Categorized | Barcelona, La Liga, Review

Barcelona 2 – Getafe 2: Game, set and ma…


Before kick-off the Camp Nou paid a final homage to a man who, in all honesty, has simply been more culer than thou during his forty-five years on earth, Tito Vilanova. First we were shown a remembrance video in which several players bade him farewell, which was in my very personal opinion both moving and awkward. Then both teams observed a minute of silence, one that unfortunately was not respected by all attendees. Still, I think it’s safe to say that cancer has taken its (un)fair share of victims around the world, regardless of sex, skin color or supported football club, and no family has been completely spared. I can’t speak for all who were at the stadium, but I found it quite emotional and it gave me goose bumps. I even failed to notice they had kicked off already. In a classy move, Tito’s name was put on the match shirts and I for one would not mind if we did the same next season.

Spot the writer!

Spot the writer

So, are we finished then?

About the match, let’s keep it short. Barça weren’t bad without being particularly good, which on most days means that the team were a lot better than their opponent without creating all that many scoring opportunities. The problem is that we gave up three as well, from which they scored two. Heck, if you watched the game you’d be forgiven for thinking that Getafe passed the halfway line less than a handful of times and came back with two goals, which is kind of like the chorus of this year’s song. We control the match for eighty-five minutes and draw or lose it in five. Now the season is all but over and we can only hope that Atletico prevent M*drid from winning the treble, whether they do so in la Liga, in Lisbon or in both.

Taking the blame

Taking the blame

The blame game

As has become all too familiar, certain people named Martino, Dani Alves and Song get scapegoated for the loss. Dani Alves shouldn’t have given up that foul, they say. Dani Alves should have covered his flank, they write. Yes, but he gave up the foul doing the very same thing we all say our team is missing, aggressively pressing his opponents.

Martino shouldn’t have moved Busi to the defense and taken off Xavi for Song. What an idiot, is being yelled in unison. Funny how nobody lauded him for taking off Mascherano to insert Cesc, a substitution that arguably led to our taking the lead. And are the same people who blast our coach for taking off Xavi the ones who say that Xavi doesn’t have the legs to defend?

When you look at the goals, you have to feel for Tata. For Getafe’s first, Mascherano made up for a mistake with a foul that led to a free kick at which his team got caught napping at a trick play. For the second Adriano and Pinto were left to defend by themselves. I don’t think any coach makes those decisions for their players. I am not saying Martino should stay, but it’s a damn shame nevertheless, because for those first six months of the season it sure looked like we had a Barça coach.

This season nobody is to blame, along with everybody. If you really want to point your finger, I’ll give you a hint. Something flows downhill and it’s brown and smelly. If the board supported anybody else but the board, like our players and our coach for example, things might turn out different next year. As it stands, however, we can fear the worst. Our problem, apart from socis that don’t want to do anything about it, is institutional.

It's over

It’s over

Death of tiki taka

Let me get another thing straight. I am sick and tired of the term “tiki taka”. I never liked it to begin with – it sounds like a cheap Bangkok bar from which the rich and sleazy take under aged hookers with fake smiles and sad stories back to their hotel rooms. If this is the death of tiki taka, it can’t come too soon. What is it anyway, other than the evolution of a football system that uses fast and technical players that like to pass the ball a lot. Tiki taka by and of itself was never “revolutionary” to begin with. It was made so by legendary players and a very good coach. And just how it evolved from something that was already in place, the team needs to keep evolving to move forward.

There are calls for more strength and athleticism, which I agree with, especially in defense. For some reason fans want Reus, forgetting that we already have Pedro, Alexis and Neymar, don’t know what to do with Deulofeu and will hopefully find a way to develop Adama Traore into a first team player in the next couple of years. There is also a lot of noise about the need for an Arturo Vidal type player. Never mind the fact that we are stacked with some of the best midfielders in Europe, and we have Rafinha, Suarez and Samper waiting in the pipeline. As for that bite we lack, we got Mascherano being misused because we never bought adequate cover for Puyol and Abidal. If I were in charge I’d move Masche up a line, Messi back a line, and get a mobile striker who can both head the ball and make runs for through passes. But hey, I’m just another guy with an opinion.

Then there are those want the club to sell half the team and buy half the world. They draw comparisons with Pep booting out Ronaldinho and Deco. Let’s stop right there. Ronaldinho and Deco spent more time on the dance floor than on the training grounds. Today is not yesterday. Our guys, these extraordinary players, have always shown respect and dedication to our colors, up to and including this season in which we have finally stopped winning anything at all. The least we can do, as fans, is to give them the respect they deserve. Make no mistake, Barça has got to change and adapt. The team needs fresh blood and some players might have to go. However, the nucleus for another best team of the world is right there, in front of our eyes, losing the league in five minutes per game.

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370 Responses to “Barcelona 2 – Getafe 2: Game, set and ma…”

  1. ooga aga says:


    what a change a day can make. from the liga being over, all we need is one RM loss — it will happen today against Valencia…and we control our destiny. We will win the league, despite everything, and lift the trophy in our house. Levon I hope you have tickets to the game.

    This game sure is funny.

    Disclaimer: Yes, the team has issues. All teams do. We have been through some horrible, horrible times. Whatever. I want to see the joy on our boys’ faces in 2 weeks time, it will be sincere joy and it will be felt by every culer! Visca Tito and Visca Barca.

    • Levon says:

      If trying to win means drawing and handing M*drid the treble… I don’t know, I don’t think I could take that!

      Besides, Atleti really and truly deserve the league. Their fight has been epic. I’d be heartbroken for them if they threw it away.

      • ooga aga says:

        Let’s not worry about that! RM will do themselves in and have nothing to do with it. If I seem crazy, just call me an optimistic cule! (I know…they practically send you to the loony bin for that, these days….)

      • ooga aga says:

        Another remedy, if it comes to that….with 30 seconds left , game tied, we score an own goal! what a master troll that would be to RM…let’s do it!

  2. ooga aga says:

    And Levon I agree that we have the nucleus we need to win many more trophies. I think this coach could even help win us things, in better circumstances (and they can only get better), but thats not to say he is the best for the job. Thats just to say I really dont know. Anyways I appreciate that you are there viewing the games. I got to see a handful last spring including our win vs PSG and loss to BM.

    do you think that it was rude for people to scream “Tito!” near the end of the minute of silence? I couldnt hear the rest of what they were saying. It was sort of rude but also just sort of passionate and emotional. It gave me the sensation that Tito was literally present in the stadium and people were yelling to him. Sort of eerie in that sense.

    • Levon says:

      The problem is that it’s a minute of silence. Someone yells “Tito!” and another person shouts “Shut the hell up” and it kind of defeats the point of seventy thousand people holding one minute of silence…

      • ooga aga says:

        oh, i couldnt hear what they were saying besides “Tito!”…thats sad.

      • Jim says:

        Not sure what game I was watching but there was a moment’s silence and one set of supporters observed in silence while the other set clapped. Kinda liked everyone doing their own thing. The silence is amazing if you get it but it often doesn’t mean disrespect when someone shouts out.

        Btw, what was the silence for in the RM / Valencia match ? Was it Tito ? Beautifully and genuinely observed.

  3. Kxevin says:

    That equalizer was interesting. If you track what happened:

    +58: Alves passes directly to a Getafe defender.

    +1:08: Alves fouls at midfield touchline. This is when things get funky, as Getafe take a quick restart.

    +1:17: Alves is walking up sideline, gesticulating to the official. No. 10 for Getafe runs to sideline in open space as Fabregas, Song and Bartra all mark the same player.

    +1:20: Bartra sprints over to cover No. 10, who receives the ball in space.

    +1:21: Fabregas, Song, Adriano, Busquets all sprinting back, looking at the crosser as Getafe send 4 running toward the box.

    +1:23: The cross goes in and our defenders are still facing Pinto, with no idea of what is behind them.

    +1:24: Lafita heads home over Adriano, who had no idea what was coming.

    Would a proper defender have had the instinct to turn and face, as defenders so used to playing with back to goal? Maybe, but it’s hard to say that Busquets, Adriano and Song aren’t used to defending, which means understanding the risk that is coming the place you least expect.

    • Levon says:

      It was definitely weird, as if the whole team collectively lost their head at that play.

      • Jim says:

        I think they saw but assumed someone else would deal with it. The problem with only playing with one real defender and no captain in the back line.

        Two thoughts occur to me over the last couple of days. I’m assuming RM won’t slip up btw. They have hit form at a good time.

        First, we need to get rid of the Barcelona idea that you become captain just by being in the team long enough. The British idea of having someone who will boot backsides appeals to me more and more. Who ? Don’t know but Pique ‘s name keeps coming back to me. Puyol needs to let him know the value of anger in driving a team on.

        Secondly, to the avalanche of Tata must go. Posters. He seems to be going so it’s a moot point but he took us very close to three trophies in his first season. Is it not reasonable to expect that he would do better in his second? Or else, why do we say that about players ? He would have the chance to buy who he wanted this summer to do what he wanted. Keeping him would automatically give him that mandate. Do we really want to bring in someone who doesn’t know the problems we had and who will take time to get used to the squad. On a more general note, is that what we’ve become. You get one season and if we don’t win a CL that’s it. Is that being more than a club or no better than RM ?

        • Levon says:

          Interesting points, Jim.

          I count myself in between those who want to give him another chance and those who say who must go. I think it is very hard to judge him because of how he came into the club and all the off the field issues that have happened this season.

          What worries me is that, for whichever reason, he gave up on evolving (there’s that word again) this team and our style of play, which suggests to me that he lacks the motivational strength and/or the conviction of his ideas to do what needed to be done.

          Now I could be wrong and since I don’t see any clear successor (Van Gaal is off to Man U) maybe Tata is indeed the best option. This board however does not have the balls to keep him on.

          • Jim says:

            I’m not actually sure he did give up but I do think for a while the media blitz got to him. However, he now knows what it’s like, if he did give up and it didn’t work would he not now have the confidence to say “Right, I do it my way. ” ? If he wants to stay after what has hit the club this year he will be much stronger mentally, imo.

            Danger for me is we fritter another season with someone adjusting to a job, having players bought he didn’t want and coming up short.

          • agar2515 says:

            Im not entirely convinced by the supposed #1 candidate Luis Enrique, but hopefully at least he’d stick with ONE style throughout the season, with the players actually buying in to him. Tata never seemed to click.
            Too many lost points against minnows speak of a team ill prepared too often. He needs to go, though it’s not all his fault, me wanting him gone does not mean I am suggesting that.

  4. Cule says:

    Well, atletico’s loss means they are within our reach. If we win all our matches and RM manage to lose one, we will be champions. You never know…

  5. Cule says:

    Also, this means if we beat elche next week, we won’t have to give Atletico a guard of honor at Camp Nou, that’s been haunting me for a few weeks.

  6. mohit says:

    Valencia – park the bus, please!

  7. psalmuel says:


  8. justdoit94 says:

    1-2 valencia .. what a match

  9. norden says:

    Sorry, guys if this is a bit off topic, but I wanted to share with you my joy…

    Today, Sparta Prague became the league champions after 3 seasons without a trophy – which is a really long for this team. Four long years! This hasn’t happened since the 70s. A good reminder that history doesn’t win you trophies.

    The keys to the success, I think, were:
    – clear idea how we want to play (supported by coach, players and the owner)
    – patience (we had a generation exchange – lot of players are under 22)
    – trust (the owner didn’t sack the coach even if he hasn’t won anything – this doesn’t happen often here)
    – results (yes, they matter)
    – luck (even if we are good, we needed the other good teams to drop points)

    I guess, Barca could use some of the above as well 😉

    Have a nice day, I’m going to celebrate!

  10. Inamess says:

    Michael Corleone sums up our season!:

    • Peter says:

      Nice! 😀

      Oh well, if it comes to the last minute of the Barcelona – Atletico game and Barcelona without chances to win has to decide whether to hand the league to Atletico or Real, Pique scores a magnificent goal past Pinto to give Atletico the League…

      Do you applaud, jeer or laugh your ass off?

  11. PrinceYuvi says:

    Darn 2-2 again.

  12. justdoit94 says:

    wow, do u guys realize had RM actually lost today, and Atleti drew the match against malaga that the league would be in our hands ? who knew.
    Anyway, it’s only in our hands again if RM somehow draw against valladoid.. I dunno why i am saying this, everyone must have lost hope of la liga some time ago anyway

  13. agar2515 says:

    Well great 2-2. Unless my math is off there is nothing left to play for. Shut down the key players so they get their WC rest and start as many kids/subs as you can. It’s only two games. No reason not to. A. Madrid for the title please.

  14. Inamess says:

    Unfortuntely, the season is coming down to what many of us dreaded and somehow expected. It is the Cule’s dilemma–our version of Sophie’s choice if you will.

    Here is the scenario. It is the last day of the season May 17.

    Here is the Table:

    Atletico Madrid: 91
    Real Madrid: 91
    Barcelona: 88

    Barcleona v. Atletico at 2pm
    Real Madrid v. Espanol at 3:30

    Here is your chance to act as coach. What do you do?

    A) You play the B team and give Atletico to La Liga.

    B) You play to win, and if you do have a 95% chance of giving La Liga to Real.

    C) You do nothing and let Tata decide and now know why he makes the big bucks!

    • justdoit94 says:

      RM only have one match delayed, their maximum points before match day 38 is 89 points.
      Assuming all 3 teams win match day 37, it will be as follows

      Atleti 91
      EE 89
      Barca 88

      Assuming barca – atleti ends in a draw , table looks like this

      Atleti 92
      EE 92
      Barca 89

      In this case, atleti win la liga because they win h2h against rm

    • Inamess says:

      Sorry, you are right:

      Atletico Madrid: 91
      Real Madrid: 89
      Barcelona: 88

      Barcleona v. Atletico at 2pm
      Real Madrid v. Espanol at 3:30

      Here is your chance to act as coach. What do you do?

      A) You play the B team and give Atletico the La Liga title.

      B) You play to win, and if you do have a 95% chance of giving La Liga to Real.

      C) You do nothing and let Tata decide and now know why he makes the big bucks!

      • mohit says:

        All games will be played at the same time on the last two matchdays. So, it is in our interest to filed the best line up and go for the win because RM could theoretically drop points.

  15. Peter says:

    This is to answer Kxevin and everybody else. Thanks for the kind words, but I´ve been reading some real gems here and would like to answer to some of them a bit later.

    The question “Who do we sign?” is a very complex one and may have more than one right, as well as many more wrong answers.
    For me personally, and speaking from a position of pitiful ignorance (I barely have time to watch a few games per week), I can’t really talk about names, but requirements.
    For starters, I´d sign a fast left-footed tall CB. Laporte from Athletic seems a good fit for me, because he is young and can learn a lot. The fact that he is the junior player in the CB trio would mean fewer expectations and more of a learning role, at least for the first months. He shouldn’t be thrown in the deep end immediately. Second, he would be able to compete with Bartra and this competition would hopefully bring out the best out of them both. None of the two would be guaranteed a spot, but both would be available and eager to prove themselves.

    While I’m not so sure about him, I’ve started to warm up towards David Luis and it’s all Kxevin’s fault. I’m not so sure about him as a CB signing, because that would mean Bartra immediately becomes the omega in the participation department and for me that would be a disaster, because during this year he has grown a lot, both in experience, mentality, responsibility and also physically. Anyway, David Luis can play as left back as well, can play as a DM and CB and if Song is to leave, then I’d buy Luis in his stead. There is certainly a potential disaster looming when a player is played out of position, but David Luis from what I have seen from him can play as a DM(as a matter of fact he is put in that position in Chelsea) and his stature should allow him to help during set pieces in both boxes. Of course, I am speaking in ignorance, because I haven’t seen him play often. He certainly seems fast to me, if only for managing to run half the pitch in order to stop Pedro’s shot at the goal-line during the Confederations Cup last summer. His concentration can go at times but he can mature. In any case, I would have him, because he can be a versatile player. He’s also a player for whom playing in the Barcelona system would be almost a blessing, because he would be allowed to go forward with the ball as well as staying back. My only problem with him would be the fact that he is not Puyol. Barcelona need not just a defender, Barcelona really need a leader, someone who would fight for victory, someone to lead by example and the authority to demand it from the rest. That’s one reason why I would retain Mascherano and probably also give him the captaincy – because at this point Messi has the authority but is not leading by example, Xavi and Iniesta as well, and Pique himself often needs someone to tell him to focus. The rest are too young.

    From there the coach can have multiple combinations. Play Mascherano and David Luis as pivotes, Xavi/Fabregas on the right and Iniesta/Rafinha as false-LW, play a 4-4-2 with two pivotes, play a sort of lopsided diamond 4-4-2 with Xavi in his normal position, Busquets and Mascherano playing side by side, Messi as the point of the diamond and two wide strikers, a normal 4-3-3, a normal 4-3-3 with David Luis as left lateral. Versatility and height without compromising the attacking potential, this is what should be the objective for me. Of course, all that would need lots and lots of training, especially set-piece defense and offense. But once the team starts sweating their shirts from running up and down the pitch (like they did in the first Clasico, and it was f*cking marvelous) cohesion would build up, understanding and hopefully the flood of injuries would stop.

    Training, lots of training, absolutely no money tours, absolute authority from the coach, unity from the board and the bloody fans. In other words everything that Tata did not have when he started – and that can be a good start.

    P.S. Apparently after today Barcelona should also sign Keylor Navas (and his coach!) and use him side by side with Ter Stegen(and then sell Keylor once Masip is ready). However, Levante’s President has declared that it would cost 10 million to transfer Keylor Navas(5 millions if you want to shake his hand). 😀

    • ciaran says:

      I’m not going to keep going on about not liking David Luiz but he isn’t all that tactically versatile. Yes he can play as a DM but he couldn’t in our system, he holds the ball for way too long. He doesn’t ever play as left back as you suggest above and wouldn’t be starting at all for Chelsea if they had a fit Matic.
      Look, he is a good footballer but €30million? No, and good enough for us? No again.

      I am also on record as saying that Laporte at €36million is too much money and he would cost the full amount with Athletic qualified for the CL. Very good prospect but let’s take a season or two to look at him, especially in Europe next season and then decide.

      • Levon says:

        I have no problem with getting David Luiz but I don’t know whether he has ever played as a full back nor do I think he has the skill set for that position, and even less so on the left side of the pitch.

        I agree that Masche is a natural captain, but alas I don’t know whether he should be an undisputed starter for our club. I really hope we keep him, though.

      • agar2515 says:

        Completely agree here with ciaran. With all due respect Peter I have no idea how you came to such conclusions about Luiz. Playing as a DM in Mou’s system is in no way an indication of how he would play for us. The last thing we need is him bombing forward, making reckless challenges and giving away balls. Also, since we are dealing with Mou, and a club flush with cash with no reason to sell his cost would be around 30mil. An absurd amount of money for him. There are better CB’s out there for that kind of money.
        I hear Bayern seems to have Laporte on their radar which would be a definite loss.

        • Peter says:

          I agree and confess my absolute ignorance with David Luis. It’s all Kxevin’s fault anyway, he’s a known David Luiz apologist. :D. Last time I had good impressions from Luis was at the Confeds, last summer, but he fits the broad requirements I would look for in a CB for Barcelona.

