Season Preview

 

KXEVIN

This season:

It feels really odd not worrying about the life and death of a vital part of the Barça machine. Abidal has been sent away, Vilanova is continuing his fight in private. As I say, weird. It has been a summer of turmoil, mostly from expectant cules wondering if the club is going to sign a CB. There is a new coach, Gerardo “Tata” Martino, who promises to be more like Guardiola, if his disciple of Bielsabub approach is to be trusted. But he will have challenges, including reining in Messi to a reasonable amount of playing time, making he, Neymar and Sanchez work together effectively and fixing the tactical flaws that made our defense so vulnerable last season. It’s weird as well that the only new faces are Neymar and Jonathan Dos Santos, who deserves a hats off for his perseverance and self-belief.

Players to look out for:

Sergi Roberto: Thiago is gone, and the club has promoted him to the first team. He is a different kind of player than Thiago, so any considerations of him as a direct replacement are misguided. But he is a potential guided missile with his direct runs, ball pressure and excellent movement off the ball. Huge potential to make Xavi’s life a lot easier. Jonathan Dos Santos: Solid, dependable fresh set of legs. If he lives up to his potential, our midfield has playmaking depth which will come in handy late in the season. Alexis Sanchez: We are beginning to see glimpses of the player that we actually signed, finally meeting his immense potential. Neymar: His potential if off the charts. If he realizes anything approaching all of it, our attack is going to be dazzling.Lionel Messi: In preseason, he has been playing a deeper, almost 10-like role. Is this in preparation for Neymar and Sergi Roberto scampering about? Good question. Managing his playing time will also be crucial Andres Iniesta: He has been showing signs of fully coming into his own, taking shots, making runs and doing something other than being a beautiful series of “almost” moments.Adriano: If he doesn’t break and his pre-season form continues, look out.

Crystal Ball:

This is a team with something to prove, and a chip on its shoulder. Everyone discounted the club, are saying it’s all over, etc, etc, kicking sand in the players’ faces. I challenge anyone to watch the first half of the season, and tell me that team would have lost 7-0 to Bayern. You roll into a Champions League semi-final with your best defender on form damaged and without your best player and you’re probably going to get your ass whipped. If the Martino changes can come together in time, and the likes of Sanchez and Neymar find their form, I like our chances to pull off the double. The season starts with Levante, then Malaga, Valencia and Sevilla. If the club gets through that gauntlet without dropping points, I will have very high hopes for retention of the Liga crown. RM has purchased well, but that squad is still fundamentally unsettled. They will be stiff competition, but I think we will prevail. Martino will rotate wisely, ultimate choosing SuperCopa isn’t worth going all out for, and I’m okay with that.

Most likely January transfer:

Alex Song. His pre-season has been spotty at best, and suddenly there is stiff competition for that same approximate area that he plays, from Dos Santos and Sergi Roberto. I think he will have to show up, kicking ass and taking names. His competition will.

 

LEVON

This season:

Yup, it has certainly been a crazy couple of months. The argument can be made that the whole year has been that way, taking into consideration that we won the league with a record amount of points and lost a CL semi-final by an almost record goal difference. This summer, after buying the most exciting talent on the planet we are still anxiously waiting for that glittering purchase to fix that glaring need. Life sure is tough being a culé.

On the real side we lost Abidal to a broken promise and Tito Vilanova to a nightmare, and now, with half of the culés seemingly wanting Johan Cruijff to never again enter the Camp Nou and the other half wishing that Sandro Rosell would set foot on Brazilian soil once more, our new coach Gerardo Martino has got his work cut out for him.

Reinvigorating the high press is a start, but it will not solve having replaced one of the world’s finest defenders with a fullback who disrupts our defensive balance (Abidal-Alba), nor will it make Puyol any younger. Even if we get the urgently needed CB we all desire, don’t expect him alone to solve our problems in the back.

I will echo Kxevin’s sentiments about the importance of keeping Messi fresh for when things get serious, but I think that Tata is just the man to convince his fellow Rosarian to sit out the occasional game. After all, this is a World Cup year…

Players to look out for:

You mean besides la Pulga, Ghostface and O Ney?

Well, here is who I am thinking about… after two years one of the world’s most talented midfielders has still not won over the unanimous support of our club’s followers. With Xavi in slow but steady decline it is high time for Cesc Fàbregas to live up to his potential. He doesn’t even have a decent nickname. Look for him to change that and truly come into his own.

Also I suspect his arrival in crime, fellow third year Mr. Sánchez, to have found the exclamation mark our new number 7 lost two years ago somewhere in the chambers of the Camp Nou. Wear it in health, Alexis! If not, Pedro or Tello won’t mind snatching it from your finger.

Finally it would give me immense pleasure if Jean Marie Dongou scored in the Camp Nou this season.

Crystal Ball:

Last year I predicted us to win the Liga and that other team to win the Champions League. Thank God I was only half right. I wouldn’t mind being fully wrong this time round.

