Barcelona B news post

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Euros, with a bit of team news:

The B team has started to take shape for the next season. The club has confirmed that the following players have been officially promoted from Juvenil A:

Miguel Bañuz (GK), Sergio Ayala (D), Alejandro Grimaldo (LB), Miguel Angel Sainz-Maza (F), Jordi Quintilla (MF), Patric Gabarron (MF) and Jean-Marie Dongou (F).

Players confirmed as leaving Barcelona B so far are Armando, Riverola, & Miño. There are rumours that Carmona and Lobato will be leaving as well, but no confirmation as yet. The futures of Kiko and Rodri have also not been determined. If they do go, the club will need to sign another couple of forwards, and lots of names have been bandied about.

Tello will definitely not form part of the B team next season, but the club is still deciding on his future with the first team or a possible loan/sale.

Several current Barça B players have received offers from other teams. In particular, Sergi Roberto has been linked with Chelsea, but sources say the player prefers to stay at Barcelona in the hope of opportunities to play with the first team (and eventual promotion).

Last year’s Juvenil A team was fantastic, so I am very much looking forward to seeing their best players incorporated into Barcelona B. Dongou has already proved a key player in his appearances last season, and you may remember Grimaldo debuting with Barça B last September as a left-back—at 15 the youngest to ever play in the Segunda. The future looks very bright indeed!

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Canadian, cule, corporate wage slave. Came late to the beautiful game, but fell under FCB's spell in 2006 and never looked back.

298 Comments

  1. June 20, 2012

    Thanks for that. As the future is the future for every level of the club, these posts are so valuable in keeping us up on the young’uns. Tello is going to be a quandary. Something tells me the pressure on him this summer during exhibition season is going to be huge, with a capital H. Same for 3M, though I think the long-term Cuenca knock will relieve some of the pressure on him. We’ll see.

    –The burning question: Les Bleus all the way. I don’t care a whit about Spain, except as much as it makes Barca players happy. Les Bleus are in my heart. IF they lose (lord, that back line) it will bum me out.

    Have the only boring matches involved England? I’m glad they aren’t playing Italy, or they might drop the ball, and they and Italy would stare at each other across the pitch for 90 minutes, then go to penalties. As for the Ibrahimovic goal, sure, why not? Hell of goal. It didn’t matter for anything except his ego and YouTube lore, but what the hell.

    • June 20, 2012

      Yep, Tello is the big question. I am certain that both Afellay and Cuenca are staying. They have different skill sets and can help the team in different ways. Tello is a more direct sort of player, which is a good thing, but harder to fit in with both Messi and a healthy Villa in the team. He has had some excellent performances, but will need consistent playing time to improve his adaptability and keep playing at a high level. I don’t think the club is interested in selling him outright, although there are lots of clubs that would take him. I think if the player is willing, and I think he will be, a loan would be the best thing. Somewhere like Betis or Valencia would be good. He can always be recalled in January if he is needed. I wouldn’t mind keeping him at Barça either, personally, but that would mean a lot of bench time for him.

  2. June 20, 2012

    Next season will be very challenging for Barca B. On one side, lot of extremely talented youth will feed the squad some of whom I have my bets on. In the other hand, the team will miss the experience needed to hold the team together. We saw the impact of Thiago and co departure last season. Many players will leave this summer and I feel JDS will be one of them, if not Roberto as well (at least for loan). Keep in mind there is already a traffic jam in first team’s midfield and it is highly unlikely that any youth midfielder will have an inch of space there in the coming two seasons.

    Bartra, Montoya, and Muniesa were supposedly promoted for next season, then they were moved to “we’ll see about it” category. That’s the defense line for you. It was a mistake to promise promotion then back, and I think the mentioned players should either be promoted or loaned out. I doubt they will have the moral to develop more in the B team.

    All what I hope for, is that we strengthen the B-team with players in a way that make more sense than what we’ve seen last summer. But it is not like the first team will have it easier with transfers.

    I’m not convinced by any of the names linked to Barcelona so far this summer (for the first team). Alba is ok, but for the price rumored he is not a mouthwatering hunt anymore. My rule is that with all the youth you have in hand and all the quality already available in the first team, you should not buy a player whom you cant trust as a starter in a champions league final. That’s how I evaluate transfers.

    That’s why, if you can’t get a left back who is way better than Adriano, and you can’t get a CB who is a CL final starter, and you are not willing to get a striker with qualities you don’t have at all in your team, then better buy no one.

    Instead of a paid risk with lots of uncertainties, instead of buying players good enough against Betis but not an option against Real Madrid. Take the risk that is cheaper and bring a more certain long-term outcome. Use Mascherano-Bartra against Betis, and Use Montoya/Fontas/Muniesa against Rayo Valicano. This is enough depth for the Puyols to rest a bit before Real Madrid’s match.

    At the end of next season, do some clearance depend on performance, add this year’s budget to next years budget plus transfer income, and rejuvenate the squad properly rather than picking other teams leftovers or gambling on what will be at best “not that bad”.

    Maybe, more youth will bloom this way…

    • barca96
      June 20, 2012

      lot of extremely talented youth will feed the squad some of whom I have my bets on

      Who are these that you think will come into the 1st team?

      My rule is that with all the youth you have in hand and all the quality already available in the first team, you should not buy a player whom you cant trust as a starter in a champions league final. That’s how I evaluate transfers.

      I agree to a certain extent but the gap between e.g. Adriano and B team LB Muniesa? is too big. I would rather have Adriano & Alba slug it out for 1 position rather relying on Muniesa.

      Same goes for CB, Bartra is the B team option.

      I certainly would’ve given Bartra/Montoya some game time against lowly ranked team over the course of the season especially before a big match to give Puyol/Alves a rest but Pep is either stubborn or he really thinks that Bartra/Montoya isn’t even good enough to play against a low ranked team.

      Therefore we need to find players who does have experience and better than what we have from the B team. Obviously Pep & Tito doesn’t trust them enough.

      I gave Bartra & Montoya as an example because they are the closest to making it into the first team and they are the ones that I think should’ve had more minutes last season.

      • June 20, 2012

        Grimaldo (mainly) and Dongou are obvious bets. Ayala is also good, though I’m not sure uet between him and Gomez. Rafinha’s problem is finding the perfect role for him as he is yet in a grey area. Some other players can develop to good squad options to add depth.

        But then again, who would’ve guessed that Busquets will become the player he is and Bojan…oh Bojan…

        As for transfers, I see it from the long term perspective. First how much we will really REALLY invest this summer on transfers (without the acrobatic accounting moves). 35 M? If you spend 15 M on Alba I can tell you for sure you will not get a CB for 20 M who is more reliable than Busquets as a CB or less risky than starting Bartra. Especially when it is proven that any player who is not a Franco baresi, will crush under the demands of the fans who won’t tollerate anything less than perfection. Caceres? Chergrenski or so it is written? You name it.

        Let’s keep in mind we have three quality options already in Puyol, Mascherano, and Pique. And I won’t count out Abidal yet till it is official. Will a 20M buy do better as a CB than Alves? If not, then use Alves there in emergency situation and start Montoya on the right.

        I mentioned it long ago, and VDB pointed it out last week. Pedro can play as a fullback. Is he better than Alba? Try him.

        If the transfer budget is not big enough to buy quality now, and will not be enough next summer to buy quality (which is more concerning), this “buy with the money you have every summer” approach will start pulling the overall quality down gradually. We will need to buy big next summer. Remember this statement. And that need should be considered while playing the cards of this summer.

    • June 20, 2012

      You’ve got some of your facts wrong there, Ramzi.

      JDS, Bartra, Montoya, and Muniesa have all been officially promoted. They are no longer B team players, and there is no prospect of them playing for the B team next year. I don’t know why so many people seem to be confused by this. The only “we’ll see about it” is whether Tito will incorporate them into his squad or whether the club will loan them out or sell them. They will have to work hard in the preseason to impress Tito and then he will make his decisions.*

      I didn’t mention JDS in my post above, but I think I have said before that I expect him to be loaned out. There really isn’t much room in the squad for him right now, and our priority for the first team is defenders. A year or two away and then a reassessment of his progress would be the best thing. Sergi Roberto is a favourite of mine and I would like to see him in the first team eventually, but right now he seems happy enough to stay and be the senior anchor of the B team’s midfield, even though he could get first-team action somewhere else. I don’t know the terms of his contract, but he possibly has a promotion clause as well for next year? Or he is just very determined to make it at barça.

      *Perhaps people are confused by the difference between “promotion to the first team” and “member of the first-team squad”. The club is allowed to own senior players who do not make up part of the 23-man first-team squad. Hleb is a good example of that. He was only a member of Pep’s squad for one season, but the club itself didn’t get rid of him until this last January. These four players mentioned above were promoted according to the terms of their contracts, but all parties recognize that does not guarantee them to be in Tito’s squad. They must earn that.

      • June 20, 2012

        “You are promoted to first team, but we are not promising you will stay”. Thats for me is in the “We’ll see about it category”. Were they promoted because their contracts dictate so? Yes. And that’s the kind of contracts I opposed since Thiago signed one. But I didnt want to go that far back in time in the comment. And this is one of the reasons why the B-team door was closed behind them and now there is no choice but offloading them or using them in 1st team.

        Players were promoted to first team unofficially. They were told they will be promoted for next season. They celebrated it on twitter if you remember. I am sure they didnt celebrate getting loaned out. There should have been contract condition in the first place, and then no -forced- announcement at all afterward. During preseason, test them. Then sit with them and tell them who will stay with first team and who will be loaned out, and who will be needed in B-team. After all, this contract condition doesnt protect the club benefits by any mean. So it makes no sense.

        • June 20, 2012

          *There should have been NO contract condition in the first place

        • June 20, 2012

          It makes sense for the players in the event that the club decides to sell them. “Barcelona B youth player Muniesa” is not going to command as high a price on the transfer market as “Barcelona player Muniesa”. It’s just business. They all have hopes of making it to the Barça first team, but the reality is that they need to raise their profiles if those dreams don’t work out. They can’t all be Busquets’.

        • barca96
          June 20, 2012

          The only “we’ll see about it” is whether Tito will incorporate them into his squad or whether the club will loan them out or sell them

          That is definitely what the B players had in mind. They thought that by having that clause in the contract, they could walk right in.

