Saturday 4 April 2009

Match discussion: Valladolid

This evening at 8:00 pm bt,
Barcelona plays the 29th league game of the season against Valladolid.

Valladolid squad list:
no match list announced

Barcelona squad list:
Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Puyol, Piqué, Márquez, Cáceres, Sylvinho, Xavi, Busquets, Keita, Gudjohsen, Iniesta, Messi, Eto'o, Bojan, Henry, Pedro

Read a match preview here

Re-live the first round game here


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

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

Barcelona calm about Valdes renewal

Several Barcelona officials have reacted over the past days on the events surrounding the renewal of the contract of Barcelona goalkeeper Víctor Valdés (27) (read more here).

Manager Josep Guardiola at a press conference:
"You already know my stand: if he wants to stay and continues, I will be delighted as I am now to have him. I trust him. He makes mistakes, like all his teammates and myself, but he gives us more than he could take away. I'm not worried about this situation because he's strong and it won't affect him.

I guess his agent knows what he's doing, but I've always thought that the more calm and the more quiet you deal with those things, the better. He knows more about this than I do but I don't know if he's helping his player with this strategy. If he has some problem, he can call Txiki. When the time is there, we will talk with Víctor about his renewal."

President Joan Laporta to journalists:
"Valdés is for me the best goalkeeper in the world and we'll take that in consideration when talking about his renewal. He will earn what he deserves. He has been decisive in important moments. Being the goalkeeper of Barça is more difficult than at any other club. We play from ball possession and our goalkeeper sees very few balls so he always has to be on top of his game.

I'm confident that we can find a good deal. We have a certain salary policy and we'll fit him into that. He wants to stay and we'll offer him a market conform salary so we can reach an agreement which satisfies both parties. The technical deparment is handling his renewal with the calmness that is necessary in those situations. "

Sports vice-president Rafael Yuste to Catalan radio station Onda Cero Catalunya:
"Everybody can be very calm about the issue. I greeted him earlier this week and when I see how happy he is, that made me feel relaxed. Víctor is the best goalkeeper in the world and we'll treat him that way. I would like Valdés to stay Barça's goalkeeper for many more years but the sports director and the manager will make the final decision."

Sports director Txiki Begiristain to journalists:
"At this moment we haven't been notified by the player that he has another agent. Until last summer, all talks were held with the father and the brother of Víctor. The truth is that we were very happy with the tone of the talks but we put things on hold because there was a serious difference about the economic part. We will now talk with Víctor and he'll tell us who we have to contact, so there shouldn't be any problem.

I want to make very clear that it's not true that he has asked to earn as much as Iker Casillas, I can assure you that. After the declarations of his agent, he reacted in a good way. He wants to stay at the club and that's what we all want because he's our first goalkeeper. His personality is a great asset, he's a youth player, he is having a solid career and he did important things for the club. Because of all this, we will fight to reach an agreement.

When the time is there, we will talk. We don't want the players to get distracted now, they should only focus on the game these last couple of months of the season. We'll negotiate all renewals at the end of the season. We don't have a ranking about who will come first but it's clear that the position of goalkeeper is one of the most important positions so we want to have certainty about it."

Read more:
Valdes calm about renewal talks
Barcelona wants to renew Valdes
AC Milan interested in Valdes

[Crosas] Celtic Glasgow-Hamilton

Celtic Glasgow played this afternoon their 30th league game of the season. Celtic defeated Hamilton 4-0.

Former Barcelona midfielder Marc Crosas played the whole game.

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 1/8 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.

Wednesday 4 March - League game 28: Kilmarnock-Celtic Glasgow 1-2
Starter. Crosas starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Assist.

Saturday 7 March - Cup 1/4 finals: St Mirren-Celtic Glasgow 1-0
Starter. Crosas starts the game and is replaced by Samaras in the 74th minute (1-0).

