Valencia 2 – Barça 3: Virtuoso Vertigo



The famous story of a man jumping off the roof of a skyscraper and no, he is not suicidal or anything, or at least not that he is aware of it. During the fall he says to himself, “So far all is well… all is well… all is well…”

And he only jumped because he was told to, really. One could easily make the argument that Mad Man Martino pushed Valdes, Dani Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba, Busquets, Cesc, Iniesta, Pedro, Messi and Neymar Jr. off of the ledge.

But that’s okay because all is well…

The Flea scored three. Was I alone in thinking that none of his goals were all that spectacular? That he could have doubled up on his first half hat-trick after the break? That he should have passed instead of shot or dribbled on one or two occasions? Then again, the fact that those thoughts even enter the mind just serves to underline how much we have gotten used to his greatness over the years.

All is well…

The Brain showed signs of waking out of his slumber – freefalling will do that to a man – and Octobusi flailed his tentacles in the air to swat the bats. The man formerly known as P! was his usual industrious and inaccurate self as he could be seen from robbing balls around his own sixteen to wasting bonafide scoring opportunities within the blink of an eye.

All is well…

Who said that Messi and Neymar couldn’t fly together? If Junior’s first assist to the Argentine’s third goal was sublime, the stylee backheel to set up our no. 10 for a potential second half match winner was mouthwatering. We haven’t seen a forward with that kind of magic in his feet since a big Bosnian Swede “graced” us with his presence. Unlike Ibrahimovic however, the young Brazilian has arrived with a humble attitude and he plays a position that does not upset the balance of our team. The sky is the limit for this kid. O Ney indeed.

All is well…

While Piqué and Smash mostly dealt with the fires our two Al’s left behind when screaming up and down the Mestalla, VV was a motherflippin’ rock that hurled F-bombs at any ball that came at him and probably a bit worse at the two that slipped by. When our goalkeeper is at the top of his game he is the best in the world and by the looks of things he is striving for immortality in his last season defending our colors.

All is well…

Just hand Cesc the keys to your car. It goes a hundred and forty you say? He’ll get it up to one sixty. And don’t worry about your airbags, he probably won’t crash it today. With two assists, Mr. Fábregas was hugely influential in securing a three goal lead after only thirty-nine minutes. Except that the lead was not all that secure, and eight minutes later we went into the dressing room with only one goal between us.

The second half was even more helter skelter than the first, only without the goals. We always looked like we could score, and we never felt safe. Messi, Pedro and Jordi Alba all had excellent opportunities at killing the game in our favor. Valencia was a post and a header away from equalizing. With Xavi Hernandez not called up, this is what we look like when we leave our parachute at home. Up in the air at breakneck speed with the wheels off the ground, Valencia was first overwhelmed and then decided they could hang.  They couldn’t, but could have, if that makes sense. It’s funny, because it kind of reminds me of another game in which Cesc ran the midfield, in which he played great and which pointed to a future without Xavi. Last season at the Riazor. We led that game 0-3 after twenty-five minutes or so before Deportivo de La Coruña turned it into a 4-5 nail biter.

Valencia’s goals came from weaknesses opponent coach’s grandmothers know about, attacking Jordi Alba’s flank and set pieces. For the latter I remain as skeptical towards the man-on-man as I was towards the zone defense.  You can’t coach length and that’s our whole problem to begin with. As for Jordi’s flank I am not even sure if he is to blame or if it is just a natural consequence of how our team is set up to play. As our tiki taka has started to come up short with the Boeing share of possession not always translating into chances, we have begun to slowly move away from our horizontal ways. The thing with verticality is though, it works both ways, as in for us and for our opponents. Just like how Neymar has to figure out when to make the individual action and when to pass the ball, this team must learn when to check or when to go all in. Without a doubt Martino has his work cut out for him…

The man jumped off of the building, because too often the stairs are blocked. All is well, and if he aims straight he’s gonna hit the net. If he doesn’t, it paints quite a different picture. We’re gonna cheer wildly when he hits the net, and be pretty depressed when he crashes on the concrete… Isn’t that what football is all about?

Visca Barça!

“Usually I suffer, but I enjoyed this game. It could have been 3-3 or    2-5, but I would have been satisfied no matter the result.”                               Gerardo Martino

By Levon

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


  1. Great piece, and thanks for keeping things going!

    Kxev – thanks for the previous reply. I love funiculars! Is mid April off season?

    As for the match, so far… I’m still enjoying the hell out of watching these guys play.

    1. make sure you know when easter week (semana santa) is….stuff gets very very busy that week. mid april is right on the cusp, getting into May you start having more tourists. you should be fine. but check and see when semana santa is.

    2. I’m a teacher, so my holiday break is over semana santa. I’ve heard most things are open, and hopefully I’ll get to see a procession or 2. Montserrat might be crazy though.

  2. Good one Levon. I couldn’t watch the match live but, watched it after knowing the result. Wasn’t as exciting watching the replay without the tension and nervousness I would have had having lived it live(don’t ask, I have trouble following what I just wrote too). It was a good game and most importantly, 3 points in the bag from a difficult stadium where we haven’t won in the last 5 visits.

    I did my daily rounds of post match blogs and most of the fans have been calling or Pique’s head. I personally thought he did ok bar that first goal for Valencia he seemed pretty solid for most part. Maybe I have to watch the match again. ‘Squirrel’ on the other hand, is who we should be lynching. Horrible defending, positioning, tracking back and ugly attitude to boot. Maybe Adriano should replace him for the time being or in the big matches until he gets with the program.

    Messi was awesome but, also VERY selfish. On two or three occasions he could have passed to Ney or Pedro who where in better positions to finish off but, he went for glory. Seems like he’s thinking of personal glory rather than the teams.

    Masche was a beast, deserves a raise. So was capita VV. Seems to have super powers every time he wears the armband. Ney was good too but, I think he needs to get more of the ball. Seems like they don’t pass it often enough to him. Pedro has had better days but, wasn’t bad at all and I just wish he’d shoot sometimes instead of looking for Messi all the time. Most part, the team was good yesterday and if it wasn’t the 5 mins when they were thinking about half time oranges and conceded those two goals, Barca would have ran away with this game. Midfield of Ini, Busi and Cesc was good, should see it more often(sorry Xavi). JDS wasn’t bad either. Made a crucial tackle right at the end.

    Hopefully we get to see more Tello, JDS, Bartra, Roberto and Monty soon. Add to that Cuenca and Ibi.

    Just like Moyes, I have a hard time believing that the first series of games where drawn like that. Really, Malaga, Valencia, Sevilla, Rayo, La Real in the first matches including ‘soft’ decoy teams like Levante and Almeria. I’m sure they’d have thrown in EE if they thought we were weaker than them. Whilst on the other hand EE face the likes of Elche, Villarreal, Getafe with the toughest opponent being ATM 7 weeks in. Their games are well spaced out for them, must be nice.

    Anyways shouldn’t moan about it as you should always play the best to be the best.

    1. For he goal it was nothing to do with Pique. Dani was marking the scorer and just didnt run with him. From my viewpoint he has so far cost us the Villa goal and also this one. not i pressed with him so far. not sure what Alba did wrong second half to get the general vitriol – maybe omebody could point out something?

      Having said that, now that we’ve moved over to man to man rather than zonal ( and the keepers prefer man to man btw) you have to ask what job Tata had asked Pique to do as he seemed to be defending a zone and not a man. I thought he played pretty well.

      With regard to Messi I think he will take it himself if he thinks that’s the best chance of a goal. Once he sees he can trust others I think he will be more content to pass. It’ll hopefully come

    2. From what I saw from the Valencia game we had a mixture of zonal and man to man marking on corners. Two men were free and played zonal (Piqué and Casper). The rest played man with Busi marking Rami in particular.

  3. I also forgot to add that, the Neymar goal was wrongfully called offside. That was legit and should have counted. Liga linesman, blind, ref, turns a blind eye. I think they have to have new eye tests or allow video replay. I think Ney has had two calls wrongfully ruled offside so far.

    1. i agree. he was kept on side not by the defender nearest him, but one further away. legitimate goal.

  4. Good one Levon. This season could be a real rollercoaster ride if we get injuries in certain positions. Not getting CB cover this window, possibly filling that need during the winter window, is a major risk. EE lost the league before Christmas last season, let us not forget.

    I don’t want to sound like a doomer because I’m actually rather optimistic about our team. Nevertheless, we are all gonna die … at some point.

    It’s true. Coentrao didn’t end up at ManUre after all. I thought I heard a bit on the radio that he ended up at Benfica (on loan?). I’m not sure if that’s true.

    And I’m still Cesc Flabergasted that EE offloaded Ozil and spent so much on Bale. They’ve got a gem in Isco though, those bastards. If there’s one thing EE can do well it’s burn money. Remember how much they shelled out for Kaka? Now he’s back off to Milan and is a shadow of his former self.

    1. s/b Cesc Flabbergasted

      Dropped the ball like Bale during his introduction ceremony. Duh!

    2. EE bought Kaka for €70m back in 2009 from AC Milan. He plays four years for them and is given back to AC Milan on a free transfer. You can’t make this stuff up. Football is the greatest soap opera.

    3. Well, at least they got four years out of him and it’s not their fault he was injured so much. Our Ibrahimovic deal that same summer was a lot worse because 1) his personality was very, very well-known 2) we gave up Sammy Eto’o and 3) he was still an extremely good player when we sold him for peanuts.

      Selling Özil makes sense, too. because you can’t play 10 midfielders (unless your name is Pep) and with Isco and Bale there they don’t really need him. He is a marvelous player, though.

    4. Agreed wrt Ibra.

      Bale, for me is a winger, and not a playmaking central MF. If EE played our system their two best options as the central AM would have been Isco and Ozil together (like our Iniesta and Xavi).

