RETRO DIARY: May 20, 1992, as Barça were crowned Kings of Europe

Back when the Champion’s League was still called the European Cup, a thirteen-old boy sits in front of the tv to watch the final between Barcelona and Sampdoria. No, he did not yet own a Barça jersey at that time – having travelled to Indonesia the previous summer, a trip on which his mother had spent a good three years worth of savings, there is no money for such frivolities this year. Besides, his mother hates soccer and can’t stand people watching it, so she has resigned herself to the bedroom, making way for yours truly. Anyway, if the young Barça fan (though not yet a culé) would have written a match diary from his living room couch that evening, it might have turned out something like this:

01

Remember the names, bee-yotch! If we end up winning the first European Cup in the history of our club, these eleven warriors will be the ones who, maybe won’t have gotten the job done, but at least started it. The babes in the woods among you should at least recognize some of the names in the line-up. Zubizarreta is of course our technical director, Laudrup is currently coaching Swansea and doing quite well and Sacristán Eusebio is leading (or ruining, depending to whom you ask) our B team. There is also a certain Josep “Pep” Guardiola on the pitch – his name might ring a bell. Zubi’s predecessor, fellow Basque Txiki Beguiristain, is on the bench, as is Sergio’s dad, Carles Busquets. For some reason I can’t quite explain, Bakero is one of my favorite players of that team.

1a

Think of American love for football, baseball, basketballl combined and you still won’t get close to how passionate my country is about soccer. Holland counts 16 million people, of whom a staggering 1.5 million play at an amateur football club. Who knows how many are watching the final tonight. Of course, for those who had not yet turned on their television set, Johan Cruijff proves an extra incentive. Having left the club of his youth, Ajax, a few seasons ago after falling out with some of its board members, he is steadily turning around the fortunes of Barcelona, the club he had previously left the club he just left for. Tonight he can complete the circle by leading his team to the Holy Grail. Take a deep breath, and…

1b

Kick-off! Playing from right to left, in London’s legendary Wembley stadium, Barça is clad in orange. The Italians are wearing whites shirts and blue shorts.

02

The ball soon finds its way to our opponents’ goalkeeper, a man who goes by the somewhat silly name of Gianluca Pagliuca. Thoroughly removed from my memory is whether or not I actually liked keeper uniforms in the early nineties. Unfortunately I suspect that I did.

03

Hristo Stoichkov, one of the undisputed stars of our team, is never afraid to take on his man. Attilio Lombardo, who later may or may not have admitted to stuffing his shorts with approximately two thousand firecrackers in the minutes before the game, runs across the field to stop him…

04

…which doesn’t go down all that well with the temperamental forward, of whom Cruijff had the following to say: “Before Stoichkov came we had a team of very nice people, but you can’t just have a team of very nice people”. In his first season with the club, a Spanish referee found out all there is to know about Bulgarian niceties, when Hristo stomped on his foot. He was suspended for two months, but still scored fourteen goals.

05

Another integral part of the dream team was Ronald Koeman, whose forward surges and pinpoint passes made him about ten times as much Piquenbauer than Gerard. As it stands, he was already given the quite brilliant nicknames of “snowflake” and “tintin”. It’s a good thing Catalans don’t speak Dutch all that well, for they might have simply translated his last name into the unflattering “cowman”.

06

For all of Fifa’s boneheaded decisions, they do make good ones from time to time.

06a

Changing the rules so that a keeper cannot pick up a ball that is played back to him by a teammate has definitely been a good decision. If you think teams tactics are negative today, imagine defenders and keepers passing the ball back and forth a good 30-40 times per game. This final, however, is not one of those games, as both teams set out to play football.

07

After 10 minutes the score is still nil-nil. Barça are establishing their possession-based game which would define our style for decades to come. The players touch the ball one, maximum two times before passing to a teammate and mostly succeed in avoiding Sampdoria’s press.

08a

It is still early in the game, when Barça receives a free kick not far outside of the penalty area. Our renowned set piece specialist lines up. Known for his killer right foot, Koeman could strike the ball with a caressing finesse or with devastating power. It must be said that he often prefers the latter.

08b

In the man’s own words: “Sometimes I just like to shoot the ball into the wall as hard as possible, especially if I know that I will face them again – later on, they will know how to duck”.

08c

This time around, he by-passes the wall. His shot troubles Pagliuca, but not nearly enough. The whole of Sampdoria breathe a sigh of relief… For now.

09

In minute 17 Sampdoria lets off their first shot but luckily for us, Lombardo aims wide.

10

Stoichkov, who would prefer Lombardo to not shoot the ball at all, gives an all too predictable response: he sends the Italian rolling over the pitch. The referee, honor-bound by an era in football when men were still men and the area from the neck down was fair game to studs up challenges, does not pull out a yellow card.

11

However, Lombardo is not so easily deterred. When Barça fail to clear a corner it is Sampdoria’s number 7 who blasts the ball over.

12

On the other side of the pitch, who other than Hristo Stoichkov tests Pagliuca with an excellent header, an exam the Italian keeper passes with an equally excellent save.

14

And thus the finalists are still bound by a goalless tie at half time. The game has been neither great nor terrible – Barça looked to dominate from the beginning but Sampdoria created two slightly more dangerous chances. Lombardo and Stoichkov have been the main protagonists by far. The Italian star forwards Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Mancini have been pretty quiet, as is (I imagine) the whole of Catalunya, filled with angst over what is to come over the next forty-five minutes. An all too quick look at our trophy cabinet would reveal that Barça has never quite lived up to its status of one of the world’s great clubs. Having been founded ninety-two years ago, we find ourselves in what it is only our third European Cup final, a final that, to make things worse, we have never actually won.

15

Unwilling to let history repeat itself, Barça start the second half determined to score the opener. Striker Julio Salinas wriggles himself free for a shot at goal, and the tone is set.

16

Modern day Catalan foklore has it that Guardiola told Xavi he would one day take over his position as the team’s midfield lynchpin. Upon seeing Iniesta, he added, “and he will retire the both of us”. However, it is this writer’s humble opinion that rather than emulating señores Pep or Xavi, the previous Barcelona player Don Andrés most resembles is Michael Laudrup. Freed from the shackles of playing in the Serie A, the great Dane truly flourished under Cruijff. As elusive as he was elegant, his dribbles and passes were truly a pleasure to the eye. Here he sets up buddy Hristo for yet another…

16b

… chance that goes begging. Barcelona is dominating the game in the beginning of the second half. Is it too early to start dreaming…?

17

Well, if you are you’re in for a rude awakening. Not happy with how things are going, the Italians start kicking us black and azurri. The yellow card stays neatly tucked in the referee’s pocket, and the free kick on the edge of the penalty area leads to nothing.

18

On the other side of the pitch, Sampdoria creates the biggest scoring chance of the match so far. The crowd have their fists raised in anticipation of the goal when Vialli shoots over from close range.

19a

The game is finally opening up. When Sampdoria botch a free kick, Laudrup receives the ball in midfield…

19b

… and releases Stoichkov with a defense splitting pass. The forward is now alone with the keeper…

19c

…who has no hopes of stopping the shot. Time nearly grinds to a halt, as half a second seemingly lasts forever… It’s going in, it’s going in, it…

19d

… bounces of off the post! Laudrup grabs his hair and exhales…

19e

…while the more passionate Bulgarian screams in disgust. Surely there will be more chances to come?

20a

This is turning into a truly spectacular game, an outright celebration of football. Both teams are looking to win this game and the hammer can drop at any given moment. Guardiola, twenty-year old lord and master of the Catalan midfield, looks up and find his passing routes blocked, while a midfielder is closing in on him…

20b

… he turns…

20c

… and turns, 360 degrees. The internet is still an unknown futuristic fantasy, a military experiment. Twenty years later youtube compilation videos will exist of Pep’s understudy Xavi Hernandez performing the same pirouette on bewildered opponents, while the man himself is on the sideline guiding F.C. Barcelona to their third and fourth Champion’s League medals. Today, on May 20, 1992, we simply applaud the brilliance of the move we just witnessed on the football pitch.

21

After sixty-six minutes, Cruijff decides to shake things up a bit. Julio Salinas makes way for Andoni Goikoetxea, one of Barça’s tricky Basque forwards.

22

Vialli breaks through for his second scoring opportunity of the game. Koeman, at times more comfortable creating chances than preventing them, is unable to stop him. Luckily for us, however, the forward aims straight at Zubizarreta. This should be a wake up call for our defense.

23a

But it’s not. Again, Sampdoria break through, and again it is Vialli who finds himself eye to eye with our goalkeeper. This time he tries to beat us with a delicate lob…

23b

… surely it is going in! Half of Catalunya cover their eyes with their hands as they can’t bear to watch. Fans of the club from Genoa wildly jump up and down…

24

Needlessly so. At the pace of an autumn leaf, Vialli’s lob drops ever so gently to the wrong side of the post. For the third time this game, Gianluca failed to put his team ahead. He would not receive a fourth opportunity.

25

Barcelona are rattled. Juan Bakero slows down the tempo with a hard foul on Cerezo and a tussle ensues. Of course Stoichkov is in the mix, too.

26

In the last fifteen minutes of the game, both Vierchovod and Goikoetxea try their luck at goal. Extra time is getting closer by the tick of the clock.

