blitzen awards, the long-awaited year-end edition!

Yes, they are finally here! Just a few end-of-season thoughts from me. Thanks to everyone for sticking around and keeping the discussion interesting!

Crystal Faucet Award For Persistent Tapping Up: Dani Alves, who may have been working on some kind of commision from Sandro Rosell, considering the number of quotes in the media where he urged Neymar to come and play for Barcelona. While he stopped just short of pulling a blaugrana shirt over his head at a public event (for some reason this tends not to go down well), the constant Chinese water torture-like drip-drip-dripping of persuasion into Neymar’s ears must have had some effect on his final decision. I hope Rosell is planning to reward Dani appropriately.

Floats Like A Butterfly, Stings Like A Bee Award: We the faithful have known it for years, but 2013 seems to be the year that Sergio Busquets has finally received the respect he deserves as a player. A certain type of pundit and ignorant fan may still hate on him, but glowing tributes have flowed in from the likes of World Cup-winning Argentine manager Cesar Luis Menotti, VIncent Del Bosque, journalists such as Marti Perarnau, his Bara and La Roja teammates, and even Abdullah Otayf, a Saudi Arabian player who, after scoring a goal against Yemen, lifted his shirt to show off a picture of Busi, his “favourite player”. Respect. Oh, and also? Busi got skills, yo:

Suicidal Tendoncies Award: Xavi has been suffering problems with his Achilles tendons for several years. Xavi still thinks he can play 60+ games a year. Something has to give. Either he is going to suffer a catastrophic setback soon, or his coaches will wise up and start sitting him more often, but he cannot go on like this.

Die With Your Boots On Award: Speaking of which, Puyol. Frankly they are going to have to carry him off the pitch in a casket before he retires, and thank goodness for that! Yes, he has had a couple of very bad seasons with injuries, but people are much too quick to write him off as over the hill. I think he has at least a couple of good seasons left in him. No, he won’t be playing every game, maybe not even every other game, but on his day he is still one of the best CB’s this team has ever had. He may have slowed down, but his game intelligence, experience and leadership on and off the pitch are absolutely vital to the team.

MOTS Award: 1. Andres Iniesta. This entire season, Iniesta has been playing breathtaking football. If you can even still call it football, and not “magic dream-ball” or “unicorn sparkleball”. I have run out of ways to express the beauty of what he does on the pitch. All I know is, I don’t ever want him to stop doing it. 2. Lionel Messi. I don’t always give enough acknowledgement for what Messi contributes to the team, because he is, you know, Messi. But no one can deny that there were many games this season where Messi carried a tired-looking team to victory. His ability to rise above the fatigue and create something out of nothing are unmatched anywhere. Thanks, Leo. 3. Jordi Alba. This was a tough one, as my mind naturally defaults to Busquets as one of the essential players on the team, but I decided to give it to Jordi as I believe he exceeded everyone’s expectations. His link-up play with Iniesta and Cesc in particular has been nothing short of brilliant. If he lacks a little in height, he makes up for it in speed and positioning. Right now I would say he is one of the best LBs in the world.

Lionel Messi Award For Being Lionel Messi: Neymar! Just kidding. Lionel Messi.

Chumbawamba Award (I Get Knocked Down): Number of times Eric Abidal has had cancer: 2. Number of times Eric Abidal has beaten cancer: 2. Same for Tito Vilanova. You can talk about results (or lack of), tactics (or lack of), players (or lack of), and trophies (or lack of) if you want to, but for me the overwhelming narrative of this season will always be the struggle and triumph of these two men, and how the club and the other players also rose to the challenge. Their stories have different endings, as one man is still with the club, and the other is not–but that’s part of the narrative as well.

Bilbo Baggins Award For Unlikely Heroics: It wasn’t the job he was hired for. It certainly wasn’t the job he wanted, at least not in the way it was thrust upon him. But it was the job he stepped up and took, coaching the team while Tito was away in NYC being treated for his cancer. We spent a lot of time on this blog criticising Jordi Roura for his tactical decisions, his lineups, his lack of rotation, but I don’t think any of us can appreciate the pressure of the situation he found himself in. All things considered, I think Roura did the best job he could under the circumstances, and I am grateful to him for getting the team through a difficult time.

