The following is a translation of Johan Cruyff’s weekly article in ‘El Periodico’. The original can be found here.
Johan Cruyff’s key points.
Madrid’s problem is neither the calendar nor that they are playing earlier or later than Barca. Their problem is that they are running more than necessary, and the players end up exhausted.
Two matches a week, a dynamic in which Barca comes off better than Madrid. So where is the difference? It is in the way how the two teams are playing, and not so much about the line-up. Where Barca dominates and sets the rhythm thanks to its possession game, Madrid wears considerably more because it is always, always, trying to recover the ball far from its opponent’s area. And that means having to cover more kilometers by running, and with a lot more pace, both going forwards and backwards – to attack, and if that’s unsuccessful, having to defend.
After the victory against Mallorca, Josep Guardiola gave his players a day off on Sunday but 13 first team players turned up at the training centre yesterday to either work out or undergo treatment. This action on part of the players may have to do with the fact that the team has three matches – against Valencia, Zaragoza and Arsenal – to play in a week. Preparation for the next game against Valencia was to start on Monday, but Bojan, Maxwell, Abidal, Adriano, Mascherano, Keita, Milito, Pedro and Dani Alves came for a voluntary training session at Ciutat Esportiva on Sunday. Pedro and Adriano received treatment and did recovery work, while the injured Puyol, Jeffren and Valdés also did some recovery work. The good news was that for the first time since being injured Barca’s midfield maestro, Xavi, trained a bit on the pitch.
“I have changed nothing, my style of play is still that of a child. I know that above all it is my job and that I should approach it in another way, but one must not lose sight of the fact that football is a game. It is imperative one plays to amuse oneself, to be happy. That is what children do and I do the same thing.”
Today, when FC Barcelona players gather for their first training session in preparation of the upcoming match against Valencia, they will be seen in new training clothes featuring the logo of Qatar Foundation, the club’s shirt sponsor from next season onwards. FC Barcelona had signed a deal on Dec 13, 2010, which goes in full effect on July 1, 2011, with the non-governmental charity organisation that saw the club get 30 million Euros each season until June 30, 2016. The deal included 15 million Euros for the commercial rights of the current season and so the change in the training kit.
Arsenal striker Robin van Persie is in doubt for Arsenal’s trip to the Camp Nou in just over a week’s time, as he hobbled off the field after 71 minutes in Sunday’s Carling Cup final defeat to Birmingham City with an apparent knee problem. Details on the injury have yet to be announced on the English club’s official site, but Arsenal’s French coach Arsene Wenger noted, “He is injured. I don’t know for how long.” Wenger added that the Dutch player sustained it while scoring Arsenal’s sole goal in the match.
8 – 2
Messi has scored 8 goals in the seven last matches and CR7 only 2.
Messi’s goals have given Barça five points and Madrid notices the Portuguese’s lack of goals.
Arsenal lost the Carling and maybe Van Persie too.
Mourinho’s words, all smoke and mirrors. El Mundo Deportivo spoils Mou’s complaints about the schedule.
THERE IS A CHAMPION…
Barça has six more points than the last season, when Barça and Madrid had the same points.
Messi, greater than ever, leads the excellence of the performance by Guardiola’s team
…AND A SIMPLE CONTENDER
Mourinho’s Madrid has a point less than Pellegrini’s
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored only two goals in 7 matches.
Xavi, OK against Valencia.
Today they start to wear the Qatar logo.
Handball Barça wins La Copa del Rey.
We received a message from one of our avid readers, Erich, after the Arsenal defeat:
I’m a regular reader and poster on your fantastic blog. After the draw in Gijon and the defeat to Arsenal, the alarm bells are ringing all over Culé-Land. Not much different here in Vienna, Austria. But is it justified? Shouldn’t we have more faith in that team? Wasn’t it to be expected that the month of February will be (again) difficult? …
Erich attached an Excel file with some interesting statistics for the past two and a half seasons. I edited few numbers and added the statistics from the past two games against Bilbao and Mallorca.
Lionel Messi won the Man of the Match poll again, but ‘The Team’ performance is worth a mention too. Allas has made a video that takes a closer look at Barcelona’s system. The passing, the movements, the pressing, creating space for other teammates, winning the ball back quickly and in the end a goal – an icing on the cake!
Enjoy the video after the jump!
Top, Keita setting Messi up, and below, Busquets' throughball for Villa
UPDATED. We deeply apologise for a mistake in attributing the images above. The images were published by Catalan sports paper ‘Sport.es’ and not ‘AS’. In light of this, we have removed the header which states “AS made up for their “mistake”‘. Gratitude has to be given to haddoya for highlighting this mistake.
Again, we here are not too obsessed with what the papers say but one thing we don’t want to do is vilify anyone unnecessarily. A few days ago Madrid based paper AS was “caught” publishing an image that hurts their journalistic integrity. Credit to them they apologised wholeheartedly,
and today, they’ve gone one step further but today ‘Sport.es’ made a pre-emptive step in publishing two images that showed the two borderline decisions that went in favour of Barca are correct.
Pep Guardiola was obviously elated with the performances of his players after his team once again managed to overcome a difficult opponent away from home, in a match missing four of his regular starters.
Reserving the best accolade for 31-years-old midfielder Seydou Keita, the coach said, “Those that didn’t get to play have to endure, of course, but they know their responsibility, and that we have all the confidence in them. I try to make them understand that it is necessary for them to train hard, and that there will always be opportunities for them, but if everyone behaves like Keita everything will be easier. Today, along with Andres, it was Keita who won us the match, and they played a superb game. He’s always there when we need him, and that’s why I’m happy for him.”
Week 25, and Football Club Barcelona found themselves in an unfamiliar position. We were starved of three of our most important figures. Carles Puyol, our captain, our second choice captain and our metronome, Xavi Hernandez, and our number one goalkeeper, and third choice captain, Victor Valdes were all injured. To top all of that, Dani Alves, our speedy, right back, and one of the best, if not the best right back in the world was suspended after having picked up five yellow cards in the league. Questions and doubts were being raised throughout the football globe; everyone wondered if we could get through a tricky trip to face Real Mallorca. Like always, our boys responded brilliantly…
There is more than a month to go before FC Barcelona take on Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final, but every few days the media reminds us about this special event. This Thursday, it was revealed that FC Barcelona fans will be seated in the north end of Valencia’s Mestalla stadium, which will host the final on April 20. Interestingly, it is the same area the Catalan club was assigned two years ago for the King’s Cup final between FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao, which Barcelona won 1-4. The Barça fan zone will be located in the Polytechnic University area, which is the closest when entering Valencia from Barcelona. Will the assignment of this area deliver a favourable result for Culés again?
Andrés will wear the bracelet due to Puyol’s and Valdés’ unavailability to play.
Barça, with four “missing” players, must win a vital match for La Liga.
Guardiola: “We are obliged to win with the players we have“
Ten goals left. Messi, to break the mythical Samitier’s goal record.
Wenger will force Walcott to play in Camp Nou.
HIGH TENSION NIGHT
Barça must win in Mallorca
The four starter players not being able to play due to injury “are not an excuse“, according to Guardiola, to not trying to win against Laudrup’s team.
Mallorca – Barça (20h)
Madrid risk their position in Riazor. Mourinho is back to a stadium where he is awaited for revenge.
Pep and Mou, face to face. Mutual praises between them. Guardiola points out Mourinho’s prestige and the last emphasizes the catalan’s success.