Hours before the final at the Maracanà, the FC Barcelona has discussed Messi’s fine form, Neymar’s injury and the signing of Suárez
He also commented on Bravo and Rakitic, as well as Spain’s early exit in Brazil
Andoni Zubizarreta, director of football at FC Barcelona, is part of the group representing the club at the World Cup Final between Argentina and Germany. The former goalkeeper is being joined in Rio de Janeiro, among others, by president Josep Maria Bartomeu, institutional vice-president Carles Vilarrubí, and his new assistant Carles Puyol, who will be handing over the trophy last won by Spain at South Africa 2010.
During his flight to Río de Janeiro, Zubizarreta gave an interview to fcbarcelona.com.
You played at the Mexico, Italy, USA and France World Cups. Four tournaments is a record for Spain that you share with Fernando Hierro. So you know what it all means. What will people remember about Brazil 2014?
“The World Cup is the greatest football festival. It brings together the finest teams, the finest coaches and the finest referees. It’s a festival enjoyed on the television, on the radio, in the papers, and it is every footballer’s dream to be there. And it only happens once every four years, so you have to make the most of your time, because you never know if you’ll ever get the chance again. I think this World Cup will be remembered for the quality of the football, for some close games, for the emergence of teams like Costa Rica that have been a breath of fresh air and brought new faces into the football world. And it’ll be remembered for the tremendous goalkeeping and of course for Germany’s historic 7-1 win over Brazil in Belo Horizonte.”
What kind of Germany v Argentina can we expect to see in a few hours?
“I’m hoping to watch a passionate final, between two contrasting styles, some enormous players on the pitch who can tip the balance through individual or group actions.”
What do you think happened to Spain?
“I think it’s hard to stay at the top of football for as long as Spain managed. Two Euros and one World Cup in a row. I think the heavy defeat in the opening game determined their fate because after that they not only had to win but also to score lots of goals. That added to the pressure against Chile and had a negative effect on their confidence. And in such a short tournament, confidence is fundamental.”
Early on in the tournament, it was FC Barcelona who were getting all the attention from the media and pundits. Messi, Neymar, Mascherano, Alves, Alexis… But what about the World Cups of goalkeeper Bravo and midfielder Rakitic, who’ve just been signed by FC Barcelona?
“Claudio Bravo showed the composure, confidence and determination of a consolidated goalkeeper and adapted perfectly to the way his team played. Rakitic was one of the playmakers for Croatia in a more defensive position than we usually saw him play at Sevilla but he brought balance to the Croatia team.”[[CITA_1]]Tell us about Luis Suárez…
“Suárez went to the World Cup after a rushed recovery from a knee injury. He got both goals against England to ensure qualification for the second round, but was then involved in a sorry episode with Italian defender Chiellini. But he showed just how good he is in front of goal and I’m sure he has learned a lesson for the future after what happened against Italy.”
What about Neymar’s injury? Was that a turning point in the competition?
“Neymar was Brazil’s most decisive player and one of the stars of the World Cup until his injury against Colombia. It was a major loss for Brazil and the World Cup in general. Brazil lost their edge in attack, and that limited their options. I just hope he gets fit quickly, and that we’ll be able to see him playing football again sooner rather than later.”[[CITA_2]]Messi is about to play the biggest game of his life. How does a star like him prepare for something like this?
“It is hard to imagine what somebody goes through before a game as important as this. I think Messi will focus on his football, the game, the play. In his ability to change the course of the game but also to create chances for his team-mates. I’m sure we’ll get to see some of the skills that are so typical of him, but he knows more than anyone that the only important thing in a final is to win.”
How would you explain the differences between European and American football?
“American football has traditionally been about playing the ball and flair, and European football has been more physical and tactical. But the game is so universal now that the difference is less clear. Many Americans play in Europe and playing the ball is now the way for everyone. But at specific moments you still see elements of the kind of football that hasn’t so much been defined by continents as it has by countries and their particular football histories.The colours, flags and anthems have been different, but this World Cup has still been very much about Barça. Neymar, Alves, Messi, Mascherano, Spain, Song, Alexis, Bravo, Rakitic, Suárez… How will all of that blend together at FC Barcelona next year under Luis Enrique?
“At FC Barcelona we always strive to play our own way, with possession of the ball, attacking football, daring plays, intensity, speed. We work on that every day, concentrating not just on big things, but minor details too, while varying our tactics, ensuring that we are the protagonists of every match and every competition.”
The big day has arrived for the FC Barcelona duo, as they prepare to take on Germany in the World Cup Final
But they’ll need to overcome a Germany side that wowed the world with a 7-1 win over hosts Brazil
After one month of gripping football, the World Cup is down to the last two. At the Maracanà in Rio de Janeiro, Argentina and Germany are about to face each other in a star-studded final. Leo Messi and Javier Mascherano will both be in Alejandro Sabella’s starting eleven as they seek to lead the South Americans to their third World Cup title.
Two key players
The Barça duo have been the two most outstanding players for Argentina so far in the tournament. Leo Messi, has scored four goals himself and has played a part in all of the others, while Mascherano has been a veritable midfield general, and has saved the day on several occasions with some stellar defending. Sabella knows how important they are to the team, and both are unquestionable starters tonight at the Maracanà.