          I’d say sell them with a buy back clause or loan them out.

          I understand why they wanted that to have a guarantee of promotion. They want to move on to bigger things but this is Barca.

          They need to have something special like Busi, Pedro, Thiago, Cuenca or have some patience like Iniesta. At the end of the day they have to look out after themselves so that is the reason why they want to have that clause. How many years do they want to be stuck in the B team and play in the Segunda like JDS?

          • barca96
            June 20, 2012

            Barcelona B youth player Muniesa” is not going to command as high a price on the transfer market as “Barcelona player Muniesa

            Yes. This benefits both the club and player.

        • June 20, 2012

          It makes sense for the players in the event that the club decides to sell them. “Barcelona B youth player Muniesa” is not going to command as high a price on the transfer market as “Barcelona player Muniesa”.

          First, even though market is crazy, but I dont think this virtual change in terminology can make any change on the player’s market value what so ever. In fact, a player in your reserve whom you might promote can bring you a better amount of money than when you get the same player to 1st team and decide to offload him straightforward. As you will be in a more exposed negotiation position.

          But if that is true, then it is actually against the player interest. If the team doesnt want to keep the player then it is BETTER for the player that his price will be cheaper. He’ll not get anything out of the price anyway and if the price is cheaper, he might get better signing on fee as the over all transfer cost for the buying team will still make sense.

          The reason why such contracts are made is Agents’ pressure. Agents do not want their players to be committed and prefer short contracts, the club prefer long term contracts, so there you get the compromise. A one that only fit the agent/player.

          Example: if JDS signs for one year and his contract expires this summer. (A) If Barcelona promise him first team football, why will he leave? (B) If not he will. Now if there is a condition that the club renew automatically the contract if they promote JDS. They promote him. If they want to keep him, you get the same outcome of (A). If they don’t want to keep him, he can still refuse to leave and then the club will either have to release him (paying all his salary for contract duration or reach a compromise to pay him some). At best, he will be generous to leave for free or move to another team straightforward.

          That’s why they club should stay unmoved by such pressure. When you accept such contracts for one player, others will demand same. Proven. Instead have a standard contract with no nonsense. Players who do not like it, can leave. They need the club more than the club needs them.

          • June 20, 2012

            That last paragraph is for spare-parts in case you needed some words or letters. Just forget it (where is the edit option?)

  3. June 20, 2012

    And not one comment about how pretty Geri looks with the dolphin??? 🙂

    • Barcaleya
      June 20, 2012

      Didn’t even recognize him first time I saw the photo.

      I’m used to him looking serious or scowling.

      Does look rather pretty with a smile.

    • June 20, 2012

      That dolphin looks adorable; her eyes are fixed toward the camera, not on “God Made Him” 😀

      Geri looks slightly chubby.

  4. Dave
    June 20, 2012

    As it stands the squad for next year
    Goalkeepers
    Valdes, Pinto

    Defenders
    Montoya, Alves
    Pique, Puyol, Mascherano,Bartra(?)
    Adriano, Abidal(?)

    Midfielders
    Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc, Thiago and Keita(?)

    Forwards
    Messi, Villa,Alexis, Pedro, Cuenca, Afellay and Tello(?)

    Some points to consider

    This season follows a major international tournament where the national players will be tired. Iniesta, Xavi, Busi and Pique are playing alot

    Xavi can now only play around 30 games a season, Puyol same.
    Villa and Afellay are only returning from injuries which leaves them vulnerable to further injuries.

    I hope Abidal returns as a healthy person first, as a footballer second. The club should make the necessary preparations incase the latter fails to happen.

    Some of the stress on Messi must be reduced. We’ve been fortunate so far.
    The squad was already small last season before injuries.

    Imo squad needs 3 players to alleviate the fatigue that will come from competing with a squad as physically fit as Madrid.

  5. Dani_el
    June 21, 2012

    I hope for a Javi Martinez deal. But it seems a really long shot. About Jordi Alba, if we pay under 13.5M (Adriano’s price I believe), it would be a pretty good deal. He is a Spanish NT starter, and he seems to understand well with Iniesta. Javi Martinez could cover both positions, making Masche our first CB.
    Looking forward to see Dongou on the B-team!

  6. Dani_el
    June 21, 2012

    If going for Javi Martinez doesnt work, MD well known for their connections for Rosell reports about Barça’s interest for:
    Étienne Capoue (he could be reconverted as Masche to cover the defense).

    Date of birth: 11.07.1988
    Age: 23
    Height: 1,89
    Nationality: France Guadeloupe
    Position: Midfield – Defensive Midfield
    Foot: right
    Market value: 12.000.000 €

    POSITION
    Main position: Defensive Midfield
    Secondary positions: Centre Back
    Central Midfield
    Contract until:
    30.06.2015

    http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/en/tienne-capoue/profil/spieler_63494.html

    • barca96
      June 21, 2012

      Thanks for all the info. You’ve done it with a few players now.

      I actually watched Capoue play 2 seasons ago when we were heavily rumored to be interested in him due to the imminent departure of YaYa. I was impressed after 3 matches but don’t really think that he will suit us as we’ve moved on from Yaya type of DM to a Busi type.

      What I do like is that I see a potential in transforming him into a CB like sMasch, Yaya and Busi.

      But the hybrid that we need is a LB/CB. Do you have anyone in mind? I prefer someone from France, of African heritage, similar to Abidal.

      • Dave
        June 21, 2012

        Sakho. And Abidal is far removed from his African heritage, he’s closer to the Martinique which is near where Capoue’s heritage is, in Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. But if you just mean black then yes I agree, an Abidal clone would be ideal. Rare though

      • Dani_el
        June 22, 2012

        Me too. If there’s an Abi clone out there, please sign him.
        We maybe going for an outlet on the left, combining with Iniesta, and providing width for Villa or Sanchez doing diagonals in. In that scenario we would have Adriano and Alba, with Montoya and Alves and Puyol even, prodivind cover on the right. If that’s the idea, we may convert a good DM as a centerback. Javi might to the trick. A good defense/Dm, and Alba, and I’m happy. That is if they don’t sell anyone else…They might loan Muniesa though.

    • Barcaleya
      June 22, 2012

      Thanks for sharing!

      It’s so nice to reminisce our fun moments. Those were truly wonderful goals 😀

      What a team!

  7. Chiu
    June 21, 2012

    Zinedine Zidane (Ballon d’Or 1998): “Everything Iniesta does impresses me. He could even play as goalkeeper. He’s magical.Iniesta has a big influence on Spain’s game. He reminds me of myself, but then paler.[cadena cope] from barcastuff

    Nice words from Zidane, one of my fav player too.

    • nzm
      June 21, 2012

      Except that Iniesta can’t do head-butts very well. More like chest-butts. 😀

    • June 21, 2012

      Lovely quote! I’ve always loved Zidane even if he is one of them. Brilliant player and a classy man. 😀

    • mom4
      June 21, 2012

      “He could even play as goalkeeper.’

      And with that, Victor and Pepe’s hopes of ever getting a meaningful cap are dashed.

      But would he be better at it than Leo?

    • barca96
      June 21, 2012

      He scored a similar goal when he was at Inter.
      One with his right and left foot each in each half of one match!
      Spectacular.

  8. providence
    June 21, 2012

    Some.one should tell him.that Ballon d’or is not won with 2 goals against Divided (Holland) team and 1 goal against a. 4- 1 beaten. Czech side. its funny how people want to exaggerrate. things.

  9. June 21, 2012

    ON-TOPIC: Tena (coach Olympic MEX): “Jonathan was on the list, but he asked not to go because he wants to do the pre-season at Barcelona.”

    Tena: “It was a surprise because Jonathan had said before he wanted to be at the Games, but we always respect the wish of the player.”

    (via @barcastuff)

    Interesting. So JDS voluntarily gives up going to the Olympics to play the preseason with Barça. He must be serious about wanting to impress Tito and get into the first team squad. We’ll see what happens.

    • Dani_el
      June 22, 2012

      He’s asking for a chance. I once read from Perarnau, that JDS resemble more a Xavi, and Thiago more of an Iniesta…Hope the dream comes true.

    • nzm
      June 22, 2012

      JDS is being sensible, and part of that is to be serious about his intentions. The time is now to secure his future if he wants to stay at the club. He doesn’t want to go the same way as Gio without showing what he’s got.

      Olympic games can come later. It’s a good move, and trust that it comes to something positive for him.

      He’s a good player – solid and dependable. Less showy than Thiago. He can read a game well too, but is not always backed up by his team-mates at Barca B. That’s what Perneau sees in him – that Xavi likeness. Hope that he also has Xavi’s vision!

      • June 22, 2012

        Yes, I’m actually impressed that he was mature enough to make this decision, especially since his BFF Thiago will likely be at the games for Spain. I’m sure he knows this is his last real chance to make the step up to the first team.

        I have never been quite as convinced about JDS as some. He obviously has oodles of talent, but I only rarely see that spark of brilliance that a Barcelona player needs. He got badly outplayed many times with the B team last season. On the other hand, when he has had the opportunity to play with the first team, he has stepped up and been very impressive (leaving aside Pep’s experiment with him as RB last preseason). He has also been consistently good with the Mexican NT (apart from when he was being naughty with hookers. Bad Jona!).

        Pep always seemed to have a lot of faith that he would live up to his potential, so I look forward to seeing what he can do under Tito.

  10. Dave
    June 22, 2012

    Edgar Ié and Agostinho Cá. Anyone tell me anything about these two the club is close to signing for the b team

    • June 22, 2012

      From my short research, Edgar is a center-back, and Agostinho is a midfielder. Both are 18 years old, from Guinea Bissau (former Portuguese colony), and currently playing for Sporting Lisbon.

      They are joining us as part of Jeffren’s direct transfer payment and Gael Etock’s indirect transfer from Chelsea to Sporting. Source: sport.es

      http://www.sport.es/es/noticias/barca/jeffren-etock-pagaran-traspaso-1956661

      I’ve been hearing that Barca is going around signing youngsters from other famous academies, e.g. recent issues with some kids from Espanyol and Valencia.

