What will Fabregas mean for us, aka “A big, heaping dose of crow.”

Well, the deal that I didn’t think was going to happen, has happened. And we have lots coming up for you, including Linda waxing eloquent on why this deal rocks, and Euler’s tactical dissertation on what Fabregas will mean for us.

I have something simpler planned, a glancing blow at all of this. It’s also something that I know many looove to see me doing, and that’s eating crow. So here we go.

“We understand Cesc’s desire to move to his home-town club and have now accepted an offer from Barcelona,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. “We have been clear that we didn’t want Cesc to leave and that remains the case. We thank Cesc for his contribution at Arsenal and wish him future success.”

Pep Guardiola, in a press conference after the 2-2 SuperCopa draw with the Evil Empire, said “Cesc grew up in Barcelona, and he became a huge player thanks to Mr Wenger and Arsenal, and now he is a better player than when he left. Now we will try and make him better.”

So now what?

Sandro RoSELL: I may never like him, but I have to admit that he did a kick-ass bit of business with this one. Do I think the price is too high? Yes. But that’s a philosophical argument. In the context of the current transfer market, no matter whose view you take and whose numbers you accept, it’s a helluva buy. Essentially, we got one of the world’s best young playmakers for a price that is almost a bargain (again, in current market context). Mind you, it helps as with Sanchez that we were the only suitor.

Normalized relations: Arsenal is the Premiership club that a great many of our supporters watch, when they aren’t watching the Good Guys. This transfer has brought out the worst in all sides. My fondest hope is now that it’s done, we can get back to that mutual admiration society that both clubs had. I have always, and will always wish Arsenal well, except when they’re playing us.

Yes, Fabregas will sit, and that’s good: Nothing has changed for Fabregas from when he left us, really. It’s still Xavi and Iniesta, the two players that spelled a dire future if he’d stayed, that keep him from starting for his country and will keep him from starting for us. And right now, that’s a good thing. As Arsenal’s captain and talisman, whenever he picked up an injury, a looming big match meant that he had to rush back. Recall the Champions League tie of the infamous “broken leg penalty kick.” He was nursing a hamstring injury, and re-aggravated it against us. The thing about hamstrings is if you don’t let them heal fully and properly, they become an ongoing problem. Playing 20-25 matches a season instead of 50, will be a very good thing. It’s also worth noting that our miracle-working medicos haven’t gotten their hands on him yet.

Pressure is good: Guardiola believes in competition at all positions. This summer, he addressed the last two positions that lack real competition for slots: attacking midfielder and the false 9. Yes, this means you, Xaviniesta and Messi. Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez are world-class talents, who are best at positions presently occupied by talismanic players. No, I don’t see Fabregas or Sanchez displacing Xavi or Messi. But it’s nice that Guardiola has those kinds of talents to put pressure on them to excel.

Pressure is good, rest is better: Xavi played a lot for the club last season, for the simple reason that nobody else could do what he did. That isn’t true any longer. I don’t know what Xavi’s tendons are telling him, but it will be nice to have a viable, world-class option to slot in. Xavi shouldn’t have to play against Sporting Gijon on Sunday, when there’s a Champions League match on Tuesday, never mind the dictates of a Liga that will mean losing a single match could be dire. Suddenly being able to add Fabregas to a mix that includes Thiago and Iniesta (and Afellay, let’s not forget) is a wonderful thing.

Versatility ain’t bad, either: Let’s not forget that Fabregas began life as a DM. At 5’9:, he isn’t going to be the tradional, physical DM, but you can certainly see him adapting to play a Busquets type of defensive midfielder, if called upon. A midfield of Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas (at DM) would probably never give up the ball. It’s a nice option to have.

And then there’s chemistry: Fabregas isn’t the La Masia wunderkind that he was. Thanks to Arsene Wenger and being forged on the anvil of Premiership football, I don’t think I’m out of line in saying that he’s better than he would have been had he stayed with us. But at the same time, we shouldn’t discount that La Masia is in his playing style, and his chemistry with his Spain teammates (as with David Villa) will be of immense help in his adjustment period, which should be about 12 seconds long.

The Guardiola factor: Fabregas learned a lot under Wenger, but let’s not forget that at age 24 he is still growing into his game, and still improving. I suspect that part of the desire to leave was not only to reach that next level (potentially) as a player, but to learn from a coach who has made everyone and everything around him better. I had a debate with someone on Twitter about the absurdity of the notion that Fabregas would learn more from Guardiola than Wenger. But it isn’t in those terms. There’s prep school, and finishing school. I do believe that Guardiola, along with Xavi, can hone Fabregas that last little bit, into a player who will be able to slide directly into that Xaviesque role, keeping it warm for Thiago.

He’s direct: In defending Xavi, I once said that Xavi is the can opener, the guy who makes the pass that sets up the assist. So Xavi’s assist statistics are never all that gaudy, even as his presence on the pitch is devastating to defenses. Fabregas can not only make that can opener pass, but the direct assist, as well. Again, being used to the Premiership style isn’t a bad thing. We also shouldn’t forget that Guardiola has a player in Messi, who will be able to run onto the end of those direct balls. And he bought another one, in Alexis Sanchez. Fabregas will make our style more direct, which isn’t a bad thing.

So yes, I have labeled him Oft-Crocked Glory Hunter, a luxury purchase and political pawn in the electoral battles between Joan Laporta and Sandro RoSELL. I believed his price was too high, and that we were spending almost 40m for a benchwarmer. And now that he is here, and in full consideration of the above, I am eating a bit (okay, a lot) of crow. But if the purchase works out the way that it promises to on paper, I kinda don’t mind at all.

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Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

226 Comments

  1. Artur
    August 14, 2011

    While I HIGHLY doubt Fabregas will take Busquets’s place from the first team I am really looking forward to seeing him function as an extra midfielder with 2 strikers up front (you know it’s gonna happen people). Also really looking forward to a real midfield rotation … Something we could not afford to do for a while now…

    Welcome home, Cesc.

    • barca96
      August 15, 2011

      I wouldn’t want anyone to take Busi’s place incl. sMasch, let alone Keita.

    • Anonymous_69
      August 15, 2011

      You mean Cesc, Xavi, and Iniesta playing at the same time? Unless Iniesta is moved up as an attacker, or Cesc plays DM, it won’t happen.

  2. jaymin
    August 14, 2011

    I still thinks he displaces Xavi within 20 match days. Hamstrings allowing, which I think they shall.

  3. barca96
    August 15, 2011

    Excellent article.

    I also believe that he wants to take it to the next step just like how Xavi, Iniesta, Messi & co. took things to another level after the arrival of Pep.

    Youth team – Primary and High School
    First team – University
    Pep & 1st team – Workforce

    Not a great analogy. Haih.
    Anyways, Pep will make Cesc a better player just like when we thought that Messi couldn’t get any better. Pep will perhaps play Cesc in another position like changing Messi to false 9.

    I also wanted this transfer because Cesc became a tougher player, physically and mentally, same story as Pique and I hope Oriol.
    Now we have one more player who know EPL teams well besides sMasch.

  4. messifan
    August 15, 2011

    I wonder if we’ll use a 3-4-3 formation more this season with cesc, xavi, iniesta, and busquets. It would be fascinating if those four play together along with MVP(S). Do you think Pep will go with a 3-4-3 system?

    • Noslehcimretep
      August 15, 2011

      the “#at=70” is how she did it, it starts the video at whatever time is put after the equals sign.
      When you are posting a link from youtube if you right click the video there should be a “copy video URL at current time” option, very handy and considerate when posting links. Kari is a hero, not that we didn’t already know that.

      • barca96
        August 15, 2011

        Thanks Noslehcimretep.
        That’s an exotic name. Is that your real name?

        The thing about the video is, it didn’t start at 70secs as stated “#at=70″.

        • outerspacedout
          August 15, 2011

          I think its Peter Michelson.

          • Noslehcimretep
            August 15, 2011

            indeed it is, a rather flimsy internet handle but also a common enough name.
            and you’ve stumped me now barca96, on my youtube the link opens and 1:10 which is 70 seconds, and further tests have also confirmed the correlation.

  5. Srini
    August 15, 2011

    With Cesc in the Barca squad, the team now has 10 players in the La Roja squad (or who have been fielded recently). Puyol, Pique, Busi, Iniesta, Xavi, Cesc, Thiago, Villa, Pedro and Valdes. Two words – Golden Generation. Savour your presence in this era, Fellow Cules.

    • mom4
      August 15, 2011

      Two words- international obligations
      I’m gonna hate/fear international breaks even more now!

      But yeah, it’s way cool 🙂

      • Srini
        August 15, 2011

        Flip side indeed, mom4 🙂 – FiFa ViRuS. But still, it must warm the heart of a La Roja Cule.

  6. August 15, 2011

    Cesc is a Barcelona player now. Old page folded. Welcome and good luck.

