FC Barcelona sure had a busy week with Mascherano signing a new deal and the return of David Villa and Carles Puyol to training among the good news headlines. However, they had to deal with some whining from the Catalan FA and Espanyol following the cancellation of the Copa Catalunya. Fortunately, that brief moment of cry babying was forgotten when the good news was announced about Eric Abidal joining the team for their trip to Paris when they face Paris St. Germaine and three former teammates.
What a busy week it was for Barça indeed. It kicked off with the good news that Javier Mascherano had signed a new deal with the club that will see him remain with the club till 2016. I won’t lie. I thought his transfer was one that never made sense. Busquets was already the starting Defensive Midfielder and his playing time caused Toure Yaya to leave. So why sign a well-known player who will be playing as a backup to Busquets?
Fortunately, Guardiola used him as a center-back and the rest is history. Sure, he was caught out a few times late last season that allowed the opposition to exploit him as the weakest link. However, his overall performances since joining the club have been impeccable and here’s hoping the next four years will see more domination from Mascherano.
The other good news was seeing Puyol and Villa back training. We always knew Puyol would be back but there are doubts about David Villa. When he broke his leg back in December, doctor s said he would be out a few months. Villa’s injury has been rather a mysterious one. There was talk of Villa coming back late in the season against Real Madrid so he can be ready for Euro 2012. Well, the injury took more time than expected and we never saw him play for Barça or Spain. I think this is Villa’s last season with the club, especially with Neymar lurking around the corner. He will probably feature next week for the first time since December.
Hopefully the old David Villa will return and not an old David Villa that we saw struggling throughout the first half of last season before the big injury. He was playing hurt supposedly so we will see. I think this is his last season to impress, especially with Neymar still lurking about. Unfortunately, this sport is notorious for “what have you done for me lately” when it comes to treating players and Villa hasn’t really done much.
As for the Copa Catalunya being scrapped after no one could work out a decent schedule and Catalan FA objected to Barça’s B team representing. Good Riddance. If the Catalan FA doesn’t like what transpired, then maybe they should abstain from calling up Barça players for their annual international friendly. I don’t recall the club raising a stink when backup goal keeper Jorquera suffered a major injury while representing Catalunya in their annual December friendly that forced Barça to get Pinto. The cup has no real meaning and the fact that Mourinho did win this cup for Barça when he was the assistant manager, doesn’t really give it a warm spot in our hearts either.
I enjoy the idea of the Copa Catalunya but the Catalan FA and Espanyol have to wake up and realize that Barça are involved in other friendlies so they can’t adjust their schedule to accommodate them. Maybe they should have scheduled it before the end of the last league season and not wait till the last second. Poor planning is what killed this cup, not Barça. The Catalan FA should accept that it will never become a popular summer tournament as long as Barça has lucrative deals to play other teams and in other countries at the same time. In my opinion, they should just hold it like the TIM Trophy in Italy where Milan, Inter and Juventus play each other all in one evening in three round-robin 45-minute matches. That’s the only way I can see this cup being held in the future but that’s not what the Catalan FA has in mind.
Barça now will play their third summer friendly today when they travel to France and face PSG. The venue will be a special one for Barça. The Stade de France was the venue where Barça defeated Arsenal to win their second Champions League title. It will be nice for those who featured or were on that team and celebrated that magical night, to return to this venue again. This friendly will also feature three former Barça players, Thiago Motta, Maxwell and Ibrahimovic, representing the French side too along with Thiago Silva, a player Barça were very interested in signing this summer. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN Deportes and streamed live on ESPN 3.
However, the big star attraction of the trip is Eric Abidal. The French defender made the trip to his country with his teammates today. Sometimes we forget that these players are human, regardless of their talent, achievements and wealth, so it is great to see Abidal up and about as he recovers from the medical procedures he underwent to save his life. He has given Barça a lot as a player but also a lot as a brave man. Here’s hoping he continues to recover and resume a normal healthy life with his family.
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