Bayern Munich 2, Barça 0, aka “The return of a class favorite … Kari!”

"Adriano! Squirrel!"
“Adriano! Squirrel!”

This, even though it appears under my name, is a minute-by-minute rundown from Kari, who many of you no doubt remember as a journalistic delight and breath of fresh air. So suffice it to say, when she banged out this piece and offered it to me, I said “Yes” faster than Adriano hopping on the injury cart. So heeeere’s Kari! (@officialkari on Twitter)

FCB v FCB – a running diary

I only have my laptop and a lot of free time right now, so I’m going to amuse myself by writing a really crappy min-by-min.

12:25 pm: The game is on my TV so I get to hear the GOLTV Canada dude go on about the obvious narrative here. For my sanity’s sake, I just won’t talk about it until I have to.

Our starting eleven consists of: Pinto – Montoya, Bartra, Mascherano, Adriano – Song, JDS, Sergi Roberto – Alexis, Messi, Tello.

I don’t understand why anyone would panic seeing a lineup like that. Messi is there and he counts as twenty extra players. The general consensus (though I’m not on Twitter so I wouldn’t know) seems to be that this will be very painful, though; Adriano’s hamstring twinges in solidarity.

12:27 pm: As I type that a slow-mo of Thiago laughing shows up on my TV. It’s going to be a long day.
He’s in the starting eleven for Bayern along with Neuer, Alaba, Dante, Somebody Boateng, Rafinha, Kroos, Lahm, Muller, Ribery and Robben.

I’ll probably have to do some retrospective editing once I find out who that somebody is. Everything is harder when you can’t get your starting eleven online. How did old school journalists manage?

12:31pm: Barça is coming out with the senyera kit. It’s so good the pre-match commentator actually ditches his professional stance and gives his personal opinion: it’s better than the neon kits that look like they were on fire.

Good to know.

12:33 pm: It’s all fun and games in the tunnel, with everyone hugging and laughing. If this were a movie, the camera would cut away right about now to the bloodbath that will probably occur on the pitch, with Javi Martinez snarling at everything that moves and Sergi Roberto aggressively pouting at the referee.

12: 34 pm: Dante’s afro is a thing of wonder.

12:35 pm: The referee is listed as Dr. Felix Brych. Doctor Felix Brych. We’ve got an overachiever in the stadium, guys.


30 seconds in: Messi drives forward and curls a shot that misses the far post. This match has officially started better than any of our last preseason games.


2 min: Thiago dispossess Alexis of the ball and starts a move going forward that ends in a Pinto save. Don’t quote me on that, though, I’m having troubling seeing through my pool of tears.

4 min: Dante miscontrols and lets Messi in, which is pretty exciting, except Tello doesn’t do anything when Messi passes to him. In the resulting counter Ribery clips the ball over Montoya* and crosses to Robben at the far post. Anyone who knows Robben and doesn’t buy into the redemption narrative knows how that ends [SPOILER ALERT – in a bottled attempted at a goal]. “That was a close one!” breathes the commentator. It was, but it was also Robben so it really wasn’t.

*He was kind of owned there, to be honest. Like how Arbeloa gets owned every game, which is really saying something, given the level of ownage Arbeloa brings to the table on any given day. He’ll still make the national team, though, so no sweat off your back, Monty.

5 min: Camera pans to Pep for the first time. He’s standing magnificently in a white shirt and pants, which disappoints all the fashionistas, or maybe not, seeing how well he pulls off the casual look. How many times will the camera subject me to these shots during this game? I’m gonna say fifty.

7 min: “Lahm really looks like he’s enjoying himself,” the comm muses. “Considering he was a left back all his life.” He also feels he should mention David Alaba’s mom calls Alaba “Davey.” I’m already thinking of Davey Jones’ Locker. Thanks for that, comm.

8 min: It’s going back and forth between the two teams. Nothing is really happening, but Bayern is menacingly stringing together some deadly looking passes near the half-way line.

9 min: Bayern fans making some noise now, something that has the commentator remarking, “The crowd has realized that Barcelona hasn’t come for a nice stroll in the deep recesses of Bavaria.” No. No they haven’t. They might have come for a football game, but I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Oh, here’s a chance! Alaba sprints down the end and blasts a shot at Pinto’s diving mid-drift. Almost sent this 0-0 scoreline to the locker!

10 min: That was a terrible joke. I could do better.

10 min: Some niggling fouls here from Barça [and by niggling, I mean reckless sliding tackles that have me cringing, mostly from Mascherano, bless his aggressive heart]. Kroos and Robben take the resulting free kicks, but it come to naught – as you’d expect from Robben, not so much from Kroos.

Speaking of Kroos, the comm pronounces his name like a true German, which sounds weird considering the rest of the sentence is said with a posh British accent. I guess he really practised the name before coming on air. I wonder how he’d fare with Deulofeu. (Badly, I’d imagine, but he also probably wouldn’t call him Deufoleu like Everton, so there’s that).

11 min: Thiago fouls JDS near the centre circle. A longing look is exchanged by the two blood brothers. In my head.

There’s been another shot of Pep, by the way, but he was mostly obscured by those random people that are always on the touchline. It’s better this way.

12 min: Barça haven’t really been able to connect many passes together, but not for want of trying. Bayern pressing well enough and it probably helps that they have some Barça players passing to them, too.

13 min: The 7-0 has been mentioned more than JDS has in this game.

14 min: GOAL. Right on cue. Lahm scores a header after a fantastic pin point cross from Ribery. Philip Lahm scores a header. Lahm. Header. Scored. Of course he would.

15 min: The commentator isn’t as in tune with the poetic irony that surrounds Barça and their defence, though, so he says, “Who would’ve thought Phillip Lahm, who Bayern thought was made for right back, who had his name written on the position, engraved in the grass, would score a header!”

I did, comm. As soon as I saw he was in that position in front of the net. It was destiny.

17 min: Montoya and Sergi Roberto link up almost for a goal. TV has a reaction shot of Bastian Schweinsteiger on the bench because we all wanted to know what he felt about that near miss.

I don’t understand, either.

18 min: Commentators love to draw comparisons between established players and up-and-coming ones to help fans draw some kind of talent hierarchy for promising kids, probably for Football Manager purposes, which is fine, whatever. It tends to be flattering for the youngsters most of the time, anyway. But my commentator just compared Sergi Roberto to Cesc Fabregas which is nestled in the sweet spot between slightly flattering, hilariously offensive and damning with faint praise, depending on who you ask. (You know who you are.)

19 min: A meandering ball finds its way to the boot of Messi. He shuffles left to try and create a better angle for himself, but Bayern form a big, dark Berlin Wall in front of him. That means the shot was blocked and a counter for the Bavarians begin.

"Pony rides? Me next!"
“Pony rides? Me next!”

20 min: Surprisingly, they only slightly terrorize our defense and don’t get a shot in. The ball is pick-pocketed by Messi, but Muller and Kroos converge on him pretty much instantly and Dr. Felix whistles for a foul.

“It always surprises me how much stick that man can take,” the comm says. “Messi must be the most fouled player in the football business.”

Marca would probably disagree with you, comm. Marca would probably call you an Argentine sycophant who doesn’t pay their taxes and supports dictators.

24 min: Lahm is fouled by Mascherano and Robben stands over the free kick. “If you’re a Bayern fan, you’ll be hoping…” the comm starts, but aborts the sentence when he realises just who is over the free kick. He’s a quick study. Bayern fans already knew, comm.

28 min: The ball’s been popped around. Bayern’s been camped in the Barça half for a good four minutes. Neuer’s probably made himself a sandwich by now.

29 min: Barça get a rare ball down into the attack third. JDS throws caution to the wind and blasts one up and high over the crossbar, just to see if he’s paying attention. Neuer keeps on chewing his sandwich.

30 min: A nice passing move by Bayern ends with Muller stretching to toe poke the ball past Pinto but Adriano 2017 is there to get the ball away. Amazingly. His hamstring hasn’t snapped. Miraculously.

32 min: The commentator says the crowd has decided to amuse themselves by doing a Mexican wave. He’s really, really impressed by this.

34 min: Fouls on Ribery have surpassed the number of shots we’ve had all game. Luckily, Bayern’s free kicks have been as effective as Dani Alves’.

37 min: Tello on the left almost scores a golazo. Curls just around the wrong side of the post. Neuer had to put away his sandwich to dive for that.

39 min: The 7-0 has now been mentioned more times than JDS has in his entire career.

40 min: “Again, some shoddy defending from Barcelona almost gives the ball away to Robben,” notes the comm with some irritation, though that’s possibly just me projecting. Mascherano gets a yellow for cutting down Ribery by the patella. Comm is very unimpressed, calling it deliberately nasty, then decides to psychoanalyse the intention behind the challenge beyond completely failing to get near the ball.

“It’s obviously that wound Bayern inflicted in that semi-final,” he diagnoses. “Possibly more in-bred than we previously imagined.”

42 min: We have an actual doctor on the field, though, and he hands Bartra a yellow for manhandling Ribery whose foul count surpasses the number of successful passes by Barcelona.

44 min: Rafinha almost pulls a Messi vs Estudiantes in the CWC, chesting the ball towards goal but it hits the post. Neuer was beat, having not seen it coming, but then again he was making himself a new sandwich so that could be his own fault.

It’s the closest Barca have come to scoring, though. That should tell you everything about this game.


Well, that was not as bad it probably should have been, all things considered. The shortest Bayern player scored the only goal separating the two sides with his head, but that’s just par the course for this Barca defense.

Also Thiago and Pep, but I won’t be going there right now.

I’m going to extrapolate and think people will be screaming for a CB after that. In all honestly what’s had me seething with bitterness and possibly unhealthy jealously is the verticalidad from Bayern. So crisp and beautiful, they always have at least two men open to receive a pass and they’ve got their geometry right. It’s nice to watch and also sucks lemons.

Oh, and apparently the team bus was stuck in traffic before the game. In retrospect we probably should have paid attention to that obviously ominous sign. The traffic just wanted to stop a massacre, guys. The traffic just wanted to protect unsuspecting cule hearts.

True, it’s only one-nil. But I’m channelling cule feelings here.


I see Kiko Femenia is on the pitch. Those who know me from following Barça B probably know I think he looks like a stoned surfer, which is a lot more affectionate than it probably sounds.

