Messi’s Magical Season for 2011/2012

La Pulga ~ The Messi-ah ~ D10S ~ Magisterial ~ Sempre Messi.

Last season, he was “PlayStation Messi”.  This past season, the media ran out of earth-bound superlatives for Barça’s #10, so then came descriptive phrases such as “from another planet” and “out of this world”, for there is nowhere else to go except to infinity and beyond.

When references to other worlds appear, you know that the person being talked about is in an elite echelon – towering above his peers – mere words unable to describe what he does, or how he makes us feel whenever he pulls off another Messi-esque move.

“Gaaaaaargh!!!!!!!!!! Nothing less than the equivalent of a foot-balling bird of paradise is this man, that defies the description, ‘man’. Genius of geniuses! He’s like Doctor Spock! He’s out of his Vulcan mind! Absolutely out of this world! Lionel! Look at the tuck away, look at the pace, he folds(?) this field up in warp speed, Doctor Spock, in warp speed. Maaagesterial Argentina! Magesteerial Leoo! Running like he’s got a food mixer down his shorts, and it set the beat.” ~ Ray Hudson, GolTV, Málaga vs. Barça, 22nd January, 2012.

If you haven’t yet heard Ray-Ray say that, do yourself a favour and listen here!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzNhDgi1jZ0

We watch the replays, shake our heads and still think that our eyes have fooled us, because there’s no way a human should be that co-ordinated to move body and mind together, to perform such outrageous manoeuvres as quickly as Messi can.

Therein lies his super-power strength – that ability to disengage his mind, go into the zone, and let his feet do the thinking. Only once the ball is in the net does the rest of him catch up. I’ve seen times when he almost shakes himself back to the present, as if not really knowing what he just did; so proud and pleased, as if he’s saying, “Did you see what just happened? Wow – we’re good!  Let’s celebrate with a team hug.”

“Although he may not be human, it’s good that Messi still thinks he is. Messi plays another sport.” ~ Javier Mascherano, Barça TV interview, 5th May 2012, after the 5-0 Espanyol (farewell to Pep) match at Camp Nou.

That zen-like zone, in which athletes revel and seemingly perform above human capability, can’t be trained or taught. There isn’t a lesson plan for it. You either have it or you don’t. It either switches on or it doesn’t.

When it doesn’t engage, super-human athletes become almost ordinary. A bad day at the office. They over-think; cannot instinctively find the right movements; find themselves out of position; out of synchronicity and everything seems to go wrong. We’ve seen glimpses of that in Messi this season during games, with his ambling around the pitch, the missed hook-ups with other team-mates, as well as his runs forward which turn to nothing as a defender deprives him of the ball, and he looks up in wide-eyed disbelief that it’s just not working right now.

He can’t be brilliant all the time. This is a team sport, after all.

Messi’s presence on the pitch is enough to keep 2 or 3 defenders occupied for almost the entire 90+ minutes, keeping him covered in case he does get the ball and goes into warp speed. That’s the immense advantage of having him in the match, even when it’s not gelling for him. Tactically, for a coach and team, having 2-3 defenders covering 1 player means that it gives space on the pitch in which the other strikers, (and attacking midfielders), can find their way to the net.

Other strikers.

This season, there were no “other strikers” for whatever reasons. Alexis’ and Villa’s injury report cards have been filled out on both sides. Pedro was also injured and didn’t recover form until the last few weeks of the season.

Lack of form, and injuries, also affected supporting mid-field players Cesc, Iniesta and Xavi. Afellay didn’t get to prove his worth because of a hamstring injury followed almost immediately by a more serious ACL injury. Thiago blew hot and cold. Keita and Busquets were solid, but hardly game-makers in the genre of Xavi and Iniesta.

Guardiola resorted to bringing in B-teamers Cuenca and Tello. Cuenca has perhaps adapted the best in supporting Messi and Alexis, while Tello has yet to find that element of his game. He’s so used to being the end-guy, scoring the goals, that he’ll shoot even though the better opportunity lies with an inside and better-positioned team-mate. He’s not a quick thinker in that regard.

The mid-field, so used to supporting their forwards, found themselves doing double duty in attack and in defence (lots more than usual) when the Barça back-line was often riddled with injury. The 3-man back-line formation also caused issues in some games when under pressure from their opponents, and forced Busquets to go back in support, leaving the midfield without a pivot. This often meant that the midfielders played deeper behind half-way, and the midfield link-up with the forwards wasn’t further up the pitch for the quick plays and combinations closer to the goal.

The back-line was not without its own issues. Abidal began to show signs of poor form and we were all devastated to find out why. Fontàs went out with an long-term ACL injury; Piqué frequently drew blood or was benched; Alves drew cards; Puyol’s body defied his mind; Adriano pulled muscles at whim and Maxwell left for Paris Saint-Germain.  Mascherano, (a mid-fielder until he arrived at the club), was still feeling his way into the CB role and committed some horrendous boo-boos (professional technical term) during his apprenticeship.

Despite all these set-backs, think about how close this team came to pulling off yet another hugely successful season.

4 trophies won, out of the 6 for which they have competed.

Granted they lost the big ones, but the crunch time for both of these trophies came at the end of a long season when the team simply ran out of gas. Before the end of the Liga season, Barça had played 5 more games than Real Madrid (UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup x2, CdR Semifinals x2), plus endured all the stresses that travel puts on the body and mind – especially the trip to Japan.

“We’re running out of adjectives to describe him. I don’t know what to say anymore about Messi. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to play with him. We have the best player in the world playing alongside us. He bests himself in every game. He is a magnificent person and player.” ~ Pedro on Barça TV’s El Marcador programme, 7th March 2012, after the 7-1 win against Bayer Leverkusen at Camp Nou.

The past season was filled with a multitude of mishaps and misadventures, and bang in center-stage was Messi – the only constant presence this season in the Barça attack, while his team-mates ebbed and flowed around him. It wasn’t really the ideal environment in which to create a formidable attack partnership, nor even field a whole team of players who instinctively understood what to do, and when. With the lack of options, Messi was relied upon to do it all up front. He became the go-to guy for the attacks on goal, because there wasn’t really anyone else to do it.

Messidependencia? You bet.

However, because he is Messi, it wasn’t an ordinary event. He just didn’t score goals. This season, he has set new records after breaking virtually every existing scoring record within his reach at Club, European and World levels. He has scored in singles, braces, hat-tricks, pokers and even a five goal personal manita. He has won several individual trophies to go with those won with his team-mates.

With his 73 goals and 28 assists, he has directly contributed to 101 of the 190 official  goals scored by the team during the 2011/12 temporada.

Let’s take a look at the list of Messi’s records and honours that he’s achieved and received over the past season.

Ready?  Take a deep breath, because you’re going to need it.

Individual Records

Club (FC Barcelona)

~ The first player to score and assist in every trophy competition (6 in total) in one season.
~ The 2nd club player (after Pedro) to score in 6 official competitions in one season.
~ Leading Barça scorer in Spanish Supacopa with 8 goals.
~ Scored 35 La Liga home goals to set new club and Liga records.
~ With 14 La Liga hat-tricks, sets a new record surpassing César’s 13.
~ 2nd Barcelona player to win Pichichi twice. (Shares record with Quini).
~ Converted 10 penalties in La Liga to equal record set by Ronald Koeman (1989-1990).
~ Scored in 10 consecutive Liga games (in which he played) to equal Martin (1942/43) and Ronaldo (1996/97).
~ Equalled record set by Eto’o (2007-08) to score in 7 consecutive La Liga Away games.
~ At age 24, becomes La Liga’s youngest player to score 150 goals to set club and Liga records.
~ With 214 games, beats Cocu’s record (205 games) to become foreign player with most La Liga games for the club.
~ First player to score 8 hat-tricks in a single La Liga season.
~ 15th October 2011:  Surpasses Kubala’s 2nd place club record of 194 goals.  (With a brace vs. Racing Santander at Camp Nou.)
~ 29th October 2011:  Scores the club’s fastest La Liga hat-trick in 17 minutes. (vs. Mallorca at Camp Nou.)
~  19th February 2012:  Becomes the club’s youngest player to play 200 La Liga games.  (With 4 goals vs. Valencia at Camp Nou.)
~ 20th March 2012:  Becomes the club’s top competition scorer when he surpasses César Rodríguez Álvarez (232).  (vs. Granada at Camp Nou.)
~ 25th May 2012:  Holds the club’s goal scoring record (in competitions only) of 253 goals.
~ 25th May 2012:  Holds the club record for most goals scored in a single season – 73.

Spanish La Liga and Copa del Rey

~ Leading scorer in Spanish Supacopa competition with 8 goals. (Previously held by Raúl with 7 goals.)
~ 10th April 2012:  Breaks Isidro Lángara Galarraga’s 78 year old record (60 goals during 1933–34), to become Spain’s top scorer in one season. (vs. Getafe at Camp Nou.)
~ Marca’s Pichichi Winner with 50 Liga goals.
~ Top La Liga Goal Scorer (50) in 2011/2012 season.
~ First player to score 50 La Liga goals in a single season, breaking Ronaldo’s 2010/2011 record of 40 goals.
~ Set a new record for La Liga goals scored in home games – 35 in the season.
~ Second player (after Hugo Sánchez) to score 35+ goals in all competitions for 4 consecutive seasons.
~ At age 24, becomes La Liga’s youngest player to score 150 goals.
~ First player to score 8 hat-tricks in a single season.
~ 25th May 2012:  Finishes season with 53 goals scored in La Liga (50) and Copa del Rey (3).

UEFA Champions League

~ All-time Top CL Scorer with 14 goals.  (He shares the highest score with AC Milan’s José Altafini who scored 14 in 1962/63).
~ Top CL scorer for the past 4 years, and has set a new record for consecutive seasons at the top.  (He previously shared the record of 3 consecutive years with Gerd Müller [1973, 74, 75] and Jean-Perre Papin [1990, 91, 92].)
~ 7th March 2012:  Becomes the first player in CL to score 5 goals in one match.  (vs. Bayer Leverkusen at Camp Nou.)
~ The youngest player to pass the 50 goal mark in CL history.
~ Top scorer in the CL knockout stage with 26 goals.  (Previous record of 18 goals was jointly held by Raúl and Shevchenko.)
~ Scores his 2nd and 3rd CL hat-tricks to share record (with Filippo Inzaghi and Michael Owen) for highest total of CL hat-tricks.
~ 4th player (follows Jari Litmanen, Hernán Crespo and Thierry Henry) to score in 7 Away games in a row.

Europe

Awarded during this season, for last season’s performance
~ 25th August 2011:  2011 UEFA Best Player in Europe.

