Saturday 28 February 2009

Crosas scores first goal with Celtic

As a bonus, the goal Crosas scored with the reserves of Celtic
against the reserves of Hearts last Tuesday:

Number of the day: 27


number of times Barcelona has hit the post in official games so far this season

Messi: "I don't watch my games"

Barcelona player Lionel Messi gave an interview to Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo.

First things first, how are you?
Fine, fine, thanks.

I'm saying it because of your purple eye.
Toulalan hit me with his elbow in the game against Lyon but it's nothing, that's football.

You have now played three games without a win: Betis, Espanyol and Lyon. Is that something to worry about?
We know that at Barça, people always expect you to win, but we're calm because I think we're doing very good. We have an advantage of seven points in the Liga and the draw with Lyon is a good result. The important thing now is to win against Atlético so all the talking stops.

What would you say to the fans so they don't start panicking?
It's understandable that the fans are worried because the same happened over the last two years and in the end we lost the league, but things changed a lot, both in the heads of the players as in the way we play. What happened over the last years won't happen again.

Guardiola thinks and analyzes a lot. What are his conclusions after the last games during which the team wasn't that good?
That we had a spectacular series, that this wasn't normal, and that it can happen that we don't win a game. Everything came together but the important thing now is that we quickly raise our heads and go on.

Madrid is now seven points behind and they are talking about winning the league, what would you say to them?
We know that we have to be the strongest inside the dressingroom, we have to be more united than ever. And if things are going well there, we don't have to give any importance to what's been talked about outside. Nobody likes to lose and this squad even less because we want to reach certain things and this Sunday is a good moment to win another time.

You are a born winner. You're thinking a lot when things don't work out?
Well, yes I am. When things aren't going well for the team or for myself. I think about it, I don't like to do things in a bad way although I'm aware that it's part of the job.

You're watching the games to see where you made a mistake or what you can do better?
I live them again in my head. I don't watch the game. But I remember everything that happened and I analyze things.

The solution is that the opponents don't put three players to mark you?
The solution is to know how to deal with that, to be calm again and to play like I've always done, without thinking about the fact that things could turn out bad. Being calm is the best way.

You're getting demotivated when you see that the opponent is only focusing on kicking you?
No, although it's true that you sometimes feel uncomfortable if you have to play under those circumstances and you don't like that way of playing, but I'm not letting it influence me. I think that the team should try to take advantage of that. If they focus that much on me, others will have more space.

Your legs must be full of bruises and scars, right?
Yes, the truth is that I have several.

Which one was the most painful?
Well, when a game ends and you have cooled down, everything hurts but during the game you don't feel nothing. I don't really remember a special one.

After the defeat against Espanyol, you talked for the first time about the referees. They should protect players like you more?
I talked about the referees but I didn't blame them for our loss. It just wasn't the first time this happened playing at home. I will never ask a referee to watch out better because I believe that no player has bad intentions. Between us, as colleagues, it would be something really ugly if that was the case, so I don't think it's like that.

Some opponent has admitted after a game that he only could stop you by making faults?
No, not really. I greet everyone after the game, no need to go any further than that.

Who has marked you best without playing it hard?
I don't know, the truth is that things don't work out in many games, because of the opponent or because it's just not your day.

This was the first part of this interview. You will be able to read the second part in the coming days with Messi not talking about his girlfirend.

Read more:
WAG: Lionel Messi
Medical: X-ray picture reveals Messi's secret
Messi Free, Winning Dynamics.

Pichichi and Zamora (day 24)

With Barcelona players competing for the trophies of best goalscorer and best goalkeeper of the Spanish league, this blog will follow the events during the second round.

23 Eto'o (Barcelona)
19 Villa (Valencia)
16 Messi (Barcelona)
15 Forlán (Atlético Madrid)
14 Higuain (Real Madrid)

0,83 Víctor Valdés (Barcelona)
1,17 Casillas (Real Madrid)
1,33 Diego López (Villarreal)
1,42 Riesgo (Recreativo Huelva)
1,54 Gorka (Athletic Bilbao)

[Crosas] Motherwell-Celtic Glasgow

Celtic Glasgow played this afternoon their 27th league game of the season. Celtic defeated St Mirren 7-0.

Former Barcelona midfielder Marc Crosas played the whole game. The Catalan player scored the 3-0 with a volley in the 51st minute and gave the assist for the 6-0 in the 67th minute.

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 those 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 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

Saturday 10 January - Cup 1/16 finals: Celtic Glasgow-Dundee (2) 2-1
Starter. Crosas starts the game and is replaced by Robson in the 64th minute (2-1).

