Trust, taint, transfers and your summer

It is almost transfer season. And this is true even as transfer season really never ends in football as whispers become rumors become concrete things or not, become shirt swaps and joful/sad/puzzled fans.

A high-quality Twitter account that is more than worth your time, @santapelota, wrote a piece on Griezmann that contained a great deal of useful thoughts in general. The second paragraph is masterful:

First, that the outlay matching or improving on Antoine Griezmann’s buy0ut clause directs resources away from areas of the team, namely midfield, that need addresssing in the form of restoration, an unavoidably ideology-laden preoccupation at a club like FC Barcelona.

With a elegantly assembled collection of words, the writer summed up so much that is complicating matters in this transfer window. My less elegant summation is that people know what they know and what they think is best. The problems arise when they place that above what the club needs, complicated by the fact that we really have no freakin’ idea what the club needs.

Let’s take, for example, a midfielder. You have to look at now, the B team, who is in the pipeline and how they are progressing at Juvenil level, the odds that person will become an issue down the road, as well as price of the transfer in the context of club relationships, other squad needs and fiscal complexities such as new stadiums, potential new sponsors and global branding.

Mes que un midfielder, right?

Many supporters have a way they want the club to play, and players who they think will support that way of playing. As a consequence, we becone wedded to the idea of those players and that way of playing, at the exclusion of everything else.

In addition to being a bon vivant and an example of how to always live your best life, Paulinho should have taught us quite a lot about what we want, and squad needs. The 29-year-old midfielder came to Barça from China in a deal that will rile people up decades from now, for EUR40m. Leaving aside that 40 is the new 15 in today’s market, it was the idea of him that vexed and still vexes. This idea existed in layers.

— Age
— Price
— Skills
— Philosophical necessities

Valverde wanted him because he watched him in China and with Brazil, and understood that in his notion of an idealized Messi structure, you needed a player who would facilitate the Argentine’s dreams of winning and scoring bags of goals. This means you needed a husky, physical player who could help press to turn possession close to the opponent’s box, withOUT having the entire team press like demons because structure at the back was also important, given that two of the team’s attackers weren’t going to be making defensive contributions, as they did when Guardiola unleashed hell on world football.

That conception also needed a player who would keep the ball moving, who wasn’t going to take a pass, caress it, note how many laces there are per inch in the sphere at his feet, then send it along. Wall passes. Pam. Messi takes, runs, feeds to that player and keeps running because he knows the player is just a human backboard that will give him the ball right back. That was Paulinho. And that is all that Paulinho was.

Removing all of the ideological stuff from the equation, and also revealing a future post, Paulinho was the transfer of the summer for Barça, while also being a reviled player because of the reality of his necessity. He was a player who was good for the team, even if he wasn’t good for anyone’s notion of their ideals of what their version of the best team needed. But the best team is defined by available personnel and tactical realities.

Sure, you can set up a team of capering sprites, but if all that group sees is low blocks, what does it need then?

Transfer season is about idealism. “Let’s get Eriksen, and Thiago, and Pjanic, and Alaba, then De Jong and De Ligt. Perfect.” Considering what the team really needs isn’t any fun, really, because we don’t know. So it reduces us to intellectual inaction in many ways because … well … dunno.

The best Barça team was the one that had Paulinho in the midfield. Overall performance declined when he suffered the foot fracture, then the fatigue-based form fracture. That team, for various reasons, never returned. Had you said that to someone in July when Paulinho was offered up as an option, you would have been run out of town on a rail. But that was what happened. Was it a perfect solution? Nope. But it worked.

Ideas of transfers become ideas that supporters embrace as extensions of themselves. To dispute the player is a direct attack, rather than just a piece of theory. “Brown shoes or black?” It’s that kind of a question, rather than any sort of a direct attack on our notions of what we know about football and our ideals of the team. Because we don’t know until the player comes, and we know.

Thiago Alcantara is the name on most lips. If he were to return to the club, everyone would be giddy because of what he represents as much as the skills that he brings to the side. On Twitter the other day, someone suggested that Pjanic was a better Thiago than Thiago as well as being more durable. You would have thought they said that Martians are on Earth right now. Because of ideas and ideals.

Both are fantastic players. Both aren’t the only player, or the only solution to a midfield dilemma that just got a bit more complicated thanks to a ruptured set of muscle fibers on Carles Alena. Their potential effect, as well as those of a bunch of other folks, is worth discussing. But the biggest value of transfer season is that it gives supporters something to do. It’s like fantasy football for NFL fans. Wheeee! That’s all it is, which is worth keeping in mind amid the blizzard of rumors about this or that player being available. Theory works best as such, rather than ideology.

