Barca v Malaga Match Comments Post

‘Sup, everyone. An empty post for all y’all to run wild in.

Barcelona starting XI vs Malaga: Valdes; Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Cesc; Alexis, Messi, Pedro.

Afellay is on the bench! Let’s hope he gets some minutes.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.


  1. January 26, 2014

    Also, Peter, to post html codes:

    bold is < b > and < / b >

    For example: if I want to bold “Barca is the best”, I’d write < b > Barca is the best < / b >. Just remove the spaces between the < and the b.

  2. Peter
    January 26, 2014

    I really don’t like the fact that Song and Montoya both are out. The defense and midfield are getting dangerously thin.

    Affelay is good news, hopefully we’ll see some of him. Maybe change with Alexis after seventy minutes?

  3. Jim
    January 26, 2014

    Not one of the great refereeing performances so far…

  4. Jim
    January 26, 2014

    Pique’s movement in the opposition box is bordering on the impressive these days.

  5. Peter
    January 26, 2014

    Okay, if I may be allowed to get on the “Buy a damned CB finally!!!” wagon. Please do buy a CB, then have Pique act as an emergency CF. Just have him put on some muscle and some wild hair! 😀

  6. georgjorge
    January 26, 2014

    Wow, is this the same team as in the previous two matches? Not to take anything away from Levante’s performances, but the team is looking a lot sharper and a lot more intent on scoring today…what did Tata do?

    • Peter
      January 26, 2014

      Basic motivation.

      “If you don’t win I’ll have Song and Neymar sing you a song.”

  7. psalmuel
    January 26, 2014

    I dare bayern munich to beat this barça 7-0!

    • PrinceYuvi
      January 26, 2014

      psalmuel is right. 7-0 against a fit, full squad barca is not that easy.

      • Peter
        January 26, 2014

        It never was. But then again, Barcelona against Bayern was a team exhausted by the most brutal season of all leagues, with Messi and Busquets nursing injuries, and inexperienced Bartra playing next to a mind-wandering Pique, a coach who looked like he had come back from the dead, 🙁 playing against a defending and fouling team with a suspiciously lenient ref, on a stadium that the pitch manager had tried to convert into a swimming pool and had almost succeeded. Barcelona weren’t playing against a team with an ace up its sleeve, those guys had a whole additional deck of cards.

        But I say again, let’s not tempt fate. No premature celebrating, no threats against possible future opponents. Let’s just enjoy this powerful Barcelona team, and cheer them on and not tempt the wrath of whatever atop the thing.

        Now go out, spin three times and spit. 😛

        • January 27, 2014

          I watched that match again, and for everyone who claims the fix is always in for Barça, it was shameful how that match was refereed. There was one point where Javi Martinez was allowed to simply keep kicking Iniesta from behind until Iniesta gave up the ball.

          Then of course there was the offside goal (clearly so) and the pick on Jordi Alba. And Bartra gagged two chances in their box, pretty much on the doorstep.

          All of this with the stuff that Peter mentioned, and playing 10 v 11, as Messi should not have been allowed anywhere near that pitch. Could have gone back to the Camp Nou 2-2.

          It’s why people such as Graham Hunter said that Bayern was better, but not 7-0 on aggregate better. No way. When you watch the match, really watch it, that much is clear.

          I don’t pretend to be able to predict what might happen this year, but we have a much stronger, sharper squad. So if things happen that way, we’ll see what comes to pass.

          • PrinceYuvi
            January 27, 2014

            And the Pique own goal. Minus those 3 and It looks 4-0.
            We didn’t say anything about Ref, cuz hey we’re sportsmanship personified.
            Allowed to get kicked but not allowed to even wince.

            We can play without Messi but surviving without Busi was too much to ask for,
            our only Defensive Lynchpin (the very best one at that)

            The team looked dazed, haggard, spent.
            Roberto is receiving so much stick this season.
            Imo more he plays, more are our chances of actually winning something this season.

            Xavi, Ini are our heavy cannons. We shouldn’t be deploying them in every single skirmish. Same goes for Messi.

  8. Ryan
    January 26, 2014

    It’s great to Afellay get some minutes!

  9. Jafri
    January 26, 2014

    … But I feel so bad for Cuenca. Anyone know his status?

        • Jafri
          January 26, 2014

          I would like to see him on the pitch, regardless of relationship status 🙂

          • Jafri
            January 26, 2014

            Can the normal : ) smiley not look a little less creepy?

  10. PrinceYuvi
    January 26, 2014

    Pretty scary match. Everybody looked so fit.
    There were chances every half a minute. Tata is keeping everybody fresh.

    18th Feb come soon you.

    Afellay reception quite heartwarming.

  11. Kari
    January 26, 2014

    Afellay got minutes!!!!!!!

    Suffice to say I’m a happy camper.

  12. January 26, 2014

    One of the highlights for me was seeing Messi take on Iniesta’s role while he’s out. He’s such a dynamic player, and it adds a lot to our attack, especially considering how well Pedro and Alexis have been playing this year.

  13. January 27, 2014

    For me, I love this Messi. I keep making Michael Jordan analogies, mostly because they work, but I am reminded of when Jordan decided that he wanted to win the assists crown in the league, and set his mind to it. He started passing more, and like Messi, he was the best passer on the Chicago Bulls. And he became even more unplayable because suddenly, there was this other option.

    People get rather wrapped up in Messi scoring, which I don’t understand. As long as he accounts for goals, we’re good to go. He has accounted for 5 goals in the last two matches. Three for Tello, and two silver-platter assists today. That’s pretty crazy when you think about it.

    Also interesting was how he suddenly decided to get more involved, and began running with the ball. You could see the entire defense shift, then bang! the killer pass.

