Today is the first day of the rest of now, aka “These are pretty amazing times”

neymarxavi

Today is the day. The first day that our new coach, Gerardo Martino, will be in charge of our first team. It is also the first day of many, that I have to wrestle with not being in any way, shape or form mature enough to deal with a coach nicknamed Tata.

A lot has gone on this summer, and a lot will go on this year. We will discuss, harangue, vex and turn inside out many things that are going to happen in this season, things that didn’t, things that “if only.” We already have, right? Cules are seeing doom, and a defense that is certainly going to concede 47 goals per match, while its new coach is staring at the roster, staring at it again, smacking himself upside the head, staring at the roster again, and wondering what magic has placed him where he is.

“(PINCH!) Wow. Still here …. ”

And were I a genie who could grant wishes, my fondest wish for many cules would be contextual freedom.

Buddhist types have a saying, which is “be here now.” What does that mean, exactly? It’s more than a notion of being in the moment. It’s an aspiration that encompasses a view of life, an ability to say, for example, “This is the most wonderful hot fudge sundae that I have ever had.” Because it is. Might you have had better ones in the past? Maybe. But how can you be sure? In full mindfulness, you have what you have.

And so it is with our club. I think that we often consider players who are among the best of all time, or the best at their position, consider replacements and find them wanting. Duh. We look at an incredible lightning bolt of a season, and compare subsequent seasons to it, only to find them wanting. I struggle with this, which almost certainly explains my incessant, annoying “But looka what we just did,” like a child tugging at dad’s jacket hem and pointing.

We wonder why supporters of other teams consider cules to be a big ol’ passel of buttheads as we carp and moan about ONLY winning a Liga. But they’re kinda right. They would kill for something that we take for granted. A friend, who is a lifelong Chicago Blackhawks supporter, said to me the night that the Hawks won the Stanley Cup, “So this is how you feel all the time?” And it really, really made me think of how amazing our team is.

There is no Puyol replacement. There is no Abidal replacement. There is no Xavi replacement. So as we evaluate players and compare someone to say, the greatest controlling midfielder in a generation, anyone is going to come up short. We look at a defender prospect, then consider that unfathomable ball of hair, heart and desire that is our Capita, and say “Nope.” Yes, that is what supporters do, particularly when blessed with a collection of legends such as we have in our first team.

But this is even true of unproven legends, as Sergi Roberto is tossed into the smith’s forge named Thiago and deemed to be only worthy of pot metal rather than the finest sword. Neymar, for some cules, already isn’t good enough and he hasn’t played a minute with the first team yet, by a standard that is impossible to live up to.

I was watching that Confederations Cup final and highlights of Neymar’s tournament, and thinking about when the last time was that this club was able to sign a player like that, and I couldn’t. Those players usually go to other clubs. A cule who works in the cafeteria at my office, said that to him, Neymar was more like an RM player. And I knew what he meant. It’s a lightning bolt kind of player that usually goes for tons of money, who explodes onto the scene and doesn’t often consider our collection of PlayStation loving, mushroom farming, goat tending, grounded lot to be very much fun at parties. And I think “Wow, we got one.” I can’t really compare him to anything that we have or had, in part because of ignorance — we don’t know how he will be — but in part because he is what he is.

When Messi exploded onto the scene, he was just … Messi. Imagine if people had compared him to Ronaldinho, saying “Well, he’s a little fella and does pretty well, but look at what …”

We don’t get players such as we have but once in a lifetime, if we’re lucky. This moment, this crazy, unfathomable moment, has somehow been extended into years. This is remarkable, verging on absurd. In looking back at the Treble season, the year of a bazillion copes, the luck, timing, good fortune and all sorts of remarkable things that came together in the exact right way at the exact right time makes that year an unrepeatable wonder, instead of the template for which all successive seasons should be measured, and found wanting.

Bayern is experiencing that right now. They came across one of the best teams in history in the Champions League, at a perfect time, when it was hobbled and emotionally spent. Then its rival in the Final had a key injury, and another player whose head was turned by the thought of greener pastures. Remarkable.

