And now, the end is here.

The last game of the season. The last Liga game for Pep before he leaves for a life of not being bear-hugged by Pinto, or being tossed in the air each time the team wins another damn trophy.

What the heck are we going to do over summer?  Feed Cuenca? Thank goodness for the Euros.

Barça travels to Seville to play Real Betis Balompié who are going on a promotional pre-season trip to China in July.  I’m sure that Roque Santa Cruz would much rather spend time on the beach working on his tan, but this is the price when you make it into La Liga.  There are bigger bills to pay.

Betis is mid-table with nothing really left to play for except pride, and the chance to brag about beating Barça on the green, green grass of home.

Puyol, Pinto and Alexis are out and injured. Blaugrana thoughts are already on the Copa del Rey, so they just want to get the game done and dusted, without further injury.  Messi will be looking to score at least 10 to match the number on his back.

The game happens at 22:00 local time.  Use this link to see what time that will be in your little corner of the world:  Real Betis Balompié vs. FC Barcelona

If you need to watch the game and it’s not on a TV channel near you, look here:  Links

If you were Barça Manager for tomorrow’s game, who would you play from who is available?  Should Pep play in midfield?

Go wild in the comments.

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  1. ciaran
    May 11, 2012

    Just about to be hectored before I refreshed the page…

    My earlier comment made me think of a quick squad analysis.

    Keepers – we’re sorted, I’m not sold on Pinto but he’s a good back up. A replacement second keeper is next summer’s work, not this one.
    Valdes & Pinto
    No transfers needed.

    Right Back – Alves is the undisputed starter and Montoya is a more than capable substitute. The Alves rumours hopefully are false or designed to focus him for next season.
    Alves & Montoya
    No transfers needed.

    Centre Back – Pique & Mascherano have been brilliant at different times but if they can both maintain their best form then I don’t think a starter is needed. Puyol isn’t quite finished yet but I’m not convinced about Bartra, Fontas & Muniesa for all different reasons and not confident that Abidal will play any real part next season.
    For that reason, I’d love if we signed someone. I don’t see the advantage of spending €30-40million on Thiago Silva to dislodge Mascherano.
    Alberto Botia could be brought back from Sporting but he’s isn’t world class and not a huge step up in quality from Bartra, Fontas & Muniesa. I would potentially re-sign him and sell him on for maybe €5million profit.
    Jan Vertonghen has been mentioned and while I like him, I don’t see him being happy being 3rd or 4th choice centre back. He looks likely to head for Spurs.
    Javi Martinez has recently resurfaced as an option. There are a number of advantages to this move. He is tall, strong and relatively quick. Can play in defense or midfield and is somewhat integrated with some of our squad. He isn’t going to be cheap though. I would imagine at a push we might get him for €25million.
    Pique, Mascherano, Puyol, youth system & a signing
    In: Javi Martinez & Botia
    Out: Fontas on loan, Botia

    Left Back – Abidal is the perfect left back for us, physically he is like a centre back but faster and tactically he is brilliant. Will he play next season? I’m not sure but I doubt it. Adriano has been a decent replacement but can’t quite fill Abidal’s role. I believe he is worth staying for another few seasons though, to cover both fullback positions and others.
    Gareth Bale and Jordi Alba are the two serious contenders for this position. Gareth Bale is the star signing and it would be nice in theory but €30-40million for a left back is a lotta cash. Jordi Alba is the obvious choice in my opinion due to value, integration and the Masia connection.
    Adriano, (Abidal)
    In: Jordi Alba

    Defensive Midfield – Busquets is the undisputed starter and that won’t change. Keita done a much better job this season than last in the position but there are too many rumours and he is 32 now. A move is likely in my opinion. If we were to sign Javi Martinez then problem is solved. Capoue of Toulouse has been mentioned and is big, strong and young enough to improve.
    In: Javi Martinez as above.
    Out: Keita

    Centre Midfield – Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc & Thiago are all amazing players so I can’t see any reason to change that.
    Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc & Thiago
    No transfers needed