    The False 9 worked for a while, but it doesn’t any longer. There will be further adaptation when Neymar returns, but for now it looks like Messi as creator is the way to go right now. It not only works, but works really well.

    Also for a team with a bad defense, we have the best defense in terms of goal differential. Same personnel as last season, by the by.

    Neymar Afellay being back means that Sergi Roberto will have some real pressure to face, because I suspect that Martino intends to play Neymar Afellay as a midfielder. The wings are pretty busy right now with two piping-hot players.

    • Nik
      January 27, 2014

      Also interesting was how he suddenly decided to get more involved, and began running with the ball.

      Did he decide to “get more involved”, or do you think Tata had him play as more of a 10 and not a false 9 in the second half? My impression while watching the match was more of the latter.

      The False 9 worked for a while, but it doesn’t any longer.

      Agreed, and this has been true for some time. I wonder if Tata will experiment with Dongou or even Alexis as a 9 against Levante and have Messi play in the midfield.

      I suspect that Martino intends to play Neymar as a midfielder.

      Interesting. What makes you say that? Has Neymar played as a midfielder before?

      • barca96
        January 27, 2014

        Messi shouldn’t play Levante. It’s time for him to rest and that match is a good opportunity for him to stay out. But yeah, I would like to see Messi in AM and Dongou ahead of him, ut in another match. Messi needs to rest. He’s been out for 2 months and has been playing non stop for 4 matches now.

        I wonder if Messi will drop so deep again once Iniesta is back.

        Neymar as a midfielder? I think his 2nd best position is a CF rather than in midfield.

      • January 27, 2014

        Ach! It was late, Nik. I actually meant Afellay in my “play XXX as a midfielder” comment, rather than Neymar.

    • Nik
      January 27, 2014

      Forgot to mention – now that Afellay is back, I wonder if we’ll see him competing with Sergi Roberto for a MF role. I know he replaced Alexis today on the wing, but I’d like to see Tata give him a chance in the MF. Afellay probably has a better chance getting playing time there than on the wings (confession: I haven’t been too convinced by young Sergi 🙁 )

    • Peter
      January 27, 2014

      Thank you for that trip to memory lane, Kxevin.

      My sentiments exactly. It’s as if Messi wrote his objectives and left them on the door of the fridge:

      This season’s La Liga goals:
      1.Win it
      2.Top the assist list

      I think the False Nine still works – but it works best against teams that try to win by playing instead of breaking up play and waiting for a lucky break. It would also work when the Niner doesn’t get the focused attention of half the other team’s players.
      I think this is the reason why Messi is being played a bit to the back, he draws them in and then sends the ball to the open wide strikers.

      For me the people “wrapped up” about Messi not scoring are either Messi fanboys or haters(well, in general). Messi is still hugely important, but he’s showing he’s a versatile player. The only thing preventing him from being declared a more complete player than Ronaldo at this point is a magnificent unsaveable header past Valdes. And for me that’s more important, that there’s no Messidependencia, and hopefully that would make opposing teams look a bit cross-eyed. Do we triple-mark Messi or double-mark him and have Pedro/Neymar double-marked as well, but then what about Alexis and Dani Alves and Alba and oh crap, “Is that Pique??” *scores a goal* “Yeah, that’s Pique.” Now what?

      They are still feeling their way into this, but we’ve noticed their increased confidence. They aren’t looking to see whether Messi is, but instead look to score. They aren’t losing that precious half a second. And that is important, very important. As you pointed out in a post a while ago, teams playing Barcelona went ready to fall down on Messi. These tactics no longer work that well. People keep on saying football is a team sport. What better way to show that by having the world’s best player step back in order for the whole team to win?

      And strange and ridiculous as it may seem, this winning Barcelona team lacks Neymar and Iniesta. I will utter a blasphemy that even I believe just in part, but Neymar’s injury may be a blessing for the rest of the team – they have had to fight harder and shoulder more responsibility – and they now know they can do it. They can score from corners, they can score with Messi surrounded. But what’s most important, they can score. As of right now there are fourteen players on the team who have scored at least a goal in regular season. The from the ones who haven’t, four are defenders(Alba, Montoya, Mascherano, Puyol) and two are midfielders(Sergi Roberto and Song). Dos Santos, Cuenca and Affelay are/were injured until now. As for the striker team, all five have scored a hat-trick.

      I don’t think Neymar will be played in midfield, because that would leave only one real creator and passer. Stifle him and Busquets, and the midfield can be overrun. Even with Messi dropping back it would be very difficult. Then again, I don’t have Tata’s inside info, and he’s done some really gutsy moves this season. What coach would tell the symbol of the team “Leo, we’re gonna put you up like a scarecrow, your job today is to draw defenders and pass the ball”. 🙂

      • lea_terzi
        January 27, 2014

        Fantastic comments all around! For me, two things that are visibly different from seasons past are the form of our strikers (Alexis and Pedro, looking at you) and, as a result, the renewed commitment of Messi to the all-around game.

        After the turmoil of last season, several things seemed to have gone right: the arrival and development of Neymar taking some creative pressure and attention off Messi, Tata injecting verticalidad, defense and rotation, players buying in and growing in confidence, the extended rest for Messi and Neymar further contributing to the development of the whole squad… fast forward five months, Messi is part of a team brimming with confidence, with other players who are a danger to take on defenders (Neymar and Iniesta, obviously, but Alba, Alves, Pedro, Alexis and Tello have also been able and willing at times) and multiple threats to score in droves.

