BFB at the Box Office: The Final Act of WC 2010

Last year I did some movie reviews for Kicking and Screening Film Festival and this year I’m at it again. The festival is this week in New York City and if you show up any day other than Saturday, you can meet me. And you can also watch some incredible movies about this sport we all love.

Today’s preview is Match 64, the movie I’ll be missing on Saturday. Tomorrow I’ll preview some of the short films and then on Wednesday I’ll start the nightly reviews of the feature films. And remember, go to K&S’s website, follow them on Twitter, and like them on Facebook. It’s actually a really fun time and a charity makes some money out of it too. And did I mention you could even meet me?

Match 64
Directed by Daniel Gordon

120 minutes of soccer hardly does a game justice, especially not if it is witnessed by 2 billion people and is the crowning jewel of a month-long, quadrennial tournament. As the first to be held on the continent in tournament’s 80 year history and couple with today’s digital age, the FIFA World Cup inSouth Africawas bound to be both heavily celebrated highly scrutinized.

Match 64 deals primarily with the major players in behind the World Cup, such as Sepp Blatter and Danny Jordan, FIFA president and head of South Africa’s organizing committee respectively, but also takes time to focus scenes on the players, coaches, and refs in the match and winding down to the stewards, flag bearers, and even the owner of a bike rental shop. Blatter and company express politically clean and meaning-free opinions about how great this is forSouth Africa while the rest of the cast goes through the motions of setting up the field of play so that the spectacle can run its course.

The first half of the film is devoted to pre-match buildup and preparation. The film follows one of the six children designated to walk out with the Dutch flag before the national anthems, is shown at hairdresser getting ready for the seconds when she will be on the field in front of almost a hundred thousand fans despite being nothing more than a child playing a bit part. Her family cheers wildly from their home inSowetowhen she appears on screen. A volunteer steward proud of his involvement talks of improving his life likeSouth Africahas improved itself. The man in charge of the playing surface treats it like a protective father would his child, nervously watching players warm up to make sure nothing goes wrong.

Then the players arrive at the stadium. Listening to Howard Webb, Andres Iniesta, John Heitinga, Carles Puyol, and Bert van Marwijk discuss the game gives an insight into the game that is rarely seen. Puyol smiles and shrugs as he recounts his failed tackle on Robben that could have easily lead to his sending off; Heitinga shrugs and says his own sending off simply was. Van Marwijk doesn’t want to talk aboutSpain’s goal, but Iniesta can’t stop himself from babbling about it.

This film is not about social commentary and only gives brief looks at the problems encountered by those outside the stadiums, with one interviewee saying just before kickoff that they were worried they wouldn’t be able to watch much—or possibly any—of the festivities because the area around the stadium was under a blackout. There is no real discussion ofSouth Africa’s dysfunction—instead it is Shakira dancing on stage, Nelson Mandela riding in a golf cart around the field, and Iker Casilla lifting the World Cup trophy.

I watched this film during the Wimbledonfinal. On one screen Rafa Nadal silently, and ultimately futilely, battled Novak Djokovic while on the other he chatted with Sepp Blatter and a host of Spanish VIPs including Pau Gasol and Placido Domingo. For all the things it leaves out, Match 64 lets everyone in on what goes into making the World Cup final actually happen. There are glitches—Shakira is late and screams at her clueless drive to get a move on—and lonely moments—the Dutch players randomly selected for drug testing after the match stare at the walls while waiting their turn—but scenes of Sowetan children celebrating Spain’s victory and Iker raising the cup win out in the end and make this a film well worth seeing.

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.


  1. eyy guys! great blog…i’ve been reading for a bit, but since I was just finishing up graduate school i was too lazy to register! but guau after this weekend’s games…guau! i wanted to partake in the virtual communion of all things barca

    i live in chicago, so cant hit up the movie, sounds awesome tho…i was a flag bearer in the usa WC, for the mexico flag, didn’t get my hair done tho

    and yea, i love barca. i was in mexico for the UCL final where everyone was rooting for chicharito’s man u; so my celebrations were a bit muted (also right b4 a wedding) but it was good to stumble upon the blog and the post match tactics review

    awesome job on the scouting reporr guys…i am so ready for the season to start!.
    looking forward to future posts!

    i just kinda wish those rumors barca for (mexican foward) Fierro were true, after the U17, it would be nice to have a mexican to cheer on and develop at barca; as it looks like jona is on his way out…

    1. Failure is a strong word,” said Batista. “I wouldn’t call this a failure.” Which makes you wonder what he would call winning only one match of four at home, and that against Costa Rica’s Under-23 side.


      “It’s important to keep our calm after a loss and avoid thinking that it was all negative,” Menezes said. “We improved after the start in the competition and we will continue working hard so we can reach the positive results in the future.”


      also looking forward to el loco’s Atletic

      and while this site is usually pretty lame, this is a decent article (by LLL):

  2. Sounds like a wonderful movie. Can’t be in NY City in the upcoming week. But will be there during the labor day weekend. Hopefully see you then.

