The Year in Review, as the Force may be with you



“It’s not impossible. I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home, they’re not much bigger than two meters.”

To Leo Messi, who not only improved his penalty taking (not one miss during the whole season) but added free kicks to his arsenal. He can now be considered one of the world’s prime specialists and it is a fine weapon to have in our team.

“Hmmm. Adventure. Hmmpf! Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things.”

To Thiago de Alcantara. Right now, I would not be surprised if he chooses to hone his craft elsewhere. He might get more playing time on somebody else’s grass, but is it really greener?

“I’ve just made a deal that will keep the empire out of here forever.”

To Florentino Perez, who said he will not make a bid for Thiago so as not make any hostile moves against Barça. Hmmm…

“…It’s not fair! They promised me they fixed it! It’s not my fault!”

To our capita Carles Puyol, who has spent more time on linen hospital bed sheets than on lush football pitches this year and is probably on first name basis with every doctor and nurse in Catalonia by now. His twenty-four career injuries outnumber his seasons of professional football played and at age 35, we can only wonder how long his body will hold up.

“Travelling through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops, boy!”

To our Champion’s League campaign. The likes of Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Celtic have proven to be significantly stiffer competition than pretty much all of our weekend adverseries except one – the Evil Empire who we were lucky enough to avoid in Europe. We conquered the league this year by beating the hell out of its minnows. Playing against the big boys is not the same thing.

“But how could they be jamming us if they don’t know… that we’re… coming?

To those opponents mentioned here above who sure organized their defenses in a way to make us look toothless.

“Now, witness the power of this fully operational battle station.”

To our 4-0 dismantling of AC Milan at the Camp Nou. Obliterate rossoneri we had to, and obliterate rossoneri we did. After having lost 2-0 in the first leg at the San Siro, it was the only option available to us. Although we missed intensity throughout most of the season, I don’t know if I have ever seen us press like that. Lionel Messi, Andrés Iniesta and Dani Alves stood out, and our Brazilian fullback in particular was all over opponents in a manner that was close to sexual. One of the best games I have seen Barça play.

“Would somebody get this big walking carpet out of my way?!”

Oh, what’s that? Dmytro Chygrynskiy was sold in 2010? Oh, ok… sorry, uhmmm, count this one as done, then.

“I never doubted you. Wonderful!”

To Alexis Sanchez, who I never doubted to eventually escape my scorn and ridicule for all the easy chances he wasted during the first half of the season. Thank you for proving me right during the final stretch.

“Stay on target!”

Again to Alexis Sanchez, hoping that he will continue next season the way he ended this last one. We do not want to see him repeat the three month stinkfest that almost had him shipped back to Italy. And yes, I know he made really nice runs and tracked back a lot during those months. Still, I want to see the Lexus we saw at the end of the season, not the Volkswagen Beetle we saw at the beginning.

“No reward is worth this.”

During the season I said that the biggest prizes we could win this year were Abidal’s and Vilanova’s health and that any “football” prize would be insignificant in comparison. So both survived cancer and we won the league. But did Eric Abidal holding up the Liga trophy looking all awkward and unhappy make you feel all awkward and unhappy, too?

“Laugh it up, fuzzball!”

LOL at Alex Song. Our squad might be famous for making new players feel right at home, but did you really thing our captain called on you to be the first to lift the league trophy in the air? Unintentional comedy is often the best comedy!

“I have a bad feeling about this.”

About Thiago’s pending departure and Zubizaretta resigning out of solidarity with the dismissals of Technical Secretary Narcís Julià and Scouting Coordinator Albert Valentina. About the apparent lack of communication between the board and its staff members and players regarding contract extensions and what not. About the Abidal affair and about how the entorno is split between Laportistas, Cruijfistas, Guardiolistas and Rosellistas. About the lack of criticism from the media and about how Rosell has changed the statutes regarding how many votes it would take to have him removed from office. That’s a lot of bad feelings about a lot of thiseses, a lot of which have to with the board. However I reserve an even worst feeling about another this, namely Leo’s tax problems…

“I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

To our dear readers whose comments I, by way of exception, plowed through before writing my last Champion’s League review of the season. I usually write first and read later – so as not to get influenced by other people’s opinions – but I found that particular comment thread… instructive. Sentiments ranged from “Sell Messi” to “Burn Tito”. Ok, I lied about one of those. Can you tell which one?

“Aren’t you a little short for a storm trooper?”

We conceded goals from six set pieces in the quarter final and semi final rounds of the CL and in the clasicos. Yes, I know, teams with tall players also concede from corners (cough, M*drid, cough), but having Alvin and the Chipmunks guard the likes of Thiago Silva, Mario Gomez and Sergio Ramos does not help.

“You are unwise to lower your defenses.”

So our technical staff laughed in the face of established wisdom for two straight summers by failing to reinforce our back line. Making the same mistake thrice would be akin to sitting on a lightsaber with a faulty safety switch.

“He certainly has courage… -Yeah, but what good is that if he gets himself killed?”

Although I applaud Jonathan Dos Santos’ decision to stay and fight for his place, wouldn’t it have been better for his career if he had taken his coach’s advice and continued his career at another team? Young players are supposed to want to play, not sit in the stands for a living.

“You do have your moments. Not many, but you have them.”

Even though his exclamation point has faded as of late (eeeerrr, meaning the last two seasons or so), he did blast us into the CL semis with a wonderfully taken strike against PSG. I would not mind Pedrito having more of these “moments”.

“Ben, I can be a Jedi! Ben, tell him I’m ready!” (Thumps head on ceiling) “Ow!”

To Gerard Deulofeu. In the limited minutes that you get, please stop trying to dribble past three defenders every time you get the ball, and even less so if you can’t get by the first one. Make the simple pass sometimes. Hopefully your moment will come.

“Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.”

Definitely Dani Alves’s crosses. They either reach their target or fly beyond the corner flag, with very little in between.

 “What have you done? I’m backwards!”

Do you realize that after three seasons Javier Mascherano is probably the first Barcelona defender to have scored two goals… both in the wrong net? And in this season Gerard Piqué, Dani Alves and Jordi Alba all joined in on the fun. I don’t remember so many own goals.

“It’s against my programming to impersonate a deity.”

I was very impressed by Neymar for declaring that he has come to Barcelona to help Lionel Messi remain the best player in the world. Whether naturally humble or extremely well drilled, this was exactly what we wanted to hear. The signs are looking good. Let’s hope the Force is strong with this one!

“Bounty hunters! We don’t need this scum.”

To Tito, vowing to make very little changes to our squad after our Champion’s League fiasco.

“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”

To SPORT and El Mundo Deportivo. Just cause you say we are this close to buying Silva, Hummels, Reina, Rooney, Gündogan, Matthieu, Ter Stegen, Torres, Mata, or whatever name you come up with, does not make it true.

“Mind tricks won’t work on me, only money.”

Speaking of Thiago Silva, reportedly he won’t come for the salary which we would or could offer him, despite being on record as saying that Barcelona was his favorite team as a boy because of all the Brazilians strutting their footballs in the Camp Nou. Do we still want him to come at all cost, or should we go for a cheaper (and younger) option?

“There was nothing you could have done, Luke, had you been there. You’d have been killed too, and the droids would now be in the hands of the Empire.”

In the end, such was the difference between Bayern and Barça that not even the best football player on the planet would have made much of a difference. Will we do better next season…?

“Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.”

Really, I am just happy to be a culé. We have had an incredible season and I can’t wait for the next one to begin. Let’s enjoy supporting the most beautiful club in the world!










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Written by:

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


  1. Messiah10
    June 18, 2013

    Fantastic Jedi mind tricks you’ve played with us. As for Thiago, “The boy you trained, gone he is, consumed by Darth Vader.” – Master Yoda speaks and we listen!

    • Messiah10
      June 18, 2013

      Oh, there’s more: “Twisted by the Dark Side young Skywalker has become.” – Gerard Deulofeu

      “The fear of loss is a path to the Dark Side”

      “No! No different. Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned.” – Plan A needs restructuring

      “When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good you will not ehh.” – Puyol

      “Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachement leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed that is. Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” – Our dominance over the previous 4 years before last season. We will be back next season and with the hunger & thrist for more. Hopefuly, hopefully, with defensive reinforcements.

      • June 18, 2013

        “No! No different. Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned.”

        haha, I actually thought about using that one as a metaphor for all big money transfers that have to adapt to our tiki-taka

  2. DumbOx
    June 18, 2013

    Emotion, yet peace.
    Ignorance, yet knowledge.
    Passion, yet serenity.
    (Chaos, yet harmony.)

    Death, yet the Force. Visca Barca!

  3. ooga aga
    June 19, 2013

    great stuff, Lev.

    looks like Puyol is gonna have another surgery on his right knee. wednesday.

    ay chihuahua

  4. Judas Pissed
    June 19, 2013

    Abidal must be looking at Puyi and thinking ‘and they let me go because I’M not fit..!?’

  5. lea_terzi
    June 19, 2013

    Thanks, Lev, this is top notch! Bookmarked 🙂

    Is anyone interested in continuing the discussion from previous thread about Thiago (who’s about to go all Anakin Skywalker on us) and his chances of being in the Spain squad for the World Cup if he stays or leaves (in light of his Finals performance)?
    Who is his main competition for the spot as Xavi backup in the national side, what is his best position, what are his chances of pulling the strings for one of the top European midfields next year?

    Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future. What’s a young padawan to do?

  6. June 19, 2013

    What’s this about Zubi resigning? What did I miss??? (I’m back now)


    “Would somebody get this big walking carpet out of my way?!”

    Princess Leia is kind of racist…

  7. June 19, 2013

    In my mind, letting Thiago Alcantara leave for 20M or so would be the shittiest deal Barca have made. Equal to or more than the magnitude of shittyness that was the 50M + Eto’o deal for one Ibra season.
    Because with TA there’s no gamble. His value and potential has been well demonstrated. And he is better than Xavi & Iniesta at his age. Well, perhaps equal to Iniesta.
    I don’t understand why he wants to leave. He has only Xavi ahead of him and his end is sooner than later. Even if Iniesta were to fill the Xavi void, the only player we have closest to Iniesta’s qualities is Thiago after probably only Messi.
    We should be nuts to lose a player who could be a potential Ballon d’Or winner, players like Alexis and Thiago may give much cause for frustration, but it doesn’t take a genius to see that with a little polish, they can become a diamond.
    But if TA wants to be the star, the Puto Amo of the team, there’s nothing much we can do about it. H’es not going to be that in this team very soon. And although there is a big part of me that takes no nonsense from players (give the boot if they’re not happy to play their role) Thiago is someone I would put in a bit more effort to talk sense into. If he does go, I’d accept nothing short of an Isco from my club in order to see some silver lining in a bad move.

    • flyzowee
      June 19, 2013

      You guys seem to be forgetting Fabregas. Thiago still has Cesc ahead of him in the pecking order. If he is truelly SERIOUS about making it into VDB squad for the world cup then the only team I would personally advise him to go to would be Man Utd.

      As a barca fan, this of course would be a loss for us but if i was Thiago, id be looking at that Man Utd midfield and be thinking to myself – ‘Wow I could seriously become the main midfield orchestrator of the biggest and most supported football club in England’

      So you can understand why thiago is taking his time on this decision. I hope he stays but whatever happens Ill still support him.

    • CuleToon
      June 19, 2013

      Want to «understand» why he wants to leave? According to what I’ve heard right now on RAC-1, he’s said that yes, he’s a patient guy —BUT— he needs to get playing time if he is to go to next years’ World Championship… Really? I mean, the guy thinks that if he gets playing time in, say, ManU, he will displace Xavi, or Cesc, or Iniesta, or Mata, or Silva or…

      Frankly, not only do I think that he’s looking more and more like a new Iván de la Peña: I’m beginning to wish him out of Barça —together with daddy— and make way to Sergi Roberto or, better still, to Sergi Samper in a couple of years.

      • June 19, 2013

        Exactly. Which is why he would have been wiser to choose Brazil. Spain’s midfield is so loaded. Even minutes in United is not going to get him a slot miraculously. If he’s smart he should know this already. That’s why I was wondering along the ‘puto amo’ lines..

    • alpinegroove
      June 19, 2013

      He got very little playing time last season, even when Xavi was injured. The club went somewhat crazy to bring Cesc back, give him the 4, which had been Thiago’s, and the latter’s minutes diminished. Last season was supposed to be his breakout season. He was looking great over the summer. Then Cesc came.

      The U21 competition proved not only that he is an incredible player, but that he is also a thinking player.

      He could have taken the second penalty shot in the final, and not only score four goals in one match, but also share the Golden Boot with Morata.

      He gave the penalty to Isco instead. Assuming that this was his decision, it does not portray the image of a selfish player who only thinks about his own advancement…He decided to share the spotlight with Isco and Morata!

      • BA
        June 19, 2013

        yet another reason why spending 35m on Fabregas was a mistake when we desperately needed a quality center-back instead.

        • CuleToon
          June 19, 2013

          But BA, IIRC, the plan, when Cesc came two years ago, was to fill the void between Xavi and Thiago: Xavi was 31, Cesc was 24 and Thiago was 20. And it looked like a sensible idea.

          Another thing is that there’s a lot of people that like Cesc and a lot of people that don’t. But remember that at 24 he was The Man at Arsenal, and that he also was a Masia guy who had played with Messi and Piqué until they where 16 (and with Tito as manager, by the way).

          One of the things that annoys me the most about all this Thiago case is that, because of his lack of patience or whatever, he’s sparked off that unnecessary «Cesc or Thiago» debate. I’m beginning to bear ill will against him…

          • June 19, 2013

            Thiago played 36 matches last season. This is significantly more than “very little playing time,” particularly given that he spent the first 15 matches of the season injured.

            I think that people should calm down a bit with this situation. As it is, it is all based on conjecture and rumor. Does the club have offers for him? Media says yes, club says nothing. So who knows? The player has said he will resolve this all after the U21s. My guess is that we will be hearing more as the window opens on 1 July.

            To my view if Thiago wants to go, let him go. That is on him. I know that the environment is such that for many, anything the club does these days is wrong. But if the player wants to stay, he should. If he wants to leave, he should. He and Vilanova have had talks. He understands his value to the club. I am sure that many private conversations have also been had.