      • barca96
        June 23, 2012

        Not Espanyol. They vetoed the move because they hate us so much.

        So Etock is off to Lisbob huh? It looks like he is on a similar case to Gai.

        When will these youngsters learn? I understand that they want more money but career wise, slim chance of succeeding.

        • Anonymous_69
          June 23, 2012

          Etock left a while ago. He lost his place in the starting 11 to a younger and much more talented Dongou. He made the smart and logical decision. It would have been a mistake to stay.

  11. June 22, 2012

    So Messi, Victor, and possibly Pique are all pregnant having babies. There be something in the water in the Camp Nou…

      • June 22, 2012

        Pinto’s baby is gonna be full of swag 😀
        Yay, Barca Babies!!! The future is very bright 😉
        Watch out, world! Barca Domination ain’t going nowhere!

  12. Laurentiu88
    June 23, 2012

    so Laporta said he will run again for barca’s presidency and he has already made few statements as our newspapers report… just another great news for a new season with a new coach…

  13. June 23, 2012

    I’m really looking forward to watching Spain v. France.

    France has been underwhelming thus far. Now, we’re hearing that there are problems in the French camp with Nasri against the team, and the lack of leadership on the pitch, etc.

    Spain will have the usual problems, no width and lack vertical threats.

    Another thing I’ve noticed while watching Spain is their defensive dynamic, esp. the Pique-Ramos partnership. I’ve seen Ramos’s tackling a lot more, driving the ball from the back, and in general more active than Pique. Is there a reason? I heard Sid Lowe said that, theoretically Pique has defensive skills to lead the backline in the absence of Puyol, but there’s a resistance – conscious or not – to not allow that to happen on the pitch.

    I hope Cesc starts in place of Silva. Cesc has had a good tournament so far. He, Iniesta and the wide player (Navas or Pedro) will be the key for Spain to retain the trophy.

    • Ryan
      June 23, 2012

      I’m really excited too. If Puyol and Villa were there, I’d be much more confident of them avenging the 2006 WC loss. But this Spain isn’t looking all that assured… who knows, maybe Del Bosque’s super caution will prevail yet again.

      Cesc does really well as a super-sub for Spain, so I’m not too against him starting on the bench. He actually made the Euro08 team of the tournament as a sub! I think Cazorla’s long range ability would be nice to see, if we’re going for a slightly changed lineup.

      • June 23, 2012

        Cazorla would be a good choice too. For some reasons, I think he can dribble, which is a must for penetration.

        Alba, Arbeloa, Alonso and Torres are on yellow. Yellow cards still carry through to the semis, right? If that so and for selfish reason, I want all of them to get yellow cards but win, so I can see Pedro at left-back, Busquets as a lone DM, Martinez as a CB and Llorente as a striker. This is our only hope for a single pivot and see how Pedro does as a wing-back.

        • Ryan
          June 23, 2012

          If they get a second yellow this game, they’re out for the semis. But all cards are removed after this game; they don’t want people suspended for the final.

          I’m not sure about having Pedro as a full back, with the quality Portugal has on the wings. But at least we know Spain has quality replacements in case the other guys with yellows get carded tonight.

          The big thing about having Cazorla play is that he offers a threat outside the box. That’s how Germany finally broke down the Greek defense late in the first half. And I’d love to see him take Spain’s direct free kicks. 🙂

    • Dave
      June 23, 2012

      Ramos played well tonight but is still a liability in my eyes. He should be allowed to lead. He’s too thick for one thing and too rash Balotelli shrugged him off like a rag doll vs Italy

  14. barca96
    June 23, 2012

    Please Xani, please pick up a yellow card.

  15. June 23, 2012

    Abidal did not travel to see today’s game, btw, on doctor’s advice. he will watch the game at home.

    Hope he’s doing OK. 🙁

  16. Ryan
    June 23, 2012

    No Nasri or Torres on the field, but Cesc gets the start! I don’t either team will have someone in the opponent’s box for much of the game.

  17. Ryan
    June 23, 2012

    France giving acres of space to Arbeloa because they know he can’t do anything with it… but who cares, Alonso scores!!

    • Ryan
      June 23, 2012

      And he a pretty good impact right off, nearly assisting Torres for a goal. 🙂

    • Ryan
      June 23, 2012

      To paraphrase Kxevin, you can’t teach pace. Both goals were thanks to Spain’s quick players, Alba and Pedro. So glad to see Pedro get a chance and do well!

      • Blau-Grenade
        June 23, 2012

        That was a nice step over skill from Pedro. I have seen him do the move a few times. Most Spanish defenders know about that move.

        The blogger ‘NZM’ already called for Pedro’s inclusion several times. I can clearly see why now.

        • nzm
          June 24, 2012

          What I like about Pedro is his “aliveness” and his movement, and he’s not afraid to get into the penalty box and hustle. That’s why the penalty came.

          Silva does not do that – not many of Spain’s players do. By the time Torres makes it into the box with a ball at his feet that he’s not able to fully control, there are 3 players around him to close him down. Silva sits too far out on the right, occupying Arbeloa’s space.

          Our man Xavi is just not in form right now. His passes are not accurate enough and he’s just not able to put through those defence-cutting passes that we’re used to seeing from him.

          Last night, I would have taken off Xavi for Cazorla, Silva for Pedro and brought in Cesc off the bench for a starting Negredo (Still lamenting that Soldado missed out over Negredo though.) But then Del Bosque wouldn’t be so bold!

  18. Dave
    June 23, 2012

    Well done Spain. Xavi and Iniesta looked pretty tired I thought.

    How Torres continues to be ahead of Llorente is shocking.

    Pedro did very well and made Spain alot more vertical.

    And now for Les Bleus. Laurent Blanc will be critised for not starting Nasri but to be fair he didn’t set the world alight when he came on.

    Some of the French players are an utter disgrace and should not be allowed to wear the jersey. Malouda, Ribery, Evra, Nasri should be booted out pronto. Too troublesome.

    Blanc was too forgiving after everything that happened in South Africa. The French public dont even like this team. They lack character and pride for their country

    Along with the Dutch they have been a circus.

    • barca96
      June 23, 2012

      Was Evra even playing? I agree with your criticism on Malouda though. Pretty useless.

      Ribery and Nasri at least tried.

        • Dave
          June 24, 2012

          I know he didn’t play but he should be kicked out of the squad.
          Nasri caused nothing but disharmony in this tournament. Ribery has long been a poisonous influence. Arguably Ribery is the one to keep, but its a balancing act, do you put up with ego etc just for the sake of the team.

    • Messiah10
      June 24, 2012

      I’ll have to disagree with you about Torres. He’s played really well in the Euro’s. He makes fantastic runs to get behind the wall that most Spanish players don’t make. Pedro being an exemption. As mentioned earlier, by nzm, I think, when Torres has received the ball in the box or around the box, he’s been double marked and even tripled marked. No one’s made any runs to help him out or even attempt to find space he so he can distribute the ball. Granted, a lot of the time he receives the ball are on his runs and no one’s up field to help out, but I don’t see anyone making an effort to move up field after he has it.

      • June 24, 2012

        The main problem with Torres, as I see it, is that he needs a proper winger to set up crosses for him. He should be playing with Pedro or Navas, not Silva. When he receives passes from the midfield it takes him too long to control the ball and he gets shut down. If they passed to Pedro instead, Torres would have that extra time to be ready for the ball when it comes.

        Just my view from the sidelines, anyway.

      • nzm
        June 24, 2012

        We were commenting on this phenomenon tonight, while watching the wastes of space that are Balotelli and Carroll.

        There seems to be this propensity for teams to buy these “specialist players” like the above, and we also identified Torres, Ibrahimovic, Llorente and Silva as being part of this group.

        None of them are playmakers, and they’re all virtually useless at contolling a ball to dribble it. They just can’t do it.

        They require the “perfect ball” to land at their feet to put away on the first touch, or the breakaway ball where they only have the GK and perhaps only 1 defender between them and the goal.

        If you have someone in the team like this, you have to play to their strengths. Italy wasn’t achieving that with Balotelli, and neither was England with Carroll.

        I haven’t been impressed by any of the matches in this Euro competition. I believe that there are too many very tired players after a long club season.

        Pleased that Italy won tonight. They were the only side actually playing football, so they deserved to go through.

        Pirlo is Italy’s Puyol – he was the only man on that pitch playing with heart and for his country. 🙂

        • Messiah10
          June 25, 2012

          Pirlo is the man. He looks like he’s 50 years old! His penalty shot shows he has ice water running through his veins. What a deft chip! Took a lot of steel to do that. I could not keep the grin off my face when it went in. Unbelievable.

  19. providence
    June 23, 2012

    sorry Mr Kxevin. Big boss better luck next time. you guys hv sat on our happiness for too long.

    Alba!!!!!

  20. barca96
    June 24, 2012

    A nice comment from odn1 over at Guardian;

    1- Spain have had more shots on target, more offsides, more corners, and equal number of shots off target and have scored 1 fewer goal than excitement machine Germany, they have also had more shots on and off target combined, more goals, more offsides and 2 fewer corners than next opponents Portugal

    2- Xavi Hernandez has now reached the semi finals of every single cup competition for Barcelona and Spain (Copa del Rey, Champions League, World Cup, European Championships, Confederations Cup, FIFA Club World Cup) since 2007 except for 1. The 2009-2010 Copa del Rey. That makes 16 cup competitions out of 17 that he has made the semi finals of in the past 5 years. Staggering Statistic. Surely amongst the greatest midfielders of all time

    • Ryan
      June 24, 2012

      But boy did you have to wade through a lot of “Spain is boring” comments to get to that one!

      • Messiah10
        June 24, 2012

        Ryan, it’s hilarious isn’t it? The new “sexy” speech is that Spain & Barca are “anti-football” b/c they make other teams play “anti-football” by parking the bus! It’s insane how some people justify their club & country’s play. I also love the comments that say Messi wouldn’t do well in the PL or that if he didn’t have Xavi & Iniesta he’d score half as much, only to have a intelligent person comment that Xavi & Iniesta only assisted Messi 5 times the whole season. It’s amazing how lazy people are. They read something and believe it, instead of researching to make sure it’s true.