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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.

103 Comments

  1. luisthebeast
    July 1, 2018

    Thoughts after WC games:Barca must sell Paulinho,he have a good WC so for 40-50m he can go.
    Pique and Busquets can also go,it s time for a change.
    Alba too.
    Overhaul with exits of Gomes,Vidal,Denis,Paco.
    So who to buy?
    Young talented players and chances to some youths from Masia.

  2. luisthebeast
    July 1, 2018

    I dont have high expectations for next season,so i believe building a young squad for the future is the best.
    I cant expect great things,Messi cant play as a false 9 anymore,more like a MF but that kills our MF,Suarez will be older,Dembele is raw and immature,Busi will be slow again and our CBs will raise their hands sametime Alba will do overlaps and nothing else.
    Better to avoid all that and watch new faces.

  3. Jim
    July 2, 2018

    Luis, I think a positivity pill might be the answer 🙂

    Russia played a horrible defensive game that is very hard to break down without the right attitude and forwards which Spain didn’t have. They deserve no credit from me. They were waiting for penalties the whole game.

    It’s a bit early for doom and gloom and it’s certainly not based on our results last year. I’d settle right now for a couple of trophies next year, although I would like one to be the CL.

    Russia played with a 39 yr old CB and they won ! The team will be just fine. No, Pique, Busi and Alba won’t be going because they are world class players and like it or not we have to challenge for major titles every year.

    Not sure why you think Pique would lift his arm again as he’s never done it before? He certainly had a better set of performances ( although not up to his Barça standard ) than Ramos and nobody is having a go at him. Spain’s downfall was set pieces- they had no organisation at all.

    You are right in that we need to get some pace into the side but you won’t find a quicker or better LB than Alba. I’m slightly disappointed that Umtiti doesn’t have more pace but he will be a very good CB if he wants to learn. Semedo has pace to burn, Dembele is quick, Coutinho reasonable so we’ve made a start. We need a quicker attacking mid who can go past people and another good forward. Other than that we can have youngsters if they are good enough to push the incumbents.

    Messi for me never was a false nine. The position itself doesn’t exist for me. It worked for a while as he was a force of nature. What I hope folks have seen is that we’ll get twice as much out of Suárez if we don’t leave him alone up front.

  4. squeen
    July 2, 2018

    So sad to see Argentina lose to Spain. The emotional gravitas of France winning is equal to a bag of rocks.

    Mbappe will be anonymous in a few years when his running speed drops off.

    • squeen
      July 3, 2018

      Oops! Should have read “and” Spain, not “to”.

  5. PPos
    July 2, 2018

    Good to see that the site is back up.
    This world cup has been a bundle of surprises to say the least. Apparently is about to wrap up the signing of Lenglet the sevilla CB meaning that Yerry Mina will probably be sold or loaned. I do agree with everyone saying that we need a revamping in our personnel and now. Iniesta is gone, Busi is almost 30 so is Alba, Pique, Messi, Suarez. It looks like the Spanish NT was really missing Xavito Hernandez and David Villa. They were like Tata’s Barca, left to right all day but not surprises or verticality. I just think this current generation of Spanish players aren’t on the level of the one that has passed.

    Argentina need a massive rebuild. I dont know if Sampaoli is the man to do that. Again sticking with Pavon, Enzo Perez, and Meza, while he had Dybala on the bench, Pastore at home, and younger players waiting in the wings. Well fools die a fool’s death. I’m not expecting much from next season tbh, unless we make some smart signings. I think that aging legs will catch up to us.

  6. Jim
    July 3, 2018

    Well, the carpet will never be the same again, I’ve lost the last dregs of the wine glass but oh boy, that was good. I know it won’t last and I’ve no idea how two such average teams are still in at this stage with an easy route to the semis but I’ll savour the moment and especially with only a couple of injury time minutes left !

  7. TITO
    July 3, 2018

    Well, funny enough, our best players so far have been Rakitic and Mina, wirh Mina as our best scorer.

  8. Jim
    July 3, 2018

    Not knocking Mina , although I’m not sure I’d give him a pen – I have visions of him trying a dink down the middle. Interesting thought. Does the law of averages operate in a penalty situation? If they never win one are they due ?