  7. The__K__Man
    August 15, 2011

    Really excited to see how Pep will improve Cesc. He has made wonders with every player on our squad. Even Valdes improved drastically under Pep’s guidance.

    OT: Can you believe this is written on Madrid’s official site:

    Real Madrid’s pressure close to Valdes’ goal surprised Barcelona, who seemed to marvel at the physical prowess of Mourinho’s men.

    Real Madrid continued their onslaught on Valdes’ goal after half-time, spearheaded by the injustice of fate.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      August 15, 2011

      Real Madrid continued their onslaught on Valdes’ goal after half-time, spearheaded by the injustice of fate.

      LMFAO. bitter.

    • outerspacedout
      August 15, 2011

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA I really needed that laugh. Rough day. That’s brilliant.

    • blitzen
      August 15, 2011

      The writer is practising for a career churning out romance novels. 😛

  8. Anonymous_69
    August 15, 2011

    If Xavi fully steps down to the bench in two seasons, I still think it will be Thiago taking his place in the starting 11. I just can’t get over the idea that we bought a player for almost 40M who will never be an assured starter.

  9. Judas Pissed
    August 15, 2011

    Barca has the best & most complete 1st XI in the world. No one we buy will be an assured starter. What we have now though is a truly world class bench & I for one am very pleased with this.

  10. barca96
    August 15, 2011

    I’m watching the match now.

    -When Benz headed the ball and VV made a superb save, Dive Maria was complaining to the lines man that it went over the line. Really pathetic. I just fell in love with him again during the pre-season and now back to where it was last season.

    -Villa’s goal was really Henry-esque.

    -Abidal was Pique-esque today with those dribbles into Madrid’s half. The only mistake he made was the non-challenge on Benz when he made the assist. Other than that jsut a few poor passes.

    -sMasch made an incredible last ditch tackle on Benz. Alves was so happy 😆

    -Kari can you please make an Iker-face .gif of last night’s match. His reaction was priceless after Messi’s goal.
    “Again this midget scores on me after slaloming my defense!!”

  11. barca96
    August 15, 2011

    2nd half.

    -Alonso should’ve gotten a yellow card just like how Pedro got a yellow for his late challenge last season. Alonso’s sliding tackle was knee high for goodness sake!

    -Sanchez was really good. If Alexis and Pedro could combine and be one player, that would be devastating!!

    -Thiago had an ok match. We can’t expect him to be Xavi guys!! He is an Iniesta-like player. That said, I wish he would play in a more advanced role and take on a few more guys.

    He has a cool head for a young superstar. When there were altercations after Pepe’s man handle on Alves, he was the one who kept things calm.

    He is not a Xavi replacement, Cesc is.

    -Keita was just…and anonymous.

    -sMasch thought that he was still with the Argentina NT with his wild clearances 😆

    -Alves had a good match defensively. Ronaldo couldn’t get past him and that is their main threat and Alves dealt with him.

    -I didn’t find Ronaldo and Ozil good at all in this match. We really have nothing to worry about. On the 60th min. ROnaldo had a volley which was saved and instead of getting up he was posing for the cameras of him PMS’ing while the ball was in play. Now if he got up instead of huffing and puffing, he would’ve definitely be in a better position from the incoming cross. I had to repeat it a few times to 😆

  12. mom4
    August 15, 2011

    OK, I woke up early and couldn’t get back to sleep. Noone else is awake in the house. I have my choice of watching 6 week body adds, the weather channel, cartoons, or the Dow futures, and oh yeah, Shawn T’s there for me if I wanna buy “Insanity”, or playing mindless Facebook games because the TV w/ the DVR would wake people up. But wait, there’s something better? Kxevin eating crow, oh boy! No really, I’m coming around to liking the homecoming too. He should provide many options, Pep’s happy, the twitter BFFs are happy, our whole squad is happy, the price was pretty good, AND IT”S OVER.

    Who can play where, aka the shortestmost versatile squad in La Liga(imho):
    Keeper: VV, Pinto
    Fullbacks: Dani, Abi, Adriano, Maxwell, Puyi and Fontas in a pinch
    CBs: Puyi, Pique, Abi, Mascherano, Fontas, Busi(dear God in Heaven please don’t let this happen often)
    entire right side of the fiels: Alves
    DM: Busi, Mascherano, Cesc, Keita(see note attached to Busi as DM)
    attacking mid: Xaviniesta, Cesc, Thiago, Busi, Keita, 3M, Messi
    Forward: MVP, Alexis, 3M, Cesc(?!), Keita(?), heck,even Maxwell and Dani have done it before too(not my preference)
    Plus a darn good B team if we need some extras!

    Final thought about yesterday’s game. Somehow(thank you VV) we managed a draw against a very well prepared, absurdly deep, improved EE squad.
    -Scary!
    We looked like a team who had been practicing together for about 3 days because we had been practicing together for about 3 days. Can you imagine us: best XI in the world, real honest to goodness impact subs, in good shape because of the vacations Pep insisted upon,and fully integrated new guys in a couple of weeks when they are match fit and fully operational!
    -Terrifying!

  13. outerspacedout
    August 15, 2011

    It was so funny seeing this mehh Barca side without Xavi, Pique, Puyol or Busquets leading 2-1 at the break. And that without barely any training together and with the South Americans (four of the seven starters that played this game) having their first match since coming back, away in the Bernabeu, still drawing 2-2.

    The thing with this side is that our top level of play is in increments, a visible drop for each cog missing in the machine because every starter makes the rest of the eleven that much better. Our starters playing will be enormously and vastly better than this. Not a chance that a 4-2-3-1 Madrid can dominate our first team like they controlled the game yesterday. And if we get a draw even without dominating the game, next leg when I’m certain we will control possession and play I see nothing but a win.

    Also Sanchez really impressed me. He’s strong, he’s fast, his workrate was fantastic, he could beat Marcelo and seems to have the makings of a deadly connection with Messi up front.

    As for Fabregas. We’ll probably be rotating the midfield rather regularly now so all of our mids can stay fresh throughout the season. I also think his direct balls could really benefit us in allowing us to play to Villa’s strengths by just playing him the ball when he looks to make the run. A lot of the time last season we would forego that option, while Iniesta has the ability he very often chooses not to. I think we can see loads of goals by Villa against smaller teams where we would be playing Fabregas and taking the riskier direct ball. Though in big games we would be conservative and recycle possession while waiting for openings.

  14. barca96
    August 15, 2011

    There are not that many people at the stadium, quite surprising considering that he is like the Prince of Catalunya.

    • Jackieboy
      August 15, 2011

      Weird considering it’s a day off today in Spain.

      • mei
        August 15, 2011

        its not sold out , but there are many people there.

    • Ryan
      August 15, 2011

      It’s been really hot out here recently tho!

  15. barca96
    August 15, 2011

    my god. he really looks excited. juggling for almost a minute. and rhen went for another round.

    was hoping pique would make a cameo.

  16. barca96
    August 15, 2011

    Where are the rest of you guys?

    I’m delaying my breaking-fast (eating after fasting for 13hours) to watch the presentation.

    I’m so happy after waiting since 2005 for him to come back. Now it’s complete. I wanted Villa and Cesc, now they’re both here.

    Cesc: “I waited many days, months, years for this moment. I return home after 8 years.”

    Me too!!

    • Jackieboy
      August 15, 2011

      I have to say, as ugly as our kit is this year, Cesc looks pretty good in it.

    • footballfan
      August 15, 2011

      Where did you guys watch the presentation?

      • Jackieboy
        August 15, 2011

        barcastuff posted a couple of stream links.

  17. Calvin
    August 15, 2011

    Put me directly into the “anti-Cesc coming, but actually pretty pleased now that he is here camp.”

    The most exciting aspect of Cesc’s play for me is his ability to make runs from midfield and put himself in or near the box (and his ability to make assists or score goals from that position). I think that is going to allow him to take advantage of the space Messi creates when he drops deep or wide. This will force CBs to stay in position and not follow Messi around the field if they want to control Cesc’s direct movement.

    I personally think it is more likely Cesc will play Messi’s position than Busquets. Cesc played as an attacking midfielder at Arsenal, and I doubt he has the defensive discipline to play at DM this season (I think he would play DM like Keita does, and we know that doesn’t work too well). However, we saw Thiago play a Messi position in preseason and I could see Cesc filling in there in a pinch without too much trouble. He would obviously play the position differently, but I think he would be effective.

    The best news is we can assume Pep will actually rotate the midfield this season. We are up to a squad of 20 players, but unlike last season there are very few players on a free ride this year. Jeffren, Milito, and possibly Bojan all were along for the ride last year. There is no one on the team who I can say that about this season.

    • Jackieboy
      August 15, 2011

      Same here, I was totally against it, but it’s actually cool to have him 🙂 Does he actually have the pace to fill in Messi’s position? I always pictured him as slightly more Iniesta than Xavi and slightly more Xavi than Iniesta, if you get my meaning.