    Forwards – Messi, Villa, Alexis, Pedro, Cuenca & Tello is a fairly decent lineup. But for various reasons this season only Messi scored more than 15 goals. I’m not saying we need an overhaul we are over dependent on the best player in history. It is true for all the pundits that if Messi got an injury we would be in trouble. Iniesta has played left wing too many times this season and is much better centrally. Cuenca is virtually no goal threat and although he is tactically disciplined, he offers little that Pedro on his day can’t. Tello may eventually be the better player than Cuenca but he is even less experienced and isn’t yet ready to be relied upon. I believe that Cuenca would benefit more from a season on loan than Tello would though, as Tello needs tika taka training. Lastly, Villa in my opinion will not be sold even though there have been rumours but I would like a forward if possible. Not necessarily a plan B but something a little less mighty might.
    Llorente is far too one dimensional for me, and would be an expensive experiment. RvP would be perfect but is highly unlikely to join. Hulk has the pace, power and shot but is a better counter attacker from the Porto matches I watch. Also, Porto DO NOT sell cheap. He is out of reach. Someone else mentioned Tevez, and while I like him, I see the same problems as with the Argentina national team, that he and Messi try to occupy the same space. Neymar will stay in Brazil another season, I’m not even sure if I want anything to do with him but if he is as good as Pele thinks then we need to sign him up.
    Messi, Villa, Alexis, Pedro, Cuenca & Tello
    In: RvP or no one, unless Tito believes in Neymar.
    Out: Cuenca on loan if a striker arrives.

    • messifan
      May 11, 2012

      Where’s Afellay? He should stay with us, especially if Keita goes.

      My concerns with Alba are his height and defensive ability. We don’t need another midget added to the team, and I haven’t seen enough of his defensive skills to decide if he’s a good fit. Can’t wait to see what he can do at the Euro.

      • KEVINO17
        May 12, 2012

        Totally agree with you. Bale and Alba seem to have similar pace (both blistering). But Bale is much stronger and taller. I think he would be better in broken play (stopping counter-attacks). Further, from what I’ve seen of him, he is good in the air which is important against the parked bus and would be important defensively. In other words, he seems to bring so many things that Alba doesn’t. For someone with his talent who is still only 22, 40 million euro is a steal. With him Barca may be mind-numbingly good next year.

    • Dani_el
      May 12, 2012

      Agree with you almost completely. Though I like RvP, I think Cavani might do a better impact on our team. He’s younger too. He can start in a wing, he has shooting and heading abbilities. Maybe he would prove himself to be a great asset.

      Jordi Alba 12M euros.
      Javi Martinez 25M euros. Jan Vertonghen would cost 12M
      Cavani 28M

      Keita 10M

    • mjtaba
      May 13, 2012

      My feel for the next season is different, keeping it reasonable and accounting all the factors involved this is what i come up with :-


      Tito has a history with the club’s youth so to build confidence with the club officials and players he will rely more on the La Masia products . I loved PEP but not his transfer decisions , lets hope Tito’s are better if he make any najor changes.

      87-Valdes is good but not the best.
      82-Pinto is a replacement and wont offer much.
      at the moment the GK position looks OK but OK in my books is not Perfect , if we go for Michel VORM , judging by his abilities and form he will be a better replacement the Pinto and basically will be a threat to Valdes.

      pinto OUT Vorm IN



      93-Dani ALVES – undisputed starter
      76-Montoya – will do OK if Dani isn’t there
      85-Puyol – optional


      94-Puyol – if fit , the obvious starter
      90-Pique – another obvious starter
      79-Bartra – haven’t been tested but the feel is right.
      70-Fontas – untested mostly but in the number of matches played
      seems better then BARTRA
      91-Masherano – an excelent defender although he is just a
      replacement, i love this guys workrate and
      determination but i feel he can do better in the
      DMF position.

      everybody says we need defenders , YES WE DO , from the system YES but we need someone world class , i know my options will make ppl mad but i give u 84-RANOCCHIA and 89-CHILLENI , the both SERIA A defenders are cruel and perfect because of their defending abilitis and in the BARCA High Line might add something extra. T.silva will be more expensive then these two combined.

