Saturday 28 March 2009

Video of the day: Messi

Barcelona won't sign a new goalkeeper

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona doesn't plan to buy a new goalkeeper in the summer and could stick with the three current goalkeepers.

Barcelona second goalkeeper José Manuel Pinto (33) has a contract for one more season, although both parties can put an end to it this summer. Barcelona nor the player would want that. Asked about his future, Pinto said in an interview with Catalan radio station RAC 1 that he plans to continue: "If they don't tell me the opposite, I see myself staying until 2010."

Barcelona third goalkeeper Albert Jorquera (30), whose contract expires in the summer of 2010, could also stay if it depends on the club. Barcelona would nevertheless be willing to let the Catalan go if he asks to leave. If Jorquera won't continue, he will most probably be replaced by Barcelona Atlètic goalkeeper and Spanish youth international Rubén Miño (20).

Read more:
Pinto is music producer in his free time
Barcelona sounds out Juventus goalkeeper Buffon
Jorquera is looking for a club in Spain

International: Nine players competing for world cup

Nine Barcelona players can come into action with their national team this weekend during qualifying matches for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Milito (Argentina), Abidal (France), Puyol (Spain), Touré (Ivory Coast) and Iniesta (Spain) are not available because of injuries, Márquez (Mexico) because of a suspension.





Xavi, Piqué, Busquets



International: Mino makes under-21 debut

Barcelona Atlètic goalkeeper Rubén Miño (20) made yesterday his debut with the Spanish under-21 national team in the friendly game against the Irish under-21. Ireland defeated Spain 2-1.

Miño played the whole match. Barcelona Atlètic winger Jeffren (21) started the game and was replaced after 72 minutes. Barcelona Atlètic central defender Alberto Botía (20) stayed on the bench for the whole game. Celtic Glasgow midfielder and former Barcelona player Marc Crosas (21) also made his debut and played for an hour.

Henry rejected Manchester City offer last year

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has revealed in an interview with British newspaper The Times that Barcelona forward and French international Thierry Henry (31) rejected last summer an offer by English Premier League club Manchester City:

"I knew Man City were interested in getting him but he rightly decided to stay at Barcelona. What will he do next season? I'm not sure. I'm not convinced he wants to come back to England but he's free to decide what he wants."

Read more:
Henry representatives met with Manchester City
Barcelona would consider offer for Henry
Manchester City moving to bring in Henry

Poll: Iniesta's best position

Read this analysis about the issue:
Iniesta, Left or Center?

Agent Ribery is pushing for a transfer

Asked about the rumours linking Bayern Munich attacker and French international Franck Ribéry (25) with several European top clubs among which Barcelona (read more here), Bayern Munich general manager Uli Hoeness has repeated in an interview with German tabloid Bild that the German club wil not consider to let the player leave:

"He has a contract for two more years with us and there's no buyout clause. And he and his family are feeling very good here. Only if we wouldn't be able to compete for the international trophies, he could change his mind and wish to leave. But that won't happen.

It's on the other hand clear to me that his agent is possibly interested in a transfer... Agents make money when there's a transfer, not when a player stays with the same club for many years. When Ribéry joined us, his agent received a considerable fee and I'm sure he wants to cash again. We should be aware of that.

Things will happen in the coming months. One of the questions for example is: what happens at Real Madrid? And what will the other clubs do with their money? If one club buys a star player, then his former club has millions to spend and will start to look around, possibly also in the direction of Ribéry. That's the domino effect.

We're not putting a price on his head. Our goal is to do all we can to keep Franck. But it will be a brutal fight. We will receive offers for him. So the most important thing for us will be that we don't have doubts and express ourselves in a clear way. Because if we allow things to be stirred up, his agent will grab his chance. But when we keep our stand until 31 August, when the transfer market closes, then we can speak about renewing his contract."

Read more:
Ribery transfer unlikely this summer
Bayern dismisses Ribery and Hleb rumours
Deal with Ribery and pre-agreement with Bayern

Guardiola creates new art form

Barça's football is art,
and Guardiola is the creator of...


(click the cartoon to enlarge)


see more cartoons here

Busquets: "I didn't expect this"

Barcelona player Sergio Busquets gave an interview to the club's official media.

A year ago, you were playing in the third division against Manlleu and Banyoles with Barça B. Now you are preparing to face sides like Bayern Munich. How would you define this change?
Yes, my life has changed, but all I can do is get used to it. You have to work hard and train every day and try to get better and win a regular place in the first team, which is what everybody dreams of doing one day. I didn’t expect this, but you just have to get used to it, work hard and try to get better and better.

Is it very different to what you imagined it would be like?
You can imagine a bit what it is like because you’ve seen it on TV. But when you are here you soon get used to the way that it is no longer you watching TV, but others watching you on TV. It’s different, but it’s nice.

What do you think about Bayern as the opposition in the Champions League quarter finals?
They are a very difficult team, they were the best team in the first round. We expect a very hard game against a very strong team with players up front that can score lots of goals.

