Tito Vilanova: "I’m hoping to win it all this season"

Tito Vilanova, a la roda de premsa prèvia a l'inici de Lliga / FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
Just a few hours before the 2012-2013 season kicks off, the Barça manager is aiming high and told reporters today: “We have a good enough team to win any match”

After several weeks of preparations, Tito Villanova’s Barça side get their league campaign going on Sunday against Real Sociedad in the Camp Nou at 9 pm. Speaking on Saturday morning at the last press conference before Sunday evening’s match, Vilanova was looking relaxed despite the huge expectancy surrounding his debut, and told reporters: “I don’t feel pressured”.

“It’s difficult for us to get going”

However, in spite of his customary calm exterior he admitted that he couldn’t help being a little anxious about how his players would respond in the first league match of the season, given Barça’s often indifferent start in recent seasons: “It’s difficult for us to get going. Our preparation is different because what we want to do is maintain the same level throughout the year. At the beginning we may start a little behind the rest but the quality of these players will reach where the preparation doesn’t”.

Ambition from day one

Clearly Vilanova has complete faith in his players and he made it clear today that his ambition for the team has no limits: “I’m hoping to win it all, that’s what I’m hoping for this season. We have a good enough team to win any match. We’ll have to think one match at a time. Barça is used to winning everything, especially in the last few years. We have to try and keep the ball, have the ambition to win and know who we are competing against”.

Finally, he insisted that the players have the same level of ambition as last season: “Last season we won four titles including the World Club Championship. We certainly did win, and a lot. And they look just as ambitious to me as always”.

Training continues ahead of Real Sociedad clash

L'equip jugarà aquest diumenge el seu primer partit de Lliga / FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
All the available players from the first team squad were put through their paces on Saturday morning while Thiago carried on with his individual training programme.

It was the last but one training session for the players ahead of Sunday evening’s La Liga debut against Real Sociedad. Tito Vilanovahad all the available players to work with except for ThiagoAlcántara, who continued with his personal training programme.

As was the case on Thursday and Friday, Carles PuyolandJonathan dos Santos took a full part in training alongside their team-mates. Also taking part in the session were Telloand SergiRoberto from Barça B.

The next –and last – training session before the league campaign gets underway against Real Sociedad(Sunday, 9 pm) will be at 12 noon on Sunday.

First team, including Tello and Dos Santos, pose for FC Barcelona's official UEFA photo

FC Barcelona's official UEFA photo / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The first team posed for the official UEFA photo this afternoon at the Ciutat Esportiva. The organisation uses the photo for its website, programmes, and marketing materials

In addition to the team photo, the 25 players, including the youngsters Tello and Sergi Roberto, posed for individual head shots

With just weeks to go before the 2012/13 Champions League gets underway, the FC Barcelona players donned the home kit for the team’s official UEFA photo. The photo shoot took place at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper before the team’s afternoon training session. All 25 first team players, including Barça B’s Cristian Tello and Sergi Robeto, were present. This was a first for Jordi Alba, Marc Bartra and Isaac Cuenca, while Monotya and Jonathan dos Santos were part of FC Barcelona’s official UEFA photo last year.

Even though Tito Vilanova has featured in Barça’s official UEFA photos before, this is his first time doing it as the team’s head manager. His assistant manager, Jordi Roura, and the goalkeeper coach, José Ramón de la Fuente, were also present.

UEFA uses the team photo throughout the season for its website, programmes, and marketing materials.

Barça back to full strength ahead of La Liga debut

Alexis Sánchez  / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
The Chilean Alexis Sánchez was the last international to join Barça after this week’s international friendlies, which allowed Tito Vilanova to prepare for the team’s La Liga debut with all the available first team players

Jonathan Dos Santos and Carles Puyol trained with the team while Thiago continued his recovery plan apart from the group

Tito Vilanova’s team is back to full strength ahead of Barça’s 2012/13 La Liga debut this Sunday against Real Sociedad. The available first team players trained this afternoon on Field 1 of the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, including the Chilean Alexis Sánchez, who was the last international player to arrive in Barcelona after this week’s international friendlies. The Barça B’s Cristian Tello and Sergi Roberto also trained with the first team.

Puyol and Dos Santos train with the group

Just as they did on Thursday, Carles Puyol and Jonathan dos Santos trained alongside their team-mates this afternoon. Thiago Alcántara, however, trained apart from the group as he continues to recover from the injury that kept out of the Olympic Games.

Training session on Saturday at 9.00

The team will continue to prepare for the match against Real Sociedad on Saturday morning. The closed-door session will start at 9.00, Tito Vilanova will hold a press conference after the training session.

.@DaniAlvesD2: “We're still the team to beat”

Dani Alves. PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The Brazilian defender considers that Barça, world champions, are still the team to beat

Dani Alves says that he’s as eager as ever to win the Liga title and he made no excuses for last season’s second place finish

“We’re still the team to beat because we’re the best team in the world. We’re the ones that have the logo on our shirts that distinguishes us as world champions. We lost the Liga and we have to try and win it back, we know it’s going to be difficult,” said Dani Alves in today’s press conference.

On FC Barcelona’s La Liga title bid, the Brazilian said: “I’m as eager as ever. If we lost the last Liga title it’s because we weren’t as good as the team that finished first. There are no excuses in this Club, we have to improve.” The defender added that “it’s all the same to me if we’re defending a title or trying to win it. I’m comfortable knowing that the team is competitive, that we have the capacity to fight for all of the titles.”

Satisfied with the team

The Brazilian is convinced that Barça will be able to meet all of its challenges this season: “the team is ready and starting off on the right foot gives you more confidence for the rest of the season. It’s difficult to find the right balance if you start with doubts.” It’s important for Alves to start the season with a victory, because “it would prove that we’re in it to win it.” He added: “it doesn’t matter if we have a lot of players on the roster. Every player must bring something to the team, that’s the important thing. That’s why we’re calm and ready for the season to start.”

In good hands

One of the reasons the players are positive about the team’s chances this season is due to Tito Vilanova’s leadership. The defender gave his take on the transition to the new manager: “Pep left us in good hands. There will be continuity to his work. I’m sure that the athletic project will be reinvigorated and that the players will be eager to do important things.”

The Azulgrana defender is set to start his fifth season with a new mentality, seeing that he’s almost 30. “I feel great. I’m a footballer that, thanks to my physique, can keep on going for many years,” said Dani Alves.