This Is Our Future.

And it’s bright or frightening depending on your allegiance.

Until someone comes up with an ode to our B-team plus Pedro, Maxwell, and Pinto [if you want to be a stickler for details, you can add in Thiago and Fontas], I leave you all with this video of the match by the ever wonderful FCBHighDef1 on YouTube:

This image:

This quote from the post match press conference:

“[Marti] Riverola was warming up and I asked him: ‘Are you ready [to come on for his CL debut]?’ And he replied: ‘I’ve been preparing for this my whole life’.” – Pep Guardiola

*Riverola has been with the Club since he was 6 years old.

And this tidbit of information:

The Babies were given a standing ovation by the first team players, who were waiting for them in the dressing room after the game. [via @Emiko84 on Twitter]

By Kari

Just your neighbourhood Barca fanatic


  1. OT:

    Just rewatched the SuperCopa 2nd leg. Now I’m positive: Cesc is going to start. Or at least he should.

    Because of the way RM press*, Alexis, Iniesta and Cesc will all be crucial.

    *Long explanation short: they use their pace to make the pitch small [compact], as they don’t play a high line, which is usually essential for successful pressing. Mourinho doesn’t want to run that risk so what they do to compensate for the lack of a high line is use their pace to close down the player.

    However, this means that there is a lot of space in between the defense. RM are gambling that they can recover the ball before you can find that open space.

    You know one player who can best exploit that space? A player who’s seen it time and time again in the EPL: Fabregas.

    There are other reasons too, of course, but the bottom line is: he pretty much has to start.

    [I can go on about this, but Euler can probably explain it better than I can.]

    1. And that is why I think Villa won’t play and Cesc will, instead. Sanchez has to play and he will play the wide role on the left, while Alves will strategically place himself on the right to either bottle up Ronaldo or play a forward roving role, if Ronaldo shifts to the left.

    2. So it would be a 3-5-2?
      VV; Puyol, Masche, Abidal; Busquets; Alves, Xavi, Iniesta; Cesc(media punta); Sanchez (on the left) and Messi (falso 9).
      But Alves would have to cover for Cristiano, I don´t think we would venture on attack often. Supercopa is a good example cause they had a better physical condition and still we won the series.
      Thank you Kari for the video, and it is so cool that the first team waited for the guys downstairs and gave them a standing ovation.

    3. Have to disagree with you there, I think Pep will go with a more flexible system (that many have already mentioned) that can offer much more choice , ability to change systems without subs, and subs (cesc) that can change a game.

      Going with this:

      -Front three adjustable
      -Essentially allowing interchange between 4-3-3 and 3-5-2
      -fresh Cesc coming on around the 60th for villa to do what he does best, be a super sub.
      – keita and puyol to shore things up once we’re up

    4. You took the thoughts right out of my brain.

      The only change I might make is swapping Pique for Puyol at the start, although I really can’t make up my mind which of them I would prefer to start.

    5. I was at a selection a few days ago, that concurs with Dani_el exactly…
      VV, Alves, Masch, Puyol, Abidal, Busquets, XavIniesta, Alexis, Cesc, Leo

      The puts and takes in the different ideas seem to continue to look like
      CescVilla, Puyol Pique

      Either way the formation/shape is going to flex. How we start and where we end is a bit of a question of how they come out and whether we bet right, and whether or not shape adjustments with who we put on the pitch at the first whistle are enough, or we need to bring on specific players (and their strengths) to change a dynamic. It is not usual for us to be too reactive though, we will try to impose our game plan, and who we rollout with will be very telling in this one.

      I was thinking last night it would be funny if after all the speculation if we rolled out 4-3-3, champions league final 11, VV, AMPA, XIB, MVP… don’t think we’ve seen that starting 11 yet, P! had a good match last night, so it’s fair game 😉

  2. @GIF.

    Why does it look like Xavi is looking at Villa for an approval to laugh?? 😆

    I knew some guys who always looked at a person that they respect/fear’s reaction first before they react 😆

    Haven’t watched the match but accidentally saw the score line. Man…. I hope that Thiago & Dos Santos bossed the midfield. Been waiting for that for over a year.

    And hopefully Muniesa, Montoya, Rafinha, Deulofeu, and Riverola didn’t disappoint.

    Was Espinosa included in the squad or not?

    1. Oh come on it doesn’t look like that at all! Xavi is already smiling before he even looks at Villa.

      LOVE the GIF. Alves is the coolest mothertrucker in all the land. Alexis always looks like he just put in a shift on the cattle farm.

