Resolving Thiago, aka “It’s just business”

Thiago Alcantara.

As the midfielder strolls onto the Camp Nou pitch next week clad in a Bayern Munich shirt, it’s safe to say that the culer world will erupt. Should the player do anything decisive, the rumbles will rupture social media and the space-time continuum. The mind strains to think of a more polarizing transfer than this one, for so many reasons. And it will probably be forever thus, for no rational reason.

When people draw sides in the Thiago matter, it’s pretty much “Traitor! You took advantage of the club!” or “That stupid board screwed up and sold a gem for a pittance.” Neither is entirely accurate even as both are true. The player did take advantage of a situation that he engineered, and the club did screw up, and sell him for below market value. But it isn’t that simple.

At my day job we, like every other company in the market, have a difficult time retaining talented young employees. If anyone reading this is talented and young, you probably know exactly what’s going on. Offers. More offers. It isn’t that the gifted young’uns aren’t being treated and paid well, but rather that they are in extremely high demand. If you are young and talented, companies will make promises and throw gobs of money at you. And they should, just as you should weigh those offers in the context of your future and your ambition. Duh.

Is it logical to be any more or less bothered by a young writer leaving than Thiago? Sport breeds passion, and passion ain’t always calm and rational. Throw in a board that nobody likes, a president nobody likes, a season that nobody liked and it’s pretty easy for taint to spread. Thiago left for a better job. That is his right and frankly, obligation.

He isn’t a traitor, nor a mercenary. He is just a worker who wants what is best for himself. In one situation he had a team with a midfield that was stuffed with icons in Busquets, Iniesta and Xavi. Fabregas was also there. There was board instability, an ill coach and a team that didn’t know which way from up, that might have even needed some rebuilding, which delays the trophy acquisition process for a hungry young player.

On the other side of the scales he had a beloved coach who had just taken over a juggernaut poised for world domination, a coach who said to him, “Come here and play for me.” A starting role and more money beckoned, as well. Certainty over uncertainty. What athlete in his right mind wouldn’t choose this?

“He doesn’t love the club” is nonsense. We see players and coaches leave a club and sit at a press conference, weeping like a baby with a full diaper. They love their club but they love themselves more, and need to make the decision that is best for No. 1. That isn’t avarice. That’s common sense.

On the other side of the ledger, all the talk about Thiago being upset over playing time, not starting more, being played less than Xavi, a player that people now throw themselves at the feet of, weeping, isn’t supported by logic, either. You don’t make life decisions in a fit of pique. Thiago isn’t that silly, nor are his advisers. He knew what his path to the XI was at Barça, and that surely factored into his decision.

And forget about the board choosing to sell him or forcing the sale, because those don’t stand up to the test of logic, either. “Hey, I got a GREAT idea! Let’s sell the brightest midfield talent to come out of La Masia since Iniesta to a major European rival, for a below-market price. Genius, right?” This has become part of the Legend of ZubiZa, as well as he and his team being stupid enough to negotiate a playing time clause for an irreplaceable gem. Would they have transferred Thiago had they had a choice? Of course not.

Some culers will say that Thiago negotiated a low buyout in exchange for other considerations, then took advantage of the club. That isn’t logical, either. Every negotiation is a risk. Does anyone think that, had the team played him enough to activate his higher buyout clause, there wouldn’t have been an unhappy player and Maxinho saying stuff to the press? Is the difference between 25 and 40m, for a club that churns a half-billion in revenue, worth dealing with for that? Xavi wasn’t going anywhere. Neither was Iniesta. Fabregas’ situation was still unknown, but Xavi and Iniesta STILL weren’t going anywhere, and Alexis Sanchez was also capering about in that worldview. It’s still a regular spot in the XI at a better team in Bayern vs sharing time. (Yes, those players are all different but in the same pot. Is it Total Football or not?)

The club wouldn’t have acceded to the contract stipulation had it not been fully aware of the possibility of losing the player to a buyout activation. If a club wants to make sure a player stays, a buyout clause is attached to him that removes doubt because a clause can always be negotiated down if necessary. It was a calculated risk that didn’t pay off for the club, as much from a P.R. sense as a market value one.

“Thiago was easily worth 50m.” No, he wasn’t. Not to Barça. It’s also worth asking whether Bayern would have paid 50m for him. No idea. Situations dictate a player’s price as much as the market does. How much would Thiago have gone for at auction? Considerably more than 25m, which doesn’t make that price a terrible one. Yes, board members saying that the transfer was good business rankles, but the challenge is always to step back from the passion, filter out the noise and ask questions.

One might be “What is love?” The follow-up would be whether players “love” teams in the same way in the here and now? Not likely. Not if he’s young and talented. It’s easy to love Almeria if you’re a journeyman. For a player like Thiago, there is too much money in the game. It was Alexis Sanchez’s dream to play for Barça, his promise to a dying relative. “Wait … how much?” There is a reason that all of the club legends, the one-team players are old dudes, and it isn’t just a chronological accident. Players such as Maldini, Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi are unique, and not only in playing ability.

They are tied to their club in a way that makes that relationship special. I can no more see Messi, with prime playing time left in his legs, wearing the shirt of another club than I could imagine Puyol doing so. Taking late-career paydays is a very different thing. Those players love the club, grew up in the club, owe what they are to the club. The young, modern player often has a different view of his talent and obligation to a club.

“I played for them, gave them my all, now it’s time to move on.” And that’s a fair decision.

Thiago did what he had to do for the sake of his own ambition and development. So did the club. 25m for a talented youth player isn’t horrible business. Zlatan Ibrahimovic for 24m, in installments is horrible business. The prices of other players in the market are often cited, but they have zero bearing on Thiago’s situation, because a buyout is what a buyout is. When the clause is activated, that is the number. Bayern paid it and Thiago left.

