24 May 2012

Amor: "Pep deserves ending a title more"

"We can see a totally Barça eleven of the house. This season has been almost full."

Guillermo Amor, head football coach of Barça training, said in the first edition of the 'La Graderia', ONA FM, that "Pep (Guardiola) ending deserves a title more", referring to the Cup final Friday that his team played against Athletic in the Calderón.

The ex player of the legendary 'Dream Team' of Cruyff believes that azulgrana should not be entrusted to the second team with more League Cups. "Barça is playing well, but the Athletic lost the final of the Europa League and will want to win."

The Alicante has emphasized the idea of both football teams. "Barça and Athletic love for his philosophy. Will be a very nice end of the kings of Cups. Has to believe in this philosophy, but mostly work from small to reach the goal of the first team to be fulfilled."

Amor notes that "in the current squad are eleven players in the home. A dream to see a Barça in the final with a 'once' entirely from the cantera? Do not know if this is the dream, but we could see a team only with players of the house at any party. "In order to give this circumstance, Guardiola should change during the game to Pinto, presumed owner despite his sprained ankle, by Víctor Valdés.

The coach of the 'pedrera' remembers that "in fact, at some meeting of the season, we have almost seen a Barça virtually full ofcanteranos in the team are players who are in the elite, are the best players in the world and we may presume that the best player in the world (Messi) is the cantera. " (via MD)

[Ex player & coach] Cruyff: "With Tito have to wait and then say"

The ex Barça coach Johan Cruyff calls for calm when assessing the work of Tito Vilanova in an interview in 'El Periódico', while Guardiola believes that closes a cycle.

"Comparisons between Guardiola and Tito? Have to wait to start, to do things and then say if it goes well or less well," Cruyff said one who sees that from the beginning and "are sowing doubts" about Tito from the environment "as with Pep, although it had the blessing of people who could support you. "

Cruyff insists that "environment" weird being created around the technical difficulties of assessing the team's chances next season. "The team has quality. It has everything. But I suspect that is a circus that should be avoided," said the Dutchman, who does not understand, for example, that prompted the current players if they think Tito can do well.

The farewell of Pep Guardiola as Barça coach supposed to Johan Cruyff, a cyclical change in the club, though not strictly football. "Not just a cycle in the field, but what is around the environment. Ends a cycle that began outside the locker room with Laporta and his people, with Txiki, with Rijkaard, with me and continued with Guardiola. Not talking only football, but about people and behavior, "he said. "With Guardiola cycle ends and another begins, and I say in the negative. Has been found who was in command he was. Who is sending now? We'll see how it goes."

Finally, also spoke of the Cup final between Barça and Athletic. A final Guardiola may allow close her cycle in the best way possible with a title against the same opponents against which succeeded the first. "Football has these things. It's fate. Will be nice to close the loop gain," he said Cruyff. (via SPORT)

Guardiola and Vilanova seek Copa del Rey final perfect

At his last big game together, Guardiola and Vilanova design their tactics trying to stop a grand finale to remember.

1. Much more ball possession than the opponent, who also wants
Barça always wants the ball, but Athletic Bilbao also intends to own it. So tomorrow's game staged a relentless struggle for the ball.

Barça makes the possession of the ball a security attack and wear the opponent, but also insurance against risks. Because while you have the ball does not have the opponent and can attack and hurt him.

The logic is that tomorrow, on the lawn of Calderón, Barça have the ball over Athletic, but it would be very important to minimize the Basque possession for its 'players' De Marcos, Susaeta, Herrera and Muniain not have too many options to create danger.

But in addition to having the ball must finish the plays. Barça has sinned in some games of not completing their attacks and now a slogan is trying to end every possession inside-half with a pass or shot.

2. Remove the ball played from the back to lengthen the Athletic
In the final between Barça and Athletic de 2009, Guardiola asked to bring forth Piqué and Puyol played the ball from the baseline, glued to Pinto. It was a tactic that caused more than a tachycardia between the culés, but which served to create open spaces and gaps in the defense system raised that day by Joaquín Caparrós. And is that the Athletic forwards pressured the central hollow culés and left behind for 'toilets' azulgrana.

