A CB, a CB, my kingdom for a CB, aka “Who needs two?”

Barça's latest signing works out.
Barça’s latest signing works out.

So. Do I really need to say it? No. But I will anyhow:

We are not going to sign a centerback in the summer window


I know, I know … but we NEED one like sprites need a ball and oxygen, right? Right? Let’s natter a bit about this.

To my worldview, albeit a crazy one that is populated by squirrels, bunnies and things that go PING!, I would much rather sign no CB than the wrong CB. What, or rather who is right and who is wrong? Good question. This whole “Barça CB profile” is a magical creature of legend, 14 feet tall with four legs and as many arms as an octopus. It can run a 2-second 100-meter dash and has feet like pillows when a ball comes near them.

Clearly, this profile explains why none of the people currently on the market are of sufficient quality to warrant anything other than a sneer by our board and acquisitions staff. To my view, this smells like a law firm with partners who graduated from state and community colleges, who want to only hire Harvard Law graduates. But let’s remind ourselves about something.

Bartra is a B team promotion.
Puyol started life as an attacker, then a wing back.
Pique left the club, then was purchased for a song (no, not THAT one) from United.
Mascherano, in his own words, “isn’t a cornerback at all.”

So really, maybe the wandering, multifaceted nature at the roots of the roots of our present CB cadre, is the complexity here. The club can’t decide because hell, who knows where CBs come from (unlike babies, it must be noted, as the club’s diaper bill can attest).

Or maybe, just maybe, there are a number of factors at work here that aren’t as cray cray as so many of us suspect.


Yes, Javier Faus said that money won’t be an issue for the right player. As we all know, that right player was Thiago Silva, who isn’t moving, except to scoop up some more dosh from the ermine-lined coffers of PSG. So now what? Luiz? Puyol with bad hair and wanderlust, and Chelsea want 50m for him. Mangala? You tried negotiating with Porto for a third-party player with a starting price of 30m? Just checking. Agger? Expensive, and loyal. Vertongen? We had a chance and declined. There’s probably a reason.

Money spent in a silly way is money wasted. Would Luiz be a bargain at 50m, or a bit of startling madness? Have we entered the “buy a CB at any price,” realm? Not quite.


If we assume that Puyol is going to break leaving training today, our CB grouping is Pique, Bartra and Mascherano. Even if Puyol comes back hale and hearty, our CB options only increase by one, to four. But if you look at a team such as PSG, they are presently boasting Silva, Marquinhos, Sakho, Alex. Four. Most teams are carrying four CBs. So why is our situation so desperate? Let’s look at some potential combinations on the back line, to maybe find an answer there.

Alves, Pique, Puyol, Alba (The Gala back line)
Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba (The most likely back line)
Montoya, Bartra, Mascherano, Adriano (The Copa, early CL back line)
Adriano, Pique, Bartra, Alba (The SQUIRREL!! back line)

We have a host of combinations and options from which to choose, without even considering the versatility of our attack meaning that the likes of Adriano and Song can play CB, given what a Barça CB does in the Barça system, as opposed to what a CB does in say, the Manchester City or Chelsea system, which is a very different set of demands, explaining why a DM can indeed play CB for us. He’ll be spending half the match up by the halfway line anyhow, where that player will need DM-like skills.



In 2011-12, the termination of anno Guardiolus, the team scored 190 goals and conceded 48. (Copa)
In 2012-13, the team scored 158 and conceded 66, almost 20 more goals. (Liga)
In 2010-11, the team scored 147 goals and gave up 36. (Liga, Champions League)

So in a season where the team set a record in the Liga, winning the title, the team gave up almost 20 more goals. Where did those goals come from? Champions League, Copa, a few nutso Liga matches. The question is do those goals indicate that our defense is poor, and in desperate need of CB help.

For me, no. Those goals do indicate that we were running a very risky system last season, as well as some tactical flaws that were taken advantage of by opponents. But there are two things that we shouldn’t discount, those being the absurd spate of injuries visited upon our club, and the absence of its coach for a significant part of the season, something that derailed the evolution of a system that was really coming into its own in the first, record-setting part of the season.

Now, only a fool would say that this club doesn’t need a CB purchase, preferably two, to provide the depth as well as competitive pressure. What is going to make Pique straighten up and fly right if he has a guaranteed job as the first-choice CB? Valid question. What if Puyol is injured walking to tend his flock? Another good question. Are we crazy to assume, even expect that the same injury bug that bit the club last season will bite it this season? Man, enough with the questions already.

Is there blame to be apportioned? An even better question, as cules hurl invective against our new coach (dude is barely unpacked yet, give him a break), our sporting director, the board, the Camp Nou cleaning staff and lord knows who else. But the simple fact of the matter is that for whatever reason, people who know better than us have determined that none of the available CBs out there are worth the money or risk. Should be be satisfied with that? Well, unless one of us has a spare 50m laying about to donate to the cause, yes, even if we don’t have to like it.

So who IS at fault? Well, the market, for one, and its reshaping by the sugar daddy clubs such as Monaco and PSG. Not only have transfer fees increased, but up front money demands have spiked. Gone are the pay ya some now, more later over x years format. PSG paid 30m up front for Marquinhos. Yes, a team that is trying to pay attention, for whatever reason, to its pennies, isn’t going to be able to have a lot of fun in that market.

