Tag Archives: catalans

Jack Wilshere reveals how he got Lionel Messi and Xavi"s shirt

Xavi had the hump with me but I still got his and Messi's shirts, reveals Arsenal ace Wilshere

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

11:58 GMT, 29 January 2013

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UPDATED:

12:11 GMT, 29 January 2013

Few can boast to have given Barcelona star Xavi such a run for his money that the Spaniard has left the pitch in the huff.

But Jack Wilshere managed just that while still a teenager in 2011. And now the Arsenal star has revealed his adversary begrudgingly handed over his shirt after the pair did battle in the Champions League.

Making his mark: Jack Wilshere more than matched Xavi and Lionel Messi when they faced off in the Champions League back in 2011

Making his mark: Jack Wilshere more than matched Xavi and Lionel Messi when they faced off in the Champions League back in 2011

Making his mark: Jack Wilshere more than matched Xavi and Lionel Messi when they faced off in the Champions League back in 2011

The two-legged tie, won 4-3 on
aggregate by the Catalans, was seen as a coming of age moment for the
young Englishman, standing up as he did to one of modern football's
truly great midfielders.

Arsenal had edged the opening leg 2-1, but were downed, not for the first time, by Lionel Messi at the Nou Camp.

Despite the result, though, all was not well for one of the victors.

'I asked Xavi for his but he had the hump a bit,' said Wilshere. 'So he just threw me his shirt and strolled off. I asked Cesc Fabregas to get me Messi's because they’re good friends, and he did.'

Xavi was also on the scoresheet on the night of the second leg and it is that element of his game that Wilshere admits he most needs to improve.

The 21-year-old has scored twice this season having only previously grabbed three in three years as a first-team player.

He added: 'I'm working on it. I was always top scorer in the youth team but I didn’t score enough in my first year and then I got injured for the whole season. So I’m building up again this year, then next season I’m going to start scoring.'

Eric Abidal: PSG tried to sign me, I won"t leave Barcelona

I wouldn't leave Barcelona, not even for PSG's megabucks, says Abidal

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UPDATED:

15:35 GMT, 23 December 2012

Eric Abidal has revealed that not even money-flushed PSG could lure him away from Barcelona.

The Frenchman admitted the Qatari-owned club wanted to sign him earlier this year, but says Spain is his new home.

After making a return to training last week for the first time since his liver transplant in April, Abidal reiterated he is determined to make a full recovery and remain with Barcelona until the end of his career.

Road to recovery: Abidal is back in training for Barcelona

Road to recovery: Abidal is back in training for Barcelona

'(PSG have) Maxwell and Mamadou Sakho who play as central defenders, so I think of them and I prefer to stay in Barcelona,' he told Olympique Lyonnais's TV channel.

'It's not just about me, it's a decision I've made for my family too. My wife feels good here and my children have settled into the town.'

The 33-year old's contract expires in the summer, but vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu has said a new contract will be drawn up as soon as he returns to playing.

Abidal's improved health has been a source of strength for his Barcelona team-mates, who are struggling with the news that coach Tito Vilanova requires further cancer treatment.

Barca for life: Abidal wants to see out his career with the Catalans

Barca for life: Abidal wants to see out his career with the Catalans

Beram Kayal says Celtic"s defeat to Barcelona was their own fault

Kayal lament: Beram claims Bhoys' cruel defeat was self-inflicted

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UPDATED:

23:16 GMT, 24 October 2012

Beram Kayal claimed Celtic were architects of their own downfall in Barcelona for not dealing with the cross that cost them a priceless point at the death.

The Catalans waited until the 94th minute to claim the win that keeps them top of Group G — Jordi Alba connecting with Adriano’s cross to break Celtic’s hearts.

Neil Lennon’s side left Spain with no points but no shortage of plaudits for pushing the four-times European Cup winners all the way.

It's our fault: Beram Kayal watches Lionel Messi

It's our fault: Beram Kayal watches Lionel Messi

But midfielder Kayal, a second-half substitute for Charlie Mulgrew, felt losing the goal under such circumstances was unforgiveable.