45 min: “It’s a completely new outfit for Barcelona. This is going to be fun!” the comm says with a shocking amount of glee. I’m actually blindsided by the genuine delight in his voice. What the hell, comm. I thought we had something. I thought you were on our side. I thought you were against bloodbaths and massacres. It’s like I don’t even know you.

46 min: I don’t know the lineup because I’m internet less, but I just saw Dongou. Jean Marie Dongou.
I mean, he probably won’t score, but hell to the yes. I’m stoked now, so stoked I actually used the word ‘stoked’ in a sentence like it’s 1999.

Also saw new Barça B player Dani Nieto. At least the latter will taste what it’s like to play under a proper manager before being subjected to a season of Eusebio.

47 min: The ball is passed around lazily by both teams. Comm reiterates how fun this will be, and he somewhat clarifies his stance by saying he hopes there’ll be a lot more goals. That’s still a pretty crappy thing to say considering there are innocent children on the field now.

48 min: A poster held by a beaming girl reads: “The best player in the world Messi Ribery. Bitten dein trinkot!” I don’t know what that means, but I do hope it’s German for “Kidding! I’m just trolling for the cameras!” It doesn’t sound like it, though.

51 min: The camera pans to Robben and Muller on the bench. I’m not sure what they want me to say about that, but Robben looks like he just came out of a strange version of Dutch GQ which makes me very uncomfortable for obvious reasons. Also, he looks slightly less bald from that angle but it might just be the shadow from the bench over his head masquerading as hair.

52 min: Thiago almost scores a header. “Already a great understanding between these new players and the old guard,” the comm notes, just to f— with me. The TV crew gets a great reaction shot of Pep walking back towards the bench, looking like he doesn’t give a damn.

53 min: In case you couldn’t tell, that was sarcasm. Pep wasn’t doing anything but we get five-second reaction shots of him standing and walking anyway. Glad to see you’ve got your priorities straight, cameraman.

54 min: “I can’t remember commenting on a game where a team has replaced their entire eleven with a new one,” the comm marvels, and just as I’m thinking a snarky comment about how he must be new to this friendly business, he adds, “Though I know this is a friendly game and it’s only preseason.”

55 min: Shaqiri shows some skill on the side to fool our left back, but his cross comes to nothing, and his hair makes him look like a douche.

56 min: It’s all Bayern right now as the Barça Babies try to hang on. Ribery cuts back in the box and lets one rip, probably looking to make his shots-on-goal count match his fouled count [impossible but preseason is the time to try new things] but Oier goes down to make a solid save.

58 min: Davey Jones is blowing this popsicle stand, along with Dante and Lahm, being subbed out for Van Buyten and Gustavo … No, wait, that was just a random shot of Davey Alaba. It’s only Dante and Lahm coming off.

59 min: There’s a slow-mo moment of a beaming Pep congratulating Dante. Who the hell is in charge of this camera crew? I hate them.

62 min: Back passes backfire badly for the Barça defense, as number 18 on Barça – that looks like Patric to me – is dispossessed by the sovereign killer of youngster dreams Franck Ribery, who slots the ball back to a Mandzukic that’s stationed at the top of the box. Oier makes a fantastic diving save though.

64 min: The 7-0 has now been mentioned more times than JDS has in his entire life.

66 min: Pep decides to take out Ribery and a couple of other players for Schweini and co. as if that’s some kind of mercy to our A-team-that’s-really-currently-our-B-team. Oh, Pep. I can’t even hate.

68 minSTOP THE FUDGING PRESS. I just saw Javi Espinosa. He’s wearing the number 8 after his idol Iniesta.

Javier Espinosa.

This is glorious. I think I might cry. Once upon a time I thought he was abducted by flying monkeys and held ransom in some Brazilian jungle, but he was really just banished to the bench by Eusebio for two seasons. And when I say banished, I really mean condemned, like JDS style condemned, only his was not voluntary and a million times more inexplicable.

71 min: Thiago is still on the field. I’m pretty sure this has crossed the line into the cruel and unusual, Pep. Like, I’m not saying you should sub out Thiago for the sake of my psyche. but you should sub out Thiago.

72 min: It’s like Pep is reading my mind, Thiago comes off for Pizzaro. I’m glad he cares that much about my psyche. Last season’s Barça didn’t. They messed me up so much, they drove me to hockey. Hockey. Jury’s still out on whether that’s temporary madness on my part or a genuine psychic break. I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, Neuer has started making sandwiches for the fans, too. If it’s well received he might start a business.

74 min: The Barça Babies are being whistled by the Bayern fans. Comm whips out his psychoanalysis cred once more and says the fans are probably upset the entire eleven has been changed and there are a bunch of players they’ve never heard of on the pitch.

Well, tough sh*t, Bayern fans. You’ll find out who Dongou and Espinosa are when they seek asylum from Eusebio and Rosell in your team in two years.

75 min: That hurt to type.

78 min: Comm is really, truly amused by the concept of fans engaging in a Mexican wave. This is probably the third time he’s mentioned it, complete with a tone of wonder, like this is something groundbreaking that fans never do at football games, ever.

79 min: Davey Jones is still on the field, by the way, Gandalfing anything that comes his way. Kiko cannot pass, even with his surfing experience. There was no one in the box anyway.

82 min: Barça Babies working really hard. “Possession wise, it’s looking really good for them,” says the comm, which is all that really matters to Xavi. “But the final pass has been lacking.”

A lot of things have been lacking at Barça lately, okay, like Rosell’s moral compass and general competency, but we make do with what we have, comm. We just power on like the little fans who could.


84 min: The 7-0 has now been mentioned more times than everyone in the history of the planet, including the Royal Baby.

86 min: GOAL. Bayern scores their second. “That’s how you play football!” the comm screams as Davey Jones sends this match well and truly to his locker, doggedly keeping the play alive so Mandzukic gets the goal, a tap-in in front of the net.

“There was a slight smell of offside,” continues the comm alluding to Mandzukic, “but if it was, it was a sheet of paper!”

I don’t know what the nasality of being offside is but it probably doesn’t have anything to do with paper.
88 min – Of course I don’t make a job of smelling paper so I could be wrong.

89 min: Considering the utter domination by Bayern pretty much from the get-go, this hasn’t been all the bad. I mean, I don’t think we’ve had a real shot on target and the only place we’ve overachieved is in the fouls committed area, but Rome wasn’t rebuild in one day and the babies have accounted themselves well, despite what whistling Bayern fans may think.


Dr. Felix blows the final whistle to a contest that wasn’t nearly as soul-crushing as the last time we met but still felt a lot like walking on a carpet of pin needles.

The positives: Adriano’s hamstrings are still together, as far as we know. We gave the kids a run out. Thiago didn’t score. Pep didn’t score. Messi was there. Alexis got to run around. Neuer’s sandwich business fizzled out towards the end. JDS didn’t pass to Thiago by mistake. I’m only slightly blotchy for seeing our former player/coach with another team. None of the kids took Pep’s advice by mistake. Robben is still bald. Dr. Felix was pretty awesome in this match, it has to be said; he shouldn’t quite his day job obviously, but he should definitely start a Facebook page for competent refereeing. It will be mandatory for La Liga refs to join.

Also, no one got injured.

The negatives: everything else.

Whatever. It’s preseason so it’s not like anyone will be drawing conclusions. Wait, let me amend that. It’s not like anyone who has sense will be drawing any conclusions.

By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. Thanks for posting!

    There are two instances of strikethroughs, by the way, if anyone is confused:

    “He’s in the starting eleven for Bayern along with Neuer, Alaba, Dante, Somebody Boateng, Rafinha, Kroos, Lahm, Muller, Ribery and Robben.”


    “A poster held by a beaming girl reads: “The best player in the world Messi Ribery. Bitten dein trinkot!”

    Yeah, the poster actually said that.

  2. Haha hilarious. The Guardian should get you in to do theirs.

    The B team did the club proud! Now, if they managed to go toe to toe with Bayern minus their 2 best players (Deulofeu & Rafinha) , why are they facing difficulties in the league?

    I do notice that they lack in the final third. Poor Dongoo didn’t get any service.

    1. Hee, flattered! Though I doubt The Guardian will give up either Glendenning or Steinberg for me, lol

  3. OT

    Does anyone else have this problem?

    I can’t access Barcastuff twitter anymore. It’ll direct me to another page requesting me to sign up.

    1. Dont seem to have a problem accessing in on my laptop. Only a problem when I use my phone.

    1. Gracias! And yeah, it’s Davey Jones now. I cannot unsee the image lol. Blame the commentator! /runs

  4. barcastuff @barcastuff

    Dani Alves will wear shirt number “22” this season, in honour of Eric Abidal. Alves wore number “2” at Barcelona in the past seasons. [md]


  5. Just totally loved our kit yesterday.
    To me, Bayern is now a huge rival. 3 games. 9 goals to nothing.
    I was bad mouthing Pep and Thiago the whole game, just for the fun of it. But Fun aside, I do sincerely wish them both the worst luck possible with their new team and hopefully we will have our vengeance soon. It just cannot be that your career improves once you leave Futbol Club Barcelona. Can’t wait for the new coach to assess and get to know the squad.

  6. I think Tata is a good choice for an underdog as Barça seems to be right now 😉

  7. Kari, as a long-time lurker who enjoyed your posts, I’m glad you’ve decided to descend momentarily from that Mt Olympus where you and others dwell, and delight us again with your presence. Don’t take too long to come back!



    You said: So CuleToon – you admit that you have always disliked Thiago. Not just because of the most recent events, but always. Just made it convenient to build the fire against him cause he left, right?

    Wrong, Barcaleya.

    Yes, I’ve never liked Thiago. Is there any reason why I would have to like him? Not for me. And it’s nothing to do with «sour grapes». With an average of 50 games per season, I’ve seen about 2,000 Barça games in 40 years as a soci. And I’m too lazy to count the number of players I’ve seen coming and going; Among them, I’ve seen so many players like Thiago that, in normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have bothered a bit about him leaving. The only difference is that after all the fuss about him these last weeks, I’ve felt really relieved to see him go. All that soap opera around him had become just too much noise, a real nuisance (at least for me).

    Another question is, did I hope that he would polish his play and become a good-very good player? Yes, as I’ve have hoped the same in many other cases. But, after two and a half years with the first team, which is a lot of time, he hasn’t evolved into a player worthy of all that he’s been demanding, at least for me. It’s as simple as that.

    As I told before, I will never wish him ill, and if he ends up being one of the best midfielders of his era, I’ll simply smile to myself, without regrets.

