Categorized | La Liga, Transfers

One match, for everything, aka “Deserves got nothin’ to do with it”

Saturday.

It’s difficult to adequately explain to someone without a sense of humor and embrace of the absurd about this La Liga season. On Saturday, at the end of a logic-defying series of twists and turns, first and second place will battle. At the end of 90 minutes, a Liga champion will be crowned.

And in yet another season, Barça is being consumed by other stuff that shoves the Liga to the psychic back burner. “One trophy? Phfft! We should be winning the Treble!” Last season, the Bayern beating rendered the Liga anticlimactic, a status that took on a bit of extra disdain when common wisdom became that Thiago Alcantara was sacrificed on the altar of a 100-point season. There was a parade, and the celebratory feel of past victory fetes was displaced by a drunken edge.

This season, however, has been sufficiently crazy to make people wish for the days when the biggest problem was a young player not getting his due.

Everything all at once happened this season. In addition, being eliminated from the Champions League by Atleti has caused culers to move on, as if the Liga is some sort of booby prize, or runner-up bauble. “Here’s your lovely parting gift.” People played fantasy football manager and squabbled about whether this player or that player was good enough, in the “Sign somebody … anybody … not him! He isn’t Barça quality!” debates. Why not, right? No Liga to worry about, even as people said “It ain’t over until it’s over.”

Then it seemed even hope was gone, until things went bonkers and then it wasn’t. And at the end of it all, our team is standing at the brink of repeating as Liga champions, if they can just do something they have not yet been able to this season: beat Atletico. The season to date has been four draws and a loss. Any of those results would see Atletico celebrating a championship on our pitch, an idea that disgusts me to my core.

I like what Simeone has done. I like the way they play, how they leave everything on the pitch. But there is this typically culer notion that somehow, Atleti is more deserving than we are of this season’s championship. But logically and spiritually, I would like to call B.S. on that notion.

Logic and objectivity

In La Liga, a team gets 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and no points for a loss. At the end of the season, the points are added up and a winner is determined, by simple math. If two teams end up tied, head-to-head is the first tiebreaker.

Over the season, week after week through match after match, three teams have battled for the Liga championship. At the end of it all, in a final match, the import of which has been predicted all season by so many, a champion will be crowned.

If we beat Atleti, we will have a superior head-to-head record against them. We will also have beaten the other two contenders. We have also led the Liga more than the other two (now one) contender. Again, it’s an objective argument.

“We dropped points against minnows.” So did RM and Atleti, which is why our two rivals from the capitol city are in this predicament, against a team that has to worry everyone.

Dropped points, wins turned into losses turned into draws. But in many ways it is very fitting that this match comes down to this.

The winner, having the most successful overall record, objectively deserves the title. It’s as simple as that. The three title contenders took 5 of the last 21 points on offer. So what happened? Is this a title that nobody wants, or are the days of people, in the aftermath of our 7-0 hammering of Levante way, way back in the day, ready to admit that the Liga is hyper-competitive and interesting as heck, from top to bottom. (Note the 5-team relegation scrap that will be decided on Sunday, as well.)

Romance and subjectivity

Everyone loves an underdog, right? So is THAT why Atleti deserve it? People point to their squad and say, “Look how little it cost compared to Barça and RM. So charming!” Is making a lot out of an inexpensive squad a prerequisite for being the lovable underdog? Or is it the years of futility? Whatever it is, I challenge anyone to find me a team in world football that has gone through more crap this season than Barça. Players who started the season as mental wrecks, blown apart by year after year of fighting to stay on top, have had being emotional wrecks piled atop that.

Spiritual leaders and captains are leaving, contracts are being fought about in court, presidents are resigning, rumors, ugliness, comforting a beloved player in the aftermath of a personal tragedy, the whole team grieving as one in the wake of a collective tragedy. My hat goes off to our players, as my heart goes out to them.

If our season off the pitch was one of those “Up Close and Personal” pieces they run during Olympic coverage, there wouldn’t be a dry eye in any home watching it.

Culers also like to snarl, “We don’t deserve it because we didn’t play up to standard,” or some such nonsense. It’s easy to scorn players for not living up to an inflated standard, but how that has any bearing whatsoever on whether a team deserves a championship is beyond me.

Pure romance

Loving a team is a weird thing, the strangest kind of unrequited emotion. The team can’t possibly pay us back for all the anguish, heartache, debate and outright arguing, no matter how many championships it wins. Failure and futility define sporting history more completely, from a simple numbers standpoint, than success. That reality makes success, however fleeting, something of a wonder. And yet supporters, and not just our supporters, believe. Week after week, we believe and hope and many even pray in the hopes that their resident deity has a spare moment to “Just help us get this one goal, please!”

I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen on Saturday, on the pitch. The only personal guarantee that I can make is that I will be sweat-soaked, hoarse mess at the end of those 90+ minutes.

Barça has an extraordinary record at home. It also has, on paper, the best team in the world. It is a team that any opponent in its right mind would find terrifying, and hard to bet against at home, for a single match to decide everything, because so many of those great players are also clutch. They have excelled for club and country, doing things that are the stuff of legend, all of which makes me incapable of understanding culers who say that we aren’t going to, that we can’t beat Atleti. We can beat any team in the world, because we have a collection of the best players in the world. If they play to form, they can lay a manita on any opponent in the game.

Cumulative form doesn’t matter in a single match. As a unit this season, they have not been their usual stardust selves. But think about it for a moment — in a season that many culers would define as poor, there is a chance there, waiting to be taken. It is going to be cruel to whomever fails to take that chance, but this much I know, and I know that I have said this before:

This isn’t the time for hedging your bets, for attempting to soften the blow by telling yourself and anyone who will listen that we can’t beat Atleti, that we will draw at best, lose at worst, in that way that people afraid of disappointment have of negatively reinforcing something. This isn’t the time for logic, or objectivity. It is the time for faith, belief and love, the time to be all in. Just as our players fly about the pitch with no fear, we should support them without fear, without reservation. Emotionally, we HAVE to be all in, because you’d better believe our players will be.

It is rare that you get a second chance at anything, much less a third our fourth chance. Whether it is crazy luck, destiny or just some crazy confluence doesn’t matter. I can’t do a damn thing to help my team on the pitch, but off the pitch I can support them with all my heart. It isn’t logical. They have drawn 4 times and lost 1 time to Atleti. I don’t care about logic. Belief and love aren’t logical things. They’re simple, and visceral and in many ways kinda stupid, but they’re all that we have.

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114 Responses to “One match, for everything, aka “Deserves got nothin’ to do with it””

  1. mom4 says:

    One match to rule them all. ..

    • Kxevin says:

      I believe that we are going to win. I do. But I always do, so I suppose that is nothing new. I think that with all of the stuff that has gone on, to be given this chance …

      I think our boys are going to pull one out of the fire, for “the brothas who ain’t here,” so to speak. It isn’t going to be a manita, but a close scoreline, like 2-1 or something. But we ARE going to win.

      • barca96 says:

        I kept on thinking for the past 2 matches that the players will actually play like it’s their last game of their lives but 2 weeks in a row I was wrong. Little movement especially from the forwards.

        You could say that they think that the league is already over but that would be really immature of them to think so. I really doubt that they had that mindset.

        Hopefully this week they will finally play at 100%. They have to. A lot of players have to since it’s not just the last match of the season but also the last of some of them.

        • mom4 says:

          I actually thought they were busting their behinds out there last game. Yes, even Messi! Even Pedro who had a markedly off game at least ran his butt off.

          • bhed says:

            Agreed, but it takes more than just running. It’s where you run, how you run, where you look, when you look.

  2. PrinceYuvi says:

    Off Topic. Sorry.

    Messi’s Road to World cup.

