Thiago’s Debut: Italy v Spain LiveBlog

Like the title says, Thiago’s debut for Spain will be today, but in the second half it seems. Kickoff is at 2:45pm EST.

Also worth noting is that France v Chile starts at 3:00pm EST

Line-up ESP (vs ITA): Casillas – Iraola Pique Albiol Arbeloa – X.Alonso Iniesta J.Martinez Cazorla Silva – F.Torres

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234 Responses to “Thiago’s Debut: Italy v Spain LiveBlog”

  1. Josep says:

    And if he doesn’t get subbed in?

  2. K_legit says:


  3. htMillBay says:

    OT: Continuing the Fabregas conversation from previous post.

    Everyone knows the only way to try to beat Barcelona is to park the bus and rely on counters through pace. I’m sure Pep has been spending the majority of his time thinking of ways to unlock it.

    His solutions – get Alexis and Cesc. Alexis like Leo is a type of player that can dribble around one defender almost all the time. The way to unlock the parked bus is to make the opponent lose its shape and open up space. When almost all the ball play is in the opposing side of the pitch, and the opponent is holding its lines very close, its difficult to make them open up through passes so you need players that will draw 2 or more players to their area: Leo and Alexis. Now, you have 4 defenders potentially attending to 2 attackers – Barcelona has the numbers edge and space is opened up for someone like Villa or Pedro or Iniesta. It will take take for Alexis to bed in but I’m looking forward with interest to see the effect of him and Messi on the field at the same time. (Thiago may also become the new Roni.)

    As for Cesc, he’s certainly insurance for Xavi. I’m also curious to see if Pep plays Xavi and Cesc together at some point. In fact, I think when Pep was playing Keita in America, he was actually using Keita as a stand-in for the future role of Cesc. Busi playing CB was in pre-season was actually a trial run to having him play closer to the backline as FCB might play 4 mid-fielders in the future.

    Barcelona’s tactics will change and evolve this season as they have through every year of Pep. I think Pep continues to think one step ahead of the other coaches while they spend their time analyzing videos of past games.

    EE will continue to struggle vs. us as long as CR, Higuain/Benzema, Kaka/Ozil don’t/can’t play defense. Sure, mad cow (Mou) will defend with 7 men but with Alexis and Leo we have the equivalent of 12 out field players.

  4. Roz says:

    Official medical report: Pique got subbed out of precaution after a muscle problem in his left thigh.(barastuff)

  5. Kari says:

    People are all wrong. The guy who had the Fabregas shirt during one of our preseason games in the US knew it all before us.

  6. Triplo Volanti (formerly Cesc Pistol) says:

    Chile goal:

    @Youngcules 3 Barca players Bartra, Tello and ‘Romeu’ starting the game for Spain U20. Planas, S. Roberto and Kiko on the bench.

  7. Whatever says:

    Official medical report: Busquets has an indirect traumatism at his right side (got hit in his ribs)

    Fucking friendlies. And Pique too. Damn.

  8. Nav says:

    GAHHHHHH fuck these friendlies.

  9. Jnice says:

    blitzen, it ain’t over til it’s official. 😀

  10. BarcaGirl_Indo says:

    if the worst scenario happen,
    that we can’t play Xavi, Pique, and Busi for El Clasico,

    what is Pep gonna do?
    Fontas – Abidal as CB duet and Masch as DM maybe?

    no Keita as DM, por favor. horror.

    OR the better plan, Masch – Abidal duet in CB with Cesc as DM? 😛

    and yeah, **** international friendlies!

    • FalseNine says:

      “Fontas – Abidal as CB duet and Masch as DM maybe?”

      Ya this, with Adriano and Alves on either side. And name Bartra to the squad just in case.

      This is exactly the kind of pile-up of injuries that made me want a CB.

      Maybe Cesc can play CB 😉

      • BarcaGirl_Indo says:

        And name Bartra to the squad just in case.

        or Sergi Gomez? is he available?

        Maybe Cesc can play CB 😉

        ah, yes. Cesc – Pique as CB duet in the future. oooooohhh, joy! moc moc? 😛

  11. BarcaGirl_Indo says:

    Euler post from the previous thread :
    I’d guess somehow Arsenal supporters are going to “blame” Barca for this price with outrage rather than hold their own club accountable for agreeing to sell.

    indeed, some reactions from Arsenal fans are unbelievable. not all, but some.
    saying UEFA should’ve done something about Barça’s immoral behaviour. what?
    like we just kidnapped and hide Cesc in Camp Nou basement or something.

    I understand if the price make them sick, (I would too, I was a gooner, thank God I’m not)
    but they must remember that there’s only one buyer here and the price comes through complex negotiation.
    Arsenal is willing to SIT and NEGOTIATE with us. Rosell did not put a gun to Gazidis’ head, did he?

    Barcelona try to get him for cheap is a crime?
    Rosell knows that FCB has the upper hand in this case, because Cesc is so desperate to join us. only us.
    plus, he is an injury prone player, Rosell use it to lower the price.
    from economic/financial point of view, Rosell did the right thing for Barcelona. a fantastic deal in terms of price, tbh.

  12. culegirl3 says:

    Anybody watching the USA vs Mexico game?

    Good first half…very interesting! Klinsmann looks really excited lol.

  13. Kari says:

    Why England will win Euro 2008

    “England will have so much talent up front it will be embarrassing, and other teams may concede games before kick-off to avoid the humiliation on the pitch.”

    Comic gold.

  14. Diego says:

    A shout out to blitzen.

    I’ve asked and noone else seemed to have seen the Arg-Egy match, I totally agree with you but I thought my Egyptianism my have affected my opinion so I needed confirmation.

    That guy Luque is the new Di Maria.

    What did you think of A.Hegazy ? The Egyptian CB, tall guy with the long Hair.

    • blitzen says:

      I can’t honestly give an opinion on Hegazy as I had trouble keeping the EGY players straight (just not familiar enough with them). My overall impression of the EGY team is that they may not be as technically skilled as some, but they were quite cohesive as a team and worked their tails off. The second penalty awarded to ARG was deserved and was a direct result of the frustration the team was feeling, so maybe they let their emotions get the better of them a bit. A draw and a penalty shootout would have been a reasonable result IMO.

