28 March 2012

The Competition Committee withdraws Thiago Alcántara's yellow card

The decision means that the midfielder can play against Athletic Club this weekend.

The Competition Committee of the RFEF announced that the second yellow card shown to Thiago Alcántara in the game against Mallorca has been withdrawn. Therefore, the red card that the player received is also void and Barça will be able to name the Spanish-Brazilian midfielder to the squad against Athletic Club.

The appeal for Carles Puyol’s yellow card, however, was overruled. FC Barcelona have decided to not file an appeal to the Appeals Committee. (via FCBarcelona.com)

[Selection] Sabella on Messi: "If he gets four, going for the fifth. Always want more"

The Argentine coach acknowledges that "you always sorprendre Messi, but not expect it."

Alejandro Sabella, Argentina coach, reviewed for the portal LigaBBVA representing a new record of Messi and the time it is Leo, in addition to affirming that Spanish football is experiencing a great time.

On the '10 'Barça, Sabella is happy about her figure and the record of goals scored: "Happy for him, Argentine football is a great achievement. Comes breaking records one after another. Always surprises us, but do not expect it. "The Argentine coach is aware that Messi is unable to be replaced: "Messi does not like off the court. Always wants one more goal. If gets four want to stick five, and if you want to stick five gets six. When the game is defined not want to leave, he always wants more. "

On Spanish football, acknowledged that experiencing one of its best moments: "Spain is very good. There are two teams far from the rest, Barça and Real Madrid. But there are many good teams, and if you see that there are two of the Champions eight in the champions League three of eight, and are world champions, you realize that Spanish football is going through a brilliant ". (via SPORT)

AC Milan - FC Barcelona: Did you know...

Two historic teams in European football will face off in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. The Italians have qualified for the semis 11 times from 14 attempts, Barça have qualified 11 times out of 13 attempts.

Here are all the facts and stats surrounding tomorrow’s quarter-final match:

  • This will be the third match against AC Milan this season. In the first two games, Barça beat Milan at the San Siro (2-3) and drew at the Camp Nou (2-2)
  • The last Champions League tie against the Italian side ended with FC Barcelona crashing out of the competition. It was against Inter Milan in the 2009/10 season (3-1 in Milan and 1-0 at the Camp Nou)
  • The last time Barça faced off against an Italian side in the quarter-finals was in the 2003/04 season. The Catalans were eliminated by Juventus (1-1 in Turin and 1-2 at the Camp Nou)
  • Barça are in the hunt for their fifth consecutive semi-final berth; only Real Madrid have managed to qualify five times in a row in the continental competition (1955/56 through 1959/60)
  • The last AC Milan victory over Barça was on October 20 2004, when the Italians won 1-0 in the Group Stage at the San Siro
  • Milan’s record in the quarter-finals is fearsome. In 14 matches, they’ve won 10 and drew 4. They’ve never lost a game at home in this round of the competition
  • In total, AC Milan have qualified for the semi-finals 11 times from 14 attempts. Barça’s record is superior: they’ve qualified 11 times out of 13 attempts
  • FC Barcelona have won their last six matches away from the Camp Nou in the Champions League
  • Playing in Italy, Barça’s balance is five victories, six draws and five defeats
  • Tomorrow’s most notable absence will be Thiago Silva. The Brazilian scored the equaliser at the Camp Nou in the Group Stage (2-2) this year
  • Mark van Bommel will also miss the match. The player is suspended
  • Both Nocerino (AC Milan) and Carles Puyol (Barça) are a yellow card away from suspension
  • Another ex-Barça player, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, is the player that has committed the most fouls in the competition (22)
  • Leo Messi is the player with the most goals (12) and the player with the most shots on goal (26) in this edition of the Champions League (via FCBarcelona.com)

Barça and Atlético spy on Nico Gaitán and David Luiz

Both Spanish clubs, as well as Manchester United, Tottenham, Juventus and Bayern Munich, Benfica scouts sent-Chelsea played in Lisbon.

Scouts from some of the biggest teams in Europe came yesterday to the Stadium of Light to see live Benfica-Chelsea Champions League quarterfinal, including Barcelona and Atlético Madrid. The Lusa news sports picks today the presence of "media Europa" in the match played between lisboners London, which ended in defeat for the local 0-1.