As well as their form, Bayern is a classic of European football. What memories do have of that club?
Since I was a kid, I remember Oliver Kahn and many other famous players that I’m familiar with after playing with the console. They have always had famous players. Neither can I forget 1999 when they played Manchester in that final with the incredible finish.

That’s the Champions League, but the team is also top of the league and into the Copa del Rey final. Which competition would you be most excited about winning?
It’s my first year in the first team and I’m excited about winning any title as I have never won any of them. I’d like all three, but I appreciate that that’s difficult. There is still some time to go before we can ask whether we’ll win one, two or three.

How do you deal with putting Barça aside and focusing instead on two games for Spain against Turkey?
You get used to it. Sometimes it’s nice to have a break from the team. You forget a bit about those three competitions and that takes some of the pressure off. That’s good but sometimes it’s also hard to go back to your club and play against teams that don’t have internationals, because they are better prepared, and have had two weeks rest. We’ll only have three days before the game with Valladolid, and that’s a bit difficult.

You played for Guardiola last season in Barça B. Now you’re together in the first team. Has he changed much, Does he work the same way as he used to with the reserves?
The boss is just the same. Last year he worked the same way as he does now. Of course the situation is very different, because here it’s more intense, there’s more pressure, but he’s the same person and the way he runs training sessions and games is the same, it’s the same Guardiola as last year in the third division.

Read the complete interview here

Read more:
The dizzying journey of Sergio Busquets
Busquets delighted with renewal
Busquets sr: "Sergio always had that easy touch"

[2008] Ronaldinho agent stirs things up

this post was published exactly one year ago:

In an interview with Brazilian sports site Globo Esporte, Roberto de Assís, brother and agent of Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho (28), said anything can happen at the end of this season and seems to suggest he would be willing to use the - since the so-called 'Webster ruling' famous - Article 17 of the FIFA transfer regulations, stating a player can leave after three year, having only to pay a compensation equalling the amount of the final years wages: "We know that there's a buyout clause of 125 million euro (°), but we also know of the existence of Article 17, which would make it possible to leave for far less." If the article is used, this would concretely mean Ronaldinho could leave Barcelona for about 16 million euro (°°).

Roberto, who says everything would change if Barcelona would win the Champions League, denied the rumour that he could use Porto Alegre, a club he owns, to transfer Ronaldinho to another club (read more here): "It's ridiculous to link Ronaldinho with Porto Alegre, a small second division team. His name should be linked with big clubs like Real Madrid or AC Milan without needing to pass by Porto Alegre." Adding that he doesn't want to exclude a transfer to Real Madrid, nor to any other club, mentioning the two Milan based teams.

Yesterday night, Roberto denied to Catalan radio station RAC 1 that he's planning to use Article 17 to dissolve Ronaldinho's contract with Barcelona: "I only replied when it was asked to me if I knew this legislation and of course I do." Rodrigo Sirico, the journalist of Globo Esporte who spoke with Roberto, nevertheless holds on to the first version and persists it was Ronaldinho's brother who brought up Article 17.

Roberto also said to RAC 1 there hasn't been any contact with Real Madrid. In an interview with Spanish television channel Cuatro, Real Madrid president Ramón Calderón denied that his club has any interest in Ronaldinho: "We consider that the players we have now in our squad are the best ones, so we don't have plans to change anything." In the coming days, Roberto will fly to Barcelona, where he could hold talks about the whole situation with Barcelona officials.

Meanwhile, Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that, of the many clubs following attentively the events surrounding Ronaldinho, English club Chelsea, who has been interested in the player for years and made an offer for him last summer, is at this moment the best placed team to bring in the Brazilian (read more here). Ronaldinho would have been discussed during a meeting on Tuesday between Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain and player's agent Pini Zahavi, who has close relationships with Chelsea.

And to conclude: the rumour spread by different media since yesterday that Tottenham manager Juande Ramos would be interested in signing Ronaldinho is due to a misinterpretation of some quotes by the Spaniard in an interview with Catalan sports paper Sport.

Read more 28 March 2008 news:
Xavi is on the Chelsea list
Eto'o top target for Milan
New Cesc agent on good terms with Barcelona

Chelsea will try to sign Alves this summer

British tabloid The Daily Express claims that Chelsea will try to sign Barcelona right back defender and Brazilian international Daniel Alves (25) in the summer (read more here).

Chelsea owner Abramovich would be set to spend this year in order to revolutionise the squad and, even though the Dutchman may not be there to coach them, he has therefore ordered Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink to draw him up a list of summer transfer targets.

Besides Alves, the target list would also include CSKA Moscow left winger Yuri Zhirkov, CSKA Moscow forward Wagner Love, Lyon forward Karim Benzema and Manchester City winger Robinho. That list would cost Chelsea more than 100 million euro if they manage to land them all but the club plans to fund the transfer by also having a mass summer clear-out.