Think back to those early chances that Ronaldo had in that first United CL final, ones that he usually converts, and how different that match, that season might have been had he converted those chances, had Eto’o not found that sliver of space to poke a ball past Edwin Van der Sar in a remarkable, match-turning sequence. That is easy to forget.

Last year’s team won a record-setting Liga, “but that stupid 100 points cost us Thiago, and Bayern beat us in CL. Compared to the Treble year ….”

For me, that doesn’t wash. It’s like a 50 year-old wishing he was 22 again, and comparing how he feels to that time. That comparison is always going to suffer. There is no Xavi replacement. There can’t be. What an absolutely astounding player. When Xavi leaves, the team will have to adapt to the skill set of the person who is playing that position. Likewise with Messi, Iniesta, etc.

There will not be another Messi. Not Neymar, not some kid toiling away in the Masia playground, not nobody. There can’t be. You get one of those a generation. Magic is magic because of the difficult to define state of wonder that it spawns.

So Neymar is Neymar. Sergi Roberto is Sergi Roberto. Cesc Fabregas is Cesc Fabregas. The real question becomes not what a player can do in the context of a colossus of the game, but what a player can do in his own context and how that ability and context fits the team’s requirements.

We have a remarkable battery of talent not only at the B level right now, but from what I can tell, at every level of the club, right down to those adorable little cutthroat Benjamins. Some of that talent won’t be deemed first team quality, some will leave because at a player’s given position, there is just too much talent standing between him and the brass ring.

As we continue on our journey as cules, it’s worth remembering that this collection of (somewhat, in some cases) home-grown talent is remarkable. At no other time in the club’s history has it been able to boast so many first team players, players among the best in the world, that have “Handcrafted with pride in La Masia” on their backs. We should be shooting off streamers and letting our chests puff out with pride.

Not every player that comes from La Masia is good enough to make it, despite the sparkling current production. Let them be what they are going to be, rather than looking at them for what we would like them to be, enjoy them if and when we get them, and have fun with this football club.

Success is a rare, glorious state of being. I think that is worth remembering as we embark upon another new season of joy, heartache, success and inevitable failure.

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Written by:

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.

204 Comments

  1. TITO
    July 31, 2013

    If we are actually trying to sign someone from Dortmund, we should go either for Reus or for Lewandovski (or both). I’m talking about the next season.

  2. Roberto Senyera
    July 31, 2013

    Kxevin,

    “But to say after two friendlies that Song is crap strikes me as too early to make a call. It’s like saying that the Sanchez we are seeing now will be the one we see the rest of the season.”

    I never said Song was crap after two friendlies. I never said that Song was crap, period. I said that I thought Song should never have been bought in the first place and that he’s not good enough to be a current FCB player. That doesn’t mean that I think he is a bad player. He’s a good player but not good enough for the current FCB. You speculated that he might have to be transferred after just two friendlies this year.

    I still believe in Sanchez and think that he brings a lot to the table. He will only get better in the next few years, imo.

    “The CB matter is completely unrelated to Song, but I fear that for too many cules, he will always be the guy we bought instead of a CB.

    The club didn’t buy a CB because it figured that with Puyol, Pique, Mascherano and Bartra, things would be okay. An unusual spate of injuries killed that notion.”

    I think that you’re either misremembering or are a revisionist historian. The club tried to get Thiago Silva last summer but were priced out of the market by PSG. The club should still have gotten a real CB and they were out there — they still are. Instead, the club was too clever for its own good and bought Song. The club most certainly told the fan base that Song was someone who could play CB. The club bought him with the intention of playing him as a DM and CB (if needed). In essence, we passed on a proper CB that everyone from Barcelona to Beijing knew that we needed this time last year and settled for a cheaper (or overly clever) solution to the dilemma and got Song. Hell, the club converted Masch from a DM to a CB. Why can’t we do that with Song?