Sunday 15 March - League Cup final: Celtic Glasgow-Rangers 2-0 (aet)

Sunday 22 March - League game 29: Dundee United-Celtic Glasgow 2-2

Sunday 4 April - League game 30: Celtic Glasgow-Hamilton 4-0
Starter. Crosas starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

1. Celtic Glasgow 67
2. Rangers (29) 61
3. Hearts (31) 52
4. Aberdeen (31) 45

Preview : Valladolid

Venue : Estadio José Zorrilla, Valladolid

Generally, this season Barḉa have had a good time of it against the mid-table clubs with the exception of Getafe. A majority of the big wins (by 3 goals or more) have come against the clubs currently occupying the mid-table positions. As was evident against Almeria, Barḉa’s biggest advantage going into the game against Valladolid (who sit at 9th in the table currently) at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla is the fear psyche built up by the 6-0 thrashing we gave them in the first leg. This will hopefully play on Valladolid’s mind and keep them from being too adventurous, even at home.

Valladolid is one of those teams which generally play with a high defence. While they enjoy some success with the other top teams with such an approach they have lacked the quality to retain sufficient possession to make this strategy effective against Barḉa. Critical to breaking down such a team is Barca’s ability to harass their midfield and regain possession early thus subjugating their attacking initiative and demoralising the midfield.

Of 9+1 (Bojan for the under 21) Barca players called up, all except Busquets played the entire 90 mins for their respective national teams. Added to this, injuries to other key players means that Pep Guardiola has some difficult choices to make for this game. Iniesta and Puyol have suffered from the recurrence of old injuries after having been rushed back into the side from layoffs. Therefore, as we approach the most critical part of the season Guardiola will be wary of the same happening again. Yet, these are the freshest players available, having not had to undergo the rigours of 2 international games, the last being just 3 days before this one.

Often, the difficulties that arise after international matches may not entirely be caused by fatigue. For a team reliant on the synchronous movement of players on and off the ball such as Barca, problems arise in regaining that cohesion and telepathic understanding between players who have had to adjust midweek to a different team, different set-up and different players.

Valladolid coach Jose Luis Mendilibar, is one of those few coaches in La Liga who have been given a long run at the helm of a club. This has helped him build a squad which produced a strong performance to get itself promoted in 2006-07 and stay in the Primera Division at the end of last season. Not overly reliant on a counterattacking game, Mendilibar’s side often display good passing and movement using runners from midfield to threaten the opposition goal. While Barca should be able to handle their midfield with ease it is the other key-aspect of their game: scoring from set-pieces that is likely to give us problems. A disciplined side, Valladolid do not allow too much space between their midfield and defence. The best way to hit them early would therefore be by playing the Henry-style of game with the early through pass from defence or deep midfield releasing Etoó or Henry to run on goal.

In terms of scalps Valladolid have Sevilla, Villareal and Real Madrid to their name although all three of these are from the first half of the season. Their home form has been reasonably good with 8 out of 12 wins overall, coming at home. They can claim to have had a decent March with 3 wins coming before the loss to Sevilla in the last game. Their offense to defence record is interesting. Take aside the 6-0 thrashing by Barca and Valladolid have lost by 3 goals on one occasion (against Sevilla in the last game), by 2 goals thrice; with the remaining 8 losses coming by a 1 goal margin and thus have a goal difference of only -4 (42 scored against 46 conceded). Generally though, their games have tended towards the high scoring side with an overall 64% of their matches ending up with more than 2.5 goals per game.

Relying more on a team effort rather than the individual ability of any particular player Valladolid nevertheless are powered by the energetic performances of Sesma(6 goals) and the set-piece delivery of Pedro Leon. To back them up, is Goitom weighing in with 9 goals this season. Sesma will be the key player to watch as he attempts to make use of space on Barca’s right flank opened up by the forward movement of either Alves or Puyol.

Pep will have a difficult balancing act with this game’s selection resting jet-lagged players returning from long trips for the international games and breaking those returning from injury as gently as possible into the squad. Puyol might get the start since Dani Alves is returning from Brazil and Sesma will be difficult to handle if he is left unmarked. The fragile Don Andres Iniesta will probably be reserved for a subs appearance to lessen the likelihood of a fresh injury before the Bayern game. Messi similarly could be replaced by Bojan although it would nice to see Pedro get a game again after a long period out of the first team.

Valladolid Expected Line-up 4-5-1: Villar, Pedro Lopez, Preito, Bea, Marcos, Pedro Leon, Borja/Vivar D., Cannobio/Victor, Alvaro, Sesma, Goitom

Barca Line-up (My guess is as good as Yours) 4-3-3 : Victor Valdes, Puyol, Marquez, Pique, Sylvinho, Xavi, Busquets, Gudjohnsen, Pedro, Etoó, Henry

Etoó was the star of the massacre at the Nou Camp slamming in 4 goals but he might find chances to score more infrequent this time as Guardiola will look for a compact energy-saving performance away from home. The defence will be severely tested at set-pieces by the excellent delivery of Pedro Leon and it would a great confidence booster if they can hold good once again before the Champions League resumes on Wednesday.

