The Argentina Primer: You’re a Hot Mess…

…but I’m still into you.

 

Another confession: I don’t think Argentina will win the World Cup. Do I want them to? Of course, so please do not smite me where I stand, Albiceleste fans, but I don’t think they’ll win it; the reason being it’s unlikely you can win a World Cup with three players.

Okay, that’s harsh.

Three players and Lady Luck

This is particularly unfortunate given the relatively comfortable way Argentina qualified for the World Cup in arguably the most competitive confederation in international football. They’ve degenerated since then, with a string of shaky performances in this World Cup so far, becoming a sort-of Anti-Mexico. [Mexico qualified by the skin of their neighbour’s teeth and went on to have a great run. But you all know that already]. If Diego Maradona’s time as Argentina’s coach could be described as a bad acid trip (and it has hilariously by BFB’s Linda in an awesome post here), then Sabella’s tenure during this World Cup must be what a confused gentleman in the middle of a mosh pit must feel like.

A proper manager is in charge this time, the team should be and have been better, but alas they have been lacking on the world stage. They are comparable to both Brazil with a dearth of creative midfielders but without the defensive base of Thiago Silva and David Luiz (they have Gago, though) and Barcelona with their issues with transition defense. But let’s explore this via the CBC stream. First stop is the Iran match.

After the 5-3-2 debacle against Bosnia and Herzegovina, which in fairness wasn’t totally unwarranted considered their defense and Bosnia’s Dzeko and Pjanic, Sabella switched back the 4-3-3 that was used to great effect in qualifying. Feranando Gago, in the squad by virtue of being the only creative midfielder that can find Messi with regularity and hence irreplaceable, was back in his place in a 3-man midfield with Angel Di Maria and Mascherano with the forward line of Aguero, Higuain, Messi ahead of them.

At least, that was what it was in theory. In reality it looked like this:

1

Messi didn’t play in the hole, rather he was stationed on the right. Aguero and Higuain shared the same area of the pitch, and Di Maria often pulled wide left for width (and I don’t blame him as he is primarily a winger anyway). Gago stayed close to Messi on the right, and Mascherano was left alone in front of the defense.

Iran were well drilled and their discipline in defense was very impressive. They flooded the midfield, forcing Argentina to the wings where they struggled to build plays. For example, you can clearly see Iran’s packing the midfield here:

Sea of Red
Sea of Red

I’ll hightlight a couple of things about this picture below (apologies for the quality!):

2

You can see Messi (yellow circle) has dropped deep to see the ball, Gago (red circle) near him. With the two lines of red between them and Higuain/Aguero (underlined), you can just see it’ll be a long night.

Often when Mascherano got the ball, he’d have the scene below to deal with:

Screenshot 2014-06-28 23.39.57

Once again, I’ll highlight some things below:

3

He’s got three options here: there’s a lane to Gago, Messi or Di Maria, but they’re marked. The picture’s too small but the Iran player in front of Masche is organizing the defense and telling his teammates to stay compact and close off the lanes. Masche can also pass to Rojo, or he can pass back. He chooses Rojo and the ball doesn’t cross the halfway line for a while, pinging around the Argentine defense. That eats more time on the clock; no gaps open up because the Argentina players not named Messi or Di Maria are static in their position.

A right wing Messi (underlined in yellow) picking up the ball this far from goal is sadly a familiar sight with Argentina.

4

There are a couple of ways to advance forward: through a pass or through a dribble. The former needs solid positional play so there are players open to pass to; the latter is pretty self-explanatory, you need someone with the ability to beat the defenders.

With the majority of the Argentina players stationed along the wings, the only way to breach  the Iran defense was either through quick pass interplay between the Messi-Gago-Zabaleta triumvirate on the right or Di Maria-Kun-Rojo triumvirate on the left, or Messi/Di Maria would beat a couple Iran players with a dribble. With Di Maria so off form and having a huge workload on top of his offensive duties, the dribbling part was left to a Messi marked by at least three players.

This game seemed destined to end 0-0 and that would have been the fair result, but then the main part of Argentina’s game plan came out – individual brilliance from Messi – and they won 1-0.

(Moments of magic from Messi have been the way they’ve won nearly every match they played so far in the tournament.)

Here come the Super Eagles

In one of the more entertaining games of an entertaining competition, Vincent Enyeama and Nigeria rolled into town, hoping for a repeat of the last time these two team met. Or maybe just to troll Di Maria and win all our hearts, which they will succeed in.

In this game, Messi (circled in yellow) was central pretty much from the get-go:

5

Which makes me wonder if Sabella moved to right wing against Iran deliberately. In any case it was a far more open game. Nigeria were looser in the midfield than Iran, and Di Maria recovered some form as he put Enyeama to the test with some long range shots.

The big come away from this game that I got other than Enyeama is freaking delight is that Zabaleta got absolutely roasted by Musa time and time again. It got kind of embarrassing after a while. Musa’s job was to attack the channel between Zabaleta and Fernandez, and he did so to great effect for Nigeria. When Zabaleta either drifted too close to his CB or was caught out of position, Nigeria took advantage, as seen in Musa’s first goal.

 

Zabaleta caught, Musa cuts inside and scores
Zabaleta caught, Musa cuts inside and scores

how many goals could an argie score if an argie was out of form

Speaking of form, the lack of it may be the damaging aspect for Argentina. A lot of talk is rightly about Argentina’s forwards but outside Messi, they have started quite poorly. Di Maria’s loss of form may just been the universe continuing to right itself after La Decima, as he has been improving, and he has an excuse as a player with the most demanding role (outside maybe Mascherano) in Argentina’s formation, but Higuain and Aguero (injury) have also been lacking. This is killer because for Argentina’s “system” to work, they need  their forwards in top form and scoring, especially since they don’t track back to help out the defense.

Though it’s known that Argentina’s defense is average it bears repeating that they’re really not that good. Zabaleta often has the most time and space on the ball, but his delivery and overall contribution has been very lacking. Rojo is similar story on the opposite flank (but considering he plays his trade as a LCB at Sporting Lisbon it’s more understandable). They leave a lot space behind when they move forward, which leaves Mascherano more space to defend, as Gago is quite slow and isn’t able to track back effectively.

Lucas Biglia or Enzo Perez?

Argentina need to maximize their strengths and if possible minimize their weaknesses. That’s true for all teams but Argentina are doing neither at the moment. Their defense, no matter how many numbers are in it, is still shaky.  If Argentina’s real strength is their attack, they have to give their forwards more support. Gago is overloaded in that department.  True, Argentina have stopped producing creative midfielders and I doubt Sabella will make changes against Switzerland but if he were to make some and for some freakish reason he’d take my suggestions…

Well. I’d probably add another midfielder. What can I say? Barca DNA.

I confess not to have watched many Serie A games this season, so how Lucas Biglia performed for Lazio is a question mark. But I did see Benfica in Europa League and the 2013/14 season in general has been a historic one for them. Enzo Perez was considered by Benfica’s coach Jorge Jesus as the brain of the team and the most difficult player to replace. He’s not bad defensively and slotting him beside Gago in the midfield would help with building attacks, and take a load off Di Maria.