But this will be the toughest test yet for the 1978 and 1986 world champions, for they are up against arguably the most impressive side in the tournament so far. Müller, with five goals, Kroos, man of the match against Brazil, Klose, who just broke the all-time goalscoring record at the World Cup, and Neuer, who has been astoundingly solid in goal are just four of the amazing players in the German line-up, but rather than individuals, it’s the way they play as a team that has impressed the most. Their 7-1 win against hosts Brazil in the semi-final was one of the most staggering results not just in football history, but in any sport.
Solid defence, strong attack
Both sides have been solid at the back in the six games they played to get here. Argentina have only leaked three goals, and Germany just four. But while Argentina have scored eight goals, four of those via Messi, the Europeans have more than doubled that tally with 17, almost three a game, although the figure is obviously boosted by that amazing display against Brazil.
So, the stage is set at the Maracanà for what promises to be an intense battle between two highly experienced aides. And FC Barcelona will be well represented. The main attractions will be Messi and Mascherano on the field, but watching from the stands will be president Josep Maria Bartomeu, director of sport Andoni Zubizarreta, his new assistant, Carles Puyol, and vice-president Carles Vilarrubí.
Messi (28), Neymar (9) and Luis Suárez (31) scored 68 league goals between them last season
The Uruguayan arrives at the club as the current holder of the Golden Boot
Luis Suárez brings even more goalscoring potential to FC Barcelona. The current holder of the Golden Boot completes one of the most lethal forward lines ever assembled in world football.
Last season, the Uruguayan topped the goalscoring charts in the Premier League with 31 goals, and that was despite starting the campaign late due to suspension. Only Cristiano Ronaldo, with whom he shared the Golden Boot, was able to match him in Europe. And now that he’ll be playing alongside Leo Messi and Neymar, Barça can boast an attack that is sure to strike fear into defences throughout the continent.
Leo Messi was the third top scorer in Europe last season and second in La Liga with 28 goals (41 in all competitions) to keep his team in contention for the title right up to the final day. Despite missing a large chunk of the season through injury, the Argentinian still managed to be one European football’s top scorers.
Neymar was adapting to life in Europe last season, and also had to cope with injury woes, but still found the target nine times in the domestic championship, and 15 times in all competitions. As part of this incredible trio of strikers, he is sure to score even more in his second season at FCB.
In total, the trio scored 68 league goals last season, which means that there is plenty to look forward to at the Camp Nou next season. The goals are guaranteed, and those goals will surely place Barça among the favourites to win back the titles that went missing last term.
Luis Suárez is the 17th Uruguayan to wear the FC Barcelona shirt, but can you remember any of the others?
Héctor Scarone was Barça’s first big name foreign signing, but another Uruguayan, Josep Mascaró, was one of the club’s earliest players in 1903
Luis Suárez continues a long Uruguayan tradition at Barça, following on from the likes of Villaverde, Benítez and Enrique Fernández
FC Barcelona have had players from all corners of the world over the years. But the first major international signing was a Uruguayan. Héctor Scarone arrived in 1925, and 89 years on, the 17th Uruguayan is about to wear the famous Barcelona shirt, Luis Suárez, one of the biggest stars in the global game. He has just been crowned leading goalscorer in the English Premier League, enough to win him the 2013/14 Golden Boot, an accolade he shares with Cristiano Ronaldo, both with 31 goals.
His compatriots that have made the same journey before him have included Martín Cáceres, the most recent example, and Ramón Alberto Villaverde, Julio César Benítez and Enrique Fernández.
First international signing
Héctor Scarone, the ‘Wizard’, arrived at FC Barcelona in the summer of 1925. He was the first big-name foreigner to ever be signed by the club in the professional era. His club Samiter, was at Les Corts to play a friendly against Barça and the skilful striker caught everyone’s eye. He was persuaded to play for Barça in the 1925/1926 season, winning the Spanish Cup and scoring nine goals. But he wasn’t the club’s first Uruguayan. That was Josep Mascaró, way back in the formative years of the club (1903) and the next to arrive would be Ricardo Faccio (1934), who like Mascaró only ever played friendlies, and never any official matches..
The next Uruguayan was Enrique Fernández. He came in 1934 to play under the orders of Franz Platko and Patrick O’Connell, and helped the team to two consecutive Catalonian Championships and into the Spanish Cup Final 1936. He played 17 league games and scored eight goals that season and eventually left with a record of 39 appearances and 22 goals. Fernández returned to the club in 1947/48, after retiring from the game due to a serious knee injury, this time to manage the first team for three seasons, winning two league titles in a row.
In 1949, with Enrique Fernández still as manager, two more Uruguayans arrived: Luis Prais and Salaverry. Salaverry was a striker for one season, while Luis Prais played his last ever season as a professional in the FC Barcelona defence.
