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A nou season, with hope and uncertainty, 2014-15 as foretold by …

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Barcelona 2014 – 2015 as foretold by Levon

Last summer I predicted we would be trophyless at the end of the season (I was a wrongfully disallowed goal off) but that it wouldn’t matter as we would have a transition year. Which we did, until we stopped transitioning halfway through. Since enough has been said about who’s to blame, this post is about looking forward to the 60+ games to come.

It’s easy to become optimistic after a transfer kitty excavation operation that rivals our eternal enemy’s most ambitious summers. Contrary to public opinion, Zubizarreta gets things right more often than wrong. This time round I’m not so sure. For the record, I think we’re idiots for letting Alexis go so easily and for wasting money on the likes of Claudio Bravo, Vermaelen and Douglas, money that would have been better spent on quality rather than quantity. Jeremy Mathieu could have been got for less than half the price 12 months ago, so there’s that, too. I’m on the fence about Suarez, happy for Rafinha and happy with Rakitic, a player I was against coming two months ago but already looks like the guy to watch this season. Marc Andre Ter Stegen and Alen Halilovic seem like the only transfers that were planned at all. Take from that what you will, but those last two have a Z for Zubi written on their foreheads. 

The most significant transfer of course is Luis Enrique. Much has been said about Tata, who seems like such a good person it feels immoral to criticize him too harshly, but he messed up the second half of last season so much I really want to use another verb instead of “messed up.” If nothing else, Lucho inspires leadership which is something that was obviously missing last year. Whether his tactical acumen is up to par with some of his more successful predecessors remains to be seen. People love to compare this upcoming season to Guardiola’s first, but La Liga has changed since then. Every draw didn’t feel like the coming of the apocalypse and Pep didn’t yet have to compete against an Evil Empire so studded with stars you have to glint your eyes when you look at their shirts (or Gareth Bale’s teeth). Still, I’m optimistic about the Lucho era, and even more so after his first press conference and especially after the way he sent Deulofeu packing. If Luis Enrique manages to infuse a team this talented with the fire of its leader there’s no telling what they can achieve.

Of course life, and even football, is about more than just results and trophies. The first Barça match I remember watching live was the 1989 Cup Winners final against Manchester United in which Mark Hughes scored a monster of a goal to seal our loss. That was more than 20 years ago and I already supported the club before that match, but it just so happens that this is the earliest game I remember vividly – where I was, who I watched the game with, how I felt and yes, that Mark Hughes goal. Here’s the rub. I was just a boy of, I guess, nine years old. Who ran the club didn’t mean squat to me. Now this was definitely a good thing since the man in charge Josep Nuñez. As far as I was concerned, Johan Cruijff was the boss. Mes que un club? Never heard of it. Heck, at nine years old I’d never heard of Catalunya either, for that matter. I thought Barcelona was in Spain. It wasn’t until much later when I learned about our club and its history that I fully understood how special Barça really was… and still is. I like to think that I felt this before I learned it. And I like to think the club is special despite of its directors rather than because of them.

Thank God we got rid of Nuñez and Gaspart. We should really thank Laporta, Johan Cruijff and Sandro Rosell (yes, Rosell). In this case God came in the form of a blue elephant, which I guess means that in some corners of this wondrous world people can say “see, we told you so.” The Laporta administration had more than its fair share of mistakes and who knows the state our club would be in if they had continued. But Sandro and Bartro have given us Johangate, Qatargate, Guardiolagate, Neymargate and Babygate. The biggest one of all is probably the new Camp Nou renovationgate except we won’t know it as such because the corruption many suspect behind this potential scandal will never see the light of day. Anyway, the idiots even flirted with Messigate and the next time our brilliant new striker sinks his teeth in a defender’s biceps we’ll have Draculagate. The only gates that have remained firmly closed are the ones a top notch defender was supposed to walk through at some point during the last four summers. Oh well.

2016 is, after all, an election year. If we don’t win anything this season the chronies will not survive. All of the “gates” for which they are responsible will come back to haunt them. But if we win the Liga (who knows) or the Champions League (even more doubtful, but who knows) they can play their favorite “poor us the whole word is against Barça but we are such great directors we still managed to give you a winning team” card and they will be re-elected. Whatever happens, I hope those in charge will keep Luis Enrique on as our coach for the foreseeable future. Nothing good ever comes from the usual hiring and firing. Besides, I like the sound of it, the Lucho era… The Lucho Era. Let the Lucho Era begin.

Barcelona 2014-15 as foretold by Isaiah

A season we will all fondly remember as the year we finally lost our faith in everything. Or, I mean, maybe not, but that’s certainly how it feels to me, going in. Let’s start here, where we should probably always start when we’re talking about mes que un club: the official sponsors list is nothing short of a list of kind of shady corporations that do pretty much the opposite of stand for Catalan identity or the concept of morality. Nike is a global brand bent on unifying everyone under the roof of similar footwear and viral marketing videos and Qatar Airways is the state-owned airway for a small country currently accused of killing thousands of workers in an effort to turn a desert into a preening World Cup resort destination. At least La Caixa is a local-cum-national bank that has an extensive social program and non-profit status including a charitable foundation, but the overwhelming sense is that Barcelona is not a club moving towards its motto, but away from it. Luis Suarez might be an incredible player, but then again, he’s also a violent racist. A club that once proudly boasted Lilian Thuram in its ranks has gone so far as to hire a guy who would call his compatriot a racial slur and refuse to apologize about it.

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If I sound somewhat depressed about all of this, I do blame Suarez and the terrible hangover from watching that slow motion insanity develop into expensive, court-case-laden reality. It brings back memories of the Busquets “mucho morro” affair where the club dodged all responsibility for what was likely a similar situation to what Suarez perpetrated. Or maybe Busquets did use an outdated term in the middle of a heated match. And maybe Luis Suarez really does mean his racial terms affectionately. And maybe I’m stuck in the past and this is just the new Barcelona, where social agreements are that I pay money and they let me watch Messi, with no consideration for the long-term investment in youth for the sake of youth (but for marketing purposes, sure, and for transfers later, sure). It’s not that Barcelona was ever the thing it billed itself as under Laporta, but under Laporta there was at least the homage to the idea. At least UNICEF made it onto the front of the jersey. I wonder what Oleguer thinks of the club he left behind. I wonder what Thuram thinks of the club he left behind. I wonder what Abidal thinks of the club that left him on the wayside, collateral damage from world conquest.

And Lucho. I don’t know what to make of Lucho just now. He smiles in the pictures he posts on Twitter. He bikes a lot. He was a glorious captain (who also played for Real Madrid at an earlier time that we should never mention again). And he seems to have brought some energy to things, but that’s what we said about Tata as well. Maybe I just miss Tito, maybe I just miss Pep. Maybe I just miss the days when it was all so unexpected, when winning was a thing maybe we would do and then when it would happen we were thrilled. Now it feels like there’s an expectation of success that doesn’t quite mesh with the reality of what it means to watch a team play. Imagine if we lose to Elche on Sunday. It wouldn’t be the groan of “Aw man, that’s too bad,” it would be the merciless cry of crisis, of Lucho fuera, of I told you so. And then imagine if we draw the next match. Imagine. 1-0 to Numancia would be absolutely unpardonable now. Sure, I mean, Madrid aren’t carrying the dead weight of Christoph Metzelder and Royston Drenthe around, but we’re not wondering where Keirrison fits in the plans either. I mean, this preview is hardly a question of how we bloggers (if I may still call myself such) think the season will go, but ratherhow many trophies will we win.Last yearI made no particular prognostications, which was probably for the best since I would have said we would win one trophy (and I would have been wrong, just to remind you), so this year I’ll go ahead and stick my head in the frying pan:

This team is stacked. Stacked like pancakes in a lumberjack breakfast hall. But trophies? None. Whatever, call me pessimistic or call me lacking in faith, but I don’t see this team being anything but what it was last year: fantastic to watch and overburdened with the needs of its fan base. But yes I’ll be watching whenever I can and I’ll celebrate every one of our goals. Except maybe the Suarez ones. I still haven’t come to terms with that and won’t have to until much later, thankfully.

Barcelona 2014 – 2015 as foretold by Linda

  1. Post-World Cup seasons are by nature unpredictable.
  2. I don’t like predicting things.
  3. But I’m here to try anyway.

I won’t pretend I have no doubts about Luis Enrique’s brave new world. Quite the contrary. But there are also many reasons to feel optimistic. Whatever Lucho’s flaws as a manager who is still developing and learning, his appointment is a step in the right direction. He knows the club, has allies both in the club and in the local media, and seems to be convincing the players of his ideas. I hope he feels supported, and free to implement his vision, and that the fanbase as a whole is kind to him if the team start slowly.

enrique1

Many things went wrong last season. There was a total breakdown in relations between the club hierarchy and segments of the fan base, the club and several important players,  the players and the club media, and ultimately, as a consequence, between the fans and the players. (Not to mention the club’s relations with the authorities.) All this just a few years after we all glutted ourselves on unprecedented success. It’s a very Barca story, going from one extreme to another. But lost in all that is the fact that there wasn’t that much wrong with the team. The squad was too small to cope with demand and injury, and wasn’t always used in the best way, but it had a reasonably good backbone. It just needed a jolt. And it needed supplementing.

Thankfully, the people in charge of the club have seen fit to do that. As a result, I feel much happier going into this season than I did last year. There’ll be injuries, and we’ll be horribly short-handed occasionally, but there are less gaps than before. I’d love to be proven wrong, but I can’t see all the new players integrating immediately. There will be mistakes. We just have to be patient, because I think we’re going to have fun this season. And yes, win a title or two.

But only if all of us – fans, media, club hierarchy, Lucho himself – refrain from turning every draw or defeat into a crisis. Otherwise, we might be out of a manager by Christmas.

Kxevin says …

We raise the curtain on yet another season of uncertainty. It seems like it has been a very long time since things have NOT been uncertain, so you’d think we would be used to it. Instead, besotted on a wondrous season of excellence, the ghosts of the past have become the burdens of the future, and everything is the “next” something … next Messi, next Puyol, next Treble. And culers turn on someone, anyone. It’s Martino’s fault, it’s the board’s fault, it’s Song’s fault, as if any one of those things was the complexity instead of all of them, and an additional set of circumstances to boot.

So people crack jokes about Song, who didn’t play all that much, instead of riding the folks who DID play all the time and who, as Dani Alves said in his Friday presser, didn’t meet standards. Because that’s easy, and who wants to kick the golden goose, even though the only player who was consistently at standard when it counted, and even he had a crappy first part of the season, was Iniesta. Last season was a mess.

It’s worth noting again that the natural state of a footballing club is to not win. Even the best sides don’t win everything, all of the time. Tito Vilanova stepped in after Pep Guardiola, who failed to meet his own lofty standards as the team started to slide downhill. Vilanova picked them up a bit, then fell prey to that awful thing called Life. Then Tata Martino came in to work his minor miracle of getting a damaged, mentally and physically hammered team to somehow, within 5 goals of being in with a shot at the Treble.

Martino’s feat last season speaks to the quality of the core of this team, an astonishingly talented nucleus that, like that flawless cut of steak, needs only the right garnishment and a well-chosen wine to be perfect. So the board, terrified at losing those posh seats in that wood-paneled office and facing the specter of a two-window FIFA transfer ban, went hog wild in the market this summer, adding (yet another) new coach and plenty of side dishes to accompany that tasty main course.

Which all means, of course, more uncertainty.

This club, and this culer, have a love/hate affair with uncertainty. Only a madman would predict championships galore at a club with a new coach and eight (count ‘em, EIGHT) new squad additions. I am a crank, but not a madman. Let’s look at what has the potential to upset the apple cart, shall we?

Enrique: What does he want? How will he get at it? How will his charges react to his high-energy, high-effort style? He put the hammer down on Deulofeu, sending him off to Sevilla for the crime of not impressing and needing more time. That move also sent a very clear message to the squad. The pressure on him is immense, and it’s difficult to think of a hotter hot seat in world football.

Vermaelen/Mathieu: A broken-down has been and a chain-smoking derelict, right?. THESE are the players those idiots signed to fill our centerback slots? Fools all of them, right? Well, maybe. Mathieu has been very, very good this pre-season and a healthy, on-form Thomas Vermaelen is an excellent center back. Or they could suck, leak goals and the Liga will be lost by December.

What’s funny is that for all of the whining about inadequate center back signings that should have been somebody else, the real complexities with Barça defense have to do with a short, easily bullied midfield and more importantly, still no replacement for Eric Abidal, who was the key to that back line. He made Pique better, he made us all forget the times that Puyol was off being fireman and caught out of position. He saved Alves, saved Valdes, working beautifully as a human eraser. Forget about CBs. I want me an Abidal.

abi

Messi: We still don’t know which Messi we are going to get, the sulking dude out for a weekend stroll or the rapacious battler who reared his head some during the Gamper. This is Messi’s team. As he goes, so it will go, despite the steps taken to end Messidependencia. If he is on — not goals, necessarily — with committed, fully involved play and he stays healthy, look out.

Neymar: The Brazilian legal complexity is fit, stronger, more mature and based on the little we have seen this season, ready to be an even better and more effective part of this team, unless, driven to star cravings in the presence of Messi and Suarez he reverts to the occasional ball-hogging, attack stopping logjam that he was at times last season.

Suarez: The club paid 81m for a player who won’t be able to kick a ball in anger, or even moderate vexation, until the end of October. He misses not only pre-season, but match fitness, on-pitch sync and other complexities. We might not even get the opportunity to really see what the club has paid for until late in the season. Will it be too late? In four months away from the competitive side of things, you can train and train, but match fitness will be many, many weeks away when Suarez can finally play for Barça.

Reasons for optimism

Weaknesses have been addressed: Team speed is up, team height is up, strength in midfield is up and the press is back. Everything that caused complexities last season are, at least on paper, improved.

Iniesta: Swagger, style and a more than capable slot into the playmaker role are all the reasons that anyone needs to worry about getting your ass kicked by the team led by Iniesta.

Great players: On paper, a 3-man attack of Neymar, Messi and Suarez is devastating.

And so?

Despite all of that, I think that Barça will be out of the running for major silver this season, marking two seasons in a row in which that has occurred. It isn’t that they don’t have the talent — far from it, as this team is STACKED. But I think that with so much new, and a key signing not being able to play with the club until November essentially means that performances will be erratic, and the front three will have a difficult time gelling.

But, we will see some entertaining, at times remarkable football, and as with last season, the team will come oh, so close to something big.

blitzen weighs in:

So here we are again. Seems like we have been waiting forever, but finally in a few hours a whole new season begins. We have a new coach, a new captain, and practically a whole new team. This has been a summer of slash and burn, and although it has been painful at times, it had to be done for the good of the team. Our legendary captain Carles Puyol was finally forced to admit his own mortality and retired with honour. Victor Valdes was halfway out the door in search of pastures new when a devastating injury threw him out the window instead. Cesc was seduced by the Dark Side, while Alexis Sanchez went to fulfil his destiny at Arsenal, much to the regret of many. The club cut out some dead weight and loaned or sold players like Tello, Cuenca (dammit), Afellay (DAMMIT!), Bojan, JDS (OMG finally!), & Oier (you forgot about Oier, didn’t you?), and even our resident madman Pinto was let go (BOO!). For some reason we still have Song.

In terms of signings, the most important one is our new coach Luis Enrique. It’s no secret around here that I am a huge fan of Lucho, not just as a player, but also from the days when he was coaching the B team to a 3rd place finish in the Segunda for the first time in their history. I wanted him to be appointed as coach when Pep quit, and I knew it would happen sooner rather than later. People have doubts about his lack of coaching experience at a high level, but to me that doesn’t matter. Pep only had only been coaching the B team for a year when he was appointed. Lucho has the drive and personality to take this team to the top. He demands everything from his players, and I believe he will help this team recover the intensity they lost over the last 2 seasons.

