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FC Barcelona News: 5 January 2014; Victor Valdes Returns to Match Squad Against Elche, Lionel Messi Left Out

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David Ramos

Víctor Valdés back against Elche | FC Barcelona
Víctor Valdés, who was declared fully recovered earlier this week, is back in the squad after Gerardo Martino announced his eighteen for the game with Elche on Sunday afternoon at 16.00. Two other players return: Xavi Hernández and Neymar. The Catalan has managed to put the trouble with his right soleus muscle behind him and the Brazilian is back after missing the last game through suspension.

Martino says Messi has the eye of an assassin | FC Barcelona
There are positive vibes in the Barça camp and "Messi has the eye of an assassin". That was Tata Martino’s way of describing his star striker’s mood following his return to active duty. "He’s come back in good shape. He’s done well in three training sessions" said the manager, although he has decided not to risk things by including Messi in his first squad of the new year.

FC Barcelona v Elche - five historic facts you should know | FC Barcelona
Barça and Elche will play against each other for the first time in 25 years. The Alicante-based team were relegated from Primera in the 1988/89 season, and they were at the bottom of the table the two times they featured against the Blaugrana that season. This year, just ahead of their visit to the Camp Nou, they are 14th just two points above the relegation zone.

Behind the scenes: Open-doors training session | FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona’s open-doors training session at the Miniestadi was a success. The Barça fans looked on as Leo Messi returned to training with a hat-trick in the exhibition match. In this video, seen from the inside, gives the viewers a different perspective on yesterday’s training session.

The FC Barcelona Museum welcomes its 25 millionth visitor | FC Barcelona
Alex Jiménez and his two suns, Estanis and Dídac, 10 and 7, respectively, could not have imagined such a dream-like morning when they visited the Camp Nou this Saturday. The father and his two sons became the 25 millionth visitors to the FC Barcelona Museum President Núñez, which was inaugurated in 1984. The three visitors were informed at 10.30 in the morning.

Rosell: Liga title race to go right to the wire - Goal.com
"Consistency is the key and Atletico under the tutelage of Simone have been performing very well this season," the Blaugrana supremo told reporters in Kenya on Saturday. "No doubt it promises to be one of the toughest campaigns in many years. Atletico have proved that. I can see it going down to the wire.

No pressure on Manchester City in the Champions League, says Denis Suárez | FC Barcelona
The knock out round of the Champions League against Manchester City is circled in red on FC Barcelona’s calendar. The two games will be especially poignant for a player who recently joined the Catalan team: Denis Suárez. The player, who arrived to Barça B this summer from Manchester City's youth team, said, "I really like this tie, it will be very open and I’ll see my old friends."

Blackburn Rovers – Manchester City: Unexpected start in the FA Cup (1-1) | FC Barcelona
Manchester City drew with Blackburn Rovers in the opening round of the FA Cup. Manuel Pellegrini’s men failed to defeat the Blue and Whites in the 1/32 round of the competition, which means City will host Blackburn in for the rematch at Etihad Stadium later this month.

Real 'offered huge deal' to stop Lewandowski going to Bayern - Yahoo Eurosport UK
But Der Spiegel have insisted that Los Blancos tried to tempt the goalscorer by offering him a six-year deal worth between €9.5m-€10m per season. The paper writes that the reigning European champions learned of the move from President Florentino Perez, and considered it ‘an act of war’.

Koke puts Atletico top | Sky Sports Football
The visitors were made to sweat for the victory and had endured a frustrating afternoon at La Rosaleda until the Spain international popped up with the winner on 70 minutes. Not for the first time this season away from the Calderon, Atleti struggled to create many chances but Simeone has instilled a winning mentality in the team and once again they did just enough to take all the points home with them.

Perfect start for Pizzi | Sky Sports Football
Argentina-born Pizzi's countryman Pablo Piatti drilled home the opener just before half-time and the influential Sofiane Feghouli sealed the win midway through the second half with a neat finish. The result gives Valencia only their third victory in 11 Primera Division matches and ensured new boss Pizzi of a happy debut after being confirmed as the permanent replacement for Miroslav Djukic on Boxing Day.

Almeria in cruise control | ESPNFC.com
Sebastian Dubarbier opened the scoring in the 14th minute, while Verza doubled the lead just before the half hour mark from the penalty spot after Diego Mainz had fouled Fernando Soriano in the area. Riki went closest for the visitors, with the former Deportivo La Coruna striker denied by the crossbar after the interval, before Alex Vidal sealed victory for Almeria 11 minutes from time.

Struggling duo share points | ESPNFC.com
Real Valladolid and Real Betis shared the spoils in an exciting albeit goalless draw at the Jose Zorilla stadium, a result that does little to help either team's precarious situation in the Primera Division. Los Blanquivioletas move one point away from the drop zone but could find themselves back in it on Sunday if Osasuna beat Espanyol, while Betis remain rooted to the bottom of the table, five points behind Valladolid.