Categorized | Thoughts

Humanity, love and a club, aka “The burden of expectations”

abipresser

So there I was the other evening, watching “The Way We Were” (again), never suspecting that there would be any parallel whatsoever between a cheesy-but-effective love story and the football club that I love. But if you think about stuff …

The characters portrayed by Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford are having an argument, and he asks her why she keeps making waves, why she keeps pushing so hard, and she says:

“I’ll keep making them until you’re everything you should be and will be. You’ll never find anyone as good for you as I am, to believe in you as much as I do or to love you as much.”

Which, in a nutshell, is loving a football club. And not just Barça. Roma, Milan, RM, Liverpool, Arsenal, United, Galatasaray …. any football club that is truly loved by its supporters must wrestle with the challenge of being every great, wonderful, shining thing that its supporters believe that it can, and must be.

That so few of them ever do is the tragedy of being a football supporter.

With Barça, however, it is even more tragic, because for a glorious season, our club did exactly that: it was absolutely everything that we wanted it to be, that we expected it to be. It won all the trophies, it beat all the opponents, it was beautiful, and fun. And atop all of that, it was human. From its coach to its flawed superstars who wouldn’t get picked by the big kids for a game of kickabout at the park, it was innately, wonderfully human.

But in life as in football, time and reality change things, and complexities arise.

I can’t count the number of times that this club has made me cry in the time that I have been a supporter, tears of joy, rage, frustration and sadness. And if you really look at emotion, it usually has its roots in expectation. Something didn’t happen that we wanted/needed it to, and it sparks an emotion. People who are supposed to be brilliant, wonderful and live happily ever after get cancer, and a person who we don’t know at all and will never meet breaks our heart. Why?

Because that person has become part of the fabric of a club that we love.

When we love people, we expect so much from them, clubs included. I think that this gets at the core of our summer of discontent, and the intense reaction to recent events. After that spectacular year in which the club was everything that every supporter of any football club anywhere could ever dare hope that their club could be, reality set in.

Dirty dishes, leaving the cap off the toothpaste, put your damned dirty clothes IN the hamper …. all that stuff that crops up as relationships wear in, and we get to see what the REST of the deal is. And then we set about the task of loving someone for exactly what it is, and struggling with not having reality diminish that feeling.

This season, love has been challenged. The Relationship Face is off. It’s almost certainly worse for newer supporters, who haven’t had to wrestle with the Gaspart era, but it hurts everyone, because everyone wants good times to go on forever, and is saddened when they don’t.

When the club had the presser to say goodbye to an unwilling warrior, I ranted about it. Time went on, and I began to wonder if something was lurking in his medical report, a time bomb that made the club decide that it wasn’t worth the risk. I looked for reasons to justify the behavior of my beloved. More thinking, a sigh, and the realization hit me that it kinda doesn’t matter. It does in the sense that it gives us something to discuss and get inflamed about, but the club is going to do what it is going to do with its employees. It can hire, fire, shift and use them as it sees fit, and it doesn’t care what we think.

Should it? Good question. As we talk about public relations gaffes, and how it should have handled the Abidal situation better, etc., I wonder if the way that Eric Abidal, who is as much of an icon as any Barça player in recent memory, was shoved out of the door has cost the club a single supporter — a single potential shirt buyer or match attendee. I would wager not.

And yet, because of those expectations of our beloved, we ask questions because we want so much from that thing we love, we want it to be great, to not do stuff like this. We don’t want to see the recriminations that we saw yesterday from Abidal, in the form of damning quotes in which he said he was angry at the club:

“I do not understand. I’ve fought for them. I’m in great shape. I feel better than two years ago.”

“They gave me no reason. Told me it was a professional decision.”

“Inevitably, it calls into question my ability to continue playing football. I am the first person to judge my form.”

“First of all, I will not put my life at stake. That is why I’m a little upset with the club’s decision.”

“Either way, this is football.”

I discussed those quotes in private and in public, tried to get behind the meaning of them and what they meant in a broader sense as regards the way that the club is being governed, the seeming lack of humanity and other things that we have been seeing, and arrived at a very different conclusion than I expected.

Because we don’t know the whole story, and even if we did, what would it matter? The football club that we devote so much to, in all of its mes que-ness, is a business. Business is cold. Business doesn’t have a heart. Precious little differentiates FC Barcelona from Microsoft or Apple, and it’s doubtful anyone wept at pressers in which longtime employees were cut loose.

But sport is different. Sport is emotional. We love football clubs, not the companies they are part of and owned by. And that makes us question, wonder, rage and shake our fists as we wonder why that thing we love so, can’t be every wonderful thing that we want it to be.

The simple answer is because it can’t ever be. The absolute best that we can hope for are fleeting moments of sublime joy — an Iniesta babymaking golazo, Trebles, Year of Six Cups — that make it all worth it. We celebrate them for what they are, for everything that they are, and we move on.

Eric Abidal is angry. And he feels betrayed. The club has given him so much, from making him a multi-millionaire to allowing him to play a game that he loves at the absolute highest level, to funding and supporting his battle with a disease that takes lives. And yet, he is still angry with that entity. I can only sit in my chair here and speculate that he, like a fervent supporter, expected more. That maybe, he begins to come to grips with it by saying “that is football,” I think, because football is a business that is every bit as cold-hearted as any boardroom.

We are angry with the club for not being everything that we expect it to be, forever. We rail against transfers, and rotations or lack thereof, star players being played too much and promising youngsters being played not enough. Because we want so much.

Things that we love disappoint us. Constantly. Part of life is learning to deal with those moments, and understanding that people/clubs are going to do what they are going to do. That is their right. “If you love me, you would ….”

No. Not then, not now, not ever. In many ways, that our club seems to be a mess makes my affection for it even stronger, because who doesn’t love a challenge, right? And if a treble comes next season, people will forget all the doubt, all the anger, all the recriminations. And even if some of us don’t it won’t really matter, because that’s love, and that’s football.

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271 Responses to “Humanity, love and a club, aka “The burden of expectations””

  1. Levon says:

    Great post, just like the previous one.

    It all comes back to the lack of transparency. They can’t tell Abidal that they won’t extend a contract (which they had publicly promised to extend) for “professional” reasons and leave it like that.

    If a company, and Barça is mes que un “company” terminates a contract they – someone – usually offers an explanation. We now have a board of directors who are not only transparent for the public, but not towards the players and its staff either (Muniesa and Eusebio are other examples).

    Hell, not even towards a club icon.

    Do I love Barça? Yes, always. But I loved Barça under Nuñez’s reign, too. It is like loving a country but loathing its government.

    • blitzen says:

      My sentiments exactly, Levon. If the club had sat down with Abidal and said, “Look we just feel there are too many doubts about your fitness” or “We need to make a major expensive purchase at CB and we don’t feel we can cover the cost of keeping you as well”, I might still be unhappy with the decision but I would accept that they had valid reasons for it. The problem is that they made certain promises to the player (and the public, since they made it in the media), then kept both Abidal and us in the dark about why they cannot honour them. It is shady and disrespectful, and seems to be how the club intends to manage these decisions from now on.

      It is like (and I use this metaphor deliberately) seeing a cancer form at the heart of the club I love.

      • nia says:

        There is some shady business going on with the board coz on revista, Hunter mentioned something like they had gone back on their word on VV as well and that’s why he’s leaving. I think either sport or mundo ran a story a while back that VV had wanted to change some of his training methods. Initially the directors had agreed but then went back on their word, which pissed VV off hence the refusal to renew.

        I also don’t like that it seems that even Tito doesn’t have a say in the squad lately. The other day he was quoted “I’m only an employee and I use the squad they give me”. Seems like too much interference from Rosell and Zubi lately on the squad. Hopefully Tito is able to handle them and tell them to back off. I think there’s as much politics and drama at Barca as at RM, only difference is no one goes to the press about it. As for Abi, a proper explanation would have sufficed even though they went back on their word on renewing him.

  2. mom4 says:

    Thanks!

    And something seems wrong in the club. Something small and subtle but pervasive. I just keep on having this nagging something’s up feeling. Anyway, visca Barca.

  3. Jim says:

    Kxevin, you should retire more often. :) A great series of thoughtful posts !

    Mom4, I’m not sure that anything is wrong as such. I think there has been a cold, hard evaluation (probably at a meeting of the big yins) of where we are and will be next season and a lot of what we’re seeing is the result of that. We’ve been getting ourselves into a state where we were scared to let any player go in case he became great and had to be bought back resulting in an ever growing list of loanees and I think Rosell has probably said enough on that one. Our physios haven’t really been impressing me this season especially with some dodgy “green lights” after injuries and I’ve never thought the youngsters coming through we’re as good as some would have us believe. More to come on the leaving front I suspect.

    I think the real test for me will be whether or not we can get the CB that we want. We’ve done a good bit of business on Neymar (imo) and a CB will see us set up pretty well for next year.

    I suspect in a nutshell that a little of the sentiment has been removed and replaced with hard headed decisions. Only time will tell if they are the right ones.

  4. Ultraculé says:

    As I’ve noted before, the hasty decision to release Abidal is baffling to say the least. Any way you look at it, its a Terrible decision from a sporting, PR, economic, tactical and human perspective. Not to mention the timing and the manner in which they did it.

    Considering Barca’s current deficiency in defense, the incredible difficulty in importing the right defenders for the team and the lack of world class quality coming up in the academy for that position, The decision to chuck not only a great defender, but a club legend in Abidal only leaves us to conclude 1 thing. Because it cannot be that the management are so astonishingly stupid.

    That There is something in that medical report that is not worth the risk and investment (or) He cannot play at the top level against top teams anymore.

    Abidal’s quotes are so telling in that they completely quash the above notions. Now I am not of a conspiratorial mind or a hater. But I can smell some dirty crap going on at the club. Neither is it transparent by any stretch nor is it odourless. It stinks. I fear Emili Ricart’s decision to leave might have something to do with Abi’s treatment post recovery.

  5. Flippy says:

    Just a thought, but what is the probability of having a vote of referendum on Rosell? Surely, there are many club members who are unhappy with the situations regarding Abidal, the shirt sponsor, the sporting success of the club, the lack of transparency, etc…

    Is there no storm brewing in Barcelona against Rosell? I would really like to know what the general mood is in Barcelona and in the club towards Rosell and his board.

  6. Messiah10 says:

    O.T. Enrique just signed for Celta Vigo for next season. I’m excited to see how he shapes the team and when they visit the Camp Nou. Should be a fun season to see some nice footie played by Celta.

  7. Messiah10 says:

    Kxevin,

    Your piece makes me think of something I’ve had to learn in the last few years. You can’t control people, places, or things. You can only control yourself and your reaction to them. Does one choose to react positively or negatively? Is there a struggle or fight with acceptance or does it come with the knowledge that its the easier softer way? I want Barca to be everything that I dream a club can be. A humanitarian(Rosell inks w/the Qatari sponsorship), loyal(abi is stood by, then shown the door), play beautiful footie(we still play THE best footie at our peak, i.e. 2nd leg Milan), develop youth(all starting 11 from La Masia), attract the best players in the world(Ronaldinho, Henry, Villa, Ibra(as much as I hate to admit it), & now NEYMAR!), and be winners(the best team on the planet for 4 years running, now fair to say Bayern are). However, due to my high expectations like you mentioned, Barca will let me down. It’s not a matter of “if” but “when”. That’s ok. I accept it as part of loving a club as much as I love Barca.

