garber, commissioner of MLS, and MLS president Mark Abbott. "After the meeting, Claure and Laporta 'both decided that it would be a very good move to partner and bring soccer to Miami.' We said, 'Let's make it happen.'"

Local Miami soccer promoter Tom Mulroy said, "They are already involved in the sport, and that's good. I would have to reserve judgment until I find out exactly what Barcelona's exact involvement is. But if the team is not good, they risk their putting their name at risk."

Observers feel that a new South Florida MLS franchise has potential. "People here know what good soccer is about," said Munga Eketebi, FIU's soccer coach. Eketebi noted that Miami could be an entry point for Barca into the North American market, not for fans, but for nurturing players in Barcelona's famed youth academy. "You send Bojan [Krkic] here for a year, it would be tremendous," Eketebi said.

But Albert Vicens, a former Barca vice president, questioned the Miami initiative in an article published in El Periodico de Catalunya. "It seems to sign a deal with an unknown businessman, in a league that holds little interest for the Barcelona faithful," Vicens wrote. "If it's such a great deal, then why bring in a third party?"

Read the full article here

Read more:
Interview with Barcelona partner Claure
Henry could leave for Miami in 2010
Weighing the seven bids

Busquets renewal deal could be close

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that the contract renewal of Barcelona midfielder and Spanish youth international Sergio Busquets (20) is now very close and that the coming hours could be decisive.

With one or two meetings needed to finish the talks, the player's agent Josep Maria Orobitg could meet with Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain today to close the renewal negotiations.

There would be a principal agreement on the main aspects, with only some details left to be agreed upon. The new contract would be a five-year deal, with Busquets staying officially a B-team player the first year.
A low fixed salary will be compensated with high incentives, that can grow over the years which would make him earn from the fourth year on a wage that one can expect from a Barcelona player.

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo, that says that both parties already met three times, claims that a new meeting will be held at the end of this week. Madrid sports tabloid Marca claims that everything indicates that the meeting is scheduled for today.

Asked about the negotiations, Orobitg said in an interview with Catalan radio station COM Ràdio that the talks are going in the right direction: "Unless something bad happens, everything looks very good. We all want to close a deal now and have a happy end to this. I can't say it's 100 per cent sure that we'll reach an agreement soon, but the percentage sure is very high.

We have our own, very clear objectives. Busquets has in favour that he can leave for free next summer, that he's young and that he's going through a good moment. But on the other hand, we all know that the only thing he wants is to continue at Barcelona. He wants to be a Barcelona player and he's very satisfied working with the current coach."

Barcelona general director Joan Oliver has said in an interview with Catalan radio station Rac 1 that Barcelona isn't planning to offer him an exaggerated salary: "Both Busquets and the club want him to stay in the Camp Nou, but we'll pay him what we think is right for a rising player. Txiki and his staff have to come to a deal now."

Read more:
Last meeting to seal Busquets renewal coming up
Juventus and Arsenal monitor Busquets talks
Principal agreement on Busquets renewal

Piqué: "Ferguson's English sounded like Chinese"

Barcelona player Gerard Piqué gave an interview to Catalan sports paper Sport.

How does it feel to be back, living in Catalonia again?
There's just no comparison possible between living in Maresme and living in Manchester, but I don't regret at all the decision I made. In Mancheser I learnt to be a football player because there's nothing else to do there. You can only play football.

Joining Manchester meant getting independent?
Of course, I always had lived with my parents in Barcelona. I had my friends from school and at the club. I was part of a generation of players that had won everything in the youth leagues. The change of environment was very hard.

Tell us about your problems...
Well, I wouldn't call it problems because I became a true player in Manchester. But I arrived without a very good knowledge of the English language and I got a bit lost in conversations.

And even more when talking to Ferguson...
The gaffer, which is how Ferguson is known in Mancheser, talks English with a Scottish accent which sounded like Chinese to me. But I wasn't the worst one, there are players in the current squad who still don't understand him.

So everything changed when you returned to Barcelona?
To Cabrils, to be more concrete.

Ok, to Cabrils. Why did you decide to live in the Maresme region while most of the star players live in Gavà and Castelldefels?
You've seen the peace, the silence, the view and the quietness you have here? It's great to be able to go out and walk along the sea to disconnect of everything. I bought the house I'm living in now when I was still playing with Manchester. I think it was some kind of compensation for my life there.

You will get in trouble because of the cockles and the ham we're eating now?
I hope not, but you'll notice that I'm controlling myself. Which can't be said about all journalists. Everything you eat should be recorded.

This food regime, monitored by a dietitian, is something new to you or you already knew that from your time at Manchester?
In England, it's horrible. Everyone ate what they wanted and if you know the English food, you can imagine what I'm talking about. Every two weeks we got into the 'folds machine' to test the percentage of fat in our bodies. It would be a scandal if people would see how some star players almost damaged that machine because they lived on hamburgers and beer.

This was the first part of this interview. Tomorrow you'll read the second part, with Piqué talking - amongst other things - about the competition at Barcelona and the chance of playing the World cup in 2010.

Read more interviews with Barcelona players here

Pedro loan could get Barcelona Celta talent Joselu

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Spanish second division club celta Vigo wants to sign a Barcelona player on loan in january.