This Season
~ 2nd May 2012:  Breaks Gerd Müller’s 39 year old record (67 goals set in 1972/73) to become Europe’s leading goal-scorer in one season. (A hat-trick vs. Málaga at Camp Nou.)
~ 5th May 2012: His 2nd match goal surpasses Dudu Georgescu’s 35 year record (47 league goals for Dinamo Bucharest in the 1976/77 Romanian champs), to become the European Top League scorer in one season, with a total of 50 goals. (4 goals scored vs. Espanyol at Camp Nou.)
~ 25th May 2012:  Scores his 73rd goal for a new European record in one season. (Copa del Rey Final vs. Athletic Bilbao.)
~ European Golden Shoe with 50 goals. (His 2nd Golden Shoe Trophy.)
~ First player to achieve 100 points in the European Golden Shoe. (50 goals x Factor 2 for top leagues weighting.)

FIFA Club World Cup

~ December 2011:  Man of the Match in Final. (vs. Santos FC.)
~ December 2011:  Golden Ball Trophy. (2 goals scored.)

World Stage

Awarded during this season, for last season’s performance
~ 9th January 2012:  2011 FIFA Ballon D’Or for World Player of the Year.

This Season
~ With his 3rd consecutive Ballon D’Or, he became one of only 2 players to have won it 3 times in a row.  (The other player is Michel Platini, and he won in the era when only European players were eligible for the award.)
~ 4th player to win 3 Ballons D’Or. (after Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini and Marco van Basten.)
~ 5th May 2012:  A new World record of 72 goals in a 1st division season by breaking Archie Stark’s (Bethlehem Steel Club) 85 year old tally of 70 goals which Stark set in the American Soccer League in the 1924/25 season.  (A poker bag vs. Espanyol at Camp Nou.)
~ 25th May 2012:  A new World Record of 73 goals in a first division season. (1 goal scored vs. Athletic Bilbao in Copa del Rey Final.)

Personal Bests and Distinctions (Other than those mentioned above)

~ 1st November 2011:  Scored his 200th  goal for FC Barcelona. (A hat-trick vs. Viktoria Plzeň in Champions League.)
~  26th December 2011:  French publication, L’Équipe, named Messi “2011 Champion of Champions”, beating tennis #1 Novak Djokovic and Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel.  Messi became only the 5th football player to win the award, and the first to win it out of a World Cup Year.
~ Appeared in Time Magazine’s 100 Top Influential People List.
~ Time Magazine also named Messi as one of the 32 candidates for this year’s “Person of the Year Award”.
~ Played more matches (60 in total) than in any of his previous seasons.
~ A new personal record of 28 assists in one season. (This would have been 38 if awarded according to the Wikipedia definition of an assist.)
~ Scored in 6 consecutive home games (twice over the season) to better his previous record of 5 games in a row.
~ 5th May 2012:  Scores his 250th goal for FC Barcelona.  (A poker bag vs. Espanyol at Camp Nou.)

Team Honours

~ 17th August 2011:  Spanish Supacopa Trophy. (vs. Real Madrid.)
~ 26th August 2011:  UEFA Super Cup Trophy. (vs. FC Porto.)
~ 18th December 2011:  FIFA Club World Cup Trophy. (vs. Santos FC.)
~ 25th May 2012:  Copa del Rey Trophy. (vs. Athletic Bilbao.)
~ Semi-final Stage of UEFA Champions League.
~ 2nd Place in Spanish La Liga.

I’ve prepared some PDF documents of Messi’s achievements. You can download them from these links:

Messi_2011_2012_Statistics_Summary - a breakdown of Minutes and Games played, Goals and Assists by Competition, as well as analysing Home and Away Goals and Assists and how he scored them (singles, braces, hat-tricks etc).

Messi_2011_2012_GameByGameAnalysis - a Game-by-Game breakdown of Messi’s Goals, Assists (and to whom), and Minutes Played per Game.

Messi_Achievements_2011_2012 - A List of Messi’s Achievements and Records for the 2011-2012 Season.

Will this be enough for Messi to have won his 4th Ballon D’Or?  If he doesn’t, then there’s something very wrong with the voting system, or the quality and education of the voters.

Detractors opine that his goals “were not worth anything”  ¿Por qué?  You cannot be serious.

Look at all those new records which now have the name “Lionel Messi” beside them. Digest how many long-standing records have been shattered by this 24 year old, in what has been deemed a less than successful year for an FC Barcelona team which did not succeed in winning La Liga for the 4th time in a row, or Champions League for the 2nd consecutive year.

How preposterous and ridiculous, is it, to expect that this team would keep winning and that they (Messi included) have failed because of a couple of lost trophies – in just one season? Now think of the Arsenal fans who have never given up on their team which last won a trophy 7 seasons ago. Haven’t we been blessed, by comparison?

When the world’s football managers and captains place their votes for the World’s Best Player, I trust that they will do their homework and look for a list of achievements that each player has attained over the season.

The Ballon D’Or is an individual award for the player who has played the best throughout the past season, and Messi’s record-breaking statistics have been out of this world.

With a healthy team around him, those efforts could perhaps be reflected in a couple more pieces of silverware which, for some reason, would make his accomplishments so much more significant and legitimate in the eyes of some people: people who cannot fathom how much this guy has achieved over the past 9 months, and how Messi responded to his club’s call when he was most needed.

Should Messi not capture his 4th Ballon D’Or, I’d suggest that he goes on to new challenges for the next season, for there are other records to break.

For starters, he hasn’t yet won the Zamora Trophy.

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235 Responses to “Messi’s Magical Season for 2011/2012”

  1. mom4 says:

    Yeah, that Messi kid is pretty good.

    OT, 3M tearing it up against N. Ireland.

  2. Messiah10 says:

    Thanks so much!!! That was just mind boggling reading through the records he’s broken this year. Simply amazing. He HAS to win the Ballon d’Or. If not, it’s highway robbery. I’ve been waiting for a piece on Messi’s season and YOU did NOT disappoint. Thanks again!

    • Messiah10 says:

      Also, great summary of everything our team went through this season and WHY Messi was called upon to have the season he did. At the age of 24! 24! Again. 24! Unreal. Doesn’t seem possible that he can get better? I don’t think better is besting 73 goals either. Some of his assists this year were just crazy stupid. Deft lobs over a 4 man line right at the feet of his target. Through balls that were weighted perfectly to arrive at the right pace, position, and rotation of the ball for his target to strike. I can’t say enough so I’ll stop now. Thanks NZM for my fix!

    • nzm says:

      Thanks Messiah10 – glad that you enjoyed it. :)

      His records and achievements deserve to be recognised. It was pretty amazing when I was researching his season when putting this article together, as I hadn’t realised some of the records that he had broken at club and Liga level.

      He’s a special guy!

  3. Dani_el says:

    Thank you for this NZM!

    Ibi Afellay scoring 2 goals and providing 1 assist. Wow.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=iv&src_vid=YrZByn71BQw&v=6wMrIW6tQEU&annotation_id=annotation_863394

  4. TITO says:

    Would you sell him if an offer of 200 mill euros come around?

    • Momo says:

      With carrol costing 35 million I think its safe to say 300 million is messi’s proper price.
      If some club decided to throw 300 million our way, then yes I would CONSIDER the offer.

  5. messifan says:

    Argentina vs. Ecuador @ 6:30pm EST

    Line up: ROMERO; ZABALETA, FERNANDEZ, GARAY, Clemente; GAGO, MASCHERANO, DI MARIA; MESSI, HIGUAIN and AGUERO (via @mundoalbicelest)

    Vamos Argentina!!!

  6. Momo says:

    Messi + higuain + aguero= droooooooool
    can we buy them please?

  7. ciaran says:

    Afellay looked good again for Netherlands. I hope they have a good tournament and he stays injury free. A good tournament will be important for him. With Cuenca missing 4-4.5months it is important for us that Afellay can have a good off-season

  8. blitzen says:

    Messi just scored & shoved the ball under his shirt…

    Is Antonella really pregnant?

    Summer signing. Sorted. :D

  9. messifan says:

    That was a fun half! Messi’s assist to Higuain was very messi :)

  10. Helge says:

    Would have been a perfect match for Argentina and Messi if his lob went in – a manita fnished with a typical Messi goal.

    Nonetheless one of the better matches of Argentina recently. The team’s shaping up slowly. Apart from players like Pastore and Gaitan missing, this was a quite decent line-up (minus Clemente, imo).

    • messifan says:

      Yeah, it’s a work in progress. In the second half, Ecuador were more threatening but couldn’t do much. Arg. midfield didn’t control the second half. Messi was amazing. Di Maria did ok; asides from the goal and assist, he was missing. I like the Aguero, Higuian, Messi combo a lot.

      Overall, a much much better performance than the loss to Venezuela last November.

  11. messifan says:

    Wow!!! nzm, so much work is put into this post. Thank you. Love those PDFs!!! Just save them to my laptop. Though, I panicked a little bit when I clicked on that Mou link (I have a self-imposed boycott on bs.com) :P

    As incredible as his was this season, I didn’t enjoy Messi performance as much compared to the last few seasons. Part of it was because of his consistency; nothing surprised me anymore. I didn’t get the feeling of unpredictability as I did in years prior.

    You also alluded to the lack of forward options, which meant everything was collapsed onto Messi. Opponents expected that, and so was I when watching him played with Barcelona.

    Seeing him play against Argentina tonight was fun because there were other options. I couldn’t predict who was going to score. Everything from Messi was sort of spontaneous and intuitive.

    As for the Ballon D’or, it will depend on how his competitors perform in Poland and Ukraine. I don’t value this FIFA Ballon D’or as much as I used to because the voting process is very diluted. First, there are more voters. I don’t think captains, coaches and journalists from far away lands pay close attention to all European leagues. Most likely they will vote based on players’ popularity in their homelands. And the first half performance of next season will most likely be factored in because the award ceremony is in January.

    Anyway, for next season, I hope to see more of Messi’s and Iniesta’s chaos added to our artful intricate passing.

    • nzm says:

      Thanks messifan, and thanks for acknowledging the work put into the article.

      Yes, all up it must have consumed about 30-40 hours of work in my spare time: writing; checking facts; researching statistics; finding supporting links and watching videos to check facts. I believe that the official assists attribution is incorrect. They have assigned 15 Liga assists and 5 CL assists, whereas I reckon that it’s 14 Liga and 6 CL.

      The Argie game was fun – the boys were on fire!

      I think that Messi’s spontaneity over the past season was tampered down because of the extra responsibility that he had to carry the team. He was well aware of the pressure and it affected him. I heard reports that he blasted the team at the end of the clasico loss at Camp Nou because he thought that they didn’t perform well enough.

      As for Ballon D’Or voters – you only have to look at how they voted last year to know that it was political on some voters’ parts and ignorant on others! When managers and captains of countries vote identically for the same obscure players, you have to wonder who is actually filling out the voting forms!

      Oh – and I changed the link for the Mourinho quote for a safer link! I hear you about goal.com! :D

    • nzm says:

      And also – big thanks for keeping on topic and for the intelligent discussion about the article! ;)

    • Messiah10 says:

      I think Portugal is in a tough group and will be bounced in the group stages. Therefore, sealing the deal for Messiah. Portugal looked very weak this weekend and sloppy at the back. Confidence will be low and I look for them to under perform like most tourney’s. :)

      • nzm says:

        I hope so. They were beaten by Turkey last night and looked very shaky down the back. Coentrao was perhaps the most dangerous player on the pitch until he crashed heavily onto his back which required numbing spray and quietened him down.

