Levante 0 – La Masía 4, as F.C. Barcelona wrote history

In the politics of Man, history is written by the Conquerors.

In sports however, sometimes history is bigger than simply who won or who lost. The German World Cup winners of 1954 are long forgotten, while the Hungarians they actually beat in the final are still revered today. Likewise, old-timers’ eyes light up when they recall a bunch of orange-clad, long-haired rock stars playing a brand of (total) football that had never been seen before. It must be said that the Germans once again had the last laugh, as Gerd Müller scored the winning goal.

That’s right. The same Gerd Müller whose name you know because his astonishing record of 85 goals in a calendar year is about to be broken by our beloved genius from Rosario is responsible for traumatizing the past, present and future generations of his small neighboring country. I was born four years after that fateful final in the summer of ’74 and I carry the wounds deep in my heart as if I lost a loved one on the pitch that day.

Future ex-record holder, Gerd ‘der bomber’ Müller

On jornada 13 we had the opportunity to deepen some wounds ourselves, since on the previous day M*drid was sliced open for the third time this season by a hardworking and somewhat fortunate Real Betis. A team have never won the league after trailing by 8 points (I think), and they have never ever won it after trailing by 11 (I think even more).

To make it so, we had to beat Levante – a team that does not invite you into their home to give you easy access to the master bedroom. They certainly gave our eternal rivals a run for their money two weeks ago and you might remember that they almost beat us before our title race was definitely killed last season.

Professor Tito decided on a line-up of VV, Dani Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Alba, Busquets, Xavi, Cesc, Iniesta, Messi and Pedro.

The first 15 minutes or so were largely uneventful, the only actions of note being an excellent save of Victor Valdés and a corner headed over by the home team.

But then something happened. Dani Alves hurt his knee and came off for Martin Montoya, the significance of which I did not realize at the time but was soon pointed out by the commentators: the eleven players on the pitch were all from la Masía. For the first time ever in a Liga game a line-up that had been speculated on for months became a reality, and a dream come true for many culés.

Thou shall not pass

Not that it made any difference to Levante, who certainly lived up to expectations. They defended in packs like hyenas guarding a piece of dead meat, only letting us sniff at the goal from a distance. They crowded the middle, a strategy bolstered by Dani Alves’ substitution and our midfielder on the left wing. Both Messi and Xavi tried some long range shots to no avail. In the meantime our opponents were all too quick to attack us on the break, playing dangerous balls over our back line for their forwards to run into.

We reached halftime with a sweaty sigh. At nil-nil the 11 point difference we set out to claim seemed far away. Eleven valiant Valencianos shut down our farmhouse players. With no space to sow, our combinations were bearing neither fruit nor vegetables. Could our big dream turn minor nightmare? Could the first game in which we play an all-academy line-up be a dreary goalless affair? Or even a loss?

Those questions were soon answered by two of Barça’s favorite sons. The first, who cried his eyes out as a young boy 500 km away from his family, split the defense with an immaculate through ball. The other, who was so shy and quiet legend has it that his teammates initially thought he was dumb, only needed one touch to pass the keeper with a gorgeous chip – one we have seen him perform on countless occasions but never fails to delight.

no. 81

The 2nd half had barely even started and already we were up 1-0. To their credit, Levante did not immediately roll over. They tried to get right back into the game, with José Barkero (love the name) blasting a left-footed volley well wide.

However, like so often when dealing with an opponent that knows it is outclassed and compensates for this with a relentless will to block any and all paths to their goal, one is all it takes. It soon became clear that Levante’s resistance which made their defense so indestructible for the first 45 minutes of the game, was most definitely broken.

Ipso Facto, let the Iniesta show begin.

While his first assist was a quick pull of the trigger, taken from the midfield to a Messi going deep, his second was the exact opposite.  Starting from the top of the box he dribbled to the end line.  Four defenders plus Leo were waiting for the assist they knew was heading their way, the only possible pass he could make, the sole remaining option. And here the Illusionist showed his true genius, holding on to the ball for a split second longer, waiting and deliberating for all to believe that the pass was no longer going to come. All but one, that is, as la Pulga coolly slotted the ball into the net.

The onslaught had well and truly begun. Before long our bees were buzzing and humming, passing each other the ball in a flurry of single touches when they gave the rock to Ghostface, who showed off his killer instinct and spanked it into the net for his first league goal of the season. Three-nil and the Don’s not done. Another assist for Cesc made it four. Game over, at two Pedro misses short of a manita.

Thou shall not stop me

In an era in which our rivals spent more than half a billion euros to assemble the most expensive collection of footballers in the history of the game, F.C. Barcelona, on the 25th of November of the year 2012, made history by fielding an entire team of academy players. Eight Catalans, two Spaniards and one fierce Argentine beat a motivated Levante with four goals to none.

History, you say? In 1973 the club could choose between Bayern Munich’s Gerd Müller, who had scored a whopping 85 goals in the previous year, and Dutchman Johan Cruijf, who was in the process of leading Ajax to a third consecutive European Cup. Coach Rinus Michels, having experienced Johan’s strong personality first-hand, was said to be in favor of the German’s scoring prowess. The top brass, knowing who was the biggest star in world football at the time, decided on number 14.

As a player Cruijff only brought us one league title in his five seasons on the team. Yet his coming to Catalonia altered Barça’s destiny like perhaps no player at any club has ever done. It was he who suggested to then president Josep Nuñez to use La Masia for housing youth players and to train them according to a specific philosophy – an idea he further refined when he came back to Barcelona as a coach. It was he also who plucked ‘Pep’ Guardiola from the cantera as a gangly youth and made him the linchpin around which the Dream Team evolved. His teammate Francesc Vilanova i Bayo was not deemed good enough for the first team. His time would come later.

The same Pep one day made way for a canterano by the name of Xavi Hernandez, to whom he said, upon seeing a young Andrés running rampant with the ball at his feet: “This one will replace us both”.

History might be written by the conquerors, but it has been in the making for a long time.