To be sure, there is a fiscal cost and a sporting cost. When Xavi leaves, who will inherit the mantle of the greatest midfielder to ever play the game? Will the club have to buy a player, and if so, will that player cost more than it would have cost to keep Thiago, who it must be said is immensely talented, but isn’t Xavi, who is a once in a lifetime player. Too many questions.

Still other questions. Would the presence of Thiago have hastened the departure of Xavi? Thiago was the future, Xavi is the present. How would that have gone over? No idea, but worth considering. Kick Xavi to the curb, or take a risk on Thiago? Yikes. And imagine the muttering and grumbling in some quarters had Thiago been sitting on our bench for a year, rehabbing from various injuries while making the money it would have taken to keep him. Imagine lots of things.

Logic dictates that situations develop as they will. The club got a good amount of money and cruises on. Thiago got a better job, and cruises on. All the rest strikes me as rhetoric by people with a point to prove in an inflamed situation, exacerbated by idiocy such as “Sergi Roberto is just as good.”

When a talented young writer leaves for a better job, journalists celebrate with drinks, say “Congratulations,” and move on. Because that is life. No real reason for football to not be as complete a part of life as any other employment situation.

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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.

80 Comments

  1. TheFullMontoya
    May 1, 2015

    Let’s accept that it’s all business. If that is true then the board proved to be a very incompetent CEO in this matter.

    Barcelona is one of the greatest brands in the world in its field. If you are one of the leading companies you need to maintain the best talent, the best employees, or you stop being a leading company. Simple. You offer them more money, or a promotion, or a company car, or whatever it takes.

    If you make your best effort to keep the employee and they still leave, ok. You did everything in your power to keep the employee and it was out of your hands.

    Did the board do ANYTHING to try to keep Thiago? Offer a better contract? No. Come out and assure him of how important he was to the future of the team? No.

    What did the board do? Well, when it came out that Thiago was unhappy they started attacking him in the press. That goes over well with players. They basically made it clear that he WASN’T valued through the press.

    Can’t blame Thiago for leaving, but you can say the Barcelona board handled the situation extremely poorly and because of that Barcelona lost it’s most promising young midfielder, a player who at the time was one of the top 5 midfielders in the world in his age group.

    This is poor business management. This is not the only example from this board. It has pervaded their tenure. They value Euro’s in the bank more than they value cultivating the best possible work force they could. This is a poor way to run a business.

    • Jim
      May 1, 2015

      That hardly flies in the face of the amount they spent on Neymar and Suarez does it ?

    • TheFullMontoya
      May 1, 2015

      You can’t deduce the nature of something by looking at a tiny portion of it. Take a look at the totality.

  2. georgjorge
    May 1, 2015

    A good overview of both sides of the issue, many thanks.

    I don’t agree with your last paragraph however, and that’s where constructivism comes in. Life isn’t all business and fleeting jobs, just as it isn’t all lifelong commitment and loyalty. It’s whatever the people living it make of it. If commitment and loyalty is expected from players, it will be coming more often than not. If it all is seen as just a giant business, it won’t. That’s the tricky part about discussing it – it’s not just about how a situation IS but in discussing it also shapes future situations.

    Hmm, shouldn’t I be working on my thesis instead?

  3. May 1, 2015

    Kxevin,

    we are mostly grown people, many of us heterosexual men, who define happiness by watching young millionaires with model bodies run in underwear and kick a ball on a manicured lawn.

    My question for you is,

    How Dare You use logic to convince us?! Have you no sense of decency, sir? I am shocked, shocked I tell you, to find logic used in this place and even more so for such nefarious purposes. Logic is for happy times, when the team has won and fans are happy and sated with celebration and victory, when trophies aren’t at stake, when sanity isn’t at stake. That would be a time to use logic and have us swallow the medicine with a handful of chocolate cake, not now!

    High treason isn’t the charge of which Thiago is accused. Nay, he is accused and found guilty of a much horrible crime, desertion and to the hated enemy, collaboration with the enemy. conspiracy to commit treason and coup d’etat.

    Now that I’m almost out of cliches, I’d love to see Messi hug him and tell him “You broke my heart. You broke my heart!” and then nutmeg him.

    😀

  4. 42
    May 1, 2015

    I think most culers are not mad about how much Thiago was sold, but rather the fact that Thiago was sold.

    Yes, I agree that young players have to consider the best things for themselves, and it’s perfectly normal that Thiago would want to leave when he had to spend the majority of time on the bench and watch Xavi and Fabregas start ahead of him. I don’t know why the board did not want to give him more playing time to activate the higher buying clause; they probably thought it’s ok for Thiago to leave, and a lower buyout price would make him easier to sell and grant the player more benefit out of the deal (more/better clubs interested; higher salary, etc). This whole thing just shows how shortsighted our board is; they probably didn’t anticipate that Cesc wouldn’t work out at Barca and would leave soon, nor that two years later, Xavi, 35, wouldn’t have the physicality to sustain the intensity of a whole match, and suddenly Barca is lacking in midfield players. However, although this seems really obvious today, it’s still hard to predict the future back then. If Cesc was playing perfectly and bossing our midfield today, people would’ve complained so much about the lost Thiago.

    I don’t love nor hate Thiago. He became irrelevant to me the moment he left Barca. To me, if a player is playing at Barca but his heart is somewhere else, then it’s better that he left. All the players in the Barca squad today, you can truly see that they love Barca and would put the team in front of any personal interest. Players like Xavi, Iniesta and Messi are extremely selfless and humble and set out great example in the team, and newcomers such as Suarez, Bravo, Rakitic etc are the same way. This has always been the La Masia way, and if Thiago is not like that, I don’t mind him leaving Barca. He wants to pursue what’s best for his interest, hey that’s completely fine with me, I’d say the loss is on him, to not be able to be a part of this amazing Barca team that’s on its way to create history. All he needed was a little bit of patience.

