Saturday 20 December 2008

Number of the day: 10


the number of cards given so far this season
as a consequence of faults made on Lionel Messi in the Liga

Henry: "Kurt Cobain was a genius"

Barcelona player Thiery Henry gave an interview to Catalan sports paper Sport.

What did you meet when you joined Barça?
Arriving here was a 'shock' because of the timetables, the travels. In England, the press or the fans never travelled with us. And we didn't have fans close during training sessions. If we wanted, we didn't see anyone. I adore quietness but here you can't be relaxed. It was a radical change. In England we had a private zone at the airports and on my first trip with Barça I was overwhelmed.

And regarding football?
It's different. The passion in the Premier League is unrivalled. The intensity, the fans...

Is there selfishness in football?
It's logic. A great football player has a bigger ego than normal, and that's why he's great. I played with Dennis Bergkamp, an incredible guy. They called him 'Ice Man' because he never smiled but in the dressingroom he was the bomb. He had an impeccable attitude. Great players have something extra, an element that others don't have. Football is complicated because you must have a selfishness that helps the team. If you can pass the ball but instead you score yourself and you help the team by that, that's good.

You have to communicate with each other?
It's vital. You have to learn from others. In your family, with friends, with your partner, at work. I have a lot of muslim friends and I like to talk with them about their religion. I like to understand their traditions. To know a man, you need to know his past, his origins, his roots.

Are you religious?
I was born and raised as a catholic but I don't practise it.

Is it clear to you who your friends are?
It is complicated because you're appraoached by too many people. When I started playing football, I had many friends. When I made my debut at Monaco, we won the league. I was a regular and the best player in France but it was hard trying to maintain the same level in the second year. I didn't play well, I had difficulties keeping my level and I had a really hard time. People said that I was not going to go to the World Cup and I had a breakdown. There are still people who believe that everything was given to me the easy way but I know very well who my friends are.

You prefer to be the best or the first?
I've said it many times but people think it's just some cheap way of making myself interesting. I could be the best player of the season or the top goalscorer but the most important thing is the team. Never in my life have I put my personal benefit first.

Who did you admire when you were young?
Van Basten and Michael Jordan. That seriousness in his face!

You like music?
Music is very important for me. I can tell you where I was the first time I heard a song. I like to go back to places where I spent my youth. With the music of Kassav' I can travel to Martinique, to Guadeloupe, recall things I did at home. With hip hop, on the other hand, I return to my neighbourhood. Music allows me to dream, to travel. I sit down in my couch, I put some music on and I'm off. I have a broad taste. I listen to Kassav', Nirvana, Kurt Cobain was a genius, Aerosmith, Luther Vandross, The Commodores, Al Green, Ray Charles, Public Enemy, 50 Cent, Eminem, Jay Z. Groups and singers who transmit something.

This was the third part of this interview. You will be able to read the other parts in the coming days with Henry talking -among other things- about his relationships and his vision on life.

Read the earlier parts of the interview here:
"I'm a bit of a loner beause of my youth"
"I find peace in Guadeloupe"

Marquez and Iniesta not in Villarreal list

Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola has earlier today announced the list of 19 players for the sixteenth game of the Spanish league against Villarreal tomorrow evening at 7 pm.

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

Pedro and Jorquera are not included in the list. Milito and Iniesta are not available because of injuries. Márquez is not one hundred percent and the medical staff doesn't want to take any risk. One player will still have to fall off the list tomorrow.

Barcelona had a last training session this morning. The squad will travel later today to Villarreal.

Xavi delighted with renewal

When leaving the club's offices after signing his contract renewal until 2014 (read more here), Barcelona attacking midfielder and Spanish international Xavi (28) has said to journalists that he's delighted with the extension of his contract:

"I'm very happy with everything. We've closed a very important deal. We reached an agreement rapidly because both parties wanted the same thing. We both wanted me to stay here for many more years. I cannot ask for more. I have been a culé my whole life. It's a privilege to be here for such a long time. My wish has become reality and I thank the club for the effort they have made.

With this contract I can continue for many years at Barça and I might be able to retire at the club. Cause when I hear that people nowadays play until they are 40 years old (note: a little punch to Puyol who said he wants to keep on playing for ten more years, while now being 30), I actually cannot be sure that I will end my career here.

Everything will also depend on how I'm feeling. Now I want to enjoy the moment. I go step by step and now I'm only thinking about the next game. I want to feel useful and I want Barça to feel good about me adding something to the team. I hope to keep everything going like it is now."

