World Cup Review: Semifinals

The semifinals of the World Cup are a rare and strange mix of art, circumstance, and tense interaction formed around the 4 teams lucky enough to be involved. Thankfully, this version saw two very exciting games, although they were exciting for very different reasons. The comparisons in style of play alone were staggering enough with neo-Total Football (which should more accurately be called a shell of its former self, having its spirit moved down to Barcelona and its corpse left rotting in a ditch behind Cruyff’s house — i.e., they have become boring and predictable, but football monikers hang around for a long time) facing off against Uruguay relying almost totally on Diego Forlan and cutting runs with little ability to adequately possess and the “youthful exuberance” of the “new” Germany opposing tiki-taka, Barca lite Spain. Two past champions attempting to regain the form of years gone by opposing the two best sides to have never won the Cup. It doesn’t get much better.

Clive Mason/Getty Images Europe

World Cup Bracket

Uruguay v. Netherlands: Uruguay, for all intents and purposes are this year’s South Korea. A tiny nation making it all the way to the semis with some luck, a very favorable draw, and a couple of bright shining stars. They should also be given credit, however, for winning the games they had to and gritting it out when things were tough. Holland, on the other hand, are, and have been, a top 3 team in the world since Euro 2008. A bunch of superstar attackers buoyed by former (or upcoming) greats in the back and a surprisingly good goalkeeper (the best so far outside of the horrendous mistake in this match). Two styles that both makes for frenetic action as both sides are wont to make horrible defensive lapses and equally likely to put it in on the counter.

The game did not start out as tentative as most semifinals do. The Oranje controlled much of the possession but this was broken up by constant forays forward from Caceres (who apparently is still alive) and Maxi Pereira feeding to Forlan up front. Uruguay showed some danger up front in the first but the eventual breakthrough came from van Bronckhorst, a once and former blaugrana defender, releasing a rocket from the left and hitting the upper 90 right in a definite candidate for goal of the games. After that, possession swung wildly between the two sides before an equalizer came off the foot of Forlan, fooling Stekelenburg and making this a game again. The remainder of the first half showed Holland shell-shocked from the goal and Uruguay unable to capitalize.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images Europe

In the second however, this one turned into the Oranje show, as it has all tournament. Sure Forlan nearly gave the baby blues the lead with a curling freekick, but the Dutch were far more dangerous all across the pitch, if only because the Uruguyan defense turned into a tentative and scared bunch around the 46th.. Eventually the pressure wore the Uruguayans down and 2 goals in 3 minutes from Sneijder and Robben looked to have sealed this one, and the removal of Forlan shortly thereafter seemed the final nail in the coffin. But the Ghost of Suarez reared his head and determined to make this a game again with multiple (missed) opportunities in the waning minutes for the Uruguyans, culminating in a goal for Periera on a nice strike and Van Bommel’s first yellow card (somehow it took him 6 games to get one) of the tournament for premature celebration when he thought the game was over. Eventually chances were squandered and this game died the way it came on, in confusing and exciting fashion.

The Netherlands, it must be said, have done an impeccable job of holding off just as much firepower as they can while getting lucky enough, or simply being better, to hold on for wins. Pundits may love Sneijder (and rightly so) and they may talk about VDV and van Persie more, but without Robben, this team is a shell of what it might be. Robben’s inside cuts from the right are deadly and keep many defenses from collapsing onto Sneijder. Van Persie has been known to take up space, but much like Fernando Torres, he has provided so little offensively, he’s almost a nuisance at times. But complain as I might about the lack of precision passing, movement, depth, touch, or overall prowess, the Netherlands are the only undefeated side left in the tournament (although New Zealand went our undefeated), and they have beat at least 2 good teams to get to the Finals, and deserve it more than maybe Spain or Germany.

Uruguay must “settle” for the Third-place match, but they should not get down on themselves. They went through an incredible run largely on the shoulders of Forlan and Suarez and should the overall importance of getting a favorable draw. A lively group that were in on nearly every super exciting moment and left an indelible impression on the Games. Uruguay 2, Netherlands 3

MOTM: Robben. I still believe that without him, this team is rudderless against good teams. He creates space for himself and gets where he needs to be.

Spain v. Germany: If the above game was show of madcap antics in the attacking third and defensive lapses abounding, this was, as Zonal Marking said, the most exciting 1-0 game you will ever find. Spain dominated but Germany found their chances, and well, FC Barcelona shined brighter than usual.

Die Mannschaft, 3-time champions and normally only described as stoic on offense and hard in defense have been a marauding and fun to watch force this tournament, scoring 14 goals in 5 games and dropping 4 on England and Argentina along the way. Conversely, La Furia Roja have played tight, possession-oriented, pressure-filled games throughout, really only dominating Honduras in any noticeable way. So of course the Germans are going to roll through Spain after wearing them down in the second half.

What followed should have been shocking to very few people as Spain was tactically superior on and off the ball, in defense and on the attack. A few statistics, again from our good friends at Zonal Marking as well as the New York Times Goal Blog: Xavi had 28 more touches than any other player, completed 20 more passes than any other player; Busquets completed 39 of 40 in the first half; Spain in general had 61% of possession. Pique and Puyol kept Klose in check, allowing him 1 measly shot that originally deflected off the head of Ramos and the Germans realistically only had one good shot, from Kroos directly at Casillas. Spain were dominant with only Alonso having a marginally bad game (and it wasn’t so bad, it just stood out around the others).

Pedro moved exquisitely off the ball, creating space, making runs, taking shots, passing and generally doing everything this Spanish team needs to do in order to win (his lack of a pass that would have sealed the game towards the end notwithstanding). He proved he belongs and should start again on Sunday. Of course we cannot forget Puyol who had an absolute monster game in the back after being abused by Cardozo last week. His goal of course was massive and an almost carbon copy of his goal at the Bernabeu in the 6-2 thrashing of Mardid 2 years ago. Casillas also came up big when he needed to and has looked very good after a very shaky outing against Switzerland. All in all, a dominant performance from Spain with some flashes from Germany.

