UEFA Champions League Group Stage Draw

The team has the day off today, and good thing too! Not only are they recovering from the kicking they took during yesterday’s Supercopa game (and possibly from the celebrations afterwards), but something extremely important is happening today that will demand their full attention, and ours!

Yes, that’s right. It’s time for the UEFA Champion’s League Group Stage Draw! So exciting! I’m all a-tingle! Today is the day we find out who our opponents will be in the group stage matches over the next several months. Will we avoid the Russians? Will we play AC Milan for the billionth time in a row? Will we have a journey to KlippKloppLand?

There is also the small matter of finding out who will be the recipient of the Giant Silver Torso Award, otherwise known as the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award. Will it be perennial favourite Lionel Messi or always-a-bridesmaid Cristiano Ronaldo? The smart money this year is on cheeky newcomer Frank Ribery. What do you think?

Here are the groups:

Group One:
Bayern Munich (GER)
FC Barcelona (ESP)
Chelsea (ENG)
Real Madrid (ESP)
Manchester United (ENG)
Arsenal (ENG)
Porto (POR)
Benfica (POR)

Group Two:
Atletico Madrid (ESP)
Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
AC Milan (ITA)
Schalke (GER)
Marseille (FRA)
CSKA Moskva (RUS)
Juventus (ITA)

Group Three:
Zenit (RUS)
Manchester City (ENG)
Ajax (NED)
Borussia Dortmund (GER)
Basel (SUI)
Olympiakos (GRE)
Galatasaray (TUR)
Bayer Leverkusen (GER)

Group Four:
Copenhagen (DEN)
Napoli (ITA)
Anderlecht (BEL)
Celtic (SCO)
Steaua (ROM)
Plzen (CZE)
Real Sociedad (ESP)
Austria Wien (AUT)

It’s all happening at 17:45 CET, details to be found here: UEFA.com.

By blitzen

Canadian, cule, corporate wage slave. Came late to the beautiful game, but fell under FCB's spell in 2006 and never looked back.


    1. Picking all the “weakest” teams? Where’s the fun in that?

      I would be quite happy with: Juventus (or Shakhtar), Ajax, and Celtic (we need our revenge!).

    2. We lost our coach in the middle of pre-season, His replacement was helping his wife do the laundry a month ago in Argentina, And his pre-season with us consisted of santos, Thailand and malaysia ALL SUPER STARS.
      So i don’t feel guilty for wishing the weakest group possible.

    3. The Bigger the Better. Beating strongest teams is our Redemption. There’s already lack of competition in Liga, CL is our last hope for exciting Fireworks. Tata knows his priorities. It’s gonna be so fun. Have some faith.

  1. We got Milan, Ajax, and Celtic.

    While I am horrified that we have to play AC Milan AGAIN, I am really happy about the other two. Fun times.

    1. That will be a very fun group to watch! Seems Milan is determined to be our next Arsenal: an informal obligation to play us year after year.

  2. Jim, I was going to congratulate you on Celtic qualifying in such an emotional manner. Now there’s another thing I would like to tell you.

    Try to find the match date for the away leg (for Barca) at Parkhead asap and beg your school principal to not have a parent teacher’s night on match day, AGAIN 🙂

    1. Spoke to him when I heard the draw today, Barca, and it turns out he’s a genuine Celtic fan and his family have six season tickets which are almost never used. He’s promised me first refusal on any spares for the Barca match ! Now all I need to check is the school calendar and I’m away.

      Seriously though if any of you can get tickets at the Barcelona end of things , that is one hell of a match to go to for the atmosphere. Good welcome from the Celtic fans as well. They appreciate good attacking football.

  3. The good:
    No russian winters and travelling to endure.
    It could have been worse
    No “parked bus” teams to battle.

    The bad:
    Milan(not so bad though..)

    It seems the groups(except group F maybe) seem relatively evenly matched compared to previous draws…

    1. No park the bus teams involved? Are you serious? What do you think Milan and Celtic will do? Play out in the open, when they know so well we suck at breaking teams down and suffer on the counters to boot?

  4. So apparently Barcelona and Ajax have never played an official game? Kind of amazing that. That’s something to look forward to (especially for Bojan!).

    Pretty sick of Milan at this point, but at least Super Mario and his pet pig are always entertaining.

  5. From @barcastuff:

    Zubizarreta (sports director): “Milan and Barça faced each other so many times that UEFA will include us in the exceptions for next draw.”

    If only this was true!

    1. No surprise. That usually goes to the player with the most European success. A treble is pretty hard to argue with in general, though.

    2. Voting Results:
      Ribbery 36 votes
      Messi 13 votes
      Cristiano 3 votes
      (Need verification on this)

  6. while i’m interested in the draw, i’ve already written off this competition for this season. we will not win the Champions League.

    1. Oh come on… That’s no fun.

      I’d still put us as the #2 or #3 seed going into the tourney.

    2. ha ha! way to be a fan. while i agree it’s good to not have unrealistic expectations, i thought taht part of being a fan is having HOPE. luckily i have enough for both of us, so we’re good.

    3. There’s really three teams that are above everyone else right now – Bayern. Madrid, and us. You know that nobody has repeated in the CL era so the odds are against Bayern. So if it’s not us, then you know what that means.