  9. khaddafi
    July 3, 2018

    Can someone please tell me why Barca is after a 29year old inconsistent midfielder who’s play pattern does not fit Spanish football let alone Barca pattern?

    I’m talking about Willian.

    • Jim
      July 3, 2018

      No idea, tbh.

    • G6O
      July 3, 2018

      This is absolutely absurd if it’s true

      Meanwhile I am not hearing much about bringing Thiago back…

  10. leomessi
    July 4, 2018

    This is crazy if indeed true..
    “Reports surfacing that Lineker is brokering a transfer or swap deal involving Harry Kane and Barcelona.”

  11. Half and Half
    July 4, 2018

    Mixed bag for our players at the World Cup.

    Lets start with the bad:

    Leo caught in a dysfunctional team that struggled to get him the ball, and probably guilty of trying too hard when he did get it. Pique and Busi looked slow and clunky. Jordi Alba has possibly had the worst tournament of anyone, struggling to complete a pass at times. Dembele still a headless chicken.

    Good:

    Coutinho and Suarez have looked sharp. Umtiti has been pretty solid. Yerry Mina has got noticed and scored some goals. Might boost his transfer value if we are looking to sell?

    Indifferent:

    Vermaelen reminded everyone he still existed. Paulinho has been Paulinho, and plodded around the pitch until he senses a goal chance.

  12. luisthebeast
    July 4, 2018

    Cules are so weird.Club interested in Willian but what to do with a 30y old,he is old and all that.
    Same time if you say that Pique and Busquets are fucking slow and Alba is good only to do overlaps,lets not talk about who will press next season with Messi,Suarez upfront.
    Mina scoring goals and he is nt a bad CB but lets sell him,we have el presidente that any decent forward can destroy him.
    And yeah we have for RW super Dembele,a guy who plays like a 10y old at times.
    And Denis Suarez,the gold cute boy,who i cant understand how he is a Barca player.
    But i guess if Paulinho,Andre and Mina sold everything will be fine and our aging starters will be young again.

    • georgjorge
      July 5, 2018

      I really don’t want to start a fight, but from your comments I don’t understand what you are arguing for.

      You want fast players, but not Alba and Démbele (who are among the fastest in the game). You want technically skilled players, but not Busquets (who is among the most skilled in the game).

      You seem to want players who are excellent at everything: fast, technically excellent, and strong. In short, a team of Messis. This won’t happen.

      Out of curiosity: Could you name more than three players out of our present squad of twenty-five that you are actually satisfied with? Who are they?

  13. luisthebeast
    July 4, 2018

    I know that nothing magic will happen,i am ready for a new season when i will see same things,Pique starter,Busi starter with 1 good game and 5 bad,Alba trying to find Messi and all that until a night game away at CL,in March when we will concede 3 goals and we will be out again.

    • Rivaldo
      July 5, 2018

      Luis…
      I understand what you are saying… And essentially I agree that we have not been good at transitioning as a club or fan base. They are those who still think Xavi should be with the club… And also those who can see no fault in the players they so love and adore; some people still think that Messi is the same player and that his “SMART PRESSING” (essentially not giving a damn to press or track back until he feels like) is a great thing… I wonder if all our players did that every game how they would feel. Cant be playing 11 vs 10 or even 9 every match. (I believe that even Neymar was fed up with that… I was a player myself and hated to see that from my teammates, we would shout at that guy)

      We need pace and agility in our team, we also need a midfielder with great balance and who can dictate the pace of a game. We need pace at the back along with some muscle (some Puyol rough house style included) tired of opposing attackers being shepherded into our box. We need a pacey, clinical Striker who can play Left Forward as well… If he can have a bit of an ariel threat that would be a plus (mini Harry Kane anyone). Suarez isn’t dead but I do not believe we cannot ignore what the eye test has shown…

      I honestly believe we shouldn’t cast aside what we have seen with our eye test entirely and subject failures to mere blips but address key areas. WE haven’t been great by any stretch of the imagination. Our defense was great because of our system last year, and individually there is much to be done.

      I think Roberto can sub for both Busquets and Rakitic, while a signing like Rabiot would offer useful height (something Busquets doesn’t offer…) and keep the guile in the midfield. A Thiago and an Arthur signing gives us opportunity to utilize possession better as both can dictate but more importantly PENETRATE on their own. Willian maybe old but has pace and isn’t as inconsistent as many claim. He actually is Chelsea’s most consistent attacker which is why he wants to leave and ManU want him – he never really got to play. He can offer us maturity on the right wing or capable of filling in as the LF. People are screaming for Lenglet… I don’t know why – maybe because he is CHEAP and young; a non-injured Vermalen option maybe? I prefer a player like Upamecano actually and not de Ligt either as a PRIMARY option. de Light offers passing and seems good at reading the game and will only get better. But Upamecano offers the same but with loads of pace and physicality at the same age!