Cameron Spencer/Getty Images Europe

However, we cannot forget the Germans. They played well on the counter, but it was not to be. They were tentative and made minimal efforts to actually take the ball and possession from the Spanish and even when they figured out the best way to take it from Iniesta was to foul him, they did a poor job. This was not all due to Germany though as this game was likely won by hard work in pressing in defense, especially from Capdevila, Pique, Puyol, and Busquets, allowing Ramos to run free. Germany was likely the best side in the tournament until this game, but going from playing sides with no defensive acumen to one with 3 world class defenders, a top 5 keeper, and some of the best pressing mids in the world is not a good recipe for these boys.

In the end we will have a new Cup winner, and it’s probably for the best, but we need it to be Spain. The strange ring of commentators calling Spain’s win “boring” came up after the game, and if that gameplan is boring, then I guess the only thing that is exciting now if counter-attacking, so shoot me. Spain play the game how it should be done and with 7 Barça players likely to start, it just keeps getting better. Playing the Netherlands may be a dream come true for some in Spain as it will be much easier for Spain to hold and keep possession for long periods of time against a dramatically smaller and less active Dutch defense. If the Oranje play a high line it could be over early, but if the pressure doesn’t come from Puyol and Pique, Robben will have a field day. Let’s hope it’s a good one for Barça because Spain go as the blaugrana do. Spain 1, Germany 0

MOTM: Xavi. His work rate and passing were phenomenal and he’s starting to make a case for inclusion in Player of the Tournament talks.

Finals Fixtures
Spain v. Netherlands, July 11, 2:30 pm EST
Uruguay v. Germany, July 10, 2:30 pm EST

FC Barcelona Players in the Finals
Spain: V. Valdes, Busquets, David Villa, Iniesta, Xavi, Pedro, Puyol, Pique
Uruguay: M. Caceres (3rd Place Game)

Golden Boot Leaders (still active):
David Villa: 5
Wesley Sneijder: 5
Arjen Robben: 2

Golden Ball Candidates (my guess):
David Villa – Spain
Andres Iniesta – Spain
Xavi Hernandez – Spain
Wesley Sneijder – Netherlands
Arjen Robben – Netherlands
Bastian Sweinsteiger – Germany

First Update
Second Update
Third Update
Fourth Update
Fifth Update
Round of 16 Update
Quarterfinals Update

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  1. boat forever
    July 8, 2010

    Caceres has been very good for Uruguay

    • Clue(less) John
      July 9, 2010

      He only played 1 match and he played well, not very well in my opinion. On one play Robben just abused him, I don’t see him as a player that can unseat Abidal, maybe loan him out 1 more year and bring him back in 2011 to replace Maxwell. He is not good enough to start for us yet. Neither is Van der Weil if you ask me, but he is a nice prospect for a year or two down the road, when we sell Dani to try to recoup some money.

  2. jnelson
    July 8, 2010

    Glad to see Spain in the final. Sad to see Messi go home. He played very well, and surprisingly, I have become a fan of Maradumber as a coach. He just inspires confidence and team unity so well. I actually hope he continues. Wow, I just said that.

    I was rooting for Uruguay in their game. Suarez shouldn’t be portrayed so negatively when any other footballer would have done the same. I view it very similar to a tactical foul. It’s not like he controlled the ball twice with his hand to pass and score. Right?

    Xabi Alonso has been disappointing. Yes, Spain kept the cleansheet and he was a holding mid, but he loses possession way too often, is called for many fouls, and shoots off target too often. Pass the ball if you can’t put it on target. Busi, in my opinion, is playing so well that Xabi Alonso may not even feature as a starter within the next year, once Del Bosque can trust Busi by himself.

    • July 9, 2010

      i do think that spain should keep playing 2 holding mids.
      there is simply no way through it for the opposing team.
      now i wish yaya was still here and pep sometimes uses yaya and busi in midfield against stronger oppositions.

      ive not been a fan of alonso either but stepped it up in the 2nd half of the semi-final.

      those people who make a lot of noise about suarez should watch NBA sometimes. how they purposely foul a player to send him to the line.

  3. Clue(less) John
    July 9, 2010


    sorry about the caps, didn’t know it was on

  4. poipoi
    July 9, 2010

    people always doubted about pedro!! he is so used to it… I remember hearing my dad saying that it was a bad decision to put a 21 year old there… and many friends saying that busi was not ready for WC, the two have been outstanding so far.

    I fear the dutch even more than the germans (kuyt persie robben sneijder > podolsky klose trochowsky oezil … that kuyt dude is hard as a rock, he may trash ramos) although we did kick some german asses last game, we should be able to do the same in the final with all the world watching. que viva el futbol que viva españa

    all those people saying we play in a boring way. it’s only envy, they hired capello!! lol … xavi & iniesta are boring yesssss 😀

  5. July 9, 2010

    imagine het oranje plays defensively like the swiss or like sneijder’s inter. im sure he gave van marwijk some tips on how to play against barca.

    clueless john, you can just copy your words into ms word and convert the words into lowercase from UPPERCASE.

  6. poipoi
    July 9, 2010

    hlebter is going to do preseason with us??? oh yeah 😀

  7. July 9, 2010

    Ronaldo’s sister Katia said: ‘We don’t know the mother and we’ve never met her. We don’t think it’s strange that a man like Cristiano brings up a child on his own – even if some people do.’

    what kind of family is this???
    and why on earth is he leaving his baby behind?
    selfish bastard!

    back to something funny.
    look at his face..
    trynna imitate marlon brando(godfather)


  8. Luke
    July 9, 2010

    Golden Ball nominees have been announced according to 4-4-2: Golden Ball nominees: Villa, Xavi, Iniesta, Schweinsteiger, Ozil, Sneijder, Robben, Messi, Forlan, Gyan

    Glad to see 4 Barça players here, although the inclusion of Sneijder, Messi, and Gyan at the expense of any defenders is staggering. I think Messi had an excellent tournament, but not Golden Ball worthy. And Sneijder scored some goals but at least 2 were deflections. Hopefully it is Xavi or Iniesta.

