When the gods want to punish you, the saying goes, they answer your prayers — and the Gods of Football have, of late, been especially punitive. Looking to draw a soft penalty to finish off the clásico and the league along with it? Why, here’s three! (You take one, and your archrival will take the other two.) Praying that your club president will finally come to his senses and ship that mean ol’ coach back to the miserable island from which he came? Presto! (What are you sulking about? You’re still captain!) Ever daydream that one day you would be the Zamora-winning first-string keeper between the posts of a world-class team? Done and done! (No, I mean done. Right now, mid-match, of a derby, with a Champions tie in two days. No sweat, right? You’re at least pumped for another Copa final!)

I’m inclined to think that the Gods of Football, at least those who preside over La Liga, are of the Greco-Roman pantheon. For one thing, I have it on good authority of the History Channel that the divinities of other cultures are not mythological deities but extraterrestrials who beamed to Earth eons ago to share some of their intellectual property with us (e.g., blueprints for the Temple of Angkor Wat, or how to make a really cool crop circle with little more than a scythe and a dream.) And the northern European variety, the Valhallians and Nibelungs and such, well, frankly they intimidate me. We’ll wait to see how Champions plays out before we deal with them again.

No, I’m pretty sure we in La Liga are dealing with your Mediterranean-garden variety gods and goddesses. They don’t care about how you eat or dress or feel about your kid’s best friend’s new young stepmother. They’re content to sit back and watch the show like the rest of us, only from the best vantage point ever … that is, until one of them gets a bee in their bonnet and then you have what is called a “problem.” Kind of like when Mom gets into one of her moods. You’re pretty sure you haven’t done anything wrong, but it’s best to stay out of her way until Dad gets home.

urkelSometimes the gods decide they’ve had enough of each other and would like nothing more than to spend some quality time with you. They can be hard to spot, if you don’t know what you’re looking for. If you are an archaeologist, you might think that a god resembles a reality-tv “Housewife,” lounging about in spa wear with an ambrosia smoothie complaining about her husband chasing young girls in the form of a farm animal. If you are a Hollywood director, you might believe that the denizens of Olympus shop at a mall outlet called something like “S ‘n’ M!”, where they grab unisexy leather harnesses and micro-minis right off the rack (as gods, they’re sample size.) But if you are a soccer fan, you know that the Gods of Football walk among us disguised as Steve Urkel from “Family Matters”: short pants, long socks, and a left-breast pocket brimming with writing utensils. He’s been there the whole time, but you hardly notice him … until he points at you and your universe turns inside out.

Now, a lot of Greco-Roman gods played favorites, usually against each other, for reasons beyond the comprehension of mere mortals. Maybe it’s a big laugh riot on Mount Olympus to say “Make it rain!” and then turn your pitch to sodden mush, or to explode a big volcano just as your team is about to fly over Iceland for a very important match. Other times, they pick some poor sap and say, “I want that one!” as if you were a puppy in a pet shop window instead of a world-class winger with a golden foot and glossy hair.

For example, if your name is Lionel Messi and you play for FC Barcelona, then you are Odysseus and your story is The Odyssey (trust me, I already did the BuzzFeed quiz for you.) Odysseus is king of the world (well, o.k., Ithaca) and, like you, is trying to get back to where he once belonged, with his wife and young son. There’s a bit of political upset back at the home field, which may or may not motivate his team’s drive to get to where they need to be. Odysseus is famous for being quick on his feet, such as when he has to figure out how to dribble past so many Sirens clutching at him, and he can nutmeg ya in the blink of a Cyclop’s eye. This has won him the admiration of Zeus’ daughter Athena, who is the goddess of philosophy and, like most smart girls, alternately makes her Dad proud of how much she has achieved or gives him a headache for going on about how independent she is.  But Athena is a standoffish gal, and leaves Odysseus pretty much to his own devices. This has drawbacks, such as when he lollygags around Circe’s island after she turns his entourage into a litter of piglets long enough to make you wonder how bad he really wants it.

outfitIf you are Cristiano Ronaldo and you play for Real Madrid, your hero is Aeneas and your story is The Aeneid. Odysseus is a guy with a god on his side, but Aeneas really is a god — or a demigod, anyway. His mother is Aphrodite, so he’s probably good-looking (if the tendency of his ex-girlfriends to throw themselves on flaming pyres is any clue), but you don’t hear much about his dad. Eventually, Aeneas arrives on a strange peninsula dotted with attractive villas and hand-pressed olive oil, where he will found a great European capital under the protection of the goddess Ceres (you might know her as Cibeles.) Aeneas is a mama’s boy; like Odysseus, he’s done well enough for himself in the Trojan Wars, but whenever he gets into trouble Mom sends him an invisible cloak and he moves about unsuspected until the last minute. It’s kind of like when you wander about pretty much invisible for an hour or so and everyone on the other team gets their hopes up only to see — tah dah! — a free kick granted only a few yards from the penalty area and — bingo! — we get to watch you prance around the stadium announcing that you are, in fact, present. However, even though Aphrodite is more hands-on than Athena, she tends to get wrapped up in her latest relationship so it’s risky to depend upon her much.

If you are Diego Costa and you play for Atlético de Madrid, your hero is Achilles and your story is The Iliad. Your name means something like “anguish,” which is a feeling familiar to Atleti fans, and you are famous for your colorful armor, which archaeologists have never found but there’s no reason to think it doesn’t resemble a mattress. Unfortunately, you don’t have any kind of special guy-goddess relationship. In fact, you spend so much time with your buddies, like Patroclus, that your mom worries that you’ll ever have a girlfriend that isn’t some kind of set up like that chit Briseis. But what you have, and what your fans love about you, is heart. Heart and muscle. Well, mostly muscle. Achilles is a “Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting” kinda dude, and there are times, like when he drags poor Hector around the fields or stomps on Dani Alves up and down the left side, when he seems to be kickin’ ass just for the heck of it.  So far, Plan A is working. But look out, because sometimes Achilles gets into a mood and disappears into his tent for the afternoon, such as in previous city derbies when Barcelona really could have used a hand keeping the merengues behind them in the League standings.

And where does that leave us fans and spectators? We’re the chorus, I suppose. Kingless, godless souls who pray that their match is the comedy offering of the evening and that the tragedies are played out in other theaters. Who like to sing a little ditty from time to time, and with a penchant for stating the obvious.











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SoccerMom obsesses over FCB and this blog instead of grading papers, burning dinner and/or raising her small children. She blames a Spanish husband and easy access to Hispanic-targeted cable sports channels for her football addiction and consequent failure as a professor, housekeeper and mother.


  1. ooga aga
    April 1, 2014

    Mind blowing! She came back as strong (and as twizzling) as ever. Now I can go to bed happy. Thank you soma.

  2. amitojduggal
    April 1, 2014

    Need a Morale boosting article ahead of the game, anyone?

  3. April 1, 2014

    quite nervous about today’s game.
    I cannot remember the last time we started a CL tie at home.
    We’ve gotten so used to finishing the CL ties at home, knowing exactly what we have to do, this feels a bit weird. Add to that, we’ve scored only 1 goal against them in 3 games!
    Visca, may the gods be with us.

  4. Dar_vincy
    April 1, 2014

    I feel playing at home in the first leg is a positive headache to have.
    Aside our victory against city, we almost tend to approach our 1st leg games with less intensity, hunger and zeal.
    One thing is sure, if there was a temptation to relax, be complacent and less focused, having the knowledge that we need to score more and concede none (or less) would put them on their toes.

