Fabregas better for Barcelona return

17 April 2012 09:47

Cesc Fabregas is convinced he has become a better player since returning to childhood club Barcelona from Arsenal.

The Spain international is back in London to face the Gunners' capital rivals Chelsea in the first leg of a Champions League semi-final at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

With Xavi and Andres Iniesta already established in the side, there were predictions Fabregas would struggle for first-team football at European champions Barcelona.

But since heading back to Catalonia the 24-year-old, who began his career at Camp Nou before joining Arsenal as a teenager, has played 25 of the club's 33 La Liga games, scoring nine goals.

"I've learned a lot tactically, personally," he said here on Tuesday.

"I know my position on the pitch a lot more. Before I was free to do whatever on the pitch at Arsenal, and I wasn't tactically good.

"I was playing wherever I wanted, up and down. Here I have to work much more for the team, individually, and think about the team tactically."

Fabregas, who spent eight years at Arsenal and became the club's captain, was in England when Barcelona beat Chelsea in the 2009 Champions League semi-final, where the Blues were denied several possible penalties before Iniesta's stoppage-time away goal sent the Catalan giants through to the final.

Recalling that match, Fabregas said: "The previous night, we'd lost the semi-final with Arsenal at Manchester United so I was still a bit upset.

"But I was at home with my family that night. We were about to play PlayStation and then that goal (by Iniesta) was scored.

"It was really happy memories because my whole family are Barcelona supporters."

The only trophy Fabregas won at Arsenal was the 2005 FA Cup but he now has the chance to help Barcelona defend their Champions League crown and win the Spanish title and Spanish Cup as well.

"The move has been much better than I expected," Fabregas said. "I played much more than I expected. I came here to learn, to get better as a player and a person, and also to experience weeks like we start tomorrow.

"We have Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Champions League and then play against Real Madrid in a game which, if we win, we are back in the title race; then against Chelsea again.

"Hopefully we will win all the games and to win the Champions League in my first year at Barcelona would be a dream come true."

Fabregas has been impressed by Chelsea's return to form under interim manager Roberto Di Matteo, appointed after former coach Andre Villas-Boas was sacked.

"What happened with Villas-Boas was they played more from the back," Fabregas said. "They tried to keep possession and take initiative in the game.

"They've gone back to the type of Chelsea that was more successful a few years ago with Di Matteo: playing on the counter, trying to hit the target man, sitting back and using that number nine as a reference point."

Source: AFP