FC Barcelona manager Luis Enrique underlined during the usual prematch press conference that game 3 of the Champions League won’t be an easy match. “We will have to produce a complete performance to beat Ajax, a team of many strengths. Ajax are a well-structured side, one that knows how to attack, how to press. Last season they created many problems for Barcelona.” said the coach. He had more words of praise for tonight’s opponent and underlined that “Ajax’s positional play is very good. They can play short and long passes and they find solutions in all areas. They press in defence − they don’t hesitate − and counterattack really well.”
FC Barcelona captain Xavi Hernández underlined after the 3-0 victory against Eibar. “I’m very satisfied. It was a good game overall. It was hard work to start with, but the first goal made it easier and we ended up enjoying ourselves.”
Xavi also said that he is looking forward to Tuesday’s game against Ajax, which could be decisive: “After the slip up in Paris, we have to take the three points.”
“We always aim to get three points but although people take it as given that we’ll always win, today showed that that’s not the case,” said FC Barcelona captain Andrés Iniesta commenting on the first draw of league season, which until the game against Málaga has been the perfect ride. “We should look on it as one point more and move on … Football is always about two teams, We tried to get the ball moving fast to gain superiority but they were very tight at the back. We tried to change our approach but we just couldn’t score.”
He stressed that the team “tried to find solutions, but there was just no way,” and what’s more, Iniesta added,“We’ll face this kind of situation again, and it’s up to us to find success against them. We’ll keep trying. It’s never easy to attack against an eleven-man defense, and we saw that today.”
Good news from the FC Barcelona medical staff. Thomas Vermaelen, who injured his right hamstring during the World Cup in June, was today given the medical all-clear. The Belgian has been one of the additions to the club this summer, but due to medical conditions he is still waiting for his official debut with the first team. He did, however, play some minutes and scored a goal with Barça B Wednesday against U-19 Indonesia team.
”Thank God I’ve got my first goal at last.” Ivan Rakitić admitted that team mates “were starting to tease me about it. But the most important thing is to help the team.” Jordi Alba stated, “Last season wasn’t very good, either for me or for the team. After the World Cup and Luis Enrique’s arrival, we were more motivated and we’re working much harder. It’s been some time since we’ve all been so happy.” Take a look at what Rakitić, Alba and Sandro Ramírez had to say in the post-match reactions right after the jump.
On Monday, Carles Puyol, FC Barcelona’s former captain, appeared at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper. It was his first day on the job as assistant director of sport. Henceforth, Puyol will be working closely with Andoni Zubizarreta. Puyol was shown around the offices and introduced to the other members of the department.
With the first La Liga match of the season for FC Barcelona, the players are also back to giving their post-match comments in the Zona Mixta of the Camp Nou. Dani Alves underlined that “the team has taken on board what Luis Enrique wants and that’s important for our progress. If we put it all into practice, the wins will come. Things are in our grasp, so we’re all happy.” Speaking about a young teammate who not only had his first team debut but also scored a goal, Alves noted that “we have to look after Munir because he’s got a great future ahead of him. He’s humble, but hard work is getting him what he deserves. It’s a pleasure to have him in the team.” Read on for comments from Ivan Rakitić and Marc Bartra.
FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu speaking at 35th Congrés Mundial de Penyes [Supporters' Clubs World Conference] held at the Palau de Congressos de Catalunya yesterday, underlined the value of fulfilled promises. “At the end of last season I promised publicly to begin a profound transformation of the football team and the club and we have done this,” he said.
Bartomeu praised the new coach saying, “Our most important signing this year is Luis Enrique. He brings passion and leadership and sacrifice. He’s a real hard worker and we are expecting great things from him. He has the utmost enthusiasm and always transmits it.”
FC Barcelona midfielder Andrés Iniesta (30) underlined in a recent interview that captaining games is a thing to enjoy and that the moments “make you feel happy and proud.” As a former La Masia wonderkid and long time first team member, Iniesta values the privilege of wearing the captain armband. “For people who have been at home here for a long time and have been part of the grassroots here, being captain of the first team has always been in your dreams.”
