Skip to main content

Vilanova returns as Barca get back to work

January 3, 2013 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
Former assistant coach Tito Vilanova led Barca to 16 wins in 17 league matches prior to his surgery.
Former assistant coach Tito Vilanova led Barca to 16 wins in 17 league matches prior to his surgery.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tito Vilanova returns to Barcelona training ground after operation to remove a tumor
  • The Barca coach had a tumor removed from his parotid gland on December 20
  • Vilanova visited players ahead of the match between Catalan national team and Nigeria
  • Barca continuing their charge towards the Spanish title against Espanyol on Sunday

(CNN) -- Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova has returned to the Catalan club's training ground just two weeks after undergoing surgery to remove a tumor from his throat.

Vilanova suffered a recurrence of a tumor on his parotid gland -- located at the back of the mouth -- and was released from hospital on December 22.

The former assistant coach, who replaced Josep Guardiola in June, returned to training on Wednesday ahead of the Spanish league leaders' derby match with Espanyol on Sunday.

Vilanova also dropped in on the Catalan national team -- featuring nine Barca players -- as it prepared for a friendly match with Nigeria.

Whether striker Demba Ba will be playing for Newcastle after January has been the subject of intense speculation. The Senegal international is in talks with Chelsea after the London side triggered a £7 million ($11 million) release clause in his contract which became active again on January 1. It is "even (money) whether he'll stay or go," said Newcastle manager Alan Pardew. Whether striker Demba Ba will be playing for Newcastle after January has been the subject of intense speculation. The Senegal international is in talks with Chelsea after the London side triggered a £7 million ($11 million) release clause in his contract which became active again on January 1. It is "even (money) whether he'll stay or go," said Newcastle manager Alan Pardew.
Ba uncertainty
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
>
>>
Transfer window offers rich pickings Transfer window offers rich pickings
Lionel Messi celebrates after matching Gerd Muller's record of 85 goals in a calendar year, netting in the 16th minute of Barcelona's match against Real Betis in December 2012. Just nine minutes later the Argentina star passed the German's 1972 milestone. Lionel Messi celebrates after matching Gerd Muller's record of 85 goals in a calendar year, netting in the 16th minute of Barcelona's match against Real Betis in December 2012. Just nine minutes later the Argentina star passed the German's 1972 milestone.
Messi beats Muller
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
>
>>
Lionel Messi\'s record year Lionel Messi's record year
Lionel Messi, center, celebrates with Barcelona teammates Cesc Fabregas, left, and Xavi Hernandez after matching Pele's 75 goals in a calendar year. Lionel Messi, center, celebrates with Barcelona teammates Cesc Fabregas, left, and Xavi Hernandez after matching Pele's 75 goals in a calendar year.
Messi magic
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>>
Messi moves past Pele milestone Messi moves past Pele milestone
Daniel Craig and Cristiano Ronaldo have both been outspoken in their desire to reclaim a right to privacy. Both men have become frustrated with their treatment in public. Daniel Craig and Cristiano Ronaldo have both been outspoken in their desire to reclaim a right to privacy. Both men have become frustrated with their treatment in public.
007 and CR7
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
>
>>
The Real Ronaldo The Real Ronaldo
In the absence of suspended skipper Roy Keane, Peter Schmeichel captained Manchester United to European Champions League glory in 1999. United trailed Bayern Munich 1-0 heading into the 90th minute, but stunned the Germans by scoring twice in a matter of minutes to seal a famous 2-1 success. The win completed an historic Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup treble. In the absence of suspended skipper Roy Keane, Peter Schmeichel captained Manchester United to European Champions League glory in 1999. United trailed Bayern Munich 1-0 heading into the 90th minute, but stunned the Germans by scoring twice in a matter of minutes to seal a famous 2-1 success. The win completed an historic Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup treble.
Great Dane
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
Schmeichel\'s Champions League tips Schmeichel's Champions League tips

Blog: Barcelona's Vilanova coach of the year?

"The manager ... led the team's second training session of the year," read a statement on the club's official website.

