On Misguided Discord: Deconstructing Sergio Busquets

Jasper Juinen/Getty Images Europe
Sergio Busquets, our mercurial midfielder, is a much-maligned figure in the minds of many Barcelona fans. They say he can’t play DM at the Camp Nou because he’s not good enough and he makes too many mistakes. That he’s deficient in the key aspects of the game and is the most expendable man we have. Well, nuts to that. This seems a strange take for a player who started 26 games for the La Liga champions and all 7 games for World Cup champions Spain, of whom manager Vincente del Bosque noted, “if I was a footballer, I would like to be Busquets.” (Lest we forget that the likes of Pep Guardiola and Johan Cruyff has lavished even more praise.) Oh, and lest I mention the 7 pieces of silverware to his name and being named as La Liga’s breakthrough player of 2009. Thus far, Biscuits & Gravy has made quite a name for himself on the world’s best national team and one of, if not the best, club teams around. But why does out fan base doubt the 22-year old star? This article endeavors to deconstruct our newest star, and determine just what to make of his past, and the future.

His dad played for Barça, so Busquets gets the benefit of the doubt: A startlingly common misconception about Busquets is that because his father Carles was a member of some 1990s FCB squads (and has been named our new goalkeeping coach, good for him), he gets a free pass. No, just stop. This ignores the argument, somehow more patently ludicrous than this, that Busquets only retains his starting role with Barcelona so that he will not lose the position for the Spanish national team. Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me?

There are a number of reasons that this argument is deficient, not the least of which that it assumes that our club, and Manager Pep Guardiola, place no premium on merit and rather hand out favors based on old allegiances and grandfather clauses. This is obviously true, because Jordi Cruyff is having a budding career with the team right? FC Barcelona does not hand out starting positions on the team, or any positions for that matter, because of lineage or any other spurious reason. Pep brings in his players and starts them. If you don’t believe me, look no further than Samuel Eto’o, a long-time fan favorite, who was booted for being a clubhouse cancer and a bit of a baby. Of course you could also look to this past year when Thierry Henry (he of the winning every major trophy ever) was benched for poor play in favor of Pedro, or Zlatan Ibrahimovic who let some poor play go to his head, and was subsequently removed in favor of Bojan, even though Ibra is paid 5 times as much. Exterior factors, no matter their nature, seem to play little in the choice of a player to start. Such arguments should have no place in enlightened football conversation. Next.

He’s a flopper, I mean, just look at that .gif: You’re better than this, come on. Does Sausage Biscuit dive sometimes? Yes. However, that does not diminish his qualities while playing the field. This is a painfully poor excuse to claim that because he made a few high-profile gaffs, notably against Villareal and Inter Milan, his game is deficient in any way, shape or form. Even if he were the single worst flopper in the history of the game (which he’s not, since you know, Italy still exists and all that), it still would not take away from his excellent play.

Don’t even start with how it is an embarrassment to the club or whatever either. Does Messi disgrace the shield when he shoots instead of making obvious passes? How about Xavi, does he make a mockery when he kicks the ball at a defender standing too close on a free kick, gaining a yellow and mental advantage? What of Dani Alves, is he made into a pariah for running off at the mouth at all times? I didn’t think so. Players flop and try to “game the system” a lot, and sometime it hurts the game, but they are not run out of town on a rail, or thrown under the bus simply because, are they? No, and if they were, then Iniesta’s going to have to take his ball and go home too.

He screws up… a lot: First of all, yes, he does make mistakes, and they sometimes get played up more than other–his red card against Madrid in the first Clasico of last year was indefensible. However, he does not make near the volume of mistakes that he is charged with by many fans. Further, when he does make mistakes, he seems to learn from them by the next game, evolving his game to adapt to the holes it has. During Spain’s first World Cup game against Switzerland, Busquets had an awful game. He was subbed over at the 60th minute after being complicit in N’kufo’s goal, and rightly so. After the game, the same calls came out: “play Cesc, he’s more creative!”; “Busquets can’t hold Senna’s shoes”; “where’s the jelly for my Biscuits?”. Vincent of the Forest rightly stuck with our DM though, and he showed his class from there on out. He served as the defensive possessor that allowed 1 more goal during the final six games, and shut down the likes of Arjen Robben and the German midfield machine, to the point that when it came time for substitutes, Alonso was coming off, with Sergi left as the lone holder. I’m just saying.

Won’t somebody please think of the Yaya?: And here’s your real reason. Ok, look, we got it. Yaya Toure is a good player. He’s tall, fast, and imposing on the field. He can score in a pinch and play 4 or 5 positions. Fan favorite and all that jazz, it makes sense. Fans attach themselves to certain players for any number of reasons: outstanding play, playing through pain, leading the team to an important victory, inexplicably liking a player above others, etc., and it is reasonable to expect this for a great number of players, but when a capable player is there to serve as a replacement, it makes less sense to dump on that player because you liked his predecessor more.

Toure is extremely capable and starred for the side in many ways, but he’s no Messi, or Iniesta, or Valdes, or even Pedro. Hell, the best comparison player for Yaya last year was Ibrahimovic. Both players have great skill (although Ibra is more talented), both players have the capacity to take over games (albeit in different ways), and both players suffered through poor spells at different times and to varying degrees. Yet, Zlatan serves as the proverbial piñata for Barça fans while Toure acted as sort of a Teflon Don. The domineering DM does a lot of things well, but he also acted as a clubhouse cancer for some 2 years with his agents constant bickering and fights with the board since he thought he deserved to start every game ever. (And please, don’t disrespect everyone’s intelligence by saying this was all his agent’s fault, because the agent speaks for the player, and Yaya made it abundantly clear that he needed to go play with his brother, soon.) This does not even mention the fact that he lost his starting spot, not because Pep likes Busquets more, but because Yaya would take large parts of games off, lazing around the pitch and allowing through balls causing defensive lapses. It was not an every game thing, but he definitely let off-field concerns get in the way of his play many times. Not to mention that when you are offered 30+ million euros for a DM you bought for less than half that, you take it when you have a more than capable stand-in.

