Levante 0, Barça 2, aka “A perfect result”

After the footballing heights reached in the Valencia destruction, it was always interesting to see what was going to happen in an away fixture at a potentially difficult ground to Levante.

The team put out midweek in a way that resulted in its best display of the season, but that also required a lot of effort, making the challenge of dealing with Levante a bit more fraught, even as we remember that this team is rock-bottom in the Liga table, butt-naked last as a track runner once said of an opponent. To make matters worse, the match featured a noon kickoff, which robbed some of us of much-needed beauty sleep, and at times had Barça staggering around like vampires unable to deal with that bright light in the sky.

And the team won, comfortably, not even getting out of second gear. Levante had two legit opportunities on goal, one easily parried by Bravo and another one that hit the post. The brutality of being a team at the bottom of the table is statistical in nature. Even the best teams squander scoring chances, but can usually make enough of them to win a match. The poorer teams don’t get that many chances, and when you consider the percentages — chances created vs converted — math becomes downright tyrannical.

Levante had bright stretches of play, but not enough chances. They would get in or near the Barça box, and a defender, quite often Mascherano, would bolt in to shut the lock. And that was that. Of the only two proper chances created, it’s statistically proper that Levante score neither. The problem is that your opponent is not only good, but lucky. When Navarro assed in an own goal in the first half, it was all over but the shouting, really. Levante wasn’t going to score. And if they did, Barça would have scored again. That’s the nature of football at the top and bottom of the table.

The announcers talked about Barça looking dull, and this not being one of their best displays. And this space echoed Barça Twitter, as some were quite unhappy with the display, even as it was pretty wonderful.

In the past, Barça’s success was like one of those perpetual motion machines. If one domino fell the wrong way, the whole thing went kerflooey, and a negative result transpired. Winning ugly just wasn’t an option for the team that was all butterflies and glitter bombs. Some of it was a consequence of the style of play, one rooted in movement of ball and players, of intricate passing lanes and one-touch delicacy.

Enrique changed a lot of that, bringing pragmatism to the picture and allowing his players to, in effect, have rest matches. Barça won 0-2, which was one more goal than required. Did that second goal bring a sigh of relief for many? Assuredly. But Levante never seriously looked like scoring except for those two opportunities, the quality of Giuseppe Rossi notwithstanding. And Barça never got out of second gear to get the full points, and keep everybody fit. If there is a “match-worn” shirt sale by Barça players, this is the match you want. They will still smell like new — except for Mascherano and Sergi Roberto’s. Those will need to go in the wash right away.

Matches such as this one are essential for a championship team, not only to conserve energy but to put in the precise amount of necessary work. The quandary is that for everyone else, football is entertainment. Imagine being an accountant, and having people express disappointment that the tax return you just did doesn’t display the same kind of eloquent sum-adding of the last return. That’s what footballers have to deal with, and they probably have a giggle about it on the bus rides home.

FC Barcelona supporters are, and have always been a demanding bunch. Merely winning is insufficient. The team must also play beautifully, and correctly. What this means that is that effective football isn’t really that much of a thing. Statistics are brought to bear to demonstrate why the match was poor, such as three completed dribbles, and the like. But for this Barça, a team that often runs afoul of its demanding fanbase, the only stat that seems to count is the final score.

Even last season, we could see the pragmatism, the team that played just well enough to win, that put out just enough effort to get the job done. Work. Supporters demand entertainment, coaches and boards demand results. They will acknowledge the need for beauty, for “Barça football,” and sometimes even pay lip service to the notion. But they would rather have a result than beauty. Who cares what score the Russian judge gives that routine? Put in work, get the result, and go home. Matches such as this one are every bit as essential as the extravagance of the Valencia Copa tie. In both cases, the team got more goals than were required, more than enough to seal the deal. They could sashay around the pitch vs Levante, and will be able to rest players vs Valencia. That’s effective football, and effective football wins championships, even when it doesn’t win beauty contests.

