Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez was heavily linked with a move away from the Catalan club this summer. Several reports suggested that he was ready to bring an end to his Barcelona days, where he has been playing throughout his career, after interest from several clubs in the MLS and Middle East. They were ready to pay the former world and European champion a huge sum of money in order to entice him towards the end of the career. Xavi has not been as influential as he was a few years ago and this has largely been down to his age.
The 34-year-old is fast approaching the end of his stellar career, but he says that he is not ready to leave Barcelona at any point in the future. The midfielder made his debut for the Catalan club back in 1998 and has gone on to make close to 500 appearances in the league. At the prime of his career, he oversaw a revolution started by Pep Guardiola that made Barcelona one of the best teams in the world. He is widely expected to announce his retirement like several other Barcelona stars of recent years – Carlos Puyol – in the coming seasons. Xavi’s decision to stay at Barcelona is a major blow to the likes of New York Red Bulls.
“If it was up to me I’d never leave Barcelona. I could have left many times but my feelings always won out. I told the club that I didn’t want to play for another team in Europe; I didn’t want to play against Barcelona. I would like to end my career here. But circumstances are what decide these things,” said Xavi. Under the leadership of the 34-year-old, Barcelona have once again made a strong start to the season and have won all of their matches until now.
Gerardo Martino has been given the charge of the Argentina national football team. This is going to be his second tenure as manager in international football. He has already had a fairly long run with Paraguay in the past.
Martino’s work as Paraguay boss was hailed by many. He guided the South American side to Round of 8 in the World Cup in South Africa 4 years ago. Los Guaranies also made it to the title round of Copa America under his guidance one year later i.e. in 2011. Continue reading
According to a statement released by Barcelona, Neymar is recovering pretty well from the blow that he had suffered while playing for his country Brazil in the World Cup quarter final round. However, it’s still not clear when the striker would be back to training.
Neymar himself is believed to be willing to make a comeback in the team’s last pre-season match against Leon.
Neymar has already made his way to Barca and he has also gone through a few tests there.
The outcomes of those tests are quite good and that’s certainly relieving news for the Barcelona fans.
Barcelona is going to face Napoli in their third pre-season game this Wednesday in Geneva. One of the new signings of the club, Jeremy Mathieu and the Spanish midfielder Xavi will not feature in that match as they are suffering from slight muscle issues.
Barcelona’s talisman Lionel Messi as well as the Brazil international Dani Alves, who has started training just a couple of days back, are also not going to travel to Switzerland.
Barcelona has already played two pre-season games i.e. against the Spanish club Recreativo Huelva and the French club Nice respectively. They beat Huelva quite easily, but, Nice stopped them on draw the other day.
Barcelona’s first match in the La Liga 2014-15 is against Elche on 24th of this month.
Barca had lost their La Liga crown last season to Atletico Madrid. They would be really eager to get that back this season. They are trying to strengthen the areas in which they had faltered in the 2013-14 Season.
One of Barca’s weak points in the previous La Liga was their defence. It was looking fragile and it got weakened even more when Carles Puyol quit in May after being associated with the club as a player for one and half decades.
Pepe Reina is going through a season long loan deal with Napoli after circumstances with Liverpool got tough which forced him on finding playing time somewhere else and the Italian club Napoli was his ultimate decision.
The Spanish goalkeeper was being considered to be as a possible successor for Victor Valdes in Barcelona as well as being as a backup option for Spain in the upcoming 2014 World Cup.
It seems likely that Reina will not be joining Liverpool for the rest of his career as he already wrote a goodbye letter to the fans of the Premier League club and the veteran shot-stopper expressed his satisfaction about being taken into consideration for a top club such as Barcelona.
“It pleases me that they’re speaking of me as a possible Barcelona goalkeeper, but now it’s difficult to speak about what will happen. I’m happy at Napoli. We’re facing the end of the season trying to reach second place, even if now it will be difficult. But we will not let up. Obviously, there’s also the final of the Coppa Italia, which we have so much desire to win.” Reina revealed.
Unless Barcelona can appeal their recent transfer ban, Pepe Reina or any new player will be able to join the club but the former Liverpool player still said that if feels good knowing that a club such as Barcelona is keeping close tabs on him and they know what he has to offer.
