Welcome, Andreu Fontas

Sporting vice-president Josep Bartomeu said that, rather than making an emergency signing to replace our own French Greyhound, Eric Abidal, that we are going to promote Andreu Fontas to the first team. Those who might have been living under a rock should know that Abidal is going under the knife Thursday to remove a tumor on his liver.

So welcome, Fontas. Those of us who have witnessed his stints have been wondering whether he has the stuff, and I guess that we’re about to find out. His arrival adds one more Catalan to the first team as well, for those keeping count.

He’s a 21-year-old centerback, whose strengths are positioning, passing and movement. He’s very reminiscent of our Piquenbauer, pre-Shakira. He’s a big’un at 6-foot-1, and began life as a defensive midfielder, which probably explains his movement qualities, and comfort with the ball at his feet. And he’s coming at a great time, as his apprenticeship will be at the feet of the Master, Captain Caveman himself, Carles Puyol.

Let’s all wish him the best. He has a heavy load to assume, and we’ll see if he’s ready.

Fontas made his first-team debut against Sporting Gijon in 2009. He started for us last year, in an 8-0 can of whipass that we opened up on Almeria. And remember that 50-yard pass to Pedro!!, that had all of us thinking “So that’s what Pique is always trying to do!” That same year he was a standout against Rubin Kazan in a 2-0 home win. He even scored a goal in that meaningless Champions League outing.

Here’s a Fontas highlight reel:

P.S. I’ve never hoped that Guillem Balague is more right, but he was citing club medical sources as saying the tumor is almost certainly benign, and they say Abidal will be back in 4-6 weeks.

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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. BarcaGirl_Indo
    March 16, 2011

    “He’s a 21-year-old centerback, whose strengths are positioning, passing and movement. He’s very reminiscent of our Piquenbauer, pre-Shakira.”

    MTE… we lost our Piquenbauer this season, he’s gone… I hope just for a while…

    here’s hoping we’ll have a Fontasenbauer… 🙂

  2. Kariyanna
    March 16, 2011

    I wonder whats his chances of starting this weekend…Hope he isn’t just promoted to be a cheerleader on the bench since hes needed in Barca B

  3. outerspacedout
    March 16, 2011

    Ah Fontasenbauer doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. Maybe Fontaresi?

    @Barcaleya: Are you new? If so a warm welcome to you too.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      March 16, 2011

      hahaha… yea, I just randomly wrote that… 😛

    • Barcaleya
      March 16, 2011

      Hi outerspacedout! Thanks for the warm welcome 😀

      I’ve been reading the blog and enjoying all the posts and comments for a couple of months now. I’ve joined one liveblog, I think, and have been participating a bit. I’ve supported Barca since 2000 although I haven’t seen a lot of their games since I moved to the US. Been watching livestreams recently though. But even when I miss the games, I get a feel of it just by reading the liveblog. Very entertaining coupled with the very informative post-match review.

      I’m so happy to find fellow Barcelona fans here 😀

  4. jordi™
    March 16, 2011

    “He’s very reminiscent of our Piquenbauer, pre-Shakira”

    🙁 I cant even remember the last time Gerard has been worthy of his Der Kaiser homage. November?

    Anyway goodluck to Fontas.Atleast we should have some decent longballs from the back again *sigh*

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      March 16, 2011

      against Inter? or maybe in World Cup? 🙁

    • Ryan
      March 16, 2011

      Maybe it started when he stopped getting head wounds? It seems like he had monster games after his head starting getting bloodied up. 😛

      • Noslehcimretep
        March 16, 2011

        I agree, bandaged Pique has always been the most -nbauer.

  5. BarcaGirl_Indo
    March 16, 2011

    meanwhile, EE has a tough schedule…
    on Wednesday they played against Lyon, on Saturday they must play an away game again in La Liga…

    UNFORTUNATELY for us, they’re opponent is Pathetico…
    if it was Sevilla, Valencia, or small-but-fight hard team like Osasuna or Sporting Gijon,
    I bet EE can get a draw or even lose this time…

    I wanna see how pathetic is Pathetico,
    they can’t even get a draw in front of their supporter against a tired EE?
    that’s beyond pathetic…

    • outerspacedout
      March 16, 2011

      To quote something Ed Alvarez from his weekly Quiniela predictions is very fond to say about them, Atletico can pull defeat out of the jaws of victory.

