. @AdrianoCorreia6 : “I’m in the prime of my career”

Adriano during this afternoon's press conference at the Ciutat Esportiva / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The Azulgrana defender hopes to remain injury free and start “the season off on the right foot” by winning the Spanish Super Cup

The Brazilian defines Tito Vilanova as “very calm, intelligent; he knows what he wants – he has very good character”

“Tito is the commander now. He’s very calm, intelligent; he knows what he wants – he has very good character”
“It’s always appetising to play against Madrid and we hope to start off the season on the right foot by winning the Super Cup”

Adriano Correia is set to start his third season as a FC Barcelona player with a lot of confidence thanks to his physical fitness. For the past couple of months, the Brazilian has been injury free and today, during his pre-training press conference, he stated that he’s in optimal condition to play official matches. “I’m in the prime of my career,” said the 28-year-old defender.

Everything is ready for the start of the season

On Sunday Barça will play its first match of the 2012/13 La Liga season, at the Camp Nou against Real Sociedad (21.00). Adriano said that he the team is 100% ready, even though some of the players joined the team’s pre-season later than others. “The team is in condition to play, despite the fact that some footballers didn’t have as much rest as others, the players that joined the team later on are in good condition.” The Brazilian also warned that FC Barcelona and Real Madrid won’t be the only teams to challenge for this season’s title. “There are always surprise teams, last year we had Levante or Málaga.” He added that the team’s objective is to “maintain the level of play in order to stay at the top [of the league]” while noting that he’s aware that “we can improve on what we did last year.”

La Liga will kick off this weekend, but in seven days the Azulgranas will host Real Madrid in the away leg of the Spanish Super Cup. “It’s always appetising to play against Madrid and we hope to start off the season on the right foot by winning the Super Cup.”

“Tito is the commander now”

Exactly a month ago this Thursday Tito Vilanova was presented as FC Barcelona’s head manager. After a month of working under the Catalan, Adriano said that “the work is the same we did under Pep.” In addition, the player went on to say that Vilanova, with a character that is clearly defined, is his own man: “he’s the commander now. He’s very calm, intelligent; he knows what he wants – he has very good character.”

Eusebio: “We're ready for the season to start”

Eusebio Sacristán / PHOTO: ÀLEX CAPARRÓS-FCB.
The Barça B manager says that he has a team “with a lot of quality,” but he cautioned that “we need to make the group competitive.” The reserve side will kick off its Segunda División campaign at 19.00 at the Miniestadi, against Almería

Eusebio will not be able to call on Kiko Femenía and Ayala, both of whom are recovering from injuries to their left ankles, and Edgar Ié, who is recovering from a fracture to the fifth metatarsal in his left foot

Barça B names its captains

The Barça B players named the new captains for the 2012/13 season. Ilie, Oier, Planas, Sergi Gómez and Masip, in that order, will now represent the the reserve side players.

Barça B will begin its Segunda División campaign this Friday, at 7:00 PM, at the Miniestadi against Almería. Eusebio Sacristán admitted that his players are eager to start the official season, after putting in multiple weeks of training and going undefeated in the pre-season. “We’re very excited to start the season,” said the manager, who was quick to highlight the quality of the players at his disposal. “We’re very pleased with the team we have and we’re eager for the season to start. We’re prepared and confident that we can start [the season] on the right foot.”

When asked to analyse his team, Eusebio said that “they are a great group with a lot of quality players, but we have to try and make them competitive. They are very young and the important thing is to meld all of these players in such a way to achieve the desired outcome.”

Three absences on Friday

For tomorrow’s match, Eusebio will not be able to call on Kiko Femenía and Ayala, both of whom are recovering injuries to their left ankles. These two players are joined by Edgar Ié, who is recovering from a fractured fifth metatarsal in his left foot and will be out of action for at least three months. In addition, neither Cristian Tello nor Sergi Roberto trained with the team this Thursday, both players are scheduled to train with the first team. Eusebio explained that he’s intent on continuing the reserve side’s policy of reinforcing Tito Vilanova’s team. The Barça B manager made special mention on Seri Roberto: “I hope he can continue his stay with the first team, because he’s been with the reserve side for a couple of years and his level of play is very high. He’s responding well and he proving that he’s ready to play with the first team.”