Trollhattan Memorial Troll Of The Season Award: Dani Alves, for his constant stream of instagram photos showcasing his “interesting” fashion choices, including such classics as “droopy diaper-pants”, giant cowl-neck sweater, and “hats of many kinds”. Runner-up: Jordi Alba, who fooled us all into thinking he was a cute, mild-mannered quokka, but is actually quite a snappy little rodent when things go against him on the pitch. Take a time out, Jordi.

Match Of The Season Award: This has, to put it mildly, been an inconsistent season. We have seen games where the team has played with gorgeous, effective fluidity (the two league games against Malaga, for example), and games where they…haven’t (Bayern Munich comes to mind). But for sheer balls-to-the-wall craziness and entertainment value, the game of the season has to be Deportivo la Coruna 4:5 FC Barcelona from October 20. No one could say this was a “good” game, exactly, and for a cule it was heart-attack inducing, but it was brilliant to watch and for me a perfect microcosm of this season: sublime, absurd, frustrating, fun. Watch highlights:

Brother, Can You Spare Some Time? Award: 30+ mins in 60% of the games. That’s the (speculated) amount of time that Thiago needed to play to avoid activating that infamous 18M buyout clause. I’m not going to get into a detailed discussion/lamentation of how in the world the club and coaches could have let this happen (as that’s all my twitter TL talks about these days), but no one can really be guaranteed that sort of playing time, not at his age, anyway. If that was the expectation, then it was unrealistic. Having said that, though, I will be immensely pissed off if Thiago does leave simply because the club couldn’t be arsed to assure him that he is, and will be, an important player.

Pintocalypse Now Award: We are so used to laughing at Pinto’s eccentricity and occasional “walkabout” moment that we tend to forget that he is also an extremely good goalkeeper. He was consistently good all season (more consistent than Valdes, IMO), and looked very comfortable filling in for Valdes when he was injured. No one is going to say Pinto is better than Valdes, but we are very lucky to have had such a good Number 2 for several years, and I wanted to give him some recognition. Pinto has one more year left on his contract. If he continues in this form I wonder if the club would consider keeping him on as second (or even third) keeper for even longer?

Golden Gooseberry Award: You know that person who tags along when you’re out with your date, or invites himself over to your house and doesn’t know when to leave even though you keep dropping hints that you *really* need to get back to studying? But you don’t want to ask him to leave because he’s a nice guy and you don’t want to hurt his feelings, but you wish he would just get the hint already and leave so you can be alone with your special someone? That’s JDS.

Sound and Fury Award: Mourinho has left Real Madrid after three seasons, and what is his legacy? A league title, a Copa Del Rey, and a Supercup. A broken dressing-room, a divided club, and a poisonous attitude from “fans” to cherished club icons. And what has he actually contributed to Spanish football in that time? Nothing. Ultimately Mou was “but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more.”

Jeffren Suarez Memorial Cloak Of Invisibility: Marc Bartra, who has gone from being the most talented CB of his class to an unloved bench-rider who only gets rolled out when literally every other option has been exhausted (and confined to a wheelchair). Shockingly, he couldn’t even get minutes when the league was already won and the last few games were just mopping up a few extra points. To his immense credit, Bartra has kept an excellent attitude throughout this season. He never complained, always trained with a smile on his face, and never even looked sulky when sitting in the stands. I really hope Tito was watching his performance at the U21 Euros closely, as he was excellent throughout the competition.

Alexander Hleb Award For Unabashed Mediocrity: Eusebio Sacristan. The Barcelona B team finished a limp 9th in the table, which is better than they deserved after a season marred by poor defending, tactical nonsense, and outright favouritism by the coach. They even finished a place behind RM Castilla. Eusebio has been rewarded for this with yet another contract and will be benching talented players in the 2013/14 season as well. Hlebbed.

Get Thee To A Nunnery Award: The wives & girlfriends of the entire team. Next season can we have a little less babymaking and a little more attention to playing football, please?

Get Thee To A Gunnery Award: Gonzalo Higuain. See what I did there?