27a

A few minutes before time, Barcelona commit a foul in a dangerous position. The game will be decided by a free kick…

27b

… but Roberto Mancini won’t be the taker!

29

German referee Aron Schmidhuber blows the whistle after 90 minutes and pocket change. The second half has been truly spectacular. Both teams had their chances to win the game, but Gianluca Vialli in particular should prove more successful in kicking himself than in kicking the ball into the net.

30

Night has fallen in London when the teams prepare for extra time. Having lost the European Cup on penalties to Steaua Bucarest six years ago, we definitely want to decide the game in the next thirty minutes. Sampdoria win the coin toss…

31

… and off they go!

32

The first opportunity is for Stoichkov, but he is tightly defended and shoots well wide.

33

Then Manini capitalizes on some dodgy goalkeeper positioning from a corner. Well, he would have had he not headed the ball way over.

34

Both teams continue where they left it after an excellent second half. The winning goal can fall on either side of the pitch. Extra time it may be, but they are playing like there ain’t no tomorrow.

36

After a long spell of possession for Barcelona, left back Juan Carlos sets up José Marí Bakero, but Pagliuca saves…

37

… and one of the 25.000 culés who traveled to London exhales deeply. One out of four European Cup finals make it to extra time and right now, the tension is mounting, as any mistake made can be a fatal one.

38

Fifteen minutes to go, as the first half of the prongation period is finished. The neck-breaking pace of the last sixty minutes are long gone, as tired legs and a more cautious approach have slowed the game down.

39

Around the 120 minute mark, Invernicci fouls Eusebio about five yards outside the box.

40a

Vialli, on the bench after having been taken off some ten minutes earlier, can’t bear to watch. Surely he knows who is going to take the free kick.

40b

Ronald Koeman lines up. It is an indirect free kick, so Juan Bakero takes the first touch, which will allow the defenders an extra half-second to run towards the ball in order to try to block the shot.

40c

Wall? There is no wall… As Koeman is about to unleash hell towards the opposite goal, Pagliuca moves towards the left, anticipating a curler…

40d

… and is completely unable to stop the missile that Snowflake has just launched at him. 1-0 Barcelona!!!!

40e

Scorer of countless free kicks, Koeman is brought to tears by the one he just put in the back of the net…

cruijff goal

…While Cruijff rushes off of the bench in order to instruct his team. “I knew that if my players did not lose their heads, we would hang on to our lead”, he commented after the game.

42

Hanging on to our heads is not something even remotely on culés minds, though…

43

Nor is drawing back into our own half in order to defend the lead on the mind of the team.

43b

And while Sampdoria anxiously tries to make the most of the few remaining minutes…

47

…Barça is content to let time run its course.

48

The game ain’t over til the man in a ridiculous black uniform blows his whistle. And when he does, we have finally done it. Futbol Club Barcelona has secured their first ever European Cup and the players run the pitch in celebration.

50

Visca Barça!!!!!

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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...

244 Comments

  1. barca96
    July 9, 2013

    I hope they agreed to some kind of deal where we have the first option on Oliver Torres.

  2. barca96
    July 9, 2013

    I read yesterday that we are suddenly interested in Aguero. He’s been my favorite non Barca player for 3-4 seasons now. But I think the boat has sailed now especially now that he just recently signed a renewal with City.

    What the club should work their socks off for is to get a defender! We have enough forwards already.

  3. barca96
    July 9, 2013

    Watched an el Clasico from 2005/06. Man, football is far less exciting without Messi. And in that match, my opinion that Zidane is inconsistent and Ronaldinho more of a YouTube player and less useful that Messi still stands although both the elder players were my past favorite.

    Ronnie seemed more bothered to get highlights reel trying flicks 9/10 times and losing the ball as a result. A lot of over hit passes. I can’t believe the kind of critics Messi would get if he played the same way Ronnie did.

    Zidane was just drifting in and out, walking casually about.

    It’s not a knock on those 2 great players. It’s just shows how great Messi is and how incredibly consistent he is. Iniesta and Ronaldo (CR7) too. I’ve been watching football for 18 years now and these 3 super stars have set the bar higher in terms of consistency and efficiency.

    • July 9, 2013

      Wait, and you don’t think that Messi loses the ball a lot? I have been watching last season via DVR and trust me, that isn’t true. And when he lost the ball last season, he didn’t much seem to care. I know. I hate Messi, so I would say that. But still. I don’t think my TV hates Messi.

      Messi and Ronaldinho are very different players. Ronaldinho sets up goals for players like Messi or Eto’o. He was also one of the most exciting players I have ever seen in a Barça shirt. The speed, the strength, the power combined with the otherworldly passing abilities are just absurd.

      Watch the highlights of that 3-goal Clasic in RM’s house, where he was so good that the away crowd gave him a standing ovation. Or that bicycle kick goal vs Villarreal.

      I don’t think that it’s necessary to bring down Ronaldinho to build up Messi. The latter is an immensely talented player, but so is the former. Both will go down in club history.

      People don’t criticize Messi because he is beyond criticism, even if he shouldn’t be. A few of us do, and we are constantly abused for it, which wears down the fortitude of the folks who try to honestly assess the quality of Messi’s play. There was also a time when you couldn’t criticize Ronaldinho. It happens.

      If you want to boil it down to one match, that match wasn’t Zidane’s best. But Zidane was an astounding player. Absolutely astounding. Control vision, passing … amazing.

      Anyhow ….

      • July 9, 2013

        It’s funny you guys should talk about that (awesome, awesome) match. Its review will be up at some point during the summer.

      • Messiah10
        July 9, 2013

        I love both of them equally. Messi has prob taken over in the last 2 years because of his consistency and humble nature. However, Ronnie was the most exciting player I’d seen in quite some time. You never knew what he was going to do. He was Soooo quick. Blinding pace with the ball. He was a physical specimen too. I just wish Ronnie had the desire to stay at the top and not rested on his laurels. He would be considered an all time great if he put in the work. He’s entitled to live his life the way he wants though. Still, one of the greatest “what if’s” ever.
        Zizou is A Great. Period. End of story. Up there with Cruyff, Best, etc. Not even going there.

      • July 9, 2013

        Imo Messi is already the best ever, but Ronnie in his prime was perhaps the most incredible player in the history of the game.

        As for his lack of desire to stay at the top, well, had he been any different he wouldn’t have been the way he was (is), if that makes sense!

      • G6O
        July 9, 2013

        There is a historic correlation between football genius and an overall lazy approach towards training and preparation.

        If anything, Messi is an aberration in that regard.

        Romario was probably the brightest example in recent memory, because he was so open about it.

        http://www.4dfoot.com/2013/05/22/ten-anecdotes-about-romario/

        Also, regarding the comment about Ronnie losing a lot of balls – back in 2005/2006, you could afford to lose that many to a much a greater extent than you can now. It has been just 8 years since then yet the game has changed significantly and I think it is indeed correct that if you could somehow move that version of him forward in time into the present and have him play the same way as he did back then, he would be less effective, because teams would take advantage of those lost balls to an extent they did not back then.

      • Jim
        July 10, 2013

        We obviously differ in our perceptions of the Messi comments on this blog, Kxevin. To me, the flavour of them seems to be that although he does sometimes dribble too much, sometimes doesn’t chase back ( although does quite often, especially when it’s needed) what he provides in exchange weighs much more heavily in the balance. If he wasn’t superhuman he would be criticised more but while he provides as much of our threat as he does it is splitting hairs concentrating on the bits he doesn’t do. Bottom line for me is that with Pedro and Alexis firing blanks he stepped up – yet again.

      • Jim
        July 10, 2013

        With regard to what G60 says about losing balls these days being more important I’d agree wholeheartedly but Ronnie is still the single most naturally talented footballer I have ever seen – by some distance.

        It’s also worth noting that Bayern’s ability to keep the ball isn’t great which is why once their one in a lifetime season is over- which it is- and when others learn how to play them – which they will – I don’t see them dominating in their current setup. Now, Pep may well change that but the hardest thing in the world to do is keep the ball in the opposition’s half on a consistent basis and to gather together a whole team comfortable with that. I’ll start worrying when the opposition keeps the ball for more than 50% of the game. We have two particular problems; putting the non Messi ball into the net ( which hopefully we have in Neymar with Pedro and Alexis on their final chance)) and finding a regular partner for Pique which we haven’t. And that is becoming a real worry for me. This should have been well under way by now but we’re still getting a whole list of names mentioned whereas one should by now be leading. We’re heading into preseason shortly and a CB pairing needs time.

      • July 10, 2013

        “Ronnie is still the single most naturally talented footballer I have ever seen”

        Yes, these were the words I was looking for. Thanks, Jim!

        About our two particular problems:
        1) The way I see it, with the arrival of Neymar, the balance that Pedro and Alexis can give to our front line will become even more important, and their goal-scoring a bit less so.
        2)I think that the names mentioned (Silva, David Luiz, Marquinhos) are complicated targets who, if negotiated for, won’t come cheap and won’t come before the preseason starts. Especially since our coach seems hell-bent on getting Silva, whom PSG only just bought and do not want to sell.

      • G6O
        July 10, 2013

        “Ronnie is still the single most naturally talented footballer I have ever seen”

        ===================================

        I fully agree with that.

