Sevilla 3, Barca 1, aka “This is no time for panic” UPDATED w/ratings

For sale. Lightly used, high maintenance. Will deal.

Lordy, what the hell happened? First of all, I’d like to give a big, giant thank-you to Comcast, who have added TVE to their lineup, which enabled me to watch this match in full, big-screen, DVRed glory.

I’m only sorry that things weren’t better. Man, did they start out well, but here is the bottom line: Depth is going to be a problem this season, but we all knew that. When ALL of your starting XI are, for one reason or another, called away from the team with a match that you’d like to win coming up, it’s no surprise that when facing a fit, rested opponent’s first-choice side, things aren’t going to go all that well.

So what happened?

1. Fatigue. You could see it in the possession statistics, as a 68-32 became a 50-50. We aren’t going to win any match in which the other side has half of the possession. Our back line is, even at its best, too fraught to allow those kinds of numbers. When you roll out a tired right back, a kid, and guy with 1.5 knees and a French Greyhound, it only goes to follow. More importantly, we got tired. You could see our players walking when the Sevilla players were running.

2. Loss of control. Messi for Ibrahimovic was a dumb move. Messi for the worthless Krkic would have been a much better move, unless Guardiola wanted to limit Ibrahimovic’s minutes. But we lost a target man that anyone takes seriously (Messi will make runs and kill you, but he isn’t an in-the-box target man). We also lost a forward who is willing to play the possession game, take the pass and knock it back to the midfield. Messi wants to do something with every ball. That ain’t always good.

3. Depth. Txigrinski, anyone, over Sergi Gomez? I’d take that one. But our president needed 15m, stat. The height would have been valuable, as well as the position defense that Txigrinski was quite capable of playing. The Sevilla goals came from simple marking issues, in every case. Fabiano split a defense that should have barred his way. Then Kanoute did the same thing, then Abidal just decided to stand there instead of marking anyone. Shameful, but not surprising.

4. Donuts, anyone? Keita was the only midfielder capable of standing up to Sevilla’s physical attack, spearheaded by Zokora. Basically, we were bullied off the pitch. They ground us down, then took advantage of it to nail 3 goals in a match that we should have been able to control had we not been a big ol’ hole where our midfield should have been.

But for the good, I have no idea what is going to happen this season with our Big Swede, but we have not had a striker who can score a goal like he did today since Real Ronaldo. I don’t have time to play silly comment-based games, so I will leave it at that. The touch and control required to one-time that ball from Maxwell past Palop, while being attended by two defenders …. are you kidding me? Now, somebody is probably going to say that Krkic could have score that goal, easily. Whatever.

We rolled out with a lineup of Mino, Alves, Sergi Gomez, Milito, Abidal, Oriol Romeu, Keita, Dos Santos, Krkic and Ibrahimovic. That’s only three players who are going to be in the starting XI when the real matches begin. Even at that, we were very strong at the beginning of the match, controlling possession and attacking Sevilla with verve and inexorable weight. The goal was inevitable. That it came from precisely the kind of simple pass that Ibrahimovic saw so rarely last season, while making the run that people say he never makes, was icing on the cake. I rather imagine that Guardiola wanted to call Rosell and say “See? See?!”

You could see a side that looked something like us, only it lacked calmness with the control, simply because right now, Dos Santos plays too quickly. Where Xavi has the presence and skills to control the ball even while being battered by Zokora, Dos Santos doesn’t, so he gets rid of the ball quickly, which makes play move too quickly, which forces us to lose possession and chase passes that needed that little extra breath before being made. Xavi calms the side down.

Once the lack of calm started happening, we starting just kicking the ball long to get it out of the way, rather than playing it along as we customarily do. This gifted Sevilla with possession, which meant that it was only a matter of time. When that time came, Sevilla took full advantage. Hats off to them. The rest will be dealt with in the ratings, the first of the season.

Team: 5. This was a unit finding its way, one that will probabaly never play together again. They did fine for a while against the might of Sevilla’s first team. The size, strength and movement of Kanoute pushed things over the edge, as it came when things were starting to get very, very sloppy as regards possession.

Guardiola: 5. He got the starting lineup right, but to my mind, he erred in subbing Messi for Ibrahimovic, and waited too long to make the Correia substitution. I also would have liked to see Dos Santos and Thiago. I don’t believe that they fill the same role, and in swapping one for the other, the exact same issue of midfield command and control existed, but in a different way. And Abidal canNOT play CB, and should never be allowed to again. There. I said it. I do think that he wanted to see what certain players could do in certain situations, so he let them pretty much play it out, to see what would happen. I don’t know that he cares that much about the SuperCopa, and I think it showed in what he did with the lineup in this match.

