Off the news (or what some call news)


–You see that face? The locks? Like it? Good, because bet cash money you’re going to be seeing it tonite, as the Gamper could turn into Kid Time. Gai Assulin 31 has been called up, as well as Thiago (yay!) 34, centerback Marc Bartra 26 and right back Martin Montoya 29. This is, of course, in addition to Johnny DS, Fontas, Muniesa and Jeffren, who should also see some time. The bold-face number beside each kid’s name is so that ye will know them by the shirt when they come on.

–Abidal and Henry are continuing their treatment, so look for that to be a match-time decision as to whether they see any time. Guardiola’s mood makes it abundantly clear that this is a pre-season match for the club, with the real emphasis being on the UEFA Super Cup that looms. Look for him to use players accordingly.

–“I am Mr. Rourke, your host. Welcome to Fannnntasy Island!” EMD says that we have struck a deal with Arsenal for Fabregas. They’re listing the story in the “top secret” file, as in “This crap is made up, but if we keep saying it, it might come true.” If Arsenal get knocked out by Celtic next Champions League match day, something about as likely as me sprouting wings and flying to Camp Nou for tonight’s match, Fabregas comes this summer. Otherwise he comes next year, for a number between 30 and 35 million.

Sport doesn’t have a crazy-ass “Top Secret” file, so they’re just saying that we’re still working at matters Spendy Catalan Canterian.

Two weeks to go in transfer season, and it just don’t stop!

–Cygrynskiy and Mata are still on the wish list. No. Really. We swear, says EMD. The fact that it’s not in the “top secret” files means that there might be a shard of truth, even though we already know that the former is Cup-tied, while the latter is officially marked Not For Sale by Valencia, a club whose heart doesn’t exactly spark with joy at the mention of FC Barcelona, right? Courtesy of l’affaire Villa.

–Even EMD is wondering about “the real Hleb,” still treating him as if he is in fact a player on loan, instead of a whiny little douchebag whom we will never see in the colors again. Kxevin says: Look at the competition. If he could do that against real clubs, he’d still be at Arsenal, never mind still being in Barcelona.

–Remember Victor Vasquez? Yes you do. He’s being haunted by the ghost of Milito, unfortunately. He’s been in recovery from his knee injury for 7 months now. He can shoot, but running causes pain. And you kinda need to do a little of that in footyland. Bummer. The kid’s a talent, for sure.

–Alex Song was offered to us? Sure, why not, right? Sport says that we’re still considering it, though you have to imagine that if a shrewd operator such as Wenger is offering a player, it’s for a reason.

–A grownup news/information site, ESPN Soccernet, has comments from the agent of Vidic, who was all but on a plane to us if you believe some media. “Massive, festering bollocks. Apparently, crack is still a problem in Catalunya.” Hmph. Okay. Maybe not. But, instead of “It would be a dream for Nemanja to play for Barcelona. He would be delighted to join them, as he wants to play in La Liga,” the real translation was “Nemanja is happy in Manchester. If Barcelona do make an offer for him then it is up to United to make a decision.” Said agent, Paolo Fabbri, adds “I never said those things,” regarding his above comment. He later added “And if Mr. Eto’o wouldn’t mind returning the jock that he faked my client out of in Rome, that would be most helpful.”

–The Gamper match has a start time of 22:00 Barcelona time, an hour that I recall with much joy….not! Baby Kxevin needs his rest, and trust me, the post-match race for a taxi to scurry over to La Rambla to find something, anything to eat is not a joy. But expect at least 20 minutes of pre-match hoohah, featuring adorable Catalan young’uns, gymnasts and confetti and stuff. Still no word on U.S. television, which means that we’ll all be perched in front of our computer screens, as we were for the SuperCopa match.

–Finally, something to whet appetites for this evening/afternoon/morning (depending on where you are in the world):


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Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. August 19, 2009

    PS Apparently Adebayor and Woodgate are out for this one. They picked up knocks in their game last weekend and Citeh wants them ready for the EPL this weekend.

    If Henry is even slightly injured, I want to see me some Pedrito on the left with Messi and the Zlatan. Don’t risk Titi. Maybe asking for some Xavi is too much at this point (why risk him?) but I want to see him with Zlatan as well.

    How sweet would this lineup look in the second half?

    Gai, Bojan, and FF up top, Thiago, JDS, and Busi at midfield, Muniesa (he can play left back too), Fontas, Batras, and Montoya in the back.

    All cantera, baby.