        • Ryan
          June 24, 2012

          Yeah, they’re either repeating trite observations or just basing their ideas off one game years ago. I really don’t think the English will ever forget or forgive Busi’s theatrics vs. Inter, although you never hear them talk about Drogba’s dives!

  21. Messiah10
    June 24, 2012

    Thoughts on England vs Italia? Could be a very boring game, but I think Italy will take it to England. If they do, England will be able to counter. I hope England play Ox on the wing to provide some pace in the game. However, I’m sure Hodge will play safe and start Milner instead to lumber down the flanks and play defensively!

    • Ryan
      June 24, 2012

      Well, with Balotelli starting, there’s always the chance for fireworks.

      I think Pirlo will be too much for the English and give them a comfortable lead. But with the pace England has on the wings, who knows? Italy’s defense looked bad coping with Torres’ runs.

      • Jim
        June 24, 2012

        Can someone please rid me of this overhyped English team and their media? That is all . . .

        • June 24, 2012

          Oh, Jim! To quote Irina Shayke (CR’s girlfriend), “Being a hater is not a cute look. Learn to love” 😀

  22. Ryan
    June 24, 2012

    The game so far is pretty open; imagine that!

    • June 24, 2012

      I thought Italy and England were good at defending.

      This game is “exciting” and certainly lacks “control” 😉

    • June 24, 2012

      I think Chelsea players brought Lady Luck with them to Poland and Ukraine 🙁

      • Ryan
        June 24, 2012

        It does seem that way for the first hour…

      • Jim
        June 24, 2012

        I think we all know how this is going to end 🙁

      • Helge
        June 24, 2012

        After 80 min, it was 23(14)-6(2) attempts(on target).

        Guess which team is Italy, which team is playing the Chelsea blueprint…?
        It already reminds me a bit of the last 3 CL matches with Chelseaa *cough*

  23. Ryan
    June 24, 2012

    Luck runs out for England. Italy go to the semis!

    • June 24, 2012

      That was a boring game tbh. Not my cup of tea. Italy deserved to win b/c they were better, and England didn’t have technical players aside from Rooney on that pitch. But Italy was too vertical. When they got the ball, the immediate action was driving the ball up the pitch and shoot. No patience. If Spain was too horizontal, Italy was too vertical.

      …and contrary to popular opinion, I think Pirlo’s hair is overrated; too dry, needs more volume 😉

      • nzm
        June 24, 2012

        ha – if Pirlo had more curls, he’d be Puyol’s twin.

        They play with the same intensity and heart!

        • mom4
          June 24, 2012

          It was worth watching the game just for his PK.

        • Blau-Grenade
          June 25, 2012

          Pirlo was what made watching the match worth it. He always had so much time and space on the ball. It was simply a joy.

      • Ryan
        June 24, 2012

        I suppose if I were a fan of either team, I’d at least have been nervous. That can make it exciting, if still frustrating to watch.

        I was hoping to see some more Pirlo expertise at free kicks, but it seems that he has to compete with Balotelli for the direct ones! You’d think his great FK in the second round would be enough reason to give him more attempts at recreating another goal like that.

      • Barcaleya
        June 25, 2012

        I dare anyone who criticize Spain for being boring to tell me that that Italy- England game was exciting (except for a 5 min stretch when Hart saved a great long-range shot, then Buffon also saved from close-range on the other end).

        If it weren’t for the pleasure of watching Pirlo who was exceptional all 120 mins, I would have fallen asleep.

        England did absolutely nothing with the ball. They defended with their lives so credit for that. But standing in the field purely to throw your body in the way of the ball is not football to me.

        And Italy was wasteful. I admired Pirlo for creating chance after chance for his team mates, who wasted every single one of them, and not get frustrated. Even had the gall to do that Panenka. The total height of cool.

        And Nooooooo – his hair is NOT overhyped.

        He has rockstar hair!!! The layers. The fringes. That curl and flip just the right way here and there. 21st century rockstar hair combined with the sombre look of a 16th century monk. I see him totally at home in friar robes and hood.

        • June 25, 2012

          Barcaleya, if you look closely at his hair, you’ll see it’s a little flat. The layers are ok, but those ones sticking out near his neck don’t suit the whole look. You can tell I was bored yesterday b/c midway through I was googling Pirlo’s hair style instead of paying close attention to the game 😀

          But he’s an incredible player, no doubt. Very elegant, almost ballerina-like. Brian Phillips wrote this piece 5 years ago, and it still applies today.

          http://www.runofplay.com/2007/11/27/the-tuesday-portrait-andrea-pirlo/

          You can substitute the name Pirlo for Ozil, Xavi or Iniesta, and it perfectly describes them as well.

          • Barcaleya
            June 25, 2012

            Hullo! But it’s actuallt those wisps sticking from the neck area that I like! Haha. I just totally love his hair style so nevermind me 😀

            Yeah, I’ve read that article. Good one! He is truly, truly elegant. And he also carries himself in a very regal manner, which I find very sexy. It’s that combination of utter skill and confidence but in a silent, subtle way. I love that he evokes menace even without words or dirty looks. You just know he can kill you with a pass.

            And did you see the way he kept the balls? He would just stand square over it…and somehow…ball kept with him. Even when the ball seems open to be kicked, the England players beside him, who would normally kick anything in their paths, couldnt/wouldn’t do so. Rather amazing.

            I don’t think Ozil has reached this level. Getting there, but no.

            Xavi and Iniesta, yes.

  24. Helge
    June 24, 2012

    I would never have thought that I would ever congratulate Italia, but what a well deserved victory. The Chelsea blueprint has failed, Grazie Mille, Italia! 🙂

    • June 24, 2012

      Ha! I never cheer for Italy either, but I was desperate for them to win today. By far the better team, should have won by 3 goals or more. I admit the English defense was excellent, but their offense had NO shots on goal in extra time. None. Horrible.

      At HT I said to my roommate that it would go to penalties and the smart money would be on Buffon. He has 10+ years of experience over Hart and balls of steel.

      I’m happy with the final four, even Portugal–I hate them but they took their chances and deserve their place.

    • June 24, 2012

      Hahahahaha!!! Using “Duncan Castles Logic,” Pinto> Pirlo => Pinto is Euro 2012 Man of the Tournament => Pinto deserves the Ballon D’Or?

      I love reading some people’s reactions after each knock-out game.
      Day 1: Portugal wins, this is CR’s Euro. Day 2: Germany wins, this is Ozil’s Euro. Day 3: Spain wins, Spain is boring but Iniesta is man of the tournament. Day 4: Italy wins, Pirlo for Ballon D’Or.

      I’m not hating on these players; they are wonderfully gifted but I’m having a laugh at us all 😀

      …and speaking of talented players, Happy Birthday, Leo Messi! For me, he is a genius, the best!

      p.s. I swear Ryan, I’m not stalking every comment of yours 😉

      • June 24, 2012

        Mehhh…I take one thing back, I’m don’t like CR (too much hair gel, self-tanning and stinky attitude on the pitch).

        • olbucky
          June 25, 2012

          The one good thing about learning last week that spray tanning may cause cancer is that thong boy is now at an increased risk.

      • hansh
        June 24, 2012

        Oh man, what was that whole deal with Duncan Castles? I remember it was insane to the point of hilarity, but I can’t for the life of me remember what topic he was writing about…

        • June 25, 2012

          He was the guy who somehow found a way to connect UEFA, UNICEF, Ref and Barca together.

          • hansh
            June 25, 2012

            But the connections are obvious! Barca has UNICEF on their shirts, referees at their games, and they are part of UEFA! Conspiracy!!

      • Ryan
        June 24, 2012

        Haha, no worries, Messifan! I always check out BFB during football matches, so it’s nice that it isn’t just me posting things!

        It is interesting that each semifinalist seems to have a main man pulling his team forward. I wonder how it works out with 3 being midfielders and one being a winger/striker/whatever you call TB.

    • June 25, 2012

      Ye gods, that’s hilarious. Thank you so much for sharing. I can’t stop laughing, though.

  25. providence
    June 25, 2012

    People.didn’t wish leo happy birthday here…lol. I personally think there should have been a Post for.King Leo on his birthday….

    “EVeN Messi..” thong boy. the guy knows his compartriot is the best in the world. Penaldo

    • June 25, 2012

      Yeah, we probably should have made a post, but there were two big “Messi” posts not long ago, so I guess no one really had anything additional to say.

  26. hammeronmessi
    June 25, 2012

    hey jnice.

    long time ,no see?
    u good,me good

    where u been?

  27. June 25, 2012

    Grrrr…This Alba deal is getting too tedious. Barca really likes to drag things and I wish they would stop yapping to the press.

    • Messiah10
      June 25, 2012

      I hope it does drag out and kills the deal. I seriously don’t want him and don’t think he’s a game changer. He’ll add depth to the roster but I don’t see him starting over Adriano. Adriano is better with the ball and I believe a couple of inches taller. I don’t think Alba is terrible, but he hasn’t impressed me much over the Euro’s. He seemed absent in the final games of the season for Valencia. Maybe it’s just fatigue, but that will translate to this season because of the Euro’s. If we could pick him up for $10-15 million then do it. Any more than that and I’d kill the deal.

      • barca96
        June 25, 2012

        Better to have Alba (depth) than no back up to LB at all. Don’t tell me that you prefer Fontas at LB eh? Hehe

  28. June 25, 2012

    Spare a moment for the family and loved ones of Miki Roque, who lost his battle with pelvic cancer, at age 25. This tragic, tragic season that seems hell-bent to teach us that his game is precious little more THAN a game, continues apace.

    • June 25, 2012

      23, actually. Not that it makes a difference, but he was just two weeks shy of his 24th birthday.

      Our very own Carles Puyol had been covering the expense of his treatment.

        • Barcaleya
          June 25, 2012

          This saddens me so much.

          What must our Captain be feeling? He must be so shattered.

          DEP, Miki.

  29. June 25, 2012

    In other news, we might smack Dani Alves on the wrist for playing in the Messi & Friends game, without medical clearance from the club.

    –Keita, even though he didn’t meet the required number of minutes and could have left on a free, has told the club that as far as he is concerned, they should act as though he did meet that requirement. That man exudes class.