As for the incoming players, I am happy with all of them except for Suarez. My objections to him are longstanding and I won’t go into detail here, but suffice it to say that I think he is unnecessary, overpriced, and in need of psychological help. I am encouraged that in his last presser Suarez mentioned that he is working with professionals in that regard. I hope it is true and that we see no recurrence of his reprehensible behaviour. So far the best signings seem to be Rakitic, who looks like he has been playing at Barça for decades, and Mathieu, who hasn’t put a foot wrong in his appearances so far. Ter Stegen is nerveless, and Rafinha is an absolute monster. Bravo needs a little time to calm himself, and Vermaelen is still unproven, but personally I think he will fit in well. We may also still have a “surprise” signing to come, considering that we will very likely not be able to purchase any new players until January 2016. I’m giving this transfer window an 8/10. Well done, Zubi!

To my delight, most of the top top top pundits have already written off Barça’s title chances for this season. This makes us underdogs for the first time in many years, and it’s really quite refreshing. I am coming into this season with no inflated expectations. It would be crazy to expect a team with this many new players, that has lost so many key components of their past success, to win trophies or even be really competitive for the major ones. And yet…I can’t help but be excited after watching how this team has come together in the preseason and how they are all working so hard for Lucho. I have an overwhelming feeling that I am really going to enjoy watching Barcelona play this season, which to be honest I didn’t most of last season. We may not win any trophies, but I am sure we will play attractive attacking possession-based football, and that is all I really ask.


My predictions:
I think we will come second in the league to a Madrid-based team, but it may not be the one you expect. :P But I think it will be very close again, like last year. I think we may very well win the Copa del Rey, but that will likely be our only trophy. I don’t think we will be anywhere near winning the CL this year–I predict a quarterfinal exit, with honour.

Player to watch? How about players, plural? This is going to be the year when Barça goes back to basics and draws on the cantera a great deal. We already know from the preseason that Lucho counts on the youth and is happy to give them first team opportunities as long as they work hard. With Suarez banned until the end of October and various other injuries bound to happen, players like Munir, Adama, Samper & Grimaldo are certain to get ample first team minutes, and I expect them to excel. Even Lucho’s most vocal critics have to admit that he has a special way of inspiring youth players to give everything for him, and this batch of B teamers are more than ready to meet the challenge. I believe that Munir and Samper especially will make their marks this season.

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299 Responses to “A nou season, with hope and uncertainty, 2014-15 as foretold by …”

  1. Tardigrater says:

    Hello to allllll the people in here. Ive been lurking for about 2 years and Ive finally decided to become a little bit more vocal now.

    I just wanted to say that Im very optimistic, and like blitzen, I feel refreshed. It seems like a cloud has been looming over the team ever since Pep left, even though his last season wasn’t great everyone had trust in him that he would turn things around, and now things feel a little different. All of the kicking our and bringing in seems to have changed the atmosphere for me.

    Im happy with our new signings and I have high hopes for Rafinha, please be another Thiago. I just want this to be a good moment and for everyone to remember that this season will have its ups and its downs but this is our team, and we should take care of it since its given us more than our share of happiness.

    Sorry for the grammatical mistakes and I hope I can continue putting my two cents in. Visca Barca!

    • hansh says:

      Welcome! Thanks for choosing to become vocal, having new voices around here is always great. (I’m curious, are you worried about grammar because English isn’t your first language? I’m a languages nerd so I’m always interested.)

      I’m optimistic too for the season! People can keep their pessimism and predictions of no trophies, but I think that this season we’re going to play attractive football and challenge for trophies. Will we win any? Well, it’s certainly a possibility, and to me that’s enough reason for happiness. I believe in this team.

      Oh, and like blitzen, I believe in Lucho. Love that guy.

      • Tardigrater says:

        Ehhh kinda. I grew up speaking spanish, cause I’m Mexican, but I’ve lived in the US most of my life which means I don’t really have an excuse haha.

        Yea I wasn’t sure about Lucho because I read about how his last teams did but as soon as he was ours he made it clear he was the boss and I like the confidence he has. I like this guy.

  2. TITO says:

    We should also add in our trading this season the Di Maria sale to MU. Too much resemblance to Makelele case some years ago. Good for us, bad for them.

  3. Peter says:

    I really don’t like to make predictions. I have to say this, though, not predictions but facts:

    Luis Suarez. Is. Going. Nowhere. While Messi, Ronaldo, Griezmann, Mandzukic, Neymar, Bale, Benzema, James, Falcao, Diego Costa, Muller, Robben, Ibra and the rest top strikers of top teams go about the world with their respective teams, Luis Suarez and Xavi will be training under the orders of Lucho, And then he will come back at the end of October, when Real Madrid and Barcelona’s finest will have played a gruelling one-month campaign. What do I mean by that:

    13 September: Matchday 3 La Liga;
    16-17 September: Matchday 1 Champions League;
    20-21 September Matchday 4 La Liga;
    23-24 September Matchday 5 La Liga;
    28 September Matchday 6 La Liga;
    30 September – 01 October Matchday 2 Champions League;
    4-5 October Matchday 7 La Liga;
    5-14 October Euro Qualifiers+Friendlies (2 of them);
    18-19 October Matchday 8 La Liga;
    21-22 October Matchday 3 Champions League;

    All that time, almost a month and a half, Luis Suarez can dedicate to training, learning, settling down and more training and conditioning under the orders of Lucho. Unless some unseen circumstances intervene, Luis will have a more than proper pre-season – and no team in Spain or Europe will have played against him in Barcelona colours.

    The question, of course, is whether Barcelona can do without him in that time, relying only on Messi, Neymar, Pedro, Munir, Adama, Sandro and Rafinha.

    It will be difficult and so many things can go wrong it’s not even funny, but as always I am an optimist. There are options and variants in the squad. I hope Lucho stays true to his nick* and injects that attitude to the rest of the team.

    * “lucho” is the first singular of the spanish verb “luchar”, to fight

    • Levon says:

      *Lucho isn’t as much a nickname as a widely accepted alternative version of “Luis” just like Antonio is shortened to “Toño” and Jesus becomes “Chui”… In English the comparison would be Charles/Chuck, James/Jim, etc.

  4. PrinceYuvi says:

    This is a fabulous idea.
    Mods & Ex mods speaking via Lev the oracle.
    Only Euler, kari & nzm are missing.
    Excellent article.

  5. Jim says:

    Well, I won’t be asking any of the mods for the names of their sports psychologists, anyway ! :)

    Every season for at least the last three the prediction is more or less no trophies. If the players thought like that we’d be as well giving this season the swerve and starting again next.

    I’d like to ask where exactly we are meant to fall down. To me the glass is more than half full and even almost drained last year we came within an ace of a couple of major pieces of silverware.

    For me on the positive side

    We have height and pace at the back for the first time in ages
    We have more pace in our midfield which looks like it will be run by Iniesta. Just watch him go in this role.
    We have a forward line that every club in the world would swap us theirs for ( yes including them)
    We have a much bigger squad in real terms and remember how much that played a part.
    We have the prospect of being able to call on a completely fresh Xavi and don’t underestimate that. Poor lad has been totally overplayed for the last five seasons. He looks refreshed already.

    Negatives
    We will still have to face packed defences. Nothing will change there. Still can’t understand why teams don’t employ that against RM as they are awful when Bale and Ronaldo are denied running space.
    We will have to wait till about November to see Suarez match fit. Can we get the early results to be in the right place at that time?

    Known unknowns (with apologies)
    Is LE really going to be any good as a man manager – I’m fairly sure he is a motivator which tbf Tata never looked like. Just stamping on people won’t work with this squad.
    Can we build a reliable CB partnership? My own pref would be Pique and Mathieu but competition is good. The only bad thing would be if we arrive in October without a recognised first pairing. You need CBs who understand each other and how to position and readjust quickly.
    Can we adjust our tactics so we are not caught short of numbers at the back? This is really a wider unknown of how astute LE is going to be at adjusting during matches.
    Will we see much of the young ones? Easy answer ? If they’re good enough. They won’t be played for the sake of it and in the last couple of seasons most haven’t been.

    For me, I’ll be surprised if we don’t lift one of the big ones. Not fussy which. I have a feeling RM are going to be tempted to play more football this year and they really aren’t set up for that.

    Anyway, not long to wait now. Bit ironic that with our enlarged squad we are struggling a bit with injuries and suspensions for the first match but nothing will be decided tonight.

  6. PrinceYuvi says:

    Alba Mathieu Masch Alves
    Busi Raki Ini
    Munir Messi Raf

  7. ciaran says:

    I was going to write something before the season officially started but I got caught up with stuff so it’ll just be something short and to the point.
    I want to touch on players, tactics and motivation for this coming season.

    In terms of players – we’ve added physicality and true depth to a nucleus of talented players. Line by line we’ve improved in all areas.

    GKs: ter Stegen, Bravo and Masip are individually not better than Valdes but give us better competition than we’ve probably ever had. Ter Stegen could become a great keeper and the other two are very good to have around for familiarity and experience.

    DFs: Alves, Montoya, Pique, Bartra, Mathieu, Vermaelen, Alba and Adriano is a very full defensive line up. There are better players out there than our bunch but it is still very strong. The four central defenders are all over 6ft with the potential for playing defensive or attacking line ups. We have replaced Puyol with two people who are younger and fitter than he.

    MFs: Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta, Xavi, Masch, Song and Sergi Roberto are all available currently even if it looks like Song will not be called upon. Rakitic fills the void left by Cesc and should be capable. Masch should get a lot more time in midfield than Song did last year anyway and gives Busquets genuine competition. Xavi will be rested and should be able to continue to control matches when called into action and Sergi needs time to progress so let’s hope he gets it.

    FWs: Messi, Neymar, Suarez, Rafinha and Pedro will be supplemented by the likes of Munir, Sandro and Adama. On paper it looks good but as we know Suarez is unavailable for the next couple of months and Pedro has been ineffective for the last few staid and if he weren’t a Masia graduate I can’t believe that he would still be here. Rafinha, I’d imagine, will be starting a lot of matches at right forward for the immediate future so I’m excited about that. And while I’m disappointed to lose Alexis Sanchez, Luis Suarez is a beast of a striker and should be a great addition.

    In terms of tactics – 4-3-3 has been our go to formation for years now and that doesn’t look like changing although I foresee quite a few tweaks to it.
    From the preseason friendlies the width looks to be given primarily by the fullbacks rather than the wide forwards as predicted and the forwards have a more central role with Messi more withdrawn. A more solid midfield with Busquets and Rakitic (plus Masch) gives us the platform to attack with numbers without being caught by our rampaging fullbacks.
    Our forwards are a very diverse with youngsters like Munir and Adama being completely different to all of our first team players so we can expect to see more of a change during a substitution than previously.

    In terms of motivation – Lucho is nothing if not a great motivator and when he gets his charges to train and play as he did there should be plenty to be optimistic about. The players themselves also should have plenty of motivation after the past two seasons and we’ve a lot of new players who have won nothing before.

    My predictions;
    A major trophy should be within reach of such a talented hard working bunch.
    Samper and Munir will get more minutes than expected this season.
    Suarez will have a great season as will Neymar.
    Ter Stegen will be considered a top notch keeper by the end of the season.
    Messi will be the best player in the world again but not as ridiculous of a goal scorer as he once was.
    Sergi Roberto will have another season of little to no minutes and will be passed out by Samper, Suarez and Halilovic.

  8. Peter says:

    Eibar, the miniscule team with the miniscule stadium and the miniscule budget made history once again.

    First game ever in Primera division, against Europa League participants Real Sociedad, first win. Goal by a 12 000 Euro player, who after playing for 13 teams in Spain made his Primera Division debut – and won.

    Damn, I LOVE LA LIGA!!!

  9. ciaran says:

    I like Mascherano, and he is a great footballer but can we please have him in midfield so that there’s someone behind him when he makes a mistake.

    • Nik says:

      I can’t blame him for the red there. Busquest was at error with the backwards header to nowhere. Masch looked to be trying to avoid contact, but bad luck. Deserved red though.

    • ciaran says:

      Ok, I don’t think he could have done much to avoid it I have to think that he should have tried harder to not bring the guy down rather than just his usual ‘I’m innocent’ routine

      • Nik says:

        But I don’t think he was trying to intentionally bring the guy down? That wasn’t a tackle. They were both running at full speed, ended up unfortunately crossing paths, and the attacker fell down.

        • ciaran says:

          But the attacker had clearly gotten in front of him so he had to get out of his way. It was always going to be a red card situation once he didn’t. If the player had went through on goal and scored then the blame would be firmly at Busquets’ feet (or head as it happened) but now we’ve to play a full half with a man less and that is on Masch.
          He couldn’t prevent the situation but should have avoided the attacker.

        • ooga aga says:

          If he could have avoided the man, he should have. Stupid masch.

  10. Ryan says:

    A throwback to an earlier time, with an errant Busquets header leading to a 1 on 1 vs. our keeper. I thought he had knocked those out of his system! I liked the half for the most part, especially our willingness to shoot from outside the box.

  11. G6O says:

    It was a good half overall (winning the ball in the final third, not hesitating to shoot, that Munir situation aside, and Messi being active and aggressive as in the days of old).

    And then this happened.

    I don’t care if they scored or not, we would have still won the game. Now it will be a much less entertaining second half

  12. ciaran says:

    Munir is a great finisher in fairness to the kid.

  13. FCB16 says:

    It official, Munir is a god to people now. I’ve read many ” Suarez Who?” tweets. What a wonderfully knee-jerk fan base we have.Let the kid develop, he still has his moments of nerves. Also, there must be something about Bartra we don’t know, this is the 3rd coach in a row who opted for Masche over him.

    • ciaran says:

      Well even with 10 men we’ve looked safe as houses this half with Bartra in defence so I can’t see what.

      Munir is a special talent though. He isn’t just a hyped up youngster who can score in the youth teams. The variety of goals he scores is unbelievable for such a young player. He won’t get rushed with the calibre of players ahead of him but it’s natural to get excited about such a player

      • FCB16 says:

        I can’t see what would be wrong with Bartra either. It’s just something to consider.

        Re: Munir, I just don’t see the need for anyone saying such brash, clearly absurd statements such as: “Munir>Suarez” “Munir>Neymar” “What if Suarez comes back and Munir is in the way?” etc.
        Maybe this is why I usually stay off twitter.

        “He won’t get rushed with the calibre of players ahead of him ”

        That’s the key. For me he needs to grow in confidence first (see: his happy-feet pass to no one after being fed by Messi in the first half). There is no way to dispute his talent, but he’s still only 18. Gotta say I’m ecstatic as hell over this kid too, he’s shown more life and potential than Pedro and Tello have for years with us.

    • G6O says:

      The problem with Munir is that he is too young and not yet fully developed physically. There aren’t many players who show such goal-scoring proficiency at such an age. But there were also at least half a dozen situations in which he was easily pushed off the ball today. So the “Suarez who?” crowd should calm down.

      Give him a two or three years though, and he has the potential to be something special. That shot that hit the post was a good illustration – picked the ball, turned immediately, blasted it with no hesitation. Eto’O used to do that and we haven’t had such a striker since then. Suarez does it too, of course, and hopefully he will show it regularly when he can finally play

  14. PrinceYuvi says:

    Rakitic has more of a Xabi profile than Xavi’s.

    • Nik says:

      He can tackle without hacking a guy to the ground. That’s the complete opposite of Xabi Alonso lol

    • TITO says:

      Not really, Rakitic i feel is a combination of both. Alonso’s defensive work with Xavi’s offensive duties.