‘We defended well until the 94th minute,’ he told Israeli radio.

‘We played well from a team point of view but, unfortunately, lost it in the last minute.

‘It’s a shame because we could have held on to the ball for that last minute.

Bitter blow: Adriano Correia celebrates after Jordi Alba scored Barcelona's winner

Bitter blow: Adriano Correia celebrates after Jordi Alba scored Barcelona's winner

‘The ball came to Adriano, I was standing on the edge of the box and he put over a low, dipping cross that beat everyone and he (Alba) put it in. It left us in shock. It’s very disappointing. ‘You work hard and sweat blood, especially against a team like Barcelona, who aren’t easy to get a draw out of. It’s a really bad feeling.

‘Before the game, we knew we’d have to work hard in defence and that most of the time we wouldn’t have the ball.

‘But the goal was with the last cross and we couldn’t get the ball away. True, we were playing the best team in the world, but we’re professionals and more than anything we wanted to come away with a good result.’

Heartbreak: Celtic's players waves to their fans at the end of the game

Heartbreak: Celtic's players waves to their fans at the end of the game

As Lennon’s side touched down in Glasgow, Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell paid tribute to the efforts of the Parkhead players, saying: ‘It was a tremendous occasion and one that we were delighted to be involved in. The UEFA Champions League is the stage which Celtic strive to compete on and we have shown this season that we deserve our place alongside Europe’s elite clubs.

‘To play a team of Barcelona’s quality, rightly regarded as the best club side in the world, is the toughest football challenge we can face, but Neil and his players rose magnificently to that challenge and were desperately unlucky not to get what we all felt would have been a well-deserved point for our magnificent efforts.’

Barcelona hit by Puyol blow as injured captain to miss Real Madrid clash

Barcelona hit by Puyol blow as injured captain to miss Real Madrid clash

PUBLISHED:

06:04 GMT, 3 October 2012

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UPDATED:

06:05 GMT, 3 October 2012

Barcelona centre back Carles Puyol
defender has been ruled out of Sunday's 'El Clasico' against Real
Madrid after dislocating his left elbow.

The 34-year-old captain required
hospital treatment after suffering the injury in Tuesday's 2-0 victory over Benfica in the Champions
League.

Agony: Carles Puyol after dislocating his elbow

Agony: Carles Puyol after dislocating his elbow

Puyoll, playing his first match since recovering from a knee problem, landed awkwardly after leaping for the ball at a corner in the 78th minute.

'We are waiting for more information but he will certainly miss the “Clasico”,' Barca coach Tito Vilanova said after the match.

The injury is a huge blow for Barcelona with Puyol's defensive partner Gerard Pique also sidelined.

Barcelona player Carles Puyol

Barcelona player Carles Puyol

Barca won in Lisbon, their second victory in two Group G games, thanks to goals from Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas.

'Now we have to forget about the Champions League and have a unique opportunity (on Sunday) to do things well at home,' said Barca fullback Dani Alves, who was visibly shaken by Puyol's injury. 'We know it is going to be a complicated match.'

The Catalans are eight points ahead of Real in La Liga after six matches.

Arsene Wenger says Alex Song will succeed at Barcelona

Song will triumph! Wenger backs former Gunner to succeed at Barcelona after slow start

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UPDATED:

09:07 GMT, 27 September 2012

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is adamant that former Gunner Alex Song will be a success at Barcelona.

The Cameroon international left the Emirates this summer for 15million and is continuing to acclimatise to the Catalans’ style of play.

The 25-year-old midfielder was criticised by some sections of the Spanish media after Barcelona’s 3-2 Champions League victory over Spartak Moscow.

He will succeed: Arsene Wenger is convinced that Alex Song (centre) will come good at Barcelona

He will succeed: Arsene Wenger is convinced that Alex Song (centre) will come good at Barcelona

But Wenger believes his former protege will come into his own under Tito Villanova’s stewardship.

Wenger, whose side thumped Coventry 6-1 on Wednesday, told BeIn Sports: ‘He will succeed at Barca, and something tells me that he will play in central defence.

‘No matter who’s by his side, he will be good in this role.’