        In spite of the whole “Messi is a dictator who always wants to play, always wants the ball, and is chasing goalscoring and individual records to the detriment of the team” media frenzy, to me Messidependencia was more about a hugely committed player trying to pull a team out of the slump by whatever means necessary, and simply not getting enough support and direction from the squad and the coaching staff. Now that he has both, we are again seeing the team player committed to winning football games, above all. And that is really terrifying, because Messi is so much more than a goalscorer. Shockingly, the team does not need goals from him right now, and he can wreak havoc in other, unpredictable ways.

        Hopefully, the squad escapes further injury setbacks and political turmoil this year, and we can fully enjoy the direction this team is taking. I think, on our day, we can compete and do our thing against anyone, and the squad is a talented midfielder and defender away from doing so on all fronts for years to come.

        • January 27, 2014

          See above, Peter. I blame staying up late for Grammy coverage, but I meant Martino would be planning to play Afellay in midfield, rather than Neymar. Though I think Neymar is a gifted mid, he needs to be attacking all the time, up front.

      • PrinceYuvi
        January 27, 2014

        Awesome comment, Peter ) Are you kx’s twin brother ?

        • Peter
          January 27, 2014

          If I were, I’d probably be his evil twin. 😀

  14. andrecito
    January 27, 2014

    A couple of huge plays by senor alba today..saved us on 2 clear goal opportunities..

  15. CuleToon
    January 27, 2014

    According to Bartomeu 5 mins ago in an interview at RAC-1 morning magazine: Freixa will stay.

    Other than that, nothing new from him. By the way, the head of sports at RAC-1 said, without mincing his words, that the price of Ney’s signing should include all entries.

    Now that Bartomeu has left, the «experts» continue with their comments. I’ll keep you informed of any relevant development.

    • January 27, 2014

      Please do friend, please..
      You are like the BFB staff reporter from Catalunya..
      Thank you friend.

      • January 27, 2014

        The information is appreciated. Nobody is an expert, in or out of quotes. We’re all looking for information, and discussing what comes up. In a fluid situation, things that people hear are bound to be wrong, right or some point in between. It happens.

          • CuleToon
            January 27, 2014

            Well, I’m very fond of animals too, and I also see them as little (or big, depends on the species) Buddhas, but other than that… I’m just a veteran soci who happens to be Catalan and lives in Catalunya.

            But I know that, whatever I can tell you, you’ll end up knowing anyway from any other source…

            And I don’t like Will Ferrell at all!

  16. January 27, 2014

    It was incredible, that we created so many chances against 2 lines of 4.
    My man of the match is Alba.
    As Kevin says above, when Messi plays in the creator role, he makes goal scorers look secondary. I am guessing Tata spoke with Sabella, and the latter might have requested him to give him the AMF role as much possible, as a practise for the national team.:)

    My worry – Are we going to look back at the ref situation, a la 2011-12? With Madrid only 1 point behind, do we need to worry about ref as a 12th man, now. Some calls by this ref was atrocious. Is this the guy who is called up for WCup?

    @Kevin – Some of our so called difficult/poor matches – the Overbro one and the Bayern first leg, when we rewatch, it is quite painful.
    There was only one real penalty call – the Pique handball – in the Overbro match, and 2 goals of Bayern were bad offside calls. Some losses to Real Madrid too, its painful.

    • January 27, 2014

      Oh, wanted to say this, I like how our new president presents himself in the box. Seems to be really interested in the match, really human expressions, smiles et all. Seems like a people person. (Rossell kept a blunt face – no disrespect to him)

      • barca96
        January 27, 2014

        Ya I enjoyed seeing him enjoying the match too jsut like Laporta did. Rosell was too political correct although tht’s not a wrong thing as well as they have a gentleman agreement between the presidents not celebrate or show emotions during a match. I can’t imagine being a president 😆

  17. January 27, 2014

    I know it’s too early to tell, but I have been pleasantly surprised by how Messi is accepting his new responsibilities – it remains to be seen if his increased involvement in midfield play is a temporary shift or a live experimentation of the kind of evolution some of us always saw for La Pulga.

    Anyone who has played football knows what it feels like to score goals. And how it does to not score, especially if you are seen as a scorer.

    Messi knows he is the best finisher on the team. But he also knows that, he can be the best Xavi or the best Iniesta. That he can assume the required responsibilities with minimal fuss is a testament to his maturity and self esteem as a footballer. After a long injury layoff and conceding the Ballon D’or to a guy who is an annoyingly stark contrast of himself must have led people to believe that Leo must have come back like a rabid dog, anxious to notch numbers asap. But his calm and quick acceptance to do what is needed for the team has pleasantly surprised me. Still, like I said in the beginning, it might be too early to tell and deduce trends. But this was a general impression I got. In recent years, we have seen a self over burdening of Leo, in that he felt obliged to start plays and finish them. We now have some reinforcements in terms of personnel and confidence in the forward line, but have suffered a sort of thinning of the midfield. Therefore, the sooner, Leo is comfortable to take a step back and influence build up play, control and initiating attacks, and leave the ‘trivial’ job of finishing to the others, the more infinitely dangerous we are going to be. In that, there is no doubt.

    Fascinating to track and witness evolution in so many ways.

  18. January 27, 2014

    The latest, from “As the Barça Turns” (again, nothing definite, just reports from various journalists)

    — Freixa canceled a scheduled meeting with Cases, who wants written confirmation that he will not be pursued/sanctioned by the club. For me, that falls in the “you knew the job was dangerous when you took it” category, even as my views on the club sanctioning him are already known.

    As a consequence, Cases might be waffling on his decision of the weekend, to drop the case. Freixa says now that Rosell has resigned, and the club itself is not part of the case, there is nothing to discuss with Cases. The Consulta Barça group have a presser scheduled for today. Hmmm, wonder what the subject will be?