            The player understands his value to the club. He should also understand that no coach should EVER be in the business of guaranteeing playing time. Toure Yaya wanted guarantees, and got the door. For good reason. The instant a coach does that, madness ensues.

            Further, incentive contracts that base buyout clauses on a percentage of matches played, puts additional pressure on a coach. Yes, the team decided to allow the clause. But the player asked for it. My speculation is that the club wanted a high buyout to prevent this precise thing from happening. The player wanted a low buyout to preserve mobility.

            Thiago is ambitious. He should be. His talent is immense. But a lot of things would have to happen for him to make the World Cup squad, irrespective of where he decided to play football next season.

            Del Bosque is a very conservative coach. The players in front of him, if we are considering ALL mids, are Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Mata, Silva, Cazorla. Obviously they all play different roles.

            At Barça, Thiago has a different set of things to consider, including whether Iniesta being added to the full-time midfield pot because of the arrival of a real left winger in Neymar, means his potential time will be curtailed next season. Good question.

            Patience, I think, is warranted here. Xavi had to deal with Guardiola, Cocu, Petit, Figo and Luis Enrique. Iniesta had to deal with a pot that contained Xavi, Deco, Davids, Quaresma, Motta and Albertini. Both had patience, both are now The Man. (Men?)

            Patience varies by player, though. Fabregas didn’t have it, and left. It seems that young players have less of it. At 18m, Thiago is a steal. And United’s midfield is a mess. But is Moyes going to hand the reins to a talented young player? Another good question.

            What I know is that there isn’t a club in the world that reveres midfield play and midfielders as much as Barça. Xavi has one season left in his current No. 1 role, unless he finds a fountain of youth somewhere. At that point, Thiago is in for playing time, responsibility and the chance to run the best club in the world.

            If, in the case of all that (assuming again, that where there’s smoke there’s fire) he wants to leave, farewell and good luck.

  8. Dani_el
    June 19, 2013

    Beautiful goal of Neymar on the first half, kid got some skills. Though he spends as much time falling down as he does dribbling. He has to stop doing that when he comes to Barça. If you think Sanchez did that a lot, wait until you see Ney. He has to hit the gym too.

    About Thiago I agree with Kxevin, if he wants to leave let him. He’s talented, and I believe he has a place in Barça and could be our starter midfielder for the future but I don’t think that he’ll play much more in ManU or Bayern that in Barça considering his injury off time last season. And I know for sure that he won’t be considered a started for Spain NT for a couple of years yet. No matter where he plays. I think Cesc has done better than most people say. He’s our midfielder with most goals. Didn’t we ask that of Iniesta? He seems to be a good leader, he proved that on Arsenal. Hopefully he will have a few more years to prove himself to all.

    • Jim
      June 19, 2013

      I’m just as excited by the assist. Exactly what we’re looking for. Two defenders and they didnt see him.

      • alpinegroove
        June 19, 2013

        They saw him all right, but he just tricked them…

      • Messiah10
        June 20, 2013

        Exactly Jim! I stood up on that one. He had the patience and confidence to know he could get between them. It was a gorgeous move and I can’t wait for him to tee up Messi that way, all day!

  9. nia
    June 19, 2013

    Italy v Japan, what a game. Japan didn’t deserve to lose that game at all.

    What an assist by Neymar as well. I always thought he was the Brazilian version of Tello but, I have to admit, he is a little more skilled/experience that Tello. Neymar, Messi, Alexis, Tello, Pedro, what a front line.

    As for Thiago, kids got skill and ambition but, he needs to be patient I think. He is closer to becoming a full time first teamer than he thinks. With a little more clever rotation by Tito, he should be able to get more playing time. I think the fact that Neymar is his age and was hot on the market has made Thiago want to go for the same thing too, which I admire. Although I don’t think he’ll make the 2014 squad, even if he does, he has like 20 people ahead of him. If he want to go, let him. It could be a good/bad move 50/50. I think this is the one time I would encourage a player to do a JDS and stay to fight his spot.

  10. Alexinho
    June 19, 2013

    Holy crap, Neymar. Please don’t shoot me, and this may be speaking too soon, but he could turn out to be the closest thing to Messi’s competition we could have possibly signed. The technique.

    Somebody mentioned earlier that Neymar’s arrival could make Iniesta a full-time midfielder. That’s worst-case scenario for me (God willing that happens at least). Best-case is this time next year, papers are speculating that Messi may be on the move because he “suffers from a lack of time on the field,” because he only participates in 90% of the games.

  11. Dani_el
    June 20, 2013

    Cesc Assists and Goals for Club and Country:

    Cesc for Barcelona:
    2012/2013 14 goals (3rd goal scorer after Messi and Villa) 11 assists (4th behind Iniesta, Messi and Alexis Sanchez)
    2011/2012 15 goals (second goal scorer with Alexis after Messi) 20 assists

    I know I know, damn statistics. But if he were Thiago we would be very excited for having him. I think most people didn’t like to spend 30M+ for him, and the fact that he left the academy to go to Arsenal. I think he’s our present and future in the creative midfield short term and mid term. With Xavi (for a couple of years), Iniesta (for at least 5-6 years), Thiago (if he stays) and Sergi Roberto and Samper if they live their potential. Xavi too had to withstand a lot of criticism before stepping up. Lot of expectations for a creative midfielder on Barça. I don’t forget that Messi and Busquets might get into that position some day too.
    I hope Cesc succeeds on Barça.

    • barca96
      June 20, 2013

      Haha you and your stats and costs. I like it though.

    • Messiah10
      June 20, 2013

      I know the stats speak for themselves, but what I see that seperates the 2 of them in Thiago’s favor is that Thiago has that “Special Something”. He has 1,000 moves, similar to Xavi. He is faster/quicker and he’ll only get better. Cesc is a very very good player. He just isn’t quick enough for me or good enough on the ball to orchestrate our offense. Thiago is.

  12. barca96
    June 20, 2013

    Not to nitpick but Xavi didn’t have much trouble getting a starting spot as he didn’t have much competition. Cocu was always a DM or a LB. Pep left. Lucho was on a decline. Figo left but he was always a RW and Petit was a non factor 🙂

    Iniesta on the other had only had to deal with Deco but didn’t have a clear path like Xavi did. Iniesta frequently came in and played on the left just like Isco does now which is why I love Isco. Davids was a DM or LM, Motta & Albertini were DM’s too and Quaresma is a winger. So basically he only had to contend with Deco which took some time.

    Thiago on the other hand has a much tougher road. I would understand if he wants to live. I to be honest would consider leaving if I take into account how the last quarter of the season went with Tito over playing a fatigued Xavi while I (Thiago) am fit and rearing to go.

    I wouldn’t complain about lack of playing time against big teams, yet as I understand that I need to get regular starts against La Liga teams.

    Cesc on the other hand should be disappointed not to play much against bigger teams, not about lack of playing time.

  13. barca96
    June 20, 2013

    Neymar is to me easily better than Ronaldo. Oh well, I guess Ronaldo can forget the #2 spot forever now 🙂

    But of course Iniesta is and will be the #2 for Ballon d’Or for years to come and Neymar 3rd.

    • tough going for Ronaldo, it seems.

      and if this is true, its getting very interesting – barcastuff –
      Messi has been called up to testify in his tax case on 17 September, which is the day the CL group stages start. #fcblive #ucl [elperiodico]

      • Messiah10
        June 20, 2013

        This whole tax case is getting way over blown. Messi will simply settle a fee and pay it. If his tax attorneys advised him to do it I’m sure he thought there was nothing wrong with it. Just a case of a public tax prosecutor trying to make a name for himself and the Spanish Gov’t targeting athletes to make themselves look better. No Big Deal. People have tax problems all the time!

  14. lea_terzi
    June 20, 2013

    Thiago to United rumor is starting to gain a sort of inevitability to it. I guess Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc and Thiago on one team was too good to be true 🙁 Just hope we won’t be splashing 50 million to get him back in a few years.

  15. barca96
    June 20, 2013

    Why was Thiago wearing Canales’ jersey during the trophy presentation? Even if they’re BFF’s it looks weird. Or is Thiago trying to send a message ala Ramos Ozil?

    In any case, I personally prefer players to wear their own jerseys during trophy presentations as everyone will look like they’re wearing a uniform, it just looks better and of course, their own jersey and properly, not Kriss Kross style.

    • June 20, 2013

      He was wearing Canales’ jersey because he is injured (again) and had to miss the tournament. As the captain, Thiago wanted to send the message that the team was thinking of him and that he deserved the trophy too for all his work over the last couple of years. Our captain, Puyol, did the same thing for Fontas, wearing his shirt at a trophy celebration…but I can’t remember which one. Last year’s CDR, maybe?

  16. barca96
    June 20, 2013

    Based from the predicted line ups, it looks like the key players such as Xavi, Iniesta and Busi will not start. Doesn’t sound worthwhile to wake up at 3am. Was hoping for a near double digit score line.

  17. barca96
    June 20, 2013

    For the U21 tournament, we only have Deulofeu as our representative. Don’t we have anymore highly talented u 20’s?

    The only ones that I know that are highly rated are Samper and the LB, can’t remember his name but I guess they’re too young to compete in a u20 team.

    • CuleToon
      June 20, 2013

      The LB is Àlex Grimaldo (17 y/o), but he was severely injured last february (cruciate ligaments), precisely the same day —and match— that Marc Muniesa came back to play after another cruciate ligaments rupture (7 months out)…

      The other talented Barça B players are Rafinha (Thiago’s brother, but he wants to play with Brasil) and Javier Espinosa. Sergi Samper, still a junior (18 y/o) will be promoted to Barça B next season.

      Speaking of injuries, I think that, yesterday, Davis Luiz made some extra points to become Puyol’s replacement…

      • barca96
        June 21, 2013

        Ah Grimaldo. Thanks. Oh what a coincidence of Muniesa to come back on the same day.

        What is the situation like on the ground in regards to Thiago? How do the local folks feel about it?

  18. June 20, 2013

    So, here’s the thing about that Neymar move/assist: We don’t have anyone who can do that. Not at that pace. Iniesta is a magician with the ball, but he relies on guile and absurd levels of close control. Messi is quick, almost inhumanly so. But there is a difference between quick and fast. Sanchez would try the move, then trip over the second defender. Tello has the pace, but not the touch.

    The other cool thing about that play was that it was an assist rather than a shot that resulted in nothing. Presence of mind and balance.

    I’m still in wait and see mode. Mexico and Japan aren’t exactly international colossi. The Spain match, when it happens, will be a very real, and stern, test.

    • barca96
      June 21, 2013

      Sanchez trip? 😆

      Tello would’ve tripped too but before that he has to try to control the pass. Iniesta could’ve easily done that but he doesn’t have the pace to get away. Ditto Thiago. Messi is the only one who could’ve pulled something off like that so now we have 2 complete dribblers.

      It could be 3 if we have Isco 🙂

  19. ciaran
    June 20, 2013

    Goodbye (permanently) to Andreu Fontas. He left on loan before but has officially joined Celta Vigo and Luis Enrique on a three year deal.
    I’m guessing that a few more will join him on the way out and potentially in Celta too.
    My only hope is that the best talents like Deulofeu, Rafinha and Thiago stay

    • barca96
      June 21, 2013

      Deulofeu and Rafinha should go on loan to gain La Liga experience.

  20. nia
    June 20, 2013

    Graham Hunter: #Thiago and #United close enough for wages to be agreed. Looks like this is picking up speed, too bad.

    • June 20, 2013

      Isn’t the first time a club loses a talented, impatient player and it won’t be the last. It happens. I just want the announcement so that the hand-wringing can stop and we can move on.

      • 86ed
        June 20, 2013

        I’m curious, Kevin. What would you do were you in Thiago’s place?
        For my part, I too would want to leave, if better opportunities should present themselves.

        • Jim
          June 20, 2013

          Don’t know about Kxevin but I’d be tempted to stay put.

          I don’t think the Man U team is going to do anything major anytime soon. They have an ageing CB partnership, nothing in midfield and Rooney unsettled. Thiago isn’t going to make that much of a difference imo and his lack of pace, height and strength might well be more exposed in England. You have Man City, Chelsea and maybe Arsenal all looking better than last season and he’ll be playing with players who are much less likely to control some of the too heavy passes he makes.
          This is a desperate quick attempt to make the squad for the WC in Brazil which given his provenance is understandable. He is extremely talented but it strikes me his natural team has to be one which values possession a bit more than English teams do. That said he will be a loss and will cost serious money to replace.

          • Jim
            June 20, 2013

            Besides, does he know how much the weather sucks over here ?

          • 86ed
            June 20, 2013

            I think we’re misunderstanding why Thiago wants to move. I don’t think he wants to move to Man U because of the WC. I think he wants to move because, in the dead rubber matches this past season, Villanova still started Xavi over him, even though the league was long won, and Xavi only has a a couple of more playing years ahead of him.

        • June 20, 2013

          I would talk to someone outside of my entourage, and stay put, assuming that the reasons are what we are being told.

          Thiago is not going to play in WC14 for Spain, barring injuries or Del Bosque having a lobotomy that suddenly makes him adventurous.

          The same problems that exist for him at Barça exist for him at Spain: Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas. If I was Thiago, I would understand that, and stay at FC Midfield.

          P.S. Rafinha was smart in declaring for Brazil. He might be playing at WC before Thiago.

          • 86ed
            June 20, 2013

            Maybe he wants to do at Manchester Utd. what Martinez did at Bayern. Martinez too cannot get a place in that Spain XI, yet he started the CL final and was, in my opinion anyway, one of the best in the pitch. Maybe it isn’t wise, this move North of his, but Bojan he isn’t.

          • June 20, 2013

            Exactly, 86ed. It’s important to note that Thiago is a for-real talent whose sole problem is that for club and country, he is playing behind two of the best midfielders in history. I can see giving him a real look for that third slot, but you can watch him play and watch Fabregas play, and see why Del Bosque wouldn’t make that same call.

            For me, the most important thing is that people understand that this is an employee seeking a better gig. And that is his right. The club isn’t putting him out there, saying “Hey, want a killer talent for a bargain price?” He is choosing to leave.

