Xavi: “These three points are very important”

Xavi celebrates his goal / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The Catalan midfielder is pleased that he was able to contribute to the team’s victory over Granada

The players agree that the team has a “winning dynamic”

Next training session on Tuesday at 19.00

FC Barcelona’s first team players will return to work on Tuesday, September 25, at 19.00 at the Ciutat Esportiva. The players will have Sunday and Monday off.

Xavi Hernández was overjoyed with Barça’s win this evening against Granada: “These three points against a well-organised Granada team are very important, they were very disciplined. It was a very complicated match but we won the three points and that’s what’s important.” The Catalan midfielder praised the visiting side’s goalkeeper: “Toño was spectacular, he saved nearly everything. The only thing that beat him was a shot from outside the area that went into the upper 90.” He added, “I’m very pleased that I scored and for what the goal means to the team. We won the match and we have a winning dynamic.”

The Barça vice-captain said that in “other seasons we wouldn’t have won this match but tonight we did. This is what it means to have a winning team.” On the distance the separates Real Madrid from Barça, Xavi was prudent: “Let’s see what they do on Sunday, but our record so far is perfect. 15 out of 15, it’s a good dynamic. Let’s see what our advantage looks like tomorrow.”

Here are the statements made by the Barça players after tonight’s match at the Camp Nou:

Alves:

“Every victory is important, but today’s was more difficult than others, but we have to be able to make it through these types of games. This isn’t to say that we did a poor job, rather our opponents played a good game.”

“I think this team is defined by the patience it displays throughout the whole match. We try to be constant in our attack, there were a couple of times where they came close to scoring but we had to take the risk. We played really well, but their keeper played better than us.”

“It’s important for us to win all three points, independently of what other teams do. It’s time to focus on next week.”

“The teams we come up against are closing themselves off at the back more and more and we need to be patient and attack in an organised manner and find the few spaces they leave us. This victory is due to our consistency and patience.”

“In the first half all of our attempts were blocked by some player’s foot or body and that’s really difficult to overcome. We have to continue like this because it’s our philosophy and it’s hard to change. We need to keep on working like this because we’re going to come up against these types of teams in the future.”

Cesc:

“We know that all of the teams are really hard to play against but I’m sticking with how we reacted in the second half. Toño played the game of his life, we came up against a rock in goal that saved everything we threw at it.”

“Starting off well is important. There will be times during the season that we won’t do as well as we’re doing now and we have to take advantage of our form. It’s excellent that we’ve won 15 out of 15 points.”

“I feel better each day, but I need that one goal. I had three good chances in the second half but they were all saved brilliantly. In the first half I had a chance but it’s true that sometimes they go in and sometimes they don’t. The important thing is that the team won and that we all have a good feeling about how things are going.”

“The important thing is winning and if you can’t score, try and help your teammate score. Xavi scored tonight, so I’m really happy.”

“It’s an important week, we have a couple of days off – I’m going to spend them at home with my family. Then it’s time to prepare for the really difficult match we have on the weekend.”

“It’s too early [to tell how the season will go], we’re putting a bit of pressure on them [Real Madrid] and they have a tough match against Rayo. We can’t relax because Real Madrid always operates well under pressure.”

FC Barcelona-Granada: Saint Xavi (2-0)

Xavi i Cesc, celebrant l'1-0 contra el Granada. FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.
A miraculous goal from the midfielder with just minutes to go, followed by an own goal, gave Barça the win in a gripping climax to a game against a surprisingly daring Granada

As Barça made it five wins out of five, Valdés made a crucial save just seconds before Barça opened the scoring at the other end

It took 86 minutes for Barça to break down a surprisingly resistant Granada. An absolute cracker of a goal from Xavi finally rewarded the Catalans for their insistence, and won a match that looked to be slipping away from them. The Andalusians did a terrific job of containing the Barça onslaught, and if it hadn’t been for a terrific save from Valdés, the visitors could even have taken the lead with a mere five minutes left on the clock. 

Unexpected difficulties

Few expected Barça to find the game as tough as it was. Rather than sit back and defend, Granada pushed forwards from the start and prevented the home side from playing their famous possession game. And as a result, Barça struggled to create serious goalscoring opportunities, only coming close twice in the first half hour. The first chance fell to Messi after a set piece in the 6th minute, and the second to Cesc, whose 22nd minute strike from the edge of the area was expertly saved by Toño.

