Preseason Friendly I: HSV Match Comments Post

I hate the summer. I have to apply nasty SPF 70 sunscreen constantly to protect my pearly white skin, I sweat within 3 seconds of going outside, and there is no Barcelona to watch.

It may just be a preseason friendly, but it’s our first chance to gauge both Vilanova’s intentions and the readiness of some of our young players. Leave your thoughts below!


Starting XI: Pinto, Alves, Mascherano, Bartra, Adriano, Jonathan, Espinosa, Sergi, Afellay, Alexis, Deulofeu


The match started approximately 1 minute ago.


  1. I have to say it. I’m still not feeling Deulofeu. His tricks just won’t work at the senior level. Three times now that he’s lost the ball in the area.

    Just sayin’.

    1. I’ve been thinking the same thing, but he’s young and the older guys will put him in his place. But so far I’ve been thinking, dude, that’s not gonna fly here.

      BTW, what an awful goal to give up.

    2. Check out the stats of how many times Messi loses the ball. OK, so Deulofeu will never be Messi, but if we want to integrate flair/attacking players we have to recognize they’ll concede possession.

      I can’t watch the game, so hopefully our young players are doing ok!

    3. Ryan, I don’t think we’re against him taking on defenders. It’s just that the constant step-overs are getting annoying and are, in this game at least, ineffective.

    4. I’m not a fan of step-overs either, so hopefully he works them out of his game but keeps some of his dynamism. Does anyone above the U19 level really fall for those? 😛

  2. Masche has this tendency to go towards ball even when other CB is covering it leaving the striker free. that is DM behavior and not CB behavior. Got to improve on that count. Def sucks today but could be a good way to gauge bartra

  3. I like Bartra so far. Mascherano looks a little weak. The midfield is struggling to control the tempo, which is understandable.

    1. Yeah, the midfield is getting completely bypassed.

      Alexis is looking good.

      See, Gerard? One touch is all it takes.

    2. Ok, Hamburg defense is bad too 😀

      What position is Espinosa playing? Attacking midfielder or false 9 or interchanging with other attackers?

    3. Attacking midfielder, I’d say. He’s made a couple of good passes, but his occasional runs at the defense haven’t been too convincing.

      The game is much too frantic to get a real sense of his playmaking skills.

  4. Nice follow-up by Deulofeu, who runs off to celebrate, then turns back to celebrate with team. Goal celebration lesson learned from the U-19s. Good boy!

  5. Off Topic: breaking news: Our President Prof Atta Mills has died…Ghana….I’m sad

  6. Deulofeu is so….chunky.

    Anyway, that was a nice goal. Really good run from Ibi too.

    I’m so happy to see the boys playing again. Different set of boys but it’s Barca 😀

    1. lol i thought it was just me that noticed his chunkyness, it’s cute. It seems like he has a chip on his shoulder though, he doesn’t look happy most of the times and seems to get annoyed pretty easily. I hate to say it but, he seems a little cocky.

  7. That was a decent half. Dani looks good! He’s been perfecting his long distance shots 😀 No more Row Z! JDS and Sergi Roberto have to do better job controlling the tempo. Hamburg had 46% possession in the first half! Unacceptable.

    I’m not sure what to make of Affelay. He had flashes of good movements and control. Player of the half for me is Bartra. Can’t watch the second half 🙁

  8. Solid first half from the team especially given how many B team players are being deployed, particularly in midfield.

    Afellay is playing more as a 10 than a false 9 but he’s doing a very nice job centrally with Espinosa behind him in the CM spot.

    Afellay is creating penetration and his distribution in the final third is creating chances.

    The second goal was great. Wonderful effort from Dani to dispossess the ball and play it to Afellay. Strong run and shot from Ibi. Deulofeu did a nice job going to goal (which we often don’t do). His finish was strong – acute angle with his left foot. That was not as easy as it looked given that there was a defender positioned there.

    On the concession – the defense wasn’t good at the back. But the big problem was that we lost the ball in the center of the pitch and deep while both FB were breaking relatively high up the pitch. Not sure who lost the ball as I couldn’t exactly tell from my stream but think it was JDS?

    Alves got back to help on the play but we were left 3 v 3 in the box. Adriano never got back and neither did JDS.

    This is part of the risk playing 2 attacking FBs especially with 1 holding midfielder.

    This concerns me as at baseline we need much faster transitions in the build up. That means more channels and faster ball movement.

    2 FBs high up the pitch means fewer potential channels and it’s likely going to make the team even more cautious in losing the ball when building out from the back.

    This is a very important issue Tito is going to need to address. And it’s one that will hold tactically even with all of the 1st team players back. It’s a systems issue that will result form Abidal being replaced by Alba.

    1. Not sure who lost the ball as I couldn’t exactly tell from my stream but think it was JDS?

      I’m pretty sure it was Afellay. But JDS was happy being a bystander on that play.

  9. The first tests have shown Muniesa has torn his right knee ligaments. He could be out for the whole season. [radiomarca catalunyaradio]

    1. He has strong character, coming back three times already but repeated heart break can weigh.

    2. It also affects his price. Clubs don’t like to outlay a lot of dosh on a fragile player. Unless he comes back strong, this could affect his big league club chances.

  10. Hate to open this can of worms, but I cannot believe that absolute travesty of a home kit for Barca. It will make my blood boil more when i see it on the first team.
    What i cannot get is, inspite of this embarrassment to design having leaked so early and the general reaction being so negative, how Nike and the board persisted with it and thought it befitted the start of a new Era for the worlds best team.

    1. They’ve definitely grown on me. Last year’s never did no matter how many times I saw them.

    2. Same here, Jordi! I am surprised by myself too… thought I would hate it eternally.

    3. I think that they’re too dark and too blue – blue in the sense that even the red is too blue. They’re not really proper blaugrana tones. The main plus is that the yellow text stands out on the back of the shirt.

      Have been seeing a lot of kit walking around on tourists in Barcelona – even some of the away kits on young kids which make them look as if they’ve just come off the beach…

      Certainly the kits have been designed more as fan shirts this season, with less consideration given to what they look like as a player’s shirt.

      Really cool to see a VV kit on a young kid the other day – he must be the GK in his team!

