FC Barcelona 4 – 2 Real Betis: One Step Closer To The Title

This is not a review. Not a real one, anyway. I won’t be talking tactics, formations, or dissecting individual plays. This is just a few impressions I formed while watching the game and running a LiveBlog, so if I missed any key moments, you can blame those rambunctious loveblobbers for distracting me! 😀

The original plan for this weekend was to wrap up the league title mathematically and lift the cup at the Camp Nou after a resounding victory over Real Betis that would soothe some of the trauma of the last few weeks. However, last week’s draw with Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid’s come-from-behind victory over Valladolid ensured that we would have to wait another week to officially claim the league title. And as for the resounding victory part, well…Real Betis didn’t seem too inclined to co-operate.

Tito went with a lineup of: Dani Alves, Pique, Adriano, Jordi Alba, Song, Xavi, Iniesta, Sanchez, Villa, Tello, and Pinto, who was filling in for an injured Victor Valdes. As soon as the lineup was announced, the twitterverse exploded with outrage. Why was Xavi playing when his tendons were like overstretched elastic bands? Why doesn’t Tito trust Thiago? Did Bartra fall down a hole after the Bayern Munich game? Iniesta needs a nap! Oddly no one seemed too worried that Dani Alves has now started eleventymillion* games in a row, but I digress. The point is that Lionel Messi was once again sitting on the bench. Yes, that’s right. Cristian “the new Henry” Tello benched Messi. Or more probably, Leo’s golden hamstrings are still not perfectly 100% and were being held in reserve for use only if necessary. More on that to come.

The team had barely had time to register which end they were playing from when a mishit clearance by Pinto was returned at speed into the path of Real Betis’ Dorlan Pabon, who burst past Pique and put the ball in the net. Two minutes in and Real Betis was already up by a goal!


Not to worry, though. It was clear after only a few minutes that this was not a team who were about to let themselves be humiliated in their own house. I mean, again. The word of the day was ATTACK, and so they did, with Alexis Sanchez diving low to score a header from a perfect Iniesta cross in the 9th minute. What followed was a very exciting game, with Barcelona having slightly less possession than usual (only 54%!) but the great majority of the shots on goal (34 to 12). Villa, Tello, Sanchez, Iniesta all peppered the box with shots with little to show for it except for the overwhelming feeling that something was bound to go in soon. Villa grew increasingly frustrated as he skied the ball over an open goal and soft-shoed another one straight into the arms of the keeper. Tello had a monster of a shot ricochet off the crossbar, hit the goalline, and it was justhisclose to going completely in! But no, it wasn’t a goal, and not long after, Betis was rewarded for their own persistence when Ruben Pérez smashed the ball into the top corner from 30 yards out to give the visitors a 2-1 lead just before half-time.

45 minutes gone and only one goal to show for it, in a must-win game. Time to bring out the not-so-secret weapon. Lionel Messi starts to warm up on the sidelines. David Villa spots him and knows his number will be coming up soon. There is no way he is coming off the pitch before scoring a goal, it’s been coming all game, and here it is! Finally! In the 56th minute he latches onto a cross from Dani Alves and heads it past the keeper for the equalizer. Still, he had to make way for Messi and didn’t look too best pleased about it. He was the logical sub, though. Both Tello and Sanchez had been playing really well and both are arguably better at feeding Messi the ball than Villa is right now.

Now, you can argue about whether this team is too dependent on Messi, whether the system is the problem (it’s not) or the other players just aren’t good enough (they are), but you absolutely cannot ignore the way the very presence of Messi on the pitch, even a 80% fit Messi, has a psychological impact on both teams. Real Betis were already struggling to prevent our forwards from getting through on goal. Now they had a fresh, motivated magician to deal with. Our own players knew that their jobs would become easier as well as Messi would draw defenders into his orbit, freeing up space for others. The outcome wasn’t a foregone conclusion, but there was a palpable feeling that what had been a fairly equally balanced game had suddenly and irrevocably shifted in Barcelona’s favour. With practically his first touch Messi curled an absolute peach of a free kick into the top right corner of the goal, then 10 minutes later tapped in a gimme from a sublime backheel from Iniesta to Alexis, who put the cross right at Messi’s feet. 4-2. Game over. A big win and only two more points needed to put the league out of reach for Real Madrid.

