Strange days, aka “Legends goin’ cheap. Get yours today.”

espmess

These days, the State of Messi is absurd. It is the worst part of the entorno as a player becomes, depending on who the person blabbing:

— Someone headed to England, just you wait …
— Like a bauble nobody deserves, so everyone worries about losing it
— An avatar for the Revolution
— A self-centered brat

Every statement is parsed. The day after … the VERY day after he said on Barça TV that he has no interest or intention of leaving Barcelona, he responded to a question posed at a Ballon d’Or event, a query about his eventual future with a reply that featured some existential uncertainty … and it started all over again, most dimwittedly of all, from many of the same culers who breathed sighs of relief after his Barça TV declarations.

Meanwhile the player himself, fresh off a performance that should have left precisely zero doubt about his happiness and commitment to the team and city, had to again explain what he meant. All Messi wants to do what he always does, which is strive to play the game of football better than anyone else alive, even better than himself.

It’s all the crap AROUND Messi, the headlines, speculation, Twitter rants and hooraw, all from a world that is more interested in being silly than admitting a simple fact:

The idea of Lionel Messi leaving Barça is fundamentally illogical, so much so that it’s worth a giggle more than a post. But because the idea seems to be persistent in parts of the universe, let’s have a nice, logical look at all the factors. What’s more, all of the Messi talk is getting away from the point, which is what is good for Barça? As someone hopelessly in love with this football club, that is always my first question.

Puyol retired not because he wanted to, but because he knew that it would be good for Barça. So much talk seems to center around Messi: what Messi wants, Neymar vs Messi, is Messi happy, who has mistreated Messi today … and it’s all so much nonsense, because Messi wants the same thing that any culer should want, which is for Barça to be as strong as it can be. All the rest is noise.

— Messi has said that he isn’t leaving Barça.
— His father has said that he isn’t leaving Barça.
— The club has said that he isn’t leaving Barça.
— The conditions don’t exist that would make it possible for him to leave Barça.

So let’s get busy, starting with …

The Board

“The board is going to make Messi leave. They want to sell him.” The reasons given for this are numerous, ranging from they don’t support the player during various smear campaigns, to they aren’t taking the effort to build a winning team around him, etc. There is even the latest adaptation, they want to sell him and make Neymar No. 1 star.

Messi shrugs off criticism as he used to shrug off tacklers to score goals, so do you reckon it matters enough for a player to uproot his life and start over in another city? Messi has said that he doesn’t care about criticism. What’s more, he doesn’t get criticism at Barça! He’s in greater danger of someone’s head going up his butt when he stops too abruptly than taking any significant criticism at all, much less to a degree that would make him take his glittering ball and leave. Paranoiacs mistake analysis for criticism. Let them.

Most supporters and pundits even go out of their way to defend Messi from the criticism that he isn’t getting, opting for a pre-emptive assault against a non-existent beast. So which is it: does he not care about criticism, or is he the most Sensitive Man Alive? Can’t be both.

“They aren’t building a winning team around him.” Nope. Nor should they be. Neymar, Suarez, Rakitic and the other transfers are all aimed at strengthening the team. The idea of building a winning team around any player vexes me because if that player goes away, you have a driverless car. When Messi was gone for 8 weeks last season, Neymar and Sanchez exploded. That made me happy as it should any culer, because the idea is to build a winning team that can deal with everything, even its best player being injured. Barça has made an effort at building that team this year, though we don’t know to what extent and won’t for some time yet, despite the howls about what Enrique is doing and how he’s doing it.

If Messi was going to leave because the team wasn’t being built as this winning juggernaut around him, he already knew that when Guardiola called for transfers and didn’t get them. And he sure as hell should have known it when Vilanova called for transfers and didn’t get them. Hell, they wouldn’t even buy Martino a change of polo shirts. If that motivation is sufficient to make a player leave in the belief that he isn’t going to win at a club, then I’m not sure what has to hit Messi over the head before this past summer to convince him that the board is more interested in the stadium project than the team.

Even as we dismiss both those factors, comes the persistent rumor that (shudder!) “The board wants to sell Messi.” They probably do, because it makes perfect sense to sell an iconic player who is adored by supporters just before elections, if you’re interested in winning those elections. That is as logical as can be. Our board is a lot of things, but stupid isn’t one of them. To believe that they want to sell Messi would be believe that not only are they stupid, but stupid enough to take a loaded gun, point it at their foot and pull the trigger.