  11. Alves MOTM for me. Poor Muniesa, kid can’t catch a break.

    Afellay looks like he’s ready, besides his cough up in midfield he had a great match. As did Gerard, a bit selfish on a few plays but otherwise good showing.

    Rafinha is the truth.

    1. The buy-Javi-Martinez brigade will not approve. LOL

      I’m not into the whole buy another DM and transform him into CB thing. Might as well trust the promoted B teamers like Bartra.

      I think we should buy a CB but who’s out there thats available and is for a reasonable amount?

  12. Really terrible news on Muniesa. HIs history of injuries is just difficult to get over. He’s never healthy and has lost so much time in development. His pace at baseline isn’t great and these injuries to his knees aren’t going to help that.

    Muniesa was likely going to AJAX but this still heightens the teams limited depth in the central axis of the defense.

    Versatility can help create depth and allow for a smaller squad. But we’ve pushed it to far. Functionally we have 2 CBs we can count on for this season – and one of them is also the back up DM.

    Puyol is a warrior but he’s been recurrently injured and it only a year older. He can’t be counted on to provide extensive cover. He should be saved for big matches and when we want to play 3 at the back.

    Fontas is coming back soon but he hasn’t played in months and months. He’ll be very rusty. And as it is -it’s still very unclear if he even has the quality to play on the 1st team. My impression right now is probably not, particularly given how little pace he has. Playing he and Pique together on a high line isn’t tenable IMO.

    Bartra – talented but very raw. Don’t think it’s a great idea to force him into a significant role.

    At this point none of the players starting on the B team are remotely close to being ready to play for the first team. The likes of Sergi Gomez and Edgar shouldn’t be counted on to make up for issues that arise on the first team.

    The club needs an addition. I personally feel they need two players along the central defensive axis but that won’t happen.

    FCB is in a difficult spot. The players we’re interested in are on clubs that don’t need to sell. Given the clear needs – this will be expensive.

  13. Everyone over on twitter is panicking, but there is no real reason to. The likelihood is that Muniesa was leaving anyway, to Ajax or somewhere else. I never expected him to be part of the first team this season. We currently have 5 central defenders:

    Puyol – Very close to being given the green light, certainly in time for the start of the regular season. No, he won’t be able to play every game anymore, but he’s not a doddering old man, either.

    Mascherano – In spectacular form, fit & healthy.

    Pique – Healthy, and his form was much improved by the end of last season and at the Euros. Hopefully he is over whatever was distracting him last year.

    Bartra – Yes, he is young, but he has consistently impressed his coaches over the years. He knows the system, he is fit, good on the ball, and he must be given his chance to prove what he is made of.

    Fontas – Also very close to being declared fit. Has been training with the group. He hasn’t played for a long time, so he is a big question mark, but he looks lean and hungry and eager to get back into the game. I don’t think we should prejudge him on the few minutes he got 2 seasons ago.

    So basically we are in the exact same position we were in before Muniesa’s injury. Unless you were all thinking that both he and Bartra would be staying. Unlikely. Now if we are going to buy anyone, as Tito says, it should ideally be someone who can play both DM and CB. Everyone is hot for Javi Martinez, but I just don’t see the club putting up that kind of money. Especially with the continuing fiscal crisis in Spain. It would be irresponsible. Either Athletic drops their price or the club looks for a cheaper option. I suggested buying Oriol Romeu back, but that would only happen if Chelsea wants to sell.

    There is still well over a month left in the transfer window. Ample time to give Bartra & Fontas a decent test-run and see if they are good enough. As for DM, we have other players who can fill that spot besides Busquets & Mascherano. JDS, Thiago, Fontas and even Xavi can fill in if necessary.

    All I’m saying is, we have time to figure this out. No need to throw a huge wad of cash at the nearest available “solution”.

  14. Huge fallout happening in Hamburg over this match.

    Messi was contracted to play but because he didn’t, the club now has to refund Hamburg 400k of the Eur 1million+ that they got for the friendly.

    Hamburg fans bitterly disappointed that the B team played most of the match, and that there was no chance for any autographs from Barca players, as is the norm at pre-season friendlies. The team got straight on the bus after the match and drove for the airport.

    General feeling is that this is the behaviour of an “arrogant team”.

    No love won in Hamburg tonight.

    1. They made 7 changes at half time and put in a 17 year old so we weren’t the only ones to make subs.

    2. I understand their disappointment but really, what could the club do? The Germans had to know that none of the Spanish internationals who played in the Euro would play. They had to know that there was a risk of Puyi and Villa not being fit enough yet. They had to know that Cuenca and Thiago were injured. They had to know that we would have players at the Olympics. So really, the only draw was Messi. It’s not his fault nor the club’s that he got injured and they had to know, just like we did when we were getting ready to go Barcelona and were checking barcastuff with OCD-like frequency praying each time that our favorites would stay unhurt, that there is always a chance that the star player might be out due to injury. Who else other than the B team were left? And what coach worth his salt would let the few first teamers he had play more than a half for the first game of the season after a measly week of training?

      Furthermore, we had a player with a crocked knee so it behooved us to not hang around and be social.

      Maybe it could have been handled a little better but it reminds me of the guy at the friendly in US I attended (v Man U in DC) that held up a sign saying “my kid payed to see Messi” when everybody who knew anything knew that the South Americans who had played in the copa would not be there.

    3. Exactly. Everything I said on twitter (you lurking on me, girl?). Of course they are disappointed that Messi couldn’t be there, but they definitely knew about the other absences in advance. If they weren’t cool with that they shouldn’t have signed up for it.

      I am sorry to hear that the players didn’t stick around for autographs. That’s not nice to hear. I have to assume it was a flight scheduling issue, or maybe they thought no one would care since Messi wasn’t there. I hardly think you could accuse a mostly B team of being arrogant.

      Anyway, that’s football. You get what you get. Sorry, Hamburglars.

    4. Know I’m not lurking you, girl. You know great minds think alike. I also agree about your Muniesa comments above. Why panic over someone your were never going to keep (feel terrible for the guy but he would never have even been a back-up plan for the first team). Scary thing this agreeing with you business 🙂 .