Andrecito, MOTM

“I’d think I was never going to make it. But you have to be strong. Even at the age of 12 you think: I have to fight. I’ve come this far, there’s no going back.” ~ Andrés Iniesta



By Levon

Culé since way before football boots were of the neon yellow and lizard green variety, Levon is a deep thinker with increasingly shallow thoughts. He lives in Barcelona with his gorgeous wife and daughter. The lucky bastard...


  1. -Thanks Lev, I mean Levon.

    -Usually I am the one who always prays that Messi gets a rest but I certainly hope that Messi will play in the Copa match and score a couple. I want him to break the record asap so that he won’t feel any burden although he doesn’t look desperate at all to score goals.

    -I wish that the fact Barca played the majority of the match with a full home grown team would get more media attention. Oh well.

  2. Great read. Many thanks, Levon!

    – It took a Levon to write about the historical win at Levante. 🙂

    – Whoscored.com rated the Illusionita’s performance as a perfect 10.

    – Louis Van Gaal’s impossible dream of fielding a (Champions League winning) all cantera team now seems within reach.

    – Another canterano Deulefeu had his Messi moments with a superb golazo for Barca Babies against Racing Santander as the latter (recently demoted La Liga team) was thrashed 4-1

    – It was a great day for another former canterano Jordi Gomez who (Optajose reports) is the only Spanish player to have scored a hattrick this season across the five big leagues, for Wigan coached by Spanish coach.

    OT – Former Canterano Oleguer Presas’ party the CUP (Oleguer was himself a candidate) made a (historical?) breakthrough winning 3 seats in the Catalan Parliament in recently concluded elections. Oleguer himself came up short.

    1. I didn’t find the Deulofeu goal/dribble anything close to Messi. I’ve always found him more looking like Ronaldo.

  3. to respond to a couple items from previous thread.

    1. best result is not a RM loss or Atletico loss. it is a tie. they both drop 2 points. so there.

    2. there is no way that levante threw that game. if they were losing on purpose, they wouldnt have had that look on their faces of frustration and despair seen throughout the second half.

    1. 1. Draw is the best result for us.

      A win for Atletico will definitely cause a problem for Madrid but Atletico will still be 3 points behind us. Although it is disrespectful of me to assume that Atletico will stumble somewhere, I don’t think that they can go toe to toe with us especially when they are competing in the Europa League.

    1. It’s not as easy as simply putting up the ads and watching the money pour in.

      To properly use Adsense takes a lot of time and energy – more than we all have while maintaining this site around our day jobs. It requires a proper SEO structure and some comprehensive keywording to get it all going, and to really have the money coming in requires more than 1 website. Plus, it works better on sites that are geared towards services and products for the mass market – things that people use and need on a regular basis.

      Here’s a story about a guy who really worked with Adsense, putting up sites and posts and spending an average of 15 hours per day – to make $111 in 12 months.

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    2. How good is your seo traffics? I believe it should be pretty good with FC Barcelona keywords. It’s tough to make money if your traffic with seo is bad. I don’t think you have a problem with traffic.

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      And also the ad fill rate is not that great in this site. I only see Public service ads here. It’s eating into your revenue.

      Just try it for sometime. Atleast replace the Bing ads at the bottom of post with a an adsense 336×280 ad unit. If I were you I would push it above the linkwithin widget. It won’t be that hard.

      I believe this site is hosted on wordpress. Then there could be ready made solution already available to place the 336×280 ad in middle of post. Just like how ads are shown in sites like Guardian. I think it will increase the revenue.

    3. also replace the 300×250 ads at the top right with a similar 300×250 from adsense. If you can place text ad there, its better. But if you feel it will break the design of your site, then replace it with only Rich media ad

    4. And also Blend the ads. Please change the ads style to reflect your post.
      For example your post is written in font Times. So only use Times in the ads. Right now your bing ads uses Arial.

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      I think you have decent amount of traffic from google search engine. So it’s criminal not to exploit it to fully. By teh way how much of your traffic percentage is from google. What does Google analytics say about the percentage of search engine traffic?

  4. alves estimated to be out 15-20 days. if im translating correctly,. i think he pulled his right quad..it wasnt his knee.

    1. thanks ooga! the commentators were saying it was his knee. I found it strange how he wasn’t even limping off of the pitch. Which part of the leg is the quad?

    2. Full name: quadriceps. The major muscle group in the front part of the thigh. Connects to the knee.

  5. Abidal and Cuenca BOTH practicing with the squad today, in the “holy crap!” file.

    — I screamed out loud two times during that match: the Iniesta golazo, and the Valdes penalty/rebound/rebound save.

    — Anybody who suggests that Levante gave that one up is crazy. When Iniesta is that absurd, the club is unstoppable. Messi is one thing, Xavi is another, but when Iniesta decides to play like that, forget about it. This club will never lose when Iniesta enters Ghost mode. He’s like a PlayStation cheat code. There’s probably some bizarre sequence on the controller that activates Ghost Mode. I have no other explanation for it, but I will say that if Ghost Mode were more consistent, Messi wouldn’t be everyone’s automatic best player alive.

    1. I’ve been saying for years that Iniesta is that 2nd best player (Messi is the 1st of course). But the only problem is his inconsistency and he’s too shy to take over a match most of the times.

      I already find him better than Zidane. Zidane has the edged because of his famous goals in the finals of WC and CL but for consistence, even the Iniesta is inconsistent, he is still more consistent than Zidane everything was.

      This coming from a huge Zidane fan ever since his move to Juve.

    2. He can pass,he can dribble and assist but the main attribute of him is the nature of his execution of such passes.
      With Xavi you have a kind of more cautious type of passing ; Iniesta is using more direct passes.
      You can see Xavi passing to a fullback or winger and the player will have to wait some nanoseconds to not outrun the pass -he is creating the play- yet iniesta passes at an exact time. The attacker will be able to carry on/boost his run or shoot the ball instantly- he is executing the play.