    • poipoi
      July 9, 2010

      it has to be man, it has to be!! imagine they give it to BOTH, I’m selecting a cliff to jump off from and die happily

    • July 9, 2010

      I think it will be Sneijder, taking his club and his national team achievements in consediration, and his performance this season.

      • poipoi
        July 9, 2010

        sneijder deserves it for this year, although not that much if spain wins the final. xavi for his career and to spanish football I think, they once gave it to cannavaro after a WC you know. xavi to me is way better than sneijder or has always played better. now is the time

      • Jnice
        July 9, 2010

        Sneijder hasn’t impressed me at all this tournament, but he will surely win it if Netherlands win. If Spain win, depending on whether or not Villa will score, he or Xavi will win it.

        • Kurt
          July 10, 2010

          I know he won’t get it (they’ll pick Sneijder or a Spanish player), but I think Forlan deserves it. No one else on this list has been so indispensable to his team. Superb, yes; indispensable, no. Also unlike most of the others, Forlan hasn’t benefitted from a team of weapons who can deflect the opposition’s attention. Every team knows they must stop Forlan alone (and maybe Suarez…) and yet they’ve been unable to do it effectively. Leading a nation of 3 million to the semifinals is pretty legit.

          Finally, it’s kind of embarrassing that defenders and GKs have been completely ignored. They do a lot too…

          • poipoi
            July 10, 2010

            true, but he won’t get it. and he’s thirtysomething right?

          • inNYC
            July 10, 2010

            I am inclined to agree. Not that I didn’t know Forlan was a great player, but what he did here was really special.

  9. vicsoc8
    July 9, 2010

    Am I reading this wrong, or is Sport saying Guardiola’s new contract will only last one year?

    • July 9, 2010

      i have been wondering about that too.
      or was it like this, before this he said he will stay for another season.
      but it wasnt signed on paper though. and now he said one more year.
      correct me if im wrong

  10. Ryan
    July 9, 2010

    Can’t either Muller or Klose (both with 4 goals, right?) still score against Uruguay and nab the golden boot? Or for that matter Forlan or Suarez?

    Either way I’m hoping it’s Villa that wins it!

  11. Blow-Grenade
    July 9, 2010

    Excellent analysis Luke. Pleasure to read.

    • July 9, 2010

      thanks jnice.

      i would be so depressed if pedro is dropped for the final and benched at barca for ibra.

      • Jnice
        July 9, 2010

        I mean Pedro can’t just be an automatic starter. He will get his fair share of games just like he got last season. If we holdon to Ibra, there are many combinations for our front line.

        As for the final, I think Torres’ experience will give him the nod for the match. Also, on a podcast, Sid Lowe or Graham Hunter said Torres might be more focused now with the realization he isn’t an automatic starter.

  12. the athlete
    July 9, 2010

    So we’re broke now ? 24m wasted on that Ukranian and Kerrison, Txiki has much to answer for. I wouldn’t be suprised if his next job is with traffic, in fact I think it definetly will be

    July 9, 2010

    please sandro bring back txiki!there are some players in brazil palmeiras very good!we will buy them for only 40million and we loan them until the end of the world…by
    the way friend athlete i don.t think txiki need to work again in his life..thats my post for today clueless jhon!happy???

    July 9, 2010

    i forget to welcome antoni to our team!i was in stadium than night we lost to A.C milan..what a sad night!welcome antoni!

  15. Kxevin
    July 9, 2010

    Every team takes transfer risks, and gets them wrong. Such things aren’t exclusive to us. Fact of the matter is who knows how Keirrison would have worked in our system, since Guardiola didn’t try him. But I can only imagine that a poacher who is quick to the ball would do very well. He definitely isn’t ready for first team duties, but everyone knew that when he was signed.

    As for Txigrinski, we all know the deal there. Guardiola wanted to keep him, the board didn’t, which explains why Guardiola has only renewed for one year. Pretty soon, there will be someone else to second guess.


    –We’re talking to Depor about Filipe Luis again. It’s a safe bet that Lendoiro won’t be such a butthead this time about the negotiations. Maxwell would probably slide more into a midfield role, which wouldn’t be a bad thing, given his skills there.

    –Hleb will start with us for the pre-season, determined to fight for a place on the squad. Let’s hope he’s learned some Spanish.

    –Marquez is almost certainly out. Apparently his meeting didn’t go as well as he expected. Makes sense.

    –Andreu Fontas will get first-team duties this season. He was going to sign with West Ham, then talked to Guardiola, who promised him a shot. He’s the business, and one of our crop of talented center backs, along with Muniesa (who we should also expect to see this season with the first team, getting a serious look).

    • BA
      July 9, 2010

      i like Fontas. he’s big and tall and fast, but most importantly grown up in the Barca system. Pique 2.0, let’s hope. maybe Hleb can fit in, if given an actual midfield spot.


      • Kxevin
        July 9, 2010

        I have my doubts about Hleb, but would be happy to be proved wrong. Midfield possession cover would be of immense value, particularly cover that we didn’t have to pay a transfer fee for.

        • DontPanic
          July 9, 2010

          I’d take Hleb back with open arms. That is if he is ready to work and not sulk. Last year we let him and Gudjohnsen go but we didn’t bring anyone for midfield cover. And it showed we made a mistake because Xavi had to play ludicrous amount of minutes. Hopefully next year Iniesta stay healthy and we bring someone, even a canterano, to give Xavi some rest.

  16. July 9, 2010

    The octopus says Spain will win. He hasn’t been wrong yet.

    –I’ve been thinking more and more about this whole “Barca ain’t got no dough thing,” in the context of Valencia, who really got no dough, so they sold their two best (and more sellable) players, in effect damaging the club to preserve its future.

