Anims, VV!


So Barça played today, and won 3-0. Atleti played today, and won 1-0. RM played today, and lost 2-1. The Liga is ours for the taking, if we just win the final 8 matches of the season.

But I can’t say that I feel like doing much except echoing what Javier Macherano Tweeted, which is “Nothing to celebrate. Get well soon.”

This game is, too often, a kick in the face for those who don’t deserve it.

When Victor Valdes went down under his own weight today after a routine save, one that he has almost certainly done hundreds if not thousands of times over the course of a net minding career, this time it was different. Pictures came out, many speculated but nobody really wanted to deal with the reality of the situation until it was made official by the club: ruptured ACL, with the usual 6-month recovery period.

Pinto came in and by all accounts played very well in a match that I kinda have no interest in watching as much as I want to ask just what in the hell the club that I love so much has done to anger the football fates so? It isn’t for me the injury, and wondering who will replace him, blablabla. I have confidence in our players.

For me, from the human angle, Victor Valdes is a man who for too many years, got nothing but crap from everybody. Exxon Valdes was one of the many mean-spirited jibes that flew his way from people who knew better, people who said that yes, he had gaudy statistics but they were because of his defense — as soon as that defense began to falter, goals were going to start flying past Victor of Butterfingers.

And he kept playing lovely football, kept making brilliant saves, kept confounding his critics. Then when the defense in fact did begin to falter, we began to see Victor Valdes for what he was, which is one of the best keepers in the world.

It stopped a lot of the jibes, as did being called up to the Spanish NT. And for stop after stop, pass after pass, play after play, Valdes kept making liars out of those who said he wasn’t up to the quality of the other players on the star-studded Barça roster, even as he kept saving the team’s bacon.

Then, one day, it all seemed to be enough, and Valdes announced that he was leaving Barça. The club decided that it would keep him rather than trying to sell him, so this summer he leaves FC Barcelona on a free transfer.

And then this happens. Victor Valdes is a fine man and spectacular player who has played his last match for FC Barcelona. In no way, shape or form did he deserve to go out like this, laying on a stretcher, weeping. And even if you don’t know exactly why he was weeping, it’s easy to suspect: Victor Valdes loves this club. Whatever rueful thoughts entered his mind, I can guarantee you that they were banished by the reality he must have been wrestling with as he was carted off the pitch.

This would be his last home match for Barça. He had the Captain’s armband appropriately enough. Life isn’t supposed to do stuff like this.

No, he isn’t dying. No, he doesn’t have cancer as Abidal and Vilanova battle. ACL injuries are becoming increasingly common, and there is no reason to suspect that he won’t return to full form and fitness, ready and willing to be brilliant for another club. For me, that is immaterial. This was nasty.

Valdes came up in the system, so it is impossible not to love this club, whatever the reasons that he had for wanting to leave. His best friend, Andres Iniesta, was subbed out in the second half of today’s match as a “precaution.” It wouldn’t take much speculation to wonder if Valdes had a companion to talk to, a shoulder to lean on as he suspected the worst. Having someone that you love at your side when bad news happens doesn’t make the news any less bad, but it acts as a balm, a salve that soothes life’s cruelty.

This was, after all, the season that people finally, FINALLY started giving Valdes his due. They started noticing the saves that he had been making for years, but spinning a different narrative, that he was good rather than lucky. He had a couple of suitors, but had made no final decision that could be made public and was planning to go the World Cup. Now, when that tournament is on, he will still be recovering from a crucial operation, and figuring out his next steps.

To hell with this crap. It’s nonsense when a player at the top of his form with the world at his feet will be, essentially, jobless in a couple of months. Anybody who was thinking of hiring him will be instead waiting and watching, hoping for a bargain on a gimpy keeper, because that’s the heartless side of this game that we love so.

We should be celebrating having the Liga title in sight, having our eternal rival licking its wounds, slashes made by us reopened by Sevilla. But all I can really think about is what a crap deal life has dealt a player who works like a dog for the team that I love. It isn’t reasonable, it isn’t right, and yet it’s life.

Anims, Victor Valdes.

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Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. Serena Andre
    March 26, 2014

    I wish our players would just get a break already. For the past few seasons it’s just been one blow after the other.

    I can’t believe that after everything Valdes has done for us, this is how he ends his Barcelona career. He’ll also miss what would have probably been his last World Cup. It’s absolutely heart breaking.

    • Serena Andre
      March 26, 2014

      I forgot to add this in my post, but this is the second ACL tear in our team this season. We really do have the worst luck.

  2. March 26, 2014

    Well written. The poor fellow has put up with so much shit from media and fans, the least he deserves is a great send-off. The stress and demands of being Barça’s keeper every day evidently got to him, but that doesn’t mean he can’t leave the club feeling loved and valued by Culés everywhere. Hopefully we can still honour him and give him a proper send-off by winning La Liga, and perhaps more. Anims Victor.

  3. PrinceYuvi
    March 26, 2014

    This has been unfortunate.
    We can’t catch a break.
    VV deserved a better send off than this.

  4. ooga aga
    March 26, 2014

    Can someone plz tell me a happy story about a futbolista that ruptured his ACL and came back to be roughly good as before?

    • Messiah10
      March 26, 2014

      Daniel DeRossi has ruptured 2 in as many years and has come back strong this season. Like Kxevin mentioned above, ACL’s are common place now. The surgery is nearly perfected. It’s the players ability to recover and how his body reacts that is the question. I know VV will come back as good as ever.

      • G6O
        March 27, 2014

        Yes, that’s a good example.

        Basically, if your game is not reliant on speed and acceleration, you can come back just as good as you were before. But if it is, you are in deep trouble.

        In theory, a goalkeeper should be back to his old form, but I just can’t think of any real-life goalkeeper who suffered an ACL injury – they simply don’t get themselves very often in a situations to tear it

    • barca96
      March 26, 2014

      Ronaldo!!!! Twice. Heartbreaking stuff. The 2nd one was in his come back match. Crazy.

      • G6O
        March 27, 2014

        Ronaldo was never nearly as good as before after that. He still won a second WC and a Balon d’Or, but he was half the player he was in the three years before that.

        And then he eventually he ruptured it a third a time and he came back again, but he was a shadow of what he once was at that point.

        • barca96
          March 27, 2014

          Oh no of course he was never as good as he was pre-Inter days but he was good enough to be among the best players in the world. He was just too good back then during his PSV, Barcelona and early Inter days.

          I don’t think such an injury would affect a GK as much as an outfield player so I do hope VV can still perform as well as he does prior to the injury.

  5. Peter
    March 26, 2014

    I am possibly one of the staunchest supporters of the current board and its ex-president(until given sufficient proof of wrongdoing) and I must urge President Bartomeu to be coldly pragmatic and calculating. The next decisions of the board could be vital for both its continued “reign” as well as future precedents.

    If Victor Valdes does not have a signed contract with another club, he must be offered one. It does not have to be a long-termed one, a six-month prolongation of his current one may be enough. It would give him time to recuperate, it would give him the confidence and calmness that would enable his entire focus to be on his recuperation. This action would give an enormous “street credit” to both the board and FC Barcelona as a whole. With the money spent the board would be buying the votes of all the currently disgruntled culers who believe in miracles. Dare to be ridiculous, announce the signing of a second keeper, be the first club having four keepers in its roster if need be. If there’s something we can all agree, it’s that the culerada is the the furthest opposite of rational(as board, staff and team can assert unanimously). But the culerada remembers, maybe late, too late sometimes, but it remembers the loyalty, the perseverance, dedication, and it is very protective of its legends. Bet on those and you will win. This is how legends are born and legacies established. This is how tradition is forged.

    And if you ever wonder why, the answer can be seen from the director’s box at Camp Nou, right across the pitch, on any given day.

    • March 26, 2014

      When the rumors began that it was serious I said that the club should try to renew him for a season.

