And so it begins.

New season, new fixture list. Cue the conspiracy theories. Here are some noteworthy (or cringeworthy) things if you’re one of the tinfoil hat brigade:

Matches after a midweek Champions League fixture, aka dooom!  Leganés (A), Celta (A), Valencia (A), Sevilla (A), La Real (A), Osasuna (A)

Note that the home Classic is right after the away trip to La Anoeta, aka doooooooommmm! (and destruction)

People can talk all they like about the mythical Hlebruary, but April is a brutal month of fixtures. A deep squad is going to be more essential than ever for Barça. Here’s the full season list:

August
21 Betis
28 Athletic Club (a)

September
11 Alaves
19 Leganes (a)
21 Atleti
25 Sporting (a)

October
2 Celta (a)
16 Depor
23 Valencia (a)
30 Granada

November
6 Sevilla (a)
20 Malaga
27 La Real (a)

December
4 RM
11 Osasuna (a)
18 Espanyol

January
8 Villarreal (a)
15 Las Palmas
22 Eibar
29 Betis (a)

February
5 Athletic
12 Alaves (a)
19 Leganes
26 Atleti (a)

March
1 Gijon
5 Celta
12 Depor (a)
19 Valencia

April
2 Granada (a)
5 Sevilla
9 Malaga (a)
16 La Real
23 RM (a)
26 Osasuna
30 Espanyol

May
7 Villarreal
14 Las Palmas (a)
21 Eibar

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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.

67 Comments

  1. July 15, 2016

    I think we will pull through. Last season’s schedule was a bit tougher (that’s what I think) and we didn’t really have much rotational options. Our squad depth for the season is now encouraging and I believe we’ll win it again. Visca Barça!!

    Check my blog: http://www.barcalens.com

  2. Chiu
    July 15, 2016

    and with Messi doesnt need to think about anything but Barca only, our chance to rule la liga and CL is promising. I wish he would explode next season, give all his energy for us.

  3. mr.undercover
    July 16, 2016

    Yes apparently! But the away schedules before the classico gives me chills. The only good thing is that we will play most the tough game away first then they return to the camp nou bar RM and atletico. I m confident with our depth this season, no more crying when seeing a bench with only Arda,munir,douglas,bartra,SR only. Can’t wait for the season to start.

  4. Jim
    July 16, 2016

    Ok, colour me confused.

    I’ve been banging on about Samper ever since the his CL game last season, saying not only is he ready but to me he’s the best thing out of La Masia since Busi, Ini and Xavi. He then disappeared back to the Bs. It’s ok. I can take the hurt. ..

    Next I hear the club have decided to send him out on loan next season . Huge mistake as he’ll learn diddley in a team that doesn’t play our system or can’t control the ball ( or passes) like Busi and Ini. But ok.

    Then I hear he’s gonna get a token preseason before going out on loan. Same mistake.

    Now I read that Sport is saying he’s been told he’s a first team player as of 19th July – no mention of loan.

    Have I nodded off or is this the first of many misses from me because Barcastuff is no longer ? Is this just Sport being Sport or is there some basis for it ? Is this even LE starting to feel the heat from the “if you’re gonna stay long(er) term we’d need to see some movement on playing the best of La Masia”

    Or has LE just gone back, rewatched the Leverkuson game and thought ” Wait a minute, Jim was maybe right ? ” 🙂

    Anyone know what’s going on ?

    • Rami
      July 16, 2016

      If you decide to keep what you consider a valuable player for the future, You must be sure he can seriously compete for a spot, And this is not possible for samper, He has to compete with the likes of iniesta, Busi, Raki, Arda, And rafhinia, Maybe even masche, That’s a good way to get him rotten on the bench, And it’ll only hamper his potential..

      Let’s add to this that not all of his appearances were glamorous from what i remember, His copa matches last season were a mixed bag,, He had his glimpses but not near enough, And a loan was clearly needed back then, Now of course he might mightily impress LE in pre-season and convince him of his abilities for a first team spot,, But that’s unlikely.

    • Jim
      July 16, 2016

      I don’t actually remember much about our early Copa matches, Rami, because they weren’t on Sky ( a sore point) . Can you remind me who they were against ? I’m guessing we didn’t lose them at least but I take your point. My beef has always been that I’d have liked to see him start a couple of matches but after his CL appearance where he passed Rakitic, the senior man, off the park ( after a wobbly first ten or fifteen when he looked a little slow to react) .

