World Cup Match Comments Post

We’ll talk about the Cesc transfer a little later; for now, here’s a place to let your thoughts loose re Brazil – Croatia.

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.


  1. Rakitic has started well defensively and was involved in the opening goal.
    I don’t like Marcelo but it’s still not nice to concede an own goal at a world cup… Just ask Mark Fish

    1. Brazil’s defence a bit of a shambles at the goal. Not gonna win the trophy defending like that.

  2. Just about as accurate as you can be on your bad foot.
    Good finish from Neymar, my bet for top scorer

    1. Hmm, I’d want to see Messi’s team play their first game before thinking anyone would out score him. I do like Neymar through the middle though.

    2. True but it is also likely that Messi will be playing deeper in his Argentina team than Neymar in his Brazil.
      This whole Brazil team is set up to play for Neymar

    1. Neither Dani nor Marcelo are defenders and both are there to be exploited. I think Brazil will go far but I don’t see them winning the world cup

  3. A few thoughts so far.

    1) Brazil and Argentina look like the closest things to all out attacking sides. They may face a lot of buses and counters. It will be interesting to see how Luiz and Silva are used to prevent both in terms of putting out fires on counters and becoming scoring threats on set pieces and corners.

    2) Neymar looks great but every time he gets the ball it looks like he is one bad challenge away from picking up an injury that takes him out of the tournament. If Rakitic is involved, it will be a bad start for him in bonding with his new teammate.

  4. 20 mins gone in the second half and Brazil have been very poor since half time.
    A little bit of magic needed from Neymar looks to be Brazil’s gameplan

  5. The ref has been conned by a little Brazilian ingenuity. It didn’t look like a bad call at first. But good simulation.

    1. Prediction: Sales of Japanese cars next year will be down by 20 percent in Croatia but up by 20 percent in Brazil. That’s just a good business move.

      Recommendation: If your country depends on imports then sometimes having a ref in the WC can help if he makes the right call.

  6. Saw nothing wrong with Croatia’s disallowed goal. It’s crazy how much luck becomes a factor in these types of tournaments. I sincerely hope Messi gets some of it…

  7. I know its too early but i set out just to watch Rakitic play today,didn’t see much of him,atleast against a really worthy opposition like brazil,thought you guys said he runs pretty well.just hope we are not buying cesc 2.0

    1. He was staying behind because the strikers were not really putting a defensive effort. And of course, it makes quite a bit of sense to put the player with the most knowledge of Neymar in close proximity in order to intervene as often as possible.

    2. The problem for Croatia is that they don’t have a defensive midfielder so Modric & Rakitic both have to play further back then they should be. If they had a DM and could let Rakitic go forward they would be a better team.

  8. Scandalous decision for the penalty, and overall Brazil are confirming the fears that they will struggle to beat solid teams with ease. But they still won, and it was the first game, so that means nothing at this point about what happens later.

  9. Wow, there seems to be so much bad blood over the latest Cesc transfer.

    1) Arsenal fans were sad about him leaving and now hate him and Barca for selling him to Chelsea.

    2) The transfer is announced just before the World Cup, so now the Cesc hating begins early and Barca and Arsenal fans can only be bitter every time he touches the ball. As a Barca fan, how am I supposed to feel if he is the stand out player for Spain?

    3) Cesc praises Mou: “They match my footballing ambitions with their hunger and desire to win trophies. They have an amazing squad of players and an incredible manager. I am fully committed to this team and I can’t wait to start playing”.

    No, this was not an amicable divorce.

  10. Great stuff from Ney and Rakatic ( the glimpses of skill were there, he has a great work great, she wasn’t even planning his ideal position). The Cesc divorce… Messy, especially with that ( later revised ) article from the official club website detailing how his production always tended to taper off in the latter stages of the season.

    1. It was just embarrassing. A great club does not engage in petty twitter battles with a 27 year old preparing for a World Cup.
      Anyway, I like Rakatic so far.

      Also, funny nut cynical video on “Lucho the Musical”:

      Compared to some in Catalonia, I am way more optimistic about next season!

  11. Very disappointed by Brazil. What a horrible reffing too. Fred should have got an yellow, instead got a game changing penalty, and not enough, called a non existant foul on Caesar to disallow the Croatian goal.
    Like always, the host nation will always get favourable calls. And when that happens to a team like Brazil, it has massive effects.

    1. Modric is an excelent talent. An quite jealous of RM.

      Anyone who knows better about goal keeping, wasnt the Croatian goalie very poor. He was terribly positioned for the first, and his attempt for the third was very poor. Both were savable, I felt.

      Croatia has an excellent midfield. But their attack and keeper were quite poor.

  12. The first Neymar goal for me had an eerie similarity to his strike against Real in the CdR final, which unfortunately pinged off the goalpost and came back. Damn…

    Rakitic for me had a nice game, with the exception of the third Brazil goal when IIRC he was robbed of the ball by Ramires? Anyway, for a guy playing out of position he fared quite well, and I for one am glad that he can defend if needed, especially set pieces.

    Also, the man launches a wicked mean ball from corners or long-range free kicks. Barcelona need that.

    1. was that a foul on Rakitic my Ramires in the action that lead to the third goal? I couldn’t tell.

  13. A few thoughts:

    — Refereeing is humans ajudicating other humans. And humans make mistakes. People who bleat and whine about it should stop. “Home calls,” my heinie. Rakitic was wrong in saying that Neymar should have been sent off. Wasn’t a red, was definitely a yellow. For me, conspiracy talk is invariably misguided.

    — When an attacker is in the box, it’s simple: keep your hands away from him. When it’s a skilled attacker like Fred, you square that rule, then multiply it by ten. No, it wasn’t a penalty. But Fred sold the hell out of it, which is what attackers do.

