Thursday, July 31, 2008

Messi, heading to Peking

The striker will leave this Thursday evening for China from France. Before he will have travelled from Rome to Barcelona and then on to Paris.

As expected, after the resolution of the sole judge of FIFA’s Player Statute, Leo Messi left Rome airport this Thursday morning for Barcelona, where he will arrive in the early afternoon. A few hours later Messi will travel to Paris, from where he will take a flight this evening for Shanghai, to meet up with the Argentine Olympic team to play in the Peking Olympics.

Messi will go to China with Pepe Costa, member of FC Barcelona’s technical team, and will accompany him throughout his stay in Peking.

We would remind you that the club has sent an appeal to TAS to enable the Argentine to play the Champion’s League preliminary.

Xavi, aiming for goal

After being chosen as best player in the Eurocopa 2008, Xavi went back to wearing the Barça shirt. He did so complying with Guardiola’s new demands: touch the ball in the offences space and in front of goal.

During these first few pre-season weeks there has been a lot of talk about Pep Guardiola’s tactical work and the modifications he wants to incorporate. On Wednesday in Florenced (1-3), one of these nuances could be seen clearly, with Xavi playing more advanced and in a more attacking role.

Playing in the opponents space

The player himself, back playing with Barça after the Eurocopa 2008, explained after the game: “Guardiola has told me not to fall back in defence as much. He wants us to have possession in the opposing half. It’s all about playing as far up field as possible”. To be more precise, the manager has asked him, according to the player, to fill in the intermittent positions in front of the central defenders, but closer to the strikers.

“I feel more comfortable”

entreno260708_x6x.jpgThe Barça number ‘6’, although not finding many substantial differences from Rijkaard’s style, is very happy with this tactical variation: “Up front I feel more comfortable.” He is convinced that “I can do more playing further up field.” In fact in these attacking positions Xavi stood out against Fiorentina and had a couple of chances, with shots from the edge of the box, before Puyol scored. On these occasions Touré and Keita covered the midfielder from Terrassa’s back.

New ways of seeing football

Xavi Hernández realizes that “when there is a change of manager, things change” and doesn’t hide the fact that Pep Guardiola “wants tactical variations and we’re working on them”. In fact, during the days they were in Scotland it wasn’t strange to see them both talking about these aspects on the training ground. Despite everything, it is clear to him that “we are still adapting” and he reminds us of the importance of the physical aspect in this first stage of the season.

On the way to Chicago

After a short, successful trip to Florence, Barça are now on the way to Chicago to begin their tour USA 2008.

Early this morning, the Barcelona expedition had to travel to Bolonia airport, where flight EB4002, which will take the team to the city in the state of Michigan. The flight will take roughly 9 and a half hours. On this trip from Florence to Chicago, the Barcelona contingency has reduced its numbers. Apart from the already known absence of Messi, the director Albert Perrín and the technical secretary Txiki Begiristain won’t be going to the States either, they are going to Nion for the preliminary draw of the Champion’s League.

For his part, the president, Joan Laporta, will join the team on Sunday, before they play the game against Chivas de Guadalajara, in the ‘Soldier Field Stadium’

Therefore, the club’s representation falls temporarily into the hands of sporting vice-president Rafael Yuste and the director Jacint Borràs.

From Florence to Burkina Faso

Part of the money from the game in Florence will be used to help the XICS centre in Burkina Faso that the FC Barcelona Foundation is setting up in the country. The homage to Artemio Franchi had a clear aspect of solidarity.

The profits from the friendly match in Florence (3-3), organised jointly by the home team and the UEFA, will be shared out among ‘Fondazione Fiorentina Onlus, ‘Fondazione Artemio Franchi and the FC Barcelona Foundation. In total, according to the organisers, 768,125 euros were raised, from which the match organisation expenses still have to be paid.

In fact the majority of the money came from the sale of tickets (prices ranged from 14 to 90 euros), given that during the match there was no kind of commercial message, as the static publicity referred only to the social campaigns of the UEFA, Fiorentina and FC Barcelona. Bear in mind also that Barça received no economic compensation for their participation in this homage.

A centre in the city of Uagadugu

027.jpgIn the case of the FC Barcelona foundation, the money gained will go to the International Network of Solidarity Centres (XICS) centre that is being built in Burkina Faso, in the city of Uagadugu, the country’s capital. This is a emarginated zone where poor families live and with a high index of orphans and unschooled children. The project, which has been on the go for months, in collaboration with local entities and organisms, foresees supporting 100 vulnerable children of between 6 and 16 years old from the zone.

