Barça arrive in Málaga

Tito Vilanova / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The team, with Tito Vilanova leading the way, landed in the Andalusian city a little after noon. Kick off at La Rosaleda is at 21.00

Barça will close out the first half of La Liga this evening away to Málaga. The team arrived in the Andalusian city a little after 12.00 PM. Tito Vilanova, who led yesterday’s training session, also joined the team for the trip south and he’ll be on the bench at La Rosaleda this evening. The manager has named 20 footballers to the team, among them Adriano, who was given the medical all-clear to play. David Villa, however, will miss the match due to injury.

Club vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the director of football, Andoni Zubizarreta, accompanied the team to Málaga. Club director Pilar Guinovart, who didn’t travel with the team, will meet up with the squad this evening.

 

9 pm, Canal Plus – Barça brings the curtain down on the first half of the season with a match against fourth placed Mala

PHOTO: ARCHIVE FCB
9 pm, Canal Plus – Barça brings the curtain down on the first half of the season with a match against fourth placed Malaga

FC Barcelona has reached the halfway mark in the league season with some incredible stats. Truly historic. The team will be aiming to round off an amazing run of results with another win against Malaga on Sunday evening (9 pm, Canal Plus). It will be the first of three matches in just 12 days against the Andalus side and a chance to boost confidence ahead of the quarterfinal Cup tie which gets underway in the Camp Nou on Wednesday.

Villa injury blow

David Villa has been ruled out of Sunday’s match after picking up a leg injury in training on Saturday. The positive news is that Adriano has been declared fit for action and is among the 20 players who will make the trip south to Andalusia. Two players will be excluded from the final squad.

Inconsistent form

Malaga goes into the game on the back of a shock defeat to Deportivo last weekend in the Riazor (1-0). Before then, the side managed by Chilean coach Manuel Pellegrini had put together a three-match winning run with victories against Granada (4-0), Sevilla (0-2) and Real Madrid (3-2). Malaga has a good record against the top sides this season on their own turf with wins against Levante (3-1), Betis (4-0) and Valencia (4-0) in addition to Real Madrid. In contrast they’ve dropped points at home against some of the weaker teams.

Malaga will be without right back Jesus Gámez, who will probably be replaced by Sergio Sánchez. The rest of Pellegrini’s first choice players should be available including Isco, Joaquín and former Barça star Saviola.

Roura: “Malaga are having an extraordinary season”

Roura, en roda de premsa / FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
Roure reckons Malaga “are a very tough opponent”.

Confirms that Tito Vilanova will be in charge at La Rosaleda

“I think Pedro is the home grown player who has improved most. Frankly, he’s been spectacular and I think he serves as an example for the rest of the youngsters coming through”
“ Tito is very strong and he’s up for the game, which we can all see. He is the head coach and just having him around motivates us all. It’s important that he is there”

Jordi Roura warned of the dangers that fourth placed Malaga pose ahead of Sunday’s game down on the Costa Del Sol: “it’s true of course that they had a few financial problems in the summer, but that hasn’t really affected them. They are putting in an extraordinary season under Manuel Pellegrini – an experienced coach whose team are a very tough opponent”.

Vilanova: “You can always tell when he’s there”

Roure also confirmed that Tito Vilanova will be in charge of the team at La Rosaleda: “ Tito is very strong and he’s up for the game, which we can all see. He is the head coach and just having him around motivates us all. It’s important that he is there”.

Villa out, but nearly full squad: “a blessing”

Roura also expressed his disappointment at Villa’s absence in Malaga. “he couldn’t finish the game against Cordoba, because we took him off to be on the safe side. We waited to see if he improved and he felt a twinge today so he won’t travel”. It’s great news for us though that we have nearly the whole squad fit – that makes picking the team harder but that’s a blessing and problem coaches are happy to have”.

Finally, Roura expressed his satisfaction with Pedro: “I think he is the home grown player who has improved most. Frankly, he’s been spectacular and I think he serves as an example for the rest of the youngsters coming through”.

The striker pulled a leg muscle in Saturday’s training session and will miss Sunday’s game against Malaga

PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
The striker pulled a leg muscle in Saturday’s training session and will miss Sunday’s game against Malaga

However, Adriano has received the green light from Club doctors and has been included in a 20-man squad for the Rosaleda

La llista

Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Montoya, Piqué, Puyol, Bartra, Song, Mascherano, Alba, Adriano, Cesc, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Thiago, Pedro, Alexis, Messi i Tello

David Villa has been ruled out of Sunday’s clash against Malaga after straining a leg muscle in training on Saturday afternoon. Just how long he’ll be out of action will depend on his progress in the next few days.

20-man squad

On the plus side, Adriano Correia is back in contention after missing out on the win against Cordoba. Piqué, Xavi, Iniesta and Pedro, all of whom were rested for the Cup game, have also been named in the squad of 20 players who will make the trip to Malaga. Dos Santos has been dropped from the squad while Cuenca, Muniesa and Abidal remain on the injury list.

Saturday training session

Tito Vilanova led the training session before announcing his squad. Both Cuenca and Adriano worked out with the main group.

The players will leave the Camp Nou for Malaga at 9.15 am on Sunday and are due to land in Malaga at 12 noon. The match will kick off at 9 pm (Canal Plus).

Five years since Pedro’s debut with the first team

Pedro va debutar fa cinc anys
Pedro made his debut on January 12th 2008 against Murcia, under head coach Frank Rijkaard

Pedrito has been Pedro for quite a while now and this Saturday marks the fifth anniversary of his debut with the first team, made on January 12th 2008 in a game against Murcia. Coach Frank Rijkaard gave him his start, bringing him on for the final minute.

Below we look back over his first team career through ten unforgettable events:

12th January 2008. Barça first team debut. Comes on for just a minute in place of Samuel Eto’o against Murcia (4-0). Later that campaign he gets five more minutes against Valladolid (4-1).

16th August 2009. Gets his first goal, in the ‘Cathedral’ of San Mamés, against Athletic Bilbao in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup, helping Barça to a 1-2 lead in the tie.

20th August 2009. Signs his first contract with the senior squad, though he had already made 14 competitive appearances in the 2008/09 season at the orders of Pep Guardiola.

28th August 2009. His second first team goal – scored in the second half of extra time – secures the European Super Cup in Monaco against Shakhtar Donetsk (1-0).

16th December 2009. His goals in Abu Dhabi (including a decisive strike in the final) help Barça win the Club’s first World Club Cup and make him the first player ever to score in six different competitions in the same season. His gift for goals is confirmed.

27th February 2010. Celebrates his 50th appearance with the first team with another decisive goal against Malaga in the Camp Nou (2-1), bringing his total to 16 in his opening half century of matches.

20th May 2010. His Club form (23 goals in 52 appearances) brings him to the attention of Spain manager Vicente del Bosque, who hands him his international squad debut for the World Cup in South Africa. Forms part of the opening line-up in the team that lifts the winner’s trophy in the final.

29th January 2011. Scores in six consecutive league matches, equalling the record jointly held by Escolà (1944/45), Quini (1980/81) and Stoitchkov (1993/94).

28th May 2011. Yet another goal helps Barça to a fourth Champions League final win, in Wembley.

25th May 2012. Once again, he helps Barça to another final victory with two goals in the Spanish Cup final against Athletic Club (3-0).