    –We nabbed a couple of youth players from Valencia, who say it won’t affect the Alba deal. Club presidents, including RoSELL, always snuffle indignantly when another club comes in and grabs some talented kids. But everyone does it.

  30. June 25, 2012

    Toni Freixa presser going on right now. Sampdoria will be the Gamper opponent this year, on 20 August.

    • June 25, 2012

      No ticket price hikes, either. Imagine that! The club’s Catalan press stream must be funky, as I can’t believe they wouldn’t hike prices.

      –Two additional friendlies on the 8th and 11th of August. Freixa says opponents TBD, but we know that PSG is in Paris on the 8th.

      • June 25, 2012

        But ’tis true, no hikes for tickets or parking passes for this season.

        • June 25, 2012

          No word about whether they have revamped the effing official site so the server doesn’t crash as every Soci on the planet tries to log in to get match tickets on the first day of member sales.

          • June 25, 2012

            Freixa also called BS on the press “reports” that the club was considering sanctioning Alves for playing in the Messi friendly without medical clearance.

        • June 25, 2012

          Yes, great news! I guess I should start planning my Camp Nou visit now 🙂

    • Messiah10
      June 25, 2012

      Thanks for that. Even better than that blog is the Neymar one linked at the bottom. The blogger advocating the need for Neymar to move on. Hey Neymar! Barca’s waiting. Come and bring your new daddy skillz with you. The Barca nursery will be full and one more won’t hurt!

    • olbucky
      June 25, 2012

      That was a great piece, thanks for posting. The English just don’t get it and hiring Roy Hodgson wasn’t the answer. The rationale was maybe we will get lucky and go on a defensive run and that was the play. And the expectations of the English fans are so low it’s really sad. They are just complacent to sit back and play that way, they’ve just come to expect it. The rest of the world has just left English football in the dust and the gap is widening. It’s a shame because the are some good players that could be set loose and can play an up tempo game but the old guard just won’t do it. English Football is like the debt crisis, you wonder what it will take to fix it?? The solution seems obvious but it’s hard to change direction when you’ve been doing something a certain way for a long time.

      • Messiah10
        June 27, 2012

        olbucky,

        Have to disagree. England DON’T have the players to play any other way. Do you honestly think Hodge would set up like that if he had the players to attack? When you watch a English player receive the ball it’s as if it’s his enemy and he wants to kick it away asap. Watching other nations players receiving the ball is like watching them receive a “friend”. They aren’t afraid of it. They can protect it and use it to advance. England don’t have that. Jack Wilshere could potentially be that player, but he was injured. Expectations were low b/c the English fans knew what they would get. That’s why the blogger says he’s relieved. Most fans don’t want to see their team play parked in front of goal. Until the English start developing the futsal technique that other countries have they’ll continue to be overrun in the midfield. Gerrad & Parker are good players, but at their age they don’t have the stamina to play a 4-4-2 and constantly close down an extra midfielder 4 straight games. The English have made strides to change. They just finished their National Football Center and are trying to change the coaching philosophies at youth level. It just takes time. Ask Germany

    • Ryan
      June 25, 2012

      Good to hear folks from England being rational about their NT squad. They actually have some decent defenders, maybe with Wilshere back for WC14 and some actual verve they can put in a better effort than they usually do. I have a feeling Brazil ’14 is going to be the Messi Show though, so what other teams do is pretty inconsequential! 🙂

    • caosanping
      June 26, 2012

      British knew exactly what their NT’s shortcomings were and they were looking forward to a miracle like Chelsea. But if a miracle repeats twice in short time, it wouldn’t have been called a miracle. So it didn’t happen to England.

  31. K_legit in Oz
    June 26, 2012

    Holy Buzzkill Batman, the Drogba rumours are back!

  32. olbucky
    June 26, 2012

    Below are three videos on Messi. I havent watched the bottom two yet but the first one was a 45 minute soecial on Messi from childhood to 24 and was incredible. Lots of childhood video. Interviews with everybody. Messi, all, the players, the whole world of soccer praising Messi. Absolutely phenomenal video!!!! Graham Hunter is in it quite a bit as well. A must see for any Cule.

    http://www.barcablog.com/2012/06/lionel-messi-happy-25th-birthday-top-3.html

    • Barcaleya
      June 26, 2012

      Ohmygoodness – it is indeed horrifying.

    • Clouseau
      June 27, 2012

      Haha,well he obv. knows how to keep in touch with the rythm of the music.That band are Localheroes of his Hometown “Köln”.

      I for one can’t wait to see his first after match Interviews in English 🙂

    • Barcaleya
      June 26, 2012

      This whole thing has left me in tears.

      The sad, sad death of a young, talented, likeable fellow.

      The kindness of people like Puyol, and institution like Barca in allowing him to train with them, treating him as one of their own, being Catalan.

      Gives one perspective on so many things.

  33. June 26, 2012

    According to Rosell, Barca has an annual transfer budget of 40 mil. euros. Is this good or bad? J. Mart., Hummels and other top class CBs won’t come cheap. That means the team might have to settle for a not-well-known CB. Euro 2012 sort of delays transfer activities, but I wish the club would do their business a bit soon after the tournament is over, so new signings can integrate during pre-season. And pre-season starts mid-July. So soon 🙂

    • nzm
      June 26, 2012

      I’m not sure why this chat of Hummels continues.

      Before he left for the Euros, Hummels signed an extension with BVB until 2017.

      Even if he was on the club’s radar – he ain’t coming. As much as I would also have loved him to be a Barca player.

      • June 26, 2012

        Wow! He looks stunning in that picture. Ok, no Hummels…how about David Luiz?…jk 😛

        Serious notes: we have Bartra, Fontas and Muniesa; maybe one of them will shine next season, similar to what Pique did in his first year with us.

        But Bartra and Muniesa might go to the Olympics and our Euro participants most likely won’t start pre-season with the team. I’m not sure how I feel about the lack of a complete squad for the start of pre-season. On top of that, the team will play 7 or 8 games in one month more or less, before the official start of La Liga. And we don’t know liga schedules yet, do we? :/

      • Clouseau
        June 27, 2012

        This.If only we had signed him instead of Chiggy,Henrique..^^
        But nevermind.

        Interesting how quickly he – not specifically here on BFB – won on popularity among female Cules. Of course only for “football reasons” 😉

  34. barca96
    June 26, 2012

    Why has it been so quiet here for the past few weeks?

    Kxevin, do a match review with low ratings!

    • nzm
      June 27, 2012

      There’s been little to report on lately, with the Euros taking up most of the attention.

      Plus, with the silly season and Euros, there’d be less chance of readers actually appreciating any articles with serious content right now. The comments sections quickly go off-topic with people wanting to get their own news and viewpoints across, without any real reference to the article contents!

      Good indepth articles take a long time to write. 😀

      • barca96
        June 27, 2012

        Yeah it would be a pity for the author to have the commentors commenting on the game instead.

        Or why not a match comments post?

        • nzm
          June 27, 2012

          That’s basically what these posts are, that are going up. Nothing too complicated so that the Euros can be discussed in the comments.

          They are craftily disguised match comments posts. 😀

  35. Dani_el
    June 27, 2012

    First Rosell presser I liked. Here some of his quotes:

    About the season: “excellent, thrilling and a record season”.
    About Pep: “Gracies Pep, and considering he moved up from being
    a recogepelotas (a ball boy in campnou), I would vote for him for
    president of Barça”.
    About everything else: “We are all with Tito”. “We love Abi”. “First time since I have memory of being in camp nou, I saw the crowd cheering the team, despite our loss with Chelsea”. “We ended this cycle with 17 titles, and this season with 40 millions of benefits”.”We will defend the club with facts, not with words”.
    “We will not allow our coach’s agressor to walk free. If we didn’t react last season, it is because of an agreement in all the club, including the dressing room” (Here it seems that Pep asked Rosell to keep a low profile, to keep the teams concentration high maybe).
    “Camp nou’s remodelation is not viable economically yet. But we have to start thinking about doing something, with the approval of the socis” (He may call a referendum for that purpose.
    About Laporta: “It takes two to start a fight, and I don’t want to”.

    • barca96
      June 27, 2012

      And it finally puts those accusations (that Rosell was nowhere to be found when he was supposed to be vocal during the many accusations to the team last season) to bed.

      I wonder why Rosell never gets the benefit of the doubt to the Cules here.

      • nzm
        June 27, 2012

        Nuh uh.

        He doesn’t say that the club kept quiet because of a request from the dressing room – he says that the whole club, including the dressing room, agreed to keep quiet.

        From that, you cannot determine from which direction the edict came – from top down, or from the dressing room.

        Judging from some of the comments made by individual players in the days and weeks after the event, I doubt that the whole dressing room was exactly thrilled about the lack of official response.

      • June 27, 2012

        Why should he get the benefit of the doubt? Nobody should.

        –He called the Ibrahimovic transfer the worst in the club’s history. I’d rate Overmars pretty highly in that department. His effort to slag Laporta also has Guardiola as collateral damage, since he asked for the player.

        –He bragged about record profits, but they were achieved by selling something of immense value (for less than he could have). Any fool could have done that.

        –As for his “it takes two to start a fight” comment, he has already started it. To snuffle indignantly and take the moral high ground at this point is hypocritical. Hardly anything is known about the court case that he instigated against Laporta is going, but given that Laporta is crowing about running for president again, I’d guess it isn’t going well for the Rosell forces. That, and the sudden revelation that Laporta boondoggled the club into paying for part of his home’s renovation, makes you think they need to get some new dirt going. Or not. Who knows?

        –He says we won’t allow our coach’s aggressor to walk free. If that isn’t defending with words, what is? There is nothing we can do except get indignant. It’s up to the RFEF to decide what, if any sanctions will come down. So he can stand before a podium and huff and puff, but it’s pretty pointless.

        –I also thought the notation that we saved 12m in bonuses by not winning Liga and Champions League struck the wrong chord with many who heard or read those words.

        His presser was all platitudes and nonsense. He could just as easily have not had it. And I’m told that in the FCB Museu, an exhibit about the year of six trophies has pictures of Rosell, but not Laporta. Go figure.

        I know that many think I don’t have any respect or love for Rosell, and they’re right. But it isn’t groundless. Does this mean I want Laporta to be president again? No. Everybody has their own opinion. For me, Rosell ain’t my cuppa.