Money with a “tangible intention”

Lander Unzueta, general director of the FC Barcelona Foundation, was one of the club’s representatives in Florence, expressed his satisfaction with this initiative, which has had other precedents: “It’s the second or third time we’ve done it. At the Foundation we are working on repeating it later on.”

For Lander Inzueta, “It’s important that the money raised have a tangible intention. In this case it allows us to develop educational, health and co operational actions in Burkina Faso, using sport as a tool for integration for many of the children we will have in the centre.” In this case, in the next few months the centre will begin to operate, after the work done in the last few months by various NGOs and local entities.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Henry tops Barça scoring

In Thierry Henry’s first season at FC Barcelona, he is the side’s top scorer with 18 goals with one game yet to play.

After eight seasons with Arsenal, Henry had to adapt to a new team in a new country, and a new way of playing in which he was often required to play in unfamiliar positions. It was quite some challenge for a player who was used to playing in a team that was built around him.

But with one game left to play, the French striker is Barça’s top scorer with 18 goals: 11 in the League, 3 in the Champions League and 4 in the Cup.

Important league goals

fcb-osasuna-henry.jpgHenry’s first seven league goals were also important in securing five wins. He opened his account in style with a hat trick against Levante to secure three points. He then scored three at the Camp Nou to open the scoring in winning performances against Almería, Betis and Racing. His next was at Zaragoza and was the equaliser in game where the comeback was sealed with a Ronaldinho goal.

And in the cup too

It was in the Copa del Rey where he really came into his own. He scored his first goal in the competition to open the scoring against Alcoyano, and then scored a cracker in the next round against Sevilla, the only one of the two legs and which meant Barça were into the last eight. The story repeated itself against Villarreal in the next round where he scored the only goal of the tie to go into the semi finals, where once again he was on target with a headed goal against Valencia, which sadly was not enough to send Barça into the final.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Arsenal boss Wenger won't rule out Henry return

Arsene Wenger won't rule out re-signing Barcelona striker Thierry Henry.

The Arsenal manager said: "In our situation you can never say never. He only left last year and Thierry is disappointed because things haven't gone as well as he would have liked."

"I had a chat with him not long ago," said Wenger. "He watches every Arsenal game and I watch Barcelona when I can because I'm interested to see how he looks, whether he has found his sharpness and what position he is playing. I gave him my view about his game.

"Thierry is an efficient goalscorer but they have two or three players in there. His success has been damaged a little because Ronaldinho has not turned up this year and Thierry was the one who could play left wing. That's where he has played but that's not his preferred position or where he is most efficient.

"The whole team didn't work at Barcelona. They have never been in the race for the championship. Then every player gets a little bit devalued. But he still has a lot to offer as a player. Things change quickly when you have talent and he has plenty. My interpretation is that he is happy in Barcelona and will prove he is one of their better players."

Márquez: "This is the team that all we want"

Rafa Márquez was delighted with the attitude and character shown by FC Barcelona in their Champions League semi final first leg against Manchester United on Wednesday. "This is the team that we all want to see," he said.

The Blaugrana trained on Thursday morning to recover and the Mexican international attended the press conference to reflect on the game from the previous night. "I am happy about the performance," Márquez explained. "Whoever did not go home happy did not see the game. All the players gave everything they could. In reality it was a question of character and effort and we did well."

Maintaining form

With the tie now carefully balanced, Márquez saw no reason why Barça cannot go to Old Trafford next week and qualify. "If we manage to play like that and to maintain that level then we can earn a good result," he stated. When asked why the team had not been able to play like that at other decisive moments in the season, Márquez pointed to the injury list that Frank Rijkaard had to deal with. "There is nothing that we can do about that now though and we just have to look forward. All we should be thinking about is how to play at the same level as we did against United."

Confident view

The only thing that Barcelona were missing from the match against United was a goal and Márquez admitted that he regretted that the team could not find a way past Edwin Van der Sar, but sought positives in the Blaugrana's clean sheet. "To not have conceded a goal has its advantages. After all, the only thing that was missing from our game was a goal. We have plenty of chances and just needed a bit more luck. I am confident that we can obtain a good result at Old Trafford."

Surprise tactics

Márquez then admitted that he was surprised by Manchester United's defensive display because he had been expecting the visitors to use all their forwards to really test Barça. "Manchester United are a team of great quality and it surprised me a lot that put so many players behind the ball and did not look to go forward more," he said. "After seeing their team line-up I thought that they would come at us, but it was completely the opposite. It was better for us that way."

A different approach

After the negative outlook in Camp Nou, Márquez believes that the Red Devils will be very different in the second game. "In England we will see a very different Manchester United," he continued. "They will come out to put pressure on us and try to not let us play. Also, their fans being behind them will help them."