  3. They showed this on Spanish TV the other day. It’s awesome – especially for Barca/La Roja fans.

  4. So here is an Image of what Barca’s pre-season calendar looks like:

    as twittered by Barcastuff, source: [el periodico]

    so already I see major problems and congestion, our Gamper match is the day after our first league match, the copa catalunya is muddled up with the NT team friendlies where the players would probably have to travel to italy straight after the catalunya cup match. Pep would have to field a b-team side and I remember back in 08 Pep copped a lot of media attacks for fielding a b-team in the catalunya cup.

    1. Eh, if they paid for it 300 more Euros to our coffers. Don’t give a f*** about those people, personally.

    2. Watching the whole thing though, the animalism is disturbing. I couldn’t care less if stupid Arsenal fans gone hate on us, but from a human viewpoint big crowds getting high on hating anything always creeps me the hell out.

      Hate-drunk crowds do all the nastiest stuff, that most of those people wouldn’t do in their senses, and I don’t mean something like burning a shirt. If you’ve seen it with your own eyes before wherever you’ve lived you know angry crowds are scary as f***, they seem like this weird soulless entity that has no reason.

      Seeing hate-high crowds disturbs me, sure. Them burning the shirt? Meh. I just laughed at a guy wearing a Vela shirt. They can suck on our Champions League trophies.

    3. Here’s a challenge, like where’s Waldo. Count the number of cameras.
      An axiom of mine…
      The number of cameras is inversely proportional to the level of rationality of any crowd.
      Pure Bull$h!+

  5. Think I saw Wenger in that crowd.

    Interesting piece on about Wenger’s complete hypocriticism:

    Do as Arsene says.

    Mediawatch actually quite likes Arsene Wenger. And one of the reasons is that he makes our job relatively easy for us sometimes.

    In response to some (actually reasonably ambiguous) words from Roberto Mancini about Samir Nasri, Wenger said on Saturday: “These comments are not allowed. They are against the basic rules of football and Roberto Mancini should be informed. What we want is respect – we will not comment on footballers at other clubs. It’s time football in England came back within basic rules…This comment is absolutely out of order.”

    And Arsenal suit Ivan Gazidis followed up on Monday: “We don’t do our business in public.”

    Well quite.

    However, Wenger is apparently a student of the ‘Do what I say, not what I do’ school of pious self-righteousness. Here are a selection of his comments about Marouane Chamakh before he joined Arsenal last summer and he was very much still under contract with Bordeaux:

    July 3, 2009: “Yes, but only in the event of a departure.” (After being asked if he was interested in Chamakh.)

    July 18, 2009: “Chamakh is one of the players we’ve followed and if we need to go for a striker he’s a possibility. We’re keeping an eye on him.”

    August 4, 2009: “I like Chamakh, he is a forward that attracts me…I am in no rush…Chamakh would be good, but there are other options should we wish to pursue them.”

    Out of order indeed. In fact, Arsene’s complaint was rather familiar, as Bordeaux’s president Jean-Louis Triaud said in September 2009:

    “What I do not like in the behaviour of Arsène Wenger, who is doing this again today, is that at the beginning, he declared his interest in Chamakh, a long time before calling me. Then he ended up doing so. And now, Mr Wenger is starting again, again starting to put doubt in the mind of the player. And I don’t find that very correct.”

    Quite so.

  6. Guardiola: “I propose players to the club and then they decide, based on the financial possibilities of the club.”

    I now, it is comfortable to harp Rosell but it is time to admit – Guaradiola wants players and it is Rosell’s job to get those. Ofcourse Guardiola does not care about money ( he is not paid for it)

  7. Slow day..
    Found some quotes/transcript of Pep and Zubi’s press conference on barcastuff:

    Guardiola: “Puyol is doing great, recovering almost without any problem. He’s very motivated, we can count on him this season.”
    Guardiola: “The priority is a forward but there’s money for two players.”
    Guardiola: “It was always clear to us we wanted to keep Thiago. At his age now, Xavi and Iniesta weren’t playing at his level.”
    Guardiola: “Thiago has great skills, a lot of personality, there’s a lot of competition but we’ll try for him to have minutes.”
    Guardiola: “I want the players who played the Copa America to have at least two or three weeks of holidays.”
    Zubizareta: “The Copa America players are expected back at 8 August, but some could join the team earlier.”
    Zubizarreta: “We made Abidal a renewal offer before his condition and now we’re taking up the talks again trying to reach a deal.”
    Zubizarreta: “Milito has a contract and he’ll be here on 8 August [until when Copa America players can take holidays].”
    Zubizarreta: “Pep and I talked with Jeffren. We’re looking for the best solution. But the market is not as active as the media say.”
    Guardiola: “Transfers Madrid? If Madrid signs those players it’s because they are good.”
    Guardiola: “We’re as motivated as ever and the objective is to improve where we can.”
    Zubiezarreta: “We have maximum respect for Arsenal and starting from that base, we are trying to bring our positions closer.”
    Guardiola: “Cesc will make us better, we’re interested, but if it’s not to be then maybe next year and we use the money for something else.”
    Guardiola: “Between a midfielder and a forward, our priority is a forward.”
    Guardiola: “Everything we have done has been with permission of Arsenal and mister Wenger knows that. Cesc owes them.”
    Guardiola: “Cesc is an Arsenal player so he has to do what they say, every coach would like it that way. So I’m sure his injury is real.”
    Guardiola: “I propose players to the club and then they decide, based on the financial possibilities of the club.”
    Guardiola: “If we can’t sign Alexis Sanchez, we’ll go for a less expensive player or see what we have in the B-team.”
    Guardiola: “Udinese, like all clubs, can defend their interests. You can’t expect to arrive and sign who you want just like that.”
    Guardiola: “Sanchez can play on all three positions up front, he works hard, good one-on-one, good guy. He’s closest to what we look for.”
    Zubizarreta: “The talks on Alexis Sanchez are getting to the end, and I hope it will be a happy end. But our attempt can still hit the post”
    Guardiola: “We have a good team, but if you look at the calendar, we need a bigger squad. We have time until 31 August.”
    Guardiola: “We’re trying to sign Cesc, I hope in the end it will be possible.”
    Zubizareta (sports director): “The transfer of Bojan to Roma is close, we’re in the last stage of talks. It’ll be announced soon”
    Guardiola: “Bojan wants to play more, I understand he needs more minutes and now there’s the offer of Roma.”
    Guardiola: “There’s always room for improvement, there are always things you can do better, and that’s what we’ll try to do.”