    4. uh we could get knocked out by Milan’s worst squad for 20 years; we were a pole’s width away from that last season. because we still don’t have a defence, which will become readily apparent as the season goes on.

      will we make the semis? maybe, if we get a good draw. but late on in the season, with virtually no defensive cover, we stand no chance of winning that competition.

    5. I am not disputing those facts.

      But then somebody else better step up and take care of Madrid…

  7. the word around the bar in seattle where i watched the 2nd leg yesterday, is “an ugly 0-0 match, but at least we’re getting out of there without any injuries, plus a cup.” emphasis on the no injuries. because the king THUG simeone turned his team into a bunch of THUGS and the reason the match was so ugly to watch was because of foul after foul… and that was not our fault, it was theirs. it was a disgrace to football. the way they kicked at our players legs whenever we tried to dribble. and then they complained. and the ref sucked.

    our team has a commitment to clean, attacking football. and eventually that will open you up to counter-chances. it’st the way it works, you cant have it fully both ways when your defense is pushed up past the midline. luckily VV came up HUGE.

    this a bit in response to folks in previous thread claiming atletico deserved to win. wanted to back up ciaran. because this was a moral victory as well, against THUGGERY.

  8. Ami the only one getting a sneaking suspicion that I’ll see a certain Fernando Torres wearing a Barca jersey over the weekend?
    He’s Sandro’s favourite player, well favourite spanish player anyhow and with this Etoo deal done Chelsea have to move on one of the others

    1. Highly unlikely:
      1) Torres is Abramovich’s pet striker
      2) Mourinho will not sell anyone we might want
      3) We need a CB more than a striker
      4) We have no need for striker that wastes so many sitters

      Now that Chel$ki have Eto’o, one of their strikers will likely get shipped out. I’d wager that someone will be Demba Ba.

  9. So apparently Kaka has come forward with his desire to leave Madrid; took him long enough. Considering the wages he’s on, I assume his agent is on the phone with PSG.

  10. Hilarious story of Mou being confronted about his head to head record against Pep (http://www.theguardian.com/football/2013/aug/29/jose-mourinho-pep-guardiola-super-cup):

    At the pre-match press duties at the Eden Arena, an agitated Mourinho, preparing for the Uefa Super Cup against Guardiola’s Bayern Munich, was confronted with memories of his fierce clashes with his rival’s former Barcelona side. Indeed, the first question on the eve of the game had set the tone by reminding him he had only won three times in 15 attempts against Guardiola while with Internazionale and Real Madrid.

    “Your statistics are wrong as a start,” he snapped back. “Very wrong, very wrong but I don’t want to discuss that because it’s not important. I’ll just say it’s wrong. Go there and see what happened with Inter in the Champions League semi-final. The league records in Spain, the Copa del Rey in Spain, the Super Cup in Spain. You are very, very wrong. You are wrong but it’s not important. It’s not me against him, it’s club against club That’s not important.”

    That prompted a spluttered apology from the inquisitor, who was brandishing Uefa’s statistical pack, which did, indeed, detail the 15 meetings between the managers, with Mourinho having won three times, Guardiola seven and five other matches drawn. The Portuguese, for his part, has not seen his side keep a clean sheet against a team coached by his adversary since their first meeting, a 0-0 draw between Inter and Barcelona in the Champions League group stage in 2009.

    “I just know that I won the Champions League semi-final with Inter [in 2010],” continued Mourinho, his mind ticking over and realisation dawning. “I won the Spanish Cup final in Valencia [2011]. I won the Super Cup in Spain [in 2012]. I was champion in Spain [in 2011-12]. I won the match of the title in Barcelona with Real Madrid. So, I don’t know … Maybe you are right and I am wrong but I don’t care. It’s not important for me.”

    1. I watched it on tv. It was hilarious. I can’t remember seeing him so agitated ever since he went back to Chelsea. I hope Bayer will beat them.

  11. It’s going to be strange seeing Eto’o in Chel$ki blue. I love Sammy but I don’t care much for his new team’s owner, manager, or captain.

    1. Didn’t he say once that he would never play for Chelsea? Oh well. I love Sammy, too. Still upset with Pep for dumping him to Internazionale.

  12. OT: It might sound ridiculous to ask this question at this juncture of the transfer window given the statements made by T. Martino during his press conferences regarding no need for CB, but…
    Are we really not buying a CB?
    Last season we were brutally exposed and counter arguments were made that “it was due to our lack of pressing and injuries to key players during the critical stages of the season”, which i can accept and appreciate.
    But, surely we cannot just pray and hope that the defense will be injury free this time around?
    Just imagine either of Pique & Mascherano or both missing due to injury or suspensions, that thought alone is scary…
    To think that Pique is the only recognized CB in the team.

    1. If we were going to buy one, we would have done so a long time ago.

      We generally don’t do last-minute purchases

  13. Milan,Celtic (dunno about Ajax), hmm… Alot of parked buses will be coming to town! Yea, we’ll be seeing lots of them this term

  14. Wow, if it’s not Arsenal it’s Milan! The away game should be a good test to see if we’ve improved from last year’s game.

    Anyways, did anyone else catch Deulofeu’s goal for Everton a few days back? Here’s hoping he scores plenty like that and comes back next year ready to them for us!


  15. Probably you are watching the super cup, but after Ramires’s tackle on Goetze, i was just reminded why i hate so much their coach.
    It’s absolutely his medicine, in which he is the best, taking out the worst of his players, and in top of that, complaining on decision.
    So so so glad that he is out of La Liga.

