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

yoda

 

“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...

275 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

      • Jim
        June 29, 2013

        *either

      • 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.

  4. 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.

  5. K_legit in Oz
    June 29, 2013

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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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