Saturday 3 January 2009

Match discussion: Mallorca

This evening at 8 pm bt,
Barcelona plays the seventeenth game of the season against Mallorca.

Mallorca is ranked 17th in the Liga, with 14 points which is one point above the relegation zone. Last game, the team drew 0-0 against Sevilla, starting with Lux; Josemi, Nunes, Ramis, Corrales; Scaloni, Mario Suárez; Martí, Varela, Aduritz; Arango

Barcelona forward Samuel Eto'o played for Mallorca before he joined Barcelona in the summer of 2004.

Mallorca squad list:
Santana, Josemi, Ramis, Scaloni, Mario, Varela, Webo, Jurado, Aouate, Keita, Navarro, Nunes, Ayoze, Arango, Martí, Aduriz, Corrales, Lux

Barcelona squad list:
Valdés, Pinto, Jorquera, Alves, Puyol, Márquez, Cáceres, Abidal, Sylvinho, Xavi, Víctor Sánchez, Touré, Busquets, Keita, Gudjohnsen, Hleb, Messi, Eto'o, Bojan, Henry, Pedro, Iniesta

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


From two hours before until two hours after the game you can join a match chat (read more here)

[Crosas] Celtic Glasgow-Dundee United

Celtic Glasgow played this afternoon their 21st league game of the season. The Scottish champions drew two all with Dundee United.

Former Barcelona midfielder Marc Crosas stayed on the bench for 90 minutes.

Marc Crosas joined Celtic Glasgow in 2008. Since Barcelona can buy Crosas back in the summer of 2010 for two million euro (read more here), this blog will follow the performances of the midfielder over the next two years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 30 September - Champions League group stage game 2: Villareal-Celtic Glasgow 1-0

Saturday 4 October - League game 8: Celtic Glasgow-Hamilton 4-0
Starter. Crosas starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 18 October - League game 9: Inverness-Celtic Glasgow 1-2
Starter. Crosas starts the game and is replaced by Hartley in the 95th minute (1-2). Yellow card.

Tuesday 21 October - Champions League group stage game 3: Manchester United-Celtic Glasgow 3-0
Injured. Crosas has a hamstring injury.

Saturday 25 October - League game 10: Celtic Glasgow-Hibernian 4-2
Injured. Crosas has a hamstring injury.

Wednesday 29 October - League Cup 1/4 finals: Kilmarnock-Celtic Glasgow 1-3
Injured. Crosas has a hamstring injury.

Sunday 2 November - League game 11: Hearts-Celtic Glasgow-Hibernian 0-2
Injured. Crosas has a hamstring injury.

Wednesday 5 November - Champions League group stage game 4: Celtic Glasgow-Manchester United 1-1
Injured. Crosas has a hamstring injury.

Sunday 9 November - League game 12: Celtic Glasgow-Motherwell 0-2
Injured. Crosas has a hamstring injury.

Wednesday 12 November - League game 13: Celtic Glasgow-Kilmarnock 3-0
Injured. Crosas has a hamstring injury.

Sunday 16 November - League game 14: Hamilton-Celtic Glasgow 1-2
Injured. Crosas has a hamstring injury.

Saturday 22 November - League game 15: Saint Mirren-Celtic Glasgow 1-3
Injured. Crosas has a hamstring injury.

Tuesday 25 November - Champions League group stage game 5: Aalborg-Celtic Glasgow 2-1
Injured. Crosas has a hamstring injury.

Saturday 30 November - League game 16: Celtic Glasgow-Inverness 1-0
Injured. Crosas has a hamstring injury.

Sunday 7 December - League game 17: Hibernian-Celtic Glasgow-Inverness 2-0
Injured. Crosas has a hamstring injury.

Wednesday 10 December - Champions League group stage game 6: Celtic Glasgow-Villareal 2-0
Injured. Crosas has a hamstring injury.

Saturday 13 December - League game 18: Celtic Glasgow-Hearts 1-1

Sunday 21 December - League game 19: Falkirk-Celtic Glasgow 0-3

Saturday 27 December - League game 20: Rangers-Celtic Glasgow 0-1

Saturday 3 January - League game 21: Celtic Glasgow-Dundee United 2-2

1. Celtic Glasgow 51
2. Rangers (20) 43
3. Dundee United 35
4. Hearts (20) 32

Pique not included in Mallorca list

Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola has earlier today announced a list of 22 players for the seventeenth league game of the season against Mallorca this evening at 8 pm.

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

Gerard Piqué didn't recover from the flu that kept him away from training since Thursday. The central defender was again examined by Barcelona's medical staff this morning. He still has fever and was sent home.

Piqué is the only player, together with Gabriel Milito, who is not included in the match list. Four players (one goalkeeper and three field players) will therefore still have to drop from the list in the coming hours.