    — Bartomeu says it’s part of a Madrid plot, and wishes the situation had been dealt with closer to home.

    — Comments from Xavi on the Neymar/Rosell/Cases situation, the first from a player?

    Xavi: “Giving out all the details of a contract is something new. It is confidential. For us [players] it is not so comfortable.”

    Pique and Xavi offered support for Rosell and his “personal” decision, and are backing Bartomeu now:

    Now, I wonder what scurrilous details are hiding in Xavi’s contract. He’s uncomfortable, eh? Probably some choice mushroom futures in there, clauses about the length of the Camp Nou grass and type of hair gel in his locker. Where’s my lawyer!

    — The judge has apparently said that even if Cases drops the case, a decision that he now seems to be waffling on after yesterday saying that he was going to, the case will continue to its conclusion. He mentioned something about the “diversion” of funds that needs to be explored fully.

    — Also, somehow, somewhere, MCM, the folks behind the La Masia facade row, want to involve themselves in the Cases Case.

    — Meanwhile in a REAL revolt, the Racing Santander players have issued a statement saying they will not play the next match unless the president AND board resign. Yow!

    • Peter
      January 27, 2014

      Oh well, what does the socio want. An open letter to the cules:

      “By the powers invested in me, I declare the the soci Jordi Cases, mobile phone number 6 22288668, home address c. Avenida de los traidores 25, to be fully exonerated and I urge all socis and cules to emulate the decision of the board and refrain from any public attacks against the socio in broad daylight.”

      Yes, he knew what he was getting into. Maybe he expected protection and now he’s being discarded because he’s too visible. Or maybe not. I’m just guessing with extreme prejudice. 😀

    • I don’t think there is any benefit for Cases to withdraw the complaint. Remember he took on the powerful, so it’s better to have the court on your side. Having said that an out of court settlement(with no money involved) can be great for both club and him. The management could be angry at him for taking down their master, but should remember continuing this case could only make it difficult for the club.
      “Freixa says now that Rosell has resigned, and the club itself is not part of the case, there is nothing to discuss with Cases. ” – does these guys know anything at all? I believe the money which was involved in the transaction was club’s money not Rosell’s. So in such a case how does the club claim that they are now not involved. In the best case we also could claim that we were deceived by Rosell; but we are definitely involved.

      Xavi: “Giving out all the details of a contract is something new. It is confidential. For us [players] it is not so comfortable.”

      Xavi should remember that there is only limited confidentiality for any financial deal done in a system where are properly placed rules governing those. The confidentiality remains there till you don’t violate those. The club didn’t made these details public because of their love for transparency, they did it because they knew otherwise they could be forced to. They just wanted that upper hand in terms of moral standing so they did. The players would definitely love the confidentiality, but there is nothing confidential here.

  19. January 27, 2014

    And back to the match, lest anyone forget … Jordi Alba! When he hurtled over to the right side of the pitch to snuff out a fire, my comment was “I want to see more of that Jordi Alba.” He has sideline-to-sideline pace, and should use it more. Helped snuff out two clear scoring chances for Malaga, and was calm, disciplined and effective.

    Before anyone points it out, Malaga wasn’t really attacking him directly as many opponents do, so he was free to raise hell. But still, credit where credit is due. I reckon Adriano lit a fire under him.

    Also good to see Sanchez back to his recent normal, playing his best match since Messi returned. Vibrant and active. The whole team played very well yesterday. Have said it before and will say it again: there are a lot of players I would sell before I sold Pedro. Even when he isn’t on scoring form, he is still an exceptionally useful player for the team. As someone said, it’s like having a fullback and a goal-scoring wingback, both indefatigable.

  20. barca96
    January 27, 2014

    Tata must really like Dongou. I can bet my life that Dongou will be the first one to be promoted next season (not because of contract).

    • January 27, 2014

      I would bet that Martino is hoping Dongou will wind up being the 9 he would like to mess around with, for cheap and hassle-free.

      Any 9 of sufficient quality for the club to warrant buying is going to be expensive, pretty much a star and is going to crave regular playing time. Dongou could do a lot of the job, and be happy playing on the first team, whenever Martino needs him as he works his way into the rotation.

  21. January 27, 2014

    Had to share this heelarious Tweet from David Conn, in re: the downgrading of the Manchester United shares:

    Deutsche Bank downgrades Manchester United shares: signing players “not helpful” to “increasing brand monetization”

    So there ya go.

  22. kosby
    January 27, 2014

    we all talked about the players who did a phenomenal job the other day, but lets not forget Tata !

    He picked up a slightly bruised, injured (more pride than physical injury) team at the end of last season with ONLY the addition of Neymar and managed to convert it into this beast we are seeing. Same defenders as last year, but much much less worrisome defence. Wingers are scoring again and we are much less susceptible to “counter-attacks”.

    Remember how several of us were clamouring for a complete overhaul at the end of last season ? And look where we are today.

    I also have a hunch that the way we were defined by false-9 for the last 5 yrs is going to change for the next footballing cycle. Dongou has been training with the first team for some time now…I expect to see him ahead of Messi when we play Man City, either at home or away.

    4-2-1-3 FTW !

    • PrinceYuvi
      January 27, 2014

      Tito, the coach we deserved; but Tata, the coach we needed.

    • Momo
      January 27, 2014

      Dongou starting against city in the CL will never happen.

      • kosby
        January 27, 2014

        He may not start, but he may feature at some point…and by “ahead of messi” I meant in front of him…I messed up..

    • PrinceYuvi
      January 27, 2014

      For a former nike executive, he was too grumpy. What up with that ?