    People crying for Thiago’s absence tend to be the same that can’t stand Cesc. I also expect much more from Cesc, but I’m aware that Thiago is already 22, and that Cesc, just at 18, played a Champions final and won an EuroCup, and at 21, he was captain at Arsenal.

    In the end, I am totally entitled to value Thiago as I wish. And everybody else is equally entitled to disagree with me and with others. And I insist: We see the same players, we see the same games, yet, in the end, we don’t: we can’t separate ourselves from our subjectivity, which is informed by what we’ve lived.


    About Ié. You’re right about the name, Barcaleya, it’s «Ié» with an «I», not «Lé» with an «L» as I wrote. I stand corrected. Thank you.


    Yet so many people here believe what you say just because you live in Barcelona. I’ve never thought it was a matter of believing. It goes without saying that my comments are personal opinions subject to discussion like any other comments here, and, of course, the rest of BfB community will value those comments as they wish. And, yes, I tend to be philosophical some times. It must be the age, you know?

    1. Culetoon,

      Had your comments about Thiago the past weeks been written down the way you wrote it today, I would not have bothered to make my comments in the previous post. Agree that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. If you do not rate Thiago as highly as others, you are validly within your rights to say so and stand by that.

      However, “relief” from the drama/saga was not all that I got in your comments the past week. It has been more a hatred that I find verging on the unreasonable.

      I have been the first to note [on twitter] that a coach should never be held hostage by player demands embodied in a contract. A coach should always choose his players according to the skills he needs against specific teams. If Tito didnt think Thiago was who he needed, fine by me. However, the fact that the club acceded to the provisions in the contract [which may or may not be favorable to Thiago] meant that if Thiago decided to invoke said clause/s, then both parties got what they agreed upon. [Bear in mind that said clause was inserted as a compromise to Thiago getting lower salary. It wasnt a strong-arm clause on Thiago’s side, it was a clause the club negotiated for so that they’ll pay lower wages].

      So, in this case – if what happened was bad for the club meaning they lose a valuable midfielder for lesser money than what it could have gotten – BOTH parties at the very least are culpable of this. And YET, all aggression is directed towards Thiago and none towards the club. Or as I see it, blame/criticism is not equally distributed between both and you have been the biggest proponent of this Thiago hate-fest.

      Cesc. Why would we be comparing the two now? The situation is obviously dissimilar, right? Had Thiago left earlier, he might very well be in the same position Cesc is now. YET, he chose to display more loyalty than Cesc by staying longer and hoping to get in the senior side. But now you say Cesc made the right decision while Thiago is being slagged for in fact being MORE loyal by committing longer than Cesc?

      Also, had Arsenal been a real winning team, Cesc would not really come back to us, would he? It was very convenient for him to return to Barca just when Barca were winning all the trophies and also signing a new contract with Arsenal so that Arsenal profits by him. All these and you still try to compare him with Thiago.

      Even worse is that Cesc has not proven himself capable of being the top class player we need. The club has accommodated him by pushing Iniesta way to the left wing just so he could play in the middle. Yet, he loses so many balls and don’t seem to know what to do unless it was a clear goal-scoring or assist-making opportunity. He’s only good in Messi’s position when Messi is not around. He is bad when playing beside Messi. Which shows his lack of versatility. AND are we contemplating benching Messi when he’s fit in favor of Cesc?

      As for your philosophical bent, I am much closer to you in age than most posters here who are in their early twenties. i would know and recognize “being philosophical” etc. However your “How curious/odd is the human species… I, for example, think just the opposite of what you say” – smacks of condescension since the poster had an opposite view/observation from you.

      As I said earlier, the two of you may not have watched the same matches. In fact, I know more people who think that JDS loses more balls/not as good as Thiago. But I do not go by the majority because as can be seen in so many places, many people are sheep and agree with opinion of “popular” people even when said opinion is riddled with factual inaccuracies. The fact is people may observe things differently and the way you said “how curious is the human specie” because ooga thought differently from you made it appear as if you just hit upon some deep unknown thought when that is a normal occurence in life.

      Which is what this long comment has been all about. I disagree with your valuation of Thiago. Yet, I do not come here to change your mind. You are entitled to that. What I disagree about is the way you have been laying down your ideas, inciting hatred for the boy who at the end of the day did what he felt right for himself. Just as Cesc did when he was 18.

      Also, you tell me that Eusebio’s staff did not see anything in IE that’s why he’s out. I dont care much for Eusebio and his staff’s judgment since they wasted and benched Espinosa, who is a wonderful player, and yet played someone like Lobato regularly. IE hardly got any minutes and when he did towards the end of the season he was excellent. Just because he’s cut out, as you said, doesnt mean he wasnt excellent as he was all throughout Portugal’s campaign in the U20s.

      And since you seem to adhere and put weight int Eusebio and his staff, let me make clear that I don’t value their judgment at all BUT that I do rate very highly Pep’s judgment. Pep thinks that Thiago is an exceptional player, skilled and versatile. In stark contrast to what you have been expounding here in the past weeks. I rate his judgment very very highly, seeing as to how he identified Busquets and Pedro and having won us all those trophies. If I were to believe anyone – I would believe him with regards to Thiago. And not you.

    2. Thanks for your answer, Barcaleya. And it appears that Ié will be next season at Barça B, so let’s hope he suffers no more injuries and we can see more of him.

    3. Thanks to the both of you for reasoned, informed debate on this matter. I don’t suppose this will ever go away, but I just want to note that Guardiola’s view of Thiago and his usefulness to his squad is very much based in the tactical approach he is taking to setting up the Bayern game.

      In the position that Thiago is playing for Bayern, Barça really have no analog. Probably closest would have been when Keita was playing with Busquets, and would drift back to serve as that safety valve/intermediate level between the back line and midfield, in the case of more aggressively countering opponents.

      Did the club drop the ball on the player? Yes. But the player still took advantage of it, so neither side is blameless, just as neither side is fully at fault.

    4. I hope so too. Aside from good positioning, the boy even scores from headers. Would dearly love CB who can do that for us.

    5. I only saw him play during a couple of the last matches last season, but I haven’t seen him enough to form an opinion of him. But since you say he’s promising, I’ll keep an eye on him next season.

  8. Watched the team’s game. Should say i was not surprised by the performance gap since its the first game of pre season. However i was left with a sour taste by Bartra’s performance. If he was not giving away the ball straight to the opposition he was booting it upfield. Really felt let down since, for me, i have this problem with him and it doesn’t seem to be going away.

    1. Yes, a little disappointed with Bartra yesterday. Some in the press here say that Montoya left him too alone, specially in front of Ribéry, because he didn’t trackback enough and Roura didn’t correct him. But some giveaways by Bartra were truly painful to see. Anyway, let’s have some patience since the preseason has just started.

    2. Maybe he was left exposed by Montoya a little but he should have done better. My real problem is that the tendency is a recurring one. Hope it gets ironed out as the years go by. Unfortunately he plays in a position which is under a lot of scrutiny at the moment.

    3. Yeah, it wasn’t his best moment in a Barca shirt, either in passing or positioning. However, still early season and he’ll know the issue himself. The problem as you say is that it has happened before and he’s now about 22/23 is he not? It’ll soon be time to decide if he has it or not and the signing of a new CB will mean he doesn’t get much playing time.

  9. Great article.
    What interested me most was how much Messi tried to press – although he didn’t always get consistent support. That was not the Messi of last season.
    Hopefully, Messi will do a lot more pressing this season to set the bar for Neymar. That would be very cool.

    1. Did you see that time when he fought for the ball and won it almost in our penalty area? After other pressing by him, that play made me see that he would only play the first half. I don’t expect that much intensity by him during the season, but, like you, I also expect he’ll do a lot more pressing than last season.

    2. I absolutely love the way Messi presses even when he’s not that intense. Times when he’s slightly off form or injured, he still pulls off the basics right consistently, for example, blocks the vertical passing channel to DM as much as possible. When you have a center forward with that level of spatial awareness, it makes the job of others easier.

      Instead of intense pressing, I’d like to see more of synchronized pressing often. More elegant solutions instead of the brute force methods. Imo our forwards and AM haven’t been paying detailed attention to the movements that Messi makes during press.

      He’s a supreme predator on the pitch and over the years he has managed to fuse the art of deception in his repertoire. Scary!

  10. May be reading too much into body language or whatever, But I get the feeling Messi is really growing up to be a real leader. He looks like he’s ready to assume ‘capita’ responsibilities from Puyol / Xavi.

    1. Levon, yesterday you asked what is the function [in Catalan] of the “bàckwàrds àccènt”? Is it the same as the “fórwárds áccént” in Spanish?

      In Catalan, the «a» sounds like in Spanish, and when it is accented it can only have an «open» accent (à). You’ll never see an «a» with a closed (á) accent in Catalan.

      When accented, «i» and «u» always get a «closed» accent (í, ú) and they are pronounced like in Spanish.

      As for «e» and «o», they can be accented both ways and they are pronounced differenty. So, «é» and «ó» are pronounced the same as in Spanish, but «è» and «ò» sound different, more «open». Anyway, these distinctions in pronounciation only apply to Eastern Catalan (Girona, Barcelona, Balearic Islands, Andorra and French Roussillon). Western Catalan (Lleida, Tarragona, Valencia and the Aragon Strip) pronounce all vowels like in Spanish, irrespective of the accent.

  11. just getting home from work and logging on to see if someone could give me a summary of the game…and what a pleasant surprise..thanks a lot kari..

    1. Surprise! Missed ya too, Jafri! Thanks for reading! JDS defo hates me know though. 😀

  12. The divergent views on yesterday’s match are awesome. Bleacher report and Barça Blaugranes are saying it was a triumph, not only echoing the official site but my general views, as I was hoping for three things to happen:

    1. No injuries
    2. Seeing Sergi Roberto
    3. Giving the Babies some

    All three happened, and with style. Sergi Roberto had the two best chances to equalize, particularly had Tello had his head up on that run that Roberto made. Wide open for the square ball/tap home.

    His runs are something that our attackers are going to have to account for. His runs are also something that will potentially help Fabregas keep from getting caught so far forward, as only one of them has the pace to also get back.

    1. I was hoping the same three things as you, plus another one: Seeing Sergi Samper. Perhaps in one of the next matches…

  13. Thanks for the fun post Kari, made me smile a lot. Hope you come back and write more often 🙂

    1. yay! that’s what I was aiming for! Need some cheer around here. Gracias for taking the time to read it, Dani_el!