  6. March 16, 2011

    Welcome Fontas!! Not the most tame time to be brought up.

  7. blitzen
    March 16, 2011

    FONTASTIQUE!!!!!! 😀

    I am so thrilled at this news! He deserves it!

    Just sad that Abidal’s illness is the reason for his early promotion, but I am certain he would have been promoted this summer anyway.

    • messi_fan
      March 16, 2011

      Fontastique 🙂 I like the way that sounds

  8. vicsoc
    March 16, 2011

    My take on Fontas in the games I’ve seen him play (every senior game he’s played in) is that he isn’t the type of player who really shines on the pitch, he isn’t the type of player to catch my eye and immediately make me take notice. This is in no way a knock on him – when you watch him closer he just goes about his business, and he goes about it well. What I’m trying to get it is that while I think Fontas will be succeessful in the first team and he will be a very dependable option, I’m not convinced he is the type of player we can build our future defense around.

    As Pique’s level of play has been circumspect without Puyol beside him to boss him around, I think this is going to be a major issue for the team moving forward. Every successful team has a defense that is built around a main orchestrator, a leader, the rock around which everyone else positions themselves. With Puyol getting older it is portant that the team find this new elusive defender that can be our rock, and the sooner the better. I’m slightly worried that if Abidal fully recovers and Fontas impresses the club will put off purchasing new central defender for a year or two (this is especially true with the other central defense prospects we have – Bartra and Gomez, maybe one of them will step up and be our rock). I’d rather not have the team go through limbo while we search for the “new Puyol” for lack of a better descriptor.

    Of course, this is all speculation. It isn’t really fair to judge Fontas’ future from the few occasions I’ve seen him, and it’s possible Pique will pull his head out of his rear in the future. But hey, with the way we’ve been winning I need something to worry about.

    • outerspacedout
      March 16, 2011

      The ultimate ‘player who doesn’t catch your eye and make you take notice’ is Busquets, and if he turns out as well, awesome.

      Pique will step up and be the leader eventually. He’s not gonna stay an idiot forever, and with recent distractions and the like aside he has been a beast of a centre-back.

      • vicsoc
        March 16, 2011

        “The ultimate ‘player who doesn’t catch your eye and make you take notice’ is Busquets, and if he turns out as well, awesome.”

        Very, very well said

    • blitzen
      March 16, 2011

      Not the type of player who shines on the pitch? He has been terrific for the B team this year, and he is the captain as well, btw, which says a lot about his character. And perhaps you have forgotten about this lovely piece of work from last fall’s game vs Almeria:


      • vicsoc
        March 16, 2011

        Perhaps I chose my words poorly – he isn’t a player in the Puyol mold – a player who is making seemingly impossible last ditch tackles, a player who is rising 30 feet in the air to make towering headers, a player who really catches your eye and has a lot of sparkle to their game. A player with spectacle essentially. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – when I’ve watched him play he always looks very comfortable and is smooth with his actions – a lot like Busquets, as outerspacedout has mentioned.

        Even that pass doesn’t scream “flashy” to me. It’s just a good, solid, down-home dependable pass in my book. I really like to see it, but it doesn’t make me wet my pants with excitement.

    • Miguel
      March 16, 2011

      bartra’s awesome, but he’s no rock. muniesa, despite the hairdo, isn’t really playing up to most people’s expectations yet either. the few times i’ve seen gomez play i haven’t really put my monacle over his play/positioning.

      where’s jnice?

    • Jackieboy
      March 16, 2011

      Hey, don’t get all mad at Pique. Puyol did have drops of form at his age too; then again, it was always amazing watching him charge down that right flank as if all the EE fans were chasing him with scissors. Why exactly did he switch to CB again?

      • BarcaGirl_Indo
        March 16, 2011

        like outerspacedout said, Pique is not gonna stay an idiot forever…

        he showed that he has that skill and talent, not just for 2 games, but for 2 SEASONS…

        he just need to find his juju back… 😀

  9. OSBAG
    March 16, 2011

    Whoa congrats are in order for fontas.
    This was naughty – “And remember that 50- yard pass to Pedro!!, that had all of us thinking “So that’s what Pique is always trying to do!”
    It would be interesting to see if pep would favor fontas to milito. He really shoulda let the dude leave in january.
    I saw a compilation of twitter handles on the last post. Mine is @osbag but I rarely tweet.
    Welldone here kxevin.