  8. this quote is interesting:

    “The priority is a forward but there’s money for two players.”

    So It’ll be interesting which to players everyone on this blog would want us to buy.

    Sanchez & Cesc
    Sanchez & Other
    Cesc & Other

    I personally would want

    Sanchez & midfielder

    I would want Cesc clearly for quality, but as Euler pointed out a while ago in an epic post, his wages relatively would be way too high for our team.

  9. Is it only me, that I think we need a back-up left-back and a back-up right-back?

    Abidal (but I have a feeling he will be playing more CB this year), Maxwell (not really good enough for the crazy high standards of Barça) and Adriano.

    Is Montoya good enough to cover for Daniel Alves?

    I was watching Copa America and kind of liked the Paraguay left-back (winger) Marcelo Estigarribia from Newell´s. The first game against Brazil (against Daniel Alves) he played really well and would be fairly cheap.

    Still do not understand why we didn´t go after Jose Angel for that price. Not much to lose really.

    Anyway, the forward line is going to be amazing! Messi-Villa-Pedro-Affelay-Sanchez.

    Cesc is a bridge too far at the moment. Barça is trying to diminish the debt not increase it. It´s too bad JDS didn´t develop such as Thiago. We still have Keita as back-up (not a bad option at all).

    1. yer, Im a bit worried too we havent bought another LB, has Pep just CBF’d looking anymore? I sure would feel a lot more secure even if we bought a cheap LB for the b-team we can borrow from time to time.

    2. I think the reason for not going after Jose Angel more aggressively could be the fact that he won’t get many minutes in our squad right now, so why not let him develop one more year?

    3. Unfortunately Roma signed Jose Angel, thus rules him out for next summer unless we pay more than what hes worth.

  10. Estigarribia is a hot commoddity it would seem after a decent and overblown performance in the Copa so far. He’s not gonna be anything special IMO.

    The fact that we were cheap to move for Cote most likely means don’t expect a new LB unless its ridiculously cheap.

    1. Stop using the “c” word! It’s too soon for another one. Five years from now would still be too soon.

  11. Sounds like that movie is something I will be interested in watching.

    With regards to Cesc, Barcelona’s reputation has been very damaged because of how it has been handled. Ironically, Barcelona players should learn something from Cesc. None of this stuff should ever be said in public. The players can communicate with cesc and urge him to make the move, but they should be completely neutral to the media.

    Statements such as the ones Xavi and Co are making to the media, achieve nothing other than make them appear arrogant and disrespectful. I know thats not their intention, but thats how it comes off, and there is no way to justify them, no matter how much we try to show that Arsenal do the same.

    Barcelona players should just shut up. They can voice their support to cesc, Sandr and Pep, but just shut up when asked by the press.

    1. Disagree. I think that Graham Hunter and Sid Lowe have spoken very eloquently of late about the unfortunate position that players are in. They are asked a question at a press conference, and speak their minds, then are castigated for it.

      It’s no different than if someone asked Jack Wilshere if he would like to be on the same team as Messi. Would he say, “I can’t answer that, as it might be construed as Arsenal tapping up Lionel Messi,” or would he speak his mind and say “Who wouldn’t love to play with a player of that quality. It would be great if I could.”

      That’s what happened with our players and the Fabregas comments. In re: the most recent Xavi comments, he was quoting Fabregas, rather than his own views.

      I think that Graham and Lowe are right.

      And I hope that our players would not learn from Fabregas, so that they never fence-sit. If Fabregas wants to leave he should say so. If he doesn’t, he should say that, as well.

    2. Fundamental question here, why is Xavi quoting Fabregas? What business of his is this whole issue?

      Its amazing how humble guys like Xavi, Iniesta and Messi transform themselves into arrogant & disrespectful guys when they talk about this one issue. Is it worth it? Do Barcelona really need Fabregas that badly? I dont think so.

      It is different when a player says they love Fabregas and hope that he will get to play with them one day, than when they say he belongs to Barcelona, is has barca DNA and all that crap.