      • PrinceYuvi says:

        Alonso hacks people down because he’s a dirty bastard.
        Er, talking about Xabi the footballer here, not Xabi the human being.
        Somewhat similar skill set,
        he’s more physical, Defensive & dirty work if needed & those Long through balls.
        Xavi skins you alive, when he has the ball, not so much without it (recently) .
        Off the ball, we’re a better team now.
        But he’s more involved than Xabi, so I guess a bit of both.

  15. G6O says:

    Also, while we should be very happy about Munir, we should not forget that the best news of the evening was how great Messi looked. Those were vintage goals and he pressed, recovered balls, and even got back in defense. Haven’t really seen that for more than two years…

  16. craigf876 says:

    My 2 cents….

    First off, I’m optimistic about this season. Despite the doom and gloom I hear from most cules, I cannot fathom us having two trophy-less seasons in a row given the quality in our squad. The football gods surely cannot be so unjust to the players, even if its what this Board deserves… or worse.

    I give Barca’s summer business a 7/10. In Rakitic, we found a suitable replacement for an aging Xavi, who already seems to be on the same telepathic wavelength with Iniesta. In addition, his ability to shoot from long range and height fills a void.

    Vermaelen/Mathieu/Douglas* – gives us depth and physicality but not the quality I had initially hoped for. I think Mathieu is a good role player, brings height and shows the level of commitment needed. His awkward yet efficient style coupled with his ability to play as a full back gives him the” Carles-esque” feel. I can only hope Vermaelen returns to his pre-injury form. As for Douglas, I had no clue who he was two weeks ago, so I shall withhold judgement.

    Ter Stegen/Bravo/Masip – These guys are no Victor Valdes. If its one area Zubi should have an ounce of competence it should be finding goalkeepers, so lets hope the competition brings out the best in all three. So far I like Ter Stegen the best.

    Our best signing is no doubt Luis Suarez. He gives our attack that “bite” it so badly lacked in games last year when Messi was human. I think he is the perfect no.9 for us and his aggressive competitiveness will fit in well with Lucho’s high press. Happy to hear he is getting treatment, if all else fails we can get him a Bane (Batman) mask to match his menacing aggression to prevent any unsavoury issues.

    Predictions:

    I’m confident we will win at least one domestic trophy. I also think we have a better than expected chance at the Champions League…. That part will take a lot of luck, however we have seen Bayern and that other team win with less than stellar defences in the last two season.

    The MSN will gel quickly and by March, we may be unstoppable over two legs against anybody.

    I expect the pressure for a spot from Munir and Adama to propel the MSN to a combined 75 goals between them.

    Sadly I expect Pedro and Pique to become casualties of the La Masia boys who will be extra motivated by Lucho’s policies and the transfer ban. We may be saying bye to both of them and Xavi by the end of the season.

    We will enter 2015/2016 back at the top of the football pyramid without VV, Puyi, Abidal, Pique,Pedro and Xavi which will complete the Pep to Lucho painful transition period the last few years have been.

    • Kxevin says:

      Victor Valdes wasn’t Victor Valdes until he was. To dismiss Ter Stegen particularly because he isn’t isn’t giving the player a chance to play or improve. Valdes took mountains of crap from culers because he wasn’t Casillas, or Cech or (insert goalkeeper name here).

      As for defenders, solve the Abidal problem and you solve the back line problem. As I note above, Abidal made that back line look so brilliant, along with an effective press.

  17. agar2515 says:

    Just some quick thoughts
    Why no Marc?
    Let Munir grow and determine his own legacy, is no need to start narratives for a kid so young.
    I’m so happy with Ivan, she just runs and runs such a wonderful addition.
    Messi looks like Messi, spraying out passes that Suarez and Neymar would have finished, and hungry to win the ball back. Beautiful.
    Curious to see how the last week of the transfer window unfolds. Have a good weekend everyone.

  18. Temple says:

    Can someone please explain the Bartra scenario? This the third straight coach playing sMasch ahead of him.

    Beside, enjoyed the game. The toughness is back.

    — Messi. Did you see how he pressed and hacked at helpless heels? Whoa.
    — Mathieu was immerse. Will prove a lot of doomsayers WRONG.
    — Rakitic is such toughness and beauty.
    — Munir has ridiculous potential. PATIENCE.
    — Lucho’s pants and gesticulation, I like. Gaffer stuff.

    There is that, for me. To the next game, I say.

    • Peter says:

      Personal view:

      If you have noticed, Barcelona’s CBs play as a matched pair – one is tall and normally takes care of the high balls, whereas the other acts more like a normal pivote, going forward, covering more space, intercepting and tackling. This is what Mascherano does best. Additionally, with Rakitic and Rafinha in the team, there is more height than last season.

      Apart from that, Mascherano has been playing for three years in that spot, which is probably four times more experience than Bartra has playing as CB at Barcelona, not to mention six more years of football overall. Also, Mascherano is for the time being the leader of the defence.

      As to why did Bartra look very solid(and he was), this was at least in part due to the fact that Barcelona was a goal up and man down. Elche tried to get back in the game, went forward and opened up. This allowed Barcelona’s midfield and strikers to drop back, close up the lanes and press.

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      Yup. Messi physically bullied defenders tonight.

      Mathieu reads the game well, fits in nicely & he’s a pacy mobile giant (his first match).

      Munir shoots or crosses without losing a breath, saves those crucial miniseconds.
      Lose those miniseconds – defence gets their act together – you become a Pedro.

      Lucho is very involved and gives us those additional set of eyes on field.
      So far so good.

  19. Kxevin says:

    In brief:

    Bartra: It’s more what Mascherano is doing right than what Bartra is doing wrong. If you want to play, make it impossible NOT to play you. Bartra hasn’t done that with Vilanova, Martino or Enrique. Can’t blame them all.

    Mascherano: He was trying to avoid the attacker, but just clipped him and the attacker sold the hell out of it. I saw a “stupid Mascherano” above, but I would rather see “stupid Busquets.” He headed that ball without a care in the world of where it would land. Turned out it landed at the feet of the attacker as if Busquets were an Elche player. And he did that with Mathieu pushed up, so that Mascherano was the only player back and he was also out of position. So it would have been “stupid Puyol,” or “stupid Pique,” or any other defender who was caught out by Busquets’ moment of humanity.

    It happens. The team won 3-0.

    Munir: Patience. He has a lot of growing and improving to do. I made a joke about Suarez coming back and finding Munir in his slot and some people took it seriously. Ain’t gonna happen. To deny Munir’s talent would be as foolhardy as thinking he is ready to be a consistent starter for Barça.

    The team: It won 3-0, not even firing on all cylinders. Be happy for that. All the gloom and doom, ranting about this player or that player, and look. The team kicked ass, went down to 10 and was crazy enough to not bother playing like it was down to 10.

    Messi: Sorry, but anyone who stated last season that Messi was the same player should watch today’s performance until they change their minds. Completely different. Vibrant, active, electric with the ball at his feet, and 5 tackles. Tracked back like a demon, as well.

    Pressing: The team was pressing, running its tails off and stopping Elche attacks before they could get going. Rakitic and his defending were as impressive as his passing, which raises the Xavi question, right? It isn’t that Xavi is past it offensively. It’s that he’s past it defensively. So as Rakitic ran over to cover for Alves, THAT is why the back line seemed vulnerable in the past.

    I know, I know … “it was just Elche.” The same Elche that, had this team been able to score a single goal against to win that match, Barça would have won La Liga. This wasn’t a walk in the park, though people will be fast to describe it as such because as per usual, the NEXT opponent will be the big hurdle until that one is leapt. Then the NEXT opponent will be the big hurdle, in a succession of “just you waits.”

    Enjoy this football team, whether it wins or loses.

    • Jim says:

      Good start to the season and a welcome return to the unstoppable Messi. On Sky Ballague was saying that the senior players had said if he managed yo make Messi press the whole team would. As usual with him though I’d take what he says with a pinch of salt. Whatever, it was good to see.

      I wouldn’t particularly blame Masche for his sending off . If you’re chasing a player and he cuts across you while slowing down it’s pretty hard to avoid contact although on Sky they seemed to think it was deliberate. I’m hopeful he is also a short term stand in although that remains to be seen. What I would say is that it is yet another sign he can’t be anywhere near the back line as he doesn’t think like a CB. They were trying to hold the offside line right on the half way line. That is suicide. You watch any decent defence they will push the forwards back to their own half but just before the ball is kicked they will quickly retreat five yards or so to give themselves some room to cope with exactly what happened, especially if you’re not the one attacking the ball. The whole thing was another comedy of errors. Yes Busi shouldn’t stick his head onto such a ball and he, as has been pointed out, has previous. However, Mathieu should ( must?) have shouted so loud that Busi was scared to go near it and that didn’t happen. Alves wasn’t even holding the line in the first place and had no nose for the trouble coming his way. Masche should have been at least three or four yards deeper than he was by the time Busi headed it. That’s what I meant in an earlier post about the need for a regular pairing at CB so that they know each other’s thinking inside out.

      Kxevin, I’m not sure what the connection is with Abidal. I know you rated him a lot more highly generally than I did but in this situation he would never have been near covering unless you mean in general terms about the defence. I think the pace of this defence with at least Alba and Mathieu looks decent. This was all about a wayward header and positioning of some of the defence.

      However, let’s just be grateful it was Elche. We showed some nice touches and a lot of energy for the game. Was it a bit disappointing there was only a crowd of about 60000 at the first game of the season ? Most importantly, the season has started in earnest and the phoney war is over.

      • Kxevin says:

        I mean in general, rather than that specific situation.

        And I think if the team can continue to play like that, I don’t think there will be many opponents who will be able to contend with it. We’ll see. But the Rakitic defensive range came as quite a pleasant surprise to me.

  20. TITO says:

    Kind of disappointed how Rafinha looked a little bit lost there and not really connected with the rest.
    Not the best position for him in order to use his skills.

  21. I thought that was a great opener! Great game!

    The anti-masch comments are a bit strange to me. He did what he had to do. LE knew it too, you could read his lips saying “bien masch, bien masch”

    I actually like masch is defense, especially versus a bus. I’m not a fan of pique overall, and bartra does a great job, i think that he’ll get his due this year. Lets be patient.

    Messi is back!

    • Kxevin says:

      Good catch on the Enrique to Mascherano comments. As I say above, Mascherano brings something special to the side, and Enrique wants that on the pitch. So when Mascherano starts, I just think it’s for that reason.

    • Nav says:

      LE said that he’d rather concede a goal and play with 11… *https://twitter.com/barcastuff/status/503655312378064896

      • Yeah I saw that, but that doesn’t change what he said to Mascherano during the game. It was a split second decision, but ultimately I think Mascherano did what he had to do.

        • Nav says:

          I agree, rather go to 10 men then be 1-1 against such a defensive team at the half. Plus: clean sheet. Was interesting what LE said is all… perhaps to show that we are a ‘no-fear attacking’ team.

  22. BA says:

    our defense would be much more stable with Mascherano in front of it than in the middle of it. yes it was Busquets’ error but the job of the covering CB is to, ya know, cover. and we’ve seen it over and over that that just isn’t Masch’s game. it’s a symptom, once again, of our inadequate cover at CB.

    Mathieu looked good in his Pique role, but we still lack the same player we’ve needed since Puyol/Abidal faded away: quick, good reader of the game, adept at mopping up behind his more ball-playing compatriot. Mascherano isn’t that player. Vermaelen isn’t that player. Bartra isn’t that player. Mathieu isn’t that player. Pique isn’t that player. if we’re going to play in largely the same system as we always have, in order to look comfortable we need a player who fits that profile; or we need to find a different system for our defense. my hope is for the latter, and that Lucho will see how wasteful it is to field a player of Mascherano’s caliber so far outside of his comfort zone.

    that said, i was singularly impressed by Rakitic, who looks an absolute engine in midfield, he does so much work on and off the ball and looks seamlessly integrated already. Messi looks super sharp, which is always heartening. and Munir, well what can you say? playing with a cool confidence only seen by our best Masia kids.

    • Rivaldo says:

      Actually Mathieu is that player you described above. Don’t know how much of him you’ve seen or if you have been paying attention during our pre-season but Mathieu is the player.

  23. fotobirajesh says:

    Was quite glad about the game.
    I am sad, some think Masche was stupid. Even if he meant it, its clear he did it for the team.
    Considering the fact that Rafinha was not there literally, its ok, we played with 10 both the halves.
    What I dont understand is, as the regular defender, shouldnt Mathieu take care to remain as the last person, rather than Masche.

    Munir would be brilliant addition for us. I think, he makes his final pass without looking who/what/where, but by just guess work. He should end up as a legend.

    • Jim says:

      It depends on where the ball is heading I think. The rule is that the non active CB should provide a bit of depth to avoid your defence being caught completely square. I’m sure Mathieu thought he was going to be the one attacking the ball till Busi’s intervention. That’s where Pique/ Puyol worked as a partnership so well. They covered really well for each other but that took time and there was no doubt who was the one in charge. That’s my only issue with Pique. Is he prepared to step up and lead the back line or is he content to let someone else do it? Unfair on Mathieu to ask him at the moment. I’d like to think that as I write this LE is talking to the four of them and forcing them to watch a replay over and over again. I have to say I’ve not felt that our defence has had the necessary coaching input over the last few years, and I include Guardiola’s time in that. The incident itself proved insignificant but to win trophies we need to be clear about roles in defence.

      • fotobirajesh says:

        Thanks Jim, am with you. I was hoping, to be frank, you would read and answer me.
        Pique, I dont think, will ever lead our backline. He isnt that type. Even with a makeshift back, Masche partnering him, we can see it is Masche who is giving instructions and checking. everything, not Pique. These kinds of incidents will occur again, it seems, hopefully not.

  24. KEVINO17 says:

    Surely Messi feels like he’s a new man after the pressure of the world cup behind him. That overshadowed his whole last season

  25. IamXavi6 says:

    Greetings all.

    Been off this blog for a bit as I wanted to take a break and also to let some of the dust settle after Tata\WC. Now the season is back on, thought it’s a nice time to come back and participate again.

    A comprehensively good solid start to the season. You can’t help but get the feeling some of the intensity and workrate is already back to our early Pep years. However, it’s only 1x game and against a rather lowly opponent all things being considered so we must be looking further for consistant performances and coaching rather than assumptions after a few friendlies and this first game.

    However, I do LOVE the professionalism and harsh calls Lucho has been making already to set the tone to the players. They either respond to his way or its (probably literally) the (pine) highway. Something that was perhaps sorely lacking last season I believe is back in Abundance.

    Lets see how the desire holds through the year.

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      Great to see you back.
      Hopefully bhed & 86ed will be back soon too.
      Lowly opponents sure.
      But with 10 men,
      1 new forward,
      1 makeshift right wing,
      1 new b2b midfielder,
      1 new centre back,
      2nd choice goalkeeper,
      1 new coach.
      & 2 shots rattled off the crossbar.
      At times Dani was the last man in defence (!)
      At times Alba scampered to take mathieu’s position when he went wide (!) [Is there a way to make squirrel a foot taller ?]

      Teams like EE, man utd take two months or three to gel in. Our dudes are crazy.

  26. barca96 says:

    It feels good to watch Messi play again (especially a running Messi) and Barca of course. Football without Messi is dreadful.

    I don’t know what happened to him but he hasn’t looked like that since the 1st and 2nd month of last season. So active so involved. His dribbling and change of pace has never been this good since then. But his dribbling isn’t as good as pre 2013 though. Now the 2nd or 3rd marker can get a foot in as Messi is a fraction slower. But all is good. Still good enough and better than anyone else.

    Busi just shouldn’t head the ball. Many people seem to remember his other mistake 2-3 seasons ago but this has been happening every single time a ball comes in and he heads it (accidentally) backwards. It’s just that he was never punished again until last night.

