Video: Five-star Messi ready for action

Messi davant el Raja / FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
Leo Messi was Barça’s highest scorer of the pre-season with five goals, his best tally in any pre-season. The three-time Ballon d’Or winner is ready for the season to start

Despite missing out on the team’s first friendly of the summer, Messi finished the pre-season as the team’s highest goalscorer ahead of Dani Alves, Deulofeu and Alexis, all of whom finished the pre-season with two goals apiece.

Eleven Barça players away the week before Liga starts

Messi, amb l'Argentina / FOTO: Arxiu FCB
Sis Barça players are flying to Puerto Rico to play for Spain. Valdés, Piqué, Sergio Busquets, Iniesta, Pedro and Cesc have all been called up by Vicente Del Bosque

Afellay has been picked in Louis van Gaal’s first squad, while Mano Menezes is taking Alves to the friendly between Sweden and Brazil

Messi and Mascherano are also in Sabella’s squad for a game with Germany, and Alexis Sánchez will be crossing the Atlantic for Chile’s game with Ecuador

As many as eleven Barça players are away this week for different international friendlies. Just days before Tito Vilanova makes his official debut as FC Barcelona manager in the Liga opener against Real Sociedad (Sunday 19 at 21.00), he will be forced to prepare with the majority of his probable starting eleven absent.

Messi and Mascherano in Frankfurt

Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella is talking his side to Frankfurt for a friendly with Germany. The South Americans take on the side coached by Joachim Löw on Wednesday 15 at 20.45.

Alves the earliest

There is no rest for Brazil. Most of Mano Menezes’ squad has only just ended their silver-medal winning Olympic campaign, and now head off for Stockholm to face Sweden at the Rasunda Stadium, the historic ground where Pele first amazed the world at the 1958 World Cup, but which is due to be destroyed this year, now that a brand new venue has been completed. Dani Alves will be appearing in the match at 20.00 on August 15.

Six FCB players in Puerto Rico

Vicente Del Bosque has not included either Xavi or Jordi Alba in his team that travels to face Puerto Rico on August 15. But there are six other Barcelona players making the trip, namely Valdés, Piqué, Sergio Busquets, Iniesta, Pedro and Cesc. San Juan will be the venue for the game that kicks off at 22.30 on August 15.

Afellay picked by Louis van Gaal

The former Barcelona manager is back for his second spell in charge of the Dutch national team, and has announced the name of Ibrahim Afellay among his picks for a game with neighbours Belgium in Brussels at 20.45 on August 15.

Alexis in New York

Chile manager Claudio Borghi has picked the Barça striker in his side that is travelling to New York to take on fellow South Americans Ecuador. That will be the last of the midweek internationals with Barcelona interest, and kicks off at 02.00 on August 16.

 

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Iniesta i Cesc, a l'entrenament d'aquest dilluns / FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
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3. UNITED VS BARÇA: THE EUROPEAN CLASSIC MATCH

4. INIESTA: “IT’S OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO KEEP THIS WORKING”

5. GAMPER’S BARÇA TOONS

6. ABIDAL’S FRENCH TRIBUTE

7. EDMILSON’S INTERVIEW

8. GIRONA’S TRAINING SESSION

International friendlies mark final week of preparation ahead of Barça's La Liga debut

First team training session /PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
Tito Vilanova prepares FC Barcelona’s La Liga debut with a depleted roster due to this week’s international fixtures

The internationals are due back in Barcelona on Thursday

The Liga is right around the corner and FC Barcelona are scheduled to kick off the 2012/13 Liga at the Camp Nou against Real Sociedad next Sunday, August 19, at 21.00. Before this weekend’s match, however, many FC Barcelona players will feature in mid-week international friendlies.

A total of 11 first-team players have been named to their respective national teams for the upcoming international friendlies. Therefore, Tito Vilanova will only be able to work with 11 players on Tuesday morning: Puyol, Xavi, Villa, Pinto, Jordi Alba, Adriano, Dos Santos, Montoya, Fontàs, Bartra and Tello.

On Thursday, however, all the international players are due back in Barcelona for the team’s evening training session, with the exception of Alexis Sánchez, who will play for Chile in New York City on the same day. It won’t be until Friday that Tito Vilanova will have his entire squad at his disposal, not counting the injured players, to prepare for the first match of the Liga.

Monday, August 13

Day off

Tuesday, August 14

9.00 Training session

Wednesday, August 15

9.00 Training session

Thursday, August 16

19.00 Training session

Friday, August 17

9.00 Training session

Saturday, August 18

9.00 Training session

Sunday, August 19

21.00 First match of the 2012/13 La Liga season, against Real Sociedad

Pre-season overview: Unbeaten Barça well prepared for new season

Leo Messi against Bucharest. PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ- FCB.
Barça have ended their five-match preseason without losing a match, and the squad is now fully back into rhythm, having also welcomed back some important players

Messi has broken his own record for preseason goals

The worst news was the serious injury suffered by Marc Muniesa in the first match

Minutes (goals)

Alves 303 (2)
Sergi Roberto 291
Mascherano 285
Alexis 276 (2)
Bartra 273
Messi 272 (5)
Afellay 264 (1)
Pinto 251
Adriano 216
Rafinha 202 (1)
Valdés 180
Busquets 166
Dos Santos 150
Xavi 138
Pedro 138
Cesc 120
Iniesta 120
Planas 120
Piqué 120
Montoya 114
Puyol 90
Ilie 86
Tello 84
Espinosa 75
Deulofeu 75 (2)
Jordi Alba 69
Balliu 66
Patri 66
Sergi Gómez 66 (1)
Lobato 66
Román 45
Gustavo 30
Femenía 30
Fontàs 27
Lombán 21
Oier 19
Villa 18
Muniesa 17

Bucharest was the venue for the last of FC Barcelona’s five preseason friendlies. The series has
ended with three wins, 2-1 in Hamburg, 8-0 against Raja Club Athletic and 2-0 at Dinamo, and
two draws, 2-2 in Paris and 0-0 with Manchester United. Good results and positive feelings,
with the team displaying many of the virtues that have brought so much success in recent
years, dominating the possession and generating constant pressure.

As ever, the most important thing about these matches was simply giving the players the
chance to get back into the routine of playing football. The first two matches involved a large
presence of reserves, who rose to the occasion in exceptional style. It was not until game three
against PSG that the Spain internationals were involved and Tito Vilanova could field a side
that resembles what will be his first eleven for the forthcoming season. Parc des Princes also
marked the return to action of Carles Puyol after an absence through injury.

The last stage of the preseason also saw Jordi Alba, the club’s new signing, make his first
appearances in a Barça shirt in the mini-tour of Sweden and Romania, while the second of
those two games, in Bucharest, also saw the long-awaited returns of both David Villa and
Andreu Fontàs, who have been sidelined for several months.

Messi sets new record

Leo Messi was the top Barça scorer in the preseason with five goals. That’s the Argentinian’s
best tally ever, and that was despite missing the first game with a minor injury. Dani Alves,
Deulofeu and Alexis all hit the target twice.

Alves was also the player who got the most minutes of playing time (303). He was followed by
Sergi Roberto (291), who was very active in midfield, Mascherano (285), Alexis (276) and
Bartra (273). The centre back has been one of the revelations of the preseason, displaying
security, elegance and the ability to bring the ball out of defence with remarkable
effectiveness.

Muniesa, the worst news

The returns of Puyol, Villa and Fontàs have been the high point of the preseason, but the worst
news was the serious injury suffered by Marc Muniesa. The defender tore cruciate ligaments in
his right knee in Hamburg and will now be out for about six months.