The club has come out to say that Messi won’t be sold unless Messi wants to go, which brings us to the next round …

Does Messi want to go?

There are many reasons for a player to want to leave, and let’s look at them in the Messi context:

More money. No matter how much he wanted, Barça would offer him more.
Trophies. He has a pile of them. Let’s presume Barça is about to undergo a trophy drought to rival that of the odds that you’d see a waterfall in the desert. It would take amazing foresight to conclude that a team with the talent that Barça has at its disposal is not going to win anything anytime soon.
Building a team around him. See above.
Personal dissatisfaction with some aspect of the club. Okay. What could that be for a player who doesn’t care about anything except his son and PlayStation? Defense against the drug allegations or tax dodging? That ship has sailed, and he’s still at Barça. Unloved and unappreciated? We should pause again to laugh. Those evil board members making him feel unappreciated? Only if you assume that otherwise intelligent men are astoundingly stupid.
The rain in Spain. Tax laws and assorted mean people. Come on. Really? No. Seriously. Really? Is this a grown man, or a child? If Messi is a grown man, then stop treating him like a child. “They said bad things about me. I’m taking my ball and going home! (sniff! sniff!)” is being treated with plausibility by a world that should know better. Messi isn’t a supermodel who in a fit of drunken delusion, agreed to go on a date with a shlub. Stop acting like he is. “We don’t deserve him.” Yes, we do. And we know that because he is here and wants to stay.

Could another team say to Messi, “We will build a team around you that will rival that of Guardiola’s Barça?” Sure. But there’s a problem with that, which brings us to our next complexity …

Who will buy Messi?

Messi’s transfer fee won’t be a penny below the full 250m fee and then some, nor should it be. Hell, 250m is cheap, really. But who can roll with that kind of buying power? Chelsea? Not with FFP, not after the club has finally gotten into the black. PSG? Qatar oil money, and there’s plenty of it. But there’s still FFP. RM? Sure. Flo Flo would just get a bank loan. But does anyone think even for a moment that Messi would play there? And who would have to or want to head for the exits to make the deal happen? Bayern? No. Not for that kind of money. Citeh? Aw, hell yeah! More oil money.

But Messi is leaving because he wants to win, right? We have to assume that because if he’s leaving because people are saying mean stuff about him, he clearly hasn’t seen the BritPress in a feeding frenzy. He can SMS with Baloteli about that.

So let’s assume sporting reasons, and start with Chelsea. Mourinho has a great project going, and winning in the Prem is something that would appeal to Messi, yes? What would have to happen for Messi to go to Chelsea? Well, you jettison Drogba, Fabregas says “Not again,” Hazard sees constrained activity levels and who knows what Oscar is going to do.

This is, mind you, assuming Messi is still That Messi. Nobody has considered whether he in fact is. So let’s say he isn’t, and you spend 250m for a 10. Is that good value, and is what Mourinho would have to do to the team he is starting to build, worth it?

PSG is a non-starter. They can afford him, but play in Ligue 1. Giant fish, small pond, and moving Messi to PSG wouldn’t be enough to win a Champions League. Plus a declining Ibrahimovic is already there. Yes, PSG could sell him, which leaves them with Cavani, Lavezzi, Pastore and Messi? Do you, if you’re Messi, hitch your wagon to that, or Suarez and Neymar?

City? That’s actually the most logical suggestion. Sell Toure Yaya, who allegedly wants to go anyhow, we know because media outlets have told us so (“My birthday cake!”), slot in a more traditional DM and turn Messi loose as your 10. He plays with Aguero and Dzeko. Silva probably asks for a transfer, along with a few other players, not to mention the ones you would need to sell to get right with FFP, but you have it: your Premiership team built around Messi. Yet there again, if he wants to win, Aguero and Dzeko vs Neymar and Suarez.

The other issue is that spending 250m for a single player would gut the transfer budget of any team — even one that has to pretend to pay a bit of attention to FFP — for some time, putting that team in essentially the same situation that Barça is in. So why move?

Should anyone buy Messi?

Aha. The 250 million dollar question. Messi isn’t That Messi, and won’t be. But this Messi is still the best player in the game by a fair sight, I don’t care how many goals Ronaldo scores. People talk of him moving with the alacrity and acceleration of the past, but they’re kidding. The reason Messi could score goals like before he did was because he had acceleration, quickness, strength and phenomenal balance all combined in an otherworldly combination. Messi is 27 years old, and has played enough games to make him 30+ in football years. He’s also fast approaching that time when a game based on the kinds of gifts that he used to display almost for fun, will of necessity change.

