Thoughts From the Stands: Manchester United 2 – 1 Barcelona


When this game was first announced I knew it would be the perfect opportunity for me to redeem myself to my father and brother, having missed both of their birthdays this year. What could be a better trip for a family of soccer nerds than a trip to see the two best teams in Europe last season? It was the game of champions, the ultimate revenge match, it was essentially the Champions League final being played over again on American soil… What’s that? It’s only a friendly?

Sir Alex said it best after the match, “To be honest, both teams made a lot of changes so it’s difficult to gauge exactly the importance of the result.” I’m one of those people who is not fun to be around when my team loses, especially when they are beaten but my old man’s team. Yet this game left me with a lot to be happy about, and if I had to give it an alter-ego I’d call it “The Good, the Bad, and the Lovely.” Let’s start with the good.

Definitely an A for Effort

Jonathon Dos Santos isn’t a right back by choice, but his future in the team will depend on how well he plays there. With the team having a packed midfield already, and the threat of Fabregas looming, being versatile and dependable is Dos Santos’ path into the first team. He had a great game – intercepting, making himself available, making smart passes, and getting up and down the line well. I was ready to write him off and take a couple million for him before this match, but after this performance I think he should be given a chance to earn the “hatchet man” role in the team.

The young players impressed me in general. I’m not going to say much since it’s hard to keep Cuenca straight from Cormona straight from some other random youngster when you’re in the stands straining your neck to see around the tall bald guy in front of you while trying to drink your third beer. I will say that Espinosa was a livewire for the five minutes he was on the field. The best part is that many of our most promising prospects weren’t even there…

For the bad, let’s start with Busquets. Suffice to say he didn’t have the best match. More importantly, his poor game is symptomatic of a much deeper problem we could be facing this season – a lack of pace in the back. Both of United’s goals came from quick counter attacks. The first could be attributed to an offside trap mistake, but the second (and a potential third that Owen missed when it would have been easier to score) were the result of United outpacing our back line. Guardiola has a lot of options for centerback – Busquets, Abidal, and Mascherano can all fill in but none of them should be considered permanent solutions. Judging on how difficult it has been for center backs to acclimate the past couple of years, this should be a top priority for the club.

The worst part of the match

My old man noted after the game that “Barcelona dominated the game, but rarely really looked like scoring.” I ignored his effusive praising of United that directly followed, but I thought he was spot on with this analysis. I didn’t think any of the first team forwards played well, but can’t put my finger on any common cause. Missing Messi? Maybe. Pedro annoyed me the least of the three. Like a cog in a machine he is essential when the machine is running well, but if another part of the machine is broken he can run and run as much as he wants – the machine will still be broken. Meanwhile Afellay was doing his best central midfielder impersonation. He played two phenomenal balls into the box (I’ll get back to this in a second) when he stayed wide and high, but he spent the majority of the time trying to give Thiago a hug. That, coupled with that fact that he runs into the end line way too fast leaves me thinking his best position is still center mid. Add on that he hurt himself at the worst possible time, and it wasn’t the best game for Afellay. Villa, Villa, Villa. He is more frustrating to watch in person than on TV. I was so confused by his positioning all night (and not the I’m a defender and I just got tricked confused, more the WHY THE HELL ARE YOU STANDING OFFSIDE? WHY AREN’T YOU ANYWHERE NEAR THE BOX FOR AFELLAY’S PERFECT CROSS? confused). For my money, Villa was the worst of the three.

The game also highlighted one reason we were so keen on signing Sanchez. We have lacked a forward who can spearhead a counter attack since the footballing demise of Thierry Henry. Several times we had chances to counter but didn’t have a quick, direct forward to make it happen, and those chances died. Sanchez will provide us these opportunities if we want to take them, and it will be nice to see a little Blitzkrieg added into the trench warfare. Finally – without Messi there it is painfully obvious we lack an attacking focal point. It might seem like a luxury now to have a forward who con occupy the opposition center backs, but later in the season it may become a necessity.

Wayne Whoney?

The lovely came in two completely different packages Saturday night. One player who is so nondescript you wouldn’t pick him out of a lineup of Asian players, and another who plays with the bravado of a swordfighter from a Dumas novel. Fontas can make the extraordinary look boring, while Thiago can add flair to the simplest of passes. They both played fantastic. Fontas won basically everything that came his way with a simple nonchalance. Thiago has the Midas touch of late, and I would be hard pressed to name many players that were more dominant throughout the game than he was. It’s going to be a joy to watch them this season.

I’ll leave you with some quotes from the guys sitting behind me:

“I’ll know who all these players are and what their numbers are when FIFA ’12 comes out.”

Guy 1: “Number 2 just came on the field… that doesn’t look like Dani Alves.”

Guy 2: “It has to be Dani Alves, he always wears 2.”


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  1. Calvin
    August 1, 2011

    PS – I want to apologize for my extended absence. I was afforded an amazing opportunity this summer I couldn’t pass up. Have no fear! I intend to rise from the ashes like a phoenix, reborn as Calvin, the eternal troublemaker.

    Some really good transfer comments on the last post, please, continue.

      • Calvin
        August 1, 2011

        Does that make Luke Stupendous Man or Tracer Bullet?

  2. August 1, 2011

    Guardiola has a lot of options for centerback – Busquets, Abidal, and Mascherano can all fill in but none of them should be considered permanent solutions

    THIS!!! A thousand times!

    Just because they can play there, doesn’t mean they should! And that goes double for Busi (Abi actually kicks some major arse playing there, as seen last season).

    A great comeback, vicsoc Calvin!

    • Justin
      August 1, 2011

      the other problem is that playing busq at cb means were not playing busq at dmf, where is a critical part of our possession game as he serves as a pivot

  3. August 1, 2011

    Abidal played his best football ever, and was the most in form player on the club, when he was at CB last season just before his cancer scare. He could easily be our starting LCB. If Adriano can get back to his form at the end of the season, specifically the Copa final, when he was our MOTM, I would have no problem with him being our starting LB. Mascherano was also excellent at CB. With our high line, we don’t need a tall CB, a mobile player like Javier almost works better. On set pieces we have Busquets, Piqué and Abidal to work the aerial balls anyway. The only one of the three you mentioned who hasn’t convinced me is Busquets. He should only be an emergency backup.