        The original Ronaldo was a better dribbler as he had all of the same tricks plus more raw speed and power, and Maradona had the best ball control ever even though a lot of those tricks were not invented at his time, but Ronaldinho’s vision and ability to combine those things together to pull out something completely unexpected were unparalleled.

  4. nia
    July 9, 2013

    We kinda have a tough first six weeks to start the season.

    1…Levante (H)
    2…Malaga (A)
    3…Valencia(A)
    4…Sevilla (H)
    5…Rayo (A)
    6…R.Soc (H)

    10…CLASICO (H)

    full list here:http://t.co/Lkcg9aD7oW

    Hope we’d have bough a defender by then.

  5. nia
    July 9, 2013

    Just saw this on twitter.

    No club has ever won the Liga after playing the first game against Levante #fcblive

    Are we gonna be pessimistic before the season even begins? Or the LFP decided to un-nerve us with that first game? Well rules are meant to be broken just like winning the title after playing Levante first.

    • July 9, 2013

      No club has ever won the Liga after playing the first game against Levante?

      That’s funny. The follow up question should surely be “how many times have M*drid or Barça played their first game against Levante?”…

      • Messiah10
        July 9, 2013

        Ha. Nice!

  6. July 9, 2013

    Meanwhile, Rosell and the board will present their list of reforms tomorrow at an Assembly meeting.

  7. July 9, 2013

    Two things about this
    1) It wasn’t a foul on Eusebio, it was an indirect free kick because he holds the ball. Thus they had to play the free kick before Koeman unleashed it. Otherwise it would not have counted

    2)The rule that they changed that goalie can’t pick the ball up is the best thing ever happened to football, really. Couldn’t imagine football today with this rule.

    Anyway enjoyed reading it.

    • July 9, 2013

      Thanks for clearing that up.

      I always assumed the ref had whistled for the foul before the ball was held. It was quite a messy play and the Sampdoria players were rightly scared of conceding the free kick, lol!

  8. July 9, 2013

    Well, Laporta took down his pants once at the Barcelona airport, right?

    FCB presidency does weird things to a man…

  9. G6O
    July 9, 2013

    BTW, Madrid sold Callejon to Napoli for 9 million…

  10. July 9, 2013

    SPORT reports that Barcelona have reached a personal agreement with Thiago Silva and that they will now try to negotiate with PSG…

    • July 10, 2013

      Remember a day before we sold Villa to Atletico, SPORT had reached an agreement with Manchester United to exchange Thiago and Villa for Rooney. Considering that I would say the news could be fake.

      Even if it’s true there is no way PSG is going to sell him. Is there any reasonable replacement for PSG in his position with his experience available? If yes, then they might think of selling him.

      • Jim
        July 10, 2013

        Liked the Roma directors being caught after a phone call saying they’d def sell Marquinhos for 25m. I live in hope….

  11. July 10, 2013

    A few things worthy of note:

    — One, as noted by Levon above, Sport(and ONLY Sport) claims that an agreement has been reached with Thiago Silva. That doesn’t mean much, as reportedly an agreement has been reached between Thiago Alcantara and Manchester United. Note that MD is reporting no such thing.

    — Two, L’Equipe is reporting that PSG sporting director Leonardo has resigned today. If true, add that to the buzz that Ibrahimovic is wanting to leave and suddenly, the Silva talk doesn’t seem quite so crazy.

    — In a curiously timed bit of “news,” MD claims to have the details of the Neymar deal, via a Brazilian source, that the cost of the Neymar transfer was 17.1m.

    http://translate.google.com/translate?u=www.mundodeportivo.com&langpair=es|en&hl=en&ie=UTF8

    — Also, the meeting is on BarcaTV in Barcelona, if any of you local folks are watching. Board is about to discuss the reform measures that it is seeking.

      • July 10, 2013

        It gets more interesting potentially. Rumor is that Leonardo’s last official acts were to finalize transfers of Cavani to PSG and Thiago Silva to you know where.

        Buckle in for a wacko window, folks.

      • July 10, 2013

        I especially like the idea of Cavani not going to M*drid!

      • July 10, 2013

        Thiago Silva has come out and said that there is no agreement between he and us, gleefully reported by MD, as they rubbed Sport’s face in it.

  12. July 10, 2013

    Interesting conversation on Ronnie, feel like I need to chime in with my 2 cents.

    I don’t want to quibble on semantics. If we are talking about naturally talented footballers, I feel Messi is ahead. Don’t get me wrong, Ronnie was the reason I entered football and I love him. But Messi is simply more naturally talented, in the sense that if footballing ability can be summarized into a simple definition it is about “making the ball go exactly where you want”. Ronnie was more spectacular and made football look like Capoeira. Messi just does the simple stuff, but is simply unstoppable. I’d wager that if Messi WANTED to do the Ronnie stuff, he could, but not th other way around. Messi is a freak of nature, Ronnie was human and wonderfully so. I don’t want to compare them and if I did, I’d side with R10, but if we’re talking just about raw talent, LM10 is naturally more gifted.

    • July 10, 2013

      Permit me to disagree. Ronaldinho did the fun stuff because it was fun. He was an entertainer as well as a spectacular footballer. If you watch him closely, he did as much Xavi-type passing as he did making assists with his butt (yes, he actually did a few of those).

      I rate both equally. Messi tends to get the nod because of goals, but both had the ability to decide matches by themselves. No winner or loser, for me.

      I just wish that Messi wasn’t so businesslike. I know it’s part of his focus and everything, but it was hard not to grin when Ronaldinho tried some crazy pass. You could also see him saying “Wheeee!” as he hit it.

      • July 10, 2013

        Ha! The amazing thing is that even when Messi does stuff that should be outrageously fun he is simply being extremely efficient, like when he chipped the Arsenal keeper just to go around him during our last encounter in the Camp Nou

    • G6O
      July 11, 2013

      One has to distinguish between the whole package and certain areas of the game.

      As I said above, the best dribbler ever was the original Ronaldo, while when it comes to pure ball control the undisputed champion was Maradona. But it was Ronaldinho who wins when it comes to imagination and ability to pull out something crazy. Similarly, if you ask who the best passer ever is, that would be Xavi, and if you ask who the most ruthless finisher the game has ever seen was, Romario would take the crown (note that I am aware that all these players played for us at some point in their career and it’s not just my bias that’s the reason for this list).

      Messi is not the best ever in any of these categories, but he is very near the top in all of them (except for the trickery, but he is doing quite well without that), which is what makes him unique – nobody ever has been so good at so many things. It is also what has allowed him to score so many goals over the last few seasons – people who have been following this site long ago may remember how around 2009 there was a discussion on how if he stops trying to dribble everyone and becomes a threat with his passing, then he would be unplayable. Well, since then he developed that too, and he also improved both his shooting and positioning even further, and that’s how all those spaces and gaps for him to shoot or pass the ball through appear as there are so many options available for him now. He is currently the best dribbler, the best shooter, one of the best passers, and also, although that’s often overlooked, one of the best poachers in the game. Thus the absurd amount of goals.

    • July 11, 2013

      Let me add in. I was an ardent Maradona follower – ever since I was able to watch International quality football in TV, for the first time in 1986, as a 12 year old, when TV came into Indian villages – and since then have seen all these greats described here, great talents as well described by G60. The trickery of R’Dinho, dribbling, vision and ball control of Maradona, passing of Xavi, finishing of Romario and Ronaldo R9, Messi has all this, like an all in one multigym. He may not try to redo or overdo the tricks of Dinho, or the control of Xavi, it looks like if he wish he can(?- I think so). which is what makes him unique – nobody ever has been so good at so many things – the words of G60

      But the main difference friends, from all the above, is CONSISTENCY. One reason why Dinho is not up there among the greatest ever, inspite of all his alien talents. Even Maradona was not this consistent.

      Only one Mathaus was enough to mark Maradona out of most of the game, but we are seeing more than 3 players marking Messi. No player I have seen creates so much fear into an opposition.

      • July 11, 2013

        To say that one Mathaus was enough to mark Maradona out of most games is far fetched. And especially with the kind of tackling they used to have at that time. Had those been allowed now most of these superstars would be sitting at home abruptly ending their career.

        I still don’t understand when people say that Ronnie had more trickery up his sleeves than Maradona.

        Second Maradona was never a forward, he was the classical number 10 who could score and he did those in some of the most testing times. And his free kicks were pretty lethal, was brilliant in air and was brilliant with both feet. The only sad thing was that his head and that destroyed his career.

      • July 11, 2013

        sorry friend, may be it was not well put – I didnt say Mathaus marked out Maradona in most games – I meant he managed to mark out Maradona for most of that game – the 86 WC final, still Deigo managed that through ball for that 3rd goal.

        Quite true, even Maradona himself said he cannot imagine the kind of level he would have reached, if not for drugs.

      • G6O
        July 11, 2013

        Ronaldinho did have more trickery. But a significant part of that was simply the fact that he played 20 years later and had 20 years of street football evolution to build on. There is no footage of Maradona doing ATWs and stuff, but there is no footage of anyone doing that in the 80s. But there is footage of him doing some absolutely mind boggling stuff that is difficult for people to do even today after a lot of practice, so there is no doubt it would have been easy for him to do all of those things

    • July 10, 2013

      Yep. Good move for Deulofeu. Put some hair on his chest, teach him to deal with being knocked on his ass by grownups. He should return to us a much tougher player than if he’d gone to a Liga side.