Sounds great but there are of course trade offs. This sounds nuts, but it’s not like they haven’t used this formation in qualifiers. A 3-5-2:

Lavezzi – Higuain

Di-Maria – Enzo Perez – Messi – Gago

Mascherano

Rojo – Garay  –  Fernandez

Rojo is Sabella’s guy, so he wouldn’t take him out for anything. On the plus side he is a LCB for his club Sporting Lisbon, so to play him on the far left of a back 3 wouldn’t be that big of a shock.

Just something I’d like to see but we probably won’t. Too late to experiment and Sabella will go with the tried and true method of hoping Messi creates something from nothing. He’s already done it twice (at least).

those yellow boots

One real convenience that comes with footballers and their multicoloured cleats is that it makes them pretty easy to identify on grainy streams if you know what colour cleats they wear. During the two matches, I kept noticing that whenever Iran or Nigeria won the ball and started their counter, an Argentina player with neon yellow cleats would always be on them in an instant. Not only that, said player would usually be the one to actually win the ball from the Iranian or Nigerian player, despite other Argentinean defenders swarming around.

I dubbed the Argentina player with neon yellow cleats as the ‘Get stuff done’ guy since, uh, he seemed to be the one that really got stuff done. Alternatively, he was like the garbage man, running from touchline to touchline picking up loose balls or winning em. It’s a dirty, tiring, thankless job but someone’s gotta do it. Well, there are 4 other people that got to do it, too, but only one that can consistently win the ball.

In breaking news surprising absolutely no one, that player is Javier Mascherano. But outside the role of resident garbage man, Masche could also be called The Organizer. He’s very, very vocal on the pitch and is always instructing teammates on this or telling them to watch out for that, pointing them here or there. El Jefecito, The Little Boss, indeed.  (I’d actually upgrade him to El Jefe, period)

I knew intellectually that he does that on the pitch, but it’s one thing to read about it and another to see it. The speed in going from touchline to touchline to get the ball is incredible. One second he’d be in the opponent’s half, the next he’s collecting the ball near Argentina’s corner flag.

Mascherano is currently doing the job we’re used to see Busquets do for Barcelona and given how well that went for us this season… I’m not sure Mascherano will be able to take on two or three players every game. Maybe he can with Switzerland but if, knock on a lot of wood, Argentina face Netherlands in the semifinals…

But of course, first come the Swiss.

Switzerland in the middle

I think they won’t be as disciplined as Iran but they won’t be as loose as Nigeria, either.  There have been reports that Argentina are practicing set pieces and penalties in training (as opposed to taking a rest day or doing practice matches). Not to put too much weight in such things, but it doesn’t surprise me. Those appear to be Argentina’s best chances to score outside a Messi golazo off a Di Maria dribble from a ball-winning Mascherano’s cross-field pass.

Switzerland seem to have trouble scoring themselves but with really only Mascherano to beat during their transition from defense to offense, it’d fancy a couple of good scoring opportunities. Whether they get the goal depends on which Romero shows up – the one from the Iran game or the one that’s backup keeper at Monaco.

This is how they’ll probably line up (in red):

Screenshot 2014-06-29 23.22.40

Against France, though, they were done in by pushing their full-backs too high and being caught on the counter. Many of France’s goals came from wide areas, which will be to Argentina’s advantage if Lavezzi, likely to start, can improve his passes in the final third.

Even if this is the World Cup as imagined by internet trolls, I don’t think it’ll be a free scoring affair.

 

[H/T to @Emenderk for the Messi picture]

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.

288 comments

  1. They are comparable to both Brazil with a dearth of creative midfielders but without the defensive base of Thiago Silva and David Luiz (they have Gago, though) and Barcelona with their issues with transition defense — This is absolutely true Kari. So are your observations about Masche. That man is doing the job of 2 players right now, exactly what he had to under the stupid times of Maradona. So clearly dont understand why Sabella cant sort it out. What is terrible is this team played more compact in their qualifications.
    Except Masche, Messi and to some extent most others looks far away from their best. The only consolation is Rojo has improved a lot from the qualification campaign. But at the end, all the blame will be on the no.10.

    1. Yeah. Masche has been beasting. He’s like a lone man stranded on an island that has to weather storm after storm. Sad. The three players are Messi, Di Maria anf Masche btw.

      Dunno what Sabella will do to fix this, if he can fix it, but it’s pretty depressing to warch. They may still win the World Cup but it just feels like they’re struggling to function properly.

  2. This early obituary of white and sky blue is true but sad stuff.
    But thanks for the heads up, kari.

    1. They could still win but they’ll need to improve. Then again considering how unpredictable this WC is…

      This is Messi’s best chance to win it but the inability of Arg’s managers to build a proper team around him is just so frustrating.

    2. But is it really the manager’s fault that they have basically stopped producing world-class defenders and midfielders?

      Yes, 2010 was the manager’s fault, but both the defense and midfield were actually a little bit better, at least on paper, yet deemed areas of deficiency even then. Now it’s even worse.

      It’s worth remembering that even Brazil with its huge population has had stretches of a few barren years in which the quality of their top players is lower than usual (the 70s, the late 80s, now), and Argentina had more than 15 years of talent-packed teams, which, however, repeatedly underachieved at the WC (and not only), and now the down time has come.

      It sucks for Messi, but Maradona did not have a great team around him in 1990 either (although one in which the defense was definitely much much better than it is now) and they almost won it.

    3. Oh, I didn’t clarify but no, it’s not the manager’s fault Argentina as a nation haven’t been producing midfielders. It comes in cycles, sometimes there are abundance of forward, sometimes defenders, sometimes a three in Spain’s case.

      But I just have to wonder why they haven’t used the tools they do have to a greater effect. Sabella is savvy, a welcome change to Batista and Maradona, and his effect on Argentina have been positive overall. But now that we’re in the world cup he’s fallen back to strange habits, letting go of what made Argentina so good in qualifiers – like how he started Maxi in the first game and a back 5, though not uncommon but mostly used at high altitude or away games, was really strange for the first game.

      None of his actions are inexplicable – I can see why he made them. But it’s like he’s suddenly realized his defense is awful and has put all this focus there. Again, there’s a justification but it’s really come to the detriment to the offense. I feel like some of his attention should be to augument the attack rather than bolster a far gone defense, y’know?

    4. Maradona had a great support cast behind him for 86. It is a big lack of respect to the others, some British journalist mentioned – singlehandedly – and every one has been using it since then. He had Baruchaaga, Valdano, Batista and an excelent goalie too. They let in only 4 goals in total in 86, of which 2 were against Germany in the finals. That stat alone says how good a defence Maradona had, behind him.
      Compare that to the present.