  8. ian_percival says:

    Now lets call a spade a spade and leave sentiments aside,great love story kxevin,so lets get to work,i read some comments here that suggest we can’t afford to bring in a marquee centre-half because of fund unavailablity,well if that’s ”true”i think it’ll be foolish to feel for them(our board)people say a lot about rosell’s economic strengths,no doubts he deserves the plaudits,but when someone makes a 57million purchase for a player unproven in europe,it makes me wanna question his economic sense,for sure Neymar will pay back his price tag via his marketable personality and global television vibrance,but is he gonna pay it back on the pitch?thats yet to be seen,but rosell should’ve checked around for a promising european-proven player like Goetze,which would’ve cost us less,our CB area is where concerns should be focused,we really need two CBs not one,tall,aggressive and blessed with serious pace,and the other more intelligent and a ball-playing type because there will be a lot of running in the el clasico next season,bale and horse leg will be watched carefully and pique isn’t that man neither is batra,so this is what we should be yelling out for,thats another way to love your club,being realistic.

    • Jim says:

      Disagree with quite a bit of this. Wasn’t aware that Bale was leaving Spurs! Goetze, from the little I’ve seen of both isn’t in the same class as Neymar and defending has never been about running. It’s about organisation and, in our case, decent pressing further up the park. I also happen to think we will sign a top notch CB but hopefully the club will continue to let whoever’s club it is think that we have lots of options which I assume is what they are doing just now. The time to panic will be if we haven’t signed one by the start of he season.

      I’m guessing that in the end Neymar will get the same treatment as most of our other big buys. Two seasons to show it and if not, moved on, but I really don’t think that’s gonna happen.

  9. IamXavi6 says:

    I’m tired of this Abidal stuff(and I love King Eric)

    Put aside your personal emotions for a second. This club is a business, on and off the field. You can label it anyway you want, any sporting organisation is a professional sense is and always will be a business.

    Eric is ‘angry’ with the club. The club that stood by him for all those hardships, paid his wages? he is angry?

    The club doesn’t owe Eric anything. It did more than what most other clubs would ever do for him. From the business side, they decided that they didnt want someone his age, with his lack of gametime over the past 18+ months, anymore on his books. So, they let his contract finish up? Yet we all throw our arms up screaming foul and how disgusting it is and how could they do this? like some sort of fairytale world we live in where players only get better once the age and less games they play mean truely how much better than are for the starting spot on the field. Get serious, please.

    I really, REALLY fail to see the problem here. AT ALL.

    /rant

    • Kxevin says:

      As Abidal himself said, “That’s football.” And as I say above, it is a business, in which a club can do with its employees whatever it wishes. I reckon we will see, rather sooner than many want, if there is another press conference with Rosell and ZubiZa flanking Puyol.

      I think the larger question that many have, rants and tone aside, is from a sporting aspect, as they question the logic of not giving Abidal a shot, if we are going to sign someone such as Mathieu or Rami.

      I don’t think that humanity enters into the equation at all. Should it? That’s the kind of wishful thinking that lovers have, but it has precious little bearing on reality.

      • IamXavi6 says:

        That’s my point, re humanity. If shouldn’t enter the equation at all, too many people seem to think it should. Not in this sporting world we live in, no way(side note, I’d love for it to really matter, but sadly, it doesnt).

        I’d be happy if say, Adriano can get into the mix again, and of course we already have Alba in that left spot.

        I love Abi, and I really wish him all the best, however, I see no issue at all with what the club did. Perhaps, some better media training in how to deal with this things, but, the actual end result…no problem at all.

        • IamXavi6 says:

          Oh, and I’d expect Abi to probably earn a big fat juicy paycheque at either PSG or Monaco next season….

          Don’t you worry about little ol Abi!

          • Kxevin says:

            That is why I think it is a financial decision, rather than technical. Retaining Abidal as a CB appears to make sporting sense. It would seemingly have meant having to buy only one defender this season, then resetting the transfer kitty for a big splash next summer, when Abidal retires.

            My guess is that his salary was too high for a part-time player, and that is that.

          • Huckleberry says:

            Really nice article, Kxevin!
            Looking at all the suggestions for a new center back and his resonable price, I wonder if less than 10% of the cules won’t be shockingly disappointed, when the name and price finally will be revealed….

            It will be interesting to see, what kind of offers Abi will get. Other clubs have no sentimental approach and will decide from a pure “pofessional” viewpoint.

            Anyway, the best quotation to show the dilemma of the club is from Tito: I wish Abi all the best and footballwise I hope he proves me wrong. (analogous from Barcastuff)

      • Roberto Senyera says:

        That Puyol press conference is coming sooner than Puyol thinks. Considering his propensity for injuries over the last few years I can’t see him playing at the highest level to his 40th birthday (as his heart desires).

  10. IamXavi6 says:

    LUIS ENRIQUE NEW CELTA COACH! WOOHOO!

  11. Kxevin says:

    Something else to ponder:

    In about two seasons, Xavi and Puyol will be gone. As will Valdes. Whose club will this be? Iniesta’s? Messi’s? Interesting times are a comin’, folks.

    • IamXavi6 says:

      I’d argue that it’s already Messi’s club, no? if not, certainly Andreas and Messi in the next few seasons.

    • BA says:

      i’ve wondered about this myself. when Xavi, Puyol and Valdes are all gone, the dressing room is really going to be vacant some strong, winning personalities. Iniesta and Messi can lead by example, but neither of them are forceful enough to make the dressing room theirs and lead a team. it’ll fall to, most likely, Pique and possibly Busquets to do that. no idea how that’ll work out, but it’s another factor to worry about.

  12. Roberto Senyera says:

    “So there I was the other evening, watching “The Way We Were” (again), never suspecting that there would be any parallel whatsoever between a cheesy-but-effective love story … The characters portrayed by Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford are having an argument …”

    Even more upsetting than the Abidal departure is finding out that Kxevin is watching girly love stories. Best course of action: cease and desist. Next best course of action: don’t admit the activity. Your transfer value will inevitably decrease otherwise.

  13. Ultraculé says:

    Since the club is in a revamp mood, this rumored United offer of upwards of 47M for Fabregas, is one that we should take! – don’t y’all think? would make Thiago happy for sure.

    • Roberto Senyera says:

      I don’t believe that rumour for a second. Cesc isn’t going anywhere. Both the club and the player don’t want the move. ManU is saddled with massive debt due to the leveraged buyout by their current owners (the Glazer family). As a result, they haven’t made a mega transfer buy for quite some time now and I cannot see a big buy from ManU unless they finance it by selling some of their valuable players (like Rooney).

    • Taps says:

      I would love to see Cesc again at Arsenal. The way he played at Arsenal was magnificent. He has not played 50% of it here at Barca. I so much miss his dynamism and those long range pin point passes. Wonderful player he was there. Somehow I feel that he fits much better into fast-paced Arsenal’s game than our patience laden tiki-taka.

  14. Jim says:

    Big Mourinho presser tomorrow at lunchtime. Personally, I’m hoping for fireworks :)

  15. Kxevin says:

    Meanwhile, let’s return to this post. How about it? What of it? Has any of the way that the club is being run affected the fervor of your culedom? COULD anything affect it? What are people’s expectations as regards governance?

    Someone earlier mentioned a recall referendum. Such a thing begins with a petition, which, after being signed by enough socis, gets notarized and then a recall election is held. It just happened to Laporta, when a soci named Oriol Giralt sparked a movement. The vote was closer than Laporta would have liked, and then it all went away in the year of the Treble.

    • Levon says:

      “Has any of the way that the club is being run affected the fervor of your culedom?”

      Well, that’s why I made the comparison with countries.

      Without trying to get into a political discussion, a lot of Americans love their country (rightfully so) while loathing the government that runs it (past or present – let’s not get into details here).

      Same thing here in Venezuela. Or Italy. Or Egypt or Nigeria or any country for that matter.

      To bring it back to Barça, we’ve had Nuñes who for a lot of years used Barça more as a way of raising his personal prestige than for love of the club.

      Even more pointedly, during the Franco years Barça represented the aspirations of the Catalan people while its presidents had to be approved by the central government to cleanse the club from any “subversive” elements. However Barça was bigger than its president, and the people loved and supported the club intensely despite of the people who ran it.

    • fotobirajesh says:

      We start loving a club, not because of its management, but for what it does on the pitch. So what happens in the office, should not affect a normal fan, who became a fan because of what happens on the pitch.

      Having said that, we would also want everything around the club to be good and well appreciated around the world. We do not want somebody taking a dig at our Mes que un Club, isnt it. I believe Pep, now Valdes, Abidal all leave because of something not going well with the club management. Would have wished it otherwise.

  16. allasFCB says:

    That picture tells more than 1000 words…

  17. barca96 says:

    I’m terribly for going OT Kxevin. I just watched the news regarding Andy Pettite winning his 250th game. I remember a pitcher more than a decade ago but I can’t recall his name. Can any baseball fan help me out?

    He has a long hair. Wears a cap. Pretty skinny guy. Was in the twilight of his career a decade ago. Didn’t play for Yankees. That’s all I can remember.

  18. Huckleberry says:

    Really nice article, Kxevin!
    Looking at all the suggestions for a new center back and his resonable price, I wonder if less than 10% of the cules won’t be shockingly disappointed, when the name and price finally will be revealed….

    It will be interesting to see, what kind of offers Abi will get. Other clubs have no sentimental approach and will decide from a pure “pofessional” viewpoint.

    Anyway, the best quotation to show the dilemma of the club is from Tito: I wish Abi all the best and footballwise I hope he proves me wrong. (analogous from Barcastuff)

  19. barca96 says:

    It was him… Thanks a lot Bill!!

    Man it’s so sad to read (on Wikipedia) that he was on a decline after his move to the Yankees. I’m glad that I got to watch him when he was in his prime at the 2001 World Series.

    It looks like the Yankees has a habit of signing top players who are expensive and past their prime Giambi & A-Rod come to mind.

  20. Taps says:

    I guess I am in the minority here, as I believe that what clubs has done is right. Having said that I also understand the anguish of Abidal, as he might have been promised something else earlier.

    Let’s look at the facts – 1) Tito wants a squad of 22-23 players next year 2) Barca had problem of defence last year. We were unstable (due to bad call on song and injuries) and tried as many different defensive pairs as possible. After such a disaster season (defensively), any coach would not want to take risk with the defence. And let’s accept giving a full season to Abidal is risk, nobody knows how will this pan out. I guess Tito is doing the same. My take is he will try not risk anything defensively this season. 3) We already have Pyuol on team, whose injury problems are creating uncertainty. We can’t afford another uncertainty. 4) We are looking for pace in CB’s, who can complement Pique. Abidal’s pace post illness, is an issue 5) In Abidal’s case, I would trust more on medical staff than the player. He would always have conflict of interest. We don’t know that part of the story.

    I also wonder at such one sided criticism of Board. I see no reason from Rosell’s side for not renewing. As I mentioned earlier, it is a PR suicide and why would he risk it? Unless it is for the benefit of the next year’s project. He conducted himself very well and did not said a single word against Abidal. He did not said a word about Abidal’s health, which will hamper Abidal’s chances with other teams. He gave a decent way out for Abidal by saying that he can return to the club anytime in honorary position. We as a club supported him in his crisis period and took decision of not renewing, when he is fit to play. We were with him, in his most trying times. Things are looking better for him and now he can also earn his living elsewhere. Not renewing when he is better is not inhumane. After all, we are not running a charity. Looking at all the above reasons, it seems a logical decision that we should not risk Abidal for next season. It is Abidal, who should accept the reality that he is not into plans for next year.

    Regarding promises made to Abidal earlier, my sense is criticism of this year’s performance and no-risk agenda of Tito have changed their (Tito and Rosell) mind regarding Abidal. They might have taken risk with Abidal, if this season would have went well and we would not have lost to Bayern 7-0.

    Above I might have come out as cold, but I also love Abidal. His story is worth reading and telling. But I try to put myself into management’s shoes and try to look at objectively. Management always has a difficult situation in hand, as on one side they have to manage fan’s expectations and on other side they manage players aspirations, coaches choices, growth trajectory, their aspirations and finances. Sometimes you have to take tough decisions and I see this as tough decision.

    • Roberto Senyera says:

      Well said. I believe the further away from the announcement day we go the more cogent this decision will be to almost all of the fans.

