Twisting in the wind, aka “Love, respect and legends”

rsoalves

When a player outlives his usefulness, it’s brutal. And nasty. An exceptionally useful part of a championship team is not any longer and a club has to manage what to do.

And that’s just the club. Supporters also come in to add many additional layers of nasty to the aging process.

There are three kinds of old players:

— Legends, of whom supporters deny any frailty. A 5-minute run of good play against an easy opponent brings the “See? Told you he still has it.”
— Undesirables, who nobody really wanted anyhow so there’s just an odd sort of indifference about that player’s continued presence.
— Damn Shames, players who should be legends but aren’t, and are treated shabbily by club and supporters.

Xavi is an example of a Legend, while Thierry Henry was the most recent example of an Undesirable. Unfortunately, Dani Alves is a Damn Shame.

At present, Alves is dangling in the wind. Barça apparently don’t want him, even though Enrique is on the record as saying he would like to keep him another year. Rumors fly about hither and yon about potential destinations, and many culers bemoan the fact that he’s still with the club even though he is still playing RB better than any other choices available. Every error is a capital crime, every good play a “Hmph! It’s about time!” moment. Jibes about crosses abound and too damned many culers can’t wait for the day that Alves leaves the club, so that someone “better” can take his slot..

For me, Dani Alves is a legend. This status isn’t because he came up through La Masia, or scored eleventy bajillion goals. He’s a legend because he has been an integral part of an excellent football club for an inordinately long time, and gives his absolute best each and every time that he pulls on the shirt. When a player does the best that he can, a coach doesn’t have the right … can’t, really … ask for anything more. “Best” in 2015 might not be the same as the “best” of 2008, but it is what it is.

Dani Alves deserves better than what he’s getting, from club and supporters. Seydou Keita was allowed to leave on a free so that he could have his pick of destinations. That was a lovely gesture that showed how much respect Guardiola had for the player. Meanwhile, rumors about Alves abound, gossip that forced him to take to Instagram to deny. And the rumors are present in part because as far as anyone knows, Barça has done nothing. And that sucks. Don’t leave him hanging. Not cool.

It’s business. Sure it is. But even in business there should be some humanity for a player who has done nothing except play the best that he could, match in and match out, rarely injured or even seemingly tired. Dani Alves, just running from endline to endline. He isn’t the best Dani Alves. But for a time, a LONG time he was, though underappreciated by too many culers, the best right back in the world. He was so good that he was overlooked almost because of that absurd quality. He made it look so effortless and simple, patrolling that side with a ease and grace that made him indispensable to Messi, Busquets AND Puyol.

He became trendy when he began to decline, like that performer whose absolute best work is in the past winning a major award. He became an automatic starter for the Selecao, a long-overdue honor that had as much to do with the quality of and comfort with Maicon as anything else. Detractors focused on his crosses, bits of ambition which even at their best were never paragons of accurate effectiveness. So what. A favorite Alves moment – the match escapes me – was when a loose ball was banged toward the sideline. Most players would have let it go out for the throw. Alves ran it down, turned and started a play that resulted in a goal. Effort. Always effort.

If someone wants to point out that a player isn’t what he once was, cool. But if that player has done what legends do for their teams, respect is still due. Xavi isn’t what he once was, but if the heavens don’t part and angels sing every time you type his name, there is something wrong with your worldview. Iniesta is no longer Ghostface Killah, but he’s still Andres MFing Iniesta. The game and time don’t care, but teams and the people who love them should.

Players sacrifice for the team. We begrudge them coach-approved trips to various places, vacations and the like but we forget how much they sacrifice. Yes, they are richly compensated for their efforts, but they sacrifice. When fathers are at family events, players are at training. Pregancies? They might be able to flit away by quick plane flight for the birth. It isn’t a normal life, and will never be for as long as they are doing what they do.

All that sacrifice, all that playing hurt, and limping around after matches, and recovering from injuries and dealing with stuff that, like Puyol, will affect the quality of the rest of a player’s life and at the end of it all is usually indifference and scorn. And that ain’t right.

