Spain – Switzerland U21 Final LiveBlog [Update with Thiago GOLAZO]

C’mon, guys, it’s a final — you knew there was going to be a liveblog.

And blitzen, I don’t remember giving you access to my mind. Kindly get out. 😀


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Just your neighbourhood Barca fanatic


  1. June 25, 2011

    People will be riding the Thiago bandwagon hard. We all knew it ages ago. :roll:

    • Para
      June 25, 2011

      heh, to be fair, I didn’t. 😀 I believed you guys, but I haven’t watched enough B team to really know anything about him…not that I think I do now after just a few matches, but yay anyway!

    • blitzen
      June 25, 2011

      Cesc Fabregas had this to say on his twitter about Thiago’s goal:

      Que golazooooo!!!!

  2. blitzen
    June 25, 2011

    We are so not selling Thiago. That is all. 😀

  3. Ryan
    June 25, 2011

    “Spain are the new Brazil.” From perennial underachievers to becoming the new hegemony… what a time for Spanish football!

  4. Miguel
    June 25, 2011

    they did it! I saw it!

    I think I liked “tchubirabiron” better, though.

  5. blitzen
    June 25, 2011

    Can we make Thiago our designated free kick taker instead of Dani Alves?

    • OSBAG
      June 25, 2011

      Lovely idea. If only it could actually happen

    • Obii
      June 25, 2011

      Thiago has cojones. Going for that in a final! What a playa!! *in the slumdog millionaire gameshow host voice*

  6. OSBAG
    June 25, 2011

    It was painfully obvious that bojan is unhappy during d teams celebration. When did he get the Bobo nickname or does that belong to someone else?

  7. ciaran
    June 25, 2011

    Why the hell are we offering €40million for Cesc again?
    Thiago is 20 and would start in any midfield in Europe at the minute, with the exception of our own.
    Give him the minutes and he could be the best midfielder of his generation.
    He has the ball control, passing and technique and certainly has the confidence to really make it in our team. I really hope that Cesc doesn’t come this summer and we spend the money or a world class central defender and a forward.

  8. June 25, 2011

    Jesus, time to jump off the Cesc bandwagon, lie him stay at Arsenal til 2013, the year before he is out of contract (i think) then we get him on the cheap. By that time Thiago will be as good of a player as Cesc, and a much more natutral fit…..FML, I am falling in love w/ our youngsters this summer!!!!! We are really building a dynasty here

  9. blitzen
    June 25, 2011

    Someone made this comment over at the Guardian:

    They win when they are expected to win.
    They win with no internal fighting.
    They win without even have to courtesy to get any proper injuries or at least some sort of crisis along the way.
    They win playing the best football.
    They win without ever looking like they are not going to win.
    They win by only doing what’s necessary to win and not a dot more and thus conserving energy and enthusiasm for yet more wins down the road.
    They have all the best players.
    The have all the best substitute players.
    The b’stards probably have all the best reserve players.

    They make me sick.


    • Jnice
      June 25, 2011

      I managed to find a few nuggets of denial and hate on the Spanish team in the comments on that article. People still remain skeptical of Spain… don’t know why.

      • Benj
        June 26, 2011

        Of course! Wouldnt you be skeptical of a team that won the Euro’s, the following World Cup, the Under 21 Euro’s, that are tipped to win this years Euro’s, whose National team contains 2 of the 3 Balon D’Or finalists, and is represented by no fewer than 8 of the most recent Champions League winners.

        Wouldnt you be skeptical?

        Nope 🙂

        Probably Arsenal fans, angry because Cesc doesnt start for la roja.

  10. beeeef
    June 25, 2011

    For those of you who missed the Copa Libertadores 2nd leg. Paulo Henrique Ganso player highlights. Mmmm!


  11. beeeef
    June 25, 2011

    Adu with the start?!

    What a great chance for him to make a good impression.

    • Ryan
      June 25, 2011

      This is awesome! (and a little worrisome – Please have a good game dude!)

  12. June 25, 2011

    Hey is nexy years FIFA POTY/Balon De oro based of last season, and if so, is Messi not the heavy favorite to brig home a third consecutive goldern ball thinngy??

  13. June 25, 2011

    Across the globe boys get chewed up and spit out through the football machine.

    It is really remarkable to watch Freddy Adu play right now after all of these years, all the hype, disappointment and marginalization.

    Adu is playing brilliantly. He is easily the most talented player the U.S. has on the pitch. His skill on the ball and touch are exactly the qualities U.S. players never seem to have.

    It’s like watching a player come back from the football dead.

    • Ryan
      June 25, 2011

      Hopefully these 2 performances get him away from Turkey’s 2nd league and into a team he can develop further.

      • June 25, 2011

        Absolutely. Though reportedly it’s been going to the Turkish second division that really got him to turn things around. Perhaps it was hitting rock bottom.

        He should definitely be in a better league.

        He has talent.

    • Jnice
      June 25, 2011

      Euler, you read the news about Chelsea joining the bidding for Sanchez? Haha, anyway….

      Fun game to watch. Like you say, Freddy is definitely the most talented of the US players (sorry Dempsey fans), I contend that he should’ve been in the team long ago. I mean, Jozy wasn’t playing for his club yet he was still an automatic starter.

      Oh, and I don’t like Michael Bradley, I don’t care what anyone says or how many goals he manages to score. He lacks fluidity and has already lost the ball 3 times in crucial areas in the midfield. I will never be convinced he is a quality player. He certainly isn’t better than Mo Edu.

      • Ryan
        June 25, 2011

        You’ll have to wait till Senior Bradley is not the coach for his son to be dropped though.

      • June 25, 2011

        Also – on the Chelsea news for Sanchez – I saw that. I am really hoping it’s not true as that will simply add to the circus. I think the story was only in the Daily Mail so it could just be completely made up.

        That said – they could really use Sanchez. Chelsea’s midfield is terrible and needs to be completely refashioned.

        Playing Sanchez as a trequarista will only help Torres. And pairing Sanchez and Lukaku would be a very good duo moving into the future.

        There are also new reports of City once again increasing their offer.

        This I do believe. Mancini must be raising hell about getting Sanchez at all costs.

        The pressure on Sanchez to sign with City must be getting overwhelming. I bet his agent is also telling him how much money he would be losing not going to City.

        Barca can’t compete with City or Chelsea. So don’t even bother trying.

        Just have to hope Sanchez really does only want to play at Barca and is going to force Pozzo’s hand.

        But it’s getting very complicated. And the Copa is coming up…

        Both Chelsea and City can afford to wait if need be as their owners will just free up more cash for a signing after the copa even if it’s last minute.

        Barca has a lot of business that needs to be taken care of.

        But I fully expect us to spend endless amounts of time on Fabergas very shortly…

        • Jnice
          June 25, 2011

          But I fully expect us to spend endless amounts of time on Fabergas very shortly…

          Listening to Talk Sport today, everyone in England seems to be convinced a deal will be struck this summer. Former Arsenal players are even encouraging Wenger to sell.

          I still remain skeptical, but it seems increasingly likely he may come.

          Also, Arsenal fans on twitter need to shutup with the “Thiago plus 40m for Cesc” nonsense. Like Ramzi said earlier today, it should be the other way around. 🙂

          • June 25, 2011

            Arsenal fans on twitter need to shutup with the “Thiago plus 40m for Cesc” nonsense

            Thank God I don’t have Twitter. I’d be going thermonuclear on those foo’s.

  14. June 25, 2011

    Years ago the U.S. took England as it’s model for developing it’s national football program.

    And the U.S. never recovered from that strategic mistake. Rather than pattern itself after say – Germany – they picked England.

    In 2006 when they had the chance to correct course – they passed it up and didn’t hire Jurgen Klinsman.

    Instead – Bob Bradley.