  13. July 10, 2013

    The latest, coming from COPE, is Thiago to Bayern. 4m per season. No word on a fee for us. Apparently could be presented as soon as tomorrow. Unlike the Sport/MD CrazyTown twins, COPE doesn’t mess around, and have good sources.

    So we’ll see.

    • July 10, 2013

      I would understand moving to Man U, but Munich, really? Pep would break up a triple-winning midfield to give Thiago his much coveted minutes?

    • 86ed
      July 10, 2013

      Very strange, if this should be true. How is Thiago going to play more minutes in that team? Bayern’s midfield and defense is stacked as it is, unless Guardiola plays Martinez in D (as AS seems to suggest).

    • July 10, 2013

      Cadena COPE have good sources? The same Cadena COPE that accused Barcelona players of doping, was sued by the club and ended having to pay a settlement of 200,000 Euros? That Cadena COPE?

      FYI, Cadena COPE is a private, right-wing, anti-Catalan station owned by institutions affiliated with the Catholic Church. I wouldn’t trust their sources as far as I could throw them.

      • July 10, 2013

        Their ownership doesn’t make their newsgathering qualities suspect. Graham Hunter, who knows that scene better that I, says they are legit, even if they are not correct all the time.

        So we will see.

      • July 10, 2013

        No, he said they “they have a reasonable track record”. Except, of course, about the whole doping thing. He also says he doesn’t have any confirmation. That’s hardly a ringing endorsement. This is a station with a proven track record of trying to damage the club. For a journalist you put far too much credence into every rumour that comes around.

        🙄

      • July 10, 2013

        No. You mistake information dissemination for belief, which is as misguided as your denigration of my alleged gullibility.

        Fact of the matter is that the information is out there, and should be presented in the same way that every rumor is presented. My stance on transfer season is clear: Until it ends in someone being presented somewhere, it’s nonsense. But nonsense is a part of transfer season.

        Hunter’s comment that they have a reasonable track record quite clearly implies that unlike other media outlets in Spain, they aren’t hacks, regardless of who owns them. Yes, they paid out on a bad story. So have other legit media outlets. Even journos get screwed by sources. But COPE has been out ahead of the rest of the Spanish press on some stories, if I recall correctly, hence smart people reacting differently than if it was Sport or MD.

        In your rush to discredit any and all rumors, I just don’t think you should be so mean and personal. Call B.S. on the rumors. That’s fine. But don’t assault what you don’t know about me and how I work as a journalist. That isn’t right.

      • Jim
        July 11, 2013

        I think we’re all grown up enough to know that not every rumour will turn out to be true in the end but it is entertaining hearing what is being said in the various outlets and saves me having to search them on my own so I for one am grateful for it. As Kxevin says it is the silly season and we need something to talk about …

        Not sure why being private, right wing, anti Catalan or affiliated with the Catholic Church makes them any less likely to have credible sources. Am I missing something ?

      • CuleToon
        July 11, 2013

        Blitzen’s hit home. Irrespective of the rumor being right or wrong, Cadena COPE has not been seen by many culés as a trustworthy source of news about Barça even before those doping accusations.

        So it doesn’ matter that much if COPE is right or wrong on this particular issue. If they’re right, good for them; but their credibility will not rise by a nanometer in the eyes of many indigenous Barça socis and followers. Because, here, it matters that COPE is not only right-wing, but virtually pro-fascist; it matters that it is actively anti-Catalan; and it matters that it’s owned by the spanish synod (spanish bishop’s assembly), which is one of the most retrograde religious groups in Spain (far from just «being affiliated with the Catholic Church»).

        And what about all these «news» about Pep? He talks to Ney’s dad badmouthing Tito in order to sign Ney? Now he is the culprit of Thiago leaving (for those who care about him leaving)? There are already a lot of comments calling Pep a «traitor» in Sport and, of course EMD; I don’t doubt some of them are real —there are mononeuronal brains everywhere— but how many of them could be fake, part of that long-term campaign to discredit Pep with an eye to future elections?

  14. Gogah
    July 11, 2013

    Hello.
    Cannot wait for the season to begin.
    I am liking all the loan deals we are doing this season. Is Keirrison and Hleb still in our books? I would actually only make 2 more transfers to complete our squad for the upcoming campaign.
    Marquinhos(or)Mangala and
    Roque Santa Cruz.
    Done.

  15. lala10
    July 11, 2013

    What aspects of the game may look at so that we can compare them? Dribbling? Shooting? Vision? Passing? What more can we add to that so we observe better? Who excels more as regards those attributes more than the other?

    Talent wise i think Messi is far ahead of Ronaldinho. What makes Messi seem on par with most footballers is his single mindedness that results in almost all moves designed on achieving the ultimate objective. Thus his moves normally are economic, clinical and to the point. On the other hand guys like Ronnie openly courted our approval by doing some uproductive moves solely for the benefit of entertainment. They court plaudits and he doesn’t. I am certain that if Messi wanted he could do all and sundry but chooses not to. The other thing between them is that Ronnie did whatever he did for two to three years maximum but Messi does his thing almost everytime and because of that regularity we appreciate it less. Just like we dont fully appreciate the full value of our La Liga titles anymore.

    When Ronnie won one of his Ballon D’oR i understand he chuckled and laughed at the thought he was the world’s best since he knew and acknowledged that there was a better player at his club. According to Hunter’s book after Juventus played Barca in the Gamper Trophy Capello immediately wanted to sign Messi. He had never seen a teenager play against grown men like that. At the same time Inter’s Moratti is quoted as saying he had not seen a footballer like that in a long long time. Remember here was a man who had signed a young hugely impressive Ronaldo . So i may be wrong but to me Messi has the far better talent which he hides well.

    • July 11, 2013

      well said.

      In my comment above, I actually wanted to write about that comment of Dinho, but forgot. So thanks for bringing it up.

      If Messi decides to just play solo, I think he can and still win games. But it seems he stopped doing that because at one point all and sundry – even Cruff if I remember right – was telling Messi should learn when to pass rather than just dribble.

      The fact is he routinely does things, which are a once in a life time dream for most footballers out there, and we have become so used to it, we dont value lot of it nowadays.

    • July 11, 2013

      Exactly what I was saying in my comment.
      You hit the nail on the head with the comment on Messi’s moves being more economical and clinical rather than spectacular. In fact those very same moves Messi makes week in week out would be more spectacular if it were less frequent. Also like I said, talent wise I am quite sure there is nothing that Ronnie can do, which Messi can’t. Look at some behind the scenes messi practice sessions and you’ll see what I mean. BUT Nobody, can match the speed on the ball that Messi naturally has and that’s what I was talking about natural innate footballing talent. If you have played football, you know how difficult it is to simply control the ball. Ronnie relied on his trickery, pace and strength. Messi doesn’t even have to go into the trickery zone cos the simple stuff that comes before it gets executed naturally at an astonishing efficiency. I echo Kxevin’s wishes when he asks ‘what if Messi weren’t so business like’. I’d say He’d have brought a lot of joy but our trophy count would certainly have been considerably less.
      Ronnie gave joy and smiles. He thrived on love.
      Messi instills wonder and respect. He doesn’t need really need anything to be himself.
      No point comparing the two.

      • Jim
        July 11, 2013

        But your whole post is a comparison. In matches I’ve not seen Messi do some of the things R10 did. Doesnt mean he couldn’t but it also doesn’t mean anyone can assert that he definitely could as it hasn’t been proven.

        No problem in disagreeing. It’s allowed 🙂

      • lala10
        July 11, 2013

        True true but like the above poster said you would have to go to training to see some of those moves. Ronnie did the truly wonderful just for the sake of it. In Messi’s repertoire those tricks largely don’t have a place. We all love Ronnie because it had been a while yet since we saw a footballer so fine straddle the game in our colurs. And the first drop after a an excrutiating thirst usually tastes the most joyous. No downgrading Ronnie but this kid is so far ahead of these times. Michael Cox once ran a comprehensive analysis of Ronaldo and CR7; not that i think they are in the same league though and his general conclusion was that Messi was a master of his art and THIS SPORT in general. He argued that Messi (if he wanted/ if possible) could play the Iniesta role better than Iniesta, play the Xavi role better than Xavi himself, could play the Pedro role better than Pedro without mentioning his striking feats. Can we put Ronnie in the same category. I love Ronnie; the ever present smile and the artsy tricks but Messi is ahead for me. That’s why Xavi stance that “Comparing Messi with anyone is unfair, on them” resonates pretty well with me.

      • July 11, 2013

        once agains, well said.

        Yeah, I remember that Cox article.

      • Jim
        July 11, 2013

        Sorry but we can all do things in training when it doesn’t matter.

  16. July 11, 2013

    Tito : I want Thiago. It’ll be him or no one.
    Pep : I want Thiago. It’ll be him or no one.
    Tito : Wth Pep, I thought you said you won’t poach Barca players.
    Pep : But you guys don’t want Thiago.
    Tito : Wrong. We want him. Thiago wants out.
    Pep : I want Thiago.
    Tito : I want Thiago.
    Messi : What about Thiago?
    Pep : I think we’re talking about different Thiagos here Tito.
    Tito : Ok, but it’ll be him or no one.
    Pep : Ditto.

