In a league of our own, as two are not enough

a league of our own

 

One of the more peculiar problems faced by countries throughout the developing world is called the “talent drain”. Both young and not so young people who have enjoyed higher education and/or are performing specialized jobs are increasingly lured abroad to countries where things like inflation, homicide rates or lack of asphalted roads don’t get in the way of one’s hopes and aspirations.

Off go the brightest and smartest: health care workers, engineers, economists, researchers, professors, journalists, businessmen, and so on ad nauseum. Some don’t even leave for a “better” job. That middle-aged Bangladeshi who delivers your groceries might very well have been a veterinarian back home, and the gentleman who answers your billing questions after your cell phone company shafted you used to be an editor at one of Mexico’s bigger newspapers.

And while the pursuit of happiness is an undeniable and fundamental human right, the countries that depend on these people to improve their suffering economies, inadequate infrastructure and miserable health care systems are left to do less with less.

In similar fashion Spain, which, crisis not withstanding, cannot in any shape or form be considered a developing country, has suffered a significant talent drain of its own over the last few years. If you are young, moderately to very talented, and desire to win big and shiny things and/or earn a lot of money by kicking round black and white objects into football nets, more often than not your best option for success is to leave Iberian shores and fulfill your dreams abroad.

The list of footballers who have abandoned La Liga over the last three years is nothing to scuff at. It includes (but is not limited to) men like, Juan Mata, David Silva, David De Gea, Michu, Radamel Falcao, Sergio Aguëro, Javi Martinez, Santi Cazorla, Joaquin Sanchez, Fernando Llorente, Gonzalo Higuain, Raúl Albiol, José Callejon, Jesús Navas, Álvaro Negredo, Iago Aspas, Marc Muniesa, Andrés Palop, Roberto Soldado and, last but not least, our very own Thiago de Alcántara. Then there are the ones who made the jump in previous seasons, like Fernando Torres, Pepe Reina and Mikel Arteta, or those who are simply on loan in foreign leagues, like Bojan Krkic, Isaac Cuenca and Gerard Deulofeu. The staggering amount of talent that has left the Spanish league could easily form a Champions League challenging squad. And probably another one to win the Europa League.

And it is not just about the players that don’t stay. It is also about the ones that don’t come. The biggest problem is that the Liga’s selling clubs cannot afford to reinvest the transfer fees in their squad, as they are forced to use significant sums of their earnings to service their debts, the total of which runs in the billions. Atlético Madrid sold Falcao for a reported sixty million euros (of which a large part went to the company who owned the rights on the player – food for another article altogether) and replaced him with a hopefully not over the hill David Villa for around two million. Of the hundred and thirty million Valencia have received for selling their crowd favorites year after year they have used about a fifth on replacements.

Of course, if you are very to extremely talented at kicking round black and white objects into football nets and would really like to hear the crowd yell ¡olé! while doing so, you might get offered another option altogether: a move to one of the two European powerhouses still standing on the block, Fútbol Club Barcelona or Real M*drid, institutions where big money and pretty shiny things are pretty much guaranteed. And when I say standing on the block I really mean towering over it and putting all the other little houses in the shade.

Without having the facts at hand (cough, no self-respecting writer does research anyway, cough) I would wager that most summers, together with RM, we outspend all the other teams in the league combined. And we don’t just take the cream of the foreign crop either. In the last three years, Barça relieved Valencia from David Villa and Jordi Alba. And in 2008 we bought Dani Alves and Seydou Keita from Sevilla, while later addding Adriano Correia. Our rivals put their great white hopes on Sergio Canales, before letting him rot in the stands, and went on a domestic shopping spree this summer in which they picked up Isco, who has a dog named Messi, and Illaremendi, whose beautiful name will bask in capital sunlight (see what I did there?).

Indeed, “ungrateful” canteranos aside, we and that other team sure think alike. We are drainers, not drainees, so to speak, always buying more of the exceptional, to the point that we have become two giant peas in an pod that is about to burst. It is true that we have always been bigger, richer and more handsome than the rest. Our stadiums and trophy cabinets can attest to that. It is the logical consequence of being the major teams of the two major cities in Spain. But at least we faced competition. We didn’t win leagues with 100 points. Our forwards did not break scoring records every single year. Draws did not feel like season-threatening defeats because of knowing that it could take months for the other team to drop a point or three. And third- placed teams did not lose the title challenge on the first jornada.

The last nine league championships were won by either the good guys (6) or the bad guys (3). Ain’t no other guy in the picture – maybe a dark horse or two, upon whom the light shined for a quick second before it got tired and bowed out of the race. We also won three Champions League titles during these nine years. To be completely honest, if we continue at this ratio, I don’t really care about the rest. Their mismanagement is not our problem and nor is it our fault.

Valencia built half a stadium and can’t sell the one it has. There are plenty of sponsorless shirts that refuse to contribute to the salaries of the players wearing them. Various clubs in the league are beyond the brink of bankruptcy. They would be better off with chimpansees on their director chairs. Why should we share more TV money with those morons? They’d squander their newfound riches faster than I can say dumbass.  Why don’t they find their own banks who never ask for their money back?

Besides, we have to compete with juggernauts like Bayern Munich, PSG, Chelsea, Manchester City and United. I believe Arsenal have set themselves up to be a force within five years, too. In addition, renegotiating the TV rights means that we lose financial ground vis-à-vis M*drid, because they receive more income from other sources than we do.

But also consider this. How great would it be if Valencia could have built around a core of Mata, Silva, Villa, Soldado, Rami, Matthieu and Jordi Alba? If Atletico added a star signing every summer instead of lose one? If Pellegrini had brought Navas and Jovetic to Málaga instead of Manchester? And that’s just the coolness factor. What we really should be asking ourselves is: “Where is the limit?”

Do we want to end up playing in a league where we win every game with three to four goals? Would that be fun on a weekly basis? Will the lack of competition finally bring down the quality of the top two teams, and will we suffer in Europe as a result? I know neither answer nor solution to the questions I ask. I suspect that a more equitable partition of TV-rights is inevitable, but I think that the problem runs deeper.

What I do know is the following. The talent drain is one characteristic of the Third World. Out of control debt is another. The hallmark, however, is the gaping gulf in wealth and opportunities between the haves and the have-nots. Just what that says about a league which only one of two teams will win again this season, I leave up to you.

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selfie barça Written by:

Culé since way before football boots were of the neon yellow and lizard green variety, Levon is a deep thinker with increasingly shallow thoughts. He lives in Barcelona with his gorgeous wife and daughter. The lucky bastard...

459 Comments

  1. barca96
    August 4, 2013

    Great timing for this article. This topic is always hot during the past few summers.

    Obviously the big 2 don’t want to share the tv money equally but what I would do if I was Rosell or Barca for that matter, is to share a bigger piece of the money slowly, little by little every summer.

    I don’t have the exact amount of tv money with me in hand and don’t really have time to look for it as I’m about to break fast but let’s say it’s;
    50% – Barca & Madrid
    50% – 18 other teams

    The big 2 could reduce their share by 5% each year until it’s equal. Do it slowly so that the big 2 has time to prepare the day they will be on equal footing. It’s not fair to the rest of the La Liga teams but it’s at least fairer than the current set up.

    • selfie barça
      August 4, 2013

      It should never be completely equal, as Barça and M*drid simply generate a lot more interest from viewers (and income).

      I think that one of the things they are talking about is that we are prepared to deal for TV rights collectively but only if with the new deal we don’t earn less than we are earning right now.

      Another problem is the feeling that the other teams are run so badly that all the money in the world is not gonna make a difference.

      • barca96
        August 4, 2013

        Agreed with everything. Madrid and Barcastuff do deserve a bigger portion however not to such extent as it is now. The big 2 in my eyes has to reduce little by little.

        Money mismanagement is indeed a big problem.

        But why do the authorities punish those with financial troubles instead of helping them (Deportivo & Malaga springs to mind).

        • dl
          August 5, 2013

          The approach U.S. football has used has been very effective at evening out the playing field. The league shares all broadcast revenues equally among all teams, and there are strict gross salary caps (totals for the team). The result has been that it is extremely difficult to repeat as super bowl winners, with very different matchups each year. The attitude that team x should get more money because more people like them falls apart when you consider team x is of no interest without worthy opponents. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

      • August 5, 2013

        Thank you for this post Levon, it was high time.

        Being an Indian, where we think ‘brain drain’ is our major problem, only next to poverty and other issues, I feel sorry for la liga. The loss of talent, this season, is terrible. Liga lost some of the best players this year.

        I think Real and Barca will still manage well, even if they accept a cut on the present TV share. It is really disgusting that many of the players dont even get their normal wages, even while they are competing with the worlds best.

  2. 86ed
    August 4, 2013

    The economic inequalities within the league will lead to stagnation and then rot for the top two teams, but it will only show, at first, in the CL. It already begun last season with heavy defeats away for both us and Real.

    Since they cannot go for first-place rewards, smaller and poorer clubs have to buy cheap and sell for as dearly as possible; indeed, they will grow the crops and export to the highest buyer, as in la Real’s case. This means that 18 out of the 20 league clubs will be run, eventually, in a self-sustained manner, but with only tangible hopes for trophies. Essentially, this inequality will keep driving the transfer prices higher and higher, as the poor have to charge as much as possible and the rich will feel pressed to spend as much as they can. People like Wenger will complain (even though he would do the same thing that Levy is doing at Tottenham, and despite the fact that he held out sa long as possible for Fabregas’ transfer), not knowing, or ignoring, that they are part of the problem too.

    Long story short, I think it is vital that the revenues are evenly split between contenders. It has to start now. Not later, not next year or the next after that. Now. This nonsense going on right now will destroy both the haves and the havenots.

  3. CuleToon
    August 4, 2013

    .
    With the exceptions of Barça, RM, Athletic and Osasuna, the rest of spanish football clubs are corporations since the 90’s.

    According to Wikipedia, the joint debt of all 1st and 2nd division clubs in 1992 was 172 mill. euro. Today, it is about 5 bill. euro. One of the main problems has been that, although anyone could be a shareholder of any club, most clubs ended in the hands of wealthy local people which saw in them an opportunity to make easy money because, according to the special law for those «sporting corporations», they had limited responsibility, which means that they only had —and still have— to take responsibility for any debt with the capital they invested, not with their personal assets.

    So I’d say that a more equitable partition of TV-rights would solve nothing in terms of having a competitive league unless it was mandatory that a minimum —and big— proportion of the money thus gained be invested in players. Anyway, it is too late now, since any money made would have to go to cover that appalling debt.

    On the other hand, I’d say that the dominance of a few clubs over the rest of a given domestic league has spread already to many other countries in Europe, specially with the appearance of more and more bored billionaires.

    So I think that, in the end, there will be a full-fledged European Football League which will be either closed, or above the domestic leagues as a kind of super first division.

  4. August 4, 2013

    Nice post Lev. The talent drain from the Liga is a huge cause for concern and those amazing talents that you mention are a significant loss for the league and its competitiveness. 100 point league wins, records broken like candy, 25 point difference between 2nd & 3rd are alarming symptoms of a league clearly going all wrong. Add to all this, we also have THE MOST incompetent and disorganized bunch of jokers running the league. The LFP is totally incapable of solving a lot of the issues the league currently faces, talent drain and economic inequality being some of them.

    On another note,
    It may be dangerous to put numerical expectations on an upcoming season. Pointless too, but quite fun when indulged.
    Pep’s last year – one that I remember in which many goals were scored, reads 190! Goals scored, against just 48 conceded.
    I thought about what in my mind would be an ideal kind of goal distribution across the team. I guessed that we should ideally match or perhaps exceed Pep’s numbers mentioned above, considering the quality of forwards we have and more favourable circumstances (villa freak injury).
    It’d look something like this.

    Goals scored in all competitions:
    Messi +57
    Neymar +23
    Pedro +22
    Alexis +18
    Tello +15
    Cesc +15
    Xavi +10
    Iniesta +10
    Adriano +6
    Alves +6
    Pique +4
    Dongou +3
    Others +5

    So that totals 194 goals scored. Not too shabby, it’d be eh?

  5. CuleToon
    August 4, 2013

    .
    What the…! Esports3 —TV3 sports channel— is broadcasting live the Barça open training in Israel, and one of the commenters is Òscar García (because he coached Maccabi Tel Aviv FC last season).

    Neymar is there with the others. Roura, Altimira and Rubi are directing two «rondo» mini-matches among three miniteams of 3-4 players each (with colored vests). Tata and his two assistants are looking from some distance.

    Now Tata is directing some defensive exercises with all defenders (in groups of four Alves-Piqué-Masche-Alba and Monty-Bartra-Bagnak-Adriano). Tata talks a lot, both individually and to the group.

    And just before the broadcast ends, a stray ball strikes Neymar down there, where it hurts… ouch!

    IIRC, they’ve said that the team will fly to Bangkok right after the training session.

    That’s all, folks!

    • stefan2k
      August 4, 2013

      First anemia and than a ball to the nuts … can it get any worse? 😀

      What do you guys expect from this asia tour? Some fun matches with very limited playing time for the A-team or a real testing opportunity?

      • CuleToon
        August 4, 2013

        After the illness of Tito and the coming of Tata, that’s the worst pre-season Barça could make. But those matches were contracted already…

  6. xdxm
    August 4, 2013

    As a Barca fan I am willing to take a step back so that the league can take a step forward. Not out of moral obligation though. Just out of my love for Spanish football. But that is probably a minority view which I think kind of highlights the problem. Not enough people love Spanish football. But they love Barca. And they love Champions League. There is this mentality that our club is bigger than the league it plays in. It’s problematic in so many ways.

    Fact is top clubs in Liga earn 10 times more than lesser clubs in TV revenue. This is appalling. Especially in comparison to other leagues. Ratio in Serie A is 8 to 1. In France’s Ligue 1 the ratio is about 3.5 to 1. In the German Bundesliga the ratio is 2 to 1 and in the EPL the ratio is 1.55 to 1. (statistics courtesy of La Liga UK).

    Correcting this is obviously a start. But until the above mentioned mentality changes we may never see genuine equality in Spanish football. We talk all the time about how no player is bigger than the club. And yet it is acceptable the club can be bigger than the league. Mes que un club? Apparently.

    • CuleToon
      August 4, 2013

      .
      A fair ratio woudn’t solve this problem: In my opinion, it’s too late now. And the first thing to do would be to reduce the number of teams in La Liga, something that spanish politicians don’t even dare to consider (remember what happened in the so-called «Liga of 22 teams», http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1995–96_La_Liga).

      So, xdxm, what would be your suggestions in view of the numers and the situation I’ve presented above? As you say, it’s very, very problematic.

      • selfie barça
        August 4, 2013

        Like culetoon (and my article above) noted, bargaining for collective TV rates, although definitely the right thing to do, will not solve anything. The problem lies deeper.

        Besides We don’t need (or want) full equality. Throughout all of Europe’s leagues big clubs have always existed, and people are fine with that. It is just that the inequality in La Liga is getting out of hand.

        My solution is very simple, and I have advocated it many times before. Bring back the “three foreigners per team” rule. This way the world’s talent will be spread much more evenly among the clubs, and as an added bonus local fans will see their homegrown players more before they move abroad(especially in Europe’s smaller leagues).

        • CuleToon
          August 4, 2013

          But, would you apply that “three foreigners per team” rule only to Spain or at an European level?

        • CuleToon
          August 4, 2013

          And, by the way, who would be considered a «foreigner»? Because of the «Bosman Rule», any footballer who is a citizen of the European Union is entitled to play in any club of any country in the EU, so I don’t understand how that would solve the problem.

          • selfie barça
            August 4, 2013

            1. On a European level.

            2. And I would make a UEFA agreement to consider every person who arrived to the host country as an adult a “foreigner” (to prevent clubs from circumventing the rule by getting the player to request the nationality of his host country).

            I am also dead set against the recruiting of foreign minors for one’s academy. If you think the talent drain in Spain is bad, look at what the EPL has been doing to countries like Holland.

          • CuleToon
            August 4, 2013

            The «Bosman Rule» prevents the application of your point 2, isn’t it? Or do I miss something?

        • CuleToon
          August 4, 2013

          (So, I see that BfB Olympians can edit their comments, eh? 😯 )

          • selfie barça
            August 4, 2013

            1. Well, it could be a “gentleman’s agreement”. The Bosman ruling did a lot of damage to European football.

            2. Keep it up and I’ll edit yours, too! :p

      • xdxm
        August 4, 2013

        Distribution of TV revenue must be fixed. Even if it all goes towards these massive black holes of debt. At least it’s better than paying debts via player sales. Collective bargaining agreement is a must.

        Now I fully agree no amount of money can mitigate issues stemming from poor management. But these clubs need some kind of steady flow of income. EPL’s collectively negotiated broadcast rights are tipping deals to increase from €1.4billion to €2.2billion in 2014. Should be a bell ringer I think.

        In regards to a reduction of clubs, Rosell has already alluded to this in the past. His condition for fairer broadcast rights is that the league downsize from 20 to 16. If that’s what it takes than that’s what it takes. Hardly an ideal situation. But that’s where La Liga is right now.

        Also the league needs to figure out a better way to market itself as a brand. I don’t understand why there is no internationally focused marketing strategy. The quality of Spanish football is something you can’t get anywhere else. And people abroad need to know that. Increase your profile and global popularity and it will go a long way.

        • selfie barça
          August 4, 2013

          With all the players that have gone (and continue going) abroad, it is becoming harder and harder to market the league as a whole.

          Of course, when our club tours Asia in order to promote our brand, we all complain.

          • James
            August 4, 2013

            I get what you’re saying but come on, La Liga has Messi AND Ronaldo. It really shouldn’t be that difficult to market the league across Asia and the United States.

            Here in Canada the EPL has been on the basic cable sports channels since more than 10 years ago. I mean I was even hyped about seeing Mark Viduka score goals for my fantasy team. I didn’t even follow football that closely and I knew about Figo, Rivaldo, Raul, Roberto Carlos, Zidane. Yet all over my TV screen Saturday mornings was freaking Crystal Palace.

            I don’t know if the talent drain is the reason we aren’t as successful at marketing the league. I mean prior to Aguero, Mata, Silva, Toure leaving they were all class players. Now somehow they’re all superstars. The EPL are just fantastic at hyping up and creating ‘stars’. I don’t know how many times I heard on TV that Ronaldo scored 42 goals for United. It was practically on the sports channels every single day. You would have thought it was some legendary feat never before done in the history of man kind. Meanwhile Messi’s been breaking all time records and it gets a few mentions here and there. After Torres’ one fantastic season at Liverpool he was already being built up as the best striker in the world. Never mind what any other striker has done, he’s the best because he scored 20 PL goals. I’ll never forget the Daily Mail’s “The Best Players In The World (and Xavi)” headline.

            If America loves anything it’s superstars. We have the biggest ones in Ronaldo and Messi. We should be hyping them up like it’s Pele vs Maradona. We need to smear this advertising BS all over Amercican and Asian TV screens until they think La Liga is greatest thing since sliced bread. It worked for the EPL.

        • CuleToon
          August 4, 2013

          .
          The thing, xdxm, is that all of Spain is broke! A lot of spanish citizens, those that have lost their work and many that still have one, have cancelled their subscriptions to pay-per-view broadcasters. And those broadcasters are broke, too. That situation doesn’t explode because the «circus» part of «bread and circus» that football plays for spaniards, even for those that have no bread, is too important for the prevention of social unrest.

          Shamefully, spanish football clubs can go on whith those massive debts, while the spanish government doesn’t let any citizen or small business get away with anything… Ah, I better stop here!

          Given those circumstances, spanish broadcasters have seen that they must market better La Liga abroad and they are aiming at the Asian market. A couple of weeks ago, Jaume Roures, the president of the main broadcaster, Mediapro, said clearly that there will be many Barça and RM matches played at 12:00 am and some at 16:00 pm CET.

          So be prepared, wherever you are!

  7. yana
    August 4, 2013

    I didn’t realize that Cuenca and Afellay were at the Gamper. It was a little heartbreaking to see them in the pictures dressed for the presentation, but with no squad numbers like the others. Both are still injured, yes? Are they still officially on loan at Ajax and Schalke, and just back with us as part of recuperation?

    On a superficial note, Cuenca’s face has a more mature look now, but Afellay still has a complete babyface despite now being in his late 20s.

    I am excited, I will be in Argentina (for business) at the end of August and may get to see a River Plate match! I say “may” because apparently the Argentine Liga is like La Liga in that they have not set the days/times for Matchday Four yet, which is three weeks from now. My schedule only allows for a Sunday match. Keeping my fingers crossed!

  8. Roger Evans
    August 4, 2013

    “But also consider this. How great would it be if Valencia could have built around a core of Mata, Silva, Villa, Soldado, Rami, Matthieu and Jordi Alba? ”

    Agreed, except for Alba. As a Masia boy, he belongs to us.

  9. James
    August 4, 2013

    “Atlético Madrid sold Falcao for a reported sixty million euros (of which a large part went to the company who owned the rights on the player – food for another article altogether) and replaced him with a hopefully not over the hill David Villa for around two million.”

    A quibble with this. We know they only received a small portion of the money for Falcao. Don’t we also know they are paying Villa 11 million net? Something none other clubs wanting to sign Villa wanted to do. That’s not too different than paying a 10 million transfer fee (factoring taxes) and paying him his previous 7 million wage. I’m also pretty positive that Atletico will keep try to keep him for 3 years. 11 million net salary + 2 million transfer fee is a pretty big investment to make for 1 year of service. I don’t think they paid much more than that for Falcao.

    The only thing different is the publicity. I’m sure if we had announced that we got a 10 million transfer fee, then secretly paid the difference in wages directly to Villa, the transfer would have been looked upon more favorably by Cules.

    • selfie barça
      August 4, 2013

      I thought Atletico was free to renegotiate Villa’s salary? Of course I overlooked the fact that we should get another 3M over time.

      • James
        August 4, 2013

        What I read was that for the next year Atletico will take on the full responsibility of the 11 million then after that they will negotiate a new contract. Hence the 2-2-1 fee structure. I guess Atletico think they will have the inside track to re-sign next year or they must have some deal worked out for compensation in case Villa wants to sign for someone else.

        • Rami
          August 4, 2013

          Villa’s salary with AM is 4.5 euros, And can be increased over the course of few seasons to reach the 6.5 euros he used to earn with us.
          The ’11’ figure only exists with his contract with us, Once he leaves he’ll be free to negotiate his salary, Just like he did with AM, Tottenham offered 10 euors for his purchase, But he chose AM, And our club didn’t try to force him, And eventually respected his wishes, In the end it’s a win-win situation.