Sunday 18 January - League game 22: Aberdeen-Celtic Glasgow 4-2

Saturday 24 January - League game 23: Celtic Glasgow-Hibernian 3-1
Starter. Crosas starts the game and is replaced by Robson in the 78th minute (3-1).

Wednesday 29 January - League Cup 1/2 finals: Celtic Glasgow-Dundee United 0-0 (pen 11-10)
Starter. Crosas starts the game and plays for 120 minutes. Scores penalty.

Sunday 1 February - League game 24: Inverness-Celtic Glasgow 0-0
Substitute. Crosas replaces Nakamura in the 64th minute (0-0).

Saturday 10 January - Cup 1/16 finals: Celtic Glasgow-Queen's Park (3) 2-1
Starter. Crosas starts the game and is replaced by Donati in the 42nd minute (1-0).

Sunday 15 February - League game 25: Celtic Glasgow-Rangers 0-0
Substitute. Crosas replaces Brown in the 83rd minute (0-0).

Sunday 22 February - League game 26: Motherwell-Celtic Glasgow 1-1

Saturday 28 February - League game 27: Celtic Glasgow-St Mirren 7-0
Starter. Crosas starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Goal. Assist.

1. Rangers 60
2. Celtic Glasgow 60
3. Hearts 45
4. Dundee 40

Henry: "This team never surrenders"

Barcelona player Thierry Henry gave an interview to Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia.

The next league game against Atlético is a great opportunity to show that you didn't lose it.
It's never easy to play against them. Besides, Madrid plays first and if they win that will mean a little more pressure. Last year it was the other way around. We're still in a good position. You have to win the league game by game. It's a key game, but the next game will also be one.

Again playing a good game on Sunday would be the ideal answer, a psychological punch at Madrid?
If we win in the Calderón without playing well, I already sign for that. It's of course better to play well, because you enjoy more, but winning is the most important thing. If we win, I don't matter about how we did it.

The team is a victim of the great performances at the start, of always wanting to win in such a good and fast way?
We've always said that there was a lot of league left. Against Betis, we receive two goals because of a lack of attention, but in the second half we could have won. Later, against Espanyol... I don't like to talk about the referee but when I came home and saw that red card of Keita... You have to shut your mouth, the referee is the boss, but that changed the game a little. Not because you automatically lose when you play with ten men, I'm not looking for excuses, but it just changes the game. And the third one, a game in the Champions League is always difficult. We drew one all, that's not usual for Barça, but it's ok....

You joked that you only use your head to think, not to score...
That was before (laughter). We'll see if this goal will be important after the return game. If it really will be decisive. Sometimes things don't turn out well during a game, but you have to persist and persist.

Things weren't turning out very well for you in Lyon.
Not for me, but neither for almost every team-mate. Apart from the chance of Samu when he hit the post... There are games were everything works, and we've had a lot of games like that, but somethings they don't. The difference of this Barça is that it doesn't surrender when things are going well. We never surrender. You always have to leave the pitch with something.

You almost broke your neck when scoring against the French...
I avoided the post as good as I could. I thought I wouldn't manage. What I didn't know is that with that goal I surpassed Eusebio in the ranking of European goalscorers. It's true that in those times there were more goals scored but on the other hand they also played less games. If the goal is also important, that's the best thing.

People are saying that the team is getting more tired...
People said it, but it's not that. Sometimes, football is played with two teams. Lyon won seven league titles in a row. So be careful with them. I know that they don't have won a lot in Europe, but Makoun, Toulalan, Boumsong, Lloris, Mensah, Benzema... That's a team full of internationals. Madrid played there several times and they lost. Besides, they have Juninho. The game starts, first fault and goal. That helped them a lot at the start. I repeat that, when the game isn't going well, you have to do something. The difference with last year is in my opinion that we would have lost the games against Lyon, Betis, Racing, Osasuna. You can lose, but you can never give a game away, the opponent has to come and get it.

How is Guardiola when a game isn't going well. He's energetic?
He talks about returning to the start, the basics of the game, playing as a team. But he doesn't get angry just to get angry. It's a winner and he only thinks about the victory. I never had coaches who went mad. The coach gets angry but in a good way. He has a good reason for it, we listen to him and he talks very straight. His message gets through.

The defeat of Madrid in the Champions League can affect them?
I think these are different competitions. If you play against Liverpool, you have the feeling that nothing will happen... And then suddenly it's all over. They've won. I don't know if it's a team who makes the opponent weaker, but it sure is a cup team.