  18. Vj
    August 15, 2011

    Team of MFs (MoFos)

    Alexis Busi Masch Affelay
    Xavi Cesc (Thiago) Iniesta
    Pedro Messi Villa

  19. cantbelievebarcabbbbb
    August 15, 2011

    Class from Wenger- recognised by fabregas

    I’ll never have enough words to thank him for all he’s done for me. I’ll never forget him.
    ‘I don’t think he has such a good image here, he has been portrayed as something he’s not, in my opinion. If today I am here with you then it’s greatly due to him.
    ‘I can’t express my admiration for him strongly enough, I owe it to him that I am here.’

    No class from cheapskate Barcelona.

    Note too how Cesc’s worth who has suddenly increased in value from
    the 35 million that your chiselling club (with its constant classless tapping up from barcelona players) were prepared to pay to the buy-out clause of 200 million euros.

    Your reputation has plummeted.

    • Calvin
      August 15, 2011

      The buy-out clause isn’t an indication of value. I know they don’t have them in England, but C. Ronaldo’s buy out clause is something like 1 billion. I don’t think any of us would agree that C. Ronaldo is worth 1 billion.

      The transfer is over. Trolling is futile now. Time to find a new hobby.

    • Nav
      August 15, 2011

      If Real Madrid fans are the most deluded, then Gunners are the biggest whiners.

  20. cantbelievebarcabbbbb
    August 15, 2011

    anyone who disagrees with you you call a “whiner”.

    A typical response from the over-privileged and spoilt. You are unable to take criticism or to recognise that the way your club and its players have behaved throughout this sorry saga has brought no credit on either.

    • Calvin
      August 15, 2011

      What I don’t understand is why you are here posting right now.

      You’ve undoubtedly never had any effect on this transfer. Other than being an extremely small group of fans with varied opinions on the transfer, neither have we. It makes even less sense to complain about the transfer now that it is over. Complaining on this site surely isn’t going to change anything.

      You know you won’t be able to change our minds on the matter. This is a Barcelona site, and if you wanted us to see your side of the story you would have been more eloquent and used reason instead of emotional ranting.

      So, we’re left with two options. Either this is making you feel better for some obscure reason, or you are trying to provoke a negative reaction on this site. In either of these instances I suggest you log off the computer and find a new hobby. You’d feel a lot better after a workout, and you won’t look anywhere near as foolish.

      • mom4
        August 15, 2011

        Ooooooh please do. More classic literature to up the “class” level on our site maybe. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no…it’s Jose, the Trolliminator!

    • August 15, 2011

      You’ve got to admit it’s not very “classy” as you would say to come to an opposition blog, throw accusations around, and then not address the substance of our arguments. You said we’re “cheapskates” for only paying 30M, and then making his buy-out clause 200M. A buy-out clause is not the same thing as a transfer fee. As Calvin said, Ronaldo’s is like 1 billion euros, even though no one would ever pay that much for him.

      All Barcelona did was what every other club does in transfers: look out for its own interests and try to get the best deal possible. Wenger does it all the time, and there is nothing morally wrong with it.

      Should Pique and Puyol and several other of our players toned down the comments? Yes, but what they said has been wildly exaggerated by the media, and the whole situation has been exacerbated by the lengthiness of the process. How many other clubs’ players have commented on wanting to play alongside someone before he was bought by their club? It happens all the time, and it’s hypocritical to say it’s just classless Barcelona that does it.

      I understand that you’re bitter, but it’s over now and time to move on.

    • barca96
      August 15, 2011

      Why don’t you spend some time in the Arsenal forums and discuss who can be bought for a bargain or on a free transfer or who’s a talent forthe future from our youth academy?

    • Nav
      August 15, 2011

      Your posts have no substance, you don’t deserve anything other than the whiner label. Cry more.

    • mintmocha
      August 15, 2011

      “You are unable to take criticism”

      Pot, meet kettle.

  21. Vj
    August 15, 2011

    Underneath all the Cesc rubble –

    “There isn’t another player like Eto’o, he’s proved he’s one of the best in the world,” said Ibrahimovic.

    via BBC Sport..

    • can_we_go_Xalvies
      August 15, 2011

      Obviously Ibrahimovic is “tapping up”, how dear he say something normal about another player

  22. cantbelievebarcabbbbb
    August 15, 2011

    “Should Pique and Puyol and several other of our players toned down the comments? Yes…”

    At last an admission.

    despite trying to blame the media and everyone else, that is the sticking point your players have behaved like a classless undisciplined rabble. At every opportunity -even when being loaned Arsenal’s facilities to train for the Champions League Final they clowned around with a photo of Cesc. Shabby classless and undisciplined.

    I don’t know of any other case where more or less the entire first team squad have carried out what looks like a sustained attempt to weaken a player’s relationship with his team.

    And Rosell even at the end of this saga finds it necessary to rub Arsenal’s nose in it and announce what a bargain he got.

    as kxevin said

    “My fondest hope is now that it’s done, we can get back to that mutual admiration society that both clubs had. I have always, and will always wish Arsenal well, except when they’re playing us.”

    I would guess most Arsenal fans would have said something similar- until very recently. You’ve lost respect because your players behaved in a despicable way over a sustained period of time. Ad just to be clear I’m not taking about what was reported in the Daily Star here we’re talking about was posted on the Barcelona website and on Barcelona players twitter feeds.

    • can_we_go_Xalvies
      August 15, 2011

      I’m pretty sure a lot of football fans don’t follow pique or puyol on twitter, and i’m sure a lot of people don’t take their twitter comments that seriously. So I would take what they say on twitter with a grain of salt.

      The Barca players behaved appropriately during the transfer saga, sorry but you’re falsely accusing them of any wrong doing.

    • August 15, 2011

      You left out the rest of my post. I said other players talk about their clubs’ transfer targets all the time. The difference is the protracted nature of this transfer and the fact that the media asked our players about it constantly. The vast majority of this stuff was along the lines of “Cesc is a good player and friend and I would love him to be at Barca.” That’s not tapping up, that’s not classless or disrespectful, it’s honesty, and other players do it all the time without hellfire and brimstone being hurled at them.

      The goofing around on twitter is just that: goofing around, and it has everything to do with Pique, Puyol, and Cesc being best friends and nothing to do with the transfer. Cesc participated in it as well with the “oooohh moc moc” stuff.

      No one was trying to weaken Cesc’s relationship with Arsenal. He wanted to leave, Barcelona wanted to buy him.

    • outerspacedout
      August 15, 2011

      It was there, sitting in the lunchroom, trying to make conversation with seven curious strangers, that I first saw them.

      They were sitting in the corner of the cafeteria, as far away from where I sat as possible in the long room. There were five of them. They weren’t talking, and they weren’t eating, though they each had a tray of untouched food in front of them. They weren’t gawking at me, unlike most of the other students, so it was safe to stare at them without fear of meeting an excessively interested pair of eyes. But it was none of these things that caught, and held, my attention.

      They didn’t look anything alike. Of the three boys, one was big – muscled like a serious weight lifter, with dark, curly hair. Another was taller, leaner, but still muscular, and honey blond. The last was lanky, less bulky, with untidy, bronze-colored hair. He was more boyish than the others, who looked like they could be in college, or even teachers here rather than students.

      The girls were opposites. The tall one was statuesque. She had a beautiful figure, the kind you saw on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, the kind that made every girl around her take a hit on her self-esteem just by being in the same room. Her hair was golden, gently waving to the middle of her back. The short girl was pixielike, thin in the extreme, with small features. Her hair was a deep black, cropped short and pointing in every direction.

      And yet, they were all exactly alike. Every one of them was chalky pale, the palest of all the students living in this sunless town. Paler than me, the albino. They all had very dark eyes despite the range in hair tones. They also had dark shadows under those eyes – purplish, bruiselike shadows. As if they were all suffering from a sleepless night, or almost done recovering from a broken nose. Though their noses, all their features, were straight, perfect, angular.

      But all this is not why I couldn’t look away.

      I stared because their faces, so different, so similar, were all devastatingly, inhumanly beautiful. They were faces you never expected to see except perhaps on the airbrushed pages of a fashion magazine. Or painted by an old master as the face of an angel. It was hard to decide who was the most beautiful – maybe the perfect blond girl, or the bronze-haired boy.

      They were all looking away – away from each other, away from the other students, away from anything in particular as far as I could tell. As I watched, the small girl rose with her tray – unopened soda, unbitten apple – and walked away with a quick, graceful lope that belonged on a runway. I watched, amazed at her lithe dancer’s step, till she dumped her tray and glided through the back door, faster than I would have thought possible. My eyes darted back to the others, who sat unchanging.

      “Who are they?” I asked the girl from my Spanish class, whose name I’d forgotten.