Is there a coach at fault? No, and yes. The need for a quality CB has been apparent for years. Guardiola didn’t buy one, Vilanova didn’t buy one, apparently Martino isn’t going to buy one. Should they have stomped their feet and said “I want a CB or I will hold my breath until I turn blue?” Possibly. Though really, only Guardiola had a fair shot at making that happen, and he had a CB sold out from under him.

So what about that damned technical director, then? Sure, he can make suggestions, but the board has to say “Sure. Here’s the money, now make it happen.” Clearly, those days are gone in a whiff of expensive shoe leather and cava. Now, it’s bargain hunting, right profiles and being fine with the players we have.

There are lots of factors influencing our non-purchase of a CB, but I do know this: Only a crazy person would think that the people in charge of this club aren’t doing all that they can to improve it. We natter about players, we bandy names about, but we don’t really KNOW, do we? We can only speculate. We do know that Puyol isn’t a signing. Puyol is an aging, increasingly fragile warrior who will give his all for the club until his body finally breaks for good. We know that we have a new coach with a new system, and high hopes that the return of the press will make our back line less vulnerable.

Beyond that, we don’t know much, except that apparently, according to one media outlet, we aren’t going to buy a CB. The other one is saying that this name or that is still in our orbit. So ultimately, we don’t have a clue.

Oh. There is one more thing that I know: Sandro Rosell and his board, even if they are doing it for their own selfish reasons, aren’t crazy enough to willfully let bad things happen to this club. Will that console me as Puyol sits on the bench with an ice bag on his knee, watching Pique go on mental walkabout? Nope. But I can hope that it will assist me in my struggle to understand decisions that none of us understand.

By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. Well, to me looking from the outside in the option of not buying a central defender is both baffling and frustrating.

    NO central defender for the third straight summer? Abidal was our best defender during his last complete season and he has never been replaced. Puyol was our best ever defender, but even when he is not injured he is not the Puyol of yesteryear.

    It is not just about this season either. We should have gone for Marquinhos who was available for about 30-35M. A player like Mangala might end up costing us north of 40M, and he might not be ready to be an automatic starter this year, but like Marquinhos he has the potential to become a pillar for our defense for the next ten years.

    Instead we do nothing. A high press will not replace Puyol or Abidal, both elite defenders who were at the top of their game and whose presence was very much needed when we pressed the hell out of opponents in seasons past.

    Then again, we are, like you say, looking from the outside in.

    1. Pay 30-35M for marquinhos?
      PSG aren’t just screwing up the market, They’re screwing with people’s heads too, They made it look fairly reasonable to pay this amount of money for a 19 year old, Who has been playing in Europe for only 1 year.
      The funny thing i don’t blame you for considering this, Something you’ll expect after years of frustration, To which cules have been subjected to.

    2. That player sells shirts…So Ro$ell will get his money worth..Marquinhos wont sell..

      Also, we wanted to pay 40M for that player..But there were clubs(damn! i hate those white shirt guys!) that were willing to pay much much more..So I kinda think Neymar is not such a financial loss as many think, considering his huge marketability(in Brazil and Asian markets)…

    3. I agree with you Levon. We are making ourselves look as a very poor club in business. It is common sense for clubs with good business sense to just increase the price, if they feel we are interested in their players, or to offer less if they need our players.
      Clubs dont care about if we make the money out of shirt sales or CL match fee or what not. All what they might look at is that we will buy for exorbitant sum and sell for cheap. The moment we show interest in any player, the price sky rockets.
      Which club would let go players like Abidal, Keita and Muniesa,the way we did.

    4. If the yday’s Italy – Argentina match occured one or two years before, Argentina would have lost it big. But yesterday Argentina proved that they are growing as a good defensive team. (this inspite of lacking the first choice R & LB – they still havent found the right LB, of course). But this solidarity was bought out by two youngsters, Garay and Fernandez. Inspite of having only few international matches, I am impressed how Sabella has turned them into a good CB duo. They will definitely grow into World class by next WC, it seems.

      I just want to say that there must be lot of small name players out there, like Garay and Fernandez, who can be groomed with time, especially when they can do it under the eyes of a player like Puyol. Why dont we look for such players. Why we only care about the big names. See what RM did with Varane.

  2. If the coach thinks the current players are adequate, Then there isn’t much that i can argue against, Ultimately he’s the one who has the best insight to the team and his future plans tactics for them.
    Now just because martino thinks it’s adequate, It doesn’t mean he wouldn’t welcome an addition of depth in the CB spot, A club at status such as ours shouldn’t strand itself on such a thin dangerous line, Precautions and some kind of insurances must be taken, They have to bring someone!.
    This leads me to the ‘pointing fingers’ portion of the post, I know it sounds tacky, But i can’t help myself, I don’t care how hard our system is, Or how inflated the market is, There is simply no way in hell that the only two best options left for us are aggar and luiz, It just can’t be, What are we paying our scouts for?, Or zubi as a matter of a fact.
    Anyway, If they decided to really ditch the CB pursuit, Then i just hope we get a good share of luck and fortune, It’s not the end of the world, And i’d rather we stay with no CB than to pay 40m for luiz.