      For me, he is the ideal replacement for Busi when he needs some rest as he will do even supposing he doesn’t get injured although I’d love to see him starting with Iniesta and Busi in midfield for a match just to see how he plays with top players. Training with the firsts every day, getting a lot of time in Copa matches and subbing in as required, to me, are much more useful in honing the Barca way than getting into bad habits elsewhere. It’ll be interesting to see what happens and Im quite happy to let him be judged by appearances. He’s the real deal. Only slight niggle for me is his broken ankle. That can be a lengthy injury to get over. Anyway, time will tell.

    • Jim
      July 16, 2016

      Ooga, could you please time your good news posts better so that they fit in more timeously with my drinking habits ? Thanks.

  5. Manita2010
    July 17, 2016

    would it be crazy to suggest that LE should experiment with 4-4-2 in some games (maybe games we need to be extra defensive and want to give Busi a rest) with Samper and Sergi/Mascherano as double pivote. we could go with Denis and Rafinha too in the middle just to see how the youngsters will fair. this lineup looks appetizing already. Mats- (DF) Vidal – pique-Umtiti-Alba (MF) Samper-Sergi-Denis- Rafinha (Attack) Neymar-Messi/Suarez

    • Jim
      July 17, 2016

      I certainly think the 4-4-3 doesn’t have to be set in stone, especially for away CL games or maybe even away Clasicos. In some ways we’ve had that already with Messi continually dropping deep early although Neymar tends to stay wide. Worth a look certainly and not any less attacking if done properly.

  6. July 18, 2016

    Samper will be renwed, and will do pre-season with the first team. This means that his future is in his hands, which is as it should be. If he kicks ass, he stays. If not, he goes on loan. In rewatching the matches in which he played, he wasn’t sufficiently convincing for me to be a lead-pipe cinch for the first team, but I assume that he has improved.

    Biggest deficiencies for me were reading of the match. He got caught behind play too often. Busquets (even in full cognizance that it is unfair to compare to the best player of this type in the game) always seems to know where the ball is going to be and how the play is developing. So he can play faster and more physically than his actual capabilities. He’s proactive rather than reactive, the latter being a quality that I saw too often in Samper.

    The good thing is that Samper can write his own ticket. Now let’s see.

    — Umtiti is doing everything exactly right. He’s learning Catalan, talked of watching Barça as a child, knowing the players and style of playing, already has “mes que un club” as part of his Twitter bio. It’s the kind of stuff that new players often mess up, that entry into a new club. Do it right, and the fanbase is at your feet for a while, which gives you some screwup cushion.

    • Jim
      July 18, 2016

      Agreed that it’s up to Samper now, even as I’m not sure that this isn’t just a token move to justify sending him off on loan.

      If he does get time I hope it’s with the top guys rather than the second string lineup as against Leverkusen. I have a feeling he won’t need long to persuade people ( and probably won’t get the full season we all agree is necessary to fit in anyway.) I would agree that the first fifteen of that game he struggled to adjust to the more clever movement of the opposition and discovered that if you can’t read the game very well and sniff out danger early you put yourself at a disadvantage ( pretty much like Umtiti in his first game at the Euros for the lost goals.) However, that comes with games..

      For me, in Busi’s position, you need first to have the vision in an offensive and passing sense to control the passing game and boy does Samper have that. After the first fifteen it was a passing masterclass for me. Didn’t see the Copa games so can’t speak about them. But with Pique behind him I think we’ll see another top player emerging and it’s not an exaggeration for me that he might just be our last chance to keep our passing game going beyond Iniesta’s time with us.

      The only elephant in the room for me is that we’ve gone from a very small squad to a very large one and I reckon there are gonna be some disagreements and unhappy players around. LE is, as has been said, gonna have to make a bigger effort to rotate.

  7. dl
    July 18, 2016

    I haven’t seen more of Umtiti than what was on show at the Euros, but I am very happy with the choice. He just kind of ‘smells’ right, for lack of a better word. All the vibes seem in line.
    All the rest of the signings, and importantly Samper’s renewal, also create a very nice sounding chord. I’m looking foward to seeing how it all works out. Visca barca!

    • July 18, 2016

      I liked what I saw of him at Lyon, liked even more what I saw at Euros as it confirmed what I saw at Lyon. What’s interesting is that Euler (late of this space) and a few others were tapping him years ago, as part of that great Bleus youth crew that included Varane, Rabiot and others.

      It’s a common thing on Barça Twitter to snark about the technical staff not scouting, etc. But apparently Umtiti was a long-term project that the club had been watching for some time. And he only wanted us, which made the deal easy. Note how the player and our club thanked Lyon for making the process so smooth. Lyon/Aulas, I am sure, wanted a bidding war for one of the hottest young CBs in Europe. But when that prospect only wants one team …

  8. July 18, 2016

    FYI, I’m going to Barcelona mid-August for the home leg of the SuperCopa, so will get a chance to see the team in person (except for Neymar, who will be at the Olympics). Should be fun.