            He missed the 60% mark by one match, after having missed 15 matches due to injury. He certainly would have played more, and would have played more had he stayed, assuming rumors are true.

            I don’t think anyone is the bad guy here, club, coach or player. It’s just a simple question of a very talented player wanting to get more time.

    • Jafri
      June 20, 2013

      How about a loan/ first option on buy back? Wouldn’t that suit everyone? Let him have his fun for a year or two and come back when Xavi retires.

      Not my first choice, but maybe an acceptable compromise?

    • G6O
      June 20, 2013

      Well, if it happens, then we should buy Isco.

      This will open a real whole in the midfield there will be at least 3-4 years before anyone from the youth teams can fill that position.

      • BlaugranaFR
        June 20, 2013

        We have a couple of guys in the pipeline that are ready to fill the void in Roberto and Espinosa. Not in the same level as Thiago though.

        • G6O
          June 20, 2013

          I’ve watched both, I don’t think they have what it takes to run our midfield. There is a big question mark over Thiago himself with respect to whether he has that.

          The next one who might be able to do that is Samper, but he is only 18. This means another 4 years of development (if he has the patience many others have not had), and 4 years is a long time.

  21. Judas Pissed
    June 20, 2013

    Sell Thiago sign Juan Mata. Easy come easy go…

  22. Messiah10
    June 20, 2013

    Isco has grown up a life long Barca supporter. His favorite player and idol is Ghostface. Why are we not in on the bidding for him. Surely, he’d turn down EE or Citeh to join Barca and we could prob get him for $30 instead of $35-40. He’s worth the talent and I don’t care if we just got Neymar. He, Neymar, & Messi would rule the world. We can pick up a CB on the cheap from Eredivise or Ligue 1 if we have to.

  23. June 20, 2013

    So I got to thinking about our midfield options next season if Thiago leaves, and am curious about what people think.

    Sergi Roberto (henceforth Vidal Sassoon) will be promoted, and apparently Song is going to get more time in midfield, as well. This is in addition to Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas.

    The Gala XI was:

    Alves Pique Puyol Alba
    Busquets Xavi Iniesta
    Pedro Messi Villa

    I suspect next year’s XI will be:

    Alves Pique Mascherano Alba
    Busquets Xavi Iniesta
    Sanchez Messi Neymar

    What you gain with the potential for next season’s lineup is two players who have midfielder skills. I see this dramatically affecting the way that Xavi plays and approaches the game, in that he won’t have to hold/create as much, because Neymar and Sanchez can do that to a more effective degree than Pedro and Villa.

    In theory it will mean less running, etc., which should make him more comfortable. I think that we will also see more Fabregas in the role that many foresee him eventually occupying, which is the Xavi slot. And for me, Thiago has always struck me as the Iniesta heir apparent more than Xavi.

    I think we lose Fabregas as that false 9 3/4s that he has been effective at, but that becomes another option with the starting XI, with Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets by sitting either Neymar or Sanchez.

    I, for one, if Thiago doesn’t stay, am very curious to see what will happen next season.

    • barca96
      June 21, 2013

      Thiago looked like a heir to Iniesta but he evolved into a Xavi type of player which kinda disappointed me as I thought that Thiago was going to be a destabilizing type of player that we needED but I guess we have too many of them and it was a good decision from the coaching staff to play Thiago deeper as we don’t have anyone close to that.

      This in turn might give us a shot in getting Isco as Iniesta’s understudy 🙂

  24. BA
    June 20, 2013

    so, we’re about to lose easily the most talented young player in our squad, who came up through the cantera and who we can all agree would be a vital cog in our machine in coming years, to a direct Champions League rival, for far less than what he costs (Javi Martinez, 2 years older, cost €40 million).

    and nobody is particularly upset about it?

    in the context of seriously terrible transfer decisions, it’s shocking. this is a colossal failure on the part of the coaching and technical staffs as well as the administration, that we didn’t do enough to keep such a valuable young player in contract. i mean, what the hell guys? where’s the outrage?

    Isco is a player who might just be having a great season, and might not. we haven’t been watching him for 11 years as we have Thiago. we know Thiago has the potential; but already i see people blasé about the prospect of not only swapping them out, but effectively paying €15m to do so? seriously?

    Thiago is the current gem of all our young players and the future hopes of our midfield. are we going to produce other excellent midfielders? of course. but we already have one ready-made and who seems quite capable of filling the rather enormous (figurative) shoes of Xavi Hernandez ALREADY AT THE CLUB. if we don’t go to every pain to keep hold of such a player, that’s yet another a gigantic mistake on the part of the administration. to lose him to a club that’s a direct rival in Europe, for half of his value, is a disaster of both football and business.

  25. K_legit in Oz
    June 20, 2013

    If he leaves, so be it. Barça is bigger than any one player. Him and his father’s snide hints over the past couple of seasons have been quite annoying.

    • barca96
      June 21, 2013

      What is up with Brazilian Dad’s? 🙂

  26. andrecito
    June 20, 2013

    i’m right there with you BA. so many things about this are mind-boggling to me..

    starting with the contract clause..i dont know the exact logistics and i’m too lazy to look it up now, but it was something like he had to have played in 60% of all matches, which he just about did…if he wasn’t injured for 15 games (1/4 of all games!) then he surely would have reached the necessary quota..why wasn’t an injury provision put into the contract!?! if he would have gotten injured for the entire season and couldn’t play at all, then the coaches wouldn’t of even had a chance to meet the quota..

    another thing that baffles me (and this has been covered countless times in this blog) is the incessant usage of senior players in games when younger players could have been given a chance…we can argue this both ways, and i’m not professing to know more than the coaches, just as a passionate fan who wants to see the squad evolve because all squads are ALWAYS in a state of evolving..i felt like to a certain extent our growth seemed a little stunted this year. i don’t think any of our young players could feel super gratified about this year’s club season…and then then they ALL go and win the Euro Cup…it can be arugued that none of them were in true form because none of them played significantly this year (besides Thiago) and they still proved to be the best in their age group..

    but then there is the WC issue..and who in the world doesnt want to play in the WC??..being a super-gifted footballer who feels he is right on the edge of getting there…who are we to say–“be patient Thiago- youre time will come.” his time is now and he knows it won’t last forever…he is willing to leave his boyhood club to get to where he wants to be and that takes guts.

    that’s why i’m at peace with all this now..if Thiago leaves, it’s not going to be about money or’s surely not going to be about getting the chance to play more attractive football, because he surely knows he will be taking a step down in that department now matter where he goes…surely a buy-back provision will be inserted that will go into effect just about the time xavi is ready to hang it up..and by that time messi and iniesta, neymar and co. should be super-masterclass…so lets let whatever happens happen..and not get to bogged down in pessimistic thought…

  27. BA
    June 20, 2013

    “Barça is bigger than any one player.”

    it’s all well and good to say that, as though it were a realistic choice between The Club on one side and The Player on the other. but it isn’t, that’s a false dichotomy.

    “Him and his father’s snide hints over the past couple of seasons have been quite annoying.”

    the club, as we’re constantly told by Rosell and like-minded “administrators”, should be run like a business. i disagree personally, but if that’s an operating assumption then it follows we should do what’s best for the business regardless of how much of a dick the person in question is; though i happen to think Thiago has been quite measured in his statements on this matter, and his dad is a seasoned professional who was in the game a long time and has been involved in dealings with THIS club for over a decade.

    we NEED talented young players to stay at the club, and we DON’T NEED them to move to big rivals for far less money than they’re worth (after all, we’re all about saving money right?). these silly stands on alleged principles of club loyalty are counterproductive if the same stances are a huge net minus for the club in both footballing and financial terms.

    selling Thiago would be a horrible piece of business for us, and we the fans should be angry about it.

  28. andrecito
    June 20, 2013

    but don’t you think there will be a buy-back clause? do we even have the right to put that in the contract in this circumstance? provided that we can, since it seems like that is common practice in all contracts we do for young players, why should we be outraged? it would basically be like a loan.

  29. alpinegroove
    June 20, 2013

    Why is Adriano not playing with Brazil? Is he injured again or was he not invited?

  30. barca96
    June 20, 2013

    Why did LeBron look so cocky and angry during his speech after receiving the MVP? Can anyone who’s been following NBA enlighten me? LeBron is usually very calm..

    I love Kobe since 90’s and still do but LeBron is a machine!!

  31. Kari
    June 20, 2013

    Everything you read after this, including these words, is mostly drivel. What’s left are the sentiments of a sad-as-in-depressed person who hides behind juvenile satire to mask the crushing anxiety they feel about Thiago’s potential departure (which I still do not believe to be true and am in pretty serious denial).

    The rest is for you all to ridicule / ignore / ugly cry at / suffer from secondhand embarrassment / all of the above.

    10:00 GMT – Barcelona, Spain – Sandro Rosell’s Office.

    “Okay, Sandro. Today is your first day of negotiation training. I know that you won’t be partaking in the actual negotiations, but it is important to know what constitutes an acceptable bid and an unacceptable bid. For reference.”

    Sandro nods, a picture of stone faced impassivity. He is Sandro Rosell and he is a businessman, so all of this is mostly pointless, but he is also Sandro Rosell: Barca President, which pretty much makes him the de facto King of Catalunya , so he will be regal about everything – even though he just wants to vacation in Brazil and check out Neymar.

    This is really Zubi and Bartomeu’s job, after all, but Sandro is nothing if not a team player. Because he gets it. He cares.

    The press officer – at least that’s who Sandro thinks he is – looks impressed by his magnificence, as he should, and continues, “Okay. So I’m going to say a number. This is the bid I will make for one of your players, one that I will pick based on current market interest, and you counter with another number – one that is deemed an acceptable price for player but mostly for the Club.”

    Leaning forward in his chair, Sandro places his interlocked fingers under his chin and nods once more. A good price for him and the player, got it.

    “I am PSG and I am bidding on Valdes.”


    “50 million,” says the pres officer.

    “45 million.”

    “60 million.”

    “35 million.”

    The press officer looks a bit confused, like someone just told him Iniesta doesn’t glow in the dark when he clearly does.

    “I think you may have misunderstood me, Sir,” he says slowly. “When I say number, you respond one higher than that. Usually.”

    “Why? You said an offer deemed acceptable by the Club. He’s on the last year of his contract and he won’t go for his market price anyway. I’d much rather an efficient negotiation than a protracted one,” Sandro says. He keeps it real, all day, all the time. Time is money after all.

    It usually takes some time for some people to see his way of thinking, but that’s why he’s the president and they are the employees. Sandro doesn’t carry any hard feelings.

    “And besides,” Sandro continues. “Realistically, who will pay 50 million for Valdes? PSG are chumps, true, but they have a pretty good legal team. I get you want to negotiate based on principle, but in real life we’d be lucky to get 10 million. I’d rather cut the fantasy offers off at bud and deal with the legitimate stuff.”

    “Yes, but you have to fight for the player. Show you–the Club cares. The fans will appreciate that, but more importantly, so will the player.”

    “But I’m not a fighter,” says Sandro. “I’m a giver.”

    The press officer looks at him for a long time. If he were a lesser man, Sandro might have squirmed a bit, but he is Rosell so he stares resolutely back.

    Eventually the press officer nods decisively to himself and says, “Okay. Change of plans. We’ll keep the same structure, but this time, we’ll disregard the contract situation. We go by how much yo–the Club values the player, alright?”

    That’s easy, but Sandro really wants to go home and watch the Confederations Cup do Neymar on La Sexta so he says, “Got it, but no more interruptions. We do this for real.”

    The man nods. “I am Manchester United and I’m bidding on Thiago. ”

    This will be a cinch. He knows everything he needs to know about all his players, especially the ones that will be counted on in the future.

    “90 million.”

    Sandro tries not to laugh in his face. “81 million.”

    “75 million.”

    “54 million,” replies Sandro.

    The other man pauses, leans back in his chair and says, “39 million,” like he’s daring Sandro to turn him down.

    He doesn’t know Sandro. Sandro’s been in this game since before Bojan was born, all ten years and counting.

    It might be too early for this kind of jelly, but Sandro unleashes his business man stare, saying, “30 million, take it or leave it.”

    The press officer makes a motion to stand, which is total BS, but Sandro adds, “You can take JDS, too,” because he knows how to sweeten a damn deal and problem solve at the same time.

    As he expected, the man sits the hell back in his chair and chews his lip a bit, as if he even has to think about this.

    “34 million,” he says finally, because he’s got cojones the size of Puyol’s. “And we’ll throw in Kagawa.”

    He drives a hard bargain but Sandro will not be deterred. “25 million, plus JDS, Deulofeu, and first dibs on Dongou and maybe Samper,” he says, “if we can keep Arsenal away from him long enough.”

    The press officer shakes his head because he’s a stubborn jackass-as-in-donkey.

    “Fine. Fine. 18 million, plus all discussed incentives and Bojan. Final offer.”

    He considers this, as he should because it’s a freaking awesome offer. Like, if you measure this offer on a Richter scale of incredible offers, it’d be a twenty, it’s that good. It’d be like the inverse of the Ibra deal – economically, sportingly, financially, fiscally, and brag righty.

    Man, that was the worst deal ever. Barca is so lucky Sandro was there to salvage it and sell his ass back to Italy. It was one of his greatest negotiations in his time as president after Masche.

    “Deal,” the press officer eventually says, and Sandro subtly fistpumps under the table, away from judging eyes and press officers. Not that he cares.

    Said officer writes a cheque and hands it to Sandro.

    It’s for 16 million.

    At Sandro’s inquiring eyebrow, the press officer shrugs and says, “That’s all I had on me. Color copies are expensive these days, and we had Fergie’s retirement bash just the other month.”

    Sandro nods and pockets the paper. That sounds like a legitimate reason to him. It’s hard times all around, even in England. Especially in England. What will they do with a Fergie-less Mourinho? That’s like Batman without the Joker, Walter White without Gus Fring, Sandro without Laporta (except not, because Laporta is a loser and Sandro is the best president in history).

    He totally just owned this negotiation training exercise thingy. His team is going to kick so much butt this summer.

    And they already signed Neymar Reymar de Neymar, too.

    • Kari
      June 20, 2013

      Also, Lev – awesome post! Was smilling through it all. 😀

    • Dani_el
      June 21, 2013

      We missed you Kari! This should be a new post.