      Rumor now, growing in vigor, is that Bartomeu offered Valdes a one-year renewal. It would be the right thing to do for all of those self-serving reasons. But it also lets Valdes school Ter Stegen and recover fully. If the rehab goes well, we can move Valdes in the winter window, and everybody wins.

      • Messiah10
        March 26, 2014

        I think that would be fantastic if it is true. I would like to think the Board would make that kinda offer, but their former form suggest otherwise(Abidal). Although, the main conspirator in that crime is no gone. I can’t think of a better learning curve for Ter Stegen than going to the school of Universidad Valdes.

  6. Messiah10
    March 26, 2014

    Absolutely gutted for VV. I feel like crying. No way does he deserve to go out like this. In a WC year as well. When it happened I didn’t think much of it in live time. Ray Ray kept mentioned the ACL and I was hoping it wouldn’t be so. Sadly, very sadly, it is. VV has been so big for Barca that it can’t be quantified in trophies or dollar signs. I feared him leaving the most. Maybe, some day there will be a keeper with his skill set that comes along and reminds us of VV at his best. I just don’t see any that compare to the unconquerable VV. Animos VV. I wish you all the best in your recovery and future career.

  7. barca96
    March 26, 2014

    Weird thing today was the news of the loss of Valdes for 6 months and the news of the loss of my quite big rental deal came within 5 mins of each other. Haih. Double whammy!

    1) Our CL and Liga are in the balance right now without Valdes. Pinto can handle Copa games but I don’t really see him as a season long goal keeper. I love him and I’ve always said that I want him to stay for next season.

    2) Valdes should have been the GK for Spain at the WC. Of course it is not a certainty but Im sure there would be quite some noise if Casillas played ahead of Valdes.

    3) I hope the board will still try to renew VV’s contract and that the latter will accept it. And hopefully after he’s recovered he will truly understand that this club and him are meant to be together forever.

    • G6O
      March 27, 2014

      Pinto did fine in the 6 weeks VV was absent earlier in the season. We should be fine in the league

      But I do not like the thought of him starting against Bayern in a CL SF or a final – such a game would require a VV at his absolute best at passing the ball and he is not on that level in that area

      • barca96
        March 27, 2014

        Yes he certainly was fine but I’d feel much safer with a world class keeper between the sticks, something that Pinto doesn’t give me although he is good.

        VV saved our asses a lot if you think about it, I doubt if Pinto can bail us out numerous times.

        I noticed people don’t find his passing good but I don’t see anything wrong with it. He’s good, probably 2nd best after VV. It’s just that sometimes he goes to the extreme like last night. He had 2 world class saves in one play though last night.

  8. psalmuel
    March 27, 2014

    What if this injury is going to be the reason VV will end his career at barca. Its sad news though but I just wish we win him a UCL and/or la liga so he would come lift the trophy(s)

  9. psalmuel
    March 27, 2014

    So, EE have ‘real defenders’ but still concede goals our ‘false CB’ (Smasch) has hardly conceded. Smasch defiency lies in just his height. Can’t remember last time we conceded on the break. And oh! EE still gets to play Valencia and Real sociedad right? And confident athletico will drop points too but am just hoping we won’t too

    • Laurentiu88
      March 27, 2014

      hehe, how fun it was to see pepe send back to the school yard by rakitic:)

      it was unbelievable how poor rm were in the second period, besides high crosses and shots from outside the box they couldn’t create anything. dormund’s chances look slightly better too.

      i think real players suffered a lot physically, their midfield didn’t look fresh at all. and after the rayo game they play in cl and sociedad in between. the worst part for them is that they look without any real backup.. they run isco totally out of form, jesse which was so energetic is out, varane lacks any game fitness, right side has become a problem for them with carvajal there. and when one adds how poor ronaldo has been since winning his golden ball things don’t look good for them 🙂

  10. March 27, 2014

    This is the worst possible news.
    Absolutely gutted for Victor Valdes.
    Maybe destiny has other plans.

  11. March 27, 2014

    Now, question is, do we get a new goal-keeper for this most crucial stretch of the season, or try our luck with just Pinto and Oier?

    • G6O
      March 27, 2014

      Who would that goalkeeper be? He has to play better than Pinto for such a move to make sense, and this means he has to be better than him and to integrate in the system well (integration into the system actually matters for a GK at this club). Not a lot of options when you look at it this way.

    • Cule
      March 27, 2014

      what are you talking about? We can’t buy a new player at this stage of the season.

      • barca96
        March 27, 2014

        IIRC there is a rule where you can make a purchase if one of your players is ruled out of the season.

        • IamXavi6
          March 27, 2014

          Pretry sure the rule is we can only get a replacememt from la liga..correct me if im wrong though.

          Casillias? 🙂

          • G6O
            March 27, 2014

            Casillas is the only one the ticks all the boxes – world-class quality, and he will integrate perfectly. But it’s never happening

          • barca96
            March 28, 2014

            I guess short pass ability isn’t one of the boxes mentioned G60? 🙂

  12. March 27, 2014

    Inspite of EE losing, I spent the entire day thinking about VV, and how he must feel. I am sure he would have wanted to exit the club of his life on his own terms, on a high, rather than on a stretcher, broken and weeping. This is just a horrible play of fate. Valdes will get his farewell and one that he deserves, because, quite simply he is the best goalkeeper in the history of this club. Just like another captain that will leave us, who is the best defender this club has had.

    But now we must look ahead, not be distracted and get drawn into a space of self pity. Do we sign a keeper to help us finish the season, or rely on a recently recovered, almost 40 year old Jose Manuel Pinto. Seems we don’t have much of a choice. I really hope Pinto is up for it and pumped up to perform, cos we’ll need him to be at his best.

    I’ve always liked Pinto and he has been more than an able second keeper. Personally, I would say that his shot stopping abilities are on par with Valdes. In fact, I would be more confident with Pinto between the posts if we need to save a penalty. That said, This guy just doesn’t inspire confidence with the ball at his feet or with circulation, things VV was a master at, and things we will certainly require in the latter stages of the CL. In our system, the keeper is treated as yet another outfield player, in the way we build from the back. Additionally, Pinto can concede silly goals as well. But now, like Martino said, this team will go on. Has to. And I hope that Pinto will step up and not let us down.

    Visca Valdes!

  13. Sad to see VV’s time at Barca ending like this.

    Can we hire the head scouts of Sevilla or at least can we share them. How are they able to identify all these talents.

  14. Roger Evans
    March 27, 2014

    Thank goodness nobody was at fault in this injury. Because then the resentment would be crippling.

  15. March 27, 2014

    I feel like crying out load. I will never forget two images – how he called out to the bench, going down – his disppointment when the Benzema header went in.

    At least if he can have one game at the full Nou Camp as a farewell with all his mates and family, please. what an unluck.

    The board can get back the affection of the players, that they (might have?)lost by what they did to Abidal, by renewing him for one year.

    We are really unlucky right? The team is getting into peak form, Liga is in our sight, there are chances for a treble and this too..

  16. Jafri
    March 27, 2014

    The amount of crap this team has had to go through in the past few years is unbelievable.

    • March 27, 2014

      It’s true.
      I think success, particularly extended success, breeds envy.
      And the by product of envy is usually hate.
      Some cultures believe in the ‘evil eye’.
      We may have suffered from the same as a result of playing dream like football for so long and winning so much.
      People may say ‘No, shit happens, Life happens’.
      But if it happens all the time, to the same team, then something funky is going on. The amount of injuries Puyol has suffered, the Villa broken bone, Valdes’ cruel blow of fate + the multiple cancer diagnoses and relapses of Tito and Abidal is simply not normal.

  17. Helge
    March 27, 2014


    This is really terrible news for Victor Valdes. I think he knew it from the moment he landed on his right foot. He was not crying for pain, but from his heart and soul 🙁

    And all this happened due to a freekick which, according to the German commentator, was given for a not deliberate handball.
    So much bad luck, life ain’t fair!

    Let’s win the league for Victor.

