Xavi: “Things are looking good”

Xavi: “Things are looking good”

Xavi Hernández gave a press conference ahead of tomorrow’s Liga curtain raiser against Elche CF to be played at the Camp Nou. Xavi said that he is very optimistic about the upcoming season. “I’m more motivated than on my first day because I like what I’m seeing. The squad is working really well under Luis Enrique. If you could see how the team is training you’d know that things are looking good.” Xavi also said that the team is fulfilling its objective in each training session.

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Mascherano: “It is our duty to fight”

Mascherano: “It is our duty to fight”

A motivated Javier Mascherano talked to the press following the team’s morning session on Wednesday and discussed the recent transfer ban, Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, the upcoming season, and much more. The Argentine plans on giving his all once again for FC Barcelona, and it appears that the team is ready for what’s coming. “It is our duty to fight in all competitions and get as far as we can.” Read more after the jump.

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Picture of the day: Sign everybody!!

Picture of the day: Sign everybody!!

With the signing ban looming, Luis Enrique and company must look at every available option to shore up the team until 2016.

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Cartoon of the Day: Sport

Cartoon of the Day: Sport

LUCHO’S CLUB: 6

THE LION CUBS: 0

LUIS ENRIQUE: “The president says I am the best signing of the summer… and for the first time since he has been president, I think he’s right.”

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Players Reactions: FC Barcelona 6-0 Club León

Players Reactions: FC Barcelona 6-0 Club León

Croatian international Ivan Rakitić was impressed by the Camp Nou crowd and voiced his opinion on the team’s performance, even though it was a one-sided game that ended 6-0 to FC Barcelona. “It was an important match, we played at a good pace and I think we played really well.

Even though it was a thumping, Rakitić believes, “There is still the odd thing to improve but the fans can go home smiling.”  The midfielder showed  last night his ability to fire off shots from long range. “It’s a part of my game.  People already know what I can contribute, but I have to keep improving in every match and every training session.” The new man certainly impressed the crowd during his first match at the Camp Nou.

Below are reactions from Jérémy Mathieu, Jordi Masip, Munir El Haddadi, and Claudio Bravo.

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Luis Enrique: “I’ve got a unique squad”

Luis Enrique: “I’ve got a unique squad”

In his post-Gamper conference, Luis Enrique praised the team’s win and performance against Club León after his side thrashed the visitors six goals to nil. This summer’s transfer window is almost over, and Luis Enrique expressed his satisfaction and appreciation of the changes that the club has gone through. “The manager has to put together a team with the squad he has, and we’ve got an amazing squad.” The goal was to strengthen the squad in several aspects to build a more competitive squad, and Lucho believes the club did just that. “We’ve strengthened really well, the club has made a big effort and I’ve got a unique squad.” More after the jump.

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Luis Enrique: “The fans will enjoy what we do”

Luis Enrique: “The fans will enjoy what we do”

Luis Enrique gave a press conference today before the Joan Gamper game tomorrow against Mexican side Club León F.C. During the press conference, the boss was asked many questions, some about how the players from Barça B are coping, Gerard Deuloeu’s loan and many more.

The Coach started by encouraging the Barça B players saying,  “There are some top quality players there.  It goes without saying that we’ll have to give them a hand.  I love using young players with talent, and they are top rate.  There are quite a few with quality.” More after the jump.

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Rakitić: “We will work very hard”

Rakitić: “We will work very hard”

During an interview with FC Barcelona’s new signing Ivan Rakitić (26), the player was asked many questions about his new coach and teammates. Ivan Rakitić seems to have seamlessly blended with his new team. The Swiss-born Croatian humbly follows the Barça dressing room routine, and wants to become a key part of the team. In addition, his performance was noticed during Barça’s preseason which had different, vertical  football, with good ball-striking and powerful middle-distance shots. He came to Barça willing to take a giant leap in quality in his football career.

Being a month at the club, Was it easy to absorb all the changes with respect to Sevilla FC?
Honestly, the changes are noticed, but it’s hard to explain how. Overall, the general idea of football does not change much because the ideas of Unai Emery are similar to those of Luis Enrique. Here the idea is similar to the one in Sevilla which includes possession and pressure, and that is helping me a lot.