  5. April 1, 2014

    This is truly wonderful, SoMa! Brilliant!

    I especially love the idea of Messi as Odysseus, with his cunning brain, his bravery, and his tricksy feet. 😀

  6. April 1, 2014

    I suppose that means Puyol is Hector. I always liked Hector. He opposed the war, but was also the best and most virtuous warrior in Troy, respected ny all including his opponents, and only eventually falling to Achilles who was after all part god. He also liked to give Pique Paris shit for being led astray by a pretty face and starting the whole war in the first place.

    Cesc is Theseus, endlessly wandering around an impenetrable maze. 😛

    • PrinceYuvi
      April 1, 2014

      So, Shakira is apparently Helen, fairest of them all.

  7. Laurentiu88
    April 1, 2014

    i didn’t think alves press was of someone who is thinking of new team… first instance it remind me of pep famous presser before semifinal, like letting some steam out from the dresser, from a team that felt it received too much unfair criticism (remember cesc’s words after city game)

  8. PrinceYuvi
    April 1, 2014

    This is pure gold,
    especially for a greek mytho aficionado like me 🙂

  9. ciaran
    April 1, 2014

    Diego Costa starts for Atletico, miraculous recovery hahaha

  10. April 1, 2014

    I would like to thank Fox Sports for showcasing a game likely to end 0-10 over two legs and putting 1st vs 2nd in La Liga on Fox Deportes which doesn’t come up with most sports packages.

    • Messiah10
      April 1, 2014

      Really? I have it on Fox Sports 1. I’m in the Midwest w/Kxevin. That surprised me because Bayern vs Man United is on Fox Sports 2. Usually Fox puts English teams above any other leagues because of the popularity of the English Premier League. Sorry that you won’t be able to listen in English.

      • ooga aga
        April 1, 2014

        here in seattle, Barca-ATM is on Fox 2. bayern Man U is on normal fox. but honestly i can see why — at the bar I am at, there are 5 Man U fans for every 1 Barca fan.

        • Messiah10
          April 1, 2014

          Nice. I love Seattle. My best friend lives in Wallingford near Gas Works Park.

  11. ciaran
    April 1, 2014

    Pinto is so bad with the ball at his feet. We got away with that

  12. ciaran
    April 1, 2014

    Pique injured and Bartra coming on. Hopefully it’s nothing serious

  13. barca96
    April 1, 2014

    Chelsea 2012. Pique off injured. Really bad news.

  14. Jim
    April 1, 2014

    Damn ! Struggling now. Looked like a hammy to me rather than a knock on the tailbone too. If so, that’s him for most of the season.

    We need to keep serious ball now.

    • ooga aga
      April 1, 2014

      im guessing it is his hip socket/pelvis or his femur…:(

      • Jim
        April 1, 2014

        Ok. Off again. Could have been his whole season.

        • barca96
          April 1, 2014

          I’m not sure if Someone insisted on him continuing or he was trying to pursuede Costa not to continue.

          How long do you reckon Pique will be out if it really is his tailbone that’s hurt?

          Neymar would’ve rolled a few more times there when Arda Turan tackled Messi.

          • Jim
            April 1, 2014

            Tailbone not long but he was holding his hammy on the ground and the way he walked off wasn’t good. If it is a pulled hammy that’s him for all bar the last Atletico match I’d reckon. But let’s wait and see – I’m in super pessimistic mode as it’s CL night. Other than that fair first half and they can’t afford many more bad tackles with three on cards.

          • Messiah10
            April 1, 2014

            Sadly, Jim, they were afforded plenty of more bad tackles.

        • barca96
          April 1, 2014

          Oh I didn’t notice him holding his hamstring. And it didn’t look like he would’ve injured his hamstring. Let’s hope it’s just his back and neither him or Costa will miss the World Cup.

          • Jim
            April 1, 2014

            Apparently it’s a knock on the pelvis. Words fail me – unless, I suppose, it is tailbone

        • ciaran
          April 1, 2014

          Beaten at his near post from 35 yards. Great strike but bad positioning in my opinion

          • Jim
            April 1, 2014

            Bit harsh, Ciaran. It was a one in a million strike with bend on it.

          • Messiah10
            April 1, 2014

            That’s really harsh. That was a hit & pray strike. That’s Diego’s 2nd goal all year. He got a hand on it. I thought his positioning was pretty good. No one would’ve stopped that.

          • barca96
            April 1, 2014

            I wouldn’t bet on anyone stopping that shot except for Courtois. He is massive and his reach is exceptionally long.

  15. ciaran
    April 1, 2014

    We haven’t really looked like scoring at all this evening. I think Cesc needs to come off and a forward on

      • ciaran
        April 1, 2014

        Alexis about to come on, if it’s for Neymar I won’t be happy

        • barca96
          April 1, 2014

          But Neymar will have to make way for Pedro. Or perhaps Xavi?

  16. Jim
    April 1, 2014

    On the plus side good display from Bartra.


    • Messiah10
      April 1, 2014

      Great display. Not just good. I’ve called for him to start more games. He’s a hell of a defender. If Varane can start for EE at 19 ears of ago then Bartra can surely start for Barca.

      • Messiah10
        April 1, 2014

        One of the best passes I think he’s made, and that’s saying a lot. He’s unbelievable. A joy to watch. Alexis has made a difference coming on for Cesc. I was surprised Cesc & Ney started. I don’t know why Tata insists on playing 4 in midfield.

  17. ciaran
    April 1, 2014

    Courtois must be the best shot stopper in the world at the minute

  18. Messiah10
    April 1, 2014

    How many fouls do Atletico have? Ridiculous. Ref hasn’t had a horrible game, but Arda Turin had 3 bad challenges before getting booked. Iniesta has 1 and he’s in the book? Koke has gotten away with a few. Juan Fran is just an ogar. Pinto has been very nervy. How can you have that bad of a left foot that you won’t even touch the ball with your left? We really missed Valdes that first 20 minutes when they pressed their hardest. Looks like we’ll need an away goal and a shutout or 2 away goals.

    • Laurentiu88
      April 1, 2014

      really proud of our team. iniesta was magic. neymar up there too. the team was great going forward..

      pinto should have had that covered, and he invited panic too often.

      all to play for.

  19. Messiah10
    April 1, 2014

    Why is Dani putting in crosses from 40 yards out?

    • barca96
      April 1, 2014

      Alves’ crosses reminds me of Shaq O’Neill’s free throws 😆

  20. Messiah10
    April 1, 2014

    No Puyol in there to win the headers with pure Heart. What an unlucky draw. A lucky strike to get an away goal lead.

  21. HisR0yalFlyness
    April 1, 2014

    Paging Lionel Messi! Paging Lionel Messi! Has anyone seen him? Supposedly he was on the field but somehow managed to be invisible.

    • barca96
      April 1, 2014

      Not sure what more he could’ve done. Whenever he had the ball, he had 3 men around him.

  22. April 1, 2014

    interesting that as soon as fabregas comes off iniesta is allowed to work his magic in midfield. the result? a goal within 3 minutes. special shout out to bartra who performed wonderfully given the circumstances.