    There’s so little systematic understanding of the game. As in England – something negative happens and it’s just a mater of not giving enough “effort” or “heart”, etc.

    Just as with England – the U.S. over and over and over gets killed between the lines. Gio is just running rampant through that space. But the U.S. just doesn’t seem to understand this.

    The U.S. was up 2-0. Now it’s 2-2.

    The Fox announcers – former players – are now saying that the key to the game is “solidifying the back four.”

    The back four is terrible – they have no pace.

    But the fundamental problem is between the lines – not the back four. If you provide the opposition time and space on the ball between the lines the back four is going to get picked apart.

    They don’t even understand the problem that needs to be fixed. It’s just so fruitless.

    • Para
      June 25, 2011

      When you say that they used England as a model, what do you mean? Do you mean in terms of style of play, or to do with the set up of player development, etc?

      (This has very little to do with the gold cup, and much more to do with the fact that I know next to nothing about American football).

      • June 25, 2011

        It’s the entire foundation for how the U.S. has set up their development programs and how the game is played. How it’s understood and conceptualized.

        Just as a concrete example – the U.S. adopted the 4-4-2 and never really changed that base formation.

        The emphasis is on “physicality” and “hard work” rather than technique and possession.

        Style wise – they play long balls all the time. And then run. And run more.

        Kids at a very young age are put out on the pitch and just told to play rather than instructed in skills.

        It’s the whole program and way the game is understood.

        We taught ourselves how the game “should” be played by looking to England – tactically, stylistically, and organizationally.

        And the same problems England runs into the U.S. has – only the U.S. is much less talented. It’s not pretty.

  15. June 25, 2011


    Very entertaining match. Both teams really lack pace at the back and are still trying to push up and that’s making the match completely wide open.

    On Bradley – he is quintessential U.S. player. Lots of “heart,” “effort,” “leaves it out on the pitch,” etc, etc. He has all of the fictional things that don’t really matter but has very poor touch, limited on the ball, doesn’t have much pace, doesn’t circulate the ball quickly, etc.

    Bob Bradely is just an awful manager.

    And the U.S. falls behind – once again from play between the lines.

    They are awful in this region – and always have been. And no one bothers to fix it.

    The manager doesn’t seem to know what the problems are. So they never get fixed.

    Sunil Gulati not hiring Klinsmen in 2006 is a mistake the U.S. won’t recover from for years and years. What a horrible decision. The guy in the country who knows more about the game than anyone else wants to be able to define the program – and you say no. You’re asking for too much “control.”

    I haven’t seen Adu play much at all in years – have to say – he looks very good.

    You can watch for 5 minutes and it’s clear that he can play in ways that no one else on the U.S. can.

    I really hope he gets out of Turkey.

    The U.S. is getting killed in exactly the region of the pitch he’s theoretically responsible for.

    • Jnice
      June 25, 2011

      Sunil Gulati not hiring Klinsmen in 2006 is a mistake the U.S. won’t recover from for years and years. What a horrible decision. The guy in the country who knows more about the game than anyone else wants to be able to define the program – and you say no. You’re asking for too much “control.”

      It’s just silly.

    • Ezequiel
      June 26, 2011

      While Klinsmann had a refreshing WC2006 with Germany, his success was based on personal and social qualitites rather than tactics. The fact that the current head coach Joachim Loew was the tactician and Klinsmann was more of a motivator was actually widely reported in the German media.

    • June 25, 2011

      Beautiful touch. Just wonderful.

      He should be a much better player at the club level than he’s been.

      All that said – I still absolutely hate that thing on his head. And I especially hate it because it reminds of the dumb thing Ronnie used to wear as he deteriorated.

      • Jnice
        June 25, 2011

        And I especially hate it because it reminds of the dumb thing Ronnie used to wear as he deteriorated.

        Yup. I maintain (somewhat jokingly) that Ronaldinho’s form deteriorated because of that stupid thing.

        Gio used to be my boy. I was sad for awhile after he left.

    • June 25, 2011

      I just saw Gio score the best goal of international football in years… Jesus Christ…

      • June 25, 2011

        It’s even more impressive in slow motion. It was exactly where it needed to be.

        • June 25, 2011

          It was a brilliant piece of skill.

          Must be absolutely electric inside of the rose bowl right now.

          Outrageous goal.

          • June 25, 2011

            He didn’t even look up. Incredible close control and then he has the awareness of where the goal is, chips the ball into the one area no defender could have gotten a head to, all in the span of 5 or so seconds. Ridiculous.

            Also, ditto on the headband. I saw the Ronnie-Gio connection early, when he was still on the team. He seems to have picked up a lot of Ronnie’s habits. A shame.

  16. Ryan
    June 25, 2011

    Adu just won’t give up – look at him run while everyone walks!

  17. June 25, 2011

    Looks like Mexico’s going to Brazil in 2013. 😛

    That makes Brazil, Spain, and Mexico. In a month, we’ll know who represents CONMEBOL. Copa America starts next Friday!

    • Jnice
      June 25, 2011

      Copa America starts next Friday!

      Can’t wait.

      Wish I could watch Chile knowing that Sanchez is our player….

  18. Ryan
    June 25, 2011

    They lost a 2 goal lead vs Brazil in 2009 and did so again tonight; what a shame the US can’t finish as strong as they started! Great game by Gio, although I had quite a laugh at how many times Chicharito was offside. It seems that he got caught offside vs. Barcelona and never found his way back. 😆

    • June 25, 2011

      Horrible loss. Bob Bradely once again. There were serious tactical issues for the U.S. from the very start. A fortunate goal off a set piece doesn’t change that.

      And again – he doesn’t make the needed adjustments.

      Mexico just killed them in terms of using space.

      And the sad thing is – the U.S. won’t even learn the right lessons. They will probably conclude that this entire disaster occurred because Cherundalo was hurt. That was a factor but not the primary one. And Cherundalo and the reshuffling of the back line are not sufficient to account for just getting trashed after being up 2-0.

    • Ryan
      June 25, 2011

      As long as they don’t think it happened because of Adu and his supposed defensive liabilities, I’ll be happy! Until Bradley leaves I don’t expect much inspiration in tactics or an overarching strategy. It felt like he banished Torres after a few mediocre games – he doesn’t seem to like small and technical players.

      • June 25, 2011

        Good point on Torres. He seems forgotten and never got a sufficient chance.

        This is part of Bradley’s issues – he doesn’t try to develop players or the team. And when you are coach of a an NT that is trying to get better you have to develop talent. It can’t all be outsourced to the club teams.

  19. June 25, 2011

    Congratulations to Mexico. This is one of the most promising groups of players they’ve had in some time.

    If Gio actually develops and meets his talent – they could be quite good with him playing behind Chicharito.

    Their backline is really limited but their attack is impressive.

    I think JDS could add quite a bit as a central midfielder though they may need to change to a 4-3-3 type formation for him to really work.

    It’s good to see Mexico with this kind of promise.

  20. Jnice
    June 25, 2011

    Next up, Copa del Rey juvenil final at 5:30 am ET. Can’t wait.

    • June 25, 2011

      Oy vey. I don’t think I can make that. Either I go to bed now and get up in…6 hours….or stay up. Yeah, it looks like it’s impossible…

    • Sheena
      June 25, 2011

      Heh heh, now you guys finally get to experience what it’s like for us watching Liga games on the other side of the globe. 4am alarms set every other day.

      *laughs evilly*

      • beeeef
        June 25, 2011

        That’s something I don’t miss about East Asia. Games are sometimes on an ridiculous times, haha.

        The US is much better by comparison.

  21. Ryan
    June 25, 2011

    Pobrecito Bojangles on the u21 tournament:

    “”I have not had a good time but I have been ready when the coach needed me. I wanted to play more a prominent role but that was not possible. The important thing is that in the end, we were champions.”

