Categorized | Barcelona

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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226 Responses to “Season Preview”

  1. 86ed says:

    What I hope happens is that Martino (I refuse to call anyone ‘Tata’. Who the hell thought that’s a good nickname to give someone?!?) phases out players like Xavi and Alves, giving more time to S. Roberto and Montoya. I fear however that he will be as obstinate as Villanova was in refusing to use younger players. Ahead of the first match he has cut Montoya, meaning almost certainly Alves (coming from a knock) will play the full 90′. Maybe things will change as the long season goes by but already I am having the same weird feelings I had with Villanova.

    • 86ed says:

      *S. Roberto has also been cut.

    • Rami says:

      Dude, We still haven’t even finished the first official match of the season.
      Our young players aren’t born with a birthright to play, They have to earn the coach’s trust and that takes time and work
      ‘Rotation’ doesn’t literally mean that each player will share 50% of the total minutes, It’s impossible, Unless our squad is composed of players of equal levels, It can’t happen, There will always be a senior player over another, And he will take the biggest slice of the pie.
      Martino doesn’t have previous la liga experience, And it’ll take time for him to get a clear picture of his future line-ups, Starting the first official match of the season with a mixed line-up or seniors and youngsters is not only arrogant but reckless, Specially when it’s of the biggest importance to start the season in a good way.

      • 86ed says:

        I never said they had a birthright to play, but a callup would have been a nice reward for Roberto and Montoya’s having played in most of the preseason games.
        I have a contrary view. Starting the first game of the season with a mixed lineup of mostly youngsters and seniors would have sent a really strong message to the team. Victory or loss in a single game is meaningless in a league so poor that we’re guaranteed one of the top two spots, so Martino had better lay the groundwork for the season and the future. Villanova was not inclined to think that way and so by the end of last season the team hadn’t really changed from 2011 or 2012.

        • Rami says:

          By admitting that this is a two horse league, By logic there can’t be such thing as a meaningless game, A tight race means less margin of error, A single draw or loss might make the difference between the 1st and 2nd.
          Most of our main 11 were already on vacations when the pre-season started, There’re the ones who need minutes the most, No point rotating players that aren’t in need of rest, It’s a bigger priority to get xavi to his peak physical condition than roberto for example.

          • 86ed says:

            Xavi’s time at the club is coming to a close, whether we like it or not. It is better to prepare for it than hope he’ll get younger. He’ll be 34 in January, so hoping to bring him to the peak of his physical condition is an oxymoron. We’ve already lost one prospect due to little playing time. I’d hate to lose another for the same reason.

            You misunderstand my meaning. What is the point of winning the league by 100 pts in a crap league? Villanova last year took no chances, and played the Inista-Busquets-Xavi triumvirate til he run them into the ground ahead of Bayern. It became ridiculous at one point. I think it is far better to take chances, risk losing points and the league, and prepare the young for the tough times at the club, than any league victory no matter by how many points’ advantage.

            I can already see what lineup Martino will use tomorrow; the same-old-same old, tried and tested., fan-favourite XI. Levante may well be hammered by an obscene score. But so what? Must we mortgage the future so we can win a league?

          • Kxevin says:

            When you say “we already lost one prospect,” I assume you mean Thiago. Xavi wasn’t the reason Thiago wasn’t getting minutes. Thiago was. Kick ass and take names in training, and you get minutes. Kick ass and take names in matches on a consistent basis and you get minutes.

            Thiago was in the same pool as Fabregas and Iniesta. With those two having significant roles for the senior Spanish NT, hard not to see the writing on the wall for an ambitious player. The Neymar purchase further complicated matters for Thiago, who chose to be the new toy (which would guarantee playing time) than the old toy, so to speak.

            Nothing against Thiago, but I think that it’s misguided to put his departure at the feet of Xavi. I would mark it as a situation that many wish would have ended differently, but didn’t. Is everyone happier? We’ll see this season.

  2. ooga aga says:

    sergi roberto, dos santos and montoya left off the list for tomorrows game.

  3. ooga aga says:

    “Estoy esperando la llegada de Puyol, que trabaja en el campo con mucha intensidad y es probable que a partir de la fecha FIFA del mes de septiembre pueda volver a entrenarse con normalidad”. Continuaba: “Yo sé cuál era la postura del Club. Lo que yo digo es que estando bien ‘Puyi’, con Piqué, Bartra, Mascherano y Adriano o Busquets, estamos bien. Y si pasa algo, tenemos el mercado de invierno a tres meses”.

    “I am expecting the arrival of Puyol, who is working on the field with much intensity, and it is probable that beginning with the FIFA date of Sept 1 he will be able to train again with normality.” He continued: “I know what the club’s stance was. What I say is that if Puyi is well, with Pique, Bartra, Masch and Adriano or Busquets, we are fine. And if something happens, we have the winter market in 3 months.”

    • ooga aga says:

      Además, recordaba: “Los problemas que hubo el año pasado en la defensa fueron todos por lesión. Si están todos en condiciones, tenemos alternativas”.

      Additionally, he recalled: “The problems that there were last year in defense were all due to injury. If everyone is in good condition, we have options.”

    • ooga aga says:

      ditto, isaiahhhhhh!

      welcome home son, guess what we we’re doing while you were gone?
      cocktail party’s in gear and we were so glad that you’re here,
      why don’t you sit down?

  4. Kxevin says:

    Martino said/did two things today that impressed the hell out of me:

    1. He said of (which means to) the players left off the squad, in effect, they were left off today, but they are part of this team and have a place. No worries.

