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18.01.2009 12:55

Goodbye to La Masia

Vanessa Forns

The FC Barcelona first team will move to the club's Ciutat Esportiva training complex on Monday and leave the pitch in front of La Masia, that has seen some great coaches and players work out, 31 years after it was laid down.

Pep Guardiola gave his players Sunday off after their impressive victory against Deportivo de La Coruña the night before and they will return to training at 11am on Monday. But they will do so at a new venue as the squad moves to the Joan Gamper complex in Sant Joan Despí and will not be returning to play on the pitch that has been there base for so many years next to Camp Nou.

The inauguration

masia260.jpgBefore the pitch was created in 1978, the land at the side of the Barça stadium had been used as a parking place for the supporters' club's coaches on matchdays. But on June 1 of that year, work began on a pitch and on August 15 it was completed. Despite that the first training session did not take place there until December 6.

Many coaches and players

masia283.jpgSince then, no less than 14 coaches have taken training sessions there starting with Lucien Müller up until Guardiola this term, while Terry Venables, Johan Cruyff, Sir Bobby Robson, Louis van Gaal, Raddy Antic and Frank Rijkaard, among others, have all worked there. They all oversaw a number of world class players as the build-up to memorable games, including the trip to Wembley in 1992 for the European Cup Final and the game in 2006 in Paris for the Champions League Final.

Change for security

07-04-06_Web_equipo_03.jpgThe move to the Joan Gamper complex has been made due to the day-to-day changes that have been made to the first-team's training routine and the security required. Up until now a number of guards have ensured that the players were able to work uninterrupted as security man Fernando Calderón explained: "For all of us it has been a constant job over the years. We have seen everything and we will miss the players."

"A positive move"

Others, such as those responsible for the dressing rooms, will also move to the new venue and one of those that can see the advantages is José Muñoz. "It is positive to be going to the new complex," he said. "We are all going together and will have the same roles, just in a different environment."

Moving the kit

José Antonio Ibarz, one of the Barça kitmen, has been at the club nearly 26 years. "I have some very good memories" of working on the pitch in front of La Masia, he said, but admitted that he was optimistic about the "new phase". Moving the kit and training gear to the pitch will be "a lot easier" at the new complex, Ibarz believes, because the stairs between the dressing rooms and the pitch before made things complicated.
Goodbye to La Masia
A question of dimension
One of the main reaons that the team has been moved to the new training complex is that the pitch in front of La Masia was not of the correct dimensions, according to first team delegate Carlos Naval. "We will miss the pithc because it was a good place to traing and so many coaches and players have spent so many hours out there," he said. "But in reality that comfort became uncomfortable because of the dimensions of the pitch."

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