    • Rami
      July 18, 2016

      *jealously fuming*

    • SoccerMom
      July 26, 2016

      OMG ME TOOOOO

      Will be there with the whole fam damily so I will give you our seat area and you come visit and we will give the shoutout to the BFBeebers.

  9. dl
    July 19, 2016

    Kxevin: WOW! Great good fortune for you.
    On the topic of the technical staff, there has to be quite a bit quietly going on — anything else would be inconceivable. And I love the fact that Umtiti has had barca as a goal for some years, as that is exactly the kind of player a team needs. I know if I was any of the barca team (from Turan up to Neymar), or one of its prospects, I would instruct my agent to ensure the deal gets done, no matter what. Playing on that team is the chance of a lifetime.

  10. July 19, 2016

    Halilovic off to Hamburg. 5m transfer, 10m buyback.

    • Jim
      July 20, 2016

      Yeah, For me that’s a decent setup, Kxevin. Tbh, I was a little disappointed in him when he played against us. He seemed more intent on impressing us by heavy tackles on our players than in the effort expended in getting about the field. If Pique has to have a quiet word with you during the game the writing is indeed on the wall.

      That doesn’t mean he won’t be back. If he can bulk up a little and work on his defensive duties he could still be a top player for us. However, and don’t ask me for any.thing definite as to why, I get the feeling he doesn’t have the best advice around him.

    • July 20, 2016

      There was, of course, the usual muttering about how the club sold him for cheap, etc, etc. but the basic reality of player transfers is that sporting staffs know that a player is available, and make decisions. Hamburg stepped up. Not much was heard, rumor mill or otherwise, about other offers for him.

      Like me, sporting directors watched Sporting this year. Halilovic has all the skills, but like Deulofeu and Adama Traore, he is almost completely disinterested when he doesn’t have the ball. He just kinda walks around. Think of Xavi or Iniesta, how they are rarely caught in a position where they aren’t able to receive a pass. That takes work.

      I was high on his talent, and still am. The Bundesliga, with its pace and physicality, will be the perfect place to see what he has. There is lots of talk of Hamburg being a mess of a club, etc. But near as anyone can tell, there weren’t a ton of options for him. If he learns to play the entire pitch and all aspects of the game, he will be an absolute stunner of a player.

      But if he doesn’t, the club will avoid another situation where a loaned player is always coming back, and sold him for twice as much as was paid for him. I hope he makes it. He’s a huge talent.

    • Rami
      July 21, 2016

      The development of these youngsters is unpredictable, It’s a cliche now when a ‘promising’ young player with hype around him to eventually fade away, The advantage hali has is his young age, There’s still hope for him, I still remember saying when he was at barca B, That we should forget about him for at least 4 years.

      I’m loving The strategy of selling with a buy-back option, seems folds better than loaning, I can’t recollect the last time we loaned someone and he actually returned to us a better player, It does spare the club the hassle and resources of players that most likely won’t have a future with us, Otherwise they wouldn’t have been sold, Someone like samper would have been loaned and not sold with a buy-back options, He almost cetianly has a future with us.

  11. July 21, 2016

    Alex Song to Rubin Kazan. He is no longer on the books at Barça.

  12. July 21, 2016

    Andre Gomes in the house. From Valencia. Sources saying 35+25 in variables.

    • Rami
      July 22, 2016

      I admit that i don’t have enough knowledge about him, But i have some vivid memories about him when playing against us, Specially in that 1-0 match in the treble season, He pretty much dribbled any player of ours he came across, And was just sensational.

  13. TITO
    July 22, 2016

    Wow, never expected this . Now lets go for Gameiro and this will be one hell if a summer.
    Gomes in will mean that Arda is leaving, otherwise i dont see a point in dozen of midfielders.

  14. G6O
    July 22, 2016

    This is a baffling transfer for me.

    I watched all games of the Euro, Andre Gomes never really looked like a Barca player to me.

    And we don’t really need another midfielder,

    Certainly not at that price.

    Hopefully it works out, of course

    • TITO
      July 22, 2016

      It will work out, he’s a great addition.
      What pleases me about these signings is that they are all signed for the upcoming seasons, minding their age.
      The four signings are 22 years old.
      With Neymar, Ter Stegen, Alba, Samper, Rafinha along with them, the future looks bright enough for me.