When the match was over, there was a consensus floating about, expressed by the BeIN match commentators, that Levante “deserved” a draw. Why? You want the point? Earn it. There aren’t consolation prizes, or judges in a sport that is simple: score more goals, and you win. There have been matches where a valiant opponent has come out to compete with an in-form Barça and gone toe-to-toe, only to lose. In some of those matches, a more generous soul can say that, football justice being what it is, yeah somebody might have deserved a point.

Levante got an energy-conserving, sleepwalking Barça and couldn’t score a goal. So they deserved precisely what they got. It’s cruel, both to the supporters who came out to watch and hope, the players who worked their butts off and the coach who drew them up and worked out a match plan that would enable him to get the most from his charges. It wasn’t enough. The late tally from Suarez, that took advantage of a Levante team that was pressed up to seek an equalizer that was never going to come, was just Barça doing what it does, taking advantage of a favorable situation. And at the end of the match the team shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. The script was adhered to, and that was that.

That makes 28 matches unbeaten for this team, that will be going for a club record 29th when it takes on Valencia at the Mestalla, and boy, is that going to be a problem. The team will only well and truly care about not losing 0-8. Ship six goals, and they will caper off to the Copa final, grinning. Should this happen, some will lament not having gotten the record. Guardiola fans will breathe a sigh of relief that those storied teams can remain so, untouched by time and mere humans. And the team won’t care all that much, this group that doesn’t seem all that obsessed by stats and records. Its attackers pass up open chances to dish off to more-open teammates. The extra pass is almost always made, all in pursuit of the result. A victory.

A fanbase might seek beauty, but a player will tell that there is nothing more beautiful than three points.

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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.

32 Comments

  1. luisthebeast
    February 7, 2016

    «Guardiola fans will breathe a sign of relief»!!!Haha that is the point of this part of the season!!People are freaking out!!80 wins in 100 games!!!This is history!!Yeah but at Pep era we dominated every game,they say!Well i dont remember that(Chelsea away 2009 we were dominated by them)but it s ok for people to create fairytales in their minds!!Enjoy this people and look to the future!!!Past is past!!!

  2. luisthebeast
    February 7, 2016

    Oh and Barca B with 4 wins in a row.I guess that stupid people,Robert the SD and Gerard,if they had the chance to make the changes in past summer,now we maybe would be in top 3 of Segunda B.But yeah twitter kids now better;-)

  3. Cyclops
    February 7, 2016

    Hahahaha, the whole thing is kinda funny- i mean like the depressing kind of funny, the one where you get so annoyed, that normal stuff you do when you annoyed, dont really convey your feelings, so you just settled with an exasperated grin, and oh times like this one thing still works, you could um..go on some killing spree, now thats just the way to express your anoyance..But who’s there for the killing? a quick check around, suggest the Barca players are topping the list in that regard..But hehe, i aint got the liver for that, besides who dosnt want to watch now and then, the Barca vs Valencia games of the world eh? so i just settle for my exasperated grin

    BTW, i didnt even watch the match, heard the woodwork spared our blushes, and i thought oh well the Kick-off time spared mine too- its not fun watching a match and turning literally scarlet at what you seeing.
    But i thought i had the lowdown on things, the way the match progressed, but coming here and reading this Article, it threw a wrench into my carefully formulated opinion..Boy, dont the Articles here always find a way of looking at the Positives- Positives that are becoming a little bit too Positives for my liking
    But then again, cut them some slack, if Messi’s R2 had not been ruled offside, a certain coach from the other side of valencia could have been complaining of another drubbing to his Team..Maybe, just maybe..But then what made them dropped off? The much embraced idea of the Team getting up and Scoring when its wants to, i dont totally share that sentiment…Thats just a lot of Theory for me, the Team has better go out there and practicalise it, The taste of the pudding is in the Eating, not in the Salivating- for all you know its not as sweet as you think..For crying out loud, its against the bottom placed team, and you cant put out such crappy performance and then people rise to your defence with “the game was under control”..i’m just saying.. if tomorrow we get bashed it wouldnt be nice to hear “We’ve had it coming”..Maybe the game was under control afterall, but would you ever know for certain, i dont think putting out a solid yet energy conserving performance against a Levante is asking too much..there’s talk about control, the control i know of is- maybe not even scoring too many goals, heck score just one goal, and basically steamroll your 20th placed opponent..We’ve seen barca do that time and again..In such case, i could go to sleep midway into game, wake up later and without checking the results bet my house that Barca won the match, not in this case, i wouldnt even bet my Toothbrush