Read the complete Xavi renewal story from the first negotiations until the signature

CSKA Moscow left winger Zhirkov offered

Madrid sports tabloid Marca claims that CSKA Moscow left winger and Russian international Yuri Zhirkov (25) has recently been offered to Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain.

While Begiristain doesn't want to exclude the option and has asked time to decide, Barcelona president Joan Laporta and some staff members have welcomed the idea.

The left back position is one of the positions for which Begiristain is searching the market in order to strenghten it next season. Zhirkov is in that perspective one of best options. The Russian left back could replace Abidal and Sylvinho from next summer on.

Besides the interest of several other European top clubs, the main obstacle for a transfer seems to be the position of CSKA Moscow, that doesn't have the need to sell players. It would therefore be Zhirkov who has to put pressure on his club. After five seasons at CSKA, the left back would be willing to move abroad.

Read more:
Barcelona prepares offer for left back Vargas
Milan interested in Abidal
Barcelona still wants Portsmouth left back Belhadj

Pique attacked during training session

Training humour at the Camp Nou.

Alves: "I only get tired when I play with my kids"

Barcelona player Dani Alves gave an interview to Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo.

Guardiola said that the team only travelled to Sevilla on the day of the match to put less pressure on Keita and yourself, who returned to their former club. That was a good decision?
The truth is that you don't have to try special things in those kind of games. It was just another games and you don't need to get obsessed.

You would still have been welcome if you would have left Sevilla for Real Madrid, like Sergio Ramos and Julio Baptista?
I don't know why it is but in Sevilla they hate Madrid more. If I would have to leave, I knew that Sevilla would let me go to Barcelona.

How close were you to leaving Sevilla in the summer of 2007?
I wanted to go to Chelsea but when Antonio Puerta died, I didn't say anything more about a transfer out of respect for him. I closed the chapter because it was what God wanted. They said I went on a strike, but that's not true. I had some muscle problems and everybody knew about it. I still have a text message that proves it. In the world of football, there are a lot of lies but in the end the truth will always come out.

How do you think Keita is adapting?
He needs some more time than I, because he's playing in a different position than he was before but I'm sure he will get through it because he's incredibly talented.

Your connecton with Leo Messi on the right wing has made things easier for you?
Sometimes Leo gives us the time we need. He keeps the ball when it's needed and he gives us the chance to breathe during the games.

How did you deal with Ronaldinho the years before?
When I played with Sevilla against Barça or Real Madrid, I didn't worry too much about defending, only about attacking. If they wanted to catch me, they had to run a lot. I always say that the attack is the best defense.

You ever get tired during or after a game?
Never. I only get tired when I'm at home, playing with my children. When they sit on my back and those kind of things.

What has Guardiola brought to the team so that Barça leads the Liga in such a clear way?
It's a very intelligent person. The coach is still one of us. He thinks like a plyaer. He's half player, half coach.

Which player of the squad has the biggest winning spirit?
There are a lot but Carles Puyol is always very motivated. He fights for all of us. It's important to be able to count on players like that who get you in the game.

This was the second and last part of this interview. You can read the first part here:
Alves: "I want to bring Barça back to the top"

Read more interviews with Barcelona players:
Marquez: "You won't find a substitute for Eto'o"
Xavi: "I owe everything to my teammates"
Iniesta: "Victor Valdes is great at one on one's"

Van Persie to replace Henry next summer

British tabloid The Daily Mail claims that Barcelona is lining up Arsenal winger and Dutch international Robin van Persie (25) to take over from Barcelona forward and French international Thierry Henry (31) next season.

Barcelona believes that Henry will prefer a move back to England to be closer to his daughter.

Van Persie, who has a contract with Arsenal until 2011 but would find the chance to join Barcelona hard to resist, fits the left-sided attacking role Barcelona is seeking.

Read more:
Will Henry leave in January?
Barcelona wants Van Persie for the left wing
Henry not thinking about leaving Barcelona

Friday 19 December 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 Villareal 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 16th time this game is organized.




mario ch

Dan R

Barca nike
Cali Socis
B. Beltrocco


OFFICIAL: Xavi renews until 2014

Barcelona has today officially announced that Barcelona attacking midfielder and Spanish international Xavi (28) has signed this afternoon a contract renewal that will link him to the club until 2014 and includes a buyout clause of 80 million euro°. The former contract of the Catalan midfielder expired in the summer of 2010.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta, the player's agent Ivan Corretja, Barcelona sports vice-president Rafael Yuste, Barcelona board member Albert Perrín, Barcelona chief executive Joan Oliver, Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain, and Barcelona general director of football Raül Sanllehí assisted the signature of the Catalan player.