      “The press officer looks a bit confused, like someone just told him Iniesta doesn’t glow in the dark when he clearly does.” Loving this.

      • barca96
        June 21, 2013

        I second Dani_el’s thoughts. It should’ve been a long overdue funny post from you. Does this mean that you’re back?

    • Kari
      June 21, 2013

      Much obliged all!

      @barca96, I’m still just a regular reader like y’all. Hopefully more people will decide to keep making fun of this board so I can feel marginally better about the entire mess we’re in.

  32. Barka
    June 20, 2013

    It upsets me to hear that Thiago will likely leave us for Man United. Truly abysmal management by Rosell and Tito here. If 30 minutes a match when we have won the league is too much for Tito then the future looks bleak for our promising young players.

    Oh wait they get any minute under Eusebio either!

  33. barca96
    June 21, 2013

    Rosell & the board
    We can’t really blame them for the buy out clause & 60% condition. Both them and Thiago wanted something that is best for that. I think it is fair for Thiago to request for such a clause in his contract. I would’ve done the same thing.

    And 60% is quite an easy target to reach if you look at Thiago’s talent. The board did ok in this aspect to me. To play 60% of matches for someone of Thiago’s caliber is not too much to ask.

    He should be disappointed that he didn’t start more games especially in the spring but he and his entourage should understand that he was supposed to reach the 60% easily if it wasn’t for his lengthy injury at the start of the season.

    Should’ve played Thiago (and Bartra while we’re at it) much more in the latter stages of the season. 60% or no 60%, Tito could’ve and should’ve played Thiago more to rest Xavi.

  34. CuleToon
    June 21, 2013

    The thought has crossed my mind several times these last days: They really want Thiago out and thank you very much for those 18 mill (I’ll talk about an impersonal «They» or «Barça» because, should I be right, it’s all been agreed by Tito, Zubi and the board). The order of the following points doesn’t matter:

    – They don’t see the necessary consistency in Thiago’s play beyond his flashy movements. Tito et al. have seen him every day in the training ground and in official matches during the last couple of years and they think he has stagnated and won’t measure up to the task of running the team.

    – They are fed up with Thiago demanding —demanding— playing time and with his father messing about it.

    – Sure, Thiago & daddy thought that that clause was good for them. But so did Barça when he saw all this coming. There’s been too much unwarranted hype around this player even before he was promoted to the first team, and the situation has become unmanageable. So, let him go, let someone pay a good 18 mill for him, let people see that he’s never had Barça at his heart (he doesn’t: his father just brought him to the best school at hand), and let’s move on. Barça has never been short on first-rate midfielders.

    – Barça not only knew very well what was going to happen with Thiago’s clause, but prevented him to reach that 60% playing time, and leaked it conveniently at the right moment praying for someone to fall for such a «bargain». Should he remain unimportant for the team another season —as should be— they wouldn’t get nearly as much for him.

    – I feel bad seeing so many pleople here at BFB sad and upset at the prospect of Thiago leaving. But I’m sure we will not miss him at all even if he is voted the best player at the PL. We will still have better midfielders here.

    • I can kind of agree with all you say. What is confusing is the interest shown by Bayern. Pep too saw him for long, right?

      • CuleToon
        June 21, 2013

        I’ve heard nothing significant about Bayern’s interest. According to Bayern’s official website ( their current midfielders are:

        Ribery, Martínez, Robben, Shaquiri, Weiser, Alaba, Luiz Gustavo, Schweinstaiger, Emre Can, Kroos, Tymoshchuk (where’s Müller?); now, add at least Göetze to them… I don’t really see a place for Thiago there, much less a starting one.

        As for Pep, he hasn’t seen the day to day evolution of Thiago for a whole year.

        Yes, 18 mill seems low, but look at what we’ve got from all our promising young players these past years (Gio dos Santos, Assulin, Jeffren… you name it). We will have to sell for a bargain even Bojan —only 22 now— who displaced Ibra and played really well just a year before he left.

        So, would it be better for us to keep Thiago one more season, keep hearing about his demands and his dissatisfaction again and again, and end up selling him anyway next summer at a sale price?

        Moreover, Diario As says today that ManU offers Thiago the same salary that Iniesta or Xavi earn today at Barça, plus the assurance that he will be a starter. Frankly, I don’t believe it; but if it’s true, Good for him, ain’t it?

        There’s too much noise, too much din and racket around this player. It’s becoming unbearable. I’ll set my hopes on those who wait for their moment in silence.

        • Obii
          June 21, 2013

          CuleToon, if what you’re saying is correct, wouldn’t the smarter way to handle this situation have been simply to make Thiago play that extra game? The release clauses are just a token number anyway, when so high, as the club would surely accept a 30 million Euro bid for Thiago, even if the release clause was set at 90 million. That would’ve been more shrewd business, I feel.

          I love Thiago. I’ve had high hopes for him for a very long time, but if he wants to leave, I dont find it hard to get over it. What I do have a problem with is, the club earning only 18 million for a player that should be valued much higher, due to what seems like gross mismanagement on the part of the club.

          • Barca are not good sellers.
            Curiosly waiting to see what we will get for combined sales of Fontas+Afellay+Muniesa+Thiago+JDS+Bojan and anymore future genius’s from the masia.
            Kari’s post above nails it.
            More than a couple in the above are moving out for free. In that way, Thigao sale would be big!!!

          • CuleToon
            June 21, 2013

            I’m just looking for an explanation for this situation, bearing in mind that we don’t know nothing about what’s been going on between «Barça» and Thiago —and specially, his father— during this last year.

            I just thought that Zubi, Tito, Rosell & Co —all of them, plus all of the staff, and all at the same time— can’t simply be that stupid: «Oh my! F*** silly all of us! We forgot that our Masia gem’s clause would get from 90 to 18 milionl just for not making him play 30 mins more!» (IF they are that stupid… Well, I don’t want to think about it!).

            So, it seems more plausible to me that they wish to make planet football believe that they are THAT stupid, that due to that unbelievably stupid «oversight» of theirs, Thiago is there for the taking by anyone willing to seize the opportunity (which is something totally different from having Thiago secured with a high clause and wait for someone to knock on the door asking for him). At the same time, wether it’s intended or not, this situation acts as a public test of Thiago’s allegiance to the club, and if he leaves he will carry a greater part of the blame than otherwise.

            If no one puts forward another explanation, I’ll follow the wise advice of Sherlock Holmes: «When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth».

          • alpinegroove
            June 21, 2013

            How do you explain Pique’s statement that the club must convince Thiago to stay? Pique has also seen him day in and day out…

          • CuleToon
            June 21, 2013

            Alpinegroove, Piqué just answered a question during an interview on a sports radio program (

            His literal words were: «There’s the possibility that he ends up leaving, but someone should persuade/convince him that the best place is Barça. Players in his position like Xavi did have patience and have “marked an epoch” (=left their mark in world football)».

            For me, that’s not exactly the same as «the club must convince Thiago to stay». What Piqué said is the same that has said any other Barça-related person —player or not— when asked about it: that he should be patient and wait for his moment. Nothing more.

  35. Huckleberry
    June 21, 2013

    Thiago’s position is understandable. With Neymar arriving there is half a position less for the midfielders. There are four players for two positions and Tito seems to prefer the other three. If Thiago wants to leave and ManU is willing to pay the buy-out fee, there is only one thing Barça can do: offer a better contract and show more commitment…

    • CuleToon
      June 21, 2013

      In my opinion, that’s, precisely, what Barça should not do at all: raise —again— his salary. Thiago & Dad have already played this game and, two years ago, they got a raise way above the standard salary scale for promoted youths.

      Enough is enough.

      • nzm
        June 21, 2013

        Amazing that most people don’t consider that. Even Pep got Thiago’s salary raised to 1.6/1.8 million which factored outside the salary levels set for the team.

        The way I see it is this:
        ~ Thiago’s had the best education & training from FCB for a number of years.

        ~ He’s been coddled through his formative years & should be more than aware that he is of immense value to the club.

        ~ During his last contract negotiations, his management team got that 18mil – 95mil/60% playing time clause added to his contract. Against the wishes of the club, because his manager/father threatened that the player would walk if it wasn’t included.

        ~ He showed promise. He got injured late 2 seasons ago and missed the beginning of last season. He came back. He got injured again. He missed 15 games earlier this season through injury.

        ~ His contract is up for review again. (Players under a certain age can only be bound by existing contract for 2 seasons according to FIFPro statutes.)

        ~ Club was probably aware that further demands would be made that would see player again not fitting within the realms of their player contracts & salaries.

        ~ Club or the player’s management leak that the contract clause has not been met.

        ~ Mazinho then starts shooting his mouth off about contacting Real Madrid et al.

        ~ Club reiterates value of Thiago and hopes that he stays. (But if someone wants to buy out his contract clause, they won’t say no.) They say all that they can (in private & in public) and then they stand back.

        Because this is Barca. One of the best teams in the world. A team in which a lot of players would love to play.

        If you asked socis if they would prefer:
        1. a player who wanted to leave for better offers or
        2. a player who wanted to stay & play for the club

        They’d pick the latter. Regardless of quality.

        Somewhere along the line, the club has to put a stick in the ground and say no to all these salary/contract demands which in turn will hinder the team manager from selecting players for games simply based upon performance.

        Tello also has a similar clause, but his management got a 10mil lower limit instead of Thiago’s 18mil.

        I believe that what happened at the end of the season was the club reminding a player that he was not bigger than the team as a whole.

        It’s also a message to all the players (and their managers) coming out of La Masia who will be considered for the First Team to be a bit more realistic with their demands.

        If the club really wanted him to stay, they would have been in Israel with a new contract for him to sign, but I take from them not doing so as a sign that they are sick of being threatened and bullied by players’ managers making demands of the club when it comes to contracts.

        I will be disappointed if Thiago chooses to leave. However, that’s his choice. The WC playing excuse is just that – it’s an excuse.

        With conservative VdB in charge, I will be very surprised if he’s selected for the Spanish WC2014 team – barring any injuries to, or a drop in form by existing key La Roja players. If he is selected, there’s no guarantee that he won’t be sitting on the bench anyway. And imagine any player trying to tell VdB that he needs to play 60% of the games!

        If he had selected Brazil to play for, the irony is that he would most likely be in Brazil playing in the Confed Cup right now, and this whole situation would never have arisen. The Brazil team could do with a midfielder like Thiago.

        But that’s the choice that he made – and another choice will be to either stay at Barca or leave.

        I would like him to hang on for another season to see what happens but, again, that’s not my choice.

        All I can do is wish him well, hope that he succeeds & continue supporting my team & all the players in it who want to play for Barca.

  36. June 21, 2013

    I have resigned to the idea that we are losing him.
    What hurts me most is not his departure but the compensation we are likely to get, due to all these stupid clauses. In a frigging world where Andy Caroll costs 35M and J.Martinez 40M, the priced gem of the cantera should be fetching at least a minimum sum of 25-30M. In an ideal world, even 40M. I understand that Barca has never been a selling club. People play with us at their prime and leave usually for a small sum, due to the club putting players’ interests foremost. In this case, the dude is 21! with his entire glittering (or not) career ahead of him. We have taken all the effort to educate him and now face the prospect of another club reaping the fruits of the club’s labour and investment on a player. As I noted above in my comment, for me, losing TA for <20M is almost as bad a blunder as the Eto'o + 50M deal. Just Terrible business. I'd be interested to see what replacements we'll seek. And guys, stop salivating, Isco to FCB is not happening, as much as I'd love it.

      • Obii
        June 21, 2013

        Isco is amazing, but why would he ever join Barcelona, when his buddy from the U21’s is leaving due to lack of playing time. Why would he want to drop the starting position at Malaga, and go to Barcelona to be relegated to the bench at such a young age? He can go to any number of clubs that would be able to use him better than Barca can.

        • barca96
          June 21, 2013

          Isco doesn’t have a place in Madrid too. They’re stacked as well. If I were him, I’d rather ride the bench at Barca and wait for an opportunity to dislodge Cesc and win trophies on the way rather than Madrid. But that’s just me.

        • jordi™
          June 21, 2013

          Thiago has experienced playing and training with Xaviesta and Messsi. Isco hasnt. While one individual might leave behind what they have another would kill for it. Most footballers believe they can triumph where others failed, which why Madrid still attract top talent.

  37. Bill
    June 21, 2013

    Exactly my sentiments Ultracule. I also feel frustrated as much as I did when Eto’o left. This guys talent is real, and he is destined to be great without question in my opinion. That he is leaving for soo little is astonishing.

    But I’m happy for him. This was always a choice as soon as Barca went for Fabregas. I’m glad he went to Manchester United because he will be given an amazing stage to not only show his amazing talents, but that media will help him force his way into the Spanish national team for the world cup.

    It seems as if the team is becoming more Madrid-like in terms of going after flavors of the seasons, ignoring the potential talents coming through the youth systems and purchasing actual needs. I’m really worried about the direction the team has taken the last few years.

    • jordi™
      June 21, 2013

      The media is the last thing that will have an impact to someone like del Bosque. When Villa was injured all of the media was crying for Adrian, Soldado, Muniain etc. and del Bosque gave them the finger and made Pedro his number 7 even though Pedro didn’t have a good season. He called up Montoya while still in the second division. If there is a media campaign he will usually go the other direction. Michu had experienced that this year. Llorente at the Euros last year. Knowing how del Bosque operates, he ironically would probably carry Thiago to a world cup after a mixed season and ignore the media criticism against his choice than the opposite.

  38. Humphrey Bogart
    June 21, 2013

    the problem with the loss of thiago, beside from the sporting one, is also an economical one.

    1. The fee the club gets is laughable for a player of this quality and with regards what is paied for players his age (Andy Caroll, Jordan Henderson,…)

    2. Play him at Betis at home and you are on the safe side, if club still wants get rid of him, at least they can get a decent investement.

    3. Thiago was also an asset in which the club invested a lot of money and time, and now we give that asset away for as good as free.