After this morning's training session, the players have a lunch together. Afterwards, they have the afternoon off and are expected back at the Camp Nou at 6:30 pm, one and a half hour before thart of the game.

January exit of Jorquera unlikely

Asked about the rumours linking Barcelona goalkeeper Albert Jorquera with a January exit (read more here), Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola has said at a press conference that at this moment it looks like the player will stay:

"For now, he is training with the squad and he stays with us. I count on him for the rest of the season."

Read more:
Barcelona holds on to Jorquera
Do We Buy? Goalkeeper.
Jorquera is looking for a club in Spain

Schuster delighted with his season

Image of Bernardo, satisfied after reaching last season's objective:

Image of Bernardo, delighted after reaching this season's objective:

(click the cartoon to enlarge)

see more cartoons here

Live Match Chat: FC Barcelona - RCD Mallorca

(original post by OmarX)

Have you ever sat infront of your TV or computer while you were watching a FC Barcelona game and hoped you could share your excitement, feelings, and opinions with other fans LIVE as it happens?

We are proud to present you the new FC Barcelona Match Chat. Now you will be able to communicate before, during and after the match. The chat will be available from two hours before until two hours after the match. In the future this could turn into a 24/7 chat.

The chat is designed to be very user friendly and just requires you to enter your desired nickname and join (no registration required!). It is open to everyone, therefore make sure to invite your friends and spread the message. If you encounter any troubles or difficulties please put them here in the comments section or contact omarx in the chatroom.

To make all this work, we're setting up a moderator's system. Until that's in place, please keep in mind the following basic rules:

- on the public chat the main language is English

- you can hold private conversations by using the appropriate button you find below at the right of your screen
(mark the person you want to have a private talk with and click the button)

See you there!

Chat Link:

FC Barcelona - RCD Mallorca

(Saturday 3 January 2009 @ 20:00 barcelona time)

Chat starts around 18:00 - 6 pm

Kanoute leaves Barcelona door open

Asked about his future, Sevilla forward and Mali international Frédéric Kanouté (31) has unconfirmedly said in an interview withe the official Uefa website that he wouldn't refuse the chance to move to Barcelona:

"At this moment, I have a contract with Sevila and I'm feeling good here. But of course, playing for Barça or Madrid is something every football player would like... But you cannot know if this is really a possibility.

I don't think about retiring yet. I'm very happy here but nobody knows what the future can bring. I wouldn't mind retiring in Sevilla, if all parties concerned would find an agreement. I've lived the best years of my professional career here."

Read more:
Looking for a star
Marseille wants to sign Keita next summer
Barcelona considers buying top striker

Messi arrives late due to strike in Madrid

Dani Alves returned from holiday yesterday and took part in the evening training. Due to a strike at the Barajas airport in Madrid, Lionel Messi arrived too late in Barcelona and completed his training program on his own.

Gerard Piqué couldn't train for the second day in a row due to a flu. This morning, the defender will again be examined by the medical staff of the club. The team will train this morning a last time at 11:30 am. At 8 pm, Barcelona plays against Mallorca in the Camp Nou.

Friday 2 January 2009

Result - Rating the new guys: Alexander Hleb

This is the final result of this blog's "Rating the new guys: Alexander Hleb" poll:

10 --- 5%
9 --- 8%
8 --- 23%
7 --- 37%
6 --- 16%
5 --- 4%
4 --- 2%
3 --- 1%
2 --- 1%
1 --- 0%
0 --- 1%
Don't know --- 2%

Average score: 7,06

See other results:
Seydou Keita
Gerard Piqué
Dani Alves
Martín Cáceres

First positive meeting on Eto'o renewal

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona has made the first steps to extend the contract of Barcelona forward and Cameroon international Samuel Eto'o (27).

Because of the delicateness of the operation after Barcelona wanted Eto'o to leave at the start of this season, Barcelona president Joan Laporta has taken charge of the renewal. Over the last weeks, Laporta has been trying to restore the relationships with the player and his entourage. The positive contacts by telephone have lead to a first working lunch.

Eto'o would be ready to turn the page and is totally involved in the new project and Laporta has agreed that Barcelona will make a serious effort. While the player nevertheless isn't in a hurry to close a new deal, the club has the intention to renew the contract of the striker before the end of the season.

A deal seems to be possible, but it cannot be predicted when an agreement could be reached. There will be new meetings scheduled in the coming weeks and months. To avoid additional pressure, both parties have agreed to not make public statements on the negotiations.

Other clubs are meanwhile looking to sign Eto'o, whose current contract with Barcelona expires in the summer of 2010. While Inter Milan manager José Mourinho has urged his club to at least give the transfer of the Cameroonian a try, Manchester City would already have made the first steps.