  15. Diego says:

    Btw, I head a dream that Alexis scored against Villareal from a Messi assist in el Madrigal.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo says:

      amin to that.

      I havent had any Barça dream for this season.

      usually when I have a nightmare dream about Barça, it turned out to be great in reality. 😀

  16. culegirl3 says:

    It’s his first day Miguel! Give him a break :-) I think it was a good start..should give Klinsmann a good idea as to what kind of a team he should put together. I dont expect him to work miracles but I hope he brings it to a new level. He’s got a blank canvas…let’s see what he comes up with.

  17. Euler says:

    Klinsman’s biggest impact on the U.S. isn’t going to be directly with the senior side.

    It will be dependent on his ability and success in restructuring the youth development system. That’s what he did so brilliantly in Germany. He completely redefined how their national program was structured down to the youth levels.

    Only one game – but it was nice to see him even given different, younger players a chance and to be rewarded for doing so through that equaliser.

    It’s going to be a very slow process. And Klinsman is going to need the right coaches around him to handle the game plan for the technical sides first team play.

    • Jose says:

      I love Klinsmann’s attitude, at the very least. The way he celebrated the goal with his coaching staff said so much about his player-management style. And at the end, when asked what his experience coaching the USMNT in his first match, he simply answered, “I had fun!”

      My kind of guy.

      • Euler says:

        I agree. Great interview. I think the U.S. program actually needs this attitude (especially after the dourness of bradley). It’s part of how he’s going to get buy in to engineer the massive changes that are needed.

        I remember once i saw or read an interview with Klinsman and he said something to the effect that the most important part of the game was first touch and that’s really what the U.S. needed to develop if it wanted to get better.

        I couldn’t imagine many other U.S. coach candidates saying something like that.

        It’s those kinds of things where he’s going to make his biggest impact. The players (especially this current crop) probably won’t really develop better first touch. But if that principle gets engraved into the U.S. program – that’s what is going to be required to make them better.

        It’s that kind of insight and ability to communicate it where he can leave his greatest mark IMO.

        • ElJefe says:

          That is so accurate. The US often has better athletes and better pace than many opponents, along with great goaltending, but the first touch possession has just not been world class.

          Also one of the main reasons I’ve watched every single Barca match since 2004 yet can’t stomach a single MLS game. If we can just Joga Bonita I’ll be a happy man.

  18. barca96 says:

    I happen to believe that Aaron Ramsey is every bit as a good a player as Cesc with Jack Wilshere not far behind so £35m is good business for us and the money can be spent on Dann and Jagielka/Cahill

    I wake up, turned on my lappy and fell off the chair.

  19. Reaper says:

    I’m so glad we are finally closing in on the player Pep wants. The friendly injuries gotta sucks though!

  20. outerspacedout says:

    Okay, I didn’t guess the final 18 players on the 50 correctly, I forgot about Neuer. I was rather sure about 17 and couldn’t think of a final one so picked van der Sar, well let’s see if my 17 more certain bets do make it.

  21. Goo says:

    Apparently, the players’ union has announced a strike for the first two jornadas of La Liga. Might be good to rest some of our guys who still need a few more weeks to recuperate from their injuries (how long does it take to recover from “indirect traumatism?”). If the strike happens, when will the games be played?

  22. Triplo Volanti (formerly Cesc Pistol) says:

    Seems the start of the league will be delayed due to player strike. Might be a blessing in disguise after the hectic Cop+tour+friendly aftermath. Getting good rest and gelling well before the start will only help us. Not to mention time for injuries to heal.

    I’m just sad I have to go 2 more weeks without Liga.

  23. outerspacedout says:

    Good if the strike goes ahead so we don’t have to play Madrid Malaga Madrid Porto Villareal all in a row. Unless these games are backed up for later on in the season when the congestion is a problem too… eh

  24. Nav says:

    Sucks for me if the strike goes ahead as I had tickets :(

  25. Colby says:

    The strike could end up being helpful in the short term, even if we have to deal with the repercussions later on in the season. With Guardiola saying a couple weeks ago that “we used to have preseason, now we go on tour,” I can see the extra couple of weeks as important time to form a cohesive group. I think it could have a big impact on the incorporation of Sanchez and Cesc into the squad, and certainly will help with Thiago and Fontas. That said, the strike could only end up amounting to a handful of extra practices, given how busy we already are.

    Also, any predictions on when we’ll get to see Sanchez in blaugrauna? Is an appeance in one of the legs of the Super Cup too much too hope for? Imagine bringing on Sanchez and Cesc as substitutes against Madrid at the Camp Nou, to give them a little taste…

  26. Colby says:

    Also, can someone with a bit more of accounting knowledge give a summary of our transfer expenditures this season?

    In terms of “cash” (if such a thing exists) out, we haven’t actually spent anything because Sanchez won’t start getting paid for until January.

    In terms of cash in, we have recieved money for Caceres (3 million I think, or so says wikipedia), 8 million for Ibra, 5 for Romeu, and 4 for Jeffren, meaning a total of 20 million in.

    But that doesn’t actually give an accurate picture of what happened this summer. For example, did we book the 24 million for Ibra on last years accounts (same with Caceres)? And does Sanchez get booked for 26 million now, with the 11 m. in variables going on the year when they are met?

    • Calvin says:

      I couldn’t really give you a summary of the transfer expenditures, as numbers aren’t my strong suit.

      However, the reason we have been doing all these strange deals is to spread out our transfer payments which will help the club meet financial fair play regulations. This is my understanding at least.

  27. y2k156 says:

    I wonder what is it with Spain and friendlies. Seems like that they are getting defeated in most of them. I don’t think that the players care too much. They turn up for all the important matches. Better to be like Spain than Argentina (who seem to be winning most of important friendlies but lose matches that count).

    Sorry to see that the first two match days are in jeopardy. But i support the players. The general way in which clubs in Spain behave is really bad, Hercules being prime example from last season. I think it is time for LFP to start being professional. They are still living in jungle.

  28. Kxevin says:

    For you folks who watched the match, I’ve read a few reports that said Spain was a mess without Xavi, until the second half, when Thiago entered and brought the magic back. True?

