below are the press conferences of the previous 2 days, by el capita and the greatest defensive midfielder in the world.  transcripts are from martiperarnau.com, by carles nicolau.

puyi’s presser (dec 20)

Carles Puyol:  Seeing Tito with the will to fight gives us strength

Carles Puyol: Seeing Tito with the will to fight gives us strength

Q:  How are things in the dressing room?  How was Tito yesterday?  And of course, considering that Tito’s health is the priority, how can you all help?

CP:  At first, it was a very hard day.  Especially in the morning when we heard the first news but didn’t have the final diagnosis.  The truth is that it was a very hard blow, but after he went to the dressing room and explained it to us, I think that it gave us strength to see him so upbeat, with a lot of will to fight; he was saying that he already wanted to return and I believe that this is a very good sign.  And today, the dressing room is more positive because of the talk we had with him, and also because of the good news about his operation.  The first message we got was that it all went very well, and because of this, we are very happy.

Q:  It seems paradoxical.  Yesterday, Eric Abidal returned to the group, then the three renewals were announced, yours, Xavi’s and Messi’s, and then you are dealt a blow like this.

CP:  Yes, they are harsh blows.  As Zubi said yesterday, it’s straight to the jaw.  But we have to get up and continue to fight.  I think that this team has always done that and we will continue to do that and so here we are.

Q:  How has the dressing room received the tie with Milan for the Champions League knockout?  And what do you think of the opponents of the other Spanish teams?

starstruck puyi with his idol maldini

starstruck puyi with his idol maldini

CP:  About our tie, I’m personally very happy.  You know I always, well I’ve said the other day, that I want to play against Milan, not because it’s going to be easy, but because it’s a team that I’ve always liked and I like to play there, it’s an impressive stadium and I’m sure it’s going to be a very beautiful tie.  About Madrid-Manchester, it’s between the greatest teams in Europe, and the same about the other two.  I think that Porto-Malaga and PSG-Valencia will be complicated ties, but I think the favorites will be the Spanish teams.

Q:  Does your role have to change a bit in the weeks that Tito will be gone?  Does the dressing room need to have more responsibility?

CP:  No, I think that the team is very responsible, and what we have to do is continue doing the same and aiming to be the best, as we have been doing, and that’s it.  We are waiting for him very eagerly, but the most important thing is that he gets well.  The best thing we can do to help is that the team continues in the same patch, and overcome the matches ahead, and that’s it.

Q:  If my calculations are not mistaken, that will be six matches against Milan within a year and a half or two years.  This means that you know them well, you know their approach well, and they likewise know you.  Is this good or bad in this new tie against Milan?

CP:  Neither good nor bad.  It’s clear that we know them, but we also know other rivals.  And if we don’t know them, we study them more, and in the end they are always very complicated ties.  There, it is always a very difficult match, but we’ll never know until we get there, and we still have a long way to go.

something we will miss this year

something we will miss this year

Q:  Yesterday, we saw the four captains.   You’ve already had similar experiences in the dressing room, twice with Abidal, once with Tito and now a second one.  Does this help to deal with things, that you’ve lived it before, or is it worse?

CP:  They are always very harsh blows, you are never prepared to receive news like that.  Unfortunately, this is the fourth.  But the example of Abidal, who has now returned to train with us, gives the group strength, as well as Tito I’m sure.  I think that they are examples for us and also for the masses who unfortunately are suffering or can suffer this illness.  If you fight, you can continue on, you can be well and even compete at the highest level.

Q:  What was special yesterday whem you saw Tito?  How do you see him, considering he came to tell you personally, and what message did he give to reassure you?

CP:  Above all, the strength he exuded.  We were touched, of course, and when he finished speaking, I think we were a bit better.  Amidst the gravity of the situation, he reassured us, and we saw his will to fight and be with us as soon as possible.  This always gives us strength.

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Q:  What can you say about Roura, who will be in Tito’s place while he’s not here?  The people don’t know him very well.

CP:  He has worked with us for years, we know him perfectly.  He’s also one of the most active during training.  In this sense, things continue the same way.  Our way of playing and our approach will not change.  He knows our philosophy perfectly, I think that we are in very good hands.

Q:  What does it mean to you that the club decided that Roura will take over?  Is it a message of confidence?  Of continuity?  Of calm?

CP:  Yes, of calm.  I think that we don’t need to worry, to continue in the same way is the best decision and I think that it is the correct one.

Q:  Can you give us an evaluation of the year 2012 for the team?  How do you evaluate the time of Guardiola, the time of Tito Vilanoa and also being champions of the Copa del Rey?

CP:  It was a year when we won one title, we won the Copa, we had a very hard week when we we were eliminated from the Champions league and also practically lost La Liga against  Madrid, but this season has begun very well, with much determination, the trajectory of the team us very good, and what we want is to continue this way in 2013.

Q:  This morning, Johan Cruyff spoke on Rac1 and commented that the fact that the team has veteran players with a lot of experience will help you move forward during this time that Tito isn’t here.  Do you have a special role when it comes to the younger ones?  What is it like in the dressing room, being one of the veterans?