    • Messiah10
      April 1, 2014

      This ^^^ Tito has to stop with 4 in the middle. Cesc has played well this year, but he stifles Iniesta’s magisterial play when he is put on the left. Bartra was a stud like I knew he would be! He’s a hell of a defender and has deserved to play far before this game.

  23. barca96
    April 1, 2014

    Alexis messed up twice.

    First one when he first came on, he could’ve laid it off to Iniesta but held the ball and played a cross in. Second one was free to pull the trigger but again decided to hold the ball.

  24. ooga aga
    April 1, 2014

    all i can say is that today the best team in the world tied 1-1 in a game they probably shoulda won.

    • barca96
      April 1, 2014

      Wait are you talking about us or Bayern? I’m a bit blur. It’s 5am here.

  25. Messiah10
    April 1, 2014

    I have to say that I’m disappointed Tata started Neymar. I know he brings an extra dimension, but Atletico matches are Dog Fights. Neymar is not a fighter as much as Pedro & Alexis are. I don’t know what Alexis & Pedro have to do to get a start after the 7-0 demolition they were a part of. Neymar is also less experienced. This is his 1st year in the CL and especially at this stage. You think Diego would’ve had that much space on the right if Pedro were there helping out? No way. The shot was so lucky it’s disturbing how unlucky we’ve been this year. I can’t believe the injury to Pique. He was undercut and no call? Costa made no play on the ball. He’s the king of dirty tricks. He knows them all in the book and has probably invented some himself. I’m frustrated but will take the draw even though they have a advantage with the away goal. We CAN beat this team! We’ll do it next leg! Visca Barca! Anims Pique!

  26. ooga aga
    April 1, 2014

    cant wait to see what the pitch looks like in el calderon, 8 days from now…

  27. TITO
    April 1, 2014

    Overall a good performance, not great. AM defended quite well, and sometimes with 10 men in defense.
    A bit disappointed with some of our players for holding the ball for to long and in that way missing the momentum of surprising the opponent.
    Don’t know what to think about the return leg. Now that Costa is out i’m more confident of progressing cause they wont be so lethal up front.

  28. April 1, 2014

    Well..ok, this is a very poor result (1-1) but one that was totally expected. There were some positives I drew from many players in a Barca shirt not named Messi.

    This is a bad result in that Atleti dont really have to play the next leg. Just one request Tata. Puleeeez play Alexis Neymar Messi in place of Cesc and have Iniesta play in his sweet space. Lexus brings so many valuable things in a tie like this, I am confounded as to why Tata insists on this iniesta-on-the-wing-cesc-in-a-four-man-control-the-game-midfield strategy.

    Alexis needs to start that game and perhaps it’s time for Messi to move back to that wing for the next leg to open up the extremely compact and tight center.

    I am pessimistically hopeful.
    We have the talent to win there, but will we have the luck and heart?
    that question will ultimately settle this tie.

    Barca for life.

    • Jim
      April 1, 2014

      Don’t know how you can question the heart of this team. I’m guessing the four mids was played because our resurgence against RM and City came using it. As soon as Costa went off it probably wasn’t the best option I suppose.

  29. TITO
    April 1, 2014

    We don’t have to win, just to score as many as they do. 🙂

      • TITO
        April 1, 2014

        That’s why i said “to score” which excludes zero’s.

      • barca96
        April 1, 2014

        Well Tito mentioned “score” so obviously not zero but in any case, if they score 1 and we equal that, it’s still not enough as we’ll only go to penalties.

        We need to outscore them. Best way is to do it early before they Park the bus even deeper.

  30. barca96
    April 1, 2014

    Neymar needs to stop throwing himself on the ground and rolling too many times. It’s so embarrassing to see.

    • I think he is trying to match CR7, might go down even if somebody sneeze.
      If he also learns when to pass the ball, and when is the right moment to run with it, it will be excellent for us.

  31. ooga aga
    April 1, 2014

    very proud of young marc bartra.

    the worst thing about this game? no ray hudson.

    • KEVINO17
      April 1, 2014

      The worst thing was Gerry Armstrong. He said, ten times, that Barca needed to get Messi into a one-on-one with the keeper. Duh.

  32. Puppet
    April 1, 2014

    Bartra was very good today, won almost every header that came his way and was aggressive when pressing. This game also showed off just how world class Busquets is, both his pressing and break-up play, as well as his close control and passing from the back were superb. Shades of Chelsea from how Atleti were playing us, hopefully we can end this tie like 2009, not 2012.

  33. psalmuel
    April 1, 2014

    At 1-1 and with Diego Costa out, I fancy our chances. We just need to score one and the game is complicated for them cos, any loss or draw by more than a goal means they are out. The ball is in their court

  34. psalmuel
    April 1, 2014

    but how I wish it ended goaless. Haven’t been to goal.com yet, don’t wanna read one of their sucky headlines. ‘Clueless barca fail to breakdown athletico’ etc

  35. Valdemar II
    April 1, 2014

    We were very good IMO, a lot of the match was spent 100% on their side of the pitch, 1-0 would have been ‘fair’. Barta, Mascherano doing great things. When they were leading we played fantasy football until scoring.

    They got a lucky goal, usually against us it is from a corner, and they are the worlds #3 or #4 team, margins are not high. Our odds for advancing are worse now than before, but I hope they will suffer from fatigue next game giving us the edge.

    • Valdemar II
      April 1, 2014

      Also, ‘best team in history’ played 1-1 against Moyes’ men, how are pundits going to spin that one?

      • Nav
        April 1, 2014

        Who calls them the best team in history?

      • G6O
        April 1, 2014

        Theirs was an away game, and if nobody scores more goals in that tie, they go through. Ours was a home game and right now we’re out

        • Nav
          April 1, 2014

          That is an extremely pessimistic way to look at things :/

          • G6O
            April 2, 2014

            Football is a low scoring game which stars with score being 0-0 – and the null expectation is always that the game will end 0-0 (even if most games do have goals). So you consider the starting position and work from there.

            Also, Atletico is very good at parking the bus so while this is really more of a domestic than a europe game, and we are more than capable of winning there, it is not a position you want to be in

  36. Nav
    April 1, 2014

    1-1 is alright. Not the best, but certainly not something that puts us out of the running. I’m very confident that we’ll get a result in the Calderon.

    • KEVINO17
      April 1, 2014

      You would have to expect us to score at least 1. We score 2 and they suddenly need three at home.

  37. ooga aga
    April 1, 2014

    4 weeks out for Pique with a fissure in the pelvis.

    baptism of fire for bartra.

    • Nav
      April 1, 2014

      This is the worst possible news. Valdes AND Pique out? Christ :/

  38. flyzowee
    April 1, 2014

    I must say that giving the the effort made by barca today, this is one of the games where even if we had lost 1-0 Id still would have given them a standing ovation in my living room. Im so proud to see our players fight like that. A big shout out goes to Neymar who seemed to come into his own when allowed to move freely from touchline to touchline and also to iniesta who was particularly aggressive with his forward play today which was good to see.

  39. April 1, 2014

    And Neymar continues to troll the world. A decisive player. SuperCopa, both Classics, Catalan derby and today. Active, dangerous, destabilizing. The pass from Iniesta was fantastic, but don’t forget that one-time strike to curl the ball around a huge, quick keeper. Hate away, but all he does is help win matches.

    — My MOTM leans ever so slightly toward Busquets. So good today. Neither he nor Bartra lost a single ball.