So how did we do? As a team effort I thought it was a very strong performance. I admit I wasn’t thrilled to see Adriano starting at CB instead of Bartra, but according to the stats he didn’t do badly. Between them, Pique and Adriano recovered 15 and 16 balls respectively, the most out of anyone. And the team did not give up a single corner! When was the last time that happened? Tello, Iniesta & Song all had an excellent game. Tito even singled Song out in the dying minutes of the game by substituting him, so that the Camp Nou could acknowledge his performance. I thought that was a nice touch. And Alexis Sanchez continued his recent run of making me wonder why on earth anyone would want to sell him, as he not only scored a goal and assisted Messi’s second, but worked his tail off creating space and setting up chance after chance for David Villa. In fact, according to the official team site, “Alexis has scored five goals and claimed six assists in the last eight league matches, meaning he was directly involved in 11 out of 22 FCB goals.” This is a player we need to keep.

Next week we play Atletico Madrid. What do you think the chances are of them rolling over for us like they did Real Madrid? Nah!

*Actually this was the tenth match in a row that he has started.

By blitzen

Canadian, cule, corporate wage slave. Came late to the beautiful game, but fell under FCB's spell in 2006 and never looked back.


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Tello starting again.
    Man that kid is quick. He is easily a starter on current form and he has made selling Pedro a truly viable option. I hate that Pedro is untouchable even though he has been incredibly inconsistent and unproductive for two seasons.
    Villa is past his best undoubtedly, due to injuries or age he is past it. His name should still fetch a few million.

    I am genuinely impressed with Alexis recently. I think his goal scoring is going to be a bonus but his play making is really good and he deserves to stay.

    I am wondering if someone like Edinson Cavani is a better alternative to all of the millions we are throwing at Santos for Neymar with the way we are creating chances but not taking them?

    1. Sanchez has had a mediocre season for me. I’ve seen so many glimpses of his potential and I think his performances haven’t matched his potential most of the year. That said I wouldn’t sell him as he does have so much potential – if he can produce as well (or even almost as well) as he has for the last two months for most of a season he will be invaluable.

      I also wouldn’t get close to selling Tello

    2. Whoops, continued…

      I also wouldn’t get close to selling Tello or Pedro. Tello obviously prOvides the team with a directness no one else does. Pedro is a different story, he is the perfect cog in the system – pliable tactically and always performs his role well. He hasn’t lost his touch – he still scores goals almost every time he Plays with Spain. He has been aske to play a thankless role the last couple of seasons . In all honesty, he is a forward who thrives off of the space created by others – and recently the team hasn’t been creating any space up front at all in some matches. Finally, he is one of the best pressers on the team, and even this season the press has been poor (although mostly for tactical reasons and aging reasons). When Neymar inevitably comes, Pedros tactical malleability and ability to press and defend may be essential.

    3. I would like to ask something.

      Why does it have to be keep Tello = sell Pedro. We could keep them both. Some game requires different sets of skills.

      And I don’t think Pedro is the kind that will sulk.

    4. Would but that other icons had been as mediocre as Sanchez this season. We might still be in Champions League. Almost the entire TEAM has been mediocre this season, except for spurts. Single out Sanchez if you like, but on my mediocrity list, more than a few players are ahead of him.

    5. I look at each player individually. One player does not get a pass because other players haven’t been playing well. I also don’t judge players compared to other players. I say Sanchez has been mediocre because when he has good moments or good games its obvious to me that his talent has outstripped his performance this season. That’s all

  2. we should definitely keep as many of our attacking options as possible, and that goes double if we end up selling David Villa. our problem hasn’t been, i think, that we lack options in our play up front but rather the WAY in which we’ve deployed them. add to that some inconsistent finishing and you’ve got our “problem” in attack, but it should be noted that we’ve been scoring relatively freely overall this season; we’ve scored 105 goals already in the league alone.