    5. I said 1990, not 1986

      And there were some great players on that 1990 team too, it’s just they did not really show it

  3. It eez true zat Argentina has a pretty poor team and an ad hoc sort of a system that relies more on the individual brilliance of select players to save their asses and therein lies the eerie similarity to the way FcBarcelona regressed in the last couple of years.
    Which also supports the suspicion that Argentina will not win this world cup. But they have been extremely fortunate in the side of the bracket they were cast in and have a pretty cushy road to the SFs and at that stage, anything can happen. If you want to look at reasons, there are several which suggest that it will be a TEAM not Argentine that will win the prize, but perhaps Luck, which always plays a huge factor will smile upon them this time.

    1. Yeah, they really lucked out in the draw. 4 game, two of which are against a lacklustre Swiss side and an equally lacklustre Belgium/USA and they’re champions. Will they have enough luck? I hope so. I also hope their forwards are saving the best for the knockout roiunds. Can’t be riding on Leo’s coattails now. It’s go big or go home.

    2. Argentina for sometime had a pretty poor. They struggled to create quality midfielders and defenders in the recent years. So there is nothing new there. I do believe they have a system which could work if Maria and Messi start combining more. Their success will depend on Messi and whether Maria is able to play the perfect deputy. The defense is poor but then say which other teams is great? Brazil looks out of sort when put the pressure, same with Dutch (had they not taken off Gio), Germany looks chaotic at times… So I think Argentina has a decent chance provided they don’t lose their shape when the pressure is on. What worries me more is the presence of Romero in Goal. He is crap. Think they could have take Willy top Brazil? Strange decision.

  4. Great peice kari, I enjoyed reading it. It truly is sad how Argentina fail to supply messi with a team of more quality. As much as I’d like them to win it, I think it’s unlikely. I believe they’ll beat the Swiss and they will have a chance against either Belgium or the US..but holland is a different beast.

    There is a pattern that I think everybody noticed in the Dutch team. They play poorly in the first half. If Argentina manage to contain the Dutch counters and take their chances in the first half then it’s theirs to lose. It’s easier said than done though lol.

    1. Just the idea of Robben running at Rojo/Garay making me cringe. I think Argentina’s best chance is just to outscore the other. Sure, you might concede 2 or 3 but when you score 4 or 5 what does it matter. Sabella has the idea that rg will scoret 1 or 2 so just make sure Arg don’t concede. We’ve seen how well that’s gone….

    2. Outscoring the other team might work if you are scoring with ease. They haven’t been…

    3. Yeah. That’s their main problem. Not Sabella’s fault Higuain and co. have been out of form but that just means he’s got to do something to help them.

    4. Argentina will concede that’s for sure. But what Mexico showed us is that people are making too much of this Dutch attack. If you could pin their midfield back, they aren’t that good.

  5. whats suppose to be france’s fifa ranking? Watching them feels like Nigeria is ranked higher than them

    1. Those ranking don’t matter much

      And in the end, the higher-quality team won as expected anyway

  6. How is it that Germany, whose club teams and young players have been so successful in the last few years with pace strength and overall highly impressive dynamic athleticism, now all of a sudden are looking so slow and tired? Especially in the first half…

    1. And I remember one or two cases in which teams scored after doing this but I can’t find the videos right now

  7. sometimes winning has nothing to do with quality greece 2004). Nigeria might have had a goal wrongly ruled offside too

    1. Algeria has more to regret about their loss – has they kept their composure and played the open man in front of the open goal on multiple occasions in the first half instead of taking wild shots, they would have been 2-0 up at the half.

      It was known that the German defense is suspect against pace but it was shocking how easily they got beaten time and time again.

      If they beat France, they have no chance against Brazil with that defense in the SF (assuming Brazil gets past Colombia, of course).

    2. I predict Colombia World Cup Champions 2014. For the simple reason that they are the only team actually playing up to expectations! 🙂 (Is it also because I love everything about James Rodriguez? I’ll never tell.)

      Seriously, though, I don’t think Brazil will have it easy to get passed Colombia.

  8. if it we were by quality, spain, italy, portugal and england werent suppose to be home by now

    1. A couple of people have made the point that this WC is so great because there are no great teams. Certainly if it comes to luck and who can score when it counts, Argentina have the advantage of the best player in the world Martin Demichelis on their team.

      Disagree re Portugal being a quality team but if you mean on paper, yeah, I guess. Sucks that Sweden were knocked off, coulda had Ibra.

    2. Could I selfishly add England to Kari’s suggestion of teams that really aren’t quality and add that this is probably the only WC in my memory where I wasn’t in the slightest worried that they might progress ?

  9. Hi. Thanks a lot for the tactical breakdowns Kari. And I must say, the commentary in this blog is as good as the main posts themselves. Not many places on the internet we can say that about.

    I just wanted to ask, is there anyway that I can watch the full matches with the views that Kari used or is it just a Canadian thing? Even if it isn’t live streaming.

    It really would be awesome to look at the whole pitch instead of the cameras running mad with the ball. I can definitely appreciate the formations and movements better. So much action goes on off the ball. I wonder when other broadcasters will realize this.

    1. I believe the Spanish TV has a free app to watch the games from something like 6 different cameras, and it’s free. Or at least was free while La Roja was in the competition.

    2. Sorry but I didn’t get ‘Spanish TV’. I didn’t find any TV channel with that name or anything close to it. Can you refer to the specific channel you mean. Or maybe provide a link. And I don’t mind spending a few bucks for that experience (even if isn’t free).

      Thanks.

  10. Rakitic Nr. 4

    Stepped on the pitch, has dribbled with the ball and posed with an Audi. Apparently Barcelona are serious about signing him…

  11. Just finished watching the Rakitic presentation.
    Zubi made a number of comments that we were interesting.
    Paraphrasing, he confirmed that we wouldn’t be signing a midfielder, he said that Xavi hasn’t made a decision yet, talked up Suarez’ character because he said sorry, said that Pedro and Adriano are going nowhere and that Alexis has proposals but that it would be great if he stayed. He also talked about the complexities of signing a centre back.

    The comments around Xavi make me lean towards the probability that he won’t continue. I didn’t like the comments about Pedro and Alexis because he talked more about Pedro’s abilities and seemingly suggested that Alexis will decide his own future. Sounds like laying the ground work for selling Alexis and buying Suarez.

    1. Yes, he essentially said that Pedro wasn’t for sale. Period. He said that we have received offers for Sanchez, but it sounds like the player will decide his own future.

      The Xavi remarks were the right thing to say, but did indeed sound like a farewell preparation.

    2. I can’t say that I have any interest in watching Pedro for another season. He is a good worker and seems to be a likeable person but since his breakout year he has improved little in his game and while this past season was a marked improvement on the previous two statistically he still is less of a threat than he was in any of his first two seasons in the first team.
      Nowadays, Pedro is a defensive player. He is a right back trapped in a wingers body, too small and weak to play further back but far too negative to be the winger in a 4-3-3. He might be better suited to a 4-2-3-1 or a straight 4-4-2 where his main goals are to provide support but with less offensive responsibility but currently he provides almost no threat in attacking areas.

