Sporting a new 4-3-3 formation, Frank Rijkaard's new-look FC Barcelona took the field against a reserve squad that was conspicuous by its inclusion of the Portuguese wizard Deco. The first team's midfield included Andres Iniesta on the left, Xavi on the right and new signing Yaya Toure, who is more of a defensive midfielder, in the middle, the spot formerly occupied by Deco. Up top, Rijkaard deployed the fearsome trio of Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto'o. Leo Messi, on vacation since the Copa America, was unavailable.
In a press conference later, the
29-year-old Deco conceded that he'd lost his starting place: "The team is not finalized yet. The coach is trying to create his team and I have to continue working hard." Despite his exclusion, Deco
said he had no intention of leaving Barcelona, unless he is no longer wanted. "I like it here, but if they do not want me to stay then that is their choice. I have a contract until 2010 and nobody
has said anything to me, therefore I think that they count on me," he said.
Barca added four new players in the off-season -- Henry, Toure, Argentina's Gabriel Milito and Frenchman Eric
Abidal -- but has yet to dispense with any of its first-team attackers. Ludovic Giuly, a substitute last season, has moved on to Roma, while Deco has been linked with Newcastle United and Serie A
champion Inter Milan.