      As she looked up to see who I meant – though already knowing, probably, from my tone – suddenly he looked at her, the thinner one, the boyish one, the youngest, perhaps. He looked at my neighbor for just a fraction of a second, and then his dark eyes flickered to mine.

      He looked away quickly, more quickly than I could, though in a flush of embarrassment I dropped my eyes at once. In that brief flash of a glance, his face held nothing of interest – it was as if she had called his name, and he’d looked up in involuntary response, already having decided not to answer.

      My neighbor giggled in embarrassment, looking at the table like I did.

      “That’s Edward and Emmett Cullen, and Rosalie and Jasper Hale. The one who left was Alice Cullen; they all live together with Dr. Cullen and his wife.” She said this under her breath.

      • Vj
        August 15, 2011

        Hey! Classic literature! If you use twilight, you’re trolling us!!

      • blitzen
        August 15, 2011

        You got Twilight in my Barcelona. 👿

    • August 15, 2011

      Now thats whining. We know you dont know it, and that is exactly why we are telling you so. Stop whining. For your own dignity.

      Whether the club was using the players to buy Cesc or Cesc was using his friends to do whatever needed to get himself out of Arsenal, that’s an old redundant story.

      The bottom of line is that the deal needed all parties to accept. All did. Each for own reasons. Get a life and move on.

      Finally, no body care about what you think about our club as long as you have such a childish -Daily Mirror reformed- attitude. Seriously. It is not like we are begging for your appreciation. We only value respectful decent critic and opinion and we discuss it – to an extend. Other than that, seriously, we cant care less about how you see our club, glassless, classless, you name it. You aren’t in a good position to judge, nor your judgement worth our attention.

      Let me brief it once more: We do NOT care. If you have another opinion about something else, make a mature argument so we take you seriously and respond. Till then, read Nasri tweets.

    • outerspacedout
      August 15, 2011

      My deepest apologies to everyone. Would have loved to follow the precedent of classic literature but I felt like trolling.

  23. August 15, 2011

    Guys. This conversation is over. can’tbelievebarcaaa has no interest of having a discussion. At this point, it’s just venting.

    Ignore him.

  24. cantbelievebarcabbbbb
    August 15, 2011

    If you consider Barcelona players behaved appropriately you are delusional. Some of your more reasonable contributors have recognised it.

    The rest of you -they say dogs grow like their masters, so I should’t be surprised by the way you fans are behaving like your spoilt and classless team who behave as they like on and off the pitch

    You are indulged by UEFA and referees. knowing that if the going gets sticky the referees will help you out- as Chelsea and Arsenal have discovered in recent seasons. -Hands round the throat of opponents and getting off without punishment . Rolling on the floor like babies when they believe an injustice is done to them. Not responsible for their twitter feeds as your team isn’t responsible for its website and your fans aren’t reponsible for your foul mouthed insults.

    • outerspacedout
      August 15, 2011

      Yes we pay off UEFA. And refs. And the big guy upstairs. Thank you for making us understand our folly. You wise, wise man.

    • August 15, 2011

      Read above. Or let someone explain this statement for you:

      “We do NOT care what you think, nor we think it worth considering”

    • outerspacedout
      August 15, 2011

      Your righteous anger is turning me on

    • outerspacedout
      August 15, 2011

      I’m a spoilt and classless boy. Why don’t you make me behave, master?

  25. Judas Pissed
    August 15, 2011

    I suppose when Arsenal get knocked out of the Champions League by Udinese that will be our fault as well…

    • August 15, 2011

      It is. we inspired them a style of football they cant handle!

      Alright this comment is called a joke. Classless joke LOL

      • Helge
        August 15, 2011

        Classless jokes sometimes are the best, Ramzi 😀

  26. Olufestus
    August 15, 2011

    Has the trolling wars not ended???

  27. Olufestus
    August 15, 2011

    Cantbelievebarcabbbb, go and dust your cabinet emirate,so many cobwebs,instead of wasting your precious time trolling…infact! Where is jose????

  28. Blau-Grenade
    August 15, 2011

    All I can say is that I would love to see a play-maker in the DM role next week, wheter it either Cesc or Busi. Barca were having trouble getting the ball out to the forwards, from defence. That changed a little when Xavi came on, but credit to EE for not letting the ball get to the forward line. I would have liked to see Villa/Sanchez drop back to support wide play when Dani or Abidal were moving the ball forward in the wings. Alexis did that quite a bit, but I could see that he is not fully integrated and is not used to the one two’s, or the triagles that the Barca players usually do to get out of situations.

    There were, of course, the incessant fouls by the RM midfield, esp., Pepe, Alonso, Khedira. Part of the problem with getting the ball up field is that Abidal/sMash backline is not as adept(they have other strengths) at starting plays as is the back line of Pique and Puyol. Especially Pique, he is unbelievable in his capability to run forward with the ball from the back, and start a play.

    Officiating – This match was poorly officiated by the referee. Pepe’s foul against Alves was a red card. Alves had already kicked the ball. Pepe was going for the man. He also kicked Pedro on purpose. He is going to get EE into a lot of trouble one day.

    Lovely wing play by Alexis. Can’t wait till he is more integrated with the squad in a month or so. That would be so awesome.

    Big credit to the Barca back line(sMash, Abi, Keita) for showing steel and keeping the score sheet at 2-2, against a team that were incessantly attacking. Some of the sMash tackles were absolutely beautiful, especially the one where he denied Benzema a clear scoring opportunity.

    Finally, que golazo’s bye Villa and Messi.

    Alves never stopped running, and Adriano worked his heart out on the left.

    Happy to see Barca back in action, can’t wait for Wednesday.

  29. August 15, 2011

    Everyone. Any offending comments or trolling will be dealt with. Trust me. When you respond, you a) dignify them with a response and b) make the mess a LOT more difficult to clean up.

    It’s much more fun to discuss tactical possibilities, or what was really a barn-burner of a SuperCopa (finally got to watch the full match), even if it was functionally meaningless.

    Mourinho’s blather worked, in that Pepe really should have been sent off for his mugging of Alves. I suppose that he will keep trying until he injures someone. Same for Marcelo, who has mastered the “after the fact mugging.” It’s shameful, and shame on their coach for ratcheting up the hatred to a level that makes his players behave like churls when under pressure, rather than footballers.

    I can only say again that I do hope that Villa’s goal was a harbinger of things to come. I watched it again and again, and it was absolutely spectacular. You don’t often see Casillas completely fooled, and left for dead. He couldn’t even do the Iker Face, because it was just a monster of a golazo.

    For those keeping score, 1-0 or 1-1 means we keep the SuperCopa at home. 2-2 sends us to extra time. Any lopsided score in their direction means we lose.

    • mei
      August 15, 2011

      I think , in reference to villa’s goal thats exactly the type of goals we expected of him last season when he was placed on the left wing. Instead he scored one of those from the right wing – but im quite hopeful he will be a serious threat from now on in these kind of situations.
      However this was a special goal. The defender did not leave him space or time on the ball , and tried to challenge him.
      You know what it was coming , yet the execution was perfection and nothing could be done about it.

      • barca96
        August 15, 2011

        It was Henry-esque I’m telling you.

        Kxev, Iker did the Iker-face after Messi’s goal.
        I kept on replaying. It’s so funny.

    • Srini
      August 15, 2011

      Its just Villa being Villa, Kxevin. We didn’t see the fullest extent of his talents when he took them to Catalunya (apologies Bron Bron) last season. We saw a couple of those golazos last season – that chip against Gijon and that left footed curler against I forget who, and of course that curler into the top right corner in the Champs League final.

      If Villa reaches his Maravilla potential, we are in for a treat.

      • August 15, 2011

        If Villa reaches his Maravilla potential, we are going to be unstoppable. We’ve already seen that Messi has no intention of being anything other than as excellent as he was last season, as well.

        I keep coming back to two moments in that match: The Villa goal, and the presence of mind that Sanchez had to track TWO defenders, bamboozling one, moving the ball and hurdling the slide tackle of the other one. We haven’t had a player that dynamic on the wing since Henry in his second season, and look what happened then.

        The best part about the Villa goal is that it was instinct. He hasn’t played on instinct in a long time. Too much of last season was him being drum-tight, and overthinking every move. This season, he’s been playing more freely, with positive results.

      • K_legit
        August 15, 2011

        The left foot curler was against Sevilla.

        • Srini
          August 15, 2011

          Thanks, indeed. The best goal I thought he scored last “season” though was the one against Chile from 40 metres, the one touch left foot chip-lob after the goalkeeper’s clearance. It was as intuitive as it was skillful and I thought Iniesta emulated that goal against Racing.

    • yana
      August 15, 2011

      There was some interview this summer where Casillas was asked which forward was the “worst,” and his answer was “Villa, because he always scores against me and then rubs it in.” Tongue-in-cheek, I’m sure, because they’re good friends, but you know he was just cringing in his head.