      Or we could keep Busquets, Pique, Messi, bring bacg Xavi and all the fan favourites for the next 10 years and hope for the best. LA Masia right!

  14. Jim
    July 5, 2018

    Well, sign me up for your last paragraph right now !

    I’ve no argument with the notion that we need more pace. However, it’s clear the club have recognised that and are attempting to remedy it. That’s why Semedo was brought in and from what I’ve seen he should be good this season. The two CBs aren’t quick but are seldom caught out by pace alone. You have to remember it must be hell playing that position for our club ( or Spain). Your FBs are gone raiding for most of the game so you are gonna get pulled wide which is never comfortable, you are expected to pass with 100% accuracy against a press because if you make an error it’s a goal , your positional sense has to be top notch as there is no cover ( Busi on occasions maybe) and you have a great season defensively and it’s put down to the system.

    With Alba at LB, (one of ? ) also the quickest in the game you’re fine and anyway not gonna get a huge amount of pace plus the necessary quality . Are we really counting his great assists to Messi as a negative feature ? It is also worth noting that Pique is not slow. His weakness is turning quickly. If we are talking slow and needing pace why is nobody mentioning Rakitic, the slowest player in the squad ?

    If we look at the midfield for me Busi is a shoe-in because of his quality in a tight situation. He could have his pick of top teams if he left. If you’d rather play Rakitic there instead good luck to you against the press but I’ll be watching from behind the couch. That leaves ( for me) two places up for grabs now that Ini has gone. That’s where you need pace, passing and ability to carry the ball through the lines. I know nothing about Arthur but a lot of folks are telling me he’s great. He may be but I’d want to see him play first. Been caught too often like that before with Sanchez, Rakitic, the legion of journeymen brought in a couple of seasons ago with Gomes at their head. He will need, at least, a season to learn our ways but if as described would be a good asset.

    That leaves a space for Coutinho, genuine quality but can he play in a three man midfield ? He has pace with the ball but I’m not sure he has the stamina or physique for that at the moment, despite a great showing in the WC. The answer is staring us in the face but not sure the sporting team agree. Someone with a bit of pace, great passing, control, tested at the very top level and knows our ways inside out . . . The Bayern fan I mentioned I met in the Bavarian pub in Vegas put it better than me. He said that Thiago was a Barca player running around in a Bayern shirt. He added he’d be devastated to lose him but he’d be off and he seems to have been right about that.

    That leaves Messi, Suarez and Dembele up front. Sounds pretty good to me, although we need somebody of sufficient quality coming off the bench. I’m now hearing Arnaiz is off which is a pity. Think he was worth a tryout as sub. As for Messi and Suarez they don’t need me to defend them ( if I were lucky enough in Messi’s team the only shouting I’d do is to thank my lucky stars and the only eye I’d use for Suarez if I were going to would be the one that looks at the goals and assists columns. If I did look at the games I’d only become distressed at how poor our bodies in the box count was and how often Suarez was left on his own.

    For the last ten years we haven’t had a whack of pace or physicality in the side and we’ve done okay. Im all for it but I’m more concerned with quality. Still, we can have a close look at our ” failures” next season as we fail to win a trophy. Is that what folks are saying ? Will I see that reflected in our customary season’s predictions article in a mere few weeks from now?

    No, I’m hopeful our club knows what it’s doing and will come up with the right answers. I do think Messi’s first bit of business on arrival back in Barcelona would have been a quick call to Barto to make sure something was happening, though !

    Did I mention no way Willian ( or anyone else who suddenly has a good WC ? )

    • squeen
      July 6, 2018

      Jim, I am 100% with you. This desire for youth, pace and physicality is exactly what absolutely every single manager of every other team in every other league is looking for. Barca distinguishes itself (and calls to me as a fan) by being the exception to that rule—we favor smart, skilled, nimble, and (most importantly) team-oriented players.

      We started the LE era with a team that the majority of which couldn’t complete 3 consecutive passes together in tight spaces. Last year (and NOT the treble year), they started to look organized again. Time to dump everyone and start fresh with a bunch of wild young stallions? Whee! Off to the races!