      Fontas OUT (Loan) Ranocchia & Chilleni IN


      89-Abidal – lets hope he plays more because as the moment i dont
      see him playing too many matches.
      80-Adriano – Havent been perfect but good enough to stick around.

      some are saying JORDI ALBA some are saying G.BALE . what do i say? hmmm heres a thought….Get em both . Abidal have medical issues and age pushing him away and Adriano is not that impressive overall.Re invent the LB position altogether.

      Abidal & Adriano OUT Alba & Bale IN



      89-Basquest – obvious starter
      83-Keita – in my opinion should be sold at any cost
      88-Masherano – a natural in the position


      94-Xavi – perfect
      94-Iniesta – perfect
      84-Thiago – learnig rapidly
      89-CESC – PEP used him in the advance role but his real
      brilliance is in the midfield where i feel he will
      be better.
      99-Messi – simply the BEST
      88-Affelay – lets hope he stays injury free to give us some
      solid performances.

      88-KAGAWA IN

      a very good player who plays in the same area where MESSI does , can free him up to be the striker again and taking the creating responsibilities off his shoulder.


      91-Villa – shouldnt be sold as he still has alot to offer
      84-Pedro – if gains confidence and form then Perfect.
      80-Cuenca – Still needs time.
      81-Tello – Still needs time.
      85-Alexis – Hard Worker just need a bit more luck.

      just buy Kagawa to free Messi up to come back to the forwards and we will be golden 🙂

  2. Larm
    May 11, 2012

    if i was manager, 3rd string keeper(dont know the name) montoya, pique, smash, adriano, JDS, thiago, Keita, Messi, Pedro, tello.

    bring on Xavi, Mini, and Puyol all at the same time sometime around the 60th.

    • Larm
      May 11, 2012

      also just to be clear on the puyol sub, i know hes hurt, hes just gonna stand (or sit depending on how he feels) in the center circle and snarls at anybody who dare comes close. hes gonna have a stiff drink in one hand and the captains armband in the other. all while saying something about staying off his lawn

      • nzm
        May 11, 2012

        Yeah – I could see him doing that!

        I don’t think that he’s going to be travelling though – I think that his operation is scheduled for the same day.

      • blitzen
        May 11, 2012

        Yeah, Puyol is out for the season. I think his operation is scheduled for tomorrow.

        I would like your lineup, except Pep already said VV will play. Oier will be on the bench. And I’m pretty sure JDS is already in Almeria with the B team. Bartra & Monty are definitely in the squad, though, so I would like to see:

        Montoya Pique Bartra Adriano
        Cesc Keita Thiago
        Afellay Messi Pedro

        Subs: Xavi, Tello, Villa Cuenca

      • K_legit in Oz
        May 11, 2012

        So, in addition to being intoxicated, you also want Puyol to consume some hallucinogens?

      • mom4
        May 11, 2012

        Yeah, I know Puyi can’t be there, but the visual Larm gave us made me lol.

  3. dean
    May 11, 2012

    Regrets, I’ve had a few, yet this last league game will cement what was an amazing season, and an amazing era. I hope the next chapter in this clubs history will be as fruitful.

  4. messifan
    May 11, 2012

    Betis are going to China? That’s cool. More exposure for La Liga 😀

    My prefered lineup for tomorrow is:

    Subs: Cuenca, Cesc and Xavi

    • messifan
      May 11, 2012

      And there’s not enough red in that design. They should compensate by going with red shorts. That would be so out there in terms of style;) But my guess is that Nike will go with blue shorts with red embellishments. Can’t wait for the official unveiling of the new kits.

      I saw the away jersey too; no comment on that.

      • mom4
        May 11, 2012

        I kinda like both (‘cept the logo bit ofcourse).
        *runs and hides*

    • Puppet
      May 11, 2012

      I’ll admit I’ve disliked the design of the new shirts since it got leaked a while back. But I DO like how a strange new design can symbolize the evolution of the team under new management. Obviously it remains to be seen what exactly will be different about the team under Tito, but no doubt some things will change tactically, and a weird-looking kit seems somehow fitting in the midst of this shift.

    • Sheena
      May 11, 2012

      It’s okay, but it kind of looks more like a training top than a jersey.