    Sounds like his entire season, to be honest.

  22. Neel
    June 26, 2011

    I am glad that Thiago scored such an amazing goal in such an important match. I have never doubted his ability in the past and I do not doubt that he can function wonderfully in Barca. What I am glad about is that his performance in the tournament will surely put more pressure on Barca against putting him in the transfer market, if at all they have been mulling over it.

    • can_we_go_Xalvies
      June 26, 2011

      just from the first paragraph you can tell its completely made up by some random person who doesn’t know anything.

      Since when has Thiago had a nickname “little Xavi”? I’ve never ever heard of this.

      Complaining about playing time? that would work if the author published that in December, not June/july when the season ended about a month ago.

  23. blitzen
    June 26, 2011

    GOOOLLLLL!!!!! Deulofeu!

    Is it just me, or are these kids pretty effing good?!?

    • Jnice
      June 26, 2011

      He’s so deadly on the counter. Great through ball by Espinosa.

    • Goo
      June 26, 2011


      And thanks Jnice for the link. Saw it just in time for the goal.

    • Barka
      June 26, 2011

      Man I didn’t sleep and yet I still missed the first goal!!!

  24. blitzen
    June 26, 2011

    Possession must be something like 75%.

  25. Jnice
    June 26, 2011

    Luis Gustavoooooooo 2-0. Good work by Deulofeu.

  26. blitzen
    June 26, 2011

    LOL @ the Espanyol keeper. What was he doing way out there?

  27. Jnice
    June 26, 2011

    Hope Dongou comes on in the 2nd half. He’ll score a few.

  28. Barka
    June 26, 2011

    Deulofeu should have scored that chance.

  29. Para
    June 26, 2011

    argh! The disadvantage to the match being at 11:30 instead of 5:30 is that there are other people who are awake who can make you run errands. Can’t watch the match, but I take it the the wee blaugranas aren’t doing too badly?

      • Para
        June 26, 2011

        A good old fashioned rout? That’s what I like to hear 🙂

      • Jnice
        June 26, 2011

        Nope, not close at all. Except for the time Unzue decided to dribble in the box….

  30. beeeef
    June 26, 2011


    What a random location for the final lol

    • Jnice
      June 26, 2011

      Spanish federation. I guess similar to how they love to make La Roja play their matches all over Spain, they do the same for these finals. Still strange, though.

    • Para
      June 26, 2011

      I read an article on this once- someone was saying it has to do with the fact that the federation (either the president, or the whole governing body) is elected by regional football associations, and so in order to keep them all happy, they play the national team matches all over the country. It may be for the same reason.

  31. blitzen
    June 26, 2011

    That was a beautiful through-ball there.

  32. blitzen
    June 26, 2011

    I’ve never seen a female official in a Spanish game before. I hope she knows the offside rule. 😉

  33. Jnice
    June 26, 2011

    Subs are needed. Barça looking tired and getting sloppy. I don’t know why Dongou hasn’t been put in yet.

    • blitzen
      June 26, 2011

      Espanyol has been much better this half. I have no idea how that header didn’t go in. Lucky for Barca.

  34. Miguel
    June 26, 2011

    Got home late. What’d I miss?


    • blitzen
      June 26, 2011

      Goals by Deulofeu and Gustavo. Barca were brilliant in the first half, not so much the second.

      My MOTM is Deulofeu, he never stopped working.

      • blitzen
        June 26, 2011

        And Jnice is sulking because his boy Dongou hasn’t played. 😛

        • nzm
          June 26, 2011

          Don’t sulk Jnice – at least he scored the most goals for the tournament!

        • Jnice
          June 26, 2011

          Haha, he should’ve started or come in earlier in the 2nd half. He’s a menace.

          Anyway, 2-0 FT. Juvenil A make it a triplete this season. A lot of talent in this team. 7:30 am… finally going to go to sleep now. Hopefully I wake up in time for the Germany-Canada World Cup match.

          Let me leave y’all with a Thiago stat via Opta Jose:

          120 – Passes per 90 minutes by Thiago in U21 Euro2011, 38 more than any other player (Ander, 82). Pivotal

      • Miguel
        June 26, 2011

        You guys shoulda seen the México flags dudes were waving from their cars in the streets here. Freeway was a giant parade I heard. Nuts.

        • Andres
          June 26, 2011

          I was at the Angel de la Independencia last night…absolutely insane.

  35. blitzen
    June 26, 2011

    Yay Barça babies! A triplete for them!

    I go back to bed now.

  36. beeeef
    June 26, 2011

    Congrats to the boys for the win.

    Deulofeu is still a couple of years from the first team, but it’s nice to have such a natural attacking talent in our ranks. Hope he pans out.

    This was my first good look at Espinosa, but I liked what I see. Great on the ball and his game shows maturity. Possibly one for the future.

    There’s definitely talent abound in this team, and I look forward to seeing some of these guys make the jump to Barca B next year.

  37. Para
    June 26, 2011

    So up to Juvenil A, is there an age limit for the team? And then with the B team I assume there is none (because Soriano is 25, right)? Were the rules different when the B team wasn’t in the Segunda?

  38. Miguel
    June 26, 2011

    4:30am now. Little past my bed time. I expect highlights when I wake up. 😉

  39. Goo
    June 26, 2011

    Congrats for the treble, barcakids! You’d beat my national team even if go down to 10 little midgets.

  40. blitzen
    June 26, 2011

    Oh, two last things:

    That young goalkeeper Unzue is a talent. Imma keep my eye on him.

    And how did a ginger kid get into La Masia? I thought we had a strict no-ginger policy. 😛


  41. blitzen
    June 26, 2011

    Oh look, me again. Thiago is on the cover of both Sport and EMD today. He is definitely the man of the moment in Catalunya. I hope he doesn’t let all the publicity go to his head.

  42. June 26, 2011


    Any chance you can dig up some down load links for the Juvenil A Copya final? Not sure if anyone would have put it up – but if they did I’d love to watch the whole match. Just couldn’t get up to watch it.

    Congrats to the Juvenil A team. What a great season. They are very good – in some ways perhaps even more promising than the B team of last season just in terms of pure talent.

    • June 26, 2011

      I couldn’t get up either (actually, I did get up around 5:40 but promptly went back to sleep -.- ). fbtz doesn’t have anything yet, but here’s hoping someone will put it up. I mean, it’s a final, no?

  43. Humphrey Bogart
    June 26, 2011

    Be careful with this one, you could die just of cuteness:

    Video: In Catalonia, besides Barcelona, there’s also… “The Little Team” [via sport]

    • Ryan
      June 26, 2011

      Cute team and video! At the end they mentioned that the team actually scored a goal during the season, but I guess they didn’t have footage of it happening…

    • Barcaleya
      June 26, 2011

      Ohmygoodness – they are so adorable!!!!

      I died of cuteness 😀 Thanks for the video!

    • Jnice
      June 26, 2011

      That was nice. It was also shot really well, too. Thanks.

    • June 26, 2011

      Very appreciated!

      Really looking forward to seeing the match in full.

  44. barca96
    June 26, 2011

    I was just reading some football news, about Bale and Modric and in the comments section for some unknown reason, one hater had to post this, in a non-Barca related news.

    “Barcelona’s Tactics.
    Plan A- Keep the ball in their half for so long
    that the opponents get bored. Then give it to Xavi, Iniesta and Messi
    and somehow score a goal. If its not working, Shift to Plan B.
    B- Busquets, Pedro, Masch and Dani take over the responsibility and Dive
    all around. Get a player sent off. Then switch back to Plan A.”

    I really don’t understand, how, how???
    Hating at it’s best.

    • Ryan
      June 26, 2011

      The hating will continue so long as we keep winning, so it’s best just to get used to it!