    Point, putting out a decent performance against Levante, is not too much to ask, when they falter saying the Game was under control is being a bit too Eager for me, what if it wasnt, and tomorrow we get spanked ala Celta match, and everybody scream By jingo, i’ve seen it coming all along”..
    IMO saying the Kick-off time played a huge factor in their performance is just about Stomach-able

  4. Cyclops
    February 7, 2016

    Just keep all this Talk about Scoring when you want to aside, and let the Team put out an Okay performance Against Levant(seriously, so its just levante thats creating all this brouhaha??) which is never asking for too much..Besides you sleep better, yeah, i do, dunno about you, rather than conjuring a Mental picture of the same Match played out differently, where all your suppostions actually worked out, and then you try with your Might to convince yourself, it as Real- could be as Real as the One that actually took place..
    Again, a decent perfomance against Levante should not necassarily give them Stroke( i suppose there’s a Form of Tiredness that can give you that, no?) then just do that, for pete sake! and save me the burden of spending Practically all of my Sunday typing all this, duh

    Besides, what with the whole talk of Dehydration, Saliva is Precious these days, it not not Nice wasting it, Arguing with some fault-finding, no-job, lame haters, and trying with all your God Given Might to explain to them that the Game was under control, irrespective of whether or not you believe it Yourself…hehehe

  5. Cyclops
    February 7, 2016

    My sources(funny that) are telling me, most probably the Team was Fatigued( Yes you just heard that, thought it was gone eh) Fatigue was actually Responsible(Again!) But well, what can i say, i seem to buy that Argument more readily…So here’s the plan, from now on the name of the Game is Fatigue, you can Emblazon that on your forehead, so you never get to forget, and each time our beloved barca players are limping about on the pitch, just stare at the Mirror(yeah, always keep one with you)you’d see that Menacing word “Fatigue” Boldly staring back at you, in that case you’d never need to be reminded again that Fatigue is responsible for such performances..we really dont know how long it’d last, but this plan is fullproof, should see you through the End of the Season

    I kinda find this is interesting; at this time last season, after this sort of performance, i’d heve been going all lyrical on Tactics, system, bla bla, how LE Sucks and all, lol..
    But People change, if your circumstances refuse to change, well, you just change yourself..Despite all my Cries and pleas apparently LE and his Cohorts had already decided that the days of Pep? football is well and truly in the past, effectively a Myth now.. What can i do, I cant put a Gun to his Head and order him to Think again, if i can, i’d put the Gun on Florentino Perez’s head first…No amount of Bickering, Vexing and Screaming would change his mind, but i can change Mine, just take it all, get My Behind, Behind him(hehe) and see where its all lead we(while glancing at my calendar, and rechecking the Date when Xavi plan to come in as HeadCoach- hopefully thats not malicious) in all this hoping Disney cooperate, and officially launch the Pep Era into the world of Myth by coming up with the Blockbuster Movie for it, titled something like” The legends of Pep And his Boys”..Sounds Tacky, dosn’t it..???

  6. Davour
    February 7, 2016

    Thanks for the review – spot on. I comparison to RM win just now against Granada, our looked the better. Speaking of “deserved”, Granada should’ve had one point, but Modric decided to do it himself with a beautiful strike (individual quality; Granada wasted their chances). RM did not look good; CR still invisible, and team does not look too coherent. Dani had a stinker for us, but the rest of the team was ok, just didn’t make too much of an effort. And there is a difference between fatigue and conserving energy; the latter is to avoid the former…

  7. dl
    February 7, 2016

    Well, cyclops, I’m not at all sure I followed any of that, but I did enjoy the sizzle and pop, warp and woof, shuck and jive, whatever you want to call it. Nice use of upper case, too. Far too often neglected in posts. Oddly it is usually non-native speakers that seem to find the best use of it. Maybe native speakers have had the rules too firmly pounded into them. Anyway, keep in touch, eh?

