During his press conference on Tuesday, FC Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova was adamant that the squad possesses quality players. He also hinted about incorporating some formation and tactical tweaks to include Fàbregas in the starting eleven. Vilanova also commented on Bojan, who is currently still a Roma player.
Tito began by talking about Alexis Sànchez and Cesc Fàbregas, who are both recent acquisitions to the squad having joined last season, and the new coach hoped that they will have an even better second season with the team. “Alexis is a very important player for us, the Club really pushed hard for him a year ago. He had a series of injuries that stopped him from having continuity but I’m convinced that his performance this year, even though last year’s was very good, will be even better.” He also added that Alexis’ injury impeded him from naturally growing into his responsibility at Barcelona, and that Alexis has lots of room to grow as he is still young.
For Fàbregas, the coach reserved very kind words, clearly aimed at boosting the player’s self-confidence after his Euro win this year. “Winning always lifts morale. His second year will be even better than his first. We saw that he’s more comfortable playing in a 3-4-3 system, he can also play as a false 9. I’ve known him since he was a child and I know that he’s very self-demanding.” Tito also hinted at the possibility of playing a 3-4-3 system, which the Barcelona team will be more familiar with this year.
Jordi Alba is the next player to receive great compliments from the gaffer. About this year’s star transfer to date, Tito underlined the importance of negotiating for him early. “We are very pleased with Jordi Alba’s signing, it was a priority. The fact that he had a brilliant Euro campaign makes us think that we didn’t make a mistake [in signing him].” Regarding Alba’s participation in the Olympics, the coach stated his concern about a lack of rest but gave his full support to the Spain national team.
For the best player in the world, Lionel Messi, it is not surprising that Tito hints at a hope that Messi will keep on improving, especially with Messi’s responsibility as the player pressing the opposition in their final third. “He’s doing great, he’s one of the players that takes physical conditioning very seriously, and now is the time to get in shape. He’s aware of the importance of the preseason. Each day he’s a more complete player, he helps the team on defence, he’s the first to start pressuring up high, and he can still improve.”
For the recently recovered Ibrahim Afellay and David Villa, Tito wanted to take things slowly with both of them. On Villa, Tito commented, “it has been a pleasant surprise. I saw him train before his holiday and it’s obvious that he’s worked and improved a lot. We all hope that he can recover as soon as possible, but we can’t rush his recovery, because the most important thing is his ability to play once he fully recovers.” Meanwhile, he had this to say about Afellay: “Afellay is a great player with a lot of quality, but he sustained a serious injury. We need to see how he is feeling during the preseason.”
Tito also paid tribute to Gerard Deulofeu, who just won the Euro U-19 with Spain this summer. “We’ve known him for years. He has a lot of potential and his style of play makes it very obvious. But we can’t rush the issue of his promotion [to the first team], his place is in Barça B and he needs to improve aspects of his play – it’s a question that only he can work on, it’s about his performances.” He gave a hint at the possibility of temporarily giving Deulofeu a rotation with the first team, and he basically expects Deulofeu to improve his teamwork. This sentiment is also shared by Zubizarreta, who played down talk of comparisons with Messi made by the media.
Lastly, he commented on Bojan Krkic, saying, “he’s a fantastic player, he was promoted when he was young. Whenever he’s been given the chance to play, he’s put the ball in the back of the net.” FC Barcelona still have the chance to buy back Bojan from AS Roma this season and the next.
Source: fcbarcelona.com; Image: REUTERS/Albert Gea