REAL STILL IN IT

The Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova has said that he will not write off the chances of Real Madrid winning the title this season, despite the fact that their arch rivals are 11 points behind them in the table. It has been a strange season in Le Liga this time around, as Real Madrid have been unable to exert the same dominance as they have done in the past. The current champions also are behind Barcelona by 11 points in the table even at this early stage in the season. They have already suffered three defeats in the league, with the latest coming during the weekend.

Despite this massive advantage over their arch rivals, Barcelona will not be writing off the challenge from Real Madrid according to Tito Vilanova. Real Madrid will be playing against Athletico Madrid, who are eight points ahead of the in the table, during the weekend, while Barcelona will be up against Atletic Bilbao. Even though in the past, the Madrid derby has been a source of regular three points for Real Madrid, many reckon that it will be tough this time around. As a result, there is a chance that this lead might increase to 14 points by the end of this week. Barcelona will be able to set a new record for their best start to a new season by beating Atletic Bilbao.

“I wouldn’t give them up for dead. It’s not normal that we win all our matches. We should prepare ourselves for when we lose. We are talking about maybe being 14 points ahead [of Real] after tomorrow but maybe we’ll end the weekend only eight in front,” said the Barcelona manager ahead of this match. Athletico Madrid are the closest contenders for Barcelona, as they are just three points behind the Catalan club.

MOURINHO NOT WORRIED

The Real Madrid manager José Mourinho has said that he is not worried about the eight-point lead that Barcelona currently have at the top of the table. Due to the indifferent form in the early part of the campaign, Real Madrid allowed Barcelona to open an eight-point advantage in the division. The Spanish la Liga is one of the most competitive for the top two teams because they rarely drop points. Hence, there is a feeling that the eight-point gap might be a little too large for Real Madrid to close even at this early stage of the season.

The former Chelsea manager, though, reckons that it is only October and not March. Real Madrid had a 10 point advantage over Barcelona last season, but that was closed down to very dangerous levels before they eventually won the title. As a result, there is always the chance of closing the gap when there is a lot of matches remaining according to the manager of Real Madrid. José Mourinho saw Barcelona win handsomely 5-0 against Rayo Vallecano. Real Madrid also repeated the same result with a 5-0 win over Mallorca. Cristiano Ronaldo was once again the outstanding player for Real Madrid in this match.

“We were 10 points ahead of the second in March last season in March and we have always felt that the league is open. Today it’s not March; it is only October and November. There are not 10 points there are only eight, so we have to keep going and ignore our big rivals (Barcelona), and in this case two because Atletico Madrid also have an important advantage over us,” said Mourinho. Real Madrid lost the opportunity to close the gap to 5 points in the recently concluded El Clasico, which finished in a 2-2 draw.

VILANOVA OFFERS SUPPORT

The new Barcelona signing Alex Song has said that the manager Tito Vilanova supported him a lot prior to making his first start for the club. The Cameroon midfielder was a £ 15 million signing from Arsenal in the summer transfer window. However, he has not been utilised as a starter by the manager Tito Villanova up until now, but he was part of the starting line-up that played against Valencia recently. Barcelona managed a narrow 1-0 win over Valencia to move five points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the table.

After the match, the former Arsenal midfielder said that he is extremely happy to be part of the starting line-up for the first time. He has said that the manager Tito Vilanova was a major influence in helping him adapt to the Barcelona style of football. Barcelona have made a great start to the season, which is also coupled with the poor start to the arch rivals Real Madrid. As a result, they have already built a healthy lead over Real Madrid in their efforts to reclaim the title from Real Madrid. Song has said that he is extremely happy to start the match, but is more importantly happy with the three points.

“The coach spoke with me ahead of the game and explained what he expected of me. That really helped me calm down a bit and gave me a lot of confidence. My team-mates also talked to me a lot and that was very helpful. I know that it’s important at Barcelona to pass the ball directly. But strangely enough, sometimes it’s even easier to drive the ball forward and keep possession,” said Song after the match. Barcelona will be facing Getafe in the league before taking on Spartak Moskova in the Champions League.

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BARCA SQUAD ANNOUNCED

The new manager of Barcelona, Tito Vilanova, has announced the Barcelona’s squad for the La Liga season. Surprisingly, Cristian Tello hasn’t been included in the first choice squad. In the last season, many experienced players of Barcelona were injured. So, some young players were given the opportunity to play for the first team and Tello was one of them. But, the experienced players have returned back to the team after recovering from injury. So, Vilanova has decided to leave Tello out of the team.