  18. March 27, 2014

    Let’s kill all that noise about buying another goalkeeper for the remainder of the season. It is situations like this that we have Pinto, a zamora winning keeper himself also (which, playing for Celta de Vigo at the time, is all the more impressive).

    He is a very decent shot stopper and better with his feet than most keepers. I remember two or three situations in yesterday in which he made the right pass, under pressure. In fact, I don’t even remember the last time that he had a bad game.

    Frankly I can’t think of anyone more deserving to safeguard our goal than Pinto.

    • IamXavi6
      March 27, 2014

      I agree. Hes number 2 at a world class club and his performances in the cup and when else he has been called upon has been more than acceptable.

      He clearly is a favourite with the playing squad and while not ideal- he deserves our support and trust to do well in current circumstances.

  19. March 27, 2014

    Excellent words, Kxevin. I haven’t been able to find the desire to watch this match, it’s just too sad. I really hope the rumour about Valdes being offered a 1-yr contract is true, and that he gets to play again for the club. Bartomeu would earn an awful lot of points with me if this happens (although I still think they should have elections).

    I don’t know why people seem to think the club would be allowed to sign an emergency keeper when we have two healthy keepers in waiting. I have my doubts about Oier’s level of performance, but Pinto has shown us plenty of times in the past that he can play at the level we need, and he deserves our unconditional support. And if he isn’t as good with his feet as Victor…well, who is? No one. The team will simply have to learn to compensate for that and not let him get into tight positions with the ball. That is part of their job.

    • March 27, 2014

      In the matches when Valdes was out, Pinto was 10-1-1 with 8 goals allowed, someone noted on Twitter. Pinto is a different keeper than Valdes, more stay-at-home and with excellent reflexes, which we saw yesterday vs Celta.

      If the team continues to play as it has been of late, things will be just fine.

      The latest update is that Valdes’ agent is in town for talks with the club, which lends a bit of weight to that rumor about a one-year renewal offer. We’ll see.

  20. IamXavi6
    March 27, 2014

    Just some news before I goto bed.

    We have confirmed the signing of 17yo Alen Halilovic (take that Spurs and Man U!)

    And Montoya is signing an extension on Friday to keep him till 2018.

  21. March 27, 2014

    Absolutely gutted for VV and the club. Just very, very cruel.

  22. bhed
    March 27, 2014

    Ugh, feel terrible for Victor. Like some have said, I think he would have gotten his shot for this year’s World Cup. Definitely Spain’s most in-form keeper. Obviously not good news for Barca either, but on a personal level for Victor….just crushing.

    While it feels petty to even mention it now, amid many great performances yesterday, Adriano was spectacular – on offense and defense.

    • PrinceYuvi
      March 29, 2014

      That’s not petty at all.
      Those who work their asses off, deserve some accolades.

      VV injury is unfortunate, I don’t feel so confident about our CL chances now.
      VV is much more than a world-class Goalkeeper.

      He’s leader of the backline, an extra passer to beat the press & a wonderful human being.

      Who knows, Pinto might pull some rabbits out his hat.

      At least, He’ll be 100% motivated.

  23. kosby
    March 27, 2014

    Being someone who’s torn ACLs on both my knees I absolutely cringed when Valdes’ knee snapped. I’d almost cried when I tore mine, I cant imagine what he must have gone through…Wishing him strength…and job well done for our team yesterday

  24. Rami
    March 27, 2014

    As i watched victor’s incredible form in this season, I said to myself “It’s these kind of performances that’ll deliver us major trophies”………And then this happens,Agh!!

    Pinto in my opinion is one of the best 2nd GK in the world, And there are many testaments to that, His track record and his reliability all those years, The fact he managed to remain a part of such a highly competitive club like ours even at the age of 38, The fact he managed to secure a starting place in an entire competition in a period that spanned 3 coaches and in a club where any season ending with less than a double is considered a failure.

    He deserves nothing less than complete trust from us fans.

  25. Puppet
    March 27, 2014

    Even putting aside how this affects the team, on an individual level this is the worst possible timing for an injury like this. Valdes is tough, so I’m pretty optimistic that this won’t be career-ending, but he had a real shot at starting some world cup games based on his form, and this may limit the amount of big clubs looking for his signature. At this point, I would agree with othed s that a year-long contract with Barca may best for both parties. Whatever happens, culers owe VV a full show of support and love. Anims, Victor!

  26. March 28, 2014

    Devastating yet again. Eric Abidal has announced his retirement from football, after getting cancer for the third time. [via @messi10stats]. CRUEL, CRUEL, CRUEL.

    • Jim
      March 28, 2014

      My French is pretty poor but even I can understand his denial of the rumours on his Twitter page.

    • barca96
      March 28, 2014

      Heard the news. Barca families are having a tough time right now. Why couldn’t it wait until the WC is done. Sigh.

      So many horrible news for the past week (s) all over the world.

  27. March 28, 2014

    If this is confirmed, then I’ll take a break from watching football for a fortnight.

  28. March 28, 2014

    By having complicating lifestyles we complicate our fates, from 99% perspective it would make more sense for VV to end his career here instead he decided to be adventurous thus making a routine save rupturous. Although i’d still love to see him play in blaugrana colours i clearly kick against his one year renewal because we(ok i) on just adjusted myself to his leaving us and i have high hope for ter stegen who is tipped to replace him. One more year for VV is one more heartbreak and one more accusation as to the real reason for departures… And although valdes has been outstandingly good, save for a few occasions the saves he makes are saves everyother top goal keeper SHOULD make and he didnt do well not to draw criticism as he was pretty much crap prior to the 2006 ucl finals and after that game he returned to being one during the barren 07 season. To me 2010 was the key year in his career as he kept getting better and better. Maybe you seem to blot out the memories of him rolling a pass to attackers clearly not inder pressure or howlers. Although howlers are everyday terms in this game, his actually coursed his repution career path to a U-turn, where people build from scrap to masterpieces… That said, quick recovery VV hope to see you flying high again but you have already dedicated your peak to someone else when we saw your rock bottom…anims!

  29. Valdemar II
    March 28, 2014

    Valdes is very unlucky, ACL tear as a GK + the poor timing.

    Pinto… he is a decent keeper and a good comedian, love watching him dribble opponents’ forwards.

  30. Laurentiu88
    March 28, 2014

    dont like the news that we are talking to napoli about mascherano!

  31. Arafat
    March 28, 2014

    Barca fans always diss mascherano and under rates him. Only Kxevin realizes his worth over here . After mascherano leaves everyone would realize how great a player he is .

    Even though you guys won’t probably realize this because now finally barca board are gonna buy some quality defenders as it seems. but still.

    I mean , come on. Get real . Pique was never the same in last couple or so years as he was in the guardiola time. Mascherano bailed us week in and week out.

    During the copa win of real’s and this recent clasico is the only two games he fell short that too is the reason for his height and nothing else.

    His incredible tackle on bendtner during our last CL win campaign, i would never forget that. He should go anywhere else only then maybe he would get the credit he deserves only then.

    Among Real and Barca team , Masche and Di maria are the two most under rated players.

    • Jim
      March 28, 2014

      Eh, okay. How about you give us some actual examples of Pique letting us down rather than just throwing it out there as if it’s accepted fact? If you do that I’m happy to look for you the occasional example of Masche doing the same.

      Better make it quick though before we sell Pique in the summer and buy a decent CB.

    • March 28, 2014

      Arafat, you shouldn’t get Jim started on Pique vs Mascherano. Best to let that nodding dog lie. Besides, every defender on our back line has come up short at one point or another this season, usually when they are asked to behave like real defenders.

      Look at Bartra against Celta. He was almost playing like a DM. But the few times Celta got into our box, he got a case of the “Duuuuhhhhs.” It happens. But Bartra is a spot-on Barça-style defender.

      I would rather give up goals to set pieces than sacrifice that skill set in our back line. Set piece opportunities are rarer than opportunities to build possession from the back, and have a defender tackle the ball as part of a high line, and feed it right back to a midfielder, or even make the run himself.