      Iniesta , apart from having THE best first touch in the world, is more likely to pull every defender on him and out of shape/time/direction of the play and let somebody else take a free shot at the keeper or an open net.

      With Messi you got a guy that can dribble an entire squad and score or provide a defence slicing pass, but as long as you form a wall around him he is less likely to provide a crucial play than Iniesta on form,who will hold on to the ball until everybody, commentators opposition and fans are certain that he has nowhere to go and noone to pass to.
      And then you got that candy-pass, like Rijkaard used to say.

    3. Xavi was playing defense splitting on the run right at the inside foot passes when Ghostface was in diapers. We don’t need him to do that with Iniesta and Cesc and Messi on the field. We need him to build up play from the back, but trust me, if we needed him to, he would! 🙂

    4. Yes, if Iniesta could play every match the way he played against Levante, then he would be the greatest ever, not just on our team. I don’t know if that’s possible for anyone though! The edge I would give Messi would be that he is more consistently otherworldly, though he has his bad days too.

  6. Thanks Lev for the review! Interesting historical tidbits. And now, we know your age too 😛

    I’m sounding like a debbie downer, but I’m having a hard time buying “playing eleven La Masia graduates” headlines from various sources. The idea is too simplistic and misleading. Alba, Pique and Cesc, are they “formed” at La Masia (quote taken from the official site?
    Sometimes, the hyperbole gets too much, and I get desensitized from it.

    1. You’re certainly entitled to hold out for a full team of players who came to La Masia at a young age, stayed with the club and graduated to the first squad with zero time spent playing elsewhere before you get excited.

      Don’t mind if I don’t wait with you.

    2. I think it is incredible, even more so for a club as big as ours.

      I wanted to ask the question in the review but somehow i forgot:
      is there any other club in one of europe’s top leagues who can claim to have done the same? Bilbao maybe, with their all-Basque policy?

    3. In any case, which other big team fighting for titles can claim that all 11 of their players at one point trained with the youth teams? It’s a very proud moment.

    4. Err…I don’t think I mentioned anything about the wait.

      Don’t get me wrong, I support and feel proud of these players too regardless of whether they are from La Masia or elsewhere.

      But I have a problem with this message…

      For the first time in recent history, away at the Ciutat de Valencia, Barça played with eleven players formed at La Masia


      ..and the overall pretentiousness of this article and pretty much almost everything message the club is trying to sell lately.

    5. well, maybe there is a fine line between pretension and pride. but dont doubt that any other major club in the world would crow about this, if they could.

      consider also that the players who played with the LEAST number of cantera teams (alevin, infantil, cadete, barca c, barca b etc etc) were puyol and pedro with 3 each. all the other members of yesterday’s 11 played with 4 teams or more…even if they might have left for a few years. (cesc and alba played on 5 each…montoya played with 10 different teams!)

      you have to admit it is remarkable.

    6. Oh I’d say those three you mentioned were definitely formed at La Masia, regardless of where they spent the early part of their first team careers… But I believe Pedro, Busquets and even Puyol, who all joined La Masia at age 17 might be the ones people wouldn’t consider being ‘formed’ there, as opposed to Iniesta, Messi, Guardiola, Xavi etc who all came at age 11-13.

      Personally, I think they all count though 🙂

    7. C’mon. That’s splitting hairs. Replayed, you & I seem to agree on most subjects, however, I couldn’t disagree with you more on this one. Pique, Cesc, & Alba all spent their formative years at La Masia. Their called “formative” for a reason. Barca instilled everything they are as a player. I’m sure Sir Alex helped Pique and Wenger definitely made Cesc a great pro, but the seed was planted, roots formed, and growth began at La Masia!

    8. I don’t know why you think we disagree on this subject. I have no problem whatsoever with the Barca site crowing about 11 players formed at La Masia sharing the pitch in a competitive match. I think it’s a genuine achievement for the club, even if it’s only the means, not the end.

      Maybe you meant to disagree with messifan?

    9. My bad. I interpreted from you post that you didn’t believe all 11 were legitimate La Masia players since some of our players hadn’t been at Barca their entire careers.

    10. I see your point, and in a lot of situations, I would actually agree with you. However, Alba, Pique, and Cesc all spent 6 or 7 years at La Masia, not just a few, and we know that Pique and Cesc spent several years with Messi. They were at La Masia from when they were kids first learning about the sport until they were in their mid-teens. I think it’s perfectly fair to say that they were developed there, and IMO it’s a huge accomplishment to be able to field a strong starting XI made up of players who have been taught according to Barcelona’s football philosophy and who Barcelona identified as talents back when they were nobodies (many of them, prepubescent nobodies) and played a huge role in developing as players.

  7. When Cruyff initially underplayed Tito’s unprecedented start to the season, stating that the true test of his mettle would be seen only when Barca finds themselves in crisis, I now realize he was not seeing clearly, maybe ageing.

    I didn’t want to admit this for the longest time, being a crazy fan of Pep.. but The assistant has already handled, quietly, many moments of crisis. Being..

    ~That he has kept us winning games for so long with non existent defense resources. Non existent.
    ~That he did so against CL opponents and a rabid Madrid who believed that the balance of power had changed.
    ~That yesterday we were only nearing a full strength squad yet the win seemed so natural, convincing.
    ~And That he has still kept this team happy, hungry, inspired and comfortable under a new less inspiring leader that must have felt like a new shoe.

    1. I’m going to have to disagree with you here. I don’t think the club has been even near a crisis since Tito took over. Even with our problems at CB the club should have the quality to win the games we have been winning, so I don’t think that counts as a moment of crisis.

      The real crisis, and the truest test for Tito will be when we have failed to win 3 games in a row, where the confidence of the squad is failing in a time of intense pressure. Think of the situation Chelsea has been in over the last month – that is what a moment of crisis looks like. Then it is up to the coach to lift the players psychologically, to give them their confidence back.

      That is one of the most difficult things for a manager, and is supposedly on of Tito’s weak points. It’s hard to know for sure as the team has been winning everything in sight.