    — Speaking of Bartra, his second sublime outing in a row, and people can’t say “Yeah, but it was an easy opponent.” Whole back line was excellent … even (shudder!) Mascherano.

    — Messi was a second-half no show. Unfortunate. Just walking around. He can’t let himself be marked out of the match like that.

    — Sanchez was brilliant. Another destabilizer. His pressure helped work the ball loose to instigate the goal scoring sequence. Too bad he doesn’t have Neymar’s confidence and shooting ability. That pass in the box was screaming for a volley. What a player.

    — Fabregas. Hmmm. Many questions to be asked of him over the next months. You almost wonder whether he and Xavi exacerbate each other’s weaknesses.

    — No keeper alive stops that Diego strike. Period.

    • Serena Andre
      April 1, 2014

      Neymar was decisive in the Catalan derby at the Camp Nou as well. He provided that assist for Alexis’ winning goal in the first match. With a double nutmeg no less. His ability to thrive under pressure is incredible.

      Our defense was amazing today. Atletico never really looked like scoring. But I guess it’s just our luck that their best striker gets injured and his sub scores the goal of his career.

  40. April 1, 2014

    Buzz is that Diego Costa is out 3-4 weeks with a hamstring. The way he submarined Pique, only fair.

  41. ooga aga
    April 1, 2014

    Tata with a better win-loss and better goal difference than Pep after his first 50 games. almost identical though.


  42. April 1, 2014

    Overall it is a decent result. Not great, not as bad as most are making out. We played well against a very resolute and dogged team. It is not so easy when the opposition stick everyone behind the ball, just ask Bayern (and they were playing a far inferior team to Athletico).

    I have to say all the talk of Neymar, but for me Fabergas is the one who should be questioned. So far he has played in pretty much every single big game and so far he has been invisible in all of them. The “first season” excuse is long gone now. He adds very little in these sorts of games. Earlier in the season when we were a bit more direct and playing against teams that were a bit more open he thrived, but when we play against physical, aggressive teams that defend deep and press, well he seems to vanish. I can understand why Tata started Neymar, he adds something different, something magical, even if he still does not quite understand how to fit in perfectly, he has been far more decisive in the big games than Cesc.

    I sincerely hope Cesc sits out the return leg next week and goes for a front 3 of Neymar, Messi and Sanchez. Let Iniesta play where he belongs, in the middle, feeding through balls like he did for Neymars goal.

    Oh and what about Bartra! He impressed the shit out of me today. I have to say he deserves more big game starts. Very composed and assured for such a young player and more pace than Pique.

    Busquets was unreal tonight as well. Like seriously, unreal. Every time they were in a position to start an attack he shut it down before they even had a chance. His work goes unnoticed for the most part but he gets my MOTM. Unsung hero.

    Alba was also rather magnificent. He is seriously starting to win me over now. I was really worried about his defensive capabilities but he seems to be proving me wrong, hope he keeps it up.

    Biggest disappointment tonight for me was Messi. They contained him very well and I felt he was not able to get into the game as he usually does. HEre’s hoping he scores a hatrick in the return leg to make me look like an idiot 🙂

  43. PrinceYuvi
    April 1, 2014

    Apart from the Goal, Neymar played a crap match ?

    He’s a Striker,
    he should worry about creating chances, scoring golazos
    & not 95 % Pass completion rate.

    Atleti were too busy triple marking Messi,
    and next thing you know Ney bit them in the back.

    Yeah, seen that before.

    Atleti were supposed to be A scary huge Unscalable Wall,
    But they did look stunned after enduring waves and waves of attack.

    I hope we win this.

    Also, Bartra !!

  44. April 1, 2014

    WhoScored rated Neymar MOTM. There was a lot of snarking on Twitter about Neymar turnovers, and turnovers by him in dangerous areas. So I watched again. And counted. Messi had more turnovers than Neymar. Both players gave the ball up in the Atleti box. Both had one turnover in the midfield area.

    That both have many turnovers is to be expected. What I find fascinating is that nobody was riding Messi for his turnovers, even though he had more than Neymar.

    — Fabregas, in the context of what Martino wanted from the 4 mids, wasn’t as bad as many (including me before the re-watch) asserted. He was quite influential in ball control, defending and popping up in vexing places for their defense. Diego’s wonder strike messed up Martino’s plan, which necessitated the Sanchez sub, which was decisive.

    • Nik
      April 1, 2014

      Would you start Cesc as part of the four man MF unit in the away leg, or would you start Alexis from the get-go?

    • Just counting the number of times Messi gave away the ball compared to Neymar won’t help. Add the number of people marking Messi every time he received the ball. Compare that to Neymar’s then take count the number of time they lost possession. I haven’t seen any team do this well in keeping 3-4 players always on Messi.

      If Martino insists on playing Neymar, then this match showed it has to be on the left as a deputy to Iniesta. Cesc don’t nahve a place in our starting eleven against better sides. Either Sanchez or Pedro should start. It was startling the amount of pace Alexis introduced into Barca’s game. Some may argue that it could be the result of the goal, but I think it’s the result of the personality.

      I am still not sure whether we should start Neymar at Vicente Calderon. He was decisive but till that moment he was crap. His form improved after that is a good sign. May be the weekend match would give an indication whether this is a resurgence or a temporary form.

      He might have been decisive, but I do believe that had we started with Pedro and Sanchez we would have been much better. May be we wouldn’t have been in a position like chasing the match had they started, just a guess! Who know?

      Agree with your assessment on Cesc. He was not that bad and did well in that free roaming midfielder. But let’s accept the problem with playing four midfielder is that you are downsizing the effect of Iniesta. So it’s simple – you want Iniesta to run the show, then don’t allow anyone to occupy his space.

      Busquets and Bartra were seriously good, but I would like to highlight Alba in recent matches as the most consistent player. How the hell is able to run so much?

      • The last time, I think, a team so effectively zonal marked Messi with 3/4 players was in the Inter Milan semi finals. Simeone might have shown a video of that match to his team. They were brilliant against Messi.

  45. KEVINO17
    April 1, 2014

    Isn’t the big question now whether Atleti will have anything in the tank next week, especially without Costa and a game against Villareal on the weekend. I will be surprised if they can match that intensity, even at home. Tata on the other hand should be able to rest a lot at the weekend. Bring in Alexis, Pedro, Song, Roberto??, Adriano, etc etc and hope for a scrappy win against Betis. Maybe play Cesc again and leave him out against Atleti.

  46. teddy
    April 1, 2014

    Had to logged in and comment.

    Compare to last season, we arrived at the crucial part of the season this time with better physical condition. The only downside is our bad luck with injury, of which is nothing that Tata can control.

    On the other hand, had to watch the Man Utd vs Bayern highlight. How fun for them to attack without having to break the bus. People talks about it is an end of an era for us, yet they always scared when facing us. Bayern even conceded a goal from a corner.

    I think our team deserved a lot more of credit despite what people criticize. No other football clubs are going through the series of bad luck like what we have.

  47. Cule
    April 1, 2014

    Although Bartra played well today, I would’ve preferred to see Puyol. I just don’t think Bartra is ready for matches as big as this, today he was fine but Atletico did not attack much. If we are to make it past this round he would be a liability. Let Puyol give us the last of what he’s got, he is still a great leader, his presence would be huge. Giggs is 40 and held his own today against probably the best team in Europe. Puyol please Tata.

    • alpinegroove
      April 1, 2014

      I believe Puyol is recovering from injury.