    • Jnice
      August 1, 2011

      Yeah, I think Abidal gives us a lot at CB. We need his pace and ability to hawk down attackers. Mascherano also played well at CB and I don’t mind when he plays there. He gives us an injection of pace and and intensity back there. Also, his anticipation and tackling are things he uses well back there.

      Busquets is the one that I think has no business being a CB. It’s not him at all. Yes he has the height, but little else that makes him a good CB. But if he’s going to be used during emergencies, I hope to never see Busi-Pique during the season. I would take Abidal-Busi and Puyol-Busi before that option. Shakhtar already showed us how vulnerable that pairing is.

      Really wish we were buying another center back, but it won’t happen. Let’s hope Bartra continues to progress and develop.

    • Calvin
      August 1, 2011

      But if you are planning on moving Abidal to center back then you’re left thin at the left back position. I am confident Adriano will have another good season, but I still have some concerns about Maxwell.

      We spent a lot of last season patching together a starting back line depending on who was fit. That’s including the games that Milito played, and I wouldn’t be sad in the slightest to see him move before the end of the summer. We are fortunate to have so many players who are versatile and can play at the back when necessary, but I still think a young defensive signing would be a good move.

      I think Pep is avoiding it because he hasn’t had much luck integrating center backs in the past, and because there are several Masia products whose future will need to be decided in the next couple of years.

      • Jnice
        August 1, 2011

        Adriano will be first choice at left back and Maxwell, even though he isn’t my favorite, is capable of filling in for the other matches Adriano misses.

        This all depends on how Puyol recovers from his injury. So far, so good and if he’s able to come back without pain, we have a lot more options with how we mix and match our defenders.

        Assuming he comes back and is healthy, I like Pique-Puyol, Pique-Abidal, Puyol-Abidal, Puyol-Fontas in that order. I don’t know about Abidal-Pique because they are both left footed.

        • Jnice
          August 2, 2011

          I don’t know about Abidal-Pique because they are both left footed.

          I meant Fontas instead of Pique.

      • August 2, 2011

        Not really. Adriano, Maxwell, Puyol and Fontàs can all play LB.

      • August 2, 2011

        We spent last season patching together a back line, yet we still had our best defensive year under Pep, maybe ever. The goals conceded in Liga over the past three seasons have dropped from 35 to 24 to 21. The big reason is that our team defense keeps improving, which means our back line is exposed less and less. As long as our midfield isn’t losing the ball in bad spots, we don’t need to invest huge money in some superstar defender.

        In fact, most great defenders don’t work out in our system. The other day I posted this in another thread:”Thuram €5m, Milito €20m, Henrique €8m, Cáceres €16.5m, Chgyrynskiy €25m. Would you say that any of those were good buys?”

        Honestly, I think our best bet is to cultivate, Fontàs, Bartra, Gomez (who will be with the team today after winning the U19 Euro last night) and Botía, who we can still buy back from Sporting after next season.

        At LB, I still think that Maxwell be sold this summer, but we still have Adriano, Puyol and Fontàs who can play there and I suspect we may pick up a young LB before the summer transfer window closes.

  4. mom4
    August 1, 2011

    I’m not going to say much since it’s hard to keep Cuenca straight from Cormona straight from some other random youngster when you’re in the stands straining your neck to see around the tall bald guy in front of you while trying to drink your third beer.


    You were the guy in front of me ordering the beers. You’re the reason the beer guy kept on getting in my way, the reason for my difficulty in seeing the game. $27 worth of beers!


    I agree with both you and Jnice. Busi should not be a permanent solution to the CB problem if for no other reason than it keeps him from being our DM. That being said, I don’t mind him getting some preseason minutes there just like I don’t mind Keita getting some minutes at DM when it doesn’t matter. The season is long. Last year we were all saying “why hasn’t Pep tried so and so at such and such a position because were running low on CBs/FBs/forwards/ballboys/etc.”. This is the time to do it.

    • Jnice
      August 1, 2011

      don’t mind him getting some preseason minutes there just like I don’t mind Keita getting some minutes at DM when it doesn’t matter. The season is long. Last year we were all saying “why hasn’t Pep tried so and so at such and such a position because were running low on CBs/FBs/forwards/ballboys/etc.”. This is the time to do it.

      Yeah, I think if it wasn’t for injuries and absences, Busi wouldn’t have played 3 (or 4?) games at CB and Keita wouldn’t have played DM at all during pre-season. Also, JDS would’ve gotten a chance to play DM if we had right backs available to us.

      You were the guy in front of me ordering the beers. You’re the reason the beer guy kept on getting in my way, the reason for my difficulty in seeing the game. $27 worth of beers!

      Ha, the row in front of me kept pissing me off. Time after time someone would get up to do something. That row wasn’t settled for more than 5 minutes at a time. Annoying.

      • mom4
        August 1, 2011

        So, as it’s unlikely we’ll get another CB, and believe me, I’m thankful that Abi and Masche are pretty good at it, do you think Fontas is ready for prime time yet? And for the future, who is better: Bartra or Fontas (or Botia for that matter)?

        • Jnice
          August 1, 2011

          I think Fontas is definitely ready for the first team, but it also depends on who he is paired with. I think he’ll do extremely well next to Puyol/Abidal. Next to Pique, I have my doubts, though against Man Utd, he did well alongside Busi, someone with similar (physical) traits to Pique.

          You saw how composed he was against Rooney. He wasn’t fazed at all and always made the right decisions on the ball.

          Fontas is definitely better than Bartra right now. Botia is better than both because he’s been starting in La Liga for two years. Bartra has tons of potential, though, and will see plenty of action in the Copa, IMO.

