Argentine legend Diego Armando Maradona recently spoke to Argentine newspaper ‘La Nacion’ regarding Argentina’s World Cup hopes and how their four-time Ballon d’Or winning Captain Lionel Messi can steal the show. Maradona claimed that he was happy to see Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo lift the Ballon d’Or in 2013, but believes Messi will be inspired by this loss and will take it all out in this summer’s FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
In the aftermath of Carles Puyol’s announcement of departure from FC Barcelona, director of football Andoni Zubizarreta gave an interview to Barcelona radio station RAC1. ‘Zubi’ gave assurances that the club was in full knowledge of Tarzan’s decision to leave at the end of the season, something they had known since last week. “Someone like Carles has every right to take such a decision. He had told us midway through the previous week.” He also revealed the centre-back previously “held a conversation with us on his future two years ago.”
Spain’s secretary of state for sport, Miguel Cardenal, came to FC Barcelona’s defense in an interview with El País. “FC Barcelona are a relevant component of Spain’s brand. It is a benchmark multi-sport club, committed to its youth system as its identity.” Check out what more this leading figure in Spain had to say after the jump.
Cesc Fàbregas spoke on Barça TV‘s El Marcador after the team bounced back from the defeat in Anoeta and trumped over Almeria 4-1 in a Camp Nou rout. Fàbregas claims that he is one hundred per cent certain that Barça can turn this season around and make it historic. “We have to improve, but it’s all still in our hands,” said the midfielder. “We have 19 games ahead of us in the league, Champions League and cup, and if we win them all, then this will be a great season. We have to pull our socks up and show that we are hungrier than anyone else to win the league title. If we win every game we have left, we’ll be champions … I like to think that we’ll be there to the end in every competition. We have to treat these games like 19 finals.”
With Sunday night’s victory against UD Almería, Barça got closer to rivals Real Madrid after the meringues rode their luck a bit to draw 2-2 with Atlético Madrid in the capital derby. However, despite the Catalans winning 4-1, the players still believe there’s a lot to work on. “The players were eager to play and win again,” said Sergio Busquets, while adding, “It wasn’t our best match, but it was important to win the three points.” More below.
Midfielder Cesc Fàbregas (26) spoke to Catalan daily Mundo Deportivo. He gives a comprehensive view of his feelings about the season that has passed so far, his opinion of Messi’s recovery and of Tata Martino’s role as coach, and looks ahead to the final matches and possible rewards the end of the season holds for Barça. Read the translation of the full interview after the jump.
Following a hugely disappointing loss against Real Sociedad and after loads of criticism regarding the team’s performance and Martino’s selected starting lineup, the team is expected to respond and recover strongly against UD Almeria tomorrow, and Martino believes his players are up to the task. “The team is very self critical, both the players and the coaching staff, and that’s why I have complete confidence in a good reaction.” Continue reading for more from Tata’s presser.
Adriano Correia spoke at a press conference on Friday, after the team has been heavily criticised by the media since that loss against Real Sociedad. Now that the team is about to face Almería in Camp Nou, Adriano looks eager in regards to the team’s chances to set things right. “We are very much looking forward to this chance to turn the page following the game in Anoeta. All we are thinking about is winning everything from now on.” More below.
Following Iniesta and Xavi‘s press conferences on Tuesday and Wednesday, Cesc Fabregas spoke on Thursday with similar encouraging words, self-criticising himself and the team’s performances in Anoeta against Real Sociedad. “We’re the first to know that we didn’t play a good game. We lacked mobility, intensity and precision, things that are vital to win a game.” The midfielder also added, “We’ve analysed the game, we know where we made mistakes and now we have to recover everything that we didn’t do.”
Xavi Hernández spoke at a press conference on Wednesday to discuss the team’s situation where he was both self-analytical and optimistic of Barça’s season. The loss against Real Sociedad in Anoeta meant that the Catalan club will be chasing the title with three points between them and their bitter rivals, Real Madrid. But Xavi understood the situation and is well optimistic of the future outcome. “Everything is at stake and we have to be positive. We are training hard, in an unusual week, without a game. Because of last Saturday we’re angry with ourselves. We know it’s the hour of truth, and we can’t fail any more.” More from Xavi after the jump.