An intermediary of the English Premier League club would already have contacted both Barcelona and Eto'o. Manchester City would be preparing a 60 million euro° bid for Eto'o, who will be offered a year salary of 15 million euro. The concrete offer could be made in the coming weeks.

Read more:
Messi and Eto'o on Manchester City wish list
Eto'o: "I have no intention of leaving"
Inter and Juventus ready to join race for Eto'o

Sylvinho wants to stay until end of the season

Asked about the rumours linking him with a January exit (read more here), Barcelona left back defender Sylvinho has denied at a press conference that he wants to leave Barcelona during the winter transfer window:

"At this moment, I'm focused on Barcelona and I don't plan to leave the club. I want to fulfill my contract, that expires the coming summer.

I'm satisfied with the games I have played so far this season. But of course, like every professional football player, I always would like to play more and have more minutes.

I'm happy to work with and be part of this squad. I think there's a very healthy competition between the players. We all give our best to give the coach a hard time choosing."

Read more:
Agent Sylvinho leaves door open for Celtic move
Sylvinho can negotiate with Celtic
Celtic Glasgow interested in Sylvinho and Jeffren

Xavi: "How did this happen?!"

Barcelona player Xavi gave an interview to Catalan sports paper Sport.

2008 has been a magical year for you. Despite Barcelona not having had a good season, you won the European championships with the national team and you got a lot of recognition, also by the media. Could you imagine that at the start of the year?
I'm always positive. I want things to go well and that's why I work hard. You always hope for the best and it has really been extraordinary. Being optimistic and working with modesty helps me, because like people say: the harder you work, the more luck you have. It's true that Barça hadn't a good season as a team, for different reasons, but later there was the Euro, I was voted best player... I really have a great feeling looking back at 2008.

The problem is that the higher you climb, the harder you can fall...
Of course, but you can look at the bottle being half full or half empty. I always see a full bottle. Now I want to continue making progress. If last year was good, I want this one to be even better. You'll always have negative people who say that if one year was good, the next will be bad, but that's not my point of view. This year it's possible to win trophies with Barcelona. It's also true that the media have kind of discovered me, but that's the least important thing for me. I just want to be focused on the game, together with my teammates, the coach and the fans. I might be in my best moment so far, but I hope the best is yet is come.

For 2009 to be a better year, the team shoudl win trophies...
At a club level, that's my biggest desire.

This season can be compared to the 2005-2006 season?
Well, I don't know. But the sensations are very good, in that sense it can be compared. As for the rest, the teams cannot be compared, the coaches either, the dynamics... But the feeling I have since June, how the team is working... You notice something has changed and that this team can do great things. Although we should continue to be aware of some details, we didn't yet have a bad series, we almost didn't lose a single game. We've done spectacular so far but the bad moments can come and that's when we'll have to be united. This year, there's an excellent atmosphere in squad, with some very nice details, people who are really keeping the squad together. I think there's a great harmony between all players. It can't get better.

It's being said that the 2005-2006 team had more quality, but that this year's team has more group spirit.
Because of my own experience, I don't like the comparisons that are being made in the world of football. I have been compared with Guardiola and Iniesta and I didn't like that at all. Comparisons never lead to something. It's impossible to compare players or teams. The Dream Team for example won four league titles, our team didn't yet win anything, so all those comparisons are ridiculous. But we have to stay positive and think that we can get there, why not.

How does the team feels about Pep Guardiola getting the credits for how things are going?
Pep is a very enthusiastic person, but it's logical that the talent of the team is also decisive. When you deal with a group, there has to be order and discipline. He has established that and the players are following him. If someone stops doing that, the group won't let that happen. Everybody has adapted very well to the new rules and we're all involved in the new project, with renewed desire and motivation... Only a few months ago, we were eighteen points behind Madrid and now we're twelve points ahead and you ask yourself "how did this happen?!". You have new motivations because there are people who have caused this.

How do you see Guardiola?
Guardiola is a football guy and a great person, who transmits his way of seeing the game, his passion for this sport and his enthusiasm to everybody on a daily basis. It's someone who is totally convinced about his ideas. Order and discipline were of course necesary but that's only the tip of the iceberg of what Pep has been doing.

This was the first part of this interview. The next parts will follow in the coming days with Xavi talking -among other things- about the global crisis and his teammates Eto'o and Messi.

Read more:
Transfer history: Xavi was close to Milan
Crosas: "The Masia marks your life"
OFFICIAL: Xavi renews until 2014

Barcelona considers buying top striker

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona is considering the transfer of a first class striker during next summer's transfer window.

Barcelona wants to keep on rejuvenating the forward line and with Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o going to take part in the Africa Cup in January and February of 2010, the club is looking at the options offered by the transfer market and is aware a serious investment will be needed if they want to finalize a deal.