      No, as I said, I remember that fan protesting with that sign at the friendly I attended. I might be more likely to be forgiving of an American’s ignorance (Yeah, I can go there because I am one, folks. Mention FC Barcelona to an American and 95% of the time you get a vacant stare.) but these are Europeans and they know their soccer. The game I saw in DC was mostly B team, too. Not only were Messi, Alves, Sanchez, and Masche gone but Puyi, Xavi (you know that hurt), and Pique were hurt. Ibi limped off after a few minutes. A little A team for the first half and then all B (including some skinny kid named Cuenca that nobody had ever heard of). Them’s the breaks—it was still Barca!

    5. But I wouldn’t be opposed to us signing one of those 40-50 DM/CB combos that Tito is convinced abound in the footy world. The sooner we get one the better the for preseason integration.

    6. I was at that game too. Some idiot near me was happy, HAPPY, that Ibi got injured! And he called himself a Barcelona fan. Said he preferred someone else playing in that position, ugh.

      The Thiago goal was nice, but returning home on a loss wasn’t fun, even if we had just won the CL vs. United just a little while ago. I had also been to the US-Spain game during that time, and there we both missed some of the Spain stars AND the US ones! (Not much of a competition considering the difference in squad depths…) I did get to go to the Super Copa win vs. EE in Barcelona later though, that was fun. 😀

      I’m not sure how people can be demanding for a friendly. Folks are either coming back from vacation, on vacation, or injured. Frankly I was happy to see some of our guys either play some minutes or even be on the bench. Expecting Messi to risk injury is pretty silly.

  15. Conversation with my madrileño friend:

    Friend: I hate our new kit.

    Me: …? How bad can it be? It’s white. Adidas stripes in…?

    Friend: In dark blue. But there’s a turquoise stripe on the neckband! (Pulls it up on google for me to see)

    Me: Mmm, that’s different, I guess. Now google our kit. (He does)

    Friend: Woah, gradient. But, it’s kinda pretty. Fuzzy, but pretty.

    Me: Now find our away kit.

    Friend: Oh.My.God.

    Me: And Valdés looks like a lemon-lime popsicle.

    Friend: Jaja. Iker’s decided to be a carrot this year.

  16. New kits look better than I thought they would. I like them more than last years. I won’t like the away no matter what, though.

    As for the game- decent showing, a few impressive performances out there.

    Feel bad for Muniesa. He’s strong & he’s already made several comebacks, but it has to still be extremely tough on him. I also wonder whether he’ll ever trust his knee again to the point that it might affect his game in the future (making tackles, lunges, etc).

    Still need a CB or CB/DM. My vote is still for Capoue.

  17. On a side note, when did we start advertising for Herbalife on the sleeve of our kits? I never heard anything about this.

    1. This tour is officially called “The Herbalife FC Barcelona Preseason Tour” – not that you’d know it, because it isn’t called that anywhere in FCB’s articles. Last season’s was known as The Turkish Airlines Tour, but Herbalife also sponsored the over-all tournament.

      Herbalife has been an FCB sponsor since 2010 and is one of Messi’s personal sponsors.

      They’re pushing Barcelona big-time at the moment because they’re returning in September for the 6th consecutive “Herbalife Extravaganza” – their annual conference.

      They’re also involved in The 2012 World Football Challenge which last year included FCB, but doesn’t this year because they’re not travelling to the US.

    2. During the official season, the LFP logo will replace the Herbalife logo on the sleeve.

  18. Its obvious Muniesa was not going to feature much in the first team this season, but his injury can set him back a whole year. He has a lot of talent but he lacks experience and this injury could possibly end his chances of making the first team in future.

  19. Does anybody Have an update on the new television deal with Bein sports? Which providers will have it? Will we be able to stream the games off the Internet? The season starts in less than a month and I’m starting to get nervous. How can Barca and Madrid let this happen when the game is finally starting to catch on in the states? They need to make it more available. The world needs to see Messi in his prime!

    1. Exactly, the club shouldn’t be blamed for anything we technically did nothing wrong. Our club isn’t perfect and we cannot impress everyone all the time that is life.

      Whats more important is getting our squad back up and running, We have a long list of injured and absent players and getting them fit and ready by season start is priority.

    2. I wonder if you would feel this way if you had handed over 1.2 million euros as well!

    3. I think the point is that we understand their disappointment, yet HSV knew excacly what they were getting for the 1.2M; Messi, a couple of available first teamers some of whom are fringe, and the B team because there was nobody else available. They got their 400K back for Messi. No club decides one morning, “hey, let’s screw over a city, disappoint all the fans, ruin a chance of establishing a fan base in Germany, make Leo sad, and lose 400K.” You’re talking almost half a million Euro for one man to show up and kick the ball a couple of times. It was done because it had to be done and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

      The autograph thing may be another thing entirely. Was that expected? Was it contractual? I don’t remember the athletes sticking around for autographs after the friendly I was at. Personally, I find the autograph thing a little impractical anyway. Mobs of people pushing pens at stars and only a handful are going to be lucky enough to actually get a signature because there’s only so much daylight. Plus, I would hope that getting Muni settled, comfortable, and on his way would have been the priority rather than hanging out and being sociable.

      It was a bad situation for everybody.

    4. This is a reply to a lot of the above comments who are supporting the club’s actions in Hamburg last night.

      The game was announced on May 29th – on the same day as Cuenca’s knee operation was announced, and before the seriousness of Thiago’s injury was revealed.

      Puyol’s injury and operation occurred during the process of the game being organised.

      They couldn’t have known that the Spanish Internationals wouldn’t play, because that was dependent on the Euro result – but there was a chance that they wouldn’t be there.

      Instead, since the Euros, most of Barca’s Spanish Internationals have been off on trips around the world doing official business for FCB (Cesc to Jakarta, Pique to China, VV to Brazil and Iniesta doing stuff locally) which has delayed their return. Only Xavi and Busquets have been fully rested since the Euros – and Xavi only because his US clinic was cancelled and Busquets because he didn’t go to the Olympics.

      Keep in mind that Cesc’s Jakarta trip was to smooth over some ruffled Indonesian feathers after Barca pulled out of their pre-season plans to be there at this time. Pique to China is also to shore up the Chinese support for the team and possibly be a forerunner for next season, and VV to Brazil was most likely something to do with the Rosell/Nike/Neymar connection. All marketing, political and business-oriented, and delaying the return of the players for the preseason.

      If most of the Spanish players had been allowed to go on holiday straight after the Euros, they would have been back in time for the preseason. The club has delayed their return by making them perform other obligations.