      Impatient Foolishness.

      (…and as Kxevin once pointed out, slow, aging Iniesta OWNED Modric in each and every Classico.)

      • Rivaldo
        July 6, 2018

        Did you guys actually read what I have said?

        Why as everything I have commented on been reduced to youth and speed? (which we do need) Is it because of the previous commentator Luis or is this a general response to everything which asks us for some pace in our team.

        I asked if you guys were willing to keep Busquets, Pique, Messi at Barca for the next 10 years and also bring back Xavi to play for those years. If you answer is yes ten good luck to you but you haven’t quite gotten a grip on reality. You always need a succession plan.

        And why does agile and quick correlate to being “dumb” in football terms for most Barca fans? A side that had the real Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Abidal, Dani Alves, has Messi, Alba, etc.

        I made suggestions as well – Thiago is quicker than what we had/have. I suggested Upamecano (watch some German football and you’ll see why unless he regresses), etc.

        I also discussed how disgusted I am with Messi’s lack of press, etc and gave a full context – Let’s discuss that.

      • squeen
        July 6, 2018

        Your post was thoughtful and well support. Sorry if you thought I had an issue with it.

        However, I have grown tired of the constant refrain for “speed”. It’s the same old same old of those screaming all last year for Dembele and Semedo to get more playing time (over Roberto or Courtinho). IMHO its a simplistic and naive panacea—the first thing the support of any and every club calls for—nothing special, not particularly Barca, and frankly boring—that’s my only point.

        God I hope that France loses soon. All they’ve got is long balls and fast young legs. I’ll give up watching football if that’s what the game morphs into for the next 4 years.

  15. luisthebeast
    July 5, 2018

    The word i try to find Jim is physicality.Cules listen that word and are mad,thinking that means a brainless player,just fast and strong.
    But watch Modric.A 33 y old,short,who run at the field,win duels,jump for headers,pass the ball around,make assists and scores.
    That i mean physicality.The guy it s clear that he did A LOT work with his fitness all that years.
    If then look at some of our high paid 30y old players you cant see that.
    I dont have problem with legends or players that served the club well.
    But yeah i would paid to have a LB like Lucas Hernandez or a CB like Gimenez or a DM like Casemiro.
    Like it or not we are nt in 2008 anymore,football are changing and to win CL you need both technique and speed.

  16. Víctor
    July 6, 2018

    Really poor game from Uruguay today. While surely they missed Cavani I don’t think he would have made that much of a difference.

    People are gonna take a dig at Suarez for that loss, but they midfield was outplayed today… and they constantly tried to generate chances through high balls where most of the time they lost the duels… not a good game plan.

    Muslera’s mistake was big, but even if it didn’t happen it seems that France would have gone through without too much trouble to be honest…

  17. ugo nze
    July 7, 2018

    pls Barcelona boards. bring me Douglas Costa.. that guy is a G guy..

  18. Víctor
    July 7, 2018

    Really think that Brazil got unlucky yesterday. Yes, Belgium had the better tactics, but even then, Brazil managed to create several chances that went wasted because lack of precision. Belgium is not that good at defending and it showed…

    Of course, Belgium also wasted a few chances, but still…

    By the way, people were commenting about how quick counters are the way to defeat Brazil and how Mexico didn’t use that… thing is: Mexico did employ that same tactic against Brazil, just like they did against Germany… but there were two differences:

    1) Tite knew Mexico would try that and therefore had Brazil’s FBs not go very high on the pitch
    2) Filipe Luis played instead of Marcelo (because the latter was injured) and Luis is a more defensive minded full back

    Take for example Brazil’s CKs against Mexico, they just sent 4 players into Mexico’s box, they had men ready in case Mexico got the ball and tried to break on the counter.

    Brazil probably tried this with Belgium too, but they were unfortunate with that own goal (hey, amazing player there) and had to switch to a more offensive tactic that led to deadly Belgium counters…

  19. Víctor
    July 7, 2018

    I also hate how people always blame the manager for a loss, even when it wasn’t on him. Tite is not the one guilty for Brazil’s defeat… he made the correct adjustments when going down 2-0 and, even so, Brazil trailing the game wasn’t his fault… it was a complete mistake… Belgium didn’t force that own goal. Before that first Belgium goal, Brazil had a very clear chance to take the lead…

    Tite managed to train a very reliable Brazil side, they just got unlucky last night. The chances for a remontada were there…

  20. Jim
    July 7, 2018

    It’s been an exciting WC but also a disappointing one for me. We’re not going to get a great winner because there are no great teams in it ( and certainly none left!)

