Dani Alves is life, even as life must, someday, end

The ball floated and skittered along the pitch, a playing surface that was deliberately dry and unkempt in the hope of harrying the unreasonable guests.

In the moment that the ball slowed in a bit of cabbage patch la pausa, a streak came hurtling in to bend a boot round the ball just before it crossed the end line, lacing in a perfect cross to a striker who was accustomed to No. 6 performing the extraordinary, who made the run that few other attackers in the game would make.

Goal!

As the reports emerge of Dani Alves’ possible departure to Juventus, we should review what we know about the situation: nothing. Nothing at all. Why? Because the summer transfer window is people who don’t know anything, riling up people who know even less. “Juventus sources say,” “FC Barcelona sources deny.”

Club sources have allegedly confirmed that Alves has a clause in his contract that allows him to leave on a free, if activated before a certain date. Allegedly. Allegedly, Adriano and Douglas were overheard saying to Alves, “See you next year.” Allegedly. Allegedly, Mascherano will be leaving for Juventus with Alves, as he feels unappreciated by anyone except his teammates and coaches. Allegedly.

But here is what else we know: Dani Alves is life. As we roll through our existences, secure in precious little except that at some point in our futures existence will end, we hesitate, we pause, we don’t do things that we want to do, or halfass things we do that we said we would do, and not halfass. That isn’t living life, that’s playing at it. Dani Alves is the life that we want, the unreserved, full-bore zeal that makes everyone say, “Y’all!”

A haircut reminiscent of a pile of dog poo? Sure. Velvet pants with a red fedora? Okay. A video that mimics his girlfriend (now wife) telling him after a difficult match that it’s just a game? You betcha. Financing hepatitis treatments, spider crawling along a bus ceiling, mimicry and always, always laughter.

Dani Alves lives life as he plays football, like it’s all a game. We always speak of those people who who rocket along with an enviable joie de vivre, in almost awed tones. We wish we could do that, embody “Wheeee!” It’s not only admirable, but it allows us all to lay on wherever existence is going to end for us, without a shard of regret.

Dani Alves never stops on the football pitch. He runs, he harries, he dives, he exaggerates, he makes great plays and stupid plays, he crosses balls to the fans in the cheap seats, then he puts one right on someone’s boot or noggin. Life is successes and glorious failures, but you can’t have one without the other. Dani Alves understands that, so he doesn’t give two shits when people declare him over, make jokes about his crosses going to the moon, boot-assisted rockets to nowhere. He doesn’t care because he’s too busy living life, skipping and capering about with a joy that is infectious.

Marc-Andre Ter Stegen is dour, the only serious face when the world is cracking up. In a recent training session, at the goad of Dani Alves, Ter Stegen was … well … silly. Goofy face, oddball gesture. There was a movie, released in the 1970s, called “What’s So Bad About Feeling Good?” The premise was that there was this bird that had a disease, and the symptoms were that you would be infected with happiness. Alves is that bird, and it’s glorious.

You don’t have to be a fan of him to understand what he does for the game, how he lives it, plays it and makes it a metaphor for life, successes and failures, mercurial moments strung together in sequences that make us laugh, shrug, cry and exult. He never stops on the pitch, and he never stops living life. Dani Alves is a beautiful human being, whatever anyone thinks about his footballing talents and the state of his career.

Sid Lowe of the Guardian called him a footballing Sonic the Hedgehog, but really, we can extend that definition past football. Dani Alves is life, plain and simple. And the saddest thing about life is that it has to end.

Alves has been gone before. A couple of years ago, he was “gone” to Paris St.-Germain, before calling an exultant presser to do nothing more than be Dani Alves. At the recent Camp Nou celebration, a player who always wears his heart on his sleeve went bare-armed. He talked about Xavi and what the No. 6 meant to him, he issued a valedictory for the Barça teams that he graced, he laughed and cried, and everyone thought it was lovely. The club’s official site labeled the video of his speech “a final message.”

But nobody thought that it might mean farewell, because who wants life to end? Rumors are rumors, until they are fact. Alves might be pranking us all, might be laughing in that shark-faced, irrepressible way that makes the joke on you, but you don’t mind a bit. He might be bounding up and down the right side of the pitch for Barça next season, being life, the lively embodiment of doing everything to the fullest.

What if he isn’t? What if the rumors are true, and he is gone to Juventus on the rumored three-year contract that would provide not only a big payday, but the security that he wasn’t going to get from the club with which he became part of history, of glory and triumph. That’s okay, because it has to be. No player should be where he doesn’t want to be, and players come and go, even capricious beings who bound through life like a Greek god of mirth.

