Skip menu

Main menu

Content menu

Top of page


Link to related content


17.11.2007 10:54

“We still have time. The best remedy is competition”

Eduard Pujol

FC Barcelona technical secretary, Txiki Begiristain, analyses the first team’s situation. He wants to see the defence get its intensity back, is in favour of solidarity between players and wants to see the ball moving around as easily as it used to.

Begiristain believes the coaching staff know exactly where things need to be improved in the team but that a lot depends on getting Eto'o, Deco and Edmílson fit again, as competition for places in the starting line up is an important factor.

We have a weekend without league football. Is it nice to get a break to analyse how things are standing?

"Yes, to see where we are coming from, where we are, and where we want to go. In that sense, we’re relaxed because we think we know what’s happening and also how to solve things."

Where have we come from?

"We have come from many good years, of good football and creating a style. We have come from good football, which has also been team football, and not just a question of one or two players but basically, a collective affair."

The team is progressing without too many problems in Europe. And the next round of the Cup is sorted. Is the only problem in the league?

"More than speaking about one competition we have to look at the way the team is playing. You can’t separate one competition from another. The feelings we get are the same, although the results have been better away from the league. We have suffered more away from home, in part because the level of the Spanish league is stronger that which we got in the Cup and what we have had in the Champions League, with Stuttgart coming with problems, and also Olympique Lyon came with problems. What changes are the opponents. With the teams we have met in the first division we have found that there are things missing that create imbalance in the team. That is what we have to solve."

Txiki Begiristain still finds it strange that a week after the praise received for beating Betis and Glasgow at home, we suddenly lose at Getafe and the defeat seems so much bigger and important. Are these sudden changes part of Barça? Shouldn’t they be avoided?

fcbrangers9_x5x.jpg"The thing is these changes don’t come from within. The analysis we make ourselves is not the same as the one they make outside. Ours is colder. We are aware that, although at home the team has got good results, there are defects in the team. We have noticed these defects, even when the team plays well. That is why after a game the sensations are strange and bad, like in the game with Getafe, which is precisely about getting serious, because we have to immediately get back to playing the kind of football we have been able to play in recent years."

From within you are never as euphoric or pessimistic as they are outside.

"If we look at the specific case of two weeks ago, Barça was on the covers under headlines like “trio of aces”, “what a trio”, “how amazing”, “this is solved…” but we were aware that they weren’t, that Barça’s football was not as fluid as we wanted, that the ball wasn’t moving as fast as it did before. So our end analysis is based on work and improving what Rijkaard has already noted. It’s clear that there is a lack of mobility and another thing to improve is our work rate. And, to be more specific, defensive intensity."

Should we talk of a crisis?

"I think that would be absolutely over the top. We have time to correct everything. The thing is that to be able to correct things, we really need the full squad. In other words, the best way to solve this problem is through competition, because competition has to be generated from within. And it can only be generated from within if the full squad is at the manager’s disposition."

Are the returns of Deco, Edmílson and Eto'o basic for setting things straight?

fcb-at.madrid-deco_x1x.jpg"It is very important for them to come back. I am not speaking about them as individuals, but the fact that the coach will be able to field the strongest team possible, the players that are most on form and that meet the minimum demands required of a Barça player, who feels the thrill of playing football our way. That means movements, profundity, mobility, work, the fact that if you lose the ball you have to get back into position. There is a series of things they have to give. The manager will decide who plays based on who can meet these demands and who can do it with the most quality."

In the league, Barça have not lost at home since February 5, 2006. Does that superiority mean visiting teams assume that they are weaker?

"Not weaker, but more defensive, taking fewer risks and with defenders that don’t move up like they otherwise would. That makes it easier for us. And there is also the advantage that in the Camp Nou there is more space and our fans also help."

Is the Camp Nou crowd demanding enough of the team? Should Barça fans only applaud when they are enjoying things?

10-03-07_Camp_Nou_02.jpg"All we can ask of the fans is that they come to the stadium, and they do. Whether they enjoy themselves or not is up to us. We have to make sure the games are enjoyable, that there is a show, but without losing the balance of our game, because neither do we want to make them suffer. All of that is what we have to do. We want the crowd to cheer because they want to, and enjoy watching us play and then go home happy because they have seen Barça play a great game."

The praise in summer, in the pre-season, did all that damage a team that, after last season, had said they would work well on the basis of self-demands and self-criticism?

"No. In the pre-season we played no big teams, which is how we wanted it. The results were good and the football was what we had hoped for. But then in September, the competitive games were another thing and with that came problems. Problems, but not to pick the team, because we have always had enough players, but problems getting the team as a whole to play well. We didn’t have problems with injuries in the summer, and now we do."