      Offloading Ozil was monumentally stupid and has made Wenger look like a wise man for the first time in about a decade.

  5. It beggars belief that we didn’t sign a centre half this summer. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that Piqué and Mascherano can play 60+ games without getting injured or tired this season then shall we..?

  6. Letting go of Ozil is worse than letting go Robben and Snjeider.

    I’m also surprised but happy that Ozil ended up at Arsenal. You’d figure a player of Ozil’s calibre would end up at a bigger club than Arsenal — a club that’s slid massively during the past half decade and has lost the gravitas it once had. I say this even though they are my favourite EPL club.

    1. speaks volumes for how teams view players that do not bag goals while occupying above the centre line. Ozil is a great creator and a fearsome player that can poke major holes into defences. Yet..

    2. I am really surprised that Man United didn’t even consider Özil. They’ve been looking for midfielders with creativity for years now and Özil is probably 2nd best after Iniesta. Isco will give these 2 a run for their money.

      Arsenal are stacked in midfield, they need to strengthen at the back like us and at the front. I wonder if last year’s La Liga will be the last trophy Özil would win in the near future. He rejected PSG.

      Oh well, hopefully we can sign Özil once he’s done with Arsenal. I’m already wishing that to happen with Isco too ever since he signed with EE.

    3. Both Moyes and Woodward aren’t looking fit for purpose at the moment. ManU fans are quite livid with their lack of transfer activity this summer, the loss at Liverpool, and they have a creative central MF (Kagawa) that they’re not even using at the moment. Free Shinji! Let him go back to BVB.

      Moyes doesn’t look like he knows how to drive a Ferrari. He’s too accustomed to driving Fords. ManU may not even make the top four this year under his stewardship. I can’t see him lasting long in the job.

    4. And since Ozil is at Arsenal now, yes, that Liga trophy will be the last one he sees for the duration of his five year Arsenal contract 😉

    5. Bit early to be writing Moyes off. He’s a top manager and especially used to getting the most out of the squad he has. Better to judge in a month’s time.

    6. Kagawa can do a lot of what Ozil can do, and they’re not even playing him, so I don’t think ManU were looking for that type of player. I know Kagawa and Ozil are very different, but their movement and creative ability can be similar.

  7. Lev-ON! comin’ correct with the first review of the year. and it didnt disappoint. kudos to you, good sir.

  8. Early days I know, but I want to know, am I the only Cule here thinking that Martino is very fortuante that he has the calibre of players at his disposal (in the attacking sense) to cover up his coaching and tactical nous so far? Maybe I just expect too much.

    Extremely early call, I know, and I genuinely hope I’m wrong, but, something about this guy at the helm doesn’t sit well with me. Given the calibre of the last say, 4-5 coaches…yes, even I’d take Rijkaard and Antic over him.

    I’m not sure why, call it a sense, and I’m sure the club knows what it is doing (well, we hope so….even with Rosell) – but, this guy is still just so unproven to me…I’m baffled we couldn’t get a higher calibre (at the time) manager to take on board probably the most demanding club level management role in world soccer.

    Hope I’m wrong.

    btw Cesc Fabulous = so happy to see him getting the kudos he deserves and putting in performances we all know he can do. Saving the team’s ass right now.

    1. this guy is still just so unproven to me…I’m baffled we couldn’t get a higher calibre (at the time) manager to take on board probably the most demanding club level management role in world soccer.

      Rijkaard, signed after relegating Sparta Rotterdam for the first time in their history, with no honors to his name. Guardiola, signed after one season as Barca B manager. Tito, signed after four years as an assistant coach. They did pretty okay I think.

      As for Martino’s tactics, not sure what you’re picking on but if you really want to know what he’s doing then read some of Kxevin’s excellent comments in the last couple of threads, or follow Euler on twitter. Martino’s not perfect, but he’s gone a long way towards correcting a lot of the problems from last season.

    2. Another way to look at this..
      Is it just coincidental that many of our under performers are picking up speed under Martino? Im looking at Cesc, Alexis and to an extend Masche.

      Tata Martino has more credible coaching experience than our last 3 managers:) One thing i really like about him is his boldness and command over the press. I don’t think he is the kind who says things for the sake of being politically correct.

    3. If I may, playing devils advocate:
      Cesc- finally somewhat injury free and getting more regular minutes in a role he shouldve had last season with more emphasis on being the maestro
      Alexis- head on chopping block from many critics, has an offseason to shake away his lack of confidence and wants to do all he can to stay at club (fear of god?)
      Mash: playing well now he is basically a certain starter and knows his place in the side better than ever before.

      How much of that is Martino, and or how much of it is just new season enthusiasm/staff change/prove a point factor?

    4. I dont use twitter but Ill take a look at Euler for the tweets.

      I hope Im wrong on Martino, I really do. Jury still out; Ill give him that. Bah, maybe I expect too much from this wonderful club!

    5. Cesc Fabulous? That is lovely, in the season preview I wrote that we didn’t have a nickname for him and there you go. Provided he starts living up to it on a regular basis, would you mind if I used it?

    6. Wait …. WUT??!!

      A month ago, Martino was folding laundry in Argentina. Today, he is coaching the best football club in the world, learning the players, etc. What, a man doesn’t get a break any more?

      Others have noted Rijkaard and Guardiola, but particularly Guardiola. The “caliber” of our last 4-5 coaches when they started with the club wasn’t much, with the exception of caretaker Antic.

      Rijkaard came out of nowhere. Rexach, like Guardiola, came from roots in the club. So I confess to not understanding this “caliber” notion. Martino has more big-time coaching experience than Guardiola had. I think of it this way:

      There are many law firms where the partners came from local or state colleges. They become partners and suddenly want to hire only Harvard or Notre Dame law school graduates, completely forgetting their roots and that lawyers from small schools also make excellent lawyers.

      Martino is making so many positive changes in this club, that all I can do is applaud. From reintegration of the press, to the combo of man and zonal marking. And for a defense that is allegedly a disaster, he has whipped it into shape fairly quickly.

      The lines between attack, defense and midfield are shorter, enhancing the effectiveness of the press. He has converted Sanchez to his Chile role, freeing his mind, feet and seemingly, abilities. He has Messi understanding rotation. He is resting key players early in the season, and looks to be well on his way to integrating Neymar into the offense. His squad has already won a trophy, and has full points from every match in the Liga so far.

      He is also making demands of players that probably aren’t sitting well with them, such as Iniesta and Messi. Iniesta in particular has to become more effective at defense. Same for Messi. I have faith it will happen, because Martino knows what he wants. Valdes has cut down on the long balls, and Alba is playing a more conservative role.

      I confess to not fully understanding what more the man could do, four matches into his tenure. He is doing better than I expected. Guardiola, if you will recall, started with a loss and a draw before things got rolling. This club is doing better than that, in the aftermath of an absurd pre-season which leaves it ill-prepared to go to battle.

      I’d love to hear more about this feeling that you have.

    7. I guess the thing that doesn’t sit well with me the most is Martino has his credentials based on leagues and a stint with Paraguay that many would deem not ‘up to quality’ of European pedigree or expertise.

      I’m happy to be proven wrong. He has come in and shaken things up; in the way Pep has that I do believe the players have needed (and so far) responded to. It’s early days, and the jury is out, so I’m just voicing my concern.

      Whipped the defence into shape? we’ve been lucky Valdes has been on top form and saved blushes against Valencia and Athleti.

      While he may be forcing key players to do things they may not want to (or have to) do; does that make it right? should Messi be rested already? is Xavi so not ‘match fit’ he has to sit 3 games into a season?

      Anyway, jury out. Hopefully he proves me wrong!

  9. So let’s see what I’ve missed..

    – Messi scored 3 last game? (nice. no surprise)

    – CL groups. How come ManUtd consistently get a ridiculously easy group year after year? I don’t get it. Sort of happy with our group even if I have had enough of Milan. Would like to avenge Celtic loss though.

    – Bale signs for EE (no surprise there)
    – EE sells Ozil (WTF!)
    – Arsenal spend almost 50M Euros (What!)
    – Barca signs no one (no surprise) Wait no, We are signing Puyol. ok.
    – Isco is the real deal (but Some of us knew that). So what if we sold Thiago and promoted S. Roberto and JDS.
    – Kaka returns to the club he left 4 years ago. Literally nothing to show for the time he has spent in between. Thats what RM does to your career.
    – Happy with what I’ve seen of Neymar so far.
    – Mascha please dont go. Valdes, please dont go.
    – How stupid are we looking right now to have let go of Abidal?
    – Hope we are not punished for our utter stupidity and lady luck smiles on us this year.

    1. Your last two statements are exactly what cheeses me off about the whole CB situation.
      Given the slight but glaring evidence against A. Madrid and Valencia so far (thanks only to Valdes), we might not even have to wait for the big boys in Europe to embarrass us, the embarrassment might actually come from within the league.
      I find the statement “We don’t need another CB because i’m counting on Puyol” by T. Martino to be utterly irresponsible. For those that have followed Puyol’s career, you know that the guy will give 110% of every minute in a game which at this stage of his career increases the likelihood that he’ll break himself again within two games, and then what?
      The CB situation really frustrates me, but then again i’m not a qualified coach so what do i know!

    2. You can’t say that you are not qualified enough to judge somebody right after you harshly ,prematurely just did.

    3. It doesn’t change the fact that the club is taking a huge gamble with the it’s CB stance.
      Be that as it may, every statement or comment made by anyone at this stage has to be premature, we will all know half-way through the season what the effect of such a decision will be. Until then, everyone is free make their own observation, right or wrong.
      By the way, “i’m not a qualified coach so what do i know” was meant as a cheeky closing statement.