    For once Mascherano didn’t commit a foul but the other player cut across his path. Reminds me of him diving when running across Ronaldo in a Clasico at Madrid a couple of seasons back. I thought Mascherano’s positioning was wrong in the 1st place last night.

    Munir’s positioning is excellent. However he needs to be stronger on the ball. Was so happy that he was confident to blast the ball instead of crossing it but later on decided to cross instead of shooting. He’ll learn from this.But he gets brushed off too easily. That said, he impressed me more in one match than Deulofeu ever did since 2010 in many appearances with Barca or Everton. And he didn’t even get any minutes for Sevilla. What must be going through his mind? I hope this serves him a lesson and it’ll make sure he improves.

    Matthieu was solid. The board/Tata should’ve just bought him last season. Solid defender that we’ve been missing since Abidal. I’m afraid this will be another case of a season too late as with Villa.

    The only thing I was disappointed with last night was Mascherano getting the nod over Bartra. Kid might not be so aggressive and have the leadership skill but he is a fine defender, a better defender. Didn’t put a foot wrong last night. Attacking at the right times as usual.

    Can’t wait for the next match.

    • ciaran says:

      Too many people don’t rate Deulofeu. He is one of the best youngsters in world football and is still very young. I love Munir so don’t get me wrong but he is no closer to the finished article than Deulofeu is.
      Deulofeu is physically much stronger, has a great shot, is fantastic on the ball and has been at a high level for a couple of seasons.

      The Everton loan was a good one for him because it toughened him up and let him know that he wouldn’t have it as easy as he had with the Best team. Don’t read too much into his not getting minutes with Sevilla the other night as they had a goalkeeper injury in the first half and two midfielders get injured in the second. He’ll get plenty of game time there and it will be up to him to take his chance. I fully expect him to.

      His decision making isn’t great but with the exception of Messi, no other kid was at his age either. He is a true winger, one who takes on and beats players and he done it numerous times with Everton and changed matches for them.

      • ciaran says:

        Sorry *B team not best team.

        • Kxevin says:

          Mascherano’s position was “wrong” because he wasn’t expecting his own teammate to launch a springboard break for the opponent. Though maybe he should have seen Busquets about the head the ball and said, “Oh, crap …”

          — I think that everyone rates Deulofeu as an attacker. But he doesn’t track back, has a poor overall work rate and suspect decision making on the ball. If he improves those aspects of his game, he will be back and welcome. If he doesn’t, he’d better be renting in Barcelona, if you get my meaning.

      • barca96 says:

        He might be closer to a finished article but I don’t think that his ceiling is high. That’s all you’re going to get from him. He’s of course better than Jeffren and Tello but in the same category as Quaresma and Ronaldo CR7 in his early days. Just dribble whenever he has the ball. He doesn’t offer anything else. He can’t play striker. He is limited to a winger. Pedro might not be a better dribbler but he at least has the intelligence to run behind the lines and pull defenders out and of course offers phenomenal work rate. I watched at least a handful of Everton matches last season but he is the exact same player when he first break through B team.

        He won’t cut it here. He will do well at a 2nd tier club where he can try to be the man.

        You’re right about the Sevilla match though but he still wasn’t guaranteed to come on.

        • ciaran says:

          He was stripped and ready for a break in play to come on as a sub before the third injury so there was no doubt that he would have, I would even imagine that he would have gotten longer if not for the goalkeeper injury.

          I find it funny that in the same post you say that he is about the same as CR7 in his early years and later that he doesn’t have a high ceiling. He is very similar to Ronaldo in many many ways with virtually the same flaws and we all know how Ronaldo turned out. If Deulofeu works as hard he could become a very similar player.

  27. Kxevin says:

    Simeone just got an 8-match ban, 4 for patting the ref on the head, 2 protesting, 1 for the red and 1 for watching from the stands.

  28. PrinceYuvi says:

    Anybody watching City vs Liverpool ?
    They look out of sorts without Suarez there.
    City got way too may strikers. Aguero scores with first two touches. Bummed he signed that extension.

  29. Peter says:

    Atletico don’t look the same without Simeone. Rayo do look like a much complete team than last year.

    About three weeks until the first Madrid derby – and Atletico will be looking for some reckoning. Cristiano better hope his knee is okay, I think it’s going to be tested.

  30. mr.undercover says:

    The 8 match ban is excessive, I see a black hand behind this decision(E E). Simeone was stupid in fairness,

    About our match, I notice a lot of develompent this season specially some key areas

    #1iniesta and rakitic covering the space behind the fulbacks when attacking

    #2 rakitic droping deep to collect the ball and moving it foward
    #3 besquet droping centraly forming a 3 man defence with masche and matheu
    #4 messi pressing and tackling like never before
    #5 lucho brings back the 5 secounds rule in guardiola’s era, if we didn’t win the ball back in 5 secounds we drop back and form a shield
    #6 our fullbacks brings an artificial width while our wingers are more central
    #7 tactical fouling from our forwads to prevent counter attack I e athletico
    #8 lucho never seats we missed such kind of a couch who stand on the line. And shout to the players to make them awake,

    Intresting season coming up let’s enjoy it, (not good grammatically sorry)

  31. PrinceYuvi says:

    So Benatia is off to Munich for peanuts.
    Alright, better go somewhere else to vent my feelings.

  32. agar2515 says:

    He wanted to leave,Roma thought they could get him to stay and raised his price to try and help aid in that. They were wrong and they didn’t want to keep an unhappy player. Again, for so long no one NEEDED to pay upwards of 60m for him, now Roma’s need to sell+ Bayern being patient= a steal of a deal. Maybe now that he’s good enough for giants like Bayern people can start to give him respect and stop asking ” well why hasn’t anyone signed him if he’s so good??”

    • Rivaldo says:

      The “fun” thing is that Bayern only “pushed” for him after Javi’s injury.
      Jury is still out.

      We were crazy for not signing Marquinhos and then crazy for wanting to sign him. Same with Luiz. We’ll see what he brings to the table though.

      But somehow it matters not to me. i have a team to back and I’m excited about that.

      Barca Barca Barca!!!!

    • Peter says:

      He’s good for Bayern because Javi Martinez is out for the season. While he was healthy they were nowhere near Benatia.

      He wanted to leave for more money, Roma thought they could get more money, that’s why they blew up his price – and when nobody came forward to pay the price(probably with the fresh David Luiz example in mind), Roma board sent out letters to the shareholders saying “We need to sell someone”. When you set a price so high everybody passes and buys something/someone else and a moment comes when you realize you have to sell at any price, you will sell cheap.

      Supply and demand.

    • Peter says:

      P.S. Mathieu made La Liga team of the week according to Goal.com.

  33. Kxevin says:

    Ah, Benatia. The unicorn/white elephant has found a home, at Bayern. Rumors that linked us to almost every CB on the planet hardly linked us to him. No idea why. Did the coaching staff not ask for him? Why not? All good questions.

    But a club willing to spend 81m for a striker who isn’t going to play until November would very well have been able to buy Benatia, had the coaching staff asked for him.

    I also saw an interesting analysis of Roma’s goals conceded/defense with and without Benatia. The point of the analysis was to ask, after Marquinhos and now Benatia went for premium prices in consecutive seasons, whether the system wasn’t as much to credit for Roma being thought of as a CB finishing school as the players themselves.

    It was interesting to read.

    Ultimately people are going to think what they want about Benatia. I don’t think anything of him, but I have nothing invested in his purchase. I don’t think the board/technical/coaching staff is stupid or incompetent, or let one get away.

    I also think if you buy Benatia, you might as well sell Bartra, because if he can’t even play in front of an, according to some, crap-ass CB as Mascherano, however would he get a shot to play in front of the Best CB In Creation, in Mehdi Benatia?

    So as usual, we wait to see what events and on-pitch performance bring us.

  34. agar2515 says:

    I legitimately think this space is the only one I’ve seen that is so dismissive of
    And snarky about Benatia. No idea why.

    • Kxevin says:

      I wouldn’t say “dismissive of and snarky.” I would say thoughtful and questioning. The biggest question remains. Even Bayern wasn’t in for him until Javi Martinez went down with his serious injury.

      And he went for less than 30m. That’s less than Marquinhos, who we were willing to pay 40m for. So again … why.

      I think that social media is overreacting to Benatia and our club’s decision to not even pursue him. I also think that to react with emotions verging on rage to Barça not signing a player doesn’t make a lot of logical sense to me.

      But I do understand the atmosphere around the club, and I am sure that is contributing to it.

      • FCB16 says:

        I think that people are reacting as they should. Bayern are getting a top European CB in his prime for 30m, yet there are people making excuses for Zubi and co. as to why we didn’t even come close to getting him.
        This convo sums it up for Me: https://twitter.com/migerucb/status/504359618710364160

        Same thing with the Douglas though in the other direction, everywhere else it seems as though people are being rightly thoughtful and questioning his signing, yet here it’s ” give them the benefit of the doubt” and “wait and see”. Just some food for thought.

        https://twitter.com/RafaelH117/status/504280851166003202
        https://twitter.com/RafaelH117/status/504282078754926594

      • Benj says:

        I gotta agree with Kev here, the fellers (and fellettes) that have been ‘dismissive and snarky’ of Benatia are just being realistic, whereas every other space seems to be in panic mode, blaming whoever and whatever for missing out on the greatest defender in history. It happens with fans of every club, when a player signs for another club, ‘why didnt we get him’ ‘our director of football/manager/owner/kitman are useless’.
        These knee jerk FIFA manager reactions dont take into account anything other than the price. Just because player X signs for Club A for E20m, it does not mean that Club B, had they offered the same E20m, would have successfully signed him. Sorry to constantly make my comments about my own club, but look at Liverpool’s persuit of the likes of Van Der Vaart, Siggurdson, Konoplyanka, Dempsey, Barry, and many others (none of which I would have in my team now!), these players all went to clubs other than Liverpool despite us being linked constantly with them and the fan reaction is that the manager and director are incompetent. More recently, with the case of Alexis Sanchez, apparently all wrapped up and ready to come to Anfield, but at the last minute he chose Arsenal. Myth: Ian Ayre stuffed it up by not offering enough. Reality: He simply wanted to go to Arsenal.

  35. Leeroy Jenkins says:

    This Douglas deal that won’t go away is going to turn into a disaster for the club.

    The guy is 25 and commonly thought of as not good enough by the fans at his own club. How does he possibly fit at Barca? He can’t be good enough for the first team and he is too old for the B-team – a younger player with more potential would be cheaper.

    The only way to make sense of the transfer is to remember that Traffic owns a large portion of his rights, so he will be another Henrique/Kierrison transfer for Barcelona. Pad those pockets with the clubs money people!

    Also let’s continue suing the former administration for misuse of funds… the irony!

  36. Man, people do need to relax. We have some of the greatest players on the planet and still we need more. Someone mentioned above that everyone else rates Benatia incredibly high except for this space. I think that a lot of people here wanted Benatia, but there is also a certain level of thoughtfulness (dare I say maturity) present here that 1. realizes that this is a game, and 2. that we know very little about what is going on behind closed doors.

    I would have been quite happy with his signing, but I am also happy with Mathieu. I think we have a fantastic squad, a great coach, and a real chance at the CL. Buying every single star does not make a team win.

  37. ciaran says:

    I feel an ‘I told you so’ coming along with the Benatia to Bayern for €30m deal. I had arguments with Kxevin & Peter with regards to his fee if he were to be sold this summer. I remember suggesting that he wouldn’t be sold for more than €35m on a few occasions and having that good ol’ €60m shoved back at me.

    Funny that he is good enough for Bayern but wasn’t for us…

    Kxevin, your suggestion ‘Even Bayern wasn’t in for him until Javi Martinez went down with his serious injury’ doesn’t make sense when we lost Puyol permanently. We had as big if not a bigger a void in our squad with the retiring of Puyol as they had with the long term injury to Martinez. As for footballing philosophies they couldn’t be more similar to us if they tried (which they are) and they have deemed a €30m purchase the right move for them.

    I’d rather have a sure thing €30m defender in Benatia than a question mark over Vermaelen’s injury record and €20m. I’m sure the extra funds could have come from selling Song & Alves/Adriano at reduced fees and have Mathieu as Alba’s backup.

    • I guess it’s just too obvious of a good signing for there not be some reason right? I mean, I don’t think Zubi is incompetent. He’s not perfect, but he’s not incompetent. Maybe Bayern held out till the right time? Can you imagine what it would be like if we held out on a CB signing till the last week, impending ban looming?

      Also, this summer we witnessed two CB’s break signing records. Thus, it’s not too crazy for Kxevin and Peter to have thought that the signing would break the bank.

      And, furthermore, we don’t have all the details.

      • Kxevin says:

        Without knowing the details, who knows? What I do know is that we didn’t get him, and there was clearly a reason, one that we will never know and can only speculate about.

      • Peter says:

        Roma were acting tough and were trying to get the best price possible for Benatia, until reports surfaced that they must sell someone if they want to evade Champions League sanctions due to not fulfilling FFP regulations. When that happened Roma realized three things:

        1. Their bluff had been called
        2. Clubs willing to pay premium(PSG, City, Chelsea, Barcelona) had already finished purchasing, and had done so somewhere else.
        3. They had to sell, and sell (relatively) big.

        This is when Bayern strolled in, waving casually a wad of cash.

        In any case, Barcelona have paid 20 million up front for Mathieu and Vermaelen, and will have to pay 19 million more in the next four years – 5 million per year over the next two years for Mathieu, and 5 million in variables for Vermaelen, as well as 3.8 million if Barcelona wins the Champions League two times in that period. For the moment, however, the cost is 20 million. For two players. One of them is Mathieu. Funny how the screaming and mockery have transformed to the sound of crickets.

        @Ciaran
        Selling Alves and Song sounds awesome on paper, until you realize that few clubs can meet their salary demands AND offer a suitable transfer fee at the same time. It sounds even less awesome when you realize few of those clubs want to buy Song and Alves with those salary demands and transfer fee demands.

        • ciaran says:

          I don’t have any issue with the transfer of Mathieu although his fee was too high, regardless of rumours about the installments reducing the up front portion.
          I do have an issue with the fact that we weren’t willing to spend more in the department that needed it most. Mathieu is a very good defender and if things go well we should get maybe 3 years from him. Vermaelen is a gamble and I would be willing to make it if we had less change this summer but with with things as they stand I’d much prefer a surer thing.

          We just played Masch in defense this weekend and while the result was a great one things could easily have went wrong. The idea of Benatia impeding Bartra doesn’t fly with me considering that we just started Masch ahead of him.

          All in all we’ve had a good summer but I don’t believe that anyone can honestly say that if they were given the names of Mathieu and Vermaelen at the start of the summer that they would have been happy with them.

          I’ll finish with one final point, If Vermaelen gets back to his old self then he could be our best defender with his natural leadership and tactical knowledge.

    • kosby says:

      Yes you were right. I have no qualms admitting you were right. I also do think that there was a lot of pressure on Zubi to get the defender signing secured before the league starts so that the players have a chance to get acclimatized. I think thats why they signed Mathiue (who luckily seems alright till now). I would absolutely have loved if Cuadrado were to be signed as well, but I am not unhappy about our current squad. Visca Barca !

    • FCB16 says:

      I agree with you Ciaran. I find it strange how ok everyone is with this after we wasted 3 years chasing Silva and two with Marq.ONE summer of finally doing their jobs isn’t > the years of nothing, especially as they got us BANNED FOR A YEAR from transferring players.
      This transfer window must’ve really calmed people in here down. It’s gone from “board out” to suddenly giving them the benefit of the doubt on everything and not questioning any of their moves this summer. Only in here though for whatever reason. There are plenty of people still fed up with this board.

