Barça unbeaten after international breaks

The internationals over, Bara are now able to concentrate on Saturday’s meeting with Sporting Gijn. It is three and a half months since Barcelona last had to deal with an international week, but this was the fifth time they have had to this season, although they not been beaten under such circumstances.

Shaky start

The other four games happened between August and November, once a month. After the first, Bara picked up an important 2-2 draw at the Santiago Bernabu in the Spanish Supercup, a trophy they would lift a few days later at the Camp Nou. The poorest result after an international break was the 2-2 draw away to Real Sociedad in the third league game of the season, when Bara threw away a 2-0 halftime lead.

Two big wins at Camp Nou

The last two international weeks were followed by Bara storming to victory against sides now fighting against relegation, Racing and Zaragoza. The Cantabrians were comfortably dispatched 3-0 on October 15, as was the Aragonese outfit, 4-0, on November 19.

Pedro: “It has never been easy against Sporting”

1-0 at the Camp Nou, 1-1 and 0-1 at El Molinn. These are FC Barcelonas latest results against Sporting Gijn. It has never been easy against Sporting. They always prove they have a great team when they play against us, said Pedro. The Azulgrana striker believes that the Asturian teams new manager, Javier Clemente, will make the challenge of overcoming Sporting even more complicated this Saturday: Clemente likes to be aggressive and he makes his teams reduce the space between the lines [defence to midfield, midfield to offence]. Im sure it will be difficult.

Im doing well now

This hasnt been an easy season for Pedro. Hes sustained up to three injuries this year. In fact, he hasnt played an entire game since December 22nd, when Bara thumped Hospitalet 9-0 at the Camp Nou. However, the striker says hes back to full strength: its true that Ive had a couple of injuries, but Im well now, with more confidence and rhythm. I hope to play more minutes and be able to help the team, it depends on the manager though, he has the last word.

Well fight until the end

Pedro isnt convinced that Baras Liga title bid is over: the truth is that we are 10 points behind. We have to try and not lose anymore and wait for Madrid to drop points to cut into their lead. If their lead increases, the league will be very complicated. We wont give up on this title and well fight until the end. Were doing particularly well at the moment.

Pedro also talked about Vicente del Bosques Spanish national side team for the friendly against Venezuela. We all like to play for the national team, but Del Bosque called on other players this time. There are still a lot of matches and months left. Well have to see how all the players finish the season. Im calm about it, he said.

Abidal and Thiago return injured

Messi, to return on Monday

Leo Messi, suspended for Saturdays match against Sporting, will return to training next Monday.

ric Abidal and Thiago Alcntara couldnt train this Thursday afternoon after this weeks round of international friendlies. According the Clubs Medical Services, the defender finished his game with France with hip pain. Abidal underwent further tests today which confirmed the Frenchman will be out of action for 10 days.

Thiago, during the training session with the Spanish national team, felt pain in his right leg. Test confirmed that the player has niggling issues with his right tibia. The players recuperation will mark his availability for the upcoming matches.

First training session after international friendlies

Friday afternoon, training session

The team will retrun to training tomorrow afternoon. The session will start at 18:00 at the Ciutat Esportiva. Guardiola woll hold a post-training session press conference.

Pep Guardiola has started the process of preparing his team for the upcoming League clash with Sporting this Saturday at the Camp Nou. After two days off, most of the players that were with their respective national sides trained today at the Ciutat Esportiva. In total, 14 first-team players, Valds, Pinto, Keita, Pedro, Alves, Mascherano, Piqu, Puyol, Busquets, Cesc, Cuenca, Xavi, Iniesta and Adriano, trained together as a group. The Bara B players Tello and Muniesa were also present.

Four absences

Thiago and Abidal, both injured this week with their national teams, didnt train with the group. Leo Messi, suspended for the Sporting match, was also absent and has off until Monday.

Alexis, who played with Chile this morning, will join the team for tomorrows training session.

Messi: "These goals are very special"

Lionel Messi left the Stade de Suisse, Wankdorf, a very happy man, and for good reason. The victory in Argentina’s friendly against Switzerland, 3-1, will stay forever etched in his mind, as it was the first time he scored a hat-trick wearing his national shirt . But apart from his particular success, Messi was happy with the win, and especially for the cohesion of the team.

Just after the game, Messi, who with these three goals has now scored 22 in 68 games for his country, said he was very happy “to have won and for these goals, which are very special because they are the first – the first hat-trick – with the national team…..it’s been some time playing games without scoring, but I knew that the time would come. I’m leaving here feeling very happy” Messi explained.

But just like with Bara, Messi puts the collective triumph above the individual one, and gives great value to the fact that the Argentine squad is gaining more cohesion the more games they play: “The most important thing is that the team is developing and becoming stronger. It’s what we’re working on, trying to be strong as a group, trying and keeping growing. We have lots of things to improve on, and we know it, but it’s a positive thing to win, so we can work together calmly”. He insisted that:” We have to create a strong and united group to be able to achieve big things”.