    • PrinceYuvi
      March 29, 2014

      Pique won us a Classico.
      So, wrong time to diss him.
      Listen to yourself, Get real.

  32. Laurentiu88
    March 28, 2014

    i am quite nervous about the game tomorrow. there are some problems with iniesta which creates lots of problems ahead of ucl game.

    i hope the team treats this as a final. unlike valaidollid final, that is.

    • I think they take all Catalan derbies seriously thankfully. I’m not too nervous. Xavi was rested so he can play, then we can keep control of the match. It was definitely noticeable the other day how much Sergi Roberto ≠ Xavi or Iniesta, but then again, no one does. I’m still on the fence with SR though.

      Otherwise, our forwards are playing such damn exciting ball these past three weeks, well, I think it will only get better. I really think Tata worked our how to peak our team at the perfect time.

      Also @Arafat: Though lot’s of people have been anti-Masch the past couple of weeks, I think he gets a lot of support here. He has had some amazing matches this season. That being said, his lack of height can sometimes be a problem. I’d like to keep him to switch out Busi, who plays a lot (though he has too). Nothing against Song, but I’d prefer Masch. Pique, on the other hand, has showed up to play in every big match this season. No one is without errors, but he is having a better season than last year without a doubt.

      • ciaran
        March 28, 2014

        To reply to the recent posts together,
        I’m confident going into the Espanyol match because we are better than they are and the match means everything to us. I’d imagine that the team will be even more focused on winning for Valdes as a final farewell.
        In terms of playing, as above Xavi being rested is a great and was a very good call by Tata. There’s no doubt that a midfield of Xavi Busquets and Cesc is good enough to win games for us especially with the form of our four main forwards.

        On Masch, I think people have very high expectations of Barca players and being world class isn’t enough for people. If he was 5 inches taller then he probably would have prevented the two Benzema goals and it isn’t wrong to hope we learn from our mistakes and hope that we sign players that may be an upgrade to our current defensive options.
        I for one hope that Masch is kept for next season even if we do sign two defenders.

        My choices for defensive signings would be Mats Hummels and Mateo Musacchio. Having the option to have Masch as cover for the DM position is also good but he is never going to be my first choice ahead of Busquets.

        • Yeah, but I think he’s better than Song, especially because Masch is a leader, and he can play enforcer even without the inches! I’m not anti-Song either. I mean, he’s a great player, but I’d sacrifice him for more defensive depth IF we were to keep Masch. One of those two need to stay.

  33. March 28, 2014

    A couple of quick things:

    — Alex Song is a complex player, and one of those players whose good play is greeted by the sound of crickets, but if he so much as ties his laces incorrectly, watch out. There is a player like that most years, so observant culers have gotten used to it.

    He will be sold this summer, and will not be missed by most, even as what he brings to the table is of value.

    — If the club sells Mascherano, someone needs to have his head examined. Many here aren’t fans of his play, but he would be captain material if he was Catalan. In the context of a traditional defender, he is wanting, as are all of our defenders. In the context of a Barça defender, which is more like a glorified DM, he is on the mark.

    He is never, ever going to defend aerial balls like a taller, traditional defender. Neither did Puyol, who happened to blessed with extraordinary leaping ability which saved him time and again. Pique is a taller defender, and doesn’t defend aerial balls all THAT well. Stick a Gary Cahill in our back line, and all those traditional defender troubles would go away. So would notions of a defender being an integral part of building play from the back and pressing forward with a high line.

    But people don’t want that. They want a tall defender who leaps like Puyol, has the foot skills of Busquets and the positioning/aerial ability of a young Rio Ferdinand. If the club finds that defender, I will myself jet to Barcelona and sprinkle rose petals at his feet, for he will be from Heaven.

    • morph73
      March 29, 2014

      The last para just made me laugh… Spot on assessment of the high expectation of the fans…

    • Jim
      March 29, 2014

      Mascherano would be captain material if he could play CB well, nothing to do with Catalan, just as Pique would be an obvious choice if he had a more aggressive personality which he doesn’t so no point in wishing things were different.

      Not sure where your evidence for Pique not defending high balls well comes from, Kxevin. I seem to recall last time you accused him of being no good in the air he scored with a great header from a corner the following week 🙂 and it has been quiet since then. Puyol was an exception in that he was never vulnerable in the air because as you say he has an amazing leap. He also knew when to leap into someone when necessary which is my only quibble with Masche for Benzema’s first goal. However, our problem with Masche couldn’t have been better illustrated than in the Clasico. Pique sent to mark Ronaldo? Okay, Benzema make sure you’re the opposite post and there’s an easy header waiting.

      I’m sounding like I’ve a bee in my bonnet about Masche. Tbh, I think where we are with him is as a result of Guardiola’s failed attempt to play three at the back and fill as many positions as possible with midfielders. Masche should only have been a CB in a dire emergency and that I could live with. I’ve never questioned his bravery or attitude but he’s not quick or tall, he’s impulsive and a liability at the top level.

      Still, if I’m wrong and Masche is the first name on the team sheet every week Pique will be on his way in the summer and Spain will be using one of their many other top defenders instead of him in the WC. I’m happy to wait and see.

      • Arafat
        March 29, 2014

        Masche is not QUICK?

        I give up. Not argue with you anymore.

  34. Arafat
    March 29, 2014

    I know Kxevin but Overall Masche takes a lot of undeserving shit since the day 1 he was signed. I simply don’t get it how ignorant people can be. Masche is a leader, a bed rock.

    and about Defenders, Did any of you guys notice Federico Fazio against Real Madrid? Although i am not sure about his passing skill but man he is a MONSTER this season. He literally made cristiano,benzema and co. his bitch. He was winning aerial balls with such ease like spartan gods (i think he did not miss a single aerial ball or lost any aerial duel) and was tackling like an old school italian.

    One of the best CB performance in the last few season from Fazio. Nevertheless Musachhio might be more suitable for us.

    • March 29, 2014

      I wouldn’t say “ignorant.” Puyol has set a very, very high bar for the position. Now that his marker has been thrown down, it’s difficult for anyone. Pique has been bashed as well, and people have rushed to his defense.

      I just think that if you look at it objectively, a player is rarely as bad or as good as culers allege. Although if Iniesta continues scoring goals, he will be every bit as good as culers allege, it must be added.

      • Arafat
        March 29, 2014

        Iniesta Baffles me all the times. His shooting is so poor yet at the crucial moments he scores goal which top notch seasoned striker would find it difficult to score, with such accuracy and calm.

        I bet Cristiano would have had only 5-6 goals against barca rather than 12 had puyi was fit.

        Pique has been bashed they said, well said ! He had been out of the stride for a long while. This season is not a bad one for him though.

      • Jim
        March 29, 2014

        Iniesta ‘s recent shooting prowess is interesting. It brought to mind. a player who used to play for my hometown club who had the most cultured left foot I’d ever seen as a boy. However, his shooting was naff and a joke among us in the East stand. Until Sergi Baltacha ( some of you may remember him) came to the club, made a comment about how anyone with that sense of timing should use that foot to place accurately and try shooting with their poorer foot. Overnight change and it was as if a weight had been lifted. I’m wondering if Tata has said the same thing to Iniesta whose right foot shooting was generally awful ( Chelsea aside ) and who before his recent goals had a couple of really accurate pile drivers earlier on in the season with his left as well. If he can add that he is undoubtedly the second best player in the world for me.

  35. Arafat
    March 29, 2014

    what the son of a biscuit 😀 sign Fazio and Musachhio Both.

  36. Jafri
    March 29, 2014

    Just wondering, who was our most recent long serving non-Catalan captain?

    • March 30, 2014

      Not sure what you mean by “long-serving”, but Luis Enrique was captain before Puyol, and he is Asturian. And in the 90’s we had Munoz and Bakero, neither of whom is Catalan.