General thought is that he is going to become a phenomenal 10. Is any 10 alive worth 250m? A 10 will set up goals, a 10 will get you goals. But that 250m player is the one that scored 90+ goals in a calendar year. No team in its right mind would pay 250m for a 10, even one with the potential to do what Messi could do as a 10. He is a brilliant passer, but there are other brilliant passers, who wouldn’t cost 250m. He’s the best passer in the game right now, but are those passes worth 250m, when you have to buy a slug to try and convert them because you’re broke?

No team, even the wealthiest, would pay 250m for a 28-year-old 10 with about a million miles on his legs. It’s easy to say you want to buy Messi in theory, but in reality, suitors would have to ask some very complex questions, most of them probably ending in shrugs and uncomfortable glances around the meeting table.

So now what?

Calm down, and don’t fall for hysteria from anyone trying to read tea leaves, hysterical culers in social media or journalists who should know better. “Messi location/happiness” headlines draw clicks and eyes, even as they come from people who should know better, whose powers of deductive reasoning are no less that some guy sitting in Chicago, banging away on a keyboard.

You should be secure in the knowledge that a Messi sale doesn’t stand up to a good, hard look. Those who want to believe, want to be convinced that smart men are in fact very, very stupid, will ignore logic. They will believe that Messi can be that magical player again, once he leaves the albratros of a team and board that is holding him back. But that is the blind side of idolatry, and you shouldn’t fall for that any more than you should the tabloid fabrications of a Daily Somethingorother.

What you should do most of all is enjoy him without worry. He is an extraordinary player who is fun to watch, as most genius players are when a generation is lucky enough to get one. And that fun, that joy, should be enough.

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

65 Comments

  1. January 14, 2015

    Well written article.

    As for myself, I remember Laudrup getting sold to M*drid, but I was just a young boy and it was around the same time they bought Romario, so I was like, hey, that’s ok.

    I remember inexplicably losing Ronaldo after the Brazilian’s greatest individual season ever.

    I remember Figo betraying us.

    And just imagine if they had handled Maradona better.

    So forgive me for believing Messi could be sold as well, and I do believe this was Rosell’s original plan. Implausible? Sure. Impossible? Most definitely not, especially for a club like ours.

    Other than that, it must be tiring for Messi to constantly have to justify his words.

    • Davour
      January 14, 2015

      Messi said himself, in football, anything can happen… and if there is a real problem at the club, perhaps a deal would be significantly less than the buy-out clause. But if that snowball in hell would materialize, it will be Man U who buys him (and Messi’s motivation will be to play with the, in Messi’s view, best player on the planet: Di Maria).

  2. lovell
    January 14, 2015

    new member(definately Not a new Culer). Been following for months now. world class writers Kxevin and co, Salute. The messi dilema… tough spot. frankly and speaking as a messi fanatic, i believe messi needs barca more than people realise.With cr7 on his tail and all. cr7 will make it a point to smash ALL his(messis) la liga records, should he leave and he knows it.

    Sell messi ? take the neymar risk. bring back deulfeu?build a younger vibrant new barca . sounds tempting … although few culers muster the courage to think it. we sold dinho so why not?. Is messi grown too big for the club etc..

    This is what i know. with the level madrid is playing at the moment , such a move (to sell messi) would be suicidal.

  3. January 14, 2015

    Kevin, just a small correction, if the club doesn’t want to sell Messi, then the only way Messi goes is for the buy-out clause to be activated, which is currently 250 million Euro. Except it isn’t only that.

    I think we’ve talked about this before, but I suppose it’s not a bad thing to repeat it.

    It’s not like a club can show up and pay the 250 million Euro. No, it’s the player who has to deposit that sum, or a representative of him. Also, if the player gets that sum from his new club, which would be the usual thing, that money counts as income, which is taxed. How much?

    In Catalunya for such amounts I believe the tax is over 50%. What this means is that Messi’s hypothetical new club has to fork over more than 500 million(538 million is what Rosell stated in an interview back in summer 2013 when the rumours had started again). Those 500+ million Euro pass through the Treasury department, which retains more than half of it, to reach Barcelona’s account as the 250 million buy-out amount.

    The only way this could actually work would be for Oil Money to gift Messi with more than half a billion Euro, so that he, once a free agent, could sign for the sky-blue and play in Northern English weather.

    AS. IF.

