Barcelona hopeful Puyol will make final farewell

Andy West 12:19 03/05/2014
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Goodbye Carles: Puyol (l) has been struggling to overcome a long-term knee injury.

Barcelona are hopeful that club legend Carles Puyol will be able to bid a final farewell to the Nou Camp despite missing today’s meeting with Getafe due to an ongoing knee injury.

The veteran defender, who has won 21 trophies over the course of his 15-year career with Barca, has announced his decision to quit the club at the end of the season following a long-standing series of physical problems.

Puyol has not played for more than two months and his absence today has sparked concerns he may have already appeared in Barca colours for the last time.

But manager Tata Martino hasn’t given up hope of fielding his skipper in the season finale against Atletico Madrid in a fortnight, saying: “We’ve spoken to him and we’re all keen for him to play in the final game of the season.

“We want him to have the chance to say goodbye to the fans. Let’s see if he can get the all-clear so that he can – it’s what we all want.”

Despite both Barca and Bayern Munich – now led by former Nou Camp boss Pep Guardiola – both failing to progress to the Champions League final, Martino rejected suggestions that the ‘tiki-taka’ short-passing game spearheaded by Guardiola is now outdated.

“It’s as though that, to acclaim the new trends in football, you have to wipe out the previous style but I don’t agree with that idea,” he said. “Those of us who practice football gain satisfaction from doing our job with conviction – sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. You don’t have to discredit a style which has made history – a style of football which the Spanish national team still employs.”

And Martino was equally keen to support his predecessor Guardiola, who has been heavily criticised following Bayern’s 4-0 loss against Real Madrid earlier this week.

“Criticising Guardiola is akin to wanting Spain to lose because Spain’s philosophy is based on short-passing football,” he lamented. “His achievements were some of the greatest seen in the history of football and ones which the game should feel proud of. Now he has suffered a defeat to Real Madrid but to praise Madrid it seems that, for some people, it’s necessary to knock Guardiola.”

And the Argentine boss admitted that he has found his first season in European football a great personal challenge, saying: “I’ve learned a lot of things which will serve me later in my career. I hope I can absorb as much as I can.”

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