New Barcelona head coach Gerardo Martino has admitted that his team still needs to improve, while Villarreal moved into top spot with a 3-0 win over Osasuna. Elsewhere, Barca loanee Rafinha Alcantara scored for Celta Vigo against Granada
It may only be the third game of the league campaign but the objective remains the same as ever – take the three points and keep up the pressure at the top of the table. For Barça, it’s the second away match on the bounce and their recent record in the Mestalla suggests that they face a tough challenge on Sunday against Valencia
. They have a relatively meagre haul of four wins there in the past ten years, the last one coming three seasons ago, with a single Messi strike making the difference between the two sides. Barça need to win – and to win in the best Barça style.
Gerardo Martino spoke at a press conference on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s match against Valencia in the Mestalla (kick-off 9pm). The Argentine manager revealed that he has excluded Xavi Hernández and Alexis Sánchez from the match squad and explained: "It was their turn to rest". He insisted that the team "need to get into gear to play at their best" and that "we need to improve our teamwork".
Miroslav Djukic has never donned a Barça shirt but many fans have a special place in their hearts for the man who was unlucky enough to miss a vital penalty and clear the way for the Dream Team to take their fourth consecutive league title.
Speaking in an interview with Mundo Deportivo, the 33-year-old Frenchman, who was out for nearly a year after a liver transplant in April 2012, says he felt he deserved another season in Catalunya for his effort and commitment to the Blaugrana. "I would have liked to continue [at Barcelona
] at least a year and then would see. I believe I deserved that for my effort and believe that I fooled no one. I'm in great shape. I have recovered and believe in my footballing future. Now I will give everything in Monaco and then in the future we'll see."
Andres Iniesta has revealed Barcelona are worried about another Champions League duel with Celtic. He said: "There is never an easy group in the Champions League. This one is very similar to last season’s for us and that wasn’t easy. Celtic are never easy opponents. Last season we suffered against them in the Nou Camp and we were defeated in Glasgow. People believe they are a comfortable rival for us but it’s not true. We’re prepared for another battle against them."
Premier League clubs look certain to take their expenditure to unprecedented levels before the 11pm deadline on Monday with Manchester United, Liverpool, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal all trying to pull off big-money deals. Madrid hope their protracted signing of Bale will be confirmed after Tottenham’s game against Arsenal on Sunday, and the Welshman would then be presented at the Bernabéu on Monday evening.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez
has confirmed that he is open to extending the loan of Barcelona winger Gerard Deulofeu
until 2015. Already impressed, Martinez says there is a possibility of extending the loan agreement into a second season. He said in the Daily Star: "We can take him for a longer period. I don't think it is an option to take him permanently because the hopes in Barcelona are huge for him, but with him being such a young man, perhaps we could extend it for a further year."
The Italian forward spoke positively about the Old Lady's chances of emulating previous successes in Europe after being drawn against Madrid, Galatasaray and Copenhagen in Group B, stressing that they have enough quality to progress at the expense of Madrid if they have to. "The club has indicated that the Champions League is a concrete goal," the 38-year-old was quoted by Tuttosport. "Juve can easily go through to the next round, even against Real Madrid
In a match that started in August and finished in September due to the kickoff at 11 p.m. local time, Villarreal
were far more threatening than their Pamplona-based hosts and took the lead through Jeremy Perbet in the 23rd minute. Javier Aquino
added a second in his canary-coloured shirt seven minutes later and substitute Ikechukwu Uche
made it 3-0 in the 75th with a clinical finish to a sweeping move.
Celta Vigo's lack of finishing touch condemned it to a 1-1 draw at home against Granada, while Valladolid beat Getafe 1-0 for its first points of the season. Celta dominated Granada at Balaidos Stadium and went ahead in the 29th when midfielder Rafina Alcantara- brother of Bayern Munich's Thiago- fired in a cross that had taken a deflection to catch goalkeeper Roberto Fernandez out of position.