The who to the what (1)

Copa America ain’t cutting it for you? Bored in anticipation of Silly Season? Unfazed by election talk? Let’s get down to some good old fashioned player evaluations. Since you like it when I make it last, I’ll split this one in four. Part one, the goalkeepers.

13

Strengths:
Who said there weren’t any jaguars in Chile? Pounce, baby, pounce!
Weaknesses:
Not carrying his league form to the Copa and the Champions League.
Expectations:
Huh, what? But…. why?? If former shot stopper Zubizarreta spent years of research and scouting to find the diamond in the rough who would replace Victor Valdes before finally, but very decidedly, settling on a German wunderkind, why would we spend 12 million euros on this guy all of a sudden? Besides, I was underwhelmed by what I’d seen from him previously, as he committed errors in roughly a third of the games I’d watched. It’s safe to say that this signing did not fill my heart with enthusiasm.
His role in the treble:
The Chilean international was one of the best keepers in Europe this season, and essential to our title run. He might have been helped by an incredibly solid defense, but if his only “mistake” was letting through a long range bottom corner power missile by Ever Banega, I’m glad to have been proven WRONG. The last word of that sentence is fully deserving of capital letters.
Standout moment of the season:
His reflection save in the second half of the home Clasico. Humongous. After that stop, Barça cut through M*drid like a red and blue knife through molten butter.
What’s next?
Another Zamorra winning title run would make this culer very, very happy.

1

Strengths:
The way he passes the ball is downright sexy. Any foot fetishists out there, this one uses both very, very well.
Weaknesses:
His oft-quoted strength of not letting mistakes affect his game doesn’t look that strong when you take into account all the mistakes he’s made this season. Also, you’d expect this tall, blond German oak to be more dominant in the air.
Expectations:
Let’s be honest. None of us here are avid Borussia Mönchengladbach followers. Cue millions of opinions based on internet articles by writers pretending to be just that, YouTube videos and Twitter hype. A cross between Oliver Kahn and Franz Beckenbauer? Fair to say that expectations were high.
His role in the treble:
We won the treble, and his very solid homecoming performance in Germany kept the second leg of the CL semifinal a relatively uncomplicated affair. He also atoned for the dreadful decision of trying to dribble past Kun Aguëro by stopping his penalty some 10 minutes later in the second round against Manchester City. Fans in love with his passing ability will overlook the gaffes he committed in each of the finals he played this season. Luckily they remained unpunished.
Standout moment of the season:
Catching a ball with his chest before volleying it to a teammate? You gotta be frickin’ kidding me.
What’s next?
Our German friend oozes class, but he is young and error prone. If his Liga counterpart maintains his level of goalkeeping, any change in the current arrangement will be hard to come by. The kid wants to be the man in the Camp Nou. For that to happen, he needs to remain patient. As do we.

25

Strengths:
Shot-stopping, never-say-dying and pine-riding.
Weaknesses:
Not having made the jump to top flight football until he was 26 years old.
Expectations:
Before the season started, an avid Barça B follower assured me he would relegate both Bravo and Ter Stegen to the bench before all was over.
His role in the treble:
When all was over, the only homegrown goalkeeper of an all-conquering behemoth of a team that made history had played 270 completely inconsequential minutes.
Standout moment of the season:
He might not have been given the chance to make a difference during our treble run, but he did pull off that save against Espanyol during the Supercopa de Catalunya.
What’s next?
Since Bravo is our best option between the sticks and MATS is being groomed for the future, it’s hard to see any more game time for Jordi. He’s too good to be a third goalkeeper and should look for a future elsewhere.

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Written by:

Culé since way before football boots were of the neon yellow and lizard green variety, Levon is a deep thinker with increasingly shallow thoughts. He lives in Barcelona with his gorgeous wife and daughter. The lucky bastard...

14 Comments

  1. Dar_vincy
    June 20, 2015

    Giving how last season panned out, it would be interesting to know if Ter Stegen would have preferred to swap roles with Bravo. If he never encountered that back injury, it’d most certainly have been TERS – La liga and Bravo – CDR and UCL.
    While one (UCL) offers glamour, the other (La Liga) guarantees a consistent game time. Their choice certainly depends on what they consider more appealing.
    Stegen’s composure on the ball, which seldom crosses to cockiness, could be his undoing in the future. Hopefully. he learns to keep things simple when simplicity is what is required.

  2. Inamess
    June 20, 2015

    Nice article Levon! Bravo’s role was huge in La Liga this year, particularly in the first half of the year when the team was still struggling to find its best way to play. I particularly remember some big saves at Valencia that were decisive as well.

