Tito Vilanova: "We’ll try and reach the international break with nine points"

Tito Vilanova stresses the importance of taking all three points this Sunday against Valencia, bearing in mind next week’s international break.

As for his two-match ban from the bench, Vilanova told reporters: “They’ve set the bar very high”

The Barça manager emphasised that Valencia are dangerous when running into space and in dead ball situations

Recognition for Iniesta

Tito Vilanova is delighted that Andrés Iniesta has been chosen as UEFA ‘Best Player in Europe’ for the 2011/12 season: “Any one of the three could have won – Iniesta, Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. Andrés has been playing well for a long time. He deserves the award. He’s worked hard for a long time. It’s a source of pride for the Club that two out of the three best players in Europe belong to Barça. I’d like to congratulate all three of them.”

Speaking at a press conference ahead of Sunday’s important game against Valencia, Tito Vilanova revealed that the players have reacted well after the disappointment of the Spanish Super Cup. And he underlined his determination to make it three league wins in three before the international break:”The squad has reacted well. We’re all aware that we’ve only just begun, that we have a very important home game and that we have to try and reach the break with nine points”.

Threats posed by Valencia

However, Vilanova made it clear that Valencia is capable of creating a lot of danger on Sunday evening: “It’s true that they’ve changed a few players but the majority are still there. It’s a team that poses a threat breaking quickly into space. Soldado is one example and he scores freely. They’re also very dangerous in dead ball situations”.

Fitness doubts may sideline Dani Alves and Carles Puyol but Vilanova said today: “Alves trained as usual and felt fine”. He confirmed that he would be talking with the doctors and fitness coaches before deciding. As for Puyol: “He trained for part of the session and tomorrow we’ll make a final decision about his availability”.

He also referred to his two-match ban following on from his protests about a foul on Sergio Busquets in the Osasuna game: “I believe that, for what I said to the assistant referee, in a polite way, they’ve set the bar very high and I hope they keep it there for the rest of the season. I accept the ban and I can only say that I hope they have the character to maintain this standard”.

Champions League draw

FC Barcelona has been drawn together with Benfica, Spartak Moscow and Glasgow Celtic in the group stage of the Champions League. According to Tito Vilanova: “We haven’t looked at our rivals yet. Right now we’re focussed on analysing the Real Madrid game and preparing the match against Valencia. I think there are no easy opponents or easy matches in Europe. On past occasions we’ve really suffered against relatively easy teams”.

Vilanova is pleased that David Villa has been recalled to the Spain squad. “He has to gradually play more and more. He’s made very good progress in the last few days. It’s good for his self-esteem that he’s been included in the national squad and it’ll be very important for us to get him back”. In addition, he is convinced that Cesc Fabregas,” will have a good season”.

Fontàs and Dos Santos

Vilanova explained negotiations for a possible move for Fontàs had broken down as the three parties couldn’t reach an agreement but that the case of Dos Santos is rather different: “He has decided to stay here. The fact that he’s continuing will imply leaving other players out”.