The Bara Messi

It could never be otherwise, but the press in Argentina paid homage to the Bara number 10, often referring to the fact that Messi played just as he does wearing the Bara shirt . This is the case of one of the main sports newspapers in the country ‘Ole‘, which in its digital version dedicated a special front page to Messi, where he appears in a Bara shirt, in an article entitled “The Bara Messi!” In the printed version, titled “+10”, it outlined that “Leo was the crack from Barcelona.”

Precisely this last idea, the Bara Messi, was also prominent in other newspapers like the ‘Cronica‘, pointing to a “brilliant performance like we’ve become accustomed to in Barcelona”, or “Diario Popular” for whom “Leo was like the Barcelona player and it worked like clockwork”. “The Messi of the People,” in the newspaper ‘Libre Deportivo‘; “Messi’s style” in “Muy de Buenos Aires‘; “I’m Argentinian” in “La Razon“; “Argentina, with the brilliance of Messi” in the newspaper ‘El dia”, or “Messi, a godsend for Argentina” in ‘La Nacin‘ were other headlines of the day.

Alexis’ Chile draw with Ghana (1-1)

Alexis Sanchez was one of the last Bara players to play for his country this midweek. This morning, he played the whole 90 minutes in the friendly against Ghana that took place at the PPL Park in Philadelphia, and ended in a 1-1 draw. The match was played under heavy rain and the African team opened the scoring in the 42nd minute with a goal from Richard Mpong.

The Chilean team, led by the brilliant Alexis, who was the teams attacking reference point, battled to reverse the score. Although they went down to 10 players in the 69th minute, when Matias Campos was sent off, Chile equalised a few minutes later. In the 75th minute, Matias Fernandez converted a penalty, after a foul on Barca’s Alexis Sanchez. With the 1-1 scoreline both teams carried the battle on in midfield, but the Chileans were the ones who went looking for the winning goal

Dos Santos, in the Mexico starting line-up

For his part, the Bara B player, Jonathan Dos Santos, also played for his country. The Bara player was in the starting line-up for Mexico in the friendly against Colombia, played in Miami. The match ended in defeat for the Mexicans by 2-0, with goals from Falcao and Cuadrado. Dos Santos played the first half alongside his brother and former Bara player Giovani dos Santos, as well as with the other star player, who defended the Bara colours between 2003 and 2010, Rafa Marquez.

FCBCAMP Easter 2012. Inscriptions open until March 23!

The FCBEscola Campuses will be back for the Easter holiday! These are three days of training and other activities to learn, improve, and perfect the main football skills, aimed at boys and girls born between 2000 and 2006.

The FCBCamp Easter 2012 is for both pupils from FCBEscola, and the FCBEscola de Tecnificaci (Barcelona and others), as well as boys and girls from other schools and sports clubs. The period for inscription ends on Friday March 23, 2012 (as long as there are still places available). So, hurry!

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Guardiola, on the verge of equalling Michels and Rijkaard

Josep Guardiola keeps on reaching for greater heights. The manager is very close to breaking two more records at FC Barelona: hes only one victory away in the Liga to equalling Marinus Michels and hes a solitary goal away from reaching the all-time goal tally that the team set with Frank Rijkaard. This Saturday, against Sporting Gijn, both these records are within his grasp.

104 wins in La Liga

To start, Guardiola is hovering just below the third position of the all-time winningest Bara managers. The Bara boss has reached 104 wins in 138 matches (75.3% winning rate, more than any other manager in the history of the Club). Hes just one win away from the 105 wins achieved by Michels, who coached Bara on two occasions. The Dutch manager, however, directed the Catalan club 204 times, almost 70 more times than Guardiola.

Frank Rijkaard (112 wins) is in second place, atop the list sits Johan Cruyff, who won 184 times in the Liga.

One goal away from Rijkaard

Of the 138 league matches, Guardiola has only lost 10. His team have wracked up 368 goals (2.66 per match) and have only conceded 98. Guardiolas Bara is only one goal away from the team led by the Dutchman. With Rijkaard, who managed Bara for five seasons (2003-2008), Bara scored 369 goals and conceded 179 in 190 matches (1.94 goals per game). With goal that brings Guardiola level with the Dutchman come this Saturday? Who will score it?

Sporting cursed at the Camp Nou

Sporting Gijon, Barca’s next opponents at the Camp Nou, have very negative dynamics away at Bara in the League. Of the 40 games they have played there, only once have they emerged victorious, and that was a long time ago, in the1986/87 season, when they won well (4-0). Since then, the balance between the Catalan and the Asturian sides at the Camp Nou is 14 wins for Bara, and just one draw.

Eleven years absence

In fact, Sporting have lost their last 9 games at Barcelona. The red and whites were relegated to the Second Division in 1998, and it took them eleven years to get back to the top flight. Since their last promotion, Bara have won 3-1 (2008/09), 3-0 (2009/10) and 1-0 (2010/11). Indeed, in the most recent precedent, the defending champions had to work hard to win the three points. A solitary goal from Villa decided the match.