16 April 2011

Cordiality between the two presidents

Before the meal of directors, Sandro Rosell and Florentino Perez has spoken to the media. The 'fair play' and hope that tonight's match is a spectacle were the messages of both leaders.

At the Palace Hotel in Madrid the two presidents have spoken openly of el clásico tonight and the other three. The common denominator has been the good words and the desire by two of the four-game football are "a celebration of football and show the players will give us. Football is a game and the 'fair play' must be above everything. "

According to Sandro Rosell and Florentino Perez, the sensations are very good. Both teams come in with a chance of winning three titles. " Laporta added on this point, "we got to this point with the work done by the players and coaching staff."
The maximum Madrid president said that "we must try to make football drama. I think it's a game filled with spectacle and passion. "

The two have not wanted to make a numerical forecast of what could happen. Florentino Pérez said that "I have a dream of winning all four games" while Sandro Rosell be satisfied with winning "next."

Regarding the possibility that tonight's game check the trend of the other three, Laporta stated that "it sure is important, but I can not say whether it will be towards one direction or the other." Florentino has indicated that "football is changing."

Finally, Sandro Rosell has stated that "I do not see any tension in the air, but if someone looks like, I call the two hobbies to be restricted to cheer their team, not aggressive, to play and with the utmost respect to the opposition. " For his part, Perez has stated that "I only hope and fair play together." (via FCBarcelona.cat)

Florentino, "denied any suggestion of doping on Barca"

As usual in all league policies Madrid and Barcelona shared tablecloth on Saturday in the capital.

So cordial but without the exuberance of the appointment a few months ago in Barcelona, ​​Sandro Rosell and Florentino Perez appeared briefly in the media.

"Categorically denied any involvement in the Real Madrid in the case of doping insinuations made by the Cope", hastened to assure the leader of the white club in his first meeting with his counterpart Barca after the controversy over radio station . And remember that the club filed a complaint Friday about the station that claimed by the mouth of one of its reporters from the club had accused white players and team doctors Guardiola to carry out treatment not legal.

Regarding the match, Florentino Perez also said he had "the dream of winning the four clásicos" and dismissed the club made Cup a few days ago by Sandro Rosell, which predicted that his team would beat those of Mourinho by 5-0. "Nobody has been offended," said the president of Real Madrid. "You have to play down everything a bit," he said.

For its part, Rosell, who was much colder than during the previous lunch, argued the need to leave the competition in the field. "This is not longer a game, it is important that fair play prevails," he said. "We will be happy to play. We will try our best to welcome you when you come to Barcelona. We want fans to enjoy," he added.

Finally. about the game tonight, Laporta said: "The sensations are very good, because we believe that the coach and the players have done their homework." (via SPORT)

Sergio, Fontàs, Milito and Puyol, defensive options at the Bernabeu

The injured lower Abidal, the suspended Mascherano and the long time away from Puyol surely oblige Guardiola to seek other options in central defense against Madrid.

Absences are noticeable. Puyol, who on Friday received the ta , and Abidal for weeks that do not play, while Mascherano will miss el clásico League through suspension. It is not a new situation. During the last few games, Josep Guardiola has had to make constant changes in the team's defensive system and this Saturday will be no exception at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Seems secure the presence of Gerard Piqué to the axis of the Barca defense. As companions, Guardiola can choose from several options. The most widely used in recent games has been that of Sergio Busquets. The Badia has performed at a high level in the seven games he has played as central to rivals as demanding as Villarreal, Shakhtar or Arsenal. This option, however, would be a gap in the defensive midfielder with the absence of the suspended Mascherano.

Andreu Fontàs would be an option to play both centrally and in midfield ahead of the defense. This last river has often busy with Barça B, but with the first team has always played in central defense. Against Almeria Mediterranean Games in the stadium, Fontàs teamed with Puyol, providing high performance in both the defensive and outlet the ball. Helped him a great pass for Peter scored the 0-3.

Gaby Milito was a regular at the Bernabeu last season and could repeat this Saturday. In last year's game, Guardiola fielded three plants with Piqué, Puyol and Milito, with satisfactory results. Barca won 0-2 giving a final blow to the League. This year, Guardiola could be realigned to Milito, as he did last Saturday against Almeria or against Getafe on 19 March. The alignment of Milito Sergio Busquets could make happen to play as defensive midfielder in the midfield.