    • dl
      May 1, 2015

      Well-balanced post, Kxevin.
      42, though, I’m not sure I agree with “All the players in the Barca squad today, you can truly see that they love Barca and would put the team in front of any personal interest.” That would be true if the world is now a different place and finally the current barca squad is unsullied by personal interest. But isn’t Xavi leaving next year for a big paycheck? Didn’t Dani just go to the wire with his contract negotiations? Didn’t Messi in a presser a few short months ago admit to something like ‘well, in soccer things change and you never know…’? People are people, and usually we try to be good and pure etc., and sometimes (sometimes) it seems to work out.

    • 42
      May 1, 2015

      Xavi leaving next year for a big paycheck is still a rumor, he has confirmed nothing about his departure, and we’re still just guessing about the “big paycheck” part as his intention of leaving. Dani might want some more money for the last few years in his competitive years, but I heard he is going to accept the 1+1+1 contract and stay, which is a big sacrifice for him. The Messi situation was complicated at that time, but I believe he never seriously considered leaving back then and was only using that to pressure the board. Thiago, however, did actually leave Barca, so I guess that’s why I treated him differently, but you do have a point. Maybe I was too harsh on him.

    • Jim
      May 1, 2015

      After twenty four years at the club maybe he’s entitled to one final pay check. He could have left for more at any point in the last ten years for more money, he could have left last summer but put it off. He’s now only coming off the bench in big matches despite being as Kxevin says possibly the best midfielder the world has seen. As Barto rightly says he has earned the right to make his own decision.

  5. luisthebeast
    May 1, 2015

    Sometimes and i hate it so much when i do that,i envy madrid fans.They never cry for some coach or player who left the club and they always look to the future.Pep left us in 2012,Thiago in 2013 and we have 2015 and the fans keep talking about them.But maybe we like to not enjoy what we have and look for utopia.

  6. simple_barcafan
    May 1, 2015

    When a player plays for big clubs like Barca, Bayern, Madr*d, Man U, it is FAR more easier to stay there for the rest of their playing career than say teams at the bottom half of the league tables. At the big clubs, players get big pay checks, huge exposure, excellent facilities, play with the best players, so on and so forth. Who wouldn’t want to stay there till they retire?

    On the other hand if you love a club say Cordoba and play there, will you want to play there for the rest of your football career? Will you stay there even if they get relegated? If you retire there will you remembered as a ordinary player who didn’t have the ambition or the skill to play for a big club OR will people all around the world (That is for some magical reason they know the one-club-Cordoba player) praise you for being a one club man? The names mentioned as club legends are all from big clubs (Puyol, Xavi, Maldini, Scholes, Raul). How many of us know of club legends from say, Eibar?

  7. Inamess
    May 1, 2015

    Don’t disagree with most of the points made. However, we are Barca fans, not CEO’s dealing with the realities of the competitive marketplace. Fans get to decide in what esteem they hold their players, former players, and those who go on to play for a different clubs.

    Football fandom is one of the last vestiges where a tribal mentality is honored and demonization of an opponent is still acceptable. Players and agents and clubs may have to play by the rules of the marketplace but fans don’t. Fans make their own rules and whether they conform to the dictates marketplace realities or a professional athelete’s best interests is not really relevant. At Espanyol Iniesta is cheered when he comes off and then Xavi is soundly booed with equal passion. The logic in those two gestures to me makes perfect sense and is even admirable. The fans are the essence of the club and must value the club’s honor and best interests even as sometimes others may not.

    So yes to me Thiago is just as much a traitor as Luis Figo. I would be delighted if he was soundly booed at the Camp Nou on Wednesday. It shows that this sport matters. This team and its fanbase matters, loyalty matters, and its not all about money, revenue, and the marketplace. If Thiago is looking for applause, adoration, and respect then let him seek it at his chosen club in Munich. He may end up having a great career there but I don’t see why we should root for him any more than we did Figo or a Madridista should root for Lucho’s success because he was once one of them.

    • georgjorge
      May 2, 2015

      I’m not really partaking in the tribal aspect of football fandom but I can definitely see where you’re coming from. Football reduced to just business would be a very different thing, and maybe not worth watching for most. As long as the tribalism doesn’t get out of hand (violence and 90 minutes of insults and slurs)…

  8. Lord Eddard Stark a.k.a. Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one!
    May 1, 2015

    .
    Who cares about Thiago when we already have the better Alcantara.
    I used to love TA’s play when he was in our colors. But as soon as he left, I couldn’t get myself to give a sh*t. Pep, on the other hand is another story.

    • barca96
      May 1, 2015

      We have the better brother? In what way is he better than Thiago?

    • May 2, 2015

      He’s here and is helping the team win, not trying to defeat it.

  9. Lord Eddard Stark a.k.a. Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one!
    May 1, 2015

    The real question is this.
    We have rafa. If we still had yaya, JDS, and purchased Kevin prince, and bayern had giovannni and kolo in addition to thiago and Jerome that they already have, would the battle of the brothers sub plot have overshadowed Pep and Barca facing their ex lovers?

  10. barca96
    May 1, 2015

    If the coaching staff played him more, gave him more confidence, I’m sure he would still be here. They constantly overlooked him and overplayed Xavi and Iniesta while Thiago could fill any of the 2 roles.

    If he was still here it’ll make us the only club that has 2 brothers in the same club. Oh I count Xavi and Iniesta as brother from another mother.

    • Inamess
      May 1, 2015

      As in most things about players and the club, most is speculation but at least here is my theory on a number of matters about TA:

      1)I think the most absurd theory that no one told Tito about the details of Thiago’s contract is probably true. Do not underestimate the power of incompetence in human affairs. Yes the team overplayed Xavi at the end to get to 100 points but if it is true that all Thaigo needed was a few more starts to fufill the 60% rule then I see why it wouldn’t have been done.

