Soccer News: Alves nervous ahead of the “most important challenge” of his career with Barcelona

    Dani Alves is ready to begin “the most important challenge” of his career when he makes his second Barcelona debut in Tuesday’s exhibition match with Boca Juniors.

    The 38-year-old returned to the club on a free transfer last month following his departure from Sao Paulo in September over a contract dispute.

    Alves, who played 391 times for Barca in his first trophy-rich spell at Camp Nou, cannot be officially registered for the Catalan giants until the transfer window opens in January.

    However, the Brazilian international is lined up to represent the blaugrana on Tuesday when they face Argentine giants Boca Juniors in the Maradona Cup in Riyadh.

    Speaking at a pre-match press conference on the eve of the friendly, Alves said: “I feel nervous after not being able to play and represent the club for so long.

    “The most important challenge of my career has come, for how the situation has turned out and for the position in which the club is.

    “But the challenges are for those who don’t fear them. We will all do our best for this club and for this Scudetto ”.

    Alves won 23 trophies in eight seasons with Barça before leaving in 2016 for stints with Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and São Paulo, where he spent two years.

    The club the veteran full-back returned to five years later is a long way from competing for great honors.

    Barça dropped out of the Champions League in the group stage last week and are eighth in LaLiga after 16 games, but Alves is hoping to help the Catalans get back on top.

    “We are used to seeing Barcelona at the top, but we know there is a problem,” he said. “We cannot hide, but seek a solution as soon as possible.

    “When I first arrived, a transformation was needed. The situation is different but it is done and we will write a new chapter to bring Barça where they are used to.

    “We have to recover the winning feeling because we live to win. We have to change the series. In football there are positive and negative streaks, even if they last a little longer. “

    Barca have named a 28-man squad for the match against Boca, with Alves joined by the likes of Gerard Pique, Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho and other first-team stars.

    The timing of the match, with league matches against Elche and Sevilla coming over the next eight days, has raised questions.

    But while Xavi accepts that distance covered isn’t ideal, he believes it’s important to respect Maradona, who died of a heart attack at the age of 60 last November.

    “These are club circumstances and it is something that has been previously agreed upon,” he told reporters in Saudi Arabia. “It is an honor for us to be here representing Barcelona.

    “We are paying tribute to one of the best players in history. It is an honor and a privilege and it will be an exciting occasion “.

    Mentioning the changes in the team that started the 2-2 with Osasuna on Sunday, Xavi added: “It will be a test for players who don’t usually play and an opportunity to see players who haven’t played that much. We want to be at the top “.

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