Last summer transfer targets Valencia forward and Spanish intervational David Villa (27), Olympique Lyon forward and French international Karim Benzema (21) and Arsenal forward and Togo international Emmanuel Adebayor (24) would at this moment still be in poll position.

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona could at the end of the season get involved in the race with several other European top clubs to sign Benzema, whose contract with Lyon expires in the summer of 2013.

Read more:
Valencia rejects offer for Villa
Benzema and Cesc on the president's wish list
Adebayor one of the candidates to replace Eto'o

Puyol: "Things aren't won until you lift the cup"

Barcelona player Carles Puyol gave an interview to Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo.

Six months ago, the job of the players was to try to increase the morale of Barcelona fans and now it's to try to lower it. How you adapt to such a change in such short time?
Man, first of all I must say that the fans' morale can't be lowered because it must always be as high as possible. If I were a supporter I would try to live the moment and enjoy it as much as possible. The ones that must keep their feet on the ground are us players.

Try to explain how the same team that fell at the Bernabeu and crashed in the league last season, in this case with the same base, now can't be matched. Defend the phrase "Players are cheeky, they play when they want to".
First of all, I have to say that the loss at the Bernabeu was one of the saddest in my career, if not the worst. What happened to us was that we were going through a difficult phase, the dynamic was bad after everything that happened and it was difficult to win our matches. But we didn't doubt for a moment: we wanted to win, but we couldn't.

Why were you in such a negative dynamic?
I've often tried to explain what exactly happened but it's difficult. Football fluctuates often and there are many uncontrollable factors. It was like a collective depression in which we couldn't escape.

In contrast, the Barca of today is very strong and it may be easy to set aside everything that Rijkaard's team did....
I agree. It's not fair to compare a team at its best, like ours is right now, with the team of Rijkaard when his time was up. It's more fair to compare both when they played winning and spectacular football. The only difference is that this Barca team needs to win titles. The other project also worked and won titles, two leagues and a Champions league in five years, and that's that.

This surprising transformation is only explained by the arrival of Pep Guardiola?
Guardiola is certainly important in this project. He's most responsible and his decisions influence much. It's also important that in a new project it's easier for people to feel more important.

Is it because there are so many youth team products that the team has such a sense of unity?
The team is well and so is the ambiance, not because there are or aren't players from here, but because everyone, no matter where they're from, feel like they have a part in this.

Is there a danger that a team, so superior, ends up relaxing? Guardiola must pester you often with that...
Right now there's no lack of us hearing that. We all find it very clear. We haven't won anything and those who have been here the past years are very aware that things aren't won until you lift up the cup.

Translated by: AL

This was the first part of this interview. You can read the following parts here in the coming days.

Read more:
Milan wants Puyol to replace Maldini
Messi: "I'm growing with every match"
Puyol wants to retire at Barcelona

First training session of the year

Barcelona held the first training session of 2009 on New Year's day at 6:30 pm. Gerard Piqué caught a flu and returned home with 38.5° fever. Today he will again be examined by the medical staff to see if he can take part in the league game against Mallorca tomorrow.

Martín Cáceres returned one day early from holiday and trained with the squad. This afternoon, the last two players - Messi and Alves - will return from holiday and join the group.

Messi is dream for Juventus

Asked about which players he would like to see in a Juventus shirt, Juventus co-owner Andrea Agnelli has said in an interview with Turin sports taboid Tuttosport that Barcelona right wing attacker and Argentinian international Lionel Messi (21) is his dream transfer:

"There are so many players I would like to applaud... But I won't give you any names. Although I will make an exception for what would be an absolute dream: Lionel Messi."

Tuttosport claims that Barcelona has a tradition of selling its star players and that a transfer of Messi to Juventus in the next two years is not impossible. The Argentinian attacker could be available in six or eighteen months time for a transfer fee between 70 and 80 million euro.

The paper suggests that Juventus could reconsider selling their goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, for whom Manchester City would have offered 100 million euro° a while ago, in order to collect the financial means needed to buy Messi

Read more:
Messi's father leaves Italy door open
Inter president wants Messi at any price
Messi and Eto'o on Manchester City wish list

Thursday 1 January 2009

Rating the new guys: Alexander Hleb

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 last 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 Mallorca on Saturday.

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 5 pm barcelona time.

If you give your line-up before Guardiola announes his match list (or if 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 17th time this game is organized.




mario ch

Dan R

Barca nike
Cali Socis
B. Beltrocco

blaugrana poland

Eto'o: "Renewal talks should wait for the summer"

Barcelona player Samuel Eto'o gave an interview to Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia.