  3. The issue of scouts keeps propping up every now and then…I feel it seems improbable that such a prestigious club like us which has a famed youth academy will not have good scouts…The thing I feel is the club is unwilling to risk having a unproven defender in the team and want a proven player.

    It seems strange to me, but I feel Barca are more than willing to field unproven midfielders, but are hesitant to do so with defenders and strikers…Of course exceptions are there, but this is the trend..
    Is it because our tactics give supreme importance to midfielders?
    We are worried about having unproven players as last line of defence or at the final third?
    Strikers sell shirts..so hey lets get the famous ones?
    problem with La Masia focus on technical skills most suited to a midfielder?

    Dunno…Hope the Powers To Be have it all figured it out…

  4. I hate to say this but Kxevin’s post has swayed me a bit, not to the point where I will be praising the board for not buying a CB lol, but at least acknowledge that it is not all doom and gloom if we don’t sign another CB.

    -Besides this isn’t the first season we’ve had a very thin backline, back in 11/12 we only had 3 main CBs (+ Abidal) and no back up to Alves (unless you consider Adriano one but he had to split with Maxwell for the LB role).

    -Also Looking back to our 10/11 squad we had a pretty stacked backline with 4 CBs plus Fontas, BUT looking at the average appearances between each player shows pretty clearly we had 3 main CBs with the other two featuring in a handful of games. In fact the app stats are almost identical between the two seasons.

    On the other hand we can only obtain limited information from our past seasons, for example we can’t foresee injuries or suspensions and we can’t predict that Puyol will be physically healthy or if Bartra can be a success. So the real concern is that there is a lack of investment from the board/staff to prepare for this uncertainty. It is this problem that has been repeated for the past three summers yet no action has been taken to address this. Except it is as if we are waiting for the planets to align so that conditions are perfect enough for our delicate squad to do its magic. But football doesn’t work that way unfortunately.

  5. Great post, thanks Kxevin. Really captures the issue perfectly, with all the issues and the right amount of necessary humor 🙂

    I agree that four center backs is not a bad thing. The thing is, that’s IF it’s four center backs you can count on. Last year, we couldn’t count on Puyi due to injuries, and Tito didn’t count on Bartra for whatever reason. That left us feeling like we had two center backs, which isn’t going to cut it. (And no, Adriano, you’re not a center back.)

    Puyol’s health and age we can’t do very much about. I do wonder whether Tata intends to count on Bartra more. If he got rotated into the mix early on, played in the lower-pressure games and really started to show his quality, before becoming a player we could count on in more important games later — that is a scenario I can get behind. Of course there are no guarantees, but if Tata at least intends to use him more, it could make standing pat make a little more sense. (A little.)

    That said… it may well be that Tito only wanted Silva, and that Marquinhos, Luiz, and Agger are all not good choices, either for the price or for the club. But I still have a hard time letting our technical staff off the hook. Isn’t it their job, with all the resources they have for scouting and all the knowledge they have about football, to know where they might be able to find a quality CB or two who isn’t yet valued at 30 million euros? What I *want* this team to do is to go ahead and pretend like they’re after Luiz, while really they are negotiating behind the scenes to obtain some brilliant 22-year-old only they know about from Belgium or Uruguay. Marquinhos last year, in other words. They showed that kind of courage in identifying and hiring our new manager; not a big name, but someone they think will fit the system. So why has our CB pursuit just been the leaking of one big name after another to the media, each one problematic for one reason or another? It’s no way to negotiate. It doesn’t seem serious.

  6. On another note inspired by the post… why did I not realize just how great our goal differential was in Pep’s last year? Quite a bit better than Madrid the same year (174/53), though they won the title; better than the Liga-winning years before and after. We didn’t distribute the goals as well as we could have, I suppose — too many blow-outs sandwiching 2-2 draws. But it gives me a different appreciation for that season.

    I used to follow North American baseball very closely, and in baseball, there is a notion called a “Pythagorean record”; you take the runs scored and allowed by the team, and estimate a “record” based on that. (For people who like formulas, the estimated ratio of wins/games is S^2/(S^2 + A^2), where S is runs scored and A is runs allowed; adding the squares looks like the Pythagorean formula for the hypotenuse of a right triangle, hence the name.) This estimate tracks the real record of teams pretty well, but of course it’s not perfect; sometimes a team scores a lot in some games but narrowly loses others, and then their Pythagorean record is better than the real one, or sometimes they do the opposite.

    What makes it interesting, though, is that people have claimed the Pythagorean record has predictive power: that if you want to know how good a team will be in the future, then their Pythagorean record, based solely on scoring, is actually superior to their real record. So you would predict a team with a better Pythag record to play better in the future than another team with a better real win/loss record.

    The idea, I suppose, is that scoring is a real skill, while the distribution of scoring between different games is much more about chance. A good team might score ten times in two games, and that’s skill; if the scoring is distributed as 5 in each game and they win both, versus scoring 10 in one game and 0 in the other (leading to a win and a loss) that’s luck. Even if it’s not totally chance, it’s chance enough that the Pythagorean record generated from scoring alone is apparently more predictive of future success than the real record.

