Barcelona star Sergio Busquets says Spain are fully focused on new era

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Sergio Busquets is excited by Spain's new era

Sergio Busquets says Spain are fully focused on a new era under Luis Enrique following three successive disappointments at major tournaments.

Experienced midfielder Busquets won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 with his country but was also part of the squads which failed to progress past the last-16 stage at the past two World Cups and Euro 2016.

New coach Enqriue, who replaced the sacked Julen Lopetegui in July, began his tenure with Saturday’s 2-1 victory over England in the Nations League.

Ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Croatia in the same competition, Barcelona player Busquets insists his country must look to the future.

“It’s hard to repeat a World Cup and nothing is impossible,” said Busquets at his pre-match press conference.

“We don’t hold on to the past, we recall it with joy, it’s history but after three disappointments we want to turn a new leaf and qualify well in this competition and earn a pass to the Euro (2020).

“What happened, happened and should not distract us.”

Former Spain coach Lopetegui was dismissed a day before the World Cup in Russia after accepting the vacant Real Madrid job.

Caretaker Fernando Hierro then oversaw the tournament, which ended with a shock penalty shoot-out defeat to the unfancied hosts in the second round.

Busquets believes the team is retaining a similar style of play under Enrique, who previously coached him at Barca.

“I know Luis from his time at FC Barcelona. It’s too soon to reach conclusions, but the system is more or less the same,” he added.

“In general, it’s all similar and the important thing is to deliver a good level.

“In the last tournaments we were not up to par, but we want to continue what we started at Wembley.”

Croatia travel to Elche for their first competitive match since reaching the World Cup final.

Zlatko Dalic’s side, beaten 4-2 by France in Moscow in July, warmed up for the game with a 1-1 friendly draw against European champions Portugal on Thursday.

Vice-captain Ivan Rakitic is expected to win his 100th cap during the match.

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Ousmane Dembele finally looks at home at Barcelona

Andy West 11/09/2018
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La Liga clubs are opposed to playing a league game in the US.

Barcelona bounced back from conceding a shock early goal to punish Huesca for their temerity with a thumping 8-2 victory, sending the reigning champions into the international break on a high.

Plenty of talking points emerged from the game – here are three of the biggest.

MSD takes flight

More than a year after Neymar’s departure to Paris St Germain, Barcelona have got themselves a new trident to be feared with Ousmane Dembele finally starting to look at home alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

The trio were devastating against Huesca, all registering at least one goal and one assist to lead the goal charge in a performance which shows Ernesto Valverde’s team have a different dimension to their attacking play compared to the relatively conservative approach employed last season.

Messi, naturally, was at the centre of things with two goals including a vital quick equaliser to prevent Huesca from settling into their early lead, and the captain’s generosity again came to the fore as he turned down the chance to complete his hat-trick by handing a late penalty to Suarez.

But it’s the growing role of Dembele – aided and abetted from deep by Philippe Coutinho – which perhaps offers the greatest sign of encouragement for Barca as they prepare for their biggest challenge of the season: regaining the Champions League.

Alba makes his point

Jordi Alba was at the centre of attention after being left out of the Spain squad by new manager Luis Enrique, and the all-action left-back took out his frustrations by delivering a highly effective performance to help his team fight back for three points.

Alba played a key role in Barca’s second goal, running onto an astute pass from Dembele and reaching the byline before cutting back a cross which visiting defender Jorge Pulido could only divert into his own net. And he repeated the trick a few minutes later, racing onto a pass from Coutinho and placing a precise cross into the path of Suarez for goal number three.

Regularly combining with Coutinho and always looking to run onto diagonal passes from Messi down the left, Alba remained a constant threat to the visiting defence and gave plenty of evidence to those who believe he was omitted by Enrique due to a personality clash rather than his ability.

FC Barcelona v SD Huesca - La Liga

Bold Huesca pay the price

Not many teams come to the Camp Nou and take the lead in the third minute, but that’s partly because not many teams even attempt to attack in the third minute. Nearly every visitor instead adopts a cautious approach, anxiously avoiding leaving themselves exposed at the back and focusing exclusively on defence during the early stages.

Huesca were certainly not ready to adopt that negative mindset, however. They headed into the game with the confidence to express themselves, playing plenty of passing football and regularly throwing four or five players into attack as they attempted to build upon a bright start to their first ever top flight season.

Those plans delivered remarkable instant success as they stunned the vast stadium by racing into a third-minute lead as right-back Jorge Miramon delivered an excellent deep cross, Samuele Longo headed down and Juan Hernandez stabbed home.

Huesca weren’t deterred even after falling 3-1 behind, again racing forward to pull one back and keep the game alive, but ultimately their brave approach – which many coaches would label as reckless – became their undoing as they left plenty of space for Barca to enjoy themselves going forward, perhaps ultimately proving the point of those who believe it’s foolish to visit the Camp Nou and attempt to out-score the hosts.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-HUESCA

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Live Barcelona blog: Barcelona and Real Madrid players to do battle at FIFPro awards

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Hola Barcelona fans. The Sport360 team are here to bring you the latest news from the Camp Nou on Monday.

As ever, get in touch with us throughout the day on Twitter and Facebook.

19:42 – Barcelona and Real Madrid players to do battle at FIFPro awards

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Barcelona are kings in Spain, Real Madrid in Europe, and the two clubs are doing battle again in the FIFPro awards.

The World Footballers’ Association along with FIFA have announced their shortlist of the best players for the 2017/18 season.

For the full story, read on here.

16:53 – Barcelona offered France defender Benjamin Pavard

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Barcelona have given a lukewarm reaction after they were offered the services of Stuttgart and France defender Benjamin Pavard for approximately €35 million, according to reports.

Read the story here.

14:00 – Barca eye a new Brazilian

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Barcelona hope to make Flamengo attacking midfielder Lucas Paqueta their latest Brazilian recruit, according to reports.

Read the story here.

11:45 – Barca looking to seal Saudi trip

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Barcelona are in talks about a lucrative December friendly in Riyadh against Al Hilal and the Saudi Arabia giants have demanded the presence of Lionel Messi, according to reports.

Read the story here.

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