  8. ooga aga
    February 7, 2016

    Luis Enrique and his staff are consistently doing something that Pep only sometimes did. It’s called managing a game and managing a lead. For those who want champagne football every match, and — pardon me — summarize a match they didn’t watch by saying “the woodwork spared our blushes”, um I’ll take LE’s ability to manage a squad over a 60 game season any day, over yours. It’s actually quite amazing how professional and efficient this team is, but hmm, maybe the first treble wasn’t enough for folks to see how it’s done. what a laugh.

  9. ooga aga
    February 8, 2016

    “Hacía mucho viento y, a veces, no sabíamos donde iba la pelota”

    Sergi roberto: “it was super windy and at times we didn’t know where the ball was going “

  10. Tata2
    February 8, 2016

    And you think Pep can accomplish what Enrique has accomplished with this group of players? Gosh! Pep is gone and isnt coming back ( atleast not any time soon). Football is constantly evolving, you have the option of either evolving or been left behind. You and I can still remember the misery of being unable to break down an inter or Chelsea bus, the misery of getting eliminated by a shitty Chelsea in recent memory cos we decided to play champagne football with 3 at the back and allowed Ramires to score that frigging chip. I remember how we all yearned for a team that didn’t go all out on attack no matter the result. We have to appreciate what we, Enrique has won 80 out of 100 and we have all suddenly forgotten Hlebuary. And what’s your beloved darlin doing at Bayern? Even I can win the bundesliga with a Bayern team in a shitty league. Last time we met, he managed to escape with “only” a 3-0 thrashing (to hell with the Robben and Ribery absence excuse, Ribery was on the decline after his balond’or nomination, and I recall them being pummeled by EE with both players playing). I hope we meet them again in the UCL so we could beat them more “convincingly” this time around. I am grateful to Pep for all he did for barca but he’s gone now and I couldn’t careless about what he did in other leagues. I wish him the best in the EPL though I’d love to see him go pick a shitty team and get them to top the league like Ranieri ( one of the reasons I don’t rate Mou; always going to the big clubs so that he can have cash to sign star players and then take the glory)

    • Davour
      February 8, 2016

      I agree that this constant Pep-comparison is tiresome. It really would be interesting to see what Pep could do with a lesser team – like LE actually did with Celta (no wonders, but solid). Still, you don’t see Ancelotti go around picking up relegation teams – too much at stake for their status. Ranieri never had that status, and has everything to win from being an underdog. And to Mou’s defence: he did win CL with Porto, hardly a European top side, though they had a pretty good team that year.

      Pep was questioned because of superiority of Xaviniessi – who can lose with them? And LE is because of MSN. But you still have to manage them (Benitez, anyone?), and I think it takes a special talent in itself to handle a group of superstars. LE seems to have that talent.

    • georgjorge
      February 8, 2016

      To be honest, the only times I see comparisons with Pep are in comments from people who rage against those mysterious and unknown (to me) “Pep-lovers”. I don’t know anyone (in virtual or real life) who goes on droning about how Pep would have done it much better than Lucho or how he wouldn’t ever have won only 2-0 against Levante, but they must exist in large quantities because I can see quite some people railing against them here time and time again.

      Then again, I’m not on Twitter.

      What I do get, mostly from fans of other clubs, is the old “anyone could have won with 2009 or 2015 Barca” argument. But I don’t recall Barca dominating European football the years before 2009 when everyone but Busquets was already on board, and I don’t see teams like RM or Bayern, with huge budgets and an incredible amount of talent and quality amongst their players, having a similarly dominating role over the last years. Plus there’s also this year’s Chelsea if you want an example of a squad with very good players and a huge budget severely underperforming, maybe being Pep or Lucho isn’t that easy after all.