The world in which Alves lives has changed, even as his influence was outsized in the phenomenal closing run of Barça. The key goals in the Copa final came from the left. The attack has shifted to the left, with Neymar and Alba. Now that Messi has slid back, the magical back-and-forths of he and Alves are greatly diminished as Alves reverts to something more of a “normal” right back, rather than Harpo Marx to Messi’s Groucho, a two-headed fun machine.

As he bounds up and back, it’s clear that the step is gone. The player that used to body up on attackers, possessed of the quickness that enabled him to control, outthink and dispossess, now plays off opponents, who are allowed to receive passes. Alves evaluates and makes plays, or not. His game has changed along with the demands of his position. Alves is glorious, but the question is, for those churlish enough to ask it, is he still essential?

Football moves on, players move on. Sergi Roberto will probably become the right back. He won’t be Alves in the sense that he won’t be life. The team will lose something important to its nature, that being that laughs and reminds everyone that it’s a game, that he and his teammates are millionaires scampering about on a golf course, clad in shorts and doing something they would do for free.

The joy of Alves is such that even as his quality is still inarguable, the game moving on means that the joyless external forces that rip at life, rip at Barça’s life. This summer, the team will have to dump some salaries. Some of us speculated previously that Alves and Mascherano would be on that short list, bodies made expendable by the maturation process of a team. If Alves was life, Mascherano was soul, the grit that abrades opponent opportunity, that comes steaming in when Alba is caught up the pitch and Pique is out of position, hoofing a ball away or making a last-ditch tackle.

Mascherano is fire. But like Alves, he is a potential victim of a team growing up. Pique has assumed a leadership role on the defense, and in many ways Jefecito can move on, knowing that his defense is in good hands. Maybe. Rumors are that he is off to Juventus, that personal terms have been agreed and now the clubs must haggle out the appropriate weight of a pound of flesh.

So many say that Mascherano isn’t a CB, and it’s true. He’s no more a CB than Carles Puyol was. He’s a wannabe superhero, like Puyol, with a cape and flashy nickname such as The Bullet. He puts out fires, comes to the rescue time and time again, greeted by silence until he errs, when we are reminded once again by his many detractors that he isn’t a CB. He isn’t a CB just as Alves isn’t an RB.

Both are players whose roles adapted to be part of a team that adapted football. High lines, charging forward, centerbacks lacing in passes from just outside the opposition box, right backs that fly about like wingers. The perception of Alves and Mascherano by too many is the consequence of thinking about football in the droll traditional way, of bending perception of an unconventional team to suit preconceived notions.

“Thiago Silva would have been in better position.” Maybe. But probably not, because Silva is a CB. Mascherano is a Barça CB. There is a difference, and it is a significant one.

Yet, those two players, Alves and Mascherano, life and fire, might be expendable because after winning a treble and then a double, the team has to start thinking about the future, about retooling in a way that allows the success to continue, without a pair of players who are 31 and 33 years old. Football, like time, moves on, and it takes — talent, pace, quickness, ability to respond physically to a tactical mind that is still sharp. Plays made easily become last-ditch challenges or cards. Second by second, we are no longer what we were. Life doesn’t slip away in big chunks, it slips away in wasted seconds, in hesitation, wishes and retrospect.

Barça has a pair of players, both the subject of rumor, who are not at all interested in hesitation, wishes and retrospect. One tore his anus making a play, the other runs as fast in the 90th minute as he does in the first. Both are irreplaceable but must, eventually, be replaced, because football is indeed life. And in ways that are often unspeakably sad, life must go on.

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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.

40 Comments

  1. raj
    May 25, 2016

    Wow. You just made my morning awesome Kxevin. Thanks.

    This blog is life too, just as much as Dani, and it is genuine like Masche. This club is awesome now, but it may or may not be – once this team is gone (what is “this team” anyways? the one which had Valdes, or the one which had Xavi, or the one with Messi?)
    But what I do know is that I will come back and follow this blog years later, even when I may not follow the club anymore.

  2. Gogah
    May 25, 2016

    Life, has meant that I dont visit or write here anymore, but a newsNow link redirected me here – a familiar place i used to frequent long ago.

    Dani alves and mascherano are my favorite players on the team and have been so right from the moment they joined and deemed essential by the numerous managers over the past 7 years.

    The iniestas and the messis are otherwordly and worthy of a kind of veneration and admiration, but they don’t command the kind of pure human fandom (atleast from me) and love as folks like puyol, sMasche and Dani do.

