In Defence of Cesc Fabregas

And so one of the most exhausting transfer sagas in recent memory finally draws to a close, and the world of football can heave a sigh of relief and get back to pouring over other unsubstantiated rumours. But the key to this particular drama was precisely its length. It didn’t start in 2011, or even in 2008. It started in 2003.

doing the time warp

On the face of it, losing a player for peanuts at the age of 16 and buying him ‘back’ at the age of 24 for almost 40 million euros seems rather silly. And on that view it undoubtedly is. But consider the following. Firstly, people like to talk about Fabregas having been made in La Masia, but let’s be honest: the kid who left all those years ago bears very little resemblance to the young man of today, 300+ appearances for a top Premier League club later. All that experience – which he would not have gained had he stayed, with the likes of Deco, Xavi and Iniesta ahead of him – has made him into one of the top midfielders in the world, fitness permitting. That’s what we’re buying.

Secondly, let’s discuss the logic of holding the actions (or inaction) of a past Barca regime against the choices of the present. In 2003, just as a number of factors governed Fabregas’ decision (more on that below), the position of the club must also be considered in its context. Legally, they had their hands tied due to loopholes in the law governing the transfer of young players.

Policy-wise, and this is our own fault, the value attached to and the amount of faith shown in home-grown talent wasn’t enough. (Given the state of the club at the time, focusing on short-term solutions must have seemed an operational imperative.) The likes of Xavi and Pique have repeated confirmed this view in interviews, while asserting that this fault has been remedied under Guardiola’s reign. Witness the speed at which promising canteranos are offered contracts these days, and the extensive use of buy-back clauses for player sales. The current regime has already learned from the mistakes of the past. It makes no sense to let the existence of those mistakes keep us from making the most logical move in the present.

Which brings me onto my third point. I propose a thought experiment. How would you react if Barca were buying a midfielder exactly like Fabregas, but without the La Masia background, at the same price? (Not buying a midfielder at all, as some – including me – would have preferred, is not an option, due to the assessment of need by our technical staff.) So he’d be just as good, just as experienced, and just as young. Not that you could easily find such a player around, but let’s press on.

Given current market prices, I can’t see this hypothetical player costing any less than Fabregas. Except that this hypothetical player would be far more of a risky purchase, especially if the goal was to ensure the midfield succession. We would have no inkling whether he could fit in, both as a person and in terms of tactics. And now back to the actual player we have. Who, by virtue of his experiences, is far less of a risk, and pays for his worth in proven ability. So why hold his past against him?

football-playing robots

Cesc Fabregas left Barca because he saw no open path into the first team, which was a correct assessment in the prevailing circumstances. As discussed above, the technical regime in place at the time had somewhat different priorities than nurturing talent from scratch, and even back then Fabregas had his path blocked by not only successful canteranos but also ready-made signings. Arsenal offered him a fast track into the first team – and even the starting XI – of a top club competing regularly for trophies.

In moving to Arsenal, Fabregas made a logical, career-advancing choice. It was very risky – when young players move countries there tend to be 10 failures for every success story – and it’s to his credit that he overcame the early obstacles and made a name for himself.

People make these choices every single day in normal professions. In fact, we’re expected to be upwardly mobile, especially while young and brimming with potential. But football isn’t a normal industry. The entire spectacle of the game wouldn’t be nearly as seductive if it were more logical. Sure, some footballers go about it like any other job, chasing the highest paycheck while they can and leaving their fan side behind closed doors. But if the profession were populated by football-playing robots programmed to seek the highest bidder, then the one-club men we admire so much wouldn’t exist, and no one would ever make illogical-seeming moves for emotional reasons. I for one think the game would be much poorer for it.

During these past 8 years, Fabregas formed a strong bond with Arsenal, its fans, his fellow players, and above all with his mentor Arsene Wenger. He has been a major part of their history, and even though glory has remained tantalisingly out of their reach these past 6 years, the mark he has left will not easily fade away. Much of his frustrating behaviour over the course of this transfer saga can be explained by the depth of this connection. That’s why he allowed himself to be convinced to remain last season. (That, and Barca’s refusal to pay up. But we’re not discussing the many mistakes our club have made during the course of this saga. That’s a subject for a different post.)

“Cesc loves this club deeply and he loves Barça deeply too. An honest player can love two clubs. But he cares deeply about this club and that is why I hope we can keep him.” – Arsene Wenger, a week ago

Fabregas has never made a secret of his Cule side. In this, nobody can accuse him of being deceptive. He has, in the past, become somewhat defensive when questioned about his decision to move to Arsenal – after all, why did he have to continuously justify himself when he’s been such a success in the Premier League? It’s not like Barca have ever valued him, right? However, the introduction of two new variables changed the landscape. The first is the return of Pep Guardiola to Barca. As we have now seen, for whatever reason, Pep has long been determined to make Cesc part of his Barca project. The second factor was perfectly put by Sid Lowe, so I’ll just quote him:

…it is no good being a team for the future; tomorrow never comes. And that is something that has come to obsess him. Cesc himself said: “Sometimes it feels like we [Arsenal] are always saying to the fans ‘next year we’ll be great, next year we’ll do it’ and they don’t like that and nor do I. You have to win.”

And that was four years ago.

Some have accused him of hypocrisy because of his reluctance to publicly agitate for a move. I agree that the appearance of indecision doesn’t reflect particularly well on him, and in the end probably hurt all 3 parties. We could fault him for that, but I find it difficult to fault his reasons. Even after making up his mind to go (which I think happened earlier than most people imagine this year), Fabregas could never bring himself to rebel against Arsenal. In this, as in the decision to initiate a move back to Catalunya, his reasons were not only logical, but emotional. If he were a football-playing robot, this saga might have been resolved years ago. But he’s not.

Then again, a football-playing robot wouldn’t have spent years becoming increasingly fixated on a move back to his hometown club in the first place. If he had been more open to the possibility of a move elsewhere, it would no doubt have materialized. Midfield schemers are in demand these days, as we have seen in the current transfer market. Instead, Barca put pressure on him to bring the parties closer to a deal by making financial concessions. No matter which numbers you believe, everyone seems to agree that he has indeed done so. We can argue about whether or not he’d really be out of pocket due to differences in tax law, but I think it’s fairly safe to say he has not made the career move which would maximize his earning potential.

None of the parties to this saga could be accused of behaving in the most rational manner. Now that it has finally been concluded, it would benefit all parties to move on as swiftly as possible. In our case, that means measuring Fabregas against the same ridiculously high standards we’d use for any expensive new signing. He’s going to have to do a lot to convince some people. But as an investment for the future, he’s got time to do it in.

All cold reasoning aside, it’s really nice to see the spine of La Masia’s class of 87 back together again. They were always going to be the future of Barca. And now they are.

[I know most of you won’t need this reminder, but as it is a very controversial issue even amongst Cules, please remember to keep it civil in the comments.]

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Recent Posts

Written by:

20-something Chinese Kiwi Barrister. Enjoys short walks on the beach, Argentinian players and Pep Guardiola. @blackwhitengrey for hot takes on all three.

251 Comments

  1. August 18, 2011

    For all my misgivings before signing him, Cesc really had a wonderful debut. He played really well.

    Apart from his contribution to the winning goal, tackling Alonso on the counter, thus winning the ball, and then continuing his run before slotting a perfect pass to an on-rushing Messi was a delight to watch.

    • August 18, 2011

      Yeah, I had misgivings too, to be honest, but they’re hard to sustain in the face of how well he appears to fit in. He was great.

      • August 18, 2011

        Tackle in question can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1iEGM4LgdQ&feature=player_detailpage#t=65s

        As much as it pains me to say this (not really), if he had stayed at Barca, I don’t think he makes that kind of tackle. Definitely something that he’s picked up in the Premier League, IMO.

        I should add, it’s not quite a seamless fit for Fabregas. In the video above, there is a point where he runs into Pique (or they run into each other, whichever) while making a run at goal. These things fix themselves as they play more together.

        But he is winning me over. Attitude, the sheer joy he has of just being here and a stellar debut are melting my ice cold heart.

        • Dani_el
          August 19, 2011

          I couldn’t remember that tackle! and that almost assist, just awesome! With Cesc we’re gonna have faster transitions I believe, I still think he could be the next Pep/Xavi, with things of his own.

        • August 19, 2011

          I spotted that the second time around. Really well-timed – I was very impressed.

          Running into Pique was one of the first things he did, no? I laughed really hard. You’d think those two would know each other better.

          I have faith that he knows what he has to do to win everyone over. 🙂

    • August 18, 2011

      Jose says:
      March 31, 2010 at 9:13 pm

      If we don’t go through on the basis of that penalty, I consider him disowned of Barca.

      Well… it’s a good thing Barca tore Arsenal up at the Camp Nou that year, then 😛

      In all seriousness, though, in hindsight that’s one of the blogs least proud moments. Also, thank God for registration.

    • The__K__Man
      August 18, 2011

      well, that’s certainly a weird post. Never read that one before and completely disagree with it!

    • August 19, 2011

      Haha, Isaiah will come around. I was a hard sell when Henry joined, but look at the kind of impact he had.

  2. The__K__Man
    August 18, 2011

    Great article Linda. Have been saying a lot of these points to some Cules who don’t approve of him.

    • August 19, 2011

      Thanks! I’ve always liked him, but until the last couple of weeks never actually wanted him back. Maybe in the process of writing this post I actually talked myself around to approving of the transfer.

  3. Dani_el
    August 19, 2011

    Nice article Linda!
    I have always root for Cesc coming, I thing Pep’s a genious and he will learn much from him and the team. But I also think that Chigrinsky was a good signing, and it wasnt Pep who let him go, but the new directive to pay salaries..

    I’m guessing that today our first to center-backs will be Pique-Masche (until Puyi comes back), then Puyi, Abidal, Fontas.
    Maybe some games Pep will play Cesc as a Defensive midfilder, to give rest to Busi, and some other games instead of Xavi, or in the place of Iniesta moving him up. The possibilities are inmense in Pep’s head, one thing I couldn’t see was Adriano entering the game as a Left Winger (and then as a right winger), I knew that he used to play in that position in Sevilla, but I just couldn’t see it. It’s amazing the things he can do in real time.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      August 19, 2011

      I was surprised and had doubt with Pep decision to replace Villa with Adriano (didn’t know Alexis was injured).

      I was like, “what Pep, really? why?” 😀

      • Dani_el
        August 19, 2011

        Me too! as a true cule I was worried about what was going on on the game. I didnt know at the time that Sanchez was injured, I thought that Pep was thinking “If we lose the game I dont want people blaming Sanchez” that’s the mind of a worried cule jaja
        But it came to be a great decision! Though It first seemed to me that Pep put Adriano to help Abidal who was really tired with Ronaldo(I think he moved to the left realizing that he couldnt pass Alves .)

        • nzm
          August 19, 2011

          I commented at length on the Adriano substitution on Euler’s 2nd Supercopa analysis thread.

          It puzzled me why Adriano was coming on too, but then I realised something that wasn’t obvious, unless you were at Camp Nou and could see the positioning of all the players.

          Sure, Alves had owned Ronaldo on Barca’s right, but then Mourinho moved Oezil across to play outside Ronaldo – a tactical move in the hope that Alves wouldn’t be able to defend against both players and a gap would open to allow one of through on goal.

