blitzen awards

So a terrible thing happened in Boston today, and we don’t yet know who is responsible, except that whoever they are, they are Very Bad People. Sadly it seems that terrible things happen all too frequently these days, and innocent people get hurt. I know I speak for everyone in this small corner of the internet in sending our condolences to the families of the victims and our sympathy to everyone else affected. I don’t know if we have any members who were in the Boston area, but if so I hope you are well.

But life goes on, even when bad things happen. So in that spirit, I offer you a few blitzen awards in the hope that they will allow you to forget your tribulations for at least a few moments.

Cloud Nine Award: NINE! That is the number of points Barça needs to sew up the league (assuming that our closest rivals win all the rest of their games, which may or may not happen). This means that if we win our next three games (Levante, Athletic Bilbao, Real Betis), we will face Atletico Madrid as league winners in their house. Sweet. Even sweeter would be if RM drops points so we can lift the league cup at the Camp Nou when we face Betis.

Nine Tenths Of The Law Award: As of Sunday, Barça has gone 300 games in a row with more than 50% of possession of the ball. That stretches back to May 7, 2008. Almost 5 years. Think about that. We take it for granted these days that Barça will dominate possession, but that wasn’t always the case. Something so fundamental to this team’s philosophy, but it was Pep (and Tito!) who insisted on it.

MOTM Award: They are calling this the TNT match, for the brilliant performances from both Thiago and Tello, but I have to give the edge to Thiago. Aside from the first 10 minutes or so, he had this game on lockdown. He was calm, controlled and confident, and was even more composed on the ball than Xavi. He wasn’t afraid to charge forward when he had the opportunity, and his goal was a thing of beauty. Thiago takes a lot of criticism around here, but he showed what he is capable of.

Hundreds and Thousands Award: Our Swiss army knife Adriano celebrated his 100th game playing for Barça yesterday! Next week he plans to celebrate his 100th injury.

Messindependencia Award: Our little Tellociraptor plays much better when Messi isn’t yelling at him, don’t you think? 😛

Hallelujah He’s a Bum Award: Thiago and Dani Alves both went for the unshaven look and had good games, while Cesc was uncharacteristically smooth and was pretty much invisible. Coincidence? I think not. They stole Cesc’s HoboMojo!

Who Likes Short Shorts? Award: Alexis Sanchez, who in the latter half of the game tucked up his shorts to show off his thighs. He knows what the ladies like!

Hakuna Matata Award: It’s the great circle of life. As one player nears the end of his career, so another one rises up to take his place. Our Lion King Puyol celebrated his 35th birthday this weekend and, while still unstoppable on his day, is likely never to be a regular starter again. Luckily we have young cub Simba Bartra, who put in a very assured performance on Sunday and showed that with playing time and the trust of his coaches he is not too shabby as a replacement.

Bee’s Knees Award: This one also goes to Bartra, for his “special” warm-up routine. He would fit right in with this team:

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Written by:

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


  1. nia
    April 16, 2013

    I feel sad for those who lost their lives and got injured in Boston due to people who have nothing better to do with their lives than to hurt others. I also feel relieved as well, as my sister was supposed to go to the marathon to support and thank the runners from Dana Faber Hospital for their help in trying to save her daughters life who unfortunately lost her life to leukemia last summer. It was a blessing she couldn’t go or I would have lost another family member to a senseless act of violence. God bless those families.

    Best Tweet Award: Tello was fined for speeding at La Romareda.

  2. ooga aga
    April 16, 2013

    if we win our next 3 matches, we clinch league even if RM wins all their games. so we can lift the league cup against Betis…after the game. maybe you meant before the game. 🙂

  3. ElJefe
    April 16, 2013

    Solidarity for our brothers in Boston. The only way we can be defeated is through fear and changing our way of life…go to a footy match, go to the next marathon in your town, walk the main drag.

    Great Tello goals tonight, he’s capable of beating defenders 1-on-1 which Villa and Cesc don’t seem either capable or interested in right now. Why is he not playing regularly?

  4. Obii
    April 16, 2013

    Hey blitzen, you mentioned lifting the cup before the season ends. If Barca are to win the league before the last home game of the season, do they also lift the trophy then? Or do they wait till the last game of the season to kick off celebrations?

  5. KEVINO17
    April 16, 2013

    No comment on the pitch, which was very strange. It made it look as if the ball didn’t have enough air in it.
    I think that if I hear another commentator (or someone on this blog, for that matter) say that Alexis doesn’t make good decisions, I will scream.
    Classic case: he gets the ball on the wing early in the game and he is waiting, waiting, waiting (which he is supposed to do) for a midfielder to crash the box. Eventually, Cesc turns up (nobody else) and cruises into the box with about three defenders shadowing him and Alexis tries to find him (and doesn’t, of course) and then is accused of being a bad decision-maker, when in fact his team-mates have not bothered to give him any options.
    Of course, Tello hit a lots of bad passes into the box, and they say nothing.
    Then, of course, Thiago makes a good run and Alexis nails him (for an assist) and they say nothing.
    The job of a commentator is to work out who is being victimised at the moment and then reinforce it. They are such sheep

    • April 16, 2013

      I thought Alexis had an excellent game, personally. He was active, involved, ran like a beast, and fed Thiago and Dani Alves the ball constantly.

      • KEVINO17
        April 17, 2013

        Agree, and I bet that the absence of “you know who” had something to do with it. He felt he could play more a la Chile. I’m sure Tito sent him out with instructions to show more individuality.

  6. April 16, 2013

    Straight From The Heart Award: Cesc debuted his new boots this week, with his daughter Lia’s name on them. That’s not unusual these days. But do you know what our captain did? Puyol has had boots made up featuring the name of his friend and former Liverpool/Betis player Miki Roque, who died of cancer last year. Puyol had a close friendship with Roque, and paid for his treatment. Grande Capi.

  7. Alexinho
    April 16, 2013

    Does anyone have a passing interest in tomorrow’s Copa Catalunya final vs. Nastic?

    Sure it’ll be a B-team lineup, but it’s an A-team match as scheduled, and for a trophy.

    Surprised there isn’t the slightest bit of buzz, even in a blog as devoted as this one.

