The FC Barcelona squad, including goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, have arrived in England for their training camp at St George’s Park, near Birmingham
Luis Enrique and his Barça squad left on Monday morning for their six-day training camp at St George’s Park, the FA’s facility on the outskirts of the English city of Birmingham. With 18 members of the first team and eight from the reserves, they touched down at Birmingham Airport just before noon, local time.
Pedro and Claudio Bravo
The main attraction in the travelling party is Claudio Bravo. The Chilean goalkeeper, who signed from Real Sociedad this summer, has returned from his holiday to join his new team-mates.
Monday 28 July is also a special day for Pedro Rodríguez, who is celebrating his 27th birthday.
The first training session on British soil will start at 6.00 PM GMT. Then, from Tuesday to Friday, the team will be training twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. On Saturday, the team will fly to Nice, France for a friendly against OGC Nice.
BUY THE OFF THE PITCH KIT
This winger, born in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, joined the Barça youth structure in August 2004 to play for the Juvenil A side after previously representing CD San Isidro
Bravo, Rakitic, Mathieu and Luis Súarez will be bringing to FC Barcelona their experience of having captained clubs in the biggest leagues in Europe
Ter Stegen, Rafinha and Deulofeu have all played regularly in the Bundesliga, la Liga BBVA and Premier League respectively
It’s said that experience is a virtue, and if that’s the case then FC Barcelona have made some very astute signings this summer. The new additions all know what it’s like to play football at the very highest level, and several of them captained their previous clubs.
Familiar with Spain
Bravo, Rakitic and Mathieu all have several seasons of football in the Liga BBVA behind them. The Croatian midfielder and the French defender both spent last season as captains of Sevilla and Valencia, respectively, while Claudio Bravo, one of the key players at Real Sociedad, is also captain of Chile. It’s always useful to have natural leaders on the field, and Luis Enrique has three excellent examples here.
Luis Suárez, Ajax captain
Luis Suárez is coming to Barcelona as the leader of the Uruguayan national team and after being one of the key men at Liverpool. Of course, he was never going to take the captain’s armband from Steven Gerard while he was at Anfield, but Suárez had already shown that he has got what it takes by captaining Ajax Amsterdam during his time in Holland. After playing in two of Europe’s biggest championships, as well as in Uruguay, he has plenty of knowledge to bring into the team.
Ter Stegen, Rafinha and Deulofeu gaining fast
The other three new players for the 2014/15 season are still in the early stages of their careers. But even so, they already know all about playing top level football. German goalkeeper Ter Stegen was the first choice between the sticks at Borussia Mönchengladbach and is already being touted as the man to take over from Neuer in the German national team. Rafinha played under Luis Enrique at Celta Vigo, where he rose to become one of the most fundamental members of the side, and Everton manager Roberto Martínez made ample use of Deulofeu in one of the most demanding leagues of all, the FA Premiership
Seven first team players were coached by Luis Enrique, during his time in charge of Barça B
Pedro and Montoya were the most decisive players in his first season in charge of the reserves
Before becoming Barça first team coach, Luis Enrique had previously managed Barca B, a team that included seven players who will now be working with him at the top level. The seven players are Deulofeu, Rafinha, Masip, Pedro, Sergi Roberto, Marc Bartra and Martin Montoya. Let’s take a look at their time under Luis Enrique’s guidance.
Gerard Deulofeu: Luis Enrique loved the character, the power, and the speed of Deulofeu. In the 2010/11 season he played between U18 A and Barça B. At just 16 years old, on March 2nd, 2011 Deulofeu made his debut for Luis Enrique at Barca B, against Córdoba, and the following season his signing for the reserves became permanent.
Rafinha Alcántara: Rafinha is one of the most important players who have come under the orders of Luis Enrique. Just like Deulofeu he was also making the leap from the U18s to Barca B. He made his debut for Barça B in a match against Girona at the MiniEstadi. Thereafter, he became a regular in the reserves, and the following year became a permanent member of Barça B. During his loan period at Celta Vigo, he was also coached by Luis Enrique, and Rafinha was one of four players with more minutes on the pitch, playing in 32 games and scoring 4 goals.