    In Barcelona, I had the fortune of observing Dani from a very close distance on more than one occasion. Like you say he is all love and all life. One time in a club, Neymar was right behind him as he walked past me and I offered my hand to Dani saying “You’re the man Dani”, to which he responded with his trademark laughter, grabbed my hand and hugged me, muttering something to the likes of ” you look good man”.

    Here was a celebrity hugging a fan where a handshake was offered. Complimenting him when none was required or even expected. And for me, this typifies him, just as much as a no look cross with his outside boot.

    Dani Alves = Overflow.

    I always dreaded the time when he would have to leave. And it appears that the time has come. But just like the years before, I will nurse a slight hope that he will stay.

    Of course I do not have a personal anecdote such as the one above to share about mascherano. But it’s safe to say that to fill a void left by a colossus and legend in puyol in terms of heart and sporting qualities is not easy. And mascherano has done that admirably. He provides the essential steel to the excess silk that adorns barca. If the rumours are indeed true that these two guys are leaving, then Barca just got a lot weaker.

    • May 26, 2016

      Wow, you’re lucky to have met the man.
      Overflowing exhuberance aside, plainly put, the man is a winner.
      31 trophies, the winningest brazilian EVER.
      An argument could be made for him playing a crucial part in barca’s winningest period as opposed to whether he is the winningest player because of Barca. Cos lets face it, the guy had won double digit trophies even before he came to barca.

      A stat i read recently said, Alves has WON 22 OUT OF 26 FINALS!
      that is a truly staggering statistic. He has owned matches. He has owned Madrid. He has owned Ronaldo. He has owned Barcelona. Really.

      I also love the casual way in which he took on abidal’s 22 jersey number and xavi’s #6. Xavi’s number should have been a daunting number for any one to take.

      Not for Dani.

      It was Easy for him.
      A thing of play. And Natural.

      And that’s what I love about him.
      So dani… STAY, GODAMIT!

  3. TITO
    May 26, 2016

    If that’s the case, and they are both leaving, and with them, as suspected, Bartra, Adriano, Duoglas and Verm, it leaves us with a lot of holes in the defense.
    Pique, Mathieu (suppose it will be his last season with us), Alba, Vidal (if he stays) and occasionally SR. Since i cannot see a homegrown product to feel the gaps, that means that we are on the market for defenders, quite few of them, and the quality most not drop.
    If the rumors are true and all of this happens, it’s going to be an interesting summer.

  4. May 26, 2016

    Gogah, thanks for sharing that Alves story. Somehow that doesn’t surprise me.

    Latest is, on Alves: Player’s entourage says he fully plans to activate his option year with Barça. His agent says there have been contacts, but that there are no offers, as in zero. Juventus pres says nothing on.

    Cue that shark grin mentioned above …

  5. Davour
    May 26, 2016

    Well, if he stays that’s fine, though I think it might be time to move on. Hopefully, there will at least be a transition to another RB (but who knows, Dani might be too good this year, too!) – SR at this point seem the best alternative, really (though not a finished product), but he is also the primary sub for Busi. Perhaps, enter Samper?

    Came across a best-of-video-2016 of Dani’s companion, Leo. Still amazes me, during a year when he has perhaps dropped in level compared to last year, that he can produce so many magical moments. His talent is (as you know) incredibly diverse, as this video’s categories make clear. https://youtu.be/6rYijhBwq4Q

  6. georgjorge
    May 26, 2016

    That was as great an appraisal of Dani Alves as I have ever read. Even as I think his role on the pitch isn’t irreplaceable anymore, it might be true that his attitude to the game (and indeed to life, as you say) is.

    My wish list for next season:
    – Iniesta to continue confusing hot new midfielders and defenders almost half his age with his footwork
    – Sergi Roberto to gain in confidence and play a lot, preferably in midfield
    – Sergi Samper to be promoted
    – Neymar to combine his incredible technical skills with the decision making from the treble season and show the world again how good he really is
    – RM to continue their “revolving door” policy of hiring coaches

  7. May 26, 2016

    Towards the end of last season, there were some cues from Alves that he might leave,, but not this season. I think he will continue.
    With Masche though, I think he is the first person to acknowledge that he is not playing in his best position, and is making mistakes in the CB position. Just look at him during those celebrations, its like he knew he made an error, which could have cost the team, but somehow the team managed. If Masche leaves, I think, it would be only to get back to his normal position where he wont commit errors, simply because he doesnt have that CB nack.
    I personally do not want Masche to leave next season. For me, both of them will stay for one more season.