          • Calvin
            August 1, 2011

            My old man, who is in love with Rooney looked at me during the middle of the first half and asked “who is that young guy with orange boots who is absolutely stonewalling Rooney right now?”

      • Calvin
        August 1, 2011

        There was a row just like that behind me. Interestingly the guys sitting there were wearing Washington Redskins jerseys.

      • justsayin
        August 2, 2011

        In my section, people were still filing in at the last minute of the first half! What is going on with people? These tix are expensive, why don’t they just come early and sit and watch the game??

  5. August 1, 2011

    Good report..

    But I don’t really think Jonathan plays there because Pep sees him to have a future as rightback or anything like that. He has not the built or pace to be a rightback, he’s way too top heavy, and actually, I don’t really see him ever making the team as a starter. However, he might just play rightback to get a better sense of positioning, to learn how to anticipate, how to not get beat by pace by other players and such stuff. The thing with him is that he might have a future as a classic 4/defensive midfielder but he hasn’t have the defensive abilities yet and the anticipation and everything else. But Pep from what I know is kind of “in love” with him and you can see it from the fact that he gave him more opportunities than anyone else. So..that might just be the reason.

    • Calvin
      August 1, 2011

      It doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to see a period where times get tough in our backline. If Abidal is needed at center back and Adriano is playing left back for a couple games that doesn’t leave anyone on the first team to cover for Alves. Pep has been searching for a young player who can fill there (see Jeffren experiment).

      I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jonathon play there a couple times this season. It’s not going to be his permanent position, but if he can play it well during rough patches or in the Copa he will really help his chances of breaking into the team.

      • Jnice
        August 1, 2011

        It doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to see a period where times get tough in our backline. If Abidal is needed at center back and Adriano is playing left back for a couple games that doesn’t leave anyone on the first team to cover for Alves. Pep has been searching for a young player who can fill there (see Jeffren experiment).

        I’m certain that young player is Martin Montoya. Pep was ready to give him minutes at the end of last season before his injury ruled him out. If he was able to play during pre-season, he would’ve started against United, Bayern and the rest of the teams we’ve faced.

        Montoya has progressed extremely well over the course of last season and I think he will be that 3rd option if Alves and Adriano are unavailable. After him, I see Bartra being used at right back before Jonathan.

        • Calvin
          August 1, 2011

          I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Montoya, and the fact that the club wouldn’t consider selling him, even to their new friends over at Roma, speaks volumes (they could have easily gotten a buy back clause). However Dos Santos has the advantage of experience over him at the moment.

          I think if Jonathon ever wants to seriously break into the team he is going to have to fill a Keita-like role. I may be alone in this but I think that’s where he would fit best. Unfortunately he doesn’t have much chance right now as Keita has that position on lock down. I think Pep will hook him up with a couple games this year, but it’s hard to see how he’ll find them in the midfield.

          • justsayin
            August 2, 2011

            I was most impressed with Fontas and Thiago. I know they’re first team now, and I can see why. Fontas has a calmness about him in the back that seems beyond his years. I am very comfortable with him in that position. Thiago has all the makings of our next Xavi, maybe not as plugged into as many plays as Xavi but I can see him getting there. While he perfects that skill, he has the ability to take a great shot right outside of the box in the bag. I look forward to seeing these 2 play more games this season.

    • August 2, 2011

      I agree, JDS will never play RB for us in a match that counts, ever. Pep is getting him ready to play at the 4 on the B team, which sorely needs a DM now that Oriol Romeu is off to Chelsea.

    • Noslehcimretep
      August 1, 2011

      there is no reason that should have made me giggle as much as it did

  6. Miguel
    August 1, 2011

    Guardiola: “I’ve a great squad, I’ve no right to complain. One more player could come, you all know who it is. We’ll see if it will happen.”


    • August 1, 2011

      Don’t do this to me, Pep. You’re gonna make me cry. PLEASE.

      • August 1, 2011

        But wait, he goes on to say, “Sergi Gomez and Deulofeu will join to give some other players some rest. There are some injured players and the squad is small.”

        Contradictory much?

        Wait, never mind. I think he was talking about the current squad, not the squad on the whole. A shame.

        • Miguel
          August 1, 2011

          Not if it’s taken in the context of the U.S. tour and peeps still being on vacation and junk.

        • Miguel
          August 1, 2011

          You can’t just edit your comments willy nilly like that after getting moded.

          • Calvin
            August 1, 2011

            That’s some Orwellian abuse of power right there!

            • August 1, 2011

              Hey! I totally edited that comment before Miguel replied! His fault for not reading it properly the first time. 😀

    • Calvin
      August 1, 2011

      It just feels like the club is playing it way too safe this transfer season. Too much resting on the squads laurels for my taste.

      If you want to improve you have to bring some new faces in once in a while. Make improvements where they can sensibly be made.

      • August 2, 2011

        Wow, and I thought the club was being greedy bringing Thiago, Sanchez and Cesc in.

  7. Miguel
    August 1, 2011

    Sounds like you had a blast, Calvin. Good to have you back.

    I’m usually the bozo trying to flag down the beer dude.

  8. ciaran
    August 1, 2011

    Is Pep’s biggest flaw that he can’t distinguish depth from versatility?
    Another summer that we have all questioned the depth and have continually said that this person or that person can fill in at whatever position.

    I need Pep to take control of the situation.
    If Montoya is going to be considered the 1st sub for Dani then promote him. If he isn’t going to rely on Milito tell him thanks but fuck off. At the minute, EE could play 2 entire XIs that could give us a game and they were fresh as daisies in the second half of last season and in reality, we were 1 player better than them. If Messi got injured last season we would have won nothing. Villa fell away and Pedro is nothing but a finisher.

    Adding Sanchez is great but we selling Jeffren and Bojan for their careers leaving another empty slot on the roster. Now, again, maybe Guardiola thinks than Soriano or Deulofeu are capable of filling the minutes given to Bojan and Jeffren but if not we are lighter up front.