      2)Despite showing a lot of promise in previous seasons, I don’t think Thaigo could have demanded the attention he got from other clubs without his standout performance in the Euro under 21 that summer. Isco, Thaigo and Illara’s stock went through the roof as a result of that tournament as well as Motta was even looked at as a viable striker option for RM.

      3) Despite TA obvious talent it is still mostly potential. I am certainly
      3)

    • Inamess
      May 1, 2015

      *Morata
      sorry internet problems. Let me finish with some lingering questions that can only be answered in time:

      -How injury prone will Thiago be for the rest of his career?

      -Where will he or could he rank on one of these best 100 players in the world list in two years time?

      -Is there any other player in world football today who actual value is still so uncertain?

      -Where does Thiago go once Pep leaves Bayern?

    • May 2, 2015

      Hopefully I will have to write this for the last time.

      Thiago could have chosen NOT to activate his clause.
      Said clause consisted of “play at least 30 minutes in at least 60% of the games of Barcelona.”

      In reality Thiago played on average just over 30 minutes in 60% of the games that Barcelona played in that season. This despite him suffering a knee ligament injury (surprised?) that left him on the sidelines for two months and not ready for a start for almost three months. If Thiago wanted, he could’ve done what Tello did and Bartra did – they told their agents to NOT hear any offers.

      Anyway, the statement that he needed just a few more starts is completely false, incorrect and simply BS. Why? Because the clause stipulates, not minutes, but matches. The minutes are the condition that makes a game count towards the total number of games or not.

      In 2012/13 Barcelona played a total of 60 games. 60% of those are 36 games. 36 games in which Thiago Alcantara had to play at least 30 minutes in each.

      (All data taken from *squawka.com or *fcbarcelona.com)

      In La Liga he made 27 appearances, but only 16 of those count because in only 16 of those he played more than 30 minutes. With his injury and recovery he missed or didn’t play enough in eleven consecutive matches – in LA LIGA.

      In Copa del Rey he made seven appearances, but only 4 of them count. Thiago was injured for the first leg against Alaves and was on the bench against Real Madrid

      In Champions League Thiago played a total of two games, starting in the last, meaningless draw of the group stage, and then coming on for Iniesta in the 64th minute against Bayern at Camp Nou, with an aggregate result of 5-0.

      Count them. Twenty-one games that count for his clause. He needed fifteen more. That’s more than the Bundesliga games, in which he has played more than 30 minutes in his two Bayern seasons so far.

      Of course, nobody could’ve foreseen that Thiago would be injured and effectively missing for three months. In retrospect putting that clause seems like a dumb move. However, it seems like a dumb move only if the player is going to exploit the good will of the club. The new contract that he signed just before the start of the season gave him a much increased salary, which should’ve been a motivation for him to show his mettle. Instead, he was unable to fight for a spot even with “half-season” Fabregas in his missing second half of the season.

      In the end it’s a meritocracy. You play if you are better, because the opponent will not tell you “Oh, you signed a contract, yes, sure, this way to the goal.” The match clause is supposed to show your devotion and willingness to better yourself, not to give you a red carpet to the Starting XI.

      And in the end of the end, the clause of the contract can be activated only if the player allows it.

      So don’t come up with the nonsense that the board drove him out or the coach didn’t like him or the club didn’t appreciate him. Thiago chose to leave. HE chose to leave.

      To everybody who thinks Thiago’s departure is on the board, the coach or heck knows who or what, I have to say this:

      I would be grateful if you stop trying to blame your friends and family for your ex cheating on you and leaving you while you drunkenly try to call her at five in the morning to tell her that you still love her. She cheated. And left.

      Good Riddance.

      [Edited. You are perfectly able to make your points without repeated profanity – Lev]

    • May 2, 2015

      Inamess, sorry if it seems that post is directed at you. It isn’t, mostly it’s directed at the “Thiago apologists”.

    • Rami
      May 2, 2015

      Holy molly, Mother of posts!
      great research and effort, And quite informative, Thanks

    • georgjorge
      May 2, 2015

      Lots of interesting data. I disagree regarding your conclusion that in all of this, no-one besides Thiago himself is in any way responsible for him leaving (and I won’t even bother saying anything about that misguided analogy at the end).

      He would still be here had he been loyal to the club like Xavi is, maybe he also would still be here had Tito or others given him more encouragment and opportunity to play. The notion that every player exists in a social vacuum and everything comes down to his performance on the pitch and nothing else seems naive. Messi seemed almost ready to leave before Guardiola became his coach, was he simply not good enough at the time? In light of all this, I don’t know why you seem to be so sure how it all went about and who’s to blame.

  11. Dar_vincy
    May 2, 2015

    This was Thiago speaking sometime last year: “I am grateful to Barcelona, but I do not owe them anything
    anymore. I would have left
    Barcelona for any team, just so I would no longer be warming
    the bench.
    “It was my own decision to leave Barcelona. Nobody put a gun
    to my head and forced me to go. I didn’t get the feeling the
    club believed in me. That’s why I moved on. I left Barcelona
    because I wanted to be happy again and play football on a
    regular basis. I found exactly what I was looking for here at
    Bayern.”

    No doubt his statement reeks of hurt and bitterness.
    Reason why the board bears a large chunk of the blame, for me, is simply their inept approach in the treatment of players. That aspect of their management still leaves a lot to be desired. You can see the trend from Abidal’s exit to Fab’s to Alexis’s and now Alves. It’s not so much what they did that gripes me, but the how. I just hope they handle situations better in the future, if that’s even a possibility.