          Source:
          http://www.marca.com/2013/07/09/en/football/barcelona/1373351144.html

  10. barca96
    August 4, 2013

    The 3 foreigners per team was really good in many ways (stronger national team & better young players) but there are so many loopholes where a foreigner can bypass like having a great grandfather that was born in Europe and therefore granted an EU passport. It used to be foreigner but now it’s non EU.

  11. barca96
    August 4, 2013

    @xdxm

    Do you read B. blaugranes on the laptop or phone? I used to read it using phone by using the SB nation app. However it stopped working and I can’t find it anywhere on the Android market anymore.

    And are you by chance Youngcules on twitter?

    • xdxm
      August 4, 2013

      Don’t use an app for Barca Blaugranes. Just my laptop/work computer. And also I am not Youngcules. Wish I could say I was though. Pretty extensive knowledge.

  12. xdxm
    August 4, 2013

    I think also for other clubs Granada is an excellent example on how to model your club in relation to your finances. Ownership there is fantastic. Were in Segunda B only a couple season ago. Remarkable rise to Primera division. And with signings Piti, Riki, Iturra, etc possible 10-12 position not unrealistic.

    Granada owned by Pozzo family (who also own Udinese and Watford). Philosophy is simple: don’t overspend/create extensive global scouting network. To go from Segunda B to Primera–and possible Europa contender–in 2, 3 seasons is incredible. Especially considering that Pozzo family refuses to create debts. May not be wealthiest club but certainly not a broke club. Excellent model to learn from.

  13. August 4, 2013

    TV revenue sharing needs to be fixed. Period. What clubs decide to do with the money or how they spend it is immaterial. It is a joke that the bottom club in the Liga gets almost 30m LESS per year in TV revenue sharing than the bottom club in the Premiership.

    If Levante decide to spend it on liquor and whores, that is their prerogative, but the absurd inequality is an entirely different proposition from the way that clubs are being mismanaged.

    The talent drain in La Liga is a direct result not only of clubs living beyond their means, but of the fact that they get so much less money than their Premiership counterparts. Think about what a bottom club could do with 35m per season from TV rights, instead of 12. Give Sevilla an extra 20m or so per, and maybe they don’t have to sell players, etc, etc.

    Every time I think about the inequality that is built into the Liga, it bums me out. We have all the TV money, all the other money, a Masia that churns out world-class players, AND the best player in the world.

    A club can be run in an intelligent, fiscally sound manner, but that is a management question. TV revenues is a simple matter of fairness. Yes, people pay to see the big two. But that is just as true in the Premiership.

    — The broader question of management is easily fixed. It starts with a hard salary cap instituted not by the Liga, but by UEFA, so that all clubs have the same strictures. And not some easily gotten around sop like FFP, but a number. Exceed it, and there will be penalties.

    It continues (and many of you have heard this before) with a draft of unwanted players from the farm systems of the top 6 clubs in the Liga that particular season. A player that isn’t going to cut it at us or RM would be fine, potentially, at another club. So put them out there, as free, or low-cost transfers.

    The Liga will never, ever be equal. That is impossible, when the top two teams clear almost a half-billion in gross revenue. But the inequality doesn’t have to be so egregious.

    • selfie barça
      August 5, 2013

      I wouldn’t mind a salary cap, but I really don’t see how the draft would work, given that:
      1) you can’t force a player to go to a xxx team. Look at Marc Muniesa who left for England on just that, a low-cost transfer. Doesn’t exactly help La Liga any. One of the things I did not get into in the article above is the astounding number of B- or C- or D level players that left La Liga to play in countries like Greece(28), Russia(5), Poland(6) or Belgium(5).
      2) who decides that the player isn’t going to cut it or simply needs more playing time in the farm system?

    • August 5, 2013

      A draft is a terrible, terrible idea. Clubs just aren’t going to want to put money and time into developing youngsters who can then be snatched up by other teams in a draft. (Not to mention that Athletic Bilbao would refuse outright to participate anyway.)

      • selfie barça
        August 5, 2013

        I hadn’t even thought of the point Blitzen makes here, but I fully agree. A draft is completely unworkable in the context of European sports. A salary cap however? Mmmm…

        • August 5, 2013

          We let players go every year for a free, because they have outlived their usefulness to the team. So why not toss them into a pool? A draft works the same way, wherever you are. The NFL draft picks college players who are thrilled to play in the pros. You don’t get some saying “Aw man! I got drafted by the last-place team!” They’re in the pros.

          Ask a player cut loose by us or Sevilla if they would rather be playing for Levante or laying bricks in their home town, and you don’t have to wait very long for the answer.

          Look at Lomban. We had him, used him, he wasn’t going to cut it and he’s gone. He has a job. So why not make him part of a supplemental draft that helps the bottom teams in La Liga?

          A draft only seems “completely unworkable” because people aren’t really thinking about it. But it can work for the same reason that the NBA or NFL don’t just have job fairs for college prospects, and let them all be free agents coming right out of school. It’s an attempt to equitably and fairly level the playing field, so that all of the top college players don’t wind up going to all of the top pro teams. Everyone gets a shot at talent.

          • August 5, 2013

            It can’t work, for the exact reason I mentioned: Athletic Bilbao would refuse to participate. They only use Basque players. They would have absolutely nothing to gain from a draft system.

            And since we “cut loose” players every year anyway, they are already out there for other teams to sign for free. No need for a draft.

          • August 5, 2013

            If Athletic winds up in the bottom five and refuses to play, they don’t have to. Their choice.

          • August 5, 2013

            You can’t just have a draft for some teams and not others. How is that going to make a “level playing field”? Come on. It’s unworkable and you know it.

  14. CuleToon
    August 5, 2013

    .
    Contrary to the opinions of some that, like the proverbial taxi-drivers in Spain, have a simple solution to any problem, the situation of the Spanish LFP is so complex, and so marred and vitiated by corruption, that there’s no solution in sight other than a total refoundation of LFP, which will not happen any time soon.

    In the 2011-2012 season, with a total of 608 mill euro in TV rights, Barça and RM received 140 mill each, Atleti and Valencia, 42 mill each, then Villarreal (25), Sevilla (24), Betis (21), Getafe (18) and Athletic (17), and the rest received from 14 to 12 mill (http://www.telebasura.net/wp-content/2011/07/ingresos-televisivos-ligas.jpg).

    Now, if we divide those 608 mill euros evenly-fairly-whatever among the 20 LFP teams, as so many demand, we get, exactly, 30,4 mill. euro for each team: In other words, those eleven «poorer» teams would receive just about 16-18 mill more, and Atleti and Valencia would receive 12 mill less. So, does anybody with any common sense really think that this quantities would solve any problem? It would not in normal circumstances, and much less so if we take into account the appalling level of debt of the clubs, specially the debt to the social security system which, by law, should be undeferable, as is the case for any kind of business, corporation or self-employed worker in Spain, because it feeds directly the pension system.

    On the other hand, there’s the «competition» issue. So, LFP is not competitive-interesting because it will be won by either Barça or RM. Well, that’s only a half-truth. As Schuster —by way of example— said about three weeks ago in his first presser as Malaga coach, «We [also] have a league of two in Germany, of almost one in Italy, [and of] two in England and Portugal, and I don’t see any possibility of that changing. […] But this has also a good side because from the third team to almost the tenth [in the Spanish league], they all can play EL or CL, and the same happens in the relegation side, where you don’t know who’s going to be relegated until the last day». So, excluding the top two, we do have a rather competitive league, don’t we?

    Possible, but improbable, solutions, apart from the utopian refoundation of LFP? Here I present some suggestions open to discussion and additions:

    – A league of 18-16 teams, anything that guarantees a domestic match per week, including another system for La Copa, with one-match qualifying rounds, at least until quarter-finals or semifinals.

    – Cheaper ticket prices: it’s sad to see so many empty stadiums, wether the match is televised or not. Lower the prices and you’ll get at least a little more money with a full stadium.

    My personally preferred solution: An European League. Less than a century ago, all leagues in Spain (and I presume elsewhere) were local or regional. When there was a coincidence between the appearance of better means of transportation and the first huge inequalities among the teams because of the number of supporters —then the main source of income for the clubs— supra-regional (national) leagues were born. I think that the situation today is very similar, and that the logical outcome should be a supra-national European league which could be either closed, or open to the champions of domestic leagues based on some system of promotion.

    • selfie barça
      August 5, 2013

      – I completely agree that dividing the TV money won’t solve the problem at all, but at least it’s a start, and at least it’s fair.

      Having said that, I still think that the bigger teams should get a bigger slice of the pie. Just a smaller bigger size, if you know what I mean.

      – I would not mind at all to see a league of 16-18 teams and one-match qualifiying rounds for the Copa, but I think there is something I’m missing here… Don’t less games generate less income?

      – We already have a European Competition based on some system of promotion in the domestic leagues. It’s called the Champions League and I like it just fine.

      I have always hated the idea of some kind of European Superleague. It seems to me a way of embracing inequality, not fighting it. The gap between the haves and the have-nots even more, and it will destroy the domestic competitions. I like the idea of the Champion of say Italy to be the best team of Italy, etc. Also I would be very wary of a fixed league that could end up being dominated by teams from two (or three) countries.

      • CuleToon
        August 5, 2013

        .
        Thanks for your reply, Levon.

        You say, Having said that, I still think that the bigger teams should get a bigger slice of the pie. Just a smaller bigger size, if you know what I mean.

        I agree with some kind of proportionality, of course. I just carried that demand of a fair distribution to the extreme to show that, even doing so, nothing would be solved. Any realistic proportional distribution would only worsen the results of such an extreme case.

        Would less games generate less income? I really don’t know how TV rights are or would me marketed —by match, by season, whatever— but in the case they would bring less money, it would be distributed among less teams so, in the worst-case scenario, the amount of money received by each team wouldn’t vary that much. Also, I don’t think that all those Copa matches bring in much money, except for the last qualifying rounds.

        And I disagree with you about the CL: I think it has nothing to do with a «proper» European League. But it’s a matter of opinion, of course. I don’t see it as a way of embracing inequality, but as a way of overcoming it. And I don’t think it would destroy the domestic competitions either, specially if that EuroLeague was open to some form of promotion. People would continue supporting their local teams and enjoy them in a more balanced competition. In the end, many of the leading european leagues would be the same as they are now, but without the interference or the nuisance of those «superclubs» that unbalance the competition.

        • selfie barça
          August 5, 2013

          -True, the money would be divided between less clubs – hadn’t thought about that. As for the Copa del Rey, what about gate receipts? Wouldn’t that lessen the income of some clubs significantly?

          -As for the European League, well…

          1. The big clubs would receive ever more money for a league that everybody wants to see, and the teams that don’t make the cut will recieve squat for playing in a league that is suddenly a whole less interesting.
          2. Since there won’t be any more use of a Champion’s League, there will be a whole lot less football.
          3. Less diversity. The attraction of playing both domestically and internationally is the variety of teams one face.
          4. It spits in the face of the most loyal fans. Forgive me for saying this, but Spanish fans are quite lazy in comparison to say German or English fans, who travel to their teams’ away games.
          5. Some teams, like say Porto, Benfica, Ajax, Shaktar Donetsk, Celtic would presumably make the cut and be condemned to never winning anything anymore – no European league and no domestic league.

          Already most domestic leagues are dominated by 2 to 3 clubs, but at least there are a lot of different countries, each with their own league. I fear this European league you speak of will end up being dominated by at most 10 clubs from four to five countries and all other teams will be left with nothing to play for.

          It will, coupled with the TV-income it will generate which I outlined in point 1, by definition embrace the inequality which has always existed but has been exacerbated by the Bosman ruling and the current CL format.

          As a sidenote, I have no desire to play in a league where Barça face fifteen teams made up of multi-millionaires who want to park the bus against us.

          • August 5, 2013

            The Premiership sets up its TV distribution rights so that the system is tiered, from top to bottom. So United gets more than Wigan, rather than everyone getting the same chunk of the pie. Using that model (there is a chart comparing Liga and Prem floating about somewhere), the Big Two would get about 60m less per annum, while everyone else would get more.

            A EuroLeague is a non-starter for me. Domestic leagues are fun, relevant and if not run by a passel of braying jackasses, competitive and a great way for local fans to get behind a club. Plucking us and RM out of La Liga, and leaving the rest to fend for themselves in a lesser league, means what for those clubs? Nothing good.

  15. Dracko
    August 5, 2013

    Restructuring entails starting from the scratch. Building ‘ur club within ‘ur finacial and labour means.
    There is no excuse to justify mismanagement.
    Not sharing the T.V rights is a capitalist posture which often has an ugly consequence of impoverishing subordinate clubs. In this case its worst because the surplus capitals generated from starving smaller clubs do not go into any significant expansive project for La Liga. It contradictorily strangulates these Clubs, and force them into redundancy, brain-drain and eventually closure. The foregoing inturn stiffles Laliga of his competitive growth and without competition the Big two soon loose form. So its a vicious circle. If the excess surplus capitals were re-invested in Spain’s football or economy it may still reflect one way or the other in the strengthening of the economy against the inherent disarticulations but I doubt it.

    Corporate branding on a global scale, Media and hypes, promoting spanish football alongside its clubs’ cultural values in addition to equality of TV Rights sharing are workable pallatives.

    I dont support pruning down the number of clubs. I still believe there is strength in the large numbers. Provided they are well managed.

    Finally we must face the issue of mismanagement. A good manager must be frugal and yet get results.

  16. August 5, 2013

    I think the 3 to 4 foreigners per team is a brilliant idea.
    It can only do good things to many things.

    • CuleToon
      August 5, 2013

      I insist: That would go totally against the law (the Bosman ruling) and the first team that would contravene or denounce any hypothetical «gentleman’s agreement» would ruin it altogether because it would have the law at its side.

      Another possible way, which I think was mentioned some time ago by Platini or Blatter (don’t ask me for sources!), is to make mandatory that teams play with a minimum number of academy players. But it’s easy to see that this would also lead to all sorts of inequalities.

      As most of us recognize, it’s a very, very thorny problem and, in the end, those «superclubs», our Barça included, will have the final say. It’s them, and them alone, who sustain all this multibillion business, and they are well aware of it. As many of you know, they have threatened to organize a competition outside of UEFA and FIFA several times: That’s their trump card.

      • selfie barça
        August 5, 2013

        Agreed, the Bosman ruling royally screwed things up.

        Politicians should realize that sport is different. I doubt that the salary caps and the draft system that are so successfully employed in American sports are in accordance with general US labor laws.

        • August 5, 2013

          Not to mention Athletic Bilbao’s “Basque-only” policy (even if they do stretch that a bit sometimes).

          • selfie barça
            August 5, 2013

            Or trades, for that matter. Imagine RM trading Ronaldo to Borussia Dortmund for Reus and Lebowski 🙂

  17. August 5, 2013

    The horse is out of the barn, so to speak, but if people want to look at well-run league, the American MLS is an excellent example, even more so than the Bundesliga. Teams are managed so that debt is always kept in check. Stadiums are appropriately sized and as a club gets larger and more prosperous, they are allowed a spendy “designated player.” Obviously some adaptation would be required for the European model, but clearly, allowing teams to just run themselves doesn’t work. Everyone wants to be competitive and stay up, so they will overspend for the players who will keep them there. And if they make European football, stand back.

    As much as we scoff at Rosell and his false “austerity,” if he is making a real effort to bring the club’s debt down, that is commendable. Because at some point, a club has to account for the revenue train drying up. Looking at the RM model, it is an excellent one in terms of maximizing matchday revenue, and getting players to assent to a 50/50 (at least) marketing revenues deal with the club.

    But they’re still in debt, and why grownup isn’t saying to them “You can’t spend 120m for a player, when you have this much debt already,” is just another symptom of the larger problem. Every team contributes, but the big teams contribute more, and it’s a real problem that FFP does absolutely nothing to address.

    • barca96
      August 5, 2013

      Would the NBA model be more doable or the MLS?

      One thing I know for sure that won’t work with football is the draft system because the football clubs invest money in their youth academies. But I think they could work with a similar model.

      One thing I would like to know though with the NBA draft system. What do the universities get in return for nurturing a good future NBA player? Do they get some reward money from the franchise that eventually lands the player or is it the NBA that rewards the universities?

      • selfie barça
        August 5, 2013

        What do universities get in return for nurturing future pros? What about the money generated by broadcasting rights, gate receipts and merchandising?

      • August 5, 2013

        Adding on to Levon’s comment, college sports are HUGE in America in a way they are not anywhere else in the world. They don’t need to be rewarded by the Pro leagues, they make plenty of money their own selves.

  18. simple_barcafan
    August 5, 2013

    My Solution:
    Just clone Arsene Wenger and make each clone a the manager of the lesser spanish teams..

    For all the shit that people throw on Wenger, managers like him might actually be perfect for debt ridden Spanish teams..

  19. CuleToon
    August 5, 2013

    .
    I see that a lot of you are against any kind of «European League» for various —and sound— reasons. However, and if you don’t mind, I’ll expand on the idea that the situation today is very similar to that of less than a century ago, when the first huge inequalities in the regional leagues coincided with the appearance of better means of transportation, and «national» leagues were born. So, I’ll simply extrapolate the current organization of those national leagues to an European level, keeping in mind that it is a general idea and that there could be many variations.

    1. We would have an European «First EU Division» with 18 clubs. The first 18 clubs would be chosen based on IFFHS data or something similar. At the end of each season, the last two clubs would be relegated to a «Second EU Division».

    2. That Second EU Division would replace what today is the Europa League, which lacks any attractive and is seen as a minor trophy, and even as an annoyance (at least in Spain, there are clubs, like for example Espanyol, that avoid ending La Liga in an EL position because they don’t have the resources to play three competitions —including La Copa— at the same time). Of course, the number of teams would have to be more than 18, perhaps 22 or even more. If that number is too big, there is the possibility of making two groups, with a final play-off among the two or three first clubs of each group. In any case, two clubs would be promoted, and the number of teams relegated to the «Third EU Division» would depend on point three below.

    3. The Third EU Division would be formed by the current domestic leagues, and the first one, two or three clubs would be promoted, according to criteria similar to those used for the Europa League; the last two would be relegated.

    I think that this system would increase the interest on all three competitions, specially for the local supporters of the «non-top» clubs involved. And, surely, it would make much more attractive what today is the EL.

    Also, there would not be less football necessarily if each competition is played on different days and/or time slots. TV revenues generated by the three competitions would be distributed to all the clubs involved according to a series of proportionality criteria.

    Is that general idea so far-fetched? Any comment will be appreciated.

    • Oliver
      August 5, 2013

      I’m not against a European Super league if it could be made to work, and I like the basic outline of CuleToon’s ideas.

      Here’s one way I think about it. I am an American, and grew up following various American sports leagues, especially baseball. The leagues in the US generally also involve teams from Canada, and the two countries put together have just about 350 million people. Now consider the big soccer nations of Western Europe. If I add up the populations of the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands (and I’m doing my addition right) I get about 340 million people. You could throw in Belgium to make it 350 million if you want. So the populations of the US+Canada and the soccer countries of Western Europe are just about the same.

      Spain by itself has 47 million people. This is about the same population as the US states of New York, Pennsylvania, and the states of New England — a chunk of the Northeast. Now, of course these comparisons could be objected to in many ways, the situations are not exactly comparable, and so on. But it’s still a useful thought experiment for me: La Liga is serving about the same population base as those northeastern US states.

      Major league baseball in the US and Canada has 30 major league teams. What would baseball (for example) look like if it attempted to have a professional league of the same size, but in only those states with the population of Spain? It would include mighty and storied franchises like the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, and three more top teams: the Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates. Then it would need to find 25 more teams from somewhere. Maybe put a second team each in Boston and Philly and a third in New York, but to get that many clubs you’re also going to have to take up minor league teams from places like Buffalo, and Springfield, and Rochester. The Yankees would get to travel to Nashua, New Hampshire or Portland, Maine to annihilate some tiny team. The league would be absolutely dominated by the big teams. That part of the country, wealthy though it is, just doesn’t have the population to host a large major league all by itself.

      This is basically what the European leagues are doing. Because of the size of the countries and their histories, European soccer is divided into smaller units, probably too small to be genuinely competitive, and each unit is being dominated by a few teams. Sure, everyone likes to point to Barça and Madrid these days, but every big European league has a few top clubs that dominate buying the best players and most of the titles, with little social mobility outside of being purchased by a very rich investor.

      So having a European super league would be a kind of acknowledgment that the individual countries of Europe are each a little too small to reach a kind of competitive balance. It would be like that imaginary Northeastern US baseball league saying, you know what, we’re tired of seeing the Yankees and Red Sox beat up on Syracuse and New Haven. Let them play the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals instead.

      All that said — I would only be in favor of it if it actually produced more pleasure for us, the fans. Would it be more fun if Barça’s “primary league” featured Bayern and United and Juve instead of Rayo and Celta and Valladolid? I think it probably would. We culés would have to get used to losing more, but the games would be hugely entertaining; the best playing the best, all the time.

      What I’m worried about is the other competitions. Right now we are lucky enough to see Barça play in the Liga, the CL and the Copa every year. If a Euro league replaced both the Liga and the CL for us, I would be disappointed to have fewer games. I suppose you could make a case that it might make the teams a little more rested, and make the quality of the matches better. But still; it’s hard to root for less football.

      Another thing you would lose is the ability to play for more prizes; one thing I really like about European soccer is the number of trophies you can aim for. Contrast this with US sports, where there is generally one end-of-season tournament in each sport, and winning that is the one and only goal. It generates more variety and interest to have many things to shoot for. I would be unhappy if all the top teams only had one trophy to play for.

      The other thing such a league would do is make a new role for the domestic cups, like the Copa. Now those would be the only time Barça would get to play Spanish teams other than Madrid and whoever else happened to be in their euro league. One could make an argument for expanding the Copa, maybe having group stages or the like, to make up for some of the football lost.

      I suspect all this speculation is pretty idle, as I doubt the powers that be are likely to try such a radical change. But it is interesting to think about.

      • August 5, 2013

        Wonder how cules would feel about this if a bad spell of players/injuries found Barça in the second level of CuleToon’s EuroLeague. Heh!

        For me, removing the big clubs from the national leagues also removes the aspirational aspect of European football. There is also the delight of the big clubs coming to small teams, and said teams having that venue sell out in the hopes that today, just this once, their gladiators will take a big scalp.

        For Levante, theoretically nothing will change. No European football, no matter what they do. But what about Sevilla, Malaga or other teams who can have a good season and find their way into those lucrative European paydays?