    4. We can not even keep the 18 mio. as we need a replacement for thiago. Who should play if Xavi is injured?
    cesc? that would be a nightmare, he has no tactcial discipline nor the footballing brain to play in such a neuralgic position on ppicht
    Song? His first touch is even worse than tello and his decision making is questionable, as best. Like with Cesc Wenger has did his best to free them from any kind of tactical understanding, thinking and awareness
    Sergi Roberto? that can only somebody propose that did not watch barca b this season, Under the “education” of eusebio the guy has regressed in an unbelievable way.

    I suppose the club just thinks that xavi (who is getting 33 and his cronical injury problems) will after a draining summer tournament will just play 60+ games for 6th time in a row like a 25 year old. This strategy worked already so well with puyol last season.

    Last season we suffered because we could not play our pressing games anymore due to tired out players. What does tito / the board think will happen this season when opportunities to rest a key player like xavi are as good as non existing anymore?

    • June 21, 2013

      1. 18m for an unproven U-21 player would be excellent in a normal world. The reason that fee is there is because ZubiZa was a crap negotiator, and acceded to a demand so as to not potentially lose the player two years ago. Would have been easier then, frankly.

      18m is not pocket change, and certainly not laughable. That’s good money. Yes, the market has been skewed by the teams that are now some mega-billionaire’s personal playthings. No doubt. But in a normal world, 18m would be excellent business.

      2. Then you handcuff a player and have someone unhappy sitting on the bench. Not good. Better this way.

      3. Time, yes. Money? No more or less than Krkic, who would take shiny trinkets for at this time.

      4. We don’t need a replacement for Thiago. Not at all. See my notion comment above on next season, and the possibilities.

      It’s interesting how people are saying that Fabregas lacks discipline. Because that is exactly what commentators on Barça TV, who were assessing the season, said about Thiago. So “lacks discipline” is observer-dependent.

      Sergi Roberto has talent, and can develop into a very useful player in the correct environment. No worries there. I won’t even touch the Song comments, preferring to let his most recent performances speak for themselves via video. Download some matches, and have a gander.

      The situation isn’t anywhere near as negative as people would have other people believe. Thiago, if he leaves, will not damage the club or the way that it plays, to my view.

  39. Dani_el
    June 21, 2013

    According to Sport Mathieu will sign his contract renewal with Valencia. He said that he felt important in Valencia and was thinking about the WC next year. He also shared that he waited until the last moment to Barça but he knew he was the 5th on Barça’s list, Thiago Silva being their first choice. That was a good market oportunity that went away. There’s talk about Agger (28yrs) from Liverpool now.

    • June 21, 2013

      Hey, but cules said Mathieu wasn’t good enough, and isn’t a CB, even though that is the position that he is now going to play for Valencia. Ha!

      Agree with you in that he would have been an excellent signing. Another on the list, Rami, is almost certainly leaving Valencia, but not for Barça. MD keeps focusing on Thiago Silva and Agger. I like both, with a slight preference for the Tattooed Man.

      But again, why would Liverpool sell him? We’ll see. I can predict that whoever the club signs, will inspire hand wringing, including Thiago Silva, assuming we are going to pay 40m+ for a 29-yo CB.

      • June 21, 2013

        I think Mathieu would have been a good depth signing, but given the erosion of talent in the league in which we compete, I am very happy that he is staying at Valencia.

      • barca96
        June 21, 2013

        Tattooed man? Isn’t that Skretel? Please don’t tell me that you prefer Skretel.

        • Benj
          June 23, 2013

          Nah, Dagger has plenty of tats, however his knuckles read YNWA. I doubt he’s leaving Liverpool anytime soon. Rodgers seems to be building the new look side around him.
          source: LFC is my other passion 🙂

      • Messiah10
        June 24, 2013

        I’m not a big fan of Agger. I watch Liverpool a lot and he’s prone to some horrible passes. He’s not quick and just a Pique replica less any dribbling skills, passing skills, or system knowledge. Silva is the one to get or we could buy young and pick up Matthias Ginter who has some serious potential, versatility, and leadership.

  40. CuleToon
    June 21, 2013

    USA-Spain, U-20 WC. First Half: 0-3 (Jesé-Deulofeu-Jesé).

    – Neymar-esque assist for the first goal.
    – Messi-esque play and Henry-Villa-Tello-esque goal.


    • June 21, 2013

      Gotta find the right loan home for him. Crucial. Needs playing time, and toughening up.

      • CuleToon
        June 21, 2013

        Perhaps with Luís Enrique at Celta?

  41. simple_barcafan
    June 21, 2013

    A crazy thought…not that it has much proof or evidence to support it..But since it seems almost unbelievable as CuleToon noted that a huge club with such a big technical staff and astute businessman like Rosell as the head would overlook such a clause, I would like to propose a different theory…

    What if Tito wasn’t convinced Thiago would fit in his plans next season OR/AND if he was demanding too much playing time which Tito knew he couldn’t give which in turn might result in an unhappy player unsettling the dressing room atmosphere OR/AND the board is tired of the player and his demands and decided that he was not worth keeping in the team. So Tito and the board purposefully decide to play him for a less number of games so that the clause can be activated. Sounds preposterous..well, its the same Sherlock Holmes theory that CuleToon mentioned that we have to apply.

    Also for those who are saying that if the board really wanted to sell then they could have placed him in the market and sold him for 30 M…well it is not so easy..First not many clubs will be interested as they know his release clause is 90M and they have no upper hand in negotiations. And more importantly the fans will be enraged with the club for willing to sell one of the stars of the La Masia…But if Thiago goes, the club can put up an innocent face and claim that it was Thiago and not them who are at fault..Also I remember a press statement by Rosell, where he mentions that Thiago’s buy out clause was NEVER 90M. it was 18M which could be RAISED to 90M.

    Sounds preposterous and far-fetched? Well, you never know what goes on in the murky world of Rosell & Co.

    • CuleToon
      June 21, 2013

      Yeah, that’s what I tried to say. Whatever the reason, they’ve put him subreptitiously in the market and —I agree with Kevin on this— for a good price: it’s nearly 20 mill, a lot compared to other promising Masia gems that didn’t make it to the first team. The more I think about it, the more clear it seems (to me).

    • simple_barcafan
      June 21, 2013

      Also, I haven’t heard any statements either from Tito or the board telling how valuable Thiago is and they would prefer him to stay..

      • htMillBay
        June 21, 2013

        Cules are really good at and experienced in disappointment management.

      • nzm
        June 22, 2013

        Sorry – can’t let that one slide.

        Both Tito & Rosell in their latest interviews stated their desire to have Thiago choose to stay because he is part of the future of the team.

  42. June 21, 2013

    If Thiago wants to go so badly let him go. If he thinks moving to the prem will improve his chances of playing for Spain though then he is not particularly smart. If you look at the players who have moved to the EPL, none of them start or play regularly for Spain. In fact I think moving to the prem will reduce your chances.. Silva used get more minutes, but not so much anymore. I actually think playing in the prem makes them less suited to the way Spain play. Anyways, thats another discussion. Thiago is a great player but he is not good enough that he has the right to demand playing time or make a fuss because he doesn’t get the minutes he thinks he deserves.

    He should either be patient like Xavi and Iniesta were or he can leave and to be honest if his transfer helps us sign a proper CB then even better. The only thing that is annoying is that we wont get more money for him because I think we could probably get 30 instead of 18. Still, not the end of the world.

    Look on the brightside. We have Neymar. I was skeptical at first but the more I watch him play the more he wins me over. Kid has serious pace and insane natural ability. Neymar, Messi and Sanchez up front is going to be killer next season. Pedro and Tello as backup. Midfield is locked down with or without Thiago. Montoya looks the business. All we need is a CB, maybe a young keeper to start grooming.

    Season cant start soon enough. I miss me some Barca!!!!

  43. June 21, 2013

    Definitely echo the sentiments that if Thiago wants to go, he should, by all means.

    I do however question why he wasn’t played more, especially if it is true that he needed only one more game to reach 60%. Seems to me that we could have sold him for a lot more than 18M if his buy-out clause were still 90M, and it is not as if this season went down to the wire.

    • htMillBay
      June 21, 2013

      As has been pointed out, it was really bad business for the club. Having been a management consultant for the past three decades,I would not be surprised either if Tito and Zubi plain dropped the ball in terms of overlooking the contract. It won’t be the first time it’s happened. Believe me, I can tell you of millions lost in the business world due to what may be unbelievable mistakes but that’s human reality.

      Of course, fans have all the right to point angry fingers at execs that make a big deal about saving on photocopies to then make a mistake that costs the club a large amount of money.

      Sporting wise, I agree with xkevin that the club will be fine next year and the year after. When Xavi finally breaks there’s Cesc. After that who knows but that’s true of everything. Neymar is the real deal and having the two best football players in the world in one team will cover up a lot of weaknesses.

  44. June 21, 2013

    Many questions about Thiago, including whether the club knew that it was taking a risk with the low BO clause; didn’t want to risk losing him two years ago in case the Fabregas deal didn’t materialize; didn’t think the player would be ready at such an inconvenient time; believes the player is valuable, but not irreplaceable.

    As with everything, searching for answers outside of accepting that this thing is going to happen leads to madness.

    With the talent that this club generates, this is going to happen again. You can count on it. Look at Tello and his 10m buyout. A club would be crazy not to take a risk on that. We’re probably going to be seeking a loan, because it is going to be difficult for Tello to get enough playing time next season with he, Neymar, Pedro and Sanchez all in the pot.

  45. TITO
    June 21, 2013

    We often discuss like the club knows best what’s important for us. We never know what’s happening behind the curtains.
    That 60% buyout clause was going around for some time, at least dozens of games before the end of the season, and everybody knew it, so i doubt Tito had no idea about it. It would sound more than stupid.
    Anyway, he knows that, he has dozens of games to play Thiago, the league is already wrapped, but he still hesitates to play him, regardless of all the circumstances.
    That to me tells me just one thing. Our coaching stuff, probably together with the decision making elite are not counting on him at all.
    I stated in one occasion that i was fed up with his Fazer and stupid demands, and that they can both go and f.. off.
    The club before anything else. It’s simple as that.

    • June 21, 2013

      Framing this as support the club or support Thiago is creating a dangerous straw man and isn’t an honest approach to the situation.

      You don’t have to agree with the clubs decisions to support the club.

      • TITO
        June 21, 2013

        In more than one occasion i disagreed with the club’s decisions, which the past season were in large portions. But anyway, i support the club, regardless the consequences of unreasonable decisions they make.
        THIS is not about the club or Thiago.
        This is about the Club and any player that plays for us. That’s how I understand loyalty. You can agree or disagree with that approach, it’s your opinion.
        What more can a player of his status playing in Barcelona want?
        To play in the WC cup, when he’ll be 22? Oh wait, he wont get another chance the next decade or so, this is the last opportunity.

        • Jim
          June 21, 2013

          Thought just occurred to me. This Thiago business didn’t really raise its head until a few weeks ago. Around the same time our attempts at getting a top notch CB hit the skids. Is it pushing it too far to suggest that the club decided they needed to increase the pot for a Thiago Silva or, hopefully a Marquinhos.

          Not many easy ways to do that but supposing you had a youngster who played in an area you had more than enough cover or …

    • June 21, 2013

      No news here. Been saying that all along, that the problem is the system, rather than the players implementing it. Bayern was a wholistic ass-whipping. And the biggest problem is that our best and brightest asset is also non-renewable, so we have to start thinking about conservation and figuring out how to play a system that plays to the strengths of the personnel that we have. Harder than it sounds.

  46. simple_barcafan
    June 21, 2013

    Ironically, the only patient youngster we seem to have is

  47. nanoculé
    June 21, 2013

    Just saw a picture on twitter via @barcastuff of Rosell with Thiago’s father in the president’s box at a futsol game. Not sure if anyone saw this or if the media will make anything of this but could this be the club reaching out to come to some sort of agreement with Thiago et. al. ?

    • simple_barcafan
      June 21, 2013

      or Thiago’s father telling Rosell that his son is leaving??

      • June 21, 2013

        And Rosell always has that rictus grin/smirk, so you can’t tell if he has just been hosed or not.

        Wouldn’t put it past Mazinho to work the hell out of this for a better deal. “See what United is willing to do? Now what will you do?”

        Mazinho is smart enough to know that his son isn’t going to play in WC14. He is also smart enough to know that Barça is still (yeah, I believe it) the best club in the world. A season of patience means Thiago can run an attack that features Messi, Iniesta, Neymar, Sanchez and lord knows who else.

        It’s why I have been leavening stuff with “if true,” “if rumors are true,” etc. The “deal struck” thing came from the Daily Mail, which is about as reliable as a geriatric’s bowels.

        If there is a deal or angle to be worked, Mazinho will work it.

        • June 21, 2013

          Latest speculation is that we are suggesting a fat raise and a loan to a plum club, so that he can get lots more playing time. I kinda doubt this one, because I can’t see loaning Thiago out.

          • Barcaman
            June 22, 2013

            Is it possible to have a pre-agreement with a player so they can come back after their contract ends? Say Thiago signs a 3 yr contract with MU and in addition a clause is inserted such that we can buy him out after 2yrs for a set fee or we get him back for free after 3yrs (first-dibs-kind-of-thing). A loan would be nice but I also don’t find it very feasible – MU might not have the incentive, also unsure about the player – unless a longer loan? Arrgh…I just want this silly season to be over…

    • CuleToon
      June 22, 2013

      By the way, that futsal game was the fourth and last match (of five) of the spanish futsal league playoff. And Barça won the title, again.

  48. simple_barcafan
    June 22, 2013

    looks like Tito is stubborn on Thiago Silva..40M+ on a 29 year old defender..hmmm…

    • Barcaman
      June 22, 2013

      I would actually like to see him at Barca, I am pretty the return in titles would be worth it (to me anyways – This squad could conquer Pep’s Bayern (as an example of Europe’s Best) for 3yrs.

      ……..Keeper X (World class…or OK(Reinaish))………..
      Alves(Monty)—-Pique(Bartra)—T.Silva (sMasch/Puyi)—Alba(Adriano)
      ————(DM)Busquets (Song, sMasch)——–
      ——-(CM) Xavi (Ini, Fab)—–
      ———–(AM) Iniesta (Fab, Messi, Alexis)———
      (RWF/SS)Sanchez(P!/Ney/Messi)–(!9/SS)Messi (Ney/Cesc/Alexis)–Ney(Tello/Sanchez/P!) (LWF/SS)

      If we stand to make 30m in profit (if we’re to believe roSell anyways), and maybe we end up getting 30m in player sales, then why not invest in him?I’d rather pay that than buy another Song as a CB plugin for 18m (I like Song as a player, just to clarify. What I don’t like is his purchase – it was very unnecessary).

