Sergio Busquets pointed out the importance of “staying calm and being ourselves. 90 minutes is a long time and we shouldn’t get nervous.” The player is certain that“if we play our football, we have a good chance of qualifying. We have to set out our stall from the kick-off, but we must stay calm and try to be patient. We have to win but we don’t need to rush as a 1-0 win will qualify us.”
The team held their final training session at Camp Nou at noon before the important match later today against Arsenal. Once the session was completed, the players returned to the hotel La Florida, where they will remain until two hours before kick-off.
A UEFA delegate will present a cheque for €100,000 to Carles Puyol, who amassed over 230,000 votes to be named the captain of the uefa.com users’ Team of the Year 2010. Puyol will donate the cheque to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). William Gaillard, Adviser to UEFA President Michel Platini, will hand over the cheque to FC Barcelona’s star player before the start of tonight’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between FC Barcelona and Arsenal FC at the Camp Nou. For the fourth time, this money will be going from the hands of the Team of the Year’s captain to one of UEFA’s long-standing partners, the ICRC. The donation will support the ICRC’s physical rehabilitation programme for landmine victims in Afghanistan.
It is International Women’s Day and totalBarça’s female staff just wants to have some fun. While the men in Blaugrana celebrated the event with a win on Saturday in front of a presidential box filled with women, the way we look at it is that it doesn’t count because we weren’t invited. So we have our own way of celebrating this day – by seeing gorgeous photographs of our loverly players. It also is timely viewing as we are really nervous about the match that awaits us later in the day. And what better way to relax ourselves than by seeing pictures of such gifted (in so many ways) players, who we believe can get the victory in today’s crucial match. Vote for your favourite player in the current squad after the jump!
P.S.: Dearest Men, you won’t be ignored. Vote and have your say.
When Barca step out onto the field tonight it will be with somewhat depleted ranks, what with the injuries and suspensions the squad currently has and the reshuffle such troubles invariably creates. And yet it may be one of our ‘replacements‘ who may well prove to have the biggest impact on whether we emerge victorious come the end of this very tense tie.
Arsène Wenger has refuted suggestions that he was playing “mind games” by including Robin van Persie so late in his squad for the game at Barcelona. “He has made quick progress. It is no mind game – I am not good at those,” said Wenger at the UEFA press conference on Monday evening. “Whether he has been included in the squad has not yet been decided. He has made quick progression in the last three days. This morning he was unlikely to travel, but he wanted to go, so he had a test and it was quite positive,” added the manager.
As many fans will sorely remember, after Arsenal managed to steal a few lucky goals against Barça in the first leg of the Champions League a few weeks ago, the Gunners fans piped up with choruses of their favourite chant, the ever so subtle “We’ve got Cesc Fabregas!” Although hard to take at the time, there came a great reply a few days later that all Barça fans should take inspiration from.
The following is a translation of Johan Cruyff’s weekly article in ‘El Periodico’. The original can be found here.
Johan Cruyff’s key points.
The Champions League is back, and Barca has already had filled its quota of mistakes. The worse that can happen is that it can’t go any further. Arsenal will come here depleted, but I’m not falling for it.
A league will always be divided into two halves. Always have, and always will be. One half is for the big clubs, and the other, for the small ones. The title is for the big ones to compete, while league survival is the domain of the small ones. And as such, the objective is either to come out as the champion, or avoiding the drop to a lower division. The two have nothing in common. It is between the chance to play in Europe or be more or less safe in a zone in the middle of the table for one-third of the teams in the league – an oasis away from the chaos that usually happens towards the business end of the season.
Looking to banish the demons of their first Champions League defeat of the season, Barcelona play host to Arsenal this Tuesday in the second leg of their European tie with the North London side. The imminent arrival of Arsenal to the Camp Nou heralds the most important game of the Catalan’s season, one that looks set to be played with a makeshift defense. The suspension of Gerard Piqué and the continuing fitness problems surrounding Captain Carles Puyol have left a gaping hole in the back-line that will affect the look of the entire team as players are slotted around to fill in for the missing defenders.
Barça utility player Adriano Correia became a father for the second time at the weekend, his wife giving birth to a healthy little boy named Azhaf. Speaking on his twitter feed, the Brazillian said, “We just had my second child [who] was born and I’m happy everything went well thanks to God. Mom and Azhaf are fine.”
Barça is in what appears to be a tough spot. Without even considering the loss of both Puyol and Pique, no squad wants to find itself facing a deficit going into the second leg of a Champions League knockout tie, even if it’s only a one goal deficit, you have an away goal and the match will be played at home. It’s especially unpleasant when the opposition will be arriving with a plane-full of world class talent that finds itself sitting extremely close to the top in one of the world’s elite leagues.
Last month we shared with you the short documentary “Pep’s Journey” about Josep Guardiola’s life from his final performance in midfield for FC Barcelona in 2001 to his appointment as first team manager in 2008. Today we want to follow Pep’s life from the very beginning, in fact from his birth. The story of Pep Guardiola is fascinating, even more so when told by his family, friends and people from FC Barcelona. Enjoy the first part of this documentary “Around Pep Guardiola”.
VALDÉS YES, PUYOL NO
Decisive against Zaragoza, the goal keeper hopes it will be a magical night to qualify.
The captain suffered a relapse so Abidal and Busi may be the starter defenders
Pedro: “We’ve learned of what happened against Inter. 90 minutes is enough time“.
Wenger plans a defensive match with Eboué instead of Arshavin.
March 7, 2011
March 6, 2011