This was the first part of this interview. You will be able to read the second part here in the coming days with Henry talking -among other things- about the rest of his career and his tattoo.

Read more:
Henry becomes fifth European goalscorer
The man who changed Henry's luck
Henry will be put for sale in the summer

Suspended Pique and Keita not in Atletico list

Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola announced earlier today the list of 18 player for the 25th game of the Spanish league against Atlético Madrid tomorrow evening at 7:00 pm.

The list:
Valdés, Pinto,
Alves, Puyol, Márquez, Cáceres, Sylvinho,
Xavi, Víctor Sánchez, Touré, Busquets, Gudjohsen,
Messi, Eto'o, Bojan, Henry, Hleb, Pedro

Víctor Sánchez and Pedro return to the list after having played with Barcelona Atlètic the last weeks. Piqué (five yellow cards) and Keita (red card) are suspended. Iniesta, Abidal and Milito are recovering from an injury. Jorquera was not included in the list. Barcelona had a last training session this morning and will travel later today to Madrid.

Henrique could stay one more year with Bayer

German sports newsagency Sid claims, based upon unconfirmed Spanish sources, that Bayer Leverkusen central defender and Barcelona loan out Henrique (22) will stay one more year at the German club.

That would have been agreed upon during a meeting last weekend between Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain and Bayer Leverkusen officials.

German sports weekly paper Kicker claims that Begiristain met with Bayer Leverkusen sports director Rudi Völler and Bayer general manager Michael Reschke on Sunday to discuss the future of Henrique. If Henrique would return to Barcelona, Barcelona defender and Uruguay international Martín Cáceres (21) could join the German club on loan next season (read more

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Begiristain has told Henrique that the club wants him to start the pre-season with Barcelona next summer. Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola would then later decide if the Brazilian defender will join the team next season or will be loaned out for another year.

Read more:
Begiristain in Germany to watch Henrique
Henrique will start next pre-season in Barcelona
Leverkusen wants to keep Henrique one more year

Hleb could be part of Ribery deal

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona will make a bid of 30 million euro° for Bayern Munich wing attacker and French international Franck Ribéry (25).

Although Bayern Munich refused last summer a 40 million euro bid by Chelsea for Ribéry, the German club could now agree with a transfer as a consecuence of the pressure by the player.

The paper claims that Barcelona has made the player a contract offer for four (plus two) years including a fixed year salary of 5 million euro.

One of Ribéry's agents, Jean-Pierre Bernès, didn't want to confirm or deny that he has been holding talks with Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain since last month (read more here), although he said that Barcelona is a possible destination for Ribéry if he would leave Bayern.

Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge would meanwhile have asked for Barcelona attacker and Belarus international Alexander Hleb (27) (read more
here) and Barcelona president Joan Laporta would have said that the player is for sale.

Barcelona, that paid 15 (plus 3) million euro for Hleb last year, would now asking a transfer fee between 14 and 18 million euro°. The transfer of Hleb could be used to lower the transfer price of Ribéry, although Hleb seems to prefer at this moment a return to the English Premier League or a move to Italy.

Asked about the new rumours linking Ribéry with a move to Barcelona (read more
here), the player's agent Alain Miglaccio has also said in an interview with Catalan radio station RAC 1 that Barcelona is one of the options for the player: "If Ribéry leaves, it will be to go to a club like Barcelona, where you have only great players. To play at Barça would be something phenomenal for him, like for every football player."

Read more:
Ribery or Gourcuff to replace Henry next summer
Deal with Ribery and pre-agreement with Bayern
Hleb could already leave this summer

[2008] Mourinho waiting for Barcelona

this post was published one year ago:

French football magazine France Football claims that former Chelsea manager José Mourinho (45) has recently rejected an impressive long term offer from French champion Olympique Lyon because he would prefer to join Barcelona. Bernard Lacombe, the adviser of Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas, confirms the talks but says they did not go very far.

Besides reporting on the January meeting in which Mourinho and Barcelona would have principally agreed on a future collaboration (read more here and here), the French magazine claims a number of possible summer signings were then discussed, including Bayern Munich full back Philipp Lahm (24), Sevilla right back Daniel Alves (24), Inter right back Maicon (26), Sevilla midfielder Seydou Keita (26), Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard (29), Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Luka Modric (22), Lyon forward Karim Benzema (21) and Chelsea forward Didier Drogba (29). If Eto’o stays, Drogba will not come. And Ronaldinho could well leave.