    • barca96
      January 14, 2015

      Thanks for clarifying it. Do you remember what Messi’s previous buy out clause was prior to the last renewal which was just last season wasn’t it?

    • January 14, 2015

      250 million euro + 50% tax is 375 million euros. The only way it can jump to over 500 million is if tax is more than 100% which doesn’t sound right…

    • January 14, 2015

      Taxes are applied before the deposit, over the whole sum, precisely because it´s considered income for the player.
      Complete sum – Taxes = Deposit sum.

      It’s just like the salaries – due to Catalan tax brackets, FC Barcelona pays a few million more in taxes than they give Messi.

      125 million are 33.3% of 375 million.

    • G6O
      January 14, 2015

      Of course, if it came to that, I doubt the club would dig in its heels and demand the buyout clause. It will either be a transfer for less than 250M, or it will be 250M as a transfer fee, not buyout. And it would not necessarily be a bad deal for the club – it might turn out to be a complete disaster if he not successfully reinvents his game (I am confident he will) but also ends up playing at a high level for mot of his 30s. But he might also decline very fast. So for the club 250M is a very goo value at the moment.

  4. rcbarcafan
    January 14, 2015

    Been a long time follower of this blog (since the offside days) and would like to congratulate Kxevin and team for the amazing job!!!
    I’m travelling to Barcelona end of this month and am looking to fulfill my long time dream of watching a Barca match at Camp Nou!!!!! The Barca-Villareal match to be precise.
    Which section of the stadium would you guys suggest I get the tickets for ?

    • January 14, 2015

      I’d check the weather. It’s possible you’re better off in the more expensive, but covered section of the stadium this time of the year.

      If the weather permits it, I’d say first rows of the second ring, lateral, i.e. where the “Un Club” is written. Depends on your preference, but I’d suggest to get as close as possible to the center line, you’d get better angles of both goal mouths and it’s a nice compromise. I watched Ajax from the “N” sector, awesome view, but unfortunately Barcelona was attacking the far goal in the first half. Still, I got to see the Sandro goal.

      In that side you’re more likely to have socis for seat neighbours. Also, if Barcelona attacks to the left on the side they show on TV, you’d get Messi in close proximity. 😀

    • ciaran
      January 14, 2015

      It’s easy to forget just how big the Camp Nou is. If you try to save too much money you can end up with a poor view and often poor atmosphere.
      For some, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to go to see them so I’d definitely pay the extra few euros and go with Peter’s recommendation.

  5. barca96
    January 14, 2015

    I’m sorry, I just had to share this comment found on the Guardian. I was choking from laughter. Read about the Messi vs Pep coke story but it was not as bad as this. I have a feeling that this reader exaggerated, slightly;

    Noodlescheyenne
    This comes from former Swedish manager Hans Backe. He claims that whilst in the dressing room before a game, Pep was giving a team talk (08/09) and Messi supposedly interrupted him (which is weird already, right?) and asked Pep to get him a Coke.

    Refusing to be his Coke bitch, Pep said that players should not be drinking fizzy drinks before game because it gives you bubbles in your tummy and rots your teeth (probably). Messi stands up, grabs a Coke for himself (not a Pepsi), cracks it open and downs it in front of everyone, getting it all down his shirt and on his face (probably). He then walks over to Pep, breathes in awkwardly as he stands in stunned silence and lets out a burp that houses the slow gassy sound of ‘fuck you, Pep’ held within (probably).

    Messi walks out and scores 5 goals in that game (all with a sticky face which he hasn’t cleaned just to REALLY show him) before running into the dressing room where his team mates shake Coke cans all over him like champagne, Pep weeps gently in the corner whilst drinking a bottle of drink, knowing that he will never truly be a part of the ‘Fizzy Drink Boys’ as they are now called or, more specifically, ‘Bebidas Gaseosas Niños’. He leaves for Bayern Munich, erm, a year later because of this incident (probably). Reports suggest that Coke is banned from Pep’s house as he retches at the sight of it – cheers Messi.

    Backe says this is true and he has a whole load of lawyers to back him up. None of them drink Coke.

    • G6O
      January 14, 2015

      The 5 goal game was in 2011/12, not in 2008/09

    • PrinceYuvi
      January 14, 2015

      Brilliant 🙂

    • January 15, 2015

      This funny story came out some time towards the end of 2013, I think, a little before the Bdor voting days.
      The most weird thing about the story is how come a Swedish manager know so much details about this incident. If Messi is such a spoiled brat, there must be lot of people in the club itself, with whom he must have issues. Most of them should be leaking many such, isnt it.
      The other interesting note is, when it first came out, this was told by a coach from USA.