        Altintop + Sahin > Cristiano + Coentrao + Pepe!

  12. messifan says:

    Off-topic:

    This is an excerpt from Robin van Persie’s interview for FT Weekend.

    “Cesc is slow, you know,” he told me. “With us he was one of the slowest. And yet he was the fastest of us all. He always thinks two seconds ahead. I’d sometimes think, ‘Why doesn’t the opponent take the ball from him?’ Then, peep, he’d do a little feint. At training once I was running three, four metres behind him. I caught up and thought, ‘Now I’ll get you.’ But with the point of his boot he gives – peep! – a tiny little pass for a one-two. That gives him another metre and a half. I catch up with him again, but – peep! – he suddenly turns away with a body feint. So irritating! We strikers could always expect a deep ball from him. Most midfielders look sideways first, and then maybe forward. Cesc always looked forward first.”

    Cesc is slow…With us he was one of the slowest. And yet he was the fastest of us all. He always thinks two seconds ahead

    Comparing Cesc to our other midfielders, I always get an impression that his mental speed is the slowest. This statement just confirms how difficult it is for a world class midfielder to fit in our system.

    Most midfielders look sideways first, and then maybe forward. Cesc always looked forward first.

    There lies the problem between Cesc and our system. ZM wrote a piece about Cesc’s verticality and its incompatibility with the existing framework. Van Persie just reiterates what we all suspect.

    Here’s a link to the interview. It focuses on Arsenal and the Netherlands. For Dutch supporters, it’s an interesting read.

    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/49f4621a-aab2-11e1-9331-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1wgrWCPum

    • K_legit in Oz says:

      I believe the word Pep used for Cesc was anarchist..in a good way
      Way better than what he used for Toure..Un pel despistat (I think it means, a bit confused)

  13. Helge says:

    Maybe, for the Ballon D’Or voters, one should add that Messi gave twice as many assists as CR (using the wiki definition of assists) and overall, it took him 10 min less to score a goal (Messi one goal in 71 min, CR 81).

    I also think that Messi set annother record with being the top asssists giver and top goal scorer in la Liga. Maybe this is even a European top league record, but certainly it was a Spanish record!
    (I’m counting the assists according to transfermarkt.de, which seem to be based on the wiki definition, so maybe different sources will tell you that Messi was not the top assists giver, but rather Ozil or so).

    Nothing more to add, except of a big ‘thank you Michelle’ for the article and the pdfs, must have been quite an effort! :)

    • nzm says:

      Thanks Helge!

      It was quite an effort, but I really enjoyed it! (My mind is twisted like that!)

      I was determined to put this article out there, so that interested people could see all of Messi’s achievements in one place, rather than the scattered articles across the www which only refer to a small portion of his records.

      You’re quite right about Messi’s “official” and “unofficial” assists tally being quite different. The official version attributes 28 assists yet, according to the Wikipedia definition, this should have been 38.

      During my research for this article, I found a video of all Messi’s 2011/12 assists which helped me a lot!

      I also ran some analysis on the video and identified the 10 which had not been included in the official total. The results of the analysis can be found in this pdf document: Messi Assists for 2011/12

      The assists that were not included were #s:
      10
      13
      14
      25
      27
      28
      30
      31
      34
      37

      If they had been included, it would have brought Messi’s Liga assists from 14 to 21, and Champions League assists from 6 up to 9.

      Özil’s official Liga assists total is 17 (from an overall 24), so if all Messi’s assists had been included, he would have beaten Özil in La Liga by 4, and by 14 in all club competitions.

      • Helge says:

        Oh, nice!
        You didn’t link to this pdf before, or did I miss something in the article?

        Now even more than before, hats off :)

        • nzm says:

          Thanks!

          No – I didn’t put it into the article. I prepared it as part of my research process (just to make sure that my analysis was accurate), but since it was relevant to your discussion points, I made it available. ;)

          • Messiah10 says:

            Your amazing! I often dream of being a writer/blogger because I always “think” I have lots to say. :) However, realizing how much effort and work goes into researching an article, so you can accurately report the truth, makes me say :(

          • nzm says:

            Well – if you want to become a writer, consider doing light and frivolous pieces which require little research and even less thinking about. Apparently, they’re better received! :D

  14. Helge says:

    Bielsa has signed a one-year extension with Athletic Bilbao!

    Great news for Spanish football.

    • nzm says:

      That’s excellent news.

      Bielsa started a great process with Bilbao this season and his continuation of the project can only be good for the club.

      I hope that he also manages to keep the team together, as I imagine that their Europa league appearances against Man U, Schalke 04 and Sporting Lisbon would have had some football scouts salivating at the prospects of recruiting some of the Bilbao talent!

    • Laurentiu88 says:

      i hope they can keep most players too.

  15. Laurentiu88 says:

    Galliani is in Barcelona. Seems that we are really going for T Silva… I think Milan will sell, it is a great business for them as it seems that they will get more than 40 mil for him. It may make sense for us too, as we seem to be needing a player who can offer that extra quality…

    • nzm says:

      That is far too much money for Silva. 30 mill maybe, but I would still be doubtful.

      Thiago would have to take a paycut for sure. 4 million per annum would place him in a pay range which would see him paid out of line with others at the club, plus he only signed an extension with Milan last year until 2016. He’s going to cost a lot for a 27 year old who also carries some niggling injuries too similar to those being sustained by the Barca pack right now.

      Galliani was quoted in Italian press yesterday as saying that Thiago and Ibra were staying at Milan, but who knows for sure!

      Maybe he’s just in town making the Ibra deal permanent so that he can flick the Swede off to PSG!

      • Laurentiu88 says:

        yes possible, thou’ i would think that Ibra is far more essential for them…

        i know the price is quite high; still we have to remember we are looking for top players, the ones that can offer that extra. and we need a sure bet – especially considering the pressure on both Tito and Rosell to have a good season.

        • Hilal says:

          I am not so sure about Silva. I find him a bit overrated and he seems to be a little injury prone as well. He is not young either, although I suppose for a defender 27 is the age at which they begin to peak and he could realistically play till he was 32 or 33. The big advantage with Silva is his power in the air and his speed, two things we are lacking quite severely so I can certainly see why the club would want to go for him. If we could get him for 30m then I suppose it makes sense, but at 40 its just too much. The problem is that the other player who I can see being a possible alternative (J.Martinez) would probably cost the same. Is Martinez better then Silva? Not sure about that one..

          • Messiah10 says:

            I’m not so sure J. Martinez is valued that high. I think it’s more around 20-25m and I bet it could be brought down to 15-18m

  16. mom4 says:

    BTW, girl, that was some masterful and comprehensive bit of research! Good job and thanks.

  17. blitzen says:

    From Xavi’s Sport interview:

    Did you have the chance of telling Pep goodbye?

    I did, although he’s not much for talking. He reunited all of us after the charity game last weekend in the Camp Nou, where he thanked us for our work these years. I told him we will miss him, and he said the same.

    Any tears?

    No, we have had enough tears this year.

    Me too, Xavi, me too. :(

    Read more: http://www.totalbarca.com/2012/news/xavi-we-are-fully-behind-tito/#ixzz1wk6j6zuB

  18. Salia says:

    2nd half of Barca B and Xerez, if anyones interested heres the link. Barca B 2-0 up

    http://sopcast-futbol.blogspot.com.es/p/canal-2.html

  19. Salia says:

    Deulofeu has scored 9 goals in the Adelante this season including todays. Not bad for a 17 year old.

  20. Salia says:

    Jonathan dos Santos just scored a screamer from a Gustavo corner which was won by Deulofeu who has scored twice with Gustavo on the scoresheet too along with Jonathan Dos Santos to make it 4-0 to Barca B

  21. Salia says:

    Rafinha, Espinosa and Deulofeu all playing and impressing. The first time I have ever seen Espinosa play and he really has lived up to the hype so calm and composed on the ball, great first touch and dribbling. Hopefully the boy will be a star

  22. Salia says:

    5-0 Barca B. Good finish from Rafinha after a brilliant through ball from Espinosa

  23. Salia says:

    Yes Espinosa just scored a tap in to make it 6-0. They really on fire today. Even Armando is playing well

    • messifan says:

      That was a fun game! I first saw Espinosa played against Manchester United in the pre-season tour. He was on the pitch for about 7 minutes, but his touches and movements were amazing. So talented for a kid his age.

      Hopefully, Eusebio will start him more next season. Deulofeu, Dongou and Espinosa are going to have so much fun next season.

  24. nzm says:

    Huge celebrations in Vigo, as Celta de Vigo makes it into the Liga BBVA, together with Deportivo. Galician derby!

    Duking it out in play-offs for the 3rd promotion spot will be Cordoba, Hercules, Alcorcon and Valladolid. Bummer for Almeria who miss out by just one point after Cordoba managed the draw with Celta.

    • messifan says:

      Pinto’s old club! Yay!!! I don’t know anything about Celta. Do they have a rich football history? Or are they like Getafe, always stuck in the shadow of evil?

      • nzm says:

        They have a good history, but nearly went bankrupt a few seasons ago. They have one of the longest shirt sponsorship deals around. Citroen is one of the big employers in the area.

      • blitzen says:

        Thiago & Rafinha’s dad, Mazinho, played with Celta de Vigo, and their mom still lives there with her new family. They are both thrilled that Celta has been promoted.

  25. Salia says:

    Spain team against China is Casillas Arbeloa, Albiol, Sergio Ramos, Alba, Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Xavi Cazorla, Silva, Negredo

    Hmmmm, for once there are more EE players than there are Barca players. Hate to see such a useless and dirty player such as Arbeloa donning the La Roja shirt and playing in such a World class team.

    Albiol is useless too but the nice kind.

  26. Salia says:

    Looking forward to scouting Alba, if he really is a done deal. Just seen bits and bobs of him with Valencia bvut never seen him play with la Roja. Should be interesting

    Meanwhile Brazil are 2-0 down to Mexico with Giovani Dos Santos with a goal that came from a curling cross/shot and Javier Hernandez penalty. Gio really is a box of tricks, after having not seen him play for ages I forgot how skilful he really is!

  27. messifan says:

    First half:

    Spain had problems penetrating the great wall of China.

    Their defense was non-existent. Jordi Alba attacked well, barely defended.

    Xavi and Xabi were too redundant.

    Lots of tiki-taka; centralized the play too much and too many passes in and around the box (guilty players were Alba, Silva and Cazorla).

