Sergi Gómez thrilled to be back home

It's going to be an interesting weekend for Sergi Gómez. PHOTO: VÍCTOR SALGADO-FCB.
The product of the FC Barcelona academy is on his way back to the Camp Nou, this time wearing a Celta shirt

“When you leave Barça you realise what it means to play there” he says, although he’s delighted with the way he’s been treated in Vigo

Sergi Gómez is on his way back to the club where he spent four years in the youth system and a further four years playing for Barça B. Last summer, he left Barcelona for Celta Vigo, and things have being going grand for him in Galicia. Manager Eduardo Berizzo slowly seems to finding a place for him in his plans, either at full or centre back, to the extent that he’s been involved in six of the nine Liga games played so far, three times as a starter and three times as a sub.

The 22 year old, who’s from the Catalan coastal town of Arenys de Mar (the same place as Cesc Fàbregas), spoke to about his new life and the prospect of facing Barça on Saturday at the Camp Nou.

How have your first few months in Vigo gone?
“Very well. I’ve been progressing as a player. I didn’t play much at first and now I’m getting on in nearly every game. I love the team and the city. The people are treating me really well and that’s helped me to integrate”.

What things do you miss?
“When you leave Barça, you realise what he means to play there. The facilities, the infrastructure, they’re on another level. But there are good things about more modest clubs too. There’s more proximity and communication is easier”.[[CITA_1]]

Is your game any different to what it was like during eight years at Barça?
“I wouldn’t say I’ve had to change my football very much because Celta have a very similar philosophy to Barça. We always try to keep the ball and play good, effective football. The coach has brought in his new ideas, which he’s added to the good things we already had before”.

What’s it like to play in defence with old friends like Fontàs and Planas, and with Nolito too?
“It’s like living old times. I’m lucky to have them here and to still be in the same team as them. I have to say that them being here was one added reason why I chose to come to Celta. But my other team-mates have welcomed me nicely too”.

Did you have November 1 marked in your diaries?
“It’s a nice game that anyone would want to play. What most excites me is the idea of going back to the placer where I grew up, because I was at the old Masia. And I’m looking forward to seeing people that I met over the years, and my old team-mates. There are lots of memories to relive, that’s for sure”.

You’ll also be meeting up with Luis Enrique, who gave you your Barça B debut. What do you remember of him?
“Very good things. He put his faith in me making that step. And he continued to show confidence in me and used me for almost all the play-off that got us promoted into Division 2A. I only have good things to say about him”.

What is it about Celta? New players, new managers, but every year they surprise us!
“I think Luis Enrique laid some strong foundations. He made the players hungry and eager to play nice football. Berizzo does the same thing and is very clear about what he wants from us and the fans. That’s very important”.[[CITA_2]]
Should we expect the same daring, joyous football from Celta at the Camp Nou?
“We are a team that likes to play, whatever game it is. The Camp Nou is one of the hardest venues, that’s for sure, but we’ll give it a good go once again”.

What do you expect from Barça after they lost the Clasico?
“I am sure that the players are experienced enough to know how to turn the page. They lost at the Bernabéu, but that can happen. Now they need to immediately switch on to the next match and change the situation”.

There are good things about more modest clubs too. There’s more proximity and communication is easier
Berizzo is very clear about what he wants from us and the fans. That’s very important

Luis Enrique & Berizzo: From field to bench

Luis Enrique and Eduardo Berizzo are two of the youngest managers in La Liga
The FC Barcelona and Celta Vigo managers are both in charge of teams they once played for

For four seasons they were both Liga players, but only faced each other once, and one other time in the UEFA Cup

On Saturday, the Camp Nou brings together two members of the younger generation of coaches, Luis Enrique and Eduardo Berizzo, who are in charge of FC Barcelona and Celta Vigo, respectively. It’s not that long since either of them hung up their boots, and now they are back at clubs where they made their names as players.

Two head-to-heads

In their days at Barça and Celta, Luis Enrique and Berizzo spent four years competing against each other in La Liga. The Argentinian, after shining in the ranks of River Plate, was brought to Galicia for the 2000/01 season. And that was the only year that he and Luis Enrique played in the same match. It happened twice, first in the quarter final second leg of the UEFA Cup, after Luis Enrique had sat out the 2-1 win at the Camp Nou. At Balaídos, they were both on the pitch, and although Celta won 3-2, Barça progressed by virtue of the away goals rule.

Shortly after, Celta returned to the Camp Nou for a Liga fixture that ended 1-1. Berizzo played all 90 minutes, while Luis Enrique was substituted after 82. This was one of the finest Celta teams ever, that year achieving what would be the fourth of a run of six straight top ten finishes. But although they would play Barça several times again, it so happens that Luis Enrique and Berizzo would never be on the pitch at the same time again.