The last option is to Carles Puyol, who on Friday was discharged after 83 days without playing and it would be the big surprise of the alignment if it is finally in the starting lineup. If Guardiola trust him, the two plants would Pique and Puyol, the couple most experienced of the four that Guardiola is now at your fingertips. (via FCBarcelona.cat)

Barça, on the way to Madrid

Barca moved to Madrid where he will face tonight Madrid, with the full team and a large number of managers.

The ship departed around 11am. in the morning to the capital, where tonight faces the first of four clásicos that has brought the timing of this final stretch of the season. One issue which highlights the presence of the captain Carles Puyol, who was discharged from hospital on Friday by the club's medical services.

There is a movement either. Visit the Bernabeu is always a bonus and it was also noted in this morning's issue of the club. For starters, the team traveled to the full. Bojan Abidal, injured, and Mascherano, punished, did not want to stay at home and on other occasions and, despite not playing, have accompanied the team on their trip to Madrid. More than ever it is time to be united.

It was also noted the special nature of the trip in the large entourage accompanying the team on Saturday. Up to 17 directors of the club, all but three moved next to Barca president, Sandro Rosell to Madrid. The club's general director, Antoni Rossich, also traveled with the team.

Laporta was precisely who starred in the picture of the day. And is that on arrival at Barcelona airport Rosell melted into a warm embrace with Carles Puyol. After 17 games, the captain is back and Laporta was delighted with his return. (via SPORT)

The numbers game

By far the two strongest teams of the 2010/11 league season are about to meet at the Santiago Bernabéu, and here we look at some of the stats relating to the game.

► Best home team against best visitor → Barça have not lost a league game away from the Camp Nou this season (13 wins and 2 draws). But Guardiola’s side will be facing a Real Madrid that had won every home game until their unexpected reverse against Sporting a fortnight ago.

Passing versus counter attack → Barça have an average 73% possession compared to 59% for Madrid. The Catalans make 791 good passes a game, while the all-whites make 559. Mourinho’s side is the leader in counter attacks though, with 16 goals scored that way compared to 9 for FCB.

The 15 minutes → Madrid is the most dangerous team in the first quarter of an hour, with 11 goals in that time-span. But they’ll be facing Barça, the only team in the league that hasn’t conceded a single goal in the first 15 minutes.

Since the 5-0 → Both teams have similar records since Barcelona thumped Madrid 5-0 earlier this season. In 18 matches, Barça have won 16 games and drawn 2, while Madrid have won 14 games, drawn 2 and lost 2.

Barça more effective shooters → Barça, have scored 85 league goals from 503 attempts. Real Madrid have had more shots on goal, 596, but the comeback has been less impressive, 72 goals.

Strong defence → Barça keepers Valdés and Pinto have only picked the ball out of the back of the net 16 times in 31 games, while Casillas and Adán of Madrid have been beaten 22 times. Barça have an excellent defensive record, and have only allowed 85 shots on goal, and have only committed 320 fouls. Madrid have received 91 goal attempts and made 425 fouls.

Messi versus Cristiano → Messi has scored 34.1% of Barça’s league goals, and Cristiano has scored 38.9% of his team’s. The Argentinian gets very involved, with 21.2% goal assists, more than twice the Portuguese player’s tally of 9.7%.

Did you know... about the clásico?

The Santiago Bernabéu is the venue tonight for the first of four clásicos in 18 days. There is a host of trivia associated to the game and the following are some of the juiciest nuggets.

First ever clásico in 1902 → Barça and Madrid met for the first time in the semi finals of the Copa del Rey. Barça won the game 3-1. Since then they have played in 209 official matches, with 82 wins for FC Barcelona, 42 draws, and 85 wins for Madrid.

162 League matches → The Bernabéu hosts the 162nd league meeting between the two clubs. Of the last 161, FCB have won 63, 30 have ended in draws and they have lost 68 times.

25th game of the century →This is the 25th meeting of the sides since 2000. Barça are on top with 9 wins compared to 8 for Real Madrid. Seven clásicos have ended in draws since the new millennium started.

Best ever Barça streak against Madrid → FC Barcelona have won the last five clásicos, their best ever run. All have been under Pep Guardiola, who has won every Madrid match as manager of Barcelona. Another in tonight’s game would equal the run of six wins for Madrid between 1962 and 1968.

16 goals for and 2 against → In the last five games with Madrid, Barça have scored 16 times, to just two for the all-whites.

Battle of goalscorers → Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, both on 28 goals, are joint top scorers in the league. The Argentinian has scored 48 goals this season in all competitions and has scored 7 goals and made 4 assists in games with Madrid over the last five seasons.