    Tello’s sheer pace and directness would be a fine complement to the inevitable Neymar inclusion, especially if they’re instructed to switch sides often during the course of the game; they’re such different players that most defenders who get the hang of Neymar’s trickery and guile will be blindsided by Tello’s speed and willingness to shoot outside the box, and hopefully vice versa.

    the far more distressing problem is at the back; we’ve also conceded about 2 goals per game away from home, and that’s simply not good enough. any further profit we make from selling players (Villa, Song, loanees, whoever) desperately needs to go to strengthening that area.

  3. I don’t comment a lot here but I really dislike this loaning strategy that we keep getting into. Why can’t we sell outright and have a “first option” buy-back clause in there?

    For all our “bark” about being one of the greatest clubs in the world (which we are), we sure get pushed around in the transfer market. The loan deal for Ibrahimovic with Milan was an utter joke – sure he didn’t see eye to eye with Pep at the time and he needed to go but why couldn’t we be more assertive in the way we sold him? Tevez sulked and wanted out at M.United and they sold him to Man City for 47 MILLION!!

    Surely we can do better…

    1. Its very true, almost every Barca fan would agree that we are or , are one of the poorest ‘big’ clubs when it comes to business. MU sold Tevez for 47, and they bought Van Persie for around 25 (I could be wrong with the exact numbers). If we were to buy VP, we would have definitely paid above 30 or 35. Every player whom we are interested in are not even available for anything less than 25 or 30, but look at the numbers coming out, for the players we want to sell, Valdes 10, Villa 10…. I cant believe this. Villa bought for 40 and after 3 seasons, just 10. Can we not at least ask for 25 and then come down for a sale. Can we not ask for at least 20 for Valdes, to begin with.
      I really dont understand.

  4. Great observations on the game, blitz – you should write more of these.

    There were 2 instances in this game that were particularly magical for me.

    The first was a classic example of how Alexis works and works when he’s on the pitch. His movements off the ball open up so much opportunity. In this video, Allas captures the moment when Alexis helps set up Villa’s goal:


    And the second was watching Messi as he took the freekick. The amount of downforce that he manufactures in his upper body which he then uses to power-whip his shot is just incredible. The transfer depends on the drop of his shoulder.

    You can see it in this excellent slo-mo gif:


    Amazing technique.

    1. Hence proved !
      Best player in the world: Lionel Messi
      Second best player in the world: Injured Lionel Messi

  5. This video shows the little tussle that happened between Messi and Betis GK Adrian after Messi’s freekick.

    Unfortunately Messi didn’t get that 3rd shot in, and his anger was largely because he failed to have the last word in that niggly battle!


    1. Thanks nzm.
      Such a pity cant understand Spanish, though.
      I felt, there was some kind of exchanges between Messi and goalie, not in a bad way right?

    2. I also feel so unlucky about not being able to understand the Pep talk in Argentina – there is a video of him explaining the false 9 over a few RM matches. What a loss it is not understand Pep lecturing.

    3. Don’t mind the bit of temper. Shows passion. But if he’s gonna go around kicking objects in anger at least he should show some common sense and use his right foot(he doesn’t need that one 🙂 )

  6. “you can blame those rambunctious loveblobbers for distracting me!”
    It certainly wasn’t the strangest loveblob ever. But it was one of the top 5-10.

    I rather enjoyed the game, or at least enjoyed it after the first 2 minutes.

    1. Me too! Someone asked me if it was worth downloading, and I said “Absolutely! Just keep your eyes closed for the first 5 minutes.” 😀

  7. Mou has been on fire since the CL semi. He’s responded to everyone, including this little jab: “Iniesta should worry about what his team did in the CL semi’s without Messi”. This guy is a douche.