    This game needs Iniesta’s magic to destabilize that wall ;)

    China looked threatening. They played well, which was a surprise for me :)

    • Messiah10 says:

      Not impresses w/Alba at all. Yes he’s been flying down the left making runs but that’s his job. He hasn’t made 1 good decision close to the box. Neither has he put in a good ball. The games tempo and energy changed once Ghostface came on for Busi. Also Navas on for Xavi? Torres also making better runs and more active than Negredo. Pique for Ramos surprised me because Ramos only defender out there comfortable with ball. Arbeloa horrible

      • Messiah10 says:

        Also, Spain lucky to go into half time 0-0. They had chances, but thought China had the better ones. Interested about corner kick stats. Looked like China had more in 1st half. ESPN 3 stream didn’t show stats

      • Ryan says:

        Seemed like a pretty substandard performance by Alba. He’s usually got a bit better end product than the wasted cutbacks he tried continuously in that game. Perhaps he’s trying too hard? He doesn’t exactly have much competition in the squad for his spot though, maybe that could be the problem.

    • culegirl3 says:

      This game has been rather dull.

      I am taking pleasure in watching Torres miss his chances :-D

  28. Helge says:

    Hell of a match from Don Andrés !

  29. messifan says:

    The second half was better. Ini was the spark for Spain.

    I think Spain has too many players of similar skill sets.

    Personally, Cesc and Iniesta should start. Iniesta for his dribbling and Cesc for his vertical run/pass.

    One of Xavi or Xabi should start. Keep Busi to protect the backline. Albiol on the bench. Pique partners with Ramos. Arbeloa plays a little bit more conservative b/c offensively he’s useless. Alba has the pace to play a dual role.

    My Spain lineup would be:
    ——–Casillas——–
    Arbeloa-Pique-Ramos-Alba
    ——–Busi———-
    -Xavi(or Xabi)-Iniesta
    ——-Cesc———–
    —-Navas-Torres—–

    Llorente can also start in place of Torres.
    Silva, Cazorla and Mata can play the number 10 role, but I’ll go for Cesc if he is fit. This set up offers more fluidity between midfield and attack.

    Ireland will go defensive. Italy under Prandelli has tried to be more possession oriented, but when coming up against Spain, Italy will most likely play on the counter. Croatia will probably play defensive. I think all Spain’s opponents will play on the counter because they can’t match the possession game.

    • nzm says:

      Alonso was well-exposed last night – he gave away a couple of dangerous balls that, if China had been Holland or Germany, there would have been goals at the end of them.

      Am really disappointed that Soldado lost out over Negredo. Negredo is like an oil tanker – it takes a lot to get him moving and then when he is in motion, he can’t stop suddenly or change direction.

      Not sure what is seen in Navas, either. To me, he’s no better than Cuenca, and even Cuenca has more vision for picking out the team-mates in the middle.

      Looks like a lot of the play-making is going to be given to Xavi and Iniesta. Would like to see Busquets do a bit more of that too.

      Without Villa, Spain lacks a danger man up front.

      • blitzen says:

        Navas is very fast and very good at losing his man. If you watch the winning goal in the WC2010 final, it all started with Navas picking up the ball deep and sprinting forward on the wing, then cutting into the middle and working a one-two with Torres. On his day, he is really very good.

        Having said that, he didn’t really have the best season, so I was a bit surprised that VDB picked him. Kind of like Pedro, he had injury problems but overcame them and improved a lot near the end of the season.

        • nzm says:

          Yup – Navas was good in 2010, not so much in 2012.

          He was also introduced as an impact sub in the WC2010 Final and not a starting player, just as Torres was in that game.

          I believe that Navas plays better in a sub role rather than playing the full game. In that respect, he’s much like Pedro in that he can come on when the opposition is tired and run rings around them, except that Pedro can play that way for longer.

      • Ryan says:

        Navas offers a very different tool for Spain (speed, directness, actual width), but is only useful if there are players in the box to make use of his crosses. I like the Llorente+Navas combo that’s sometimes used, but you’re right, Navas shouldn’t be used as a starter. I prefer him over Cuenca though, if nothing because he actually starts for his club and sheer pace is something Spain generally lacks.

  30. Barcaleya says:

    Michelle – thanks!!!

    Awestruck at this post and all the research (and attendant cross-checking) involved.

  31. Gogah says:

    Great work Michelle.
    It really is crazy the standards Leo has set for himself.
    And I hope he wins the Ballon D’Or. FIFA should probably circulate this post for perusal to all the voters before they make their decisions.

  32. Jafri says:

    Does anyone know what formation Argentina played against Ecuador? How did they accommodate Messi, Higuain, Kun Aguero and Di Maria in the same lineup?

    • nzm says:

      Mostly a 4-3-3 from what I could see,

      Di Maria started behind Aguero, Messi and Higuain. The formation morphed into a 4-2-2-2 at times with Messi and di Maria behind Aguero and Higuain, when Messi would often customarily drop deep to pick up the ball and feed it forward. That’s how Higuain scored his goal from a deep Messi recovery from which he ran forward and slotted the ball to a breaking Higuain in front of him.

  33. lyd says:

    Awesome work nzm!

    One more stat you might wanna add:
    In 60 official games this season, Messi has hit the post 17 times! (source: @MessiStats).

    • lyd says:

      i was looking into the temporary averages (thanks to your pdf) Leo maintained and this phase between 19th Feb – 20th March just stands out! 16 goals! Now throw in the hattrick vs Switzerland made on 29th feb-> 19- freaky!

      19 Leo Messi goals in 7 games in 31 days. Average 2.7! (meant a brace on the next game would have brought the average down. He scored 1 though: )

      • nzm says:

        Yes – he really caught fire in that period of the year – a man with a mission. He remembered what Cristiano had done to him last season, I think, when Madrid helped CR to tap in as many goals as he could to get the record. I think that it helped Messi’s determination to not let that happen again!

    • nzm says:

      Thanks, lyd. I’m not sure that Messi would want to remember that record! :D

      I’m trying to finish a monster Season-that-was saga right now, and the number of times that Barca hit the post or the bar this season was astounding.

      I’m up to March in my review, and in La Liga games alone and up until the 11th March game vs. Racing, Barca had hit the woodwork 21 times in 26 games!

  34. K_legit in Oz says:

    Is this Thiago Silva rumour really true? If it is then OMFG its awesome!!

  35. fotobirajesh says:

    nzm, this is brilliant. I cant even imagine the kind of work you have put in to compile this.
    thanks a lot.
    It would be a shame, if Messi doesnt get his 4th d’or. But we never know. even during the WC year, he won it. Scoring goals or not, no other player mesmerises the fans like Messi and thats why everybody vote for him. I am hopeful he will win it.

    • nzm says:

      Thanks, fotobirajesh.

      I hope that Messi gets his 4th BdO and that the voters look past the overall performance of the team and evaluate the individual effort. That is, after all, what the Ballon D’Or is supposed to represent.

  36. Kxevin says:

    Is Iniesta getting better? He was absurd against China, as good as I have ever seen him in taking over a match.

    • nzm says:

      Getting better, or simply shining in a team of headless chickens last night?

      I’d prefer to think the former! :D

      But heck, Spain really needs a leader up front.

      • Ryan says:

        I think that’s what happens when Alonso is on the team and Xavi is forced to play way too close to goal. Two minds may be better than one, but several brains must make the body really confused, right?

        • nzm says:

          Yes – it’s similar to the Iniesta/Xavi/Cesc problem which we experienced with Barca when they played together. Too many similar players on the pitch, trying to occupy the same space, and no one making the hard decisions – like play the ball forward, for God’s sake.

          Plus, there’s also the issue of the double-pivot with Busquets and Alonso. They don’t need it – especially if Busquets develops into a faster decision maker and starts feeding the forwards with some defence-splitting passes. He can do it – we saw him play those to Messi late in the season.

          I can see why Del Bosque wants Alonso there because Spain’s a chicken-shack-down-the-back, but last night Alonso made the errors which created the problems for the backline! Pique coming on made it more stable.

          Shoring up the midfield to fix the backline is like sticking a band-aid on a broken ankle.

          • Ryan says:

            If memory serves, the last competitive game Spain didn’t use the double pivot was the loss vs. the US and it seemed to affect Del Bosque’s view of how to play. I’m not completely sold on Spain’s current defense either, but back when they had Capdevila, Puyol, Pique, and Ramos they certainly didn’t need the extra support of 2 DMs. The approach reminds me of Argentina’s way of protecting its mediocre defense with way too much steel in the middle.

      • Helge says:

        Iniesta can be Spain’s Messi :)

        Given that comparison, imagine Messi was playing for Spain instead of Argentina … he’d already be considered the best ever, and maybe Pele would even stop claiming that Neymar is better than Messi!

    • blitzen says:

      Iniesta had the look of a man who is determined to win the Euros, even if he has to carry the rest of the team on his scrawny little shoulders. And with that shambles at the back, he might just have to.

    • Ryan says:

      He’s exactly what Spain need, especially with Villa out for the entire tournament and no strikers on form. Let’s hope that del Bosque doesn’t place him on the left wing and just lets him do his thing in the midfield.

    • Barcaleya says:

      Iniesta literally fed everyone with the most accurate pass, cross, chip, etc. They only needed to control once and kick to goal. No one could control properly. It’s so frustrating.

      Then he showed them how to. Too bad it hit the bar.

      He’s the most amazing player. You can see how he places the ball at just that place where the defenders all around him can’t reach, then he controls again to put the ball on the opposite side of the direction the defenders were going to. It’s a good thing he’s such a humble person because he really humiliates opponents around him. He does in such close quarters, in milliseconds, what a penalty taker does to a goalkeeper who goes the other way. Which is even worse, right? You’re already there right in front of him?! Why can’t you take the ball away from him or deny him space? Whether it’s juggling the ball high above the players or juggling it down the pitch or feinting and moving ball from one feet to another…he has all these magic tricks to find space. Amazing.

      I loooooovvveeeee Iniesta!!!

      • blitzen says:

        The only way to stop Iniesta is to knock him down. Which his opponents do. A lot. Or at least whenever they can catch him.

        • Jim says:

          I’ve always genuinely believed he is the second best player in the world. Became a little dispiriting last season watching him put out on the left wing or worse, benched, presumably to save him. We saw what he and Xavi can do together at the end of the regular season. Tito, please take note.

          • blitzen says:

            With both Villa & Pedro healthy, plus Alexis, Tello, Afellay & Cuenca, there should be no reason at all to put Iniesta in the front line. Thank goodness.

            Iniesta is my favourite player of all time. Yes, even more than Xavi. He is just such a joy to watch.

          • hansh says:

            Hey blitz, we have the same favorite player of all time!

  37. Eklavya says:

    I can’t think of anything to say :| but hey 100th comment 8)

  38. icemel says:

    Ray’s “Gaaaaaargh!!!!!!!!!!” is as close to a description as we’ll ever get.
    Tell your non-soccer watching friends to tune in to history while they can!
    Thanks for the post nzm!

  39. Vj says:

    Forgot to comment for a few days :P

    Brilliant work nzm! Best signing of the season!! :D

  40. Blau-Grenade says:

    Thanks M., for the amazing read. That’s a lot of hard work and dedication put into making this post. Wow, you always blow my mind away.