        But at its core, I find the notion of a EuroLeague arrogant and elitist. “We’re too good for the likes of you, so we’re going to take our ball and go play with the other big kids.” That just doesn’t sit well with me.

        • Oliver
          August 5, 2013

          Teams like Sevilla and Malaga would be prime contenders in CuleToon’s second division of the Euro League, fighting it out with Everton and Leverkusen or whoever, with hopes in a good year to break into the first division. Levante would fight for the Spanish title in the third division, and in a year like 2011-12 (when they did finish sixth!) they could reach the second division and take a tour of Europe the next year before going back down. Presumably all these things would be worth varying amounts of money — so there would be things to play for.

          And yes, presumably even the best teams would sometimes have a bad year and be relegated to the second tier of Europe. 🙂 But even that tier would be prestigious and exciting to play in, I would think.

          The little clubs hoping to scalp the big teams would have to happen in the domestic cups instead. Expand the Copa a little to fill the CL void and still a bunch of smaller clubs in Spain would get to host Barça and/or Madrid each year.

    • selfie barça
      August 5, 2013

      I know it is not a reply to my earlier comment, but I don’t see how that adresses any of the problems I mentioned above.

      Your idea makes the stronger stronger, the weaker weaker, and forever condemns the domestic leagues and any of the non-major football clubs.

      Also…we already have the Champions league. What on earth would you want to replace that with a European Super League for?

      • Oliver
        August 5, 2013

        I’m not CuleToon, but I think the Euro league idea is not so much about creating parity among domestic leagues but instead admitting that there is no parity, and trying to find the best balance given the teams as they are. It is not such a strange idea in competition that the very strongest should consistently play each other, and the somewhat weaker should play the other somewhat weaker.

        And my perception of why a Euro league when you already have the CL is that it’s saying the CL is not enough. That instead of playing PSG one year and Bayern another year and Arsenal and Milan some other year (except that we play Arsenal and Milan every year, but never mind) it would be saying, let all the best teams play each other every year, one each home and away. A league format for the CL, instead of a tournament format. To trade the games against Getafe and Osasuna for games every year against Dortmund and City. That’s the idea at least.

        • selfie barça
          August 5, 2013

          Ok, and what happens if in this Euroleague you end up with 4 British teams, 3 Spanish teams, 3 Italian teams, 3 German teams and let’s say 1 team from seven other countries.

          To put things as delicately as I can, all the rest of Europe can just go f— it self, then? I’m not saying this to offend you, rather my crudeness stems from the fact that the very notion of this league disgusts me.

          Like Kxevin wrote, it is arrogant and elitist. It is also callous and disrespectful to the majority of Europe’s football clubs and their supporters and in some cases to whole countries.

          I can see how it might work out for fans of some of Europe’s biggest clubs, although personally I like the flavors of the Liga, EPL, Bundesliga and Scudetto.

          However, the majority of teams will either be just good enough to play in the European Superleague without any hope of winning it, or they will be in a domestic league that has lost its value to even its local fans. This here is a disgraceful idea that I hope will never come to fruition.

          • CuleToon
            August 5, 2013

            .
            It’s obvious that the very notion of this league disgusts you, Levon, but it isn’t worth it!

            We’re only speculating about the problem you put forward in your post, just for the sake of it. For me, it’s like we’re talking in a pub, in a hot summer night, with a beer in our hands. And it happens that we’re talking about this, nothing more!

            In the end, what I really enjoy is to gab with you and the others.

        • selfie barça
          August 5, 2013

          “In the end, what I really enjoy is to gab with you and the others”

          Same here, brother, and don’t let my strong language fool you, lol. Thank you for your contributions.

    • CuleToon
      August 5, 2013

      Thanks for your replies.

      As you say, Oliver, in the end all this is idle speculation, but it is interesting to think and to talk about it all the same. I presume that this was the purpose of Levon’s post! I find that your comparison with US leagues is quite apt. And, certainly, it’s food for thought.

      ***
      So, Kxevin, if I understand your arguments well, you deem those US leagues to be arrogant and elitist, isn’t it?

    • CuleToon
      August 5, 2013

      Oliver, it’s nice to see that you’re explaining this idea —it’s just an idea— much better than I ever could!

  20. nia
    August 5, 2013

    OT: According to NeySr, NeyJr lost a further 7kg after surgery this summer oO . That’s a lot of weight especially seeing how light Ney is to begin with. Hope the Dr’s can find ways to bulk him up well since liga is starting soon and Pepe will be coming to visit.

    Marca headline today, Cristiano renews… and will earn 1 million more than Messi, lol. They just couldn’t help themselves and Ney earns 15mil? STFU!!!!

    • August 5, 2013

      Neymar has the 6th-best salary on the club, after Messi, Xavininsta and Pique (make that 5th, since Villa is gone now). It’s somewhere in the 7m range.

    • CuleToon
      August 5, 2013

      .
      Marca always twists things in its own —RM’s— interest. They know that Messi earns 13 M, plus a maximum of 3 M more depending on objectives achieved.

      But in the case of Neymar’s 15 M, they make a real put-up job! On the one hand, they repeat that Barça signed Neymar for 57 M (although they always try to cast some doubt on it). On the other, they add to his contract of 7 M per year the fifth part of his signing bonus (40 M), so 7 + 8 = 15! Easy, isn’t it?

      What they never say is that, in that case, the signing of Neymar «only» did cost 17 M!

    • August 5, 2013

      Lost 7 kg after a tonsillectomy? That’s crazy! Boy should have been eating his weight in ice cream!

      • August 6, 2013

        That is impossible. I doubt that is true.

        Among other things, I am quite happy about two new aspects in our training with Tata

        – training the defense to deal with counter attacks

        – training to fast counter, a counter attack

        I am hoping both the above steps will be very good for us.

        More than excited for the season to begin.

    • CuleToon
      August 6, 2013

      Very interesting article, as most of the links it contains. Thanks!

      • Jim
        August 6, 2013

        Enjoyable read, Choba. Thanks. I’d missed most of the Alonso personal stuff.

  21. PrinceYuvi
    August 6, 2013

    Boring Spain creates consistent results.
    Arbeloa[/monty] Ramos Pique Alba[/Monreal]
    Busi Martinez[Alonso] Xavi
    Iniesta[/Villa] Cesc Pedrito[/Navas]
    3 goals or just 1. Win is a win afterall.

  22. August 6, 2013

    Who is going to win the next Ballon D’Or?
    Messi? Neymar? Robben? Lewandowski? Van Persie?

      • K_legit in Oz
        August 6, 2013

        Man he could have done well at Barça..if only..

        • Spiza7
          August 6, 2013

          Well there is Mourinho.

          He did apparently single handedly “end” Barca’s dominance according to himself 😀

  23. Rami
    August 6, 2013

    Eusebio: “In the press, no one considered me an option for Barca job. Something that makes me think, why have I been ignored in this way?”

    Did the club even contact you as an option for the first team bench? Eusebio: “No. But I am convinced that I have been taken into account.”

    Eusebio: “Rivals and people tell me they love the way Barça B plays! Yes, I have felt that I have been disrespected by the press.”

    No comment……

    • August 6, 2013

      Are these real quotes? Can you please provide a link? I’d like to read the original.

    • Dani_el
      August 6, 2013

      Can’t believe it. Eusebio is delusional. No wonder he doesn’t improve the B team and he limits them so much. He doesn’t realize how much he has to learn, adapt and improve. Even Pep with all his achievements has a better sense of conscientiousness.

      • August 6, 2013

        My favourite part of the interview:

        “I see (them) every day as they work and I have to be fair to the players. I am the one who should make them a close-knit group, train and educate (them). If we go by the individuality and egos of each, we are dead.”

        Yes, Eusebio, maybe if you paid more attention to being fair to the players & training them properly, and less to how the press is “disrespecting” you, you would have ended up with a more cohesive group of players. Gah!

  24. CuleToon
    August 6, 2013

    Sorry to tell you, but according to RAC-1 and TV3, Barça is considering seriously the idea of not signing any CB this summer, since they hope that Puyol is going to be OK this September…

    It’s not a —bad— joke.

      • selfie barça
        August 6, 2013

        You can’t seriously believe that the strategy is to expect Puyol to remain injury-free the whole season, right?

        • CuleToon
          August 6, 2013

          It’s them who, apparently, believe that, not me!

          Now, all sources —EMD, RAC-1, and TV3, including its all-news channel, 3/24 just 10 minutes ago— ascribe that decision to Tata, although that last source, 3/24, ends the report pointing to the possibility that the objective might be to drop a hint to the market that Barça is in no urgent need of a CB (just to lower prices, as I said above).

          • CuleToon
            August 6, 2013

            Ahem, forgot to put a 😯 after «not me!»…

        • Oliver
          August 6, 2013

          Hoping Puyi is injury-free is not so much a “strategy” as a “fantasy”, unfortunately. 🙂

          At first I hoped this was just a result of MD having to write something about the CB search every single day. But I guess if the other outlets have it too, that means it’s coming from someone in the team? Then hopefully it is just a tactic, though it’s not a very good one. 😛

          Honestly this is all too late. The team seems to have gone systematically from their first choice to their second choice and now we are trying to nail down the third or fourth choice, when they should have been contacting all of the candidates at the same time so we could actually negotiate form some kind of strength. I fear it’s a legacy of Tito’s apparent insistence on Silva, and he would have been nice (in my opinion) but at minimum we need *someone* competent enough to at least back up Masch if they can’t trust Bartra to do it. Now we can’t even get someone?

          Our management seems pretty good at signing players *when the players really want to come to Barça*. With those negotiations, dragging it out helps us. When we don’t have that kind of emotional leverage and just need to shore up the squad, we dither and delay and don’t seem to be able to get anything done.

          • alpinegroove
            August 6, 2013

            Speaking of negotiation strategy, I believe at least a couple of club officials have said in recent weeks that money will not be an issue in signing a CB. Basically, we are telling selling clubs that we are willing to pay exorbitant prices…So maybe this is just damage control.

          • “Our management seems pretty good at signing players *when the players really want to come to Barça*. ”

            But all those players were not actually needed for our system. So we could play the waiting game and the selling club would be thinking to cash on it earlier.

    • 86ed
      August 6, 2013

      It’s too late now anyway, I fear. There was an article a few months earlier claiming that Villanova wanted ‘o Thago Silva, o nadie.” That’s what we’re left will. This is a joke of an administration, expecting different results with the same exact personnel. Madness.

  25. efcmentor
    August 6, 2013

    i woke up every morning praying for a new CB,but see what i read today!
    @barcastuff
    Because of high
    transfer fee of David
    Luiz and doubts on
    Agger, Barcelona are
    considering not to sign
    any centre back this
    summer. [md]

  26. August 6, 2013

    Dani Alves said in an interview that he isn’t happy that Abidal wasn’t renewed.

    • selfie barça
      August 6, 2013

      Ha, Dani Alves always speaks his mind. I like his new shirt number, btw.

    • Oliver
      August 6, 2013

      Well, of course he’s not. Abi is Dani’s friend. It’s not Dani’s job to make the difficult assessment of whether Abi is physically and medically capable of playing a full season at a high enough level for FC Barcelona. He can afford to speak with his heart.

      Only time will tell whether the powers that be made the right call letting Abi go. If we don’t sign a center back and Abi has a resurgent season at Monaco, they are going to look pretty ridiculous. But it’s certainly possible that after everything Eric has been through, his body just won’t be able to handle a long season the way it once could.

      • August 6, 2013

        I think the point is that letting Abi go has had more of a negative effect on team morale than we may know. The players remember the promise that Bartomeu made back in December. Dani is not the only player who has made remarks lately that come off as critical of the club management, especially now that Tito isn’t in the picture anymore, so they don’t feel the same restraint as when he was still in charge. Even Iniesta has commented about recent decisions he didn’t agree with. It’s not a good sign.

  27. ciaran
    August 6, 2013

    I think I’ll go crazy if we don’t sign anyone. Puyol, given his fitness, should be the 4th choice centre back and Bartra should be 5th given his lack of experience and quality question mark.
    I don’t mind if Mascherano is the second or third choice centre back because I like him. Since the day that Soceidad beat Valencia to the champions league place I have been advocating the signing of Adil Rami. If Soceidad had missed out I’d be all for signing Inigo Martinez but the price changes from CL qualification mean that he is a €30million untested player instead of a probable €20million.
    Back to my point though, Surely of the players that are ‘available’ surely Adil Rami is the best option. He is tall, physically strong, quick, good in the air and in the second half of the season was fantastic. He is a French international with 25 caps.
    Whether he is better than Mascherano or not is both a matter of opinion and irrelevant because he is certainly better than Bartra and more consistent than Puyol.

  28. Oliver
    August 6, 2013

    I guess I haven’t yet made a comment on the excellent original post. The list of players to leave La Liga in the last three years is impressive and a little depressing. I can also come up with a pretty impressive list of players who have come to the Liga in the last three years: Cesc Fabregas, Alexis Sanchez, Neymar, Javier Mascherano, Alex Song, Ibrahim Afellay, Fabio Coentrao, Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil, Luka Modric, Angel di Maria. And if you go back to four years you can add Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Kaka. That is a truly remarkable array of talent; of course, all of it has gone to just two teams. The list of well-known players who have joined the league to one of the non-big two is a lot smaller. Falcao came before he went; who else? Helder Postiga I suppose, and Roque Santa Cruz. Perhaps I’m forgetting someone?

    All that said, I think it’s amazing that the non-big two teams are as good as they are, despite their debts and everything else. This past year two other Spanish teams made it out of the group stages in the CL; last year we had an all-Spanish Europa League final with a third team in the semis, and the road to that final including a famous hiding of Manchester United. We talk about the big two racking up 100 points, but is that really because the rest of the league is so bad, or is it because the big two have pushed each other to get so good? Evidence from the European leagues is that the third through sixth best teams in Spain in any given year are still pretty good. I suspect that if we traded the top two teams in the Liga with the top two teams in the EPL, Barça and Madrid would still be capable of racking up 100 points.

    • selfie barça
      August 6, 2013

      Thank you for your compliment. The non big two teams have been pretty amazing over the last couple of years, but I think that this summer the well is truly running dry, with the possible exception of Atletico (who I would have really liked to see in the Champions League with Falcao, but I guess he prefers to not play any European football in Monaco)

      • Oliver
        August 7, 2013

        My understanding was that Falcao was not fully in control of his own destiny; his rights were owned by some other entities besides the club, and they have the power to push for him to sign for the highest bidder.

        It will be interesting to see how Atletico, Valencia, and the rest do this year. They occupy an interesting niche; you could say that they are selling clubs internationally, but buying clubs domestically. Look at Valencia; they bought David Villa from Zaragoza, had him for years, then sold him to Barça (not a club from another country, but a big European club). That same summer, they bought Soldado from Getafe. Now three years later, they have sold Soldado to Spurs — and apparently are about to raid Zaragoza again, for Helder Postiga. Their business plan is to buy players from the smaller Liga teams, and then a few years later sell them on to larger and/or foreign clubs. And they’ve been clever enough about it to qualify for Europe year after year. I guess I’ll wait and see whether they can keep it up before I write them off.

        • selfie barça
          August 7, 2013

          Good point regarding Falcao. It’s incredible how arguably the best “nine” in the game made a step backwards in his career.

          As for Valencia, of course they will buy from smaller clubs. But the pool of talent is not infinite and eventually something’s gotta give. Soldado was never going to be as good as Villa, and Postiga never as good as Soldado.

          Keep in mind that not only La Liga’s top players are getting poached by EPL, Bundesliga and Serie A clubs, there are also countless “lesser” players who left for other leagues around the world. There are 28 Spanish players in Greece, for example.

  29. barca96
    August 7, 2013

    Oh boy Opa Cruyff..

    Attack on the signing of Neymar & Tata.

  30. CuleToon
    August 7, 2013

    .

    I wouldn’t say «attack», barca96; He just made a couple of observations that he is entitled to make, however unfortunate we deem them to be. And I’m not endorsing those comments in any way. (Keep in mind that Cruyff is known for not mastering any language, not even Dutch, and much less Spanish).

    About Messi-Neymar (italics mine): «[I said that], sometimes, [having] two captains in the same ship gives raise to problems. If the board makes this decision, you must respect it. And I didn’t say that they have to sell Messi tomorrow o that they get rid of Neymar. I’m only voicing an idea, an observation. Perhaps I’d wait a couple of years before making them play together».

    About Tata: «I don’t know him, so, at least, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. [A change of] manager must be planned sooner. Rijkaard and Pep were behind [?]. Tito also came behind [?]. Now, since Tito was ill, everything was made in a hurry. Things have been done without preparation and they made a decision in a hurry».

    • selfie barça
      August 7, 2013

      Exacty, Culetoon. I have no problem with what he said. We don’t have to agree with him, but he expressed himself very respectfully.

      If you read the venom that was spewed at him in the comment section (below the article in SPORT where his comments appeared) you’d think Cruijff just coerced Messi to sign for M*drid or something…

      • CuleToon
        August 7, 2013

        For the time being, I’ll spare myself those comments. Most of them are just insane, and I presume that many aren’t legit, just part of the propaganda war between Barça factions.

        That’s why I like BfB’s sanity so much!

        • barca96
          August 7, 2013

          Even though he is entitled to his own opinion and I don’t think what he said is not something that’s very untrue but he is a Barca legend. He shouldn’t say something like this at this point of time. He’s not helping Tata and Neymar settle at all. In fact he’s putting more pressure on them. Cruyff is not an ordinary ex-coach/player, he is #1 legend of this club.

  31. Spiza7
    August 7, 2013

    I’m not sure (if true) how the staff can already make a decision on not to sign another defender when I’m pretty sure Bartra hasn’t yet signed his renewal.

  32. August 7, 2013

    I will be absolutely livid if the club does not sign a center back this summer. This is getting ridiculous. It’s almost like the club is trying hard to put itself at a disadvantage, instead of seeking to strengthen or apply a bit of common sense. What is with the hard nosed reluctance to bring in a guy to fill a very apparent void? I mean, what is the thinking here? Please don’t tell me that same BS that ‘we can’t possibly suffer another crisis like last year.’ Or like the year before that? And the one before? See the pattern and apply common sense. It is a very small and easy step to take for potentially great rewards. You are willing to risk 60M on Neymar but adamant to not risk a defender? You let go of Abidal, a guy who knows our system like the back of his hand. You are saying Puyol is our CB signing. That guy, much as i Love him, does NOT have an off button. Or an ability to use his discretion. He will play with full power and break his elbow when the team is 3-0 up. Barca’s style demands intensity and you HAVE to count for injuries over a long season when the team plays more than any other. If you don’t, you are an idiot. And you probably deserve to get thulped 7-0 at a CL Semi final. This is not hard to figure.
    The fact that Barca seemingly willingly allow themselves to be at a constant disadvantage at VARIOUS aspects of the game is truly baffling. And extremely disillusioning. This CB bullshit conundrum is just one of them. People here say JDS has been retained, because he is a useful body for an intense system. I call BS on that because bodies are not what you need for creative roles. You need bodies for defensive cover. Goals win matches. Defense wins titles.

    • It looks like Tata will give Zubi time till the end to find a replacement. Otherwise he will bring Vergini. It’s time we have got that totally useless guy fired. He made the club look clueless in transfer window.

      As far as JDS is concerned he is not as stupid as you think. May be you don’t rate him; the coach do really have a purpose of him. Had he been this crap as you are suggesting he would have not been retained at La Masia. they would have allowed him to go earlier.

      • selfie barça
        August 7, 2013

        Vergini got loaned to Estudiantes de La Plata for this season. JDS will be the new central defender. He will add some much needed height to our backline.

    • ciaran
      August 7, 2013

      Defenders get injured more than players in any other area of the pitch, add to that the fact that they get more suspensions it’s obvious that we need another body or two.
      In a normal healthy season, a central defender will play approx 30-35 league games plus another 10-15 in cup comps. In an unhealthy season that can be 10-15 less games. If we play 60 or so games in a season and have 2 players in central defense in each match then we need to cover 120 games, plus an average of 1 30min substitution every other game that’s another 30 substitute appearances to boot.
      Assuming Masch and Pique both have injuryfree seasons and can play 45 games each (which is more than last season), and even if Barta covered every single one of the 30 sub appearances then it still leaves Puyol playing 30+ full games this season which is 10 more than he managed last season… and he is 35 years old.

      I’m sure that Eric Abidal would have been able to suit up for at least 15-20 games next season if he had stayed so I’m really annoyed that we have not signed anyone.

      Worse case scenario is that Puyol is out for most of the season again and Bartra loses more confidence and isn’t good enough leaving us with 2 central defenders. By the time CL semi finals and the league run in comes we’ll be stretched so thin that it costs us again.

      When I watched the second leg of the CL semi final v Bayern the only saving grace that I told myself was that at least we would learn a lesson from it… seems like I was wrong

    • August 7, 2013

      It would be a Business tragedy, if we repeat the same mistake as last season, not signing a CB.

      I am hoping, may be the club is trying to bring down the buzz around our signing..

  33. CuleToon
    August 7, 2013

    The match against Thailand will start in less than two hours. AFAIK, it will be broadcast in Catalunya by TV3 (free) and GolTV (PPV), and to the rest of Spain only by GolTV.

    How about the rest of you? Is the match broadcast in other countries as well?

  34. Rami
    August 7, 2013

    The club makes a formal offer for David Luiz [Sport][Skysport][MD]

  35. CuleToon
    August 7, 2013

    Hey! Messi and Neymar from the start! 🙂

  36. barcastuff ‏@barcastuff 10m
    Barcelona’s first formal offer for Chelsea centre back David Luiz (26) is worth between 20M and 25M. [md]

    This is a joke. Chelsea can’t afford to sell him. Just look at their squad – got an aging Terry, Ivanović, Gary Cahill, Hutchinson and Tomáš Kalas. Are they foolish?

    • We should stop wasting time on Luiz and look seriously for a back up. The problem is that the whole wide world knows about our desperation and will jack up the price the moment we approach. I know one guy smiling looking at all this – Chygnskiy.

    • ciaran
      August 7, 2013

      The rumour all summer is that Jose wants to bring in Eliaquim Mangala from Porto and is also considering the 18yr old Doria from Botafoga. It would be foolish to sell him but it is easier to be a centre back for Chelsea than for Barca so it is at least possible.

      If Chelsea get €35-40million from us and get Mangala for €20-25million then that isn’t bad business

    • CuleToon
      August 7, 2013

      I still have a lot of faith in Bartra.
      Remember that at the LFP 2012 Prizes Gala, He was elected the best «defender» in general (not only CB) for the 2011-2012 season by Second Division coaches (http://www.marca.com/2012/11/13/futbol/1352811780.html). That was no small feat and, surely, he hasn’t «unlearnt» anything. Let’s see what Tata does with him (for the time being, though, he’s put Bagnak as starter…).

