Sockless Mina looks to learn from Barcelona teammates

Barcelona’s new signing Colombia’s Yerry Mina gestures during his official presentation at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. (AP)
Updated 13 January 2018
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Sockless Mina looks to learn from Barcelona teammates

MADRID: Newly signed Barcelona defender Yerry Mina took off his shoes and socks before stepping onto the field at Camp Nou Stadium during his official introduction to fans on Saturday.
For the young Colombian, it was an important first step into his new home.
“There is a verse in life that says that the soles of your feet will touch the land that you want to conquer,” Mina said. “And I want to make history here. I want to triumph.”
The 23-year-old Mina was signed from Brazilian club Palmeiras for 11.8 million euros ($14.3 million), “fulfilling a dream” and joining a defense that has been depleted by the injury of France international Samuel Umtiti.
He is set to become the first Colombian to play an official match with the Catalan club.
“I want to add my grain of sand, learn from my teammates,” the easy-going defender said. “We know the quality of my teammates, they are extremely good. Little by little I want to learn and work hard to become a good fit to the squad.”
Barcelona’s defense also has Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano and Thomas Vermaelen, who has been playing as a starter in Umtiti’s absence.
The tallest player in the squad at 1.95 meters (6-foot-4), Mina is known for his speed and impressive play with the ball at his feet. He is a threat on set-pieces and often makes runs forward.
“I’ve always enjoyed Barcelona’s style,” Mina said. “It’s gratifying that it’s a style that I like.”
Mina’s contract is valid until June 2023 and has a buyout clause of 100 million euros ($119 million).
Barcelona initially had an agreement with Palmeiras to bring Mina in the middle of this year for about 9 million euros, but agreed to pay extra and advance the deal because of the hamstring injury to Umtiti, who hasn’t played since December and is not likely to return until next month.
Mina and Palmeiras already knew of Barcelona’s interest when he was signed from Colombian club Independiente Santa Fe at the beginning of 2016.
Mina had helped Santa Fe win the Copa Sudamericana in 2015, and was key for Palmeiras when it won the Brazilian league in 2016 and was runner-up in 2017. He was named one of the league’s best defenders in 2016.
Mina scored nine goals in 49 matches with Palmeiras, celebrating with his traditional dance moves.
“I always try to express what I feel while I’m on the field,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes here. I’ll adapt to what the group wants to do.”


‘Good, but not good enough’: Juan Antonio Pizzi on Saudi Arabia’s defeat to Uruguay

Updated 20 June 2018
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‘Good, but not good enough’: Juan Antonio Pizzi on Saudi Arabia’s defeat to Uruguay

  • A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half gave Uruguay a 1-0 win
  • Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance

ROSTOV-ON-DON: Good, but not good enough.
That was what Juan Antonio Pizzi stated as he declared himself pleased with his team’s performance in the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Wednesday night.
But he lamented his side’s lack of firepower as they exited the World Cup after just two matches.
Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance in Rostov-on-Don after losing their opening game 5-0 to hosts Russia in Moscow last week.
The Argentine got his wish with a display that saw the Green Falcons fight throughout and edge possession against a Uruguay side ranked 14th in the world.
A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half after poor goalkeeping from Mohammed Al-Owais, however, was enough to hand the Green Falcons a 12th successive World Cup defeat.
The result means that even with a win against Egypt on Monday, the Green Falcons are no longer capable of progressing to the knock-out stages from Group A.
“We had a lot of ball possession and were able to impose our style of play and distribution,” said Pizzi. “We conceded a goal from a random play and didn’t have the weapons or tools to try to equalize. We kept the ball well and weren’t really troubled defensively, but lacked that ability to score.”
Indeed, for all their possession, Saudi Arabia have managed just three shots on target in 180 minutes of football. Against Russia, they failed to muster a single effort on target and the managed just three against Uruguay, two of which came in the final minutes when they knew they had to score or face elimination. None of the three shots came from a striker.
“This is our weakness. We have good ball possession, but no effectiveness. We lack the depth and skill required to win these games,” Pizzi added. “We have that deficiency and have looked for solutions, but we haven’t quite come up with one yet. But that is one of the reasons great forward are in high demand and are the elite players in world football.”
Pizzi had made four changes ahead of the match, dropping goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf in favor of Al-Owais and introducing Ali Al-Bulayhi at the heart of the defense alongside Osama Hawsawi. Further upfield, Hattan Bahberi came in for Yahya Al-Shehri and Fahad Al-Muwallad replaced Mohammed Al-Sahlawi. The changes, particularly the inclusion of Bahberi, seemed to give the side more impetus in midfield.
“The difference between the performance in the first game and this game is enormous,” Pizzi said. “The only way to compete at this level is to play at the level we did here. And even then it was not enough even to get a draw. Undoubtedly there were other factors aside from the pressure of playing in the opening game that made a difference, but it’s true that the difference was enormous.”
Many critics had predicted a deluge of goals from the likes of Suarez and Cavani, yet both were kept at bay. Save for a couple of half-chances early on, neither came close to scoring until the 23rd minute.
A corner from Carlos Sanchez sailed into the area and when Al-Owais came for it but failed to connect with his punch, Barcelona forward Suaréz was left with the simplest of tap-ins. He was so caught off-guard, he actually looked surprised as he reeled away in celebration.
“I believe you cannot be relaxed in any match,” Suarez said when asked by a Uruguayan journalist whether he had taken it easy against the Saudis.
“We wanted to win and to progress to the knock-out stage and this game simply showed how difficult it is. That’s the World Cup for you though and we are obviously delighted with how we have performed so far to progress.”
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez did not share his striker’s sentiments.
“Saudi Arabia wanted to excel and give a better account of themselves after losing to Russia,” he said.
“They did that very well and we have to respect them. But what surprised me the most is how we played. We underperformed.”