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28.09.2007 14:25

“If we play like this, we will win"

Sandra Sarmiento

Frank Rijkaard could not hide his delight at the upturn in every aspect of the FC Barcelona in recent matches that has led to three consecutive home victories and silenced the critics.

Wins against Lyon, Sevilla and Real Zaragoza in the space of a week has seen the Blaugrana's spirit return and their performances have been hailed by everyone, including the Dutch coach: "The team has trained well," he said. "The results have changed and so has the attitude and the play. The team is entertaining too, but the most important thing is to see the dynamics of unity and hard work. If we continue doing this then we will win the majority of our games."

Puyol’s return

280907rijkaard01.jpgCarles Puyol has been named in the FC Barcelona squad for the first time this season and Rijkaard is delighted for the club captain. "We are very happy because he has been told he can play again," the coach said. "The practice game with the youngsters went well and he had no problems. He is ready to come back and play." Asked whether Puyol will play this weekend, Rijkaard said: "It depends what we need. For example, Iniesta is a midfielder who can attack and is so intelligent that he can play on the right wing, the left and behind the strikers. It is great to have a player like this."

Márquez and Ronaldinho

Rafa Márquez, Ronaldinho, Gianluca Zambrotta and Santi Ezquerro are all out of the squad to face Levante on Saturday. Rijkaard spoke first about Ronaldinho saying: "He is very lively and what he needs it to recover from his injury and return to form." Reflecting on Márquez's absence, he stated that the defender has not ben included "as prevention measure" after the Mexican received a blow to his Achilles tendon in midweelk. "He has some pain and we dio not want to take any risks."

This weekend

qm3d1764.jpgAfter winning their last two league games at home, Barça now go in search of their first away victory of the campaign. Looking back at the draws against Racing and Osasuna Rijkaard explained: "We have not played how we have wanted to. I am not looking for excuses, but both those games took place after international breaks. The match at the weekend will be important for us to try and maintain the run we have started." Levante maybe in last place in the table, but the Blaugrana coach does not believe that means anything at this stage of the season: "You cannot think it will be asy. All our opponents deserve respect," he said. "We have to go out there with the right mentality and if we work hard then the quality will make the difference. But here are no easy games."

Touré’s strength

Rijkaard then defended Touré Yaya after he received a yellow card for a crunching challenge on Frnacelino Matuzalem in midweek. The Brazilian has been ruled out for two months with knee ligament damage, but the Barça coach stated that Touré "does not look to injure players. He went for the ball. He is so strong and to come up against him is different to other players. He has adapted quickly during his time here and is tactically very good."

Pleased with Henry

With only one goal in six official matches this term, Thierry Henry will be hoping to start hitting the net more regularly soon. Rijkaard is not worried though: "I am satisfied as he works hard for the team," he continued. "He looks to add depth and creates chances and it is only a matter of time. With a simple touch he set up the goal for Messi (against Real Zaragoza). Physically he is improving and in the final minutes against Zaragoza he had a great chance. He must learn to love the ball again. I am pleased because he can only improve."
“If we play like this, we will win“

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Golden Messi
Frank Rijkaard believes that Lionel Messi would be a deserved winner of the prestigious Ballon d'Or. "He is a unique player," the Dutch coach said. "The Ballon d'Or? He deserves it. He does things that are not always seen. He plays very simply. He is very fast, he can dribble, he can shoot and he is great finisher. For me he is a contender. He is a joy to watch."

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