    I watched a few replays of that incident, and it’s not a penalty. But in real time, it’s easy to see how the call could be made, because it looks like the defender held Fred back. Keep your hands down, and no problem. Fred falls down, looks a prat and gets a yellow for his bother.

    — Many shouts of Brazil being underwhelming. The World Cup doesn’t give style points. You win matches. They won against their most difficult opponent in the group stages.

    — Oscar and Neymar showed that youth shall lead them. Neymar’s strike for that first goal was audacious. He grabbed the match by the throat at a crucial time. For us, he isn’t even in position to make that strike. He is much more a leader for Brazil than he is allowed to be for us. I almost wish he weren’t so deferential.

    — Fabregas. 33+3 is damn good business. And on paper, the addition of Rakitic makes the club stronger. He’s taller, stronger and faster. Nothing wrong with any of those.

    The club’s initial English statement was as classless and crappy as can be. They later edited it to be more in keeping with the Catalan and Castilian versions.

    Fabregas is, like most top players, a ho. All his talk about a Barça “dream” is now transferred to Chelsea. And that’s fine. I just don’t think that people should have any illusions about the modern-day player. Barça have a cadre of home-raised lifers, and it’s a rare and wonderful thing.

    1. Agree with all you points except for the penalty/officiating. Again, I was an unbiased observer, and I felt that the entire game was heavily geared towards Brazil and that culminated in a ‘penalty,’ which I saw to be a hoax live, nevermind after various replays, and was further exacerbated by disallowing what I thought to be a clear goal. I get that it’s part of the game, but that official should not be allowed to ref games at this level again.

      All in all, it was nice to see Rakatic and Neymar have good games. Alves on the other hand….

    2. The problem with officiating is that it is ultimately subjective, even on the parts of observers. Others thought the disallowed goal was perfectly fine, and the penalty was indeed. Nobody is even sure that “error” occurred, except in the sense that a decision they thought should have been made, wasn’t.

      Unfortunately, there is no way to remove human error from the game. Mexico had a goal wrongly disallowed today that is that rarity, something that observers unanimously agreed on.

      Very complex. But I think the notion of “home” officiating in an international event isn’t valid. That requires too much consideration in the rapid-fire heat of a match. For example, when people say that RM gets “too many” penalties. Well, they have players who are in the box at pace, and force action. So yes, there will be plays more often that result in possible penalties.

      — Don’t get me started on Alves. I was seeing millions of dollars falling from his transfer fee.

    3. “Mexico had a goal wrongly disallowed today that is that rarity, something that observers unanimously agreed on.”
      Correction 2 🙂

    4. A player’s form while playing for his NT is almost never indicative of his real worth.

      Even Robinho turned a good shift for Brazil. Personally, I tend to ignore the World Cup altogether, as far as gauging for this or that player’s performances there. If I were to base my opinions on international tournaments alone, then Klose would probably be the second best player of all time, because he has always brought his A-game in the summer.

      We’ll see what Neymar does in his second year in Europe with a different coach telling him what to do.

  14. Good to see Iniesta continue his great form into the World Cup! Nice game so far, and what a header from Van Persie…though I guess now they’ve woken up the slumbering Furia.

    1. On the other hand…maybe they haven’t. At least they haven’t woken up Pique + Ramos + Casillas, not to mention the others…

  15. This match would have had a completely different complexion had Silva finished that ball from Iniesta.

    Goals change matches. Not possession.

    1. Nope. People can think that, but Holland’s pressing and pace, as well as counterattacking at pace, were decisive.

  16. 1-4…are you kidding me? This is about as shocking as the 4-0 of Real against Bayern this season. Is this really the team with the highest quality and depth of players of the whole tournament being this harmless in offense and leaky in defense? This could be an interesting tournament…

  17. I hope our management are taking notes as well as Spain’s. It’s almost the same bunch of players running into the usual problems. Spain, the so called best team ever look toothless, lacking ideas and give up too much space on counter attacks.
    It’s easier to disguise these problems if you have Leo Messi up front.

    Poor Valdes must be distraught that he isn’t there as he is definitely Spain’s best keeper at the minute

  18. Well that there was an ass-whipping. Now Spain are in the position of having to beat Chile, unless Australia pull off something crazy in the next match.

    Predictions by many that Spain might not make it out of the group could come to pass. Friggin’ Robben …

    There is a symmetry in Spain and Barça. They pretty much rose at the same time, and are having struggles at the same time, for the exact same reasons.

    1. Xavi is getting old, already obvious in Barca’s games this season. Without the precise game control, without razor-sharp attackers, without solid defenders and goalkeep, winning silvers is just a dream.

    2. Look at how the midfield was overrun, just like us. Also look at the vulnerability of the back line to isolation with an attacker via long passes, again just like us.

      Doesn’t matter how good the keeper is if the attacker is sitting on the doorstep after having just snookered the CBs, right? Holland essentially looked like Bayern. Same blueprint. Bypass the midfield when necessary, run the wings after catching the FBs up the pitch.

    3. My guess is lack of pace, lack of energy and lack of coordinated pressing.

      Barcelona’s best moments weren’t for me in the possession of the ball, but in the ferocious, unrelenting pressing in midfield, as well as the finely “polished” positioning without which the pressing would be less than successful.

      When you look at for example the 2-6, the Remuntada or La Manita, the positioning of the team was exquisite, and the pressing fast.

      The whole team imploded during the second part, but lest we forget, Barcelona’s/Spain’s defence in 2010 had three dedicated defenders in the important matches(Pique, Puyol and Abidal/Ramos), who covered lots of space and allowed Busquets and Xabi+Busquets to stay up front where they could close down the channels to that defence or deviate them towards Xavi and Iniesta who would be ready to press as if their life depended on it.

  19. Its so irritating when people label Spain’s variant of football as tiki-taka.

    1. If you do a drinking game, taking a shot every time the term is misused, you’d die of alcohol poisoning in no time flat.