Prediction : Valladolid 0 – 2 Barcelona

kamikaze kontiki

Barcelona wants youth academy in Brazil

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona wants to open a youth academy in Brazil (read more here). This would have been the main reason for the visit of a Barcelona delegation to the South-American country last week.

Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain would have had contacts with three possible local partners and the club will now decide if they can start the project, which should be a copy of the model that has been put in place in Argentina (read more here).

During his trip, Begiristain met (1) in Rio de Janero with former Brazilian international Bebeto, who has now a sports marketing agency, (2) in São Paulo with executives of sports marketing agency Traffic, that opened earlier this month an academy in Porto Feliz, and (3) in Curitiba with player's agent Mario Zagallo, the son of former Brazilian international and national team coach Mario Zagallo, and several local investors. The second option seems at this moment the most unlikely one since Traffic wouldn't want their academy to be linked with one club.

Read more:
Barcelona will open youth academy in Brazil
Youth: Cooperation agreement with River Plate

Arsenal confident about keeping Cesc

Asked about the newrumours linking Arsenal midfielder and Spanish international Cesc Fàbregas (21) with a move to Barcelona (read more here), Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has said at a press conference that he's not bothered by the speculation:

"Why should I be disappointed? If I was disappointed, that would mean I should expect another behaviour, but I do not. No, it does not annoy me. What is important is how well we deal with this kind of thing inside the club. That is more important than what people say.

It is about how much energy we put into achieving things and not worrying about what people say or think. Any distraction would be a weakness from our side and a wrong excuse. We do not want that. We cannot influence what people say, or write or think. We can influence how much success we can achieve together. The period which is in front of us can be a formidable human experience for our players, and that is what I want it to be. What is the most important is that we do as well as we can.

So what is important is not who stays or goes in July but the next game. It is important we concentrate on the short-term rather than become involved in speculation. We have twenty-five players and everyone wants them. I anyway think we are in a strong position to keep Fàbregas in the summer."

Read more:
Cesc will make decision at the end of the season
Cesc rejects Madrid because of Barça dream

Agent Trezeguet hints at Barcelona move

Asked about the rumours linking Juventus forward David Trezeguet (31) with a summer exit, the player's agent Antonio Caliendo has said in an interview with Italian radio station Radio Kiss Kiss that he's convinced that Barcelona will again try to sign the French striker this summer:

"There is a lot of interest for him from England and Spain. It's the same as the last four or five years, we have lived the same situation during every transfer period. But in the end, Juventus has always managed to convince the player to stay.

Barcelona had in fact already kind of bought him three years ago but then Capello intervened and vetoed the move, which lead Juve to put pressure on the player, also through his family. Barcelona is certainly still interested in Trezeguet and has the intention to sign him. I think that they will try again this summer and that they could move soon. In one month, we can expect some news in that perspective."

In an interview with French sports paper L'Equipe, Caliendo repeated that Barcelona could be interested but that Trezeguet is now only concentrating on his club: "Over the last weeks I have received phone calls from English and Spanish clubs for David. But I've replied to them that David is at this moment focused on Juve and the Italian league."

Read more:
Guardiola called Trezeguet this summer
Thinking about Eto'o-Trezeguet swap
Deal with Trezeguet

Watch a video of Trezeguet here:

[2008] Diego Milito closely monitored

this post was published exactly one year ago:

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that an Argentinian agent has recently offered Zaragoza forward Diego Milito (28) to Barcelona.

Since Zaragoza is at the bottom of the Spanish league and still playing for relegation, Barcelona, that has been following the player for years now (read more here), is closely monitoring the situation of the Argentinian international. The current contract of Diego Milito, who is the older brother of Barcelona central defender Gabriel Milito, expires in 2011. It is generally believed that Zaragoza will not hold on to the 100 million euro° buyout clause if a good offer comes in for the striker.