  15. Jim
    July 22, 2016

    Hmm, another midfielder and not one who stood out for me. That gives us Busi, Iniesta, Rakitic, Turan, Rafinha, Samper, Suarez and now Gomez. If we get our extra specialised forward there’ll be almost no minutes up front for any of them either.

    To me, this suggests two things. Either LE has decided on MUCH more rotation and, although we’d all like to see Pique, Iniesta and the forwards getting some rest, good luck with that for all sorts of reasons or we have a previously unthought of big name going. Now we’ve gone about it quietly so far which is good and we have bought in before advertising our need by selling first and paying inflated prices but what we’ve always had in recent years is a happy squad . If you have five midfielders not getting a start every week that’s a lot.

    Not saying it’s bad, just that for the first time I’m kinda puzzled. Another midfielder was just about last on my list.

    • Rami
      July 22, 2016

      `There is no reason to be puzzled jim, While under competition can be deleterious to the team, There is no such thing as over competition, And no coach will ever complain of too many players.

      The goal of every coach is to get the most out of his players, Specially the more talented ones, And there is no better method to achieve this than a competitive environment, They bring out their best and we reap the rewards, The only thing that matters is that the truly better player in training and on the pitch gets the spot.

      Keep in mind these players are under contract, They are paid weekly irrespective of weather they’re getting the minutes they want or not, Add to that every player knows before he joins that nothing is guaranteed, And the playtime will depend of him, The players he’s competing with and the final decision of the coach, Nor the coach or the club is obligated to satisfy their ‘minutes’ needs, Only the needs of the team, Yes these many players might signal rotation in midfield next season, But not necessarily “MUCH more rotation” as you said, LE is not required not should give them equal minutes.

      While should we care if rafinha isn’t getting any minutes while denis is getting many, If denis is truly performing better than him, Or Gomez is getting all the minutes while arda is rotting on the bench if he’s better than him on the pitch?.

      Let’s not forget that more players will give LE more versatile options during the season, And with this many players competing, I can predict that our midfield, Will be the most shining aspect of the coming season, Sorry MSN.

    • Jim
      July 22, 2016

      Thanks, Rami. I’ve no objection to competition for places but too large a squad doesn’t lead to that. In my experience ( at very low level ) all it leads to is bad mouthing , a feeling the coach has favourites and a lack of pulling together. Not saying that will happen, ( I’m sure we will have injuries) just makes it more likely imo, and the harmony in our squad is one of our biggest advantages. As you say, though, that may not be the coach’s problem – until it is.

      No player likes the bench but once you come to the not even getting stripped stage things go south quickly. Also, can anyone see Messi being benched for any game even for rest ? Suarez may say he has no problem now in the close season but you watch him if he’s pulled off in the middle of a heated game. This is a vital season for Neymar. He’s not gonna thank you for pulling him off for Munir or Denis.

      I’m also not sure LE can afford to leave out Pique, Iniesta and the front three very often or our quality will suffer. Too much rotation and you lose your shape and rhythm. I’ve never understood the Spanish system whereby you can’t move players up and down to the reserves to give them field time which would help give the younger ones badly needed playing time. They, especially, need to play.

      Anyone calculated how big our first squad will be if we get our new forward ? 24/25? Don’t get me wrong. I think up until this point we’ve done a great job. We’ve also been quite lucky in the calibre of person , though, for me I think I’d tie some of that to the upbringing at La Masia.

      Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see if we finally have a bench where the quality doesn’t drop too much if we bring off a regular.

      Won’t be long now. Time to get onto Sky and BT to sort out my viewing for the cheapest price. I also found myself wandering down the massive TV aisle yesterday as my good lady investigated a new washing machine. Do they not make anything under 40 inches any more ??? And how to make sense of the different types . Quantum Dot sounds more like something CND should be campaigning against

  16. July 22, 2016

    From the transfer so far, how much have we realised from sales and how much do we have left to buy the forward???

  17. July 22, 2016

    I have to say, so far I am impressed with the way the club is going about its signings. No fuss, under the radar till the deal is done. I also like that the signings are not knee jerk reactions but with a view to building for the future. All young, quality players with the potential to be truly world class. Most likely they will not all turn out the way we would like, but I think that is the correct strategy. Certainly better than spending 120m on Pogba, who frankly has about the same chance of failing in our system as 35m Gomes. It looks like Vietto might be close too.

    Cannot wait for the season to kick off, very excited to see how this all plays out!

  18. Spiza7
    July 22, 2016

    Plus all new signings seem extremely motivated and good enough to earn their place in the team. This keeps our key players on their toes. Very well some players may not like this and probably end up leaving, but with LE’s fight for your place or leave blunt attitude we may not have to go through too much drama when it happens.