      • Barcaman
        June 22, 2013

        *pretty sure*

        Nonetheless, I acknowledge Kxevin’s and TotalBarca’s point that the CB has to actually fit into the system. In this case, I can’t foresee any problems with T.Silva given his quality – we desperately need the attributes he has. I would take that risk and hope both the team + coach and the player himself would work to fit into the system while optimizing the the if his skill-set.. A need for a younger CB is there though (Bartra or whoever the club has faith in should be nurtured from the early 20s or before that).

    • G6O
      June 22, 2013

      If he plays on the same level for another 4 years, it will be worth it. He only really entered the highest level of football at 24 so he probably has less mileage on his legs than most other players.

      It’s definitely better to get him for 40M than spending 20M on a player that is not going to solve the problem.

      If we get him, we don’t really need to make any other signings.

  49. Jafri
    June 22, 2013

    Rumor has it that EE are close to signing Isco…

    • G6O
      June 22, 2013

      The rumor has evolved into reports that he has already been signed 🙁

  50. mic
    June 22, 2013

    Let me paraphrase the above great article from totalbarca: “The solution is not in the transfer market, it should be in Tito’s head.” But, is it?

    Many times this season we looked like we were playing without specific orders for the match. As a consequence we looked slow, disjointed and frustrated. Then there were matches when we had a system prepared and suddenly these same players came alive and we were almost telepathic. Players are unable to change their performance that quickly, what changed was that Tito had a right plan for the game.

    How likely is that Pep had another very good coach as his assistant? Not best, just very good like Bielsa, Klopp, Heynckes, etc. Quite small I am afraid…

    • ooga aga
      June 22, 2013

      it appears you are trying to convince that Tito is not the right man for the job. I disagree. He is the right man at this time. There are many possible reasons for game to game variation in performance. I am wondering which part of the season you are referring to…the first part when we beat everyone? cant be that…the part where tito was in the hospital…cant blame him too much for not being on the sideline…the end where we had some injuries, some bad luck, fatigue, and one shellacking by the bayern juggernaut, etc…? can we not be a bit forgiving?

      to me it appears pep had a very good coach as an asst. better than pep? time will tell. i certainly havent been able to decide. pep definitely wins in the ‘flailing arms’ department…and also in the “CL titles won in 1st yr” dept….but he beats almost everyone there…. 🙂

      • Jim
        June 22, 2013

        …. And it’s easier to do it once than keep on doing it when teams have adapted to you. Just ask RM !

        • norden
          June 22, 2013


          It’s quite impressive what Tito has managed this season, but the system he uses now has some obvious flaws that more teams will be able to take advantage of next season.

          I believe/hope he will fix the flaws by tweaking the system to better suit the players he has, rather than hoping the new transfers will do the trick by themselves, i.e. what the article was about (I think).

          I’d like to hear what do you guys think should be changed in that respect.

    • ooga aga
      June 22, 2013

      it was very nice. froze buffon.

      on the other hand i didnt like the part where neymar knocked over abate in a revenge tackle, got a card and abate sent off injured in the process

        • Jim
          June 22, 2013

          It wasnt that bad, imo. The injury wasnt done in the tackle – it was his landing on the ground and I’m not convinced he didn’t do it trying to overplay the effect of the tackle. Wasn’t as if Neymar ran his studs down his shin or anything.

          However, if it was done in revenge then youre right, he needs to watch as we don’t want a card magnet.

      • G6O
        June 22, 2013

        Note something very positive though – after the goal he was given the ball in almost an 1-on-1 with a defender but got muscled off it and fell. But instead of asking for a foul, he got up immediately and chased after the ball. A good sign

        • June 22, 2013

          Re that Neymar challenge/yellow, I will say that I think that our players take too much crap. I always enjoy when someone such as Mascherano (or Keita, when he was here) says “Enough, now here’s one for you.”

          Yes, there is a way to do it without getting a card, and I can’t condone the rush of blood that precipitated it. But I do think that sometimes, even sprites have to send a message.

          This Italy match was one I was very interested in, because Italy marks closely, and plays in a fairly concentrated block. They also counter well, to take advantage of buck-wild Marcelo. In short, conditions similar to what Neymar is going to see when he is playing with us.

          I was pleased with what I saw. He could almost always make space, and if he’d had teammates with better off the ball movement, he could have been even more dangerous. Something to think about when you consider how much Messi, Iniesta, Pedro and Sanchez move without the ball to create space and passing angles.

          The Spain match, if they can get past Uruguay in the semis, will be the biggest test.

          I am still in “wait and see” mode. There is absolutely no question about his talent. But there are still many questions about durability, adaptation and mental toughness that will be answered in the months to come.

          And I will tell you this: We have another free kick taker. Teams are going to really have to start thinking again about fouling us near their box, as they used to when we had Ronaldinho. That made movement easier, because of that reticence to foul.

  51. CuleToon
    June 23, 2013

    Just for those who like to know about the broader context of Barça in Spain:

    An excelent piece by Rubén Uría on the treatment given by Madrid-Spanish media to both Barça-Qatar and RMad-Emirates agreements. Sadly, it’s only for people very fluent in spanish: impossible for Google translate.

    I’ll look for another piece by Rubén Uría, posted some 4-5 years ago, in which he detailed the madridista background of each and every president of the Spanish (Football) Referee Association during Franco’s era (and well into the 80’s as well).

  52. barca96
    June 23, 2013

    You know how in the movies the actors can have a nightmare and actually wake up from it? I had one last night. It was Isco joining Madrid and tormenting us for years. I shouldn’t have opened BFB last night before going to bed and read Jafri and G60’s comments. Sigh.

    What a nightmare, Isco to Madrid. I am confident he will be equally or even better than Iniesta. I actually looked up on the Guardian to see if there is an announcement on Isco to Madrid but there is nothing official yet, yet! C’mon Soriano and Txiki!!!

    • June 23, 2013

      Isco, a couple of seasons ago:

      “no era del Madrid de pequeño, diría que soy un poco antimadridista aunque uno no sabe dónde va a estar su futuro, pero es un equipo que a mí nunca me gustó”

      I didn’t support M*drid when I was a boy, I would say I am a bit anti-M*dridista although one doesn’t know where his future will take him, but it is a club I have never liked.

      • barca96
        June 23, 2013

        If Isco really joins them, he would be another Ozil, Modric and potentially Suarez. I do understand them though. Career comes first.

        I knew some kids when I were in Rotterdam who are die hard Ajax fans, wear Ajax training jacket and pants everyday before and after practice at, you guessed it, Feyenoord. They are twins.

        A friend friend travels by Ajax van every week day from Rotterdam and he was a Feyenoord fan. Must be awkward for them but I doubt they were the only ones.

    • Doug
      June 23, 2013

      Iacocca has a lot of potential, but I don’t see him as a better player than Don Andres.

  53. TITO
    June 23, 2013

    He will NEVER be equal or better than Iniesta.

  54. CuleToon
    June 23, 2013

    As some of you already know, I’d prefer to lose sight of Thiago once and for all. With that said, I actually think that the signing of Isco for RM*** can make Thiago stay.

    Once you see how the madridista/spanish press is talking about Isco right now —the best thing since sliced bread— if Isco ends up getting enough playing time at RM —and that’s a big IF— VdB will have to call him for the next WC as part of the so-called «RM Quota» which, until recently, included the likes of Arbeloa, Albiol and Alonso (the «Triple A») apart from Casillas and Ramos, which I’d say are OK.

    Since Both Thiago and Isco are the «gems» of the U-21 spanish team and they form a good partnership, if Isco ends up replacing some member of the triple A, the only possibility Thiago has of being called for the WC with him is to remain at Barça because of the visibility he would have at a spanish level. If he ends up playing abroad, he won’t have as much visibility and it would be much easier for VdB to dispense with calling him.

    About Neymar: I can’t wait to see him playing with Barça, to see him receiving the ball twenty times more than with Santos and ten times more than with Brazil!

    • June 23, 2013

      One of my RM supporting friends almost had a fit when he read in AS that they signed Isco…

      Özil is their most talented attacking midfielder, and if he plays for Modric they will have just wasted 30+ million they spent last summer.

      If I were Flor I’d splash all my money on Cavani.

      • CuleToon
        June 23, 2013

        As you say, a lot of merengues didn’t see a place for Isco in RM’s squad, and much less as a starter. On the other hand, there’s been A LOT MORE of them demanding his signing «just because», without regard to the needs of the team, so it looks like another «political» signing typical of Mr. Floren.

        Anyway, it’s their problem, isn’t it? Although Isco seems a nice guy and it would be a real pity to see him ending up as another Canales (I don’t put Pedro León, Granero, etc., in the same league).

        • June 23, 2013

          Then again, last summer they kept relatively quiet. Who knows how much money they plan on spending this time round? Maybe Isco is just the start.

          Also, if he does go to M*drid I hope he ends up as another Canales!

  55. barca96
    June 23, 2013

    He will be. Of course Iniesta is better than Isco now. But I foresee Isco to be better than Iniesta. Iniesta wasn’t so influential (not really Iniesta’s fault as he was playing in a star studded team). Is Co’s end product is better.

  56. barca96
    June 23, 2013

    Never say never 🙂

    Isco at this age is much more productive than Iniesta and more all round. I’ve loved Iniesta since the first time I saw him coming on as a sub. I love these type of players.

    I looked up the stats to back up my statement. Isco is more productive at all the age categories compared to Iniesta. I’m not only looking at appearances and goals & assists only as it would be unfair to Iniesta as he couldn’t play that much due to the competition. I looked at the ratio.

    Isco is like a clone but with a better end product, a goal threat. Crack!!

    • Jim
      June 23, 2013

      To be better than Iniesta he’d have to end up just about the best player on the planet. Thats not gonna happen imo.

      Nothing he has done so far matters for that. It’s how he performs at the highest level. I’d take Thiago over him based on this tournament only.

      He’s a promising talent but no more at the moment. Not sure RM is the team for him either as they don’t seem to value midfield play much. To be fair that may change I suppose.

      • Jim
        June 23, 2013

        As if on cue, Ini is on fire in the game against Nigeria

        • Messiah10
          June 24, 2013

          His move to get around the left and and in the box only to nutmeg dude in the box and almost score within the first few minutes of the game had me laughing hysterically. I was thinking of what the Nigerian defender was thinking at that moment. “WTF! OMG, this is going to be a long game!”

  57. ciaran
    June 23, 2013

    How can anyone foresee Isco being better than Iniesta?
    He had a good u-21 tournament but it is an u-21 tournament after all, and Thiago looked every bit as good as he did 2 years ago not to mind this one and so did Ander Herrera in that tournament for that matter.
    He plays a more attacking game than Iniesta so his statistics might look better but if all you look at are goals and assists then Xavi looks very average

    • barca96
      June 25, 2013

      I never mention Xavi did I? So I don’t understand why you would bring Xavi up. Compare apple to apple.

      Isco is as attacking as Iniesta is. No one will exactly be the same but they are as close as you can get. Both attacking midfielders coming in from the left, close control, ball close to feet, right to left. All the same as Iniesta was when he first came on to the scene. Only thing that separates them is Isco’s end product.

  58. ooga aga
    June 23, 2013

    George Dawn (jordi alba) has two goals today, could be a first for him.

    im seeing a spain-brazil final…

    • Jim
      June 23, 2013

      And what a ball from Villa for his second !

      • yana
        June 23, 2013

        That whole sequence is amazing. The camera is almost Villa point-of-view — the in-play shot, not the replay — as Villa is leaning over settling the ball for the restart, you can see Alba start running, 35 yards forward. Villa had a split-second to straighten up and launch the ball forward before Alba would be offside. Not to mention that in this scenario Villa is the left back and Alba is the forward, ha. Must be the Valencia history, it’s certainly not very Barça.

  59. psalmuel
    June 23, 2013

    With better finishing and less naivity,Nigeria would have gotten a better result against spain. I was surprised spain had to start parking the bus. At the end of the day class always outclasses. A job weldone by Nigeria

    • Jim
      June 23, 2013

      Spain hardly parked the bus. They were ahead and saved themselves for later in the week. No need to chase the game. Lesson for Barca in that. Nigeria got drawn out and Villa found Alba with a long ball. Game over.

    • I was so surprised watching Nigeria. They played so well. If only they had some good finishers, it would have been embarassing for Spain (of course, Spain was saving energy here and there, still). I dont think Spain parked the bus, but they were tested a lot yday.

      I think, if they play the same with under this coach, they are going to be a real threat in WC. They passed very well too.

  60. nia
    June 23, 2013

    Valdes, Reina play and keep clean sheets. Iker returns and concedes. I can see why he was benched by Mou 😉

  61. Chiu
    June 23, 2013

    Wow, Iniesta is magical again vs Nigeria. Always produce moment of brilliance like a routine things. He deserves at least one BdOR in his career.

  62. andrecito
    June 24, 2013

    wow…pep’s first press conference and his german is awesome..i feel like this stream is coming from an alternate universe..

  63. June 24, 2013

    Guardiola: “No one leaves Barça for money. You only leave if they get rid of you or if you aren’t playing & want to. No other reason.”

      • Messiah10
        June 24, 2013

        Ha. Nice one. I do feel Figo left because he thought he’d have a better chance winning at EE. At least that’s what he says.

        OT: Can someone please tell me why when I click “replay” to any post the screen reloads at the very top of the comments? I just got a new PC a couple of months ago and it’s done it ever since. My old one just opened the “reply text box” right where I clicked reply. It’s annoying to have to scroll to the bottom of the page(if that’s where I clik on a comment) to get bck to the box. It’s almost as bad as the BBC Sport pages when commenting and reading.