    So you’ll know when we’re in trouble, when the likes of Messi and Iniesta go on the block. That would be probably around 200m right there, were they to be sold today.

  17. Jnice
    July 9, 2010

    Regarding Maxwell, the word is that if we sign another left back, Maxwell will be Dani’s backup at RB.

    I think Lendoiro will be hard to negotiate with again because Atletico Madrid tried for Luis Filipe and found Deportivo hard to difficult with and negotiations stopped.

  18. the athlete
    July 9, 2010

    If Paul the octopus says Spain will win it then put everything you own on it and if you can borrow some money then lash that on too.

    Marquez leaving is a good thing, he’s a disaster waiting to happen whenever I see him and super slow now too.

    I’d rather go a few years without signing the worlds beat players to safeguard the clubs future than spending money we clearly don’t have. On that note I now think Fabregas is now a luxury we can’t afford and don’t really need which is bad for him if he has to stay at arsenal with what he’s been prompted to say over the summer.

    • DontPanic
      July 9, 2010

      Not sorry for him at all. If he wanted to come back to Barca why did he sign with Arsenal ’till 2015? And when Barca won a few titles suddenly he is aching to come back. Bugger that. He should respect his contract with Arsenal and stay put at least until 2012/2013. Then if wants to come back, he can do so on the cheap.

    July 9, 2010

    kxevin how do you know that pep wanted tsigrinski to stay?pep don.t say anything about that please stop that thing

    • Kxevin
      July 9, 2010

      According to both Sport and EMD, after a conversation between Guardiola and Txigrinski it was clear that the Ukranian defender was in his plans for the coming season. When the sale decision was made, Guardiola again spoke to Txigrinski, saying that the board (read: Rosell) decided to sell him, for fiscal reasons. Txigrinski has come out of this determined to prove Rosell wrong by becoming the world-class defender that he has the potential to be.

      And I’ll make a deal with you: I’ll stop reporting facts if you stop assuming that your supposition is fact.


      • DontPanic
        July 9, 2010

        That whole Chiggy affair was/is sad. I wanted the boy to succeed, not just because he played for Barca, but because he seemed like a nice person. Down to earth and humble. But you have to admit he was completely frozen out of the team by the end of the season. I can’t remember him playing at all. Pep probably disliked his sale, but I doubt he’ll throw a hissy fit over it. But if Rosell starts taking offers for, lets say Iniesta or Pique, then I’ll start to worry.

        • Jim
          July 10, 2010

          I’d agree. Chiggy didn’t sulk, was learning the language and seemed a decent guy. Sad for him for it to end this way but I wasn’t surprised or upset on a footballing level.

  20. the athlete
    July 9, 2010 are reporting that now Kerrison is off to Santos because Fiorentina think he’s shit too. I don’t care if we’re not in 1 Euro of debt we shouldn’t be spending MY money on crap like him and that long haired Ukrainian waster.

    • Kxevin
      July 9, 2010

      Nonsense. We sold a defender who wasn’t given a fair chance. Did he evince some pace and judgment difficulties? Yes. So did Pique at the beginning. The difference was Pique stayed healthy, and got the time in the side. And now look.

      Go back and watch the early matches where Txigrinski featured before his injury, and you will see someone who was more than worth the time it would take to fully develop him. He’s only 22 years old. He was an exceptional attack starter from the back, very strong on set pieces and needed to learn how to work with a very active back line. Sorry, but Liga attackers run past Puyol just as quickly as they ran past Txigrinski. Nobody on our back line will set any land speed records. You make up for that with positioning, and learning how to fit into a back line.

      Instead what happened was fan bile became fact, and bad always overrides good, like the 20+ goals and almost 10 assists that are considered a “failure” for Ibrahimovic. Fact is that Rosell bailed on Txigrinski without finding out whether the potential that he showed was going to be realized. But make no mistake, the talent and potential are there to see. But it does require time. What if we had dumped Pedro in 2007, as most of the technical staff wanted? He was also deemed shit. Again, now look.

      As for Keirrison, he’s young and rather raw, from what I gather. I don’t know if you watched any of the Fiorentina matches in which he featured, but I did. I can see Fiorentina not wanting to blow a roster spot on a development player. In a real world, he goes to a club’s B side and learns to play in a particular club’s system. He will never have that luxury, so he’s probably doomed to be a flying dutchman striker. But “shit” he isn’t. Sometimes, players just don’t fit. It’s part of the game.

      And in fact, Keirrison’s landing at Santos is part of a deal that will give us rights of first refusal to a hot prospect that Santos have, Neymar.

      What should happen in this space, and frankly what used to happen (and still does, mostly) is that people take the time to research an opinion, then present a reasoned comment containing that opinion. I know that Greece Barca is new, and the athlete doesn’t post here often, but there is a tone present in this space, and that tone is a big part of what makes this space work so well.

  21. Jnice
    July 9, 2010

    Messi relaxing on the beach with his girlfriend in Brasil. How many matches did he play this season? He could use the rest.


    • Helge
      July 10, 2010

      I’m surprised that he can relax on that beach like a normal person. No bodyguards around him, just a very few fans asking for autographs. What is this for a kind of beach?

    • Kxevin
      July 9, 2010

      Just Tweeting right now of the collapse in a Johannesburg eatery. More coming, no news sources as of yet.

      • poipoi
        July 10, 2010

        at the moment he saw spain in the final… just kidding

  22. Blow-Grenade
    July 9, 2010

    Oracle Paul picks Spain to win the world cup.

  23. OhYes
    July 9, 2010

    Damn, why are people always so pissed when a prospect isn’t as good as people expected? I remember when Keirrison was signed and how people saw a lot of good talent in him etc. even before Barca signed him people were saying he was gonna be good in the future.

    It’s not there’s a club out there that gets it right 100% of the time. Gotta take the losses if you wanna win anything.