          Pep read this, and sent in Adriano to help down the right wing. This reinforced the defence on the right, as we had 2 “RBs” on the field for while. Not long after, Oezil was subbed off for Kaka and Ronaldo moved to Madrid’s right where Abidal continued to keep him quiet for the rest of the game.

          This left Alves to cope only with Kaka, and set Adriano free to roam further up the pitch which he did with great success, providing the assist for Messi’s goal during an exciting exchange between him, Messi and Fabregas.

          It was an awesome tactical exchange by Guardiola, and Adriano was the right man. If Sanchez had been fit to play, I still think that Adriano would have come on because of his experience, his knowledge of Barca’s positional play and his familiarity with the movements of the other Barca players – all of which Sanchez will also learn the more he practices, trains and plays during the season.

    • August 19, 2011

      I agree with you about Cesc’s development (and about Chygrynskiy, but keep that quiet). 😉

      Masche has surprised me with how well he imitates Puyol’s role at CB. Puyol’s still better, but he’s really improved in that position.

      The Adriano switch was very, very smart in hindsight. Of course, Pep could see what to do during the game, which is what makes him an awesome manager.

  4. BarcaGirl_Indo
    August 19, 2011

    Looking back these past 3 years and the verbal abuses Cesc got from cules around the world (from the most “polite” ones like traitor, coward, until ****,*****, etc),
    I must say it’s amazing and surprising how fast he steals lots of cules hearts (I say lots of, not all) just in a few days.

    starts from the day he signed for us.
    even the coldest heart can see how genuinely happy the boy was, he was smiling all day. you can see it, a boy has come home and he’s happy. some say his smile was infectious, you saw his pic/video smiling, you smiled too.

    and then his debut.
    he come at the worst time possible. his debut wearing blaugrana jersey in Camp Nou, against the eternal rival, EE just equalized, the squad looked exhausted with just 8 minutes left before ET.
    and look what happened. he was so energetic, lively, and made an impact to the squad in just a few minutes on the field. two training sessions, and he played as if he never left us.

    I can hear that in my head again “In Pep We Trust”.

    • August 19, 2011

      Amen! I think even for those of us who were suspicious of his motives, it’s hard to doubt the genuineness of his joy at wearing the shirt. And isn’t that what we all want? Players who love playing for Barca? 🙂

  5. Dani_el
    August 19, 2011

    I’m sorry guys, I know this a settled issue, but I had to post it, it’s a video from the other side of the field, where it clearly shows how Mourinho shoves with his foot Cesc’s head, I think that’s why our guys on the bench reacted as they did.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umFCCI8O1WE&feature=player_embedded

    Well, In Pep I trust, now I ask myself, if they know this did happen, maybe Pep told them, “dont say anything at the press, because he will deny it and it will change the discussion from football to this.”

    • nzm
      August 19, 2011

      His foot didn’t make contact with Cesc. But it was still a bizarre movement to make. The man is becoming more unhinged every day.

      We watched his advance on Tito in slo-mo yesterday. It was so deliberately calculating. You could see how he got his hand into a pincer-like shape with the intent of poking his finger into Tito’s eye.

      • Vj
        August 19, 2011

        Really? I thought he just wanted to pinch his cheeks. The ‘look’ he gave afterwards certainly suggests so..

        • nzm
          August 19, 2011

          Ha! 🙂

          The look afterwards was one of bemusement as he felt the sting of Tito’s slap on the side of his head. But then, he would smile then, as we know how Mourinho likes it rough!

          • SoccerMom
            August 19, 2011

            I actually — and I’m not making this up — thought that MouMou gave Tito a ‘wet willie’.

          • nzm
            August 20, 2011

            Yeah – but that’s wet finger in the ear, not the eye!

            I have to wonder why Mourinho deliberately stalked down and accosted Tito.

  6. can_we_go_Xalvies
    August 19, 2011

    I’ve seen the incident from the reverse angle and luckily Jose actually missed.

    TBH I don’t think its worth discussion what Mourinho or Pepe did during the incident. Barcelona are sticking with their position from last season, they will not take any action against them, I remember Zubi was quoted last season saying that “what happens on the pitch, stays on the pitch”. If the ref decides something should happen then thats acceptable. But there is no point us further discussing what happens in detail because it makes everyone look bad, even the brit press have already armed their ammunition for the liga.

    Now, what is important is Villa’s ban. Does it take affect in the liga? or only the super cups?

    • mei
      August 19, 2011

      It seems like all cards shown only affect supercups.

  7. Gogah
    August 19, 2011

    whatever, there may be many cesc lovers out there.
    but you said it, the only thing we should do now is to measure fabregas against the ridiculous standards expected of any expensive signing.
    we cant get mushy that our boy has come home and all that nonsense.
    even his gesture in that picture is telling. he raises his finger suggesting ‘trophy #1’, making it perfectly clear that he has not come home, but rather come to a club where he can collect a cartload of trophies. if henry did that, why not fab.

    • mei
      August 19, 2011

      Fabregas also left a substancial percentage of his salary to come here.
      He also left a guaranteed spot and captaincy to come here.
      Maybe its all of these together.
      As far as Im concerned , if it works out for the team , I could care less.

    • August 19, 2011

      It’s not easy to be a big money Barca signing, eh? With Cesc, his background cuts both ways – for some people it makes them more liable to be lenient, others harsher. But that doesn’t really matter if he continues to perform.

      (Funny that you mention Henry – I was totally suspicious of his signing for about the first 6 months he was here. Loved him by the end, though.)

  8. Rao
    August 19, 2011

    It was a really good win and as Pep said,this win was
    surprising.I had tears in my eyes wathcing the game.Again,what Pep said is absolutely, without any doubts is the commment I’d remember,“My players are eternal, legendary, unrepeatable and honest”.

    I would’nt want to spoil this win but even after widespread criticism of Mourinho(read:Marca and AS),there are some who still emphathise him and the accuser being a Gooner.

    A line from the site:
    Whatever you say about them, it is clear Barcelona are, at the moment, the best club side in the world. However, whether you admire their style of play or feel (disclaimer: this is not the opinion of clockendview) that they employ propaganda-spewing, synchronised-diving, card-brandishing, pseudo-charity-giving, false-badge-kissing, tap-upping tactics, everyone can be content that we’ll stuff them at the Emirates in the not too distant future.

    http://clockendview.com/barcelona-the-evil-empire/871

    • The__K__Man
      August 19, 2011

      I couldn’t care less about his views but on what basis does he think they’ll stuff us?Poor fellas couldn’t even stuff Udinese.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      August 19, 2011

      see, I don’t hate Arsenal as a club, the coach, or the players.

      but I can’t stand with majority of their fans, I can’t even wish their club good luck.

      • barca
        August 19, 2011

        I think the same about Arsenal. The only reason I don’t support Arsenal is because of their fans.

        • stowe
          August 19, 2011

          their fans are precisely why i stopped cheering for them. it helped that while I was getting fed up with their fans I found the awesome fans here at this site

    • August 19, 2011

      Pep’s comments were awesome. You could tell by the pictures and videos of the post-match celebrations that he had been moved by the efforts of his players.

      See, this is what really pisses me off about Mourinho’s whining. People who don’t watch Barca on a regular basis start believing his crap just because he keeps repeating it. As for the other accusations, well, we bought their captain. You can hardly expect them to be anything but bitter. The more dominant Barca become, the more people will stop admiring and start disliking our behaviour. I’m finding it hard to care.

      (I live in North London and some of my best friends are very lovely people who support Arsenal. They don’t all hate us. ;))

      • BarcaGirl_Indo
        August 19, 2011

        oh, yes! there are actually some lovely gooners out there. 🙂

        from Arsenal player, I really like Jack Wilshere, he’s really cute. and he’s fan of Messi, Xavi, and Iniesta.

  9. hammeronmessi
    August 19, 2011

    as a cule i never questioned his ability.during the whole transfer saga i m only against the transfer value that were being talked.

    and i still think his behaviour in the whole transfer saga while exemplary is not the right one because it hurted botha arsenal and barca badly.

    but at last i can say welcome cesc.

    • August 19, 2011

      I’m with you on all counts. It really is a saga to forget for all parties, no?

  10. BarcaGirl_Indo
    August 19, 2011

    Cesc: “I haven’t come to retire Xavi”

    There’s a surplus of players in midfield. Do you think that everyone has a different profile and can provide different solutions?

    “Exactly. We are players that understand football the same way, yet we’re quite different. More than people think. Together we make a very good combination and at a footballing level that’s great, but we have to prove that on the pitch. We understand football the same way, but we all have different characteristics, which might just make us a very special group”.

    Many years ago it was said that Xavi would take over from Guardiola. Is Cesc Xavi’s heir apparent?

    “I don’t know. I think that Xavi still has some years left in him, huh! He does things you wouldn’t believe! I haven’t come to retire Xavi. I came here to play with Xavi, to compete with Xavi, and to win with Xavi. What I’m saying about Xavi also goes for Andres and Thiago. I think altogether we make a very good group. I know what we’ll do. With the great group we are, we’ll do great things together”.

    nice interview by BarçaTV :
    http://www.fcbarcelona.cat/web/english/noticies/futbol/temporada11-12/08/19/n110816118800.html

    • August 19, 2011

      Thanks for posting! That kid sure knows what to say, eh? And seriously, I think being in the same team as Xavi will help him grow.

      • BarcaGirl_Indo
        August 19, 2011

        I’ve said it before.

        he speaks Guardiola-esque.

        they are more than just share the same number. 😀

  11. The__K__Man
    August 19, 2011

    You may like the transfer or not but getting Cesc for 29mill compared to Pathetico’s purchase of Falcao for 45mill kinda seems like a steal!

    • August 19, 2011

      I actually like Atletico a lot of the time but this is insane. They’re spending all the Aguero money on a single striker?

    • Ryan
      August 20, 2011

      Doesn’t that price include an additional player though?

  12. August 19, 2011

    On a completely different note (and not to start the recriminations again), I hope you’ve all seen Fernando Morientes’ comments about the SuperCopa (on @barcastuff’s timeline from about 8 hours ago). Now that’s old school Real Madrid.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      August 19, 2011

      I did. and I’ll copy it here.

      Morientes (ex-Madrid): “As Madrid fan, I’m ashamed Casillas said Cesc was acting, and disgusted they didn’t stay for the ceremony.” [cope]

      take a note, Iker Casillas!

      oh, they used to have players I admire a lot, like Hierro, Zidane, Morientes, Raul. but now… 🙁

      • Blau-Grenade
        August 19, 2011

        It is not the players. It is the direction that the players are getting from their manager and upper echelons that is causing this type of behavior. I believe there is a good sportsman in all of us. And given the right direction, that we can all behave in an honorable fashion. The problem is Florentino/Mourinho there.

        • August 19, 2011

          I agree completely. Pique’s words were too strong, but I do see the point.

      • K_legit
        August 19, 2011

        Hierro? Speak for yourself..I fucking hated that guy

        • BarcaGirl_Indo
          August 19, 2011

          well, I did speak for myself only. 😛

          I’m not the only cule who admire Hierro.
          Gerard Pique said his childhood idol is Fernando Hierro.