    Sorry, went off on a tangent.
    OT: Pep is laying the smack down on Ro$ell.

    • July 11, 2013

      a friend has skyped me to say Pep is hitting out at Barca. Please someone enlighten me.

  17. July 11, 2013

    Well Guardiola has said in a presser that he has asked Bayern to sign Thiago. So yes, I would suspect that if Guardiola is saying it directly, it’s a done deal.

    Seems that COPE wasn’t full of it.

    • July 11, 2013

      He was also pretty firm in his criticism of the board, saying that “even when I was 6000 miles away (in NYC) they couldn’t leave me alone.”

      • Jim
        July 11, 2013

        I’m afraid that everything he says now has to be run through the mill of him being the manager of a rival team.

      • July 11, 2013

        I don’t know about that. Guardiola has always been honest in his dealings with the public.

      • Jim
        July 11, 2013

        Y’see, I’m not even sure about that. I find myself separating his achievements and the joy he brought us from the person who i really didnt know. He seems to be a clever man with very strong opinions. I haven’t seen the piece you quote about his criticism of the board but I didn’t hear him say anything negative as contributing to why he left yet many have speculated that was a part. He told us he was burnt out yet strung us along for the best part of that last season before supposedly making his decision near the end. I’ve never believed that for a minute. I’m afraid hair loss comes to us all, sometimes quite suddenly, and doesn’t leave us looking any better!

        I suppose what I’m saying is that I don’t believe Pep let his guard down much when in charge or since so its difficult to assess but you don’t get many saints at the top of big football clubs. It’s also strange that he wouldn’t touch a Barcelona player as Bayern manager but now it’s okay as Thiago was going to go to Man U. Thiago was offered a huge salary plus exposure at one of Europe’s top teams on TV with a midfield he could have walked into to give him the time and platform he craved for the WC. Yet he seems to be turning it down. Coincidence? Don’t know.

        Maybe I’m just paranoid 🙂

      • James
        July 11, 2013

        He said he wouldn’t sign a Barcelona player. Now he wants Thiago.

        He’s claiming Thiago would get more playing time at Bayern….they have a ton of players at all positions that Thiago would play.

        I don’t have a problem with this…but it’s time we stopped pretending he is this idealistic, mythic type of figure.

      • Huckleberry
        July 11, 2013

        Any source for that?

      • Huckleberry
        July 11, 2013

        I found them.
        I’m curious, if and what Rosell will answer to Peps accusations.

    • false 9
      July 11, 2013

      Pep probably said, he wouldn’t sign a Barca player unless the club wants to sell or the player wants to leave. He did not influence Thiago to leave Barcelona. If there is no offer from Bayern, it is most likely that Thiago will go to Man U. People should not blame Pep. It might be a better opportunity for Thiago learn football from Pep. We can only hope that one day he will return to Barcelona as a better player.

      • James
        July 11, 2013

        I don’t think Thiago would want to leave us for Bayern unless Guardiola convinces him. Pep is absolutely contradicting himself on this particular issue.

        If Bayern weren’t in the picture that’s one less team for us to contend with. Thiago may very well have still gone to United, but our chances of retaining him would have also gone up.

  18. lala10
    July 11, 2013

    When do we say it matters? I don’t know. Guess we will have to disagree amicably as always but did it matter for Ronnie to do stuff that wasn’t productive? Its open to interpretation. Which brings to a Champions League game AC Milan played against Man U when Ronnie was at Milan. A pundit on our local TV had this to say about Ronnie “He will do one or two fancy tricks and that’s it.” I scoffed at him and because he is pro Man U who i detest to a very large degree. The bitterest pill was that what he said was true. Apart from the tricks and one incisive pass that was all about his contribution. Its a bit unfair since Ronnie then was on his decline but i hope it answers MATTERS.

    • July 11, 2013

      Ronnie at Milan or Ronnie at Barça (2004-2006) are two completely different Ronnies.

      • lala10
        July 11, 2013

        True and that’s why i mentioned it’s a bit unfair since he was in decline but the general nature of his tricks being more fancy remains true. On a divergent but related note it’s the nearly the same with CR7’S skills that earn rave reviews. Fancy? Yes. Productive? Mostly No.

      • Jim
        July 11, 2013

        I don’t believe you’re trying to compare R10 at his best to CR7. Gasps !

        Don’t know how this idea of him being non productive has got about. Look at his scoring record. Look at his assists. Look at the number of times his team mates were so busy looking at the quality of his assists that they were too late to do anything about it.

        Btw, None of this is intended to take anything away from Messi of whom I’m one of his biggest admirers. He has already stayed at the top longer than Ronnie.

      • lala10
        July 11, 2013

        No the comparison is not with CR7. Nope in the list of great footballers CR7 doesn’t feature prominently for me. Great goalscorers yes.

        I only brought up CR7 to put into the light things we may crave and applaud as fans but which are not of great use. The whole stadium may erupt over a simple flick or some may say player X is skilful solely based on those great tricks. I don’t dispute Ronni’es greatness. Far from it only that for me Messi’s light shines brighter.

        To return to what wowed us with Ronnie i have this question to ask. Can we cite five outrageous situations where Ronnie did the absolutely unthinkable that resulted in an meaningful end product. Mind you this is not a challenge but a really true quest to know. Would greatly appreciate your efforts.

      • July 11, 2013

        lala10 you are making it very easy:

        Playing a huge part in turning around Rijkaard’s disastrous start to his first season in charge (remember he was injured for much of the first half of the season)

        Assist to Eto’o that led to Arsenal keeper’s ejection in the CL Final.

        Assist to Giuly that resulted in the only goal scored in the semi against Milan of the same campaign.

        Two goals against M*drid that humiliated them in front of their own fans (many of whom stood up to give Ronnie an ovation)

        A maginificent goal against Chelsea that would have put us through in the CL, too.

        A hugely important goal and assist against England to guide Brazil through the knock-out phase of their WC2002

      • G6O
        July 11, 2013

        To return to what wowed us with Ronnie i have this question to ask. Can we cite five outrageous situations where Ronnie did the absolutely unthinkable that resulted in an meaningful end product. Mind you this is not a challenge but a really true quest to know. Would greatly appreciate your efforts.

        =============================

        It depends on how you define “meaningful end product”

        One of his most famous moments of showboating is this one (the defender is Dunga himself, BTW):

        http://youtu.be/E5vfp0mgFL8?t=4m32s

        It ends in a cross that is intercepted, but had his teammates been quicker to get to the ball, it could have been a goal.

        This one did not result in a goal either:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nC2poAO5atQ

        But it did put a teammate in as better a position as possible given the situation.

        This is the back assist Kxevin mentioned above:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XFw_gE9aPo

        This moment we all remember very well:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWEVZA010iE

        And so on

        Anyway, as I said, it depends on what you mean by end product. A lot of his most inventive moments did not result in goals because they were in midfield situations away from goal or his teammates missed. But they did advance the play in a way a more conventional play could not have, and I personally count that as “meaningful end product”

      • G6O
        July 11, 2013

        You simply cannot compare CR7’s tricks with Ronaldinho’s.

        Cristiano will showboat when is a good 5 meters away from a defender and will not advance the play at all by doing so. And it is true showboating – he studied these things from the original Ronaldo and Ronaldinho and tries to copy them. Ronaldinho did tricks in tight spaces that resulted in advantage for his team, and rarely was it showboating for the sake of showing off. Big difference

  19. G6O
    July 11, 2013

    Rafinha to Celta on loan

  20. CuleToon
    July 11, 2013

    I’ve heard Pep’s statement and I can tell you that you cand find a fairly accurate transcription of it in all the major sports papers (Sport, EMD, As, Marca). He’s delivered a hard blow to Rosell & Co.

    This is war. Expect a load of shit coming from the board (indirectly, of course).

    Again, it doesn’ matter that much if COPE is right or wrong on this particular issue. Their credibility will not rise by an iota in the eyes of catalan Barça socis and followers.

  21. barca96
    July 11, 2013

    Ha! I’m glad the talk of Ronnie woke people up 🙂

    Btw once again I’ll say it, I wasn’t trying to knock on the 2 past great players. It’s just that the level of efficiency and consistency has gone way up.

    • G6O
      July 11, 2013

      True, but so have the requirements of the game, as I mentioned above. The general trend in the evolution of the game is that space becomes more and more limited and opportunities become scarcer as players continue to improve physically and teams become better organized.

      This puts an increasing premium on efficiency and making as few mistakes as possible, and penalizes risky play.

      • barca96
        July 11, 2013

        But why is space more limited? Is it because most of the teams employ a tactic whereby the lines between D-M-A are closer to each other hence more compressed? Why was there a shift in tactics?

        Or is this a trend? And it’ll be changed with a new one in recent future?

        Because Total Football was done in the 70’s but then the trend changed into many different styles. So I think every style has a cycle.

        But does the cycle change because of the players available at the current time or is it from one coach’ approach to the game (Pep) that will change the game once again?

      • G6O
        July 11, 2013

        The reduction of space is not really the result of a particular style of play, it’s more the result of improved fitness and generally improved team organization as the game has become more and more professional with time.

        That’s not going to change. Whatever variations in style there are, will develop within the constraints set by those conditions

      • July 11, 2013

        Can’t believe folks are still trying to define and parse genius. I just don’t think you can do it. Both players are, in their own way, stupefying. People will support whatever player they think is most awesome, but having watched both of them from day one, both are remarkable players.