    • July 23, 2016

      Exactly, and frankly any player not willing to fight for their spot shouldn’t be in the team anyhow. We now have a serious squad, even without Vietto, which looks likely to happen as well. We could literally field an entire team of non starters and it would be a very competitive team. That is a really unbelievable position to be in!

  19. Messiah10
    July 23, 2016

    Great comments I’ve been reading this morning. As usual. Haven’t commented in quite a while, but felt compelled after LE made a clear statement of his thoughts on the boards decision to let Dani go on a free and the rumours of Arda & Masche going. After picking up Gomes I could see Arda going now, but I think that would be a mistake. There’s a reason he was integral to AM’s success and we paid so much for him to sit 6 months before he could play. He’s only had half a season to bed in. Not nearly long enough to judge how he fits our system and what he brings to the team. LE indicated that he has brought a lot to the locker room. If that’s the case, I’m completely against selling him b/c we really only have Masche as the strong personality after Dani left. Dani was a pro’s pro, but he was the one to remind the guys that this is FUN. Thanks for the link to Gomes article Kxevin. Tbh, I didn’t watch Portugal during the tourney bc I hate Thong Boy and they weren’t trying to play football. I’m excited about the young talent we’ve picked up. It’ll be interesting to see how LE rotates and what he chooses to do on the Right side Dani use to dominate and overlap. I’m very happy we finally are increasing squad size. 22 man squads with only 2-3 viable options off the bench just doesn’t cut it with the amount of games we play year on year. Increased competition for spots is also healthy. Lastly, a bit disappointed Hali is gone. Was really high on him and thought he was instrumental in Gijon’s 1st half of season. However, buyback is fine with me and he wouldn’t progress sitting on our bench. I still think he’s one for the future. Thank you for keeping this blog going. Best on the blogosphere and quality of writing and comments 2nd to none!

  20. July 23, 2016

    MD saying Vietto deal is done, announcement this week. What a crazy summer. The best team in the world has gotten significantly better and deeper.

    • Jim
      July 23, 2016

      Ok, spoiler. Debbie Downer here.

      My lack of knowledge showing me up again. He’s from AM , young, he’s a forward – that much I know. But I don’t remember him against us or really his name coming up as the next big thing. Doesn’t seem to have set the heather alight with his goals at AM and around €20m ? A quick viewing of YouTube highlights from his AM career brings to mind the term underwhelming.

      I must be missing something and tbf since Revista’s demise I haven’t seen a whole lot of Spanish football which doesn’t involve us. Those who know him better can he come off the bench, fit in and score goals for us ? What is his killer skill as a forward that would make you happy ( enough) to take one of MSN off ? Pace, movement, heading, dribbling ?

    • July 23, 2016

      There isn’t a forward in football that would make anyone happy enough to take MSN off. That isn’t why you get a player(s) such as Barça have nabbed this window. You get them for the kind of depth that enables key players to rest against the bottom of the table sides, depth that we didn’t have last season so we had to grind the stars into dust to keep the machine churning.

      Vietto isn’t going to start against Atleti or in a Classic,, but he is plenty good enough against the other teams in Liga, particularly backed by the quality the team now boasts.

      If Luis Enrique sells the team on proper rotation, there are almost two completely different XIs that can roll out at various times. This is the depth that so many have been clamoring for and I, for one, am over the moon about it. Been a great summer.

    • Messiah10
      July 24, 2016

      I definitely thought we needed someone to come off the bench or rest MSN, but I was hoping to buy Pedro back from Chelsea for $5-10 mil. He wouldn’t need to bed in and most everyone except for the Arda/Vidal & new signings have played with him. I’ve heard good things about Vietto, but just not sure about this one. Especially at $20 mil. Hell, Munir could have been 1st choice off bench and done just as well for all we know. I know he got a lot of criticism last year for missing some sitters and not making the right passes if he even made one, lol, but I was comfortable when he was in because I knew he was Masia. I just haven’t seen enough of Vietto to get that warm fuzzy feeling. Pedro/Munir off the bench makes me fuzzier

    • Jim
      July 24, 2016

      I suppose that was what I was asking. I’m not sure what Vietto’s strengths are. I’m not sure if he has been bought to just come off the bench for a few years or as a player who can grow into the first team.

      For this year there are two basic situations: coming on late in the game when it’s won or starting with the big guns on the bench. We’ve all agreed that our problem has been the dip when this happens. Hopefully the difference this year will be that when the new players come off the bench they are capable of contributing meaningfully. In the case of a forward that is creating or taking chances. Are the new players better than what we had on the bench this year – Arda, Rafinha, Mathieu, Munir ? We’ll find out.