“It’s ridiculous that the team still has to rely on Alves. Stupid board.” Okay. Find somebody, even now, who could be dropped in and be a big improvement over Alves. Danilo? Maybe. Eventually. Possibly. Lots of other names are out there, but there are none who do what Alves, when he was rockin’ it, did. So when it came time to think about players, and transfers, the first thing teams do is look at what they have from the context of can that person be improved upon, and how much of a row would it cause with supporters if that person was deemed “surplus to requirements.”

That’s the difficulty of having a collection of icons. For a period, FC Barcelona played the best football that anyone has ever seen. This wasn’t magic. It was hard work in the hands of an excellent coach and a top-quality group of players, every last one of whom would be considered the best or among the best at his position. As people sit, snuffle and deem this or that inadequate, hurl bricks at effigies of sporting directors past and present, the thing worth considering is, simply enough, who in the hell do you replace legends with?

Victor Valdes
Dani Alves
Gerard Pique
Carles Puyol
Eric Abidal
Xavi
Iniesta
Busquets
Eto’o
Henry
Messi

This game hangs onto old players like favored sweatshirts, except when that old player becomes somehow unfavored. Then he is deemed irredeemable, a mess who should have been gone eons ago so what the hell. But the rush to replace icons makes us forget just how brilliant the players whose heads on the block were. If you go down the above XI, is there a player of whom culers would NOT say, “There will never be another … “ Pique for now, but if he keeps on playing the way that he is these days, add him to the roster.

How easy is it to replace a player, and what is the price of an effort to do so? Name a right back that in the upcoming Classic you would be more comfortable with than Alves. Pique is excellent, but there is only one Puyol. The defense hasn’t been the same since Abidal took ill and then left. Xaviniesta isn’t any longer, Henry and Eto’o are long gone. Valdes blew his knee out, left on a free. There will be a time, very soon, when the only players left from the Treble side will be Messi, Busquets and Pique. And that will be weird, but it will also be what happens in the game.

The fate of Alves is unknown, but it should have been decided by now. There shouldn’t be stories about “The club will consider his future soon.” For me, that just isn’t how you treat a legend.

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Written by:

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.

48 Comments

  1. Inamess
    March 12, 2015

    A great piece that raises some important points for consideration.

    1) Is Alves a Club Legend? Yes, he was an integral player on the team from 2008-13 and excelled during that time. I don’t think many Barca fans would deny this.

    2) What is Alves’ situation at Barca now? A difficult one. Alves would not have been on the team this year had PSG agreed to trade Marquinhos or had the team bought Cuadrado. He also would not be sought next year had the team bought a better prospect than Douglas. As it is, ALves and the club are in a difficult situation in that the team may still need his services but the player is in decline, would demand a huge salary, and can not be replaced for next year because of the transfer ban.

    3) Does the team “owe” Alves better treatment? Absolutely not. ALves is free to sign with any team he wants and can demand a good salary because he can leave on a free. If the club were to keep him, it would probably have to give him a three year contract and a paycheck larger than he would get elsewhere. Unlike the situation with Lampard at Chelsea or Gerrard at Liverpool, Barca is still interested in Alves but probably does not want to meet his demands in terms of the length and salary of the contract and thus we are in the situation we are in. Contract negotiations are business transactions and have their own dynamics. Fans simply do not know what goes on behind the scenes.

    4) Did the club do Keita and Villa a favor by letting them leave for free or for cheap? Not as far as I know. Keita left the club for a big paycheck based on his playing time not meeting his contract. Villa was sold to Atleti because probably because he didn’t want to go play in England and no one was offering big money for him because his fitness was suspect.

    5) Is there a player that the club “mistreated”? Depends on your perspective. Most Barcelona players are multimillionaires and their contractual situations should not deserve our pity. If we like a player and want to see him stay with the club then we might fault the club for making a mistake or exercising poor judgment. The relevant cases here for me are Eto’o and Abidal. In Dani’s case, if I am to be honest, I don’t really have a preference whether he is on the team next year or not.