    • Messiah10
      May 12, 2012

      That’s awful! Really disappointing. I like the design. It’s different and unique, but NOT for our home kit! We are a club with tradition, history, & culture. If this is our home kit I will be boycotting by not buying one and starting a petition to have them burned in a huge bonfire in the middle of Camp Nou. Why do we have to change a kit every year? Last years were beautiful. The yellow around the collar was all class. Hate the Qatar Foundation on them, but I guess I’ll have to get used to that. Seriously, a faded red stripe with 90% blue is not blaugrana. Just another reason to count down Rosell’s days in office.

  5. icemel
    May 11, 2012

    Cool, is this a nzm promotion to the first team or an end of the year callup? Thanks for the time-zone and game links.

      • nzm
        May 12, 2012

        Thanks Calvin.

        icemel: I’m a late-season signing. 🙂 Kevin approached me a few weeks ago, and I asked him if I could delay it for a couple of months. But then I got to thinking about doing a retrospective Year-that-was article, so signed up earlier.

        The article has taken on a life of its own and will be released in one form or the other, but in the meantime I climbed the mooring lines and sneaked on board. 😀

  6. Blau-Grenade
    May 11, 2012

    Dear M, Pleasure to read another wonderful post by you. S 🙂

    • nzm
      May 12, 2012

      Why, thank you, kind Sir. 😀

      Hope that you are recovering well, and will be hitting that dance floor again soon!

  7. mom4
    May 11, 2012

    Look at nzm being all Moddy and all. You go, girl!

    US programming:
    3:55 EST on your choice of
    ESPN2, ESPN2D, ESPN3, ESPN Deportes

    We were at the stadium for the Betis v Sevilla derby in January. Great stadium (even if it is in disrepair), awesome fans (even if they smoke like smokestacks and chant very rude Spanish chants (it’s amusing how benign certain words sound when not spoken in one’s native tongue)), and an excellent pitch (unless they let it get all funky just because they’re hosting us). Love that club and fans but rest assured that my Real Betis scarf stays in my closet tomorrow.

    If I were manager for the day I’d be much richer I would play:
    Alves, Pique, Masch, Adriano
    Busi, Ini, Thiago
    Pedro'(half a !), Messi, Cesc
    No messin’ around for el Mister’s last league game!

    Xavi comes in after 60, Keiteeeee and Cuenca sub later.

    Dangit nzm, now I’ll be humming My Way all night!
    And now, the end is near;
    And so I face the final curtain.
    My friend, I’ll say it clear,
    I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.
    I’ve lived a life that’s full.
    I’ve traveled each and ev’ry highway;
    But more, much more than this,
    I did it my way.

    • nzm
      May 12, 2012

      Teehee – maybe I’ll make that my trademark – song titles and lines for my Headings!

  8. Dani_el
    May 12, 2012

    Frank de Boer, ex Barça player and Ajax’s coach said that if he worked for Barça he would sign this player..
    He reportedly can play as a left back in addition to being a center back, he started his career as a DM.

    Jan Vertonghen
    Date of birth: 24.04.1987
    Place of birth: Sint-Niklaas
    Age: 25
    Height: 1,89
    Nationality: Belgium
    Position: Defence – Centre Back
    Foot: left
    Market value: 10.500.000 £
    12.000.000 €

    • nzm
      May 12, 2012

      He was born in a place that translates to Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus? How cool is that!

      I think that Tottenham have already got their spurs into him. 😀

      • Dani_el
        May 12, 2012

        Hey you’re right! Didn’t see that one. 😀

  9. nzm
    May 12, 2012

    Puyol is in recovery mode after his knee operation.

  10. blitzen
    May 12, 2012

    Lucho gave a press conference today, you can find the full text in English here:

    They threw themselves into my vision. Certainly some fans have not understood what I did, but I think about being honest with myself first, then with the club, the players and the fans. I said right from the start that if I could not be of help to the team then I would leave.

    This support, which behaved in the most faithful manner, is important for the team and the club. I am proud that we marched together, I hope for a path full of success and I hope [that Roma] become a true team. I have no reproaches to make against anyone. If I have made some mistakes, I apologise, but I continue to be convinced that in Italy it is possible to play good football. I continue to prefer attacking football, even if you prefer that I should improve the defensive phases.