Read more:
Alves dismisses Chelsea and Madrid rumours
An evaluation of last year's transfer summer
Chelsea and Manchester City sound out Alves

Friday 27 March 2009

Quote of the day: Guardiola

One day you will be the number 4 of Barça

message that current Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola (then Barcelona captain) wrote on a shirt he signed in 2001 for current Arsenal player Cesc Fàbregas (then Barcelona youth player)

Eto'o leading Golden Shoe standings

After his two goals last weekend against Málaga, Barcelona forward Samuel Eto'o (28) is the new leader of the Golden Shoe standings. Lionel Messi is joined third at this moment.

The European Golden Shoe, formerly known as the European Golden Boot, is a football award presented each season to the leading goalscorer in league matches from the top division of every European national league.

The leading five countries (Spain, Italy, Germany, France and England) on the UEFA ranking have two as their multiplier. This is to emphasise the difference in performance level between the clubs from those countries and those from the other nations.

The only Barcelona player so far to have won the trophy was Ronaldo in the 1996-1997 season. Barcelona player Thierry Henry won the trophy twice when he was playing for Arsenal (2003-2004 and 2004-2005). Last season, the trophy was won by Manchester United player Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored 31 league goals.

The current ranking:

50 Samuel Eto'o (Barcelona - Cameroon - 25 goals)
49,5 Marc Janko (Salzburg - Austria - 33 goals)
38 David Villa (Valencia - Spain - 19 goals)
38 Marco Di Vaio (Bologna - Italy - 19 goals)
38 Diego Forlán (Atlético Madrid - Uruguay - 19 goals)
38 Zlatan Ibrahimović (Inter Milan - Sweden - 19 goals)
38 Lionel Messi (Barcelona - Argentina - 19 goals)
36 Grafite (Wolfsburg - Brazil - 19 goals)
36 André-Pierre Gignac (Toulouse - France - 19 goals)
36 Vedad Ibišević (Hoffenheim - Bosnia-Herzegovina - 19 goals)

Read more:
Henry becomes fourth European goalscorer
Eto'o becomes fifth Barcelona goalscorer

Barça Classic: Barcelona-Espanyol (april 1984)

Calm training week in Barcelona

Due to the international matchs coming up in the next days, few first team players were present in Barcelona to take part in the training sessions.

On Tuesday, nine players (Valdés, Jorquera, Pinto, Márquez, Gudjohnsen, Sylvinho, Bojan, Pedro and Víctor Sánchez) trained together with Barcelona Atlètic.

On Wednesday, seven players (Valdés, Jorquera, Pinto, Márquez, Gudjohnsen, Sylvinho and Bojan) trained with three Barcelona Atlètic players (Gai, Solano and Rayo) and four Juvenil players (Muniesa, Dos Santos, Rochina and Bolaños). Pedro and Victor Sánchez played that day a game with Barcelona Atlètic.

On Thuesday, six players (Valdés, Jorquera, Pinto, Márquez, Sylvinho and Bojan) trained with six Barcelona Atlètic players (Nolito, Verdés, Maric, Rayo, Gai and Solano) and two Juvenil players (Romeu and Rochina). Gudjohnsen didn't take part because of stomach problems. The next training session is only planned for Tuesday.

In the meantime, the injured players (Milito, Abidal, Puyol and Iniesta) continued their recovery, while Touré travelled to Ivory Coast where the medical staff of the national team performed some medical tests. The defensive midfielder is expected back in Barcelona tomorrow.

Leadership lessons from a Catalan hero

author: Simon Kuper
source: Financial Times

date: 21 March 2009

A year ago, one of Barcelona's vice-presidents mused over lunch at the Nou Camp stadium that perhaps Josep "Pep" Guardiola should be the club's next coach. Guardiola then 37, had never managed a professional football club, let alone the biggest on earth. True, replied the veep, but Guardiola was a Catalan, and "Barça" longed to have a home-grown coach.

Months later Guardiola got the job. He then transformed last season's jaded Barça team into what the great Italian coach Arrigo Sacchi calls "the most beautiful footballing cause of recent years". Guardiola's inspired appointment offers two lessons to any company: how to choose a boss, and how the boss should choose his team.

The key point about Guardiola is that he has been identified with Barcelona almost from birth. As Jimmy Burns writes in Barça: A People's Passion , locals still remember Guardiola as a skinny 15-year-old ballboy illegally running on to the pitch and hugging a player during a European semi-final in 1986. They remember him as a skinny playmaker, standing on the balcony of the Generalitat building in 1992, holding aloft the European Cup, and saying in Catalan, " Ja la teniu aquí " ("Here you have it"). The phrase, deliberately echoed the legendary " Ja soc aquí " ("Here I am") of Josep Tarradellas, the Catalan president, when he returned from French exile after General Franco died.

But most Barça fans always hoped that one day, the man known as The Myth would return, as their skinny coach. In other words, Guardiola, a reader of Catalan poetry, is the perfect Catalan hero. This background matters because it helps Guardiola govern with the essence of the club culture. Guardiola understands how the fans want Barcelona to play: the attacking, quick-passing football down the wings that the Dutchman Johan Cruijff introduced, that is to say, Cruijff painted the chapel, and subsequent coaches must merely restore and improve it.