      He did do the Iker-face. When he was planted face down in the (long?) grass. 🙂

  30. stowe
    August 15, 2011

    love the frost on Fab’s hair. I’m watching the Supercopa replay and Thiago keeps kicking the ball out of bounds. he is Iniesta-ish in his ability to get past players

  31. K_legit
    August 15, 2011

    Rodri is having a medical at Barcelona for a possible transfer to the B team..this is the kid who scored the goal that got Sevilla to the CL qualifying round season before last

  32. blitzen
    August 15, 2011

    Classy:

    Cesc: “Wearing number 4? It’s special for me. I’m very happy to wear it. I also thank Thiago that he lets me wear it.” #cescfcb #fcblive

    • Srini
      August 15, 2011

      Stating the squad numbers for “archival purposes” –

      1. Victor Valdes
      2. Dani Alves
      3. Gerard Pique Moc
      4. Cesc Fabregas Moc Moc
      5. Carles Puyol Moc Moc Moc
      6. Xavi Hernandez
      7. David Villa
      8. Andres Iniesta
      9. Alexis Sanchez
      10. Leo Messi
      11. Thiago Alcantara
      12. Untaken
      13. José Pinto
      14. Javier Mascherano
      15. Seydou Keita
      16. Sergio Busquets
      17. Pedro Rodríguez
      19. Maxwell
      20. Ibrahim Afellay
      21. Adriano
      22. Éric Abidal
      24. Andreu Fontàs

      • Vj
        August 15, 2011

        #12 is pronounced Oontaaken right? Is he by any chance good at defending?

        • FalseNine
          August 15, 2011

          Ah, Oontaaken, one of Finland’s greatest talents. I hope he gets more playing time this year, or we might have to loan him out to Roma.

          • Noslehcimretep
            August 15, 2011

            I think he will fit nicely into the rotation, nice to see him get the nod in some of the pre-season games. His brother played for PSG a few years ago didn’t he?

  33. Roz
    August 15, 2011

    Looking at soe highlights from the match and I am impressed with Villa’s defending on Ramos. Isnt’t Ramos lauded as one of the best attacking rightbacks in the world? And yet Villa kept tracking back and dealing with him quite easily IMO.

    • Vj
      August 15, 2011

      Ramos was having back troubles and wasn’t fully fit I guess..

  34. blitzen
    August 15, 2011

    So who shall we start tapping up now? I vote for Wilshere…for the B team.

    Moc moc! 😈

  35. August 15, 2011

    First official Tweet from Fabregas (in Catalan, natch): Als Culés: Gràcies per aquesta rebuda tant impressionant, a tots els que heu vingut al camp i pels missatges rebuts! Ha estat molt especial. (To the Cules: Thanks for the impressive welcome, to all who came to the stadium and for the messages! It has been very special.)

    • outerspacedout
      August 15, 2011

      His first official tweet was in English thanking Arsenal and their fans, actually. That was his second tweet.

  36. K_legit
    August 15, 2011

    Since I did not see the Super Cup game, could anyone be a dear and link me a download bitte?

    • barca96
      August 15, 2011

      It’s in the last post. Pakman of course!

  37. Diego
    August 15, 2011

    Where does that leave Afellay ? Was he a piece of business that We’ll end up selling next year ?

    • August 15, 2011

      It leaves Afellay on the left wing, a spot that is presently vacant for us.

      • Vj
        August 15, 2011

        P! showed a lot of promise there in the CdR final.

        A-M-P! ?

    • August 15, 2011

      Since Afellay can also play as a forward I’m sure he’ll be getting minutes, we only have five forwards after all.

  38. August 15, 2011

    Why do so many footballers show up on their transfer days dressed in T-shirts and jeans?

    It’s one of the biggest days of their professional lives. The pictures will be beamed around the world.

    And the most trouble you can go to is to get dressed as if you were taking a stroll at the mall?

    You don’t need to wear a suit. But how about a shirt with a collar rather than one that looks like you got it from the bottom of your hamper!

    • Calvin
      August 15, 2011

      I think this is a new rule Rosell initiated. Can’t have the new signings lookig more dapper than the king and tyrant of Catalunya.

      • barca96
        August 15, 2011

        Yeah I agree with Calvin.
        I always believed in dressing up.

        It is an important day, you don’t come in wearing casual clothes. Cesc was at least in jeans and shoes. I can’t remember who but I saw a player wearing sandals.

    • mei
      August 15, 2011

      Clothes dont matter.
      Why do you think dressing up is better than casual clothing?
      Special occasions are not special because of the clothes you are wearing during them .

      • August 15, 2011

        Really? Then why does the club meticulously dictate what clothes the players should wear when they travel as a team? Why do those shirts have collars?

        Why did Rosell tell Sanchez to change the white T-shirt he originally wore to his signing day?

        Barcelona is a global business that generates close to 500M a year in revenue. It’s a business. A business in which public relations, marketing and image are part of it’s life blood.

        Today is Fabregas’ first official day representing the club. Not wearing a worn out t-shirt and ratty jeans isn’t asking a lot. Especially when you are worth millions.

        No one even said Fabregas should get “dressed up.” However, better than I just rolled out of bed and threw on the clothes lying on my chair would be nice when the club has just spent 40M on bringing you in would be nice. That’s not a lot to ask.

        Sanchez did the same thing – even worse. Rosell was right to tell him to get changed and put on a decent shirt.

        It’s just common courtesy. Even in the most casual of business setting T-shirts don’t generally work. Sure it’s a convention – but being employed and working for an employer involves different kinds of conventions.

        Like wearing yellow shirts with collars when you are traveling to games.

        So many of the ridiculous problems in football are due to people not treating it for what it is – a business.

        • mei
          August 15, 2011

          Euler , if there is a dress code during a player’s presentation players should follow it.
          Sanchez was supposed to have it changed because of the colour I think.
          But if its not I dont see why someone should wear more than jeans and a tshirt.
          Wearing the same outfit when travelling could well be a sponsor thing.As with trainings.

          Football is not -just- business.
          Otherwise Fabregas would not be our player today giving away one millon per year off his salary.
          I doubt that its a critical way of serving the business side of it is by wearing good looking clothes on the day your contract is signed.
          Depends on who are you appealing to , if you decide that it is important(paying attention to detail).

        • blitzen
          August 15, 2011

          Even in the most casual of business setting T-shirts don’t generally work.

          I will remind you that when Mascherano signed with us, he was given a shirt to change into on the plane. A t-shirt with a Nike swoosh. Not a business suit. Sportswear is fine for sports players.

    • Vj
      August 15, 2011

      That was the look of a man relieved to be home. No one cared what he wore up until he donned the blaugrana 🙂

    • blitzen
      August 15, 2011

      We are signing footballers, not fashion plates. Cesc could have shown up in a bunny suit munching a carrot for all I care.

      Anyway, it’s Pep’s fault. He has ruined it for everyone else. No one can compete with his style, so no one bothers to try.

  39. Lev
    August 15, 2011

    “It was Henry-esque I’m telling you.

    Kxev, Iker did the Iker-face after Messi’s goal.
    I kept on replaying. It’s so funny.”

    LOL, I know!
    I was watching it in bed and my gf, who knows a bit about football but is far from fanatic about it, woke up right after Messi scored.
    First thing she said?
    “Mira! the Iker-face”

    Lol. PRICELESS

  40. Triplo Volanti (formerly Cesc Pistol)
    August 15, 2011

    Amazing stats with great insights RT @onfooty Where does talent come from? La Liga edition: bit.ly/ojRgn9

    Must read on where the youth players come from in La Liga and othe fascinating details:

    Despite the reputation of La Masia, Barcelona are only third in La
    Liga in terms of the number of youth players currently signed to their squad. Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao have the most players from their youth academies in their squad.

    Granada and Getafe have no players from their youth academies in their squads, and only 1 player from each team signed for the club before they were 21.

    Real Madrid is the largest exporter of youth talent, but are middle of the pack in terms of the number of youth players in their squad.

    They excel at producing good players, but not great players.

    The agreement between Udinese and Granada is apparent in the high number of Udinese youth products currently playing for Granada. If Udinese were to be excluded, the top foreign producers of talent would be Arsenal and Boca Juniors. River Plate is only one player behind Boca.

    • Calvin
      August 15, 2011

      “Barcelona are only third in La Liga in terms of the number of youth players currently signed to their squad. Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao have the most players from their youth academies in their squad.”

      This is a quality over quantity issue. We may not have the most youth players in our squad, but I’d be willing to wager we have the highest number of youth players who are currently national team players.

      Utilizing youth players in the first team isn’t what makes Barcelona unique. It is the quality of the players we have been producing from our youth academy recently that makes us unique. It is certainly a golden generation for the club.

      • Triplo Volanti (formerly Cesc Pistol)
        August 15, 2011

        Yes! Exactly! That is why data like this needs to be made relevant and national team players is an excellent shout. That can also be used in testing the other statement: Madrid produce good but not great players.