Jordi Masip: One of the new first team goalkeepers, Jordi Masip, was reserve goalkeeper under ‘Lucho’. He made his debut for Barça B on December 19th, 2009, in a match against Valencia Mestalla (1-1). Thereafter he played for five full seasons for Barca B, at the start under coach Luis Enrique and later with Eusebio as coach.
Pedro Rodriguez: Pedro coincided with Luis Enrique in his first season at Barca B (2008-2009). He was playing matches between the first team (14 games) and Barca B, being one of the most important players for Luis Enrique, playing in 27 games.
Sergi Roberto: Another of the homegrown players who Luis Enrique has always confided in is Sergi Roberto. He made his debut in for Barça B in the 2009/10 season, quickly becoming a fixture in Luis Enrique’s team, playing a total of 29 games in his first season.
Marc Bartra: Bartra joined Luis Enrique’s Barça B team in the 2009/10 season after sharing matches between the reserves and the U18’s A team. Precisely in the same season, on February 14th, 2010, Pep Guardiola gave him his debut with the FC Barcelona first team against Atletico Madrid in a league match. He was with Luis Enrique for two years in the reserves.
Martín Montoya: Finally, Montoya was one of the first players in the first team who Luis Enrique had coached in Barca B. In 2008/09 he was playing in the U18’s A team, alternating with the reserves under Luis Enrique. The following year (2010/11), Montoya made a permanent move to Barça B, where he played a total of 51 games. That same year, he made his debut in La Liga with the FC Barcelona first team under Josep Guardiola, on 26th of February at the Iberostar Stadium, against RCD Mallorca
Before travelling to England, the Barça coach talks about the first few days at work and the preseason games coming up
“The first days are essentially physical training, but we do most of the exercises with a ball” he said
On Monday Barça travel to St. George’s Park, in England, for six days, to continue preparing for the season to come, which starts on August 24 or 23. Before travelling to England, Luis Enrique made a general assessment of the early days of working with the squad, and the upcoming friendly games facing the team. After the Nuevo Colombino Trophy win against Recreativo Huelva (0-1), Barça will play their next preseason game on Saturday 2nd of August, in Nice at 8.45 p.m., against local side OGC Nice.
After a few days training, Luis Enrique has established clear objectives for preseason. “At the start the objectives have a clear vital physical component, but we do most exercises with the ball” he said. On the work planning of the coaching staff at the beginning of this season, Luis Enrique explained that “it’s not a typical preseason because there is no preseason tour”, and added: “In training we try to work on all things that might crop up in a competitive match”.
The coach also discussed the next three friendly matches the team that will face away from Barcelona, before playing the Joan Gamper Trophy at the Camp Nou on August 18th. OGC Nice, SSC Napoli and HJK Helsinki are Barca’s rivals at the beginning of August
Barca’s next match is in Nice on Saturday August 2nd. “Their league season is really close, so they’ll make it a high-tempo match. The demand on our players will be pretty high” said Luis Enrique. In this game, the coach will be able to include the eight internationals who returned at the beginning of the week (Pique, Jordi Alba, Sergio, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, Rakitic and Song), plus the latest signing, Jérémy Mathieu.
The next Barça opponent is one of the top teams in the Italian Serie A. Napoli and Barça will face each other in Geneva on 6th of August. “This Napoli team has a lot of Spanish influence, managed by Rafa Benitez. In recent years they have strengthened the squad and are one of the favourites to win the Scudetto, a clear incentive for us” said Luis Enrique
Barca’s last match before the Joan Gamper Trophy, which they will play against the Mexican outfit, Club Leon, will be against HJK Helsinki in the Finnish capital. As for this match, the Barça coach said: “There’ll be a lot of excitement to watch us there. They sold out very quickly”, and added “The ambassador for the match is my old teammate, Litmanen”. Finally, Luis Enrique summarised the objectives of this and the rest of the pre-season friendlies: “They’ll all serve us well so we’ll be in good shape for the season to come”.