        Messi made some comments today, praising Ronaldinho to the high heavens, and he was spot on. He brought Barça into the modern, global profile age single-handedly.

  22. barca96
    July 11, 2013

    Also, regarding the comment about Ronnie losing a lot of balls – back in 2005/2006, you could afford to lose that many to a much a greater extent than you can now.

    It has been just 8 years since then yet the game has changed significantly and I think it is indeed correct that if you could somehow move that version of him forward in time into the present and have him play the same way as he did back then, he would be less effective, because teams would take advantage of those lost balls to an extent they did not back then.

    I agree that the game has changed and that Ronnie might be less effective. I think he would still be as good as before, I feel that his high risk game would me punished more than before.

    Game is not so high paced as before, it’s more cautious. More patient build up play.

    Euler or anyone. Help me out on this as I am not so into tactics. I just play 🙂

    I rate both equally. Messi tends to get the nod because of goals, but both had the ability to decide matches by themselves. No winner or loser, for me.

    Not for me in regards to the goals. I am a midfielder or a winger (earlier part of my life) so I know exactly how it feels like not to get the limelight after all the hard work done setting up and assisting a goal. Which is why until today, the first player I hi-5 is not the goal scorer, it’s the person who set it up.

    Messi is not the best ever in any of these categories, but he is very near the top in all of them (except for the trickery, but he is doing quite well without that), which is what makes him unique – nobody ever has been so good at so many things….He is currently the best dribbler, the best shooter, one of the best passers, and also, although that’s often overlooked, one of the best poachers in the game. Thus the absurd amount of goals.

    Exactly!! I commented somewhere else on a neutral forum that Messi is a AM (Iniesta), CF (Ronaldo/Falcao), RW and Xavi in ONE. Unbelievable.

    But the main difference friends, from all the above, is CONSISTENCY. One reason why Dinho is not up there among the greatest ever, inspite of all his alien talents. Even Maradona was not this consistent.

    Only one Mathaus was enough to mark Maradona out of most of the game, but we are seeing more than 3 players marking Messi. No player I have seen creates so much fear into an opposition.

    Yes. Yes. Yes. Consistency. I have never seen any player so consistent, delivering in 8/10 games. Amazing.

    In regards to the marking, watching football wasn’t so fun for me when Ronaldo (I was a huge Ronaldo and Zidane fan back then) went to Inter as they double mark him all the time. So Ronaldo was less effective.

    Ronaldo, Iniesta can beat 1 or 2 off the dribble but Messi beat more and doing it at an incredible speed. It’s just breathtaking.

    I miss football. I miss Messi!!

    • July 12, 2013

      True my friend. What people forget is that, of all the greats we discuss here, Messi is the player who does things with the least space around him.

    • July 11, 2013

      Rumenigge has contacted us to state that Bayern will pay Thiago’s buyout fee of 18m, which will become something like 22m when VAT and taxes are added. No negotiation with the club, no messing around.

      There is an unspoken gentlemen’s agreement that big clubs won’t just pay the buyout fee for a player. But that presumably doesn’t include a wantaway player, or a club that the opposing club’s coach thinks is a weasel.

      Thiago wants the deal done before pre-season training starts on Monday. I suspect it will be announced tomorrow.

    • July 12, 2013

      Thank you so much for that link.

      I will believe Pep more than Rossell. It is quite embarassing politics from Rossell.

  23. nia
    July 11, 2013

    And it begins. Pep’s pissed off at Rosell. Wonder why he decided to break his silence now. Shit’s about to hit the fan but then again, the board never really comes out and say anything but just hide like they do in the liga when EE is bullying us.

    • July 11, 2013

      He broke his silence because of those crappy stories that were leaked about Guardiola’s comments about Vilanova and his not being able to integrate Messi and Neymar. The club probably got wind of the talks, which were at an advanced stage by then, and wanted to make Guardiola look bad.

      Guardiola, as with Mourinho, had enough.

      • nia
        July 11, 2013

        Pep also said that Rosell broke his word, maybe I’m slow but, what word was that? Using his name, what??

        Such a shame that the current board is really making a mockery of the best coach Barca has ever had. his is becoming a mess like at the ‘white house’ in the capital last yr.

      • nia
        July 11, 2013

        *^this^

        Besides Thiago going to Bayern, seems odd Bayern buying all these players especially the way their stacked already. Is he really going to get the playing time he needs?

      • CuleToon
        July 11, 2013

        Apparently, Nia, the agreement was this (there’ve been rumors since Pep announced he wouldn’t continue): if Rosell & Co left Pep alone, Pep would not say anything about what he had to withstand during Rosell’s first year. But it looks that Rosell expect/fears that Pep (+Cruyffistas) will confront him at the next election. And I think —and expect— that he’s right.

        I’ve commented before about the ongoing and long-term campaign to discredit Pep through the usual suspects (Mundo Deportivo, RAC-1, etc.). It will be interesting to listen to the next late-night radio sports programs, starting tonight; and more so since, strangely, these last nights RAC-1 has criticized Rosell & Co very hard for Thiago’s clause and Villas’s sale.

        Yes, it’s war time. And it’s been ignited by Rosell & Co, who seem to think this is the right time to start it. So, let’s prepare for some nasty things to come. It’s a pity, really.

      • July 12, 2013

        Looks like what many of us doubted, all looks true.

        Please friend, do update us with the local news.
        Thank you.

      • Jim
        July 11, 2013

        Still hasn’t said anything good about Tito as a coach though has he?

      • July 11, 2013

        He did say that the record-setting Liga speaks for itself, and that he doesn’t need to comment on the quality of Vilanova as a coach. Also cited their long-term friendship, suggesting that any praise would be dismissed as simple nepotism.

      • CuleToon
        July 12, 2013

        Jim, Pep did not, and has not, said publicly anything about anybody during this year. Nothing. Not a word. We don’t know if he congratulated Tito privately for his brilliant League Title. What we do know, though, is that Rosell & Co. media minions have told us several times, in «news» and opinion articles, that Pep did not congratulate Tito (and that he didn’t meet with him in NY, etc.).

        As Kevin says, the first time he’s said publicly anything about Tito was yesterday, when he recognized Tito’s role in the best season of the history of the club.

      • Jim
        July 12, 2013

        Thanks, Culetoon. I’d stress that I like everyone else can only guess at what the situation is. Most analysis is pure conjecture. I see his comments in a slightly different way.

        He was accused of. Saying that Neymar and Messi couldn’t play together. He came out and stated that of course they could.

        He was accused of not rating Tito and came out and said the record speaks for itself. Not the same in my book.

        He stated he would not take Barca players to Bayern out of respect. He was accused of trying to persuade Neymar not to sign for Barca. Admitted that he had met him while Bayern manager but within five minutes realised it wasn’t on. What was the purpose of the meeting in the first place?

        What has he told Thiago regarding playing time? Is he prepared to make him a fixture in the Bayern midfield? That’ll go down well with Bayern’s new CB Martinez who it strikes me has shown a fair amount of talent in breaking up play in front of the defence. I posted earlier that to me there is something not right about this whole Thiago business. Still, we’ll hopefully find out when Thiago speaks. If he says he went to Bayern for a better chance of playing time we’ll know there’s something up. Still, it looks like he’s tried to persuade two of our number to go to Bayern already and he’s hardly in the door.

        He was accused of not keeping in touch with Tito while in NY. He replied he had seen him once. How many times and for how long was Tito, one of his close friends, there? Now it’s entirely possible that he asked and Tito wasnt up to it. However, if that were the case how easy is it to answer the doubters by saying exactly that. His reply was very carefully phrased as indeed most of his comments have been.

        Not saying this in any sense as a Pep hater. He helped to give me my most enjoyable time following a football club. Just adding a slightly different take to the constant Rosell hating that goes on at times by pointing out that we shouldn’t just accept at face value what Pep says either without running it through the mill of common sense.

      • Jim
        July 12, 2013

        None of the (hopefully) above means I would trust a word Rosell says, btw. 🙂

  24. Dani_el
    July 11, 2013

    This translation of mine came a little late, but here it is anyways:

    “Last year I ended my work in Barça, I went away 6000km and I asked the president and his board to leave me be, and they couldn’t do it and they broke their promise. It was me who decided to go, I ended a stage of my life (period in my life) and I left. I told them to do their job, to be happy because of the players that they have, that I wished them success because we’re talking about a club that is very special to me, there’s no need for me to say it. But there have been many things that crossed the line. I will never forget that they used Tito Vilanova’s sickness last year to hurt me. Because I saw Tito in NY and if I didn’t see more of him it was because it wasn’t possible, but on my part. And to state that I don’t wish well a colleague, who was by my side for so much time, it’s in bad taste (low) and I didn’t expect it. I did my best in Barça. The decision of leaving was mine, and mine alone. I don’t have anything to rub it in to anyone, I simply asked them to let me live my life. I went away with my family to try and learn English, and I ended up learning german.
    I want them to leave me be, they should stop using my friendships to hurt me. If I want to have dinner with Johan Cruyff, I will have dinner with Johan Cruyff. I do not owe anyone anything. I wish they would devote themselves (dedicate) to do what they do best. We will hug if we see each other in the Audi Cup, and I sure hope that Barca does well, but there are things that I will never forget. The news about the President of Santos is bullshit (chorrada), but there are other things that they didn’t have to do (referring to Barça’s directive). I wish they let me be and let me enjoy myself, and if from all these things I have said today, there is one that is not true, they should go out and disprove me, but they should do it themselves, not by using middlemen (MD, Sport I figure). They should go out and disprove what I just have said. Then we’ll talk some more (to the press). Until then, they should let me enjoy myself and build a team.” Pep Guardiola.