    • June 26, 2011

      Some decades into the future, their children will ask them what is was like to be a football fan in this era, watching Guardiola’s Barcelona play week in, week out. They had been reading about football history and watching highlight reels of the great matches of yore, and this one particular team stuck out. A team that won so much, with a distinct home-brewed philosophy of how to play the game; it was the last great team built on the foundation of youth products, starring Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, and so many other greats that you could hardly believe they were all on the same team at the same time. “It must have been a joy to watch, poppa,” they will say, “even if you didn’t support them, you could not help but appreciate what they were accomplishing at the time.”

      “Nah, sorry, son… I was a Madridista/Gunner/Interista at the time so I was mostly just a miserable little whiner. DID YOU KNOW THAT MESSI USED HGH TROLOLOLOLOLOL.”

  45. Olufestus
    June 26, 2011

    What is pep’s problem with our no 9’s for the last 3 season?

  46. Olufestus
    June 26, 2011

    What is pep’s problem with our no 9’s for the last 3 season?sure no player will like to wear that jersey again…LOL

    • Nav
      June 26, 2011

      His English is pretty good. That and he sounds different to what I think he would.

  47. ciaran
    June 26, 2011

    Apparently Atletico’s president has said that if someone wants to negotiate for Kun they have to pay the buyout but he won’t go to EE.
    It has happened previously that buyout clause’s can only be triggered by teams outside of your country so this may be true.
    Also, Atletico apparently have offered Barca Kun at a discounted price to ensure that he doesn’t go to EE. If we could get Kun for €30-35million I wouldn’t mind.

    Villa, Messi, Pedro, Kun and Afellay wouldn’t be a bad frontline considering that Iniesta could play further forward also.

    • June 26, 2011

      Kun? Hmm. That’d be interesting and he does have a good connection with Messi, but he will cost at least 40m Euro, methinks…although he has already stated his desire to leave Pathetico, so we could probably get him at a discounted price. That being said, I don’t think we’ll go for him.

  48. nzm
    June 26, 2011

    Congrats to the Futsal team – the 17th title for FCB for the season! 🙂

    • June 26, 2011

      Another one?! We’re killing everyone! 😀

      What a great time to from Barcelona, eh?

  49. June 26, 2011

    we have about four players or so in our younger ranks that I can confidently say will be on the senior squad, with two of them being absolute stars. there is not another club in the world at the top level that can say that.

  50. June 26, 2011

    Well I think Thiago and Deulofeu are the players I meant that could very well be stars…..I know that Thiago is going to be on the senior team next year, but he is still a B player. Barta, Rafina, Montoya and Muniesa are al players that could at least be squad players on the senior team in the future. Sorry if I didnt clarify, Outside of the B team, only Delofeu has that stand out quality to me.

    • Jnice
      June 26, 2011

      Well, I mean there are several players that could end up being stars, but there are other clubs in the world with great youth systems too. I’m sure their fans are saying the same things about their youngsters right now.

  51. June 26, 2011

    I agree and disagree. There are other youth teams that are great but all around I’m fairly sure the consensus is that la Nadia is the best in the world.

    Also off topic, and I get the Brit connection, but if Jordan Henderson is worth 20M pounds, it’s a joke that United reportedly value Thiago at 15m euros.

    • Jnice
      June 26, 2011

      Just saying there are other academies who can boast of “absolute stars” in the making right now as well.

      • barca96
        June 26, 2011

        Cule_less, you can only claim such a thing (that we have absolute stars in teh making) in 5 years time or so when they establish themselves in the 1st team.
        And for your view that no other team can say that, how do you know?
        DO you follow all the club’s youth academies?

        Please don’t go around other sites boasting about it cause it will just make the other fans look bad.

        Pre-2000 before I left Holland, I actually watch week in week out., the youth competition. They showed the Juvenil A equivalent Dutch League. It was lovely and refreshing. There were so many players that I thought that they were super stars in the makings too but unfortunately their clubs didn’t treat them right or the player didn’t perform well enough or not given enough chances. Their career is over.

        Just a few names at the top of my head that I was confident were going to make it big; Youssef Hersi, Bechan(sp?), Ajax no.7 RW, Daniel de Ridder. And from Feyenoord, Thomas Buffel.
        All these players are probably retired or playing in some minor league.

        I’m pretty sure Gai will be no exception. Remember him Cule less?

        • June 27, 2011

          First of Barca, I respect your position, but don’t tell me what to do and what not to do, I don’t see how me going on a random site on the net (which you are assuming, and I dont do) and saying that we have, in my opinion, the best academy in the world, makes you or anyother cule look bad. It is an opinion, which I only share here amongst like minded fans (about barca i mean). I am not a troll, I have never been on an Arsenal site to inflame anything with Cesc, or lurking and posting HaHa messeges on a United site about CL victories.

          My point is this, BFB is for peoples opinions, and my opinion is, out of the major leagues, we have the most promising structures and youngsters. I mean jesus, Pep said it himself when he said we have 20 Wilshires waiting in the wings. And ESPN juat did a 5 min video piece on La Masia….. Instead of me presenting and defending my humble opinion (remember thats all it is), why dont you tell me some youth squads that have boasted what we have lately….1-2-3 balon de oro…..7 players in our the best lineup of possibly the best team ever, Juvi A champs, Barca B runner up(?) the list goes on. I totally understand your position and i appreciate you being candid and telling me to be cautopus, but I feel like we do have a distinct advantage in our youth teams….How often on this board do people tease E.E youth for not bringing anybody up to the senior squad??? Gai, I get, but I never mentioned Gai, and I dont think he really fit in our system, and yes, as of now he has not shown much. But Gio was another one who could not cut it, and go ask Tim Howard if he has a touch of class in his game. My point is, even some of our cast offs have great careers.

  52. can_we_go_Xalvies
    June 26, 2011

    So reports are that Arsenal launched a bid for Mata. Will we ever put in a bid? or are we waiting to see whether maybe Mata will be filling the void if Cesc is sold.

    • Jnice
      June 26, 2011

      Don’t know if our Mata interest is real yet. If it is, I’d imagine we would put in a bid sooner rather than later. We shall see.

      • barca96
        June 26, 2011

        Pep has a thing for Mata.

        Somebody up there mentioned that Kun could cost between 35-40.
        If that’s the case, I’d rather see the club spend that much dough on Kun rather than Sanchez.

        Kun has established himself for the past 2-3 seasons as a world class player while Sanchez for only a year.
        Add to the already good chemistry between Kun-Messi, it’s sure a gonna be a hit!

        And I remember a few seasons ago Kun asking Messi to help him get to Barcelona.

    • I don’t think Mata is a good option. There’s NO WAY he can challenge either Pedro or Villa for a first team spot and he hasn’t progressed very much in the last year. Plus I don’t think he can be the replacement for villa in the long term smth that is probably true about Sanchez and thats why we want him so much.
      He is not such a good finisher either which is essential for our forwards.
      So HUGE say NO TO MATA from me… 🙂

  53. June 26, 2011

    Kun>Sanchez>Neymar>Rossi…for us. But if we are willing to spend 40 on Kun, surly we are ready to bump it to 45 for the buyout….but I am sure we will get a discount, Athletico does not want him in white next year.

    • Neel
      June 27, 2011

      Neymar… Just do not see him work in Barca’s system. I sincerely feel its been time since we saw a really good player come out of Brazil, last were Dinho and Kaka. At the moment I find Ganso way better than Neymar overall. Although as little as I have seen of both of them, Ganso is a bad finisher.

      If we are to pay in the region of what is being asked for Sanchez, I would happily opt for Kun anyday. He can play in any of the frontline positions as per me. It would guarantee rotation, more rest and more competition for all. “I” have just not seen Sanchez play and perform in a big match. I just do not understand since when did they raise the price of unproven players based on potential so much? Logic says he sure must have something that the football world does not find his price ridiculous. But statements like he’s better than Fab and all. Oh cmon, go away.