Now, before a press Athletic much above tactics will also result in part because they bite and leave spaces behind them. Bielsa Athletic aggression is similar to that of Caparros, faithful to the historical label of 'lions', even begin to defend far more away from their own goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz. Breaking the first line of pressure-cleaned Barça-Athletic, a clásico.

3. Drives ball to overcome the man marking
The arrival of Bielsa Athletic has led many of his players to man mark the rivals. The matches of the Basques against Barça have left images revealing that each of the Athletic players and the front half 'encimaba' a ​​couple of Barca and always jump to push him receiving a ball.

The best antidote is dribbling to your score, break the dam and create superiority in other areas to advance the ball. For that, Piqué, Busquets, Iniesta and Xavi will be key at Barça.

4. Leverage strategy
A final Guardiola has never frightened or Villanova to pull the board. In the final of the Champions League at Wembley in 2010, a lack of laboratory was about to end up in Pedro's goal against Manchester. Depending on the difficulty of the game, any action set pieces can decide the final.

So we will be with the five senses to exploit the faults near the area, the direct and indirect, always dangerous with the addition of Piqué and Busquets. The same is true of the corners, which this season have taken much less shorter than other years.

5. Corners and misdemeanors cercadel area, not
Marcelo Bielsa has enhanced the Athletic touch football, but has not neglected at all of the historical virtues of this team, which has always enjoyed the game live and pieces. The experience of the end of 2009 is shown. Toquero scored the 1-0 in that final to take a leap ahead in the corner with a header that beat rogue Pinto.

The stature and good arrival of Llorente and Javi Martinez Amorebieta technicians invite culés to ask his players to avoid as much as possible to give corners and near misses to the area. This year in the league, also Llorente scored with a header. (via MD)

Pep Guardiola, in its Title 14

Cup final can close the chapter of the trophies on the stage of Guardiola against the same opponents who inaugurated.

The 'Pep Team' may give Pep Guardiola his fourteenth title in the farewell of the stage Barcelona coach on the bench azulgrana. To date, eighteen titles held thirteen Guardiola played. One more rounded and full of mystical figure: fourteen was worn by Johan Cruyff back, one of the leading and inspiring large Pep, and fourteen titles may be held out of a total of nineteen possible.

Whether Barça beats Athletic and Cup champion is proclaimed as if it is in thirteen crowns, stage Guardiola will have been extraordinary and full of unforgettable moments: from the end of the curse of the Intercontinental, the victory in two World Clubs, up to two humiliations at Madrid 2-6 in such an important date as May 2, and 5-0 days no less significant, November 29, the anniversary of the founding of the Barça. Not forgetting paths displays against Manchester United which accounted for two Champions.

Guardiola's Barça dominated in Spain and Europe, winning the triple-six trophies in the same year, 2009. Domestically, the three have joined League Cup and three Super Cups, the last one against Madrid of Mourinho, the day the Luso portrayed himself as a coward attacking Tito Vilanova and putting a finger on the eye. Mou that day disappointed many people as a person and made much larger Guardiola and Barça.

Pep In Spain no longer win three titles: Cup 2010 to be eliminated by Sevilla, future champion, the 2011, losing in overtime in the final against Madrid and the last league, also against the Madrid of Mourinho , who has won twice against Barça five wins azulgrana and four draws.

At Europe the Madrid of Mou also a victim, particularly in the semifinal of 2011, which opened the doors of Wembley, where the consolidated group stage Barcelona domain started in 2006, six Champions League semifinals in the last seven years, five of them consecutively.

