Barcelona

  • Referees influenced La Liga title race, ...

    Gerard Pique claimed referees influenced the outcome of the La Liga title race as the Barcelona defender again called for video technology to be introduced. The Spain international has criticised officials on several occasions this season, both in person and through social media...

    Referees influenced La Liga title race, claims Pique

    Gerard Pique claimed referees influenced the outcome of the La Liga title race as the Barcelona defender again called for video technology to be introduced. The Spain international has criticised officials on several occasions this season, both in person and through social media, and was fined €3,000 in March for some of his remarks. Who is Vinicius Junior? Pique this week urged La Liga to introduce the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology so as to reduce the risk of officials making mistakes that could cost teams important results. And the 30-year-old has gone as far as to say that Real Madrid's title triumph was made easier due to refereeing errors, even though he concedes that Barca did not play well enough consistently to deserve to win. "The referees have been able to influence things; I'm not going to draw up a list of when we have been favoured or when it's happened to our opponents," he told a news conference ahead of Saturday's Copa del Rey final against Alaves.  "In the end, Madrid won, and we have to turn the page. "It's still clear that we should implement VAR, which would have been decisive, but there were games where we did not reach our best level. There's no point throwing criticism around. To win the league, you have to be infinitely better. Chelsea revolution getting the better of Wenger "With VAR, the refereeing errors will be reduced and therefore we'll all be on equal terms. It will take a lot of the responsibility from the referees on vital decisions, like penalties and goals, and they will make far fewer mistakes. "I'm not looking for excuses but sometimes it feels as though you are penalised by more than just the score." Barca face Alaves at Vicente Calderon on Saturday, looking to win the Copa del Rey for the third year in a row. It would mark a victorious end to Luis Enrique's time in charge, with the head coach having confirmed he will leave his position at the end of the season. Pique praised the impact of the 47-year-old during his three years at the helm at Camp Nou and said his cool approach towards the media was not one he used with the players. "He's been one of the best coaches in history. He deserves to win the final," he said. "The easiest thing would be to focus on the titles but for me it's been the way he does things with us [that stands out]. Maybe he didn't have the best relationship with you [the media] but he won over all of us. They've been three amazing years." Luis Suarez will miss the match due to suspension but Pique has backed Paco Alcacer to impress in his absence. "We're a team that can't think about absentees. I'm sure that Paco will have a great game," he added.

  • Neymar has evolved but he needs trophies...

    Luis Enrique has hailed the progress of Neymar during his three-year reign at Barcelona, but rued the lack of trophies in an impressive individual season for the forward in 2016-17. Barca take on Alaves in the Copa del Rey final at the Vicente Calderon on Saturday, giving the he...

    Neymar has evolved but he needs trophies, says Luis Enrique

    Luis Enrique has hailed the progress of Neymar during his three-year reign at Barcelona, but rued the lack of trophies in an impressive individual season for the forward in 2016-17. Barca take on Alaves in the Copa del Rey final at the Vicente Calderon on Saturday, giving the head coach a chance of silverware in his final match. Chelsea revolution getting the better of Wenger Forward Neymar will be central to his side's hopes after a superb individual campaign which he has described as his best at Camp Nou since signing from Santos in 2013. Luis Enrique agrees Neymar, who has 19 goals, has made significant progress in the mental aspect of his game under his stewardship, but regrets Barca's failure to win La Liga or the Champions League to mark the campaign with top trophies. "Neymar has evolved since I came to Barca," said Luis Enrique. "You can see the maturity and the progress in his game, not in terms of his repertoire of skills but in his understanding of the game.  "He has had a great season, although players need trophies and this year they have been lacking." Reflecting on a reign that has seen him win eight trophies, with a ninth available if Barca secure victory against Alaves, Luis Enrique loved the experience of coaching Lionel Messi. "The trophies belong to all the team and of course the best player in the world," he said. "It has been a pleasure to have the best; a leader in the dressing room and an example for his team-mates."

  • Luis Enrique: I haven't pleased everyone...

    Luis Enrique has described his Barcelona coaching career as "enriching" but accepts that he has not been able to please everyone during his three seasons in charge at Camp Nou. Saturday's Copa del Rey final will be Luis Enrique's last match in charge, with the 47-year-old havin...