      • blitzen
        June 27, 2011

        I sincerely feel its been time since we saw a really good player come out of Brazil, last were Dinho and Kaka.

        You’re forgetting a certain Dani Alves and Thiago Silva. Not all talented Brazilians have to be forwards.

        • Xingxian
          June 27, 2011

          AMEN. Dani Alves is absolutely brilliant.
          It also feels wrong not to give Marcelo his due, he seemed to me like he had a very strong season!

          • messi_fan
            June 27, 2011

            Maybe it’s because I’ve only seem him when he was playing against us, but I never understood what the fuss about Marcelo was.

        • Neel
          June 27, 2011

          I loveee Dani. I stand corrected. Last I saw Thiago playing was about a half season back, and till then I found him nothing great at all. Marcelo is good, not yet anywhere near the past legendary LBs of Brazil. I hate his shorts though 🙂

  54. can_we_go_Xalvies
    June 27, 2011

    No way is Kun worth anything above 35m, in terms of which player fits better in our line-up Snachez and Rossi are the better choices. As for Kun, there is doubt he would fit in playing the lone CF role and also whether he will be in the way of Messi’s effectiveness. Surely for that much money we can’t afford to play him on the wings where he is least effective.

    Neymar is just too risky, Pep would probably have the least trust in him, and we all know what happens to players when Pep doesn’t trust them.

    Im sticking to the more players less money approach, if we can land two attacking players for less than 40mil we are set.

    However I have a feeling we’ve jump out of the Sanchez bid, and right now we are waiting to see what Arsenal will do with the Cesc issue.

  55. Olufestus
    June 27, 2011

    I NEED SOMEONE TO ENTERTAIN ME WITH SOME STEPOVERS…missed dinho>sanchez will bring back those memories

    • June 27, 2011

      Fair point w/ the Sanchez stepovers, but Neymar has some nast ones as well!!!!! As does a certain lil blond #11 in our Juvenile A squad!!!!

    • messi_fan
      June 27, 2011

      I hate stepovers. They slow down play too much.

  56. Jnice
    June 27, 2011

    The Brit press are running stories about Man Utd being interested in Thiago… Graham Hunter answered a few questions about this on twitter.

    Someone asked about any news on Thiago and whether a 15m pound bid from United would make Barça accept, his response:

    I don’t know that detail, nor do I know if anyone does. There has been a move from MU, there has been a price discussed.

    FCB view MU as a major, perhaps the major, Euro rival and don’t particularly want Thiago to go there. Even with buyback clause

    It’s a decent price for a 20 year old but he’s v good and 1 problem is he really doesn’t want to leave FCB unless he’s pushed

    • blitzen
      June 27, 2011

      I am sure they (and many other clubs) are interested, and they may very well have made a bid, but I hope Barcelona aren’t foolish enough to actually consider it.

      Selling Bojan is one thing, it’s for his own good, but Thiago deserves a shot to excel with the first team.

  57. blitzen
    June 27, 2011

    So River Plate has officially been relegated. There was rioting, naturally.

  58. blitzen
    June 27, 2011

    And also, how awesome is Christine Sinclair? Takes an elbow to the face that breaks her nose, refuses to be subbed, and scores off a gorgeous free-kick to break Germany’s record of not being scored on. There is a reason she wears that captain’s armband! <3

    • Lou
      June 27, 2011

      Did she break her nose? I didn’t know that.

      It was a lovely free kick, in what was a very entertaining game. Canada was being overrun in midfield for most of the game but they managed almost made an amazing comeback.

      I thought McLeod was quite good too. She was somewhat at fault for the first goal, but she made lots saves to keep Canada in the game.

  59. blitzen
    June 27, 2011

    The BBC seems to think it’s going to happen this week:

    Arsenal are prepared to sell Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona if the two clubs can agree a price for the Spanish midfielder, BBC Sport has learned.

    The Premier League club have rejected an initial bid for their captain but are now bracing themselves for an improved offer.

    A senior Arsenal official said: “The offer was made formally in writing to our chief executive (Ivan Gazidis), and we said no straight away.”

    When asked if the club expected an improved offer this week, the source said: “Possibly yes, and if it’s enough then I expect we’ll have to sell.”

    Arsenal’s stance appears to have shifted since last season when they rejected two offers from Barcelona for Fabregas, a former trainee at the Nou Camp, and stated they had no intention of selling him at any price.

    • blitzen
      June 27, 2011

      LOL. barcastuff is stalking me. This story showed up there right after I posted it here.

      *waves* 😀

      • June 27, 2011

        A deal will be done if the clubs can agree on a price? The Beeb sure went out on a limb with that one. 😀

        The Fabregas transfer is a budget buster, and sends the wrong message to Thiago. It makes no sense to me.

        The club offering the most cash for Sanchez willl win, and that isn’t us. Time will tell if we let go of the next Messi, or the next Robinho. I just don’t see us meeting Udinese’s valuation, and we can’t compete with oil money.

        Next week, things should start to happen. I’m sure stuff is in the works. We have to have confidence that our people will make the right moves.

        p.s. Which doesn’t mean I like the Fabregas transfer stuff. 😀

        • messi_fan
          June 27, 2011

          Obviously, I’m a bit biased, but I doubt we’ll see the next Messi anytime soon. So maybe he’ll be the next C. Ronaldo or something. I’m not entirely certain that we WON’T get him though.

          I totally agree on your views concerning Cesc. The way I see it, midfield is the one area where we don’t have shortage of options (in either the senior or B team). So why blow your budget on him, when we have so many areas we could address.

    • June 27, 2011

      First thing I’ve read in the last three years that make me believe it might actually happen.


      • messi_fan
        June 27, 2011

        Yeah. The Daily Mirror is one thing… the BBC is another altogether.

  60. June 27, 2011

    I think we’re all going to need to brace ourselves – it seems clear now that there is a very good chance that Fabergas will be coming.

    There have now been multiple leaks from Arsenal to reputable news outlets in the UK.

    The BBC, Guardian, and Times have all run stories detailing Arsenal’s willingness to allow Faberas to leave if certain conditions are met.

    Will they agree to a price? That’s unclear. But this is a major shift from Arsenal’s position in the past when they would not even consider selling Fabergas as he was the center of their team.

    To me, these leaks have the feeling of a club intentionally trying to let their supporters know what was coming. They are preparing the conditions for Fabergas to leave as something that is expected or almost inevitable. That’s why they are leaking this information actively know and doing so to real news organizations – ones their fans won’t just write off as made up rumor.

    Barca has many really significant needs. 2010/2011 was a magical season – but there was a period of time when the club was truly exhausted and they just got by to advance. It was really more about survival than domination.

    Given that they have so many resources to draw on for midfield, investing in Fabergas now strains how the team can fill more direct needs.

    For example, it appears that they will once again go into next season with inadequate cover at CB. They will once again use the versatility of players to cover up for true depth.

    It’s easy now to forget moments like those in the Shakhtar CL match when Adriano simply ran by Busi and Pique at will due to their limited pace. His finishing was awful – but the vulnerability was clear.

    But that’s not where they are going to utilize their resources. They are going to book them on Fabergas.

    They really need help along the frontline and could use bolstering at least at one of LB or CB. They really need two new forwards if Bojan is going to leave. But it’s center midfield where the resources may get used.

    All that said – there is absolutely no reason to get rid of Thiago. He and Fabergas absolutely can play together.

    The only way getting Fabergas makes sense is if Pep is really worried about Xavi and Iniesta playing too many matches. If that’s the case they should create a rotation midfield of those 4 players, pairing Xavi and Iniesta together for the prime matches and Cesc and Thiago for the secondary ones. There is no reason why they team can’t dominate possession with Cesc and Thiago while giving Xavi and Iniesta complete rest.