      • January 27, 2014

        Thanks for posting. Was going to get ’round to it. The other one we haven’t heard from is Graham Hunter, who tells me that his is coming “in due time.”

        • Jim
          January 27, 2014

          I’m guessing Hunter will be on Revista tomorrow. Should be an interesting show although he was no fan of Rosell either if I remember. Still, Ballague is always up for an argument so it’ll be worth watching.

    • Jim
      January 27, 2014

      Each to their own opinion, of course, but I’m not really clear where the pro- Rosell bit of the balance was.

    • PrinceYuvi
      January 27, 2014

      Man city play against chelsea on 3rd and 14th February.
      Hopefully mou will mow them down.

  23. Huckleberry
    January 27, 2014

    let’s be honest. I do not care who is president of Barça, as long as the team performs on the pitch and keeps its identity (playing foodball by gifted players rather than playing headball by tall, physically strong monsters). Nobody wants to hear and see Laporta, Rosell, Batolomeu, even an ageing Cruyff sitting on their chairs, making soap operas and pretending to be extremly importent. We want to see players on the pitch!

    • K-cule
      January 27, 2014

      You ought to care, even a wee bit because they form part of the cog responsible for taking care of the club – it’s future, present and keeping with the rich history of the club. A well run club means happy players or quality investments/maintenance of the club personnel <> – which in turn keeps you happy. So sir,the identity and performance you mention are influenced by whoever is sitting on that hot chair. Great leadership accounts a lot for the brand we get to consume. As a not so strong example within the club, look at Eusebio’s Barca B and compare with Pep’s B team. I think the Eusebio’s team trumps Pep’s team quality-wise but Pep did wonders with his team. For now players are leaving us for Sassuolo and what not – says something about leadership in all levels. A good president interested in the brand and continuity in the talent pipeline would fire that coache’s ass, or at least take him to a training school.See how the armchair pres just influenced the brand you’ll be consuming in a couple of years with a flick of his pen? I implore you to take that step to learn and care about the club, be the ultimate cule!

      • Huckleberry
        January 28, 2014

        That’s a point, yes. Because it is sport related!

      • Jim
        January 28, 2014

        I agree with the thrust of your post regarding the caring but I’m not sure the B team is a good example. The leaving has a lot more to do with no vacancies in the first team than any neglect by the President, imo.

      • lea_terzi
        January 28, 2014

        Slowly but surely, Barca is losing some of its edge in the competition for top young prospects. Maybe not through any egregious mistakes on its part, and the near impossibility of breaking into the first team definitely has a role, but I think there’s something bigger at play here. With the new financial fair play rules, and the Barcelona-Real Madrid example of money spent on transfers vs. trophies won, many clubs world over are trying to replicate or one-up our youth development model. Smaller clubs see it as their only chance to compete, while bigger ones are betting on long-term financial and sporting success. Man City and Bayern are poaching our personnel, Arsenal is raiding the youth teams (bye), Chelsea has over twenty players out on loan (lighting up three top leagues), Roma, Udinese and Porto have fantastic scouting networks of their own, hoovering up South American and local talent for the future, or selling at a huge markup. Talented youngsters are in demand, clubs falling over themselves offering them wages, playing time (in the first team or on loan to other top-flight clubs), facilities, mentoring and development. That’s why the new Masia, football schools all over the world, a well-coached B team as the incubator and stepping stone to the top flight, training with the first team, and loan agreements with other well-coached teams like Ajax, Everton and Celta are an important factor in deciding who will be pulling on the hallowed blaugrana shirt in five years’ time, and what kind of football they will play. So, I agree with K-cule: while all the top clubs are investing more in youth development, this is not the time for Barca board and president to care less.

  24. On what basis does the club will be allowed to sue Cases for damages?

    As far as I am concerned, Cases approached the court, the court allowed the case and even found merit in the case, the club then released the details of the deal. Now, what statuary provision allow the club to sue Cases as he looked to have used all the legal routes available to him only? Is there any lawyers here?

    Also the fun part is that it was Bartholomew who broke the confidentiality clause not the court nor Cases. Did the court actually ruled to make the deal public?

    • Jim
      January 28, 2014

      I’m not a lawyer but I would think damages would be out of the question. However, I’m sure the club would be able to think of some fun ways to make his time at the Camp Nou a little less enjoyable.

      • Peter
        January 28, 2014

        They could make his time in Barcelona a little less enjoyable.

        “FC Barcelona would like to show its support to the esteemed socio Jordi Cases in his ongoing legal troubles and urges all supporters loyal to FC Barcelona to show him that FC Barcelona is with him. Megaphones, steel drums and firecrackers available at the office of communication with the socio.”

        And yes, Barcelona could sue him for financial damages in future contracts, emotional disturbance of the players of the team. I’m not sure, I really don’t have time to check it out, but I think somewhere in the statutes are buried clauses that allow the club to terminate the membership of the socio if he’s proven to act against the interests of the club. Just taking his season ticket would be penalty enough IMHO.

        • January 28, 2014

          If the club is going to prosecute Cases for bringing disrepute to the club, and take his season ticket and/or membership, it strikes me that Rosell has a few things to answer for in the “disrepute” aspect as well. And for that matter, why is Laporta still a soci, in the wake of his Great Uzbek adventure, etc?

          Nail them as well, or leave Cases be, is my view. The club has to answer to socis, just as socis are answerable to the club. Cases didn’t bring any disrepute to the club. He asked a question (whatever his motive) was treated like crap then chose a plan b. The rest is history.

          • Peter
            January 28, 2014

            According to substantiated rumors Laporta will be summoned to court, on account of missing 47 million – next week.