    • Blau-Grenade says:

      Not quite to the level of Xavi, but he did add more to the midfield command and control. The game was not so fluid as it normally is with Barca players that play in the national team – Xavi Iniesta with Busi behind them, with the Pique and Puyol backline.

    • Ryan says:

      The 2nd half was definitely better, and I think Thiago was the one doing the quiet job of recycling the ball and keeping things moving. Interesting that Del Bosque had Busi as the next CB – whatever happened to Marchen?

    • Euler says:

      Spain was not impressive. They did not control the midfield and they didn’t press well at all.

      Their pressing was particularly poor.

      And in turn the inability to control the ball or pressure it repeatedly exposed that high back line – a high backline which yesterday had even less pace than it usually does.

      Outside of Xavi they also really missed having Busquets in midfield.

      Finally, by pretending that midfielders can be wingers Spain wound up playing extremely narrowly. Silva, Carzola, Iniesta, etc. all like to play in the similar spaces and they clustered together. The spain full backs yesterday were very limited in getting up field and providing width (Arbeloa just can’t provide anything in attack). So with all of the “wingers” clustering into the middle and full backs not getting up the field they became very narrow and easy to defend.

      Germany on the other hand – they just looked amazing. The development of Mats Humels as a world class center back has made that an extremely complete squad. CB play and experience were their major weaknesses in the WC last year.

      Humels anchors the back now. And they are gaining experience. Tony Kroos was fantastic yesterday – and that was a match where it looked like he was finally starting to fulfill the potential of his talent. Andre Schurrle was fantastic as well when he came on. And Goetze was very good.

      That is a remarkable generation of players they have there. And that was without Oezil and Khedira.

      They are going to be very tough in the Euros and they will be extremely difficult to beat in 2014.

      Brazil on the other had – just awful. It’s just so sad to watch what they’ve become. They have such little quality of play in midfield.

      Germany’s first goal was great. Neymar is dispossessed of the ball and stays seated on the ground not bothering to defend at all or fight for the ball as Germany counters. He literally is just bundled over and sits there and gets up at his own leisurely pace.

      Time and time again Germany were able to flood numbers forward while the Brazilian attackers just didn’t bother to help defend. Germany just overwhelmed Lucio, Silva (who wound up having a poor game) and the DMs. Andre Santos is awful – lets see Menezes bench his favorite player for that awful display like he did with Dani after one match in the Copa.

      If anyone gets a chance – take a look at the build up to Germany’s third goal. Schweinsteiger fighting tooth and nail to regain the ball from Andre Santos high up the pitch and then making a great pass to Schurrle for the goal. The match was already done but there was Schweinsteiger determined to regain possession high up the pitch.

      That was a big part of the difference between those two teams yesterday.

      • outerspacedout says:

        Yeah Germany are just incredible right now. Neuer can be a miracle worker at times, Hummels is amazing, you guys know how much I like Schweinsteiger, Ozil is a brilliant player, Muller is so good, Goetze looks brilliant the few times I’ve seen him.

        I’d love them if it wasn’t for the fact that somehow in my mind I equate Madrid and the current Germany almost as much as I do Barca and the current Spain, even though they’re nowhere near as similar in style or personnel. And even though my brain knows otherwise I just feel a subconscious dislike for that reason. Maybe it’s combination of all these factors like the white shirts, lightning-fast forward play, 4-2-3-1, Khedira and Oezil. Dunno, but my logical brain just can’t get past the instinctive dislike and like them, for some reason.

      • mei says:

        I think the most important thing about Spain is that they dont need time to blend as a team. They can just go ahead and barely show up after their enormous success and thats what they do.
        Germany,on the other hand, needs to experiment and get their team together during international games.
        Spain does this throughout the whole year since most of their team is picked from two teams.

        Spain has won every major competition in football lately ,in youth tournaments too, and thats what you call a great generation ; not a team that has just started showing glimpses of what may do, in friendlies.

      • barca96 says:

        I was so pissed at the fella who scored after Schweinsteiger did 99% of the work. I’m a playmaker and I assist a lot and it kinda bugs me sometimes when I did all the work and the scorer takes all the credit.

        Now my 12yo brother is a striker. I always tell him to thank the guy who assist you cause he made it happen.

        Like last night, Schweini was hustling and threw his body on the ground so that he could make that pass. The guy scores and celebrates like he’s king of the world.

        *I mean of course the goals that were tap ins or even easy ones. Not just a normal pass and then the striker/goal scorer still had a lot of work to do.

  29. Josep says:

    If you don’t follow SwissRamble on twitter he’s having a very interesting feud with Carlo from and another writer.

    Basically he semi-accused the writer that in his “well researched” piece he took some numbers from Ramble without credit. And said most writers who do that would atleast link his piece.

    Carlo defends him saying it was unprofessional to bring it about in a public place yada yadda.

    Oliveirish then says that if carlo thinks is more respected than swissramble thats a joke (I lol’d hard)

    it’s really just interesting and the blogging community seems to be taking sides. I read the inter piece in question yesterday, it bored me.

    • mei says:

      Well he did not semi accused josep. He told him from the get go – and he was right – that his piece was a rip off from a year old article of his.
      Swissramble is a class guy providing simple explanations for finances in the sport sector and he deserves better.
      As we do here when reporting news that we read elsewhere, so should do for articles that actually get paid to write.
      Note that he didnt ask for a payment, but [quoting him]”linking back to the original article is just common courtesy”.

  30. blitzen says:

    Wait, what? Is Busquets injured? He didn’t play in the friendly? Someone please confirm.

    And now we have an injured Pique, a somewhat injured Xavi. Preseason friendlies suck.

    • Ryan says:

      Pique left the game as a precaution, then Busi stepped into his spot in defense. Some of the commentators were saying that Busi looked injured as well, but from what I remember he wasn’t subbed out. And on top of that Torres left with a concussion! That dried up and tall grass seems to work wonders against Spanish players. :/

  31. Kari says:

    Bartra’s idol is Puyol. 8)

    2:18 here:

    Bartra basically said Puyol is a reference for him, and that Puyol will be his idol forever.

    Also: not sure how I feel about this. Sid Lowe on Fabregas transfer.