Some of these reasons are reasonable, although less than compelling. Missing players gone by or disliking a player’s style is fine, but when this translates into fanciful and deficient analysis of that player’s game, well, you’ve missed the mark all together. So then you ask, “well, why should I like Busquets?” Glad you asked.

Photo by PacificCoastNews.com

Why you should love him, or, just not loathe him so much: Busquets serves as a combo holder and possessor while in the DM role for Barcelona (and La Furia Roja for that matter), meaning that he is tasked with possibly the most important, and underrated position on the field. As such he is tasked with short, quick passes between Pique/Puyol and Xavi/forward players as well as moving into the middle back when Abidal, Alves, Maxwell, and Adriano bomb forward so that our two center backs may split out (arguably Toure’s greatest quality), holding possession while not giving the ball away in key situations, amongst many other responsibilities. Suffice to say, it’s a varied role that requires an excellent player, and Busquets is just that. Here are 3 more reasons you might like our La Masia product:

Man Marking: The Big Biscuit is nothing if not annoying. But on the field, that’s a good thing. During the World Cup Final, he so thoroughly frustrated Golden Ball and World Player of the Year candidate Wesley Sneijder, that the Oranje dangerman’s role was reduced to a couple of good passes with very little of the match dictation that made him so dangerous at Inter this past year. He also serves to get in the heads of opposing players, causing them to fall off their game. Say what you will about Busquets .gif-worthy performance, but he so fully enrages opposing players through dogged pursuit on and off the ball that punches, cards, and hard fouls now seem commonplace. As the wonderful Zonal Marking noted: Busquets marking likely changed the entire course of the game, by staying with Sneijder, and occasionally Robben, he forced the Dutch from their normal game and into something much less formidable. His stellar play in the second Clasico more than made up for his stupidity in the first, as he so thoroughly stifled any midfield creativity for Real Madrid for much of that game as well. In short, he’s a defensive counterweight to opposition forces as well as holding the lines when other players are marauding forward in the run of play (and let’s be honest, that basically everyone on the team except Puyol).

Possession and Passing: During the World Cup, a lot of ink was spilled, and rightly so, on the virtues of Xavi’s exquisite long and short passing. But another underrated aspect, one that I believe showed up on Brian Phillips’ Run of Play Twitter feed, was that Sergio, while usually only making short passes, does so with incredible accuracy, completing something like 39 of 40 during the first half of the Germany match, but that he is sometimes faulted because the passes are so short. Well, that’s what he’s been asked to do, and he does it because that’s what the systems require.

He has been known to hold the ball too long and give it away in dangerous situations, although these occurrences are made into mountains more by the fan base than they actually should be. He spends time on the ball, usually gaining the second or third most touches on the team, behind Xavi and Messi, and passing out of trouble when it occurs.

Positional Awareness: Biscuits also displays good positional awareness in terms of cutting off player runs, staying with opposing mids/forwards, and moving into proper position to receive passes from both front and back. Again, this is not to say he does not make mistakes, he certainly does. But tying the previous two points together we find that #16 sets himself up in excellent position either while marking, providing passes, or opening up lanes to receive passes.

Rarely moving so far up the pitch that he is grossly ill-positioned, Busquets is able to provide defensive support and take some of the considerable heat off of Pique and Puyol when they are left to face the counter-attacks that most teams rely on against the blaugrana. While Xavi receives numerous plaudits for spacing and moving without the ball, and again, they are deserved, Biscuits is not all that far behind, he just can’t look as good doing it–hey, we can’t all be the best midfielder of our generation.

Conclusions: The point here is not to say that Sergio Busquets should somehow remain immune from criticism for his play. On the contrary, when appropriate, it is deserved and should be noted as vigorously as against any other player on the team. Nor is the point to say that we do not need to bring in some depth at DM, far from it. The boardroom, Pep, and others involved should look at our team, look at our youth system and determine if we need to purchase a player like Javi Martinez, or go it with Oriol Romeu, or stick with Adriano as a do-all backup and Keita.

It is intended to hopefully stem some of the tide of ill-founded criticism that Busquets faces on these boards and from fans in general. A lot of this was tongue-in-cheek, and I realize that, but it is all true. Busquets is an integral cog in the Barça system, and especially for Pep Guardiola. The loss of Toure was hard for some here, but the scorn heaped on Sergio is laughable, especially since roughly 97.35% of it falls into the 3 categories above, or is general griping aimed specifically at one player.

Like this? Obviously. Follow me on the Twitter: @lukeisamazing

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283 Comments

  1. jnelson
    August 8, 2010

    Of course, what ref doesn’t give yellow cards in a friendly for dissent. WHY was that not advantage?

  2. poipoi
    August 8, 2010

    yihaaaaa

  3. Luke
    August 8, 2010

    IBRA!

  4. Jnice
    August 8, 2010

    Ha, Riverola with the pass to Ibra for the goal. Great finish. Finally!

  5. jnelson
    August 8, 2010

    ZLATAN!!! he needed that..before he killed those kids.

  6. jnelson
    August 8, 2010

    IBRA! again with the creativity, but no one is on the same page.

  7. Kari
    August 8, 2010

    Funny, we beat Guoan 3-0 last time too. Goals were from Iniesta, Giovani(Dos Santos) and Ronaldinho.

    Ibra’s been looking gooooood.

  8. jnelson
    August 8, 2010

    Anybody wanna bet Ibra is telling that guy he smells bad?

  9. Jnice
    August 8, 2010

    Not much to say about that 2nd half, except we were awful. Ibra seriously was our best player by a mile. Showed some great touches, good passing, and great finish for the goal. Glad it was Riverola who passed it to him.

    At least we didn’t give up a goal. And we looked great in the first half on a terrible pitch.

    Time to checkout this Community Shield match between Chelsea and Man Utd. Anyone else going to watch?

    • jnelson
      August 8, 2010

      Chicharito! Wonder if he will play…

    • Kari
      August 8, 2010

      Might as well.