    They can’t risk selling Thiago – even on a buy back. Thiago only has two years left on his contract. If he won’t sign an extension now selling him with a buy back will be extremely complicated and they will risk losing him on a free. They cannot take any risk in that regard.

    Ultimately, if Pep buys Cesc then that really should mean he’s making a strategic decision to prioritize rotation in midfield. If that rotation is going to include Cesc – fine. But it should absolutely include Thiago as well.

    • blitzen
      June 27, 2011

      I agree, except for one thing. It’s Fabregas. Not Fabergas.

      Drives me nuts. Sorry. 😀

      • June 27, 2011

        To be fair, lots of English commentators pronounce his name as “Sess Fah-burr-gas”.

        If that rotation is going to include Cesc – fine. But it should absolutely include Thiago as well.

        Exactly. I’m resigned to this Fabrelust, but I remain the hope that Thiago and Fabregas can play in the same midfield, maybe like a Xavi-Iniesta combo for the future…?

        • June 27, 2011

          The other thing worth noting is that what makes Fabregas suddenly sellable is this his injury stuff is getting worse, while Nasri and Wilshere have emerged. Why not cash in on an Oft-Crocked Glory Hunter, who has become (in my view) a vanity purchase.

          We have other needs that are significantly more pressing.

          I’m still trusting, but I’m also questioning.

      • Noslehcimretep
        June 27, 2011

        Thank you. I was trying to figure out some type of diss/nickname that made “Fabergas” work and came up with exactly nothing.

        I’m sure not nearly braced enough for Fab__gas, and I don’t want to be.

  61. blitzen
    June 27, 2011

    Sounds like Bojan has made his peace with a move to Roma:

    Bojan: “For my career and to make progress, it would be important to be a starter during a whole season.” [gazzetta dello sport]

    Good boy. Hope he knocks it out of the park in Italy.

    • Jnice
      June 27, 2011

      Don’t know about him being a starter for the whole season, though. He’s going to have to work hard to adjust to the Italian game.

    • June 27, 2011

      Gazzetta Dello Sport tend to make up quotes. They did that to Ganzo a couple of weeks ago. I wouldn’t put too much weight in it. #skeptical.

  62. phunky
    June 27, 2011

    I’ve been a lurker here for a while now, great site.
    Can anyone post a download link here for the Manita match, something that’s not too big.
    Would be much appreciated, thanks!

    • barca96
      June 27, 2011

      How many gig’s can you handle?
      FS, HF or RS?

      • phunky
        June 27, 2011

        RS, and anything around 3-4 GB. Thank you.

        • Jnice
          June 27, 2011

          Rapidshare kind of fell out of favor. I don’t think the Manita match us uploaded on that.

          JSC Sport HD (Sky Sports commentary) Total size: 2.87 GB


          First Half: /


          Second Half: /


          Credit to J-Reyes at

  63. June 27, 2011

    The other question behind Fabregas: What if Xavi’s tendonitis is a bigger complexity than we realize?

    • blitzen
      June 27, 2011

      I’m sure that is part of it. Tendonitis doesn’t just go away. Xavi’s condition will have to be monitored closely to make sure he is available for the important games, and Cesc will be an excellent replacement. We also got very lucky this year with Iniesta being healthy through the whole season. We can’t count on that happening again next year.

      As for Fabregas’ injury problems, I truly believe he will be much healthier at Barcelona. He won’t be rushed through the healing process, for one thing, as we have plenty of alternatives to play instead of him (unlike Arsenal). And Barça’s medical staff are second to none. Just look at the miracles they pulled off with Abidal, Puyol, ect.

    • June 27, 2011

      Exactly. We all sit here on the outside looking in, trying to judge what is best for the club based on the limited knowledge that we have. Fact is that nobody knows better than Pep who is needed and where we require depth. If he goes for Cesc we should feel pretty damn confident that it is for a very good reason.

      In Pep we trust guys, and each year that passes makes me feel more confident in that statement.

      I have a feeling Sanchez and Cesc will be on our team next season and that will be it. Maybe another CB.

  64. June 27, 2011

    I think the way that RM is trying to win La Liga next season is by building more depth than Barca.

    If you look at what they are trying to do, they are systematically building two teams of world class players. Mou Mou didn’t rotate players last season as much as he could have – but this year it will be much more “his” team.

    Some of what they are doing is the usual Flo Flo nonsense – but their purchases the past two summers have on the whole been very interesting.

    Buying Nuri Sahin for 10M has a very good chance for being the single best move any team makes in the entire transfer market. He’s a wonderful player. Hard to believe Manchester United did not make a huge move for him. He was perfect for what they need.

    Altintop and Varane are also not typical RM moves. Don’t know if Varane will ever get a chance to develop there – but it’s atyipical for Flo Flo.

    Barca’s got quite a bit of work to do if they are going to have a more robust team in terms of depth.

    When you look at that second Liga match against RM at the Bernabeau – it’s very clear that the team simply didn’t have enough energy to push for that second goal when they were up 1-0. RM on the other hand were able to bring in Oezil and Adebayor off the bench to change the match.

    This upcoming season those issues are only going to get worse given how many competitions they will be playing in.

    • June 27, 2011

      Yep, as I noted on Twitter, EE is being exceptionally smart this transfer window. In many ways, this is the ultimate Mourinho project. He has control, nigh-unlimited funds and a club that once a player gets his soul sucked out, would love to play for. Everything is competitive except for Thong Boy’s spot.

      Contrast that with us, where 9 of our staring XI is etched in stone: Villa, Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal.

      p.s. No disrespect intended, but no, I don’t see Pedro as an etched-in-stone starter. If we can buy a different type of an attacker, say a Sanchez type, we can come at opponents with a different look.

      • June 27, 2011

        I think they know that it’s going to be very difficult to build a starting 11 to compete with Barca. Even if you can fit in the talent, very difficult to make it function as a system better than the Barca starters.

        But you can hope that next season those starters will tire and that they’ll drop at least a few more points in La Liga. If you can build a deeper squad you can take advantage of that. I agree that’s likely their thinking.

        I also think this is in part why they are looking to bring in Sanchez rather than a less expensive option. It gives them the opportunity to rotate 4 strikers + Afellay with limited drop off (outside of Messi not playing – but even then, having Sanchez would give Pep another player who could function as a true false 9 keeping the system consistent). As long as there are no injuries those 5 players might be enough.

        Having Fabregas and Thiago would allow Pep to completely rest Xavi and Iniesta. It also take pressure off Messi to create if Xavi isn’t playing.

        That leaves the back line. Don’t know if they have the funds to augment it – but I think they need to.

        • June 27, 2011

          Yep. There was a rather silly post on an Arsenal blog about how the Invincibles would beat us. As commenters pointed out, the Invincibles were “vincible” as hell in the Champions League, where we have won 2 of the last 3 seasons. It was also pointed out that sometimes a team is more impressive as a whole than individually.

          This is to say if you look at our players, how many of them automatically start for any team on the planet, aside from Messi? But they are perfect for us, and the results are impossible to argue with.

          • messi_fan
            June 27, 2011

            Personally, I think Xavinesta would start on any team on the planet

          • blitzen
            June 27, 2011

            Also Mascherano, Pique, Dani Alves, Villa, and arguably Busquets. Afellay too, for any team but us.

          • Eklavya
            June 27, 2011

            Contrast that with us, where 9 of our staring XI is etched in stone: Villa, Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal.

            Doesn’t that make it 10 of our starting XI?

          • June 27, 2011

            Regarding the Invincibles, I once pressed an Arsenal fan on how the “legend” has been overblown to an absurd proportion in recent years. When I first heard of them, I assumed they had also won (or were eliminated by penalties) the domestic cup competitions, but nay. That Arsenal team was beat by both Manchester United and Chelsea that year, just in the FA Cup and the Champions League, if I recall correctly.