    • June 27, 2012

      “Duncan Castles” and “reporting” should never be used in the same sentence. “Wildly speculating” would be more appropriate.

      • barca96
        June 27, 2012

        And this piece seems to have been written before the league has even ended.

        Recycled news.

    • Ryan
      June 27, 2012

      BS.com is reporting that Mario Mandzukic is going to Bayern. It’d be nice to hear someone going to us! A defender, perhaps? 🙂

  36. mom4
    June 27, 2012

    Spain’s right side worries me v Portugal.
    Arbeloa won’t be able to cope v CR. Busi and Pique will be busy putting out his fires.
    Come to think of it, Alba won’t be going forward too often because of Nani.
    It’s Pedro time.

    Oh dear, one of the neighbors is blasting country music. Must go close windows pronto.

    • Ryan
      June 27, 2012

      It really depends how Spain can contain TB and control the midfield. That friendly loss to Portugal where they scored 4 goals was an absolute disaster, but the 1-0 win was pretty measured, although pretty close. Any of Alba’s runs forward will mean more risk, but it’s not like Arbeloa will be surging forward.

      The main thing I’m worried about is pace. Only Alba in the Spain starting 11 has any, yet Portugal seems to have speedy players throughout the front line.

      • mom4
        June 27, 2012

        Busi’s gonna be a busy boy.

        Sorry, I could say in Pep we trust.
        Don’t have the same feelings about VdB.
        I fear he will start the usuals and Spain will have no pace, no width, and no tracking back. I’d feel more confident of Ramos containing CR on the right if he were to play as RB (Javi Martinez at CB). But if Arbeloa plays, and you know he will, I’d love to see Pedro as RW so he can track back and help. Fairly confident of Alba on Nani. You’re right, must control the midfield.

    • Blau-Grenade
      June 27, 2012

      I am not worried about Spanish defence against Ronald. Mainly because of the double pivot of Busi and Alonso that Spain play. He will always two if not three people who know his game very very well, marking him all the time. He would first have to go through Busi and Alonso, to get tot the back line. Then he would have to beat Pique and/or Sergio Ramos, and finally Casillas.

  37. mom4
    June 27, 2012

    In other new, seems UEFA can’t be bothered with a minute of silence for Miki. Classless.

  38. nzm
    June 27, 2012

    Warning: Link is NSFW and contains nudity.

    How some English fans tried to distract the Italians during the penalty kicks: A Prick Behind the Goal

    Apparently the guy is a millionaire and lives next door to John Terry. Says it all, really.

    • barca96
      June 27, 2012

      I saw that too. How is that even allowed by the security is beyond me.

      I remember in Euro 2000 after Jaap Stam did a-Ramos in the PK shoot out. We (Dutch) joked that some Italian behind the goal was giving J. Stam the middle finger and he decided to aim that fan instead of the goal.

  39. barca96
    June 27, 2012

    Didn’t Ramos accumulate 2 yellow cards?
    One in the group match and one in the QF?
    So by right he should be suspended for this match right?
    They are in a big trouble if it’s really the case.

    Spain has to treat this match like a Barca vs. Madrid match.
    Just cut the supply to Ronaldo and everything will be fine.
    Busquets will take care of him if Arbeloa needs help which he clearly needs.

    That said, before Ronaldo started scoring they did have others to do the job for him.

  40. June 27, 2012

    According to reports via @barcastuff, Negredo is rumored to start. *Massive Keita face* I did not see that coming, and what does Llorente have to do to get a start????

      • June 27, 2012

        From Sid Lowe, on the Twitters:

        What does Negredo give you? Combination, power, technique, closing down of centre-backs, aggression, finishing.

        • Ryan
          June 27, 2012

          I’d prefer Llorente for those attributes. But at least it isn’t Torres!

      • June 27, 2012

        I know. Maybe, VdB is a troll in disguise 🙂
        It will be interesting to see how Pique deals with CR b/c Pique plays on the right side. I’m hoping Geri will have a good game. So far, he’s been meh for me. Or perhaps Ramos will switch with Pique?

    • nzm
      June 27, 2012

      In that case, I hope that he’s playing 2 genuine wingers who can support Negredo in the middle, but I suppose that we’ll see Iniesta on the left wing again.

      • mom4
        June 27, 2012

        Iker
        Arbeloa, Pique, Ramos, Alba
        Busi, Alonso, Xavi
        Silva, Negredo, Ini
        .
        .
        .
        *******sigh********

        Because the semi-finals is a great time to experiment.

        • June 27, 2012

          Think positive, Mom4. You could potentially see plenty of Iker’s face and Arbeloa acting like a fool 🙂 Win-Win?

        • Helge
          June 27, 2012

          I don’t think they’ll play a 4-3-3

          This will be a more clear 4-2-3-1 than it has been with Cesc in the line-up.

          I honestly dislike Negredo and never understood how on earth he was even included in the 23 man squad. Soldado where?!?
          Llorente is twice as good as Negredo, in EVERY aspect of the game.
          Coaching-wise, Loew and Prandelli have convinced me a lot more than VdB this Euro. VdB’s choice of line-up, subtitutions (and timing of them) has always been quite disappointing to me.

  41. olbucky
    June 27, 2012

    VDB not so sure on the Negredo move. Would have much rather seen Torres or Cesc. I would feel more comfortable with Javi Martinez in Arbeola’s spot to cover Ronaldo. VDB, the world is watching today, make the right moves!

    • Ryan
      June 27, 2012

      Has Martinez ever played as a full back though? Torres has been pretty bad against parked buses, so it makes sense that he wants to try something different.

      • mom4
        June 27, 2012

        Maybe olbucky meant Javi starts instead of Arbeloa, plays CB, and Teh Ramos plays RB?

        • olbucky
          June 27, 2012

          Javi is so athletic, I just want him to help in defense. I’m afraid that Arbeloa is gonna get eaten alive on the right side today and it could be our downfall.

    • nzm
      June 27, 2012

      Put a newbie into the RB role against CR in a Euro semifinal?

      Not gonna happen. Especially with the bad blood between Javi and CR. Testosterone will rule any common sense.

      • Messiah10
        June 27, 2012

        I think VDB will take off Cesc or Silva and put on Pedro come 60 min mark if 1st half proves unproductive. I think adding Negredo or any striker will allow Spain to get behind the center backs and make them defend and drop deeper. Therefore, allowing Iniesta to do his thing!!!

        • mom4
          June 27, 2012

          Messiah10 wins the optimism award.
          Are you sure you’re a cule? I thought optimism wasn’t allowed. 🙂

  42. Messiah10
    June 27, 2012

    I wonder if Loew will keep Reus in the line-up instead of Muller. I would. I’m a big fan. He had a stellar game vs Greece and Muller’s been off form and injured most of the season for Bayern. Gomez should get the nod ahead of Grandpa Klose.

  43. mom4
    June 27, 2012

    CR signing anthem. o_0

    Respect messages. Listen up fans at the stadium.

  44. mom4
    June 27, 2012

    That’s some bench they just listed. Just sayin’.

  45. culegirl3
    June 27, 2012

    Is it me or is Spain looking a bit off in this match?

  46. Ryan
    June 27, 2012

    How many great plays has Silva killed? 3 so far?

  47. Blau-Grenade
    June 27, 2012

    Firstly, all of the Spanish players look tired.

    Negredo has no off the ball movement at all. It is like Spain has been playing with one less player.

    Silva is not supporting Arbeloa’s forward runs. Arbeloa keeps getting stranded when he goes forward.

    • Blau-Grenade
      June 27, 2012

      This Spanish side can rip the Portugese defence apart with Torres, mainly because they are pressing with 4 players up front. There is so much space between the lines, exactly where Messi likes to play. If Torres runs at the defenders they are dead meat.

      This game needs Torres and Navas at the current moment the way the game has lined up.

  48. Jim
    June 27, 2012

    for me, Negredo off and Torres on – at least he moves. Silva off and Pedro on. We need some pace. I’d also have been tempted to move Ramos to right back but after a booking that’s not a good idea.

  49. nzm
    June 27, 2012

    I’d put on Pedro for Silva and Cazorla for Negredo. We need movement forwards. Not seeing it.

    • Blau-Grenade
      June 27, 2012

      Del Bosque is so stubborn. He has not made any substitutions.

  50. Ryan
    June 27, 2012

    The extra 2 days’ rest is showing, as Portugal are pressing really well and Spain just aren’t sharp enough to pass through it. But even with those factors, Spain could be ahead if Iniesta’s shots had been on target or if Silva were more accurate with his passes.

  51. Dave
    June 27, 2012

    Arbeloa has absolutely no technique.

    Negredo(What is Del Bosque doing?)is rubbish.

    We’re seeing the difference between the Barca and Real players and the gap in technique

    Also the lack of pressing is also evident.

    Pedro in, Silva out

    Torres in(Cesc in) Negredo out.

    Could maybe lose a dm aswell.

    PS the Portuguese booing are a low breed.

    • Dave
      June 27, 2012

      Alonso does not think fast enoungh Cesc in
      Negredo- Cesc
      Pedro-Silva

  52. culegirl3
    June 27, 2012

    What is it going to take for VDB to make a substitution? This game is going nowhere.

    • Blau-Grenade
      June 27, 2012

      Running and pulling defenders out of position right away. That is much better.

  53. jordi™
    June 27, 2012

    How many freekicks has alvaro given away :roll:

  54. Ryan
    June 27, 2012

    So many yellows to Portuguese defenders; will they be able to survive another 30 minutes without getting sent off?

  55. Ryan
    June 27, 2012

    Pedro will get 30 minutes to play, but a shame that Xavi was sacrificed for him.

  56. jordi™
    June 27, 2012

    Pedro, Iniesta, ALba linking up next year :drool

    • Helge
      June 27, 2012

      Yap, they look very strong together. Pedro should have played more. With Pedro, Alba and Iniesta, the left side of Spain was unstoppaböe!

      Now it’s the lottery of a penalty shoot-out :-/

    • nzm
      June 27, 2012

      With Villa in the middle and Messi on the right?

  57. Helge
    June 27, 2012

    What a shame.

