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

Tito

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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Written by:

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

370 Comments

  1. Gekko64
    May 5, 2014

    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
      May 5, 2014

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

    • ciaran
      May 5, 2014

      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
        May 5, 2014

        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.

  2. PrinceYuvi
    May 5, 2014

    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 )

  3. Peter
    May 5, 2014

    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:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dW37AGZ0Pj0

  4. Peter
    May 5, 2014

    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
      May 5, 2014

      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
      May 5, 2014

      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.

  5. IamXavi6
    May 5, 2014

    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.

  6. 86ed
    May 5, 2014

    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
      May 5, 2014

      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.

  7. Inamess
    May 5, 2014

    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?

    Possibilities:

    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
      May 5, 2014

      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

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-s6tO01hVE

      • Inamess
        May 5, 2014

        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
      May 6, 2014

      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
        May 6, 2014

        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”.

  8. May 5, 2014

    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
      May 5, 2014

      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?

      • May 6, 2014

        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.

      • May 6, 2014

        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.

      • May 7, 2014

        Henrique makes into the Brazil squad…. How things have turned for him!

      • G6O
        May 6, 2014

        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…

      • May 6, 2014

        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.

      • G6O
        May 6, 2014

        That too.

      • Inamess
        May 6, 2014

        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:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmX2VzsB25s

      • Inamess
        May 6, 2014

        Yikes: I meant “offer he can’t refuse” of course.

      • Inamess
        May 6, 2014

        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

      • Inamess
        May 6, 2014

        Sorry, real 2 behind as a Real-Atleti tie goes to Atleti on head to head.

  9. barca96
    May 5, 2014

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

  10. KEVINO17
    May 6, 2014

    Keep Cesc – sell Xavi.

  11. ciaran
    May 6, 2014

    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?

    • May 6, 2014

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

    • Inamess
      May 6, 2014

      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.

    • Inamess
      May 6, 2014

      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.

  12. May 6, 2014

    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
      May 6, 2014

      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.

      • May 6, 2014

        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.

      • May 6, 2014

        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
        May 6, 2014

        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
        May 6, 2014

        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…

      • May 6, 2014

        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
        May 6, 2014

        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
        May 6, 2014

        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?

      • May 6, 2014

        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.

      • May 6, 2014

        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.

      • May 6, 2014

        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.

      • May 7, 2014

        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
        May 6, 2014

        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
        May 6, 2014

        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
        May 6, 2014

        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.

    • May 6, 2014

      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
      May 6, 2014

      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.

      • May 6, 2014

        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
        May 6, 2014

        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
        May 6, 2014

        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.

      • May 6, 2014

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

      • norden
        May 6, 2014

        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
        May 6, 2014

        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
        May 6, 2014

        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 🙂

      • May 6, 2014

        Yeah, of the Shakira fan club!

    • bhed
      May 6, 2014

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

  13. May 6, 2014

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

  14. May 6, 2014

    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
      May 6, 2014

      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
        May 6, 2014

        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?

      • May 6, 2014

        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?

      • Inamess
        May 6, 2014

        I know I am going to get killed for this, but what about a swap: Higuain (value: 40mil) for Pedro (25 mil) and Masch (15 mil)?

      • May 6, 2014

        No. I’d prefer to sell Cesc (see above).

  15. May 6, 2014

    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
      May 6, 2014

      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…

    • May 6, 2014

      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
      May 6, 2014

      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
      May 6, 2014

      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.

      • May 6, 2014

        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.

      • ciaran
        May 6, 2014

        Read your own comment again Kxevin, you mentioned him by name and mentioned a situation only relevant to him amongst our centrebacks

      • Barka
        May 6, 2014

        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
      May 6, 2014

      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.

  16. May 6, 2014

    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
      May 6, 2014

      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.

  17. Inamess
    May 6, 2014

    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
      May 6, 2014

      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).

  18. Rami
    May 6, 2014

    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
      May 7, 2014

      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.

  19. May 6, 2014

    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.

  20. KEVINO17
    May 6, 2014

    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.

  21. KEVINO17
    May 6, 2014

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

    • May 7, 2014

      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.

  22. KEVINO17
    May 7, 2014

    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.

    • Gekko64
      May 7, 2014

      I always wonder wtf is going on when he shoots instead of Messi. not that he’s a bad FK taker, far from it. but better than Messi? I don’t think so.

    • Ryan
      May 7, 2014

      Alexis and Neymar should be the ones taking them if the angle isn’t right for Messi, I’d say!

  23. Inamess
    May 7, 2014

    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.

    However:

    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.

    • May 7, 2014

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

    • Jim
      May 7, 2014

      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.

  24. May 7, 2014

    @ciaran

    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
      May 7, 2014

      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.

      • May 7, 2014

        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
        May 7, 2014

        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.