      I just don’t know how he has earned a place in our squad ahead of Alexis. He got 1 goal in his last 12 appearances for us, a tap-in v Athletic Bilbao and even though he scored 15 league goals he barely made any impact in any important match and hasn’t done for a few seasons.
      He rarely if ever beats a player one-on-one even though he gets more freedom than any of our attackers and I don’t think that we can afford to continue carrying a player with so little threat.

      Pedro used to be a fantastic finisher, Guardiola once commenting that he was the best finisher on the team except for Messi, in a time when we still had a fit and firing David Villa but that player is no longer there. Sure, he works hard but so did Oleguer Presas and his time came too. There is nothing positive above Pedro’s game that Alexis isn’t better at with the exception of receiving the ball and constantly passing it backwards if you consider that positive.

      I don’t think that Deulofeu is ready to step up and take on Pedro’s 2300 league minutes and if Suarez is purchased at the expense of Alexis then only Deulofeu and Pedro will be vying for a starting spot alongside Neymar and Messi for the opening third of the league. With Cesc gone then there will be no one else able to slot in centrally either. That means that Pedro is guaranteed to be starting the entire series of 10-15 matches in all competitions and I don’t think that he is good enough.

      It really annoys me but my rant is over now.

    3. Money. Sanchez’s value will never be higher. The stress factor of having Sanchez in the team, after his World Cup and past season, will also never be higher.

      He is ready to be the man, and run his own team. As a consequence, Pedro would be much more comfortable accepting his sub role, and being suitably deferential. If the club is going to sell Sanchez, right now is the perfect time.

      The club doesn’t want to sell him. I would reckon the player wants out, and he should, frankly, just as Thiago did. At some point, every really good employee wants a better job.

      It’s business.

    4. If Tello, Cesc and Pedro left to be replaced with Deulofeu & Suarez then Alexis would get more game time than this past season. It would make the strongest squad with Messi, Neymar, Alexis, Suarez & Deulofeu.
      Luis Enrique should be meeting with him and insisting on him staying.

      Financially it makes sense to sell Alexis for €40million if you don’t consider him to be integral to your success but I would argue that Alexis has been and will be even more so as he reaches his peak.

      My point is less about Alexis than it is about Pedro. I see almost no positives from keeping him. As I’ve said numerous times, our bench is too weak and keeping him just because he’s happy to sit there is wrong. Alexis’ attitude of wanting to play is a much better one.

    1. Just scanned through it for now as the match is about to start. What an amazing article. I can’t imagine the amount of time he spent on it. I hope big magazines like 442 or SI will publish it. Thanks for sharing.

    2. It’s an interesting article, looking at cold stats rather than feelings and comes to the same conclusion that everyone in the world (save anti-Barca people) would come to… that Messi is the best player in the world.

      I kinda feel sorry for Cristiano Ronaldo, as if he was playing at any other time in history a very strong case could be made that he is the best player ever. The fact that Messi has been playing for the entire time that he has been at his peak and only through injury to Messi has he been ahead you can’t come to this conclusion, unless of course you are part of said anti-Barca people.

      I remember watching him score his first goal back in 2005. He came off the bench and had his first lob disallowed and maybe a minute or two later was put through 1-on-1 again and had the guts to try and the ability to execute another lob to score. I turned to my father and said that this kid was special. My dad said that there are loads of youngsters that show lots of promise as teenagers and never make it but I insisted that Messi was different; the rest is history.

  12. Trouble ahead for Argentina unless they step it up second half. Messi is doing okay given that he keeps getting the ball with his back to goal and is double teamed the whole time. Why has Di Maria switched to the right? He’s only half the player there. Who exactly is in the Argentinian midfield. apart from Masche who seems to be playing DM I’m struggling to think of a decent ball played forward.

    1. Gago is one of those good in-theory players. There’s little that he does wrong but he just isn’t good enough at the highest level.

    2. He’s awful, Ciaran. He doesn’t even seem to be able to move with the ball with his head up ! I worry about Messi if they go out here and there’s not much more he can do.

  13. Rojo is having a very good game. I’d be happy to have him instead of Mathieu if Valencia continue to refuse to negotiate.

    1. That yellow card for Rojo was even good defending and something that shows his experience even at a young age. In a very similar situation to Bartra – Bale at a similar time in the match sometimes you have to take your card and reset defense.

    2. Hardly good defending getting beaten and pulling the guy down 70 yards from goal but I take the point.

    3. But he took one for the team. It could’ve been a dangerous counter attack. I’m bit a fan of tactical fouls but this is a World Cup. Smart move.

    4. With you friend. Rojo is the biggest revelation in that team. He looked very doubtful in the qualification stage, but has improved incredibly.
      He can play at both CB and LB too. His crosses are almost always excellent too.

  14. So many wrong decisions all over the park by Argentina’s players. Messi has nothing to work with.

  15. Di Maria has had, by some comfortable margin, the worst game of his career. Lost the ball a record 28 times in the first 70′. Higuain has disappeared too. Lavezzi was poor, and Palacio not much better.
    Argentina will lose today.

  16. LaveZi should’ve stayed on. He was the only one who is doing off the ball runs.

  17. I literally jumped up from the floor. So glad that Messi will go through. I don’t have the stomach to go through a penalty shoot out.

  18. Totally unmarked. Unmarked. In a KO match in the World Cup in the dying moments. What kind of defending is this.

  19. And that’s why you can’t count them out while they have the world’s best player.

  20. Thank God that’s over, one of the most frustrating games I’ve ever had to watch . It felt like Leo vs.11 at times, utterly lazy, useless teammates. Thank god Di Maria stepped up and thank god no PK’s

  21. Question is how long can Messi carry them? I doubt it will be far if they’re playing against a much weaker team who prefers to sit deep.

    Against a strong team it’ll be a case of Argentina out scoring the opponents since they have more space and their defense will leak in goals.

  22. I really like Zabaleta. Really solid. Hardly ever makes any mistakes. Rojo isn’t bad at all. But I doubt he would want to be a back up player since he’s still young.

    If you were Sabella, would you continue with the awful Fernandes or put slow Demechilis in? Now with Rojo out their defense will even need to be better.

    Argentina were doing so well during the qualification rounds, what did Sabella do to screw it up?

    1. That is a mystery, isnt it? Their defence looked much better in the qualification. Even the midfield – even if not excellent, was not in shambles like it is now.
      Or, may be it has to do with form. Almost everybody, except Messi and Rojo, and Masche are far away from their good form.
      Messi has said that he was going to take his shot, but then saw DeMaria and passed him. Inspite of Demarias horrible show till then, he trusted De Maria is something noticeable.

  23. If the US can pull off a miracle, the Argentina players not named Messi might be able to keep playing this badly and still make it to the semi’s.

  24. In all the excitement I forgot to say that move confirmed for me Messi’s team player credentials. I’m pretty sure neither Ronaldo nor Di Maria could have resisted the shot but Messi waited till he drew the remaining defenders and made the right pass which took some courage, given Di Maria’s game up to that point.

    1. I would like to believe that too but I think had Messi come from the other side where the angle would’ve been more favorable to him, he would’ve gone for goal. Pass was inch perfect, the timing, the weight, the placement.