    4. It’s baffling. A new coach has all the power in the world to sign whoever he wants, and Martino refused to ask for any new players. I think people are underestimating how weird this is. Rarely ever happens.

    5. Well, besides Puyol, Bartra, and Bagnack, we have the following to play CB:
      – Adriano
      – Busquets
      – Song

    6. What is wrong with Martino wanting to get to know a squad before deciding what, if any, additions need to be made? Recall that he has said the January window will be an option if the club needs to acquire players. But let’s look at this whole CB business.

      For those of you who have followed the full transfer window, not just our (in)activity, you see a decided trend: Pay up or get lost. There isn’t much negotiation or bargains, and up front money is all the rage. Oil money? Perhaps. Teams having a last fling before FFP really kicks in? Maybe.

      But in that environment, with a new coach running the show, it would be as easy to pull the trigger on a CB just to buy one, than to show the courage and circumspection to wait, until he knows exactly what kinds of players he needs for his system.

      This is a coach who is 4-0 in the Liga, won the SuperCopa and still is in “trouble” because he decided not to buy a CB? Again, it’s worth spelling out what happened:

      In a presser this morning, Zubizarreta said that the club pulled out all the stops to try to get Thiago Silva when he was on the market, but he chose PSG. Why? Money. Duh. This year, he simply wasn’t for sale.

      Next? David Luiz. Sure was for sale, for 50+m. Chelsea said if you’re stupid enough to pay it, come get him. We weren’t. Is there anyone here who could have countenanced paying 52m for David Luiz?

      Daniel Agger? Didn’t want to leave Liverpool.

      Vertongen? There was a reason we didn’t pick him up when he was offered to us.

      Mangala? 45m for a prospect, in essence. Is anyone up for that. Yes, I would do it if I were ZubiZa, but then I would probably be overruled and laughed at by the board, and I would be right where ZubiZa is right now, looking at a club with the best players in the world at mahy positions, wondering who is good enough to improve that template. There are players who are good enough, but they are either not for sale, or very expensive.

      That is life at the top. It’s easy for Spurs to have a great transfer window. They got that massive infusion of Bale cash, and really weren’t a great football team. Lots of players could improve them. That isn’t the situation for us. We are a mature, brilliant football club that must buy intelligently to stay at the top. People act like CBs good enough, with the right profile to play in our back line are sitting on street corners with 10m price tags on their heads. Nope.

      Some are calling ZubiZa incompentent, bad, etc, etc, and Martino is right up there for not buying a CB. But ZubiZa makes recommendations, which still must be approved by the board before the money is freed up. He knows this squad better than any of us, and he knows it will take one hell of a player to improve upon it. We bought Neymar. That is the kind of quality that will definitely improve our club.

      Sometimes, the most intelligent purchase is no purchase.

    7. Correct. I pointed out a couple of times too that the sporting director is not to be blamed 100% in transfer matters.

      The coaching staff is the one that gives a list of players to Zubi and then he’ll try to get them. But if the coaches give an unreasonable task like Silva or Luiz, it’s doomed to fail. The coaches should’ve given a plan B or basically a player that is easier to get.

    8. Hmmmmm

      Okay. I’ll be brief … or I’ll try to do so.

      I don’t buy the new coach argument you posed. Look at Man City. They have a new coach but they brought in five top quality signings during the window. They have a Football Director (previously with FCB) that is responsible for bringing in new signings regardless of the coaching situation. That is the continental model and it exists at FCB too.

      Vertonghen is certainly a good fit for us and was last year when he was cheaper. He was captain of Ajax which play the same system 4-3-3. He’s a left footed CB and can play LB very well also. He has decent pace for a CB, is intelligent, is a leader, and is technically gifted. He was also selected for the EPL best XI by some expert pundits. He’s still affordable for our club as we speak. That was a massive dropped ball. Not even Barça’s technical staff can tell me he isn’t good enough for us.

      Liverpool just picked up Sakho for a sniff. He would have provided decent CB cover. Granted he would not have improved our best XI but Vertonghen surely would.

      The arguments you are presenting for our club’s unforgiveable and longstanding intransigence over not signing a CB are unacceptable and inexcusable. This line of reasoning smacks of Arsène Wenger: ‘We look at players 24 hours a day. It is not easy bringing players into our team. We are only looking for top, top, top, top quality players — super quality players’. Yada yada yada ya 🙄

      I’m sick and tired of excuses. We have the money to at the very least bring in CB cover. We all know the weakest link in our squad. Puyol isn’t getting any younger. We should try to be the best that we can be. That’s all I ask. Can you honestly say that we are trying to do that considering its going on three years that we haven’t brought in a proper CB signing? It would be a travesty if management didn’t support the greatest Barça ever by going ‘Wenger’ with respect to its inability to bring in a proper world class CB. Why risk the best Barça ever’s legacy by being CB frugal?

      I’m paraphrasing Yoda here: Trying is for losers. Winners do not try. Winners do.

      I wish our management found their inner Yoda during the recently closed summer transfer window. Sadly, they did not.

    9. But we already have CB cover in the likes of Bartra. Why spend money and salary space for it and if we do, what of Bartra?

      Man City isn’t at our level, and they have a different philosophy, one that I daresay is biting them in the butt, based on their Prem season so far. It’s what happens when you say to a coach, “Here are your players,” rather than “What players would you like?”

      Two different Barça coaches passed on Vertonghen. I can’t help but wonder why. Again, we’re looking at an improvement in the first team, rather than spending money to buy cover that we already have.

      This doesn’t even get into the Barça way of playing, where a quality DM can do perfectly well as a CB in that system. Witness Mascherano. Heck, even Adriano didn’t to badly as a CB, right?

      We tried and tried to buy Thiago Silva, and couldn’t outbid PSG. Silva would have improved the back line. Luiz would have improved the back line. But not for sale, and expensive. So the next step is to buy cover. But based on how the club plays and, frankly, how it views CBs, it’s fairly easy for me to see why the club wouldn’t splash for cover, when it can throw one of the versatile defenders in there if necessary.

      Is it the best option? No. But if you are going to spend, why not spend for real improvement?

      As far as Wenger, he has plenty of time to talk. He hasn’t exactly been busy polishing trophies lately. This club has won trophy after trophy. The CL final featured Puyol at RB, Pique, Toure Yaya and Sylvinho as the back line. And we kept a clean sheet against one of the strongest United sides in a while, because we attacked but more importantly, DEFENDED with 11.

      I see your point, and I hope that you see mine, or at least my approximation of my notions of the situation that the club’s sporting staff is in.

    10. I am not sure we actually have the money to buy a CB at such prices. The Neymar payment may be spread over 3 years, but 50M for a CB we don’t really have. Madrid spent 160M this summer but they also for 120M, they have 30-40M higher revenue than us and they have a lower wage bill.

      We cannot really compete with Madird, City or PSG on the transfer market. We only got Neymar because he wanted to play for us, otherwise he would have gone to Madrid.

      This severely limits our options, as the Thiago Silva story clearly shows – we would not be having this conversation if we had the money to outbid PSG last year.

  10. Bartomeu (vice president): “Villa asked to join Atletico. Besides fee and first options, we have 50% on possible sale in the future.”

    I thought Atletico president said that there was no 1st option on Oliver Torres. Now it seems that there is more than 1 player involved. I wonder who it is and I hope that little Oliver is indeed 1 of them.

    1. Thats actually from today (barcastuff): “Atletico players Barcelona have first option on are right back Manquilla and midfielder Saul”

  11. Some quotes from Zubi’s press conference via @LeeRoden89:

    Zubi: “Sergi Roberto is also a signing” …

    Zubi: “There were 24 hours left before the market shut and Puyol began to train yesterday. That’s the signing”.

    Dear Lord.

    1. There were a lot of other things that Zubizarreta said that indicated the difficulty of the club making an acquisition in this window. I always ask people who they would buy and why, and nobody has a valid answer. There wasn’t a CB available to the club that could improve the back line, so what is he supposed to do? Pull up in a black wagon, throw a sack over Thiago Silva and carry him off?

      Please, someone help me understand what this club was supposed to do, faced with the market conditions and player availability that I outlined a few comments above this one. Because I am struggling with it.

    2. I think you already answered your own question in one of the previous threads, and one that I fully agree with. Dish out the money for Mangala. Alternatively they could have made a push for Marquinhos.

      We have the money.

      Neymar costs us 17M for this year’s installment. We received around 20M for Thiago, 2M for Villa and 8M for Ibrahimovic (third installment).

      Meaning that we actually made more than 10M this summer.

      Regardless of what Marquinhos and Mangala are “worth” we should look at what it costs us to not buy a player for the position we need to cover for the third straight summer.

      Another thing that the club was supposed to do was hang on to Eric Abidal, a Barça icon who is now playing his heart out for AS Monaco instead of relegating Jordi Alba to the bench.

    3. True, but the board isn’t going to approve of 45m for a project, right? Not when by the time he is fully ready, Ie and Bagnack are also ready to roll into the first team.

    4. Agree with most of what you said.

      Even if we had kept Abidal he would have been CB cover. I know a lot of people here are anti-Alba but Abidal, at his age, wasn’t ever going to bench Alba. For that to happen Jordi would have to be playing nightmares for consecutive months. Alba’s the NT LB and our LB for the next half decade. People should start getting used to it.

      Abidal, had he stayed and god love him, was only ever going to be CB and LB cover. Nothing more. That being said, we should have kept Abidal, for footballing reasons at the very least, and we’d have the CB cover that would lessen my current stress.

    5. I’m with Kxevin on this one. PSG were making a point to us with Marquinhos. We weren’t winning that one. Don’t know enough about Mangala but can’t be worth silly money just to take a chance. I’m heartened by Zubi’s mention of Puyol. I was half dreading the trying but never getting back scenario but Zubi wouldn’t have pinned public hopes on it unless there is a genuine prospect of him coming back.

