FC Barcelona spent Friday morning making their final preparations before welcoming Las Palmas back to Camp Nou. In the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper it was all available hands on deck plus midfielder Gerard Gumbau and goalkeeper José Suárez from the Barça B squad. Friday's session was the team's second following Wednesday's defeat at Celta and Thursday's midday workout.
Forty-somethings Luis Enrique and Juan Carlos Valerón will meet again on Saturday at Camp Nou. Luis Enrique, now as coach of FC Barcelona, will face Valerón, still active and back at UD Las Palmas, the club where he first burst onto the scene.The last time the two met at Camp Nou was in 1997 in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals.
When asked about United's interest, the Barca star told ESPN Brazil: "We had conversations, but there was nothing concrete. "I heard that there were offers but none were made to me." Neymar joined Barcelona from Santos in 2013. He scored 22 league goals in Barca's title-winning campaign last term.
The president of the Spanish Sports Council (CSD) has accused Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola of the "manipulation" of voters after he took part in a video backing Catalan independence. Guardiola, in favour of Catalonia breaking away from Spain, agreed to be on the list of regional election candidates of the pro-independence Junts pel Si (Together for Yes) party.
Sports and politics typically make uneasy companions and so it is in Barcelona, as one of the world’s most powerful soccer clubs finds itself at the center of an intensifying separatist debate. The region of Catalonia has the city of Barcelona as its hub and the red-and-blue clad soccer team of the same name as its social heartbeat. With Catalan sentiment leaning towards an official breakaway from Spain more strongly than ever, it was inevitable that Barca, as the club is affectionately known, would be drawn into the fray.
"I don't know what you've said or written so I can't comment on any criticism," he told a pre-match media conference. "But criticism is part of the DNA of being a professional and being a goalkeeper is a very unique situiation. You can very clearly see if a goalkeeper has helped the team or not. The goals we concede are not the fault of Bravo, Ter Stegen or Jordi [Masip] - it's the responsibility of the whole team.
"I stated my position months ago. We haven't spoken about the subject of independence, it is a sensitive matter and we will not touch upon it today during the Assembly," Tebas said. "I don't value a league without Barca. I don't think it will happen because Catalonia will continue to be part of Spain. The Catalonian clubs would not be able to play in La Liga per the Sports Law."
Asked which team he would play for in all of world football, he revealed he would like to have teamed up alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar. "Today, Barcelona," he added. "They are the same style as Santos and Brazil of my day. Almost the same style."