You one said that Felix Magath was the most demanding coach you played for. Is Luis Enrique as demanding?
There is only one Magath  in the world (smiles) … What you learn with him is awesome. I am very grateful for the year and a half I had with him at Schalke 04, but the way he works is different, very difficult to bear, which requires a lot physically and also because you never know if tomorrow you train in the evening or morning, he always left everything open. Luis Enrique is different; he has very clear ideas, leaves  no doubt, and works on all the details. Everything is very professional, even in his talks, he never has lingering questions, and he focuses to the last detail. He has very clear ideas and that is very important to us.

Read more from Rakitić’s interview after the jump.

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Picture of the day: Eye on the ball?

Picture of the day: Eye on the ball?

Luis Enrique knows that ball wouldn’t dare to hit him in the face.

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Barça may have sent Deulofeu away for good

Barça may have sent Deulofeu away for good

Barça may have sent Gerard Deulofeu away for good. Not literally, as he’s still under control till 2017 with a 35 million euro buy-out clause, but figuratively. Deulofeu has never been of the typical La Masia mould. He’s highly individualistic, at a younger age he named Cristiano Ronaldo his idol (in and of itself perfectly fine, but still an insight into the type of figure he aspires to emulate), was forced by the club to close a social media account (reportedly due to expressing an attitude contrary to the club’s) and has never been the “rah-rah Barça till I die” guy. He’s immensely self-assured, some say to the point of arrogance, and seemingly impatient. The club wasn’t sold about loaning him out last season, allegedly succumbing to the young man’s desire to seek more minutes. He left Everton feeling he “deserved to play more”.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

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Iniesta: “Suárez can’t wait to start”

Iniesta: “Suárez can’t wait to start”

During his time at an Estrella Damm promotion event, Andrés Iniesta was asked for his opinion on a variety of Barça-related subjects, including FC Barcelona’s Luis Suárez who is currently waiting for the final decision from the court of arbitration of sport regarding his FIFA ban. “I spoke with him [Suárez] and he can’t wait to get started.” Continue reading for much more from Barça’s vice-captain.

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Picture of the day: Sunday ride

Picture of the day: Sunday ride

Ah, Sunday… day of rest, right? Not for Luis Enrique, who went on a 50 kilometer bike ride.

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Luis Enrique: “The basis of our team has to be fierce competition”

Luis Enrique: “The basis of our team has to be fierce competition”

FC Barcelona managed to breeze through with a 6-0 victory against a weak HJK Helsinki yesterday, but coach Luis Enrqiue definitely has things to say, despite of the chaotic difference in strength between the two teams. Luis Enrique seemed satisfied with the team’s second win in preseason, but still had to make some remarks. Read on for more.

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Official: Barça’s new captains

Official: Barça’s new captains

The results of a vote conducted by the first-team players on Tuesday concerning the captain and three vice-captains for the 2014/15 season have been announced today. Although the captains were democratically elected, they follow the Barça tradition of leading by seniority – Xavi Hernández will lead the team with Andrés Iniesta as his vice-captain, while Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets round out the quarter, replacing the departed Carles Puyol and Víctor Valdés. The four have spent 23, 18, 14, and 9 years at the club respectively. Messi captains Argentina and has worn the Barça armband on occasions when none of the four official captains were present, while Busquets is a true rookie, having never captained his team for club or country. Nevertheless, the choice of Busquets over Gerard Piqué, who he shares seniority with, and Javier Mascherano, who was named by Luis Enrique as a player with leadership qualities, indicates the players’ respect and admiration for Barcelona’s new number 5. These four will be critical in leading Barça through transition as Luis Enrique remakes and reinvigorates the team.

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Enrique: “Bravo played a good game”

Enrique: “Bravo played a good game”

In his post-match presser, Luis Enrique refused to fixate on Claudio Bravo’s error that resulted in the loss against SSC Napoli. “He played a good game. It’s a pity he made a small error at the end, but these things happen in football.” The coach was pleased with the overall performance of the team despite the result. “Overall, as a team, I felt like I saw an improvement and I think a draw would have been a fair result.” Continue reading for comments from Enrique on Gerard Deulofeu, Dani Alves and more.

