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. simple_barcafan
    June 21, 2013

    Ironically, the only patient youngster we seem to have is JDS..lol..

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 🙁

      • barca96
        June 22, 2013

        ?!#@#$!

  5. June 22, 2013

    Thiago Silva is INJURY PRONE!
    Have these guys learnt ANYTHING!?

    • G6O
      June 22, 2013

      That is a concern indeed.

  6. 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

        Exactly.

        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.

  7. Jim
    June 22, 2013

    Neyyymarrr ! What a free kick.

    • 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

      • ooga aga
        June 22, 2013

        that won’t fly at FC Barcelona

      • 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.

  8. 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.

    http://es.eurosport.yahoo.com/blogs/ruben-uria/catar%C3%AD-te-v%C3%AD-091315756.html

    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).

  9. 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.

      • Doug
        June 23, 2013

        Sorry – Isco.

        Damn ipad.

      • June 23, 2013

        That. Was. Awesome.

      • Doug
        June 24, 2013

        Lee was very underrated as a midfielder.

  10. TITO
    June 23, 2013

    He will NEVER be equal or better than Iniesta.

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

    • barca96
      June 23, 2013

      Reply to Doug.

  13. 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!”

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

    • June 24, 2013

      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.

  17. nia
    June 23, 2013

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

  18. 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.

  19. 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..

  20. 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.”

    • June 24, 2013

      I guess Figo only exists in my imagination…

      • 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.

  21. 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).

  22. Huckleberry
    June 25, 2013

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

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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…

  27. 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.

  28. alpinegroove
    June 26, 2013

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

  29. 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.

  30. PrinceYuvi
    June 26, 2013

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

  31. 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.

  32. 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!

      • June 27, 2013

        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.

    • June 27, 2013

      Real shame. After the other infamous divers, we have one more now.

      • 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.

      • June 27, 2013

        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.

  33. 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…

      Thisco.

  34. 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.

  35. 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?”

    #sellout

    (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.

  36. 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…

  37. 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.

    • June 27, 2013

      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.

  38. 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.

  39. culegirl3
    June 27, 2013

    What a fail by Pique. SMH

    • Jim
      June 27, 2013

      Probably MOTM on the Spanish side for me.

  40. 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!

  41. 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.

  42. 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?

  43. 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!

  44. June 28, 2013

    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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

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