      If Messi had played last night, then that would have gone a long way to making the night more of a success, for the attending fans. The fact that Messi was injured is bad luck, and has cost FCB Eur400,000 in revenue. However, if more known faces had been on the pitch, Messi’s non-appearance may have been more bearable. Now it appears as if Messidependencia is also overflowing into the club’s marketing and business side, as well as on the pitch.

      Bottom line – if Barca commits to pre-season games from which they are making money, they have an obligation to front up with a damn good team. If they can’t, then they shouldn’t go.

      Hamburg is now in the process of offering refunds on tickets because of the disappointment around the game. This is a club that is in financial trouble, which was banking on last night’s game to be a major drawcard and a money winner for them. It was also their 125th Club Anniversary celebration.

      All of you who are saying what else could the club do? They shouldn’t go – they shouldn’t commit in the first place.

      There is an expectation that FCB First Team players would play. If it’s not planned that they will be there, make it clear from the very start. It was a dire mishandling of expectations when compared to the end result.

      As word gets around, FCB is going to find it harder to find friendlies with bigger clubs if they can’t commit some of their bigger names to the games. There was a clause for Messi’s appearance written into the contract – soon this will become a clause for Messi and at least 4-5 others of the top tier to appear.

      We are complacent, shrug our shoulders, talk about minimising risk, denigrate the opposition by calling them names in jest, and say who the fuck cares. Why? Because we’re Barca supporters? Doesn’t that make us somewhat arrogant and righteous?

      This event was pushed, in Hamburg, as a big deal event. The club was paying Eur 1.2 million for the Barca First Team to turn up and put on a good show. It wasn’t advertised as a Barca B game.

      Put yourselves in the shoes of all those fans who committed to paying to go last night, instead of watching it on TV or internet streams as we all did.

      Now, imagine yourselves as a fan of any other club in the world, and it’s advertised that FCB is coming to play against your team. Be honest here – there’s HUGE expectation that you will be seeing some major stars of the football world, right? The team comes onto the pitch, and apart from a couple of players who you might recognise if you follow Brazil and Holland, there are no other famous faces on that pitch playing against your team.

      Wouldn’t you be disappointed?

      Instead of talking about the great game that they saw against Barca last night, all of Hamburg and a lot of the German media can only express how disappointed they are. As a Barca fan, I would love them to be raving about how great FCB is, what an awesome time they had, and what a great spectacle it was.

      My club – Barca – has a huge ethos and aura in the world of football. By their actions, they are tainting that by mishandling the expectations of other clubs who are paying them millions of euros to appear in games, and disappointing fans who are expecting to see some big names.

      I have a right to be indignant about that, and I’m certainly not going to follow the herd-thinking that the club was right to do what they did. They would only be right only if everyone was happy after last night’s game. They’re not.

      How my club behaves, and represents itself, matters to me.

      I’m just wondering how all of you can think that what happened is ok?

    5. I’d be interested to see how this friendly was advertized, because the United-Barca friendly in Maryland wasn’t portrayed as Barca Babies vs. United Fringe, but most people I talked to at the game understood it to be so. And even knowing that, I dropped $100 so I could support my team, even if I didn’t recognize some of the more obscure players.

      If the advertizing for the friendly in Germany was marketed as a big game for the fans, then I’d be surprised that many German fans would have truly believed that. And we should stop advertizing as such. But in any case, they’re the country with the best attendance at games, teams that often do well in both the Europa League and CL, etc. They’re not fledlging football fans, so how shocked were they to see a Barcelona side that wasn’t full strength at a friendly?

      I bet with Messi healthy and playing alongside Ibi and some babies the fans would’ve been fine – unfortunately even the sturdiest of players get injured sometimes and they missed out on the main attraction. We could certainly arrange for more first team players to go to these friendlies, but then our players would be even more fatigued before the league starts.

      I see this situation as being unfortunate (main attraction is Messi, but he picks up a knock)but ok. The contract had a clause regarding Messi not playing, so we received a smaller sum because of his injury. If the Germans were expecting more star power, then friendlies aren’t the best option for them.

    6. For me, it’s simple. Preseason friendlies always carry a risk of all the top players not being involved. Especially the early ones. Sure they have a right to feel aggrieved, but this is nothing out of the ordinary.I don’t get all of the tears and commotion. Have preseason friendlies just been invented? I’ve seen countless friendlies over the past 5 years that don’t feature a lot of the big names. Yet, Messi was going to play, and he got hurt… it happens.

      And like Ryan says, most fans last year knew it would basically be Barça B vs. Manchester United even if it wasn’t advertised to be so. I’d expect a team to do it’s research and realize that in this era, Barcelona brings PLENTY of youngsters to preseason games…. Spain had a good chance of getting far in the Euros, etc. They took the risk & weren’t pleased with the outcome, fine. No one put a gun to their heads and told them to arrange it, though.

    7. They couldn’t have known that the Spanish Internationals wouldn’t play, because that was dependent on the Euro result – but there was a chance that they wouldn’t be there.

      They knew there was a pretty good chance Spain would make it to the final or at least the semis, and it is standard to give players several weeks vacation after a major tournament. They could not possibly have been counting on any of those players being there. Or Villa, or Puyol.

      Instead, since the Euros, most of Barca’s Spanish Internationals have been off on trips around the world doing official business for FCB (Cesc to Jakarta, Pique to China, VV to Brazil and Iniesta doing stuff locally) which has delayed their return.

      It is also very normal for players to break up their vacation time by doing promotional work, either for the club or for their personal sponsors, training camps & charities. I don’t see how this has “delayed” anything, they would be doing these things anyway and they were certainly scheduled many months ago. Unless the club outright lied about the dates the Spanish players would be available, Hamburg would have had access to this information.

      If Messi had played last night, then that would have gone a long way to making the night more of a success, for the attending fans. Now it appears as if Messidependencia is also overflowing into the club’s marketing and business side, as well as on the pitch.

      Agreed. Would we even be having this discussion if Messi had played? Probably not. Hamburg knew most of the first-team players would not be available but went ahead anyway because they thought Messi would be there and that would justify it to their fans and still make them money. Now that Messi’s unfortunate injury has led to recriminations from their fans, they have to come over all morally outraged and lay the blame at Barça’s door.