    It seems to me that it was the constant criticism from the media and the fans that wore him down. Certainly there were players who didn’t “get” his vision as well, but I think the core of the team was behind him.

    Yesterday he was presented with the “Golden Tapir”, an award given out by an Italian news show to celebrities who have been humiliated in some way. Being Lucho, he accepted it graciously. Lucho is much harder on himself than any external force could ever be.

    This whole thing makes me sad. I hope to see him coaching again soon, preferably in Spain, and someday back at Barcelona.

    • barca96
      May 12, 2012

      I still find it weak of him to leave after just one season in charge of a top flight season. Well, if he can’t handle Roma, how is he ever going to handle the pressure handling Barca?

      Pep complained earlier that he had to do 3 press conferences every week in Barcelona but they do it every day, before and after every match and there are tons of papers writing fiction 24/7.

      It is part of their job. Nobody is immune to this.

      • Messiah10
        May 12, 2012

        My thoughts exactly. If you have the support of the club president, the club, and most players(sell ones who are cancers in the locker room), then why leave? If it’s because he couldn’t take the negative press, which it seems to be, then he won’t make it anywhere. I can understand it hard when the fans won’t get behind you, but it’s your job to convince them. Pep didn’t ave the support of everyone fromt he get go. Remember the 0-2 record to begin. People were calling for his head. He simply stated that we had to attack more and he wouldn’t change anything. Point is is that he held firm in the face of adversity. You have to do that now. In this world of 24/7 instant access and news. Use it to your advantage. Us against the world mentality.

    • May 12, 2012

      Euler and I just chatting about that on Twitter. Key will be very careful management of expectations, and bringing him along at the right pace. Has potential to be Sanchez-like, with Tello pace, or another Assulin/Krkic. Management is crucial. In many ways, another reason Vilanova is the right choice for the coaching job. Need a coach who will be as committed to the B Team and bringing its talents along in the right way.

      • K_legit in Oz
        May 12, 2012

        Too true..Visibly faded in the second half and he needs to up the defense side of his play..On a corner he was jogging back on picking his man leading to a 2 on 1 situation..Still very young, mind.

  11. May 12, 2012

    Sitting at breakfast with wifey, wearing an FCB fleece pullover. A guy taking his daughter to the restroom stops, points at the crest and says “You know, they’re playing today, on TV. On ESPN2.” I just smiled and said “Thank you.” 😀

    • barca96
      May 12, 2012


      In US? Are they really getting good exposure?
      Do you think it was due to the tour there or because they are winning?
      How is the fanbase compared to EE’s in US?

      • Messiah10
        May 12, 2012

        The fan base is here. The exposure is limited. Papers or Sportscenter(our version of Sky) mention Messi and Barca occasionally. EE has as large a fan base but same exposure. It’s changing year by year. ESPN Deportes carries games the most besides GolTV, but most cities and towns you need satellite t.v. to watch. ESPN started showing highlights a couple of years ago of PL & Liga. Regular ESPN(satellite not needed)carries PL games every weekend. Most are in the wee hours of Sat. morning though. Today is the 1st time ESPN2(no satellite needed) is showing Barca, but they are showing the game w/Spanish speaking announcers from ESPN Deportes. So, I think this is a test run to see what kind of viewing #’s they get. The problem is that most Americans don’t speak dual languages. If they do it’s most likely Spanish, but most(average fans) people who saw Barca would be on will probably change it once they figure out they won’t be able to hear(understand) the game. However, I expect the numbers to be better than normal Deportes numbers b/c there are a lot of Latino’s & Hispanic’s who probably don’t get Deportes who will tune in. It’s all based on $. If the viewers are there, they’ll start carrying the games. If not, it will stay on Deportes. Personally, they can keep their PL games and leave Liga to GolTv. I’m a huge Ray Ray and Phil fan and like to support the little guy. When I walk around w/my gear on, a lot of people notice it and recognize it. They may have to look closely at my beat up hat, but then they’ll say, “Messi!”, or “Barcelona huh?”, or go into a diatribe of how soccer sucks and then I have to set the record straight!