    1. make that two. Alexis is not for sale, unless you prop upwards of 50 million and double his salary – in which case he’d probably say yes, and Barcelona would have to say yes.

    2. Its just not the goals/assists. The way he tracks back and runs tirelessly is really amazing. Its rare to see a forward put in so much work defensively. Reus his alleged rumored replacement( or any one for that matter) might not work hard.

      And with Msessi and Neymar as the other two forwards, we really need him to give some balance.

    3. It’s funny that people rumour Reus to be a replacement of Alexis but they are very different players. Reus plays more like Iniesta than anyone else in our team and occupies the place that Neymar has claimed as the left forward. In any starting line up with Reus added you’d still have to have Alexis on the right.
      Reus isn’t a striker, he is a phenomenally talented attacking midfielder who is as dangerous as anyone in the world running with the ball at his feet into space but he doesn’t play with his back to goal. With his injury and importance to Dortmund’s team the transfer won’t go through this summer but the guy is a great player.

      For me, he would be best suited to playing in our midfield if we had muscle in the other two spots. Iniesta is 30 and Reus is 25 so in another two seasons that’s the ideal trade for me if Rafinha etc don’t step up as expected. That would also be an election year and we potentially wouldn’t have signed anyone the previous summer so it’s very possible.
      He is a very exciting player that when he gets the ball invariably looks to make something happen. Iniesta plays too safe for my liking at the moment.

  20. There are so many issues with Barca/Spain at the minute.

    – Defensively we are now defending with 3 players, 1 DM and 2 CBs all who play centrally. They both leave way too much space in wide positions, today exploited by Daley Blind who was immense both defensively and offensively especially considering that he played the entire season as a DM.

    – In midfield their is ball movement but little player movement. The midfielders are too static. Xavi, Iniesta, Alonso, Busquets & Silva all want the ball played to their feet and rarely break beyond the striker. Keita used to do this very well for Barca.

    – For Barca, the central striker is given the ball and expected to do magic every time (and often obliges), for Spain, none of their strikers are world class any more. A lot of people think that Diego Costa is a great player but one good season doesn’t make a world class player. Torres of 4-6 years ago was a much better player. Spain will probably do best to put Villa out of the left and play Cesc as the central forward to get more off the ball movement.

    – Both teams’ press is almost non existent. Barca were like rabid dogs chasing teams before. When a striker lost the ball you could be sure that he would be joined by at least one midfielder in trying to win the ball back. Every remembers the times when we’d score a goal in a 20 metre counter attack, winning the ball and scoring in an instant. This doesn’t happen anymore.

    – On paper, Spain’s bench is really strong – Villa, Pedro, Cesc, Mata, Torres etc are all there. The problem is that Villa is past his best, Pedro is rarely a game changer, Cesc’s position is overloaded when he enters, Mata needs space and Torres needs a time machine. Likewise for Barca, we don’t have many game changers on our bench which is very different from most of the last decade. We won our first CL of this century with substitutions, Larsson and Belletti changed the game. We need to buy quality for our bench.

    – Hunger. Every player says the right things, we hear it from all the old guard that they are still motivated and play with the same hunger as they did a decade ago but it clearly isn’t the case. I believe that they still ‘want’ to win and they give 100%. If you were to look at the players that ‘wanted’ it the most for Barca this past season I’d say Masch, Bartra, Alba & Alexis all looked like they wanted it most. They are also the players that have won the least for us. Yes, Masch won the ’11 CL but doesn’t have the world cup, euros and a host of league medals like the rest of that team. I’d love if another 3-4 of our first team had that infectious hunger to win trophies next season.

    1. Thank you.
      I’m unsure as to the direction we will take this summer. There are a lot of unanswered questions that I have about the changes like whether Lucho just wants to bring back the old Barca or does he want to evolve.
      Not to blaspheme but the ‘old’ Barca didn’t face teams set up to stop them in the way they are now. That Barca were certainly a better team and much better or of possession than this one but is it even possible to get the same level as what many perceive to be the best team ever?
      It isn’t even necessary to be the best team ever and win some leagues and champions leagues.

      I want our substitutes to be game changers and match winners. I want hunger throughout our squad and I want less reliance on Messi producing 90 goals a season.

    2. Agreed, but I remember quite a few teams bunkering in and hoping for counters back then too. One of the most obvious differences in our play however, was the ferocious pressing. Hard to maintain, I realize, but devastating.

    3. Nice Analysis!

      First of all they need to decide what kind of defensive formation they want. If I was the coach I would bring in Juanffran as Right Back, that should release Xabi Alonso free. They need numbers to defend.

      Second Diego Costa is a great player, but the problem is that his playing style fits teams like Chelsea, Atletico etc. He is never a smooth player. He is a great weapon to bring in second half as a second striker, where he can add the ball retaining ability.

      Third without Pedro, Spain loses so much. His pace is essential especially on the left. If he combines with Alba then it would be good.

      What worries me most is Busquets form. he virtually was absent for most of the match. Xavi was put on immense pressure because of that. Also Iniesta was pretty poor throughout the match apart from one-two magical moments. He needs to raise the game.

      The match against Chile is “do or Die” now. Dutch was great because Spain tried to play a game which never suited them. I still don’t think they will have it easy against Australia and Chile.

  21. Del Bosque’s decision to bring Costa instead of Llorente might turn out to be a huge mistake. I understand why he made it at the time, but it was a dangerous gamble – and not just because of fitness. I do not understand why he would bring Torres instead of Negredo however.

    If La Roja’s performance does in fact tie into the situation at Barca, I think we might be in for a long season.

    On a positive note, Neymar, Gio, Alexis – making Culés proud.