  32. blitzen says:

    My thoughts on the matches I saw yesterday (cuz you know you want them):

    U20 Spain/S. Korea
    –Am I the only one who thinks Rodrigo is terrible??? I have no idea why Barca is interested in him for the B team.
    –This coach should be shot. He refuses to play Sergi Roberto in important games, subs off Canales and Dani Pacheco, who were both good, and waited way too long to take of Rodri when it was obvious he wasn’t doing anything good.
    –I have been thinking that Bartra wasn’t quite ready to be promoted to the first team, but after seeing his new haircut performance at this WC, I would be happy to see him promoted right now. He is faster than Fontas and has an immense calmness about him on the ball.
    –overall I thought it was an awful game. S. Korea were timewasting from the start and seemed determined to take it to penalties. Spain squandered several golden opportunities to score and seemed to be allergic to shooting. If Spain seriously wants to win this tournament, they need to get their act together.

    –Captain Abidal!!!!! 😀
    –Chile looked weak, but Sanchez had a great game. He never stops running and looking for the ball. Excellent assist from him.
    –I hardly recognized the French team, with so many new faces. They looked energetic and hungry, like a team determined to wash away the bad taste from the WC.
    –Hate to say it, but Benzema looked terrific. Lean, fast, confident. Not at all the player we saw last season.

    • jordi™ says:

      Rodri is indeed terrible, or maybe erratic is better.We aren’t interested in that one though its the Rodri from Sevilla, this one is the former RM youth, now Benfica player that was on loan at Bolton last season.

      I agree about Bartra and I think the responsibility of being captain has helped him.He made Puyol like defensive actions that you would usually associate with Sergi Gomez.

      With Lopetegui as coach they probably won’t beat Brazil.A goal is needed and there are players like Kiko,Sergi Roberto and Ezequiel on the bench and he brings on Recio and leaves Koke (how predictable he missed his penalty) for the full 120 minutes :roll:

  33. The__K__Man says:

    So this strike pretty much screws my plans of attending the Villarreal game..This really sucks :(

    • Dani_el says:

      I really hope this doesnt repeat in 12 months time. If Cesc comes, MD is reporting that the number 4 shirt will be for him (as promised by Pep years ago) and the number 11 will go for Thiago.

  34. Whatever says:

    Sanchez against France last night:

    He is really good. We have bought an amazing player and made a great investment in the future.

  35. Jose says:

    Arsène Wenger has conceded defeat in his fight to keep Cesc Fábregas and Samir Nasri at Arsenal and he has told the club’s chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, to finalise their transfers to Barcelona and Manchester City as quickly as possible so that he can begin to pick up the pieces from two destabilising sagas.

    Must only believe it when Cesc is in front of the crest…
    Must only believe it when Cesc is in front of the crest…

  36. Kari says:

    So… At 4amEST (9am UK time) Wenger is holding a press conference — which is the football equivalent (because I can’t find another example) of LeBron James’ “Decision.” Looking like he’s going to announce to the world that Fabregas has been sold.

    But the kid in me hopes he trolls world football so hard and says:

    I love Fabregas and I told him to stay. So he’s staying. That is all.

    • FalseNine says:

      And then Cesc screams “NOOOOOO!!!”, lurches drunkenly onstage, and drags Arsene down in a flurry of punches….

      In all seriousness, tomorrow may be Crest Day at last. With other players it might take a few days to make it to Barcelona, but I’m sure Cesc will set a land speed record for getting out of England.

      • Kari says:

        Yeah. I’m glad it’s ending.

        Already brainstorming some positives: Xavi’s tendons are saved, saga is over, we’re going to rotate the squad much more than we did last season, saga is over, for the sentimental people the Class of ’87 (Messi, Pique, Fabregas) is reunited, saga is over, some cool tactical innovations from Pep are sure to come, saga is over, we will now have 9 players called up for international friendlies (wait, what?)…

        Did I mention the saga is over? Just checking.

        • FalseNine says:

          I’m actually really excited to see how Pep integrates Cesc, Thiago and Alexis into the squad. I’ll only be disappointed if one of them gets benched. I’m imagining Alexis and Thiago will start the Copa games at least, a few CL group stage games, and rotate into the Liga games in the second half. Cesc I am expecting will start Liga games with one of the usual starters rotated out on a frequent basis.

          How many teams have five midfielders on active international duty? Plus two forwards, a defender and a keeper… and that’s just Spain.

    • FalseNine says:

      On the one hand, I’m feeling terrible for England at the moment after all they’ve been through.

      On the other hand, I admit I kinda laughed.

      On the third hand, how many looters leave €40 million behind when they make off with their booty?

  37. Euler says:

    Barca has had a head scratching summer in many ways. The endless negotiations about variables with Sanchez and the odd hard ball tactics over small amounts of money for players like Jose Angel.

    As the summer moved along I got a sense that this haggling was being driven by cash flow concerns related to Fabregas.

    And I think that’s what the issue has been. From the guardian story Jose linked to above:

    The parties are finally set to announce agreement at €40m (£35m), with Arsenal having pushed successfully for the full sum up front.

    Barca is basically paying “under market rate” so to speak for Fabregas but to get a compromise on this price Barca was going to have to front the cash all up front.

    We’ll see what happens if the deal is announced tomorrow – but whether there are in fact variables and how the payments will be structured will be interesting to see.

  38. Euler says:

    Also – the Independent is reporting that Arsenal have purchased Jadson from Shakhtar. And they’ve written their story on this saying that Jadson is going to be “replacing Fabregas.”

    That’s clearly a leak from Arsenal. Probably to prepare the fanbase for Cesc leaving and to show them that Wenger has secured a replacement and isn’t sitting on the money.

    12M pounds for Jadson. I think that’s a good purchase for Arsenal. He’s an effective player and will do well there.

    I still can’t believe they didn’t finalize and secure Juan Mata when they had the chance.

    Also Carles Esconal from Radio Marca is reporting that Cesc has signed with Barca for 5 years.

    Via twitter:

    Escolanmarca Carles Escolan
    A los q haceis bromitas… Si! Esta hecho! Si mañana lo dicen! Si, CESC ES JUGADOR DEL BARÇA X 5 TEMPORADAS

    Folks – until he’s standing under the crest it isn’t done – but it does appear that this is likely over.