      The media has a right to ask because they want to sell stories, but all public figures learn that if you make a diffinative statements, you end up stepping on peoples toes.

      Contrary to the consensus here, I think fabregas handles this whole thing brilliantly. Everyone knows he dreams of barcelona, but everyone knows he plays for Arsenal and he will honor his contract if he doesnt get his wish. He has managed to convey this without stepping on anyones toes. The people who should know his desires already know. Unfortunately, only barcelona players are blubbing to the media.

      Its amazing how humble guys like Xavi, Iniesta and Messi transform themselves into arrogant & disrespectful guys when they talk about this one issue. Is it worth it? Do Barcelona really need Fabregas that badly? I dont think so.

    3. Wow.
      Guess what : Players can speak and will speak no matter how humble or not you find it.
      The only thing that it is not allowed is to break the rules , and to do such thing you must have offered a contract to a player without the owning club giving its permission.
      Thats all folks , everything else is a big drama.
      That nobody really cares about.
      Because no arsenal fans really care if Barcelona’s players are humble or not , or Barcelona fans care if Wenger feels Xavi’s comments are out of the line.
      All it matters is which players are gonna be in your team next season , and if your team complies by the rules.
      Both clubs do , everything else is as kramer would say cooky talk.
      In Wenger’s case its a pretty good chance to divert attention from his failing tacticts and transfer policy in years too though. Time to think about that and why some players are too eager to flee your squad rather than blaming it on the devil.

    4. BS. It matters. And thats why it’s best for the players to stay the hell away from that situation.

    5. Its amazing how humble guys like Xavi, Iniesta and Messi transform themselves into arrogant & disrespectful guys when they talk about this one issue.

      What’s the simpler explanation, that men who are humble and honest in pretty much every other respect are “transforming” themselves into arrogant jerks over one issue, or that the English-language media is intentionally selling the story to make it as if Barcelona players are claiming that Cesc “belongs to Barcelona” and conspiring to drive Cesc’s price down?

      Just take into account Xavi’s words over this. He once stated that since Cesc grew up in the Barca system, that his style of play would jive easily at today’s Barcelona, for which he used the rather unsensational Spanish phrasing of him having “Barca DNA”. And Arsenal fans have been hot and bothered over this ever since. You know how ridiculous these reactions sound to people that have read and listened these players’ interviews in their original language? It is the same with the recent “suffering” quote from Xavi, in which he was asked about Fabregas at a news conference at his charity program. He gave his own personal, honest experience of Cesc right now (that Cesc said he is suffering over his situation), and he’s crucified for it by Arsenal fans. (The same fans who, days prior, attaboyed Wilshere for his frank, honest “real men show loyalty to their clubs” interview.)

      They repeat this same mantra, “why don’t Barca players just shut up?” Because if they get asked questions, they’ll give their honest answers. Because they don’t have to say “no comment” to spare the sensitivities of Arsenal fans. Because they aren’t saying anything that two years of revelations from his own friends and family haven’t already made clear.

      Note that I’m saying all of this assuming that you are not in the group of people that believe that these statements from our players are part of a greater, top-down conspiracy to lower Cesc’s price. Those folks are hopeless.

    6. Was enjoying a summer vacation from the blog to recharge energies for next season 🙂 but I can’t let phrases like “arrogant and disrespectful” go by without comment.

      Fabregas has been attempting to play both sides here. He’s obviously being quite clear in private but won’t come out and say what he thinks. How do we know he dreams of Barcelona? If he’s an Arsenal player under contract he is the only one to start that off. If it’s not true it’s easily squashed by him. After the shenanigans in the last close season you’d have thought he’d have even kept his thoughts to himself when talking to his friends at Barca. I’m with Kxevin here that I’d much rather have players trying to answer questions and give us their genuine thoughts in interviews, even if it ruffles feathers.

      I’ve not seen anything from any of those named players that i found even slightly disrespectful. However, the whole business does make me waver slightly in my thoughts that Fabregas is worth pursuing at such a huge price.

      Just to answer the debate about signing a LB further up ( and to visit old haunts just once more ) I’m not clear how on earth we need a LB as a matter of urgency. I thought the consensus last year was that Abidal was one of the best in the world, Adriano had made the breakthrough and was playing amazingly well. If that means Maxwell is third choice then we have depth to spare. Surely if you’re worried about Abidal having to play CB then we need a CB which is closer to my own view. Unlike many, I reckon Puyol will make a full comeback, and that he and Pique will remain our mainstays although Pep will want to give some minutes to others here, if only due to the need for rotation. Despite this, I feel we should be looking for a pacy, tall, football playing CB with a view to the season after next. Not sure that any of the youngsters will be ready for prime time even then.

    7. Simple test here.

      Background: Iniesta was a Madrid fan as a kid.

      Exercise: Substitute the name Fabregas with Iniesta, and the names contributing the comments from Barcelona players with Madrid players

      Result: How would we, the fans of barcelona, react to those said statements?

      Sometimes the issue becomes crystallized when the shoe is on the other foot.