  16. Pep has really been wobbling, don’t think he should have gone to bayern. The team was already in good shape and there was nothing to fix. He’s failing under the pressure

  17. Watching the super cup and to me , it looks like Bayern are all of a sudden bad at defending. They were caught out at a counter and poor cover for the Hazard goal. Reminiscent of how Barca defends at times. Now that Chelsea are in front, they are going to park that bus and we all know that they do that very well. I don’t think this Bayern side is make for tiki taka. Hopefully, they can equalize coz, the last thing I want to see is Mou celebrating and Terry running on to collect a medal. This is going to be difficult for Pep coz he will always have Heynckes’s shadow to live up to. Just like how Benitez went to Inter after the Mou treble. The team had given everything the year before and was just a shell after that.

    I can’t stand Robben, that is all.

  18. So Bayern aren’t great against a parked bus either …

    Their golden year when they can do no wrong is over. Hard work from now on but still a good team.

    1. Bayern may find it difficult against buses but if I had to bet money on either Bayern or Us breaking an Airbus id favour them tbh.

      They are just such a dynamic team with depth and the diversity of skill sets in that squad is rediculous.

      Although the change to a 4-3-3 has made them less stable in defence.

      And Philip Lamn!
      You often see defenders playing multiple defensive positions but in Midfield? Class just class.

    2. Well, they weren’t great against 10 men tonight. Took a lucky bounce to keep them in it. Point I was making though is that we need to go easier on our team. RM are clueless against what we face every week and tonight Bayern weren’t much better.

      It’s a complete compliment to us that just about everybody figures they have to do that to have a chance.

    1. You know, I kinda found myself in the same position – which surprised me but when push came to shove I couldn’t support Bayern either.

    2. I was very ambivalent about rooting for either team in this match. I dislike both clubs and wanted both to lose today. To bad it was Lukaku who missed the deciding PK and not despicable John Terry … again.

    1. Probably moaned about the red card, how he always plays with ten men against Pep, how his team was better etc.
      Did he mentioned why he did not joined the squad to pick up HIS deserved medal?

    2. The dude is so obsessed with Guardiola. Basically went through every game he ever played against him, highlighting how he always played with 10 men, as if it had nothing to do with his dirty tactiscs and more to do with guardiola’s unicef/catalan/FIFA conspiracy

    3. He always was, is, and will be.

      Mommas don’t let your children grow up to be Mou Mous. He’s a disgrace to himself, his family, employer, the sport, and country. England will eventually see him for what he is, get sick of him, and never want him to return.

  19. I find it interesting the way the Spurs have behaved during this transfer season. They’ve used the as-yet unofficial money from the Bale transfer and signed Soldado, Capoue, Lamela, Paulinho, Eriksen, Chiriches, and Chadli; the last three very interesting prospects. Would it be blasphemous to suggest we do the same, viz. sell a couple of our stars and use the money for what I think is a much-needed rebuilding process?

    1. Levy & Baldini have shown a masterclass in how to conduct a summer transfer window (Stingy Wenger, not so much). It would be required reading at Football University.

      And, yes, it would be blasphemous and totally unnecessary.

    2. Why do you feel it would be unnecessary? Do you think we’d be able to stand up to Bayern and Real in our current state? I’m not being argumentative. Just curious.

    3. Yes. If we avoid injuries we’re still the best team in Europe. We still need CB upgrade or, at least, cover.

    4. It’s a rather large and looming ‘if’ though, don’t you think? All teams go through injury crises. Ours seem more desperate because we’re desperately short of personnel.
      We’re good to win the league, I’ll grant you that, but that’s more of an indictment of the primera division than a compliment to FCB.
      And I disagree. We are no longer the best team in Europe; haven’t been for quite some time. The best team in Europe is not humiliated 7-0 in the semifinals of the Champions League. It does not win only one of 6 knock-out games. It does not not defeat the second best team in its league and in the cup games. I daresay on the evidence so far we aren’t even worth top 4 in Europe. The sooner we accept that, the sooner we’ll move on, the sooner we’ll be back to our best.
      I would clear quite a few of the playing staff, like Alves, Pique, Pedro, and even Xavi, and start anew. The longer we wait the harder it will be to move on, and we’ll be stuck in the same situation that Milan was a few years ago (6/11th of its playing staff in 2012 had started the CL final in 2003).

    5. The latest odds I saw on the 2013/14 UCL had FCB joint shortest odds to win the competition at 4/1(along with Bayern Munich). Real Mad were third at 11/2.

      The 7-0 SF loss was not a fair indication of the relative strengths of the two teams involved. It was a skewed result because of injuries. Also, BM had the best season in the history of their club. Don’t expect the Bavarians to repeat it. They overperformed and played out of their skins.

    6. How are we “desperately short of personnel?” Find me another club in the world that can lose its two best CBs AND its best player, and not take a hiding.

      In defense, we have Alves, Alba, Montoya, Adriano, Pique, Puyol (soon), Mascherano, Bartra. We can also shuttle Bagnack back and forth for early Copa rounds, etc.

      In midfield, we have Busquets, Song, Xavi, Iniesta, Sergi Roberto, Dos Santos, Fabregas.

      In attack we have Messi, Sanchez, Pedro, Tello, Neymar.

