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LONDON — Ivan Rakitic says the thought of Andres Iniesta leaving Barcelona scares him as the Catalan club’s captain returns to the scene of his most famous goal on Tuesday.
Iniesta’s stoppage-time strike at Stamford Bridge saw Barca advance to the 2009 Champions League final at the expense of Chelsea and earned him a place in the club’s folklore.
However, nine years on, there are concerns that this could be his last season at the club, despite only signing a lifetime contract last year.
Diario Sport reported that he has a huge offer to leave for China in the summer, when he will be 34.
Iniesta has always maintained that he won’t outstay his welcome and that he would walk away if he felt he was no longer contributing to the team, but he remains an important part of Ernesto Valverde’s side.
“Am I scared of Iniesta going? Very,” Rakitic said in a news conference on the eve of Barca’s Champions League round of 16 first-leg clash with Chelsea.
“I don’t want him to leave because of everything he means for this club. We had a bottle of wine the other day and I saw that  goal he scored. It’s not just about what he does on the pitch, though, but also in the dressing room and off the pitch.
“He is a very important person for me, a great friend. I hope he’s here with us for many years. But as a friend, I want him to be happy and whatever he decides in the future, I will always be by his side.”
Rakitic and Iniesta are set to start against Chelsea as part of a four-man midfield, alongside Sergio Busquets and, save any surprises, one of Paulinho and Andre Gomes.
The switch to four across the middle was born from the sale of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer and Rakitic says it would be tough to change back to a midfield three now.
“Its quite different if you’re playing with three strikers or, like now, with two,” the Croatia international explained. “It’s different if you have a Neymar in your team. We are now without him so we can play more in midfield, it’s a little easier to close the direct line to our goal.
“Now it’s normal for us [to have four]. So maybe to play with three strikers again would be hard.”
Barca face a Chelsea side who a couple of weeks ago, following back-to-back three goal defeats against Bournemouth and Watford, were said to be in crisis.
However, Antonio Conte’s side have steadied the ship with wins against West Bromwich Albion and Hull City.
“Any moment is a bad moment to play Chelsea,” Barca coach Valverde said when asked if it could be an awkward time to play the Premier League side now they have recovered some form.
“They have the same qualities all the time. The start of this calendar year was not great, maybe, but they have improved again. They have good players in attack, [Eden] Hazard, [Alvaro] Morata, now [Olivier] Giroud and Pedro.
“It’s difficult to face them at any moment [and] Conte is one of best coaches in the world. He has an extraordinary CV, not just here at Chelsea, winning the Premier League, but for what he did with Juventus, with Italy.
“You notice his mark on each team he coaches. They work hard, they’re tactically disciplined and for me it’s a challenge to take on a team coached by him.”
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.
This tiny gizmo weighs just 45g but could change your riding forever
ShockWiz is a suspension tuning system for mountain bike suspension that combines telemetry hardware with a powerful smartphone app.
And, as of now, SRAM have announced a 20% price drop on ShockWizs so you’ll now find it on sale for around £300.
They have also updated the smartphone app to include a ‘custom tuning mode’; “In addition to Balanced and Playful tuning modes ShockWiz now offers custom tuning for an even better match to different riding styles. Suggestions for air pressure, spring rate, compression and rebound can help you dial in a more aggressive or efficient ride.”
Perfect suspension setup is tricky, a dark art that sometimes requires tinkering, twiddling and frowning. So what if we told you there was now a tuning device called Shockwiz that could do it all for you? Bye-bye soft, floppy fork, hello supple yet supportive ride.
That’s the idea anyway. Zip-tie the little box of sensors to your bike, go ride, and the data will be passed to your smartphone, telling you if you need more air, less rebound, more damping, more tokens, and so on. Clever, huh?
Developed by SRAM and Dusty Dynamics, and originally launched on Kickstarter, Shockwiz was bought by SRAM last year and is now on general sale.
It’s not cheap though,
£359 around £300 for the AM QUARQ version, which is the one you’ll want unless you have an upside down RockShox RS1 fork.
Is ShockWiz worth the money?
ShockWiz could be really useful for fettling your suspension setup… SRAM certainly thinks so or it wouldn’t have bought it. We think it’ll also be a great asset when you ride somewhere different, and need to work out why the new terrain is proving tricky. The app on your phone will then remember your settings for any subsequent visits.
How it works
ShockWiz measures the air pressure in your fork, or shock, 100 times a second, and uses that data to work out what’s going on as you ride. It’s looking at how much travel you’re using and how quickly you’re using it. The gizmo then sends the data to your phone via low power Bluetooth, and comes up with recommendations about how to improve your bike’s performance. You can use it on most air-sprung shocks and forks, ShockWiz says – not just SRAM products.
How to use it
Zip-tie the unit to your bike, then screw the hose onto the air valve. Calibrate it by releasing all the air, cycling the unit through its travel, then re-inflating to your usual pressure. Then ride: if you’re looking to improve on a Strava segment, or you’re a racer, it’s probably best to session a single trail to get optimum performance. But if you’re a regular trail rider, you can record data from your entire Sunday ride and come up with a setting that works for the whole thing.
What you’ll learn
Troy Hoskins from SRAM says ShockWizz will widen “the window of happiness” to your suspension. Really this means it’ll tell you things like if you need to wind on more rebound, add more air or pop in a volume spacer.