  14. Apparently if Martino would want the club to sign Santiago Vergini he would come for free because he just finished his contract with Newell’s according to Sport. If Martino wants him, and he comes for free, maybe we could loan Bartra to give him more minutes (if Martino doesn’t count on him), and we could buy yet another central defender. I wouldn’t mind if they give another shot Afellay. Thiago’s leaving will put much pressure to Sergi Roberto.

    1. On your last point, I’m Just back from a holiday in Croatia ( lovely country and people! ) and the sun may have gone to my head being from Scotland but would there be any mileage in putting Alexis back into midfield on occasions? Most will know I’m disappointed in him up front and in particular his seeming inability to beat a man, but even I have admired his ability to get about quickly winning balls back and he has decent passing ability. We also need to get a little pace into the midfield at times. Mind you he’d be behind at least four others I suppose. Just thinking …

    2. Mmm, I think that in a three-man front line Alexis’s willingness to work his *ss off will complement Messi and Neymar very well.

    3. i’ve long advocated moving Alexis into the middle; a closer position to his shining best for Udinese than being stuck out on the wing. i do sincerely hope Martino attempts to play him there, or in the Messi-withdrawn-central-striker role, only as more of a creator than a goalscorer. such a switch would move Messi further away from the ball but create huge imbalances on the wings with Messi and Neymar coming in from opposite flanks. the mouth-watering triangles that result in such a switch (Neymar-Iniesta-Alba, Messi-Xavi-Dani) would overpower teams at the corners of their defense while Alexis occupies the center with his good movement.

      alternately, i’d like to see Messi played as a more orthodox midfielder for SOME games this season. AT THE VERY LEAST i want Martino to EXPERIMENT with some of these changes, because the team’s tactics need a serious shaking up. we’ll always stick to our ideology, but within that ideology we need to be able to be unpredictable, as so many times in recent seasons we haven’t been.

    4. I think we are more likely to see Neymar in midfield than Sanchez, and agree with BA in that I sure would love to see Messi as that traditional 10. Just absurd to think about, since he’s almost the best passer on the team already.

    5. These days, watching Messi play for Argentina – a 3 in one role, I have always wondered why Barca dont use him as a perfect 10, at least in some important games.

    6. Yes, Alexis is best in the middle, in the role he has for Chile. I dont know how he can adjust to being an out and out 9 as he seems like the only person available to do that for us [with Villa gone] when we use that formation.

      I’ve also been advocating for a proper 9 so that Messi can play as a perfect 10.

      Similarly, Neymar is best with a 9 ahead of him the way it is in Santos/Brazil.

    1. Gah! I knew I spelled something wrong, only saw it once! Trikot, then.

      Agreed. Dumbest. Sign. Ever. A shame she was serious and not actually trolling, sigh.

    2. Nevermind… you gave it a somewhat dutch-ish accent 😉

      Great writeup by the way

  15. Just thinking aloud on solutions for our center back woes.

    If we can sign this Vergini for free or 1M, Loan Bartra out and sign Agger. Why I say Agger is, the guy is technical, great in the air and above all left footed. We could really use a left footed center back. Will go nicely with pique / masch / vergini / puyol. And I doubt if he’ll cost more than 15M.

    1. i dunno about Agger. i like the player, i’m just not sure he’s up to our level, and he’s slow. we need a fast CB with a penchant for reading the play and covering in behind; 3/4ths of our back line are great bringing the ball forward, somebody has to stay at home and keep things calm.

      i do agree that we need someone who’s good in the air. sad that the player who best fits that whole description (apart from Thiago Silva, who we aren’t getting) is Eric Abidal 🙁

  16. Can’t Thiago shut it?
    If he wanted to make statements about the club he should have stayed and done so.
    You get your transfer, now shut up and try to justify your demands + transfer free for god’s sake.
    Such a spoiled spoiled child.

    1. He answered the questions asked of him in an interview, just like Javier Faus did when asked about selling Thiago for just 25m the other day. I’m not sure how that makes him a “spoiled spoiled child”. The personal attack on someone you don’t know is also lamentable.

    2. No comment is an option when answering question.
      Just like when he was asked about RM in that same interview.

      His attitude was quite evident ,even when playing for us.
      And I really don’t mind it, at least not when it does not concern us. And he is piling the pressure onto the club ,a month after his transfer is done and dusted for no reason at all.

    3. Whenever anyone leaves a club, questions are always asked of them about why they left. Example: when Pep decided to leave, he justified his decision by explaining how exhausted he was. Thiago had his turn with those questions, and he answered. I don’t find anything wrong in that. YMMV. My point in my first response to your comment was that it seemed like you were saying Thiago called a press conference to put the board on blast, which wasn’t the case. He answered a question, simple as that.

      I’m not going to touch the “attitude was quite evident, even when playing for us” thing. I completely, 100% disagree with that opinion, but I know I’m in the minority with that one.

    4. I’ll also add that if Thiago keeps on talking about the transfer saga at every press conference or interview, then I’ll be annoyed. Hopefully, now that he’s answered the questions once, he’ll be able to just say, “We’ve gone over this. Moving on.”

    5. Can we get off the high horse a bit ? Posters will have opinions on players which may relate to performance either on or off the field. I had to listen to all sorts of comments last year about Pique’s personal life which i thought werent justified. They’re in the public eye and that’s life, I’m afraid. I am old enough to remember the old Offside and the slagging R10 got for his off field activities. The only time, imo, posters overstep the mark is when they begin to make personal comments on fellow posters here.

    6. I had to listen to all sorts of comments last year about Pique’s personal life which i thought werent justified.

      Agreed. People weren’t right to be saying that…just like I don’t see how it’s right to call Thiago a “spoiled spoiled child” for answering a question in an interview.

      They’re in the public eye and that’s life, I’m afraid.

      Sure, but that doesn’t make it right.

    7. Thiago is a grown man and can say what he wants. Personally I find his comment that “nobody from the club contacted me when they knew I wanted to leave” quite interesting. I’m sure that Pep made him feel wanted at Bayern.

      It could be that we truly did not value him and let him go. And maybe we are making a huge mistake, but time will tell.

      My fear is though, that rather than truly not valuing him, our failure to communicate clearly with players and staff has become institutional. We have heard similar complaints from Abidal, Muniesa and Eusebio.

      And although I don’t necessarily agree (at least not in relation to his recent comments), if Mei wants to call Thiago a “spoiled child” that’s fine with me, lol.

    8. “Spoiled” comment is not an overreaction.
      It is merely a summary of his situation.
      He has the arrogant look of an elite player while still being a prospect. His whole way of playing ,celebrating and talking strikes me such, but it goes even further than looks and spontaneous maybe actions/words.

      He was in one of the best clubs in the world,graduate of a renowned academy that lately boasts to have produced most of our first team members.
      It is the same club that many people accuses that foreigners of the same or even somewhat better quality versus a la masia graduate do not stand a chance.
      His place with us was pretty much guaranteed as long as he would be patient, even though our midfield can be described as one of the best ever.
      You can’t really expect to walk on that lineup just because of your promise.

      Even more so when one former player named fabregas left in 18 ,captained arsenal in his 21 and for 4 years after only to beg to come back just to compete for a first team spot – and still hasn’t earned it- 2 years in.

      So what does he do? He extorts the same club that brought him up and was readying him to take after xavi with his low buyout clause. He opts to go to another powerhouse and I’m fine with that. It is his right.
      But don’t try the “they did not contact me” plea while saying that you wanted out.
      Do not have your way with the press even after the transfer is done and we have just received a huge blow.
      Just have fun at Bayern competing with all these midfielders around you.

    9. I got yelled at a little bit for this view, and I understand how difficult it is to get slagged in the press and NOT want to respond, but I thought it would have been badass for Thiago to say “Even though I haven’t talked about it and won’t, people understand why I chose to move to Bayern. I would rather focus on my future. Next question.”

      Then he makes Faus, with his stupid comments about it being good business to have gotten 25m for a “reserve,” etc, just look increasingly petty, defensive and silly as they persist with the protesting too much.

      Cules know the club is suffering right now from poor, verging on appalling governance. And it is very clear why Thiago left. Anything more is just beating a dead horse, and from my detached, nerdy journalist view, it would have been cool as hell to say, in effect, “Whatever. I hope they’re happy.”

      I once had an ex (bad breakup) ranting, and slagging, and a smarter, older friend said “Don’t get into it. Let her look crazy.” I didn’t, and he was right.

      It’s a charged situation that is really very simple: A player wasn’t getting what he wanted in one place, and chose another place where he could.

      It is the background of the situation that should be interesting cules. So, not the fact that Thiago left, but rather what does that leaving represent: A failure in governance at the club, or the club deciding that it wanted to cash in on a player by letting him leave, then trying to save face in the aftermath.

      Further, what kind of pettiness would condone the smear campaigns that ensued about the player. The larger issue isn’t Thiago. It’s governance.

    10. There is a failure in governance kevin. But that does not mean that every decision the board takes is wrong.
      I do believe that Thiago leaving for 25 million is not a bad move especially when he wanted out, or guarantee of minutes/role. That should never happen in the club.Earn your place!
      I am much more concerned with other young more unknown talents that parted with us and have a lot to do with board renewing eusebio and such.

    11. But the Thiago departure is symptomatic. To my view, the board cares about three things:

      — Building an unassailable power base, which allows …
      — Reelection
      — A new stadium

      Everything else is suborned to those needs. The Busquets “momo” incident and the passivity of the board should have been a warning to us. It is neglect, and not at all benign. So for me, when Thiago bleats about “not feeling loved,” I say bollocks. But what I also say is “How easy would it have been to have the club come out publicly and privately, thus placing the onus on the player for his departure?” This is what they are trying to do now.

      Thiago is the macguffin here. Squabble about that, rather than the larger issues. Muniesa with no communication, coaches uncertain about their futures, players uncertain about their futures, Messi having to defend himself against accusations that he manipulated the Martino arrival ….

      It’s all neglect of things unrelated to what this board cares about most.

    12. I have to side with Kxevin on this one (well, partly). I would always like to compare how Villa and Thiago does, well I mean their reaction after leaving the club. Despite spend most of the time on the bench, he kept it quiet. Even in his presser with Atletico, he said that he is grateful for Barcelona for giving him a chance. I don’t know about you guys, but for me, for an established striker who win almost everything at club and national level, that is pretty humble to me.