      Im also laughing at everyone shoving ONE game from Mathieu in people’s faces. Like someone said a thread or so ago, we have a fanbase really prone to ” HAHAHAH! I TOLD YOU SO! Idiot cynical cule!” for whatever reason. I’m glad he did well but gosh people calm down.

      • Peter says:

        Nobody is shoving one game from Mathieu in people’s faces. Rather, the loudest screamers against his signing have gone to ground when it turned he actually can complete 90 minutes and is not the cruth-walking senior citizen-slash-industrial chimney that he was made to be.

        As for the fanbase, the real fanbase of Barcelona is really prone to foretelling disasters for everyone and everything, while depreciating the value of anything positive. While some call it objectivity, I prefer to call it misanthropic pessimism, which it normally is.

        I suppose we should calm, down, it’s just Elche, right?
        On the other hand, I personally am not ecstatic for the same reason I wasn’t screaming for Zubi’s head before. Time will tell whether the transfers are good. One game, especially against Elche(who were saved from relegation on the last day, mind you) does not show whether the player is good. However, and this is important, one game is infinitely better for judging the player than NONE GAMES, which is what the majority of culers criticizing him and the board that signed him used for their judgement.

        I’d also really appreciate if you refrain from putting words in people’s mouths, especially insults. This is not goal.com, nor totalbarca.com – and thank god for that.

  38. norden says:

    To steal the analogy from an older discussion… Stop being jealous about others’ shiny toys and let’s play with the toys we have. Might turn out to be fun, actually :)

  39. Peter says:

    Vermaelen, Neymar and Ter Stegen are training again. Apart from the rest, but training on the pitch.

    I’m not sure, but have they been called up for their respective Euro qualifications/International friendlies? If they haven’t that would give them time until the 14 of September to return to fitness without any distractions, with just the Villareal away match this Sunday, which both Vermaelen and Ter Stegen would miss, but their absence won’t be felt with the presence of Bravo, Masip, Bartra, Pique and Mathieu. Neymar is another question mark, but personally I’d rather have him not rush back just for that game if Munir, Rafinha and Pedro can cover for him.

    Villareal had to work for their 2-0 win vs Levante the other day, but still they remain a tough opponent. They will have to play on Thursday vs a Kazakh outfit for the Europa League group spot, but the game is at El Madrigal and Villareal won the away leg 0-3. The consequences will probably be a mostly rested Villareal team and an awful pitch come Sunday.

  40. Levon says:

    Belated match comments that might – might – not have been mentioned before:

    – Alba played like a man. Lots of interceptions, plenty of fire.
    – Interceptions? Sport claimed Rakitic had 12 of them. 12!!!
    – I really liked Munir’s first touch that created the space for that 1st half missile on the post.
    – Messsssssi!!!
    – last season’s opening game against Levante had us all enthusiastic because of? Yes, our intense pressing of the opponent when we did not have the ball.

    Last but not least, a big welcome to new member of the family, Tardigrater. Always good to see new voices here!

  41. Peter says:

    FC Barcelona’s page confirms Douglas has been signed and will sign for five years:

    4 million Euro fixed transfer
    1.5 million depending on games played.

    Well, at least he isn’t expensive. We’ll see whether he’s good later. Or not. Try as I might, I remember the real deal Keirrison, who the club just finished paying for(he had signed until 2014). Hopefully this one will be better.

    • kenny says:

      Later this week a big club will sign cuadrado for peanuts and culers will be crying for everyone’s head.
      Jk
      Don’t know who he is but maybe he can give Dani some competition as I’m not completely convinced by Montoya.

      • Peter says:

        I believe this may have come as a result of Adriano’s discovered arrhythmia. An insurance of sorts.

        The transfer is actually cheap in absolute terms. A lot will depend on whether he can settle down rapidly and whether he has what Lucho needs. The truth is that the total transfer of that player can be amortized in one single opportune moment, especially in the knock-out stages of the Champions League.

    • Rami says:

      It’s impossible that this deal can be worse or even be equal in shoulders with the Keirrison and henrique deals, Cause those two cost the club 8 and 14 million euros respectively.

      The fact that they chose to go through with such a transfer, Knowing our unpleasant past experience with those previous two, Tells me that the club must in some form or shape have a much better confidence in the success of this transfer, But that’s just speculation from my part.

  42. Kxevin says:

    Shades of grey. There are very few things in life that are black and white, and sport is one of them.

    The board is, for me, filled with fiends whose hearts are fueled by avarice. They will say and do anything to keep power, and I don’t trust them as far as I can throw them. From neglecting the sporting project to youth transfer ineptitude that will paralyze the club for some as yet unspecified period are the most recent of the ways in which they have damaged this club.

    So that stuff happened. They also loosened the purse strings, and allowed our sporting director and technical staff to finally do its job. The result is a squad that is significantly strengthened. It is the best squad we have had going into a season since the first year of Guardiola, really, in which almost all of the significant weaknesses have been addressed, except for right back.

    So they kicked our puppy, then gave us a thousand dollars, and we are still mad at them for kicking our puppy. That’s fair, but it doesn’t negate the fact that they gave us a thousand dollars.

    But instead of enjoying the team, culers are bickering over players who weren’t signed, as I predicted. Benatia is a Bayern player. He was never a real target for Barça. Why? Dunno.

    I do know that the mistrust and cynicism that permeate everything that so many culers bring to the table when it comes to this club is, while not surprising, makes me wonder when people are going to have fun. If, after winning the Champions League, people say “Jackasses. We would have won it by a bigger margin had they bought Benatia.”

    The past is the past. Mistakes were made. The future is the future, as yet unknown. All we know is that the club won its home opener 3-0 with a very impressive display from a team that isn’t anything like full strength. “It was only Elche.” But you can only play the opponent you face. So yes, it was only Elche. Should the team just play RM and Atleti, and let the other teams draw lots for 4-22 in the table? Or should be admit that this same Elche who we couldn’t score against last season was dispatched with significantly more ease this time.

    Depends on what is the state of your glass.

    And now Douglas, another unknown. There is no soothsaying, no real way to see into the future. “Douglas is crap,” say the people who purport to “know.” Okay. So when he is in fact crap, we can all say “Hmph. They were right.” But if he isn’t crap, will the people who asserted that he was admit their error? Doubtful, as all we get are the sound of crickets from the “Rakitic instead of Kroos is stupid. Stupid board!” crowd.

    We’re still waiting to see what happens. And while we are waiting, we might as well actually enjoy this team and how it plays.

  43. Rami says:

    Every time i see someone raving about a certain player, Speaking with utter confidence and demanding him, The first thing that pops into my head, Is what will he do when this player of his turn out to be sub par or flat out fails, And it’s usually along this line:

    “What a shame, I had great expectation about this one, But yeah what you’re gonna do, Spilled milk is spilled milk, You know what, While we’re at this subject there is another player that i think will be perfect to replace this one….”

    And that’s that, And what did you really expect, That he’ll pour gasoline on himself and become a human torch, Or go on a hunger strike and live in Tibet..
    The above can be also be applied about some one hating and raging about a transfer.

    Anything can be easy peasy when you don’t have to live the consequences, And that’s us, The fans.
    “I want that one, And that one, And that one, But definitely not that one, And i want this, This and this out of the squad”

    To us, It’s all point and shoot, We’re not the ones responsible for the tens millions of euros that will be at stake, We don’t have large media outlets following our every move, Or the gazes of the millions and millions of fans all around the world.

  44. agar2515 says:

    As usual I agree with @lucasammr about this, “@lucasammr: Only an imbecile would WISH any signing we make fails. But being blind about their actual abilities is pure lunacy.@lucasammr: The fact you, for some reason, think “welcoming Douglas and wishing he thrives” is gonna improve him overnight, time to rethink life.” Etc. Really, if harsh ( truth hurts) good string of tweets here.

    • agar2515 says:

      And I’m enjoying the heck out of this team, I’m delirious I finally
      Get to see them in a month, but I can enjoy them and disagree with management moves at the same time.

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

    - who the hell is this douglas?
    – Munir!
    – Di maria off to utd for twice sanchez’s fee. wonder what bfbers think. do y’all rate him better than lexus? How is it that we are able to sell marketable high profile players like cesc and lexus for such pittance compared to other sales?

    • G6O says:

      Di Maria did not “fail” at RM the way Alexis and Cesc were perceived to have with us. He is coming off a season where he was the best player in the CL final. Big difference.

      Of course, RM have always been much better than us at selling players so that’s a factor too, but not the major one in this case

    • fotobirajesh says:

      Oh yes, Di Maria is a much better player than Alexis. But then it is Real Madrid, who know how to sell and buy. See what they paid for Kroos, and what they got from Di Maria. Seems good business for me.

      Unfortunately, for us, we would sell a world famous Villa for , you know what, and buy a Douglas for ….
      I just hope this wont be another Kierrison, and he will be at least give some competition to Montoya and Adriano.

      • Valdemar II says:

        They get paid better for their sales, but they also overpay in their purchases. Their Welsh kick-and-run artist is the most expensive player in transfer history, and Haymes Who? Rodriguez cost 80m.

        • fotobirajesh says:

          I agree. But at the same time, we also seem to have paid the same or even more for Neymar. The Welsh player, helped them get the Copa somehow.
          They bought the Columbian for 80, and we bought Suarez too for somewhere around the same figures. Imagine the punch by Ramos or Ronaldo was done by Suarez, what would have been the repercussions?

          • Kxevin says:

            If you were to consider the total cost of any transfer as people did with Neymar, those costs would rise considerably. The actual transfer fee paid for Neymar was and still is 57m. The other costs were in addition to the transfer fee. There isn’t a transfer fee in history that doesn’t have those similar additional costs.

            MD did a calculation from somewhere that Bale, using the Neymar “total cost” formula, would be something approaching 200m. Ultimately, who knows?

            My fondest wish is that people would stop believing the ever-escalating Neymar transfer cost, a number that varies based on the agenda of the person “reporting” it. As far as anyone knows, his actual transfer fee was 57m.

            As for transfers and value, etc, Alexis Sanchez is a brilliant player, but he isn’t Di Maria. A Di Maria analog for us would be Iniesta, who would fetch significantly more than 65m.

            Douglas is, like any transfer, a risk. More thoughts on him below.

          • fotobirajesh says:

            Yes, Iniesta should get above £65m. But if Barca are selling him right now, I dont think we will look for anything above 40.

          • Kxevin says:

            Well, that isn’t true. Assuming the club was going to sell one of its best players, which it would never do, it would be for as close to his stratospheric buyout as possible.

          • G6O says:

            Iniesta is 30 and while magnificent with the ball, quite slow in terms of linear speed, which means he will not play anywhere as well as he is for us for any other team. Hard to see him going for more than 40 at the moment.

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

      I agree, right now there is nothing to separate us from EE in terms of moneys spent or profiles of players chased. Atleast they are unapologetic and open about it – in their quest to sign the ‘best’ players. We used to have a way of doing things. Not anymore. We spend just as much money as EE does. Only we have a better academy and they are a much better functioning business.

  46. Kxevin says:

    Noted some excellent thoughts on Douglas this morning on Twitter:

    What if the player isn’t a joke, disaster or Ponzi scheme, but rather some forward thinking on a punt by the board. You spend 4m for a raw talent with gobs of pace (the thing you can’t teach) and spend a season with him under Alves/Enrique tutelage, so that he can learn positioning and how to be a Barça RB. Then you see.

    If it doesn’t work, you’re only out 4m, which is in effect no money to Barça. If it works, you got yourself a kick-ass RB.

    • Hilal says:

      Yes exactly, it’s a risk on an unknown player who may or may not end up any good, but at 4m it is barely a risk. Similar to the risk Roma took on Marquinos, who when he went to Roma was hardly lighting the world on fire but had the raw talent. I have not seen any of Douglas aside from youtube clips, but I am assuming he must have at least some talent to go with his obvious pace.

      It’s funny cos fans complain that we never unearth talents like Marquinos but then when we try they complain that we are signing crap, unknown players. I guarantee it would have been the same had we signed Marquinos from Brazil ahead of Roma.

      • barca96 says:

        I also don’t mind taking a risk from Brazil but the thought of him coming from Traffic (Henrique, Keirrison who never even set foot on Camp Nou, etc.) is giving me the creeps. In any case I’d prefer Montoya to get the nod over him.

        • kosby says:

          If it was a position in which we had absolutely no cover then I would be a bit wary about signing someone not used to this kind of football. But since we’re got Alves and Montoya already, it seems we’re in a good position to take this “risk”. Like Kxevin said, if it works out awesome and if it doesnt..meh..we tried..

    • Leeroy Jenkins says:

      This makes sense if he is 20. Not 25. Very few players make significant changes to their skills and trajectory at that age. The exceptions are exceptional players, which Douglas isn’t

  47. Hilal says:

    I know youtube can be misleading, but he really doesn’t look THAT bad – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBxbkLcLBTk

    • Kxevin says:

      Never trust YouTube highlights. Slightly more useful are the complete match ones that show every touch a player makes.

      It’s funny that people are so against the signing, many of the same people who scream about how the club never takes a punt on a potential diamond in the rough for a low fee. He’s 24, which is quite young, and should be teachable as heck. And he cost 4m, which isn’t much more than was paid for Afellay.

      I just don’t see a down side.

  48. fotobirajesh says:

    This is a must read for not only all Culers, but anyone interested in football. Just came across this from the guardian comment section. Incredible it is. what a pity , we cant download the file.

    this from when Van Gaal was at Barca, by the way? His vision document for team strategy. Fascinating.

    http://www.slideshare.net/coachingtech/barcelonaphilosophy1

  49. Kxevin says:

    There is a “Greatest Captains” series over at ESPNFC, and Dermot Corrigan makes a case for Puyol:

    http://www.espnfc.com/club/barcelona/83/blog/post/1951350/all-time-greatest-captain-carles-puyol-the-inspiring-leader

  50. Kxevin says:

    In the “I didn’t know” file, Mathieu did a 3m contribution to his transfer fee to facilitate the move.

  51. FCB16 says:

    I see people are already constructing positive narratives on Douglas based on, what exactly? You’re telling me and everyone else to just ignore all the critiques about him? All the cheering from his fans at his departure? Their shock at our interest?

    We live in an age where I can have a DIRECT conversation with a Sao Paulo fan about his limitations and weaknesses. Today one can do research about any player, let alone someone already 24 years old. By the way, Marquinhos was 18 when he as signed by Roma, massive difference.

    There is no cloud of ignorance over him, there is no ” Hmmm we have no idea so maybe he’s a diamond in the rough? So saying we complain about never unearthing a ” diamond in the rough” and are now complaining about Douglas? Come on. I also do not the reaction from some people who are scoffing at the opinions of Brazilian fans. Whereas I’m looking at them as genuine sources of information on a player very much unknown, I’ve heard everything from ” They’re jus hopping on the hate wagon!” to ” They’re still delirious over the Germany defeat!” from others. The borderline arrogance shocks me.

    Why is it so hard for people in here to try and be realistic? Which does NOT MEAN I AM CYNICAL OR BEING NEGATIVE. That’s all Im annoyed at, otherwise you’re right it’s a small investment but it’s an investment I can still have a view on.

    • Kxevin says:

      People can have any view on the Douglas transfer they like, positive or negative. One side doesn’t get to label the other anything. If someone can say he sucks and will suck forever and it’s a stupid transfer that probably involves kickbacks to Traffic and board members, someone ELSE is allowed to say that he is a risk, a prospect that could learn to become a quality RB for Barça.

      So one group says that supporters are a “genuine source of information,” even as we can acknowledge that Barça supporters have said that Sanchez, Fabregas, and others are crap, even as they shine for their new teams.

      Another group, I reckon in this case the team’s technical staff, have their own sources, that have said to them that Douglas is worth the risk.

      So two views form: crap, or some sort of project. Both views are valid, and can exist in the same space. We should refrain from shouting another equally valid viewpoint down just because it doesn’t hew to ours.