      • April 1, 2014

        But Bartra clearly was ready. He was brilliant today, raising his game even from his last excellent outing. He won every aerial duel, had 12 interceptions and 0 balls lost.

        Not sure how he isn’t ready.

        I would take Bartra over Puyol any day of the week these days.

  48. lala10
    April 1, 2014

    atletico had messi because most times he got the ball he was sorrounded. A few times they slacked off he created two goal scoring chances.

    They were prepared to let the other attackers hev the ball but as soon as Messi had it they were on him.

    And because they played deep he could not also thread balls like he did against madrid.

    Ala Pinto i think the ball was saveable with better positioning. Maybe he was expecting a cross but no way he is sufficiently covering that angle will it go in.

    • April 2, 2014

      There is not a pundit I have seen or read who believes that any keeper in the game had a shot at that Diego shot. The top corner is a shot that is impossible to stop. Hit it with power, and no way. The only positioning that could have helped Pinto is standing on a stepladder, with exact knowledge of where the shot was headed.

      Many are making excuses for Messi, but he was a second half no show. Walking and standing around makes the job of the defenders easy. Just stand there beside him.

      • No one could have saved that shot. A better keeper could have pushed it a bit further, and then it was all up to luck.

        Messi was a no-show till the introduction of Sanchez in the second half. Can’t blame him! In the first half he tried really hard only to realize that no one is ready to provide him with an outlet and was surrounded all the time. Second half he was simply walking here and there. Looks like just got fed up. But after the introduction of Sanchez he was bit different trying to link up well. It is easy to blame Messi for the second half no-show. But it looks like we have a bigger problem there with Messi not trusting his team mates to open up the space. Can’t blame him, watch the amount of space created for him after introduction of Sanchez and before that.

        Looks like we are seeing a repeat of last season in crunch matches where the Manager by picking the team on reputation is handicapping the best player and also Iniesta a bit.

        Have you ever thought why Messi presses well when played along with Sanchez or Pedro rather than Cesc? It happens every time.

  49. amitojduggal
    April 2, 2014

    Bartra was Superb! with the inform Pique injured, its a big responsibility for him.

    i wonder how everyone would have gone against Tata if a goal would have gone in from a Bartra’s mistake as he dint get enough games prior to this match.

    Pinto, i am sorry is not good enough. as Goal.com article describes him as more of a cheerleader than of a Goalkeeper. agree with lala10, that shot was not impossible to save, Courtois made a similar corner save from a Messi Spot kick. yes it was a dead ball. But Still, those kind of saves determine the fate of big matches.

    Alexis, with all due respect was intense, but should have scored from a pass on the right. His first touch isnt always a good one.

  50. LysdeXic
    April 2, 2014

    This was the most intense Barca I’ve seen all season, & then we go, & bad luck springs eternal again. Hope it doesn’t in the 2nd leg. Atleti left their swarming game at the Calderon(will they use it there or will possession negate it?), & instead brought a bus that just so happened to have a passenger board it with a torpedo hidden in his bag, ’cause none of us could see that coming. Other than that retarded wonder strike (with luck on its side), Atleti were completely nullified, & suffocated out of possession as soon as they got it. Swarmed out of it relentlessly. This was the Barca Tata’s been building towards since day one. His vertical introduction was just passing through (excuse the pun). Quick he realized that possession is king & verticalidad worked as just a pawn in a few games. Very astute & observant figure Tata is. He calls it as he sees it – the great goal from Diego, & the immense Barca performance never mind the result. Lack of finishing. Trend this season. Would Valdes have stopped that ripper? Maybe. He’s been pretty freaky this season. But other than him & maybe Courtois stopping that… that strike screams past other keepers all day. Man U & Atleti’s goals came within seconds of each other. I was at a fan club. Looked right (half-hearted cheer). Goal for United. Looked back. Goal for Atleti. (jeers). But the way Barca played; reminiscent of a few seasons ago, mind you, they’ve been that way quite a few times this season – something I always felt the pressing game would bring back, & then ironically a Bielsa-fied coach takes over. Main point last season. Pressing gone. Their intensity springs from that – everything else becomes intense too so naturally the tempo of the passing, concentration would return – always felt that intense pressing would let everything else fall back into place. Like in those games of past seasons (pre Vilanova), they gave you a sense of security & before I saw the replay, I just knew it was either a missile, or torpedo, or a deflection that allowed that goal. The way we played never allowed for anything else. But like in our invincible years when it wasn’t a result that reflected the match, lady luck always helped the other teams get a result. Not taking anything away from Diego’s goal. It’s great. But he’ll never score another one like it too soon, & in a game where they hardly featured.

  51. Laurentiu88
    April 2, 2014

    i think singeling one player like cesc and saying he played bad needs a bit of perspective. like, what was our game plan that tata designed and what did cesc do wrong in it? if he did, why didnt tata change him before? the game did change after cesc left but there were also other circumstances. in th last 15 mins atletico were really down physically, such a pitty we didnt score one more. can be a clue for second leg. remember also how they fell at the end against rm.

    i think messi was very much in the game. even in 2 part he tracked back, he combined… at one time he was close to our penalty area helping us pass our way out. even at our goal, space is created because 3 defenders are watching messi.

    on another observation, the game started really slow wich suited them. they were good defending with all team and pressing pinto which was relatively poor, giving away theyr chances. maybe our defenders should have helped him more.

    neymar was chopped chopped and chopped again. i dont give a rat’s ass about snob english commentators complaining about acting. its a way of playing which the ref almost didnt stop with his few yellows. i suppose that is one way of playing, but i would like people to question it too.

    masche and bartra were rocks. roll on.

    we are very much in this… it all reminds me of treble season and the chelsea games.

  52. LysdeXic
    April 2, 2014

    With so much defending, any team is bound to get tired. – because Atleti is so well conditioned, fit etc., they just took a bit longer to wear out. Rolling back the years huh… with wearing out teams. Or maybe it’s a coincidence… Ha. I’m not gonna single out anyone on this team. I’m happy with the performance. They did their jobs in their respective positions, & kept the Barca tock ticking.. tik’, taka’ing. I’ve been happy with most of their performances this season, never mind the little niggling details. They’re much better than last season, & close to pre last year’s seasons, bar Guardiola’s last 4 months in charge. Yet, you just sense they’re still a work in progress, even though we’re at this stage in the calendar. Rossel was erratic in a sense that he settled scores with previous board members by damaging the image of the club. In settling scores the way he did it, he scored an own goal. The Cruyff, Guardiola, & ABIDAL chickens came home to roost. His own ego meant more. Lets see what this board gets up to after the world cup. If Tata is still there, we might just get to see the full extent of what he’s building, or rebuilding.

  53. KEVINO17
    April 2, 2014

    I have never seen Bartra beaten one-on-one. For a tall guy he has tremendous balance. And he’s got great anticipation. And he’s quick. And he’s good with the ball at his feet. Watching him, I was wondering if he would make an excellent centre forward.

  54. April 2, 2014

    A few observation, some shared by commenters above:

    * Barça’s intensity impressed the hell out of me. Anytime your team is more intense than even Atletico you just gotta applaud them regardless of the result.

    * I thought Neymar was one of our best performers even before he scored. Turnovers? People do know he’s an attacker, right?

    * Bartra and Mascherano played well, but let’s add some perspective… They did not come under pressure for the whole game. Piqué’s injury might prove even costlier than VV’s.