    1. Though, in a way there is something quite magnificent about Mou’s self absorption and the way he is terrorising Perez.

    2. Well, Iniesta did comment about M*drid’s treatment of Casillas so that was fair enough, imo.

      Less classy was his comment that Pepe’s problem was that he lost his place to a 19 year-old…

      And that he preferred Lopez over Casillas because he likes his goalkeepers to be “good with his feet, good in the air and incredible between the posts”, thereby implying that Iker is none of those things.

    3. I thought the Pepe jibe was pretty funny tbh:) Barca players also need to learn to keep their mouths shut when it comes to the EE players and Mou especially coz, it’s a losing battle. I get them wanting to defend their Spanish team-mates but on the other hand in a ‘normal’ job, if Iker was disrespectful to a boss or leaked company info, he’d be fired. I dislike Mou A LOT but, when it comes to him trying to discipline Iker, he did what any boss would do.

    4. First of all – Ignore what Mou says now.

      He has to somehow get himself fired otherwise the 20 Million penalty will hurt him. So he will take on everyone available.

  8. From above I wasn’t suggesting that it’s Pedro vs Tello for a spot on the roster, but considering the amount of re-strengthening that is needed I could certainly advocate selling Pedro for €30million especially if the rumours are true that we are spending that kind of money on Neymar.
    Pedro is a full back played up front at the minute. Most people’s argument is how much he works for the team but statistically he has only scored a goal every 200+ minutes this season and hasn’t even hit double figures in 40+ appearances in all competitions.
    Now, normally I don’t like using statistics to decide things like this but matches are won on goals scored and for one third of our strikeforce to provide virtually no attacking threat is not viable.

    My issue is that we are so one dimensional already that having an unproductive striker with such a high resale value makes sense that we should consider it.

    Assuming that Rossell does his own thing and buys Neymar then we would have Neymar, Alexis, Tello, Pedro, Villa & probably Deulofeu as well all vying for a starting spot alongside Messi. It doesn’t make financial sense to keep everyone and we do need to spend money.

    The only other places to raise money in our squad are Dani Alves who can’t be replaced adequately in the current market although we could change tactics. Cesc who the club can’t sell. Alex Song who has been impressive and would cost the same to replace.

    I personally would love an Edinson Cavani or Radamel Falcao type striker with good movement and great finishing ability who has the work ethic to fit in our system but can play centrally with their back to goal if necessary.

    1. Pedro for 30M? I would make that deal in a heartbeat. Extremely doubtful we will get that much. 15-20M would be a good deal, imo.

    2. 30 million for Pedro is literally impossible. No one is going to pay that much for a defensive forward who has rarely scored in the past 2 seasons.

    3. Liverpool paid €35m for Andy Carroll.

      there are clubs out there who will pay exorbitant prices, we just have to be willing to push them for it once we’ve made a decision about who we’re keeping and who we’re moving on.

    4. Yes, but the price of English players in the EPL is inflated.

      Also, the price is always higher for a player moving “up”, and lower for a player moving “down”…

    5. Other teams will think: “If even Barca don’t want Pedro, well…”

  9. From Barcastuff :

    Puyol, who has a 10M buyout clause, has been negotiating his transfer to Milan. He wants to join the club of his idol, Paolo Maldini. [btv]

    Wow! Wasn’t expecting this ( if its true). I’d assumed Puyol would want to retire at Barca. Looks like it could well be a bigger clearout with a whack of the young ones plus Puyol, Abidal and Villa moving on. On the plus side it must mean Puyi’s knee is good enough to pass a medical 🙂

    1. on the transfer rumour sector, news is we’re also looking at Pepe Reina as a replacement for Victor Valdes. i happen to think that’s a silly idea, but i can see the logic behind it.

      any word on that chap who used to run Barça Transfer Zone? is he just on twitter still, or will his site be up and running again this summer? his reporting was invaluable.

    2. Plenty of goalkeepers around who are younger and better… I would be disgusted if an ex-goalkeeper like Zubi signed Pepe Reina.