CP:  I think that it is clear to all of us what we have to do, the path that we have to follow and I do not think we need the hierarchy.  They have very clear things to do, they can have as reference those who’ve played longer, but they have learned their lessons already, with the same way of playing, the deportment and everything learned in the cantera.

Q:  It’s a curious thing, a situation like yesterday, when Tito was the one giving you strength and reassurance.  Is this the great virtue that sets Tito aparts?  This fortitude, carrying on come what may, like yesterday when he was the one who reached out to all of you when he was the sick one.

CP:  Yes, both he and Abi, despite being the ones affected most, have always given us strength.. This is always important to us, and also for them.  It means that they are strong, with much will to fight and move forward, and because of these, things have been good.

Q:  Before this misfortune, however, knowing very well how things are in the dressing room, can you help being a human group, together for so long?  And in the same vein, do you think that you have to assume a bigger role than before?

CP:  No, we have be as we were, in the same path and not change anything.  We have to stay calm, that he will recover, that he will get better as soon as possible, and we will continue with our work and focus all our strength and energy so that everything will turn out very well.

Q:  Before, you said that you are in good hands with Jordi Roura, but there were speculations about talking to Guardiola or some other coach in order to take over for Tito Vilanova temporarily or until the end of the season.  What can you say to those who doubt Jordi?

CP:  I don’t know who doubted, Zubi and the president already made it clear.  And what we have to do is remain calm.  We cannot control the news, I’ve nothing more to say about this.

in jordi i trust.

in jordi i trust.

Q:  Is this the strength of the club?  To continue as is, not having talked to Guardiola or any other substitute?  I don’t know if you were bothered that names were being dropped yesterday, in the situation we found ourselves in.

CP:  Hombre, I think that it is a line that sometimes, you shouldn’t cross.  But like I said yesterday, we cannot control it, and we have to remain calm.  I think the club has made a very correct decision.

Q:  How have you seen Eric Abidal in the trainings since he was allowed to return to the group?

CP:  He seems very well.  He has been training for a few days, but yesterday, he was allowed to train with the group.  Now he has to go little by little.  Each day, he is better, he has much strength and I’m sure that very soon he will be ready to compete.  With Eric Abidal, we are much stronger.

1355943953216

Q:  That Bojan is in Milan makes it more exciting to face them, compared to the other times?

CP: Yes, I always look forward to it, and returning to face them with Bojan is special.  He is a good friend, I always wish him the best and I am sure that for him, returning home will be a very beautiful day.

not our little boy anymore

not our little boy anymore

Q:  I want to ask you about your renewal, it’s been a couple of days since we learned about that you’ve come to an agreement.  What does this contract mean to you?  Do you think it will be the last?  The decision about the time frame was yours or the club’s?

CP:  It was the club who proposed it to me.  It looked good to me.  I said the other day that although now I have 3 years more, I will continue playing as long as I feel good.  My plan is to complete my contract and to be at my best during those years, and if I can be that way for more years, I will do so.  But this is very far from now, and we’ll see what happens.

Puyol-1

***  whew!  that was long, but very worthwhile.  i’m biased, but i do think puyi gives the best pressers.  among the players, that is.  obviously, zubi is the boss.

1355864560010

***

now for busi’s (dec 21)

Sergio Busquets:  I'm sure that Roura will do very well

Sergio Busquets: I’m sure that Roura will do very well

Q:  What is the feeling of the dressing room, faced with this match?  Is it hard to focus solely on the game, considering where you are coming from?  A little info on how the players are and if the objective is to win more than the three points, also for Tito.

SB:  It’s clear that it’s only been a day and the players must be at the game; yes it was bad news but as Puyol said yesterday, Tito gave us a very positive message and this also was very good for the team; and now we want the victory in Valladolid and above all, also like you said, I’m sure that the win will give Tito strength.

Q:  I imagine that now more than ever, after what has transpired, tomorrow in Valladolid you will want to dedicate the victory to el mister.

SB:  Yes, they are three very important points, but furthermore like you said, it will be very important on a collective level because of what has happened these past days.  And above all, I’m sure Tito will be watching and this will help him get better.

Q:  Focusing on the match, Valladolid has a team that are particularly powerful in front; until now, you’ve had problems defending set pieces, corners, fouls.  Can this be the principal handicap that you will have in Zorrilla?

SB:  Valladolid has a very good team, I think that more than the passing game, we are concerned about them as a whole.  It’s a team that plays football very well, that wants possession, that has been having a very good season.  And I don’t think that we should focus on just one thing but on the whole; and furthermore, on our own game.  We know that we are going to a very difficult game, and we intend to come out on top.

Q:  I want to know a little about what you might miss about Tito in this first game, as far as what he brings you before the match, in those minutes before kickoff, at halftime, what is it that he gives you that you might miss or that Roura could supply?  How do you see the situation?