    8. If I were concerned that Iniesta’s old friends at RM could somehow unsettle Iniesta, I’d probably be ten times more concerned with the state and management of FC Barcelona that led to our star(s) wanting to leave in the first place. I definitely wouldn’t deflect my anger at my own club’s incompetence toward RM just because their players are talking about Iniesta (a close, personal friend of theirs).

      Of course, this is in a universe where the mutual animosity between RM and Barca isn’t several orders of magnitude stronger than that between Arsenal and Barcelona. And a universe in which Iniesta left Madrid’s Castilla at age 16, instead of another club, Albacete, at age 12.

    9. Xavi was asked, at a press conference for the opening of his football academy for underprivileged kids, whether he had talked to Cesc about the transfer dealings. Xavi gave his honest answer and explained what Cesc had told him in conversation; a fact that Cesc has made absolutely zero attempt to correct (and we must therefore assume is true).

      i’ll repeat: he answered the journalist’s question honestly, didn’t impugn anyone’s honour and didn’t presume to tell Arsenal what they should do with the player. in what conceivable universe, even with the most vibrantly tinted Red-and-White glasses, is that being “arrogant and disrespectful”? sometimes the truth is hard to hear, but that’s not Xavi’s fault.

    10. Im really , REALLY not getting this.
      Why is a player not allowed to speak his mind? (let alone why is he not when he is being accurate and honest).
      He is not doing something immoral or illegal.
      He says whats true and pretty much well known tbh.
      The only person that is under contract and getting paid to act protecting Arsenal’s interest is Fabregas and hes not really doing so, is he?
      Why is this considered to be anathema i will never understand.
      Where was the outcry when 5 years ago Berslusconi ,president of milan, that the only player he wanted was Ronnie , placed a bid of 100 million and got rejected?

    11. BA, I didn’t even know that Xavi was doing such an awesome thing at the time he made the statement. And I’m sure many people didn’t. You know why? One honest answer to a question completely ditracted from all the positive things he did that day. This is why people are usually very careful about such stands.

      Just because you see a bathroom while taking a stroll doesn’t mean you have to use it. You should always know when you need to use it and when you don’t.

      By that I mean, the media can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Any PR person worth their salt will tell you there are many ways to answer a question without putting your foot in your mouth. You can use that bully pulpit effectively if you are careful with your message. For example, what if xavi had said, ‘everyone knows how we feel about Cesc, but we will leave that to management’. Boom. Question answered. You move on to other questions and it’s a none issue.

      Joe Biden is considered a loose canon in US politicks. WHy? Because he answers all questions honestly. You know who makes fun of him? The MEDIA! They ask, but even THEY don’t want your honest answer. But they have to ask.

    12. Arsenal should shut up. Or make a complaint to fifa. It would be as good as me complaining to fifa probably but still.
      What a bunch of whiners.

  12. I do believe, by the by, that the Guardiola comments are the first direct word that we are interested in, and are negotiating with Arsenal for Fabregas that I can recall. Yes, it has been a running thing in the press for some time now, etc. But it suddenly seems much more real now.

    1. Its also quite distressing but Pep was adamant about it too :
      He asks for players, and the two players he’s asked to this summer have been Sanchez and Fabregas in that order.
      I’m not that pleased to hear of the second name but since the boss wants him , he definitely knows better.
      If our team looks fresher after these transfers in the second half of the seasons, go for it.

    2. Is it true that we are going after Neymar too? So thats 40 + 40 + 40… And I thought Sandro said we were about to auction off the pitch because of brokeness.

    3. The Neymar rumor was for next season, not this one. Guardiola doesn’t want him for character reasons. Read what you will into what that means about the long-term prospects for Guardiola remaining as coach, right?

    4. Frankly, that thought is very disturbing. I don’t want Neymar specifically because of the character issues( additionally because for that price, a player should come with a proven track record in Europe ). On the other hand, if you had to have Neymar, then Pep might be the one person who would be able to do something about said issues. The thought of Neymar in our locker room without Pep as a buffer is a path my mind doesn’t want to travel down.

  13. What I don’t get is- Pep says we need a bigger squad. Cool. But if Bojan and Jeffren are set to leave, and we are set to bring in only one attacker, how does that make our squad bigger?

    1. Well probably because Bojan and Jeffren were not really players Pep felt he could rely on whereas Sanchez and Cesc should both be players who could start any game. So essentially it is two extra players.

    2. Well, I wasn’t really counting Cesc b/c I still don’t think he’ll come this summer, but yeah one player (Sanchez) that can actually contribute, better than two that rarely play or have an impact.

    3. Exactly.

      I have a feeling that we will end up with both. I do think we will end up getting Cesc and unfortunately paying a lot more than we should, but it seems to me from Peps press conference that he really does want Cesc and this is the first time I have heard him be so public about it. That must mean that a deal is close, or at least on the cards.

      Sanchez should be a done deal by the end of the week.

    4. The problem is that there are times when squad size really matters.

      Consider the end of the last season. Both Bojan and Jeffren may have had poor seasons overall but they were invaluable in the lead up to the Champion’s League final because they allowed Pep to give Villa and Pedro badly needed rest. Same thing for early Copa games.

      Bojan is basically already gone, but I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep Jeffren for another year. He doesn’t seem to keen to leave unless he gets an a good offer from a club he likes. If he goes then I guess Kiko becomes the new Jeffren.