      As usual it’s Chelsea and Man Utd. It’s so rich that EPL fanboys claim the “Big 4” when we all know that it’s always Chelsea vs Man Utd who fight for the title. At least for us, 3 and 4 isn’t so obvious (although with Liverpool’s..umm, yeah, Citeh has come into the picture. Spurs are sh*t)

      Man UTD was going for a QUADRUPLE last season, for goodness sake!

      • Jnice
        August 8, 2010

        I really dislike how these teams play. Barça has made me a hater haha.

  10. Diego S.
    August 8, 2010

    Can Anyone tell me who of Barca B is over 20 ?

    • jnelson
      August 8, 2010

      Armando, for 1

      • Jnice
        August 8, 2010

        Armando, Jonathan Soriano, Victor Vazquez, Miño, Nolito, Benja… a couple of others not on tour.

  11. barca96
    August 8, 2010

    This is the first pre-season match that I watched as I have been really busy lately. I must say I was impressed in the 1st half but the 2nd half was horrendous! If it was a competitive match I wouldve cursed uncontrollably.
    Nobody from the 2nd half deserves a rating besides Muniesa, Milito and Ibra. Ibra had a good match. Was all alone. I hope that none of them get promoted besides the aforementioned. All they did was play for themselves. I read some good stuffs about Marti Riverola last week, but he was atrocious. He couldn’t even make a simple pass and on two occasions he had a decent amount of time to turn with the ball but instead kicks the ball right to the back and create danger. When the 2nd half started and I saw Benja and Ibra leading the line,they looked like the twin towers from San Antonio Spurs for a moment. Hehe
    However players from the 1st half were decent especially JDS. It could be because they had a buzz because they were playing with Messi. Not sure.

    Sorry for the long rant. Just pissed off at the guys from the 2nd half.
    How did they fair in the other 2 games? Which players from the B team looked the most promising in the pre-season?

    • Jnice
      August 8, 2010

      Yeah, Riverola looked way better in the other matches, but at least he got the pass to Ibra right and to be fair, almost everyone in the 2nd half played horribly.

  12. Kxevin
    August 8, 2010

    I think that Ibrahimovic has a LOT to prove this season. I think that he has a very high personal standard that he didn’t completely live up to last season, and he wants to rectify that. He is moving better and with more alacrity, and holding his runs better as he has come to understand the dithering on the ball that is attendant to our system as the player looks for the best option.

    Don’t forget that at Inter and every other club he’s played for, it was “Get the ball to the big Swede.” So every move that he made, somebody was waiting to pass it to him. Here, with Messi, soon Villa and everybody else, if you move like he did at Inter, you’re going to be offside once the midfielder decides that you in fact are the best option. It’s a difference that he seems used to now.

    I can’t wait to see our full, fit starting XI in action. I think it’s going to be about 48 degrees of awesome.

    By the by, not meeting his high personal standard is also the reason that the press reports about Ibrahimovic leaving us are bull. He has unfinished business.

    • jnelson
      August 8, 2010

      Yea, and you know how one B.A.N.G.S. handles unfinished business…
      /http://barcelona.theoffside.com/files/2009/11/zlatan-ibrahimovic.jpg

  13. Jnice
    August 8, 2010

    Catalan commentary

    First Half:

    *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=AT159SP7
    *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=QAXNOOGO
    *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=0GUPEKY8
    *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=YUNN9K9I

    Second Half:

    *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=49SYIL5C
    *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=WBJIUEPE
    *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=BTZP87LI
    *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=4ZBD425M

    Courtesy of siscopes1 @rojadirecta.com

    or

    Chinese commentary

    First Half:

    *http://filevo.com/wjpu7tyv686t.html

    Second Half:

    *http://filevo.com/ktxpmphjhpkk.html

    Courtesy of WIINDSBBS @fbtz.com

    • barca96
      August 8, 2010

      Holy smokes. that was fast.thanks for the upload.
      A piece of advice to the folks who didn’t get to watch it live.
      DO NOT DOWNLOAD the 2nd half!

      • Jnice
        August 8, 2010

        No problem, but I don’t upload, I just do the easy part and copy and paste. 😀 Credit goes to those cappers.

  14. vicsoc8
    August 8, 2010

    So I’ve been really busy simultaneously getting my ass in gear for the start of the rest of my life and systematically avoiding it.

    A poor excuse for not having seen any of our preseason games. Now that they are all played, which of the youngsters looked particularly good? I’ve been hearing JDS’ name a lot, but who else has the potential to make it?

    • barca96
      August 8, 2010

      I have the same question as I missed the match in Norway and S.Korea.
      JDS looked like a shorter version of Busi at DM in China 🙂

    • Jnice
      August 8, 2010

      Personally, I think that aside from JDS, Sergi Roberto and Riverola have looked good, although Riverola was horrible today. Riverola is coming from Juvenil A, so I think he needs about two years with Barça B, Sergi Roberto maybe a year, maybe more.

      That’s really it as far as midfielders go because the other midfielders besides them were Victor Sanchez who we can’t consider a youngster and Victor Vazquez was only fit for todays match, but he wasn’t bad. Ilie played there for 30 min and was decent It’s a shame we didn’t get to see Thiago or Romeu.

      As for defenders, Sergi Gomez has been decent, Dalmau looked interesting going forward, but he is inexperienced defensively. Armando has no chance and Muniesa has shown flashes of his talent. I don’t think he will make the jump this year, though. Unfortunately, Fontas is just coming off his injury, so Pep didn’t want to risk him yet. Sport still claims he will be promoted, though.

      Attackers… Jonathan Soriano, Benja, Nolito, Edu Oriol, Tello are all variations of like the same player. They have all had flashes of brilliance and bouts of inconsistency as well. Tello looked great against the K-League allstars, Nolito looked great today, Benja and Jonathan have done their part. I really don’t think any of them have a chance to be promoted except Tello in the future because he is only 18. Who knows, though… in a pinch maybe Nolito or Soriano could be called up.

      So all in all, I think Jonathan has a great chance to be promoted (Sport saying he along with Fontas will be), but I don’t think anyone else is quite ready yet. Thiago and Romeu haven’t been on the tour, but from what I have seen of Thiago this summer with Spain, he has a shot too. This is just my opinion, though.