Bait & Switch Award: Sandro Rosell. When the news came out that FCB was selling the advertising rights to the shirt, amidst much wailing and gnashing of teeth in these parts, there was at least a glimmer of consolation in that the proposed sponsor–the Qatar Foundation–was a charitable organization with many admirable projects to its name. Two years later we found out that there was an agreement all along that there would be a switch to a commercial sponsor starting in the 2013/14 season. Starting this preseason, Barça shirts will carry the logo of Qatar Airways. “I told you about this. Yes, I did! You just didn’t read the fine print!” Well done, Rosell.

You Made Me Love You (I Didn’t Want To Do It) Award: To all the BFB faithful who have stuck with us all season. This blog has had its up and downs, but it is still one of the best ones out there, and I am grateful to all of you who continue to keep this conversation at a high level. Special thanks to my fellow moderators Isaiah, Kxevin, Levon, Calvin, nzm, Linda, Euler, and Soccer Mom. And a special shout-out to those who read but do not post. Stick around and say hi sometime. Things are going to be quiet around here over the summer, but we will still be here, posting occasionally as things strike our interest.

By blitzen

Canadian, cule, corporate wage slave. Came late to the beautiful game, but fell under FCB's spell in 2006 and never looked back.


  1. Great start to the game. Brazil totally fired up. Arbeloa having a mare already and Torres needs to retire imo.

  2. It’ll take a while but Brazil will tire. 60/40 possession. That’s a lot of chasing. As long as a brazil don’t score another.

  3. Oh he will but what was Arbeloa doing leaving him? Absolute nightmare he’s had since the start.

    1. Seriously! He had a big part in the Pedro almost goal, but that was about it for 45 minutes.

  4. Great first half from Brazil. Come on Spain second half. I’m really enjoying this.

    1. This is the final that I was hoping for. Spain has always played possession, kept the score 0-0 or 0-1 at worst, then waited for the opponent to tire before striking. 2-0 makes things very different.

      Torres has to come off. He has been staggering in his worthlessness. He fell so far, so fast.

    2. Torres is making an effort, besides Mata, the team hasn’t really looked for him,

  5. What strikes me as noteworthy is that many cules are rumbling about having bought Neymar, but if we hadn’t bought him, cules would be rumbling about how we never buy players like that, and oh what a beautiful world it would be if we could.

    He was their most dangerous player in attack. Granted, it’s against Arbeloa, which makes me think that RM is going to be defender shopping this summer or Clasics are going to get nasty. That pass to Fred deserved a much better finish, and that goal (left-footed) was just stupid. Also worth noting the way that he got himself back onside.

    Is he going to be that good for us? He’d better be. The other question is will be he allowed to be that good for us?

    Spain, by the by, is just Barça again. Brazil is playing the same way that Bayern did, with the same effect, that absurd David Luiz clearance notwithstanding.

    1. like you, the thing that stood out to me about that goal was how he jumped back on side. It’s a simple move that our strikers seemed to make extremely complicated to do lately.

    2. That pass definitely should’ve found the back of the net. What a toe poke to get it through the defense. Arbeola has been horrendous, but I don’t think anyone would be amazed by that. He’s by far the weak link on the team. Mata hasn’t been that great either. He had a number of poor passes and attempted crossed in the 1st 20 minutes. It’ll be interesting to see what VDB does to start the half and how quickly he subs and who he subs. Azpilcueta. Nice

  6. Certainly not me. you cant watch this guy and not think he can wreck any defence. Also knows where the goal is. The mind boggles at the prospect of him and Messi.

    Great game though. Just what the World Cup needed . Can’t see Ramos and Arbeloa managing to complete 90 :). But I’m looking for a big half from Iniesta – if he has any energy left

  7. Iker really should’ve had that covered. Can’t help but think VV would’ve handled both of Fred’s goals

  8. Really amazed Brazil haven’t got a yellow card yet. They’ve absolutely hacked Iniesta to death. Pretty poor by the ref.

  9. Rule no. 1 when a player has had a start to the second half like Ramos, keep him away from any set piece of any sort. Remind me why he’s on a short list for player of the tournament?

