Tito Vilanova at the hotel in Hamburg / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

Tito, Adriano and Alexis at the press conference / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

It was a very busy Tuesday morning for Leo Messi, who didn’t travel to Germany for the team’s first match of the pre-season. Tito Vilanova apologised to the German fans for the Argentine’s absence: “I apologise to the people of Hamburg that bought a ticket. Messi sustained a last-minute injury. At 7.00, when he got up, he wasn’t feeling well, he called in, he came to the Camp Nou as quickly as possible for tests, and it was confirmed that he has a small injury. If he were to play, he would be at risk of aggravating his injury.”

Vilanova added: “Messi is a footballer that always wants to play. He was on form when he started the pre-season, he’s the first to lament that he can’t play today. Hopefully he’ll be fit on Saturday.”

“An honour” to be in Hamburg

On this afternoon’s match, Vilanova said that it’s an “honour” for FC Barcelona to be able to participate in the German team’s 125th anniversary celebration. “We’ve seen three of Hamburg’s games in the run-up to today’s match. We know that they are a team that tried to play good football last season. It’s true that they’ve lost some players, but Hamburg is a historic team in European football and they’ve been European champions,” said the Azulgrana manager.

Vilanova recognised that this afternoon’s match isn’t “special” for him despite the fact that it will be his first at the Barça helm since he was named the team’s manager. “I was the assistant manager for four years, and all of them were special. This is a pre-season match, and we need to show all of the training we’ve done on the pitch.”

Confident in Alves

The manager also talked about Dani Alves’ press conference. “If I had known that Alves was feeling that way, I would have grabbed the telephone and called him. The next time I will do that. For me, Alves is the best right back in the world and, quite possibly, one of the best signings in the recent memory,” said Vilanova.

Support to the families affected by the fire in Catalonia

At the start of the press conference, Vilanova sent a message of hope and encouragement to the families affected by the fire in Alt Empordà: “as an Empordà man, I want to encourage the people of Empordà and thank those that are fighting the fire. We mourn the four deaths and the many more that have been injured. I also lament the state of the land affected by the fire. A big hug to everyone.”

Adriano: “Alba is a fantastic signing”

Adriano Correia and Alexis Sánchez accompanied Tito Vilanova in today’s pre-match press conference. The Brazilian praised Barça’s newest player, Jordi Alba, a footballer that plays in the Brazilian’s position: “with Alba’s arrival I’ll have competition. I’ll need to keep on working. Jordi Alba had a fantastic Euro campaign and he’s a great footballer. Barça need players like Jordi Alba and the Club got it right when they signed him. He’ll bring a lot to the team.”

Alexis Sánchez stated the he learned a lot from his injury riddled 2011/12 season, he added that he’s confident that he’ll be able to improve upon his overall performance: “I learned a lot from my teammates last year. I know them better. I’ll do everything I can to have a better year. I also want to score more goals.”