Xavier Hernández Creus joined Barcelona in 1991 and was promoted to the first team at the end of the year 1998.

read the complete Xavi renewel story from the first negotiations until the signature

Read more:
OFFICIAL: Bojan renews until 2013
OFFICIAL: Sylvinho renews until 2009
OFFICIAL: José Manuel Pinto renews until 2010

Champions' Luck?

So now we know, we will – again – play Lyon in the Champions League, and I can understand the feeling of relief we all have, I think we got the opponent we wished most.

Before the draw last year, I felt insecure having all the defense problems in Barcelona, so I wanted to be drawn against the team with weakest offense and that cause less troubles offensively so we have a better opportunity to score counting on individuals and qualify.

This year I had the opposite feeling, I wanted to face the team with the weakest defense. Because with the kind of backline we have - system and players - added to a fit Yaya and available Busquets and Keita, I believe that we have what we need to have a secured back and contain any opponent specially in the first leg – away.

So the concern was not to play a team that REALLY knows how to defend closing their field and aiming to steal qualification rather than winning it, and in that mean my most unfavorable was Inter (Italian + Mourinho = Busses parking), and then Chelsea, a team having players with physical character in the Defense and Midfield.

My second favorite was Arsenal, an attractive club but who don’t really know how to defend. Containing their offense isn’t a mission impossible, Walcott by physical dominance, and Ade by cutting communication lines in the midfieldwhen he gets bored in the box, while Van Persie will be most likely injured, at least for one of the two games.

But no doubt, Lyon was the favorite of all, and if the myth is true that there is something called “The luck of champions”, then we have all the reasons to feel good.

But lets keep in mind that they have some players to spoil the party, specially that Benzema, who will have all the reasons to play his best game of the season, a lot of things on stake, his future? And please if we had the choice either to tackle a player in the box or on the edge, let it be a penalty, I don’t want to give that Brazilian a free kick!

Below is an interview I made with Julien, the administrator of Lyon blog on the net “quinesaute” before the draw.

How do you evaluate Lyon's performance in the CL and the league?

In the CL, the overall performance of Lyon is not very convincing. In the defensive phases, in particular, I have read that Lyon is the worst defense of qualified teams in CL. This is a matter of worry.

From a certain point of view, the team suffers for its inexperience and some injuries of key players have changed the face of the defensive line (Bodmer, as central back, Clerc and Réveillère, in the right side). Lyon however shows a great determination. In many games, the team came back in the game after being scored (1st games vs Fio and Steaua, 2nd game vs Bayern, even if in this case the team did not equalize).

Therefore, the main quality of Lyon is its determination and the individual qualities of some of its players - Benzema and Juninho for its free kicks. In the collective game, the quality is not sufficient. Lyon is not improving from this point of view, and the team is quite far from the collective, tactical strength that it had two or three seasons ago (with players like Diarra, Essien, Tiago in the midfield).

In the league, the performances of Lyon are worse than in CL. The team has some difficulties to switch between the competitions. It does not show the same determination, concentration. It therefore show some very poor games and suffered logical defeats (Rennes : 3 - 0, Paris : 1 - 0, Nantes : 2 - 1).

One of the main weakness of the team is its poor ball possession: the transitions between defense and forwards are worse than ever. The defensive midfielders are too often giving long balls to the only central forward (Benzema). And even if Benzema is a crack, it is not sufficient to beat other French teams, and for us, fans of the team, it is a very poor football.

Do you watch Barcelona games? What are your impressions?

I have watched too little games. But I think that Barcelona is a great, great team. It has a strong collective power. For instance, the way of pressuring the opponents is impressive. Also, the manner for the team to manage the game is very interesting. We feel that Barcelona has the control of the game. And can make a goal when they want (it was what I felt watching the game vs Valladolid).

How do you feel now that there is a chance Barcelona and Lyon may meet in the knock out stage?

Barcelona is better than last year, and Lyon has not improved its football despite the arrival of Puel as manager. And last year Barcelona easily beated Lyon in Nou Camp (3-0).

