Categorized | Messi, Supposition, Thoughts

Misunderstanding Messi, aka “You don’t get it, but that’s okay. Hardly anyone does.”

clasmess

Messi doesn’t care. If you want to understand Messi, understand that.

It took a while for me to figure that out, but this most recent World Cup brought a lot into perspective for me regarding Lionel Messi. There have been some excellent articles on him: a piece that goes back to Rosario, a statistical breakdown that concludes Messi is impossible. And even before that, a lot of writing about a person, an entity, a thing that is impossible to put into words and next to impossible to be neutral about, because DID YOU SEE WHAT HE JUST DID??!!.

But I don’t think anyone can understand Messi because there’s nothing to understand. He just wants the ball.

As a player, he is as close to a shark as any person playing the game. Sharks just swim, and eat. Cut a shark open and you will find all kinds of stuff: shoes, trash, nets, flotsam. Whatever. It just goes into the mouth. Messi wants the ball. No, Messi needs the ball. Pure.

When you watch him, he doesn’t seem to care about an opponent or a keeper as a specific entity. Tell him that he just scored his eleventeenth goal against a team or keeper, he will look down and sort of say, “Hmmm. Well it is an honor, they are very good, blablabla.” But I honestly don’t think that it registers for him. He is as pure an agent as you will ever see. Ball. Foot. Net. Everything else is an obstacle to be surmounted.

 

messiath

Ronaldo and Neymar do stepovers, that “Hey, look!” shimmying that tries to fake out a defender and almost never does. Messi never, ever does stepovers. Why? Who has time for that? I want to be there, and the defender knows I want to be there. Why mess around? No time for deception. Think about his runs to goal. They are direct. He will cut and jink, but he has somewhere to be. All the time, he has somewhere to be.

On a recent Barça TV segment, the team was being filmed arriving in a city and getting off the plane. There was a baggage person, taking selfies with all the team members willing to stop for him. Messi got off the plane, ducked his head and hunched his shoulders up around his ears as he scurried past the guy. It wasn’t really a “No autographs” stance as much as a guy who just wanted to get to that thing he wanted, the ball, or preparing to be with the ball. I don’t have time for that other stuff.

Is Messi an introvert? Dunno. Does the stone face mean he doesn’t care? Dunno. We can speculate all we like, but nobody knows because you have to have clues to solve a mystery. Messi yields none. Because seemingly, he just wants to play. Kick him, foul him and he doesn’t get angry. Why bother? It’s just another impediment. Messi doesn’t dive, goes the legend, and I think it’s because he doesn’t want to depend on anything, doesn’t want to let anything stop him from getting to where he wants to be: picking the ball out of the back of the net.

Other players are happy to feel contact, go down and hope the ref makes the call. But why trust that?

In “Le Mans,” Michael Delaney said “Lotta people go through life doing things badly. Racing’s important to men who do it well. When you’re racing, it’s life. Anything that happens before or after is just waiting.”

That is Messi for me, though I understand him as little as anyone else who isn’t part of his immediate family or circle of friends. You can’t understand him because there is nothing to understand for us on the outside. Might that be in part that is why he is so beloved, why his fans are so vociferous and vehement: as much as what he does on the pitch, he is a mirror. Emotionless, stone-faced and revealing of precisely nothing, coming to life only when he scores. He’s an emotional vacuum into which his fans can place their hopes and dreams, live vicariously through a player who doesn’t care about his individual statistics as much as his devotees do.

Media types love him because he is the ultimate player: no nonsense, like the baller who hangs around fields and scrambles to pick up games, because he just wants to play. Messi is just about football. That’s it. The last athlete who was that pure was Michael Jordan, of whom it is said the Bulls had to try to stop him from playing all the time — pickup games, 3-on-3s in a park somewhere, an unyielding single-mindedness that yields excellence.

And Messi is unassailable precisely because he’s so unavailable. It’s like reviewing water. Who doesn’t like water? It is what it is, and is so perfect at what it does. Messi is the perfect machine: He does stupefying things and his team wins. And his first action is to run to his teammates. No preening, no pointing to his number, no mugging, or ripping off his shirt and flexing his muscles. He only allows himself a moment to dedicate yet another tally to his late grandmother.

When he scored THAT goal against Getafe, all he did was keep running until he ran into teammates. Then he just hugged them and grinned, because that was the pinnacle of everything for him, I think. Then finally, he and Eto’o hugged, forehead to forehead, grinning like the two happiest people on the planet. The quality of the goal didn’t matter, that he beat the entire Getafe team didn’t matter.

“Hey guys! I scored a goal for us!”

It’s so beautiful it makes your heart ache, even if you aren’t a fan of the player, because it’s pure. It’s what lies at the core of the purity of the game. I don’t understand Messi, but I understand that.

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208 Responses to “Misunderstanding Messi, aka “You don’t get it, but that’s okay. Hardly anyone does.””

  1. hammeronmessi says:

    A Lovely Piece.Kudos to You

    Though as great as he is, still a ball hogging dictator

  2. Inamess1 says:

    Great Post Kxevin! Trying to figure out Messi is just as allusive as trying to find the meaning of “Rosebud” in Citizen Kane. All you can do is sit back and watch, and if you are lucky, you get to hear his astonishing deeds described by the Homeric bard of modern football:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeikSGgqSiU

  3. PrinceYuvi says:

    Goodness Me, Kx !
    What the hell, man ?
    Scary Accurate.
    Envy you for being able to Think without losing to prejudice
    and
    for being able to Express those thoughts in such a clear fashion.
    Kudos.

  4. PrinceYuvi says:

    How exactly you super mods found each other ?
    Every one of you writes more elegantly than others;
    & Why in the blue hell you guys don’t get paid for coming up with stuff like this ?

    • Kxevin says:

      We are paid in praise and being able to write about the club that we love.

      And because of the ethical restrictions of my day job, I couldn’t accept pay for doing this, at any rate. It really is just fun.

  5. PrinceYuvi says:

    And he said, ‘Hey, I’ll be busy during summer, there won’t be No posts.’ & Now these…
    Boy, we’re spoiled rotten. God help me.

  6. Peter says:

    I’m just reading Messi’s biography by Balague, and according to him at the dinner at home after that goal against Getafe Messi said repeatedly “But I was looking for Eto’o to pass him the ball.”

    Thank God Eto’o wasn’t open. :D

  7. Kxevin says:

    Given the fabrication of stuff during transfer season, it’s best to be suspicious, but we had done a deal for Suarez for this summer, back in NOVEMBER. Liverpool backed out after the season that he had, and Suarez found out just after the England match, according to quotes on Uruguay radio from his NT coach.

    http://www.ftbpro.com/posts/chris.deeley/1069834/uruguay-coach-claims-luis-suarez-to-barcelona-was-agreed-back-in-november

    • Peter says:

      Well, it all hangs together pretty nicely, which is always a bad sign. Suarez understands about a deal with Barcelona just after he has thrown England out of the World Cup with two goals, finds out his team is cheating him AGAIN and is using his performance to squeeze more transfer money. His bite may have been premeditated, or just impulsiveness and frustration boiling over.

      What if it’s true?
      If it’s the first, premeditated, then if the transfer happens Barcelona would get a player who really, really, really wants to play for Barcelona and isn’t above risking his career for it. Money is all good, but I think we have all seen that a satisfied Suarez is a hard-working Suarez.

      Second, if it’s frustration boiling over, then I think we could be reasonably calm about his staying in Barcelona. In general Barcelona doesn’t sell the players it’s satisfied with, unless they want to go. There would be few reasons to frustrate him, and the increased oversight(the staff of Luis Enrique already includes a psychologist and Barcelona are apparently prepared to hire one for specially for Suarez) would help him diffuse and also channel any frustration/anger he may have.

      But like I said, it hangs somewhat too… neatly. Impulsive Suarez, “see what we had for you if only you hadn’t rubbed our face in the dirt”, heartless English/American Liverpool management, frustration boiling over…

  8. lala10 says:

    Your piece is so good i could not resist hazarding an opinion.

    You capture so perfectly the paradox that Messi is.

    Watching him play you ask yourself: does he know he is that good? He is so nonchalant so relaxed and pure about his game.

    He skips past a challenge when the easy option was going down and you ask in exasperation; why doesn’t he go down. Its as if he knows and does not want to short change the other team.

    We are blessed to have him even as he seems to be evolving.

    Thanks for your article

  9. CuleToon says:

    Pure unconsciuous in action. No ego. No thoughts.

  10. barca96 says:

    Legendary di Stefano didn’t make it. RIP

  11. georgjorge says:

    I like that piece a lot! My question, however, would be why it is that he doesn’t run very much anymore – I know the topic has been beaten to death around here, but if a player only wants to put the ball in the net and nothing else, I would suppose he’d actually make some more runs to increase his chances of doing that. An article I read claimed that he is finally so good that he only runs whenever he needs to, but there were plenty of games last season where some runs from him would at least have opened up some attacking channels for other players.

    • Jafri says:

      I dunno, I think he just can’t anymore… All those long long injuries must have left him in some way diminished. Maybe this is the effect?

    • abuiyad says:

      In the Ballague biography, he talks to the Barca medical staff and physios, who informed him that Messi has a particular condition (something to do with the blood and/or oxygen to the muscle)which allows him short bursts but makes the continuous running high risk for injuries. Messi is such a committed player, I cannot see that he just does this ‘lazy business’ cause he feels like it.

