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

By Kari

Just your neighbourhood Barca fanatic


  1. 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.

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

  3. 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.

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

    Fucking friendlies. And Pique too. Damn.

  5. 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!

    1. “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 😉

    2. 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? 😛

  6. 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.

  7. Anybody watching the USA vs Mexico game?

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

    1. He looks like he’s trying to look excited. Nice goal by Peralta.

      ¡México! ¡Ya Se Armó!

      Neither Chicharito or dos Santos is in the game. Guardado’ll probably be subbed out at the half. The U.S. still has a chance.

    2. lol Si se puede estados unidos ;-P

      I’m optimistic but this is a new project so I won’t be expecting a victory tonight. We lack pace in comparison to Mexico.

    3. Tee hee.

      Good result for Klinsmann. Counter-attacking not possession-having, though. The U.S. doesn’t need someone to build the team’s self-esteem. It needs a tactician.

    1. Comic gold, delusion, you name it; it’s all there,its all British and it’s glorious. Wonder what the author doing now.

  8. 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.

    1. 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.

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

    1. 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. 😀

  10. 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.

    1. I thought American Fernando Torres, whatever his name is, did a good job. Great Rory Delap type throw in to set up the goal.

    2. Robbie Rogers? He worked hard tonight, has the talent and it doesn’t hurt that he’s cute 😉

    3. Oh that guy! Thought you were talking bout number 16 lol I know nothing about him despite seeing him and fc Dallas play against the galaxy a few times. Why is he called the American FT?

  11. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

  12. 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.

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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?

  16. 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.

  17. 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

    1. Yeah I might have to extend my stay depending on how this plays out. Hopefully I get refunded for my tickets. :S

  18. 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…

  19. 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?

    1. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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?

    1. 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.

    2. 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?

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

    5. 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.

    6. 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.

    7. my thought also, I have more of a basketball background but in both basketball and soccer I was a creator never a finisher and I always resented that people assumed the scorer was everything

    8. That’s why I loved Ronaldinho so much. Always gave people the credit. Always ran to them and celebrated with the guy who gave him the ball.

  22. 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.

    1. 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”.

  23. 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.

    1. 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. :/

  24. 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.

    1. 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 🙄

    2. Thanks for clearing that up about Rodri, I have been wondering what the heck Barca saw in him. Glad to know it’s not him!

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

    1. @jouracule says that he tried out in 2006 with the Cadet B team and was offered a contract that his agent refused.

      This is probably where the Thiago video comes in as he would’ve been in the same class as him.

    1. 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.

    2. I was just wondering today if Thiago would take the 11. I like it.

      There’s no way Cesc’s not the four, for better or for worse.

      Pedro just launched his web site as, so I think we can assume he’s sticking with that number at least for this season…. 🙂

    3. Pedro is quite attached to his 17 shirt for personal reasons. I wouldn’t be surprised if he keeps it always.


    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…

  27. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    1. 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?

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

    1. 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).

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

  30. 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..)

    1. Xaviniestabregasergio? He’s not here, so we don’t have to name it. 😀 (Yet..)

      MVPS – that’s if we play Messi, Villa, Pedro, Sanchez at the same time. (Or Pedro-Sanchez sub)

  31. @3gerardpique Hoy será un gran día!! Today is gonna be a great day!!

    I’m guessing it’s a done deal!

  32. 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.

    1. 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. 😛

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

  34. @barcastuff

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


    1. 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.

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