      Tito is adept tactically, there is no doubt. However, I still have doubts that his motivational ability is as strong as his tactical ability. He is still riding the new manager wave (although not for much longer) and the true crisis where he will have to prove himself will be one of motivation, not injuries.

    2. But often, coaching can preclude a crisis. For me, it’s similar to when Phil Jackson won titles with the Bulls, and people said “Any fool could win with Michael Jordan.” Then he went to Los Angeles, took a dysfunctional, underachieving Lakers squad and won titles with them, and people said “Any fool could win with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant,” forgetting that others had them before, and couldn’t.

      Coaching isn’t just about crisis moments that we see. It’s about managing around situations that have the potential to become crises, such as the plague that has been visited upon our CBs, or instilling the desire present to turn matches that would have, in the past, been losses or draws into wins.

      Vilanova has already done an extraordinary job, and done so with a Messi who isn’t anywhere near the level that he was under Guardiola, even as he is still scoring goals. He has managed through one healthy defender, fatigue and injuries.

      I reckon my point is that crises don’t have to be tangible. This club will not win everything, all the time. But I don’t presume for one minute that Vilanova hasn’t already been tested as a manager.

    3. Your point on crises is a good one and well taken.

      Have to disagree with you about Messi though. He is on course to score more goals than he did last year. He may not defend as much, or dribble as much, or facilitate play as much as he has in previous years. I think that’s a conscious decision by the coaching staff though. If Messi can score a goal every 70 minutes, why move him away from the goal more than you have to?

      Messi is after all, only human. It’s a question of optimizing his contribution. I like the way he’s being used by Tito (also think we are less dependent on Messi than we were last season).

    4. Agreed. One can’t say that Tito isn’t a motivator or else the team wouldn’t be on a record run. The run speaks for itself. No way our boys have 12 wins and 1 draw if their not motivated. Just because we haven’t heard stories from the team of Tito playing Gladiators and giving spine tingling talks doesn’t mean he isn’t a great motivator. Score Board.

    5. I think it will never be fair to compare how Pep does without Tito.
      Tito has ‘inherited’ a group of nearly perfect players, who know each other longer and better than anyone else.

      Pep can, to be fair, only lose such a comparison – as he is almost deemed to deceive with his new club, whichever it turns out to be.
      The Barca system is unique, and Pep was/is the perfect coach for this club. I don’t want to take anything away from Tito though, so far he does just about as good as his predecessor.
      But if Pep joins a new club, he’ll have to deal with a completely new situation. And no club is similar to Barca with respect to the youth system, philosophy etc.
      It cannot be emulated within 3 or 5 years, chsnging the structure of a club rather takes a decade or so.
      Maybe I am completely wrong and I underrate Pep, but I believe he needed this club as much as the club needed him to succeed. It was a perfect symbiosis. Pep has a clear pattern that he wants to work with, he is not the most ‘diverse’, ‘adaptive’ coach (I obviosuly cannot know this until he has coached another team for some time, but I assume so nonetheless). For me, Pep is like a sculptor who scarves the most beautiful work of art from a precious block of marble, but who will struggle a bit with a common stone.

      The expectations will be sky-high, be it at Chelsea, United, City, PSG, Bayern or Milan – although Pep will not be a coach for instant success (admittedly, Mou is probably the best at it).
      So if Pep has a slow start to his ‘new’ coaching career, it doesn’t yield any conclusion about Pep’s or Tito’s disjoint contribution to Barca 08-12, about who is better or was more behind the glorious era. The pre-conditions differ too much – whereas for Tito, they stay(ed) the same.

    6. Helge, That’s why I think Brazil would be a good fit for Pep. He has Barca like talent with technical players at his disposal. Menes already introduced a higher pressing, possession based attack. Pep could go in and change the lower age groups philosophy in Brazil and they could dominate for years to come. Maybe not 2014, but 2018 and on. That would be Oscar, Neymar, Leandro Damiao’s peak years. I don’t think he’ll take the job because Brazil aren’t anymore patient than Roman Abramovich, but I feel he could emulate Barca’s system better there.

    7. I saw Argentina vs Saudi Arabia a couple of weeks ago. The match ended in a draw. Saudi played like Barca does. I was very impressed by what Rijkaard has done there.

    8. I would disagree that Saudi played like Barca. But they pressed, hard pressed like Barca and it was quite easy to see the Barca stamp there. Rijkaard has definitely done something with that team.

    9. It’s hard to know for sure as the team has been winning everything in sight.
      This is also a test for manager is it not? When a team is winning/has won everything, to motivate the team to keep winning is also a test of the motivational skills of a manager, which Tito so far has been successful at. (Just look at RM, they seem so demotivated after they won the league last season).
      I might also argue (for the sake of argument), that Tito has been good enough to make sure we don’t even enter crises mode..
      Cruff might have a point when he said “Players don’t forget to play football”, when questioned about Tito’s abilities…well as far as I care, Tito has done his job well, much more than anyone of us expected. So lets give him credit and question him when the moment arises…

    10. All fair points.
      But Trust me Calvin, if there was anyone who would jump at the chance to criticize the assistant and go back to living in the past, it’d be me, but a fair inspection leads me to believe Tito really does deserve credit. Crises sometimes are indeed intangible.

      Just for fun, consider this.
      What if Tito was the brains behind the whole thing the whole time. Lev’s suggestion of how pep would do without tito is interesting. it has happened in the past too, right with clough?

      It seems to me that Pep was always gonna do great in Barca with or without Tito, being who he is & all that but he may find it difficult to work in another club without Tito. Seems to me that Tito may or may not match Pep in Barca but could easily apply his calm style and get results in any other club without Pep.
      ofcourse i may be tripping.

    11. It’s a valid point that will only prove true or false with time. Not just this season either or Pep’s next job, but 5-10 years time. Pep’s next post could be an awful fit and everyone will say, “See, I knew he was overrated. I’d win with Messi, Xavi, etc.” However, Tito also has to win trophies. We aren’t there yet! Big yet. It looks DAMN good so far, but 14 in 4 is crazy, stupid, good!