      Abidal is no longer a spring chicken, hasn’t played much for 2 + seasons, and there is always a possibility of a relapse/complication from the cancer. Puyol is still being carried on the roster.

      We need defenders we can rely on to play well and to play massive minutes. Period.

      It was a ruthless decision. It was also the correct decision.

    • Roberto Senyera says:

      Also, everyone should remember a simple point. A point I found both perplexing and disappointing at the time.

      When Abidal was available for selection and cleared by our medical staff, Bartra was picked to start against BM instead of Abidal (I personally found that decision shocking and totally incorrect, but hey, I’m not part of the staff). If Abidal isn’t better than Bartra, he should be released. Simple.

  21. barca96 says:

    Abidal is the answer to your 4th point. He is a CB now.

    Agreed on everything else though. And excellent point about the staff knowing his situation better.

    One thing that I still dont understand is, in the little time he was given a chance to play by Tito, he excelled. So why didn’t Tito play him more often? For that reason I think that it was more Tito’s decision not to renew Abidal.

    • Taps says:

      I guess you interpreted it incorrectly. I was trying to say that Barcelona management is now looking for a CB with Pace. Abidal’s pace is a question mark.

    • Taps says:

      I also think that it was more of a Tito’s decision. That’s why I give more credit to Rosell because he stood by coach despite knowing how fans will be against it.

      • barca96 says:

        But Taps, don’t you think that Abidal is one of the paciest defenders around?

        • Taps says:

          I don’t think so, esp after such a big illness. I think I read it somewhere that he has lost some strides in pace. Keeping the fitness and pace for 90 minutes will be very difficult for him. But who knows mate, the truth about his fitness will be revealed in next one year. Right now everything is either opinion or hearsay. Only thing I understand is that keeping him on team is a risk.

          • barca96 says:

            You’re definitely right that he lost some pace. It must’ve been due to his age and his illness. Even with some lost steps, he did look pacey enough and looked comfortable, a better option that sMasch (who is a beast! , Adriano, Busi or Song).

  22. alpinegroove says:

    Why isn’t Deulofeu playing with the U21 team?

    • barca96 says:

      From what I understand from the guys at B-Blaugranes, it’s because he is in the U-20 team. I don’t understand why there is a need to have an U-19, u-20 and U-21. It should be u-19 and u-21 and then the senior team.

    • Roberto Senyera says:

      He’s playing in the U-20 World Cup which is under the jurisdiction of FIFA.

      U-19 & U-21 are under the jurisdiction of UEFA.

      The tournys are too close for a player to play in both (that would be my educated guess):
      UEFA U-21 June 05-18
      FIFA U-20 June 21-July 13

  23. Momo says:

    neymar really needs to bulk up for europe, the french are bulldozing him right now

    • alpinegroove says:

      Yes, he goes down almost every time there is contact with the defender.

      • BA says:

        with Neymar on the left and Alexis on the right, we’ll have the wimpiest wingers in Europe.

        • Momo says:

          Ya, not going to help the diving image people have… I don’t see him being a threat at his current weight, he gets pushed off the ball sooo easily

          Im usually an optimist but my hopes for his first season have gone down after watching his last couple of matches

          who knows though? it might be the subpar service he’s been getting from the brazilian NT… haven’t been impressed at all though,

          • BA says:

            saw a video of all his touches in that game.

            haven’t shifted from my belief that we should have spent his money on Gareth Bale.

          • G6O says:

            I don’t think these games provide a meaningful sample of data for evaluation. If you have watched Messi in any of Argentina’s games in the years before 2011-2012, without knowing what he was doing when playing for Barca, you would not have come out with the impression that you’re watching one of the three best players in the history of the game. Because the team sucked so comprehensively, he simply was not allowed the space and time on the ball even he needs to shine.

            It may be a very similar situation with Neymar. Brazil at the moment have no functioning midfield and are simply the worst Brazilian NT since perhaps 1974, or maybe even earlier than that. As a result he neither gets the ball often enough nor is it in dangerous positions. He was indeed bulldozed by the French and there is no question he needs to put some muscle onto his frame, but he also managed to get past his defender most of the times he tried to do so, it is just that it was rarely in or around the box. And there was in fact space for him to operate, but this midfield is so slow in circulating the ball and Fred and Hulk so poor in moving without it that he never got it on time or in positions to do damage. That’s not going to be the case with us so let’s wait and see.

    • nia says:

      Yeah, he’s kind of on the skinny side, ala Di Maria. Well arccoding to Sport, Barca sent him a bulking up regime for after the confederation cup so he has to come for pre season with at least a kg gain in muscle mass. Even the Santos doctors agreed he had to gain weight. Don’t know why they didn’t start bulking him up sooner.
      After seeing how we were bullied all throughout the CL this year by Celtic, Spartak, Benfica infact, all the team were clearly stronger than us and out muscled us easily an underwieght light footed Neymar is not going to change that soon.

  24. Taps says:

    I am sorry to say but I find the post a bit over dramatic. My reply is mostly related to football as business –

    ~ “The football club that we devote so much to, in all of its mes que-ness, is a business. Business is cold. Business doesn’t have a heart.” ~

    I really don’t think, in business people don’t take decisions based on emotions. In fact when people doesn’t control their emotions (power, greed, ruthless expansion) that’s when businesses goes belly-up. My uncle runs a small firm here in India and I have seen him taking care of employees in their illness. They just don’t abandon them. Business isn’t supposed to be cold, business is about taking decisions to increase longevity and benefiting everybody concerned. Business is about taking financial responsibility and being fair to employees and customers. Isn’t the responsibility of a sport club is same? When sports club pays salaries in millions, they recover from us. When we talk about cutting employees, sports is one of those area where employees come and go. In fact % attrition is far lesser in Apple and Microsoft than a football club. They have much stringent process of firing employees than a football club (by its nature). So because of football club’s nature of business, it is much more attuned to hiring and firing.

    Every football club should treat its employees fairly and that is their only obligation towards them. Their obligations towards fans is till the point it doesn’t affect club’s longevity. Everybody knows a restaurant which they use to love and was closed down due to financial problems. I know couple of them like that. And I use to think why didn’t he managed well? If he was in such a dire situation, he could’ve increased prices or if nothing else than could’ve asked for charity or loan from regular patrons. I am sure I would’ve loaned him some amount. But what about his mismanagement? I loved his food, so should I just continue bearing that (through high prices). In effect I want to say that, majorly, it is the responsibility of management to manage longevity in efficient manner and ours to give them our money or helping them in earning money.

    If keeping Abidal is not an efficient decision then so be it. If expelling ill Abidal is not fair to him, so organisation has failed towards meeting one objective. Everything should go hand in hand. It is not only what Abidal wants, it is also how Barcelona club sees it. Club’s POV could be sporting, financial or pleasing fans. Management should take the decision in the best interest of the club’s future.

    ~ “Eric Abidal is angry. And he feels betrayed. The club has given him so much, from making him a multi-millionaire to allowing him to play a game that he loves at the absolute highest level, to funding and supporting his battle with a disease that takes lives. And yet, he is still angry with that entity.” ~

    Isn’t it the problem with Abidal expectations?

    • Jafri says:

      I think most of us wanted to see Abidal being given a fair shake before a decision being made. Makes no sense to play him in a couple of matches, not wait to see how he performs after the injury and then release him. The preseason would have been a good time to properly assess him. If he wasn’t up to snuff then, it would be okay to not give him an extension.

      Is it efficient to expel Abidal? I don’t think the club had the complete picture when they decided to do so.

      • Taps says:

        ~ “Is it efficient to expel Abidal? I don’t think the club had the complete picture when they decided to do so.” ~

        As I explained earlier in my post that keeping him on a roaster is a big risk. And I believe that most of the decisions are based on risk assessment, rather than complete picture.

      • Taps says:

        ~ “Is it efficient to expel Abidal? I don’t think the club had the complete picture when they decided to do so.” ~

        As I explained earlier, keeping Abidal on the roaster is a big risk. And I believe that most of the decisions are based on risk assessment, rather than complete picture. I believe currently our club’s mindset is about not taking any risk.

        Regarding pre-season – I think it is better to be clear now than being clear at the starting of the season. This way we will not get into panic buying. If we are clear now, then at least we give ourself a chance of having pre-season with new signings. This is also being honest to Abidal. He knows how the board and coach feels about him. He now have a chance to carefully select a club.

        Also, there is one big unknown. We don’t know whether Abidal was ready to accept a decision after pre-season. His agent started pressurizing board (for new deal) even before the season ended.

  25. xdxm says:

    Super sub Alvaro Morata does it again for U-21 ESP. Every time I see him play—both internationally and for RM—he really impresses me. Whoever comes in as manager at Madrid has a couple of really talented canteras in Morata and Jese.

  26. xdxm says:

    Also Illaramendi MOTM. Mature beyond his years. Not that it would ever happen but would love to see him as Xavi’s replacement. Cesc and Thiago better in advanced positions. Illara prototypical deep lying Spanish midfielder. Kid has a bright, bright future.

    • barca96 says:

      Aha so it’s you who’s been banging on Illaramendi on the liveblog :)

    • Roberto Senyera says:

      He was a beast.

      However, he plays the deepest midfield role. Busquets plays there for us and is still quite young. I don’t see him as being better than Thiago, Cesc, and Iniesta in the more advanced MF roles.

      • barca96 says:

        Illaramendi looked more aggressive to me than Busi and goes further up the field to participate in an attack and even takes shots and his passing range isn’t that far off.

        Busi needs to be more complete by doing more offensive work rather than being too defensive minded. He should be more of a threat.

        • Roberto Senyera says:

          Considering how leaky our defense was last season and the fact that we have two fullbacks that like to push forward I’d rather see Busquets continue to sit deep. We have enough people going forward already (this is one thing Song didn’t do at Arsenal very well — he went on walkabout way too often and lacked tactical/positional awareness). We need some players to focus on defense. I’d rather Busi stay home and act as that perfect pivot — transition from defense to offense quickly with that perfect first pass & position yourself astutely.

          Busi’s perfect being Busi.

        • gasgas says:

          Bro we have only one CDM and two attack minded full backs!! How many goals will we concede if Busquets takes part in attack?? Unless you are suggesting a double pivot!!!!!!

  27. barca96 says:

    Since Rosell is such a hot topic now, I would like to share this article from SB Nation’s Barca Blaugranes;

    http://www.barcablaugranes.com/2013/6/9/4411770/who-is-sandro-rosell

    • CuleToon says:

      This is Sandro Rosell, too (scroll to see the picture):

      http://www.racocatala.cat/forums/fil/131044/conspiracio-dels-onze-artur-mas-participa-reunio-estrategica-aturar-lindependentisme?pag=1

      As I said in a previuos post, the caption talks about the meeting of the catalan powers-that-be with Sandro Rosell, prior to 2010 Barça election. Among them: Artur Mas, now president of the Catalan government; Enric Lacalle, a real power behind the throne and one of the heads of the Partido Popular (Spain’s right wing) branch in Catalonia; José Antich, one of the heads of Group Godó (strongest media group in Catalonia); Josep Cuní, the most important anchorman in Catalan TV, today at 8TV (Group Godó); Antoni Brufau, president of Repsol-YPF (the biggest spanish Oil Company), and Joan Maria Nin, CEO of La Caixa, today CaixaBank, the strongest bank in Catalonia and one of the top three in Spain.

      By the way, when questioned about the rumours on this meeting —before this photo was leaked— some of these people denied that it had taken place.

  28. barca96 says:

    Song, Alexis & Mourinho are in Marca’s biggest letdown of the year. Mourinho :lol:

    • nia says:

      Song hasn’t been bad at all bar a few games, even Alexis besides the bad luck he had in front of goal. Song did better in his first yr than Cesc tbh. Marca forgot to mention about half of their team. Marcelo, Pepe, Albiol, Higuain, Casillas, Arbeloa, Adan, Di Maria, all had a hand in failing to win anything this yr. Yes I put Casillas in there too coz he played poorly before he was dropped. I don’t think Mou is the only person to let EE down this yr. I dislike the guy a lot but, he was the only person bothered to win anything at all. Marca should point out their players.