When he took over, Guardiola said that you weren't part of his plans. Things seem to have changed.
Although I wasn't part of his plans, Pep didn't say I wouldn't be part of the team. He recognized what we had achieved. There were 23 players in the squad last season, but some were given a greater responsiblity, which is normal. Ronaldinho, Deco and Eto'o didn't win games on their own. To be at my best, I need Puyol, I need Valdés, I need Xavi, and all the others. I accept the fact that I hasn't been at my best level over the last two years. It's true, but it's also true I have been injured. I'm not looking for excuses, I'm just saying that Pep hadn't coached me on a daily basis. So his point of view was normal. When he saw how hard I was working during training, I'm sure he said to himself: "Samuel has to stay". When we defeated the champions a few weeks ago, we celebrated together like we had won the league. When I missed the penalty, I told myself that I had to score. I was looking at the scoring board, to see how much time there was left. I started to feel tired, but I had to stay focused. I knew I had to score the one chance I would get. I scored and I started to run. Before, I had told Bojan that I would score, so I ran to him saying "you see, you see" and Pep was also there.

You've played for three Spanish clubs: the one that brought you here but wasted you, the one where you could end your career and Barça. What do you feel for Barça?
The president always says: "I love this club". And we all love it. Once you're part of this club, you don't look elsewhere anymore. Because of the way they treat us, the way the club works, the city... If things are going well, you can't compare it with anything. How could I not fall in love with this club? I also have a lot of feelings for Mallorca and I'm grateful they gave me a first chance when nobody believed in me. I would like to end my career there.

When will that be?
In 2010, I will be 29 years old and the World Cup will take place on my continent. I don't want to look like a fool there or show a lack of respect for the public.

You're thinking about the renewal?
I'm focused on my daily work. I still have a contract. If one day Barça wants me to continue, there will be time for that. If someone, the president or Txiki, tells me that we should sit down to negotiate, I will tell them that I don't want to be distracted now, that they should wait for the summer to settle it. For now, it's only about football and more football. There's no time for distractions, no talks about one euro here or one comma there.

This will be an expensive renewal...
One year there was a important club that wanted to sign me and they were ready to pay me whatever it took...

An English club that plays in a blue shirt?
I don't know (laughs). Anyway, I called the president and I told him that I didn't want to leave Barça, that I would let him know if one day I would. And if that day comes, I will leave as happy as the day they signed me. But I'll be a Barça fan until I die.

During the pre-season, the majority of the teammates asked that Eto'o would continue.
Thank you for reminding that. At a moment in which a lot of people had an opinion about me, my answer was my teammates who said I should stay. They see during the training sessions what I'm about. There were doubts about my attitude in the dressingroom but the answer of my teammates showed my real role. I'm not faking things and I'm a true teammate. I will always be grateful to them. It was a human detail.

That's where the team spirit comes in. Now everybody talks about the group, including yourself. What's the role of Guardiola in this?
I never thought about scoring my goals and that's it. We've lost two years while we had the best player of the world in the squad, everybody was to blame and who was the least to blame was Frank. He dealt with the dressingroom just like he had been doing since the first day. I think he showed being a great person by not changing his way of thinking. When we lost games, we weren't able to raise our head. Mistakes like that are made a lot. But now we have that extra experience. If you don't burn yourself, you never know what it is. But when you have burnt yourself once, you know fire can be dangerous. We will continue with modesty, like Pep wants it. He has used the right words. He, who never had coached in the first division, arrived and introduced the dialogue. And he keeps on doing that. Living like this has a lot of advantages.

You have the feeling that nobody can beat this team?
No, we cannot live things like the fans. We have a lead, but we're not even halfway the league. We know we're playing great, but we also know we're gonna have to face difficult moments. I just ask the fans to bring their enthusiasm to the stadium every game. The moment of celebrating will come later.

This was the second part of this interview. You will be able to read the next part on this blog in the coming days, with Eto'o talking -among other things- about Africa. Read the first part of the interview here:
Eto'o: "I live to be happy"

Read more:
Barcelona wants to renew Eto'o
Bojan: "There's still a lot left to learn"
Eto'o confused by Madrid reactions

Barcelona Is Winning With Style

author: Braden Phillips
source: New York Times

date: 24 December 2008

For some, watching FC Barcelona play soccer these days is akin to reading a book that is hard to put down. So much is working well that many fans do not want the season to finish and yet cannot wait to see what will happen in the end.

At the heart of the plot is coach Josep Guardiola i Sala, who is often called Pep and whose only experience guiding a team was one season with Barcelona’s third division squad. When he was chosen to replace the Dutchman Frank Rijkaard, making him the Spanish Primera Liga’s youngest head coach at 37, many were hard pressed to see the rationale.

