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02.09.2007 22:13

“The team looked very fresh in the first half"

Roger Bogunyà

Frank Rijkaard was particularly impressed with his team’s performance in the first half against Athletic Bilbao, but noted problems in the second half that are going to require attention.

Barça played some extraordinary football for the first 45 minutes, something Rijkaard considered important, admiring way that they “looked very fresh, switching sides, creating pressure, winning balls and creating chances.” But not everything he saw pleased him and he said “we have to carry on working” and was especially unconvinced by some of the things he saw in the second half.

Well positioned opponent

Asked about the opposition, Rijkaard said "from the start they were well placed on the pitch, they were enthusiastic and created some dangerous counterattacks.” In the second half he said Bilbao had been “even better positioned at the back, as they didn’t want to let any more goals in:”

Different reasons for changes

Taking off Deco, Henry and Ronaldinho was a big risk, but Rijkaard is aware that these are the kinds of things you need to do from time to time. “All three played a great game and looked good in the first half. But sometimes you need to do something. If a player is tired, if somebody gets sent off, in Ronaldinho’s case, Marquez had been sent off, or if somebody is on a yellow, as was Deco, you need to do something.”

On Deco, Rijkaard said “he played well in the first half, and set the pace of the game.” On Henry, he said “he adds depth to the danger and makes the opposition work hard. He adds something to our game. Little by little he is getting into his rhythm and feeling more comfortable on the ball.”

Abidal, important

Rijkaard also commented on new signing Abidal, who “is doing a great job at the back.” He asked what he thought of the way he likes to go forward so much, and replied that “we often play against teams that like to keep it tight at the back and when that happens, it is important that the full backs are able to take advantage of the spaces than open up on the wings. Abidal’s work is important to us.”
“The team looked very fresh in the first half“
Laporta calls for prudence
Despite the win, Joan Laporta does not want to start jumping the gun. “I am satisfied” he said. “But we have to keep working because this is a team that has to grow. We are getting into the right tone, but it is still not quite the tone we want. The team generally did what was asked and we have to be satisfied because they have got three points by playing good football.”
Asked about the injured Eto'o, the president said “I hope he recovers as quickly as possible and does so well”.

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