Defensive frailty notwithstanding, we have the firepower to prevail against most domestic competition, and coming off of a hundred-point season we should be considered the favorites to win the Liga. I also think Tata will rotate enough for us to be more dangerous later on in the Champion’s League. Ultimately though I fear we will fall short on both. Our rivals are going to put up a monster campaign at home and, barring the arrival of a CB good enough to contend for a starting place, our squad is still looking a bit unbalanced so that I expect one of Europe’s finest to exploit that particular Achilles heel.

Negative any? Not at all. To be honest with you I am all smiles, because I am really looking forward to supporting our club this season – I am sure we will be treated to spectacular football and I feel we will be in all competitions to the very end. I can’t wait until tomorrow.

Visca Barça!

 

ISAIAH

There’s a league going on? What? Since when? Were there any signings?…good god, €57m for a bad mohawk? Did we promote Deulofeu? Everton?!? And they can’t spell his name? Well, at least we have Muniesa to step into the first team–Stoke!?!? What in God’s name is going on? Speaking of, how’s Messi–tax fraud? Crikey. I think I’ll go back into the hole from whence I came. Wake me up when Champions League knockout stages start.

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Written by:

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

226 Comments

  1. lala10
    August 19, 2013

    Can anyone enlighten me please? What is stupid width? Have been seeing the phrase pop up a bit?

    • ciaran
      August 19, 2013

      Width for the sake of having width.
      Originally Pep wanted the wide players to stay extremely wide so that the fullbacks of the opposition would have to stay further away from the centrebacks meaning that there would be more space between defenders.
      This fails when the wide players are not on form and dangerous, especially in our system where we don’t have an aerial threat from crosses.
      Last season Pedro, Villa and Alexis for the most part where not a goal threat one-on-one situations meaning that the opposition defenders ignored them.

      This season this does not look like it will be the case. Alexis and Neymar can easily beat defenders in one-on-one situations and Tello’s pace alone means that he has to be double marked. Pedro is also showing signs that his confidence is back so you can’t let him drift in from wide positions without marking him.

      Hope that helped.

  2. August 19, 2013

    Also what is the scouting report on Dani Carvajal.
    Don’t know anything about this guy. Is he good? how does he compare with Dani or Arbeloa? Got to say, Us losing Thiago and them gaining Isco gives me a little bit of envy. But only a little bit. If Oliver Torres rumour is indeed true, it makes the Villa deal look a lot less shitty.

    • August 19, 2013

      I watched Carvajal in RM’s game yesterday, and he wasn’t particularly impressive. Then again, RM was pretty poor overall with the exception of Isco.

  3. psalmuel
    August 19, 2013

    pathetico madrid’s coach, simeon (hope i got it right) was whining about tv money and calling the liga a ‘BORING LEAGUE OF TWO’ after our 7-0 routing and EE’s narrow win. He might as well pack his luggage and head back to argentina or wherever is competitive. The league is not competitive yes! But for the past 5 or 6 seasons, who has ‘mostly’ been winning the so called competitive barclays premier league? Man utd or Chelsea. Champs lig may as wel be uncompetitive since we are always ‘guaranteed’ a semi-final place season in season out

  4. psalmuel
    August 19, 2013

    Tata is an evangelist of rotation! No need whining about young prospects not been given minutes on Tata’s debut

  5. simple_barcafan
    August 19, 2013

    People are happy here that the tactical width wasn’t present and the forwards were more compact and hence it was better..

    But the width was introduced by Pep for a reason..Oppositon used to crowd the center and leave the flanks exposed as they knew Barca wont utilize the flanks. This made it difficult for Barca to needle in passes in the final third and Messi was surrounded by a wall of defenders. To relieve Messi, Pep came up with the “tactical width” which many are referring to..Lack of width might have succeeded with a team like Levante. But with opposition who are compact and have better defenders, tactical width IS a necessity…

    • August 19, 2013

      Tactical width effectively removed two players from play, and because the defense didn’t respect their presence, they might as well have taken up knitting. Rare was the situation in which tactical width worked as it was supposed to.

      Neymar, the signing that many scoff at, is actually a player who CAN make tactical width work, should Martino decide to dredge up that ghost of failed tactics past.

      There are a few ways to relieve the burden on Messi. You can try tactical width, or move him back on the pitch, utilizing movement of other players. It also gives Messi a running start at the defense.

      Tactical width works if you have a player who can beat a defender off the dribble and make things happen when he enters the box. Villa wasn’t that player, nor is Pedro. Sanchez is, but without movement, which couldn’t happen because 3 defenders were marking Messi, it just became a pointless exercise.

      It also explains why Martino is going to like using Sergi Roberto. If you look at the Bayern friendly of this year, it was no coincidence that the two best scoring chances came from Sergi Roberto, with his late-arriving runs into the box, when defenders are chasing everyone else. Expect Xavi and Iniesta to also make those types of runs, as well as (of course) Fabregas.

      • ciaran
        August 19, 2013

        That’s roughly what I was trying to say above. With the squad that we have we can use width much more accurately than we did with Pep.
        Neymar and Alexis are both effective players in one on one situations especially if they are both on form. To be honest even the name and reputation of Neymar is enough to ensure that he is going to be man marked even against the best defences. It’ll most likely mean that Pedro or Alexis on the opposite wing will have more chances than Neymar in big matches.
        The added help could come from the overlaps of Alves and Alba, even though they are potentially problematic defensively.
        If you leave your fullbacks in one on ones with the forwards then they will be out numbered by our fullbacks.

