Abidal grateful to Barca fans

Eric Abidal thanked the Barcelona fans for the ovation he received when making his long-awaited comeback.

Last Updated: 07/04/13 at 13:26 Post Comment

Abidal: Made his first appearance in over a year on Saturday

Abidal: Made his first appearance in over a year on Saturday

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Eric Abidal thanked the Barcelona fans for the ovation he received on Saturday night on making his long-awaited comeback following liver surgery.

The 33-year-old defender was a 70th-minute replacement for Gerard Pique in Barca's 5-0 rout of Real Mallorca, making his first appearance in over a year after undergoing a liver transplant last April, having previously had surgery to remove a tumour in March 2011.

The France international told L'Equipe it had been a special moment.

"It was a long (lay-off)," he said. "I really struggled. I received a lot of support through this year and this was the most important thing. From my wife, my parents, my friends, but also the fans of Barcelona too.

"Without them, I would not have returned to football. It was a unique moment. I really enjoyed these 22 minutes, as I was told I played 22 minutes.

"My goal was to return. Now it is done and I try to look a little beyond this...

"After a year of effort and hard work, the ovation is the best thing I could have had."

Abidal added that he remains a long way short of full fitness and unable at present to play 90 minutes, with an hour in a friendly against Istres the most he has managed to date.

"I hope to be part of the group until the end of the season," he added. "Whether on the bench or in the stands, it is not too important. The most important thing is to feel good and enjoy all these moments with my team-mates."

Assistant coach Jordi Roura had dedicated last night's win to Abidal and to coach Tito Vilanova, who returned to the dugout earlier this week following two months in New York undergoing cancer treatment.

"It was a special day," Roura said. "We were able to witness Éric Abidal's return and, after many days, Tito Vilanova once again sat on the bench at the Camp Nou.

"It was a special moment for the whole team. We know that Éric is very much loved by everyone. Personally, I'm very happy and pleased."

There was plenty to celebrate in the performance too, highlighted by Cesc Fabregas who scored a hat-trick and created two more for Alexis Sanchez.

"Cesc adapted his play perfectly to the position of a false 9," Roura added. "He played an extraordinary game. He's an additional option that we have. But I'd also like to highlight (Alex) Song's game. In fact, everyone played well.".

Barca now have just a few days to prepare for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final with Paris St Germain following a 2-2 draw in the first leg.

However, Roura was giving little away regarding Barca's plans.

"This Saturday we opted for this pair of centre backs (Pique and Marc Bartra)," he said. "We'll see which players we use in those positions on Wednesday against PSG. We have to talk it over with Tito. We won't obsess about what their [PSG] characteristics are.

"A three-man defence and a 'robo' (diamond) in the middle of the pitch is also an option. We have a lot of options."


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