      As for Douglas, “already 24″ makes it sound as if he is an ancient, doddering old coot incapable of learning. 24 is still young, even in football terms. Dani Alves was 25 when he joined Barça. He learned a new system and adapted very well to the demands of a new club.

      The only fact in this matter is that we just don’t know. Everything else, including that he is a crap player, is opinion.

    • Rivaldo says:

      Ok…

      I’ll use an example with what you said to show you your hypothesis is flawed.

      What say we ask three sets of fans about Cesc do you think you would get a clear idea of him and his abilities by speaking to a Arsenal, Barca and Chelsea fans respectively?

      Perspective is key.
      Also a fan isn’t a scout.

      • FCB16 says:

        Difference is Cesc was CLASS at some point (AFC) , Douglas never has been. It’s not flawed at all. He plays different roles at CFC and AFC suited more to him. His talents are undeniable, his FOOTBALL IQ stellar, he just didn’t fit here.

        • BA says:

          you’re right; i don’t think even Cesc’s most ardent detractors here or in the stands would claim that he’s a bad PLAYER, just that he was the wrong player for our team and what we needed to succeed.

          Douglas, by contrast, seems to have basically nobody arguing that he is in fact good enough to play for Barca; even supporters of his club in Brazil who have watched him extensively are mystified. my guess is this is a buy with roots in backroom dealings with his agency and our “scouts” in Brazil. the same scouts who brought us Henrique and Keirrison. our Europe and Asia-based scouts seem to do outstanding work, but when was the last time we snatched a rising talent from South America? Messi, 15 years ago?

  52. Kxevin says:

    In other news, real and rumored, Adriano is back training with the team. On the rumor side, Xabi Alonso to RM is apparently rather far along. There is also a rumor, also from Spanish media, that the agent of Reus is at RM’s house, and negotiations are going well, for a price of around 30m or so.

    We’ll see what happens with both rumors.

  53. agar2515 says:

    And that they’re going for L.Gustavo to replace Xabi too. I won’t comment on Reus , that would crush me. Madrid is ours this year. They could’ve planted their feet and reinforced after La Decima but instead are dead set on embarking on yet another galactico age. Let them.

    All opinions on Douglas aside, this reflects poorly on Montoya does it not? That he’s been ” in the system” for ages and yet we’re bringing in someone of virtually
    The same age to try and learn it before Dani leaves. Ouch. I think , those people who view 24 as ” old” view it as such in Douglas’s case because of the unfavorable words following him ( though opinions as you said).

    I will say though that Dani before his transfer was already a stud with Sevilla: http://www.theguardian.com/football/2007/mar/05/europeanfootball.sport3
    Douglas doesn’t come with accolades like that^ though your ” wait and see” point is taken, all
    we can do is wait.

  54. ciaran says:

    It’s hard to have an opinion on Douglas. The negativity to a player who, at 24, had never been linked to aby club with importance and all of a sudden signs for the biggest club in the world is understandable.
    I think too many Brazilians jump ship to eastern Europe or Japan too early in their careers these days. How many talents have been lost in Ukraine or Russia for only a very small few going on to ever make it big. It’s refreshing to a degree to see a Brazilian still ply his trade in Brazil in his early twenties and it could serve him well.
    Every Dutch player that delays his transfer outside his own country seems to do better than the younger ones that make the leap as teenagers.

    Thiago Silva, Miranda and others have left it til their mid to late twenties before making the jump to Europe so it’s not like he is old, and neither were particularly setting the world on fire at 24.

    Could this transfer fail? Yes but that doesn’t mean that it will. The closest comparison I think I can make is with Juliano Belletti. He had played for a couple of teams in Brazil and made the move to Europe and Villarreal at the age of 23 with virtually no fanfare. He had a reasonable first season and a better second season so we snapped him up as a squad player who went on to win us the champions league. Wouldn’t it be quite a fairy tale of Douglas could scale those heights…

    • G6O says:

      That so many young Brazilian players have been going to Ukraine and Russia at a very young age is a significant reason why Brazil has lost its flair. At 19 you are still developing as a player and if you go to a place with a very foreign footballing culture it is more likely that that culture will heavily influence you than that you will bring your own unique style to it. So it happens that Ukrainian and Russian football represent the second most antithetical to traditional Brazilian footballing values style (after god old route-one English football). Of course, the Brazilians have done a lot to abandon their style internally, and that’s a long story on its own, but it does not at all help them when their most promising players go to Ukraine at the age of 19…

      • Inamess says:

        Interesting note on Thiago Silva from Wikipedia that seems to confirm those problems of shipping off Brazilians to fight on the Eastern Front:

        “After several problems breathing and injuries, there were few opportunities, and then was transferred to Dynamo Moscow, with Russia in January 2005 . However, in Moscow with the intense cold, health problems worsened and Thiago suffered from tuberculosis , leaving him hospitalized four months”.

    • Inamess says:

      This is an excellent point! What might be an indirect result of the underage transfer prohibitions is that more Brazilian players will stay to play for the top teams in Brazil at least until they can be sold to Europe for a nice profit. No one knows, but it’s quite possible that Henrique and Keirrison would have had good careers had they stayed in Brazil for a longer period of time at a top club.

      On the question of the value of the opinions of fans of other teams, I think they are a valuable source for the qualities of their own players and the situation their teams are in. For example, this article from a fan site explains a lot of the context and reasons why Benatia went to Bayern for such a low price. It seems that Bayern was lucky to come at just the right time to get this player who was more or less making it impossible to keep him:
      http://www.chiesaditotti.com/2014/8/26/6069469/mehdi-benatia-transfer-bayern-munich-as-roma

      As for the Douglas matter, I am not expecting much based on what little I have read but would certainly like to be pleasantly surprised. One thing that might be key to it all the status of Dani Alves since he seems to be staying. I think he said in his press conference that he has a contract at Barca until 2016 so if nothing else Dani, Montoya, and Adriano will at least have some competition or backup until we are able to sign players again or have a prospect ready from the B team.

  55. Peter says:

    Dear God, I just watched one of the most remarkable play-offs you could ever imagine!!!

    The Crazy foresters(Ludogoretz) made the Champions League group stage!!!

    • G6O says:

      1. Equalize on aggregate in the 90th

      2. Have their GK sent off in the 119th minute

      3. Have no subs left so they have to bring an outfield player in goal

      4. Outfield player wins them the shootout

      This one will be remembered a long time for sure

    • Peter says:

      Trailing 0-1 on aggregate, Ludogoretz had to win in order to force extra time. After 90 minutes of missed chances that was achieved with a beautiful volley that left the Steaua keeper standing still.

      After another 30 minutes of extra time forcing the Romanian champions in their own half and box, all looked like penalties, when one of Steaua’s CBs latched onto a clearance and sprinted forward. The Bulgarian keeper rushed forward and brought him down, earning himself a red card, just seconds before the penalties… and Ludogoretz had used their three subs. One of the CBs, a Romanian named Moti, had to put on the shirt of the reserve keeper, try to save the free kick and hold on until the penalty shootout, and he did, Ludogoretz’s wall doing its job to deflect the ball to a corner kick, which Moti then punched away.

      Then the penalties came. Moti scored the first penalty, then conceded the first of Steaua, watched in horror as Ludogoretz’ goalscorer had his weak shot saved…

      And then he saved the second Steaua penalty.

      Nobody else missed, three more penalties apiece were taken, Steaua’s keeper coming tantalizingly close to some of the shots, Moti with his hilariously bad “technique” being wide, but all penalties were superbly taken.

      It came to sudden death penalties, both teams scored their sixths, Ludogoretz scored their seventh, before Moti threw himself wide to the right to make a brilliant save and went on a blind mad sprint towards the waiting crowd.

      Not even Hollywood can make such a script. Only football.

  56. Inamess says:

    Did anyone get a chance to watch Arsenal today? Two possible penalty non calls for Besiktas but Arsenal progress 1-0 on Alexis’ goal. He looks like he will do really well for them. Alexis may now even be their new striker since Giroud is out for a while unless they can quickly buy a replacement.

  57. Kxevin says:

    I absolutely adore the fact that Flo Flo can’t leave well enough alone, that RM has done not one, but TWO moves to weaken their squad in selling Di Maria and then Xabi Alonso. Ancelotti had a strong squad capable of playing in many ways, but those two sales changed that.

    Excellent.

    • norden says:

      Does it mean that EE have just officially abandoned the catapult-at-Ronaldo as their main tactics?

    • Gekko64 says:

      If we’re lucky they might even sell Khedira as well :D

    • ciaran says:

      I can’t believe that they are so naive to not see the value that Di Maria and Xabi Alonso had in their squad. Granted they got very good money for Di Maria and Xabi is old but they were integral to the success of last season.
      Kroos and Modric as a double pivot is all well and good when they are in possession but offers no defensive capabilities. Add to that two rather offensive fullbacks and inconsistent central defenders I can’t see them beating the big teams this year, especially without Di Maria.

      • Valdemar II says:

        Sure. Add their lack of penetration, and the fact that Benzema is about as useful as Pedro at this point; it seems that the troubles from their pre-season are far from over.

  58. norden says:

    Xabi Alonso could become a great coach one day, considering how many top class managers he has been (and will be) learning from.

  59. kosby says:

    Barcelona, PSG, Ajax, APOEL.
    Real Madrid, FC Basel, Liverpool, Ludogorets Razgrad.
    Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Olympiacos, Malmo FF.

  60. ciaran says:

    So Barca, PSG, Ajax and Apoel.
    Not easy in any way but we’ll qualify. At least Ajax play football and Apoel are very beatable. PSG will be tough and should qualify with us.

  61. morph73 says:

    Our group (F) is the second toughest group:
    Barcelona(ESP)
    Paris(FRA)
    Ajax(NED)
    APOEL(CYP)

    EE group (B) seems very easy for them:
    Real Madrid(ESP)
    Basel(SUI)
    Liverpool(ENG)
    Ludogorets(BUL)

    Group E is the toughest IMO:
    Bayern(GER)
    Man. City(ENG)
    CSKA Moskva(RUS)
    Roma(ITA)

  62. I think all 4 La Liga teams have a excellent chance at qualification. The groups are really balanced with Group E the only stand out tough one. Barça should qualify in spades. PSG doesn’t scare me at all to be honest.

  63. PrinceYuvi says:

    We get David Luiz ! Marquinhos will watch from the bench.

  64. Peter says:

    Group stage time schedule:

    Barcelona:
    17.09 Matchday 1 Barcelona – Apoel
    30.09 Matchday 2 PSG – Barcelona
    21.10 Matchday 3 Barcelona – Ajax
    05.11 Matchday 4 Ajax – Barcelona
    25.11 Matchday 5 Apoel – Barcelona
    10.12 Matchday 6 Barcelona – PSG

    Real Madrid:
    16.09 Matchday 1 Real Madrid – Basel
    29.09 Matchday 2 Ludogorets – Real Madrid
    22.10 Matchday 3 Liverpool – Real Madrid
    04.11 Matchday 4 Real Madrid – Liverpool
    26.11 Matchday 5 Basel – Real Madrid
    09.12 Matchday 6 Real Madrid – Ludogorets

    In plain words, Barcelona plays Ajax at home on Tuesday, whereas Real play Liverpool away on Wednesday. Clasico at Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday/Saturday. The chances of it being Friday are almost non-existent, and Suarez will be available for his first competitive game for Barcelona.

  65. Kxevin says:

    Sport alleging that Song told teammates over lunch today that he would be leaving the club. If true, I wonder where?

    • BA says:

      truly, i for one don’t care. he was a terrible fit, and almost certainly a waste of money. decent (not great) player, but nowhere near what we needed. and, yes, his acquisition is another example of the board short-shrifting the sporting project.

      hopefully he’s off to a team he can work well in, though my sympathy for him is limited given his far-too-big wages and behavior during the World Cup.

      • agar2515 says:

        Shame his wages are so high and he’s been underwhelming for years, two things making this transfer take waaay too long. Funniest thing I’ve heard all day is Falcao on LOAN for 20mil to Madrid. Laughing really hard at that, I hope they do it.

  66. mr.undercover says:

    WTF!!!! Can someone pls shutss CR7’s mouth up??? How dare him to talk about messi’s golden ball award? Someone should shut him up before I commite a murder, realy pathetic tbh uffffff.

  67. mr.undercover says:

    WTF!!!! Can someone pls shutss CR7’s mouth up??? How dare him to criticize messi’s golden ball award? Someone should shut him up before I commite a murder, realy pathetic tbh uffffff.

  68. KEVINO17 says:

    Anyone watch Arsenal v Besiktas. Early days, but I get the feeling that Wenger is going to have Alexis playing the free-floating orchestrator/scorer role that he does for Chile, and he’s going to build a whole team around him. Certainly isn’t going to waste him out on the wing.
    If that’s the case, and Alexis stays fit for the next three or four years, I think he really is in the right set-up to fulfill his destiny as a player. Ballon d’Or? Quite possible. Be interesting to see what happens, anyway.

    • Inamess says:

      I am definitely going to watch more Arsenal games since they have Alexis now. I wonder how Ozil and Alexis will play together. For those who know Arsenal better, is there a sense that Ozil just may not fit as well on the team as most Arsenal fans would have liked?

  69. Kxevin says:

    Why do people bother getting worked up over stuff that other players say? What else do you expect Ronaldo to say when asked who the “best” is? It doesn’t matter.

    — Every big club got a bye to the next round, really. For all the talk about how easy RM’s group is, ours should be a stroll in the park, as well. They will have difficulties with Liverpool, just as we will with PSG, but the other two teams should be not all that difficult.

    Yes, we lost to Ajax last year, which didn’t matter a whit to the group result. Nobody should be worried.

    • Jafri says:

      Ah, but with the group stages being as irrelevant as always, it’s still important to top the group, otherwise getting to the latter stages becomes that much harder because you have to face a group winner if you come second.

    • fotobirajesh says:

      I dont think the above comment was about – who the best is, but probably about the ‘prison’ reference.
      It seems media has wisely underplayed that part, as of now, for the sake of Ronaldo.
      I saw the comment by mr.undercover and didnt know what it was so called an ardent CR7 fan, who explained it, and even he feels bad about it.

  70. Kxevin says:

    Pique not called up by Del Bosque.

  71. Kxevin says:

    Some illuminating comments from Mascherano at his presser today:

    –“Barça attacks and defends through positioning and order. We recover the ball through positioning and order not individual duels.”

    –“I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feeling when I said that the club has self-destructive tendencies.”

    “But there have been things that happened in the club that instead of helping us, put up roadblocks for us.”

    “People have told me that it’s cultural, that it’s always been this way. I’d like us all to be pulling in the same direction.”

    That man is a Boss.

    — Douglas will wear the No. 16, most recently sported by Busquets.

  72. dl says:

    Regarding Pique, is he injured? He was in the stands for the last game. What gives?

  73. Jim says:

    He was suspended for our first game and DB says it’s because he’s got ongoing discomfort but if he’s training with us I’m not inclined to believe that. Maybe he still feels he was the more culpable of the 2CBs against Holland ? Or maybe I’m just reading too much into it.

  74. Kxevin says:

    Looking like West Ham on loan for Song. Can’t see them not keeping him, but he might have to kick around until his price is manageable for a club that can also renegotiate his wages.

    With that, the squad should be complete.

  75. Inamess says:

    Going back to CR7s comments, I just hope that this gives Messi some more motivation to prove his doubters wrong. Personally, I am tired that every person associated with Barca has to repeat the “Messi is the best player in the world” mantra.

    It’s great that this season we have so many players who must feel that they have something to prove. Gone is the complacency and predictability of last season.

  76. Kxevin says:

    Okay. So Ochoa, the keeper who we were so stupid not to sign over Bravo, can’t even beat out Kameni at Malaga? That’s per the Malaga coach, btw.