  41. messifan says:

    This thread has turned into a jambalaya of all things Barca-related, and I’m going to post this picture of Pep vacationing in Montenegro. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t post a photo of Pep enjoying his family time BUT I miss him so much :( AND this picture is just too great for me :D

    http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m53r48W1Fk1qa8vpxo1_1280.jpg

    1) He’s vacationing like a boss. Look at his posture, and are those men his bodyguards?

    2)That shrinking grey sweater and yellow t-shirt underneath :D
    Maybe Pep had some inputs in our new kits :P

    Ladies and fashionable gentlemen, what do you think of Pep’s outfit?

    • nzm says:

      Pictures? There’s even video of them during the day.

      Seems awfully stalkerish and uncomfortable for me to watch that video. Pep’s obviously not happy, but too polite to confront the guy.

      I’m going to miss Pep’s outrageous displays of tasteless sweaters that he used to wear to his press conferences. It’s as if his mother or daughter knitted them for him and he was too kind not to wear them!

      • messifan says:

        I saw that video. Yeah, it was too intrusive. But did you notice his sandals? They looked really nice but open-toe.

        I’m going to miss his odd fashion choices too. He always wears well-tailored suits on the sidelines, but off the pitch, I sometimes question his fashion taste.

        For the above picture, I would not recommend blue jeans with yellow and grey. If I were his stylist, I would pick dark colored jeans to contrast the light grey sweaters. The yellow collar should overlap his sweater. Keep the belt but choose the right sized sweater :)

        I love clothes!

    • Messiah10 says:

      If I could afford the rags Pep wears I’d sport them everyday. I’d be a Pep clone in the fashion sense. I think he’s super super fly! That said, I don’t have the body type he does. Skinny jeans and sweaters work for people w/out the “athletic” build. Wouldn’t work for me. Envy!

  42. providence says:

    When i feel bored i log in to http://www.goal.com and read the comments people pass a stories. There i can’t stop laughing

  43. hammeronmessi says:

    thank u nzm.
    I got shiver to think how much dedication and work u have to put in this post.
    Thanks again.

    Off topic.
    Watche the game 3 of ec play off.
    Rondo is the player who caught my eye.whats his position?very good.how come i never heard of him.

    Why does everybody hate lebron so much?

    Anybody shade a light on this?he is beast of a player.

    • mega_tajh says:

      I don’t really watch/follow NBA, but apparently people’s hate of Lebron stems from him leaving his boyhood team the Cleveland Cavaliers, to join the Miami Heats along with other arriving NBA superstars (Bosh, Wade)

      • hammeronmessi says:

        was cleveland a mediocre team?whats wrong if he chooses to play in a team which can have a shot in the championship.

        i dont watch NBA.
        but the play offs are being played at a time convenient for me.i wake up,watch the game foe a while,having breakfast watching the game.
        quite intrigued to see the game 3.

        i am no basketball fan or expert,but the game lacks quality in offensive play.or thats how the game of basketball is played.?

        one more thing i heard the crowd shouting defence,defence.why is that?
        do basketball has a preference to defence?

        • Nik says:

          There are probably multiple reasons out there about why people hate Lebron:

          1. He’s the most talented player in the NBA right now, and as is the wont of sports fans and media, people are labeling him as the best ever. This rubs others the wrong way.

          2. People dislike him for his botching of his departure from Cleveland. Holding a one hour special on ESPN to break the collective hearts of a fanbase on national television was not one of his smarter moves.

          3. People like to hate.

          • Kxevin says:

            People loathe LeBron James because he is an arrogant asshat. NOBODY has an effin’ TV SHOW to announce the next destination that will make them a multi-multi-millionaire.

            He has pretty much stopped trying to improve his game, which is why he hasn’t won a championship yet. If he does this season, it will only be because of a Barca-like injury plague that was visited upon the Chicago Bulls.

            Speaking of the Bulls, the “next Jordan” complexities are rearing their heads. James ain’t it, but there will never be another Jordan, just as there will never be another Messi. To be fair to James, he was anointed thus, and has never made any overt aspirations toward being “the next Jordan.”

            He’s a selfish bastard. Jordan went to the Bulls, worked with the team and helped develop that group into a dominant NBA force. James just skedaddled to Miami. There’s something to be said for loyalty, but again, he’s screwed in that context because the Jordan Standard is impossibly high. That standard also requires an astute GM and excellent coaching staff, which the Bulls only completed with the acquisition of Phil Jackson/Tex Winter/Johnny Bach.

            There are a host of other reasons, just as not making his teammates better, etc, etc.

          • Nik says:

            To be fair, Jordan was also an arrogant asshat. He just backed up his arrogance with the best bling of all: championship rings.

            Has he really stopped trying to improve his game? Wasn’t this season statistically his best season ever? And I would also question the “He doesn’t improve his teammates” comment. Look at how Cleveland imploded as soon as he left. Didn’t he help them raise their game while he was there?

            The ghost of Jordan is definitely a big deal. But, I think Lebron brought the heat upon himself by embracing the hype. “The King”? Wearing no. 23?

            Idk, I don’t blame him as much as you seem to for leaving Cleveland. Athletes have the right to leave a club if they want to. He was perfectly alright to leave for greener pastures. If Jordan hadn’t gotten the supporting cast that he had (or Phil)…who knows right? Jordan certainly wasn’t an angel. Regardless, I don’t think Lebron is any less of a player for deciding to leave Cleveland. I judge him for ok-ing “The Decision” though. What an idiot.

            And come on; Chicago-Miami would have been a great series, but there is no guarantee that Chicago would have won. As much as we like to boast of our understanding of sport, we’re often wrong. Look at the San Antonio-OKC series. A few days ago, people were penciling SA in the Finals. Hell, some were even bringing them up as one of the greatest teams ever. Now? We’re one win away from OKC’s young guns as WC champions. If Miami wins, it’ll be because they deserved it.

          • Kxevin says:

            True nik, but if you look at how the two players play the game, it’s very different. The Bulls didn’t become the team they became until Jordan started making his teammates better by passing, playing defense, accepting that sometimes his presence on the court as a decoy is more valuable than him putting the ball in the net.

            Cleveland imploded because they lost 25+ points a game. Hard to replace that. And yes, James will forever carry the burden of scuttling down the ratlines to Miami instead of sticking it out, and letting Cleveland build a championship team around him.

            Every year, Jordan came back with something: defense, passing, fadeaway jumper, assists, triple-doubles. James, however, is still getting the ball and waving everybody out of his way, as if he were still in high school.

            EVERY superstar player is arrogant. Comes with the territory. The difference is in how you subsume your ego for the greater good. James, to me as a player, hasn’t demonstrated that he can do that yet. His biggest benefit in Miami has been showing Wade that he isn’t a superstar, and never will be.

            As for the Bulls, they were in the collective heads of the Heat. But again, that presumes a non-insane string of injuries that gutted the starting 5. For me, once the Bulls went out it all went up for grabs. Age caught up to San Antonio, along with a positively stupid shot by James Harden. It happens.

          • Nik says:

            As for the Bulls, they were in the collective heads of the Heat. But again, that presumes a non-insane string of injuries that gutted the starting 5. For me, once the Bulls went out it all went up for grabs. Age caught up to San Antonio, along with a positively stupid shot by James Harden. It happens.

            Maybe, but sadly enough, the Big 2.5 have been enough for Miami to overpower teams. I’m not saying the Bulls didn’t have a shot; I just don’t think it’s a guarantee they would have topped Miami. I would have loved to see it though. I grew up by Chicago during the Jordan years, so I’ve always had an attachment for the Bulls. I wouldn’t dare insult true fans by calling myself one however.

            Every year, Jordan came back with something: defense, passing, fadeaway jumper, assists, triple-doubles. James, however, is still getting the ball and waving everybody out of his way, as if he were still in high school.

            True, but I can’t presume to hate him for not evolving his game like I expect him to. It’s very easy for me to park my butt on the couch and say, “Oh he should definitely be doing [x] and [y].” I don’t know how hard it is for him to improve those aspects of his game, and I don’t know how many hours (if any) he’s put in to try to improve them. I can say that at this point, he can’t come close to carrying Jordan’s jock strap. So what? He’s not alone in failing to measure up to the greatest basketball player ever.

            And yes, James will forever carry the burden of scuttling down the ratlines to Miami instead of sticking it out, and letting Cleveland build a championship team around him.

            Meh, if I were a Cleveland fan, I’d hate him for leaving my team. But as a general basketball fan with no ties to Cleveland, I find it hard to muster up any anger/hate over that (note: I’m talking about the decision to leave, not the way he went about in announcing it. THAT annoyed me to no end). He wanted to play in Miami, and I respect his right to decide where he wants to play.

          • Messiah10 says:

            Lebron and Jordan are 2 completely different players. Lebron is a freak of nature. His size and power are more that of a Strong Forward, but he plays like a Point Guard/Shooting Guard. He may be the most athletically+strong player the game has ever seen. Jordan was the BEST period. No arguments. Lebron’s game is more equivalent to Larry Bird then Jordan. To be fair, Jordan didn’t win a title until his 7th season. Lebron has plenty of time. I kinda dislike him for the reason Kevin stated. The “Decision”, in which he held his team hostage all summer, only to announce on live t.v. that he was bolting. As for the Bulls this year. I agree with Kevin. Derrick Rose is the most explosive player I’ve seen in a loooonnng time. I can’t believe his 1st step and steps after. Unreal. Losing him was the equivalent of Jordan being injured before the playoff’s. If Lebron was hurt, Miami would definitely feel it, but not as much because of Wade and Bosh. Noah getting hurt killed the Bulls too. He is Barca’s Abidal or Keita. Does everything that doesn’t end up in the box charts after the game. I didn’t watch the game last night, so I have no idea if Miami or Boston won. I hate watching the NBA. I stated that somewhere else. Not the same game as used to be and most players don’t even care anymore. I think they should shorten the season to 62 games and lower playoff series to 5 games and it’d be more exciting. Never happen though because of $

    • nzm says:

      Thanks hammeronmessi. :)

  44. hammeronmessi says:

    since i am a fan of argentina NT,why there is no place for banega?i know right now he is injured but even when he was fit he was not given a proper chance.

    watched the game finally.gago is good but i have always a suspicion he is not good enough to play against a top opposition.

    i have rather play masche as a CB, banega,pastore and demichileis as the DM?
    any thoughts?

    • nzm says:

      Definitely think that Masch should be CB and Demichelis as DM. Demichelis has worked well in that position at Malaga, and with Masch there to clean up in the back row, I think that the Argie defence could only be stronger for it. Couldn’t possibly get any weaker, could it? :)

      Pastore is a strange one – am not sure why he doesn’t get included, but he seems to be too inconsistent with his performances.

      Banega ruled himself out for pretty much all of last season. First, it was his knee and then, in February, he broke/injured his ankle in a gas station when he didn’t put his hand-brake on and his car ran over his foot. It took him out of the La Liga Valencia game at Camp Nou for which I was happy about as he was a huge threat in the Los Che side over the CdR legs in the weeks before, but I was not happy about his injury.