    • Roberto Senyera says:

      Song was a mistaken purchase from the start. That buy never made any sense from any angle, still doesn’t, and I believed that there was more chance of the Haitian Space Agency (HSA) landing a man on the moon than Song landing in Barcelona.

      The scarce resources spent on Song should have been utilized elsewhere. Economists would call it opportunity cost. Now, the money spent on Song may be referred to as sunk costs. Arsenal is happier than we are by that bit of business — that pretty much says it all.

      So much for my prognostic skills. Back to watching the space channel for me.

  29. Ultraculé says:

    In these boards, everybody agrees we need center backs and GK.
    Does nobody feel that we need at least one CF in the team, with Villa set to go? If I recall correctly, even Cruyff and Pep favored a front line with one power forward flanked by 2 wingers. With BVB rejecting BM’s move for Lewandowski, he could be an awesome addition to the Barca strike force. Imagine a 3-4-3 formation with Messi at the tip of the diamond flanked by Neymar and Sanchez with Lewandowski upfront.
    Drool!

    • barca96 says:

      I don’t think it will work, again. It didn’t work with Henry, Ibra, etc.

      I didn’t know Dortmund rejected it. I guess they are sick of helping Bayern get stronger and prefer to sell him to a non German thing. I think we have a chance to land him. Would “like” to try with the proper #9 again.

      • Ultraculé says:

        Henry was played wide left.
        Ibra was amazing until he turned rogue and started sulking.
        The idea was always good.

        • Kxevin says:

          Exactly, Ultracule. I think people forget that Henry was as successful as he was, even in his “poor” first season. And his second season was staggering. But yes, that last season was a mess, complicated by aggravating an injury he picked up in the 2-6 Classic that never got a chance to heal properly.

          As for Ibrahimovic, 21 goals and helped the club to a Liga that season. Again, I would hardly classify that as “didn’t work.” Yes. Psychologically, things went to pot. But I am assuming that nobody thinks that only Ibrahimovic was to blame in that mess, right?

          A 9 can work if Messi understands that the person is there to do more than clear space for him. Lewandowski is precisely the kind of agile, mobile striker that can work in our system, but it will NEVER happen.

          No top attacker is going to go to a team that has Messi and Sanchez, Pedro and Tello, and just bought Neymar. Doesn’t take a math whiz to understand how vicious the battle for minutes is going to be.

          And I wouldn’t rule out that Bayern transfer just yet. Gomez was moved to make way for Lewandowski, and Dortmund would be nuts to let him leave on a free next summer.

          • barca96 says:

            Calm down boys. If you remember I was a big fan of Henry. What I meant was that Henry when played at CF didn’t work as well although I wish he was given more chances to play that role.

          • Ultraculé says:

            A 9 can work if Messi understands that the person is there to do more than clear space for him. Lewandowski is precisely the kind of agile, mobile striker that can work in our system

            This is actually a brilliant line(of thought). I would however replace your ‘CAN’s with ‘WILL’s. For me, there is no doubt. The first line is simple, but loaded. Almost postworthy in itself.

            I wonder what would happen (how the team would play and what kind of results) if Messi set himself a different personal challenge for the upcoming season (as he always does) just for fun.
            “This time, Let me try to finish..not with 70 GOALS and 30 assists, but with 10 goals and 90 ASSISTS!”

          • barca96 says:

            via barcastuff

            Mourinho (coach Chelsea): “I
            damaged Spanish football? I broke
            Barcelona’s dominance, which
            looked like a dominance without an
            end.”

            I really hope that we won’t meet him in CL until his reign at Chelsea is over. It’s going to be ugly and he can beat us with Chelsea. I can’t take that.

        • Ryan says:

          Henry even gave us some flexibility playing centrally. Recall the game he came in as a sub while we were losing to Valencia, His hold-up play and ability to play off players in the center turned the game around for us.

  30. Kxevin says:

    Debates about the worth of a player verge on pointless. Back on Song now? Let’s look at a Messi dribble for illustration.

    He takes the ball, runs a 5 defenders. Smokes 3, fakes one more out of the stadium but the fifth dispossesses him. Fan: “Wow! Did you SEE that?” Neutral: “Why didn’t he pass?”

    Other players are no different. Even matches in which TV commentators and journos were saying Song played very well; some were saying he sucked. That’s just how it goes.

    • Roberto Senyera says:

      Time capsule: Summer 2012
      FCB is in dire need of a top class CB. We settle on some allegedly Swiss Army multi gadget player named Song. We could have spent those funds on a decent CB (since we couldn’t shell out for a top flight CB like Thiago Silva) and moved Masch back to his natural holding MF role (and backup to Busquets). Masch could have been that Swiss Army multi gadget man for us, when needed, if injuries piled up in the CB positions. The money we spent on Song could have been used to purchase a CB like Vertonghen (for instance) — that’s the opportunity cost of Song.

      Fast forward to the summer of 2013 (the present)
      FCB is still searching for that top class CB.
      What will FCB do?
      Déjà-vu?
      Or déjà-vu??

      Song is a decent player but I never considered him Barça quality (and I still don’t). The English team I follow is Arsenal so I’ve seen him more than enough. Of course, it’s just my opinion. He’s nothing more than a Keita replacement (a younger Keita, perhaps) at best. A guy to: 1) bring in during the last 10 minutes of a tight match and play beside Busquets in a double pivot, and 2) spell Busquets if injured or against weaker league teams when possible.

      For a Keita replacement he is rather expensive.

  31. Kxevin says:

    Meanwhile, the club is fighting back. Leaked to Sport and MD: “We consulted with everybody in the club, and they all didn’t think the risk was worth it. Doctors also.”

    Nasty.

    – Tomorrow should be fun. Laporta and Freixa are having pressers at noon and 1 p.m. respectively, BCN time.

    • barca96 says:

      Good thing that the club fought back the claims. And good choice if it’s really a risk.

      Based from what we saw on the pitch, he was back to his normal self. So what kind of risk do they mean? Performance related that he won’t be able to perform at a high level or health risk?

      But I do wonder, if it really is a risk, why didn’t they tell it to Abidal’s face? Abidal of all people should know that he’s in risk.

      • blitzen says:

        If the decision was really made on medical reasons, fine, but why not just tell Abidal that? Why make it some big mystery? I still find the way they handled it completely disrespectful, both to Abidal and to the fans who have supported him this whole time.

  32. barca96 says:

    As stated above, it was a selection by Marca or its readers. It wasn’t me or anyone here criticizing Song. I find it quite hard to believe that he was selected though as with few others. Reason why I put those names here was because he is a Barca player and/or it’s just an odd choice.

  33. barca96 says:

    Watched Spain vs Germany.

    Montoya is unbelievably good. He from the Barca batch is the best and deserves to start the most. Too bad he had the best RB in front of him.

    Bartra looked good too. Tello did ok. Thiago is a weird one. He did many things right but too many noticeable errors. Great that he’s a captain because he’s the best leader but he shouldn’t play so deep. But I guess that’s the arrangement to let Isco do his thing as it looks that Isco is more creative.

    Isco is the best player on the team tbh. He is soo good! Watched him closely in the last match day and in this u21 match.

    I would say that he had the nearest right foot to Messi’s left foot. So soft. He is a combination of Iniesta and Messi to me, the way he dribbles, his touch. Can we sign him please??! I really hope that he doesn’t go to Madrid. Go to Man City and then come to us.

    • Roberto Senyera says:

      Four FCB players in the starting eleven — good to see.

      Bartra had so little to do it was almost impossible to rate him in this game. Germany U21 produced next to nothing all match long. Bartra could have played this match in a lounge chair.

      Germany U21: Two matches played, two losses, packing their bags back to their homeland — they pulled an England. So much for that “Germany is taking over football” bollocks. Germany, thank you for participating in this U21 competition and please accept these lovely parting gifts.

      I see Isco as an Iniesta type of player. I don’t think we have the funds for him this season, at all. He’d have to play in one of two midfield positions for us if he were to come here and we’re loaded in those spots, at the moment. Even though he plays on the left wing(a tucked in LW) for both Malaga & the U21s, I don’t see that as his best position (although he can play there). It looks like FCB is stressing pace on the wings (which I agree with) and that’s one thing he lacks.

      I’d bet Isco follows Manuel to Man City. Once Iniesta is close to retiring we may repatriate him. I think he’s a fabulous player also. Totally agree that the last thing I want to see is M*drid getting their filthy hands on him. Word is, EE may get their grubby hands on Mata though.

      • Messiah10 says:

        If Mou sold Mata to EE he’d be an idiot. Mata was undoubtedly Chelski’s player of the year. They guy came up huge nearly every game. I can’t see them letting him go.

    • Roberto Senyera says:

      It looked to me that Illarramendi played the lone deep pivot, Koke and Thiago further up centrally, with Isco playing LW (but a tucked in LW).

  34. barca96 says:

    G60 is right. How can we judge him when he’s playing in a totally different system with less gifted players? Let’s wait and see as Kxevin says it.

    But G60, Messi was good for Argentina in 2010 too. It’s just that it wasn’t really his team yet and he was unlucky with goals. He came in with a bang though in the 2007 Copa America.

  35. barca96 says:

    You are really knowledgeable! Do you know if there are some rumblings with the club members or board members? I mean Rosell has made some wrong decisions in my opinion with the soci membership, Qatar, jersey, etc. And many non Spanish fans practically blame him for everything that’s wrong with many going to the extent of accusing him of interfering in team matters.

    So if Rosell is really that bad, isn’t there anyone making noise or at least leaking dirty laundry out to the press? I can’t imagine noone in the board room wouldn’t make some noise if Rosell did too many mistakes.

    • barca96 says:

      Damn it! It was meant as a reply to CuleToon. Sorry y’all.

    • CuleToon says:

      More that being knowledgeable, I’m just a Catalan Barça soci who lives in BCN, so I see and hear news on Barça everywhere, through any media, wether I like it or not (I’m inclined to pay attention to them, though). It looks like football in general, and Barça in Catalonia, is deemed a good antidote against the effects of the crisis (thanks to Barça, it does work well here; not so much for madridistas elsewhere, I presume).

      I don’t expect noise from anyone in the board: they seem rather united (a common enemy, perhaps?) and, apart from Rosell, Bartomeu and Freixa, the rest of the board has a very low profile (is there any other member of the board that comes readily to mind?).

      The fact that many non Spanish fans practically blame Rosell & Co for everything that’s wrong, and the fact that there isn’t anyone making noise or at least leaking dirty laundry out to the press here, are explained by the role of the Catalan media. Those socis and fans outside Catalonia-Spain are not subjected to the media bias we suffer here. For example, have you heard about Rosell not being able to go to Brazil because he would have to stand trial for commiting fraud? And it’s not a small thing: He faces an 8-year sentence in prison.

      Well, as a curious example, you can find info about this in a Nicaragua paper (http://www.elnuevodiario.com.ni/deportes/280333). But you do not find such news here (only Madrid papers like Marca and As mentioned it briefly, too briefly…). And this comes from 2008, no less! It appeared in non-mainstream media, mostly blogs, before the 2010 election, but, in the end, it went unnoticed. No, sorry: it was —and still is— conveniently suppressed.

      Why is that? Well, that’s the effect of those powers-that-be that back Rosell & Co through the media (mainly the Godó media group). And what about other, non-Godó, media? Well, just look at the photograph above and its caption: you don’t want to mess with these people, do you? (Apart from that, if sports papers like EMD and Sport don’t «please» the Barça board —historically, any Barça board, let’s be clear on this- they wouldn’t be able to offer Barça-branded products —Barça parkas, pajamas and towels, Barça clocks and radios, Barça cutlery and dinner sets, Barça whatever they can think of— to make readers buy their papers every day just to get all daily «coupons» in order to get those products).