      Bottom line – if Barca commits to pre-season games from which they are making money, they have an obligation to front up with a damn good team. If they can’t, then they shouldn’t go.

      You realize that it was Hamburg that approached Barça for the friendly, right? They did know what they were paying for.

      There is an expectation that FCB First Team players would play. If it’s not planned that they will be there, make it clear from the very start.

      How do you know it wasn’t? See my points above. I am convinced that Hamburg knew at the very least that the Spanish internationals plus Puyol and Villa would not be available. Thiago & Cuenca either, since they were both supposed to be at the Olympics anyway.

      calling them names in jest

      Hamburglars was a joke based on my love of wordplay. It’s funny. No insult to the club or the fans was meant.

      This event was pushed, in Hamburg, as a big deal event. The club was paying Eur 1.2 million for the Barca First Team to turn up and put on a good show. It wasn’t advertised as a Barca B game.

      You can’t blame Barça for how Hamburg chose to represent the game to their fans in order to sell tickets. That was cynical on their part, and if I was one of their fans I would be pissed off too.

      I’m just wondering how all of you can think that what happened is ok?

      I don’t think it is OK, I think it is unfortunate. Again, I don’t think we would even be having this conversation if Messi hadn’t been injured. Some of the fans in Hamburg might still have grumbled, but not enough for their club or the media to make this big of a fuss over it. It would have been a nice gesture if Barça had offered them the opportunity to reschedule the friendly for another time when more players were available, but that is so difficult with the packed schedules of modern clubs. The other option would have been to cancel the match altogether, which would have made it even more clear that no one wants a Barça game without Messi. No one would have been happy with that, either.

      The best option might have been not to schedule a friendly this early at all. Hindsight is 20/20.

    8. Damn, some of my quotes didn’t show up. These two sections should be in italics as they are from nzm’s comment:

      Bottom line – if Barca commits to pre-season games from which they are making money, they have an obligation to front up with a damn good team. If they can’t, then they shouldn’t go.

      There is an expectation that FCB First Team players would play. If it’s not planned that they will be there, make it clear from the very start.

    9. Ryan – in part, I agree, but there’s a major difference between the US tour and the Hamburg game: the US games weren’t against any local clubs.

      All of them were against visiting teams – Man U, Club America and Chivas.

      At those games, you would have had:
      1. FC Barca fans going to see Barca and not caring (to some extent) who was on the pitch as long as they saw Barca.
      2. Fans of the opposition with the same predilection as the Barca fans.
      3. Interested football fans with no partiality.

      There were no home fans who would have expected to see their team playing some famous names in the Barca team. Plus, dare I say it, on the US tour, at least you actually got to see some First Team members of note, with most of the Catalan players touring and playing bit-parts.

      Why would you be surprised at the German fans not expecting a big game? Certainly the Hamburg club thought that’s what they were getting, because they are now considering legal options to seek further reduction on the payment – more than the 400k that they don’t have to pay for the no-Messi appearance.

      Certainly, if this escalates, we can expect to see sponsors demanding more out-clauses in contracts for non-appearance of star players, and tighter contracts being eked out prior to the games being agreed upon.

      A preseason, to me, is the First Team getting together to play against some quality opposition in preparation for the upcoming season. If most are missing, what’s the point? They may as well stay at home to train and condition.

      Perhaps the club should stop calling it a preseason and call it by its rightful name – a money-making venture using B-team members, with a sprinkling of First team, and with no hope of seeing the top team on the pitch.

      The main point out of all this is that the club has created this situation. It’s of their making.

      Use the players for other promotional activities, during what should be their holiday time, and delay their preseason start?

      How disrespectful to the clubs who have arranged preseason games with FCB, and will be paying for that honour.

    10. I’m not sure if Euro players were doing promotional works for the club (except for Pique). Cesc has a personal endorsement deal with an Indonesian cookie company. He went to Jakarta last summer as well when he was still an Arsenal player. Valdes signed a contract with Penalty, a Brazilian company that is not affiliated with Nike. So I think it was a personal tour. Iniesta was honored in his hometown and promoting new Nike boots because he endorsed Nike. Pedro always has a clinic in the summer.

      If you look at the Euro schedule, the first two weeks were devoted to group games, the last week of the tournament was for knock-out rounds. If Spain didn’t advance, they would have a week more rest than they have now. Consider the fact that these players have played a lot games for about 5 years now, they should rest for about a month or so.

      Overall, it was an unfortunate situation for all parties.

    11. Preseason is exactly that: preseason warm up friendlies that don’t mean a damn thing. NFL teams play 4 preseason games every year. The teams charge full ticket value. They usually are close to full capacity if it’s a good team. DO the starters play the whole game? No. Why? For risk of injury. It’s simply a way for the players to get their feet wet and maybe, maybe, play a down or 2. For non-NFL fans, that’s 80 seconds of action. MLB has Spring Training. The games are televised and people travel to watch the games. People travel far! Do the managers play their starting 9 the whole game? No. Why? To give others a chance to prove themselves and for the managers to see what they can do. Also, for risk of injury. I’m sorry, but friendlies have been played for ages and it’s not the exception in the U.S. that star’s don’t play or may play very little. It’s what their for. If Messi was expected to play and it was in the contract, then that’s unfortunate. However, it’s not OUR fault he was injured! Did they have a contract for Xavi, Puyol, Pedro, Iniesta, Villa, etc.? No, because they knew they wouldn’t be there. They need to stop the theatrics and stop getting their fans in a frenzy. They knew what they were getting.

  20. Well its a strange complaint since they couldn’t defeat our ‘weakened team’ despite the fact this was their eighth friendly and our first.The fact is this is Barca, a club that has started similar teams in champions league group games.A club which started Thiago and Tello in a must win clasico.Uses pre season to give future generations a taste of what they have worked sometimes nine years towards.No first team player was left behind that could play so what is the problem?We started the strongest available team.

    If Messi would have been fit he would have played ahead of Deulo and that’s about it. In 5 years if any of the players of yesterday are world beaters the same people that felt insulted will be reminiscing about how they were there when player X was just making his name.Like Juventus fans and Messi and the gamper in 2005. It seems like they would have rather lost 7-1 on their anniversary.

    1. Yes – they’ve started similar teams in Champions Leagues matches – when the Group was already won and the result didn’t matter.