  3. @ 2.09 Bartra is amazingly cool.Puyol probably wouldve berated him for that but he gets the abidal smooth approval for sure.

  4. Barca Babies are incredible! The future is ensured thankfully.
    Very happy that Pedro scored, hopefully that brings his confidence up.

    OT: What the hell is Villa wearing? It kinda looks like a rasta hat lol.

    1. Some of our players are so into the fashion and stylist eg Villa and Alves. Some are pretty casual and sporty with t-shirt and jeans like Puyol and Xavi.

      Who’s your favorite best dress from the gif. culegirl? Wanna join mom4 as Alexis fans? 🙂 cheers..

    2. OK Chiu, we can let it die now. I make one stupid comment about Alexis in jest because of the way he celebrated his first goal. I’m starting to get pissed off now. I’m old,I’m married I’m NOT a fangirl of anybody. Besides everyone here knows that Xavi is my favorite.


    3. Not blushing- fuming. I made one silly, joking comment. It’ Clasico week and I can’t even enjoy my fav. blog.

    4. It’s gotten old Calvin. I made one comment about Alexis, shirtless celebrations, and yellow cards. I’m feeling picked on. I don’t need that feeling in my life. Crappy mood and kinda sick right now so the timing aint great either.

    5. Rise above it, mom4. Joking around is OK, but some people just don’t know when to drop it. Why let it get to you?

    6. I’ll try, Blitz. For you, I’ll try. But it’s hard for humor to penetrate my sinus infection wracked head and seep through my rain induced craptastic mood. I won’t be a little flippin’ ray of sunshine, but I’ll try.

    7. I’m so sorry mom4…I’ll never talk about it anymore. Just tried to throw a joke to friens 🙂 Truce 🙂

    8. Dani, Xavi,Keita, and Adriano are the best dressed!
      Alexis has some hit and miss choices(denim shirt to a contract signing is a big no no) but I still think he’s cute..he’s even better looking with his shirt off 😉

      Looking closer at the .gif..Villa’s sweater is atrocious…I will happily volunteer to dress him AND Alexis lol.

  5. Based on what little I’ve seen, Pedro looks like Pedro! of old (e.g. the ability to make a shot out of nothing). I’d def like to see him play on Saturday. When I watched a replay of the 5-0, he gave Madrid fits with his tireless energy. But then again I’d like to see Alexis, and Cesc as well (when the latter came on against Madrid he totally opened up the game). Headaches, headaches (but good ones).

    On another note, which of the youngsters would you guys like to see promoted next?

    1. I wish for Sergi Roberto and Montoya to be promoted next season. Especially Montoya, we don’t have genuine RB back up for Alves during Pep era. I want him to have 2 or 3 seasons to learn from Alves then evolve to be our future RB.

    2. I’m going to have to echo the Montoya choice. Apart from being (arguably) the best B-team player yesterday, he is also the player who has the least players in front of him at his position. Of course, one of them is Alves, but with all the speculation about Maxwell and Abidal playing centrally and aging there is definitely a space for him to get minutes.

      I’m not counting Cuenca because he is already playing more than half the time with the first team – it’s almost a given he is going to be fully first team soon.

      Sergi Roberto looks a treat but he has a lot of competition in his position. Another year running the midfield in the B team wouldnt hurt.

      Rafinha and Muniesa both performed well but need more time in the B team as they are young.

      It was hard to comment on Bartra’s performance as he wasn’t tested much. However I getthe feeling that his promotion to the first team will mean that Fontas leaves. I can’t see them both sitting on the bench as last choice defenders.

      Dos Santos is the most interesting case. I’m on record that I don’t think he’ll make it, and I stand by that. He played ok yesterday. The thing that strikes me most about him is that he seems to be a utility player. A player who can go out there and play a role adequately and is pretty good at every aspect of the game, but he excels at none. He reminds me of Keita in a lot of ways – hard working, runs hard, is a nuisance for the other team, and looks to give the ball to more skilled players when he gets it. Unfortunately with the talent in midfield in the first team, and with younger, better midfielders like Sergi breathing down his neck, I just don’t see where his minutes are going to come from.

    3. I agree with you on JDS. I think he will get a chance in the first team because he seems to be a favourite of Guardiola, but I am not convinced that he is good enough to compete for minutes with the likes of Busquets, Xavi, Thiago, ect. He seems inconsistent to me–he will have a run of excellent games and then several where he seems a bit lost. And the right back experiment just doesn’t work for me.