  37. CuleToon
    August 7, 2013

    Starting 11:

    Valdés

    Alves-Bagnack-Piqué-Adriano

    Song-Cesc-Sergi Roberto

    Pedro, MessiNeymar

    • barca96
      August 7, 2013

      Interesting to see a mixed line up. I guess he’s experimenting.

  38. elacule
    August 7, 2013

    watching a link from bein sport, with Phil and Ray —

    Ray just awarded Cesc an exclamation point — Cesc!

    (after his “rainbow” pass to Messi)

    so sweet to hear the crowd singing the Barça hymn, everyone so excited!

  39. ciaran
    August 7, 2013

    Neymar’s first goal was a tap in… go figure

    • ciaran
      August 7, 2013

      and Messi gets a quick second, converting the penalty he was fouled for. Great pass from Pique

  40. elacule
    August 7, 2013

    good morning, everyone!

    wow ~ that was just a gorgeous build up and goal ~

    and about 41 seconds later, a penalty for Messi

    makes me glad these folks are so happy to have Barça there,
    Rayray’s comment about how the Thai keeper would like perhaps a little less entertainment coming at him notwithstanding.

    this might be my second favorite way to wake up!

  41. ciaran
    August 7, 2013

    Pedro smashes in no.3 from inside the box after nice control from Messi with 19mins played

  42. ciaran
    August 7, 2013

    And Messi again slots in a fourth, a simple finish again

  43. ciaran
    August 7, 2013

    Good work from Messi down the right this time, and his cross is met by Pedro after Sergi Roberto dummies it and it’s 5-0.

  44. ciaran
    August 7, 2013

    Bagnack dives in and gives away a penalty after both Pique and Alves get in each others way. Penalty converted and it’s 5-1

  45. CuleToon
    August 7, 2013

    .
    Not many conclusions to draw from this first half, at least for me. The heat and the humidity are so high that, very soon into the match, even the locals were gasping for air and soaking in water as soon as they had an opportunity!

    Many good ideas, but too many inaccuracies. Song specially slow and inaccurate, something that, seeing the rest of the players on the pitch, means quite a lot.

    Nice details by Neymar, but he has to stop diving or he’ll have many, many problems in La Liga: Madrid Media are waiting any chance to burn into his skin the «diver» mark for good.

    More or less above the rest: Piqué, Adriano, Cesc, Pedro, perhaps Neymar and, as almost always, Messi. Bagnak has not been tested, really. In the penalty, the Thai forward dived and, anyway, the alleged fault was clearly outside the area.

    One more thing: In my opinion, Neymar tends to drift too much toward the center of the attack. In the final minutes of the first half, he changed sides with Pedro for about 10 mins.

    ***

    Second half: Pinto, Montoya-Bartra-Masche-Alba, Busi-Xavi-Iniesta, Alexis-Cesc-Pedro.

    (Another goal by Pedro, by the way! So it’s 1-6)

  46. ciaran
    August 7, 2013

    Fabregas passes to Pedro for Pedro to make it 6-1 and get his hattrick with only a couple of mins gone in the second half

  47. ciaran
    August 7, 2013

    and Alexis gets on the scoresheet 7-1 from Iniesta’s pass

  48. ciaran
    August 7, 2013

    Pedro almost got another but it was offside

  49. CuleToon
    August 7, 2013

    Sorry, Pinto in for Valdés now, min. 61.

  50. CuleToon
    August 7, 2013

    From about min 80, Barça is playing with only ten men for no apparent reason. Pedro is gone and no one replaced him ❓

    • elacule
      August 7, 2013

      barcastuff on twitter reports:

      Pedro has a contusion on his calf. He might not be able to play the friendly in Malaysia on Saturday. (source rac1)

      • CuleToon
        August 7, 2013

        Thx. So, we had no more players, it seems.

  51. CuleToon
    August 7, 2013

    Finally! It’s over. The most irrelevant match —and the most irrelevant half— so far. In this second half, Barça played in its «classical» style because of Busi, Xavi and Iniesta, but without «powder» nor inspiration in attack.

    The real tests will be the first Liga match against Levante and, specially, the Supercopa matches against Atleti.

    • Rami
      August 7, 2013

      Quite disappointed with the 2nd half, Considering it was an all new fresh line-up, With our magical trio, Who struck me more as part of the problem more than the solution.
      I hope tata notices their constant reluctance and slowing down of the game.

      • CuleToon
        August 7, 2013

        I wouldn’t put much blame on Busi-Xavi-Ini. For whatever reason, Thailan parked the bus much more than in the first half, perhaps because they were aware of the midfielders they were facing. And our forwards had several chances but they very blunt…

        Let’s see how they play in 12 days.

        • Rami
          August 7, 2013

          From my view the opposition didn’t change their tactics, The reason it might’ve looked to you that they played more defensively is that in the first half the players played fluidly with fast passes and direct play, Which quickly broke down whatever defensive formation thailand tried to maintain.
          Those factors vanished in the 2nd half, Mostly due to the players style of play, Which made thialnd’s job defending a hell of a lot easier.

          • CuleToon
            August 7, 2013

            .
            Could be, of course. But, frankly, I won’t draw any weighty conclusion from today’s match.

          • Jim
            August 7, 2013

            Didnt see the match, just the highlights but is it not possible we decided that 7 was quite enough given that we are guests in their country on a friendly?

  52. stefan2k
    August 7, 2013

    With Pedrito and Lexus that good Ney might have to worry for his starting place 🙂

    Got to love our spanish midfield trio … just nuts how they change the game.

  53. mohit
    August 7, 2013

    Anzhi is selling its superstar players! Eto’o is going to be available. Let’s bring him back!

    • simple_barcafan
      August 7, 2013

      I would love to have Eto’ in the Larsen role…

      • barca96
        August 7, 2013

        Not to nit pick but I would like to notify you that it is spelled Larsson. Eventhough he was with us for only 2 seasons and wasn’t a star but he was extremely important. It’s important to remember the fringe players as well.

        That said, any chance of Eto’o doing a Larsson? I wouldn’t mind but with an ego and salary like his, I don’t think it’s possible. I’m really grateful to him for him as a player and him continuing linking with Barca to bring in African youth players.

  54. simple_barcafan
    August 7, 2013

    With regards to the comments about Valencia above, I am at a loss to understand how much debt they have! …They have been qualifying to the CL on a consistent basis and have been selling players at high prices regularly, still they are high in debt..I know they have problems with the new stadium and all but still..Its even scary to think about the debt of other teams…Hope liga doesn’t collapse around itself…

  55. Oliver
    August 7, 2013

    Missed the game, too early for me in the Western US. 🙂 Glad Neymar got his first goal out of the way, hope Pedro’s knock isn’t serious.

    So how did Bagnack do? He wasn’t on my radar at all before this summer, unlike Dongou. I know he’s still very young, and I have been assuming he’s going back to Barça B after friendly season, but Tata seems to rate him. Since we are talking so much about CBs, is there any chance he leapfrogs Bartra on the depth chart sometime in the near future?

  56. CuleToon
    August 7, 2013

    Hi. As I said above, Bagnak has not been tested, really. In the penalty, the Thai forward dived and, anyway, the alleged fault was clearly outside the area. One thing’s for sure, though: The moment he threw himself to tackle the Thai player, you knew that something bad was going to happen!

    I don’t see him leapfrogging Bartra soon. I’ll repeat that Bartra was the best Second Division «defender» in general (not only CB) for the 2011-2012 season, according to Second Division coaches. Surely, he hasn’t «unlearnt» to defend that much.

    • CuleToon
      August 7, 2013

      Sorry. My comment above was a reply to Oliver.

    • August 7, 2013

      Bartra was also extremely impressive just a few weeks ago at the U21 Euros. He has the skills, he just needs to relax a bit more, IMO.

      Also agree about Bagnack. I’ve been watching him for a couple of years, and he has a lot of talent. I really like what I have seen from him so far in these preseason games. But people need to be careful about overhyping him. He is still very young and has only just been promoted to the B team. He needs a lot more seasoning against much more challenging teams before you could even start to consider him first-team material. This tour should give him lots of confidence, and I look forward to seeing him develop over the upcoming season.

      • selfie barça
        August 7, 2013

        I don’t watch Barça B games but how has Bagnack impressed you against Thailand? He gave up a free header and a penalty…

        • August 7, 2013

          I haven’t watched today’s game yet. I was thinking of the previous games.

          I just ran across this nugget of information:

          “However, it’s not been an easy ride for Bagnack. In the Barca youth levels, he was severely disciplined for what was considered “grave misconduct”, and suspended for the rest of the term. He spent some time back in Cameroon before returning to Barcelona, with the intention of recommitting himself.”

          Anyone know what the “grave misconduct” was?

          Link: http://www.barcablaugranes.com/2013/8/6/4590558/etoo-barcelona–cameroonians-cb-frank-bagnack-and-jean-marie-dongou

          • selfie barça
            August 7, 2013

            aw man, i read about it in SPORT but I forgot… I do know that everybody was impressed by his change in demeanor when he came back.

  57. August 7, 2013

    Why do we want to haggle with chelsea / mourinho?
    If 40M+ is what we are going to be spending to buy a defender (Luiz) why don’t we move directly for Mangala instead?

    • ciaran
      August 7, 2013

      David Luiz is still a much better all around player than Mangala currently, and being a defender for us requires more than for any other team in how you deal with the ball. David Luiz is definitely good enough for that… there would be a question mark around Mangala.

      I read about Anzhi today. It’s incredible… their owner put the entire first team squad up for sale… everyone. He lost €500million in business and has pulled the plug on the whole ‘buying’ success. Going forward he is only going to invest in the youth team and senior players on a very limited budget.

      I don’t see us buying any Anzhi players though. Someone is going to be try to bring Willian to western Europe although I believe he can’t move until January due to Fifa restrictions about playing in more than 2 clubs within 1 year.
      Samuel Eto’o will struggle to find another club willing to pay him €20million a season so I don’t know where he’ll go.

      The player that I’d be interested in for us would be Lacina Traore. He’s physically a beast yet he is good with the ball at his feet. Not the most natural finisher but at 6ft 8in he certainly would be a plan b for our strikeforce and you wouldn’t imagine that he would demand a lot of playing time. He will be in the Ivory Coast squad for next year’s World Cup so that wouldn’t be a problem in terms of visibility for him.
      It’s not going to happen but it would be cool

      • CuleToon
        August 7, 2013

        As norden asked above: Do you know/think is there’s any CB woth of mention at Anzhi?

        • ciaran
          August 7, 2013

          No, Christopher Samba was their only ‘star’ centre back and while he is a decent defender he isn’t our standard and isn’t exactly a ball playing centre back… he is more of a bulldozer

    • selfie barça
      August 7, 2013

      I’m with Ultraculé. Mangala is 22 years old and should only improve. According to http://www.martiperarnau.com/articulos-de-futbol/perfiles/mangala/ he is quite comfortable with the ball on his foot (his weakness would be long passes).

      David Luiz would be a very risky choice, imo. Too anarchaic. A back line that features the likes of Pique, Dani Alves and Jordi Alba needs a CB that (edit: by nature) thinks defense first.

      • August 7, 2013

        Mangala is still a work in progress. Our sporting situation is such that we don’t have time for that. Chelsea, with its roster of established defenders, can do that. Our CB purchase will have to able to play oh, say RIGHT NOW! Aieeee!

        Hence the Luiz/Agger/established dude over the likes of Mangala.

        Spurs picked up Etienne Capoue, a player I rate.

        • selfie barça
          August 7, 2013

          Not sure about that. If we consider Piqué first choice than Mascherano/Puyol/Magala could duke it out.

          If anything it might be preferable over David Luiz who will probably consider himself an automatic starter.

        • Agreed. Either we sign someone who will be a regular starter or we don’t sign anyone. Especially I expect Puyol to be fit only after winter break.

  58. August 7, 2013

    Rumor is that we have bid (today, officially) 20m for Agger and 25m for Luiz. Both won’t go for anywhere near that, if they are sold at all.

    • ciaran
      August 7, 2013

      You’d imagine that €20million would be about the going rate for Agger, certainly less than €25m anyway. David Luiz is a bigger name and Chelsea paid €25m for him when they bought him originally so I wouldn’t expect to get him for less than €35m.

      • August 7, 2013

        Agree. Agger, if he moves, would probably get as high as 25. Luiz would be in the 35-40 range. Frankly, if it was my money, I’d rather take the risk on Luiz at 40 than Thiago Silva at 45+.

        • Agger renewed his contract last year. So Liverpool will not even look at 25 Million. May be 30-35 Million could get them talking. Everyone knows our desperation.

    • James
      August 7, 2013

      Both might not be sold, that’s true. But both won’t go for anywhere near those bids? I think you’re crazy.

      When they both eventually do leave, Agger will go for far less than 20m and Luiz will hover right around the 25m mark, 30m tops. I’m actually surprised we bid 20m for Agger when he has such a poor injury record. He’ll turn 29 this year as well.

      This reminds me of when we went for Bruno Alves in 2009 and they asked for 30m after we were supposedly willing to pay 22-25m. Ended up going for 22m the next year. Hernanes went for 11m 2 years after we bid 15m and they demanded 25m. Arshavin went for 18m after we bid 15m and they asked for 25m.

      The fees for Agger and Luiz are wildly inflated. The English press just throws out bigger and bigger numbers to test the waters and see how much we can stomach.

      I’d rather take a risk on a 10m CB than take a risk on Luiz at 40m. That’s just throwing money away. We weren’t willing to spend 40m last year on the best defender in the world who we thought 100% would fit into our style of play. Now we’re going to shell out 40m for someone who doesn’t 100% convince us or his new coach?

      Give Bartra a chance, he’s never going to become anything unless we take a risk and actually use him. Grab another 10m or cheaper veteran CB as insurance.

  59. PrinceYuvi
    August 7, 2013

    Do you want Xavi to run like Bolt ? Could’ve popped a muscle in this ‘Friendly’ and left us hamstrung half the season. Iniesta a problem ? The guy is never ending well of genius. And I think he pulled an assist.

  60. Jim
    August 7, 2013

    Just watching Celtic in the CL qualifier. Have we thought about Fraser Forster the Celtic keeper? 6ft 7 in, 25, a great shot stopper and much needed height. Not sure about the ball at his feet yet but would come cheap.

    • Jim
      August 7, 2013

      Btw, Celtic through into final qualifier 🙂

  61. selfie barça
    August 7, 2013

    Thank you for the link, Jim. Any newpaper that gives space to Robert Frisk to do his thing is ok by me.

    I’m gonna call your “not sure what to think” and raise you a “wtf”.

    I didn’t know that only four Spanish clubs are allowed to be owned by their members. That’s messed up and I wonder about the reasons behind that decision.

    We are being critized for having an unfair advantage, but there are only three Liga clubs run in a financially viable way: Barça, RM and Athletic Bilbao. And those are three of the four remaining clubs that are owned by their members. Coincidence?

    It seems to me that if anything it should be the other way around. Don’t force the members to sell their club to a private owner / company. Force the owners to sell clubs to the members.

    • morph73
      August 8, 2013

      Within the same article someone had posted a comment stating that when the law was passed in 1990 there were only 4 clubs that showed positive revenue and hence the exemption given.

      Following is the exact comment that was posted:

      Just a point

      Spanish Sport Law (1990), Aditional Provision Seventh:

      “At the time this Act comes into force, those clubs that participate in official competitions of a professional nature in the football modality and that have obtained a positive net capital balance in the audits commissioned by the Professional Football League since the 1985-1986 season, will be able to maintain their present legal structure, unless there is an agreement to the contrary from their assemblies”.

      So, Barcelona, Madrid, Ath. Club and Osasuna are not privileged. They were the only clubs with a positive net balance, no economical problems, not as the rest of league teams in 1990.

      • selfie barça
        August 8, 2013

        Yes, I read the comment section after I replied to Jim. Very interesting.

        I won’t lie, but the possibility of our club not being owned by its members has got me all kinds of worried. And I’m not even a member.

        • morph73
          August 8, 2013

          I am not sure if that is actually going to happen. There are a lot of members owned club in Europe that would have to be considered then.
          More or less what I see happening, if it happens, is that they would be asked to pay the same amount of taxes applicable to other clubs and still would be allowed to member owned.

    • barca96
      August 8, 2013

      He uploads full matches. Amazing stuff. Subscribe.

      ps. I thought that Al-Jazeera will use the same commentary as BeIn Sports since it’s owned by Al-Jazeera.

  62. SoccerMom
    August 7, 2013

    I don’t know if anyone is watching the EE v. Chelsea friendly but there is some serious pregame Cirque du Soleil “Disco Tron” happening right now and I find it highly disturbing.

    • PrinceYuvi
      August 8, 2013

      Mou got Mowed. Hope he keeps on talking and make EE pull their hair out. Wish neymexis score a bucketload against him in cl this year.

    • CuleToon
      August 8, 2013

      I didn’t see RM’s match, SoccerMom, but I did see the match vs Thailand and there was some kind of «Super Bowl» show just before the game. I didn’t find it disturbing, though: just very strange and in a rather very poor taste… Go figure!

    • Miguel
      August 9, 2013

      those dudes on stilts looked like they belonged in something out of a storm trooper pride parade hi SoMa

  63. nia
    August 8, 2013

    According to FCB website, Affelay’s mom passed away. Such a shame losing both parents at such a young age.

    • August 8, 2013

      I feel so sorry for him. I like him a lot, as a person more than a player.
      May be if he had gone to some other big club than Barca, he would have been in a better position now.

    • August 8, 2013

      Do you have the link for that? Because I see nothing on the club website & I’ve been looking for confirmation since someone first tweeted (a couple of days ago) that she had passed away.

  64. August 8, 2013

    Options seem to be thinning down.
    Barcelona! Put all your chips in for either of Rami, Mangala or Vertonghen. Rami will be cheaper, but I am sure 35M should be enough to get Vertonghen or Mangala.

    • morph73
      August 8, 2013

      I am not sure if Vertonghen will be sold by Spurs as they don’t have a defense good enough… It was pretty apparent in the pre-season when he got injured and they looked totally clueless in defense…
      Rather than going for Mangala I would rather have Bagnack and Bartra given more chances… If they are going to invest in a youngster it will kill the morale of the upcoming youngsters from the academy…
      They should have bid in for Rami when he got released from Valencia earlier but I think they want a more marketable CB…
      Looks more of a marketing strategy than a plan to buy a good CB…

      • morph73
        August 8, 2013

        Regarding Rami I think I got confused with some other player still is with Valencia but I guess he is made available for transfer… 🙁
        Just trying to figure out which player was it??? Someone who was linked with Barca during the end of the previous season…

      • August 8, 2013

        Regardless of whether Bagnack or Bartra can cut it at the top level, we need to sign a quick fix. Insanity is defined as doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result.

    • morph73
      August 8, 2013

      I think it was Mathieu who was linked initially but he renewed seeing that Barca were running behind T.Silva at that time as Tito wanted him alone…

  65. Jim
    August 8, 2013

    Well Cesc’s comments at the presser should put Man U’s gas at a peep as we say in Scotland 🙂

    I’ve always been a fan of Moyes but I’ve not really been impressed by the feel of his opening few weeks. I suppose SAF threw in the Rooney grenade on his last day so that’s not down to him.

    • selfie barça
      August 8, 2013

      Yeah, it’s funny that.

      SAF refused to fix his midfield for the last five years, unsettled Rooney and bought a 29-year old injury prone star striker because he wanted to win one more title before retiring.

      Now Moyes will get blamed for the inevitable consequences of Sir Alex’s neglect.

      • August 8, 2013

        And take your last sentence, swap in the names “Vilanova” and “Guardiola,” and things get really interesting.

        • selfie barça
          August 8, 2013

          Hmmm, yes, interesting, but I don’t think it holds up.

          A team as successful as Barça will inevitably experience a “downfall” due to pure psychological reasons. Pep always said he would leave if he felt that the players would stop responding to him.

          The summer before his last season he brought Cesc and Alexis to the club, two big name players who could (should) be corner stones of the team for years to come. In midfield he also gave a lot of minutes to some young dude named Thiago.

          One could argue that he waited one year too long to replace Puyol/Abidal, but by the summer of 2011 Abidal had successfully come back from cancer and nobody was expecting a relapse. The fact that we did not replace either last summer is not Guardiola’s fault.

          To come back to the comparison with SAF, Pep never neglected glaring needs, unsettled star players or bought short term solutions. If anything, in part due to losing the league to M*drid, an ultra-motivated Barça blasted its way to a record breaking league championship under Tito and reached a consecutive 6th CL semi-final.

          • August 9, 2013

            Right. And we should have gotten a CB on Guardiola’s watch, and he had the power/pull to demand one. The squad should have been made deeper, etc. None of that happened. Then he left, for another plum assignment with a team ready to bust out. Coaches know what a club needs. His shortened rotation, late substitutions etc, did damage. Nobody should exempt him from anything.

  66. ciaran
    August 8, 2013

    One of these days we are going to sign a centre back… I keep hoping that today will be the day but as yet no luck.

    Mourinho has responded to all questions about David Luiz by saying basically that he is a good player and that he has a lot of potential but hasn’t specifically said that he won’t be sold. It’s kinda strange.

    Brendan Rodgers came out and was much less cryptic in his statements about Daniel Agger.

    Even though there is a big difference in price between the two, it does look more like Luiz than Agger at this point.

    It’s pointless but I still think that Adil Rami is the one we should be looking at…

  67. August 8, 2013

    In other news, Eric Abidal has been recalled to the French NT for next week’s game against Belgium. I am so happy for him!

    Of course, this makes it even more clear that FCB ditching Abi was less about “concern” over his medical issues and fitness and more (all) about his big wage bill. Considering the club’s ongoing failure to sign a suitable replacement, this is looking more and more like a mistake of epic proportions, both on the sporting side and in terms of public relations. Just speaking for myself personally, I know I will be holding this grudge for a very long time.

    • mei
      August 8, 2013

      The season has not even started. This is looking like nothing right now ,will see later on.

      • Jim
        August 8, 2013

        Yeah, we can’t read too much into this at the moment. If Abi plays the first 15 or so games for his club then maybe we start looking a bit hasty.

    • James
      August 8, 2013

      That doesn’t seem like a logical conclusion to draw. Just because Abidal is healthy thus far the club didn’t have concerns about his health? I know Barcelona certainly aren’t sitting around hoping he’ll be injured this year to prove themselves right. It’s possible they just didn’t want the liability, the worry, the uncertainty.