  10. ooga aga
    March 16, 2011

    possible opponents — CL draw Friday

    Manchester United (would love to sweep aside the top team in england)
    Schalke (should be easier but less interesting)
    Tottenham (my friend is a Spurs fan so I prefer to avoid)
    Chelsea (might be tougher than Man U but would love to beat them)
    Inter Milan (dont like playing against teams with Samuel Eto’o)
    Shaktar Donetsk (dont want to travel that far)
    Madrid (dont want to play them 5 times in one season)

    yes i am a fan of lists

    i hope we get Man U or Chelsea, or Schalke

    • blitzen
      March 16, 2011

      I want to play Tottenham, but not yet, so I hope we get either Schalke (easier) or Inter (difficult but more satisfying when we crush them). Do not want Shaktar, I think they would actually be our toughest opponent.

  11. outerspacedout
    March 16, 2011

    We might very well see 9 of the players on the pitch from La Masia, if Fontas starts and Bojan comes on for Villa. Every player on the pitch except the two full-backs.

    Wow what a dream it would be if in two or three years time we won the CL with an all-Masia starting eleven?

    It’s actually not an unachievable dream.

    Valdes; Pique, Puyol, Fontas; Barta looked very good as a RB against Atletico, Muniesa is a left-back; Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, possibly Fabregas, Thiago; Pedro, Bojan is he ever steps up; Messi the false 9.

    If a side-forward and full-backs good enough to start for us appear then we could have an all-Masia side. I have confidence in us getting enough good defenders, my only worry is the wing other than Pedro.

    It’s a very very achievable goal now.

    • outerspacedout
      March 16, 2011

      Barta Puyol/Fontas Pique Muniesa
      Xavi/Cesc/Thiago Iniesta
      Pedro Messi Bojan+Confidence

      Looks possible right?

  12. Miguel
    March 16, 2011

    this is awesome news for barca but it comes a little late, for me. i rationalized chignasty’s getting shipped off by rosell citing the clubs being in the doldrums, but the young centerback should have been incorporated into the squad at the beginning of the season- not this late. i can also understand how luis enrique didn’t want to let go of his team’s captain, though, too. andreu also strikes me as a player that doesn’t have much pace. does every player that throws on the colors for barca have to have a pillow soft touch? i thought caceres, showing the progress he made at juventus playing multiple roles in defense last year, would’ve been great at putting out fires a la curly cues carles. i think the partnership of fontas & pique at the back’ll be a liability, but we’ll see soon enough. every silver lining blah blah blah…

    p.s. i dug the “animo abi” stuff from los merengues today, but did they have to use such an angry looking picture of the frenchman? and why no support for miki roque? i kid. i’m happy they threw on those shirts for eric.

    • Miguel
      March 16, 2011

      *rationalized…thinking fontas would be promoted

  13. blitzen
    March 16, 2011

    I wanted to add that I also feel a bit of sympathy for Fontas. As thrilled as I am sure he is to be promoted, we should remember that he is the captain of the B team and is being pulled out of a very successful season with teammates he has played with for a very long time. It is for the greater good, but he wouldn’t be human if he didn’t have regrets for not being able to finish his last season with his friends.

    • Miguel
      March 16, 2011

      he’s going to the same school as them still, just playing in the big kids’ playground now. 😉

    • Jnice
      March 16, 2011

      While I think Fontas would want to finish the season with Barça B, I also think he’s extremely delighted to be with the first team right now. That’s the ultimate goal for players in the youth system anyway.

      • blitzen
        March 16, 2011

        Of course, but no athlete likes to leave a project unfinished, especially a successful one.

        • Miguel
          March 16, 2011

          what’s the project, though? it’s not like barca b can get promoted to la liga, obviously, & in fourth place they’re not in any danger of being relegated. i’m sure fontas is happy to get the nod.

      • outerspacedout
        March 16, 2011

        For some reason, scrolling from bottom up, the first thing that came into my mind when I saw that comment was ‘Wild Things?’. Then I scrolled up further to see it was the Adidas ad.

  14. Jnice
    March 16, 2011

    I’m happy for him and I really hope he plays against Getafe or Almeria at least.