  2. Kxevin
    August 19, 2009

    Anybody have lineup predictions? Here’s mine:

    —————-The Yaya————–Dos Santos——

    No, I don’t think that Messi is going to start, but he will be subbed on. That way it keeps butts in the seats for the full match time.

    No Adebayor is good news.

  3. eklavya
    August 19, 2009


    ———-The YAYA————–Dos Santos——

    Why not?

  4. Achraf
    August 19, 2009

    Yo kxevin didn’t answer is henrique in for this game i fhe’s not that’s it for poor henrique if bartras gets the nod ahead of him

  5. Kxevin
    August 19, 2009

    No squad list yet, but I can’t imagine that Adriano (heh, heh) will be in the lineup. Guardiola seems to have bumped the kids in front of him.

    eklavya, I like that lineup. I could even see the match starting with that group.

  6. August 19, 2009

    I’m betting that he’s already been fined and talked to. And he will expect that, because that’s how the group rolls.

    As a note: The new site means that posts with links have to be approved by an admin (Hector, Isaiah, Tarun, me) before it shows up. So if you pose a question as part of a comment that contains a link, it isn’t that we’re ignoring the question. It’s just that whole spam business.

    On the down side, there’s a slight delay. On the up side, no Football Fraternity comments.

    I did see that, eklavya. Let’s all wish him the best. The more the merrier in this big Barca land of ours.

  7. eklavya
    August 19, 2009

    Of course I’m the God spam so they never touch me 😀
    Not in the offside not here mwuahaha!!

  8. Achraf
    August 19, 2009

    Ok I am confused who’s kevin and who’s kxevin isn’t kxevin who writes reviews some clarification please

  9. Kxevin
    August 19, 2009

    Kevin is the admin voice of Kxevin, great admirer of Txiki B. Kxevin comments, as he wallows in the proletarian joys of being part of the masses, donning his admin hat only for posts and “official” communiques.

    Rock. 😀

  10. Achraf
    August 19, 2009

    Oh so its your uptight alter-ego now I get it well stick with kxevin its better

  11. Jnice
    August 19, 2009

    So unlucky for Victor Vazquez, who like I’ve said 10x before (sorry but he is good) would have been promoted to the first team this summer had he not been injured. He was great last preseason. Had he not been so integral to Barça Atletic, I think he would’ve been promoted last summer. Hopefully his career doesn’t fall off track.

  12. Eduard
    August 19, 2009

    I hope Zlatan’s behavior today doesn’t foreshadow any in the future. Hopefully its a one time thing.

  13. gv
    August 19, 2009

    can’t wait for the game, but it means that it’ll be shown at 4:00 am here. arg!

    looks like pep’s looking if he can promote more younglings for this season. hope we can see a jds and thiago midfield.

    i just hope we win, coiz if not, the english press would really get on us even if we play with our b team.

  14. Cesc Pistol
    August 19, 2009

    I’d just like to say that I’m the one that got mega-hectored by posting in the Gamper preview. Here’s what I said, in response to Hector and Ramzi saying they didn’t know about Fontas at all:

    You guys surprise me once more, I agree that while Fontas was not one of the famous ones he was definitely known. He even played in the Copa Catalunya match against Sant Andreu which we lost 3-1and he assisted the first goal scored by Busquets. This was supposed to be played by our ’senior team’.

    Anyhow, I just checked out that last season the attendance for the Gamper was 71,210. While it’s much lower than what we had against Inter (98,599) I would think that it’s not really that bad at all. No? Hoping for a good game, a good stream and a goal from Ibra.

    To which I’d like to add that if you had asked me about Fontas a year ago, I’d have said “maybe but you know how it is with defenders, they take time to mature” but had you asked me about Muniesa (who seems so good that he jumped from Cadete A to becoming one of the youngest in Juvenil A to now jumping to be a bright young star with the senior team. Absurd!)
    I’d have have said “Who?!” then perhaps on someone telling me about him and saying “the new Puyol” I’d have said “Oh, yeah heard about him, jumped straight from Cadete to Juvenil A, btw I hate those tags and don’t expect him to be near the first team anytime soon, he’s too young, specially for a defender”

    We all know what happened next.

  15. yogi
    August 19, 2009

    I think Guardiola will have Messi and Ibrahimovic together on the field. They have not played together even once and with return leg against Bilbao coming up, i expect him to give them a chance for some time together.

    Maybe both of them will be on for second half.