    My major wish for this season is that Fontas proves to be our perfect partner for Pique because if that isn’t the case, our problems again this season are going to be in central defense for the 3rd year in a row. It is frustrating

    • ciaran
      August 1, 2011

      The Pedro comment looks like I don’t like Pedro. Basically, I don’t see Pedro as ever leading the line of Barca because he is not a creative player, but is an incredibly good finisher and will probably be the 3rd striker for our team for most of the next decade due to his finishing and unbelievable work rate.
      I meant that if we hadn’t Messi, then Villa and Pedro wouldn’t have been a good enough combo on their own to win us the league or champions league.
      It didn’t help that Villa was drained of all energy towards the end of the season

    • August 1, 2011

      Is Pep’s biggest flaw that he can’t distinguish depth from versatility?

      Nah, he can tell the difference. The problem is that he wants a relatively small squad, for training and for matches. Pep doesn’t like changing the lineups too much because he believes in players keeping their rhythm, and he doesn’t want to have those players in the fringes who barely play (which affects the team when they are subbed in).

      I mean, I can see his reasoning and I agree — to a certain point.

      I think he thinks promoting Fontas is compensating for the loss of Puyol — it doesn’t. Fontas is closer to Pique, and playing them together is asking for trouble. One CB. We just need one CB.

      our problems again this season are going to be in central defense for the 3rd year in a row It is frustrating

      True dat, ciaran.

      Although there is still time in the transfer window, so I dare to hope.

  9. Diego
    August 1, 2011

    I wrote a long comment then my internet got disconnected.

    Basically, Why Pep didn’t buy Botia or Angel is a mystery.

    We need FW and CB, CB is priority, FW is needed but secondary.

    Willian for 12m, CB for 15-20m will be better than 40m for Sesk.

    • ciaran
      August 1, 2011

      The problem with that is that the only 2 centre backs on the planet that could rang with what we want are David Luiz and Thiago Silva would both cost approx €30-40million

  10. The__K__Man
    August 1, 2011

    “He is a top quality player [Juan Mata], we’ve seen that in the Under-21’s and in the Spanish league last season. I think the way Arsenal play would suit his game,” Wilshere said after the Emirates Cup game against Boca Juniors.

    OMG Wilshere is tapping up Mata. Someone alert Wenger so he can report it to FIFA.. Oh wait!

  11. Colby
    August 1, 2011

    Why didn’t Espinosa go to either the U-19 Euros or U-20 world cup?

    • Jnice
      August 1, 2011

      Injury forced him to drop out of the U-19 squad.

  12. ciaran
    August 1, 2011

    Has anyone seen the comments from Mazinho, Thiago’s father?
    He’s a pretty stupid guy. Basically saying Thiago has no loyalty and will play wherever he feels by saying that he held talks with EE and won’t rule out playing at any other club.
    You’d think after signing a new contract he’d be saying ‘Thiago only ever wanted to play for Barca’ etc.

  13. August 1, 2011

    So, with Jeffren gone, can Sanchez say “I don’t the 9, after all. Can I have the 11?”

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      August 1, 2011

      Let Alexis be the one who breaks the spell… 😉

      For years number 11 is *cursed* in AC Milan, no one had success with that number, until Ibra came and broke the spell..

      • August 1, 2011

        Oh, I don’t believe in that curse BS. I just like Alexis with the 11.

        • August 2, 2011

          True, 11 fits him more than 9 and fits my hopes more as well:)

          But too late.

  14. BarcaGirl_Indo
    August 1, 2011

    I’m not feeling good towards next season..
    hell yeah, we’re still have the best starting XI, put our (fit and fresh) best starting XI in a final match, and I’m sure we’ll kick ass..

    but the season is looong.. we can’t deny that last season we have lots of luck, depth problem almost killed us..

    we’re lucky despite losing Puyol for half season and Abidal for two months (both are our two best defenders), we still have two titles..
    we’re lucky our forwards (MVP) didnt have a bad injury ala Higuain..
    etc, etc, etc..

    are we gonna be *that* lucky again?
    buy a natural CB and I’m gonna be a happy girl.. don’t see it happening though.. 🙁

    • August 2, 2011

      With all the injuries in defense last season, we still managed to keep our defense consistent. Then you should add Sergi Gomez to the mix. He is not the defender people talk about most (Maybe the unfortunate performance against Sevilla(?) has something to do with that), but while everyone -almost- was excited about Romeu, the one who made it was Busquets. And so I believe Sergi is the most complete defender in our youth classes. He may get some needed time in the first team next season and may even get his first team shirt next summer.

      But to rephrase your concern: I dont think we will be as UNlucky as last season in our defense line, but will we be as lucky in the offense? Because unlike the majorities belief I think there’s where we have the most fragile depth – and diversity.

      • BarcaGirl_Indo
        August 2, 2011

        yes, we talk about Bartra, Montoya, and Botia.. just a few mentioned Sergi Gomez..
        we shall see how he progress this season..

        I dont think we will be as UNlucky as last season in our defense line, but will we be as lucky in the offense? Because unlike the majorities belief I think there’s where we have the most fragile depth – and diversity.

        actually you right, yes.. don’t know if that the most fragile depth in our squad, but it is fragile..

        okay, it was just 4 friendly matches, but I feel worry the most with our forwards…
        it’s not because they didn’t make goals, but they didn’t look convincing whatsoever to me (especially Pedro and Villa)

        like Calvin said, were they missing Messi? maybe..
        I don’t know, I’m just hoping we will be that lucky next season..

      • Jnice
        August 2, 2011

        while everyone -almost- was excited about Romeu, the one who made it was Busquets.

        It’s a bit different, though. Romeu is 19, Busi is 23. Romeu still has a big chance to succeed with Barça. Especially if he plays with Chelsea. They were never close to being in the same age groups like Bartra, Gomez, Muniesa, and Fontas are.