    Meanwhile, I thought our Sporting Directors are often tactful when handling transfer matters. Well, that doesn’t seem to apply to Ariedo Braida I surmise. Publicly expressing interest in Pogba doesn’t in anyway guarantee the player would pull a Fabregas by admitting how he’d been dreaming of playing for Barca in his previous life, yada yada, yada, thus actualizing a lower transfer fee.
    Besides, I haven’t viewed much of his games to accurately determine if he would add a creative spark to the limited supply we currently receive from our midfield. Really don’t know what he would bring to our squad. Maybe a culer who has sufficiently watched his games can enlighten me.

    • May 2, 2015

      Pogba

      Shooting – check
      Passing – check
      Dribbling – check
      Athleticism – check
      Height – check
      Defense – check
      Hunger to prove himself – check

      Unlike our blond Croatian who is decent at most of the above, Pogba excels in almost all of these categories and has no real weakness. Never mind the fact that he is young and he will improve. In my opinion, it is crazy how many people express their derision at this option. He’d be a perfect signing for any club and even more so for Barça.

    • luisthebeast
      May 2, 2015

      Levon i agree that Pogba is great but Rakitic is a part of team going for a treble.Decent?No for me.He was great all season.

    • May 2, 2015

      The team is doing great and Rakitic’s greatest attribute so far in making this work is his willingness to sacrifice, which is only logical when you compare his qualities to those of the players that surround him.

      The balance in a team is very hard to achieve and one can wonder wether (or how much) Pogba would upset that balance. However, looking at Rakitic it is hard to imagine him being the future of our midfield.

    • Dar_vincy
      May 2, 2015

      Thanks, Lev.

  12. TITO
    May 2, 2015

    To me at least, i dont really care about him or any other player who didnt left a mark in our club.
    Dont really understand why would we still bother with him. Its probably me, thats how i see things, im totally indiferent.
    It has absolutely nothing to do with the contract, the board, playing time, the coach etc. It was purely his and only his decision to leave.

  13. May 2, 2015

    Is Mathieu a loner in the team. Couple of times now in those travelling photographs, he is always in the corner with no smiles!!! I hope this wont be true.

  14. Valdemar II
    May 2, 2015

    Starting our best XI against a team in 20th place, with Bayern on Wednesday. Big mistake?

    • Rami
      May 2, 2015

      Two of their last 4 losses was by one goal margin, The other two losses were by only 2 goals margin, It tells you that they’re quite a stubborn team, Even though they are at the bottom.
      Why take the risk of underestimating such a match and paying the ultimate price when we’re so close to winning the league.

    • YaSd
      May 2, 2015

      These are professionals. They can play 2 games at full strength within 4 days, don’t worry about it.

  15. Rami
    May 2, 2015

    Thank god!, I started getting bad vibes from this match 30 minutes in.

    Rakitic redeemed himself with the goal, He was below average, Lost numerous balls.
    Fantastic ball from iniesta and an equally fantastic finish from suarez.

    Most of our misplaced passes came by trying to attack through the middle, And no wonder, It’s congested as hell, And many of our dangerous chances started from the wing, So we know what needs to happen in the 2nd half.

  16. barca96
    May 2, 2015

    Please rest Messi.

    • ooga aga
      May 2, 2015

      Better said: “Messi, please rest.”

    • ooga aga
      May 2, 2015

      messi’s 2nd, barca’s 6th, puts him ahead of CR7 in the pichichi…

    • Valdemar II
      May 2, 2015

      And he shows just how much he cares 😛

    • ooga aga
      May 2, 2015

      love it. neymar wins the penalty, messi tells him to take the PK. i reckon fans (like me) might care about the pichichi more than Messi.

  17. May 2, 2015

    Barcelona is playing with at least thirteen players every time it takes the pitch.

    What Luis Enrique, Juan Carlos Unzué(assistant coach, defensive coach and set piece creator), Roberto Moreno, Rafa Pol(fitness coach), Joaquin Valdes(Team psychologist), Jose Ramon de la Fuente(goalkeeper coach) have done with this team is nothing short of miraculous and giving both great benefits and advantages.

  18. georgjorge
    May 2, 2015

    I watched this match on and off between playing with my son. I think it’s safe to say that at the moment Lucho values a good winning rhythm and good atmosphere more than safeness from injuries and fatigue. I really, really hope that this turns out to be the right decision against Bayern next week.

    This was a really cruel match for Cordoba. At least against Getafe, most of the team stepped off the pedal for the second half, but they didn’t do so this time, and great defending is hard when you actually don’t really care if it’s 0-5 or 0-8.

    Great move from Messi to let Neymar take the penalty, as the latter seemed a bit frustrated with everyone but him scoring. Our team will definitely be in high spirits for the Bayern game, and if they don’t underestimate Bayern because of that it might be spectacular.

    The sad thing is…if the team continues this kind of play, I will soon not be enjoying it but expecting it from them.

  19. Tata2
    May 2, 2015

    Classic from Messi to allow Ney take the pk even as the pichichi was on the line. His show of maturity and selflessness really amazes me. We all know CR7 would never do that kind of thing, he doesn’t care, he just wanna win him some pichichi. Classic display all round and even though Rakitic maybe no Xavi or Iniesta, his finishing ability is almost equal their level if not more than. He scores spectacular goals that don’t match the way he plays. The fact that all our forwards are scoring is a really a confident booster and a headache for pep. you can’t keep all three of ’em quiet in the game. I only fear that our midfield may not be able to match theirs bit then it won’t matter if we decide to play a midfieldless game ala copa game against No longer Pathetico Madrid

    • Cyclops
      May 2, 2015

      Seriously Tata2, a midfiedless match against bayern ?? bro, you kidding ?? HA!they’d better disband the team already.. I’ll probably rip lucho to pieces, if he dares, ugh!… Some of y’all just got really strange thoughts

  20. barca96
    May 2, 2015

    Doesn’t look like Sevilla can pull off a win here. They can’t even hold the ball.

