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 Comments

  1. hammeronmessi
    June 5, 2012

    thanks u all for explaining the lebron hate.

    and why the boston crowd is chanting defence,defence?

    • June 5, 2012

      When? On Sunday? That chant is very common in basketball. When opponents have the ball, the home fans call their players to play defense. Hence, “defense, defense!”

      Did you watch the game on Sunday? That was nerve-wracking, and Lebron was foul-out for the first time in his career (from what a friend told me).

    • hammeronmessi
      June 5, 2012

      thank you for the clarification.

    • hammeronmessi
      June 5, 2012

      thank you for the clarification.

      I leave the game at 68 50.
      I thought Boston is gonna win easily
      what is a foul out

    • June 5, 2012

      Players are allotted X number of fouls (6 in the NBA), at which point they are disqualified. It’s a different way of doing the yellow/red card deal, just as subjective.

    • June 5, 2012

      In basketball, fouling out means that a player makes too many fouls, and if a certain limit is reached, he/she is disqualified to play what is left of that particular game.

  2. barca96
    June 5, 2012

    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.

    • June 5, 2012

      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.

    • June 5, 2012

      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
      June 5, 2012

      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.

    • June 5, 2012

      The two things are not mutually exclusive, you know.

    • June 5, 2012

      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.

  3. barca96
    June 5, 2012

    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
      June 5, 2012

      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
      June 5, 2012

      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
      June 5, 2012

      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
      June 5, 2012

      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.

    • June 5, 2012

      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.

  4. Lev
    June 5, 2012

    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.

  5. hammeronmessi
    June 5, 2012

    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
      June 5, 2012

      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! 🙂

  6. ciaran
    June 5, 2012

    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.

    • June 5, 2012

      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.

  7. Salia
    June 5, 2012

    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.

    • June 5, 2012

      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!

    • June 5, 2012

      HA! Maybe there’s such thing as a free lunch after all. Take that economists 😉

    • June 5, 2012

      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.

  8. hansh
    June 5, 2012

    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.

    • June 6, 2012

      Eh, I saw it in 2004, not going to bother waking up at 5:30 in the morning for it.

    • June 5, 2012

      Ooops, didn’t notice Kxevin had already posted it. Well, watch it again anyway.

  9. Barcaleya
    June 5, 2012

    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 😀

    • hansh
      June 5, 2012

      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
      June 5, 2012

      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! 😀

    • June 5, 2012

      Sell Barcaleya!

    • Barcaleya
      June 6, 2012

      Tee hee. I know, I know.

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

    • Messiah10
      June 6, 2012

      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
      June 6, 2012

      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!

  10. June 5, 2012

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

    • hansh
      June 6, 2012

      Seconded, messifan. YES!!!!!!

  11. barca96
    June 6, 2012

    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.

  12. hammeronmessi
    June 6, 2012

    @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
      June 6, 2012

      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.

  13. barca96
    June 6, 2012

    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
      June 6, 2012

      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
      June 6, 2012

      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
      June 6, 2012

      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!

  14. K_legit in Oz
    June 6, 2012

    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?!

    • barca96
      June 6, 2012

      It’s mainly because of “the decision”. Not for money because Cleveland offered him more.

  15. hammeronmessi
    June 6, 2012

    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
      June 6, 2012

      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.

    • garry
      June 6, 2012

      Xactly, mom4. That’s exactly my transfer wishlist!

  16. lea_terzi
    June 6, 2012

    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.

  17. nzm
    June 6, 2012

    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.

    • mom4
      June 6, 2012

      So much money, so little fashion sense. Manditory buzz cuts for a footballers is the only solution (exceptions Xavi and Puyol). Is Llorente working on a mullet?

      But the larger question: How will this affect Crackovia?

      Our guys look better than their guys.

    • June 6, 2012

      lol @ Ramos’ porcupine hair!

      I’ve determined that Cesc only has two facial expressions – frowning or smiling.

      Usually, men in suits look dapper, but these guys look so uncomfortable, even for Xabi.

      Check out the Dutch. They look yummy 😛

      http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m57a6ki8271qgdxr2o1_500.jpg
      (via kickette)

    • nzm
      June 6, 2012

      Yup – they’ve beefed him up this season to give him a body in which to fit his ego. 😀

    • June 6, 2012

      He is definitely more muscular, but I think he has actually lost weight. At the beginning of the season he seemed quite chunky & awkward. I remember commenting on it several times. They must have him in a good fitness plan now because he is both leaner and stronger.

    • June 6, 2012

      I sense that “God Made Him” is very CR-esque in both playing style and attitude. At his age, I fear that he has received too much media attention. He’s very talented but we have to be careful.

    • nzm
      June 6, 2012

      Is there enough room on one team for a Messi-ah and a Deulofeu? 😀

  18. Salia
    June 6, 2012

    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
      June 6, 2012

      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.

  19. Clouseau
    June 6, 2012

    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
      June 6, 2012

      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! 😀

      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! 😀

  20. June 6, 2012

    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
      June 6, 2012

      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
      June 6, 2012

      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.

    • June 6, 2012

      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
      June 6, 2012

      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! 😀

    • June 6, 2012

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

    • nzm
      June 6, 2012

      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!

    • nzm
      June 6, 2012

      Well – he doesn’t exactly look happy in the Barca uniform, does he? 😀

  21. mom4
    June 6, 2012

    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).

    • June 6, 2012

      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!) 😀

    • mom4
      June 6, 2012

      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.

    • June 6, 2012

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

    • Ryan
      June 6, 2012

      A certain Francesc’s time to shine!

    • mom4
      June 6, 2012

      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!

  22. June 6, 2012

    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.

    • June 6, 2012

      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
      June 6, 2012

      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.

    • June 6, 2012

      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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