            I am not saying the board are going to sue Cases, but that normally they could. It’s not against disrepute, I said acting against the interests of the club. But like I said, I didn’t have time to check it out, I was looking at the statutes to see the length of the term of the president and glimpsed it by chance.

            Against Rosell, first there needs to be proof that he damaged the club’s interests. Careful, because it’s easy to start a witchhunt and once the bonfire is lit it’s difficult to find out whether the woman’s a witch and who supplied the kindling and torch. Not to mention there will be the Central Lechera screaming about “latest updates from Salem”. As of this moment the only deal that comes to my mind that could be considered damaging would be the deal that saw the club buy the adjacent terrain next to Joan Gamper. If the price is above market rates then there may be indications of ill-thought.

            And I have to point out there is a good reason to ask for confidentiality in the 40 million deal with N&N. The Neymars do have an extended family in Brazil. It has happened to less famous people in less violent countries. I really hope we don’t end up using the red shirt, but it’s a possibility.

          • January 28, 2014

            That Laporta stuff is the first I have heard of this. Got anything more?

          • Peter
            January 28, 2014

            Yeah, Kxevin, I´ve been trying to find that article all morning, but as of now the only thing similar was Barto’s answer to a question whether he will stop the “responsability” case against Laporta.


            I’ll try to find it later.

            Just one thing: I don’t remember anymore where I found the contract of Laporta with the MCM people in the internet, but you can download the La Masia platform from And there are links to archived pages. You can see news about the sale from january 2010, then from december(I think) about the repayment. As of now no links(I don’t have the time, I’m late as it is) to the modified MCM contract of Laporta, signed three days after losing the 2010 elections – and in this contract absolving MCM from all costs towards building La Masia.

    • lea_terzi
      January 28, 2014

      Found this over at Totalbarca, quoting RAC:

      Now onto Jordi Cases and the conspiracy of dark forces in Madrid attempting to destabilize Barcelona. As has been a consistent line, Bartomeu said nothing of ill will towards Cases. “What makes us [FC Barcelona] great is that a member can change history. That’s what makes us different. Cases, like all members, is the owner of the club and it is within his right to do what he has done.”

      But Bartomeu was not so kind towards those that have leaked confidential information to the media. “We are not condemning Cases because it was not him who leaked those contracts. When this is over [the legal case], we will look for those responsible. We have a suspicion of who it is. If the evidence we have confirms that, we could lodge a legal complaint of our own against the perpetrator and the media outlets who published this false information.”

      Moving onto the darker elements. “We don’t believe anyone is behind Cases, but in Madrid they allowed him to fly high to hurt us [FC Barcelona].” We are seeing clear belligerence from Madrid against Barça. I think it’s hard for them to accept that we have players like Messi and Neymar, that Barça has dominated these last years. And because they don’t win on the pitch, I think they want to win from behind the scenes.”

      Read more:

  25. psalmuel
    January 28, 2014

    Sanchez-PIQUE*- Tello
    My dream line-up against Levante, who’s in my Play-Pique-at-Cf camp?

  26. Jafri
    January 28, 2014

    Euler was having a conversation yesterday on Twitter about how Martino has a plan but not the right players for it. His suggestion was that we need a lineup where Messi can play false 9 and drop back to a 10 as the game dictates without us having to make substitutions.

    With our current squad, the only way I see that happening is:




    – and I’m not a fan of Iniesta on the wing. Anyone have any other suggestions?

    • lea_terzi
      January 28, 2014

      Another option is Cesc at CF, which is up there with Iniesta on the wing in terms of misusing talent…
      What we could realistically see happen is Messi dropping deep to create, Neymar or Alexis shifting to the center, and the respective fullback providing width in attack. Although, I’m not a fan of Messi in AM with Neymar at CF – they would get in each other’s way and invite the defense to stay compact and narrow. One needs to go out on the wing to give the other space to attack or split defenses.

    • barca96
      January 28, 2014

      Hasn’t Messi been doing this before dropping deep? It’s nothing new.

      • Jafri
        January 28, 2014

        Well, Euler defined it as a difference in roles. From his TL:

        “orientation of play is the difference. As a 10 he’s looking to play the ball to outlets in front of him more than trying to drag the backline out of shape/open up spaces”

        Messi has played behind a 9 before, true, but not with any regularity for Barcelona.

        Good point about Neymar and Messi causing too much congestion in the middle, Lea Terzi, but that’s precisely the sort of thing that cause the oodles of empty space just wide of center in the box that Tello and Pedro have been utilizing in the past couple of matches.

        • January 28, 2014

          Neymar and Messi won’t cause congestion in the middle as long as Messi maintains tactical discipline, as he did once he started playing, vs Malaga.

          Him moving with the ball will create space and move the defense, which will always orient itself to stop the team’s most dangerous player. That player is Messi.

          Messi is, for me, doing what he should have always been doing, which is utilizing the chaos that he causes to create goals. A player doesn’t have to score a goal to create one. 5 goals in the last two games is absurdly productive.

          Also worth noting is that the goals that Messi is creating aren’t difficult goals. This makes them more difficult to screw up.

          For me, there is a lot of overanalysis going into how the club is playing. We have, essentially, a team of playmakers with a few guys who can really score (Pedro, Messi, Neymar). This isn’t to say that the other playmakers canNOT score. Put Xavi or Iniesta in the right position, and they can tap a ball in as well as anyone.