    3. I would be okay with that. Actually out of love and respect for our capita I would let him go for free.

    4. Puyi’s rumors don’t entirely surprise me. Even during that pretty brief period when Chygnasty, Marquez, and Pique were taking his minutes away, there were some grumblings from Puyol’s camp.

      It’s always nice to see one-club players, but if he still feels like he has something to give and isn’t happy with a part-time role, I wish him all the best! (except when he plays us, of course!)

  10. I’ve been slammed with a new job and havent commented much in awhile but I agree, it would make me sick to see Puyi in another teams colors. If Rosell let’s this happen that would be really bad. He should retire with Barca.

  11. Im honestly sick of the thought of puyi wearing another club’s jersey. Really hope this isn’t true.

    1. To be honest I think it is more painful to see a shadow of the man play for Barça.

      Milan is a beautiful club which Puyol has always admired. I think that at his age, their defensive scheme would suit him a lot better than our high line. It would be a beautiful end of his career.

      He will always be a cule. He will always be our capita. He will always be loved. Going to Milan would not change that.

  12. From Barcastuff:

    Victor Valdes will stay for another season, until his contract expires in 2014, at the explicit request of Barcelona coach Vilanova. [sport]

    If this is true, then it’s bad business. We will not make a penny from his sale then.

    1. Depends on how you look at it. If we sell him now we might get 10M but we would need to spend at least twice that amount on another GK while we already have a lot of pressing needs.

      If we take care of business this summer then we can buy the best GK available the year after.

  13. So as per Sport we want to sign Thiago Silva, Isco, Neymar and Gundogan. Once again it looks like last summer’s case of putting everything in one basket. We never learn a damn thing. We have been struggling since Abidal was off for treatment and now we are looking at a situation where we could see losing two defenders and replacing with one. I have no idea how this is going to shape up. Also if Isco and Gundogan is coming then what about Thiago and Cesc or maybe Xavi himself? We may have to sell them all.

  14. How about a plan B 4-2-3-1 lining up like this: New Gk


    messi iniesta neymar?

    New guy(ST)
    & why is no one talking about falcao?

  15. I was at this match, and it was really interesting to see the WHOLE pitch and not just what the tv shows. A Messi-less Barca in the 1st half had width which made it difficult for Betis to defend. Sanchez, Tello, Iniesta and Villa where often down the wings with the option to either cross the ball knowing there would be someone in the box; or cut inside to shoot, play a pass through the middle or cut one back to midfield and rebuild the attack down either flank or centrally. They also counter-attacked at pace. Once Messi came on that width diminished, and everything seemed to go centrally and through him. Now that’s not a bad thing as his 2 goals show, but maybe the future of Barca is a plan B with a strong centre forward, dynamic attacking midfielders and wingers, and Messi being benched? I wonder how we would have fared in Munich, 1-0 down at half time, being able to hook Messi and bring on an attacker Lewandowski or Falcao, and an attacking midfielder like Luiz or Bale switch to our plan B of counter attack, width and balls into the box. I don’t think Barca need wholesale changes in the summer but they need to get both the cheque book and the tacticians notebook out if they are to return to the pinnacle of world football next season, and that means Messi neither starts – nor finishes – every single game.

    1. “but maybe the future of Barca is a plan B with a strong centre forward, dynamic attacking midfielders and wingers, and Messi being benched”

      You lost me there…

  16. Not a fan of Manchester United or Ferguson but it’s a sad day for football that he has retired.

    1. True that. Don’t have to be a fan to recognize that his achievements have been phenomenal.

      On a lighter note, we need a goal keeper. Bid for Casillas? We need a CB. Bid for Varane? It would be worth it just to see the dark side completely blow their fuses, what Mou already doing enough to make them want to pull their hair out! 🙂

    2. Wow. My thoughts exactly. I’d love to see that. Give Mou another year at EE & it might end up happening.

    3. Wow, that’s unexpected…

      Pep looked to have made the perfect choice only a couple of months ago. But with Bayern set to win the triple and Sir Alex retiring…

    4. I still think Bayern is a better choice for Pep than ManU. BM is on the way up, even with a treble they have the next 5 years to prove they are the new Barca. ManU is probably on the way down as its American owners will not be able to match City or Chelsea’s budgets for player acquisitions.