  37. March 29, 2014

    Son of a … Fox Sports could mess up sex. As of right now for most U.S. viewers, the Barça CL match will NOT be shown live next week, unless you are one of the 12 people who have Fox Sports 2. Bayern vs United is on the main Fox Sports, probably because of the United name recognition.

    First actual broadcast I can find is a delayed one, on Friday morning.

    • Laurentiu88
      March 29, 2014

      i was just wondering, you there in US still watch the games on tv? most people i know have given up on tv all together, games are watched online on regular basis. even tv’s broadcast them online as well, 99% of the times free.

        • Jim
          March 29, 2014

          Agreed, although is more seducing than mine if I recall.

          Can’t beat watching footie on a decent sized TV in HD. Even if I do hate Sky.

          • G6O
            March 29, 2014

            That’s true. But it does not outweigh the negatives of watching TV

      • G6O
        March 29, 2014

        I personally haven’t lived around a TV set for almost a decade now. And I have hardly missed a game.

  38. March 29, 2014

    XI: Pinto, Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba, Busquets, Xavi, Fabregas, Messi, Pedro, Neymar.

    • justdoit94
      March 29, 2014

      i dont like espanyol this season. RM barely won 1-0 and same goes for us..
      I expect one tough game where espanyol will defend resolutely

      • Jim
        March 29, 2014

        For me a lot could depend on Neymar. He has had a few games now to get match sharpness back and he is a dude with a whack to prove at the moment.

  39. ciaran
    March 29, 2014

    Neymar has been very close on a few occasions. He has been our best hope of an opening goal so far.

    Espanyol are playing really physical. Hopefully we can get a couple of goals to kill off the game early in the second half.

    • G6O
      March 29, 2014

      Both him and Messi missed numerous chances, but they were all of the kind that look much better than they really are, i.e. you are close to goal but you don’t get a chance to properly adjust your body and make sure you get a good shot. Normally we would be a one or two goals up, but no luck so far. And that’s a reason to worry – when we miss a lot, we tend to lose points

  40. Valdemar II
    March 29, 2014

    Fine kickboxing display from Espanyol. Tough second half awaits, but I think we are creating enough chances.

  41. March 29, 2014

    God I hate games like these, too many chances being wasted and they look dangerous on the counter. Neymar is looking like Sanchez early last season. Too hesitant, doesn’t seem sure of himself when he gets the ball and thinking too much in front of goal.

    This second half is crucial. If we can bag these 3 points the league is going to be very close. Need to get Messi into the game a bit more, hopefully Espanyol will start to tire soon and more spaces will open up. Just need to take those damn chances!!!

  42. ciaran
    March 29, 2014

    Dani Alves made the most stupid foul on Sergio Garcia. Busquets had shepherded him wide and he was going nowhere with no support. In runs Dani and just barges him over to give away a freekick and a chance to swing a ball into our box.
    As it goes, it came to nothing but defensively Dani Alves makes a lot of terrible decisions.

  43. ciaran
    March 29, 2014

    Pedro is having a very below par match. I would like to see Alexis on for Pedro as soon as possible

  44. barca96
    March 29, 2014

    It looks like Simao is really into hurting someone today. 2 challenges within 5 mins of each other going straight to the ankle.

    No yellow so I expect him to continue doing it.

  45. Valdemar II
    March 29, 2014

    Penalty mm very good. Iniesta should have come on at half-time by the way.

  46. ciaran
    March 29, 2014

    So Neymar was again a difference maker but again I’m not expecting him to get the headlines as Messi converted the penalty.

  47. ciaran
    March 29, 2014

    We should definitely win this now with their keeper sent off and an outfielder in goals.

  48. barca96
    March 29, 2014

    If pinto was injured after banging into the post last Wednesday, I would have loved to see Messi in goal 🙂

  49. justdoit94
    March 29, 2014

    this is a stadium where titles are won/lost..
    As for espanyol, their gameplan has absolutely no place in football. They are even more violent than mou’s rm or atleti

  50. Laurentiu88
    March 29, 2014

    the ref was absolutely mediocre in allowing the huge number of hard fouls…

    still, he could have given a penalty at masche early on… good that didnt happen..

    i think in this game more than any other we could see the difference between neymar and pedro. it was a reminder of the bilbao game where neymar was again fouled on and on.

    all in all, this was a giant result for us!

  51. barca96
    March 29, 2014

    I know it’s a cliché but these are what champions are made of. Our toughest match away match left and the 2nd toughest after the the very last day against Atletico.

    Hopefully the guys aren’t too bruised by this match and will recover in time for Atletico.

    However it was really disappointing not to see the team attacking the goal more knowing that an outfield player is between the sticks. In addition to that, we had an extra man. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that there is a higher than average chance to score a goal with an outfield player in goal.

    • Laurentiu88
      March 29, 2014

      i think tata showed he is inclined towards a risk adverse strategy.

  52. HisR0yalFlyness
    March 29, 2014

    Good Win. But cmon the keeper is off and nobody shoots from the outside? Seriously? I would have expected at least a couple shots to test him. ridiculous.

    • G6O
      March 29, 2014

      The priority was to maintain possession.

      • barca96
        March 29, 2014

        I would usually agree to maintain possession in such a tough game and we only have a 1 goal lead but they had an outfield player between the sticks. Cmon. Take shots! Any! He will miss, fumble or just make an awkward catch. It doesn’t hurt to try.

        • HisR0yalFlyness
          March 29, 2014

          Exactly! Anything on target with a bit of pace is probably going in with that kind of situation. At least try once or twice.

  53. March 29, 2014

    Crazy tough game. Really happy with the three points, not to mention playing 4 hours before Atleti and Madrid. Puts lots of pressure on those guys.

    Think Tata waited way too long to make subs (should’ve been 60th minute or even earlier). Other worrying thing is Neymar’s form. He looks a shell of the player we saw in Oct-Dec. We can no longer blame his layoff from injury since he’s had plenty of time to work himself back. He lost the ball about 10 times today. I think it may be time to bring him off the bench for the good of the team (I’m aware that will hurt his confidence even more but right now we can’t be nursing off-form players for their ego).

    • Nik
      March 29, 2014

      I was about to say the same re: Neymar. It’s definitely tough for forwards to integrate into Barça their first year, and I sympathize with Tata’s efforts to keep Neymar’s confidence up. Because when Neymar is on, he’s the only other player outside of Messi and Iniesta who can create magic out of nothing. But like you said, his form right now is so poor that it’s hurting the team more than helping. I’d rather see a starting front three of Pedro – Messi – Alexis and then bring Neymar in as the supersub.

  54. NuttyBuddy792
    March 29, 2014

    Good afternoon. I’ve been a longtime lurker for nearly 3 years now, finally decided to come out of the shadows to comment. The fact that Barcelona got 9 points over 6 days is key to winning the La Liga title. The woes of Hlebruary seem to finally be over and the treble is still within grasp. The only concern I have would be Neymar. I understand he’s a great player with potential and getting minutes with the team is important, but he simply isn’t a Barca player. I like the guy, but he needs to stop losing the ball so much. I understand that he’s dangerous one on one and draws the defense out, which opens up precious space for La Pulga and the Illusionista to work their magic, but I’m not completely sold on Neymar just yet. Visca Barca!

    • ciaran
      March 29, 2014

      What I would say is that Neymar certainly has the attitude of a Barca player. He has incredible skill and is willing to try things but he doesn’t know when to try things and when to play the simple pass.
      The worst thing that could happen to him is that he turns into Pedro and plays a backyard pass every time he is faced with an opponent.
      If you were to use the amount of times a player gives the ball away in our system as to how successful they are then Messi is the player who loses possession most in our squad. Statistically Messi is dispossessed 2.2 times per match, Neymar is at 1.7.

      Players like that give the ball away more than others because they dare to take on players 1-on-1 on even 1-on-2 at times.

      The other thing that I would say is that when we first bought Samuel Eto’o he wasn’t a Barca type player and we all know how that turned out.

      Have faith…

      • scribblez
        March 29, 2014

        Though it was frustrating to watch him loose balls and those horrible finishing jobs, he again proved to be decisive.