      • May 7, 2014

        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
      May 7, 2014

      – 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
      May 7, 2014

      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…

      • May 7, 2014

        Disagree.
        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
        May 7, 2014

        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.

      • May 7, 2014

        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
        May 7, 2014

        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

      • May 7, 2014

        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
        May 7, 2014

        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? 😀

  25. May 7, 2014

    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

    • May 7, 2014

      Do I have to give the number of times Cesc went AWOL against better opposition?

      • May 7, 2014

        by AWOL you mean not scoring and assisting?… you might want to look at a xavi iniesta stat for that

    • Gekko64
      May 7, 2014

      problem is, I really don’t see madrid losing anymore points… we could only hope valencia slowed them down, they did and we failed to take advantage of that. if barca do win this thing, I’ll be happy but we’ll only have RM to thank for it really.

  26. May 7, 2014

    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?

    • May 7, 2014

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

    • Peter
      May 7, 2014

      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.

      • May 7, 2014

        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
        May 7, 2014

        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.

      • kosby
        May 7, 2014

        For me the worst absolute worst part of this footballing season is how the media/press have treated Tata. That guy never even had a chance. He was right on the money when he said – “When a team has bordered on excellence, there are these type of situations, especially when the coach is neither from within the club or Dutch”

        referecne – http://www.thenational.ae/sport/football/martino-sees-no-problem-in-barcas-direct-style

      • May 7, 2014

        I always thought that the “maybe if I were Catalan or Dutch” comment was an extremely weak one. A manager should never play the victim.

  27. May 7, 2014

    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
      May 7, 2014

      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.

  28. ciaran
    May 7, 2014

    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
      May 7, 2014

      “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.

  29. sandesh
    May 7, 2014

    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?

  30. May 7, 2014

    In one of the comments , Kxevin mentioned about, “How Marking is important than height”. THis video is the best example for that http://youtu.be/QfKSs0MHGBs, 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
      May 7, 2014

      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.

    • May 7, 2014

      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.

  31. ooga aga
    May 7, 2014

    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
      May 7, 2014

      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.

  32. PrinceYuvi
    May 7, 2014

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

    • May 7, 2014

      Probably because Messi won’t leave anyway where Ronaldo might.

      • PrinceYuvi
        May 7, 2014

        I’m worried the board wants that 250 badly.
        They could try and push him out.
        People say, Messi is dictator. I wish that was true.
        Would do us whole lot of good.

      • G6O
        May 7, 2014

        The two clubs that could have spent those 250M were just told to forget about it by UEFA.

  33. May 7, 2014

    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.

  34. Tom
    May 7, 2014

    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.

    • Tom
      May 7, 2014

      Btw, sorry about typos and spacing, wrote this on my iPhone.

      • May 7, 2014

        Thank you for your comment, Tom.

        Welcome to the family.

      • May 7, 2014

        Sure … blame the iPhone …

        Welcome to the speaking part of being in the family, Tim.

      • ooga aga
        May 7, 2014

        Tom, not Tim. no iPhone for you to blame, Kxevin. 😉

      • Jim
        May 7, 2014

        Ouch ! 🙂

      • May 7, 2014

        No, just my giddiness at being back in it. I trust that TOM will forgive me that error.

    • Peter
      May 7, 2014

      If UEFA’s rulings hold Then Dani Alves may not go to his rumoured original destination – as of now PSG can sign only one player, and they can spend up to 60m on him.

  35. May 7, 2014

    Valladolid just equalized! Holy shit!

    • kosby
      May 7, 2014

      90th minute ! My heart’s gonna stop anytime now !

      • kosby
        May 7, 2014

        4 mins added time *shudder*

      • kosby
        May 7, 2014

        back in the game people 😀

  36. KEVINO17
    May 7, 2014

    Incredible scenes in my living room

    • ooga aga
      May 8, 2014

      LOL !!

  37. Jafri
    May 7, 2014

    Holy shit, what a SEASON

  38. Jim
    May 7, 2014

    Oh yes !

  39. May 7, 2014

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

  40. simple_barcafan
    May 7, 2014

    So we begin a new discussion AGAIN???

    • ooga aga
      May 7, 2014

      exactly, scratch all the s**T we been talkin’. cos we got control of our own destiny !!!

  41. ooga aga
    May 7, 2014

    viscaaaaaaa!!!!!! wooooo. unqualified happiness

  42. mohit
    May 7, 2014

    Iniesta must start believing in miracles now 😛

  43. ooga aga
    May 7, 2014

    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

  44. May 7, 2014

    ARE YOU FREAKIN KIDDING ME!
    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.

    sheeeyts!!
    😀 😀

  45. TITO
    May 7, 2014

    WTF?!?!??!!/?!?!?!?

  46. May 7, 2014

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

    I still don’t believe this season.

  47. Cule
    May 7, 2014

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

  48. May 7, 2014

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

    I still don’t believe this season.
    MENTAL!

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