    Also, this time last year everyone knew that Puyol always gets injured and that Bartra was untested. Therefore, relying on the four of Puyol, Piqué, Masch, and Bartra as your CBs was insufficient and it was foreseeable. There is no such thing as an “unusual spate of injuries” when current day Puyol is part of a set of four players for two spots. Be certain of one thing, Song most certainly was purchased as a fifth CB, if needed (but mostly as a DM). And he was needed, performed poorly as a CB, and that too was totally foreseeable since he had hardly any experience playing there. We got lucky with the Masch experiment as a CB. It’s folly to believe that that luck will always repeat itself.

    “This club has the money to buy any CB it likes. That it chose not to isn’t the fault of any player.”

    Well, yes and no. We couldn’t buy Thiago Silva last summer. The funds spent on Song, which I saw as unnecessary, could have been spent elsewhere (that’s the opportunity cost of Song). Those funds plus the funds received on the sale of Thiago would add up to a world class CB and we’d be a much more balanced team than we are now. That said, we still wouldn’t be able to get Thiago Silva since PSG aren’t a willing seller — at any price. Also, the club does have scarce resources. We can’t spend to the extent of EE and the petrol propelled FCs. It’s not the fault of Song that we didn’t get a proper CB last year, it’s the management’s fault. It’s more than high time that we get a real world class CB.

    We will just have to agree to disagree on the matter of Song. I realize that we will never see eye to eye on the subject. It’s not a personal attack. It’s a difference of opinion. No offence.

    • July 31, 2013

      For me, to say that someone isn’t good enough to play on the club that he is playing for, means that they are crap. Contextual crap perhaps, but crap nonetheless. My transfer bit was a bit of humor. I don’t use emoticons, so I can see how that might have gotten lost.

      I also think that “opportunity cost” is a misused phrase that has no applicability to this situation, for me. We could have afforded to buy Thiago Silva. But as with Javi Martinez, we shilly-shallied about while PSG came in with a cash, no-haggling offer. We tried to outsmart ourselves and got played. And Song continues to be the fall guy for a club decision.

      Song was purchased as a midfielder who could play CB in a pinch, rather than as any sort of a CB, fifth or otherwise.

      But at the time CBs were on the market, the club only had eyes for Neymar, so they slipped away. It’s safe to say that Laporta would have purchased any player that Guardiola wanted, no questions asked, but that is a different matter for a different president.

      I’m fine with agreeing to disagree. For me, the matter is more one of apportioning culpability where it should lay. Song improved quite a bit during the season, to the point where announcers, neutral observers and even (shudder!) some cules were complimentary of his play in the midfield. But he has regressed. Yes, it’s two friendlies, but he should watch that it doesn’t become a trend.

      But for me, Alba bothers me a lot more than Song, because he did a lot more damage to the club and its defense.

      • BA
        July 31, 2013

        but if, as you say, Song was purchased “as a midfielder who COULD play CB in a pinch”, he’s still a failure because we’ve seen that he’s not capable of playing CB, in a pinch or otherwise. i would agree that having a DM who can slot in at CB is a great option, but Song simply isn’t good enough to fill the role the club said he could play for us.

        so whether or not you think he’s a worthwhile option in midfield, i think we’re ALL in agreement that he can’t play as a CB, and we need more cover at CB, so Song does nothing for us there. we therefore have to judge him on his midfield play alone, and i think that Roberto is right that as a midfielder alone, he hasn’t shown that he’s good enough to deserve a place at Barça. i mean, Afellay was a midfielder who, i think it’s safe to say, showed considerably more aptitude and quality in his limited starts for us than Song, but it’s not enough for Barça and therefore he’s on the out.

        and i have to add that nobody is picking on Song as a person; there are plenty of footballers who are fantastic people but who just aren’t good enough to play for this exceptional team.

      • Spiza7
        July 31, 2013

        Mind you Abidal didn’t have a very impressive first few seasons, even in Pep’s first season in charge Abidal wasn’t showing much, and it was best left forgotten when he slotted in CB back then.

        So does that mean Abidal wasn’t good enough?

  3. simple_barcafan
    July 31, 2013

    JDS must be the happiest person in Barcelona right now…

    • simple_barcafan
      July 31, 2013

      And is he succeeds, boy!..that will be one hell of a statement to make…

      • simple_barcafan
        July 31, 2013

        if he*

      • July 31, 2013

        It’s definite, then? If so, hats off to JDS.