    Group stage.
    1. Bosnia (21)
    2. Iran (45)
    3. Nigeria (36)

    Round of 16
    Equador / Switzerland
    (Assuming France tops Group E)

    Quarterfinal
    Portugal / Russia

    Semifinal
    Germany (or France)

    Final
    Brazil / Spain

    • fotobirajesh says:

      My heart would love that friend, but my mind says otherwise.

      Argentina has a goal keeper who has hardly started a club match the whole season. They still do not know who will be their C Midfielder, if at all there will be one such spot!!, attack alone wont win the games. Gladly, they seem to have sorted out their defence too, except for the LB. Garay and Fernandez might become very expensive defenders, after the WC, if Argentina even reach the Quarters.

      Add to all this, I am afraid Messi wont be able to bear the pressure on him and might choke. It is absolutely enormous, the kind of pressure on him, from Argentina. I would be happy, if I got this wrong. But I think, there is a chance for my fear. So I am keeping my expectations very low.

      • PrinceYuvi says:

        Attack wins games, Defence wins trophies;
        I know, you’re right.
        But heavy-weights are Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina.
        Except Argentina, Everybody else has tough games from the word Go,

        Besides, all the european teams gonna be gasping for breath half way in, under the brazilian sun.
        The humidity won’t help.

        He has been carrying rodonculous weight of culer expectations since long, he can handle 40 million argentinians I think.

        Although, Spain (Read, Barça plus a defence) is a team I’d rather not root against,
        Messi must win this.
        He needs it badly.
        Neymar just have to wait another 4 years.

        • fotobirajesh says:

          I just finished reading Ballague’s Messi. (It is horrible as a literary work – even I can tell you that – but there is lot of information, really). I do not want to believe anymore of these stories of Messi is away from pressure etc. He too is a human being, quite a different character. He too is affected by all this pressure. There is still a lot of negative media in Argentina against him. The political pressure on their team, I guess is even more than what is their in Barca, it seems.

          You are right about the heavy weights, out of which I guess Germany might disappoint. Belgium team looks excellent and could shock many.

  3. Serena Andre says:

    If you look at the matches we played at home, we were *this* close to winning them. 2 draws. The first one was because of a missed penalty, and the second because of a ridiculous once-in-a-lifetime goal from Atleti. I think it’s time we got a god damn break already.

    I truly believe we’re going to win, and I’m going to support my team to the end. After the season we’ve had, we deserve this more than anyone.

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      Welcome back.

    • Kxevin says:

      Damn right, Serena Andre. It’s funny how when you look at the goals that we conceded and the quality of finishing present on many of them, or full-on TEAM breakdowns. Then there was that Diego goal in the Champions League …

      We are due a break. For real, and for true. And I have to say that I don’t give a crap about World Cups, transfers, prospective coaches or anything that isn’t about this match. I know that everyone isn’t like me, but I am wearing a different Barça shirt every day this week, looking match highlights of this season and marveling at this still-amazing team that we have.

      I am all in, in other words.

  4. Davour says:

    Yes – we should be grateful to have been granted a final, important game. Aren’t those the ones we yearn for? Heart racing, nerves wrecked, joy or disappointment – either way, it is an emotional trip, a game like this.

    My only rationale for accepting the lack of major titles this year, was that this might be a catalyst for some alterations, which perhaps last season’s league win delayed (though 0-7 should perhaps have been enough, if only Messi hadn’t been injured to allow an excuse).

    But to deserve or not to deserve… as irrelevant as Xavi’s excuses that HIS team at least tried to play football out there. Hopefully, Tata (or someone) can conjure up some final mojo to instill confidence, not just ambition, in our players. Can’t wait.

    • Davour says:

      Or in the words of don Andrés:

      “Everyone sees what they think of as fair depending on how they see it. Why don’t we deserve it? We’ve been leaders, we’ve got through bad times, we’ve run, we’ve suffered. Whoever wins it will deserve it. We’ve fought like everyone else because the League is an effort over a whole season. If we win it, we’ll deserve it.”

  5. Inamess says:

    Great piece Kxevin! As a fan, I think it is best to distinguish each competition and judge it independently. Atleti destroyed us at the Caulderon in the Champions League and deserved to go through, and I have no problem admitting that. But this is a different competition. Nadal might have dominated Federer at Wimbledon, but when the US Open starts that counts for squat.

    At this point do we deserve La Liga. The answer is NO. Is that because Atleti’s compelling story of an improbable story trumps our tale of woe? Again I say no. Atleti deserve the title at this point because they have earned 3 more points in the table and are in the pole position to win the league.

    Had the season gone differently, Real might have gotten 100 points, but they had a chance to knock us out at the Santiago Bernabéu this year and they didn’t, and maybe because of that massive loss their La Liga campaign fell apart.

    Had things gone differently, Atleti would have gotten more than one point in their last 2 matches and wrapped up the League and we would still be playing FIFA manager for next year. But as Kxevin said in his piece, that did not happen either.

    So yes, as things stand now, Atleti are in the better position to win La Liga. All they have to do is to keep a bruised and run down team to a draw at Camp Nou. They can park buses or relentlessly attack our woeful defense and earn their title in the first 15 minutes and leave Barca fans even more shattered then we were before.

    That may happen, but I don’t believe it will. Our fans may be spoiled and beaten down. Our players might be as well. But we are FC Barcelona. Our players have too much experience and pride not to muster the energy for one last triumph before the official “End of an Era”.

    If Athleti knock out the once high and mighty as many anti-Barca fans are relishing, they are to be congratulated because they will have earned the La Liga crown. But I think every Barca fan who knows our players thinks we might just have a few ounces of greatness left in us!

    • Inamess says:

      Oh, I forgot to mention that if we win we should also invite Willy Caballero to the victory parade and give him a special award for making the best save for our side this season!

  6. mom4 says:

    But, but, but we’re only here because we’re lucky! If the Madrids hadn’t screwed up we wouldn’t have been gifted this chance.

    Of course, the converse is also true. If we hadn’t screwed up they wouldn’t have had a chance.

    If we win the league, even with equal points and the head to head tie breaker we will, by definition, have had a better season than they and will fully deserve the title! I guess you could say we would have screwed up one less time than they…don’t care, I’ll take it!

    3-1 to us with many nail biting, eye hiding, hair tearing out moments. My only concern is that we may try to play some half fit players just coming off injuries. That wouldn’t be helpful at all (although maybe a little danger on the left from Junior would be worth the risk).

    Great work as always, Kxevin! Keeping the faith!

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      Of course, The most consistent team in Liga for a decade, don’t deserve to win it.

      Atleti has been playing to the gallery a bit too much; on the pitch – kicking players to curb, off the pitch – making puppy faces.

      Simeone used the Underdog card one too many times. The morons have a perfectly balanced squad, whereas we’re running on empty tank for couple seasons now, still the battered team is trudging along .

      Besides Tata needs to be seen lifting a trophy, just to piss off md, sport and plethora of naysayers. It’d be fun.

  7. Ultraculé says:

    Logically, Objectively, Romantically, Subjectively speaking, Barcelona DESERVE to win at least a major trophy this season… After all the crap that the team has endured this season, which is absurd any way you look at it.

    I feel we are going to win.
    Believe it. Visualize it.
    Think of Puyol, Valdes and Tito Vilanova.
    Support the team.

  8. Agar25 says:

    Love the Unforgiven reference! I’ve been so tired of that rhetoric from people. We have ONE match left after this mess of a season, one match to send off Puyol, V.V. and Tito ( :-( ) with a title and people are talking about “deserving”? Just wow. At least people here aren’t as bad as the people over here:
    http://www.totalbarca.com/2014/matches/the-result-elche-0-0-fc-barcelona/
    Some of the most shameful “fans” ever^

  9. Ultraculé says:

    No doubt, Atleti has done admirably to stay alive throughout and lead the league on the last day what with their limited budgets and small squad.