Castilla – Barça B, August 25, at 21.00

The schedules for the second and third matchdays of the Segunda División were confirmed this Thursady morning. Barça B will play away to Castilla, Real Madrid’s reserve side, on Saturday, August 25, at 21.00. The following week, Barça B will face Sabadell on September 2nd, at 18.00, at the Miniestadi. Eusebio is aware that the match against Castilla “creates a lot of expectation, but we’re focused on Almería right now, they are a great opponent and they had a very good pre-season.”

11 goals for none against in the last three Liga debuts

Cesc scores against Vila-real / PHOTO: FCB ARCHIVE
Against Real Sociedad, Barça will be looking for their fourth consecutive winning start in the domestic championship

Barça have got recent league campaigns off to good starts. In the last decade, they have won six openers, drawn three and lost just once, an excellent record considering only three of those games were played at home. The last time they were beaten on the first day was in 2008/09 at Numancia. The three debuts since then than have seen the Catalans score 11 goals and concede none.

Vila-real, Racing and Sporting all beaten

Last season, the opening match was meant to be against Malaga, but due to the players’ strike it was postponed, and Barça instead started against Vila-real, winning 5-0 with goals from Thiago, Cesc, Alexis and Messi (2).

A year earlier, they had started with a 3-0 win at Racing Santander (goals from Messi, Iniesta and Villa). They had won by the same score in the first outing of 2009/10, at home to Sporting Gijón, with Bojan, Keita and Ibrahimovic getting their names on the scoresheet.


Messi shines for Argentina against Germany

Messi scored the second of Argentina’s goals / PHOTO: FCB ARCHIVE
He may have missed a penalty, but Messi still scored one of Argentina’s three goals and set up a number of chances in a man of the match performance against Germany

Dani Alves was involved in the second of Brazil’s three goals against Sweden, while Afellay’s Holland lost in Belgium

There was a win for Argentina featuring Messi and Mascherano against ten-men Germany, and also for Brazil and Dani Alves against Sweden. But there was disappointment for Afellay as Holland were beaten by neighbours Belgium in Brussels.

Germany v Argentina (1-3)

Both Leo Messi and Javier Mascherano were in the Argentina starting eleven that faced Germany in Frankfurt. After early chances for Özil and Higuaín, the match-changing incident came in the 29th minute, when the referee awarded the South Americans a penalty and sent Zieler off for his foul on Sosa. Messi took the kick, but saw his effort denied by German stopper Ter Stegen. Despite that setback, however, the Barça star didn’t disappoint in a terrific all-round display. Shortly before the break there was further misfortune for the home side when a Khedira own goal put Argentina ahead.

Six minutes after the restart, Messi grabbed Argentina’s second after a well-worked team move culminated by an assist from Higuaín. Argentina were in total command, and in the 64th minute, Messi almost made it three. The third goal finally materialised in the 72nd minute, converted by Di María. The man of the match performance by Messi wasn’t over, and in the 75th minute he hit the post following a trademark solo run. Mascherano was replaced by Braña in the 79th minute, two minutes before Höwedes scored a consolation header for Germany.

Sweden v Brazil (0-3)

Dani Alves played all 90 minutes of Brazil’s first game since winning silver at London 2012. It doubled as the last ever match at the legendary Rasunda Stadium before it is demolished. The Barça wing back was given plenty of chances to score from free kicks, but none of them went in, and it took 32 minutes for the deadlock to be broken by Leandro Damiao, heading home a cross from Neymar.
That obliged a highly defensive Sweden to push their lines forward, which only served to generate more space for the ‘canarinha’, although it was not until the final quarter of an hour that their lead was extended thanks to a brace from Pato, the first in the 84th minute following an excellent one-two with Dani Alves, and the second from the penalty spot in the 86th minute.