      • hammeronmessi says:

        with that i must say argentinas fullbacks are woeful.
        both in attack and in defence.

        they must have some good fullbacks otherwise di maria is not tactically flexible to trackback and help out the fullbacks in the right side.he has work rate but still he stayed too much centrally in the match against ecuador

  45. Salia says:

    After a first year at Barcelona B, winger Gerard Deulofeu (18) could next season switch between the first team and the B-team.(Sport)

    Not sure what to make of this. Think it is just a year or two early. The few times when he has come on he has looked too eager to impress and also very nervous which is obvious because he wouldnt take people on in fear of giving the ball away.

    That said I really would like to see him play for the first team like he did against Xerez.

    Thoughts???

    • blitzen says:

      I’m sure he will get call-ups to the first team, just as other B players will. Nothing unusual about that. Much too early think about promoting him, but I’m sure that’s not on the agenda right now.

  46. Salia says:

    Sport also says that both Afellay and Deulofeu are Tito’s cards thhat are hidden up his sleeve because of both their speed, youth, scoring ability and determination.

    Afellay’s role in particular will be one of much more importance because Tito’s confidence in his ability to shoot, provide good crosses, beat his marker with pace and dribbling and also his ability to attack the space. But at the same time if an offer of around 15 million came along then he will most definitley be sold.

    As for Deulofeu, Tito has been very impressed with Gerard’s exploits with the B team in his first season with them. He sees him as a very flashy player and whose character has been improved a lot since being promoted to the B team. Apparently some of the veterans of the first team have said that they have never seen someone as decisive for someone of his age.

    • Kxevin says:

      For me, I wouldn’t sell Afellay for any price. It would be more expensive to replace his skill set than he would fetch on the market. The last two matches, he has been Holland’s best player, and that’s saying something. After a serious knee injury, the question is always how cutting, pace and explosiveness will be affected. Afellay seems to have suffered no ill effects.

      This, for me, not to mention the skill sets that Sport mentions, means that Afellay is superior to Tello and Cuenca, put together. If he came from La Masia there wouldn’t be any question of even considering selling Afellay. Further, if we sell him, it will be a stupid, stupid transaction.

      Problems for Afellay are Fabregas and Thiago, not to mention Cuenca and Tello. Cuenca’s injury and the length of the required rehab probably means that Afellay won’t move in the summer window unless an extraordinary offer comes in. But Fabregas feeds in the same trough as Afellay, so to speak, limiting his midfield options. You can see why Afellay is functioning as a pure winger for the Oranje. He understands what his role will be if he is to stick with FCB, and that is as a devastating, world-class (he is starting for Holland. Cuenca/Tello aren’t even close to being capped for Spain) winger.

      • blitzen says:

        You can see why Afellay is functioning as a pure winger for the Oranje. He understands what his role will be if he is to stick with FCB, and that is as a devastating, world-class winger.

        This is exactly what I thought when I watched him in the last game. He is preparing for his role at Barça. And doing very well.

      • olbucky says:

        You’re dead on with your analysis of Affely unless of course his value sky rockets and we could use him to get Thiago Silva.

      • jordi™ says:

        I agree completely. Tello has his pace, Cuenca has his crossing but Afellay has both qualities and a mean shot from distance to go with it and the ability to play any where in the midfield, from a holding player to a central attacking one.We practically have three or four players in one and he wont cause trouble and demand things in the media. Its basically the new Keita but with more offensive potential and the ability to be a game breaker.I would let Keita leave and loan Tello in a heartbeat to keep this guy. Hopefully his luck turns around.

        • messifan says:

          I was thinking the same thing about Afellay and the Keita comparison.

          Reading comments on twitter and from other non-Barca sources, people make a big deal of us buying him to sit on the bench, which is not true.

          What non-Barca followers don’t get was that, when he was bought in January of last year, he needed time to adjust. He played a good amount of games and made that huge assist to Messi.

          This season, he was injured at the start of the season. So to say that he was sitting on the bench this whole time is just ridiculous. If he were healthy, Cuenca and Tello would be no where near the first team.

          • Jim says:

            Don’t want to be a killjoy but I found it hard before the injury to see what others appeared to in him. To be fair, I haven’t watched the Dutch games and I don’t wish him any ill – he’s one of our players – but what does he have now that he didn’t before? He was a benchwarmer then and I’m not sure it’ll be any different this time. I don’t remember any great dribbling skills or pace. I do remember a pretty good long shot but that won’t get him a place in the A team.

          • Kxevin says:

            He isn’t a starter, Jim, but he does bring a skill set to the side that we don’t have, particularly on the wing. His skill set(s) have solidified, and he has matured as a player, clearly learning from being in the system for a time. He’s significantly better now than he was when he arrived.

  47. Sheena says:

    I can’t imagine the amount of work that must have gone into this post. Thanks, nzm.

  48. hammeronmessi says:

    thanks u all for explaining the lebron hate.

    and why the boston crowd is chanting defence,defence?

  49. barca96 says:

    You can see why Afellay is functioning as a pure
    winger for the Oranje. He understands what his
    role will be if he is to stick with FCB, and that is
    as a devastating, world-class winger.

    and

    This is exactly what I thought when I watched
    him in the last game. He is preparing for his role
    at Barça. And doing very well.

    C’mon now. I know we are big fans of him but you guys are going a bit too far. You two are letting your imaginations run wild.

    Which national coach would let their player decide which position they want to play? And in this case, let the player, Affelay, make a choice based on his future with his football club, Barca. Not for the country and team that they’re representing but club.

    I can’t imagine Ibi telling van Marwijk “hey listen, I don’t have a future playing in the middle of the park at Barca, I have better chances playing in the wings so why don’t you let me play on the wings instead of midfield. ”

    Truth is, he has no place in midfield at Oranje and he’s been playing as a winger for Oranje for a long time already.

    • messifan says:

      Yeah, Bert actually told Afellay that he has to play on the wing b/c in the middle there’s only room for one creative player: Sneijder.
      Van Bommel and De Jong for holding positions.

      Bert said something about Zidane and how not everyone can play in the middle because there’s no space.

      I think Afellay will start for Holland in place of Kuyt. Robben and Afellay will switch wings more often. And van Persie will start up front, not Huntelaar.

    • blitzen says:

      I don’t think either of us was suggesting that Afellay told the coach where he would play. Van Marwijk said that he had several excellent choices for the “10” role including Sneijder, Van Der Vaart & Afellay, but that he chose to deploy Afellay on the wing because he was so adaptable.

      Instead of making a fuss or trying to convince the coach otherwise, Afellay has happily accepted playing in this position because he knows that is where his future lies with Barça.

      That’s all.

      • barca96 says:

        This is exactly what I thought when I watched
        him in the last game. He is preparing for his role
        at Barça.
        And doing very well.

        I don’t think that is what van Marwijk, the Dutch people and myself included would expect. Him to play there to “prepare ” for his role at Barça instead of playing his best there at Oranje because he has no place in midfield.

        • blitzen says:

          The two things are not mutually exclusive, you know.

          • Kxevin says:

            He’s preparing for his (potential future) role at Barca by devoting himself to the task instead of pouting and whining about it not being his natural position, or some such bollocks. And he’s having the opportunity to do it against some of the world’s best players. He is making the most of an opportunity, while also doing his best for his country, and possibly solidifying his role on his club team. Nothing wrong with that.

  50. barca96 says:

    It’s been a long time hammer.

    Btw, he didn’t join a team with arriving stars except for Chris Bosh. Wade was already there in Miami.

    I pity the NBA players. In order to be respected they have to build their own dynasty. They can’t join a team which already has a star.

    Till today a lot of fans are complaining that Kobe, one of the greatest ever won because he had Shaq as a team mate and later on Pau from Barcelona and Andrew Bynum.

    Its similar to how haters are saying that Messi can’t do it without Xavi and Iniesta.

    That said, you should watch more NBA. Nearly every match is exciting end to end stuff until the last second. But before warned though. The last 2-3 minutes will take forever to finish with the time outs and deliberate fouls to send the other team to the free throws.

    • Nik says:

      Till today a lot of fans are complaining that Kobe, one of the greatest ever won because he had Shaq as a team mate and later on Pau from Barcelona and Andrew Bynum.

      I don’t think people debate Kobe’s inclusion in the all-time greats as much as his relative positioning within that esteemed list.

      • barca96 says:

        Oh and yeah, Rondo is very good, I’d say he is the basketball equivalent to Xavi, he makes his team tick. Doesn’t score much but they really need him.

        LeBron is like Ronaldo. No flair but very destructive in a good way. Always reliable. Will bulldoze through anything like a machine.

    • Nik says:

      I pity the NBA players. In order to be respected they have to build their own dynasty. They can’t join a team which already has a star.

      This seems true in football too, no? It’s the central thesis for all the “Messi isn’t as good as CR7/Pele/Maradona/Hleb ( ;) )” arguments out there.

    • mega_tajh says:

      Not sure but wasn’t Wade a free agent that summer also. It was his choice to remain with the Heats after the Chicago Bulls came calling, hence my grouping as arriving stars.

      Not to mention the arrival of Mike Miller that summer also, who despite not having the media coverage is a player of caliber who is paying his worth for the Heats of the bench.

      • Kxevin says:

        Wade was never coming to Chicago. That was just a negotiating ploy. It’s a pretty well-known fact that Chicago will NEVER get a big-name free agent (sorry, Carlos Boozer fans). Team, ownership, Jordan shadow. He was always staying in Miami.

        I was bummed that Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing retired without a ring. But it was their misfortune to be a contemporary of one of the greats of the game. If James doesn’t get a ring, I’ll just giggle and spit on the ground.

        Now, we’re about to screw the pooch on Derrick Rose. He should have gotten Messi-like attention. Instead he does uncertain training regimens and lives on Skittles and pizza. Did that affect the knee? Nope. But who knows what might have happened had he been on a targeted, injury-prevention program of strengthening and elongation.

        But, like Jordan and the broken foot early in his career, this could force Rose to develop a new, almost monk-like dedication to the game, a la Jordan. We’ll see.

  51. Lev says:

    Lol@Kxevin’s venom towards Lebron!!! Completely agreed by the way. And people left out the part that the most talented player since MJ should not have joined a team where he ended up being Wade’s girlfriend instead of the Alpha Dog. Woof!

    I would love for Afellay to play for Barcelona the way he plays in the Holland friendlies. Actually, I would love for him to play for Holland the way he plays in the Holland friendlies. This tournament (and next season) will tell, I guess.

  52. hammeronmessi says:

    barca 96
    been very busy.

    Before the 3rd match i have never seen basketball live.only watched some clips shown in sports centre and some all star flashy stuff.

    Heard of jordan,johnson,papin,shak,kobe,james,durant,wade,garnette.
    but never heard of rondo.but he caught my eye in the game.fantastic player.is he a big star in Boston ala garnette.

