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11.04.2008 14:55

“We need to think about the starting line-up for Saturday”

Berta Brau

Frank Rijkaard says he is very happy to have Leo Messi back for this Saturday’s game but bemoans the absence of Bojan, Henry and Iniesta.

With Bojan, Henry and Iniesta sidelined and Messi back in the squad, Rijkaard now has to decide which players he will put out against Recreativo tomorrow.

Messi’s back

After 6 weeks on the sidelines, Leo Messi has once again been called up for the first team. When asked whether the Argentina international is in condition to be in the starting XI, Rijkaard said that he was very happy that Messi was available once more as “he is a very important player for us, but he hasn’t trained much with the rest of the squad so I don’t think it would be advisable for him to play all 90 minutes.” He added that Messi will be working to try to avoid future injuries and that with any luck the club and its fans will be able to enjoy the Argentinean’s talent for years to come.

Missing faces

entreno110408_x4x.jpgBojan Krkic and Thierry Henry also came up during the press conference. Rijkaard was full of praise for the job Bojan has been doing this season: “He’s a young player who has been the focus of a lot of attention recently and he’s reacted very maturely and made all the right decisions.” However the Barça coach said it was “normal” that Bojan is feeling the strain as “he’s a very young player who’s playing lots of matches.” Rijkaard said it was a pity he couldn’t call on Bojan tomorrow but he wasn’t that concerned about the immediate future as the player’s knock does not seem to be serious.

As for Thierry Henry, Rijkaard says that the French striker is “performing well” when he plays on the left wing and he sees him as a versatile player who can change position to break up the defensive system of Barça’s opponents.

The next game

QM3D6528.jpgFrank Rijkaard denied that his players were suffering from nerves and thinks that they need to “get into the game right from the off and try to make sure that things go well.” He says that “the team is really up for this game” even though Recreativo at home are a tough side to beat. Looking at recent results and the way the team is playing, Rijkaard said he doesn’t agree with people who say that Barça “is not playing well”. Quite the reverse: “It’s true that results aren’t as good as in previous seasons, but the players’ mental approach is spot on. They are giving it 100% and battling it out to stay in with a chance in both competitions, and I have to say I think we do have a good chance.”

“No players are being kept apart”

Rijkaard spoke about recent claims that some players are being kept apart from the team: “Obviously people are going to react to a situation like this one. Those sorts of comments hurt and especially when they aren’t true. No players are being kept apart from the team.”
“We need to think about the starting line-up for Saturday”

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Timetable for local derby
The FC Barcelona v Español derby match is set for Sunday 20 April with kick-off at 9 pm. However, the club is trying to get the game brought forward to Saturday. Frank Rijkaard thinks that that would be a good move as “it’s always better if the team has a few more days to recover between games.”

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