BFB Interview: Cesar Benoit

This is the second installment of the series: BFB Interviews (the first was here). It is designed to broaden the horizons not only of this blogger (who needs it), but also of the blog as a whole by asking intelligent and qualified bloggers and thinkers from around the Internet to answer uneducated questions.

Before our Jornada 26 matchup with Valencia, I’ve asked fellow blogger Cesar to answer a few questions. Check out his blog over at The Offside.

Barcelona Football Blog: Thanks for doing this little interview, Cesar.

Anyway, let’s get this party on the road, shall we? Before the season began, there were lots of questions about the state of Valencia’s finances. Have most or all of those concerns been figured out? Pushed under the rug? Ignored like a giant gorilla in the room?

Cesar Benoit: Thanks, Isaiah … I’d say the money situation has been pushed under the rug, It’s something none of us VCF fans want to discuss or worry about. But we know it’s there. There’s a stadium we’re trying to get finished, creditors to satisfy and players to pay. The fans have been amazingly patient with the board, led by President Manuel Llorente and his assembled team. They’re trying to turn around the mind-bogglingly bad work of former chairman Juan Soler. It won’t be easy. The summer looms and the drama will begin again, with questions over David Villa and David Silva’s futures at the Mestalla sure to pop up again.

BFB: Valencia is currently third in the league, battling for that spot with Mallorca, Sevilla, Depor, and to some extent Athletic Bilbao. In my season preview, I predicted that Valencia would finish 5th mainly because of their defense. You recently wrote that the team is underachieving despite having world class players throughout the front line and midfield. While I was incorrect in putting Atleti and Sevilla above Valencia, do you agree that it’s the defense that’s causing this under-achievement?

CB: 5th? Boo hiss … I think the board worked hard to shore up the defense this offseason. Raul Albiol was sold to Real Madrid and while many VCF fans thought that was a bad move, the additional money and the defensive work of players like David Navarro, Bruno and Angel Dealbert has been more than adequate.

Sure, I’d love to relive the days when VCF was known for having a rock-solid, all-world defense. Sadly, those days are past. When players like Carlos Marchena are roving your backline, you know you’re in trouble.

So why are we under-achieveing? I think it’s an over reliance on players like Ruben Baraja and David Albelda, guys that are ‘over the hill.’ And some of it has to fall on coach Unai Emery, who makes confusing coaching decisions at times. We’re such a good club. We have world class players at striker, at winger and in defensive midfield. I really feel we should be challenging for the title and I’m disappointed we’re not in the mix.

BFB: With Ibrahimovic missing from the field and Guardiola missing from the sideline (barring some backtracking by RFEF), do you consider Valencia favorites or underdogs coming into this match?

CB: I’d love to say we’re favorites. But this is Barcelona and this is the Camp Nou. So yes … ha!

BFB:Will Valencia alter any of its usual tactics? If so, how? If not, what ARE the usual tactics?

CB: Miguel and Marchena will be back barring injury. Not sure how good of a thing that is. Ever Banega has been a bit of a revelation for us and he should be back.

David Albelda is injured as is defender Bruno, who’s been hot and cold.

I’ve never been a big tactics guy. I think we’ll play counter attack, try to run down the wings, try to be creative in the midfield and try to get the ball to our world class striker David Villa. I think we’ll defend like crazy. I think a lot of things, eh? Primarily, I think we’ll play cautiously and wait to break on the counter.

BFB: Are you excited about Tron Legacy?

CB: Yes! Just saw the trailer. Can’t pass up a movie with the Dude, Jeff Bridges. Although I didn’t see the first one. When we getting together to watch that?

BFB: We should do that soon. Loser of the coming match brings the beer? Do you think Valencia put in a somewhat shaky home performance against Racing because they were looking ahead to the match with Barça or some other factor?

CB: Well, I’d love to use that as an excuse. It’s a tough week with our match Thursday against Werder Bremen in the Europa League followed by the Barça match. More than anything, the team looked tired.