    Of course, baseball and football are very different sports. But it seems clear we had a bad distribution of goals in 2011-12: we started the season, for example, winning three games 5-0, 8-0, and 5-0, but with two 2-2 draws to Valencia and Sociedad sandwiched in between. How much of this was bad luck? You could ask how much was the quality of the opponents. Yes, Valencia finished third that season; but two of the teams we crushed finished fifth and seventh, while Sociedad was all the way down at 12th. So it doesn’t seem like that was the issue. Home/road split seems to have been a much more serious issue. The road will always be worse, but was being so much worse more than chance? I tend to think of Pep’s last year as when players got tired, things started falling apart a little: but this makes me wonder how much it was just bad luck of how we bunched our goals that separated it from the other, more successful seasons. Anyway, I will stop with the ramblings. 🙂

  7. I know there are mitigating factors that have delayed the acguisition of a centre back but in my view i think it will be gross negligence if we fail to acquire one this transfer window. An issue becomes laughable when it becomes so blatantly obvious. If you ask a 10 year about our defense i bet he will tell it needs shoring up.

    We then say we won’t be investing in that particular area because we are covered. How is that defence that was so leaky the season before is transfromed into a proper one overnight. Let’s be realistic and own up to the realities that confront us; we should judge against what we saw in key games last season.

    Which brings me to the issue of the identity of the defender and our scouting and team led by Zubi. I think they have done a shoddy job as regards the CB situation. More of that later but you can’t tell me thy are not enough defenders who can’t play in our defense in leagues all over the world. That’s elitist drivel.

  8. At the end of last season, commentators were kind enough to say Barca missed in buying a good CB.
    This season, they will not be kind. They would say Barca made a blunder.
    Not that I care about commentators, but…

  9. I know many people in this space will raise eyebrow. But for me, the first thing i will do is sack Zubi and employ Wenger. Zubi is doing nothing aka ”incompetent” dragging this wonderful talented team down. How many years will it take for this problem to be sorted out? As for CB, if FCB had not contacted R.Sociedad for Inigo martinez ATM will be ridiculous. My best choice will be I.Martinez because of age,strong in the air,comfortable with the ball,thunderous shot,etc. His two goal from centre of the pitch says it all and can only get better! And he is spainish and can adapt easily. Other cheap choices will be Rami &Sakho. If we are going for big signing i will rather go all out for Jan Vertogheum. Better than David Luiz in defence. Both of them are 26,6.3f height, but in term of stats vertogheum is better in the air,better pass accurrecy,make more tackles per games,more goals,can play at LB. Luiz is good but Vertogheum is far better,just a pity we did not sign him last summer,sigh…
    If rumous are to believe that we have first option on Oliver Torres. Who will you like to have in our team between Olliver Torres ane Iker Gundogan? And reason for your choice? I know many will choose BVB wizkid,but i will surely take Oliver. It will sound sarcastic but Oliver is the nearest thing to Xavi. He also remimds me of pirlo too.

    1. Yes, when your club isn’t signing people and you want high profile transfers, Wenger’s the way to go…

    2. If Wenger was our Director of Football we’d only be signing youth teamers from the French second division. I don’t like that idea.
      Wenger has lost his way with Arsenal and I don’t think he’ll ever be the same again.

  10. totalbarca has it that barca is ready to pay 15M for Sakho and that of cos, he also ‘only wants to play for barca’ (as usual)

    1. I would suggest that TotalBarca is passing along yet another media source rumor. Sakho is out in the world, so his name will come up. There are no indications that anything is being done by the club in that direction.

  11. Here’s what I know.
    If we don’t plug in a gaping void, after having foolishly released a defender who knew our system like the back of his hand, and after failing to do so for 3 straight years, we DESERVE to get thulped by opponents 7-0 and more. We deserve to concede silly goals during corners and we probably deserve to lose big titles due to small differences. We (not we, but the club) DESERVES to suffer another spate of unfortunate injuries in our back line. It’s not that I’m wishing for these adversities to hit us. But All i Know is that it is common sense to pay attention to signs. Signs that are repeatedly shown to us and act upon them.
    You must not test your luck too much.
    Yes, we must hope for the best, no doubt.
    But we must also prepare for the worst.
    That is common sense.
    This is Bullshit.
    The club needs to convince the fans that they are on the right track, after a lot of setbacks and goof ups. Sorry But Neymar alone will not do it for me, even if it has for a lotta folks here, including the writer.

    1. Okay, take a deep breath …..

      Now. Surely you read above, where it is quite clearly written by “the writer” that we should be signing one, preferably two, CBs. Just checking.

      Further, nobody in their right mind is suggesting that the club should stand pat after the Neymar signing, so I suggest you cease putting words into the mouths of mods and commenters. We are ALL trying to get our minds around this situation and why the club is not acting to fill what appears to be an obvious need. Hasty, inflammatory comments don’t assist that process.

      I would never, ever say that this club deserves what it suffered in the Bayern tie, irrespective of how frustrated I might be. I always want the best for this club, even when it is being run by a weasel.