  6. Manny
    January 14, 2015

    Great article Kevin.
    Like you iterated, the right perspective usually disperses most rumors.
    Analyzing the prospect of Messi leaving for another team without taking the financials into account is ridiculous at best.
    Although it’s been proven over time that when World Class players want out they customarily get their way, these players still need a destination which fits their demands.
    Players in their prime have a win-now mentality which narrows down their potential suitors and that generally beats any amount of money that less qualified suitors can offer. (Especially when dealing with players like Messi or CR who make most of their money off endorsements)

  7. ciaran
    January 14, 2015

    I understand Levon’s thoughts as I too remember Barca selling some big stars at inopportune times. Ronaldo at his peak with us was near unplayable and was improving until LVG came in and instantly fell out with him. I too forgave the Laudrup sale as there were foreigner restrictions at the time. He also never repeated his form with Madrid in my opinion.

    I do however think it highly unlikely that Messi will be sold in the next 3-4 seasons. The figures involved, the FFP and connection he has with the club make me believe it won’t happen in the short term.

    What I do like is the fact that we are less dependent on him then we were two years ago. Yes, it sure is nice to have a player capable of scoring 60+ goals a season but it is not healthy to be so reliant on just one player. Neymar has become a phenomenal footballer over such a short period and it surely is just a matter of time before he is considered the best in the world. Suarez is a great goalscorer and player and we still have a lot of up and coming talent waiting in the wings.

  8. PrinceYuvi
    January 14, 2015

    Brilliant neymar post earlier.
    thanks.

  9. PrinceYuvi
    January 14, 2015

    Who in their right mind would spend 250M on a 10 ?
    Surely not the crazy rich billionaires who’re obsessed with him since eternity.
    He’s not merely a 10 (Forward, Winger, 10, MF, Leader, Smokescreen…..) ; But also a truly global brand.
    At a club like EE where they know how to market their stuff, he’d get much bigger still.
    In any corner of the world, people love him.
    The global interest, global shirt sales….
    These mega rich owners are glorified trophy collectors, & Messi is the shiniest trophy ever made in football.

    • agar2515
      January 14, 2015

      Great points. With elections being called and, most likely, the people Messi has issues with being out pretty soon I don’t see him leaving until it’s to go back to Argentina to retire. He has the best vision and passing ability of anyone in the world,so even when his legs go he’ll still be able to play a key role in any side for years to come. He is also a global brand, so a quarter of $1 billion isn’t anything. I don’t see him leaving to any of the few clubs I could afford him, his heart bleeds Barcelona,he doesn’t subscribe to the absurd notion that he has to go somewhere else to prove himself, he would only leave if the situation were toxic around him.

    • PrinceYuvi
      January 14, 2015

      Amen 🙂

  10. January 15, 2015

    Who in their right mind would sell Messi?

    The same board whose president, days after Josep Blatter announced to the world that “there is a solution [to Barça’s transfer ban]”, goes on public radio saying that Blatter is now nervous because he [Barto] didn’t attend the Balon d’Or awards ceremony.

    So the FIFA president opens a door to solve an issue that seriously hamstrings the sporting project and out of nowhere up steps Barto to potentially slam it closed with his haughty behavior. How idiotic can they be?

    I’m not saying that means they’d sell Messi, but the head of the club repeatedly spraying the foot of the club with buckshot is part of what might lead to the circumstances of us selling Messi.

    EDIT: to put Bartomeu’s radio appearance into context, Blatter said, in reference to the solution of our transfer ban, that in football one needs to learn how to win and how to lose. Definitely NOT the moment to come off as arrogant towards FIFA.

    • Nik
      January 15, 2015

      *facepalm* Elections can’t come soon enough…

    • Jim
      January 15, 2015

      First of all, Lev, from the last thread I hope you didn’t think I was pulling a strop. Just found myself repeating the same things so been off working on my golf the last couple of days !

      Beach to discussions. I’m obviously out on a limb with Barto ( with many things !) Im not sure why people think he had been doing a bad job since he took over. Just to correct a little bit of what he said re Blatter ( from Total Barca)

      Bartomeu reiterated his position considering that FIFA transfer sanction on the club as “unjust”. “We changed the system of contracts with youngsters. The FIFA have gone nervous, but not because of me not going to the Balon d’Or Gala. The RFEF (Spanish Royal Football Federation) has helped us a lot, also we received the support of many other clubs from the ECA (European Club Association). I don’t know what Blatter is thinking, they have elections in May and maybe the decision has to do with high level politics in football”, declared the president.