    4. Dos Santos is the most interesting case. I’m on record that I don’t think he’ll make it, and I stand by that.

      Well, yeah. But I still like rooting for him. No %$#@ he’s got the best players in the world in front of him, but that doesn’t take anything away from his immense quality. That and he’s been played out of position for the last two years. Sergi Roberto is a different kind of player to JdS, too. Sergi’s a player with more llegada, like Fabregas, as opposed to Xavi, whom I think dos Santos resembles more closely, who sets the tone for how the rest of the team plays.

      Really, I just want to have something pretty to watch when México plays. My Torrado isn’t getting any younger.

    5. I know I’m coming across as a bit harsh, but don’t get me wrong, I am rooting for him. He has been an excellent servant to the club, has an great attitude, and plays with enthusiasm. What more can you really ask from a player? It’s no wonder Pep likes him, coaches love players like him – as they should.

      If we weren’t going through the best period in our clubs history coupled with the most productive period in our youth development he would probably have a good career with the club. Unfortunately I have a feeling he is going to be a victim of our success.

  6. Oh and I’m gonna catch the clasico with the Barça penya in Melbourne..any Cules in Melbourne are welcome!

  7. Our all Masia team could be amongst the top 2 teams in Europe:

    Montoya Pique Puyol
    Busi Xavi Iniesta
    Cuenca Messi Pedro

    Subs: Thiago, Fontas, Sergi Roberto, JDS, and couple other random players from yesterday.

  8. What I noticed yesterday is that the Babies played the System better than the grownups. Properly executed, the System almost makes opponent quality superfluous.

    Pass–move–receive–repeat. I have not, this season, seen the System played with that degree of effectiveness, and I think it demonstrated that it works. Those who have already seen my natterings on Twitter know my view, but I don’t think the Babies would have lost to Getafe. That was a match in which the System was desperately needed, and it broke down for no reason other than it was abandoned.

    But the Babies …. no “Hey, looka me!” moments, no dwelling on the ball, just single touches and movement. The future is so bright I want to burst into song. And Cuenca really is an extraordinary player. You can tell because his quality just moves with him. He was just as vibrant and active as he was with the A team, though in a slightly different role. His passes were so incisive.

    Montoya means that we’re set at RB for a long time to come, and Rafinha, as others have noted, has that undefinable something that even Thiago doesn’t have. It’s more than a confidence. It’s a lack of belief that there are limits, a Ronaldinhoesque quality that makes a player wonder what the ball can do.

    If that group stays together, barring more EE spending sprees, I just don’t see us not being Liga and European contenders for the next decade.

    1. What I thought as well while I was watching the match. I told my lil brother that the only thing missing from the next gen team is a special player like Messi but that could be a good thing too.

      But I’d still have someone special like Messi to give them that extra spark.

    2. I’d say that’s defo a good thing. Don’t know if you’re a sci-fi buff, but there is an Isaac Asmimov trilogy (Foundation) about a math formula used to govern mankind. Said formula was blown up by a mutant, called The Mule. That is Messi. The System works. But Messi is a mutant. When you have a player who can do the stuff that he does, the System tends to adapt to that player, rather than the player adapting.

      Watching the Babies reminded me of the System in the hands of the Henry/Eto’o/Messi front line, in that there was an egalitarian trio of threats. Everybody moved, pressured the ball and did the pass/receive/pass thing. Like the Babies.

      Now, Busquets dwells on the ball, does that obligatory pull-back thing he does, then passes the ball. Messi makes his runs. Villa hovers on the shoulder of the defense, waiting for the through ball. People are doing what they do, instead of playing the system.

      It’s complex. I’d argue that Messi is even better within the context of the System, as he was during the last match. Note how significantly fewer his Quixotic flights were, and how much more effectively the offense flowed as a consequence. Yes, it’s nice to stand back and say “Look at that Flea go!” But I don’t know that such things help the System.

    3. Very interesting comparison to the Foundation trilogy, I thought I was the only one nerdy enough to read stuff like that.

      While Messi is the mutant, I would argue it is necessary for the team to have at least one (multiple would be better) players who are able to break out of the system when necessary. Without the mutant, the system becomes too patterned, it becomes to easy to understand and to stop. The inclusion of players who can break out of the system gives our offense a bit of randomness that exists outside the system but makes it so much harder to defend the system.

      You mention the ’09 offensive spear – a great example of a time when all three of our forwards were able to play within the system but also to create a bit of randomness that made us so hard to defend. Henry and Etoo both had the individual class and decisiveness to break out of the system, and we were that much more dangerous for it.