    2. Hasty? Inflammatory? Hmm.. I did think before typing that comment. So thanks for berating me. Hasty you say and yet you are quick to take the high ground to claim you would never say the club deserved that Bayern beating. Yet, if you read my comment, you’ll see that I say that club WILL deserve to suffer these painful defeats IF they refuse to do what they need to do. Peace.

    3. The team deserved to lose the match against Bayern, but 7-0 was skewed anyway. Remember the offside calls that weren’t made, the potential foul on Dani Alves not called and the blatant block on Jordi Alba could have canceled out a number of the goals.

      We were a disgrace in the second leg so the 7-0 goes into the record books.

      But we win and lose as a club so I can’t wish it to happen again because the distinction that you make between the ‘we’ as in the board and the ‘we’ as in the fans all make up Barca.

    4. ****there is no distinction between the ‘we’ as in the board and the ‘we’ as in the fans all make up Barca.****

    5. Thanks Ciaran.
      I wasn’t writing on what makes Barca. That distinction was important to be made, because the loyal fans DON’T deserve to be let down due to the incompetence of the board. Get it?

    6. What I’m saying is that Barca as a whole doesn’t deserve to lose because of the mistakes of a few board members.
      Rosell does want the best for Barca as a club but I don’t agree with his methods.
      One thing is for certain is that financially we’ll be in a very strong position because of him while I don’t think that it is altogether impossible to say that under Laporta we could have been given sanctions under UEFA’s FFP due to his own downfalls.
      Laporta wasn’t perfect either although his methods were certainly more entertaining.

      I strongly believe that not signing a centreback would be a monumental mistake that could be devastating to our season if we do run into the problems of last year.

    7. Very true, ciaran. As I said above, I can never and will never wish anything bad upon the club that I love. There is no action this club can take that will ever make me assert that it deserves a 7-0 thumping, but everyone is different, I suppose.

      And as for “berating,” Ultracule, no such thing has happened. But you simply can’t stomp into this space putting words and thoughts into mouths, mine or anyone else’s. If you have an opinion, even a strong one, that is fine. But you either willfully misrepresent what I have written above, or you didn’t read it, when you typed: “Sorry But Neymar alone will not do it for me, even if it has for a lotta folks here, including the writer.”

      That doesn’t, and won’t fly with me or anyone else who is misrepresented, because it can lead to situations in which someone is taking a stance on a position that isn’t theirs. And that isn’t cool. At all.

    8. I have tried to clarify my position below. Would appreciate your thoughts.
      As for me stomping in to the space and putting thoughts and words into mouths, isn’t that the point of a discussion space? To debate & discuss? I am sorry for the stomping into your space. But should I be sorry for raising a point? Especially when you have written on how defensive weaknesses can be alleviated with a Neymar type of acquisition? Let me know, I’ve no issues apologizing.

  12. I must however echo the fact that we can do without signing any more defenders IF the systemic issues and tactical flaws are sorted and IF we can avoid injuries like we have the past few years. But that second ‘If’ is a dangerous ‘if’ if taken for granted. Especially if you are returning to principles of fearless intensity. And if you want intensity, you need numbers. That’s the kind of plea fans are making to the board. Sometimes when you are ‘inside’ something, even know a lot more, you may fail to see things that are clear to someone from the outside. a different view point. A larger perspective.
    All this said, we may very well see Luiz or some defender still sign for us. Or we may not sign one at all. Either way, Am I going to support my team like I always have? Obviously. Will I be mad if we succumb to the predictable adversities again? You bet. Most of all, is the frustration to do with the incapacity of a fan to set things right? Absolutely.
    You seem to assert that people would be crazy to think that club is not thinking of doing whats best for the club. Tell me this, Is it crazy to think whether it is beyond this board to put some misplaced priorities before pure sporting matters on the pitch? Is it such a crazy thought? Surely not, as we’ve evidence of it in several cases recently.

    1. Good question. I wonder if the board doesn’t place so much value on the long-term financial health of the club that they are valuing that in a way that de-emphasizes the sporting project in ways that we supporters find vexing. In other words, they are doing what is best for the club, rather than the team in specific, if that makes sense.

      I think that Rosell and the board have too much riding on the success of this entity to screw it up. I trust craven self-interest as a motivator for doing the right thing.

    2. Exactly my thoughts. In fact in my first comment I sought to separate the ‘team’ from the ‘club’ for the sake of conversation, when I spoke of deserving suffering. But lets hope like you say that craven self interest will impact the sporting project positively.

    3. I think what keeps us sane is separating the club from the team, particularly in light of the latest allegations about Rosell and his Brazilian friendly dealings, involving offshore companies, full amounts of funds not received, etc.

  13. 1. Considering Puyol has been injured for more than half the season several years in a row, and Bartra played barely any minutes last year, the team really only has 3 CBs (each of them is worth a half).

    2. From 2011-2012 to 2012-2013 there was almost a 40% increase in goals conceded. Huge.

    3. “absurd spate of injuries” – that seems to happen every season. Due to lack of depth, not luck.

    4. “people who know better than us… should we be satisfied with that?”
    NO. They have proven they can’t make the right decision for several seasons in a row concerning this issue. We should not at all be satisfied with their continued incompetence.