      That’s a 20-player roster. Should it be 22? Sure. But the club wasn’t willing to, or couldn’t work deals for players of sufficient quality to make our club.

      So many cules are seeing gloom and doom where there is no justifiable reason. “What if …” What if you go outside to go to work and get hit by a bus? Are you not going to go to work because of that possibility? Nope.

      Last season was absurd in terms of injuries. If the same thing happens again this season, it moves from bad luck to a real problem. But for now, what say we let a club that has kept 3 clean sheets, won silver already and is unbeaten, get some time to develop before we worry about the end of the world?

    7. we’re desperately short of personnel because we have *2* trained center-backs, one of whom is 35 years old and injury-prone.

      we heard the same tedious bullcrap before last season too, how we had adequate defensive cover if you count Adriano, Busquets, Song and the kitman who could hop on and clear corners in a pinch; but we were undone towards the end of the season by injuries/suspensions/lack of competition for spots and never moreso than in the tie against Bayern where we lost, as i apparently need to remind you, by the largest European margin in our 114-year history, 7-0.

      our defense, the defense that shipped 7 goals in 2 games (when was the last time we could say that? 2007?), is unchanged and in fact even worse, as Puyol is now a year older and Busquets/Song have even less interest in/aptitude for playing in that back line. i told you at the beginning of last season that not adding defensive cover in the transfer window was a season-deciding terrible decision, and i’ll tell you that again at the end of this season. that needs to be acknowledged openly by fans, not papered over with cheap promises about Bartra and Bagnack magically becoming better players.

      as for being equipped in other parts of the pitch, well, our squad as you say has 20 players. but compared to other top teams who might be playing 60 games this season?

      Bayern: 24
      Real Madrid: 25
      Chelsea: 25
      Manchester United: 26
      Juventus: 25

      so don’t give people crap when they say our squad is light, because it is. we’ll look great at the beginning of the season, then taper off as injuries pile up. we all love the prospect of us pressing more? pressing more = more fatigue, more injuries, in the smallest squad amongst the major European teams. to NOT be concerned about that is, again, simply papering over some real problems with the team that should have been but weren’t addressed by the club management this summer. instead, we bought Neymar.

    8. Actually, BA, I am not giving anyone crap, though I am taking rather a lot of it verbally, as I always do when I express a contrary opinion. The party line seems to be that we’re doomed because we haven’t signed another CB. I don’t necessarily buy into it, and said so. How is that “giving people crap?”

      If people can’t express contrary views in this space, then why the hell is it here? You raise a point, we discuss it. Someone else raises a point, and we discuss. This damnable “You don’t hew to my worldview so you’re childish/giving people crap/etc, etc” has to stop. There are different opinions in this space. Express, discuss, but lay off the insults. Once and for all. Please.

      As for Neymar, he meets a real need that this club has, namely how to get goals and creativity from the left. Everything shouldn’t flow through Messi. It didn’t work last year, and won’t this year. Neymar’s purchase was as necessary as a CB, for me. Perhaps even more so, given the club’s view on attack vs defense. Messi needs help, and he wasn’t going to get it from Villa, Pedro or Tello.

    9. And who the hell do you plan on selling? XAVI? PIQUE? PUYOL?
      What the hell is with this xavi blame nowadays

  20. Didn’t want Chelsea to win, but Bayern now inching awfully close to a Sextuple. And that’s like, copyright us. I definitely do NOT want that to happen.

    1. Oh wait, just realized they’ve already dropped the DFB-Pokal cup. All is right with the world again, except for this quote:

      “Philipp Lahm is perhaps the most intelligent player I have ever trained in my career. He is at another level,” Guardiola told reporters.

      That… that’s not cool.

    2. I’ve said it before and will say it again: to hell with Pep Guardiola. He’s the enemy, defined as someone who has, and would do my beloved football club harm.

      — He had the muscle to pressure the board into buying a CB, and didn’t.

      — He left Vilanova a mentally and physically exhausted club, scuttling away to FC Hollywood.

      — Now he’s saying that Lahm is perhaps the most intelligent player he’s trained? No, I don’t expect him to lavish bouquets on Barça. They’re a potential enemy combatant, after all. But I doubt that Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, etc are stupid, or significantly less intelligent than Lahm.

      So yeah. I don’t get the fondness and adulation for Guardiola. He left this club voluntarily, because he didn’t want to be here. So get out. Personally, I’m done with folks like that. Thiago as well.

    3. Hear! Hear!

      Pep has left and has chosen to coach a club I loathe. I love Pep for all he’s done for Barça and wish him the best if he ever comes back to our club. But as for right now, at Bayern Munich, I wish him nothing but tortuous failure in Bavaria.

      Ditto Thiago.

    4. Oh please. Enough of this childish demonizing. Pep’s a just guy, so’s Thiago, so’s everybody else. The public utterances of a coach can only be taken in context.

    5. Oh, we’re being spanked again, are we? Gods forbid we should say nice things about a great coach and great human being that brought our club unprecedented success. What terrible cules we are.

    6. um he had the muscle to pressure the *last* board into buying him a cb *and* a striker which were sold out from under him by *this* board. gtfo.

    7. For me, a contrary opinion doesn’t mean a party line. The view on Guardiola is mine, and mine alone. As for people being spanked, far from it. But I have never shied away from speaking my opinion, and certainly won’t start with Guardiola.

