Barça defender Gerard Piqué had a lot to say during the presentation of the tenth edition of ‘Relats Solidaris de l’Esport (Sports Solidarity Stories).’ He spoke about the up and downs of the current season, Lionel Messi, Cesc Fàbregas and Tata Martino. Read on for Piqué’s comments.
FC Barcelona’s losing streak finally came to an end yesterday after a difficult 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao. The team had to come from behind after a goal from Aritz Aduriz, but late strikes from Pedro Rodríguez and Lionel Messi secured an important win for the Catalans. Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino was happy with the team’s reaction and spirit after a depressing week, saying “the circumstances weren’t in our favour but we came from behind and won.” More after the jump.
Marc Bartra was the post-match guest on Barça TV’s ‘El Marcador’ after the 2-1 home win against Athletic Bilbao. The young defender, who partnered Javier Mascherano in Sunday’s home win, still believes that FC Barcelona can win the league title. “The win means we still have hope.” He also added, “I am happy and proud of my colleagues. From where we were, it wasn’t easy to turn that game around.” More from Bartra after the jump.
Yesterday evening club president Josep Maria Bartomeu came out strongly to Lionel Messi’s defense. Amidst papers manufacturing rumors regarding the Argentine’s possible departure, Bartomeu has hopefully put them to bed. Speaking with TV3, he also made some interesting but not detailed comments about what to expect next season.
During the Copa loss to Real Madrid, Neymar Jr. suffered an injury that caused an edema in his right foot. In an interview with Globo TV, Neymar said that he had the injury for a while and just worsened it in the Copa final. “It was an inflation that I had already had for some time. It got worse after I played. It was injured enough that I walked with difficulty after the game… I knew it would be a medium long period (that he would be out), but always with a little fear, first to be out, which I do not like at all in any form, and then, of course, for the World Cup. But within three weeks I’ll return and I hope to play Barça’s last match (this season).”
“The team is giving up? Absolutely not. We all felt the pain of the last weeks, a blow every third day, but it can still happen that those ahead of us have a result that favor us and we have the obligation to continue competing.” It’s business as usual from Gerardo Martino, and frankly, what else do you expect? I have seen comments begrudging the manner Martino speaks before games, saying it’s always the same positive, time to move forward rhetoric over and over. Well, what is it exactly you’d like him to say? Should he say, “I don’t care, my job’s probably not going to continue anyway, so yeah, I’m not really bothered.” How about, “I barely have any fit players, and many of them are struggling with form, so who knows what’s going to happen? I’m not a prophet.” Would that be preferable? Managers can only say so much, there’s also only so much to be said, and if anything, one of Martino’s faults is his honesty and candor. It’s not actually a fault, but in the vicious, unforgiving world of elite sport, those attributes are preyed upon by the vultures.
And Martino is absolutely right, FC Barcelona are four points from leaders Atlético. From the fatalism aplenty, one would think Barça trail by some insurmountable margin. Four points is a two game swing, one against leaders Atleti. There are five matches left and both teams who currently usurp Barcelona have a pair of very taxing midweek matches on their plates. It’s reasonably common for sides to drop points the weekend following such physically and mentally exhausting Champions League battles. Nobody’s saying it will be easy, some fortune is certainly required, but far crazier things happen.
“We are only one mistake from our rivals of taking control of the league. It’s one mistake.” More from Tata after the jump.
A Copa del Rey final defeat against eternal rivals Real Madrid added to Barça’s miserable week and reassured that this season will end without a trophy to add to the cabinet. After Marc Bartra equalised with a wonderful header, it was hard seeing Gareth Bale score and watch the season slip away. Read after the jump what Marc Bartra, Xavi Hernández, Andrés Iniesta and Dani Alves had to say after the match.
“It’s a really tough blow because the expectations are so great.” Gerardo Martino is correct on both fronts, particularly the latter. FC Barcelona are now their own worst enemies, having set the standard so high, it’s what too many assume to be the norm. Martino kept it short post match, but whether truthful or not, the Argentine felt his future hasn’t particularly changed. “As I have said for one, two, three months now, I don’t feel that my future has changed because of all that we lost, and nor do I think it would be different if we had won.” The part that is likely to prove true is that even if Barça had won, Martino’s future wouldn’t have been any different.