  27. psalmuel
    January 28, 2014

    How about a going from a 4-3-3(false 9) to a 3-4-3(with Busi dropping back to make a four man backine)? I.e


    A/P- Messi- Ney, then




    Alves- A/P- Ney. Better yet (though it may never happen)
    Alves- Smasch- Busi- Alba


    A/P- PIQUE– Ney

    If I can recall correctly, there was a game, Pep played Messi in Mid when xavi was injured

  28. psalmuel
    January 28, 2014

    And I get to successfully bolden a word

  29. Huckleberry
    January 28, 2014

    As far as I remember, Pep sometimes used to play attacking wise an offensive 343 with Messi dropping back to the top of a midfield diamond with Busi/Xavi/Iniesta (Cecs), Alexis shifting to the center as a 9 and Alves advancing to the frontline as right winger.

    Pique was always the plan B forward against parked buses.

    • Jafri
      January 28, 2014

      Never been a fan of the 3-4-3; too vulnerable down the wings and too crowded in the middle.

      Wish there was another way to do this without Alves as a winger but I can’t see how.

  30. psalmuel
    January 28, 2014

    I can recall that Messi played in a 3man midfield in that match while xavi was injured and we effectively played with 3 real forwards.

  31. CuleToon
    January 28, 2014

    That’s a heads-up. This info appears, at least, in Sport, EMD and As. It also appears in Marca, but without mentioning the heart of the matter: That Florentino-Aznar-Gallardón-prosecutor connection in relation to Neymar’s case.

    Sorry, but, for the time being, I don’t have time to expand on this new example of Madrid’s neofranquism in action.

    More to follow sooner or later.

    • January 28, 2014

      RM and Flo Flo have issued a statement vehemently denying any links to the Cases case (I just LOVE typing that), as per the RAC1 mouthpiece, and are threatening legal action if the allegation isn’t retracted.

      Not so easy to glom onto the Bartomeu “evil forces in Madrid” narrative, apparently.

      — Agusti Benedito (no surprise, folks might remember him as the runner-up to Rosell) had a presser today, calling for elections in June, though not officially saying that he is going to stand as a candidate. Probably because he wants to bond with the rest of the opposition, once any likelihood of elections becomes clearer.

      And if this Laporta court action referenced by Peter above happens, that will certainly clear the field for Benedito, won’t it?

      • CuleToon
        January 28, 2014

        Another brief note: This afternoon (CET) I’ve heard a replay of last night denunciation by Xavier Bosch of the alleged Florentino-Aznar (former ultraconservative spanish prime minister, Popular Party)-Gallardon (ex major of Madrid city, ex regional president of Madrid DF, and now minister of justice, Popular Party)-prosecution plot in the Neymar-Rosell case.

        Bosch is a writer, a playwright, and a real heavyweight in Catalan press, radio and TV jornalism ( He is also one of those few people really «in the loop» on all things Barça and, above all, he is no fool: you can be sure that this move by him, as well as its consequences, are very carefully thought-out.

        AFAIK, no news on Laporta’s trial yet…

        Thigs are getting interesting by the hour!

        • January 28, 2014

          Neymar’s father has entered the fray, saying essentially that he could have taken his young’un to the open market this year, and had offers for as much as 120m on the table, blablabla.

  32. barca96
    January 28, 2014

    So Sanabria left Barca B to join a team in relegation zone. I thought he would walk straight into Roma’s first team from the way he is rushing to go to Roma.

  33. barca96
    January 28, 2014

    If Tata would’ve rested Messi more and played the kids more often, I would rate him a A- even if we don’t win anything this season but so far I rate him only as a B- because of those 2 issues.

    I mean, why on earth should Messi still take part in the 2nd leg, AT HOME when we’re up by 4-1??!!

    4 reasons why we should rest Messi
    – Messi is the key to our success
    – He’s been playing non stop since his return from injury. Hasn’t Tata heard of relapse?
    – I think the a league match is more important to play Messi rather than this meaningless game
    – If Tata can’t rest Messi in a meaningless match now, when can he rest Messi next? In a league match? Where we have to win every single game because we have absolutely ZERO room for error?

    Dongou has been training a lot with the first team so why not give him at least 30 mins in a Copa match? What’s the point of having him train with the first team but you can’t even trust him to play against a team that is so far behind us where we got nothing to lose? If you can’t even trust him with that, send him back to the B team where he will actually play.

    Tata is on his way to make the same mistake as Pep and Tito/Roura; not resting key players enough before the business end of the season.

    • January 28, 2014

      Take a deep breath … better?

      — Messi is not the key to our success. Players other than Messi stepping up is the key to our success.

      — When a player returns from injury they will play their way into fitness, so to speak, before returning to a normal rotation. Ronaldo plays every match for RM, and nobody says a word.

      — “Meaningless” games are excellent for training purposes, because there isn’t as much pressure. So fouls aren’t as hard, defenses aren’t as packed, etc. More a high-intensity training match than anything else.

      — Martino has rotated more than any coach that Barça has had in some time. While doing that, he has maintained the high levels of success the team and its oh, so demanding supporters have become accustomed to.

      As for Dongou, we don’t know what Eusebio’s plans are for him. So player can train with the first team because training is training, but be reserved for his real duties.

      Martino can’t be compared in any to Guardiola and Vilanova as regards player rotation. Messi even got a two-month preseason in the middle of the season. He should be fit and ready to play, and a lot.

      Pedro is scoring more, Sanchez has, at mid-season, already exceeded his highest season total for the team. Fabregas hasn’t had his mid-season plummet. Xavi is capering about like he was 5 years younger, Bartra is a ready, effective part of the rotation. The team is still in first place, and finding new, effective ways to defeat opponents.

      — If Messi is in, he works as playmaker/potential scorer.
      — If Messi is not in, the defense doesn’t know where to focus, which creates danger in other ways.

      This season so far, Martino hasn’t put a foot far wrong. Why people persist in trying to find fault with him is beyond me. Let our coach run his team.