Manchester United, Tottenham, Juventus and Bayern Munich also sent "spies" to meet, which in Portugal has been linked to the interest that several of these teams from Argentina Nico Gaitan, yesterday holder in the side of the 'Eagles' .

In this regard, it has been speculated recently with the possibility that Barcelona wants to strengthen Chelsea's the Brazilian central David Luiz, who yesterday was one of the most prominent among the "blues", successfully cutting the rush of Lisbon. (via AS)

Barça lived a quiet trip to Milan

Nothing to do with previous trips to Milan. Neither the trip in April 2010 when Barça hit a 23-hour palizón coach because of the ash cloud Eyjafjalia or the 22nd of November.

That day, the club reported that Tito Vilanova was undergoing surgery. This time, the trip to Milan was placid, with the logic voltage of the Champions League, but 'molto happy' Ibra would say, to have Pep's assistant and also with Afellay, which is already back. The game comes at a time results effervescent and so faces reflected.

There was some impact. At the airport of El Prat, Pep had to be recorded on the surface. Iniesta, Piqué and Manel Estiarte had to give up some liquid carried in the suitcase. To Afellay suffered martyrdom.

The president Sandro Rosell and the two officers who accompanied him on this flight, Moix and Bordas, were saved. In the last hours, they added five more: Faus, Cardoner, Monés, Guinovart and Arroyo. About 30 fans signed up for this first plane. The rest of the 1,200 planned will today.

In this small group, Xavi's family, his parents and brother. Cesc's girlfriend and also Cuenca took the suitcase. As the family Iniesta and Piqué.

As there was strike of ground staff, the of Barça coach waited for the players in front of the aircraft steps. The more privileged workers of minimum services that drew their phones. A score of fans were left disappointed. (via MD)

Considered key Barça score at San Siro against Milan

The champion starts at San Siro on the final sprint to Munich with only one goal: winning.
Barça and Milan measure their offensive potential in a duel worthy of the finals top scorer in Europe.

Milan, first port of top flight in the direction of Munich. Barça now faces (20.45 h. / Autonomous) a steep ramp at San Siro. A great match in the quarterfinal round that for the European charm and prestige of the host, would be a good script for the finals.

The champions of the 'scudetto' against the Champions League and the sight and focusing on the goal. Mark will be the priority of both, but will have to sweat. The scenic milanistas wielded his intimidation. The azulgrana, inexhaustible stream goalscorer. A pulse of more than front fenders.

Barça on the horizon, the challenge of being the first title since validates precisely the Milan of Arrigo Sacchi (1989 and 1990) and, incidentally, the dream of hope back to the triplet.

The costumes and the Rossoneri directors try not getting the fear that has gripped the environment. The word fear often comes out in almost all the statements, while Adriano Galliani, its executive president, appeals to the Rambo movies.

Grounds there. Opposite is Barça dosed in their last two games and has recovered, with nine straight wins, their best. Xavi and Alves back, as they did against Mallorca Iniesta, Busquets and Cesc.

The azulgrana now feel powerful and safe to ride a round, sense, will be high voltage electricity. Take a line of three defenses, as in 2-3 in the league, or four and more than likely because Milan has grown, Pep revert to eleven of the occasions.

The tactical combat requires thoroughness and caution. Control the ball, football associations and mental freshness to give the solution in case the local scoring is entrenched. Piqué, will be back, who missed the last times, and Puyol, which caught a superb performance.

The two group matches should not serve as a reference. Neither served in that semifinal round against Inter in 2010. A plague of injuries and any sanctions have hit the locker room seven times in Europe.

Abate, Thiago Silva and Van Bommel, who were in both games, Pato, who scored at the Camp Nou, and Inzaghi will stay in the stands. The low center of a relief to be a basic part in the engine 'Rossoneri'. Nesta will take its place.

Pato is also a break. But Milan will not be a wasted, far from it. Has lost only one match of the last ten. Coach Allegri, for luck, Robinho and Boateng recovered more decisive the first than the second.

Play who you play, Ibrahimovic and Messi will come face to face. It will be a pulse with a certain morbidity between two 'killers'. One, Ibra, scanning the football from its 1.95 high, crosses its best scorer with 27 goals in 32 games.

The other, Messi, from 1.69 of wisdom, is determined to put away myths. After César and with 55 goals this season, Gerd Müller and shakes. Leo has already won the game in November. Ibra also marked. The story says other cracks azulgrana have shone in San Siro.

