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FC Barcelona News: 2 April 2011; Guardiola Drops a Bomb, Abidal Visits Camp Nou, Barcelona Travel To Villarreal


Guardiola, 40, on Friday told Italian television channel Rai Sport: "I think my time is ending here in Barcelona. I'm fine here, but when you're at a club like this you cannot stay for too long. Next year will be the fourth consecutive season as coach of Barcelona. Such a club must have a lot of courage to take a coach for so long, because the players get tired of coaches and vice-versa.''

In the world of Pep Guardiola and Barcelona, everything appears to be running smoothly. A five-point lead at the top of La Liga, a kind draw in the Champions League quarter-finals, and a Copa del Rey final to look forward to against arch-adversaries Real Madrid: very much according to plan so far, then.

After his operation on March 17 and being released from hospital a week ago, Éric Abidal returned to the Camp Nou for the first time today. He walked onto the pitch and greeted all his friends at this crucial time of the season. Everybody was delighted to see that he was his usual cheery self, and is recovering well.

The list: Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Milito, Piqué, Mascherano, Keita, Sergio Busquets, Iniesta, Messi, Bojan, Villa, Jeffren, Afellay, Adriano, Fontàs, Thiago, Montoya and Jonathan dos Santos.

Villarreal v Barça matches are full of anecdotes and curiosities. Bojan’s first goal, Xavi’s first red card in La Liga and a game with eight goals are some of the trivia provided by OPTA.

League leaders Barcelona travel to take on Villarreal, a team that Camp Nou coach Pep Guardiola admitted, after their corresponding fixture in November, employ a philosophy as close to his own as anyone he has faced during his three-season tenure.

Villarreal and Barça can guarantee a good game. They both like to play the ball, hold onto possession and play in combination. Guardiola’s side is admired all around the world, but Saturday’s opposition deserve respect too for the wonderful football they have been producing since the great years under Manuel Pellegrini. Now under Garrido, it is not by chance that they are third in the table.

"It is impossible to win the final 5-0 - impossible. I do not know if these words will be motivational for Madrid. I know the president's intent was not to offend," Guardiola said diplomatically.

Ronaldo, who announced his retirement on February 14, will be presented with a replica of the Machinbarrena and Aranguren statue, which was created in 1925 and now sits in front of the first-team dressing room.

The return of Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuaín was the surprise news in Jose Mourinho’s squad list for Saturday’s visit from Sporting de Gijón. Higuaín has been out of action since November and subsequently underwent surgery to treat a spinal disc herniation. There were other surprises in the coach’s list, Castilla starlets Álex, Juan Carlos and Juanfran have earned a call.

The latest in a series of incidents involving Emery's players - claims that winger Vicente was involved in a fight outside a nightclub - has also led to questions over his ability to maintain discipline. However, Emery has refused to discuss his own fortunes, telling Marca: "To talk about that harms the club.

Real Sociedad winger Xabi Prieto has rubbished reports linking him with a move to Liverpool. The 27-year-old has been with his current club throughout his career, making his debut in 2003 after graduating through the academy.
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