Song grew used to anchoring Arsenal’s midfield in his 200-plus appearances under Wenger, but Barcelona like to play their holding midfielders in defence, a tactic initially deployed by former manager Pep Guardiola.

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure played at the back during his time at Barca and now Javier Mascherano is filling that role.

Villanova will be hoping his side can maintain their 100 per cent start to the La Liga season ehrn they take on Sevilla on Saturday.

Protege: Song played more than 200 games for Arsenal

Protege: Song played more than 200 games for Arsenal

Brent Webb signs deal with Catalan Dragons

Webb signs Dragons deal to replace departing Greenshields

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UPDATED:

18:17 GMT, 4 September 2012

Catalans Dragons have announced the signing of Leeds full-back Brent Webb on a two-year deal.

The 31-year-old former New Zealand international will be a straight replacement for Australian Clint Greenshields, who is leaving the French club after six years to return home.

Webb scored 86 tries in 156 appearances for the Rhinos, including four Grand Final victories and a World Club Challenge, since joining them from New Zealand Warriors in 2007 but he missed their recent Challenge Cup final defeat by Warrington with a knee injury which has also ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Saying goodbye: Brent Webb has signed for Catalan Dragons

Saying goodbye: Brent Webb has signed for Catalan Dragons

'I'm very happy to welcome Brent into our squad for next season,' said Dragons coach Trent Robinson.

'He is a class player with a wealth of experience which will add value on and off the field.'

Webb is the second confirmed signing by the Catalans for 2013 after the recruitment of Newcastle Knights forward Zeb Taia as a replacement for Setaimata Sa.

They are also being linked with Bradford second rower Olivier Elima, the France captain who is a former Dragons player.

Barcelona gospel spreads to America – Neil Ashton column

Barcelona gospel reaches America as Under 11s teach Arsenal youngsters a lesson

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UPDATED:

23:10 GMT, 17 July 2012

At first glance this video could be a random Barcelona academy match against a group of Arsenal youngsters at La Masia de Can Planes.

Barcelona, just like the ultra-successful senior side, pass and pass before they pass the ball into the net. Their Spanish speaking coach only has words of encouragement from the sidelines as his Under 11 team interchange positions at will.

Word such as 'atras' (pass it back), 'ayudale' (help him), 'cometelo' (skin him), 'cambiala' (switch it), 'toca' (touch) and 'vuelve a empezar' (start again) are frequently heard during this 12-minute masterclass.

Scroll down for the video

The future's bright: The young Barca players celebrate a goal against Arsenal (and below)

The future's bright: The young Barca players celebrate a goal against Arsenal (and below)

The future's bright: The young Barca players celebrate a goal against Arsenal (and below)

In between the praise for his players, an English coach is overheard bellowing instructions from the sidelines. The aggressive nature of them will be familiar to anyone with even a passing knowledge of youth level football and will come as no surprise.

'Get in there', 'go to him', 'you've got to get your man', 'hurry up, Matthew', 'drop it', 'get back' and 'get over there', can be made out.

Barcelona beat them 6-0, but this is no ordinary academy team in action. Instead it is a club in California affiliated to the Catalans and passing on the total football principles established under Johan Cruyff.

The Arsenal team they were playing in the semi-final of the California State in March has no official connection with Arsene Wenger's team.

Perhaps, given the context of the communication between the English coach and his young players, it is just as well. It is not just the red and blue striped shirts that are instantly recognisable. Instead it is the unique pattern of play, with every member of the team comfortable in possession and always making themselves available.

When they lose it, they immediately
begin to work out how to win it back, just like the team that has won La
Liga 11 times and the Champions League on four occasions since Cruyff
laid down the principles of total football.

Aspiration: The Barca youngsters in America play in the same style as their Catalan heroes

Aspiration: The Barca youngsters in America play in the same style as their Catalan heroes

They have cornered the market and the danger is that they are beginning to establish a network of feeder clubs operating under the same philosophy around the world.

Barcelona USA's objective is to equip their players with the same technical skills that are passed on through generations at La Masia. In 2010, for the first time in the history of the FIFA World Player of the Year, the top three ranked stars all came through the same academy.