      • Lou
        August 8, 2010

        When does the Segunda season start?

        Is there any chance we’ll get to see Thiago, Romeu, Bartra or Fontas in the Gamper match?

      • jnelson
        August 8, 2010

        Agreed.

  15. Jnice
    August 8, 2010

    First match is August 29. I’m pretty sure we will see some of those kids, like last season against City. Then again, preseason was different last year and Pep could use this game to give the starters a full run out.

    • Kari
      August 8, 2010

      I’m actually hoping to see Thiago, Romeu, Muniesa, JDS, etc. against Sevilla on the 14th. Great opportunity IMO.

  16. Jnice
    August 8, 2010

    I glazed over goal.com’s report of our game and damn, they don’t watch our matches, do they?

    “18-year-old Sergi Roberto opened the scoring for the Blaugrana in the 10th minute, followed by a Nolito header just two minutes later – a truly impressive opening from the young reserves.”

    “The world’s most coveted right-winger Lionel Messi impressed throughout, first striking the bar just before the half-hour mark then smacking the upright with a free-kick just before the break.” (I guess you can strike a bar with a header, but if they saw the header, they would’ve said “headed it off the bar”)

    “Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose future at Barca is precarious to say the least if transfer speculation is to be believed, came on as a late substitute, scoring in the 89th minute to put a bow on the pre-season affair.”

    • Kari
      August 8, 2010

      Classic BS.com 😀

  17. Kari
    August 8, 2010

    *http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/sagna-spahic-is-good-enough-for-arsenal

    :cue eye roll: (Feel free to ignore this post though. I’m sick of it too. It’s just the hypocrisy is too good to pass up.)

  18. Jnice
    August 8, 2010

    Last post, then I’m gonna sleep for a little bit lol…

    Courtesy of Barcastuff… Pep: “I know the youth teams well and I think we have a generation coming with players having the quality to be part of the 1st team. They’re all growing but only some of them could already be ready for the first team, like Jonathan Dos Santos. Jonathan reads the game very well. I know I can count on him. It’s a young player with a great drive. Happy to have him around.”

    I may be reading into this too much, but I think he is almost confirming Jonathan will be promoted. Jonathan also said he likes the number 4 and hopes to be able to keep it.

    Also, congrats to the U15 team who won the Nike Cup today. Same prestigious cup Iniesta’s group won, in which he was the captain and received the trophy from Pep himself.

  19. August 8, 2010

    And let’s not forget Busi’s cantera + Catalan!! Visca el Barça! 🙂 🙂

    Cool article, Luke, are other player analysises forthcoming?

    • Luke
      August 8, 2010

      I have considered writing one for Valdes, since GKs are so often misunderstood and I played as one for about 15 years, but it will all depend on how the preseason stuff goes. I have something coming about how Mourinho to RM changes some of the Clasico and La Liga dynamics.

      Thanks for the kind words as well. I thought about throwing something in there about the Catalan stuff, but it just bothers me so much and I didn’t want the post to turn into that again.

  20. August 8, 2010

    Btw I think no.4 will / should be Busi’s this season since last year he made the position his. Sorry JDS

  21. Kari
    August 8, 2010

    “It’s the news that The Sun’s showbiz section has been dreading. Argentine award-winning journalist Clemente Cancela has revealed that Lionel Messi has never heard of Oasis and so the newspaper’s far-fetched tales about his bizarre love of the Manchester band must come to an end.

    The Sun have brought us some fantastical yarns, beginning with Messi’s discovery of Oasis during a long-haul flight with Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez and peaking this week with a particularly tall-stories about the world’s best player forming a tribute band.

    “Our disguise is based on how Oasis looked in the mid-90s,” Messi never told The Sun. “We’ll visit the UK. If you’re at a pub or club where we are performing and see past our disguises there’ll be a decent prize in it for you.”

    However, Cancela, who has legitimate access Messi, recently revealed: “Messi does not know Oasis. I repeat: does not know Oasis. He told me.”

    -The Sun is such a pathetic tabloid.

    • Luke
      August 8, 2010

      If so, that’s just depressing, because that story went to nearly every major football daily and even into the non-sport world. It was even reported by the Guardian, who usually get their shit together.

      • Kxevin
        August 8, 2010

        Not only that, but they’re making up Xavi quotes again, unless Xavi would decide, during the last few days of his post-WC vacation, to chat with a third-tier British tabloid about transfer matters.

        It really is shameful. If my employer, the Chicago Tribune, caught somebody just making crap up, that person would be fired. Without a second’s hesitation. “Journalism” is not making shit up. That’s “fiction,” and exists in a different part of the book shop.

        On another note, heading off soon to see the Chicago Fire take on the Red Bulls. Should be a good match. The homeboys are playing well right now, and have added Freddie Ljungberg and Nery Castillo to the lineup. And of course, the Red Bulls have a couple of guys who might or might not make a bit of a difference.

      • Luke
        August 8, 2010

        The Chicago Tribune? Couldn’t you write for a reputable paper? I kid of course. As we all should know, the international papers do not normally adhere to the journalistic integrity of American ones (surprisingly, America is ahead in something). Very few international papers can live up to the level of the New York Times or the WSJ in terms of accuracy and fact-checking. Not to mention that smaller papers such as the Chicago Trib, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, LA Times, etc. all live up to these standards in nearly every regard.

        Overseas, it’s a much different story.

      • Kxevin
        August 8, 2010

        And you should see our ethics policy. It’s an updated document that nonetheless harkens to a time when people had expectations of journalists as watchdogs, chroniclers and protectors. It affects us in every way.

        I got an e-mail offer to meet and greet with Henry and Marquez after tonight’s match, in my role as Tribune editor. Many a person would have accepted, then later said “Um, we decided not to do anything. But thanks!”

        No. I said thanks, that my section couldn’t offer them anything in the way of coverage. I then said that my other, completely unrelated hobby is my role at Barcelona Football Blog, and if there was room at the post-match press conference, I would love to attend, if I could.

        I was thanked for my honesty, and they found a credential for me, which will be my first as a correspondent for this space.