In addition to the Champions, 2009 and 2011, the 'Pep Team' international left two European Super Cups very worked and, above all, two Club World Cup: the first, dramatic, against Estudiantes de la Plata, the goal from Messi with the shield, and the second, before the Santos Neymar, which marked the consecration of the Barça football to the world. Fourteen titles may be, but if they stay in thirteen the legacy of 'Pep Team' is huge. (via MD)

Calderón's grass already shines

On Tuesday and yesterday was placed had a good appearance helped by the sun.

It would have been joking that Coldplay, the English group that sounded both at the Camp Nou in his first season, spoiled the final game of Pep Guardiola, FC Barcelona.

The concert on Sunday at the Vicente Calderón before 55,000 faithful, with a stage and giant waterspout included, left the logical consequences in the grass, but Atlético Madrid has worked quickly and effectively to deliver to la Real Federación Española de Fútbol (RFEF) a pitch in very good condition.

If there are unforeseen and not expected storms or anything, Guardiola may still have good memories of Coldplay when I leave the bench azulgrana, especially if his team wins the trophy tomorrow against Athletic.

The transfer of power between club rojiblanco and the Federation was held yesterday afternoon, and 4,000 square meters with new grass placed on the most affected area (just under half field goal in the Northern Fund).

It is sod 220 4 centimeters thick in rolls 15 meters long and 1.20 meters wide. They arrived on Tuesday from Cáceres with the mediation of the Tapiz Verde supplier and EMAL, the company responsible for the work. Late on Tuesday and was covered the entire surface and throughout the day yesterday was irrigated and treated to lift as little as possible during the game.

The conditions of the Vicente Calderón, with moisture in the Manzanares river cooling the pitch and fully open to the entrance of the sun, which yesterday hit relentlessly makes the grass more quickly take power in other arenas, such as the Camp Nou , where the problem areas are bleak. (via MD)

Guardiola bet on the best team

The coach has very little doubt about the side that must win the title was number fourteen of Pep.

Barça is used to playing finals, but not play tomorrow which is still important. There are many reasons that prevent relaxation in the computer, in turn, imposed to the last drop of blood to win the title was number fourteen of Pep Guardiola. Santpedor coach leaves, but before the last has yet to make eleven, attending his last two press conferences and, if need be, to be blanketed by its staff. All that is left to the coach.

His players will stay. Not all, but most do. For those who do not will be a last service to the shield, but it can be a coach. There are two ways to leave and, although none of them will change nothing lived, winning the Cup would leave a taste sweeter than do the opposite. Pep is aware of this and will not deviate one iota from the path taken so far. It is not disputed or how to play or the like. Barça will go on the attack, the more goals to do better and imposed from the first minute to its rival. All this will make the team than Santpedor considered harder to measure the set of Marcelo Bielsa.

Considering that during training has proven the back four, it seems unlikely to be present at the Vicente Calderón with three back. Moreover, the impossibility of alienating Dani Alves, injured, gives you less options for it. Its position in the field will be occupied by Martin Montoya. Al has not Viladecans pulse trembled whenever he has supplied and fulfilled by the weight. The canterano is a physical marvel and similarities, keeping the distances gives the age and experience, many with the Brazilian. Touch as little as possible the starting rate is to change piece by piece and in this case, the guarantees are full. Pinto has exclusive place in goal. This has been explained that I have always wondered why Guardiola and they also understood Víctor Valdés believes that the Port de Santamaria is the right man for this match. The Andalusian goalkeeper has played everything in this competition and know what is earned. It was Pinto who did it, to be key in 2009, also against Athletic.

The defense, in addition to the presence of Montoya, would be formed by Piqué, Mascherano and Adriano. The low of Puyol, Fontàs and Abidal not lead to doubt or speculation. In addition to the reliability of Mascherano and Adriano, Piqué has the possibility of ending the season with good feelings. This week, at a press conference, said she makes the team better note to himself and to the Athletic can raise. If Gerard gives his best football, the title is a little closer to Barça. (via SPORT)

Suspended travel to Qatar

Due to scheduling problems of the Qatari royal family, is suspended institutional trip planned for next week.