What are the strengths you can count on to beat a team like Barcelona? Where do you see Barcelona's weakness?

Determination and Benzema are the main strengths of Lyon. Maybe, against Barcelona, the dynamics of the team can be strength. Actually, Lyon cannot rivals with Barcelona in the ball possession, or with the technique quality. Lyon has only few chances, if it plays a direct game, dynamic and powerful, more Germanic than Latin, and would need great finishing qualities.

What makes Barcelona dangerous?

The technique qualities of individual players and the collective strength of these individual players that are making a strong team, all together, thanks to Guadriola's remarkable job. Plus the finishing of Etoo.

What kind of games do you expect between the two Clubs?

A great domination, ball possession of Barcelona. Few occasions for Lyon, and the hability of Benzema or Lyon's striker in finishing these few opportunities would determine the score of the game. But Barcelona has clearly more chances than Lyon.

Do you prefer to meet another club instead? Which team you will be glad to be drawn against on Friday? Why?

Another team, sure. Porto would be a team of Lyon's level. And I appreciate Portuguese football. It would be my first choice. Pana also. Lyon has already played vs. Barcelona, Manchester or Roma. I don't like Italian football and the city of Turin, so forget Juve. I also would appreciate to play Liverpool, for its mythical and because Lyon never plays against this team. Being in Anfield should be a great experience.

Ramzi Tanani

Henry: "I find peace in Guadeloupe"

Barcelona player Thiery Henry gave an interview to Catalan sports paper Sport.

Your family originally comes from Martinique and Guadeloupe. You're in touch with those roots?
A person looks for himself and when I was trying to build my personality I didn't forget that's were my parents came from, despite being born and raised in Les Ulis. I knew the music, the culture, the food, they spoke Creole to me. One always looks for his roots and when I travel there, that's where I find peace.

You feel at home there?
When I go there, I feel naked. Nobody watches me. When France won the World Cup, I went on holiday to Guadeloupe, more specifically to La Désirade, a small island. There were celebrations but the look of the people is different. Everything is more normal. The day I arrived, there was a dinner at the house, they played bongo, everybody came to my house to sing... But the next day, everything was over! I'm just walking around in shorts, I drive around on my Vespa, wearing no shoes.

You're describing paradise.
It is. To me, those are incredible moments, life to the fullest. Sometimes people think I'm dull, but that's not the case. What happens is that I don't understand euphoria. I've been playing football for fourteen years but I still have a hard time understading that. I'm always very calm. I would like to be the Thierry Henry from La Desirade, the son of Antoine and Maryse. I like to go unnoticed and that's why I also like to go to the United States.

Do you like the anonymity?
I find it hard to understand that people think that football players are different. We are not. Yes, I'm a football player but I have good days, bad days, problems like everyone, feeling happy, feeling sad...

You have been described as a loner.
I like to be alone, sometimes. It reminds me of my youth. It's a way of living. I also like to be with my friends but my life has always been like that. At Arsenal, at Monaco, I always liked to stay at home alone.

Do you feel fortunate?
I make a life of my passion, which is football, but it's not easy to get there. I feel privileged because there are people who have a job for which they wake up at five o'clock in the morning and on their way they're thinking about how they don't like what they're doing.

You feel like you didn't yet show the real Thierry Henry here?
It was the same in England. Or I didn't talk, or I talked very little. For me, the important thing is to be sincere and to talk when you feel the need to do it. In the world of football there are people who do things without feeling them, in an artificial way and that's not my style because I'm honest and you get what you see. In England, they asked me why I didn't celebrate my goals. I will explain you something.

Tell me, tell me...
I was around ten years old. I had played a match during which I had scored six goals. I sat in the car with my father and he looked very serious. I asked him what was going on and he asked me if I was happy. I replied that I was but he blamed me for missing a centre in the tenth minute and a goal in the fourteenth miunute and a control... Every game, it was like that! Since then, when I score a goal, I thought more about the chance I have failed before than about celebrating. My father didn't talk about the good things and I grew up thinking about how to improve my mistakes.

Does it worry you that people might have a wrong image of you?
Look. When the season began, a month after having played at Numancia, I still was questioning my performance in that match. I have blood in my veins. What happens is that when I'm angry, you can notice it a lot.

Which is normal...
It's my sport, my life but you cannot only judge a person by his work. When I'm playing, I cannot smile. I had a though upbringing and I always keep my parents in mind. When an actor plays a sympathetic role, that doesn't mean he's a nice guy for 24 hours.