    Busquets at center back and Mascherano in midfield against Getafe is a no no considering they are both 1 yellow card away from suspension.

    • blitzen
      March 16, 2011

      True. I would like to see:

      Alves Pique Fontas Maxwell
      Xavi Mascherano Iniesta
      Afellay Bojan Villa

      Except that I know Messi will start, so the front line will probably be Bojan Messi Villa instead.

      I prefer Masch to start over Busquets because he is less likely to press forward and can cover for any slip-ups from Pique or Fontas. Same reason I prefer Maxi over Adriano for this game.

      And how sad is it that I prefer both new boy Fontas and a sub-par Pique to start over Milito? I feel bad, but he is just too damned slow these days.

  15. Sheena
    March 16, 2011

    Although there’s no chance of this happening: I would really like it if we were to draw Schalke in the next round. They aren’t pushovers by any means, but they’re probably the least dangerous. Plus, I’d like to see us crush Raul.

    I’m just going to be honest here and say that I genuinely don’t want to face Madrid. At least not just yet. I’m glad that they’ve stayed in the competition so that they don’t get extra rest days ahead of the Clasico, but playing them 4 times over the course of 2 weeks doesn’t exactly fill my heart with song.

    Now, about Fontas. While he may not be the most experienced of defenders, we go on and on about how our youth system follows the same philosophy of the first team, how every age group plays the exact same kind of football so that they can slot in seamlessly when the need arises.

    Now is the time to prove it. I have full faith in Fontas.

    And really, given Pique’s form as of late, Fontas is hardly a step down.

  16. barca96
    March 16, 2011

    Are you down for tonight? From 9-10 pm.
    Let me know if you’re coming.

    Would you guys rather see a
    Pique-Milito at CB

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      March 16, 2011

      I’ll go with Pique-Fontas…

      that boy can’t be worse than Milito, can he?

      • barca96
        March 16, 2011

        Why does Milito get such a bad rep here?
        Milito has been solid other than a few mistakes but so has Pique.
        He is no way worse than Marquez last season.

        • BarcaGirl_Indo
          March 16, 2011

          I don’t think Milito is THAT bad…
          and yes, I agree Marquez was worse…
          but Pep even chose Busi (a DM) over Milito (a CB), that says a lot about Milito this season…

          I’m just saying can Fontas be worse than him?

          If he’s not worse than Milito, why not give our young player times to show up?

  17. OSBAG
    March 16, 2011

    I kind of feel sorRy for milito. He’s become so you unreliable after his injuries. Would take lots of rep to get him bck in form. Reason why pep should have let him go

  18. Anonymous_69
    March 16, 2011

    Fontas is definitely a talented defender. He isn’t too flashy, but he is very solid and composed. Bartra perhaps is a little bit more talented, but he needs one more season with the B team, as he is still very prone to mistakes. Fontas is very strong physical, he is tough to beat in the air, and he has okay pace. One of his best attributes is his ability to read the game and bring the ball out of defense. Bartra is a little different. Bartra is best known for his explosiveness. He is as fast as anyone on our team, and he loves dribbling – sort of similar to Alves, only his natural position is in the middle. Also, Bartra is terrific at the long pass (Fontas is good at this too, but he doesn’t do it as often). And lastly, Bartra is incredibly difficult to get past on a 1v1 situation. While Fontas is more organized and smart positionally, he isn’t as good as Bartra when it comes to 1v1s. But again, don’t expect Bartra this season or even next season. He is eager, but he must remain patient, as he still has a few big problems in his play.

    Muniesa is terrific, and he is still very promising, but injuries have hampered him a little. I still see him succeeding, and if anybody watches him play regularly, they will see that he is very talented, and he has that Puyol-ish leadership, last-ditch tackle quality that neither Bartra nor Fontas possess. People underestimate Sergi Gomez too. He is way too young (he has at least another two years before he can get promoted) to be properly judged, but he is improving at an amazing rate, and he is arguably our most talented CB.

    Nothing is for certain though. Fontas might completely fail to impress Pep, Muniesa might suffer more long term injuries, Bartra might seek playing time at another club, ect. If everything goes according to plan (it almost never does), Fontas will become good player for us, Sergi Gomez will be leading with Pique, Bartra will start making a name for himself at RB and will be putting pressure on Ramos (unless Montoya and Dalmau improve a lot, I don’t really seem them as long term solutions for RB. They are more like Oleguer), and Muniesa will also be challenging for a place, or maybe even playing at LB. Anyways, that’s what I think. One of my first comments here.