    So i have picked the xavi of basketball.
    All these years of watching barca did not go in vain.

    But if u want to know who my favourite basketball player Was the answer is alan iversen.

    In a game of basketball he can be considered a midget.but the way he picked points after points for the 76ers that Was stunning.

    Is he retired now.

    • nzm says:

      The pic’s taken by Barca photographer Alex Caparros on the Barca TV set of the programme “Estació Camp Nou”.

      It’s a one-on-one interview series which involves players and coaching team members from all the FCB disciplines.

      Haven’t seen the Afellay interview, but may have missed it because we don’t always watch Barca TV. Sacrilege, I know! :)

  53. ciaran says:

    Apparently Zubi told Atletico to look elsewhere when they asked for Cristian Tello, suggesting he is in Tito’s plans.
    So our front line should look something like
    Messi, Alexis, Pedro, Villa, Afellay, Tello & Cuenca once he returns to action. Add to that list, we could also call on Deulofeu from the B team if necessary, as has been mentioned today.
    I think we can ignore any rumours of striker signings.
    As I’ve said before, I think the Neymar deal is done for next season so there’s absolutely no chance of signing someone.

    Midfield we are stacked too; even if Keita moves on I still think we would be ok, depending on who we sign for centre back.

    The Thiago Silva rumours are coming so thick and fast that I’m beginning to think that it’s actually going to happen. Unfortunately, I’d still prefer to sign Javi Martinez, for the whole Basque thing but either way I’m happy.
    If we sign Thiago Silva, we can use Masch in midfield to cover Busquets and if we sign Javi he can do it.

    Lastly, Jordi Alba looks like he’s all wrapped up. He confirmed that we are negotiating and Maurizio Pellegrino pretty much said that he’ll be missed so, welcome Jordi.

    • Kxevin says:

      Latest “word” is that we have said we aren’t going to participate in the bidding war that Milan is trying to set up with Silva. Which would make sense, seeing as how, if you believe Sport, we only have 25m to spend, and Silva will be in the 35-40m range if Milan has its way.

      And re: Alba, who knows what to believe.

  54. Salia says:

    Apparently Galliani wasnt in Barcelona to discuss Thiago Silva, infact he was in a Brcelona Restaraunt to speak with Guardiola’s agent about his future, although it is understood that Guardiola isnt opent to any offers for 12 months according to md.

    Also according to the Valencia president Manuel LLorente they want 15 million for Alba but we are only willing to pay 12 million.

    According to reports in Brazil Neymar could arrive earlier than expected. Instead of next summer or the summer after he could arrive this winter transfer window.

    • blitzen says:

      I bet Guardiola’s agent is looking forward to a long year of free dinners from representatives of every club in the world. If he plays his cards right, he may never have to pay for food again!

    • Kxevin says:

      NEYMAR!!!!

      The longer that dude spends in Brazil, the worse off he will be. He has gotten all that he can get from that league/country. Time for the next level, though I do wish he had the ego to accept a bridge team, like a PSG or something, before coming to us. Assuming, of course, that the rumors are true about his already being signedsealeddelivered to us.

  55. Kxevin says:

    The latest Iniesta “Illusionista” video from Allas:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APTM4Pxnqi0

  56. hansh says:

    This is completely unrelated from all things Barca, but the Venus transit is going on right now! NASA has a live stream going on: http://venustransit.nasa.gov/webcasts/nasaedge/

    It’s the last Venus transit in our lifetimes, so tune in!

    /nerd.

  57. blitzen says:

    Speaking of Iniesta, if you haven’t seen this video by Allas (in glorious slow motion), you have really missed something:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APTM4Pxnqi0

    *weeping*

  58. Barcaleya says:

    Just got tickets for the Argentina – Brazil friendly on Saturday.

    Will finally get to see Messi!!! (And Kun. And Neymar :p) Yay, yay, yay!! I’m over the moon.

    (I saw the Barca – Man U friendly last year but Lio wasn’t around)

    Is there anyone else here who is also watching? Would love to maybe meet up :D

    • hansh says:

      Do you see this? This right here? This is my jealousy. It’s yours now. I hope you enjoy it.

      Just kidding. Enjoy!! I’ll probably be watching from home.

      • Barcaleya says:

        Hi Hansh!

        I can’t believe it myself. It was actually given to me by a client. I was getting all excited having Messi and Masch and Kun and everyone here in NYC. Before I know it – I was handed a mezzanine ticket for the game!

        Thing is – I’ll have to watch alone :( I’ve never gone to a sporting event by myself. Gosh. I seriously would not have minded watching by myself at the Camp Nou. Good thing this is just a friendly so I’m sure I’ll survive.

        That’s why I would dearly love to meet with fellow cules if anyone else is watching.

        I will take photos for you, Hansh! :D

          • Barcaleya says:

            Tee hee. I know, I know.

            But guys, how fun can it be watching alone?! It can’t be!

        • Messiah10 says:

          I would watch match by myself in a heart beat. I wouldn’t want others distracting my eyes from a second of the match! I’m seriously jealous. If I could afford a plane tic to NYC I’d be outside asking for a “miracle”. Enjoy. You’ll have a fantastic experience. You’ll get to see Messi!!! Neymar as well. This won’t be any regular friendly. Don’t kid yourself. This is Brazil vs Argentina. None of the players will take this lightly. The rivalry means to much. It’ll be a war!

          • Barcaleya says:

            Thanks Messiah10!

            I just found out that Isaiah and the rest of the gang are going too so….it will be a party! I will be there with the penya. I may not be seated beside them though :(

            Doesn’t matter.

            I’m super excited now!

  59. Kxevin says:

    Celtics take a 3-2 series lead back to Boston Garden. #noringforking

  60. barca96 says:

    WHy are there rumors that we are selling Adriano? That man is a good footballer and very versatile. I’d keep him unless we can get more than 15m for him.

  61. hammeronmessi says:

    @barca 96
    check my comment on basketball greats.
    Is my favorite player Iversen a basketball legend?

    May finally start to watch some basketball.

    I m rooting for celtics.dont know why?

    • barca96 says:

      No, AI3 or the Answer as he is famously known isn’t a great to me.

      It’s Iverson btw. He is good but it was a one man show offensively as he had the license to take all of their shots.

      I don’t know what happened to him after his playoff runs because I was in boarding school. When I came out he was traded to Denver and then no more team wanted him or something like that.

      It’s sad when great players have a horrible ending to their career. Sometimes I wish they would retire before they are sliding down and nobody wants them.

      I hope Kobe will retire soon and at Lakers.
      By soon I mean, if next season again they don’t make improvements and he is again is less effective, then he should retire when his contract is up.

      ps. It’s Pippen and Shaq by the way.

  62. barca96 says:

    A very nice comment from a very good article over at the Guardian on Busquets.

    Euro2012
    4 June 2012 8:41PM
    Another good article.

    A while ago, Marca published profiles of all Spanish Euro players when they were young. For Busquets, he was not brought up in La Masia until he was 17 years old. Before then he played for his neighborhood club. After the World Cup, some Christmas money from his old club was stolen, so Sergio donated his World Cup boots for auction. Perhaps, this story seems ordinary, but it highlights his humbleness outside of football. In fact, we rarely hear him speak in interviews or any sport promotions. Part of the reason is that his position is less glamorous compared to his peers. But he’s very essential to the way Barcelona play.

    • nzm says:

      Ooof – you read all the comments?

      I couldn’t stomach them after I got to the umpteenth one accusing Busquets (and the whole Barca team) of diving!

      • mom4 says:

        NEVER. READ. COMMENTS. anywhere but here. That’s my rule of thumb. Even totalBarca comments can get out of hand (but can also be a good source of info). The only safe comments are here. Moderation and registration are good things.

    • Barcaleya says:

      Mom, I know that but sometimes I just can’t help reading comments!

      So I find drivel like this one at ZM re who needs to be dropped for Spain squad:

      “That has to be the easiest question ever asked … Answer: Busquets.

      Reasoning: If you’ve got 70+% of the possession you need someone who can actually play the ball, in all positions … you don’t need someone extra to “get the ball back”, an extra security measure as it were … xxx

      Basically, Busquets is useless on the ball and since Spain’ll be on the ball, well … you get my point. Anyone can make the passes he does and I’m sure that any Spanish midfielder, if they were to put in the effort, can recover a ball “as well as he does” (that’s sarcastic by the way – I think B. needs too many fouls to try to recover a ball) … if Javi Martinez can play as a central defender for Bilbao (after playing most of his career as a central midfielder) I’m sure he can do the same job and better (has better ball handling skills and game insight) or Xabi Alonso or S.Carzola or even Xavi.”

      Can you believe that?! I am so incensed. Some people who don’t know anything have the temerity to write comments like this. Really?! Busquets doesn’t know to play the ball?! Anyone can make the passes he does?! Arrrggghhhhh! I go crazy!

  63. K_legit in Oz says:

    So, what is with this absolute hate for LeBron James?
    As far as i gather it has to do with him moving to a team for money or something?!

  64. hammeronmessi says:

    thanx.

    Oi by the way i dont pay attention to the rumours in the silly seasons.

    For what its worth i still want cavani and verto.
    V can play both as a cb and lb and relatively cheap.

    Our forward line consists of mvp,alexis, tello,cuenca.
    Cuenca is more of a classic winger,tello is good but unreliable.,villa will be back from the injury. .we will be fighting for all cups and we r going with only 2 reliable forwards plus villa and pedro.not good enough.

    If we dont buy a forward then it makes no sense to sell afellay.

    If no forward then if i were given the chance i will buy martinez and vertongen

    Adriano is at same level of alba imo.he also lacks height.there are no good left backs in the market apart from cashley.

    • mom4 says:

      I’d be totally cool with Vertonghen. But don’t the Spurs have him wrapped up?

      Cavani would be great, too. We could use some better hair on the team. But he’d be a want not a need.

      Wouldn’t want Cole if he were the last LB on the planet.

      My wish list:
      Get Vertonghen, Get Alba or Alaba, keep Afellay/Keita/ Adriano. Loan Tello/Fontas/every new ex-B teamer but Montoya, consider old/ free/tall/willing to come off the beanch/ but still useful CF.

  65. lea_terzi says:

    I dislike Chelsea, always disliked Chelsea, and started borderline hating them after last season.
    But damn, are they going to be fun to watch next season!
    If they unleash the flair of Mata, Hazard and Torres + the power of Hulk and Romeu + the hustle of Ramires, I envision a victory for football. Better late than never.

  66. nzm says:

    Newsflash: The Ramos has had a haircut, and Torres is trying to channel Guti!

    Team in front of plane

    Pedro looks so happy to be there – must be doing him so much psychological good to be included.

  67. Salia says:

    What a showing from Gerard Deulofeu against Xerez. Boy ran the show. Also he looks a lot more built and stronger now than he did when I last saw him play against Bate Borisov in the Cl as a sub.