    Just chill out and he’s still 22. Give the poor guy a few years to mature before you start calling him trash.

    Also, I gotta back up Kevin’s thoughts on pre-injury Chygrynskiy. He was a major beast. I can’t even remember why he was injured but whatever it was really messed with his play. I can’t blame Guardiola for wanting to keep him since it’d be worth a shot to try and get him back to his former self.

    July 9, 2010

    i am pissed because it s not 1 prospect friend.hleb 15million caseres 16million henrique 10million keirison 14million tsigrinski 25=80million.what we are?overpayers of this world?we have a fucking fantastic academy and we spend money for shits.we are crazy.

    • Kxevin
      July 9, 2010

      No, we are not crazy. Fans are impatient, and often things don’t work out.

      There’s a difference. Would you rather be a club such as Arsenal, who don’t overpay, buy and sell wisely and don’t win silver? Or Barca, who take risks, win silver and sometimes, have to jettison players who don’t work in the system? Your call, but I know which one I prefer.

      “Overpayers of the world?” I don’t go much for exaggeration, but ask yourself, when you look at other clubs and what they do (surely you do that, right?) if that descriptive is still accurate.

      Hleb might still work out, even as Txiki admitted regret in signing him. He is starting the pre-season with us, and could evolve into valuable midfield cover. Again, look at his play before he was injured for your guidance.

      Keirrison is so young. Who knows. How might he do in Krkic’s spot, for example. We’ll never know, but he has talent that should be nurtured.

      Txigrinski has been dealt with above.

      Caceres is a young, talented fullback that just didn’t quite work out because of the talent that we had in place. Again, it happens. If he’s competing with Sylvinho or Zambrotta, it’s a different proposition than Alves and Abidal.

      Adriano is a class defender. Again, we can’t find space for him, because he isn’t yet as good as who we have. Should we play him just because we bought him, or send him somewhere to get the seasoning required to allow him to reach full potential. Same with Botia, by the by.

      Everyone talks about our academy, but there were NO prospects ready for prime time when those players were purchased. Right now, Fontas and Muniesa are ready, but what about the other positions? The academy has strikers, none of which are ready, nor are the midfielders quite yet. Which means we have to make purchases. We have needs at attacking midfield, defensive midfield, right and left back, needs that right now, the academy cannot provide.

      I’ll make the suggestion again: Research before you post, and if you’re going to dump on the club and its transfer policies, have your argument composed before you do so.

    • OhYes
      July 9, 2010

      Caceres wasn’t actually that bad, he was a great tackler but often times his nerves got the best of him. He’s only 23 and did a decent job for Uruguay at the WC. I used to hate him but I’ve changed my mind about him. His game against Atleti was probably his worst at Barcelona and he managed to recover much better than any other defender would have, I think.

      Keirrison hasn’t even played for Barcelona. He wasn’t terrible at Benfica and like I said he wasn’t given much of a chance. Italy+Fiorentina are different than Spain+Barcelona and I think it’s unfair to call him a fail when he hasn’t even played for the team. The thing about this signing is that it came at the wrong time, and that’s not really his fault. Barca was starting to put a lot of attention on Bojan when he came in and then Ibra and now Villa is here.

      Henrique and Hleb were meh (Hleb was too lazy) and I’ve already given my opinions on Chiggy. These are all typical for a big club. Expensive, yea, but Barcelona is a huge successful and rich club. It’s kinda hard to get away with being frugal when everyone knows you have bank.

      The academy has produced a lot of talent but it’s impossible to be highly successful on both the domestic league and the CL/EL without transfers from outside. It’s also kinda ludicrous to expect the academy to produce people like Xavi, Iniesta, Perdo, etc. all the time every time. Lots of failures/average players have come out of there.

  25. Luke
    July 9, 2010

    Here are some stats from Brian Phillips amazing Run of PLay blog about Spain:

    “Stats reality check: Spain are leading the tournament in distance covered in possession. They’ve run 20km farther than the second-place team. They’re sixth in distance covered when not in possession.
    They’re also leading the tournament in shots, solo runs, attacks (from center, right, and left), deliveries in the penalty area (they’ve had 57; the second-place team has 38), passes completed (short, medium, and long), pass completion percentage, crosses, crosses completed, and corners. They’re third in shots on goal, five ahead of Germany and ten ahead of Brazil, and fourth in shots blocked. They’ve been tackled more than any other team in the tournament, have drawn fewer yellow cards than any team except North Korea, and have been offside fewer times than any team to make the quarterfinals.
    They’re sixth in goals scored. In short, they’re boring, all right.”

  26. vicsoc8
    July 9, 2010

    Some of Txiki’s transfers are getting ripped apart, so I just figured I’d add my .02.

    Hleb was a purchase that could have been useful to the club. However the player and the coach had vastly different opinions on the role of the player in the club: aka Hleb had too strong of an opinion about his own abilities. Not only that, but he refused to take the necessary steps to work himself into the team. The blame for this failure goes to the player.

    Kierrison and Henrique I’m going to lump together. Both of them have shown potential, but not the sort of potential that lands you a spot in our team. I lump them together because they were both Traffic buys, and I’ve always thought there was something sketchy about their purchases. A player doesn’t generally ask for a clause in their contract that they be sold for less if they are sold to a specific club, and this just strikes me as odd. Guardiola’s refusal to really give either a chance also strikes me as odd.

    Caceres was bought to fill a pressing need we had in defense at the time. Luckily Pique was bought as well and has fulfilled that need excellently. Caceres had just come off a fantastic season at Recreativo. Unfortunately for him he doesn’t fit the profile of a Barcelona defender, but he was a worthwhile risk.

    Txigrinski I will continue to contend that he was a good purchase. I personally would have given him three years to see how he developed, and the fact that Guardiola wanted him sealed the deal for me. To be fair, we overpaid for him. About 15 million would have been a realistic price, but our desire to buy him immediately and the fact that Shakhtar knew he was the only player we were looking at hurt the negotiations. If there is anything wrong with this transfer it was just that we weren’t patient enough.

