Tito Vilanova: “The best way to beat the FIFA Virus is to win at Getafe”

Tito Vilanova | FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The Barça manager thinks winning all three points at the ever-difficult Coliseum Alfonso Pérez would be the best way to deal with the problem of so many absent international players being away this week

On the five-point lead over Real Madrid, Vilanova says “the important thing is that we’ve got nine points”

September 11 demo

Tito Vilanova also spoke about the independence march on the National Day of Catalonia and the repercussions it’s having. “It was a peaceful demonstration, in which one and a half million took part. If so many people take to the streets it’s because they’re not happy about something. We’re in a democracy and we have the right to express ourselves however we want. Everyone is free to express their feelings and they should be respected”.

But does he expect a hostile reception in Getafe because of the current political climate and especially following the comments made by Guardiola on the matter? Said Vilanova “I don’t think the atmosphere will be any more unfavourable than on other occasions. Guardiola, Vicente del Bosque… Let people be free to say what they like”.

Now that the international break is over, Barça return to Liga action on Saturday in search of the fourth win out of four at the ever-difficult Getafe, where they lost last season. Tito Vilanova is well aware of the dangers. “Getafe has always been a tough ground for us. Last year they sat back and defended. I just watched the game again and we weren’t comfortable with it. Their players play very tight together. I know exactly how we have to play against them”.

He also spoke about the international break, and how in its wake he has been left with three unavailable players, Iniesta, Alexis and Jordi Alba. But rather than moan about it, he’s ready to assume the consequences. “It’s inevitable” he said. “We’re lucky enough to have the best players in the world and that’s why we have to let them go. So they get injured? That could happen here too. It happens to any players at big clubs. It’s normal for people to want to play for their country, it’s a privilege”.

Cover for changes

Asked what he’ll do about the three players that are out for the game at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez, Vilanova admitted that “it changes things a bit. It doesn’t just affect the starting eleven, but also possible changes in the second half … There’s nothing we can do about it, but the best way to beat the FIFA Virus is by beating Getafe”.

Considering who’s missing, this might mean chances for Thiago and Villa. On the former, Vilanova said that “he’s been training very well over the last few weeks and is in good shape,” while on the Asturian he commented that “he can play more than 45 minutes, he’s getting better every day”. He also spoke about Cesc Fàbregas, “a top level player that would be in the first eleven of any team in the world,” and also Puyol, who has been declared fit and “feels confident with the protection and is ready to play”.

Nine points what matter most

Three matches before the clásico, Barça lead Real Madrid by five points. Vilanova reckons “the objective is to worry about each game … It’s no use looking further ahead. The most important game right now is against Getafe. It’s a difficult ground, against a team that not so long ago beat Madrid, and we know all about the difficulties we’ll face … The most important thing is that we’ve got nine points … It’s still early, and there are a lot of points left to play for and the gap is still small. The time will come when we’ll be able to think ahead, but it’s not this time”.

Jordi Alba out against Getafe but Puyol back

Carles Puyol | FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The Barça full back joins Iniesta and Alexis on the sidelines after failing to recover from the flu in time. But the captain has recovered from his fractured cheekbone and returns to the squad.
Tito Vilanova has named 19 players (17 from the first team plus Tello and Deulofeu of Barça B) for the Liga match against Getafe on Saturday (20.00)

The squad

Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Mascherano, Song, Cesc, Xavi, Villa, Messi, Thiago, Pinto, Bartra, Sergio, Pedro, Montoya, Adriano, Tello and Deulofeu.

A bout of the flu meant that Jordi Alba was missing from today’s final training session before travelling to Getafe, and it has been announced that he has been left out of the plans for the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez. Andrés Iniesta is also out with the hamstring injury he sustained in Georgia while Alexis Sánchez has a torn thigh muscle, and trained this morning in isolation.

Puyol returns

But as the injuries pile up on the one hand, on the other there is good news for Carles Puyol, who fractured a cheekbone against Osasuna has been given medical clearance to play against Getafe. Despite having to wear a facemask, he was one of the 21 players that trained this morning at the Ciudad Deportiva. Apart from Andreu Fontàs and Jonathan dos Santos, all of those will be travelling to the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez, i.e. all 17 available members of his first team plus Barça B’s Tello and Deulofeu.

Messi and Mascherano back with squad

Messi i Vilanova, a l'inici de l'entrenament. FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.
The two Argentineans were back in training with the rest of the squad after their international commitments, but Alexis Sánchez was unable to train due to a slight muscle tear

All 18 internationals who have been away over the last ten days are now back at the Club, with the Argentinean pair Leo Messi and Javier Mascherano, as well as Chile’s Alexis Sánchez the last players to come back.

Whilst Messi and Mascherano trained normally with the rest of the squad at the Ciutat Esportiva this evening, Alexix was absent after a small tear in his left thigh muscle was detected just before the session began.

The Chilean striker joins Andrés Iniesta in missing the Getafe game, with Jordi Alba also missing training with the flu. The Catalan defender will be examined by doctors on Friday to decide whether he can make the trip on Saturday.

Today’s was the first session this week that Tito Vilanova could train with the international players and B team winger Cristian Tello also took part in the session.