      “The ball is in Blatter’s court, he has to play now. If he wants to fix the issue, he knows what he has to do: reducing the sanction. Blatter wants to talk to Barcelona and we are ready to sit down to resolve the problem that they created for us. I don’t know if it’s in FIFA’s interest to have a ‘Barca case’ just like there once a ‘Bosman case’.”, he highlighted.

      I’m not sure this is a poor stance to take. Blatter wants us to accept losing ( the judgement) with respect. What’s in it for us? He’s done his worst to us, isn’t offering a reduction. He just wants us to accept it. Well, I don’t see any great harm in letting them know we don’t agree by withdrawing co-operation, especially as the matter sems to be growing with potential court cases, Madrid being possibly sanctioned (under the watchful eye of flying pigs no doubt) and Blatter knows if guilty the sanction has to be similar.

      What was portrayed as Puyol and Abidal wanting nothing to do with the club turns out to be mistaken leaving the Barto sacking. Don’t know enough to say if it was justified but if it was now is the perfect time to act and he didn’t try to deflect any blame onto Zubi.

      He came out and detailed the Neymar transfer in great detail immediately after taking over, he faced the press and took any questions for over an hour recently.

      To me, Barto has shown he has the guts to act decisively if he feels it is needed but also to avoid the over- reaction. He is giving Eusebio more time despite the clamour for his head which, given the decent performance last year.

      Finally, he was quite entitled to take over, did so but despite a lot of the furor being whipped up by others looking to cause no good to the club ( as indeed the earlier socio was) he decided to call elections despite knowing his chances at this stage are slim. Would have cost him nothing to gamble on an upturn in fortunes by the end of the season.

      So my question is, what specifically has he done since taking over that folks don’t agree with or is it just down to his association with Rosell ?

    • Jim
      January 15, 2015

      Sorry, ipad again ! although I’ve just noticed that my finger joints aren’t straight anymore which might mean I’m not hitting the keys I think I’m pointing at …

      Corrections:
      Back to discussions
      Zubi not Barto sackings -(sorry if I got anyone too excited there)
      Furore

    • January 15, 2015

      I stand corrected, he did indeed say “I don’t think it was because of me not going to the blond d’or gala'” but regardless, he should have just kept his mouth shut. If FIFA is prepared to offer a way out our club should negotiate or lobby or whatever with them and not take a tough guy stance through the press.

    • Jim
      January 15, 2015

      Are they offering us anything? I assumed Blatter just wanted the fuss to go away before his elections and given the bother he’s in already. If there’s a genuine offer I agree. While there’s not we haven’t got much to lose. Blatter should already be grateful to us. Apparently the club persuaded one of the sets of parents affected not take court action directly against FIFA as it would take years to resolve and harm the kid.

    • Jim
      January 15, 2015

      Decent analysis. I’d agree absolutely with the sections on Messi’s positioning and its effect and Suarez’s movement ( they all it decoy). I’m not convinced at all by the section on vertical passing. I didn’t see a huge change, other than from Bravo on occasion. None of the goals came in this way and even the one example they use to support their argument ( Busi’s ball to Neymar) doesn’t support it as there were still seven or eight in front of him when Neymar received the ball.

    • barca96
      January 15, 2015

      Thanks for sharing. It’s been a while.

  11. barca96
    January 15, 2015

    What’s with Lucho’s fascination with Munir? Sandro is so much more useful. He holds the ball better, can actually dribble, looks much more confident on the ball and looks to be more at place compared to Munir who really needs at least 2 more years with the B team.

  12. Jim
    January 15, 2015

    Interesting Madrid game. Anyone who thinks we struggle against buses should have a look at how poor Madrid have been. Four or five passes then hoof it into the box. No patience whatsoever.

    I’d agree with the commentators that I’ d like AM up ten yards so they can actually afford to tackle which is their forte.

    And as I type this they get caught doing an old Barca with not enough back and Torres scores again. Over now.

  13. Jim
    January 15, 2015

    From Barcastuff: Barcelona line-up (official): TerStegen – Montoya Bartra Mathieu Adriano – SergiRoberto Gumbau Rafinha – Adama Munir Pedro #fcblive

    Decent lineup, not that it matters. Will be interested to watch how Mathieu approaches it. Attitude wasn’t great last Copa game.