    • ooga aga
      March 12, 2015

      I think you are missing a big part of what Kxevin has to say. When a player like Alves, who has sacrificed and been a huge — i would even say essential — part of Barca’s golden era (it all began with his arrival….which coincided with Pep’s), you dont just let him wonder what his situation is next year. Out of respect and thanks, you let him know exactly what to expect, and you take care of it well ahead of time, rather than let him play, sacrifice, game in and game out, (for this season, and last), wondering whether he is really wanted. Thats what the club is doing. The poor guy has no idea. If he isnt wanted, just tell him! If he is, give him a contract!

      For all that we talk about ‘mes que un club’, i think fair treatment of such players should be part of the ethos. Treat others like you would like to be treated. Done.

    • IamXavi6
      March 12, 2015

      Sacrificed? what has he sacrificed? his fortnightly wage more than people earn in a year…yeah, Dani has sacrificed plenty…. cmon man, don’t use such a dramatic word to describe a sporting athlete.

    • Inamess
      March 12, 2015

      Don’t think I missed any specific point, just respectfully disagree. Athletes are not martyrs. Nor do I think that Dani is being disrespected, just engaged in hard-nosed contract negotiations like any other multimillionaire professional athlete. If you want to give Alves the huge contract he demands because he is “a legend”, deserves charity, or it is consistent with the Golden Rule and we are “more than a club” then you are entitled to your opinion.

      If you are like me, however, and aren’t privy to the details of the negotiations then a wait and see attitude might be more prudent. I would rather have Alves “earn” his a big contract against Man City and RM in the next few weeks and then have the club decide. His play this year has been too erratic to merit such a risk as yet.

  2. ciaran
    March 12, 2015

    To my mind Alves is undoubtedly a club legend but he has probably stuck around for too long. I used to love Alves, his energy, enthusiasm, ability and attitude but over the past two seasons everything except for his enthusiasm has declined including his attitude.
    Being seen partying, complaining about club decisions, and the comments being filtered through his agents to me show his deteriorated attitude and you can see clearly his loss of energy and ability
    The whole situation from both sides is ridiculous. I understand that it is a business from both sides but a little good faith from both parties wouldn’t go astray.

    I see no problem in a player leaving a club on a free transfer at the end of their contract but a club is seen as bad if they don’t offer a player a contract. I don’t understand it.

    To answer Kxevin though, there is no one around with the ability of 25 yr old Dani. He was unbeatable at his best. Currently the likes of Danilo is best placed to fill the gap but with the way Alba performs on the left we could do with someone somewhat more defensive.

  3. IamXavi6
    March 12, 2015

    You throw the term ‘legend’ around too easily I feel.

    I will say that Alves is a great servant to the club and a fine player over a long, long period for us.

    What I think the club needs to consider the most about Alves, is his sway with the playing squad and what harmony\friendships he brings to it. I feel he is still integral to the squad harmony and completeness. For that, he should be given another 2 years. However, in terms of football, he is well and truly not the Alves of yesteryear, sure.

  4. agar2515
    March 12, 2015

    1) ” Legend” is a different term to everyone. Is Dani up there Kubala, Cruyff, Xavi, Leo, Puyol, Pep et al? I would say he isn’t , but I can totally see how one could see him as being ” legendary” for us. It’s all in the distinction one chooses to make.
    2) Dani wants a new contract? Let him EARN it.
    3) We made this bed with waiting for so long to look for a successor, and now we are desperate and might have to give top $ to a player on a decline because our other options are worse.
    Douglas? Joke. Montoya? Still No one knows what his celling is, but he hasn’t broken through under how many coaches already?
    My big question is why isn’t Bartra tried out at RB? He impresses every time he is on the pitch…

  5. ooga aga
    March 12, 2015

    all im saying is, let the dude KNOW what is going on! everything he has said is …. “i havent heard anything from the club, one way or another”. i just dont think that is cool. if theres no way he can get a renewal, TELL HIM. i think the club should be proactive. Abidal was also kept in the dark, in doubt, too long…that wasnt right either. someone needs to man up and tell players what they dont wanna hear, if it comes down to that. or do we just say “f**k em, they dont deserve even that from us. despite what they gave to the club.”

    as far as the word “sacrifice,” and questioning the use of it…of course it is meant in a sporting context. i know these guys make a lot of money. i know.