    • Peter says:

      If you’re talking about Barcelona, the whole team had become more static. Second, with Messi on the pitch teams defended en masse, which meant, really meant there was no point in running. No point in running if there are no channels to be exploited or no teammates to pass the ball to.

      If you’re talking about Argentina, Messi plays a more tactical role. He’s not on the pitch to score all the goals – Aguero, Di Maria, Lavezzi, Higuain and Palacio are all hitters. What Argentina lacks is creativeness. In attack Argentina basically play 4-2-3-1, with Higuain up front, Di Maria on the left, Lavezzi on the right(or switched the other way round) and Messi as the enganche.

      Enganche translated into English means connector, hook/hitch or coupling. IMHO the best description is the hitch ball that cars have to tow a trailer. That’s the player that links up the strikers with the midfield, the left and right wing. He’s the guy in “the hole”, but more importantly, he’s the one that connects all the parts into a whole. Messi has found out that he doesn’t really have to run most of the time. Most of the time his walking brings him into the desired position before he’s needed to be there. Often he encounters space, but even more often it seems as though space encounters him – and his walking at this point allows him to conserve his limited endurance for when it’s needed. Especially in the heat of Brazil, especially in games which can stretch up to 130 minutes.

      I believe that if given the chance Messi would run. However, in his position often it’s better to manage the runners than to do the running. As one axiom says, the best squadron leader is not the best fighter, but the best manager of fighters. :) That’s first.
      Second, Messi is most of the time not allowed to run. Against Switzerland he was marked constantly by two players. Against Nigeria and Iran he was often marked by three. Against Belgium the Belgians most of the time were trying to even the score, so the ball didn’t often arrive in his area – and with Di Maria missing Messi was the only really creative guy on the pitch. His job was getting the ball to the hitters up front, but most of the time his job was to slow down the pace of the game, use his menacing potential to force the Belgians back up their field, from where they would have to start running upfield again. In the second part the game could’ve ended 3-0 if Higuain had scored after that rush and if Messi had converted in his one-on-one with Courtois. Why? Because Argentina had the fresher team.

      • georgjorge says:

        Thanks for the detailed analysis! But while I can recall games in which the whole team (Barca) was static, I also can recall many in which everyone but him ran and ran (like the last game against Atlético) and where his runs opening up space for others would have made a difference.

        I’m still not convinced that there are not some (physical or mental) problems of Messi himself at the bottom of this, whether it be exhaustion, being tired of being marked by three men all the time, arrogance or whatever. We’ll probably not know for quite some time to come, but I just don’t think it’s only a matter of the tactical systems he plays in.

  12. hansh says:

    Thanks for the article, Kxevin. It reminds me strongly of this beautiful, beautiful video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSevQjIt1aQ, “Messi is a dog, a sick man – never dives”.

    I think it’s very interesting to think of Messi as a mirror for the emotions of the spectator. I know that all the time, I try to imagine what athletes must be feeling before/during/after they play. Some players give me a clue, but Messi hardly ever does, and I think this makes him all the more engrossing to pay attention to – I’m waiting for scraps of humanizing information about this man who is so, so good at his job that he seems superhuman. We all want to be able to relate to our sport heroes, I think, so we often make things up if nothing is forthcoming.

    But hopefully, for Messi’s sanity and our for ours, we can be content with only seeing the side of Messi that comes to life on the pitch. I know it brings me joy :)

  13. mr.undercover says:

    Great job kevin, no words can describe messi, as guardiola said, no words can describes him just enjoy watching him play

  14. Inamess1 says:

    Just to offer a different opinion on the Messi “doesn’t dive issue”. I look at how dangerous a player Robben has become because he does go down so often on contract.

    It always seemed liked a double standard for me to give opposition players free reign to do whatever they want to Messi. If Messi went down more often would, it not make him a more dangerous player because opposition players would be less likely to do this. Also, it would protect him more from injuries in the future as a result of reckless challenges.

    Maybe we wouldn’t see as many of these: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jR1n-dCQ2XQ

    • Levon says:

      Very true. But we also have to take into account that Messi plays in a league where bias amongst referees is enough that it might not be beneficial for him to go down too easily. I mean, it’s not like he wears a white shirt or anything…

  15. ooga aga says:

    thanks kxevin, great piece.

  16. Inamess1 says:

    Here is Nate Silver’s interesting piece that looks at the impact of the Neymar injury and Silva’s suspension for Brazil’s chances in the WC. It uses something like the goals scored vs allowed per 90 minutes on the pitch vs an average replacement player. Messi and Ronaldo rank first and second in this category. Here is what it says about Messi:

    “Based on data from his FC Barcelona games over the past two years, along with his recent play for Argentina, for instance, we estimate that Messi contributes about 0.65 goals per game relative to an average international footballer. (Almost all of that impact comes from Messi helping his team get more goals — only a little bit is defense or goal prevention.).”

    Neymar’s rating is very good, as he contributes .4 goals a game by this same measurement.

    The conclusion is that with Neymar and Silva out, Brazil and Germany become equal in their ratings, but Brazil still has a advantage due to favorable home officiating.

    Anyway, a lot of statistics to come to the conclusion that most of us would have had anyway: any team left is good enough to win the World Cup, but what it might come down to are those controversial refs who just might more likely to side with Brazil.

    Here is the article: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-neymars-injury-affects-brazils-chances-at-the-world-cup/

  17. madm702 says:

    Brilliant piece man…Messi is a mysterious and extraordinary human being. Someone once told me that everyone believes they are normal and the only differnce is that there are many kinds of normal.Messi problably thinks he is just playing footballing, enterprising and enjoying it but all of us watching see the kind of brilliance thats out of this world

    • Inamess1 says:

      Too bad. I kind of liked the Suarez as Rosa Parks meme. He had to bite Chiellini to get away from the club that treated him as a second-class citizen.

      There is another idea that I have also seen that has Suarez biting Chiellini so that Godin could score from the set piece and beat Italy. In this other meme, Suarez is a kind of Moses or MLK figure who made the ultimate self-sacrifice so his team could advance to the knockout rounds.

      So far this idea has not been discredited, so I’m keeping an open mind :-).

  18. Kxevin says:

    As the rumor mill continues to grind away, a couple of wholly unconfirmed bits continue to resurface:

    — Sanchez to Arsenal for somewhere around 40m. Liverpool has given up the chase, which will make the Suarez deal straight cash.

    — Dos Santos to Villarreal, Cuenca to Deportivo, no real rumors about Song (last buzz was talks with Inter) or Afellay. There is buzz about Tello that came and went.

    — With the Sanchez inclusion having sailed, the Suarez transfer will be money, which has significantly sped up the process. Rumor is that word will come down this week sometime.

    On another note, the club jettisoned its first team equipment manager of 32 years, Txema Corbella, on his first day back from vacation. Seems to have been a unilateral move by the first team manager, that took even the board by surprise. Damage control/cleanup is beginning, as negative reactions quickly sparked into life.

    At present, he is being offered “early retirement” or another job within the club.

    • hansh says:

      Here’s a link (Spanish) to the business about Txema Corbella: http://www.mundodeportivo.com/20140707/fc-barcelona/el-barca-prescinde-de-txema-corbella_54410849840.html. Apparently he is quite well-loved by the players, and no explanation was given for the decision.

      What a bizarre story.

      • Observer says:

        I guess he let them know his personal opinions regarding a sponsor going on the sleeve.

        It wont be too long when it’ll start looking like a cycling jersey or a Brazilian club team jersey. I guess Rosell picked up these trends while he was there!

        • Peter says:

          Mind telling me what’s the difference between the TV3 logo and the Beko logo?

          • CuleToon says:

            You mean the difference between the logo of the Catalan public TV and the logo of a Turkish appliance maker?

          • Jim says:

            Sounds like a straight swap for more money? Do we owe the TV company the right to pay less and still get the spot ? Just asking as folk here would think you were daft if you opted for the BBC logo over someone willing to pay more. Is there anything morally wrong with being a Turkish appliance maker?

            Let’s try to avoid board bashing again at every opportunity can we? If folk don’t want the board they’ll get the chance to vote them out in the proper way. So far it strikes me that despite a lot of talk there hasn’t been too much that has stuck. Latest sacking seems a bit harsh but as Kxevin says that would always be the manager’s call. Despite the warmth that we have an insider as manager again I get the feeling that he’ll ruffle a few feathers before he’s done and won’t be accused of wasting his chance to manage the club. Interesting times.

            I suspect if anything the board are alert to the potential bad publicity and are trying to lessen it or just maybe Bartomeu thinks we should treat employees with a bit more respect and he has my vote on that. In fact, I’m gonna say the guy has impressed me from the moment he came in. Couldn’t warm to Rosell although I usually ended up defending him against various accusations but I think this guy is someone who could , and so far is, doing a good job in difficult circumstances.

          • Peter says:

            I mean the difference between one shirt sponsor and another actually.

            However, if you want to put it this way, I also mean the difference between a foreign private entity(Beko) and a domestic public entity funded by public money (TV3) which sponsors a private football club.