Read more 4 April 2008 news:
Thuram to sell energy drinks
Ronaldinho agent met with Chelsea
100 million euro to spend

Pichichi and Zamora (day 28)

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.

25 Eto'o (Barcelona)
19 Forlán (Atlético Madrid)
19 Messi (Barcelona)
19 Villa (Valencia)
16 Negredo (Almería)

0,86 Víctor Valdés (Barcelona)
0,96 Palop (Sevilla)
1,11 Casillas (Real Madrid)
1,15 Toño (Racing Santander)
1,15 Roberto (Osasuna)

Friday 3 April 2009

Live Match Chat: Real Valladolid - FC Barcelona

(original post by OmarX)

Real Valladolid CF - FC Barcelona
(Saturday 4 April 2009 @ 20:00 barcelona time)

Chat Link:

Chat starts around 18:00 - 6:00 pm

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

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

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

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

- on the public chat the main language is English

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

See you there!

ReLive: Barcelona-Valladollid 6-0

Artist of the day: Jason Mraz

Last week, Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola went to see American singer-songwriter Jason Mraz in concert in the Razzmatazz nightclub in Barcelona.

Gorka dismisses Barcelona rumours

Asked about the rumours linking him with a move to Barcelona (read more here), Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz (28) has said to journalists that he's not thinking about this at the moment:

"Those are just rumours, paper news... I'm not worried about all that since you cannot control it.

A football player needs to be focused on and be happy with his job and what he does every day. That's the only thing that I'm thinking about right now."

Read more:
Who could replace Valdes?
A goalkeeper, a left back and a striker
Valdes calm about renewal talks

Watch a video of Gorka here:

Alves: "I miss Xavi and Iniesta during Brazil games"

Barcelona player Daniel Alves gave an interview to Spanish sports weekly paper Don Balón.

How did you feel when it was certain that you would be a Barcelona player?
It was a great feeling because it was already three years that I spent trying to leave to a "big" club and I wasn't able to. And when all that was needed was my signature, I still couldn't believe it. I only know that it was one of the most important decisions of my life and it was very correct.

Have you found many differences between Sevilla and Barcelona?
They're special cities and each one has their qualities. What I liked most about Sevilla was the care that the people would give you. In that aspect, it reminds me of Brazil. In return, what I like about Barcelona is that people are very sincere. If they're your friends, they're truly your friends. If they tell you something it's because they think it.

Sport wise, which team is better: the Sevilla that won five titles or the spectacular Barca of Guardiola?
Barca because of its quality and the big name players. Regardless, it's clear that we're still just starting. You can't argue against numbers, which is why you need to give time to this Barca and then you can finally make comparisons.

Would you agree that Barca is potentially the best team in the world right now?
In terms of players, there is no doubt. And also, because of difference. Many of the players are number one at their spots.

And is Messi the number one in the world?
To me, yes. Messi is the best in the world, but it's true that this condition must be shown with titles. That's why I think that's why picking Cristiano Ronaldo as the best in 2008 was deserved. Anyway, I'm sure that the recognition for Messi will happen soon because he's an impressive player.

Your connection with the Argentine on the right wing is quite something...
At Sevilla I already had a good partner in Jesus Navas, but even though he's a great player, we're talking about a player that still hasn't matured. With Messi, it's different. He's very mature, maybe because he debuted very young or because he's been playing important matches with the national team since young. Also, I repeat, he's the number one player in the world and it's easy to understand.

And leaving Messi aside, which player has surprised you?
I have to mention two players for making the sport simple and efficient. They're Xavi and Iniesta. I assure you that it's different when you're not working with them. Iniesta has great control of the ball and fantastic foot skills and Xavi is simply the ball's love. If you train with them you see that they're really spectacular. I miss them during qualification matches. To me, they're two important pieces to this team.

What can you tell me about Guardiola, your coach?
You can tell that the coach was once a player. He's an intelligent person, with a strong sense of conviction, and even if you need to gain his respect, he's another member of the group.

On a personal level, with who have you gotten along with the most this year?
I've always gotten along with everybody, but I probably have a better connection with Messi, Sylvinho, Pinto and Martin Caceres.

You recently said, about the rumors from Madrid, that if Messi or Iniesta went to Real Madrid it would be foolish. Can you explain that?
I think that these players will never leave Barca because of the respect they have for the club, and for the love they have for them. A player wants to be happy, feel wanted and play in a big team. They have it all, so why change it? And we're not talking about recent signings either, but about youth products who have built their life around Barcelona.