  10. Why on earth is Ramos taking the penalty? Is that Spain saying ‘we’re not taking this seriously actually…’?

    1. I think the announcer just said it perfectly. If there was a time to play Spain, this was it. Home crowd, lienent ref, Spain just played 120 min in blazing heat, 1 day less rest. It all adds up.

    2. Not sure it hasn’t just highlighted things we already knew about Spain. Torres can’t hack it, Arbeloa’s not an international player and the non Barca players aren’t as good at keeping possession when the press is on.

    3. It also showed Casillas’ drop in form – something Mou might have made a meal out of, but San Iker was pretty mediocre out there.

    1. That’s not the rule. Neymar had a clear goal scoring opportunity. Better as the one he scored…

  11. Not excusing this loss, but if there is a tournament final Spain can afford to lose, it’s this one.

    This win is a huge Morale boost for Brazil NT, it’s fans, and all the citizens who are unhappy with the world cup costs.

    But I still don’t think they have a chance of winning the world cup.

    1. I noticed him slowing down and clutching his right thigh….normally not a good sign

    2. I think they have as good a shot as any team. They still have a year to prepare. Their only problem is that non of their games from now on are competitve, while every other country will be playing qualifying games. I like the way the WC is shaping up though. Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy, maybe France and Holland, and my dark horses Belgium and Japan all have a chance. It just depends on the draw and a lot of luck too. Brazil will def have home advantage that will be a huge boost to their team.

    3. They now have a target on their back, can the handle it? But winning does wonders to the psyche.

    1. Absolutely ridiculous. Ref should’ve stamped it out in the opening 20 min and did nothing about it. He’s had his calves and achilles clipped more times than I care to think. Hopefully he doesnt get injured.

    2. iniesta, although i respect his magic and silky smooth moves, held on to the ball for too long. if you dont want to get fouled pass the ball. sound familiar? many times ini had the ball and had several passing options, he opted for dribbling between three players – hence getting fouled.
      this match displayed a few things.
      -neymar is world class welcome to barca
      -arbeloa is shit (but we already knew that)
      -spain dont have any reliable striker and really need to reevaluate their tactics if they are to even compete for the world cup next year
      -why did torres and mata start this match?
      anyways congrats to brazil…

    1. Looks worse than it is imo. Costly mistakes for all three goals really. Last time I saw it possession stats indicated Spain had more of the ball so Brazil still can’t control a game and I’m really not convinced by their midfield. Problem was Spain don’t have a shape up front. At least we’ll never see Torres in a Spanish shirt again.

    2. I’d say possession stats are not the only way of measuring which team controlled a match. Tactically speaking, Brazil were in control even if they weren’t always in possession of the ball. Not to say they absolutely dominated, but to say they didn’t control the game is wrong.

  12. Pedro’s miss was a huge swing in momentum. Neymar scores right after that and Spain go into halftime down 2-0 instead of 1-1. Pedro has to bury that shot. He should’ve been aware of Luiz in the box and fired it in instead of passing it in. Then Ramos misses a penalty and it’s game over. Those were 2 crucial points in the game where the momentum coulv’e changed.

  13. Xavi is getting so much hate from some fans. Who seriously watched this match and thought they lost because of Xavi? It’s crazy to me how much people think he has declined.

    1. Really? Where, on twitter? Xavi wasn’t even close to the reason Spain lost. Iker was #1 and Arbeloa was #2. Must be EE supporters who don’t want to admit Saint Iker was at fault. Even towards the end when he stopped a shot he should’ve either smothered or tipped out, he lets it rebound off him into the box? Not his best day that’s for sure.

  14. Anyone blaming Xavi is misguided. I do think that the Xavi-dependent system, when the forwards are crap, is flawed and you need to have alternatives. Spain was also dog-tired, and still managed to generate a penalty, and three other excellent scoring chances. The Luiz clearance on Pedro was colossal, easily the play of the match.

    People calling for massive change also have to rethink. Spain needs forwards who can move and create space. Pedro is an ancillary forward. Just as with Barça, he was found out when the other attackers were crap. Villa created more movement and danger.