      Further, I don’t believe Guardiola is being “demonized,” and I would refrain from labeling expressing an opinion “childish” when it doesn’t hew to accepted views. Not sure who the “childish” chide was aimed at, but my views on Guardiola are very clear.

      And Miguel, this current board is as prone to public pressure as any from a coach who had the power that Guardiola had. For whatever reason, he didn’t. So maybe we should BOTH GTFO, since we’re both apparently misguided.

    8. i never said that we weren’t both misguided, Kxevin. heh. it’s my view that from his very first day in office, rosell has done nothing but try and undercut guardiola’s power and laporta/cruyff’s influence over the club. and i think gurardiola was just done being in the middle of it all. he bled blaugrana. i don’t need to question whether guardiola did enough or not. he was just over it.

    9. More intelligent than Messi. That could be true. Just because Messi is the most skilled player doesn’t mean he’s the most intelligence and because Lahm is the most intelligent doesn’t mean he’s the best.

      What I don’t find cool is that he had to compare. I just find that a no no. Or perhaps the journalist is the one that asked Pep that question, “is Lahm more intelligent than Messi?”

    10. No, not more intelligent than Messi; Most intelligent he’s coached. He didn’t mention Barcelona but that means more than Busi, Xavi… Any of our players :/

    1. Haha thanks for sharing. While they’re at it, they should make a video of Ronaldo too.

      But I do notice that Messi is too sulky since last season. Too much complaining from him. When he’s fouled, and when he’s not given, he just sits and moans instead of getting up and join the attack to recover the ball.

      In the last match vs Atletico, he even kicked out at Felipe Luis as a revenge to an earlier foul by the by line when Luis came across Messi with his arm/elbow. It’s just not cool to me.

      I hate to see my team mates doing the same act (revenge tackles) and I most certainly hate it when professionals do it. So shameful. Pretty childish and reckless to me.

      Some people still see Messi when comparing with Ronaldo as the boy who just wants to get on with it, loves football so much but that has changed to me.

    2. good comment

      but imagine the weight on messi, plus everyone telling you you’re the best ever, seems that would mess with your head a bit. even the most well-adjusted.

      i have a feeling messi’s parents help keep his attitude a bit in check. he’s not that bad and frankly, he is always getting fouled. that would get mighty frustrating.

    3. Thanks. Do you agree to that he’s changed since last year or so? He used to just get up after a challenge or foul but nowadays more often that not, he would stay down and sulk. Worse is when it’s not even a foul..

    4. I think he got fed up of having lumps kicked out of him with no protection from the ref. At some point he has to defend himself and fight back. I think our team is too nice sometimes and whining to the ref after a bad challenge just make us look like big babies. I wish sometimes to have a Diego Costa or even a Yaya or Pepe (cringe) so as to intimidate other players when they get too rough.

    5. I think there has been a marked increase in people setting out to kick him deliberately this yea. He has out up with a lot already but I’m guessing his injuries recently are meaning that he is less willing to accept lumps getting kicked out of him than he was.

  21. kxvein,sometimes i don’t get how you see things,your opinions are rather up-hill or down-hill,We need signings,simple as that,the board is incapable of signing players from around europe,bartomeu’s words were ”four to five additions” to the squad,since then i’v seen only one,which is rather not too necessary to the present need of the squad which is sorely a centre-back,i keep saying this,if we risk a non-center-back-adventure into the season we’re gonna get beat,and disgraced again,most especially by EE who isn’t taking things smoothly in the transfer market,maybe then kxvein,you’ll know which board you’re gonna defend their actions.we just have to trust tata and hope he comes up with a plan B,our style has been studied and known,Bayern yesterday played our pattern against chelshit,yes they won but it almost slipped through their fingers,but an extra time won’t be available for us to finish the job,i loved it that mou lost in a bitter way too hahaha

    1. Well, Board tried to sign the players. Some clubs won’t sell at any price, some clubs scared us off with insane price tags, some players don’t feel like leaving their beloved club.
      If you want the board to sign any 4 or 5 players [just for the fun of it], I doubt they’ll better our backline. There are quite few defenders who stand taller than Masch & Pique in footballing sense.

    2. How do you get that I am defending the board? What I said is that we have great players, and it will be very difficult to find players to elevate that template and further, we have quality and quality depth at every part of the pitch.

      That is a statement of fact, rather than a defense of the board.

      My opinions are what they are. Don’t twist them, unless you know my views on this board and its president. You don’t.

      As for this mythical Plan B, it doesn’t exist. Not for any team. There is no reason that it should for ours. Great players do their thing, and it works, or not. Then you move on from there.

  22. Xavi and Alexis not included in the 19 man squad. Martino says that its because they’ve been playing a lot and need a rest for the international break.

    1. We are playing Xavi waaaaaay too many minutes so early in the season. I’m glad Tata made that call. Alexis, at his age, can handle the load. Anyways, hopefully we’ll get the full three points in Valencia.

  23. He’s not sidelined at all now, just got the medical green light and is in the squad for the game against Valencia.

  24. Sign Abidal!! He just offered himself to the club. And it would be nice to hear that the club recognizes a mistake, a big mistake. I think we will have problems with the backline because of injuries at the end of the season. If it is not now, maybe on December.

