Argreement to extend Sergi Roberto's contract to June 30, 2019

Sergi Roberto appeared in the Joan Gamper Trophy match. PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.
The release clause has been set at 30 million euros, which could rise to 40 million

FC Barcelona has reached an agreement with Sergi Roberto to renew his contract, which expires on June 30, 2015, until June 30, 2019. The release clause has been set at 30 million euros, which could rise to 40 million.

He will sign the new contract over the next few days.

Born in Reus, Catalonia 22 years ago, Sergi Roberto made his first team debut in the 2010/11 season while still a youth player. In the 2012/13 season he was made a permanent first team member and has played a total of 40 games, scoring twice. Wearing the number 20 shirt, these games were divided between La Liga (21), the Champions League (17) and the Spanish Cup (12).

FC Barcelona v APOEL FC: Did you know?

They've never met before, but the two clubs share a surprisng amount of history
This is the third time that FC Barcelona has hosted a Cypriot team in an official UEFA competition

APOEL keeper Urko Pardo spent eight years in the Barça academy

FC Barcelona’s Champions League 2014/15 campaign gets under way on Wednesday against APOEL of Nicosia, and here’s a round-up of useful information about the game:

  • Founded in 1926, APOEL is the most successful club in Cypriot football history with 23 leagues, 20 cups and 13 super cups to their name. They’ve won five of the last eight domestic championships.
  • APOEL are through to the group stage of the competition for the third time, and until now they have never failed to make it into the knockout stages. The side coached by Giorgos Donis beat HJK Helsinki 4-2 on aggregate and then Aalborg of Denmark 5-1 to qualify this season. Curiously, they played the Finnish side just a few days after Barça had met the same side in a preseason friendly.
  • Barça are facing APOEL for the first time ever in an official match, the same situation that arose last season when they met Ajax Amsterdam for the first time ever – a particularly surprising circumstance considering the close bonds between these two traditional giants of the European game.
  • This is the third time that Barça has hosted a Cypriot team in Europe. The two previous occasions were in the Cup Winners Cup, first against Apollon Limassol (8-0) on 15 September 1982, and later against AEK Larnaka (2-0) on 12 September 1996, with Bobby Robson on the bench and Luis Enrique on the pitch. But APOEL will only be the second team from Cyprus to play at the Camp Nou. Because the turf was being replaced in 1996, the game with AEK was played at the Olympic Stadium, Montjuic.
  • Current APOEL player George Efrem’s father was in the Apollon team that played Barça in 1982.
  • APOEL’s keeper, Urko Pardo, was born in Brussels to Spanish parents and spent eight years in the FC Barcelona academy, where he formed part of the same generation as such players as Andrés Iniesta and Leo Messi.
  • APOEL’s most famous player is Norwegian John Arne Riise, who played alongside Javier Mascherano at Liverpool from late in the 2006/07 season through to the summer of 2008, when Riise left Anfield for Roma, just days after Luis Enrique left the Italian capital for Celta.
  • Barça v APOEL will mark both Luis Enrique and Giorgos Donis’ debuts as managers.
  • One member of the APOEL team, Tiago Gomes, already knows what it’s like to win at the Camp Nou after doing so with Hercules in September 2010. The side from Alicante stunned Barça 2-0 on their home turf that day.
  • More positively for FCB’s interests, Ivan Rakitic has scored against APOEL before. When at Schalke 04 he contributed to a 4-1 win in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup.
  • All of Douglas, Sandro and Munir are on the verge of making their Champions League debuts. Goalkeeper Ter Stegen has played in a playoff before, but never in the groups.
  • APOEL have never won away in the Champions League, but five of their six road trips in previous Champions League group stages have ended in draws, and against such illustrious opponents as Chelsea, Atlético Madrid and Porto.

Inside view: Champions League debut

Neymar, Rafinha and Douglas trained ahead of Wednesday's UCL debut. PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.
There was plenty happening at FC Barcelona on the eve of their meeting with APOEL FC

As ever on the day before a Champions League game at the Camp Nou, there was plenty going on today at Sant Joan Despí. The Barça first team trained at the Ciutat Esportiva and then player Gerard Piqué and coach Luis Enrique Martínez gave press conferences.

This five-minute video offers a behind-the-scenes view of a busy day with just one thing on everyone’s mind – tomorrow’s meeting with the Cypriot champions.

Champions League: all you need to know about FC Barcelona v APOEL FC

FC Barcelona v APOEL FC
On Wednesday from 8.45 PM CET, all eyes will be on the Camp Nou as Barça begin their 2014/15 Champions League campaign

Get yourself ready for the game with this round-up of the top news stories and background information

- Luis Enrique: “We need the fans”

- Piqué: “I am improving all the time”

- FC Barcelona players who could make Champions League debut

- FC Barcelona trains with full squad

- When and where to watch the Champions League match between FC Barcelona and APOEL

- Urko Pardo: “We have European experience and are confident about the game”

- Apoel just third Cypriot club to visit Camp Nou

- Pedro: “I’m not getting goals, but I’m sure they’ll come”

- FC Barcelona players who could make Champions League debut

- Thomas Christiansen: “The most dangerous thing about Apoel is their attack”

- Links between Apoel and FC Barcelona

- APOEL FC Nicosia in statistics, FC Barcelona’s first European opponent

FCB v APOEL TICKETS

Luis Enrique: “We need the fans”

Luis Enrique was speaking before Wednesday's game with APOEL / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
Although the FC Barcelona manager doesn’t deny that the Champions League is a very special competition, he’s treating the APOEL game like any other

“There’s no sense for a team to set minimum targets in the Champions League” he replied when asked how far he wanted his side to go

Luis Enrique has called on the supporters to get behind the team on the Champions League 2014/15 debut, saying that “we need our fans and we’ll try to give them a spectacular game … Three points against APOEL FC would be very important for us.” He reckoned those points would be just as important as any against PSG, theoretically the strongest opponent in Group H.

He didn’t like being asked how far he expects his team to get in Europe. “Our target for now is just to win the first game” he said. “We’ve started well in the league, now we need to do the same in the Champions League. With a squad like ours, it would make no sense to set minimum targets in this competition.”[[CITA_1]]However, he added that “the players might feel special nerves before a Champions League match like this, because of what this competition means, with the stars and music at the start and all of that. But for a manager it’s the same job as ever, and I’m preparing for this game as I would for any other. And what I do know is that we’re going to have to do a lot of things better than our opponent if we want to win.”

The team has kept three consecutive clean sheets, and Luis Enrique was delighted to say that he’s proud of how the side has come on in defence, praising his players on their attitude. “When we don’t have the ball we’re eleven defenders, and when we have it we’re eleven forwards” he said. I am very happy overall with how we’re defending. He cited the example of the opening goal against Athletic Bilbao, a move that started thanks to Sandro putting pressure on the Basque defence.[[CITA_2]]Real Madrid are already six points behind Barça in the league, but Luis Enrique insists that “I’m just expecting the very best football from my own team and trying to get through matches. It’s far too early to start talking about other teams. Of course we always want them to lose, but it’s more important for us to worry about our own road”.

And the next stop on that road is APOEL FC. “If we play intensely and get into our right rhythm then I’m sure we’ll be on the way to victory” he commented. “But if our opponents get the better of us in certain aspects, then we could well end up suffering.”

TICKETS FCB v APOEL

When we don’t have the ball we’re eleven defenders, and when we have it we’re eleven forwards
It’s far too early to start talking about other teams. It’s more important for us to worry about ourselves
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