  16. Cesc Pistol
    August 19, 2009

    Just like to add that when I say “maybe” in regard to Fontas it means ” I’m exctied by this guy but I’m gonna put on the cautious face and not say so” 😀

  17. Jnice
    August 19, 2009

    Eduard, even Xavi and Messi were late to training before. It happens and gets dealt with.

    CP, even EMD and Sport seemed a bit surprised about the rise of Fontas. You have to remember, Ramzi and Hector probably do not follow the B team as much as you do, so sometimes players like Fontas get lost in the mix.

  18. eklavya
    August 19, 2009

    He’s not just a big, giant weirdo but also a France NT supporter…can you believe it? OMG! Look its actually the National team trezeguet’s ghost in disguise! !OM-OMG!!
    Here’s put in the “x” so that he can haunt Txiki for not buying him last season….


  19. eklavya
    August 19, 2009

    Kxevin why the debut of the World’s Biggest Attacking Midfielder? Is JDS particularly tall or something?


  20. Kxevin
    August 19, 2009

    Allons enfants de patrie/La jour de gloire/Est arrive! 😀

    I’m not too worried about the Ibrahimovic thing. 2 minutes is a couple of stoplights in Barcelona. There have been no previous issues, and he’s had lots of practices and meetings where such things would have manifested themselves, were they going to.

  21. Helge
    August 19, 2009

    I wanna lose some words about Hleb:
    I’ve seen him play on a regular basis from 2000 to 2008. From 2000 to 2005 he played at Stuttgart and every weekend I’ve seen him in the review of the playday (on free TV). When he moved to Arsenal in 2005, I saw most matches live via pay TV. At Stuttgart, he was each season one of the best if not the best player and his dribbling skills were quite impressive. His popularity in Germany (not only in Stuttgart) was comparable to the one of Rafael van der Vaart or Diego and he gained this popularity because there have not been many players in the Bundesliag who even had the guts to take on 2 or 3 players at the same time.
    At Arsenal, he developed his skills further and I bet Wenger was everything but happy to see him leave (it’s the Arsenal way to make players really good and then have to sell them because they have financial problems since building the Emirates Stadium. This will also be true for Cesc, but not yet this season. Well, Hleb has already been a strong player before joining Arsenal, but they simply couldn’t resist the money we offered, just like ManCity’s money this season).
    Anyway, the goal Hleb scored against Timisoara was not unusual for him. Now he might has lost fitness during his year at Barca, but you usually don’t lose talent (maybe Ronaldinho did, I’m not sure, but the exception proves the rule). He just didn’t work at Barca – literally and figuratively.
    Nevertheless you should respect his quality which he will – I am pretty sure about that – show again at Stuttgart this season. And you should also not underestimate the Bundesliga, it has made the biggest step forward during the last 3 years of all European top leagues. Did the Premier League or La Liga really develop (as a whole league) during the last years? I doubt it. And Seria A definitely has taken some steps back. So I beg you (all the Hleb critics), do neither deny Hleb’s quality nor claim the Bundesliga is weak if Hleb’s got success at Stuttgart now.
    And if Hleb also fails in Stuttgart, feel free to blame me ’til the end of my life – or yours 🙂

  22. Kxevin
    August 19, 2009

    Da Yaya, eklavya. If we can believe Guardiola, that is.

  23. Kxevin
    August 19, 2009

    I’ll accept that, Helge, even if the grumbly cule in me doesn’t want to. Like a lover scorned, I think that I feel the situation in a partucilarly acute manner because of my incessant defense of him (which Jason reminded me of, back then).

  24. Kxevin
    August 19, 2009

    But I do think that players who are that valuable, you slap a price tag on ’em that dissuades anyone from even thinking about it. Ronaldinho wasn’t affordable until we didn’t want to keep him. Before that, his buyout was Messiesque in its stratospheric quality.

    Hleb has talent. We all know that. I have no idea why he started so well, then rarely showed after his return from injury.

    And I’m sure if he sets Stuttgart on fire, we’ll be kicking ourselves for letting him go, and not being able to buy him back.

  25. Achraf
    August 19, 2009

    Ah Ronaldinho…

    That takes me back and I am still deperately searching for an answer as to how a two time world player can sink so d*low. I watch milan games just to look at him yet he always dissappoints i can understand why he isn’t making those magical runs anymore cuz he lost fitness and speed (polite way to say fatass) but his creativity and ability to spot a run and deliver an inch perfect pass. I can’t see how he lost that maybe eyesight problem but that much talent can’t disappear overnight even due to a lack of fitness

  26. Achraf
    August 19, 2009

    And I don’t understand why you guys act as if there is absolutely NO chance hleb will play for us again its only a LOAN people he could come back and play like he is born to or we can cash in on him

  27. Jnice
    August 19, 2009

    Well, Achraf, Hleb himself basically said he is coming back. And if we were thinking of bringing him back, it would have to mean that he played well in Germany, which means that Stuttgart will probably pay the fee and sign him.