  6. luisthebeast
    March 12, 2015

    This board made a lot of mistakes.But in this case,the treatment of players,we are in my opinion the Best in the world.In Barca B we have Juste and Campins.They had very long injuries but the club was in their side and they are here.We lost money from players like Henry,Villa,Marquez and others because we respected them and they left for free or for some money.No i believe there is no player the last years who had a bad treatment from the Club.Nobody.

  7. luisthebeast
    March 12, 2015

    Offtopic but i want to share something:I saw this comment somewhere in internet about madrid.s game against Shalke:I believe madrid did okay,the problem was mental because they believed that the tie was over.They are the favourites for el clasico….No it s not from a madrid fan.Its from a Barca fan….I dont want to know what this Barca fan would said if the game was Barca vs Shalke 3-4 and in the last minutes Ter Stegen had to make 2 saves against a bunch of kids..HELL!

  8. Inamess
    March 13, 2015

    This song is dedicated to a special person now coping with a great injustice.

    Two sides were playing beautiful football until an undeserved red card spoiled a wonderful match as one team had to resort to ultra-defensive tactics just to stay alive. In the end, the pressure was just too much for them to bear.

    After games like these there is really only one question to ask:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwHVPiLmZsY

  9. IR
    March 13, 2015

    Rakitic started twitter – @IvanRakiticFcb [Our future President Gerard Pique announce that in his twitter]

  10. March 13, 2015

    If Kxevin’s theory that the worse this board goes, the better the club plays is right, then it should be a really good weekend:

    Judge Ruz has confirmed that Rosell, Bartomeu and FC Barcelona will be tried for financial crimes.

  11. Rami
    March 13, 2015

    Alves is a legend!, Not any one can become the 2nd foreign player with the most appearances for barca, Not in the last 5 ,10, Or 30 years never mind you, But in the last 116 years of the club’s history.
    And in his 7 years with us, I’ve never seen him fall below the top 3 or 4 players with the most distance covered in a match, In almost every game he played in.

    So there you go, That’s longevity, Dedication and effort all present, What other ‘legend criteria’ he missed….Trophies?, Straight out i can say that it’s unfair to include trophies, Because it’s comes from a collective effort, And one player shouldn’t hold responsibility for them, But if you want to get nit picky, That fine with me…

    “The foreign player with the most trophies in FCB history after messi”

    Done!

    Now that we got this out of the way, Cause i can’t believe there is an actual discussion about this.
    Yes, The way the club has been handling his renewal, Is nothing of appealing, Shady, And plain wrong, For some one with the history he has with us.
    Let me summarize, The club attitude this season:

    “We don’t really want you, In fact we can’t wait to get rid of you, But at the same time we can’t get a replacement for you, So wait for us to get a pre-deal with some one, And then your free to **ck off, If we failed in our search, Then we’ll renew for you for a season or two, And then you can **ck off”

    What pisses me off the most, Is the humongous contrast in the treatment between him and xavi.
    If my memory serves me correct, When xavi was deciding weather to stay or sign with another club before the start of this season, The club had no intention of terminating his contract if he decided to leave, That means he would’ve received a full pay-check for the next TWO years in his contract even if he never played a single minute for us (It was either barto or zubi that said that, I can’t remember), Not only that, But the club wasn’t even willing to demand a transfer fee for him.

    So you see, It’s not that the board is just generally bad in the handling of such issues, They’re selectively bad, And it’s disgusting.

    • BarcaSon
      March 13, 2015

      Well! That will be disgrace to Alves then.

  12. BarcaSon
    March 13, 2015

    A bit OT but pardon me I’m just curious.
    Have you ever withness LE hugging our player/s at any point of time?
    I don’t remember atleast once even though I’ve watched all matches this season.

    • ooga aga
      March 13, 2015

      i made a post a few threads ago, sort of related to this. i have noticed the same thing. though, i dont think a coach needs to be “close” to his players to be a good coach. for me it is a desirable but not necessary quality.