    2. He said that he is a big fan of rotation as a way to keep key players fresh during a long season being contested on many fronts.

    — Ryan Giggs featured, and played very well for Manchester United today. He is 6 years older than Xavi. Just throwing that out there for those ready to put Xavi in a box and start kicking dirt on it.

    Of course, it has to be acknowledged that Xavi is, like all aging players do, losing a step. But he isn’t ready to be put out to stud quite yet.

    • 86ed says:

      I think I understand what Martino is trying to do, which is I suppose setting the tone for this campaign with a victory, preferably convincing. I’m simply disappointed that the players who quite impressed me during the preseason were left out altogether.

      Each player’s different. Maldini was a good defender up to ’07 aged 38, but I would have still tried to convince him to retire or otherwise terminated his contract (I say this as a huge Milan fan whose idol is he). I have little time for patience or emotions. Frankly a player of Xavi’s undoubted intelligence, on and off the field, should be the first to accept fewer minutes on behalf of the upcoming generation of players. It’s good for FCB in the long run, no?
      (Incidentally my pet theory is that the reason for Guardiola’s departure is that he didn’t have it in him to cut Xavi out altogether, or he could not otherwise convince the board of the wisdom of this measure. But I admit that there’s little evidence for such claims.)

      • 86ed says:

        *should read, “feelings” there instead of “patience.” I don’t know what I was thinking.

        • Kxevin says:

          Well, unless a player of Xavi’s intelligence understands that he still has no viable successor, and it would hurt the team more to cease bossing our midfield.

          And no, Thiago wasn’t that successor, despite the football fields of tears and rent garments during and in the aftermath of his departure. The closest I have seen coming through the ranks is Sergi Samper. Uncanny.

          But make no mistake, there is only a player playing in Xavi’s position. There is only one Xavi, and when he goes, the offense will of necessity run a bit differently. Iniesta is very close, so is Messi. Fabregas is not, though he could run the midfield in a very different fashion than Xavi.

          No, Guardiola, to my view, left because he saw what was about to happen and scuttled down the ratlines. I think that he also tired of the back room battles and stress. It happens.

          The Xavi decision isn’t emotional, just as the Puyol decision isn’t. It’s a simple question of who can/should replace that player. When there is no replacement, then either the system has to change, or find a way to keep using that irreplacable player in a fashion that doesn’t hamper the present system to that great a degree.

          At present, the latter situation is still the most viable for Barça.

          • 86ed says:

            But I don’t want to replace Xavi. I want to change the way Barca plays altogether by being rid of him. I feel, maybe without cause, we’re being held hostage to a dogmatic way of playing that suits Xavi that’s not in keeping with the times. I think football has moved on from the small technical player of Xavi’s mold. Right now the question on everyone’s mind is just who should replace Xavi, and I find that unnecessary. Just change the system Barca plays. If that means sacrificing players along the way to keep up with the times, so be it.

          • Ultraculé says:

            LEAVE XAVI ALONE!

        • Sangoku says:

          I agree that Xavi has not been at his best last season. But we need to remember that he has had to deal with that niggling achilles’ heel injury and was not being rotated.

          Even I have been frustrated with his constant lateral passes (bearing in mind that he is my favourite player!) but that has more to do with our last season’s tactics where every ball we lost made our back-line look like headless chickens.

          We’ve won about 15 trophies with Xavi masterminding our midfield and he still can be crucial to the team if the midfield is rotated accordingly.

    • CuleToon says:

      .
      Don’t take the following too seriously, just a little! :)

      As many of you know, Xavi is very Catalan: It’s not only that he enjoys «hunting» mushrooms, eating snails and «calçots»… those sorts of things. He’s so in his way of thinking, in his worldview. So, bearing this in mind, perhaps the most clear omen/sign about the end of his career as a player is, simply, the fact that he got married about a month ago!

      A traditional Catalan grannie saying, that Xavi ubdoubtedly knows from his infancy, says «Home casat, burro espatllat!», which is translated literally as «Married man, lame/broken down donkey!», and which, ultimately, points to the fact that the man in question has decided to «settle down» and has set other goals for his life…

    • Jafri says:

      Had a funny image there of the Barca directors deciding Xavi is too old to play football so now he must spend the rest of his days impregnating women.

  5. Levon says:

    I’m not worried about sitting JDS, SR and Montoya in the stands for the opening game. I am sure they will get the playing time they deserve this season.

    What I am worried about is not getting a CB because Puyol will recover from an injury in a couple of weeks. That is incredible short term thinking for a club that should have bought a CB two (or three) summers ago.

    • Ultraculé says:

      Yes, Lev. And I also do NOT share the belief that it’s better to not buy anyone than buy the wrong CB. First off, what qualifies as wrong? Was Chygrynskiy wrong? Or was he used wrongly? Puyol cannot be depended on anymore. He is at best a bonus when fit. Further it’s not fair on the player too.
      The blatant reluctance to buy a defender is baffling to say the least. Let’s just hope Martino knows what he is getting into when he says he likes his options. In a way, I feel maybe its best a defender gets injured soon, so that we atleast feel compelled to purchase one in the winter market. Because if an injury happens later, it’ll be too late and I would hate to see the decisive part of the season get ruined due to the stupidity of the management.

  6. yana says:

    Yay, time to watch football again! And I just discovered Directv finally has Bein español in HD, finally finally! (I don’t have Bein english).