        Ethically, I was duty-bound to fully disclose, and never even considered not doing so. As a sign on the backs of local stop signs here read, “Character is defined by what you do when you think nobody is looking.” It’s so true, and I wish that the footballing press had the same standards. It’s okay not to have a story. But the immediacy, click-driven blogosphere demands something very different. Look at two headlines today:

        ESPNSoccernet:

        “Guardiola understands Arsenal stance on Cesc”

        Daily Telegraph:

        “Guardiola: Arsenal were right to keep Fabregas”

        This is what he actually said:

        “I understand Arsenal and I understand Wenger, I wouldn’t have let him leave either,” he told reporters after Barca concluded their Asian tour with a 3-0 win over Beijing Guoan on Sunday.

        “I just hope Cesc carries on enjoying what is such a special and competitive league, the Premier.”

        Headlines should draw the reader to a story, rather than reflecting bias and slant. Alas, those days are gone, as well.

        /rant

      • August 8, 2010

        Um, NYT has a decidedly mixed record when it comes to journalistic integrity. Their facts have been wrong several times and they frequently publish some extremely ill-informed opinion. You might say that they are not responsible for what their columnists think; they are, however, responsible for their ‘news reports’. For example:

        http://us.asiancorrespondent.com/fiverupees/2009/05/scary-nyt-article-on-pakistans-nukes-is.html

        I can’t deny that they continue to be a fine newspaper and often publish some excellent stories – and their influence is probably unmatched. That said, they could be careful about how they use their influence…and to their credit, they seem to be trying to be more accurate when it comes to Pakistan.

      • RohanV
        August 8, 2010

        Sweet, you’ll have to post a picture of the BarcelonaFootballBlog press pass.

      • Kari
        August 8, 2010

        Whoa! Make sure you take pictures, you lucky, lucky man–and two autographs; one for me, of course 😀

        Your rant is full of win (mentally saved for future re-posting). Good stuff, Kxevin.

      • jnelson
        August 8, 2010

        Ahh,Kevin. A man of integrity. I have much respect for that.

      • Jnice
        August 8, 2010

        Have fun, Kxevin.

        Game starts in 20 minutes, I think. I’ll definitely be watching.

  22. August 8, 2010

    True, the footballing press in a lot of European newspapers is lacking in journalistic integrity. But at least we don’t have national across the board campaigns to lead our country to b.s. wars. WMD… Fact checking, anyone? Just saying….

  23. August 8, 2010

    Above comment is not to step on anybody’s toes! Just couldn’t help myself bc I am still upset about US media in the role they played leading up to the latest two wars. Even more so after I just read Joe Klein’s apology in TIME Magazine. He had the gall to call the Iraq war a “profound misadventure”.

    Anyway apologies bc I am waaay off topic!

  24. Diego S.
    August 8, 2010

    Does it bother anyone else the way he runs ?

    • barca96
      August 8, 2010

      It doesn’t bother me but I find it funny though.
      Another form of entertainment from our biscuits

  25. Kxevin
    August 8, 2010

    My eyes! My eyes! The credentials didn’t have BFB on them unfortunately, just some generic ones that I tossed in disdain. The match was horrific, and the availability was pretty close to nil, so I boogied. No fancy pictures, folks, sorry.

    And may I say that as I was thinking that the MLS standard was improving, this match had to go and make a liar out of me. Henry left with a few minutes to go in the first half, and was walking like he had a groin injury. His play was such that poipoi would have been vindicated. Lordy. Marquez was also crap, and Ljungberg was just atrocious. Lazy, barely there, sleepwalking. I booed him lustily on several occasions.

    My friend and I were hunting for the “least connected” shirt award of the night, as in “Six Degrees of Henry.” We settled on an 01-02 season Del Piero Juventus shirt.

    • barca96
      August 9, 2010

      Kevin, why didn’t you accept the offer to meet and greet Henry and Marquez? I still don’t fully understand

      • Kxevin
        August 9, 2010

        It was more of a brief press availability, with folks shouting questions at them as they sat behind a dais. And no Barca questions, as they want to keep the focus on the Red Bulls.

  26. jaymin
    August 8, 2010

    you guys have one of the classiest men in world football as your manager. you are very fortunate.

    • jnelson
      August 9, 2010

      Pep is the best!!

  27. Jnice
    August 9, 2010

    Full match, one link and a bit better quality. La Sexta broadcast…

    Full Match: *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=X96TU8KF

    Credit to adriancrm @rojadirecta.com

    Or even better quality, La Sexta broadcast

    First Half: *http://www.rojadirecta.org/goto/www.megaupload.com/?d=SUCVCBPJ

    Second Half: *http://www.rojadirecta.org/goto/www.megaupload.com/?d=T0DXM5ZM

    Credit to yosinocoupe @rojadirecta.com

    If you want to download the match, go with either of these links. More convenient and better quality.

  28. stowe
    August 9, 2010

    as an attendee of the Barcelona-Gouan match last night, maybe I was able to see a few things that weren’t as a apparent on TV.
    1st half was great, JDS was playing the DM position and did so very well, even though he is tiny. I would agree with many of the posts on Abidal. He was in poor position several times, but always made up for it with speed and strength. His partner, Gomez? played okay and at times looked like a smaller Pique (especially with the number 3 and some of the piquenbauer play) fullbacks were good and the youngins played very well. Still can’t believe that second goal! Messi looked okay, but not very interested, especially when he should have been chasing the ball (can you blame him?)
    Second half was awful! the pitch was bad, apparently they put it down on tuesday? that’s what i read somewhere.
    I was impressed with the right side of the attack, which provided some good crossing threats down the flank. they had some sloppy play as well, but were in my opinion or most frequent threat. not sure who these players were because I was on the opposite side of the stadium (16, 27?)
    Keita was decent at DM, but Riveriola was atrocious in most aspects of the game, his touch and trapping were especially bad and in my opinion his lack of control caused most of our turnovers and kept us from tiki taka.
    Ibra was the bright spot of the second half, he was far from perfect but had enough creativity and sweet ninja moves to keep me from going to sleep. He was moving a lot and stayed onside very well. too bad the service was awful. one critique i will mention was that at times he wasn’t paying attention and was moping around with his head down when he was in key position to make a run or receive a pass. what a goal. I like his longer hair a lot more. OK i’m finished.