La Masia is a conveyor belt for young talent, but Barcelona’s search for the best young players is being converted in other countries.

Messi was brought over from his hometown of Rosario in Argentina to learn the skills that would turn him into the world’s best player at the age of 11.

The next generation of Barcelona recruits are being schooled at their academies and given the opportunity to work at La Masia if they recognised as outstanding young talent.

Last year Brian Brabin, the full-time academy coach at Barcelona USA, took his Under-11 team to the mothership and drew 2-2 with the full-time recruits at La Masia. That result is recognition for Brabin's work, the gold standard for a team that is training and playing its matches in the USA.

VIDEO: Barca pass masters teach young Gunners a lesson

They are rarely beaten, sticking to their passing and possession principles and accepting that on a rare occasion they will be beaten by a kick and rush team. Last year one of Brabin's players, Ben Leadermen, went on trial at La Masia and has never come back.

He is about to begin his second year and his progress has been so rapid that he has been given the coveted No10 jersey, the same as the master himself. Most of Brabin’s players are Hispanic or south American, drawn to Barcelona USA by the promise that they will pick up the habits of the best in the business.

Many of the principles were established by Cruyff when he became manager of Barcelona in 1988, ahead of the game when it came to football's gravy train.

The Spanish federation jumped on board ten years ago, replicating the structure throughout the country and rigidly sticking to it throughout the transition phase.

Their patience has been rewarded with
success at junior, youth and senior level, winning two European
Championships and the World Cup since 2008.

New era: Barca's new boss Tito Vilanova (right) has huge boots to fill after the departure of Pep Guardiola

New era: Barca's new boss Tito Vilanova (right) has huge boots to fill after the departure of Pep Guardiola

Other countries, such as England, are still stuttering along, clutching on to their FIFA ranking as evidence of their status within the game. FA chief executive Brian Barwick promised 'root and branch' reform when England failed to qualify for Euro 2008 under Steve McClaren.

Four years on it is all about Burton and the FA's learning centre in the middle of the Staffordshire countryside. No doubt they are looking beyond lumping it up to the big man, but it may be too late.

Catalan Dragons 34 Wakefield 10: Hosts within point of Warrington

Catalan Dragons 34 Wakefield 10: Hosts move to within point of Warrington

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UPDATED:

16:37 GMT, 30 June 2012

Double trouble: Steve Menzies scored a brave of tries

Double trouble: Steve Menzies scored a brave of tries

The Catalan Dragons closed within a point of Warrington with a battling Stobart Super League win over the Wildcats.

Damien Blanch (3), Steve Menzies (2) and Clint Greenshields scored the tries for the home side in the energy-sapping heat of Perpignan on Saturday afternoon.

It enabled the Dragons to reclaim third place from St Helens and made sure they took full advantage of last night's defeats for leaders Wigan and the second-placed Wolves.

An early mistake from Richard Mathers was punished by Vincent Duport, who drew in the defence and sent Blanch racing down the line to touch down in the fourth minute.

Menzies' first try was a superb intercept on his own 10-metre line, the 38-year-old racing the remaining 90 metres to touch down unopposed.

A superb individual effort from Ali Lauitiiti followed at the other end – the New Zealander used his superb handling skills to dummy, then his strength to power over the line despite Scott Dureau's best efforts to halt him.

Paul Sykes converted to narrow the gap to six points. Dureau who laid Menzies' second try on a plate, his short ball to the former Australian second row allowing Menzies to go through a gap in the Wakefield defence to score.

Dureau added his third conversion from as many attempts to give the hosts an 18-6 half-time lead.

From the restart, a high Dureau kick again caused havoc in the Wakefield defence and Peter Fox fumbled the ball twice under pressure before Greenshields put boot to ball for the Catalans and managed to win the race to touch the ball down under the posts to score and allow Dureau an easy conversion.

Wakefield responded with a try from second rower Kyle Trout, who managed to squeeze his way over.

Sykes hit the post with a challenging attempt at a conversion. With 15 minutes remaining, the hosts killed off Wakefield as Duport once again provided a superb offload to send in Blanch in the right corner.