  21. barca96
    May 2, 2015

    Is Madrid really that good at moving the ball until Sevilla can’t even get a sniff at the ball and even have the opportunity to go 50/50 for the ball? This Sevilla looks totally different to the one that played us just a couple of weeks back. They were so aggressive and intimidating.

    Perhaps Madrid is better in retaining the ball and pressuring until Sevilla doesn’t even get an opportunity.

    • georgjorge
      May 2, 2015

      I actually thought Sevilla didn’t do too badly in the first half – got pressured a lot at first but did start a number of good attacks after that. Anyway, they didn’t exactly get much of the ball the first thirty-five minutes against us either…maybe they’ll show us a different second half today as well.

  22. YaSd
    May 2, 2015

    Well, a Sevilla player was bleeding for 5 minutes and the coach didn’t sub anyone for him, so they were down a man and RM scored two quick goals. Obviously RM did the right thing by taking advantage, but it does leave a really bad taste in my mouth, Sevilla were controlling the game before that happened.

  23. barca96
    May 2, 2015

    I just don’t understand how over and over again teams that fight tooth and nail against us play so soft and careless against Madrid?

  24. May 2, 2015

    Bla, bla, bla … if Suarez converts a goal that he usually can in his sleep, and Pique doesn’t have his moment, our final score is 3-1, same as RM’s.

    It isn’t a question of people fighting more or less hard. That match was in control. Errors and lax play on Barça’s behalf are what caused the difficulty. Even on the Banega goal, Iniesta was lazy about getting out to close him down. If he does what he is supposed to, that goal doesn’t happen, either. That’s football.

    Sevilla didn’t play any harder against RM than they did against us. The difference is that they converted their goal for 3-1. We didn’t. And 3-1 down deep into the second half does things to a team that 2-1 doesn’t.

    — Rakitic is not Xavi, nor is he Iniesta. Until people accept that, he will always get crap for his performances. In many ways he is like Pedro, who does what he is supposed to do, which is what he told to do by his coach. He isn’t That Pedro any longer, because that isn’t his job.

    For anyone who watched Fabregas lay a pile of festering shit defensively in our midfield, the value of Rakitic should be evident to this football team.

    Xavi is the best midfielder to ever play the game, and when allowed to, runs the midfield like a boss. Iniesta is brilliant on the ball and again, when he is allowed to, he is magical. Neither one is going to be all that helpful when it comes to helping Busquets and back line deal with counters. Rakitic is. And that’s his role, a role that he understands and performs very well.

    Football isn’t about templates, but rather about looking at a player and figuring out what he does for the team. Alves is another example. He isn’t as up and down as people suggest. He has never, and will never be a shut-down fullback. What he is, however, is the best combo of attack/defense in the game today at the RB position. Still. That’s why he is being renewed.

    I know that every supporter base examines their own players, and finds them wanting, so it isn’t like culers are the only ones who do it. But that is my world, so it’s what I see. It’s almost like someone says something about a player, and it becomes gospel, like the Legend of Terrible Mathieu vs RM. I watched that match again last night, and he was far from terrible. But again, in the Alba context, he was different. And that often comes to mean “bad.”

    The struggle for me as I watch games, is always to see what I see, rather than what I want to see. Staying far away from Twitter helps that a lot, where you see a lot of “He was crap.” “Yeah!” The vehemence and numbers of “Yeah!” depends on the original Tweeter’s follower count.

    Barça is playing extraordinary football because everybody is doing their jobs. Iniesta doesn’t score that goal that Rakitic did today. Xavi probably doesn’t, either. Rakitic was tracking their forwards when Alves was off playing attacker. Xavi and Iniesta don’t, and Cesc Fabregas’ idea of defense was to lunge in, fall down and shrug as the opponent attacker ran free.

    Rakitic is Rakitic. And that is all he is ever going to be, thankfully for Barça, because Raktic has been mostly excellent this season, and far more consistent than Masia darlings. That is why he is an automatic part of Enrique’s XI.

  25. Cyclops
    May 2, 2015

    Okay, so now maybe we can start rueing that scuffed chanced against pathetic-sevillia…So now, some of you that claim not to “understand” the anger and fretting over the sevillia draw (debacle) can now see, that indeed that was a game we had no buisness losing..A game we could, and should have won…So, no big deal with this result, yeah. They’re probably just giving us a distastefull lesson on how to beat pathetic-sevilla

    And somewhere at the back of my mind, i guess i’m just wishing and maybe whining, that maybe, just maybe, messi should have taken that penalty kick… Gosh! i hate being in this situation…Fancy RM in conjunction with ronaldo trying to spoil my fine mood after the cordoba bashing… Ima just go find something to inspire myself with, and damn pathetic- sevilla and RM

    • Jamal103
      May 2, 2015

      We’re still in control of our destiny. Not gonna lie, it would have been convenient to have Madrid drop points but ultimately they’re still chasing our lead. The next few games define our season, so let’s take all this negative energy and refocus it into supporting this great club.

    • 42
      May 2, 2015

      Can you stop calling Sevilla “pathetic”. They are a very strong and competitive side that dominated RM for the whole game and only lost because they were down to 10 men for a while. I doubt if there’s any team that have the confidence to say they can beat Sevilla comfortably at their home.

  26. TITO
    May 2, 2015

    This means we have to go for a win in Madrid.
    I was hoping they will drop points tonight.

  27. Jamal103
    May 2, 2015

    Kxevin’s right. The 3rd goal in the tie really kills off any momentum and 9 times out of 10, puts the game out of site. Madrid can thank Casillas for his heroics that kept Sevilla at bay though.

    On the flip side, Real will definitely be more fatigued when playing against the 2015-2016 Italian champions this Tuesday.

  28. 86ed
    May 2, 2015

    We have only ourselves to blame. We had Sevilla on the ropes but let them off. First Bravo, then Suarez, then Pique in succession let us down, and we dropped two valuable points. There was no way Real was not going to win today.