  25. I’m rooting for USA vs Belgium. It’s time that USA makes the leap to the big boys league. And if they go far hopefully the media attention over the Soccerball team will overshadow LeBron’s the Decision part 2.

  26. Shaqiri plays football like how he plays football on the street. Beautiful to watch but not sure I’d want him in a football team. Going for nutmeg is fun but you’ll more likely lose the ball in a team sport unlike in a 1 on 1 street football.

  27. Belgium vs USA was the best game of the tournament so far.
    Belgium will run Argentina ragged if they play in the same fashion.

  28. Hazard running at that defense does not bode well for Argentina.

    And Lukaku is not going to lose his footing like Drmic in 1-on-1s.

  29. Guys. Guys. These two games of soccer today have drained me totally. I was cheering for Argentina and nearly lost my mind in extra time. But Messi looked good throughout, and it finally payed off.

    (I agree with Kari that Argentina will not win this. Their formation morphed into a line of defenders and a line of attackers playing 20 yards apart. It’s bonkers, and not in the exciting way.)

    Then I went outside, played some footie myself, and came in to watch the USA game… I really, really thought the equalizer would come in the last minutes, but no. Too much stress for me. I am excited for the future though with players like Yedlin and Green!

    1. That combination of Bradley to Green was so nice to see – a shame it took Bradley all tournament to make a pass like that! I also am excited for the future and hoping we can see the development of the promising youth.

      How about Tim Howard, eh? A shame he isn’t 25 instead of 35!

    2. I thought Bradley was pretty strong against Belgium, but I also would have loved to see that creativity and surety earlier on!

      I have so much love for Tim Howard right now (and most of the time, to be honest). He’s been great for many years. And who knows what his future holds, keepers can play for a long time.

  30. My take on this..

    Argentina have certainly been playing lifeless football but i attribute that mostly to opposition teams playing with all 11 defending and then playing on sudden counter attacks.

    Against Nigeria it was an open game and Argentina certainly played better and dominated the game…and Messi could be taken off in the 60th minute of the match..

    I am sure Argentina will not capitulate against Belgium as many are expecting it will be a wonderful event of attacking football.

    But with so many stars in the Belgium side..it might be a tough ask for Argentina to progress…heart says A..head says otherwise..

  31. Allegations of match fixing are underway involving the Cameroon NT. Apparently a tout picked the final score, and that a player would be sent off with a straight red in the first half.

    Many of us commented on the inexplicable nature of the Alex Song straight red. Strange, that one.

    Anyhow, at present they are just allegations that are being explored by the appropriate parties.

  32. The States were fantastic. I hope they would get the equalizer but it wasn’t to be.

    It seems to me Belgium will wipe the floor with Argentina. Beside Messi, none of their players have shown up at this event.

  33. story after story in the Guardian claiming we are in talks with Liverpool and his agent for Suarez. really hope they’re just silly season rumours, surely that would be the icing on the cake for bad PR this year.

    1. Graham Hunter mentioned the pattern of, “Weaknesses in defense? Let’s sign the flavor of the month striker. Break out the cava!” If so, this is starting to become a parody.

    2. Purchasing a CB and a FW aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. Also, we had a lot of problems in our attack this season which need to be addressed.

    3. Yes, but with the money they’re talking about, huge opportunity costs. We have Messi, Neymar and Sanchez – there are no magic bullets. We already have the magic bullets!

    4. Exactly. And Suarez would bite a big chunk out of our budget.

      Ba-dam-dam-pam! (Thank you, thank you, I can do this all day, folks)

    5. Agree about opportunity costs but you have to take risks, and Suarez is a much better player than Sanchez. Also, I don’t think Sanchez is very happy at Barca whereas Suarez actually wants to come to Barca, so that is a big plus as well. To be honest, I don’t think Sanchez is going to grow much more in Barca unless he completely reinvents himself to be a mobile 9.

    6. If rumors are to be believed, and at this stage, they are only rumors. Suarez is the no1 target for Enrique, which makes sense if you think about the timing of the rumors linking us to him. There was absolutely nothing till Enrique was confirmed as coach then all of a sudden, pretty much out of nowhere all these Suarez rumors pop up. Obviously we cannot know, but it seems like this is a technical decision by the new coach and not a board trying to buy their way out of trouble. It also makes sense from a tactical point of view, we need a no 9 and if you look at the market (biting aside) Suarez is by far the best no 9 for us. Quick, aggressive, intelligent, mobile, scan score with either foot, can dribble past defenders. On paper you couldn’t ask for a better striker. Is he better than Sanchez? That is not a question to ask, because they are different players who thrive in different positions. Sanchez is an exceptional player who will never achieve his full potential at Barca because he will never be allowed to thrive in his most natural position. This is not the case with Suarez, who thrives in exactly the position we are lacking. So, for me, this swap makes sense. IT also seems that Sanchez wants to leave and I do not think it is healthy to keep a player who wants out.

      The club is reportedly adament on signing Suarez, Mathieu, Marquinos and Cuadrado. If we start the season with those players in Barca colours, along with the ones we have already signed, I think it would have been an excellent transfer window for the club and I would be very excited about the upcoming season.

      Let’s see….

    7. Zubi on Suarez:

      “Suárez has shown he is humble enough to admit an error, which is very important. He has been humble enough to apologize to those he has affected, because it happened in the middle of a festival of football. In this case it’s the best thing a person can do.”

      Sounds like we are going to have to welcome Suarez to the family soon.

  34. For some reason this idiotic management is forgetting one major fact – the chance of being kept away from transfer market next summer. And the chances are pretty high of that happening. So we need to buy at least two CB to start with. One who could start and another emergency option for next season. That means the workload should be distributed between Pique, Bartra, Mascherano and the new CBs. Rojo if signed can deputize in both CB and LB position. But we need to sign two players who can play CB. Don’t tell me that two players can’t get injured at same time. If we lose one player two let’s say 3-4 months then we will be in trouble come next season.

    1. I seriously doubt that that has escaped their minds. We are all just panicking at the moment because the non CB purchases seem to be moving quicker. I wouldn’t give up on the Marquinhos one just yet as we are talking to them. Suarez, despite the baggage, is almost the ideal number 9 for me to play in the same sort of spaces Villa did against Milan.

    2. Does Saurez play as a number 9. I doubt so. He is more or less like a number 10. The entire game in his team runs through him, he is that good. We need actually someone who is a classic 9, who can read and occupy the number 9 position when Messi (the false 9) drop back to midfield.

    3. As somebody who has watched a lot of Suarez this season I can say that he does play mostly as a no 9 for Liverpool, sometimes he drifts out to the wing or drops deep but his position on the pitch is generally one that you would associate with a classic 9, although obviously his intelligence and ability allow him to play anywhere across the front line as well as to drop a bit deeper. However, where he thrives, where he scores all his goals, is up front as a no 9. That is where I would see him playing with Barca, with Messi becoming more of a no 10.