It's that simple to think?
Well, you can never say never in football. It's like that today and tomorrow you never know. Maybe it'll be the club that wants to transfer them. I always say that there are always other options than a main rival. I'll never play at Betis. If it were my last option, I would return to Brazil.

You've already told me that you'd never play for Betis. So you would also never play for Madrid?
No. There was a time that I had the chance to go to that club and it wasn't possible. It's past history and now I'm happy at Barcelona.

translated by al

This was the second part of the interview, you will be able to read the third and last part in the coming days. You can read the first part here:
Alves: "On the field I sometimes go overboard"

Read more:
Alves dismisses Chelsea and Madrid rumours
An evaluation of last year's transfer summer
Alves: "We're building a great team"

Barça Classic: Barcelona-Valladolid (february 1984)

watch more classic games here

Hleb not in Valladolid list

Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola announced earlier today a list of 18 players for the 29th league game against Valladolid tomorrow evening at 8:00 pm.

The list:
Valdés, Pinto,
Alves, Puyol, Piqué, Márquez, Cáceres, Sylvinho,
Xavi, Busquets, Keita, Gudjohnsen, Iniesta,
Messi, Eto'o, Bojan, Henry, Pedro

Hleb noticed some problems in his right thigh during this morning's training session and is left out as precaution. Touré, Abidal and Milito are injured. Puyol and Iniesta got the green light today and are available. Jorquera and Víctor Sánchez are not included in the list.

All international returned to Barcelona. Henry, Gudjohnsen, Busquets, Bojan, Piqué and Xavi trained yesterday, while Hleb, Messi and Cáceres joined in today. Alves couldn't make it for this morning's training session and will train on his own this afternoon. Barcelona Juvenil A players Alex Bolaños, Ilie and Jonathan dos Santos trained with the first team today.

Medical: Green light for Puyol and Iniesta

Barcelona players Carels Puyol (30) and Andrés iniesta (24) have received earlier today the green light from Barcelona's medical staff and will be available for the league game against Valladolid tomorrow.

The Catalan defender sprained his left ankle during the league game against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday 7 March and was then expected to be out for three weeks (read more
here). Iniesta on the other hand tore an adductor muscle in his right thigh during the league game against Málaga on Sunday 22 March and was expected to be out for two weeks (read more here).

Read more:
Medical: Toure out for two weeks
Medical: Milito could undergo new surgery
Medical: Abidal out for two months

Cesc is a future option for Barcelona

Asked about the rumours linking Arsenal midfielder and Spanish international Cesc Fàbregas (21) with a move to Barcelona (read more here), Barcelona president Joan Laporta told journalists that he would like to see the player return one day:

"I would be delighted to see him wearing the Barça shirt but the opinion of the coaches is decisive for our decisions. We know that it’s a player with great qualities who perfectly knows the style of Barcelona.

I think we already have the best midfield in the world but everything can be improved. It’s up to the coaches to make this decision, although I’m sure that he would adapt to our way of playing. At this moment I’m nevertheless not thinking about him wearing another shirt than the one he is wearing now. It’s a player who has been formed with us but who’s not comfortable at Arsenal and who has a contract there. It would be a lack of respect towards Arsenal to keep talking about a transfer."

British tabloid The Sun meanwhile claims that Barcelona is preparing a summer bid of around 50 million euro° to sign the Catalan midfielder, whose contract with Arsenal expires in 2014.

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis unconfirmedly told journalists earlier this week that Cesc will not leave the English Premier League club at the end of this season: "I can’t marry the stories that I read with the reality, which is that Cesc is extremely happy at Arsenal and totally committed to the club, and that’s every message that Arsene Wenger or I have ever received from him or his representatives.

I am very confident that Cesc is committed to the club. You never relax about any situation but we are very confident that this team will stay together, progress together and achieve success together. The young players that we have and the manager we have believe we are doing something very special here."

Read more:
Aguero, Cesc and Asenjo could join this summer
Cesc will make decision at the end of the season
Cesc rejects Madrid because of Barça dream

Poll result: Next season's left winger

This is the final result of the blog's Who's your favourite left winger for next season? poll:

48% franck ribery
23% david silva
16% thierry henry
6% andres iniesta
4% someone else
3% robin van persie

Read more:
Agent Ribery is pushing for a transfer
Possible new bid for Silva
Barcelona holding renewal talks with Henry

Pique: "The EPL and the Liga are equivalent"

Barcelona player Gerard Piqué gave an interview to catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo.