There has been talk these days of new managers, changes in all areas, signings and reinforcements. Do these lists suggest trouble at a club that needs quiet or is there some truth in them?

"You earn your own peace, you earn it by performing well. I won’t give any names. It is clear that, as a club, we constantly work with players, but given the circumstances we shouldn’t need to think about the winter transfer window. We do know that we could be missing Eto'o and Touré for a month and ten days, but we’re happy with the squad. We don’t think there is any need to do anything with the squad, and we have a series of injured players that are recovering. We are even more relaxed when it comes to coaches, because they have won our confidence and every day I am lucky enough to get to talk to them. I know what they think and I agree with them totally. But of course, to do what they want, we do need to have our full squad available."

The word ‘solidarity’ is very much in vogue since the captain Carles Puyol spoke the other day. The technical secretary also spoke on the subject. Is part of the solution to the current problem being strong in defence of what that word represents?

QM3D3041.jpg"Absolutely. It’s basic. We also have to speak about our collective spirit. We can’t forget that this is a team game. It’s a cliché but football is a group game and you need companionship. That collective spirit is what we need to get back, especially when looking at our balance when we lose the ball."

When you were a Barça player there was that famous phrase ‘sacred cows’. Are they a good thing? Should everybody work as hard as each other? Is football different today?

"‘Sacred cows’ is still a term you can apply. Not only during the week, but on match days too. Obviously, when in a tight patch, there are players that make the difference. The other players seek them out. What their faces are saying is: “Please, get me out of here, you have the capacity, the experience, the leadership. With all the qualities you have, you have to try to find a solution to this problem”. These things happen in a game and when the results aren’t what you expected, the team needs something to cling to and star players are the ones who have to assume that responsibility."

The next away games are in Lyon, in Europe, and Valencia and Espanyol in the league. Last season you lost at Mestalla and Montjuïc. Will this year’s games be a good chance to see what this team can really do or don’t you believe in exams and all or nothing situations?

"I am more in favour of getting back the feelings we have lost a bit, and we have to feel them again, more than then results of matches. In the Cup, in Alcoi, we got back our balance, getting the lines straight, working in defence, being intense in defence. That is what I want to see, whatever the game."

But although it was a division 2B side, FC Barcelona have often struggled in games like that. Do you think the game produced a positive response?

txiki1.jpg"Yes, yes. I mean the little things that happened in the game. If this is consolidated, I’m not scared of going to Montjuïc, I’m not scared of going to Valencia, I’m not scared of Madrid coming. If there is mobility and intensity, and the ball moves faster, if I see that, I will feel relaxed, because then we can go to any ground and win, and win at home to. But there will always be games where things don’t come off so well, but we need the tranquilly of knowing that we have the quality to bounce back and win the game after."

One last thing: will Barça’s Christmas be a happy one? Three days before we have the game with Madrid...

"I have every hope and confidence that it’ll go very well, because the team is very complete, the managers are focused on their jobs and as we are getting our competitiveness back I think we will also start getting the right results, good football and the people will be happy and proud of a spectacular Barça, but also one that works hard, that suffers, and that can suffer against a strong opponent."

“We still have time. The best remedy is competition”

To view this content you need the latest version of the Flash Player

“Bojan and Giovani have some great teachers”
There are some new elements in the side, including the young Bojan and Giovani. What role can these lads play?

"We are lucky to have these players of 17 and 19 years and be able to bring them up without loaning them out anywhere else, thanks to the competitive squad we have. We are lucky enough to be able to train these players at our own pace. And they’re responding well. Giovani gives us a lot of depth, he’s very well built, he has the body to deal with knocks and Bojan is a natural talent that is being displayed every time he plays. He makes perfect movements and has the perfect intuition for knowing where the ball is going. For these reasons, we are very happy and hope they can learn from the footballers around them, all of whom our household names and huge stars."

Have these players arrived at the right time, because a lot has already been said about Messi, and does that make it easier to know how to treat them?

"Yes. They should not be given too many responsibilities. The team doesn’t solely depend on them. This a clear case of knowing who our ‘sacred cows’ are, who the others look up to. They should not be given too much responsibility, not because they wouldn’t be able to take it, but because that would not be fair. They have players alongside them who can do that, players that Frank defines as educators."

Between the educators and the upcoming youngsters, we have Messi...

"Yes, but the thing with Messi is he has come on amazingly"

Does Messi no longer need protection?

"I don’t think so. But we also agree that Messi has not learned everything yet. He clearly doesn’t know all about the football world yet or about what it means to be in a team. He needs to keep learning, but the truth is that his personality, his capacity for leading the attack, for taking on responsibilities is something he has already learned and he is doing these things well."

Top of page

Back to top

Related content

Football News

Back to top
Top of page