Despite assuring the media there are no problems between him and the club, Andrés Iniesta has yet to renew his contract, which expires in 2015. Barça have made the Spanish hero’s renewal their highest priority, but Iniesta has been seemingly quietly resistant, delaying the process. Now, Spanish papers are speculating that Iniesta will only renew if physical trainer Emili Ricart, who was let go from the club last summer, is rehired.
Luis García, a physical trainer and kinesiologist for the Argentine national team, arrived in Barcelona yesterday to begin Lionel Messi’s treatment. The Ballon d’Or holder is already beginning the first stages of the two-month recovery plan outlined yesterday, and García has flown over to personally supervise Messi’s recovery. Leo is expected to return to Argentina with García for rest and recuperation in early December, but the kinesiologist’s immediate flight to Barcelona to treat Messi in the meantime shows just how seriously both Barça and the Argentine national team are taking this injury.
The 2013-14 Copa del Rey draw was held this morning, and FC Barcelona have been matched against FC Cartagena for the Round of 32. Barça will face the third-division side in Cartagena first on December 7 or 8, and then at the Camp Nou on December 16.
Alexis Sanchez received his third yellow of the Champions League group stages yesterday against Milan for a foul on Philippe Mexès. By UEFA’s rules, Alexis will thus miss Barcelona’s match against Ajax. With Barça already qualified for the knockout stages, however, the Chilean’s absence will not be a huge loss for Gerardo Martino, and will allow Pedro Rodriguez some much-needed minutes.
FC Barcelona and Argentine international Javier Mascherano spoke to Italian paper Gazzetta dello Sport recently ahead of tonight’s clash against FC Barcelona’s erstwhile Italian rivals, AC Milan. Though his comments were brief, Mascherano was perceptive and sharp, as usual–read on below to see what El Jefecito had to say.
Jonathan Dos Santos underwent surgery on his right knee today, following the injury he suffered in training on October 23. The operation was carried about by doctors Joan Carles Monilau and Richard Pruna without any complications. Dos Santos is expected to be out for between six and seven months.
We at totalBarça wish Jonathan a successful and speedy recovery.
When Tata Martino arrived in Barcelona, he made it a point to change as little as possible. He refused to sign any players last-minute, he eased new-boy Neymar in slowly, and he spoke time and again in press conferences about preserving Barca’s style, adding in a return to basics. Two months into the season with a 12-4-0 record, Martino has grown more comfortable, more confident, and ready to make his imprint on the team.
It was a match of firsts. The first Clásico for Tata Martino, Carlo Ancelotti, Neymar, and Gareth Bale. The first time since 2009 that Messi had started a match of this magnitude on the right wing. The first of many Clásico goals for one Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. And for the first time in over a year, Barça got the better of their rivals in a Clásico .
Gerardo “Tata” Martino and Carlo “Eyebrows” Ancelotti are both set to make their Clásico debut tomorrow. But make no mistake, these two are no fresh-faced youngsters: while Mourinho and even Guardiola were fiery and excitable, both Tata and Carlo have exuded nothing but calm and experience since their arrivals in Spain. Both managers have a tremendous amount riding on this match, but they certainly didn’t show it. Read on to hear what they had to say to the fans and media.
Tomorrow’s match is sure to a cracker, an important first for Tata Martino, Neymar, Carlo Ancelotti, and Gareth Bale. But it also has the potential to be a clásico for the record books: In Liga Clasicos, Xavi and Puyol are set to become Barça’s most capped players, and a goal from Messi would tie him with Cesar for Barça’s top scorer. Not pictured, but even more importantly, a goal tomorrow would make Messi El Clásico’s all-time top scorer in all competitions – he is currently tied with Alfredo Di Stefano at 18 apiece.
Source: FC Barcelona
Jonathan Dos Santos hobbled off the training pitch yesterday afternoon after injuring the ACL of his right knee, in what could be a bad blow to the young midfielder’s career. The club’s official statement this evening revealed that Dos Santos will indeed need to undergo surgery on November 5, and that he will be out for approximately six months.
FC Barcelona defender and Spanish international Gerard Piqué is reportedly suffering from a thigh muscle strain, an injury picked up over the international break and likely exacerbated by playing 90 minutes against AC Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday night. Piqué trained on his own Thursday, and is expected to rejoin the group in training on Friday. Read on for the difficult decision left to head coach Gerardo ”Tata’ Martino.
FC Barcelona return from the international break with a difficult month ahead: Seven matches in just 22 days, including two games against AC Milan and next week’s Clásico. But while the media are building anticipation to the inevitable Neymar/Bale competition, Tata Martino is keeping his focus squarely on Osasuna.
Neymar gave an interview to Chinese sports magazine, Titan Sports, as Brazil traveled to China for their latest international friendly against Zambia. Some choice quotes from Barcelona’s newest superstar are below for your enjoyment.
Lionel Messi took another step towards full recovery this evening, as he trained with the rest of the squad for the first time since his injury against Almería. Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano were also among the eleven first team players that have not reported for international duty, and look poised to receive their medical green lights by the end of this week.
Barcelona had a training match today against Catalan club Sant Andreu while the majority of the team is away on international duty. Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano, both recovering from injury, were able to play a few minutes of the match.
This is great news, in addition to the reports on Tuesday that youngster Isaac Cuenca was able to train with the group for his first time since having knee surgery in June. Lionel Messi continues to train separately.