      • July 31, 2013

        It IS definite. Hats off to JDS, for real. I have a big grin on my face for him. Players often say things like, “I am going to stay and fight for a place on the team,” and it hardly EVER happens. But this is one instance where it has. Now he will have to repay that faith in him.

  4. July 31, 2013

    JDS tweeted:

    “I want to let you know with lots of joy that I’m staying at Barça. My dream of triumphing at Barça is now closer than ever!”

    “Thanks to the club and the coach for the trust they’re showing me. Visca el Barça!”

    (translations from @BarcaTheOffside)

    I’m honestly really happy for the kid. I have been one of the most vociferous about his foolishness in wasting a year sitting in the stands when he had clubs lining up to take him on loan–but I could never fault his cheerful attitude or hard work in training. Obviously Thiago’s departure has given him and opportunity, and his excellent performances in preseason games have impressed the new coach enough to give him a chance. I hope he grasps it with both hands and gives it his best shot.

    Carpe the crap out of this diem, Jona! Good luck!

    • Spiza7
      July 31, 2013

      I’m glad he is staying, but as far as we all know the amount of playing time he will be given this season will probably be very little. I’m sure he is definitely excited to stay but I hope he does not confuse trust with assurance to play.

      But Congrats to him for fighting for his spot, that’s what we all want to see. He has really impressed this pre-season, he shows a lot more assertiveness in his play which is very good to see.

    • alpinegroove
      July 31, 2013

      What excellent performances in preseason?

      I would say, at most, that he didn’t stand out in a negative way, unlike Song.

  5. teddy
    July 31, 2013

    This CB issue needs to be resolved asap. If my memory serves right, we still haven’t got any replacement for Valdes either, right? God knows how much we are going to be bullied by next transfer market if we need to buy both CB and GK. Don’t think we are in negotiation position either.

  6. KEVINO17
    July 31, 2013

    Why is everyone so critical of Song after two pre-season games. He’s been OK. Nobody is fully fit and he’s trying to organise a team that has lots of unfit players who are trying to mesh. Not an easy job for a defensive midfielder. He’ll find it a lot easier when Xavi and Iniesta are back.

  7. KEVINO17
    July 31, 2013

    Oh, yes, and all this Song shouldn’t have been bought stuff. He is a wonderful defensive midfielder and Busquets can’t play 60 games a year in that slot. Indeed, Busquets gets injured and buying Song for 18 mill was it, will look like an act of genius.
    Further, I hope Song will start playing in the CM slot (when Xavi isn’t available – or even when he is), where he should give our forward press a lot more solidity.

    • Spiza7
      July 31, 2013

      You do have a point, weighing up Song as a squad player he has been pretty good so far. It is very rare for players to have a smooth first season with us and he had a pretty decent one. We’ll wait and see how he goes this season, 3 pre-season games mean nothing.

  8. July 31, 2013

    Jonathan Dos Santos, you are a hero.

    A young Xavi once almost went to Milan had it not been for his mother. Are we seeing a repeat, this time it’s JDS’ Perseverance at play.

    Am I on drugs? may be.

  9. simple_barcafan
    August 1, 2013

    Sorry to come across as one who is beating a dead horse, but when people talk about Thiago, why isn’t his defensive frailties questioned closely?..Besides his occasional mistimed passes at dangerous positions, he never(or rarely) used to track back..and i haven’t seen him press or tackle as much as others do…Aren’t that also fundamental to Barcelona’s philosophy?..His magical feet and wonderful passing skills mask some of the lesser but essential qualities..

    anyway this topic keeps popping up, like someone who is not yet gotten over his beautiful ex who is hooked up with his best friend who split up with him a year ago..

    • August 1, 2013

      I do agree with one thing. Let’s stop talking about Thiago. Let’s concentrate on JDS and Roberto.