      Yesterday, it was a case of fly in, play, fly out all on the same day – and thanks for the money. 90 mins without much goodwill.

      As for losing 7-1 per se, at least they would have seen a star-studded game for it, and they would have most likely been happier!

      The club is using these events as platforms on which to showcase their B players in an attempt to drive up their values and to get them noticed – and have someone else conveniently foot the bill. That’s what it’s really all about.

  21. Here is the real story behind Messi’s injury. This account just reeks of truthiness:

    Meanwhile in Spain, rumours are emerging about the circumstances surrounding Messi’s injury. El Confidencial say that Lionel Messi received a tackle from Barcelona B player Marc Barta. It’s claimed that Messi reacted furiously to the situation and shouted at the young player.

    When the play started again, he took matters into his own hands and flew in with a rash tackle on Barta to get his revenge. This even led to Messi’s own team mates turning on him and slamming his actions.

    The newspaper say it’s possible this contributed to his injury.
    El Confidencial say it’s not the first time Messi has fallen out with young players at the club and it’s a concern for Barcelona who would rather youngsters learnt from the living legend rather than be at war with him.

    It’s a tough test for Tito Villanova, he needs to let everyone know he’s boss but upsetting Lionel Messi isn’t something he’ll want to do.

    1. This story smells fishy. I believe the part that Messi might have ‘chewed’ the youngster out after the harsh challenge but, i don’t believe he retaliated with a tackle of his own.
      But then again i might be wrong, he did kick Pepe in he copa del rey and chest bump Coentrao in the super copa. Although, when Messi does it, it’s kinda cute, hope he doesn’t lose his descipline now that Pep is gone.

    2. Honestly I can’t see why it can’t be true. Messi is human after all and has shown he has a little bit of a temper to him (tello incident comes to mind)

  22. I can believe the story but it’s still no big deal. This happens a lot in training. Especially at preseason. Youngsters hoping to make a name and impress the coaches try to stop the older player any way they can. Having been in that situation at an ( incredibly! ) lower level I had a go first chance I could at the youngster to show you can dish it out as well and they can’t take liberties. Important thing is how Messi dealt with it once he had cooled down. If it really caused Messi to miss the match with the resultant loss of money you can bet that the squad will be getting a word about their tackling, especially after Pinto’s ridiculous effort on Alexis the other day.

  23. Its simple. We kill the Batman The sole authority on who plays and who doesn’t is Tito, whatever anyone else says. It isn’t our job to please everyone. And its not as if we violated the terms of the contract drawn up.

    Fans should know better than to expect us fielding a full strength XI the very first chance we get to achieve match fitness. Disappointed? Get used to it. And it wasn’t as if the babies weren’t competitive enough, they still won the game. Want the honor of playing our best team? You can’t buy it. You’ll have to earn it. Like Bayer did. You can bet you’ll square up against a ‘strong’ team.

    There is a high risk of injuries during pre-season, which is always entered with caution. Even then you might get unlucky like Muniesa. Risking Messi for a measly 400k? Not advisable.

    See, I support one and only one sports team. I do not care about any other club nor do I give a **** if they or their supporters like us or not. Its that simple..

  24. Was just wondering about that Messi business. And I agree 1,000,000% with nzm’s comment about the Hamburg business. I also can’t see it, should such nonsense occur again, not affecting our pre-season cash grabs in the future, which does indeed affect our club.

    More than that, as nzm notes, it’s a question of respect. The coach has the right to play whatever players he wants. He is wholly unconcerned with anything except getting the squad into match shape for the coming season. But the club needs to talk to the coach, and as importantly, to the entity giving us a pigpile of money. I’m sure we’re thinking, “Hey, they got FC Barcelona. What’s the problem?”

    But in a team peopled with stars, the answer just isn’t that simple. FC Barcelona is, for fans, Messi, Xavi, Iniesta. Think how many of you would feel if you paid your money to see FCB play in a friendly, and you got the B Team, Mascherano and Alves.

    More importantly, it cost our club money and goodwill, two things we can ill afford to lose.

    –Poor Muniesa. He wasn’t going to really feature at all for the first team this season, but on a human level, you just hate to see it. From the red in his first-team debut to all of the injuries, it just sucks.

    –Fontas will be better than many folks realize this season. I was watching some matches from last season in which he featured, and he has the stuff. The question is how is the knee after the injury, and how’s his head about it? If you’re going to blow out a knee, you’re better off doing it young than old. Youngsters forget about stuff. But he strikes me a lot like a Pique Lite: good positional sense, rangy if not particularly pace-y, good with the ball at his feet. But we’ll see.

    –We need to buy a defender, and I don’t mean tomorrow. If it’s Javi Martinez we want, take some of that record profit, put it with the rest of the transfer budget and pay up. 40m+ for a defender? That’s the price. We either pay it or shut up. But at present, we’re going into what is going to be another long, difficult season with Alves, Montoya, Adriano, Pique, Puyol, Mascherano, Fontas. Puyol is old and dinged, Pique is uncertain, as is Fontas. Mascherano is rock-solid. The rest are wing backs. I just don’t think this is a situation that Vilanova will countenance, but I’ve been wrong before.

  25. Barcelona should avoid to use the cracks as appetizer and should have learned of the fiasco Asian Tour 2010.

    It’s not like the HSV Fans didn’t know about the fallacities of the Euros etc. but it was their 125 Year Jubilee and they we’re expecting at least Messi to play and paid an overpriced sum for it. Mind you in Bundesliga you can watch a Game starting from 14 Euro+ but yesterday they were ripped off 56 Euros were the starting price only to watch a Barça C-Team.

    Barcelona did send an entourage of Organiser and Promoters during the Euros to announce their (detailed) demands for the Game:
    -how long the Grass should be,
    -what should be at the dressing room
    -how many policemen/security should stay before the Hotel etc..

    Now HSV did fullfill their conditions and what did Barça?

    And then instead getting in touch with the people the Club opted to shield the Players from the public.No public Training, no Autographs just playing and leaving without a trace.
    Celebrating your own (historical) 125th Bithday with such a aloof or better farouche Guest is kinda fun,huh?