          Like I said, I haven’t had time to watch more games than the absolute minimum(FC Barcelona + 1 more), so whether this and that player fit the team is not really my thing. With lots of qualifiers, a guy like Luis could work out for Barcelona, but like I said in a previous post, I wouldn’t really want to sign him as a starting CB because I have faith in Bartra and a young impressionable player like Laporte who isn’t vice-captain of a national team would be less likely to pout if he isn’t the undisputed starting top dog defender for FC Barcelona. Instead, he may be more likely to learn and compete for the starting spot – and what Barcelona needs are motivated players.

          In other words get them while they’re young and stupid 😛

      • Jim says:

        I watch David Luiz just about every week and although good on the ball I wouldn’t buy him, especially not at the price Mourinho would charge us. I’m afraid we’re not gonna get anyone who can slot into our first team and actually make a difference for less than £30m. Can’t have Mascherano as captain as he’ll not have much playing time, even if he stays which I doubt. We do need an on pitch leader, though and that’s a problem.

      • ciaran says:

        For me, it’s Mats Hummels all day long. He’s a great defender and a great footballer full stop. If we can’t get him for whatever reason then as a pure defender Mehdi Benatia should fit the bill. Roma were awful today with him not starting.

        I assume that Masch will be sold, just the impression I get from the rumours and that we will probably be buying a second centre back. He would make a great captain as a guaranteed starter for someone, assuming Napoli…

      • Peter says:

        I just follow Kxevin’s lead on David Luis here, for me he certainly looks too skinny, but I am comparing him to Puyol.
        I just haven’t had the time to examine any players that could fit the team. There are some who would want to sell Dani Alves and sign Cuadrado. Being this nostalgic culer, I want to recreate Abidal.
        Barcelona for me need a left-footed CB, strong, fast and good in the air. A left-footed CB who has had experience playing as a left back would mean that in a pinch Barcelona could play a back of three tall CBs(say Laporte, Bartra, Pique) with a midfield that includes Mascherano and Busquets.

        As for the price, if Barcelona doesn’t pay up, someone will. Bayern is one rumored contender, PSG last term paid 35 million for Marquinhos who is both skinnier and smaller than Laporte, City and United both have lots of money burning holes in their pockets, Arsenal and even Chelsea might be looking for CBs. If Barcelona doesn’t take a gamble, some club will contact Athletic and say “Shut up and take my money!”

        Are 36 million too much money? Yes and no. If it’s combined with the off-loading of some of the “deadweight” and their corresponding salaries and taxes, the money would be much less. Also, if that player’s presence helps Barcelona reach the final, half of his whole transfer fee(amortized during his contract duration) pays off just from the prize money, not to mention the “market pool”, especially if Barcelona takes out a La Liga club. And this is a young player, his salary would be a fraction of the salary of another established player, and his contract could be prolonged. Also Barcelona could always go the Real way and re-sell him, returning a percentage(that percentage may be above 100% 😉 ) of his total transfer fee.

  16. G6O says:

    Also, today’s results make yesterday’s lack of effort in the last minute even more criminal – if we had not allowed that goal, the title would have been in our hands now

    • justdoit94 says:

      I was just thinking what if… Man u could really feel down when u think of what if.. What if we hadnt conceded that late goal, la liga would actually be in our hands once more after all of this .
      My god i hope the players learned their lessons

  17. TITO says:

    When does RM play that game in hand?
    And, shouldn’t all the last round games start in the same time????

    • ciaran says:

      Wednesday night away to Valladolid. Valla are fighting for survival and are currently in the relegation zone but only by 1 point.
      Madrid then play Celta Vigo where Luis Enrique’s men would be playing for nothing except the possibility of winning us the league.
      They then have Espanyol as their last match but Espanyol will roll over and die as they usually do against Real.

      Atletico are at home to Malaga who have nothing at all to play for.

      We are away to Elche who look like they will stay up but could do with a couple of points to make sure.

      • G6O says:

        I wasn’t aware they play Espanyol the last game. That makes our calculus for the last game straightforward – if they do not drop more points, then we have to lose against Atletico. Because Espanyol will lose against RM.

        If that wasn’t the case, and the teams are in the following situation:

        1) AM
        2) RM, 2 points behind
        3) us, 3 points behind

        Then I would have played for the win but tried to keep it within a goal until the last minutes so that we can let a goal in if it becomes clear RM are winning.

        • G6O says:

          Correction – I meant draw against Atletico, we don’t need to lose. They have the head-to-head advantage against RM.

          • TITO says:

            Let’s see first what Wednesday brings.

            But looking at the way we are playing, it doesn’t look very optimistic that we will get a result against Elche.

            If RM drops points, that i will definitely not understand it if our players don’t raise their game beyond anything that they have this season.

          • agar2515 says:

            If on the last match day, Atl. need a win or draw against us to win the title, I hope we field Pinto and 10 pieces of wood. Simple.

  18. TITO says:

    But what about the last round? I find it very strange that they all don’t start at the same time.
    At least that’s a habit in other leagues. Especially if the circumstances are or will be as it appears. Strange.

  19. Kxevin says:

    What a match weekend. Ah, the ups and downs of not having your fate in your own hands. Valencia was brave and that bravery ultimately cost them, but let’s also give full credit: that was one pisser of a goal from Ronaldo. If he doesn’t score that one it changes everything. He not only scored it, but it was brilliant.

    So the specter of winning on the final day to give RM the title is still on. They have three matches left, and who knows, in this topsy-turvy Liga, which has been anything but boring. I was expecting a disheartened Valencia to roll over, but as someone reminded me, all of the other semifinal teams struggled in their matches this weekend. Chelsea drew. Atleti lost. Interesting.

    — David Luiz. I don’t know what CB we have on the cards. Nobody does except ZubiZa, but I know that I have heard too much and too often that a player “isn’t Barça quality,” or will do this or do that. My all-time great to this day is still Mascherano, the no-passing card magnet who will leave us playing with 10 men every match he starts.

    We don’t know what a player’s capacity is, or what a player’s capacity is to learn to adapt to a system. I don’t really know enough to be for or against anyone, but I know that the skills I see in Luiz make me not so completely steadfast against his purchase.

    — I know that many people have their coaching candidates, but as I commented in the last thread, if you look at what Laporta did for Guardiola and how he did it, it speaks volumes. Guardiola and Laporta was also the last time that a coach had the full and complete support of the board. I don’t know what candidates are real and which ones are figments of some journalist’s imagination, but I rather imagine they are looking at what happened to Martino, and trying to figure out ways to ensure that the same thing won’t happen to them.

    • Inamess says:

      I totally agree with Luiz. He is a hell of a player, but supposedly is tainted because he “makes mistakes”. I’m sick of all this talk about this or this player not being world class. At the right price he could be just what we need. Nobody is going to look good defending for Barca. It comes with the territory.

    • BA says:

      can’t let the bit about Mascherano go without some push-back. Mascherano is an excellent footballer and a good captain (in persona if not in practice), but his purchase was a big tactical mistake on the club’s part.

      he has filled in admirably at CB when called upon, but so has Adriano; that doesn’t mean we *want* either of them playing there or that that position is one in which we should have to put them. the purchase and conversion of Mascherano (a world-class defensive midfielder), instead of an orthodox center-back to fill the shoes of the departed Rafa Marquez and Gabi Milito, was an ad-hoc bit of hubris on the part of the club that we’re only now, after seasons and seasons of inadequate defensive cover, starting to address.

  20. Inamess says:

    Counterfactual History question:

    March 26: Barcleona v. Celta Vigo minute 19

    Adriano is called for a dubious handball at the edge of the box. The Barcelona players surround the referee after he points to the spot, and he now seems to have changed his mind. He’s now awarded a freekick just on the edge of the penalty area.

    The rest is too painful the recount.

    But there are questions:

    1) How would our season have been different had the referee had the guts to stick with his original call to award a penalty?

    2) Who bears the moral responsibility for the rest of the season that followed:

    A) Adriano for committing a dubious penalty.

    B) Barcelona players for questioning the refs decision.

    C) The ref for not having the balls to stand up to Xavi.

    D) Dark and Satanic Force that is punishing Cules this season for previous transgressions.

  21. Kxevin says:

    For anyone thinking there is a chance that Martino is staying, there is apparently video evidence of a row between he and Tello, where our hopefully sold in summer forward mouths off to Martino, saying it’s disrespectful that he is a “time wasting” sub, etc.

    For me this means he is leaving and the players know it. I would hope that it also means Tello isn’t in Blaugrana next season. That attitude is unacceptable.

    • agar2515 says:

      Beat me to the punch! lol

    • Peter says:

      I just watched it, and since I can’t lip read Spanish, I’d have to trust Cuatro. I’d rather trust Fox News that there’s a war against Christmas.

      • Peter says:

        Correction, just watched the catalan TV clip and from what I can get from the body language it’s absolutely unforgivable from Tello. He seems pissed, if not at Tata then taking it out on Tata. Bloody princess.

    • ciaran says:

      I agree that it’s the wrong reaction but I also understand Tello’s frustration.
      He has been completely wasted by Tata this season. Tello has played just over 900 minutes all season… the equivalent of 10 full matches and has 5 goals and 6 assists in all competitions. So he is responsible for more than a goal a game when he is played.

      Now, I don’t think that Tello has been overly impressive when he has played but since he got that hattrick he has hardly seen the pitch. I’m sure he would be delighted if Martino is gone at the end of the season. He would have been better off if he had been loaned out like Deulofeu was.

      • BA says:

        too bad Tello, like Sanchez (if the rumours are true) is RIGHT. i’d rather have angry players fighting for a chance to play with an intransigent coach than players sitting the bench passively collecting dust (Gio dos Santos?).

        totally agree with ciaran: Tello HAS been wasted by Martino this season. his speed is a weapon that one would think could work to good effect in the kind of system Martino wants to play, and what did Tello do the last time he started? a hat-trick, was it? then never given a real run in the team; i don’t know what more he’d have to do to earn a shot. yes, Pedro and Alexis have been good this season, and yes Neymar is Neymar, but some tactical versatility and better management of players’ minutes could have resulted in a better shot for a player who’s earned it with his limited appearances this season.

        personally i hope Tello stays on til we can kick Martino to the curb, then hopefully we can get a manager who knows how to use him.

  22. agar2515 says:


    Nothing more need be said about Tata then imo. If freaking TELLO is behaving this way towards him it seems so clear he is on his way out. Tata deserves much more than that. Regardless of his tactical decisions, you respect the coach, and certainly don’t try to show him up as he’s trying to help WIN THE GAME by subbing you on ( even if it is just for time wasting). Then again, Tello probably knows he’s off in the summer too.
    Just really terrible to see.

    • Kxevin says:

      He needs to sit for the rest of season. Or more correctly, sub him in the last two matches in the last 30 seconds of injury time.

      • 86ed says:

        I would get rid of him right away. Fine him his wages until we have shipped him out. I never want to see him play or even train for Barca again.

        • Levon says:

          I’ve felt sorry for Tello all season. Not anymore. He’s lucky Puyol wasn’t on the bench.

        • ciaran says:

          I think we should have a public stoning, or have him hung, drawn and quartered… Or burn him at the stake. Better yet, sacrifice him to the gods.

          It’s not like he pulled a Tevez and refused to play. We have no idea what went on but he had been treated like shit by Tata. I’d prefer him to stand up for himself than do a JDS and be happy to run down his contract in the stands

          • Kxevin says:

            You just don’t do that. No excuse for me. The coach is the boss. He decides who plays and when. You go in when you are told, and save any crap for another setting.

            For all Tello knows, he might have had the opportunity to be a hero and score the winning goal late in the match. It’s attitude, and attitude of a player who is a superstar. But even a superstar shouldn’t do that. The coach is the Mister. He runs the team.

            Tello was childish and unprofessional. It was for me, a crap move by a player who should know better, and wouldn’t have done to a coach who was staying.

          • Peter says:

            transfer him to Espanyol. 😛

          • ooga aga says:

            “treated like shit by Tata” ? ciaran i usually agree with you and love your posts pretty much always, but i dont agree here. tello has messi, neymar, alexis and pedro (…and iniesta…) ahead of him. he has not performed well enough, consistently enough, to get more time in these circumstances. too bad, but not Tata treating him like shit. if he wants to prove he deserves more, he should have run himself into the ground in those 2 minutes he had…thats all he can do…believe me, his attitude will be noted by Zubi and any incoming manager. We dont need that in our team.

          • BA says:

            seconded. disobedience is one thing, but players who are angry they aren’t playing more after doing well during limited minutes have the right motivation. i want players to climb over each other fighting to get into this team, and i’d rather have Tello, frustrated but talented and useful, than Sergi Roberto, compliant but tactically pointless, any day. the right manager can deal with the former; there is no room in this sort of team for the latter.

            all this “Mister” nonsense: that title and level of respect is earned, not given.

    • Inamess says:

      I hate to be the odd man out here. But I think this reaction against Tello is unfair. Barcelona fans do not know the exact state of the “locker room” and who has said what to whom. Only rumors and press “reports”. Maybe Tello has been a model citizen this year and just got upset during a private conversation with the coach. Maybe Iniesta put a whoopee cushion under Tata’s seat? We don’t really know exactly what is said by these players and coach behind the scenes.

      I have to say that from what I have seen I like Tello. He brings something different to the team and had the loyalty to stick around despite the club buying Neymar. Maybe he should have just pulled a Thiago and demanded a transfer to Liverpool. Then he wouldn’t be under so much perhaps unfair criticism and be further along in his career.

  23. sandesh says:

    One issue I have been realizing this season is that most teams around Europe have gotten better at playing against technically superior opponents by closing space and attacking in numbers. At least in EPL and La Liga, there is a trend towards some form of equalization compared to 2-4 years ago.

    This means it aint over until it is mathematically over. I still have (small) hope that Madrid may drop a point in the rest of the three games they have to play. I would want to play as hard as possible, and let the chips fall where they fall. If we beat Atletico and Madrid wins the title, so be it. I would rather have that than us rest players and then Madrid draw their last game, and we curse ourselves for not taking the risk. The important question is; with this climate in the locker room and general pessimism, can Tata come up with a system and motivation to prepare the team to beat Atletico?

  24. blitzen says:

    I can understand Tello being frustrated with his lack of minutes this season, that’s normal. But disrespecting your coach in public, when an important game is on the line? Unacceptable. Even Bojan didn’t do that. (Or Jeffren, who had more reason.) It is quite obvious to me that Tata has lost the dressing room, if he ever had it. We need a coach that inspires his players, even the ones who don’t get much playing time. That is something Lucho excels at.

    And yeah, Tello has to be sold this summer. He was on his way out the door already, but this will likely seal the deal.

    • Sangoku says:

      Agreed. I have the utmost respect for Martino and I really think he’s a great coach who could have achieved great things (in his first season in Europe!) had he had the backing of the fans and press, nevermind dealing with all the other crap we’ve endured this season.

      Frankly, I don’t know what I’d prefer anymore. I know that what the team needs now is someone who transmits enthusiasm to the players but I’m also curious to what Martino can achieve with players he brings on his own. When I look at Moyes’ situation, I think that one of the major problems he had was that he inherited a squad from a club legend. How do you manage that?

  25. agar2515 says:

    Am I REALLY reading people attempting to make excuses for Tello?! If Ronaldo did this can you imagine what we would say? Then again, at least CR has EARNED the clout to pout. Tello behaved petulantly, choosing to vent his own frustrations at his coach, on the pitch, on television, with a game still needing to be won. I dont care how slighted he feels, RESPECT THE BADGE. 1000% agree with Kevin, it’s inexcusable.

    • ooga aga says:

      agree with kxevin, agar and the other re: Tello. I watched the game (on TV) live and could tell by body language and face that Tello was mouthing off to Tata, who as far as I can tell is someone I would like to have a beer with. Not a bad guy. Tello on the other hand has always seemed to me a bit cocky, vain, and entitled, and this seals the deal. while he has had flashes of brilliance he has never been consistently good enough to earn anything more than what he has been given by Tata. Believe me, I am sure Tata would have loved to play Tello more, if he thought he could have faith in him, and if the league werent so tight. Instead Barca havent been consistent enough to have any breathing room, meanwhile messi cant be touched, neymar has to play due to his big $ signing, and pedro and alexis are both much better than Tello. Tata has done no wrong. Tello is in wrong place at wrong time, too bad. But he has no right to act that way towards Tata.

      Of course, now that I spewed off all that, who knows what really happened. Alexis supposedly refused to take his Copa medal due to a spat with Tata, for all we know he had to go wee-wee. Nothing ever came of that, and maybe this is all a media creation. But like I said it doesnt surprise me given my impressions while watching the game in real time.

      • Inamess says:

        That is an interesting point! Why so much rage against a youth player who we know will not be in the side next year? If he is not just a scapegoat for all of our disappointment with the side this year then I think it is fair to be equally critical of Alexis for supposedly calling Tata a coward and not getting his medal.

        We don’t know everything about the Tello and Sanchez incident and shouldn’t it really be up to Tata about what to do. For all we know each may have apologized for acting like an ass and Tata may be OK with it or not. It’s Tata’s decision.

      • G6O says:

        I also had such thoughts when watching the game, and expected to see it be discussed after it. But then seconds later Getafe scored and that was obviously a lot more distressing so I kind of forgot that episode. But apparently I am not such a bad readers of body language after all.

        Definitely completely unacceptable and he should not be in the team next season

    • Inamess says:

      “Earned the Clout to Pout” is an awesome summary for CR. I also like “Done the Jive to Dive”.

  26. Inamess says:

    I really like sandesh’s point about how smaller sides are getting better at challenging the giants by becoming better teams and attacking and defending better in numbers against their opponents.
    For me football is a team game and individual statistics, while interesting are usually misleading.

    Who scores a goal or gets the assist or is “responsible” when the team concedes a goal. These may be easy questions to answer, but is that all football is about? Maybe those aren’t always the best questions to ask or how we should judge a player. Most of us really only get a chance to see a player who is in view on our TV screens but we don’t really know what each player’s contribution is over the entirety of a game.

    We think we know our players really well and know about the payoffs they bring to the team.

    Alves and Alba contribute to a lot of goals but are also responsible for conceding many too.

    Messi is the best player in the world, but the fact that he doesn’t or can’t press to much diminishes the side. Maybe the player most responsible for an opponent scoring on a counter is not Masch or Valdes but Messi because he didn’t press more up-field.

    We can debate on and on each of our players weaknesses vs. strengths or who is better as well as the value of potential transfers but sometimes this is not that easy to judge.

    Sanchez is great is demon when pressing and defending but also misses “easy goals”. This seems like a fair assessment. However, what I think most of us don’t take into consideration is the talent and effort he puts in to score his goals or even to miss his “sitters”.

    Similar things could be said about Pedro and you could say he is a more reliable goal scorer than Sanchez, but maybe Pedro does not have as much ability to be in the right place at the right time to “miss his sitters” because he doesn’t have the talent earn as many.

    All this leads me to an idea that might be interesting to look at so we may more fairly judge our players’ value. I wonder if there is a statistic available that factors how many goals a team scores vs. concedes while that player is on the pitch.

    For me this would be useful in further evaluating all the questions we constantly debate for the players in our side. For example:

    What is Iniesta’s real contribution to the side? We all love his magic with the ball but how much does he really add to our offense and defense. He may be the most underrated or overrated player in all of world football.

    Who is really better to have at left back Alba or Adriano?

    Is Fabergas a bust that we didn’t realize was so slow or is he the most underrated player on our team? Maybe Xavi still has the ability to look like a boss in midfield, but maybe the team does not actually pull out the victory until he is removed for Fabergas?