      Frankly, sometimes I envy those innocent souls that think that Barça —from the board to the team and the individual players— is somehow isolated from the society it is in, from the society it stems from, and from its power struggles.

      • Levon says:

        So Culetoon,
        what do people in Catalunya think of Rosell’s decisions regarding Abidal, Neymar, his sueing of previous board members, his stripping of Cruijff’s honorary president role and the limitations put on new club membership?

        • CuleToon says:

          One can’t generalize on such things. The only thing I can tell you is that, since the times of Núñez, specially when he ousted Cruyff as Barça manager at the end of the Dream Team, there’s been an irreconcilable division among Barça socis (in fact, you can trace this division much further back, since Núñez was never accepted by a large proportion of socis, but he kept beeing elected thanks to his so called «loyal 20.000», mostly members of «penyes» which received a lot of privileges from Núñez; nonetheless, the dismissal of Johan was the final straw).

          So we have Laportistes-Cruyffistes (and now Guardiolistes) on one side, and Rosellistes-Nuñistes on the other. (A rather curious thing, though: After the disaster of Gaspart presidency, I was really struck by the fact that a very large number of «nuñistes» voted for Laporta’s candidacy after all those years of Laporta’s campaign against Núñez! They even talked in its favor in front of the voting tables… Now, though, everything is as always: nuñistes are pro Rosell and anti Laporta, and cruyffistes are pro Laporta and anti Rosell. In other words: the wish for a non-partisan presidency that Kevin and others have expressed is impossible).

          Now:

          Abidal: Mostly in favor of his renewal (though the partisan media is doing its job to revert it).

          Neymar: Almost unanimously hopeful.

          Sueing previous board members: THE division.

          Stripping of Cruijff’s honorary presidency: THE division.

          Limitations put on new club membership: Mostly indifferent, since socis are socis anyway; as for the rest, there’s no talk about it, perhaps because you can watch all Barça games at home or at the nearest pub.

          (It goes without saying that I’m cruyffista-guardiolista, and more anti Rosell that pro Laporta, although I’d vote for Laporta if there was an election today. Anyway, what I hope for —and Rosell & Co fear— is to see Guardiola as president of Barça).

  36. nanoculé says:

    With all the discussion about Rosell’s, the club’s and Tito’s thoughts and motivations in letting Abidal go, has anyone else thought that possibly Abidal is now using the attention from the media and his public statements to make himself look stronger in the eyes of potential suitors and the public’s perception?

  37. K_legit in Oz says:

    So, Laporta’s gonna run again.

  38. Nik says:

    I highly recommend people read up on Laporta’s press conference. Rosell got served.

    • CuleToon says:

      More precisely, Nik, let people read up Laporta’s COMPLETE press conference on Marca or AS! And compare it with the reports on Sport and, specially on El Mundo Deportivo: an excellent case in point of the media role I keep talking about.

    • CuleToon says:

      More info:

      As of now, reader’s comments on Sport, EMD, As and Marca are overwhelmingly in favor of Laprota. And the midday sports program on Catalunya Ràdio is reporting extensively on it (with a slightly favorable tone, by the way).

      • Kxevin says:

        The Laporta presser was nothing that we haven’t been saying all along. The Freixa follow-up presser was mostly uninteresting, except for the bomb that it will now take 15% to foment rebellion, up from 5% which is where it always has been.

        Getting 5% of socis to sign on for a recall petition isn’t all that hard. The club just has to have enough complexities to make a president vulnerable. 15% is a huge, verging on impossible, hurdle. It makes the cynical wonder what Rosell is planning for the future.

        The referendum for the new vs renovated Nou will happen at the beginning of next year, Freixa also announced. Time bomb? There is also a proposal to give Penyas voting power. As it is now, you can be a member of a Penya, but not be a soci. A very interesting change, as well. Each Penya will gain a voting member, who will have a say in key club decisions, such as …. oh, just throwing this out there …. a new stadium, named say, the Estadi Qatar Waste Disposal.

        • CuleToon says:

          In Núñez days, practically 100 per cent of members of Catalan penyes were voting socis. If Rosell & Co grant the right to vote to penyes with no socis, specially if he talks about all the penyes outside Catalonia, we will see an up-to-date version of those old «20.000 loyals».

          Add to this that minimum 15% of signatures for a recall petition.

          @¢#@!…

          • Kxevin says:

            Exactly …. the acquisition of loyal voting blocs would be very useful, hence the decision to delay the stadium referendum, which was supposed to have already happened.

        • Nik says:

          The Laporta presser was nothing that we haven’t been saying all along.

          Oh, I fully agree. Still, it was nice to someone with a bigger profile and influence than you or I give voice to our frustrations. The best part, as many noted on Twitter, is that Laporta really didn’t have to work too hard to slam Rosell. Sandro served it up to him on a silver platter.

          • Kxevin says:

            My regret in all of this is that my fear, dislike and distrust of him turned out to be justified.

            I think that all presidents are self-serving. (BTW, Laporta told the bald-faced lie about not knowing about the spying, but that’s another story.) And even if I don’t agree with what they do, I usually feel like, at some point, they have the club’s best interest at heart.

            Laporta was shamelessly self-serving. But he wanted absolute success for the club as a catapult to his new role as King of Catalunya. So it was a self-serving drive that worked. Rosell wants a personal legacy, though I can’t figure out what exactly he would like that legacy to be. I rather imagine a shiny new stadium would be a start.

            I hate to be a cynical old bastard, but it kills me to think that he would be happier announcing record profits than celebrating trophies. I don’t want to think that, nor do I believe that it is entirely true. That the thought crossed my mind bothers the hell out of me, though.

          • Nik says:

            Laporta was shamelessly self-serving. But he wanted absolute success for the club as a catapult to his new role as King of Catalunya. So it was a self-serving drive that worked. Rosell wants a personal legacy, though I can’t figure out what exactly he would like that legacy to be. I rather imagine a shiny new stadium would be a start.

            I would say both are the same in their desire to leave behind a legacy as the most successful president in the club’s history. For me, the difference is that I find Laporta’s methods & actions more appealing than Rosell’s.

  39. TITO says:

    It has nothing to do with us or with football in general, but i had to post this, is hilarious.

    A bank employee state of Hesse in Germany last April issued a transfer order of 222,222,222.22 euros, instead of the expected 64.20, after falling asleep on the keyboard by pressing the number 2 key on his computer, according to the BBC .

  40. Kxevin says:

    And lest I forget, @CuleToon: You’re a great voice to have around. Between you and nzm, we have two socis in Barcelona with ears and feet on the ground. Thanks for all the commentary/knowledge.

    • CuleToon says:

      You’re welcome! But I’ve always felt BFB has more than two people in Barcelona «with ears and feet on the ground», as you say!

      • Kxevin says:

        Hey, did you see where Laporta echoed your comments about the Godo media group and its campaign against he, Cruijff and Guardiola?

        This election is going to be so unspeakably nasty. I rather imagine that Rosell and the board are regretting taking the high road in not demanding full payment of that guarantee from Laporta. Genius move by the soci who precipitated the court action to put the ball in Rosell’s court by saying “It’s up to you all, now.”

        • CuleToon says:

          The role of the Godó media group is there for all —with a minimum critical awareness— to see! But as I said before, this group is just the messenger.

          I’d like to say more, but I’d only repeat previos posts; and I know that many people here prefer not to know about all that cultural, political and economic mess that surrounds Barça, a football club they love just because of the way it plays. Lucky them that can obviate this mess; we Catalan socis have to face it daily!

          • blitzen says:

            No, we really appreciate hearing about the “behind-the-scenes” stuff, actually. The club doesn’t exist in a vacuum, after all. Many people would prefer to ignore all that and just continue talking about transfers or tactics, but this blog has always aspired to be a place where we talk about all aspects of the club. It’s what brought many of us here in the first place. So please do keep posting anything you think is relevant.

  41. Gogah says:

    Agree that the Joan presser is nothing different from what we know of Sandro already. I think, like someone said, the truth (ideal president) lies somewhere in Between the 2 rivals. One that has the best of both.

    Feel it will come down to that trump card. Unless Laporta can guarantee Pep (and follow with forming the right team), he may find it very difficult, in spite of the growing hatred among fans towards Rosell. IF, he does stand with the promise of a St.Pep, All the countless Nunistes and Penyes won’t be able to hold a candle.

  42. Ben says:

    Whoscored.com put out an interested article on the best crossers in Europe and Dani Alves made an appearance at #3. They considered both accuracy and number of crosses to make that determination.

    I found it fascinating as many (including myself) criticize Alves for his wayward crossing.

      • Archie says:

        I think Alves is excellent crosser when he has a target, even if it’s Messi wriggling free of his Dementors. At this level, I think successful crosses come out of defensive lapses. This season he found himself in many situations in which crossing was the remaining option, but target was extremely low probability of success. He had howlers in Brazil vs England game, but no one on pitch could kick that ball low and the right distance.

        • Archie says:

          I don’t think it’s only defensive lapses, but the combination of offensive flow and defensive mistake. A good cross is the result of two or more players running together intelligently.

        • Jim says:

          Sorry, just can’t agree with that. I’ve seen Alves deliver possibly the worst series of crosses this year I’ve ever seen from a skilful football player. He doesn’t just miss by a fraction – it often misses by an entire stand ! It makes his free kicks look good.

          Feel better after that rant but come on. We’ve all seen it this season. Why doesn’t he work on this? His technique is all wrong. He tries to put his foot through a cross, often leaning back. That’s just wrong – but easily sorted. It’s really all it would take to turn him into a real danger. The problem is that quite often this year he’s been the one defences leave in the position to cause some danger but he can’t go past a man and can’t cross so we gain no benefit from all our moving the defence about. (Partly compounded by the fact that we sometimes have nobody in the box).

          • Archie says:

            Thanks for commenting. Yes, he has conspicuous crosses to nowhere this year, but did he two years ago? I didn’t watch enough La liga games this year to have large sample-based opinion. I remember 2010-11 marveling at his accuracy, but also at the context, the targets were rich. Did he get worse? Is my perception skewed?

  43. Kxevin says:

    Speaking of interesting statistics ….

    In his first two seasons with the first team, Thiago played 81 Barcelona games. Xavi played 58 in his first two seasons, Iniesta 26.

    • Calvin says:

      Those stats don’t compare years equally.

      If you look at the first years Xavi, Iniesta, and Thiago played exclusively with the first team (0 B appearances) it is:

      Thiago: 81 (start age 20)
      Xavi: 88 (start age 20)
      Iniesta: 63 (start age 19)

      Then you look at first team appearances prior to being exclusive first team members:

      Thiago: 20
      Xavi: 65
      Iniesta: 9

      If you correct for the ’99-2000 season for Xavi’s stats (as we should, only 4 B appearances because van Gaal was being a moron), we get:

      Xavi first two seasons: 74 matches (start age 19)
      Before that: 27

      Not really much difference between the three. At all

    • Calvin says:

      Another way to look at it is first team appearances by the end of the season in which they turned 22:

      Thiago: 101
      Xavi: 153
      Iniesta: 111

  44. Levon says:

    If only Thiago had Xavi’s mom, or Iniesta’s dad…

    • Jim says:

      Im not liking the lack of declaration of being willing to stay and work on his game that there should be round about now ( maybe I’ve just missed it). If he thinks he’s the finished article maybe it is in our interests to let him move on. Pity as he has genuine talent.

      • Kxevin says:

        In Thiago’s defense, he hasn’t said much of anything. All that we have are the usual silly season conjecture and made-up transfer rumors. Last we heard about matters, Vilanova had a talk with him, and the club is going to offer him a pay raise to underscore that we think he is valuable.

