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15.12.2007 23:58

“The key was to make our mark early”

Vanessa Forns

Frank Rijkaard believes they key to the convincing win against FC Barcelona at Mestalla was “the fact we made our mark early”.

Barça have managed an important win against the team managed by Ronald Koeman which gives the side plenty of confidence ahead of the last game of the year against Real Madrid at the Camp Nou. The manager had promised that they were going to make an early impact on the game, and that is exactly what they did.

Deserved victory

The Dutchman felt his team was in complete control of the match “playing disciplined football, staying organised and putting them under pressure up front … we deserved to win. … We worked hard to get an away win and the team worked very well, and I congratulate them” said Frank Rijkaard. In the second half we eased off the pace and perhaps we relaxed too much”.

Praise for Eto'o and Gudjohsen

One of the most outstanding players was Samuel Eto'o, who scored two of Barça’s goals in Mestalla. Rijkaard said the Cameroonian “was very important for us tonight. He is a key player who reads the game well, creates pressure and scores goals. He played at a high level, he was very generous and moved deeply”.

Frank Rijkaard was also pleased with Gudjohnsen, who “had a great game, he was always very secure on the ball, made some good passes, calmed the nerves and the danger he created was crowned with a goal”.

Messi injured

The bad news was the injury to Lionel Messi. The Argentinian has damaged the femoral biceps in his left leg and will play no part in the game with Real Madrid. “It is bad news. It is a shame for the player and for the team. Let’s hope he gets fit again quickly”, said Rijkaard.

The opposition

He was also asked to comment on what he made of the rival, Valencia, and he observed that “they are not having a good moment, but new managers need time. That is why we put them under early pressure, to make a difference by scoring goals. They also have several injury problems, such as Villa”.
“The key was to make our mark early”
Albert Vicens pleased with Eto'o recovery
Vice president Albert Vicens represented FC Barcelona in the Mestalla box of honour. He was clearly joyful with the convincing win in Valencia, but said “it is a shame that Messi got injured. But we were able to see that Eto'o has recovered and we are satisfied with that.” Asked about the chances of Real Madrid slipping up against Osasuna, the vice president of Barça said “what we need to do is worry about our games, then try to beat Madrid next Sunday”.

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