Lucho critical of the fans
After last night’s late and nerve-wrecking win versus Bayer Leverkusen in the second round of the Champions League group stage, FC Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique Martínez started out his post-match press conference saying that he is “not going to say anything bad about the fans. We need their support.” But later he returned to the topic to say that the boos could be heard on the pitch and that he would rather have the fans’ support when the team was 0-1 down and not when they turned the tide and got the two goals they needed to win the match 2-1.
Lucho also commented on his players’ performances, which were not very satisfactory throughout the match, but added that their heart and desire was what won the match in the end. “This team runs and goes all out every game,” he declared. “My players deserve a huge amount of credit for turning around a very difficult situation.” He added, “The team’s faith was indestructible today. That’s football. Sometimes you win with faith, sometimes with heart, and sometimes with great play. It’s clear today it was about faith.”
He highlighted how tough it is to play without the best player, Lionel Messi. “It was a tough night. It was our second game without our best player, and our second win,” he pointed out, before turning to the topic of how many players, including captain Andrés Iniesta, are currently injured. “The injury to Iniesta is terrible news,” he lamented. “These are thorns in our side that we have to shake off. We’ll show everyone that we can overcome these things.”
With regards to the opposition, Luis Enrique thought that “it’s always tough to overcome the kind of pressure that Bayer put on us tonight. They didn’t give us any easy possession.” He also commented on the possibility of topping the group: “I said when we were drawn into Group E that it was a tough group. When the last game is over, we’ll see.”
“I’m really happy for the win, it’s time to celebrate with my family, and on to the next one,” he concluded.
Mascherano on the win and Sergi Roberto
The team’s fourth captain, who started and played the entire 90 minutes of last night’s clash, spoke in an interview with Barça TV program El Marcador about the hard fought victory.
He attributed the comeback win to the team’s character and attitude, saying, “Our momentum, the team spirit and never-say-die attitude was crucial in a game we had to win.”
He also commented on the injury crisis the team is facing right now. “We have important players injured, but that’s football and we have a squad to succeed. Now is the time for those in the background to step up, it is an opportunity for those who do not often get minutes,” said the Argentine. “Those of us who are fit and healthy have to keep going, and win while the others recuperate.”
Finally he spoke on revelation and reinvention of Sergi Roberto, who has been pivotal for the team’s results to far this season. “[He] has had a good pre-season and the manager is using him in different positions. We never doubted his ability,” explained the captain.
Iniesta KO for four weeks
Part of the cause for suffering last night was Spanish international Andrés Iniesta’s injury. The club quickly announced after tests were done that the injury is a hamstring lesion in his right leg, but they did not give any set time for his return, leaving the progression dependent on his recovery.
“FC Barcelona have released the diagnosis of the injury suffered by Andrés Iniesta during the game against Bayer Leverkusen in which he had to leave the field in the 60th minute. As such, the medical release states that the Barça midfielder has a hamstring injury in his right leg. His recovery will dictate his return to training,” read the club’s statement on their official website.
This type of injury is a common muscle injury and Don Andrés is no stranger to recovery from it as he has gone through this several times before. It typically takes 3 to 4 weeks to get back on the pitch. We hope things go as smoothly as possibly for the little magician!
Lucho calls up the entire Barça B midfield for training (almost)
Given the already existing shortage of effective players for Luis Enrique to train and play with, a situation exacerbated by Iniesta’s injury, the coach opted to call up six Barça B players to participate in today’s recovery training session. It looks like he will be taking two of them to the Liga clash with Sevilla this weekend.
The six called up players unsurprisingly included five midfielders – Gerard Gumabu (now a regular), Sergi Samper, David Babunski, Juan Cámara, Aitor Cantalapiedra – and defender Robert Costa. Meanwhile, Claudio Bravo, Messi, Iniesta, Rafinha, Thomas Vermaelen, and Adriano all continued their recovery work from their respective injuries.
Here is a video of the training session under the rain:
Two banned youth players allowed to play
Speaking of youth players, according to Mundo Deportivo, two of the 11 recently banned youth players in La Masia have been allowed to play again, the club was informed by the Royal Spanish Football Federation and FIFA. Haitam Abaida and Ilaix will now be allowed to participate in official matches and friendlies with their respective youth teams and will commence right away today against Jabac at the Ciutat Esportiva Sant Joan Despí.
Barça are hopeful and confident that soon the other banned players which include eight from 11-a-side football and three from 7-a-side football teams will be allowed to play again as all their paperwork had been done legally. These are of a different case than those players initially banned by the FIFA, as they were only banned a month ago.