  22. Just had a crazy idea: Spain could apply to host the 2022/2026 World Cup. No real need for infrastructure rebuilding, already available service sector. The only problems could be temperatures, but this could be avoided by playing after eight pm – prime time in Europe, 2 pm in the East coast, noon to 2 pm in South America, same timezone in Africa, 11 pm for the middle East.

    There will be three to four absolutely Titanic stadiums and quite a few more that would just need a facelift:

    Camp Nou 105 000
    Santiago Bernabeu 90 000
    Nou Mestalla: 75 000(if finished to original design)
    La Peineta: 67 000
    La Cartija: 57 700
    San Mames: 53 300
    Ramon Sanchez Pisjuan: 45 500
    Benito Villamarin: 52 500
    Cornelia-El Prat: 40 500
    Valladolid Arena: 42 000

    That’s just existing stadiums, and if there are say two more new ones ranged at up to 50 000, that’s 12 venues, situated all around the country.

    Even better, a combined Portugal-Spain bid would have ten 50 000+ venues and would need one stadium each per country to bring those to 12 venues, all of which could be more than 50 000. The financial investments would be modest, mostly in modernizing stadiums.

  23. Why doesn’t Barca get Tim Cahill as the second-string striker next year. True, he’s 33, and ain’t too mobile, but he’s still probably the best header of a ball in world football. Tracks the ball like NASA mission control, which means he’s always in the air before everyone else, which means he’s very hard to foul.

  24. adding to spain’s woes was lack of tactical with. They did not have true wingers so could not relieve pressure and stretch the dutch defence especially second half.

    First half was ok though and that David Silva for two nil was pivotal. It goes in and the games becomes different. Alas the Dutch go on the other end to score beautifully.

    1. Tactical width doesn’t suit Spain’s players at all. Pedro is the only winger they have with Navas injured.
      For us, tactical width was great when we had Henry and Messi as the wide players as opposition had to mark those players and Eto’o was capable scoring goals from crosses (not necessarily high balls).
      It also worked for a while with Pedro and Villa who were both very dangerous forwards who again had to be marked but neither are nearly as dangerous as they were.

      Tactical width has been negated by teams allowing us the freedom of the wings and loading the box as it has proven to be the best way to defend against us – we circulate the ball out wide, run into dead ends, go back into midfield and try again or we send in another meaningless cross. I don’t remember a match where the defense was actually stretched by our tactical positions in the past two years.

    2. Add to that the fact that Netherlands played with 5 defenders and were naturally defending wide I don’t see any benefit they would have gotten from it.
      Daley Blind was a beast last night, he owned the whole left wing and his long balls for the two goals were very impressive.

    3. Totally correct. Everybody says that Dani has a good game because sides let him gallop into acres of space and then pump another aimless ball into a clogged box where we have nobody good in the air (except Alexis, who should be the one rifling in the crosses instead of our right back)
      Maybe Spain’s problem (like Barca’s recently) is that it no longer throttles teams with its press because the team no longer has the legs to do that. Possession football and the press should be two sides of the same coin.
      Maybe Spain’s style means that they must play a false nine (Cesc) to ensure midfield domination and reinforce the press.
      Interestingly, against Australia, Alexis played the way he did when Messi was injured: dropping into midfield, taking the ball and driving at a terrified back four. Without him, Chile would have been nothing.

  25. Wow. That must have been a huge blow for Spain. Until the goal of Van Persie, Spain had really good chances to win it. The goals that fell just before and after the break defined the outcome of the game (and the play on the field). After the goal from Robben, Spain was always going to lose the match. That 1-goal advantage suited the tactics from the Dutch perfectly. “Oh, so you want to have the ball? Fine. We will kill you on the break!”. And that’s what they did. I have to say, not many times have I seen so much chances been converted into goals. It almost looked like they were going to take all of their chances, and they nearly did.

    To be honest, Holland did not convince me that much in the 1st half. Their new formation (What’s new nowadays?) nearly cost them the match. They tend to play a high defensive line, but they seem to have a lack of pace to do that successfully. Vlaar and De Vrij were outpaced on several times and surely will be in the upcoming matches and in the latter stages – if they pass the groepstage.

    The two things that surprised me the most were their defensive organisation and their build-up play from the back. Apparently, two of their three centerbacks (De Vrij & Martins Indi, correct me if I’m wrong) were supposed to track their opponents down. At some point, one of them even tracked down in the opponents half. This seemed really odd and it made a mess of their organisation at the back. A good example is the chance of Silva. De Vrij closes Iniesta down, a gap occurs beween the RWB and middle centreback, Silva gets a throughball and nearly scores. On this occasion, it was 2 v 5 and Hollands defence looked all over the place.

    Their build-up play struck me the most, I guess. In the first half, there seemed to be a lack of creativity in the first two phases of their play (3 centrebacks, 2 holding midfielders). There were a lot of direct long balls, whereas Holland always has been recognized for their delicate build-up play – I may be exaggerating here, if you have seen WC 2010. Furthermore, their keeper could care less about short balls and straightly directed them at their strikers. I’m not sure if this was part of their plan, to be honest. Besides that, they tend to be sloppy in passing. I’m curious how they will perform under huge amounts of pressure (Chile).

    Maybe I have focused to much on details, but I just wanted to post my observations. The second half did not really surprise me. When Robben scored, it was always going to end up in the hands of the Dutch. But man, that naivity or maybe arrogance of Spain to keep playing that way was perhaps the biggest surprise.

    1. I still think Spain will go through. But they have to go back to the false nine and use Cesc to shore up the midfield.
      Australia showed that Chile are very weak against the cross. But Spain are not a crossing team. Still, I think that Chile are not particularly good with Vidal unfit. Only Sanchez really stands out. Australia fielded an incredibly inexperienced team going into their game and conceded two before they got out of their funk. But once they did, without being a particularly technical side, they ran Chile ragged.