            They were pretty damn vincible in their own little island, FFS.

          • barca96
            June 27, 2011

            Kxev, I dare to bet with you that even if Sanchez comes, P! will still be a starter next season. It’s Villa who will come off for Sanchez.
            P! ain’t going nowhere [He’s a !! for life(P.Diddy) ].

          • June 27, 2011

            Hey, I told you all I was a journalist. Numbers …. sigh.

            The starting this is an interesting debate. For example, does Mascherano get into Citeh’s DM slot right now? What about EE’s? Iniesta and Xavi are almost symbiotic. Xavi is the guy who makes the pass that sets up the pass, right? Without our system, Xavi’s value begins to diminish.

            Mind you, this doesn’t detract from the excellence of our players as a unit in our system, just that sometimes, the whole makes the parts, if that makes sense. Even Messi, look at him in the Argentina WC side. Stupid coach? Maybe.

            And remember that Pique was sold by United because he wasn’t going to be starting anytime soon.

            I think our team is brilliant, and the system works. But as I said, sometimes the system makes the parts even more spectacular.

          • blitzen
            June 27, 2011

            does Mascherano get into Citeh’s DM slot right now?

            Don’t know about Citeh, since they have The Yaya, but he was the undisputed starter at Liverpool and for the Argentina NT. Any other EPL team would start him immediately.

            As for Pique, you know that ManU would kill to get him back if they could. Rio is not the player he was and Pique would have a very good chance of being a starter now.

            Dani Alves would start for any team he cared to join. Villa too—he may not have done as well this year as you would have liked, but he is still one of the top 10 strikers in the world.

          • Eklavya
            June 27, 2011

            But The Yaya doesn’t play DM nowdays, does he? A midfield combo of an offensive Yaya and a defensive Mascherano would be pretty good, no?

          • Jnice
            June 27, 2011

            Mascherano would compete with De Jong for the pure DM position on CIty. De Jong is good, but Mascherano would start.

    • But Moumou almost never rotates his teams. he used the same 11 even against the first round in the copa del rey! I think he’ll use them only in case of injury.

  65. 90sbaby
    June 27, 2011

    Looks like if the Sanchez deal doesn’t go through, Mata might be an option.

    Personally Fabregas isn’t worth more to Barcelona than 35 Mil and that’s being generous, he doesn’t warrant a Zidane, Figo, Kaka transfer.

  66. barca96
    June 27, 2011

    Arsenal are prepared to sell Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona if the two clubs can agree a price for the Spanish midfielder, BBC Sport has learned.

    This is not news to me!!! 😆
    Obviously a transfer can only happen if a price is agreed upon the two clubs. Geez…..

  67. blitzen
    June 27, 2011

    Graham Hunter is reporting that Thiago is having surgery on his nose to correct breathing problems. Hope they don’t mess up that pretty face!

    • barca96
      June 27, 2011

      Oh, but if he had breathing problems all this while, why didn’t he put on this plaster. I remember some players back in the days use to put this special plaster on their noses. It’s for the people with difficulty breathing.

    • Eklavya
      June 27, 2011

      You read that on twitter? If you check so many times, why don’t you just make a account? 🙂

      • blitzen
        June 27, 2011

        I might at some point, but there’s really no need. I have no intention of tweeting myself, and you don’t have to follow someone to read their tweets.

        • Eklavya
          June 27, 2011

          I guess so, although everything regroups onto one page if you make one and you get to talk to people like Graham Hunter etc.

    • Blow-Grenade
      June 27, 2011

      That is an unbelievable goal. She did a Messi there.

  68. Pep was clear from last year that he wanted Cesc so I’m pretty sure that they are definitely trying to sign him based on Pep’s request, so I’m fine and even more so I’m intrigued to see If Pep has a nasty little plan to fit them all together on some occasions.
    Plus next year Cesc price will be higher because 2012 onwards we will need Cesc and we will be negotiating over a necessity so the price will go UP.
    We might not NEED him now that Xavi is 31-32 but we will need him when Xavi is 32-33 with a Euro behind him. This year he will be able to come from the bench and have an immediate impact.
    How many players can do that for this Barca side? Plus by getting him we don’t have to worry about midfield for the next 7-8 and Xavi may be able to play for 4-5 more years if he is not overused and worsens his tendon problem.
    My only concern is Cesc’s his fitness other than Pep has me convinced that the time is now..

  69. June 27, 2011

    The Guardian has a new story up today which echoes what the BBC story had to say on Fabregas.

    The Guardian is also saying that Arsenal are “willing to sell.” Their story seems to be coming more from Barca sources though:

    The Spanish and European champions have detected a softening in Arsenal’s resolve over their talisman and they feel that, in contrast to last summer, when the manager Arsène Wenger made it clear that he would not sell Fábregas at any price, the north London club are ready to do business.

    Yet there have been concerns at the club that they may be unable to deny Fábregas his dream move once again and that if Barcelona could pay £40m the money could be reinvested in Wenger’s transfer targets. Barcelona hope that a compromise of £35m will enable the deal to be done.

    It’s an extremely complicated deal so who knows. But this is no longer Sport and MD or the Mirror reporting these stories.

    I don’t think this is the optimal use of resources given the reported budgetary issues and other needs.

    But it’s clearly what Pep wants and has wanted for sometime. As long as it doesn’t require Thiago being sold or not getting minutes I’m ok with it. (Also – I don’t want to see this cause pep to play Iniesta on the wing if it happens.)

    The budget is supposed to be very tight. But the money for Cesc likely comes from almost a separate pot as they targeted him with an even larger offer last summer and that money went unspent. They knew they would try again this summer.

    At this point in their careers Xavi and Villa and even Iniesta have accomplished so much – they don’t need to be playing two games a week, especially against lower rung sides.

    Cesc and a striker are likely going to cost at least 70M together. Don’t know if they are going to have the capacity to bring anyone else in.

    To get that third player for first team depth they may need to focus on player whose contracts are running down. Now that Sahin has signed the best players remaining with one year left that I know of are Nasri, Arturo Vidal and Willian. Neither Nasri or Vidal are needs – Willian would be a terrific get if they can acquire him for 7-8M.

    • Jnice
      June 27, 2011

      Also – I don’t want to see this cause pep to play Iniesta on the wing if it happens.

      That’s what I fear. Because if you think about it, say both Bojan and Jeffren leave (something that looks likely to happen), even if we sign an attacker, we still would be short one in my opinion. Maybe Pep is thinking Iniesta could be that guy if needed, which in turn allows him to put Cesc in the middle with Xavi for some matches.

      Graham is convinced Cesc can play 4 different positions with us and points to Euro 2008 when he played CF for a match or two.

      • blitzen
        June 27, 2011

        We also have Afellay, remember. He can play up front and will get more games that way.

  70. June 27, 2011

    even if we sign an attacker, we still would be short one in my opinion.?

    Agreed. If both Bojan and Jeffren leave – one attacker is not great for depth. I'm afraid we'll see iniesta on the wing as well at some point.

    I do think that's the most likely outcome – 4 true forwards + Afellay with the next forward being Iniesta. Don't want to see it but that's where the numbers seem to point.

    That's why I'd like to see if they can somehow get a player like Willian given that he might not be very expensive this summer and I think he has the skill set to also play as a full back in the barca system.

    Also – whil I know Graham keeps mentioning Euro 2008 as evidence of Fabergas playing as a CF – I don't believe he ever did.

    I might be misremembering but in Euro 2008 Spain played with Villa and Torres up top the whole competition before Villa got hurt.

    Once Villa got hurt rather than putting in another striker Spain changed shape and used a five man midfield. That's when Fabergas played a significant role – he was in midfield. He would make runs forward to support Torres but he was still a midfielder – and I believe he was starting from a wide position then (though he would often drift to the middle).