  8. luisthebeast
    May 26, 2016

    The team needs a rebuilding.After a treble and a double it s the perfect time.We must get rid of players 30+ and Douglas Vermaelen.New blood.I have a feeling Pogba is coming.Just a feeling.And it would be the upgrade our midfield need bad.This is a crucial summer.Iniesta is 32 Busi 28.The building of our new midfield must start now.I hope the club will do the best.

  9. xris
    May 27, 2016

    thanks for this piece, kxevin.
    loved it.
    now let’s forget about the rumours and calmly wait for a new season 🙂

  10. Jim
    May 27, 2016

    Yeah, Kxevin, a good read and it does capture Alves. He is genuinely mental ! However, his technical skills ( crossing a ball apart ) are pretty awesome and he has contributed a lot to our success. It is probably time for him to go, if only to give us some salary cash to play around with. I wouldn’t believe a thing he or his advisors say at the moment though because like all Brazilians he is no fool when it comes to remuneration for his services and he may just be looking for a sweetener to stay for another season.

    I’m not in a hurry to lose Masche either, salary apart. With the outgoings at that position ( I’m thinking TV and Bartra) we don’t have a lot of cover, even if we buy someone in ( not Stones, please ). For me, we make Mathieu number one choice for a season, buy in a youngish CB ( tall, fast but above all a CB who can defend properly) and let him learn our ways for a while with Copa, easy Liga game action and subbing on to keep him happy. Masche, if he were content to do it, would be the main sub and might have enough to keep him happy. If Samper proved not to be up to the job we could even, perish the thought, play Masche in his best position occasionally.

    Promote Samper – anyone doubting him beware of jumping into print because this guy has all the skills, one of the very few coming up who can carry on our passing game, and has been bulking up a bit – and we should have a pretty stacked midfield. For me, this will be the most interesting decision of the close season. LE saw him pass BL off the park ( after a shaky first ten minutes) yet obviously thought he wasn’t ready. He’s brought in Rafinha, Turan, Vidal, Rakitic and given first team time to Gumbau, Munir and Sandro, none of which, for me, has been an undiluted success. Samper has quietly accepted it and got on with leading the B team. I still reckon LE weighs physicality too heavily in his equations so I’ll be interested to see which way he goes. Wouldn’t surprise me if he put him out on loan which would be of no use at all. A quick reminder of his passing, making himself available and calmness under pressure in what was his what, second / third first team appearance in the CL away from home against a team which had to win, with a largely second string selection https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Xoj8TKoZoyI

    Sorry, Luis, but if we buy Pogba ( great player though he is and I’m sure he’d be an LE type of player) for me that’ll be one of the worst decisions we have made in years. I’m not sure how his game fits ours, he’s no way worth €90m and his salary would be astronomical. We need to take every chance to use our young talent and his arrival would probably see the departure of Rafinha and maybe Rakitic. If we add Suarez to that mix up front we have four or five first team salaries which don’t break the bank allowing us to accommodate the ridiculous salaries we’re gonna have to offer Pique, Busi, Neymar, Messi, Suarez and Ini ( who will, rightly, be looking for a last payday over the next couple of years.

    Enough to keep us debating over the next couple of months ? Still hoping to reschedule a holiday break to nip over to Dublin to see the team . Anyone work out if the South Americans be there ?

  11. TITO
    May 27, 2016

    Busi extended his contract.
    Hopefully, the first of the many good news this summer.

    • Jim
      May 27, 2016

      Yup, Tito. So important to us. If Samper proves to be any use at DM I still harbour hopes of seeing Busi move forward if occasion demanded it to play with Iniesta. Now that’d be a threesome you’d struggle to see a lot of the ball against.

  12. luisthebeast
    May 27, 2016

    Mathieu to be the starter CB?I am sorry Jim but for me future is important.We are full of trophies and we must build a new squad.I want a world class CB and a young one like Sanchez.19y old with great potentials.Offcourse it s difficult because he dont want to play for Barca B.But we must buy him.You pay 4-5m now and u can save 50m in the future.About Pogba yep 90m and a big salary.But he will play for next 7-8 years and he is the best young midfielder.What i want this summer:2 CB,LB,1DM,Pogba and a young number 9.And DSuarez.Out:Vermaelen Douglas Adriano Bartra Sandro.

    • ciaran
      May 28, 2016

      Luis, everyone is entitled to their opinion but what are you talking about?
      Firstly you say that you want a world class centre back but suggest that Sanchez is that player even though no one knows who he is and even our scouts think he’s only good enough for Barca B.
      You imply that spending 4-5m will save us from having to spend €50m on him when even if he became the best Colombian in history he wouldn’t be good enough to play for us.
      The last player we signed for that price with hope that he’d be value was Douglas and we all know how that turned out.
      Then you do a U turn and spend nearly double that amount on Pogba, not that I have a problem with his potential signing,but surely there’s some young in south America that we could sign for €4-5m and save €85m?
      Why don’t we just build the future around Munir and sell Luis Suarez?

