Fabregas remains unfazed by criticism

BY foxsports • September 21, 2012

Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas has rubbished talk he is unsettled and expressed his contentment with the club's impressive start to the season ahead of Saturday's Primera Division clash with Granada.

The Catalan giants have won all four of their games in La Liga so far this term under new coach Tito Vilanova to establish an early eight-point advantage over arch rivals Real Madrid, and also triumphed 3-2 against Spartak Moscow in their Champions League group opener in midweek.

Fabregas, who returned to his boyhood club in August 2011 after eight years with Arsenal, admitted he has been going through a tough time recently but remains confident he will rediscover his top form.

"It is not the first nor the second time I have encountered a complicated spell," said the 25-year-old Spain international, who has not scored for Barca since February.

"I play with a smile on my face and I still believe in my ability. For me it is more important that the team wins than what people say about me.

"I'd be worried if I had chances to score. Scoring is crucial in football, but I have other important tasks on the field."

Fabregas and his team could hardly have imagined they would have such a buffer over Jose Mourinho's side at this stage of the campaign, but he was not getting carried away ahead of the season's first Clasico on October 7.

"It's a reasonable distance," he added in Marca. "We should try to maintain it as much as possible. It's difficult just because La Liga is a very high level. We play Real Madrid in a few weeks and it will be a tough game, but we are confident in our style."

Barca host Granada on Saturday night knowing they can extend their advantage over the champions to 11 points with Madrid not in action until they visit Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.

Vilanova has indicated Marc Bartra or Andreu Fontas will be handed a first-team opportunity after Gerard Pique suffered a foot injury against Spartak - Barca finished Wednesday's game with a makeshift central-defensive pair of Javier Mascherano and Alex Song - which will keep him out for up to three weeks.

Pique joins captain Carles Puyol on the sidelines, but wing-back Jordi Alba should return after a bout of flu. In contrast to Barca, Granada have started the season with two draws and two defeats, and will be without six first-team players when they make the daunting trip to the Nou Camp.

Dani Benitez continues serving his six-month suspension, while Roberto, Manuel Lucena, Fran Rico, Hassan Yebda and Odion Ighalo are all ruled out through injury.

However, Diego Mainz is available again after serving his one-match ban as Juan Antonio Anquela's men go in search of an unlikely first win of the season.

Anquela said at his pre-match press conference: "[We hope Barca] have their bad day tomorrow. These big teams always have a game like that."