        In the last three matches, with all the hate Neymar has been receiving in the interweb, he has scored two goals, provided two assists and got two crucial match changing penalties. Hugely decisive.

        Like the classico, today also I thought Tata kept Neymar for too long and was wondering why on earth he isn’t subbing him. In both the games, his faith on Neymar and the gamble was rewarded by decisive penalties. I was very happy to be proven wrong both the times.

        Hope they fight like this till the end of the season!

        • Valdemar II
          March 29, 2014

          Neymar, before his injury, was substituting for Messi and played prodigiously. He’s been poor since his return but who could doubt his potential for this side?

          • NuttyBuddy792
            March 29, 2014

            I have no doubt that Neymar can be decisive and his contributions to these three games were invaluable to the team getting all nine points. I’m trying to be patient with Neymar, I really am, because I see the potential as much as youse guys do. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I want Neymar to pass back more. I don’t want him to become a Pedro and pass back all the time, but he could stand to use his teammates more on the wings. There were a couple of times during the Clasico that Neymar ignored Alves’ overlap and tried to take on three M*drid defenders by himself, something I’m only comfortable with Messi doing, because he’s Messi. Like you said, we’ll have to wait and see

  55. NuttyBuddy792
    March 29, 2014

    Unfortunately, I live in the States and couldn’t watch the game at work, so I’m curious; why was the red card against Espanyol’s keeper (Casilla, I think?) initially for fighting (according to, which I know is a dubious site for reliable soccer updates), then later for handball against Messi outside the box? I’m guessing human error at work here, but I’m not sure. I know the game was super physical (could almost put Mo’s M*drid to shame), but fighting?

    • ciaran
      March 29, 2014

      He handled the ball outside the box when Messi tried to lob him.
      Funnily enough, their goalkeeper was sent off for handling the ball outside the box and the player that went into goals afterwards was the player who handled the ball inside the box for the penalty.

    • March 29, 2014

      Before the start of the season, I had wished that the board makes up for the sale of Thiago with an acquisition of an Ilkay or an Isco. I’ll take the Ilkay capture, a year later.

      • Serena Andre
        March 29, 2014

        He’s a wonderful player and I would normally be excited about this, but he’s been injured forever. He hasn’t set foot on a pitch since August 2013.

  56. Laurentiu88
    March 29, 2014

    atletico looked so so good tonight. it will be such a hard game on tuesday…i will take any positive result from that game, but will be calm only with 3 0 🙂

    wow ronaldo does his annoying scoring routine, ‘i am the man’ sort of… i wonder why he didnt do the ‘calma, calma’ routine too? 😀

    rayo looking very nice! i hope xabi gets his fifth yellow tonight 🙂

  57. Laurentiu88
    March 29, 2014


    it’s more then 100 mil $$$, it’s simply priceless….

    Bale all alone with the keeper and hitting the grass and tripping!!!

    i know it’s mean, but it’s just lovely. couldn’t help it.

  58. psalmuel
    March 29, 2014

    EE could keeping on beating minnow teams 500-0 but it doesn’t matter at all once we win the 7games left. They’ve always come up short in big games

  59. Valdemar II
    March 29, 2014

    “EE” scoring a hundred goals against suicidal Rayo, Mudrid aren’t even looking good, this performance won’t cut it even against crippled Dortmund.

  60. Cule
    March 29, 2014

    Well, seems like we got extremely luck today. I didn’t see the match but that penalty call was terrible haha. But that’s how it goes we aren’t the only team to get free points.

    With 7 games to go, it’s obvious that every game is important. Usually in la liga, a draw is a loss. But right now, the most important thing is to not lose. We can afford to go 5-1-0 before facing Atletico. As long as we stay within 3 points of them we will have a good chance on the last day. A draw would keep us ahead of RM too.

    I just really hope the players keep this in mind, one draw keeps everything in our hands, while a loss would mean we need other teams to take points from both RM and Atletico. RM have only 1 tough match left this season, and that is next week at Real Sociedad. If we end up behind them at any point it’s most probably over.

    • Serena Andre
      March 29, 2014

      That was a blatant handball and a correct penalty. But I agree, we got lucky. Lucky that someone didn’t get injured considering all the disgusting challenges Espanyol got away with.

      • G6O
        March 29, 2014

        We did get lucky to an extent. The Mascherano situation in the first half was a penalty for Espanyol – it was completely unintentional but it did stop the Espanyol player from moving towards the goal with the ball.

        And our penalty, while completely legitimate, was also very lucky, because the situation was just inches away from being a Neymar handball before it became a defender handball.

        But then we had 4-5 chances in the first half of the kind that you would on average expect at least 1 or 2 to go in, and we were unlucky not to score. So in the end the result is fair – we played better, created more chances, eventually won it.

      • Cule
        March 29, 2014

        From what I’m seeing, the ball hit Neymar’s hand before the Espanyol player.

        • ooga aga
          March 30, 2014

          No. It came off his chest. His arm was tucked in to his body but didn’t touch ball.

          • Jim
            March 30, 2014

            Just been sitting re watching both incidents on big TV in HD and I can’t tell in either case so the ref’s not gonna be able to. You could say we got lucky as both decisions went against Espanyol but hey, in this season of all seasons we’re due a bit of luck. The Masche incident wouldn’t have happened at all but for Neymar getting in the road of Masche as he tried to clear it . What I would say is that I’m amazed Masche still gets away with “you can’t give a decision against me because I’m injured ” ploy. It’s a bit embarrassing.

            Overall, given their determination to stop us by whatever means that has to go down as a decent result, plus Iniesta got some rest.

            It’ll be interesting to see the midweek lineup after this. Neymar, Cesc, Pedro and Alexis must all be wondering who’ll get the nod.

            Last thought is whatever has happened to Bartra? Has he done something in training to disappear so completely? We’re not even giving him a handful of minutes at the end of games so I hope we don’t end up playing him without any match time. Maybe Tata will get Pique to get his fifth yellow out of the way sometime soon ?

          • March 30, 2014

            Bartra started and played the entirety of the Liga match before this one, and was excellent.

          • Jim
            March 30, 2014

            You’re right, of course, Kxevin. My bad. I have almost no recollection of whether he was good or otherwise, which in the case of a defender is usually a good sign.m

          • March 30, 2014

            Jim, he was to my view, an ideal Barça CB. DM qualities and sharp in the box, mostly. High line, fast getting forward and back. I still wonder about his suitability as an RB.

  61. March 30, 2014

    Luck. Nonsense. Luck is generally a fortunate outcome of a situation that someone creates. If Neymar isn’t the player that he is, that situation never happens, and no penalty. Same with the Ramos red.

    As for it being a “soft” penalty, a rule contravention is like a light switch: on or off. Either it did or it didn’t. The notion of a “soft” penalty needs to be dispensed with.

    As to the Mascherano situation, it apparently was not ajudged to be a rules violation, and that’s that. People calling him out for feigning injury to avoid sanction have clearly missed the time after time that a player has tried such a thing, only to have the ref wave a yellow card at his prone, writhing form. Had he broke the rules, he would have been penalized.

    It was a hard-fought win over a nasty, nasty opponent who was allowed to be physical. Let’s enjoy that without straining to dissect reasons that it could/should have been otherwise/x or y player isn’t my favorite so he was the problem.

    Big, and necessary win in what will be the most difficult Liga match until Atleti at season end.

  62. ciaran
    March 30, 2014

    We get more penalties because we force more tackles in the box due to spending more time in the opponents box. It is that simple. Pedro should have had a penalty too even though I think he had a poor game.

    I don’t believe that winning last night was lucky. We outright deserved to beat them and if we had been lucky Neymar would have scored a couple of goals like he did a few days ago and Pique’s shot would have went under the bar.