    • Jim
      May 28, 2016

      Luis, I don’t think there’s a 19 yr old in the world capable of playing CB at the top level, far less at Barcelona which is an extra degree of difficulty. Look at the slew of names suggested here last year as being ready. Most of them have had a torrid season. I’ll hold my hand up to recommending Marquinhos who has had trouble getting a game at CB for PSG.

      You add this to the fact that most of the press and many fans have this season down as being only a marginally successful one and LE still needs success next year, particularly in the CL. He can’t afford to depend on a youngster in that area of the team when I think we’re all agreed it takes anyone coming to Barca a season to adapt. Get it wrong at CB and you’re probably a goal down. I’d have to keep my eyes firmly shut if we went into the CL with any 19 yr old at CB. If on the other hand you have a CB pairing which knows what it’s doing you can afford some experimentation elsewhere. Pundits often talk about getting the spine of the team right and it’s pretty accurate. Do you have a 19 yr old in mind ?

      I’ve not seen enough of Pogba to make any kind of definitive statement on him but what I have seen doesn’t lead me to believe he’d thrive in a team which looks to play possession football under pressure. There’ll likely be a crazy bidding war for him and I’m just not convinced he’s that good, even leaving aside the fact that we don’t have that amount of money to spend on anyone.

      We’re gonna have to live with three or four lesser salaries in our first team squad. For me, Mathieu, Samper, D Suarez are all worth a go at that price. Add a cheaper young CB at the price you mention, fine but not to come straight into the team or he’ll be out and suffering a crisis of confidence by October. Let him sit for a while and watch Pique, but more importantly, watch Mathieu to see how he plays alongside Pique. They dovetail so well.

  13. May 28, 2016

    So much of nonsensical transfer talk.

    For me there is only one sure fire guy out there who can make this team better.

    No, not pogba. Not gameiro. Not laporte.

    David effin Alaba.

    But I hear no links and no rumours. If we are gonna be wishing for stuff I would not look any further than Alaba. Can pitch in at LB, but a great center back too. And what a shot he has on that left foot

    For me he reminds me so much of abidal. Of course he has some way tongonbefire he can reach King abidals defensive standards but he certainly has everything to get there. Sooner than Eric too it must be said.

    I long dreamt of hummels but he is going to Bayern and perhaps he and pique might not have made the best combo.

    If only mascherano was 2 inches taller and 6 years younger.

  14. May 28, 2016

    Me too, I love Alaba. I remember suggesting him, many years before in this space.

    And again, please NO Pogba. If we really need a young midfielder from outside La Masia, the only person who, I think, can help us keep possession is Verratti.

    Am so tensed about tonights game. I cant accept anything else than an Atletico victory.

  15. May 28, 2016

    Surely this can NOT end this way for Atleti after the campaign that they have had?

    • georgjorge
      May 28, 2016

      It didn’t yet ; )

      Second half, RM playing defense as if they were a Mourinho team against Barca. And Ramos luckily escapes a straight red in extra time.

      I fear a replay of two years ago, with Atleti not having much energy left after 90 minutes. Though maybe Carrasco will outdribble their entire defense and score, he is the one that seems capable of that.

  16. georgjorge
    May 28, 2016

    Well, fuck.

  17. G6O
    May 28, 2016

    How much luck can one team have…

    A sad sad day

  18. May 28, 2016

    YES WE KNOW LIFE IS UNFAIR.
    BUT THIS GAME DISGUSTS ME.
    LIFE DISGUSTS ME.
    WHAT IS THE POINT OF ALL THIS?

    WHO SCRIPTED SUCH PUKE WORTHY NONSENSE?
    WHAT IS THIS NARRATIVE SUPPOSED TO MEAN?
    WHY SHOULD ATLETI HAVE PUT IN SUCH A MAGNIFICENT EFFORT THROUGHOUT THE CAMPAIGN TO END UP LIKE THIS?
    WHY DOES GABI DESERVE THIS?
    WHY DID ATLETI HAVE TO ESCAPE BY A WHISKER AGAINST PSV?
    WHY DID THEY HAVE TO BEAT THE WORLD CHAMPIONS BARCA ADMIRABLY?
    WHY DID THEY HAVE TO BEAT BAYERN IN A MORE IMPRESSIVE FASHION?
    WHY DO MADRID PUT IN SUCH CRAP PERFORMANCES AGAINST ROMA, WOLFSBURG AND MAN CITY AND EVEN IN THE FINAL AGAINST ATLETI AND END UP IN VICTORY?
    WHY DO THEY HAVE TO GET A LUCKY OFFSIDE GOAL AWARDED BUT EVERYONE ELSE HAVE TO WORK THEIR BUTT OFF?