      I’m sure his big wage was a factor in addition to his health. It’s a risk-reward situation. As far as I know he’s not making as much now than he did at Barca and that’s why his contract with Monaco stalled for so long. It would have been very difficult for Barca to ask him to take a pay cut, any protracted contract discussion would have been a PR issue as well. It was a difficult situation for the club.

      • Come on, man! You could have got the contract re-negotiated splitting the wage in two parts – one guaranteed and other if he plays a minimum amount of games. I would assume Abidal would have accepted that. He looked very keen to get back into the playing eleven at Barca.

        Abidal left very early, what the heck are we still doing here! Vilanova, Zubi and Rosell had no clue about the void left by Abidal. And most probably Tata will get blamed once the season starts.

    • August 8, 2013

      Wait, you mean more than Song or Sanchez? Ha haaaaaa! Although I suppose that technically isn’t true, since opinion isn’t all THAT divided on Song and Sanchez.

      • ciaran
        August 8, 2013

        hahaha, I happen to think that Alexis will be up there with the best in the world this season in terms of performances. I also think that he still won’t get the credit he deserves.
        Song I think is a good player to have in the squad, like Keita was but, like Keita, I think that he won’t start as many games as his quality deserves

      • selfie barça
        August 8, 2013

        Actually SPORT readers voted Alexis as their first choice to start besides La Pulga and O Ney.

        • Why should Alexis start ahead Pedro? Pedro has a better conversion rate and is a proven goal scorer, especially in big matches and really works well with our pressing. Alexis had a good pre-season, then Pedro had a better one. So for me Pedro is a must start on the right.

          • Jim
            August 9, 2013

            Not sure we can take much out of pre-season activities. It’s a different matter once the serious stuff starts. At the moment I’m just happy to see us pressing and scoring goals. It’d be good to see Alexis starting to live up to the price tag and also Pedro get a bit of bite back into his game. Competition for places is always good.

  68. Dani_el
    August 8, 2013

    Cesc according to Barça Stuff and Sport: “My dream has always been to play at Barça and nothing has changed. I’m very, very happy here and I never thought about leaving. I never had any doubt. It has cost me a lot to return to Barça and now I want to triumph here. It’s an honour United makes two bids, but there have been no talks. I didn’t talk with any club since I joined Barça two years ago. I didn’t have to clear up anything, because for me it was clear I wanted to stay. I told the club I’d talk when it was my turn. Things have been invented. It’s also not true that I have asked for a contract renewal.
    There will be no one like Xavi. When he retires Barça will never play the same way.”

    I liked his last sentence. Though it is an obvious thing to say it might reduce some pressure from some fans that want him to become Xavi and control the game laterally as him. Cesc is not Xavi, and if Cesc, Busi, Messi, Iniesta, or even Espinoza some day assume his position on the field, Barça will never play the same. I think (want) that we will not abandon our philosophy, and maybe we will be a team that will finish plays more often, will be a little more vertical and will take advantage of good counter-attacks. I trust Cesc will have an important role on the team. People may not like his face, or him being slow, or not pressing as much as Pedro (more likely in a different way), but Cesc is a talented player, he has an advantage on his vision of the game to give assists and be in the right place many times to score goals, and I’m happy he will be staying on our team, hopefully for many years. 🙂

    • ciaran
      August 8, 2013

      I tried to post two videos about Cesc earlier but they are still awaiting moderation…
      Just go to youtube and search for Cesc Fabregas all goals and assists and you will see a compilation from last season and another from the season before.
      To claim that he isn’t fast enough or doesn’t work hard enough or slows our game is a false representation of what he brings to our game.
      He is a far more offensive player than either Xavi or Iniesta and makes us a more dangerous team.
      Note: I said more dangerous… not necessarily better.

      Due to his more attacking passes and numerous forward runs we are not as defensively strong with Cesc in our midfield three but if we are a bigger threat going forward then it is a calculated risk that I for one hope Tata takes on a very regular basis in the bigger matches this season.

      • stefan2k
        August 8, 2013

        I agree that he can add a lot to the attacking game and he sure has his qualities nevertheless I remember games from last season in which every pass to Cesc equalled a ball lost. This especially occurred when the opponent was pressing hard.

      • selfie barça
        August 8, 2013

        I might be wrong here, but the feeling (and problem) I have with Cesc’ excellent goals and assist stats is that they have tended to come in glutches. So for every goal he has had one or two games in which he underperformed. I’m gonna be positive and say that he still has a lot of room for growth in, or along with, our system.

  69. Dani_el
    August 8, 2013

    This is an excellent interview with Masche:
    http://deportes.elpais.com/deportes/2013/08/07/actualidad/1375897850_795302.html

    “I’m here as a firefighter, to fill holes, and that works out for me. I always had it clear that the day that I become a problem for the club I will leave without waiting for them to kick me out. I don’t come here to create problems, but to give solutions.
    About the need to find another central defender: “I know that my height is 1.74, I understand that Barça is looking for a defender”.
    About press conferences: “You go there and they’ll ask you about anything. What I want in a presser is to talk about football. For example if you have 3 strikers to deal with, I cant man-mark them I’d have to leave 4 guys there. Football is the dynamic of the unthinkable. And belongs to the players, don’t you doubt it.

    About what’s special in Martino’s way of training: In South America there’s a different way of training. There’s old ways of tranining, it hasn’t evolved like here in Europe, but things will change. Football is one sport and we play it with a round ball all over the world. In the end it’s about passing the ball to a partner and attack and avoid the other team scoring a goal.

    About him being a good coach: I’ll try but it all depends on the players.

    • simple_barcafan
      August 8, 2013

      Masche always gives classy interviews..One of the few whom the press respects i think…

    • stefan2k
      August 8, 2013

      I hate that he sees himself as second or even third choice … he has given us excellent service and should be valued much higher for his speed, tacklings and crossings. His partnership with Pique had its ups and downs but so did Pique-Puyol.

  70. Dani_el
    August 8, 2013

    Mourinho: “It’s lost time for Barça. My advice is to go to the second player on their list because they are wasting time.”
    Mourinho (coach Chelsea): “Barcelona bidding for David Luiz? We don’t want to lose our best players. No chance.”
    ‏@barcastuff

    Liverpool’s coach said something like he spoke with Agger and he wouldn’t leave his team and that Agger would prove to be loyal.

    Is it a show of force of rival team’s coaches to take more money out of us or are they speaking the truth? Mou seems like it, and that says a lot…

  71. flyzowee
    August 8, 2013

    God we are a f*cking laughing stock.

    Our scouts should have been scrambling the globe for a defender the minute the Referee blew his whistle at the Allianz arena.

    This has to be a night mare.

    • I have told you we need to fire that guy – Zubi. He is absolutely clueless. Don’t worry we will sign one more defensive midfielder and use try to use him like Song.

      • barca96
        August 9, 2013

        But it’s not just about Zubi. There are many parties involved. If I’m not mistaken, a football directors job is to deliver players requested by the coaches and the scouts.

        Tito requested Thiago Silva which was nearly impossible and we all know the reasons why.

        Who said else did Tito requested for besides Silva that we know of?

        Look, if Tito or Tata requested for a player that has a high chance of coming such as Vergini, I’m confident Zubi would’ve delivered. Transfers are not just about what we want, there are many factors involved. The club’s willingness to sell and agreeing to a transfer price, the willingness to move and then agreeing to personal terms and the player’s agent willingness to push the club for a transfer.

        Players like Vergini, Rami, Matthieu are to my eyes easy targets. Silva was probably the most impossible. Mangala and Marquinhos was just about transfer fee. I think the club should’ve made a bid for him but clearly Zubi wasn’t given the go ahead.

        • Jim
          August 9, 2013

          I think we also need to remember that in the case of TS and Marquinhos we came up against a club to whom money means very little. I’m not so down on Zubi as some. We’ve gone through another strange set of circumstances, even since the season finished. Maybe our luck is about to change.

          • The Marquinhos bid was a response to our pursuit of Thiago Silva. Had we concentrated on him from the begining of the season, we could have sealed it before anyone had a look. Instead we went after Silva also announcing we have a back up in Marq; PSG got irritated and said they will bid for Messi, then realize there was a better way to hurt us.

        • A football director’s job is not to deliver the player who has been asked for. His job is to assess the request and appraise on it. How on earth they even thought they could price out him from PSG?

          His job was to analyse the possibility of it. His job was to make Tito understand that Silva would be a very difficult choice, so that he would look at other options. Instead it looks like the moment Tito said Thiago Silva, he said “OFF to the Work”.

          If Tata tomorrow gets up and say I need CR from Madrid, will Tito fly directly to Madrid.

  72. Oliver
    August 9, 2013

    Just stringing together a few recent quotes as collected by Barcastuff:

    Messi: “We have to recover things we did before: pressing and ball recovery. That’s what Tata emphasizes most and we’re all very motivated.”

    Pedro: “Tata Martino talks a lot with us. He asks us to show a lot of character and we’re recovering things that we had lost.”

    Martino: “We’re showing some signs, regarding ball recovery, high pressing and direct attacks, that make me feel satisfied.”

    This is what we all expected, but it’s nice to see it so explicitly reported and recognized: recovering Barça’s pressing seems to be Tata’s number one emphasis.

    Now even players like Leo and Pedro seem to accept that our old defensive style was “lost” and needs to be “recovered”. So my question is: why was it lost in the first place? A different tactical emphasis by Vilanova? A lack of focus by the players? Fatigue? Some of each? It’s nice, but just a little strange, for the players to be dutifully reporting how they are trying to restore something that was so obviously missing.

      • August 9, 2013

        No, it’s even simpler. Guardiola left Vilanova with an emotionally, mentally and physically hammered team. That the group hung on long enough to get the Liga won, much less in record style, was a miracle.

        Sometimes, the body says “enough” and players have to hit the reset button. But the lack of pressing started when the players starting breaking down mentally.

        • dl
          August 10, 2013

          I agree. I also think the mental/emotional strain of so many medical (puyol, etc.) and life (tito, abi) traumas simply tipped the scales. There are too many other hugely talented, motivated and hungry teams looking for an chance to win. I think things look hopeful for the year, even if we don’t win all or even much. I think we’ll see some lovely football.

  73. barca96
    August 9, 2013

    On the way to watch the boys train. So excited!!

    • stefan2k
      August 9, 2013

      Give us a little report afterwards 🙂

  74. selfie barça
    August 9, 2013

    Our season starts on aug 19. On Aug 14 Spain will play a friendly in Ecuador. This is ridiculous. I think it high time the club takes a stand and asks our players not to go.

    • August 9, 2013

      Well you got your wish in part. Xavi, Pique, and Busquets were not called up. Iniesta, Alba, Valdes, Cesc & Tello were.

      If the club refuses to release players when called up, they can be fined or otherwise penalized to the point where FIFA can actually bar them from participating in competitions. I agree that this particular game is completely unnecessary, but the club can’t just outright ban the players from going.

      (In other news, Thiago got called up! And Isco! Full list is here: http://www.theguardian.com/football/feedarticle/10922891 )

        • selfie barça
          August 9, 2013

          I guess VdB not asking certain players to travel is something, but still, the club could ask the players to refuse to travel all around the world to play meaningless friendlies, or at least exert pressure on the Spanish Football Federation. What other country does that, anyway? What we really should do is ban friendlies altogether.

          • August 9, 2013

            I don’t think you understand. If a player refuses to travel, both the player & the club get penalized. FCB could be banned from participating in competitions like the Champions League, for example. This is why clubs make up fake injuries during international weeks. But if they get caught they and the player get punished.

            Do you seriously think any of our players are going to risk getting a ban from NT call-ups in a World Cup year?

  75. ciaran
    August 9, 2013

    Cristian Tello has been called up for the senior team for the first time… congrats to him.
    Isco, Inigo Martinez, Koke, Isco and Tello from the u21s.

  76. Clouseau
    August 9, 2013

    Happy for Tello call up an welcoming confidence boost up 🙂

    Would have prefered Xavi to travel instead of Cesc/Iniesta.

    • Jim
      August 9, 2013

      Why would you want Xavi to go rather than either of those two who are younger and fitter?

      • Clouseau
        August 9, 2013

        Xavi is less fragile than those two bar the france qualifier – which was rather caused by himself – he always came back in an acceptable shape.

  77. simple_barcafan
    August 9, 2013

    I feel PSG wait for players whom we shortlist and then just outbid us…

  78. Dani_el
    August 9, 2013

    “We heard from the dressing room that Martino’s physical trainer working methology is a little outdated, that he doesn’t care much about gym training and that he is not aware of the european way of training. But there’s a complete confidence in the club that he will learn to hear Paco Seirulo’s advice about physical preparation in the last few years, and he will learn to adapt for the need of the squad to work with the ball. As a matter of fact, in Bangkok he confessed his surprise about the presence of the ball in trainings.”
    http://deportes.elpais.com/deportes/2013/08/08/actualidad/1375986535_638155.html

    • August 9, 2013

      Thanks, Dani_el. I posted this on twitter and someone said I must have mistranslated that last bit. Good to know I had it correct!

      I’m not worried. Tata seems like an intelligent guy who is willing to learn new methods. The club isn’t going to let him throw out training methods that are basic to our philosophy and playing style. They never would have hired him if they thought he would do that.

      (And I can’t imagine players like Xavi or Busquets letting him, either. They would sneak in at night and have their own private rondos just for fun. 😛 )

  79. barca96
    August 9, 2013

    Hi Stefan. Your wish is my command 🙂

    5 – 6.30pm. Malaysian football team had a practice session. Later found out the major difference in the 2 teams. Huge difference in the tempo. Top 3 team in the world vs 162nd national team in the world 🙂 I wondered how some of them are even professionals when they look down all the time when dribbling and/or can’t pass.

    6.45pm. The team bus arrives. The coaches went straight to the pitch as they walked into the stadium while the players headed straight into the dressing room.

    The coaches plucked the grass. At first, when they plucked it, I didn’t think much about it as many players do that when entering the pitch. The coaches on the other hand plucked and smelled (I thought it was called sniffed but after doing some research, the word smell is used for more a deliberate, more intense purpose)the grass. And they did that every time after taking a few steps. It was funny to me but I guess there is some science involved.

    I don’t understand why the Malaysian team had to train on the same pitch and before Barca does. By the time the superstars arrived, the pitch is in a mess.

    The coaches didn’t particularly look happy with the condition of the pitch. I am not sure if this was because of the condition of the pitch because they brought in an extra goal to be placed on the halfway line to make it a half pitch or it was deliberate to split up the field.

    7.30pm. Players come out. Surprisingly, Neymar got the 2nd or 3rd (tie with Iniesta) loudest cheer. I didn’t expect him to be a fan favorite already or perhaps those that cheered were more of a Neymar fan.

    a) They did some stretching drills and then passing between 2 players. Messi for some reason walked and stood by himself. I guess it’s part of his special program.

    b) Rondos. As I expected, Busi, Messi, Iniesta and Xavi were the kings. I wanted to bet with my little brother that Busi wouldn’t ever get to the middle. He went only once. Messi never.

    After a while the defenders went to the other side of the pitch where the poles are to do some drills as the midfielders and forwards kept on playing rondos. I believe it was a drill on how to play the ball out from the back. They started from the right and moved the ball to the left. They were split into 2 teams of 4.

    c) Shots. The midfielders and forwards then went on to do a shooting drill. They did a 1-2 just at the edge of the box and took a shot.

    One thing I would like to add since it reminded me a game I used to play in Holland with the same style as this drill. It’s called Amerikanen or in English, the Americans. I have no idea why. Maybe Levon could elaborate more.

    Messi had a near 100% rate. Iniesta was good too surprisingly. He kept on curling the ball. Pedro and Alexis seems to have found their shooting boots back. Confident shooting and finishing.

    d) They played a 4 a side match. Messi is the neutral player. He is with the team who possesses the ball. He’s the one with the light blue vest here; https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/998448_10200244224417071_320980855_n.jpg

    Cesc and Alexis combined well just like in the matches.

    Iniesta had 2 of his typical moves near the byline. Both times before it happened I was telling myself “no way he would go that way and make it” but on both occasions he made it out. My jaws dropped on the floor.

    9pm – Session ended. One player stayed back and was stretched by the coaching staff. However I couldn’t catch who it was as my view was blocked by a huge crowd who were standing for the whole time.

    • selfie barça
      August 9, 2013

      Hahaha Amerikanen, that takes me back a couple of lifetimes. As I recall there is one goal, one keeper and two or three players who all play for themselves. The person who first gets three goals does not have to play a keeper in the next round.

      Do you remember “tienen”?

      • barca96
        August 9, 2013

        It’s been over 13 years but if I recall correctly who ever bids the closest number >10 will start as the GK and he will obviously start with a >10 points while the rest start with 10 points.

        GK rolls the ball and you can only shoot from outside the box. If you score, you deduct one point of your score and the GK stays in goal. Every goal counts as one.

        If you miss, you go in goal and the GK will line up outside the box to take shots.

        The last person to reach 0 will get a billenbrand, a shot to the buttocks from a few metres from each player.

        yeah I remember tienen. My favorite as it’s a good way to improve touch and a good time to be creative. Bicycle kick time! 😆

  80. barca96
    August 9, 2013

    Football related notes.

    – Bagnack’s passing stood out for me in a negative way. He doesn’t look confident on the ball and his passing is very un-Barcalike.

    – Alexis seems like a man possessed as he has been throughout the pre-season. He is on fire!! This is his breakthrough season.

    – Pedro seems to have got his confidence back. For the past few weeks I’ve been watching some matches of the past season and Pedro seemed to has had the same issues as Villa whereby they shoot directly to the keeper. As I said on many occasions in regards to Villa, it’s shows a lack of confidence of a player to shoot straight.

    Thankfully Pedro has none of that now as he always aimed at the corners during the training session and in the pre-season matches.

    – Neymar and Cesc surprisingly poor, a hit and miss. Actually a few of Neymar’s were good but they were off target. Cesc’s were just all over the place. Busi and Xavi were extremely poor. Both of their shots were soft and/or straight to the keeper. I believe they both only scored one each.

    I said this many times before. The way Xavi shoots is how the goalkeeping coach does a drill with the keeper or when you play the crossbar challenge. He puts the boot into the ground and slices at the ball instead of putting the boot through it. I found something similar on YouTube as my explanations are a bit sketchy; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLqN3wwFb90

    – JDS. Forgot to mention that his shots were good too. His successful ratio (I don’t just count goals. I count near misses as successful too) is similar to Iniesta. I remembered he had a scorching shot many years back against an English team that hit the bar.

  81. barca96
    August 9, 2013

    Non football related.

    – Neymar clearly is taught his PR skills. He waved and looked to the crowd on a number of occasions. Even when he got out of the dressing room and walked into the team bus, he was the only one that looked up and shook hands with fans.

    – Messi on the other hand is in great need of PR skills. He never even looked at the crowd once let alone wave or smile.

    There was this kid, around 10 years old, who was screaming Messi’s name at the top of his lungs during the entire session. Messi didn’t even bother to look once. Poor kid. You can see here that the players were on our side most of the time and that kid was right at the railing (he’s not in the photo though); https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/995776_10200243973650802_1625628548_n.jpg

    Pretty disappointing when all these years I’ve always used Messi’s supposedly friendliness as another feather in the cap against Ronaldo. I was secretly hoping for someone to invade the pitch and hug Messi and Messi milking it like Ronaldo did recently. I was disappointed at myself for thinking that way but as long as it helps Messi’s image.

    – Messi and Pinto are BFF. They walked onto the pitch together and even walked out of the dressing room and into the bus together. What is up with Messi with veterans on their last year contracts? 🙂

    Sylvinho and Milito were the previous ones. Who is it going to be next? Puyol?

    – Pique looked like a tower out there. Busquets and Song are tall too but Pique looks really big. Messi looked like a kid.

    – I sat exactly on the other side of the tunnel (where the players enter/exit) and my eye sight is bad, -400. So I had to rely on my knowledge of each player’s style of walking in order to spot them coming out of the tunnel.

    But with Messi, it was a bit funny. I saw a short player touching his baby maker area and I knew immediately it was him 😆 He does that a lot. Anyone else notices that?

    – When the players did the drills, I noticed one unpleasant thing. It looked like there is some kind of cliques within this team. You have the South American group, African guys, Catalan and the rest. They appeared to be playing with their own clique.

    I thought it will be mixed up. I hope nobody else picked that up especially the media besides me. It could create a negative story. It was so obvious though to the point I couldn’t turn a blind eye.

    Anyone else who has been to their training session seen similar pattern?

    • August 10, 2013

      Yeah, Messi does do that a lot.

      Your observation on the rondo segregation is accurate. I’m really not sure why it’s done in that way.

      Our team really does lack good PR skills, that’s for sure. At the open training a couple of years ago, they had to be coerced into just doing a round of the pitch to wave goodbye to all the fans who had turned up.

      Apart from going across and making a big deal out of all the fans in wheelchairs, there was not much interaction with the rest of us.

      Only Fontas, Abi & Maxwell stopped to give autographs.

      That’s why Neymar is a breath of fresh air. His handlers have done a great job with him. On top of it, a lot of his charm seems to come naturally. Before the Thailand match the other night, as he passed all the kids who came out with the players, he patted each one on the head or shoulder and looked at all of them. Stuff like that can’t be totally taught – it comes from within.

  82. barca96
    August 9, 2013

    Unpleasant notes.

    – Some idiots managed to invade the pitch. Gotta give them credit for their determination though. It is amazing how they managed to invade the pitch when there is a huge gap separating the seats and the pitch; *http://soccerlens.com/files/2009/10/bukit-jalil-national.jpg

    Apparently one guy didn’t make the leap back to the seats section successfully and fell down. I wasn’t happy with their behaviour and I must add that all but one of them was actually a Malaysian.

    The biggest idiots were the security. The players stopped on the way back to the dressing room to greet the VIP’s which was on top of the tunnel. For some reason, all the security seems to be fixed there.

    The other biggest idiots were the photographers who rush over to take photos of the invaders after they made their way back. This will only lead them to think that it’s fine to do it, again. Instead of reprimanding them they glorify these kinds of actions.

    – It was so irritating to see the VIP section being filled up by less than 5%; *https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-frc1/1001405_10200243971690753_1309657713_n.jpg

    The blue seats in the middle and the red ones directly next to it are the #1 VIP seats. The most special.

    Plastic fans perhaps who didn’t value the tickets (free or paid). A lot of the VIP’s don’t actually pay for the tickets. They are most likely from the privileged society or are products from corruption. Hopefully you’ll understand why there is a slight angry tone used by me.

