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10.02.2008 16:03

Rijkaard reaches another landmark

Sandra Sarmiento

Frank Rijkaard has reached 250 games as manager of FC Barcelona.

Rijkaard arrived at Barça in the summer of 2003 without any fanfare. He was noted for his footballing ability but without any great managerial CV. In fact, his previous experience wasn’t all that great with Sparta Rotterdam. Five years later, Rijkaard has become a reference point in management in European football. He is a modern manager, who always stays in the background and who has won a lot of respect. The Dutchman has now sat on the FC Barcelona bench 250 times.

Spectacular rise

Rijkaard_y_grup_entrenant_22-4-04.jpgBut it was a difficult start. During the 2003-04 season, Barça arrived at the 18th league game with 24 points and were 12th in the table. Rijkaard’s side were easily swept aside in Santander. Rijkaard faced a difficult time and the president had to come out in support of his position. The introduction of Davids turned things around. The team became more balanced, built around Márquez, Cocu and Davids, and had a more specific style of play and rose to second place by the end of the competition. The 2-3 win in the Riazor was a clear example of the spectacular football played by Barça in the second half of the season.

Crowned in Paris

bf1f2480.jpgWith a definite 4-3-3 system, and new signings like Eto'o, Deco, Edmílson, Belletti or Larsson, from 2004 on Barça have always played good football. Guided by the manager, the azulgranas win by all possible means. It’s an organised, balanced team – something that could also describe Rijkaard. Barça defend well and attack better. With a 0-4 win in the Sánchez Pizjuán, Barça set themselves up for their first league title under Rijkaard. In the following season they went on a run of 14 league wins in a row and in the Bernabéu they saw Ronaldinho crowned the best footballer on the planet. In Paris, Rijkaard’s men became the true heirs to the ‘Dream Team’.

2007 – no trophies

WEB_0....3_x1x.jpgErratic in play and results, Barça were unable to confirm their superiority. This, coupled with injuries to important players like Eto'o and Messi, saw the season end without a trophy. Being undefeated in the Nou Camp wasn’t enough. This year, Barça are still playing in three competitions and Rijkaard’s philosophy remains intact: “We work with pride with the aim of winning and playing well”. He was unable to get a win in Seville but, with pride, Barça scraped a brave draw in a difficult ground. And Rijkaard chalked up 250 games.
Rijkaard reaches another landmark
League: 175 games
Cup: 25 games
Champions League: 35 games
UEFA: 8 games
Spanish Super Cup: 4 games
European Super Cup: 1 game
World Club championship: 2 games
Titles: 2 Leagues, 1 Champions League and 2 Spanish Super Cups

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