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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 1 day ago
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By ESPN Staff
Nov 23, 2007

Rijkaard challenges divided Barcelona players

MADRID, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Coach Frank Rijkaard has challenged the Barcelona squad to come out and prove they are united after a turbulent few days caused by midfielder Edmilson's criticism of team mates.

'We need to react on the pitch. It is the moment to face up and demonstrate they are committed and that we want to have a good season,' Rijkaard told a news conference on Friday.

When asked if he was going to take action against Edmilson, the Dutchman responded: 'The measure is that the team functions. You always have to think about what is best for the team.'

Brazilian Edmilson questioned the commitment of some of his colleagues in a television interview during the week, saying that the squad were like a family and every family has black sheep.

The squad met on Thursday to discuss the matter, without Rijkaard and the coaching staff, and Edmilson apologised to the group.

'I'm not saying what Edmilson said was wrong, just that it wasn't the appropriate way to do it. It is better to talk about it in the dressing room,' Rijkaard added.

'They have decided not to speak in public again on these matters. I have spoken with captain Carles Puyol to get the reaction of the group and we had another meeting this morning with everyone present. I hope that is the end of it.'

Barca play Recreativo Huelva at the Nou Camp in the Primera Liga on Saturday.