    The statistic would look like this: team goals scored minus conceded for each 90 minutes a player is on the pitch in La Liga or Champions League games. I know there are flaws in this statistic but who do you guys think would rank very high or low in this category in the side?

    My best guess is that Pique ranks really high in this category. I would also argue that another high performer is the now demonized Cristian Tello. On the other hand, the player who ranks lowest is probably Pinto, but this should not be another opportunity to a bash player who has been very important to our side in other ways and was unfortunately put into a no win situation.

    Other than those, I really have no clue about most of our other players. I would love to have some feedback about who people think would score high or low in this statistic on our team. Thanks!

  27. bhed says:

    Interesting, sabermetrics for football. I wonder if any teams are doing this on a serious level.

    • Levon says:

      Some do. Absolutely. Problem is with football is that it is a lot harder to judge statistics than say, baseball, which is almost an individual sport in a team setting, or even other sports like basketball or hockey where there are only five players on the pitch/court/ice/whatever.

      • Inamess says:

        That I think is the value of such a statistic. It requires no fancy technology or abstract formulas and is completely objective. It also gives us a better way to value midfielders since it is often their play that is most influential in a team scoring or conceding a goal. It could tell us for instance whether Mou was a genius or a moron for getting rid of Mata in a year that he might have been decisive in the SF.

        It is also good from a team’s/coach’s perspective. You were on the pitch when the team scored or conceded so you in part are responsible for either. It just seems like a good mentality for a side to have, particularly for a side where there is a healthy competition for playing time.

        • Nik says:

          The data is objective, but its interpretation is subjective.

          • Inamess says:

            You are right. I completely agree that the stat has flaws. But isn’t every statistic subject to interpretation except, of course, wins and losses. As we are finding out as Barca fans stats like number or percent of passes completed, kilometers run, or even a team’s percent of possession don’t tell the whole story.

  28. senyera7 says:

    Hey Kxevin,

    I have a friend who’s a huge culer and also a tech whiz. He wants to set up a site dedicated to “The Pep Years” . A huge and extensive site with match reports,news and the like. So I was wondering if maybe you maintained the archives from the offside blog? Those articles would be perfect for his site. (Don’t worry, credit will be given)


  29. Chiu says:

    after RM vs Valladolid game, we will get better view about the permutation of last matchday. hope valladolid can hold draw RM at the minimum. Keep hoping guys. Visca Barca!

  30. Ultraculé says:

    Levon, Now I am convinced that you and I have a most similar mind.
    I have often wanted to express my frustration at this ‘Tiki taka’ being bandied about as some legitimate term for a long while. You have managed to express it exactly as I’ve wanted to. I’ve never gotten where it began, and how it managed to remain and used by various commentators, pundits and journalists alike.

    It just sounds so cheap. Its tiki taka sometimes, or tiki taki and tippy tappy football. Are you freaking kidding me!

    Well done though man. Finally the ridiculousness of this term is documented somewhere!

  31. Ultraculé says:

    Further As Iniesta himself mentioned in a great interview long ago, for him and the team, this style (tiki taka..UGH) was pragmatic and presented the best chance of bossing and then winning a game. When you have players like xavi, messi, iniesta, busquets, pedro, alves, alba etc – small, quick, technical players who can pass short and move extremely well, the style ends up looking or sounding like tiki taka.
    no one calls the chelsea style ‘pow bang crash’ do they?

    This so called death of tiki taka(again ugh) is not because people have found us out and figured out a way to nullify it. Hell no! The death or dying is only due to the players not executing, not moving, not believing enough. That is simply it. Because when this fool proof system is executed the way it should be, there is simply NO tactic that can suppress its efficacy for too long.

  32. Ultraculé says:

    And what exactly is the game fate trying to play here?
    Even though a liga title win dedicated to Tito would be a fitting send off to puyol and Valdes, I am not quite sure if Barca deserve the league this year. Atleti really do.
    Also, if there is a chance Puyol could play a last game in front of his home fans, would Barca really go for a win against Atleti if they knew it’d hand EE the league? Wake me up when the season’s over please. I am spent.

    • Peter says:

      Deserving has nothing to do with it. If teams went to the final based on what they deserve, Borussia would’ve gone to the semis. Barcelona would’ve squeezed a point at least from Granada and would’ve won against Levante.

      Atletico are a great team, but in the long run they need the other La Liga teams to play them as they would a normal team, not Barcelona or Real Madrid.

      If the situation was reversed, if Atletico and Real each had gotten half of what has been heaped onto Barcelona, they would’ve imploded. Imagine Atletico going in the QF at Camp Nou without Courtois and Miranda or Real playing the CdR final with Nacho and Varane in defence and facing an intact centre pair flanked by Alba.

      Anyway, we’ll know what happens in two weeks. Hell, the horse could learn to sing.* 😀


  33. Rami says:

    “Getafe and in camp nou… Oh god this is gonna be a drag, At least i’ll enjoy the goals”
    How many of us had this exact thought or something similar, But here is an interesting question, What goes on in the players heads before such a match?
    Am i suggesting complacency?…No, Because complacency suggest something deliberate, Voluntary, Some self awareness is involved, But i believe when our boys say they still give it their all on the pitch like they always used to, Or at least think they do.
    When we were kids growing up, Did we notice our voice changing?, We could have swore that our voices are exactly the same as before, It’s only when we watch an old video until we realize how much we’ve changed.
    After winning so many trophies, Thrashing so many teams, Your attitude, Your way of thinking starts changing, But not in a ‘superficial’ way like we may think, But in the deep layers of your subconscious, Unaware of and out of reach, You can sit in front of a mirror all day long and convince your self how important today’s match is , But you can never approach it the same as before you were saturated with success.
    Why does it take just a few shots from the opponent to score while we need so many, Is it tactics?,Individual errors?, Bad luck?, , A bit of each actually, Yet these don’t explain why do they happen so frequently, Maybe because the opponent is willing to go for that extra inch, that extra millisecond, We?, Well we don’t go for that extra of course, We’re barca, We’ll just create another chance, And here is the funny bit, We actually do!!, Again and again, But it never goes in, The opponent is always that many inches and milliseconds ahead of us.

    It’s human nature to try to explain the unknown, Maybe the unknown makes the brain uncomfortable. Blaming, Finger pointing, Scapegoats, Perhaps all exist as a response to a basic impulse, But i think there is more to it than that, There is some sort of self gratification and sense of accomplishment when someone thinks he knows ‘the answer’, Not only he knows, He can even point his finger at them, X,Y and Z, And in many occasions prejudice is present before hand.

    • icemel says:


      Too weary to be disgusted, ready to pull for Athletico, waiting for the world cup
      …and in the secret recesses of their minds a lot of the team probably feels the same.
      Fin du cycle is a bitch.

  34. fotobirajesh says:

    Peter, thank you for those amazing comments. You should apply for a coaching job at Barca.

    I like Tata, but I feel very sorry for him. The Tello moment just substantiated my thoughts on our coach. He seems to have listened too much to the squad and enroute forgot his own methods and authority and is now paying for it, by taking negativity even from some youngster like Tello. What happened to all those values taught at La Masia.

    I hope Tata resigns, before the Club will fire him, to give some pride. Football wise, I cant agree with Tata only for couple of things. We played 5 matches with Atletico, couldnt win even ONCE. Didnt see any tactical understanding or improvement from him,in those matches.
    Secondly, when Alexis and Pedro was on superb form, sidelining them. It is incredible that Alexis, Messi and Pedro has the same number of liga goals as BBC, who are applauded widely.

    • Peter says:

      I can assure you that what we discuss every day the staff at Barcelona are doing as well, just having much more inside knowledge and the experience to use that knowledge. Fans and especially armchair managers like to think that President, board, coach, staff have no friggin idea and are just getting millions for doing nothing(which is the dream), but it’s nothing like that.

      My comments may seem nice, but that’s because I speak in general terms. For example, the idea that if Barcelona stop the forward pressure the defensive effort from other teams would drop as well depends on a zero sum balance if I may call it that. In other words, if Barcelona drop back, the other team may sit contently in its own half and leave with a happy draw. 😉

      Furthermore, even the requirements for players are subjective and may not be rooted in reality, but instead in nostalgia! And even if the subjective requirements are met it doesn’t guarantee success – because it’s human beings interacting, not pixels on the PS4 with stats attached. This is the “secret” behind every giant slaying we have seen this season. Two teams of eleven human beings go out on the pitch. If both teams play as teams, then the one that has the better combination of skill and cohesion would be more likely to win. Sometimes it’s just down to individual brilliance during ten seconds that turn a whole game on its head.

      Often, however, games are decided by which side is willing to go a little bit further and force itself more. I believe that the extraordinary success of the 2008-2009 team had lots to do with Pep and his pruning and bringing in guys who were prepared to go the extra meter, not mile, just the extra meter, in order to win. The rest, the players left from the 2007-2008 squad had a lot of pent-up anger and frustration from the last Clasico of the season, when they had had to form a guard of honor for Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu before the Clasico. Guys like Puyol and Valdes apparently swore to die before they suffered that dishonour again. The fact that the culerada was united behind the team when that team started winning again, adopting the players, even the new ones in the family, that helped a lot as well.

      This is why I hate the current entitlement tantrums from the fans and the entorno. They were united behind and protective of the players in the 2008-2009 season because those players brought back the joy. This sense of protection is why Mascherano Song, Alba, Alexis, Neymar and Fabregas get the overwhelming majority of the scorn and blame – they came later, when the Six Trophies were already won. It’s funny, sad and ridiculous at the same time, but Mascherano, Villa, Alexis, Cesc, Adriano, all of these were brought by Saint Pep. Saint Pep who just lost a semi-final against Real Madrid 0-4 at Alianz Arena.

      In the end, I think the only way for the “new guys” to win the affection of the culerada would be to to win multiple major trophies without the old guys – but it would still be chalked on “Messi is still the engine”. The situation is that ridiculous.

      • fotobirajesh says:

        A trophy less season, I hope, will bring bang that passion for that extra meter.
        For the moment, I cant see Barca doing anything other than ‘Messi is still the engine’. In many ways, this is the worst season of Messi in some time, but still is a lot ahead than the other scorers, inspite of Bus watching on the pitch, and inspite of him not being the focal point of attack.
        I am really hoping we wont sell Pedro, Alexis, Cesc and Masche.

      • Kxevin says:

        Absolutely spot on, Peter. The only player with pre-existing scorn was Henry, who arrived before Guardiola.

        I always bang on about double standards and certain players being scapegoated, and people just yell at me and call me a biased jackass, “Sanchez’s Mom” and the like. But as you point out, there is an intolerance among culers that is unsettling, all rooted in this notion that winning is a birthright or something.

        In more than 100 years of existence, Barça has won the Liga championship less than 20% of the time, which is still an astounding success ratio. But failure is the norm, not only for our team but for EVERY team. Sevilla supporters just want to win a match.

        Should we have higher standards because we have better players and a more sparkling past? No team should ever settle for adequacy or not trying its absolute hardest. Yet ours has settled for precisely that too many times this season, and that isn’t the fault of any one player or coach. Run. You want to make tika taka work, then bust your ass to make a passing angle for your teammate, rather than leaving his stranded in the midfield with the ball, wondering what to do.

        Chase someone, tackle someone, DO something to ensure that your team gets the result that it needs. Yes, the board is a bunch of festering fuckheads. So win in SPITE of those assholes and their efforts. Spit in the face of Fate.

        It’s funny that no player is ever good enough for this team any longer. Imagine signing Iniesta right now, and hearing that “He never scores goals,” or Messi. “Another midget. For how much? This stupid board will never sign a 9.”

        And so on.

        Analysis is fun, as we armchair quarterback our way to the perfect team. I just think that too often, analysis goes beyond that into bashing and vendettas. The players don’t know or care that certain people think that certain players are shit and will always be shit. But it goes into a collective karmic pool that, based on my silly cosmic notions, has an effect.

        It’s gloom and doom. Nobody thinks, even if RM drops more points, that we can beat Atleti. Why? We haven’t this season, and why would we start now? But who thought Valencia would draw RM, or that Levante would beat Atleti? You play the matches, do your best and see what happens.

  35. ciaran says:

    All of the talk of the possibility of us winning the league is still attached to the hope that we can beat Atletico in the last game. Tata has tried 5 times and hasn’t managed it yet. His game plan has been identical every time. His line up has been practically the same and every single time we’ve looked toothless.
    If he lines up with Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc, Messi & Alexis or whoever up front I’ll go mental.
    I hope he has the balls to actually try to win the game.

    It would be funny if Luis Enrique’s Celta ended up being the team to give us the opportunity to win the league on the final day; assuming he takes over a couple of weeks later.

    • Kxevin says:

      But we have done better than RM against them, yes? Neymar unfortunately isn’t going to be an option for that match, or I would suggest a front line of Pedro/Neymar/Sanchez. That, for me, would show that he had the balls to actually try to win the game. Then Messi comes on at the half when Atleti is feeling the effort a bit, and off we go.

      It all comes down to us beating Elche, and one of the two teams RM has to face before the last week of the season taking points from them.

      Ah, for want of a goal …

  36. blitzen says:

    According to media reports, Zubizarreta is meeting with Luis Enrique at his home right now.

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      Zubi ?
      Really ?
      What month is this ?
      Must be August.

    • Peter says:

      I know it’s just theoretical at this point, but if Martino wins La Liga and is then fired/resigned, it would be the first time probably in history when a coach wins two trophies and is fired. What does that say about FC Barcelona, the culers and the entorno?

      • G6O says:

        RM have done that on numerous occasions

        • Kxevin says:

          Many have warned about us becoming RM-like in our approach to things. You take a terrified board and yes, there is going to be a hair trigger.

          I know this will upset the “Tata out!” camp, but continuity isn’t a bad thing at this point. United lost at home to Southhampton this weekend. I reckon the “Moyes is clueless” crowd was either silent, or considering how to shift their argument.

          Firing a coach is easy. Fixing the deeper problems is more difficult. No one coach or player is going to fix the stuff that is “wrong” with our team.

        • Peter says:

          My point exactly. Thanks.

      • PrinceYuvi says:

        I think zubi don’t have a choice.
        Tata must have pushed the Exit button.

  37. Kxevin says:

    Meanwhile, Balague is blathering on about how other teams have approached Messi, and he thinks he is going to renew until 2019, blablablabla.

    Messi is, and has always been about as likely to leave Barça as Iniesta was during those negotiations. Both players said they want to stay with the club, and have made that clear. So any hooey about “so and so wants to sell Messi,” or “RM tried to buy Messi,” is so much silly season bollocks.

  38. Peter says:

    I would like to post this link to Euler’s post from November 2011, about the defeat against Getafe.

    Read it carefully and tell me if you can spot any similarities…

    • kosby says:

      wow..the similarities are eerie !

    • ciaran says:

      There are similarities. We still play on the same way and still have troubles against the same type of teams.
      From a organisational standpoint we are still the same group of fans with the same expectations which hinders more than it helps.

      The things that we lack from a sporting side are the same, energy, decisiveness, long distance shooting, height and the ability to win a match when we don’t play well.

      They often say that the sign of a champion is the solu to win when you are not at your best and we don’t have it. When we play poorly we invariably lose. There’s no middle ground for us, we play well and win 4-0 and then a couple of days later we drop points because we are not at our best.

      I think that’s our biggest problem, we are now in a situation that unless we play well we lose and that is unacceptable for a group of players this talented. We see 70% possession and maybe 3 or 4 half decent opportunities and we waste them and give up 2 and concede. I don’t have stats for it but I’m guessing that we concede the most goals per chances conceded in the league.

      When I have spoken about the signings I would like to see I’ve always maintained that I would like a midfielder capable of scoring goals and a striker capable of scoring goals that we don’t currently score.
      I’m not saying that we need to sign a 6ft 4in striker and loft the ball forward at every opportunity but having someone who might win a header doesn’t suddenly mean we won’t play good football. Watch Jackson Martinez and tell me that he couldn’t get goals that we already can’t.

      In midfield we have no one capable of shooting from long range either. Xavi, Busquets and Iniesta are almost no goal threat whatsoever

      • Kxevin says:

        That goals conceded to chances would be interesting.

        • ciaran says:

          The type of football we play has led to an inequity.
          The quality of chances that we give up does not equate to the quantity of chances that we create in order to score.
          Our style of football, Whatever you want to call it, was an offensive and defensive style combined to diminish the amount of chances that we give up and allow us to create a lot of chances.

          Now, we have 70% possession and sometimes have 20 shots on goal, from which only a couple are genuine goal scoring opportunities. We then give up 2 or 3 one on ones in which we seem to concede too many goals.

          I’d like if we could have a match where we don’t play well and score from a long range shot or a header or something but it doesn’t happen.

        • ciaran says:

          Just some quick calculations.

          Shots conceded per league game:
          Barca 8.9, Atletico 9, Real Madrid 10.9

          Total shots conceded
          Barca 320, Atletico 324, Real Madrid 381

          League goals conceded:
          Barca 32, Atletico 24, Real Madrid 36

          Shots to goals ratio:
          Barca 10:1, Atletico 13.5:1, Real Madrid 10.58:1

          So we do concede more goals per shots than Real Madrid though only slightly but on average a team needs to take 3.5 more shots on Courtois to score than on us.

        • ciaran says:

          Just another quick calculation…
          Pinto in his time since Valdes’ injury has faced 49 shots in league games and conceded 7 goals. 7 shots to every 1 goal conceded compared to Courtois’ 13.5.

          This just proves how badly we miss Valdes.

          This doesn’t even take into consideration whether a shot is on target or not. Damning statistics on the different between world class goalkeepers and, let’s just say, average ones.

          • Kxevin says:

            What were Valdes’ numbers, ciaran?

            I also wonder whether the shots to goal calculations look at quality of chances. Generally because of the differences in how we and Atleti defend, if someone gets close enough to our keeper it’s usually a higher-risk chance than trying to shoot through the Atleti back line, there in place.

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      Scary similarities aside, Gorgeous article.
      Compared to any other football forum, articles here are insanely good.

      Old ones are all pure gold too.
      Felt like christmas when I first stumbled down here.

      At the EE blog, there’re plenty typos, some more swear words & remaining is meh.

      In earlier post, someone provided a link which pointed out Chinks in Atleti’s defence – halfspaces, switching play from flank to flank & such.

      I found nothing new in it.
      As I had good fortune of reading kari’s articles
      & digging old ones,
      I already guessed those points correctly.

      Seems like a good time to be grateful for all the teaching.

  39. KEVpitt says:

    Cool interview with aguero and messi liked his comment about Figo.


  40. barca96 says:

    I like what Alves did last weekend but I fear that some fools want to see more of it. A fan provoked Papa Diop hoping to get a reaction.

  41. blitzen says:

    A good piece from El Pais on Zubi and how the current board is letting him take the flak for decisions they themselves endorsed (Spanish):

    • Kxevin says:

      It’s funny, when some crazies were saying that we didn’t exactly yet really KNOW whether ZubiZa was Transfer Satan with extra stupidity, the stonings began. Ah, well. Time will tell.

      I still believe our technical staff is defined more by what they have NOT done than by what they have done.

  42. Inamess says:

    Here is my theory on the whole Tata question and I apologize upfront if some may find it offensive or even think borders on conspiracy theory.

    My conclusion: Tata is and was going to be fired even if by some fluke the team wins La Liga.

    Whether cules want to face it or not this year does mark “The End of an Era”. As I said before, there is no shame in that. The team will be significantly different next year as our last “End of an Era” 2007, when we hired Pep and he revitalized the team.