      • August 15, 2011

        “Utilizing youth players in the first team isn’t what makes Barcelona unique.”

        I disagree, in part.

        The way I see it, pretty much every top club is capable of filling its youth programs with talented youngsters, because the most of the naturally produced talent in an area (be it Catalunya, Bilbao, Valencia, Madrid) gravitates to the biggest clubs/schools nearby. The big local club tends to have the best coaching staff, training facilities, and scouting network, so they have a lot more to offer to young players who are serious about a career in football (circa age 15).

        That RM exports plenty of talented youngsters, for example, is nothing special, as RM has a drawing power for talented youngsters in the Madrid area that Atletico (to some extent), Getafe and the dozens of lower league clubs in the area can’t match. That they (like many other top clubs) have a youth program that knows how to develop talent is commendable, but in no way unique.

        What sets Barcelona apart from most of these is a combination of factors: they draw from a large talent pool (more than twice the size of Athletic Club’s), have the resources to build an excellent youth program, chooses to develop them with a cohesive playing philosophy and then successfully integrates the most outstanding players into their own senior team. Particularly since having a unified playing philosophy across our youth teams makes the promotion of youth players far more effective than in other teams.

        • Calvin
          August 15, 2011

          I was just trying to point out that only the presence of youth players in the first team isn’t a unique situation in European football. As the stats show Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao have more youth players in their squad that Barcelona.

          The thing that makes Barcelona unique is the incredibly high quality of the youth players it has been churning out in the last 5-10 years. As you pointed out, this has a lot to do with the philosophy of the youth teams.

          I guess what I was trying to get at was that if Barcelona had a bunch of youth players in the team, but they were all mediocre, would we consider Barcelona a unique case in European football? Would we talk about the youth contributions much at all?

          What makes us unique is that our youth academy has paired quality with quantity in a way not often seen in European football. Ajax may have had it in the past, but it is completely unparalleled at the moment.

          • August 15, 2011

            Yeah, I wasn’t saying you were wrong, but I was giving reasons for why we can produce such high quality players (meaning, it’s not just the magic of La Masia). And adding that it’s not just “one thing” that makes our youth development special, but rather a combination of factors.

    • FalseNine
      August 15, 2011

      The Basque Country teams for a very long time had exclusively Basque players, and though that has relaxed a bit now, they still field largely their own youth products. This is a political issue as well as a sporting one. Barcelona field many La Masia but many of them are not Catalan, like Messi, Pedro and Iniesta.

      The amazing thing about Barça is not just that they field so many of their own youth team players — any team can do that. What’s amazing is that they field so many of their own youth team players while winning the Liga and the CL final.

  41. barca4eva
    August 15, 2011

    I am 99% in agreement with your analysis (and thanks for your excellent article) except for the price. I absolutely believe this is a coup-Fabregas is more than worth the 35mil pounds. The reason why we got him on the cheap is because there is only one possible destination and one suitor-Barcelona. Fabregas could easily have been sold to Madrid or city for 50mil pound.

    The rest of your analysis could have been mistaken to have come directly from Guardiola’s mouth. That is how apt I thought of it.

    • FalseNine
      August 15, 2011

      Totally bitter. Super expensive fantasy camp? Borderline unnecessary supporting player? The most ridiculous is saying that all memory of Arsenal seemed to disappear. Cesc said many, many nice things about Arsenal, their fans, and Wenger today. But I guess that doesn’t fit the script.

    • blitzen
      August 15, 2011

      He often seems bitter towards Barcelona, especially Xavi and Busquets. Someone said he was a Chelsea fan, so that may explain it. He loves Messi, though, and Pep.

    • August 15, 2011

      The whole kerfuffle in Goonerdom over Cesc already kissing the badge is another scrap of evidence to add to the pile showing that the way many Gunners have handled the Fabregas transfer is almost entirely emotional. (To this day, I do not comprehend why one would ever find it in their heart angry at Pique and Puyol taking a picture with Cesc’s picture at the Emirates. MOC MOC.) And in that game, it seems, no other emotions matter but their own.

      I mean, Fabregas has been kissing the Barca badge since before he knew Arsenal existed, or even where to find London on a map. How can one sincerely get angry over that?

  42. outerspacedout
    August 15, 2011

    Oh my I laughed so so hard all through that Total Control Nike ad Euler posted up there. I don’t know, I mean I don’t know if it was meant to be funny but Cesc’s orgasm face as he watches the screens and stroking the cat and the expressions just I laughed so hard all through it.

    • blitzen
      August 15, 2011

      Check out the one I just posted in response. 😀

  43. Triplo Volanti (formerly Cesc Pistol)
    August 15, 2011

    Also, where can I download this match with RayRay as commentator? A mediafire link would be great,

  44. Calvin
    August 15, 2011

    Anyone else think it’s funny that Fabregas is now a Barcelona player and is all of the sudden healthy enough to participate in a training session?

    • mei
      August 15, 2011

      He was fit before to train – and he did so once or twice with arsenal after he got back from vacations. He just wasnt settled to be included into the match squad.

  45. FalseNine
    August 15, 2011

    Mostly been back to lurking lately, but I’m just here to say hooray for Cesc, and what a great game yesterday. Victor is a monster, and Villa’s goal made a perfect trio along with the one against Sevilla last year and the one in the CL final. I’m really looking forward to more of that this year.

    Like everyone, not too fond of Keita at DM. We all missed Busi’s distribution. People have mentioned how Cesc could play DM in a pinch, but another thought I had: if Busi is unavailable, what about playing Cesc, Iniesta and Xavi in the midfield with Xavi the furthest back? Xavi isn’t going to tackle like Masch, but he certainly would know how to link up between the defensive line and the play further up the pitch. You’d need two strong CBs and fewer mistakes giving the ball away, but as we all know, possession is our defense….

    Alexis’s play when he leapt over the tackle and continued down the wing made me gasp out loud. I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do.

    Also, amused that Barça TV made a Cesc video to “Every Breath You Take”. Didn’t anyone tell them the song’s about a creepy stalker who won’t leave the object of their desire alone? I’m sure our Gunner trolls think it’s just perfect. 🙂

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mwMpjqB5ZU

    • August 15, 2011

      I laughed so hard at the video. Barca are so lame, but the song was so apt. 😀

    • August 15, 2011

      For as angry as we might have been at Cesc (unjustly) for drawing that penalty against Puyol, Cesc never celebrated scoring against us. And knowing his integrity, he will never celebrate scoring against Arsenal too.

      • Calvin
        August 15, 2011

        Thats totally fine with me. As long as he doesn’t pull the nonsense Henry did at the Emirates during his last season with us and basically refuse to play against Arsenal I will be happy.

        • August 15, 2011

          Most definitely. Luckily, we’ll soon find out as we’re inevitably destined to draw Arsenal in the Champions League Round of 16 this year.

          Bonus destiny: RM will definitely draw Chelsea. The Villas-Boas / Mourinho stories practically write themselves!

          • August 15, 2011

            We’re getting Udinese or Arsenal in the qualifiers group stages, most definitely. Sanchez on one side, Cesc on the other. No matter what result, narrative still works.

          • August 15, 2011

            I would love to have Fabregas and Alexis in the same room to watch the Arsenal-Udinense match tomorrow.

            Arsenal fans are making me feel like a bad person for sort of wishing Arsenal lose and fall out of the Champions League before September.

  46. mom4
    August 15, 2011

    Watching City v Swansea right now. I don’t care much but the oldest kid likes the EPL and has it on. Just wanted to let y’all know that CAPTAIN The Yaya just took a shot 🙂

    • K_legit
      August 15, 2011

      I felt a small tremor and the ground shake a bit..so that’s what it was then

      • mom4
        August 15, 2011

        I just love that he’s been made the captain. I will always wish him well! His team? not so much!

        • blitzen
          August 15, 2011

          I agree, but it’s getting so hard to hate Man City these days. They have The Yaya, Silva, Joe Hart, Kun. Luckily, they also still have De Jong, Balotelli, and (soon) Nasri (who I just for some reason cannot stand, no matter how talented he is. I find him impossible to like for no specific reason.).

          • Helge
            August 15, 2011

            I don’t get why ManCity (or at least Mancini) want Nasri so bad. They do already have two young and promising players on his position, Silva and Johnson (I like Johnson a lot, he’s one of the most gifted English footballers, from a technical point of view).
            Kun is a playing striker, the Yaya also plays quite offensive for City.
            Nasri should think twice before leaving.

            On the other hand, the prospect of staying at Arsenal… *cough*

  47. Blau-Grenade
    August 15, 2011

    I am one of the biggest fan’s of Cesc. Soooo happy. I cannot begin to imagine the possiblities when he is playing in the midfield.