    Germany didn’t look great from the start, Spain attempted suicide several times ( sacking manger, appointing Hierro, playing with no courage) and finally achieved it by leaving out Iniesta and Thiago when their game was crying out for creativity. Argentina deservedly went out.

    Uruguay and Brazil I think were for me a little unlucky. France’s first goal was a complete one in a hundred fluke and the second even more unlikely while Brazil to me were the better side but with the usual defensive frailties. They had loads of chances. Always sad to see them going out but no great sympathy for Neymar.

    I remember saying that I was worried about Neymar when he tootled off to celebrate his sister’s birthday and I took a little flack for saying that I didn’t like his play acting ( I still remember the Scott Brown incident) didn’t think he had improved at all since he arrived at Barca and that he was in danger of being a show pony. Well, I’m afraid that’s all he was at this WC and an embarrassing one at that. If he wants to be the best ( and he still could be ) he has to learn from the best and he was in the best place to do it. Now he’s in a cul de sac, needing to leave PSG but unable to force it. Having said all that I’d take him back if he showed some humility .

    So, on to the most important point. I need somebody to beat England, not fussy who. If they win it they will be the worst ever winners for me. Their games are deadly dull but there has arisen a horrible inevitability about them beating poor sides. I was about to say they could go all the way only playing one decent side, Belgium, and being beaten by them but as I write Croatia have thankfully equalised. Be in no doubt. If England win we will all suffer for at least the next 50 years ! Can’t believe Neville pontificating about the Croatian keeper’s ” error” for the goal. He was maybe a yard or two further out but that was just a great shot.

    Luis, I’ve nothing against physicality. I just don’t rate it or speed as highly as quality. You need some, but It’s certainly not needed in every position. I would argue that it’s useful up front and I’d rather have a pacy CB everything else being equal but as long as the ball moves faster than the player it’s not huge. ( I think Modric is a great player but not been as impressed as you by his performance in this WC), although I need him to play well to beat England !) what we do need is the ability to press other teams for spells. Without that we will suffer. Don’t know if we don’t spend enough time at the moment or not on that.

    For me, the main reason we get into bother is through how high we play our FBs . That leaves precious little cover for emergencies. I’ve said before I think we could work out a one goes so one stays situation. We’ve seen that this year a little with Jordi Alba using his speed to cover for the CBs but he’s not always there. However, I’m confident EV is aware of the issue. With more firepower up front hopefully it will be easier to work on it.

    Had a chance to look at Arthur on YouTube ( I know). Strikes me as a tough little mid with decent passing ability who likes to go past people. Not so sure about technical ability. Seems to me a little head down at his feet and last minute adjustments to beat opponents but certainly more impressive than any of the mids we’ve bought recently. Yes, count me (provisionally ) excited but I’ll be more so when we realise we need Thiago.

    • Víctor
      July 7, 2018

      I can’t really blame Hierro, though… he was appointed two days before the tournament started… he accepted the challengue and, logically, failed… he was in a very complicated position to be honest: had Spain won the World Cup the credit would have to the players and Lopetegui; if Spain failed he would get all the blame, as we are seeing.

      Yes, not starting Iniesta against Russia calls for questioning… but maybe it wasn’t that bad of an idea, the opponent was Russia, FFS, not a very strong NT… in theory Spain should be able to defeat them without playing at full power… and, even so, once Iniesta entered the field he didn’t make that much of a difference… sure thing, Spain improved, but not that much…

      And totally agree on Brazil. I mean, I like to see them going out (never liked the Brazilian NT) but they got unlucky yesterday. These types of tournaments also show what many of us know but are kinda afraid to admit: luck and circumstances can also play an important factor in the results. A stupid mistake, a moment of genious, an injury or suspension, a wrong strategy, a ref’s mistake, etc… can change the result in an important matter.

      People say that Messi had been a big flop with Argentina, but man, I also remember that Argentina was so close to scoring against Germany 4 years ago. Had any one of those chances been a goal then the narrative would have been waaaaaaaay different. Same goes for Spain, by the way, in the 2010 final Netherlands had a very important chance in a counter… a Robben shot that Casillas managed to save…

      That’s why I favor VAR a lot… it isn’t perfect and it surely isn’t being used in a way to analize every ref’s decision, but at least it’s gonna help in most of the crucial ones… at least VAR is gonna help in making that ref’s decisions do not affect results as much…

  21. Víctor
    July 7, 2018

    Rakitic should take Barcelona’s PK. He scored Croatia’s decisive penalty… twice! Barça twitter doesn’t value him enough.