    As I noted via social media, people are fond of calling this board and the club technical staff “incompetent.” But they are competent. Just not at doing the things that many culers want them to do. That gives them different goals (money, preserving power).

    I just don’t think someone can be called incompetent just because they don’t do what I or someone else wants them to.

  77. Temple says:

    Dunno what to make of this, specially because I wasn’t really into the back and forth hooraw.
    So this, from Renato Gonçalves, a “DIE-HARD” São Paulo fan, on Douglas Pereira — http://www.barcablaugranes.com/2014/8/29/6080979/scouting-report-douglas-pereira

    (I know some would muffle out a little cuss from under their breath, like “WT&F?^Q%??”, oh well … tut tut.)

    • Kxevin says:

      It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of Douglas, because they are going to think what they think about him, right?

      So the folks who dislike Douglas (which is almost everyone, the rest are merely confused by the signing), that “scouting report” is nonsense. Troll bait. My mind is made up, and Douglas is terrible. And that’s that.

      To those who want to think that maybe, just maybe, there was a reason the club bought him, it’s a different reaction. Again, that’s based in the response to the signing.

      At this point, he is going to have to play. People are saying that because Enrique didn’t attend the Douglas presser, that he didn’t approve of the signing, as if Enrique would be handed a player by anyone. But you have to believe that to fit the narrative you craft.

      It’s why nothing matters until he plays. At that point, we will see.

      • Peter says:

        This “Luis Enrique didn’t attend” stuff actually works if you want to paint a narrative of the board and the inept director of football signing poorly and handing the players to the coach. Luis Enrique hasn’t attended any of the presentations. Rakitic, Vermaelen, Bravo, Ter Stegen, Mathieu, Suarez, they were all with Zubizarreta on one side and Jordi Mestre in the center.

        Fits entirely the narrative:

        “If it had been Kroos instead of Rakitic Luis Enrique would’ve been there, right? Right?
        If it had been Benatia instead of Vermaelen Luis Enrique would’ve been at his side.
        If it had been Cuadrado instead of that unknown terrible Keirrison 2.0 Luis Enrique would’ve been there!!!
        If it had been EPL’s goalscorer Suarez instead of that racist biter Suarez Luis Enrique would’ve been there to… Anyway, the point is THEY DIDN’T SIGN CUADRADO, HUMMELS, REUS, BENATIA, COURTOIS, KROOS, MULLER, FALCAO, BLIND, DANILO, KEYLOR NAVAS, MARQUINHOS AND ROJO!!! Stupid intept incompetent imbecilic board/Zubi!!!”

        • Hilal says:

          U know what. I love that everyone, including Barca fans think that we didn’t do well in the transfer window. It means that for once expectations are relatively low as opposed to stratospheric! Reminds me a bit of Pep’s first season, when we sold our best player and bought Keita (who?). Pep was an unknown who had “way too much to prove for a club as big as Barca”.

          Let’s see, but I have not been this excited about a season in a long time. So many unknowns, so many possibilities. We may win everything, we may win nothing, but I bet we have some fun along the way and that’s what it’s all about it isn’t it?!?

  78. mr.undercover says:

    Lol peter you made me laugh, thumb up to you

  79. Nav says:

    Iniesta injured with knee problems. Doesn’t sound good. I guess we’ll be playing Rafinha – Rakitic – Busi midfield.

    • Kxevin says:

      Club says no real injury, but that the player needs rest. I reckon this is well timed for the international break as he will undoubtedly pull out of that match for the two weeks of rest.

      Luis Enrique: “Iniesta has some knee discomfort. We value player’s opinion a lot and together with the doctors we decided he won’t play.”

  80. Peter says:

    Not trying to tempt fate, but here´s what I’ve noticed this silly season:

    1. The club signed mostly players instead of stars(In spanish it’s a very nice phrase, “Hombres, no Nombres” “Men, not names”), with the exception of Suarez and Rakitic, who are both Names and Men.
    2. For some reason most fans and fans of other teams really think that Barcelona has had a terrible silly season and has failed to reinforce its squad with Real Quality(tm). All evidence of the opposite must be the fruit of the trusting, naive, gullible and hopelessly hopeful wild imagination of old crusty conservative hardline culers, board fanboys and assorted scum living in ignorance of the wisdom of twitter and football punditry.
    3. Luis Enrique’s father is Amunike, and his only managerial success has been reaching 3rd place in Segunda División(renamed Liga Adelante to spare the feelings of the minnows duking it out in Segunda), followed by a disaster in Roma and an ordinary season of taking 17th-place Celta and finishing 9th with them(equal points with the 8th Valencia), in the process killing Real Madrid’s Triplete aspirations in the penultimate round of La Liga.
    4. Taking into account 1+2+3 follows that Barcelona are under less pressure than before.

    Nobody really expects this outfit of misfits to make it anywhere near what is considered “The Top”. As they say, “Lightning never strikes the same place twice”, right?.

    I wonder what the management of the Sears Towers would have to say about that.

    • Kxevin says:

      The trick to having a world-class nucleus is careful augmentation and filling in around the edges. On paper, it seems that the club has done that with the exception of right back, but I haven’t heard of any killer RBs on the market this summer at any rate, so might as well take a punt on Douglas.

      Transfer season is a simple case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. So “sign somebody, anybody” becomes “I didn’t mean HIM!”

      So the team goes out, plays very well even if nothing approaching full speed, takes a 3-0 stroll against Elche and it’s “Oh, well it’s Elche.” And that’s understandable, I reckon, as long as you forget recent history with that being the same Elche this team couldn’t score against at their house.

      The real proof of the pudding will come in May, when we know what this will have actually done over the course of the season. All the rest is bench racing, narratives and supporter favorites.

  81. Kxevin says:

    Song to West Ham it is. Still no word on whether it is a loan or straight transfer.

    — Douglas took part in his first training today. The players joined hands and greeted him with a rousing cry of “Culers say you suck,” sung to the tune of a familiar Catalan lullaby. No word on how the rest of the session went.

    • Peter says:

      Mundo Deportivo has 14 minutes of the allowed first 15.

      http://www.mundodeportivo.com/20140830/fc-barcelona/primer-entrenamiento-de-douglas-como-jugador-del-barca_54414500041.html

      Barcelona’s youtube channel has the same training video.

      Three things:

      1. Messi, Masche and Suarez look like they get along together. Good.
      2. Rondos along the line of the central circle, with three players in the middle. Very good. While small rondos are mostly about control and passing accuracy, big rondos with three in the middle seem to be more about conditioning, fitness, pressing and teamwork. Not to mention most of those passes are about the average length of Barcelona’s passing. Good training.
      3. Ter Stegen recovering and training with a bungee rope tied to a goal-post. Interesting.
      4. SPORT is running an article about the firm that is in charge of repatching the torn surfaces of the training pitches at Ciutat Desportiva. Apparently the firm hasn’t had so much work since 2011. Nice.

    • Peter says:

      Loaned for his last season. Official Barcelona communique.

      • Peter says:

        And if West Ham assume Song’s salary, Douglas’s signing has been amortized. :D

        P.S. According to the declared details of his signing, each block of 30 games in which Douglas plays at least 45 minutes will mean 500 000 Euro, for a total of 1.5 million, which is the complete set of variables.

        • ciaran says:

          Song to West Ham is a great deal for us. If we had sold him now then we’d get around €10m MAX. After a year of hopefully and probably playing very well in the EPL we should have a lot more suitors next summer and get a bigger bid. Just because someone doesn’t do well at Barca doesn’t mean they are a bad footballer and Song is certainly not a bad footballer.

          I find it amusing that people were happier to gamble 40 plus million on Marquinhos than €4m on Douglas. I’ve never been impressed with Marquinhos, not with Roma and not with PSG. Douglas is a risk but it’s a very small one.

          Just to clarify, if someone is registered with the senior squad they cannot play with the B team so those who have been saying that he’ll probably spend the season with the B team are wrong.

          • Peter says:

            Agreed, and furthermore Douglas is a much smaller risk both in economic and football terms. He plays in a position that is currently well-covered, so he will have time to both settle down, learn the Way and reach optimal fitness while not under the pressure that would’ve been the case of Marquinhos – lots of money + a very hard position to play in, as well as almost immediate need to start.

          • Levon says:

            I think the risk is quite high, considering that Dani Alves can leave next summer and we won’t have adequate cover for his position – unless either Montoya or Douglas unexpectedly become very good players.

          • Peter says:

            Dani Alves can leave next season, but he has a clause for an automatic one-year renovation based on games played.

            If Douglas doesn’t work out, Montoya doesn’t work out and Barcelona cannot sign anyone until January 2016, Dani Alves is still an option.

            Low risk. Actually very low, considering how many clubs queued in order to sign him this summer.

  82. PrinceYuvi says:

    Falcao just posted about his E.E. signing and deleted it afterwards.
    A forward step for them. Gah.
    It’s said, Falcao was offered to Barça earlier but we rejected him right away, but that’s none of my business.

  83. barca96 says:

    What on earth is going on at Goodison park? Every attack resulted in a goal for the past 10mins. Amazing stuff.

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      Cesc is going crazy with his through balls.
      Freakish amount of space,
      Highlines galore,
      End to End footy with way too many transitions ; his Favourite hunting ground.
      That hardly happens in La liga.

  84. kenny says:

    Dani nieto looking good for eibar against atletico.

  85. Kxevin says:

    Oof. Negative reviews from neutrals for the Deulofeu performance at Sevilla. He has time, though. Suarez kicked ass as usual, apparently.

    • TITO says:

      The difference between them is that Suarez doesn’t think that he is a finished product and now the doors are open for him at the highest level. He knows that he is far from reaching that and he works, at least on the pitch, you can see it.
      On the other hand, Delofeou has his problems that most of us and all of his coaches have already identified. He needs to sort those out, if he wants to be somebody in the world of football.

  86. Peter says:

    Today’s news from MARCA reveal that Ancelotti has the shortest squad since ten years: 18 field players and 3 keepers.

    From the composition of the midfielders it seems that Ancelotti mostly wants to play creative football: Illara and Khedira are the two true defensive midfielders, and while Modric and Kroos can help quite a bit, they are more about creativity and control. Isco and James are pure attacking midfielders and the striker team as of now consists of Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema(+ Jese who is recovering from his torn ACL).

    There are 36 hours until the end of silly season. In Britain the TVs are apparently going to cover it better than they covered last elections. :D

    • ciaran says:

      It’s a thin squad and not very diverse. They also have a very week cantera at the minute so it’s not like they have that to call upon. It looks like their game plan is to get it to their forwards and hope for the best.
      Their front four will have plenty of goals in them but Kroos and Modric are not the most incisive when it comes to through balls so it’ll be up to the sole attacking midfielder of Isco or James to create for the three forwards.

      I look at our squad and I’m happier.

  87. Rami says:

    A draw is the most likely scenario today.
    When implementing new tactical ideas, And coupling it with the arrival of many new players, It’s seldom to escape the side effects, Against elche it seemed that the team lacked some harmony, And they weren’t as fluid as the coach could hope so.

    Villa real are always a very tough opponent in their home, And our team is currently in the process of adapting to various changes , So this isn’t the ideal time to face such an opponent.

    • Jim says:

      We should still have enough to handle them, especially if Messi is still in the mood. Pique will hopefully be keen to do well and I think he and Mathieu could be a good pairing. Disappointed LE hasn’t used Xavi instead of Iniesta. That was surely the most obvious swap. A lot hanging on Rakatic’s performance now.

      • Jim says:

        And now having just seen the pitch I can’t believe it can be in that state at the start of the season. What’s going on ?

        • Peter says:

          Villareal had to work for their 2-0 win vs Levante the other day, but still they remain a tough opponent. They will have to play on Thursday vs a Kazakh outfit for the Europa League group spot, but the game is at El Madrigal and Villareal won the away leg 0-3. The consequences will probably be a mostly rested Villareal team and an awful pitch come Sunday.

          See? Not to mention it’s Barcelona. If they could, opposing teams would have a herd of horses gallop about the pitch until fifteen minutes before the game.

    • G6O says:

      So far it feels like a draw indeed. We have watched that kind of game many times in the past – it’s an away game, the other team has parked the bus, we create chances, but not with the usual ease, and not of the usually quality and quantity, which means we need to be very efficient at converting them, but we’re not. At some point the other team manages to break up the flow of the game but creating a lot of 50-50 situations, and many fouls begin to be called. And so the game drags on and eventually we lose points.

      Hopefully Neymar and Xavi can change it in the second half when/if they come in.

  88. Jim says:

    Well, if I were Xavi I’d be on the phone to Man U to ask if they want a decent midfielder for a season. If he’s genuinely behind this midfield in the pecking order there’s no point in him staying.

    • TITO says:

      Agree on Xavi.
      Of course he wont play all the games, but surely he can bring something when he’s fresh.
      Bthw, Rafinha so far is not the same one from Celta.

    • G6O says:

      This looks like more of a blooding exercise – can the new midfield do it under real pressure, in an away game against Villareal.

    • Rami says:

      Extremely glad xavi decided to stay with us, Even at such an advanced age, He still can be integral to the team, It’s easy to get overly excited about Ivan and rafinha and prematurely throw all the burden on them in their first season, Keeping xavi will help tremendously in easing the transition, And he still can kick-ass.

  89. TITO says:

    There were times when Villarreal would actually try to attack, especially at home.
    I haven’t seen them so defensive against us, even when they played at Camp Nou.
    And that was a stone wall penalty for us.

  90. Peter says:

    Damn, I missed screaming the goals. It’s been a veery long summer. :D

  91. psalmuel says:

    Thats what happens when a parked bus gets broken. It can’t be fixed.

  92. TITO says:

    But man, we did miss a lot of chances tonight.
    Messi again shows the same desire and attitude from the first game. Great for us.
    Great team effort, i really liked how we played. For most of the game they were just afraid to play.
    And Dani, well, for the moment we have Dani 1.0 from Dani 5.0 when he arrived.

  93. Kxevin says:

    Excellent match today. Villarreal played its butts off, intelligent defending rooted in midfield fighting. Calling that a parked bus does them a disservice, even as they were playing not to lose.

    — Key goals from Masia products have been the story of the first two matches. And the young shall lead them?

    — Neymar had some misses, but changed the match today from his entry.

    — That is exactly how Xavi needs to be used from henceforth. Brilliant. Control and calm.

    — Messi missed some chances, but the calmness and control to set up that Sandro finish was out of this world.

    — Mathieu got the stinker out of his system. Okay.

    — Everybody who was blaming the incessant Alves crosses on Martino … ahahahahahaha!

    • Rami says:

      Alves keeps crossing into the box even when there isn’t that much of a chance, Is because our wide forwards are offering very little penetrability, Pedro and munir are not ideal in 1v1 situations, And the only way to get the ball into the box is either by passing to messi so he can work out some magic, Or pass it to alves to cross it inside, When neymar came in it became easier creating chances and alves started crossing less.

    • Jim says:

      Liked:
      The result. At this stage of the team’s development that’s the most important thing.
      The way we stuck at it throughout
      The press … but it’s a very long season.
      Mathieu holding his hand up to one of the errors. He’s better than this and will show us it over the season.
      Messi’s attitude again. Not surprised he’s feeling it
      Pique telling Alves to shut up and stop arguing
      The way Sandro timed his run to get in front of his defender at the right moment. Some of his elders could learn from that. If Alves is going to pile in crosses someone needs to get across his marker
      Alba’s speed !