        • Megster
          August 19, 2011

          He even defended Xavi from the criticisms of Madrid press about the seleccion.

  13. K_legit
    August 19, 2011

    One second here..
    Do you realise how ridiculous it sounds that Villa insulted Ozil’s religion and Ozil understood exactly what he said?!
    I know the players are taught spanish and all but to know a proper insult and that as complex as one tainting one’s religion can be heard exactly in a stadium full of crazed, noisy fans in a heated melee is ludicrous..it just doesn’t seem logical

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      August 19, 2011

      and what makes it more ridiculous is the fact that Abidal was there, standing around Villa.

      so Villa insulted Islam when Abidal was there, right?

      yeah, that sounds so logical.

    • blitzen
      August 19, 2011

      This has already been disproved as a false rumour. No need to hash it out again.

      • BarcaGirl_Indo
        August 19, 2011

        still, in my country (the largest muslim country in the world), David Villa now is a public enemy.

        these two days were hard for Indonesian cule. I haven’t logged in to my twitter acc since last night cause I can’t stand their abusive words toward Villa. it hurts me. 🙁

        • August 19, 2011

          That’s what I was afraid of. Barca have a lot of fans everywhere, and these rumours are hurtful. Which is precisely why whoever spread those rumours did it.

    • August 19, 2011

      I’m so, so freaking pissed off at whoever spread that rumour. How irresponsible is it to lie about something as important as an insult to one’s faith? Disgusting.

  14. mom4
    August 19, 2011

    Yeah Linda, I think I’m almost ready to drink the Cesc Kool Aid, too. Perfect for us. His class of ’87 celebration with Messi and Pique might have been the last straw in winning me over.

    “doing the time warp”
    OK then:
    It’s just a jump to the left.
    And then a step to the right…
    *hides*

    • blitzen
      August 19, 2011

      Put your hands on your hips…
      And bring your knees in tight!

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      August 19, 2011

      I drank a lot of Cesc Kool Aid on Monday, mom4.

      haha, don’t hide from us! 😛

    • August 19, 2011

      Not to get all sentimental, but that celebration was adorable. 🙂

  15. blitzen
    August 19, 2011

    Nice article, Linda. I have always been in favour of buying Cesc back, and certain that Guardiola will find minutes for all of our midfield talent, including Thiago. My only caveat was the price. Considering the undoubted talent of the player, the current inflated transfer market, and the willingness of Cesc to give up part of his own salary to make the transfer happen, I think we got a reasonably good deal.

    One thing you didn’t mention in your article is that Pep’s determination to make Cesc part of his team went the other way too. One of the main reasons Cesc has been desperate to come to Barça sooner rather than later is that he has always idolized Pep and wanted the chance to work with him. With Pep only signing yearly contracts, there was no guarantee that he would still be here in a few years when Arsenal may have been more willing to let Cesc go. From Cesc’s point of view, it was now or possibly never. And as for Pep, as I mentioned a few days ago, the happier he is with his squad, the more likely he is to stay longer. It’s a win win.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      August 19, 2011

      From Cesc’s point of view, it was now or possibly never.

      I think he did say that. that this year probably the last “train” for him, and he got to catch that train.

      and he also said on BarçaTV that Pep wanted him was the key to his transfer.

    • August 19, 2011

      I’m coming around to the price tag, which was my main concern too. In this market, there’s not much value to be found.

      Agreed completely about Pep and Cesc. Cesc has always been very clear that he looks up to Pep, even before Pep took any steps into management. Their evident admiration for each other is very touching.

    • outerspacedout
      August 19, 2011

      Haha I think I told you so a looong time back on my first days on this blog (I thought you were a guy back then) also but I don’t think I remember any thing you’ve said which I haven’t completely agreed with on here. I’d also been saying that maybe the reason why he wants to come so much now even though he signed a contract extension at Arsenal some time back might have been (other than the usually stated reasons of coming back home, no trophies at Arsenal etc) the fact that unlike then, his childhood idol whose poster he had on his bedroom and so on Pep is coach now and is only renewing on a yearly basis so he might not be able to play under Pep if he waits and so he wanted to come before Pep left.

    • Barcathegreatestever
      August 21, 2011

      For me Cesc is a critical signing. Injuries came so close to derailing the campaigns for two years straight and actually did with Iniesta sitting out against Inter. Finding players talented enough to carry the team and loyal enough to put the team first are rare gems.
      Cesc mentioned in his interview that he never thought he’d make it to the first team and was blown away by Wengers approach. This is a very important point that so many fans are so hateful about. Every level theres a huge attrition and every player can see their dream blow up in their face. Look at Xavi saying on another team in another place he’d never have made it. Every player at the youth level faces not ever finding a team, labeling them ego maniacs and glory hunters is just wrong. If I lived in Barcelona I’d have been there to welcome him back and if I collected jerseys his would be the next one I would buy.

  16. August 19, 2011

    For as much as us “outsiders” did not want Cesc, Catalunya wanted Cesc, no real good reasons besides that he is the son of the people. I have visited Catalunya a few times, and the Catalan wanted him back just because he is Catalan and Guardiola wanted him, and if the Camp Nou is happy, we should be happy. Also Rosell is putting some focus on the natives, so I guess it was a gift to them.

    • August 19, 2011

      It’s very touching to see the bond between Cesc and the fans in the Camp Nou. I’m sure that’s part of the reason Guardiola wanted him.

  17. August 19, 2011

    Good defence, Linda. I have moc sympathy for Cesc after reading your piece. He rode the fence, but his love for both clubs and his moc personality prohibited his rebel. He is loyal to things he is attached to.

    While Cesc is here, we all should treasure him, whatever the past was. He is one of the best players out there. We are privileged to have such a group of great players, and now add Cesc to the list.

    The market is really in high demand of players such as Cesc, no? United, Madrid, Chelsea, Milan, and others, they all want to have a central midfield mastermind who would organize plays and distribute the ball to right places. Our team has 5 of them, all ready to shine. We are indeed privileged to have them all here while the others struggle to find one. We are several steps ahead of just about everybody in that regard.

    I found it hard to love Cesc when the saga was ongoing for all the trouble and bad relationship with Arsenal and their fans he caused. But now that he is here, it’s all good. I am a supporter and will support our players all the way.

    MOC MOC!

    • August 19, 2011

      Hear hear! Thank God the saga is behind us. And you’re right, playmakers are in demand – and how many honestly good ones are there?

  18. blitzen
    August 19, 2011

    I also think it is worth noting that Cesc has said that his silence over the last few months was at the specific request of Arsenal. All the people who were clamouring that he should just publically state that he wanted to leave or hand in a transfer request have to realize what a difficult situation he was in. If he had gone against Arsenal’s gag order, he would have completely alienated a club and their fans that he cared for deeply. He stayed quiet out of respect. You have to remember that he was with Arsenal for longer than he was with Barcelona.

    • August 19, 2011

      Very good point. It was curious to see that quote from his first press conference being buried in the press coverage, because I think it’s very important. From Arsenal’s point of view, it made sense for them to impose a gag order on him, and he couldn’t really do anything other than obey.

    • barca96
      August 19, 2011

      I said it before and will say it again.

      Would you guys want a player who rebels to his current club?
      Or would you like a man who deals with it behind the scenes?

  19. August 19, 2011

    I was one of those who didn’t want him to come originally, because of the price and because I thought we needed a CB more than a midfielder, but now that he’s here and happily wearing the shirt I fully support him.

    I have a feeling that at the end of the season we’ll have a hard time imagining this team without him, sort of like how it’s hard to imagine what we would have done without Mascherano last season.

    • August 19, 2011

      It’s funny how these things work out, isn’t it? In my season review I wrote that I wanted a CB more than a midfielder too, and yet I might have to eat those words in a few months. 🙂

      • BarcaGirl_Indo
        August 19, 2011

        If someday you eat your words, then so do I… 😛

        But I dont mind to eat those words, cause that means things are going well for us.

      • August 19, 2011

        Yeah, I think I’ll be eating my words as well but we’ll be quite happy to do it!

        In Pep we trust, : )

  20. BarcaGirl_Indo
    August 19, 2011

    @Linda

    Villa false rumor is getting out of hand here.
    Indonesian sites are quoting fake statement from Ozil.
    I don’t know who made this rumor, but now nobody want to listen to us (cules) if we defend Villa.

    I can’t tell you how much this rumor hurt us, it’s really painful to see our player now become a public enemy for something he didnt do.

    extremely sad at this moment.

    • mei
      August 19, 2011

      Really , who gives a crap. We won supercopa.
      All we have to do now is win League and CL , and mourinho will be kicked out of Spain in an instant.
      We can end this nonsense about a bitter man that creates havoc and officials are not too bothered to sorted him out : If we win again, Real will have to fire him , because he was only hired for winning and has failed ever since.

  21. andrecito
    August 19, 2011

    doesn’t anybody in the press remember that villa was the first athlete in history to have a UNESCO sponsored no-racism clause in his contract??? the man gets 10 mil a year to play good fut and be a nice guy…i don’t know david personally, but from the effort i see him give on the pitch- i’m sure he takes the ‘nice guy’ part pretty seriously…

    these rumors..the ridiculous tackles, jose…i am so worried to see how this rivalry is going to play out…

    but what’s got me even more upset is the reported racist chants at the camp nou..i am really sad to hear about that..i know that free speech is one of the most important human rights…but i think it is time that futbol takes a stand with an absolute zero tolerance approach…

    there are cameras all over this world..in 10 seconds you can go on the internet and get a 360 degree view of the block that you live on…pretty much no matter where you live..

    there are cameras all over these stadiums..just ask jose..these people who make these disgusting chants–they must be caught on some video, from some camera, from somewhere inside the stadium. they should never be allowed in a stadium again…or something far worse..i dont really care what the penalty is–but these people should at least never be able to see in person the team that they love again…

    seriously, nobody in the stands are allowed to run on the pitch and physically assault a player..why should they be allowed to verbally assault them? i think it is time to really ask why fifa or uefa does nothing about this…anti-racism commercials, banners, patches on the uniforms? really?–who does that message reach? of course i know it is good for the kids…provided that they are also coming from a decent home where some sort of value system is imprinted on them..but for hooligans and ultras these messages are useless.. if these accusations are true-i hope fcb addresses them and takes action..if they don’t, i will be disappointed…

    aside from all that…thanks kxevin for posting that awesome article in the last thread…pretty soon (if not already) we will be watching 9 midfielders + pique and vv…i am so stoked for this season…people ask me why i’m so crazy about barca..i’m an artist…and i tell them that when i watch barca i feel like i’m watching 11 picasso’s running around..11 PICASSO’S!

    and to euler–pep called–he want’s his freakin’ genious back! man–you are awesome..if you live in america..you should get in touch with klinsi..i know he can put you to work!

    • mom4
      August 19, 2011

      “and i tell them that when i watch barca i feel like i’m watching 11 picasso’s running around..11 PICASSO’S!”

      Or 11 Gaudis! 😉

      • nzm
        August 20, 2011

        or Dalis, or Miros, or Tapies or ……..