  8. Thanks for the review Levon

    This was one of the few matches that really got me nervous, but Iniesta made a fool of me, me like.
    Records are falling left, right and center, but that’s less important than actually winning something come the season end, hopefully the team can keep it up all season long.
    Rotation, please Tito do the right thing and rotate the squad as much as you can, our next game is at home , we have a good lead from the 1st leg, no need to play all the big guns.

    ROCK ON.

  9. well, something is motivating the players to continue to fight for every point, even if they are 8 pts ahead of the eternal rival. if it’s not tito, it is the players motivating themselves, in which case we can’t credit pep for cornering the market on motivation.

    1. I have no doubt that Tito’s motivational message to the team plays up the idea that the team will want to show the world that they’re great even without Pep. This should work until they reach at least some of the highs they hit under Pep, say a Liga / CL double. Once they do, Tito will have a whole new set of challenges.

    1. Thanks for posting. It was a fun read. Comments section hilarious. So many haters out there. Any accolade to Barca and it’s off to the races on who can slag us the most!

  10. Surprise, surprise – Pochettino is no longer at Espanyol.

    Replacing him is Javier Aguirre – former coach of Zaragoza (until he was fired a year ago), who also coached the Mexican team for some games.

    1. True. And Brazil have ruled out Guardiola. To be honest it would have baffled me had they hired a non-Brazilian. I think it is borderline cheating as it is to hire a foreign coach for a national team.

  11. I don’t understand the logic behind everyone thinking that Atleti will win against RM. They are not going to do that, at least at the Santiago Bernebeu. RM has been solid at home, their troubles are on the road. I would like to see the match end in a draw, even though it will be very tough.

  12. I can’t believe some people calling for a real win against atletico just so that the gap between 1st and 2nd can widen further.

    Firstly, if we are wishing, I would ALWAYS wish for nothing other than a EE loss. Second Its good for the 2nd placed team to be close enough to keep us focused and on our toes. and Third its high time Atletico deserve a win against their neighbours and it’ll certainly be fun to watch the circus go nuts. Go Atleti!

    1. Me too.

      Even if the win would get Atletico as close as 1 point to us, I would still hope for Atletico win over RM. I reall want to see Mourinho losing it.

      I am sure our players are intelligent enough to not lose the 3 point lead we have over Atletico.

    2. It’s quite easy, really, if you look at it logically and taking away any emotions that you may feel about any of the teams other than Barca.

      I love Barca. I want the team to win. I don’t care about any other teams – I don’t hate them, I don’t love them, I just don’t care about them. Barca is my team.

      I want Barca to remain clear at the top and clear of the other teams – as far away as possible from ALL of them.

      Barca is at the top of the table.
      Team Purple is 3 points behind.
      Team Orange is 11 points behind Barca.

      In the next round, Purple is playing Orange, while Barca is playing another team where they will win, or lose, or draw.

      Based on not knowing if Barca will win, lose or draw, which team do I want to win – for the good of my team, Barca?

      1. If Purple wins and Barca loses, the lead between Barca and Purple drops to 0 and the difference between Barca and Orange stays at 11.

      2. If Purple wins, and Barca wins, the lead stays at 3, and the difference between Barca and Orange goes to 14.

      3. If Teams Purple and Orange draw and Barca wins, the lead goes to 5 and 13.

      4. If Teams Purple and Orange draw and Barca loses, the lead between Barca and Purple drops to 2, and the difference between Barca and Orange drops to 10.

      5. If Orange wins and Barca wins, the lead goes to 6 clear of Purple, and the difference between Barca and Orange stays at 11.

      Looking at it like this, I choose #5. I want Barca as far ahead as possible from all the other teams, therefore I want the 3rd placed team to win – whether or not Barca wins in the next round.

      It gives a 2 winning games buffer between Barca and Purple, and a 4 winning games buffer between Barca and Orange.

      You could choose #3 (a draw between Purple and Orange), but a narrowing of the points gap between Teams Purple and Orange, means that Purple now has to think of the closer threat behind them, as well as their chase for the lead.

      (For the sake of keeping it brief, I left out the what-ifs should Barca draw in this round, but you’ll get the gist!)

    3. That’s really rational and all, but this is EE and morbo we’re talking about. I’m with Gogah on this one!

    4. Yep, I find it hard to maintain that level-headed logic when I see EE step on the field: I just want them to lose!

    5. You could choose #3 (a draw between Purple and Orange), but a narrowing of the points gap

      With 3, the points gap remains the same between Purple and Orange, no?

      This rational reasoning makes sense if one is taking the short-term view. But the short-term view acknowledges things like the psychology and pressure of points gaps. And the short-term view can’t really account for future changes in teams’ forms. By the end of the season, Purple may fade and Orange may end up pipping Barca by a point or two. Or Orange may fade and it’s Purple nosing out Barca.

      I think the long-term view is more rational. There are only so many points available to every team. You want your likely rivals dropping as many of those points as possible. In the event of a draw between them, that’s 1 point lost to two rivals no matter what happens later on.

    6. No – I meant that if you chose 3, the points wouldn’t narrow. But if you choose Orange to win, then the points gap would narrow between Apple and Orange.

      I’m not talking about a longterm view – I’m talking about this round. That’s the best result for this round.

      You talk about Purple and Orange’s teams changing, but Barca’s could also change for the worse.

    7. Barca’s could also change for the worse.

      Sure. Which puts other teams’ points dropped in draws to Barca’s advantage.

      The way for Barca to maximize the gap between themselves and the second place team at the end of the season is for them to win every one of their matches, ending up with 114 points, while all other matches are drawn and all other teams end up tied with 36 points.

      Every time any team other than Barca manages to get all points from a match, Barca drifts away from this (granted, unreachable) ideal.

    8. No – I meant that if you chose 3, the points wouldn’t narrow.

      Undertstood. But now we get into the psychology of the points gap, which is anything but rational.