Napoli President Aurelio de Laurentiis is hoping that a permanent deal involving Pepe Reina is done soon as he wants to keep the Spanish goalkeeper performing with Napoli in Serie A.
Ever since Pepe Reina joined Napoli, he has been a consistent starter for the Italian club and has helped them this season on enjoying a fairly successful and impressive campaign as they are currently located in the 3rd spot of the Italian League Serie A.
Ahead of the crucial second leg match with Manchester City, Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino has rejected suggestions that he is not the right man for the job. Questions have been asked about the quality of the Argentine boss, as Barcelona have been going through a sticky patch in the last few weeks. They have lost three out of the last six league matches and it has seen them concede their lead in the league table to Real Madrid with only 10 matches remaining in the season. However, they are on course to reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League after a 2-0 win over Manchester City in the first leg.
It was arguably their best performance of the season so far, as they dominated the match from start to finish. Barcelona do not come into the second leg in the right frame of mind after having lost yet another league match on Sunday. The 1-0 defeat against Real Valladolid has put them four points behind Real Madrid after 27 matches. The team has not been achieving the heights of the last few years. They have been able to come this far only because of individual performances from the likes of Lionel Messi, who is also not hitting the heights of last season.
Rumours suggest that the manager will be sacked if Barcelona do not retain the league title.
“I have to be strong and powerful otherwise I should not be a manager. I am not listening to all of the criticism. I’m not here to express how you should do your work. I have to train my team and make them play better. It’s not an issue of motivation, Barcelona has enough good players to think about being successful this season. I am not here to talk about the criticism. If we play good then the criticisms will change,” said Martino.
Carles Puyol is nearing the end of his career no matter how much fans and players will hate it when he finally decides to hang up his boots. Injuries have been something that has always troubled the 35 years old defender and the Spanish defender has admitted that he would like to play until he was 40 but he doesn’t want to be a disturbance for the team.
Puyol said: “I want to continue playing, but I don’t want to be a passenger. The moment I don’t feel okay, I’ll stop, regardless of my contract.”
In these recent few seasons Puyol is being blocked out from the first team as Gerardo Martino usually opts to go with Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano as the preferred combination at the heart of Barcelona’s defence.
Marc Bartra is another candidate that is fighting to find his place into the main squad of Martino and he is looking to be like a promising figure for the upcoming years.
Vicente Del Bosque revealed not too long ago that Puyol is still being taken into consideration for the upcoming 2014 World Cup as it will probably be his last one as well.
‘’Look, no one, absolutely no one, is currently ruled out for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. And much less Carles Puyol. Carles Puyol is a special case for me. What happens will depend on whether you have minutes on the pitch, whether or not you are playing regularly at your club, how you are at the end of season’’.
‘’Carles and other possible call-ups, everyone. I’ve already told him when he was recovering that we would expect him to sharpen. His recovery has been remarkable for the dedication and effort he has put in’’. Del Bosque stated.
Puyol has a contract that runs up until 2016 with Barcelona but it might end sooner if he is not able to snatch a spot in the starting lineup of the coach.
Lionel Messi might not have won the Ballon d’Or award, but, Gerardo Martino, the Barcelona boss, still considers him the greatest footballer going around at the minute.
The Ballon d’Or award for 2013 was won by Cristiano Ronaldo a couple of days ago and rightly so because he performed much better than Messi last year.
According to Martino, Ronaldo might have been a better performer than Messi in the last 1 year or so, but, if looked overall, Messi is still ahead of the Portuguese.
Speaking in one of his interviews yesterday, the Blaugrana boss said, “First of all, I would like to congratulate Ronaldo for getting the award. He deserved that because he had played well last year. But, as far as the best is concerned, it’s still Lionel for me. Yes, he has had tough times of late, but, there is no one better than him.”
Martino also made it clear that the Spanish centre-back Marc Bartra would be given a contract extension pretty soon.
Martino said, “Marc’s contract is to be extended and I am glad about that. He has developed a great deal in the last few months and he is definitely a star in the making.”
Bartra is a product of Barcelona academy. He had joined the club as 12 years old boy and has been a part of the Barcelona B team as well. For the senior team of Barcelona, he has so far played 23 La Liga matches and has scored 2 goals.