    5. No, they werent.
      We need a player that can actually play games and act as a first team member, not a forced second rate solution pep only goes for ,when a forward is jaded too much.
      We need a player that will contribute as much as the other three players that form our attack do.That will help in rotation and provide something more in the attack department.
      Messi played 4641 minutes last year.
      Pedro 3668.
      Villa 4170.
      Bojan and Jeffren combined played 1878 minutes and never looked good enough even to have played those.
      We need a player that will be able to share over 3000 minutes on the pitch providing quality and his name is Sanchez , not two sub par players that dont even make the numbers for it let alone perform when put on.
      This kind of option also subtract 1500 minutes away from our first options , helping them to stay fresher.

    6. ok, but if one of the MVP’S (see what i did there :p ) is injured we will have one forward less to step up and share the burden.

    7. If one of them gets injured, and bare in mind injuries are thought when planning the squad ,the coach will act accordingly.Horror injury?January signing.
      However barcelona forwards are not injury prone , we have a good medical team and thats the point of having another player to rotate with : injury prevention.
      Anyway, in my mind having bojan or jeffren in the squad was as contributing to our offense as taking a look in the B team and calling somebody up.
      In fact, if soriano stays he might be an even better option than those two.

    8. and we also have Afellay and Iniesta, though winger is not their best position, but for me they are more reliable than Bojan and Jeffren.

  14. I trust the man who has won 3 La Ligas, 2 Champs Leagues, 3 Super Cups, 1 World Club Cup & 1 Copa Del Rey in 3 years to know exactly what players his squad needs & exactly how to get the best out of the players his squad has got.

    If Pep wants Sanchez & Cesc & no more defenders then that’s fine by me…

    1. there are plenty of cheap but reliable left,-right, -whatever-backs available. But only very few reliable forwards and midfielders. And FCB knows – all top teams hunt those first. Even Brazilian club has joined with the pack.

  15. Anyone know what the problem with Caceres was? I don’t see why he couldn’t be our third string defender. He is a Sevilla, Juventus and Uruguay starter, why couldnt he be used as an insurance policy? Was he that bad or was there something else?

    I like Abidal and especially SMasch as back-ups, but for Copa and injuries, I’d prefer someone like him to back up those defenders.

    1. Not sure, but I would imagine Pep wasn’t enamored with Caceres’ skills on the ball. He still hasn’t improved in that respect. And maybe Pep felt he was a bit too reckless at times still? I don’t know. I would’ve gave him a spot on the team, no question.

      At the start of the 08/09 season, I actually loved Caceres and thought he looked better than Pique, who looked way too slow and clumsy to me. I don’t think Pep was patient enough with Caceres.

    2. I don’t think it was ever a real issue with his defending. He had more pace than most of our backline and tackled well ( maybe slightly too keen to go to ground?) . For me, it was his lack of composure on the ball but as you say, Jnice, that opinion was only formed over a handful of matches as far as I can remember.

      I suppose it shows us that Pep’s starting point for whichever position is an ability to be comfortable on the ball.

  16. I agree with the thoughts on caceres.
    I really liked that guy.

    Maybe he wasnt a ballet dancer on the ball, but how many teams in europe have two ball playing defenders as a great partnership?

    The norm is to have one composed ball playing CB with the other being a ‘destroyer’ type.

    I know this doesnt apply to us but honestly speaking is puyol even a ball playing CB?

    I look at puyol and i think – Now heres a man not blessed technically but has LEARNT to infuse basic ball skills into his game.

    Lets not forget that puyols lunging tackles which were said to be wreckless during his youth are today his trademark.

    I only wish caceres was given more time. At least to see if he could pick up a few things here and fine tune his game.

  17. From @barcastuff:

    Udinese owner Gino Pozzo has just arrived at Barcelona airport and has confirmed there’s a total deal on Alexis Sanchez (22). [rac1]

    The parties are now looking for a date for a final meeting on Alexis Sanchez. His agent can’t on Wednesday, Pozzo can’t on Thursday. [rac1]

    Okay, now I’m sure we’ve got us some Sanchez. (Not that I wasn’t before). YESH.

    Pep’s press conference doesn’t scare me like I thought it would. Still no Fabregas. #sofarsogood

    1. Yeah, but rac1 is as reliable as real estate brokers (can you tell who’s buying a house right now?). Until I see the dude at the Camp Nou getting a medical, I’m calling hooey on it all. There have been agreements reached before, then the next day, Pozzo says “Well, we are waiting for a serious offer. Sanchez is worth Mars, Jupiter and the gross domestic product of the European Union. We can’t just let him go for any old price.”

    2. Rac1 is way more reliable than any of the papers. They usually have better sources than any of the papers. Besides, they aren’t making up quotes. Pozzo Jr. is the one who said there’s a total agreement. If Udinese suddenly decide to change their mind, it doesn’t make Rac1 unreliable, it just means Pozzo is crazy.

    3. “If Udinese suddenly decide to change their mind, it doesn’t make Rac1 unreliable, it just means Pozzo is crazy.”