    1. Abidal: “I have to say Zubi treated me really well. If he still looks for a defender, I’m in good shape, maybe he can take a look (laughs)”

  25. rafinha with a goal for celta vigo has them up 1-0 vs granada. they are doing well so far with an away win against betis and a draw against espanyol. they could have 7 pts from 3 matches, very nice.

    fontas started, as did nolito.

  26. prince yuvi,the board tried less,they never really wanted to sign anyone,they were playing us,making us think they’re making effort,but they were NOT!,we really needed a centre back,thiago silva failed,they couldn’t cough out money and fix a costly problem in a team,and marqinhos was stolen right in front of their noses,while they would’ve paid for him ealier,and david luiz they never wanted to spend,they uneccessarily bought neymar for 57mil,then sold thiago 25mil and villa 5mil,total money spent 20mil,wtf is that!,and your ”spending money for fun” statement is pointless,we need back up,so i dont see any signing becoming fun,look at EE,they’ve got good depth,they wont worry about injury much

    1. Don’t forget that the Neymar deal is over three years.


      If we count 20M for Thiago (I think 5 went to taxes or so) and 2M for Villa (this year) they actually made 3M in net transfers this summer.

      Considering our needs and our aging squad (at key positions), the refusal to actually invest money this summer boggles the mind. They should have come out and said we were done after we got Neymar.

    2. I thought they held the transfer matters so that Martino analyzed his squad first and then proceed?

    3. Martino said in his presser that he doesn’t yet know the squad, and that a January transfer is a possibility, once he established what the club needs.

    4. There was a technical staff in place well before Martino arrived. They should have taken more control of matters to make sure our club has the best squad possible for this season as well as the ones after.

    5. It is clear that Martino has his own views on matters, as judged by his action to leave Xavi and Sanchez out of the squad for Valencia. I think he deserves time to implement them. If he fails and turns out to be crazy, we can discuss that then. But right now, it strikes me that he is being ridden for the simple sin of not knowing his squad, who can do what and how well.

      And make no mistake, that is HIS squad, in a way that makes it clear where the buck stops.

    6. But I think the board considered it a risk. Imagine, hypothetically, that the board moved for Agger and Martino comes in and says he’d rather have Mangala? I think no one expected Martino to say he doesn’t need a CB..!

    7. I’m not certain that I would ascribe those same motives to the board. Let’s look at who is out there, who could add real quality to our side:

      Thiago Silva: Not for sale at any price.
      Javi Martinez: See Thiago Silva
      Mangala: 45m buyout from Porto, assuming we don’t want to negotiate. Brilliant player, huge potential. But 45m? That’s why he isn’t moving, and won’t until his price gets sane.
      Mathieu: I’d rather use Bartra. Little more than a sub, if we were to have been purchased.
      Marquinhos: We got outbid by PSG, who overpaid. It happens.
      Agger: Doesn’t want to leave Liverpool.
      Luiz: For 50m+, sure Chelsea would have sold him to us. Is David Luiz worth 50m?
      Sakho: Liverpool is about to pick him up for less than 20m. Is he good enough for our club? Good question. I daresay if he were, he wouldn’t be having a problem getting playing time at PSG.

      So that’s who’s out there. Is it any wonder that the club didn’t buy anyone? Rosell and the board are, to my view, blockheads who worship at the altar of the marketing dollar. But they want to improve the club, if only to further their self-centered goals. Of course the club tried to buy a CB. It couldn’t. So now we have what we have, and we see what happens.

    8. 45M for Mangala? Considering that so far this summer we have made a net profit of a couple of million euros give or take, I’d say go for it.

      PSG outbid us? I don’t know that we ever tried to get Marquinhos.

      And if we’re not getting a central defender, than why haven’t we made a move for a keeper? Right now we can only assume that VV will leave next summer and we be forced to spend big on a keeper so that will leave us with less money for a central defender.

    9. I have a feeling we have a keeper waiting for next year. Don’t know who it is but …. I have a feeling !

    10. Just remember that Ter Stegen didn’t renew. I suspect he will be our new keeper, with some veteran type such as Reina joining him when Pinto leaves.

      The 45m for Mangala is what is intimidating many teams, not just ours. That is a LOT of money for a big bag of talent. We just did that (sort of) with Neymar, but I think that teams view defenders differently, for some reason. Certainly ours does. Have we ever splashed bigger for a defender than we did for Alves? Certainly not a CB that I can recall.

      With Marquinhos, I don’t know what to believe. There were the initial reports that he was ruled out because he was too short. Then we were tabling bids for the player. Dunno. I do know that PSG wouldn’t have come in so hard and fast had something not been going on. “Here. 35m. Send him.” No negotiation, no nothing. So all we have are gut feelings.

      And speaking of keepers, I still want to know what happened with Valdes. Whatever it was, it was ugly. Leaving on a free, when you have value can certainly be interpreted as an expression of scorn to the management of a club. So there is some stuff going on.

      Add to that Abidal’s comments, that explicitly singled out ZubiZa as having treated him well, and something is interesting there. You have to wonder if Rosell is a case of “guilt by exclusion.” In subsequent comments, Abidal also hinted at Rosell being the complexity.

    11. My understanding was that TS was a fruitless attempt from the start as PSG didn’t need to sell, didnt want to sell and took great delight in asserting their “new status” by showing that they could see Barca off. Not the board’s fault and probably not Tito’s either .