The fans agree. By governing with the grain, Guardiola wins instant acceptance. It's like the unknown from the ranks who is chosen as CEO because everyone likes him and he understands the company. He contrasts with the "star" CEO or coach from outside, who often tries to overturn the existing corporate culture: José Mourinho, for instance.

Star players obey Guardiola because they know they have no chance of forcing him out. They stick to the three-page "code of good conduct" he wrote before the season, stick to their zones on the field, and when the great striker Samuel Eto'o dares talk back at training, he is banished to the showers. Barcelona's players are so good that as long as they serve the collective, they will win prizes.

And that is the main lesson from Guardiola's work: he kept his best players. A year ago everyone expected Barcelona to sell the difficult, underperforming Eto'o and Thierry Henry. But Guardiola knew that football's scarcest resource is talent. Instead of buying lesser, more dutiful players, he dared to persevere with class.

Only one step remains in Guardiola's career path: displace Sant Jordi as the skinny patron saint of Catalonia.

read the full and original article here

Read more:
Barcelona plans to offer Guardiola new contract
The Impressive Start of Guardiola
Guardiola Presented
Mourinho and Cruijff on list to replace Rijkaard

Principal agreement with Keirrison

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona has reached a principal agreement on the transfer of Palmeiras forward Keirrison (20) (read more here).

Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain, who was in Brazil this week, would have closed the deal during his trip. Begiristain and Barcelona scout Pepe Costa watched Keirrison last Tuesday during a Brazilian league game (read more here).

The transfer fee for Keirrison, who is also followed by Liverpool, Real Madrid and Valencia, would be 15 million euro°, although Barcelona wants to lower the fee and include some incentives. It has been agreed that the negotiations will be reopened at the end of the season.

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that the player's agency Traffic owns eighty per cent of Keirrison's transfer rights, while the other twenty per cent belong to Palmeiras.

Read more:
Keirrison dreams of Barcelona move
Barcelona plans at least four summer transfers (2)
Possible deal on Brazilian striker Keirrison

Watch this video of Keirrison:

Pique: "If you need to prank, then you must prank"

Barcelona placer Gerard Piqué gave an interview to Spanish sports weekly paper Don Balón.

Have the newly arrived players, like you for example, had a postive influence on the atmosphere?
Everybody puts in their bit. It's good that everyone tries to get along and form a part of the team because it's impossible if someone doesn't want to. The new players have shown good motivation, and every new player has helped towards the optimistic atmosphere. And you see that on the pitch.

Everybody puts in their bit, but for Henry, you are a pain in the neck... (read more here)
I owe him... You know why? "Titi" always arrives half-asleep and when I hit him to wake him up he gets mad. He tells me, "enough!"

There are few like you. You wouldn't waste any jokes on Guardiola, right?
If you need to prank then you must prank... But it's true that we have lots of respect for the coach. The jokes are more between the players. We leave the technical staff alone. For now.

Is Guardiola intimidating when you're right by him?
No, he's very human. He likes the relationship between people, he'll talk every day with you, tell you what he's thinking, and he gives advice... His methods are very direct and the players feel more involved.

Piqué tells us later that Pep took him apart that day to comment on the "superb" performance of Liverpool central defener Carragher at the Bernabéu.

And Eto'o, how is he in the dressing room, considering that you've only seen this year's version?
Well, he has a strong character, even though everyone already knows that. Nobody should forget that he can react in different ways. That's how he is and the squad accepts him that way.

So residing with him is good?
His character affects us positively. Many times the team reacts well to an unpleasant result thanks to him. We know how he is, some of us are more relaxed and have our own faults, but we're pleased with him.

Did it bother you when he said that Barcelona is like a job to him?
People forget that in the long run, a footballer is a worker. And Barcelona is a company. It's cold but that's how it is. It's another thing to have bled Barcelona for an entire life, being a culé since young and feeling that Barca is more than a club, like I feel. But you can't change the way that Samuel feels about being a part of Barca. As long as he's doing his job, we don't need to start any debates.

How did you react to the betrayal of Figo, based on this reasoning?
It was a painful episode. As a supporter I'll tell you that when you give so much to a player and then you see that he doesn't react nor return all the love that you've given, it's really hard. Then when you become a professional you begin to understand. Figo decided to go to the competition, which is Real Madrid.

Do you know who "Quini" (former Barcelona player 1980-1984) is?
Yes, of course.

Is it bad that Bojan didn't know this?
I'm surprised that he didn't know but I also don't know the level of Barcelonism of Bojan. But it's nothing to fuss about.

You were the last player to debut with the Spanish national team. How was the first contact with Vicente Del Bosque?
He seemed like a sensible person and is very noble. He left me with a good vibe. It was also a dream debut, defeating England 2-0, playing the 90 minutes. I didn't expect it, to be honest.