    Thanks for the preview, BFB team.

    So, just happy to have football back, and to see what our boys bring us. Did I hope that we had a new (tall, defensive) boy to help with the load? Sure. Will I miss Abi, Villa, Thiago? Sure. But my team is my team, so. Visca Barça!

    I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I was hoping to see a match when I was in Argentina at the end of the month for business. I am! River Plate is at home the night we arrive (16 hours of flight! Bfff.) so we are on! Funny thing is, all my Argentine co-workers are huge Barça fans (we reschedule meetings around CL matches), and are all from Buenos Aires, but are all for different teams there. So now I have been dragged into their rivalries, jaja. We had the following conversation:

    Independiente: River is at home on Sunday, has to be River.
    Boca: River, ayyy, noooo.
    Independiente: Boca and we are away that weekend. I can go to River. Thank god it’s not Boca. I could not take you (talking to me) to Boca. No, no way.
    Boca: Puto.
    River: (to me, and to Boca) You have to wear red and white.
    Boca: (walks away)
    Independiente: She can wear her Barça jersey?
    River: Ehhh… yeah, would be okay.
    Me: No, I’ll blend, I’ll get a bufanda.
    River: No, no, you can use a bufanda to strangle someone. And don’t wear a belt. Or a watch. They’ll just make you leave them outside.
    Me. ….

  7. Eklavya says:

    What do the other mods think?

  8. Temple says:

    The team selection is proper with me. I believe the sat-out players will still get enough minutes, no doubt. This is Tata’s first Liga game, and he wants a spectacular start-off.

    Yes. I think there would be no new CB. And I’m, again, kicked in the shin.

    I always scoff at the thought of Tata getting one during the Winter Break — if there be injuries, that is, and which is inevitable though.
    What CB would he get? What team would be willing to let-go of their CB, at such critical period? Wouldn’t the price be much MORE exorbitant, due to the blood-rush crave? How would the CB, if got — that is, synchronize with the other defenders?

    The forth season on a throttle, and still no CB to fill an obvious rut? And we let-go of Abidal and Muniesa? This just beats me.

    Oh, well. C’est la vie.

  9. Spiza7 says:

    Getting Xavi to stand down and giving younger players game time is spoon feeding and will contradict our attempts to reignite the competitiveness in our squad. Sorry, but players have to earn their spot, this is the first official game of the season and it is a must win game, so the very BEST players start, not the youngest.

    Plus, Xavi gave up his last appearance for the Spanish NT to prepare for the new season. Xavi is conscious about his capacity to perform at his best, but his commitment is still 100%. I’d surprised if the coach doesn’t start Xavi against Levante.

  10. nujerzrey says:

    I’m with Levon on this one. Really hate to be saying this but I just cannot see us winning the league or the champion’s league this season. RM look scary and have a complete squad with no holes on their squad(maybe striker)while we can’t seem to get that CB we’ve been craving for 2 years now. I’m also not 100% convinced that Neymar will deliver this season. He will need time.

    I hope Tata can resolve the issues we have at the back like not having 2 fullbacks bomb forward, realize that Xavi is a defensive liability and keep the team fit with plenty of squad rotation(especially Messi). Best of luck to the team.

  11. Judas Pissed says:

    Tata has said officially that Barca will not be signing a centre back now as he is happy with the options he has. They are the same options that we had for the last 2 seasons which saw us fail to overcome Madrid and the very best teams in Europe so not sure this is the best decision. I’ll reserve judgment for well into the season but cannot help but think that if come Xmas we are trailing Madrid in the league and have struggled against a top European team in the Champions League then the decision not to strengthen the back line will come back to haunt us all…

  12. TITO says:

    I try to understand it, but i cannot, for the past several years i cannot.
    Maybe, just maybe, after failing with Chyhhryryrhrryyrsky, Henrique, Caceres and who else? in the recent years, the club is simply afraid to make the right deal. That’s why it was either Thiago Silva or no one else, a safe option, a certain success.
    Maybe, just maybe, they feel (all together) that Puyol will be the fittest player in the team season.
    Maybe, just maybe, they do believe that Bartra have something that EVERYBODY else, including us, are not seeing. Quality, strength, speed, position awareness, pace…well, to be a defender that we all hope/hoped he will be.
    One thing that baffles me, is the fact that the last 10 years or so, since Puyol came through our ranks, we didn’t succeeded to produce another player of the same or similar quality. Is it that hard???
    I know we like our midfielders, we adore them in our academy, but a defender once in a while wouldn’t be that bad.

    • Levon says:

      “since Puyol came through our ranks, we didn’t succeeded to produce another player of the same or similar quality. Is it that hard???”

      Puyol has arguably been the best defender of his generation. Yes, it is that hard.

      • ooga aga says:

        a good point in general Levon…we have been blessed with the coincidence of several players that could be called ‘best in a generation.’ lets enjoy it while we have it, and not get too entitled…

  13. Jim says:

    Okay, since everyone is chipping in with their thoughts on the season –

    Team wise, I think with the pressing reinstated and (hopefully, a better attitude to both FBs bombing forward at the same time) the defence will be fine till Puyol returns. Dont think we will win anything if we end up with either Bartra or Masch full time as our other CB. I think with both Messi and Neymar in the side the mids will be spoiled for options and we’ll start getting those goals out of nothing again rather than having to work v hard for them. I don’t see anyone replacing Xavi any time soon and I don’t see the youngsters getting as much time as some think but rotation can mean just taking the load off the midweek or easier home games. That’s enough. I also see Cesc winning us over a bit more. He knows last season wasnt great, despite all the good things and he’s burning to do better. Alexis / Pedro will be fighting for one spot and whoever can get the goals will win that one as they both defend well.