Messi and Cristiano’s nemesis → The Barça and Madrid strikers both have curses to dispel. The Barça man has never scored against a team coached by José Mourinho. Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo has never scored against FC Barcelona, neither for Manchester United nor for Real Madrid.

Pedro going for 3 in a row → Pedro Rodríguez is the only player who scored in both the last two clásicos. He was on target when the Catalans won 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabéu last season, and also in the famous 5-0 victory earlier this season. (via FCBarcelona.cat)

[Former player] Ronaldinho: "Another triplet of Barca would be best for football

For the Gaúcho, "no favorite in these games, but I'm 100% with the Barcelona can win the 4 duels".

Ronaldinho , FC Barcelona between 2003 and 2008, participated in eight Spanish league clásicos, leaving an indelible mark at the Bernabeu. In its heyday era of football, won the public's archrival even to achieve two goals enormous: "I remember those cheers," explained Ronnie himself speaking exclusively to MD from Brazil, "That was a unique and something I can tell my grandchildren, and my son (Joao), of course. "

Militant now in Flamengo, the Gaucho is getting the boat in the heart and watch out for the four clásicos that will cripple the world. "The truth is I did not see the 5-0 November this year, because I spend nerves and can not take 90 minutes" watching television, he confessed, "but I never miss the summaries with highlights of each match." Messi? He always out there, so I see a lot. I enjoy watching them all! ".

Ronnie is "in touch with my friends from Barcelona" when you can and keep a special souvenir of their passage through the club. "My best moments were spent as Barca. I arrived eager to repeat the successes of the Brazilians who had been before me and fulfilled my dream. At the Barcelona was very special moments."

With Pep Guardiola at the bench again if any and current Blaugrana technical words are directed overflowing love from Ronnie, who left Barca just coinciding with the landing of Pep himself, who called for a clean slate.

"Guardiola is a great person," said Ronaldinho. "He deserves all the beautiful things that are living with the team. I am very happy that you can enjoy it."

Beautiful football, primarily

And as the clásico of tomorrow and those who come after, Ronnie stressed that "in games like these there is no favorite. But I will go 100% with the club and I think he can win all four games, with its fast and attractive football."

El Gaucho even went further, stating that "the best that football can happen is that the club win the treble again and 6 cups." With a smile from ear to ear on his face, Ronnie added that "this way, all that would be good football and play beautiful football can win titles."

Like other Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho who have recently played at the club have 'saudade', or homesickness, the team and his former teammates. MD also were interviewed in their respective cities and offer their thoughts in the coming days, also exclusive. (via MD)

Villa wants to make the best scenario

Blaugrana striker, who won twice in the Bernabeu against Valencia, now has a great opportunity to break his goal drought.

Nothing better than a global stage to break a streak of eight games without scoring: David Villa has not been right in front of goal in recent commitments Barça-accumulates nine games without seeing door, but will play a factor in their favor decisive: the 'Guaje' never goes down, and less in big games. There is more to take a look at his double in the last classico, the 5-0, to verify that Villa is usually held at large.

This first night will tread the Bernabeu as Barça. Probably expect a hostile reception because it could be a Real player and ended up wearing the Barça shirt. Villa knows the Bernabeu and know what life miserable Madrid in their own stadium. At club level, has played eight games (seven in the league and one Super Cup) in addition to his appearances with the national team in the area of ​​Madrid, and his seven visits has managed to score four goals and winning two matches, both with Valencia. Tonight faces another challenge in the win with two different teams Chamartin, which has already made such Dani Alves, capable of consquistar Chamartín with Sevilla and Barca.

His first goal at the Bernabeu was Zaragoza's shirt in his second appearance at Chamartin, in the 2004-05 season. Villa opened the scoring, but the team lost 3-1 Aragon. Retaliated the following year, in his first season at Valencia. He scored the winning goal from the penalty spot and Valencia won 1-2.

But his best game at the Bernabeu was in the 2007-08 season, in Week 29. Valencia won 2-3 with two goals from David Villa, one of them from the penalty spot. Since then, however, could not find the net again at the Bernabeu stadium that he joins a love-hate relationship. Villa's relationship with the crowd Chamartin has never been too thin, when the debate over Raul Gonzalez and his presence in the selection was at its most bitter, was splashing Villa simply for wearing the '7 'on jersey Spanish team to the point that the public ended up seeing him at the Bernabeu as an outsider.