            My point is that the people screaming about the sleeve sponsor tend to forget Barcelona has had a sleeve sponsor for quite a while. You may choose to look at it from the perspective of a non-commercial company, but you can also look at it from the perspective of using government funds to help a private company. That tends to rub people the wrong way, not to mention being looked at with bad eyes in the EU. From their perspective it’s not enough that Barcelona, Real Madrid, Osasuna and Athletic get preferential tax treatment(even though that’s BS in Barcelona’s case), but Barcelona also get government funding, something which no other club gets(except for Real Madrid, Athletic, Valencia, Elche, etc.)

            It doesn’t mean I have to like the logo, which probably means I will be getting the Champions League shirt(If I manage to get over my superstition – first time I bought Barcelona merchandise was during the 2011-12 season, then after the 2012-13 and during the 2013-14 season), but there are definite non-Barcelona-centric ethical points to consider.

          • Kxevin says:

            To my view, might as well go the full whore, and sell space on the players’ shorts, so as to fully amortize this fine product we are offering. Maybe Preparation H or a toilet paper company, so that the message really hits home, so to speak.

            I would also hope that the marketing folks are looking at selling that wee spot on the back of the collar where the Senyera customarily goes. After all, money is money, and Barça seems to be hell bent on transmogrifying from a Catalan institution to a business based in Catalunya.

            So in that context, of course you would jettison the local, Catalan public TV station for a higher bidder in a Turkish appliance maker.

            Duh.

          • BA says:

            exactly, Kxevin. why not just stamp SONY across Iniesta’s forehead and be done with it? selling the shirt will never sit well with me, not least because i remember a time when we were the only major club that didn’t have a sponsor’s logo shat across the front of our chests. i was proud of that. oh, and for those people who whine “but we need the money to compete”: we still won trophies then. we won the Sixtuple with Unicef on our shirts. think about that.

          • CuleToon says:

            .
            Kxevin: «…from a Catalan institution to a business based in Catalunya». There’s little more to say.

          • Inamess1 says:

            Agree with Peter on this one. With all the problems and scandals the leave is really not a big deal. Why isn’t everyone slamming Messi for endorsing every product under the sun at this WC?

            A club needs money to compete. We already sold our image so Qatar could fulfill their bizarre and shady footballing project. I wish we just went with McDonalds and Beko instead because it would have been less morally questionable.

          • Peter says:

            Personally I’d rather go with Beko than McDonald’s if I had to choose between the two. In general I’d rather go with say Johnson&Johnson or another company which has history of ethical excellence :D

            But I don’t see it as full-on whoring, in this I disagree with Kevin. TV3 was paying IIRC 2 million per year in order to have the logo on the sleeve of Barcelona. That’s a public TV station, available only in Catalunya(unless perhaps you have satellite TV) and IIRC it was already one of the most-viewed stations in Catalunya, if not the most viewed. For this reason it never sat okay with me. Why? Because that’s public money first and it looked suspiciously like preferential treatment and government assistance. With the same justification Real could start sporting the logo of Madrid’s City Hall/TVE1 on their sleeve for 20 million per year. Or even better, Agencia Tributaria(Tax Agency) could become the new shirt sponsor of Real Madrid for 60 million per year. In the end for me it’s misuse of public funds and the amount doesn’t really matter.

  19. fotobirajesh says:

    Kevin, I hope once Messi is retired someone like you or a journalist who have really followed him get to interview him. He wont mind talking then, I hope.

    Nice to see you again CuleToon

    • CuleToon says:

      Hi, fotobirajesh! I must be in lurking mode, since I have little time left. But I always find a moment to see how all of you at BfB are doing!

  20. Kxevin says:

    On another note, increasingly Sanchez to Arsenal is looking done and dusted, for north of 40m. Same with Suarez, for just under 80m.

    Once shoes start dropping, buzz is to expect CBs to follow soon after.

    • Jim says:

      I know there’s plenty time left so why am I still twitching that pre seasons are getting underway and we don’t seem to be close to capturing a CB yet? If Marquinhos is number one choice lets just pay whatever’s needed cos we’ll just end up doing that anyway. If he’s not let’s move on but I’ve a horrible feeling in my waters that we’ve hit dead ends in all our pursuits for a CB. Ok, I’m a worrier, I know ……

      • BA says:

        nah, we’ll spend Marquinho’s fee on yet another huge money striker, pursue him for peanuts til the last day of the window then decide that yes, Alex Song can play center-back after all. no faith in this board to not consistently fuck up major decisions regarding the team’s structure.

        Sanchez to Arsenal, if it happens, will be a damn shame but we won’t deserve him. seems like an odd move for them though; doesn’t Mesut Ozil play in his preferred CAM role?

        • Kxevin says:

          There are actually three stories floating around, and which one you believe depends on your view of the board/tech staff:

          1. We have done feck all, because the Suares signing has consumed all.

          2. We have Marquinhos and Mathieu pretty much lined up, and will close once we resolve Suarez.

          3. We have signings of CBs already made, and they will announced after the World Cup.

          • hansh says:

            Do you think that third option would indicate that the new CBs are still active in the World Cup? Just trying to figure out the politics of this, so to speak, like if they’re trying to avoid a situation like Cesc’s, who was criticized for being distracted by the Chelsea deal while in camp for Spain.

          • G6O says:

            It could be that they are still active (which would mean Hummels and I don’t really see who else), but it could also be that they want to generate as much attention to the signings as possible and they are waiting for the WC to end for that reason, as right now everyone’s thinking mostly about it

          • hansh says:

            Ah, that also makes sense. Thanks G60.

        • abuiyad says:

          Well, VV is without a club after Monaco screwed him over, and a Barca goalkeeper must be able to play as a CB anyway, right. See where Zubi might go with this:-)

        • G6O says:

          If we buy Suarez for 80 and sell Sanchez for 40, that’s 40M net spending, on top of the 9M net spending so far. So 49 in total. This looks to me like leaving a sufficient amount money for CBs, a RB, etc.

      • Inamess1 says:

        All this skepticism about the board I think is unfounded. If you actually knew what was going on on the inside, I think you would be reassured that these are capable, responsible men who are unified in the one goal of making our club the best it can be.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01hfwQL1QUg

  21. Inamess1 says:

    NeymarTYR! I think Brazil can win this.

  22. ibbe says:

    Woaaah..insane!

  23. ciaran says:

    If proof was needed that David Luiz isn’t a €50million player then this is it. He is a joke of a player and while I don’t blame him for the scoreline I am sure as hell happy that we dodged the bullet with his signing.
    Give me Masch at centreback any day ahead of him. I know I’m not a fan of Masch at CB but he is miles ahead of Luiz.

    • Jim says:

      A few thoughts on this nightmare for Brazil. First, this was a poor Brazil team so I’m not gonna waste much sympathy on them now that Neymar was out.

      However, after Luis’ performance I reckon our pursuit of a Marquinhos is over. No way PSG will let him go now.

      The other thought I’d offer is that I said in the last post that Neymar’s injury might turn out to be a blessing in disguise (although he wouldn’t see it as such ) because they weren’t good enough to win it even with him and he’d suffer if they fell short. After this it might take some of these players some time to get over it while Neymar will be raring to go for us.

      • Jim says:

        Meant to say Brazil has a bigger problem than this match if Fred and Hulk are two of the best forwards the country has produced. What has happened to their tradition of great forwards ?

    • Doug says:

      I don’t know – I think you could probably blame Luiz for at least 2-3 of those goals. He was just standing or jogging around. Maybe Silva made up for Luiz’s deficiencies.

      I completely agree – I am very happy David Luiz has not signed for Barca.

      • Puppet says:

        I’m of the same mind, relieved that David Luiz to Barca didn’t pan out.

        I’m very fond of him, and I think he’s a good footballer, just not a great CB–and definitely not 50 million great. Much like Pique, when paired with a good leader who can mask his weaknesses, he can be freed up to actually have a positive effect for his team (particularly in transition to attack). But because he lacks that leadership and strong positional sense, he would NOT have been the answer to our center back problem.

        That may be oversimplifying it a bit. But I think that’s a big reason why Masche isn’t going anywhere, despite his limitations as a CB.

  24. georgjorge says:

    I think we should buy us some Germans…

  25. Jamal102 says:

    Umm so about Argentina even having a chance of winning this World Cup…

  26. KEVINO17 says:

    You’d think the Germans would at least let them score. What lousy guests.
    Martin Tyler said that he spoke to Wenger just before the game and was told the deal with Sanchez was basically done.

  27. ciaran says:

    David Luiz lost his head and tried to maim Muller. Referee handled it well considering the circumstances…

    • barca96 says:

      Mueller got the ball so I really don’t understand why Luiz reacted the way he did. It could’ve been dangerous yeah but he wasn’t even touched. He should think about how opposing players who has been at the wrong end of his team maters’ challenges.

      Luiz should’ve gotten a yellow there.

  28. ciaran says:

    The comeback is on…

  29. Ryan says:

    Such a crazy game. I was a bit surprised by the delight my Spanish family members had in Brazil’s loss, but they probably didn’t like the reception Spain got from the Brazilian fans.

    The way the game was going, I thought Muller would bag several more goals and take Klose’s record himself!

  30. Jafri says:

    Dear God in heaven…

  31. barca96 says:

    Blitzkrieg!!

    I’m torn on who should go to the final between Holland or Argentina. Do I want my home country to progress or Messi?

    But now I’m even more torn, which one would hurt more for me to see losing in the final, Holland losing in two successive finals for the 2nd time in their history or Messi?