    “Barca were my dream club as a kid, but I couldn’t continue with them if the chance to play was not coming. I’m 28 and who knows how much time I’ve left in the game. I needed to move on and the chance to go back to a place that I feel happy in was the best solution.”

    Doesn’t seem like someone who is coming back.

  28. Achraf
    August 19, 2009

    Ya I agree but if he truly has an inspired season he could return unless stutggart have an option to buy with a set fee which is what I think ur saying

  29. OhYes
    August 19, 2009

    Because even if we wanted to sell him, only a loan would make sense. He rarely played for Barca, and when he did, he didn’t play well. How much money to teams regularly pay for something like that?

    Even if he does well, it’s easy to predict he’ll be sold after that just so everyone can move on.

    His negative comments didn’t help him much, either.

  30. Achraf
    August 19, 2009

    Ya his media outburst only further exacerbated the already unstable relationship between him and the club and fans

  31. Kevo
    August 19, 2009


    Did you know that Andres Iniesta, when he was infant, was a fan of Real Madrid?

    The story goes, when he was young his first team was Albacete and then moved to Barcelona. One day, Barcelona beat Albacete 7-0 and he was infuriated by it that he switched to Real Madrid.

  32. Eduard
    August 19, 2009

    if anyone checks out the who’s among us link, there’s a spy from Madrid. I really have to censor what I say here now

  33. Jnice
    August 19, 2009

    I knew that, Kevo. I think he addressed that when he went on that Jay Leno equivalent late night show in Spain a couple of months ago.

  34. Jnice
    August 19, 2009

    I think he was like 9 or 10 at the time.

  35. Cesc Pistol
    August 19, 2009

    LOL Eduard, there are Barca fans in Madrid you know 😉

    @ Yep Kevo, I read that in an interview of his. or maybe on his site, not sure. BTW Everyone has seen Iniesta’s site I hope?

    @Hleb situation: Firstly, let’s not jump the gun after a few performances.

    Secondly, though I agree with Helge that the Bundesliga is doing extremely well and if thins continue it will become better than Serie A and also that Hleb was always a good dribbler, though I haven’t seen him as much as you have, I’ve seen alot highlights etc. too.

    But you have to realize that defenses in Bundesliga are hardly of top level. Even the top teams look very average in defense. It’s why Bundesliga is more entertaining to watch but it also makes attackers look better than they really are. And personally, I never wanted Hleb at the club (even when we there only rumours of his transfer) because all he can offer is more of the same but at a lower level and also missing some important things in his game. So I don’t want him back either.

    BTW is there any mention of Ibra arriving late in EMD/Sport?
    I don’t trust this Swedish paper, I’m not sure but I think it’s the same one that published alot of lies about Ibra before.
    Either way I wont put much thought into it, I don’t doubt all of us have been late at some time or the other, right? And it wasn’t because of lack of commitment.

  36. ElShowDeJason
    August 19, 2009

    When i was 9 or 10, i wanted to be an astronaut. I now realize what a stupid idea that was.

    kids have dumb ideas.

    I don’t know if any of you watch Fox Football Fone-in, or listen to their radio show, but Nick (or is it steve) said that he was a Tottenham fan, and when he was a little boy Tottenham beat Chelsea 4-0, and he felt bad for them, and ever since has supported Chelsea

    I started following Barca because when i was 12 or 13, my brother used to use R.Madrid on Fifa 02, and not knowing much about European soccer, i didnt bother switching teams, so I always played as their default rivals: Barcelona. Not an impressive or inspiring story, but most of us on this side of the world don’t have European footy passed down. so we simply watch alot of it and choose a team that we like.

    I think it doesn’t matter how you come to support a team. As long as you give everything once you have chosen one.

  37. August 19, 2009

    Anyone want to volunteer to run the liveblog today? I am not going to be able to run it and won’t even be able to watch the game at all…

    eklavya? Corrine? Bueller?

  38. Helge
    August 19, 2009

    CP, you’re right, “aftonbladet” is at loggerheads with Ibra since some years. Ibrahimovic doesn’t give any interviews to aftonbladet anymore, there has been one certain incident which led to this situation. But unfortunately, I can’t remember…

    And I didn’t see a news about it on EMD / Sport, but I just checked their main page.