      • CuleToon
        July 12, 2013

        Don’t worry, I did the same. I spent half an hour to translate it, and when I came to post it I saw Kxevin’s link. Then, seeing how good a translation it is, I decided for a silent retreat.

      • Dani_el
        July 12, 2013

        I should have looked up there before posting and do the same 🙂

  25. July 11, 2013

    It is amazing, the levels to which a human or group, can stoop down to, once they have abandoned all dignity and conscience.

    We have always known Rosell is in fact, just a weasel. But I didn’t know he was a stupid weasel. Because it takes stupidity to discredit achievements that are fresh in people’s memory. And because it takes stupidity to take on a Pep and do so in such lame ways. How it all comes crashing down. We have enjoyed a period when the whole club – from all its staff, to the board, to the players and fans were so tight knit and we prided ourselves in our unity and sniggered at the chaotic circus in the capital.
    Welcome to the Barca Drama I guess.
    Rosell’s relentless pursuit to write his own personal history and leave his imprint on the club has always annoyed me. He is no different from the politicians in my country. I am not even implying that Pep is the saint angel and Rosell is the devil. But at least I know that Pep’s words and actions will always have the club’s best interest and love at heart. And it’s the club that I love. This shit storm doesn’t change anything. Never has.

  26. TITO
    July 11, 2013

    It looks like is going to be a long long summer.

  27. 86ed
    July 11, 2013

    Well at least Guardiola will bring the best out of Thiago, more than Villanova was able to do (or more than he was willing to do?).
    This current board though… oi, what a mess.

  28. Rami
    July 11, 2013

    He’s first signing after leaving barca, Is signing a barca player, wow.
    Lost what ever respect i had for him, Not that their was much to begin with.

    • July 11, 2013

      You didn’t have much respect for Guardiola to begin with? Pray do tell…

    • July 12, 2013

      With so many midfielders there, Bayern would not have paid 90million for Thiago. 18 million is nothing for them. And even Thiago, he must be only happy to play under Pep, even if it means few minutes less. This is the man who brought out the best of youth from La Masia, who made Busquets and Pedro the ones, now we are proud about.

      For me, it is too much to blame Pep for this. They tried for Thiago only after the news that Thiago is looking out. Its not Pep’s or Bayerns problem. Its a Barca problem.

  29. July 12, 2013

    On another note, I must say Thiago is a confused guy.
    If his actual motivation to leave Barca was to get minutes, limelight and the ideal platform, then a starting berth in the world’s most famous club is a no brainer compared to pushing for a spot in a stacked midfield of the European champions even if your favorite coach is calling the shots there.
    Thiago could have been a real star in England, for United. I am actually looking forward to Isco getting called for the WC. Thiago would do well to realize that if it’s visibility he wants, he is already in the best place. The next best option if not the better one would have been Manchester.

  30. lala10
    July 12, 2013

    The mods; can we please have a comprehensive article on Rosell and his circus. Would greatly warm the house. Cule Toon we await your updates.

  31. CuleToon
    July 12, 2013

    lala10,

    At the risk of being «Hectored», I’ll try to sum up the reaction of Rosell & Co media minions, and I think it will suffice to quote, and analyze a little, today’s leading article of Santi Nolla, editor in chief of El Mundo Deportivo.

    Nolla states his aim right in the title and in the first two lines. The Title: «Guardiola is an adversary». And in the first two lines, in a move easily recognizable by any PR-marketing professional, he associates the word «Guardiola» with «adversary», «enemy», «rival», «adversary» again, and «in front of». In just TWO lines.

    And then, after reminding us that Pep wanted to sign Neymar (just like that, without any clarification), he reveals us the awful truth:

    Last summer, before leaving, Pep colluded with Bayern, Thiago and Pep’s brother, who is Thiago’s manager (and with Thiago’s father, I suppose), with the aim of lowering Thiago’s clause to 18 mill. conditional on a number of minutes played, and then bring him to Bayern a year later. Hop! Just like that. Nothing more. Does anyone miss someone inside the club with enough power to prevent Thiago from playing that number of minutes? Does anybody miss anything for this plot to work? Apparently, Santi does not.

    Then, after that shocking revelation, he goes on to portrait Pep as a modern Machiavelli that, with the excuse of answering a trifle statement about him badmouthing Tito, tries to play down his real scheme of bringing Thiago to Bayern with the «smoke curtain» of an unnecessary and unjustifiable «attack on the board». Better said, his attack is justified: Pep has «some scores to settle» even if it means to «tangle Barça environment», because he wants to «leave some doors open for the future».

    He also confirms that, since Pep left, «Barça didn’t say anything against him» (Freixa, anyone?) and, of course, he doesn’t say a word about EMD’s and Godó media group’s role as Rosell & Co’s telltales in all this affair.

    That’s how things are.

    By the way, it doesn’t take a degree in linguistics or text analysis to see that, in a pure Samsung’s style, the comments sections about this news on all major papers —sports or general— are being flooded with attacks on Pep by some team of «commenters».

    Being an old soci, I’m sorry to tell you that my experience with things Barça paints a rather pessimistic panorama. In these more or less overt civil war between these two irreconcilable factions that’s been going on for almost 50 years, the only losers have been we Barça socis and followers. We’ll just have to wait.

    And it will not be an easy wait because the signs of Rosell & Co. calling for an early election are clearer by the day: They want to avoid Pep on the next election at all costs, and Pep has signed a three-year contract with Bayern which ends just at the end of Rosell’s term. Pep is at Bayern not only as a manager: he’s learning how to run a modern, thriving club, putting it in the hands of people who love the club, mostly ex-players.

    That’s my only hope.

    • Huckleberry
      July 12, 2013

      Interesting insights! Can you update us about the “two irreconcilable factions that’s been going on for almost 50 years”, and the position or change of position of Rosell in that (since he first was in the crew of Laporta).

      • CuleToon
        July 12, 2013

        Huckleberry,

        Please understand that I don’t wish to bother anyone here with long responses that I’ve posted before. You can find some info in this comment and the next in the same post.

        http://www.barcelonafootballblog.com/20271/bara-4-mlaga-1-twentytwo-beats/#comment-153302

        You can find more info on that «long civil war» in some of my comments to other posts, specially in «Humanity, love and a club, aka “The burden of expectations”» of june 8.

        And, yes: Rosell and many of his mates were in Laporta’s crew. But the alliance lasted less than a year after they got to power. Remember that Rosell, then sports VP, wanted to sack Rikjaard after only six months to bring Scolari in (who, by the way, I think will end up substituting Tito; «mark my words!»), and that the majority of the board, undoubtedly adviced by Cruyff (no secrets here!), didn’t accept his proposal. That was the beginning of the end.

        Was Rosell kind of a trojan horse in Laporta’s board as some say here? I think not. I just think that he left full of resentment: well no, that’s a fact! So, he left full of resentment, and the nuñista faction that had been expelled from Barça after near 30 years, capitalized this resentment and converted him to their cause. After all, Rosell is as power-hungry as anyone at those levels.

    • lala10
      July 12, 2013

      thanks for the update. Tallies with what you have been giving us all along. One can’t help but feel discouraged by all this when we had the biggest opportunity as a club to build on this strong foundation. Alas we try to rip it up and give our rivals the impetus that really should have seen us going ahead. I think that’s what it means being a cule; the pleasure and pain more if you are a local one. Again thank you

      • CuleToon
        July 12, 2013

        Yes, lala10, that’s the harsh reality for many Barça people here. But not all. Clearly, Rosell is where he is because he won with a vast majority of votes. That’s what is discouraging, really; but it’s not different than in other walks of public life, isn’t it?

        You know? What is coming will be much harder for young Barça people, those that have grown accustomed to those glorious days. We, the veterans, had to wait 14 years —and twice!— to win just a league, and didn’t touch a Champions until 1992. So, frankly, we didn’t even dream of living such an era. But we’ve lived it. The pity is that, if history repeats itself as some say, veterans do not have much hope of living another!

        Now, seriously, it will all depend on the results. If Barça keeps on winning a minimum, Rosell & Co. will have their way and, as Kxevin says, we will end up with a «Nou Qatar Camp» and/or whatever they have in mind.

        One thing’s for certain though. «We» Barça people are not the ones that rip our club up. We just take sides because they’re there. And then we vote.

        Oh, and about Qatar. I’ve heard now on Catalunya Radio that Al Jazeera is purchasing the rights to La Liga matches. Things get more interesting every day!

      • lala10
        July 12, 2013

        The we was meant for the Board. Not us fans. I guess we will have to live with it. As you say the club had some particularly difficult years in the past. But success is sweet and for that reason that’s why we wouldn’t want it to end. But if the success were to end i had be happier if it were because of the natural cyclical vagaries of our sport and not because some Board was not mindful enough to tend the beautiful garden we had because of personal and personality differences. It happens and we can only hope our hearts won’t bleed too much for the club that we all cules love.