    I honestly didn’t find Germany that good ala Bayern 2012-13 but they’re just so efficient with clinical. In a match vs Holland, it’ll be 60-40. Against Argentina. I wouldn’t be surprised if they at least match the score line in South Africa. Argentina is just not a team atm. They’re even worse than Brazil. Brazil went unconvincingly to the semi final but at least they met strong opponents on the way but Argentina went through unconvincingly beating really inferior teams.

    • Jim says:

      I’m not sure. I thought they started to show signs of playing as a team in their last match. Aguero seems to be fit. Still Holland will be tough to beat and Messi better watch his ankles.

    • Remember the Germany which destroyed Argentina in 2010 also looked this efficient. But when they met Spain, they couldn’t touch the ball. The bottom line is Germany is highly effective, but this destruction was due to Brazil alone.

    • posthipsterpope says:

      How is this even a question? There are certain players I love and could never even imagine rooting for them over my country, even with all the problems it has.

      Without any snark, why do you even care, I mean really care, if Messi wins a World Cup, simply to improve the argument that he’s better than Ronaldo/Maradona/Pele/etc.?

      I could maybe imagine this more if you were Brazilian or Italian or Spanish and had watched your country achieve success, but the Netherlands are the greatest footballing nation to never win the WC.

      • Gekko64 says:

        By the same logic, why do you even care if your country wins? Choosing to support one team over another is completely arbitrary, you don’t get a penny out of their victory ;)

  32. Lord Eddard Stark aka Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one says:

    ALL CULERS!
    SPARE A MOMENT TO PRAY FOR ARGENTINA!
    FOR MESSI AND MASCH!

    I don’t know how the hell they can go on to win this thing against these beasts.

  33. agar2515 says:

    Feel so sorry for the Brazilian people but not for the government that sold them out and for that ahole Scolari. Also, THANK YOU PSG for taking David Luiz. Walking disaster made to look good by Silva.

    • Inamess1 says:

      Silva’s shenanigans with the Columbian keeper proved to be costly indeed. Brazil probably wouldn’t have won, but he could have at least saved his nation from a collective trauma and embarrassment. The guy should have to watch films of this game and the Brazilians spectators crying for a long time as punishment.

    • G6O says:

      $10 billion for this… this has to hurt.

      If you remember, in the beginning of the tournament people were very afraid what might happen if Brazil go out early, but then games were mostly great and that discussion mostly died down. Well, they did not go out early, but the manner in which they went out is such that I am really afraid what the reaction might be…

    • It is easy to blame Luiz but I don’t see him at fault atleast fror the initial goals. Muller was not his man to pick Fernandinho probably was at fault in first. For me the two guys responsible were the two holding midfielder. When you are playing with two flying fullbacks the two holding midfielder is crucial. Whenever Luiz tried to cover the space vacated by Marcelo, none of the DMs moved back and occupied his slot. Result a carnage.

  34. G6O says:

    This has to be the most shocking result in football history — an even bigger upset than the 1953 England – Hungary 3-6.

    But it should be a lesson to us cules too – one should never let temporary failures lead to the abandonment of one’s identity, because eventually you end up in an even worse situation…

    This is the result of decades of focusing more on the production of midfield destroyers and physically imposing players, and playing mostly through the flanks, bypassing the midfield. And in the end Brazil found themselves in a situation in which they have almost no world-class playmakers, none of the highly technical strikers they used to have and a succession of coaches openly embracing some highly negative tactics…

    This is not the direct reason why they lost 7-1. But it is what set them up for it.

    1) You are under immense pressure to win the WC as you are the host and the most successful nation in the history of the game
    2) But you are also its least talented generation in four decades, and if us fans know it, you can be sure the players were aware of it too in the back of their minds. So you are in the highly undesirable situation in which you are under enormous pressure to succeed while you know you probably do not have what it takes to do it.
    3) You lose your savior figure and your captain.
    4) Then you go down a goal early on and you can imagine what sort of mental breakdown this triggered, and even more so after the second goal – Germany scored three more in the next 6 minutes, and what happened after that is basically irrelevant…

    So while it’s not that the 7-1 accurately reflects the power balance between the two nations, Brazil did a lot over the last three decades to put themselves in a situation, in which such a development of the game was possible. And it happened.

    This could be a positive for them though. This is actually much worse than 1950, and so just as 1950 and 1982 did, it will trigger a fundamental rethinking of Brazilian football, and we might again see them win two or three WCs in the coming decades if they got it right. The problem is that they got it right after 1950, but in the 1980s they only got it right as far as results are concerned – they had a good run in the 1990s and in the early 00s, but long-term, the changes that were made were deeply harmful and we saw the consequences today…

  35. bhed says:

    With the money we’re supposedly going to pay for Suarez, was there really no way to have gotten Hummels? He didn’t have too much to do today, but I did notice during the anthems that he’s much taller than I originally had thought!

    I find myself agreeing with one of Kxevin’s recent despairing comments to the effect of it’s one thing to support a club that going through a rough patch, but this current management is making it really hard to feel any kind of pride whatsoever. I will of course continue to follow and support FCB, but dayum, it would help if the board gave me something to be positive about. This Suarez affair, and by extension this Sanchez affair, is having the opposite effect.

  36. Kxevin says:

    On TalkSport today, Wenger confirmed that Sanchez is done to Arsenal. Numbers are obviously all over the place, but most recent one is (GB Pounds) 27.5+3.

    He will be very good in the Prem, with the space and running/counterattacking that they do, and I rather imagine that he will be getting to run the team in a way that he never was going to be able to at Barça.

    Imagine the Suarez shoe will be dropping shortly after that.

    • BA says:

      such a damned shame. (yet another!) stupid, stupid, shortsighted decision by our board. Alexis has clearly been growing into this team and is unarguably a versatile, extremely hardworking, humble player. he’s Barça material through and through; while playing away from his best position and thus sacrificing a big part of his career for the good of our team. 47 goals in 141 games from a wing during 3 difficult rebuilding years is an excellent return for a young player, and it appears like he’ll only get better. he’s only 25.

      his replacement, meanwhile, is a disgrace to professional football. period. end of. i don’t care if he’s got 2 of Leo Messi’s left feet, i don’t care how good a player he is. supporting Barça used to mean that you supported an inclusive, professional, principled club. those are the things we still try to teach to our young kids at La Masia. what lessons are those young kids, the future of a club that relies so heavily on homegrown talent, learning from our signing of Luis Suarez? that if you’re good enough, or your agent is good enough, you can do whatever vile things you want and get a big payday despite it?

      this “deal” stinks worse for our club than anything Real Madrid has done in decades. it seems as though i must continue to be disgusted by the actions of a club i’ve loved more than any professional team in any sport, in my whole life.

      • Nav says:

        Maybe Sanchez wanted to transfer.

      • agar2515 says:

        Saving most of my breath for the article here that will come
        With the Suarez signing . For now I’ll just echo that Alexis is going to a place where he can trully thrive and be the Alexis that lit it up with chile this summer. If he’s being let go then he’s not in Lucho’s plans, the start of the new era was bound to have some unpopular casualties and decisions made .

    • I think its a great deal for the club and the player. First of all at Barca he wouldn’t be able to play the game like he wants. His style does not fit ours. In Premier League it will work especially in Arsenal where they have lacked a leader in attack many times. Wenger should understand his style and use him as a No.10 not as center forward.

      • Inamess1 says:

        I expected Sanchez wanted to leave this summer. He may be able to become one of the best 20 players in world football but just not with Barca. Looks like we will get a decent price for him, so I don’t know how you can fault the club on this one.

        • Kxevin says:

          I explain a bit more below, but it strikes me as a good deal, particularly for a player who wanted to leave. His value will never be higher. There’s also a certain bit of mirth I find in the social media world as many who previously found him worthless and a bottler are now screaming that the price the club allegedly got for him wasn’t high enough.

          • Lord Eddard Stark aka Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one says:

            Can’t wrap my head around how you can call it a good deal.

  37. Lord Eddard Stark aka Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one says:

    27.5 Million quid is an absolute disaster of a selling price for an Alexis Sanchez at his prime, when his stock will never be higher.
    What are these guys thinking?
    Surely with many clubs interested in his services, 36-40M Pounds is an easily gettable sum.
    WTF!

  38. Lord Eddard Stark aka Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one says:

    David Luiz sold for 63 Million Euros!
    Just think about that for a second.
    To a team that already had the likes of Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Alex etc. I don’t understand how this works.

  39. Kxevin says:

    Have explained it before, but it’s worth repeating:

    At the prices that top players command, the playing field and ultimately price, is limited by the available suitors. Sanchez has value, a number determined by what the club can get for him, and whether it can keep him. If you want to extract maximum value for a player, the club has to be more than willing to keep that player if its number isn’t met.

    Athletic is very good at that, because they don’t have big-money deals waiting for the other shoe to fall. Other big clubs, it’s usually a buy/sell or sell/buy thing, where X player goes when Y player is lined up.

    If Sanchez wanted to leave, the most likely scenario, that further limits the negotiating flexibility of a club, because the player is then impossible to keep, and you have to take the highest offer.

    In the realm of clubs who could pay in the neighborhood of 40m for a player, you have to look at who was going to. Lots of rumors, but really only Liverpool (as a Suarez makeweight … never going to happen … impossible situation for an attacker), Juventus (couldn’t pay the freight) and Arsenal were in the running. Arsenal had the money and the interest. The rest is history.