        The most important thing for us now is that we have midfield runners in the form of Cesc and Sergi Roberto that should be allowed more space in the centre when Messi drops deep.

        Offensively we should be very effective in all the big matches this season, my only issue is the defensive one. I would like more numbers and unless they are playing mind games its not going to happen

      • simple_barcafan
        August 19, 2013

        I agree with you Kxevin..The players we had weren’t ideally suited for providing width. It didn’t utilize them and they were were ineffective in the sense that their individual talents weren’t utilized, BUT it was useful in relieving Messi. (I don’t agree with your opinion that the opposition didn’t respect their presence, as the players providing width were Villa, Pedro or Sanchez – all international players)..Also, pushing Messi away from the goal and into the midfield pushed you main (and arguably only for most of last season) attacking threat further away from goal, which Tito was reluctant to do..That is why Tello was such a revelation, as he was a conventional winger who gave us the desired width (I still think he is a one trick pony who has the ability to run past defenders and shoot, nothing else)…Also people more knowledgeable than me(ZM, Euler..) had mentioned more than once that a 4-3-3 without tactical width will face problems against a 4-2-3-1 formation (RM, Bayern, Chelsea..)

        But the cons outweighed the pros as due to the players we had (other than Tello)..And as you said Neymar seems the ideal player who happens to the answer to our dilemma..Lets see..

        @ciaran: your thoughts about the defensive vulnerability caused due to overlapping fullbacks who try to provide tactical width is spot on. Hope Tata finds a way where only one fullback stays behind if the other has to roam forward (having a lopsided formation?)..

        (Stupid thought: just like how Busquets slots into the CB position when Pique goes forward, have players slot into the fullback position when overlap, kinda like Alba interchanging positions with Cesc)..I remember the Dutch used to interchange positions like crazy when they introduced TotalFootball..)

  6. August 19, 2013

    OT Alert – Improbable but fun Things I’d love to see happen this year.

    – Mascha scores a goal for Barca finally. Messi wins a penalty and hands it over to his ex – captain to smash home.

    – Valdes dribbles out of his box with a one two and into the midfield.

    – Messi scores a bicycle volley. (try it please)

    – Pique plays as a CF for one entire game. (if only we had spare CBs)

    – Dongou scores against Madrid.

    – Barca signs a central defender.

    – Adriano stays healthy all year.

    – Tata’s Barca lays a Manita on Pep’s Bayern in the CL final.

    Good day!

    • August 19, 2013

      Messi did try a bicycle kick in one of our preseason games, didn’t he? Can’t remember which one, but it was…unspectacular.

    • KEVINO17
      August 19, 2013

      Yep, great article.
      One of the things I found interesting was how often Alexis switched places with Messi, to give Messi some time on the right wing. Tata said he’s going to get Alexis playing like he does for Chile. This seems to be part of that.
      My god, when you sit down and think about it, this is a freaking truly absolutely amazing side. Every player in the front six Tata puts on the field is an outstanding creative playmaker. Wow.
      I can well understand why they didn’t waste a lot of money on a CB. If Tata’s strategy works, they’ve got all they need.
      In other words, if you walk a wire without a net, you will concentrate a hell of a lot more than if you don’t.

    • August 19, 2013

      Not the case at all, Ahsan. We understand that family members have blogs and other spaces. It’s just nice when folks are up front about it, as you are above.

      This, as opposed to “Must-read post about Barça,” and it’s a blog by the author of the comment. Not cool.

  7. nia
    August 19, 2013

    Marca website today, all Barca news and NeyJr debut. I thought I was on mundo for a sec, you have to go half way through the site to see any Real news. The first story is of Iker v Lopez and why Iker is still #2, lol. And I thought Barca had problems.

    Anyone else saw the game through sky sports yesterday? Am I right when I say I heard Ballague say the players were not happy with Tata’s appointment as they had compared him to Pep and Mou morphed into one. Don’t know what to think as the players are saying they like him. Ballague tends to stretch the truth sometimes. If anything, I think his appointment is what Barca needed as I feel Tito was just caught up in the Pep hyperbole and was just too friendly with the players. Tough love is what the players need me thinks.

    • August 19, 2013

      Ballague said what?!?! Where the heck is he getting that from?

      • KEVINO17
        August 19, 2013

        I didn’t catch all of it. But I heard him say the senior players put the kibosh on Enrique. Didn’t hear him talk about unhappiness with Tata – but didn’t hear it all.

      • nia
        August 19, 2013

        OK, my bad. When the vid started, I heard Tata and the players were opposed to his appointment. After finding a different vid and heard the whole story, It was Luis Enrique they were opposed to o-O. These are the kind of things that get you banned from twitter by Ballague, kkk.

      • August 20, 2013

        I have a hard time believing they would be opposed to Lucho either. Many of the players know him personally and have worked with him before, either as a fellow player or as a coach. He is well-liked and has a *lot* of credit with those whose opinions matter most. Ballague is, once again, full of it.