    • Kari says:

      Yeah, my motto with Barca is don’t believe until you see them in blaugrana, doing that thumbs-up they always do.

      One thing I found bizzare was that Wenger interview today. It seemed to be preparing the fanbase for sales, to reduce the ‘shock’ — but fans have already been following via the media/blogs etc. It also didn’t help that he was quite vague; he didn’t really confirm any departures. It seemed to me that Arsenal, particularly Wenger, were avoiding being called out by their fans when the transfer takes place tomorrow; “The last thing you said was that Nasri and Fabregas were going to stay! You lied!” Odd.

      Another thing is that we’re not signing a CB. We’re going into the season with Puyol, Pique, Abidal, Fontas, sMasch, Busi, Bartra in that order. Puyol hasn’t really recovered, but we’re ‘replacing’ with Bartra, who is set to be the ‘new Fontas’ with respect to being on the verge of promotion and regularly going with the team (Sergi Roberto will be the ‘new Thiago’). And this was hinted at before the U-20 WC started by Zubiza. People who watched him against South Korea yesterday will relatively okay with that, but the fact is that, IMO at least, Bartra has been very good for a while now. Been impressed with him ever since he started for us against Atletico at RB.

      We had Euro 2008, Confederations Cup, WC 2010 for three successive summers; this summer is the first break Iniesta, Villa, Puyol, and Xavi have had in three years, Pique and Busi in two. We were really lucky with injures in a sense, although Puyol was gone the second half of last season, Iniesta the seasons before that, and Xavi had that tendinitis issue.

      Right now, getting rest for Messi, who is coming off a ridiculous 60 or so games with club and country not including his charity matches, will be so, so crucial and that’s where Sanchez is so valuable. Pep tested Iniesta and Afellay in that false 9 role and they struggled — while the position is one where Alexis excelled with Udinese.

      I’ll comment on Fabregas if/when the signing is for sure announced.

      But as it is, Pep definitely has plans for them or he wouldn’t have pushed for them so hard. I can’t help but be excited. We’re better than last year IMO – and that’s worth stating twice, because with all the doom-and-gloom re; CB (not saying it isn’t justified), that’s forgotten. We’re better than last year (IMO).

      • outerspacedout says:

        Agree with you on… pretty much everything, as has become usual since I first came here. Been hugely impressed with Bartra ever since he played right-back for us against Atletico in 09/10, think we will be better this season than last, think the rest after three summers of international competitions will make a difference, think having reliable backups that can play without dropping the level of the team a couple notches will allow us to be much fresher and that when we’re fresh we’re still that insane team from the manita-manita-manita-oh-only-4-0-bummer spell of last season and the CL final thus optimisitic. And that if Pep really wants to get Cesc and co I trust that Pep knows best.

      • blitzen says:

        You can’t count charity matches as tiring for Messi, those are just runs in the park for him and good for him psychologically. That’s how Messi rests.

        Also, I thought Thiago did pretty well in the False Messi position in the last friendly, and I suspect Pep has plans to play him their more frequently. Imagine a midfield of Cesc – Busi – Iniesta with Thiago as a False Messi and Sanchez/Villa (or Pedro) up front. Me likey.

  39. Kari says:

    Paradigma Guardiola – a great blog whose writer knows his stuff – has a nice couple of videos up. (Blog is in Spanish, though. But if you’re fluent in Google Translator, you can get around… I think.)

    The first is the WC final where Busi, Iniesta, Xavi and Fabregas all played at the same time — and it was one of their best matches together. Video is definitely worth watching. Fantastic stuff.

    The next three are videos of his past season with Arsenal (complete with techno music and English commentary. Also, 50 seconds into the first video and he already has an injury. 😆 ). One thing that always surprises me every time I see it how much time and space players have on the ball in the EPL. WTF. I wish we had that much space… :/ 😀

    (But seriously, I counted a minimum of 6 times, where Fabregas had the time and space to look up and provide a pass..)

  40. The__K__Man says:

    @3gerardpique Hoy será un gran día!! Today is gonna be a great day!!

    I’m guessing it’s a done deal!

  41. outerspacedout says:

    Oh my God. Eight hours of fasting and I can handle it, not that thirsty or anything. Twenty minutes outside for Friday prayer in a mosque by the “river” in very humid 37 degree high sun weather and I feel like I will die. And I can’t even drink anything for another five hours. Time to retreat to my room, close all curtains to keep it dark and cool, shower and just semi-hibernate without talking or doing much activity.

    But what I meant to say. I love that much of our team loves the club, cause and the city or Catalonia so much. Not mercenaries or even average players who aren’t mercenaries and may genuinely be loyal but not whole-heartedly love it. Pique posting pictures of Barcelona saying he is so proud of the city, Puyol randomly tweeting BAAARCEELOONAAAAAA, Xavi believing in the system and club which is so apparent in interviews, how most of them grew up supporting the club as fans just like us from when they were little. Even Messi, or Abidal refusing a pay bump cos he felt he wasn’t performing to the level. You can’t buy that. Same for Madrid with Raul or Milan with the likes of Maldini and their older players, or even United with the likes of Gary Neville. So we’re very lucky that not one or two individuals but a huge part and the core of our team are also fans.

    • Ryan says:

      Well, the city indeed is pretty dang awesome. 😀

    • blitzen says:

      Just curious, if you “accidentally” ingest some water while you shower does that count as breaking your fast?

      In all honesty, I am amazed that people can go all day without drinking water, especially in a hot climate like that. Lots of people at my work are fasting, and I have nothing but admiration for them. Even if some of them do get a bit cranky. 😛

  42. PhepheSa says:

    Never thought I’d see the day where I look foward to listening to Wenger speak. Please God make it stop!

  43. The__K__Man says:


    Wenger (coach Arsenal): “No news about Cesc. I hope no one leaves. I’m not disappointed by Nasri or Fabregas, they’ve been professional.”


    • PhepheSa says:

      Somebody needs to Stop this PLEASE! I literally can’t take it anymore.