    * A big reason for our defenders having an easy night was the intensity with which our forwards and mids tried to get the ball back. Everybody showed up. Busquets in particular was at his Octopussian best.

    * Last but not least I would like to express my delight at David Villa doing what he has done for us on countless nights: not score in the Camp Nou!

  55. barca96
    April 2, 2014

    During the match, I told my little brother that Busi is like a vacuum cleaner. It’s like he’s sucking all the balls to him. My MoM.

  56. ciaran
    April 2, 2014

    I’m a fan of Cesc Fabregas but he’s not compatible with Xavi in midfield.
    He hasn’t performed well in any of the big matches this season but is still a very important player for us.

    Messi was awful in the second half last night. Anyone saying that he was better than Neymar really needs to watch that match again because he gave up playing in the second half.
    In 4 matches this season Messi is yet to score v Atletico. I’d love to see Messi starting on the right next week with Alexis through the middle and Neymar on the left. Give Messi a little room to get the ball and see what he can do. It would give Simeone’s men something different to play against and both Neymar and Iniesta would be in their preferred positions.

    Bartra was immense last night, never putting a foot wrong even if Villa got past him to get a shot off in the first half. The way he pushed Costa off the ball within a couple of minutes of coming on was a great start for him.
    Busquets was also great, intercepting everything that came his way.

    Iniesta. That is all.

  57. layibiyi
    April 2, 2014

    Common guys! Enough with the Cesc bashing. You all are smart Barca fans. We know the games when we need the 4 man midfield, this wasn’t one of those games (at least after Costa went out) and Tata probably predicted wrongly how the game would go. Cesc quality doesn’t shine through in these kind of games obviously. But it wasn’t that long when we generally agreed our holy trinity midfield (Busq-Xav-Ini) can’t hold the fort alone in extremely tough games where game dominance can be challenged. The 4 man midfield has helped improved our work-rate in such games so far.

    Now that we saw how marvelous the holy trinity worked, some are calling for it to be restored fully whatever the game. If we do that against Madrid in the copa or even in the return leg (assuming an increased Aatletico intensity), and Busq gets overrun, then we start going on again about how old Xavi has become, Messi doesn’t press again etc etc

    Tata has learnt quite a few things on the job this season. This is another one of them, the value of being ‘very’ pro-active in the UCL when at home and ‘expected’ to dominate. Hope we still go through and the lesson isn’t a regrettable one. That said, I am still not sure what system to start in the return leg. That’s for Tata to figure out. We should just be glad we have multiple options.

  58. April 2, 2014

    Can someone throw some light on this highly disturbing report from @Barcastuff?

    “FIFA has given Barcelona a transfer ban for next two transfer periods because of breaching international transfer rules of under-18 players.”


  59. stefan2k
    April 2, 2014

    Austrian news say that we got punished for transfering an under-aged player and therefore are not allowed to transfer anybody in the next two periods. WTF?

    Iniesta was insane last night!

  60. Jackieboy
    April 2, 2014

    Apparently, between 2009 and 2013 we illegally signed 10 under-18 players and comitted some other unnamed infrigements. International transfers of under-18 players are generally prohibited, except for some special cases. Well, we’re screwed.

  61. LysdeXic
    April 2, 2014

    Last night we had great control of the match. Both halves; moreso in the last 25 minutes. This has been the case since the first Man City clash; the 4 man midfield. Something Martino introduced after he realized that a bit of verticality isn’t really the answer – you can’t even change one stripe on this leopard & it starts feeling unnatural. Caused an anxiousness to their game, & not a good one, an impatience; didn’t blend in well. Tata realized that the Barca way wasn’t the problem. Not playing the Barca way was. Last season, was not the Barca way. All respect to Vilanova, it wasn’t his fault. He had cancer, Abidal had cancer (twice), it’s like the team was ill too. This is only one area proving how astute Martino is; regain control, find a way to regain dominance. I looked at last season & thought, what are these pundits talking about ppl have figured us out? That’s rubbish. It’s no coincidence that the pace of circulating the ball dropped, from that, getting in key positions off the ball; less running, less intensity, or no intensity even; & obviously no pressing – they looked lethargic — like they were suffering from cancer themselves. A team reflects its coach right? Simeone is a pure example of this. Vilanova was a pure example of this in how Barca was ailing last season, lots of injuries, & the loss of a favourite in Abidal, for the second time. Then Munich comes running, & ppl started talking up the Barca armageddon. A physically, & emotionally wounded team, with plenty injuries, that’s who they beat. Kick a dog while it’s down why don’t you. You can’t blame them. They’re professionals. They had every right to go after the kill when they smelled blood. This all might still just end up being karmageddon. So on to Martino’s work in progress, that started anew, err, a-old — possession — give back that leopard’s stripe, because the stripe was never the problem. Possession, pressing, intensity. The one can’t do without other to keep the success machine ticking. We had all the possession last season, but none of the other 2 that completes us — the Barca way; the total football way. Tata’s had them instill back all 3. Result; Barca of old, & we start dominating teams again. Not to the full extent ’cause I think this team isn’t there yet – work in progress. The game since City proves that teams haven’t figured us out. It proves that to keep at that insane level of competitiveness, you have to maintain that with what made you so good in the first place. It’s not humanly possible. I said at the beginning of Guardiola’s last season that I don’t expect them to maintain that level that year. That they’d slack off a bit. All that success, year after year.. You become fed up. Mind gets bored of just winning, winning, & winning the way they did where the opponent was always irrelevant. They needed time away from that amount of success to regain the hunger. I said 2 years. ’cause that’s how I felt. Bring on Martino, & this is what we have so far. The only thing we lacked was penetration here & there. Though, had we been more incisive in front of the poles, this specific team effort would’ve been lauded off its hinges… For the first time out of all the matches vs Atleti this season, we did not deserve a draw.

  62. CuleToon
    April 2, 2014

    I’m absolutely fuming! Even if this could have started at the end of Laporta’s era —no details yet— I put most of the blame on the current board and, for me, this is the last straw.

    After all that has happened, they have to go and call for election asap.


  63. Huckleberry
    April 2, 2014

    I always thought, that Barça (or the Rosell board) is trying to be too smart and constantly overstructorizing their transfer deals. If the deals with the young players are as complicated as the deal with the Neymar family, the Fifa has good reason to ask for clarifications…. That can go either way.

  64. barca96
    April 2, 2014

    I don’t understand a few things. We signed players under 18 since forever (La Masia anyone?) as does almost every other big club. What’s the big deal? How else can they run youth teams if they don’t sign any players under 18?

    And why is FIFA only after us? And why now?!

    • PrinceYuvi
      April 2, 2014

      Local players are okay.
      We signed some minor korean players .
      Apparently can’t sign those.

      • Peter
        April 2, 2014

        Real Madrid signed “The Japanese Messi” a few months back. Age 9.
        Roma signed Toni Sanabria aged 17.

        You can say that Barcelona broke the letter of the law, while upholding the sense of the law – and that’s the most ridiculous thing: The law of FIFA puts under a common denominator everything, from actual trafficking and exploitation of minor players to Barcelona’s football boarding school.