    5. Man Utd still is a big enough team to compete. More money does not always translate in trophies. After all, M*drid outspent Barça by more than 100M through the Pep years, right?

      I wonder who will take Ferguson’s place.

    6. I think Bayern fits Pep better in the sense that there’s no expectation there for him to stay long-term. I think if he had gone to Man U, they would have expected more than 3, 4 seasons out of him. Maybe they’ll change now that Fergie’s gone, but I can’t imagine seeing the usual coaching carousel that happens every few seasons with most clubs at Old Trafford.

    7. Not from where I sit. His retirement is the best thing to happen to football since the advent of the crossbar. Glad to see this bully retire. It should have happened years ago.

      Expect ManU to start understanding how Liverpool has felt the last 24 years or so — although not to that extreme extent. Their silverware tally will diminish over time but not to the same extent as it would have without Financial Fair Play. That team has been overperforming since Ronaldo and Tevez left because of his exceptional management. Great record and manager, no doubt. He’s not my cup of tea otherwise.

    1. Well, that’s your problem right there. You should never “expect” to win the CL. It’s an incredibly difficult competition for even the best of teams (ask Manchester United or Juventus). That’s what makes it so much fun to watch.

  17. Oh, and Puyol came out on twitter to deny the rumours about Milan. He says he is focusing on being on top form (in Barcelona!) next season.

    1. It’s panic mode time, and a lot of people are very unsure of the direction Barcelona is taking right now.

      That said, Puyol will never leave

    2. Commenting on a rumor is not the same as believing the rumor.

      Still, never is a big word. Pep left, too. And when Puyol is too old to get minutes / start games, signs of which we have all seen in the last season and a half, he might want to get those minutes elsewhere.

    3. Judging by the responses on twitter last night, a LOT of people believed the rumor.

      Pep was essentially cast out. I can’t see Puyol leaving through his own decision. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was cast out – I think that is where a lot of the uncertainty comes from and why people believed the rumor.

    4. What do you mean Pep was cast out? It was his own decision wasn’t it? Doubt he was influenced too much by the club politics, as he used to talk about players getting tired of coaching methods well before his final season(s).

    5. It was his own decision, he wasn’t forced out exactly.

      But the writing was on the wall. At the time he left there were a lot of back room hushed conversations about his lifestyle (and sexuality). He had a strong distrust for the board room. Even some fans had begun to turn.

      As Graham Hunter says “He jumped before he was pushed.”

      PS – interesting thinking back on why Pep left as a player, and how much it reflects what happened while he was the manager.

    6. Unless my memory is deceiving me, Pep was “cast out” in the sense that he would no longer get the playing time he was accostumed to. A very difficult transition for a captain to make. As such, he preferred to go elsewhere.

    7. Ah never saw Calvin’s reply… I don’t remember that at all.

      Then again, the coverage of the game and its entorno for somebody not in Catalunya in those years were a lot smaller than in today’s internet age, lol

    8. While all I know about Pep’s departure is from books and articles I’ve read, it’s still not entirely clear what happened behind the scenes.

      Some things never change. The happenings in the political circles and back rooms at Barcelona are as impenetrable as ever.

    9. Guardiola was never going to be happy with a president that didn’t just write the checks and ask “Where’s the party?” When RoSELL sold Txigrinski (a move I still don’t agree with) against Guardiola’s wishes, the writing was on the wall. Never forget that Guardiola was Laporta’s manager, not Rosell’s.

      The season to come for Guardiola will be interesting, as there is nowhere for Bayern to go but down, as they will probably win the treble. I just don’t think Dortmund have the horses to run with them. If he doesn’t duplicate that feat, supporters will be wondering why Heynckes was forced out.