    It’s also worth noting that NOBODY will know what the real price is for Sanchez (or Suarez, for that matter). There will be numbers out there, and those numbers will be ones that suit someone’s purposes.

    If the club was going to sell Sanchez, now is the perfect time. And that’s that.

    • Lord Eddard Stark aka Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one says:

      “At the prices that top players command, the playing field and ultimately price, is limited by the available suitors.”

      hmm..How many suitors did higuain or raul albiol or callejon have?
      Isn’t this alexis sanchez we are talking about? Hot property!
      25 years of age, peaking. Also note that this is only the start of the transfer season. We are in no desperation to sell him off right now. I can understand these low sums if we were to sell him in the very end, much like the crap Ibra fee we got from AC.
      Also he has no short of suitors. Juventus want him. Liverpool want him. Man city want him and Arsenal want him. I am sure if he were to be placed openly on the market, we would get several more offers from several teams who can greatly use his unique services. Why not initiate a bidding war? What is the desperation for us to sell him so early and so low?

      • Jim says:

        If other big clubs actually put in an offer I’m sure we’d accept it but the third party, the player, also has to want it. We’re dealing in unknowns here. We don’t even know if he’s leaving because he wanted to, because he’s not in LE’s plans or just because we need money for other players. I think it is fair to say though that if Man City really wanted him Arsenal would struggle to match financially, even given the fair play situation.

      • Kxevin says:

        RM was willing to keep them. If the player wants to move, the club is best served making the move happen.

        The Sanchez deal has to happen so that the Suarez deal can happen, since Liverpool want a straight cash transaction. That also worked in favor of the buyer.

        The crap deal you reference for Ibrahimovic you can lay at the feet of Guardiola, who wanted Ibrahmovic gone, and there was AC Milan.

        As for the teams who “want” him, don’t believe rumors. Liverpool wanted him, but he was never going to go into that situation. You can’t win replacing Suarez at Liverpool, and Arsenal allegedly had much better salary numbers. Juventus didn’t bid as high as Arsenal, and weren’t willing to, nor could they match the salary that Arsenal could. City were never in. No reason for them to be.

        So all roads lead to The Emirates.

        The best thing for people is to step back from transfer news, and consider the situation from all angles. If you do that with Sanchez, it’s good business.

  40. Jim says:

    From Barcastuff: Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen (27) is one of the alternatives at centre back. Barcelona already follow him since he played at Ajax. [md]

    Starting to look like a lowering of sights ? Or a ploy to make it seem like we’ll walk away from the big ones? I’m starting to like the tactic of ignoring it till it happens :) The season is almost with us and the stress batteries don’t feel recharged at all.

    Btw, on a more somber note, Barcastuff also reporting a close friend of Messi’s killed in car crash today in Brazil. Thoughts for his family and this year doesn’t get any easier for Leo.

    • barca96 says:

      I think the Vertonghen rumors are related to Matthieu and not the bigger fish CB that we’re going for. I think Vertonghen is good actually even better but I’m not sure if he can play LB. I know he played there for Spurs last season and in the World Cup but not great.

      Ah what a sad few days for Messi. Must be tough for him. Hopefully he’ll be able to overcome another heartbreak.

  41. barca96 says:

    My little sister bought 2 jerseys last night, a Holland jersey and an Argentina jersey with Messi. Searched everywhere yesterday from an original kids jersey but couldn’t find it so at last we decided to just get replica jerseys. So she’s been wearing the Argentina jersey today while me and my brother wore Oranje.

    Naturally we will buy a Holland jersey since our Dad is from Holland. I asked her why she wants an Argentina jersey, she said because we (me and my younger brother always talk about Messi and Argentina lol). She insisted on getting Messi’s name and number printed last night :)

    She’s a big fan since young actually. Her first words were Asana derived from Barcelona and instead of singing lullabies she was singing el Cant del Barca (gibberish).

    Btw later on that night she told me that a boy from a TV show looks like Messi. I looked up and he does look like Messi :lol:
    http://s1290.photobucket.com/user/fadzlirealtor/media/IMG_15041_zps1bd245e1.png.html

    Here’s my lil sister in action kicking the ball mid air something she just got it right a few days ago;
    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwnZVC88yfc

    ps extras Barca team bus
    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJIupYheAYo
    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGg3Wu_1d6s

    Sorry for the poor quality. Was recorded in HD but when we upload videos directly from an iPhone, it’ll compress the video. It needs to be uploaded from the computer. The phone is lost so unfortunately I will never get the HD version :(

  42. Inamess1 says:

    Looks like we are again in the mode of arguing for days over Sanchez’s selling price. Is it a fair price. No. Is our club good at getting top dollar for its players. No. Should we spend the next few days arguing about what we should have gotten for Sanchez? It is up to the people on this forum.

    The facts:

    1) Alexis wants to leave.

    2) The club wants Suarez instead of Alexis. We already made fools of ourselves by all but praising him for his World Cup bite and his transfer is about to be announced.

    3) Is there a way the club could get more for Alexis? Yes. We engage in brinksmanship. We say we will keep Alexis unless Arsenal pay 40 mil and he will remain with our club until the end of our transfer ban.

    Is our club going to do that and is our threat believable? No. Alexis doesn’t have a place in the squad anymore and we are in a position of having a player who doesn’t want to stay and we no longer need (i.e. Ibra). We are also not a rich club and we are desperate for the money to fulfill our other transfer needs this summer.

    Trying to get more for Alexis would be like playing poker like this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35JqvUlbiy4

    Not going to work.

  43. kenny says:

    -Villarreal pay 1.5M for Barcelona midfielder Jonathan dos Santos (24), plus an extra 0.5M if they qualify for Champions League. [ser]
    -He will sign for 5 seasons and will finally be reunited with his brother.

    • Kxevin says:

      (Sound of a man passing out)

    • 86ed says:

      One year late, but finally JdS has made a smart decision.

      I honestly still struggle understanding why he stayed last year. He can’t have seriously thought Martino would have played him in more than a scrap of games. I understand he had a serious injury, but still. If you’re 23, as he then was, and you’re still not any closer even to making the bench regularly, then it is wiser to shake hands and move on.

    • georgjorge says:

      When I was still playing football myself at the age of twelve or thirteen, I got a big trophy for having attended the most training sessions of all players over the years (can you say consolation price…?). I think Dos Santos should get a similar “trophy” as he leaves, something for faithful and loyal service to the club over the years despite no chance of ever actually being allowed to enter the field.

      • Kxevin says:

        In all seriousness, JDS is a very, very talented player with the great misfortune of coming up in a team of legends, current and in the making. He should do very well at Villarreal.

    • This is good for him and also for Mexico national team. Gio will be able to guide him. If they forge a partnership then Mexican football is for some exciting time.

  44. Inamess1 says:

    I was looking at this NYT article about Brazil’s loss and was struck by this sentence:

    “The record will show that Brazil played this match without its top scorer, Neymar, who was injured in the quarterfinals, as well as without its top defender, the captain Thiago Silva, who was suspended. As important as both players were to Brazil, however, it is difficult to imagine either one having made much of a difference.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/09/sports/worldcup/world-cup-2014-host-brazil-stunned-7-1-by-germany-in-semifinal.html?ref=sports

    This is what bothers me so much about retrospective football analysis. All victories and defeats seem inevitable in hindsight. I am certainly no fan of Brazil and the way they played in the WC, but to say that Neymar and Silvs wouldn’t have made much of a difference just seems like an irresponsible statement.

    If Messi gets injured before the match today and Holland wins 7-1, is it then obvious that Messi wouldn’t have made much of a difference? That’s not the way I understand football matches.

    • G6O says:

      It would most definitely not have been 7-1 had T. Silva and Neymar played.

      But it remains true that there are very deep problems with Brazilian football and this is the culmination of more than two decades of misguided policies.

    • The point that is made in the article is about the problems with this current Brazil team. These were two teams which made them looked better. Even with Neymar and Silva I would have gone for a German win.

  45. barca96 says:

    I’m surprised that it’s still 0-0. But Holland has been slow starters in all their matches so far.

    I hope Mascherano is still 100%.

  46. barca96 says:

    Argentina looks so much better in possession without Gago. Rojo is making a big difference too. He’s like a Alves 2006-2011.

  47. georgjorge says:

    Watching my first Argentina game this World Cup…I sure hope that Enrique has the communication skills and backup to get Messi to run again (and then of course not put him on the field for every damn match), because if the Argentina games are any indication he’s not really motivated/not able to do very much of it anymore, even less so in defense than in offense.

  48. bhed says:

    Is there really no better option than Perez for DiMaria? He’s looked thoroughly indecisive and a bit intimidated in the first half.

  49. barca96 says:

    It’s going to take a magical moment like Frank de Boer – Bergkamp for any of these teams to win. It could be Mascherano Messi or Robben Sneijder.

  50. bhed says:

    That looked onside to me.

  51. bhed says:

    Time for Messi to write some history.

  52. barca96 says:

    I really wonder what Messi is saving himself for. Is he still carrying the injury or he just doesn’t have anymore motivation? It’s hard to believe the latter since it’s the World Cup semi final. He just never looked the same ever since his last hamstring injury.

    • G6O says:

      He did look the same – in the first 20 minutes after he came back. But that was it.

      And this is very very worrisome to watch – he still looks slow and he just can’t get past defenders with the same ease. That said, hopefully he has a great final.