    • ooga aga
      March 13, 2015

      there was an interview earlier this week with one of Eibar’s players, Saul Berjon, who played for Barca B under Luis Enrique. He went out of his way to say that LE was the best coach he had ever had, and was great, among other things, “en el trato personal.” No reason he needed to say that especially because he is no longer a Barca player. It’s really hard to know what goes on…

  13. Davour
    March 13, 2015

    Dani is certainly a club legend, as far as modern football goes. Not one of the great ones, but one worthy of competing for the spot as the greatest RD the team has seen. But on the topic of legends, I just saw some statistics regarding team hat-tricks during a season. Most seasons it’s shared between a few players, except for the record season, 2011/12, when Messi alone has 10 under his belt… Combined with the football records before and after Messi, it prompts me to think of a famous quote by JFK, i reference the White house hosting a dinner of Nobel prize winners: “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House – with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone”…

  14. Jim
    March 13, 2015

    I’m not a great fan of throwing the word “legend” about. There isn’t really a level higher than that in club football so it depends if you see him in that way. I would, however, say he was/ is a member of a legendary team in the sense that the Barca of the last five years or do will be talked about forever. I’m not sure it’s valid to focus on his crossing as a deteriorating feature of his play. To my mind his crossing was always bad as he just doesn’t seem to have the technique required. However, you’d have to say in the same breath that you’ll never find a better combination in his prime than he and Messi and there’s no denying he patrolled that side of the field well.

    Imo, he could still do a job for the next year or so for us in a slightly more defensive role as I’ve never been a fan of both FBs bombing forward at the same time. Again, ‘though, if he’s looking for a three year contract I’d have to decline.

    However, that is probably also to miss Kxevin’s point. Whether legend or not Alves deserves to know by now whether or not a new contract will be offered. I’m kinda feeling I must have missed bits of this story, ‘though. Last thing I remember is Alves saying this would be his last year in blaugrana. Was that correct ? If so, no need for a new offer.

    I see no problem in treating Alves and Xavi differently. Alves gave us six good years, being the world’s most expensive defender when he signed a lucrative contract with a team on the brink of great things and I hold him in very high regard. However, that isn’t in any way the same as joining the club at the age of eleven, giving us 24 years of unbroken service without being tempted away for megabucks and being the lynchpin of the most successful Barca in history. As with Puyol, Iniesta and Messi when the time comes, that kind of loyalty should be rewarded.

    Barcason’s point about LE is a fair one. Some sign of affection for his players isn’t a sign of weakness and Id like to see it occasionally. There still seems to be a coldness there although he is more animated now which is good to see. Hunter’s comments on Xavi being the one who banged heads together, if true, would seem to indicate an uneasy calm which hopefully will in time turn into a better relationship with the squad, assuming that the incoming President doesn’t just bring in his own man.

    • Rami
      March 13, 2015

      Joining la masia is close to a privilege, Something that can happen to relatively few, And almost lucky ones, And this specially applies to foreign players, Catalan players have the highest chance out of all nationalities to join la masia, And it’s not a coincidence.

      Keeping the above in mind, Not being a part of la masia can’t be hold against some one, It’s be blatantly unfair, Yes i feel proud to see someone from the first team that came from our youth ranks, But i’ve never seen it as a reason to treat a fellow player differently than him if he gave the same dedication and effort in training and the pitch as the la masia one, Busquets and mascherano are a good example of this, At least for me

      To add to all of that, The part about not being tempted away, Might hold more water if we were a ‘humble’ club financially speaking, But this is barca, It’s one of the top 3 football enterprises in Europe, And has been for a very long time now, A player doesn’t have many ‘higher’ places to go to after joining barca, And we’re notoriously know for having one of the highest average salaries in the last decade or more (THE no.1 highest between 2009 and 2015), Only few have the power to hold on to it’s players like we do, Xavi and iniesta always had a higher salary than alves, They don’t play for us for free.

    • mazimi
      March 13, 2015

      (Replying to your last message)

      I am not surprised by the reaction of these fans. Remember, three months ago they were trying to sell Lionel Messi. Lionel F**king Messi, who is our top scorer of all time and undoubtedly the greatest player to have every played for this club in it’s history, because he was having a couple of off months, and by “off” I mean he was “only” scoring/assisting more than a goal/game.