    In an otherwise superb years since Sociedad, we have committed two cardinal sins. We let Sevilla off the hook, and we did not score the third goal vs Real. That’s how the league is lost folks. We we have to beat Atletico in Madrid again. I reasonably certain that Real will win their remaining three games at the canter, so the pressure will be on us.

    • TITO
      May 2, 2015

      We cant go back and blame our luck on our missed chances. They dropped points as well.
      This means only that we depend on ourselves. Who knows, the mighty Espanyol can pull out a win for us, you never know, or we destroy AM in their home.
      We’ll see. If they win all the remaining matches and we dont, then they are deserved champions.

  29. May 2, 2015

    The thing about the ties is that if Real win against Valencia and Atletico win against Levante, they will still be seven points ahead of Valencia with two game to play – and it doesn’t matter what Valencia does tomorrow vs Eibar.
    If Valencia draw against Real Madrid, then the distance between Barça and Real(if Barça wins against Real Sociedad) will be four points, which would mean Barça could even afford to lose against Atletico and still win La Liga at Camp Nou against Deportivo.

    P.S. Last Atletico game of the season is away to Granada, who may be already relegated at that point. Still, it could be very interesting all around. Boring La Liga what? 😀

    In any case, Valencia will have until Saturday to train and prepare for Real Madrid.

  30. Cyclops
    May 2, 2015

    And talking about fabregas, now i’m thinking, fabregas is never one to boss a game for ya…He’s basically just all about the final balls….He just looks for that final killer pass, that pretty much all he does.. Now when, the board bought him, when they actually, ACTUALLY, rated him above Thiago- i remember vividly then, that there were talks of fabregas being the heir to the Xavi throne, ahead of Thiago..So how in pete’s name was that suppose to work out ?? Try telling me the boards didnt know that Fabregas was never gonna lock-down a midfield, that they didnt know he was never in the mould of Xavi, and i’ll tell you that speak volumes of their ineptness…I mean, they were going on and on about fabregas replacing Xavi, when somebody that had a better potential than fabregas to fill that role, was being let to leave the club….

    I remember listening to a sports show, when that Thiago deal happened, and someone sent a text saying, Thiago was just the needed Xavi replacement -atleast in regards to the players available for same role then (Ahem- fabregas)…And he ended by saying “what the hell are barca doing letting such a player go”…I remember how terrible i felt hearing that…Now after that season, fabregas was left ( can you believe that, so much for thiago leaving) and you say, Oops the board didnt know the fabregas project wasnt gonna work out, really ?? They’d seriously been expecting him to churn out a Xavi- like performance ?? so much that they rated him above thiago ( and in the end he was also let to go, funny that) well, you can go tell that to the birds for all i care…
    Thiago leaving, was basically a result of the boards inpetness and Thiago traitor-ish insticts…Me, i’m never really irked about the price he was sold, as much as the fact that he was allowed to leave…Its just when you get to think, that adding salts to injurie, thiago didnt just leave, but bayern- of all clubs got him for a paltry amount of money, it hurts even more, big time..

    But then when i get to think about it, i’m like, good-riddance to bad rubbish, fancy letting someone with his awfull character play for this team…Say, the boards had done what was needed, and Thiago stayed, we would have had a non-patriotic, glory-seeking, egoistic ‘ being’ in our team, and we would probably never had known…So i say, go jump in a lake thaigo!

    • Jim
      May 2, 2015

      Genuine stream of consciousness, Cyclops. Brilliant ! Particularly the complete volte face in the last paragraph. This team can do that to you 🙂

  31. Rami
    May 2, 2015

    Morale of the story is, Never rely on others to do your work for you.
    If we want the league, we’ll take it ourselves, And with the team we have now, It’s a challenge i’ll accept with a smile.

  32. Dar_vincy
    May 2, 2015

    At this stage, we really can’t keep dwelling on spilled milk, even though the regrets and the what ifs are irresistible. Things didn’t go our way in Seville…it happens. But it did against Valencia. If anything, that was a sure draw, esp as they had a penalty. Madrid could yet drop points against Valencia…but I don’t count on such possibility. Our focus should be on the Altetico match (while not forgetting Sociedad). That must be treated as a final. Guess we have to do it the hard way this time. I’m optimistic.

    • May 2, 2015

      I rather think the focus should be on Bayern first. 😛

      But you are absolutely right, it doesn’t matter what happened before or what Real do, Barça still continues to hold its Liga destiny in its hands. Win against Real Sociedad, Atletico and Deportivo and it doesn’t matter what Real Madrid does.

      The good thing in this situation is Barça is playing at home the next two games, and those can be decisive.

    • Inamess
      May 2, 2015

      RM are still one game away from elimination in La Liga. The fact that it didn’t happen today is disappointing but we are still the predominant favorite to win the league. If we don’t at this point we simply don’t deserve it and they do. To me their decisive player in the last month is easily Sergio Ramos who is personally responsible for sending key opponents off the field with red cards and fractured faces so his team can play against 10 men.

    • Dar_vincy
      May 2, 2015

      Right on point, Peter and Inamess..
      Good thing is we have form and momentum going for us…
      One thing is for sure: there’s belief. The players have given us a huge reason to believe…once again…

  33. Cyclops
    May 2, 2015

    Bayern lost 2-0 to leverkusen, woa..Now isnt such a sweet thing when tables turns ??

    • YaSd
      May 2, 2015

      That game was as important as a friendly, no tables have turned just yet

    • Cyclops
      May 2, 2015

      YaSd, what’ya talking about ?? we were in that very same position when we met a couple of seasons back..I remember, how we were all singing the song of a herioc comeback in the second leg, and we couldnt even get past, i think malaga- the liga game preceding the second leg of that UCl clash….From that angle, tables has turned bro, same goes for RM too..you had better enjoy it while it last…Me, i’m smacking my lips….