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xrbogm_gerard-deulofeu-vs-xerez_sport?start=45

  68. Salia says:

    Valencia assume that left back Jordi Alba (23) will join Barcelona this summer and are already looking for a replacement. [md sport el9 sd]

    from Barcastuff

    • Clouseau says:

      Appearantly they are linked with St.Étiennes promising LB Faouzi Ghulam who is a french U21 international.On longterm view that could be one hell of a reinforcement.

      Then there is a quote of Manuel Llorente telling that there is yet no negotiation on Alba..

      I for one couldn’t care less if Transfer would workout.Not so exicited about rate him only as a younger & less fragile version of Adriano.

  69. Clouseau says:

    Read your wonderful piece,nzm!Very informative, thank you for your effort appreaciate it :)

    It’s hard to believe how many records he broke throughout the seaon/the year.He’s already in top 5 of Argentinas Topscorerhistory
    (23 goals scored current no1 Batistuta 56 Goals.)
    Guy’s only 24 and already has a absurdly trivia of Recordplayer.
    Undestandable why so many publisher wants to work with him for a autobiography provides already enough material for it.

    I think Barcelona’s Messidependencia resulted more from the current way of playing than the Injuries upfront.He took a lot of responsibility, way too much for me likely, but he mastered it amazingly.In any Case Tito should change Barcelona’s forwardplay and lessen Messis responsibility & freedoms.

    • nzm says:

      Thanks Clouseau!

      I hadn’t realised that Messi was that high up in the Argentina records – thanks for the info. Amazing.

      As for a biography – if Pedro can already have one out, Messi must be well overdue for one! :D

      As for my thoughts re Messidependencia, I still think that if the team had more fit and in-from players up front this season, we wouldn’t be talking about it – IF more goals had been scored by other players.

      Certainly, Messi tried and tried and tried to put assists into Villa, Pedro and Cesc all season, only to see most of them come to nothing. So the pressure was even greater on him to score when the others were not successful.

      A healthy team around him will make all the difference. I look forward to seeing that next season, insh’allah! :D

  70. blitzen says:

    Interview with Eusebio Sacristan from the official site:
    http://www.fcbarcelona.com/football/barca-b/detail/article/eusebio-i-was-convinced-id-be-able-to-perform-well

    I just don’t know what to think. He says all the right things:

    . I was thrilled to be able to do that at Barça, which I understand to be the perfect place, where I can work as I like, at a club with a clear philosophy. And it helps that all the teams follow the same methodology, and one I already knew. It was very easy for me to adapt, it was like a homecoming”.

    . I had to show that I have clear ideas, knowledge and motivations, and that gave me a lot of confidence. The same confidence that Barça reinforced. I know that my knowledge can be applied to any club, but I am also convinced that it is here that I can make the best advantage of them. All the concepts we learned from Cruyff and everything that we developed under Frank are here.

    But we saw very little of that “clear philosophy” on the field this season. He talks a lot about developing the youth, but we saw how several of his players actually seemed to go backwards and others were sidelined. I do agree with some of the things he mentions, like that playing in the Segunda means that these youth players will start to lose some games and that is healthy for them, and the effects on morale of players being called up to the first team or being left behind. That must be difficult to manage.

    Regarding the lack of fan support for the B team, maybe Michele could chime in here: How much does the club promote the B team games? Why don’t more people go? How much are the tickets? I can understand socis not being able to afford or willing to attend two home games in one weekend (first team & B team), but I would have thought people would still come out & support the B team on weekends when the first team is away. It just seems to me that there is a lot more the club could do to get people to come out. Lower ticket prices, for one thing. It’s not like they are making money off the matches anyway, so why not make the tickets as cheap as possible? Hell, why not make them free? The few hundred Euros the club currently makes per match can’t possibly be worth more than a stadium full of cheering fans.

    • nzm says:

      Eusebio’s a bit of a yes-man, I feel – says the right things and knows how to please the board by saying those things. His inclusion in Cruyff’s Dream Team still carries a bit of mana, but he also knows how to appease his current bosses. As long as he continues to do that, he’ll be the Barca B manager, provided they don’t get relegated.

      He may have all the best intentions at heart, but he perhaps lacks the skills to get his message across to the players. Certainly, we’ve seen little of the Barca philosophy in the way in which the team has played this season. He’s not a big coach on the sidelines either – isn’t vocal when it comes to standing and issuing instructions as the games are being played.

      I do think that the non-call-up of some of the kids to the first team plays more on their psyches than a lot of people care to admit, especially when Guardiola was in charge because they all wanted to shine for him.

      ***

      Entry to Barca B games is free to members which you’d think should fill the Miniestadi. However, we’ve yet to go to a B game!

      Their lack of consistency is a major factor. If we were sure of a good show (win, draw or lose), we’d perhaps make the effort of (more than an hour to get to Camp Nou and the same to go home) going out there.

      The game times are also different – played earlier than Liga BBVA mostly, and this cuts into dinner preparations for a lot of families.

      We wanted to go a couple of times, but poor weather made us stay home and watch the game on TV – pleased that we hadn’t wasted our time when they either lost or played so poorly that, if it wasn’t for the Barca crest on their shirts, we’d think that they were another team; such was the absence of Barca-style.

      If we could, and public transport made it easier, we’d rather go and watch some of the younger grades out at the Ciutat Esportiva – they are fantastic to watch.

      *****
      For non-members, Barca B tickets are only for sale at the main ticket office at Camp Nou which means having to go out there when the office is open to buy them.

      Tickets are quite pricey in this economy: Barca B Ticket prices and I can attest to the fact that sitting behind the goals, in the cheaper seats, at the Miniestadi is no fun at all.

      Most ticket promotions are done on either the Catala or Castellano websites, so these need to be monitored in preference to the English site. I guess that the club thinks that no English-speaking visitors would want to go to a B game. :|

      *****
      I think that the B teams, who all have First teams who are in La Liga BBVA, suffer from this lack of support. There’s only so much money for most people to buy tickets and limited time for a lot of people, so the First Teams are preferentially supported.

      The only team which did have a good following was Villarreal B and the poor guys have to go to the Tercera Division next season because of their First Team relegation.

      • nzm says:

        Just realised that I used the word “mana” which is a Pacific Island term.

        It means to have respect, power or authority – sometimes as a legacy from something done in the past.

      • blitzen says:

        Not Tercera, they go down to Segunda B.

        Yeah, I understand that a lot of the locals wouldn’t have any extra cash to spend supporting a bunch of kids, but it’s sad to see the empty stands. All teams tend to play better when they have a crowd of supporters. I see that it is free for kids under 12—they should promote the games in schools.

        • nzm says:

          A rose is a rose is a rose. If you’re not in Liga BBVA or Adelante, it’s the 3rd league no matter what spin the RFEF tries to put on it! They certainly don’t receive any TV coverage on national channels because it’s not heavily sponsored like the first 2 divisions.

          As for promoting it in schools – that’s fine, but you still need the buy-in from the parents to take them as the games are at night or on weekend afternoons. With parents working, trying to get meals ready or not affording the entry ticket, there’s still a hurdle over which to leap.

          At present, it’s only free for kids accompanied by a paying/member adult. They don’t want to babysit a thousand kids turning up unaccompanied, and neither would I! :D

          • blitzen says:

            I meant organized school trips, with supervision, of course. Just throwing suggestions out there.

          • nzm says:

            Yeah – it means that everyone would need to meet after school hours with all the logistics that it entails of gathering kids, transporting them, ensuring their safety and well-being, and getting them back to base again, plus entrusting that the parents are going to show up in time to pick them up. All in the dark, and in the teachers’ free time on weekends! It’s hard enough doing this during the day.

            It would be brave schools and teachers to take that on.

            I hear what you’re saying, but not sure if it would work that easily.

            The way to do it would be to give out a thousand family passes to kids in a different school each week when there’s a home game – limit of 6 people per ticket. That way, the club has the potential to have 6,000 people turn up and still have 9,000 seats to sell at the Miniestadi.

            That still has the potential to be abused, because you could have a whole mass of Espanyol fans arrive to stir things up!

  71. Dani_el says:

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=345011968904609&set=a.111098415629300.16309.111095378962937&type=1&ref=nf

    Rafa Nadal in Barça uniform. What happened along the way to turn him to the dark side?

  72. mom4 says:

    I’m watching the Esp v Ita Euro 2008 game on ESPN Classics right now. Great way to relax before work. Ini had lots more hair. Torres knew what to do with a football. Seeing Senna play so well is making me feel all sad about Villareal again, though. Catching up on some of the football I missed before 2009 (or you could say before I knew that this kind of football existed).

    • blitzen says:

      Don’t feel sad for Villarreal–word on the street is that are about to sign The Greatest Moustache In Spain as their new coach!

      (Manolo Preciado, of course!) :D

      • mom4 says:

        The Moustache will save them!

        Somehow we just went from HT to 81 minutes in??? I’m assuming this is going to extra time based on the fact that it ends at 3:00??? So far, from what I’d seen, the Italians were kicking the heck outta the Spaniards.

        • blitzen says:

          Did you not watch Euro 2008? You don’t know how this game ends? Heroics, I tell you!

          • Ryan says:

            A certain Francesc’s time to shine!

          • mom4 says:

            I didn’t know this kind of football existed in 2008. To me, soccer was just something that my kids played. MSL was boring. I knew that soccer was played in the Olympics and at something called the World Cup. I knew that USA’s girls did better than the guys. Other than that, it was just a sport for kids and them foreigners.

            God bless our friends that showed us the way while we were vacationing with them, forcing us to watch the 2009 Confederations Cup, and telling us about this club from Barcelona and some kid named Messy!

  73. Kxevin says:

    Buzz is that Jordi Alba is done, for 12m. We’ll see. Also a nasty rumor about the sale of Adriano to Juventus. For me, he’s a very good squad player, even as you could argue that he will never have the tactical versatility to serve as part of a 3-man back line.

    • Kxevin says:

      And in the “good news” category, from the Twitters:

      Good news for Afellay: Tito Vilanova wants him to stay part of his plans. Agent Rob Jansen has stopped looking for a new club for him #Barça

    • nzm says:

      Damn about Adriano. Do like the guy. Had a brilliant Copa del Rey final and some good games during the season, including a blitzer against Napoli in the Gamper Trophy. He needed games where it was more open and he was able to play fast up the left side and cross in. It didn’t often happen because of the way in which Barca has played on the left in recent seasons.

      Great news re Afellay.

      I’m still out on Alba, especially if it means at the expense of Adriano. We’re still short of Left Back players with only Alba as the one specialised LB. Doesn’t really fix anything.

      • Kxevin says:

        Exactly. We bring in a starter, and dump a very solid squad player who was also a Swiss army knife (LB, RB, MF, winger). If the 12m price is true it’s a nice bit of business, and it guarantees Montoya more playing time, to boot.

        Adriano defo has tactical limitations that are always going to be there. Perhaps Vilanova thought them too significant for him to continue to deal with. I can’t imagine he has much patience for fragile players, either. Dude was injured a LOT for a player who wasn’t full-time (until Abidal’s transplant).

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