      Now Alves, who for me was an integral part of our most successful period, is leaving/forced out by the club. He hasn’t been “the” Alves from 2009-2011 or before when he was playing for Seville. So of course people are happy and they can’t wait to get rid of him… he did sacrifice for us? so what, he was getting paid for it and it’s business.

      The problem I see is the double standard. When Thiago leaves, it’s like “he is not loyal for the club who raised him…” it’s all about emotions and sentiments, and here, we are all happy to see the back of Alves because it’s all business.

    • BarcaSon
      March 13, 2015

      Agree with all your points. And here’s few more.
      Okay Alves is undoubtedly one of the best at his position few years ago. Agreed. So do Iniesta, Puyol, Xavi, Busquets, Piqué and some might admit Valdes too.

      For me, Alves was lucky to join us in our glorious era, no doubt about his quality, and till today I like him and backed him. But what if he continue playing for his old club Sevilla? Will he be considered as great as he was/is today?

      There are some players whom you can consider as legend irrespective of which club they played.

      Anyway my point is…. Alves turns out to be a legend playing at barca, which he might not by playing other club. Still i give respect to the guy who have given us so much. Wish we could get a new version of his quality though.

    • ciaran
      March 13, 2015

      9m a year over three years would cost us around 50m or so with taxes, that’s a lot of money for a good but no longer great right back.
      I can’t see it as worth while. Putting 25m into a transfer of the next best available player with room for improvement surely has to be right path.

    • BarcaSon
      March 13, 2015

      I’ve been trying to figure out who would be the best choice rb that we need. Its really not easy to find a good choice. Few plagers I would like to have, were mostly in their 30’s and some players that we were rumoured to, I don’t really have enough idea to give the conclusion. I believe that the board have the same problem as mine.

    • ciaran
      March 13, 2015

      We can look high up and low down and we won’t find the next Dani Alves. Come to think of it, the closest thing to a young Dani Alves is a certain Jordi Alba and we have already got him.
      There’s a couple of things to consider for me; defensive abilities, attacking opportunities, skills, availability.
      Danilo is a decent defender, physically strong with tons of energy and is very good in possession too. He will be expensive and is more likely to be sold this summer than next.
      Zabaleta would be an amazing signing due to his defensive abilities and strength but he isn’t going anywhere.

      If you look around the big clubs, how many of their right backs would you really want?
      Juanfran, Carvajal, Ivanovic, Debuchy, Caceres, Rafinha, Piszczek, van der Wiel?

    • BarcaSon
      March 13, 2015

      Ivanovic is always my first choice. But we are not getting him at any cost and age also matters. Debuchy might be the easiest one if we offer big.

      I believe there might be a hidden talent in rb position if we carefully scout some bottom table club in other league.

    • BarcaSon
      March 13, 2015

      Instead of going for ready made developed/discovered player..

      Oh hell! This comes to my mind. We have Douglas who is just the one I describe.
      I still believe he can offer us what Alves did given time and trust.

    • March 14, 2015

      That’s 9m gross income, with current tax incomes in France it is just about 4.5 million Euro per year.

      If I’m not mistaken, this is how much he gets right now in Barcelona, but again, he would be getting a signing bonus as a free agent as well.

      At the same time, Alves came out with two MARCA front pages, from his time at Sevilla, one confirming his transfer to Chelsea, the other certifying his signing for Milan(I think it was Milan).

      Anyway, he isn’t the Alves of old. He doesn’t need to be. I like his more conservative darts forward. That allows him to conserve his strength, and also lets Rakitic to get on with his game, instead of guarding the space left by Alves.

  15. March 14, 2015

    Like Rami said, we are too bad with some of our best players. Alves still could be playing for us at least for a season, I believe.

    the right back of Wolfsburg in their Inter match looked for me a kind of excellent player. He was always there in the final third..

    • BarcaSon
      March 14, 2015

      Who is the guy? What make u think so? I don’t follow much german and italian league. Lately, good rb player become interesting subject for me. According to our needs.

    • Jim
      March 14, 2015

      I’d be okay with that but last I heard he was looking for a two or three yr. contract.

      Interesting to see what the team is today. Hoping for Bartra at RB but expecting Montoya. Also, are we really expecting Messi to perform at top level three times in seven days ?