        But that last sentence of Jim’s comment echoes my sentiment, but that goes for ANY player who doesn’t want to be in the colors. The club shouldn’t have to beg, coddle or convince any player to stay at what I still believe to the best club in the world. For me, Vilanova needs to have a closed-door meeting which would essentially say “We are building something great here. If you don’t want to be part of it, we will find a club for you as quickly as we can, because we don’t have any time for bullshit.”

        • Levon says:

          Agreed. But I also feel this whole mess should have been avoided by 1) not putting this 60% playing time clause in his contract or 2) finding him the minutes to avoid activating this clause, because the alternative 3) losing Thiago for 18M would be 4) friggin’ stupid.

        • CuleToon says:

          Thiago reminds me of two other promising Barça players. Most of you won’t remember the first one, Luís Milla, the first «number four» in Cruyff’s dream Team. He was promoted from Barça B, and after a good first season he got bigheaded and asked for a raise, contravening the salary scale policy. «Good riddance!» Johan told him, and Milla went to RM driven by spite. His replacement was another promising boy from Barça B: Pep Guardiola. And the rest is history.

          (By the way, Milla had a mediocre career. For those interested, look for Luis_Milla on the English Wikipedia)

          The second player will ring a bell in some of you: Iván de la Peña. His case resembles that of Thiago in a different way. He was really good, he promised a lot, but he ended nowhere near his potential because he was too conceited to allow himself to learn and improve. Cruyff, Robson (not as much) and van Gaal tried to convince him that he should improve, that he didn’t have to do «the play of the match» every time he got the ball (something that led to frequent and dangerous losses), and he didn’t defend or backtrack that much. As to his subsequent career, look for Ivan_de_la_Peña on the English Wikipedia, if you will.

          I told on another post that, as far as I’m concerned, Thiago can leave as soon as he wishes. If he doesn’t have patience to wait and, above all, to improve, I will not miss him, nor his fancy passing tricks, nor his lost balls, nor his lack of hard work. I haven’t seen nothing in him that would make me regret his departure; but I’ve seen in him a lot that reminds me too much of those other two.

          By the way, Milla is very fond of Thiago because, together —Milla as manager and Thiago as key player— they won, among other things, the Sub-21 Euro Cup of 2011. And it looks like Milla doesn’t want Thiago to make the same mistake he did:

          http://www.sport.es/es/noticias/barca/milla-recomienda-thiago-quedarse-donde-esta-2411888

          • Calvin says:

            Except that Thiago has vastly improved the defensive aspect of his game and largely subjected his individualism to the needs of the team in the last three years. Doesn’t remind me of either of the conceited players you describe

          • Levon says:

            I think Thiago has more “fire” than lil’ Buddha, but yes I see where you are coming from with that comparison.

            Was too young to really remember much of Luis Milla so can’t really comment on that.

          • Kxevin says:

            My views are a lot simpler. Any player who doesn’t like it, can leave. The difficulty with trying to find a place in a club filled with exceptional players is that you have to wait your turn. Xavi did, Iniesta did, Messi did.

            Look at the ones who didn’t: Dos Santos, Assulin, Krkic, Romeu. Where are they now?

            Generally, things come when they are supposed to. This is no different for Thiago. He is a very talented player, who I hope very much remains with the club. But if he wants to leave, that’s okay too. Good luck in your future endeavors, until you play us.

            For me, it’s just that simple.

  45. PrinceYuvi says:

    The medical team didn’t give Abi renewal the green signal.
    Thats why all this.
    I think abi should just retire now, he has won everything.
    Spend time with family, train youngsters.
    Good decision by Rosell

  46. nia says:

    Anyone watch the Argentina game? What was the deal with Masche kicking the medic? On replay, it looks as though the medic driver was being dirty and squeezing Masche’s leg.

    • fotobirajesh says:

      Masche has taken a typical diplomatic stand and apologised. However in Argentine blogs, it seems there was something nasty, like someone spitting on him, etc. But he did kick on the stretcher guy.

      Whatever, the match was a big reminder that if Argentina wont have Messi, Masche and Gago in good form, they will suffer. They cant still find a decent central midfielder. But they did show lots of grit to defend, at high altitude, even if it means they gave up more than 20 corners!!! De Maria needs some counselling. What a talent, without brain, it seems.

      • barca96 says:

        I watched the clip many times to try finding out why sMasch would do such a disgusting thing. The only thing that could’ve provoked him was the water (unlikely a spit could be that big) which was flying around but it barely hit him and I don’t think it would’ve hurt him. And even if it was because of the water, it had nothing to do with the victim (the person carrying him).

        Haha what did di Maria do? He didn’t get a red card so I suppose it’s not violent related.

        • fotobirajesh says:

          I watched the whole match live and didnt had any clue what was happening. Learned about this spitting thing today from Argentina based blogs only. There are people who believe Masche trying to play the incident down by apologising and all, not saying the exact reason.

          De Maria was horrible. It looked like he got bitten by CR7 bug – shooting the ball at every sight. It looked like in the absence of Messi, he wanted to prove something. Before the arrival of Messi and even after, De Maria with some good thinking, could have helped Argentina win that difficult match.
          Can you believe a traditionally possession based team like Argentina had only 37% of the ball y’day, but they did have enough counter attack chances, most of which, I must say, were destroyed by De Maria shooting the ball away, sometimes even a few yards out of the centre line.

          • Kxevin says:

            Okay, I’ll say it. Messi had that match on his foot on the break. Didn’t even get it on frame. He doesn’t look fit, either, probably from all of the injury-forced idle time.

            Can’t see that “Messi and Friends” benefit in Chicago being worth crossing the street for.

          • fotobirajesh says:

            Would you mind explaining what you mean here – sorry for lack of excellent comprehension in English –
            Messi had that match on his foot on the break. Didn’t even get it on frame.

            He doesn’t look fit, either, probably from all of the injury-forced idle time. – of course he wasn’t.
            But dont get the first part.

          • Kxevin says:

            Oh, just that Messi should have done better with that late-match break he was on. He usually does.

  47. K_legit in Oz says:

    If Thiago wants to leave, let him. If he has the sense to stay put and have faith like Xavi et al did then good for him, if not, well then its his choice.

  48. Ultraculé says:

    Barcastuff reporting that Barca is interested in Torres.
    It definitely Never occurred to me, but may not be a bad idea.
    Although I Wouldn’t pay a penny more than what we get for Villa.

    • BA says:

      so we’re going to get rid of the top Spanish goalscorer in history and replace him with a player who’s been by turns injured and a laughingstock for 3 seasons. shocking if true.

    • KEVINO17 says:

      Torres would be fantastic. Barca has too many creators – it needs a pure finisher. With the sort of service Torres would get from Barca, he should be able to recapture his old form.
      Then barca wouldn’t have to use players like Alexis/Villa (neither of whom weigh much more than 10 stone) in the back-to-goal CF slot.
      Barca is far too reliant on midfielders ghosting into the box. Better to have someone like Torres lurking there the whole time.

      • BlaugranaFR says:

        Accommodating Torres is like fitting a square peg into a round hole. Better 9s in the form of Eto’o and Ibrahimovic have come and gone, precisely because Barcelona’s system is set up to make the most of Messi’s talents up front, in the center of the pitch. This is why we see a functional winger like Pedro preferred over a more talented winger like Alexis, because Pedro is able to play off of Messi in a way that maximizes Messi’s talents in the center.

        While Id’ really like to see a return to a front three similar to the Henry-Eto’o-Messi trident, I fear that Messi would not take to kindly being shunted to the right. This little flea of ours doesn’t seem to have a flea-sized ego. Besides, there are other 9s out there that fit our system better than Torres, Lewandowski being the first name that pops in my head. He works hard defensively, works the channels well, and is able to drop deep and link up with the midfielders. The last thing we’d want to see if a Gomez type of center forward with glacier-like pace, lurking in the box and doing little else but shoot.

        And why splash money on a forward when we need a centerback? It just doesn’t make sense.

        • KEVINO17 says:

          Just because Ibrahimovic didn’t work doesn’t mean Barca can’t play with a big CF (which he wasn’t anyway).
          Right now, Barca usually play with someone in the CF slot with his back to goal (usually Alexis/Villa) and they are just not big enough for the role.
          Barca doesn’t need someone who drops deep (after all, we have the best mid-fielders in the world and our whose game is based on possession). Nor do we need a lot of mobility a la Lewandowski. We need a cutting edge.
          Why not spend money on a forward AND a centre-back?

          • BlaugranaFR says:

            We do? As far as I’ve seen this season, we’ve played with Messi up front in a false 9 role with two wingers by his side. And when Messi wasn’t avaiable, it was Cesc who occupied his spot. I haven’t seen us employ a target man with his back to goal, bouncing off passes and combining with those around him.

            The last time I remember someone occuyping the CF spot in a meaningful game was Villa against AC Milan. And he wasn’t used as a target man at all. He was instead pushed forward to occupy the centerbacks, giving Messi the lisence to roam right behind him. And this was a strategy that was used sparingly throughout the season.

            We just divvied 57m on Neymar. I don’t think much is left in the kitty to spend on both a centerback AND forward.

          • BlaugranaFR says:

            And I believe that if Ibra weren’t such an asshat, he would’ve fit in seamlessly. He was a big target man that was strong enough to hold up play, and skillful enough to ping pretty passes to those around him. I remember Henry deployed in this role for certain portions of his last season. And it was a tactic that worked as part of an in-game adjustment, not as one of the 4-3-3′s variants.

            Ibra was a misfit not because of his skill set, but because a) he wanted to be seen as Messi’s equal in the system and b) of Messi’s reluctance to move to the right to accommodate Ibra in the center.

            I believe that as long as Messi is in the team, the center is his.

      • Roberto Senyera says:

        “With the sort of service Torres would get from Barca, he should be able to recapture his old form.”

        Torres couldn’t find his old form if he had three wishes from a genie. And Torres would somehow find a way to miss that too ;)

    • CuleToon says:

       
      My ideal CF for Barça would be a veteran that accepts a Larsson-type role (mainly in the bench and out for special occasions), very tall for headers, and with the ability to lower high balls while being with his back to goal and capable of either passing it to someone coming from second line or holding it until someone comes… Oh and cheap too.

      Roque Santa Cruz.

      • fotobirajesh says:

        what are the news in Catalunya about the Messi tax issue, if you dont mind friend.

        • CuleToon says:

          Nothing new, really. Everybody repeats the same info you can find in the links posted above by Kevin.

          The only thing worth of mention is the treatment this news has received from the so called «Caverna» («the Cavern», which means all the pro-Spain/anti-Catalan media, whose sports/football sub-set is known as «La central lechera» or «the Dairy»).

          For example, yesterday, the «national» TV channel «Cuatro» opened its daily news program at 8 pm with this news, nothing less!

          Apparently, nothing more important happened in Spain or in the rest of the World…

      • Ultraculé says:

        Get Eto’o back.
        Of course we’ll have to convince him to be happy to play a bit part role and accept a (much) lower salary.
        Where’s Forlan? Retired?

  49. KEVINO17 says:

    Nope, most games the winger on the opposite side to the ball slides across and keeps the CBs busy and off Messi’s back. Barca almost never plays pure false nine.

  50. Nik says:

    ESPN’s claiming that Barça’s contacted Lewandowski’s reps: http://espnfc.com/news/story/_/id/1475549/barcelona-join-lewandowski-race

    I’ll be honest: I haven’t watched enough of him to have an opinion either way on him (potentially) joining the squad. However, I hope that we’re ready to accomodate the system a little to take advantage of whoever we bring in (& Neymar).

  51. barca96 says:

    Isco. Isco. Golazo!!

  52. barca96 says:

    Look at the ones who didn’t: Dos Santos, Assulin, Krkic, Romeu. Where are they now?

    Agree with all of them except Romeu. He was starting to accumulate minutes then di Matteo got sacked and then his playing time decreased and then his injury came. I do wonder how he’s doing though. Gotta go sniff around Chelsea blogs.