    • April 16, 2013

      I am very interested in the game, although I will be unable to watch it (and it’s a semifinal, not a final). Unfortunately your trusty mods are spread a bit too thin at the moment due to circumstances beyond our control. I might have time to knock up a quick-and-dirty preview tonight, but if any of our readers would like to write something instead, you could send it to us at for appraisal.

    • barca96
      April 16, 2013

      Thanks for sharing Alex. I had no idea!

      • Alexinho
        April 17, 2013

        And I had no idea it was the semifinal and not the final–d’oh.

        Didn’t intend to sound like I was demanding a post, just surprised by the lack of comments about it.

        • April 17, 2013

          I’m not doing a preview, but I have posted a few thoughts on my twitter just now: @blitzen13

  8. ooga aga
    April 16, 2013

    it’s barely being mentioned on the official site as well, besides being on the calendar.

  9. barca96
    April 16, 2013

    Is your name by chance Lyndsey Blitz?

  10. barca96
    April 16, 2013

    Pretty disapppointed at the players for only mentioning the tragedy in US? Why do people always leave out the Asians? It’s as if the Western people’s lives are more valuable. Really pissed off man.

    • yassir
      April 16, 2013

      Exactly, in the Syrian conflict 70000 (yes seventy thousand) people were killed and 5 million are now homeless, not to mention rape and other atrocities, but i think there is a name for that, its called HYPOCRISY. many people actually practice it without knowing!!!!

      • It’s really complicated. I don’t think that the players care any less about any community. It may be that they are not exposed to the scale of tragedy like this way. For example a bomb blast in Hyderabad may not get that much exposure in Western media like the Boston blast did. So it may be normal.

    • April 16, 2013

      Let’s not get into a “which tragedy is worse” debate, please. The players (and the club) have on many occasions expressed their sympathy for the victims of various disasters/unfortunate events around the world, including in Asia. If they tweeted condolences for every bad thing that happened in every country they wouldn’t have any time left for football. Don’t make assumptions about who they care more or less about.

      Seriously, if I see any more comments on this, I will delete them. This is a football site.

      • April 16, 2013

        I won’t add to this debate since you don’t want to, but the opinions of the other commenters would interest me in such (delicate) topics, since we seem to have a above-average intelligence community. Yes, there are probably other places for this, but shutting off a debate so quickly seems to me like narrowing the range of topics that we could (casualy) mention, bit by bit.

        Sorry if this is an unpopular opinion, I’m just expressing my thoughts on when such instances occur. I’m fine with whatever way this blog is utilmately run/ handled.

        • April 16, 2013

          For me, the club contributes in many, many ways to humanitarian causes around the world. Players have mentioned things in the past, and will in the future. Yes, this is the most recent tragedy, but the story is a lot more complex.

          There was a mine collapse today in Ghana, an earthquake in Iran yesterday as well as more than 30 people killed in Iraq in bombing attacks.

          Our players aren’t the only ones using social media to express things about the Boston situation. And blitzen is right about the rest of the world and things that players do or don’t care about. We can’t possibly know.

          And just because they aren’t Tweeting about it doesn’t mean that they don’t care about it. Social media-izing something is functionally slacker activism anyhow. It doesn’t cost anything, excepting the infinitesimal amount of bandwidth that such activities require.

          A player tweets about the Boston bombing. Perhaps it’s because it happened at an athletic event, which gives it extra resonance. Perhaps it’s that stuff such as that doesn’t happen that often in the U.S. Who knows? Recall that Villa sent shirts and did fundraising stuff for the Chilean miners. Messi takes special pains to support disabled kids. Does this mean that he doesn’t care about other kids? Absolutely not.

          But I think that to get upset with any particular player because of condolences expressed for one thing vs another is getting jazzed up without knowing the entire story. For instance, look at Puyol, who covered the cost of Miki Roque’s cancer treatments, and is wearing the player’s name/number on his boots. Would I rather Puyol tweeted that “Cancer sucks,” or made the gesture that he did? That’s a no-brainer.

          People expect so much from athletes. Hell, who knows if it is even the athlete tweeting or Facebooking about something.

          As blitzen said, this isn’t about parsing tragedies or claiming that anyone’s is worse. It’s a simple expression of sympathy.

        • April 16, 2013

          We have been here before, Eklavya. The policy on this site is to restrict political discussions to how they affect the club. Casual mentions of events around the world are fine, but we are not going to get into a debate about which tragedies are more worthy of our (or our players’) attention than others. No one is going to benefit from that.

          If you or anyone else wants to know my personal views on various world events, you are free to contact me on twitter: @blitzen13

        • April 16, 2013

          I tend to agree with Eklavya. If the matter can be handled intelligently and delicately, why shouldn’t we discuss it here?

          The conversation so far doesn’t seem to break any site rules.

          • April 16, 2013

            The first two comments on the topic were not exactly delicate. But I guess you will do what you want.

          • April 16, 2013

            I would also like to believe that in the context of the explanations provided, the two precipitating comments will be tempered a bit.

    • April 17, 2013

      I can understand your disappointment. But I dont think if we can blame the players for this. I would rather say it is the media in the western countries – read US,Europe,Australia,Canada and even my India – make some issues look more important or the lives of people in some region more important than others.

      Suffering is part of life for Palestinians, ever since the occupation bombings are like sunrise/set in Iraq – on an average 10-25 innocents are killed everyday and many suffer from the daily US bombings in some parts of Pakistan, but these are not news anymore for mainstream media. Even in my own India there are so many events in which poor and the Muslim minority suffer but they dont get prominent space in the main stream media. If I didnt had the habbit of reading some good magazines, out of the mainstream, I would have never known that many atrocities against muslims,in India, are never investigated properly or punished if at all investigated. I would have never realised thousands of innocent muslims are languishing in various prisons across India. I remember, in the very recent past, when there was a devastating earth quake in Pakistan, it did not even make it into the main pages of most Indian newspapers for some days.

      But when there is a bombing in a major Indian city and majority community suffers, of course all react and celebrities too follow up.

      I think this is what has happened in the Boston case too.