  8. KEVINO17
    August 19, 2013

    I know it’s early in the season, but, when Neymar and Iniesta are in the squad, and assuming Neymar lives up to half his potential, has a greater front six ever played the game?

  9. ooga aga
    August 19, 2013

    lets see Fabregas’ contribution yesterday

    Goal #

    1 assist to alexis
    2 great chest down to messi sets up the messi-pedro combo
    3 his would-be assist blocked by keeper, falls to alves
    4
    5
    6 assist to xavi
    7 assist to pedro

    for some reason i see him only credited with 2 assists. dunno why.

    great game from our #4

    • August 20, 2013

      Because he didn’t assist Pedro’s second goal. The keeper knocked the ball loose when Cesc thought he had already dribbled past him.

  10. simple_barcafan
    August 19, 2013

    via @barcastuff
    With many season ticket holders releasing their seat, Barcelona could sell around 30.000 tickets for the Getafe game, a club record. [md]

    Can someone explain what they mean releasing their seats. Does it mean they are selling the tickets which they have paid for?

    • simple_barcafan
      August 19, 2013

      P.S: Sorry for the bold letters…my html skills are really bad..

      • Spiza7
        August 20, 2013

        I don’t know the full details, but I think members are able to purchase a seat that is available to them for the whole season. I remember hearing there was an issue with season ticket holders who don’t release their seat to the public, and their seats stay empty if they don’t go to a game. Obviously the more season ticket holders who release their seats to the public allow for higher attendance which is good, a bigger crowd means a better atmosphere.

      • August 20, 2013

        The club runs a program called “Seient Lliure” which means “Free Seat” in Catala.

        This is to encourage Season Ticket Holders to register their seats as “unused” back to the club when they are not attending any games.

        The club will try to re-sell the seat, & the season ticket holder gets a small part of the price as a “reward” for releasing the seat.

        It’s done to encourage the season ticket holders to release the seats & so that the stadium is full of people for some games, and not full of empty season ticket seats.

      • simple_barcafan
        August 20, 2013

        Thanks Spiza7 and nzm..

  11. lala10
    August 20, 2013

    Sorry for the late post as a contribution to the tactical width discussion. The way i see it, for a team like ours tactical width is of the essence. From a theoretical and practical point of view. Lets take teams that defend against us with nine men behind the ball. In such situations there is need to have players who stretch the bus so Messi ans Co have less restricted passage to the goal area. If we dont have tactical width our chances drastically decrease. That is why we tend to struggle when we have Iniesta on the wing. Because he is a midfielder he tends to dribble going into the middle hence adding more bodies to an already congested area. If the middle is packed with bodies it then means our play has to be more intricate and eye of the needle stuff.

    Secondly imagine this; why do we insist that Barcelona compress the pitch? So that marking becomes easier isnt it? In a weird way when a team parks the bus it adopts the Barca compression but in an inverse way so width becomes of paramount importance.

    So a side like Barcelona need width for it to thrive and i sense thats why Rami is a bit apprehensive about getting back to the Guardiola days but with width we will be fine.

    Lastly when does width become stupid? It never does the principle never loses its allure only the application. Why does it seem to be working now when it supposedly failed during the stupid width days yet we have the same players doing their bits.

    • ciaran
      August 20, 2013

      It depends, if you take two players out of the equation just for the sake of trying to force your opposition to change their shape then it’s pointless if they don’t.
      What made us struggle against the likes of Jose Mourinho’s teams is that their fullbacks didn’t stay wide with our forwards instead acting like 4 centre backs and we struggled badly. Our forwards had loads of space out wide but their skill sets didn’t allow them to be effective in that space meaning that instead of being 3 v 4 in attack we were really 1 v 4 and unsuccessful to a great degree. I don’t necessarily think that Mourinho is a genius for figuring it out but it was a gamble that he made work.

      The reason for tactical width is to stretch the lines and make space and unless your wide players are a threat in one on ones or your central striker is an aerial threat then your opposition can just leave your forwards with all the space they want when they are not in possession.

      • lala10
        August 20, 2013

        You mistake the principle and its execution. The failures were the players who failed to execute because when people say that we are doing away with stupid width the inference is that the same players are doing different things when they are not. What has changed as regards width? Nothing but the confidence and perfomance levels of Pedro and Lexus. Morever tactical width can sometimes be provided by fullbacks re Alves especially in the 3-1 win at the Bernabeu. In the comeback against Milan one of the keys was pushing Dani up the flank and have Xavi occassionally find him with long diagonal balls.

        If the opposition doesn’t change it’s shape the blame falls on the players because essentially the rival is saying your players are toothless. As regards taking out two players out of the game because of seeking tactical width i think that’s not very true because what makes us think that an out of form player when put in another position on the pitch will play better? If he is out of form he is out of form period. Do we genuinely believe that had it been possible to permanently put Messi on the wing we would be saying tactical width takes two players out of the game? I don’t know but any width is vital especially for Barca.