    4. Yeah, that’s where I would see him. Tbh, no point in buying him if he’s just gonna replicate players we already have. I’m still edgy about the damage to us as a club through being the ones to buy him, though. Mind you, I thought that about Masche after he held Liverpool to ransom over his move to us and he hasn’t put a foot wrong in an attitude sense for us.

  35. Mascherano wins the ball. Passes to Messi. Messi darts away. Messi goes forth, Messi going, Di Maria on the right, Messi lays it right, Di Maria goool!!!

    Absolutely stark raving bloody awesome!

    I couldn’t watch it, but even on replay, even when I knew how it’s going to happen, I found myself urging them on and applauding when it happened.

    1. Just a change, Peter, Palacio won it and passed it to Messi..

      yes, we have seen him doing similar things so many times, but there was a specialness to it yday. I didnt think at all De Maria would find the net, because of how horrible he was in the regular time.

  36. Bartomeu’s press conference was a little less informative in terms of transfers but still touched on a few subjects.
    Xavi has the right to choose his own future which is correct.
    Alexis has been enquired about left right and centre but we want him in our squad for next year.

    He also said that Zubi has deals in place for central defenders but it will most likely be after the world cup before they are completed.
    Interesting stuff I suppose, if only they would tell us who the signings are to put our minds at ease…

  37. i’m appalled that we’re considering Suarez, frankly. first of all, we need central defenders (wow, that is starting to sound familiar) far more than we need strikers at the moment as we have no less than 5 of those still on the books, and only 3 of the former. period. end of.

    notwithstanding the huge amount of bad press our “more than a club” club would receive for acquiring such an unbalanced person as a player, who is fresh off of a hugely public assault on another professional, this transfer doesn’t make sense in footballing terms either. he can’t play for 4 months due to the fact that *he bit another player in a football match*, by which time he’ll be 28 years old. that gives him 3 seasons max at his current level, IF he can re-create what we saw last season at Liverpool despite not being the focal point of the team.

    so we’re going to blow a huge amount of money, money we should be spending to shore up an as-yet-totally-unbolstered defense, AND perhaps one of the most exciting young talents in Europe (Sanchez), to gain the services of a liability of a player with 2 or 3 seasons (after he serves his 4-month ban from football for *biting another player*) remaining of top performance in a position we don’t need. and who knows how long he’ll be out during that time for disciplinary violations.

    it would be yet another tremendous mis-step for the transfer policy of this club, and on that count alone i guess i should consider it likely.

    1. oh yeah, i forgot he was also convicted of racially abusing a black player during a match and was subsequently banned for 8 games.

      this is the kind of person cules want on OUR team, of all teams? really?

    2. I believe the4 months ban started immediately. So whichever team he’ll be, they’ll only miss him for one football month. And in that month there won’t be too many club games and there is a FIFA international break somewhere at the start.

    3. I still laugh whenever I think of your comment after Madrid’s mauling of Bayern. It was something about Madrid being an evil team. So do you think Suarez belongs more at EE?

    4. I think we actually really need a striker, but buying Suarez would be a mistake. His biting, although a real concern, is the least of our worries.

      It’s going to be hard enough to get Messi and Neymar to complement each other. Adding Suarez to that mix is just stupidity. Haven’t people learned anything from the galácticos of M*drid? That didn’t work well. You can’t have three protagonists along the same front line. Three people who need the ball as much as possible. This is like 1 + 1 + 1 = 1.

      I fear for Lucho if this is what he really wants. Plenty of people here in BCN suspecting he has no say in the matter, though. And it doesn’t sound like Zubi either, tbh. I fear this is Barto all the way.

    5. I see it differently – Suarez can play very well without having the ball all the time (as seen in the WC). Basically, Suarez is the closes thing to a prime Eto’o we can find right now, someone who can play as a target CF, but is in the same very mobile and not too big and heavy to press and also play on the wing from time to time (as Ibra was). And if Messi is permanently moved to midfield, that is even less of an objection.

      It has the potential to work out very well. It also has the potential to fail disastrously.

      However, it is worth remembering that last season we scored the fewest goals since 2007-2008, and while that was due to many factors, I am not sure the Neymar-Messi-Sanchez combination will improve as much as needed next season given what we can expect from defenses. So what changes do we make?

  38. This could be the first time in many many years where we’ll be having a more active summer than Madrid.

  39. One thing I don’t understand: Suarez is banned from “all football-related activity.” Doesn’t transferring from one team to another, which would entail signing contracts to play for a new team, count as “football-related activity?” Why is it even allowed?

    1. I think his ban is ridiculous. Players in this World Cup have gotten away with elbowing their opponents in the face or breaking somebody’s legs. I’d prefer a bite in my shoulder.

      Also, it’s ridiculous that Liverpool ends up being punished. Just think that if, for example, you get a red card in a CL game it doesn’t transfer over to the league, how the hell can they ban Suarez from his club for something he did while playing for his national team?

    2. Transfers are allowed.

      But if I remember the wording correctly, he is not allowed to enter any stadium for these 4 months, which is ridiculous. Have they even defined what a “stadium” is? But any way they have defined, ours surely qualifies as one, and so that means they will have trouble with the official presentation…

  40. RAC1 says Raul Sanllehi is in England, and that Suarez talks are “very advanced.” Money, no player swaps.

    — To be as blunt and as clear as I can be, I don’t know that I can continue to support a club who would do this. I just don’t. There really isn’t any way to sugar coat it.

    A club has to stand for something, even when it is selling everything that isn’t nailed down. A corrupt board is one thing. They go away. Do they symbolize the club, the men who would do such a thing? All valid questions.

    Right now, I’m really struggling with this.

    1. People are discussing this signing in a sporting sense, as if nothing else matters, as if signing a player who has missed more than 40 matches for a series of racist and biting offenses is no big deal.

      “He apologized, and that’s good enough for us. He scores goals, so hooray!”

      Efforts are made to equate what he did with a simple foul, with kicking or elbowing. I can’t do that. This isn’t the club that I fell in love with. It just isn’t.

      When I came to Barça, it was for the football, for the aftermath of a crazy goal. I learned about the politics, the board, the crap attendant to being a culer and a soci. Presidents come and go, boards come and go. What remains is the soul of a club, a club that takes pride in announcing that its players have, for yet another year running, won the Liga Fair Play award.

      Are the men who are running this club so desperate to save their asses that they would sign someone like Suarez?

      This is what I struggle with. And this is venting, more than a request for debate. I have my views, and others have theirs.

    2. the answer, my dear Kxevin, is yes, they are. the venal corporate politicians who now comprise our board, even after the exit of their actual elected President, just don’t care what this sort of signing does to the club’s image. they believe that results = them keeping their jobs, and therefore whatever is done in the service of that end is good for the club.

      to all those cules who didn’t protest loudly when elections weren’t immediately demanded for the current board, this is your comeuppance. there’s a part of me that’s still dismayed by the idea we’re even considering it; and there’s a growing part that wishes this board will sell the stadium naming rights, sell the shirt, acquire Suarez in exchange for the unappreciated Alexis and let the former play a few games before he call Miranda a “puta negro” and chews off a piece of his arm. maybe that will wake up cules to the fact that under this board, we are never going to be “more than a club”.