FC Barcelona began preparing for the approaching 2014-15 season this morning with player medical tests and analyses. First teamers Marc-André Ter Stegen, Jordi Masip, Martín Montoya, Marc Bartra, Adriano Correia, Sergi Roberto, Rafinha Alcântara, Gerard Deulofeu, Ibrahim Afellay, Cristian Tello and Bojan Krkić were joined at the Ciutat Esportiva by players from the reserves team including Patric, Edgar Ie, Frank Bagnack, Diagne, Álex Grimaldo, Sergi Samper, Alen Halilovic, Munir El Haddadi, Sandro Ramirez, Dani Nieto, Joan Roman, Jean-Marie Dongou and Adama Traoré. Click for more details.
Here’s a collection of Gerard Piqué’s finest moments for last season.
Video: Barca.am / Youtube.com
As FC Barcelona announced via it’s official website, the Catalan club and Chelsea FC have reached an agreement for the transfer of player Cesc Fàbregas. The 27-year-old player has joined the English club on a five-year contract and will wear the no. 4 shirt. As official Chelsea FC website informs, Fàbregas said: ‘Firstly I would like to thank everyone at FC Barcelona where I enjoyed three wonderful years. It was my childhood club and I will always be proud and honoured that I had a chance to play for such a great team. I do feel that I have unfinished business in the Premier League and now is the right time to return. I considered all the other offers very carefully and I firmly believe that Chelsea is the best choice. They match my footballing ambitions with their hunger and desire to win trophies. They have an amazing squad of players and an incredible manager. I am fully committed to this team and I can’t wait to start playing.”
The Catalan club expressed its gratitude for Cesc by publishing the following thank-you lines within the statement. “FC Barcelona wishes to publicly thank Cesc Fàbregas for his professionalism and dedication during his years at the club, which will always be his home, and to wish him all the very best for the future.”
The deal is said (Guillem Balague) to be for 33 million euros which will increase depending on variables.
FC Barcelona first team coach Luis Enrique visits the Ciutat Esportiva consistently to work with his staff on preparing for next season. Yesterday Claudio Chaves photographed Luis Enrique jumping over the fence at the Ciutat Esportiva, and today a similar photograph was taken by Pep Morata at the Barça facilities. Hopefully the coach will transfer some of his energy to the team in the upcoming season.
“I am aware of the responsibility and the difficulty of the job, but I can’t wait to hear the Barça anthem and enjoy the feeling,” said Luis Enrique Martínez who was officially presented today as the new FC Barcelona first team coach. “This is a very special day. We are beginning the building of a new, exciting Barça,” he underlined, continuing to explain his plan: “my team will attack, we’ll play attractive and effective football – the kind of football that millions across the world have come to love – which means we need to defend well too. I’ll be laying out my plans to the players and talking to them so that they take them on board as their own. I don’t think I’ll need to impose very much and bark out orders, we’re in this together, though I’ll be demanding hard work.” So in general terms “the idea will stay the same, but we have to evolve, improve, so we can surprise the opponent.” Luis Enrique also added that, “If you want to defend, there’s nothing better than having the ball. And if you have it on the opponent’s half, even better.”
Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino, who announced his stepping down as FC Barcelona boss in the post-match press conference, spoke briefly about his time in Catalonia. “I thank the club for everything it has given me, I thank President Bartomeu, football director Zubizarreta and Sandro Rosell for having confidence in me.” He also had some words for the supporters. “I also thank the fans for their respect, and I thank everyone that worked with me and my staff, and I especially thank the players.”
“I profoundly lament the fact that I was not able to help the players to achieve the objectives of the club. We tried with dignity. I congratulate Atlético Madrid because they were our great rival this season, they did a fantastic job and I’m certain they will continue to do well.”
During this Friday’s press conference, FC Barcelona manager Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino mentioned that “this would be the first title for this team as normal people, with suffering, fighting, debates. The other titles were those of extra-terrestrials. I would like a lot to win the title for the effort the players have put in.”
He went on to say that “this team has had the best history in the entire history of football. [But] this season has been inconsistent, with ups and down, without giving the best impression of Barcelona. These games do not have a clear favourite. I would say the chances are exactly equal.” More from Tata after the jump.