    9. If you want to elaborate on that, I’ll happily defend my rationality!

      The way for Barca to maximize the gap between themselves and the second place team at the end of the season is for them to win every one of their matches, ending up with 114 points, while all other matches are drawn and all other teams end up tied with 36 points.

      I just saw a pig fly by my window. 😀

    10. Nope, because team orange is really team white. Can’t bring myself to hope for a win for them.

      So I’m hoping for #3, and then both teams can lose every subsequent game in the season for all I care. No, strike that, actually, with a 5 point cushion from the tie, and then an 8 point cushion from losing to us (another 3 for 11 when they face us in the spring), I’d actually love for Atletico to keep on winning. It keeps them ahead of team orange. Yup, 3rd place or lower would make my year! #pettymerenguehatingcule

      See how easy it is—I have it all planned out 🙄

    11. You’ve sat next to me during a Barca game, with A and J telling me when it was “safe to look”, with my composure dissolving into a pool of wibbly-wobbly goo every time the ball got near our goal, and it takes the above post to cue you into my over-emotionalism (is that a word?)? 😀

    12. I got the gist the first time and I can do the math and the probabilities nzm. You’re talking about what’s the best thing to come out of this jornada 14 for Barca?
      The best thing would be for our biggest threat and rival to be as far away from us as possible. 14 points. not 11 points. That’s logic too.

      Thats why i said having atletico just 3 points behind is not the worst thing. It can be a blessing in disguise too in the long run to avoid any complacency from Barca. Having us as far away from ALL the teams as you put it also means nothing at this stage of the season, its too early. Thats logic too.

      And finally there’s no fun in supporting your team governed purely by logic, without emotion, atleast for me.

      cheers ma belle, always love reading your stuff.

    13. Emo-culés of the world, unite! 😆

      But seriously, I have enough emotion just from watching our team’s performance without worrying about how I feel about the other teams in La Liga!

      Ah – this has been a fun conversation!

  13. Another canterano Deulefeu had his Messi moments with a superb golazo for Barca Babies against Racing Santander as the latter (recently demoted La Liga team) was thrashed 4-1

    I’ve never bought into the Youtube trend of labelling Deulofeu as the new Messi. The way he plays is just so different. His dribbling style is closer to Ronaldo than to Messi.

    Messi, Iniesta, Busi, Xavi = Low centre of gravity. They can slalom between players. They can make turns easily.

    Ronaldo, Deulofeu, Quaresma, Tello = I don’t know how to explain it but it’s like they’re skipping or hopping while dribbling.

    Everyone has their own style of dribbling. Ronaldo, Deulofeu etc. use their pace more instead of their ball skills. They prefer to push the ball quite hard and make a run and hope to beat the defender with their pace.

    It’s totally different from Messi and the typical Barca player.

    1. Agree with you when looking at Deulofeu’s general style of play, HOWEVER if you look at that particular goal to which Srini is referring, it is quite Messi-like in how he breaks through the defence as he did.

    2. I love what Vilanova said today about Deulofeu, which was essentially, he is immensely talented, dynamic and all that, but he has some improving to do before he is ready for the first team. He’s right.

    3. Exactly! The kid still thinks that he’s the second coming.

      Perhaps he does need some serious First Team play to knock some sense of reality into him. From what little we’ve seen of him in the First Team, he hasn’t been able to beat defences from what I recall.

      But then his game is also still developing.

    4. I know this is a little pre mature and I know he is a great talent but I’m skeptical of Deulofeu’s attitude. I think Tito is as worried about that as much as his talent. Anyone have any recent insights on how he’s been doing with that? Attitude was a knock on him for years and last summer at the Euros he was had his thong boy like moments.

    5. Then based on what I’ve seen I’d just assume see him move on. We don’t need that crap in our happy locker room. I didn’t like him waving at messi for the ball last week either. Get him out of la liga.

    6. You know who else used to have a reputation for being arrogant and cocky? Thiago. He matured, and now he is an asset to the team. I’m happy to give Deulofeu some more time. (Not Neymar, though. 😉 )

    7. I don’t remember Thiago having the kind of baggage that deulofeo brings. If we can make some money off of him I’d consider saying adios. So much of the success of this team has been chemistry. Pep knew that. From everything I’ve seen so far he’s failed the test. The leash is short.

  14. via Barcastuff

    Official: Valdes, Pique, Alba, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta and Messi will not play against Alaves tomorrow

    OMG! I was hoping that Messi would play tomorrow in order to get an easy chance to get closer to the world record or even break it. Sigh.

    My wishes came a year too late! Last season I’ve always wished for Pep to rest Messi but now it’s happening at a moment when I want him to play.

    ps. Is this tweet (the one that I pasted above) actually from Barcastuff or fcblive? Because after the tweet, it says fcblive. I don’t have twitter btw.

    1. The fcblive is the tag that is used to tweet around the world for anything live happening with FC Barcelona. Barcastuff is the most consistent, quickest and most informative informer of FC Barcelona related information on Twitter. I have only positive things to say about Barcastuff. A lot of people are very subjective when tweeting about Barca, but Barcastuff just puts the facts out in their tweets. I have no idea who is behind Barcastuff.

      Michelle would you have any idea? Is it an official source?

    2. The @barcastuff account was started by the same guy who earlier ran the FCB Transfer Blog, going by the alias of Pep.

      However, sometime last season the team @barcastuff must have changed. Pep no longer had time to search for Barca-related news and someone took over the account

    3. I have no idea on this thing called twitter.

      I do look at barcastuff from time to time, and he seems reasonably accurate with his info. Not sure if it’s an official source, but he gets the info PDQ.

  15. I look at the leads over the two Madrid teams under the lens of “over-performing” and “under-performing”.

    If Atletico are doing better than we’d expect, I’d want them to beat EE, because over time they’ll revert to their expected record and we’d still be in front.

    If EE are doing worse than we’d expect, I’d also want them to lose, because you need to build up a cushion before they revert to their expected record and win 15 games in a row.