    It’s kinda strange, Rakitic isn’t appreciated because he isn’t Xavi. Yet, when someone compares other players to Xavi (Kroos, Modric, De Bruyne, etc.) Barcelona twitter comes instantly to Xavi’s defense, saying how he was/is the best midfielder ever and it will take ages to see someone like him again… yet, at the same time, undermines Rakitic because he isn’t Xavi.

    Besides, I haven’t seen a bad Rakitic game in Croatia’s NT so far… he’s legit, dudes, he should stay.

    • Víctor
      July 7, 2018

      Not to mention that Modric almost fucked up his penalty… doesn’t change the fact that he is also a great midfielder, though… despite that he plays for our eternal rivals.

  22. TITO
    July 7, 2018

    Well, some like him, some not.
    We, who like him, like him because of who he is.
    Those who don’t like him, don’t like him because of who they want him to be.
    That’s the difference.

    Anyway, he was and always will be a great Penalty taker.
    And, among 5 oustanding players of this WC so far for me.

  23. luisthebeast
    July 7, 2018

    If board wants to sell Paulinho for 50m and use that money to buy Willian for 80m then that would be more stupid than buying Paulinho for 40m last summer.

  24. luisthebeast
    July 7, 2018

    I think cules underestimate the difficulty the team are now.From Pep era there are only Pique Busquets Messi and from Enrique era Suarez Alba Rakitic.
    Most of them are at their 30.
    Semedo did nt had a great start and Umtiti it s months now that he is nt at great form.
    Dembele needs time and Coutinho to adapt.
    Going to new season where team will play around 60 games and having a bench of Paco Denis Roberto Digne Alena would you be optimist?
    I mean that team have no a Suarez back up,no DM back up,no LB solid back up,no RW back up,no LW.
    And even if we try to be optimists,do you trust Denis Paco Digne e.t.c to be much much better than what we saw in 2 seasons?
    Doubt it.

  25. Half and Half
    July 8, 2018

    Paulinho gone:
    a) that’s good.
    b) definitely nothing suspicious about his deal(s). Oh no. Nothing whatsoever. Nothing to see here….

    • georgjorge
      July 9, 2018

      Could you elaborate a bit in what direction you are thinking here?

      I agree that Paulinho being recruited by Barca (including the token “a dream has come true” comments from him, see also https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/dec/21/paulinho-barcelona-clasico-tottenham-china) and then going back to a far inferior team for a higher price after a promising season sounds not entirely right. But I don’t quite know which suspicion to have here ; )

      In other news, Luis Enrique is Spain’s new national coach. After his period at Barcelona, I’m interested in seeing how he manages a team which is in some ways very different, i.e. no world-beaters upfront to structure the entire team around but a LOT of quality on all the other positions. If he can bring Spain to a high level again, very well done.

    • July 10, 2018

      Paulinho gets to be the star of his new old team, will be getting 14 million per year
      – almost triple of what he gets in Barça right now – and a four-year contract. These will probably be the last years of his career, this is the last paycheck.

      I´m not sure I like his leaving that much – according to the press he was very liked in the team and the players didn´t really want him to leave. His physical presence may very well be missed.

  26. PPos
    July 9, 2018

    I think the Paulinho sale was a smart one. He was never our typical Barcelona player and he is probably in the decline of his career. What worries me is why Andre Gomes, Vidal and Douglas are still doing here.
    The signing of Arthur Melo has become official. I hope he can perform like in his highlight reels. He has good ball skills, and passing range and moves, and youth and energy which is what our midfield needs and has been lacking.
    Seeing a move for Thiago would make my summer. Maybe we can make a deal with Bayern and give them Gomes? That would be cool. What does anybody think of the potential sale of CR7 to Juventus? I think it’s good for us since it will weaken Madrid and possibly end their CL domination. They’re probably going to push hard for Mbappe.

  27. georgjorge
    July 10, 2018

    The Spanish Super Cup will be held in August between Sevilla and Barcelona. The “intention for the game is to be held in Tangier” (according to officials). League officials have been more vocal in supporting league games abroad over the last years because a bigger TV audience means more money. Is this the second step after synchronising the starting time of the Clásico with the Asian market?