      I think our problems this year are two-fold. As you mentioned we do have some players like Busquets who are doing their own thing instead of working to perform their role in the system (the further up the field you go, the more useful it is to be able to break the system – randomness is much less useful in the defensive line).

      I think Villa personifies the other problem we have faced – I don’t think his problem is not working within the system, but that he had become too comfortable in the system and looks to take initiative and break out of the system much less than he used to. I don’t know, but I bet if you compare his offside count from last year and this year you’ll find be was off way more last year – a symptom of being too comfortable in the system. His lack of drive to break out has blunted our attack somewhat – we have to look to Messi for our creative spark instead of being able to look to any of Messi, Etoo, or Henry. This is also why the signings of Sanchez and Fabregas were great – they are both players who are skilled and intelligen enough to play in the system, but they both also have the x-factor which allows them to break out as needed.

    4. Spot on there kxevin. About the system, Getafe, Montoya, Rafinha! Spoke my mind during the game.

      We saw rapid ball circulation at a frenzy until Deulofeu came who was the only “Hey looka me”. But the kid has serious potential.

      So proud of this team and the whole System.

    5. Agreed on Deulofeu, unfortunately in both games I’ve seen him he has been trying too hard to be the hero instead of accepting that he is a young player who should be focusing on doing the simple things right when he plays with the first team.

      Hate to say it, but it reminded me a lot of watching Bojan play the last couple of years.

    6. I don’t think the Babies would have lost to Getafe.

      Reality Check:

      Yes, the Babies were amazing. They used the System and played a terrific game. Would they have beaten Getafe? Quite possibly. But this is the same team that lost 3-0 to Elche just a few days ago. They have their weaknesses and inconsistencies just like the first team does, and they are also less experienced. When was the last time the first team gave up 3 goals?

      I’m not criticizing the Babies, just pointing out that this performance was the game of their lives and not really typical of how they have been playing all season. (Although I feel obliged to note that neither Carmona nor Armando were called up for this game. 😛 )

    7. Had the Babies played this match against Getafe, they would not have lost. And it couldn’t have been the same team, as they wouldn’t have had Pinto, Pedro, Maxwell or Thiago. Or Cuenca, for that matter, and all were difference-makers today in terms of stabilizing the tendencies of wayward youth.

      It was movement that was going to beat Getafe. Movement and playing to the system. Neither one happened. Instead there was a too-late reliance on individual brilliance, which didn’t go all that hot. Note how hard Pinto ran for that stray ball that was headed toward the end line, by way of just one example.

      Would the straight-up B team have not lost to Getafe? Impossible to say, but that possibility is extremely doubtful. But yesterday’s XI, playing the system as fluently as it did, would not have lost to Getafe, for the aforementioned reasons.

  9. This match was very impressive. The fluidity of the movement, how crisp, quick, often one touch the passing was, the excellent pressing, the patient build ups…just like the first team used to do…??? damn, they really played a hell of a match. Really exciting to see. I hope we have ironed out a solid strategy for holding and bringing the best/brightest through the ranks, because they will be a joy to watch for years. That was probably one of the most dominant performances I’ve seen in the CL this year (granted BATE not a top tier opponent, but still – the team was like an average of 21 including a couple of first team outliers…) Really excellent.

  10. This match was absolutely amazing. It’s true Kxev, this team would have beaten Getafe and isn’t reliant on Messi. These players trust the system, our senior player trust Messi. When our senior players get back to basics life will be good again.
    I honestly think that it was our best match of the season.

    As regards to the Classico, I think that the players will be
    Alves, Puyol*, Mascherano, Abidal, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc, Messi & Alexis

    *or Pique

    As I see it we’ll play a 3-5-2 with Puyol*, Masch & Abidal in defense, Busquets in front with Xavi and Iniesta alongside. Alves and Alexis on the wings and Cesc and Messi up top.

    This formation can be switched to 4-3-3 by moving Dani back and Alexis forward. It can also be switched to 3-4-3 by moving Dani & Alexis forward and moving Cesc back.

    To change the match we’d have Thiago to add stability in midfield, Villa/Pedro to have a threat in behind the defense.

    Defensively, our problems will be on the wings with Marcelo & Ronaldo attacking the right back area and Di Maria on the other wing so we’ll need Alexis and Alves to be tracking back as well as going forward. But this defensive awareness can’t prevent us from trying to isolate Arbeloa at right back or exploit the space behind Marcelo when he is attacking.
    EE have been strong defensively in the centre of the defense but vulnerable on the wings.