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Match Review: FC Barcelona 0-1 SSC Napoli

Match Review: FC Barcelona 0-1 SSC Napoli

Being that it’s still preseason, I’ll be mild-mannered with my words. Given all the talk of revolution, changes, tactical shifts and experimentation, viewers were given nothing of that tonight in FC Barcelona’s 1-0 loss to SSC Napoli. That could have been any old game at any old time in the past three to four seasons. Is this really the new Barça given the mega-star attacking trident is absent, the first team mostly vacated on 60 minutes and players are obviously rusty and physically unfit? The answer is in the question. Nevertheless, despite dominating the ball, it was a match of minimal insight and anyone claiming to notice change at this point is willing it rather than seeing it.

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What to expect when you’re expecting

What to expect when you’re expecting

The season’s first official game against Elche CF is 19 days away, and I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited about a new campaign as I am now. But things have changed, a lot, and so must we. Last season, many culés, including myself, expected a lot from the team. The first half of the season was incredible and the team was moving in the right direction. And then it all fell apart. We’ve blamed the coach, the players, and the board for the unsuccessful, trophyless season but we deserve some of the blame too.

Ever since the treble season we have been spoiled with spectacular football. We became used to watching the one and only Carles Puyol raise trophies up in the air as we celebrate yet another victory. But bit by bit these same players grew tired, and we just couldn’t accept that. I was furious at Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino for the way he managed the team by the end, I was disappointed at how the players showed so little hunger, and I despised the board for choosing to watch from the sidelines while football’s greatest ever generation neared its end. But then again, we always expected too much.

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Player Reactions: OGC Nice 1-1 FC Barcelona

Player Reactions: OGC Nice 1-1 FC Barcelona

Barcelona’s second preseason friendly ended in a draw with a penalty kick on each side, with most of the senior players and the newly signed ones playing their first game. But besides the club’s new stars, there was a lot of focus on the younger players, some of whom who showed great promise such as Gerard Deulofeu, Marc Bartra and Sergi Samper. Check out what the young men had to say about the new players, the new coach and the rest of the team after the jump.

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Luis Enrique: “We can’t expect too much”

Luis Enrique: “We can’t expect too much”

Barça’s 1-1 draw against Nice yesterday evening may have left Luis Enrique with as many questions as answers. Lucho noted that the result “matters least” and that the purpose of the games “are for seeing where each player is and telling each of them what they’ll need to improve.” Concerning the new signings, he stressed “we’re going the logical, correct, way about things. We can’t expect too much before the season has even started.” He also said that he hoped “all the players with me now are still here at the end of the season” but did not deny questions from the media on the possibility of new faces arriving before the end of August.

These were his comments on the game itself. Not pleased with the first half, Luis Enrique highlighted  “players not knowing how to make use of space.” But he was more enamored with the second half, “we created more chances by playing well.” What was blatantly obvious to many an observer, including the new manager, was the enormous influence Xavi Hernández had when coming on. “Right now he’s back to his best both in terms of fitness and motivation.

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Bartomeu: “There are still things to do this summer”

Bartomeu: “There are still things to do this summer”

Speaking at St. George’s Park before the players headed off to Nice, FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu took time to make some comments to the media, and the things that he said were very interesting. Read on after the jump.

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Rafinha: “Competition between players makes us better”

Rafinha: “Competition between players makes us better”

Back from his loan with Celta, Rafinha Alcantara offered some opinions on his return to the squad and outlook for the upcoming season. “Barça is a team that is very easy to adapt to, players receive you with open arms,” said the Brazilian from the training facility in England. More after the jump.

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Piqué: “I’m not among the best defenders”

Piqué: “I’m not among the best defenders”

Gerard Piqué admitted during his press conference yesterday afternoon that he hasn’t been enjoying his best football lately, saying that “at the moment I am not among the the best central defenders in the world.” The defender was disappointed at his performances with FC Barcelona during the past season and Spain during the World Cup, but he is convinced that “with Luis Enrique’s help I will recover a high level.” Piqué also said that he sees it as a challenge and if he plans to continue playing with Barça, he must become one of the best once again. Continue reading for more.