    The facts: Since January, this season has been a horror story where almost everything seemed to go wrong for the club. It has been marked by many things that made being a fan of this club a painful experience. These include:

    1) Losing or drawing against many inferior La Liga sides which will probably make us lose La Liga unless some fluke happens. Had we not lost to so many of these teams, we would have already clinched the La Liga title at this point.

    2) Being in the same League as a “Cinderella Story” that has performed much better this season by being what we are not. Athleti play a hard, aggressive, team oriented style that has not lost many games against inferior teams until its last game against Levante. They have also been able to do this on a fraction of our bloated budget for wages and transfers.

    3) We lost in the quarter finals of the Champions League against the above team. In addition, the success of this Athleti is our only hope of the ultimate humiliation for the club and its supporters: a Real treble and Decima.

    4) The team was forced to compete in its most significant games this year with an incredibly deficient CB team and goalie due to injuries to Valdes, Pique, and the chronic lack of fitness of Puyol, the team’s leader and most respected player.

    4) We lost a beloved coach to cancer who was an integral part of the team’s most successful period in its history.

    Now, the question for cules is what is the take home message for this year and where do we go from here. As I see it, there are two dominant competing narratives:

    Narrative 1: The board and Zubi has been incompetent in its transfer purchases over the last 5 years, including not buying at least one quality CB over the last three years and this as Kxevin has said “bordered on criminal”. At the same time our purchase of Fabergas may now have been a disastrous move particularly if he returns to EPL since it will cost us the loss of 2 world class midfielders: Cesc himself and Thiago. The consequences of this if it happens will almost rival that of selling Eto and buying Ibra in that the club has lost two world class players at a position while getting none in return.

    The board should resign for sitting idly and doing everything except improving the team while our rivals have gotten much better. Furthermore, the club, its players, and the Catalonian media have been so provincial that they did not let a capable manager from another country have a chance to implement his ideas for the team, which may in fact have been successful even if its full implementation would have meant a change in the teams identity, style of play, and change in some of its key players, including some legacy players who would not be as important in the new style and may even need to go because their talents were not suited to it. You could argue about who these players would have been, but they certainly include Xavi and Alves, but maybe other players as well. We can only find out what Tata’s complete preference for his team would have been if he writes a tell all book, but unfortunately that won’t happen because nobody would argue (even his biggest detractors) that Tata is not a class individual.

    The club has become too provincial and xenophobic in its glorification of its style of play and its established La Masia products which has unfortunately become “sacred” and is now somehow become tangled up with Catalonian Nationalism. This has also made it really hard on any new player who comes into the club because it’s really hard to come in as an outsider who is unfamiliar with this style of play and finds it hard to fit into a team culture in which insiders are much preferred to outsiders. Finally, The tragic death of one of the team’s beloved coaches I think will now also add to this narrative as now the club will now justify its moves as “Tito would have wanted us to do this”.

    Narrative 2: The club brought in an outsider as coach, who while being a nice guy was not up for the task and really was not ready to coach the team because he was an inexperienced, did not know the intricacies of the club, its culture, its style, and its traditions, or how to inspire and lead the players. The lesson is we need to hire a club legend to coach the team again and have a rebirth under our new Pep.

    Unfortunately Narrative Two seems to work for everyone.

    Again, I humbly submit this for consideration and am not trying to knock a team that I love when its down.

    • Kxevin says:

      You make some excellent points. Just a couple of things:

      — Rumor is that Martino chose to leave the club, activating his out clause, if you believe the rumors to that effect. Others on the heels of that rumor claimed that the board wanted him to stay, but he wanted to leave.

      — If you don’t fix the problems at the top, a new coach and players are just window dressing.

      — If you look at our starting XI, it’s hard to think of a player you could easily replace, and who you might replace him with. The quality is there, but the brain isn’t. This team is fried. The World Cup and immediately after Euro qualifiers couldn’t have come at a worse time for players who need to go lay on a boat for a month, hang with friends and cuddle their loved ones.

      — Martino shows the folly of hiring a coach and saying “Here’s a bunch of players. Now be brilliant. We will be over here in the corner, conspiring about getting our new stadium.”

      Any coach will want input into player decisions. Word was that Martino was a one-year caretaker, which is looking increasingly likely. Even with all that went on, he almost pulled a rabbit out of the hat. Commendable. He also did it with class and style, which is even more laudable.

      — Our defensive problems begin not at the back line, but at the front line. Our gala XI contains Messi and Neymar, two players with no real interest in tracking back. So right away, we aren’t defending with 11, which is part of the total football philosophy.

      Unfettered runners mean that rather than icing on the cake of a press by the forwards, Xavi is just a turnstile, spinning ineffectively as opponents run past on the counter. Iniesta is usually forward, so Busquets is standing there, ready to jam his finger in the dike.

      At the end of it all is our defenders, non-traditional defenders schooled in a different mode of defending. Small wonder they get caught out when a bunch of attackers runs directly at them.

      The team is right now, damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Traditional defenders means a different method of playing for Barça. So you take the risk with the defenders that fit the system, but the risk is in the system breaking down for the abovementioned reasons.

      “Why doesn’t Valdes just hoof it long,” people ask as he plays a troubling pass. “Stupid Valdes just hoofs it long and gives up possession,” people say when Valdes just hoofs it long.

      “Martino doesn’t give youth players a chance.” Which ones are good enough? Then he plays Sergi Roberto, and it’s “Huh! He’s worse than Song. I don’t understand why he didn’t put in Fabregas, etc.”

      It’s impossible right now, without a hefty dose of calmness and humility from culers. Cycles come and go, and losing is part of the end of a cycle. It happens, and will happen again.

      • Inamess says:

        I completely agree that Martino wanted to leave probably beginning around the time our loss to Real Sociedad and the abuse he got as a result of trying an “experiment” in one game just to see if the team had another way of winning while resting one of our most important players who unfortunately now has been forced to play too much given the current status of our squad.

        I also agree that the fortunes of our team now rely on having Messi and Neymar on the pitch at the same time given all the upside: great offensive power and all the downside: loss of pressing and tracking back and thus a severely weakened defense.

        Let’s hope that Cruijff was wrong and we will be successful with both on the pitch. Thanks for the great feedback!

  43. Jim says:

    Would we be having this discussion I wonder if Puyol had made it back to fitness? As he himself has said he was led to expect he could make a comeback ( and wouldn’t have stayed if he didn’t believe it ) so the club’s doctors must have thought there was a good chance of him being available for at least some of the bigger games. If you add to that the freak injury to Pique ( how often have I seen forwards make a back for a defender in the same way and the defender walks away uninjured ?) and the lengthy injury to Messi in a WC year which must have played on his mind given the ridiculous expectation on him nationally then add to that we are still in the hunt for the league with two games left is there not a third narrative which goes along the lines of we did pretty well considering everything and were found wanting only in the lack of a CB and some average finishing – and whoever the new coach is maybe couldn’t have done any better ?

    • Kxevin says:

      Excellent points all, Jim. Nothing to add except “Hear, hear,” even as the most cautious among us would have warned against trusting too much in an oft-crocked CB just coming back from a veritable conga line of knocks.

      But hindsight is always 20/20.

    • Inamess says:

      That is a fair point! I completely agree with all you have said, but it still does not change the fact that the board did not bring in another CB and took its chances. Every team can be devastated by injuries and you could even argue that the board did a bold thing in purchasing Neymar this year in that a season ending injury to Messi would not have ended our season as it probably would have in previous years.

      The team was unlucky in that we did not have an answer to Puyol’s failure to return to previous fitness and Pique and Valdes’ freak injuries. I agree that his was not a likely scenario and no one should be “blamed” for our bad luck but the club still took a big risk. The likelihood of this risk could be argued but let us say it was around 20%. The club did act negligently in not having another solid CB on its roster to be able to handle this scenario which left a back line of Masch and Barta that was severely deficient though I happen to like both of these players and don’t have a problem if one of them is on the pitch without the other.

      The club also took a gamble on retaining a popular player for back up goalie who is important for the team’s morale but probably would not feature in a list of one of the top 500 goalie’s best suited to replace Valdes in crucial games if he became injured.

      Again, we took a chance and it hurt us in the end. No one has a crystal ball but the board’s and Zubi’s job is to put together the best team so that we have the best chance of winning even if freak injuries happen because they almost always do. Unfortunately the team had a deficient answer to these specific injuries which may not have been as unlikely as some might think.

  44. barca96 says:

    Btw, regarding Tello vs. Tata. I think it’s more of Tello being closer to the door than Tata is. It doesn’t give me the impression that Tata has lost the dressing room. If it was Xavi or Messi or any of the captains, it would be a different story altogether as they are more or less the dressing room.

    However, it’s quite strange that Alexis was given the benefit of doubt while most people here and elsewhere were quick to jump on Tello.

  45. Kxevin says:

    It’s funny, the mood that is greeting the David Luiz rumor. It’s worth reiterating that we shouldn’t just ANYTHING until an official word comes from one of the clubs involved in a transaction, or the player is standing at the Camp Nou, grinning and kissing the crest (lord, how I hate that gesture by new signings).

    • ciaran says:

      As most people here know, I love transfer rumours. For me it’s the most entertaining thing to think about in the few days before the next match when the season is winding down.
      I watch a lot of football and follow most leagues in Europe to varying degrees so when we are linked to one player or another I make sure I get a few matches worth of a look at those players to assess our potential signings.

      Some other players I just get to see because they are always on TV and David Luiz falls into that category. As an Irishman, I get to watch the EPL every weekend and I have never been convinced by Luiz. He actually impressed me more when all I watched was youtube clips of him at Benfica but since then I’ve been relatively disappointed. Let’s be honest though, virtually every professional player, at least the international level ones, can look good on youtube. Hell if you look up Ricardo Quaresma on youtube you’d be wondering how many times he has won the Balon d’Or.

      For the record, sometimes seeing the new player standing at the Camp Nou, grinning and kissing the crest isn’t enough… Keirrison and Henrique would attest to that :-)

      • Kxevin says:

        It’s funny, I was able to do that with Balanta, and came away thinking “Holy crap! How much is this dude?!” Then I realized that Argentina attackers are different than the kind of quality Balanta would be facing week in week out if he played for us.

        I go back and forth. One part of me wants to pick up Musacchio on the free, pony up for Laporte and call it a window. The other part of me wonders if that isn’t too facile a solution.

        I wish that I knew, but I don’t. Mascherano taught me that. I would like transfer season a lot more if people didn’t take it all so seriously. Folks get downright angry when someone doesn’t agree with them on a player and his qualities, etc.

        • ciaran says:

          It’s also less of a risk signing players from the same league. They know the league, the culture and the language…

          • Inamess says:

            I totally agree and thought about all our great signings form Sevilla: Alves, Adriano, Keita.

            We should probably buy Rakitic if only for that reason!

          • ciaran says:

            I’d buy Rakitic in a second; the only problem would be playing time.

            My solution would be to have a 4th central defender be the cover for Busquets and have Rakitic as an alternate DM & CM depending on opposition.

            For physical matches he could play a box-to-box midfielder alongside Busquets and for games where we are expected to win easily he could play DM giving more creativity and threat from deep.

            In that scenario I’d sign Daley Blind for 4th CB & 2nd DM with his extra minutes coming from left back. He’s an incredibly intelligent player with a hell of an engine. The way he plays DM for Ajax is almost identical to our CB requirements.

  46. TITO says:

    Bear in mind that buying the X player just because he is great doesn’t mean that he will succeed in our club.
    I still want Hummels, don’t know why, but i’m somehow convinced that he will be great for us. He just have that bit of intelligence to play with our players.
    And, not to forget something else. Pique is an immediate starter. So we need someone to complement him, and not be Masch. If Masch stays, he’s there to fill up 2 places, the one of a CB and the one of DM.
    If we sell Alves, than we need a fullback as well. And no, i don’t want a world class player, i want a player that suits us. There must be someone out there with such quality.
    As for the front line, i’m satisfied with what we have. I would have just add a tall striker who can play with his feet, intelligent enough and wont mind siting on the bench, a la Larsson. The ones that come to mind are Close and Santa Cruz.

  47. TITO says:

    Oh, and i would love Hazard to u.s

  48. ciaran says:

    It’s harder to follow comments further up so I’ll answer your question here Kxevin.
    Valdes average is approx 11 shots per goal conceded, compared to 7 against Pinto.

    My point started off pointing out the deficiencies of our system suggesting that we give away better chances than we tend to create.

    It’s funny that Alexis Sanchez has the reputation of wasting chances when he has scored 18 goals from just 62 shots this season at 3.4 shots per goal and Messi has the reputation of a lethal finisher and average a goal every 5.4 shots.

    Did I mention that I love stats?

    • Kxevin says:

      You and Isaiah! That Sanchez/Messi thing is funny.

    • Inamess says:

      I agree about Sanchez and also contend that he does not get enough credit for working his ass off to be in the right place to “miss his sitters”. I’ll take a fallible striker who works to get quality shots over a perfect finisher who does not have the quality to be in a position to take that many.

    • G6O says:

      Messi has missed a lot of shots he usually converts this season, it is not at all surprising the statistics confirm that. Just another aspect of him not being at this usual otherworldly best

  49. Inamess says:

    While we are on for our fantasy CB, there are three things I really would like to see from our next CB signing:

    1) someone who is a threat to score on set pieces and is awesome in the air and can defend corners and crosses with Pique.

    2) someone who can scramble like a demon to stop a team that has caught us on the counter and has the speed and all out abandon to stop our opponent from scoring against an outnumbered defense.

    3) Is good enough with his feet and has the passing skills to handle a press and build from the back.

    I think all three skills are necessary and obviously very hard to find in the absence of a 25 year old Puyol. So we must go with the most practical CB who is good at all three. I don’t watch enough of the games of our CB prospects to say who would be the best given these considerations other than to say Luiz may not be bad at all three.

    I would love to know what others think of other prospects given these 3 requirements.

  50. Kxevin says:

    Board member Villarubi said today that the Neymar deal, because of when it happened, destabilized the finances of the club. What he obviously means is “I don’t want any part of that crap,” but still interesting because in effect, bringing Neymar to the club a year early made the deal cost a LOT more.

    Villarubi said that there was pressure from “another club” forcing their hand, despite the rumors that the deal was done when we paid the 10m, and Neymar wasn’t going anywhere except to us.

    What a mess.

    • Inamess says:

      I think all the shenanigans behind our decision to purchase Neymar this year are going to be worthy of a 500 page book that Sid Lowe or Graham Hunter will write about a decade from now.

      Let’s hope that it has a good ending and won’t be as problematic as the Di Stéfano story.

    • Peter says:

      Well, it certainly cost about 27 million more(17.1+7.9+2), all already given or to be given in the future to Santos. When you consider the fact that the official transfer budget of the club is 40 million, it becomes clear what Villarubi meant.

  51. Gekko64 says:

    Why exactly do we need a box to box midfielder when we already have a perfectly good Alex Song who deserves way more minutes he’s been getting, hopefully IN THE POSITION HE’S BEST AT?

    Also, I don’t think Dani is done just yet, but even if he leaves we have another perfectly good sideback in Adriano. In my opinion Jordi Alba has been good enough this season to deserve to be a starter instead of rotating with Adri as much as he did. he was very solid on defense, WHEN ASKED TO FOCUS ON IT. he can’t be blamed for not being omnipresent now can he.

    If we had to buy another side back…. I really like De Sciglio. young, confident, skilled, solid on the back… a great prospect. and he can also play on both sides.

    • Gekko64 says:

      ooops, missed a *than in the the first sentence.

    • ciaran says:

      Italians don’t generally adapt to other environments well. Not saying that he couldn’t but historically it isn’t promising.
      He isn’t any better than Montoya though in my opinion.

      Alex Song is a very good player but I wouldn’t call him a box to box player. He doesn’t really get into the opposition box at all and didn’t at Arsenal either. He is a play maker who is very physical and is wasted in our squad. For his sake I hope he gets a move back to England to shore his qualities. Plus, he hasn’t exactly played well alongside Busquets

      • KEVINO17 says:

        I’m with Gekko. Song has shown when playing CM that he can get forward. Just needs more encouragement. But he would be nuts to stay. Team like ManU with a soft midfield must be drooling over him. Oh well, there goes two years of building up a rapport with the rest of the team. Now someone else will have to spend a couple of years adjusting to the barca style.

        The problem with Dani is that when you are playing for Barca you usually only have tiny targets in the box, so your crosses have to be precise, and his just aren’t. He is a terrible crosser. Alexis, on the other hand, really whips in some deadly balls. However, his role is to drift into the centre, so we don’t see enough of that. Dani is a good player, but he’s not what Barca needs.

  52. PrinceYuvi says:

    Zubi is in Ninja mode right now.
    Keeping his list secret.
    Afraid of leaks and all that.
    He looks bloody determined this time.
    I think he’ll deliver, we’ll get the players we need )

  53. Peter says:

    looking at the papers today, Tata was right. If you aren’t Dutch or Catalan or have had a career in Barcelona, you are not good enough for the entorno. The only reason I keep reading Sport and MD is to get the news. The rest of the vomit I could do without.

    What this second part of the season has shown is that in this club in this moment it’s not the coach, board or president that’s in charge. It’s the entorno.

    I have stopped hoping that Tata will continue. I just hope that he manages to win La Liga (although the entorno is already on record going “Lucho can give Barcelona his first La Liga!”). I hope Martino manages to make the team run like they used to against Real, against Levante and Valencia in the first part of the season and wins La Liga – and then take the trophy and exits through the front door like that:

  54. Peter says:

    What will happen now is the next guy will probably be given all resources and all support, with the media proclaiming him to be the best thing evah!!! And when trophies are won, everybody will forget what was heaped on the plate of Martino, all the injuries that decimated the squad, all the tragedies off the field that took the heart out of the players, the media campaigns to destabilize the club, the board and the president through all means available, and they will say “See, we told you, Barca needs a Barca coach who knows how the club functions, how to please the entorno and how to speak proper Catalan.”

    Game, set and motherf…

    • scribblez says:

      I completely agree with you. It is a shame how Martino has been treated by the club, the press and the us – the fans.

      Nobody had the confidence on him, even the board that board that hired him. He is very well respected in South America but in Europe nobody had any idea what to expect of him. The decisions he took, the results he got would be viewed from a very different perspective if it was a coach well-proven in European football.

      Also, he doesn’t have a lobby to support him. His pressers are very honest but also very self-critical, which is not always a good tact when dealing with modern day
      press or the inside politics.

      Any sporting project is long-term. People today are admiring Brendan Rodgers (a great coach btw). But he took two seasons to build Liverpool. Overnight success with an existing project is not possible, especially when you are not allowed to tinker.

      A few losses, a very bad week and we were already throwing stones at him. People very quickly forget that Barca were playing exciting football, were on the top of the league for most of the year ( more than Atletico), didn’t lose any big matches until that awful week and all the major players improved under Tata.

      I hope we win the league ( a faint hope ) and he leaves after that at least with his head held high.

    • 86ed says:

      That, or the next coach gets the sack by Christmas, regardless of who he is and what he has done.
      We’ll go through a period of a few years, at the least, of paying for the board’s negligence through a revolving door of coaching staff. It will toughen us. I just hope we don’t turn like Milan or Inter, duking it out for sixth place in the mediocre Italian league.