  11. April 16, 2013

    I think the question of why certain players tweeted about the Boston marathon but not about deaths in Eastern countries brings up some interesting sociological questions, but I strongly disagree with the conclusion that the players are being biased, callous towards the east, or are somehow playing favorites with people’s lives. I’ll try to give a few of my thoughts:

    1. The Boston marathon is a sporting event, and therefore it is likely to have hit professional athletes close to home. Many of the runners are professionals – they run for a living, and it makes sense that other professional athletes would feel the weight of this tragedy. If you compare this to other tragedies around the world, many of the bombings and deaths in the middle east are politically and religiously motivated – although I acknowledge that they likely have the feel of life or death issues to those invested in them. The players are likely less personally involved in these issues, and it is a dangerous line to tread to express condolences without also expressing strong political or religious leanings – something the players likely want to avoid, and the club definitely wants the players to avoid.

    2. The common nature of tragedies in some middle eastern, African, Eastern, and even some South American countries leads to a certain numbness from people who aren’t experiencing these tragedies everyday. I’m not saying its right, but when you wake up safe and read that 30 people have died from a bombing in Syria almost everyday it is human nature to say “well, that’s another day in Syria.” People are more likely to be moved by disruptions in everyday living if it feels close to home because it feels like it could affect them. Europe and the United States have experienced relatively peaceful periods recently, and so any act of terror in these countries feels close to home for those who live in these countries.

    3. There may well be some bias towards the “more developed” nations, for lack of a better term. But these biases are structural and societal, not personal. If a person shows these biases unconsciously, do we blame the individual, or the society that shaped those biases? I for one would say we should be looking to effect change in the structural biases, and not blaming individuals.

    Those are a few of my thoughts. I don’t think it is fair to be mad at our players for expressing their condolences here – they have done the same for Chinese coal miners after a cave in. It is dangerous for them to be tweeting about more volatile situations such as those in Iraq or Syria. In the same way, I hope what I have said here doesn’t offend anyone – I have meant no offense, but that doesn’t mean I have succeeded in using the right words or phrasing things the right way.

    • April 16, 2013

      See? This is exactly what I meant in my comment above. Infact, crazily/ creepily enough (choose what you want) I had Calvin one of the people who’s opinion I was interested in.

      • April 16, 2013

        I also think that another matter is going to come up that is going to cause some complexity: The match that the club wants to play in Gaza. The club takes stands on various things, and as a blog about the club, there is a way to discuss those things. This space is more than mature enough where we can do so with respect and space for everyone’s opinion. Moderation cam come in as needed, or if things get out of hand.

    • Bill
      April 16, 2013

      I also think its how the news happens. Boston had live news media reporting on the event as it happened. That tends to have more of an impact than, say, the genocide in some place killed 3 million people last year. The earthquake in Japan had the same effect because it was happening at the same time we are getting the news. So was the one in Haiti.

      I imagine it is a tough thing using social media for celebrities, because if you show compassion for something, then people expect you to do the same for everything, and that’s hard to do.

      But on the other hand, I see where Barca96 is coming from. We all wish other tragedies around the world could be given as much attention as this one, not just from celebrities/athletes, but by everyone, especially the media.

  12. April 16, 2013

    To be clear: the debate I was trying to incite was most certainly not: “This tragedy vs. that tragedy: which one was worse, and why aren’t we talking about that one?”, why players only tweet about certain issues, all the political issues that surround them, and what all athletes should, or should not be doing, but rather *why* someone would think that some players tend to be biased/ not biased. I’m probably not clear here, but I’m more interested in – let’s say – the sociological study, than the political debate part of it. What Calvin wrote really sums up the kind of stuff I hoping to read: clear, neat, intelligent, no political extravaganza.

  13. April 16, 2013

    For exemple, I’d be interested in knowing why barca96 thinks that Asians seem to be left out most of the times, and why he feels that western lives appear to be more important (to whom exactly? The players? Athletes? People in general?), if he can explain so without creating any controversy (and I’m obviously not implying that any notion that makes anyone think that he does so on a regular basis, or anything like that). It could be that many others agree with/ share his opinion, and it would be interesting to know why such a number of people (if there is any) have this common belief, and then trying to understand the root of it.

    I don’t know if its just me, but I like try and dig inside the dirt and get to the core of why some people think/ believe certain things, and understanding the events that shape these thoughts. It gives a much better understanding of the person/ people, and utimately getting to understand each other’s point of view is what a debate is about, right? If that makes sense. I hope I haven’t derailed too much, or blown up a relatively small comment to something this big. So it happens that I write all of this on the night before my finals start. Yikes.

  14. ooga aga
    April 16, 2013

    just saw this:

    with regard to copa catalunya

    “El Club ya ha anunciado que disputará la semifinal con el Barça B de Eusebio Sacristán.”

    the club had already announced it would play the semifinal with Barca B.

  15. Bill
    April 16, 2013

    I was cautious about Tello’s talent previously. More specifically, if he had enough sports intelligence to know how to use his talent and speed to maximum effect. I wrote about his tendency to go far post every single time he attacked from the left in such obvious ways.

    I don’t have those questions about him anymore. His play in the second half of this season has left me feeling that part of the team is taken care of. I especially liked, no, loved how he went far post on the first chance he had, but on his first goal, he went near post, completely fooling the keeper. That set up his second goal because the keeper had to respect Tello’s ability to go near post. I also loved how effective he was with his stepovers. I can’t stand players who over elaborate on those. Tello and Thiago use them they easy Ronaldinho did, to create that little bit of space to blow by their marker. I like! Neymar must have watched this game, that’s why he is speeding up his transfer, because that position is about to be locked down. 🙂 .

    Am I the only one who wants Thiago to get more of an attacking role? His ability to handle the ball, take on a player plus finishing is Ronaldinho like.

    Xavi’s demise is greatly exaggerated. The games I have watched shows me more and more players trying to be playmakers, bypassing Xavi. That’s not his fault. The team needs to refocus on using him as the reference point. Barca is just more dominant when they do that. Just like Spain finally realized before the Italy game.

    I love all the canteranos breaking into the team lately. How come the team is so good at signing great canteranos, but less so with new players?

    • April 16, 2013

      I have a theory about that, Bill. If you think about the history of our transfers, and how few of them were actually signed to play the position that made them stand out, it kinda makes sense. A player has to not only learn a different way of playing in a different system, but at a different position.