    We have 7 league games left and if we win them we are champions. If Atletico get to the last game with a point advantage over us then that last game will be one hell of a game but I’d still bet that we can win that match.
    The CL matches will be a good indicator of their mental toughness ahead of the run in. I fancy Atletico to continue to make our life difficult on Tuesday night but we should be able to win that match too.

    Tough and exciting times ahead

    • Jim
      March 30, 2014

      Hang on, guys. I didn’t say we were lucky to win, I said it was possible to argue that as the two big decisions ( GK sending off was stonewall ) went our way. On another day away from home we could have had a penalty awarded against us and had handball given against Neymar and I’m not sure we had it in us to score apart from that. It has nothing to do with Neymar getting in to that position ( that wasn’t luck) and everything to do with whether or not he handled it before the defender ( the fact the ref saw it our way could be said to be).

      With regard to Masche my point was that he was played into the situation by Neymar so no blame attached but that imo yet again he got away with feigning injury when as you rightly point out others have been yellow carded. Have a look at him only a minute later running completely freely. You don’t run off a knee injury that is so painful it requires you to beat the ground and writhe that quickly or completely.

      • ciaran
        March 30, 2014

        I accept that Masch is going to divide opinions.
        He has a very unique set of skills and fits our system well enough. He also makes some bad decisions and is terrible in the air.

        I don’t believe that he is irreplaceable in our squad though. If it is true that Napoli want to spend good money on him then I would accept it if we sign two world class natural defenders. If we sign someone like David Luiz and pretend that he is a better defender than Masch I won’t be happy.

        Carles Puyol was a terrible footballer when he was younger. His ball control was awful and his passing still isn’t one of his better attributes. He made the right decisions with the ball at his feet and that was enough to be successful in our system.

        • March 30, 2014

          Not you directly, Jim. Just a general tone. Whenever I want to address someone directly, I will say “@Jim,” or whomever.

          I more wanted to address a general tone. I was over the moon that we won, however it happened.

          For Mascherano, buying 2 CBs means that we gain a world-class sub for Busquets, who then doesn’t have to play himself into the ground. From all the rumors, seems clear that Mascherano will be sold this summer. And we still won’t have a reliable player that allows Busquets to be rotated.

          We do have Song, but Song isn’t a DM, which is why he will also be sold. We don’t need another mid, even one with his size and strength.

          • Jim
            March 30, 2014

            Thanks for the clarification, Kxevin. The delight was shared by me. You can’t and shouldn’t , argue with an away derby win, ever ! As I’ve said often before I’m also with you on Masche as a sub for Busi when needed. Don’t know if his feet are quick enough but he is entitled to the shot at it that he never really got. His attitude and effort for us have never been in question.

            However, like you I suspect we will be building up a war chest with the sale of at least two or three of the first team squad this summer. As well as the obvious candidates I can see a combination of any one or two from Masche, Song, Alexis , Pedro (more unlikely) and even , just possibly, Cesc who might decide to opt for an easier life ruling the roost in the Man U midfield. We have to pay out big bucks for a GK (done deal), a CB ( what about the ones who went for big bucks last year to deny us – are they all holding down a first team place ? ) and a striker – who will still have the same problem any striker would have in our system. The problem there is that Pedro who I regard as a good finisher can’t seem to get into the right positions and Alexis who I don’t regard as a natural finisher has seemed to be there at the right moment for tap ins this season. So what exactly are we looking for in a striker if they have to play wide ?

  63. ciaran
    March 30, 2014

    Only at Barca could you be in with a chance of a quadruple at the end of march and be talking about a major overhaul of the playing staff and firing the manager. Crazy

    • Jim
      March 30, 2014

      The problem is that if you want to stay at the top you have to make the changes at the right time. You could argue that these are all signings we should have made over the last couple of years. Whatever, with Puyol and Valdes going, two big signings are required immediately and we can’t get a first team player for much shy of €40. If you want the top signings you need to do it while you are on top. I wonder just what Moyes can manage in the summer without CL to tempt.

      Am I missing something? After Liga, Copa, and CL what re we still playing for ?

      • Jim
        March 30, 2014

        Also, I haven’t heard anyone seriously talking about sacking Tata, not even on Revista. More worrying that he might walk. I don’t know about him long term but he has earned another year at least and he says he will fulfill it so even if we win nothing I don’t think the board will pull the plug.

  64. TITO
    March 30, 2014

    Why should either of Masch, Alexis, Pedro be sold? Someone care to explain?
    Absolutely should not even be thinking about selling Masch, or Alexis, or Cesc, or Pedro. Song can leave, cause Masch can take that spot once a CB is signed.
    And who are those two CB’s this summer? Hummels? David Luiz? Mangala?

    • ciaran
      March 30, 2014

      I have already made my suggestions for defensive signings, Hummels and Musacchio.
      David Luiz is a good footballer but a very average defender.
      Mangala will cost a lot, as does anyone who plays for Porto.
      Hummels is genuinely world class and is as good with the ball as he is without it.
      Musacchio is not as good with the ball as Pique or Hummels but is much better as a pure defender and is still able to complete all the simple passes. He was superb when we beat Villarreal this season and even bagged himself a goal.

  65. ciaran
    March 30, 2014

    The Tata being sacked thing was all over the Spanish papers about 3 weeks ago after the run of bad results including reports that we were looking at a fairly wide range of managers. I never saw it happening unless something drastic happened.

    Making changes at the right time is almost impossible at a club like Barca. Any changes are immediately questioned and it really takes at least a season to know if they were successful to any degree.
    The transition period between arrival of new players and their integration into the system in place is never allowed for. Just ask Isco.

    In terms of player sales, I am not advocating but I wouldn’t be surprised by the sales of any of Alves, Masch or Song from the first team and the more obvious sales of Tello, Cuenca, JDS & Bojan.

    I would like 2 natural central defenders and if Masch is sold then a defensive midfielder. I would also like a more natural central striker.
    The issue really is that anyone good enough to play for us either 1 already does or 2 costs a truck load of money.

  66. Jim
    March 30, 2014

    Depends who you ask 🙂

    As I said previously for me the only way I’d keep Masche is as a sub for Busi at DM, Alexis although can’t fault his work rate isn’t a natural scorer and can’t beat a man, essential for a forward against a parked bus imo and Cesc I have a feeling might walk if he can’t impose himself on some of the games left. He would be worshipped again in the EPL and takes some flack here. Not looking to sell him. Pedro is only in that list in the interests of fairness. He has been no better than Alexis this year. I keep hoping for him to turn things around and he has shown some signs recently but overall not a great year. The issue is that these are pretty good sellable assets. We’ll not make much out of Cuenca, Affellay, Bojan or Dos Santos. Not suggesting they’ll all be sold but all will be looking over their shoulder.

    If you accept we are going to make two or three purchases and going to bring back either Rafinha and/or Deulofeu and add to that the fact that Bartra, Montoya and Adriano will be looking for major time, though, you have to accept there are a lot of other players in our first team who wouldn’t therefore be happy spending most of a season on the bench. That’s without mentioning any of the current, or recently purchased Masia candidates who would be looking for time after next year. Difficult decisions but at the moment only my opinion.

    • ciaran
      March 30, 2014

      It would be great if we could find early buyers for all of Cuenca, Afellay, Bojan & dos Santos.

      I think we should sell Song, not because he isn’t a good player but the likes of Man Utd would be delighted to get him and we’d get similar money for him to what we paid. Busquets is going to start every game he is fit for so having a €20m man on the bench and not using him is a waste.

      Tello hasn’t really progressed and isn’t better than Neymar, Pedro or Alexis so if we do sign someone else up front he will be gone.

      Deulofeu would be better off with another season on loan as he still makes the wrong decisions 90% of the time.

      Rafinha is probably coming back according to our president so signing any midfielder who isn’t a DM is very unlikely.

      Cesc I can’t see being sold as I went into detail in the last post. With Xavi getting older selling one of the best midfielders in the world makes no sense whatsoever. He does need to be rested in my opinion as has been in a rut for the past month.