Four years later, in 1954, Barça brought in Ramon Alberto Villaverde from Millonarios Bogota, where he’d played alongside Di Stéfano. He made his debut at Les Corts against Sevilla on August 12, scoring a header in a 4-2 win. He’d go on to play 322 times for Barça either out wide or in the middle of defence, and became a firm favourite during his nine years of service to the club. He won the league twice under Helenio Herrera, as well as two Fairs Cups and three Spanish Cups.
Two players arrived from Deportivo la Coruña that year: Luis Suárez and the seventeenth Uruguayan, Dagoberto Moll, who only played 16 times for the first team, scoring four goals. He ended up playing for the reserves, known at the time as CD Comtal, which in 1956/57 played in the first division with Moll playing 13 games and scoring twice.
Benítez, much remembered
Julio César Benítez made history at Barça. One of the finest right backs ever to wear the colours, the club’s ninth Uruguayan was here from 1961 to 1968. He was remarkably quick, and was an expert penalty taker. A huge fan favourite, he won the cup in 1963 and the Fairs Cups in 1966. But Julio César Benítez is also remembered for his tragic and unexpected end. On April 6, 1968 the club was shocked to learn the news that he had died at the age of just 27 years.
In 1962, Barcelona, welcomed Luis Cubilla from Peñarol. In two seasons, he played 48 official games and scored 14 goals. He won the cup in 1963. A year later, Silveira came to the Camp Nou from Independiente de Avellaneda of Argentina. He played 14 games in his only season at the club.
Eduardo Endériz signed in 1966 from Valladolid, and was on the Barça books for two seasons. Because of injury, he only got to play five games, but did leave with a cup medal, won in 1967.
Uruguayan number 13 was Alfredo Amarillo who made his Barça debut on December 5, 1976 against Las Palmas, winning 4-0. In his two seasons, he won the Spanish Cup.
In 1983, Julio César Jiménez joined the Barça reserves from Ferro Carril Oeste in Argentina. After one year in the second division, in 1990, Néstor Martín played one preseason game for Barça against Sabadell, but was eventually left out of the first team roster.
The last Uruguayan before Luis Suárez was Martín Cáceres, who joined FC Barcelona under Guardiola in 2008. He scored his first goal on August 4, 2008 against Chivas USA on the preseason tour, and made his official debut on October 22 in the Champions League against FC Basel. He was in the side that won the treble of the Spanish Cup, Liga and Champions League.
The Uruguayan has scored at least ten goals in every league season he has played as a professional
He started by scoring 10 goals in 27 matches for Nacional in the Uruguayan League in 2006
He’s won the Golden Boot twice, first in 2010, with 35 goals in 33 matches, and in 2014 he got 31 goals in 33 matches
Barça’s new signing Luis Suárez has smashed goalscoring records wherever he has played. He’s known for his astonishing skill, goalscoring instinct and powerful physique, and he just seems to get better and better. He has scored at least ten goals in every season he has played as a professional.
Born on January 24, 1987 in Salt (Uruguay), Suárez joined Nacional, Montevideo aged 11 years. He made his first team debut on May 3, 2005, against Junior Barranquilla in the Copa Libertadores. He soon made his mark by scoring 10 goals in 27 matches in the 2006 league season. When he was 19 he was transferred to FC Groningen in Holland, where his 17 goals were enough to attract the attention of Ajax Amsterdam, who signed him for the next season.
Suárez was in Amsterdam for four seasons, where he scored over 100 goals and eventually became first team captain. He got 17 goals in his first year, and the one after went even better with 22. He was voted Player of the Year on the back of his 35 goals in 2009-10 and also won the European Golden Boot, while also helping Ajax back into the Champions League and also winning the Dutch Cup, although his club failed to conquer the league title.
During the 2010 transfer window, he switched to the Premiership and Liverpool, where he scored 4 goals to add to the 7 he’d already scored for Ajax that season. In fact, he scored the winner on his debut for his new club. In 2011-2012, he was Liverpool’s top goalscorer with 11 goals in 31 league matches. Success just didn’t stop flowing for Suárez, for in 2012-2013 he’d be named second best player in the Premier League after scoring 23 goals in 33 appearances.
Breaking English records
But last season, 2013-2014, was his best yet. He scored 31 goals in 33 games, topping the goalscoring charts in the English championship and winning the Player of the Season award. That also topped the club record of 30 goals by Welshman Ian Rush in 1980/1996, and he also became the first player to score two or more goals in five consecutive matches at Anfield, the first Liverpool player to score three hat tricks against the same team (Norwich) and the first since Robbie Fowler to score 20 or more goals in back-to-back campaigns. He ended the season as joint winner of the European Golden Boot, an honour he shared with Cristiano Ronaldo.
With a total of 170 goals in all the leagues he has played in, he is now arriving at Barça with his sights set on creating even more history.
2005/06: 10 goals, 27 league matches
2006/07: 10 goals, 29 matches
2007/08: 17 goals, 33 matches
2008/09: 22 goals, 31 matches
2009/10: 35 goals, 33 matches
2010: 7 goals, 13 matches
2010/11: 4 goals, 13 matches
(total of 11 that season including those for Ajax)
2011/12: 11 goals, 31 matches
2012/13: 23 goals, 33 matches
2013/14: 31 goals, 33 matches
Total League Goals: 170