FC Barcelona will return to La Liga action after a 53-day break, that is the period between the Catalans’ last game in La Liga against Osasuna in Pamplona and the upcoming derby against Espanyol at Camp Nou on December 31st.
Although the majority of the squad has continued to train, the Barcelona coaching staff have intensified the pace past week in order to prepare for the team’s return to competition in just seven days.
Barcelona sent 17 representatives to the World Cup in Qatar, and the five who took a vacation returned with a personalized training schedule in hand. While the majority of the overseas players came back last week, Xavi and his personnel started to set higher performance requirements.
This week the group trained for two hours per day with the exception of the Frenchmen Jules Koundé and Ousmane Dembélé, who will be returning on Monday. In order to avoid any detail being left to improvise and put a positive spin on the play both offensively and defensively, the coaches have combined physical and ball work with strategies.
The team has also utilized the opportunity to work on areas without Robert Lewandowski, who up until this point has essentially played every match, taking into account the punishment he received after his gesture to the referee- garnering a three-match suspension.
The coaches will repeat this training schedule the following week with the entire squad to complete the fine-tuning of the team without having to demand the same amount of effort as a preseason, where players return after a month of vacation. The footballers already have a strong physical foundation, especially those who continued playing throughout the World Cup, so it wasn’t necessary to increase the intensity beyond what was required.
Barcelona did not play a practice game until yesterday, in comparison to the other La Liga teams, who have all played some friendly matches during this period of the World cup break.
As the squad is nearly available for training, they played a game involving all of their players as well as Arnau Tenas and Chadi Riad, two B team reinforcements, and young players Arnau Casas, Angel Alarcón, Dani Rodriguez, and Lamine Yamal.
The club and Xavi have complete faith in the latter, a 15-year-old winger, and they intend to extend his contract before the season’s end. The players’ physical development and the way they are making preparations for a demanding schedule ahead have the coaches extremely delighted.