Mino: 5. I thought he was solid, and made an excellent reflex save off a header that was, granted, smacked right at him. Still, a lot of keepers don’t make that save. He wasn’t really called upon until he didn’t have a real chance. His back line hung him out to dry, which is why his rating is higher than a keeper who let three get past him.

Alves: 3. From positional errors and uncharacteristically sloppy control to general scatterbrainedness, this wasn’t his best match. Tired from the friendly? Maybe. But too many Sevilla attackers were able to get the corner on him, or get leverage on him to do something creative. This is unacceptable, and if he’s going to be mediocre on the defensive end, he needs to kick out the jams on the offensive end. He didn’t.

Sergi Gomez: 5. The kid showed that he has immense promise, but he isn’t ready for this level yet, and it showed. Positional sense is one of the things that separates great center backs from good ones. You just don’t get caught pinched up with a player the likes of Fabiano running around. And you place your body so that you restrict passing options from the midfield. That didn’t happen, so Sevilla’s first goal was a piece of cake. A kid and a slowpoke must have had Fabiano wiping the drool from the front of his shirt. Yes, he made some very good plays, and shows the kind of play that will earn him a serious look some day.

Milito: 3. The veteran is supposed to marshal the back line and keep things under control. He didn’t do that, and got smoked on that second goal for which Abidal also had culpability. If you go for the steal you’d better make it, otherwise your back line partners are screwed. He missed it, and from that moment on the pass for a fresh Kanoute to run past Milito as if he were waiting for a train was simple as can be. He didn’t play anything approaching the kind of match that he needed to play.

Abidal: 4. His qualities as a left back verge on unassailable. He was destroying stuff like crazy out there, and once he decided to start contributing to the attack, we became a much stronger offense. Then he switched to center back and became a disaster. I still contend that the problem with him is decision making. CB gives him two sides to worry about. He chose wrong on the second Kanoute goal.

Oriol Romeu: 4. When he wasn’t invisible, he showed promise. Our command and control stems from the qualities that make a Barca defensive midfielder: making the right pass, and being in the right position. Busquets is so good at being that safely valve. This match could have used a pure destroyer to sub it at DM, but we don’t have such a thing. I’d like to see Romeu shadowing the midfielder more, making himself available for that simple, possession-maintaining pass. I liked his movement, and again, I think that his future is bright. But he wasn’t up to it today, not in the face of grown men.

Keita: 7. Excellent match. For a while he was like the Lone Ranger out there, standing up the likes of Zokora, making simple passes and trying to maintain possession without the calm presence of Xavi out there. He looks ready to go for this season. Overall, probably our best player on the pitch today.

Dos Santos: 5. Much promise, but he has to learn to play the ball less quickly. Tempo is set by the person occupying his position. When you play fast, the whole side tends to play fast, and that’s when problems arise. It takes time to play the way that we do, and Dos Santos seems to have the problem of keeping the ball moving too quickly. Weird problem to define, right? But it manifests itself in his getting and distributing, rather than getting, surveying and then distributing. The difference is small, but huge.

Andrade: 5. Some beautiful passes and fine runs. His lack of pace caught him on two occasions that would have been excellent chances for another, pacier player. For Andrade, the defense just cut his slow ass off. I love his all-pitch game, and his willingness to not ignore the simple pass. But he was woefully deficient on helping us to maintain the kind of quality possession that we need to excel against a tough, physical opponent who wants the ball.

Krkic: 3. I know I’m not supposed to start the season punching on Cuddly Toys, but he was terrible out there, right down to a poor decision with the ball where he found himself in the box in an excellent spot, and chose to pass to a clearly offside Messi. I’m not sure how long people are going to continue making excuses for Krkic. Yes, he has good matches, but this outing spotlighted all of his deficiencies: inability to get and hold a position being foremost on that list. And his decision making with the ball needs a lot of work.

Ibrahimovic: 7. He and Keita get my joint Man of the Match today, for being stalwarts against an increasingly physical attack. Ibrahimovic was scoring, creating, making possession passes and generally being a threat that kept Sevilla honest. Once he came off, Sevilla lost their minds.


Messi (for Ibrahimovic): 3. Dire. I know he’s had a long World Cup campaign and all that jazz, but sometimes, the best play is to reset the offense rather than running at 3 or 4 defenders. You don’t have to do something for the highlight reel with every ball. Seriously. We lost a lot of control when Messi entered instead of Ibrahimovic, because he doensn’t do the kinds of back and lateral passes that Ibrahimovic will made, just to maintain possession. No knock against Messi, but sometimes it’s important to just make a simple, direct slide back to the defense.

Thiago (for Dos Santos): 5. I wasn’t that impressed, but it wasn’t a full match for him either. He had the opportunity to help us salt away, or at least control the rest of the match.

Correia (for Milito): 4. He might have played to a higher rating. His pace and sheer effort level are going to be very welcome this season.