      Contrary with the snipe by Thiago, well like Levon said, he is a grown man. What’s done is done. He wants more playing time, he gets it. The world doesn’t end here. A good player will come and go, but keeping a good player who doesn’t want to play for you is not a good decision imo.

    1. Aww, thanks, Nik! Thanks for reading it, it wasn’t short, lol. Hopefully it can cheer up some of y’all a bit. Need to get this way lighter around this joint. This is step one! 👿

  17. sergi roberto is and has the potential to be more ‘effective’ than thiago. Am not talkin about thong boyesque fancy footworks that often leads to nought.

    1. Agree. my guess is the club thought it wasnt losing anything, and getting 24 mill at the same time. Great business.

    2. While I hope you are right, I don’t think we have seen Sergi Roberto play enough 1st team football to judge whether he has more potential than Thiago. Maybe we will know more by the end of the season.

    3. I’d say that the question is not if Sergi has more or less potential than Thiago, but to what degree he will fulfill this potential. We’ve all seen too many players with a lot of potential geting stuck half-way up!

  18. You’ll forgive me an extra glass of my favourite Pinotage when I get home… My hometown team St Johnstone has just put Rosenburg out of the Europa !!!

  19. The lack of pressing cannot be attributed only to exhaustion. It is ridiculous to see it through that prism. It’s more due to the lack of tactical discipline. The Milan return match happened in the peak of the season, with the players mentally and physically exhausted. But still the pressing was phenomenal. That happened because we addressed one glaring tactical indiscipline we had last season – too much space between three lines- defense, midfield and attack. We failed in almost all the match to compress and make the pitch compact. This was the result of trying to play more direct – you can’t have it all in one basket.

    In that match Roura did a tactical master class by pushing Alves up and playing Messi behind Villa. What it did was reduce the space between midfield, defense and attack. People complained throughout last season about the lack of pressing from Messi and Villa. But in that match they pressed brilliantly, simply because they could. Effective Pressing does not mean running all over the pitch like Sanchez does. that’s stupidity it only tires you out and leaves too much space for people to cover. Remember what used to happen with Real Madrid in Guardiola’s last season. They used to press so high with players running so much to close down barca defenders high up the pitch, only to get tired after thirty minutes. Effective pressing is about reducing those. Villa and Messi does the pressing really well but only if you are tactically disciplined and reduce the space they have to cover. That was missing. If we tie all our players with a non-stretchable rope, then effective pressing will happen. Because when a player moves froward to press the whole team will move along with him reducing the space between them. You can’t press effectively without making the pitch compact.

    This is to be addressed first by Martino. The exhaustion part is there and that’s the reason we have to give the likes of MOntoya, Bartra, Dos Santos, Roberto etc regular time. Don’t bring them all together, only one should start in one match.

    1. I second your opinion. I also noted with concern the issue of zones that were too far apart. Like you say when the pitch is compressed we are a menace in our pressing because the ball never really escapes those zones. When that press is fully on we then need astute readers of the game defensively, ala Busquets/ Abidal to take strategic pre emptive positions in anticipation of the occasional counter attacks that are inevitable.

      That’s why for so long we were able to master Real Madrid. We choked them and they were only on their peak physically in the first thirty minutes. Thereafter they were ours to toy with generally. We need to compresss the zones. After Tito came along and set up the team in his way that’s when we started to really suffer especially against RM who for the past three seasons were the epitome of counter attacking teams. The gaps between the lines became bigger the pressing less intense and our defenders were generally exposed for what they are: generally not fast enough and not good enough defensively. The second of the Super Cup, the second leg of the Copa Del Rey, the Milan game are all part of games we lost against better opposition because of how we set up.

      On another side but related note i think our football last season was not so good. I understand that we can’t be more vertical and retain the intricacy and complexity of yester years but for this cule i had take yester years football readily. Forgive the sentiment but i can’t help it.

    2. That «stretching» of the team and the resulting lack of an effective pressing has been pointed out by many people here at BfB and elsewhere, professional pundits included. In fact, it was there for all to see, since we had been thoroughly accustomed to Pep’s pressing style and the change was obvious since the beginnning of the season. But, as you both say, there were al least three matches in which the team executed that pressing effectively, reducing the distance between the lines. So neither the players, nor the technical staff, forgot how to do it properly. Then, the real problem must lie deeper, in the causes of this general lack of pressing in the great majority of matches.

      Was this lack of pressing due to physical and/or mental fatigue? Or to lack of motivation? Or to the general weakness of La Liga opponents (except RM) that didn’t demand that much effort? Probably, it will be a combination of all these factors and some others I can’t think of.

      So, let’s hope that Tata, with fresh eyes, will be able to diagnose the situation and make whatever changes are necessary to instill in the team that lost attitude.

    3. By the way, didn’t this lack of proper, organized pressing, begin to appear during Pep’s last season?

    4. Yea, you’d be right about that CuleToon. The lack of organised pressing started when Messi was given leeway to occasionally press in order to keep an attacking threat on the opposing team’s CBs at all times. I’ve mentioned this earlier, but there is a cascade effect with how little Messi presses. That one extra player left open to receive the pass because Messi isn’t pressing is all it takes for our pressing to be rendered ineffective. Our midfield and wingers have to overcompensate for this, losing shape and exposing spaces. If you notice how attacks start against us, usually it is a combination of 2-3 passes in order to reach our back-line. For a team that plays as high up the pitch as Barca does, that is suicide. This preservation of Messi’s future theory, if true, might be leading to a more personally successful future for Messi, but conversely is resulting in a not-so-effective system.

      Also, as a side note: CuleToon, thank you for joining this community. Bfb had a feeling of fizzing out before you arrived on the scene. Your comments, and the conversations you’ve started, have been a breath of fresh air and are much appreciated by all of us.

    5. OOPS! I pressed «submit» to soon. I understand that cascade effect you mention, but, in principle, wouldn’t that problem be solved engaging Messi in that organized pressing when needed, be it against some specific teams and/or for some stretches during matches? But that didn’t happen. And then, of course, there’s the factor that AllAboutFCBarcelona mentioned at the start of his comment above: A lack of tactical discipline; But, somehow, I avoid thinking about that factor because, as far as I can see, it can only mean that Tito-Roura didn’t have much ascendancy over the players… .I

    6. It could also mean that Tito especially wasn’t much aware about how fundamental was the pressing for Barca. For example the tactics we saw against Milan at Camp Nou where never employed again!

    7. That would be much worse, then! Now, seriously, after 2+4 years as Pep’s assistant I doubt that Tito wasn’t aware of the importance of pressing.

      Surely there’s a combination of all those factors above, plus others we don’t know, perhaps related to the dynamics in the locker room. Let’s wait and see.

    8. May be towards the end of the season it started…. But our issues of that season was Guardiola’s experiments away from home earlier in the season. Those experiments were brilliant but should have done at Camp Nou, not at places like Valencia. In the end we had to do a lot of catch up and we almost did that too. As far as UEFA Champions League was considered, I couldn’t find any wrong in the way we played against Chelsea. It just wasn’t to happen, I guess. I mean it was Chelsea’s year, other than that there was no explanation for that. May be by that time we started our over-reliance on false-9 formation also. But apart from that we did fine with pressing.

      Also if we start again imposing our pressing game, do you see Cesc standing out as the odd one out. He is the least disciplined in that area.

    9. I am not so sure when this started. Inoder to evaluate how effective our pressing is i think we have rate that against teams of similar quality to us. Because less technical are easy to hurry and put under pressure so we don’t see how much we are doing against them.

      In Pep’s last season i don’t think the press was the issue ala Chelsea matches and Real Madrid matches. In those matches we conceded classic counter attacking goals that we always concede because we are not perfect as a footballing team and were not always on. Also i had say we became more vilnerable due to Abi’s absence who was excellentin reading those counter attacking issues.

      In my view Pep last year was characterised by a general tiredness mentally and phsically: on Pep himself and the team. I remember the Camp Nou Classico seeing Pep standing on the sidelines and not being his normal instructing self. I also remember a tired looking Messi not truly at his best.
      Whatever the issues were at play in my view fatigue was the main stand out feature of Pep’s last days.

      My opinion is that the pressing was not the main problem per se but the distance between the zones. Look at how ferocious Alexis presses and imagine the balls we had recover if we were set up in the ways of the past.

  20. CuleToon..
    I don’t know if what people remember changes over time.
    But according to me, we played some of the best football in Pep’s last year. Not only did the football become more dynamic, even Pep himself pushed himself greatly with regards to formations and tactics. I will never forget those games we lined up frequently in 3-1-3-3 and the inverted pyramid 1-2-3-4 formations.

    I will say this though – that in his last year, possession became a bit of an obsession and it wasn’t the effective possession we saw in earlier years. Of course the Abidal and Villa absence affected us greatly and Messi had to worry more about goal scoring rather than defense. People might say we played better football between 08-11, but I feel the insane results we enjoyed at that period clouds people’s judgement. Add to that, we had the element of surprise, teams didnt know what to expect and that favored us. But for me, 11-12 really captured my imagination. Too bad the results wasn’t as good. We still got 4 trophies that year. Liga in my mind was handed to ee. and we all know the insanely small margin with which we missed out on the CL.

    1. I recall it slightly differently. I remember 3 at the back on a regular basis causing us all sorts of problems and a series of extremely nervous live blogs here because of it. Nobody seemed sure of their job in it.

      I remember Pep taking against Pique after a couple of dodgy games mid season and leaving him out of several games in the run in when it was obvious to most that his funky period was over and I remember him persevering with Masch when it was obvious he had glaring faults at CB, exemplified by his rush out of the middle of the 3 man defence just after we got back into the game against Chelsea only to miss a tackle on Lampard and cause their goal.

      To be fair, the Villa and Abidal absences did cause some disruption, especially Villa as it made it inevitable everything would have to come from Messi but Pep’s last season left me for one underwhelmed.

      I personally didnt enjoy the football we played in the first half of last season but can’t deny it was effective.

    2. I guess people see what they want to see Jim.
      3 at the back, at times was scary.
      But there were so many amazing games we won with 3 at the back.
      Remember 3-4-3 vs Villarreal and away at Real Madrid, we won 5-0 and 1-3. And of course that Santos game was midfield madness.

    3. Yes, its a psychological fact: What we remember changes over time, and the older you get, the more it changes! (I’m one of four psychologists in our original group of socis).