    Great work by Pedro, leading to a pass from Alonso(?) to Alba who overruns the defense, plays a perfect pass to Iniesta – who fails to beat the keeper from 7 yars out. Would have been a screamer!
    Tbh, Iniesta must have scored there!

    We’re gonna have a lot of fun with Alba next season. Great match on both ends of the pitch.

  58. Ryan
    June 27, 2012

    It took Del Bosque so long to get Spain attacking… what a waste! Now it’s up to the lottery of penalties, ugh.

    Pedro and Alba were looking great out there though.

    • jordi™
      June 27, 2012

      Pedro should definitely have started.

  59. jordi™
    June 27, 2012

    Spain owned the extra time. I guess we know how this ends 🙁

  60. Dave
    June 27, 2012

    Del Bosque made a disastrous decision with Negredo

    • Blau-Grenade
      June 27, 2012

      Yay for Spain. Ronaldo should have taken the first penalty. This was a let off for Del Bosque. He got away by putting in a bad lineup.

  61. nzm
    June 27, 2012

    Fantastic!

    Cristiano was too chicken to take a shot!!! 😀

    • jordi™
      June 27, 2012

      😀 Probably figured Iker knows him. Too bad !

    • nzm
      June 27, 2012

      Either that, or he was going for glory – waiting to be the saviour to win with the last goal!

      • Blau-Grenade
        June 27, 2012

        If he was a true leader, he would take the first shot. The first penalty is always taken by the best player in the team and in that order. So if that logic goes we can see where he rates himself.

  62. nzm
    June 27, 2012

    And where was Cristiano at this time this year?

    Do you know? Well, do you?

    He was going out in the semis of the Euro 2012!

    (Cristiano’s words about Messi come back to bite him!)

    • Blau-Grenade
      June 27, 2012

      Hahahahaha. You are hilarious.

  63. jordi™
    June 27, 2012

    BTW. Sergio Ramos.Big stones to do that.Hero!

    • Blau-Grenade
      June 27, 2012

      What Iniesta did also required balls of steel. There was no power in that shot. It was just mind play to send the keeper the wrong way.

      • G6O
        June 27, 2012

        And it wasn’t directed anywhere outside of the keeper’s range either – had he guess it right it’s a save 99% of the time

  64. Ryan
    June 27, 2012

    Praise the soccer gods! To have been defeated after being so close to scoring the last 15 minutes…

    Cesc has now won two penalty shootouts for Spain!

    • Blau-Grenade
      June 27, 2012

      Yes, Cesc won the Italy shoot out last time.

  65. nzm
    June 27, 2012

    German TV had a lip-reader interpret what Cristiano said when Cesc’s goal went in.

    He said, “That’s not fair!” 😀

  66. Ryan
    June 27, 2012

    Messi took the first penalty for Uruguay, and scored it. That’s what Portugal needed from Ronaldo tonight, but he didn’t do it. I think Portugal edged out the first 90 minutes, but Spain looked so close to a goal when they had Pedro and Alba connecting in the last 15 or so.

    • nzm
      June 27, 2012

      I hope that VdB drops Silva and puts Pedro on the right for the final. The guy wasn’t even playing in his preferred position and look at the danger that he created.

      • Blau-Grenade
        June 27, 2012

        Based on tonight’s play, Pedro deserves to be ahead of Silva in Spain lineup.

        • Ryan
          June 27, 2012

          I really hope that’s true. He doesn’t dribble as well as Silva, but his link-up play, defensive contribution, and pace are all better.

          • nzm
            June 27, 2012

            Ummm…Silva lost so many balls tonight that, even if he is superior to Pedro with his dribbling, the advantage is moot!

          • Ryan
            June 27, 2012

            Yeah, Silva’s poor final ball was really frustrating. I would’ve loved to see Pedro take a few shots though!

    • Jim
      June 27, 2012

      Not sure in what sense Portugal edged the first 90. Not in terms of chances or possession I don’t think. What they did very well was press high up making Spain’s life difficult.

      • Ryan
        June 27, 2012

        Well, they seemed more dangerous. Their pressing was good, TB was giving their striker decent chances, and the Spanish chances at goal were pretty rare. Nobody ever beats the Spanish in possession. 😉

    • G6O
      June 27, 2012

      To be fair, both philosophies have their adherents. A lot of people operate under the assumption that there will be only a single miss in a PK shootout, therefore having you best player take the first penalty and convert it is a good strategy to set the team on the right path. But in practice, most of the time there are multiple misses so the first penalty is not that crucial – then the 5th often becomes extremely important so putting your best player 5th on the sheet makes some sense. Except if there is no 5th penalty, of course. It’s too harsh to blame him for that.

  67. Helge
    June 27, 2012

    So who will be playing as the central offensive man in the final?

    I got a feeling that Torres will start. Anyway, hopefully Pedro gets more minutes. He’s been quite superb today.

    Pedro, Iniesta, Alba – should that be Barca’s left side for next season? I mean as first choice in the bigger matches?
    Alexis Sanchez on the right, Messi in the center. That sounds like a lot of trouble for the opponents 🙂
    Hopefully they all stay fit next season.

      • Helge
        June 27, 2012

        Villa is a substitute player for me. As long as Messi doesn’t switch his role, we don’t need a central striker. And on the left wing, I prefer Pedro over Villa on any day!

        • Villa needs to be played on the center of the pitch. The false 9 stuff should be played something like a surprise, not often like we did last season. Also Villa and Messi will switch position anyways. What I am missing the most last season was the crazy linking between Messi and Alves on the right. Sanchez on the right does not link well with Alves. Sanchez has been excellent with his physical presence, but with whatever I saw last season especially toward the end, he has a major problem inside the box. His first touch has been always the problem. His first touch takes the ball to close to him, which result him needing one more touch before shooting(remember the Cesc pass against Chelsea). Maybe we can even try Villa on the right and see how he works. If David Villa is going to be a majorly substitute player, then we should put him on the market. At 40 Million he is too expensive for the bench. Manchester City will be very much interested. but using Villa as a substitute player is kind of crazy.

  68. nzm
    June 27, 2012

    Somewhere in South America, a little flea should have a big grin all over his face, right now.

    CR will now be remembered as the captain who didn’t stand up for his country when he was most needed.

    • Jim
      June 27, 2012

      I don’t like him but I’m not thinking at all that he wouldn’t take one. He was just waiting for glory – and it never came. Couldn’t have turned out better , other than him missing one.

      • swamidigital
        June 27, 2012

        Doesn’t help his reputation as a personal glory-hunter. I was pretty surprised he didn’t take the first penalty.

      • nzm
        June 27, 2012

        Yeah – that’s what I debated in earlier comments, above.

    • Dave
      June 27, 2012

      Doubt it. Messi doesn’t have the insecurities of Cr

      • nzm
        June 27, 2012

        Ah come on – it just did Messi’s Ballon D’Or prospects the world of good. If that doesn’t raise a smile, what could?

      • G6O
        June 27, 2012

        Doubt it too – Messi has never said anything bad about him while we have all seen the kind of things CR has said about Messi… Messi is definitely gotten in his head, but the opposite is not true

      • nzm
        June 28, 2012

        You guys have taken my comment in the wrong light, and it’s partly because I didn’t explain it properly.

        I didn’t mean that Messi would be gloating about it, because I know that’s not him.

        But the fact that Cristiano didn’t do his Ballon D’Or hopes any good last night has to make him a wee bit content.

        Make no mistake about it – Messi is highly competitive. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have been so upset about the CL loss to Chelsea; he wouldn’t have yelled at his team-mates in the dressing room after the loss to RM at Camp Nou; he wouldn’t be coming more assertive on the pitch and demanding that the ball gets played to him. You don’t think that some of those post-goals gestures of his were aimed at Cristiano? ha.

        He wants to win – and a 4th Ballon D’Or in a row would put him so far out front, that it would be impossible to beat. He wants it – and with Cristiano out of the Euros, it just increased his chances of getting it.

    • mom4
      June 27, 2012

      Oooooo good, I like happy fleas. Now it’s back to work for me. Waiting to watch HT-
      PKs DVRd.

  69. Gogah
    June 27, 2012

    Pedro! is officially back with his exclamation. VdB really leaves me baffled sometimes. like the negredo stunt he pulled today.

    if ronaldo concentrates more on the shot and less on keeping up with the hilarious routine of taking those steps back, spreading his legs and blowing, he can be a real threat.

    how many freekicks were there? i lost count.
    germany spain or italy spain, it’ll be a good final! And I’m totally cool with any winner.

    • swamidigital
      June 27, 2012

      Yeah we can be assured of an entertaining final!

    • G6O
      June 27, 2012

      He is not that great at free kicks actually – he relies on the knuckle ball and from time to time he gets it to fool the keeper combined with the power of his shots, but that’s it really. Can he place it with consistency in the top corner? No evidence for that. Can he consistently curl it above the wall in the near, undefended by the keeper, corner? No evidence for that either. Those are the skills that are a mark of a great free kick master. He has scored some goals in this away but the majority of his free kicks are somewhere in the middle of the goal or towards the far post, 80% of the time above the post… Messi is actually a better free kick taker than him, he just doesn’t take that many.

      Great player otherwise but highly overrated in the department. BTW, his dribbling is highly overrated too which is also deeply ironic because the stepovers and the freekicks are the two things he is most known for. But the truth is that he often keeps the ball meters away from his legs and relies on his speed and acceleration to get to it first. Which is actually quite easy to defend either with some good help defense or with some good anticipation. There is a reason why he has never been able to walk through the defense against top teams the way he often does against the minnows. A really good dribbler keeps the ball glued to his feet, at very close distance so that he can either quickly put his leg or body between it and the defender or so that he can quickly change direction while still in control of it. This is what allows Messi to be so devastating with the ball in his feet despite never really doing anything fancy in terms of stepovers, elasticos, and other trickery, and only really relying on two or three moves to get past a defender.

  70. simple_barcafan
    June 27, 2012

    When some one questions VdB tactics, we have the counter argument made that Spain is winning so his tactics are right…well, I would like to ask, are Spain winning because of VdB’s clever tactics or INSPITE of his not-so-good tactics (since they are such a good team)?