      • barca96 says:

        Yeah he surprisingly did ok for a while. Inconsistent and then it just faded. He still scores a ton of goals but he’s half the player he is. I said before the injury already that Messi’s peak won’t be in the normal age of 27-30 like other players. Messi is different. And the hamstring injury just made it worse.

        He still has enough talents and he is smart and thankfully he has a good head above his shoulders and a right attitude so he can still continue at the top level for many years to come. We just have to stop expecting him to continuously beating players on the run and being so involved in the game. He’ll have less touches on the ball.

        • Inamess1 says:

          Great comment! Despite the fact that we say we don’t understand Messi, I think we do more than we think. Messi must know that his days when he can do it all on his own are over and is probably getting sick of other teams going into each match preoccupied with stopping him.

          This probably played a role in our unapologetic quest to get Suarez. Maybe the club doesn’t fully believe that Messi can form this telepathic connection with Neymar so not only are we rid of Messi-dependency but also the can Messi form a telepathic connection with Neymar question.

          Sucks that we are going to have to wait months to see if these three will click.

      • georgjorge says:

        It’s less what he does with the ball that I’m frustrated about than what he does without it – i.e. nothing at all.

  53. bhed says:

    2 great chances in a row, fluffed.

  54. bhed says:

    Masch has been consistently excellent.

  55. bhed says:

    Who’d have thought Romero would be the hero in the end?

  56. Jim says:

    Yes! Argentina through, Dutch are out !

  57. barca96 says:

    I’m so so happy for Messi. I’m gonna pray for him to perform in the final.

    Since I’m 50-50 I don’t really mind but the only person I wouldn’t mind missing the penalty was Sneijder. Van Gaal made 2 mistakes by electing Ron Vlaar to take the penalty and not putting Krul in. Krul is taller so has a higher chance of stopping the ball if he gambles right and we all saw how he stopped the penalties.

  58. Peter says:

    Who was saying Maschete should’ve been sold? Not Jefecito, JEFEZAZO!

    For those who are counting, the last time Argentina went to the final, Messi was kicking around a ball that was half as big as him.

    • ciaran says:

      In fairness, I was one of those who suggested that he could be sold as I don’t believe that he is right for us at CB. At DM playing consistently for the first time in a number of seasons he has been an animal and I would argue deserves to start ahead of Busquets at the start of next season on recent form.

      I still believe that he is wrong for us at CB but I would love to have him behind a few midfield creators which he sorely misses with Argentina. Rakitic, Iniesta and Rafinha are miles ahead of Biglia, Gago and Perez in terms of creativity and ability on the ball.

      I would like one of the two centrebacks that we sign to be Rojo. He has characteristics that would be very helpful to us in both central and wide positions. Defending 40 yards from goal his physicality would be incredibly beneficial and as an alternative at left back would give us solidity for tougher opponents. For a long time I’ve been arguing for Hummels or Benatia as the first choice but in reality as long as it isn’t a €40m deal for the unproven Marquinhos I’ll be happy.

      Many congratulations to Messi for getting to the final and I hope he wins the trophy for his country.

      • barca96 says:

        And I really like his fighting spirit. He was hurt twice but continued playing without wasting any time. He was the same in the Argentina match. Just kept on playing. He’s very fresh. Doesn’t want to waste time. I really like that. Him and Bartra are future stars.

        But Alba is very good too so I’m not sure if it’s a good move to sign Rojo.

        Which do you guys prefer as a back up for LB and CB?
        Rojo, Matthieu or Vertonghen?

      • Peter says:

        Mascherano is not a CB, but after four years at Barcelona he’s a DM who knows how to play as a an excellent make-shift CB. I agree with you, he should be played at DM, but man it’s nice to know Barcelona have such a commanding character. That was why I was absolutely against selling him. You just can’t buy esprite de corps. You can’t buy that experience.

        I also agree about Rojo – and Hummels would make Pique move his skinny ass. Rojo has potential, but what’s more, I think the guy would provide competition for Bartra. Basically this is why I have no problems with Marquinhos – I think if Luis Enrique declares the second CB spot up for grabs, then Bartra and Marquinhos/Rojo would show their best side. If Rojo is available, then awesome.

    • 86ed says:

      I was.
      One good series of games does not invalidate another, longer series of poor games (played, albeit, in a different position altogether).

  59. PrinceYuvi says:

    MASCHE !!
    Busi better find another position to play.

    • barca96 says:

      Mascherano is better is last ditch tackles. It’s nice to see but Busi doesn’t need to do that as he usually kills the attack higher up the pitch. That’s why there is hardly any eye catching moments from Busi.

    • BA says:

      why choose? why not play BOTH Masch and Busquets in a double pivote? it would certainly shore up our defensive frailties. and with Neymar, Iniesta, Messi and (not Alexis) a left-sided attacking player ahead of them, why would we worry about scoring goals?

      our 4-3-3 is a bit too orthodox when not firing on all cylinders, especially now without Xavi who was its real engine.

  60. agar2515 says:

    One more game. Grande Masche and Leo.

  61. psalmuel says:

    So Smasche was this good and we put him at CB? That aint fair to me, he played a better all-round game than busi would, kept Robben out of the game! He should be starting in midfield or it aint gonna be right.

  62. HisR0yalFlyness says:

    1 more game to go. Messi needs to go all out and silence the critics. This is his moment.

  63. Jamal102 says:

    Lucho please put Masche as CDM.
    Please.

  64. Manish says:

    I never thought i would see this day… so happy..just so happy.. my 20 year old baby says Messi to any footballer she see’s on the tele.. she’s my lucky charm..superstitious.. whatever.. Go Argentina.. Masch was so so immense..he was perfect..

  65. Nav says:

    I’m so god damned happy.

  66. Mascherano what a player! I know there are calls to have Mascherano as the DM. For all his skills that may not work at Barca. All his life he has shone as a part of a double pivot in teh middle. He has struggled as a single man holding midfielder. But then again if coach is looking to have a double pivot of Masc and Busq that coudl be quite extra ordinary.

    BUt this not how we should use him. I have a better use. I have argued for this many times last season. but now since Luis Van Gaal has showed the world again that a 3-4-3 still works and is pretty stable, how about Mascherano as a a central defender in a 3-4-3. He could be spectacular in a Franz Beckenbauer role, a libero who is pretty much offensive. He have got enough pace to act as a modern libero who sits behind the defense and can charge up the pitch. A 3-4-3 will also give us a man advantage in midfield against opposition who actually flood the midfield with bodies.

  67. If the reported price of Sanchez of 27 Million is true, then I think that will be good for us. I don’t think he will fetch us anything more. We bought him for 38 Million or so. I was one of the rare few who was dead against his signing. He is a different type of player than we need. He would work well at Barca provided we sell Messi. His skillset coincides a lot with No.10 role. But then in Messi we have a No.9 and No.10 combined. So it’s better we sell him. He needs a team which will use him to his strengths.

    His work rate has never been a question. A team like Arsenal will love to have him. We never signed him for his work rate. When he arrived it was told that he will score goals tons of them. That didn’t happen for sure. Regardless of that I would sum up him in one sentence – “Great Player, stuck up in Wrong role and team”.

  68. barca96 says:

    Thank you Empire State management for lighting the beautiful building blue, white and yellow;
    https://twitter.com/EmpireStateBldg/status/487008028152307712/photo/1

  69. Inamess1 says:

    A lot of things have been said about Argentina so far but the common denominator is that they have always done just enough to beat their opponents no matter how good or bad. Is that Sabella’s genius or just his incredible luck? This is also the guy who would have beat Barca too if not for a last minute Pedro header and some Messi magic, so there must be something to his ruthless pragmatism.

    Argentina have conceded 3 goals this WC. Amazingly, this is one more than either Spain gave up in 2010 or Italy in 2006. Maybe Scolari’s tactics make more sense given these results. Take Thiago Silva and Neymar out of the picture, and the rest was just a house of cards.

    • G6O says:

      Scolari very much did not set up to play defensively against the Germans. Had he done that, this would not have happened.

      They were suicidal

      • Inamess1 says:

        Absolutely. Zonal marking did an analysis that particularly emphasized Marcelo’s suicidal forays up the left flank.

        http://www.zonalmarking.net/2014/07/09/germany-7-1-brazil-germany-record-a-historic-thrashing/

        I’m am just trying to understand the worst result in World Cup history and why Brazil were such a different team without Neymar and Silva. No leadership, no defensive spine, no focal point of attack. Just interested if Scolari knew in the back of his mind whether this kind of defeat was possible and what his strategy was going into the match.

        Germany and Bayern have run riot on many teams before including F.C.B. Maybe Bayern may have ravaged Real Madrid too had they scored first and Pepe and Ramos not had outstanding performances. The key for Argentina, I assume, will be to do everything possible to prevent Germany from scoring first.

  70. that was a crazy match!

    i’m admittedly several beer into the night, but goddamn. everyone and their grandmother had argentina scoring 10 goals to the 9 they let in, and yet here we are after 6 games and how many goals? i have to say, it’s been so intense to watch these 120 minute games, but MASCH has really shown his stuff. holy shit! and MESSI! jesus.

    props to romero as well. his second save in penalties was fantastic. he’s had an amazing world cup.