    2. You’re right. I hadn’t really thought about goal difference. I don’t see Australia conceding a lot of goals to Spain (they won’t be easybeats). Most of them had their world cup baptism in the first 15 minutes against Chile. They won’t get worse and could get better.

    3. FCB, I think you make a lot of good points, and I hate that so much is made about any one game. What I take from the game is that Spain are very good at low scoring games and I don’t remember them ever staging a significant comeback. The comebacks that characterized Barca for all these years have been predicated on the amazing talent of Messi but now hopefully Neymar as well.

      Neymar had an injury plagued season and may not have been at his best fitness but one thing that no one can dispute at this point is his ability to come up big in big matches. In this sense, he may be the anti-Cesc for all the Cesc critics and it’s another reason I am glad that Neymar is on our team now though he has certainly cost us a lot so far to get him.

  26. Spain’ll have to hope Chile beat Netherlands, and even then they’ll be struggling to come first on goal difference after that thrashing. And if they come second, that means a round of 16 meeting with Brazil. Which means that anyone who picked Spain to lift the World Cup is not winning Kari’s game in the previous post.

  27. Hi guys. What did Barcelona posted on Twitter after the Cesc transfer was announced? I was away for a while and I understood that the statement was since taken down.

    1. Something about him always being non-existent in the second half of the season..

    2. Thanks Morph. That’s pretty low from the board. I can’t remember any club ever taking shots at a departing player, at least a player “sold”.
      Did the club comment on why they made the comment? Perhaps it was hacked?

      Did Cesc fire a shot back though?

    3. AFAIK posts have gone missing as well as the editorial has been corrected… I only found out from a few news articles on Google about the original content…
      Just search for “Cesc didn’t score much for Barca” and you will find a few articles pop up…

  28. Total deal on B attacker Denis Suarez joining Sevilla on two-year loan as part of Rakitic’s transfer. Buy option 6M, buy-back 9M. [ser]

    I thought it was a loan deal for Suarez but from the statement above, it looks like if we want him back, we’ll have to BUY him back for 9m. That doesn’t really make sense or maybe I interpret it wrongly.

    And why is it a 2 year deal? That is pretty long to me. If I was Suarez, I wouldn’t agree to it.

    1. It means Sevilla has the option of buying him for 6m – and if they do, we can buy him back for 9m later. If they do not use this option, he will return ‘for free’ after the two years.

    2. From what I understand from the statement and some thoughts that I have are as follows:
      1. He is going for a 2 yr loan – Considering midfield at Barca is stacked I think the deal seems fine to me as it will give him more regular playing time than what Barca can offer.

      2. If Sevilla wants to buy him they will have to shell out 6M – That would be a neat piece of business for them if he really shines within these 2 years. But I think that it will be only considered if Barca are willing to sell/ if he wants to leave to Sevilla citing lack of first team opportunities.

      3. If we sell him to Sevilla and want to buy him back we will have to pay 9M – Again money wise good piece of business if he really does outdo himself and becomes the player that we are hoping him to be but we would be left wondering again why the hell did we let him go in the first place.

    3. Thanks guys. I’d still only loan him to Seville for 1 year and if he still needs more time, I’d send him to a CL playing team. There’s no guarantee that they will make the CL next season.

      6m is quite a small amount for the best player from our youth team don’t you think? In any case, to buy him back for 9m is quite a good deal in the event he explodes in the 3rd season.

    4. Oh and I hope there’s an option to bring him back next season. He deserves a shot, at least a pre-season with us. He was definitely the best if not a top 3 player for the B team last season based from what I read.

    1. Nice piece, very much echoing what I wrote about tiki-taka in one of my latest (increasingly scarce) arcitles…

      – Quite the second half by Holland. People are right ridiculing the Spanish performance but also keep in mind that three of the goals were absolutely stunning.

      – Robben…wow. I really don’t like the guy, but just remember that last year I kept arguing that Ribery was not a good balon d’or candidate because he was not even the best player on his team.

      – To think I (along with the rest of the country) would have been happy with a draw. I’m still not convinced we’ll make it out of the group, and to be honest we gotta win it in order to go far because I don’t see us beating Brazil.

      – We are two days into the tournament and have already seen two ridiculous penalty calls (Fred and Costa), three unfairly disallowed goals (Croatia 1, Mexico 2), an unpunished headbutt (Costa) and a debatable non call for Holland’s third goal.

      People have been clamoring for video technology for maybe two decades now. While I agree with Kxevin that human error is unavoidable, to keep relying on refs to perform an impossible job while the tools to help them are readily available is an affront to everybody involved in the sport.

    2. lol, yes, really helpful to see whether a penalty has crossed the line or not. My god, FIFA have become a charicature of themselves. They should return all the money they make from this tournament to the Brazilians who have been kicked out of their favelas to make way for the stadiums…

    3. Did you watch the match at home or at agar Lev? It wo
      Is it ok to celebrate openly for an opponent team of Spain in Catalonia?

      Btw the reason why I asked you about your favorite team in Rotterdam is because one of my best friends from primary school years is signed by Sparta. I went back last December and their new stadium is impressive and its training pitches for the youth teams too. A far cry from when I went there more than 15 years ago for trials. Scary area back then but looks fine to me now. I miss Rotterdam.

    4. I actually lived in that area for a while, I’d say right around the time you went there for your trial. I wouldn’t go as far as calling it scary, although it definitely had its share of robbers and drug dealers. Anyway, I heard Rotterdam West has improved as of late.

      As for the game, I watched it in a bar here in L’Hospitalet. One person started to complain when I cheered like crazy for RVP’s first goal to which I said “what, you got a problem?” and that cleared the air, lol.

    5. I can understand that often times a penalty is subjective but most of the usually diving is not. You can’t have the winner of a tournament that has cost billions of dollars determined by who gets away with the best dive.

      At the very least, Fred should have been given a red after the match and forced to miss some games.