  14. So it’s yet another “The Club can do No Wrong Post”.

    When Abidal was let off, I think you said similar stuff. Like – the club docs knew better etc. What happened with Muniesa no one knows. So as you said we got Bartra, Mascherano, Puyol and Pique for center back position. We lost Abidal and Muniesa but still we don’t need cause we also have Song, Busquets and Adriano to fill in the CB position.

    So why on earth we were creating so much noise about a CB? Now we have got Neymar also, so that means teams like Real Madrid, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Dortmund etc are wetting their pants.

    So the club management is always right. We just blindly believe them. If it fails then it’s due to our Xavi going down.

    1. Your confusing things.
      There is difference between trying to infer decisions and actions taken, And designated them as right or wrong actions.
      I can guess why the club chose not to renew for muniesa and abidal, In other words see things from their perspective, But weather their decisions were ultimately right or wrong, Is a different matter, And a subjective one i might add.
      Just because someone tried to view things from the board’s perspective doesn’t automatically designate them as doing things the right way, Or that they can’t do better.

    2. Somehow I don’t think that was the point that Kxevin was trying to make. He quite clearly states that he would like us to sign a defender, he actually says he wants two. The problem is that at the moment none of the CB’s in the market are realistic targets. Either because they are too expensive or because their clubs will not sell them. Who is there? Siva? Clearly impossible. David Luiz? For 50m? That’s a joke. Agger? Injury prone and wont leave anyways. Kompany? Again, no chance. So who is left? You have younger unproven players like Mangala who would still end up costing north of 30m for a player who may or may not end up being good enough? No thanks. Sakho for 15m would be a good deal, but does he want to go to a club where he isn’t guaranteed a spot. Probably not. Also I am not convinced he is good enough either, otherwise would he really be riding the bench at PSG? Who is left? Who would you sign if you were in charge because I really don’t see that many realistic options.

      Yes the club needs to sign a CB, but the simple truth is that might not be possible and not because the club isn’t trying their hardest but because the market conditions do not allow for it. Not only are they looking for a CB but one is good enough and experienced enough to pretty much immediately slot into one of the toughest positions in the world. A world class CB is hard enough to find as it is but one that fits into our system, pfff, I can count the candidates on one hand and they are none of their clubs will sell them because they are such rare commodities. As for buying younger, inexperienced, unproven players. Why? We have players like that who at least know the system like the back of their hands. I would rather give Bartra more playing time than spend 35m on a 19 CB like Marquinos who has 1 good season in Europe under his belt.

      As frustrating as it is I am not sure there is much that can be done about the current situation. It is what it is. We will do the best we can with what we have, hope for few injuries and I bet we will still end the season with some major trophies.

    3. It makes me happy to be read AND understood. Bless you, Hilal.

      He quite clearly states that he would like us to sign a defender, he actually says he wants two.

      AllAboutFCBarcelona, let’s be clear about something. If you want affirmation, go somewhere else. If you want (hopefully) interesting posts that look at ALL sides of an issue, not just the ones that kowtow to often-misguided cule sentiment, you’re in the right place.

      You can’t not see the parts of a post that don’t fit your worldview, then attack the writer for not saying something that he or she very clearly says. It makes reasoned debate impossible.

      And which Abidal post do you reference? The one that is outraged that the club didn’t renew him? Is that the one you reference? Here is its first paragraph:

      The club has taken a great many decisions in its long, storied history, but none that I find more detestable than the decision to say goodbye today to Eric Abidal.

      Please explain to me how that can be construed as “the club can do no wrong.”

      Or above:

      Now, only a fool would say that this club doesn’t need a CB purchase, preferably two, to provide the depth as well as competitive pressure.

      I don’t mind being argued with, or called a fool. I just want it to be for the correct reasons.

    4. Posted the reply below accidently.

      You cannot stand at this point of time and argue that you would not take into consideration what transpired before while making a judgement. That’s biased!

      The key is that this scenario wasn’t created by PSG or Monaco; it was solely our creation. You cannot look at this now and say that the cost has escalated. What was the club doing at the start of the transfer window – day dreaming! See my answer posted just below.

      The basics of identifying and fixing an issue is to identify it early. As per the club they identified it early. They made it even worse by letting Muniesa and Abidal go. But just forgot the business of fixing it. As time passes price escalates, especially when people know about our desperation. That’s normal; that’s the fact of market. The one who is desperate needs to pay more; there is no universal justice here.

      At this moment we got no option but to buy a CB who can add some height; it doesn’t matter who it’s going to be. Otherwise we will look rather silly while playing the top teams in Europe. And there is no way we are not conceding corners and free kicks.

    5. Dude! Really? Did you actually read the post?

      Why can’t there be discussion without b*tching at each other? No wonder the mods don’t post as frequently as before.