It reminds Rivaldo, Ronaldinho. Now it's Leo. The business card of Barça warns that in the 50 games of the 2011-2012 season and has three titles to be for another three. (via MD)

The keys to the Milan-Barça

San Siro tonight will host one of the best games that can be seen in Europe. A Milan-Barça from SPORT delves into the hands of the best specialists.

Passed the knockout round of the Champions League, Barça will face no more and no less than against Milan. A history that is getting on track in Europe and try to catch a Barca team that starts as favorite theory in the tie. The two lived history this season in the preliminary stage of the Champions League (2-2 at Camp Nou and 2-3 in San Siro) will be in everyone's memory, but there are nuances and different aspects in a cross that promises strong emotions.

The Milan-Barça will be a clash of styles. The leisurely game of Barça against the intensity and momentum of a brilliant Milan three quarters of a field forward. "The key is knowing who will get to impose the kind of game that suits you," Bruno said Alemany, a specialist in international football Cadena SER.

While Barça will try to "bring out their leisurely game automations and 'living area'"-as noted by Borja Pardo, a contributor to international footballCadena COPE-, "AC Milan party suits schizophrenic round back. An exchange of blows in which expected to win the punch in Ibrahimovic, Boateng and company, "says Bruno Alemany, which coincides with the analyst Carlos Rosende, which highlights that Barça will have to avoid fast transition game," AC Milan, a priori, search grouped behind the ball by lifting its two ends to harm the turnover after FC Barcelona ".

That's where Milan is the most dangerous, that "seek to build on the good set of backs Ibrahimovic to reach second-rate men," as Toni says Padilla, head of sports diari 'ARA'.

"They will try to cut the circuit Busquets-Xavi-Iniesta. These three must move fast and accurate. And if the lost ball Barça will have to carry out an effective pressure and intense 6 seconds if the ball is lost because the transition Rossoneri defense-attack is very dangerous. Probably this is the greatest risk to Valdés, "adds the analyst Marti Perarnau.

The low-Thiago Silva and Van Bommel injury-sanction-weakened defensive milanista a network that already is not one of the strengths of the team Allegri. "Thiago Silva is, right now, the best central defender in Serie A and Van Bommel is the player who, along with Boateng, brand identity of this Milan muscle," says Andrea de Pauli, correspondent for "Corriere dello Sport 'in Spain, and which calls for a defense formed by Mexes and Nesta in the centre-backs, with Zambrotta Mesbah or Antonini on the full-backs.

"With a hard look low so important that Milan can leave a clean sheet in San Siro. It could even fit several goals, "adds Sergio Santomé, partner program 'International Scoreboard' on Radio Marca.

The requirement that defense to put Barça to AC Milan is one aspect that stress analysts polled by SPORT, especially if Guardiola's men are able to offer its best. "The speed of ball movement will be key. This Milan suffers a high rate and if they move the ball and he dominates, he reaches far and has a hard time, "says Fernando Gospel, a specialist in international football Cadena Cope.

"A fast dynamic game is your greatest fear. So try to slow the pace of Barça being aggressive and pushing the ball out, "says José David López, responsible for the website 'El Engage', who believes that the azulgranas would do well not to trust the team 'Rossoneri', in especially in the early minutes of play.

"Milan remains true competitiveness and experience they bring the age of many of its players, but especially large doses of survival. It is able to draw at the Camp Nou with offensive presence only in the first and final minute of play, to harm a Barça with three defenders in San Siro or, having thrashed in the eighth leg of Arsenal, temporize and look without embarrassment the marker stay in London while a goal advantage, "aptly summarizes analyst Daniel Cana

Many attractions and many details. 180 minutes of football ahead in a tie which promises well. In short, the best of the Champions League starting at 20:45 hours. (via SPORT)

[Former player] Van Bommel's children with the Barça shirt

Mark Van Bommel, current and former Milan player of Barça in the season 2005/2006, of the double Liga-Champions with Frank Rijkaard, has come to San Siro to watch the training that Pep Guardiola's men have done before playing Wednesday the Champions League match.

The Dutchman, who will miss the first leg against Barça through suspension, has witnessed the meeting with two of his three sons, Thomas and Ruben, who have become actors to wear T-shirts under their jackets azulgrana. (via MD)

[Selection Under-19] Montenegro 2 - 2 Spain

The first friendly of the National Team in Montenegro resulted in good work of the group to a tough opponent who raised difficulties, "as they will in the future, in the Elite round", as highlighted by the coach, Julen Lopetegui. Denis Suarez and Raúl de Thomas made ​​the goals for a Spain that ended the second half playing with seven players in the generation of 94.