    And then on the other hand, there’s Alves, Pique, Maxwell, Keita, and Villa. Some pretty good buys in there, and not every purchase can be a home run.

    • July 9, 2010

      Greece Barca…overpayers of this world? 🙂
      Jorge Manuel Andrade, Tiago Mendes Cardoso,Sergio Bernardo Almiron, Jean Alain Boumsong,Ruben Ariel Olivera, Marcelo Zalayeta, Tomas Guzman, Valeri Bojinov, Fabrizio Miccoli, Olivier Kapo…

      Some of the players Juventus bought within handful seasons. Check price paid and price received. Mind you, I picked Juventus because some of these transfers were orchestrated by the world’s most shrewd buyers, the transfer guru himself A.K.A Luciano Moggi!

      Bring on any other club you wish with a list of the titles they won, and I will make you a similar list like that one above. Even if its the berbatovic club itself. I am up for it.

      But anyways, the devils are out now. Txiki is no more there to waste our money. Whining will not bring back a penny. So I recommend that instead of mourning the past, look forward to the future that is full of Sandroitic fantasies! Cheer up 😉

      • vicsoc8
        July 9, 2010

        Sometimes your sarcasm really makes me sad.

      • Random Juve Fan
        July 10, 2010

        Andrade, Tiago, Almiron, Boumsong and Bojinov where all Secco signings. You could also add Amauri and Felipe Melo to that list, two of possibly the worst signings I have ever seen. Bojinov was a loan deal from Machester City if I remember correctly.

        The rest of the signings were all Moggi’s. I don’t view Marcelo Zalayeta as a bad signing. He was a good squad player who knew his role within the club and never complained. He also scored a goal to knock Real Madrid out of the CL so he can’t be that bad.

        The Miccoli signing was an incredibly cheap deal because he was co-owned first and the negotiations between Juventus and Perugia (I think) went to envolopes and Moggi outsmarted the Perugia Sporting Director. Also Miccoli’s time at Juventus was hampered by him refusing to make Davide Lippi his agent so he was frozen out of the team.

        In my opinion the biggest overspenders in Europe are Manchester United. Manchester United have signed Nani, Anderson, Chris Smalling, Hargreaves, Zoran Tosic, Manucho, Veron and Diouf for inflated transfer fees. Ferguson might be a great manager on the training pitch, but maybe he is not so great at signing players. FORZA JUVE!!!

        • Kari
          July 10, 2010

          You forgot Berbatov 😛

          Agreed on everything else (except the Forza Juve thing, which I will have to respectfully disagree with 😛 ). Thanks for the info.

        • July 10, 2010

          Ruben Ariel Olivera, Marcelo Zalayeta, Tomas Guzman, Valeri Bojinov, Fabrizio Miccoli, Olivier Kapo were Moggi hunts. That’s why I said “some are Luciano’s”. Dont get me wrong, I believe this dude is (was) the best when it come to dealing with target market, which is the reason I picked him.

          If you take the expectations put on all these players and compare it to the output, its safe to say they were disappointments. Remember the hype followed Kapo when he was signed? Miccoli was the next big thing in Italian football. Bojinov? etc… None of them met the expectations for different reasons. If Miccoli -for example- was the coach’s problem for not performing, then he is the best example that fit what we are discussing here as most of Barca signings that didnt work were because Pep was not welling to give them a chance (even to have a preseason with him before he make up his mind).

          The point is a Sport director cant get his record 100% of brilliance. Some exceed expectations, others flop, others so and so…

          Talking about Secco, if Txiki was a disaster, I wonder what to say about this one 🙂

          • Random Juve Fan
            July 10, 2010

            Dont get me started on Secco makes Txiki look like Moggi. I believe that the best Sporting Director at the moment might be the Internazionale’s, Marco Branca. He has signed Sneijder, D. Milito, T. Motta, Lucio, Chivu and the Eto’o deal. All of these have been brilliant signings.

            I remember Sevilla used (not sure if he is still there) to have a good Sporting Director in Monchi. He brought Fabiano, Daniel Alves and Baptista to Sevilla. He bought these players for a low price and sold them high. He also helped bring Capel, Ramos, Puerta (RIP) and Navas into the first team.

            Also, it is Luciano Moggi’s 73rd birthday today

          • July 10, 2010

            Monchi was a in demand to become the Sport director at Barca once. He is a smart man. I may add Napoli to that mix.

            And I agree, Inter-FINALLY- started to hit the nail in transfer market.

  27. vicsoc8
    July 9, 2010

    Really happy to hear we are negotiating for Filipe Luis. Abidal had a renaissance year last season, and Maxwell is very good cover. However Abidal is 30 and I honestly don’t see him lasting more than another year or two because of his age, his transfer price, and because continual renewal of the squad is necessary. I consider Maxwell as a versatile super sub and cover for several positions.

    Besides that, Filipe Luis makes Deportivo. At a big club he could be the best left back in the world for several years. His transfer price will never be lower as he is returning from a broken leg. It is an extremely worthwhile risk to take.

    I’m also happy because it is known that Pep wanted him last summer. Rosell has some serious sucking up to Pep to do, and this is a good way to start.

    Finally, from a tactical point of view, it means that Pep is looking to get width on the left from the fullback, meaning he will want a left winger who can cut inside and be a goal threat, meaning that the plan is (hopefully) to keep Ibrahimovic.

    • Jnice
      July 9, 2010

      I don’t think we are actually negotiating for Filipe. There have been “contacts”, but that’s pretty much it so far.

      • Jnice
        July 9, 2010

        It would be cool to sign another player who was left in tears last year after failing to sign with us.

      • vicsoc8
        July 9, 2010

        You’re probably right. I need someone to keep me in check, as I seem to get a bit too excited anytime someone brings up Filipe Luis.

    July 9, 2010

    ramzi you are right i don.t follow so much others clubs transfers.and i will stop whining.because i believe in rosell and i am sure that our transfer policy will be great from now!