How do you deal with all the praising Barça is getting?
The problem is that when you then draw or lose a game, it seems like a catastrophe although that’s not the case. You have to continue the same way, with the same kind of football.

In Madrid they don’t stop talking about the pressure of Real Madrid. Does that affect you?
We’re just focusing on what we have to do, which is trying to win every game. We have now won three league games in a row and we played again like before, with a lot of speed, ball possession, pressure.

You understand what is going on at Real Madrid?
It’s understandable. If you’re a big club and you’re eliminated from the Copa and later from the Champions League, there’s some chaos and you have to look for solutions. Sometimes you then want to change things too drastically and too quickly. We’ll see what will happen until the end of the season. They now have only one competition left, so we will have to give everything we have to win the Liga.

What about the treble, is that possible?
Well it’s possible because we’re still competing for the three trophes. But we’re talking about something very complicated that Barça has never done in the 109 years the club exists. It’s a challenge for the team but it should be clear for the fans that it’s something very difficult.

Guardiola is the secret of the excellent season?
Guardiola has been very important because he has changed the ideas and the motivation to win. The team has adapted very well to that since the first day.

What do you think when you see Messi playing?
That in football there are still things that we didn’t see before. I see him doing new things every day. It’s a great player and a great person.

You’ve played with Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United and with Leo Messi both at the youth tems and now. Is there some similarity between the two of them?
If there is one, then it’s maybe that they’re playing the same position but they’re very different players. Cristiano Ronaldo is maybe a lot stronger, taller and physically more complete and that’s why he can score with the head, from a corner, from set pieces, but Messi is so decisive, so unstoppable that it’s a joy to see him play.

You’re the favourites in the Champions League quarter-finals against Bayern Munich?
No, no. Bayern is a very solid team, strong, like they were years ago. Ribéry has a lot of pace, Luca Toni can hold the ball well and score. I think it’s a very complete team and that it will be very complicated. And you shouldn’t forget that we play the second game away.

If you beat Bayern, you will play against Chelsea or Liverpool. I suppose that it would be special for you to return to England?
I don’t like to talk about hypotheses because we still have to play against Bayern but it’s true that it would be special to return to play in England. But I’m not thinking about it yet, first there’s Bayern.

Why is the English Premier League dominating in Europe?
Three or four years ago, a lot of investments were made and we see the result now. The clubs have more money and can sign better players, but I don’t think the Spanish league is far behind. I think both are at the same level.

You already pulled some joke in the national team?
I still haven’t. We’ll keep that for later.

Read more:
Pique: "If you need to prank, then you must prank"
Pique dedicates Spain goal to brother
An evaluation of last year's transfer summer

Barcelona reconsidering pre-season tour

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona is reconsidering the 2009-2010 pre-season. An official announcement is expected soon.

Barcelona had plans for a tour in the United States, playing games in Seattle, Los Angeles and Miami (read more
here), but this could change due to the withdrawal of the bid for an MLS team in Miami last month, the deals that has been signed to play friendly games in Asia and the Middle East and the club’s renewed focus on China and Japan.

Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola would also have asked to do the tour first and then start the real built-up to the new season. The pre-season calendar will anyhow not be definitely fixed before Barcelona knows if the team will have to play the Spanish and/or European super cup in the summer.

Read more:
Plans for new US tour confirmed
FCB Miami: Bid for MLS team withdrawn
Barcelona plans new US tour in 2009

Barça B: Edu Oriol (Sant Andreu) first transfer

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona has reached a deal with Sant Andreu forward Edu Oriol (22), who would become the first transfer of Barcelona Atlètic for next season.

Oriol, who joined third division club Sant Andreu last summer, had also received over the last week offers from Real Madrid and several second division clubs but has now decided to join Barcelona.

Read more:
Valladolid interested in Barcelona B player Botia
Barça B: Gai will get Spanish nationality soon
Barça B: Season over for goalkeeper Mino

Guardiola makes a joke on Hleb

Pep must be in a good mood today because he even tried to pull a joke on me. Yeah, yeah, yeah!
He told me that Hleb has scored a goal!!!
He's so funny!