Dureau nailed a touchline conversion to stretch the advantage to 30-10 and take the Dragons to the brink of victory.

With just six minutes left, a short goal-line drop out gifted the hosts field position and they made Wakefield pay as Ian Henderson and Greenshields combined to send Blanch in for his hat-trick try.

Dureau missed with the touchline effort but the win was secure at 34-10.

Arsenal"s Thomas Vermaelen pictured with Barcelona"s Carles Puyol in Ibiza

Getting cosy with the Barca boys Arsenal ace Vermaelen pictured with Puyol in Ibiza

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UPDATED:

12:52 GMT, 20 June 2012

It's a picture Arsenal fans would rather not see: their inspirational centre-back Thomas Vermaelen enjoying a night out with Barcelona defender Carles Puyol at a restaurant in Ibiza.

The Catalan giants are considering a bid for Vermaelen after hitting a brick wall in attempts to sign Thiago Silva from AC Milan.

Nou Camp boss Tito Vilanova made Silva his top central defensive target but the Catalans set aside less than 30million for the deal – while sources in Italy claim Milan have already turned down a 32.5m bid from Paris Saint-Germain.

Fancy seeing you here! Vermaelen and Puyol pose for a snap in Ibiza

Fancy seeing you here! Vermaelen and Puyol pose for a snap in Ibiza

Belgium international Vermaelen, 26, fits the bill because of his ability to also play at left back and in midfield, but Arsenal are likely to resist any approach.

But Gunners fans will not be reassured to see Vermaelen and Puyol together with talismanic captain Robin van Persie's future still up in the air.

Arsenal remain determined to get their skipper to sign a three-year deal worth 130,000 a week with a 5m loyalty bonus.

Van Persie's representatives have held two rounds of talks with Arsenal, when the 28-year-old said he was not ready to sign new terms.

Who's next Captain Van Persie's future remains unclear

Who's next Captain Van Persie's future remains unclear

Wigan scrum-half Thomas Leuluai out for two months

Wigan hit by Leuluai blow as scrum-half is ruled out for two months with broken leg

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UPDATED:

10:00 GMT, 18 June 2012

Wigan have confirmed that scrum-half Thomas Leuluai broke a leg in the Exiles' 18-10 defeat by England on Saturday and will be sidelined for around two months.

Leuluai, who was captain of the Super League-based overseas side, was carried off on a stretcher in the second half of the game at Langtree Park after twisting awkwardly on the wet turf and went for scans which revealed the break as well as ankle-ligament damage.

Wigan coach Shaun Wane expects his player to be out for six to 10 weeks but insists he will be back before the end of the season.

Blow: Thomas Leuluai broke his leg playing for the Exiles against England

Blow: Thomas Leuluai broke his leg playing for the Exiles against England

'It is a blow for Tommy and for the club,' Wane said.

'But the results of the scan are a lot better than I expected. He will play again this year.

'The injury is a clean break whick will mean a couple of months on the sidelines and we look forward to his return to the side at the business end of the season.'

Leuluai, who is leaving the club at the end of the season to rejoin New Zealand Warriors, will obviously miss his side's Challenge Cup semi-final against Leeds on July 14 and could be a doubt for the August 25 final if the Warriors reach Wembley.

Leuluai has missed only one game so far this year but at least Wigan will have his half-back partner Brett Finch available for their next Super League game, at home to Widnes next Monday.

One up: England won the first match with the Exiles on Saturday

One up: England won the first match with the Exiles on Saturday

Finch and centre George Carmont both pulled out of the Exiles squad with minor knocks sustained in the Warriors' 36-14 win over Catalan Dragons nine days ago.

'Brett needed a rest,' said Wane.

'He took a slight knock against Catalans and George has had a tough season and also needed a break.'

Wane is likely to switch Finch to scrum-half and move captain Sean O'Loughlin from loose forward to stand-off in the short term.

Long term, the club are thought to have signed Salford's Matty Smith as a replacement for Leuluai and lined up a big money offer to Castleford for Man of Steel Rangi Chase.