Good win for Barca at the weekend but problems between Eto’o and Rijkaard (see article below) and they now have a 3 point cushion with Sevilla only drawing. The two Basque teams lost (Sociedad after being 1-0 against Madrid) and Sociedad in particular are in big trouble.
Angry Etoo up in arms as uncivil war begins
Samuel Etoo made the transformation from substitute to whistle-blower last night with an astonishing attack on Frank Rijkaard, the Barcelona coach, and the accusation that the European champions are a divided team. With only a week to go before the next round of Champions League matches, the internecine warfare will be music to the ears of Liverpool supporters.
The Cameroon striker was incensed after Rijkaard and Ronaldinho made comments about him after Sundays 2-0 win over Racing Santander at the Nou Camp. Rijkaard claimed that Etoo had refused to take the field with seven minutes left, prompting Ronaldinho to suggest that his co-star should think more about the team than himself.
However, as Etoo launched his counter-assault, the waters were further muddied when Joan Laporta, the Barcelona president, said the player had merely been concerned about a knee injury and that when he speaks to Frank it will all be cleared up. That is unlikely to be the case given the very personal nature of Etoos public remarks. As well as questioning Rijkaards integrity, the suggestion that the team is divided into two factions will cause concern among the Bara hierarchy.
Mr Rijkaard is the one who said what he said, Etoo said. He is the one who has to speak to you. Its a bad person who gives a press conference to say that Etoo has refused to play. If anybody has balls they should tell it to me face to face.
Warming to his hatchet job, Etoo then rounded on the squad. At Barcelona there are two sides, two groups, he said. One is the one of the president and the other related to another person. The others are those that are worried. That other person is Sandro Rosell, the former vice-president, who as the head of Nikes South American division helped to lure Ronaldinho to Catalonia.
When he was my boss, Etoo said, reportedly of Rosell, he never said hello and now he comes from behind to attack me. That really is a bad person. Ronaldinho, too, did not escape the fury of a striker scorned. If a teammate says that you must think of the team, its up to him to think of the team, he said. Personally I always think first about the group and then money.
Etoo has scored 68 goals for Barcelona since arriving from Mallorca in 2004 and has been voted Africas top player for the past three years. He was also third in the Fifa world player award of 2005.
He has not been a stranger to controversy, however, and was fined 12,000 (about 8,000) in May, 2005 for insulting Real Madrid, his former club, during Barcelonas title celebrations. His strength of character was also evident when he threatened to walk off the field during Barcelonas game away to Real Zaragoza after being racially taunted by home supporters. It was no surprise that Laporta was happy to back Etoo, given the indelible links between Rosell and his galcticos. His knee needs time to warm up and he didnt have enough time, Laporta said. He preferred to be careful. He didnt do anything inappropriate or wrong.
With Barcelona still leading La Liga, Laporta might argue that talk of civil war is overstating the case, but Etoo was happy to pursue the military analogy. This is not my war, but this is a war, he said. Im in the middle of a war between two people and Im the one who is taking all the punishment. But I will return to play.
Etoo is on the comeback trail from a knee injury picked up in Barcelonas Champions League match away to Werder Bremen in September. The chances of him making his European comeback against Liverpool a week today would now seem to be very slim.
All Spanish eyes will be on Barcelonas training session this morning when Samuel Etoo faces his team-mates for the first time after yesterdays outburst. Frank Rijkaard, the manager, will meet Txiki Begiristain, the sporting director, to discuss disciplinary action. The drama was played out in the Spanish papers with Real Madrid-supporting titles Marca and AS revelling in the situation. The Barcelona-supporting Sport had some serious back-tracking to do after a headline yesterday read: There is no problem with Etoo.