    Assuming Puyol is fit for the big games I still see us winning La Liga – if RM are trying to change their style to play more football it’ll help them against other sides but play into our hands because nobody passes the ball like us.

    I’m not sure about the CL because in the end you can always have a night like we did in Germany. We weren’t as bad as we seemed and we can’t play that badly again. However, this may just be another team’s time (PSG? ) Anyway, I reckon we will get to the semis and have a good chance of the final. ( Don’t care too much about the Copa although I suppose for some of the rotation players that’ll be a biggie so maybe I should).

    Whatever, I hope we continue to play our brand of football, although I suspect we may well now have a plan B with both Messi and Neymar able to profit from quick longer balls. That could well prove to be a nightmare for defences who will need 100% of the time to have both of them double teamed. You just can’t keep that up.

  14. ooga aga says:

    SCOOP!

    VALDES
    ALVES PIQUE MASCH ADRIANO
    BUSQUETS
    XAVI FABREGAS
    PEDRO ALEXIS MESSI

  15. Ahsan says:

    Super excited for the new season, visca Barca!

  16. Messiah10 says:

    Lineup:

    Valdes
    Alves, Pique, Masch, Alba
    Busi, Xavi, Iniesta
    Alexis, Messi, Neymar

  17. Jim says:

    Serious businessabout to start.

    Ok, what about Tata’s jacket ?

  18. ciaran says:

    Alexis f–king Sanchez

  19. ciaran says:

    this is going to be fun… 2-0 Messi

  20. ciaran says:

    Fabregas’ runs off the ball are really impressive

  21. xavi_purrnandez says:

    *this* is how i like to see us start a game!

  22. Ryan says:

    Messi pressing leads to yet another goal!

  23. ciaran says:

    last season Pedro would have passed it… good to see him with a bit of confidence

  24. doctor barca says:

    i dont know if anybodys noticed this but am luvin the way the guys are foulin when the other team is on the counter ….the ‘tata’ way

  25. Jared10 says:

    Amazing first half!!! :) Now lets see some rotation from Tata.

  26. dl says:

    I have to say I feel a bit sorry for Levante and the rest of the league, really. The idea that there are only two possible champions is really a travesty.
    On a more positive note, I’m really enjoying the team. Sanchez seems to have found a new determination and confidence this year, which is great to see. I think he has the potential to really tear things up. With the team on the field there are easily 6 guys who could rip one into the goal in the blink of an eye. Then there’s the bench (Iniesta, Neymar, Alba…). Damn. Too bad there isn’t more of a league.

  27. 86ed says:

    Messi taken out at the 70′ mark. I can’t remember the last time that happened.

  28. Jared10 says:

    I like that he took Messi off. In a game like that there was no need risking him at the end. Would love to see Messi and Neymar start together though.

    Great game, but it’s really sad to see just how much of a two horse race the league has become. All of the teams are capable of producing talent, but then their players get shipped off Barca, Madrid, City, Chelsea, etc. If all of the teams could afford to keep star players, for example; Mata and Silva, then the league would be greatly evened out. It’s really a shame to see teams unable to afford such great talents that they have created…

    But one a positive note we looked great! Look what happens when the pressing comes back.

    Visca Barca!

  29. EnzoBarca says:

    Can Champions Leaugue start already watching teams get flattened and never having a chance gets old after a while. At least Super Cup is soon. Can’t judge how good a team is when they play against teams that have already given up before the game has even started. Association really needs to look at La Liga its starting to become an anecdote after people have actually watched competitive leagues.

  30. Messiah10 says:

    What an incredible work rate and quick passing from our boys. They were zipping that thing around in the 1st half and playing more through the middle than last year. Good to see. Xavi’s ball was a thing of beauty to set up the 1st goal. Pure class. So good to see him near the box again. I thought Adriano played really well. Tato has Dani playing more conservatively, which we need. Messi, for being questionable this week for the game, was Freaking Messi! Love it that he’s back to pressing. This is the Barca that we love. High pressure, tactical fouls, quick passing, intelligent runs. Beautiful!

  31. Nik says:

    Via @LeeRoden89

    Tata: “Me and Leo spoke, the season is long. Resting minutes here & there = almost a full game of rest. He’s very smart, he agrees with me”

    Martino: “In games like tonight’s we have to look after his fitness so he’s well”.

    This makes me so happy.

    • Jim says:

      Also a nice sign to Cesc by starting him over Iniesta in light of the recent speculation.. Repaid by a great game from Cesc and I’m sure Ini isn’t put out. Good to have selection dilemmas for later in the season as well.

      • Nik says:

        Cesc looked pretty good in preseason, so he earned that start. Plus, didn’t Iniesta play in the Spain friendly? It makes sense that he’d be rested along with Alba.

    • Jafri says:

      Don’t forget “Of course, when the game is tight, not even the biggest fool subs him.” ;)

  32. Kxevin says:

    Sorry, but anyone whining about how the Liga sucks needs to watch the Betis/RM match. Could easily be 1-3 Betis, or 3-3. Open match in which the RM back line is being exposed time and again.