FC Barcelona has suspended travel to Qatar that azulgrana had to make an expedition on 28, 29 and 30 May this country. At the same contained, among others, the president Sandro Rosell, Vice President Javier Faus, the director Andoni Zubizarreta and technicians Pep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova.

MD has been told, the journey of an institutional nature and related to the conventional with Qatar Foundation, has been suspended due to a scheduling of the royal family of Qatar. FC Barcelona will soon offer more details. (via MD)

[Former player] Marc Crosas: "Santos would like Barça in Mexico"

Marc Crosas arrived, played and won the title with Santos Lagoon, to take the post like heir of the Spanish glories that seven decades ago Isidro lit Lángara with the club Spain in the then nascent Mexican league of football.

Born 24 years ago in Sant Feliu de Guixols, Girona province, Crosas celebrated with a Senyera (flag of Catalunya) the title in a feat that took the trail of the Spanish players who have crossed the ocean to play and retire in Mexico.

Crosas signed with Santos in early 2012 and had little involvement in the regular season, highlighted in the final round of the Clausura, which his team beat Monterrey 3-2 on aggregate.

Player made ​​in La Masia of Barcelona, Crosas played in 15 of 21 matches Santos and went to watch from the bench the first part of the tournament to be played over and at the end of a holder of the highest order.

The midfielder had already held before the League 1 title and League Cup in France with Olympique Lyon (2008) and the League Cup in Scotland with Celtic Glasgow (2009).

"I came to win titles, to continue to grow, to try to be better every day, and try to learn from the great companions. In my career I have been privileged to be with great players, now does not change, I have the opportunity to learn by example of (Juan Pablo) Chato Rodríguez is a very experienced player who still has much to give, but hey I have much to learn in my 24 years, considering that he is in my same position, "said Crosas to 'Récord '.

Asked if the Santos could be compared to any team in the league of Spain, the former Blaugrana said: "I believe not only in football performance, but for social work, the environment, I think they work very similar to Barcelona, is a very great many people, but no longer a family club with a great motivation to help people and listen to all options. would like Barça in Mexico, keeping proportions in that sense, I have met a club inside and the other, and in structure are very similar. " (via SPORT)

Rosell and Vilarrubí gave condolences to Florentino Pérez

The Barça president Sandro Rosell and Vice President institutional Carles Vilarrubí joined in sentiment Florentino Pérez after the death of his wife.

The death of Mari Ángeles Sandoval 'Pitina', wife of Florentino Pérez, the 65-year-old has joined in sentiment leaders Real Madrid with his counterpart azulgranas, who suffered on Tuesday the loss of his wife after a long illness.

Rosell and Vilarrubí traveled to Madrid on Wednesday and expressed his condolences in person Florentino Pérez who also kept a good friendship.

They were the only persons who gave their condolences to the leader Real Madrid. From the first hour, the chapel of 'Pitina' in the morgue of the M-30, became representatives of the history of Real Madrid, whether its football section of the basketball.

Among those attending were the president of honor of the club, Alfredo Di Stefano and the tenor Placido Domingo, the entity closely linked to Madrid. Both current players of the football staff as Esteban Granero and Antonio Adam and the basketball with Felipe Reyes, Sergio Llull and Jaycee Carroll, and their respective technical, Portuguese José Mourinho and Pablo Laso, wanted to be present in these sad moments .

With them, many ex players of the club as Jose Martínez 'Pirri', Ignacio Zoco, Paco Gento, Fernando Hierro, Portugal's Luis Figo, the Montenegrin Pedja Mijatovic, Rafa Rullan, Emilio Butragueño present CEO of the club, and France's Zinedine Zidane, the first team manager, among others.

Also present were other soccer officials as the president of Atlético de Madrid, Enrique Cerezo, and Getafe, Ángel Torres, as well as Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz.

The world of politics wanted to show his condolences to President of Real Madrid and there were several ministers who attended the funeral, as the president of the Community of Madrid, Esperanza Aguirre, or several former ministers with José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero as their vice President José Blanco.