    To think over the course of a long season with results that are at least somewhat determined by luck.

    1. That’s a reasonable approach. The tricky part of course is what to base those expectations on. In other words, at what point do results from this season thus far start to outweigh performances from the more distant past?

      It’s something of a catch-22 that this derby’s outcome will be so telling about that. Looked at that way, then you should be unhappy with the outcome whatever it is. 😉

  16. Just to say: I like the intelligent answers Tito gives in Interviews and press conferences.

    1. Yeah, he’s got a bit of a wry-verging-on-sarcastic streak. I particularly enjoyed this recent one when he was asked about the Madrid derby:

      “If we win, any of the 3 results will be good for us. If we lose, any of the 3 results will be bad for us.”

  17. my line up for tomorrow


    montoya masch puyol adriano
    sergi roberto, thiago
    pedro villa tello


  18. Deolofou shouldnt be playing with barca B, lets not liken this guy to another bojan, from what i’ve read on paper this guy would be making key appearances elsewhere…though as star studded as we are, deolofou needs to mix it with the big boys…and for those urging for his sale how would you like to engage in another exhaustive transfer saga for what used to be free?…he should be getting more minutes…now theres a certain zaha emerging from england when it really should be deolofou(God help me with the spelling, thanks) of barcelona, saw him sometimes back and he was superb…if he needs to mature it definitely isnt with the B team

    1. I actually think that Barca B is the perfect place for him to mature. The B team play competitively week in week out against tough defenders and rough tactics. He has physically improved immensely over the past 2 or 3 seasons, from a slight youngster to a strong young man.
      He needs to be playing 30-40 games a year and wouldn’t be doing that with the first team. Also, he gets to train with the senior team every now and then, for CL and Copa matches.
      If he were to get thrown in to the first team, the weight of expectations would probably hinder his progress as it normally does to our youth teamers. Messi is the exception, not the rule

    2. Yes and no. For now he should remain with Barça B, but if he really is as talented as people say he is he should get more minutes with the first team.

      And that’s the “problem”. People – in Sport and EMD – are already saying that he is that good, which only increases the pressure on Barcelona to give him 1st team playing time.

      If he is, fine. But if he’s not? Or if he’s simply not ready? And what really complicates things is that we have so many young talent that needs to be given minutes to develop.

      Tello has really improved since last season imo. So much that Cuenca, who I used to like a lot more, will need to prove himself all over again. Villa has not looked too happy about not playing that much either. Plus we have Pedro and Lexus.

      And if we are to believe the reports, Neymar will become available this summer and we have first choice. He is (or not) a future world player of the year…

      Too much talent, not enough minutes. Somebody’s gonna get sold next summer.

    3. Levon, Lets look at who Barcelona Football Bloggers would be ok with selling. Based on the names you’ve provided above and assuming we sign Neymar, who should we sell. I’m 100% behind signing Neymar. The kid is THAT good! So, we have Neymar, Tello, Cuenca, Pedro, Alexis, Villa, Deolofou, and don’t forget Afellay. I have voiced my opinion of selling Villa. The time is right and we won’t get anymore $$$ for him if he stays. Age and injuries will take their toll. Alexis, such a conundrum. Will he eventually come good and be a goal scoring threat we need him to be, or was that never in the cards for him? He never was a poacher in Italy. His raw talent and athletic ability are 2nd to none. He’s one of our best defenders and hustlers, but is bottling some easy goals. Pedro, he’s in another drought for us, but he’s been on fire for ESPANA! Like Alexis, he hustles and plays defense relentlessly. His tracking back helps Messi rest and his intelligent non-stop running open up gaps for Messi, Cesc, Iniesta, etc. to play through. He doesn’t get to the end line enough for me and I don’t think he ever will. Tello, from what he’s showed us this season and last, he as the potential to be a world beater. I think he’s 15-20 goals(maybe more) a season waiting to happen. His directness and speed open up parked buses which seems to be all we are playing these days. His age is a plus as well. Cuenca, unfortunately, he’s fallen in the pecking order b/c of his serious injury. Lets not forget that he came in last year when we were decimated by injuries and played extremely well. He helped us regain momentum and challenge for the title after all seemed lost. His versatility is amazing and potential as good as any youngster in the game. It’s almost a wait and see approach with him. Deolofou, nobody’s questioning his talent. The kid has loads and if he were to realize his potential the lineup of Deolofou, Messi, Neymar would be pretty scary! The question is his head and attitude. Is he a CR7 in the making? Me 1st attitude? Another Bojan? To much to soon because of impatience? Time will tell. Last but not least, Afellay. He’s playing extremely well with Schalke in the Bundesliga. He has said he still wants to prove himself here and I don’t think he’s been given a fair shot. Inconsistent playing time and injuries forced him out this season. He had a pretty good Euro’s and was playing fantastically before the Euro’s. He is a great kid with a great attitude. He’s not getting any younger though. I don’t think his wages are that high and not sure what kind of transfer fee we’d get.
      Based on the above and anyone else’s input, who do we sell? I think Villa and Pedro and maybe a third. My reasons are simple. Transfer fee’s. They would command the largest fee’s possible. I would hate to see Pedro go and I think he’s been essential to our team this year, but he’s not putting in the goals we need from him. He does so much more, which makes it a hard decision for me, but he’s taking time away from Tello, Alexis, Cuenca(when he returns), and any other La Masia grad coming through. His transfer fee would be anywhere from $10-20 million, maybe more. I think Alexis’s upside is to great to give up on him yet. Tello definitely stays and so does Cuenca. Villa goes and I wouldn’t mind him going in Jan. He’s scored goals and proven he’s back so his transfer fee should be decent. I would have to say Afellay as well. Based on his performances for Schalke we should get a good fee for him. His age is a concern and his previous injuries. I feel bad because he never got a fair shot at making our team, but them’s the breaks. 🙁

    4. Afellay is not coming back. Was extremely unlucky to get injured last year bc he would have gotten loads of playing to prove himself, but whenever he did play / start he never lived up to his potential. Plus I, of course, was less than impressed with any Dutch players at the last Euro.