      However, all this is predicated on LE behaving differently than in previous years. I’m sure he intends to do a bit more but does anyone think any of the trio are going to be left on the bench at the start of even the easier games, apart from Copa or return from Internationals ? When it comes to bringing subs on it tends to be quite late where the amount of rest is negligible and it probably won’t happen at all unless the game is secure. LE strikes me as a pretty safe manager. I’ll be interested to see, for instance, if he starts Umtiti rather than Masche. Doubt it. Anyway, answers available soon.

      On another note, amazing but not surprising to see Messi turn up a week early for training. Not sure I wouldn’t have told him it’ll be a long season and to head home to enjoy his last week. Either that or take him out to a small cafe and sit and explain my thoughts on rotation for the year. Get Messi onside and you get the rest.

  21. TITO
    July 23, 2016

    This sesson reminds me so much on 2004/5 season, when we had a great summer transfers.
    Etoo, Giuly, Edmilson, Deco, Sylvinho come.to mind.
    I just knew something great is coming. I have the same feeling now for the upcoming season.

  22. TITO
    July 24, 2016

    Sport is reporting that we have a deal with Sevilla over Gameiro, which personally i like it more as an option than Vietto. But lets see what tomorow brings. Anyway, it seems that we mean business this summer.

  23. July 24, 2016

    The war is on. MD says Vietto, Sport says Gamiero. Others say Gamiero to Atleti, Vietto to Sevilla Gameiro to Atleti and nobody to Barça. What a party.

    • TITO
      July 26, 2016

      It seems that neither of them is coming 🙂
      We were going just fine with the reinforcements. We shouldn’t drag this final signing, it would be ideal if it comes before we start with preparation games, and if something can be easily bought in the market, that’s a striker.

  24. July 25, 2016

    Jim, I would have been over the moon, if we had bought Vietto directly from Villareal. He looked liked a star in the making. But dont know what happened to him in Ateltico. I think Simione was not happy with his work rate, and finally that has got him out. He was not even half the player he was while at Atletico. But if he has a problem with work rate, how good it can be with us? Am just afraid, his career graph might be going in the same way as Guisseppe Rossi, ex Villareal!!!
    Wish we had tried for Correa from Atletico. If we needed a player to make impact from the bench, he was the man. Many important moments for Atleti, from the bench, a wonderful dribbler and terrific attitude too.

    Did we try for that guy Renato Sanchez? If we had to go for a Portugeese, I wish we looked for him. He is the only Portugeese player who impressed me in the Euros, even if he was poor in the finals.
    Anyways, the club knows more than us. Am also worried about that huge midfield gang.

  25. Manita2010
    July 26, 2016

    Denis Suarez says HE wants to win a treble, Andre Gomes says My mentality is to win it all. Neymar will want to step it up for that B’Dor challenge. The youngsters have hunger and ambition. Just what we need , I predict a great many seasons ahead.

    • Manita2010
      July 27, 2016

      LOl I hope you are not one of those saying the blond hair is a sign that he is going through a mid life/career identity crisis. He is human we should let him be. One person I would to see rock his like that though is Suarez muahahaha. Neymar doing it won,t raise any eye brows. PS if our search for a fourth froward i think its just nature telling us to experiment more with 4-4-2 this season and I don’t doubt that we have the players to let it work . suarez and messi , suarez and Neymar, heck even Munir and Neymar, Munir and Messi too can work. we just have to trust Munir

  26. Huckleberry
    July 27, 2016

    I think there is a problem Messi has with himself actually. But I have no idea what it can be.

  27. Jim
    July 28, 2016

    I see Pep has decided according to Sky to take a chance on Stones and make him the highest ever transfer for a defender. He’s taking a bit of a chance there, imo,. Never really been persuaded by Pep’s defensive thinking. Just watching Dortmund/ Man City. Bartra looks good and therein lies our problem. He’s playing in a conventional defence where I can see him doing well, unlike ours where positioning is so vital as numbers are often short. Btw, is a Pep really gonna keep Yaya ( although do I detect a lot more movement from him this match ? )

    In other news, IS there any other news about our new forward ? I’m torn on this one although I know we need something. Are we really looking for a long term first team player or just an impact sub for late on in a game ? When we are ahead and coasting or chasing a game late on ? Different qualities required for each. For me, it’s someone for the 60th minute onwards because I just can’t see the front three sitting out whole matches if it’s not after internationals – and Messi may have none ! If that is the case and top names aren’t interested in sitting, it might be worth looking at someone like Deulofeu. I know a lot here don’t like him and I have to say, even when he’s defending you can see he hates it, but I’m gonna say that if you’re looking at someone cheap who can dribble, has pace, decent shot and can throw in a wicked and astonishingly accurate cross ball ( low or high) I haven’t seen many better on the ball last season. Just a thought.

