Éric Abidal training in Vall d’Aran

Abidal, fent treball de camp a la Vall d'Aran. FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.
During his stay, where he’ll be following a specific plan, the French defender will be combining aerobic work with activities on the field, which will start to include exercises with the ball

Éric Abidal is currently undertaking a specific work schedule in Vall d’Aran in the company of first team physio Emili Ricart. The player is still recovering from his liver transplant in April. In recent weeks, he has been doing specific training exercises in the Ciutat Esportiva under the supervision of the Club’s doctors and fitness coaches.

While he is in the Vall d’Aran, a natural park in the Pyrenees, the player will be combining aerobics with mountain hikes and exercises on the football pitch, in which the ball will also start coming into play.

Clasico and Champions League in the top videos of the week

El mosaic del Camp Nou per al Clàssic / FOTO: ÁLEX CAPARRÓS - FCB
Review the bests videos of the week: Clasico, Magic Johnson, Champions League and more

Clasico, Champions League and iconic players as Magic Johnson or Rivaldo are the stars of the videos of the week.

10. Aimar Messi’s childhood idol

9.Rivaldo enjoys Barça

8. Maynard: “We learn when we face a challenge”

7. 20 goals in 20 Clasicos

6. Magic Johnson: “Messi is my favorite, he’s my man”

5. Barça Toons ready for Clasico

4. Highlights Benfica-Barça

3. Puyol returns to Barcelona

2. Leo Messi: “We would have liked to win”

1. The Mosaic with Senyera at the Clásico

Due to another international break, Tito Vilanova will be missing no fewer than 15 members of his squad for the next few

Due to another international break, Tito Vilanova will be missing no fewer than 15 members of his squad for the next few days

Yet another international break means that FC Barcelona’s first team will be reduced to just a handful of players for about ten days. An astonishing 15 players have been called up for international duty, some for key games in the Brazil 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Eight FCB players in Spain squad

Vicente del Bosque has called on the services of all of Valdés, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fàbregas, Iniesta, Pedro, Xavi and Villa for Spain’s World Cup qualifying campaign, which got off to a winning start in Georgia last month. This week they travel to winless Belarus before hosting main group rivals France in Madrid.

Belarus v Spain
Friday, October 12 (19.00, CET), in Minsk

Spain v France
Tuesday, October 16 (21.00), in Madrid

In addition, two other first team members, Montoya and Bartra, plus Tello, Planas, Deulofeu and Sergi Roberto from Barça B, have been picked for the Spain U21 squad that faces Denmark over two legs this week in the playoffs for qualification for next year’s finals in Israel.

Spain v Denmark
Thursday, October 11 (20.45), in Burgos

Denmark v Spain
Tuesday, October 16 (18.30), in Aalborg

Alexis against Messi and Mascherano as Chile meet Argentina

Just three points separate the top six in South America’s fascinating World Cup qualifying section. Argentina, with Messi and Mascherano in the side, lead the way with 14 points from 7 games and this weekend meet famous rivals Uruguay, currently fourth. The day before, Barça’s Alexis is in action for Chile as they battle against the altitude and a strong Ecuadorian team in Quito. A few days later, Alexis will be up against his two club colleagues as Chile entertain their eastern neighbours in Santiago.

Argentina v Uruguay
Saturday, October 13 (02.00, CET), in Mendoza

Ecuador v Chile
Friday, October 12 (21.00, CET), a Quito

Chile v Argentina
Wednesday, October 17 (02.05, CET), in Santiago

Brazil with Adriano but not Alves

Host nation Brazil have qualified automatically for the finals, but have a couple of friendlies programmed this week, both in Europe against Asian opposition. Alves misses out after suffering an injury in the clásico, but Adriano will be travelling both to Sweden to face Iraq and to Poland to take on Japan.

Brazil v Iraq
Thursday, October 11 (20.30), in Malmö

Japan v Brazil
Tuesday, October 16 (14.10), in Wroclaw

Song looking to lead Cameroon recovery

Alex Song is the only Barça international with just one game this week, but it’s a massive one. After being stunned 2-0 in Praia in the first leg of their African Cup of Nations playoff last month, Cameroon need to turn things around at home to the small island country looking to qualify for a major finals for the first time ever.