    • barca96
      August 9, 2010

      So you travelled to China to follow the team or you live in Beijing?
      JDS looked a bit like Busi last night, everywhere on the park hustling and bustling.

    • Kari
      August 9, 2010

      I love when people who’ve seen the game comment. Thanks, stowe! Confirms what I thought, but streams suck compared to live.

  29. jordi™
    August 9, 2010

    The doom mongering English fans calling us broke should read this, not only them but all the hate fueled experts who have been rubbing their hands in anticipation of our demise.Intelligent articles like this dont get enough publicity, instead we get more of the kind- “OMG thoz Catalan c**** iz broke lolz”.I left out the customary “F Barca” 😀

    *http://swissramble.blogspot.com/2010/08/whats-happening-with-barcelonas.html

  30. Jnice
    August 9, 2010

    The press and all this Ozil talk… if he plays for Bremen in their CL qualifier on Wednesday, we’ll know he isn’t going anywhere.

    • barca96
      August 9, 2010

      You seem to forget Chiggy’s case already Jnice :p

      • Jnice
        August 9, 2010

        No, I was gonna say that buying Ozil cup tied is something Pep would never do again. Especially when he knows we need depth.

  31. Jnice
    August 9, 2010

    More made up quotes from Xavi by the press. Italian this time. It’s funny how all these “interviews” come from everyone else besides the Spanish press. Especially since Xavi is on vacation.

    I don’t even feel like posting them they are so atrocious. But of course other “people” won’t realize he never actually said it.

  32. flyzowee
    August 9, 2010

    God bless you jordi. Man ive been scanning the internet looking for some kinda info to help me counter the Arsenal guys calling us broke. ITS PAYBACK TIME!

    • GoonerInBarça
      August 9, 2010

      You won’t have anything on us mainly because we haven’t spent any money in about 15 years…

  33. flyzowee
    August 9, 2010

    The major concern is obviously the debt, which Javier Faus said was “the biggest in the club’s history.” We’ve not been given the full details yet, but the adjusted figure released by the club was gross debt of €552 million (net debt €442 million). However, we do know that this represents total liabilities and is thus misleadingly high, as it includes trade creditors, accruals and even provisions. In fact, Rosell and his cohorts should be ashamed of this needless scaremongering, which is not consistent with standard accounting practice – or, indeed, UEFA’s definition, which explicitly states, “net debt does not include trade or other payables.”

    As an example of how absurd the total liabilities definition is, just look at how high other clubs’ gross debt would be using this measure: Real Madrid €683 million, Liverpool €578 million and Manchester United €1.1 billion. Even Arsenal, which is regarded as the template for financial sustainability, would have “debt” of €767 million (though it’s come down a lot since the last annual accounts). This places Barcelona’s €552 million firmly into context. To use an old adage, you have to compare apples with apples.

    – Swiss Rambler.

    • Jnice
      August 9, 2010

      Wonderful.

  34. August 9, 2010

    Thanks for the link Jordi. I didn’t know Rosell was thinking about getting a shirt sponsor. Me worried now 🙁

    • Kxevin
      August 9, 2010

      Yes. He raised the notion the election, and the disapproval ws vehement, to say the least. Now that he is president, I don’t expect that bit of vileness to go away. The fiscal stuff ain’t just to makr Laporta look bad. It might also set the stage for a ahirt sale. And as much as I love this club, I will not be able to wear a shirt with a paying sponsor on the front. I’d bet overall shirt sales would drop, too.

      • GoonerInBarça
        August 9, 2010

        I know it’s an alien concept to Barça but surely it’s a necessary evil? IF the debt is claimed to be high and television revenue has been lost (through Mediapro) then the logical solution is to get a sponsor who would pay a ridiculous sum of money. For guidance Man Utd receive a staggering £80m a year (€96m or 1 Cesc :P) and even Champions League-less Liverpool are getting £24m per year (€29m). Morally and traditionally Barça have refused it but maybe it’s time to catch up with everyone else. A healthy bank balance is worth far more than the moral high ground which very few people care about any more.

      • Kxevin
        August 9, 2010

        It’s principle. Part of what “mes que un club” means, though it is often misinterpreted as an arrogant slogan by some, is all of the humanitarian stuff that we do. The fact that we pay UNICEF for the honor of wearing their logo on the shirt front, the charity work that the players do, the various foundations including MES (sports and AIDS education/prevention in Third World nations, a venture started in 2008 with the club, Nike and ACNUR, the United Nations refugee organization), is a point of pride for many cules. When I wear some of the MES clothing that I have, it gives me pride and pleasure to explain what it means, to those who ask.

        For time immemorial, we had no logo on the shirt front. The UNICEF thing was about the only way that we could do that, and do good. Yes, that’s another thing from the Laporta regime. The agreement, struck in 2006, says that we will pay 1.5m per annum for a five-year period for the privelege of carrying them on the shirt front.

        Things such as that are what I think about when I think of “mes que un club.” The point isn’t funds that could have been raised. The club has been in far worse debt, in context, than it is right now. And we have NEVER sold the shirt. It’s principle. If we sell the shirt, we might as well go from “more than a club” to “just another club.”

        And this is just my opinion. Others will differ.

      • August 9, 2010

        “A healthy bank balance is worth far more than the moral high ground which very few people care about any more.”

        Let me start from this one. In fact nowadays business goes exactly the opposite way. There is more awareness toward the importance of the engagement between business and moral values as a key method for branding and creating business image. Nowadays you barely find a company that is not involved in some none business related causes from Global warming to charity activities to social events, etc… It all cost money and take some of the cash from the bank but is it really a cost (or less return)? Not on the long term.

        Now lets take Barcelona as a demonstration. Barca’s achievements in the CL in the last few years were brilliant, but if you look at it wasnt better than that’s of Liverpool for example or Milan or even Man Utd. In the other hand EPL clubs were well promoted since the time when Barcelona struggled with debts before 2003 and almost lost it completely. How can we evaluate the market value and even the market return of the mentioned clubs compared to Barcelona? Its not only a matter of shirts sales but the whole market value of the club that plays the big role.