Read more 28-29 February 2008 news:
Everything is possible for Poulsen
Garay talks in the fridge

Barcelona following Stuttgart striker Gomez

German weekly sports paper Sport Bild claims that Barcelona is still interested in Stuttgart forward and German international Mario Gómez (23) (read more here).

Barcelona would be one of the European top clubs that have been scouting the striker during the season. Gómez could leave the German club this summer for a buyout fee of 35 million euro°.

Stuttgart has confirmed that Barcelona scouts have at least been watching two games of the club and the player's agent Uli Ferber has admited recent contacts with Barcelona, although it would only have been a first sounding out. Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Gómez, who has a contract with Stuttgart until 2012, could this summer be available for a transfer price around 23 million euro°.

Watch a video of Gomez:

Read more:
Contact with German international Gomez
Last summer's search for a striker
Looking for a central defender

Friday 27 February 2009

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: N-O-T) 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 Atlético Madrid 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 four hours before the start of the game, in this case: until 3:00 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, unless I decide otherwise. Who will have the most points at the end of the season, can call himself the winner.

This is the 31st time this game is organized.



B. Beltrocco


mario ch

Dan R



Cristi M
kamikaze kontiki
Barca nike
Cali Socis

Knives Out
blaugrana poland

Quote of the day: Guardiola

From all the games this season, the game against Lyon was the one we can learn the most of for the future. It was an excellent lesson for me. We can get more out of it than out of the thirty previous games. Especially the first half can serve to talk very straight with the players about certain things. If they learn from it, we will compete for everything.

Josep Guardiola, Barcelona manager

Genoa interested in Milito

German football site 4-4-2 claims that Italian club Genoa is interested in Barcelona central defender and Argentinian international Gabriel Milito (28).

Genoa is currently fifth in the Seria A, one point behind Fiorentina, and Genoa president Enrico Preziosi would be willing to invest seriously if the club can reach the Champions League this year.

Milito would in that case be among the top priorities of Genoa and his brother and Genoa forward Diego would have convinced him to join the Italians.

Barcelona would nevertheless at this moment be asking 20 million euro° for the Argentinian centre back defender, which is too much for Genoa. The Italian team only plans to make a bid if that asking price seriously drops in the coming months.

Read more:
Pique: "Milito is like a mentor to me"
Ex-Barça: Motta to Genoa
Medical: Milito joins group training

PSG goalkeeper Landreau offers himself

French newspaper Le Parisien claims that Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper and French international Mickaël Landreau (29) could have offered himself to Barcelona.

Landreau, who doesn't have an official agent since his represantive broke some time ago with player's agency IMG, would want to live a new experience by joining a foreign club and has ordered an intermediary to look for a team in the Spanish league.

The French player has already been contacted by Real Madrid to become their second goalkeeper but could think to have better playing chances at Barcelona. The contract of Landreau at PSG expires at the end next season but the Frenchman can buy out his contract for 2 million euro°.

Watch a video of Landreau here:

Read more:
Paris Saint-Germain not interested in Gudjohnsen
Valdes unaware of the club's renewal plans
Paris Saint-Germain interested in Eto'o

Barça Classic: Atletico-Barcelona (may 2007)

UEFA wants transfer ban for youth players

date: 22 February 2009

UEFA President Michel Platini has made an impassioned plea for the safeguarding of football's essential values against a series of dangers threatening the game's fabric, in a speech to the European Parliament in Brussels.

In Wednesday's address, Mr Platini advocated the idea of financial fair play to guarantee, among other things, competitive balance in European competitions. He insisted that football should not be treated as an economic activity, and that sport's specific nature should be recognised. Furthermore, the UEFA President called, among other things, for a halt to the trafficking of young footballers, with a ban on the international transfer of footballers under the age of 18.

"Football extends beyond borders, football irons out differences, and football unleashes passions," said Mr Platini. "Football, the sport that has brought me to where I am today and has given me the greatest emotions of my life, both positive and traumatic, is in danger... The values that football represents are in danger."

Sport's specific nature
The UEFA President spoke of the need for recognition of sport's specific nature: "There is still a slightly perverse tendency within the European institutions to deny the unity of the football pyramid and to isolate the professional game at the top. And this is done in order to give substance to the false notion that professional football is an economic activity just like any other.

Unfortunately, this refusal to recognise the specificity of sport... still exists in certain circles, in certain sectors, which consider competition law to be the fundamental law of Europe. We refuse categorically to be held in a straitjacket or tied to prefabricated models that are based on the false equation that professional sport equals a purely economic activity."