    I think Fabergas could play all three midfield position (the holding role with some work) but I've seen little from him that suggests he would do well as a CF. Playing as an attacking CM is very different than as a CF. As an attacking CM you are playing off the player in front of you – that's Fabergas' strength at Arsenal. As the player up top – it's a very different role.

    Pep tried both Iniesta and Afellay in a false 9 role at times last year and neither looked comfortable.

    • Whatever
      June 27, 2011

      A journalist recently asked Tito Vilanova how Barca controls the midfield. He said that they move the ball fast. He said that in order to do that, you have to have players who have a good first touch. He said the idea is to have Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Messi and Alves in midfield to be able to control it, because they can do it.

      So… maybe Guardiola wants Fabregas to put him in the Iniesta role and move Iniesta to the wing? It would be impossible to take the ball from us.

      I’m just thinking out loud.

      Anyhow, in Pep we trust.

  71. June 27, 2011

    Krkic’s father is one of two scouts who will not be renewed. When I re-Tweeted, @runofplay replied:

    Well, he did recommend Bojan. #zing

    • messi_fan
      June 27, 2011

      Does anyone know if it’s a case of him being fired? Or him being angry over Bojan’s transfer situation.

  72. June 27, 2011

    On another note – really amazing changes happening in Argentina.

    River Plate getting demoted to the B league is just hard to believe. But not only did they get demoted – so did Huracan – another first division power (Pastore’s former club).

    River Plate getting sent down now sets up another major transfer story for this summer – what is going to happen with Erik Lamela.

    River Plate is going to have to sell Lamela now. He’s only 18 and they probably wanted to hold onto him – but they are broke and now in the second division are in major financial trouble. Lamela is their most valuable asset.

    But now they are going to be selling him from a huge position of weakness. The buying club is going to have a chance to get him for a very reduced rate unless huge competition develops for Lamela.

    I’d have to think that Milan, Inter, United and Chelsea could all be interested given their issues in midfield and age.

  73. ciaran
    June 27, 2011

    On transfer funds: Sandro mentioned that it is possible that we could spend some of next summers’ budget if required. That would mean that there is a potential budget available of up to €90million + sales.

    The timing of Cesc’s transfer and it’s dictation of his price is very delicate.
    If Nasri re-signs then Arsenal will be more open for negotiation.
    If Arsene signs a replacement midfielder then again they will be open to selling.
    If both happen then Arsenal will pretty much have to sell meaning that they will have to accept almost anything we offer.
    If we insist on his being our first transfer of the summer then his price will be determined by Arsenal but a little patience and nonchalance could bring down the price.

    In terms of tactics if you look at our front five instead of our front three then you will see a lot more versatility.
    Assuming Thiago stays & Cesc joins we’ll have Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc, Thiago & Afellay who can all play in the various midfield positions.
    At Keita to that list for another year at least and we are set.

    Afellay, Thiago, Cesc & Iniesta could all potentially play in the wing positions of our three forwards, along with Villa, Messi, Pedro and whoever else is signed or left over. I assume Jeffren is gone and Bojan is looking gone, at least on loan, but our bargaining position is strong considering everyone wants to play for us. For me, Kun is still the best option but opinions are opinions.

    For our defensive depth our main defense is always possession so this midfield depth is really a way of ensuring defensive solidity. I would, however, love if we could finally sign an actual world class central defender. David Luiz, Thiago Silva and countless others have been linked at different times but we seem to have little to no interest in making an addition. Maybe Pep sees Masch as the partner for Pique when Puyol is out and wants Fontas as cover for Pique which I don’t mind at all but I want Masch to be solely used as a CB if that is the case, and let Keita cover Busquets at DM.
    At right back, Montoya looked absolutely excellent at the Euro U-21 champs and he should be permanently promoted.

    • Soto
      June 27, 2011

      Re: Mascherano.

      The only way that I can understand a transfer strategy that seems to ignore the defensive line is if Mascherano has become a sub primarily for center back rather than defensive midfield. Considering his performance last season, Guardiola et al. might seriously be considering this. Then you rotate four center backs (Puyol, Pique, Abidal, and Mascherano) along with some Barca B palyers, and there is no need to spend transfer money on center backs.

      I don’t like this idea, but maybe that’s where they are heading?

      (I am crossing my fingers and hoping that most of these transfer stories are smoke screen for a bunch of defensive player transfers. Pipe dreams.)

      • June 27, 2011

        Yep. Still not convinced, because we can still only play 3 mids at a time. And it almost argues for players such as Willian, who can thrive on the wing, have pace and midfielder’s skills. Same for Adriano.

        • Nav
          June 27, 2011

          I’m not sure how good Willian is at 1 on 1 situations (as in I haven’t watched him play that much), but from what I understand, Sanchez isn’t that great on the wings anyway?

    • June 27, 2011

      Interesting article. I agree with a number of the points they make and wrote about a number of those same issues in my tactical previews/reviews during the clasicos.

      The left flank is where there was the most room to operate against Madrid. It was the players on the left who had the most time and space on the ball.

      This is why towards the end of the season we saw Pep start to play Villa on the right even though his preferred side is the left and move P! to the left.

      When Messi drops deep he needs a player in front of him to link play with. Villa was the most natural fit for this on the front line. That’s why we often saw Villa pull in centrally.

      But when Villa pulled in centrally off the left Barca lost much of it’s width. On the right – Alves can always provide width as a one man flank. They don’t have a player to do that on the left (and iniesta does not like to move into open wide space unfortunately).

      This was a particular problem against RM as Di Maria played as an auxiliary FB on the right marking Alves. Di Maria crowded space on the right – he was an extra defender in that area compared to the more open left.

      So what Pep did during that first CL game was to flip P! to the left and Villa to the right. He then instructed P! to stay very wide on the left – which is part of why he became more dangerous later on that game.

      I’d anticipate Pep will stick to this – the attacker on the right will be on the one who will pinch in centrally to link play with messi while the attacker on the left will stay wider for width. This is why Rossi was such an attractive player. He is almost ideally suited for this right-center position.

      But that leaves the issue of how one wants to play on the left. Do you want a player to stay wide out there or one who is going to attack diagonally?

      What makes Sanchez attractive is that he can play any of these roles.

      There’s a real argument to be made that against RM and the trivote they played you’d want Sanchez on the right and him being the one to pull in centrally to link play with Messi. Having Sanchez in that space with his close ball control, passing ability and quick feet would likely open up more space for Messi. It would potentially break up that space between the lines.

      Conversely you could have Sanchez stationed wide left to start and then attack off the left towards the middle. Rossi really can’t do that as well.

      On Faberegas – they main dimension he would add to the attack, especially against an RM is his link up play with Messi as a false 9. This is what Fabregas does so well with van Persie. When Messi drops deep Fabergas could make delayed runs forward. Xavi and Iniesta do this (think Xavi’s first goal in the Manita) but Fabregas is more dynamic in that kind of attack. All that said – I don’t see Fabregas playing against RM in a Liga or CL match.

      A player of Sanchez’s skill set would add a great deal tactically to what Pep seems to want to do. As I’ve thought about it more and more tacticall – I can see why he wants him so badly.

      I actually think we would see Sanchez playing that right-center position quite a bit to link up with Messi.

  74. Lou
    June 27, 2011

    So apparently Sergi Gómez, Rafa Alcántara, Gerard Deulofeu and Javi Espinosa will most likely be participating in U19 European championships, so they won’t be able to part in the preseason tour which is kind of unfortunate.

    I’m quite curious to see who gets picked for the U20 World Cup in Columbia. I assume it will be mostly those who went to the U19 Euros last year (Romeu, Planas, Bartra plus Canales, Pacheco etc…). We’ll see if Thiago and Montoya get called up too, even though they both played a lot with the U21s this summer.

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