    • Vj
      July 9, 2010

      Yes, Rosell is already working full time to overpay for a player we don’t need, after yanking a player who featured in Pep’s plans for the current season, out of the club.. I have no doubt that he’ll ‘fix’ our current ‘problems’..

    July 9, 2010

    yes rosell working a great deal about keirison!loan to santos for 2.8million and a purchase option for neymar!give the guy the chance to make transfers first and then kill him if is wrong!my god!

  30. July 9, 2010

    the difference between having the patience with pedro and chiggy is one thing.
    pedro came from our youth system, he knows our play, our system, the players. chiggy is at an disadvantage here. someone earlier mentioned that
    chiggy was a BEAST before his injury..please.cmon.

    we all love this club but to call chiggy a beast is just a tad or two too much.and the hate on rosell? pep probably didnt want to wait for chiggy to come good after 3 years. by the time he becomes good enough, pep wont even be here. and i seriously dont think he will fit in the team the next season. maybe 2011/12.

    i also think that some of you over rate him. yes he can make the long passes. but thats a totally different thing to pique and marquez. those two can actually play with the ball while chiggy just blasts the ball forward which in turn lead to the many turn overs that we had.
    he completed no more than 2 long passes from the time he has been on the pitch. ive watched all the matches last season except the seville copa del rey matches as i was holidaying in AUS.

    are we loaning out k9 or selling him for 2.8mill euros?

    i’d say we should take neymar. why wait for another club to buy him and only then we want to acquire his servies? pato as an example.

    • Jnice
      July 9, 2010

      “he completed no more than 2 long passes from the time he has been on the pitch.”


    • Bundy
      July 10, 2010

      Rewatch the Home game against Mallorca, a very good example why Chygry was very promising for us.

      Basically we won that match because we had two ball playing defenders on the field, Mallorca defended and pressed our midfield into non existance, but thaanks to Pique and Chygrynsky we didn’t even need the midfield to do anything. We copped two silly goals, but we scored 4 very good goals which won us the game against a tough team. Something like this would be useful against teams like Espanyol for example.

      • July 10, 2010

        maybe 2 is an exaggeration but that part of his game is certainly over rated. his completion rate is very low. it resulted in a lot of turn overs in matches that were scrappy.

        • Bundy
          July 10, 2010

          But that is something that can be worked on though, Its not like Pique had a good conversion rate when he first started off at Barca, I remember most of his long balls were way off-target. But the whole point was to show what Pep was looking for in a CB. Teams more and more will start to pressure our midfield rather than park it in the box and well we need a defence that can provide its weight going forward.

          • Jnice
            July 10, 2010

            Yeah, to be honest, I thought Pique was pretty dire when he first arrived at Barça. Caceres impressed me more than he did in preseason and the first couple of matches.

          • Jim
            July 10, 2010

            I haven’t kept any games from early in the season so I really can’t point to chapter and verse but I remember Chiggy’s performances filled me with fear only in that he was a very awkward tackler, had little pace and never looked comfortable on the ball. The plus side I’m sorry to be missing is that we do need more height in our team.

            Bottom line is that if he had been any good he’d have been playing regularly and that was Pep’s decision. With that price tag we didn’t buy him to develop by sitting on a bench and I never understood the need to rush into buying a cup-tied player. Imo, it was the wrong buy at a bad price but these things happen and I wish the guy well.

            What worries me more is that Pep still doesn’t seem to want to inject some pace at CB. How often last season (despite good positioning skills by Pique and Puyol) were we left lamenting our lack of pace there with two FBs keeping a high position on the pitch ? I’m looking forward to seeing the youngsters getting some time there but if points are as tight as last season when can we take a chance? The defence might have some work to do in the first couple of months as our midfield will be knackered after the WC.

  31. Jnice
    July 9, 2010

    Cesc: Let me play in the final


    • Kari
      July 10, 2010

      Why is he writing for the Sun of all places (apparently a despicable tabloid that lacks credibility and class)?

      Anyway, TheOneThatWritesForTheSunAndWillNotBePlayingForBarca, Del Bosque would play you, but there’s a certain duo + a certain player with an exclamation mark at the end of his name + a player that people love to hate even when he’s owning the opposition attacking midfielder(s) which = you starting on the bench.

      My apologies.

  32. missingpage
    July 10, 2010

    ..And one last thing about Chygrynskiy…he is not 22 anymore 2 months into the new season he will be celebrating his 24 years of age 🙂

  33. missingpage
    July 10, 2010

    guys and girls question..How do i add an icon next to my name in the posts?!

    • Kxevin
      July 10, 2010

      Go to, and get set up. Then whenever you enter the e-mail that is linked to the gravatar account, your icon will pop up at Gravatar-enabled Web sites.

  34. fcbfan
    July 10, 2010

    Ah the irony! Cesc a starter at Arsenal the past 4 years has to beg to start on the nt, while Busi who was playing in 4th div 2 years ago now a fix on the nt. Even Pedro is getting chances. Still want to come to Barce?

  35. Kxevin
    July 10, 2010

    Given how our luck with ex-Barca players has been going, we will see Shahktar in the Champions League this season, and Txigrinski will probably kick ass, but for them instead of us.

    Sorry, but as I have already noted, it’s the party line now to say he was a disaster. But the “beast” assessment of him, pre-injury, is just not that far off the mark. When you watch him play, that much is clear. And now he’s gone. And whether he’s 22 or 24, we let one get away. I know a lot about the game and am still learning even more, but I just don’t believe myself to be a better evaluator of talent than Guardiola.

    In three cases in which new players have been injured, ALL have struggled mightily upon their return: Hleb, Txigrinski and Ibrahimovic. Not sure what to attribute it to, but it definitely happened in every case. Maybe it’s just that finely-honed machine running on, and it becomes difficult to play catch up. But it’s a phenomenon worth noting.