    Levante isn’t a good side, that was gutted by the loss of a couple of its best players. Everyone who knows Liga at all had them pegged for the drop, so I don’t know why the 7-0 home hammering is such a surprise to anyone. But people are looking for narratives, so that is as good a one as any, I suppose.

    Barça did what it was supposed to do: Kick the crap out of a markedly inferior opponent. Story over.

    Are there conclusions to be drawn from this match? Yes. Martino is the boss. That Messi sub was immense. Guardiola couldn’t do it, Vilanova couldn’t do it. Martino is like, “We talked, and it makes sense.” He’s absolutely right. This isn’t about Messi’s individual goals and stats. It’s about team accomplishment and rotation, to keep key players fresh. Xavi playing a full match surprised me, I have to say. Maybe he needs work on his fitness.

    — Fabregas looked briliant, but always does in the first half. Talk to me after the break about him.

    — That chest pass/volley attempt by Sanchez made me giggle, but it was the sign of a player brimming with confidence. Nothing is impossible. Good sign.

    — Pedro, freed from the stupidity of tactical width, is back in the play.

    — Messi is pressing and defending. This is what I was talking about. Our best ball winner is now part of the first line of defense. That is huge. If this intensity level keeps up, expect more matches to be decided by halftime, as in the Treble season.

    — Mascherano was a boss. On my Twitter TL, few were mentioning him, but I sure was. Not a foot wrong, and the perfect Barça CB for a high-pressing system, where his DM roots come to light. His being unsettled worries me greatly.

    A very good match that was more like a friendly. Few real conclusions can be drawn from it, other than that we have a hell of a football club, which is what I have been saying all along. The SuperCopa matches should be interesting.

    • Nik says:

      Mascherano was a boss. On my Twitter TL, few were mentioning him, but I sure was. Not a foot wrong, and the perfect Barça CB for a high-pressing system, where his DM roots come to light. His being unsettled worries me greatly.

      Excellent game by Masch. I have a feeling that he, along with Cesc & Alexis, are in for a good season under Tata.

  33. PrinceYuvi says:

    Tata, you beauty.

  34. Kxevin says:

    Also, ZubiZa said that barring anything unforeseen, no transfers this window. So much for the Rosell assertion that there would be one more signing. Maybe he meant Puyol.

    Also, there is growing speculation that when Cuenca and Afellay heal, they will be staying with the club. If that happens, our depth at key positions would verge on the absurd. As it is now, we had today a bench that included Iniesta, Neymar and Tello. Add Cuenca and Afellay to that bench, as well as Sergi Roberto, Dos Santos and Montoya, and Martino is going to have a very nice problem to have with selection headaches.

  35. alpinegroove says:

    I need help choosing TV service in the US that will allow me to watch the largest number of matches (Liga, CL, NT, etc.)

    What kind of service do you have and does it cover all of the matches you want to watch?

    Thanks!

    • Kxevin says:

      I have Comcast, with the Sports and Espanol packs, plus TV 5/Monde. This gives me Liga, Ligue 1, Serie A, Prem, all Champions League including qualifiers, etc, etc, everything except Bundesliga, which I never watched before, and won’t watch now that our ex-coach is coaching Bayern.

      DirecTV and Dish have similar setups, though if you are interested in Bundesliga, I think that Dish is the only one still carrying GolTV.

      • alpinegroove says:

        Thank you. That’s helpful. Does anyone here have Direct TV and comment on the type of plan they have?

      • alpinegroove says:

        Would you mind sharing the cost of that bundle?

        • Kxevin says:

          The Sports Pack, Espanol and TV 5 add $35 to my overall bill. TV 5 spendy fir a la carte channel. Sports Pack gets me all the English-language channels, includes BeIN, Fox Soccer/Sports, etc.

          • alpinegroove says:

            Thanks again. Never had TV service before…

          • Kxevin says:

            Not sure where you live, but if you get snow or heavy rains, know that satellite service will be affected, where cable service won’t be. I have had both satellite (DirecTV) and cable, and would never go back to satellite, for technical and aesthetic reasons. That big grey dish is ugly.

            Advantages and disadvantages are that because cable is a mechanical system, it can be bandwidth limited, making cable providers slow in adding HD channels, which take up a lot more bandwidth than regular digital channels. Satellite, in effect being in the air, has no such limitation. Every channel can be 1080 on a satellite system and the bandwidth requirements don’t really matter.

            Yes, I used to cover TV/technology in a past life.

        • alpinegroove says:

          That’s really good to know about satellite. It doesn’t snow where I am, but cloud cover could be an issue.
          Since I have no experience with this, I am pretty shocked by how complicated and expensive these packages are.
          I don’t watch other TV. I am only interested in watching sports. But it looks like in order to get all of the necessary channels (For La Liga, CL, CDR, EPL, and NT), this would cost around $100 per month after all the taxes and fees (DVR, etc.). Wow…

          • Doug says:

            I have DirecTv. Cloud cover is not a problem, although bad storms/snow can mess things up. My DVR capacity is greater than with cable (80+ hours). I had cable, but I actually prefer Directtv.

          • alpinegroove says:

            Thanks for the perspective, Doug. What Direct TV packages allow you to watch all of the FCB games?

          • Kxevin says:

            Oh, cloud cover no problem at all. Just snow, heavy thunderstorms, etc.

            Yes, indulging a love can be a bit spendy. The larger problem is that all providers have a minimum level at which you must subscribe to start piling on the fancy stuff. That’s what gets you. In an ideal world, you would be able to get basic cable, plus the Sports Pack, which would include BeIN, Fox Sports 1, etc, and cover you for 95% of matches, for around $50 per month with a DVR.