BFB: What are the injury/absence concerns for Valencia? Are any of them irreplaceable?

CB: If Ever Banega was out, I’d be more worried. Or Villa, Silva, Pablo, etc.

Albelda is replaceable. So is Bruno. We should be ok.

The defense is somewhat shaky with Bruno and Jeremy Mathieu out. But we’ll have to do with Dealbert, Marchena, who is a walking red card and Miguel.

BFB: If called upon by your club president–Manuel Llorente–would you polish his bald head for him? How’s he doing as the president?

BFB: I’d polish his head and massage his hairy back if asked.

I think he’s doing a phenomenal job given what he inherited. A massive debt, a struggling club. He’s done a great job of staying in the background and doing his job to move this club forward. It’s not easy.

BFB: Who do you feel is going to be Barça’s most dangerous player against you this weekend? And for the record, Lionel Messi’s a cop-out answer.

CB: Ha … then it has to be Iniesta. Luckily the match is at night so the sunlight won’t reflect off his skin. Honestly, the guy’s just about the best player in the Spanish league. I love watching him play. He’s dangerous.

BFB: If FC Barcelona::Real Madrid as Good::Evil, then FC Barcelona::Valencia as ??::??

CB: For your American fans, I’d say Barca is New York and Valencia is New Jersey. For everyone else, I’ll say it’s more a David and Goliath thing.

BFB: And finally, what’s your score prediction?

CB: I shouldn’t do this, but I am. We’re gonna shock the world!! 3-2. David always beats Goliath! AMUNT!!!

Thanks again to Cesar. Remember to check out his blog.

Categorized as Interviews

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.


  1. isaiah, perhaps you could’ve asked him the likelihood of Villa or Silva leaving..coming to us..
    would really love to know whether he still has hopes on any of them staying with Valencia.

  2. I’ll read the interview later Isaiah.

    but for now, let me just say EE getting KO of the CL is a wonderful news to wake up to! nothing to do with not being modest and that we shouldn’t talk before our Stuttgart game. like someone said we didn’t spend over 200 mil specifically to win the CL. and even if we don’t win the CL that is fine with me, cause imo we have nothing to prove, after all we did it all winning everything last year without extra investment. so it’s all good! Visca Barca!

  3. Haha, very intelligent next to last and last answer by Cesar, I like that guy 🙂

    Albelda, Bruno and Navarro all out. An Europa League match against Bremen on thursday evening. The signs could be worse for us.

  4. Wow i can’t believe the lengths the madrid press would go….Today they are blaming Higuain in their defeat who has more than often been their Saviour on many occasions)

    1. I wouldn’t be at all shocked by them blaming Higuain. After all, don’t forget that fans here are blaming Ibrahimovic for so much. And again, dude won El Clasic with his strike, and gave us the whip hand against Stuttgart with his crucial goal there.

      So no, despite the number of times that Higuain has saved their bacon this season, them turning on him doesn’t surprise me a whit.

    2. That he’s a Calderon signing has a lot of conspiracy-loving folk (Tim Stannard, for a snarky example), saying it’s because of that that the press (beholden to Perez) are blaming Higuain. It seems to be a fair thought at this point.

      And, to be honest, Higuain did miss an absurd sitter.

    3. Oh yeah, he missed a sitter, and sure as shit should have passed to Thong Boy. But still, the entire side fell apart once Lyon got its mojo working and really, Lyon could have grabbed 2 more goals, were it not for crappy finishing on their part.

      So in “If Land,” as in “if Higuain makes those plays and if Lyon doesn’t finish poorly,” Lyon still wins the tie on the away goals rule.

    4. i agree, they never should have sold robben. with higuain it looks to me, and call me a conspiracy nut, like they are looking for something to blame on him so they have an excuse to sell him and make more room for ronaldo and raul and the rest of that greasy bunch. i wouldnt mind if they pissed pipita off so much that he transferred via another club to us.