    Luis Enrique: I haven't pleased everyone in enriching Barcelona spell

    Luis Enrique has described his Barcelona coaching career as "enriching" but accepts that he has not been able to please everyone during his three seasons in charge at Camp Nou. Saturday's Copa del Rey final will be Luis Enrique's last match in charge, with the 47-year-old having confirmed that he will not extend his contract, which expires at the end of next month. Barca won the treble in the former Spain international's first season before claiming the domestic double last year, but victory over Deportivo Alaves at Vicente Calderon this week represents his last chance to end his final campaign with a major trophy. Despite winning eight trophies to date with the club he played for between 1996 and 2004, Luis Enrique has at times been criticised for his recruitments and for adopting a more direct style of play. However, the former Celta Vigo boss insists he has been true to Barca's traditions and compared his spell in charge to an Aesop fable of 'The Man, The Boy And The Donkey', which tells of the fruitlessness of trying to please everyone. "It's easy to focus on the good things; focusing on the bad wouldn't make sense. I'll focus on everything. It's been an enriching experience," he told a news conference on Friday. "I haven't had to change my modus operandi since I started at Barca B. I've had it easy here and at every team I've been at. "When they sign you, it's to win trophies and to be loyal to the Barca style, and we have 100 per cent done that. We've been unpredictable and won titles. It's a positive path. "Of course, I've been wrong many times. It's like the story of the donkey, the grandfather and the grandson. No matter what you do, there will always be someone who won't be happy. They judge you when you make decisions, as a player and a coach. But I'll take the work I've done all day long. "If I'd been told in my first press conference that I'd win eight trophies, I'd have signed for it. The prize [on Saturday] would round it off." Asked about his plans beyond Barca, he replied: "I don't know. I'll enjoy my free time. I have personal projects but nothing complete on a professional level." Luis Enrique hopes for a "special" encounter against Alaves but he warned that Mauricio Pellegrino's side, who beat Barca 2-1 at Camp Nou in September's LaLiga clash, must not be underestimated. "I'd like that, of course [for Barca to play a great game]. First and foremost because if we play well then we'll have a better chance of winning, and also because it was tough to get here. "We want to enjoy the great atmosphere and try to beat Alaves. They more than worry me. I know they're a team in good form, who have had a season at a really high level. "It's undoubtedly one of the best games you can play in because of the atmosphere and for the fact that the stadium is divided between the two sets of fans. "It's a special game, one with the possibility of bringing my time to an end with a trophy."

  • 'Who wouldn't want Coutinho?' - Brazil b...

    Brazil coach Tite feels Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho would fit in perfectly at Barcelona. Liverpool chase £50 million-rated Keita The 24-year-old has been linked with a move to Camp Nou following his excellent displays this season, with the Brazilian scoring 13 goals in 31 ...

    'Who wouldn't want Coutinho?' - Brazil boss Tite talks up Barcelona link

    Brazil coach Tite feels Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho would fit in perfectly at Barcelona. Liverpool chase £50 million-rated Keita The 24-year-old has been linked with a move to Camp Nou following his excellent displays this season, with the Brazilian scoring 13 goals in 31 Premier League outings to help fire his team into the Champions League. Coutinho recently stressed that he would rather build a legacy at Liverpool than become a squad player at Barca, but Tite has little doubt he would become a key figure for the Catalans if he were to make the move. "It absolutely makes sense for me that Barcelona are after him," Tite told Sport. "I do not want to be pretentious about Barcelona, but who would not want a player like Coutinho, with his magic, his ability to invent and create, to change the rhythm and to build play? "We are obviously talking about a hypothetical situation, but Barcelona have Sergio Busquets sitting deep and two midfielders in front of him. Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta are the thinking men in the Barcelona team. Coutinho could play in that role. "He is an ideal player for Barcelona." Coutinho signed a new contract with Liverpool in January that takes him through to 2022.

  • Valverde is a safe pair of hands, but is...

    Luis Enrique's reign as Barcelona coach is almost over. The former Spain midfielder will look to go out on a high on Saturday by beating Alaves and claiming one final piece of silverware. And after that, it is time for the Catalan club to look ahead to next season. V alver...

    Valverde is a safe pair of hands, but is he good enough for Barcelona?

    Luis Enrique's reign as Barcelona coach is almost over. The former Spain midfielder will look to go out on a high on Saturday by beating Alaves and claiming one final piece of silverware. And after that, it is time for the Catalan club to look ahead to next season. V alverde refuses to confirm Barca links Ernesto Valverde is the man who will take over at Camp Nou after he brought to an end his four-year spell at Athletic Club this week. So what can Barca expect from the 53-year-old coach? As a player, Valverde began his career at Alaves and had a two-year spell at Camp Nou under Johan Cruyff. Barca are always keen to hire coaches in tune with their philosophy and in that respect, the Basque fits the bill - even if he featured sparingly during his time at he Catalan club. As a coach, Valverde has had two spells at Athletic, two at Olympiacos and one each with Espanyol, Villarreal and Valencia. Tactically astute, he has played a number of formations in his career, including 4-3-3, 3-5-2, 4-1-4-1 and latterly, 4-2-3-1. And Andres Iniesta added: "If the coach is Valverde, then I wish him all the luck in the world. If it's him, he's prepared for the job. The teams he has been at, the general opinion is that they know what they are doing and they know how to play." There is little doubt about that, but he has never coached a club of Barca's magnitude and in that respect, the jury is out. Valverde took Espanyol to a UEFA Cup final and has won three league titles in Greece, while his record at Athletic is good. He is undoubtedly a safe pair of hands who should do well, but it remains to be seen whether that will be enough to revitalise a Barca team somewhat in decline over the past two seasons.

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