        Barcelona failed in marketing. That’s a belief for me. The only bright thing was the UNICEF agreement. If the board work more on that level, the potentials are immense. Shirts didnt help Liverpool finance much. So the whole model should be taken in consediration. This is a club owned by the fans and totally financed by the fans either directly or indirectly. The more fans the club generate the better return it gets. There is the short sighted version of Sandro: Just stamp a Spaghetti picture on the shirt and count the money earned. The other version is to be more focused on the values that make people care more. Create an engagement with global cases and people will buy the shirt more to finance their two passions: The club and the moral causes it represents.

        Besides, I dont understand the need to have a sponsor. It was always a subject on the table. every time the team faced a financial problem that was the first suggestion. It was always declined at the last moment, and guess what! The club survived and only got better. The club now is in a better financial situation than in 2003. If we evaluate achievements Vs costs it is still without any doubt the most successful model. Even if we consider Shirt sponsorship as the last insurance shot, obviously we are far from needing that pang already.

      • Kxevin
        August 9, 2010

        Egg-sactly.

      • mei
        August 9, 2010

        The economic situation isnt “just better” than of what we dealt with in 2003 (or more precisely what laporta presented to us) , it is MUCH better. Our net income has tripled for starters and thats a pretty solid reference.
        Rosell takes the standard route that learnt from laporta in 2003 ; with the difference that laporta took over a much worse side , with fans hungry for success and in a declining mediocre financial status(laporta of course claimed that he took over a sinking ship only to be seen as a miracle man one year and a half later that stabilized the club).Rosell takes over a successful club that is financially solid .Where do you go from there?
        Oh and while im proud of the mes que un club title for our club and very supportive of the charity work of the foundation , charity , environmental causes , activisms etc pays off a long way at this time. It is a pretty safe investment for anyone that is willing enough to think in medium/longterm.

      • barca96
        August 9, 2010

        To my surprise, I saw a Herbalife logo on the right side of the sleeve last night. How long is that deal?

      • Kxevin
        August 9, 2010

        AFAIK, it was a single-match thing, since the LFP patch goes there during the real matches. My guess is that Herbalife signed on as a single-match sponsor, because the only advertising that we will traditionally do is for TV3 and LFP, with occasional one-offs such as the MES shirts (and logo on the home shirts), or La Marato (de TV3), which is a medical foundation that the club supports.

      • Jose
        August 9, 2010

        I also wouldn’t want a shirt sponsor, and no, getting one doesn’t mean we “catch up” with the other big clubs. More like “stoop down”.

        I will always be a cule, but it will be a sad, sad day for me when we smear a gambling website or a beer, etc. across our kit. Even sadder if our stadium is labeled not the Camp Nou, but something like “Emirates Stadium” or “Pizza Hut Park”.

  35. Kxevin
    August 9, 2010

    Hey, The Yaya says that moving to Citeh isn’t a step down, because “the Premier League is amazing. It is stronger than La Liga.”

    –Not according to the current league rankings, buttressed by the fact that there were NO Premiership sides in the CL semis last season.
    –League champions of said stronger league to 5th-place(?) side.
    –Champions League semi-finalist and favorite (again) this year to club watching Champions League on TV.
    –Most famous Argentine: Messi vs Tevez.

    I don’t mind The Yaya making the move, or making the deal that he did. I don’t even mind him saying the things that he has to say to make himself feel better. But statistically, his view isn’t supportable.

    • mei
      August 9, 2010

      well what did you expect?
      The team is mediocre, is not competing in the UCL and the league is just like everything else I just did it for the money!?
      Yaya is up for some nasty surprises this year.
      He held down that attitude that showed while he made his name in Greece for a while but its all coming back and Im really glad hes not in barca to create a mess in the lockers.

  36. Kari
    August 9, 2010

    What I find interesting about our “debt” is that it includes the (very successful) basketball team, futsal team, handball team, track and field team…

    With our b-ball team winning the basketball version of the CL, wouldn’t they be entitled to bonuses as well? Our handball team won stuff too, right? They’d have bonuses as well.

    Long explanation short: Rosell is a -insertexpletivehere-

  37. August 9, 2010

    I think Yaya left mainly cause he wanted to play with his brother. As for the EPL being stronger, who knows, it might be true. Difficult to gage these things.

    ” It’s principle. If we sell the shirt, we might as well go from “more than a club” to “just another club.” ”

    Yeah, Kxev, I feel the same way. It would break my heart if Rosell sold us out. Part of what made me fall in love with Barça was the fact that we have no sponsor on our shirt.

    • ooga aga
      August 9, 2010

      with you guys here 100%. i will be completely disillusioned. F*** Rosell and the people that elected him, if he sells the shirt — he mentioned he might during the campaign and they still voted for him — neolioberal MF

  38. August 9, 2010

    Also as far as challenges go it is arguably a step up to try to take Man City to the next level. Maybe after that he will try to win the Champion’s League with Standard Liége, now that would REALLY be a step up :p

  39. Kari
    August 9, 2010

    Kxevin (Isaiah, Luke, SoMa, Euler,….Hector…? 🙁 ), I think we should get a full-on post on the integrity of the media because this is really starting to get outta hand. It’s like a new game for the Italian and, especially English, media: what many far-fetched lies can we attribute to Barca players before someone calls BS on us?

    Puyol already did, an Argentine journalist already did, but we all know the damage is done.

    I’ve noticed it earlier, because I always look at the source of the quotes before I (even somewhat) believe them, but this is just annoying. It pisses me off because people who already have deep lying prejudices and don’t care to know what are players are like off the pitch (i.e Xavi is sincere and honest in his interview, but not disrespectful) just point to these false quotes and go “barsa are classless and disrespectful c****s, f##k Farca!”

    We should also get a post on how Rosell and his entourage are already doing, or in the midst of doing, everything I feared they would, including sullying the club’s image for a personal feud.

