Good record of home debuts

Lionel Messi / PHOTO: ARXIU FCB
Barça, who kick off their Champions League campaign on Wednesday against Spartak Moscow at the Camp Nou, have won 7 and drawn the other in their last 8 home European debuts

The team average 3.4 goals in the opening games they’ve played at home

Last eight home openers

11/12 FCB 2-2 AC Milan
10/11 FCB 5-1 Panathinaikos
08/09 FCB 3-1 Sporting Lisbon
07/08 FCB 3-0 Lyon
06/07 FCB 5-0 Levski Sofia
02/03 FCB 3-2 Bruges
00/01 FCB 4-0 Leeds
94/95 FCB 2-1 Galatasaray

Barça have never lost their first game in the Champions League when it’s been played at the Camp Nou. Over the last eight games when they have opened their campaign at home, Barça have won seven – with last year’s 2-2 draw against AC Milan the only time they’ve failed to claim an opening home victory.

The only elimination

Starting the campaign with a home win has almost always meant classification for the next round too, with the team failing to make it through only in the 2000/01 campaign. On all the other occasions when they’ve started out at the Camp Nou, the team have made it through to the next round.

Points and goals

It’s not just the wins that have impressed though – it’s the goals, with the team averaging 3.4 goals in those eight games – the biggest win coming two years ago when they beat Panathinaikos in the first game and then went on to win the Club’s fourth European Club.

Happy Birthday #Tito44

Tito Vilanova / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.
The Barça boss will be celebrating his 44th birthday this Monday – at a moment when the team head the La Liga table and are about to make their 2012 -13 Champions League debut

Tito Vilanova is 44 this Monday, September 17th and for the first time he can celebrate his birthday as the Barça manager after taking over from Pep Guardiola in the summer

Tito has also imposed his personality on the group, imbuing them with his winning mentality

Three months and ten days after his official presentation as Barça manager, the team are sitting unbeaten and with maximum points at the head of the league table, with four wins from four games, 12 goals scored and just 3 conceded. The only blot on the landscape so far since Tito took over was the defeat to Madrid on away goals in the Spanish Super Cup.

The Vilanova style

Vilanova’s team are showing many of the characteristics of the successful last four years, with a commitment to an elegant, intense and attacking passing game and to bringing through young home grown players. Tito has also imposed his personality on the group, imbuing them with his winning mentality.

Barça top La Liga and are about to begin their challenge for this season’s Champions League with the game against Spartak Moscow on Wednesday and Vilanova has given the squad a well deserved day off today, with the next training session scheduled for Tuesday evening at the Camp Nou.

Sergio Busquets: "This has only just begun"

Sergio Busquets / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
Busquets is delighted with the team’s impeccable start to the season and the eight-point lead over Real Madrid. But speaking at Sunday morning’s press conference he insisted, “There’s a long way to go”

Puyol injury blow

Sergio Busquets expressed his disappointment about the injury suffered by Carles Puyol this Saturday against Getafe: “He’ll be missed because he brings the team a lot and because he’s the captain. He’s always optimistic. The tests have confirmed the post-match diagnosis”.

For Sergio Busquets, the fact that FC Barcelona has already won in Pamplona and Getafe, two of the games the team lost last season, is a good sign. However, he stressed today that, “Every league is different and there’s a long way to go”. As for the eight-point lead over Real Madrid, he insisted that it lessen the pressure on the players. “We play each match with the idea of winning without looking at what the rest are doing”.

Squad focussed

Busquets, who declined to comment on Mourinho’s remarks after Real Madrid lost to Sevilla, explained that the Barça squad are fully focussed on the job in hand. “We’re looking to ourselves. There’s a long way to go in the league. We go out to win every match and that’s all. I’m not in Mourinho’s shoe. The gap is surprising, but this has only just begun. Now we’re focussed on having a good match in the Champions League”.

Sergio Busquets has just celebrated his fourth anniversary as a Barça first team player: “Everything’s gone by so quickly and the truth is I never imagined I’d win so many titles. I’m very happy. My role has been important, I’ve played a lot, and I would never have imagined it. I hope I’ll have many more years with Barça and win many more titles”,

Finally, Busquets explained that Tito Vilanova is asking him to do “more or less the same” as the previous manager, Josep Guardiola: “It always depends, above all, on the playing system of each opponent”. He also spoke about Thiago: “He’s a very important player and we’ve missed him. It’s obvious that he brings a lot to the team and that’s he’s got power and quality. He’s very young and he’ll be very important”.

Training with CL match ball

Sunday's training session / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The squad had a light training session on Sunday morning focussed on recovering from the match against Getafe but with an eye on Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Spartak Moscow

Following on from the win in the Coliseum Alfonso Perez, the players reported for training on Sunday morning with the main focus being on recovering from their efforts against Getafe.

On Wednesday, Barça will kick off their Champions League campaign against Spartak Moscow in the Camp Nou and in today’s session the players got their first touch of the match ball that will be used on Wednesday. They will have the day off on Monday and return to training on Tuesday.

Alba absent with flu, Alexis continues recovery

Jordi Alba, who missed out on the match against Getafe, is still recovering from flu and so was also absent from today’s training session. Meanwhile, Alexis Sanchez continued his recovery process apart from the main group.

Academy players join in

Twelve players from the Barça B squad joined the senior players in today’s session: Tello, Deulofeu, Masip, Bañuz, Gómez, Araujo, Cá, Gustavo, Espinosa, Román, Quintillà and Dongou, plus Sanabria from the youth squad.

Barça turns defeats into victories

PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
FC Barcelona has made a great start to the league season with two wins away to Osasuna and Getafe, stadiums where the team lost last year

And a win away to Getafe is a lucky omen; a victory there has always been followed by Barça taking the league title

Messi has already broken his own goal scoring record for a calendar year with 61 goals so far in 2012

Here are some of the positive facts thrown up by Barça’s 1-4 victory over Getafe:

Barça has already won in both of the stadiums where the team lost last year (1-2 in Pamplona and 1-4 in Getafe). Last season Barça lost these matches 3-2 and 1-0, respectively.

•  So Barça has already come out on top in two of the three league matches lost last season. The third was the game against Real Madrid in the Camp Nou. Barça can make it three out of three when the two sides meet on 7th October.

•  Barça has always gone on to lift the league title after winning away to Getafe.

•  The starting line-up in the Coliseum Alfonso Perez featured no fewer than 10 players brought up through the Club’s youth academy. The odd-man-out was Adriano.

•  The final score of 1-4 was a fair reflection of the opportunities enjoyed by both sides. Getafe had 6 shots compared to Barça’s 15.

•  Barça’s clear dominance of the game is also reflected in the stats for possession (67%) and passes completed (248 for Getafe against 619 for Barça).

•  With Messi starting the match on the subs bench, Valdes is now the only player in the squad to have played every minute of every match so far.

•  Piqué moves ahead of Messi into second place in the same ranking of minutes played with 492 compared to Messi’s 486.

•  As of 16th September Messi has already surpassed his personal best of 60 goals in a calendar year, which he established in 2011. His provisional tally for 2012 now stands at 61.

•  Montoya and Thiago made their first appearances of the season in the starting line-up. For Thiago it was also his first game after recovering from injury.

•  On Saturday, Adriano played his 200th game in the Spanish league. And just as he did against Valencia before the international break, he scored the opening goal of the match, his sixth in 75 games for Barça.