    Arbeloa was made to look poor by an excellent attacker. He isn’t as bad as this match. Neither was Spain and you know what? Neither was Barça v Bayern. Both teams encountered the perfect storm.

    I wonder if Valdes wouldn’t have been a better choice for this match than Casillas, as an aside.

    That said, I do think that Xavi is in decline, and Thiago should have watched this match, called Rosell and said “When do you want me to show up for training camp?” His skill set would be very useful next season, and I don’t think he would have to beg for playing time. A midfielder who can run with Messi and Neymar as part of a more vertical attack against certain teams would be of immense value.

    And leaving, particularly for United, isn’t going to enhance his WC chances, particularly as Spain play a Barça-rooted system. Shine in that system, and THAT is his best chance for playing in WC14.

  15. This match was exactly how Barca played in Europe, nullified by Bayern and losing convincingly. Lack of rotation by both VDB and Tito has proved to be detrimental as they were easily shut down. Torres and Mata offered nothing. I guess Cesc must till have been injured coz, as much as he’s not my favourite player, he plays well for Spain. No body attacked Alves and Marcelo who are considered ‘weak’ defenders. This match showed that Spain defence is very poor and the over reliance on Barca is becoming too much and Spain/Barca are probably coming to an end, though the latter has Messi and a few more years yet.

    I was sad for the Barca players as they seem to always carry the others but, I was happy to see Ramos fail and Iker just showed that he is a has been and why Mou had benched him. He could have done better on 2 of those goals. Julio Caesar was indeed keeper of the tournament. Arbeloa, well the less said the better. If only Spain had lost earlier in the tournament to give our players a rest. Hope Tito knows how to change it up in the coming season coz everyone HAS figured out how to play Spainalona.

    1. -Ouch a bit harsh on casillas, I thought he looked great for a keeper who hasn’t played in months. Still comfortably better than valdes and reina I would say.

      -Ramos was wonderful all tournament…. until today where he reverted back to the hot headed positional mess that he is with EE. Pique was equally as scattered I would say. Arbeloa was… well there’s no need to go into that….

      -Xavi as much as it pains me to say, is in pretty bad form by his standards. You cant forget however that his consistency in form and fitness from 2008 to 2011 was legendary. One of the greatest of all time for sure, but you can’t help but feel that his days of playing twice a week are well over. Let’s hope Thiago understands that before making a decision.

      -Torres was as dreadful as ever, villa wasn’t much help either. What happened to Soldado? He was very impressive early on, and he combines movement and physicality wonderfully.

    2. -I agree that Ramos was good all tournament but, that penalty miss is what I’m talking about. The whole team was bad and no, an unfit Iker isn’t comfortably better than VV. For some reason, a lot of people don’t see what I see in VV. I think today he should have strated and help the team play from the back, even Graham Hunter thinks so. Iker is a has been just like Torres and all other good players who come to their end. Spain had three chances to score and unfortunately, they didn’t go in.

      -Xavi wasn’t bad at all. If it wasn’t that lump Torres upfront with no movement and taking up space. They needed more mobile player, even Villa would have been better.

      -Am I the only one who thinks Alba is not that good at defending against good teams? VS Italy he was exposed a few times and today a couple of times.

      -How Brazil finished the game without one single caution is beyond me. They were very physical or maybe the Spanish players were a bit soft. Also, David Luis was good today. Was it a one off and should Barca put in an offer for him?

    3. At least Ramos had the kahunas to step up and take the pk. Where was everyone else? Pedro, Xavi(our capitan), Iniesta, Mata, etc. I have a feeling no one was stepping up and Ramos said, “I’ll bury it”. He missed. It happens. It’s still a 3-1 game. It may have given more momentum to Spain, but the way Brazil were playing they were not going to be denied.

    4. Not sure why you think none of the above would want to take it.

      Much more likely that it was a result of Arbeloa’s whining at being missed out of the pks the other night and Xavi was trying to keep harmony or maybe it was the same rational decision making from Ramos that makes him think he is better than Xavi at taking fks, especially from 40 yards out.