    6. Continuing from the thread above, I do agree with you that we were never going to get Thiago Silva or David Luiz this summer. Their clubs were not willing to sell at any price.

      We could have pursued Marquinhos harder and we did not. We could have paid the release clause for Mangala and we did not. You already know what I think of Vertonghen so I won’t get into that again.

      Don’t we have a world wide scouting network? Last year Bayern got Dante for peanuts. Dante certainly would have proved our backline. The point is that there are more CBs out there like that. Guys that we are going to say a year from now, “Why the f*ck didn’t we get him when he was cheap”? That’s what a proper world wide scouting department is for.

      And this line the club spews that it is difficult to find a CB to fit our system I’m not buying either. True, it may be difficult but it’s doable. It’s not like La Masia is churning out high quality CBs … ever. Exceptions like Puyol and Piqué are not the rule. They are the exception.

    7. The board did not even try to sign Marquinhos.

      Did they really think that they had a chance in getting Luiz or Silva? Marquinhos doesn’t even cost anything near to Mangala’s buy out clause.

      Is the CB position at Barcelona that special that only a 2 players were considered? Silva and Luiz are not the only ones who fit the bill to me. It doesn’t always have to be superstars. We can sign rough diamonds like Marquinhos or even that Argentinian player we were linked to briefly.

      Or even Inigo Martinez. He looks more of a complete package than Bartra to me. Or Sakho who looked good last season in the matches that I’ve seen him play.

      Rosell, I’d gladly take up the scouting position with minimum wage and present the the coaching staff with many options.

      @ Roberto
      Vertonghen does look good and he’s left footed and he played for Ajax. I still do think that we had a chance to sign him this summer although I would’ve preferred Marquinhos.

      @ the person advocating Adel Rami for the past few weeks.

      I haven’t watched the Valencia match, how did he fare? I never really noticed him.

    8. All true, but the board is never going to pay 40+ for Mangala. Not with Bagnack and Ie in the system and so close to being ready.

      Marquinhos is an interesting question. The first reports were that he wasn’t on our list, then suddenly we had a bid in, maybe, though unofficial. But PSG came in hard and fast, so something was up. Once Silva said he prefers his back line mates speak Portuguese, I reckon that was that.

      I still think the way the club views CBs has something to do with it.

      P.S. EXCELLENT discussion. Thank you!

    9. How come there are no reply button sometimes below a comment?

      I would love to see Ie and Bagnack in activities for Copa matches. But didn’t Ie had a hard time getting playing time last season for the B team? Haven’t followed the B team at all this season though so I’m not sure how he’s doing now.

  12. Agree with Roberto that Alba will be our long term LB so we juga have to get used to it.

    What Tata should do now is make sure Montoya feels wanted. Alves will eventually leave and Montoya is the perfect player to replace Alves and give the defense the balance that they used to have and now need.

    There are no better options to replace Alba now but it is possible to phase Alves out and integrate Montoya. Of course not replace, but play Montoya more.

    However Montoya has now stalled contract renewal talks which is totally understandable as he can’t even get into the match squad. It would suck to lose him too after Thiago.

  13. Kxevin,

    I see your point and line of reasoning and I feel that way in my most optimistic moments (i.e. Adriano will do fine lining up at CB against EE and BM — but when there’s a set piece against us I hide behind the couch). However, you’re doing your best to support our Football Director and our perplexing refusal to bring in a CB. A future in Barça mgmt may beckon.

    I’m not as confident in Bartra as you are. He didn’t exude confidence when we truly needed him last season. I may be harsh but it’s the truth. The coaches didn’t have confidence in him and neither did I. He lacked a proper positional sense, was indecisive, lacked confidence, and generally lightweight. He may turn out to be another Fontas.

    Don’t write off Man City so easily. They’re improving every year and will pass the UCL group stages and probably at least the QFs in the UCL now that they have a proper manager. A manager that probably would be ours at this moment had Tito’s relapse been discovered a few months earlier. Their manager gives his input into targets, as do we. Tata not asking for a CB is a mystery. I’ll guess it’s his South American machismo and bravado. Who knows?

    As for our supposed CB cover, do you not recollect what happened to our CB cover last season? True we had an Armageddon of injuries but we haven’t brought in even one more defender during the summer. Have we not learned from last season? We all saw it. We can’t say it didn’t happen. We also can’t be certain that it won’t happen again. Even bringing in just one CB cover would have improved our outlook precipitously. I doubt Tata knows who Vertonghen is at the moment. I seriously do. I’m not joking. Tito was fixated with Thiago Silva and no one else. That’s a shame.

    I agree with you on Wenger. All the Arsenal fans that still believe in him are going gaga over getting Ozil. They’re acting like I would had we brought in a world class CB — water under the bridge now.

    The backline we had in the 2009 UCL Final was defensively superior to what we have now. Yaya is an exceptionally dynamic and versatile player that can play CB better than both Mascherano and Song and provided aerial security lacking from our current converted DM/CB. True, defending as a team is the key point but when that breaks down, and at set pieces, we need stronger individual defenders — especially at CB.

    I’m not intending to be argumentative. We definitely see the CB issue differently. Such is life.

    1. Agree 100% with your statement that our external scouting network sucks. We’ve only splashed cash on big marquee signings recently. Oh there’ve been quite a few signings into Barca B during this time, but I don’t think ANY of those players have played for the first team. Nothing like getting good first team cover with decent potential, like Ozil from Werder Bremen for 10m, or Dante for 4.7m as noted above.

      I think Martino came to the managerial position too late to scout and woo and sign an established CB with the right profile and price etc etc (Kxevin details why above). The answer was really Thiago Silva last year: with no faffing about, just straight up pay the transfer fees and his exorbitant annual salary.

      Either that, or find a good young cheap CB with potential. Use the damn scouts!

    2. Yep. But for the record, I am not really supporting our board/sporting staff as much as trying to suss out the logic of their position in a way that makes sense to me. Because for people who know so much about the game and the team to do something so apparently illogical, there has to be a reason.

      My personal view is that there are CBs out there. As I have said before, I would have just paid up for Mangala, and picked up some inexpensive veteran cover, just in case. But Rami more than Mathieu.

      Regarding the injury blizzard from last year, I just don’t think you can account for aberrations such as that. Going by that, we would need to buy three CBs, right? At one point Pique, Mascherano and Puyol were knocked.

      Martino is, by all accounts, a football fiend, as was Guardiola. If he doesn’t know directly who Vergonghen is, I’d wager he knows of him. I think he deserves a full chance.

      As for Vilanova’s fixation with Silva, all we know is what we saw in the wildly inaccurate press. I can believe that Vilanova identified Silva as a player who could improve the side, that rarity in a collection of talent such as ours.

      As for Bartra, I don’t know that I have the confidence in him that you suggest. But I am saying that if all we want is cover, he’s been raised in the system, and does well enough at playing the game the way that a Barça CB is supposed to play it.

      I think that last qualifier is some of the complexity. People expect Barça CBs to play like United or Chelsea CBs. But those are a more traditional model. Recall the crack about Luiz running around like he was being controlled by a kid with a PlayStation controller. I watched that match. He wasn’t roaming any more, and a bit less, than Pique usually does.

      Personally, we agree. The club should purchase a CB (two, I think). Philosophically, you disagree with my attempts at trying to sound out why the club didn’t buy one.

      Hope that’s clearer.

      — To the point that our external scouting network sucks, I disagree. The scouts are looking for players for the B team. They aren’t scouting players for the first team, really, because there is an established progressing to moving from B to A, unless you are an established player. And by the time you are an established player capable of playing for our first team, you have sufficient quality where you aren’t a secret, and will be priced accordingly.

    3. All well and good except one thing. Our scouting network is letting us down. If a club as big as Bayern Munich can scout properly within its own domestic league and get a CB of the calibre of Dante for a relatively minuscule sum it proves we are definitely doing something that part of operations at a substandard level. Bayern does that kind of thing on a consistent basis. We don’t. We buy high and sell for very low. Our transfer business dealings are generally not to be envied.

      That’s the way I see it.

  14. What’s it say about Thiago Silva going from AC Milan to PSG last year anyway? It’s not like the guy is hard up for cash. His family is set for life. He chooses PSG over ending up a legend at Barça? What’s that speak for the man’s ambition? He’s in his late twenties and that was his time to move to a proper historic big club. And he blew it. And for what? A few extra million that’s superfluous from his perspective? If Brasil doesn’t win next year’s WC he’ll probably be forgotten within half a decade by most. Had he come to FCB and won a couple UCLs he would be immortalized by the average football neutral. What’s that say about many modern footballers? I say, not much. Sad really. Very sad. Now I’ve gone and depressed myself 🙁

    1. I didn’t mean it that way. He was set to leave Milan because the owner wanted to reduce costs & balance the books. The decision for him to stay at Milan was not available.

    2. To be a a legend you don’t have to move to a legendary club. Maradona became a greater Legend(i don’t know whether such a phrase exist) after moving away from Barcelona(or shipped out of Barcelona).

    3. True. But I’m speaking in general terms not exceptions. And Diego’s legend was largely because of the 1986 WC which I addressed above (the WC is a shiny international trophy everyone pays attention to).

    4. Not so sure he’s set for life – he only became a superstar in his late twenties, before that he was moving around between second-tier clubs in Europe and in Brazil, (he also spent a lot of time injured).

      His first seriously big contract was with Milan, and the next one would have been his last one. I can understand the decision.

    5. A comparable financial package would have been his at FCB, more trophies, and greater exposure.

    6. Perhaps he’ll win everything with PSG and Brazil in the next years…
      And he’ll be memorized as the bold guy who joined the new coming team in stead of going for the “save bet”…

    7. PSG were very inconsistent last year especially domestically — they still are this year. They did play well against us though.