Spain ended with a good feeling the first of the friendly land of his trip to Montenegro. After a first half quite equal those of the second half Lopetegui faced up to seven players in the generation of 1994, which says a lot of young players that are pushing on all categories.

The goals for the Spanish team made ​​them Denis Suarez and Raúl de Thomas, and still could be more, because the opportunities clear of Spain to a tough opponent, as all who come in the next official competition, the Elite round offering the pass the European Championship. The group continues to grow day by day, and must continue to do so in view of that competition, where the level of demand will be highest. Spain will play a friendly against Montenegro again this Thursday, again, at 15.00 in time Spanish mainland. (via RFEF)

[Match Stats]
Montenegro: Kordić, Tatar (Janković), Milošević, Mitrović (Kopitović), Ćuković (Mustur), H. Pepić (Raspopović), Kalezić (Sekulić), Đorđević (Kalačević), Bakić (Boljević), Vukčević and Kordić (D. Pepić)

Spain: Ortolá; Manquillo, Insúa, Puerto (Osede), Varela (García Noblejas); Campaña (Saúl), Ruiz de Galarreta (Bernat); Denis Suarez, Nono (Oliver), Jesé Rodríguez; y Alcácer (De Tomas).

Goals: 0-1 (4') Denis Suárez. 1-1 (9') Dordevic. 2-1 (35') Bekic. 2-2 (90') De Tomás.

The representative of Adriano ruled his move to end of season

Paulo Affonso, representing the Barca full-back, dismisses the latest rumors that placed the Brazilian out of the club from July.

Adriano still at Barça. This was explained by the legal representative of Adriano, Paulo Affonso, in a report published by 'Globoesporte.com', which echoed an official statement by the representative of Barca which categorically ruled out the information that pointed to the '21 'azulgrana would be negotiating an exit end of the season.

"It is true that is negotiating with representatives of another club a possible transfer of Adriano to late season, for the simple reason that the player is good at Barça. Want to continue in Barcelona," he said.

The representative added azulgrana even Adriano's plans go through to stay at Barça a long time. "The player has already had the opportunity to clarify that he was very comfortable in the club and intends to continue his career at Barcelona," he said. (via SPORT)

[Former players] Maxwell and Motta are placed on the skin of the Pet Shop Boys

The two formert azulgranas parked the ball for a few hours and participate in a music video with their teammates.

Maxwell and Thiago Motta continue their process of adaptation to French football after landing in Ligue 1 after the market last winter.

Little did they know that two weeks after signing aparcarían the ball for a few hours to try his luck in the world of music at the microphone.

Both Maxwell and Motta and even current coach, Carlo Ancelotti, are encouraged to retrieve a mythical "Go West" by Pet Shop Boys, with lyrics specially written for the occasion with their fellow PSG.

See Maxwell and Motta singing along with the rest of the staff of PSG:

[Ex-player] Demetrio Albertini: "Barça are favorites against Milan and win the Champions"

Demetrio Albertini, ex player of Barcelona and Milan, discussed the tie between the two teams told the program ComEsports Com Ràdio.

Demetrio Albertini has recognized the importance of the tie between Italian and Catalans, but with nuances. "Every team has the ambition to reach the final, AC Milan- Barcelona is an early end but the same can be said Madrid or Chelsea," he explained.

Well-versed in Milan, the ex Barcelona player explains, "is the first of la Liga, have confidence, enthusiasm has to face the best team in the world that is Barça". But a low can be very important to the Italians, Thiago Silva, because Albertini admits "is a low key for Milan."

About Barça Demetrio has no doubt that "the best team in the world but things are decided in the field. Milan can eliminate Barça, the tie will be decided in the field", in his opinion.

Returning to Milan, Albertini speaks of the great figure of the team, Zlatan Ibrahimoivc. "It is now one of the strongest players alongside Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the world. Ibrahimovic did not win at Barca for its quality but not why Barça game has a different playing style to yours. I think Ibrahimovic will with difficulty Puyol and Piqué. Milan have options to delete the favorite to win the Champions ".

