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Joint start for Barca trio unlikely
Barca coach rules out Ronaldinho-Etoo-Henry strike combination in tour match.
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2007 17:06 GMT
Henry will have to play his way into a team featurning Ronaldinho, Messi, Etoo, Deco and Gudjohnsen [AFP]

Barcelona's blockbusting strike-trio of Ronaldinho, Samuel Etoo and Thierry Henry, the new arrival, are unlikely to play their first match together when the Catalan club kicks off its Asian tour.

Barca continue the trend of European clubs touring Asia and play Beijing club Guo'an on Sunday.
Many fans are looking to see how Barcelona intends to accommodate the three stars.

When quizzed on whether the trio will start against Guoan, coach Frank Rijkaard said "sincerely, I don't think so" - even though all three are expected to figure at some time on the tour.
Rijkaard, Victor Valdes, goalkeeper, and Gianluca Zambrotta and Eric Abidal, defenders, attended a chaotic news conference and looked jaded after the flight from Spain.

"It's clear we have to adjust to the time change," Rijkaard said.

"Things will get better little by little. You have to work to adjust after a trip like this. It's normal that you're not on top of things the first day."

Preparation 

Not all members of the squad believe the tour is the best way to prepare for a season where the club will attempt to take the Spanish crown off Real Madrid, their fierce rivals.

Zambrotta and Lilian Thuram, defender, had said earlier in the week it would be better to stay home and train rather than play three exhibition games in Asia.

After Sunday's match, Barca plays the Yokohama Marinos in Japan followed by a match in Hong Kong against a Mission Hills Invitation XI, made up of players from two Hong Kong clubs.

Ronaldinho also suggested a pre-season trip in 2006 to North America hurt Barca's championship defence.

The club finished second to Real Madrid and failed to win any major trophies.

But Rijkaard defended such tours.

Money men

"It's something you see that goes on with all these big clubs, doing tours," Rijkaard said, clearly keeping the club's money men on side.

"For Barca there is something added, transmitting the culture of the club. It's a combination of physical preparation and doing publicity for the club and, up to now, it's been OK."

Rijkaard said the players would also have serious training sessions along with the exhibition games.

"You have to get the most out of your training time here," he said.

"We will see that the club practices."

Source:
Agencies
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