Correcting excesses
The UEFA President spoke of top-level football's incapacity to correct certain excesses, especially in terms of players' wages or transfer offers. "The European model of sport is based on open leagues, independent clubs and promotion and relegation," Mr Platini explained. "One thing is certain - European clubs are currently telling us that our system is in danger of financially imploding in the medium term. In consultation with them, but also... spurred on by the reports of this Parliament, we are currently looking at the idea of limiting, to a certain degree, a club's expenditure on staff – salary and transfer fees combined – to an as yet undecided percentage of its direct and indirect sporting revenue.

I believe that it is reasonable that UEFA should be able to decide independently under what conditions clubs may participate in the competitions that it organises. Of course, we will not impose any kind of diktat... At the end of the day, we are only at the beginning of this discussion, but it will continue in the form of dialogue with the clubs about the future of our licensing system and any changes will be made on a consensual basis and with a view to strengthening this system.

Please do not stop us, on the basis of inappropriate legislation, from establishing financial fair play. Do not stop us from putting in place mechanisms that foster the integrity of our competitions and more transparency in the management of our affairs. Do not stop us from acting morally. Especially when all the stakeholders – clubs, players and national associations – agree with my proposals for greater financial transparency and better governance."

Young footballers
Addressing the topic of child and young footballers, Mr Platini said: "Everyone is quite rightly shocked when they find out that children are employed in a factory that makes footballs. But when, the next day, a television programme shows young nine-year-old [Brazilian] prodigies... and explains that big European clubs are prepared to invite one of these whizz kids to sign a contract, nobody seems to bat an eyelid. This is a typical example of double standards.

Paying a child to kick a ball is not that different from paying a child to work on a production line. Both amount to exploiting child labour. And when you pay a child or their parents to travel overseas, when you uproot them from their home environment, when you make them emotionally disorientated, I call that child trafficking.

I have therefore thought about this problem a great deal and I am now convinced that the international transfer of players under 18 should be prohibited, fully in accordance with the FIFA statutes. Some people talk about the free movement of workers. I am talking about the protection of children. Some talk about competition law. I am talking about the right to respect human integrity; a child's right to grow up surrounded by their friends and family."

'Force for integration'
Mr Platini told his audience that football is a powerful force for integration and tolerance in an uncertain Europe in crisis. "I believe that it is football's duty to lead the way in confronting social issues, and that it can even play a part in solving difficult political problems," he said. "Football transcends borders, cuts across barriers, does away with prejudices and fights discrimination wherever it needs to be fought. Tolerance of racism, exclusion, sexism or homophobia is unacceptable.

The European Parliament is the largest democratically elected institution on our continent; UEFA organises and gives structure to something Europeans are extremely passionate about: together we can restore confidence in the positive values that Europe has to offer.

"For me, football remains a magnificent sport," Mr Platini said in concluding. "But if we want everything to remain as it is, everything must change. If we want to prevent football from losing its soul and being eaten away from within, we need to take the initiative and radically change certain types of behaviour and, in particular, certain rules. I will do all I can to make this happen."

read the full and original article here
here to read Mr Platini's speech in full

Read more:
FIFA wants half-time break of 20 minutes
Barcelona Is Winning With Style
Proposal to limit spending on transfers and salaries

Medical: Iniesta joins group training

Barcelona player Andrés Iniesta (25) rejoined group training today.

The Spanish attacker, who is still recovering from an injury, did some warming-up and passing exercises with his team-mates.

It hasn't been announced if Iniesta could already be available for the league game against Atlético Madrid on Sunday. The player got injured in his left thigh during a training session on Tuesday 18 February and was then expected to be out for two weeks (read more

Read more:
Medical: Abidal out for two months
Medical: Milito joins group training
Medical: Iniesta out for two weeks

Keita: "Guardiola has a lot of confidence in me"

Barcelona player Seydou Keita gave an interview to Spanish weekly sports paper Don Balón.

Making you eat together is part of the Guardiola system. What has surprised you most about his style of coaching and his way of dealing with the group?
Guardiola is a calm person who knows what he is doing. I remember what we said when we lost against Numancia on matchday one, it is the same as what he says now. After that game we could not imagine we would do what we have done, but surely he knew what he wanted.

Is it true that Guardiola is someone who does not impose his ideas, but convinces you with his words?
I am very good with him. Once I was even surprised by what he said, it was the first time that a coach had told me that.

What did he say?
I do not know how to explain it, it was about personal things, but he surprised me, and showed me that he had a lot of confidence in me, more than I thought. I had scored three goals and I said to myself that I had to do much more, but the coach was already very happy with what I had done. Perhaps people want every player at Barca to be like Messi for example, but that is not possible (smiles). As a team, everybody does their job, and if he does it well then the coach will be happy.