This was the second part of this interview. You will be able to read the other parts in the coming days with Henry talking -among other things- about his relationships and his music taste.

Read the first part of the interview here:
"I'm a bit of a loner beause of my youth"

Medical: Marquez still uncertain for next game

Barcelona central defender Rafael Márquez (29) is still uncertain for the last league game of the year, against Villareal on Sunday.

Although yesterday and this morning, Márquez has been training with the group, the player couldn't participate in the whole session due to an overburdening of the hamstrings of his left thigh. After doing the first part with his team-mates, the defender did some individual exercises with Barcelona's physical coaches.

Read more:
Medical: Iniesta could return against Villareal
Medical: Milito return three to four months away
Medical: Marquez uncertain for Villareal game

Puyol wants to retire at Barcelona

Asked about his future at the club, Barcelona central defender and Spanish international Carles Puyol (30), whose current contract expires in 2010, has said in an interview with Catalan radio station Ràdio Catalunya that he hopes to be able to retire at Barcelona:

"The truth is that I'm still dreaming of retiring at the club and Barcelona has been informed about that. I'm still able to play for a while. I think I have ten years of football left.

Physically, I feel very good and Barcelona officials know that I want to stay here for many more years. I don't think I should be compared with Maldini. What I can say is that at this moment I'm feeling good. Ten years is just a number, you shouldn't take it literally. The day that I'm not enjoyiong myself anymore or that I can't handle the rhythm anymore, I will end my career."

Read more:
Puyol could be next on renewal list
Top ten most official Barcelona appearances
Negotiations with Puyol, Valdés and Eto'o to start

Lyon next Champions League opponent

Barcelona will play against Olympique Lyon in the 1/8 finals of the Champions League. Barcelona plays first away (Tuesday 24 February 2009) and then the return match at the Camp Nou two weeks later (Wednesday 11 March 2009).

The other games are:


Real Madrid-Liverpool
Inter-Manchester United

Barcelona interested in French midfielder Diame

Madrid sports tabloid Marca claims that Barcelona is one of the European top clubs that are interested in Rayo Vallecano defensive midfielder Mohamed Diamé (21).

The French football player, who joined second division club Rayo Vallecano last summer and had to leave Lens in 2006 because of heart problems, has a buyout clause of 6 million euro°.

Read more:
Barcelona making enquiries about Asenjo
Barcelona still wants Portsmouth left back Belhadj
Undecided Keirrison happy with Barcelona link

Edmilson: "Barça is the best display in Europe"

Former Barcelona and current Villareal player Edmilson gave an interview to Barcelona sports paper El Mundo Deportivo.

Have you adapted to your new club?
Luckily, there many similarities with Barcelona, and that makes everything easier. Athletically I still need to have better rhythm. But I am convinced that once February comes around, which is when everything gets decided, I'll be in good shape.

And your aspirations are the same they were in Barca?
The main favorites are always Barca, Madrid, Valencia and then it's us, Atletico and Sevilla... After our matches with the important teams we will see where we are at and what our aspirations are.

How do you think Barca is doing?
Right now its the best display in Europe: beautiful, efficient, and well balanced in defense as well. It seems ready to be on top.

Do you understand such fast transition from a team that was loosing?
I don't think that the previous team was a loosing team. After winning two league titles and a Champions it was a winning team, but as the proverb says, "it was once". There was need for changes in players and coaches and those that have arrived have done so with a new mental attitude, adding to the quality the team already had.

You said that there were "black sheep" in the dressing room. Now that you are no longer there, can you go into more detail?
When I had that interview, I said it speaking in general terms about footballers, not just us. About the compromise that one needs to have with ones identity. Our careers go by very quickly, and my intention is to let everyone know that we, since we get paid so well, need to fulfill our responsibilities. But I wasn't signaling anyone from the dressing room out. It was not directed at any type of player nor anyone in my team. People speculated that it was Ronaldinho, Deco, Eto'o, Marquez... but my intention was not to signal anyone out.

But you reported that something was not working.
Yes, I reported that something was not working well within the club. It could have been us the players not working hard enough to obtain good results, the coaching staff for not being stern enough, the front office that never came down to talk to us. Its clear that Edmilson did not have to come out and say what I said, but people new that more work was due on our part, more toughness from the coaches and more dialogue from the front office and that leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth because there was enough team to do much more than we accomplished.