The weather calmed things down and really acted as judge, with Villa as a striker, Spain has been a champion of Europe and the world. When the 'Guaje' has acted as a striker, the stands of the Bernabeu has shown its support, but now the script will change radically to Villa, who scored twice in the 5-0, you will receive with nails and teeth from the stands and will look with special attention from the stage: at the end of the day, Villa came close to becoming a player of Real Madrid in the summer of 2009, when the player was contesting the Confederations Cup South Africa.

Finally, and more than five million euros, Real Madrid and Valencia did not agree. The rest of the story is well known and a year later, Villa was presented in a big way as a player for Barca in the Nou Camp after the board of Joan Laporta pay 40 million euros to Valencia, where the player was thinking I had lost the chance to play in one of the big two. (via SPORT)

Barça arrived in Madrid less tired at the first assault

The eleven ideal of Real Madrid almost accumulates a thousand minutes more than that of FC Barcelona.

In the current football values ​​and calculates everything. Nothing escapes the assessments or retching. Nutritional processes are calibrated, the prejudices of injury or burnout syndrome, the so-called 'burn out'. The minutes played by the templates of the professional teams are also taken into account and hence the renowned rotations. And in this sense, the FC Barcelona faces with more rest than Real Madrid tomorrow's match at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Despite playing two games this season, the Super Cup against Sevilla of Spain, the Catalan team has been able to dispense most staff. It comes to the appointment of the Bernabeu with 996 minutes less load on the team that will play. A further advantage with which the leader will, in addition to the 8 point lead the team out merengue with seven games to the league down the curtain.

The FC Barcelona player has accumulated more minutes so far is the Argentinian Leo Messi (3790). The 'Flea' would have far fewer, but as those who do not want to miss the friendly, took first place in the ranking of effort.

At Real Madrid, Iker Casillas is the player who accumulates more minutes. In fact, he has played practically everything but a league match, one Cup and one Champions. And after the goalkeeper is the star of the white team, the Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo, which adds 3,850 minutes in 45 of the 49 official games played for Real Madrid so far.

In Barcelona there are 17 players that overcome the 1.000 played minutes and in Real Madrid, 15, a test more than the preferences of the technical luso when always having those that more trust has. As for the homegrown (reserve team players), Pep believed much more to them to give 1,865 minutes (has led to 15 first team). Mourinho has given only 65 to the five that you mentioned ... Much difference in the management of staff from one to another technician. (via SPORT)

Pique went to eat before training Shakira

The couple is not hiding and yesterday she was spotted sharing a table in a romantic restaurant in Barcelona.

Gerard Pique received yesterday the visit had been waiting more than a few weeks, your partner, Shakira, after ending his Latin American tour that has lasted a month and a half, has traveled to Barcelona to meet with her guy before you face a more intense phase of his career.

The couple was spotted yesterday in the romantic 'Jardi de l'Abadessa', a restaurant located in the upper area of ​​Pedralbes and used to bring together the elite of the Catalan capital. Thus, Shakira will have it well enough to be near the Catalan side in the decisive stage of the season, as the singer did not start the tour again until 29 April when the European tour starts.

Player and singer and not hide from the cameras and try to take with the utmost ease their relationship. The Colombian throws even nods to Catalan from Twitter when you're away. A few weeks ago, for example, hanged himself in his profile a photo of Gerard hugged her during a break. After the match against Shakhtar in the Camp Nou, the artist sent a dedication to Barca, who had contributed to 5-1 with a goal: "Long live the club and live on 3."

The dates for the singer's European tour will bring Shak in Barcelona on May 29th, just one day after the Wembley final. While Spain will stop at Valencia, Almeria, Madrid and Bilbao, all after the season has ended, so Gerard will not have any problem to be with his girlfriend. The artist's tour ends on June 14 in Paris.

From the noble area of ​​Barcelona Piqué could you explain to the vortex Shakira comes over them, wishing that she too is a talisman that will bring luck in the coming weeks. (via SPORT)

Mourinho goes on the defensive trivote

Real Madrid coach will not run the risks of meeting at the Camp Nou tonight show its most conservative.

Jose Mourinho will be faithful to el clásico style of today and, in principle, with its alignment will be more conservative so as not to be a disappointment as the 29th of November at the Camp Nou. The Portuguese coach will revert to 'trivote', formed here by Khedira, Xabi Alonso and Marcelo, the same way as it did on Wednesday before the Totthenham when he did not want to take any chances after the 4-0 recorded at the Bernabeu .