About Barça, Albertini has very clear ideas. "Everybody says, in Barça the first is Pep, following is Leo. Guardiola's style could be adapted to calcium, but need a team to bet on him." And on the future of Catalan coach believes that "a great coach like Guardiola is proving you can decide where to go. I think that Barça is very good."

One of the great Italian friends who keeps his way through Barça is Puyol. In his opinion, the Barcelona captain "can follow a few years at the highest level. Puyi is proving a big crack. I think Thiago Silva has all the quality to play at the club. But I think that Milan will not let go easily ".

Returning to the tie, Albertini believes that "Barça are favorites against Milan and win the Champions League, has everything to lift the Cup again." And in the face of the league, "Barça is pending Real Madrid and that may influence the Champions League qualifiers playing Barça and Milan. Maybe the league could lose Madrid."

Finally, the ex Barça and Milan player think about José Mourinho. "A Mourinho already know it is a great coach but not the style I like. Each one has its own style. I am very different from Mourinho but I say it's a great coach." (via SPORT)

Llorente, "Guardiola is right about Bielsa"

The Athletic Bilbao forward Fernando Llorente, ruled in favor of Pep Guardiola when considering his coach, Marcelo Bielsa, as "the best".

The Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente, acknowledged in the daily 'Olé' evolution Argentine team that the game is experiencing since Marcelo Bielsa landed in San Mamés.

Llorente, held that "the fans are living dramatic moments" and acknowledged that "what is striking is how well the team is playing." "Not only is winning and getting things, but team play is surprising everyone," he added.

The '9' Athletic described as "wonderful" to have succeeded in eliminating Manchester United in the Champions League, and explained that "people in Bilbao is revolutionized, not only here, in Spain and around the world are living beautiful moments ".

But the biggest culprit of the sweetest moment living lions is no other than Marcelo Bielsa, who recently was praised by Pep Guardiola, who did not hesitate to describe the Argentine as the best in the world.

"Guardiola is right in what he says. Marcelo radically changes what you thought of football. You learn a lot from him. It is amazing to see the change that paste from one year to another. It took less than a year together and the growth of the team is brutal "Llorente acknowledged.

The Navarre striker also explained that Bielsa "is a good person and shows his affection. You're seeing the human side: he is very happy in Bilbao", and recognize that there is a before and after Bielsa, Athletic: "It was a radical change since he arrived. "

Llorente, who described the future Cup final against Barça as "a great match," said the Basque team already has "the experience of the game in San Mamés" and "against Barça is never easy." The 'Lion King' also considered that "the end is very very complicated," but encouraged his fans by announcing that "this year we can do that." "We're showing grounds to believe that we can be champions," he added.

The '9' Athletic did not hesitate to consider that can play him as an equal both Barça and Real Madrid. "We realize that, to a party, we can beat anybody. Not easy to play against us: we do it at a pace and brutal intensity. Few teams are accustomed to. And that's one of our primary constituents," he said. (via SPORT)

Allegri: “We're ready”

Massimiliano Allegri, AC Milan manager, believes that his team must have an offensive mindset if they want to have any chance of reaching the semi-finales. “We have to score. I hope we’re learned something, we know how they play more or less. It will be a beautiful match, very difficult on a psychological level,” he said. Allegri also highlighted the importance of “no committing errors” that could aid Barça in creating goalscoring chances.

On the Thiago Silva’s absence, injured this weekend against AS Roma, allegri admitted that he’ll be missing a key player: “He’s a champions and we’ll miss him, but Nesta is in reasonable form and luckily we have other defenders that can play. I’d like to face Barça with a complete squad, but we’re ready.”(via FCBarcelona.com)

Guardiola: “We must play two good matches or we won't go through”

The manager believes that the quarter-final match against AC Milan, “one of the best teams in the world,” will test Barça’s resolve “to perform well in another tie”.
He hopes to “have long spells of ball possession” to deactivate Ibra and the Italian’s offensive play.

Josep Guardiola is aware of everything that surrounds the Champions League playoff that kicks off this Wednesday against Milan. History, tradition and a lot of top footballers at the height of their careers. “San Siro is one of the great stadiums in European football and AC Milan is one of the best teams in the world. In the quarter-finals of a competition like this, with an opponent like this one, you must be aware that have to play two excellent games or you won’t go through,” said the Barça manager.