Some of your ex-team members signaled Rijkaard as the sole responsible.
Frank was always the same person, when we won the league and the Champions League and the last seasons. The difference was that before we were much more committed to winning and fighting. I would not blame him. I would look at us first. He went out many times standing up for us when many thought that some players were not injured. All of us that partook in the last two years are responsible just how we were all responsible for winning before that.

What do you like most about your ex-team?
It's well adjusted both in defense and offense. They score a lot of goals which makes their opponents afraid, specially when they score first. This aside from having three or four players that mark the difference.

Which ones?
Messi, Eto'o, Xavi, Iniesta, with out them Barca would be a normal team. They are the head of Barca.

What about Guardiola?
I dealt little with him, but he doesn't surprise me. He is an intelligent guy who has been in many dressing rooms, worked with many players and knows football. You can see it.

Do you see yourself matching up against Barca in the Champions League final?
That would be fantastic, but this time we should win it cause Villarreal was close but did not go through to play the final because of the penalty that Riquelme missed. This final would be much more difficult then the one against Arsenal, that's for sure.

Translated by: Mario

Read more:
OFFICIAL: Edmilson to Villareal

Xavi to sign renewal today

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona attacking midfielder and Spanish international Xavi (28) will sign his contract renewal today.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta and Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain would return from Japan today. Since a deal was already agreed upon on 28 November (read more
here), the contract is ready to be signed.

Xavi will extend his current contract, that expires in 2010, until the summer of 2014. The Catalan midfielder will have a year salary of 7,5 million euro plus incentives, which would make him earn around as much as Thierry Henry, with only Lionel Messi and Samuel Eto'o being better paid.

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that both Xavi and Sergio Busquets could sign their contract renewals on Monday.

Read more:
Agreement on Xavi renewal until 2014
Xavi confirms renewal until 2014
Barcelona president confirms Xavi renewal close

El Clasico: Txiki Images

As promised, blog member Txiki, who was one of the lucky fans who chanted the victory in the Camp Nou on Saturday, sent us some pictures from the Clasico.

Thursday 18 December 2008

CL Draw: Inter!

As we all know, Friday will embrace a very exciting Event for football fans, Champions league. And Barcelona Opponent will be one of four, Arsenal, Chelsea, Inter, or Lyon.

To Discover how Inter Milan Fans feel now that the draw is approaching, I made short interviews with Michael Gagliano and Carl MH Barenbrug, two dedicated Fans of Inter.

My apologizes for them, and for the other friends I approached, for the Delay in posting the interviews for some, and for late contact for others, it has been a heavy schedule for me at my work.

The rest of the interviews will come during the period separate us from the Draw due time, for now lets read what the Inter fans have to say for us!

Michael Gagliano

How do you evaluate Inter performance in the CL and the league?

Unfortunately Inter have not been able to replicate their domestic league performance in Europe. As a team with phenomenal talents as Inter has, big things were expected of them and placed in such a group; they should have come away with more points. I agree with Mourinho in that I do not think a team should advance to this round with only 8 points.
In Serie A, Inter for another consecutive year have been showing great talent and strength as a team. They are working much better in the domestic league than in Europe and seem to fit better with their new manager there too. They show they can beat strong teams like Juventus, and our consistent in winning every week.

Do you watch Barcelona games? What are your impressions?

I do not watch them thoroughly, but I do follow la liga. They are one of the strongest teams in the world right now and it will take a great team to challenge them. That is my impression of Barcelona.

How do you feel now that there is a chance Barcelona and Inter may meet in the knock out stage?

I am excited about a potential match up such as this. They are both fantastic teams with world class players and historic traditions, and I think that it make for great football. It will be a true test for either team.

What are the weaknesses Inter suffers from and you guess Barcelona may benefit from to knock your team out of the competition?

I would have to say Inter's biggest weakness would be finishing big plays. Maybe it has been bad luck, but more in the first months of the league, Inter has trouble scoring multiple goals in a game and finishing scoring chances when they can. Winning 1-0 is still a win, but of course you are much better off scoring 3 goals. If barcelona can close down Inter's ability to make quick plays and send things over to the other side of the field, basically shutting down their forwards like cruz and ibrahimovic, they can beat them.

What makes Barcelona dangerous?