      Calvin pointed out that Mascherano has been a success because DM is essentially the same as a CB in the Barça system, just less cover behind you. But Henry went from being the man, to being a winger. Fabregas went from running the show with the freedom to go anywhere he wanted at Arsenal, to ???? with us. Song isn’t playing his position. Sanchez isn’t playing anything like the role he played for Udinese. The list goes on.

      Ibrahimovic didn’t like being asked to play somewhere else because of Messi. Notice how good Sanchez is when he has the ball at his feet and is running. It’s like Udinese. When it comes down to tika taka, it’s more complex because he’s a player of instinct. Villa is a winger. It’s one heck of a challenge for a player.

      On the other hand, when a canterano comes in, he’s versed in the system and has been trained in it. So that part of the learning curve is already sussed out.

      — Spot on about Thiago. I still see him more as the heir to Iniesta than Xavi, despite what folks are saying about his future.

      • Bill
        April 16, 2013

        But a lot of those purchases were head scratchers in the first place. You remember how vehemently I was against Villa and Ibra? 🙂 . Fabregas and Masche were another pair I didn’t get. Yaya could have played Fabregas role in my opinion plus Xavi’s, DM & CB. I became a fan of Mascherano though….

        Speaking of The Yaya, I laughed when I saw this article…–Manchester-Citys-beast-player.html

      • psqd
        April 17, 2013

        Think Kxevin is spot on in his assessment of the success of canteranos vs signings. As he says if the youth system is doing it’s job the youngsters should be able to fit into the system even if they are asked to play out of position whereas a signing has to learn the system and possibly a new position.

        The difference for the youngsters is whether they can fulfill the potential that they exhibit early on. A potential that may be overblown because of early success due to ease of acclimation. Again if the youth system is working if the youngster can adapt to the speed of the competition then you would expect them to look better than with the B team, because they have better teammates. At least you could call it a wash. The limit seems to come when/if they do not progress and adapt they are seen not to have fulfilled their potential.

        Another thing to keep in mind is that many of the youngsters have been/are asked to play out of their natural position to get first team minutes, Thiago and Tello amongst them. The difference is they still know the system, as Kxevin said. One of the other questions is with the transfers of youngsters, can they succeed elsewhere. That of course is less a question with revolving door transfers.

        About Tello, I think he is continuing to improve, which bodes well for him. He also will be given possibly more time than others because he has speed that can’t be taught or easily replaced. Also, remember that he has grown up playing centrally, so it’s reasonable to expect he can progress as he becomes more accustomed to playing on the wing. He is making better decisions, as Bill said, and it is fun to watch. His biggest limitation right now, i think, is his first touch. He should talk to pedro to figure out how to improve it and about defensive work.

        About Thiago, again I think both Bill & Kxevin are right in saying that he’s more inclined to a more offensive role. The issue is multifaceted and involves Xavi, INiesta, & cesc. First the system is still xavi’s system and until it transitions to post-xavi barca will be looking for the new xavi or at least somebody to fill is role. Cesc doesn’t seem to be that guy even though experientially it seems he should be. Thiago, though also more offensively inclined, does a better job. The reason is one of discipline. Thiago stayed at la masia and increasingly learned the system and had constraints placed upon his play, learned the system, and led spanish youth teams. Cesc dropped out of la masia and on a club level he increasingly had constraints removed and operated with increasing freedom and different responsibilities. Additionally, Iniesta is younger than xavi and arguably around for longer. So there is a pileup at CAM versus CM where there are more minutes. Finally, even if it is against his natural inclination to play where Xavi does, I don’t think barca sees a better alternative in la masia or the market.

        Post-Xavi I think his role is decentralized and his touches get spread out between the 3 mids with busquets assuming more responsibility for match control, which arguably could be more robust and less reliant on the form of one player. However, until then as good as Thiago is at CAM think he gonna have as many or more opportunities deputising for xavi than iniesta.

        • Ryan
          April 17, 2013

          That’s a good point about Thiago’s experience with the Spanish national youth teams vis-a-vis Cesc’s international duty. With Thiago they’ve really centered on him in a similar way that the 2008+ Spain team has focused on Xavi (although Del Bosque’s placement of Xavi further up the field has hampered his play quite a bit). Cesc, on the other hand, has often been a super sub for Spain, and recently a false nine. I can’t recall Cesc’s Spanish youth team experience, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he had mostly been expected to contribute offensively rather than be the team’s metronome and control the game.

  16. yana
    April 16, 2013

    I don’t think anyone here, or our players, think that victims of tragedies are more deserving of sympathy because they are in the U.S. or western Europe. But it’s clear that people do find it more shocking, because of the (thankful) rarity, and therefore are shocked into saying (tweeting) something.

    On another blog I visit — non-football, non-socio-political-religious — someone commented, “I feel like we can’t send our kids to school, go to the movies, go to the mall, run a race, without fearing for your life, what is this world coming to?!” Another commenter — American, from Texas — then responded, “well, really, America is becoming more like the rest of the world, I guess. *shrug*”

    My first thought was, how callous, to shrug, seeming to say this is not awful? But then, I knew, she was right. Not the shrugging it off, but that people all over the world live in this same fear, every day, and experience the same awful destruction, far more frequently. And the fact that anyone, anywhere, can’t go to school, go to the movies, go shopping without this specter in the back of their minds, “is this the day?” is a tragedy for us all. It doesn’t mean that we should cry less for Boston, or Newton, or Aurora… It means that we should care more, in words and deeds, about everywhere else. (And some people find that difficult. Not because they are small-minded or hypocritical, but because it’s overwhelming.)

    There is this:

    “I’m up for us “All Being Bostonians Today”. But then can we all be Yemenis tomorrow & Pakistanis the day after? That’s how empathy works.”

    Can’t really say it better than that.

  17. Chiu
    April 17, 2013

    Rumoured that we’re targeting Rooney as well this summer. Imagine Messi playing alongside Rooney and Neymar, that would be wow, drooling. But just think we wont have enough money to get both, unless we sell Alexis + Villa and collect all the “peanut” money from all loaned players.

    • April 17, 2013

      Treat any and all transfer rumors with an extremely speculative grain of salt. The only reason that the Neymar rumor has any reasonable talking point is the 10mn payment that is on the books. Everything else is hooey, but I will say this:

      No way Rooney will happen. Temperament and skill set. Book it.