      • August 1, 2013

        This ^^

      • August 1, 2013

        No! Let’s keep beating that horse until it’s good and dead, then boil it down for glue, then use that glue to coat the stamps we will use on our letter of complaint to Rosell & Co. 😛

  10. August 1, 2013

    I don’t like that JDS is staying.
    Some may see it as patience being rewarded, others might see JDS’ and Sergi’s patience being talked up as a slap on the now departed Alcantara. But I see it as a ‘Bleh’ / ‘meh’ type of player hogging a really important position which has recently undergone a huge loss of talent. I’d like strength in depth, rather than just ‘meh’ depth.

    • August 1, 2013

      First off, I don’t believe that any position on the club has undergone a “huge” loss of talent. That would happen if Xavi or Iniesta, etc. left. Such a thing hasn’t happened. A talented substitute has left the club because he wasn’t talented enough in context to NOT be a substitute. We should understand the situation for what it is as we discuss it.

      Martino needs two things to adequately implement his system, and one of them is bodies. That’s a basic one. If you look at how the B players showed against Bayern, it’s clear that the FCB system doesn’t actually NEED superstars to work. It helps, sure, but the system is the beauty of the thing.

      Also, we don’t know how Martino wants to utilize the players that he has. It’s clear that he has a purpose for Dos Santos who, it should be said, has shown very well in preseason. We will find out in a few weeks what that purpose is.

      But for me, Thiago is gone, and that’s that. I really like what Sergi Roberto is bringing to the club defensively, and with movement. He’s also a very physical player, which is of value considering the way that teams are playing us. Dos Santos is a solid, talented possession player. That, too, is of value, and brings something of value to the club. What’s not to like about that?

      It is more than patience being rewarded for me. It is a player working his ass off to improve, and be good enough to impress a new coach and earn a spot on the team. Dos Santos isn’t being kept as a mascot, or because he’s charming. He’s being kept because the coach of the best team in the world thinks that he has a place on that team, for the purposes that he has in mind.

      Those purposes will probably be different from those of his predecessors. So now we will see what those tactics and purposes are.

      • Rami
        August 1, 2013

        If martino is going to bring back the insane pressure we used to have, He’ll need the most amount of bodies he can get (Rotation), And young hungry ones are the most suited for that purpose.

      • KEVINO17
        August 2, 2013

        Kxevin – totally agree. Martino has said he’s going to do a lot of rotation, which means he’ll need lots of fresh legs to throw onto the field (mixed metaphore). The great advantage of a player like dos Santos is also that if Martino gives him a role, he will run through a brick wall trying to fulfill it. Martino won’t have have to worry about superstaritis.

    • August 1, 2013

      I think you have to get over the Thiago loss as quickly as possible. It’s kind of strange, Thiago was the possible star of the future not one of the irreplaceable stars we had. Why this much grief. If Thiago goes someone else will take his place. It’s not like after Thiago there is only Armageddon.

      Why people are making a meal of JDS situation? Just imagine he was a down right outcast last year but still stayed, always said that he wanted to play at Barca and wanted to stay here. No one gave a damn about that. Now he is staying and looks like Tata has promised him serious time also. Salute the sheer guts man.

      And it’s not like JDS is an average player. He is above average. Its like the club rated Thiago higher. The club has its reasoning for it. But JDS is a good player, with a different style. Give him some time. He will do well. Also remember he is more defensively organised than Thiago. It has it’s plus and minus. Wanna see the plus, see all the goals in the German super cup. Two of BVB’s goal came after Thiago carelessly gave the ball away.

      • BA
        August 1, 2013

        Thiago wasn’t just a possible star of the future, he was an exciting, dynamic player that many people were actually looking forward to seeing play and integrate themselves into our midfield. i for one was actively looking forward to watching him develop in our system.

        there is no such anticipation with Sergi Roberto (who i confess to knowing nothing more than the name a couple of weeks ago), or with Jonathan dos Santos who has NEVER impressed me on one single occasion. he comes in, keeps the ball ticking over, but little else; no goals, no assists. he seems like a nice lad and i applaud his commitment but how much of his patience was biding his time and how much was due to him not being good enough to force his way into the team?

        he’s certainly a downgrade from Thiago, in a very crucial position.

        as for the charge that Thiago “gives the ball away too much”, well, he’s still quite young and because he’s a dynamic player will attempt things maybe he shouldn’t. that’s to be appreciated in a young player; i’d rather have interesting, very talented players who from time to time lose a ball (Leo Messi? Neymar?) than less talented players who never lose a ball because they never try anything interesting (Jonathan dos Santos?).

