New Barca stars unlikely to play on Asian tour
3 August 2007, BEIJNIG - Barcelona's new 'Big Three' - Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and newcomer Thierry Henry - are unlikely to play their first match together when the Spanish club kicks off its Asian tour on Sunday.
3 August 2007
BEIJNIG - Barcelona's new 'Big Three' - Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and newcomer Thierry Henry - are unlikely to play their first match together when the Spanish club kicks off its Asian tour on Sunday.
Barca will take on Beijing club Guo'an on Sunday, with many looking for a pre-season indication of how Barcelona intends to deploy the three star forwards, plus midfielder playmakers Lionel Messi and Deco.
Asked on Friday whether the trio will start against Guo'an, coach Frank Rijkaard said "sincerely, I don't think so," even though all three were expected to figure at some time on the tour.
Rijkaard, goalkeeper Victor Valdes and defenders Gianluca Zambrotta and Eric Abidal attended a chaotic news conference on Friday, struggling to adjust to the time zone and questions translated from Chinese.
"It's clear we have to adjust to the time change," Rijkaard told a pack of Spanish reporters. "Things will get better little by little. You have to work to adjust after a trip like this. It's normal that you're not on top of things the first day."
Zambrotta and defender Lilian Thuram said earlier in the week it would be better to stay home and train rather than play three exhibition games in Asia. After Sunday's match, Barca plays the Yokohama Marinos in Japan followed by a match in Hong Kong against a Mission Hills Invitation XI made up of players from two Hong Kong clubs.
Ronaldinho also suggested a preseason trip last year to North America hurt Barca's championship defense. The club finished second to Real Madrid and failed to win any major trophies.
But Rijkaard defended such tours.
"It's something you see that goes on with all these big clubs _ doing tours," Rijkaard said. "For Barca there is something added, transmitting the culture of the club. It's a combination of physical preparation and doing publicity for the club and, up to now, it's been OK."
Rijkaard said he would try to mix serious training with the exhibition games.
"You have to get the most out of your training time here," he said. "We will see that the club practices."
[Copyright AP with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news