Barcelona’s next match is the Copa Del Rey pre quarter final against Getafe CF. That will be the return leg and Barca will go into it with a lot of confidence because they are already ahead by 4 goals on aggregate.
The list of injured players for Barcelona just keeps on piling up with Daniel Alves being the latest addition. The Argentine superstar Lionel Messi is already confirmed to be out from the playing fields for the remainder of the year while Victor Valdes and Jordi Alba also picked up an injury that will leave them in the sidelines for an undetermined time lapse.
The medical staff reported that Daniel Alves will take between 7-10 days in making a full recovery.
Barcelona are topping the Spanish league La Liga with 37 points just 3 points ahead of Atletico Madrid and their rivals Real Madrid sitting in 3rd place with 31 points. This means that any kind of slip up from the team of Tata Martino can be the difference in being at the top of the League or falling behind.
Lionel Messi received the Golden Shoe award for the 3rd time on Wednesday after scoring 46 goals last season becoming the 1st player ever to accomplish this task.
“This is a beautiful award that goes to the entire squad for what it has done. It is recognition of the Barcelona dressing room and of all that the team has been doing all year,” Messi said. “It is a group award more than an individual one because those are a lot of goals. I wouldn’t have won it without them, this one or the previous ones.”
It seems however that the Golden Shoe award came at a high price for Messi as he being burdened by injuries in this season only allowing him to score 8 goals in this season and not gonna be able to play up until January.
Even though Barcelona will have to play without Messi and Valdes, Tata Martino is confident his team can cope with their absence.
“We will be without the best player in the world and without the best shot-stopper in the world, but I have little doubt that we will cope without them. We have some great players to replace them,” the Barca coach stated at a press conference.
Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino has come under criticism in recent weeks for the different style of football that he has been trying to implement at the club. Barcelona are widely known around the world for the passing stellar football while they keep possession for long periods of the match. They are even known to have in excess of 70% possession in some matches. However, the club recently had a match where they kept less than 50% of the ball for the first time in five years. Despite winning the match against Rayo Vallecano 4-0, Martino has come under a lot of criticism.
He has responded to this criticism by saying that it is normal that any manager of Barcelona who is not one of their own or isn’t of Dutch origin is going to be criticised. He has pointed out to the statistics where Barcelona kept 66% of the ball last season. He has said that this is the average position of the club has been 65.8%. So, he feels that the criticism of his managerial abilities is not right at this stage especially when Barcelona are at the top of the table with a perfect record. Martino stated after the Rayo Vallecano match that he wanted Barcelona to have a different dimension as well.
“We don’t want to change anything. Last year Barça had an average of 66% and now we’re at 65.8%. He said that each game needs to be analysed to see if it is essential to keep possession or not. Possession is very important for Barcelona. It was for Newell’s too. But it’s true that you need to look at the characteristics of your opponents, at previous games, and if the same coach is still in place,” said Martino in response to the criticism in recent weeks.
Barcelona recently parted ways with manager Tito Vilanova due to the health concerns of the former assistant manager. He had been a manager at the club for only one year during which time he helped the club lift the la Liga title. However, his issues with cancer meant that Vilanova had to resign from his job by saying that he would not have been able to give 100% to the club. This left Barcelona looking for their second manager in a year. They have managed to bring in Gerardo Martino as his replacement. The Argentine coach has signed a two-year contract with the club.
Martino has been hugely successful coach in Argentine football and he is right now in charge of Newell’s Old Boys. He helped the club in the Argentine title last season. It is believed that the Spanish club managed to confirm his appointment after conducting a video conferencing call. He is set to sign the papers and he will be arriving in Barcelona shortly in order to do so. This is not the first time Barcelona have gone down the route of appointing an Argentine manager. This, however, will be the first job outside the South American continent for the 50-year-old manager.
“We know about his career, he is a very good coach. He likes Barcelona’s playing style. I think all the names mentioned are capable of coaching this team. We have a certain way of playing; a philosophy. The coach that comes in will follow that line and I’m sure that Zubi (sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta) and the directors want a coach that can adapt to our characteristics,” said the Barcelona captain, Carlos Puyol about the new manager.
Martino will have to win the league title and also the Champions league in his first season at the club.