      • ciaran
        August 20, 2013

        I’m not mistaking anything. Tactical width without the right players is absolutely pointless. Saying that Stoke should play 4-3-3 because it is a better formation or saying that Bolton should use a false 9 because tactically its superior is useless.
        Pep employing tactical width when the players didn’t evolve to suit the system was probably why he failed in the end and most likely why he left.

        Why our width should be much more useful this season is down to a few things, Alexis being more effective, Pedro actually finishing chances when he comes in off the lines, Tello beating players one on one and Neymar being well Neymar…

        We can’t rely on our fullbacks to give us width, well we can’t for 90mins. It would leave us far too exposed at the back, especially considering that Cesc will most likely be making forward runs and we’ll be defending with just three players.

        Playing Messi as a wide forward to give width doesn’t disprove my point, in fact it proves it even more, given his skill set of being able to beat players by dribbling.

        Beckham was one of the best crossers of the ball in history but having him out wide with no one in the box to aim for would be misuse of tactical width.

        I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with tactical width but using the right players is the key to success within any system.

      • lala10
        August 20, 2013

        So in your opinion what are the right positions for Alexis and Pedro? I am surprised you equate our situation to that of Stoke trying to play with a false nine. In a 4 3 3 what are the functions of the wide men? For how many years has Barca now played with a variant of the 4 3 3 formation?

        Playing with width is not an alien concept. Nay it has been around for some time. When you agree that Messi would provide width to me all it points to is that Pedro and Lexus at the periods you refer to were not effective. Tell how was Pedro playing in the 2009-2011 period? What were his functions in the team.

        At Barcelona width is needed for the reasons i mentioned above. Not for crosses in recent years because we haven’t played with a proper old fashioned striker but to free up the space in the middle. As regards right players i guess we should have chucked Lexus and Pedro out of the team and find new ones.

      • ciaran
        August 20, 2013

        Pedro for the last two seasons as been far more effective when he is not in possession than when he has been. I believe that if Neymar and Alexis are on form then Pedro is the one who loses out.
        Alexis was one of our best players at the tail end of last season and looks like one of the most dangerous wingers in the world at this moment.
        You’ve made it sound like an argument but pointing out that our width didn’t work in the major matches for the last two seasons is just my opinion.

        In honesty, Pedro being out of form for two years is a long long time. If he doesn’t improve this season then I’d be happy to replace him next summer if the opportunity arose but whether Deulofeu or Rafinha are good enough at that stage is a completely different question.

        Tello could yet develop into a fantastic player for us or a regular for the mid table teams but at Pedro’s age he would want to rediscover his attacking game rather than just being the best defensive winger in the world. Early signs are good

      • Jim
        August 20, 2013

        I agree with a lot of what you’ve said about tactical width, Ciaran, but can’t go along with your assessment of Alexis. for me, I’ve still not seen him genuinely create anything or score goals that he makes himself. He is constantly off balance, not a sign of great talent. He certainly has a lot more confidence about him and im happy if he proves me wrong but he’s not, imo, as good a finisher as Pedro and I suspect longer term he will be the one to miss out – in fact they may both miss out if Cesc is kept in midfield as there is no way Iniesta will be benched.

  12. August 20, 2013

    Picked this up off @IBES16 TL this morning: http://estaticos.sport.es/resources/jpg/1/5/1376946161551.jpg

    It well emphasises the offensive tweak that Martino has made.

    Instead of the backs staying between the sidelines & wingers, they are pinching in & causing overlaps between the wide wingers & the 2 midfielders going forward.

    This drops Messi back to play deeper which gives him more space because now the defenders are preoccupied with all the other forward Barca players.

    This well-reflects some of the above comments.

    Me likey!

    • Jafri
      August 20, 2013

      Dani’s awful crosses aside, wouldn’t it be more effective to have the fullbacks overlap on the outside? If everything stayed the same in the Tata way, the midfielders could continue to make runs and Messi could still drop deep, while the wingers could pinch in towards goal where they’d have a more dangerous shot than the fullbacks.

      • August 20, 2013

        Even better if they switch up between going outside and inside (and staying back)

  13. lala10
    August 20, 2013

    Sorry, ciaran, that it seemed like an argument. Not my intention to argue with you only to impart and also absorb knowlegde of the game. I am a keen keen student of the game and Barcelona and what attracted me to this site was the knowledge and maturity of fellow posters. Peace

    • ciaran
      August 20, 2013

      No problem

    • August 20, 2013

      That was an excellent read. I never noticed Van Der Sar pointing to where he “knew” Anelka was gonna shoot. One of the best goalkeepers of his generation, criminally underrated.

  14. TITO
    August 20, 2013

    As for EPL vs. La Liga,a stat i ran into: this season, during the first round, their league has the least English players since the EPL was established in 1992, only 33,6%, as opposed to 73.1% in 1992.
    For comparison, La liga has 62.3% domestic players, France 55,9%, Italy 50%, while Bundesliga has 43.9% Germans.

  15. Humphrey Bogart
    August 20, 2013

    After an eventful Weekend in Barcelona, i touched down back home. Now i would just like to share some experiences about a foreign fan trying to see Barca.