    – There wasn’t a huge crowd. This was mainly due to it being on the 2nd day of Eid Mubarak in Malaysia. Majority of the people are back in their hometowns far from the city.

    I on the other hand would not miss this opportunity. Was supposed to go to Barcelona in 1998 but something important came up, thankfully actually, my Mom conceived my little brother who of course is a Barca fan;
    *http://distilleryimage4.s3.amazonaws.com/fb559a0ac85311e2af2c22000a1f9069_6.jpg

    • August 9, 2013

      Thanks very much for all your observations, barca96!

      (Although I am a little disturbed by the thought of you being present while your mother conceived your little brother. Perhaps you meant gave birth to? 😛 )

      (really cute picture!)

    • stefan2k
      August 9, 2013

      Thanks a lot … interesting read!

  83. PrinceYuvi
    August 9, 2013

    This shall be the summer when Most Barca fans lost their hair worrying about signing a CB.

  84. barca96
    August 9, 2013

    Question #1

    I haven’t been to stadiums much. Only been twice to watch Feyenoord play in de Kuip in Rotterdam and this was in mid 90’s. I can’t recall whether it was ok to stand in the stadium. I thought it’s natural to stand up. Of course I didn’t stand up all the time but I did it during the exciting moments.

    However there was a British guy right behind me who kept on barking at the foreign students who were standing straight from the get go. I felt awkward to stand again after that.

    Is there an unwritten rule where we can’t stand or was the British guy annoyed at those foreign university students because they stood non stop from the beginning? They were quite annoying actually as they stood up non stop and chit chat amongst each other. Sometimes they even stood on the seats!!

    I was planning to ask him after the session ended but he left before I had the chance to ask him. Now I am not sure whether I should stand (only for the exciting moments)or not.

    • selfie barça
      August 9, 2013

      Proper etiquette in de Kuip is to stand up when things get exciting and to sit down when the person behind you threatens to restructure the area between your neck and your forehead.

      • barca96
        August 9, 2013

        LMAO.. Good one.

        But seriously, what is the actual etiquette or like an unwritten rule for the fans in the stadium?

    • August 9, 2013

      In England it is actually forbidden to stand up in many stadiums, certainly in the newer ones. This stems from the terrible tragedies where people were trampled or crushed to death and a general crackdown on “hooligan” behaviour. People who dare to stand up and cheer their team can be kicked out & have their season tickets revoked.

      Many people think that England has gone too far in the name of “safety” and have damaged the enjoyment and atmosphere in the stadiums. They are lobbying to have the rules relaxed or at least to have special “safe” standing areas installed.

  85. barca96
    August 9, 2013

    @CuleToon or any other Catalan speaker

    I would like to shout please don’t leave Barca Valdes tomorrow. I shouted that to him just now as he entered the bus but I doubt he understood what I was saying IF he actually heard me.

    I got no deixi si us plau from Google Translate. To my ears, it sounds like “no day shi si us plau”. Is that the correct way of saying it or is it a mistake from Google?
    Do I add Valdes at the beginning or the end?

    When I saw Busquets entering the bus I shouted Badia in order to catch his attention. That’s where his from and I thought not many people would say that.

    I only opened my mouth twice during the entire night. Hehe. I am a bit conscious especially in public. I only shouted at Busi because I am madly in love him (football wise!) and I do not want Valdes to leave.

    Many thanks in advance

    • CuleToon
      August 9, 2013

      Better bring a megaphone with you tomorrow!

      Lets see those phrases : I’ll write: a) the english version; b) a makeshift pronounciation:

      a) Valdés, please don’t leave!
      b) Valdés, no tehn váhjeez, par fah-vawr!

      a) Valdés, don’t leave us!
      b) Valdés, naw ans dáy-xees!

      a) Valdés, stay
      b) Valdés, kéh-that

      I think the first one is too long… Tell us how it goes and, above all, have a good time, barça96 🙂

  86. barca96
    August 9, 2013

    Oh damn it. They changed the venue to another stadium because of the poor pitch condition. This is the national stadium and they’ve never ever managed to maintain it properly. I thought that since Barca are so strict about it they would buck up.

    Now instead of a 25mins drive becomes a 45mins drive. But that’s not my main concern. It is how will the seating arrangement be affected?!!

    I purposely bought this particular match ticket because it has the best value. The seating position is on the lowest tier and I can get a seat right at the corner if I am early.

    There were 4 more expensive tickets but they were all on the middle tier which I do not find so attractive as I prefer to see the players closer.

    I actually stayed back after the training session and took a walk in and around the stadium to to get to my seat in the fastest time by seeing where it’s best to park and which gate to enter.

    Oh well as long as the players are having a lower risk of getting an injury…

  87. selfie barça
    August 9, 2013

    Thank you for your notes about the training you attended, barca96. I really enjoyed reading that!

    • barca96
      August 9, 2013

      Haha I wouldn’t have done it if stefan didn’t asked me to. It took me a 3 hours. This is what happens when you learn a few languages but unable to master one of them.

      I hope it’s ok I posted the unpleasant notes. I know it’s not going to do the mood here any good but I prefer to tell the truth (at least through my eyes as another person could interpret them differently).

      • August 9, 2013

        Those thoughts are very interesting. Thanks for posting them. I figure the clique issue is simply players gravitating toward others to make the whole language and shared interest thing easier, particularly the Catalans.

        • selfie barça
          August 9, 2013

          Idk I wondered about that also, especially upon seeing how Neymar is often surrounded by the other Brazilians of the team. Cruijff (and a whole host of other coaches) would always room players from different countries together as to avoid cliques in the team. Of course we always travel on match day, so that is no longer a possibility.

          • August 9, 2013

            It’s only natural for players to gravitate towards those they share a language/culture with. Song, Dongou & Bagnack are all from Cameroon & are probably enjoying speaking French together. Dani & Adriano are translating for Neymar, whose Spanish sucks. Messi loves him some Masche and Pinto. As long as it’s not done to excess I have no problem with it. As barca96 pointed out, the training groups are often split up by position as well, so I don’t really see an issue unless one player starts being excluded.

            I know Pep always insisted that during team meals everyone speak either Catalan or Spanish, I wonder if that rule is still in place?

          • selfie barça
            August 9, 2013

            Barca96, did Valdes and Pinto train together? A lot has been made of those two not liking each other.

  88. elacule
    August 9, 2013

    hi ~

    i feel concerned about something and wonder if anyone has some insight.

    when the call up list for the upcoming ESP friendly was published, I was curious about the Barça players not on it. Through the day, various explanations have trickled through on barcastuff (twitter).

    the final question was about Busquets. Here’s what barcastuff reported:
    Busquets: “Talked with Del Bosque and we agreed best thing was not to play against ECU, out of precaution because of my athletic pubalgia.”

    i looked up “athletic pubalgia” and read that although it can be played through at first, it typically progresses into a chronic condition. that seems like it could be dire for this season, as much as Busquets adds to the team.

    yikes.

  89. Robert
    August 9, 2013

    Hey, anyone playing any fantasy footy games this year?

    • selfie barça
      August 9, 2013

      No. I’m trying to download FM 2013 but I can’t seem to find a version that works 🙁

      • Robert
        August 10, 2013

        Dunno bro, the last one I played was FM11. I got sick of it after playing 25 seasons with Udinese. Yes, it was the year 2036 when I quit 😀

        I think kickass torrents usually has good cracks.

  90. providence
    August 9, 2013

    what an interesting Post from barca96 … You made me imagine the training Processes as if I was there …

    The First time I saw you on bfb I suspected that you’re Sid Lowe. (still suspect tho). Thanks for the updates.

  91. August 9, 2013

    Apparently the players think this tour is a mess. Club saved 300k by doing a less-nice airline, fatigue, players getting sick, etc.

    • Nik
      August 9, 2013

      How much longer do you think before Laporta chimes in with his comments on this clusterf*ck of a tour?

    • August 10, 2013

      The aircraft charter company should be investigated.

      1. Panels fall off the ceiling on the way from BCN to Israel.
      2. Upon landing in Tel Aviv, oxygen masks fall down.
      3. The plane is delayed for hours leaving Thailand because it hasn’t loaded enough fuel to carry out a last minute routing change by Air Traffic Control. Serious questions are raised as to why the aircraft is operating without a sufficient emergency supply.
      4. The food on board is substandard.
      5. Alba’s sickness is being attributed to the aircraft, although this is a long shot unless more players come down with the same symptoms.

      The team doesn’t need this crap on top of what has been one of the shittiest preseasons that they’ve had to endure.

      The team is being endangered by such practices.

      The mission to Israel/Palestine was a waste of time, and this was the main reason for the substandard aircraft in which they had to travel. That, and Rosell’s penny-pinching measures. He left the tour after Israel and came back to Barcelona, so he’s not even experiencing the effects of his austerity.

      As most will know, most Middle Eastern carriers do not fly to Israel. That immediately ruled Qatar Airways out of supplying one of their aircraft, even though they are the main sponsor for the whole trip and are lauding the tour on their website and doing a better job of PR than FCB is doing:

      http://www.qatarairways.com/english_global/press-release.page?pr_id=pressrelease_130807-fcbasiantourday1

      http://www.qatarairways.com/english_global/press-release.page?pr_id=pressrelease_130808-fcbasiantourday2

      http://www.qatarairways.com/english_global/press-release.page?pr_id=pressrelease_130809-fcbasiatourday3

      Ironically, if the club had stuck with Turkish Airlines, this wouldn’t have been a problem as they do fly into Israel.

      The logistics and planning around preseason is non-existent in terms of welfare of the players. This happens when the club starts chasing the $$$ instead of deciding what’s best to prepare the team for the upcoming season.

      The whole thing has been a shambles and short of a disgrace. Unhappy players barely acknowledging fans turning out to see them, unhappy fans feeling unappreciated, substandard pitches, injuries and games against Thailand and Malaysia who, bless them, are playing their hearts out, but are hardly the required quality to give our boys a tough workout and preparation. Instead, the heat and humidity is doing that – and not in a positive way.

      The only quality team that we’ve come up against during preseason is Bayern Munich, and that was a sham because of all the NT players missing from our ranks.

      Some lessons need to be learned from all this, but I doubt that anything will change when the board seems intent on chasing the money – and not even managing to properly do that, either.

  92. ciaran
    August 10, 2013

    I know that reading ‘news’ or gossip stories in the English media is eventually going to make me go insane but for some sick reason I still do.
    The thing that is making me annoyed the most is the whole ‘Cesc not guaranteed first team football thing’ coming from them. The consequences of this are that now English people think that Cesc doesn’t get a game and it’s inevitable that he moves to United or that Arsenal will just buy him back in the next year or two.

    It’s pathetic and really annoying. In the league he started more games than any outfield player last season and played more minutes than everyone except for Messi, Valdes and Pique. Add to that he will probably play more next season. In the champions league we were more cautious so he played less.

  93. ciaran
    August 10, 2013

    Barca team to play Malaysia
    Valdes
    Alves Pique Masch Alba
    Xavi Busquets Iniesta
    Alexis Cesc Neymar

    • ciaran
      August 10, 2013

      Barca’s official site reports it as Cesc in midfield with a front three of Alexis Neymar Iniesta so we’ll see

      • ciaran
        August 10, 2013

        Iniesta starts in midfield with Cesc as false 9

  94. ciaran
    August 10, 2013

    1-0 32mins gone
    Cesc with a header from Alba’s cross

  95. 86ed
    August 10, 2013

    It could be the pitch, it’s most likely the very few games Iniesta, Xavi, and Busquests have played since the Confed. Cup, but boy are we slow in midfield. Too many horizontal passes; and the vertical ones go astray frequently. They’ll get better with more games, certainly, but maybe it’s time to play that trio together less often?

  96. ciaran
    August 10, 2013

    1-1 great finish from the Malaysian.
    Alba intercepts a through ball and the rebound falls to the forward and he smashes it past Valdes

  97. ciaran
    August 10, 2013

    2-1 Neymar with a fantastic turn and finish from Cesc’s pass

  98. stefan2k
    August 10, 2013

    Something stinks … even Busi is off :/

    Nice goal from Ney!

  99. Ryan
    August 10, 2013

    Smooth turn and finish from Neymar! Having another goal scorer on the team is going to be fun!

  100. ciaran
    August 10, 2013

    3-1 Pique with a stunning finish from a Cesc flicked through ball

    • ciaran
      August 10, 2013

      I like seeing Pique with the captain’s armband, hopefully he’ll refocus this season and eventually be our captain

      • Jim
        August 10, 2013

        No need to refocus imo, he just needs a regular partner…… Oh wait 🙁

  101. Nik
    August 10, 2013

    Neymar & Cesc left with ankle injuries, and Messi apparently didn’t start because of a ”
    “thigh muscle overburdening” (via @RafaelH117). What a lovely tour this turned out to be. Gracias, Ro$elll.

  102. Jim
    August 10, 2013

    Can we keep a cool head about events so far? Its gonna be a long season.

    We always go on tours, we always moan about them, somebody always gets injured ( as I understand it Messi’s was a training discomfort ).

    Although there are some down points we have also seen enough to know Neymar will add a fair bit of firepower ( that first touch for his goal was sublime), Pedro and Alexis are using the games to get into form, some of our NT players are gonna get a rest as they’ve not been called up, the youngsters have shown well and Tata seems to have reinstated pressing.

    If the sun fails to rise tomorrow there has to be at least a slim chance that its not Rosell’s fault?

    • Jafri
      August 10, 2013

      Well of course it’s his fault. He decided to use the cheaper Sun that doesn’t work all the time.

      • August 10, 2013

        Substandard airline, hotel, food and pitch conditions all contribute to the problem. Yes, clubs take pre-season tours to make money, but you don’t try to save 300k on an airline, compromising the comfort of players that you have spent millions for.

        The players looked lackluster and drained in today’s match, and I think there is a clear reason. El Pais is the latest media outlet to have an article on the “Cheapo Tour.”

        The injuries are simply from an overzealous opponent, lunging in from a fit of stupid pride. But there is a reason that more than a few players have complained about this tour. Players are used to jetting hither and yon. They aren’t accustomed to their club trying to do it on the cheap.

        For that aspect, I think that Rosell and the board can be called out. Not everything is about the bottom line, to my view.

        • Nik
          August 10, 2013

          Substandard airline, hotel, food and pitch conditions all contribute to the problem. Yes, clubs take pre-season tours to make money, but you don’t try to save 300k on an airline, compromising the comfort of players that you have spent millions for.

          Exactly. If the injuries had happened on another tour where conditions weren’t as bad, I would have cursed the Fates but not made too much of a deal of it. Injuries happen all the time. But it’s the fact that the injuries happened on top of everything else you mentioned which makes me get really irritated at Ro$ell. There’s really no way anyone can defend him on this one.

        • Rami
          August 10, 2013

          Substandard airline, Hotel and food?
          Since this squad is composed of millionaires who are accustomed to the most luxurious life, It will be right to assume that what they might consider ‘sub stander’ isn’t the same as yours or mine’s ‘substandard’, So yeah, I won’t shred a tear for them.
          I’d like to think that this lackluster performance was because of the pitch, And simply fatigue from the tour, Cause i sure hope not it’s not because they didn’t eat the same expensive lamb they’re used to.

          • selfie barça
            August 10, 2013

            Having slept in hotel rooms with blood stains on the wall at sub zero temperature, I understand what you are saying hehehe.

          • August 10, 2013

            You should see nzm’s comment about the tour and the quality of its logistics above before scoffing at the notion that this isn’t being handled properly. It’s worth a look, and isn’t very far up.

            Many players, including Iniesta (who rarely complains) and Messi have spoken out about how undesirable this trip is. They have gone on pre-season tours before, and haven’t said anything. It isn’t very difficult to read the tea leaves, and speculate that if this all weren’t being poorly handled, there wouldn’t be as much unhappiness.

          • selfie barça
            August 10, 2013

            Oooh, right yeah nzm’s comments about the airline are indeed pretty damning!

          • Rami
            August 10, 2013

            @Kxevin
            I did in fact read nzm’m comment, But i couldn’t find how a bad airliner is a cause of today’s performance, Which i still attribute it to fatigue, And a bad pitch, We can even add the hot weather and humidity.
            The bad planning and the ‘substandard’ conditions like hotel, Food, Flight, That they went through in this last part of tour for me as a fan is no excuse for any performance on the pitch (Unless the conditions are really really bad, Which i doubt is the case), Plus it’s something that the players representatives should worried and complain about to the club, Not the fans.
            These trips don’t have to desirable to the players, Who wants anyway to ride 12 hours in a plane into the other side of the world for a hot and a humid place just to play football, The purpose of these matches are commercial for the club, I don’t think any player has the right to complain about them.
            The only real complaint from me as a fan, Is why didn’t they schedule the asia tour at the start of pre-season instead of the end, Wouldn’t that have made more sense?

  103. August 10, 2013

    What struck me about the match today is how quickly people Tweeted about needing a CB when that goal was conceded. The BeIN announcer right called it as a systemic breakdown. Alves, Alba AND Pique were caught forward. Pique even stopped running, as he knew he just wasn’t going to be able to do a thing about it.

    Mascherano was approaching something approximating being in position to try to make a play, which is why he looked so disgusted in the aftermath of Alba’s lunge clearance, which turned out to be precious little more than a pass to the Malaysian player, while also catching out Valdes, who was moving out to make an attempt himself, which led to him not being at all well positioned to make any attempt at a save.

    Couple that comedy of errors with a cracking good finish, and the conclusion is that there isn’t a CB on the planet who could have stopped that goal from happening. On so many of our goals last season and in general, that is the case.

    When I crave a CB or two, it is for depth and depth of quality reasons. Players will get injured this season, and even though on paper we carry enough CBs, we don’t in reality. But anyone who thinks that a single CB is going to resolve the systemic breakdowns that are usually at the root of goals that we concede, should reconsider.

    • selfie barça
      August 10, 2013

      You are very right. Which is why I made the case for us to sell Dani Alves and get a defensive right back.

      The right CB will help us defending against set pieces, though. Last season we suffered against EE, PSG and Bayern.

    • Rami
      August 10, 2013

      With just one statistic, Anyone can deduce that this is a systemic multi-factorial problem and not simply a CB issue.
      We conceded over 70 goals last season, Even if we assumed that thiago silva the best CB in the world by far, was bought last season, How many goals could he have possibly prevented, Given that he starts every single game, 20 goals?, 25??!!
      That still leaves us with over 45 goals.

      The factors that lead to this frightening statistic are these 3:
      1-Eric abidal replacement is a midget, Who isn’t actually a left back, But a converted winger not too long ago.
      2-Massive injuries in the CB department, Specially the back bone of our defense, Carles puyol.
      3-Lack of pressing, Which had the largest contribution.

      Until those 3 are corrected, We should accept conceding no less than 40 goals a season.

      • selfie barça
        August 10, 2013

        Agreed, although I think that the Eric Abidal replacement is the largest factor.

        I have mixed feeling about the pressing, because I think that to keep up the intensity for each and every game could be damaging in the long run. I would like us to be able to turn it on for the games in which we need to, and to not wear our players down in some of the “easier” games.

        • Rami
          August 10, 2013

          I don’t think think it’s productive to switch the pressing ‘on’ and ‘off’.
          Pressing not only needs physical aspects, But mental ones, The coach needs to implement the hard work mentality and determination into the players heads in every match and training session, It’s a mental rhythm that must be maintained to give them the proper incentive to run after the ball, You can’t just tell them ‘Meh, Don’t bother pressing this time’ and the next match ‘I want you all to go berserk!!’.

          The best way to avoid burning out later in the season, Is to try to spread out the workload as evenly as possible between the squad members, That means, Rotation, Rotation, Rotation.

          • selfie barça
            August 10, 2013

            Maybe, maybe not…

            I was all happy that we were pressing again in the preseason, and after only a couple of (incomplete) games, Messi already has a muscle injury. Is it coincidence? I don’t know.

          • Rami
            August 10, 2013

            Messi endured 4 seasons of pressing with pep and hardly ever got injured, So it seems like coincidence.
            Yet there is something that reemerged again after we returned the pressing, Which doesn’t seem like a coincidence for me, I’ll talk about it in a separate post.

    • ciaran
      August 10, 2013

      Statistically Jordi Alba was our best defender last season and has been a revelation going forward to boot.
      I agree that a more defensive replacement for Dani Alves will most likely be our most effective defensive change but that’s not going to happen anytime soon and Montoya looks to be his replacement anyway so I think we should get used to the evolution into defending with just 2 defenders and 1 defensive midfielder.

      If Tata is as pragmatic as everyone says he is then a double pivot may be an evolution in important matches?

      • August 11, 2013

        Statistically best defender…pfff, I don’t even want to know what that means…

    • 86ed
      August 10, 2013

      It’s not that we’ll actually sign any defenders at all this season, so you need not worry. A serious administration would have treated the problem last year, or early this summer at the latest, but this isn’t a serious administration.
      Look at where they’ve sent the team: to face mediocre teams (with all due respect) instead of serious competition. They’ve done this, I think, both to make a quick buck and to hide the urgency for defenders with lopsided victories, and even that has failed on occasions such as today’s. We ought to have played against tougher opposition all summer, like Real has been, but no.

      • selfie barça
        August 10, 2013

        Well, we will see on Monday whether or not David Luiz hands in a transfer request…

        • 86ed
          August 10, 2013

          EDM (or was it Sport?) were saying the same thing about Thiago Silva. It won’t happen. If were going to happen it would have happened long ago. 7
          Another season without a proper defense may ruin Rosell, so that might not be so bad.

  104. stefan2k
    August 10, 2013

    Curious about what barca96 has to say … 🙂

  105. PrinceYuvi
    August 10, 2013

    Abroad fans getting to see their favourite superstars is wondrous, once in lifetime opportunity for many. Thanks to Rosell. And thank god we at least got Neymar this season. Could’ve been worse.

  106. Rami
    August 10, 2013

    There is a familiar theme i’ve been seeing in the last 3 games of the pre-season, It’s the image of half our players condensed in front and inside the 18 yards line doing some very short passe just so they can get past a whole crowd of opposition players, The same stuff we used to see with pep.
    It’s no coincidence that ever since we returned to our high pressing, This started occurring again, While it’s true that the opposition can chose to form a shell in front of their post, It’s only partially true, We also force them to condense in their area, Because we don’t allow them to get past the middle of the pitch.
    For those who haven’t already figured it out, This is not a good thing, This ‘theme’ became more and more problematic for pep as the season went by, And his last season with us is a good example, It’s one of the reasons tito decided to ditch the pressing, To lure and discourage the teams to condense in their own area.
    I don’t know what martino is planning to solve this, And my biggest fear is that he might haven’t followed FCB close enough to notice how much this was a big problem for our team.