  32. ilie
    July 12, 2013

    Apparently Marquinhos didn’t go with the rest of the team, which means he’s on the move, either us or PSG, in place of Thiago Silva. Some rumors about PSG keeping both, but I find that hard to believe.

    I’d be fine with either, quality players

  33. Barcaleya
    July 12, 2013

    Brilliant post, Lev!

    I felt the excitement of the match as if I was watching it in real time without knowing the outcome yet 🙂

    Thanks!

    • July 12, 2013

      Thank you for your compliment!!

  34. July 12, 2013

    A lot of things that are going on which I don’t understand.

    1. Why would media (and especially if they are controlled by Rosell) say that Pep didn’t meet with Tito in NYC when we have all seen pictures of them together in Manhattan, published in EMD and SPORT?

    2. Why did a Santos spokesperson claim that Pep badmouthed Tito, and even more so why would Rosell’s crew ask him to do so?

    I am asking these things, because in the interest of survival, what does Rosell think he can gain by picking a fight with a figure many people see as the living embodiment of everything that Barça stands for, both in football, human values and catalanismo?

    Really, why would Rosell do that?

    ….

    Also, why, as a culé, would Pep want Thiago to succeed anywhere else than in Barça? The fact that his brother is Thiago’s agent does not sit well with me either. It is his right to get any player he wants and it is Barça’s own fault for not meeting the 60% in the clause, but I still find it hard to believe that Pep is luring the jewel of our academy to Munich.

    ….

    I’m not saying this to defend the board or to attack Pep – not at all actually. I wish Pep were still with us and it is really hard for me to believe that Pep would want to harm Barcelona (for the record, I don’t believe he does) but these questions wondering round my groggy head this morning…

    • CuleToon
      July 12, 2013

      Not a direct answer to your questions, Levon, but I came here to post a comment and it, in a way, answers yout first one: Why would EMD and SPORT say that? Well, I dont know (although I think I do know if you’ve read my earlier comments), but the fact is that (and that was my comment):

      Christian Pulina, a columnist at EuroSport, writes in his blog that, just in the last 3 months, Sport and El Mundo Deportivo have published at least 18 pieces with gibes or more than gibes against Guardiola («and if we count those against Cruyff and Laporta», he writes, «the number is more than 30», just on those two papers). Here’s the link to his blog entry with links for those 18 pieces (only for those who can read Spanish):

      http://pulinacristian.blogspot.com.es/2013/07/de-que-ataques-se-queja-pep-de-estos.html

      And, no, this is not a «good guys»/«bad guys» story. No one is perfect: we all pee and shit. But let’s have some memory and, apart from what’s been said about yesterday, let’s remember some things Pep had to withstand alone, by himself, during Rosell’s first year, without Rosell & Co. saying nothing: the accusation of doping (how did it end?), the bullying by Mou, the eye gouging, Pepe stepping on Messi’s hand, the blatant robbery of RM’s last league wich was only comparable to those of Franco’s era. All of this apart from the Qatar deal, the sneaky deal with the Boixos Nois (the violent-radical group that Laporta banned from the stadium) and whatever I, like anyone else, have forgotten and don’t remember right now.

      • July 12, 2013

        Yes, I did read your comments above (actually I always do, and with great interest)…

        I perfectly understand the reason why, as in, they could very well be afraid of Pep/Laporta/Cruijff come election time, but I don’t understand WHY, as in, it is very hard for me to see how risking a public fued with Pep Guardiola will help their cause.

      • CuleToon
        July 12, 2013

        It’ll help their cause because of the power of these media on the bulk of the voting socis. They started months ago a long-term strategy to discredit Guardiola, to wear out his image, his prestige, his history at Barça (and out history at that). Let’s remember the campaign they launched against Laporta: it was relentless.

        Sure you’ve seen how many commenters in Sport or EMD are calling Pep a «traitor»; I have no doubt that many of them are Samsumg-style commenters, but I’m also sure that a lot of them are legit. We’ve seen some people doubting Pep even here, at BFB. They have all the right to do so, of course. But most of them wouldn’t have thought of it just some weeks ago; and now they do. The message is reaching some minds already. It’s pure PR.

    • Nik
      July 12, 2013

      …but I still find it hard to believe that Pep is luring the jewel of our academy to Munich.

      Why is it wrong for Pep to want to sign a player who wants to leave his current club (in this case Barça)? He obviously values Thiago quite a bit, and I can’t blame him for throwing his hat in the ring to sign Thiago when Thiago obviously is considering an exit from Barça.

      And sadly, while you and I may consider Thiago to be the jewel of our academy, I get the feeling that the board, Tito, and many cules don’t.

      • July 12, 2013

        Well, for one, the fact that his brother is the players’ agent does not paint well. Morally there might not be anything wrong, but sentimentally it is a hard pill to swallow.

        Still, let me reiterate, that the fault for Thiago leaving lies more with Barça than with the coach who wants him.

        May I also remind you that Thiago compares nicely to a young Xavi and also to young Iniesta, the latter of whom got his first start I believe at the age of 23…

    • Huckleberry
      July 12, 2013

      I read at Barcastuff that a buyout clause can only be activated by a payer and because of that, the player has to earn the money first and pay taxes. So if the taxes on income are – let’s say – 25%, the total “transfer fee” would not be 39 but 52 million… Can anybody confirm this?

  35. Dani_el
    July 12, 2013

    About Culetoon posting the link of a blog where it sums up the catalan newspapers negative campaign about Pep. Thank you for that! I’ve read Pulina for quite some time now. He used to write for Yahoo Eurosport. He denounced the smearing campaign to trash Pep ran by MD and Sport. Writers such as Vehils, Casanovas, De Rozas, Battle (from Sport) and Aguilar, Nolla Racionero, Minguella (from MD) helped ran this smearing campaign. Here are some of the quotes (roughly translated) from the article from Cristian Pulina that Culetoon shared with us:

    Vehils: “Surprisingly Pep didn’t mentioned Heynckes, just like he didn’t congratúlate Tito.”
    “Pep will count on Estiarte’s advice. That’s Pep, always loyal to his friends. Oddly enough he didn’t even once mentioned his friend and mentor Johan Cruyff.”
    “Pep decided to leave Barça and enjoy a sabbatical year. Now Tito is left to do all the dirty work Pep didn’t want to do. “
    “Mourinho is not comparable to Guardiola but he acts just like him. One day he visits London, the other criticizes his club, the next day he praises Florentino…”
    “Guardiola is a peculiar, shy, selfish, indecisive and obsessive character. Anti-Guardiola people, and there are many of them, wish him to fail in Germany. There are many socis and fans, some of them pretty well known, that can’t stand Pep.”
    “If Pep is a true cule, and if he’s such a friend of Tito, why hasn’t he offered himself to replace him? (…) It is true that Guardiola left the club, and we will never have a coach like him, but he left some open wounds.”

    Casanova: “Tito had the courage to deal with a difficult situation that Guardiola left for him when he decided to leave the club, even if dealing with said situation, cost Tito a lasting friendship with Pep.”

    De Rozas: “I’m sorry but although according to Pep there’s only two ways to leave Barça, that you get fired or that you want to go, there’s always a way to create yourself a good offer outside the club. Some can pull this off (such as Pep), some can’t (such as Valdes).
    Pulina about this article: “As I wrote back then, there’s many ways to be forced out, and Pep was forced out. About Valdes, it’s strange that the club made it easier for Villa to leave (and he cost us 40M) and they made it hard for Valdes. Does anyone care to explain why?

    Francesc Aguilar: “We should congratúlate Pep and wish him good luck in Munich, as he should have done the same to Tito when he won La Liga. July the 24th he will have an opportunity to do it in Munich, as the friends they were before. “

    Santi Nolla: “We could envy the fact that Guardiola signed for 3 years with Bayern. To Barça, with Laporta and Rosell, he only gave them 1+1 contracts. He told us then, that it was the best method. “
    Pulina about this article: “Nolla lies, because with Laporta Guardiola signed a contract for 2 years, and there could have been more if there weren’t elections in 2010”.
    “Pep was probably busy with Bayern, who today will play the CL Final, but he hasn’t congratulate Tito for La Liga. It’s not too hard to show joy for the victory of someone that has been next to Guardiola for so many glorious years. It was already pretty odd that Pep didn’t visit Tito in New York. (Nolla again Lies because Guardiola did visit Tito in NY, and Pep himself told the press yesterday that it wasn’t because of him that they didn’t see each other more).”
    Racionero: “Guardiola started this mess (disaster), he tried to say he didn’t of course, by kicking out Toure (he decided to go, he wasn’t kicked out), by not replacing Marquez, and by spending more that 65 million euros to sign Ibra, who he didn’t know how to make him useful to the team. “
    Pulina about this article: “The disaster was so awful that after that decision Barça only won LaLiga, Champions League, and made it to the CdR finals.

    Minguella: “Pep said that “a player only leaves Barça when he’s kicked out or he doesn’t play enough”. Some years ago Pep decided to leave Barça while being a first starter. “
    Pulina about this article: “Guardiola was playing less and less because of injuries, and because Xavi making it to the first team. Miguella also lies.”

    • CuleToon
      July 12, 2013

      Yes, thank you, Dani_el. I was too occupied/lazy to do it myself!

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