    • Jim says:

      Weird press conference. Press pretending to be interested in minor injuries first to appear as if they weren’t obsessed by the two departures and even Wenger had a smirk on his face as he knew the questions would come. When they did he basically stonewalled. Got the feeling he was drawing a distinction between Cesc and Samir, though. They just can’t keep Nasri for a year losing out on £20m and let him go for free, can they?

      They’ve also had the new Cesc bid for a day or so and you would have thought they’d have made a decision by now if only to allow everyone to concentrate on their first game. This way everyone is assuming Wenger is lying as he knows Cesc is on his way. It won’t look good if they announce it later today. Unless they are looking to finalise a transfer in first.

  44. K_legit says:

    LOL the entire media fraternity just got trolled by Wenger..That sort of trolling deserves mad props 😀

  45. Eklavya says:

    Heh, Wenger’s conference quotes just came on twitter. Hilarious reactions from everyone.


  46. Miguel says:

    Samir Nasri. Manchester City. £22m. Or maybe £25m. But you probably stopped reading after Samir anyway. In case you hadn’t heard, Cesc Fábregas is going to Barcelona. Arsenal will get over his departure by signing Brazil’s Jadson for £12m from Shakhtar, a deal which prompts the sort of reaction Larry David might give at a dinner party when asked by the host to comment on the food: Nah. Having signed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arsène Wenger will also continue his bid to leave Arsenal with the poshest-sounding team in history by landing Byron Lawrence from Ipswich Town. Next on the list is a plan to bring Charles ‘Charlie’ Charles back to life. Because it’s Friday, there’s time for a quick quiz: is Byron Lawrence a) a grizzly, no-nonsense 33-year-old centre-back or b) a highly-rated 15-year-old midfield gadfly? It’s a good job Arsène Knows. Imagine if he didn’t Know.

  47. jaymin says:

    Kari called it on Wenger trolling the entire world here. Sheer madness and delusion perhaps, but man! too unconventional a saga for a stock ending : ) of course that could all have changed by the time i awaken in three hours. when this is over I doubt there’ll ever be a transfer imbroglio to match it…

  48. mei says:

    Pique tweets are so funny today.

  49. mei says:

    And now puyol joins the show :

    Tw Puyol: “Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, hope it’s not like other times a car driving in the wrong direction (Glass half full)” [barcastuff]

    Hoy será un gran día!! Today is gonna be a great day!!

    “Aiaiaiaiaiaiaiaiaiai!!!! I’m a bit nervous!! Ooooooohh! Moc moc!” #fcblive

  50. mei says:

    Sport confirms the signing. Lets wait and see.

  51. barca96 says:

    The transfer of Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas (24) to Barcelona has been completed. He’ll fly Barcelona today. [sport]

  52. mei says:

    Its done.
    Welcome and you may prove all of us who were opposed to your signing very wrong.

  53. Barcaleya says:

    Whew. Saga finally over.

    Hope he’s good for us.

    We can now concentrate on winning more trophies!

  54. outerspacedout says:

    No it’s not YET Sport isn’t an official source I do think it will happen today but won’t take it as official until FCB or Arsenal announce it or one of the players tweet about it.

  55. Calvin says:

    There have been so many false dawns in this transfer saga that I don’t even know what to think right now. Sport and MD are both reporting that it is over, but that isn’t the first time it has happened. Pique and Puyol are both tweeting about the transfer, but that has happened before. Wenger has his head stuck in the sand and refuses to acknowledge the transfer saga at all… that has happened before.

    My brother (a gooner) and I are both hoping it’s over. It’s been a long, draining process, and if it isn’t over we both might go crazy next summer.

  56. Goo says:

    Puyol and Pique are already welcoming Cesc back. Just glad it’s FINALLY over. I wonder what we’ll be talking about next summer though.

  57. y2k156 says:

    Well, Pique and Puyi have confirmed it. Cesc is already flying to Barca, they say. Hush. Finally it is over.

    This is one signing about whom i do pretty much no doubts. Only question is his fitness but our fitness guys are the best in business. So after long time, Pique – Cesc – Messi will line up for Barca. Am happy about it. Welcome Cesc! We have high hopes from you.

  58. mei says:

    twitter folks : Right now > Xavi Hernandez is standing at the Barcelona airport with a bouquet of flowers.

  59. Vj says:


  60. Huckleberry says:

    And what if Cesc was the reason for the long lasting unsuccessfulness of Arsenal? …

    • outerspacedout says:

      Yeah maybe the truth all along was that Wenger’s faith wasn’t misplaced and that Arsenal players are actually world-class but their defenders and Almunia and Bendtner suck cos they’re too distracted by his handsomeness to play

  61. barca96 says:

    The trip of Arsenal midfielder Cesc to Barcelona could be postponed until Sunday. He’ll sign a five-year deal. [sport]

    Sport has taken us for a ride.
    But then, Puyol and Pique has been getting orgasm so there must be some truth in it.

    • PhepheSa says:

      I will never forget this Saga ever. For starters it brought me to this blog and i’m greatful(thanks Cesc). Seriously don’t know what i’m gonna do now during silly season.

  62. Goo says:

    And if it all pushes though, it will be really funny given that just a few hours ago, one Arsene Wenger said, “I don’t expect nobody to leave the club.” Must really suck to be him.

  63. barca96 says:

    Cesc was on his way to the airport, but the plan to already fly to Barcelona this afternoon was changed last minute. [ona fm]

    Our fellow BFB’ers from India, please, please hand over a summary of this transfer saga to one of the directors in Bollywood. I really think it will be a greater success than Goal.

    There are really many ways to make this movie exciting.
    Arsene chasing Cesc to plead him to stay.
    And at the airport after making a scene, Cesc decided to spend one more night in Londo while Xavi was alraedy waiting at the airport with bouquets of flowers and Pique and Puyol already planning a prank on Cesc at the airport.

    Man….it could be one hell of a movie!

    • Triplo Volanti (formerly Cesc Pistol) says:

      Scene at airport: Xavi sees Cesc, starts running towards him-in slow motion. Cesc sees Xavi running towards him, drops his bags and starts running towards Xavi in slow motion. Cue 2 minutes of them running towards each other with cheesy hindi song in the background. They come close, stop, Xavi looks Cesc in the eye, Cesc eyes sparkle of a tear, for a moment time stops. Then they hug each other and look deeply into each other. It seems they are about to kiss when suddenly they turn their face and hold each other in a tight embrace. Volume picks up and camera zooms out.