    • Jafri
      August 10, 2013

      Correct me if any of these statements is wrong:

      For the last five years we’ve always had more possession than the opponent.

      When we have more possession, we spend relatively more time in the opponents half then they do in our half.

      When we spend more time in their half, they bunch up in their half to try to stop us.

      When they try to stop us, we, due to our aforementioned ball possession skills, keep cycling the ball as close to the opponents goal and keep looking for an opening to score.

      If we lose the ball while cycling it, we press hard to recover it in their half and keep the pressure up.

      If we were to, instead, leave off the press and let them come to our half, and therefore spread out the field, we would have your ideal scenario. Ball’s ours, and say five players from each team in each half.

      Next step: Busquets takes the ball from Pique and passes it to Xavi, who passes it to Iniesta and by that time they have their ten men hanging out in their penalty box. Iniesta passes the ball back to Xavi.

      Our buildup play is the most measured in the world. I can appreciate you wanting the opposition to have just three or four men at the back versus two or three of our speedy forwards rushing at them, but that involves glorious counterattacks and hopeful long balls over the top, neither of which we are suited to play. It’s the Mourinho Madrid model or even an (ugh) EPL relic, and for me at least, it has no place at Barcelona.

      If you have any alternate ways to stop teams condensing, I’d be happy to hear them.

      • Rami
        August 10, 2013

        But what you just described is exactly what was happening with tito last season, Although we kept using possession, But once we lost it, We didn’t apply high pressure to retrieve it, And a result other teams easily reached our own half, While in pep’s years it was a rarity, That also allowed us to exchange an attack with another attack, Something also rarely used to happen before tito.
        If you pay close attention the difference is quite clear, I recommend you re-watch some previous game of last season and compare with pep’s, For example the matches against Real-betis in camp nou.

        • Jafri
          August 11, 2013

          I’ll watch the betis match, but we can’t move the ball fast enough from the back to take advantage of their numbers in our half. In order to get the ball up front quickly we’d have to bypass the midfield completely and that’s our greatest strength. And even if we do hoof the ball upfield, our forwards don’t necessarily take advantage of the 1v1/ 1v2s. There have been so many matches (In Tito’s era as well as Pep’s), where we’ve had a chance to break from a corner in our half, Messi or someone’s had the ball at the halfway line vs two or three defenders, and instead of trying to run past them, he passes back.

          I think Tata needs to tell them that it’s okay to use route one football at times, but most teams end up parking the bus against us anyway, and we need to keep working on breaking them down. I don’t think trying to prevent them will be as effective a strategy in this case. Everyone’s afraid of us already, can’t imagine them being more adventurous now that Neymar’s here too.

  107. barca96
    August 10, 2013

    Might die from happiness so I’ll write something just in case 🙂 but gotta keep it short tonight (morning actually).

    Met eyes with Pinto in the in the afternoon.
    Messi and Valdes in the evening. Both when they were on the bus.
    Ran nearly 1km alongside the bus, on an uphill at that.

    Dead tired. Good night and apologies to the players and fans (BFB) for the poor pitch (es), bad tackles and haze. It’s already a hot humid country but now there’s a lot of haze coming from Indonesia so it must’ve been extra harder for the players.

    • August 10, 2013

      Broken link. Why were they booing Messi? Because he didn’t play? We should risk our best player who is already carrying a minor injury on a pitch like that just to please them? UGH.

    • August 12, 2013

      Thanks a million for your wonderful commentary above, friend. Really happy for you.
      Much appreciate.

  108. simple_barcafan
    August 10, 2013

    Some had mentioned that Neymar was a spoilt brat..but based on what we have seen in the pre season tours and the initial few days in Barca, he seems to be a very down to earth guy..Also barca96 and nzm mentioned how he made sure he greeted/ acknowledged the fans..Just good PR? don’t think so…

  109. Afif
    August 11, 2013

    Malaysian Barca fan here who watched the match at the stadium. Apologies for the incoming wall of text, but after last night, I do feel like talking a bit about the Asian Tour.

    I felt the same way as barca96 (hey barca96, are you a local too?) when everyone started booing at the end of the match but i guess it was also towards the organizers as the tour is quite a let down for the normal (and few) cules here.

    When the news broke down that they were coming here, I couldn’t believe that the team I have sacrificed my sleep for every weekend and sometimes midweek will be playing on our local turf. I do follow some of the BFB royalties on twitter which I’m happy to say, have kept me in company as I sit throughout the matches alone at 3.00 in the AM for most of the weekends (and sometimes mid-week). It’s not too bad watching the match alone on a bad stream when you can chuckle or cringe over some of the random and funny conversations/analysis you guys threw in during a match. Always wanted to join in, but never succeeded to.

    However as days go by, I’m starting to have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Through all these years, we have been commonly known to be the pit stop for many BPL teams as the general known fact that they are still and really huge over here. United’s class of 92, they spawned unlimited numbers of fans. Arsenal’s Invincibles, legends that I wouldn’t be surprised if someone would do a Mt. Rushmore of them here. The Team, however, are still alien to most of us. Odd hours of matches coupled with those Peek-a-busquets days, which are still being talked about, it is known that the team won’t receive the same amount of love compared to the local prime time BPL heroes.

    So I guess it would be good if the team shows up here, do a few rounds of public appearance, but sadly, they are currently being portrayed as very reserved and hard to get to. Public appearances were made strictly for medias and the sponsors (company’s staffs, people with super connections & families).

    The venue change caused a bit of a trouble for many. From a venue with easy public access, they changed it the day the match was to be played, to a new venue completely on the other side of Kuala Lumpur far from public transport access. This is solely the organizers’ fault for not getting the pitch fixed. Oh they were horrible, the only happy thing would be if Xavi found a mushroom growing.

    As much as I’m reading that the Asia Tour has been unfavorable with the international community and sadly, The Team too, it’s hitting the same spots for the local people here. The tour seems rushed and I don’t think it’s going to get some good marks for both the management of The Team and the Malaysian organizers. Even the timing is a bit off considering we’re currently celebrating eid-ul-fitr holidays and most of the people are out of town, hence the poor attendance.

    Messi wasn’t made known to be having an overburdening right until after the match, although it was said that he had it after the training session. Nobody in the stadium knew, as his name was even called out in the team list announcement. We were hyped for The Messiah. The frustration was let out at the end from some who just wanted to see him in action and didn’t get to. The changed stadium’s pitch was in a bad condition too but slightly better than the original venue, so I guess it was a precaution. An international marketing friendly is never worth an injury especially involving our best player.

    I enjoyed the first half very much. Have to admit, our National Team were over enthusiastic while parking the bus. The second half became a Spot The Leo session gone wrong. Coupled with the bland game, the frustration was guaranteed to happen from the attendees.

    Overall, I was very satisfied. The individual movements in the team on the pitch were unreal. Every Iniesta turns, Xavi in maestro mode, Alexis’ and Neymar’s burst of dribbles, Busquet’s magical awareness of the game were happening right in front of me. Those silly cabbage pixel streams will never impress as much as seeing them live.

    Hoping that Cesc’s sprained ankle won’t be too bad. Him and Neymar are looking like BFF’s on the pitch after these few friendlies. Was good to see Pedro jogging around the field before the kick-off too. Neymar do seem to be the friendliest of the bunch throughout the Tour.

    My verdict on the Asia Tour, it’s kinda pointless except making a few local fans like me happy to see The Team live. I hope they go on those mini club tournaments pre-season the next time. This is my first comment here after being a silent reader for quite some time. To all the wonderful writers in BFB, thank you for all the good stuff throughout these years. Simply entertaining!

    From a Malaysian Barca fan. Visca el Barca and we still need to get a CB ASAP.

    • selfie barça
      August 11, 2013

      The Xavi/mushroom quip cracked me up!

      Thank you so much for your comment, Afif.

      • Afif
        August 12, 2013

        Hi Levon. You’re Welcome!

        Delightful post by the way. Being in a developing country, I can definitely relate.

    • Sangoku
      August 11, 2013

      Very sorry for being completely off-topic but I just had to tell you and barca96 that I was in Malaysia last year and I just LOVED it! When I heard that Barça were to play in KL, I wanted to come back even more but couldn’t. Anyway, Selamat Datang to the BFB comments section! 😉

      • Afif
        August 12, 2013

        Terima kasih for the welcome Sangoku! I’ll try and throw in a thought or two once in a while. Everyone seems to have highly impressive knowledge around here, I can only be happy to learn new stuff with each post. Oh, I’m guessing that we’re neighbours 🙂

        • Sangoku
          August 13, 2013

          Yes, this is my favourite site because you do learn a lot, be it in the posts or the comments but what I appreciate even more is the general good-natured way of this small “community”.

          And, no, we’re not neighbours, I live on a small island in the Indian ocean! 🙂

    • teddy
      August 11, 2013

      let me get this out of my chest. as a Malaysian Barca fan, for me no matter how I love this club, this match is totally unnecessary. Our national team is a joke, couple with stupid management, this match is totally uncalled for.

      I don’t know what our national team is trying to prove, they’re bad, they’re still bad even if they score 100 goals against Barcelona, our coach is clueless and doesn’t add anything to the national team. Watching the match, I’ve been praying all along that no Barca player is injured, after some weird, wrong trying-to-prove-something attitude from our national team, plus a bad condition of pitch.

      The same joke whenever our football organisation try to get a match against top EPL clubs when they are coming for Asia tour while they should be focused more on local football development. It’s a shame.

      There, I said it.

  110. simple_barcafan
    August 12, 2013

    Xavi: “Tata Martino is a leader. He’s a skillful, prepared and experienced coach.” [sport]

    Adriano: “Neymar has adapted well, he tries to talk with everyone, and he’s very motivated. He spreads joy. Like Ronaldinho.” [as]

    via @barcastuff..

    hoping i can get some of the joy Ronnie used to give me..again…

    • simple_barcafan
      August 12, 2013

      Sorry wanted to post this quote:
      Xavi: “Neymar’s happiness blows me away. The guy plays without any pressure.” [sport]

  111. August 12, 2013

    I apologize beforehand, for the Off-Topic, and a tad lengthy comment.

    Okay, it is my first time commenting here.
    So, yes. I’ve been your (BFB’s) official stalker (?appropriate qualifier) for quite some years now.
    I can’t say — with certainty — if I’m the only, or first African (Nigerian) here, but we do have African(s) in the FC Barça Team though, aha. Not a problem, anyway. I’ve been reading the Blog Posts and Comments for like, an aeon now. Beautiful, and interessant, I must say. Having such a dais for supporters of the Barça Thrill is just a spectacle, I must spew, once more.

    I started following, recently, the BFB Musketeers on Twitter (Kevin, NZM, Kari, Blitzen, et al), and it’s been delightful sharing thoughts with them.
    I, also, was an astute follower of Barça Offside, whence this Blog (BFB) was cropped out. I followed Isaiah then (Barca Offside, that is), to the present BFB Reality, till… when he finally went gently into that goodnight, smiling — without decay, but love and the winning habit; bequeathing it to you, the present hombres.

    So, when Ade. C of Barça Offside finally drew the curtains last week, I wasn’t left with a lump in the throat, nor did I try to stifle tears — very much thanks to BFB.

    I feel delighted every time I handle my BB to log into this Blog. My oh, as beauteous and interesting as a museum about a sausage could be. And no, I’m not often this effusive.

    To cut the chase, this is a one-stop shop for everything FCB. Good thanks to Isaiah (retired), NZM, Blitzen, Kari, Kxevin, Levon et al, for your continued lovely Blog Posts. And Cule-Toon, Barca96, Ciaran, Soccermum, Rami, Utracule et al, for your deft comments.

    I might not be a good Barça historian or a dexterous commenter on Barça tacts like Cool Toon, Levon, Rami, Kari, Blitzen, NZM, Kexvin, and others. But I’ll try to cut in some comments here and again.

    Besides the walls of BFB, I’d love to have the Twitter Handles of fellow Cules here, (anybody?), so we could also have some tippy chats on Twitter, too. In the meanwhile, I’m @temple_999 (https://mobile.twitter.com/account) on Twitter, hope to get other Cules’ handles, too.

    As we, the Igbos, say in Nigeria;

    Daluu nu, stay well, brothers. And

    Visca El Barça.

    • K-cule
      August 12, 2013

      As Levon said, you’re definitely not the only African – Kenyan here. There is a Ghanaian somewhere here – forgot the username – and many more who usually lurk here (those I personally know of anyhow). Welcome to the family ‘oo’ 😀

      Do you by any chance come bearing a CB from Naija?

      • barca96
        August 12, 2013

        Ghanaian is Jnice if I’m not mistaken.

        • providence
          August 12, 2013

          I’m also a Ghanaian … on Twitter @Provyhernandez … My Twitter daddy is @Kevvwill … @euleri blocked me because of a Rosell row *cough I’ve missed his analysis cough* hope he unblocks me … Omg .. did you say you’re. @sidlowe on twitter barca96? welcome Temple, Greetings from West Africa. Akwaaba

      • Bill
        August 12, 2013

        I’m Kenyan too! Habari yako mzee? Lol

        • K-cule
          August 13, 2013

          Poa mzeiya, vipi uliko? Good to know there are some fellow Kenyan non-premier league fans (read barca haters/trolls) out there.

  112. selfie barça
    August 12, 2013

    I can say for sure you are not the first African on BfB, Temple, and I count every commenter from your beautiful continent as a blessing.

    Thank you for your very elegant words, and thank you for reading. Oh, and one more thing… Fela Kuti lives!

  113. August 12, 2013

    Oh, not the African, okay, settled. How about the first Nigerian? Ahem. 😀

    And, ahaa, Levon. You just touched the soft spot. Fela Kuti was, and is still a Legend. He lives on, very. Glad you know about him, 🙂

    And em… Levon, that name sounds American?

    Also, you’re on Twitter, no? Would love to get other Cules’ handles.

  114. August 12, 2013

    Oh, not the first African, okay, settled. How about the first Nigerian? Ahem. 😀

    And, ahaa, Levon. You just touched the soft spot. Fela Kuti was, and is still a Legend. He lives on, very. Glad you know about him, 🙂

    And em… Levon, that name sounds American?

    Also, you’re on Twitter, no? Would love to get other Cules’ handles.

    • August 12, 2013

      Welcome, Temple! I know I’ve got at least a handful of followers from Africa on twitter. Nigerians for certain.

      I actually just recently read a book about Nigeria by Ken Saro-Wiwa’s daughter Noo, “Looking for Transwonderland”. Really interesting.

  115. August 12, 2013

    Okay, Dutch. Beautiful.

    And yes, I’ve followed you on Twitter. Thanks.

  116. CuleToon
    August 12, 2013

    Gretings, Temple!

    I’ve nothing to do with those other names you mention: I’m just an ordinary BfB member, like you. And I find Twitter too distracting, so I’m out of it. I’ve got more than enough with BfB now and then!

    Daluu nu!

  117. August 12, 2013

    Greetings too, CuleToon.

    Oh well, whether you’re an ordinary BFB member, or not. Your comments are fantastic, and are as brilliant as the aforementioned names’. I understand your sentiments on Twitter, all good.

    One thing. Daluu (crop out “nu”, it means in the structure context, “my brothers”, so “Daluu”, which means “stay well”, would suffice here).

    So, Daluu. (:-D).

  118. barca96
    August 12, 2013

    He’s not the first Nigerian but he was definitely the last that came around, Kinokinoku (sp?).

    In case you want to know my twitter name is @sidlowe 🙂

  119. August 12, 2013

    Greetings and welcome, Temple.

    Other BFB mods on Twitter:

    @kevvwill
    @nzm_fcb
    @euleri
    @blitzen13
    @blackwhitengrey

    I missed a few, though. Oh, there is also @officialkari, who used to be a mod, and will always be a mod in my heart.

  120. August 12, 2013

    Oh, it only seems like we’re trying to set a record for the highest number of comments in a post, but really, there is nothing worth saying, and in keeping with the new BFB theory of no obligatory posts, I guess the next thing to note will be a season preview/predictions post or something. We’ll see.

    The season starts Sunday, after all.

    • ooga aga
      August 12, 2013

      hopefully in which you proclaim we will win no silver this year…

  121. kosby
    August 12, 2013

    Since we dont really have much to talk about, can I speak out loud something that’s been clawing at me for some time but I am too scared to acknowledge openly ?

    Looking at our games against Bayern last season, some preseason friendlies and some Spain games, I have been wondering if our midfield is getting slow/weak ?

    I know it sounds blasphemous to question Busi, Xavi and Iniesta – but it seems like they were outmuscled and essentially squeezed by the major teams. I am comparing this midfield to teams like Borussia Dortmund, who have quick transitions between plays and successfully managed to beat teams like the EE.

    Maybe our defensive lapses are just a part of our weakness ? It seemed like our midfield was being strangled which led to less chances (although I admit I dont have the statistics to prove this).

    • August 12, 2013

      Just re-watched the Bayern tie, and what I noticed is something that really started to become prevalent just before the Milan leg, which is a lack of movement up front, which means that our mids have to hold the ball longer as they wait for movement, which means a greater vulnerability to pressure.

      Compare late season to early season, with all those diagonal runs, passes over the top to runners, etc. That team was absent pretty much for all of the CL knockout stages, except for the remundata against Milan.

      Until we see what Martino does to address the length of the lines from more vertical play that gave opponents counterattacking space, reining in the marauding Alba, etc, I wouldn’t draw any conclusions from anything late last season.

      That doesn’t excuse, or gloss over the fact that Xavi isn’t the player he once was. Age does that. But if everything in front of him is right as regards movement, runs and aggression, he still has a year or two left. Neymar will be colossal in that regard, as well as Sanchez and disposal of the misguided notion of tactical width.

      Opponents took advantage of the longer lines (attackers pressed forward and wide, Messi not pressing) by attacking Xavi and Busquets directly into space, that usually was a bit larger with Alba functioning as a left winger while Villa or Pedro hugged the sideline. All this meant that opponents could get directly at our defense, which, truth to tell, has NEVER been a good defense in the traditional sense. But with the press in the treble season, the stats were gaudy because they were just dealing with passes that leaked through, and feeding them back into the mmidfield mixer.

      Last season’s more vertical style emphasized risk, which meant a greater danger for our “defense.”

      So there was a lot going on.

      • Bill
        August 12, 2013

        You make an excellent point about last season.

        I remember being able to tell what kind of game we would have within the first 10-15 mins of the game. Every time I saw Xavi take 2,3,4 touches of the ball, then pull it back towards the other direction only to pass it to Busquets who did the same thing, then passed it to Pique for a repeat, I knew it would be a long night.

        I could also tell what kind of game it would be, when every time someone attacked the other teams’ goal and there was only one or two other players supporting him.

        On the other hand, every time I saw quick ball movement and off the ball movements, coupled with 4 or 5 players in the other teams box when we attacked, like that 2nd Milan game, I knew the other team was in for a long night.

        Teams like Madrid were getting lots of chances to kick our players and Pep’s quote,”if they kick you, it means you didn’t move the ball fast enough” kept going through my mind.

        I wonder why the team lost these simple pillars of their game. I hope they regain it.

        • August 12, 2013

          Bill, I’d say it was mental and physical fatigue. It’s really hard to perform like that week in and week out, for years. I think that is what’s at the root of the players saying things like “We are slowly getting back what we have lost.” It’s that unsustainable edge.

          In early season matches it was like a race to the opponents box when one of our mids got the ball. As the season progressed, it became more like “After you, my dear Alphonse.”

          One significant factor will be Fabregas, and whether he has his usual second-half fade. He was brilliant in the first part of the season.

      • Jim
        August 12, 2013

        Some good points, Kxevin. I think we valued width for its own sake rather than what we did with it, I think it de-skilled Villa who should always have played in the centre ahead of Messi to give us a presence in the box as in the Milan, PSG matches and the mids struggled because of the lack of movement ahead of them .

        Not sure the more vertical system helped in the long run. The mids end up chasing the match and players being caught up the pitch. It’ll be interesting to see Tata’s solution to this.

  122. August 12, 2013

    Oh, and lest I forget, lots of new names and voices. To all of you, a fond welcome. There has been a lot, and nothing at all going on, but I do want to give a shout-out to Ade, formerly of Barca the Offside.

    As many of you know, Isaiah and I started there at The Offside, before deciding to take our act to a new venue. They did great work over there, brimming with wit, and that smartassed quality that makes @cynicule a fun read over on Twitter.

    The English-language Barça blog landscape took a loss when they decided to end that space. Bummer, and if anyone from there should find their way over here, welcome.

  123. psalmuel
    August 12, 2013

    many people here, talk of a double-pivot, as our planB for the difficult away games,but i’ve been wondering… Who and who will start in our double-pivot formation? And hey! am also nigerian 🙂

  124. August 12, 2013

    Kxevin. I’ve longed follow you, Kari, NZM, and Blitzen on Twitter. Okay, just followed @sidlowe, @euleri, and @blackwhitengrey, some minutes back.

    And please, do try (and others, too) and FOLLOW BACK @temple_999, so we could have a more interessant chat cut-ins.

    The Season kick-starts this weekend, and we haven’t got a centre back. RoSell is very much into Luis (aka, the marketable defender), and less into Agger and the T’Ham CB, and if the recent Dani Alves interview is anything to clutter on, then Luis’ signing is just as Thiago Silva-ish. L’Pool rejected Barca’s bid for Agger, and T’Ham has denied reports of a bid for Vertoghen.

    Sadly, I don’t see us getting a CB before the Season Start, and MAYBE throughout this Transfer Window. I just hope RoSell proves me wrong. Proves me wrong. Selah.

  125. Rami
    August 12, 2013

    These are two graphs of Defense and attack statistics of the top teams in the main 5 leagues in europe of season 2012-2013.

    Defense:
    http://experimental361.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/top-5-def.png
    We’re in the lower left quadrant, Meaning although we concede low amount of shots per game, At the same time only few are needed to eventually score against us (8 shots), And in no surprise, Bayern are in a league of their own, Truly formidable.

    Attack:
    http://experimental361.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/top-5-att.png
    This sure will put a smile on your faces, We are by far the most clinical team in europe, With only 4 shots needed to score, In a sense we’re also formidable, But on the other side of the pitch.

    Although these kind of statistics are simplistic and can’t give us a true image on what’s really going on in the pitch, I’m interested on how everyone can interpret them.