Make no mistake, I want us to win the SuperCopa. I think it’s important to start the season right, by grabbing the first piece of silver that we can lay our hands on, starting with the rematch. I’d like to see us roll out with our first-choice squad, to see what happens.

P.S. Yes, ratings for the Team and Guardiola were initially omitted. Whoops! The record has been fixed now.


Whew! Hard day at the office

By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. @oh yes

    first off the comment about Kxevin’s nationality (to which btw i clearly added that its relevance could be a false assumption) is because as an American he might not be as aware or sensitive to what is going on in various European countries and especially not in countries whose language (thus media) he would not understand.

    As it is, he is a lot more aware than most and since I consider him an intelligent person I figured it might be his nationality which gives him a lack of perspective on a problem that goes on in Europe’s smaller leagues. Which btw is a problem that has started shortly after the introduction of the Champions League (previously named European Cup) – further accentuating the difference between Americans, most of which are not soccer fans since birth and Europeans who are born with a football in our cradle and a (yikes) deeper understanding of the (history of) European competition.

    Take yourself for example. As a Chivista from birth you do not at all mind Chicharito moving to Man Utd. That’s because Chivas will never compete with Man Utd in the same competition!!! It is a completely incomparable situation to EPL teams buying up talents from other European countries whose teams then have less talent to be able to compete with those same EPL teams.

    Also Chicharito is what, 22 yrs old? It used to be that the top leagues take the top players from the smaller leagues. We can all live with that and take pride in our players making it to the top teams. But now it has gone so far that they take our top 15 yr olds. Meaning that when we go to the stadium we are stuck with the doo-doo platter.

    Barring a miracle, never again will an Eastern European team win the CL. Or a Scottish team. Or a Dutch team. And already because of the financial developments following CL format and Bosman the football in our league (Holland) sucks big time compared to 15 yrs ago. Now that our kids are getting sold before even playing their first professional game in their home country it’s gonna suck even more.

    So while it might be cool for an American supporter to watch the fulcrum of talent in the EPL for the average European supporter it’s a disaster. And I count myself lucky to be a fan of Barça firstmost, but nevertheless it’s a horrific development in European football and I for one am very pleased that the vast majority of Barça’s youth players are not taken from other countries.

    Coincidentally the US is the only country in the world where people do care about parity between teams, hence the salary caps and draft picks in most of your professional sports leagues. I’m not saying that this is what is needed in Europe. A draft is completely impossible and nobody would want that here. But we should find a solution to these problems.

    Anyway OhYes hope you understand me better now.

    1. Actually, fans in the U.S. don’t give a rat’s about parity. Fans want their team to win every time. Sporting administrations don’t really care about parity either. They care about its effects on the bottom line. Fans who think their team has a shot at something will come to games and spend money.

      This is completely different from a salary cap, which is instituted to not only keep big teams from hogging all the players, but to prevent fiscal ruin for a league. And this doesn’t even get into hard (NHL) and soft (NBA) caps.

      The draft is meaningless when it comes to player movement. It simply gives talented college players a pro team. The NBA and NFL drafts are the most significant. The MLB (baseball) draft is probably the least significant because like football, baseball teams have farm systems, that groom and promote talented prospects.

      And if a draft is, if any inferrence is to be drawn from your comment, a good thing, why wouldn’t Europeans want a draft? Yes, it’s a technical impossibility, or is it? You put all the talented farm system players into a big pool, and you turn all the teams in Europe loose on the pool. That’s what the college football (or basketball) draft is.

      Why wouldn’t Europeans want such a thing? Possibly because nobody would want to see teams able to pick and choose from our talented farm players, maybe? Or Arsenal’s or Chelsea’s?

      But make no mistake, a FIFA-controlled draft would be easily workable. The only impediment to it is whereas in America you have a single league, in Europe every country has its own league. So FIFA runs the draft, and off you go.

      Now. Should a farm club lose out on a player, because it paid to develop that player? Good question. After all, the players are leaving college, and have to do something to further their playing careers. Our farm has a Segunda and Primera side for our products to go to. Hmmm. Good question that sounds like an Isaiah post for the future.

    2. “because as an American he might not be as aware or sensitive”

      Lol what? I don’t understand why you’d say something like that to an American supporting a club from a different country that speaks a different language and has its own unique culture. I don’t know what any American can possibly do to take that silly stereotype out but it seems as if we have to be fully knowledgeable and sensitive of every culture in the world and of every language if we even want to be considered “culturally aware.” We have people from all over the world in America; I think we’re good with culture.

      “That’s because Chivas will never compete with Man Utd in the same competition!”

      Uhh, so? Your gripe is with certain leagues taking foreign talent. That’s what’s happening here. A super league from Europe has come to take a player from my beloved team. That’s the scenario you’re debating against. I don’t know what being in the same competition has to do with any of this. If Manchester United can accept players from Chivas, there is a competition between the two. Even if it’s not a big one, even if it’s not direct, even if ManU isn’t taking trophies from Chivas to place in their own cabinet there’s a competition for talent and isn’t that your main point? Or are you just worried about trophies, and thus quite ironically supporting the cause of the disparity between teams that you’re arguing against?