          • alpinegroove says:

            Yes, I have noticed that. Packages that have beIN Sport, don’t have beIN in Spanish. Ones that have ESPN, don’t have ESPN Deportes. Those that do, don’t have Fox Soccer, and so on. I couldn’t find any arrangement that includes everything for less than $80 (once the introductory rates expire).

            It looks like there is more and more talk these days, even in Congress, about a la carte channels.

          • SoccerMom says:

            Hey alpine,

            We get DirecTV too and it’s true that we can tell when a storm is coming because we lose reception for a while. Normally though it’s o.k.

            One trick: check out the Spanish-language packages, not the English-language + extra channels packages. The Spanish-language packages often have the same basic-cable English channels + more sports (if you don’t mind watching your matches on BeIN / Fox Deportes / ESPNE, etc.) *and* it’s a lot cheaper!

            Also, in the Spanish packages you will find channels that occasionally run one of the old “El Santo” movies. James Bond in a silver wrestling mask, so great!

          • alpinegroove says:

            Yes, I noticed the Spanish packages being a lot cheaper, but most of them, except for the most expensive, do not include basic English-speaking channels, like ESPN.
            Otherwise, I am fine watching in Spanish, but some games are only available in the English speaking channels.
            As Kxevin said, “indulging a love can be a bit spendy.”

          • Miguel says:

            would totally be worth it if you were to catch el santo vs las momias de guanajuato, alpine

  36. Ultraculé says:

    Initial Thoughts ::

    ~ If Tata is gonna keep Messi pressing through the season, BEWARE people! Good things happens when Leo presses.

    ~ I think Pedro will keep his exclamation this season and Lexus will come good and get his own unique punctuation.

    ~ I like the thought that Tata will bring a bit of pragmatism to the side. The tactical fouling when transitioning to defense was refreshing to see. I sense that Barca under Martino is going to be very hard to beat in cup competitions.

    ~ Neymar is still a kid. One thing he would well to understand is that he musn’t try to Lexus himself by trying too much too impress too soon. He can and must take his time to naturally evolve. Learn the trade first. Then, entertain.

    ~ Lets face it. Levante were pathetic today. While Mascha has my biggest respect and love, our weak link is still the center of defense especially when it comes to defending in the box and aerial battles. Lets hope ATM gives us a good test and we pass with flying colors.

    ~ All in all, good sensations abound and I’m getting some flashbacks of 08-09 and 10-11 all over again. Barca looks refreshed. For the first time in many years, the clasico also promises to be purely about football without many undercurrents. With Mou around, ee never allowed the classic to be really only about who’s better at football. Visca Barca, I pray that we win big things this season.

    • dl says:

      Yes, that last comment about the classicos — mou turned madrid into a bunch of thugs, and I’m really looking forward to a straight up match. Both squads are capable of brilliance, and it’s high time we get to see it again.

  37. 86ed says:

    I’m grumpy old man but I would have preferred a closer victory, even a 1-0, if it meant our using younger players in defence and midfield. I dont much care winnning so comfortably against such a poor opponent (on the field and financially poor to boot). The two things I did like were the confidence Sanchez displayed (which he tend to do against weaker teams) and Martino’s subbing Messi. That was brilliant.

    • ciaran says:

      There’s no way that I would have preferred a 1-0 even with Bagnack, Barta, JDS and Sergi playing. Levante were bad but our intensity was impressive.
      Madrid are just about to win 2-1 against Real Betis and I’m sure they would have preferred a 7-0.

      Whatever about giving minutes to our young players, giving confidence to Pedro, Sanchez and Cesc is way more important to the success of this season

      • 86ed says:

        Well to each their own. I don’t fancy watching games like this one; you apparently do. Where’s the fun in that, I ask? You can give confidence to Pedro, Sanchez, and Fabregas, AND play Montoya and Roberto at the same time, you know. Once again Bartra wasn’t used. If he isn’t good enough to play a couple of minutes vs Levante then he has no reason to be with our team. Just don’t ask him to step it up vs Bayern again when all season he can’t even get scraps off the table.

        • Kxevin says:

          I think some realism is in order. No coach is, on his home league debut, going to start a weakened side, no matter the opponent. The first home match of any league is a gala occasion, which will deserve something as close to the gala XI as a coach dares roll out. It’s as simple as that.

          Nobody honestly enjoys matches such as this one, that are so lopsided. But they are a reality of life in a Liga in which a team such as Levante exists. The point isn’t to gain confidence for young players, which is something they should already have, having gained it from practice. What do you reckon is going to give Bartra more confidence, defending against the best players in the world in practice, or taking part in a laugher in which he doesn’t do anything, against a relegation candidate?

          There will be plenty of time for rotation as the season progresses. A club’s first home match isn’t the time for that.

          Simple fact of the matter is that there is absolutely nothing to find fault in with this performance. I would wager that almost every fan would rather see their club win 7-0 than 1-0. This is the first match of the season. Give Martino some time before you question everything that he does. He deserves that.

          • 86ed says:

            The fixture list for the next month reads @Atletico, @Malaga, vs Atletico, @Valencia, vs Sevilla. Now is the time to play the youngsters: so that by the next time an injury crisis hits, and it will hit as it always does a team with a short bench, they will be ready.
            Playing a real game will give you confidence. You can train with C. Ronaldo all you want, but it’s only playing with or against him that you’ll move up.