    • mom4
      May 12, 2012

      That’s pretty cool.

      To Barca96- It’s rare for anyone to recognize Barca in the US.
      Lots of kids play soccer here. And there it mostly ends.
      Some people follow MLS.
      Fewer people follow European football. When they do, it’s usually EPL.
      There’s a much better following amongst Latin Americans. More recent European immigrants like my fil from Hungary will follow stuff. He, sadly, likes EPL. 🙁
      Dunno about the difference between Barca and EE support.

    • nzm
      May 12, 2012

      Thank you. 🙂 Dedicated to the Mister.

      I’ll age myself now by stating that Frankie is on my iPod. 😀

      • May 12, 2012

        Oh, mine too (though I will amend iPod to “digital music device,” since I am not an Apple fan). Nothing, never, anything like him and never will be.

        But I always tell people, when looking for a song that perfectly sums up what he did, to look up “Let’s Face the Music and Dance,” rather than the more traditional, familiar Sinatra faves. Absolute, one-take perfection.

        When rappers talk about that elusive thing called “flow,” that ultimate synergy of words and music, surfing the song like a master, this is what they mean. Magic.

        • SoccerMom
          May 12, 2012

          Leave “old school” to actual old people.

          There’s only one “Let’s Face the Music and Dance”, and it’s sung by a bankrupt Fred Astaire to a suicidal Ginger Rogers on the deck of a floating casino in “Follow the Fleet”.

          • Miguel
            May 12, 2012

            The lot of you are fucking fossils in my book.

          • nzm
            May 12, 2012

            Actually – Diana Krall also does a very nice version of “Let’s Face the Music” too.

            Miguel – have another cerveza, por favor. 🙂

  12. K_legit in Oz
    May 12, 2012

    Something definitely off with the B team..drop very deep to defend instead of maintaining high line like the first team..not impressed with that and they don’t seem to like it either..Too many crosses coming in and Almeria is always winning the first ball..Almeria finishing is poor

  13. K_legit in Oz
    May 12, 2012

    And wow now they are playing hoof-ball and not even attempting a few passes..This is just not the Barça way

      • Dani_el
        May 12, 2012

        Uy que buena salsa! Lavoe and the fania all stars.

        I love Sinatra though, their “songs for swinging lovers” and “sings only for the lonely” from the 1950’s are my favourite albums.

        Salsa is latin jazz, salsa dura from the 1970’s it’s great, awesome and uncomparable.

      • Blau-Grenade
        May 12, 2012

        Yes. It is very popular both in Europe and America for dancing. I’ve danced to this song in both Europe and North American clubs.

  14. nzm
    May 12, 2012

    If you’re not watching the Pokal match between Dortmund and Munich, you should be! 😀

  15. ciaran
    May 12, 2012

    Alves Pique Masch Adriano
    Xavi Busquets Keita
    Afellay Messi Pedro
    according to mundo deportivo

    • Jim
      May 12, 2012

      I despair. Why would you leave Iniesta out again ? If Xavi’s achilles is hurting why play him? Iniesta can do that job.

  16. messifan
    May 12, 2012

    Is there a liveblog or match thread today?

  17. Ryan
    May 12, 2012

    Looks like we’re commandeering this here post for game comments?

    Excited to see Ibi get his first start since the injury!

  18. messifan
    May 12, 2012

    Good to see Pique out there. I miss him!

    It seems like a great atmosphere out there. Very loud.

  19. Judas Pissed
    May 12, 2012

    Are we seeing the first signs of a ‘counter-attacking’ Barca? If that’s what Tito brings, the rest of world football will have to rethink what they’ve learned over the last 4 years….

    • messifan
      May 12, 2012

      I know! He can be useful at their end but not near our box 🙂

  20. Judas Pissed
    May 12, 2012

    A ‘dangerous from set pieces Barca’! The football world shifts uncomfortably…

  21. messifan
    May 12, 2012

    Did anyone see that mascot at the end?

  22. May 12, 2012

    Hi everyone-just put up a new match thread. Was having trouble with the site. Sorry for no loveblob.

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