      Now seriously. I asked if there was already a lack of pressing in the final stretch of Pep’s last season, and it seems that the opinions about that vary a little. Anyway, it was a very special season, and this time I’ll dare to talk on behalf of the vast majority of socis here: Yes, La Liga was shamelessly handed to EE in a way not seen since those old Franco years. Pep himself saw it coming after only a few matches and warned us very early in the season: «We are not going to win this Liga». Without doubt, the lack of reaction by Rosell & Co. in the face of that outrage was one of the final straws for Pep, and I’m convinced that he became more and more disheartened as the season proceeded, and that the team, somehow, reflected that in its play.

      As for the quality of football, I think you’re right in that the first two years we caught the other teams by surprise: they attacked us and Barça scored 4-5 even 6 goals in half a match. Oh, those pre-bus days!

      For me, the peak of Barça’s play was in 2010-11, with that glorious 5-0 to EE and that final at Wembley against ManU (and I even would stretch that season a little to include that 4-0 to Santos). But that doesn’t mean that the rest of Pep’s era wasn’t a joy to behold. As for the brilliance of Barça’s play during season 2011-2012, I can’t say much about it because, sadly for me, the memory of the indignation and frustration I felt has superseded any memory I could have of our play. I did record some matches of that season, though. So you’ll make me watch them again!

    4. Excellent points CuleToon. But Its sad that the memory of frustration has superseded the wondrous plays and tactics. Watch it again and let me know what you think.
      Yes, I agree that 2010-11 was amazing. I remember that month of October/Nov when we were something like 50 goals scored against 6/7 conceded. But our play that year was pretty predictable in terms of lineup and personnel. The fact that it made no difference to opponents only point to the fact that everybody was executing efficiently like crazy. Particularly Masch, Valdes, Pedro, Busi, Villa and Alves.
      But 11-12 was quite revolutionary for me. The fact that we could still compete so fiercely inspite of the whole world knowing what our game was like. It was like constant re invention for each game.
      The bloody league, was handed to EE. I remember the countless penalties that we weren’t given in stark contrast to the countless penalties given to Real Mordor. I remember the red cards handed out to EE’s opponents too. Like I said, what people remember changes over time, but shouldn’t. I prefer to remember that season 11-12 as our finest. Where, in addition to style, we also showed our competitive spirit. Yes, results were slightly disappointing. But if we are all xavistas and Guardiolistas we shouldn’t worry too much about the results, only that we did things well.

    5. Yes, La Liga was shamelessly handed to EE in a way not seen since those old Franco years. Pep himself saw it coming after only a few matches and warned us very early in the season: «We are not going to win this Liga». Without doubt, the lack of reaction by Rosell & Co. in the face of that outrage was one of the final straws for Pep, and I’m convinced that he became more and more disheartened as the season proceeded, and that the team, somehow, reflected that in its play; there was the eye-gouging of Tito by Mou and the steeping of Messi’s hand by Pepe, all done with total impunity and without a word by the Board. – completely in accord.
      I, for one, still thinks all these and may be even more which we all will never know, influenced Pep to leave.
      08 -09, and 09 – 10 – we werent facing any bus, until Inter in semis
      10 -11 was our best. there were lots of buses, but still.
      11 – 12 – there were only buses. And we played good football too. But, if my memory is right, it was very difficult to predict out first elleven in that season. Pep was changing it for every game, we really didnt have a basic, fully adapted, first elleven. And then bad luck descended during the semis.

      anyways, past is past. eager for Tata days.

    6. Oh, yes! More reasons to suppress memories of 2011-2012: Apart from those games vs Chelsea, there was the eye-gouging of Tito by Mou and the steeping of Messi’s hand by Pepe, all done with total impunity and without a word by the Board. And, of course there were those bad news about Abi and Tito’s health… :I

      By the way, remember that Tata will be presented in just two minutes.

    7. Still not sure why the board is getting the flack for not speaking out on these issues. If it had been in The EPL it would have been SAF out giving it large to the media, or Wenger or some other manager … But not the board. Is it different in Spain?

    8. Jim, If those two incidents had happened in The EPL, Mou and Pepe would had been suspended for some time, am I wrong?

      But when the disciplinary bodies let the perpretators of those acts of aggression get away with it, in a decision that clearly trascends the domain of sports competition, some authorized representative of the aggrieved party has to step in and denounce it: And that’s not part of a coach’s role. Ditto about the outrageous refereeing: It reached a level that demanded a statement from an authorized voice in the club, more so if we keep in mind the role played by Madrid media on those issues.

      Some things reach a level that goes well beyond the role of a coach. Here’s where Laporta excelled: He stood up for the team and the club, offered himself as the target of any retaliation, and let the coach and the players go about their business of just playing football.


      Some personal impressions about Tata’s presentation (it’s been 68 mins. long).

      He was clearly overwhelmed during the first 15-20 minutes, but he put on a brave face. Then his bearing was more relaxed and natural. He sounds very modest but his words transmit good sense and resolve. I liked him.

      And something that is relevant to one of BfB’s conversations today. When asked what would he do to improve the team, he answered, with just a bit of diplomacy, that the team had to get back its pressing! 😉

    9. I think you’re right that such actions would have brought swift punishment from the League but even if it hadn’t I can’t really think of an incident where a chairman of a board has become involved. It is almost always done through the manager, at least in public.

  21. The new coach has just said we should press high up the pitch. Essentially he wants us to condense the playing field. Hope we are on for a good time!

  22. About Martino’s presser. I really really like him. He seems so humble and down to earth. Zubi was doing his thing too. Didn’t like that much hearing him say that they would have never want to pick another coach after Pep and after Tito, I get what’s he’s saying and I agree with him, but Martino was just there! 😀
    It seems that Martino is gonna shake up the team with pressing and intensity. I’m really looking forward to see this team. About his presser techniques he has to adapt to spanish press, they always want to get from you a polemical quote.
    About Masche’s presser. He is gonna be a great coach some day.
    I read something interesting from Kari’s twitter. I would post it but I don’t know if it is appropiate, I just joined in twitter a month ago. You should check it out either way!

    1. So many debatable points! But I won’t argue for or against them since I became fed up with Thiago’s soap opera much sooner that Kari.

      Just wanted to point that describing Sandro as «an advocate for Catalan independence» is a blatant, although understandable, mistake.

    2. Just wanted to point that describing Sandro as «an advocate for Catalan independence» is a blatant, although understandable, mistake.

      I think what Kari meant was referencing the notions of Catalanisme in which he cloaks himself, like unto a wolf among the sheep. I honestly don’t know that he gives a flying crap about anything except keeping power and paving the way for his post-presidential life. Hell, Pep Guardiola has mentioned independence and the struggle more than Rosell has, who probably thinks that talking about it will influence the loans he will be asking for from Spanish banks.

      I think that Kari gets all that, as well. She used to be a mod here, and understands those complexities, if I might be so bold as to speak for her.

  23. What Kevin wrote:

    “But the Thiago departure is symptomatic. To my view, the board cares about three things:

    – Building an unassailable power base, which allows …
    – Reelection
    – A new stadium…”

    is the exact same thoughts Euler has been patiently explaining on Twitter for weeks now. Many of the troubling events in the past weeks/end of season is due largely to the Messianic complex of Rosell, his desire to stay in power and to having himself “memorialized in history…[as] powerful men often love to build monuments to themselves” in the words of Euler. The sporting project has been subordinated to this overwhelming need.

    He posits that the team has been winning [players trying their best] despite the inefficiency/mismanagement since the focus of the club is to spin the narrative around how important profits are. That the Thiago, Abidal, Muniesa, Eusebio, Busi, Messi debacle are all but manifestations of the deep problems endemic in the club right now.

    I agree.

    So I find that focusing solely on Thiago as if he were the sole culprit in this drama [initiated by the club] is a narrow and misguided view of why there is drama in the first place.

    The club has not been stepping up to protect its players in the face of debilitating and false claims. See Busi, Messi.

    The club has not been taking care of its young talents as it should by providing them with a coach who recognize their skills and develop it. See Eusebio.

    The club has not been communicating properly with its players to inform them of their place in club and how they should plan their future. See Abidal, Muniesa. Thiago. Bearing in mind that players’ playing life are short and careful planning has to be done to make the most of it.

    The club has not planned well to ensure that its exceptional once-in-alifetime talents are maximized and that the club is able to compete at the highest levels against all competition. See lack of CB purchase for so many years now.

    As long-time fans of the club, it is frustrating to see all these. Yet we stand by the club and hope everyday they start doing the right thing.

    But many fans choose to look the other way and instead choose to level their hatred and criticism on easy targets such as a single player. So many careless use of words here. “Extortion?” How can a weaker individual possibly extort the rich, big, all-powerful club?

    First of all, a contract is drawn between two parties. All provisions mutually agreed upon. Ideally done so to approximate best possible protection and benefit for BOTH parties. In Thiago’s case, it was the club who wanted to pay him lower wages. In return, Thiago negotiated for variable buy-out based on minutes played.

    This was NO extortion. Thiago agreed to the lower wage, WHICH the club wanted, so he asked that he be given minutes to at least ensure his development. Perfectly reasonable. [Any person would have done so no matter what profession they’re in. Why would anyone agree to lower wages anyway?] The club could have ensured the buyout to be unreachable for many clubs but it didn’t. And in their own words, they profited by selling him. A mere “reserve.” Which goes to show his value to the club and how the bottomline was again – profit for the club.

    Many try to bring up Cesc in reference to this. Cesc was offered triple the salary at Arsenal, which he took. Thiago agreed to a lower salary than he should be getting even within Barca. He could have left as well to get more. But didn’t. He could also have left to captain another team. But didn’t. And yet many people do not see this and still force the comparison as if Cesc’s leaving for money and position was more admirable than Thiago staying for lesser wages and subordinated position.

    I find all this disconcerting.

    If anyone cares to see a fleshed out narration of events and how they’re inter-related, check out Kari’s

    Hopefully, this sheds more light to what is going on in the club right now.

    1. YES! Was going to link to the Kari Twitter rant. Glad that you did. Thanks. Don’t agree with all of it, but enough of it where my neck is sore from nodding. It will sound a lot like what folks like Euler, I and nzm have been saying for some time. Kari absolutely nails it.

      Also agree with your Thiago comments, and he gave me the opportunity to use “macguffin,” for which I owe him an eternal debt. I do think that if you let someone hang themselves, then tighten the noose, you have some culpability in the matter. Club screwed up, player took advantage to improve his situation, and everybody is happy except for cules and our coaches.