      • August 1, 2013

        From time to time? Messi loses the ball more than anyone else on the team. Usually when he is trying to dribble through three defenders.

      • August 1, 2013

        Thanks BA. You’ve saved me some typing effort.

        I knew I shouldn’t have brought up Alcantara in my comment which was only suposed to be about JDS being a part of the first team because I suspected this is a sensitive subject that people love to jump on. Truth is we lost a damn good player because of a lot of stupidity. (see kari on thiago and balls of yarn) I have already moved on from his departure.

        JDS is and has been hogging on a position which is hugely important for Barca’s play – The Midfield. It is a space which cannot accommodate even Mascherano in it. Its almost like suddenly JDS has become a damn good player. I love how people here have such fleeting beliefs. Poor JDS has been bearing the brunt of countless jokes, now he gets a defense thats worth envying.

      • August 1, 2013

        I don’t read that people are defending JDS as much as the idea of dismissing a player for one that, as BA notes, was also still developing. Dos Santos might blossom with more time. Sergi Roberto is blossoming faster than I think any of us anticipated, with the two best chances vs Bayern, a goal, fine control and excellent movement.

        Everyone knows Thiago. Now he’s gone. Nobody really knows Sergi Roberto and he, like JDS, should get every bit as fair a shot, even though they weren’t as heralded as Thiago. Because, depending upon what Martino has planned, they might turn out to be every bit as effective as Thiago.

        That strikes me as more the point of the Dos Santos (and to a lesser extent Sergi Roberto) points that some have made.

        I would add that Dos Santos hasn’t really been hogging a position, because he hasn’t been playing until this preseason. As for him suddenly becoming a “damn good player,” long-term, who knows? But someone who knows a whole lot more than any of us deems him worth the risk, and that’s good enough for me.

      • August 1, 2013

        If I am not mistaken JDS was given a shot before Thiago, but later got leapfrogged. I still remember JDS’ debut (as a starter) against Villareal 20 the ’09-’10 season and how the Camp Nou applauded his every touch on the ball… until he got subbed off at half time because the team as a whole wasn’t playing badly.

        I root for any player representing our colors to play well.

      • August 1, 2013

        First of all Thiago is gone and Roberto has come in for him and did well with whatever chances he was given. The new coach believe that he need more players and ask JDS to stay. Now suddenly how is that hogging an important position? He will not play if he is not good enough in the eye of the coach. And he is staying because the coach has a purpose of him. You may prefer a guy who does fanciful stuffs and be careless. But the coach may not.

        Mascherano cannot get into the midfield because he is completely inept in doing the Busquets role. As far the jokes on JDS were concerned, it happened mainly because of his insistence to stay at the club when the club was trying to get rid of him. He may have his reason for it. Just because you don’t rate a player highly, you can’t say that he will be less successful.

      • Spiza7
        August 1, 2013

        I think we have enough interesting players in our squad as it is. Just because a player doesn’t do tricks or doesn’t make risky moves doesn’t mean they should be judged that way. Look at Busquets as a prime example, during the 2009 CL final he played a simple game where he made very little mistakes, it was probably his best performance that year.

      • August 2, 2013

        1) I love Sergi Roberto. Industrious and talented. I have followed him ever since Pep introduced him in that heated 2nd leg CL semi final against EE at the Bernabeu.

        2) I just don’t rate JDS. It’s my personal opinion. I feel he adds nothing new to a midfield that has xavi, iniesta, busi, roberto and cesc – ALL from La Masia.
        I don’t like his face too. But it’s just my opinion. It has nothing to do with his talents, because I am not blind enough to not spot it, if it was there. I’d prefer some strength in depth, especially in positions like MF and Forwards. Bodies, I’d like in defense. I have made that point before too. The last time we had bodies/numbers to fill up the squad, we had bojan, jeffren and literally no one to come off the bench to strike fear into anyone. Just my personal views.