  11. February 8, 2016

    An effective win, thats what I would say, even if it wasn’t beautiful. How many have played noon football. It is bloody difficult, and for a team who has to perform every 3rd day, it is a big challenge. Glad that we didnt lose points.
    However, I would still agree with Cyclops that – it is not ok to say that we would have scored another goal, had there been an equaliser – simply because football is not predictable. If scoring a goal was so easy, then Pep and LE teams would not be looking at 28 as their biggest winning streak.
    I really dont understand people are going against Pep now. He gave us beautiful moments and kick started our domination of this era in football. He made even BM to play beautiful football, and hopefully he will do that at M. City too. Am confident about that.
    LE is more effective than Pep, for me, having gotten a team who were successfull and knowing the path to success. LE got MSN, whereas Pep had XIM at their peak. Both plays football in different ways, with more than a few common things. Pep had more control and beauty, LE more effectiveness. Lets be proud that both arewere at Barca.

    • georgjorge
      February 8, 2016

      Amen to everything!

  12. lala10
    February 8, 2016

    Enter Your Comment… We all have a right to free speech and free thought. But the heights we sometimes reach are amazing.

  13. Cyclops
    February 8, 2016

    yeah, like running around searching for Enemies where are they none, uh..

    DL, what can i say, i’m always available, anytime..Thanks for your words anyway

    Its amazing just how Advanced people reasoning are..So, i didn’t watch the match, therefore Match Replays ceases to exist? Match Report are obliterated too uh?
    And just to add, i too wouldnt mind taking my reasoning over yours..

    Nobody is comparing anything here, Kxevin made references to Pep and his days, and i simply wrote something Satirical-ish, wasnt comparing anything, i’ve got better things to do. Georgjorge, thanks bro, some folks bizzarely see Pep fanatic where is there none.. For crying out loud, there were beautiful moments with pep, i’d never understand this hard stance taking against him, with some literally ready to bite his head off, if given an inch..

    Pep had the Xavi-Ini-Messi combo, Luch has MSN, both had something, and i appreciate both somewhat equally..But its perplexing, when somebody decides to take over my own Mind, and decide what i’m thinking, and what i’m not thinking..
    Cant even believe i’m saying this again..Nobody is doing any comparison here, go clear your head some…

    And RM underperfoming against Granada, does not justify Barca’s performance, thats why there’re RM, Thats Why There Are Third! if that how we’ve been performing, we’d have been in a thug of war for Third position with them now ..

    • Davour
      February 8, 2016

      Who said anything about RM’s game “justifying” Barca’s performance? The difference is that we were clearly the better team, without making too much of an effort, and that we must live with these games for pragmatic purposes. RM’s game, on the other hand, was a struggle for them and certainly not by lack of effort or conserving energy, but because they could barely handle Granada, who stood up to them almost as equals. We have a plan, I believe, RM don’t. But our plan is not always beautiful.

      We all love Pep for what he did at Barca. But I have to admit, I don’t much like his approach these days. Just seems a bit arrogant, like he bought the myth about himself. But of course I know nothing, really, all media images.

      Great coach, still, of course. Might do wonders at Man C., a situation I think will suit him much better than his current. He will arrive at a team that lacks clear purpose, it seems – an object for renovation. Not a super team that just won everything. Just keep your hands off Ney, Pep.

    • February 9, 2016

      Friend, I did want to comment on your thoughts about Pep yesterday, but then missed. I cant agree with this arguement that what Pep would do with a lesser team. Isnt this in the same boat as, what would Messi do in a rainy day at Stoke.
      At the same time, we are forgetting the kind of pressure big coaches endure at big clubs like Barca, Madrid, Bayern and City. We, lay man, never experiences something like that and hence we never bother about it. But people who are closer always talk about this fact, pressure. A job at a big club is never going to be easy.