    What happened happened.Beside the unfortunate Injury of Muniesa there is not much to take.Feel sorry for Muniesa his fragility worries me.
    Overall a good start it was funny to see the atletic players controlling the game with 10 men xD

  26. All this fuss about Hamburg match makes no sense whatsoever. I will repeat what I said on tweeter already:

    1) I will go as far as saying, I don’t care if Hamburg are disappointed that Messi didnt play. This is a preseason friendly, not a circus.

    2) It is not like you went to a show where you were expecting a dolphin but the dolphin didnt show up and you had to watch only whales. Be a football fan, not a candy boy.

    3) Preseason match is a preparation match. You played a Barca you couldnt defeat. That was good enough team then. Full of stars. Pass.

    4) When Barca visit your town, it’s a club with more glory than ANY player. Feel proud of such game. Any other reaction is a stupid insult to the club and it is unacceptable.

    5) You cant dictate when Messi plays. He serves HIS club. That’s not the person you pay and get to your apartment for your own pleasure. You got it all wrong there.

    6) Is there a condition that Barca pays back money if Messi doesn’t play? Fair enough. So Barca had that option? They processed it.

    What we know is that Messi was injured (of not fully fit). That’s the official story and I find no reason not to believe it considering Messi’s hunger to play after long rest (and we know when he wats to play, there are no Buts). What should Tito do? Drag him to the field while being injured? No. He keeps him at home. Simple. Really.

    Now will that lose Barca some money and branding? Thats the common shortsighted assumption. We spent last summer’s preseason rambling between continents for money and branding. What happened next? Bad season costed us more money and branding than we -supposedly- got.

    Football needs in the club has to come in the first second till fifth place before business needs as the first ultimately brings the second, not the other way.

    There are way more creative ways to earn much more money and branding than that same lazy mainstream out-of-the-box plan of Friendlies-for-money. This club is still way behind when it come to getting advantage of all its potentials business-wise. So better the business boys scratch there heads and do what they are supposed to do and leave the players for the game rather than sending Messi to get money and score goals. And YES it is possible.

    Few hundreds less with unsatisfied Hamburg fan is way better for me than an injured Messi. Just take a minute to imagine this scenario:

    Messi actually plays that match though not fully fit, just because the club doesnt want to lose few hundreds and some “Hail hail” chants in Germany. Messi get injured for -lets not be harsh- just 6 months. Now shoot your reactions against the board, Tito, Messi, and the spaghetti boy.

    There is no case.

  27. To the U.S. viewers concerned about lack of Liga(in particular, FCB) coverage. I suggest going onto and and clicking on the “contact us” link. ESPN has a good page that breaks down what your contacting them about and you’re able to put “soccer-Spanish League” in your comment. I’ve implored both to seek an arrangement with beInsports to broadcast Liga games this year. Please do the same. The more we have asking for Liga coverage the better. Now it’s time to go to my provider, but we need the games broadcasted 1st before we can even ask our provider! IF YOU CARE, MAKE AN EFFORT!

  28. I feel I should point out that no matter WHO was playing, what Hamburg actually got was a very decent football game at a very high level of play. If the crowd hadn’t had their expectations raised they would have enjoyed it immensely.

    As for who raised their expectations, I say again that you cannot blame Barcelona for how Hamburg advertised and represented the game to their fans. Hamburg knew at least several weeks in advance that the bulk of the first team would not be there–the vacations of the Spanish players and the dates they were expected to report to training were announced immediately after the Euros ended. Hamburg could have raised a fuss at that point and demanded new terms or for the game to be rescheduled. They did not. They only made a fuss after it became clear that Messi would not be playing, due to an unforeseeable injury.

    I think we can all agree that the scheduling of this game was mishandled and that Barça is guilty of being a bit high-handed in its relations with the Hamburg club & fans. Some smoothing-over and apologizing would be diplomatic. But Hamburg were definitely not innocent victims (or if they really were that ignorant of the unavailability of the first-team players, they desperately need a new business team) and you all shouldn’t be acting like Barça went out of their to deliberately pull a fast one on them.

    I feel bad for the Hamburg fans who were misled, but they should be blaming their own club just as much as ours.

  29. We are in quite a mess here.

    A friendly turned into not so friendly affair. It’s easy to blame Hamburg fans and club. But what would you had done if we were at the receiving end.

    I thought we never put our heart in when we planned this mess. We only used our head. We were getting well paid and so we took it without realistic what the occasion was. That was the big mistake. The issue is not that we were without our best players. The issue was we were without our best players for a match which celebrated the 125 years of another club. That’s quite scary.

  30. Hamburg had a good look at Espinosa!!! Why complain? 😛

    Okay, so had Messi not been injured, he’d have played. But for how long? Surely not for the whole game. I didnt watch the game but it seems like Tito would have been booed had he taken Messi off, say at half time/60min (hypothetical). Barca lost 400k i read but what was the contract like? was it 400k or like 4.5k/min?

    Anyways, this should be a lesson learned for all parties.

    1. He impressed them so much that they’re willing to accept him as compensation 😛
      They are in desperate need for a no 10 anyway^^

      Afaik no specific minutes we’re agreed. Only known detail we’re that Messiclause which ensured that he participated otherwise Barça had to pay 400 000 euros penalty.Therefor Barça earned 800 000 Euro for that match.

    2. Clouseau,
      how about the following as a near-futurist Messi-clause for friendlies:
      * Participation: 200k
      * For every minute above 60min -> 5k
      * Per goal -> eqn, y= 60x- 10, whr y = bucks in k, x is no. of goals
      * Per assist -> 25k
      * Per dribble (min 4 players) -> 5k + additional if dribbles same player twice in the same move.
      etc etc.

      & Team-clause:
      * if manita -> 100k + bonuses if the occasion is like 125th anniversary celebration.
      * if above 85% possession -> 150k
      etc etc 😛

  31. The main mess here is that people consider Hanburg sentiments Bara obligations. That’s not true. Match timing, expectations and hopes, etc…etc… Are no factors there for Barca. Why?

    If you offer a hundred dollar to buy my icecream and asked me to put it on the stairs for you to pick it next week, you got yourself a deal. Will it melt till then? What were you thinking when you paid? There was a euro, so Spanish players were out of question. Messi got injured, so Barca did no foul there. The stars-free selection (if valves, Sanchez, and co are considered amateurs) is not Barca’s fault as its Hamburg who picked the timing.

    Now, was the selection too weak? Who won after all?