    5. Well bottom line is Xavi is the captain out there and it’s his call. If he really didn’t have faith Ramos would make it, why would he let him? I’m not buying that harmony comes to mind in the middle of a match and 3-0 down. More likely that Ramos was confident he would bury it and instantly went to grab the ball. I remember seeing highlights of Paul Breitner a defender from Germany doing it in the ’74 WC when Muller,Uli Hoeneb, Beckenbauer, Jupp Heynckes, etc, on the team. He said at the time that there was a pause from the players because of the pressure of taking it and he went up, grabbed the ball, and buried it. I think Ramos was doing the same. Just my gut instinct.

    6. I was just suggesting possibilities. My own gut instinct is the same as yours but that still doesn’t mean ours didnt want to. Btw, it would be very unusual if Spain didnt have a designated penalty taker before the match started. That’s where I reckon Xavi/ del Bosque might be trying to sooth RM ruffled feathers. Final decision is down to the manager.

      Any way you look at it Ramos was having a horrible time at that point in the match and shouldn’t have been allowed near it. Doesn’t mean to say whoever took it would have scored though. We’ve seen that with Messi.

  16. I just found out that some kids from La Masia are banned from playing any matches by FIFA. One of them is Lee Seung-Woo. Anyone has any updates on this matter? I tried to Google it but the latest news is in March 2013.

    1. Only a few forwards that I’ve seen in my lifetime does get back onside including Messi.

  17. I have a feeling, we are gonna see a lot more of those Samba dance celebrations next season, with Neymar, Alves, Adriano, thiago (if he stays) and Rosell’s agenda to convert FCB into a Futbol club Brasilona. Still, there are more things to look forward to than to dread. Neymar seems like he is going to kill it with us. Now, if we can but sign a defender (I approve of :D) I’ll be very happy with my team’s squad for next season. Visca!

  18. – How did that clearance from Luiz did not go into the net to become an own goal??!! 99.9% will result in an own goal. Messiah, you can’t fault Pedro for this one. He didn’t have the space and time to generate a smash into the goal. A pass into the net was sufficient until Luiz came.

    – It doesn’t matter that Brazil didn’t receive a single yellow card as none of the tackles were persistent and/or warrant a booking.

    – Ramos and Xavi had an argument early in the match. And later on Xavi didn’t seem to agree with Ramos dashing to get the ball and take the penalty. This picture confirmed the little that I saw while Ramos was taking a run up;

    Even though I thought that VdB should’ve assigned a designated FK taker, maybe it was Ramos, I don’t know but Ramos showed great courage by taking it.

    – Why does VdB insist on playing Casillas when he hasn’t even played for 1/2 season? It looks like how the English NT is run. Reputation over form. Doesn’t make sense. For that 1st goal, why did he jump to the ground as if he was jumping into bed instead of going after the ball. Really strange. And for Fred’s 2nd goal, he could’ve easily saved that as he had his hands on to it but his hands were too weak. Mind you, that shot wasn’t hard so he could’ve definitely saved that. It looked more like he tried to touch the ball rather than saving it. I was a GK and there were times when I’m not in it, same thing happens. Fall slowly and with a soft hand. In any case, Casillas has been suspect in all the matches!

    – Mata and Silva always had a heavier touch than their Barca players team mates. Very hard to tiki taka when they in the team. I would like to believe that Soldado and Cesc were injured. Torres is god awful. Even a fat Ronaldo is 10x better than Torres. Not that Villa would’ve done much better but I rate Villa higher though.

    – Navas is one annoying player. I never liked to watch or play with these type of players. Head down and no matter how many defenders there are in front of them, they will still go to the by line and try to cross to the middle where the defenders are already anticipating it or shoot from an impossible angle.

    – Pique needs to stop giving runners so much space and worst of all lunge in.

    – Arbeloa needs to be replaced by Montoya! I was glad that he didn’t get a red for that challenge on Neymar though. It would’ve spoiled the match. And even though Arbeloa was the last man, it wasn’t a sure thing that Neymar could’ve reached to the ball earlier than Casillas as that through ball seemed to be very hard and too fast for Neymar to catch.

    – Busi was immense!! He stopped so many attacks. It breaks my heart that fans and commentators don’t give a fly about him.