  18. On Caceres, I don’t think Pep was a big fan of his personality, if I recall correctly. There was this one game where Pep needed him to sub in immediately and instead of being ready, Caceres was busy wetting his hair. I remember Pep got really pissed off at that.

    Also, the lack of ball playing skills was big. Even Puyol, who’s usually thought of as the least assured Barca player on the ball, actually has pretty good feet and can at least look up and find a pass. Caceres was an accident waiting to happen, and with our high line would’ve been a disaster if he gave the ball away.

    I agree with everyone though, he had good pace and good instincts on the tackle, and at the very least, would’ve been better than Gabi Milito these last 12 months. Though Milito fulfills the all important “guy Messi talks to when he’s upset or happy” role, which cannot be dismissed.

    1. I think the real problem with Caceres was that he goes to ground too easily, and gives up too many fouls around the box. This is still true of him. Guardiola loves Mascherano because he can win balls without fouling, and deliver it right back into the mixer. Tackling is an art. Caceres gave up too many set pieces for Guardiola to be happy with, as set pieces are the one thing that’s immune to our pressing and possession game.

      And he lacks the composure on the ball of our defenders. Abidal is a classic example. Could Caceres have learned the composure? Abidal did, and is amazing now, but he wasn’t that bad to begin with.

      I also don’t think that Guardiola likes rash defenders, and Caceres is physical, and definitely rash. He’s another player that’s fine for somebody else, but doesn’t quite meet our standard.

  19. Oh, and about Fabregas:

    Bill makes some good points, as does everyone else. But the bottom line is if a player can be unsettled by someone from another team saying “Boy, it sure would be nice if we could play with him,” then your team and its player management sucks.

    If the position were reversed and it was Iniesta and EE, if Iniesta wanted to go, I’d say “Don’t let the door hit you in your traitorious ass.” If a player wants to go, he wants to go, and there’s nothing that anyone is saying or doing that is affecting that. Players usually want to go because of something their club is not doing, whether that’s paying him, winning trophies or treating him the way that he wanted to be treated.

    I just don’t think that any of those can be affected by blandishments from any player or coach.

    1. I just don’t think that any of those can be affected by blandishments from any player or coach.

      Agree 100%.

  20. Uruguay is a country of less than 4 million people. And they have a chance to cement their position as the premier footballing nation in South America.

    Last year’s World Cup. This years Copa America.

    What’s been striking about this Copa America is how much the game has evolved.

    Uruguay has been one of the few teams that understand and play football based on a systems approach. And of the teams that play based on systems (Chile, Paraguay perhaps the only others), Uruguay is the likely the most balanced.

    They are the one team in the tournament that not only has talent offensively and defensively but also uses that talent within a framework. And it’s a framework that they’ve stuck with and operated within over time.

    It’s a stark contrast to how other countries have played – ARG and Brazil most strikingly.

    Tabarez has done an amazing job there.

    One could argue that making the semis of the World Cup last year was a chance event. But if Uruguay wins the Copa they will have firmly cemented their position at the top of South American football.

    1. And wouldn’t you know that with one more championship they would also become the team with the most Copa America titles as well?

    2. Well it was a great game for Uruguay, they dominated in the first half, and they took advantage of their chances on the second, Markarian (Peru’s coach, and an uruguayan by birth) did a great analysis, how a 3,4 Million of habitants country can be such a football power, well they do it by making awesome work in canteras. Kudos for Uruguay, I just wish Vargas wouldnt have make himself be sent away, so we could have him for the game for third on saturday. Sanchez is apparently signing this week, and Cesc has alledgedlly denied a new contract.

    3. I think we’ll sign Sanchez eventually, I’m optimist about Sanchez.

      don’t know what to think about Cesc.
      one thing for sure, the club will fight until the end.

    4. Uruguay is a country of less than 4 million people.

      yes. and to think that my country, Indonesia, has more than 200 millions people, but us cannot produce a decent national football team.
      that makes me sad, really.

      But if Uruguay wins the Copa they will have firmly cemented their position at the top of South American football.

      absolutely. I think as a team, as a unit, they are better than Argentina and Brazil at the moment.

    5. I was glad to see you posted the observations about Uruguay, I was coming on to make the same observations but not nearly as well as you did. Total agreement, they have really been impressive in the last year.

    6. But if Uruguay wins the Copa they will have firmly cemented their position at the top of South American football.

      And this only two years after placing mid-level (#5) in the CONMEBOL league, and scraping by a Costa Rica team in transition in the CONCACAF-CONMEBOL qualifier. They were so close to missing out on the World Cup and now they are arguably the best team in South America (I definitely think they are).

      That goes to show what the exclusivity of World Cup champions also hints to: that there are institutional factors that weigh heavily in the success at the international level. Small countries like Uruguay with solid institutional stability and a long history of futbol know-how have a competitive advantage over more populous-and-football-mad countries without these features.

      The ultimate measure of international football quality is the World Cup’s knockout stage. If you’ve reached this stage, you most likely have a solid starting 11 and some game plans to get you by opponents that you’ve studied for months. Yet, I think, two things trump other factors once you are in the knockout stage: depth of the talent pool and management experience/flexibility. Luck plays a role, yes, but you can’t control for that. As the knockout stages progress, most teams get “found out” for having either a paucity of talent or strategic inflexibility. The way I see it, over the last two summers, Uruguay has been the South American team with the most balanced and favorable distribution of these two factors.