    • Jason
      April 17, 2013

      Summer transfer talk is starting to heat up! This period in football has often caused me excitement and irritation in equal doses. Obviously, the idea of bolstering our squad is a plus but our ability along with other clubs to spend vastly, has really created an imbalance in European football.

      I do not have a full grasp of the Fair Play guidelines but from what I have heard it has its loopholes. I really think, similar to some American sports, that a salary cap should be considered. We can hark on La Masia and its abilities to unearth amazing talent but we are backed by finances that many clubs could never dream off. Granted money does not grow from trees; we have a succesful institution that has done well to market its image worldwide.

      As we embark on the end of this season/beginning of silly season, I would love to see us shop WELL. Obviously, a club of barca’s stature cannot consider bargain buys as a successful off-season, esp. in keeping up with the nature of other “top” clubs but there just seems to be something more fair about that approach. Can anyone tell I am Arsene Wenger’s biggest fan 🙂

      I do not how others feel about this but would love to hear your opinions. If our game had more balanced, competitive teams at the expense of a few dominant ones at the top, would it be more or less enjoyable for you?

      • April 17, 2013

        I have previously suggested that I can fix the Liga balance of power in 3 ways:

        1. Equitable TV revenue sharing
        2. Salary caps. And HARD salary caps, so NHL caps (“This is the number. Make it.”) versus NBA caps (“Well, there is a number, but so and so is grandfathered in, and …”)
        3. Expansion draft of unwanted academy talents, to be made available in a pool for teams to select, with weakest non-relegated sides getting the first pick.

        All of those are as likely to happen as I am to sprout wings and fly to Barcelona for the next league match.

        Even if we don’t do transfers, there will not always be a time where La Masia is brimming with talent. This team is exceptionally rare in that regard, which will mean transfers. Barça boasts almost a half-BILLION in revenue per season. That is a staggering number. Messi is paid as much as the total budgets of some smaller Liga teams.

        TV revenue sharing (REAL sharing) is a start. But it doesn’t address the issues of player development and acquisition for teams that can’t even afford to buy journeymen second-stringers. That would be where the expansion draft would come in.

        It also goes without saying that for Barça fans, a truly competitive Liga would be a “be careful what you ask for” proposition. The team couldn’t afford to keep Xavi, Messi, Iniesta, etc, etc with a real salary cap. Would an exemption be made for home-grown players? Not with a hard cap. And the Liga could forget about puffing out its chest any saying that it does well in Europe. Those days would be over.

        • Skipper5
          April 17, 2013

          i somewhat agree with #1.

          #2 i disagree with this one for the reason you allude to and exemptions would render the measure impotent. Salary caps mostly kinda work in American sports because of the virtual monopolies that exist…if not NHL then your options are very very limited, same applies to the NFL. Its a take it or leave it situation. In contrast LaLiga stars can migrate to other European leagues that do not have salary caps. City,United, Anzi,etc will be attracting all the top top world talent. LaLiga will risk becomin a feeder League, once a player has established himself in LaLiga(and reached the salary cap) he will look to earn more playing elsewhere. (Would a Europe-wide cap work? i am skeptical about this). Even a cap on total salary budgets would have same effects.

          #3. i see the intention however this might have the unintended effect of reducing the incentive to have extensive youth academies. If Barcelona is going to continue to nurture youngsters from age 11 (or earlier) they must feel that they stand to get a return on that investment either thru selling the player or promoting the player to 1st team. The last thing on their mind is losing the player for free to another club . And think of the unfortunate youngsters who will get stuck playing for clubs they do not like and having no say in the matter to boot. Even if Barcelona were to receive compensation for this player, in most cases said player would not want to play for lowly LaLiga clubs, inevitably they will migrate to England,Italy etc.

          So as to avoid being that guy who only spots bad eggs but never lays any 😀 –
          *More equitable sharing of TV revenue
          *reject any and all caps on wages salaries, transfer kitties etc
          *i feel there is a global market for 2nd division European football that is not being taken adv of and finding ways to do this would help 2nd league football and in turn top flight football
          *Accept there are no easy fixes, legislating how and where clubs spend money is generally a bad idea.
          *if Spain would relax taxes on footballers, this could attract more players to Spain in general (Beckham Law) fat chance of this happening tho.

          • April 17, 2013

            But with the expansion draft, the players that aren’t going to make it at Barça would be cut loose. Those players want to play football. If the choice is playing for Levante or working in the family butcher shop, the choice is easy.

            We hear all the time about players cut loose by the club. And they’te gone anyhow.

          • Bill
            April 18, 2013

            I agree with Skipper5 about the draft being hard to control because there are countries that simply won’t tow the company line. I don’t see Chinese teams, Russian teams and others following those rules. If they do, you can guarantee that a lot of under the table deals will be done.

          • Skipper5
            April 19, 2013

            if the players are put in the pool at market value does that not defeat the purpose since the lowly LaLiga clubs will not afford them anyway?

            I agree that the subjective value of the unwanted player (to Barca) is fundamentally zero but the market value is not, if i do not want my car anymore (zero value to me) i still sell it rather than give it away for free. The NFL analogy breaks down because the NFL is just about the only league one can play pro-football in. LaLiga does not have the muscle to enforce such a move as it does not have monopoly power.

            Keeping the clubs honest will be a helluva job-an expensive game of whack-a-mole, keep in mind all laws are a step behind criminals. Close this loophole and another opens up especially when lawyers who themselves write the laws are involved.

        • Skipper5
          April 18, 2013

          That’s a valid point but i was thinking more of someone who Barca couldn’t accommodate but has market value (a Fabregas, Romeu maybe) would that player be sent into the draft or would Barca be allowed to sell them to a club of the player’s choosing?

          For those players that are cut loose i think that if they are any good then there will always be demand (and space) for them in those lowly clubs especially since they will be free transfers with affordable wage demands. if they are not good enough for even the lowly clubs then full time consideration of another endeavor is in order.Another thing is that the draft would have to have a provision that bars these players from leaving the Spain; such a provision would be nigh impossible to enact.

          • April 18, 2013

            See, I would put them all into the supplemental draft, market value or not. If the club doesn’t want the player, his value is fundamentally zero. If Liga clubs are truly committed to improving from top to bottom, they won’t whine about a million or two that might have come from the sale of a player.

            There would be fairly simple ways to keep the system honest: hefty fines, etc for circumventing the structure.