Guardiola knows how to convey confidence thanks to his words, his attitude and his past...
Yes, and he says what he thinks, he will never talk for the sake of talking. When things are not going well he tells you because he is not happy. This happened with me once, and I think it is a good way to act. You have to comment on things that are done well and also on the things that are done badly in order to correct what is not working. Also, we do plenty of video sessions. The coach leaves nothing to chance.

Lets talk about your time at Sevilla. You were there for one season. What is your best memory?
From Sevilla I have good memories, but there I also felt a lot of sadness. Not on a sporting level, but what happened to our teammate Antonio Puerta. When you arrive at a club, and within weeks something happens like what happened, you may end up having a good season but you know you do not feel happy. Antonio was a kid who was always happy, full of life, and everything happened on the pitch, in front of us. It was very hard. You can lose friends, but to see it with your own eyes is very difficult. Later, the coach left, and things were very complicated. But despite everything, the team struggled and made a great season, sportingly speaking. But as I say, it was not easy.

Who do you maintain a relationship with from the staff at Sevilla?
I maintain in contact mainly with my friend Frederic Kanoute and with the physiotherapists. Sevilla is part of my past and is a club I love very much.

What luck that Alves came with you to Barca, right?
Yes. It is always better to change clubs at the same time as a teammate.

Tell me a secret: what does Alves eat to be up and down the pitch from the first minute until the ninetieth without getting tired?
That is how Dani plays. And he did the same in Seville, it was always like that.

To conclude, have you felt yourself the racism in football?
If you want me to tell you the truth, not many people are behaving in a racist manner, and those who do, do not understand anything at all. They don’t see that we are all equal, and that when they defend the colours of a club, it doesn’t matter which one is white, black or yellow. What counts is the shirt, this is most important. Then, those who behave like racists in general have not understood anything, I didn't choose to be black, you didn't choose to be white, we breathe the same air, we eat the same things, there is nothing to distinguish us, just skin colour. But in my opinion, everyone thinks what they want, frankly.

You're very religious. How do you explain the importance of religion in your daily life?
It is true, religion is very important to me. I was born into a Muslim family, and as we said, coming into the world in one place or another is not something one chooses. But above all, with time I learned to know what it is to be Muslim. Professing my religion, I don’t have any problems with anyone, I am calm and healthy, but is difficult to explain this to people because, as a result of certain things that have happened, people now associate the ideas of muslims with violence. But inwardly, I feel great and I have no problem with any other belief. Everybody is free to do what they want.

Do you follow the ramadan? Would you be willing to leave a club if they prevented you from following it?
I do not see why they would put obstacles in my way when the ramadan lasts a month and the season is lengthened to nine months. Football is our job and we must do things so they do not pose difficulties for our work, and compensate later in the evening or even during the week, so I have no problem. I do celebrate the ramadan, but with the competitions, it is impossible to comply every single day of the month. It would not be normal to say that I did not train or play during the entire month of the ramadan, I have to do my job. And God gives you options. God does not impose things on people if you do not have the ability to do them.

Translated by: Andrew

This was the third and last part of this interview. You can read the previous parts here:
Keita: "I have to get better to contribute something"
Keita: "Piqué lives in his own crazy world"

[Valiente] Rayo Vallecano-Sevilla B

Spanish second division team Sevilla Atlético, the second team of first division club Sevilla, played last weekend their 25th league game of the season, losing 1-0 against Rayo Vallecano.

Former Barcelona Atlètic player Marc Valiente (21) was not available due to a sprained ankle.

Because Barcelona has the right to buy Valiente back at the end of this season (read more here), this blog will follow the performances of the central defender during the season.

Sunday 31 August - League game 1: Albacete-Sevilla Atlético 2-1
Injured. Valiente has pubis problems.

Sunday 7 September - League game 2: Sevilla Atlético-Salamanca 1-1
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Central defender.

Sunday 14 September - League game 3: Córdoba-Sevilla Atlético 1-1
Injured. Valiente has an ankle injury.

Sunday 21 September - League game 4: Sevilla Atlético-Rayo Vallecano 0-0
Substitute. Valiente plays the second half. Defensive midfielder.

Sunday 28 September - League game 5: Levante-Sevilla Atlético 2-0
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder.

Sunday 5 October - League game 6: Sevilla Atlético-Real Sociedad 1-0
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Central defender.