    MAtS is such a different goalie that it is difficult to compare the two but I wonder what it would take for him to take the La Liga spot from Bravo other than some major screw ups by the latter. Still, the team played some of its best matches this season with Ter Stegan in goal, so he definitely can add that extra dimension with his feet that Bravo can’t give us.

    • June 21, 2015

      Good call. Come to think of it, he was no slouch at home against Valencia, either.

  3. barca96
    June 20, 2015

    I really hope Argentina will win the Copa America but ONLY for Messi but they don’t deserve it at all. It’s unbelievable how poor they are as a team. There is no chemistry, no movement. When Messi has the ball, everybody just stands and waits, it’s so frustrating to watch. They look like amateurs with no clues on off the ball movement. I understand that it’s hard to play against a tight packed defense but you gotta move.

    Spain won the 2010 WC by scoring minimal goals but at least they could control the matches. This Argentina team looks nervous on the ball. Di Maria is good but he plays such a high risk high rewards but high failure type of football. Higuain is a waste if space. I’m definitely not going to stay up until 7.30am to watch them again.

    • June 21, 2015

      Even if Argentina win it, I would say, they didnt deserve it. But for once, there are clear signals that things are made complicated by the coaching department. I wonder what the AFA saw in Tata Martino.
      The way they played the second half against Jamaica, they would be thrashed by a Columbia or Chile. Right now, they look like a team moving on based on sheer player grit, than anything.
      It is painful to watch Messi playing behind 5/7 of their players, around the centre, as the ball cant be moved forward otherwise. Terrible.

    • June 21, 2015

      And in all 3 matches, the team giving out the same signals in the last 20 or 25 minutes. Our midfield and defence will panic, if you attack us in the second half, we are tired. The same in all three games. Unbelievable.

    • Davour
      June 21, 2015

      I agree. I haven’t seen any full games, only 20-30 minute stretches. But man, this team does not function! I watched a Messi-highlight reel, and (again) man, does he create a lot of moments. At times you could see him being ready to launch a pass or a move, but nobody would assist him – or when they did, fumble with the ball. With a Suarez up front, they would have scored a couple more, no doubt, with the chaos created my Messi-plays. No wonder he, at times, take a bit too long to release the ball, or become slightly too selfish. He must feel that it is all up to him, and that is to the detriment of the team, because it will not be enough against better teams.

      He may not have scored nor assisted but “Messi was against JAM the player with most touches, passes, key passes, dribbles, recoveries and chances created” (barcastuff)… I am sick to death by the narrow focus on points. Football is not goddamn darts. Funny that Simeone just commented that Messi and Maradona are incomparable, since Messi is a striker, and Diego played all over the field. The above indicates a more expanded roe for Leo, too… (though, Simeone also stated that Messi is far above anyone else in today’s football world).

  4. luisthebeast
    June 20, 2015

    I am a big fan of Mark and i believe he can be the number one in the world!!So much potentials that boy!!In the CL final he was a Boss and the save in Tevez was world class!!About Copa America until now Chile looks the fresher team.Argentina are so slow.Brazil meh.Colombia meh.Uruguay meh but if Suarez play in knock out games they have a chance.Can he play??

    • June 21, 2015

      I agree that he has a lot of potential but he did not boss the CL final. He showed good reflections on that shot from Tevez, but a world class save would be to push the ball away from goal so that no other attacker could get to it. Marc bounced it back across the goal mouth and gave up a gimme. Also, the way he bungled that corner shortly after was horrid, horrid stuff.

    • June 21, 2015

      I agree Levon. He shows a lot of calm and composure while playing with lot of space ahead of him, receiving and passing the ball. But, during crowded moments, it looks like he just managed to get his hands on the ball, as if he just got it. Bravo is better in such moments.

    • Davour
      June 21, 2015

      Well put. But this is due to lack of experience (I hope). He does radiate potential, and being so young (especially for a keeper) it seems there is time to grow. He managed to be good enough to help us towards two trophies now, and he won’t get worse…

  5. luisthebeast
    June 21, 2015

    I am trying to find in Spanish and English sites what Vallalolid president said about madrid paid 2m by Osasuna in 2009 and i cant find anything.It s strange.How LFP dont investigate that but they want to investigate what a La Coruna player said?And it s sad that Sid Lowe in his article in Guardian about La Liga season mention that LFP will investigate us for what La Coruna player said.But i dont see Sid to make any mention in twitter or anywhere about what Carlos Suarez said.Double standards.

  6. luisthebeast
    June 21, 2015

    Match fixing is about money.I will give u the money and u will loose against us.It s not match fixing when a player say:Hey guys please dont kill us,we will go down.

  7. luisthebeast
    June 21, 2015

    Buffon made the same in Messi shoot.And Tevez was a more difficult shoot,it was from very close.One mistake in a final by Mark dont mean it was not a Boss;-)

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