  64. nia
    June 24, 2013

    I hope the team doesn’t pay big time for 11 of the first team players being out in Brazil playing all these mins in the hot and humidity. On cuatro, they just showed a clip of Busi throwing up on the field and Iniesta kept trying to cool his thighs with cold water. This sucks coz EE only have 4 at the tournament and the rest of the team resting. We also have Messi popping up all over the world, I know it’s for a good cause but, these players could surely use a rest.

    • barca96
      June 25, 2013

      Do you prefer that the Spanish NT has more Barca players or Madrid?

      I on one hand I am happy to have so many Barca players in the NT. On the other hand, it reduces their chances to win trophies with their clubs.

      • nia
        June 25, 2013

        That’s my point exactly but, with the players playing soooo much for club and country where both coaches barely rotate and always play the best 11. That’s almost always 8 Barca players at any one time for Spain and all 11 players for Barca now with Neymar included. Surely this will wear the players out quicker, no? Good thing some of the Barca players were late bloomers. Add to the Europe schedule, they have Fifa dates where every one on the team is playing. Hopefully Tito can wise up this year and rotate more in the ‘smaller’ games. Can’t afford another shellacking like against Bayern.

        Tito will be off to NY for more treatment in September missing 3-4 games in the process. Does this mean they will play their best 11 all those games and tire the team out again like last year? I hope not.

        • June 25, 2013

          Personally I could care less about la furia roja and I’d prefer if all Barça players retired from the national team.

          Culetoon, nzm, what is the prevailing mood in Catalonia regarding the Catalan players?

          • Huckleberry
            June 25, 2013

            That’s the view of the ultras all over the world. But it’s not the view of the players.

          • CuleToon
            June 25, 2013

            As always, there is no simple answer to this. In fact, this question is more complex than it seems at first sight.

            According to the last official poll —last week— a 55,6% of Catalan citizens are in favor of an independent Catalonia, and 23,4% of them are against it. So, a lot of people don’t want to see catalan players with the Spanish NT at all. However, they would like to see a Catalan NT irrespective of the fact that, al least initially, such NT would have as many Barça players as the Spanish NT has now, and the wear would be practically the same.

            But the fact is that such an option doesn’t exist (for now). So, I’d say with some confidence that a majority of Barça socis and followers approach this situation with more or less ambivalence, with mixed or even contradictory feelings (think of an spectrum):

            On the one hand, they don’t like to see so many important Barça players playing everything there is to play for so many years, since the resulting wearing is obvious.

            On the other hand, they enjoy seeing Barça and Barça players making history in world football through the Spanish NT (and much —much— more so, since the Madrid-Spanish media repeat constantly the «Barça style is boring» mantra, but drool like idiots when they see this version of Barça they call «Spanish NT» winning all there is to win with that same style: their ludicrousness is worth some laughs!).

          • CuleToon
            June 25, 2013

            Oh, and probably there’s a vague feeling of discomfort about some Barça players not resting enough, and wanting to play this ConfeCup because it’s the only «important» trophy left for them to win (and because they don’t want to be left out of the next WC, where they’ll try to make more history winning two consecutive WCs).

  65. Huckleberry
    June 25, 2013

    Don’t forget that this is the last chance for our boys to win an international trophy this year!

  66. June 25, 2013

    There was this prevailing feeling of victory among Cules when Mou left. Truth is Madrid, under any other manager, with all their resources are a much more fearful prospect. They were under pellegrini and they will be under Ancelotti. I hope we realize that rather than think that we’ve overcome the biggest hurdle in Sourinho.

    • June 25, 2013

      Well, although most of us are happy to see the back of him and delighted it all ended in failure, it would have been great for Barça had Mourinho stayed. That team would have blown up this year.

      Ancelotti is an excellent choice for RM.

  67. CuleToon
    June 25, 2013

    By the way, to all Barça socis here: I’ve just come from Barça offices to «show that I’m still alive». Rosell & Co are updating the census since last autumn and the period ends next Sunday, June 30.

    I thought that the period ended on September 2013, and knew about the real end a few days ago. Some fellow socis I know either forgot about it or thought that they had more time.

    For socis living in BCN, you show up there and that’s it. For socis living far away, there are other methods that involve more bureocracy. Please visit FCB site for more info.

    I’ve asked the guy at the office what would happen to people who don’t show up in time. He said that they’ll remind them of this for quite some time and that he didn’t know anything more.

    • June 25, 2013

      Did that months ago. Foreign socis just need to see a notary, and off you go. There is also a census of Penyes that is ongoing, presumably linked to the proposal to give them, as independent units, voting power in significant legislation, such as, oh, whether a new Nou is to be built.

  68. June 25, 2013

    In other news from the world:

    –MARCA features an interview with Johan “Hey, Looka Me!” Cruijff, in which he uses some rather interesting statements to throw stones as the current board. The front-page bombshell, of course, is now that we have Neymar it is time to consider selling Messi.

    –Pique says that we already have enough CBs for next season, and can get through alright.

    –We signed one of the hottest prospects in Spain from Espanyol, something worth thinking about the next time Rosell stomps his fancy loafers and snuffles indignantly about Premiership sides coming in and stealing our young’uns.

    • nia
      June 25, 2013

      I think Pique has had a few knocks to the head he’s not making sense anymore. Add to that the knock VV gave him a few days ago, the boy aint right. I can see what he’s saying Puyi, Masche, Bartra, Pique, “Adriano” but, only Pique and Masche can be counted on. Bartra doesn’t have the trust of the coach and Puyi…. well, only his knees know when he’ll play again. Adriano really isn’t a CB. Can’t hurt to have another CB, strength in depth.

      While I’m happy to see the back of Mou, the prospect of Ancelotti is a bit worrying. Mow worked very hard in finding the best formula to beat us and managed to get the better of us lately but, with Ancelotti, I think he’ll make EE more threatening to Europe as well. He’s quieter and tends to slide under the radar and is a good tactician *see PSG*.

      I think Rosell, Cryuff and Laporta need to stop these cheap jabs at each other coz they could affect the team. Surely this can’t be healthy for the team, just look to EE and see rifts.

    • Messiah10
      June 25, 2013

      I was just coming on here to see if anyone had posted Cruyff’s coments. How ridiculous are they!? Just because he is bent at Rosell for axing him as honorary president doesn’t mean he should try to use the players to start unrest. Neymar has said on several occasions that he wants to play at Barca and with Messi. Period. Who cares who takes the free kicks? They can each have a couple a game. Big deal. Who cares if they have different sponsors? How many teams have players with different sponsors? EVERY one. Stupid comment that makes Cruyff seem bitter and moronic. If he cares about the club he will shut his pie hole

      • June 25, 2013

        If anyone has earned the right to say whatever the hell he wants to say, it is Johan Cruijff. We don’t have to agree with him, and in this case, I obviously don’t.

        We should keep in mind, however, that M*drid did certainly not become a better team when Florentino started piling on galactico after galactico. Neymar and Messi will have to prove that their styles of play and superstar demands (on the field) can coexist. Both of them seem to be team players for the most part, although team defense could possibly become an issue.

        As for the free kicks, I like the idea of la Pulga and O Ney standing behind the ball, with the keeper clueless of whether a left footed or right footed specialist will take the shot.

        Also it is usually Xavi who takes the free kicks from the left, although I imagine that will change the moment Neymar starts taking them better.

        • nia
          June 25, 2013

          With NeyJr already submitting and willing to play for Messi and Barca, I don’t think it will be much of a problem with the two playing together. Of course tempers and maybe ego’s will collide as Messi sometimes has a temper when things don’t go his way but, I don’t think it will be as bad as Cryuff says. It seems as though he’s hell bent at criticizing the current board at anything they do but also, there could be some truth to his madness.

          Criticizing Rosell is one thing but then involving the players is another.

  69. nia
    June 26, 2013

    What’s the story that Xavi is a little dictator behind the scenes? One of the Spanish coaches came out and said that there was a disagreement on whom Xavi wanted to play along side. Although VDB dismissed the claim as nothing, I can’t help but to think Xavi has too much influence in both the NT and Barca. He is a senior player and I’m sure he is well respected by both managers but surely, he doesn’t have that much control or input in the team. Also, why would that coach come out and say that in the middle of the tournament to destabilize the team especially as Xavi is the heartbeat of the team.

    I’ve read up on it on deferent sites and I’ve noticed that people are also saying Arbeloa was being isolated by Barca players and Iker because of what he said when Mou left. TBH, I just think he’s a bad player that, the rest try not to give him the ball too often. Pique and Ramos don’t like each other but, they make a good partnership.

    • Jim
      June 26, 2013

      I suspect that will be one ex- Spanish coach if true. If nothing is done then I’m guessing its just another cobbled together non story.

      No player should have the ability to decide who plays or doesnt but senior plays may well be asked for an opinion.

      On another tack if anyone has too much influence there’s nobody I’d rather it was than Xavi.

    • alpinegroove
      June 26, 2013

      My guess is that he probably didn’t want to play with a double-pivot and preferred to see Xabi Alonso on the bench…

  70. TITO
    June 26, 2013

    Xabi Alonso didn’t travel with the group in Brazil at all, as far as i know.
    Anyway, regardless his influence, personally i hate it when a player interferes into coach’s decision on who to play or not.

  71. alpinegroove
    June 26, 2013

    The reports I read did not say that these “disagreements” took place during the current competition.

  72. Jafri
    June 26, 2013

    Just when I think Neymar is too individualistic and selfish to fit into the Barcelona structure, he provides a great little assist for Fred. Kid’s going to be infuriating. And magnificent.

  73. PrinceYuvi
    June 26, 2013

    Neymar gets fouled a lot but acts up too much, a worthy 10 though.

  74. Jafri
    June 26, 2013

    Isco has officially transferred to Real Madrid, keeping in with their policy of signing the most touted midfielder of the month. So that’s Kaka in ’09, Ozil in ’10, Sahin in ’11, Modric in ’12, and Isco in ’13. Hopefully he’ll be as much of a let down for them as most of the others.

  75. James
    June 26, 2013

    I have a question.

    Why are we so sure that Thiago’s clause went down to 18 million from 90 million? Given that this supposed reduction only lasts until August 1st. What I mean is, if we are penalized for not playing him enough, why would his clause go back up as the new contract season starts? Wouldn’t his clause stay at 18 million until after we’ve successfully fulfilled whatever the next set of obligations (i.e. play him more next year)

    I read that Rosell said in a press conference that Thiago’s clause was never 90 million, that it was always 18 million. It would only go up to 90 million if he played enough games this year. To me this seems more logical. He played in 60% or more in both total games and La Liga games. If his clause is due to rise to 90 million in the new season of his contract…wouldn’t it make sense that we fulfilled our obligation? This isn’t even factoring in that Thiago missed 2 months with injury. You’d think any contract involving % of games played would factor in injuries.

    I ask because it seems we’re awfully willing to believe anything that suggests management made this huge blunder, or that Tito sacrificed Thiago in order to set the points record. I just find that hard to believe.

    • G6O
      June 26, 2013

      I just came here to post that.

      That’s one of the most hilarious dives ever seen – it’s almost defying the laws of physics 🙂

      • June 27, 2013

        Yup. And he gets bonus points for doing it right in front of the referee, lol!

        • Actually, every time Neymar goes down he wins the free kick. If European refs would be as lenient, we are going to get more fkicks.

      • barca96
        June 27, 2013

        I thought it was a foul at first but when they showed the replay, my jaws dropped to the floor. So embarrassing. It’s something that the likes of di Maria or Suarez would do. I hope Neymar doesn’t do anything close to this while wearing the Barca jersey.

        • frankly, I dont remember seeing DeMaria diving backwards. lol.

          We can have a good test of Neymar, in the finals, if its against Spain. Apart from Ramos and Arbeloa, there are hardly any physical players, and we will see.

  76. Gogah
    June 27, 2013

    Losing Thiago Alcantara and EE gaining Isco.
    2 Spanish starlets I have loved watching, moving in wrong directions.
    I am really pissed. And the damn silly season is yet to begin. I want to go to sleep and wake up end August.
    Good night.

    • barca96
      June 27, 2013

      It’s making me sick to my stomach. Just last week I was salivating at the idea of a Thiago Isco pairing to replace Xavi Iniesta for many years to come.

      We already have Thiago, we just need to pay 30 mill to get the other half. Couldn’t Tito see how well these 2 controlled the midfield in the u21’s? We were so close but yet so far…


  77. barca96
    June 27, 2013

    Wasn’t that interview where Cruyff talked non sense published on Marca? Or did Marca used another paper’s article? If it really was from Marca, I would really find it strange that Cruyff would say such things to a Madrid paper.

  78. June 27, 2013

    Isco, 2009: “I would say I’m a bit of an Anti Madridista. Dont know why, but I’ve never liked the club since I was small”

    Me, 2013: “Really?”


    (Perez laughs, closing his cheque book)

    • June 27, 2013

      I think it is great that they buy players who don’t even like the club. Excellent.

    • Rami
      June 27, 2013

      I can’t help but to feel a little bit depressed when reading this, Is football really pure business, Has money replaced, Principles, Ideals, A sense of belonging toward a club, That passion you give toward a crest, A place you can call home.
      Look what i’m babbling about, Who cares for that nonsense, When you can buy the new ferrari.

  79. June 27, 2013

    On Isco: So what? RM signed him. Just means they are collecting midfielders to add to their collection. Modric and Ozil must be wondering what the hell, as well as Di Maria. Until he plays, and plays us, it doesn’t matter. And Thiago wanting a better job has zero bearing on Isco. He made the choice (Thiago). Not us.

    I see a lot of “the club is losing/the club let go/the club screwed up/.” For me, nothing could be further from the truth. Thiago was one match short of the required percentage of matches that his camp had put into his contract, for the simple reason that it gave them a sword of Damocles to hold over the club and coach’s heads. One. Match.

    I rather like that it is one match. I am in no way saying that Thiago is disloyal. But I think that the low buyout means that the player has a clear choice, one that he appears to have made. I would rather that, than a high buyout fee locking him to Barça with golden handcuffs.

    It will suck to lose Thiago. Word is that the United deal is done and dusted. I believe him to be a huge talent. But I also think that the club can afford to lose him, given how gifted we are in midfield now and in the future. So we move on.