      *goes back to twitter world*

    6. Whether I should quit commentinng or not, I will decide!

      “But the simple fact of the matter is that for whatever reason, people who know better than us have determined that none of the available CBs out there are worth the money or risk”

      This particular situation didn’t come up just now. Let’s go back to the start of last season or better last season itself. Last season taught us one lesson that we cannot play against big teams with both Puyol and Abidal missing. Let’s be clear – it wasn’t Bayern alone, Real Madrid messed with us, Milan did, PSG did(we got through due to a limping Messi inspiration)… I never wanted us to sign any defnder – I was clearly looking at the prospect of seeing Abidal and Muniesa giving enough cover. Even then if we are stuck with an injury crisis, so be it. But teh first thing Rosell gets done is to frustrate Abidal and he leaves. Shortly Muniesa leaves. It’s not that he was important but still he counted as another body.

      Kxevin says that the price is too much now to go for a CB. I do agree. But this situation didn’t come up just yet. Abidal and Muniesa went pretty early in the transfer window. Monaco did screw the transfer window but which of our targets were they interested in? In that case PSG moved pretty late for Marquinhos. There was no indication that they were interested in him at any point till we started talking about how we have got Marquinhos as cover if Thiago Silva move fails. We had enough time before PSG moved for him to at least present an offer. But we were after absolutely unattainable targets. Simply we could have gone for him or Inigo pretty early.

      There is a notion you guys want to cultivate about how PSG and Monaco screwed the market. Absolutely false. We screwed it for ourselves. Without even realising the possibility of signings, we let go off two guys. Out of that one was really crucial to our systems. I do agree that right now all CB options are priced really high, but we have no one else to blame only us. That means Rosell and the Board and the Sporting director takes the blame.

      If you have an injury you usually treat it early; but if you don’t it becomes really expensive to treat it later. The same is happening here. We lost two defenders almost before the transfer window opened; instead of signing possible defenders we wasted precious time dreaming of fantasy signings; now this late we cannot do with a signing – and it will be expensive. Don’t blame PSG or Monaco for that; it’s expensive because everyone knew our desperation. Rosell, Zubi and the board are to be blamed for that, no doubt. You cannot look it now and say everyone is expensive now. You have to look at what transpired before that and all those waste times. You cannot go to a point of time where your point of view holds good; and just simply ignore how we let things come to that.

      The situation is pretty bad now. we are starting with a back line of tiny people now. Puyol is not sure to come any time soon and can’t be rushed. All our opponents have seen our weakness from corners last season itself. You cannot sit here and say that it cannot be as bad as last season as injury crisis rarely struck twice, But you guys conveniently forget that we already has lost one guy and it will only take one more injury to take us back to all the crisis point.

      The blame of the entire scenario lies with the board. There is no point in shielding them. I do understand that Muniesa and Abidal could have seriously bad season. But you cannot let two players go with absolutely no idea or plans to sign their replacements. What was actually the board’s plan. Would you care to explain? As far as I understand, the board was planning on Thiago Silva and David Luiz forcing a move out of their respective clubs. I don’t think they had any plans beyond that. And here you guys are seriously blaming that on PSG and Monaco. Our board being clueless is not their fault. Just because the Qatari family is close to Rosell does not mean they will dance to his tunes.

      I repeat – “We have two extremely lucky to see this issue not hurt us this season”. I do expect this to hurt us pretty early. And for the record, I am not the one who is going to believe the cycle has come to an end. We still got players who could kick start the cycle again. But there is a high chance that the cycle could come to end soon, and the coach nor the players are to be blamed for that. The board takes all the blame for that.

  15. For me there are three problems… quality, depth and versatility.

    This is a matter of opinion and in reality only one person has been tasked with that job… Tata Martino. I think Tata is happy with what he considers to be his first choice defense: Alves Pique Masch Alba with Busquets in front.
    Alves & Montoya and Alba & Adriano all provide enough quality in the full back positions and no one has ever really foreseen any change in those positions.
    Pique and Masch are both world class players and form a decent combination. Bartra probably has enough talent to get through the lower level teams and hopefully with that experience will become the player that he looked like he could be. Puyol is unlikely to perform at the same level as he did before even if he regains his fitness. He will have lost pace and if he does continue to defend in the same way (giving 100% effort 100% of the time) he will continue to get injured.
    In terms of quality, I think we need another player at the level of Mascherano at least with extra aerial ability for the tougher matches.

    Having four fully fit and trusted defenders would probably be enough for most teams, but the intensity that we play with generally means more rotation is needed and more injuries occur. Add to that the recent injury history of Puyol and the apparent lack of trust in Bartra then we certainly don’t have enough depth.
    If we take 4 defenders and 1 defensive midfielder as our defense in terms of players then we have exactly 10 players for 5 positions; 2 of which (Puyol & Adriano) have poor injury records.
    I believe that with 60+ potential matches that we are 1 player short.

    Currently our 4 fullbacks are all very similar defensively, all below 6ft and all attack minded.
    Our centrebacks don’t all make up the best combinations, Pique & Bartra (pace) or Puyol & Masch (height). Even when you add Busquets and Song, the issue of pace is similar to the combo of Pique and Bartra.
    For that reason, a defender with height and pace is necessary even if they are not the best with the ball at their feet.

    Vertonghen, Luiz, Sakho, Agger & Rami would all satisfy the needs in my opinion.

    1. Great video. For me, Messi has been the answer to the “next Xavi” question (as much as that is a meaningful concept) for years now. I still see the pass to Villa for the fourth goal of the manita clasico in my dreams.