    While I’m on a run of alienating any sane person, personally I would have tried to take Thiago back from Bayern this summer. He’s not particularly liked there from what I read, he has been injury prone, Pep who was his biggest advocate has gone and he’s left in a country without any real tie there in a Bayern team which can only go downhill in European terms, imo. It would have negated the need for our midfield legions, we know he plays our game well so would fit in immediately and he has many friends in the club. I know, I didn’t like the manner of his going either but after Iniesta goes I reckon he’ll be the top playmaker in Europe and I’d rather he was with us. Still, too late now, probably.

    Finally, as I write this, commentator has just said that Messi has come out and said he retired because he felt he was a burden to the national side. Is this a joke ?

    • Messiah10
      July 29, 2016

      Jim, I think you hit the sauce a wee early today! Lol. Deulofeu??? Lol. No way. He hasn’t shown much at Everton IMO. Definitely doesn’t work hard enough off the ball and we already have someone who does that lol. Just not sure he’s progressed at all since he moved. I was hoping he would and that he’d mature, but I don’t see it. A lot of options out there if we want to go that route. Hell, Tello would be better IMO.

    • Jim
      July 30, 2016

      I’m not saying it’s gonna happen, Mesiah10. Don’t think there’s a cat’s chance. I’m just saying that for me, it might solve our particular set of problems in getting a ‘fourth” forward.

      Problem : we can’t get one because nobody of sufficient quality wants to sit. Well, Deulofeu might. He’s fallen out of favour for Lennon at Everton, he has friends here and he’s arrogant enough to believe that we made a mistake letting him go. So he might be interested. We also don’t have a huge amount to spend and he’d be cheap.

      Problem : if we’re only using them for the last thirty minutes or so they need to be able to make an impact on the game in that time, not over 90. I reckon I’m on so
      I’d ground here as there are few players as dangerous as Deulofeu with the ball at their feet near the opposition box. He knows how to hit laser accurate passes at top speed . He often only had Lukaku to aim at in the box and found him unerringly in the first half of last season. Even the MOTD commentators were raving about him being one of the most dangerous “foreign imports”. It’s no coincidence to me that Lukaku ( and Everton) slid down the table after Lennon took his place, although Stones and an at times dodgy keeper played their part. Although not often mentioned he also has pace with ball at feet and can dribble well ( although he needs to lose half the step overs).

      Problem: Munir can score tap ins but has shown little sign of a whole lot more. We need someone to pull their weight when they come on. Deulofeu actually has some shot on him ( a la Rakitic but he actually uses it) ! Saw him scoring a cracker just last week in a friendly against a poor team somewhere but he also showed it last year. One of his problems to me was that Everton, for a couple of seasons now have tried to play too much down the left side. It started because Berkley is very poor at shifting the ball to his right foot ( think bull in a china shop) and he thinks he’s flavour of the month but Baines also contributes to this. On several occasions last year Martinez was out of the dugout screaming for them to get the ball to Deulofeu. As were the fans.

      Problem : we need someone to fit into our side straight away. Well, he came from here so knows our ways and can play the passing game as well as most. No, he doesn’t defend as well as most of our side but if he were subbing Messi you need someone creative and not someone who will run miles because let’s face it Mrssi doesn’t. Neymar also doesn’t defend as much as some think although to be fair to the guy more than I ever thought he would. Suarez is the only workhorse up front so we wouldn’t be losing much there. Deulofeu’s defensive side has also improved. Not gonna lie it’s still not good but he does the basics and having cast an eagle eye over that side whenever I saw Everton I’d say it would be enough for those 30 or so minutes. After al, Rakitic won’t have to cover for Dani any more and there are those who think he locks down that side so no big deal there.

      Finally, there can’t be many who don’t see the huge potential in Deulofeu. No, I don’t think it’s going to be realised either but he does and just maybe if he came back here playing with. Our top guys he’d give it a final go to up his work rate.

      What would we have to lose, really ? A cheap short term contract for a player who can change a match and who will get a hell of a lot more touches with us to do it than he does isolated on the wing at Everton.

      Just a thought.