Tello’s exclusion from the squad is a bit surprising because he played quite well in the last season and he was expected to be retained in the squad. Tello played his first match for Barcelona in November last year against CE L’Hospitalet. He played his first match in La Liga against Villarreal on 28th January 2012. He came to play as substitute in the 75th minute of the match. In the next week, he started the match against Real Sociedad and he scored a goal in the 8th minute of the match. In his very first match in the Champions League against Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Tello scored a goal after substituting Andres Iniesta in the second half. He continued his good form till the end of the season and the former manager of Barcelona, Josep Guardiola, had praised Tello after the last season.

Even after being dropped from the first squad, Tello has made it clear that he is not planning to leave Barcelona. There have been rumors that Arsenal and Liverpool are interested in the Spanish striker, but, Tello said that it is not the right time to leave Barcelona. As per Tello, he would certainly make a move in his career at some point of time but not now. He is willing to spend some more time with Barcelona.

MASCH CLOSE TO NEW DEAL

Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano has said that he is close to agreeing a new deal with the club. The Argentine midfielder was one of the last signings made by the former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola.  Even though he was initially a midfielder, Guardiola managed to successfully convert him into a central defender. The former Liverpool man has now revealed that he is close to extending his current contract with the club after sufficiently impressing the officials of the club during his short time at the Camp Nou.

The midfielder was a £ 25 million signing from Liverpool a few season ago. He has managed to lift some of the greatest cup competitions in the world including the Champions League in his inaugural season with the Spanish club. However, he was converted into a defender by the manager Guardiola this season. Although, it was a move that was not successful as in previous seasons, the 28-year-old has said that he is extremely comfortable playing as a central defender. It is thought that he will signing a new four year deal with the club. His wages are expected to improve in accordance with his importance to the team, which has risen in the last few months.

“My contract renewal is almost done. Perhaps there will be more news this week, or the next. I’m very calm about the whole thing,” said the midfielder at a recent press conference. Mascherano is close to making 100 appearances for the Catalan club, who have been judged as the best in the world right now. They have lifted an unprecedented 16 trophies in the last four years under their former manager, who was recently replaced by his assistant Tito. Mascherano has said that he expects Barcelona to be successful under the new man as well.

VILLANOVA WANTS DEFENDERS

Barcelona’s new manager Tito Villanova has said that he will be looking to bring his a few defensive players in the summer transfer window. It is the start of a new era at the Camp Nou after assistant manager Tito Villanova will be taking over from manager Guardiola, who has stepped down from his post due to fatigue. It is going to be extremely difficult for anyone who is replacing Guardiola to repeat his achievements with the Spanish club. The former Barcelona captain guided the club to a quite impressive 14 trophies in just four seasons. Tito Villanova has agreed a new two-year deal with the club recently.

Immediately after taking over at the club, the 42-year-old has confirmed that he will be not looking at enhancing the attacking options at the club, but will be focusing more on the defensive side. Barcelona have been left extremely vulnerable in the defence this season due to the lack of Carlos Puyol for most of the matches, while Pique has also not been at his best. As a result, midfielder Mascherano has been used as the centre back in numerous matches by Guardiola. Tito Villanova also acknowledged that he will not be looking to change the system too much.

“We want to reinforce the squad at the back. It’s a position we have had problems with. At the moment, we are interested in a left back and a centreback. We don’t have any plans to bring in any one up front. Last year David Villa, Alexis Sanchez and Pedro all suffered injuries but we hope next year they’ll be ok. Also we can count on (youth academy players) Isaac Cuenca and Cristian Tello. Pep and I were very close. Pep was the communicator of the message, but he shared the decision-making with me 50-50 and sought my opinion. Most of the time we were in complete agreement,” said the new Barcelona manager.

BUSQUETS: WIN THE GOALS AWARD

Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets has said that the club should be doing everything possible in the hands to help Lionel Messi win the Pichichi award, which is given to the top scorer in Spain, this season. Barcelona will now not win the la Liga title nor the Champions League. Barcelona currently trail leaders Real Madrid by seven points in the la Liga, while they were knocked out of the Champions League by Chelsea. However, they are still having the capability to win the Copa del Ray title this season, while Lionel Messi can also win the personal accolade of having the Pichichi award.

Sergio Busquets has said that all the Barcelona players should be focusing on helping Lionel Messi win this title. Sergio Busquets said this statement after the 7-0 thrashing of Rayo Vallecano in Madrid. The huge score also helped Lionel Messi, as the Argentine not only helped himself to 2 goals, but also created four others as well. This has removed any doubts people have had in the player, who missed a penalty that ultimately proved costly for Barcelona in the match against Chelsea. Barcelona will next be taking on Malaga at home on Wednesday.

