The final training session of the year took place this morning at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper. Able to work with the group today was Alexis Sánchez, who spent the last few sessions working separately on the sidelines. Also present were the players who participated in the friendly between Catalunya and Tunisia (0-0).
totalbarca writer Nossiter wrote eloquently on Thursday about the pitfalls of supporting a popular team, and there are signs that the Barcelona phenomenon is bleeding into more general Spanish culture outside of sporting competitions. Spanish tabloid Interviu published the results of a recent poll of young women in the country in which it was revealed that Pep Guardiola had been voted the most desirable Spanish man [despite being Catalan and married]. Guardiola beat out Real Madrid keeper Iker Casillas and actors Mario Casas and Miguel Silvestre. Somewhat surprisingly, however, Pep received more than double the votes of any of the other pretenders to this title.
So what do you say ladies [and or gentlemen]: a night with Pep or a night with Iker?
A PARTY WITHOUT GOALS
“La selecció” deserved more than what they got against a serious and tough rival
Cruyff’s team tried to win until the very last minute, but they were unlucky
36.500 fans vibrated in Mounjuic despite the cold weather
Catalunya 0 – 0 Tunisia
The 12 challenges for Messi’s Barça on 2012! The fifth Champions, the fourth Liga in a row and the fifth “Zamora” won by Valdés, among others
Leo is acclaimed and recognized in Rosario
It was a smaller group that gathered on Friday afternoon for Barça’s second training session of the day, with a number of the players absent to play with the Catalan national team. Missing were Valdés, Fontàs, Piqué, Busquets, Xavi, Cesc, Cuenca, Muniesa, Montoya, and Sergi Roberto, who had trained under Guardiola on Friday morning.
On the eve of his team’s match against Tunisia at the Lluis Companys Stadium, in Montjuïc, Johan Cruyff, Catalunya’s coach, appeared on Catalunya Radio to say that with over 30,000 tickets sold “the aim is to give a show so the people that come can have a good time,” and he thanked the gesture of the players who are willing to “come without pay as a treat, and all because they love their country.”
Catalunya vs. Tunisia
Friendly, Friday, December 30, 2011 at 19:00 (Convert to your local time)
Estadi Lluís Companys, Montjuïc, Barcelona (Capacity: 55,926)
In this year’s annual friendly match, Johan Cruyff’s side will face Tunisia this afternoon in Barcelona. Ten Barça players have been included in the squad: Víctor Valdés, Gerard Piqué, Andreu Fontàs, Cesc Fàbregas, Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernández, Isaac Cuenca, Sergi Roberto, Marc Muniesa, and Martín Montoya.
Links to watch the match can be found after the jump.
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Former FC Barcelona striker Thierry Henry will return to London club Arsenal FC, where he is counted as one of the legends, for a two-month spell in 2012. The English Premier club’s manager Arsene Wenger confirmed that the French striker will rejoin his former club on a loan-deal from New York Red Bulls. As the American Major League Soccer season goes on a break, Henry will arrive to strengthen the English club’s forward line which will be short of two strikers – Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh – who will be away on Africa Cup of Nations.
Barça held the first of two training sessions this Friday morning at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper. In the first session of the day, the coaching staff were able to work with the footballers called up to the Catalan national team, that will face Tunisia at 19:00 in Montjuïc.
Captain Carles Puyol, however, won’t take part in this afternoon’s game and spent this morning’s session working on the sidelines. Puyol has some discomfort in the adductor muscle of his left thigh and will be rested as a precaution. Also working this morning on the sidelines was Keita, as a precaution, as he is experiencing some discomfort in his left knee.
totalbarca brings to you a translation of an exclusive interview Johan Cruyff gave to Sport.es, which was published today. The original version can be found here.
Johan Cruyff never hides his feelings, be it good or bad. His thoughts are usually laced with a tinge of genius and his opinions are seen as commandments by many inside the club. A very close friend of Guardiola, a die-hard supporter of Laporta and the ‘alma mater’ of the Dream Team, Cruyff keeps on contributing his magisterial doses of football to those who still want to listen and learn from him a little of the twists and turns of the game we call football.
The statisticians over at OptaSports have released their own unique version of the 2011 Team of the Year. Their squad is based on the Opta Index which objectively measures a player’s performance in over 300 different areas. Opta team members have each spent at least 2500 minutes on the playing field from 1/1/2011 and 12/23/2011. And while FC Barcelona is well represented, some of the team members will likely surprise you. On the bench: Bruno, David Barral, Gabi, Joan Verdu, Roberto Soldado, Vicente Guaita and Xabi Alonso.