    • barca96 says:

      But you gotta look at the opposition that they have to face so far. Iran, Bosnia, Nigeria (conceded 2!), Swiss, Belgium and Holland. All of them bar Holland and Belgium are not really a force to be reckoned with. Holland couldn’t even score against Costa Rica in normal time.

      Germany will really be a big test for Argentina. Their midfield have to be better. Mascherano is fighting a lonely battle there. He’s their creative player & defensive player in the middle of the park and on top of that he needs to constantly bail out his defense.

      Argentina’s defense did better now that Fernandez is dropped and Rojo is back but their CB’s are still suspect.

      Last but not least, Messi has to play football, not just standing around. He did dribble a lot last night but besides that he didn’t do much. And most of his action were in the first half. After getting stopped by Vlaar & co. a couple of times, he suddenly stopped trying.

      I don’t buy tired excuse. Every player in the tournament has played massive minutes. Messi was injured in the middle of the season so had a mini break. And in the World Cup itself he had a break in the Nigeria match, so I’m really not buying into it. Unless he is still carrying an injury.

      During the season people said that he is saving for the World Cup but ever since he got into the KO stages, he stopped trying hard. Against Belgium he still had some moments, but last night in the 2nd half was hurtful for me to watch.

      Please don’t see me as a hater. I love him, so much until I am split between my country and him. That’s how much I love him but it’s so painful to see him not moving in the semi final of a World Cup.

  71. barca96 says:

    I finally had some spare time and straight away read this.

    Messi got off the plane, ducked his head and hunched his shoulders up around his ears as he scurried past the guy. It wasn’t really a “No autographs” stance as much as a guy who just wanted to get to that thing he wanted, the ball, or preparing to be with the ball. I don’t have time for that other stuff.

    I don’t know. He may be shy or an introvert but as a role model, an idol, he should be more open and welcome his adoring fans. I don’t mean that he needs a full PR team, just be more open like Neymar, Pinto, Alves. It doesn’t hurt to be friendly to people who idolize you.

    • abuiyad says:

      I took my son to the Camp Nou and Messi was happy to meet him after a game, sign a Barca cap for him and say a few words (Spanish so the boy had no idea what he said, but still:-)

      He is a shy person and also focused. In Balague’s book the Barca medical staff said that tests have shown that Messi has a ‘condition’ that requires him to run less, as he takes longer to recover when consistently over-exerting his leg muscles. Despite appearing lazy he still ratchets up better stats almost in all the games he plays (recovered balls, taking on players, etc)

  72. barca96 says:

    Michael Jordan, of whom it is said the Bulls had to try to stop him from playing all the time

    I asked you this a couple of times over the years but I think you missed them.

    I didn’t get to watch live games during the Stockton-Malone, Magic and Jordan era. I only got to watch live games during Lakers era with Kobe and Shaq. During the Lakers era, up until now the star players get rest whenever the team has a strong lead or just to give them rest. And when they have a >15 points lead in the 4th quarter, the star players suit up and never join the game anymore.

    Was it the same in the 90’s and before that? I really like this method and I think it should be applied to football as well.

    In terms of mid game rest, it can’t be applied to football obviously as they don’t use rolling subs. What I do think should be done by Pep and Tito in the past is to take Messi off sometimes when we have a 2 goal cushion past the 60-70th minute mark.

    I do think that it will make a difference in a 50+ games season. I’m not a fan of players rested only when there are 5 mins left. No point in that. Won’t make much of a difference. But taking a player off in 60-70th minute does make a difference.

    • G6O says:

      Phil Jackson controlled Jordan’s minutes.

      However, if you go back further into history, it was a lot more common for players to play the whole 48 minutes.

      Wilt Chamberlain once averaged 48.5 minutes per game.

      • barca96 says:

        Thanks guys.

        A basketball game’s duration is 48 mins. So I assume Chamberlain’s teams went into extra time a lot?

        Good comparison Inamess. Strange that I’ve never heard his name before. I guess because a pitcher’s name doesn’t come up as often as a batter (from the homerun records).

    • Inamess1 says:

      Another analogy would be the role of relief pitchers in modern baseball. Modern sports has come to terms with the limitations of the human body over time. Some pitchers before this had pitched themselves out of baseball with 3 days rest between starts and pitching complete games. Some examples were Sandy Koufax and Catfish Hunter. Koufax’s dominance from 1963-66 was comparable with Leo’s from 2010-2013.

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/k/koufasa01.shtml

      It hard to know what happened in Leo’s case, but it does seem we were playing him too much for too long a time and trying to get Leo back too soon after his injury against PSG may have been a huge mistake.

      • hansh says:

        (I’m going to hijack this post because) I love Sandy Koufax! I never thought I’d see one of my favorite baseball players mentioned on here. Have you read Jane Leavy’s fantastic biography of him, Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy?

        • Inamess1 says:

          Thanks! Yes, I have. Koufax was way before my time but I always thought his story an incredible one. The Messi parallels are a bit of a stretch, but the complete dominance, the distaste for the spotlight, the injuries, and the anatomic anomalies are not.

          Would have loved to have seen Koufax in his prime. I will just have to settle for Messi.

  73. barca96 says:

    “The penalty series is always a matter of luck,” X said. “And, of course, I taught Romero how to stop penalties so that hurts.”

    Guess who X is :lol:

    Apparently the reason why Vlaar took the 1st kick was because 2 players chickened out and the reason Krul didn’t go in was because RvP was on his last legs.

  74. 86ed says:

    It was a horrible game last night, but Sabella got his tactics right.
    That’s what you do to a defensive team like Holland.
    This is what happens when when team plays like Chelsea and the other would rather not take a chance.

  75. Kxevin says:

    The BBC said equivalent of EUR44m for Sanchez. The club apparently slipped and posted the announcement of the transfer early this a.m., then took it down quickly.

  76. Ultraculé says:

    What’s up everyone!

    I’ve been itching to say this for quite a while, so will do so now.

    – For 3 years I have been defending and singing praises of Alexis Sanchez and his value. Throughout times when 90% of BFBers including some mods were calling for his head, branding him as wasteful and not Barca quality. I find the recent noise to not sell him and the supposed figure being low laughable.

    How folks can change.

    – On an exact similar note, I have been an ardent fan of Mascherano. Always believed that even when played out of position, he has performed admirably and most times during the past 2 seasons, looked like the only player who gave a shit. He was puyolesque in spirit and play and for a year now, I have been convinced that he should be the one wearing Barca’s armband. Fuck not being catalan or up the line in seniority.

    Many folks were hoping to see the back of him too. What do they think now? I, for one, was ready to go into a cocoon if Barca had sold him this summer, to Napoli or wherever. His renewal is the best news and he is boss!

    – Argentina!
    yes you are not as good a team as germany, but I will be rooting for you. Masch and Messi deserve this.
    Vamos!

    • kosby says:

      - I think Argentina dont play as good “football” as Germany do but I want them to win just so Messi can get that monkey off his back.

      – I am a fan of Mascherano, I think he is the best “destroyer” we have. His leadership skills are admirable. I think he has his limitations, through no fault of his own. At Barca with just him and Pique at the back when someone sends a high ball he is not able to deal with it. We’ve seen that time and again. This wasn’t exploited at the world cup because he had other defenders for company. If barca are going to play the same way then I do not think he is the defender we need. I do want him on the team though but I don’t know what is the best way to utilize his skillset.

      – Alexis. This is more complicated. While there is no denying he has massively improved as a player and his goal numbers have rocketed up, I think Suarez as a striker is an improvement. Sadly we can only have that many strikers on the team. Also I think we don’t use Alexis in the position he plays best at. For his sake atleast I want him to go to a team where he can play at his full potential. Whether Arsenal is that team is a different question altogether. Im a fan of Alexis anyways.

  77. Flippy says:

    After watching the Netherlands in the world cup, would Ron Vlaar make a reasonable signing for us?

    He seems to have the ball playing ability required of a Barcelona center back, and his defending has been superb. He had 100% tackles last night. I’m sure if we offered enough money to Aston Villa, we would be able to get him. The only negative is his age as he’s already 29.

    What do you guys think?

  78. Lord Eddard Stark a.k.a. Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one! says:

    And…
    there goes my favorite barca player from last season.

    Noooooooooooo!

  79. 86ed says:

    http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/28177987

    Great move by Sanchez, Arsenal, and especially Barca. 42m euros is a considerable amount.

    Maybe they can dish out 15m for Pedro too.

  80. ciaran says:

    Alexis transfer has been made official on the Barca site. It’s sad. I understand Alexis’ position as he will be the star attacker at Arsenal and playing with Giroud he could be a very useful attacker for them with the likes of Ramsey and Ozil supplying them. Ramsey was absolutely amazing last season and if not for his injury Arsenal would have pushed very close for the championship.
    I would also understand if Arsene made a bid to bring Song back as he could use a bit of muscle in midfield.

    As for Barca, €40m+ is a lot of money to get for any player. I’ve said numerous times that I would prefer to have the Alexis and sell Pedro but that is never going to happen. The Suarez deal will probably go through in the next couple of days and until he comes off suspension I truly hope that Deulofeu is given plenty of opportunities to prove his worth as a Barca player.

    • Kxevin says:

      Sanchez is ready to run his own show. I view that transfer as a graduation of sorts. He was only going to be happy in Messi’s shadow for so long. You could see how ready he was running Chile at this World Cup

      His value is never going to be higher. This is a perfect time to sell, if looking at it in the cold, hard light of modern football.