    • blitzen says:

      I would love to have seen Bartra get some minutes today, but I’m giving Tata the benefit of the doubt on this one. It was his first league game, at home, and it was very important to win it in a decisive way. The team gains confidence, the fans are happy, and everyone is pumped up for the next game, where actual silverware is on the line (away to Atletico Madrid for the first leg of the Supercopa). This is exactly what the team needed.

      In his earlier presser Tata made it clear that he believes strongly in rotation, and everyone will get their chance. So I’m not going to panic if Montoya or Sergi Roberto don’t feature straight away. They will have their chances.

  38. Kxevin says:

    Last year, in April, we won 1-0 vs Levante at home. Had to look it up. It was 0-4 away.

  39. flyzowee says:

    Hmm… Contrary to the sensations I got when Neymar arrived, it seems he is going to have to fight for his place.

    He and Messi have hardly had anytime together linking up so far.

    I think Wed is when we get to find out who actually makes up the starting 11.
    Should be interesting.

    • Kxevin says:

      Neymar was always going to have to fight for his place. That was apparent to me from the start. In reality, he is a 17m transfer when you exclude the Daddy Bonus. That’s what we paid for Song, by way of perspective.

      His potential is immense, but he is a young player. We will get glimpses of it, but I don’t really expect full on mojo until next season. This season, he is going to have a hell of a battle on his hands with Pedro once again ready to rumble.

      My hope is that there won’t be a “starting XI” as much as a selection of players based on the opponent and the situation. Pedro will be better at times, Neymar at other times, Tello or Sanchez on left or right at others. The hope is that Martino thinks of this as a collection of pieces.

  40. Rami says:

    Absolutely phenomenal performance both in offense and defense, My heart tells me we’ll kick-ass this season, My brain tells me it’s too late to judge.
    A bit of a flashback to pep’s last season with us shows that we obliterated most teams in camp nou, But in away games, We turned into headless chickens.
    Osasuna: 8-0 home, 2-3 away
    Villareal: 5-0 home, 1-1 away (i think?)
    Getafe: 4-0 home, 0-1 away.

    The conditions now and then aren’t the same of course, But what i’m trying to say, Is that the away games won’t be as easy as last season.
    Bringing back the pressure has it’s own set of problems, We get more ‘crowding’ and compressed lines near the oppositions goal, Due to camp nou’s pitch size and the short grass the team can still perform well in these tight spaces, But in other stadiums where the pitch is small and the grass is tall, Well things don’t go as smoothly, And this problem grew more and more with pep, So i’m interested how martino will handle this.

  41. Ahsan says:

    OT: I was thinking of making a trip to Barcelona for the derby in the first week of November. Does anyone know roughly how much a match ticket would cost?

  42. Kxevin says:

    Interesting thought for the day (two, actually):

    1. Friendlies, pre-season and first match, and Adriano isn’t broken.
    2. If the team continues to be set up as it was today, there is an argument to be made for Adriano leapfrogging Alba in the XI. Today, he was vaguely approximating that Abidal role, and worked really well with Alves on the other side. Alves was also more disciplined, btw.

    Once you don’t need your FBs to attack as much, you begin to want a bigger, stronger more physical player at that left fullback slot.

    Will be interesting to see what happens as the season progresses, before Adriano inevitably breaks.

    — Not sure if anyone watched Sevilla vs ATM, but more than a few pundits were commenting on something I also noticed, that Atleti got a LOT better when Villa came off and Oliver Torres came on. If the rumors are true about us having first rights on him, that Villa sale deal is looking better and better.

  43. Spiza7 says:

    A great performance by the team. Definitely reminded me of the 10/11 days. But lets not jump to conclusions just yet.

    -The team has yet to be tested. Especially in away games where things become complicated.

    -Did we defend that well or were Levante just not good enough? I mean Barral was the only player for Levante who created any sort of threat, the rest couldn’t.

    -However in attack, there is no doubt that we were AMAZING. It doesn’t matter if Levante couldn’t cope, but the way in which our attacking players showed character like little flicks over the top, cheeky dummy’s, perfectly timed runs. the movement off the ball was ever present. We brought back the unpredictability that we were missing in the past. When you see Xavi not even hesitate once to give a long ball then you know the team is working well.

    • The attack part was brilliant especially the pressing off the ball and how they were becoming really compact. Even our players weren’t anywhere near the very best, look at the number of careless passes in between. But because of the pressing it never mattered. And once they play a couple of matches we will see the real beast of Tata Martino’s team which is quite scary for opponents.

      As far as the defense is concerned, we were never tested. Pique got seriously bored and was looking to play as a number 9 sometimes.

  44. nia says:

    LOL nice comment I saw on Sport: CR7 96 mil, Kaka 67 mil, Bale 100 mil, back to see Barca pressing and moving fast, PRICELESS!!!!