    1. the ongoing try to book tickets via website

    i think most cules or spanish football fans from abroad already are quite informed about the difficulties one encounters while playing to attend a game of the spanish league, mainly the uncertainties regarding the kick off time. As if this is not bad enough trying to book tickets for me and 2 friends via the club website resembled a kafkaesque experience. we had 2 requirements: the seats close together and a maximum price of 80 Euros/person. Unfortunately it is impossible to search for tickets on the club page via a search profile. Instead you have to click through every section looking for the places and prices. Furthermore you are kicked out after 10 minutes. After 4 or 5 evenings spend in front of my laptop, clicking through the stadium sections again and again i finally succeded to get us the tickets. and our weekend could get under way.

    2. stadium experience

    i know that the atmosphere in spanish stadia and camp nou in partiuclar get often denigerated, i have an other opinion. i experienced that atmosphere this time and also the last time as quite pleasant. Subs and good actions were greatly cheered on and seections in the stadium tried to work on the atmosphere. One also has to take into account the different structure of fans attending games in spain compared to germany. in Germany the game is still very much dominated by male fans, and the ultra groups are the ones doing the atmosphere. in spain on the other hand you see much more families and in particular small children attending the game, which means you do not have the guys doing all the singing and screaming. I do like both ways of experiencing a game and do not like to count one against the other.

    3. the game

    3 things stood out for me: Alexis and Pedro were full of confidecne and like completely new players, you could see it not only in the goals, but also the small things like tricks and flicks they tried. The pressing was outragous, and the same goes for the movement of the front players. Lastly: Mascherano, this guy did go after every ball, even after we did lead by 6 goald, tried to avoid giving away corners or throw ins, very impressive.

    4. kits

    The senyera kit is an unbelievable succes, i think i did see more senyera kits in the city and at the game then home kids. after such a roaring success nike and the club return to the atrocities we were tormented with the seasons before one has to ask if they want to avoid earning money. During the game one could see whole families rocking the senyera kit.
    In the city and in the stadium neymar outnumbered messi 3:1 in shirts seen. i was very surprised by that, it seems that after years of no big starsignings people were craving for a big, shiny, new name to wear on their shirts w/o the guy in question even having played a whole game for us.

    4.other FCB sections

    i came to the city to buy a basketball shirt with Navarro on the back and was very surprised that in non of the stores in the city (i tried 3-4) they had shirts from the other Barca teams, only football. Finally i did find one in the megastore at the stadium, where Basketball, Futsal, handball, had a hidden mini corner. I find it very strange that the club is hidding our other sections like some smelly uncle the family is ashamed of. Thses teames are huge in their respective sports, like the handball team, which is top dog and very famous in germany. RoSELL is always moaning about the other sections, but hardly does anything to exploit their potential, in particular abroad.

    5. overall impression

    this club is huge and could be a money making machine, everybody going to the megastore before/after a game will see what i mean. The people were ripping the shirts from the hangers in their haste to spend money.
    in the moring after game there was an article in MD, that ovr 30.000 tickets were given back by season ticket holders and were sold to individuals.
    In a famous interview fans from abroad were called customers, that’s fine with me, that’s the way things are, but then at least the club should do everything to make it a good customer experience, which can be done by small things like better ticketing via website.

    6. Big Thank You

    to michele and Jen, 2 of the nicest people i ever had the pleasure to meet, who made it an unforgetable evening and experience for 3 loud, drunk and potty mouthed germans

    • stefan2k
      August 20, 2013

      Thanks for the detailled write-up… did you look into those offers which give you flight + hotel + ticket for a fixed price?

      • Humphrey Bogart
        August 20, 2013

        that’s how i got there first time, but if you get a cheap flight and stay in hostel you can come cheaper if you plan for yourself

      • stefan2k
        August 20, 2013

        Indeed I do… coming from Austria I have yet to see my first live game. Got a hostel recommendation?

      • Humphrey Bogart
        August 20, 2013

        stayed in itaca hostal,, near the cathedrale, very centrale, stayed in a dorm for 31 Euro/night, flight is biggest problem as it is getting more and more expensive to book a flight the closer you get to the data, but that clashes with the uncertainty about the day of the kickoff

      • stefan2k
        August 21, 2013

        Thanks! Really looking forward to this experience

    • August 20, 2013

      Lovely. Thank you for that, and I continue to have hope that the hockey team will be rocking the Senyera shirt, so that I can get a logoless one.

      The Neymar vs Messi thing doesn’t surprise me. Messi is a spectacular player, but he is as charismatic as a loaf of dry bread. He wants to kill, then go home. Nothing to see here.

      • Ryan
        August 21, 2013

        Plus everybody already has a Messi shirt, so Neymar is an easy option when you’re shopping for a new shirt.

    • August 21, 2013

      Thank you for this, which itself read like an experience.

    • August 21, 2013

      Thanks for posting this, Kat! We love hearing about people’s experiences at the games or other encounters with the team. Glad to hear the crowd atmosphere was so positive!

    • August 21, 2013

      Aww – you’re so sweet!

      It was fantastic to meet you as we watched the Liverpool, Arsenal & La Real games in between drinking & tapas!