  16. BarcaSon
    March 14, 2015

    Hello friends, as classico is approaching, I’m suppose to write an article about the classico for my local newspaper, each and every details and I need a favour.

    Can anyone point me out ( or give me a link) where I can get the details about Gamper’s story and his cause of death due to rivary?

    Thanks in advance.

    • March 16, 2015

      You just need to find the book of Sid – Fear and Loathing in La liga.

      If you are writing for any Indian news paper, please bring out the bloody attitude of Star Sports towards La liga. As of now, it looks like they are not even showing it live in any of their SD channels, only in one HD channel.

  17. Ryan
    March 14, 2015

    Eibar vs FC Barcelona
    [LINE-UP | ALINEACIONS | ALINEACIONES]
    13. Bravo
    2. Montoya
    3. Piqué
    4. Rakitic
    9. Suárez
    10. Messi
    11. Neymar
    12. Rafinha
    15. Bartra
    20. S.Roberto
    21. Adriano
    Substitutes / Suplents / Suplentes:
    Ter Stegen, Xavi, Pedro, Iniesta, Mascherano, Douglas, Mathieu

    Whoa, we’re playing a Rakitic-Rafinha-Roberto midfield! Granted, it’s against lowly Eibar, but they’ve put some resistance against other teams at home.

    • georgjorge
      March 14, 2015

      Seems like the perfect midfield for those who wanted Xavi + Iniesta + Mascherano to be sold ;). I don’t understand why not even one of them is on the pitch from the beginning (while none of our star forwards gets any rest), but maybe I’ll be surprised in a positive way.

  18. Jim
    March 14, 2015

    Could go either way but we’re sure not playing through the middle. Only positive I can pull from this at the moment is that it might mean Xavi/ Iniesta against City. Inexplicable why one of the front three isn’t on the bench.

    Still, no time for bleating. Let’s go for it early and then maybe Messi can get 20 rest at the end.

    • Jim
      March 14, 2015

      Just started on Sky but they don’t seem interested in playing their way out. Hoofing it up the park won’t help them. (Famous last words I suppose) …

    • barca96
      March 14, 2015

      Definitely looks like it’s going to be Xaviniesta once the line up was announced.

  19. barca96
    March 14, 2015

    Ok. Job done. Take Messi and Suarez out asap.

    • Jim
      March 14, 2015

      Wet pitch, always chance of injuries. Coming up to 60th minute. Now’ the time if he’s going to do it.

    • Jim
      March 14, 2015

      Xavi on. Not sure what the point of that is unless it’s to prepare for taking Messi off in the next ten.

    • barca96
      March 14, 2015

      Really disappointed with the subs so far. Neymar is fresh from the suspension and he really needs a goal yet he is the one going off when Messi and Suarez are the ones who badly needs a rest especially with 2 biggest matches coming up in 3 days span.

  20. Jim
    March 14, 2015

    I’m starting to get more worried about Pique getting an injury but I’m not quite sure we can afford to take him off.

    • barca96
      March 14, 2015

      I felt the same way. He’s going hard in every match. I’m really worried about him. He is our rock at the back. He is vital at the back. I wish he would be rested at some point along with Messi and Suarez after el Clasico.

  21. georgjorge
    March 14, 2015

    Very experienced game from Barca against an inferior opponent especially in the second half – played in second gear for good parts of the game, rested some key players, and still won by two goals. And Bartra continues to impress me with his one-on-one-skills and his calmness.

    I think the substitutions were pretty ok IF you assume that Messi can rest on the pitch just as well as off the pitch. Neymar is always prone to getting fouled (which can be tough on this surface) and Xavi for Rakitic just shut them out of the game.

    Onto City!

  22. ooga aga
    March 14, 2015

    Man City put out a full strength side today, except maybe for Nasri, who is on the bench. They are down 1-0 to mighty Burnley in the 75th minute.

    Meanwhile, we fully rested 5 *potential* starters — alba, alves, masch, mathieu, iniesta. rakitic and neymar didnt play the full 90.

    looks good to me.

    Lets hope Levante makes things difficult for Real Mandril tomorrow.

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