        People who follow Barça’s youth system know about Gomez’s quality and potential, but like I said on twitter, I think it’s a bit too early to talk about him in first team terms. A lot will depend on how well he performs for Barça B.

  15. barca96
    August 2, 2011

    Man….Rafa is considering dropping Spain in favor of Brasil. I want him to continue with Spain 🙁

    Or doesn’t he trust in his skills? Lack of self believe?

    • K_legit
      August 2, 2011

      Or the fact that there are about 14000 midfielders in the spain future while brazil has way lesser

      • barca96
        August 2, 2011

        Ya I know. He has a better chance with Brasil. But now he is entering a similar as Cesc. Not ready to fight it out.

        And with Brasil, you know, less chance of silverware 🙂

      • Dani_el
        August 2, 2011

        I read he has always felt more close to Brazil than to Spain, unlike Thiago.

  16. hammeronmessi
    August 2, 2011

    It seems all of us are scared of the defensive depth.have 4 cbs in puyi abi fontas and pique.fon pique pairing apart every other cb pairing is good and solid.if needed masch is i dont think we do need a cb this season.

    on the contrary none of us except ramzi is worried bout our offese.4 forwards for 3 poditions,one of them being messi.

    need another forward.llorente drogba are dreams.what bout laquinta,decent pace,good header,have cl experience,reasonable price.

    but what do i know?i m no pep

    • Jnice
      August 2, 2011

      on the contrary none of us except ramzi is worried bout our offese.4 forwards for 3 poditions,one of them being messi.

      Not true. Several people, including myself have been mentioning we still seem an attacker short and Iniesta is not a desirable option up front.

      As for defense, I appreciate that we have 4 CBs, but you have to seriously take into account Puyol’s fitness. If he’s not fit, that changes a lot of things. Also, you have to look at the pairings and not just the number of defenders we have.

      • Jnice
        August 2, 2011

        5 forwards for 3 positions, by the way.

      • barca96
        August 2, 2011

        I thought all summer long all we wanted was a CB and a forward.
        Well we got one forward but since 2 left, we need one more.

        I still believe that Villa is the one who will be dropped this season. I do not think that he will have a better season than the last. Therefore I think that we need one more forward.

  17. Olufestus
    August 2, 2011

    For a defender,get chelsea’s ALEX for £10M,and we are ready to go,strong,pacy and reliable in the air,ALSO free kick specialist that we lack WITH EXOCET MISSILES PACKED IN HIS BOOTS…Q.E.D

  18. hammeronmessi
    August 2, 2011

    My bad bout the mention of ramzi.

    bout puyols fitness,in case of that i can say masch can fill the void if paired with an experienced cb ala pique nd abi.

    And a barca quality cb for long term ala t silva or sakho is very expensive.and pep i think is not thinking of a stop gap solution.

    despite all the injuries last season at the back we were seriously threatened vs shakthar.thats the benefit of our possesion game i think.

    on the other hand in the 2nd half of last season all we were doing was circulating the ball and hoping messi will do something.which he did cause villa and p were totally lost.

    now we add alex,it will take time for him to hoping pep will be looking for another forward,but heard his comments,he wants the spineless assist machine.

  19. hammeronmessi
    August 2, 2011

    the aforementioned comment was intended to reply jnice.

    oh i think bout the cb pairings. puyi piqie,puyi abi,puyi fon,pique abi,abi fon are all good.u can place masche instead of puyi in the pairings although not as relaible as a puyi pairing but a masch pairing will give pace,intensity and crunching tackle.

    i will be seriosuly worried if i evr saw a pique fon pairing against a decent side

  20. Eklavya
    August 2, 2011

    Calvin? Can I be Hobbes then? 😛 Good review, props to you and the beerman!

  21. Josep
    August 2, 2011

    where’s vicsoc at? I need some backing with my notion that Jan Vertonghen would be one hell of a CB in our squad. *tap*
    I wish we secretly were dealing for Sakho, but it seems impossible to pry him out with the Qatari billions now. If only we had moved sooner.

    As far as JDS essentially being the next VicSan? I don’t see it. He’s played a lot on the right..area… and that’s when Montoya got hurt and we had no other viable option in a right footed player who can get forward and back mediocrely.

    No, don’t promote Montoya. If that’s the case he’ll just sit on the bench. for weeks. Adriano will start at LB, if something happens in game to alves, adriano moves over and Maxwell in. It’s important he’s playing first team football and the Segunda isn’t a bad competition.

    Jnice was asking around on twitter about Barca B’s staring lineup. I don’t know about you guys, but Barca B look set for an even more exciting season this year, they just need one more striker.

    And I agree Barca need another forward line player and was sad we didn’t have a go at Piatti. And Pep mentioned if we lack depth we may look to “the B team or the Juvenil team” uhm..was that directly at Gerard?

    oh, jneezy, you called pique left footed earlier on accident.

    • Calvin
      August 2, 2011

      I should have been more clear. I am (the new and improved) vicsoc. I’ve been carrying that handle around since high school (8 years now) and I really needed a change. It just didn’t fit anymore.

      As for Jan Vertonghen… He is a hell of a player and will be a great center back for someone. I just don’t think he fits the bill of what is needed for Barcelona. He isn’t exactly fast and in my mind fits more in the mold of a Pique, Fontas type player. Great player who I’ve wanted to sign in the past, but I don’t think he fits the teams needs that well anymore.

      There are a lot of defenders maturing through the youth ranks at the moment. Let’s hope one or two of them come good. After reading people’s thoughts and thinking about it I’m more worried about the forward line. We don’t have a lot of good options there in the youth teams, and we could really use one more player who brings something different that we don’t have.

      I still think Forlan would be a good buy if you could get him to agree that he was a bench player/supersub and this was his last chance to win trophies, so take a pay cut and enjoy the ride.

      • Josep
        August 2, 2011

        With Kun gone and somehow Forlan falling back in with management, on top of his price going up after the Copa America, I don’t think that’s a viable option.