(click the cartoon to enlarge)


see more cartoons here

[2008] Deal with Alves

this post was published exactly one year ago:

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona has come to an agreement with Sevilla right back defender Daniel Alves (24). The Brazilian international would sign a five-year contract and would receive three times the salary he's currently getting.

Barcelona will now have to negotiate with Sevilla. Alves, who thinks the time is right to leave for a European top club, hopes that Sevilla president José María del Nido will this time set a reasonable price. Last summer, Del Nido stated that the player, who has a buyout clause of 60 million euro, costs 35 million euro (°) for a foreign club and 40 million euro (°°) for a Spanish club.

Asked about the issue, José Rodríguez 'Rodri' Baster, the agent of the player, told in an interview with Spanish news agency Europa Press that he always refers interested clubs to Sevilla: "Once the two clubs have found an agreement, then they can start to negotiate with us. So, if you ask me if we have an agreement with Barcelona, the answer is no. And if you ask me if Sevilla and Barcelona have an agreement, I think not, because we didn't hear anything about that."

The agent, who says that Alves wants to keep making progress but that Sevilla president Del Nido holds the key, nevertheless admitted that there is mutual interest between Barcelona and Alves: "Barcelona has asked us if Dani Alves could sign for them if they find an agreement with Sevilla and we have said that if they do, we are ready to sit around the table and talk to them."

Meanwhile, Madrid sports tabloid As claims that Alves is, together with Ajax's Huntelaar and Werder Bremen's Diego, one of the three main demands for next season of Real Madrid manager Bernd Schuster. Madrid would be ready to offer Sevilla players like Júlio Baptista, Javier Saviola or Rúben de la Red in order to reduce the transfer price. Alves himself would have informed his manager, who apparently is offering the player to several European top clubs, that he prefers Madrid over Barcelona. Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo says that Barcelona will not enter a bid race for the Brazilian.

Read more 3 April 2008 news:
Ronaldinho agent met with Milan and Inter
Pique could return
Milan close to signing Zambrotta
Garay transfer is off
Can pay rise convince Henry?

Thursday 2 April 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 Valladolid on Saturday.

You put them in the right position, so using the 4-3-3 (or whatever you think they will play) and putting the players from the right to the left, so the right back defender is your first name after the goalkeeper. If your line-up isn't clear, my interpretation counts.

Don't forget to add your (nick)name by clicking Name/URL under the comment box and fill it in, otherwise your after-game claim to glory will be dismissed.

You can give your starting line-up until four hours before the start of the game, in this case: until 4:00 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 or if I decide so), you get one point for the correct line-up. If you do it after that announcement, you get half a point. Who will have the most points at the end of the season, can call himself the winner.

This is the 37th time this game is organized.




B. Beltrocco
mario ch

Dan R



Barca nike
Cali Socis


Cristi M
kamikaze kontiki
M4V3R1K's blog

Knives Out
blaugrana poland

Number of the day: 49,20


percentage of the total playing time in the league
that was played by Barcelona youth players so far this season

Who could replace Valdes?

Madrid sports tabloid As claims that Barcelona will try to sign Villarreal goalkeeper Diego López (27) if the club cannot reach a renewal agreement with Barcelona goalkeeper Víctor Valdés (27) this summer (read more here).

Barcelona would in that case sell the Catalan goalkeeper in the summer and use the money to buy Diego López who would have a buyout fee of 30 million euro° but who could leave for 20 million euro°.

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that there's a list of four candidates in case Valdés would leave the club at the end of the season: Villarreal goalkeeper Diego López (27 - contract until 2014 - buyout clause of 35 million euro°), Liverpool goalkeeper José Manuel Reina (26 contract until 2012), Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz (27 - contract until 2011 - buyout clause of 30 million euro°) and Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech (26 - contract until 2011).