VIDEO: www.sport.es

Xavi: "A whole wardrobe that Guardiola would have liked to continue"

FC Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernández acknowledged that the staff wanted Guardiola had followed a year.

Speaking exclusively to ESPN, Xavi admitted his surprise at the final decision taken by Pep Guardiola but in turn the support that has given him and other colleagues: "I was convinced he could follow a year but has their explanations and reasons for leaving. know that the costumes are with him to death and we would like everyone to continue another year, "he said.

However, Xavi admitted that he was contacted by telephone with Pep at the time to ask him to stay "because it is a very private person and very introverted." Nevertheless, the Terrassa supports the decision taken by Santpedor: "It's in his role as coach and we want the best for him."

The midfielder knows that Tito Vilanova company "will be difficult" because Guardiola sets the bar very high. "This has not gotten any team in history," said Xavi, before adding: "We can not guarantee titles, but we're going to fight and put all our efforts and our desire to continue to reap titles for Barça".

For Xavi Hernández, the Copa del Rey would be a good conclusion to a season that could be better. "It started fantastically well with the two Super Cups, Spain's and Europe's then went to the Club World Club Cup, we compete very well against Santos. Then yes, there were two disappointments: the League, that got away at home with the Madrid , and bad luck we had in the Champions League with Chelsea, which everyone saw, because we were above the two games. We have not had that amount of luck we've had for the past three years, "said Xavi to ESPN.

And he avoided ruling on the expansions of José Mourinho's contract with Real Madrid until 2016: "The truth is that we set bit, because obviously it is our eternal rival, but we try not to look anywhere else. We have done very well by looking door in and we must continue in this line. " (via SPORT)

[Barça B; Liga Aderante; Week30] Guadalajara 2 - 0 FC Barcelona B

Iván Moreno and Jonan quickly scored to give the home team a 2-0 advantage.

With 2-0 on the scoreboard, Sergi Roberto had two of the best chances of the match to pull one back.

Rubén Miño, who stated against Guadalajara, was back on the pitch for the first time in 227 days.

Barça B were once again made to pay for their slow start. Just like on Sunday away to Numancia, the team led by Eusebio Sacristán quickly trailed by 2-0 to Guadalajara. The early goals from Iván Moreno and Jonan condemned Barça B who, despite dominating from the 20th minute onward, never gave the sensation of being able to overturn the adverse result. However, there was some good news: Rubén Miño was back in goal after 227 days of not playing (his last match was on October 8th 2011 against Alcorcón).

With today’s defeat, Barça B have now lost three consecutive matches. The team, in the 11th position of the table, have mathematically secured their spot in the Liga Adelante with 53 points, however.

The start of the match could not have started off worse for Barça B’s interests. The home team scored, through Iván Moreno, in their first play close to Barça B’s goal. The Guadalajara player took advantage of a lose ball near the Barça defence and unleashed a powerful shot that was simply unstoppable for Miño. Guadalajara went on to score five minutes later. Moreno, once again, was the man that orchestrated the play that led to the home team’s goal as he fed the ball into Barça B’s area from the right wing for Víctor, who beat Miño on the far post.

The home side had two more good chances to score before the 20th minute. However, from that point on Barça B started to take control of the match. The best chance for the Azulgranas before the half was from a free kick taken by Sergi Roberto that went just wide of Guadalajara’s goal.

At the start of the second half Barça B continued to control the match. However, with ball possession securely in Barça’s favour, the Catalans were struggling to create goal-scoring chances. The best chance was, once again, Sergi Roberto’s. The player took a free kick inside the Guadalajara area due to a deliberate pass back to the keeper who picked the ball up. Saizar later did well to deny Rosell’s header, and, in the last minute of the game, the referee called back a Barça B goal. The ball simply didn’t want to go in. (via FCBarcelona.com)

[Match Stats]
Guadalajara: Saizar, Moreno, Barral, Gaffoor, Rodri, Javi Soria, Jony, Víctor (Gerard, min 51), Jonan, Iván Moreno (Cristian, min 62) and Aníbal.