Barcelona has one of the strongest back lines of any team. Throughout 15 league games only 9 goals against. They have a strong goalie in Valdes, so they are a dangerous team because they can quickly shut down offense attacks. They have a skill of covering the flanks well and can take control of tricky plays.

What kind of games do you expect between the two clubs?

I expect a game with entertaining plays, fast movement of the ball, great chances and real quality. Mourinho will have everything on the line and he will make sure his boys are ready.

Do you prefer to meet another club instead? Which team you will be glad to be drawn against on Friday? Why?

I would like a match up with Liverpool or Porto also. Even though it would be good to defeat a strong team like Barcelona earlier in the tournament, I would like to see Inter take revenge on Liverpool after our loss last year. I think Porto is also a great match up considering our Portuguese influence on Inter.

Carl MH Barenbrug

How do you evaluate Inter performance in the CL and the league?

Up to this point (completion of group stage in the CL and round 16 of Serie A) I have a mixed reaction towards Inter's performances. The Champions League performances have not been particularly inspiring, and have dented a lot of fans' enthusiasm for Inter's main objective, which is to win the CL competition, however at the same time I feel the group stage has been focused on experimental tactics from our coach Jose Mourinho, so I shall remain optimistic. The league season however has been very impressive. I think Inter have played some excellent football, and have dominated almost every match, and to be 6 points clear after 16 rounds is a remarkable achievement so far for both Inter and Mourinho who is experiencing his first season in Italy. Furthermore, this seasons Calcio is far stronger and competitive than it has been for the previous two years, which makes Jose's contribution all the more impressive.

Do you watch Barcelona games? What are your impressions?

I have not watched a great deal of their games this season, however I have seen highlights from a number of them, and my general impression of them would be that they offer an unpredictable and unbelievable attacking force, which is unmatched anywhere in Europe. They have produced a squad which offers a great number of world class players, and a good mix of youth and experience. Their defensive qualities are their weakness, however not many teams can outscore Barcelona. This is a team I would like Inter to avoid in the first knockout round in the Champions League.

How do you feel now that there is a chance Barcelona and Inter may meet in the knock out stage?

I have the attitude that Inter should fear nobody in world football, but until Mourinho finds his best 11, which I don't feel he has yet, I would prefer to avoid Barcelona until the later stages of the competition.

What are the strengths you can count on to beat a team like Barcelona? Where do you see Barcelona weakness?

Our strengths is our physical strength and size. Inter are a very physical side with good height from defense to attack. Inter also have great character, and know how powerful they are. Individually, our strengths will derive from Cesar, Samuel, Maicon, Cambiasso and Ibrahimovic. Barcelona's weaknesses are from set-pieces. They don't offer great height through their team, so defensively, they can be exposed.

What are the weaknesses Inter suffers from and you guess Barcelona may benefit from to knock your team out of the competition?

What most worries me is Inter's speed. We are not the quickest side in Europe, whereas Barcelona are probably the fastest playing team in the world, so I would worry about counter attacks, however this would be my only worry.

What makes Barcelona dangerous?

In short, Lionel Messi. Almost every attacking move is through Messi, however a number of their players have hit top form now, such as Henry, Xavi, Puyol, and Eto'o. Barcelona's biggest strength is their speed of play and their movement. They certainly play the bets football in Europe at the current time.

What kind of games do you expect between the two Clubs?

If they indeed play each other, I would expect Inter to focus on the midfield to break up their attacking play and limit them to set-pieces and long range shots, which Barcelona don't particularly like doing. I think Inter are a much more physically strong side, and Barcelona might just be overpowered by the Nerazzurri, however I would predict high scoring games.

Do you prefer to meet another club instead? Which team you will be glad to be drawn against on Friday? Why?

Yes, I would prefer to meet a different team to Barcelona, however I do not fear them. Personally, I would prefer to be drawn against one of Man Utd, Bayern Munich, or Porto. I feel these games would offer a great footballing display.

I will try to update this post by more Interviews with Inter fans, beside the fans of other clubs, Keep following.

Ramzi Tanani

Messi will wear new boots on Sunday

During the Villareal game on Sunday, Barcelona player Lionel Messi will wear for the first time the new football boots from the exclusive line that was created around him by his sportswear sponsor.

The "Tunit F50 Leo Messi" boots will exclusively be worn by Messi. The silver-blue boots have the player's signature silk-screen printed on the side and the Argentianian flag, the number ten and the name 'Leo' embroidered on the tongue.

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