Guardiola wants Henry to ‘rebel’
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has called for a big improvement from
Thierry Henry ahead of Saturday’s Primera Division clash at
Henry was a key player last season as Barcelona won an
historic treble of Primera Division, Copa del Rey and Champions
League titles, scoring 26 goals in all competitions.
But the France striker has netted just three times this
season and has looked well below his best.
The former Arsenal star has found himself on the bench in
most of Barca’s recent matches and came in for further criticism in
Catalonia this week after allegedly saying in an interview that he
was “saving myself for the World Cup”.
But Guardiola dismissed those quotes as inaccurate.
“I listened to the question and the answer in French, and
it’s not what he said,” he said.
“No player is going to say ‘I’m going to scratch my belly’ in
order to go to a World Cup.”
“That’s the price he has to pay for having won everything.”
The Barca coach also dismissed talk of a supposed rift
between the two.
“Why does there have to be a bad relationship? If he is not
playing, perhaps it is because others are more in-form or
inspired,” he said.
Guardiola also challenged Henry to reproduce his brilliant
form from last season.
“I want him to rebel and help us, because the 26 goals form
part of the past – we need him to have that ambition that made him
one of European football’s greats in the last few years,” he said.
“I want more from him and he knows that, but in the end it
depends on him.”
Guardiola is without centre-back Gerard Pique, who is
suspended, and must decide between Gabi Milito, Rafa Marquez or
Dmitro Chygrynskiy as his replacement.
Seydou Keita and Eric Abidal also miss out, but there is a
place in the squad for youngster Jeffren Suarez.
Guardiola will come up against one of his good friends on
The former Barca captain has long been an admirer and close
friend of Almeria coach Juanma Lillo, and played under the Basque
manager in Mexico, at Dorados de Sinaloa.
That was Guardiola’s last professional club as a player and
it ended in controversial relegation.
Lillo’s record as a coach is chequered, but he and Guardiola
share the same footballing philosophy.
That means Lillo is certain to opt for a more attacking
formation than his predecessor Hugo Sanchez, who took an
ultra-defensive Almeria side to the Nou Camp earlier this season.
Lillo has lost just one match since taking over from Sanchez
late last year and Almeria are now nine points clear of the
relegation zone following impressive victories over Atletico Madrid
and Racing Santander in their last two matches.
And Lillo believes his side can compete against Barcelona.
“We’re playing well and the feeling is good – we are obliged
to compete,” he said today.
Lillo believes Andres Iniesta is the best player in a
star-studded Barcelona line-up.
“For me he is the best player in the world – the other
players express themselves better when he is in the team,” he said.
“Xavi is another who constantly improves the playing
conditions for his team-mates, while (Lionel) Messi can tear you
Corona is set to miss out again through injury, but Almeria
should otherwise be at full-strength