      Great fun!

  16. Miguel
    August 20, 2013

    Pep in lederhosen. You’re welcome.
    pic.twitter.com/eTfGKKb85p

  17. TITO
    August 20, 2013

    I dont know where to look it in some other website, so i will just post it from this one, it’s in Cyrillic, but just watch the video, it’s an outstanding experience.

  18. EnzoBarca
    August 20, 2013

    I’d be surprised if the new coach has changed so much so soon. Probably just a bit of optomism. But I do like the sounds coming from the coach regarding rotations, pressing and an open-door policy with players. I also appreciate how he’s taken responsibility for not signing a centre-back and I hope this means he understands the consequences if his decision backfires.

    As for tactics, I think we have to acknowledge that Barca is capable of winning the league regardless of who the Manager is the real test for Tata will be whether he can find a tactical solution to the parked-bus strategy employed against us in recent seasons. I hope him the best. Visca Barca

  19. ElJefe
    August 20, 2013

    Guys, what’s happened to BFB? 7-0 1st game of season victory and virtually no reporting. Are guys on break? I’ve been having to read BBlaugranes, which is painful.

    • August 20, 2013

      Apologies. You missed the word about the site changing. The way that real life is pressing on all of us, we just don’t have the time (nor frankly, sustainable energy) for the obligatory previews and reviews.

      Content will be significantly more sporadic in nature, mostly when one of the mods is moved to write something. We have many voice here, and I would like to add some new ones, mostly for the sake of variety, but they would be contributors, rather than actual mods. We’ll see how that goes.

      As for the Levante match, what is there to say that hasn’t already been said in the comments? We whomped on a vastly inferior opponent. Yay for us. I don’t know that any real representations can be taken from the match, except that we are a lot better than Levante. We already knew that.

    • August 20, 2013

      I’ll still review from time to time and come round the comment section to shoot the breeze with y’all, but it won’t be every match.

      I look back at that first year of the website and I am not sure if Kxevin and Isaiah had any lives at all, as much as I love BfB there is no way I could contribute at that level of quantity and quality.

      • stefan2k
        August 21, 2013

        Much appreciated!

    • barca96
      August 21, 2013

      What’s wrong with B. Blaugranes? It’s chilled out. You read it on the browser or through the app? I can’t open the a SB Nation app and I can’t find it anymore on the market.

    • Rami
      August 20, 2013

      I felt tired just by watching them, It’s the perseverance of a group of players that want to win everything, And i have faith in them.
      After what happened last season, They realized the value of what they lost, And it’ll only make them more determined than ever.

  20. ooga aga
    August 20, 2013

    official website gave the list of those called for the game tomorrow…only real news is that adriano wont play, since he is sanctioned (yellows?), which may explain why he played 90 vs levante. sergi roberto also will not be called. the rest will be there.

    • ooga aga
      August 20, 2013

      dongou and bagnack both practiced with the first team today

    • morph73
      August 21, 2013

      Adriano got a red in the last Supercup match against EE for tackling Ronaldo.

  21. nanoculé
    August 20, 2013

    This may have been answered before but, does anyone know who is covering the game tomorrow in the US. I looked at the Bein schedule and it doesn’t have it listed. Should I just look for a stream?

  22. zashaw
    August 20, 2013

    It’s on ESPN2 and WatchESPN (online). So, I’ll be able to watch in HD even with Comcast!

    BTW, check livesoccertv.com, it’s pretty comprehensive.

  23. KEVINO17
    August 20, 2013

    Team selection for this game is going to be fascinating. Great chance for Tata to emphasise his rotation policy.
    So, expecting to see Song start – seriously.

  24. August 21, 2013

    Watched the qualification for Sociedad. So happy for them. The cherry on the cake was two incredible goals.
    I really wish they will go a long way in the CL.

    • ciaran
      August 21, 2013

      How did Inigo Martinez play? Every time I watch him I’m more and more impressed with him

      • August 21, 2013

        He was allright. I thought, the four defenders defended together as a team. I cannot say one person stood out from their defence. Especially in the second half, when for about 10 minutes Lyon really tried hard, it was nice to see Real defending with heart.

        But really, this match will be remembered for the two stunning goals, first by Griezmann, a scissor kick. But I always will say there is a big luck behind all scissor kick goals. But the second by Seferovic, was brilliant. For 2M, its a great buy for RS. The one touch passing that lead to the second goal was beautiful too.

      • August 21, 2013

        I think it was Inigo who played a horror ball backwards and Bravo had to come way out in order to stop a Lyon goal. Terrible mistake.

  25. nia
    August 21, 2013

    SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!!!! Goltv Canada is showing the super cup on TV. Arrggggg!!! I’m so excited since I don’t have to struggle with a hazy stream tomorrow 🙂 Down side is, I have to put up with those annoying commentators who are not Ray and Phil.

  26. pr17
    August 21, 2013

    is jordi roura still there or has tito’s support team been dismantled.
    after xavi’s less than favourable comments, i wonder if he is still there

    • August 21, 2013

      Roura is still there & travelled to Madrid with the team this morning. As did Altimira.