        Hell, we just have a lot of artists in Catalonia – thankfully not many bullshit ones! 😀

  22. Diego
    August 19, 2011

    Good article ! Everyone knew that side of the story and the benefits that come with Cesc but people were opposing the transfer sum, They see we could have used the money else where.

    Seeing Cesc all happy and smiley, His celebration with Messi and Pique, His training pics with Iniesta and Pep. He quickly won me over.

    In 8 short minutes, He participated in the goal, Gave a semi-assist, Tackled Alonso in a crucial time. He seamlessly fit right in.

    I think we’re in for a treat next season, When we use Subs at 70th mine (Alexis,Cesc,Afellay,Thiago) We’ll maintain same performance and intensity.

    • mom4
      August 19, 2011

      Couldn’t agree more Diego. When we needed to sub or rotated last it was a cause to panic. Not so much this year.

      Pragramming note, US: the Gamper in on ESPN3 this Monday at 2:30 EST. We can get a Barca fix even during the strike. For this game normally I’d like to see a lot of subbing and B teamers.But as this is the only chance this week to build match fitness, I’d say best XI and hope that Napoli gets lots of corners so we can practice corners.

      • SoccerMom
        August 20, 2011

        That’s what Iker was yelling about in the corridor before the 2nd half, to get a *&%$# corner, corners, ¡*&^%$!

  23. Diego
    August 19, 2011

    I remember the days when, win or lose, The Classico was a spectacle of great football, Win 6-2, Lose 4-1, We didn’t see any fights or rows.

    Mou is absolutely ruining it, Before each Classico you prepare yourself for seeing a fight, a red card, Hard tackles, and then complaining about the referee.

    • barca96
      August 19, 2011

      An ugly ugly tackle at the end of the match to be followed with a brawl at the end of the match, only when they lose of course.

      • htMillBay
        August 19, 2011

        It is very political at the executive level in EE (just as it is in Barca). Mou arrived promising titles and his behavior has been tolerated. However, don’t think that EE execs and older EE fans are happy with him. He’s already been given everything including the sacking of a real Madridista Valdano. Now, he has to deliver.

        The only way Mou stays beyond this year is if EE wins either the Liga or the CL. The sweet justice of it all is that one team is going to prevent him from doing so – Barcelona. Prediction: EE wins neither Liga or CL, and the knives will be waiting for him.

        Having worn out his welcome in Serie A, Prem, and Liga; he ends up either in Russia or the Mid-East.

        • Helge
          August 19, 2011

          Careful…
          The season has not even started, actually.

          I personally think that this Barca squad is better than last year’s, and I expect us to win major titles again. But I would not call it a given, yet.
          Somehow, my huge optimism about this squad also evokes a little bit agitation in me. I’ve always had trust in the team, but depth was a huge problem. This time I don’t fear anything, which is NOT good.
          We shall not become over-excited nor as arrogant as José Mourinho…

        • Ryan
          August 20, 2011

          I think Mou could return to England after his time in Spain. He’s won there before, and from I recall the press enjoyed his antics. The sooner he leaves here the better!

          • nzm
            August 20, 2011

            I think that he’s trying to rile up the Spanish players into not getting on at international level so that when he goes for the Portugal NT managerial position, he’s got a better chance to win with the Portuguese NT! 🙂

            Ryan – I owe you an apology. The Pope is in Spain as you wrote on a thread. I didn’t think that it was the Pope and wrote that. But he is here at that big Youth Christian rally.

            I tried to find the original thread to post my apology, but couldn’t.

            Sorry – I was mistaken, and you were correct. 🙂

  24. August 19, 2011

    Early in the summer there was discussion of Barca perhaps going out and signing 3-4 players due to how long and grueling this season would be and how short the squad was last season.

    As the summer progressed it became clear that this wasn’t going to happen. Pep really only wanted certain players he liked. He wasn’t going to be flexible and accept alternatives just to have numbers.

    Cesc is an outstanding player when he’s healthy. The question was always the money vs. alternative ways of using it.

    As the summer went on it became clear that there wasn’t practically any alternative to using the money. They could use another CB/ defender and even another forward. If Masch is going to be spending heavy time at CB then the team could probably use another DM (unless Keita can learn that role quickly).

    With Sanchez hurt Barcelona would have had three true forwards on the entire roster going into a match this weekend.

    Yes they could move Iniesta to the wing – but that’s something the team should be doing because they want to tactically – not because they are forced to because they don’t have any other viable players to utilize.

    But ultimately Pep wasn’t going to add those other alternative players to develop depth.

    There was only way one way to expand the depth on the team. That was to get Cesc.

    So I was relieved when they did get him. They just didn’t have enough players. Adding Cesc solves a number of issues of depth.

    Outside of the quality of the player – in the end – I really just wanted the squad to get bigger.

    • nzm
      August 20, 2011

      No, please – no Ini on the wing. He’s not fast enough and is too easily dispossessed of the ball by faster defenders.

      I’d rather that they develop Maxwell into a left-wing alternative. He’s quicker up the top left of the field than he is at the back. He would bring a new option to what is a weaker left-side for Barca when compared to the strong right where most of the plays occur. The left hasn’t been the same since Henry played his sublime season there in 08/09.

  25. August 19, 2011

    As I mentioned in the welcome post I published when we signed Cesc, it is not appropriate to get into a discussion about Cesc’s worth anymore. He is a player at Barcelona now. He is our player, not a player we may or may not get. That change everything.

    Yet, some points need to be highlighted:

    – He had no hope to be promoted to first team as we were not as focused on La Masia products:

    We were not as open to promote youth as now. True. Still we kept on promoting players from the farm. All the time. Some didnt excel so they left after one year or two. And some are still playing till now.

    As for Cesc, things were completely different. His promotion to the first team was a certainty. No doubt. He was a player in the best reserve squad we ever had. Not just a player, but one of the best four or five players like Messi Vazquez (back then), and Pique. Not only that, he was also a goalscoring midfielder by nature – something we rarely have at La masia. Meaning, the club was going to promote the player, but he was so much in a hurry and couldn’t wait.

    – Would he have same quality and experience as he has now after playing for Arsenal?

    The answer starts with iniesta and doesnt end with Busquets and Pedro. I truly believe he could have ended up being a better player.

    Lets keep in mind that if he had stayed, we could have reformed the squad differently with time. We used Goodjhonson and co in the midfield where he could’ve easily settled.

    – Would we react the same if the club paid that amount of money on another midfielder instead?

    You bet. I was against buying Ozil last summer for less than that. Is there a need to buy a midfielder in the first place? Let me put it this way: If it wasnt Cesc, Pep wouldnt have even considered buying a midfielder even as a direct exchange with Hleb.

    – Will Cesc improve the squad quality?

    Sure. Was it the best way to improve the squad? To each his own. Will this transfer has a good impact on the club’s performance? Yes it will. Will it have any bad impact in return? I’ll not answer that.

    But looking to what matters now, this transfer boosted the squad moral and refreshed the dressing room beside adding a quality player for a relatively reasonable price.

    He is happy. The players are happy. It means they will make us happy as well.

    Again, he is our player now. Compare his presence to thats of Hleb and his impact in the dressing room to thats of ibra, and you will get extremely excited about his arrival.

  26. Helge
    August 19, 2011

    I was clearly against the Fab deal, not only due to the high transfer fee, actually mainly because I thought it serves as a bad example to the new youngsters (i.e. more promising talents seek a transfer to the EPL, thinking the club will buy them back at all costs if they just do good) – and I feared Cesc would rob Thiago of his well deserved playing time with the first team.

    But there are several things that changed my mind: First of all, I have not followed Barca that closely in 2003, so I didn’t exactly know how much the transfer policy and the trust in youth talents has changed since then. Thanks for opening my eyes, Linda 🙂
    Knowing about Cesc’s and the club’s situation back then (in a more detailed way than I did) makes it almost impossible to condemn Cesc’s decision to move away. I gotta admit that I jumped to a conclusion in that case.
    Today, he might have decided differently.

    The interview on BarçaTV shows the humility of Cesc, I don’t know if he matches perfectly (actually, perfection is unreachable) into our playing system, but his mentality is still very Barca-esque, which is awesome. When he talked about the small differences between him and the other midfielders, it gave me a sigh of relief – there’s a place for all of them, I won’t see Cesc as an ‘enemy’ of Thiago’s development anymore.

    Last but not least, the sheer joy he’s had so far, on the pitch, in the training sessions, with his good old friends Piqué, Puyol and Messi (also with the rest of the team) – how can you not like him? 😀
    It’s almost heartrending to see how passionate Cesc was about this move.

    Combine these points with his debut; and the fact that another Spanish club spent about 15m more on a striker (who is more of a pure central striker,not a playing forward) or English clubs 9m less on unproven defenders (Phil Jones or Jordan Henderson *cough*) even makes the transfer fee a quite reasonable one!
    Plus, as Euler noted, he (and from my point of view also Sanchez) solve a lot of depth issues – and depth will be even more important this season due to the strike of the AFE.

    All in all, I’m now very happy about the Fab deal and it doesn’t take much until Cesc has won me over completely.

    • mei
      August 19, 2011

      fabregas’ got the biggest smile or what 😛
      and that la liga trophy looks like its come out of game of thrones.

    • FalseNine
      August 19, 2011

      Muniesa is in the official squad photo? Does that mean something, or was he just training with the team when they happened to take the photo? And who’s that in the middle row far left, Soriano? Or is that our Finnish number twelve, Oontaaken?

      • Vj
        August 19, 2011

        I’d like to see Pep give Oontaaken more of a run-out. I really hope he has a nice season like Own Goal had for ManU..

        • FalseNine
          August 19, 2011

          Man, Own Goal. Why can’t we get a player like that? Admittedly, you don’t hear much about his defense.

        • mom4
          August 19, 2011

          You would give Oontaken a run-out before a canterano like Fontas! For shame! 😉

      • mei
        August 19, 2011

        B players Montoya Muniesa and Dos Santos were included.

        • FalseNine
          August 19, 2011

          Oh it’s Montoya, thanks. 🙂

          Is there any significance that they were included but e.g. Bartra wasn’t? I’m guessing not, but it’s always fun trying to read tea leaves, even if there’s really nothing to see.

    • blitzen
      August 19, 2011

      Why does Alexis have his socks rolled all the way up?!? LOL! That boy needs help dressing himself.

      And Puyi couldn’t even shave for the official team picture?

      JDS still looks about 12 to me. And what are these rumours about him going to Espanyol?

      • Miguel
        August 19, 2011

        I heard something about the Pericos wanting to pick up both dos Santos brothers, which would be awesome. It sounds like Espanyol’s Osvaldo might be heading to Roma.

        • nzm
          August 20, 2011

          In the Spanish press, they’re saying Osvaldo’s going to Atletico Madrid.

        • nzm
          August 20, 2011

          Espanyol’s goalie Kameni was meant to be heading to Roma and went there for trials and talks, but then he was back for Espanyol’s pre-season. Not sure what happened.

      • nzm
        August 20, 2011

        He always wears his socks like that – even at Udinese and in the Chilean NT.

        He also did it on the day that he was presented to the press at FCB.

        He must have knobbly knees to hide! 🙂

  27. Miguel
    August 19, 2011

    Awesome job, Linda! I really dug your briefs on Bosman and Bernard on IBWM. Thanks for those!