Commenting on the winning goal, Tata was annoyed because he felt “the game was going our way after we had leveled until that counterattack”, but also was impressed to see someone “sprint like that at that stage of the game.”
“Obviously this is not a good moment. It has been a hard week on all fronts.” But Tata also stressed the need for perspective, to look at the bigger picture, to trust in the fundamentals of the squad and look to build for the future.
One month remains in the season, and there is only one competition to focus on. The league isn’t over as both Madrid sides have a very real distraction in Europe. Martino has to implore the players to muster one final push and finish the season undefeated.
FC Barcelona’s title hopes for this season have faded away after a painful 1-2 loss against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey’s final. The loss came after a shocking league defeat against Granada CF and a goodbye to the Champions League following another loss against Atlético Madrid, and tonight the losing streak has gone up to three. Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino was disappointed after losing the title to our bitter rivals, but insisted the team must keep on moving forward. “It’s a very difficult blow because of our expectations. We wanted to win, but what I’m taking away from this match is the team’s intention. We must continue forward and keep on fighting for the league,” he said. More after the jump.
Barça’s legendary former player and coach has come out in defense of Lionel Messi, following criticism that has labelled the Argentine ”disinterested.” The Dutchman labelled that criticism as ‘nonsense’ and said that Barça has gone for years without a coherent plan and ‘bad influences from outside the dressing room’ in an interview with Croatian daily Jutarnji List. Make the jump for a few choice excerpts.
Goalkeeper José Manuel Pinto did an extensive interview with El Pais this week. Pinto is many things. Besides being a goalkeeper, he is a music producer and somewhat of a philosopher. He meditates, practices yoga breathing exercises and has a very positive view about football and life in general. Read on for an excerpt of his thoughts about today’s Copa del Rey final.
World Cup winner Andrés Iniesta spoke in Tuesday’s pre-match press conference ahead of Wednesday’s Copa del Rey final against eternal rivals Real Madrid. A horror week in the Catalan club caused an earlier than usual UEFA Champions League exit at the hands of Atlético Madrid, followed by a disappointing away loss against Granada CF which lost Barça’s grip on the league title chase.
But now the team is solely focused on bouncing back by beating Real Madrid for the third time this season in the very same stadium where they lost in 2011. Iniesta reassured the fans that “The team is able to play well and win.” He also added, “It would be a huge joy for our supporters. We only have thoughts of winning the trophy.” More from Don Andrés after the jump.
FC Barcelona’s Sporting Director Andoni Zubizarreta spoke to Catalan station TV3 about matters concerning the team. A loss at Vicente Calderón in Madrid and another at the Estadio Nuevo Los Cármenes last week created some “crisis” talk around the club. Suggestions behind Lionel Messi’s lack of play along with rumours surrounding Gerardo Martino’s exit by the end of the season were all denied by the former goalkeeper, who clearly stated that both Argentines deserve merit on their hard work. He also admitted that as a Sporting Director, last match highlighted his “worst moment” at the job. More from Zubizarreta after the jump.
He may be injured, he can’t even play but Capità still knows how to make culés proud. This afternoon Carles Puyol went in front of the media to basically try and straighten out the narrative, to try and regain some perspective in this myopic world of sport. Below is only a brief summary of what was said in his statement as well as the barrage of question, but basically Puyol said it’s no time to point fingers, that the team is always trying its best and have been for quite a few years now. He also defended Lionel Messi unscrupulously and had to explain that it’s impossible to always win. It was additionally a rallying of the troops, to try and get everyone on board with the final push.
In an interview with Time magazine, Edson Arantes do Nascimento “Pelé” was asked which club would he choose to play for today. The Brazilian legend who played for Santos for 18 years and then signed for the New York Cosmos at the end of his footballing career, said that he would undoubtedly return to his beloved Santos FC once again. Nevertheless, if he had to choose from today’s modern teams, he’d pick the Catalans. “If you were to ask me about teams from now, from modern football, I could name two or three teams, but at this moment, I would say FC Barcelona. It’s same style that Santos used to play.” More after the jump.