  39. ElShowDeJason
    August 19, 2009

    Not that i am volunteering… but why is it that you cannot watch?

    is it the whole “day job” business?

  40. Tutomate
    August 19, 2009

    Someone said that everyone s a EE fan when they are litlle kids, then they grow up and know better and switch to Barça.

  41. OhYes
    August 19, 2009

    Is it odd that I’ve always hated Real Madrid with a passion? Even when I was a tiny young child I hated them.

    Isaiah: I can run the liveblog today. 🙂

  42. Vj
    August 19, 2009

    It took a Ronaldo (the one and only one) wonder goal to make me start following Barca.. the rest is history..

  43. August 19, 2009

    Jason, yeah, it’s that whole job nonsense. Plus it’s Wednesday and Wednesday is my after-work soccer day.

  44. ElShowDeJason
    August 19, 2009

    Well, i’ve never liked the EE, but i suppose for a kid in Spain, i can see why they could.

    and then like tutomate said, the naive young things grow up, mature, and come to their senses.

    Thats why you have to start young. My nephew who just turned one already has his whole 08-09 “Henry 14” kit that will fit him next year.

    so when he tells his story, he’ll just say that he had a crazy uncle that passed forced him to follow Barca!

    I also hated Madrid because Hugo Sanchez played for them, i follow the Mexican national team, but i hate Hugo Sanchez. (yeah… who would thought)

    good luck on the cover-it-live OhYes, try to watch some of the game in between all the moderation!

  45. Alex
    August 19, 2009

    Anyone able to see the lasexta feed of the EE game>?

  46. Cesc Pistol
    August 19, 2009

    Ah, thanks for the confirmation Helge. Goes to show why one shouldn’t bother with such things.

    BTW Since you did go on to their site I hope you found that currently the annual general assembly of members is taking place. This is something everyone should take note of. I would personally love if we can have a whole post dedicated to it where we discuss all the statutes and other things mentioned there today.

  47. Achraf
    August 19, 2009

    the feed they’re giving isn’t working 4 me alex

  48. Alex
    August 19, 2009

    SHIT, this feed better work for BARCA

  49. OhYes
    August 19, 2009

    Alternatively, Iggy from our old home said he was running a liveblog; we can hang out over there.

  50. OhYes
    August 19, 2009

    Scratch that.. he said he would do liveblogs, but he didn’t say he’d do it for this one.

  51. Kxevin
    August 19, 2009

    There was a video link posted re: Ibrahimovic being late. Rumor was that he was in the house, having the bandage changed on his hand, and it took a bit longer than expected.

    Thanks for running the LiveBlog, OhYes. FYI, everyone, it’s a task that we like to entrust to others. Everyone has a hand in running the space, and making it a cool one.

    Thanks again, OhYes.

    And good news! The UEFA SuperCup will definitely be on Fox Soccer. Yay!

  52. Vj
    August 19, 2009

    Finally we get to see the BAS.. Lets see if he lives up to his billing in his first match itself..

  53. OhYes
    August 19, 2009

    No problem.. Do i e-mail you or Isaiah?

  54. Kxevin
    August 19, 2009

    E-mail me, OhYes. I’m setting up the post/link now.

  55. Marat
    August 20, 2009

    Kevin (or Kxevin: are you the same?)
    You know who else badmouths people who are not/no longer ‘on the team’? Immature, insecure, high-school-level dummies.
    I’m neither a Stuttgart fan, nor particularly attached to Hleb. However, he is a world-class player, even if he didn’t fit (at that particular time) into the Barca squad. Just because he left Barca and still plays well, doesn’t mean he’s an open target for some jackass like yourself.
    What is the point of calling him a “whiny little douchebag”. That would be the perfect description for you.
    I started following this site yesterday, somewhat in awe of the terrific post by Hector. I sure hope partisan idiots like “Kevin”/”Kxevin” don’t rule the roost around here.

  56. Jnice
    August 20, 2009

    Marat, personal attacks are a no-no. Take that shit elsewhere.

  57. ivax
    August 21, 2009

    guys if you hav any doubts abt iniesta still harboring secret love for r madrid just check his new house its a virtual barca museum a closet madridista wouldnt last 2 secs living there!

    and yea aftonwahtev sucks ibra hates it with all his guts after they published smth totally made up all those yrs ago and since then hes said abt 3 words to their ppl: get effin lost.

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