    • simple_barcafan
      June 27, 2012

      I would tend to side with the latter assumption…

    • G6O
      June 27, 2012

      VdB is primarily known for his man-managing skills, not for his tactical competence. Both are needed, but very few are those who have both in equal measure and at a very high level. But that he is better at the former than the latter does not mean he is such a poor tactician that he can’t see what the consensus among the tactical gurus has been for a long time – that Spain should be playing a different formation, ditch the double pivot, play with true winger and/or a real striker, because otherwise they become too horizontal and predictable. He must be aware of this, but we don’t know all the consideration that go into his decisions making.

      There is also a third major factor that’s affecting Spain’s game – it is not just VdB’s tactics and player’s skills, player’s condition also matter a lot. Barca players are totally drained after 4 years of almost non-stop football and a very difficult seasons, Real players also played a lot of game (Mourinho had a bigger squad and rotated more but those who are in the NT still played 50+ games each), Puyol and Villa are missing and Puyol especially is a really really big loss because few defenders are capable of providing the kind of cover he is (or was) capable of and we don’t know whether Pique has fully healed – it may be that VdB is concerned about opening the side too much which can lead to rapid counterattacks which they at present can not defend well against. We saw that today just once but had the pass to Ronaldo come sooner and ahead of him instead of slightly behind him, this may have been a goal. And against the Germans this will be even more of a concern. Anyway, these are just guesses, we don’t have all the information that VdB has and it is safe to say none of us understands the game as well as he does so we are not in a position to judge his decision-making.

    • nzm
      June 27, 2012

      Yup – we may see Cesc coming on more for Xavi this season.

  71. Huckleberry
    June 27, 2012

    What a shame was that Spain performance for football. Spain are the new Greeks…
    It is a honour to be subbed in this game plan! Like Xavi!
    Hope that Spain will be destroyed in the final. I so not care by whom!

    • nzm
      June 27, 2012

      Thanks for sharing. Hope that you feel better now.

  72. Jim
    June 27, 2012

    Apparently, xavi was just tired not injured. Not surprising considering the minutes he has played this season his passing stats in this competition. I wouldn’t worry about him yet. We will, however, get an inkling this year of what Tito sees the future of our midfield as being. I’m curious to see how he rates Thiago and where he sees him playing. Also, we need to decide on Fabregas’ position. It’s not fair to him to play him all over the place. Definitely looking forward to seeing Iniesta back in the middle with Xavi though.

    • Dave
      June 27, 2012

      Don’t see Cesc as the heir of Xavi, though I’d have difficulty seeing anyone filling that great man’s boot’s

    • G6O
      June 27, 2012

      We should probably move away from looking for a one-to-one substitute for Xavi – there isn’t anyone right now who is that one-to-one replacement just as there wasn’t anyone before him. He is the heir to Guardiola but he is not the same player that Guardiola was, they played a different role and did things slightly differently. Instead, the system will have to evolve according to the players available as it has in the past. It’s the natural way of things. A lot of people assume that La Masia can just produce exactly the same kind of player again and again but it doesn’t work that way, every player develops differently and has his own style, even if he has raised within a great system as ours. Players who are exactly the same as other players tend to be not that good – there are a great many big strong lads playing as central defenders or central forwards on the British Isles, and they are mostly interchangeable in a one-to-one replacement mode, but that is also the reason why they aren’t that great, if you see what I am saying.

    • mom4
      June 27, 2012

      Xavi started his sub-par playing this spring while he was playing hurt. We talk about Messi always wanting to play but the play time for Xavi, who is 8 years older and carrying a chronic injury, is pretty high up there too. The man must sit more this year, play less to play better, come out when we’re up by 2 goals, ride the bench when we are plying third division teams in the copa and lesser teams in the CL group stages. The only problem I see with sitting Xavi is that whenever he is rested, Messi always drops so deep to compensate.

      • mom4
        June 27, 2012

        Maybe I shouldn’t have said “the only problem”. I should have said “one problem” The most important problem is that I would miss seeing him play.

        We have one more day than the Germans (or the Italians) before the final. That extra rest should help everyone.

  73. K_legit in Oz
    June 27, 2012

    Hey Thong Boy. at least Messi had the stones to take the first penalty for Argentina in the Copa..you stood back with your hands on hip muttering “Injustice’
    Always, Messi>Ronaldo

  74. June 27, 2012

    A really nice write-up on Cesc as the ultimate tournament player by Ben Lyttleton for SI.com.

    Fabregas wasn’t sure of his place on the team at the onset of this tournament, and he certainly had not played his best football for Barcelona as the season ended. But something happens to Fabregas when he plays for his country. Quite simply, he is an unbelievable tournament player. It’s been that way ever since he was top scorer — and was named Player of the Tournament — at the 2003 Under-17 World Cup in Finland in which Spain lost to Brazil in the final.

    One year later, Fabregas was named Player of the Tournament at the 2004 European Championships (Spain was again runner-up). When Luis Aragones provided him with his senior debut in March 2006, Fabregas was 18 and the youngest capped Spaniard for 70 years — and he set up a goal in Spain’s 3-2 victory over Ivory Coast. Two years later, he became the youngest player to reach 50 appearances, celebrating the occasion with another goal in Spain’s 6-0 rout of Poland.

    But it was at Euro 2008 when Fabregas’ true tournament value shone through. He scored his first competitive international goal in Spain’s 4-1 group win over Russia, and then came off the bench to score the winning penalty in the quarterfinal shootout win over Italy. That was the key victory en route to the trophy, something that Xavi later admitted. “The Italians always used to beat us, and even when the penalties were going on, we could see them relaxed and laughing as if they had already won,” Xavi said.

    Fabregas, 21 at the time, came off the bench to replace the injured David Villa in the semifinal against Russia. He set up two goals in the 3-0 win and cemented his place for the final, in which Spain topped Germany 1-0. He played the role of second striker alongside Fernando Torres as if he had been playing there his entire life, and he secured a place on the UEFA Team of the Tournament.

    At the World Cup, Fabregas came off the bench four times in seven matches, and his last appearance was the most significant: It was his slide-rule pass that set up Andres Iniesta for the winning goal in the final. And against Portugal on Wednesday, he again showed his class. He was brilliant in extra time, delivering a clever through ball that released Pedro and Navas on the flanks, and stepped up to take the decisive fifth penalty. Just like against Italy four years earlier, he mumbled some words of encouragement before slotting the ball in off the post. It was close, but it was in.

    “Cesc is Xavi, Iniesta and Xabi Alonso all in one, a striker when needed, a holder at other times, a young man with the football wisdom of a veteran,” El Mundo Deportivo’s Cordula Reinhardt told me before the game. And the best may be yet to come. Cesc is only 25, already has 69 appearances to his name and is surely a Spanish captain of the future.

    I did not know he had such an impressive record at youth levels.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/ben_lyttleton/06/27/euro-2012-spain-portugal-semifinal/index.html?sct=sc_t11_a0

    • Ryan
      June 27, 2012

      Don’t most folks do that after work?

    • sd
      June 28, 2012

      well, how else do you expect him to create another baby boom?

  75. June 27, 2012

    Just finished watching the match. Imo, it was Spain’s worst performance in this Euro. I don’t mind watching endless passes, but the tiki-taka was way off today. Probably a combo of less rest, Portugal pressing well, heat factor, etc.

    I thought Portugal did alright, but they were one quality striker away from being a top top contender.

    Nothing against Spain, but I enjoy watching Argentina so much more. Their attacking prowess in the form of Messi-Higuain-Aguero-di Maria is truly amazing, and of course, their defense gives me plenty of near heart attack moments.

    • nzm
      June 28, 2012

      I know, right?

      Pass the ball – sideways, backwards, any way but forwards – lose the ball, get back the ball, rinse and repeat.

      Yikes. I really hope that there’s a better gameplan than that for the final.

  76. Gogah
    June 28, 2012

    VdB, for the final, Please drop Xabi and Silva for Fabregas and Pedro

    • Xabi played really well and will not be dropped. What VdB must do is drop Silva and bring on Pedro. Then shift Iniesta to the right and allow Pedro and Alba to link in the left. Those two are having brilliant understanding. Anyways Iniesta eventuall has to play a floater role and shift to left linking with Pedro and Alba.

  77. barca96
    June 28, 2012

    Gotta say for an antimadridista there can be few better things to watch than Real Madrid players beating the shit out of each other

  78. barca96
    June 28, 2012

    Hilarious that they seemed to have planned for CRon to score the winner and he doesn’t even get to participate – Give the boy the Ballon d’Or already – He might only be the second best goalscorer of the season, but he’s the unchallenged King of Shots Off Target, as he proved again tonight

    Tonight I watched the best player in the world.

    Then I closed YouTube and watched Spain beat Portugal.

    MESSI! MESSI! MESSI!

    “You know where he was at this time ? Do you know? He was being eliminated in the Euro, chickened out before the penalty. I think that’s worse, no?”

    For all you people bored with watching Spain, I suggest you watch England, much more exciting ,they give the ball back to the opposition!!

    There are 3 guys who are serious trollers on Guardian blogs by the name of Tommoman, DCharlie and EnigmaX. The kind of stuff that they say… And of course they are hardcore anti-Barca/Spain.

  79. lyd
    June 28, 2012

    Can we have a separate post to shower praises on VDB’s double pivot and other cool stuffs like Navas’s attempts at crossing?

  80. Points to be taken note of from the Euro so far:

    1) Not even a single Spanish player(who played in Euro) should feature in any of the preseason stuffs. They all should be rested unconditionally.

    2) Xavi should see more rest this season. Thiago and Cesc(even though he may not fit into Xavi role) should play more giving Xavi rest. Also Tito should at least try Jonathan Dos Santos in that role. I always believed he is much better to adapt to Xavi role than Thiago.

    3) Pedro is back, and that’s a hell of a relief. And if we are able to sign Alba, then it could be a sweet partnership in the left between Pedro, Iniesta and Alba. That shouldn’t mean that Muniesa is not given chance.

    4) Busquets may need a bit of rest. Lately he looks a bit tired and that is a worrying sign for us.

    • K_legit in Oz
      June 28, 2012

      14 mill for Jordi Alba official!
      Official: Barcelona confirm the transfer of Valencia left back defender Jordi Alba (23), pending medicial tests

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