            The players are then free to make their own deals with the team that chooses them. The notion is similar to the American football expansion draft, in which teams are allowed to protect a certain number of players. Everybody else goes into the expansion pool, from which the new teams (in the Liga case, worst 3 teams) choose.

  18. Jafri
    April 17, 2013

    My Super Awesome Spectacular Must-Have Players We Really Need To Get ASAP Fantasy Barcelona Summer Transfer Wish List:

    1. ter Stegen

    …That’s it.

  19. April 17, 2013

    Through to the finals, 1-0 over ‘Nastic. Goal off a penalty scored by Lomban. You can probably guess who the opponent is: Espanyol. But the Babies looked as good as I have seen them under Eusebio, playing the system, even. Ie looked the business, even if his name on the back of a first-team shirt would make me giggle, like they forgot the rest of it. I recall cracking about the club signing Ie and Ca so that both players would make a full shirt name. Ha!

    Anyhow ….

    — In other B news, the very talented Cristian Lobato is off to Sevilla, for a fee somewhere in the neighborhood of just under a mil. And Luis Alberto is almost certain to return to Sevilla as well, another gem. While certainly a bummer, neither player is really a significant loss in the context of our talent pool and the current/future.

  20. mom4
    April 17, 2013

    Madridista at bowling tonight gifted hubby and me with a bottle of German Reisling. Gotta win on Tuesday to celebrate with it. 🙂

  21. ElJefe
    April 18, 2013

    Kxevin – Waiting for the article on anticipated line-up if they sign Neymar, as that one seems to be heating up. Can he survive the curse the less than 9 lives?

    RIP Eto’o
    RIP Ibra
    RIP Villa

    • ooga aga
      April 18, 2013

      first of all Villa is still here, scoring goals, last i heard. not only that, but he is not 9, but 7. alexis is 9.

      and you are forgetting Bojan.

      eto’o, furthermore, was anything but cursed. though with his departure came the “new #9 every year.” of course alexis has now been with us for 2 years. so this supposed ‘curse’ only lasted for two, bojan and ibra.

      • April 18, 2013

        Depends on who comes and who goes. If you believe the rumors, Juventus is negotiating with us for Villa AND Sanchez, with an eye toward getting the pair for 35-40m. So who knows? Once we know who’s staying and who’s coming, we can begin to speculate.

        • Messiah10
          April 19, 2013

          Eto’o a curse? Dude scored at will and was a lethal part of our attack for his entire career at Barca. Personally, he’s one of my all time favorite out and out strikers of the ball. Pure, devastatingly powerful, and intelligence to boot. Visca Eto’o1

      • ElJefe
        April 19, 2013

        oogs, was intentionally being inflammatory but I will defend OP:

        1) Eto’o left under different circumstances but could certainly argue his career sunk faster than the titanic, and even the fact that a top 3 striker in the world left adds to the curse.
        2) If you don’t think Villa is a massive bust vs. what he was brought in to do, you’re not watching much Barca football. I defended him more than most here, but it’s over, especially if Neymar happens.
        3) Bojan and Eidur were on my list but prospects vs. Top 10 strikers/goal scorers in the world striking out alongside Messi
        4) Tried to find a way to throw a Hleb joke in here but need Kxevin’s help.

        • Messiah10
          April 19, 2013

          1. Psss. Please

          2. I seem to remember him doing well for us in his 1st season. Scored important goals including a decisive 3rd goal at Wembley. Played on a fractured tibia most of his 2nd season, so pretty unfair to judge his performances last year. Hasn’t had consistent playing time this season. Barely played the 1st half of the season. Sporadically used 2nd half. I’ve always been in favor of dealing him from the beginning of last year, but only if we picked up another out and out striker to pair with Messi. Big fan, but his age and injuries are to questionable to keep on his salary.
          3. Bojan was far to young to keep a regular place in the team to consider him a curse. We didn’t bring him in either. He was here from La Masia.
          4. Hlebuary was awful this year! I feared the worst after the poor run of results in the league, CL, & CDR. At least it’s the shortest month of the year!

  22. April 18, 2013

    I’ve played the SF many times in my head.
    We are going through to the Finals 100%.
    The only question is if we will win it.

    • ooga aga
      April 18, 2013

      actually xavi has something to say about that, just today: “I do not understand why many barcelonistas do not want a Barca-Madrid final,” he said. “You must be optimistic. This is football and you must enjoy it. We can get to the final and win it. We must be convinced of that.”

      • ooga aga
        April 18, 2013

        i like his implication that if you sit there wringing your hands and worrying about losing against team X, then you arent enjoying football.

        enjoy, and think positively.

  23. April 18, 2013

    In an interview, Xavi has said that the years of unjust criticism are at the root of the keeper’s decision not to stay with the club. Wow.

    • April 18, 2013

      Wow, indeed. A sensitive soul. A change of scenery will probably do him good, but when he makes a mistake or two he will get criticized wherever he goes…

      I hope he will stay at Barça for the remainder of his contract.

      • Jim
        April 18, 2013

        Likewise. I have to say I have a lot of sympathy for his point of view.

        • April 18, 2013

          “I have to say I have a lot of sympathy for his point of view”

          I don’t.

          Apart from the fact that he hasn’t been critized all that much over the last few years, only a handful of keepers are lucky enough to not get scrutinized for the mistakes that they invariably make (I guess San Ilker, Buffon, Czech and maybe Neuer)

          It’s part of the game. He is oversensitive and if he moves to another big team I don’t think he will be treated all that differently.

          The world I live in I can’t buy a pizza with a full day’s pay and I am better of than probably the majority of the people with whom we share this planet.

          So while I respect the fact that we are not all wired the same, I am not gonna feel all that sorry for an underappreciated millionaire who gets booed every now and then. He gets plenty of cheers (and money) to make up for it.

          • ooga aga
            April 18, 2013

            much spect levon, but before we start raggin on VV, let’s have the exact quote from xavi.

          • April 18, 2013

            I do, for so many reasons. Yes, Valdes makes a lot of money for playing a game. Yes, he has a good life. But this doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a soul, and feelings. And yes, it wouldn’t be surprising if those feelings made him say “If I am so bad, let’s see how they like life without me.” And you know what? We won’t.