Stats & Image: OptaSports
THE CHAMPION IS BACK
A very intense beginning 0f the year 2012 with 12 matches played in 38 days waits for Guardiola’s team
Barça started the trainings again without Messi nor Alves
Half of Barça’s team will play today wearing Catalunya’s jersey
A sign to Barça. Neymar: “Before 2014 many things can happen”
In a recent article published in British paper the Daily Mail, writer Simon Jones explores the keys to Barcelona’s success at youth level, speaking with Barça’s director of youth, Jordi Mestre. The spotlight once again returns to the youth teams, specifically Juvenil A, as the quarterfinals of the NextGen tournament approach, with the blaugrana set to face Ajax.
Some excerpts from the article are after the jump. The original can be found here.
The first team returned to work this Thursday afternoon after almost a week off in which the players were able to enjoy the holiday break with their families. At today’s training session, Pep Guardiola had 15 players from his squad to work with, along with four players from Barça B –Cuenca, Muniesa, Sergi Roberto, and Montoya.
Speaking at the 6th Dubai International Sports conference yesterday, FC Barcelona’s president Sandro Rosell said UEFA’s proposed financial fair play regulations are needed to keep billionaire-funded clubs in check, and provide a level playing field for other clubs that are run as an association with an elected head.
Marca has today claimed that Oriol Romeu’s agent has made a statement quashing rumours of the player’s return to the Camp Nou this summer. While no official statement has come forth from FC Barcelona stating its desire to bring the former cantera player back, speculations about the club’s supposed intention were rife, with most reports citing Seydou Keita’s pending move, in his search for more playing time, as the reason.
Despite what common sense dictates, there are drawbacks to supporting a successful team. As Barca wins more trophies, so does it garner more fans, but in the process is diluted. The number of jersey sales increase, but the passion beneath those threads is dulled. Who are these unfamiliar faces in the pub with Messi emblazoned across their backs, huddled in front of the game? Where did they come from? The answer is twofold.
The first is human nature: these are what Americans call bandwagon fans. Can they really be blamed for being seduced by the Catalans’ beautiful play? Even in a country where football is played by men in helmets, it is impossible not to notice the joy with which Guardiola’s men play the game. These fans should be welcomed and educated, their budding interest cultivated.
New declarations from Mou after reading this news: “Guardiola chosen the man most desired by Spanish women”
Mou: “Why? … I don’t understand why … I don’t know if it’s the publicity from UNICEF … I don’t know if it’s the power from Villar in UEFA … I don’t know if he’s really nice … I don’t know … I don’t understand … Why? … I don’t understand why…”
GUARDIOLA THRASHES MOURINHO
FIFA will name Pep the best coach of 2011
Pep will continue one more season because he feels strong enough to and knows that the team is motivated
Mou will leave Madrid at the end of the current season if he doesn’t win any title
The most stay-at-home Christmas. Messi is spending his holidays in Argentina with his family
“Thinking that Pep could leave is terrifying”. Cruyff assures that “things would change” if Guardiola wasn’t the coach
FC Barcelona has today been named as Best Team of 2011 by the International Association of Sports Press (AIPS) after garnering 43% of the total votes submitted by 363 journalists from 80 countries, beating the likes of New Zealand’s rugby team, All Blacks, and the Brazilian national volleyball team.
NEXT YEAR’S BARÇA
1 – The greatest inversion will be in defence. Bale, Thiago Silva and Jordi Albà, possible options
2 – More “cantera”. Bartra, Sergi Roberto and Montoya will be in the first team
3 - Players who might leave. The club will not stop Keita nor Maxwell if they want to leave
Cruyff: “For Barça, Löw would be more dangerous than Mou as the Madrid coach”
MD report. Neymar already knows what he should improve to succeed in Barça
The following is a translation of Martí Pernanau’s latest article for Sport in the ‘La Ultima’ section. Martí, one of the most respected writers on Barça, opens a very interesting point in this article. Bits and pieces were added by totalBarça’s Hady.
‘Tiki-taka’ was a happy slogan that has, without a doubt, instilled a profound misunderstanding of the style of play that inspired it. The same occurs with some other tools of position play (as in the way positions are exchanged and moved on the pitch), which are commonly interpreted as causes when they are, actually and simply, effects. I am, here, referring to concepts such as possession and pressure, concepts that confirm to us daily that most are capable of observing the consequences, but very few see the causes of these actions.
“Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are truly exceptional players. But it all depends on how you view the game. The way I look at it, Xavi deserves it not because he’s the best, but because he’s the type of player whose hard work allows others to come to the fore.”
Barca legend Johan Cruyff explains why the FIFA Ballon d’Or should go to the Catalan club’s majestic midfielder, Xavi.
Dani Alves accompanied by Dinora at an event recognising his achievements at his hometown last year
FC Barcelona defender and Brazil international Dani Alves today confirmed that the stories surrounding his separation from his wife of three years, Dinora @ Dina Santana are true. The couple ended their marriage through mutual consent just over three months ago.