    3. I’m afraid that “more than a club” is just a catch-phrase. Unless the board thinks that Suarez is mentally ill and taking care of such people is a good thing, actually 🙂

      Anyway, I don’t like the guy and don’t want him in Barca.

    4. It is worth remembering that when the club was pure and free from corporate influence many years ago, Suarez would not have received even a single game for these infractions, and most likely there would not have even been nearly as much of a discussion about them either.

      Is the game better now when much of the violent play has been eliminated? Absolutely yes.

      Has it been sissified too much? Absolutely yes to that question too.

      I am not trying to excuse what he did at all. But in the same time I don’t see why he has to even apologize – he did it, he got punished, case closed. Also, it is perfectly possible to say racist things as an insult to someone without actually being racist – that might be a difficult thing to accept for people belonging to groups subjected to racist discrimination, but it is a fact; and given the Suarez’ own background is very far from purebred caucasian, I would not call him racist just because of that accident.

    5. I was and still am absolutely disgusted with the selling of the shirt and everything else the board did to corporatize the club. Those are crimes against football that will do real and lasting damage to the club and to the game.

      What Suarez did is not and I do not understand how you can compare the two.

    6. you don’t understand how the purchase of a violent convicted racist while he’s serving a ban for biting yet another player in a World Cup game does damage to the club’s image?

      really? i’m afraid i can’t help you then.

    7. I absolutely don’t because nothing of the sort is going to happen.

      Suarez is far from the worst player to have played the game when it comes to behavior. I don’t see the supporters of clubs that some other notable villains played for covering their head in shame because of that.

      The difference is that today we live in a grotesquely politically correct culture and in the context of a 24-hour news cycle with cameras everywhere capturing everything. So we end up blowing all sorts of relatively minor incidents completely out of any reasonable proportions. Like this one. But the internet culture and 24-hour news cycle also have another consequence, one that is usually very negative for society as a whole, but sometimes comes in handy for some people, and it is that attention spans are very short and everything is very quickly forgotten. So while almost everyone is outraged right now, they will have largely forgotten about the whole affair in a few weeks. They will be once more outraged if something like this happens again in the future, but they will forget that quickly too. The wise man takes the long-term view of the situation, and the long-term view is shaped by the purely sporting considerations.

    8. Okay, let me stand your question on its head. What do you say of a team and academy which created a player that’s been documented to hurl racist insults and stomp on people’s heads, and not just accepts him, but gives him huge responsibility in the team? Can the image of that club be pristine?

      I’m talking about Busquets, in case you didn’t get it.

    9. Busquets was simply accused of racial invective; not convicted and fined by the LFP. and in this sport a stamp, intentional or not, is hardly equivalent to multiple cases of biting an opponent. i think you shouldn’t grasp at straws; we simply have never purposefully acquired this kind of player before.

      no, Suarez is not the worst player to ever play the game. but if that’s your defense of him, that’s pretty thin. the question for cules is: do we hold this club to a higher standard than others? are we “more than a club”, or aren’t we? the kind of spirit that saw a resurgent Eric Abidal lift our European trophy is exactly the kind of spirit that Suarez’s actions on the pitch, racist and violent, are the polar opposite of. which do you want?

      as for “blowing incidents out of proportion”, well, this is the *THIRD TIME* (in only 4 years) that this professional player has BITTEN another professional player on the pitch. go look up the previous 2 incidents, find them on Youtube. is THAT the kind of person, forget player, you want to see in our blaugrana?

      i sure as hell don’t, and i don’t care how good a player he is. i hold the club’s image and reputation, tarnished as it may have been during this administration, above the possible footballing gain of what this player or that player brings to the team. maybe we disagree on that.

    10. We are indeed talking about blowing things way out of proportions – a bite is nothing to get too worked up about.

    11. I’ll be really embarrassed for the club and myself as a supporter should this deal go through. Were the backdoor dealings for the Neymar’s signing not enough? Must we lose even more credibility?

      Gah.

    12. Although I like to side myself with the pragmatists in most things blaugrana, what our club is doing especially the recent comments made by Zubi and our President are disgraceful.

      What it shows is an amorality that thinks everything is about results and public relations. Our number one transfer target just bit someone again. There is no way we are going to get Suarez for cheap anyway. Let’s show some flexibility and move on.

      Is Suarez the worst man on earth? No, but neither is Oscar Pistorius or O.J. Simpson. All obviously have huge self control issues and why should we pay 80 mil for a time bomb. If Liverpool is done with him, why shouldn’t we be too.

    13. Kevin, before I answer I need to ask you, and ask this very politely:

      Is it possible that you are against his signing not because, or not just because of his “violent” past, but also because of him being, as one commentator charmingly put it, a “convicted racist”? I am asking this, because I have noted more than once in your opposition to Rosell that one of the main issues you had was the supposed intent of exclusion of La Masia and the soci crowd from “furriners” and especially “furriners” from the continent south of the Med? If that is a valid concern for you, then I don’t think you are thinking rightly. I think that you may be being led, like a lot, lot of other people. I don’t know, maybe I am the one being naive, but the history of Uruguay, the nuances and possible loss of translation may have a lot to do. I was perusing the sports pages the other day, and glanced at the article about Suarez’s granny trying to explain why he bites. The interesting thing was this: she called him in that interview “my negrito”(my lil blackie). Suarez is definitely not Evra, Song, Eto’o, Sturridge or Sterling or Sakho. So what gives? Personally, I think good old English latent xenophobia and sensationalism have a lot to do with what happened.

      Second, and I know I am not going to turn your mind on that one, at this World Cup we’ve seen elbow facehits, elbow back rakes, players going studs-first on another player’s face/head, flying knees to the back of the head, and the occasional stomp without a ball and leg-breaking(that’s Matiudi’s breaking of a Nigerian player’s leg). Why haven’t they gotten bans? Because biting is unnatural? If you ask Chiellini, the Swiss player who got close encounter of the studs’ kind or the Nigerian player what would they choose if given the option of getting bitten by Suarez or getting what happened to them, what do you think would they choose? If I have to be brutally honest and blunt, watching a player get stretchered off or being attended while blood is pouring from his face, while the perpetrator shrugs and gets back into the game is what makes my blood boil. This is why I hope that France will get defeated. If there is one team left which should pack its bags in order to stop staining the face of the beautiful game with the blood of its victims, it’s the French team.

      Third, and I can easily admit this, because I became a fan of Barcelona because of Stoichkov, I want a player in the team who goes all in. I want a player who, if needed, will commit the cynical foul to stop a counter, the cynical handball to stop a goal. I want a player who when the game ends knows he did everything to win. I want a player who fights tooth and nail(figuratively, figuratively) for the victory, because he knows he owes it to the thousands who buy the tickets to watch the team, the millions in overpriced plastic shirts watching the game on paid TV. How many such players does Barcelona have, apart from maybe Alexis, Mascherano and Messi?