  21. Putting in my two cents on the Arsenal issue and Iniesta example.

    The Barcelona players aren’t making stuff up here now are they? If Madrid players were saying Iniesta wanted to move there and that meant Iniesta had told them so- if he had said that was his intention- I’d be pissed off at Iniesta, not one bit at the Madrid players.

    Not saying this cos of where I stand in the Cesc-Barca thing as a fan, but cos I know I would be furious if Iniesta wanted to go to Madrid and Madrid people talked about it, at him not at them.

    If it was another club except Madrid, I’d not be pissed at them as a traitor though, if they apparently want to leave us and people from another club said they did. Say, if Yaya decided he wanted to go to City, even if City stars, like say, Kolo, had gone and talked about him and talked and talked, my thoughts would have been why does he want to leave… and I’d be bitching about how Barcelona the city and club are so much more awesome than Manchester, not anything his brother said or whatever.

  22. Also, Suarez has got to be player of the tournament so far, right? He was giving Argentina major trouble in their quarterfinal, a brace in the semi, and if I remember correctly which I may not was Uruguay’s best player in two out of three group games?

  23. If Messi plays with this Uruguay team, He would be the greatest football player in history.

    He could have pushed them further in the WC and in Copa.

    1. I was saying the same thing on Facebook not too long ago. Pity he’s stuck in the national team version of Atletico Madrid.

    2. Well, but that could never have happened.

      He could have chosen Spain, though. And I don’t think that Messi would have made la Furia Roha a weaker team, i.e. he’d be a WC and EC winner by now!

  24. On the Caceres issue, its easy to look at him now and see how good hes been for Uruguay and Seville, but the fact is in 2008 Caceres was just a fraction of what he is now, back in 08 I would consider Caceres still as a youngster/youth he was not very experienced and defensively aswell as on the ball technique he was still not reliable enough, he didnt have the best of confidence either, Guardiola didn’t want to throw him in the fire and see what happens. he knew he wasn’t ready, it wasn’t until Caceres left where he began to grow confidence and became a good player.

    Why didn’t Pep want him back? well that question was answered above in the other posts, still very reckless and a red card magnet.

    I still believed he had potential to be key for us in set-pieces (offesively that is) with his speed and physicality.

    1. The Chelsea fans did the same thing to a guy in a United shirt at the open training session yesterday. Hah.

    2. Could it be the same guy? On a number of occassions in the past when I was wearing my Barca jersey I came to a cafe where they showed EPL matches but all they could do was marvel at the shirt, or maybe it was me 😆

      I wouldn’t mind wearing my Barca jersey to a stadium full of Chelsea or Liverpool or Manu, but it is just plain silly. Why would you want to spoil their mood?

    3. Yes it’s trolling. Barca jersey to a Man Utd or Liverpool game is one thing, wearing a United shirt to a Liverpool game is like wearing a Barcelona shirt to a Madrid game or vice versa. Or a Lazio jersey to a Roma game, Spurs jersey to Arsenal game, etc.

  25. This kinda went under the radar but weren’t we poised to sign Joel Valencia, Zaragoza’s most promising youngster in exchange for JDS?

  26. Just to throw a few thoughts on the whole issue about Cesc:

    A) Comparing the case of Cesc from Arsenal to Barca with Iniesta going from Barca to Real Madrid is just inaccurate. Once there is a 100 year rivalry between Arsenal and Barca, then we can compare. Figo was not a fan of Real Madrid, and we all saw what happened. Luis Enrique is another example. Morbo my friends, morbo.

    B) I agree with Kevin. If Cesc really wants to leave, then he needs to man up and say so. Simple as that. You rarely stay friends after a break up. Just move on and stop being all little nice guy.

    C) With point B in mind, Barca also can’t expect that they can get away with a cheap price for Cesc just because he is Catalan, was in their youth system some 8 years ago and wants to come back home. Look at it this way, if you hear Xavi is going to be out for the full season tomorrow, how important is the Cesc signing then? It seems the management at the club has realized that Xavi is facing injury problems. Ones that might lead him to be out or unable to play 60 games a season. Cesc for 40 million sounds like a bargain then. The player is talented, there is no doubt of that. Pay up or look else where. (especially considering that Sanchez, a half season wonder, is being prized the same way as Cesc, who when not injured, has been top notch.)

    1. A) Agree, Iniesta is not a good example.
      B) Cesc needs to man up and say that he wants to leave, but he has to do what the club asks of him. Also, he is the captain of Arsenal. I don’t think it is appropriate for him to openly say that he want to leave for Barca.
      C) To me Cesc for 40 mil is a bargain. His open market value is 50 mil. If I herd that Xavi was out for even half a season, Cesc signing would be priceless.

      Most poeple would like Thiago to take Xavi’s spot, and not Cesc because of point number B.

    2. I think it is really naive to think that Thiago, at his experience and age can actually comfortably take over for Xavi. In a couple of years, yes, but right now, not really.

      It took Xavi plenty of experience and years to reach the level he is at.

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