This led some media to again quote an interview Cech gave to Czech news site Idnes at the end of 2007: "In London I miss only my friends from the Czech Republic, otherwise I have got used to the way of life and my wife and I like it. So far I have been very happy at Chelsea and I have started to love the Premier League. But in the case of Barcelona showing interest, yes, certainly it would be worth considering. "

Read more:
Villareal goalkeeper Diego Lopez tops wish list
Valdes calm about renewal talks
Barcelona speaking with Cech and Buffon

Barcelona returns to training

After four days off, Barcelona players Víctor Valdés, José Manuel Pinto, Albert Jorquera, Víctor Sánchez, Sylvinho, Rafael Márquez and Pedro started training again on Tuesday. Seydou Keita and Samuel Eto'o rejoined the group after international matches. The other players are expected to join in today or tomorrow.

Despite not yet having received the green light after his injury, Carles Puyol trained normally with the group over the last couple of days. Eric Abidal, Yaya Touré and Andrés Iniesta continued with their recovery. Abidal did on Tuesday the warming-up with the group, Touré joined in for a while on Wednesday.

On Tuesday Barcelona Juvenil A players Martín Montoya, Polaco and Jonathan dos Santas trained with the first team, on Wednesday Barcelona Atlètic winger Gai Assulin joined in.

Sylvinho: "There's no time to start dreaming"

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

You have already 15 years of elite football on the counter. Did you ever see a team like this Barça?
It’s one of the greatest and best teams. If I wouldn’t be playing here, I would say: “what an impressive team”, but since I’m part of it and aware that we depend on the results, I prefer to wait. Until now, I can say that it’s very similar to the two good years with Rijkaard because that team also was very aggressive, with a lot of pressure and technique. The basis is almost the same today.

When would you be satisfied at the end of this season?
If I wouldn’t be here, I would take a risk and say that we should win the three trophies but from within the club you cannot say that. When we lose two games, we will have to come out and answer questions about the mistakes we could have made. We’re living from game to game and there’s no time to start dreaming.

Agreed, but with which trophies you would be satisfied?
Although I've planned everything well, when I have two children and there’s a third one coming, I will be as happy. I prefer to go step by step. I don't give priority to any of the three trophies we’re competing for and we’re obviously going to try to win them all.

How are you looking forward to the tie with Bayern?
Physically, they’re very strong but I think we could take a good advantage in the first game at the Camp Nou. It will be a difficult tie but we’re going to have our chances to go through.

Let’s talk about you. You’re on the verge of turning 35 but you’re still in great shape. What’s the secret?
I think there are three things that allow me to be like this: genetics, taking care of myself and the psychological aspect. With the experience I’ve gained over the years, I’ve learnt not to give up when I don’t play a game. Before, I was angry for a week and my family had to deal with that. Now it only lasts for 24 hours. After a day, I change my mindset and start to prepare myself for the next game the best way I can.

Until now you’ve played a lot more in the Copa and the Champions League than in the Liga. How do you explain that?
At my age, being almost 35 years old, I’m not here to cause problems. Pep has to deal with a lot of things, it’s a big club and I cannot be a player of 22 years old who asks the coach for an explanation. For me, there is no explanation, just the fact that the coach has 22 players to choose from and he decides. I prepare myself the same way for a game in the Liga, the Copa and the Champions League.

Bojan said the other day that those who played the Copa could deserve more to play the final against Athletic Bilbao. You think the same way?
We all want to play every game, not only the cup final but also the next game against Valladolid. It will be the coach who decides who will play, but in the coming weeks we’re gonna play a lot of games so we’ll see how everyone feels when the final is there. I prefer not to play the final if that means we take the trophy home.

Apart from your professional attitude, you’re also sticking out for your role as an adviser within the team…
It’s something that comes naturally, although sometimes I’m too busy with it and it takes my energy away. But I like to help my teammates. I’m an observer and I always try to look for the right moment to talk. You shouldn’t forget that this is just like any other job, with people having the same problems.

So Piqué and Alves are the clowns while you’re the shrink…
I also like to joke around. It’s not that I’m acting as a psychologist, I just try to help the teammates discretely.

You have a very special relationship with Messi. There’s something about him that we still don’t know?
It’s a very intelligent and slick guy. He perfectly knows what’s going on and what the laws of the game are. Besides that, he can count on his whole family, which is basic for him and helps him a lot.

Read more:
Sylvinho doesn't exclude a renewal
Sylvinho: "You have to go flat out in every game"
Barcelona plans at least four summer transfers (1)

WAG: Iniesta uncovers girlfriend

On his official website that was launched earlier this week,
Barcelona player Andrés Iniesta reveals pictures from his girlfiend Anna.

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