The question gained urgency after the team scored only one goal in Guardiola’s first two games in charge — a loss and a tie. But then, his cure for the team’s ailments seemed to kick in: Barcelona won 15 of its next 16 league games, scoring 48 goals. The team enters the winter break with 41 points, its most ever at this stage, leaving second-place Sevilla 10 points behind.

"This team has the possibility of being one of the best in Barca history, ranking with the best of Cruyff, if it can sustain it," said Carles Rexach, a retired coach and a former assistant to Johan Cruyff. Cruyff led Barcelona from 1988 to 1996, when along with four league titles, it won its first European Cup and erased Barcelona’s stigma as second fiddle to Real Madrid.

Considering that Barcelona finished 18 points off the lead last season, the team’s turnaround has been resounding. Even Joan Laporta, club president and staunch supporter of Guardiola’s promotion, expressed his surprise. "We had all the confidence in Guardiola, but it was hard to expect that things would go quite this well," he said.

"I’m going to try to seduce my players because I believe in the power of the word," Guardiola said in June at a news conference. "They’ll have to learn that they’re not worth much alone, that talent and inspiration can only become great when they are at the service of the team."

He has taken on less-heralded players, like the Brazilian international Dani Alves and Mali’s Seydou Keita from Sevilla, and the former Barcelona youth team player Gerard Piqué from Manchester United. He brought in 20-year-old Sergi Busquets, who played for Guardiola in the third division, demonstrating the vitality of the team’s farm system.

But a majority of Barcelona’s starting 11 are the same players the team fielded last season. The veterans Eto’o and Henry both attribute their resurgence to Guardiola. "Giving Pep the credit is not an exaggeration," said Henry, who scored the winning goal last weekend against Villarreal, the team’s most recent victim. "We needed discipline and his style of football, the Barcelona way."

Guardiola grew up less than 40 miles from Barcelona, attended its youth academy, La Masia, and played for Barcelona for 11 years, six under Cruyff, who gave him his debut in 1990 at age 19. Until Cruyff, Barcelona had no distinguishable style, but since then the team has melded its identity with his philosophy.

No one represents this more than Guardiola, "the first great player to come out of the Barcelona system with the Cruyff philosophy wired into his boots," said Martí Perarnau, a sports columnist for El Periódico de Catalunya, a Barcelona-based newspaper. Guardiola’s success is not so much a revolution as a return to the team’s roots. As coach, his rigorous training sessions emphasize passing, possession and pressure.

"If the ball is in the opposite side of the field, I’m relaxed; if it’s in ours, I’m not," Guardiola said, according to the Spanish newspaper El País. Barcelona controls the ball for more than 60 percent of the game, well above every other team in the league — not merely controlling it but relentlessly and methodically pushing toward the opponent’s goal.

The team’s slogan, més que un club — more than a club — has various interpretations. Once a symbol of democracy and Catalan identity during the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Barcelona is still a source of regional pride. As part of a five-year charitable commitment started in 2006, it donates more than $2 million a year to Unicef, whose name is emblazoned across the front of the team’s jersey, instead of selling the space to a high-paying corporate sponsor.

In the end, however, the sheer pleasure of its style of play is one of the reasons Barcelona has the most paying members, about 160,000, of any soccer club in the world, and more than 1,800 team associations around the world.

They and countless other fans are riveted by the sight of Barcelona’s intricate attacks, with passes caroming from one player to the next. Or by the sight of Messi charging to the goal with the ball, not so much running as skimming over the field like a water bug, luring defenders and leaving a streaking teammate open for the perfect pass. Style is the name of the game at Barcelona, and that, more than anything, is what makes it més que un club.

read the full and original article here

Read more:
The impressive start of Guardiola
Barcelona's home-field advantage explained
An introduction to the coming stars

Youth: Chelsea interested in two goalkeepers

British tabloid The Daily Mirror claims that Chelsea is trying to sign Barecelona Alevín A goalkeeper Daniel Cardenas "Dani" (11).

Chelsea head scout and director of youth development Frank Arnesen would have invited Cardenas to spend next summer in London. The English Premier League club may offer the goalkeeper a deal.

Madrid sports tabloid Marca meanwhile unconfirmedly claims that Chelsea is also interested in Barcelona Alevín A goalkeeper Juan Carlos Llera (11). The goalkeeper has been watched by Chelsea scouts and their excellent reports makes Chelsea wanting to bring him to England. Spanish clubs Atlético Madrid and Villarreal would also be following Llera.