Managing well

After retiring as players, Luis Enrique and Eduardo Berizzo both embarked on managerial careers. The former gained his first experience at Barça B, then AS Roma, and finally Celta, before coming back to the Camp Nou at the start of the current season. And the man who replaced him in Vigo was none other than Berizzo, who before that had coached Estudiantes in his native Argentina before leading O’Higgins to the Chilean championship.

Fourteen years after playing against each other in Barça and Celta shirts, the two managers are now set to face each other again, with the same teams, but in a very different role.

FC Barcelona – Celta de Vigo: TICKETS por fcbarcelona

Catalan Super Cup highlights

Piqué headed home Barça's first half opener / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
Recap of Wednesday night’s action in Girona, where FC Barcelona beat RCD Espanyol to win the Catalan title on penalties

Barça won 4-2 on penalties in the Catalan Super Cup match with Espanyol. Here’s a recap of the best of the action from this evening’s game in Girona.

In three minutes, you can admire Luis Suárez’s cunning loft onto Piqué’s head to put Barça in control, and see how Arbilla got Espanyol back level with a well-taken free kick. It ended up going to penalties, with Ivan Rakitic being the man who converted the decisive kick to win the trophy for Barcelona!

FC Barcelona win Catalan Super Cup (1-1, 4-2 on pens)

El Barça, campió de la Supercopa de Catalunya. FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.
FC Barcelona have beaten Espanyol 4-2 on penalties to win the first ever Catalan Super Cup

The game ended 1-1 after 90 minutes. Gerard Piqué headed Barça into the lead, but an Arbilla free kick got Espanyol back level

FC Barcelona won the first ever edition of the Catalan Super Cup at the Estadi Montilivi in Girona this evening after the game with RCD Espanyol ended 1-1 after 90 minutes. Luis Enrique’s side dominated from start to finish but were unable to add to a Gerard Piqué header after 15 minutes. Espanyol pulled back through Arbilla shortly after the break, and with no further scoring the game went to penalties. The shootout went Barça’s way, as it also had against the same side in the last two finals of the Copa Catalunya.

Suárez magic

Luis Enrique had promised to take the game seriously and he did, starting with nine first team players, including Pedro wearing the captain’s armband, Jordi Masip getting his first start since the preseason and Luis Suarez leading the attack. And it was the Uruguayan who got the first chance of the night when Sergi Roberto laid him up with a header on 8 minutes. Two minutes later and it was Suarez who was doing the laying up, and in brilliant style. Inside the six-yard box and when it looked like the best option was to shoot, he deftly lofted the ball over the head of Espanyol keeper Pau to pick out Gerard Piqué, and the centre back nodded home at the far post.

Barça were in absolute domination of the ball, although real chances to extend on their lead were seriously lacking. All the same, it took 41 minutes for Masip to get the chance to show his worth, and he certainly showed that worth by defying Víctor Álvarez in a one-on-one.

Espanyol bite back

Both sides made wholesale changes after the break, and a considerably livelier Espanyol managed to get back on level terms after just five minutes. Arbilla executed such a perfect free-kick that there was next to nothing that Masip could have done about it. The Barça keeper was again called upon to prevent Jairo from heading home a corner after 68 minutes, and produced the best save of the evening when Abraham volleyed inside the area in the final minutes.

Barça had their fair share of chances in the second half too. The best fell to Munir, who couldn’t quite get enough on a terrific through ball from Xavi, and to Halilovic, who ended a fine solo run with a shot that skimmed narrowly wide of the Espanyol post.

Shootout kings

But there would be no further scoring, and after 90 minutes, the game went straight into a penalty shootout. There were worried looks on the Barça faces when their second kick, taken by Sandro, was saved. But Espanyol missed their next two, leaving it all down to Ivan Rakitic to convert the decisive penalty to ensure that the brand new Catalan Super Cup trophy will be going on display in the FCB Museum.

First team poses for official photograph

Today was the day to take the official Barça 2014/15 photograph. PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.
There was plenty of fun and laughter during Wednesday morning’s photo shoot at the Camp Nou

This Wednesday morning it was time for the first team players to gather on the Camp Nou pitch for the official 2014/15 photo session. The day started with the players donning the official Replay uniforms, and after that the first team kit. President Josep Maria Bartomeu was also there for the photo shoot, and there was a jovial atmosphere all round as the players tried their hardest to look their best for the cameras.

The players also posed for pictures for Audi, FC Barcelona’s Partner Premium, with an Audi TT Coupé appearing next to them on the field.

This was the first set of official pictures with Luis Enrique as manager, as well as all of the new inclusions made to the squad during the close season.

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