      To be improved
      Midfield never looked close to being right. Rafinha in particular looked lost and Rakitic seemed to think he was playing RB, obviously under instructions which was worrying.. He’s no use to us there. Didn’t think he had a great game overall If Xavi is here and fresh and Iniesta is missing it’s a no brainer for me he starts in place of Rafinha and then bring someone on for him if need be. We could well throw away a rotation luxury if we’re not careful.
      Munir discovered today the work still to be put in on physique and not relying on the same moves. Defenders at this level will suss him quickly. Still, he’s young and entitled to take time to learn.
      Pedro is becoming a real wory. I’ve kinda defended him for the last two seasons but I’m starting to feel stupid. I mean what does he do ?

      I do like the energy LE has instilled into the whole team so far. As he learns I reckon this could turn into a very effective outfit. As Kxevin says we do need to rest messi occasionally whether he likes it or not but that requires the others to step up and I’m not sure they’re up to it yet.

      • fotobirajesh says:

        Agree with Rami and Jim.
        The only way of getting the ball into the box is via Messi and Alves. Miss Iniesta. Neymer did it once too.
        Munir needs to understand that his physique is not good enough to fight with the best defenders, pass the ball.
        Some of Messi’s through balls are incredible.
        Neymar could have had a hatrick. two of them quite easy ones for a player of his caliber.
        Excellent win. Except for a few moments, we tried relentless.

  94. Rami says:

    3 points worth of diamond!, DIAMOND!!!, YEEEEEEEEEES!!!!!!!!

  95. Hilal says:

    Great game, great bloody game. I thought we were excellent. I have heard some complaints about our play but people seem to forget there is another team on the pitch besides Barca and they played out of their skins. All credit to them. That said, we created plenty of chances, we passed the ball quickly and incisively, despite the state of the pitch and the press, ohhh the press. How I missed this part of our game. The energy and pressing today for me was the most important element.

    It is still early, the newcomers need time to settle down a bit, but so far I am very happy with what I am seeing. Messi is definitely back to his old self, Neymar looked great when he came on and Rakitic is going to be the man this season. Busquetz was all over the place, interceptions and key passes galore.

    The one player I really felt disappointed by was Pedro. It just seems like he keeps regressing season after season. Sure, he runs a lot and does his job tactically but so many times today the attack got to him and just died.

  96. Peter says:

    MARCA top voted comment:

    “Who would have said that a guy called Sandro would do something positive for Barcelona?”

    I’m laughing with tears even though I disagree. :D

    • Inamess says:

      Great Victory! I was really impressed with Sandro too. He looks like a seasoned player on the pitch.

      Nice to know that playing away at Anoeta can be a nightmare for more than one La Liga giant.

    • Rami says:

      You actually bother reading the comments on these news sites….It’s like reading goal dot com, But in Spanish, And by using a Google translator in my case.

      • Peter says:

        No, not really, Goal is just troll fest at this point. MARCA’s comments sections can be ordered by most voted content and sometimes those are pure gold, in any sense of the phrase. :)

  97. Jamal103 says:

    Xabi Alonso will probably be missed more than Di Maria for Madrid.

    • G6O says:

      You know, after both Di Maria and Alonso left, I am looking at Madrid’s squad, and they actually don’t have that much depth at the moment. Hopefully they don’t sign anyone between now and the end of the transfer windown

      • TITO says:

        They will probably add Chicharito to their front, but it wont solve them the problems that they have in their own half.
        They dont have problem scoring goals,the issue is conceding them. And luckily for us, they are few players with defensive duties short.

  98. Ryan says:

    Wow, Real Sociedad go from losing to tiny Eibar to smacking Madrid 4-2. I know home field advantage matters, but that’s quite a turnaround!

  99. Levon says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the match, especially our pressing. The bad news is that Leo is already injured – his body might not be able to take the continuous 110% effort he displayed in the last two games, as has been argued by many defending his less than intense approach over the last two seasons…

    • Kxevin says:

      Simple. Don’t play him every match.

    • Rami says:

      It’s just a muscle overburden, I can barely call it an injury.

      • aaron88 says:

        Isn’t this just a international break ‘injury’? Similar to Pique’s? Please keep all the WC players with the club during the next two weeks.

        • Jamal103 says:

          Practically it’s a sound idea. However, there’s a Germany vs Argentina rematch coming up soon and I would love to see Messi play. Not at the expense of his health though.

          • Jim says:

            Messi has done enough for Argentina for now. Physically he will need bouts of rest this season. Missing friendlies would be top of my list for ways to get it. Plus Argentina are needing ( a bit like us) to learn that others need to step up if he is going to get that rest. He’ll not sit on a bench and watch us go down.

          • fotobirajesh says:

            @Jim
            I understand now, how difficult it is being Messi. On the Argentina spaces, lots of them are swearing at Messi. That he looks back to his best in the last two Barca matches, have turned many against him. I am surprised, even people who sounded sane through the WCfinal loss, are now angry with him as they feel Messi dont want to play for Argentina.
            Right on time, someone also have started a rumour that hereon Messi will miss all friendlies with Albiceleste, and this injury happens.
            It is difficult to live his life.

  100. Levon says:

    - After half an hour I said to my gf, watch them relax now, they never keep up this intensity for longer than 30 minutes. Well, they pretty much did, up until Sandro scored. They didn’t pass the ball around for minutes and minutes and minutes at a time, because they weren’t afraid of getting the ball back soon after losing it.

    – The flip side, as I noted before, is that the best player on our team is already physically overburdened after only two matches.

    – Readers should know by now that I usually defend Dani Alves from most of the criticism thrown his way, but Villareal’s defensive gameplan was basically “let’s defend everyone except Dani Alves.” It’s a shame therefore that Cuadrado is deemed too expensive, especially since we’re banned from signing during the next two transfer windows.

    – I’m glad Munir started and will even go as far as saying its good for the kid to have had a minimal impact on the game. Will keep him motivated to work hard and will help him go back to the Barça B and take on a leadership role.

    – Still not sure on Rafinha. Haven’t watched too much of Celta Da Vigo last season, and he was injured when they came to the Camp Nou. I know he has ardent supporters and I do like his workrate, but he hasn’t overly impressed me since the pre-season started. It is too soon to tell, of course, but for now he’s a player that I really want to like more than one I really like.

    • KEVINO17 says:

      Levon – Defend everyone except Dani has been the strategy for the last two seasons. Funnily enough, people say Dani’s playing well because they seem him gallop into acres of space. But there is a reason why he gets acres of space.

  101. Spiza7 says:

    Someone mentioned today’s game was worth “Diamonds…”, I completely agree!! Grabbing 3 points away at Villarreal is pretty rare. You have to give credit to the team for showing character and pulling through, no matter the condition.

    Some thoughts/points on the game:-

    – Jordi Alba’s sprint in the first half, Usain who? :)

    – All 3 subs made a positive impact.

    – All of our midfielder’s struggled to make an impact throughout the game, and so it was so good to see Xavi just stroll onto the pitch and do his thing.

    – Good performance from Pique, Mathieu too but he needs to be a bit more calm sometimes, there was one clumsy clearance late in the second half that almost cost us the lead.

    – Busquets, our very own Harlem Globetrotter.

  102. Nick says:

    Mathieu does need to find composure. There actually were a few grave mistakes.

    And what is up with Pedro? He does not seem to pose any threat anymore.

  103. Kxevin says:

    Messi and Busquets had the most tackles yesterday. Alves had the most touches AND passes, with Rakitic second. Messi tracking back led to the tackle that started the play for the winning goal. Bonkers.

    — Deadline Day. Chicharito to RM, Falcao to United are the big two so far.

  104. agar2515 says:

    Wow it has been very quiet for us on transfer deadline day, @DiMarzio reported Inter turned down a bid for us for their Croatian wunderkind Kovacic , interesting. Thoughts?

    • Peter says:

      Personally I cannot remember a noisy transfer deadline day at Barcelona. :)

      I also cannot understand the idea of waiting until the last moment, even though don’t ask me how many times I’ve stopped in front of the office with tyres screaming. What you want to do is get your player as soon as possible so that you give him as much time as possible to settle down. This nonsense of buying the player and putting him on the pitch immediately is, well, nonsense.If you really want the player then get your wallet out and bid. Last hour of the last day won’t make the price cheaper – on the contrary, it may get more expensive as selling clubs with a desired player can stall and stagnate the talks in order to twist the arm of the buyer. And if it doesn’t happen due to some bureaucratic error, what then?

    • Inamess says:

      Deadline day seems to be mostly a British affair. The trend of players leaving Spain and Italy to go to wealthy teams in England is getting ridiculous. It just seems that no one has the financial ability to compete with the EPL other than Bayern, PSG, and the two Spanish giants.

      I know FFP has its purposes, but when Chevy is funding Man U to basically purchase an entire new team in a desperate bid to get the final Champions League spot something is wrong.

      Hopefully Spain will do well in the Champions League again and Valencia’s new billionaire owner will stick around for the long hall unlike what happened in Malaga.

      Here is a good article that looks at the similarities between the BVB and Atletico in competing with the giants.

      http://grantland.com/the-triangle/borussia-dortmund-atletico-madrid-and-the-art-of-talent-scavenging/

  105. Kxevin says:

    Arsenal grabbed Danny Welbeck. Still have no idea why they weren’t in for Falcao. Maybe the salary.

  106. agar2515 says:

    Crap , that should have started with “While” not ” wow” Peter haha.
    It definitely was a haphazard kind of day. I actually listened to talksport’s radio coverage, and the pundits were talking about how Arsenal and United’s activities today screamed ” panic” or at the very least not having a real long-term plan.

    That’s why the ” alleged” bud for Kovacic really struck me, it certainly seems odd to try and land on of Inter’s only gems on deadline day, especially at a position that I think many would believe we are set pretty well at. I do wonder…

    United have offloaded a fair amount of wages, but you’re right Inait is pretty absurd how much spending they’ve done this window. Other clubs just can’t compete with that. I mean Di Maria AND Falcao in the same window?! Wow .

    And you’re right Kevin, Falcao is set to be on 300k+ a week, although in reading around on Twitter, Arsenal fans think it’s more a matter of principle ( not taking on a glam signing for absurd wages , instead attempting to “play it safe” once again with Welbeck) rather than the fact that they straight up couldn’t afford him.

    Oh and Very quietly Atletico added Cerci, one of the top Serie A assist maker’s of last year for a reasonable 19mil, could turn out to be a very shrewd signing.

  107. KEVINO17 says:

    Maybe the three knee operations!

  108. Valdemar II says:

    Is anyone else very optimistic after the opening act of the season? Our rivals are looking quite weak, while we’ve looked ‘invincible’ at times; we are now favorites for the two domestic trophies. Don’t know if anyone is ahead of us in the CL pursuit either.

    • Jim says:

      Oh dear …. I’m optimistic by nature but also rather superstitious. Can we not award ourselves the trophies just yet? What I would say is that I expect our defence to be tighter and hopeful better organised this year and that in itself will mean we’re not going a goal down to a breakaway and having to chase matches against packed defences. If that happens we will be there at the end. However, so will RM. Ancellotti’s no mug.

      Jury still out for me on LE. He hasn’t really had to do much so far and the work of keeping everyone happy with a full squad hasn’t even started. Not sure Neymar’s fine for signing autographs wouldn’t have been better dealt with the first time by a quiet word rather than a fine. I sometimes wonder about him trying to live up to a hard man image which is different from having high expectations. However, others who know him better than me are sure he’s right for the job so I’ll go along with that.

      • FCB16 says:

        Hear, hear Jim. It’s waaay too soon to draw conclusions yet.
        Ex/ It’s fair to point out that Mathieu made some mistakes that better teams would have punished, while otherwise having a pretty solid game. He has not “shut up doubters” nor ” proved that’s he’s wank” yet (please know quotes are NOT taken from people here, there are in fact other places in the world where people discuss football)
        I am happy that most are advocating the “wait and see” with Sandro and Munir, as it should be. I just can’t wait to see Ter-Stegen

    • Tardigrater says:

      Mmm, I’m optimistic but I don’t let my hopes get too far. I FEEL like we can snatch La Liga this year but I can understand if we don’t. I am pleasantly surprised with Lucho. He is handling things pretty close to perfect but I thought Tata was last year too.

      Rakitic is proving to be a really solid signing. Mathieu had his hiccups against Sociedad but I’m confident he will settle in. Pedro looks…..like he’s missing still? Munir has impressed me. Aaaaand I can’t wait for Suarez to get in on the action.

      I’m happy with the team.

  109. Peter says:

    Silly Season is over. Forget about fanciful transfers, favourite targets and jewel-studded names. Whether by fault, design, ineptitude, ingenuity, wisdom, lack of alternatives, tunnel vision or sixth sense, this is the squad Barcelona has got. If worse comes to worst, this will be the squad for the next 16 months.

    The time to argue is over. The time to debate is over. The time to mock, ridicule and abuse, it’s over.

    Now is the time to get behind the team and let them hear your support. Now is the time to push together, to show unity, to stand tall and be counted. If you happen to go to Camp Nou, shout for your Barcelona until your throat is done, and when you cannot shout or sing, write “Força Barça” on a placard and hold it high for the world to see. There is no time for doubt, not anymore. As one great man said “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

    I’ll leave you with a video of the new faces:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgaOArCJUiI

    And as always

    Visca Barça.

    • Inamess says:

      Great Post Peter! Everyone has their own grips about what happened to this team over the past year and what players we should or should not have signed this summer, but it’s time to enjoy football again. The team has enough quality to compete for all trophies. Looking forward to a great season that will surely have lots of drama, and that’s even before our feisty new #9 even takes the pitch!

    • Sangoku says:

      Co-sign. We all need to pull together. Visca Barça!

    • Rami says:

      After seeing that video, No wonder you’re so pumped up, Now so am i!

      Visca Barça!

  110. Jim says:

    Hmm, not happy that Iniesta travelled to Madrid for tests on his knee. Doesn’t sound as trivial as we first thought.

    • Inamess says:

      Hope it’s not too bad. I am hoping that he was just examined to see if he would be fit to play in the friendlies over the next two weeks, but injuries are always going to be a concern with Iniesta and Messi.

      I would love for Messi to take those international friendlies off as some stories have suggested. I wouldn’t mind resting Messi in some of the early Copa matches either. The last two games show that he can still perform at his best but maybe just needs to play fewer matches. Get’s back to the walking vs pressing Messi issues that Kxevin and Levon had above. Doesn’t seem to be any easy answers

    • Kxevin says:

      Just put the question out on Twitter, not a peep. Checked the @barcastuff TL, and nothing. Jim, where did you get this information about Iniesta traveling to Madrid?

  111. Jamal103 says:

    Di Maria was fantastic for Argentina today.
    If he and Aguero were fit for the World Cup Final, I believe Argentina would have easily beat Germany.

  112. KEVINO17 says:

    I’m going to be in Paris on 30 Sept and want to go to the PSG game with four other people. IF anyone can help:
    1. Am I crack-head stupid thinking I can get five tickets?
    2. What is the best way to go about getting them?

    Any responses much appreciated.

    Kevin

    • Peter says:

      1. Almost. For away games the number of tickets is usually limited to a few hundred, many of those with the “travel with the team” pack which makes them wickedly expensive, and second and more important – they are available for soci.
      2. I would still suggest first calling the main office:

      “Members can get information for Champions League away games by calling 902 1899 00 (+34 93 496 36 00 from abroad). For certain high demand games in the knock out stages, the Club may open a ticket application process exclusively for members via the Club website. FC Barcelona will inform members of this process through the usual channels. Should demand outweigh the number of tickets available, the Club will hold a draw in front of a local notary to establish who is to be offered tickets.”

      An alternative is buing the tickets from PSG themselves. In such case I’d advise a bit of caution:

      1. Read very well where the most fervent supporters of PSG are, and stay the hell away :D
      2. Either look for seats in the main tribune, which will be more expensive and fewer, or
      3. Find out where the Barcelona fans will be allocated, and look for seats in that general zone.

      Hope that helps :)

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