The Azulgrana manager praised AC Milan’s team. “I expect to see the best Milan. They have great combative play, they’re good in the air, and they dominate long passes, thanks to Ibrahimovic,” said Guardiola. Guardiola said that the ex-Barça player “has a lot of solutions. He’s an important player for them. When he receives the ball, the whole offensive mechanism of the team snaps into play. He’s unbeatable in the air. We must try to deactivate him and AC Milan through ball possession.”

AC Milan and Barça know each other well thanks to the two games in the Group Stage, the first ended in a 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou and a 2-3 victory in Italy. Guardiola talked about Barça’s Group Stage game at the San Siro: “It didn’t go too badly. There’s somewhat of a bad memory of how we played here. It’s true that during certain periods of the game they have more chances than we would have liked, but we cannot forget that they have a team that can create chances. We also created quite a few chances that day.”

Guardiola does not want to look beyond tomorrow’s match, which he considers “more important” than the return leg. He also refused to talk about the possibility of winning the treble: “I don’t look beyond the match against Milan. The year we won the treble I never thought about it. If we don’t win on Tuesday or on Saturday, we can say goodbye to two titles. We have to take this one step at a time.” (via FCBarcelona.com)

Barça returns to the Giuseppe Meazza

Barça trained this Tuesday afternoon in AC Milan’s stadium. The Catalans will play the away match of the Champions League quarter-final tomorrow evening at 20:45.

The first team trained for the first time this Tuesday at the venue for tomorrow’s Champions League clash (Wednesday, 20:45). It’s the Giuseppe Meazza, well known by the Barça squad, seeing the the Catalan team have played there in this year’s Group Stage and twice in the 2009/10 season.

All 21 footballers that traveled to Italy trained with normality, amongst them Ibrahim Afellay, who has yet to receive the medical all-clear. Barça trained with the Champions League official ball.

The training session, which is part of the routine when Barça plays away matches, was watched by Sandro Rosell and some of the directors that travelled with the team. The ex-Barça player, Mark van Bommel was also present. The current AC Milan player will miss tomorrow’s match due to suspension. However, he didn’t want to miss the chance to greet some of his ex-teammates. (via FCBarcelona.com)

[Former player] Ibra, thankful and proud

AC Milan was represented by Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the pre-match press conference. The striker said that his Barça are “the strongest team in the world” and he wishes the Catalan side the best. “I want Barça to win the Liga, I want them to win like I want all my past teams to win.” Moreover, he said he was “proud to have played in the Club.” He preferred not to talk about his departure from FC Barcelona. (via FCBarcelona.com)

Piqué: “The best and the worst is that we know each other well”

The defender explained what he expects from the two-leg tie against AC Milan.
He’s clear: “we’ll see two fantastic games, it’ll be a great tie”.

In the press conference before the Milan-Barça Champions League quarter-final clash, Gerard Piqué talked about what he expects from tomorrow’s match at the San Siro. “The best and the worst thing about this match up is that we know each other. We’ll try to play a good game and it’s clear that scoring away from home is very important in the Champions League.” The defender said that his team “is on form after a managing to securing a couple of wins consecutively” and that Barça will try to impose their style of play from the first minute. “We know that we have the return leg at the Camp Nou, but we have to leave everything on the pitch.”

The Catalan warned that his team’s opponent is “among the best three teams in the history of the sport; of course we can be eliminated. We’ll give it our all. We’ll see two fantastic games, it’ll be a great tie.” Piqué also refused to talk about which team is favoured to go through to the semi-final: “we’re the current champions and they like to give us the mantle of favourite. But that’s not worth anything, you have to show it on the pitch. We have to play at our best to be in Munich.”

Piqué played a superb game and scored the winner in the match against Mallorca this weekend. “More than anything else, I’m sticking with my overall game over the goal, with how I feel personally. The most decisive part of the season is here and I hope I can help,” said the defender. It hasn’t been an easy season for the Catalan: “it’s been a complicated year. I started with an injury and it was difficult to plug into the team dynamic. When I was on the bench, it’s because my teammates were playing better than me.”

Piqué praised the man that he’ll, in most likelihood, have to mark tomorrow, Zlatan Ibrahimovic: “he’s one of the world’s best players. He’s very difficult to stop, he’s a very complete player. He’s fantastic in the air and he’s great with the ball at his feet - we have to be alert and try to deny him the ball. We can’t let him breathe because he’s having a fantastic year.” (via FCBarcelona.com)