            It isn’t as simple as “sticks and stones.” Being a keeper is like being a field goal kicker for an American football team. If you make a kick that won the game, you are doing your job. If you miss one, you suck and will continue to suck until you do your job again.

            I will contend that Valdes is the least appreciated player on the club, and people won’t realize how valuable he is until someone is playing in his place, and we see a diminution of quality in things such as starting attacks, 1-v-1 stops and the like.

            For me, it isn’t “Boo-hoo, eff you, millionaire.” It’s more like “Players have feelings, too.” Try as we (and they) might to try and make such things go away, they don’t. And that goes from everything from Alves confessing to being hurt by abuse and monkey chants, etc, to this.

            I don’t think that players give a crap about fan bleatings, except in the aggregate, as a snapshot of popular opinion. But then the press starts in and suddenly, the worldview of a player could start to change.

            We have all watched match after match in which commentators have called Valdes dodgy, and error prone, and mentally weak and not a great keeper, etc, etc. Of course someone would get an urge to leave all that crap, and prove that they are indeed good, by proving their game somewhere else.

          • Bill
            April 18, 2013

            Amen Levon!! Amen!

            Kxevin: ” We have all watched match after match in which commentators have called Valdes dodgy, and error prone, and mentally weak and not a great keeper” were you quoting me? 🙂 Because as much as I appreciate some of his heroics, there is a part of his game that has the above mentioned traits.

            As for missing him, it depends on the new keeper Barca gets. If we get a truly world class keeper, I won’t miss him one bit.

          • April 18, 2013

            We’ll see. I think that people are going to find that Valdes wasn’t as dodgy as any other keeper, and less so than most. There are also traits he has that make him pretty much a perfect keeper for Barça. Will probably be worth going into those later, but people bring up pure shot stoppers and say “Boy, I wish we had one of those,” or a box-based CB and again, lust after the wrong tool for the job.

            Without question, Valdes has had funky moments. But in watching all of the football that I do, I have never looked at another keeper and said, “He’d be better for Barça than Valdes.”

            But we’ll see.

          • Jim
            April 18, 2013

            Its also part of the game to have the ability to move on if you’re not being appreciated and imo he has had a raw deal fom some fans and some of the press.

            By any standard we are talking about one of the best keepers in the world over the last five or six years but one who is particularly suited to us. For instance, no way could Casillas play for Barca imo. He doesn’t have the ball skills and is even poorer at commanding his area. In fact, i would hazard a guess that of the keepers you mention ( supposedly better) maybe as many as three wont be number one at their current club next year. Not sure the bit about pizza is relevant to VV – that’s a general gripe about salaries which I suppose I can subscribe to.

            As Kxevin says, we’ll see once he has gone. I pity the person who replaces him if he is expected to do better. Also, if VV is as poor as is suggested he may have trouble finding a team. Why do I think that won’t be the case?

          • April 18, 2013

            I think Valdes is the right keeper for Barcelona and I want him to stay until 2014.

            However, just like some culés will realize only after he is gone how valuable he has been to our club, Victor also might find grass is not greener on the other side of the fence.

            He has been given plenty of respect in Barcelona, both from the club (1st choice GK for 10 years and a 6M salary) and from the fans (applauding him plenty even after he let us know he does not want to continue here).

            He has the right to feel however he feels (so does Tristiano) and he has the right to leave. I believe he commented how he would like to experience the Premiership and I can fully sympathize with that.

            However if it is about respect or about getting too much criticism or feeling unappreciated… if THAT’s what it’s about, that just makes me feel sorry for him. If he thinks fans, journalists and commentators don’t value him high enough in Spain, wait til he learns English!

    • ooga aga
      April 18, 2013

      hold on. exact quote, in spanish please? what i read (xavi interview in press today) did not make this nearly so clear. in fact victor valdes himself said recently in an interview with 4-4-2 magazine taht he is leaving because he wants to live in another place, experience another team. he doesnt want to just play for barcelona his whole life.

      • ooga aga
        April 18, 2013

        ok i just looked at the quote on the mundo deportivo website. there is a juxtaposition where he is talking about victor leaving, and then how he has not been treated well by the media , but nowhere does he say that victor is leaving *because of* this. i think more his point is that he is leaving and he has not been appreciated enough while he has been here — a dont-know-what-youve-got-til-its-gone kinda thing.

    • Messiah10
      April 19, 2013

      No surprise there for me. VV has admitted that he didn’t “enjoy” playing until Pep came. Pep changed his mentality and was able to show VV how to have fun and enjoy his profession. I would get tired of the negativity too. Ridiculous. 5 time Zamora Trophy winner, 3 CL trophies, 5 or 6 Liga trophies. Unquestionably, our greatest ever keeper!

  24. ooga aga
    April 18, 2013

    También se ha referido a la suplencia que vive Iker Casillas en el Real Madrid y le sabe mal. “Creo que es injusto”, dice al respecto Xavi. “Me sabe mal por el verlo en el banquillo. No se lo merece”, y sobre su posible llegada al Barça: “IKer no vendrá al Barça. Es muy madridista, no lo veo fuera. Le daría la bienvenida, pero no lo veo aquí, sinceramente”.

    He has also referred to the bench-warming of iker csillas in madrid and it rubs him the wrong way: “i think it is unfair…i dont like seeing him on the bench. he doesnt deserve it.” and about his possible arrival to Barca: “iker will not come to barca. he is very madridista, i dont see him outside of there. i would welcome him, but i dont see him here, sincerely.”

    recuerda que las relaciones con los jugadores del Madrid “está muy bien. Iker es un tío que vale. Sergio Ramos también es un tío que ha madurado bastante en la Selección española. Tenemos respeto y profesionalidad”.

    more from el motorcito de Terrassa: he says that relations with the players from madrid “are very good. sergio ramos is a guy who has matured a bunch in the spanish national team. we have respect and professionalism.”



    • Bill
      April 18, 2013

      Wouldn’t it be hilarious if we got Casillas? All of Spain will be up in arms, because we will have almost everyone in the Spanish NT starting line-up once Montoya can lock down starting RB

    • April 18, 2013

      I think Sergio Ramos could be a pretty good CB for Barça. He would also add that offensive aerial threat we have missed since Puyol’s out (we should just revert to short corners again).