    Btw, Madrid are a shambles. Also, not buying the wanting to lose scenario. They’re playing and tiring out their best players. White hankies overdue.

    • Valdemar II
      January 15, 2015

      Adama starting, all there was to wish for. That back-line is something we might have started big games with during the worst injury spells two years ago, not bad. Gumbau debut? People seem to not rate him.

  14. ciaran
    January 15, 2015

    I normally enjoy Madrid losing more than in that Atletico match. Atletico had the match locked down from the second that Torres scored the second goal.

    Our lineup is interesting. Munir playing centrally will be nice to see. Rafinha and Sergi Roberto is also nice backup from midfield and a first start for Gumbau is worth a look.
    I think Bartra & Mathieu is nice balance for central defense so while I’m not expecting many goals, I don’t expect to concede any.

  15. Jamal103
    January 15, 2015

    Did anyone else know Matthieu was so deadly at set pieces? We have a plethora of talent on this team..

    • ibbe
      January 15, 2015

      That was one hell of a freekick. It’s safe to say half of the team are able to score from set pieces. I don’t remember the last time we could do that.

    • barca96
      January 16, 2015

      Messi, Neymar, Suarez, Rakitic, Matthieu, I don’t count Xavi and Alves in. They shouldn’t be anywhere near the FK.

  16. Neel
    January 15, 2015

    Any reason why Samper did not play?

    • January 15, 2015

      Recovering from an illness, wasn’t deemed ready enough after training.

    • barca96
      January 16, 2015

      Fever

    • Neel
      January 16, 2015

      Thanks Kevin and Barca 96

  17. Adethings
    January 15, 2015

    Gladly eat my messi is not a glassman statement. Madrid players are so knackered. Hope they lose matches now which will be really demoralising to them. LE rotation is pure genius stuff

  18. Adethings
    January 15, 2015

    Confident of facing Atletico and their bus again in the copa. We just need to prevent them from scoring a goal against us and the psychological battle will truly be ours.

  19. Adethings
    January 15, 2015

    Love Barto’s statement. We have passed the stage of lobbying and have nothing to lose. This IMO is where Rossell really failed barca I.e defending the club and its players

    • January 16, 2015

      So when the boss of FIFA comes put and says “there’s a solution for this, I want to talk to one of Barça’s representatives” you say the time for lobbying is over?

      Barto’s statements were completely in line with what got us in this mess to begin with. It’s the whole “we haven’t done anything wrong, this is all FIFA’s fault, no es toc la Masia” all over again. I really don’t see how being the first president ever to get his club banned from signing players for a year is synonymous with defending the club and our players.

    • Jim
      January 16, 2015

      My understanding is that he’s happy to sit down and talk if there’s a prospect of a reduction in the ban, Lev. Otherwise, not much point. As he says the ball is in FIFA’s court for the moment. The club have admitted mistakes, been punished. If FIFA have something relevant to say we’re happy to listen. Have you asked yourself why, after doling out a huge punishment, starting proceedings against at least one other huge club they are suddenly wanting to talk about the punishment ?

    • January 16, 2015

      Have you asked yourself why, after doling out a huge punishment, starting proceedings against at least one other huge club they are suddenly wanting to talk about the punishment ?—-
      me thinks – it is quite clear for them that they would have to punish more big clubs including RM. So it would be nice for them to set a precedent by giving some concession to Barca.

    • Jim
      January 16, 2015

      🙂

    • January 16, 2015

      Yes, I have asked myself that, just as I’ve told myself the old man wants to run for election again. I can’t stand FIFA but, apart from the fact that I think it unfair Barça has been singled out for a practice other clubs are just as guilty of, I agree with taking a stand against this very practice.

      I just don’t see what can be gained from Bartomeu’s “holier than thou” attitude concerning this matter. Especially because our sporting project will be seriously handicapped because of a transfer ban that prevents us from signing players / covering positions that we should have done 6 months ago.

  20. Tata2
    January 16, 2015

    Watched the Athletico’s game and apart from his 16 yard box header, the world best player was largely ineffective. I hear people saying that if you take away his goals, he’s no better than Suarez or Neymar( In my opinion these two have a higher football I.Q than him) and I agree with them. Messi makes things work for his team, either by scoring or creating scoring chances and the reason he didn’t win the balon d,or these last 2years its cos his injuries affected his form and then his missing out on the world cup. On a good day you and I know that CR7 is not even close to Messi’s level. He can’t even beat his man off the dribble, he just gets the ball on the wings and returns it to midfield then runs into good positions to score goals and and also scores lots of penalties and that’s it. For the past two seasons, Madrid’s best players and difference makers have been Sergio Ramos, Di Maria, Alonso, and Modric. This season, modric and Sergio Ramos have been their saving grace but hey, they don’t get to score a billion penalties and get into good positions to score goals then CR7 over shadows them. Ramos doesn’t score that header against Bayern and Athletic in the champs league and the story is different.