  22. outerspacedout
    August 2, 2011

    Why is everyone else so worried? I’m super optimistic for next season! It’s the same squad that was brilliant last October to January, with more experience and chemistry playing together. Afellay and Adriano now get trusted by Pep enough to play a regular role from the off, Villa should be adapting better like our forwards do in their second seasons.

    Sanchez provides an alternative that can actually slot into the first team regularly and give Villa or Pedro some rest, unlike Bojan or Jeffren so even though we are fewer in numbers we’re more likely to be better rested since Sanchez is more likely to start much more regularly than Bojan and Jeffren combined did last season.

    And we’re unlikely to be as utterly unlucky in defense as we were last season. Plus, we’ll have Thiago and Fontas as squad members too.

    And this all to the squad that won the UCL and La Liga, and were Copa finalists, last season. HOW CAN YOU GUYS NOT BE OPTIMISTIC?!

    • August 2, 2011

      THIS x100!!!

      I really dont get some of the pessimism around here. We have a phenomenal team, one that has just been improved greatly with the additon of Sanchez and with players like Thiago and Fontas starting to show their true worth I am not sure how anyone can be worried.

      I also dont see what all the fuss is with the CB position. Fine, Busquetz isnt exceptional there but Mascherano is. Not only that but it means he will likely play more games, which means a happier player. We have Abidal, Puyol, Mascherano, Pique and Fontas for the CB position. That is 5 players to fill 2 positions. Why are ppl so worried about this? Mascherano played our most crucial games last season and did exceptionally well. I am more comfortable having him at CB than buying some guy who may or may not fit in.

      Up front we have Messi, Sanchez, Pedro, Villa and Affelay. That is 5 players for 3 positions. I would feel comfortable with any of those players starting a big game.

      In the middle we have Xavi, Iniesta, Keita, Thiago, Busi/Masch and possibly Cesc. That is 6-7 players for 3 positions.

      We may not have the ridiculous depth that teams like Man City and Madrid have but what use are those players when most of the time they dont play? They end up unhappy, unfit and just basically a waste of money.

      I dont think we need anymore players. Even Cesc is pushing it a bit, but I can see why Pep wants him so badly, it basically sets Barca up for the next 6-8 years with Cesc, Thiago, Messi and Sanchez being the driving forces in the team.

      We have the potential to be even better this season and I for one am extremely excited.

      • Jnice
        August 2, 2011

        It’s not pessimism. It’s taking a deep look at things and seeing what can be improved. I don’t get why that’s a bad thing.

        And we’re unlikely to be as utterly unlucky in defense as we were last season. Plus, we’ll have Thiago and Fontas as squad members too.

        Sure, but I could easily say we are unlikely to be as lucky in offense as we were last season. No major injuries. Thiago and Fontas were essentially squad members last season. Especially Thiago.

        I get that we won Champions League, La Liga, and were Copa finalists. Wonderful. But next season is a different season. Different schedule, different challenges. You can’t go into it thinking “Oh, we won last year, we should be fine this year.” That’s the type of mentality that contributed to our downfall after 2006.

        Asking questions about the team and looking at areas we can improve in is normal IMO, not pessimistic.

        • justsayin
          August 2, 2011

          I think people sound pessimistic because they love their team and they’re just worried. Personally, I think we look very good. My only concern is that I think Xavi and Puyol are on their last legs and we cannot depend on them as central players to win games. They are older and they have chronic injuries that are going to either keep them out or at the very least, slow them down from now on. So, we’re going to have to depend on Fontas and Thiago to take over those spots this year.

          I’m very curious to see Sanchez play with Messi because if they are a good fit, I have a sneaky suspicion that is going to psychologically work against Villa.

    • Xingxian
      August 2, 2011

      Because as KXevin wrote:

      “We were all supposed to die.

      Women, children, squirrels and every barnyard critter in creation were all supposed to perish.

      “I don’t have a good feeling about this,” said Guardiola, who has identified himself as a right proper cule with those words.

      But the Shakhtar players knew, because they aren’t cules.

      They’re big, strong and fast, with lightning-quick Brazilians on the wings, and an excellent midfielder in Dario Srna. We are all going to die.

      Fear and trepidation stalked the land.

      But a brave naysayer named Jim threw down a simple challenge: Name one Shakhtar player who you’d prefer over one of our starters.

      Yet that didn’t dissuade the querrulous cules.

      “It’s not the individuals, but a team. It’s like that Drago dude in the “Rocky” movies, only there are 20 of them. They divide like Transformers. We’re all going to die.”

      And then the ball was dropped. And in less than 2 minutes one of the most wee of the Mighty Mites struck a blow for Lilliput. And that was that. 5-1. It wasn’t even close. Those foolish Champions League announcers, who clearly aren’t cules, had the temerity to suggest that we were going to beat Shakhtar like a rented mule because …. well …. we’re the best team on the planet right now.

      “T’ain’t so,” saith the Quaking Cule. “It’s only one goal. We’re still going to die. Just wait.”

      Then 1 became 2 became 3 became 4 became 5 and that was that.”

      TLDR it’s part of the Barca identity

  23. justsayin
    August 2, 2011

    I was there as well and it was hot as hell! Regardless, I couldn’t disagree with you more when you say that Busquets had a bad game which is symptomatic of lack of pace in the back. One word answer to that – FRIENDLY. No A team player worth his weight in salt is going to go all out in a pre-season friendly, on a hotter than Hades day, on bumpy just layed down sod so he can get hurt and be out during the season. Let the kids round around, like Dos Santos, as they have something to prove. But, Busquets is not going to risk getting hurt by going all out to try to save every possible goal. Our few A team players use these games as training sessions, to jog around the field a bit, to sharpen their passes, to get in shape, that’s it. If I saw any of them playing all out (as Nani did) I would be disappointed that they are not playing smartly. Plus, I’m sure Pep cautions them not to be risky.
    I had a great time as well, it was a wonderful atmosphere with equal Man U and Barca fans, they played a game that meant nothing to either team (no matter what the english papers say) and it was fun to watch.

