Barça to appeal Mascherano's one-match ban

Mascherano / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.
The Club will appeal the Argentine’s one-match ban with the Appeals Committee

The Competition Committee has suspended Javier Mascherano for one match after the player was booked twice in the match against Deportivo de la Coruña. FC Barcelona had presented an appeal against the referee’s post-match report, and now, after learning of the decision to suspend the Argentine for one match, the Club will lodge another appeal with the Appeals Committee.

Barça’s next match is scheduled for this Saturday against Rayo in Vallecas.

. @3gerardpique: “We couldn’t have started the season any better”

Gerard Piqué during Google's Hangout/ PHOTO: ÁLEX CAPARRÓS-FCB
The centre back admits that FC Barcelona’s start to the 2012/13 season has been “very good” and he says that he’s recovering well from his injury

Gerard Piqué is very pleased with Barça’s start to the 2012/13 season. Leaders in La Liga and the Champions League’s Group G, the centre back admitted that “we couldn’t have started the season any better.” Talking to a handful of fans from around the in a  Google+ Hangout session, he added: “We’ve had a great start. We’ve won a lot of games and we’re currently leaders. It’s true that a couple of our matches have been tough, but the team is playing well.”

Optimistic on the team’s future

“There is a good connection in the team and I think we’ll have a great season,” said Piqué. On the Champions League, the player believes that the upcoming match in Scotland could bring qualification to the Blaugrana outfit if they win: “If we’re able to win [in Scotland], our job [in the group stage] will be complete.”

Recovering from injury

When asked about the injury that’s kept out of competitive play, Piqué said “I’m feeling good, much better. I did everything I could to play against Madrid, but in the end we decided to not run any risks. When my foot responds well, I’ll start to train.” The player, who sustained a sprain in his left foot in the match against Spartak Moscow (3-2), has missed Barça’s last seven matches.

“Happy” with his personal life

Piqué also shed a bit of light on his personal life: “I have a lot of reasons to be happy. I play for Barça, which was my dream, and I’m experiencing fantastic moments as a professional football player. My family and partner love me and I love them, and I have a child on the way. I’m fortunate and I have to take advantage of each moment.”

 

HANGOUT Gerard Piqué

Facts and figures from the Celtic game

L'equip saluda l'afició un cop acabat el partit amb el Celtic / FOTO: ÁLEX CAPARRÓS-FCB
Tuesday night’s was the fifth game this season that Barça have won after going behind

12 of the team’s 35 goals – 34,3% – have come in the final quarter of an hour

It’s been four years since Barça began a group stage with three straight wins
Below are some more facts and figures from the match at the Camp Nou

• This was the fifth game this season that Barça have come from behind to win a game, following the wins over Real Madrid(3-2), Osasuna (1-2), Spartak (3-2) and Seville (2-3). They also came behind in the league game against Madrid to draw 2-2.

• Barça have thus failed to come back on just one occasion – the 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup.

• Those comebacks are reflected in the timing of the team’s goals, with 12, of the total of 35 scored coming in the last 15 minutes.

• Jordi Alba’s winner was his second goal in two games, having scored the opener in last weekend’s opener against Deportivo.

• Alba’s goal gave Barça a deserved win, as reflected in the following stats: Barça made 998 passes to Celtic’s 229, 912 of them successful to Celtic’s 169. They had 28 shots, with 11 on target (6 and 1 for the Scottish team) and sent 19 crosses into the box, compared with just 9 from Celtic.

• Bartra’s debut means that Tito Vilanova has used 20 players so far this season.

• Bartar was the Barça man who recovered most possession in the game – with 18 interventions.

• Iniesta’s goal was his first of the season. His last goal was against Chelsea in the 2-2 draw in last season’s Champions League semi-final.
• Valdés, Mascherano, Xavi and Messi són are the only players to have started all three Champions League games so far this season and have played the most minutes in the competition, followed by Pedro and Busquets

• The game was Xavi’s 150th international match for the Club.

• It’s been four years since Barça began the group stage with three straight wins – they last did it in Guardiola’s first season on charge, 2008/09.

 

. @marcbartra91: “This is one of my happiest days since I came to Barça”

Marc Bartra, en una acció del partit contra el Celtic / FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
Marc Bartra made his debut with the first team this season against Celtic on Tuesday night and he clearly enjoyed the experience, also noting that: “wins like this help us to become more of a team”

“I had to try and put aside everything that was happening around me and Tito really helped – he knows me well and knows the how the Club works”

“Nosaltres també voldríem que els gols arribessin abans i no patir tant, però crec que aquest tipus de triomfs fan més equip i són importants”

After making his debut, Marc Bartra spoke on Barça TV’s “El Marcador” programme and explained: “I am very happy – it is one of my happiest days since I came to Barça, every player who has grown up here at the Club hopes to be able to play in games like that . It’s just like a dream. I felt fine on the pitch, I really enjoyed it – which is important. I think that I am physically in very good shape and that also helps”.

With Barça’s injury problems in defence having mounted over the last few weeks, Bartra explained that he had tried to stay detached about his own options: “I had to try and put aside everything that was happening around me and Tito really helped – he knows me well and knows the how the Club works. He found the perfect time to give me a game. You have to remember who you are and where you are and the opportunities you can get. I was calm about it and just stayed focussed on working at my job”.

Centre half – a special role with Barça

The Catalan is also well aware of the difficulties in playing in his position for a team like Barça: “you see a lot of the mistakes when they are made there. I’ve played for quite a few years here now, playing maybe 40 metres away from the keeper and having plenty of one on ones and that prepares you well. You just have to get used to that way of playing”

Important type of victories

Reflecting on the Celtic game, Bartra explained: “we wanted the goals to come sooner too and not have to suffer so much, but I think this type of victory make us more of a team and are important for us”. Finally, Bartra insisted that he is very comfortable with his role in the squad and that he will continue to work and train hard to get more chances to play.

 

Tito Vilanova: “We deserved to have the lead earlier”

Tito Vilanova during the match against Celtic Glasgow / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The Barça manager believes that his team deserved to have the lead well before Jordi Alba’s last-minute effort against Celtic Glasgow

Zubizarreta: “We need to be proud of this team”

The director of football said that Jordi Alba’s last-minute goal is proof that the players approach their games with the right mentality: “This is a team that wants to win, desires to win, that keeps on trying. We have to be proud.” Andoni Zubizarreta added: “We had a couple of chances to score earlier in the game, but it’s true that when Villa’s shot hit the post on the 90th minute, we all thought the game was over. But these players always bring more.”

Tito Vilanova doesn’t believe his team was lucky to beat Celtic Glasgow despite Jordi Alba’s last-gasp effort in the 94th minute, quite the contrary. The Barça manager said that his men were “unlucky,” especially because they “carried the weight of the game throughout the whole match.” Vilanova also said that Barça’s opponent this Tuesday evening was “very strong and very powerful on the counter,” and he reminded the gathered journalists in the press room that “it’s not easy when 10 of the other team’s players defend in their own area.” He added: “We deserved to have the lead before the last minute.”

The team’s attitude

Vilanova, who thanked the Camp Nou faithful for cheering the team on, is proud of the attitude that his players have shown in every match this season: “This team fights until the end, until the last moment. It’s never easy when big teams close themselves off at the back.”

The manager also talked about his decision to name Marc Bartra to the starting line-up: “I made the decision to field Bartra days ago. I was very sure that Marc would play in this match. I knew that he could help us because he’s fast and very good in the air. If he’s in the first team it’s because I want him here.”

He added: “I’ve very pleased with how the players compete and train, they always have smiles on their faces. That’s sufficient for me.”