    BUT.

    Barca winning on saturday might just be the best thing / motivation for them to go all out and mark an unbelievable season with a historic win in Lisbon. That will make for a great story. For everyone.

  10. Inamess says:

    I don’t think there are “good fans or “bad” fans. No “shameful” fans or even “virtuous” ones.
    Just optimists and pessimists, which after this season I think all of us are a bit of both.
    We all buy the scarves and jerseys or pay the cable bills to watch the matches. We may not even be Socios or Catalonians, but everyone has a right to be just the kind of fan they want because we each in our own way root for our team. We also all are paying for just a bit of Messi’s salary or for at least a brick in the new stadium that might be going up.
    As for Pique’s or Neymar’s fitness, I completely agree with mom4. I would rather not have either of them on the pitch if they are not close to match fit. We have to play as a team with our best fit players as is. I think too often our “ordinary” players are looking for our superstars to bail them out. We will have 11 players on the pitch and all of them will have to play a great match as a unit whether they have been nominated for some overrated award or not.

    Most of the world is looking at our team as the underdogs, and I have to say that while it feels a bit different, it is more than OK with me. Let do as ultracule said and give Atleti the motivation they need to win the title they “deserve” in Lisbon.

    • Inamess says:

      btw: I was trying to look up whether the people of of Catalonia should be referred to as “Catalans” or “Catalonians”. Still not sure. Any help?

    • Kxevin says:

      They are Catalans. And I struggle to see how crapping on players is “rooting for the team.” I have yet to have someone adequately explain that one to me.

      People have the right to crap on those players. But this season has brought out the ugly in the culerverse, as the quest for blame ensues, and it becomes the fault of a particular player, usually one that folks don’t like.

      Iniesta, Alves and Pique have all said that it is everyone’s fault, and that it is a number of factors, none of which ameliorates, even an iota, the “It’s him. He’s the problem.”

      Mascherano is short. He’s the problem. Song is not a CB. He’s the problem. The problem is deeper than a single player, or even a different coach.

      I don’t think that anyone is saying that people who rip on players aren’t fans. But I don’t think it unreasonable to wonder how crapping on our players constitutes being a supporter.

      Being a supporter doesn’t mean being blind to the challenges that the team faces, and discussing/analyzing those challenges. The difficulty for me comes when people try to make it seem like any problem is a single player’s fault, while absolving others.

      And it is the defense’s fault, when this season in Liga, the team has scored 99 goals. Last season, 115 goals. There is one match left, but it’s safe to say that they aren’t going to score 16 goals against Atleti. Last year they conceded 70 goals. This season, with one match to go, they have conceded 47.

      The defense is the “problem” because that’s easy. If we had those 16 goals in Liga, we’d probably already be champions. The team conceded 9 fewer goals in Europe this season, but the defense is the problem.

      That is the complexity with scapegoating and singling out, for me. It isn’t analysis. It’s “he is this (short/slow/positioning/not a CB) so he’s the problem. If you look at the numbers, attack needs to be sorted before the defense, yes?

      People defend their right to Football Manager and Fantasy Transfer our team to heck and back, but when I look at our gala XI, when everyone is fit, I wonder who gets replaced:

      Valdes, Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba, Busquets, Iniesta, Xavi, Messi, Neymar, Sanchez.

      Some of those players will be moving on this summer, and will need to be replaced. But make no mistake, the quality of our players makes it very clear to me that there are other factors going on in the team, just as there were when Rijkaard had his problems.

      An analysis that doesn’t look at the totality of those problems, and chooses to just dump on, or call for the replacement of this player or that player as a solution, always me wonder.

      It isn’t solely the board, just as it isn’t solely Martino, or Mascherano, or Pique, or Valdes being hurt, etc, etc. As I have been saying all along, it’s everything, all at once. That is why it is so easy for me to refrain from trashing players who have been through mental and emotional hell these past few years.

      Is that absolving them of culpability? No. Just applying a bit of understanding to a difficult situation.

      • Inamess says:

        Kxevin, I think we agree more than we disagree.

        By “woeful” defense I was kind of referring to our situation without Valdes, Pique, and Puyol. (By woeful I meant the alternative meaning “characterized by sorrow or misfortune”).
        I am not blaming Masch, Bartra, or Pinto for being in this now really messed up situation. In fact, I sympathize with them, but do think that there are people to blame in this case: I just don’t know their names but they have offices in Camp Nou and for whatever reason decided not to get adequate defensive reinforcement this season.

        As for crapping on players, I have mixed feelings. Fans should have the right to vent and we shouldn’t necessarily have to always preface it with “I know this guy is one of the top five players at his position , but . . .” because even though all our players are great, they may not always be right players for our particular team as it is constituted at a particular time.

        Players come and go, even legends but the crest and the fans that passionately root for the team remain. I love Alves, but if he goes to PSG and we play them in the Champions League you bet I am going to hope that he leaves his marker on defense or puts in a poor cross because facing another Alves on a good day with a team that is even more expensive than ours is just too scary.

        The truth is that we have been so spoiled the last few years that I think all of us were (before an incredibly improbable turn of events) in a state of shock. We were almost like trust fund brats who had our Mercedes taken away after a few years of awesome but reckless partying.

        I agree that venting fans are usually unfair to players but venting also serves a purpose. It is also true that it is much harder to look at a problem objectively, but that is the how our brains work. We have to find the “bad guy”, who conveniently ends up being one of the players who we were not particularly fond of to begin with.

        The problem with football is that, as you say, it is not so easy to point at the real problem that a team has. It is hard and less emotionally satisfying to say this or that player doesn’t tactically fit this complex system that is just too hard to analyze without modern computers.

        Maybe we just have to wait for a genius to figure out why sometimes things work in this crazy, amazing sport that is so simple and complex at the same time!

      • bhed says:

        Pointing out that a particular player hasn’t been playing well is not at all the same thing as saying it’s all that player’s “fault”, and is a bit of a straw man. I think Montoya has been a disgrace to the colors this season (performance-wise, not personally – I’m sure he’s a fine human being), yet it would be laughable to claim this season, or even a particular game was his fault.

        While the knives do tend to come out when things are going badly, and some critics do tend to focus on certain particular players who they may or may not be fond of, I think lambasting critical fans and blanket amnesties (it’s EVERYONE’S fault) is also off the mark, just from the other direction. And I’ve said it before and will say it again – I think it’s MORE insensitive to attack the fans since they are a) an easier target, b) will actually read these comments, unlike the players, and c) are not paid millions of dollars to get the job done at the highest level in the world.

        As far as Iniesta also saying it’s everyone’s fault – what do you expect him to say in PUBLIC comments? “I blame Cesc, that dude sucks”??? Just because they say “we’re just focusing on the Betis game next week…” doesn’t mean they’re not all thinking about the CL tie 3 days later.

        As for Sunday, I’m so mixed up as far as the juju jiujitsu (copyright pending) involved for this match, I’m afraid to talk about it, think about it, or even to hope privately lest I jinx something. A game will be played, I will watch, fingernails will be bitten, I may be too tense to actually make any noises during that time (so I may not end up hoarse). Should be…something.

        • Inamess says:

          Public and Private comments would be interesting:

          Vadles: (public) “I am leaving Barca to broaden my horizons and discover the wonders of other cultures.”

          Valdes (private) “I am leaving this hell-hole in which everyone sh&*ts on me including my f&*8ing so-called teammates.”

        • ciaran says:

          I really don’t know how you have come to the conclusion that Montoya ‘has been a disgrace to the colors this season’.
          He may not have set the world on fire with his performances but has he genuinely played a ‘bad’ match… I don’t think so.
          For me, he has played closer to his maximum ability than pretty much any of our first team squad this year so he should be commended for that and is a great example to La Masia players.