      And in defense (albeit half-hearted) of the Faus comments, just because I can’t believe that anyone could be that tone-deaf a git, I think he meant that “Boy, it sucks that we had to sell a player of such talent because we effed up, but it’s a nice bit of business, taken solely at face value.”

      Because I have to hope that the club I love so much isn’t in FACT being run by a passel of tone deaf, bottom line focused nitwits. Because if he DID mean exactly what he said, my contempt for him has reached a new level.

      Wait …. was that a defense at all? Ah, well.

    2. Faus was quite dumb to state that that way.

      Interpretation is done for vague/ambiguous statements or events where only half of the facts are known. That’s why so many people make things up in their minds, according to their own narrative.

      But man – Faus was clear and unequivocal. No room for interpretation there.

      As stupid a statement as anyone could ever make. Now everyone will say – no wonder Thiago left. Tsk

      Sorry to disappoint you Kevin. But your club is indeed run by “tone deaf, bottom line focused nitwits.”

      Whatever have we culés gotten ourselves into, huh?

    3. Weep! Weep!

      For me, the board hasn’t gotten much right this summer, but among them are signing Neymar, who meets a very real need, and the appointment of Martino.

    4. Interpretation is done for vague/ambiguous statements or events where only half of the facts are known. That’s why so many people make things up in their minds, according to their own narrative.

      You can’t be more right, Barcaleya. The bad news is that all of us are vulnerable to this. The main culprit is the so-called «confirmation bias», the worst cognitive bias there is because it affects reasoning itself, and being aware of its existence doesn’t lessen its power over us.

      It makes us search for evidence to support whatever we start off believing, to attend only to details that confirm our opinion, not to those that disconfirm it. And, in the end, it leads our reasoning to poor outcomes: not because we are bad at reasoning, but because we systematically strive for arguments that justify our opinions and our beliefs.

    5. Right. And your comment underneath is all I caution against. That we not take our own personal biases/narratives to the extreme – in light of incomplete facts/knowledge.

      As you said, the initial default for people is to complete their own thought process with their own bias when presented with an issue.

      What must be recognized firsthand is that one does not know all the facts [when he actually doesn’t]. When one does – it is fine to make the judgment. When one doesn’t, one will still judge (being human and all) but i was hoping one doesn’t go crazy expounding on that and shouting to high heavens and damaging other people in its course – since it was judgment made out of imperfect information.

    6. Thanks for your answer, Barcaleya. You’ll agree with me, though, that since none of us has all the information, all is just a matter of opinion, voiced with a more or less righteous tone, but a simple opinion like any other, after all.

    7. Yes. I agree we all voice out opinions. But what is a “simple”opinion? Do you agree as well that an opinion can be exaggerated and embellished way beyond the facts that one has and can support such opinion?

      I respect everyone’s right to voice their opinion. But opinion that goes towards accusation of people’s professionalism, morals, etc, said over and over, feeding ones and other’s people’s fire to frenzy is unacceptable to me.

      Why we had witch hunts in the past. And here I thought we’ve moved on to a more civilized world.

      But what do I expect when even the act of saying “thank you” is scrutinized and maligned….

    8. We have indeed moved on to a more civilized world (or at least until I accuse Messi of not running, then we’ll see).

      I do think that a point becomes like a bone, that is being worried by a dog. Chew, gnaw, marrow, bone, chew, gnaw …. the bone is gone, but the memory remains. That is the usual Internet debate.

      I have retired the crown of having people read things into my words that aren’t there. And trust me, it sucks. It’s why I only react to the words that I see, which is sometimes just as complex because of implied nuance, which really isn’t present in the typed word.

      I think that you both made excellent points. But I also think that at some point, as with Thiago, we have to say “Okay, that’s done.” Or as I am increasingly fond of saying on Twitter, “Let’s agree to disagree,” even though you two actually agree more than you DISagree.

  24. MEANWHILE, looking forward, I liked everything that Martino had to say at his presser. He wants to return to the press, and I love his comments about Messi and his position, which were essentially “Damn he’s good, but everything is up in the air right now, up to and including how he plays for this club.”

    Strikes me that we are going to see a bunch of tactical wrinkles that are going to be very cool.

    I won’t post up all the quotes here, but for those of you on Twitter, nzm (nzm_fcb) followed the presser, and put up all of the relevant quotes. @barcastuff also put some up, but it’s interesting how different those translations were, compared to other translations.


    Oh, he said that “for now,” Dos Santos is part of the club. Which explains that squealing sound that many of you probably heard, emanating from somewhere around Oslo, earlier this morning.

  25. Just to be precise: Thiago does not earn less in Bayern than in Barcelona. Nobody said that. He earns less than initially agreed with Bayern (to pay a part of the transfer fee).

    Reading some posts you get the impression that Barça just got relegated…

    1. Are you exaggerating?

      In case you’re not, I don’t see anything wrong with people sharing their views and disagreeing with each other. I notice that some of the readers here have said things that implied that this is an unhappy blog. But I don’t feel it that way at all. This space is for fans to share their views and just like in the real world, it’s unlikely that everyone will share the same opinion.

      If I was a mod, I’d rather see many people commenting and having a conversation back and forth about one particular topic rather than a few comments like how it is at times. It was quiet here for weeks up until a week or 2 ago. I’m glad that the traffic has picked recently.

    2. Btw, I guess Thiago’s transfer has similarities with sMasch and Cesc then by lowering the salary in order to get a transfer.

      I can’t imagine him accepting a lower salary at Bayern compared to his contract here at Barca when it was already pretty low.

    3. I would rather it was quiet here than to have the atmosphere that almost shut this space down, and has driven many regulars away, hopefully not for good.

      And that is speaking as a mod.

      The thing I would caution is an overreaction, by reading context into something that doesn’t contain it. Huckleberry isn’t suggesting that everyone agree. That would be boring. What the comment does suggest is something that I agree with, which is that from the talk about Thiago, you would think that Xavi or Iniesta had been sold.

      There is a situational exaggeration that I think has its roots in the deeper malaise affecting the governance of the club.

    4. Reading context into something that doesn’t contain it.

      Just another example of the confirmation bias at work. If we don’t find data that confirm our opinion, we just supply them ourselves, twisting the words of others if needed, so that the personal narratives Barcaleya pointed to don’t lose their coherence.

      This bias, and many others, are very powerful and, as I said, it’s been shown extensively that all of us are too prone to follow them. Anyway, albeit being aware of them and their power doesn’t immunize us against their effects, it does allow us to think twice before carrying things to the extreme.

    5. For this and various other reasons it is hard to communicate clearly over the internet.

      Often a misunderstanding of “tone” or “nuance” can lead to a negative reaction, which can lead to another negative reaction which can lead to a full blown argument.

      It’d be easier if we’d all be in a bar somewhere to watch the games together!!

    6. I imagine all of us in a bar watching the games together, and I can see more than a face —not mine, I rarely say anything during a game— splahed with beer!

      Verbal escalades can only occur between two immature persons. Things do not go further if only one of them puts a nice stop to it. And, frankly, I don’t see many immature people here (although I don’t know how things were just before the last crisis).

  26. BumperGraham Graham Hunter 51m

    The look telling this Sky Germany reporter that THREE questions about a row over an ill friend post match = too many

  27. Anyone else here worried about this Man United bids for Cesc?

    I feel that there is indeed a chance of him jumping ship. If not, why would Man United continuously making bids and let it be known to public? Cesc’s camp must’ve given an indication that Cesc is not settled to Man United.

    Or is this a way for Man United to reassure to their fans that they are trying to progress under Moyes? To show that they have ambitions.

    I feel the situation at Man United is similar to Arsenal where they are interested in big name players and do make bids but not really going 100% for it. More like a show to their fans that they are ambitious.

    1. I don’t know about that. I would think that if Cesc jumps ship this summer, especially now that we have sold Thiago, he will never be able to set foot on Catalan shores again, lol

    2. You like to exaggerate things a little, don’t you? 🙂 If that would happen, he’d be able to stroll through his Arenys de Mar rambla as always. If my memory doesn’t fail me, the only player really unforgiven by culés is Figo.

    3. Hahaha yes. I thought I wrote “I would like to think that…”, but in general Catalans are a civil people.

      My hometown, Rotterdam, is a lot more fanatical regarding its football team.

    4. So you’re from Rotterdam, fluent in spanish, french, english and can grasp catalan. Any chance you speak Dothraki or Valyrian (from Game of Thrones)? 😉

  28. Or is the lack of reaction here because of;

    a) No chance of him leaving or

    b) You guys don’t mind him leaving 🙂

    1. I wouldn’t have minded selling Cesc for say 50M and convincing Thiago to stay.

      Now that that boat has sailed to let Cesc go would be incredibly stupid.

  29. After good amount of thought, They is what i think happened with thiago:

    1-He wanted more playing time, Talked to tito, Tito said i can’t guarantee you any.

    2-Thiago decides to go to bayern

    3-In the mean time, He had day dreams about how our club will panic and throw everything at him to convince him to stay, Because in his head he knows he’s the best young prospect, But it doesn’t matter, Cause he knows not going to change his mind anyway, But would’ve loved the attention, Which correlates greatly with his cocky attitude, And guess what, His ‘signature’ in his goodbye letter, That speaks volumes about how he looks at himself, Anyway.

    4-The club didn’t do anything to keep him like he imagined will happened , A MASSIVE BLOW TO THE EGO for thiago, He’s in shock

    5-Continues his plan to move to bayern anyway, while still in SHOCK.

    6-He gets a strong back-lash on his twitter account from barca fans, Most of them being a ‘traitor’ and ‘ungrateful, A close person advise him to make some move to enhance his image.

    7-Thiago publish a goodbye letter, A PR move like expected.

    8-Talks to the press and accuse the club of not ‘valuing him’, Accomplishing 2 things, To shift the attention away from him and cool down the back lash from cules (A continuation of the PR move), And secondly, HE HAD TO GET IT OUT OF HIS SYSTEM, BECAUSE HE’S STILL IN DISBELIEF LOL.

    THE END.

    1. Such lovely fantasy in your head, Ramzi 🙂

      You just can’t get it our of your system cause you are still in disbelief.


    2. Umm that’s not Ramzi. Why would he comment here, which he has said he wouldn’t do, and when he has posted all his thoughts over at his blog?