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Ter Stegen: “My idol is Oliver Kahn”

Ter Stegen: “My idol is Oliver Kahn”

The first of Barca’s many signings this summer, Marc-André ter Stegen is the club’s goalkeeper of the future. But what else do we know about him? The young German sat down with Mundo Deportivo this week to discuss the expectations of Luis Enrique, competing for the starting spot and the joy of the German World Cup victory, to the chagrin of his teammates. Read more after the jump.

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Gamper kick off time changed


Gerard Deulofeu: New season, new dreams… by fcbarcelona

The Joan Gamper trophy’s kick off time has been brought forward and the game will now start at 8:30 PM CET. The match against Rafa Márquez’s Club León side will be Luis Enrique’s first at the Camp Nou and the fans will finally get to watch FC Barcelona entertain once again at home.

Gerard Deulofeu will be making his debut as a first team player and is currently promoting the presentation of Luis Enrique’s new project alongside the boss himself, Marc Bartra, and Marc-André ter Stegen. The squad will be officially presented an hour before kick off and tickets are now available at the Camp Nou ticket offices and on the club website.

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Pedro: “The club has confidence and faith in me”

Pedro: “The club has confidence and faith in me”

Pedro Rodríguez’s future at the club was questioned by many during the past few weeks as some predicted that the winger may be offloaded after five years with the first team. Nevertheless, Pedro revealed that he talked to Andoni Zubizarreta to understand his role at the club a few weeks back and felt valued. “The club has confidence and faith in me. I’ve worked under Luis Enrique before, he knows me and he knows what I can bring. That was important in keeping me at the club which has given me everything.” Continue reading for more.

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Balague: “Enrique wants discipline and hard work”

Balague: “Enrique wants discipline and hard work”

Sky Sports Spanish football expert Guillem Balague reported on how the squad is doing at the St. George’s Park facilities where coach Luis Enrique now operates from for the next few days. With most of the squad back, only World Cup finalists Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano along with the injured Neymar and the suspended Luis Suárez are missing from Lucho’s training sessions, which Guillem assures are as intense as they can get.

“Luis Enrique is a fanatic of physical training,” Guillem told Sky Sports News. “Barcelona have come from two years where the training has been more relaxed and less intense, which showed in the way they were playing. But Enrique wants discipline, hard work, and for guys to recover pressure high and be fit. The famous journalist also mentioned that the players “are saying privately that it’s hard to finish the sessions. So far what he has been doing back in Barcelona is difficult training sessions. Here [at St George’s Park] you’re going to get one in the morning and one in the afternoon and so on until Saturday.” More from Balague after the jump.

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Luis Enrique: “We’ll be in good shape for the season”

Luis Enrique: “We’ll be in good shape for the season”

FC Barcelona’s new coach, Luis Enrique, talked about how the pre-season is going so far before heading to England. The team will be staying at St. George’s Park for six days before embarking for their friendly matches. Lucho started his tenure as Barça coach with a win against Recreativo Huelva (0-1) and on the 2nd of August the team will play their second game in France against OGC Nice. After that, the team will face SSC Napoli and HJK Helsinki before playing the last game against in the Joan Gamper trophy against Club Léon de Guanajuato on August 18th. The thoughts of Luis Enrique below.

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Luis Enrique on pre-season

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Video of the Day: Coaching team

Who is who? Who does what? GPS tracking devices?! Eye in the sky. All here!

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Ex-Barça: Deco, Sylvinho & Belletti talk new Barça

Ex-Barça: Deco, Sylvinho & Belletti talk new Barça

It was a match for the ex-Barça players of 2006 to reunite for one last time in Deco’s testimonial match where FC Barcelona 20006 played against FC Porto 2004. Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o, Juliano Belletti, Deco and Sylvinho all took part in this match with Deco playing for a number of minutes with each side. Deco ended his career with an astonishing lob finish in the dying minutes of the match to equalize for Porto making the match end (4-4).

After the match, Belletti, Deco and Sylvinho took time to talk about the new Barça and they all had promising words to say…

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