    WE KNOW THE TRUTH.
    WE KNOW WHO THE BEST TEAMS ARE.
    YET, HISTORY WILL SHOW THAT MADRID WIN THESE TWO CLs in 3 YEARS.
    WHEN THEY HAVE BEEN FAR FROM EVEN THE TOP 4 BEST TEAMS.

    I CALL BS,
    I AM DONE WITH THESE REPEATEDLY DISGUSTING NARRATIVES.
    I AM DONE WITH FOOTBALL.
    WHY DO I WASTE MY LIFE SUPPORTING TEAMS, WATCHING MATCHES WHEN I HAVE A LIFE TO IMPROVE?
    WHY DO I WASTE MY TIME ON THESE DISGUSTING RESULTS?

    IF I, A BARCA FAN CAN FEEL SUCH EMOTIONS, HOW SHOULD GABI FEEL?
    HOW SHOULD SIMEONE FEEL?

    BUT ITS ALL OK, MADRID WIN THEIR 89000TH EUROPEAN CUP,
    RONALDO WILL GO BACK HOME FEELING LIKE THE BEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD AND WILL HAVE HIS C**K SUCKED BY SOME SUPERMODEL.

  19. Davour
    May 28, 2016

    And just like that, RM’s season is a success, better than Barca’s in most people’s eyes, because who cares about details? And you are almost always punished; Barca for nor scoring that third goal against AM, and AM for not taking down an exhausted RM in over-time. And CR got his hero-narrative that will bring him another golden ball, I’m sure. Since, again, specifics and nuance is unimportant.

    Well, some assholes are just lucky.

    • Jim
      May 28, 2016

      Wow. Lot of feeling in here tonight. Tbh, I detest both these teams and their methods so I don’t care which wins other than it saves RM’s season which I could do without.

      However, all you can do is beat whoever is in front of you. “Deserved” doesn’t really count in football. They did win, we didn’t. Ive rewatched our two games against Atleti in the last week to see what happened now that I’m not so close to it. We just didn’t play well enough and they got their goals too easily.

      We won the league and for me that’s always objective number one and the hardest to win. Despite that tonight still hurt All we can do is use this hurt and start building towards next year, make sure we have a decent enough squad to allow rotation without dropping too much quality and make the Copa defensive display the norm. We know goals will come at the other end.

      In other news, shame for Mathieu and Rafinha that injuries look like ruining their summer. Especially, Mathieu who gambled with his health to play in the Euros. That’s dedication. Hope he uses the time to come back fitter and stronger. Ditching the fags would be a start.

      And it appears Jose has a special secret folder containing all his plans for the summer which he says will take Man U back to the top. This next EPL is gonna be a blast !

    • Davour
      May 29, 2016

      Hehe, yes, I can’t help to be bothered by Cristiano getting to play the hero after a weak game! And this morning the local paper announced (freely translated): Ronaldo fires home the CL for Real! It just the thing you mentioned, Jim, that this saves the season for them, adding to their rather smug Zidane rhetoric. Though of course one must hand it to the fellow, he did turn things around – probably by not being as over-zelous in terms of tactics as Rafa, and using his ethos to make the players want to perform. That is still worth credit. It is different in many ways, but I still can’t help to think that RM’s season looks a bit like our last year, when LE very well could have left around the turn of the season, but instead – prompted by Xavi et al – found a new approach. I guess Rafa did not have a Xavi to aid him…

      Our season is all in all the better, still. And my issue is just with the simplification of narratives that focus on goals and easy narratives, rather than understanding the game. But hey, that’s the way media do it in most department these days. Who has the time!

      Now, hoping for an entertaining Euro and Copa – would be nice with Spain/ Argentina coming out on top!

  20. luisthebeast
    May 28, 2016

    Ciaran and Jim i said 2CB!A world class and a younger!Sanchez is for the future!Well after the final i want to laugh to people who dare to compare MSN with BBC!Benzema is such a waste in crucial games and against tight defense!Against us he only cause problems in counterattacks!I hope he stays there!Bale was good but not at all a 100m player!And the other one….well yeah!If u put our MSN to the rest of madrid team well they can score 6-7 every game!Why?Because madrid game plan is simplest than ours!Marcelo attacking power and Modric!But offcourse they were lucky with the draws and they found again in a final a team without big team mentality!Like 2014 2002 2000!Thats football!Well our season was great and lets go to next!