The Barcelona squad sung "Spanish Pique". Do the jokes carry on in the Spain team?
No. I guess that being new saved me but in those two days there the relationship was great and I connected well with everyone.

Do you speak Catalan within that dressing room?
Yes, of course. I'm used to doing it when I speak to Xavi or Puyol. If there's more players we speak in Castillian so everyone can understand.

Do you feel like a leader of anti-Espanyolism? The "pericos" are so far down the table...
I don't like that etiquette. There's rivalry but I simply defend the interests of my own team. If they get relegated to the Segunda it's their problem and they'll find their motives. But saying that I heatened thing up before the derby... It was all a little exaggerated it.

You're not an anti-Espanyolist?
No, and I want it to be clear. Someone that's "anti" is jealous and angry at something and to Espanyol I wish neither good nor bad. I don't care. I have friends at Espanyol, such as Sergio Sanchez and Torrejon. To them I wish the best personally, but as a club, I've never bothered about Espanyol.

Translated by: Al

This was the second and last part of this interview. You can read the first part here:
Pique: "Return better than Champions League win"

Read more:
Piqué: "Now I want to score in the Bernabeu"
An evaluation of last year's transfer summer
International: Pique makes debut for Spain

Barcelona wants to renew Valdes

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona wants to renew the contract of Barcelona goalkeeper Víctor Valdés (27), that expires in the summer of 2010 (read more here).

The technical department of the club thinks that it’s almost impossible at this moment to buy a quality goalkeeper who can deal with the pressure at Barcelona like Valdés can and as a consequence there has been decided that they won’t sign another goalkeeper this year but will try to renew Valdés' contract until 2014.

Last season, Barcelona sports vice-president Marc Ingla would have started renewal talks with Valdés and his father, who is acting as his agent. Barcelona would have made the player four offers, the last one including a gross year salary of around six million euro, plus another possible two million euro in incentives.

Valdés signed his current five-year contract in the summer of 2005. His salary was then believed to be 2 million euro plus 1,5 million euro in incentives. The player also got the promise of Barcelona president Joan Laporta that, if everything went well, he would get a pay rise after three years.

That pay rise didn't come and Valdés now not only wants a renewal but also still wants to receive this promised pay rise. Sources closes to the club and the player also both denied to the paper that Valdés would have asked to earn as much as Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Although a deal was close last year, it couldn’t in the end be finalized, also because Ingla left the club together with several board members in July. Since then, there have almost been no further contacts and the club has now decided to postpone all renewal negotiations until the end of the season.

Valdés would in the meantime have received three offers by interested clubs, one of them being AC Milan, that offers him a lot more than he’s currently earning at Barcelona. The priority of the Catalan goalkeeper is nevertheless to renew his contract with Barcelona.

Madrid sports tabloid As claims that Milan wants Valdés to replace Dida (read more here). The goalkeeper would have signed a few days ago an agreement with player’s agent Ginés Carvajal, who also represents Real Madrid player Raúl and whose first task is to negotiate a contract extension with Barcelona.

But although Valdés wants to continue at Barcelona, it cannot be excluded that he will be willing to listen to the offer of the Italian club. And independent from him joining Milan or not, former Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard would be planning to include Valdés in his wish list if he would return to the bench this summer.

Read more:
Valdes unaware of the club's renewal plans
Barcelona sounds out Juventus goalkeeper Buffon
Quote of the day: Antic

[2008] Cesc agent split monitored

this post was published exactly one year ago:

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo reports that Barcelona is re-evaluating the situation of Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fàbregas (20) after the player has broken with his agent Joseba Díaz (read more here). The latter didn't have a good relation with Barcelona, and especially with sports director Txiki Begiristain, after Cesc's transfer to Arsenal in 2003.

Although the player's family and a big part of the Barcelona fans are very much in favour of a return to Catalunya, this seems very unlikely at the moment since the player is very comfortable with Arsenal and the transfer price of supposedly around 50 million euro (°) is not attainable for Barcelona. For possible future negotiations, the agent switch is nevertheless seen as a positive thing, with Mariano Aguilar, Iván Corretja and Ramon Sostres said to be amongst the candidates to replace Díaz. Cesc, who was in Spain for an international friendly on Wednesday, didn't want to pronounce on the issue to Spainish journalists: "I don't want to speak about this issue."

Meanwhile, Arsenal is reacting surprised to the agent split, just when a contract renewal deal with Cesc, whose current six years contract expires in 2012, seemed close. A spokesperson of the English club is quoted as saying that the news comes as a "tremendous surprise". Díaz, who also represents Arsenal players Manuel Almunia and Fran Mérida, has an excellent relationship with Arsenal manger Arsène Wenger.

Read more 27 March 2008 news:
Mourinho deadline approaches
Ronaldinho decision expected in June

Medical: Every player has individual training diary

author: Jesús Carrillo
date: 26 March 2009

This season, Barça players are being told to write everything they do while they are with their national squads. Apart from training and the matches themselves, FC Barcelona’s internationals are keeping a detailed dairy of all the exercises they are doing away from the club.