          He also has a higher average rating than the likes of Masch, Pedro, Xavi, Alba & Valdes in the league if this sort of thing appeals to you.

          Player performances will always be subjective but a ‘disgrace’ is way too harsh by any measurements.

        • Kxevin says:

          But bhed, you are conflating crapping on a player with saying that X or Y player had a poor match. They are two very different things, a difference that you illustrate perfect in saying that “Montoya has been a disgrace to the colors this season.”

          It’s an unsupportable contention in the objective sense even as it is inarguable in the subjective sense, as subjective opinions can’t be right or wrong as they are simply one person’s opinion.

          The “what else would Iniesta/Pique say” is a convenient thing to hang onto, as players who are usually forthright and honest are suddenly not. The team has indeed performed below standard, to a player. Every player on the roster had had a purple patch, and many still are. This makes the Iniesta assessment spot on.

          The players are paid millions of dollars to do a job, but they are facing off against players who are also being paid millions of dollars to do a job. So our players don’t always win, as matches aren’t being played in a vacuum.

          As for attacking the fans, it’s the same as your contention about attacking players. Don’t confuse my calling people out for crapping on unfavored players with attacking fans. They are very different things.

        • Inamess says:

          I don’t know then by ordinary standards you can ever criticize a “world class” player then unless he slips on the field or fails to score on an open net. World class players have world class skills and will rarely look like even a “mediocre” Segunda player.

          For example, Busquets may be one of the best midfielders in the world, but if a fan wants to get rid of him because that fan thinks he is too slow for our team’s needs, then I guess that’s a fair argument. Not a good argument, but at least a fair one.

        • bhed says:

          Fair enough, that was harsh on Montoya, although I just haven’t seen first team class from him this season.

          The use of the words “crapping on” vs “calling out” is pretty subjective too. It seems funny, someone is usually getting criticized – either players, coaches, or other commenters. Maybe I’m just weird, and see it differently. Probably.

          • Inamess says:

            No, you are not weird. I think the reason Montoya largely “gets a pass” is that Alves is past his prime and Montoya is now looked at as a possible, though still unproven starting RB for the side in its future.

            A player that I think has twice his potential, Tello, on the other hand, gets a lot of unfair criticism because now that we have a 21 year old Neymar, Tello is surplus to the side. Why criticize Montoya since he hasn’t really played that much yet and isn’t going anywhere.

            I think that one thing that is “unconsciously” factored in our criticism is whether we think a player could leave the club in the future. This is particularly true for non La Masia products. This may, I think be why Alexis gets much more criticism than Pedro who in my opinion is not nearly as good.

    • Agar25 says:

      I get you’re trying to be PC ( I think) but read some of the comments in that link I posted, then come back and say that. Shameful rhetoric. Plain and simple.

  11. njwv says:

    As blasphemous as this sounds. And as much as I’ll be rooting for Barça. And as happy as I’ll be if we win. I’ll be thrilled for Atleti if they win the league.

    This isn’t about “deserve” nor is it about crapping on my team nor is it hedging my bets. It’s just that the Atleti story is too good to not be able to appreciate it *just* because they broke our hearts at the finish line.

    • Inamess says:

      I think a lot of Barca fans have similar feelings and wouldn’t hate to see Atleti win, but for me in order to watch this game I am going to have to demonize our opponents. It is the only way I can really enjoy this kind of match.

      If Atleti win, I’ll feel good for Simeone and their team. Just not as good as if we pull out the victory. I have to say I may not want to watch the parade because it would just be too weird for a team to be celebrating for being the third worst “chokers” in a long and bizarre season.

      If you want to root for both, then maybe the best thing you can go is root for the team that has the ball, then you can’t be disappointed at all over the 90 minutes:-)

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      That’s fair enough.
      As long as they don’t injure one of our guys.
      Getting sick of broken hips and bruised knees, I can hardly appreciate those.

    • ciaran says:

      While I appreciate what Atletico have done this season considering resources, expectations, history etc, not for a single second would I be happy for Atletico to win the title at our expense in our stadium when we have the chance to do the same.

      Reading the comments in numerous locations, how Barca fans have acted is fairly disgraceful. I understand that we have a gigantic fan base due to our success over the last decade but the sense of entitlement is pathetic. Our fans believe that if we don’t win every trophy then we don’t deserve to win anything again.

      Retaining the champions league is one of the most difficult things in all sports yet because we don’t do it we’ve failed. I understand the high expectations because of the generation of players we had but it still saddens me when I see name calling of fans of other teams and belittling of players, be it our own or a rivals.

      We could win the league next week and there will be less celebrations than when Rivaldo got us into the CL qualifiers back in the day. What is the price of success?

      • Kxevin says:

        This ^^

        Though I would say “misguided,” rather than “pathetic” to describe recent supporters’ sense of entitlement.

      • Inamess says:

        I agree. The problem with the coach and players is that they are the public face of the team and sometimes have to take the blame for decisions made beyond their control.

        I have to admit that if I were a fan of another team, I would be relishing the prospect of a once mighty powerhouse falling from grace partly because of hubris and mismanagement.

        The unseemly side and vulnerabilities of this team were always there, it’s just that this year it was too obvious to ignore because we weren’t destroying our competitors on the pitch. Football is also a business and that business must be done right or fickle and naive fans will be up in arms as a mob looking to lynch its scapegoats.

        I’m just glad that with at least a chance at a major trophy we are going to be in a much better position than Man U.

      • njwv says:

        Yeah. Your’s is the point of view I’d expect from a good culer and one which I completely respect. I’m as tired of the entitlement as anyone. And I’m also in the “winning the league is ALWAYS the priority” camp.

        I’m usually in that camp myself. Just. This time. I can’t help but recognize how good a story it would be for La Liga and sport in general. If things turn out badly for us this weekend, I hope the Camp will give Atleti the applause the’ll deserve.

  12. TITO says:

    Don’t know that to think or expect. My heart says we will win it, because of everything we suffered this season, my mind says…hmmm, we’ll see, at least looking at our form in the second part of the season.
    In any case, my brother is getting married a day before that, so one thing i’m sure of, it will be a full house in front of Tv, and at least half of my cousins hate our guts, so it will be interesting :)

    • Inamess says:

      Your cousins’ jumping up and down won’t be as weird as what will happen in Madrid: Athleti and Real fans celebrating together as brothers and sisters in the streets before murdering each other a week later.

      Let’s hope that doesn’t happen, though it would be interesting. Even Shakespeare would be jealous that he wasn’t alive to see that one go down.

  13. Jim says:

    Total Barca ( maybe rightly ) has taken a slagging here but this is one article I’d have been happy to have written. Sums up my feelings pretty well.

    http://www.totalbarca.com/2014/opinion-pieces/be-yourself/

    • Kxevin says:

      Not the site, Jim, but the comments after one of the articles at the site. The writer makes some good points, but loses his way when he brings up tika taka as being ingrained into youth players.

      Tika taka is these days so often confused for attacking, possession football that things have become something of a mess. Complicating matters is that Barça had the most success this season when they were trying to be something different, which caught opponents off guard who were set up to defend what had been the team’s style in the previous few seasons.

      Then Martino lost his nerve, and the rest is history.

  14. Kxevin says:

    There is no purer illustration of how silly Silly Season is than the MD “story” that David Luiz isn’t someone who ZubiZa wants to sign, even as it made me laugh long and loud.

    Bandwidth was expended on how Luiz is terrible, a disaster, blablablabla, ZubiZa is stupid for buying him, all reacting to rumors that a deal was done.

    Now, in the face of the MD story, people are thanking the heavens that the deal isn’t done, and maybe ZubiZa isn’t stupid after all, etc, etc.

    The simple reality is that nobody, and I mean NOBODY, knows what is reality. Is the “done deal” thing a rumor, or the “ZubiZa doesn’t want him?” After all, couldn’t the latter be a ploy to drive down the negotiation price?