    So again, no case. Hamburg -the club- is trying to distract Hamburg -the fans- so they don’t see the real flaw. They took some Barca fans in the way.

  32. It seems to be this was something of a confluence of unfortunate happenstances on top of poor planning on Hamburg’s part.

    The “Messi” clause in the contract tells me the club was fully aware of the event’s suboptimal timing, but they chose to go ahead because they wanted Messi more than they wanted Barcelona.

    Had Messi not been injured, Tito could have started the C team around Messi, and Hamburg wouldn’t have cared.

    Once Messi got injured, it’s possible Hamburg would have been pacified had Xavi and Iniesta been available, but the timing ruled out that option, and to be perfectly honest, I suspect Hamburg would have still grumbled, notwithstanding the refunded 400K.

    As it is, Tito fielded all the stars he had available to him. So he can’t really be criticized on that score.

    It seems to me the only substantial criticism that can be leveled at Barça is the lack of congeniality shown to the local fans. Even if things like “open training,” “autograph signing,” “picture posing,” etc. weren’t specified in the contract — and I have to assume they weren’t — the team would have earned back some good will by throwing them in as kind of a Messi make-good to the fans (akin to the contracted 400K make-good to the club).

    But the fact that Messi was such a late scratch probably ruled out switching flights around to allow more time with the locals before or after the match. Muniesa’s injury no doubt made them less likely to want to linger after the match.

    So we have bad timing (Hamburg’s doing) plus *last-minute* Messi injury (random event) plus Muniesa injury (random event, fragile player). Equals? Clusterf*ck.

    [Ack! Frigging set plays again!]

  33. Yeah, Spain’s getting outfought and outthought.

    Javi Martinez isn’t looking like much of a catch right now.

    1. He never really did to me. And certainly not for 40m.
      20m is already a very gentle sum for him.

      The U19 played a lot better during the Euro, they looked like a more mature and cohesive team. This was a very poor display, but from what I remember they weren’t that convincing in the preparation friendlies either.
      Muniain and Thiago are certainly big misses.
      Muniain will return in the next match, still I don’t see Spain getting to the semis. They’ll play against Brazil in the quarterfinal (well, with 99% probability).
      We gotta see it positive, Alba and Co. will return one week earlier 🙂

    2. Helge, I love you!!

      I thought I was the only one not on the JM bandwagon..and I also agree with you about Spain..though I’d want them to drop out at the group stages for selfish reasons haha.

    3. You’ll find that there are a great many people who aren’t on the Javi Martinez bandwagon. My sole contention is if he’s the player we want, we should pay the freight and shut up. Or don’t pay it, and shut up. Either way ….

      I’d also remind folks that there were a great many people who weren’t on the Mascherano bandwagon. Just sayin’.

  34. I was going to say something about Spain losing the first game of the World Cup, but at least Spain played well in that game. This Spain is lucky the score isn’t 5-0 right now. Dismal!

    1. I suggested that Spain may struggle with Japan b/c of their pace and tight pressing and that was the case. This Japan team is really good. Lets give them some credit. Congrats for the big win for them. They did this w/out their best National team players. I also thought Brazil may be surprised by Egypt. They strolled in front, but I was not surprised to see a fight back, even if their goals weren’t world class build up. That said, Brazil could’ve scored 5 or 6. I’m happy for Egypt after all they’ve been through. Their are some great stories already. Gabon nearly knicking a win with a population of 2 million is impressive!

  35. On the plus side, Alba and Montoya gave good accounts of themselves, along with Mata.

  36. Well, two days into Olympic soccer and I’m 1-1 with my teams. Esp needs to get their…um…stuff together. As for the other team…

    US women’s NT For. The. Win.!!!!!
    (See, American’s can play this game. At least the Americans who have pony tails can.)

    1. Yes! I love our women’s team. They are awesome. Their game against Brazil from last year’s World Cup was one of the best and most entertaining non-Barca games I’ve seen. Hope the ladies do well 😀

  37. @kxevin,am †ђξ decogrin talking with you on twitter, J.martinez is alonso without a long range shot,unskillfull,languid and slow….40m???….are you kidding me?

    1. The number is absurd. But the price is the price, if that’s the player we want. Suddenly, you can’t help but wonder what would have happened had we evinced more patience with Txigrinski.

  38. Barcelona B winger Gerard Deulofeu has been chosen as
    best player of Euro U19. Official announcement to follow
    in the coming days. [marca]

    the best always comes from Barca….its not their so called Jesse

  39. Anyone have an update on bEIN sports and who will have it? Will we be able to stream the games? Kxkevin?

    1. I was gonna ask the same question. By far it appears DirectTV (maybe also dishnetwork) are the most likely carriers of beIN sport. But my place is facing dead north. So no chance for a dish to work.

      Good news is rumors on twitter saying RayRay is leaving GolTV and joining Phil at beIN sport. So if anybody is going to have beIn sport on their TV, you will still hear the old couple commentating on La Liga games.

    2. The update is that it’s complicated. There is planned a Web side for BeInNOLIGA, where matches will be streamed. But there are more layers to the story:

      –BeIN is going to have a Spanish and English arm, BeIN 1 and 2. Both will be available for streaming.

      –The channel plans to bid for the Premiership, but the Prem (intelligently so) demands that a content provider have a carriage deal (cable/satellite partner) before they are even allowed to bid. Some are speculating that the English arm of BeIN, because of the complexities involved with mounting a bid and locking up a carrier (size, contract), the English-language side isn’t going to be operational this season at all.

      –Those same complexities don’t exist for the Spanish side.

      –DirecTV is looking to have the inside track. The plan was indeed for them to simply buy GolTV, but Gol decided to play hard to get. That option is all but dead now.

      And that’s kinda what I know, except that BeIN’s “call your cable operator” campaign is a stupid as any of them are, because you get some customer service bloke, who hasn’t heard of the channel, knows nothing about any plans to carry it and enough people won’t call where ANY provider’s needle will tick to a degree sufficient to have them say “By Jove, we have to get that channel!”

      So there ya go.

    3. See my PLEA above in comments and take appropriate action if you want Liga televised in the U.S. this season. Sitting around and “hoping” isn’t going to get anything done. Like most worthwhile causes, it’s going to take action from fans to get something done.

    4. Kevin,

      COmment not directed at you, but to anyone asking about coverage in the U.S.

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