Tags: abidal


quick news post ahead of Barca v Valencia

+ Abidal is fit again! Match squad for the Valencia game hasn't been released yet [because Pep likes to keep all of us, including the press and the players, on our toes]. The certain absentees so far: Victor Sanchez, who's been drafted in to help the B team again, Sammy Eto'o who is suspended, and injury victims Andres and Gabi Milito.

+ Speaking of fitness, the first day of training after the Sevilla game saw the players undergo some fitness tests, same as when they first turned up for pre-season. The coaching team wanted to see how everyone was going - apparently things look fine, which is always nice to hear.

+ Feel free to disregard the rumours regarding Yaya Toure, because he's not going anywhere. Yay!

+ The club launched a major initiative this week in conjunction with Nike and UNCHR (the United Nations refugee agency) - the MES campaign, which will see a range of sports goods being put on sale with the proceeds to going towards improving the conditions of refugees. The project was unveiled on Thursday in a big press conference with players and coaches from most of Barca's major sports teams in attendance.

Bit more on the Valencia game: they haven't lost away yet this season, so it's going to be a tough game, especially since David Villa is so very good at scoring against Barca. The good news is that Valencia won't be at full strength - Silva, Edu, Moretti and Alexis are injured, Vicente's a doubt, and Marchena is suspended. The bad news is that they have a coach who knows how to make the most of what he's got.

The tactical battle between Pep and Unai Emery, the two youngest coaches in La Liga, should be a fascinating one.

Kick-off is at 10PM local time. Visca el Barca!

a little news and Sevilla preview

My apologies for my lack of contributions over the past month - I've been rather swamped by work.

+ Firstly, Barca beat Sporting Lisbon in their own stadium 5-2, so they're now sure to top the CL group with one game to spare, which is excellent news considering when the last group stage game is - sandwiched between the games against Valencia and Real.

+ Speaking of which, Barca's next four games: Sevilla (away), Valencia (home), Real (home) and Villarreal (away). The Christmas break is at the end of this terrifying run, which is good because by then the squad will probably need it.

+ Injury news: For those of you who were wondering, Abidal is still alive. I know I was starting to worry because of the lack of news about his progress. Apparently, he's due back soon, which is very good news at this time - Sylvinho, Puyol and Caceres have done a great job filling in so far, but it's always nice to have the first-choice player for the position.

Iniesta and Milito are both on track in their recovery. Iniesta has started running again and is (according to Pep) desperate to get back ASAP. Apparently Pep had to talk him out of rushing things. Milito on the other hand is finally running again after his long absence - it will still be a while before he's back, though.

+ Congratulations to Titi, who made his 100th appearance in the CL against Sporting (and scored Barca's opener too).

+ Okay, let's talk Sevilla. The squad:

Goalkeepers: Valdes, Pinto
Defenders: Marquez, Pique, Puyol, Caceres, Sylvinho
Midfielders: Xavi, Keita, Gudjohnsen, Toure, Busquets
Forwards: Henry, Bojan, Eto'o, Messi
We're still not sure where they play: Hleb, Alves

+ Past results at the Sanchez Pizjuan:

04-05 Sevilla 0 - 4 Barca
05-06 Sevilla 3 - 2 Barca
06-07 Sevilla 2 - 1 Barca
07-08 Sevilla 1 - 1 Barca

+ Links: Awesome Sevilla keeper Andres Palop says nice things about Barca, Pep wants the team to be ambitious and go for it, and the best defence in La Liga against the best attack (also statistically the best two defences, incidentally).

+ Both Dani and Keita are returning to their former club, so there's been a lot of talk in the press about that. Hopefully they'll be reasonably well received, especially Dani, who has a strong emotional connection to Sevilla.

This is a big, big game. Barca don't get results at the Sanchez Pizjuan often, but it's very hard to call this game because the two teams are both playing at a high level.

Game time: Saturday 10PM local time.

Visca el Barca!

pre-match news: Malaga v Barca

I apologise for my lax posting lately: it's exam time. Look for an increase in about a week's time.

+ An understrength Barca team beat third division Benidorm 0-1 with a strike from Bojan in their round of 32 first leg Copa del Rey game. The return leg is at the Camp Nou. Anyone want to guess how many people will turn up to that one? 3,000?

+ Bad injury new first: worryingly, Abidal has a knee problem that will rule him out for at least a week and might require surgery if it doesn't improve after that.

+ Good injury news: Guddy and Pedro both have medical clearance! They haven't been included in Pep's squad for Malaga, but look for at least Guddy to make a comeback against Basle midweek. Keita is running again as well, which is very encouraging.

+ Speaking of which, the squad:

Goalkeepers: Valdes, Pinto

Defenders: Marquez, Pique, Puyol, Caceres, Sylvinho

Midfielders: Xavi, Toure, Sergio B

Forwards: Henry, Bojan, Eto'o, Messi

*Swiss army knives: Iniesta, Hleb, Alves, Victor Sanchez

The new category there is for people who can play in a variety of positions across the pitch, leaving me unsure as to how I'm supposed to classify them.

+ Pep says we need to be careful. He's right - Malaga are a good side, only 4 places below Barca in the table, having just beaten Sevilla away [not many teams can do that] and on a 4-game winning streak. Any complacency will be punished.

+ He also says that Xavi is going nowhere, so feel free to continue laughing at the desperate attempts of publications such as Tuttosport to drum up rumours about half the Barca midfield.

+ Some news on the work of the FC Barcelona Foundation.