    But it gets even sillier. The team doesn’t have a coach yet, so how is it going to agree or disagree to any transfers? Ter Stegen was in process, Halilovic was a B team addition, and B has a coach.

    So people will believe what they want. The same publication that is crap and full of lies when it says that one player is coming, is a bastion of truth when that SAME publication says that another, desired player is coming.

    The most recent example is Reus, who was rumored to be all done. Then the player himself just said that he isn’t going anywhere this year, so now what?

    It’s why I say that until an official source confirms something, it’s all nonsense.

    • Inamess says:

      No one knows what’s going on behind the scenes but as a uninformed fan, I have my own theory about why we are getting Luiz and its not just about the “Puyolish” hair.

      Some rumors had it that Tito wanted Thiago Silva rather than Hummels because the latter was too much like Pique, and therefore not a good partner for our #3.

      To now advocate for Hummels would be going against the wishes of a now deified saint. I wouldn’t want to make that argument at the boardroom table with Tito’s picture now staring me in the face.

      Anyway, its just a theory.

    • Agar25 says:

      Not to mention people seeing Costa for 30m, Luiz for 30m and thinking “FFS we are funding Mou’s Chelsea!!!” I agree with you totally. At this point i’m taking it all in stride, hoping for the best, and counting down the days till the WC .

      • Inamess says:

        It only works if Barca and Mou both think each is conning the other.

        That is if Mou things he is getting rid of an “over-rated” player and us thinking that this same “over-rated” player just might be exactly what we need for our side.

        Doing business with Mou hasn’t had a good track record though as we found out in 2010. I wouldn’t be able to deal with Mou jumping up and down and celebrating all over our pitch again after knocking us out in the Semis, particularly if Costa scores after outmuscling Luiz.

  15. Inamess says:

    Note to Martino and Bartomeu: How we will win on Saturday.

    We make Camp Nou look a little more like the Roman Colosseum.

    1) In the first half we start Xavi and Pedro. If we are not winning at halftime, we ask the crowd to judge thumbs up or down. Thumbs up, we sell them, thumbs down (you don’t have to ask).

    2) If we are not winning at half time, we bring on Fabregas and Tello and repeat procedure #1.

    I hope nobody is going to call me a “shameful” fan. It’s genius!

    • Agar25 says:

      hahahah, apparently it’s a 442 with Cesc Starting over Pedro? So sayeth Sport, who have been right on with lineups posted this year. Leaks somewhere…

  16. Can understand the level of optimism here, but I haven’t seen anything which suggest a Barca victory at the Camp Nou in the past few weeks. All these years of following this team, I also haven’t seen once the team playing that one brilliant match in contrast to their form. The form usually plays a huge part in our matches and especially big ones. And it can’t get bigger than this.

    As with fans blaming players it always happens when a season goes bad. You may not like that but that’s the fact. By the way these are the same fans who also crowded the Camp Nou in optimism when these players were signed. No one asked them to objectively assess the signing at that point. I still remember questioning the 38 million(including bonus) deal for Sanchez. It was justified here by many on the basis of skill set and things he will bring to the team. No doubt that Sanchez plays his heart out every time and that is clear in his work rate. But did the club paid 38 Million for that work rate alone? In every other department he has failed to justify that price tag. So it is natural that people will look at players price tag and point fingers.

    For me the entire blame lies with the management. I don’t blame their austerity drive but they have been negligent to the team’s needs. That has caused many people putting double their shift on the ground and is natural that they have broken down. They could have tightened the purse and still got the best for the team. At the price of Neymar they could have got two semi-decent defenders. They wouldn’t yet have gone beyond their target budget. But they didn’t. They went ahead with the marquee signing. Neymar signing was brilliant but was the most important need of the team?

    You need to always travel backwards to see where it all started to fall apart. Unless you do that you will never get anything out. At the start of the season when we failed to sign defenders people justified that here saying that we were being priced out and the primary targets of Barca were not available at the moment. They conveniently forgot what transpired earlier especially at the start of the transfer window. From the time we let Muniesa and Abidal go and to the end of transfer window we had if i am not wrong a full three months. We did nothing. Oh, yes we announced through press our intentions of signing Silva, Luiz and Marquinhos regularly. We never did a proper assessment whether we could actually sign them. The only one we could really sign was Marquinhos and could and should have done quietly. Instead it was a verbal attack on every club via media. It’s the same here also, if you look back all the time this club’s needs were neglected by this management and that alone is the reason.

    • Inamess says:

      I totally agree that management has been asleep at the wheel for a while now. I am, however, a fairly big Alexis supporter. I think he may have been our most improved player and he is still young. He also spent a lot of crucial matches this year on the bench and therefore we really don’t know if he could have made a difference in a lot of the games that we lost or drew.

      I have been arguing here that Alexis is much more valuable to the team than Pedro, but they are similar in that you either value what they do on the pitch or you don’t. Both would be entirely different players on another team.

      • Kxevin says:

        The optimism stems from a belief in the team, and the ability of great players to raise their game when it matters. You believe until there isn’t a reason to believe.

        As far as the defenders bit, Muniesa wasn’t good enough. Silva was never coming to Barça, and said as much. Abidal’s tailspin from mid-season on has maybe given a bit of heft to the decision not to renew him, but that was primarily a money question.

        When you look at how many fewer goals we have conceded, our defense is nowhere near as poor as people suggest. The offense, however, isn’t holding up its end of the bargain as effectively. Couple that with the absence of anything approaching an effective press, and it’s easy to see how when jailbreak attacks get at our defense, which is often covering spaces that in the past were covered by pressing mids or forwards, it’s easy to see what the complexity is.

        But placing the entire blame on the board is convenient. It’s an unpopular scapegoat, so it’s easy. As you all know, I am the LAST person to defend the board. Their neglect of this team has been shameful and wasteful. It has also potentially hampered the chance of this remarkable group of players to be even more record setting.

        But the players still play the matches.

        At some point, people will cease the “Neymar wasn’t a necessary signing.” I would have thought that the matches without him would have fixed that notion, but still it persists. Neymar was as necessary as a defender, because the left side of our attack needed a force, and the team needed someone other than Messi to be able to destabilize a defense.

        Almost any player that we sign will be a marquee signing, because of price and the quality necessary to even have a shot at cracking our starting XI. So yes, Neymar was a marquee signing. It comes with the territory. Barça would have been preternaturally stupid to take a pass on the most talented and exciting young attacker in world football. Thankfully, the club wasn’t.

        The real question is why didn’t they buy Neymar AND a defender? It wasn’t a question of either/or. Perhaps the answer lies in the pennies being marshaled for the stadium project, perhaps not. “Two semi-decent defenders.” Do you really want “semi-decent” to be the standard?

        People ignore the fact that had the club continued its form from March on, it would probably be getting ready to play a CL final, in addition to having the Liga done and dusted. As the Martino revolution receded, so did the results. Again, that isn’t something that is popular to admit. Why he backed off, we will never know. Did all of the attendant crap he was taking have something to do with it? Maybe. Probably. Dunno.

        The state the team is in relates to a number of factors. The state that the club is in (as differentiated from the team) can be laid at the feet of the board.

        • Now here is the problem 11 world class players never makes a great team. We have seen that with many teams. Just compare the sides we had in the past. We had Marquez, Milito etc in defense. Both would be for me semi-decent options. But both fit the system well(Milito remained fit only for one full season though). So semi-decent is a great thing provided they fit the system and their roles are clearly defined. Look Pedro is not again world class, but when he fit the system in his early season he was definitely the difference maker. Had we bought two guys who are semi-decent and fit the style we would have done better with the work load. And may be Pique didn’t had to break down at the very crucial juncture. Remember he was playing every match when he was fit.