    • Davour
      July 30, 2016

      Some good arguments, but I still think his poor attitude/hubris would be a problem rather than an asset – while it may enable him coming back, it would surely be a problem in his position: a young attacker is supposed to give his all, not emulate Messi’s work rate. And how many times would he replace Messi during the final 30? Zero. IF Messi is rested, I would think he begins on the bench, coming on if needed, or coming off when victory is already secured. Deloufeu (or someone with a similar profile) could perhaps be an asset on the RW if Messi drops to the 10-position when we’re looking to go for the win, however, but I think we’re already covered there (Denis, Rafinha or Arda, or even Munir – perhaps Gomez, too). I’m thinking we need a forward who can be a stand-in for Luis, in case of injury or the odd need of some rest..

  28. Messiah10
    July 29, 2016

    So Ribery comes out and trashes Pep. Never liked the guy tbh. At his peak he was a hell of a winger. He and Arjen on the wings killed us. However, he had injury problems during all of Peps reign and never worked extremely hard off the ball. I can see Bayern pulling a EE after Ancelotti’s time there. He’s a great coach but try’s to hard to please the prima dona’s. They may have a great season this year, but I can’t see it lasting. I’m looking forward to watching Citeh under Peps meticulous nature. I love the fact he’s banned Nasri from training with the 1st team bc he’s overweight! Lol. Nasri won’t be around after January. No way he gets on with Pep with his attitude. Pep vs Mou will be fun to watch. What is everyone’s prediction for AM this season? What about Sevilla now Emri is gone? Will Valencia get it together this season or be a continual disappointment to their huge fan base? Juve will be tough with the addition of Higuian. Can’t believe Man U are going to spend $120 million on Pogba. He has a lot of talent but wasn’t overly impressed in Euros with him. Maybe he ran out of gas. I just laugh because if he is worth $120 mil then what is Messi, Ney, Suarez, and even Iniesta worth at his age?

    • Davour
      July 30, 2016

      I’m sure Pep’s style is not for everyone. Ribery seems to be something of a loner (and “looner”?) and an eccentric. Not surprising he feels this way.

      120 seems sick for Pogba, but who else could they buy to really boost their team? If he works out, they will have a key creator for years to come. A lot of personalities coming into that team now, Mou, Z, Pogba…

      AM will be strong, no doubt. They haven’t lost any key players (to my knowledge), an if they add Costa to replace Torres, they could be even more difficult to deal with (if Diego manages a proper return). For the sake of competition I hope they keep challenging; Liga is so much more exciting with three proper contenders. Hopefully Sevilla can find their way to be more consistent, too.

      Will be an exciting season!

  29. ooga aga
    July 29, 2016

    Adriano to Beskitas!

    Bye Adriano. Thanks for a few crackers over the years.

    • Messiah10
      July 30, 2016

      Sad to see him go. He was the best utility player we had come off the bench, or when one of our starters was injured, for a few years. Dropped down the pecking order when Roberto was moved up and Matheiu was added. Then Vidal came and the writing was on the wall. Invaluable service to our club when squad depth was not there. Had a cannon of a foot that seldom found the net, but when it did, dear oh me! Thank you for your dedication to the cause Adriano! I wish you all the best. Be safe in Turkey!

  30. Jim
    July 30, 2016

    Yay !! We’re back and on Sky against Celtic ( who haven’t been great pre-season ) in ten minutes . My favourite TV footie viewing seat has been moved in a furniture reshuffle so need to reinstate it and get a glass of decent Rioja going . . .

    • Jim
      July 30, 2016

      Cracking start for Vidal and Turan for a superb first goal.

  31. Jim
    July 30, 2016

    Hmm, first and could be last appearance for Martinez from Sevilla. Horrendous touch in front of his own goal for a Celtic equaliser. Mind you, not sure I’d have thanked Masip for that pass.

    And as I write, an own goal from Celtic. This football thing is good fun !

  32. Jim
    July 30, 2016

    That was fun if eventually disrupted by the sheer number of substitutes. Always enjoy watching Celtic as they are a recklessly attacking team ( a bit like us ! ) They also have a fair number of good dribblers and gobs of pace in the side.

    Maybe not fair to pick any negatives from a first preseason game ( here’s looking at you, defence ! ) but on the plus side I thought Vidal looked better and Turan got on the ball a little more and took his goal superbly. Good to see after his troubles of last season. Maybe just me but I thought Samper’s passing game was immaculate. In fairness though, Rogic ( who had a great game ) got past him a couple of times where Busi would have whipped him down without thinking. I suppose with his broken ankle it’s been a while since he played.

    All in all, apart from the last fifteen, I enjoyed that.

  33. Chiu
    July 30, 2016

    barcastuff twitter hv been suspended for while. i llost the resources to get comprehensive updates about barca. is there any other twitter account as alternative for barca related stuff? pls advise.

    • hong
      July 31, 2016

      I think not. It is not updated as frequently..

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