Marcelo's entry will give more dynamism to the midfield, but Mourinho has no other options because Barn Lass is suspended and injured. Another player who could provide quality in the creation, the young Canales, not even entered the call. The commitment to 'trivote' force Real Madrid coach to leave the bench to one of their offensive players like Kaka or Di Maria. Marcelo adapting to the midfield will also allow the entry of Arbeloa on the right side to stop the powerful gaming bands of the Blaugrana.

For its part, Pep Guardiola will not alter their usual pattern. Will attack as usual with the presence of his best forward composed by Pedro, Villa and Leo Messi. (via SPORT)

El clásico focussed interest in entrepreneurial quoted Mas

Artur Mas wanted to take the pulse of the economy at a time when the great duels Barca-Real Madrid are planning in all areas.

Barca could not miss the appointment that the president of the Generalitat, Artur Mas, held with 180 managers of companies and brands in Catalunya. Through its president, Sandro Rosell, and Vice President Javier Faus, Barca was a participant in the debate which examined the state of the economy and contributed to some of the demands of the business world to revive the market. ESADE Business School hosted a meeting with economic accent.

However, at the end of the meeting, several well known Catalan entrepreneurs confessed that informal meetings during the brief breakfast, the dispute over the four Barca-Real Madrid scheduled for the coming weeks also captured the interest of attendees. And is that Sandro Rosell, Javier Faus were questioned on several occasions to inquire about the status of staff and their own feelings before tackling the final installment in the League Cup and Champions League.

On this occasion, and taking into account the recent precedents, Sandro Rosell not participate in our little 'club' business. Another businessman linked to the soccer world, for Jaume Roures, stood aside as a matter of professional ethics.

By the way, and to avoid frictions and distortions in the official discourse of the meeting, members of the press office of the Government requested that the media challenged attendees to avoid Artur Mas and the other speakers on the details related to the Barca- Real Madrid in the coming days. (via SPORT)

The Madrid press plant Mourinho

After announcing it would Karanka the media would respond to Jose Mourinho appeared by surprise at a news conference. Yes, it was next to her second and did not answer any questions, prompting a boycott by much of the press.

Mourinho decided this Friday morning by handing over to his coach, Aitor Karanka, and do not address the media before facing Barcelona. After warning the Spanish journalists communication department that Real Madrid will not witness the appearance of Karanka and abandon the press room at the time of commencement, Mourinho decided for the first time, when he speaks his second, to accompany him on a wheel press that followed a dozen foreign journalists, as well as envoys from AS and Ball Point.

It is the eleventh time this season that Karanka offers a press conference. His first appearances were when Mourinho was punished or the absence of the Portuguese coach for his trip to Lyon. In the past month, his absences have been by choice.

Without a doubt, is the umpteenth 'show' Mourinho to not talk about football and focus the debate and discussion on other issues such absurdities as this, which undoubtedly will have to talk in the hours before the first clásico of the four will be played between Barça and Madrid in the next 18 days.

[2-Div - LIGA ADELANTE- 34] Recreativo Huelva 1-1 FC Barcelona B

El Nuevo Colombino has witnessed a new subsidiary of Barcelona's sparkling performance. The Luis Enrique have finalized the ninth consecutive day without losing a match in which they sent in the game, although they have been in tow on the scoreboard for long. The pride of youth in the quarry and the effectiveness of Jonathan Soriano have balanced the result.

The subsidiary had a good start, dominating the ball and coming in well down the flanks. In addition, the Recreation has met the initial setback of the central lesion Lamas, who had to be replaced at minute 5. However, locals have been advanced by a penalty committed by and transformed by Pablo Armando Sanchez, on appeal (min 27).

It was conceived by Recre stage, the second fewest goals in the team category. The subsidiary-free Thiago Dos Santos and Bartra, had trouble fighting the strength of the Andalusians, who have had another good chance at the feet of Aitor, in a shot from the edge of the squad that went skimming (min 37). The best of Barcelona B for the first time Benjamin had, but he has escaped the control before the goalkeeper Fabricio.

Although Barca possession brooked no argument, the pace of play was low, as it suited him more to Recreativo. Luis Enrique has sought the turning to the input of Victor Vazquez Edu Oriol on 62 minutes. And thereupon Vázquez himself has warned Fabrizio with a tight shot. Barça B woke up then struggling to connect with Jonathan Soriano. The second top scorer has come when least expected, seamlessly combing the back of the net a side kick.

Far from satisfied, the picture directed by Luis Enrique has continued to insist. She was strong, getting the opponent had to settle in behind retreating to avoid further punishment. Thus, Jordi Masip goalkeeper has become a spectator in a few moments late in the Barça B have not found the depth needed to win the prize of the three points.