          I never questioned Neymar signing. This management has portrayed themselves as the beacon carrier for austerity. So was it prudent from their part to do that signing? One thing was clear that we wouldn’t have spend more than 100 million in the market. Now 90 Million of that went to one player! So it was clear that we wouldn’t have got that player.

          Stats may not tell the whole story. In the beginning of the season, the stats remain what it is because of Valdes. He was making saves for fun. Even Pinto is making a huge number of saves. One could argue that is precisely they were hired for, but then I also could argue that the defense job is to prevent that from happening. Goals conceded may be one stats but I would like to see the number of shots against us stats. In our heydays we have always limited those. Whoscored.com says that we were conceding 9 shots per game. For a team whose average possession is 68%, that means the opposition is firing at us every 3.2 minutes when they have possession. That’s the stats. I don’t know about last season.

          Do you know any site which has those stats

          • Kxevin says:

            Stats never tell the whole story when people want to believe something else, right? Recall the stuff about how Martino was winning, but he wasn’t winning in the right way, so the won/loss column wasn’t reflective of reality, and people shouldn’t be fooled by it.

            – The keeper is part of the defense, defined as the group that keeps the team from conceding. Whether Valdes can sit back there and do knitting or has to make a save or two, for me he’s still part of the defense.

            – You say that you never questioned the Neymar signing, but I cite the following, from above: At the price of Neymar they could have got two semi-decent defenders. They wouldn’t yet have gone beyond their target budget. But they didn’t. They went ahead with the marquee signing. Neymar signing was brilliant but was the most important need of the team?

            That struck me as questioning the Neymar signing. If it wasn’t, please clarify what you meant.

            – In our heyday we limited shots on goal because our attackers were pressing effectively, so people rarely got past our midfield. Messi, Eto’i and Henry pressed, Xavi and Iniesta helped and Busquets mopped up. The rare ball that leaked through to the back line was easily dealt with.

            That changed when Messi, one of our best ball winners, stopped pressing, Pedro became less focused in his pressing and opponents started going over the top to get directly at our back line. The loss of Abidal also meant that human mistake eraser wasn’t in the house.

            So for me, laying the defensive “frailties” at the feet of a CB or two not purchased, even as I fully agree that we should have bought two CBs, doesn’t look at the entire picture.

  17. AussieRed says:

    Hey all, loooooooong time reader, I thought I’d pop by and say hey. Despite being a Liverpool supporter, I’ve always maintained that you lads and ladies at BFB run the most comprehensive, unbiased, sensible and creative blog on the internet and after seeing some of the comments sections of other sites, it really is refreshing to read the comments of some really informed and articulate fans from all over the world.

    One of the reasons for my post is that (DANGER: SILLY SEASON DISCUSSION) Liverpool have been heavily linked with a few of your players over the last week or so as we head into that time of year we all love. Whilst I understand that culers minds are somewhat preoccupied with the upcoming blockbuster vs Bashletico, I was wondering if I could get your opinions on some of those that have been mentioned, as I don’t get to see these lads play weekly (and I will never use youtube videos as a gauge of a players excellence).

    Javier Mascherano: Obviously we know him, we loved him, he had to leave for one reason or another. We view him as a replacement for our beloved Steven Gerrard, who only has 1 or 2 seasons left in him, and Lucas Leiva, who seems to be declining (not that he was ever that good). I could see Rodgers using him, however, as a CB alongside someone taller and stronger, like Agger or Skrtel.

    Christian Tello: This is one that most of us get excited about, reading stories of his brilliance, but very few of us have actually seen him play a game. Attack-wise, we currently have Suarez, Sturridge, Sterling and Coutinho, with Borini coming back from a successful loan spell, and Tello could provide some squad depth that we’ve been lacking.

    Martin Montoya: Even fewer of us know much about the fullback, but we are desperate to get someone in that offers more than Jen Glohnson (We signed him a couple of seasons ago, he replaced the very decent Glen Johnson, but I’m not sure where he ended up).

    Pedro Rodriguez: I don’t think this will happen, although I would love to have his versatility, if only he could match it with some consistency (from what Ive read). I saw him play in the world cup and was impressed, but I think dollars will hold us back from this one.

    I’d love to know your thoughts on these guys, this is a very exciting time to be a Liverpool fan, and this transfer window will hopefully propel us into a title winning season.

    I know cules are going through a tough season, something we redmen are very familiar with. Our thoughts were with you through king eric’s illness, Tito’s ordeals and tragic passing, the rubbish you have put up with from the board and still emerging as a real footballing icon, a team that will be remembered always.

    Apologies for the long post, just happy to be here :)

    Ben

    • ciaran says:

      Welcome Ben,
      To touch on the different players you mentioned;
      Masch looks to be going although rumors have suggested that Luis Enrique wants 5 defenders in which case he would be staying unless he says so. It looks likely that Italy will be his destination.
      Tello looks like he is on his way. He has great acceleration and with consistent football could turn out to be a very good footballer but hasn’t had that opportunity for us. For his development he should go to somewhere that he will get more first team chances but his price tag would make that unlikely. England looks like a likely destination.
      Montoya isn’t going anywhere. He signed a new contract recently and will certainly play more football next season.
      Pedro would be a great buy for you guys in my opinion whether it happens or not I don’t know

    • fotobirajesh says:

      I really dont think Barca will sell Masche.

      Tello – please buy him. With the space and speed of EPL, he might turn out to be a big success. His conversion might be quite poor, but if he sees lot of chances, he would get one or two in in a game.

      Pedro – I dont think Barca will sell him. But let me tell you this. EPL lovers always snob about the defence in EPL. But I think one can always find a lot of space between and behind your defence. Pedro will thrive in that. He is an incredible player.

      Montoya – I still dont know how good he is. When he looks good in attack he screws up in defence and vice versa.

    • barca96 says:

      2nd attempt on this after my Opera Mini Next crashed.

      Hi Ben, welcome.

      Commiserations to you. Really heartbreaking how you guys lost the league after placing so well. Could it be karma getting back at Liverpool after 2005?

      Mascherano – no way he can play CB in the EPL. Some teams in La Liga target him for aerial balls so can you imagine in the EPL where most of the teams play high balls.

      Tello – pretty one way traffic. People in England make fun of Walcott but Tello is even worse!

      Montoya – linked to Liverpool? Not that I’m aware off. I don’t think he can handle the physicality of EPL. Solid defender though. Certainly deserves 1 full season as a starter for me.

      Do you think Rodgers will be able to persuade Suarez to stay put?

      I doubt it but now that many of the big clubs have restrictions (City and PSG), his only suitable destination would be Madrid or Barcelona. I can only see Madrid going for him but they’ve just spent 100m on Bale so it’s hard to see it happening. Actually PSG can use their 60m on him, makes more sense for them rather than buying Alves.

  18. ian_percival says:

    You are welcome

  19. ian_percival says:

    I’m guessing,why don’t we buy fernando Torres,he’s the perfect fit for what we are looking for,he’s surplus to requirements at chelsea,tall and proven,look at how he scores in spain matches,we can get the best outta him.

    • KEVINO17 says:

      Totally agree. And with a “nice touch for a big man”

      • Ryan says:

        He does all right with Spain as a super-sub though. Somehow got the Golden Boot in the last Euros, even! If he’d be willing to take that role for Barca and his wage bill wasn’t crazy, it would be an interesting experiment.

    • Jafri says:

      There’s a reason he’s surplus to requirements at Chelsea. Probably because he’s about three years past his sell-by date.

    • Inamess says:

      It’s a tempting idea, but like Luiz it involves dealing with the devil. Mou knows that Torres could be just what Barca may be looking for: a different kind of striker for the team who probably wouldn’t mind if he didn’t always start at this point in his career. At a transfer market value of 19 million it might be a good move, but I fear that Mou would con the club into paying much more than that.