      Thing is though, he’ll never come. I think he is just too Spanish to represent Catalunya like that…

    • ooga aga
      April 18, 2013

      one thing i get from this is that bartra has played little more than the equivalent of seven 90-minute matches this season. however only 5 goals have been scored during that period, which makes his stats some of the best.

      • April 18, 2013

        Showed plenty of confidence in his press conference as well! The boy feels ready!

    • psqd
      April 19, 2013

      saw that floating around the internets. Tough to make too much of the details without going back and adding the context of the competition. However, not to loose sight of the forest for the trees, think the most important thing is that there are 15 different pairings involving 8 different players. The most frequent combination, mascherano and pique, having played something about 18 games together and the other arguable best pairing 3rd on frequency, pique puyol, playing about 11 totaling about 29 games from your first 2 cb pairings out of the about 50 games of minutes in the chart. If include puyol mascherano then you add another 6 games, meaning your 3 pairings of your 3 best CB’s played 35/50 games payed 70% of your games.

      That number doesn’t look too bad, that’d cover the tough liga and champions fixtures you’d think. The problem arose because that hasn’t been the case and their wasn’t even a 4th CB that was trusted and they were left scrambling at the worst times. It re-emphasizes the failure to sign a CB at the summer and Puyol’s increasing unreliability of form. Further the failure to rotate in bartra and rest puyol when it was a possibility early is cropping up at the worst time.

      This is also terribly predictable, just ask ManU. Unless they are actually going to trust to play bartra next season and/or they re-sign abidal they need to sign 2 CB’s this summer or risk being in the exact same spot again next year, bu that won’t happen. You can’t trust that puyol will be available when you need him. You have to plan for an injury to pique and/or mascherano. You also have to expect that that injury is likely to overlap at some time with puyol being unavailable. It’s predictable cause it’s already happened. The run of injuries in defense is unfortunate, but not unpredictable.

  25. April 19, 2013

    Meanwhile, Toni. Effing. Friexa.

    To be clear, I don’t think that he was trying to diss Guardiola. But boy, does it come off in that way. “Vilanova wins all the comparisons with Guardiola, even the human aspect.”

    Yes, he was buttressing the team’s choice of coach, who has announced that he will return for next season. But there is a way to do that. That wasn’t it. Same with the Abidal statement. Of course his renewal will be a coach’s decision. The player would want it that way. But again, it’s in how you phrase it.

    Instead, Freixa comes off as saying “Vilanova is better in every way than Guardiola. He’s even a better human being. And Abidal? Let’s wait and see if we have to cut him loose.”

    Buzz is that the club offered Abidal a spot somewhere in the front office recently. No word on Abidal’s reply, but my guess is that he wants to play. If he can’t play for us, I don’t see him not giving it a try somewhere else.

    The club is in a difficult spot with Abidal. It has to walk on eggshells regarding the player who everyone views as an example and inspiration. Being in that office and on that board means that part of your job is to consider how you present things. Words are important. I don’t doubt that hearts are in the right place, but presentation, in the public relations game, is worth a lot.

    • Bill
      April 19, 2013

      There is something about Rosell and his group that rubs me the wrong way. From the beginning, every time I saw him talk, it gave me an impression of someone slimy. Even that Barcelona confidential video just made me dislike him more. Can’t help feeling that by the end of his era, the organization will be in a mess again.

    • BA
      April 19, 2013

      you can bet that if there’s a way to screw up that sort of (admittedly delicate) situation, Rosell’s administration will attempt to do so. inevitably classless, that man.

  26. Messiah10
    April 19, 2013

    Surprised there’s no comments here about Song’s apparent unhappiness with playing time and wanting to go back to Arsenal. Even Wenger commented on it. I would hate to lose him and hope we do find a way to utilize him more regularly. He is a beast at DM. He provides a different aspect to the DM position than Busi. Busi is a beast as well but more poetic and pragmatic about his tackling. Song just goes in and bust things up. I like his physicality.

    • April 19, 2013

      I tend to not trust entourage or relative comments, such as those made by a cousin of Song. The contentions also fly in the face of logic. Of course he isn’t going to be s starter or clubhouse leader. Surely he knew that going in. And if he doesn’t know Catalan or Castilian, that influence will be even less.

      That’s why I took the cousin comments with a massive grain of salt.

    • Bill
      April 19, 2013

      I don’t know if its true, but his unhappiness makes me wonder about his thought process. Surely, he had to have known he was joining the most complete midfield in soccer history…who did he think he would replace? Busquets? A La Masia guy with all soccer trophies available in his trophy cabinet? The guy who benched Yaya Toure?

      I had thought he would come in the way Mascherano did, fully expecting to play a bit role, and just be a cog in the machine, while enjoying the ride, winning trophies and getting to train with the worlds best. His unhappiness therefore surprises me.

      • ooga aga
        April 19, 2013

        well, like kxevin said, dont put too much stake in this “song isnt happy” news. dont judge him or start analysing it too much because its probably not all true.

  27. ooga aga
    April 19, 2013

    sounds like both puyol and masch have outside chance at being back for 2nd leg of UCL semifinals. wow.

  28. ooga aga
    April 19, 2013

    i was shocked to just see today that messi has a big new tattoo on his left calf. im sure it was mentioned here before but i missed it. his son’s two hand prints.

    i always thought it was cool messi didnt have any tattoos, not because i dont like people that have them, but just because…i dont know. a lot of people in the sports world that have them seem like they have big egos, maybe.

    then i saw that he actually already had one, of his mom on his shoulder, but i had never seen it revealed…anyway, seems he’s keepin’ it in the family.

    end celebrity gossip

    • April 19, 2013

      He got the tattoo just recently when he went to Argentina with the NT. Personally I think it is hideous, but whatever. It means something to him, and that’s what’s important.

    • G6O
      April 20, 2013

      Both tattoos are pretty much always hidden though – the one on his back is covered by his shirt, the one on his calf by his socks.

      So it’s not as if he’s putting them on public display all the time.

      And both are hideous, that’s also true.

  29. Huckleberry
    April 20, 2013

    Can’t undetstand why Bartra gets no playing time.

    • yana
      April 20, 2013

      But, Abi is starting at CB!

      Bartra will probably come on for either Abi or Adriano. I will leave it up for discussion which of the two is more needs more medical supervision.

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