        JDS may yet prove me wrong and I’d be delighted.
        I would however hate to have to say ‘told you so’.

  11. August 1, 2013

    Neymar just had a presser, in which nothing at all happened. No interesting questions, no interesting answers, no nothing. FYI.

    • August 1, 2013

      So you felt compelled to make a comment in which nothing of interest happened? 😉

      • August 1, 2013

        Hush, chile. That was just for the record, in case someone popped in to say “Hey, La Neymarrr had a presser, and there’s nothing about it here! You guys suck!” So I’m thinking ahead and stuff.

        Neener.

    • August 1, 2013

      They should have asked about his girlfriend. That would have made it interesting, may be.

      • August 1, 2013

        I was thinking someone should have asked him how Neymar Sr. is spending that 40m.

  12. Alex
    August 1, 2013

    On the JDS topic, I remember reading a SPORT article saying that one of Tatas new strategy’s was going to be more efficient long shots from outside the box (who knows if Sport is making this up though). I recall JDS have a hell of a long shot, powerful and precise. If we can get a few good young midfielders (or any player for that matter) taking cannon shots from outside (Adriano anyone?), and get teams to respect those players, this would open up the passing game around the box immensely.

    • Jim
      August 2, 2013

      I suspect JDS will find it hard to score many , even long range, from the bench.

      All Tata is doing, imo, is being cautious to make sure he has cover. He won’t see many minutes. He is a tidy enough player but isn’t going to replace any of those in front of him and I doubt if he’s a go-to player if you need a change from the bench. When(if?) the new CB comes we also have Masch who’ll be scraping about for minutes ( behind Pique, Puyol, new boy and with Bartra and Adriano to get minutes as well ) and might get them in midfield if we need to tie down a game without Xavi. If we need a game changer I’m thinking even Sergi Roberto will probably be ahead of him. If you’re small you have to have something special about you. No harm to him, though. As someone else said above, once they play in the colours we want them all to do well.

      • August 2, 2013

        If Martino is truly going to commit to a rotation policy, there should be opponents and other cup matches in which Dos Santos is more than capable of doing the job.

  13. mohit
    August 1, 2013

    Tello extended his contract to 2018 and the buyout has been raised to 25mil Euros. (official)

  14. August 1, 2013

    The question now is what will happen to the two assistant coaches, Jordi Roura and Rubi? Roura may not have been exactly what we needed as head-coach last season when Tito was ill, but he didn’t do a terrible job either, and he has been an invaluable assistant to both Tito and Guardiola over the last several years. The players like and respect him, and he represents some much-needed continuity. He knows the team and the training methods inside and out, and Tata would be foolish not to rely on him.

    On the other hand, Rubi was brought in at the express wish of Tito himself and had just signed a contract with the club. If Tata decides for whatever reason he is surplus to requirements (maybe Tata wants to bring in some of his own staff, for example), the club would have to buy out that contract. I admit I don’t know anything about Rubi except that he did a great job with Girona last season, and apparently there are plenty of people at FCB who rate him highly. It would be great if he could stay on. (Too bad we can’t fire Eusebio and put Rubi in charge of the B team, to be honest.)

    • August 1, 2013

      Yes, I am wondering about that, too.

      The terrible twins said they would announce it last Monday, but here we are, still waiting. I think Tata brought an assistant with him and a professor, err, physical preparation coach, right?

      • August 2, 2013

        Read in MD (for whatever that’s worth) that Roura is a mess, and so close to Vilanova that he’s probably going to be moving on, and Rubi will be retained. I imagine that was all part of the negotiation.

  15. andrecito
    August 1, 2013

    psyched for the gamper!..anyone know if the spain internationals + d. alves are available?

    just read this on totalbarca…

    “As reported originally by Brazilian football publication Lance!, Barcelona has secured the right to purchase of forwards Gabriel Barbosa Almeida (16), Victor Andrade (17), and Givanildo “Giva” da Silva (20) for a combined total of €7.9 million.”

    i just youtubed givanildo since he’s the oldest…and all the videos compare him to neymar…hmmm…i wonder if he’ll be playing in the gamper..