  28. ugo nze
    July 10, 2018

    Cristiano Ronaldo: ” these years in Real Madrid, and in
    this city of Madrid, have been possibly the happiest of
    my life.
    I only have feelings of huge thanks for this club, for
    this hobby and for this city. I can only thank all of
    them for the affection and affection I have received.
    However, I think the time has come to open a new
    stage in my life, and that’s why I asked the club to
    accept me. I am so sorry and I ask everyone, and
    especially our followers, please understand me.
    It’s been 9 years absolutely wonderful. It’s been 9
    unique years. It has been for me an exciting time, full
    of consideration but also hard because real madrid is
    of a very high demand, but I know very well that I can
    never forget that here I have enjoyed football in a
    unique way.
    I’ve had in the field and in wardrobe to some fabulous
    companions, I’ve felt the heat of an amazing hobby
    and together we have won 3 Champions in a row and 4
    CHAMPIONS IN 5 years. And next to them, on an
    individual level, I am pleased to have won 4 GOLD
    BALLS AND 3 Gold boots. Everything during my stage
    in this huge and extraordinary club.
    Real Madrid has won my heart, and that of my family,
    and for that more than ever I want to say thank you:
    thanks to the club, to the president, to managers, to
    my colleagues, to all technicians, doctors, physiology
    and amazing workers That make everything work and
    that they are pending every detail tirelessly.
    Thanks infinite once again to our followers and thanks
    also to Spanish football. During These 9 years exciting
    I’ve been in front of great players. My respect and my
    recognition for all of them.
    I have thought a lot and I know the time has come for
    a new cycle. I’m leaving but this t-shirt, this shield and
    Santiago Bernabéu I’ll keep feeling always like
    something mine is where I am.
    Thank you all and, of course, as I said that first time in
    our stadium 9 years ago: Hala Madrid!”
    https://facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fbit.ly%2FCartaCristiano&h=AT0IXTdrnGqKpb1Kf2XKP3um2MPhRHLNcb6C9ZWNxZpxOFvAkFd8m-YQXZf_rV9jqX-lXD7V_Vn9ZlebPb6it_ZPljCiDUWJof-amLgOZnNgxtOoCVbpKmm42sdVisWKZuGg08hgNxpUIpkCookj8u8nRsTRzbm8q6FcHls3ZT_ItrwnnoMitsq_7FTRHxVobkehaZbYaKKhyNzdzvqQSMxVZbC9gSV_-vosp0a41RpbnlaWD_vLvU9XWaEr1rjB6OBTgtvxcrbI0FXQDtVN4XKstjcBmIdwa9UZVH0IOVxzOstiJXOfFIidl5XfV82uy2w-IhR9NFPRVlGMdfmv7QWEo_AUChKUCd5zaIn_9fswuYr7iQMWm6oFyrTqkxzYjmHF7RLiT-7I9Bg8NCiUqKUvrn4M3EfemRIk3X_8EHK9gA5DjPU_MBw6ZXPxYUMHTv3VhDnpcdYTsHvJ8Omx-2bShqQ2agzi4ug2QNRJadTCADhKeD8aoQLqdy3eWMGl0Y-4N-efKReW0Hm94arVVxQHtnJu7dt8QHMw8favIm-49vOxoqeypdkf7c2htVGjP_DYy1H_-sVeE_qy9fQ7Lmyv6EbyIK_BMN-C704X2FeMbPyslPzE1Uhj4ZdLCJ4ryVEzys6lVAn_V9WrBXLVDCePrHQs4JXB7fWIx1N3kPD4UPw9ntoprn57QKdGlhCjgujk_Ptgob9Xvl_33ZlDus9uEsyw25-3ROmR94EKNjVz4XZJVL___1A13likqRedY9Da9RDTLurjYShihLN3IB_k9xz6EmL5OYEh0KPctE8valqUWXGAH4njc8FIRiAN8vNLlVb0n_U_UgaIKz6xRfbYNcGec1CN80ykPXRKdtC0LTJ9xvnat44ldyP4gRGI2J4p_GXVNuidZa4OJWSMdOr34WySsF5_2tR2QfeYCXBD43vY1sVD9koeC3MFkW8Mkwp2ORRCQx3sbAs3F-pdpDGTSKj_mCqONC3k4xZW_JQ2EL7XTHm0gASU4KB1efOI8CdWEpKs86_COKWFXBFnjFQbpt6uSUaGX5nlOHeOGPM85WYwaj9wiXgQtT_F5IrY

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