      And Chicharito’s age is of no importance to me. If he were 18 and got traded to ManU, I’d still be happy for him. He’s young and already good enough to make it to ManU? “Good for you, kid!” I’m just proud that he came from the Chivas system. And the same goes for Vela and others like Salcido. It’s not just about age or trophies it’s also about my team and my country creating good talent.

      “for an American supporter to watch the fulcrum of talent in the EPL for the average European supporter it’s a disaster.”

      See here we go again with the European elitist angle. Uh I don’t know if you have noticed this or not but plenty of Europeans enjoy watching the fulcrum of talent in the EPL and other big leagues in Europe. I mean.. it’s not like soccer is a popular sport in America. So again, why are you even bringing this up? Have you not realized that the EPL is biggest in the U.K.? Go talk to them about this, we’re not the league’s main audience.

      “But we should find a solution to these problems.”

      Again, why? It works perfectly fine the way it is now. Some clubs have more pull than others, whether it’s with money or trophies. That’s to be expected. Even the amateur leagues have only a few teams that actually win trophies. And you can’t even bring money into that because there isn’t. In the amateur leagues, trophies are what make a team big and there are huge disparities between clubs there as well.

      Just learn to live with it. Life aint fair and soccer aint fair.

  2. Right, so, ummm, getting away from this Arsenal/Barca/Youth Team slug-fest? that has somehow become somewhat personal; who else is super excited to see Villa in training for us?

    I see Villa as an older version of Bojan (or Bojan the younger Villa), by the by, so I was over the moon when he signed! (I am entitled to this delusion, okay?)

    I hope he plays on Saturday, along with the first XI. Highly unlikely, I know, but one can dream, no? Just imagining opening the First Team Can of Whoop As$ on them has me–wait, gotta wipe off the drool–itching for Saturday to come!

    1. I watched Oezil play at the World Cup against Argentina and made a point to watch him. His positional sense and intelligence were very impressive. He dragged Masch and the Argentinian defenders marking him all over the pitch creating space for other players to fill.

      Argentina’s broken system let them get outnumbered in midfield. That’s the main reason why Schweinsteiger had so much time and space on the ball.

      Argentina prioritized marking Oezil that match. In his advanced position in the final third, Oezil moved defenders around over and over to create space for others to exploit. Great vision not only in making those through passes, but also in his sense of space.

      It is not common to see a 21 year old player have that kind of tactical understanding of the game. Technique, pace, skill – sure there are other players his age who are as good or better. His technique and skill are quite good. But that’s not his real strength. He has a deep understanding of the game at a very young age.

    2. Look, EE offered 25m for Ozil, and Werder laughed at them. What’s the real number? Who knows, but it’s more than we should pay for him, in the context of our needs. For sure.

    3. Not saying we should sign him. Just commenting on the player. The fit isn’t ideal with Barca either for the club or player.

    4. Also, advancing in the CL is supposedly worth around 27M for Werder so I’d guess they’d want a number north of that to let him go.

  3. ok kxevin.we will see the future of tsigrinski and we will find who is wrong!!kari i have the same exciting for the best striker in the world play in second leg!and yes i am also mad that we lost oezil and mache!

  4. Sorry Kxev your comment did not appear until I already answered to OhYes, so maybe the “american” comment is better explained in my comment above.

    I’m not against foreigners at Barça or at EPL teams. Eto’o was actually my favorite player and I still miss him.

    I do not at all understand the comparison with race or nationality issues in baseball or basketball. Do the Chicago White Sox compete with my Leones de Caracas? No, so when Venezuelan players leave to play in the MLB or even in the minors we are happy for them. Now if all of them would leave it would suck for Venezuela because then baseball would suck here*. So of course in the US you don’t complain about “furriners” in your leagues because you get to the watch the cream of the crop.

    It is exactly about the imbalance and how this imbalance is growing to monstrous proportions.

    I will continue about Holland because it is the small league I know best. We were happy for Cruijff, Van Basten and Bergkamp (amongst many others) to leave Holland and play for Barça, Milan and Arsenal. At least we got to enjoy them for a while, we got to go to the stadium and see our homegrown talent. Also our teams were able to compete in the continental competitions.

    You honestly don’t think there is anything wrong with the EPL taking all this talent from all the smaller leagues before they are even adults? In case of them taking Fabregas it is ok, because Barça can cope (and has coped very well 🙂 ) without him. For the smaller leagues this will is not the case. We are already on the wrong side of the inbalance, push us even further down and we will not cope. Football in our countries is slowly getting strangled.