      For anyone else it’s too early to tell, but just to answer your question let’s say we want to keep 6 forwards and obviously Messi is untouchable so we would have to sell 2 if Neymar comes.

      Deulofeu stays. We need to find out how good he can be before we even consider selling him. I also think he will be promoted to the first team next season.

      I would love for Villa to stay and evolve towards the Larsson role, but I don’t know whether he would want that or if we can afford that, salarywise.

      Tello is a keeper. Lots of upside, and he already offers something NO other Barça player does right now…EXCEPT for maybe Neymar so if we get the mohawk Tello might face an uphill battle.

      Cuenca like I said will have to prove himself this year, which he just might do, and if he does he also gives us quite a unique skill set, albeit one with a major flaw: he doesn’t score.

      Alexis has both the potential to be a great, great player for Barça and to be a great bust. He needs to stop getting injured and get out of his scoring slump and overall he needs to prove he can adapt to the position we bought him for. If he doesn’t he’s out before his contract is up.

      Pedro baffles me. He needs to get back to being Pedrinho or Pedro(!) and find the net on a regular basis like he used to. His goals for Spain were against inferior opposition and as such don’t impress me. If he doesn’t get back to his old self maybe we should sell him instead of Alexis. We can’t sell both because their hustle and defensive strengths are invaluable – with our midget midfield and high-playing defensive line we need somebody doing the dirty work.

      But again, it’s too early to tell right now.

    5. Good analysis. I would like to see (somewhat reluctantly) Villa swapped for Vertonghen. We have surplus attackers and need defensive backup. I don’t know about Tottenham’s defensive depth, but they sure as hell could use Villa right about now. Still on the fence about Pedro.

    6. I reckon, the club will sell Cuenca instead of Pedro, alongwith Villa.

      Sandro it seems, is hellbent to get Neymar. I just worry that the kid gives up his diving. He’s superfluous in antics with all his talent. Busi has toned that down quite much, and I fell very happy with that. We don’t need much of it anymore.

  19. Oh, regarding the winner of the Madrid derby, I always loved the antimadrista scarves. Its on my shopping list for the trip. Seems pretty simple to me.

  20. It would do well if we all calmed down and not get ahead of ourselves..the season is long and our lead is short..tis’ better we focus on our own then worry about the results of others..

  21. Off topic: i always thought Giovanni dos santos would have been great if we had just increased that damned salary…the guy never seize to amuse me at NT…What a great talent wrongly spent.

    1. I watched him during the Rayo-Mallorca game on the weekend which Rayo won 2-0.

      Sure he was great at regaining some balls BUT he hardly ventured further back than the halfway line, and strolled back and forth only bothering to tackle if he could do so from behind and strip the ball off an unsuspecting player. Going forward, he was largely ineffective and too easily dispossessed of the ball.

      Work ethic is not strong. You can see it in a lot of players who will give it their all and will be out there thinking about what they’re doing – not Gio.

      If he works his ass off at NT level but doesn’t bother at club level (who’s paying you, baby?), his priorities are somewhat askew. He strikes me as one of these players who plays his best when he knows that there’s a bigger audience watching – just so that he can perhaps be courted by a bigger club which will offer him a sweeter deal.

      I wish him well, but the club could not bow to his demands and give him a salary that was out of scale with the other players – especially those more loyal and better than him.

  22. Barca didnt have an intense work ethics at the time and he would have changed with pep, totenham really did a number on him he was our brightest prospect at the time…a dinho in the making…i just fear for jonathan though that kid isnt barca class

    1. the dinho in the making part…is why he was sent packing. in fact he might have even been infected by dinho — too much partying, not enough commitment to training, not a strong enough work ethic. potentially disruptive in the dressing room. he was sent away for a reason. we dont miss him.

      that said, i would love to see him succeed elsewhere.

  23. hey! unfair! why do we have to play on wednesday and then on saturday! RM got to play their copa match on tuesday! conspiracy! should we join the mourinho support group for whiners? nahhh….

    1. i for one am excited to watch…

      if we win, we play cordoba in octavos, as they have just eliminated Real Sociedad. this bodes well for us…

  24. I thought it was a great idea to have an ex-footballer leading the charge. Therefore I’ve always supported Platini. Unfortunately, he keeps making me regret.

    Michel Platini has said that expanding the Champions League to 64 teams and scrapping the Europa League is an option amid a wide-ranging debate over the future of its club competitions.

    Why can’t he just keep it as it is? Or improve the CL by reducing the teams? Europa League is fine to me. It is pretty tough and even.

    A few hilarious comments from the Guardian blog;

    This might give us the chance to end the debate if Messi/Barcelona can do it against Stoke on a grey, miserable, snowy, and a wet Wednesday against Stoke!!


    Hurray! Arsenal can finish in 7th and still keep that Champions League qualifying streak intact!

  25. Interesting read, from Graham Hunter

    Real Madrid 1-3 Atletico Madrid, October 1999. It was the last time the Rojiblancos defeated their dominant neighbours — a time before Tweeting, Facebook, Trending, Sub-Prime, Kardashians, Tea Party and the Special One.

    Atletico won that match, thrillingly, causing John Toshack to be sacked as Madrid manager, had the Liga top scorer (Pichichi) in Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, but still ended the season relegated. Meanwhile Real Madrid appointed a promising young buck called Vicente Del Bosque, lifted the European Cup in Paris less than six months later and immediately began the Galactico era.


  26. The Barcastuff guy is an insider if not an official source. He had the expected line up, exactly as the official line up, posted at least half an hour before the official lineup was announced.
    On top of that this guy had the tickets for tonights game. And he has the tickets for a lot of Barca games that he posts on twitter.

  27. Barcelona line-up (official): Pinto – Montoya Puyol Mascherano Adriano – DosSantos Song SergiRoberto – Tello Villa Thiago

    This could be good. Seems very strong defensively. Would’ve done P a load of good to get a goal here.

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