      Haven’t seen Rubi though.

  27. August 21, 2013

    I actually want EE to land Bale.
    Yes, he is an explosive player and normally such acquisitions should spell danger for rivals. But that squad is so loaded with Egos, things are bound to be imbalanced. Further it will bury a 100M Euro hole in their pockets. Even though these extravagant purchases don’t seem to impact their finances much, I’m glad they are spending so much on someone they don’t even need. It’s a scary squad no doubt, but if I were an EE supporter (shudder) I’d be quite scared about the potential imbalance. It doesn’t look like they are going to drift much from the Galactico policy any time soon, which is good for our positioning.

    • G6O
      August 21, 2013

      Admittedly, I am not a tactical genius but it is still a complete mystery to me what their tactical plans for the Bale purchase are. How exactly is he going to coexist with Cristiano? I just can’t see it.

      • August 21, 2013

        RM have been trialling Cristiano as a #9. Seems to like it there.

      • Ryan
        August 21, 2013

        Do you mean EE likes it, or TB himself? Because he hasn’t had much success as a #9 for Portugal, despite that country’s great lack of a goalscorer besides him. And for EE, they went as far as getting Adebayor rather than use TB consistently as a #9.

        So it would be very interesting to see if EE actually tries using him long-term as a #9!

      • @Wardhigleey
        August 21, 2013

        Prob use him as a version of ronaldo on the right side. I dont see it any other way. Spec since the center is packed for them.

        Di Maria should look elsewhere if bale comes.

    • @Wardhigleey
      August 21, 2013

      I could not agree with you more, Di Maria And Ozil will sooner rather then later feel left out at somepoint.

  28. August 21, 2013

    Denis Suarez deal is done. Less than 2m, this year with B then promotion. Brilliant bit of business. Many say the next David Silva.

    • August 21, 2013

      So I’m guessing he could/will likely be included in Copa squads right?

      • August 21, 2013

        Will probably see him settling into B for a bit, then they want to get him away from Eusebio as quickly as possible. I predict some shuttling back and forth, is preparation for the promotion next season.

        Man! Nice bit of business by the club if he pans out. We rip them for not doing the right stuff, so should give full credit when they do good. This is good.

      • Ryan
        August 21, 2013

        The article mentions him being small at 5’11, but he’d be a relative giant for our team!

  29. @Wardhigleey
    August 21, 2013

    Probably wont happen, but i still hope we sell Song. Fingers crossed Arsenal panic and want him back before the window closes.

    He will barely play cause sergio never rest, so those few mins
    am sure we can manage with the squad we have without him.

    I dont see him staying beyond this season anyways.

    He’s a good player, but it seems like for some reason he cant
    show his skills in the way we use him.

    • August 21, 2013

      Is there a rationale for selling quality depth? If Martino is planning to rest/rotate Messi, what makes you think that he won’t do the same with Busquets?

      • @Wardhigleey
        August 21, 2013

        Dont think no matter rotation, that Song will get enought mins to justice salary/transfer fee not to mention that dual function of Defender and /midfielder idea did not work.

        I would not mind to be proven wrong. Just feels like he got at most one year left with us.

        My hope for sale comes from wishful thinking that it would force us to move Masch back to DM and we would go crazy for à CD shopping…..

  30. barca96
    August 21, 2013

    Just got back from Seoul. Just to add something in regards to the result last weekend and Messi getting subbed off.

    – Didn’t Tito show signs of it as well in the 1st quarter of last season by not starting or taking Messi and other key player off? And as the season progressed, such occurrence were hard to come by. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    – Isn’t too early for the players to start talking how they’ve changed. It’s only 1 game in.

    If the previous manager isn’t dealing with cancer right now, I wouldn’t really mind but Tito is having a tough time now. It’s not pleasant for him to hear his ex players comparing him to the new manager.

    – So I was right that Roura didn’t prepare well for the matches *wink*

    – They actually did look really promising! There always seem to be an outlet and everyone seem to join in the attack where last season or before there wasn’t an outlet in the box.

    Exciting season ahead!

    • August 21, 2013

      No, because the players understand what is going on in the squad far better than any outside observer. If they say that things are changing back to the way that they were, we should believe them.

      And there have been no direct comparisons to Vilanova. If anything, Guardiola is the one who precipitated the downward slide for the squad.

      As far as slagging Roura, what the players are saying is that everything was a mess. When everything is a mess, routine goes out the window. It happens, and would have happened no matter who the assistant coach was. Roura did the best job he could given the absurd injury situation. Many cules would be well served by admitting that things didn’t go as well as they could have last season, but it was nobody’s fault. Sometimes, stuff just doesn’t work out. That’s life, and football is life.

      Last season started out rather similarly to this season, only without the pressing. Runs into the box, vertical passing, diagonal runs. Nice, aggressive game. This continued almost up to the period when Vilanova began to have difficulties.

  31. barca96
    August 21, 2013

    Ahsan, you’re from Egypt aren’t you? Everything alright in your area?

  32. apanchippo
    August 21, 2013

    Xabi Alonso apparently out for 3 months. Broke his foot in training.

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