SB:  Well, he is the manager, he’s in charge of everything, of giving the tactical chat, of talking to us about the match, about the rival.  It’s clear that it’s going to be an important loss, but among us, we plan to be of help to Jordi, who is sufficiently capable of doing it.  But it’s clear that it is a new thing and together we will help him so that he’ll feel comfortable and together we can move forward.

Q:  You know that normally, it is traditional or usual that the manager gives the press conference before the match.  In this case, it is a player.  Can it be taken then that this is an example the players must step forward and take responsibility in this very complicated time for the team?

SB:  Well, among us we decided that today I will speak, and that’s it.  If Jordi came today, that also would have been normal; he’ll also give the talk after the match, and I think that the most important thing is that we are all united and each one knows how to help the rest.

Q:  Do you think that the league is practically over, given the point difference?  Beyond the mathematics and such…

SB:  No, it’s not at all finished.  It’s clear that Atletico de Madrid, like Madrid, are not going to give up and will make the league very difficult waiting for us to stumble, but we do not think about the league.  There are a lot of games left, we only think of the three points tomorrow, and after that add more every game.

Q:  For the people who do not know Jordi Roura, how is he?  How does he work?  How does he relate to all of you?  If he is energetic.. if you could explain to us how he works.

SB:  Yes, he is energetic, he is homegrown, who has all the concepts of football, has worked a lot before as he does now with Tito.  And he is very calm, knows what he has to do, knows how to be in his place and he has much confidence in all of us, and us in him.  He will be the manager during this time that we are hoping will be as short as possible for Tito’s sake, and I’m sure that he will do very well.

89036-451-405

Q:  Have you had any meeting as players to talk about the situation?  Xavi, Puyol, you, who have also had some seasons in the first team.  Have you talked about how you have to behave?

SB:  No, it’s clear that it was bad news, that it’s a setback, but like I said before, we plan to do the best we can to lessen the blow and together help a little.  Jordi will be the manager, with the help of Aureli [Altamira] and everything will go well and be normal.

Q:  Roura has taken the reins, and in this vein, I want to ask you how have the two sessions been while he was in charge?  How have you seen Jordi these ays?

SB:  Good, calm.  We’ve haven’t done a lot more that what’s usual and, well, tomorrow will be more work for him regarding the opponent, the tactical chat, the concepts, not doing anything now next to Tito, and nothing within normal, as you say.

Q:  It has to be difficult to face the match with what was happened this week, maybe one doesn’t have the will to play.

SB:  Well, we have to have the will because it can’t be otherwise, but in this, we do have the strength from the talk Tito gave us, from wanting to do this for him, and as you say, it’s negative news and we’ve had a few, and in the end it’s what encourages us most, and this gives me strength to be good tomorrow during the match.  I hope we can get the points, because as I’ve said before, I’m sure he it will be very good for his recovery.

Q:  Recently, the African Balon d’Or was given to an old teammate of yours, now in Manchester City, Toure Yaya, a player who had to move to the Premier League because of a certain Sergio Busquets; maybe it’s a little incentive for this and having a Barça from the cantera.

2009_8_17_oxzBTMbvZFcIRBfddztbJ1

SB:  I don’t think it was my fault.  He was here, he had very good seasons, and he has deservely won the award because he is a very great player.  I think that he decided that and it was the fault of no one because it wasn’t in the way the team was, but because football is that way and nothing else.

Q:  I don’t know if you know that there’s a player from Saudi Arabia who, when he scored, lifted his shirt and revealed your photo.  He dedicated the goal to you because he said you are his idol.  I don’t know if you know this and if you feel a little flattered for being the idol of someone from Saudi Arabia for the position that you have on the pitch, and if you have told him anything or if this is the first you’ve heard of it.

SB:  Yes, I’ve heard of it and it surprised me because it’s never happened to me before nor do I think I could be seen that way, but well, I’m happy.  They are things that you do not expect, and you see how far football has come, how far Barça has come, and myself too personally.  I have not had the chance to talk to him becuase he is so far away, but I’m sure that I can contact him in one way or another and express my gratitude (* I can’t find a video, but I seem to recall a post-match interview where Busi said that if he had known that he would score, he would have dedicated the goal to Abdullah Otayf as well)

Q:  Yesterday Cruyff said, remembering a little the situation he went through in 1991 when he had to stop, which has certain similarities with Tito’s, that ultimately it is the players who must take the reins for a while during a such a difficult time.  Do you see yourselves in this role of self-direction?  Obviously, with Jordi Roura in the lead.

SB:  Yes, it’s clear that above all, the captains know how to handle this and will have to put in a little more, but like I’ve said before, this thing is nothing new but is in line with we’ve been doing all year, all the seasons, and that’s it, nothing more.

***

and now, some pick-me-ups:

hmmm. puyi at 0:18 — whuut?

feliz navidad, cules!

nice to see that after what seemed like a lifetime, messi is finally getting less camera-shy

***

a few more hours until the game tonight.  vamos equipo!

***

i can’t believe i forgot to add this video, of all things! thanks, gata, for reminding me about it :)  we all could definitely use a bit of sunshine.

just in case you’ve forgotten, here’s the video they released when they launched the “we are what we eat” program

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