    As for football playing robots, I think a few of the clubs Josep signed players from on free transfers on Football Manager 2011 are seeking counsel. 😛

    Never wanted another centerback but I did feel Barca needed a #9. After seeing Cesc play in such an advanced position in the Super Copa, though, and after hearing the gravity of Xavi’s achilles problems I’m pretty happy with the deal. It was only a matter of time, anyway.

    So no Liga this weekend?
    http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_15881/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=wZEggT2q

    Bummer.

    • August 19, 2011

      What really worries me is how they’ll compensate for the lost match date.

      Will they push all the matchdates back? That would mean that the December Clasico would potentially be played in January, after the winter break, since we are supposed to be in the Club World Cup in mid-December. Seems to make more sense to just suspend the first matchdate or two to be played at a later date (for us, Malaga and Valencia).

      When will they play the missing matchdate (dates)? Maybe squeeze it in midweek to an already congested schedule for the teams in Europe. Or push it out beyond May, where it could interfere with a club playing the Europa/UCL final, and punish the Spanish national team in terms of preparedness for the 2012 Euro tournament.

      The LFP has already said that they will not consider a 37-round La Liga (thankfully).

      • Miguel
        August 19, 2011

        They’ll squeeze them in somewhere. According to the article I linked to there aren’t any free dates until May, though.

  28. Jim
    August 19, 2011

    Well, this is something at least. From Barcastuff

    “Real Madrid player Casillas called Puyol yesterday to apologize for his behaviour during the clasico. He couldn’t reach Xavi. [tv3 via md]”

    • FalseNine
      August 19, 2011

      Glad to hear this. Presumably he saw Marcelo’s tackle on TV and realized what an idiot he had sounded saying, Oh we fouled someone and they fell down again.

      Would be nice if they discussed the more general tone of aggression, but I’m guessing Iker called only about his own comments. To apologize for the violence in general would be to criticize his own coach, and I doubt we’re having that.

        • FalseNine
          August 19, 2011

          The problem with that solution is it gives the lowlifes more power. Now they can actually make the game stop all by themselves.

          I would suggest the solution involves the players ignoring it on the pitch, the security at the stadiums becoming more proactive, and much more discussion and education (PSAs, talking about it in the press, on TV, etc.) Unfortunately since it’s not just a few ultras, it will involve a bit of a cultural shift. The players and the teams have to keep speaking out, until those fans that are doing it become too embarrassed to continue.

          It’s dispiriting. It does feel like we are being held to a higher standard — the same thing happened in the Bernabeu, after all — but that’s okay by me, since I think a higher standard is exactly what I want my club to live up to.

          • August 19, 2011

            You can’t shame the ignorant, who have the courage of their convictions. So the players walk off, the stadium is cleared, then the match resumes. Does it penalize the many because of the actions of the few? Yes. But perhaps next time, they won’t be silent in the face of such abuse.

            I can’t remember the match now, but one team’s ultras started monkey chanting, and the fans began cheering, loudly enough to drown out the abusive chanting.

          • FalseNine
            August 19, 2011

            What I am afraid of is, if we stop the match and clear the stadium, then the next match, some bunch of clowns who don’t care about the match at all will decide it’s really funny to go, make the noises, and ruin the night for 90,000 other people. Then you’re stuck; the “punishment” that was devised for people who care about watching the game is no punishment for people who are just massive trollers.

            I think changing the culture has to happen, and only more discussion can do that. FCB could definitely take more of a leadership role here.

          • Barcathegreatestever
            August 21, 2011

            With todays technology I would think its a straight forward problem to identify individuals that are racial chanting/ inciting violence. Publicly removing them would be an enormous statement against Mou behaviour, something Pep is struggling with. Most are cowards and would quickly disappear.

        • Dani_el
          August 19, 2011

          They should, all of them. But I think that would earn negative press for the club in Spain, where most of national newspapers are anti-barça. The club should do something about it, it seems complicated, but they should identify them, and quietly dont let them comeback. It’s a difficult situation to deal with. Or maybe a good preventive campaign, saying that if they do that they wont let them come back, soci or no-soci. I don’t know, it seems really complicated to fix.

        • August 19, 2011

          It’s definitely a complicated fix, but generally speaking it has to be said that Barcelona has to be more proactive as a club in fighting it. Perhaps not stop the match, but document the sections and fans that are doing it, and inform them that they will not be welcome at the Camp Nou for a year after the incident.

          Surely, a lot of the ones that are doing it are socis. That should make it easier to identify who is doing this.

        • blitzen
          August 19, 2011

          The players can’t walk off the pitch, unfortunately, unless the situation is actually unsafe. They would be fined and/or suspended for refusing to play. Ultimately the targeted club would end up forfeiting the match, and no one wants that.

          The referee has the power to stop the match until the chants stop, however. This has been done a few times in Italy recently. Generally the rest of the crowd starts chanting and singing to drown the morons out, and eventually even they realize they won’t get to see a football game if they don’t shut up. Unfortunately all the refs in Spain seem to be afflicted with selective deafness where these types of chants are concerned.

          The referee can also make note of racist chants in their match report, which gives the LFP and RFEF the option to open an investigation and fine the club whose fans misbehaved. This rarely happens.

          • August 19, 2011

            It wouldn’t take much for the players to collectively collude to present the Liga (or any other league) with the contention that an unsafe situation, due to the building fervor of the chanting, was present and thus, the players thought it best to withdraw until such time as it was again safe to play. Then you send the two captains to explain it to the referee. Ding! Done.

            The captains can also demand that the referee make reference to any such nastiness in the official match report.

  29. Vj
    August 19, 2011

    I got won over by the pictures of his first training session. If someone pulls on the blue and red, its very hard for me not to like him..

  30. Vj
    August 19, 2011

    Watching the US tour on Barca TV now. Busi teaching the dolphins how to dive. #cheapshot

  31. FalseNine
    August 19, 2011

    Off topic, I’m hearing a lot about Chelsea signing Juan Mata. Wasn’t he supposed to be Arsenal’s fallback buy in case Cesc (and/or Nasri) left? Did the Cesc money just go into a big pile? Or do they sew it inside Arsene’s winter coat to keep him warm and toasty throughout the long, cold winter?

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      August 19, 2011

      I think the problem with Juan Mata is Arsenal refused to pay what Valencia is asking for. (heheh. can you smell the irony?)

      Liverpool bid Mata higher and got rejected. why should they accept Arsenal bid then, this is not one buyer market like Cesc’s case.

      now Chelsea came and surely they are willing to pay higher than Arsenal. IF the rumors are true.

    • blitzen
      August 19, 2011

      NOOOOOOOO!!!!!! NOT CHELSEA!!!!!!! 🙁

      Arsenal or Liverpool I could have lived with, but Chelsea? Why, Mata?!?

      • BarcaGirl_Indo
        August 19, 2011

        the best ending for me is Mata stay at Valencia 😛

      • Nav
        August 19, 2011

        Well… Chelsea may be a different beast this year with the new coach.

      • Ryan
        August 20, 2011

        Argh, if Chelsea keeps signing Spanish players I might have to start not hating them. :/

    • The__K__Man
      August 19, 2011

      Arsene is buying some 16 year-old Peruvian player. Is that guy delusional or what?

  32. mei
    August 19, 2011

    Kxevin , with all due respect what you are proposing is at least not necessary.Dubious it will have any effect and can be used counterproductively.

    Want to try something bold and send a clear message?

    All stadiums nowadays are filled with cameras.
    Also all stadiums require identification so to enter.

    Pick 10 of those idiots , ban them forever from camp nou, report them to the uefa so to be banned forever from every stadium.

    Post this to every news outlet you have influence to, plus on the official site.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      August 19, 2011

      let say they find 10 of those racists, there are still 1000 more around the stadium.

      but I agree with you, at least the club can try to send a clear message to show that they want to do something about this.

    • Nav
      August 19, 2011

      I whole heartedly agree with this. With the state of modern technology there’s no reason why cameras can’t be installed that pick up the fans with the racist chants and ban them for life. The federation can mandate that this happens over the next season or you’re out of the Primera or points docked or whatever. And I don’t agree with doing this to 10 people — I think it should be done to everyone.

    • August 20, 2011

      I’ve been to 2 games in Camp Nou no one for my ID you just show your ticket and you enter 🙂 I must also say that I didn’t hear any racist chanting either but the stadium is indeed huge. This could stop if players at all clubs do smth. for example the players that became aware fo this should stop play so that these idiots feel the SHAME of the rest 91.999 people looking down on them and booing them and start doing a bit soul searching.
      For example I doubt that bilbao fan from the copa has thrown anything at a football player again

  33. BarcaGirl_Indo
    August 19, 2011

    if you watch Allas video “Alves defending vs Real Mad**d”,
    you can hear it clearly the monkey chant when Marceloa held the ball.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiXMEtTkBso
    from 01:21 – 01:23

    God, it was extremely disgusting and painful to hear.
    and it is from the same crowd who gave a standing ovation to Abidal when he come in to the pitch after surgery.

    I have no idea how to stop this.
    but I agree with Blitzen that the referee has the power to stop the match.

    • blitzen
      August 19, 2011

      I also believe strongly that it is up to the clubs to instruct their security to police this behaviour. Clear out the sections where the chants are coming from and do it every time it happens. Some innocent people may get caught up in the clearances…and so maybe next time they won’t sit quietly by and let it happen. If they report it to stadium security, they can be part of the solution.

      • BarcaGirl_Indo
        August 19, 2011

        and the question in my head is, do Spanish clubs concern about this? do they actually care and try to find solution?

        I’m not talking about Barcelona only, but spanish clubs and spanish football federation.

        racist chants is like a habit in Spain, how shameful.

    • Lou
      August 19, 2011

      I wonder if you could do a sort of public shaming.

      Like have a website that posts pictures of people waving bananas or doing monkey impersonations. It would be sort of like when they post thumbnail pictures of the faces of people looting during riots.

      I suspect people do monkey chants at these kind of events because they feel secure in a group. But they won’t like it if there is a picture of them (easily tweeted) that their friends, neighbours can see.

      There are probably privacy law complications that I’m not thinking of. But this kind of publicity might make people think twice about participating and it would put pressure on the clubs to act. (Cause heaven knows LFP won’t).

      • Nav
        August 19, 2011

        This is a [b]really[/b] good idea. I could help set something up but I’m moving soon so I don’t have the time to lead it. If someone wants to go ahead leading it I can see how much help I could provide.

      • nzm
        August 20, 2011

        The only issue with this is that, if it gains traction, you could have team fans dressing in opposition fan gear to make offensive and rascist gestures, just to put their enemy teams and fans into a bad light.

    • Ryan
      August 20, 2011

      I was recording the game too when the monkey chants started. 🙁

  34. BarcaGirl_Indo
    August 19, 2011

    it’s a painful fact that since Mou arrived, people (neutral fans) don’t talk about football anymore after El Clasico.

    it’s all about kicking, stomping, punching, slapping, choking, poking in the eye, racist accusation, brawl, tall grass, ballboy, referee, bribing, diving, acting, etc.

    and no, this is not “good vs evil”, both clubs is swimming in the dirty mud created by Jose.