    You can say money is not the main factor, but I do not agree. Firstly when Chelsea offers a talents father a nice job & paycheck at the club plus a contract for the kid that in Holland would be impossible you cannot convince me it is not about money. Secondly
    the change of format of the CL has opened the door, due to a disproportionate amount of money going to the bigger leagues and thus resulting in said exposure and quality. Recruiting our youngins will forever close it and throw away the key. If it continues like this our football will resemble MLS games or worse.

    So in a way I do think you being American has a lot to do with it. You would not like at all to see the quality of your own leagues being drained like this. It is not about our best players leaving. It is about ALL of our best players leaving and my issue is specifically about our kids leaving so that we do not even have potentially good players anymore.

    If you were Dutch, Belgian or Portuguese you would definitely be more aware of the detrimental effect it is having on the majority of the European leagues, albeit to the benefit of one league, the EPL.

    However, the majority of Europeans are not from England. It is our sport too and our sporting institutions should be protected from staying somewhat competitive.

    Johan Cruijff has for a long time advocated a 6+5 rule, meaning every European team should field 6 homegrown players and 5 foreigners. Not because he is racist, but exactly because he feels various European leagues are worth protecting.

    Again, our leagues are already being eroded by the CL and Bosman. Taking our kids is one step too far!

    *to be honest I don’t like baseball anyway 😛

    1. Dude, I’m from Canada. I know exactly what it’s like to have your best players leave to play elsewhere. And trust me, you don’t need to be young to jump ship!

    2. Still, Lev, you automatically lose the argument for being a Leones de Caracas fan.

      I mean, ew.

    3. What I mean is that once baseball got its mind around black players, nobody gave too much of a damn. Latin Americans are all over, and in many cases dominate American baseball, and nobody cares. European players are kicking butt and taking names in the NBA, and nobody cares. This is my point. It doesn’t matter where players come from for fans, if those players help them win.

      Also, there are those who make the argument that rather than viewing the pool of talent as finite, so when one league takes player A, there goes that apportionment of talent, some say the more the merrier, that when player A goes to Chelsea, player B has a shot at Ajax.

      And nobody should bellow about league quality to an American football fan. We have the MLS. As soon as anybody who is worth a damn gets noticed, they go to Europe first chance they get. And what’s wrong with that? I’d rather see talented MLS players coming from youth systems anyhow, raising the overall level of the game so that I don’t have to watch the Chicago Fire with a blindfold.

      But the best athletes in the U.S. don’t play football. Who would want to play in the league in which the average player salary is lower than the reporter covering that day’s match? So no, I don’t mind one bit the talent level being diluted by big-time football, in the cases in which an MLS player goes to Europe. That’s part of the game. Every profession has a major league, so to speak, and the players have aspirations to get there. People don’t snark at a reporter from the Cleveland Plain-Dealer wanting to go to the New York Times, right? Why should footballers be any different?

    4. And for me, the 6+5 rule is xenophobic nonsense. Who the hell cares? Is football an international game, or is it not? If Arsenal don’t want to start any Englishmen, that should be that club’s right. The 6+5 rule (which is another argument altogether) doesn’t stimulate overall league quality. It just ensures that more mediocre players who meet its strictures have jobs.

      Premiership sides don’t have more English players because they are eschewing said players for foreign ones. They know that winning puts butts in the seats and money in the coffers.

      The real question is which team is more interesting to watch, a team of 6 adquately talented native-born players and 5 foreigners, or the most talented team, irrespective of player nationality?

      And this is even though my argument means that Barca will be gloriously successful for years to come, since we already meet that rule, and will for years to come. Can you imagine what would happen to the likes of Manchester United from the 6+5 rule? Here’s their most likely starting XI, with an (f) denoting non-English players:

      Van der Sar(f); Rafael (f), Vidic (f), Evans, Evra (f); Valencia (f), Fletcher, Scholes, Carrick, Park(f); Rooney. So you leave somebody out of the squad for an English player. Arsenal and Chelsea would have major difficulties.

      But as I said, that’s another argument. 6+5 was (rightly) struck down because it would violate EU labor law. But it was also easily solved, since you only had to start the match with the 6 natives. It’s not difficult to imagine substitution patterns, since the rule didn’t govern how many foreigners could be on the roster.

    5. “Firstly when Chelsea offers a talents father a nice job & paycheck at the club plus a contract for the kid that in Holland would be impossible you cannot convince me it is not about money.”

      Shouldn’t this be where the argument should come to a complete stop? Obviously it’s not up to the spectators to decide where the kids should play. It’s up to them and their families. There are instances where a good talented player wants to stay with his club at least until a certain age, and they’re probably agreeing with you. But there are many more players who have decided that they should follow the money and/or the trophies. So.. i mean.. I guess what I don’t understand is why they can’t decide that for themselves. Why do YOU need to step in and say “hey play in your own country!”