  5. Love the interview, as a Barcelona fan i’d have to admit to ignoring other clubs’ internal issues, and valencia being one of the tops in la liga, its good to know they are doing well (or attempting)
    this also was also a good read, fun.

    ps: you shouldve asked how likely is a trade: ibrah-villa, swap?

    1. I’ll just say that since there’s a 0% chance of that happening, I didn’t bother asking. Ibra is here to stay for at least 3 years, so get used to the idea. Villa isn’t better, wouldn’t produce immensely more goals, and would still have to fit into a slightly different system than he plays now.

      As for the likelihood of Villa and Silva coming, I guess I just don’t care, so I didn’t bother asking. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there and getting there requires us to beat Valencia with Mssrs. David, David, and Juan still, you know, playing for them. So this summer we’ll do more in-depth coverage of the silly season, but for now, I care more about the game itself. And Tron Legacy.

    2. Okay it was wishful thinking seeing how that Giant isnt producing what we all hoped he would. Dont get me wrong, Love Ibrah, excited when he was coming, but im getting disappointed.

    3. swapping ibra for villa would be like swapping puyol for silva. they just are totally different players and not a like for like swop.

    1. Kxevin – you liked to a facebook picture, it won’t let anyone else see it unless you set the privacy to “Everyone” or you friend us. The reason it works for you is because you are still logged in.

    2. I can see it cause I’m your “friend” on fb but others wont see it because it’s as Patrick mentioned.

  6. Recently I’m seeing ties finished in first leg itself and i believe
    away goal rule is outdated now. Seeing 3 premiere league clubs in
    semifinals now is common, but i’m still arguing it’s not due to their attacking brilliance but their attitude of winning at any cost especially through counter attacks(barring arsenal).
    No blame in doing it but art of football will die soon in UCL through
    their precautionary measures.

    I watched milan vs man utd game and lyon vs real game and latter one was more attractive to watch to me. For me Champions league was about big clubs from different countries fighting each other till final. But for last few ears it’s same team’s in quarter final onwards. I’m missing chance to see diff. clubs each other in each year. How many times chelsea vs liverpool, barca vs chelsea, manutd vs roma, manutd vs barca happened in last few years…

    1. Disagree on the away goals rule. I think that in our beautiful game, it is immensely more difficult to score away from home. Teams are more pumped, pitches are different. Unlike in the NFL, where the size of the field, sidelines etc is regulated, different clubs have different-sized pitches.

      If your club specializes in defense, you’ll have a cramped one. If you play expansive, attacking football, you’ll have a big one. This doesn’t even get into the things that clubs do, such as when Chelsea (in ’06?) had its pitch in a deplorable condition — muddy as hell, with crazy-long grass. I think that the away goals rule accounts for that variation.

  7. Hey, it’s a true joy to read the comments for this article from Marca:
    * (same goes for the equivalent from AS)
    Even most of the Madridista have so much respect for Messi, they admire him for his humility.
    It’s such a huge difference between an article about Crynaldo on and this one… the rivalry between Real and Barça is one of the biggest on earth, you could easily see that by reading comments about Crynaldo on, but the comments there make you think we are actually great friends who share a lot of sympathy 😀

  8. i am sure that RMs ouster will mean that EPL fans will say that the Liga is weak. now we (and sevilla) have to represent, properly.

  9. I think the reality is that shit happens. People love to hate us and them, in part because of envy, in part because it must get tiresome having the same two clubs kicking everybody’s asses.

    We got knocked out of the Copa by an under-strength Sevilla side, right? Huge upset? Maybe, but they happen. Messi is right with his comments about how the Lyon match should make us resolve to play every match as if it were a final. We didn’t do that against Sevilla at home and suddenly, things got all messed up.

    One bad play against Stuttgart and suddenly, we could be in the exact same boat. Yes, I like their discomfort and failure, just as they like our discomfort and failure. But I never let it make me lose sight of the fact that there but for the grace of the footy gods….