      Also, there are many great coaches, but Pep is definitely a bit above that level. This is the man who brought back the beauty aspect back into football, that there is more to football than just winning. I mean, every one – coach and players- wants to play like his team or play in his team. Every team tries to imbibe something from his philosophy. This doesnt happen to all great coaches. Even our RM coach is now echoing Pep’s philosophy. I was laughing out loud reading Zidane. Its only couple of seasons before, they were ridiculing possession and now.
      Fans, can look at things differently, Now that Pep would play against us, its normal for people to look against him. But, for me, we should never forget our past. I would always be grateful to him, and consider him amongst the most important milestones in the evolution of football, irrespective of what he is personally. Whose perfect in a personal world.
      He has already made it clear that, he will look for any Barca player, only if they are in the market. He is among the most elite of those in the great coach department.

    • Davour
      February 9, 2016

      Oh, I didn’t mean to suggest he must manage a lesser team to prove he is good, only that it would be interesting to see how his managing style would work with a team that perhaps are less adept at making use of short passes. Thought experiment only; I understand why he doesn’t. I would never deny the great things he did at Barca, but even though he has done well enough at Bayern, I don’t think that was the right club for him. At Barca he renovated or rearranged a system that did not work, and this he can do at Man C, too. That he seems a little full of himself does not diminish his talents – many stars suffer from this condition…

  14. Jim
    February 8, 2016

    From Barcastuff :
    Messi will tomorrow undergo a small operation to solve his kidney stone problem. He will rejoin training on Thursday. [sport]
    9:27 a.m. – 8 Feb 2016

    New kidney stones detected , operation (presumably to remove by ultrasound ? ) and he’s back in training in two days ??? It’s official, he’s not even from this galaxy ! Pain doesn’t even begin to cover it with these things.

  15. dl
    February 8, 2016

    Generally that means ultrasound to break one up. If it is small and they get it, it passes without much fanfare. If not, he’s in for rough ride.

  16. Tommy11
    February 9, 2016

    “It’s odd but it’s true: Barcelona are good
    in the dark, bad in the light.” That’s Sid Lowe’s conclusion on the Levante match. I find it quite funny, but can’t help but agree with him. We tend to struggle with the early kick-offs.

    “If you were in Lucho’s shoes, a record unbeaten streak in sight (a meaningless record if there are no trophies) or much needed rest for your team(which could be decisive in trophy hunt) which would you go for?”
    Note that Pep’s team got beat in a meaningless copa second leg after being drawn against arsenal that particular year, too many resemblances. Pep ditched the record, we lost but we won Liga and CL that year. I have not been able to decide, though I believe with d squad we have and the deplorable depths that Valencia find themselves, it’s feasible to rest the big boys and still avoid defeat. Being Lucho(or Pep) isn’t as easy as it looks.

    Anyone????

  17. luisthebeast
    February 9, 2016

    Valencia also will not play with a strong squad.They called many players from their b team.We can win with our second XI.I have a crazy idea for the summer IF we win again the treble.We can sell:Busi to City for 100m.Alves to China for 30m.Turan to China for 40m.Sandro to Spurs for 10m.Adriano and Douglas somewhere for 10m.Bartra for 20m.Thats the outs.Then we promote Samper to take Busi place,Buy two young CB,one RCB and one LCB,Buy Gaya from Valencia,take back Denis Suarez and buy a young FW like that great 18y old from Granada.So the outs will give us 210m and the ins will cost 100-120m. Give the rest to cover the renewals of Leo Ney Rakitic and pay some of the dept!!!!!

  18. luisthebeast
    February 9, 2016

    Btw i am not saying that Busi is not our best midfielder and the mastermind of our play.But if we must sacrifice a player who can give us big money,he is the only one who we can replace from b team with an great talent like Samper.Well that just thought for the case we will not have a sponsor and again IF we win everything.One transition season will be cool.There are players like Kaptoum Alena Lee Tarin Paik Palencia and others that next season maybe would help to create another La Masia great generation at first team slowly.

    • Jim
      February 9, 2016

      Interesting Luis, especially in the light of Busi’s comments which I read as basically “can we not play silly beggars on my renewal and make me the whopping offer I deserve quickly” ? And we should.