      Thing is that people who crapped on him are now looking for people to blame for his departure. No blame. It’s just that time for him, and a very nice bit of business at that.

  81. Helge says:

    I gotta say this, the transfer policy of Barca really hurts me, deep in my blaugrana heart… :(

    Why Thiago, Neymar and now even Alexis & Suarez??? I don’t get it.

    200mio for Neymar + Suarez, still no worldclass defender. Lack of trust in other players. Makes it hard to stay a fan with all my passion for the club.

    • Kxevin says:

      Thiago left for a better job. So did Sanchez. Neymar was an excellent signing. If he wasn’t a remorseless psychopath, Suarez would be, as well.

      The club didn’t have big success last year because it didn’t score enough goals, not because of how many it conceded, as that number was way down from the year before.

      Players come and players go. The question becomes what does the club represent for you? There are supporters who come because they are drawn to a certain player, and stop following a club when that player leaves. There are others who come for a player, and stay for the club. And all points in between.

      I don’t think that any transfers are worth dropping a club for, but that’s just me. And our club has a lot of other stuff far more vexing than an on-pitch employee leaving for a better job.

    • Nav says:

      Sorry but I can’t imagine not following a club because certain players are sold or w/e… support the badge not the number in the back :)

      • hansh says:

        The beautiful thing about a sports team is that they will always be there to go back to, even if your passion wanes at certain points for some reason.

        Helge, I agree with you. No one dictates that you must have passion for Barca, or that your passion must always be at the same level. Don’t like this string of transfers or this board or this group of players? Give it a few years for things to change. To stretch the saying to its breaking point, support the badge because the badge is what is constant, not because the badge can magically erase the way the back of the shirt affects you and your fan experience.

        We follow sports because sports bring joy into our lives and give us communities to belong to. And it’s not just about trophies – commiserating over hard times or picking apart transfer rumors can be just as fun. But if the joy disappears because of a certain set of circumstances surrounding your club, I say take a step back and let the club recover before you give it your full passion again.

  82. Rami says:

    And there goes a phenomenal player like alexis, Yet i’m at peace with that.

    Here is the thing, If luis enrique considered alexis to be one of the main components in his future plans and vision for the team, He would not have been sold, Simple as that.
    No coach will ever refuse to have someone like alexis in his squad, That’s not brainier, But it appears that the Enrique had some more pressing needs for the team that out ranked alexis in terms of priority, And in the end you can’t have everything, Ultimately, Compromises have to be made.

    It’s a win-win scenario, The club uses his transfer fee to address the main requests and wishes of the coach, And alexis goes to a club where he can shine even more.
    All there is to say for me is, Thank you alexis, And good luck, Except when facing us.

  83. Inamess1 says:

    What is so strange is that most people have made peace with the Sanchez sale so readily. No recriminations, no taking sides between the player and club. We got good value for a great player who wanted to leave, the team wanted to sell, and who will have a better career at an admirable club.

    If that is not a good transfer then I don’t know what is. All that was missing was an Alexis Sanchez day. We almost had one, but you can’t have everything.

    Thanks Alexis! Class through and through: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q07wKowKpOM

  84. agar2515 says:

    Anyone else read this ridicule article :http://www.espnfc.com/fifa-world-cup/4/blog/post/1942875/iain-macintosh-on-javier-mascherano-leading-argentina-to-the-world-cup-final

    I’m glad that Masche is getting his credit but dang anything to take a shot at Leo.

    • agar2515 says:

      And before anyone says I’m just trying to “fanboy”, here’s a perfect rebuttal to the above http://wp.me/p2SXLf-r2

      If Leo doesn’t pull a Getafe run from nowhere he’s basically underwhelming to people, doesn’t matter that whole teams often aches to nullify he and he alone

      • Kxevin says:

        Where do you see “anything to take a shot at Leo” in that excellent McIntosh piece? The only thing the writer said is that tight marking and fouling have diminished the direct contribution that Messi can make, which is very true. Just as Mascherano was in Robben’s grille, De Jong was in Messi’s. It was a conscious decision by Van Gaal to do everything possible to minimize the damage that Messi could do to his team.

        Just because someone highlights the massive contribution of a player to Argentina’s success, doesn’t mean “anything to take a shot at Leo.” It means that a sportswriter watched the match and the tournament and, over the arc of a sporting event, decided to point out something.

        What makes fans say “Yay!” to one writer or “Booo!” to another is simple affirmation. The people who are Messi fans want to believe that he hung the moon, and will brook no interference in that narrative. But not everyone is like that.

        Both pieces that you linked to are very good in their own way. Each one has a point of view. But one isn’t “right” or “wrong” just because it doesn’t hew to some worldview. They are simply there.

        Nobody is diminishing the contribution that Messi has made to Argentina’s success by suggesting that the presence of Mascherano has also been massive in that success. Michael Cox, Sid Lowe, Graham Hunter and Dermot Corrigan have all done the exact same thing.

        The thing that bothers me most about the general worldview of Messi is epitomized in your “anything to take a shot at Leo” comment. There isn’t any shot at Messi in the McInntosh piece, veiled or otherwise. I have said before that when someone says Messi doesn’t crap rainbows, they are dubbed a hater to devotees of the player. I see it time and again.

        Messi is a human being who can do extraordinary things with a football. Messi makes errors, Messi has bad matches, Messi is not a deity who doth bestride the earth. Messi is a football player on a team with many other excellent footballers.

        People lose sight of that. Demichelis had a spectacular match. Hardly anyone cared. Higuain’s goal was incorrectly ruled offside. Nobody cared. Everything about both teams that Messi is part of is, for too many people, reduced to Messi. It’s what I mean when I say that it’s difficult to evaluate Messi. Not because it is, but because of the legion of people ready to storm the ramparts with torches and pitchforks when a writer has the temerity to essay a neutral, balanced look at a situation involving the player.

        Fans don’t WANT neutral or balanced. Fans want affirmation. It’s also why I so assiduously cling to my stance to never, ever be a fan of a player. It makes it harder to actually see what that player is doing, when he does it.

        • Lord Eddard Stark a.k.a. Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one! says:

          love the language in this comment.
          deserves a champions league trophy.
          :D

          start embracing humour and exaggeration in your writing man, you’ll rock even more than you already do by being all objective and serious!

        • agar2515 says:

          You clearly have your opinion on Messi and I have mine . jen’s article says it all, I find the other wanting.
          I’ll leave it at that.

  85. Benj says:

    Glad to see LFC old boys in the final, sMasche and Maxi :)
    Very upset to see Sanchez go to Arsenal though, I though we had that one wrapped up!

    On a side note, and I suppose it is a mini rant, but its a mini-rant about rants. I’ve seen a couple of posts on here that are big old “I told you so’s” about certain players, for example the aforementioned sMasche. People complaining loudly about how they have never doubted a player but everyone on here wrote him off blablablabla.

    Why? What does this accomplish? This is a great space for the support of a great club, dont bring it down to the level of insulting other members and/or mods because they may not have liked what they saw in a particular game.

    To relate this to my great love, Liverpool, I once belonged to a (now defunct) Aussie based LFC forum, where it was more than a little common to slag off a player who was underperforming, for example Raheem Sterling. So much was expected and he didnt bring it to the fore straight away, still looked green (he was 17 to be fair). Then his star rises, starts kicking ass all over the shop and you inevitably get the ‘I told you all, you’re all morons for not seeing it, someone commission a sculptor while I work out my best pose for my trophy’. Dont be that guy.

    And with that I even made a mini-rant turn into a normal sized rant, hope you enjoyed.

    Benj
    Bringing Sunshine and Rainbows to the Football Community

      • Peter says:

        It was bound to happen, Kevin. With Sanchez announced, it was just a question of time.

        I can’t pretend I’m happy about losing on Lexus, and now that it has happened I can’t help but have mixed feelings about Suarez, but…

        I know you have some hard thinking to do, but I hope I express the thoughts and feelings of this community when I say I hope you don’t stop being a culer/soci.

        Here’s why:

        1. Redemption is possible. Always.
        2. If you decide not to renew your membership, you can do it at any moment. You can stop at any moment :D
        3. If not Barcelona then which club? Every single club has its black spots and dirty underwear. Barcelona’s gets exposed much more often due to the fact that it sells. The only club that might qualify would be Villareal/Athletic, and both clubs have their shady areas. Atheltic’s fans for example are practically the most hostile group you can encounter in Spain(and that is saying something).
        4. This space would be emptier and less livelier.
        5. The quality of writing would go down(Sorry Lev and SoccerMom :P )
        6. If you leave, certified/certifiable board fanboys like yours truly would be given a free reign, unrestrained by common sense and rationale.
        7. From 6, evidently it would cause the rest to react in recriminatory (and completely understandable fashion), probably leading to yours truly’s forced exit from the blog. :P

        Of course, whatever your decision, we must respect it. Having said that, if you quit, you’re a big sissy! :P :D

  86. Lord Eddard Stark a.k.a. Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one! says:

    Dear Kxevin,
    What you gonna do now brother?
    Suarez is official.
    As you said earlier, are you going to rethink your allegiance? Are you going to hand in that soci card and wash your hands off the club?
    Curious.

  87. barca96 says:

    “Playing regularly wasn’t the only reason I came here, I came here to win things. The league title, the Champions League, in fact every title at stake”, Sanchez told Arsenal Player.

    Good luck with that.

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