Ibrahimovic set for 1st competitive Barcelona play
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to make his competitive debut for Barcelona in a Spanish Supercup second-leg match against Athletic Bilbao after coach Pep Guardiola promised to field a full-strength lineup.sports Updated: Aug 22, 2009 17:41 IST
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to make his competitive debut for Barcelona in a Spanish Supercup second-leg match against Athletic Bilbao after coach Pep Guardiola promised to field a full-strength lineup.
"Tomorrow, we're playing a final and we won't hold anything back," Guardiola said on Saturday. "To start the year with a title would be very positive."
Barcelona holds a 2-1 aggregate edge following last week's first-leg victory at the San Mames. Guardiola has pledged attacking football for Sunday's match at the Camp Nou stadium as the Catalans go for their eighth Supercup title.
"We know we have to follow the same line as last year, like we saw at Bilbao," said forward Lionel Messi, who missed the first leg to injury but is now available. "It's going to be a very difficult match."
Barcelona beat Athletic 4-1 in the Copa del Rey final and also won the Spanish league and Champions League titles, becoming the first Spanish club _ and only the fifth European team _ to win three major trophies in one season.
Ibrahimovic, who moved from Inter Milan, made his Barcelona debut in a 1-0 preseason friendly defeat to Manchester City on Wednesday. The Sweden striker is still bothered by a left hand injury that required surgery, but will be available.
"Every day that goes by, I am happier. I'm getting to know everybody and I'm starting to adapt to the team and getting adapted," Ibrahimovic said. "I'm very happy to be here and I take it day by day."
Ibrahimovic was frustrated not to score on debut, but teammate Yaya Toure reminded Serie A's leading scorer from last season that there will be more opportunities with Barcelona competing for two other trophies apart from the Supercup _ next week's European Supercup and the Club World Cup in December.
"It's not easy, you know, because Barcelona is a big club and it takes time to adapt. But he's great player of a high level and this is going to be his year," Toure said. "The most important thing is that he adapts quickly because there isn't much time _ we have important games coming up."
Barcelona's league campaign begins on August 31 against Sporting Gijon.