Barça B: Miño, Kiko, Balliu, Sergi Gómez, Muniesa, Gustavo Ledes (Rosell, min 71), Lobato, Sergi Roberto, Rafinha, Carmona (Planas, min 83) and Rodri (Espinosa, min 58).

Goals: 1-0, Iván Moreno (min 9); 2-0, Jonan (min 15).

Referee: Piñeiro Crespo.

Zubizarreta: "We’re really excited about the Cup"

Barça’s Director of Football has complete confidence in the style of football developed under Pep Guardiola and insists that it will be maintained in the future, starting with this Friday’s Cup Final.

He’s looking forward to the match against Athletic Club and believes that the policy of developing home-grown talent is “a marvellous legacy left by Pep”.

Director of Football Andoni Zubizarreta spoke to Barça TV about the upcoming clash with Athletic Club. In an interview with Sandra Sarmiento, the Basque Country born former goalkeeper spoke about the last Cup Final between the two clubs, Athletic Club manager Bielsa, the relations between the two clubs, Abidal’s progress and Guardiola’s farewell.

He won three Spanish Cup Finals as a player, two with Barça and one with Athletic Club. In his role as Director of Football he has already won six trophies but he has yet to win a Spanish Cup.

Andoni Zubizarreta, were you at the Mestalla stadium in 2009?
"Yes, I was. I went with my children and I got the tickets from a certain Mr Guardiola, the manager of FC Barcelona."

What do you remember about it?
"I remember that when Toquero scored, my daughter and I jumped up to celebrate and when Touré Yaya scored it was me and my son. In the break, which came just three minutes after the equaliser, I felt as if my brain had split into two. On the one hand I felt the joy of celebrating a goal but I also felt I was celebrating a goal being scored against my team! It was a big contradiction. The second half sorted things out and the score was more obvious and from that point on we just enjoyed the football”.

The 2009 final was the beginning of the Guardiola era and on Friday it will end. Do you feel that it was the beginning of a marvellous story?
"Yes. I remember the chant of ‘Cup, League and Champions League', which was the 'leitmotiv' of the final. I remember the fantastic atmosphere: excitement, emotion...the fans really identified with the team and had the feeling that something fantastic could happen. Everything that happened after that is down to Pep and all the players”.

I remember Pep in the tie against Chelsea a few weeks ago. He spoke about that beginning of 2009 as a Barça love affair. Do you have the feeling that this love affair is still alive?
"Yes. I think that there’s a belief in the idea, in the way of playing, in the way we go into matches, in the idea that ‘if we’re not sure then we attack’, in wanting to dominate games...and also the fact that our fans are convinced this is the way to play. The response of the fans when we played Chelsea and Real Madrid shows us that they are happy with what the team is doing. Obviously we want the team to win and we want to collect the Cup this Friday in the Calderon.

I don’t know whether the 2009 Athletic Club and the team today have much in common or not. There were players who watched the match from the stands and on Friday might be in the starting line-up. But the big change is Bielsa. Bielsa has transformed this team.
"Because of its philosophy, Athletic Club usually has a very stable squad. It’s true that a generation of interesting young players has come through, plus a few signings this season such as Ander Herrera. But it’s also true that the manager has given them a new profile, a way of playing, a personality that is very well adapted to the philosophy of the club. A team that attacks, that wants to be in charge in every game it plays and that fits in really well with the fans and the club. Also, he’s given the players a plan, a style of play that they feel comfortable with”.

Would Bielsa be a manager that could adapt to Barça?
"He’s a man with a big personality and in that sense he would adapt well to our Club. But then the way he sees the game – the individual making the team effort greater – I don’t know if it would fit in exactly in a Club like Barça. I have the feeling that Bielsa is in exactly the right Club for what he asks from a team”.