    • barca96
      January 16, 2015

      I can understand when football fans can’t see much difference between Ronaldo and the rest like Messi but I find it really appalling when football journalists, ex-players can’t see the differences. They should know the game better but they don’t seem to look any further than the stats.

    • January 16, 2015

      What is terrible is the view point of most journalists, barring a few who have given valid reasons for why they think CR7 had a better year and that is understandable. But most journalists, they just write like band wagoners. It is atrocious. And there are people who say Balon dOr should be voted only by journalists. It would be absolutely a shambles then. Having seen the kind of PR which have helped CR7 in the last two voting periods, he and other players with similar PR systems will have a field day in influencing the votes.
      And Messi seems to have the worst PR team of all players – its funny but understandable as his agent is his father, and for CR7 its Mendes.

    • Davour
      January 16, 2015

      As I wrote in a comment on a previous post: the media need a story – the rise of CR is one. Even when Messi was considered the greatest, his stats was all most people went on about. That’s why I referred to the gala as a glorified Golden Boot-event…

      Note also how CR’s and Messi’s relation seems to have warmed. Might it be because Messi can handle losing the prize, while CR cannot – when rewarded, it’s easier to be a nice guy…

    • January 16, 2015

      I think CR is now being groomed carefully in attending such gala’s. From saying things like I am the first second and third best to saying things very carefully in the last one, it is evident.(still that ‘sound’ came out is baffling). I feel sorry for CR, as he decided not to attend the gala (twice,right?) when he was sure he wont win it. Compared to that, there is some truth inside when Messi says he dont care for individual awards. He was all smiles in the last two galas.
      Interesting that Neur managed to avoid contact with CR after the price announcement!

    • Jim
      January 16, 2015

      I prefer Stoichkov’s assessment.

      Messi is quite rightly compared to Pele and Maradona. Ronaldo is only ever compared to Messi.

      Does it for me…

    • Jim
      January 16, 2015

      Different story once Modric comes back. They are missing him big style.

  21. Tata2
    January 16, 2015

    Like I said, Modric and Sergio Ramos have been Madrid’s difference makers not Ronaldo. That’s why he was so ineffective in the absence of one of them (Modric). Messi has evolved into the one player that does his own thing irrespective of who is in midfield and sometimes even in attack. Gone are the ‘he is good because of Iniesta and Xavi’ narrative days. He only needs to get the ball and he does his thing and on form he’s really unstoppable. He’s genius. People misunderstand the whole idea of being a complete footballer in my own opinion, Messi is a complete footballer in every sense of it. He could be a number 10, a false 9, a CF, a RW and even a CM if he wants to(there was a game pep played a 4-3-3 with Mess I in midfield) and maybe a LB cos he can defend if he wants to (barring the soft pk he conceded). Using both feet well and been good with the head isn’t a true definition of a complete footballer. Our very own Adriano and Pedro then David Villa and Fernando Torres are good with either foot and in the case of the later two their heads too

  22. January 16, 2015

    The player who seems to be the ‘closest’ to Messi is Halilovic. Hope we treat and bring him up well.

  23. Jim
    January 16, 2015

    At last. One of the B side gets the picture.

    From Barcastuff: Sergi Roberto: “We knew we had to take our chance, especially those who’re getting less game time. That’s why we played with such intensity”

    Is it just me or has his performance improved last two outings? Mind you, I’m getting soft. I thought Montoya also played well. Hell, I was even impressed by Gumbau and had never seen him before. He’s big !

  24. Tata2
    January 16, 2015

    Now, when we meet atletico again, is LE going to use the same approach or he will just surprise us and Simeone again? Really looking forward to that game. Its amazing to see how EE struggled against a bus, I mean why don’t other teams follow atletico’s lead against EE? EE would work the ball to the wings and before you say jack they have hoofed a cross in which was almost always cleared

    • January 16, 2015

      Mind you they scored from two headers, so their approach worked. The problem was the two ridiculous goals they gave up.

  25. Tata2
    January 16, 2015

    Kind’a Hoof and Hope tactic. Lol!

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