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FC Barcelona News: 2 February 2013: Happy Birthday Gerard Pique!

A round-up of all today's news, including birthday wishes for Gerard Pique who turned 26. Moving back to football, Barcelona expect to be without Tito Vilanova until March, and Osasuna pick up a vital win against Celta Vigo

David Ramos

Tito Vilanova cancer latest: Barcelona coach in New York for treatment | Mail Online

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova is in New York receiving treatment for cancer and is expected to be away from Catalonia for at least the next month, according to reports in Spain. There have been reports that he could remain in America until the end of March. Despite being absent from training sessions, Vilanova continues to communicate his decisions to the club's coaching staff outside of Spain. Vilanova is understood to speak to his assistant Jordi Roura at the end of every training session providing notes on training sessions.

It’s been a hectic start to 2013, during the 25 days from the Kings Day game against Espanyol to Wednesday’s Clasico at the Bernabeu, Barça played eight games, an average of one every three days. It’s been a successful start too though, which has finished with the team 11 points clear at the top of the league and just a game away from another Cup final after seeing off Cordoba and Malaga. February sees the rhythm of games ease off a little at the start of the month at least, but the intensity of the games Barça face certainly won’t be letting up, with a number of matches coming up that could define their season.

He pointed out that since Ernesto Valverde took over Valencia has been fighting its way back up the league table thanks to some good results. "They’ve won five of their last seven matches. They’re focussed, very dangerous on the break and will push us very hard. I don’t think they’ll play any differently against us, despite the defeat [against Real Madrid] they suffered. As for Barça’s title challenge, he said: "Winning would be a step forward".

Bartra and Tello have been dropped from the final squad while Abidal and Dos Santos remain on the injury list. Which means there’s just one change from the squad that drew midweek in Madrid, with Montoya coming in for Bartra. The team will travel to Valencia on Sunday morning.

The deadline day sale of Spain defender Nacho Monreal to Arsenal has been a major blow to Malaga and reveals the delicate state of their financial situation, coach Manuel Pellegrini said on Saturday. "Monreal's exit is a very sad moment for the team," Pellegrini told a news conference, ahead of the visit of Real Zaragoza in La Liga. "It deprives us of a very important player who performed to the highest standards. I understand they have to try and balance the books, because the pressure is on us from all sides, and we have received punishments. It is a major loss to us in sporting terms."

Málaga CF have moved to fill the void left by Arsenal FC-bound full-back Nacho Monreal by snapping up Portuguese international defender Antunes on loan from FC Paços de Ferreira. The 25-year-old – who last summer returned for second spell with Paços Ferreira, fourth in the Liga – will remain at La Rosaleda until the end of the season. The Costa del Sol club will then have the option to make the deal permanent.

Osasuna moved above Celta Vigo in the fight for survival in La Liga with a 1-0 win in Pamplona. Emiliano Armenteros hit the winner in the 55th minute from Vadim Demidov's ball into the box. That moves them out of the relegation zone and on to 21 points, with Celta on 20.

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