    8. Or he’ll be remembered as the guy who jumped for the big money with a club run by Middle East petro dollars, took the easy way out, and lacked real football ambition.

    9. He did say that he give his word to Leonardo to move to PSG before we entered into the frame. It was not about the money.

    10. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about professional athletes: when they say it isn’t about the money … it’s the exact opposite. It’s about the money. Call me cynical.

    11. Thiago Silva is widely considered the best CB in the world, though I don’t really agree with that blanket assessment. He was that way before he went to PSG, and is still that way. I daresay that playing for PSG, who is now a player on the world stage, has done nothing to harm his legend.

      I rather like that he is a player of integrity, who gave his word and is sticking to it. Impressive. Look at Willian by example, who was at Spurs for a medical, then got the phone call and ran off to warm the bench at Chelsea as a spite purchase.

      And speaking of spite, Mourinho vetoed the Demba Ba move to Arsenal because he didn’t want Ba teaming with Ozil to improve Arsenal that much. Wow. Just …. wow.

    12. Speaking of Özil, I always wondered what would have happened had we gotten him when he was pretty much begging to come to us. I know we had a pretty solid argument with Xavi and Iniesta taking up his positions, but that kind of talent available for such a low price… Damn…

      And then another thought popped into my mind this morning, which was if anybody in their right mind would buy Bale for Özil + 50M.

    13. If my memory serves me right, There was a chance to sign ozil, But pep refused it, And chose to keep his obsession with fabregas.

    14. I’ll give you the point about integrity. However, a cynic would say that that’s just a convenient excuse.

      Concerning legendary status, that’s attained by winning trophies. Big shiny international trophies with global audiences. Not Ligue 1 relatively obscure silverware (sorry French readers). Big trophies like the one with the big ears or the WC. Even winning the Copa America isn’t going to be noticed greatly outside of South America — that’s a pity because it’s a cracking competition, but it’s the truth (especially with most Europeans).

    15. Almost forgot. We all now the way Mou Mou rolls and we know what he is. He’s probably the single biggest reason we were never going to get Luiz. He is the single most loathsome individual I’ve ever seen in football. A massive C U Next Tuesday type of fella. Even Chelsea fans will get sick of him when he doesn’t consistently deliver silverware. That day will come.

  15. I think it’s prudent not to compare our transfer activity with other teams. They’re simply not on the same page, any decent signing improves a side like spurs. We’re on special diet.

    Also, the price tags thrown around this summer were ridonkulous. Better idea to groom Barca B with bargain talents. Just my thought.

    1. A query, levon. Why Man U boasts of more expansive fan base than us ? I can’t fathom why.

      Decent team from a rain soaked island, whereas barca has churned footballing world upside down for most of the last decade.

      So many original ideas, a brand new playing style. A bunch of 5 feet something players pillaging every trophy out there whilst maintaining saints like visage.

    2. My guess would be that it is because the UK & Ireland have 20 million more inhabitants than Spain. And Manchester Utd has been pretty successful over there.

      I do wonder how they count the fans, though. I’m pretty sure nobody has ever counted me.

    3. Asian countries mostly ex commonwealth, english – a second language for everybody. So they easily tune in with EPL. Can understand what their favourite players are babbling about. That’d explain massive EPL following.

      I don’t understand most things Iniesta says in his interviews, it’s so frustrating that I’ve decided to take spanish lessons. No luck with catalan though, hardly any books available in market.
      Where be the CuleToon ?

    4. And the massive international television deal the EPL has. The English league markets itself better than any other league in the world and are big in Japan (heh!), the rest of the Far East, and Africa. Their exposure in those locations dwarfs La Liga’s.

    5. True. But the numbers in the Far East and Africa outweigh the ones in Latin America from my understanding.

    6. A major reason EE play those noon matches, on occasion, have everything to do with tapping that Asian market.

    7. La Liga is pretty big in Japan too though. It’s carried on one of the main cable providers, while the EPL is on the other. I saw a big uptick when Nakamura joined Espanyol, and once viewers saw Barcelona play, they kept watching long after Nakamura left Spain. 🙂

  16. Havent watched the whole match yet – was able to catch up on the first half. I love what Martino is doing to the team. Quick one touch passing ! The pass from Busquets to Fabregas to Messi was a thing of beauty. There were a couple stinking passes from Pique and Fabregas to nobody which just rolled out of play, but we’re definitely moving towards faster transitions.

    And Fabregas is finally showing his quality. As they say in Cricket – form is temporary but class is permanent. I think he is going to be one of the key players in this season.

    I would love us to be more like Dortmund while still retaining our identity (whatever that means) – fast, one touch passing with movement. What do you guys think ?

    1. Most striking about that match for me was the speed with which the ball got from defense to attack, without slowing down in midfield. Some are pointing to the absence of Xavi as a precipitator, but I think it’s more philosophical. Martino recognizes that getting at a defense before it is set is always of value, rather than tika-takaing your way through rabbit holes that might or might not be there.

      And with Neymar on the wing, he is either going to create a chance, or get fouled, creating a set piece or FK opportunity.

      Fabregas has been showing his quality all along, just not consistently. The same was true of Sunday. Brilliant first half, then faded as we lost control of the match due to the squad not being match fit yet.

  17. That Pellegrini might have been our manager had Tito suffered his relapse a little earlier is interesting for me to think about how twists of fate occur unpredictably in football that sets off different directions to those involved.

    Just like he did at city, he would have brought along a CB (probably demichellis / argentine too) and Isco would have signed for his old manager and played for his dream club while staying in his country.


    Definitely happy with everything I have seen of TMart. If only he could wear a damn suit…

    1. Twists of fate occur unpredictably in life in general too.

      Tata looks like he still hasn’t unpacked his suitcase yet. He wears that lucky lime coloured polo for matches and looks like he’s about to go golfing. He wears a baseball cap backwards at practice. Maybe that’s just his style?

  18. ok,i think some people are trying to make a stupid decision look perfect,people are blatantly and indirectly trying to defend this decision of the board not to sign a centre back,and also poisoning other people’s opinion to succumb to theirs with well written lies.THE CLUB’S DECISION NOT TO SIGN A CENTRE BACK IS A MISTAKE! No defense to their action,BUT THERE WILL BE A PUNISHMENT FOR THAT MISTAKE,which i hope doesn’t be fall us. Zubi has come out and said ”BARCELONA DOES NOT NEED A CENTRE BACK’ let me guess,if we didn’t need a CB then why were we after those people we wanted to sign?, Zubi and Rossell are pratically impotent in european transfer market,they’re constantly out muscled by teams during bidding wars, Javi martinez,thiago silva,marqinhos,and thiago alcantra,were examples,Rossell only possess power in brazilian market. 2nd,i’m not a supporter of the ”WE JUST DON’T BUY ANY DEFENDER CAMPAIGN”,buy us a defender regardless of his intelligence or ball-playing capabilities,we need a stable and conscious defender,Pique is not a fantastic defender,everyone is aware of that,there are most defenders out there that are millions miles ahead of Pique,if pique can start a game for us,then anyone can,Pique is a ball playing defender but not intelligent,what kind of defender blatantly trips his man after he clearly gets dribbled and having in mind he was gonna get his matching orders,i see no intelligence in that,ask Neymar or Ronaldo,even Ribery,that one against Neymar even got shakira crying,Martino is trying so far but getting to know your squad also has to do with knowing the deficiencies in it,Great coaches arrives and fixes existing problems and makes changes.The board has no sympathy towards its fans,considering the kind of ‘heart attacks’ people will be in when we play any top side this season with our crap defense line,if there’s anything i like about EE,its how they take their fans serious,when fans call for signing they sign regardless of the importance,if EE had a CB case and their fans called for signings,i bet that thiago silva and david luiz will board a plane enroute madrid ASAP,and yet EE are still richer than us.So kxvein,cut the decision-defense out,we all love our sweet barça,but what she needs now is a hard truth,that we have committed a big mistake to not sign a CB.visca el barça

    1. A 25-line paragraph that is only intercut with the occasional SCREAMING does not make for nice reading.

      A lot of us share your concern and the person you just attacked has repeatedly stated he would have liked to buy Mangala.

      Trying to understand the board/technical staff’s reasoning is not the same as defending it. You should calm down some.

    2. To cut to the substance:

      Pique edition 2013, with his mix of height, nous, skill and awareness of when to stay back and when to bomb forward to great effect IS a fantastic defender FOR Barca. Elite. Don’t know who I’d replace him with.

      EE take their fans seriously? Check out the pandemonium on realmadridfootballblog after the sale of their second best player and fan favorite… for half of Bale, whom nobody wanted. (no offense to Bale, but even I kinda feel their pain.)

      And yes, Real Marketing are richer than us. How may trophies has that brought them with that helter skelter transfer policy, again?
      Barcastuff: Barcelona bought players for 663,7M in the last decaded and won 21 trophies, while Madrid bought for 1107,7M and won 7 trophies. And we had our share of duds in the transfer market.

    3. On the contrary Pique is a highly intelligent defender, well aware of what line to hold and what his position should be at any time. That he is dragged out wide and occasionally exposed for raw pace is a fault of the system, that seldom anyone covers when he is another avoidable fault. If not, why is he a CL, Euro and World Cup winner ?

      There is also no point in us looking for a defender who isn’t a great ball passer and Pique’s passing is close to faultless as well as knowing when to step forward into the space to draw out the defence.