    Tribute to his last year’s season:
    The series is a 3 part series for his 2010-2011 season.
    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=js9tU2sV3Ck

    This is for his 2009 – 2010 season.
    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6cQLP55pkI&playnext=1&list=PL10390DFAFF52847D

    • blitzen
      August 15, 2011

      I came in here to post the exact same thing! No matter how much anyone dislikes the transfer, these pictures are adorable. The one with Pep, the hug with Iniesta. It’s true love! 😀

      Oh, and look at Messi’s muscles! Nom nom nom.

      • mom4
        August 15, 2011

        Just came back on to post the pics and was too late…again!

        Happy happy happy squad.

        And yeah, I noticed Leo’s guns. Juanjo’s been doing a good job!

    • blitzen
      August 15, 2011

      Missing: The picture of Cesc opening his new locker to find that Pique has filled it with jam. 😛

      (or something similar, you know it’s going to happen)

    • jordi™
      August 15, 2011

      The pure joy on his face is infectious.Now im smiling too 😀

  48. blitzen
    August 15, 2011

    Also, guys, the happier Pep is with his squad, the more likely he is to sign on for another year. Another good reason to be happy with this transfer.

    • mom4
      August 15, 2011

      All this giddy happiness has got to stop. We’re cules darnit and I’m not sure that we’re allowed to be happy/optimistic. Can somebody check the handbook to see if such things are banned.

      • blitzen
        August 15, 2011

        We’re all going to die!!!

        better? 😛

        • mom4
          August 15, 2011

          Ah, the comfort of normalcy restored! Thanks 😀

          • Blau-Grenade
            August 15, 2011

            Haha you guys are too funny.

      • tutomate
        August 15, 2011

        Read the handbook, it says it’s temporarily admissible if overall there is a sense of impending doom. So….
        */ cue Tomas Roncero ‘s righteously indignant voice/
        OMG we tied EE at home in the first legit the super cup, it’s the end of a cycle i tell you

        • mom4
          August 15, 2011

          No problem, we do impending doom extremely well.

      • tutomate
        August 15, 2011

        Read the handbook, it says it’s temporarily admissible if overall there is a sense of impending doom. So….
        */ cue Tomas Roncero ‘s righteously indignant voice/
        OMG we tied EE at home in the first leg of the super cup, it’s the end of a cycle i tell you

  49. yana
    August 15, 2011

    Haha, just reading through the loveblob, this was classic:

    blitzen: i often think villa pl;ays better on the right
    Michelle: Blitzen – his “curse” of being really right footed but ambidextrous enough to be “used” on the left where he isn’t as strong
    Miguel: Villa can be played into space better on the right, me thinks
    astrosa: GOL!!!!
    Extreme barca fan: goallllllllllllllllll
    FC SWACI: villa!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Michelle: GOLAZOOOOOO
    cliveee: Villa is invisible
    Miguel: ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
    Kari: GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLL
    messi_fan: VILAAAAAAa
    Jackieboy: VILLLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    justin: villla!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Michelle: HOW BEAUTIFUL THAT WAS FROM DAVIIIIDDDD
    Jose: not gol GOLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZO
    Kari: cliveeee, he’s not now
    jordi(TM): oh shi!
    astrosa: OUT OF NOTHING!
    justin: that wwas amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Jeff: VILLLAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaa
    Kari: YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH
    blitzen: lol cliveeeee
    […More VILLA MARAVILLA !!!!!!11!!!!…]
    cliveee: GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLL
    cliveee: Your comment has been seOMGGGGGGGGGGGGG
    cliveee: just when i said he was invisible!!!!@!#@$%^%&*^
    Miguel: You have my permission to stay on the left, Villa

    • Vj
      August 15, 2011

      Only reason I didn’t chime in was that I was too busy waking up the neighbours. That effort was sweet..

      He was totally alone there, I got a feeling he’d shift and shoot, and he did! Notice the massive dip and little to no swerve on the ball. Dunno if he meant it, but that was a fabulous strike..

    • Blau-Grenade
      August 15, 2011

      Lol the crazy bunch. I was too astonished to type anything.

    • August 15, 2011

      for the record, i was on a veetle stream which was 10 years behind, so…. and I almost fell off my chair when that goal came.

      MARAVILLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!

      Kxevin once said the best goal does not depend on beauty or difficulty, but occasion. But we saw one hell of a difficult and beautiful goal in a huge occasion. Worth more crazy yelling from RayRay…

  50. FalseNine
    August 15, 2011

    Someone mentioned it above, but I really appreciated how Cesc thanked Thiago for “letting” him wear the number 4. Thiago didn’t have any real claim on it — he wore it with Barça B, and he wore it over the summer (but lots of people wore numbers that weren’t theirs over the summer), but he was never officially issued that number by the first team.

    So Cesc could have just ignored Thiago entirely and claimed the number. The fact that Cesc chose to have a conversation with Thiago and thank him tells me he understands the dynamics of the situation he’s getting himself into, the competition that exists for minutes and in people’s minds, and he’s handling it in a classy way.

    • jaymin
      August 16, 2011

      or maybe he didn’t make any of those considerations. perhaps he is just a very classy individual who recognized the fact that another person was holding a number for him, did a grand job, and so he wanted to thank him out of common decency and class, even though he definitely didn’t have to.

  51. mom4
    August 15, 2011

    Praise God!

    barcastuff
    Busquets joined the group at training today.

    Best. News. Ever. In at least the past hour(good news day)!

  52. Helge
    August 15, 2011

    Aguero’s presence on the field makes City twice as good!

    • Miguel
      August 15, 2011

      A goal and an assist on his debut. Nuts!

      • August 15, 2011

        KUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! he and dzeko are perfect together, adding nasri with silva and the yaya and already thats an absurd team going forward

      • Helge
        August 15, 2011

        …As a sub!

        I’m not keen on meeting them in the CL (very physical and often over-aggressive defensive players), but I will support them in the EPL title race. ManUtd doesn’t deserve to win another title, they’ve started the season with another poor performance but 3 points. I’ve seen enough of such lucky matches last season^^
        And the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool look weaker than the two Manchester clubs – so go City!

  53. jordi™
    August 15, 2011

    Aguero is a going to destroy the EPL, but we already knew that. So glad hes not at Madrid.

    • August 15, 2011

      him joining madrid would have been awful, could not stand my favorite non barca player being a madrista

  54. August 15, 2011

    GuillemBalague:
    Barcelona confirms: 29 milion euros fixed. If FCB win 2 leagues and 1 champions they will pay 5 more. Plus 5 from Cesc wages. 5 year deal

    In the next five years, presumably. So Arsenal now have a vested interest in our winning La Liga and the Champions League. The trolling opportunity from this fact is immense, but we shall rise above it. 😛

  55. jordi™
    August 15, 2011

    O.O Kun didnt hit many long rangers at Atleti

  56. August 15, 2011

    Ryan! I just thought of a sign idea:

    RM/EE, you have just been Hlebbed!

    (We need to brainstorm, BFBers)

    • Ryan
      August 15, 2011

      Eek, don’t make me carry of sign with his face on it!

  57. blitzen
    August 15, 2011

    Bartomeu (vice-president): “We never considered a transfer of Thiago. We renewed him sooner to end the debate about him and Cesc.” [rac1]

    Zigackly.

  58. FalseNine
    August 15, 2011

    Wenger (coach Arsenal): “Maybe Cesc will come back one day to Arsenal, you never know.” [arsenal.com]

    OK, now I think he’s just trolling.

    • blitzen
      August 15, 2011

      Wenger is tapping Cesc up!!!!! Classless!!!!

      😉

  59. Dani_el
    August 15, 2011

    Great article as always Kxevin.

    I’m really happy with this signing, as Marti Perarnau said: Xavi is 32, Iniesta 27? Now we have Cesc and Afellay with 24 and Thiago with 20. That gives a sensation of having quality players to replace the ones that are getting older. I think that Xavi has a few more years still, but seen Cesc gives me peace of mind. I algo believe that Thiago isnt quite ready yet. I’m really optimist with this summer signings, and although I dont like Rosell that much (making extremely dificult for foreign fans to be members of the club) I recognize that these were good, (maybe the best) negotiations, to a club that used to pay a little more lately.

    I’m eager to read the articles by Linda and Euler about cesc, I usually am the pessimist fan, but now I’m really positive about this year, maybe Pep stays after all. I hope that we dont have any long term injuries, and I also hope that Puyi recovers well.

  60. ElJefe
    August 15, 2011

    I will defer all my opinions until we see some play from Cesc on the pitch. Regardless, you’ve got to feel good as Barca simply hasn’t had this kind of arsenal in recent memory, so as long as we can keep our back’s healthy and Villa doesn’t implode life is looking bright.

    Speaking of Man City, great to see Kun perform for well for a team that cares. Think he plays well with Silva? Wow. Question – Will Balotelli ever see the pitch again with Kun there and aerial threat from Dzeko?