Jordi Alba, who has been recovering from a right hamstring injury for the last month, today picked up a similar injury on his left thigh while training. Alba is expected to be out for another six weeks, approximately, which would have him missing the Clásico and both Milan legs.
Another game without Lionel Messi, another dominant victory for Barça. Martino’s boys have been moving from strength to strength lately, while constantly adapting. Against Celtic and Almería they were comfortable defensively, absorbing pressure and then suffocating the opposition with possession, while against Ajax and Real Sociedad they ruthlessly exposed shaky defenses, as they did again last night. While it would hardly be fair to say that Barca are playing better without Messi and Javier Mascherano, the past two matches have allowed Barca to avoid becoming too dependent on either of the Argentines, be it for Leo’s goals or El Jefecito‘s counter-nullifying tackles. In their place, Neymar, Alexis Sánchez, and Marc Bartra have all stepped up confidently, and all three were outstanding last night. Barca’s attack was decentralized, free-flowing, and dangerous, while the defense was rock-solid, with Piqué composed and commanding in a more withdrawn sweeper role alongside Bartra.
At the time of writing, Marc Bartra has just finished what was by far his most impressive match in a Barcelona shirt yet, in his first start under Gerardo Tata Martino. The young Catalan defender recovered 13 loose balls (the most on the team), made 12/12 effective clearances, had four tackles and three interceptions and completed 71 out of 75 passes. He also got forward several times, his shot narrowly missing the near post after he delicately controlled a ball out of the air and strolled into the Almería box. This followed his performance and goal against Real Sociedad as a substitute on Wednesday.
Messi was substituted off with a thigh muscle injury early in the first half against Almeria today, and Catalan daily Sport is reporting that he could be out for two to three weeks. Messi will at the minimum miss upcoming matches against Celtic and Valladolid, after which comes the international break. Leo had planned to play for Argentina despite the Albiceleste having already qualified for the World Cup, but one would imagine that he will not be risked if he is still recovering from injury. Messi could miss Osasuna away on the 19th as well, but he should be healthy for Barça’s trip to the San Siro on the 22nd – or at the very worst, the Clásico that will take place the following weekend.
The FC Barcelona squad traveled to southern Spain Friday in anticipation of the following day’s match against newly promoted side UD Almería. After a hectic first nine games, Barça has what should be its first genuinely easy game of the season. While blaugrana has won its first six games handily – and is seeking a club-record seventh out of seven – Almería has yet to win a single match so far this season. That dismal record includes a 2-2 draw to Levante, a team which faced Barça already this season, a spectacular 7-0 demolition in Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s official debut. So while no La Liga match can ever be taken lightly, Tata has a good idea of how this one will go.
On Thursday, the first team, Barça B, and several younger players all trained together - notably, one among the group was Adrià Vilanova, the 16-year-old son of former Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova, currently recovering from cancer. Adrià plays as a central defender with Barça’s Juvenil B side – with Barça’s current defensive shortage, maybe he can make it into the first team before too long. I imagine Tito was quite proud to see his son training with the first team, and I hope all the players gave Adrià a big hug for the difficult year he and his family have had to endure. As always, totalBarça wishes all the best to the Vilanovas.
José Antonio Iniesta spoke up today in defense of his son, who has reportedly refused Barça’s first offer of a renewal, prompting panicked rumours of his departure and the Manchester clubs waiting in the wings. Papa Iniesta reminded everyone that Andrés has stated that he wants to retire at Barcelona, saying, “those who know Andrés, who has been at Barça for 18 years, will not doubt his words.”
Phew, I certainly hope so. Thanks, Dad!
Watch Messi leave Alves on the ground like an NFL running back and Alexis Sánchez stride around in hilarious, fabulous fashion. Good to see the team having fun in training!
Spanish media are reporting today that Jonathan Dos Santos has agreed to an emergency loan move to Real Sociedad. While the transfer season is officially over, FIFA allows clubs to petition to sign players on loan in the case of a long-term injury, such as the ACL tear Esteban Granero suffered last Tuesday against Shakhtar Donetsk which has left the Basque club understaffed in the midfield department. Dos Santos admitted that he was very close to making a move to La Real this summer, but Gerardo Martino trusted in him and with a few words encouraged him to stay. Martino’s general approach upon his arrival was that he didn’t want to rush into any decisions, and probably didn’t want to risk losing a squad player before getting to know his team.
Cesc Fàbregas, Martín Montoya, and Man of the Match Víctor Valdés stuck around after Saturday’s match against Rayo Vallecano to discuss the game. Read on below to see what they had to say.
Yesterday Barça traveled to Madrid to take on Rayo Vallecano. The home team came out determined to put on a show for their 11,000-full stadium, and took the game to Barça. They pressed high aggressively, double-teaming Barça’s dangerous players and going hard into every tackle. Barça looked disorganized and uncomfortable in the first half, and Tata Martino’s gestures on the sidelines indicated he was far from happy with the performance – but Rayo tired in the second half, and Barça quickly took advantage. Notably, for the first time since Frank Rijkaard, Barça had less possession than their opponent. On the one hand, this is a testament to the quality Rayo demonstrated on Saturday; on the other, a reminder that Tata Martino’s Barça will use whatever options necessary to win.