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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 17 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
Aug 23, 2009

Ibrahimovic given time to adapt to life in Spain

Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic can have as much time as he likes to adapt to his new surroundings, coach Pep Guardiola said after including him in the squad for the Spanish Super Cup second leg.

The European champions are favourites to lift their first trophy of the new campaign on Sunday, when they receive Athletic Bilbao at the Nou Camp holding a 2-1 advantage in Spain's traditional curtain-raiser to the new season.

Swedish striker Ibrahimovic, who was signed from Inter Milan in a deal worth around 66 million euros last month, made his debut for Barca as a substitute in their 1-0 friendly defeat to Manchester City on Wednesday.

He had been out of action since his move, recovering from surgery on a hand injury.

"He can have all the time he needs (to adapt) as long as he continues to show the same commitment that he is showing day in, and day out," Guardiola told a news conference.

"He can play badly as many times as he wants. The tougher it is for him the more he will have me by his side to help him. I am not worried. The important thing is for him to get minutes and to adapt well."

Guardiola is expected to field a strong side, with Andres Iniesta and Rafael Marquez his only absentees through injury, despite having the European Super Cup final against Shakhtar Donetsk coming up in Monaco next Friday.

"We are playing a final tomorrow, I won't be resting anyone," he added. "It's a positive thing to be able to start the season with a title."

Bilbao, who lost 4-1 to Barca in the King's Cup final last season, are in the middle of a Europa League playoff against Tromso which they lead 3-2 from Thursday's first leg in Norway.

Their coach Joaquin Caparros has rested a number of first-team regulars including Aitor Ocio, Fran Yeste and Fernando Amorebieta, with one eye on next week's return leg.

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