      I’m sure the smaller teams would love to have the same amount of monetary influence as the bigger clubs but they need to earn it. The bigger clubs like ManU, Liverpool, Milan etc. have all been big for a long time, before the foreigner thing and the money crap. Ajax was huge for a while and they sucked up the talent as well, but their time has came and gone, just like other teams have risen to the top and fallen. How has the situation changed from the past? Do you remember how many championships Bayern Munich won in a row? Or how dominant Italian teams were for a good while? Why can’t England have their time in the sun?

  5. (lol again my comment was made before reading your last reply. interesting discussion though thnx for the replies. in europe we would not like a draft because we like the link between our homegrown players and the supporters. we like going to the stadium to root for one of our own. I am pretty sure the people from Chicago are proud of Derek Rose playing for the Bulls (he’s from South Side, right?). Clevelanders were always proud of Lebron, being from Northeast Ohio (but let’s not open that can of worms).

    In the US it is special for a player playing for his hometown team, or his boyhood club. In Europe it is still common and we would not want a draft to ruin that.

    1. “In Europe it is still common and we would not want a draft to ruin that.”

      So in Europe you’re in favor of limiting a player’s ambition and opportunity, if at all possible? If a player has the talent to play for a big club, why shouldn’t he, at whatever stage of his career?

  6. Now if all of them would leave it would suck for Venezuela because then baseball would suck here*. So of course in the US you don’t complain about “furriners” in your leagues because you get to the watch the cream of the crop.

    Many of the argument’s you are making apply to all European leagues as a whole with respect to the developing world. Why is this is only problem for small European countries?

    The fact is that this has been a major issue football supporters all over the developing world have had to deal with because Europeans leagues have absorbed so many of their players and at such young ages. In many places European clubs have signed all of the top talent in the country. Supporter from say Brazil and Argentina and many African nations have to deal with this problem for years.

    People in all of those places have been very concerned about the impact this has on their domestic leagues and national teams.

    Many of these players wind up in the Eredivisie, for example.

    The economic dynamics are analogous to what happens between the smaller European leagues and the larger ones.

    So I’m not sure why it’s ok for small european leagues to take top players away from the domestic league in Brazil but it’s problematic for the EPL to take a player from say the Russian league?

    And people in the developing world are upset by this. Look at the debate that goes on in Brazil before every world cup. There may be no CL that countries in Europe and South American professional teams compete in, but there is the world cup. And ultimately, if Chelsea buys a Neymer than every player in Brazil no longer gets to improve his skill against that kind of talent.

    Regarding your baseball analogy – it’s kind of ironic. It seems like many European leagues like to have it both ways. They want all the best talent from developing world countries but at the same time vigorously complain about the presence of foreigners. You don’t find that in baseball to nearly the same degree. See for example, the recent regulation of EPL squad make up by nationality.

  7. I would take Masche for Hleb anyday, but I dont think he wants to go to the EE they have a long list of DMs available. I really hope pep lines up the Ideal Kick Ass starting 11 for the return leg. I am very afraid that we are not going to win any trophies this season because of squad depth.

  8. “Many of the argument’s you are making apply to all European leagues as a whole with respect to the developing world. Why is this is only problem for small European countries?”

    I live in Venezuela which isn’t really a football country, but yes I do hear what you are saying and I know that Brazilians have problems with so many of their players leaving at such a young age. It is at the detriment of their league and it is a huge shame.

    At least (and this is a huge factor), at least South American and African teams do not have to compete with the clubs that are buying their players. Boca Juniors do not play in the CL so they don’t directly compete with Chelsea for example.

    It is also true that in turn the small leagues end up with a lot of (lesser) foreign talents which in turn is detrimental to the even smaller leagues and to the leagues in the developing world. And yes, the Eredivisie is a good example of this.

    Especially tragic is the migration of African teenage footballers (and not just teenagers actually), a too large percentage of whom end up living illegally in Europe sleeping underneath a bridge somewhere.

    These are all reasons why I support Cruijff’s 6+5 idea. And I think that at any rate for a team to “import” a player who has not even turned adult there has to be an exceptional reason. Like with Messi when no Argentinian club was prepared to take the financial risk of paying for his medecin.

    1. “At least (and this is a huge factor), at least South American and African teams do not have to compete with the clubs that are buying their players.”

      That’s such bs. Can you imagine what kind of league Argentina (and Brazil) would have if European teams weren’t snatching up the talented players? Obviously there’s a bias towards Europe here.

  9. “Still, Lev, you automatically lose the argument for being a Leones de Caracas fan.

    I mean, ew.”

    claro que si chamo caracas para siempre jajaja

  10. Since when did we start calling Maxwell Andrade? I have no problem at all with it, I’m just wondering why a switch was made.