    • FalseNine
      August 15, 2011

      Barca simply hasn’t had this kind of arsenal

      I see what you did there

    • Helge
      August 15, 2011

      Balotelli will certainly be a bench warmer and not feature in the important matches at all, unless Aguero or Dzeko (or maybe even Tevez, if he stays) are injured.

      The few moments that he has on the pitch, he’ll probably do some crazy stuff to get sent off or to be taken out by Mancini again ^^

  61. ciaran
    August 15, 2011

    I was just thinking… Has there ever been a bigger collection of wankers than the current EE squad?
    I swear that Florentino is just hand-picking every footballer that gets under my skin and signs him up to fuck with my brain.
    Okay, I may be just imagining it but with the exception of Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas I can’t stand any of there players. And it is not just cause they play with EE, I’ve hated some of them for years.

    Carvalho, I’ve hated since I first saw him with Porto and then disliked him more when he joined Chelsea.
    Pepe – should have been banned from playing football after the Getafe incident
    Marcelo – He is like an extreme version of Dani Alves – a bigger diver and a dirtier tackler.
    X.Alonso – I used to like but now all he does is foul even though tackling wasn’t much part of his game at Sociedad or Liverpool
    Khedira – isn’t a footballer, just a dude that can run a lot, and tried to kill Abi
    Di Maria – can’t stay on his feet for more than four steps, it might be a medical condition but his face annoys me.
    Ronaldo – see above then multiply it by however million he was both for.

    And then they go around signing the likes of Adebayor last season and Callejon this. Maybe it is actually a practical joke, where are the cameras?

    • ElJefe
      August 15, 2011

      I hate to say it but I’ve come to defend Pepe. The Getafe thing was a case of outrage over a blatant, cowardly dive. In a world of divers, its hard not to find that admirable despite the ridiclous reaction.

      Also, the foul on Alves over the weekend was a foul, but not a yellow card, he made no contact with the foot.

      If anyone here is familiar with with American Hockey, he seems like a Chris Pronger…a player that everyone hates, he plays ugly & physical, greatly slows down teams with superior talent…yet everyone would have him on their team in a heartbeat given the chance.

      Trust me, that’s where any defense of EE players end for me, minus the captain.

      • August 16, 2011

        Pepe is a big time THUG. The Getafe incident was atrocious and I don’t think the getafe guy dived the fall is too clumsy. And what about the lyon game where he should have got like 3 red cards? The guy has behavior problems and instead of addressing them Mou is endorsing them and using them… And that foul that on Alves was definetly a yellow card. Football is not American Hockey.

    • August 15, 2011

      No way man, you gotta add in Ramos. He’s got to be one of the most overrated players I’ve seen in a long time. Can’t handle Messi at all, so he just takes him out, sits on him, or whatever else he can think of.

      Casillas is the best on their team, but even he’s starting too whine too much.

      In any case, I agree about YAYA%. I’ve never been anti-Madrid before. I’ve reveled in the rivalry, and I’m really competitive, but I’ve always had a certain respect for EE. They were a worthy rival and I wanted them to do well in Europe (but still crash out) just to show some solidarity with a fellow Liga club. Not anymore. Not even close.

      Oh, but I like Higuain tho.

      • FalseNine
        August 15, 2011

        With Sergio, I can’t forget the end of the manita. I’m sure he was frustrated, but his behavior was still infantile and embarrassing.

        Sergio and CR7 are like cartoon villains though, I can’t truly despise them like I do Pepe and Arbeloa.

      • August 15, 2011

        In any case, I agree about YAYA%. I’ve never been anti-Madrid before. I’ve reveled in the rivalry, and I’m really competitive, but I’ve always had a certain respect for EE. They were a worthy rival and I wanted them to do well in Europe (but still crash out) just to show some solidarity with a fellow Liga club. Not anymore. Not even close.

        This x YAYA. I’m not the kind of guy that “learns to hate” his team’s rivals. For all the history, I could never bring myself to hate the NY Mets or RM. Cherish the rivalry and all, but not fabricate some plastic “hatred” just because it’s expected.

        Thus I never felt anything more than a mild dislike for RM before last spring. But the absolutely embarrassing way in which that club handled the 4 Clasicos off the field made me lose almost any respect I had for that institution. It’s one thing for some fans to be petty, spiteful ogres. It’s quite another thing for a club’s upper management to act like that. The term “verguenza ajena” (something like “feeling shame for someone else”) applies here.

      • outerspacedout
        August 15, 2011

        Same, I only really absolutely completely hated them after last year only. And even then I felt somewhat sorry for the institution.

        Higuain is easily my favorite player on the team, I quite like him. I like Oezil too. I hate Arbeloa, Marcelo and Carvalho for their sneaky thuggery, Di Maria not for the incessant diving alone as much as the hypocrisy and making a fuss about us in those minutes between dives. I don’t really hate Ramos, I mean I dislike him a lot on the pitch but he doesn’t seem like a malicious person a la Arbeloa and his ‘look if the ref is elsewhere and sneakily bodycheck or stamp on someone forty yards away from the play just cos’ play. Pepe is too much of a thug as well.

        I don’t dislike Khedira or Benzema. And I actually don’t dislike Ronaldo, I used to like his United side and root for them in the EPL or when Barca/Valencia weren’t in the CL, but have become completely neutral about EPL clubs since he and Tevez left and the side became a lot less fun (which also coincided with our treble). That side and him in it were a very fun side to watch. I know he scores a lot more now but I think he did a lot more back then, when he had a reputation as one of the more reliable aerial threats in the league and would dominate games and have the occasional bit of spectacular and drag United through everything. Now he seems more like his play is just about being a very very good finisher, which might be all RM need from him since they have plenty of creative talent already but still. I used to like him as a player back then, now I don’t like him but I don’t dislike him either. He seems more like that one ridiculously vain friend everyone has who when you go out checks his hair in the side window every time you walk by a parked car.

    • FalseNine
      August 15, 2011

      Ozil. I like Ozil.

      And I agree with the others about Ramos, he is just ridiculous.

      • blitzen
        August 15, 2011

        Yes…I like Ozil too. Wish he had signed with anybody else.

        Casillas is a great keeper and a 90% decent guy, but he also seems to have drunk the Mou koolaid. Disappointed with a lot of his interviews in the last year.

        Ramos incredibly overrated. He hasn’t been good since the WC, in my opinion.

        • htMillBay
          August 15, 2011

          I’m a cule but also an Ozil fan. Of all the players in the world that are not playing for Barca but look like they should be, it would be him. Not athletic but brainy footballer and his one touch is Barcelonesque. Maybe we can do a reverse Figo on him.

    • August 15, 2011

      Come on, guys. Do we really need this kind of post, outlining why we hate each player in RM?

      I’ll say that I get the impression of Casillas and Ozil being genuinely good people, and that I abhor some of the actions of some of their players, but this kind of talk is not becoming of us, no?

    • BTTFCule
      August 15, 2011

      It’s an achievement that you do not hate Ramos. I can’t really stand him. One of my least favorite EE players. And Casillas is also getting on my nerves.

    • August 16, 2011

      Thanks for the vid Kari… !
      Damn I hadn’t notice the Marcelo stomp on Alexis. So I see he continues where he left off with the stomp on Pedro. This sleezy stuff just drive me crazy and to think that they are whinning afterwards…arghh…It’s stuff like these that made the Incredible Hulk

    • Helge
      August 16, 2011

      Sometimes they seem to be in kamikaze-mode, and I think that’s thanks to Mourinho!

      Just look at the way Marcelo is running after the players, it’s like a predator that is after its prey…
      People said that this Clasico was not dirty, but that’s only because last seasons were excessively unfair.
      I still think that RM did a lot of kicking and nasty little trips from behind.

      Compared to a usual football match, even the SuperCup Clasico was dirty -_-

      And still, all they complain about is our diving and play-acting (which Dive Maria and Marceloa themselves are renowned for). But at least we play without the intent to kick the opponent and possibly hurt him.

  62. Jackieboy
    August 15, 2011

    Just occured to me – know what would be a classless joke from Puyol et al? If once we win the SuperCopa, they handed the captain’s armband to Cesc. That way he’d to lift a trophy 2 days after signing for us.

    • outerspacedout
      August 15, 2011

      That would be too funny. But even as it is there would be jokes ‘six years without a trophy for Arsenal and he gets one on his debut’ if we win.

  63. paxtonpale
    August 17, 2011

    It was a cheap knock off but the question is where will he play on the pitch? DM is an option but he hasn’t played in that position for years so it will take some time adapting to the tactic. Benchwarmer or starting then taken off as a centre midfielder will be his position. I think he knows that otherwise he wouldn’t have gone back to Barcelona. He will also get more of a go with the Spain National Squad as he has come back. I saw that Del Bosque wasn’t using Alonso until he came to Spain where he used him alot. It will interesting how well he plays at Barcelona.

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