      There were calls from a few here (from your truly too) back in ’12 asking for a total overhaul of personnel and playing style. Invariably the calls were called preposterous, which was actually fair. We still had good players even then, but the times were changing fast. Alas the board was not up for it. Hell, even one of the worst and most humiliating defeats in our history did not shake them. It should have. Now we’re left with a mess that no coach can turn without heavy investment.

  55. IamXavi6 says:

    I will welcome Luis Enrique with open arms. I feel for Martino; as he has been a bit of a fall guy; however he ran out of ability to motivate this team and sadly ran out of steam.

    Enrique I think will be a good fit here. Im bias as he is one of my all time favourite players; however I feel he has the pedigree and the understanding to make it work.

  56. 86ed says:

    Just curious. Would fans on this board be ok with our selling Fabregas to the highest bidder, ostensibly to increase the transfer budget? United signed Mata for what, 38mil pounds? I bet we could get that for Fabregas.

    • Inamess says:

      I don’t think we should sell Fabergas if only because it furthers the idea that any big player who transfers to Barca will be doomed.
      “If Cesc can’t fit in at Barca (he was a youth product, he is Catalonian, he is best friends with Pique and Messi)than how is the transfer going to work for me”. My opinion is we keep Fabergas for good or ill and try to make the best of what he brings to the side. It would also be a slap in the face of La Masia products: we bring in Cesc to be our next big midfielder instead of going with Thiago and then find that Thiago’s chance with the club was wasted for nothing.

      For me, one of my greatest concerns for the club is that great players may not want to come here in the future and youth products may want to jump ship instead of taking their chances to make it in the side.

  57. Inamess says:

    New Theory About Why Nice Guys Finish Last:
    A Machiavellian Tract that should have been given to Tata by his wife along with his lime green polo shirt upon his arrival to Barca.

    No other individual arouses as much hate and fascination for Barca fans than Jose Mourinho. He is our Darth Vader, one of our own who has gone over to the dark side.

    To us, he represents everything we are not: he is pragmatic, cynical, vulgar, and believes that winning is about power, athleticism, defense, and playing mind-games with his opponents to psych them out.

    Barca, on the other hand are the good guys, who play fair, but represents everything Mou hates: phoniness, hypocrisy, and physical weakness.

    A theory: the best coach that Barca could hire at this time is Mourinho because before all things he know hows to quickly turn around a club and get it in shape to be in a position to win the Champions League in one or two years.

    I, of course, am not suggesting the impossible: that we go to London and ask Mou to be our next manager. However, it is interesting to think about what he would do with our club given the state it is in today, not unlike 2007, when he very likely could have been the next Barca coach.

    What would Mou do if he took control of our side this summer?


    1) He would do all he could to sure up Barca’s defense given the roster and the possibilities of bringing in at most three new players to the side. How he would do this and which players he would bring in I am not schooled enough in tactics to know but would be interested if others had suggestions of how it would work if Barca went to the Dark Side.

    2) He would do something dramatic and symbolic, something that makes the statement that this is his team and things from now on will be done his way just like he did with Mata and not unlike what Pep did with Deco and Ronaldinho.

    That gesture I think we all know is get to get rid of Xavi or so greatly reduce his role in the squad that his influence would be embarrassingly diminished (i.e. pull an Iker). He would also get rid of two or three other players who he believes are surplus to his plans for the side.

    What do you guys think? Is there any value in trying to get into the mind of an evil genius? Which players would he bring in or ask to leave?

    • barca96 says:

      Interesting. My heart skipped a beat whenever his name was linked to Barca in the back pages in the newspapers starting from 2006-07.

      Let him stay at Chelsea. It’s going to be interesting seeing him vs Van Gaal.

      Battle of the Eye Poker/Parking Lot bully vs. Kung Fu artist

      • Inamess says:

        Wow,Van Gaal’s got some skills! It would like to see him go toe to toe with Mou. Mou would get creamed, until, of course, he took out the 22 pistol that he secretly hid in his pants.

    • Spiza7 says:

      I think turning Barcelona into a defensive focused team is more of a Problem than a Solution.

      Also it is always better to try and work on an agreement with a player then just shipping them out, Xavi was a Perfect example, we could have easily sold him back in the summer of 2007 but we didn’t and we all know the rest of the story. I don’t think Chelsea benefited in anyway by releasing Mata, that was kind of a lazy move from Mourinho in my eyes and I wouldn’t want to see that happening in our squad.

      • Inamess says:

        I totally agree on Mata and wasn’t suggesting, of course, that Barca become the new Chelsea. But if Tata did, in fact, have had full control of the team might it have been better for him to get rid of Xavi or greatly reduce his role in the team and bring in some players he would have felt would be better suited to the style he wanted to play.

        People might would have held a grudge against him since he treated a legendary player badly, as Mou of course did to Raul at Real. But isn’t it more important for a manager to be feared than loved. “I got rid of Xavi or severely diminished his minutes because he doesn’t give me what I want on the pitch. Don’t think that you can’t be next”.

  58. I wasn’t too keen on Luiz but after watching him recently he looks a decent option. First he resembles Puyol in more than one way. Hair of course is the first similarity. Second is that like Puyol he is more or less a brilliant last ditch defender. Third and foremost in the opposition box, he always manage to lose his marker. We need someone like that. With Bartra/Pique and him we will have some threat from corners. May be again we don’t know whether its the Chelsea set up which makes him look so good in the box. Fourth he definitely can start an attack from the back.

    As far as Cesc Fabregas is concerned I always believed we made the wrong choice when we signed the player. It’s not that he is a bad player. He is simply the best attacking midfielder in the world. The problem is that in our formation we hardly use that position. The reason why he looked so good in recent match when substituted on is that he was deployed in a more attacking position. And with Messi as false-9 he will overlap in to his position. May be the next coach has to seriously think about a 3-4-3 formation to get the best out of him.

    As far as Tata Martino, I think we need a new coach. I would have given him one more chance but the moment I saw the line-up in Copa Del Rey final, i lost the trust in him. I don’t want a guy who plays the best eleven on paper and just believes that they somehow come good. He looks more or less incapable in changing the tactics or out-thinking the opposition. May be there may not be much coaches left like that. So how about Marcos Biesla? I mean that crazy guy can seriously revolutionize this team. Most probably will break the team by February but will be fun to watch.

    Now the most controversial. I am one of that guy who is praying Atletico win the league. First I don’t want Real to win liga and UCL. But above that if we win the league somehow by fate, it will be used to mask so many issues the team has. Remember the arguments which was put in defense over here in the start of the season for not signing defensive reinforcements.

    • Inamess says:

      I agree with all of your points particularly with our dilemma about Fabergas. I think the team must stick with him and try to get the best from his talents as possible for the reasons I said above. I also think that having someone who is considered a great tactician and with his own reputation of accomplishment is essential.

      I suggested Mou as a joke and to be provocative but maybe Biesla is a good compromise. Do you think he would be able to get the best out of Messi, Neymar, and Fab and at the same time fix our defense.

      Hate to see the club put it’s future in the hands of an unproven coach and roll the dice hoping against hope for a new Pep who will magically fix our problems. Maybe Biesla would have been a great choice for this year given that he tends to overstay his welcome after only a couple of years.

      As for La Liga, I agree with you in that I really don’t care at this point as long as the title is decided at Camp Nou in 2 weeks. If Barca win I won’t complain, but I won’t be overjoyed either. If Athleti win La Liga because they are 4 points above Barca or beat Barca if we are within 3 points, then I would feel good for them too.

      I think the club will get a lot of flack if we fielded a really weak side if we didn’t have a chance at the title. But, as a fan, I have been through enough misery the last few months that I wouldn’t mind the club being criticized further as long as Real don’t win La Liga.

      I wonder if there is any history of Real or Barca deliberately fielding a weak side on the last or second to last match day so the other doesn’t win the title. Would this be considered “shameful” in Spanish football?

      • Whoever takes charge next season have a hell lot to do. It is all because of what we did and what we didn’t do in previous transfer markets. We never bought any defensive reinforcements and that is showing clearly. But when we went shopping, we were more or less clueless about the formation where we will play. I think the idea of Sporting director deciding whom to sign has to change. It has to be the coach. Also we need to assess what role the potential signing has to do in the side. Look at Sanchez would have been a great No.10 or a floating striker behind a center forward. Here he has to feature more or less as a winger or a center forward. Winger he may do at times but his first touch in the box is not that great to be a center forward. Not the players mistake, it’s the one who signed him is at fault. Cesc Fabregas, again signed to replace a guy who he will never be able to emulate. To make it worse is not played in his best position. That’s why he comes as a big failure against the best sides. Take every one of our signing under Zubi it’s a similar pattern.

        Zubi has to stop asking the coach “Shall I sign this player?” It’s tricky. If you ask any coach “Shall I sign Cesc Fabregas?” the answer will be always yes. I think that’s what happened with Pep and Cesc. When asked “Do you want Cesc” he may have said yes. But the big question would have Pep demanded for his signing like Ibra’s. I guess not.

        Zubi needs to only do one thing – decide on teh coach for next season. Then just listen to him. But he should remind them that we have one shopping window to do three windows transfer, when the ban kicks in.

        • Kxevin says:

          Zubi needs to only do one thing – decide on teh coach for next season. Then just listen to him. But he should remind them that we have one shopping window to do three windows transfer, when the ban kicks in.

          Absolutely right. It’s the job that Txiki B had, though he had his “I’m really smart” moments with Keirrison, Henrique, etc.

          I think that this crap should have been kept private, but I like that the club is trying to nail down the next coach before doing anything else. Sport and MD are saying that not only is Enrique a done deal, but he has already approved the transfer list.

          Martino parachuted into a team that he had absolutely no say about, except as regards who got match time and who didn’t. The next coach will have an immense leg up in that a terrified board that is sated by having gotten its way on the stadium project, now has to spend, spend, spend in this window.

          As long as the coach has input into those selections (he will) and full power to shape his team (um … maybe?), things should be a bit better on the pitch.

      • G6O says:

        The thought of a Madrid treble (and a possible 6 trophies later in the year) is unbearable.

        I don’t care how it looks – if we do not have a chance to win it, we have to draw or lose against Atletico.

        Of course, there is the really unpleasant scenario – all teams win their remaining games before the last round. In the last round, both games are played at the same time, the Madrid one is 0-0, and we are up by a goal, which gives us the title. But then Madrid wins their game in the last minute and we may have to basically score and own goal or something really obvious like that to prevent them from winning. That would be ugly but I would still do it. But there is an even worse scenario – their game ends one or two minutes after ours, we win ours, and then they score the winner in the remaining time…

        • If Atletico fails to win the league, then they will be simply overrun in the UCL final. But if they win then Real will have a tough job as Real will be desperate and Atletico will be full of confidence.

        • Inamess says:

          An all out war vs. Atleti on our last match day would be very ugly for many reasons already stated:

          1) We decimate Atleti and they lose confidence going into the Champions League final. Also, one of Atletico’s players gets hurt and won’t be able to play against Real.

          2) It increases the chances that Real wins La Liga.

          3) One of our key players gets hurt and won’t be able to play in the World Cup. Simeone might bring out the knives and pretty much say to our side. “Try hard to beat us and we will do anything in our power to Make sure that Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets, or Alexis won’t feature in their national teams this summer.

          If I were Messi, I would be scared Simeone will simply make him “an offer he can refuse”:

          “We are both Argentinians. Wouldn’t it be a shame if something would happen that would make our country so sad”.

          It would look something like this:

        • Inamess says:

          I have a question about the “Pique scores an own goal” scenario. Would it be in La Liga’s power to suspend him for next year or could he even face charges of “match fixing”.

          Also, what a dilemma for a bookie:
          Atletico is up by 4 points going into the last game and Real is 3 behind Atleti. What is the line on the game. Could be:

          Atleti win: 1:10000000000000000001
          Draw: 1:10000000000
          Barca win: 100000000000000000000000000:1

  59. barca96 says:

    Gutted for Liverpool. I doubt they can go so far next season. Hopefully I’m wrong as I was about Altetico too last season.

  60. KEVINO17 says:

    Keep Cesc – sell Xavi.

  61. ciaran says:

    Just to follow up the goalkeeping stats from above.
    We have been linked to signing a second goalkeeper as well as ter Stegen with Valdes definitely leaving and Pinto not being renewed so I have done a little bit more looking.

    I started looking at this after suggesting that we give up better chances that we create with the way we play… attacking against great numbers and defending with few.

    To recap, combined we concede a goal for every 10 shots we face with Valdes facing 11 and Pinto only 7. This was compared with Real Madrid 10.5 and Atletico a whopping 13.5 shots for every goal they concede.

    So how does ter Stegen compare… well favourably. He has faced 514 shots compared to our 320 and only conceded 40 goals. Just under 13 shots per goal conceded. Statistically we should have conceded 7 goals less this season with ter Stegen in goals. And for the record, he has better passing stats than even Valdes.

    The other goalkeeper we have been heavily linked with is Levante’s Keylor Navas… most people’s pick for goalkeeper of the season in La Liga. He has faced a staggering 607 shots in the league with Levante and conceded 42 goals. That gives a shots to goals ratio of 14.5 which is amongst the highest in Europe.

    Interesting right?

    • fotobirajesh says:

      Excellent. Thank you for that. It is more than interesting.

    • Inamess says:

      Not to be obsessed with a new stat (goals scored minus conceded per 90 minutes a player is on the pitch), but I think just like any player, the goalie is in part responsible not just for how many goals we concede but also how many we score.

      By not conceding possession and allowing us to build out of the back, isn’t Valdes one of the club’s most potent offensive and defensive weapons in that he allows us to retain possession so we have a much better chance to allow us to score as well as prevent our opponent from quickly taking back possession and have a good chance to score against us.

      Pinto although he may not be a terrible keeper for another club has a skill set that seems really poorly suited for ours.

      1) Can’t Build from the back

      2) Not that great on counters where the defense is not back such as in one on ones.

      These are 2 things that Valdes really excels at. It’s debatable how many goals Valdes would have saved that Pinto conceded and almost the wrong question because had Valdes been on the pitch, possession might not have been conceded in the first place to allow the opponent to score.

      But even if we want to speculate the hypothetical about “whether Valdes makes that save” our chances to win would have been infinitely better in the Copa Final. You could certainly argue about other matches as well. Maybe even our tie against Atleti in the Quarter finals may have been different.

      We just seem to be such a weaker team with Pinto on the pitch that it might have been better if Messi went down for the rest of the season (assuming a healthy Neymar) than Valdes.

  62. Kxevin says:

    An absolutely delightful read on Liverpool, but is applicable to Barça, and pretty much every team:

    • Inamess says:

      Nice read! Why didn’t Barca simply “Park the Bus” in the final minutes against Getafe? Well, maybe because we might be one of the worst teams in La Liga to do that given the current state of our team (no Valdes or Pique) and our vulnerabilities against a potential set play or corner or even conceding a penalty.

  63. Kxevin says:

    In the Totally Awesome Silly Season, Sport says that up to 16 players could leave the club in summer:

    Valdes(def),Puyol (def), Pinto (def), Dos Santos (rumors about him staying if Enrique comes), Afellay (def), Tello (def), Cuenca (def). Sergi Roberto (loan?), Oier (def.), Pedro (WUT??!!), Alexis (see Pedro), Cesc (not if Enrique comes), Mascherano (maybe), Song (def), Adriano (not surprising), Alves (buzz is to PSG).

    Obviously, any and all Silly Season rumors should be treated with all the veracity of a My Little Pony sighting, but that list isn’t entirely crazy, though I don’t see Pedro AND Sanchez leaving.

    • Inamess says:

      I hope that Alexis and Cesc stay for reasons I stated above. Having Alexis on the pitch just makes us a much better team and he has earned his spot. Also, selling Cesc sends the message to other potential transfers that a move to Barca is a career destroyer (“if Cesc can’t fit it there than what chances do I have”).

      To me, the player I am most on the fence about is Masch since I really like him as a player. If he stays, then I think he would be a good 4th choice CB behind Barta unless a particular game seems to really suit his skill set. But his skill set would just be wasted if that was all he became in the side. Whether he stays then depends upon his possibilities in midfield as a sub for Busquets or some other role not as CB.

      Do you think the club has confidence that we could get a lot more out of him other than at CB? If not, then he should probably go and be a 1st choice DM on another side.

      • Kxevin says:

        If we buy two CBs as rumored, then Busquets can finally get some rest/rotation time. He has to play way too much for him to be at his absolute best whenever he plays.

        Mascherano has demonstrated that while he isn’t a Busquets in terms of possession and attack starting, he has an excellent eye for the forward pass, and can make timely runs. Defensively, nothing need be said about his DM qualities.

        If we sell him it is, for me, a mistake. Because you still wind up without top-class cover for Busquets. (The “top-class” is my view, before the “Mascherano is shit” stuff starts. Others will have different opinions, I realize.)

        And yet, were Mascherano to be in a position to play DM, people would compare him to Busquets and find him wanting, which is what supporters do. “Well, you aren’t the player who usually plays this spot, so you aren’t good enough.”

        For me, that has been one of the biggest difficulties in culer evaluations of players who aren’t Anointed Ones.

        Pinto’s problem is not that he’s a bad keeper. He is a perfectly fine No. 2 keeper on a team where there is precious little keeper rotation. Pinto’s problem is that he isn’t Valdes.

        Song has worked his ass for the club, and usually plays well when he gets time on the pitch. But Song isn’t a CB, so usually flaws are found in things that he does, while good things are ignored.

        Neymar is another player. His goal against Atleti was, for many, many culers, “What a pass from Iniesta,” while ignoring what really was an absurd one-touch finish, bent around a giant, cat-quick keeper.

        The one thing I always hope for is that players get evaluated based on what they do and what we might suspect of a coach’s intentions, rather than because of other things. It’s something I have railed against for years, and will continue.

        A player is who he is, and should be evaluated for his skill set and what he brings to the team, rather than what he doesn’t bring that someone else does.

        This is the biggest problem with us in the transfer market. People clamor for signings and changes, and why can’t we buy cheap, talented players? Well for one, that’s why we have La Masia. For another, cheap, talented players might not be ready to play in this team. It’s like the $90 pair of shoes vs the $300 pair. If you wear the latter more and the last longer, which one is really more expensive?

        Our gala XI is gifted with extraordinary, verging-on-iconic players. It’s HARD to break into that lineup, even harder to make an impression once you break into that lineup, because of who your predecessor is. I wish that many culers were more patient with signings and “depth” players.

        • Levon says:

          Most definitely agree that Lexus and Masche must stay. It would be a huge mistake to sell either one of them, even if I still don’t think Masche is a good choice for a CB in this team.

          I’m ambivalent about Song, not because he’s a bad player but because I don’t think he adds all that much to our squad that other players can’t. He’s big but slow and can’t head the ball and he is less technical and creative than “our” midfielders (even though in other teams his passing is precisely what makes him stand out). He does add muscle but I’d much prefer to see Mascherano do that for us in the midfield. Masche f**** opponents up if they try to get past him.

          Like I said in the article, move Masche up a line and we are ridiculously well covered at all three midfield positions. Even more so when we look ahead and start integrating Rafinha and give some minutes to the B-team players, of whom 8 forgot to mention Halilovic. And if we moved Messi to the playmaker role…

          This is why I would be okay with Cesc getting sold for a lot of money – the way he has been used makes no sense and just leads to everyone being frustrated with what could have been.

          We sell him for 40M then we can afford to buy anyone we need, really.