    6. It wouldn’t be that big of a deal to review penalties. The game has stopped anyway. Otherwise, I am against anything that disrupts the flow of the game.

    7. Penalties is one. And you can replace fourth ref with a person behind a television screen who signals the referee whether it is offside or not. It’s so easy.

    8. I think offsides would cause too many problems. Diving for penalties will always be a part of football, the only thing you can do is to make “cheating” more punishable.

      It’s a simple matter of game theory. At present, the rewards for diving for penalties greatly outweigh the punishment–a rare yellow card. Players get yellow cards all the time for saying something nasty to the ref, which they did in this case for protesting Fred’s dive.

    9. I agree. Can you imagine how easily a flow of a game could be disrupted to check for offside calls? Added time would be atleast 25 minutes for any team who has David Villa, for instance.

      People liken football to tennis but it would be pure hell if a respective coach or captain could contest every decision they felt was wrong. Momentum would no longer exist.

    10. I view offsides like calling ball and strikes in baseball. They should be right about 90% of the time, and you have to live with the times that they are not.

    11. I really don’t see why it would interrupt the flow of the game. Give the ref a headset and the person watching the video image can give him the feedback almost instantly. Quick and painless.

  29. On the whole Tiki-taka debate, I think it comes down to semantics. That Pep says that the term was made up by the media is just making an obvious point.

    For me tiki-taka means the style of play that characterized Pep’s Barcelona from 2010-12 and Spain from 2008-12. It is about controlling the game by trying to maximize possession at all costs. What both of these teams had in common were some of the perfect players that fit the style (e.g. Xavi and Iniesta in their prime).

    But like any football ideology, a style only works if you have the players to do this and there is not a better style to suit the players. Another team that I can think of that was very well served by “tiki-taka” was the Japanese national woman’s team, especially in 2011 when they beat the U.S. on penalties.

    For the above reason’s FCB will either have to find its new Xavi (not going to happen) or integrate technically gifted La Masia products with the talents of our transfers, which so far we have not done a great job of, but there is always hope.

    For this reason, the Eto’o, Ibra, Villa, Cesc, and Sanchez problems were not only about the wrong transfer choices or bad chemistry between coach and player. They were also about the player wanting Pep’s ideology to accommodate their talents, which were not best served by the style that Pep preferred, whether you want to call that “tiki-taka” or something else.

  30. My thoughts from the Spain vs Holland match.

    I noticed that Xavi received a lot of flak but I thought that he was one of the players who actually played alright especially in the first half. Iniesta was the worse of the 2 definitely.

    Pique was the worst Barca player to me. He did ok in the first half but was dreaming in the 2nd half.

    Busquets was normal to me. Didn’t do anything wrong. Pedro was active when he came on. A supersub that he is.

    Xabi Alonso shouldn’t even start a match. He, Silva and Costa were off sync with the rest of the team. Ive always thought that Alonso and Silva were not in sync with their team mates.

    Casillas was below par again. Valdes is such an unlucky guy. But even without the injury, I doubt Valdes would’ve played any part even after the drubbing.

    What is up with Torres and VdB? He is so God-awful! He’s been horrible for club football for the past few seasons and yet he gets the nod.

    Costa loves to bully people around but last night he met his match in Martins. Dude was scared to even make eye contact with Martins but the ref had the nerve to spray paint his shoes 😆

    1. It’s going to be interesting to see what changes VCB makes for the match against Chile. Meybe he can figure out in 5 days what Barca spent the last year trying to do.

      Here is a good article on the challenge:

      Best part for me:

      “This time it was humiliated, and the loss may have dealt a psychological blow that coach Vicente del Bosque only has five days to address before a must-win match against Chile in Group B. Del Bosque also has plenty of other questions to address: Does he stick with the core group of players that have led the team to unparalleled success over the past six years? Or does he need to give the nation’s famed “tiki-taka” system a revamp?”

    2. Having only watched the game very late last night as we had a night out I knew the score before watching and sat down prepared to be stunned. However, it wasn’t quite as devastating as I expected. I thought Spain had a pretty good first half and actually had the balance between retaining possession and getting it forward just about right. They were obviously trying to learn about Diego Costa up front and the runs he likes to make.

      The equaliser was a thing of beauty, if completely avoidable had Ramos had his wits about him. I thought Ramos had a pretty poor game actually. I’d also give Pique some flack for not ensuring that the two didn’t allow such a distance between them at crucial times. They were often too far apart to offer any cover for each other. However, my main criticism would be aimed at both FBs, particularly Azpilicueta who were posted missing defensively for pretty much the whole game. You can’t have Blind able to wander about at will firing through balls or crosses without any pressure. If RVP’s goal wasn’t enough of a warning I don’t know what was. He never got near Blind all night.

      The second half you have to hand it to Holland. The equaliser gave them a huge boost whereas we came out expecting more of the same. After that they just produced some superb attacking football. I thought Xavi had a pretty decent game . He kept possession, tried to close down, played some great balls forward and quickly but couldn’t keep up with Robben driving from deep. Mind you I don’t think many of our side could.

  31. We should be really serious on that Colombian right back dude. A great performance.

    1. Is he a right-back? AFAIK he’s a right winger, Barcelona would be changing a right wingback for a right winger, meaning empty wide boulevards on the right side. Lest we forget, this is where Ronaldo operates. 😀

    2. I would assume that the plan would be to play Montoya against some opponents and Cuadrado against others.
      Montoya has done well against Real Madrid on the two occasions that he has actually played against them.

    3. He is a right back, but as Alves, prefers to go forward a lot :), which, can’t be bad, especially seeing him what he’s able to do.

    4. I only wathced highlights but those two assistes were sublime; especially the first.

  32. Boy Cote d’Ivoire have some pretty amazing talent all over the park. Japan were no slouches. But the Africans could have stuck in four or five, easily.