“The most important thing is the team, but we have to do everything we can so that Leo finishes the season as top goalscorer. He’s broken all the records; he’s the best in the world,” Sergio Busquets said after the match against Rayo Vallecano. There was a real possibility that Real Madrid could have won the title this weekend itself had Barcelona lost against Rayo Vallecano. However, the huge 7-0 win meant that they were able to capitalise on the freedom of having to play without any pressure. Guardiola recently revealed that he will step down as the Barcelona manager following the end of this season.

BARCA CHASING LUIZ

Chelsea defender David Luiz is on course to becoming a Barcelona player after it has emerged that the Catalan club are looking at the possibility of signing the Portuguese defender in the summer for around £ 35 million. David Luiz has been one of the great characters in English football after his arrival from Portuguese club Benfica in the January transfer window last season. He was signed for £ 21 million by Chelsea, but it is thought that Barcelona are willing to pay up to £ 35 million for the defender. Barcelona manager Guardiola has been extremely innovative in his ways to make Barcelona one of the strongest team in the world.

Barcelona have a unique style of playing in the way that they attack from the back. The defence of Barcelona does not rely on its strength to head the ball, but to play the ball from the back. David Luiz is the kind of player who will be exactly suitable for the way Barcelona play. Even though David Luiz has been ridiculed in English football for the way he defends, he could be playing for one of the best teams in the world next season provided they agree a fee with Chelsea for his services. It will be interesting to see if Chelsea will be willing to let go of a player they worked a lot to sign last season.

It is thought that David Luiz is going to be the signing who will eventually replace Carlos Puyol at the back for Barcelona. The 34-year-old defender is coming to the end of his career. He has been injured for most of the season, which has made Barcelona use defensive midfielder Mascherano in his position. The signing of David Luiz will be extremely crucial in this regard for Barcelona.

GUARDIOLA SPECULATION

The future of Barcelona manager Guardiola has come under intense speculation of late. Guardiola’s current contract runs out at the end of the season and he is yet to sign a new contract. This has led to speculation that Pep Guardiola’s time at the Camp Nou has finally come to an end. However, the man who appointed Guardiola in the first place – Former Barcelona president Laporta – has said that the club should allow the two-time Champions League winning manager more time in order to decide on his future. There have been reports that Guardiola is looking for a new challenge after achieving almost everything with Barcelona in the last three years.

Guardiola took over at Barcelona in a difficult time during the history of the club. They were just coming out from the management of Frank Rijkaard, with many players like Ronaldinho at the decline. Real Madrid were top of the Spanish league once again, and Guardiola was handed the difficulties of managing players like Lionel Messi and Xavi. He has more than achieved everything with the club in the three years, which has included three consecutive league titles and two Champions League medals. Guardiola is thought to have made England his top priority when it comes to the next job.

“He’s giving it all as a coach and he will a thoughtful and reasoned decision – and it shall be respected by the club. He always said he would renew every year and he has every right to take time to think before making an important decision. I understand this period of reflection. Guardiola is sufficiently mature and intelligent [to do this],” Laporta told reporters on Tuesday. Whatever happens, Laporta has said that Guardiola will forever be remembered as one of the greatest managers for Barcelona.

MANCINI RUES INJURIES

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has claimed that only Barcelona have the desired squad strength in order to deal with the problems Manchester City have with the number of absentees. Manchester city have not only lost a number of players to the African cup of nations, but they have also lost players due to injuries.

To add further trouble to Roberto Mancini, players like David Silva and Adam Johnson have been extremely out of form in the last few weeks. This has meant that Manchester City have suffered their fifth poor result in the last six matches against Liverpool in the Carling cup semi-final.

This was also the second consecutive home defeat after the 3-2 defeat by Manchester United in the third round of the FA Cup. Now, Roberto Mancini has come out with the excuse saying that Barcelona only can deal with the amount of problems he has been having with his squad over the last few weeks. This will come as a major excuse from the manager, who has spent almost £ 200 million on the first team alone. To add further surprise to his statement, Manchester City also have a reserve squad that is valued at over £ 400 million.

Despite possessing a number of players, Mancini has been complaining throughout the campaign. “Maybe Barcelona could. Manchester City no. In four or five years, Manchester City probably yes. But not now. When I said one month ago that December and January would be the crucial months it was because I know football,” Roberto Mancini said ahead of the match with Wigan athletic. This is quite to be a crucial match for Manchester city given that Manchester United have just drawn level on points with them. Vincent Kompany is going to be unavailable for this match due to his suspension.