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FC Barcelona News: 17 August 2013; Full Squad Trains Ahead of Levante Game, 2013-14 La Liga Season Begins Today

Chris McGrath

5 things to watch in La Liga 2013-14 - ESPN FC
Thank heaven that Spanish football is back. Those of us who love it, crave it. That it has flaws is not up for debate. It does. But that facial blemish cannot disguise the fact that, generally, we are faced with a beautiful, golden age of Spanish soccer. Skill, technique, showbiz, drama, high theatre, great goals. These are the things you'd pray for if we weren't already guaranteed them.

La Liga season preview 2013-2014 | Sid Lowe |
The first man to leave was Radamel Falcao. Then Alvaro Negredo departed, then Roberto Soldado. Last season's third, fourth and fifth top scorers, all gone. It is not just them either. Neymar came to Spain, joining Barcelona, and Real Madrid remain confident that Gareth Bale will too. They dominate the agenda – over the past month, 28 of Marca's 30 covers have been dedicated to Real, 10 of them to Bale.

Full Barça squad trains ahead of league kick-off | FC Barcelona
Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino took charge of Saturday’s training session in the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper and was able to work with a full squad to prepare Barça’s competitive debut for the 2013-14 season against Levante in the Camp Nou on Sunday (kick-off 7 pm). The session included Pedro, Messi and Cesc, who have all recovered from their respective injury concerns.

Messi, Alves and Valdés train with squad | FC Barcelona
Leo Messi seems to be recovering well from his quadriceps injury, and was able to train normally with the rest of the squad, as were Valdés and Alves, who had worked out in isolation the day before. The full back has been receiving treatment on a bruised ankle, while Valdés has been doing special recovery work after the Spain friendly in Ecuador.

European match of the weekend: Barcelona v Levante | Pitchside Europe - Yahoo! Eurosport UK
Argentine Martino was a surprise choice to replace Tito Vilanova, after Pep Guardiola's former assistant suddenly announced he was to step down due to ill health just before the start of the pre-season a little over three weeks ago. The 50-year-old moved from Lionel Messi's former club Newell's Old Boys to his first European post as a disciple of the club's possession-based style of football.

Pedro Rodríguez working hard for a place | FC Barcelona
The FCB striker also spoke about the competition he always faces to win a place in the starting line-up. "I’m calm about it" said the Canary Islander. "Every year I’ll face competition in attack, and Neymar’s arrival is a pleasure. He’s one of the best players in the world. I’ve had to face competition every season and it’s hard to get a game. We’re all working hard to get into the starting eleven."

New manager, (almost) guaranteed winning start | FC Barcelona
There’s a saying in Spanish football that goes that "a new manager is a certain win." And that theory certainly seems to hold in the case of Barça. Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino will be the ninth new manager at the start of a league campaign, and six of his eight predecessors got off to a winning start.

Levante empty-handed from Camp Nou visits | FC Barcelona
Levante are starting their ninth season in the first division at a ground that has brought them no fortune whatsoever in the past. Since losing on their first visit to the Camp Nou in 1963/64, they have returned seven times and have always returned to Valencia empty handed. In those games, they have conceded 27 goals (3.25 a game) and scored just 7 (0.87).

Xavi: Barcelona rediscovering intensity under Martino -
"He is transmitting a lot to us. We are recovering a little of the intensity and rhythm that perhaps we lost for various reasons towards the end of last season. We are pressing very well and working well physically. He is adding things that he is influencing a lot. For example, on set-pieces we are working differently. We are adjusting and he is a guy that is very clear about what he wants."

Liga - Spanish transfer gossip: Barcelona to move for Porto duo - Yahoo! Eurosport UK
But the Madrid-based newspaper has claimed that Tata Martino’s men have had second thoughts, and could offer for one of the Dragoes defenders. Otamendi has become ever-present for the Portuguese side since his arrival from Velez Sarsfield in 2010. 22-year-old Mangala meanwhile, has made his debut for the France national team this year.

Romario calls for Rosell probe | Football Espana
The 47-year-old has now called on his country’s public prosecutor to begin an investigation into allegations Rosell earned money from organising international friendlies involving Brazil, money that was allegedly siphoned by the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF) into companies owned by the Barcelona chief.

How Real Madrid beat Barcelona this summer -
The Clasico is cooling off. Real Madrid and Barcelona have not met since early March and, after the capital club failed to overcome Atletico in the final of the Copa del Rey in May, there will be no meeting with the Catalans in the Spanish Supercopa either. Not until late October will hostilities resume. But even though the two teams have not played each other in five months, it seems Madrid have stolen an early march on their bitter rivals.

Real Madrid announce squad numbers | Football Espana
Real Madrid have announced the squad numbers members of their first team will wear in the 2013-14 campaign. However, Los Blancos have caused a surprise by not allocating the No 11 shirt, worn by Ricardo Carvalho last season, to any of the current players, increasing speculation it is reserved for Gareth Bale in case the Welshman finally completes his transfer to the Santiago Bernabeu before the close of the transfer window.

Ancelotti to Xabi Alonso: You owe me the Champions League at Real Madrid -
New Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has jokingly told Xabi Alonso that he 'owes' him a European Cup following the 2005 Champions League final. Ancelotti was head coach of the AC Milan side that gave away a three-goal lead against Alonso's Liverpool in the showpiece in Istanbul eight years ago, and the Italian coach has not forgotten about the events at the Ataturk Stadium.

Sevilla confirm Iborra deal | Football Espana
The 25-year-old has been brought in to replace Chilean international Gary Medel, who has left for Premier League Cardiff City, and joined in boss Unai Emery’s training session on Saturday morning ahead of tomorrow’s opening La Liga game of the season against Atletico Madrid at the Sanchez Pizjuan.

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