        One very conspicuous reason I can see behind this, corruption of FIFA apart, is this: players formed and raised in the club don’t generate transfer fees. FIFA gets 1% of the transfer fee every time a transfer is made. This season just Barcelona and Real’s in and out transfers are valued at close to 400 million. With PSG, Monaco, Chelsea, City and the rest of the top leagues spending like mad the figures probably exceed 1 billion. And it’s not just the FIFA fee, it’s the agent’s fee(5-15%).

  65. G6O
    April 2, 2014

    Utter disaster – we postpone the urgently needed reinforcements for years, then we get a number of key players leaving/retiring at once, and just when we’re facing our most important transfer window since 2008, this happens???

    I have doubts it will be enforced, but if it is, we’re completely screwed…

    • Huckleberry
      April 2, 2014

      as I understood it, Barça can choose when to start the ban. Certainly Barça would not choose this summer transfer period.

      • G6O
        April 2, 2014

        The ban only makes sense during the transfer period. I am not sure what exactly you are talking about

  66. LysdeXic
    April 2, 2014

    Tata’s been good with making use of what he has at his disposal, squad wise. He’ll continue. Barca gets it from all angles. It’s become the norm. Think they’ve acclimatized themselves by now, along with Martino. Another day, another blow. It’s all good…

  67. Now if this ban kicks in, I think we should ask Valdes to stay for at least one year. I think he will oblige. After all this has been his club for so long. Offensively, we would be ok, with Rafinha, dialogue and even Bojan returning. But it’s the defense that worries me. puyol need to stay and may be the likes of Sergi should be promoted.

  68. ciaran
    April 2, 2014

    The ban is crazy if it is enforced. We have 3 days to appeal so you’d assume that we will and it may get overturned.
    If not then our loanees can return so as above we would be in fine in midfield and forwards.

    I wonder if the registration of a player without a club would be a transfer so it might be possible to sign players without a club

  69. Doug
    April 2, 2014

    Didn’t Cesc sign with Arsenal at 16?

    • G6O
      April 2, 2014

      1. That was 10 years ago, befire the rules were implemented

      2. The rule has an exception for players moving within the EU

    • PrinceYuvi
      April 2, 2014

      Laws in England & Spain differ, that’s why.

  70. According to FIFA sources, transfer deals that have already been agreed upon by Barcelona could go through despite the ban. [sport1]

    That’s not bad, at least we will be signing a keeper.

    The club sources indicated that they have 90 days to appeal. Now counting from today that’s could be well into the transfer market. If we play it nicely, we could still sign some, provided FIFA agrees.

    • PrinceYuvi
      April 2, 2014

      I say we cash in Valdes injury and sign a Liga goalkeeper too.

  71. LysdeXic
    April 2, 2014

    What’s done is done. Going into details won’t change anything. Roll with it. Wenger must’ve adhered to the said Fifa article laws, stipulations etc., that’s on the Kick News site.

  72. Messiah10
    April 2, 2014

    I don’t see this ban being enforced. We’ll appeal and they will fine us or suspend our 1 year ban unless further violations. Why is this now coming to light? Yet another attempt to destabilize the club. This is like a twilight zone episode and we can’t get ahead of looming disasters. How many clubs could be banned for this? Answer: all of them. At some point all big clubs have signed a player under 16-18 who; A: parents don’t move for any other reason than football related in said clubs country, B: Parents don’t live w/in 50 mile radius of border & said clubs country, C: a move hasn’t taken place inside the European Union between 16-18. This is FIFA going through the motions so they can say they did something to save face. They’ll let the appeal win.

  73. ciaran
    April 2, 2014

    Official response from Barcelona citing the education, accommodation, meals and integration for the young athletes. Support for their families on a social level.
    They went on to say that the person comes before the player.
    Cited examples of Messi, Iniesta & Xavi of the success of La Masia.

    It is being appealed and will be overturned in my opinion.

    • Jim
      April 2, 2014

      I’m not sure that would be considered relevant would it ? Poor show from the club if this is upheld although punishment seems a bit severe unless we were warned and did nothing about it in which case we deserve it.

      Funny how life works, isn’t it ? Valdes decides yo leave, runs down contract, gets injured then won’t be allowed to get the money he needs from a transfer and may end up playing for us again.

      I’m assuming we’d still be allowed to loan players out ?

      • ciaran
        April 2, 2014

        Well that’s what our official response was anyway Jim.
        Basically they are saying that joining La Masia isn’t like a normal transfer in that they include living quarters, meals and education primarily even citing occasions where they offered continued education to players who were not successful in their bid to become professional.
        The rules are there to stop the abuse and exploitation of minors and La Masia certainly isn’t exploitation.

        In reality of it wasn’t for La Masia the likes of Iniesta and Messi etc may never have become the players they are now.

        For me, I see the ban being overturned and a warning given. They can’t hold La Masia up a a beacon of how things should be done and then tell us not to do it like that.
        In fairness, even the Korean guys that are involved may never had an opportunity like the one given at Barca

        • ooga aga
          April 2, 2014

          wouldnt it be possibly to say — “yeah La Masia is great, but you shouldnt have broken the rules…” i dont know that is gonna overturn it…im pretty ignorant about the situation but all i can say is i hope we can delay the sanctions, splash some cash and set ourselves up to ride out the sanctions when the do hit…

  74. ooga aga
    April 2, 2014

    Satisfying to see “the special one” defending a 2-1 deficit only to give up yet another goal…i dont like PSG either, but moumou is moumou and the schadenfreude levels are high… 🙂

  75. This is a really annoying situation! La Masia provides some of the BEST education in Spain, both mentally and physically. I can’t think of many families who would not want their children to go there!

    As for the game yesterday. It’s really a shame we have to play Atletico, I would love to see them have a shot at the title – there is that Rocky I theme to their game. All in al though, I think it was a great match, even with the bus. That Diego goal was something else, I felt like Tata did, almost wanted to cheer. We have a tough task next week, but I have faith.

    And Bartra, jesus, he’s really come a long way since last year. I think he’s ready for these big games.

    Busi was phenomenal.

    Iniesta is plays a type of football that I can only compare to the Kantian sublime.

    Neymar, again, proves to be decisive, and Alba is having his best season yet.

    I think the Messi criticism is both deserved and undeserved. Sure, he can try to make himself more open, but I think Atl.’s defense should be applauded as well. They had him marked like a 5 year old with a sharpie.

  76. Jim
    April 2, 2014

    Diego Costa missing would be massive for us next week. He’s their out ball and biggest threat. I’m less worried about our defence with him gone. Despite good performances from Bartra and Masche last night playing at their home is another beast entirely.

    Mind you, when we criticise our defence and suggest improvements maybe we should look at how they do in Europe. Not impressed by Thiago Silva’s needless lunge to give away a penalty and David Luiz was pretty much his usual self.

    I’d still go with the four mids despite Cesc not really standing out. Then if we still haven’t scored by the hour mark switch Iniesta into his best position, bring on Pedro or Alexis and give it a real go. Important to rest. Two or three at the weekend, including Xavi.

  77. LysdeXic
    April 2, 2014

    If the transfer embargo sticks, It’d be a good time to strengthen what la Masia has now like never before. Build another force almost entirely made up of Masia & B team graduates. Just like the current squad. But with today’s demand for results, I don’t see that happening. In a way we’ve become like our friend Florentino Perez. We want results now. This current Masia first team isn’t the product of I want it now. They should all pull together ever more as a family now, from the youngest Masia players, through to the 1st team. What’s scaring the PTBs of world football? Barca’s starting to show glimpses of dominance again? If so, I hope Atleti progresses, so these paranoid freaks can set their minds at ease. Cough…

  78. TITO
    April 2, 2014

    Just as to be known, if already is not evident – for those who want Tata out:

    Numbers that match the best

    Martino’s record at the Barça helm stands at 37 victories, 8 draws and 5 defeats in official matches. His men have scored a total of 136 goals (2.7 per game) and conceded 37 (0.7 per game).