      Marquinhos was partly the same story. Once they were determined to show their financial muscle it was game over. You can’t go toe to toe with unlimited money and tbh I wouldn’t want us ever to be in that situation. There is at least some kind of morality and footballing justice in having to live to a budget.

  27. Barca really do have the worst fans in the world. You have the bandwagoners, the spoiled brats, and then you have fans who demonize a coach who has brought us many tears of joy. Unbelievable

    1. Nobody is being demonized, just as nobody is being deified. People ARE expressing a contrary view, and that is supposed to be okay in this space. That it doesn’t seem to be is what strikes me as “unbelievable.”

      Yes, Guardiola did great things for this club. Does that mean that we are supposed to ignore the things that he did that left it weakened when he left? I won’t. And my comment above should have been a valid point of discussion. In a better time and place for this space, it probably would have been. Now, it’s just “they’re demonizing Guardiola!”

      We can do better here. I know that we can. If you think that a viewpoint is wrong, explain why you believe so, and we can go from there. Otherwise, nothing constructive happens, and this space becomes a mere message board. I don’t think anyone wants that.

      As for the hyperbolic statement that “Barça really do have the worst fans in the world,” you can’t honestly believe that.

    2. Well, on this one, I have to say that I don’t agree with you about Pep. Yes, he left us voluntarily, but I also recall his tears when he announced his departure. I don’t think it was an easy move for him.

      Also, he did seem unwilling to continue under Rosell’s ‘reign’. If I remember well, it was on Rosell’s first year that he stripped Pep of his CB of choice by sending Chygrinsky back (Whether he was good enough for Barça is another matter). That was right after Cruyff, Pep’s mentor, was dismissed as honorary president. Let’s just say their relationship didn’t kick off in ideal conditions.

      As for the matter of leaving an exhausted squad, that’s true. You have to admit, he looked as exhausted as his squad though! That exhaustion came after an unprecendented run of success for us (and on international level!), I think it’s quite normal to drop the guard a bit after that.

      What I understand from what you say is that he could have left a ‘legacy’ by bringing in fresher players to continue with his successor. But he did bring in Cesc, Alexis, was grooming Thiago and Tello.

      I’m not saying Pep is a saint. Those Lahm comments don’t come across well. But did he really mean it as a way to mock our players? I honestly don’t know… He also said that Keita was the best human being he ever met. Surely, that doesn’t mean the others were bad people.

      Anyway, we do need to move on from Pep though. We have a new coach, I think/hope there’s more exciting times ahead of us, so let’s focus on that!

    3. To be fair, my granddaughter, aged one and a few months has learned that tears provoke a certain response. Having said that I think the comment about Lahm was what it was and not aimed at us because I am sure that Guardiola had a good relationship with the squad.

      With regard to exhaustion, I don’t personally buy that one. As has often been said before, if you think it’s tough at the top as a millionaire with the best (or at least nearly?) team in the world you should try the relegation zone !

      Extra thought …… Or teaching 🙂

    4. Thank you, I’ll keep in mind about that grand daughter thing! 😉

      I highly doubt his tears were not genuine, but that’s just my opinion of course.

      When you battle in the relegation zone, people kind of expect you to get relegated. But when you’re among the top, people expect you to be the top. It’s a whole another level of pressure. Ask Mou! As the saying goes, it’s hard to reach the top, even harder to stay there! Or something like that…

    5. Thanks for the “old school” reply, Sangoku. Your points are all excellent. I reckon that an exhausted squad is one trademark of a Bielsa acolyte (something to be aware of with our current coach).

      I think there is nuance. When Guardiola was first signed on, back in The Offside days, I was one of the “wait and sees,” rather than “Who? We’re doomed!” I celebrated, cried and appreciate every last little bit of delight that he brought to our club when he was coach. But he isn’t now. And if we face Bayern in Champions League, he will try to destroy us. Is he a Mourinho-level enemy? Nope. But he’s the enemy nonetheless.

      There were also things that I believe could have been done to leave the club in better shape …. resting players more, a purchase or two, more complete integration of a B teamer or two, instead of riding our Gala XI like a horse. The 88% of minutes played by Messi is, for me, a staggering statistic. And not only because we don’t NEED him to play that much, but he shouldn’t be playing that much. Breakage is inevitable.

      And I heartily concur with the “moving on” part of your comment. We have “Tata” Martino, who is settling in for what is going to be an interesting season.

      Speaking of, apparently in Catalan, “tata” is a housekeeper who also watches the kids. Ha! Makes MD’s “El Tata” ring with a bit more delight, for me.

    6. Yes I had some apprehension about that Bielsa connection. But Martino does seem to value rotation so far, he even brought on 3 youngsters yesterday (El Tata!) 😉

      I have been following BFB for a year or so and didn’t even know about The Offside. I sure wish I could have lurked around during those times too. So many good things I’ve heard about.

    7. Yeah, I have to say that struck me about the responses. There are two justifiable views on Guardiola and his departure and both deserve an airing, imo.

      It is also more fun visiting this place, seeing the different viewpoints and feeling free to express your own without turning up the next day to find , not aggressive, but certainly pejorative , comments. We are also, however, lucky enough to have a decent number of posters for whom English is not their first language and we maybe, myself certainly included here, need to appreciate that things can come over more strongly without the nuances of a native speaker.