The players have to indicate the length of time spent training, whether the session is focussed on fitness or tactics, how long they spend on the pitch and how long in the gym, etcetera. They also have to give similar details on the training matches they take part in.

The idea is to keep Barça’s fitness coaches fully informed of the players’ training activities away from the Camp Nou. On the players’ return from international duty, the coaches will adjust their training programmes to take into account the work the players have done while with the nation squads. After eight months of competitive football, the coaches need to know every last detail in order to keep the players in top shape.

These new practices are not only being applied to the internationals. As Rafa Márquez admitted at last Tuesday’s press conference, every player has an individualised training plan in addition to the collective training done by every member of the squad, the main aim being to prevent injuries. Each player also has an individual nutrition plan, depending on weight, workload and the specific traits of each player.

read the full and original article here

Madrid trying to hold on to the league title

(click the cartoon to enlarge)

see more cartoons here

Barcelona holding renewal talks with Henry

British tabloid The Sun claims that Barcelona wants to extend the contract of Bacelona forward and French international Thierry Henry (31), whose current contract expires in 2011.

Barcelona wants Henry to spend the rest of his career at the club and would already have
opened talks with the French striker over a new three-year contract.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta would want to offer Henry, who currently earns around 7,5 million euro a year, a pay rise to prevent him from returning to the English Premier League (read more here).

Read more:
Manchester City working on Henry transfer
Henry not thinking about return to Premier League
Henry becomes fourth European goalscorer

Maxwell could be included in Eto’o deal

Asked about the rumours linking Inter Milan left back defender Maxwell (27) to several clubs among which Barcelona (read more here), the player’s agent Mino Raiola has said in an interview with Italian radio station Radio Radio that the player will certainly leave at the end of the season:

"Maxwell has said that he wants to leave. The relationship between Mourinho and Maxwell is over and the coach doesn’t count on him. The problem with Mourinho is that either you’re Zlatan and he invites you at his place or you’re not and then you don’t exist. That’s not right.

It will be the player who will decide where he goes to, not the club. We’ll put an end to the contract, we’ll pay what has to be paid and that’s it. He will go to the club with whom we can find an agreement. That could be Milan or Barcelona. We didn’t receive any concrete offers, but I think that all the big clubs know the value of this player."

Italian sports site Sportmediaset claims that Raiola already started talking with Barcelona. Maxwell, who currently earns two million euro a year, should cost around 8-9 million euro°. The Brazilian left back defender could also be included in a deal on the transfer of Barcelona forward Samuel Eto’o (28) to Inter (read more here).

Read more:
Maxwell one of two candidates for left back spot
Inter wants to sign Eto'o in the summer
Barcelona is an option for Maxwell

Thursday 26 March 2009

Number of the day: 38 000 000

38 000 000

the amount in euros of bonuses and incentives Barcelona would have to pay to players and coaches if the team wins the treble this season

Video of the day: Eto'o

Uploaded by odn-barca4life

Messi: "It's not good to play the return away"

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

What a show this Barça puts up!
Yeah, yeah,… We enjoy ourselves while playing, but we’re also serious about it. We're having a good time and that leads to good football, but at the same time we're not forgetting about the guidelines Pep is giving us.

All the praising makes you feel more relaxed?
No, it’s ok, if we play well, it’s nice to hear people talk positively about our game. But the most important thing is that we’re aware that we’re only halfway. We’re having a good time, but we’ll have an even better time if we win trophies, and the more, the better.

You sound a lot like Pep…
This is also how we think because two years ago we also played very good but in the end we didn’t win anything. This is our football, with our football we can go a long way, but it’s not also entertaining, it’s also serious.

There seem to be a good atmosphere…
Yes, that’s true. We work well, we have a good time and our way of playing makes it possible to enjoy ourselves on the pitch. Everything with one touch, with great players, everyone at Barça plays very good.

Can we already dream about the Champions League final in Rome?
Well… We first have four very difficult games left. We’ll reach the final in Rome if we continue to be united, if we play our game and if we are able to suffer. Actually, you can add luck to that, because in this competition being lucky also has an influence. But the most important thing, what matters most to me, is that we always play our football, that we reach the final with our football philosophy. That’s the greatest thing about this club.

You celebrated in the dressingroom when you saw the draw against Bayern?
I'm neutral about it, not only because of the opponent but also because we play the second game away. I said that I'm not afraid of any team because if you really want to win the trophy, you have to defeat whoever you meet, but it's not a good thing to have to play the return game away from home.

What do you think about Ribéry?
He’s the key player of Bayern. He’s always around. I played against him with the national team and he appeared everywhere on the pitch. It’s a decisive player but he’s not the only one to watch. Bayern is like Barça: if you only focus on one player, you’re dead because the other players also can decide a game.