During last summer, Celta sports director Ramón Martínez already tried to include a loan of Barcelona wing attacker and Spanish youth international Pedro (21) in the transfer of then Celta B player Goran Maric to Barcelona Atlètic (read more

With the team having a lack of wingers, Celta would still be interested in Pedro. If a loan of Pedro wouldn't be possible, Celta would want to sign Barcelona Atlètic wing attacker Jeffrén (20) on loan during the winter transfer window.

A loan of Pedro or Jeffrén could be part of the transfer of Celta Juvenil forward and Spanish youth international José Luis Sanmartín Mato "Joselu" (18 - picture) to Barcelona. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid would already ahve asked for the striker and Celta is waiting for a concrete offer coming in.

Galicia regional newspaper El Faro de Vigo claims that Celta doesn't plan to use Joselu as change in January although with the bad financial situation of the club, every player is for sale if a good offer comes in. The contract of Joselu with Celta, including a 10 million euro° buyout clause, expires in 2013.

Read more:

Eto'o didn't play with Cameroon yesterday

Barcelona player Samuel Eto'o reached a last-minute agreement with his national team coach which prevented him from having to travel to South Africa.

With Seydou Keita also having found an agreement with Mali and Touré having to recover, none of the three African internationals played yesterday's friendly games with their country.

All three players participated in Wednesday's training. Barcelona Atlètic players Córcoles, Verdés, Víctor Vázquez and Xavi Torres also took part.

See more pictures about the good training atmosphere here

International: Friendly games overview

Spain defeated Chile 3-0. Barcelona players Puyol and Xavi started the game, Puyol was replaced after the first half (1-0), Xavi in the 70th minute (2-0). Xavi gave the assist for the 2-0.

Brazil defeated Portugal 6-2. Barcelona player Dani Alves came on as a substitute in the 77th minute (5-2).

Barcelona player Hleb lost with Belarus 2-1 against Cyprus.

France and Uruguay played 0-0. Barcelona players Henry and Cáceres started the game. Henry was replaced in the 72nd minute.

International: Marquez through on goal difference

Mexico stumbled into the final stage of the CONCACAF zone FIFA World Cup qualifiers on goal difference on Wednesday, despite losing 1-0 to Honduras and having two players sent off.

Honduras tops the group with 12 points, followed by Mexico and Jamaica on ten each. Mexico sneaked through on goal difference despite Jamaica's 3-0 win over Canada in Kingston.

Barcelona central defender Rafael Márquez played the whole game as captain of the Mexican national team and got booked.

1. Honduras 12
2. Mexico 10
3. Jamaica 10
4. Canada 2

The three goup winners and the three runners-up will form one group. The top 3 teams qualify for the 2010 World Cup. The 4th placed team enters a home-and-away playoff with the 5th placed South-American team.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Will December be the Decider?

Will December be the Decider?

How many points will la liga Santa hide in his bag for Barcelona?

Yeah...I know...We are still in November, but before the deadline approach, and we all get drifted by the sequence of events, let's admit it, we are all killing time till the "Dooms month," the make or break, and you can add any exciting label you like. We are so excited - and luckily not the worried team - that we may forget we still have some tricky games before we arrive to the flammable slice of our calendar, something I don't like, but thats something to talk about another time.

Since the beginning of the season, December was crowned as the month of thriller for La Liga, those who have heart problems need to take an early X-mass vacation, and watch NO games before the beginning of 2009!

All the games before December are warming up, the champion will be determined in December, after December its all about holding positions…December…December…December…But how realistic this irritating speech is?

Any football fan knows that nothing is definite at least before April, that’s when we can talk about the team with the best chances to win a title, but I cant ignore that this December Anthem charmed me, and made me curious to know the fact and the fake about this theory. Will December have the definite impact on La Liga? Not?

Of course every game is important and the December games earn you points, the same as November games do. Yet is it true that getting points from your direct rivals give you an edge to win the league?

I will pass you the numbers and you can make your own conclusions.

I picked the previous five seasons as a sample, and for every season I listed the Top-five teams of that season, with the points they earned playing against each other, plus a table of direct games' results as an additional info, so you can compare the points earned through direct games and the impact of these points on the final standings.



2005- 2006:

2004 - 2005:


Of course numbers do not tell all the facts, but it’s a sign, maybe in previous seasons winning against a direct rival offered the team a boost of moral to start a run of good results, so it had an additional impact that the numbers above may not show, but this year your next game will be also against a direct rival who already played against another top ranked team, so I neglect this factor for this season.

In addition we must not forget the impact of such results on the clubs' image, marketing returns and popularity, but that’s something that take place on the long run and it has nothing to do with the sports side of the game during the current season.

These numbers are useful for some, and will mean nothing for others, it sounded interesting for me while arranging it as a part of my obsession to analyze the analyzed analysis of this game, and felt this part worth sharing with you, I tried my best not to put my personal opinion so I don't effect (humbly) your own conclusion based on the tables above.

How will the results of this December mini-league effect on the team adventure toward the liga crown? How will December output define fans' expectations for the season? That's is for you to tell.

My last wish is that Guardiola show his players a similar report after the bloody December month ends, so that they don’t feel over-relaxed if they gathered most of the December points, and they don’t feel over-depressed if they didn’t.

Ramzi Tanani

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