Cameroon v Cape Verde
Sunday, October 14 (16.00, CET), in Yaoundé



International press hail epic Clásico

Messi celebrates his second goal / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
Round up of the international press after the showdown at the Camp Nou between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid

Gabriele Marcotti: “They [Messi & Ronaldo] belong in the same conversation as Pele, Diego Armando Maradona, Alfredo Di Stefano and others you may care to name”
Phil Ball: “Thirteen clasicos in the last two years: unlucky for some, but not for many. There are those who claim to be tiring of the circus but, with games of the quality of Sunday night’s, it seems churlish to complain.”

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

“Let’s face it, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been in a state of independence for a long time now: independent from their peers; existing outside the laws of football and occasionally of physics too,” says Pete Jenson for The Independent on Sunday night’s showdown between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou.

Rob Hughes, writing for The New York Times, notes that what’s truly extraordinary “about these two individuals [Messi and Ronaldo] is that they transcend the team sport — and do so time and time again.  It isn’t simply a case of counting their goals. If that were the attraction, then we must include Radamel Falcao, the Colombian now matching them goal for goal in the Spanish league.”

Writing for ESPN, Gabriele Marcotti says that Messi and Ronaldo “showed leadership and work rate and, between them, scored all four goals. They belong in the same conversation as Pele, Diego Armando Maradona, Alfredo Di Stefano and others you may care to name. And one day we’ll be able to tell our grand-children we witnessed this stellar rivalry first-hand.”

Everyone won las night

“There wasn’t a way to break the 2-2 deadlock, a scoreline that ratifies the difference of eight points,” muses El País’ Ramon Besa. Despite the fact that Barça and Madrid’s interests weren’t served Sunday night, Mr. Besa points out that “no one was displeased with [the result], [how could they be] after one of the best games in recent memory featuring to the talent of both teams and the world class of Messi and Ronaldo.”

A point Phil Ball, ESPN columnist, agrees with: “Thirteen clasicos in the last two years: unlucky for some, but not for many. There are those who claim to be tiring of the circus but, with games of the quality of Sunday night’s, it seems churlish to complain.” Mr. Ball adds: “For some reason that is not altogether clear, this generation of Real Madrid and Barcelona players seem hell-bent on entertaining us, whatever the particular circumstances surrounding the game.”

“Football won,” says the Argentinean sports daily Olé. “Yes, it ended in a draw, but the spectator won, regardless if you’re neutral, or a fan of either team.”

Sunday night’s unsung hero

While the headlines across the globe praise the two biggest stars in the world of football, Lobo Carrasco highlights the performance of Barça’s defensive midfielder: “Sergio Busquets’ work was immeasurable in winning back possession and ball distribution for the benefit of Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc and Messi, the players that had to run the attack. Every inch of the pitch was in contention but the skill, temperance and ability to prolong the team’s possessions led Tito’s men to a completely different game.”

Messi, the boss of the Clásico

The Argentinean has now scored 17 goals against Real Madrid and is just one short of the record in the fixture held by Alfredo Di Stéfano

Messi has scored 12 goals and provided five assists in the 11 games he’s played for the Club so far this season

Leo Messi is the first player to score 100 league goals at the Camp Nou

Messi’s favourite victims

18 goals: Atlético Madrid
17 goals: Real Madrid
14 goals: Sevilla
12 goals: Zaragoza, Racing and Osasuna

Messi had gone an uncharacteristic three games without a goal before Sunday’s big match, but he was back doing what he does so well against Madrid, scoring his fifth brace of goals so far this season after scoring twice against Real Societat, Osasuna, Getafe and Spartak Moscow. He’s now scored 12 goals in 11 official games this season, as well as providing five assists.

One goal behind Di Stéfano

Sunday’s goals mean Messi has now scored 17 against Real Madrid, two more than Raul and just one short of Alfredo Di Stéfano, who holds the record in this fixture. The Madrid legend scored 14 in league games between the two, whilst Messi has so far scored 10, but has scored more in other competitions.

150 goals at the Camp Nou

The two goals against Madrid also took Messi to 100 league goals at the Camp Nou and 150 in all competitions, whilst he’s bagged 115 on the road. In the calendar year 2012 he has so far managed 65 goals and 20 assists for both Barça and Argentina.