Athletic Club last won a trophy 28 years ago with Zubizarreta in goal. How do you remember that day?
"It was a final against Barça and we won 1-0. It was a really tense match but it was such a joy to win the League and Cup, as doing the double was a fantastic achievement. I remember the passion of our fans because it was a really dark time in the Basque Country. Winning the title was a ray of light in a very dark space”.

You say that you wish the final minutes of that match had never existed. Now, however, the relations between the two clubs are fantastic. In 2009, for example, the fans got on really well. What’s changed?’
"They were tricky times for us then. We had just come from Shuster’s injury in San Mamés and then, the following year, Maradona, and all that ended up poisoning relations. As a team, we were competing with the top clubs and we were direct rivals, which generates even more tension. I remember that they insisted we came to the tribute match for Artola and Olmo, and that helped to bring the situation back to normal”.

And also that Julio Salinas and Zubizarreta signed for Barça. Perhaps that made the link a bit closer.
"Yes, to the famous Dream Team which I called Eusko Barça. We had a lot of people like Valverde, Julio, Bakero... From that point of view people like having players they can identify with directly. That helps to bring people together. But I’ve always thought that the relations between the two teams, except at that particular time that we mentioned earlier, have been good though demanding”.

What does it feel like, from the inside, the fact that it seems like the season has finished but in fact there’s still a title at stake?
"It’s not simple. It’s caused us a deflated feeling that, sometimes, you don’t know how to manage, how to maintain the impetus. You cope by concentrating on training and knowing how to focus when it’s time for the important stuff”.

Does this Cup motivate?
"We’re really motivated. And the Barça fans too, despite the fact that many things have happened since the last league match. But in the end we’re all united by football. And we all want to experience the atmosphere of the final”.

Here you get the feeling that people aren’t talking about the Cup Final much. In contrast, there’s a great atmosphere surrounding it in the Basque Country.
"The passion of the Athletic Club fans is extraordinary because the team doesn’t get to finals very often and the fans really get excited when they do. But I’m sure our fans are just as excited. If anybody thinks Athletic will be less motivated, they’re wrong. That isn’t in their character because they treat every match as unique. We have to be aware that it will be a special moment and we’ll experience it that way”.

Given that there are so many defenders missing will the priority be to maintain possession so as to not suffer?
"Yes it’s true that we have players missing but that’s football. We have a competitive team and we’ll set out our stall and plan the match in a way that we think we can attack and hurt Athletic. We’ll take them on and try and win; that’s our idea”.

One of the benefits of bringing through players from the academy is that everyone has faith in the youngsters that have to replace the missing players and people feel confident.
"That’s one of Pep’s big pluses. Guardiola gives us the tranquillity of knowing that he has faith in them and that if he picks them to play it’s because he believes that’s the solution. That’s something the players notice and take on board as equal members of the group. It’s a wonderful legacy that Pep is leaving behind”.

Abidal and Guardiola

Abidal is progressing and is back home. Is everything going well?
"First of all we have to express our thanks for the great respect shown towards him. I think we have all felt the respect and affection of the fans. He’s progressing at the correct rate. The next step is a medical check-up. It’s a slow and complicated process but the objective is for him to manage to live a normal life and to be able to start running. What we’re concerned about is that he’s OK”.

What message has the Club passed on to him?
"That we’re there for whatever he needs. There’s neither hurry nor need for anything. He knows we’re behind him and that we’ll take it one step at a time. It’s about the recovery of Abidal the person before the footballer”.

Let’s talk about Friday as it’s Pep’s farewell match. How does he seem to you these days? Excited, nostalgic...?
"Intense. In Monday’s training session, he was at maximum intensity knowing the challenge he has ahead of him. And focussed, highly focussed, and enjoying football”.

The fact that the players say that they want to send him off with a trophy is a motivation or pressure?
"I believe it’s a motivation. This team is built on emotion and I believe that’s a good thing as football shouldn’t always be cold. It can be experienced in the most emotional manner”. (via FCBarcelona.com)