Read more:
Youth: Chelsea confirms monitoring Deulofeu
English and Italian clubs monitoring Barça youth
Youth: Dennis Krol returns to Germany

Player of the Month: December

1. Thierry Henry
2. The whole team
3. Víctor Valdés

Player of the month September: *Andrés Iniesta* (read more here)
Player of the month October: Lionel Messi (read more here)

Player of the month November: Lionel Messi (read more here)

Man of the match poll results during the month December:

1. Henry 68%
2. Alves 13%
3. The whole team 9%

1. No one 23%
2. Hleb 17%
3. Busquets 12%
3. Sylvinho 12%

Barcelona-Real Madrid
1. Valdés 20%
2. Puyol 19%
3. Toure 18%

1. Henry 42%
2. Xavi 27%
3. The whole team 8%

Barcelona holds on to Jorquera

Asturias regional newspapers La Voz de Asturias and La Nueva España claim that Barcelona isn't willing to let Barcelona goalkeeper Albert Jorquera (29), whose contract with Barcelona expires in 2010, leave on loan to Spanish first division club Sporting Gijón.

Asturias regional newspaper El Comercio claims that it was Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola who stopped the talks, after Barcelona had already agreed to start the negotiations. La Voz de Asturias claims that the Barcelona technical staff wants to have three goalkeepers at their disposal for the rest of the season.

El Comercio claims that Jorquera, who is represented by player's agent Arturo Canales, had been offered to Sporting and was one of the main winter targets of the club earlier this week. Sporting wanted to sign Jorquera on loan until the end of the season with Barcelona paying part of his salary.

Read more:
Jorquera is looking for a club in Spain
Sporting Gijon wants Gai Assulin on loan
Jorquera is looking for an exit

Wednesday 31 December 2008

Happy 2009!!!

Best wishes for the new year

to you, to all people who are near to you

and to the club that is near to you!!!

Do We Buy? Defender.

Related Posts about defenders on the blog:Barcelona plans to renew Marquez Contract(Click Here)....Talks with Uruguay left back Perez confirmed(Click here)....Barcelona wants portsmouth's Belhadj(Click Here)....Henrique Page on the blog (Click Here)

I thought it was important to introduce this part by the Above Image, it brief a lot of text, if the players distribution in that image is right (as positions and not as picking order), then I believe before wondering whom to buy, we need to decide whom to sell, because as I can see it, there are no more numbered T-shirts for more defenders. While if Caceres role will also be a central defender not a left back, then its confirmed that we need another left back WITH Abidal and selling Central defender”S” is no more a choice but a must, specially when Henrique join us next summer.

The easiest thing to think about is selling Milito, after all he is not available since a while and the team is doing well without him, but forgive me for not being so excited about this assumption, I see a player who is slightly younger (1980) than Marquez (1979)and Puyol(1978), he had a very strong understanding with pique guiding Zaragoza Defense in a very impressive way, a first option solid defender for his national team, a very lethal weapon in set pieces, and a player who master starting the attack from behind, all that makes him a perfect choice that fits and ticks all the needs of a Central defender for Barcelona. He started with Barcelona decently but then he had the drop in form as every single player last season. Will he bounce back to form after injury is something no one can predict, but we cant sell him now anyway while injured, so why excluding the possibility of his comeback and why not waiting till summer when we know his situation, Caseres situation and Henrique qualities then we make decisions? In the perfect world, Caseres will be the back up for Abidal, and Versatile Henrique can act as a back up for Alves (Don’t expect any talented Right back – like Rafinha- will dare to sign for Barcelona in the presence of Alves).

We played almost half our liga games –little less- Faced the strongest teams, with and without Abidal on the left back, with and without Marquez, or Pique, we won all the games and we have the best defense in the liga even though we play an attacking style. Now I am aware the lack of goals conceded is also a result of all players’ contribution from Eto’o to Valdes, but it’s also a sign that this defense line is working perfectly with the rest of the lines in front of Valdes, so the question is do we change things when we can or when we need? Because at the moment I don’t see that we need it, things can wait at least till the summer and we have the quality to cover the absence of any player in our defense aside of Alves offensively, but again don’t expect to buy a player to do so.

Till summer, Caceres will have a fair chance to prove himself, or else we can loan him out- may be switching him with Henrique if the Brazilian was ready, Milito will have his chance to test himself after injury, Marquez Contract situation will be clarified, then we can plan on more solid bases. Now it all seems like panic buys where there is no need to panic.

That’s one theory, but not the only valid one. If I neglected the number of defenders we already had, I am still looking for a player to buy with special qualities and till the moment I can’t find him between all the options I read about in the News/Rumors we read everyday. I am looking for a player who can play both as a Left back and Right back at the same time (kind of Zambrotta/ Maicon players), or a player who can play on the left flank as a left back and a left wing (like old Leonardo and Serginho for Brazil and Milan). Why?