  34. Jim
    January 28, 2014

    Ok, Revista was a bit of a damp squib. No Hunter, just Ballague and Marcelino who had nothing to say. Ballague just rehearsed bits of what we’ve been discussing, emphasising withdrawal of backing because President can’t go to court and fed uppness with the effect on family as possible reasons but he basically doesn’t have a clue.

    Interesting point for me was that he doesn’t rate Laporta’s chances as he was bankrolled last time by his father in law and he is now separated so struggling for the necessary money. Interesting that Rosell has packed up and moved to London to live. Not sure what that means.

  35. January 28, 2014

    RAC 1 says no start for Messi tomorrow vs Levante. Puyol, Iniesta, Montoya got the green light. Xavi, Busquets will be rested.

    Martino had an interesting comment about Cuenca, essentially intimating that he has been doing well, and we will see how the market goes. My guess is something will get worked out, loan wise, late in the window for Cuenca. Seems to be no doubt that Afellay will stay, however.

  36. January 28, 2014

    Diario Gol ran a very interesting story on a supposed deal between Bartomeu and VP Carles Vilarrubi. I have translated it here, my apologies for any inaccuracies. It is a great illustration of the kind of back-room machinations and power struggles that happen in these kind of situations. There were even rumours that Vilarrubi was the one pushing Rosell out the door. Original link is at the bottom:

    “After the sudden resignation of Sandro Rosell as president of FC Barcelona, the open crisis within the heart of the Directive Board forced some secret agreements that allow the continuity of Josep Maria Bartomeu at the club with an alleged unanimity. The principal of these is a handshake between the new president and Carles Vilarrubí, Vice President of the Institutional Area, and the only senior manager with the potential to succeed the President who had not signed any of the Neymar contracts.

    The meeting took place after the joint press conference of Rosell and Bartomeu in the Camp Nou in which the resignation was announced. Vilarrubí arrived by plane from Madrid and did not participate in the previous meeting of the board in which, supposedly, the continuation of Rosell was unanimously approved.

    Political contacts

    Throughout the day, the vice president of the Roschtild bank maintained contact with other board members and the leadership of Convergence and Union (pro-independence Catalan political party), very concerned about the possible loss of influence in the leadership of the club, as has been reported by Diario Gol. Dismissing the remaining board members (or dismissive of?), Vilarrubí assisted with a statement for the press. After the conference, he made a pact with Bartomeu for his continuation (as president) but not before imposing certain conditions to avoid a new crisis if he (also) had to resign.

    Although the official discourse and the first leaks to the press talk about a possible concern by Vilarrubí for the open fracture within the club, the fact is that both leaders discussed the electoral calendar, the possibilities for both of them, and who would be the new strong men.

    Above Faus

    Vilarrubí demanded to assume a more central role than he had previously played and for guarantees that another vice president, Javier Faus , with responsibility in the economic area, would not be designated as Bartomeu’s second-in-command on the new “team”, and even less as a possible successor to Bartomeu.

    The investment banker assured the new president that he would give stability to his project until 2016 if these conditions were met. Otherwise he proposed to resign after the departure of Rosell and open a new front in the crisis within the club. Indeed, both Bartomeu and Faus have signed some or all contracts of the Brazilian player and can be called as charged by Judge Pablo Ruz of the National Court. Vilarrubí, however, lies outside the litigation by virtue of the secondary role he has played to date under Rosell’s presidency.

    Candidacy possible

    These designs of Vilarrubí have not entirely ruled out that he could at any time choose to run for the presidency of FC Barcelona. Hence his support for the current president is seen as a guarantee to ensure that he can reach the end of the mandate, as Bartomeu and his closest collaborators intended.

    CiU sees in Vilarrubi’s marriage to Sol Daurella a guarantee that Barça will maintain their principles and will not walk away from the approaches that Catalan nationalists have made in recent times with respect to the largest sports club in Catalunya.

    To maintain this agreement, which was sealed with a handshake, Vilarrubí could even become first vice president of the club, which would increase his relevance in the Board of Directors of the entity.”

    • Nik
      January 28, 2014

      Hm, interesting. Thanks for the translation!

    • CuleToon
      January 29, 2014

      Very interesting, blitzen! I didn’t know about Diario Gol: It seems an interesting site to visit frequently.

  37. Peter
    January 29, 2014

    So, interesting stuff today.

    The “responsibility” case against the two Laporta boards commences today with a preliminary hearing. The total of the demanded penalty payments is 47.6 million over the two mandates, plus a demand agains Zurich ensurance for 25 million, which Laporta signed in his last days of office fo coverage of the risks of his last year in office. I don’t completely understand that last part, but anyway, it has officially started.

    Now here’s one more interesting bit: Bartomeu, Rosell, Moix, and a few others in the current board were members of the 2003 Laporta board before they resigned in 2005. Potentially the trial could be expanded to include them as well, at least for the period until 2005. Those losses were covered in part by the successful later years, but the last season had really big losses, which brings the total to the stated earlier 47.6 million.

    All information is taken from today’s articles in Sport and Mundo Deportivo.

    Curiouser and curiouser…

  38. January 29, 2014

    Finally Hunter has come out

    for me, 3 points stood out.

    However, had Rosell wished fervently to stay, could Neymar Snr not have been convinced to agree to this disclosure 48 hours earlier? – this is exactly what I was wondering…

    But Bartomeu also told the players in so many words that he expected the visit to be the first and last of its type. No presidential interference in the dressing room: precisely the right message, and precisely the right temptation to avoid. – isnt that an excellent message by the new president

    Goodbye, president Rosell. Before you left I wish you’d asked Messi, or Xavi, Valdes, Iniesta or Puyol what it’s really like to put the club first. – mmm, good question

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