  24. hammeronmessi
    August 2, 2011

    @Outer and hilal,

    we r in my opinion extremely lucky that ee lost points when they r supposed to win,messi wasnt injured and being messi.

    and agreed with jnice bout questioing teams squad,transfer target.its not helps us to stay ahead of others

  25. hammeronmessi
    August 2, 2011


    we have the potential to be better.thats true and like u i m also excited bout the upcoming season

  26. outerspacedout
    August 2, 2011

    Yeah I personally would be fully comfortable with one more defender and one more bench-but-quality forward, hopefully a tall skillful guy who won’t mind lack of playing time. My point merely is there is also plenty of reason for optimism, guys! Not accusing people of pessimism- a word I didn’t even use, I said why are people so worried when in all counts we are stronger than last season, and last season was the team that had the capability to play that unbelievable football of October to January in the season.

    Between the backup buys of last season (Adriano, Afellay, Masch in central defense) being bedded in enough to be trusted to play regularly unlike most of last season plus having reliable backup (Sanchez/Pedro much more reliable to sub in than Jeffren/Bojan combined), we’re in a good position to keep up our when-not-tired brilliance. So while I would still like more strengthening I’m still extremely optimistic even as it is.

    Ps. Diego, when you’re dealing with crappy internet just Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C before sending off any e-mails or posting anything. That way you don’t lose everything you wrote if the net gets dodgy, you just go back and paste everything and you’ve got all you wrote. Something I picked up from trying to send e-mails while the internet used to be awful. Saves loads of effort from waste.

    • outerspacedout
      August 2, 2011

      In short, right now I am still optimistic overall. I think we are still comfortably better than Madrid, and that (unless some disaster like a Messi or Iniesta injury happens) we can be so throughout the season as we now have the backup players to stay fresh enough to be that brilliant throughout the season.

      But in light of playing it safe in the forward positions plus Puyol’s injury/age and subsequent issues of pace in the backline, there are still some issues to be addressed to become perfect. If we get a fast defender and a tall experienced forward, I will be WOWZAWESOME, but even as of now I am very optimistic.

    • Diego
      August 2, 2011

      LOL ! The same thing happened when I was replying to you.

      I was saying that I usually do that but I trust my Internetz (not anymore). Happy Ramadan, Why aren’t you using Twitter anymore ?

  27. barca96
    August 2, 2011


    A few posts back I was talking about a hit or miss player.
    The player I was talking about is Deulofeu.
    I just think that he has a high chance to turn into a Quaresma type of player. Most of the times he makes the wrong decisions. Too much in and out until it kills off the momentum.

    I don’t know. He has to learn to link up and be more of a team player. Oh and the worst part is that he doesn’t pressure at all. Lazy as hell.

  28. Dani_el
    August 2, 2011

    “@sidlowe Sid Lowe
    RT “@castrolfootball: Only Fabregas (60) has provided more assists than Dani Alves (59) in Europe’s top 5 leagues since 06/07″”

    Something to think about.
    I guess that if Pep wants Cesc, he has more than enough reasons. He may intend to use him as an old 4 defensive midfielder, to give rest to Busquets, I guess that as of a couple of months, we can count also on Mascherano as a sub center defender, I’m guessing that if Puyol doesnt comeback for the supercopa, our defense will be composed of Abidal, Pique, Masche, Adriano, not bad at all for me.

    Here it tells of a new bid for Cesc. If he comes it would be great that the signing happens soon.

  29. Olufestus
    August 2, 2011

    Can someone just reason with me on signing chelsea’s ALEX,bar-barca 96 though, i tell you,i watch a lotta chelsea’s match in epl,and damn!dude is a crack! Tall,agile,strong in the air,good @ set pieces,with rockets packed in his boots,also plays regularly in the champions league with enough experience with psv and chelsea that even SAKHO,VERTONGHEN LACKS SO MUCH…and barca 96,give me three solid reasons why u said no to ALEX,sorry for the long post

    • Josep
      August 2, 2011

      surely having rockets packed in your boots is an act of terrorism!

  30. ciaran
    August 2, 2011

    I think that Pep must see Mascherano as a central defender for next season. If he doesn’t our backline is
    Pique, Puyol (33 & injury prone), Fontas (21 & inexperienced) & Milito (who doesn’t even count) with Abidal being preferred at left back.
    Masch gives us a lot of options in defense and I can’t see us signing someone. As I said previously, there are very little defenders capable of working in our system and if they do fit the mould then they probably cost a fortune.

    Am I the only one looking forward to us signing a decent back up goalkeeper? Pinto gives me jitters when he plays.

  31. blitzen
    August 2, 2011

    So Spain has won both the U21 and U19 Euros, and the U20 team looked pretty convincing in their first game at their WC. That is pretty amazing! With such a huge talent pool I can understand why Rafinha might be considering playing for Brazil.

    Anyone else been watching the U20 WC? I actually have been able to catch some of the games on my parents’ TV, with Spanish commentary. I’m underwhelmed so far. ARG/ENG was a huge disappointment. The Argentina team was terrible! England wasn’t half bad but failed to finish any of their chances. I hope things get more exciting, as it is about the only football I can watch at the moment.

    • Eklavya
      August 2, 2011

      Well i was stuck at home and i was watching TV looking for footy desperately and the only thing available was EE 6-2 Sevilla. EGAWD CAN YOU IMAGINE ZE TORTURE?!? I turned the TV off after TB scored his fourth goal.