  19. Everyone take a look at this picture:

    I know what you’re going to say next, No this is not an online football fantasy league, And no i didn’t use a back line with an average height of 185cm, And no i didn’t have thiago silva and david luiz as CBs, This was a real match, All i can tell you that it was over 2 years ago, I’ll leave the guess to you.
    But would you believe that the back-line that left EE with theses pathetic stat were:


    P.S: No i’m not saying we don’t need a CB, That is obviously stupid, But i want one not because some X expensive CB, Or an X tall LB is going to solve our problems, But Purely because of our depth issue, Why a club with the resources such as ours, It’s only strategy for the new season, Is kneel down in the chapel and pray to god that no one gets injured.

  20. levon ”the person i just attacked” statement didn’nt exist,my post was directed to no one,i do post my humble opinion,without any attachment of attack,anything we post,we post for the good of the club,and to relief one’s self of pressure that he can’t keep inside,in the process creates an interactive environment which this blog is all about,and thanks for your grammer tips too.

    I’v been previledged to work and hear mourinho talk,i’v been to trials at inter milan when he was manager,i’m a centre-back too,one thing he told us upon our kick-off to trials was about ”ruthlessness” ability to look away from sentimental attachments and go for something,it helped me a lot in life,not like i’m making him my sudden idol,i still hate him with acute passion.So sometimes i look away from sentiments and hit nails in the head,we made a mistake by not signing a CB and we can’t avoid the concequences it’ll bring.

    1. I think what Levon was referencing is the following, from your previous comment:

      ok,i think some people are trying to make a stupid decision look perfect,people are blatantly and indirectly trying to defend this decision of the board not to sign a centre back,and also poisoning other people’s opinion to succumb to theirs with well written lies.

      Or ….

      So kxvein,cut the decision-defense out,we all love our sweet barça,but what she needs now is a hard truth,that we have committed a big mistake to not sign a CB.

      I understand passion. We all have it. And I won’t presume what anyone’s first language might be. Yes, some are more eloquent than others, but I think that calmness is called for.

      As I note above, my personal view is one way, my writing to attempt to make sense of the board’s view is another. I have never seen the amount of negativity surrounding this club as I do right now. Disturbing? Not for me, because I will always be positive about this club.

      We aren’t doomed because we didn’t buy a CB. Hardly. If we get the same unbelievable run of injuries, we will have problems. But the way that Barça CBs play, the dirty little secret is that any of our defenders (well, not Alba or Alves) would play CB. Adriano has, Busquets has, Song has. Mascherano is a DM who is our best CB right now, on form.

      So what we have is the club that we have, the board that we have, the coach that we have and the president that we have. Yelling at each other isn’t going to make any of that change.

    2. “We aren’t doomed because we didn’t buy a CB. Hardly. If we get the same unbelievable run of injuries, we will have problems. But the way that Barça CBs play, the dirty little secret is that any of our defenders (well, not Alba or Alves) would play CB. Adriano has, Busquets has, Song has. Mascherano is a DM who is our best CB right now, on form.”

      From open play, generally yes. But only if we minimize crosses into the box.

      From set pieces, not so much. Then it’s hold your breath, cross your fingers, pray to your deity of choice, etc.

      Our best defence this year will have to be our offence. They score one. We score two.

  21. Ha ha, I hate Guti but, I like this comment:

    Guti (ex-Madrid): “Messi is the best player in the world. Difficult to admit it, but it’s truth. I like him a lot more than Cristiano.” [ie]

    1. I’ve noticed a lot of people disliking Guti. I wasn’t following football when he was around. Can anyone fill me in as to why this is?

    2. He epitomizes Real Madrid. Arrogant, flashy, decent to good football ability with more style than skill and concerned with his looks more than necessary…

  22. I’m still in disbelief that EE sold Ozil. Ramos is surprised too and said that’s the last guy he would have sold from the club. I trust that one way or another Perez will shoot himself in the foot. It’s as inevitable as the sun rising in the morning. I’m absolutely giddy with schadenfreude 😆

    Visca Barça!!

    1. “The last guy he would have sold”? Is that meant to be taken literally? Because there are some real sacred cows in that team..

  23. Hey Levon.

    Are you ready for the Chile v Venezuela WCQ on Friday? I’ve got a close friend that’s a big Chilean fan. He’s up for it big style!

    1. I rarely watch international football, tbh. Only the tournaments. And when I watch the Vinotinto my primary interest lies in seeing how some ex-students of mine do, although they usually don’t start (yet).

      We were very optimistic that Venezuela were going to qualify for the WC, but they now they have to win their remaining three matches and hope for Uruguay to drop points. Uruguay have the tougher schedule, though, so anything is possible. Of course if they do make it, I have to hear my father-in-law go on and on about how Venezuela is the best in the world and what not, lol.

    2. Hold on a second Lev, father in law?! Gefeliciteerd man!! You never announced it. All this while you said girlfriend. Congratulations! 🙂

    3. Hahaha thank you, but I am latinizing my English I’m afraid. Over here we say sometimes say father in law (suegro) even if people aren’t married. Actually it is quite common in Venezuela to say introduce one’s boy/girlfriend as “husband” or “wife”, especially if the couple lives together.

  24. well,florentino perez gave EE fans what they asked of him,Gareth Bale,they were all shouting his name at isco’s presentation,but what they didn’t know was that every decision has a consequence,and the consequences of bale’s arrival would be ozil’s departure.

  25. I was longing for a CB this summer. Marquinhos, Mangala, Inigo Martinez were especially appealing for both depth and potential.
    However, I agree with the sane part of commenters on this site, we are not doomed.
    Yes, we are much thinner at CB than at other positions, but there is ridiculous depth of talent in midfield and attack. Great CBs don’t grow on trees, and the ones out there do not take kindly to sitting on the bench. Our situation is more or less similar to other big clubs:
    EE: Ramos, Varane, Pepe, Nacho Fernandez (who?). Fantastic three-man rotation, and then… nothing. Struck gold with Varane.
    Bayern: Dante, Boateng, Badstuber (injured), van Buyten (35), Kirchhoff (who?), Javi Martinez (injured) in a pinch. The deepest club out there, but how many are really world class?
    Dortmund: Subotic, Hummels, Sokratis and a bunch of 18 year olds. One injury away from disaster.
    PSG: Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Alex, Camara (35). They paid a LOT for that Brazilian trio.
    Juve: Chielinni, Bonucci, Barzagli, Ogbonna. And they play 3 CBs.
    Man City: Kompany (injured), Lescott, Demichelis, Nastasic.
    ManU: Rio (34), Vidic, Jones, Evans, Smalling.
    Chelsea: Terry, Luiz, Cahill, Ivanovic (RB).
    Arsenal: Vermaelen, Kos, Mertesacker
    Liverpool are looking good with Agger, Skrtel and Sakho, but would you rather have them than Pique, Masche and Puyol?

    I really like our starting CB tandem. Only EE, Dortmund and Chelsea are at that level, and Dortmund have even worse depth. I would’ve liked another cheap veteran for depth or youngster to develop, but if Puyol and Bartra can give us some games, we are in about the same place as everybody else.

    1. We are just spoiled by having the best players in the world in multiple positions and starter-quality substitutes further upfield.

    2. I’d love to get Chiellini as a future left sided CB signing. That guy is a defensive beast. Wishful on my part, perhaps.

      We aren’t doomed? I thought we were all gonna die?

    3. And a neutral might say this about our CBs:

      Barça: Piqué, Mascherano (converted DM munchkin), Puyol (35, constantly injured), Bartra (who?), Bagnack (double who??)

      Just playing devil’s advocate.

    4. This is an excellent comment. As I have said before, find me a club who could lose two of its first-choice CBs AND its best player, and survive against a top-level club playing out of its skull.

    5. lies, damned lies, and statistics.

      A. most of those teams still include 3-4 prime players for center-back positions. we have 2. that is not enough. (Puyol is 35, Bartra does not have the confidence of the coaching staff).

      B. i would argue that the Pique/Mascherano partnership, our now-standard pairing, has serious possibility for exploitation. other teams have discovered this too, and we shipped a hell of a lot of goals last season with our *first choice* pairing on the pitch.

      C. during our recent periods of success, we’ve been able to draw from at least 4 quality center-backs (Rafa Marquez, Gabi Milito, Abidal, Yaya in a pinch anyone?), not counting youth teamers. rotation and competition in those areas is vital to keeping our defense sharp, and…

      D. the way in which we play dictates that our center-backs need to be outstandingly mentally sharp, focused and dedicated. we saw with Pique last year that his brain often went on walkabout, and i would posit that that is because he KNOWS he is going to play every game so long as there is zero competition for his spot. competition for spots pushes players to be better; this must be a significant part of Bayern’s great season in 12/13. it is certainly a basic principle of football man-management, and we’re ignoring it.

      as for Kxevin’s point about “surviving” against what Bayern did to us last season, well, we stood no chance of surviving those games. we weren’t even in them, we were utterly annihilated. it’s not just the scoreline, it’s the WAY we played and lost that was so concerning to many of us. we can write that off as “oh if so-and-so penalty had been given” or “if so-and-so had been fit”, but we were always going to lose that tie, and lose it big. we NEEDED re-investment in the squad to shake us out of that malaise, particularly in the area where we were most shaky, in our defense. Martino’s appointment might help spur some dynamism, but without the sufficient squad no amount of tactics is going to compensate. and we do not, at the present, have a sufficient squad.

      and i’ll tell you all of this again at the end of the season.

  26. From the Guardian, re Ozil’s transfer to Arsenal:

    Perez is the best signing Barça has ever made.


    1. Hehehe, apparently M*drid’s players are all distrought that ¨Fisheyes was sold. To quote C.Ronaldo, “Özil was who best knew my movements on the pitch.”

    2. Well, you take Europe’s best assist maker away from any goalscorer and that is how they are gonna feel, right?

      I keep coming back to what I wrote yesterday. Would anybody in their right mind think that Bale is worth Özil + 50M?

    3. Hmmm, nice comparison. The Eto’o/Zlatan deal was ridiculous too. I never wanted Eto’o to leave and I have always considered it to be a personal error from Pep to follow his “feeling” in this matter.

