Europe news

'FIFA virus' forces Vilanova rethink

September 14, 2012
By Dermot Corrigan, Spain Correspondent

Barcelona's plans for Saturday evening's tricky La Liga game at Getafe have been again disrupted by injuries sustained by players away on international duty, according to head coach Tito Vilanova.

Tito Vilanova
PA PhotosBarcelona coach Tito Vilanova: Frustrated by international break

Andres Iniesta (thigh-strain), Alexis Sanchez (also thigh strain) and Jordi Alba (flu) have all been ruled out with injuries picked up playing for their countries in the last few days.

"The three losses have made me rethink the game," Vilanova admitted. "Not just the starting XI, but also the substitutes. But we cannot do anything about that, when we sign players we know that they will go and play with their national teams. The best way to end the FIFA virus is to win in Getafe".

That would not be an easy task considering Getafe's Alfonso Perez Munoz stadium was a difficult place go to with Barca beaten there 1-0 last season and Madrid defeated 2-1 just last month, Vilanova said.

"We are playing a very difficult opponent, who beat us last year and who recently beat Real Madrid," he said. "These are never easy games. Getafe at home sat back a lot and let us have the wings. The same at the Camp Nou. We did not play comfortably against them because they did their job well."

Barca's talisman Lionel Messi had returned ready to play from his international exertions with Argentina - a 3-1 win at home to Paraguay and 1-1 draw in Peru, said Vilanova.

"I have spoken with Messi this morning and he told me that he has recovered well and is feeling fine," the coach said. "Tomorrow we will speak again. We will decide if he plays depending on how he feels then."

Vilanova said it was his job to get the best out of Cesc Fabregas, who this week dismissed rumours he was unhappy with a bit-part role at the Camp Nou, but looks likely to take Iniesta's place in midfield.

"Cesc is a player of a very high level who would be a starter in any team," Tito said. "He looks in good form to me, I do not agree with those who say he has not been playing well. At the end, if I am not able to get the best out of a player as good as him, I will have to take the blame."

Two other players who could benefit from the absences are midfielder Thiago Alcantara and forward David Villa, Vilanova suggested.

"For these two weeks Thiago has trained very well at a very good tempo," he said. "He is called up for the game and has a good chance of playing. (Villa) is ready to play more than 45 minutes now. Each day he gets better, and he has already scored in games (since coming back from injury)".

Also travelling to Madrid for the game is teenage attacker Gerard Deulofeu, who scored for Spain Under-21s against Croatia on Monday.

"His role for the first team will depend on a number of things," Vilanova said. "First of all, his development for Barca B, which is very important. That happened before with Isaac Cuenca and Cristian Tello."