          We also need to renew or replace Alves if we don’t want to risk not being able to replace him at all if he decides to leave next year and we are banned from making deals.

          • Inamess says:

            I agree that we do need to get rid of Alves. To me, more that any other player other than Xavi, Dani represents a futile attempt to “regain the magic” of the Pep years particularly since both are pretty obviously past their prime.

            To me, I will know a lot about our future based on what the status of Xavi has next year. Some options:

            1)”Pull a Raul” as Mou did at Real and get rid of an iconic player. Maybe huge backlash but makes a statement. Also, if it comes from Enrique it may not backfire since he has his own status with the club and it may seem like a painful choice that he does in the interests of all involved.

            2) Give Xavi a much diminished role (i.e. supersub late in matches to gain back control of the match or someone who can excel in really important games if he is resting enough). Seems like the better option, but I don’t know if Xavi would be happy with this option either and it may backfire as he becomes another critic for the coach if he is “not winning with Xavi on the bench”.

            3) Give Xavi one more year to do his magic and hope that he and the side don’t start looking like a parody of their former selves.

          • ciaran says:

            It’s hard to believe that you would rather have Masch in midfield than Cesc. Bar the obvious ability to break up attacks we would lose an incredible amount of creativity for the sake of having another defender in the team.
            Rafinha has had a good season but thinking that he can replace Cesc is absurd considering the current quality difference.
            Yes I know €40million is a lot of money but Xavi is way past his best and even though there’s a lot of midfielders out there that are high quality none of them have the abilities of Cesc, at least not all of them. I think it’s a moot point anyway because I can’t see Cesc being sold.

            In terms of Masch at midfield, I have the exact same issue with him at DM as I do at CB. He is short and bad in the air. If we are replacing him in defense because he is bad in the air then why replace Busquets with him and have the exact same issue. It is incredible when height is our biggest achilles heel defensively that we would sacrifice our only height in midfield for the sake of keeping a player on our books…

          • Levon says:

            I would sell Dani Alves only because of his age and contract situation. I actually think he has been immensely undervalued these last two seasons and the chance that culers won’t know what they are missing until he’s gone is quite high.

            Also, I have no idea who we could replace him with. Cuadrado is being rumored, in which case we must hold on to our seat belts because he is possibly a more attacking player than Dani.

          • Jim says:

            Is it fair to assume then that since Xavi is way past his best that Cesc will be running Spain’s midfield at the WC ? I think we all know the answer to that one and there’s a reason for it. Everyone ends up screaming for Xavi from the bench when we start without him and there’s a reason for that too.
            People say he’s slow but he was always slow. People say his legs have gone but he ran the most of any of our players in a recent CL tie. They say he can’t pass forward yet even a cursory glance at stats show that’s not true, never mind the pass to Alves for Messi’s goal or the one through an entire defence to Neymar where he hit the post. However, like most beings from planet earth he would find it easier with more movement up front .

            One day Xavi will have to leave us but we’d better hope we have a decent replacement ready when he does. I find some of the comments about possibly the best midfielder in the world over the last five years to be pretty disrespectful as well as inaccurate. Just sayin ‘ ….

        • Inamess says:

          For me Alex Song is the most mysterious player that we have ever seen at Barca since I started following them in 2010. To be honest I still don’t know if he just was a terrible fit at Barca or the most misused player ever to feature in the side. Not to revive some heatedly debated issues but:

          1) What was our original intention for this player. Is it just like Masch where you buy a quality player and hope he has a role somewhere.

          2) Whhat role would he been best at had he featured more in the side?

          3) Was he just a victim of circumstance since Busquet never had a major injury, was found to be wanting at CB, and was never used as another midfield option given that there was not major injury for Xavi, Iniesta, or Cesc the last three years?

          • Levon says:

            Good questions.

            1) I have no idea.
            2) DM/CM depending on the match and on the other midfielders, with no possibility to ever form part of our best midfield due to the extraordinary quality of the players he competes with.
            3) I think that’s the nail, the head, the hammer and the toolbox right there. Once the coaching staff gave up on playing him as a CB, his long term survival in our club became doubtful.

          • Kxevin says:

            1. Yes to the “quality player” part of that assertion. It was hoped that he could do more of what he was doing at Arsenal, and fill in at CB in a pinch.

            2. Just in front of Busquets, like a passing Keita.

            3. Yes, and Martino didn’t really stick with his plans. Song got more time earlier in the season than later, as Martino threw up his hands.

            Song is an AM in a DM body. People mistakenly think that Song is a sub for Busquets. Song is more like a sub for the player that people thought Sergi Roberto was going to be, if that makes sense.

          • Levon says:

            Aaaaay, with all due respect I strongly disagree with you, Kevin. I don’t see Song as an attacking midfielder at all, and he definitely lacks the quality for that position at Barcelona.

            And I’m saying that as a culé who has not criticized his play all that much over the last two years.

            A CM whose passing skills can contribute greatly to the attack, yes, but he lacks the agility and ability to score to be a pure attacking mid.

          • 1) We bought him because of Mascherano and Toure. We realized we needed to replace Toure. Bought Mascherano, but he couldn’t fit into Busquets role when called upon. Instead he went into the defense. So we bought him to solve two thing cover Mascherano and Busquets when needed.

            2) I think he would have been brilliant as a double pivot in midfield. again his signing was more or like the director asking the coach rather than the coach asking the director.

            3) He is victim of his own stupidity of not assessing where he will play at Barca. I know it’s difficult when Barca comes calling! But it’s a lesson for everyone else to assess where you will play in that side.

        • Inamess says:

          No one doubt Xavi’s status with the club and the national team. He is a legend should and still be leading Spain during the World Cup.

          But what if what the club faces with Xavi turns out to be another Puyol situation. What if 2 years ago someone said: “We really need to look at this Puyol situation. He is a legend, the heart and soul of our team, but should we stake the next two years of the club on the quality and fitness of this player. May the club not have been in a better position for the last two years?.

          When Jordon left the Bulls he was still a pretty good player too. But maybe his leaving was the best thing for all involved. Or maybe not.

          I’m OK with Xavi at Barca next year as long as he is willing to accept a diminished role with the club. I don’t feel comfortable staking the future of the club on his quality and fitness because at this point in his career no one really knows.

          • Jim says:

            No reason why he should accept a diminished role unless someone can come along and offer the team more. In that case I suspect, like Puyol, Xavi wouldn’t stand in the way. I also suspect that the only one capable of doing that in the current squad is Iniesta so I hope the new coach gives him some time to grow into the role.

          • Inamess says:

            I know I have heard the idea of Busquets as the new Xavi. Can this actually work after Xavi goes?

            If it won’t then maybe the conclusion is that there is and only will be one Xavi, and the team must play differently if they want to win when he goes.

    • It is absolute nonsense. If 16 players leave, then we have to at least sign that many. Especially with a ban hanging on our head. Some has to leave like Cuenca, Tello, Afellay. But why would the club think about selling Mascherano. I mean he is the rare species who can play in middle and back. So why should you want to leave him. Alves most probably will leave. To make matters worse, the entire scenario will change once world cup is over. That means we have to be very quick on our feet.

    • norden says:

      Btw, about singing a new CB (or two). There was a lot of debate about the ideal physical and techical quality, but I’d like to think about the “mental” quality as well.

      For me, an ideal would be a “commander”. Not someone who inspires by example, but someone who can shout, wake and organize the back, especially during the set pieces.

      I feel Barca lost some of that quality with the Puyol and Valdes injured.

      • Levon says:

        The thing is you can’t really sign a leader, because he won’t be able to lead until after one or two seasons because he will be new at the club.

        Mascherano would be perfect were it not that he has the wrong weakness at the wrong position in the wrong team (complete lack of aerial ability).

        • Jim says:

          Agreed. The leader has to be someone assured of his place in the team, young enough to lead for the next four or five years and preferably at the back or possibly midfield. I think you know where I’m going with this one :)

          The only place it doesn’t work is in having the right personality in the first place to scare his team mates into concentrating. Damn !

          • ciaran says:

            I still think that if he were to be given captaincy it would make him grow up. Shakira even suggested that he could be a future club president.

          • Levon says:

            Oh, and I agree with Jim that the captain should be a (central) defender or a midfielder.

        • norden says:

          Well, at least someone who has the personality to become a leader eventually.

          I think if such player would be a native Spanish speaker who performs the “commander” role already in another club, he wouldn’t need two years to be able to conduct the backline in Barca.

          He would just shout what he’s used to and the team mates would eventually start to listen :)

          A scary looks could help too :)

          • Jim says:

            The problem is that his play needs to match his ability to shout and anyone coming in will take at least a year to learn the system, probably more and is such a rarified beast that you won’t be able to rely on captain potential as well as ability to play the role. List of candidates would be tiny. In fact, I can’t think of any at the moment.

          • norden says:

            I agree it’s hard to find such a player.

            On the other hand, he would not need a year of learning the system before he is able to organize defending corner kicks. Those things are simple, he would just help to make sure all team mates stay concentrated. I’m not looking for a captain material necessarily, more like a sergeant.

            Speaking of system – who knows what a new coach will bring. It may take a year for all players to learn :)

        • Levon says:

          Yeah, of the Shakira fan club!

    • bhed says:

      I am loving this discussion. You should all be lawyers, and I don’t mean that as a curse.

  64. Kxevin says:

    For those interested, Diego Simeone is on Twitter: @Simeone

  65. Kxevin says:

    Rumor is that Messi has agreed to a renewal. 20m per, plus an additional potential 4m in variables.

    There was a lot of other nonsense floating around related to the contract (sign Aguero, renew Pinto, etc.) that I place about zero credence in.

    Another thing mistranslated is that Messi wanted assurances that they were going to build a competitive team around him. The actual words used by a reliable journalist were that Messi wanted assurances about the sporting project as part of the discussions. There was never a question that he wasn’t going to renew, as with Iniesta.

    • ciaran says:

      I love the idea that Messi would demand Pinto get renewed. It’s ridiculous, as is the idea of him insisting on the signing of Aguero.

      Still, if the media are to be successful in convincing the world that Messi is a diva, demanding particular colour M&Ms then this is the kind of story you drum up.

      It’s not that I’m against the signing of Kun Aguero… I’ve liked him since the Independiente videos but he’s not what we need right now. If only it was as simple as signing your favourite players… I’d be all for Marco Reus in that case…

      • Inamess says:

        I have no problem with Pinto remaining with the club as long as we buy another backup keeper. Then we can put Pinto in a clown suit and have him make really cool balloon animals for Messi.

        As for the striker question. I am sure that someone has brought this up before but what about Higuaín. I always liked this player even though he featured with our rival. How has he been since he left Real and hypothetically would he be a good player for Barca given his good fit with Messi in the Argentinian national side?

        • Levon says:

          I think Higuain would be a great option. An all round scorer who can make runs for through balls, is dynamic, works a lot, and would not mind making space for Neymar and Messi.

          Another person mentioned Cavani as an option, as it seems PSG has to start playing fair… Any thoughts?

  66. Kxevin says:

    It’s funny how much height comes up in the discussions of various players. Bayern had 6’2″ Alaba and 6’4″ Boateng in their back line, and slack marking still allowed not one, but TWO Ramos headers.

    Poor marking means that irrespective of height, a defense is going to be vulnerable to set pieces. There is also the question of getting bodily into the attacker. Was watching a match the other day where a taller player got a header over a shorter one, but because of the body position that took jumping space from the taller player, the smaller player was easily able to deal with the aerial duel.

    The perfect player doesn’t exist. You have to weigh the pluses and minuses of a player in question. Given the number of key interventions and tackles made by Mascherano this season, I would take that quality over the comparatively fewer incidents of set pieces that happen.

    Set pieces aren’t dangerous because our players are short. Set pieces are dangerous because our players mark for crap on them, in my opinion.

    I also think set pieces will improve because Ter Stegen is MUCH more controlling/commanding of his space than Valdes. He seems to talk quite a bit, as well.

    • ciaran says:

      Ya but that exact argument was made on Masch’s non-challenge on Bezema’s header; he didn’t even put him off in the air. Puyol, even if he didn’t win the header would have at least made it harder for Benzema…

    • Levon says:

      Well, Mascherano is short and marks for crap on set pieces and crosses. But I think we all have discussed the pros and cons a lot in this space and I understand why you would like to stick with him at that position.

      I hope you are right about Ter Stegen. Personally I have seen him only on YouTube. I am worried that culers won’t give him a fair chance. Not even culers actually, it is the local press who are the real problem. They are simply poisonous. One bad season and the pressure will just mount.

    • Peter says:

      Height comes into the discussions because it’s a physical quality. A shorter player can become good in the air, but there comes a moment when all the training won’t help if he has to guard another player that has 15 cm on him. Furthermore a taller player has more motivation to exploit his height. Nature + nurture basically. :)

      The first Ramos header was pure exploitation of the zonal marking. I really don’t understand why a good strategist like Guardiola prefers zonal marking, since top footballers can send the ball exactly where they want it – and the zone can be overloaded so that at least one hitter has a good chance to plant a powerful header.

      The second Ramos goal was a collective defensive mistake, and it was a mistake that is supposed to be rooted out in football base. There were three Real players whose markers were behind them. You just can’t defend effectively when the guy you’re supposed to be marking has first options on the ball – and an open goal in front of him.

      Talk and communication are two different things. 😀 Pinto is very verbose, but his talks are more along the lines of “Let’s go team! Come on, come on, come on!!!” There was even a video of Bartra finally having enough and telling him “When you say “come on” I have no frigging idea what you’re telling me! Do you want me to clear the ball or not?” 😀

      I don’t want Masche as a CB. What I want is to have him move to midfield so that he could be available to play as CB if needed. It would be criminal injustice, hell, treason, to sell a world class destructive midfielder who has had three years of playing as a defender for Barcelona. Barcelona has a lot of experience putting players out of position, so how about just for a change they are played in their correct positions, and we’ll see what happens?

    • Barka says:

      Set pieces are dangerous if defenders don’t mark well.Set pieces are also dangerous if defenders are short: standing in the right position means nothing if you can’t reach the ball.

      Set pieces are extremly dangerous if defenders are short and can’t mark attackers. Mascherano is one of those defenders. It’s not his fault that he’s 174 cm marking a 183 cm Ramos/Benzema or can’t head the ball well, he should be playing in the midfield, not as our centerback.

      • Kxevin says:

        What’s fascinating about these replies is that I didn’t mention Mascherano, yet all of them single him out.

        The non-leaping Pique isn’t all that hot at defending set pieces. Neither is Bartra. None of our current defenders are, really, which is why I and others (like Martino) say that the most effective way to get better at set pieces is to not concede them.

        Adriano got banged on that Getafe equalizer not because of his height, but because he had zero idea where the attacker was. I recall the Celtic match where they scored off a header. A taller attacker also got excellent position on our shorter defender. In short, it isn’t just Mascherano. Hell, our teams defend set pieces for crap right down to the Juvenil level.

      • Barka says:

        I wonder why people keep singling out Mascherano, other than the fact that he is our CB, has to deal with lobs and crosses and is terrible at it?

        Noone mentions Alba/Adriano not because they’re good at it, they’re also bad but that’s not their main job to defend high balls. I’d love to have Filipe Luis/Abidal there but I’m resigned to seeing Alba owned by Garcia when we play Atletico or Adriano getting owned by Ronaldo in the Copa del Rey or some random Getafe guy.

        The fact is, Mascherano is plain terrible at aerial defending, not just set piece. Pique can’t jump but even so his “not-so-hot” aerial defending is miles better than Masche’s. Bartra is inexperienced but is at least average. Mascherano is just way below average in this aspect for a top-team CB and is a serious liability everytime we face Real/Atletico and any athletic team in UCL – which is every team past the group stage. His extremly good tackling can’t compensate for the liability he causes for us in the air.

        It isn’t just Mascherano but replacing him will have the highest marginal impact on our aerial defending. We should do that and more if we want to compete against other big teams.

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      Don’t concede set pieces.
      Lets assume we do that.

      But, in span of 90 minutes, we take approximately 10 corner kicks & 5 indirect free kicks,
      So many chances, we waste most of them.

      Not only defending, we’re also making scoring difficult for ourselves.

      There is also the matter of Long balls & Aerial duels.

  67. Hilal says:

    So, according to Mr Balague on Revista, Luis Enrique (which he says is a done deal) is a cross between Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho. He has the same football philosophy as Pep but with the personality of Jose. Ie he is will take full control of the dressing room and anyone who doesnt like it can sit on the bench.

    Have to say that in theory that sounds like one hell of a combo!

    • Inamess says:

      Could be a great or frightening scenario. Enrique might become so conflicted that he ends up in a psych ward.

      Attack!, No Defend!
      Attack!, No Defend!
      Attack!, No Defend!
      Attack!, No Defend!

      It does, however, follow Mou’s comment that he and Pep were the same, it’s just that Mou admits he’s an SOB but Pep won’t.

  68. Inamess says:

    I had another question that was brought up but didn’t really see answered:

    How does a player’s age figure into the transfer equation? To me, the perfect age to get a player is around 24. By this time a player should have already proved himself so you know what you are getting but also have that player’s best years ahead of him. For this reason, two things don’t make sense to me:
    Why should a 19 year old be worth 36 million? This player may be promising but still has to prove himself. Isn’t this just a gamble that our best expectations for that player will somehow work out. If it doesn’t, then in a few years that same player may be worth only 10 million.

    Similarly, for an older player. If you buy a player at 30 for 36 million, he may still be one the best in the world. But aren’t we almost by definition buying a player whose best years are behind him and within a few years will certainly be worth only a fraction of his cost.

    For me, other considerations aside, I never really understood the Villa transfer. I was excited to get him, but weren’t at 40 million weren’t we also assuredly buying a player in decline even if he never was unfortunate enough to break his leg?
    The other consideration is that we do not have to get “the best player” at every position. The difference in skill between the best CB or RB available for the transfer window and say the third may not be that much, and yet the difference in fee might be huge, particularly in a World Cup year and one in which every team in the world now knows that we are desperate to get in new players.
    We know that our transfer history is not great, so given the unknowns isn’t it better to take a risk on a cheaper player since at a club like Barca he might be a better fit in the end for reasons not easy to predict?

    Also, as ciaran suggested, the best buys for us may be players who are now or have recently been in La Liga. That way the club knows a little more what it is getting and how the player will fare against other teams in the league. Also, you seem to get more quality for the price from La Liga players as the English League clubs have been finding.

    Who are some reasonably priced transfer prospects from La Liga?

    • Peter says:

      A 19-year old has about 4 years more in his football education according to FIFA. A player of 19 that has the same capabilities as a say 27-28-year old player has about 8-9 years until he hits his top form, meaning his potential is much bigger. A younger player is also cheaper, much cheaper. A young player can also stay longer at the club, meaning his transfer cost is amortized along more seasons.

      Anyway, I believe that a good idea is to sign players with good communication – and that means also a common language. The first year of Mou’s Real, Khedira and Ozil stood mostly by themselves and Ozil was often misused. Basically, when you need a translator to tell you exactly what the coach or the captain want, you can’t get the best of anyone.

      For the keeper position Keylor Navas is apparently valued at 5m, but maybe he would want a starting position and a good salary. The EPL doesn’t have a lot of good keepers and he could make a name for himself if he decides to go there.