  20. PrinceYuvi says:

    Xavi : It wasn’t an easy year. We value Tata a lot more than people from outside. He has clear ideas and is close to players.

  21. Inamess says:

    In the interest of lively debate, I offer the following piece:
    Feedback welcome! Personal attacks OK too :-)
    Why Diego Simeone might be Barca’s Worst Nightmare and Perhaps its
    Savior

    As Real Madrid and FC Barcelona were engaged in an escalating arms race between the two Spanish super powers, neither knew that their own worst enemy was busy cooking up his plan at the Calderon. Simeone is the ultimate jujitsu artist, a Billy Bean master of Moneyball, and a Machiavellian leader that makes Mourinho look like an amateur. Also, unfortunately for Barca, now his team are in pole position to win the league unless we play our match of the season.

    This wasn’t supposed to happen: a third powerhouse improbably rising in the Spanish league ready to take on the giant teams in Europe and possibly change the rules about how to run a successful football club. What did Simone know that others didn’t?

    Why would Simeone be a master at jujitsu ? Doesn’t he seem more like a street fighter? Jujitsu is the art of manipulating the opponent’s force against himself rather than confronting it head on. The Athleti manager knows that the big team’s financial war chest can also become a potential enemy. If Real don’t win the league, well then they need to try again and splash the cash. Fans of big teams want results and if they don’t come then want to know immediately that the team is doing everything in its power to win next season. What better way to do this then landing that big signing, a future Fifa Ballon d’Or winner or runner up. But as the best teams in Europe have found out: landing that big signing does not always work out as in the case of Kaka, Coentrao, Villa or Ibrahimovic. The new guy may not fit into the team or cause such disruption that he eventually becomes more of a problem than a solution, more an albatross than an ally.

    Last year Simeone had to do the opposite. An immensely talented Ballon d’or contender leaves the team and they actually play better. How can this happen? Because of Atleti’s limited budget, they must sell their prize assets and then get the “right” replacements for less. Sure there is no publicity coup with their fans but fans like winning nonetheless. Furthermore, losing a player of Falcao’s quality sends a message that all merely mortal players need to hear. Superman or Messi, Neymar, Ronaldo or Bale isn’t around so if we are going to win then the only way we can do this is to believe in ourselves, play relentless, physical football as a disciplined team, and listen to this guy who is going to tell us how we can win against all odds because we have no other choice.

    Real and Barcelona, on the other hand, are multimillion dollar corporations and unfortunately have to be run as such. We must have preseason tours around the world to court current and future followers. We also have players who spend just as much time playing for their international teams, making appearances, and promoting products and events as they do practicing and playing for the teams that pay their salaries. These teams also have irrational fans who demand that what they are convinced is best for the team will be done by their boards: sometimes demanding too much change or not enough, signing this new player or not judiciously selling this other.

    Simeone also knows that fans around the world and particularly those in Spain are sick of teams who dominate the smaller sides by spending hundreds of millions of dollars to sign and pay their players from the revenue they generate from lucrative TV rights, sponsorships, and a worldwide following of millions of fans.

    The crafty Atleti manager also knows that fans in Spain and around the world are sick of money’s role in football in unleveling the playing field and has used this to his advantage. He has become a new man of the people, a figure not unlike his countryman Juan Peron: A Machiavellian pragmatist who has suddenly become a populist. He is now on Twitter. He is giving interviews in which he says that all of Spain has embraced Atleti as “the people’s team”.

    Diego’s team is indeed inspiring and it may be gaining countless new supporters, but is his recent press blitz not also in part a Mou like move to influence those few individuals who may ultimately decide the fate of his team in La Liga and the Champions League: the refs at Camp Nou next week and the ones in Lisbon the week after who know that 80% of fans around the world watching are passionately rooting for the underdogs to win and show that ordinary folks can sometimes triumph too. Would such a ref want to impose himself and neuter this Cinderella story by significantly penalizing an often fiercely aggressive Atleti team? What about ruling against them in a controversial penalty decision?

    So will David slay our Goliath at Camp Nou. Let’s hope not. But let’s also learn from Simeone that being a football giant or “more than a club” is not always in the best interests of a football team. But if both Real and Barca do lose these pivotal matches there may be the consolation of a new perennial third contender that will make La Liga more competitive and these two giants no longer monomaniacally preoccupied with one another. It also may help them the two Spanish giants get back to their original objective–playing football.

    • Kxevin says:

      Well, aside from the misunderstanding of “mes que un club,” the author raises some good points. But Simeone has performed an extraordinary task this season. There is, however, nothing to indicate that he will be able to repeat it next season. Look at what Bielsa did with Athletic, in getting a collective to play over its head for a season.

      Then came the subsequent implosion. The solution for that is an extremely high level of player quality, but that doesn’t always work. Look at us. Player quality is the only thing that saved us.

      It will be crucial for them to buy smart, and make sound decisions.

      But ultimately, don’t forget that the only thing preventing the Liga from being done and dusted is our spotty form from March until now. Had the team maintained form, it would have been the same, “Barça is killing the Liga” stuff.

  22. I really think this debate about whether or not it is ok to debate players, coaches, and the administrations respective performances needs to end. The reason I like this site (I have no presence on any other Barça related space) is because the debate here is almost always well thought out and eloquently expressed. People actually use grammar here! Perhaps, comments in this space are being misconstrued as part of the rest of the internet: the mob. Here, it’s more about the rhetoric or an argument, shit, Kxevin was talking about the difference between objectivity and subjectivity (which, I might add, is itself subjective). That does not happen on ESPN, the Guardian, blaugranes, et al.

    One trend I do not like, and it has popped up a few times in this debate, is commenting on how little time one has been a fan as if that gives the interlocutor carte blanche. It doesn’t. It took me years to become interested enough in reading about Barça to begin commenting on sites. That’s the real straw man, and reminds me of being 12 and having to prove that I really like such-and-such band by listing their entire oeuvre. In other words: immature and silly.

    Anyway, until the final, I don’t care about next year. I think we are going to win this 1-0. People (not here) keep mentioning how few goals we have scored versus Atletico, but they only have one more than us (let’s forget about the post for a second)! And, one of there 3 was am absolute masterpiece goal of Diego’s career.

    • I’d also like to add that this space is fucking great for people like me who love Barça but like in relative isolation from other fans. Keep up the good work!

      • Kxevin says:

        Why thank you. I’d say I agree, but I’m biased.

        It’s funny, there is a lot of debate about who is and isn’t a fan, and tenure. I disagree with all of that stuff. My sole point of issue is with the favorite-based ripping of players, as discussed above.

        New fans become old supporters become lifelong culers, I say.

    • Inamess says:

      I think the new vs old Barca fan debate is something that is now going on in a lot of places since the team is currently in its greatest period of transition since 2007.

      It kind of reminds me of the movie High Fidelity in which record store customers had to prove that they were part of a musically elite:

      “Who played drums on the now obscure 1974 Van Morrison album “Its Too late to Stop Now?”

      “Don’t know, then get out or sit politely while we hold court on the most underrated funk albums of 1971.”

      I agree that fans should be informed if they want their comments to be taken seriously but they don’t have to name the starting 11 on Cruyff’s 1992 Dream Team to make a contribution.

  23. Inamess says:

    For those who have been following Bojan’s career since he has been loaned out, I would really appreciate it if someone can tell me what exactly has happened to this player. I know he has been going around Italy and Holland and now his future is kind of in limbo.

    It might be helpful for those interested in the “value” of a player to know why a player who was once started over Ibra on one of the best teams ever can not now find quality minutes on a decent team.

    • Kxevin says:

      Krkic was never, ever as talented as anyone thought. He forced his way into promotion, and was never good enough. He didn’t sub for Ibrahimovic because of his quality. He subbed for Ibrahimovic because our Swedish purchase went rogue, and for crap. So Krkic was better than crap.