    • YaSd
      May 2, 2015

      Huh? We have not even played the first leg. I’m pretty confident going into it but we haven’t done anything yet. Bayern have already won the league, that’s why I didn’t think today’s defeat means anything.

      I do believe, however, that the tables will finally turn on Wednesday, and my prediction is a Manita, straight up.

  34. Inamess
    May 2, 2015

    1)YaSd to me with the most astute observation on the day. I simply don’t understand this obsession with sticking with injured players on the field or trying to perform surgical miracles on the sidelines. You go down to 10 men against RM for 10 minutes and shouldn’t wonder why you lose.

    2) Messi’s penalty gift to Neymar made me feel all warm and fuzzy until the end of the Sevilla game. If the Picchichi is so important to Ronaldo that he will change the way he plays to get it then I would say Bravo to Leo but in the end it was a Ned Stark gesture and made little sense except that it will be a minor topic of news for the next day or so.

    3) The debate over Rakitic is one that will never be resolved. He is a good player who does many things well but is far from being a crucial player for our team. As just one example, how many fans were shocked that he didn’t play against Espanyol. With a young and still inexperienced Rafinha in the midfield his services were hardly missed. Nothing against Rakitic personally but with a different midfield option this team could easily be the best Barcelona team ever and even the greatest team of all time.

    • Dar_vincy
      May 2, 2015

      True dat….

  35. Cyclops
    May 2, 2015

    Thanks RKUMAR, a very revealing post there, and a sad one too… At some point in the season, i was starting to wonder why Halilovic was being left time and time again on the bench, same could be said of samper too..I supposet these says it all…Just another little exposé on those dreadfull goons we call “the boards”… such a sad tale, buy hey, if indeed Barca B gets relegated, nothing’s perfect, right ??( As much as i hate to say that) somehow, someway, these things finds a way of happening, there will always be a twist to the fairytale…Gonna take heart in that sour logic…Thumbs down to Rosell and his cohorts…Cant wait for the elections… Força barca!

    • Dar_vincy
      May 2, 2015

      Quite sad what’s happening there… Eusebio’ dismal, for me, should have been carried out at the end of the season. The decision only exacerbated their current conundrum.
      Hopefully they survive the drop. Hopefully.

  36. Dar_vincy
    May 2, 2015

    Right on point, Peter and Inamess..
    Good thing is we have form and momentum going for us…
    One thing is for sure: there’s belief. The players have given us a huge reason to believe…once again…

    • May 2, 2015

      I don’t understand why we keep looking at Real’s performance and use it as a meter stick to gauge Barça’s. So Real won against Sevilla, and Barça drew? Barça faced a fresh Sevilla, which put two shots on target. Real faced a Sevilla after Europa League in Russia, missing key CB and that Sevilla scored two and put five on target, seven off target and seven blocked.

      Did you watch the match tonight? I mean really watch it.

      Here’s what actually happened: Real Madrid scored two goals in two minutes while Sevilla had a key player out. Against eleven Real scored one and conceded two goals, and were very, very lucky not to concede a couple more. And this is a Real team, which came out on the pitch with five defenders.
      In the last twenty minutes of the game or so Real were getting outfought, out-thought, out-skilled. There’s a reason for that:

      Ronaldo, Kroos, James, Isco, Varane, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo, basically the Gala starters of the team, have been playing practically non-stop for the last month(since International Break) and will continue to do so until after the Espanyol game.

      Note: all minutes are strictly since International break. Overall the difference is even more telling.

      James came back from an injury after the international break and has started 8 games and has played less than 90 minutes in only two of those games, for a total of 660 minutes.
      In the same period Rakitic has played 450 minutes, Iniesta 408, Xavi 390, Busquets, who has been the most used midfielder, has 640.

      Kroos has been playing non-stop two matches per week since early March. Since break(when he was with the national team) he’s played a total of 687 min. Overall he’s played close to 1000 minutes more than Busquets.

      Nothing to say about Ronaldo really, 810 minutes, same as Messi.

      Isco is the freshest of the midfield, but even he has missed playing in only one match since early March – against Granada. Sure, he has played a total of 18 minutes vs Rayo and 14 minutes vs Atletico, but other than that he’s been constantly on the pitch. 493 min.

      Marcelo was dropped against Almeria and return Atletico, but on the other hand he usually plays complete matches(only real sub was after 65 min. against Eibar), and apart from missing Almeria, he has been playing two times per week ever since El Clasico (and he also played one international friendly). 603 min.
      Alba has 414 min., Alves 672 min. (however Alves still has 270 min. less played overall between La Liga and Champions League)

      Carvajal was rotated with Arbeloa, but he still has managed to accumulate 460 min.

      Varane has missed one game, against Malaga, but apart from that he’s been in every RM and France match since late March. If he plays against Juventus, it would be his tenth match since 29th of March(full matches). 720 min.
      Mascherano has 510 min. while occasionally playing in two positions. Pique has 630 min. Mathieu 430, Bartra 180 min.

      Ramos missed Almeria as well, but he has been playing non-stop, El Clasico included. Juventus would be his 12th game in the period 22.03-05.05, in which he has been subbed off once, after 64 minutes against Eibar. 694 min.

      Pepe has been the most rotated of the defence of RM, but he’s first the oldest and second, rotated here means four complete games and two matches as a substitute since 11.04 for a total of 410 min.

    • 42
      May 2, 2015

      What a great post Peter! Yes this RM might be lucky to have beaten Sevilla today, but they will be tired out by the end of next week, and they have a great possibility of dropping points vs a fresh, competitive Valencia who has rested all week.

  37. luisthebeast
    May 2, 2015

    We won liga when we won clasico.That was the game who will make us champions.We will win the next 3 games.I am so tired of the whining.This team made a HUGE comeback in 2015.

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