    1. Ivory Coast do look good. Also, Japan seemed like they were totally out of gas after a full on press in the first half. What’s going to happen to someone like Ozil in Brazil when he couldn’t even manage 70 minutes in La Liga?

      For the Brazilian heat, I think Italy may be promising for a European side in that they can sit back and lock their defense, while Pirlo slowly jogs up and down till they get their shot on a counter or some Mario magic.

    2. Actually they don’t – that team is one of the best examples of what has plagued African teams over the years, and it is in fact no surprise the accomplishments of that generation outside of Africa do not match its reputation (it is somewhat of a surprise they never won the CAN).

      They had a truly world-class player (Drogba) and a great midfielder (Yaya) but that’s it really – the rest were role players who played for top teams but were not themselves world beaters.

      And the team as a whole has always suffered from the typical African football disease of having no well-functioning midfield. You need more than physical strength to dominate in midfield against the top national teams, and no African team has had that. Nigeria in the 1990s actually had a much better team because they had that rare treasure for an African team – a true playmaker in Okocha, and they were never even close to going very far in the WC.

      I have always seen African football as having the same fundamental problem as England (and also the US) have – kids have too much space to play in when they’re young. Possession football is taking something of a beating these days, but it is not by agricultural route-one approaches to the game, it is by high-quality opposition that uses a combination of physical strength and skill on the ball to exploit some of its tactical weaknesses, and the importance of having a good touch, accurate passing, vision for the game, and that extra bit of genius is unlikely to diminish in the future. And you develop those by playing five-a-side as a kid, preferably on a hard surface indoors, which is how players are developed in Brazil, Spain, etc. As has been extensively discussed, in England and in the US, they send 10-year old kids to play 11-a-side on a full-size field where they rarely touch the ball and never get in situations that require them to develop close control of the ball simply because there is so much space (especially when the players themselves are so small) and the game is mostly about chasing the ball. The end result is physically strong, tactically literate, but fundamentally limited players.

      African players seem to develop mostly in similar conditions – futsal requires infrastructure that is often lacking so kids mostly play on makeshift pitches but with plenty of space. And that’s bad because it tends to select for physical strength and the ability to run with the ball but does not develop close control of it or passing vision.

      And you see the result in most African players that make it to the top – rare are those that can be said to be genuinely technically good, and the game-controlling, master-of-the-defense-splitting-pass playmaker is an almost nonexistent species among them. Given that it’s no surprise they fail to advance far, and this will continue to be the case unless the conditions of player development change.

    3. This is a very interesting point because it seems that all non-South American or European teams just don’t have the player development and institutions to train technically gifted players.

      Germany spent 10 years and millions of dollars to organize their youth systems just to get back to the point in which they could compete as a World Cup favorite. It also takes years for La Masia to develop a world class midfielder and that is why the Thiago ordeal was so vexing.

      It would be as if Kroos and Ozil decided that he would now play for England. Germany spends millions to train and develop them and then all the work in player development is given to a rival when their most successful products defect.

    4. Maybe, the problem for African teams is the one-sided demand of European clubs when it comes to African players.

      As mentioned in an article from Jonathan Wilson:

      Manchester United’s scout in Africa, Tom Vernon, who runs an academy in the hills above Accra, suggests that the fault lies partly with European clubs, who tend to have what he terms “the Papa Bouba Diop template” in mind. The African players who have succeeded in Europe in the past have usually been big and robust, and so clubs look only for something similar. Players called up by European clubs at a young age develop faster and have a higher profile, and so it is they who make it into the national team.

  33. They should give each side two video challenges for when penalties are called, or not called. Once you’ve exhausted those, you’re in the ref’s hands.

    1. The only problem is that there is often no clear consensus of what a penalty is. Also, refs might call fewer penalties if they knew that their decision would be under so much immediate scrutiny for a split second judgment call.

      Maybe penalizing a player with a red card after the game for clear diving in the box would be a compromise, but then again can you imagine Portugal’s reaction if Ronaldo, Neymar, or Di Maria missed a World Cup match for diving?

      We could have a World War rather than a World Cup.

    2. *Note 1: I was going to use Messi for Argentina, but everyone knows that Messi doesn’t dive.

      **Note 2: Maybe the Messi doesn’t dive rule doesn’t apply this summer if he wants to get his country and El Diego off his back for good.

      Diego did the “Hand of God”, but Messi did the “Slip of the Saints”.

    3. I understand the call for it by many people but I don’t agree.
      The problem is that in most situations there are fouls but people don’t agree with the severity.
      Take a situation like Fred’s penalty for Brazil, technically he was fouled. It shouldn’t have been a penalty in my opinion but it was a foul, Lovren pulled back his arm. Whether he decided to fall to the ground or not doesn’t really matter… the rules state that you cannot hold an opponent. Lovren held Fred so a penalty is the correct call. It isn’t the right call but it is legal.
      There are a million times every season that defenders pull at strikers arms in the box and a penalty is very rarely given. If you could challenge these calls, at every corner kick or freekick you would get a penalty and very soon it would be a non-contact sport.

    4. Everything in life is a question of judgment and degree. Ýou can look at the rule book all you like. At the end of the day, three experienced refs in a booth looking at a replay should know if it was a sufficient tug to warrant a penalty. In this case, I’m pretty sure Fred would have got a yellow.
      I don’t think the big problem will be fouls on the man with the ball, but fouls at set pieces. That will take some sorting out. Basically, at the top level, a penalty (a realy penalty) is given every time there is a set-piece. The wrestling is incredible.
      Maybe teams will have to go to zonal marking at set-pieces?
      Another possible rule change to clean up the game is to put players in a sin-bin for 10 minutes whenever they get a yellow card. That might stop a lot of rubbish tackles.
      But my favourite is making the wall stand back at least 12 – 15 metres, or abolish it altogether. That will stop a lot of crap tackles around the box and make it a lot harder to park the bus.