    • August 19, 2011

      You know, always for a split second, I feel offended by these posts. Jose is such a common name! 😛

      That being said, this is the first time when the stupidity and crap has reached such a level that I have made a strong concerted effort to look past all the bovine stercus and empathize with the other side. And they have a lot of good points to make. Read Bassam’s most recent comment at the RMFB. Some of the things he says are misguided (presumably because of not watching the actual press conferences and getting info second-hand), but some of it is also earnest complaints on the behavior of Barcelona over the last few months. And other comments on that site make good points. You just, unfortunately, have to wade through a lot of sewage to find some gold nuggets.

      Don’t get me wrong. I really wish from now on to focus on the football and forget about the tertiary crap that two seasons ago was far less prevalent than it is now. But if anything, for me, this discussion has given me a good feel for the “injustices” that RM fans have felt against them these last few years. So that’s one redeeming quality about it.

      Otherwise, yeah, dirty mud.

      • BarcaGirl_Indo
        August 19, 2011

        I used “Jose” deliberately to “invite” you in this conversation. 😆

        we complained about their behaviour, they complained about our behaviour. we hate their club, they hate our club.

        it’s just a dirty mud and alomost everyone jump into it.

        but I strongly believe this kind madness wouldn’t happen if they have a respectful coach like Del Bosque.

        that’s why most journalist said Pique has a point when he said Jose 😛 wrecking the spanish football. unfortunately we fell into his trap too.

        • August 19, 2011

          I agree with the fact that Mourinho holds a lot of the blame for the current situation. And Barcelona has jumped eagerly into his taunts, and Real Madrid backs him because they have to. Like I said, you didn’t see any of this nonsense under Pellegrini, or the previous coaches of the Guardiola era.

          Also, as far as the Pique comments go, I have looked hard and only found video of his comments to the press afterward. He was asked whether the players of Real Madrid are to blame for the brawl. He said that no, they weren’t, that he had interacted with many of them before in the national squad and that they are all of them beautiful (on the inside, he means when he says “bellisimas”) people. He continued, “but Mourinho has spent his time at Madrid charging (“cargando”, as in adding gun powder onto the explosives) Spanish football.” This echoes what Dani Alves said that the players of Real Madrid aren’t to blame for the continually escalating tension and mutual hatred between the players.

          • BarcaGirl_Indo
            August 19, 2011

            yes, from the article I read, Pique said that Madrid players actually are brilliant/amazing/beautiful(?) people.

            he also mentioned that these kind of things never happened before, not even when they lost 2-6 at Bernabeu.

            well, at least Mou’s presence will give them an extra motivation to beat Madrid again, no? that’s the only positive thing I can think of.

          • nzm
            August 20, 2011

            Apparently, Pique also approached Mourinho when the brawl was on, and said something to the effect of, “Do you see what’s happening? This is all because of you.” I think that it was after what Mou did to Tito, because I can see Pique looking at Mourinho after that event.

  35. blitzen
    August 19, 2011

    I just read this on a madridista blog:

    according to sources in Madrid consulted by AS, Pep Guardiola went up to Madrid’s bench after one of the goals and shouted, “you’re a fucking gang” three times.

    This is the most ridiculous thing I have read about the game so far. Say what now??? 😆

    • August 19, 2011

      Yeah, that is ridiculous. Although to be honest, the false rumors about David Villa insulting Ozil’s religion has single-handedly burned me out over any of the levity that I could attach to this discussion.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      August 19, 2011

      I read that too, from a comment on totalbarca.

      they said Messi gave a hand gesture to Mou and Pep insulted Madrid bench. it came from As of course.

      like I said above, people don’t talk about football anymore. :roll:

        • BarcaGirl_Indo
          August 19, 2011

          ah, so that’s the hand gesture they’re talking about.

          but I agree with Jose, it’s nothing compare to the accusation about Villa insulting Ozil’s religion.

          Messi hand gesture will annoy Madrid fans, but false rumor about Villa made him a public enemy amongst muslims, including misguided muslim cules.

          • August 19, 2011

            I see, BarcaGirl_Indo (BGI? BI? We need a shorter name for you 😛 ), though I didn’t mean to compare the incidents. There were just as many cules the last few days accusing Mourinho of kicking Cesc, on what was always flimsy video evidence. I just really want the situation to be defused and if it is to be discussed, for it to be discussed based on what we can know. Which, for all the cameras at the incident and all the words spoken afterwards, is not everything.

          • BarcaGirl_Indo
            August 19, 2011

            you can call me Nanda 😛

            or maybe I should just change my username so you guys can call me with shorter name 😀

          • blitzen
            August 19, 2011

            Well, it certainly wasn’t polite, was it? 😛

            However, it was nothing compared to the kind of things American handegg and bouncieball players do after scoring.

          • Nav
            August 19, 2011

            No but Messi doesn’t have to be ‘polite’ during the game. I don’t expect EE’s players to be polite either. It’s a game and it’s a rivalry with politics fueling it, it’s never going to be a clean game. Messi’s actions are very normal, if not tame. If that’s all Madrid’s players did then we’d have a couple of amazing games.

          • August 20, 2011

            I agree totaly with you Nav. Messi did nothing rude. He just did the blahblah handshake for God’s sake! and from all we know (actually some reportes say that) he could be replying to provocations from the m*drid bench. What’s next they will say he was provoking them by scoring goals?

    • FalseNine
      August 19, 2011

      What’s funny to me is how the same Madridistas who keep telling us that all of Mourinho’s insults and bad behavior are not a big deal, get then furious at alleged insults and bad behavior directed towards their side.

      It’s not the first time I’ve seen people on the internet unable to decide between “We didn’t do it” and “OMG you guys did it too!!!” 😀

      This is the pattern now: whenever Mou and his thugs do something reprehensible publicly, Barça gets accused of doing something that can’t be proven. Distract, distract, distract, until the casual observer who can’t be bothered to sort through the truth of whether UNICEF insulted Ozil’s mother just throws up their hands and says a pox on both your houses, and the Madrid persecution complex just swells and swells to even more massive size.

      • August 19, 2011

        We have our contradictions too. We lay the blame on their feet for exploding the situation, but it was the Barcelona bench that reacted fiercely to Marcelo’s tackle, much against the efforts of Pep Guardiola to keep them in their seat (hopefully they get reprimanded heavily by Pep for doing so).

        And I doubt that it’s a purposeful muddying of the waters on their part.

        • mohit
          August 19, 2011

          I agree we have our shortcomings. But our bench didn’t react until they saw Mourinho come close to Fabregas. That’s when Tito jumped in and the rest followed. Also, the final whistle was about to blow off and all our players were close to the touchline for celebration and Marcelo decides to foul right there. Can’t expect the bench to not get provoked so easily.

        • August 20, 2011

          These are people they are not robots! When you see a tackle like that it’s only natural to react! And its not that someone hit Marcelo or anything. These reactions happen ALL THE TIME yet a coach sticking a finger in another coach’s is something I have never ever seen before!

    • culegirl3
      August 20, 2011

      I read the entire post from that particular blog. Used to enjoy reading her posts but now when they have anything to do with Barcelona, they’ve become ridiculous to say the least.

      Prime example of a once reasonable blogger being sucked into the world of irrationality, delusion, and self righteousness..no one is safe from the craziness that is Mou!

      • blitzen
        August 20, 2011

        I know. I used to enjoy that blog a lot, but the owner has become increasingly bitter and irrational. I rarely even go there anymore.

  36. August 19, 2011

    http://youtu.be/jg3jeJqGnPQ

    Narrator: “There was a time when Mourinho stepped out of the bus and nobody insulted him. There was a time when Mourinho sat down at the Barca bench in Robson’s shadow and nobody paid attention to him. But on the 24th of November in 1996, the man changed. That night, he drank at the fountain of a provocateur. Luis Fernandez showed him the way.

    Luis Fernandez: “I speak to Mr. Robson, but the second guy, I don’t know him. I don’t know who he is. And I don’t know where he is from.”

    Jose Mourinho: “Never have I heated up anything, never absolutely anything.”

    Luis Fernandez: “Here in San Mames [Athletic Club’s stadium], the bench is very close. He should sit down, and stay put, that’s all I can say to him.”

    Jose Mourinho: “Clearly. Clearly. He stayed in his seat.” [Can’t understand the rest.]

    Explanation

    Narrator: “On that day, the teacher tried to eat the student [meaning, tried to shout him into submission]. The expert Mourinho even sat back in the bench. But something happened in Mourinho’s head and suddenly he threatened [Fernandez] with his finger. For the first time, he raised his voice in a stadium and never again would he be quiet. Guess who came to the Portuguese man’s defense afterwards? Even back then Pep Guardiola was an apprentice in philosophy.”

    • August 19, 2011

      Basically, 15 years ago, Mourinho was an assistant to Bobby Robson. For some reason, the Athletic Club coach Fernandez (a very aggressive man) got in a confrontation with Mourinho, who back then was much more mild-mannered. After the confrontation, Pep Guardiola came up to Fernandez near the tunnel to defend his coach’s assistant.

      • BarcaGirl_Indo
        August 19, 2011

        Wow, really, wow.

        The Curious Case of Jose Mourinho.

  37. BarcaGirl_Indo
    August 19, 2011

    okay, back to the topic 😀

    Cesc Fábregas is the best midfielder the Premier League has seen

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2011/aug/19/cesc-fabregas-arsenal-midfielder-barcelona

    When Cesc Fábregas left Arsenal for Barcelona this week the Premier League lost the finest midfielder ever to play in English football: discuss.

    what do you guys think about that?
    I don’t think he’s the best midfielder in EPL has EVER seen (that’s too far for me), but for me he is the best midfielder in EPL for recent years.

    and we got him for 29m euros cash. ha! 😀

    • blitzen
      August 19, 2011

      Fabregas is no Scholes. 😀

      But he’s a good ‘un, and he’s still young and will get even better. And now he’s ours.

    • outerspacedout
      August 20, 2011

      The EPL has been only from 1992 to the present day, so Fabregas does have a good shout.

      Who else has played in the top division between 1992 and now? Matt Le Tissier, Scholes, Vieira? I don’t rate Gerrard or Lampard that much, and the likes of Giggs and Pires were wingers. Fabregas is up there in the top few from the Premier League era I would guess.

      Ps. Reading the article after I’d written that bit, I see they mention in ALL of English football, not just the Premier League era. The oh-the-greatest English league in all of its history, they say, has never had a midfielder as good as someone who won’t even be starting for us?

      I do think that’s stretching it, but when I do think about legendary midfielders of olden times (Platini, Zico, Matthaus, Rivelino, Socrates, Laudrup, Zidane, Redondo, Rivera?) almost none of them played in the English league. Not a league exactly historically known for legendary midfielders is it?

      • blitzen
        August 20, 2011

        Oh, I forgot Le Tiss! Legend, that man. And another one of Xavi’s heroes.

  38. August 19, 2011

    Man, Chelsea is serious about this improvement stuff. First Lukaku, then Mata and word is they’re going to get Modric, as well. And there’s Arsenal, doing nothing. Wonder if we paid them in pennies, so they’re still counting out the 29m?