  45. simple_barcafan says:

    7-0…Ironic…

  46. psalmuel says:

    my findings:
    1. The press is back and our forwards and mids, appeared to be fouling anytime they lost the ball, deep in the opponents half- Thats a good one to break up counter-attacks.
    2. Finally, I get me a coach who has the balls, to sub Messi when the game ‘is over’. Tito or Pep would have left him on the pitch even if the score was 100-0. We need our best player fresh for this long sojourn.
    3. Martino is trying to rid messi-dependence by trying to integrate cesc in that false 9 position. Cesc can only master it(albeit not in the messi way) in his own way, if he gets to play there now and then. Last season,tito just caught him ‘off guard’ and threw him in ‘that hole’ when messi was injured. Cesc will add that unpredictability cos he’s more direct; receive-ball-close to/inside-box-find-team-mate-or-score kind of player,no adornments.
    4. How I wish we dnt have a gala XI or, atleast one that is not is predictable. Tata is showing glimpse of that by preaching rotation.
    5. Our full-backs appear to be staying more put now. I think thats the reason, Tata isn’t bent on signing a CB. We won’t be caught-out quite often like before again. We just need to work on defending set pieces
    6. Au revoir! ‘stupid-tactical width’
    7. We taking more shorter corners now(whats the use of crossing it when no one is gonna head it in?
    8. Pique could be our planB CF (let me dream!).

  47. TITO says:

    One thing i was not sure though, what was Tello doing on the right, where he can’t create nothing?

    • morph73 says:

      Neymar was on the left and Cesc in the CF role when he came on the pitch… That was the only position left for him though eventually towards the end he came back on the left flank when Neymar started to drift off towards the CM and CF roles…
      I think we will be seeing Tello more on the right this season, considering if he comes on while Neymar is there on the pitch.

      • TITO says:

        I know that Ney was on the left, but you don’t through in a player just for a sake of it, to the only available position because his natural position is occupied.
        You want to take the full advantage of Tello, place him on the left, and that’s it.
        He wont do any good when he attacks from the right.

        • blitzen says:

          Maybe Tata is trying to train Tello to be more versatile and play in a different position. Most of our players can play in more than one position, if Tello wants to succeed at Barça he should be able to as well. As we were already 6 goals up, why not experiment?

          • TITO says:

            I’m sure that’s what he thought, but considering the last 2 years of Tello with the first team, it’s evident that he cannot take a shot with his left foot, which is essential when he cuts from the right and tries to shoot.
            But, anyway, if he wants to succeed he must be more versatile, and who knows, it might surprises us all, at least me.

          • morph73 says:

            Also other than the versatility point for Tello I think since Neymar is being integrated into the team as of now so Martino might be playing to his strengths rather than experimenting with him in new positions.

    • morph73 says:

      What I meant by “Neymar started to drift off towards the CM and CF roles” is that when he started dropping deep or was tracking back towards the end of the game…

    • nzm says:

      Interesting point was that Tello was also played on the right with VdB vs. Ecuador. He has played on the right before as Kevin has commented that it’s a position in which he’d relish Tello being played.

  48. lala10 says:

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

    • ciaran says:

      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.

  49. Ultraculé says:

    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.

  50. psalmuel says:

    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

  51. psalmuel says:

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

  52. simple_barcafan says:

    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…

    • Kxevin says:

      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 says:

        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 says:

        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..)

  53. Ultraculé says:

    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!

    • KEVINO17 says:

      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.

  54. Ahsan says:

    Guys I know you have a pretty strict no-plugging-links policy so feel free to delete, but after the 7-0 there was a lot of rubbish about equality and parity in La Liga, so I wrote a post about it http://fiverupees.com/2013/08/19/inequality-in-europes-top-four-football-leagues/

    • Kxevin says:

      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.

  55. Messiah10 says:

    Interesting article on Smasch from Tim Vickery. He talks about Argentina’s hopes of a WC have as much to do with him as Messi.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/23751616

  56. nia says:

    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.

    • blitzen says:

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

      • KEVINO17 says:

        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 says:

        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.

        • blitzen says:

          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.

  57. KEVINO17 says:

    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?

  58. ooga aga says:

    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

  59. simple_barcafan says:

    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 says:

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

      • Spiza7 says:

        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.

      • nzm says:

        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 says:

        Thanks Spiza7 and nzm..

  60. lala10 says:

    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 says:

      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 says:

        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 says:

          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 says:

            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 says:

            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 says:

            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.

  61. nzm says:

    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 says:

      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.

  62. lala10 says:

    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

  63. Manish says:

    Really good article after a long long time..

    A closer look at the 2008 Champions League final penalty shoot-out
    ..
    http://www.sportskeeda.com/2013/08/20/a-closer-look-at-the-2008-champions-league-final-penalty-shoot-out/

  64. TITO says:

    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.

  65. Humphrey Bogart says:

    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

  66. Miguel says:

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

  67. TITO says:

    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.

  68. EnzoBarca says:

    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

  69. ElJefe says:

    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.

    • Kxevin says:

      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.

    • Levon says:

      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.

    • barca96 says:

      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.

  70. Kxevin says:

    Looka those sprites go! This a video of us winning the ball back vs Levante:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsV8wncDeNw

    • Rami says:

      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.

  71. ooga aga says:

    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.

  72. nanoculé says:

    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?

  73. zashaw says:

    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.

  74. KEVINO17 says:

    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.

  75. fotobirajesh says:

    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 says:

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

      • fotobirajesh says:

        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.

      • nzm says:

        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.

  76. nia says:

    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.

  77. pr17 says:

    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

  78. Ultraculé says:

    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 says:

      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.

      • nzm says:

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

        • Ryan says:

          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 says:

        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 says:

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

  79. Kxevin says:

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

  80. @Wardhigleey says:

    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.

    • Kxevin says:

      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 says:

        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…..

  81. barca96 says:

    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!

    • Kxevin says:

      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.

  82. barca96 says:

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

  83. apanchippo says:

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

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