Andres Iniesta spoke publicly to defend his under-fire coach, Gerardo Martino, and claims that the team are 100 per cent with their coach. “The manager trusts the team to win and he always wants the best for his team, therefore, the players have no doubts regarding the manager. On the contrary, we are with him to death.” More from the midfielder after the jump.
“Martino is doing very well at Barcelona. I like the way he speaks, always calm, he reminds me a lot of myself, he doesn’t go looking for controversy and does the best for his team.”
In an interview on Canal+, Real Madrid’s Italian head coach Carlo Ancelotti took the time to praise his rival Gerardo Martino’s way of handling himself as a coach. Rivalry aside, Ancelotti reminds the world of the great respect football’s biggest rivalry used to have for one another, unlike a certain Portuguese and his puppet.
Only four days after affirming their European credentials by beating Manchester City in the near-invincible Etihad stadium, Barça fell 3-1 in a performance to forget on Saturday against a much better Real Sociedad. Manager Gerardo Martino took the blame for the game in his post match press conference as he admits that playing a double pivot was a misreading of the game and that substitutions had to come on earlier. “Real deserved to win, I didn’t make the correct reading of the game. The decision not to change was also a mistake.” But nevertheless, the message was “move forward“.
FC Barcelona experienced their soundest beating of the 2012/13 season yesterday in San Sebastián. While of course the narcissism of fandom will take precedent, it’s both rude and shortsighted to not recognize that Real Sociedad performance for the master-class it was. Mostly the players acknowledge they were second best, here are the reactions of Andrés Iniesta, Víctor Valdés and Gerard Piqué.
“I won’t sell out for money. It helps, but it doesn’t rule my life.”
In the autobiography My Name is Neymar, which will be published by Ediciones B on February 26th, Neymar Jr explained why he chose to stay with Santos FC and reject Real Madrid as a young boy. His father, Neymar Sr, added that “There wasn’t enough money in Madrid that would buy the happiness of my son.”
The Champions League clash last Tuesday caused some heavy criticism towards match referee Jonas Eriksson, an attack that by now all culés have gotten used to since the ‘Moudrid’ days. Manchester City’s coach Manuel Pellegrini blamed Eriksson in his post match conference saying that “he decided the game,” along with similar comments from other City players including team captain Vicente Kompany. However, after it was said that Pellegrini might face possible sanctions from UEFA for his post-match conference, and with Man City defender Martin Demichelis admitting that the blame was on him for the penalty and not the referee, the coach spoke in a press conference regretting the comments he said “out of anger” and apologised publicly while clarifying what he actually meant. Read Pellegrini’s apology after the jump.
Coach Gerardo Martino spoke in a press conference ahead of Saturday’s game against Real Sociedad at Anoeta, where he discussed his feelings towards the legal cases surrounding Neymar Jr. “Worried about Neymar? If I had to answer in regards to when he will play or how I see him in training, I’d say no, but it’s true that sometimes things go more than skin deep. Sometimes he may feel a sense of injustice, of surprise. I’m not with a player 24 hours a day to learn how he feels. I see him normal, but what’s currently happening around him isn’t normal.” More on Tata’s pre-match conference after the jump.
Following Barça’s Champions League victory at the Etihad against Manchester City, the Citizens and their coach kept blaming the referee for their loss, despite Gerard Piqué’s onside goal disallowed and a clear handball on Clichy that wasn’t deemed a penalty by the ref. However, Sergio Busquets gave the Citizens a piece of his mind as he labeled the Manchester giants as “losers” for blaming the referee for their performance. He also reflected on what is happening in La Liga.