    • August 19, 2011

      The key is the ages of the signings. Quality all under the age of 25. This is both strengthening and looking to the future, as opposed to buying established quality at their prime, as the Financial Fair Play comes into affect next season.

      AVB is making smart moves in this transfer window and is really properly utilizing Chelsea’s spending power.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      August 19, 2011

      no wonder why Cesc said he felt ‘stagnated’ at Arsenal.

      last year, Arsenal was behind Manu, Chelsea, and City.
      now those teams (plus Liverpool) has improved their team, while Arsenal is going backward at this moment.

      I don’t know what’s gonna happen to them if they don’t buy Cesc replacement, summer transfer will be closed in 11 days. the clock is tickling.

  39. August 19, 2011

    There was a most excellent discussion between Euler and adopted cule (Welcome!) near the end of the last thread which is worth checking out.

    • Dani_el
      August 20, 2011

      Thank you Kari for reminding us about it. About your rant I thrown a response, just in case I’ll post it here too:

      Agree.
      I prefer a thousand times (and this a personal opinion) a player who embellishes to protect himself (if the player who fouls takes a yellow card he will think twice before making another agressive entry) than a player who sistematically makes fouls, and some times to injure a player, I’ve just seen a video from Figo, who fouled a football player in 2005 and five, and ended his career. I’m just beginning to realize, that Madrid has a mediatic cover for their wrongs in the fields, years ago. (In that game Figo wasnt even send out)

    • Vj
      August 20, 2011

      Your ‘rant’ is worthy enough for a separate post. It was Messi..

  40. blitzen
    August 19, 2011

    Wonderful video of Michael Laudrup from Pies:

    http://www.whoateallthepies.tv/videos/83268/vision-and-finesse-michael-laudrup-video.html

    Pay special attention at the 4:36 and 6:45 marks.

    Laudrup played well before I was interested in FCB and also before streaming video, but he is still one of my favourite players of all time. From everything I have seen/heard/read about him, I see him as a cross between Iniesta and Zidane. He is one of the “lost” who went to Madrid, but I don’t blame him for it. He is not Catalan, or even Spanish, and it was mostly Cruyff’s fault he left anyway. One of the best midfielders of all time, no doubt about it.

    • Xingxian
      August 20, 2011

      Blitzen, please explain about Cruyff/Laudruff?
      Have read/heard some quotes on them, some of them from Cruyff himself. All I know is that it seems like at least one point Cruyff felt like Laudrup didn’t train hard enough. How much was that related to Laudrup leaving?

      • blitzen
        August 20, 2011

        My understanding is that there was a bit of a personality clash to begin with, then after the club brought in Romario in 1993, Laudrup started to feel marginalized. Cruyff started leaving him out of the starting lineups and Laudrup made his displeasure known. They sort of mutually agreed that he should go.

  41. Blau-Grenade
    August 19, 2011

    Welcome Cesc. A big fan of yours.

    There is no price you can put on a transfer like this. It signifies the continuity of a system, that makes Barca what it is. And that system is built around the midfield nucleus, that circulate the ball very quickly. There are lots of other aspects to the system, but without the nucleus, everything else falls apart. The first leg of SuperCopa is the example of what happens when the types of players like Xavi, Busquets are missing. Then we rely on individual quality to win games, and that is not the kind of games I enjoy, or watch, or that signify the Barca I love.

    A lot of people on this blog, including key bloggers have given me bile regarding Cesc. Glad to see them turn a page.

  42. The__K__Man
    August 19, 2011

    Just a note for the future guys: Let’s not EVER again say we don’t care about a Clasico because it’s in a minor cup. It’s clear we all cared before, during and after the game.
    It’s clear how Pep was jumping up and down after Messi’s goal as if he’s witnessing Iniesta’s Stamford Bridge goal all over again.
    When it comes to Clasicos, it’s always going to be like that!

    • blitzen
      August 19, 2011

      It’s not the cup itself I cared about–if we had played against Getafe for example, I wouldn’t have been so bothered. We may have won a minor cup, but we have also won a major psychological victory. Madrid has a strong, fit, improved team–and they couldn’t beat a tired, undertrained Barça. That’s huge.

  43. August 19, 2011

    Chelsea desperately need wide player, particularly ones that can add creativity. As long as Lampard plays in midfield they are limited to getting creativity from the other two midfielders. If they play a deep player like Mikel, that means that all of their creativity has to come from that third midfielder.

    This is why they absolutely need a player like Modric.

    But even if they get Modric they still need more creativity on the flanks due to the limitations of their other two midfielders.

    This is why they wanted Alexis Sanchez so badly.

    The way Porto played, their wide forwards were always looking to cut. AVB is probably going to want to put together the same set up at Chelsea – but he doesn’t have the player to really do it right now.

    For the life of me, I really don’t understand why they didn’t make a huge push for Aguero.

    But missing out on Sanchez, Mata makes sense for them. He’s an excellent passer and is also obviously comfortable playing in the middle so he can pull in wide centrally.

    The question with him is whether he will be enough of a goal scoring threat.

    There were all of those reports about Mata and that clause in his contract where he could be purchased for 21M or so which expired, etc.

    I just find that hard to believe – all teams passed and then the clause expired and now he’s going to be sold for much more? That sounds like someone at Valencia or Mata’s camp leaked that information to test the water on interest in the player.

    Finally one last thing – it is truly amazing that Chelsea will pay more in up front cash for Mata then Barca did for Sanchez. Just can’t get over that.

    Sanchez is a much, much better player than Mata (not a knock on Mata – he’s just not on Sanchez’ level)

    But this starkly shows how powerful the impact of demand is. Valencia was able to play Mata into an auction. Sanchez by demanding on Barca and refusing far more money took most of the leverage away from Udinese.

    • messifan
      August 19, 2011

      Yep, that’s a different between a monopoly and a monopsony 🙂

    • Ryan
      August 20, 2011

      Mata did have that pretty awesome move he did on Arbeloa (I think?) in a 2010 World Cup practice though. 😀

    • nzm
      August 20, 2011

      Plus Mata is still young at 23 – it’s a good choice behind Sanchez.

  44. messifan
    August 19, 2011

    Great article Linda! And Euler’s piece was also very insightful and fun to read. BFB has awesome writers and I just want to say that I really enjoy reading these entries 🙂

    On Cesc: I didn’t care that much about his arrival either but from what I’ve seen of him thus far, he’s winning me over too. And I’m very excited to see what he can do and also looking forward to seeing Alexis play. I think Barca can improve immensely with the arrival of these two players and what we have from La Masia.

    A few thoughts from the last game: I hope that Pep will have a chat with our players. Yes, that was a brutal challenge, but we shouldn’t overreact like that (looking at you Villa and Pinto). Second, it’s disappointing that fans in Spain are not taking racism seriously. I think Barca has an opportunity here to take a tougher stand on this issue. Third, like Pep said, there’s only so much that Barca can do to prevent clashes from happening and I sure hope that Madrid will control their players’ actions too (though I don’t think Mou will do anything to prevent situations like that from happening in the future). Wishful thinking perhaps?

    OT: I have a feeling that unity in the Spanish national team might be broken.
    And seriously, La Liga needs to get its act together. Players not getting paid and half of the first division clubs are on the verge of bankruptcy. In the long run, this will be very damaging to the competitive nature of the league and the ability for Spanish teams to compete in Europe. Personally, it’s more than TV money that is at the heart of the problem. I think the organization of the league and the mismanagement of individual clubs are slowly ruining the league. If they want to compete with the EPL or Bundesliga, they need to revamp the structure. Take a tougher stand on issues like racism, clubs’ misconduct, etc… In reality though, it’s more challenging to transform something overnight, but I hope the league will start the process of reforming because if not, they are gradually ruining Spanish football. Last thought, I wish all Spanish clubs to do well in Europe this year in order to increase the coefficient. La liga has the two biggest clubs in the world but teams below are also playing entertaining football and I just want everyone to like Spanish football like I do.

    • outerspacedout
      August 19, 2011

      I find it really funny/weird that he retweeted a message by someone telling him ‘@SamiKhediraReal you are jackie chan, you’re better than jackie chan, Just ask Abidal. Verlierer!!’

    • outerspacedout
      August 20, 2011

      Khedira has also confirmed not just that the source was fake but that it did not happen.

      @SamiKhediraReal Sami Khedira
      Mesut Ozil’s religion was not insulted by David Villa. bit.ly/o6W3fp #REALMADRID #SAMIKHEDIRA

      cc: Nanda, Diego, etc.

  45. Humphrey Bogart
    August 20, 2011

    It is already too late. It is all over the internet: DAvid Villa is a insulter of islam. As a German I also attend the german football blogs and was fighting a lonely fight there, bringing arguments, pointing out that there are no sources, linking the things from barcastuff, to no avail, In Germany now Özil did defend his religion against Villa.

    And like somebody pointed out for us this might be a minor talking point but in countries where religion has a bigger importance this could become a real problem.

    the club should make an official statement to say what happened and what not not only to proctect itself, but even more the player

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      August 20, 2011

      it is too late, I agree. David Villa is an insulter of Islam, and there’s nothing you can do to change people’s mind, unless maybe Mesut Ozil/Real Madrid come out and make an official statement. that’s the only way.

      And like somebody pointed out for us this might be a minor talking point but in countries where religion has a bigger importance this could become a real problem.

      true. I understand that in many countries, religion is a minor talking point. well, it’s not the same in my country.

  46. barca96
    August 20, 2011

    Why does Alexis have his socks rolled all the way up?!? LOL! That boy needs help dressing himself.

    I already suspected that he has no fashion sense at all ever since I saw his dressing style for the presentation on the 1st day. He really looks like a country boy 🙂

  47. barca96
    August 20, 2011

    Guys a few days ago there was a photo of the fracas at the end of the match showing Kaka just standing there far far away. I don’t remember where I saw it. If somebody has a link, please share it with me.

    And did Gerry Armstrong and Guillem have a post match video or not?
    Would love to hear their take on the match and the drama.

    Where is Jnice?

    • barca96
      August 20, 2011

      Sorry. The Pepe pushing incident happened at 1.05min. I think it was Keita. Strange that Pepe didn’t react violently and I didn’t expect Keita to be that strong 😆

    • culegirl3
      August 20, 2011

      The video is a play by play of the fight.

      I think it might have been Keita who pushed Pepe but it happens so fast it’s hard to be sure. It looks like Messi was trying to help Cesc up while he was being trampled. Iniesta, Villa, Mascherano, and Busquets saw what the useless one did to Tito so they get more riled up and the melee continues. Commentator says Pepe tried to force Cesc to get up and in the middle of the spectacle Cesc gets stepped on. The commentator says Ozil bumped into Valdes and that caused Villa to push Ozil, Ozil pushed back, and Villa slaps Ozil and more drama starts.

      • barca96
        August 20, 2011

        Thanks for the Kaka photo!
        Kaka was wondering his luck. Finally he got some minutes but then his team mates get into a brawl. He probably didn’t even break a sweat.

        It was definitely Keita who pushed Pepe.
        This video is clearer and doesn’t lag.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uB2O7iH9bVE

        Pause at 1.17min. It was definitely Keita.
        And you are right. Pepe tried to pull Cesc up.
        That is why Keita pushed him away.
        But I am really surprised that Pepe didn’t retaliate.