  16. CuleToon
    August 2, 2013

    .
    A real Gamper after so many years! Before we could watch on TV all pre-season «matches» against any fourth-division team from whatever country —specially northern— at which Barça was doing the then so-called «pre-season stage», socis watched the new team of the season in action for the first time during the Gamper Trophy, which, until 1966, was played by four teams on two consecutive days. The atmosphere in those Gampers was incredibly festive and, since Barça won it almost each season, socis always faced the new season full of an optimism that was expressed in the catchphrase, «Aquest any, sí!» (This year, yes!).

    So, after those many years we’re going to see in action, for the first time, this season’s team, specially the Messi-Neymar duo. As most of you, I can’t wait to watch it!

    Since the international players arrived just a week ago, I only expect to see a full first team in one of the halves. Anyway, we’re going to be in for a treat!

    • Rami
      August 2, 2013

      This is the first time i’m this much psyched for gamper, Perhaps because for the last 4-5 years, there hasn’t been major changes to our team from season to season.
      Now we have the biggest ‘next’ talent in football, And a brand new ‘kind’ of coach, I can even further say, That martino has a bigger share of the excitement for me than neymar, But not by much.

    • barcadan
      August 2, 2013

      I’ll be there too! way, waaaaay up in the stands. looking forward to seeing the dynamic duo in action!

  17. barca96
    August 2, 2013

    I read that a member of the boy band group One Direction was signed by a 2nd division English club. Not bad for a person who is busy singing and traveling most of the time. One thing I don’t like is that he only joins whenever he is available. That’s quite unfair to the lads who are actually looking ai it as a full time job and actually needs a salary.

    • Jim
      August 2, 2013

      He sings ?

      🙂

      • barca96
        August 2, 2013

        I guess so.. 😆

  18. CuleToon
    August 2, 2013

    .
    Tonight, and only tonight, you’ll see a special typography for numbers and names on the shirts of Barça players. It’s a typography named «Anna», which is based on the handwriting of Anna Vives, a girl with Down syndrome aged 28.

  19. CuleToon
    August 2, 2013

    .
    And, today, on the shirts of all Barça goalkeepers you’ll see the name «Ramallets» in honor of the recently deceased Antoni (pronounced «Antóni») Ramallets. In «Anna» typography, of course.

  20. CuleToon
    August 2, 2013

    .
    Also, JDS won’t play tonight because of a small injury. So, the list of players for tonight is: Pinto, Valdés, Oier, Alves, Montoya, Piqué, Bagnack, Mascherano, Song, Bartra, Alba, Adriano, Busquets, Sergi Roberto, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, Alexis, Neymar, Messi, Cesc, Dongou and Dani Nieto.

    No Samper… @#!

    • K_legit in Oz
      August 2, 2013

      Bagnack gives me a lot of hope!

      • CuleToon
        August 2, 2013

        He’s barely 18, and although he’s been just promoted to Barça B, he played about 15 mins for Barça B last season.

        Since BarçaTV is repeating right now the match against Lechia, I’ll watch him more closely!

  21. ciaran
    August 2, 2013

    So Rosell confirmed that we will be adding to the squad before the end of the month. I assume that the delay is because we are trying to sign David Luiz. If we were negotiating for someone cheaper I’d imagine that it would be done already as is normally the case.

    It’s getting to a point that I almost don’t care who the player is cos anything is better right?… not really. Our system is a complicated one and if we have to spend more than a certain player is worth but will work in our system I’d prefer it than to buy someone cheap who won’t.
    I want to see someone standing in front of our crest soon though.

  22. nia
    August 2, 2013

    Where can I watch player presentation before the gamper game?

    • nia
      August 2, 2013

      Thanks 😉

  23. K_legit in Oz
    August 2, 2013

    No post/thread for the gamper?

  24. August 2, 2013

    Match comments post up.

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