"This morning, Vilanova stopped by the Ciutat Esportiva to meet with the Catalan players ahead of this afternoon's Catalonia vs. Nigeria match."

Barca president Sandro Rosell said last weekend he hoped Vilanova would be fit to return to work in two-to-three weeks.

Despite not being recognized by football's global governing body FIFA, a squad made up entirely of Catalan players occasionally plays exhibition matches.

The team, led by Dutch former Barca player and coach Johan Cruyff, was held to a 1-1 draw by Nigeria at the Camp Nou.

Midfielder Sergio Gonzalez, without a club since being released by Levante in 2011, gave the Catalan team the lead from the penalty spot after three minutes.

But Nigeria earned a draw when U.S.-born Portland Timbers striker Bright Dike equalized after 55 minutes.

Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi is preparing Nigeria for this month's 2013 African Cup of Nations in South Africa, where the two-time tournament winners have been drawn in a group with 2012 champions Zambia, Burkina Faso and Mali.

Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes picked up an injury in the match which will see him sit out training on Thursday.

Vilanova's team, under the temporary guidance of assistant Jordi Roura, is looking to continue a run which saw them pick up a record 16 wins from their first 17 league matches of the season.

The Espanyol tie will see Argentine star Lionel Messi take to the field for the first time this year, after a record-breaking 2012 which saw him score 91 goals.

Barca currently lead second-placed Atletico Madrid, who face Mallorca on Sunday, by nine points, with archrivals Real Madrid a further seven points back.

Cruyff described Real's start to the season as a "failure", while also questioning coach Jose Mourinho's decision to drop Spanish international goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

"At this stage of the season Real Madrid being 16 points behind Barcelona can only be called a failure," Cruyff was reported to have said by Spanish newspaper Marca.

On Mourinho favoring Antonio Adan over World Cup winner Casillas, Cruyff commented: "You don't lose your place overnight." Real host Real Sociedad on Sunday.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
The U.S. government recognizes Kosovo, as do most European states, but getting football's ruling bodies to play ball has proved harder.
June 4, 2014 -- Updated 1504 GMT (2304 HKT)
National heroes don't always belong to one country. Ask France's World Cup hero Patrick Vieira, who is rediscovering his roots.
CNN's John Sinnott on the quiet Cambridge graduate behind Liverpool's resurgent campaign.
May 30, 2014 -- Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT)
They are the dispossessed -- stateless, and unrecognized by football's ruling body. But these teams will still play at their own World Cup.
Louis van Gaal will be a perfect fit for Manchester United the club, business and brand, says CNN's Patrick Snell.
May 19, 2014 -- Updated 1924 GMT (0324 HKT)
There's a new force in Spanish football -- and Atletico Madrid's ascendance is sharply contrasted by the fall from power of Barcelona.
May 13, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Rubber bullets, drones and FBI-trained riot police. Welcome to Brazil's 2014 World Cup -- will protests overshadow football's showpiece event?
May 9, 2014 -- Updated 1318 GMT (2118 HKT)
The former England international, who famously kicked a banana off the pitch 27 years ago, says education is the key to tackling racism.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
Of course not. But former Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed seems to think the removal of Michael Jackson's statue was a very "bad" idea.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1603 GMT (0003 HKT)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 01: Neymar of Barcelona celebrates his goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou on April 1, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
The Brazilian star's first season in Spain may have spluttered along, but the 22-year-old says he'll be firing on all cylinders at the World Cup.
April 30, 2014 -- Updated 1715 GMT (0115 HKT)
Former Soviet footballer Sergei Baltacha traveled from the land of the hammer and sickle to join The Tractor Boys and in doing so broke new ground.
April 29, 2014 -- Updated 0931 GMT (1731 HKT)
Brazil's Dani Alves arrived at Barcelona from Sevilla in 2008 and he has gone on to make over 180 appearances for the club.
Villarreal football supporter who threw a banana at Barcelona's Dani Alves during league match handed a life ban by the La Liga club.
ADVERTISEMENT