      BTW, it’s important to remember that in the end of the silly season the overall balance is what counts. For example, despite the numerous signings, Real basically spend about 60 million. So if Barcelona decide to spend money for two seasons, that means about 80 million + whatever can be gleaned from the sale of Affelay, Cuenca and Tello(and maybe Song). Those alone could mean Laporte/David Luis comes free of charge – and then there are the 80 million to be spent on say Keylor Navas and say two more players, each of whom could cost up to 30 million.

      P.S. If the FFP decisions are upheld, PSG and City may/will not be in the market come summer. With those two out of the picture, getting a player may be easier. Of course, United will be looking for means to reinforce the squad, but they won’t be getting finances from the Champions League, which can be huge, especially if City don’t get very far(current prohibitions include a max squad of 21 players for the Champions League).

  69. Rami says:

    Messi should focus more on his form which has been down for two seasons now, Instead signing new deals with higher paychecks.

    If there is one thing we can all agree upon about the current board, Is that they for the last 4 years have been trying to save every penny they can [insert a joke about color printers], So they weren’t the ones to take the initiate with this whole new deal thing, i can guarantee you that. And it’s no surprise that this coincided with the current rumors that messi will have to pay up to 40M euros because of his tax problems, So why the club feels obligated to pay messi more money because of his own taxes mismanagement.

    Messi has been a disappointment this season, It’s not something that i can easily say, He’s my favorite player after all. He just failed to step it up when it mattered, When the team needed him the most, I didn’t ask for goals or assists, I just wanted a fighting messi, With an attitude and determination that matches his value and reputation to his team mates and his fans.
    There is no a better example than the last two matches against atleti, As time passes you can see him giving up more and more as atlelti players tried to bully him and deprive him of space, instead of choosing to step it up and fight even more, That PSG match in our home last season showed how much just the presence of him on the pitch can have such a profound a psychological impact on the whole team, If you see your best player slowly giving up in front of you, you’ll think, Why the hell am i bothering then.
    What makes it worse, Is that he doesn’t have an excuse, He had his fair share of rest, And is the most physically fit among his team mates.

    • Gekko64 says:

      very true. for all the talk of Ronaldinho’s off the pitch behaviour, I never remember him freezing in his tracks as soon as he was off the ball. Messi is just inexcusable lately, poor form is one thing but lack of effort is a huge letdown.

  70. Yeah, but what’s the statistic on the number of penalty goals he’s had this year? I haven’t checked, but it seems like it’s been a large portion.

    On the other hand, I agree with the essence of Hunter’s argument. Messi is amazing, and is a victim of his own success. Even his off years are incredibly prolific. His three assists to Tello comes to mind.

    However, Rami is also right I think. There was something very frustrating to me, a viewer, about his over all attitude in several games this season (at last year as well if a little less so). I can appreciate that this might have an effect on the rest of the team.

    For me, Valdes’ injury killed the team (and boy, we will miss him). I also do not understand the discontent with Xavi. He has played great all year, but he hasn’t been getting help. I’d like to see Cesc sold. You can insert Levon’s argument here with one additional caveat: He hasn’t stepped up into a leadership role this year. His nationality, experience, and credentials all point a role as a leader. However, either because of the team, or his own personality (or some mixture of both), this has not happened. We leadership in the midfield, the back, and our forwards. We have Messi, we will lose Xavi sometime in the near future, and Puyol is gone. This, as well as a strong manager, is the most essential aspect for success.

  71. KEVINO17 says:

    Song’s big problem was that he really should have been playing in the Xavi slot. Should have been given a lot of successive games at the start of the season so that he could get into the rhythm of that position. If he had, I think he could have been quite a revelation. But that was never going to happen.

  72. KEVINO17 says:

    Xavi – 4 goals this season;
    Toure – 23 goals this season, and a better defender, and more athletic;

    • Ya ya….. In 2010-11 season when we won UCL and Liga he scored some 5 goals. So we should have sold him then. Don’t take numbers and compare. Toure at Barca would have never scored those many goals because his role would have been a less aggressive one here. Again Xavi is not about the goals he scored. What makes Xavi the best his ability to control the pace.

  73. KEVINO17 says:

    Oh yes, and I think it’s time that they stopped giving Xavi free kicks outside the box. He just can’t put enough pace on them to trouble keepers. But because he’s Xavi, he gets to pop off a few instead of Messi.

  74. Inamess says:

    As a huge Xavi fan and recent critic I simply don’t favor this player now because he represents to me a style of football that in its purest form no longer suits the side and may now be holding back its progress. I do not dispute his importance for Barcelona and in the national team and would readily agree with anyone who would argue that he has been the most dominant and important figure in world football since 2008.


    1) He is not the player he used to be and therefore the Barcelona and the Spanish national team will no longer win if their teams are centered around Xavi.

    2) His legendary status might make him an all or none player and I do not know if he is willing to take a more limited role in the team. Our major objective should now be to create a team centered around the talents of the team’s younger players such as Messi, Neymar, and I hope Alexis who’s talents are not necessarily suited to the more deliberate and methodical style that characterizes our play when Xavi is on the pitch.

    3) Would we have been a better team without Xavi this year? The answer is no but whether fair or not, I do partly blame him for our change of fortunes beginning in the second half of our season. The narrative that “Xavi went to Tata and asked him to go back and play our former way” may be completed distorted but he is at least my current understanding of the situation.

    4) A transition in our style does have a learning curve and will take some time to develop to be successful. In fact, we may have to go through a season without trophies to make the team better with this new style with Xavi sometimes looking from the bench knowing that we may have been playing better if he was on the pitch more often. That season could have been this year with us looking foolish playing Tata’s way or maybe not. We will never know.

    • Levon says:

      One of the commenters above noted that Puyol made the transition to a bench player quite gracefully. In time, so will Xavi.

    • Jim says:

      So basically

      1. Neither Spain nor Barcelona will win anything again if Xavi plays. Better tell Del Bosque, Martino and the new man ,as well as the bookies then cos they’ve all got it wrong. Watch Xavi control games in the heat of Brazil and then tell me he’s past it. I’ll listen them.

      2. It “might” meaning you’ve no idea if this is right or wrong and there is no evidence but use it to have a pop anyway?
      3. There is no evidence at all of this yet people keep repeating it as if it were real. Whether fair or not you blame him ?
      4. At some point Xavi will spend more time on the bench when someone is ready to take over …. But Song ain’t that person and never was no matter how often anybody says it. Xavi will know, like Puyol.

      If we’re going to discuss this can we at least keep it linked to reality? This year we played against more teams sitting in than anyone else. Nobody finds it easy to get space in these situations and it relies on movement of your forwards plus mids getting ahead of the forwards. We would also still face five or six defenders because they just don’t commit numbers forward against us all that often. However, if our mids go forward at the moment we get caught out too often. So sort the defence ( one extra decent CB and only one FB going forward at any time). Despite this we came pretty close in all competitions and the thing that I keep coming back to is our very average finishing allied to the fact that we keep losing the first goal as if that didn’t matter and leave ourselves an even harder task.

      As Souness said during the CL semis teams don’t play this way (defensively) if they feel they can beat a side another way. It’s not done through choice. It’s done because they feel they can’t compete as well by coming out.

  75. Levon says:


    I’ll reply to your comment down here because if I don’t it will just get lost in this beast of a comment thread.

    I’d sell Cesc because we’d get a ton of money for a player who, for various reasons, has never reached the heights we thought he would. I think he could be great for is if used right, but I also think he is a lot better player for a team that is built around him, as was the case at Arsenal.

    I agree that Rafinha is not on the same level yet, but my point is that we have enough players in midfield to compete for playing time. With guys like Iniesta, Messi and Neymar I think we are okay in the creativity department, and start moving Messi to midfield and play a mobile and dynamic 9 we have a lot of space opening up for passing lanes.

    I think Mascherano in the midfield will give us more balance and more physicality. We will gain a CB who does not have his glaring weaknesses and without losing all that he does offer to our team. We can play Masche and Busi together or Masche and two of Xavi/Ini/Messi.

    I disagree with your notion that if he plays instead of Busi we are weaker in the air, because
    1. We will have a CB who can defend high balls
    3. Possibly a striker who can help defending set pieces
    2. Busi might be tall but he is very skinny. Height is only part of the equation, if you don’t have a body to hold off attackers you’re not much good in the air.

    Another option could be to go all out and get Paul Pogba (thanks Mundo Deportivo) who I see like a young Yaya Toure on steroids (and possibly mind altering substances which led him to get that ridiculous haircut). He’s a self-processed Barça fan, too.

    • KEVINO17 says:

      Once you put Xavi on the bench, every other midfield issue resolves itself very neatly: Cesc plays CM/AM, Song plays DM/CM. I find it fascinating, if not surprising, to see the complexities this club creates to keep a legend on the park.

      • Levon says:

        Song is a solid squad player who has, especially his first season at the club, received a lot of unfair criticism due to being brought as something he was not. But he does not have the exceptional quality demanded to be a first choice starter for Barcelona. At Arsenal, yes… At Barcelona, no.

        • KEVINO17 says:

          We can disagree on that. But why would you sell Cesc to keep Xavi on the park for another season. Give Xavi’s role to Cesc and let Cesc flourish.

          • He won’t be able to take Xavi role. That will need him to control the tempo of the game. The only solution will be to have Iniesta move into Xavi role and then Cesc into Iniesta role. But again then you are taking the team’s second best dribbler away from opposition goal.

            I am not against selling Xavi. But one need to realize without Xavi we may have to restructure our formation a bit. Otherwise a team with pretty compact midfield will over run Cesc every time as we have seen this season.

            Let’s accept against the top opposition which pressed higher or made the midfield compact(mostly with a 4-5-1 formation or it’s variation) Cesc was simply over-run. At 27, he will not evolve into Xavi. That is not possible. He will be Cesc and will play like Cesc always, changing him to Xavi will be disastrous like we tried with Villa when Sanchez came. Everyone wanted him to be like a winger.

            The coach whether it’s Tata or Luis or whoever have to reassess the formation also.

    • Spiza7 says:

      – Cesc just turned 27, hes entering his peak years. With a new coach coming in for next season we should not sell him.

      – Take Xavi out and we are low on starting midfielders, Messi and Neymar should play in the forward line and not midfield.

    • ciaran says:

      Firstly, to make things clear… I am completely against the idea of selling Xavi, it’s not going to happen, nor should it. He controls a match in a way that no player in history has or could.

      Here’s my however; we are not at our most dangerous with him on the pitch. Winning is about scoring more goals than the opposition. There’s obviously numerous different ways to try to achieve that but it boils down to two… you try to stop the opposition from scoring and look to score a small number of goals or you try to simply score more than you concede.

      Xavi is perfect for the first option, he limits the amount of chances created against your team by controlling the ball and moving players around the pitch. This is the root of Spain’s triumphs at all recent tournaments. At the last World Cup, Spain won all of their knockout matches 1-0.

      For the past couple of years at Barca (bar the last two) we have been defensively very good as a result of Xavi’s talents and the combination of different skill sets in our squad and a better press. We have conceded less goals than anyone else in the league on a number of occasions as well as Valdes winning loads of Zamora’s.

      Now, for a number of reasons, this is no longer the case. We’ve won 1-0 only against Espanyol since the 1st of October when we beat Celtic by that score and haven’t kept a clean sheet in the past 8 games. I am not for one second blaming this on Xavi. But without him at his best as he hasn’t been in 2 years it affects all aspects of our game and I don’t believe that our best XI has Xavi in it anymore.

      As for Iniesta… I love him. He plays football the way it should be played and I would prefer watching Iniesta to almost any footballer on the planet. I don’t buy into the idea of him being able to play Xavi’s role for two reasons; 1, he wouldn’t be as good as Xavi at it and 2, he wouldn’t be able to be Iniesta if he was trying to be Xavi.

      People looking to replace Puyol are having a hard time because you can’t ever replace a player with the exact same characteristics and skills – and it will be even more difficult to replace Xavi because he was our style.
      We need to evolve and part of that evolution is going to be to give Cesc more control of this team without comparing it to the Xavi-Barca. It’s going to be a different Barca. We might have 55-65% possession instead of 70-80% but we’ll be more direct. Hell, we might even end up playing better football.

      I think with the near future of our club riding on 1 transfer window there’s no way in hell that Cesc will be sold, particularly if Luis Enrique is coming. I love the names being linked like Pogba & Vidal but don’t forget that it’s Pirlo that runs that midfield, Pogba & Vidal are expendable.

      As for Cesc, if we did sell him we would get a lot of money for him because he is in the top 3 or 4 midfielders in the world, possibly at the top of that list in terms of playmaking. But what do you do with that €40-50million? You hope that Xavi can play 50 games a season for the next two years and see who’s available to buy after? You hope that Rafinha is going to be a central midfielder rather than the attacking player he is? Sign Pjanic or someone hoping that after a settling in period he is able to contribute 20 goals a season from midfield? None of those are actual options…

      • Ultraculé says:

        Every time I’ve seen Iniesta asked to play the Xavi role (can’t remember exact games) under Pep as well as Tito, he has done so exceedingly well. He shields the ball as well as Xavi. The only area where he differs is that he tends to be a bit more anarchic, mainly because he can. He is an excellent dribbler of the ball and because he knows this he takes on more defenders.

        2. I would argue that Iniesta is already a better xavi than xavi himself is, currently. if that makes sense. Yes 2008-2011 Xavi is another thing altogether and really nobody in the world can ever be that.

        anyways thats just about iniesta and his ability to step into xavi’s role. Remember pep’s quote on xavi retiring pep, but this pale faced kid retiring them both? its sorta pertinent.

        anyways i find this talk of selling xavi completely absurd and laughable. The guy is still VERY valuable. He just needs to be utilized intelligently from now on.

        • ciaran says:

          I’m not saying that Iniesta isn’t a better player than Xavi, or that he can’t fill his role but he couldn’t do it in the way that Xavi does. He is a different player.
          Iniesta doesn’t control games in the way Xavi does or has done but he is a more dangerous player too.

          Xavi is a once in a lifetime player, Iniesta is too but for different reasons. In my opinion, when Iniesta has played the Xavi role he has performed perfectly fine but he does it in a different way.

          My preferred XI will have Cesc-Busquets-Iniesta in midfield because we are at our most attacking with that line-up. With all three having to step up their game to fill the void left by Xavi.

          I would like if Busquets had some competition for a place next season. I still feel that he could add to his game and competition for places invariably makes people improve.

          • Ultraculé says:

            Wait, so you admit that Iniesta can fill Xavi’s role. But that he can’t in the way that xavi does. So what? If he’s able to deliver why bother about the how.

          • ciaran says:

            I never implied that Iniesta couldn’t do the job but that he can’t do it to Xavi’s level as his skill set is different but also that he shouldn’t do it because if he is playing Xavi, who will play Iniesta?

            Why take Iniesta away from his own role in the team which he has done for years at a high level when Cesc plays exceptionally well when played deep?

            I’ll ask a different question… when has Cesc been given his preferred role in any of these big matches that he has ‘went missing’ in?
            To say he underperforms is unfair if he is playing out of position. We all saw how useful Messi was when he was asked to play on the right wing

          • Ultraculé says:

            And what exactly is that Cesc’s preferred position?
            I don’t know what that is, IN OUR SYSTEM.
            I doubt he does either.

            As for your other point, this is what I’d say. The reason its important that Iniesta plays Xavi’s role is that xavi is unique and there are very few players who can pull off what he does (again) IN OUR SYSTEM. Iniesta is that guy – an intelligent footballer who has the experience and quality to be able to do what xavi does (albeit with slightly reduced discipline).

            Your other question – Yes we will need someone to perform iniesta’s role and while again, not many footballers are as good as he is, we have PLENTY of people in the team and the academy who play that role. Messi can do it, Denis Suarez and Halilovic are being tipped to take on that role. Rafinha could play that role well if he develops as expected. Xavi is unique. period. Iniesta is as well. not his role as much.

            hope that makes sense.

      • Gekko64 says:

        well said ciaran, my thought exactly. this year it was time to start playing cesc as a starter and xavi as a super sub, but we chose to keep living in the past instead and jack it to pep pictures.

        we’re doing this backwards. Xavi is the one that should be coming in when opponents are tired, barca is hopefully winning and it’s time to slow down the tempo. instead we starts with a slow tempo, suffer the usual goal on the counter and then bring on cesc and hope a miracles come. can you spell mismanagement? 😀

  76. Kess says:

    xavi is our flop of the season… i don’t understand the hype behind, he is less defensive and highly slow, many a times he kills momentum and check mates space others are suppose to run into, he should be relegated to only cameo appearances…

    this liga is looking like ours from all mathematical calculations, 3 points behind atletico and 2 points behind real supposing they win today, so this is how it goes… madrid draws one of the 3 teams they are automatically out(head-to-head rule). a win over atletico gives us absolute victory. the ratio of madrid drawing is mightily high as they have four finals to contend with. remember when martino et al proclaimed 10 finals?

    as to who to buy i really think we should look to luiz and hummels, musachio and laporte are fine players but not barca class.

    if you are in the sack martino bandwaggon you should realize there are no more suitable candidates out there, ok maybe bielsa, but enrique? seriously? not good enough for as roma, not impressive at betis, not a barca coach.
    velverde? i am sure many of us are just echoing xavi’s thoughts which i have come to dislike lately.

    xavi gets years in the team but not at the expense of cesc… do you guys see the stats? or the age and development curve?… maybe you all are always blind to the fact that cesc has never been lazy, he sweats more than any other team member…

    i hope this team stays together and also forge alliance with those that will be brought in, no need for massive exodus except for loans… really just hopes so

    sorry for the xavi jibe did it to piss some of y’all up… its so easy to pick on cesc and not xavi around here. visca barca

  77. Ultraculé says:

    Am I the only one here who is not excited about Luis Enrique (yet another unproven manager) taking over from Tata? Is he really going to be an upgrade?

    • By that logic Pep should have flopped big time…. Enrique understands the system and players I believe.

    • Peter says:

      We can’t know until we’ve seen him perform. In any case, I wonder what would’ve happened if Pep, Tito and Luis Enrique experienced what Tata had on his plate.

      Puyol never really came back, poor old lion. :(
      Pique injured big time right in the beginning of the most important game of the Champions League campaign.
      Valdes injured until the start of the new season just after winning the Clasico(and making awesome saves during that one).
      Messi playing half-injured for the first half of the season.
      Neymar injured two times, both long-term.
      Dos Santos, Cuenca, Affelay getting injured and lost for the whole season.
      Alba injured what, three times?

      And neither Pep nor Tito had to endure that with hunt the “independent” Catalan “media” unleashed on Tata Martino due to the fact that he was “chosen” by the Hated One, vetted by the Useless One, dared to bench the Only One, resurrected the Barcelona careers of the English One and the Ridiculed One and he made the Sacred Ones rotate.

      • Ultraculé says:

        Completely agree. Poor Martino has done much more admirably that what many give him credit for. It’s just that I’d have loved for him to get another season with the authority and resources he deserves. But then again, If a Tello is able to pout publicly, I guess it’s better that a likeable gentleman like himself goes somewhere where he is given the due respect.
        I’m just not able to get myself excited with the Luis Enrique prospect as he hasn’t exactly made heads turn with his stints at Roma and Celta.

        • Peter says:

          The press doesn’t want to see it objectively, because it destroys the whole narrative about the special DNA of Barcelona, the uselessness of the outsider and the inherent superiority of having been part of Barcelona and by extention, Catalunya.

  78. Ultraculé says:

    A player can never be replaced like for like.
    Only the roles can be passed on. Yes they will be interpreted differently, but that is to be expected. One can always be confident that Barcelona will never suffer from a dearth of midfielders. And while Xavi is a reference, we will move on from him and the style will also be evolved to suit the midfielders taking his place.