Saturday 11 October - League game 7: Las Palmas-Sevilla Atlético 2-0
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder.

Saturday 18 October - League game 8: Sevilla Atlético-Zaragoza 0-4
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Central defender.

Sunday 26 October - League game 9: Las Palmas-Sevilla Atlético 2-0
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder.

Sunday 2 November - League game 10: Sevilla Atlético-Hércules 1-2
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Central defender.

Sunday 9 November - League game 11: Alavés-Sevilla Atlético 2-2
Starter. Valiente starts the game and is excluded in the 87th minute (2-2). Central defender. Red card.

Sunday 2 November - League game 12: Sevilla Atlético-Elche 0-2
Suspended. Due to red card.

Saturday 22 November - League game 13: Sevilla Atlético-Xerez 1-2
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Central defender. Yellow card.

Saturday 29 November - League game 14: Girona-Sevilla Atlético 1-0
Injured. Valiente has an injury.

Sunday 7 December - League game 15: Sevilla Atlético-Castellón 1-0
Injured. Valiente has an injury.

Sunday 14 December - League game 16: Gimnástic-Sevilla Atlético 3-1
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder.

Sunday 21 December - League game 17: Sevilla Atlético-Eibar 0-0
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder.

Sunday 4 January - League game 18: Tenerife-Sevilla Atlético 2-1
Starter. Valiente starts the game and is replaced in the 65th minute. Defensive midfielder.

Saturday 10 January - League game 19: Sevilla Atlético-Huesca 1-1
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder.

Saturday 17 January - League game 20: Celta Vigo-Sevilla Atlético 2-0
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder.

Sunday 25 January - League game 21: Sevilla Atlético-Alicante 2-3
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder. Yellow card.

Saturday 31 January - League game 22: Sevilla Atlético-Albacete 1-1
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder.

Sunday 8 February - League game 23: Salamanca-Sevilla Atlético 6-0

Saturday 14 February - League game 24: Sevilla Atlético-Córdoba 0-2
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder.

Saturday 21 February - League game 25: Rayo Vallecano-Sevilla Atlético 1-0
Injured. Valiente has an ankle injury.

1. Xerez 49
2. Tenerife 44
3. Rayo 43
4. Hércules 42
5. Zaragoza 40
6. Castellón 40
7. Salamanca 38
8. R. Sociedad 36
9. Girona 35
10. Levante 35
11. Gimnástic 34
12. Huesca 34
13. Murcia 34
14. Elche 33
15. Celta 33
16. Albacete 32
17. Las Palmas 28
18. Córdoba 27
19. Eibar 27
20. Alavés 27
21. Alicante 16
22. Sevilla Atlético 10

The top three are promoted to the Primera División. The bottom four are relegated to the Spanish third division.

Henry becomes fifth European goalscorer

Barcelona player Thierry Henry (30) has become, with 48 goals, the fifth highest goalscorer in European Cup history following his goal against Lyon on Tuesday.

Real Madrid player Raúl leads the standings with 64 goals, followed by Ruud van Nistelrooy (60), Andriy Shevchenko (56) and Alfredo di Stefano (49).

Henry made his European debut on 1 October 1997, when he appeared for AS Monaco in their win over Bayer Leverkusen. Henry scored 7 of his European goals with Monaco, 35 with Arsenal and 6 with Barcelona. The goal against Lyon took him to 48 from 103 matches, which works out at 0.46 goals a game.

Read more:
The man who changed Henry's luck
The Pictures: Lyon (part 2)
Henry will be put for sale in the summer

[2008] Giovani four more years

this post was published exactly one year ago:

In an interview with Catalan sports paper Sport Barcelona forward Giovani Dos Santos (18) denied that his contract expires at the end of this season or that he wants to renegotiate his contract, like has been rumoured in recent months.

Although the player says he has some more years to go but that he doesn’t know when his contract actually ends, Giovani is now believed to be linked with Barcelona until 2012. As a result of that, the Mexican is not thinking about a new contract: “I don’t care about a renewal. I’m feeling very happy and relaxed with the contract I have at present, so I don’t see a reason to sit around the table now. The only thing I care about is playing and growing as a footballer.”

Read more 27 February 2008 news:
Garay, the new Marquez
Rijkaard was on his way out

Deal with Ribery and pre-agreement with Bayern

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona has reached an agreement with Bayern Munich wing attacker and French international Franck Ribéry (25).

Ribery would be the the first option of Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola who is looking to sign a winger and the player would like to be part of a more competitive team.