      However, one could at least make the argument that Zlatan was the more talented player. I’m not sure we can say that regarding Bale vs Özil.

    4. Exactly. Ibrahimovic was an upgrade from Eto’o in terms of potential, and that potential was realized for a half season. I know revisionist history is that Ibrahimovic was a flop, but he wasn’t. Far from it.

      It was also time for a change.

    5. Was going to say the same thing about Zlatan and Eto’o but I don’t know. Zlatan and Eto’o played in the same position but are totally different type of players. Ozil and Bale are nowhere near similar in any way to each other. Bale is a straight up winger who scores while Ozil is the main creator of a team.

      To me, Ozil is much more important in the way a team plays. I love Ozil so I had to find a way not to sound biased 🙂

    6. Especially considering that RM already have C.Ronaldo.

      One thing Bale does have going for him is his attitude.

      To start a professional football career as a left back and work your way “up” to winger and then a free central attacking midfielder role speaks volumes.

  27. was at realmadridfootballblog and the fans there are not happy at all. A commenter wrote,’I hope ozil returns after this idiot of a president leaves’.

  28. was praying that the Bale transfer doesn’t materialize for EE.He is way too dangerous and quick player than Ozil.Yes ofcourse they have different playing styles but Bale’s a perfect fit for their playing style.

  29. At least now I can enjoy Ozil’s game without cringing at the color of his uniform. Glad for Arsenal, who do play pretty football in spite of that ugly trophy-less streak and losing top talent every year. Too bad we’ll probably never see Ozil in blaugrana (unless it’s a straight swap for Cesc, we just don’t have the starter spot he needs), but if you ask me, red is better than white 🙂

  30. I know that we all like to scoff and everything that RM does, but here’s the thing: They did great business in the transfer window, including tripling their investment on Ozil. When they bought Isco, many were saying that Ozil wasn’t going to be long for that team anyhow. Isco’s recent play is apparently bearing that out, though I will have to trust others on that.

    Who knows what formation they will line up in, but in theory, with Bale/Benzema/Oil Can up front, they have a very, very dangerous attack, even if Benzema continues to be crap. Is Bale 100m good? No. But he’s plenty good, as well as adding a significant injection of pace and power into their side.

    1. That’s why my initial reaction was that it made sense.

      But then you start thinking on how Özil combines with C.Ronaldo and the potential pitfalls of a Bale/C.Ronaldo combo…

      If teams play them like they did during the 2011/12 season they will be even deadlier, but if they keep parking buses like they did last year I can’t help but wonder if Bale’s speed and long shots are more valuable than Özil’s vision and technique.

    2. I agree Lev. I’ve watched Bale almost every Saturday night for the last season. He blows hot and cold. Spurs just didnt play against any parked buses. He gave Scotland a torrid time with his pace for Wales last season but he thrives on space and needs it to make space for shots. Give him it and he can go past a couple of defenders then unleash one but get him stopped and force him onto his right he doesn’t have a lot going for him.

      Although i agree it is a CL signing my big worry is that he is just built for the counter attack against us. The thought of him speeding into a space left by Dani or Jordi with CR7 bombing down the middle isn’t a pleasant one. We really can’t afford to attack naively against them in the Clasico and don’t have anyone who can match his pace. However, I’m not sure he can live with our football if he is played anywhere in the midfield. He’s just not technically good enough imo.

    3. ” force him onto his right he doesn’t have a lot going for him”
      True! Whenever I have watched him I have always felt that he was a one-trick guy. Teams who have forced him to move inside has successfully managed to neuatralize him. I still remember how Wigan(If my memory serves me right), actually completely neutralised him a season back. The right back did only one thing he aloowed him to cut to his right, that’s it!

    4. Not to forget their new coach. Ancelotti was making noises about a more attractive, attacking, possession-based game. Can’t help but think Ozil would have been more valuable than Bale in that setup. Also, like all great attacking partnerships, they (Bale, Isco, TB and Benz) need to get an understanding, figure each other out in order to challenge the best defenses and parked buses ver the course of a season. Isco seems to have hit the ground running, but so did Alexis, Cesc and Villa upon their arrival. If his form falters and it takes Bale a while to integrate, they might lose valuable points. Massive overhauls rarely spell success in the short term. The classicos should be nail-biters, though.

    5. Yup. You could say that they’ve bought Bale specifically to hurt us on the counterattack. Both Ronaldo and Bale tearing up the pitch with just Mascherano between them and VV does not bear thinking about.

      @Levon, against a parked bus I think Ozil’s ability to thread a pass through tight spaces has to be more important than Bale’s ability to race the entire length of pitch in 7 seconds.

    6. They didn’t buy Bale to hurt us on the counterattack. This was the president’s signing, not the coach’s, not the technical director’s. He wanted a crack and a mediatic one at that, so he got himself Christmas Bale with a white ribbon on top.

      Make no mistake, if it works it can be very scary for us indeed, but I see this more as a signing for the CL where M*drid will have more space to play than for the Liga where they, like anyone, will struggle against teams defending for 89 minutes of the game.

    7. I don’t think Perez buys players who are only going to be useful for 2-4 matches a year. That would be silly of him.

      But the sporting director at EE really knows how to negotiate (not the Bale signing of course, I mean their sales).

  31. One more reasoning for Perez fixation with Bale might have to do with the idea of creating setup similar to Bayern’s Ribbery/Robben duo. The combination of wide attacking wingers was very effective against Barca and was one way to break us down. Trying to replicate that with Hair gel/Bale is understandable and might prove effective considering we have attacking full backs on either side who are prone to roam forward.

    Replace Javi with Khedira, Schewni with Modric, Muller with Isco, Hair Gel/Bale with Robbery, Mandzukic with Benzema and we have a similar formation which destroyed us.

    P.S: Of course there is a difference in quality, but still..

    1. I am not so sure the difference in quality goes in the direction you imply.

      If we are in good physical condition, the full backs maintain some discipline and we don’t lose the ball cheaply, we should not lose 4-0 again. But those are a lot of ifs, and it’s not clear how we’re going to score against their defense if we don’t take risks…

  32. Cules reaction to EE’s summer activity, Looks similar to the reactions back in the summer of 2009, When they bought Cristiano, Kaka, Benzema, Alonso and many others, Cules were scared and some even predicted an inevitable doom against such awesome ‘names’, To the point that the genius laporta decided to conduct the worst transfer in the history of our club, Just so he can also ‘hit back’. It taught us a valuable lesson to what happens when you start paying attention to what your rival, Instead of paying attention to yourself.

    1. Not sure I agree.

      1) We saw what happened after 2009 – they only managed to beats us after we started falling apart and that was largely due to off the field factors. And even then, we have been the much more successful club over those 4 years. Given that history, I don’t think nearly as many people are as scared as in 2009. I certainly am not. Not just that, but the expectations on us are lower than they were back then – in 2009 we won 6 cups, and you can only equal that or much more likely, fail to do so. Now, the world as a whole sees it as a much more equal battle

      2) Ibrahimovic was “the worst transfer the club ever made” (which I don’t agree with in general – just look at who and for how much money we bought between 1999 and 2003) only in hindsight. At the time it looked like the right move to make. It didn’t work partly because of his attitude issues and partly because he became obsolete after Messi moved to the middle. But when the transfer was made, it looked like a brilliant decision from a purely technical point of view. BTW, that it did not work has not prevented people from continuing to say we need a “plan B” in the form of a tall powerful striker – well, there was and still is nobody better than Ibrahimovic with that description plus he has skills too.

    1. I dont think I agree wholeheartedly with the author. The joy of watching Barca play the way they do is what keeps me glued as a fan. And it involves the whole rollercoaster of extreme lows when we lose to EE or Bayern the same as the joy of beating Athletico or Valencia playing “our” way.

    2. i thought stannard watched Liga, but these paragraphs indicate he doesnt know what he is talking about:

      “Chelsea fans can take some joy in an away win at Stoke City, for example, or cheer a home victory in Stamford Bridge against Liverpool with some justification. Deep down, Barça supporters know that a 7-0 victory against Levante is utterly meaningless. There is no fun to be had in a league that is just a procession of cannon fodder being taken apart week after week.”

      he used an extreme example of the 7-0 thrashing to repeat the non-truth that there are no other liga sides besides the big two.

      wait til real sociedad beats Man U in the CL, tim stannard.

    3. You can’t dismiss a valid viewpoint because you disagree with one aspect. Stannard covers the Liga for FourFourTwo magazine, and is a respected journalist with outstanding credentials.

      He is also using hyperbole. Of course he knows that statement isn’t fully true, and is expecting the reader to know the same thing.

      And no other team has a shot in hell at finishing in the top two positions in the Liga. We all know that. It will be either us or them. The 100-point record was an astounding accomplishment, but also a damning one for many.

      Stannard’s fundamental point is about the joylessness attendant to being a supporter of either of the big two, and he is absolutely right in the case of too many supporters. Not all.

    4. fair enough. i gave up after reading that tripe which, while you call it hyperbole, just seems to parrot the actual views of too many EPL fans.

      but yeah i am and have always been in the camp that, win or lose, i just enjoy watching this team. but he does make some valid points, just looking at this blog at times is evidence eough.

      let me just point out also, in response to your “chance in hell”, how deep into the season last year that Atletico was able to keep Real stuck in 3rd place, and also that they were able to defeat them in the Copa.

    5. and add to that, if you allow atletico into the convo and make it a “big 3” in la liga, well that isnt much different from what happens in the EPL. in the last 10 years there have only been 3 champs — chelsea, man u and man city. and man city was only 1 year. you can go back 10 more years before that, and add only 1 more champ — arsenal.