    1. Blame the old journalist here, who uses last names by force of habit. Pedro! is a bit of site humor that I’m down with going along with. I’m even more comfortable calling Xavi, Hernandez though to be technically accurate, it would be Creus.

      Everybody else who isn’t an old journalist will probably go about it the normal way. If it drives everyone nuts, however ….

    2. not really. creus is his mother’s maiden name, which is usually dropped. some times in catalan a person will put an “i” or in spanish an “y” in between the two surnames, meaning “and”. examples: xavier sala i martin or josep pep guardiola i sala.


  11. I wish Pep wasn’t so stubborn about not signing anymore players. It’s almost ridiculous. I don’t understand how last year at this point, he was complaining about the size of the squad, and now, we have two players less than last season. Is this what Arsenal fans feel every year? Credit to them. This annoys the hell out of me.

    1. Where does Caceres stand in the middle of all of this .. Is he Loaned Again ?

      I’m actually liking the Senna option right now .. He’s experienced and A very good player .. Will be cheap and will be a short term solution till Oriol develops

    2. A couple of Italian teams are interested and Roma may make a formal loan offer soon. I would hope Pep looks at him in training and gives him a chance, I mean he can play CB, LB, and RB, but who knows what Pep is thinking right now.

    3. and i think he’s doing it for a reason. maybe he’s so pissed at rosell that he’s saying “screw it” and is refusing any transfers.
      kinda like “if im going down, im doing it my way”
      whats funny/sad is both papers and almost all cules/socis are pissed about the way things are being ran yet these same papers etc.. were the ones hailing presi rosell!

    4. Manwhile Real Madrid are signing Ozil and they dont even need him :D.Another Barca fan playing for EE,eww.Ive no problem with not signing him actually, but Pep wont even start thiago, maybe to keep his ego and self confidence in check.When Andres and Keita get their customary injuries i hope pep gives him a chance.With all the games the 1st teamers have played in few the last seasons, and likelihood of a post world cup injury crisis being more than possible, its a big risk we’ll take without some reinforcements, i mean pep himself said its not ideal to have 4-5 youth players at once in a game but thats the potential situation we face in worse case scenarios.Something doesn’t add up maybe theres some behind the scenes power struggle.After having a player sold under his nose, perhaps pep feels the only control he has is the signings, unlike sales they need his ok, or he just wont play them ,as we’ve seen.Then again who says he doesn’t want players, he hasn’t said so himself, only “our” papers have and i no longer trust them even if they say the sky is blue.Puzzling, but i refuse to believe we wont sign anyone else, maybe it’ll be out of the blue like Adriano.

    5. Let’s hope it will be out of the blue.

      And Ozil, good player, but like you, I don’t mind him not signing for us. I think they want somewhere around 20m euros. For someone who has only a year left on his contract, that is too much. 15 or less and I would have done the deal.

    6. And yeah, I really want Thiago to get some time, too. I think he will get major minutes against Milan on the 25th.

  12. Deportivo wants Muniesa on loan to use as a left back… what do you all think about that?

    1. lets do it, although, you could make a case that he should probably be playing week in week out in the b team. he’s certainly not being promoted to the 1st team, i don’t think. who’s deportivo’s #1 left back now that filipe luis has left to atleti?

    2. I’m not sure, I think they are struggling for options and don’t have any natural left backs.

    3. Not for me. Muniesa has pace and is a genuine left sided CB. I think , from the liited amount I’ve seen, that he reads the game quite well. I’d see him as being the most likely to make it with us in the longer term.

  13. I agree with Lev and the argument he puts up, if you were to say that after the Bosman case the change in the EU labor and migration laws and in most leagues removal of the limit of foreigners has not SIGNIFICANTLY decreased the quality of Europe’s leagues it would be severely ignorant/deluded.
    Not to mention the huge change in CL format.

    For example consider Ajax, a team that a decade or two ago would be as big a club as Barca. Today not just them but no one in their league can even compete for the CL. It’s the same for France and Portugal. All of whom had a significant impact in European football and are now barely also-rans.

    The situation is far worse in smaller leagues.
    Atleast for South American/African players it’s tougher due to the labour/migration laws and limits of how many can be on the roster.

    This problem was BECAUSE of the changes in laws not because the clubs weren’t big enough or the leagues weren’t good enough.

    Everything till now is FACT the only difference of opinion comes in whether one sees it as a negative or not. I for one see it as a huge negative not just for football where CL is fought by 10 teams from the same 4 countries every year and most smaller leagues are piss poor but where kids are uprooted from the countries at the age of 14 so they earn money for their family and get their parents a job. It’s almost as bad as child labour.

    Football’s governing bodies and those concerned for the game see it as such too and are trying to find ways to curb this which is why you see everyone pushing for limitations on foreign players.

    While I think you don’t have to be European to understand this, I guess being from Europe would certainly aid in being aware or sensitive to the issue which I guess was Lev’s point.