Barcelona would therefore already have found a deal with the Frenchman's agent on the duration of the contract and the salary the player will receive. Ribery would sign a contract for the next four seasons, until the summer of 2013.

Bayern Munich nevertheless wouldn't be willing to let the player go and the negotiations with the German club are expected to be very difficult. The fact that Bayern Munich is interested in some Barcelona players that might leave the club could make the talks a little easier (read more

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona has already reached a formal pre-agreement with Bayern Munich for the transfer of Ribéry, who is represented by Jean-Pierre Bernès and Alain Migliaccio, although the deal will only be finalized at the end of the season. The good relationship between the presidents of both clubs, Franz Beckenbauer and Joan Laporta, would have helped in the negotiations.

There would be unanimity among Barcelona officials and staff members that Ribéry should be a top transfer target for next season. The player likes the attacking style of Guardiola's team and Barcelona left back defender Eric Abidal is a close friend of Ribéry. The French winger has made clear that he wants to leave this summer and Bayern would have accepted that they cannot keep the player any longer.

Read more:
Ribery confirms Barcelona interest
Bayern ready to sell Ribery in the summer
Renewed Bayern Munich interest for Hleb

Thursday 26 February 2009

Valdes unaware of the club's renewal plans

Asked about the renewal of his contract that expires in 2010 (read more here), Barcelona goalkeeper Víctor Valdés (27) has said at a press conference that he doesn't know what the intention of the club is:

"There has been some talking about my renewal but I hear these things through the media. Until now, nobody from the club has contacted me.

I've said before that I will have to assess my future and that the club know what they should do. I will leave it there. I only know that I have a contract until 2010 and that I'm a professional. I owe my club a lot and I've always been very proud to play at Barça. The only thing I can do is to keep on working with my team-mates like I've always done."

Catalan sports paper Sport meanwhile claims that Barcelona plans to buy Real Valladolid goalkeeper and Spanish youth international Sergio Asenjo (19) if the renewal talks with Valdés wouldn't lead to an agreement between the two parties. In that case, Asenjo would be loaned back to Valladolid until the summer of 2010.

Read more:
Barcelona working on Valdes renewal
Valdes: "I like the quietness of the countryside"
Negotiations with Puyol, Valdés and Eto'o to start

Barça B: Jeffren satisfied with U-21 debut

Asked about his debut with the Spanish under-21 national team earlier this month (read more and watch a video here), Barcelona Atlètic winger Jeffren Suárez (21) looked back at his debut in an interview with Tenerife local newspaper La Opinión:

"To make your debut with Spain Under-21 is special. I actually felt really good. I left the pitch with a satisfied feeling. I even had two chances to score, which is not bad at all in little more than half an hour.

Of course I would have liked to play a little more, but I'm not complaining because I know how hard it is to get there. It's not bad at all to have gotten the chance to play my first game on that level. I will now keep on working with the hope of being part of the squad in the coming official games but I know it won't be easy.

I already knew almost all the players, except for two or three, so from that point of view thigns were quite positive. Although it was a different experience then when I played with the Under-19. We're talking about another level here and my personal situation is also different.

Some of the players I played with in the Under-19, like Piqué, Mata or Capel, were lucky to be promoted a little faster but I really think that I'm on the right way. I feel really good after coming back from the last injry I suffered (read more here). I've noticed an important change, even mentally, in the way I'm dealing with things. Physically, I've also made a lot of progress.

I can play and I have playe
d on both wings, although lately I'm playing more on the right. For me, it's the same where I play but it's true that I feel more comfortable on the right. The chance to get to the first team of Barcelona is there, although I'm the first to recognize that it's very, very complicated at this moment."

Read more:
Difficult 'Spain or Venezuela' choice for Jeffren
Barça B: Victor Vazquez and Jeffren sign renewal
International: Jeffren and Botia make U21 debut

Medical: Milito joins group training

After ten months, Barcelona player Gabriel Milito (28) rejoined group training this morning and trained normally with the rest of the squad.

Milito suffered a right knee injury on 29 April 2008 during the second game of the Champions League semi-finals against Manchester United last season. He was operated on 13 May 2008. The predicted recovery time was then being estimated between six and nine months.

Read more:
Medical: Milito returns to the pitch
Medical: Abidal out for two months
Medical: Iniesta out for two weeks

Poll result - Man of the match: Lyon

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

1. Marquez 30%
2. Henry 26%
3. No one 14%

see full results here
see previous poll results here

The Pictures: Lyon (part 2)

(click on a picture to enlarge)

(click on a picture to enlarge)

part 1


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