    In my estimation, and again we will never know, Guardiola didn’t fight harder for Txigrinski because he isn’t planning on being with us long enough to see the project through the season or two it would take to work out.

    • July 10, 2010

      keiteee had difficulties to at the end of the season when he came back from an injury.
      he was never the same again imo. but im sure the summer break did him good. old keiteee needs a longer rest nowadays

      • Bundy
        July 10, 2010

        I was thinking the same thing, but you beat me to it, by a considerable time lol, but yes, Keita was definitely different after his injury, everytime he crashed the box he just wouldn’t put away anything, nor at least make some sort of threat.

  36. Jim
    July 10, 2010

    Not saying Chiggy won’t be a decent defender in another side, Kxevin. You’re right – sod’s law means we probably will meet a fired up Chiggy at some point.

    As far as the ” party line” is concerned. I’m not sure. Concerns about Chiggy were raised from a pretty early stage, I think – not least from you in some of your reviews if I recall. I think what happened was that these, along with him not playing therefore not being able to reduce those concerns eventually hardened into a feeling that he wasn’t up to it. Unfair? Maybe slightly, but not way out of line with how he performed given his price tag.

    finally, I hope you’re wrong about Pep and his short termism as evidenced by his lack of fight for Chiggy to remain. . Not sure I want a manager who isn’t looking beyond the end of this coming season. What would that mean for time on the pitch for some of the youngsters?

    • DontPanic
      July 10, 2010

      I wouldn’t jump to conclusions about Pep. He always wanted short contracts. That way he has more power in dealing with the board. I think he would be foolish to go to coach somewhere else. Wherever he went, he wouldn’t receive as much of love, respect and admiration than at Barca. He was our legend even before he became our coach. Every other club would be a step down.

      And I think he knows very well how Barca operates behind closed doors, that is politics, backstabing, presidents power, etc.
      He knew all of that before he became our coach, but he still did it. I think he somewhat accepts the fact, that the coach in Barca doesn’t have as much power as in the PL. I believe with short contracts he is just trying to maximize his say in dealing with the board. At least I hope so.

      • Bundy
        July 10, 2010

        I beleive Pep also has mentioned that he doesn’t beleive in long contracts, given how it can affect his motivation. Again, by example, Rijkaard was amazing but he eventually lost it, maybe a lack of motivation?

        Thats what I think Pep wants avoid.

  37. Kari
    July 10, 2010

    I gonna miss Txringski for everything people have eloquently stated above and for the fact that player with one of the best nicknames is gone.

    I’ll miss you, Txigwasnastywhileitlasted 🙁

  38. Bundy
    July 10, 2010

    Ok, I myself had doubts about Chygrynsky, but again, selling him after one season is a bit stupid. Its just me but there is a feeling that Rosell did it for reasons beyond financial.

    but anyway, the fiasco is over and there is nothing we can do much at this point anyway. I guess we will have to see what happens. But Rosell has fallen below expectation and well he has to improve his decision making. He has to realize we are not coming off from a disastrous season its pretty much the opposite, and sometimes in these circumstances drastic changes and decisions don’t sit well with the public/members.

    He has to realise that this is a responsibility for Barca, not for his personal gain business wise.

  39. missingpage
    July 10, 2010

    testing testing 1.2.3…
    Thanks kevin!

    July 10, 2010

    rosell said that cesc price is 30million.and from now on our budget will be 50million every summer.i am starting love that guy.

  41. lovelymofo
    July 10, 2010

    You know, I almost feel sorry for HeWhoShouldStayatArsenal. He’s actually playing less under Del Bosque than when Aragones was in charge. And its probably due to the way that teams are playing Spain (i.e. highly defensively). Xavi, Iniesta, and Busi (focusing on the midfield here) have had an entire season of playing through tight spaces. I don’t know if anyone has read the following article:


    It’s in Spanish, but its a great interview with Xavi. And he talks about how teams are giving them no space in which to operate. Here’s a little bit that I think is really encapsulates the way that Spain is playing this tournament:

    “Estamos encontrando espacios donde no los hay. No puedo girar. No he hecho una pelopina, no puedo…. Es pared, pared, pared o estás muerto. No sabe cómo nos aprietan. Si controlas, te la quitan porque te aparecen dos. No tengo tiempo de pensar desde que empezó el Mundial. Por eso lo de Andresito tiene tanto merito. Tiene ese uno contra uno y rompe por la banda. En el medio no hay espacio. Ni un metro.”

    He’s saying:

    “We’re finding spaces where there are none. I can’t turn around. I haven’t been able to do a ‘pelopina’ [360 turn], I can’t. It’s pass, pass, pass, or you’re dead. You don’t know how much they pressure us. If you try to control it, there are two players on you and they take the ball. I haven’t been able to think since the World Cup began. That’s why what Andresito does is so important. He has the one and one and can break them on the wing. There’s no space in the middle, not one foot.”

    So, I can see why it would be hard to break into the midfield with Xavi, Iniesta, and Busi already there.

    Finally, the interview with Xavi is fantastic. His interviews in general are great, I love his footballing brain. I really do hope Spain wins. And if Kuyt is right that the Oranje is gonna come out and play attacking football, then I think Xavi and Iniesta will put on a pretty display for us.

      • July 10, 2010

        superb post!
        thanks for taking the time to translate.
        btw iniesta can perform on the left for spain. why not for us?

    July 10, 2010

    for 30million i ll take cesc no question.he is smart,young,amazing passer,great shoot,scoring goals and future leader and the perfect replacement for xavi.i hope he will come home.there is no other player like him in the world for us.

  43. poipoi
    July 10, 2010

    this vid is priceless, they follow casillas vs germany. At 1:03 puyi’s goal from the back of iker’s goal (a goal scored with the same play as in Bernabeu in the 2-6), you can see iker’s face when he turns, like the voice says “he doesn’t jump he doesn’t scream” … he is so moved, his face is so weird I love it. vamosss iker

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