    1. /


  14. On the topic of the match and squad depth, I think people are taking a glorified friendly too seriously. And since when is team with 3 regular starters expected to beat Sevilla at their home? Not to mention a tired side with a thread-bare preseason.

    If we have a starting 10 with JDS or Thiago covering for Xavi/Iniesta I’m fine with it. I think such an XI can win most matches. Then there’s Keita, Maxwell and possibly Adriano as well. That is without counting on Hleb.

    The attack doesn’t need any improvements while in defence IMO Caceres is good enough to be our 4th CB along with Fontas and even provide good defensive option at RB.

    So the only real problem is DM where an old experienced player like Senna or 15-20M plus Hleb for Mascherano would be great deals.

    Depor would be a great place to get experience if he is reasonably sure of being used though loans and Barca don’t mix well.

  15. I think the Muniesa loan deal depends on two things…

    1. Whether or not Deportivo gives us assurances of playing time

    2. What position does Pep want Muniesa to play on Barça. If he wants him to be primarily a center back, I think Pep would rather let him play week in, week out in that position for Barça B.

    But still, competition for center back is tough on that team too because there is Fontas, Bartra, and Armando.

    And since Wilshere is staying with Arsenal, apparently Bolton want Thiago on loan for the season, but we will obviously turn that down since we need him this season. I would love to see him play every week, though (preferably in La Liga).

    1. Well he plays both positions well, i think like puyol did in his early years it wouldnt be bad if he played as a fullback to get games.It would be good experience, but i dont know about depor, i havent forgotten about Lendoiro last year.If i was in charge id give him the finger whenever he asked for our players :D.If i had my teeth pulled i guess id agree begrudgingly, it certainly would be good for him to start in the Primera.Probably wont happen though.

  16. hmm, I know Abidal was a disaster at CB but I think it was more harm not having abidal at LB then at CB. I know its stupid but I agree Abidal was terrible at CB, but that is the reason why he will be possibly our 4th or 5th choice CB. The reason why Pep was so eager to sign Adriano is to make sure we have cover for our fullbacks, because now Adriano is in the squad, Puyol doesn’t have to shift to RB or LB anymore. and so it makes sense that maybe it is not necessary to panic and spend a bucket load of cash on a 4th choice cb or midfielder that will probably play 5 minutes a month and add more to the bonus payments lol.

    I also believe Bojan had a terrible game at RW. I don’t know why but he does find it hard to adjust his game, he receives the ball and straight away he gets closed down by two Seville and no other teammate is close enough to help, and Bojan really has no hope but to keep winning throw ins or something. Bojan isn’t ready to be a star player, its obvious, Seville applied the pressure and Bojan had no answer. But I dont think this spells the end of his development or the doorway to his ultimate doom. Its part of his experience, he went out their to test himself against one of the very best competition you will find in La liga and europe and well he wasn’t fast or strong enough.

    I think Bojan may have walked out of this match thinking that he might need to try more harder training and preparing, Maybe he needs to work on thinking quicker and making more solid decisions. This also applies to the rest of the squad and also gives a little taste to the youth players on what is required to play for a winning side.

    Losing a game now may not be so bad after all, maybe it was actually a good way to measure the level that the players need to be for when the season starts. Maybe we are actually along with Seville at an advantage to lets say Real madrid at this stage because its as if we have already begun our season campaign and we should be firing hopefully on nearly all our cylinders when we start the season.

  17. if we don.t make any transfer is a pep desicion.when you said that pep doing that cause is pissed with the board you make a BIG mistake.pep is our coach and love the team more than us.he want the best for barca.i said it before and i will say it again.we don.t have money for good was obvious time is a necessary risk and i am with pep in that risk.

  18. I don’t think its a money issue, I think its limiting the amount of liabilities. Pep doesn’t want a whole lot of players laying around doing nothing because they are not good enough. He wants to make sure he can have a squad where he can depend on all of them. If not dependable, atleast he can have players he is accustomed to. Unlike going out and buying 4 million dollar back-ups that will probably fail but also would need time to adjust, then if Pep can’t depend on them then they complain and go sour.

  19. ” “At least (and this is a huge factor), at least South American and African teams do not have to compete with the clubs that are buying their players.”

    That’s such bs. Can you imagine what kind of league Argentina (and Brazil) would have if European teams weren’t snatching up the talented players? Obviously there’s a bias towards Europe here. ”

    I’m just gonna reply to this, after which I will let the issue lie as not to disrupt the thread too much. At least I will try! :p

    OhYes please read the post that you are replying to. I already agreed with what you are saying. I live in South America and Copa Libertadores (for example) is on TV all the time. It would be nice for me to have better players in this competition.

    Still it is kind of hard to call BS on the fact that South American teams do not compete with European teams. Since when does Chivas compete in the Champion’s League????

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