“I’m really happy, lively, content, and eager. I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and keen to enjoy football again from within.”
It has been over three months since David Villa underwent surgery for a fracture of his left tibia. At an event hosted by the Association of Spanish Footballers, the Spain international and FC Barcelona striker said he was working hard on his recovery and is optimistic he will be back in action sooner than expected.
Athletic Bilbao enter Saturday’s La Liga meeting with Barcelona as the toast of Europe, the darlings of the football world, the eradicators of Manchester United from continental play. Managed by the loco Marcelo Bielsa, Athletic play at a frenetic pace, opting to man-mark opponents every which way across the pitch, unafraid to key attacks with versatile, running defenders. It’s a style as unique today as it is tactically demanding, a style that can lead to open affairs defined not by end-to-end shot festivals but by each player on the pitch playing both ways.
It’s a style that, when clashing with the fluidity of Barça’s modus operandi, creates one hell of a spectacle.
4 EXTREME HOURS
Barça has the chance to be only 3 or 4 points behind Madrid today
Big match at Camp Nou
Messi will have a surprise party to celebrate his record before the match
Pep was thinking about making some rotations but Cesc might not play because of muscular discomforts
Madrid will play in a jinxed stadium for them. Mourinho attacked again Barça speaking about the matches’ schedule and the press as well due to his “silence law”
Madrid – Osasuna (20h)
Barça – Athletic (22h)
The socis will decide about the new Camp Nou issue
A NIGHT TO MAKE A COMEBACK
Barça could step up and be only 3 points behind Madrid, which play in Osasuna
Guardiola could rest Xavi and make Alves and Cesc play
Pep doesn’t rely on Athletic’s tiredness: “They’re Europe’s sensation”
Abidal will undergo surgery on April 10th
Messi’s party. Today, tribute to Leo for breaking César’s record. Surprise included
Osasuna – Madrid (20h)
Barça – Athletic (22h)
Speaking at a press conference before the League game against Athletic Bilbao, Josep Guardiola had words of praise for the opponent team. “Athletic is a sensation of Europe and deserves admiration from the whole world,” said Pep. Guardiola talked a lot about football and Saturday’s opponents, more than about his future, polemics from Madrid, Mourinho, or Milan. The Barcelona coach once again underlined his great respect for Marcelo Bielsa and his team.
This is your chance to prove not only your knowledge about the game of football, but also your psychological insight by cracking the code of Barcelona coach Josep ‘Pep’ Guardiola’s master brain:
Predict Barcelona’s Starting Lineup
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. Line-ups posted in the comments sections will not be considered as valid entries for the game.
Join us after the jump to take part in the game.
FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi’s name will temporarily adorn a station in the London Underground, as part of a special promotion for the Summer Olympic Games. Messi is among 361 olympic athletes who will have stations named after them for the duration of the games, slated to begin in late July. Messi led the Argentine squad to a gold medal in the 2008 games in Beijing; he is joined in this commemoration by current and former Barcelona stars Javier Mascherano and Samuel Eto’o.
Pep Guardiola’s 4-3-3, the progeny of Total Football, Johan Cruijff and Guardiola’s own machinations, saw to the absolute thrashing of Manchester United in last season’s Champions League final, maddening Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad with untold fluidity and roles seemingly filled by positional ideals. But, favouring evolution above all else, above even a shape responsible for a historic season and the masterclass of its culmination, Guardiola used the return of Barcelona youth product Cesc Fàbregas not to fortify his midfield but to, as the neologism goes, embiggen it, embracing a new 3-4-3 and various exotics featuring a three-man back-line.
In the Spanish Liga, the season’s most prolific goal scorer is rewarded with the title of Pichichi, an award named after Athletic Bilbao star Rafael Moreno Pichichi. Heading into matchday 31, FC Barcelona attacker Lionel Messi is deadlocked with Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo on 35 goals each. Looking at the table, a few notable details jump out at me. First, look at third place! An amazing 16 goals separate Messi and Ronaldo from Falcao who currently sits in third. Second, Real Madrid strikers occupy three of the top five spots on this list. That’a a potent attack. Finally, 10 of Ronaldo’s goals have come from the penalty spot, as opposed to only three for Messi.
With less than ten rounds remaining in this competition, all of us here at totalBarca wish both competitors luck: may the best man win [as long as he is short…and from Argentina.]
Are you ready for another Crackòvia episode? Some say that when you are playing a sport, one of the most important factors of your success is to have a good coach. Today Guardiola and Mourinho will answer some very important questions about their own styles. Click “continue reading” to enjoy the video.
FC Barcelona’s first team, accustomed to exercising at the Ciutat Esportiva the day after a match, have this Thursday altered their usual routine by training at the Centro Sportivo Giacinto Facchetti, part of Inter Milan’s training base. The Club arranged this measure in anticipation of the general strike throughout Spain today (March 29). The team will return to Barcelona on Friday.
Looking historically, Wednesday’s result in Italy should be reason for optimism. Until you start to look deeper. Here are a few facts to digest. Out of 22 ties in the Champions League that have ended at 0-0 in the first leg, the home team in the second leg has progressed in the competition 68% of the time. For their part, FC Barcelona have not draw against the same opponent two consecutive times since the 08-09 matches against Chelsea. They have also progressed on the three previous occasions that they have produced 0-0 away draws. However, Milan are one of the only teams with a 100% record in cases like this: on the three previous occasions that they have drawn the first leg at home 0-0, they have always gone on to defeat their rival.
Stats: OptaSports, @pedritonumeros, @laligaennumeros & @2010misterchip • Image: Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Images