      On my soap box and it’s only Sunday morning. Need another cappuccino 🙂

    8. I don’t know about that, Jim. I speak four languages myself, and I’m an ***hole in each and every one of them!

      All kidding aside, internet message boards are the perfect place to either involuntarily offend people or needlessly feel offended. Not judging anybody here, I am speaking from my own experience.

      And yes, sometimes people place derogatory comments. Ultimately it us up to all of us who come here everyday to discuss the club we love to decide how we want to deal with that.

    9. Agree with both of you, but the most important is to be able to express your view and not be attacked for it.

      I called Sangoku’s response “old school” because it’s what the space used to have a lot more of, a counter-argument to an expressed opinion. No name-calling, no scoffing, just “I disagree, and here’s why.” Man, we used to have some great discussions about so many things, because that was the basic tone: I respect your view, but I disagree, because ….

      I’m not sure if those days will ever come back, but I do want to get back to a point where I look forward to coming to this space with anticipation instead of dread.

      There is so much to discuss with this club, from rotation (Xavi and Sanchez out of the squad), to how can a “crap” defense have all these clean sheets early in this new season. Martino is working with Neymar to tone down the playacting and faux misery, pointing him to his idol as a guide …. so much to talk about. I think and hope that we can (we should be) able to do it without name-calling, or stranding folks on an island of derision because they have a different viewpoint.

  28. Promote sergi gomez ? Another talented youngster waiting in the ranks. Wonder what they’d think if we sign 30yr old Mathieu.
    I’m out of my depth here. EE don’t have certain tiki-taka playing style, so any over-priced talented player is okay with them [Debt -€590M]. We do need squad players in case of injuries, besides bartra nobody is there to save the day. IMO Lack of pressing was our foremost defensive woe, it’s being tackled so it’s not all bad.
    Neymar is a golden signing, our galactico, he shouldn’t be blamed for lack of cbs, come on. He made our attack crazier, just what we needed.
    Barca fans are passionate and tempers often flare but we sorely need to cool down & enjoy technically most gifted team around for a change. Peace.

    1. I don’t think Sergi Gomez is good enough for the first team. We would end up with another Fontas situation.

      I really really wish we had kept Muniesa.

  29. Sorry to say this, but If you are tired of supporting this beautiful team,why don’t you go support all the teams y’all been talking about. Just sick of whiners!!!! They even whine after a win

  30. – Why should we care about the UEFA super cup? Both Coaches did nothing to get their team to that point. It was more a celebration of the previous coaches IMO.

    – This round is crucial. Valencia away is one of those games where it is very easy to drop points. One little mistake and we end up with a draw or loss.

    – Very bold move from Tata to leave out Sanchez and Xavi for the away game against Valencia. But he has to start somewhere with regards to playing the likes of Tello, Song, Montoya etc. If we are to win tough games then our players have to be sharp. Missing crucial chances is not on an option against Valencia.

    – It makes sense that the staff are not rushing things with regards to signing a GK. It’s better we use this time to properly scout GK’s and keep an eye on the market to find the right player for a reasonable price. That was something we should have done when signing a CB, instead we ended up facing inflated prices for players who have barely started their career.

    1. Agreed on the Super cup except for the fact I was glued to the box , pretty sure I wanted Mou to lose but looking for weakness in Bayern. In the end happy that Guardiola put another one over on Mou but no more than that.

      With regard to the Xavi rest, this intrigues me. Is Tata going to go for Iniesta playing the Xavi role – I’m one of those who is sure he could but with his own stamp – or is he going to try a more vertical aggressive ( perhaps more mobile) midfield and play a different sort of game. Maybe not the place to go too wild on experimentation though. I’ll be curious to see our possession stats tonight, linked to the result.

    2. And the recently more vertical Busquets lends added fuel to that speculative fire. Neymar also certainly has to start, because of his ability to keep possession going. My speculative XI is:

      Alves Pique Mascherano Adriano
      Busquets Iniesta Fabregas
      Pedro Messi Neymar

      But I really like what Martino is doing. Not only not in the XI, not even on the roster. It’s almost like he has to remove the temptation of Xavi from his bag of tricks altogether, lest he weaken and call upon the Maestro yet again. Ha! And rotation of two key players in an away match, no less. If we win today, I will be even more impressed.

      As for Iniesta, I have long thought him to be the most natural successor for Xavi in the center. We saw how he might run the squad against Malaga at the end of last season. Same, but different. A bit more vertical. But you need, at that eye of the hurricane point, a player with that same kind of magical possession and vision as Xavi.

      Note that if Iniesta becomes the Xavi heir apparent, it makes the Neymar purchase make even more sense, as Iniesta is so often that left-sided can opener, who makes space where there isn’t any for our attack.

      Interesting times.

  31. So, what’s the story with Valencia and bats, eh? I’m too lazy to look it up on wiki.

  32. If I’m dredging up a dead thread, i apologize. My earlier comment about “demonizing” and “childish” was this:

    >Oh please. Enough of this childish demonizing. Pep’s a just guy, >so’s Thiago, so’s everybody else. The public utterances of a coach >can only be taken in context.

    and it was in response to:

    “I’ve said it before and will say it again: to hell with Pep Guardiola. He’s the enemy, defined as someone who has, and would do my beloved football club harm.”

    My mention of ‘the public utterances..’ was in reference to Pep praising Lahm.

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