  53. Kxevin says:

    Apparently Neymar didn’t want to wear a number at the presentation, because he didn’t want to many any waves, according to one of the Barça media twins. He is serious about taking whatever number is available, as well.

    – Despite MD sowing rumors about Sanchez being used as a makeweight in potential deals for Jovetic, Rooney, (insert attacker name here), club and player say he is going nowhere.

    • Roberto Senyera says:

      Villa leaves this summer, 7 becomes available. Have a discussion with Thiago and convince him to wear 7 with the intention that he gets 6 once Xavi retires. This frees up 11 to be given to Neymar whose usual number is 11 and is ideal from a marketing angle.

  54. Kxevin says:

    Rosell is having a presser. It’s a shameful exercise in self-congratulation:

    –The club made 30m this season.
    –If Vilanova does well this season, the club will be happy to renew him (now THERE’S a vote of confidence!)
    –Thiago should be patient, like Xavi and Iniesta before him.
    –I am really proud that I didn’t jettison Vilanova when he was sick.
    –Once Abidal got better, we treated him just like another football player (because you know, the offer of a job when he retires and a presser is normal procedure).
    –Uh, sorry about that Grada d’Animacio business. My bad.
    –If I could sign Thiago for 18m, I probably would.
    –We won’t tell any tales on the REAL Neymar cost, but if the other folks want to break confidence, they certainly can.
    –He would LOVE a new Nou. But with all of the spirit of the original one.
    –There will be one or two more signings. Who they are will depend upon who is sold.
    –Thiago’s buyout was NEVER 90m. It was always 18m, capable of going to 90m if 60% of games was reached.
    –The change in the number of signatures required to force a vote of no confidence (from 5 to 15 percent) is not a protective measure.
    –Against Bayern, we didn’t have luck with the referees.
    –Villa will continue with the club until he tells us otherwise.

  55. Ultraculé says:

    The problem is he makes it too easy to dislike him.

  56. Archie says:

    Can someone break down the cost of another club buying Thiago and why 18 million Eu is not a relatively high/good price, historically? I get that he has a lot of potential, but what is another team likely to pay? Is it low because of the Olivarch/Petro money distorting market for rare players? Is he rare? I also get that if the goal is to keep him then 90 mil gets the job done and 18 mil might not.

    • Archie says:

      Also, was it 60% of games or minutes or starts? How does that work?

      • Kxevin says:

        My understanding was 60% of the matches.

        To my view, 18m is a very fair price for a performer of Thiago’s provenance, for club and purchasing club. There is no question about his talent, but lots of players have talent and fail. United would be a big risk, for club and player. Can’t see Moyes making that kind of risk in his first year after Ferguson is gone. I could see them buying him and working him into the rotation, but he can get that at Barça.

        Personally, I would be a lot more worried about Rafinha, the brother, leaving.

        • simple_barcafan says:

          Rafinha better than Thiago? Blasphemy !!! :P

        • Archie says:

          Thanks! I have a gut “Nani” response to Thiago, ie, really good but in his mind he is always trying to be a similar player (CR, Messi) who is just way more complete personality and thinker.

          I am overwhelmed complexity of thinking about the variables of the squad at this moment. Who, at the club, is the brains behind short and long-term thinking?

          Does the success of La Masia/academies in general threaten to create a culture of privilege and unrealistic expectations and suppress self-knowledge and depth of personal growth (asked as a parent of an until recently homeschooled only child?) Obviously, academies are creating a lot of skilled players.

          • Kxevin says:

            Exactly. There is so much to consider. The mouthpiece, MD, threw out something today that if Thiago leaves, Song and Sergi Roberto would get more minutes. If you think about some of the midfielder roles being taken in the form of Neymar, a true winger, things suddenly get very interesting.

            Is Song/Sergi Roberto a step down from Thiago? Depends on what Vilanova is planning for his attack this season. What if BarçaBall isn’t going to be the preferred mode? After all, people know how to defend tika-taka, right. So it will have to evolve. So who knows?

            But, if I am looking for a player to continue in the tika-taka tradition, there are still folks in my line ahead of Thiago. In a future world, in which Iniesta/Fabregas are playing tika-taka, by the time they are ready to roll on, Messi, the best passer on the team, is ready to slide back into a midfield role. You also have the Busquets equation, and Masia generates plenty of mids.

            What Thiago HAS done is distracted folks from the CB question, which is a pretty neat trick.

            This all assumes that the Thiago matter isn’t already sorted, and he’s staying with the club.

        • Levon says:

          I thought it was 60% of the minutes, but you got me doubting…

          18M is a steal. For his age, Thiago is one of the best players of the world at his position/role. He should have been given more playing time at Barça this season. To me this is a no-brainer.

          Thing is, like Kxevin says, there are very few big clubs where a 22-year old player runs the midfield. Then again, there is perhaps no other club that has Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets taking your minutes, so he would probably get more playing time elsewhere.

          • Archie says:

            On the Thiago question:
            If you are ManU, do you prefer Thiago to Cleverly; if you are Arsenal do you prefer him to Wilshire; Chelsea, Oscar/Hazard; PSG, Verratti; Juve?; Bayern, Kroos; maybe Dortmund could use him with Goetze gone. I’m trying to compare age/role equivalents on teams that might have 18 mil.

          • Kxevin says:

            I would give Thiago a serious look if my main man was Cleverley. As for all of the rest, no. Not immediately. I just don’t think that he is going to get anything except the same deal that he is getting with us: first team, and being gradually worked into the lineup.

            He is thinking of a move that will get him quality time, and possibly a World Cup shout. That isn’t going to happen in my opinion.

        • KEVINO17 says:

          Kxevin – I read that if Thiago goes, Barca might use Song more in the central midfield role. That would be a fantastic move because Song has more to offer than Thiago (who can be a bit flakey). Busi in the holding role and Song just ahead of him will give Barca a lot of defensive steel and attacking flair.

          • Roberto Senyera says:

            I’m still trying to come to terms that Song is in the squad. Now some people want to see him become a significant part of the midfield … maybe even a starter?

            I must be living in upside down world.

            If Thiago leaves it means that those minutes will largely be taken up by Cesc playing where he should — the midfield.

            I don’t want us playing a double pivot or Song in a creative MF role. Both are blasphemous. I shudder at the thought.

          • KEVINO17 says:

            Why blasphemous. He’s a wonderful footballer. Energetic. Very strong on the ball. Makes great decisions. passes well. Robust tackler. You think the coaches don’t know what they are doing? I think he’s the worlds best holdin middy, and could be the worlds best CM
            Sounds like you’ve never given him a chance.

  57. BlaugranaFR says:

    Thiago at 18m is a bargain. Despite being asked to fill in frequently for Xavi this season, I still feel that he is Iniesta’s natural heir. He’s had more than a few gaffes as a deep-lying midfielder, but often sparkles when pushed futher upfield. I even remember him playing on the wing a few seasons back and he did quite well.

    If I were Wenger, I’d place him in Santi’s role, above Arteta and Ramsey, and move Santi to the left. If I were Moyes, I’d pair him with Carrick in the engine room with Kagawa in front, or place him in front behind Carrick and whoever else. There are so many options for Thiago given his versatility. I’d hate to see him go for such a small fee. I’d actually just hate to see him go.

  58. CuleToon says:

    .

    Johan and Pep

    http://www.sport.es/es/noticias/barca/cruyff-guardiola-comen-juntos-antes-munich-2417406

    Pep for President! and Johan for Honorary President!

  59. bhed says:

    Just watched the Spain Ireland friendly, anybody else think Busi had an almost perfect game? He was… magisterial!

  60. bhed says:

    Also, speaking of friendlies (this time Brazil France), why is no one mentioning Sakho as a possible CB? He sure ticks off a lot of the boxes – tall, fast, young, and versatile.

  61. Eklavya says:

    I guess JDS will be the next Xavi, with all the patience he has.

  62. Huckleberry says:

    Neymar in a series of the 20 worst misses of the season (The Guardian):
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/video/2012/nov/15/worst-penalty-brazil-neymar-video

    • Kxevin says:

      What is fascinating about that video is how immediate the consoling reactions of his teammates are. That tells you something about how they think of a player. If a player is the selfish jerk that many contend Neymar is, a miss like that and teammates just let him stew in isolation, with a “Serves you right!” look on their faces.

      That miss was almost Ramos quality.

  63. barca96 says:

    @ Kevin017

    First Song is better than Busi and now better Thiago too. Are you sure you’re not related to Song? :)

    • Levon says:

      Although the fact that Song has twenty-eight brothers suggests that what you are saying is not beyond the realm of possibilities, let’s do our best to stay away from personal remarks.

      Please discuss the point, not the man.

      • barca96 says:

        Haha no no. It’s just a joke. Hope you saw the light side of things and didn’t get offended 017. Sorry.

      • Kxevin says:

        Further, fact of the matter is that there ARE teams and tactical situations fornwhich Song will be better suited than Thiago.

        There are many things that we don’t know about how Vilanova plans to approach the season. We should wait to see how those pan out before scoffing at someone’s assessment of a player and how they might work in our system.

        On a broader note I echo Levon. The personal remark was uncalled for. We have many different views in this space. A contrary one should be allowed to exist without inferences that family links are the sole reason for such contrary notions.

        • Roberto Senyera says:

          Well, one tactical situation where Song would be better suited than Thiago is eagerness to hold a trophy aloft. He wins that one hands down.

    • KEVINO17 says:

      Quicker than busquets, stronger than busquets ( both on the ball and in the tackle), greater defensive range than busquets, just as good a passer and a more offensive threat (Im still gobsmacked busquets only had three shots on goal last year). I’d bench Busquets for Song every game he was fit.

      • ooga aga says:

        be willing to bet taht song had only that many shots himself.

      • Roberto Senyera says:

        “Quicker than busquets, stronger than busquets ( both on the ball and in the tackle)”
        Neither necessarily make for a better footballer. Usain Bolt is quicker than Busi and Mike Tyson is stronger than Busi. Those two aren’t better footballers than Busi either.

        “greater defensive range than busquets”
        I’ll give you that one. However, Song’s mindset is less defensive than Busi’s — see below for more detail on this.

        “just as good a passer”
        Can’t agree with you at all on this one. Even Xavi admires and praises Busi’s passing ability. The day that Xavi holds Song’s passing at an equal measure to Busi’s is a thousand light years away. Meaning, we will never live to see the day. For you to make that statement is embarrassing and borders on delusional.

        “and a more offensive threat (Im still gobsmacked busquets only had three shots on goal last year).”
        I’m perfectly fine with that. This is a quality we aren’t looking for in our sole DM in our 4-3-3 system. Song was infamous for his walkabouts and his tactical indiscipline whilst at Arsenal. This brings into question Song’s footballing IQ, something I don’t think he has much of, and which is far less than Busi’s footballing IQ — especially the way we play.

        “I’d bench Busquets for Song every game he was fit.”
        Good thing you’re not making the team selection decisions at Barça then. Song isn’t long for FCB, in my opinion, and certainly not as a first choice starter. Yaya is a much better player than Song and even Yaya saw the writing on the wall, with respect to his playing time for the DM spot he was competing with Busi for, and left for financially greener pastures abroad.

  64. norden says:

    Hi guys. I’ve been leeching here for a year and a half, but never had anything interesting to say :)

    Just wondering if anyone is planing a “tactical review of the season” type of article. I’m already growing tired of the transfer talk, so I would appreciate some change.

    Although I suspect that this season has not been very interesting tactically, it may be worth an article anyway.

  65. nia says:

    Yesterday on press pass, Martin Ainstein said something very interesting regarding Messi’s tax situation. He said that there’s something fishy going on here and the fact that the government didn’t send his lawyers a letter first to rectify or give them opportunity to find out what has gone wrong. Instead, they went going straight to the media. He also said that there plenty of businesses at owe more to the gov than the alleged Messi debt and that they wanted to ‘hit’ someone big.
    If he does owe, he should pay but, I think there’s more to the story.