Belgium v Holland (4-2)

Holland went down to an early goal from Belgium’s Benkete. But just after the break, they turned things around with goals from Narsingh and Huntelaar. However, there were to be no victory celebrations for Louis van Gaal in his first game since returning to the Dutch bench. Goals from Martens, Lukaku and Vertonghen eventually made it 4-2 to Belgium, leaving many of the questions raised by Holland’s miserable participation at Euro 2012 unanswered.


Summer ins and outs in La Liga (Part 2)

Ruben Miño / FOTO: ARXIU FCB
With the Spanish League season set to kick off this weekend, we look at how Barça’s rivals have been working in this summer’s transfer market and their prospects for the new campaign


After losing Raul Garcia back to Atletico Madrid, Osasuna’s marquee signing has been Joseba Llorente on loan from Real Sociedad. Iranian midfielder Nekounam has also moved on, but don’t expect any change in playing style from the Pamplona team, who will again look to make their Reyno de Navarra ground a stronghold.


With De Guzman and Ramis off to try their luck in the Premier with Swansea and West Ham., Caparros has brought in veteran defender Antonio Lopez from Atletico Madrid, Javier Marquez from Espanyol , Arizmendi from Getafe and ex- Barça B keeper Miño as he looks to build on last season’s storming finish to the campaign.


Despite losing Kanoute to Beijing Guoan, Michel hasn’t yet made any big signings for Seville who will hope to improve on their disappointing 9th place last year. Brazilian full back Cicinho from Palmeires and the Chilean winger Rabello are the two most interesting looking newcomers so far.

Athletic Bilbao

With their tradition of only signing Basque players, Athletic Bilbao are more restricted than most in their transfers, but they have brought in their ex-player Arduriz from Valencia –where he scored 17 goals in two years and will no doubt be happy to have lost none of their talented youngsters to bigger clubs over the summer.

Getafe/Real Sociedad

With the re-signing of Pedro Leon from Madrid for another season long loan, Getafe made perhaps their most important move of the summer after off-loading 10 of last year’s squad, whilst Real Sociedad have held on to Carlos Vela, who’d been on loan from Arsenal and this summer signed a four year contract with the Basques.


Pepe Mel has also dipped into Arsenal’s pool of talent, taking the exciting young Costa Rican Joel Campbell on a season long loan after his successful spell in French football last year, whilst Roque Santa Cruz has still not been able to convince Manchester Cirty to let him stay in the Andalucian capital.


Espanyol’s big news in the summer was the return of World Cup winner Joan Capdevilla, after a disappointing year at Benfica. Weiss, Coutinho and Romaric have all departed, as has Xavi Marquez to Mallorca. Meanwhile, Raul Tamudo’s last gasp heroics to save Rayo from relegation last May proved to be his last action for the Madrid outfit, as he moved on to CF Pachuca in the Mexican league, whilst the leading midfield goal scorer in La Liga last season – Michu- also left Rayo, signing for Swansea, with Espanyol’s on-loan defender Jordi Amat one of a host of new faces moving in.


Both Zaragoza and Granada- who finished below Rayo at the end of last year – have dipped into the lower divisions to reinforce their squads, with Manolo Jimenez’s side also signing Apoño, who was on loan for the second half of last season from Malaga and shipping out Latifa to Getafe and Luis Garcia to Tigres in Mexico.

Promoted Clubs

The newly promoted trio of Deportivo, Celta and Valladolid have all strengthened their squads, with Deportivo signing five players from Portugal,as well as veteran defender Marchena from Villarreal, Celta going for top flight experience taking Seville keeper Javier Varas on loan for a year and Valladolid bringing in Serbian international defender Antonio Rukavina on a free transfer from 1860 Munich.