Second half pressure

Meanwhile, Floro Flores (min 9), Mikel Rico (min 10) and Siqueira (min 30) all had chances to put the visitors ahead. The game got off to a slow start, but as half time approached, the pace became more frenetic as a new sense of urgency appeared to seep into the way Barça were playing. That increased intensity led to a stream of chances, particularly for Messi, but Granada managed to hold out until the break with the deadlock still unbroken.

Increased pressure

After the restart, Barça started finding the depth they had been lacking in the first 45 minutes. Villa, returning to the starting line-up for the first time since his injury, Song and Alexis all had chances as Granada’s defending became more and more desperate. In the 52nd minute, Vilanova sent on Xavi and Pedro in search of a goal that was surely now just a question of time, But the as the minutes ticked by, there was increasing concern that perhaps this was simply not going to be Barcelona’s night.

Thrilling finale

The concerns increased when Adriano was injured in the 72nd minute, whereupon Vilanova sent on Tello and switched to a 3-4-3 system.  But the man of the moment was Granada’s young keeper Toño, who prevented all of Messi, Cesc and Xavi from scoring from point-blank range. But just as the Barça pressure was more intense than ever, they were caught out on the counter attack, and Orellana found himself in a one-on-one with Valdés that could have changed the game if the Barça keeper hadn’t produced an extraordinary save.

Barça had no option but to throw caution to the wind, yet once again Toño came to their rescue with a tremendous save to deny Messi. But there was absolutely nothing he could do when a cracking shot from Xavi Hernández bounced off the crossbar and landed in the back of the net. As the Camp Nou breathed a sigh of relief, Barça could have extended their lead through Pedro, but eventually it was down to the omnipresent Messi to deliver the killer blow with a shot that rebounded off Borja and into his own net. Barça had suffered much more than they had expected, but it all ended 2-0, and their one hundred per cent record in La Liga remains intact.

Barça B claim the three points at the Rico Pérez (0-3)

Barça B win three points at the Rico Pérez. PHOTO: ARXIU - FCB
Eusebio’s men beat dominated Hércules at the Rico Pérez (0-3). This is the team’s fourth consecutive victory in the Liga Adelante

Barça B put in a colossal performance this Saturday at the Rico Pérez. Throughout the 90 minutes of play, the men led by Eusebio put in a great showing against Hércules and claimed their fourth consecutive victory in the Liga Adelante. In the first half ended with 0-0 on the scoreboard. But in the second, the Azulgrana reserve side only needed 20 minutes to take the lead. Luis Alberto, Lombán and Espinosa scored for Barça B.

Match report to com shortly.

Last training session before Granada clash

Thiago at the Camp Nou / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
Tito Vilanova worked with 19 first team players and 2 Barça B players (Sergi Roberto and Tello) this morning before tonight’s match against Granada at the Camp Nou

The FC Barcelona players trained for the last time this Saturday morning before tonight’s La Liga match against Granada at the Camp Nou. 21 players took to the pitch –19 available first team players plus Barça B’s Sergi Roberto and Tello.

The players will have the afternoon off and reconvene at the stadium before kick off time. The Azulgranas are due back at the Camp Nou at 20.15, kick off is scheduled for 22.00.

FC Barcelona v Granada: Five out of five?

A FCB's players / FOTO: ARXIU FCB
22.00, GolT, Canal+ Liga –Tito Vilanova’s side entertains Granada at the Camp Nou in a bid to make it five wins out five this season against a side that has yet to celebrate a single victory

The Champions League and the thriller on Wednesday against Spartak Moscow are now behind them. 72 hours after their European debut, FC Barcelona will be looking to maintain their one hundred per cent record in la Liga as they host Granada. A win would leave the league leaders in the perfect position before two of the trickiest fixtures of the season, the trip to the Sánchez Pizjuán (September 29) and the clásico against Real Madrid at the Camp Nou (October 7).

Jordi Alba back

FC Barcelona face the Andalusians with a number of absences in their rearguard. Without Puyol and Piqué, Tito Vilanova will need to change his defensive plans. The most likely candidates to join Mascherano as the other centre back are Bartra and Song, although Sergio Busquets has also shown in the past that he’s capable of playing in that position. But those problems aside, Barça can welcome back Jordi Alba, who is now fully recovered from a nasty attack of the flu.

Granada winless

It’s still early days in the domestic championship, but there are already alarm bells ringing in the Granada camp. The side now managed by Juan Antonio Anquela, who worked such wonders at Alcorcón when they knocked Real Madrid out of the cup in 2009, have yet to win a match this season. They have only two points in their account so far, picked up in home draws against Sevilla (1-1) and Deportivo (1-1). On the road, they have yet to even score, having lost 1-0 at Vallecas and 3-0 at the Bernabéu.