    – Why was the Brazilian anthem sang acapella style at the end? It was a hair raising moment. I’ve never seen such a intimidating start to a game besides the Haka (NZ).

    I am actually glad that Brazil won. At least the people have something to cheer about for a couple of months. However this win might make them believe that they’ve already have one hand on the trophy (WC). The Brazilians will demand a WC win now so the pressure on the players might make them crumble.

    And Big Phil needs to figure out the first XI and the subs as he’s been using too many although most of the subs were good if not better. I like that kid Bernard.

    1. “Why was the Brazilian anthem sang acapella style at the end?”

      Earlier in the tournament the commentators noted that FIFA had actually cut the anthem’s length because they thought it took too long for TV. [What an insult to any county, let along the hosts! FIFA must require its officials to mirror Sepp Blatter’s cultural elan.]

      Anyhow, the Brasilenos responded appropriately! It was awesome.

  19. – Many have criticized Xavi, not in this tournament but for the last couple of months now. Even Euler tweeted this a few days ago; Both ESP & Barca need to come to the painful admission that Xavi isn’t the player he once was

    I fail to see major decline in performance from Xavi especially in the just concluded tournament. The only thing that looked different was that he had less touches (offered to receive less) and didn’t run as much (need a stat to confirm both of these) as as before. But both of these are as a result of fatigue I think.

    So if Xavi is not the best CM, then who is it? Pirlo? I would take Xavi over Pirlo any day!!

    – This (Brazil) and the Italy match really felt like the matches Barca played vs Madrid/Bayern. A coach that came with good tactics by playing with 2 with 2 DM’s. And tiki taka based teams needs to find out how to play against physical and fit teams with 2 DM’s.

    And it does help the opposing teams to have every single player playing pressing like it’s a final in their last match of their career

    – I am afraid now that Spain haven’t won a trophy, VdB will stick it up to the haters of double-pivot (including me) and revert to double-pivot. Sigh. As with Barca, 4-3-3 is much better, more fluid, more entertaining but all the players must be fit enough to press. Double-pivot gives them that extra security at the back.

    1. Xavi is declining in stamina. His injuries are catching up to him. He can play at the same level he always does, but he doesn’t have the legs to play every single match of a tournament after a sixty game season. That was the point Euler et al were trying to make. He should have been rested against Nigeria for this match – and after Barcelona crashed out of the Champions league and La Liga was won.

      Also, David Luiz managed to save that goal because the ball bobbled a bit on its way to the goal, bounced up about four five inches, hit him on the shin and went straight up. He didn’t know much about it. If it’d hit his foot, it was going in.

  20. Levon, Thank you so much for that Busquets gif. I love him. So funny to watch.

    – Spain just didnt turn up (like we didnt against Bayern)and Brazil didnt let them too. Torres,Mata and Arbeloa didnt help the cause at all.
    – An inform Casillas would have saved all three of those goals, I think
    – The early goal was a pity and there after Spain couldn’t control the match at all. Inspite of having less possession, it was all about Brazil
    – For all his magic, Iniesta’s final product is often poor. This is why Messi,CR7 and now Neymar they are all stars world wide. Neymar might have even earned a chance at the Balon d’Or, at least a top 5 may be.
    – Ref favouring Brazil. Brazil was always a team excellent in tactical fouls. But yesterday was a shame. Brazil deserved more than a couple of yellows. There was a clear challenge from the back on Iniesta (in the first half) with no cards and immediately after that ref showed a card against a Spain defender for a much weaker foul. Anyways the home crowd might have influenced him Big.
    – Wasnt there a clear hand by Marcelo, immediately after the first goal. for me a definite penalty. and finally when they got one, of all the people Ramos!!! Why Ramos, why.
    – Super man save by David Luiz. How did that ball go out, the most astonishing happening of the whole tournament.

    Having watched, Spain playing Nigeria, Italy and Brazil I want to say that, next season is going to be very tough for us. This midfield was pure Barca and all these teams attacked the midfield. There were signs in all these matches, that teams now know what to do against our possession. All those chances created by Nigeria, Italy and Brazil, were like moments repeating out of Barca big matches, last season. They have all learned from Bayern and even PSG matches.