    10. @kxevin uhmmm i think we were talking about when Pep left the first time, in 2001, lol.

      I agree that the prospect of Bayern winning the treble might make Pep regret his choice, especially now that the Man Utd position opened up.

    11. I think there’s some confusion here. Are we talking about Pep leaving as a player or as a coach? I thought as a coach, but apparently not.

      @Calvin: What was said about lifestyle and all?

    12. I was referring to Guardiola who, like Puyol, was a captain who came from the Masia and had only played for Barcelona before leaving to Italy near the end of his playing career.

      I thought the parellel was obvious but I am kinda old school, I guess. I should have made myself clear. Apologies!

    13. When Guardiola left the first time wasn’t part of my thinking. My reaction was to the notion that Guardiola was “cast out” as coach of the club. As a player, he left at the right time. A player such as that, if any diminution of physical capabilities is lost, he’s screwed.

  18. @Eklavya – when he was a player there were whispers about his sexuality due to his lifestyle (his love of theater, stupid stuff like that). Of course I wasn’t tuned in hearing this at the time, but Graham Hunter explicitly states it in a short segment of his book and I’ve read it in various other places.

    1. Come to think of it I heard that rumor mentioned but I never knew it played any part in his leaving the club.

    2. I never did either but I was reading graham hunter’s book last night and he made the link. Don’t know how strong of a reason it was but he was covering them then.

    3. Was it in “Barca: the making of the greatest team in the world”? I have that book. Should check it out again.

  19. Got this interesting bit from superinfojunkie from the Guardian;

    …True, but that was because Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona “B” team wiped the floor with Frank Rijkaards first team in an inter-squad match. All the starting 11 were there, Ronaldinho, Deco etc., and they got run off the park by Pep’s ferocious pressing football.
    It got so bad that one of Rijkaard’s assistants, sidled over to Guardiola and whispered in his ear to take it easy because he was making the gaffer look bad.

    The Barcelona suits were watching, and knew immediately that he was special. (Obviously the fact that Guardiola is Catalan to the core and a main member of those great Cruyff teams also had something to do with it).

  20. The cover of EMD today has us in for Valencia’s Mathieu. He’s a lefty, tall (1.92m), and is versatile (can play CB, LB, has played in midfield, and is red headed 😉 ). He could be an affordable 2nd defender to bring in this transfer window (not the world class CB that we should also get this window; but brought in as a supplement/squad defender). It seems that we like to shop from Valencia’s store.

    I haven’t researched his age and he seemed to have decent pace (from my memory).

    What do you folks think?

  21. So far, of all the names that have been bandied about in relation to Barca transfers, only one that I like is that of Gundogan.
    Please, No Thiago Silva. Yes, he is a great defender. But he’d be insanely expensive, is not getting younger and is extremely injury prone. Not the best investment by any stretch.
    As for Alex leaving, and whether Pep might have chosen wrongly, I am extremely certain, that Alex didn’t just wake up yesterday morning and decide to quit after 27 years. I am sure Pep was considered, and he may very well have turned it down for Munich. Of Course, if they do win everything this year, it may not be the best decision in retrospect, in terms of Pep upping his stock.

    1. I like Gündogan but I don’t see why we would spend money on reinforcing a midfield that is already pretty stacked. Unless you want to sell Cesc or Thiago of course.

      I think Sir Alex considered his decision for a long time. I would even suggest that he really wanted to step off last year, but how was he gonna retire having lost the league to cross-town rivals Man City? The short term solution named Robin Van Persie starts to make a lot more sense all of a sudden…

    2. Gundogan is a fine player but do we really need another midfielder? I’d rather spend on a CB, a scoring winger, a GK, and another CB before considering spending on a midfielder this summer. For me, midfield is the least of our worries.

  22. he short term solution named Robin Van Persie starts to make a lot more sense all of a sudden…

    1. he short term solution named Robin Van Persie starts to make a lot more sense all of a sudden…

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