      The End.

      • Goo says:

        Maybe Crackovia can do this scene?

      • outerspacedout says:

        Ian over here will enjoy that *smirk*

        And when Cesc finally comes over to the club and sees Pep he’ll try to run over and touch his feet, but Pep will stop him and say ‘no, son’ and hug. That’d be there.

      • Lev says:


        and then as the credits roll out the whole Barcelona team including Pep, Tito and Rosell turn up at the airport and everybody starts dancing to Spanish guitars + Hindu beat!

        • blitzen says:

          Yes, we must have an enormous dancing finale, with Shakira’s hips making a guest appearance!

          Later an independent French filmmaker can remake it as a tragedy, in B&W with no dialogue and lots of slow-motion closeups of a single tear rolling down Arsene Wenger’s face.

          • outerspacedout says:

            Hahaha I love this. I know they’re supposed to be all artistic and stuff but I’ve always found some of the arthouse indie European stuff so pretentious. Not all, I really enjoy some, but others just seem like it isn’t as much about telling a story through what happens to be an unconventional way as much as about how unconventional and brilliant and unique and artistic the makers are.

    • Rao says:

      Wow,I’m soooooo relaxed now…..not because of Cesc coming(well,a bit)but the saga has officially ended!!!!!!!!!.Yippee!!!

      Yes,I totally agree on a Bollywood movie.We can also add the incident where the mayor of Cesc’s hometown said he was kidnapped.Gosh,It would really be good.Bet on it winning some Filmfares or even Oscar 😉

      But who will play Cesc,Xavi and rest of the characters?.

    • Vj says:

      Its already running longer than the soaps here, with no loss of drama..

      BTW who’d you cast as Xavi/Cesc/Pique/Puyi?

  64. Josep says:

    He’ll fail his medical

  65. Barka says:

    At last. Also I hope he rests until his injury is finally over.

  66. Eklavya says:


  67. Roz says:

    Apparently Arsenal are upset that Barca leaked the news early. Thats why it is not offical yet. That is really lame from Arsenal I mean come on let it die already.

  68. Colby says:

    Someone should tell Marcotti that Fabregas is listed on our wikipedia page under “current squad.” At last we have official news the deal is done!

  69. say2 says:

    cules from india is the supercup being telecasted on any channel?

  70. K_legit says:

    As long as Fabregas doesn’t trend worldwide on twitter, I ain’t believing it :p

  71. Olufestus says:

    Pep told cesc to travel on sunday to prevent him from distracting pique*grins*

    • barca96 says:

      I can imagine Pique winking at Cesc. Man, I can’t imagine the amount of fun they’re gonna have.

      Last season Pique had Shakira distractions and now Cesc.
      Another reason for us to quickly blame Pique :)

      I actually think Shakira is going to be jealous at Cesc

  72. Eklavya says:

    Still not official *plugs ears* lalalalalalala

  73. Diego says:

    I’ll say this again. Rosell has been great in dealing with our transfers.

    I now feel more secured about Our squad for next season.Pep would use different tactics by flooding the midfield sometimes to cover for our lack in the back

  74. barca96 says:

    Andre Arshavin said this on his website

    What brought you more joy: a goal against Barcelona or four against Liverpool?
    AA: Goals against Liverpool.


  75. Kxevin says:

    Everyone can disbelieve all they like, but it’s happening, for better or worse. Verbal OK was given this morning, paperwork to follow later. The Tweets from Puyol and Pique were premature, but there is no more official word than that of the players, who are kept apprised of such things by the manager, and in this case, almost certainly Fabregas himself.

  76. Olufestus says:

    Was this guy paid for going against journalism’s ethic,disgusting write-up…sure,even bassam wont be proud of this

    • outerspacedout says:

      I don’t find this article hating on us irritating, but the ooh-I’m-so-Bri’ish-and-ever-so-edgy look at me I diss everyone cos I’m so cool pretentiousness is so juvenile. Like using words like sanctimoniously melodramatic feckless oafish toff flapping face indignant buffoons. By golly!

      Despite the blah blah blah though I have to give him a bit of credit for putting a huge chunk of blame on Fabregas.

    • Obii says:

      Olufestus, you need to calm yourself. Why are you always so bitter?

    • mei says:

      A lot of crap is being said me thinks. Who cares that pique announced it since its a done deal.
      Especially for a deal that is being talked for so long anyway.
      Journalists getting crazy with it.

      • Roz says:

        Sort of agree, but come on can’t Pique contain his excitement for just another day. Anyways its a done deal. Doesent matter if its announced today or tommorow.

        • mei says:

          Contain what? and why?
          So I read that this supposed journalist called Balauge said “arsenal fans are understandably infuriated by puyol and pique tweets” and even “arsenal board could delay the deal for a bit” …

          WHAT A LOAD OF CRAP!

          this guy is simply talking trash.
          So the fans and the board are not disappointed with the player , him wanting away for less money and forcing a transfer , but with pique announcing the confirmation of the deal?
          This is beyond crazy.

          • PhepheSa says:

            He also announced the deal was done. I know he’s not affiliated with Barca but still, he’s also responsible for this mess. I think Cesc told his friends and that’s how they know. Anyway what the hell are Arsenal pissed about it’s not like announcing it today or after their match tomorrow’s gonna make any difference. I don’t think there’s any gooner who thinks the deal has not been done or who would even want Cesc back after all this.

            The stuff this boy has got us into, he had better be worth all this trouble.

          • Jim says:

            I have to say for the first time today I reckon we did go over the score. Simply no discipline among the players doing this sort of thing. Imo, given all that has gone on, it is disrespectful to Arsenal. They’ve probably been given info at a sensitive time not available to the public and they should’ve kept it to themselves. I hope Balauge is right when he says there’ll be a slap on the wrist for those involved, either from Pep or Rosel.

          • Jose says:

            Arsenal are angry because, once again, it looks like they aren’t in control of the situation. They wanted to break the news to their fans, their way, and influence the way the media reports the transfer. But the way the news leaked prevented all that. At this point, half the major papers in England are reporting how Arsenal have “lost” the Fabregas transfer saga, and the fanbase is feeling something between anger and confusion, to go along with a current of acceptance and relief.