“I tackled him because I thought I was still outside the box, but I don’t blame the referee. It all happened too fast. I have seen the moment again on TV and think ‘why did I have to tackle him and not keep running by his side?’ I was sure that I would get the ball when I made the tackle and then you think that you will steal the ball from Messi, you realise that you don’t, but I did make the foul.”
“We feel at ease. The contracts with Neymar and Santos are completely legal. We consulted externally with experts in finance and tax and we can say the club is up to date with payments to the Spanish Treasury. Barcelona is an exemplary club.” Once again, strong and assured words from club president Josep Maria Bartomeu. Following yesterday’s legal developments, Bartomeu sat with Teledeporte’s Estudio Estadio to discuss the topical issues. Fully translated interview below.
Yes, he’s talking about you, Jose. It seems that Cesc Fàbregas has had enough of Jose Mourinho’s antics. Perhaps fed up with the stick Mou has been giving to his former coach, Arsene Wenger, not to mention his saying that this Barça is the worst Barça team in years, Cesc spoke to Sky Sports after the win over Manchester City this week and said, “He [Mourinho] should mind his own business… He should only talk about Chelsea and the tie. I don’t think he should talk about anything else. It’s not his business.”
In yesterday’s post-match press conference, Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino spoke to the reporters following Barça’s 2-0 away victory in Manchester against the Citizens. Tata made it clear that he is not taking his foot off the pedal, as the Catalans ready to host the Premier League giants in three weeks time. The Barça boss stated that there is no room to relax against City and that they’ll head on to the next leg as if it was still 0-0. Check out the excerpts from Martino’s talk after the jump.
Manchester City’s coach, Manual Pellegrini, launched a bizarre and uncharacteristic attack against last night’s referee Jonas Eriksson, accusing him of allowing FC Barcelona to leave the Etihad stadium as winners. Pellegrini referred to Barça’s game against AC Milan a few years back when Pep Guardiola was still in charge, saying that Eriksson has made mistakes then, and has done the same last night. He also brought the referee’s nationality into play. Continue reading for more from Pellegrini’s presser.
After an incredible night for the Catalans in Manchester, where the Barça players backed up their pre-match statements (unlike their opponents) with an excellent performance against Manchester City. Some of the guys had a few things to say about the recent criticism and the return leg. Continue reading for reactions from Alves, Iniesta, Cesc, Messi, Valdés, and Mascherano.
FC Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué spoke ahead of tonight’s globally anticipated UEFA Champions League (UCL) game against Manchester City. He recalled fond memories of that English city saying, “Manchester is special for me. I was just a kid that came here to earn a living. I came here when I was 17 and I came to live football. I would have liked to play more and been an important part of the team. I learned a lot here and I always say that after Barcelona, my second team is Manchester United because they treated me so well.”
Asked about the level of opposition at this part of the UCL season, the Catalan player agreed that, “Historically the knock out round has been difficult for us. Last year we lost 2-0 to Milan, I don’t think you can explain why we struggle in the first rounds every year.” He speculated, “It could be because there is a lot of time between the stages and it takes awhile to get back into it.” But even hardships can be useful for the team. “We must learn from our personal experience and do well here because they will be unforgiving” underlined Piqué. Much more after the jump.
“When you play against Barça, of course one has to always consider a variety of important aspects, but it is essential to remain the same team that is seen week-in week-out in the Premiership.” And so Manuel Pellegrini made it clear his side will not be reactive to Barcelona’s visit. Pellegrini confirmed that Manchester City will face up to FC Barcelona keeping their “style” and “personality”.
More from the City boss below:
As the 2014 FIFA World cup approaches, Neymar Jr spoke in an interview with FIFA.com about how he feels his nation will perform and how he dreams to lift the world’s most prestigious trophy in his home country. The 22-year-old Brazilian just returned from injury with a fantastic solo goal against Rayo Vallecano as Barcelona ran riot in a six-goal exhibition, Neymar spoke about how he’s settling in at his new club and fulfilling his boyhood dream of “playing in a European club”. Read Neymar’s full interview with FIFA.com after the jump.