  48. outerspacedout
    August 20, 2011

    I laughed at this comment on that Fabregas best midfielder to have played in the English league article that someone posted.

    Cesc, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Fab-reg-gas: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Fab. Re. Gas.. He was Fran, plain Fran, in the morning, standing five feet ten in one sock. He was Fabregas at the training ground. But in my arms he was always Cesc.

    • K_legit
      August 20, 2011

      That’s from Lolita..one of my most favourite books of all time

      Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.

      • outerspacedout
        August 20, 2011

        Yeah I know, it’s also one of my all time favorites. That’s why I found the comment funny, it was funny considering the whole Wenger covets Fabregas ‘I love him and he will stay’ etc all that stuff.

  49. Humphrey Bogart
    August 20, 2011

    Has anybody information regarding the following:

    apparently El Mundo has run a story in which they say that Pep insulted the Real Madrid bench (before the Marcelo incident) and Tito as well. I find that very hard to believe, even more so as El Mundo has the same publisher as Marca.

    Can anyone shed any light on this?

    • mei
      August 20, 2011

      Dont you have anything better to spend your time with?

      Four days after the game and still talking about the shit madrid spreads to the press instead of the football we kicked their asses with.

      • Humphrey Bogart
        August 20, 2011

        Actually El Mundo is after El Pais the most respected newspaper in Spain, and that is the reason why I am so interested to know more abot

        • August 20, 2011

          Looked it up. It isn’t a report by El Mundo, per se, but a blog post by one of the bloggers at El Mundo’s online site. I haven’t heard of such an incident elsewhere, and the writer doesn’t really give sources.

          Also, the whole piece in general is purposefully trying to paint Guardiola in a bad light, referring to the “puto jefe” press conference as “the most petulant press conference in the history of the Bernabeu”. A simple report on facts this is not, so take it in that context.

          http://www.elmundo.es/blogs/deportes/championstar/2011/08/19/pep-y-el-cordon-sanitario.html

          • Humphrey Bogart
            August 20, 2011

            Thanks Jose,

            That is what I suspected, as it was nowwhere in the other media, but good to have a confirmation

    • privateeye
      August 20, 2011

      Apparently Pep said you are a fucking gang. I think he wwas referring to the Barca team than RM. He has used similar sounding phrases before. Whenever the team does something extraordinary he celebrates in a similar fashion. It is against his normal behaviour to say something to the opposite bench in a live match. It is more a Mourinho phenomenon.

  50. Ryan
    August 20, 2011

    Just came back from a trip to Tarragona – it’s always fun to watch the castellers. 😀

    I’ve always been a big fan of Cesc, but didn’t think he’d return to Barca until his Arsenal contract was near expiration. I love his impact on the Spanish NT though, his jersey is the one I wore for WC2010. He was such a great sub in 2008 that he was even listed on the team of the tournament!

    OT: will Valencia even have time to replace Mata if he goes to Chelsea? I really hope they don’t just use the money to cover their debt and what’s happening with their future stadium.

    • outerspacedout
      August 20, 2011

      They do have a bunch of great attacking alternatives even aside from Mata- Piatti and Parejo were brought in this transfer window to add to an already very deep squad in terms of attacking options- but I would love them to remain intact and see all that talent play with Mata and Banega, not in place of one of the two who gets sold.

      • Ryan
        August 20, 2011

        Same here – maintaining the same strength as last year won’t guarantee their third place. Malaga has strengthened considerably and Villarreal kept both Rossi and Nilmar.

        • nzm
          August 20, 2011

          If Villareal don’t win their Champions League qualification, they may lose one or both, as those players will want big-game time.

          • Ryan
            August 20, 2011

            A 1-0 deficit at home shouldn’t be too hard for them to overcome, hopefully!

  51. August 20, 2011

    Fascinating article on football (!) from El Pais today.

    http://www.elpais.com/articulo/deportes/Coentrao/vertigo/elpepidep/20110820elpepidep_2/Tes

    In Spanish, but the gist is that a) some of Madrid’s players are upset with Mourinho’s use of Coentrao as a central midfielder instead of a winger, believing it cost them the match, b) these players are happy with Mou’s defensive plan and c) take issue with Mourinho’s attacking instructions.

    I will translate some of the last two paragraphs, which focus on the second and third points, let me know if anybody is interested in the first. Again, these are from El Pais, and the article is written based off of an unattributed source in the Real Madrid squad.

    Before the home leg, Mourinho had doubts about Barca’s physical conditioning. Seeing that their rival could not handle the rhythm of the match, the coach ordered his players to press higher than ever before at the Camp Nou. To that point, the plan was perfect. Problems started when Madrid actually got the ball. “We were too sparse in the attack,” said a Madrid player, “Mourinho (el mister) told us to elaborate our attacks as little as possible. But we should have made more touches, looking for the inside pass and run less across the flanks. In the home leg, our chances came from crosses into the center. Of the four goals we scored against Barca, the only one that didn’t come from a corner was Ozil’s at the Bernabeu. And that’s because we always got ahead of ourselves (precipitamos), not because we lacked quality.”

    Mourinho has demanded that his teams finish their plays ever since he arrived at Madrid. Against Barca, that demand is particularly extreme (demanding) because Guardiola’s team is especially dangerous for its capacity for team defense and for the speed of its linkup play. With long balls, divided, begun by Casillas goal kicks and with attacking plays usually having less than four passes, Mourinho is trying to avoid losses of possession that compromise the defensive organization and facilitates the Barca counterattack. With the ball, Mourinho has asked his players to be vertical, synthetic. Without the ball, he commanded them to be “hard”. As in the Copa del Rey, in the Supercopa Mourinho reminded his team that Spanish refs fold easy (literally, “get wrinkled). That, when it comes to Madrid, they are late with the first yellow card. And, only with great difficulty, do they send off.

    • August 20, 2011

      Actually, precipitamos is better translated as we rushed in.

      • Humphrey Bogart
        August 20, 2011

        My spanish is not that good, so I would also be interested in the first part.

      • Barcaleya
        August 20, 2011

        Please give us translation of the first part too, Jose.

        Thanks very much. Really appreciate this. Nice to read something from their perspective of their own play.

      • August 20, 2011

        The first part is much longer, so I’ll translate the paragraphs that have the bulk of the quotes. The other paragraphs reiterate these points, and give some statistical backing.

        “The change of Coentrao to a central midfielder, in place of Khedira, was a gift to Barcelona”, commented a member of the Camp Nou expedition. “In central midfield, Coentrao gets lost, as much in attack as in defense,” said a squadmate. “Making him play there is a problem because it is not his place.” A third member of the Madrid squad pointed to what half the squad opines: “In the third goal, Coentrao, who thinks like a winger, just watches Messi when a central midfielder should know to close him down and, if that fails, resort to cutting off the passing lane. It’s not [Coentrap’s] fault. But he just does not grasp the concepts of the position.”

        According to the players interviewed, in the dressing room there is a growing suspicion that Mourinho needed to demonstrate that the 30 million euro invested in the left winger have been well spent. This motivated that, first, Coentrao occupied Marcelo’s place in the wing, a specialty which he himself admitted to being a neophyte in this summer.

        • August 20, 2011

          Please give us translation of the first part too, Jose.

          Yup, that’s me… Jose, siempre el traductor 🙁

  52. barca96
    August 20, 2011

    OMG. Arsenal lost 2-0 to Liverpool at home. Hopefully it is not too late for Wenger to change his mind to sign big name players rather than doing good in the beginning of the season only to falter and the end when it is too late to address the issues.

    I really wish we could sign Vermaelen next season or the season after.
    I always like him. Him being an ex-Ajax player gave him that extra 20%.

    • privateeye
      August 20, 2011

      Really. After Cesc, Hleb, Henry you really want it(winks wickedly)?I mean seriously that team is in tatters. The rock of their defense is Verma and if you remove him they are as good as bust. And the amount of negative press Barca have because of their transfer aggressionS is huge. I hope no more controversial transfers for now.

    • blitzen
      August 20, 2011

      Didn’t watch the game. I don’t know whether to be happy for Liverpool or sad for Arsenal. I like both teams, but I suspect watching Arsenal this year will be painful. Spend some freaking money, Wenger!

  53. blitzen
    August 20, 2011

    Graham Hunter weighs in on Cesc Fabregas:

    If you can find it in your heart to feel sorry for this vastly wealthy young man then the reason to do so is that his development, which admittedly was accelerated at Highbury, has been stunted by Arsenal’s decline and its inability to keep its prize asset, its wonderfully talented captain, properly fit for more than a few weeks at a time in recent years.

    Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/sport/soccer/bench-cesc-thats-a-bit-rich-20110819-1j2hb.html#ixzz1VaEXwf1u

  54. ak
    August 20, 2011

    anyone watched the arsenal liverpool match?
    ignasi miquel made his debut.

    • Vj
      August 20, 2011

      He made a rookie error. When you make a clearance, you do not boot it into an area full of people. You choose an empty space and clobber the ball into that direction.

      At least that’s what I’ve been taught..

      • ak
        August 20, 2011

        Couldn’t watch the match unfortunately. My cable operator decided that besides the ongoing test series, classic cricket matches on cricket channels should take precedence over live football.

  55. August 20, 2011

    But why does he need a defense at all? He was for years the best midfielder in England, he is probably after Xavi and Iniesta the best central midfielder to have, why should there be a defense because we bought him? He played once upon a time in our youth team. Fantastic..but his game is much more direct than just being what he had from us. He grew as a person and as a player in England under Wenger and that’s something we couldn’t have provided him. I mean, really this whole thing about us paying for our own youth player is ridiculously rubbish. We got a great player for a bargain price. Instead of being happy, we still have to argue how that makes sense.

  56. Sheena
    August 20, 2011

    I wonder if there’s ever been a more unlucky team than this Arsenal. The season has barely started and already they’ve lost most of their squad to injury and suspension.

    That match against Liverpool was just a series of unfortunate events. They lost another defender (Koscielny), had a man sent off and scored an own goal. To top all of that off, they’re heading to Old Trafford next.

    I really, really don’t like Arsenal (they rank slightly below the Pericos on my hate list), but you can’t help but feel sorry for them sometimes.

  57. K_legit
    August 20, 2011

    A schadenfreude post might be in order here after the Ignasi Miquel/Aaron Ramsey own goal incident

  58. August 20, 2011

    New post is up about the LFP strike, mostly because this sucker is turning into a monster, but also to answer some questions about why we aren’t seeing footy this weekend.

  59. paxtonpale
    August 22, 2011

    Cesc has come and at a tough time. If he had stayed at Arsenal, he would be putting his depression and arrogance towards Arsenal. I am glad that he has moved simply because the people including I would not like to see another season with the same saga going around that he wants to move. We have got him cheap at around 29 million plus add ons. I hope now that our defense can be strong enough to win another La Liga title and possibly another UEFA Champions League title so that we can get a CB to help us in the future. At the moment Puyol is getting more and more injuries and probably won’t feature much this season. We cannot always rely on Mascherano or Abidal to cover up especially if it is against diificult teams like Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Chelsea e.t.c. I was pleased that he played very well in the SuperCopa on Thursday and I hope him all the best this season and throughout the upcoming days.

Leave a Reply