Another day and another loss. Gerardo Martino’s players have disappointed the fans once more in this roller coaster season after a loss at Granada that gave up Barça’s grip on the league chase. But who’s to blame? The board? The players? Martino? Well, Javier Mascherano chose to steal Cristiano Ronaldo’s creative excuse instead, “The ball didn’t want to go in, but we can’t make excuses. I think we created chances to score, but football can be like this.” More from the Argentine along with post-match comments from Andrés Iniesta and Martin Montoya after the jump!
Hurting but not defeated was the message from Gerardo Martino going into today’s match against Granada. “It is impossible for a team to be fully over an elimination like that in so little time. You cannot be in top spirits just by magic. Nobody is in the best of moods, but there is no time for lamentations. There is no time for crying about things, although some defeats are very painful. We have to get straight back to thinking about the league. A win against Granada would allow us to move on a bit from the result in the Champions League.” More after the jump.
Dutch legend Johan Cruyff heavily criticised Barça’s board of directors in the wake of the Champions League exit at the hands of Atlético Madrid. He highlighted that the coach should not be blamed because of his limited ability to make decisions. “You can’t fault him [Tata] because he is doing what he can. But it’s really hard to manage a team if no one lets you”. More from the Barça legend after the jump.
After experiencing the club’s first exit in seven years before reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League, the players faces said it all: heartbreak and disappointment. But one thing was in common between the players, the coach, the staff, and the fans: They all acknowledged Atlético Madrid’s performance and congratulated them. Take a look at what Dani Alves, Jordi Alba, Andrés Iniesta, Xavi Hernandéz, Javier Mascherano and Marc Bartra had to say in the post-match reactions right after the jump.
Out of the Champions League, Barça only have themselves to blame after exit to Atlético Madrid. And for the first time in seven years, that exit occurred before the Catalan team reached the semi-finals stage of the competition. Barça boss Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino spoke after the match where he stated that his player “were brave. We were brave in that we tried to play like Barça have for the past decade. Playing like this is brave.” More from the Argentine’s post-match press conference right after the jump.
FC Barcelona’s Gerardo Martino spoke on the eve of Champions League quarter-final clash with Atlético Madrid that will be played in Madrid tonight. Speaking about the team’s chance to qualify for the semi-finals, Martino underlined, “I don’t like to predict what the result might be. What we need to do is to play better than Atlético and to win the game. These teams know each other very well, and they play with completely different styles. All I know is that Barcelona haven’t gone ahead in any of the meetings this season.” Asked about possible tactical approaches, the manager said, ”we need to see if we can do that and to try to control the match. Atlético are not the type of team who will allow us to control the game for the entire 90 minutes, but we’ll try to do that as it is how we like to play.” He also strongly stated that Barça’s objective is very clear, “is to qualify for the semi-finals in 90 minutes. The prize is progressing to the semi-finals of the Champions League.”
Xavi Hernández spoke to the media in a press conference ahead of Wednesday’s quarter final Champions League clash against Atlético Madrid, and explained how the team is only focused on going to win. “We would like to have got a more favourable result,” Xavi said. “A 1-1 draw is not so good, but we will go there full of motivation and spirit to go and win the game. We are a team made to attack and score goals, and are up against a team which is just the opposite. We must try and get ahead on the scoreboard. We have not done that in any of the four games. We would see then how they react. That could be key to the game.” More from Barça’s most capped player ever after the jump.
FC Barcelona midfielder Andrés Iniesta in an interview with Sport published today shared his opinion about tomorrow’s game against Atlético Madrid, as well as thoughts on La Masia and his 500th game in the blaugrana jersey. “The road to semifinals leads through a perfect match. We know that we will play against a very tough opponent, we experienced it in every game we played against them. We have to score a goal and be very concentrated,” said Iniesta. He also underlined that team “comes with the confidence to play a great game , to win the tie and with the hope of qualifying to the semifinals. We know it will be difficult, but the team is able to do so.”