  21. luisthebeast
    May 28, 2016

    And speaking about Uefalona winning 2 CL finals with offside goals is not a big deal!Right??

  22. May 29, 2016

    This is the last time I will rant about this, but for the sake of a meaningful argument, will also try to conclude said rant with some tangible steps that can be taken to make the game better.

    http://www.barcelonafootballblog.com/25316/taxis-and-trophies-barcelona-sevilla-copa-del-rey-final-preview/

    this was a recent post here in bFb and the second comment of mine, pretty much nailed it in terms of prediction / fear and the narrative we could expect from the CL finale. How true it turned out to be..

    I said that we would be subjected to some despicable behavior by Pepe.

    We were.

    I said that Ronaldo will have a shite game but channel his Penaldo avatar to emerge as the hero.

    He did.

    I said that Ramos would probably head in some scrappy goal from a set piece instead of a well worked goal from open play.

    He did.
    And to add salt to injury, not only was the goal “beautiful” it was also “Legal” and “onside”.

    TO CONCLUDE…
    How long are we going to let illegal goals count and affect outcomes of big stakes matches and legal goals disallowed? The boradcast can show stupid goal line technology in instances where it i s not even warranted, but key decisions are not aided by technology assistance.
    How long will it take? Is it going to really impede the flow of the game any more than the despicable efforts players and teams take to disrupt the flow of the game and waste time.
    At the most, video replays will take 10 seconds.
    Can’t that be incorporated to ensure a fair game?
    So that teams can win through merit?
    will it not make the game better?

    How long is this shit going to continue?

  23. rg23
    May 29, 2016

    I know it’s disappointing for cules to see RM take down the CL. But just because you barely beat Roma, Wolfsburg, Man City and then scrape by Atleti on penalties doesn’t make you the best team in Europe. They had the easiest path to CL victory in history. They are not even the best team in Spain, let alone Europe.

    Obviously no one will remember the details on how they won it, but I’ll leave you this: RM have won 5 European titles in the champions league era. Not a single one of them came with a la liga title! That’s right, they have never been crowned European and Spanish champions at the same time. They are just not that good, so all they can do is focus on a single glamorous trophy and the throw the league away. It takes a special kind of team to win a tough domestic league over 38 games AND a European trophy as well and for all their history, they have never achieved that.

    That special team is what we have., The team we support also has won 5 European titles and we have ALWAYS won the Spanish liga to go along with it.
    3 of them were liga and CL doubles and the other 2 were historic trebles. Now THAT is how describe being the best team in the world. As Dani Alves said, “the rest is just **#%*?*#*#%*!
    #ProudCule

  24. TITO
    May 29, 2016

    How bad is Messi’s injury, any news on that? Is he missing Copa?

    • May 31, 2016

      No. But he is day-to-day, questionable for the first match, as he has to also fly back to Spain to testify in his tax case.

  25. May 31, 2016

    Lots of grumbles about RM winning CL. Can’t say that I am all that arsed about that. I would have loved their draw through the knockouts, frankly. Illegal goal or not, if Griezmann hits his penalty, it’s a moot point. Atleti did what they needed against us, didn’t against RM. And that’s that. Past a certain point, culers start to sound like poor losers, which doesn’t suit us.

    Meanwhile, Flo Flo is bleating about not being able to win the Liga. Why? He won’t say it, but we know why: Barça is too damn good. That makes me happy.

    • Davour
      June 1, 2016

      Sure, there is immediate, emotional post-game disappointment, and then later, analysis. To me RM were the better team for large parts of the game, but Atleti had them during overtime and didn’t go for it. Really, that’s my main disappointment (on top of, you know, they did it to us, why not them… that kind of childish sense of unfairness!). Surely this relates to our addiction to winning. I stumbled across another New Yorker-article on basketball (on Curry), and found the number of parallells to Barca intriguing. Like this comment on the Warriors’ first loss in ages:

      “When we are given something good, we want something great. When we are given something great, we want something impossible. Not only did we want the Warriors to surpass seventy-two wins, we wanted them never to lose again. We wanted to defy gravity, never to come down.”

      Does this not describe how many culers felt, despite themselves at times? I would think so.