    I hate him.

    • jordi™
      August 9, 2010

      Its ridiculous,as far as i know Xavi hasnt even given any interviews to el pais about winning the world cup yet, where are theses other “sources” finding him?They have him on speed dial?They think that just because at times xavi has been known to be less than humble or gracious , its not a stretch of imagination to believe he would say certain things but that doesnt give them the right to make quotes up.The thing is, apart from being bitter immediately after a defeat, xavi’s interviews are always intelligent, but they are making him out to be some kind of knuckle dragging simpleton who is obsessed with cesc.The club’s lawyers need to do something about this rampant dishonesty, taking down the story is not enough( i was going to say apologies but we dont even get that).

  40. CuleToon
    August 9, 2010

    I remember a guy named Genis that advocated a lot for Busquets at the old barcelona.theoffside.com. That’s what he said after his second official match with Barça.

    «Genis |  September 23rd, 2008 at 12:31 am

    I appreciate Yaya as much as anyone, really, but I suspect that many of you see Busquets as a menace to Yaya and tend to downplay his performance. […] At least for me, it’s been MANY years since I had seen someone play so many first-touch passes […] I’ll repost some of Busquets’ stats for the last match (Sporting Gijón): 48 good passes of a total of 50, 9 steals, 5 faults received, one fault made. As for his first official match, and FWIW, I only remember another debut of a nursery guy at the Camp Nou as dazzling as that of Busquets: that of Messi (and Messi made his debut on a Gamper match) […] The funny thing is that, except Pep, it seems that nobody saw it coming, since Busi (that’s how we called his father) didn’t shine specially in the preseason matches […] And, yes, now it’s more clear why we offloaded Marc Crosas.»

    Credit to whom credit is due.

    • Kxevin
      August 9, 2010

      I got to spend a pretty wonderful day with Genis and his family a few years back, in Barcelona. Not sure where he is now. Like Hector, he has vanished into the sands of time …. or something.

      Nice find, CuleToon.

  41. vicsoc8
    August 9, 2010

    I really want to post my thoughts on a potential Ozil deal, but I’m afraid to get Hectored!

    Let’s just say I’m skeptical.

    • Jnice
      August 9, 2010

      I’m skeptical of the rumor…

  42. drew
    August 9, 2010

    dont think pep wants ozil and rosell through the media is pressuring him to accept.
    its pretty much ozil vs. progression of jds and thiago, but that doesnt make sense to me since we wanted to sign 23 year old cesc

  43. jaymin
    August 9, 2010

    xavi should sue The Sun for slander and false attribution.

  44. Jnice
    August 9, 2010

    Rafael Honigstein (twitter):

    “Just spoke to sources close to Özil. they have no knowledge of a deal with Barca.”

    • vicsoc8
      August 9, 2010

      Saw that. I really am having trouble seeing where Ozil fits. Can we please sign a hybrid DM/CB? Thanks.

  45. Euler
    August 9, 2010

    The Ozil rumors seem unlikely. There are no reports of this story coming out of Germany. It’s only the Catalan press – though multiple outlets.

    The situation is concerning. Seems like someone is trying to create a narrative of Pep turning down this player despite the Board’s recommendations.

    Seems like Ozil may have already rejected initial overtures from Barca. So this whole story about the Board having a deal with Ozil and Pep rejecting the deal in favor of internal options may be being planted by someone who wants to get that message out in Spain.

    From Honingstein in SI a few days ago (a guy who has real sources in Germany):

    Sources familiar with the situation told SI.com that talks with Real Madrid and Barcelona proved inconclusive, as neither club could convince Özil and his agent, Reza Fazeli, that he would be an automatic starter. Madrid has Kaka and Rafael van der Vaart playing in his position, and Barcelona boasts an array of small, attack-minded midfielders and a certain Lionel Messi.

    Nike, which sponsors Özil, has reportedly also cautioned against a move that might see him spend most of the coming months sitting on the bench. The U.S.-based sports company want to make Özil the German face of its campaigns and would prefer him starring in the Bundesliga rather than playing a bit part in Spain.

    There are other considerations, too. Özil, the son of Turkish immigrants, is still a very young player, on and off the pitch. Another year in the relative sedate surroundings of northern Germany would help him grow as a person and afford him more time to hone his game. It’s sometimes overlooked that last season was not just marked by his breakthrough in the national team but also marred by inconsistent performances at the club level. Guaranteed playing time in a team built around him can only benefit his development.

    *http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/raphael_honigstein/08/04/mesut.ozil/index.html

    • August 9, 2010

      Nice stuff. Thanks for the find. It just didn’t make sense to me. The Spanish and Catalan dailies are no better than anyone else when it comes to flat-out making crap up. Hence the story that Ibrahimovic shopped himself to Milan, and was trying to work out a loan deal because he was afraid that David Villa was going to take all of his minutes.

      Nonsense. Dimwitted, “We want Villa to lead the line” nonsense.

      • vicsoc8
        August 9, 2010

        Kxevin, I love you, but once you get on something you just don’t seem to be able to give it up.

        And I still respectfully disagree about Villa leading the line.

      • August 9, 2010

        That’s certainly your right. I only hold up the World Cup as evidence of how well he could do leading the line solo, then with an attention-distracting forward, even a gimpy one such as Torres.

        And I’ll even post this comment so that I can Hector myself.

  46. August 10, 2010

    mmm hope we won’t get Ozil. What would we do with him next summer when he-who-yall-dont-like-to-be-named-anymore comes?

  47. Blow-Grenade
    August 10, 2010

    As lomg back as I can remember, I have always loved Busi and his style of play. Excellent positional sense, quick change of direction, passing.
    I remember a game towards the beginning of the season when he had moved from middle of the pitch to the left of the pitch, received a pass from the back, turned around passed the ball to the forward, which resulted in a goal. Dont remember the exact match or goal. But I knew Busi could read the game when I saw that.

    • Blow-Grenade
      August 10, 2010

      Here is the pass:
      *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8nrPn71MVw
      Minute 3:04
      Good video of his skills.
      It was his pass to Ibra against Athletic Bilbao.

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