    Also don’t forget that we have a much loftier height from which to fall, having won everything last season.

    1. I have to agree, they fall from heights they themselves create so I dont feel bad when their arrogance spits back in their face, but I feel if we have much more to lose, we know stuttgart watched that game last night and they can try to be Lyon too.

  10. isaiah, could you do us a favor and help us understand how daylight savinsg will affect the game time on sunday? do they change their clocks on sunday at 2 AM like we do?

    1. Nice compilation. Guys gotta get a break. He is a great player who needs time to understand our system. He is a smart guy and in due time he will start get out of his funk.

      I personally think that Pep needs to start taking some chances and move him to the wing more often, giving Messi more space in the middle. I think our attack is not as varied as it was last year, where we would attack from every angle. Part of that, IMO, is the fact that Ibra is always in the middle (which attracts double teams) and the spaces are closed up, in a sense.

      But hey, what do I know. It is easy to criticize from a computer.

    2. as much as ibra has to adjust to our team, the whole team also has to adjust to him, even the coaches. pep may have scouted him a number of times, or thinks he knows how he plays, it’s different once we have him now. give pep this season as he still is trying ibra in diff roles, i.e. target man, offensive playmaker, etc.

    3. i still laugh when looking at the dribble against the whole team against laughing for the whole month!
      i wonder why he never unleash his shots..he needs to start making use of his abilities.
      was a fan of him since Ajax days as im an Ajax fan as well.but never wanted him to come to Barca. He just doesn’t suit us IMO.

  11. Man, sometimes when we’re really down about our side tying to a team with only 10 men on the pitch, and our coach getting sent off, we should realize how great we have it as fans. At least we have a coach we all believe in. At least we don’t have to worry about not being able to pay players because we’re trying to build another stadium. At least we didn’t spend nearly 300 million euro to get kicked out of the knockout rounds. We don’t worry about our president going to jail…well maybe, but Laporta is an alright guy overall. What I’m saying is we have the best club in the world and sometimes we get down on our players too much. Obviously not like the EE press does, but we should always realize if we think its bad where we’re sittin, take a look around, we’re still on top of the world!

  12. Second, moltes graciès to Cesar Batman Benoit.
    The Barçabloggers may know that we in the SoccerFam have more torn loyalties between Bat and Blaugrana than Titi’s tendons.

  13. But thus spake SoccerMama:

    It behooves us Barça fans to acquit ourselves with utmost sportsmanship in these troubled times for our Royal Rivals.

    It is most unsporting, for example, to send multiple e-copies of today to all of your Madridista Facebook Friends.

    Quite so, indeed, to seek out a Madridista coworker by the vending machines and find yourself a bit short. Then when said coworker offers to lend you some change to yell, ‘Oh thanks! Can you spare 300 MILLION EUROS?’

    It is most unpleasant, even rude, to stand in front of the Santiago Bernabeu in Heineken gear with a large map asking passerby in a loud tone, ‘¿Dónde está el estadio? ¿Para los Champions? ¿Está por aquí, verdad? ¡OYE! Where are you GOING?’

    One ought not, as a concerned and enlightened parent, require your family repeated viewing of Raúl’s last-minute lady-do breakdown as a pretense to teaching your kindergartener what not to do on the playground.

    Likewise, if you are a teacher, it is unpedagogical to use ‘real-life’ examples to teach the Spanish passive voice in sentences such as ‘Many, many euros were spent …’ ; ‘Cristiano Ronaldo was denied …’ ; ‘Fifi Perez was mistaken …’ writ large all over the board.

    It is unnecessary to play armchair therapist and wonder exactly what ‘personal problems’ are keeping Ronaldo from training today; what Classical Tragic conflict must be raging in Pellegrini’s heart; and what, exactly, is it that’s so annoying about Guti.

    Lastly, it is truly tiresome, let alone a terrific waste of time to lecture fellow Barça bloggers on sportsmanship and manners when the rest of the season awaits.

    Visca, and sed bonicos.

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