What would you highlight about Bayern?
Their ability to score, their strikers. They have goalscorers with a different profile and this is a real threat because you never know where the danger is coming from. Bayern is a club with a great reputation, one of the top clubs in Europe, one of those teams whois always there, whom you hear about since you're a child. This is the Champions League, the greatest club competition.

How can you win the tie with Bayern?
Our strategy should be to play united, as a team, be ourselves. The music of the Champions league is something special, you know you’re between the best.

Guardiola takes care of you?
Pep takes care of me, he protects me and he uses me intelligently. I’m delighted with Pep. At the beginning they said that we didn't get along but that’s not at all the case. From the beginning, Pep treated me marvellously. Pep wants us all to be fit, he gives us rest when we need it, he knows that quicker than us because he controls everything. He talks a lot with us, about everything, not only about football.

You and Alves make the best right wing of the moment…
Yeah, yeah, it seems I have something special with the Brazilians, I have a good relationship with them… The truth is that it’s easy to play with Dani because his game is excellent. We get along very well, both on and off the pitch.

Read more:
Messi: "I also make mistakes"
Madrid having difficulties to understand Messi
Manchester City denies preparing bid for Messi

Barcelona plans at least four summer transfers (2)

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona plans to buy at least four players during the coming summer transfer window.

Adding some new motivation to the group, expiring contracts and the Africa Cup are the three main reasons to renew the squad and look for a central defender, a left back defender, a versatile midfielder and a left wing attacker and/or a centre forward.

Left wing attacker
Bayern Munich attacker and French international Franck Ribéry (25 - picture) is the main candidate for this spot (read more here). Valencia left winger and Spanish international David Silva (23) would be the second name on the list, although a transfer seems more likely than ever because of the financial problems of his club (read more here). Alexander Hleb (27) could leave if a good offer comes in (read more here).

Centre forward
The key to any transfer will be the situation of Samuel Eto’o (28), whose contract expires in 2010. Because of financial reasons, a renewal agreement seems far off at this stage. Several clubs are interested in the striker, one of them being Inter Milan (read more here). If Eto’o would leave, Valencia forward and Spanish international David Villa (27) is the main option, both because of his qualities and the financial situation of his club (read more here). Other names on the list include Palmeiras forward Keirrison (20) (read more here).

You can read the first part of this post (central defender, left back defender, versatile midfielder) here.

Bojan doesn’t consider loan exit

Asked about the rumours linking him with a loan exit (read more here), Barcelona forward and Spanish youth international Bojan Krkic (18) has said in an interview with Catalan radio station Catalunya Ràdio that he hasn’t thought about a transfer:

"It doesn’t cross my mind to leave, first because I believe in my qualities, also based on my performances last season, and second because I think I can compete with the players that are here and that I can be part of a top team like Barça.

The important thing is not to think that I’m having less minutes than last season, but to focus on the minutes I’m having this season and the goals that I’m scoring.

This is my home, here I have my club, my family, my friends, I cannot have this anywhere else. I try not to take notice of the transfer rumours. At Barça, the best club in the world, you will always have the best defenders of the world, the best midfielders and, of course, the best strikers, a key position. But I’m ready to prove that a centre forward can also be important if he comes from the youth academy.

In Almería, Guardiola really showed that he totally believes in me. For me that was an important detail. I’m sure he’ll give me more playing time and I feel I’m prepared to play. It’s an honour to be part of a team like this, that is competing for all trophies, we’re making history. For this to end well, it’s important to be mentally prepared."

At a press conference, Bojan seemed a little less certain about his future: "In football you never know what will happen the next day, so I don’t know my future. But the coaches give me confidence every day and that’s essential for me. I work hard every day, I’m learning new things in every game and in every training session. I’m surrounded by great professionals, so I feel privileged.

It’s not easy to play in a team with players like Messi, Eto’o and Henry. At this moment, they are without any doubt the best forward line in the world, so it’s difficult to have a starting spot in this team. When I had the chance to play with them, I think I’ve done well and I’ve paid back the coach for his confidence. I want to keep on growing in the shadow of these stars. I’m learning a lot this season. I’m very happy with the goals I’ve scored so far and the emotions they bring with them."

Read more:
Arsenal interested in Bojan
Guardiola wants goalkeeper, left winger and striker
Barcelona confirms offers for Bojan

Second U2 concert at Camp Nou

Irish rock band U2 has officially announced today that they have added a second concert to their stadium tour that will kick off in Barcelona in June:

"The Nou Camp show in Barcelona on June 30th sold out in 54 minutes, breaking all records in Spain. A second show has been added, for July 2nd. Our subscribers can enter a presale for this show from tomorrow, Friday, with tickets on sale to the general public from next Tuesday, March 31st."