    — Lots of talk about the Neymar dive, but none that I could see about how decisive he was. He effectively made both goals, the first with a remarkable run/control/shot sequence, the second with an absurdly well-placed corner. Too bad we don’t have anyone who can head the ball into the net, though.

    What I see from some people (note: NO ACCUSATIONS TOWARD ANYONE) is an almost pathological desire to have him fail. Why, I don’t know. If he fails, the club is out of a bunch of money. That’s a lot to pay to be able to say “Hmph. Told ya so.” I always hope that every player we sign works out to be as marvelous as the club hopes that he can be.

    Yes, he dove. He got a little whack and made a meal of it. We have many players who do that, and many players who go down easily. It’s also worth noting that Neymar gets fouled a lot. He gets fouled a lot because his danger is such that defenders would rather give up a free kick than have to risk him making a fool of them. I’m okay with that.

    The diving/playacting can be fixed. It toned way down in Iniesta, Busquets, Sanchez, Alves. No reason to believe that it won’t in Neymar.

    • June 27, 2013

      Diving is part of the game in South America. It doesn’t bother me at all. Anyone remember Rivaldo acting like he got hit in the face after a Turkish player gave him the ball in their opening game at WC 2002? It was hilarious.

      Having said that, I hope he’ll tone down the theatrics with Barça because it is usually not in our advantage.

      As for Thiago, I repeat, if he missed the necessary 60% by one single game then that was really careless from the club.

    • Rami
      June 27, 2013

      In almost every game with santos, I saw defenders violently tackle him, It’s shocking actually, You’ll almost think that they’re deliberately trying to break his leg, Maybe to try compensating their lack of skills in defending, So it’s not a surprise he developed the habit of diving.
      After spending sometime with our squad, And see his biggest idol take beating after beating and still manage so stay on his feet, He’ll come around.

      • Jim
        June 27, 2013

        …and you can bet the house that he first time he does it with us there’ll be a gentle word.

        • June 27, 2013

          I’m not sure about that. It took Lexus a good season and a half before he stopped diving – before that he had always been quite unapologetic about the whole thing…

  80. Rami
    June 27, 2013

    I’ll probably get criticized for saying this, But i think bringing alba wassn’t a great decision and not well thought, Not that he isn’t a good player, He’s sensational, But from a wide perspective, What he ‘added’ to the team, Can’t compensate for what he ‘removed’, You can’t replace an 186cm, Physically strong player with a 170cm one, To a squad that already had one of the shortest average heights in Europe.
    We were always the club that preferred ‘skill’ over ‘physicality’, But this time it bitten us in the ass, Big time.

    • Absolutely. Finally someone agrees. And to make matters worse, even if we buy a tall central defender we will remain vulnerable unless we add the height in some where else in field. With only Busq, Pique, Puyol/replacement our zonal defending simply will not work. We need one more person in there. Salute the wisdom of letting go off Abidal, a rare breed in football – a left back(it’s not easy to find one now we only have wing backs now on the left all over the world), pacey, can be used as central back. His fitness was a worry but not something on which we could have gambled.

      • Rami
        June 28, 2013

        Abidal’s situation is a different matter entirely, What i tried to say is that the club should’ve given more thought before signing alba.

  81. alpinegroove
    June 27, 2013

    ESP with 0 shots on goal the entire first half against ITA…

    • Rami
      June 27, 2013

      They’ll win 1-0, Just like they always do.

    • Jim
      June 27, 2013

      Probably MOTM on the Spanish side for me.

  82. Ryan
    June 27, 2013

    The Force was not with Spain in those last 10 minutes – so many chances to score were wasted!

    Let’s see how this penalty shoot out goes… will we see panenkas from Pirlo and Ramos? 🙂

    • Ryan
      June 27, 2013

      I kinda love how Spain are becoming Italy’s bogey team. 🙂 We have a Spain-Brazil final!

  83. nia
    June 27, 2013

    Italy have learned lessons from that defeat at the Euro’s and in fact, looked better at some points. Well, that’s all 11 players for Barca in the final. Tough one this coz, in one hand, I want Alves and NeyJr to win(especially Ney to play well) and in the other, kinda hope for the Barca’s Spain players to win it. Good luck.

  84. barca96
    June 28, 2013

    What a move by VdB to play Martinez upfront. Who would’ve thought of that? He was the reason why Spain finally got the upper hand in the match. It works for Barca too when Pique plays up front. I don’t understand why Pep and Tito never experimented with that as we clearly need height at times.

    I was always opposed to buying Martinez but if I had known that he can play 3 positions, I wouldn’t mind him now. He can play DM, CB and FW. And aren’t we always fond of players who can play multiple positions?

  85. PrinceYuvi
    June 28, 2013

    Ramos has made Pique a beast. I don’t remember watching him defend that well for ages.
    The perks of having a stable defensive pair.
    Xaviesta put on jetpacks in extra time. Also, del bosque substituted Torres with Marvinez, Prandelli must have been pulling his hair in confusion.
    Italy harried alba for 90 minutes but he was also so close to scoring. The timing and pace of his runs into the box… just wonderful & woeful defending. I dont know what to make of him.
    Also, san iker won man of the match award 🙂

    • June 28, 2013

      Alba is a defender, which resolves the complexity for me. If he attacks with excellence but is a liability on defense (as he is), then something has to be adjusted.

      I hate penalty kicks. Keep playing until someone wins.

      • June 28, 2013

        Hahahaha I love penalty kicks as long as my team isn’t involved!

  86. For once, it is the defensive side of Spain, which helped them stay in this match. Casillas, Ramos and Pique. My doubts on Pique are cleared. He just need a decent cb supervisor and he is one of the best.

  87. barca96
    June 28, 2013

    Busi’s penalty kick was really funny. He shoots the ball exactly the way he passes the ball. I wouldn’t mind being the GK defending his penalty kick. I know exactly how he’s going to hit it and which direction.

    That said I really didn’t expect him to come up and take the kick. And to my surprise, he has taken only 1 PK in his life and that was in a friendly and he missed it. Balls!! I wonder who made the decision for him to take. He offered or VdB.

  88. nia
    June 28, 2013

    Cuatro shows Xavi took charge of who was to take penalties after the first 5 went in. He told them who was going to take them and they all scored. Must have been scared to miss with Xavi in charge. Like a BOSS. I like Xavi and he’d make a good coach one day. He has Pep like qualities, true leader.

  89. June 28, 2013

    An MD blogger named Txiki Forero is saying now that Thiago is closer to staying than he was a week ago, that club is in full “please baby please” mode, and has upped its offer to him.

    Have no idea as to the legitimacy of the source, as with anything that isn’t directly from club or player, however.

    Graham Hunter has said that something slowing the United talks is that Mazinho/Thiago is wanting the same Damocles clause that he is using to exit Barça inserted into his United contract.

    Again, Hunter is an excellent, respected journalist, but it ain’t true until it’s true. But it wouldn’t surprise me.

    Essentially, Thiago would be batshit crazy if he left Barça, I don’t care what he is offered by anyone else. I understand his need and ambition. I also understand that to my eyes, he isn’t a finished product, and I think we have the best finishing school around if you’re a midfielder.

    Xavi has one more season (if that) as the regular, guaranteed starter. After that? If Thiago leaves, he would be kicking himself.

    No hate against Thiago, but for people saying that he should be playing more over Xavi, I encourage you to watch Xavi play some more. Even diminished, he exerts a control over a match that Thiago is still learning, and the best place for him to learn to exert that control is a place like Barça, for me. Particularly when you look at how differently the two clubs (us and United) use their wingers.

    You can see the magic in Thiago, for sure. But you can also see how the club wouldn’t be all that stressed in reality about him leaving, with Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, etc, ready to slide over/back when Xavi steps down.

    But I believe that the transfer has become a political, in addition to a sporting question. When Sport or MD run Thiago stories, the bile being spewed against Rosell and the board is unrelenting.

  90. Huckleberry
    June 29, 2013

    Does anybody know the release clause of Sergio Ramos?

    • June 29, 2013

      Haha, don’t even think about it… No way Sergio Ramos would sign for us.

    • Messiah10
      June 29, 2013

      I thought the same thing during the match. “Damn, it’d be nice to have Ramos in our defense”. He is the best CB in the world in my opinion. He has speed, physicality, vision, intelligence, and that desire to fight for the cause. I used to just hate him to hate him because he plays for our eternal rival. However, now, I respect him so much that I wish he’d make the switch. I know it won’t happen, but I would take him over Silva anyway. He & Piqué make a hell of a partnership. Adriana on the left and Dani/Montoya on the right and we’d be ok for a few years until Ramos’s legs gave out.

  91. June 29, 2013

    Watching the Barça/PSG friendly. Afellay, Sergi Roberto, Rafinha and Planas all started.

    It is astounding how much the team deviated from the tactical vision evinced by Vilanova in this match, one that for me points toward a Xavi-less future. Dynamic passing and aggressive running. Valdes was still passing it out of the back, Messi was more 10 like and Busquets was pushed up into a creative role.

    Rafinha being renewed makes me even more comfortable with Thiago leaving if he wants to. That dude is the business. You can also see why Sergi Roberto was promoted. Real talent there. But what happened to Planas? He looked really good in this match, a less-crazy Adriano.

    At some point in the season (I have it all on my DVR) the team began to revert to tika taka cliche. The team that I am watching looked very much like Dortmund or Bayern in the way it attacks and defends. Will be interesting to see when/how things began to go funky. I suspect it will be during Vilanova’s extended absence. And upon his return, with injuries and other stresses, it’s too late to try to re-implement a new system.

    Also worth noting how good Sanchez was as the RW/auxiliary RB.

    I knew I was keeping these past matches for reasons other than I was too lazy to make my compilations.

    • Rami
      June 29, 2013

      I hope you can try to rewatch the first leg of super copa, What did we used to do differently?, And where exactly did things start to go all wrong against RM after that match.

  92. barca96
    June 29, 2013

    Rafinha from what I see is a much more attaching player than Thiago.

    Tito didn’t have to re implement a new system. He just had to what many others were saying, rotation.

    Speaking of PSG, their new home jersey if I haven’t commented on it before, is AWESOME! I envy the clubs that use basic reds and blues instead of maroon and a worn looking blue.

  93. June 29, 2013

    Thiago is hilarious! He Tweeted out a pic of him lounging, feet in a swimming pool, on a mobile phone, with an “I heart Barcelona” caption.

    As well you can imagine, people are wondering what the heck it means. I’m cracking up as a young man trolls a significant part of the football supporter world. United fans are labeling him a c***, predictably. Cules are feeling like that spurned lover whose ex calls up and “wants to talk.”

    • Jim
      June 29, 2013

      Doesn’t really endear him to me other way, though. Enough of this already.
      Go or stay. Go and you’ll regret it, stay and you’re in danger of making a rod for your back with the way you’re treating the club.

        • barca96
          June 30, 2013

          What is he supposed to do or say? He knows that he has a contract so by right he is not obliged to comment on his future.

  94. Momo
    June 29, 2013

    Don’t know what to make of the Thiago instagram post TBH. Could be trying to make peace with the catelonians before leaving, or it could be a genuine sign he’s staying.

    He does seem to refer to the team as barca and the city as barcelona in his past tweets so he could just be talking about the city.

  95. K_legit in Oz
    June 29, 2013

    This Thiago ‘Will he, won’t he’ is just getting bloody annoying now.

  96. barca96
    June 30, 2013

    I find Wenger’s transfer activity to be strange this season. He has always gone for the under the radar type of players but this summer he has signed Higuain, who I think doesn’t suit Arsenal at all and vice versa. After getting Higuain, they’re heavily linked with Rooney and Cavani. Really strange. Neither one of them suits Arsenal imo.

    I hope Villa doesn’t go to Spurs. He just doesn’t suit EPL. If his feet aren’t fast enough for La Liga’s pace, I am afraid he will find it hard to create a chance.

    I hope Dos Santos (Jona) doesn’t go to Anderlecht. It would be a major downgrade. He should just find himself a La Liga club. I’m sure there are many suitors.

    With many of the youngsters rumored to go out on loan, I wonder if they will ever come back. Usually when the players are loaned out, they never come back do they?

    If Thiago indeed does leave, who would you guys like to sing as a young replacement?

    • Jim
      June 30, 2013

      Villa’s feet are plenty fast enough. He’s just not a left winger and no longer has the pace over a distance. Played in the centre with Messi just behind we’d get maybe another two years and a lot of goals out of him. Our only natural goal scorer apart from Messi. We’ve gone about that the wrong way. Messi can play anywhere – Villa can’t and sooner or later we’ll realise that we need a presence in the box, someone who can play with back to goal.

      If he goes to the EPL he will find heaps of space imo.

      Most of the youngsters are no great loss to be honest. They are adequate players who will have decent careers at middle of the road clubs. The annoying thing about Thiago is that his ball skills are absolutely top class but his thinking isn’t. I wouldn’t be signing anyone else at the moment if he goes. Bigger needs than that. I’m still hoping we go back for Marquinhos.

  97. barca96
    June 30, 2013

    I hope Sergio Ramos doesn’t go hack a Messi on Neymar later. And some people want Ramos on our team after all the abuse he has dished out to Messi.

    • Jim
      June 30, 2013

      Not fussy who but I want someone (reasonably tall/ quick) who can play 40 odd games a year with Pique as an established partnership. Then a lot of our defensive ills will disappear. It’ll be even better if Tito sits Dani and Jordi down and explains the old principle of why its a bad idea for both full backs to be up raiding at the same time.

      • June 30, 2013

        Remember what Cruijff said, in that your striker is your first defender. I’d like to see ours start being that again. Spot on about Alba and Alves. That absolutely has to happen. It just isn’t reasonable for such an exploitable tactical deficiency to exist, and not have Vilanova and his technical staff do something about it.

        Teams are attacking Spain in the same way, by the by, as Alba’s channel becomes route one. Time for some adaptation. I think there will be lot of that this season, as well as a lot of hurt feelings in the locker room. Vilanova is going to have to do some manning up as far as dealing with, and making players understand exactly who the coach is.

        I believe that with a full year in charge, we will see the club that we showed every sign of evolving into at the beginning of last season. And with Neymar on the pitch, it will mean either the end of 4-5 defenders on Messi, or free rein for an excellent attacking player who I hope will be up for the job.

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