    These numbers are the second best in Club history when it comes to debutant managers. Only Helenio Herrera (1958/59) has a better record: 40 victories, 5 draws and 5 defeats. Pep Guardiola’s record is nearly identical to Martino’s: 37 victories, 8 draws and 5 defeats (133 goals scored and 42 conceded).

  79. IamXavi6
    April 2, 2014

    The players whose signings have brought about Barça’s ban from signing any players for one year are: Lee Seung Woo (under-16s), Paik Seung Ho (under-18s), Chan Kyul Hee (under-16s), Theo Chendri (under-18s), Bobby Adekanye (under-16s), Patrice Sousia (under-14s), Giancarlo Poveda (under-14s), Andrei Onana (under-18s) and Maxi Rolón (under-18s). It appears that the tenth player on the list could be Paraguay’s Antonio Sanabria.

    The Spanish Football Federation’s (RFEF) fine is for processing these players’ transfers.

  80. I am admittedly totally ignorant of what is going on, but I really can’t get over FCB being punished for provided international children with an incredible education. Meanwhile Fifa sells a world cup location to Qatar (admittedly a sponsor of FCB), a country which is employing slave labor. In what universe is attending La Masia anything but a gigantic opportunity?

    • Nav
      April 2, 2014

      I’d put money on this being masterminded by Perez and his ilk.

  81. April 2, 2014

    Much speculation, including that loaned players cannot return as part of the ban. A lot has happened today. Here is what seems to be sticking:

    — The ban is a shot across the club bow. The full hammer won’t come down, but some penalty will be accepted by us.

    — RM and Valencia, smarting over loss of some youth products to us, are rumored to have tipped off the investigators. RM and Atleti are also under investigation, as the real target is apparently Spanish football.

    — I don’t believe the ban will stand. The club makes some sound arguments inits rebuttal, beyond “Look at all the good we do!”

    — Transfers that have been agreed to (Ter Stegen, Halilvic) will stand. Transfer activity can take place during the appeal period. So appeal to high heaven while buying like crazy.

    — The club has known about and whistled past the graveyard on this one for at least a year. It was discussed by nzm here, but people were busy arguing about why Song/Mascherano/Neymar isn’t this or that. The club was negligent in assuming it would all dissipate.

    — The early transfer activity, and 120m mention from Bartomeu starts to make sense. Buy for the next two windows, then see what is what.

    — The club did these contracts to prevent Wenger-style poaching. Problem is that with FIFA, the law of the relevant country takes effect. In England, youth players can be signed to contracts. Not in Spain.

    — Much more to come.

  82. April 2, 2014

    Ter Stegen and Halilovic. In the unlikely event the ban stands, loan deals would be worked. The ban is for two windows, NOT two seasons.

    — It would then be time to ask questions about what B players are ready. True answer is none. But Suarez would promote. Adama would get lots of time, as would Ie and Bagnack. Samper would get some looks, as would Dongou.

    — As for first team players looking to move on, Puyol might reconsider. By all accounts, Falcao has said they are waiting for Valdes in Monaco this summer.

    • April 2, 2014

      Adama was back playing with Juvenil A today. He’s not even a full B team player yet. He will get some call-ups, but no way will he be getting “lots of time”. It’s not forwards that we are short of.

  83. Peter
    April 2, 2014

    Halfway through my evening jogging(which from aside looks more like a flesh-and-blood steam locomotive crawling along a horizontal plane), this is I realized suddenly:

    FIFA considers youth players the property of their corresponding league and country. While the Bosman ruling is the epitome of freedom of movement, this FIFA clause is in effect the polar opposite.

    While it’s true that youth player exploitation is a serious problem, the fact remains that the FIFA ruling is(to keep the current Greek myth theme) an actual Procrustian bed. There are a myriad of ways the situation can be controlled with success for all parties, but that would be too uncomfortable for the Governing body which is hellbent on retaining its supreme autocratic power.

    By targeting specifically the club which it has shown as an example of youth player creation, FIFA seeks to down more than one bird with a single stone:

    1. Show in no uncertain terms that FIFA is The Law(and the law is not mocked)
    2. Put the fear in other clubs(“If we could smite down those we showed as an example, what do you think we will do to you?”)
    3. Preclude the dishonest practice of robbing clubs, agents and federations from their FIFA-given right to transfer fees by actually forming and retaining players instead of buying them
    4. Last but very much not least, increase transfer fees and ensure a new reign of the clubs that spend most(while acclaiming “miracles” like Atletico and Borussia and using them as poster boys of the sustainable success).

  84. April 2, 2014

    Latest update is that all of the disputed signings happened during Rosell tenure. Recall his ire over losing youth players to England.

  85. Nav
    April 2, 2014

    Apparently Fifa made its mind up about the transfer ban back in November but made it public today. Why? Who knows. Time for some good ol fashioned ‘spiracy thoeries.

  86. April 2, 2014

    A-hem. *clears throat* lalalala. *breathes in*

    Once upon a time, there was Camp Nou
    Where we used to make a pass or two
    Remember how we laughed away the hours,
    And dreamed of all the finals we’d go to?

    Those were the days, cules
    We thought they’d never end
    We’d run and pass forever and a day
    We’d play the game we’d choose
    We’d fight and never lose
    For we were young and winning was our way

    la la la la la-la
    la la la la la-la

    Then, the busy years went rushing by us
    We lost our trophy notions on the way
    If, by chance, I’d see you in the Camp Nou,
    We’d smile at one another and we’d say

    Those were the days, cules
    We thought they’d never end
    We’d run and pass forever and a day
    We’d play the game we’d choose
    We’d fight and never lose
    Those were the days, oh yes, those were the days

    Just tonight, I stood before the Camp Nou
    Nothing seemed the way it used to be
    On the grass, I saw a strange formation
    Why is there only one lonely CB?


    From the stands, there came familiar singing
    I saw your face and heard you call my name
    Oh, my friend, we’re older but no wiser
    For in our hearts, the dreams are still the same


    la la la la la-la
    la la la la la-la

  87. LysdeXic
    April 2, 2014

    Qatar employs slave labour… Maybe FCB’s decision to normalize the situation in the middle East between Israel & Palestine with that ‘Peace Tour’, has come back to bite them in the buttocks. Karma does these things. One is the oppressor, the other’s the oppressed — respectively. An institution like ‘Mes Que Un Club’ – the same one that Alves questioned, for the treatment of his best friend, Abidal, should never have sought to ‘normalize’ the known occupation of a land by force, thereby acting like a patsy to an apartheid entity — another one of Rossel’s woes.
    Giving the idea that these are just two forces slugging it out, & seeking to detract from he glaring truth of the matter, that one side has been put into concentration camps in its own country for years, by its occupyer. BDS Catalunya condemed it, like they condemned the Shilat visit, & protested it. ))) Descending audio)))… -In other news around the world… FCBarcelona has been banned from making transfers for the next 14 months, which includes 2 transfer window periods- Err…

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