Read more:
How much will Barcelona get for the U2 concert?
New U2 tour kicks off at Camp Nou

Barça B - Liga 31: Barcelona-Terrassa 3-0


Córcoles (17 Thiago)

Víctor Sánchez

Benja (70 Maric)
Pedro (76 Nolito)

18 Pedro 1-0
28 Jeffren 2-0 (pen)
89 Victor Sánchez 3-0


yellow cards


out of match squad

Víctor Vázquez
Xavi Torres

ratings by Sport
8: Longás, Pedro
7: Fontàs, Víctor Sánchez, Abraham, Jeffren, Thiago
6: Miño, Córcoles, Botía, Joni, Benja, Maric, Nolito

1. Villarreal B 67
2. Alcoyano 62
3. Sabadell 54
4. Sant Andreu 49
5. Barcelona Atlètic 49
6. Lleida 46
7. Ontinyent 44
8. Badalona 44
9. Gavá 40
10. Osasuna B 40
11. Orihuela 39
12. Gramanet Milán 38
13. Benidorm 37
14. Denia 37
15. Valencia Mestalla 35
16. Terrassa 35
17. Santa Eulalia 32
18. Alzira 30
19. Eivissa 28
20. Atlético Baleares 26

The top four teams from each third division group, 16 teams in total, qualify for play-offs to determine which four teams will promote to the second division.

The bottom four teams are relegated to the fourth division. The 16th placed team enters into a relegation playoff with the 16th placed team of another group of the third division.

# o s e

[Valiente] Zaragoza-Sevilla B

Spanish second division team Sevilla Atlético, the second team of first division club Sevilla, played last weekend their 29th league game of the season, losing 4-0 against Zaragoza.

Former Barcelona Atlètic player Marc Valiente (21) started the game on the bench and entered in the second half.

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.

Sunday 1 March - League game 26: Sevilla Atlético-Levante 1-2
Injured. Valiente has an ankle injury.

Sunday 8 March - League game 27: Real Sociedad-Sevilla Atlético 1-0
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder. Yellow card.

Saturday 14 March - League game 28: Sevilla Atlético-Las Palmas 2-2
Substitute. Valiente replaces Cabral in the 56th minute (1-2). Defensive midfielder.

Saturday 21 March - League game 29: Zaragoza-Sevilla Atlético 4-0
Substitute. Valiente replaces José Carlos in the 52nd minute (2-0). Defensive midfielder.

1. Xerez 54
2. Tenerife 52
3. Hércules 50
4. Rayo 49
5. Zaragoza 48
6. Real Sociedad 45
7. Castellón 44
8. Salamanca 44
9. Huesca 43
10. Levante 43
11. Gimnástic 38
12. Girona 38
13. Murcia 38
14. Elche 36
15. Albacete 36
16. Celta 35
17. Córdoba 33
18. Las Palmas 32
19. Alavés 31
20. Eibar 28
21. Alicante 24
22. Sevilla Atlético 11

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

Uefa to initiate club finance control panel

author: Mark Chaplin

date: 24 March 2009

UEFA's Executive Committee has approved the creation of a Club Financial Control Panel in what is a first concrete measure to improve financial fair play in the UEFA club competitions. The decision, taken at the committee's two-day meeting in Copenhagen, follows recommendations by the UEFA Club Licensing Committee and the Professional Football Strategy Council.

Financial and legal experts

At UEFA level, the body will comprise financial and legal experts and will ensure that the club licensing system will be applied correctly. It will be composed of a chairman and up to eight members appointed by the UEFA Executive Committee. "The main task of the panel will be to conduct financial audits on clubs in order to ensure licences were correctly awarded and it may further conduct spot checks, and/or investigations, to ensure that the integrity rules are observed by the clubs," said UEFA on Tuesday.

First concrete measures
UEFA General Secretary David Taylor says, "We already have a club licensing system across Europe – a system based on national licensing by national associations or leagues. We feel that it is important to have something at European level, and [the panel] will look specifically at the finances of clubs and how they are structured. As from next season, this panel will be doing continuous monitoring."

read the full and original article here

Read more:
Proposal to limit spending on transfers and salaries
New step in ban on youth transfers
UEFA and clubs have no plans for Super League

Manchester City working on Henry transfer

British newspaper The Times claims that Manchester City is planning a move for Barcelona forward and French international Thierry Henry (30) at the end of this season (read more here).

The English Premier League club is determined to compete with the established top four teams and has identified Henry as one of their leading targets, together with Bayern Munich attacker Franck Ribéry, in the pursuit of Champions League football. Chelsea defender John Terry and Blackburn Rovers forward Roque Santa Cruz are also on the target list.

Manchester City would have been working behind the scenes since January on a deal to bring Henry back to the Premier League. The French striker, whose contract with Barcelona expires in 2011, will be offered a impressive year salary and would cost around 10,5 million euro°.

The failed bid to sign AC Milan player Kaká in January has done little to discourage City from trying to land an iconic signing who can boost their profile off the pitch. It is said to be Manchester City manager Mark Hughes who would be driving the deal. He is confident that he retains the support of the club’s board and owners, but he is eager to make a big impact in the transfer market this summer.

Read more:
Manchester City moving to bring in Henry
Henry not thinking about return to Premier League
Manchester City preparing summer bid for Henry

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