    • CuleToon says:

      There is much more… Yes, Messi’s case acts as a warning for all taxpayers, and there have been many other spanish «celebrities» used for the same purpose in the last years and decades. The novelty in Messi’s case, though, is the treatment it receives by the anti-Barça media (which means every non-Catalan media in Spain): although the judge still has to consider if the case even merits a trial, many of those media have already judged and sentenced Mesi and just can’t wait to see him, literally, in jail! (which of course, will not happen at all) . You can find a good view on such a biased treatment at:

      http://es.eurosport.yahoo.com/blogs/ruben-uria/llaman-periodismo-180410598.html

      I’m sorry that I don’t have the time to translate it, and I fear that it will be a tad too difficult for Google Translate to handle. But you’ll get the idea. (By the way, Rubén Uría is one of a dozen of almost-independent voices still left in Spanish sports journalism).

      Now, let’s see what Neymar does tonight.

    • fotobirajesh says:

      Going to the media first has made this case look strange. Even if Messi has evaded or not.
      It is also interesting that Laporta has done a better job at supporting Messi, than Rossell, saying clearly Messi and father do not have much idea about such things and never wanted to act against law.
      My wife just showed me this too – http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2013/06/13/did-spanish-taxing-authorities-target-messi-to-send-a-message-to-the-world/

      dont think this will turn like a Maradona situation.

      • CuleToon says:

        More thougts about it by Carles Torras on EMD (another nice journo, but in a not-so-nice paper):

        http://www.mundodeportivo.com/20130615/real-madrid/fariseos_54375990979.html

        • Levon says:

          This whole case is incredible and although the prosecution is acting very unethically, as a culé I hope Messi is innocent.

          My personal opinion is that whether legally within his rights to do so or not, there is something morally wrong about moving millions of euros to accounts in tax-havens like Luxembourg or Switzerland or where-ever. To do so while living in a country that is in a crisis (Spain) while proudly hailing from another country that suffers structural poverty (Argentina) arguably makes it worse.

          • fotobirajesh says:

            I agree with everything you said.

            But at the same time, as regards tax, I think people, especially the ones who find it difficult to understand the complexities of the laws and calculations, can be easily mislead too. I say this from my own experience.

            I earn hardly 750 dollars a month. By Indian standards, that is an ok salary to live by the lower levels of middle class strata, even if I cant even dream of an own house or things like that. But I can live. For the last 15 or so years I am under the tax purview and initially couple of years I tried to submit all papers myselves and ended up making stupid mistakes, and wasted more money in fines. Finally went for a consultant to submit my papers. Here it is quite cheap to pay a guy to just submit your tax papers once in a year, especially when your income is nothing. In India, we can reduce our tax bills by way of insurance bills and few other things. This guy advised me to go for certain private insurance policy – which was actually sold by his own wife – promising me tax savings. Well, only when I got notice from the tax department did I realise that the particular policy didnt cover 100% of the premium for savings, but only a small part. I ended up paying a fine. I had to continue with this stupid policy for another 3 years more to be able to cancell it and get back the money I paid and during all these years had to suffer with extra tax and fine too. Only good thing was I changed to a different consultant, a retired govt. officer, who take care of things honestly. In spite of that, I get notices every second/third year saying I paid Rs.119 less, or rs.255 less etc. But its ok. Now one could always say I was foolish and all, but there are lots of people who have this.

            I am just saying, its very easy to be mislead by tax consultants, if one completely trust these guys. The more you are rich, either you are more shrewd or more foolish.
            A pity Messi have such a black episode.

          • Eklavya says:

            Switzerland is à tax-haven? 8O

  66. Jim says:

    Just been listening to Thiago on Sky. Very impressed. Speaks fluent English, picks his words carefully, understands that at Barca it’s not all about him. Interesting hearing him comparing Brazilian and Spanish football – no doubt he’d rather be playing the Brazilian kind but its that imaginative mentality that causes him at times to play difficult passes !

    He certainly didnt take the chance to put himself in the window though. Hope he stays.

  67. ciaran says:

    If there are any teams interested in buying Dani Alves i hope that they are not watching the Brazil v Japan match because he looks like the worst player in the world. He has not crossed once on target and his only successful passes are 5 yards.
    all this while Montoya has been tearing it up for the under 21s by all accounts

    • nia says:

      To be fair, all of Dani’s final crosses are poor for both club and country. He only seems to find Messi in the box. That said, he’s had a decent match. His crosses are the norm, I’m sure he’ll find a good one before the match is up.

    • Jim says:

      Managed to wach the Brazil highlights this morning. They are darting to look a bit better although the midfield isn’t right yet imo. You have to be excited by the Neymar goal. Stunning technique and a willingness to shoot on sight.

  68. barca96 says:

    Isco is an elite player in the making. Not a fan of stats such as this but he has a 98% pass completion rate and his passes are not the Xavi or Busi type of passes.

  69. CuleToon says:

    Almost out of the blue, another obnoxius and disgraceful article against Laporta, Cruyff and Guardiola (and pro-Rosell, of course) on Godó Group’s «El Mundo Deportivo», this time by assistant editor Francesc Perearnau:

    http://www.mundodeportivo.com/20130616/fc-barcelona/la-foto-equivocada_54375689258.html

  70. Levon says:

    I have little sympathy for the anti-Laporta campaign, but all the espionage he performed on his employees (which he denies) do leave me a bit uneasy…

    Also, what is the beef between Pep and Tito?

  71. BlaugranaFR says:

    Latest on the rumour mill is that Arsenal’s Koscielny is in our crosshairs. I know it’s silly season but this pretty much scraping the bottom of the barrel. And even if his form has been in the toilet all season long, I’d rather have Vermaelen riding the pine behind Pique and Masch next season.

    Kxevin, still looking forward to that Inigo Martinez piece you’re cooking up for us.

  72. barca96 says:

    lol @ the bottom of the barrel.

    But I thought he was pretty good whenever we played Arsenal.

    • BlaugranaFR says:

      He does have some qualities — good pace and sense of positioning — and had a pretty good year for Arsenal. But I feel that the dearth of options is brought about by a complicated CB market this year. The best ones are either too expensive or their mother clubs make negotiations too unwieldy for interested teams to manage. And this is why we’re looking at players such as Mathieu to reinforce the backline until we can land a big name next year.

  73. Jim says:

    Spain a delight to watch for me last night. Also, pressing like demons in the first half. Did I hear right after about 15 minutes Spain had had 92% possession???

    Interesting that the midfield wobbled a little when Xavi went off. Wasn’t impressed by either Martinez or Mata.

    • stefan2k says:

      In fact one can observe the same at Barca… Xavi offers an invaluable amount of midfield stability which neither Cesc nor Thiago can provide at the moment

  74. Judas Pissed says:

    The headline in today’s ‘Sport’ is ‘Thiago wants to leave’. It says that he wants to play more to force himself into Spain’s World Cup squad, and Tito can’t promise that at Barca next year.

    • lea_terzi says:

      That’s faulty thinking, if true. Apart from Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets (and to a lesser extent, Xabi Alonso), who are not going anywhere before the World Cup, there are Cesc, David Silva, Santi Cazorla, Juan Mata, Javi Martinez, Isco etc. who can be deployed in various midfield roles and are all, at the moment, more reliable than Thiago against the highest level of competition. Besides, Spanish NT as currently constituted relies heavily on La Liga for personnel and style. So the surest way into Spain squad for Thiago is to prove he’s a legit piece of Barca midfield. Of course, the coaching staff has to cooperate by managing Xavi’s minutes and rethinking division of labour in midfield with Cesc and/or Thiago in mind.

      • Calvin says:

        “Cesc, David Silva, Santi Cazorla, Juan Mata, Javi Martinez, Isco”

        Only Martinez, and MAYBE Cazorla play in the position Thiago does. Everyone else on the list (and I would include Cazorla) plays more advanced than Thiago

        • G6O says:

          Still, what makes him think that if he goes to another club, he will get in the squad for the WC? You see the squad for the Confederations Cup.

          • Calvin says:

            Take out Cazorla and Silva, put in Isco and Thiago. Both upgrades in my opinion.

            The other thing is that Spain really only has Xavi as a midfield orchestrator, and could use a backup for him instead of having 6 center attacking mids.

            Euler has been making great points about this in his timeline: @euleri

          • lea_terzi says:

            There was some debate on what is Thiago’s natural position, and whether he’s closer in style and mindset to Xavi or Iniesta. If he can play in Xavi’s position consistently (not replace or imitate him, but be a force in central midfield in his own right), then he has real chances to break into Spain squad, which is thin at that particular spot. If he’s deployed in CM, but plays as an attacking mid (losing balls in dangerous situations, trying for the adventurous pass every time instead of recirculating possession, being nonchalant on the ball), then he is basically competing with all those other attacking mids on the list. Of course, there are many factors. Does Del Bosque play the double pivot or Barca-like midfield trio? Where does Thiago end up playing at his (possible) new club? Which sides of his game evolve in the coming year? Calvin, you’re right, it’s not that simple, but I still think if he can’t succeed with Barca, making the national side will be a challenge.

          • lea_terzi says:

            Of course, if ManU or Bayern go far in the Champions League with him as the primary midfield orchestrator, all bets are off. But I don’t thin he’s quite there yet.

  75. psalmuel says:

    That Tahiti vs Nigeria match should have ended 1-12, nigeria so wasteful and Tahiti,how did they make it to this tornee?

    • G6O says:

      New Zealand lost to New Caledonia in the SF of the Oceania cup. Then Tahiti won the final.

      Outside of NZ, everyone else in Oceania is expected to record double-digit losses in a Confederations Cup or a World Cup.

      It’s not going to happen in the WC because to get there, there is a more extended qualification tournament plus a play-off against a team from another confederation, but in knock out games, it can happen that one of the stronger teams in Oceania beats NZ and plays in the Confederations Cup. Like Tahiti.

      And then the comedy begins. No disrespect to Tahiti, it’s just the reality of the situation. Let’s see whether they can hold it to single-digits against Spain…

  76. barca96 says:

    Hoping for some Isco magic tonight. Please don’t go to Madrid. Go to England for a few years and then come to us once Xavi retires and Iniesta moves into Xavi’s slot.

    It’s about time Tello put in a consistent performance for Spain. He keeps on drifting in and out.

    It has been smooth sailing so far for Spain u21. However the favorites don’t always win, especially not against a tactically sound team like Italy.

    Likewise for the senior team. It’s nice against open teams but they will be in trouble once they come up against Italy (this time for sure it won’t be another walk over) or basically any teams with double deckers.

  77. Judas Pissed says:

    Thiago 1st half hat trick. Barca must be stark raving mad to even consider letting this lad go!

  78. barca96 says:

    Thiago with a first half hattrick!

  79. barca96 says:

    Hopefully Tito is watching the match and understands that Thiago deserves more playing time. And we could do with an Isco :)

  80. Ultraculé says:

    Oh Thiago!
    If only you had chosen Brazil instead.

  81. BA says:

    we’d have to be nuts to let Thiago go. manage his minutes better and give him a raise if that’s what he wants; the kid is brilliant, and he’s only 21. neither Xavi nor Iniesta were this good this young. Isco has been outstanding as well, and if we can pry him from Malaga for a reasonable fee that would be amazing, but Thiago is the one controlling games at a level consistent for his age group.

    is there anyone here who wouldn’t trade Fabregas to keep Thiago and acquire Isco? anyone?

  82. Messiah10 says:

    I just watched the U21 WC Final. What a sublime game Thiago had. Montoya played great as well. Tello was a bit off. Lost his footing on more than one occasion and just a bit off w/his touch and moves. Isco was wonderful and Morrata had some wonderful 1st half moves to break away from his defenders.

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