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

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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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By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

208 comments

  1. A Lovely Piece.Kudos to You

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

  2. 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. 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. 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 ?

    1. 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. 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. 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. 😀

    1. That must have explained the moment, bet Eto’o was saying to him, “You big dummy, look at what you did! Don’t worry about not having passed it to me.”

    1. 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…

  7. 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

  8. 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.

    1. 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?

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

  9. 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 🙂

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

  11. 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

    1. 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…

  12. 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/

  13. 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

    1. 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 :-).

  14. 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.

    1. 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!

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

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

    4. 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.

    5. 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.

    6. 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.

    7. 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.

    8. .
      Kxevin: «…from a Catalan institution to a business based in Catalunya». There’s little more to say.

    9. 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.

    10. 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 😀

      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.

  15. 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

    1. 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!

  16. 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.

    1. 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 ……

    2. 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?

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

    5. 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

    6. 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:-)

    7. 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.

    8. 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

  17. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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 ?

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

    1. If they play defensively, deny Germans space, and Messi produces some magic? Sure, why not!

  18. 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.

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

    1. 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.

  20. 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!

    1. lol. I was praying Mueller wouldn’t score more. Anyone but Mueller for me. I find him so annoying.

    2. They’re equal now but I wouldn’t be surprised if Mueller nicked a goal in the final. What’s up with Germany and fox in the boxes? Gerd Mueller, Klose and now Mueller. They’re not great footballers but they’re smart and oh so clinical.

    3. Me too haha! It’s sort of an irrational dislike, cause he doesn’t seem like a bad dude. I get annoyed every time he celebrates–might have something to do with his disturbingly large mouth.

  21. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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 😉

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. $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…

    3. 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.

  24. 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…

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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 .

    3. While I would have kept him myself, it seems pretty obvious that leaving is his own choice so there’s really no one to blame here imo.

    4. 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.

    5. 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.

    6. 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.

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

  27. 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!

    1. Exactly! It seems we always buy for over $60m but always sell for less than $20m. I realize we’re not a “selling” club, but WTF indeed.

    2. Exactly! It seems we always buy for over $60m but always sell (often the same players) for less than $20m. I realize we’re not a “selling” club, but WTF indeed.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

    1. “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?

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

  30. 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.

    1. 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.

  31. 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 😆
    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 🙁

  32. 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.

  33. -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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

  34. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  35. 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%.

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

    1. Yeah I did. But I mean he’s the closest thing to Alves. Up and down non stop. Rojo just needs to get himself involved more with the ball to make a greater impact.

    2. Mascherano really has to get the captain’s armband back. He is their leader, their inspiration, their savior.

  37. 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.

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

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