[Technical Data]
Recreativo: Fabricio, Córcoles, Manolo Martinez, Andrés Lamas (Mora, min.7), Raúl Cámara; Fidel (Kike Tortosa, min.70), Matamala, Jesús Vázquez, Aitor; Pablo Sánchez (Emilio Sánche,z min. 75) y Acen.

Barcelona B: Masip, Montoya, Armando, Muniesa, Abraham; Sergio Roberto, Carmona (Víctor Vázquez, min.62), Ilie, Benja (Edu Oriol, min. 62), Nolito (Tello min.79) y Jonathan Soriano.

Goals: 1-0, m.28: Pablo Sanchez, penalty. 1-1, m.67: Jonathan Soriano.

Referee: José Ramón Piñeiro Castro (C. Asturias). Admonished local Matamala, Córcoles, Mora and Raul House and Armando visitors.

Incedents: Party for the week 34 match at the Nuevo Colombino stadium before 8,870 spectators. Recreativo Uruguayan player Andrés Lamas was injured in 3 min and was taken to a hospital. Suffers, apparently, an injury to the cruciate ligament in one knee.

Guardiola feels win at Bernabéu still essential

Pep Guardiola is only going to Madrid to look for a win and doesn’t think the eight-point lead means they can afford to speculate.

The day is here. The first of four clásicos in just 18 days kicks off on Saturday night. Pep Guardiola is only thinking about this game and not about ways of dealing with the four games with Madrid in some kind of global fashion. “I’d like to speak to the manager from 1916 to know what you have to do in situations like these, because I’m not really sure”, he said, jokingly referring to the last time there was such a flurry of clásicos in such a short space of time.

The FC Barcelona manager is ambitious about the trip to Madrid, and is not resting on the laurels of an 8 point lead. “We are in the situation where you can lose everything in just one week … you can never go to the Bernabéu thinking it wouldn’t matter if we didn’t win.” Neither will he rest any players, because “it’s too important. We are playing for too much. We’re playing for the league and if we can get a good result it’s a giant’s stride towards the championship … I still get the feeling that if we want to win this league we’re going to have to win at the Bernabéu”.

Pep Guardiola has been hugely impressed by what he has seen of Mourinho and his team since they lost to FCB 5-0 in November. “They are better than they were in the first half of the season. They have often been better than us … they are a very powerful, strong team.” But he added that his own team “is one of the best in terms of positional play, because that’s the essence of this team.”

“Mou has the virtue of knowing how to play lots of different ways” said the Catalan, referring in particular to the European semi final between Barça and Inter. Guardiola added that to beat the all-whites “we’ll have to be very attentive and learn to adapt”.

Shortly before the press conference, it was revealed that Carles Puyol is fully fit and will be travelling to Madrid. “It was a nice surprise for us. He’s feeling no pain, he’s getting no trouble and there is nothing stopping him from moving”. (via FCBarcelona.cat)

Puyol declared fit and all off to Madrid

Carles Puyol has been given medical clearance and joins the list of 20 players that will fly to Madrid on Saturday. Abidal, Bojan and Mascherano all miss the game at the Bernabéu through injury or suspension, but will all be travelling too.

It was not a typical Friday. Having Carles Puyol, now declared fully fit, in the group for training and then hearing the squad list for the clásico raised plenty of expectations. All 18 first teams available for selection were picked along with Barça B’s Dos Santos and Thiago.

The captain has not played since January 22, almost three months ago, in the game with Racing Santander at the Camp Nou (3-0). Puyol was substituted at half time by Piqué and a day later it was revealed that he had damaged tendons in his left knee. After missing 17 games, he is finally back to full fitness.

On Friday he trained with the FC Barcelona squad as normal, and afterwards was given the medical all-clear. And all of that on his 33rd birthday.

The players hadn’t trained in Barcelona since last Sunday. After two sessions and one game in Donetsk, there were 22 players today at the Camp Nou, including 3 members of the reserve team in Oier, Dos Santos and Thiago. This was the final training session before the first of the four forthcoming clásicos with Real Madrid over the next 18 days.

The list
Valdés, Pinto, Fontàs, Puyol, Maxwell, Adriano, Piqué, Alves, Milito, Busquets, Keita, Xavi, Iniesta, Thiago, Dos Santos, Afellay, Pedro, Jeffren, Messi and Villa. (via FCBarcelona.cat)