      Krkic is quick, and has an extraordinary first touch. He also has an excellent shot. But he can’t play against full-sized humanoids. That has been demonstrated in Barça, Roma and now Ajax.

      I can imagine that someone will take him next season, but it is doubtful we will be able to sell him for anything more than a pittance. As the Ajax coach said, he has talent, but needs to work a LOT harder.

    • blitzen says:

      All of the coaches that Bojan has had in recent years have agreed that he has a great deal of talent. But they have also agreed that he doesn’t work hard enough or train well, and that is the main reason he has not succeeded. Frank de Boer, Pep, Luis Milla, Luis Enrique, they have all said the same. De Boer gave an interview just last week where he was very frank* about why Ajax wouldn’t be keeping him.

      *pun intended

  24. Kxevin says:

    There was a complexity with the Messi contract situation. Messi’s lawyers received the document for signing, but it had a few different conditions in it than the ones agreed to.

    Depending upon who you ask, the board either tried to slip one over on Messi, figuring they could change some conditions and he would just sign it so they’re evil bastards …

    Or a clerical error happened and someone printed out the wrong draft, and sent it over.

    Either way, it’s another example of the pox that is running this club. That shouldn’t happen. Not with your franchise player, or ANY player, for that matter. Attention to detail is a calling card of a top-flight organization.

    This means that they will get the right contract over to him, and the signing will be delayed by a bit.

    • Levon says:

      This comment does not deserve to be overlooked. Two possible scenarios:

      1) The ineptness of our board knows no bounds.
      2) The Machiavellan evilness of our board has no shame

      • Jim says:

        Possible third? Nothing to be gained by him signing anything before Saturday. If we win it’ll be overshadowed if we don’t they can point to his resigning and get the focus onto next season ?

        Just while I’m typing I’d have to say I’m a little disappointed by the manner of VV’s departure. Did he really not mention Tata in his farewell open letter? Is he missing Puyol’s farewell and the Atletico game ? Why if he valued the support of the fans would he not give them a chance to show it ? Anyway, I’m in no doubt he has been one of the biggest elements in our success so I wish him well.

  25. norden says:

    If I was an unbiased observer (which I’m not), I’d say that this year’s La Liga was so entertaining and the three teams were so even, that they all deserved a trophy.

    And by some strange accident, it can happen. EE has one. If Barca wins the League and Cinderella wins the Champions League, it would be quite fair and still happy ending for Atletico. They could even make a musical movie about it with crying Ronaldo at the end – I’d love to see that!

    Anyway, fair doesn’t win you matches, neither do statistics, neither does history. Let’s see what Barca shows on the pitch in the last match. Scoring more goals than the opponent might do the trick, I think :)

    • Inamess says:

      Looks like Hunter is in the let’s blame the manager, a nice but inept man who was in over his head. Seems like a simplistic way of looking at our season.

      He may be right, but then again Hunter doesn’t have to worry about currying favor with a man he knows won’t be around next year.

      • Davour says:

        Well, he does mention the “idiocy of the board” as well… I agree that the comparison of managers might be unfair, considering the circumstances in terms of support (and it being Martino’s first season, etc.) – but I don’t think the critical analysis is off regarding Martino’s selection and coaching during matches is incorrect. Though, again we are faced with the discrepancies between the first (which Hunter, too, celebrates) and second half of the season, and this is where we might want to go back to the “planning” (board) part again. I feel Hunter is downplaying the circumstances.

        And he does forget to mention the excellence of Alexis under Martino’s tenure. However, this relation might also signify the second, less consistent part of the season: the choice not to play an in-form Alexis in crucial games. For me, then, the Alexis case captures the conflicting nature of Martino’s season rather well. What caused it is, of course, another matter (as has been thoroughly discussed).

      • KEVINO17 says:

        “inept man” – Sounds like Hunter to a tee. But, of course, Hunter has to curry favour with the current players, and blaming them is not the way to do that.

  26. Inamess says:

    In Defense of New Fans: Why Old fans Might not Want Spoiled New Ones to STFU

    I am not embarrassed to have “jumped on the bandwagon” after Pep’s amazing success during his first, treble winning year. It gave me the chance to enjoy a different sport and follow an amazing team.

    New fans should be viewed as one of a team’s and its supporter’s greatest assets because if your team is a “product”, the more fans that follow your team, the better shape that team will be in. FC Barcelona decided some time ago that it would not be solely a regional club like Athletic Bilbao, but instead court an enormous fan base of millions throughout the world.

    That is why this particular week is so crucial for future success of our team. Fans are somewhat irrationally up in arms and many of these folks are “spoiled new fans”. But, If the team lose on Saturday, many may jump ship and perhaps even start following another team like Atleti. More seasoned fans may say good riddance, but I am sure those at Camp Nou aren’t looking forward to that prospect.

    That is also why I am not that disturbed by the outrage that is happening on many Barca Fan Sites. Venting serves a purpose in that it allows fans to get out their emotions and “connect” with other fans who feel the same. They commiserate about the team “vastly underperforming” and that “things need to be done so this train wreck does not happen again next year”.

    Outraged fans are not a pretty sight, but the alternative is depression and indifference followed by “jumping ship” and following the next new team on the rise. If 20 million “uninformed new” Barca fans suddenly switched their allegiance to Atleti it would make La Liga more interesting and competitive but would hardly be in the interest of our team or its older fans. Nor would we be able to compete with some of the other giants in Europe that are funded by oligarch’s who like to try to win on a more challenging level of FIFA Manager.

    Who knows, maybe these “new” Barca fans may in some time become the ones chastising those who come aboard later as “spoiled” or “shameful”.

    • Levon says:

      I wasn’t going to jump I. To this particular debate but a “fan” who jumps ship when the team is losing is not a fan to begin with. I guess that with “old fans” you know they will stick with the team no matter. That’s not to say new fans aren’t welcome.

      Like Kevin said above, new fans become old fans become culers. A process which in my case started relatively late, around the age of ten…

  27. G6O says:

    Poor Benfica…

    • I am more excited that Sevilla won. Great year for La Liga! Total European domination!

      • Inamess says:

        It would be cool if they could combine the top 10 teams in La Liga with those in EPL. I wonder what the table would look like at the end of the year?

        If a few more good teams like Athleric Bilboa, Sevilla, Real Sociedad, and Valencia could just raise more money, La Liga would be even more awesome. I think that something like revenue sharing and luxury taxes like they do in baseball in the U.S. would help.

  28. Kxevin says:

    A piece from March of last year, after yet ANOTHER loss to RM. Funny how similar things sound, only swap “Martino” for “Roura.”

    http://www.barcelonafootballblog.com/18823/rm-2-bara-1-aka-players/

  29. Which section of Spanish media actually want to hurt Barca more – Catalan or Madrid? I mean Mundo is supposed to be a pro Barca papers and now reports that the board is considering Courtois as a GK. We have an agreement with Ter Stegen, so he is definitely going to be our keeper next season. Now they are bringing story abt another player! Can’t imagine the pressure on Ter Stegen?

  30. Ultraculé says:

    Will be good if Puyol can play, if only a minute and have at least one touch of the ball.

  31. Jafri says:

    They were showing a match from the ’02 World Cup – Spain vs Ireland – on TV yesterday. Puyol crossed in for Spain’s only goal of the match, and then was an absolute beast preventing corners, clearing the ball in extra time as Ireland looked to press their advantage with Spain a man short. He even got ahead to try and manufacture something at the other end of the pitch as the Spanish midfielders flagged.

    Absolute legend.

  32. Kxevin says:

    I put up a post just so that the farewell ceremony video would have a permanent place here. The Puyol farewell was today. Says a lot about the man that Cruijff was in the same room as the current board.

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