  67. Seems as though there is a consensus (not that any of our prattle really matters, but it is fun-like daydreaming about what you would do if you won the lottery):

    to sell: tello, cuenca, afellay, cojan and dos santos

    i really don’t like the pedro/alexis rumors. i think they are both integral to the team, and any replacements would need a lot of time to work out the system. also, they have both, alexis especially, improved in front of the net this year.

    masch = maybe sold, but no one here really wants that.

    song = great player, but probably sold.

    what about sergi roberto? i’m for loaning him out and bring rafinha back.

    deulofeu should stay at everton for another season.

    i don’t understand the cesc rumors at all but that is a general rumor so i am listing it.

    to buy: 2 CBs, keeper, and a striker?

    correct me if i’m wrong here.

    • PrinceYuvi
      March 31, 2014

      Roberto needs some humane place to prosper.

      Vultures of nou
      & comparisons to xavi won’t allow that.
      Better Loan him out to EPL.

      Selling any of the Masch/ Pedro/ Lex
      aka the WorkHorses would be Rodunkulous.

      Besides, our guys don’t know how to sell. Pedro & Lex are in their prime, are at least worth 40 M each.

      Tata is busy introducing Messi-Neymar connection on the right wing.
      Apparently, we’re moving away from Messi-Dani connection.
      He might leave.

      Tata is brilliant.
      If we give him just one Transfer window.

      He might stack our squad with plethora of intelligent buys.
      Looking forward to a strong Barca backline next season.

      Only if we show some patience of course.

  68. Srini
    March 31, 2014

    Business end of the season for Barca. Looks like they will snag atleast one of the top three trophies again, despite myriad vicissitudes yet again.

    Business after the end of the season?

    Sell – Dos Santos, Cuenca, Afellay, Sergi Roberto, Alex Song, Bojan, Cristian Tello; I say.

    Buy – Gundogan/Oliver Torres, Mangala, Fazio, Ter Stegen, Rossi (?! as possible 9)

    Get Back and deploy – Rafinha, Deulofeu.

    Promote and Loan – Denis Suarez, Jean Marie Dongou

    Ideal first/second XI next year, for me:

    Ter Stegen, Alves, Bartra, Pique, Alba, Busquets, Iniesta, Fabregas, Messi, Neymar, Alexis
    Pinto/Valdes(?), Fazio, Mangala, Adriano, Mascherano, Oliver/Gundogan, Xavi, Rafinha, Pedro, Deulofeu, Rossi

  69. ooga aga
    March 31, 2014

    Hold on. Its not even April and we are already talking about transfers? Have fun with that. I’d rather talk about the upcoming match v atletoco. I think we will win. First time messi has been 100% vs them this season. 2-0 in the first leg.

    • PrinceYuvi
      March 31, 2014

      They’re already talking about Transfers ,
      because our Team has playing with inadequate squad for last two years
      & They’re fed up, finally.

      • ooga aga
        March 31, 2014

        Fed up with…we’re in the quarters of theUCL and we don’t even discuss the game…only who we want and don’t want on our team for next year. Live in the present folks or it’ll pass u by before you can enjoy it.

        Can’t wait for tomorrow. Love our team and I know we will be in for a treat Tuesday.

        • PrinceYuvi
          March 31, 2014

          Hey, there’s a match tomorrow.
          I’m so excited, I can’t breath.

          Atleti is going to kill us.
          We’re going to pull an Arsenal.

          I can’t get over how cute our players are…. what I’m gonna do ?….

          What if Costa outjumps Masch again ?
          What if Messi forgets how to play football ?

          Happy now ?

    • Cule
      March 31, 2014

      Agreed, so out of place to be talking about transfers.

  70. March 31, 2014

    Dani Alves is on fire at the press conference!
    We should all listen to Mascherano when he says that Alves is quite possibly the best RB barca has ever had. I hope the club don’t sell him. He might infuriate fans, but he is still one hell of a player and I am sure he has a couple more good years in that relentless engine of his. But the tone of all his quotes now and what he has said all year seems to point quite clearly to his exit.

    Make no mistake, It would be very sad to see Dani go. Apart from the sporting loss we will suffer, we will incur a great loss off the pitch too. Folks like him, Pinto, Pique are the ones that make an otherwise dead serious Barca team, fun to work in. Neymar will also lose a compatriot he can groom under and have fun while developing his skills.

    All this talk of Masch, Alexis and Alves leaving are frankly, extremely depressing to me. As if the loss of Valdes and Puyol are not terrible already.

    • Valdemar II
      March 31, 2014

      Getting rid of Alves for nickels makes little sense, he’s a monster on the right flank, irreplaceable. Same with Alexis, our hardest worker, who is much better at RW? TBH all our starting XI players are indispensable, sell the la masia busts + Song and Affelay, buy the GK, CB (netting us a new DM in Mascherano), +Rafinha, Gundogan or an offensive piece and we are potentially stronger than ever without breaking the bank…

  71. Valdemar II
    March 31, 2014

    As for tomorrow, what is there to be said? Next to münchers this might be the most difficult opponent, since we match up well against “EE” ATM. We have played very well against Atletico, main point is they have troubles scoring against us (or even attacking), most likely scenario is we grind out a 1-0 victory IMO, but I’m hoping for more 😉

    • ciaran
      March 31, 2014

      What Simeone has done with that group of players is absolutely phenomenal and it would be great to see them keep the majority of their players through the transfer season.

      I am confident about tomorrow’s match or the tie as a whole more specifically.
      All of our players are used to playing this kind of tie whereas Atletico’s have never really done so with one or two exceptions.

      I reckon we will score a couple of goals tomorrow even though Atletico will be very physical.

      I assume the line up will be the same as we have been seeing in all of our big games this season with Busquets, Xavi, Cesc & Iniesta all starting and Neymar and Messi up front.
      I personally would like to see Alexis, Messi & Neymar upfront but it won’t happen.

      • ooga aga
        March 31, 2014

        i still have questions about neymar but i can see his usefulness in a game like this where atletico will be looking to park the bus, and we dont need him to be playing defense too much (i see them playing a 4-5-1). otherwise i would pick pedro.

  72. ciaran
    March 31, 2014

    Diego Costa is doubtful for tomorrow night’s match. According to Diego Simeone it is unlikely he’ll be able to play.

    Either terrible luck for Atletico or Simeone is trying the oldest trick in the book.

  73. March 31, 2014

    The Alves presser was brilliant, but sounded like a man who is unfettered because he knows he is leaving. We’ll see. Don’t forget that playing time was the big holdup in the Montoya renewal.


    — Diego Costa will play tomorrow, unless Simeone thinks they don’t have a shot at CL. Note that he said that it would be “difficult for Costa to play.

    — The Neymar doubts make me giggle. He has scored decisive goals in SuperCopa, been decisive in BOTH Classics and created the conditions that helped win the Catalan derby. He is on track to better Thierry Henry’s first-season totals, which is impressive. Always tough for a first-year forward at FCB. Easy to focus on what he has not done
    But what he has done is be decisive. In huge matches.

    — So Atleti have an excellent defense and Barça a crap one, yet we have conceded only one more goal than they have. Funny, that.

    — Culer demands for this team are staggering. Never forget this: RM was down, making Liga easy. If Ronaldo doesn’t scuff those early chances in the Rome final, that match might have gone rather differently. The margins were tight.

    Expecting this team to walk the Liga in the face of vastly improved rivals is asking a lot. More than ours or any other team’s players are capable of delivering, season in and season out.

    • ciaran
      March 31, 2014

      I remain wholly unconvinced by Montoya to this date. He is not quite the player that I thought he was going to be and so far is better neither in attack nor defence when compared to Dani.
      He is far too safe in possession and makes me nervous in defence.
      Dani frustrates me very often when he plays in terms of his crossing and his persistent fouling but he is one of the best right backs on the world and works very well in our system.

    • bhed
      March 31, 2014

      Are they thinking of transitioning Montoya in as starting right back? Have to agree with Ciaran, wholly unconvinced so far this season.

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