  11. I just logged in to say that I enjoyed watching the Babies more than the A team, They’re much more entertaining and willing to take the risk, They shoot and run at defenders rather than take the safe option of passing.

  12. Graham Hunter on Valdes (and the Clasico):

    his remarkable ability to stay utterly focused while his team prevents him from having much work to do and then to react, perfectly, on the one or two vital occasions when he’s truly needed is underestimated — at least by everyone aside from his teammates and coaches. He even deserves an “assist” credit for the sublime pass he played to Dani Alves, practically on his own goal line, to set Barca en route to their first goal in the Champions League semifinal Clasico second leg at Camp Nou.

    1. Switching to that game. Can’t watch Ajax – Madrid anymore after the unbelievable diplay by the officials.

    2. Even trying to find a calm way to talk about it is making me upset all over again.Truly disgraceful.

    3. Ajax needed a draw, and nothing lyon did would matter. they equalized twice, both times the officials invented offside and said nope, no cl for you.Predictably, madrid got the second after that as you don’t get second chances against world class teams and Lyon scored the 6 or 7 goals they needed to get through.

  13. I keep thinking about Cuenca in this match. Up to this match I had thought his success was that his skill set was perfectly suited to the role he was asked to play. In the 3-4-3 width has to come from the wide forwards, and with Sanchez injured we didn’t really have anyone to play there. Pedro is better when he can cover lots of distance and come inside and take advantage of space. Villa likes to come inside the closer he gets to goal. Pep played Adriano there a couple times to try to get width. Cuenca filled this role brilliantly, he maintains width well, can beat his man endline, and has a dangerous cross. I thought his success was due to his ability to play the role the team was desperate for tactically.

    But yesterday his role was different in the classic 4-3-3. He needed to stay wide less and facilitate play more. And he rose to the occasion magnificently. He didn’t just provide 3 assists, he was menacing and heavily involved. I also love how he grabbed his short first team stint and performed like a leader on the field.

    It reminds me a lot of Pedro’s rise where he just kept going from strength to strength, and it’s very encouraging.

    1. It shifts again as Inler scores a Golazo for Napoli, knocking the Yaya out of the CL as it stands.

    1. To be honest, I think that Olympique Lyon has a lot more quality in its squad than Ajax. They somehow fail to perform in many matches this season, but I still think that OL is the better team and deserverdly goes to the Ro16.
      We do already have enough ‘surpirse’ teams in there, and in my opinion Ajax is not any better than Basel or CSKA or Nikosia etc.

    1. But it would be entertaining games – we played them in August and it was a great game and a manita. Granted, they were in an early phase of their preseason preparations but we weren’t that ready ourselves either.

  14. Quite clearly the Europa league is the best league in the world
    -English media tomorrow

  15. Heh heh heh City and United both out. I’m glad cos I figured them as fourth and fifth most worrying sides, after us, Real and Bayern. Now after the Clasico I can make a judgement on how confident I’d feel facing up against Real in the CL, though right now I’d be quite confident. And I’m pretty happy that a bunch of rivals are out.

    1. Somehow, I hope those big teams are going through R16. It’s good for the competitiveness level of CL. high probability of cracker match. great show for football lovers in general.

      I know it’ll be more complicated for us to win with those big fish around. But the joy during the process if we win it by beating the elites would be amazing.

  16. These results severely limit the number of teams with realistic chances of winning the CL. Bayern, maybe, Chelsea, unlikely but you can’t write them off, and that’s it; there really is nobody else who seems capable of doing it unless a huge surprise happens, i.e. there is a serious likelihood of meeting EE in the CL again. Hopefully it’s not the final – there will be heart attacks if it happens.

    1. Yeah, if Real aren’t going to be eliminated I’d prefer to meet them in the quarters, maybe even semis, anywhere but the final. Way way too much nerves, though it would be glorious to win.

    2. Better be the quarters – this way it will be separated by a few weeks from the La Liga game . And hopefully we can draw the first game to be away at the Bernabeu

    3. Not me, I wish we meet EE in the final. It would be the best CL final in the century. Hopefully we’re the la liga winner as well before play that final.

    1. I also don’t think they can. But I fear that in a single game, they may pull it off, similar to what happened in the Copa del Rey final. Which is why I don’t want to meet them in the final. Of course, the best case scenario is that someone else knocks them out and we don’t play them at all but I don’t really see a team capable of doing that right now

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