  126. providence
    August 12, 2013

    I’m also a Ghanaian … on Twitter @Provyhernandez … My Twitter
    daddy is @Kevvwill … @euleri blocked me because of a Rosell row
    *cough I’ve missed his analysis cough* hope he unblocks me … Omg ..
    did you say you’re. @sidlowe on twitter barca96? welcome Temple,
    Greetings from West Africa. Akwaaba

  127. teddy
    August 12, 2013

    I reckon we get Sakho, he wants to leave, fairly young and can be slotted at both CB and LB. If the club thinks they better off without any CB, at least add extra body to the back line. I think he would come quite cheap.

    Let’s face it, Agger is 28, and with his injury record, he only had been averaging 17 league starts over previous 6 years, certainly not going to be a regular option if he is here. And there’s no way in hell Mou will want to give us David Luiz and AVB will be mad to sell Vertonghen with that kind of CB condition at Spurs.

    The league is just around the corner and it looks like the best possible CB combination that will start on regular basis is Pique + Masch. Added Puyol, Bartra and Adriano(?)/Busi to that, it will be nice to have a real CB to add depth to the team.

  128. barcastuff ‏@barcastuff 13h
    If Barcelona sign another centre back, Marc Bartra could leave. Main option Villarreal, but he has also offers from Italy and England. [md]

    Now I know it’s just a stupid press showing it’s stupid reasoning skills. But if it’s true then it could be quite disastrous. If we sign a new center back we got Pique, the new guy, Puyol(who could come only after the winter break) and Mascherano sharing the duty.

  129. PrinceYuvi
    August 12, 2013

    He captained the side and played for 90 mins, I read somewhere

  130. August 13, 2013

    ***
    Oh, Blitzen. Just saw your comment.

    Yeah, “Looking for Transwonderland” by Noo Saro-Wiwa makes an interesting read. A travelogue that — humorously — looks at the Nigerian life in an honest way. It is indeed, an interesting book.

    Followed you on Twitter, please do follow back @temple_999.

    Danke.

  131. August 13, 2013

    Psalmuel, you are a Nigerian too? Wow. *wide smile*

    Providence. Greetings too, Charley!

    Look forward to having a fun time here.

    Danke.

  132. Rami
    August 13, 2013

    News now is that martino doesn’t prefer taking a big risk with a high profile signing that eventually may end up not worth the money, And rather willing to take his chances with puyol, Bartra and bagnack.
    Well, If a coach doesn’t think the options are worth it, We can’t really argue that, It’s his job, But the next step to take is to ask who is actually providing these crappy options in the first place?
    Zubi and his scouts are out of their depth, And don’t deserve their monthly pay checks and specialty the status of working for FCB, 2 years and still looking for a CB….Unreal!
    Even if the criteria for playing for us was a player that can walk on his hands back wards and roll his tongue, We would’ve still found a few dozen players with such qualifications.

    • August 13, 2013

      It’s unbelievable. And infuriating.
      Better not increase my blood pressure over it.

      • To make it worse:
        barcastuff ‏@barcastuff 21m
        PSG centre back Mamadou Sakho (23), who wants to leave, could fit the profile Barcelona are looking for. He would cost less than 15M [sport]

        seriously! for what the fuck did we allowed Abidal to leave. If a youngster was what we needed then it was always worth to take the risk with Abidal. By the way how much was Abidal’s salary at Barca?

        • August 13, 2013

          Abidal was almost 7m per season. You can see why the club wouldn’t be wanting to tie up that much salary in a player that might break down. It’s harsh and crappy, but you can see the business logic.

    • I have been asking for some time to get Zubi fired. But Rosell doesn’t seem to visit this blog. May be an Al-Thani sponsorship of this Blog could bring him here.

      • August 13, 2013

        The sporting director makes suggestions. The board signs off on the money for the signings. If the club hasn’t made decisions, ZubiZa doesn’t control the purse strings.

        These aren’t the times when Txiki B. would say a name and Laporta would ask, “Check or cash?” We now have a president looking to save 300k on airline travel.

        • And the fun part is – till Rosell sings the Catalan identity song, none of the members are gonna blame him. Most probably Tata Martino will be blamed once our defensive lines gonna stretch.

    • ciaran
      August 13, 2013

      The Sakho rumour makes sense. He should have been on our list from the start due to his similarities to Abidal but he is much stronger physically. Still, if I had my way we would have signed Vertonghen last summer and would have none of the worries we have now.
      Sakho needs to play to get in the French national team.
      Adil Rami is a better option in my opinion but hey.

      I genuinely feel like we won’t sign anyone now

      • Spiza7
        August 13, 2013

        We are being taken for a ride, Rosell seems happier keeping the money.

        The January plan will be another repeated mistake, we did the same thing in our past seasons and nothing happened, and I can most certainly guarantee that transfer prices will be a lot higher mid-season.

        On the other hand there is still time, so anything can happen from now till the end of August.

      • But as Kxevin described earlier we need someone who can come and start playing in first eleven. Not someone for future. We still have time to think about that.

      • ciaran
        August 13, 2013

        January signings have far more complications most importantly that they can’t play in Europe if they have played for someone else which is generally the case. Prices are inflated and teams won’t sell anyone if they are even remotely important to their plans

          • August 13, 2013

            Whoa, hang on there. I said that RoRo will want a big, splashy signing. I think that we need to sign a CB (preferably two) for depth reasons, but am fine going to war with the starting back line that we have, assuming the other tactical issues are repaired.

            It must also be noted that Sakho being unsettled changes everything. He’d fit the profile, for sure, and the price would be right, given the team’s desire to (not) spend on a CB, which makes me wonder where the hell the Luiz and Agger stuff is coming from.

  133. Huckleberry
    August 13, 2013

    Off topic: keep an eye on Cocu’s PSV Einhoven. Quite astonishing how successfully he started with not much more than a bunch of young players from the own academy.

    • Flippy
      August 13, 2013

      I’m glad someone has brought up Dutch football!!

      As an Ajacied, I’m quite worried that Cocu will break the hegemony of de Boer’s Ajax, which is another team that has been going through exciting changes, even bringing in some Barça players (Bojan and Cuenca (what is the story on Cuenca? I thought he was going to do a second season at Ajax, but it appears that he’s staying at Barça this year?))

      Cocu’s team is indeed very interesting. Not one player above the age of 22 started in their first Eridivisie game this season, which was a 5-0 of NEC. They have a 17 year old Belgian, Bakkali, who is definitely one to watch for. I will, for the sake of Dutch football, of course be rooting for PSV against Milan.

      After so many years in obscurity, it’s great to see the Eridivisie and Dutch football going in the right direction. Here’s hoping Ajax is not in the group of death again and that Dutch football may soon be easier to follow stateside (at the moment, we only get one match per week on ESPN Deportes)!

      • Spiza7
        August 13, 2013

        Cuenca is currently recovering from an injury, he apparently loved playing at Ajax last season and he wants another season there but due to him being out I don’t think Ajax called him back.

  134. CuleToon
    August 13, 2013

    Forty years ago, on August 13 1973, Barça signed Johan Cruyff as a player. Because of his signing, Barça made 15.000-20.000 new socis, including Laporta and his friends (and yours truly, too).

    Franco’s government put all kind of obstacles to his signing and he couldn’t play officially with Barça (we only could see him in a friendly) until October 28 1973, against Granada at the Camp Nou, when Barça was penultimate in La Liga after seven matches. From then on, Barça didn’t lose a single match (including the orgasmic 0-5 against RM at the Bernabéu) and, after forteen (14!) years we won the league again. I’ll never forget the atmosphere at the Camp Nou that season…

    That’s why those socis of 1973 will always hold Johan in our hearts.

    • August 13, 2013

      I think, I can feel the nostalgia, pride and what not, with which you wrote this comment. Thank you.
      I was born in 73. If you dont mind,may I ask, how old were you then?
      I feel jealous of guys like you who have been able to follow a club as great as Barca, as a local guy.
      Whenever I am able to check BFB now, I try to look for your comments, first.

      • CuleToon
        August 13, 2013

        .
        Thank you very, very much for your kind words, fotobirajesh. Although I’m in my sixtieth revolution around the Sun (you make the math 🙂 ), I’m not much given to nostalgia. It just happened that, today, I saw the news in the press. And I remembered.

        And then I’ve told you, because seeing in retrospect what has happened since that day, I think that any Barça fan should acknowledge what the arrival of Johan meant to our club.

        • August 14, 2013

          Wish you all the best in your 60’s. In India, we celebrate the 60th b’day if the family can afford it (traditionally b’days weren’t a big celebration, although the new generation do it a lot).

          Such a pity that our present board is looking away from our past. (reg, Johan Cruff)

    • August 13, 2013

      And Sandro Rosell will NOT be celebrating this anniversary with cake.

      • ooga aga
        August 13, 2013

        surprisingly they do mention it on the official site. i sort of expected them not to…

        **http://www.fcbarcelona.es/futbol/primer-equipo/detalle/noticia/40-anos-del-fichaje-de-cruyff

        • CuleToon
          August 13, 2013

          That’s the very least they could do!

  135. ciaran
    August 13, 2013

    Rosell, Tata, Zubi and Bartomeu had a meeting for 3 hours today apparently to discuss the signing (or not) of a centreback.
    According to all press this meeting could have been a group text from Tata saying that he doesn’t really care if he gets a newbie.
    I’m sure Zubi had a list of unatainable centrebacks for everyone to look at which included Beckenbauer, Moore and Maldini.
    Bartomeu told everyone that there’s loads of money, not too much, but exactly the right amount of money.
    Rosell said that he doesn’t mind who is signed so long as they are South American and not in any way affiliated with Laporta or Cruyff.

    • Spiza7
      August 13, 2013

      Lol, your probably not too far off there

  136. Dani_el
    August 13, 2013

    I wanted to share with you 2 interesting articles. One that says that Rosell was one of the members of the directive that didn’t want to pay for Messi’s stay in Barcelona, back then when he was a prospective canterano. And the other how it states (as Kxevin mentioned) that if the club doesn’t buy a central defender it will have more to do with Rosell saving policies that with Zubizarreta’s doing (as was the reponsability of this tour and its consequences: injuries in a more or less degree of Cesc, Messi, Pedro, Alba and Pinto).
    It is in spanish though, I would translate it but I do not have enough time right now.

    http://ecodiario.eleconomista.es/futbol/noticias/5065829/08/13/Rosell-quiso-desprenderse-de-Messi-en-2003-para-salvar-al-Bara-de-la-bancarrota.html

  137. August 13, 2013

    MD says that Martino has decided not to purchase a CB this window, that Agger and Luiz are too expensive and ultimately unconvincing. He will rely on the players that we have.

    Note the structure there, that Martino has decided. So in a week the club has gone from placing phantom bids for Luiz and Agger to deciding that no CB will be purchased. And whose fault is it? The new guy.

    Appalling.

  138. August 13, 2013

    Are we doing a Fantasy League Comp. this year? And if that has already been asked and answered, I apologize.

  139. August 14, 2013

    UK’s Mail Online and The Independent have both reported that David Luis has asked Chelsea for a move to Barcelona. But Chelsea wants north of £40m, which RoSell finds pretty too expensive (but didn’t, for a lesser priority, for a Europe-untested Neymar). There are also reports that Agger’s agents and Liverpool would give in to an offer north of £25m. And somewhere sits PSG’s Mamadou Sakho, who readily fits into our profile, and also makes for a cheaper alternative.

    Quote per, Javier Faus: “Money won’t be a problem in terms of making a signing.”

    If Javier Faus says Tata has got enough, enough monetary backing to make signings, I wonder what the exegesis is, for this disgusting tardiness.

    The major raison for the push for a defender (or two) is per the depth it savors.
    What happens if Pique and Masch get a lay-off, and Puyol continues his lovey-a-dovey with his shoulder, arm, and cheek-bone injuries, et c?

    We need a defender now, very.
    Tata is getting it all wrong if he thinks these present crop of defenders will make it through this first Season Half without picking up injuries (where International Friendlies and WCQs lie waiting). And thinking he will get some defensive reinforcements during the Winter Window is just preposterous, with a bearer that the Window is short, and that Clubs would be reluctant to let-go of their best defenders for the final lap of the season. There is also the UEFA Rules thingummy; where the defender had already played in a UEFA competition, which would mostly be the case.

    This is just farcical as it is pathetic.

    Oh, well. C’est la vie.

    • ooga aga
      August 14, 2013

      i love reading your posts. your english is very good, and while there are certainly errors, you use words such as “exegesis” which almost no americans know or use. awesome.

    • Sangoku
      August 14, 2013

      That’s right, as ooga aga said, I had to google “exegesis”! 😉
      Bravo, c’est du haut niveau!

  140. ciaran
    August 14, 2013

    I struggle to accept the fact that we won’t sign a centreback considering that it was the only thing we were promised at the start of the season and after the Bayern defeats everyone in the footballing world knew we needed it.
    From the start of the summer I had said that we should be buying 2 centrebacks because of the situation of Puyol, the losing of Abidal and the seeming lack of trust in Bartra’s abilities. The fact that we now don’t look like we’ll even sign one is a joke without a punchline.

    You know, I’d be happy if we still had Martin Caceres in our squad but the lack of depth and quality in our defense is a disgrace.

    By contrast, Bayern Munich’s squad has the following centrebacks:
    Dante, Van Buyten, Boateng, Badstuber, Kirchhoff & Javi Martinez

  141. Barka
    August 14, 2013

    We should have paid for an expensive but quality CB last season. Now all the good guys are gone, we might have to spend 40 milion POUNDS to get David Luiz. What a bad joke. That’s just wasting money and if that’s the only option we have (we don’t seem to have a working scouting department), I’d rather we don’t buy anyone at all.

    Rosell and ZUbi should have signed Marquinhos early this summer but no, it had to be Thiago Silva or no one. Oh well. They got their wish.

    • I have been saying from the begining, Chelse doesn’t have to and cannot sell David Luiz. Look at their other CB options, they can’t let him leave. I read it somewhere that Luiz is paid less than Cahill and all these rumours were done to get a better pay.

  142. Spiza7
    August 14, 2013

    Looks like we’ll just have to pray Bartra can deliver and that Puyol can stay out of the recovery room. On top of that we’ll have to make sure our players play like angels otherwise our new more aggressive style of pressing will certainly attract more yellows and inevitably more suspensions.

    • ciaran
      August 14, 2013

      His buyout clause is €30million by all accounts but remember that there is VAT on top of it so it’s significantly higher.
      As with Madrid’s purchase of Illarramendi or Bayern’s purchase of Thiago, you can pay more than the buyout clause in order for the seller to get more money and the buyer having to pay less.

      I don’t see us paying that kind of fee at this stage

  143. August 14, 2013

    In terms of price,
    Sakho + Vertonghen = Luiz
    Mathieu + Rami = Vertonghen
    Like I’ve said before, it’s not like there’s a huge lack of options.
    There is just a huge lack of doing what’s necessary.

  144. 86ed
    August 14, 2013

    So we have enough money to sign Neymar but not enough to spend on the defense? This is beyond pathetic now. It’s downright criminal to leave essentially the same team that was hammered 7-0 dependent on a 35 year old with cronic injuries.
    Villanova didn’t like Hummels (though in retrospect Rosell probably didn’t want to dish out the money). Too much time was wasted chasing T. Silva when everyone from his camp was saying the previous year would have been possible. Marquinhos? Nope. They can’t even sign Agger, not exactly a mover and shaker in the footballing world. David Luiz is simply being dangled to give fans hope.
    I think the administration doesn’t really want to spend money on defenders. They won’t make money selling jerseys that way, and the club might be a contender again in the CL, meaning they’d have to pay players bonuses. This cynical shorttermism will ruin his presidency.

    • Jim
      August 14, 2013

      So we’re now suggesting that the club doesn’t want to succeed in the CL because it will cost them money ?

      I somehow doubt that…

      • 86ed
        August 14, 2013

        Then what? The defense has been in a terrible shape since the loss to Chelsea and nothing has been done. They spent $20m on Song, fot pete’s sake, rather than a proper defender.

        • Jim
          August 14, 2013

          The loss to Chelsea wasn’t, in my opinion, any more than a failure to tighten up once we got our goal. I’d put it more down to Pep than the defence but maybe that’s just me.

          I think we have been very slow off the mark this summer as I do feel we need a defender – but not at any price and I’d rather one we can rely on for five/six years. They also have to have a rare skill set to play for us. However, the slowness may have been down to Tito insisting on TS for too long – I don’t know.

          I do know that now there is nothing I fancy on the table at a price I could stomach. I’m curious as to why Tata isn’t interested in Vergini. He must know him well so we need to go with that but from the little I’ve seen he is at least worth a gamble at the price which is virtually nothing.

          Lets look on the bright side. Maybe the docs are optimistic that Puyol has another decent season in him !

          • Jim
            August 14, 2013

            Sorry, forgot a out your Song comment. For me, if he was bought as a CB the scout should be shot. If as a DM stand in I can see some logic but not at the price.

          • August 14, 2013

            And to be clearer, we lost the Chelsea tie because Messi tried to nutmeg an experienced defender and lost the ball, then our Gala XI couldn’t finish any of the 4-5 gilt-edged chances they had. That tie should have been over at the Bridge.

            Then at home, Messi missed a crucial penalty. The Torres goal came because the team was pressing all out for that decisive goal. That’s going to happen.

            On a macro level, now that I am 2/3rds of the way through last season’s re-watching, we rarely conceded goals that any CB in the world could have stopped. They were usually systemic breakdowns rooted in the riskier tactics that the club employed.

            The Malaysia goal was very typical, btw. Bust-out counter, defenders scrambling, and boom. Lots and lots of those goals last season.

            As for Song, the jury can’t be in on him after a single season with the club. Not with our system. Look at Henry after his first season, compared to his second, by way of example. To my view, the club doesn’t “need a proper defender.” It has them, and they couldn’t stop leaking goals because the system was flawed, rather than the parts of the system.

            The club needs depth at CB, which it presently doesn’t have. And I would rather sign no CB than the wrong CB.

          • Jim
            August 14, 2013

            Nothing to do with Messi losing the ball and everything to do with Masch dashing out of the middle of a three man defence to chase Lampard who had his back to goal half way to the middle of the pitch, missed the tackle badly and the rest is history.

          • August 14, 2013

            See, I’m a “garbage in, garbage out” kinda guy. Wait, are we talking about the same goal, the first one at Stamford Bridge?

    • Rami
      August 14, 2013

      Thiago silva wouldn’t have came to barca anyway last season, Milan wanted to get rid of ibra and his hefty salary, And PSG offered to buy him along TS (their main target), So it wouldn’t have mattered even if we offered 45 or even 50m euros for silva, Milan would’ve still declined our offer and accepted PSG.
      The problem relies in inadequate options provided by our sporting director, Who are either old and unconvincing (aggar), Or ridiculously expensive and simply not worth it (Luiz).

          • Rami
            August 14, 2013

            No wonder he’s nicknamed the ‘wonder boy’.

          • August 14, 2013

            And the first time he fluffs a chance for us, people will be saying that we should have sold him last season.

            He really is a different player this season. Let’s hope the trend keeps up. Whatever sparked his confidence burst (I suspect it was the Messi injury) is a good thing.

          • 86ed
            August 14, 2013

            The problem as I see it, Kevin, is that Sanchez has had two years of fluffed chances. So he’s not a striker. Awesome. Great. Terrific. Does he provide assits at least? Sure, but still only two more assists than Pedro in the league last year.
            Sanchez does not convice me, and it will take a hell of a good season to wash away the disappointments of the previous years.

          • August 14, 2013

            The problem as I see it is one of inflated expectations for a player who isn’t what people want him to be. If you give Sanchez and Eto’o the exact same pass at the exact same spot, two very different things will happen:

            — Eto’o will smoke it past the keeper, not even looking at a teammate. What’s the point of that, right?

            — Sanchez will take the pass, look for Messi, then look for another teammate making the run, THEN think “Hmmm, maybe I should shoot.” By then a defender is there, or he’s tentative and leaning back when he takes the shot, then who the hell knows where the ball is going to go.

            As for “two years of fluffed chances,” he has only been with the club for two seasons. His first year he had 15 goals and 5 assists. Last year he had 11 goals/11 assists.

            So in the Pedro comparison, he had more goals and only one fewer assist his first season with the club, more goals AND more assists, his second season with the club.

            It’s why I say people aren’t treating Sanchez fairly. “Two years of fluffed chances,” my eye. Put another way, I beg to disagree with a contention that isn’t supported by reality.

            Iniesta misses chances, and people say “Oh! But Iniesta isn’t a goal scorer,” and he is forgiven. Nobody ever says “Iniesta can’t finish.” Why? Because Iniesta creates chances for other players, and has the same problems when confronted with a goal scoring chance that Sanchez does. It isn’t a natural act as it is for players such as Messi, Pedro or Eto’o.

          • 86ed
            August 14, 2013

            Iniesta has scored two of the most important goals ever in the history of FCB and Spain. That means he receives a lot of credit when he does miss other chances. Sanchez has no credit because when we need him the most he’s likely to have a stinker. When the the league has been won, oh yes, Sanchez is the great player we all want him to be. It’s before that he disappears.

          • Jim
            August 14, 2013

            It’s genuinely good to see him looking a bit more confident and nothing does that more than scoring goals. I’ve not seen much of the preseason games so comment would be misguided but I would say that like the rest of the team he will be judged once the serious stuff starts not against the sort of opposition we have been facing.

          • Rami
            August 14, 2013

            @86ed
            2 years of fluffed chances?, Now you’re just exaggerating.
            He was great in his first season with us even though he spent a large portion of it injured, And still managed to bang 15 goals, The HIGHEST figure in his entire career, He sank in the 1st part of last season but picked it in the 2nd half and he seems to have maintained it.
            So ultimately he sucked for half a season with us.

          • August 14, 2013

            With that last response in mind, I have to bow out. Sanchez is, like Henry and Ibrahimovic, going to be tarred by some no matter what he does, it seems. And that’s unfortunate.

        • Spiza7
          August 14, 2013

          Sanchez did score that memorable equalising goal against madrid in his first season. Sanchez showed a lot of potential while at Udinese, he showed glimpses that he could dribble, shoot and make assists (not just 1 of the 3). I think what let him down was that there was a slow improvement over time while at Barca. But ever since Messi’s injury hes been on the up and it hasn’t stopped.

  145. August 14, 2013

    Now, actually, I wouldn’t cackle over any assist or goal scored by any Barca forward, since we’ve not signed a defender.
    Something isn’t just right.

    Hippie-ish? *sigh*

  146. Jim
    August 14, 2013

    Just watching Scotland losing to England. Rooney awful but playing whole game so trouble for Moyes in explaining this away. Also, anyone doubting the wisdom of the British obsession with marking posts wants to have a look at England’s third goal.

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