Barça v Real Madrid: 7th October at 7.50 pm

The next Clasico has been announced / FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The kick-off time of the Camp Nou ‘el clasico’, corresponding to round 7 of La Liga, has been announced.

The Liga de Fútbol Profesional confirmed today that the match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid will be played on 7th October at 7.50 pm. Camp Nou will host the second ‘el clasico’ of the season following on from the Spanish Super Cup match this summer (3-2).

In the run up to the Real Madrid game on 7th, Tito Vilanova’s team will take on Benfica in Portugal in the Champions League on 2nd October (8.45 pm). After Real Madrid, the league will take a break for international matches and Barca’s next clash will be against Depor in Corunna on the weekend of 20th/21st October.

@cesc4official: “I try and do better every day”

Cesc, at Camp Nou / FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
In an interview with Barça TV and www.fcbarcelona.cat, Cesc describes his delight in being a Barça player and says that the team wants to reach the next international break with the biggest possible lead over Real Madrid.

Cesc Fàbregas has spoken to Barça TV and www.fcbarcelona.cat about his form and that of the team, about what Tito Vilanova is asking of him and how it feels to work under a new manager. The midfielder, who’s in his second season back at the Camp Nou, also spoke about this Saturday’s match against Getafe and the lead the team currently enjoys over Real Madrid in the league. About all, he emphasised, “I’m very happy to be playing for Barça”.

The first match after an international break is always difficult for Barça. Why’s that?

You’ve been away for ten days and sometimes there are lengthy trips and you have to fit in once again with the training sessions, with being at home. I think it’s a bit better now because we play on Fridays and Tuesdays and you’ve got an extra day to acclimatise. That’s good for us because sometimes you get back a little tired and it’s difficult to perform at a high level again in league matches. I believe we’re Ok and also we won, which is always mentally positive”.

On Saturday you’re away to Getafe, a place that traditionally doesn’t suit Barça. Will it be tricky?

“Yes, it’s a difficult place to go. They close down well with a ten man defence and then counterattack. They play their own game. Now they’ve got some good players, they’ve made some good signings. It’s a small stadium with lots of pressure from the fans. It’ll be difficult but we’re confident we can keep this run going”.

You’ve taken nine points from nine in the league but Tito has said that some things have to be improved. How far do you think you have to go to be at 100%?

“Not far, I think. We had a good pre-season and we’ve already played five competitive matches. We’ve gradually got into shape and the truth is that the team is looking good. We have two days to prepare the match together and next week the Champions League starts. That helps you get going. Shortly, we’ll be at 100%”.

Although it’s not significant at the beginning, does the five-point lead over Real Madrid make it easier to work in peace?

“Yes but sometimes that peace is not such a good thing. We have to be natural, be ourselves, but I believe that’s how we’ve always been, whether in the lead or trailing behind. We’ve always been a squad of players who’ve been very focussed on what we have to do in the good times and the bad. I believe that’s the way we have to continue, with a positive mentality that gives the fans confidence. We have to work at 100%, as we have up to now”.

The next international break comes after the Real Madrid match on 7th October. Are you planning to keep that five-point lead until then?

That’s the objective, of course. I think we’re going to get together with the manager and the coaches and define our objectives. Barça always wants to win everything and in these league and Champions League matches we’ll try and win as many matches as possible and reach the break with a big lead over Real Madrid”.

You’ve been working with Tito for two and a half months. Have the players digested Guardiola’s departure yet or is it too soon?

“I think so. The team is very professional and it’s helped that everything’s the same, it’s all completely the same, training, the fitness programme, the coaches haven’t changed much and neither have we. The only thing that’s changed is the face. Now it’s Tito who talks to us and he’s doing really well. He’s got his own ideas and the truth is that we’re very happy”.

Do we have to demand the same from Tito as from Pep, who won 14 trophies from a possible 19?

“I think people always demand the best from a Barça manager. In this case it’s Tito’s first season and he has to do things in the way he thinks best. The players have to give 100% to try and help him do the things he wants and demands of us and put them into practice on the pitch the best way we can. And that translates into positive results”.

And what do we have to demand from Cesc?

“The same as the others and at the same time the most. I think I’ve adapted well to the squad and to the Club in general and the truth is that I’m very happy and working very hard. Last season was very positive for me and I’m trying to get better and better every day to play as I know how so that everyone’s happy with me”.

Do you think you’re a victim of the 15 goals you scored in the first half of last season? “Well, it’s a bit of everything. I’m not a 30-goal player and I’m certainly not in the running for top scorer. I’m a midfielder, like any other, but it’s true that I’ve scored quite a lot of goals in recent seasons and when I play in upfront I get in goal-scoring positions. But when I play further back I do the same work as anybody else. I try to keep my position, get the team moving and if I get the chance to score, that as well. But that’s not what the boss asks of me. I have to do what the boss tells me and that isn’t to score two goals every match. I try to do my job and I’m relaxed and very happy to be here. I just want to keep on playing for Barça and work at the maximum level”.

Do you think people appreciate you?

“Definitely! I’ve always said that, in the street, in the stadium…I feel appreciated as much as anyone and I’m not worried about that at all”.