  32. Calvin
    August 2, 2011

    Reports from barcastuff say that Keirrison will spend the rest of the summer trying to prove himself on the B team. Let’s hope he proves himself and has a good season on the B team. I’ve pretty much given up hope on his future, but I wouldn’t mind being wrong on this one

  33. ciaran
    August 2, 2011

    Valdes – Obvious first choice and has been almost untouchable for a number of seasons
    Pinto – Dodgy keeper but has a great influence on the squad

    Right backs:
    Alves – Again, obvious first choice and misses very little games
    Montoya – has been excellent for the u-21s and should develop into a great first teamer

    Pique – World class centreback but isn’t the quickest
    Puyol – Played very little football this season and hasn’t played yet this summer, the club captain may play very little next season
    Fontas – very composed young central defender with bags of potential but could do with an extra few steps of pace
    Mascherano – A natural defensive midfielder but is a terrier in defense

    Left backs:
    Abidal – had another phenomenal season last year and I expect the same form to continue
    Adriano – got into the groove well in the second half of last year and benched Maxwell for most of it
    Maxwell – I thought that he would have moved on this summer but Pep clearly sees a use for him

    Defensive midfielders:
    Busquets – undoubted first choice at DM due to his ball playing skills but I, for one, don’t want to see him at CB
    Keita – He has played the role of DM so far this preseason and if we end up signing Cesc he may have limited opportunities in the more attacking roles

    Central midfielders:
    Xavi – Another who always starts when available but has had some niggling injuries over the past 6-12 months so may not be able to play as much
    Iniesta – another who should start when fit but can fill in on the wings when Pep wants to experiment
    Thiago – Has had an amazing summer but Pep certainly won’t start with him often as he has in the preseason. I expect big things though
    Cesc – Everyone at this stage expects this to happen. Would make a good addition, especially as Xavi plays less and less

    Wing forwards:
    Pedro – Has great work rate and is a quality finisher so should keep his starting place, at least in the early part if the season
    Afellay – Will miss the start of the season but should get a few games as Pep likes his versatility
    Villa – His fitness levels will be better than last season as he ran out of steam in the second hald of the season but is deadly when on form

    Messi – Messi
    Sanchez – the big summer signing should fit in within a few weeks and has me excited like a kid Christmas morning

    • mom4
      August 2, 2011

      OMYGOSH we both had the same idea. LOL, great minds think alike!

  34. mom4
    August 2, 2011

    Reasons for optimism, aka mom4’s Barca permutations

    If we get the prodigal one, we have the following options (please note that I’m mostly against signing Cesc, but Xavi’s early injury is making me rethink some things and I have to admit he gives us tons more options):

    Keepers: VV, Pinto
    RB: Dani, Adriano, Puyi, Maxwell in a pinch(he played there once in the 09/10 season)
    CB: Puyi, Pique, Abi, Masche (I have no reservations about these 4), Fontas (few reservations), Busi (serious reservations but it’s good to know he can)
    LB: Abi, Adriano, Maxwell, Fontas or Puyi in a pinch
    ERSoF(entire right side of the field): Dani(only person in the world who could play this position)
    DM: Busi, Masche, Keita if desparate, Cesc(could probably hack it there)
    AM/CM: Xavi, Ini, Thiago, Cesc, Keita, 3M, Messi(extremely capable, only problem being that if he plays there, it takes him farther from where he’s most effective)
    Forward: Messi, Villa, Pedro, Alexis, 3M, + trying Thiago or Cesc as a forward would be interesting, Iniesta(obviously not optimal)
    classic #9: um…um…um…Pique would love to try? OK, I got nothing.

    Plus we have the B team.

    No, versatility is not depth, but we do look pretty awesome(on paper). I’m wondering if not signing another CB is our way of making sure Mascherano gets the playing time he deserves.

    • Dani_el
      August 2, 2011

      I agree! I’m guessing that Pep can convince almost any player of his ideas, I think he may teach Cesc how to be a DM, and reconvert Mascherano as CB, he’s fast and has strong tackles, as Puyi, and let’s not forget he underwent a surgical prodecure to be in better physical condition, I think that as he recuperates, he may play some of the most important games. Let’s hope Sanchez and Cesc (if he comes) can learn fast from Pep. In Pep4 we trust.

    • Diego
      August 2, 2011

      Pique would do great in #9 position.

    • ciaran
      August 2, 2011

      Nah, you’ve to remember that no one mentioned DNA or anything so it’s like totally different.
      Oh, and it’s an english club poaching a player from a different league, not the opposite.

  35. Diego
    August 2, 2011

    I don’t know why everyone is bothering themselves about the “poaching” “tapping up” and such stuff.

    We don’t have to say “Look, ARS and ManU are doing the same”.

  36. Diego
    August 2, 2011

    Pep views Afellay as the 5th FW and Masch as the 5th CB, that’s why he doesn’t consider signing anymore players.

    @Hilal @outerspacedout

    I’m just worried about the fatigue, Villa looked amazing against ManU, Hungry and pressuring, because he took a break, All players can fill in the spots week in week out, but when you’re exhausted, You’re there but not really there.

  37. K_legit
    August 2, 2011

    Xavi, Iniesta and Cesc in the same club team? Damn that’s an obscene amount of talent right there!!

    • Jim
      August 2, 2011

      Yeah, the only worry for me is that we continue to undervalue what Iniesta brings and he ends up on a wing just to make sure all three play. I think that to try to recast Cesc as a DM ( were he to come ) would be to waste a lot of his offensive talents which are probably the best of the three mentioned.

      Just while I’m posting, is there anyone else despairing of Wenger? His one hope of keeping Cesc ( and maybe Nasri ) imo was to bring in one or two top players early in the transfer window and say to both “Look let’s have one more real shot at this”. Cesc must be torn as leaving arsenal now more or less consigns his time there as a failure and how Arsenal can turn down £20 m for Nasri when they know his contract runs out next year is beyond belief.

      I say this with some regret as they are still, despite everything, one of the few EPL teams I’d watch on the TV – maybe Liverpool this season as well – and things seem to be disintegrating at the club.

  38. Dani_el
    August 2, 2011

    Olympique de Marseille 7 – 2 Manchester Utd

    Believe it or not it’s happening.

    (It’s a friendly for a worthy cause I’m sure, but Sir Alex is still on the bench, and it’s still ManU.)

  39. August 2, 2011

    New post is up. Uh, there’s really nothing to see there, so you can continue discussing relevant things here.

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