Vilanova wanted to address reports in the press that Abidal will be back with the team before November. “I said that we’ll wait however long we have to for him. He’s taking steps but he still many more to go. We’re talking about an exceptional case and his recovery will mark his return to the team.”
Barça will equal its best-ever start in La Liga if Tito Vilanova leads his team to victory over Sevilla on Saturday at the Sánchez Pizjuán. The chance to draw level with managers like Louis Van Gaal and Pep Guardiola is a motivating factor for Vilanova, but the first team manager isn’t obsessing over it. The real driving force behind the Catalan is the possibility of winning at the always complicated Sánchez Pizjuán. “It has never been an easy ground. It was at the Sánchez Pizjuán where I experienced the worst 15 minutes of my managerial career since I arrived at the Club.” Vilanova still remembers the 2009/10 match when the Azulgrana played away to Sevilla. Barça needed the three points to practically secure the Liga title and led by three goals to nil, but Sevilla clawed itself back into the match - the final result was 2-3.
It’s understandable that Vilanova is wary of the dangers that Míchel’s men bring to the pitch. In addition to praising Negredo, Navas and Cicinho for their quality, the Barça manager warned of Sevilla’s ability to create danger from set pieces: “They run different kind of plays and they’re very hard to control.”
Sevilla, the first challenge of the week
The first team's next matches will pit them against Sevilla, Benfica and Real Madrid over a span of eight days. Three complicated matches that many might deem pivotal if Barça is to preserve its lead at the top of the table both in the Liga and the Champions League. Vilanova, however, views the schedule differently, “there’s a lot left in all of the competitions and it’s still too early [to come to conclusions]. It’s an important week but in the end we’re only talking about three points. It doesn’t do us any good if we win these games and lose other ones.” In any event, the Catalan did say that the Champions League match against Benfica on Tuesday is perhaps more important than the other two Liga matches given that the European competition is still in its group stage.
Vilanova is keeping tabs on the injured Azulgrana players to see if they might be able to play in the coming week. In recent weeks, the manager noted that he would never force injured players to play. With that in mind, Vilanova said that some of the injured players might get the medical green light ahead of the Champions League match or the Clásico on October 7.
The manager also talked about JordiAlba and the statements the player made in yesterday’s press conference: “There is no controversy with Jordi Alba. I said that he played whilst on antibiotic medication, he said he didn’t have a fever when he played.”
Vilanova also praised Alexis for his humility - the player gave himself a 5 out of 10 when asked to rate his first year with the Club on Wednesday. “Alexis is a humble and generous player. He’s much more than a five.”