    5. Agreed, especially the first sentence. And I would not limit the challenges to just penalties. I would go further than that and give teams a number of challenges to all of the ref’s decisions, preferable so that there’s minimum disruption to the match and with a limit on how many can be used in the last 10 or so minutes. I want a football match to be won fairly, not because some ref couldn’t spot a dive during a game, or a Hand of God or a violent tackle.

      And we all know how refs can be biased in favor of the host. See Korea 2002.

    6. Excellent point, ciaran. It returns to the “diving vs embellishment” debate as well. There have been three penalties called, and ALL of them were cases of a skilled player embellishing a bit of illegal play.

      — Lovren pulled back Fred’s arm, just enough to give the striker something to react to. As I said earlier, a good defender has to know to never put hands anywhere near an attacker in the box, particularly a skilled one such as Fred. They will try it every time.

      — Costa was losing the ball and his footing, and actually initiated contact with the sliding Dutch defender, in fact actually stepping on him, then going down like he was shot. Again, the defender slid in and didn’t get ball, but he didn’t get Costa, either.

      — In Costa Rica/Uruguay, the question was more one of fairness. The Uruguay player was definitely fouled on that set piece, but then the exact same thing was done to a Costa Rica player, and was NOT called at the other end.

      Penalties tend to reflect the view of a team often. So the Fred “dive” is the one that people talk the most about, because it’s Brazil and they’re a bunch of divers anyhow, and it’s the home team so there is THAT conspiracy, etc, etc.

      Nobody said a word about Costa Rica getting jobbed, and I had people screaming at me on Twitter when I said that Costa’s penalty shout was even more dubious than Fred’s. The response was “a defender shouldn’t slide in like that,” etc, etc.

      But that isn’t the point. The point is a contravention of the rules, and whether it occurred. In the penalties called, the only one in which a contravention of the rules did NOT occur was the Costa penalty, yet that is the one that people think is justified.

      Does a lot of that reflect the Spain fondness that many have? I would suggest yes, but I am an acknowledged cynical old bastard.

      — I go back and forth on this, but ultimately feel that video review has no place in the game. Goal line technology is useful, but beyond that it just gets messy, and isn’t even definitive. The way the NFL implements it, a bad call might not be bad enough to be overturned, etc, etc.

      Human error is part of the game. We have to deal with it. The refs get far, far more right than they do wrong. But as with keepers, 99 shots are stopped, but people focus on the one shot that he didn’t stop. Humans focus on failure rather more than success. That is also the nature of being human.

    7. Video technology is essential. Game upon game upon game gets decided by a wrong call of the ref.

      You’re doing refs a favor with your comparison to keepers. Just compare the amount of blunders by the refs to the amount of blunders by keepers in this tournament so far.

      The Japanese guy is widely suspected of being bought. I’m not saying he is, but I wouldn’t be surprised anymore. The penalty called against Holland was equally stunning seeing as how Costa stepped on the defender’s contracted leg.

      It’s not even funny anymore. The worst thing about it is that the technology is very easy to implement. Offsides are so clear that they wouldn’t interrupt the gameflow at all. Penalty calls would, but no more than the interruption of eleven players protesting the call before the kick finally gets taken.

    8. The problem with video technology in games is that almost every call in football is somewhat subjective except for offsides and goals. It aggravates me but I don’t know if there is a solution.

      Every ref calls games differently, and that is why the ref in football has more power than officials in any other sport. We know this as Barca fans in that if the ref is not going to give the other team yellow cards or call penalties that easily then we are just at a huge disadvantage.

      To ask a ref to reverse his own subjective opinion after video review is a tall order. Most of the time what will happen is that the ref will make the call and then be in a position to either admit that he had been conned or fail to see any conclusive proof that he was wrong. Most of the time the ruling will be the latter.

      The only thing I see coming out of it is a lot of time wasting and refs failing to call most penalties because they don’t want to go through the whole ordeal of scrutinizing their split second decisions in front of millions of viewers.

      Just to give some examples:

      Pepe’s red card in SF 2011
      Ramos’ red card in last classico.
      Many of Masch’s borderline penalties
      Adriano’s penalty claim in 2013 in away classico.
      Nesta’s Penalty on Busquets against Milan in 2011
      Nani’s red against Real
      Even Pepe at Elche

      Which of these controversial decisions would the ref who made the call change the call after immediate video review? My opinion is almost none of them and I am not sure about even the last one.

      Which of these would 75% of neutral refs agree on after the game? None except the last and Pepe should have been given a red after the game and a 1 game suspension. The official should have also been penalized, which I think in this case he was.

  34. Another important thing to consider is, if video technology is implemented, then that alone is enough to stop many players from diving/play acting since they know at the back of their minds that there is a chance that it can be analyzed by video at that given moment and they might be penalized for it. So it kind of stops them from falling to the ground in the penalty box even if a fly sat in them. Wouldn’t that itself go a long way in helping the ref’s?

    Right now they know there is no harm falling to the ground. In the best case, they get a penalty. Worst case, they might get a yellow(very rare)..So their mindset is “Hey, Why not dive and see if we can get a pen?” That sort of a mindset, I am afraid shouldn’t be allowed to happen in sport..

    1. Also, the point that it will cause a lot of delay isn’ true. As Levon said, already players waste a lit of time arguing about it with the ref. Also considerable time can also be saved when players stop falling to the ground at the slightest of touches and rolling till they referee awards them the penalty. This happens a lot over the course of a match, which in theory can be eliminated.

  35. Rumours going around about Higuain reaching personal terms with Barca. Could be good possibly.

    1. Also, my only worry would be that he doesn’t turn into Zlatan 2.0. I quite like the idea of a tall strong CF in front of Messi, especially if he will be playing the n.10 role more and more.

Comments are closed.