    3. Although not that exaggerated, my preferred narrative of those events are, basically, the same as yours.

      And yes, that signature (doesn’t look handwritten, but more like a logo or a stamp) seems worth of study. I asked if there was a graphologist in the room, but no one answered! 🙂

    4. I haven’t written this ‘tongue in cheek’, Maybe tiny bit on point 3, But i’m quite serious on most of it.
      Who is ramzi??

  30. Didnt martino just say that cesc is not for sale for any offer and that if the club rejected the first 2 bids then i will reject the 3rd. The english media have not been stop talking about it since these quotes came out. You should see their faces, theyre absolutely shellshocked. I think theyve got the message because their transfer correspondent said that barcelona couldnt be any more clearer

    1. Yes, Salia. He said, almost literally, «The club said that he’s not on sale twice. So I say the same and now it’s three times».

    2. It wasn’t just Martino who said Cesc wasn’t for sale. In the presser, it was first Bartomeu who unequivocally said that Cesc wasn’t going anywhere. But most outlets quoted Martino.

  31. We previously talked about a player’s departure too didn’t we? Not so those that were at the end of their career like Keita and Villa but there was definitely a big fuss when Yaya was sold.

    It’s not like Thiago is the first. So why do some talk as if it is so negative to talk about it (Thiago)?
    And there has definitely no comment that to me warrants a mod to step in or driven long time readers away or from this space to be shut down.

    And how many times has it happened where you thought it was time to shut down the space? When was the last time? Not recently right..

    We know a lot of Cules here (me included hehe) are pessimistic about the club but there are also Cules who is pessimistic about this space. It’s not like we are or YouTube type of commentors. What is actually the ideal space (for those that complain about this space).

    Do you really prefer to have a quiet space? Like at the end of the season and up until 2 weeks ago? But doesn’t it feel nicer to have more readers on your page? If I were you, I’d feel happy to have a lot of traffic. Look at O…..e. It’s good stuff there but they just don’t have traffic and hence hardly any conversations. I would hate to see this site go quiet. I said this before many years back, I think you guys should merge.

    1. This space has plenty of traffic. We don’t need to push the boundaries of acceptable discussion just to increase clicks. (No, that wasn’t aimed at you or anyone in particular.)

      And no, we’re not merging with anyone.

    2. Oh, I’m not anyone in particular?

      Blitzen, you’re out of line! It’s on! Me and you, outside, now!


    3. By the way, I almost forgot it existed, but after thinking of it now, I only can sense good feelings. Did I miss something at the time, just before BfB was born?

    4. @barca96: Very recently, actually, in the interest of full disclosure. The space is still going to change in a rather dramatic way, in part as part of the Mod Sanity Preservation Program.

      I also think that saying that we aren’t as bad as Goal and other spaces, isn’t really part of the discussion for me. It’s like saying being stabbed is better than being shot. Well, yeah, but both suck.

      Things have improved dramatically. New blood has helped, as well as what seems to be a general, albeit unspoken decision to get BFB back to what it used to be: a family. Within a family, family members can disagree, but without ever forgetting that they are family.

      It’s noticed, and appreciated.

      A merge is never going to happen. We left The Offside to start this space, and the folks over there do a lovely job. They might not have a lot of commenters, but they have about a zillion Twitter followers, which means they are doing something right.

      @CuleToon: It’s fine to mention The Offside. They’re good people. Isaiah started what is now BFB back at The Offside. We grew into something that people kinda paid attention to, then chose to strike out on our own.

    5. We aren’t but at some point last season we weren’t a bazillion miles away from it either. You could pick up any post from 2009,10,11 and the comments section looked a whole lot cleaner, just at a glance (they still do).
      I’m glad the blog seems to be moving in a forward direction now though. Hopefully we can attract the main thing that made people come together as a family again: decent and sensible people, who add something to the conversation, not cheap trolls.

    6. Good comment, Ek – which I agree with.

      Although I do miss those Arsenal trolls. 😀

      And I really hope that you come back here more often.

  32. Cool story bro as the kids on Facebook say 🙂
    But I think that you’re not too far from truth though. But don’t forget that he was very close to joining Man United.

  33. Couple of points I don’t fully agree with in Kari’s post.
    1. Pep wasn’t kicked out, as he’s stated multiple times, and very clearly too. He wanted to leave, and so he did.
    2. Too much villainization (if that’s a word) of the board, which is more of a rant than a reality.

    Don’t want to get on the whole Thiago issue. I’m pretty ambivalent about that. Players come, players go. Boards come, boards go. The club will remain.

    1. It’s as if Rosell is the satan or something.
      I hate his stupid smile and I wholeheartedly disagree with many of his views about the club but I will never go that far to make him look like anything he does is crazy wrong.
      I am able to accept that he loves the club even if we don’t share the same views.

      Thiago was no saint and shocker: Guardiola not either.
      Thiago and Pep left and that was board’s mistake . It’s funny how yaya’s leaving for example, for similar fee was just a logical turn of events ;wanted more playing time. No board accused or whatever.

    2. You echo my views on Rosell, who is blamed for everything from bathtub ring to global climate change.

      I am, frankly, not sure that he loves the club as much as he loves having power and building a base from which he can continue to have power.

      But for all intents and purposes, the club is the team, and that team is being neglected, top and bottom, while other matters are being tended to. I think that is what doesn’t sit well with so many cules, myself included.

      It is indeed the extremes that can confuse and confound. Rosell is a weasel. But Thiago isn’t being controlled by any sort of evil svengali. And Guardiola ran this club into the ground, had a hand in the Ibrahimovic debacle, then fled to another posh assignment with a ready-made championship team. Yes, he brought a Treble, and trophies, and sonnets of joy and Coldplay. But he ain’t no saint.

      Nobody is blameless here, and I think that all we can do is analyze and try to provide some perspective.

      The Toure Yaya departure was funny, but different and the same. Both wanted more playing time. The differences are what fascinate in this situation, but let’s have a quick look:

      Playing time: Both wanted more, to be a part of the XI
      Agent: “Pond Scum” Seluk, Mazinho
      Situation: Behind Busquets, behind Xavi and Iniesta
      Fee: big money made, big money made
      Cule outrage: At Guardiola for not playing Yaya, at club for the contract and messing up the timekeeping
      Background: (ahhhh ….) Monaco, La Masia

      So there are differences, but the two situations are markedly similar. Recall that the departure of Toure Yaya was deemed as the end of the world. The only significant difference in the two situations, really, is the contract provision that wasn’t met by the club, for whatever reason.

    3. I recall people calling that he was our makelele. Hardly now, wasn’t he?
      The most astounding thing in this comparison is that Toure was a worldclass player with his best years ahead of him. Thiago is promise,potential and glimpses of a great player in the making.But many have been there and never delivered.

      I know some people thing only la masia is truly promise (for us anyway) and even if I too have the same warm feeling when a la masia graduate makes it into the first team ,I know it isn’t so.

      I wish cules were less cules sometimes. Too much pessimism expressed in so many different ways either it’s the board,or the squad, transfers ,tacticts , arrangement of friendlies , away shirt design, whatever.
      I am just waiting for the transfer to be over and then we can scrutinize their dealings as much as we want to,just give some time to the new coach. Oh and tito to recover

    4. One of Thiago’s agents is now Pere Guardiola. I would love to find out when that happened as a point in the timeline of the whole affair! But it’s moot now.

    5. Agree, Specially on the ‘villainization’ part.
      Before i make a judgment, I always try to put myself in the other person point of view and situation, In essence try and deduce why he made that particular judgment, For example when tito used to bench thiago or montoya in favor of others, Many quickly jumped and criticized, I tried to view things from his perspective and try to figure out why he made that call.
      The best and most recent example of ‘villainization’ is what happened with abidal, I thought the reaction was over the top from cules, And it was the first time i heavily disagreed with Kxevin about something, He and many others in opinion, viewed it only with black and white with abi, Renew for him ‘good’, No renew ‘evil’ or ‘We’re no longer more than a club’
      Like i always do i chose to look at things from their view and why would they made that kind of decision (The board), Not saying that they hadn’t done anything wrong, For example promising a renewal the first moment he plays was incredibly stupid move from their part and it’s something that must be counted against them, But in the end if they decided he’s no loner capable of keeping up with the standards required to be part of the squad, Then they shouldn’t renew, That’s my opinion anyway.

    6. It’s interesting. I wonder if, now, my reaction would be as strong. Good question. But my views on Abidal came from many levels:

      — Terrible PR
      — Broken promise
      — Use player as feel-good symbol then dump him first chance you get

      If the club wasn’t going to stand by its promise, then it shouldn’t have made it. An empty promise looks good in the pages of MD, but results in a player sitting next to the two men who are jettisoning him when he feels that he still has something to contribute to the team. That didn’t, and doesn’t sit well with me.

      You will also maybe not remember that the Abidal also looked at things from the club/board’s viewpoint. Many forget that piece wasn’t just a “this board sucks screed.”

      But ultimately, the club reneged on a promise made to a player, and a family member. Irrespective of one’s view on the matter, our club isn’t supposed to do that.

      I have come to do something that I never used to do, and that is separate club from team. They used to be one. But the club, that entity run by penny pinching, power mad twits, I have to separate from the team in my head.

      Villainization? Not to my view, which doesn’t mean I can’t call them out for poorly handled moments of tone deafness, such as Abidal. The Faus comment on Thiago is another one.

      Calling out the board/club on those incidents doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be balance, to my view.

    7. I didn’t mean villainization literally, What i meant is many viewed the two opposing actions as -right- and -wrong- with ‘abosolute’ morality pointing to only one direction, And now they see someone deliberately picking the -wrong- side, What type of people do that?, Villians.
      Whatever our points may be, We can all agree that promising the renewal in the first place was a mistake that they should be criticized and accounted for, But it happened, Now after a while for athletic reasons and medical reasons, They thought it wasn’t suitable for him to continue playing with us, Now what they’re going to do?
      Ignore all of that and keep their promise, Is that morally right?, What about breaking a promise?, Is that morally right?
      This type of ethical delimas happen sometimes with men in high power, From presidents of countries to football club ones, And i don’t think anyone envies them, I think there was no -right- and -wrong- decision with abi, Just a gray area, In the end what ever decision they chose, For me it will simply be a ‘decision’, Not a good or bad one.

    1. And he won la Copa América for Peru’s NT in 39′!
      Interesting read. The story here before he was signed as coach of our NT, says that Hitler’s government forced a rematch to fix Peru winning the match against Austria in the 36 Olympics.

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