          • PhepheSa says:


            Agree with Jose, I concede that Puyi and Pique maybe should have waited but come on leaks are released all the time when a transfer is almost done this is nothing new. They just wanted to do it their way so the media will go after bad Barca as if we held a gun on them to sell.

  77. blitzen says:

    Does anyone have a link to the full text of Wenger’s presser?

  78. mei says:

    Paul Gasol congratulated fabregas for his transfer to barcelona. Damn those catalans! 😛

  79. blitzen says:

    If you all can take your minds off Cescgate for a few moments, you might consider that there is very possibly going to be a players’ strike that will delay the beginning of the Liga season by two weeks. Tim Stannard has a nice article on that here:

    Unlike the threatened strike earlier this year, which was largely about the TV rights issue and promoted by the clubs and the LFP, this one has been called by the Players’ Union and is in support of players who have not been paid, in some cases for over a year. It will be a shame to delay the start of the season, but this situation is absolutely disgraceful and needs to be sorted out asap. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Worth mentioning that Puyol was at the meeting in Madrid and supports this action fully.

    Also, WOOOO!!!! CESC!!!!! MOC MOC!!!! 😀

  80. MoSSi says:

    If Cesc joins us I think we should nickname him MocMoc!

  81. hammeronmessi says:

    totally unnecessary tweets from puyol and pique.cant they wait few more days.

    imo they need a rollicking from pep

    • Dani_el says:

      I agree. The tweets were pretty irresponsible on their part, now (once again) Arsenal takes advantage of a “higher moral ground” to delay the deal. Cesc must be nervous. The worst part is that Guardiola wanted the squad focused for sunday. I hope Arsenal send the email confirming the deal soon.

      • mei says:

        Arsenal will announce the signing after their game tomorrow as simple as that.
        Anyone thinking they got sentimental much about our enthusiasm and decided to delay the transfer cant be serious.
        Its about keeping it together until the first match is played, because it happens to be too close.

        • hammeronmessi says:

          Anyone thinking they got sentimental much about our enthusiasm and decided to delay the transfer cant be serious.

          i m not serious.

          but i question bout the timing of tweets from tarzan and pique.

          cant they tweet after its official.

          already its a muchly debated transfer.dont they know that?

          • mei says:

            Hes their friend , they are human beings.
            Coming home , the way they mean it , happens once in a lifetime and they have been waiting for it.

            They could tweet about it after it goes official the same way they could have avoided talking about cesc for the past 3 years.
            I know that they mostly answered press’ questions but still.
            If they dont(and im not suggesting that they should anyway) keep quiet when talking about a contracted player of another club who is their friend , imagine how much easier it is for them to burst with joy when this player is contracted to their club , just not officially yet.

  82. mom4 says:

    A lot has gone down in the few days since I’ve been on here.

    Cesc- Not a bad piece of businness if the last set of numbers I saw was correct (30M+ 5M variables+ 5M from Cesc + a 16 yr-old to be named later and a sonic screwdriver + a $15 lost bet by Jnice). Am I happy? Dunno. Do we need him? Dunno, Pep seems to think so so I’ll go along with it (between the two of them Cesc and Xavi have one decent pair of hamstrings and one decent pair of Achilles tendons so maybe it’s for the best). Will he shave? Will the twitter BFFs distract each other? What will occupy our time next silly season? When will the trolls attack? Will Thiago get enough playing time? Too many questions.

    The BFFs?- Do we REALLY expect the BFFs to be mature and reserved about this? That being said, why give Arsenal/Arsene an excuse for more petulance?

    Arsenal/Arsene?- Enough with delaying the inevitable. It makes you look more like petulant ninnies and less like the “big club” you were worried you wouldn’t look like any longer! It’s gonna be hard to like my second team for a while.

    Does it make me a bad cule if I’m not looking forward to Sunday’s game? Really, I’m still classicoed out! If it were not for the opponent, we wouldn’t be caring as much about this trophy. I’m vascillating between wanting to see the best XI available(goodness how I’ve miss that!!!) and thinking it would be a great idea to say screw it, start the XI from the Copa Catalunya so there’s less chance of a preseason ArbeloaRamos happening!

    • BarcaGirl_Indo says:

      no mom4, I’m not looking forward to it either.

      If our opponent was not EE, I would be excited to watch some football from Barcelona.
      still sick from the last 4 El Clasicos to be honest.

  83. The__K__Man says:

    Even the website of Cesc’s town is congratulating him for officially joining FC Barcelona

  84. The__K__Man says:

    Mou’s taking the Supercopa very seriously it seems. He decided to allow the fans to attend the last training before the match. I bet he wants to give his team some psychological advantage from the fans to beat us, which would put them in pretty good shape before the start of the season.

    Hope our moc moc team is thinking about the match and not about when Cescy boy will touch down in BCN.

    • jordi™ says:

      I wonder if the grass will actually be cut this time. I only worry about us defensively but we should be ok if this is what we put out.


  85. Triplo Volanti (formerly Cesc Pistol) says:

    BTW Had Wenger did the trnasfer earlier he could’ve gotten Stekelenburg and Mata and probably Sakho or some decent defender. Think about that. Wenger is a moron.

  86. BarcaGirl_Indo says:

    Pique and Puyol are just human being, really..they can feel happy and emotional too, just like other human being..

    Especially Piqué, Cesc’s best friend since 10 years old.. He’s so happy and emotional, even since he woke up in the morning he seemed so excited..

    Look at Cesc families and friends (from Arenys de Mar) tweets..

    And this site from Cesc home town :

    They already welcoming Cesc.. That’s how happy they are, their brother/friend/local boy finally comes home after 8 years..
    I’m sure it’s Cesc himself who leaked the news to his friends and family, why should all these people worry about Arsenal’s feeling?

  87. Olufestus says:

    @obii,you need not refer to me as being bitter,thats why its barcelona football blog,not obiis’ just my two cents…

    • barca96 says:

      But you’re always complaining about something. Just take those news from goal with a little tiny pinch of salt. There is no need to get mad over those exaggerated reports.


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