    Tito has some job. At the same time, there is head ache for our opponents too, with Neymar joining Messi.

    1. Agree with some of this but I’m not sure the ref was any more than just a little lenient on Brazil who were the most physical I can remember but probably due to being totally fired up.
      Not sure if you’re saying Iniesta isn’t a world class player? Surely not.

      It’s hard for Xavi and Iniesta to control a midfield without others contributing when times get tough. Once hey got their act together it seemed to me that it fell down a little because Ramos can’t pass accurately out of defence ( takes the ball too close to the opponent before passing as well ) but also Torres, Mata and Arbelloa can’t play tika Taka at that pace.

      There’ll be a huge difference next season as Xavi and Iniesta will have both Neymar and Messi capable of playing it at pace. I’m looking forward to it, or I would be if we could get a move on with the CB ! Have to say Thiago Silva looked great last night. Haven’t changed my mind on Luiz either. That clearance was a total freak. No blame to Pedro.

    2. Thought I’m happy with Neymar in our ranks for next season, i feel he would be best served with a midfield consisting of either Cesc & Iniesta or Thiago & Iniesta. He seems to be perfectly made/suited for a quick counter-attacking move during transition, which is were i feel him and Messi will be unstoppable given how deadly also Messi is on counters with Argentina.

      Which brings me to Xavi. I’ve noticed that due to his age, he’s game has become too cautious. Unless the team can go back to the high pressing game of years past, the coaching staff need to look at utilizing the speed of Messi, Neymar, Tello, Pedro and Sanchez to our advantage next season.
      Xavi needs to be in games were control through possession is vital while we don’t have a need to go for an all out attack.

      Of course i could be wrong but it’s just my 2 cents..

    3. never my friend, for me Iniesta is only next to Messi.

      Well, we have CB’s accustomed to tiki taka at Barca, but still we struggled in almost all those big games, didnt we.

      What a pity it is that we didnt buy TSilva, directly from Milan.

    4. Still wouldn’t have solved our defensive issues. If you really want to solve it we have to either sacrifice Alves or Alba for a taller full back. You cannot have three tall guys(i am being optimistic here) defending set-pieces.

    5. That handball to Marcelo was a ball to hand case and in any case, it didn’t stop the ball from reaching a Spain player. If his hand magically disappeared it would’ve hit his body anyways. It’s only in La Liga where any kind of hand ball is a penalty. I find it unfair actually.

      I don’t think that the ref was really biased. I couldn’t see a foul where a yellow would’ve been given. The one that you mentioned was Oscar. That was probably the worse of the lot and even then I find a yellow to be harsh.

      Ya that is what I was saying all this while. Iniesta is magic but he lacks the end product and for that he will never be taken into the same bracket as Messi and Ronaldo (who I think is a 2nd or 3rd tier). Messi and Iniesta are clearly leaps and bounds above everyone else. But Iniesta won’t be noticed much as he doesn’t score much.

      Isco on the other hand when he will reach Iniesta’s level, will be more “noticed” by the casual fan all over the world because of his better end product.

    6. iniestas final product, you mean shooting at goal or dribbling into the box? if spain had a real striker it wouldnt fall to iniesta to have to try such things…not his job.

    1. It instantly reminded me of Danielson catching the fly w/chop sticks in Mr. Miagi’s house! However, Busi was even more money b/c he kept the moth alive and freed it!

  21. Am i the only one dead worried about the bayern pre-season friendly?, All of our players that played in the confideration won’t be there, And bayern’s friendlies scores are absurd, One of them is 15-0, Oh god.

    1. This is a bigger concern than just the Bayern match. The team will not get a proper pre-season while most of our competitors are already training…

    2. It’s an old German tradition to start the pre-season with games again amateur teams. That 15-1 was such a game. It’s a meaningless score.

      That said, one definitely has to be afraid of Bayern given how strong they were last year on top of which they have added even more talent.

      if I remember correctly that friendly will not include the players that went to the Brazil for the Confederation Cup though – they will not be back for that. That means Messi will be there but there will be no Spanish internationals, no Dani Alves and no Neymar. Given that there are indeed reasons to be worried.

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