      Article link: http://www.newyorker.com/news/sporting-scene/steph-curry-and-the-warriors-astonishing-season?mbid=nl_160531_Daily&CNDID=15404509&spMailingID=8994217&spUserID=MTA5MjM5ODY3OTgxS0&spJobID=922985909&spReportId=OTIyOTg1OTA5S0

    • Davour
      June 1, 2016

      And quotes like these, do they remind you of anyone?

      “Knowing the move was coming didn’t give anyone the ability to stop it.”

      And

      “The current iteration of the team comprises a nearly flawless assembly of talent. Curry’s backcourt companion, Klay Thompson, is himself one of the greatest pure shooters in the league—last year, he scored a historic thirty-seven points in a single quarter, and he would hold the record for the most three-pointers made in a season if it weren’t for Curry. These quick and fluid guards are balanced by the hard-boiled forward Draymond Green, whose blue-collar hustle and sometimes over-the-line comportment—along with his ball handling and passing—make him the team’s heartbeat. The center, Andrew Bogut, has uncommonly broad court vision for a man his size and he, too, is capable of astonishing passes. Then there is Andre Iguodala… whose long-limbed athleticism and quick defensive decision-making allowed him to slow down LeBron James during the 2015 Finals.”

      Only Piqué missing!

  26. horlahlehk
    June 1, 2016

    IMO…we should have saved the money from mathieu and vermalean and use it on laporte….
    He costs 50million now and he would still need to adapt to our style of play…which he should have done last season and now mascherano is leavin….
    Arriverderci Masche nd Alves

  27. Jim
    June 1, 2016

    Is he worth that ? Haven’t really heard much about him to warrant that sort of money. As you say any new signing for that position would have a steep learning curve ahead of them. And on that note . . .

    From Barcastuff: Javier Mascherano (31) could hand the club the offers he got from other clubs, among which Juventus, if he doesn’t get a payrise soon. [md]

    Now leaving aside my feelings on Masche the CB which are well known, he turns 32 next week, he’s not quick, he’s not tall ( I think we can agree on those ) and he’s under contract till he’s 34. He’s also currently earning the same as Pique and he wants more ? He’s already earning £40000 a WEEK more than Mathieu and we’ll probably have to stump up for a new CB at a crazy price plus crazy salary anyway as neither are getting younger. Does he have a buyout ? I know LE wouldnt go for this but I’ll be really interested just how hardball the club plays with the coach this summer. I reckon we could see some friction there. We actually have some decent low cost options which we are gonna need to use as money becomes tight. Thoughts ?

    • ciaran
      June 2, 2016

      I understand both positions really, for Masch he could probably earn more money elsewhere and from the club’s point of view he’s already earning plenty.
      I wouldn’t like to lose him per se but I don’t exactly have a problem with selling him. I certainly wouldn’t be giving him a new contract considering his age and more important needs of the squad.

      I’m not sure about Laporte as a replacement for him. He is definitely not a top tier defender just yet and has shown ZERO interest in coming so I would look elsewhere. The other big name mentioned is Marquinhos and I have even less interest in him arriving. In a few seasons in France he hasn’t managed to displace the terrible David Luiz nor the even worse Alex before that. Doesn’t exactly say much for his quality and is not much of an upgrade on Masch in terms of physicality.

      The club needs to make a decision on Dani Alves and Masch in order to move on with our summer’s planning. I reckon we’re in for another summer chasing an ex Masia Arsenal player.

    • TITO
      June 2, 2016

      And still, a sum of 40 mill euros is mentioned about him (Marquinhos) which is crazy, unless they see something that we can’t, which reminds me about Douglas case. Weird.
      Alves is already gone, just the deal needs to be official, Masch is still around. But, if the story is accurate and he wants a better payment while he is on the same pay roll sheet with Pique then IMO he should be shown the door regardless all the goods from him..
      Was wondering how much of transfer money we’ll have this summer.
      Bartra, Verm, Masch, Adriano…who else can leave and we actually receive some money for them? You can add here the deal with Nike and eventually a sponsor name in the meantime and i’m sure we will have enough for a couple of good players.
      Our midfield with Iniesta, Arda, Busi, Rakitic, Rafinha and Samper is pretty much filled. We need couple of defenders and good solid forward who will not mind to seat a lot on the bench.
      I wont mind Blind in our team, especially Verratti if we do chose to go for another MF, even Laporte cause he knows the league. I see some Sevilla players are linked, and considering the fact that we always end up with excellent purchases from them i’m certain that we wont do wrong if we decide to buy there.
      As for a forward, i would love to see someone like Larsson in our house, talent vise and personality.

  28. TITO
    June 2, 2016

    Oh, and i forgot Denis Suarez. So forget about Verratti 🙂

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