    • barca96
      March 16, 2011


      Thanks for your knowledge in the B-teamers.
      Are you a regular at Totalbarca?

      Why did you have to bring Oleguer up?
      I’ve only seen Montoya once so can’t really judge him.
      But Im sure Fontas, Bartra & Muniesa are better than Oleguer as Ive seen them play multiple times.

      • Anonymous_69
        March 17, 2011

        Yeah, I comment regularly on Totalbarca. I justombrought Oleguer up because I don’t see Montoya or Dalmau as very talented players, however they are loyal and hard working nonetheless. I haven’t seen Dalmau play often, but from other sources, it appears as if he is way behind Montoya in all aspects. Other people find Montoya to be quite talented, but I’m not his biggest fan. I think he is pretty solid, and perhaps a complete player. He is adequate at most things, but he isn’t really great at anything. He has okay speed, good on 1v1s, somewhat clumsy positionally, is decent physically, is good at link up play with the midfield and forward, gets into great positions down the wings, but has below average crossing. Dalmau apparently is terrific at certain things such as speed (I hear his speed is similar to that of Walcott’s), great attacking and crossing (has played at RW a lot this season), but his defending isn’t great.

    • Ryan
      March 17, 2011

      Great first post, welcome!

      And regards to Bartra eventually replacing Ramos in the NT, I’d love to see someone do it, as I still haven’t gotten over how he completely screwed up in the Spain-USA game in the ’09 Confederations Cup. And the LB spot will soon be ready for the taking, as Capdevila can’t have too many years left in him.

        • Ryan
          March 17, 2011

          No, I finished teaching over there in August. Figures that once I leave their national team starts winning! (woo Asian Cup champs!)

  19. Pyro
    March 16, 2011

    My prayers are with Eric Abidal today. Not because he is a player of my team, but because he has shown to be an exceptional human. He always shed his all for the shirt. He always said the right things and has shown plenty of times that he really does love our club. He has shown that true love cannot be erased by money. Anims/Animo! Eric Abidal – Our French Greyhound.

  20. ooga aga
    March 16, 2011

    predicted draw

    Man U – shaktar
    Schalke – tottenham

  21. xavi
    March 17, 2011

    GIANTas promoted! Yessss!!

    I’m sorry for the circumstances in which he’s promoted… nobody would like to get chance this way, they’d like to earn it. But let’s just consider every thing would turn out well, Abi gets healed and returns to his maximum health while Fontas lives up to expectations and go on to be a legend for Barca and Spain

    The kid shouldn’t be affected by the pressure, me thinks, because he’s the captain of ‘B’, he’s already made his debut for the club and really impressed(it was a dream start for the kid and he’d sure want to live upto it which might add a little pressure), he played for Catalunya too and he’s in the middle of a dream season for ‘B’

    The B team are on course to make a historical finish in the Segunda, the highest till now being 6th position… Sure gonna miss their captain. To gain some you need to lose some, what can we do about that!?

    I’d like the team against Getafe be VV, Alves(seriously whom are we kidding!? he sure gonna play), Pique, GIANTas, Adriano, Masch(please not Busi for this, we can’t afford to lose him for suspension with the most difficult fixture of the campaign looming on to us), Xavi, Iniesta, Bojan(on the right for christ sakes, his crosses are low & deadly from the right), Villa and Afellay…. No need to start Messi if he isn’t 100% fit

    • xavi
      March 17, 2011

      Let’s just hope* every thing ends up well… HOPE not consider lol

      Oh btw, a certain Pique too made into this dream team aged just the same… So no worries

  22. Nikolo
    March 17, 2011

    How do you say his first name? Like Andrew? Or something else?

    • Jnice
      March 17, 2011

      On-dray-ooh (that wasn’t the best lol)

  23. Helge
    March 17, 2011

    Well, that’s definitely great news. I wasn’t even sure whether players can be promoted during a non-transfer-window period.

    I’d really like to see him play as a starter against Getafe, but I think he’ll only be a back-up defender for the rest of the season.

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