      I’m much, much more worried about Samper. Pep didn’t go for our established stars, he made a beeline for Thiago who he rated highly and who wasn’t getting enough ( from his viewpoint) playing time. The buyout playing time issue was just a bonus. Thiago was needed to implant his style on BM.

      What’s different about Samper ? Nobody can seriously think he’s not the next biggest thing to come out of all Masia. Better still from Pep’s point of view he’s at the one position crucial to Pep’s style ; playing out from the back and I already think there aren’t many better around at any level than him. It may take him another year to put a bit of bulk on but the only other thing he lacks is playing time with the top players – not like he’s gonna get tomorrow with Kaptoum and Rakitic in midfield. To me he just needs to reattune to the guile of top players in gaining a yard on him and do as Busi foes which is to get goal side quicker and eliminate the problem before it is one.

      To me, if I were Pep that would be almost my first stop. There’s your playmaker from the back sorted for the next ten years and with enough money left in your back pocket to go for your established top stars.

      He would still need a CB. Pique is beyond him I think ( and I’m not sure he ever warmed to him – cost us a lot when he left him out for a spell ) , Bartra probably not – my bet would be Marquinhos – and someone up front to play with Aguero. Make Silva a bona fide AM rather than the hybrid in and out he does at the moment . The last piece would be a wide man who can beat defenders. Not convinced on a Sterling and if he weren’t either that’d be a big money transfer . I could see him also bringing in someone like Payet from West Ham as the sort of ball playing chance creater he likes. As an outside bet I wouldn’t rule out a move for Rakitic who will imo be seeing a lot less game time if Turan can bed in well. There are also bound to be some he has in eye on from BM. I’ve said before, I’d be surprised if Thiago didn’t end up with him again, despite his protestations.

      Gonna be fascinating to see what happens, though. Will undoubtedly be a wholesale clear out. City is almost a blank canvas for Pep’s style. Hope we’re checking through all our contracts especially buyouts !

    • February 9, 2016

      The timing of Busquets comments, make it look like he is trying to get a better deal, and he really deserves it.
      It would be disastrous for us to loss Busquets, though.
      I didnt think at all about Samper and Pep, Jim. You have given me something to think about. I hope Samper doesnt leave. If he leaves, Pep would make him another Busi, within 2 seasons.

    • Davour
      February 9, 2016

      Interesting and scary. Hopefully, City are too concerned with immediate success to pick up Samper as a starter (and then why would he leave?). Apparently he is playing really well in B and I would be surprised if he is not promoted in the summer. SR will be needed at RB etc. next season, and it is obvious Busi needs a back-up that is not Masch.

      But to sell Busi? God no. He will rule that midfield for another 5 years, and is the key making MSN work. Not sure the PL would suit him, either, though he of course would do well enough. Let’s just hope that Guardiola & co will shop elsewhere. It would feel a little silly if he would keep coming back to his old club for players, and I don’t think he will.

  19. Davour
    February 10, 2016

    Happy to see the big dogs (and yellow-carded) will be rested today. This squad should still manage to avoid a 7-0 defeat… defence will be solid enough, and if Val are all in on scoring, we might very well steal a goal or two. Big responsibility on SR and Rakitic, and Vidal should show is ability!

    • February 10, 2016

      Yes, it looks really good that the first eleven is getting a mid week rest.

  20. horlahlehk
    February 10, 2016

    I’m sorry, buh ah had tu point it out…..
    Enrique traveled wit Rakitic buh left Turan at home….
    Um’ Rakitic needs rest compared to Turan, xo y leave why not rest Rakitic and take Turan!
    Observation!!!

    • ooga aga
      February 10, 2016

      I do not understand.

    • horlahlehk
      February 10, 2016

      I’m sorry, buh I had to point it out…..
      Enrique traveled with Rakitic but left Turan at home….
      Um’ Rakitic needs rest compared to Turan, so why not rest Rakitic and take Turan!
      Observation!!!
      Cos, obviously Rakitic has more minutes in his legs than Turan
      He(Rakitic) ought to have been rested!

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