    6. Together with Phil Ball, Tim Stannard is my favorite football writer. His weekly column on is excellent, too.

    7. Hard to elevate Atletico into a “big 3” after only one year. Valencia had finished third for quite a few years in a row before, and Atletico was all the way down at 9th as recently as 09-10. (In fact they have finished 9th, 7th, 5th, 3rd the last four years. See what’s next in the pattern? 😉 )

      It’s a good point that the EPL also has had just two teams win almost all titles in the last 10 years. But teams like Liverpool and Arsenal were quite competitive for many of those years; even if they didn’t win it feels like they could have.

      But other teams have been competitive in the Liga, just not in the last few years. It is painful to remember but Villarreal finished ahead of us in 07-08, and Sevilla was not that far behind Madrid in the treble year.

      I would say the era of true Barça/Madrid dominance is only four years old, and it started the Ibra year, when both teams broke the 90 point barrier. The two teams have finished above 90 points 7 out of 8 times since then. It’s truly historic, and I think has much more to do with the two teams pushing each other, than to the rest of the league falling apart.

    8. It’s impossible not to joy watching the team play when it’s at its best if you see the game as an art-form and watch it from that perspective.

      The wins themselves are a different manner though – that’s expected and has indeed become somewhat mundane and not worth getting excited about too much.

    9. For me, they are. Athletic excellence is so fleeting. Sustained athletic excellence is so rare as to verge on miraculous. Dips in form, injuries, lack of motivation, fatigue, internationals and other demands all work against a team to dilute the fervor with which it can attend to a task.

      For me, the 7-0 Levante match was a staggering display of football in which everything clicked, like the Manita. Is Levante crap? Absolutely. But look at how they have played since then. That scoreline was an aberration, as big an aberration as the CL semis for me. If we played them tomorrow, it almost certainly wouldn’t be 7-0.

      I love each and every time this team wins, because so many of us remember the Rivaldo goal that qualified the team for Europe, and how giddy fans were. Yes, we were Arsenal for too long, getting into Europe and being thrilled about that.

      My, how times change.

    10. Agree with this a lot. It is incredibly difficult to maintain a great team, and sometimes when the future seems bright things can fall apart before you know it.

      In sport, like life, it’s better to enjoy every moment rather than pin your hopes on some possible future triumph.

      It’s amazing how much winning transforms a fan base so quickly. Reminds me of the transformations of the Red Sox and Patriots fans in Boston.

  33. Hey guys, haven’t posted in a while, but found this very interesting quote, that is quite relevant to the recent discussions regarding FCB’s transfer season.

    Mascherano: “Everybody can not be wrong, fans, journalists, all asking for a center. you might not like what I say, but Barca sin? (horrible google translate) to be self-destructive.”

    Found it here: The twitter account seems to be sourcing RAC1.

    1. That account you reference has two separate tweets that you have mashed together into one. I haven’t seen any other source with that same quote. Surely if Masche had come out and criticized the club for not buying a CB I would have seen it somewhere else by now.

    2. I dont know if you’re implying im trying to create some controversy by “mashing” the two quotes together, but that was not my intention. The quotes showed up one after the other and I assumed they went together, and now Kxevin has even put up an article on MD with the same quotes, as well as a twitter feed that has the same two quotes.

      Ease up on the immediate hostility, blitzen.

    3. There was nothing hostile in my comment. Please stop reading into things. I simply wanted to point out that the quote you refer to has appeared nowhere else in that form, not even in the link that Kxevin posted. The part about the club being self-destructive is there, but in reference to people not enjoying its success properly, not in reference to signing a CB.

    1. Mascherano also did an interview on RAC1 today, that is pretty wonderful. So much seny.

      @opinioncule is the best source on Twitter for Mascherano’s quotes.

    1. You’re utmost welcome foto. It’s been the most read article for 2 days running. Yeah you’re right, they definitely could make a movie out of it. It’s so beautiful. Such a pity it happened before when camera phones were the norm (or phone with camera hehe).

      And besides the story itself, it’s such an amazing work by the people involved in the article. It wasn’t easy at all to go back and look for the materials and putting them together.

      That story should go to the main page of the Guardian imo rather than just being in the sports section.

  34. Does anyone know why both Piqué and Mascherano are not with their respective national sides? I’m especially surprised that sMasch is not with Argy.

    1. So, I’ve learned since I posted the Q, Piqué is suspended for the one WCQ that Spain has for this interlull. I suspect the same for Javier as Argy have only one WCQ during this break as well.

    2. Red cards! From what I recall, Pique kicked Neymar in the Confederations Cup final. Masche threw a petulant hissy fit in his last Arg. game and kicked the driver of a medical cart.

  35. Oh my. Zlatan is in the news again today. He’s called Pep a spineless coward. I’m not sure how to include the article’s website link on my iPhone. Check the Guardian website for the article.

    1. And when he yelled at Guardiola, the coach didn’t even challenge him for a fist fight!

      What a spineless coward?! 🙂

  36. Regarding the Abidal story, I am going to copy these informative tweets here:

    RT @xavicampos : In his last contract, Abidal and Barça signed off the possibility to rescind it if he was out for more than 6 months…
    RT @xavicampos : When that moment came, instead of rescinding the contract, the club & player agreed to temporarily suspend until he was well

    RT @xavicampos : Abidal was paid the entire contract’s worth in 2011/12, and the last months of the final season .

    RT @xavicampos Abidal didn’t earn what he could have earned, true. Barça always paid, to the day, what was specified in his contract. True.

    So Abidal was not paid by the club for the bulk of last season, but this is something he and the club had agreed to. You should all note that in the original L’Equipe article there is nothing to suggest that Abi is angry about not being paid, he presents it only as a statement of fact, to show that this was never about money for him. Other media sources (the Guardian) added the inflammatory headline about Abidal being “angry” at getting “no pay”.

    The only thing Abidal is upset about (from that article) is that at the pres conference where they broke the news, the club said they were letting him go “for professional reasons”, which he believes made it more difficult for him to prove to other clubs that he was healthy and able.

    1. Further, Abidal’s salary was paid by insurance bond. Obviously I don’t know Abidal, but I think he is more disappointed than angry. He loves Barça, and wanted to retire with the club.

      Note his earlier comments, that singled out ZubiZa for praise, and treating him well. Others can infer by exclusion, that others maybe did not treat him well.

    2. The Abidal situations sucks, but I think the club did what it had to do. Regardless of money the fact is with a disease like cancer he can be fit as a fiddle and then the next day he is out for the rest of the season or can never play again, or god forbid worse. Considering that at the time we had a coach who we were risking a relapse with (and look what happened there) I don’t think it would have been wise to risk it with a key player as well. That kind of thing weighs heavily on the dressing room. I don’t think the team or the coach should be relying on a player where the risk is so high.

    3. Just playing devil’s advocate in wondering how the Abidal situation is different than Puyol’s, if the view of cancer is that it is something to be overcome, like an injury.

      Abidal is ready to play, and play effectively, a lot sooner than Puyol, right?

    4. But for how long? Neither have played much the last two seasons. Letting go of Abidal might have made sense if we brought in a CB … but we did not.

    5. The club’s respond:

      After Éric Abidal’s statements were reported by L’Equipe, FC Barcelona contacted the player and his representative in order to clarify the confusion created by the phrase “the Club didn’t pay me in the months I was sick.” FC Barcelona want to clarify the following:

      – Both parties confirm that the Club duly complied with the contractual commitments stipulated in the player’s contract.

      – That in January of 2012, even though the player relapsed and underwent liver transplant surgery two months later, FC Barcelona offered Abidal a contract extension which included a substantial renewal bonus. The extension was signed.

      – That in March of 2012, when Abidal’s disease reappeared, the Club did not execute its option to unilaterally rescind the player’s contract per the stipulation in the contract that Abidal signed. By mutual agreement, FC Barcelona and the player suspended the contract until Abidal was medically cleared to play. During this period Abidal continued collecting his agreed upon monthly payments and, upon his return to the first team, he received the proportional sum of his contract.

      – In June of 2013, when his contract was due to expire, the Club and Abidal liquidated the contract.

  37. The club is reportedly following three (or more) central defenders for the next couple of months to be bought in the next transfer window. They could make a fool out of us yet…

  38. Valdes is in terrific form and yet Casillias who hasn’t played at all gets picked up for the friendly against Finland…

    1. It’s not a friendlily, it’s a WCQ. Besides, I think VV should have got the nod as he is match sharp. This is the same stubbornness by VDB that saw Spain defeated by Brasil in the confed cup. His insistence to play the same team over and over again whether they are fit or not. He’s loyal to the team that won the WC and the Euro but, at some point, the same team is not playing at the same level any more. No rotations and more wear and tear on the same players. As long as VDB is coach, VV will never be number one no matter how crappy Iker is playing. Hope they lose now.

    2. Well, Spain have not done too badly under VDB. Imho, of course.

      I find that regarding the goalkeepers there is a shared stubbornness amongst merengues and culés, with each group feverishly believing their goalkeeper is permanently, if not the best, at least a top-3 goalkeeper.

      Having said that, I sure do hope VV keeps up his current form.

    3. I agree that Spain have done well under VDB but, sometimes his insistence of not changing up the team a bit is what gets to me. We’ve seen Barca players over played by club and country. Sometimes they don’t have to play that 90mins for country in a friendly. Give the other members a go. Iker plays all friendlies too bar a few mins given to VV and Reina. Joachim Low for example, usually changes it up in friendlies. Doesn’t always play his best 11 ALL the time. Xavi, Ini, Busi don’t need to always suit up.

      I think in Spain it’s a political thing why VV didn’t suit up today, or too much loyalty shown to certain players at times. Anyways, VV will be rested for Sevilla and hope he keeps up his form. Just annoying that his form is not respected outside of Barca.

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