      For me signing Suarez IS a big deal. Maybe I am the ultimate optimist, maybe I am naive, but if Barcelona reforms Suarez, wouldn’t that be an image? Wouldn’t that be an example?

    14. Peter, one question and I mean this in all sincerity. If the papers reported tomorrow that Suarez killed his wife in a heated argument would you be stunned?

      I wouldn’t and I think many on this board wouldn’t either. Suarez may be a great player and a bite may be no worse than a bad tackle, but the guy is mental and why on earth would we want him at our club. If we take him, are we responsible for any action he commits while a member of our team. The answer is YES.

      The only difference between Pepe and Suarez is that Suarez is a better player. I didn’t think that was the reason why we held Pepe and Real Madrid in contempt for keeping this player though.

    15. I am sorry but are you seriously trying to compare a bite to a killing somebody? The fact that somebody can lose their temper and end up biting someone doesn’t mean they are capable of killing their wife. I mean come on. Really?

      Secondly there is a huge difference between Suarez and Pepe. Suarez looses his cool and does something childish and quite frankly ridiculous, but neither particularly dangerous or with the intent to cause serious long term harm. Pepe does things, CALCULATED things, with the sole purpose of causing serious harm to the opposing player. To stop them from playing on and in more sever cases cause long term injuries. You cannot even begin to compare the severity and INTENT of what Pepe does on the pitch to what Suarez has done. I am not justifying what Suarez did, it is stupid, reckles, childish and has no place in the game, BUT it is nowhere near, as one example, the incident where Pepe basically assaulted a player WHILE HE WAS ALREADY ON THE FLOOR. Somehow that gets a lesser ban than a bite, which at worst left a mark on the players skin.

      I am still torn on Suarez. On the one hand from a sporting point of view, he is the perfect fit IMO, on the other hand he brings with him a whole bunch of risk that may end up causing the team and the club irreperable damage. However, like Peter, I tend towards being optimistic. I would like to think that if Enrique wants Suarez as badly as the rumours suggest, he thinks he can control him or he thinks the sort of tenacity and hunger that comes with a player such as Suarez is required. Either way and above all, I love Barca, I will always support them, no matter who they sign and no matter what that player does because to me the club is bigger than any player or any action that a player takes. If Suarez is a bust, if he ends up biting somebody and we end up selling him on the cheap one day, so be it. Barca will continue on. In the meantime if Suarez is going to be a Barca player then I will support and chear him on as I would any other player.

      I would also like to think, maybe a little naively, that a club like Barca, with the players and the coach he will be surrounded by can change and mould him. Simeone did a very good job at tempering Costa and he was a loose cannon, he didnt bite people but he certainly wasnt in control of himself on the pitch. He is now a lot better, while still aggressive and passionate, not quite as violent. So it is possible to change a player.

    16. Not taking sides in this although I’ve already said this signing makes me feel uneasy. However, in the interests of fairness Jamie Redknap was talking about conversations he had had with Steven Gerard and Jamie Carragher who told Jim that off the field Suarez was one of the gentlest and most family orientated people they had come across in the game. I know, doesn’t tie up but I offer it as is.

    17. I just knew something here didn’t add up. so should we call you Jim… or Jamie? 😛

    18. Or maybe Jaime (my Barcelona Sunday name ) ? Jamie has connotations of tartan bonnets for me – one of the artefacts of the Tartan army I have so far managed to resist 🙂

    19. Of course I would be. The probability of Suarez killing his wife in a heated argument is about one magnitude lower than the probability of Xavi murdering his wife because she threw away a bottle of hair gel.

      The man basically became a football star in order to be able to get to her and marry her. Like others have said(not here) the British press has almost succeeded in convincing the rest of the world that Suarez is some kind of a monster strutting around in testosterone overdose, constantly seeing red and a hair’s breadth away from murdering people.

      To see people suggesting that Suarez murdering someone is an actual probability or to see them compare him to Pepe (ARE YOU FCKING KIDDING ME??? YOU COMPARE HIM TO PEPE AND THINK THE ONLY DIFFERENCE IS THAT SUAREZ IS A BETTER PLAYER????) shows how much the brainwashing(yes, brainwashing) is succeeding. After all, tell a lie a hundred times and it becomes a truth.

      Unless you’re a Barça fan apparently, since in that case fifty may do the trick.

    20. Pepe has never been accused of racial abusing another player. that puts him well ahead of Suarez in my book. i don’t see how Pepe kicking a prostrate player and Suarez biting multiple players are substantially different, and i wouldn’t want Pepe on our team for that reason, DESPITE him being an otherwise brilliant defender in a position we need.

  41. exciting world cup. down to 8 teams. more excitingly, kari’s world cup prediction game has been whittled down to a possible 4 winners. it’ll probably come down to who wins the final: brazil, argentina, or “someone else.”

    i wont ruin the fun though.

    1. I am absolutely over the moon about this World Cup. I will also note that kari’s tactics posts have both been borne out by the matches. It has only been moments of individual brilliance that have tipped the scales.

      For the first time, all 8 group winners have made it to the quarterfinals. But history will not show how close they were to exiting. Chile and Mexico were so close. Argentina just missed penalties. France was probably closest to a clear win.

      What a tournament, and I can’t wait to see the next phase. All the matches are completely wonderful on paper. Mark it down: If France beat Germany, they will win the World Cup.

    2. Very close indeed! Recall that the US, despite the ridiculous barrage they received from Belgium, still fashioned some chances at the end to nearly take it to penalties! For the sheer amount of last-minute goals, this WC has already given me more excitement than in 2010.

  42. Oh the great irony, We’ve been wishing for the time when the board gets desperate enough to really start rejuvenating the team, And now we’re complaining about them being too much desperate, Well i guess, Always be careful what you wish for.

    I’ve said it before this whole biting incident, I wouldn’t take suarez for a single penny, He has way too much history to overlook or forgive, Guardiola had to do some good cleaning up to the squad when he took helm, One of our most prolific goal scorers and beloved players ‘Samuel eto’ was one of them, He was a trouble maker, And sometimes a pure poison to the locker room.
    The healthy locker room we had for the last 6 years was one of several factors on why we had such a phenomenal team, And i want this to be maintained indefinitely, So i really and truly hope the negotiations fail and we don’t get him.

    On the other side of things…..

    Neither team nor the club will turn into a cesspool just because suarez came, Sorry, It just won’t, I won’t stop cheering for this club, Nor will i stop supporting it, My objection to this transfer mostly stems from slippery slope in terms of ‘standards’ that might follow such a transfer, Not from the potential harm that a single player can make.

    Secondly, This kind of transfer with such amount of money and the PR nightmare that might accompany it, Doesn’t happen without the ‘blessing’ of the coach, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a direct request from luis Enrique, Weather he thinks he will be an important part of his future project and thinks he can control him, That’s a decision he’ll be taking responsibility of, And i’ll hold my judgment of it’s of worth and success later.

    Last but not least, There is no point getting worked up or arguing for too long about something we have no control of, Which when you think about it, It does have a calming effect.

    1. I might have missed something important, but where is the evidence that Suarez is a bad teammate?

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