    What worries me more is how the hell we are going to replace the enormous void Carles Puyol will leave behind. I believe that we have managed to replace a proper left sided attacker we lost in Ronaldinho only now in Neymar Jr. While we have secured a backup for the Alves role in Alba, we have not managed to secure the void left behind by Eric Abidal and look very far indeed from replacing Puyol’s void. That, for me is the crucial cause for concern.
    This summer activity will literally dictate how we are going to fare for atleast 3 years to come. Hope we nail it.

    • Inamess says:

      I completely agree. Asking who is our team’s new Xavi is as foolish as asking who is our new Puyol or in four years asking who is our team’s new Messi. All are irreplaceable players and new players come with different skill sets.

      When Xavi came to the 1st team the question was probably who is our new Guadiola? certainly not this little guy named Xavi.

      There will never be a player who can play like Xavi and we should stop looking for him. The Xavi we had from 2008-2012 will never come along again. He was perhaps the best defensive weapon ever in world football because with him on the pitch the Barcelona and Spanish team imposed their will on their opponents and dominated play. Thus a side celebrated its goals against them as if winning the lottery because they were so rare and improbable.

      As the Xavi that played from 2008-12 no longer exists, the question now is who is the best to take his spot (not role) on the pitch. I would argue that the team looked at Thiago and decided that his guy is not him but Cesc. That may or may not have been the right decision. But as that is now the current position we are in, I say why not give Cesc a try next season. The alternative is to bring in another new player and wait another year for him to adjust to the team so we know if he can do better.

      I see Xavi’s role on the team now as a mentor for our younger midfield prospects: Rafinha, Suarez, or whomever else the team wants to bring in as a viable midfield player. Xavi can still probably start in half our games and be brought on to gain back control of the match when we are losing it late in games.

  79. ciaran says:

    Silly season is broken. Sport, in attempt to second guess everyone, has named 80 EIGHTY players that we are considering buying.
    Bar naming every footballer on the planet I suppose it’s the closest thing that they can get to guaranteeing that they reported it.

    • Inamess says:

      “I suppose it’s the closest thing that they can get to guaranteeing that they reported it.”

      That’s a funny notion. I am going out on a limb and remember you heard it here first:
      I predict that the team from Madrid will win the Champions League this year.

  80. sandesh says:

    In all of this, Tata has been treated without much respect. I can understand people saying “wait he gets millions”, but still, this leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I want to be part of a club that treats its players and managers with respect. I almost feel like I want to find a way to thank Martino for dealing with all the mess this season with dignity. Is there any way we can write a fan letter, translate it to Spanish and send it to Tata?

  81. acquit says:

    In one of the comments , Kxevin mentioned about, “How Marking is important than height”. THis video is the best example for that, this Barça team was full of height and conceded a goal in the corner(Ibra,Puyol, Maxwell,ABidal, henry etc). Man Marking during corners is more vulnerable than Zonal Marking, but the way Bayern Conceded is bonkers. Thank god people are not talking about the death of Zonal Marking.

    P.s: I am not talking about Michael Cox 😀

    • Jim says:

      Eh, apart from me. It’s a recipe for disaster, imo as we saw in the BM match. Nobody is ever to blame for anything. If you’re marking a spot rather than a man you can’t match runs, can’t get any purchase to push someone about, always likely to deal with someone who is moving not static and can’t get a decent run and jump so you’re always gonna risk being second best. The person delivering the ball also knows where you’ll be when it’s delivered. Apart from that it’s a good idea :)

      When defending you need height and aggression towards the ball. If you’re not getting the ball make sure your man doesn’t either.

    • Kxevin says:

      Thank you for that video. So much good, from that sick Ibrahimovic assist to Pedro and his drawing the penalty, to the perfect illustration that size matters only so much on set piece marking.

  82. ooga aga says:

    Xavi, dont sell him. Hate to say it, but I reckon most people arguing for his sale are new fans. I agree, there are times to take him off the pitch, but in most cases, we want him on the pitch. Echoing Jim, who has made this point many times: watch the games where Xavi has not featured. It isnt pretty. And no, it isnt because Song hasnt had enough playing time. Xavi is a once in a lifetime player. Go check the number of titles he has won. I guarantee he will be a lock in VdB’s spain side for this world cup, and they might win it again. I doubt VdB will be under the pressure to play Xavi the way a Barcelona coach would be. But VdB will play Xavi all the same, if he is fit.

    He was never a speed merchant, or pacy. He won his titles just being Xavi. I wouldnt say this has been his best season. And it hasnt been ours. So? We need him as long as he is still running….and at this moment he is running more than any other player on our team, I might add…

    • Gekko64 says:

      honestly the games without Iniesta are much, much worse. the pale knight constantly skips past a couple opponents in midfield creating numerical superiority. it creates so much danger that he’s arguably the most important Barça player imo.

  83. PrinceYuvi says:

    Why is Messi’s buyout clause still 250 M ?
    Ronaldo earns 21M per season and his buyout clause is 1 Billion.

  84. Kxevin says:

    Xavi. The eternal question, and here’s the thing: If we are going to become Track Meet Barça (assuming the club isn’t stupid enough to sell Sanchez to Juventus, as the rumor mill is grinding away at), that is a different matter.

    But if this club is going to run — and I think it’s silly that we have three of the best runners in the world, and we make them stop to pass the ball around too much of the time — Xavi isn’t the man we need slowing down the attack. Iniesta or Fabregas would be much better suited for that role.

    Are we to become a full-on run and gun team, a la RM? No way. Attacking, possession football is always going to be our modus operandi.

    The question becomes, how do you replace a player who is not replaceable? Some say you try. Others say you try a new approach. Martino tried the latter, and then punked out, which is a shame. It made Neymar more dangerous, made Sanchez a new man and opened up the pitch in a very dynamic way.

    Xavi will not be sold, in part because he shouldn’t be, but also because he’s a bit like BitCoin, in that his value is variable dependent upon your worldview. I would love for him to stay another season and work closely with players like Rafinha, Suarez and Samper. I can even see him becoming a coach with Barç.

    But the same reverence in which Xavi is held is in part responsible for the team’s shift in mode of play (and maybe fortunes). More Xavi, slower play, more susceptibility to deep blocks and midfield pressure.

    No, I don’t believe the Xavi as dictator nonsense. But I do think that if the team is going to move forward, it will have to come to terms with the skill sets of its existing players, instead of trying to recreate the past with a set of new players.

  85. Tom says:

    Hi all, I’ve been a lurker here since the beginning of preseason this year, and first like to say thank you to everyone, especially kxevin and the other mods for making this the space it is. As for the Xavi question, there were moments this season where I wished Xavi would play the more direct pass, and when I heard the rumors about his talks with Tata I feared the worst.
    As the season went on I watched as he controlled match after match as only he can, ran all over the place on those old legs, and continued to produce those beautiful defence splitting passes we all love so much.
    While xavi may in all probability be past his best, I still think he makes for an invaluable tool for this team, and for the money we would get for him, I think it would be a silly move to sell him. I do however think the club does need to be making plans for the time when our great maestro really can’t cut it at the required level anymore, and part of making those plans I think should be a lesser number of starts for xavi next season.
    There is no real replacement for xavi the player and role, and this will necessitate us taking a (slightly) different approach when he doesn’t start, and that could mean saying goodbye to 70-80% possession week after week, which is something I hope whoever ends up managing barca next season doesn’t get crucified for.
    As for bringing a name like Gundogan, Vidal, or Pogba, I’m no sure they would perform that much better than Song in our current system, and if the system is gonna be changed why not give a chance to the player who’s already put in the time to get used to the team, the entorno and everything else. Save that money and buy Laporte. Also, I’d Dani is going, and it seems he might be, I’d like to see De Sciglio brought in, he’s a bigger (6 ft), more conservative fullback who can play either side and I think has some history at cb. I think we’re committed to alba as a wingback, so for me we should be looking for a more defensive option at rb. I rate Montoya, but I’m not sure he can fill that role.
    Anyway, people who know a hell of a lot more than me are working on this, and I’m hoping for the best.

  86. Kxevin says:

    Valladolid just equalized! Holy shit!

  87. KEVINO17 says:

    Incredible scenes in my living room

  88. Jafri says:

    Holy shit, what a SEASON

  89. Kxevin says:

    Valladolid 1, RM 1. We’re back in it. Win out, and we win the Liga.

  90. simple_barcafan says:

    So we begin a new discussion AGAIN???

  91. ooga aga says:

    viscaaaaaaa!!!!!! wooooo. unqualified happiness

  92. mohit says:

    Iniesta must start believing in miracles now 😛

  93. ooga aga says:

    point totals, all teams have two games to go

    ATM 88
    FCB 85
    RM 84

    assuming all teams win this wknd, we dont need to worry about a tie vs ATM giving RM the title…..major stokage

  94. Ultraculé says:

    It’s like fate really wanting to send off puyol and valdes with a league win and we keep getting a lifeline. This is the third one.
    Hope we make it count.
    We have to.

    😀 😀

  95. TITO says:


  96. Ultraculé says:

    What an opportunity for the camp nou to really get behind the team and make them win.

    I still don’t believe this season.

  97. Cule says:

    WOW. Who would’ve thought after that draw with Getafe, we would have the league in our hands. Lets go!

  98. Ultraculé says:

    What an opportunity for the camp nou to really get behind the team and make them win.

    I still don’t believe this season.

  99. Obii says:

    What was that saying around these parts? “Hayyyyy Liga!!”?

    I love this game.

  100. simple_barcafan says:

    Bemused at the euphoria somewhat…All was gloom and doom and then in a instant it changes, a silver lining..Pages and pages were written about how to plan for next season/new coach/new players/ new board…And for a fleeting meteoric gleam, all that stops and we gaze at the heavens, hoping for a miracle…

    Could it be?

    Time to rise and shine…

  101. ooga aga says:

    well, i know life is more than football…but Tito is smiling on us right now, thank you!

  102. Tom says:

    Aaahahsgfhd! Amazing. Gotta say, best part about this is not worrying about a draw handing rm the title at the camp nou, that is unless there’s more craziness still in store.

  103. justdoit94 says:

    I am ecstatic but i just hope that the players can actually muster some desire and not set up their fans for another major disappointment on saturday that would be quadruple of what would have been had madrid won today.
    Now, we’re all in !!

  104. Valdemar II says:

    We’re still in this thing? Ahahaha amazing

  105. ibbe says:

    Unbelievable. Come on barca we’re this close!! This question is relevant now: what’s the status of piques injury? Can he make the atletico game?


  106. Kxevin says:

    The players have always had desire. Sometimes the mind is willing, but the flesh is weak, or the other team just wants it that little bit more.

    I suspect that the new lease on life will kick-start things, and I can only hope that we will see some demons for these last two matches. And the Camp Nou should be PACKED for that last match, even if they don’t beat Elche.

    Not sure what the status of Pique and Neymar are, but both of them should get their asses in gear to be ready for that finale. We will need them both. I can only imagine how energized the team must be. And Messi has his deal, so that won’t be weighing on his mind.

  107. ciaran says:

    If we win our two games we are champions.
    If Atletico lose v Malaga then we can be champions with a draw/win v Atletico
    If Atletico win v Malaga then Real can’t be champions.
    If Atletico draw & we win v Elche then Real can’t be champions.

    For our chances then I would want Atletico to lose v Malaga although that would allow Real back into contention if we draw with Atletico. If Atletico get a positive result v Malaga then we have to beat them although it would be fitting if that was the only time in the season where we did beat them.
    I’m torn…

    • Kxevin says:

      I just want us to win out. The other permutations concern me not an iota.

    • Peter says:

      The best result theoretically would be Atletico losing and Real drawing, while Barcelona win. In that case a draw would give Barcelona the title on goal difference.

      Very, very unlikely, but theoretically possible.

      Of course, away at Elche is a tough game. Real won on an imagined penalty. Atletico iirc won 1-0 or something.

  108. justdoit94 says:

    lets just not get ahead of ourselves right now.. Sunday is a big ass challenge especially since it’s away.. It wont be easy and seeing as how we struggled a lot in away games ! The players should not find it hard to find motivation in those last crucial win or die games of the season

  109. Kxevin says:

    Sorry but this season is just bonkers. People are saying that Atleti deserve to win it, based on some sentimental stuff. Sorry, but we have the sentiment cards trumped. We also have the best overall record against the other top two teams, and if we win out, we will have the most points. And that will be that.

    Some are saying that a Liga championship will wallpaper over the crap the board has mismanaged. Nonsense. That stuff is out there. What the Liga win would do is bring a bit of joy at the end of an extremely difficult season.

    Not saying it’s going to be easy, but believe in your club.

    • Peter says:

      On the way home heard the radio’s football show mention once that Real are winning and I felt resigned. They weren’t really talking about football, going relaxed and all. Came home about ten minuted before the end of the game, turned on the stream and while it was loading I put on my Barcelona shirt – and almost missed the equalizer.

      Bloody hell. Football.

    • simple_barcafan says:

      People saying we don’t deserve it are well..wrong. We beat RM twice and drew with AM. So we haven’t lost against those two. So we are undeserving?

    • Peter says:

      Kxevin, I agree with the wallpaper assessment. With Puyol definitely going it would mean just two real CBs and Mascherano. At least one more would be needed, as well as the return of Rafinha – at the very least. The board knows it can’t delay unless it wants to face a Bastille day of its own.

      As for “deserving” La Liga…

      If there is one team which has suffered this season, it’s been Barcelona. It’s passed through hell and high water, through a sea of tears and the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

    • scribblez says:

      Yes exactly.

      Also: Best goal difference in the liga and being in the top of the table for most of the season.

      If we win it it will be because we beat the other two top sides and we absofuckinlutely deserve it.

    • Those issues can be easily shoved under the carpet if we win the league. I mean if we win the league and don’t sign the necessary reinforcements then many would be still arguing that we are still good enough. Return back to the start of the season, where many justified not signing defensive reinforcement even when we let go off Abidal and Muniesa. There were enough excuses at the time – like we were priced out, the ones we needed would never come etc. You could hear the same. Everyone here simply forget that we mostly need to sign for two seasons. That will require extreme foresight (one the management is really incapable of doing). And there is a small problem of World Cup. Look at any world cup year, the transfer prices gets hiked up like anything. So we could still hear those excuses if we win the league. And most probably if that happens many of you will be defending that saying we were simply priced out. Success gives them that option and we foolish fans will buy it. We have bought it earlier and will buy that argument again. That’s the way the world works.

      In the beginning of the season I have said that there is no justification for not signing defenders regardless of being priced out. It was simply because we let go off two guys – Abidal and Muniesa. So had to sign at that time. Now we have to sign cover for those two, then two defenders, and may be a full back if Alves leaves. Every club will wait till world cup gets over before agreeing to any deal. That’s too many players. They couldn’t buy one player last summer, do we have to expect them to buy this many? Again the strategy looks like announcing through papers about players we want. Other clubs most probably won’t have to scout, just watch who gets linked to Barca and get them.

      Do I want Barca to win the league now? Yes, especially now with the chances of we handing the league to Real Madrid with a victory is kind of taken out of equation. That will happen only if Atletico wins this week. But this Liga season has been quite crazy. I have a feeling that La Liga is a three-timing bitch and may be there could be yet another twist.

  110. KEVINO17 says:

    Be wonderful to see Tata win the league and give everyone a one-fingered salute on the way out.

  111. PrinceYuvi says:

    Hay liga.

  112. Cule says:

    Any chance Puyol plays against Atletico?

  113. Inamess says:

    Tata has two games that will decide his legacy.

    Win or lose, I hope he goes out with his lime green polo shirt on!

  114. bhed says:

    Not much to add as far as the Liga craziness. Mind blown. Frankly, I’m afraid to hope. I have no idea what kind of juju is needed at this point.

    On a different note, just saw that Brazil has picked Maxwell (much respect) for the WC team, but not Adriano. Not sure how you can justify that (no slight to the very classy Maxwell). Has anyone seen Maxwell play much this year? Has he been that good?

    • Gekko64 says:

      maybe it’s because Maxwell is a starter while Adri is not? I do rate the latter higher, but didn’t watch Maxwell this year.

    • Inamess says:

      I like Adriano a lot, but I know some of the folks on this site are not big on this player. Not sure why? Has anyone who has been following the comments know what his biggest critics say about him other than the fact that he has been very injury prone?

      • Levon says:

        To me it’s even more amazing he didn’t pick Felipe Luis over Maxwell, never mind Adriano.

        Either way our man of glass gets to relax his muscles this summer.

        • ooga aga says:

          Good point. Felipe Luis has been massive this year. Great player.

        • Jim says:

          Or just maybe Maxwell was(is) a lot better than he was ever given credit for at Barca. I’ve only watched PSG’s CL games but he is still technically excellent, a brilliant defender and as I posted a few months back even provided a couple of assists. Mind you, let’s not go there again.

  115. KEVINO17 says:

    Is it clear whether Tata walked or was pushed? I assume pushed.

    • Inamess says:

      I have not been following the rumors on this, but my sense is that he wanted out by Valladolid vs Barcelona (1-0), which I think was middle of March.

  116. Inamess says:

    On the “deserving” question, my position is this (assuming all three clubs win next week):

    Athleti “deserve” to win La Liga unless we beat them at Camp Nou:

    1) They are the “Cinderella Story” and should have to be “knocked out” by one of the giants.

    2) We have not beat them all year so to deserve the League we should certainly should have to beat them at least one time,
    especially if we are playing our last game at home, and they still have the Champions League Final in the back of their mind.

    3) Lastly, I would feel bad to see them win nothing if they lose to Real. Their season has just been too amazing and improbable.

    • Levon says:

      Personally I want Atleti to win their next game so that at least RM can’t win the league anymore.

      After that I will obviously be ecstatic if Barça manage to keep the crown, but it would leave a bittersweet taste in my mouth because yes, Atleti, in my mind at least, deserve it this year.

      What they have done on a budget four times less than ours is nothing short of amazing. The intensity of their play, how hard these guys have fought, the sheer improbability of that team winning the league, the bad luck, bad management and curses their fans have had to deal with over the years…

      You know what, I still want them to win the league. But if I can get a ticket for the game you bet I’ll be cheering on our team like a mad man!

  117. ooga aga says:

    All I know is I’m glad we have Song, if we win the league it will be hard to toss Tata in the air (a la Pep) without some muscle.

  118. Inamess says:

    Cules’ Dilemma: Another Sophie’s Choice
    You somehow have been given a choice by an omnipotent Mephistopheles figure:

    You Must Choose between Two Scenarios:

    1) Barcelona beat Atletico and win the League. We dedicate the Title to Tito and Martinez, have a Parade in which we celebrate our season and the board is celebrated for handling a difficult year.

    Atletico lose Costa in the above game, are disheartened, and then are crushed the following week in the Champions League Finals and Real Win their Decima 5-0, celebrating their victory in the streets of Madrid for 3 days.

    2) Scenario Two: Atleti win a double: La Liga and the Champions League. Their fans celebrate in the streets of Madrid for 8 days.
    The team becomes the Cinderella Story of the Century and the proceeds to become a perennial third big club in La Liga challenging Real and Barca and the best teams in Europe in the Champions League for the next decade.

  119. Inamess says:

    Or maybe none of these will happen.

  120. Inamess says:

    or unfortunately not 1 or 2


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