Because we already have an almost complete squad, so a player who can play only in one position will not have enough opportunities and will cause more headache for Guardiola than he may heal.1) A player who can play as a RB/LB will click smoothly in the rotation process, resting Alves once and Abidal another. 2) A player who can play as a LB/LW will answer the question, how can we strengthen our leftwing by a player who can be a back up for Iniesta without effecting young players hopes to have their chances. I admit, even though Capel and Zhirkov are reasonable option for the second choice at least, but I still didn’t find a name that made me so excited to wish Barcelona to sign. First because I don’t really know Zhirkov qualities, he was good in euro 2008 but thats not enough-the “European” Roman Pavlyuchenko and Luka Modric are something, while the Tottenham duo are something else. I Also have doubts that Capel will be excited to play as a left back, and he already know he will not play as many games as he do with Sevilla, keeping in mind also that he cant play as a Left back while Alves is on the right.

In brief, we signed Milito again and he will be available soon, reports say that Henrique is a quality, while Caceres still has the right to take his chance on the left, nothing certain who will be the last man standing between Marquez and Milito, and who will not be the survival, so we evacuate a seat for a new comer. All that make me uninterested in any player to sign now – January- and make it impossible for me to guess what kind of signings we will need next summer.

But that’s only me.

Happy new year for you all, wish you the best years to come where you PASS all troubles, KICK any difficulty, SUBSTITUTE bad times with good ones and SHOOT your dreams high to SCORE ALL THE GOALS you set in your life, so non of you end up falling OFFSIDE in the course of life!
enjoy your time:)

Ramzi Tanani

Result - Rating the new guys: Martin Caceres

This is the final result of this blog's "Rating the new guys: Martin Caceres" poll:

10 --- 4%
9 --- 2%
8 --- 11%
7 --- 29%
6 --- 22%
5 --- 14%
4 --- 3%
3 --- 3%
2 --- 1%
1 --- 1%
0 --- 1%
Don't know --- 9%

Average score: 6,32

See other results:
Seydou Keita
Gerard Piqué
Dani Alves

Last training session of the year

The Barcelona squad held this morning the last training session of the year. The session started at 10:30 am and lasted for one hour and a half. Tomorrow the players will train at 6:30 pm.

Like Eto'o yesterday, Seydou Keita today joined the group earlier then he should have, since he had the authorization of the club to stay on holiday until Friday. Messi, Cáceres and Alves are expected to return on 2 January. Barcelona plays on Saturday against Mallorca.

Vilanova: "Iniesta is our best winter transfer"

Barcelona assistant coach Tito Vilanova gave an interview to Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo.

If we see how the team is doing now, can we demand at least one trophy?
I don't know. We feel the obligation to play every game in a way that brings joy to the people. If you keeping winning matches, trophies will follow.

But if you keep this rhythm, the Liga could be decided in March...
You hear a lot of comments. Some say we won't be able to keep this going. I think we can keep it up physically because the players are doing great and there have been some rotations. I don't know if we will have a drop-back, but I have the feeling that the players are feeling good both at training as during the games.

And you can again count on Iniesta.
For us, it's a very important player. He's excellent, very, very good. We are happy because the team did well during his absence, but on the other hand I think he'll be our best possible winter transfer. With the motivation with which he will return, he'll overshadow everyone else on the pitch.

What do you think about the changes in Madrid?
I think it's good. The same happened two years ago when they were going through problems, they were able to create a positive atmosphere and they ended up winning the league. I would hope that we could also be that united when the team isn't doing well.

How is it to work with Guardiola?
The fact that we understand each other on the training pitch or when preparing the games, makes everything easier. Because he's the first one who arrives and the last one who leaves, he forces us to reach a higher level.

You think he could be the Ferguson of Barcelona?
I don't know. But for the time he'll be here, he wants to do a good job. If not, he prefers not to do it at all.

You think Henry has already fully adapted?
He gets better every day that goes by. The fact that he scored three times against Valencia maybe set him free and he's making good progress. His last three games were the best I can remember since he's at Barça. I'm convinced that he will have scored a lot of goals at the end of the season and that he will be important for us.

Can you ask more from Messi?
He's a player who asks a lot from himself. I think he's still very young and that he has therefore still a margin to get better. I don't know if he will set one more step, but he's very young so it's possible.

What about Eto'o?
I had heard that it was a player with a character, but I can only talk about what I have seen and for us he has been a person with whom it's easy to work. He has always acted in an educated way and if there's something he wants to tell you, he comes down and talks about it with you face-to-face. His attitude couldn't be better.

You give priority to some competition?
No. We're involved in all three with the same desire and motivation. The club hasn't won anything for two years so the fans wouldn't allow something else. Although you should have some luck with injuries, you should try to win them all.

This was the second and last part of this interview. You can read the first part here:
Vilanova: "It's important to talk straight"

Read more:
The first impressions of assistant coach Vilanova
Guardiola has his team in place
Vilanova talks: "They should run or play tennis"

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