      Enjoyed seeing all of Leo’s combinations with Cesc when Cesc was first at Barça, before he got reined in. I hope we can see more of that in the future.

  16. wow..
    I see a lot of people losing their cool due to frustration and letting off steam by arguing with other commentators and the writer..

    The writer has tried to take everything into consideration and tried to explain why the acting they way it is acting..No harm done…

    If we don’t sign anyone, I assume the frustration will only increase and keep popping up whenever we concede a goal..smh..

  17. Kxevin. The crux of your article is;

    Quote: “To my worldview… I would much rather sign no CB than
    the wrong CB.”

    Therein, I sense a bulwark against taking RISKs, and I do not share in such sentiments.

    Now, allow me to be less smooth, and say it the way I see it, roughly.

    I want you to picture a Mobius Strip, made with a piece of paper and tape. If an ant were to crawl along the length of this strip, it would return to its starting point having traversed the entire length of the strip, without ever crossing the edge. That is how I see the “CB Snag”. We’ve been living through this Snag for some three years and on, trying to fix it and never coming to a fix. We’ve lived through it, hoping we wouldn’t get blitzed by it, and hoping and hoping. But curse luck, last season we were; were literally torn by Bayern, into pieces like a shattering porcelain. And plans popped up, almost immediately, to finally fix what defensive glitch existed, and also… to puzzle-out an almost twin glitch, too — “Messidependency”.

    So we were promised by Rosell, at the Season End, some four signings; the fixes, that is.
    A Striker or two, and, a Defender or two (my emphasis). But it now seems he was merely trolling his hands in stand-up comedy (did Jay Leno just, scoff?). Oh, well.

    Now, we have; no defender, no new signing (oh, sorry. O Ney! Yes), no something.
    Okay, ahoy. This is my argument, in my own tark and locution.

    Realistically, MESSIDEPENDENCY was a problem, yes — but a lesser one, compared to the CB SNAG, no? OR, they both weigh equal KG in the problem scale, yes?
    Okay, to cut the Gordion Knot of MESSIDEPENDENCY, we took a risk, yes, a RISK. We bought Neymar. A young player without no laddle of European-experience.
    A show-boating player who doesn’t settle into our “system profile”.
    A player that raises thoughts of a personality clash with Messi [oh, you could say; hell! — both have been all over each other; playing tic-tac-toe like tots, laughing over some joculars, hugging, cheek-kissing, et c. No possibility of a clash!]. Well, that’s simply a gesture potemkin, until we lurk through mid-season, there hangs the possibility of some clash.
    So yes, we took the RISK, and got him, for north of €50m.
    Now, MESSIDEPENDENCY: ?checked.

    We are left with the CB SNAG, which is of equal glitch magnitude? Nay, more of a PROBLEM, I believe, and most too.
    So there sprouted some Barcelona Legend, a profiling myth, which I still fail to grapple with, or have come to snort in.
    Okay, let’s see.
    We need a ball playing defender(s) to fix the CB SNAG, just as we needed a non-showboating forward to puzzle-out the MESSIDEPENDENCY.
    We need a defender, SURE and EXPERIENCED, that would be a starter and wouldn’t flop in fixing the CB SNAG, just as we needed a forward, SURE and EUROPEAN-EXPERIENCED, that would be a starter and wouldn’t flop in puzzling-out the MESSIDEPENDENCY.
    We need not spend north of €50m for a defender — a RISK, who might not fix the CB SNAG, just as we needed not spend north of €50 for a forward — a RISK, who might not puzzle-out the MESSIDEPENDENCY.

    Yes. Neymar, a risk, is marketable. Rosell can recover seven folds the money, just as Luis, a risk, marketable, he could also recover the bucks, albeit not in seven folds.

    Chalking up the non-possibility of a Luis-buy to the factoid, of it, being a risky venture, and a too-much-bucks deal, is totally absurd and pathetic when you look at the Neymar-ic transfer.
    If Neymar is widely seen, by uncounted pundits, to be a risky buy to puzzle-out the MESSIDEPENDENCY, why can’t Luis be afforded the luxury of such risk, for the CB SNAG — a more thorny problem?
    And no, don’t get me wrong. I’m in no plot comparing NEYMAR with LUIS. I, simply, am, in objectified examples, knocking over the COSTs and RISKs of the buys that might puzzle-out the MESSIDEPEDENCY and the COSTs and RISKs of the buys that might fix the CB SNAG.

    Per, Corneille Pierre:
    To eat an egg, you must break the shell.

    Per, Mignon Mclaughlin:
    The policy of being too cautious is the greatest risk of all.

    Now. High Pressing would be interesting, and would go a healthy way, but cannot fix the CB SNAG. It requires an utmost histrionics and torridity of game play and run-ins from every player, and this papers over to a high propensity of injuries and exhaustion.
    Cases of injuries. If Pique, Mashe, Puyol, and Adriano (alias, the default state of injury) are down or something, in the most needed fixtures of the Season (read: UCL knockouts, Copa knockouts, and must-win League matches), we resort to playing make-shifts? Like we always have been doing? (Insert: the mobius strip metaphor). And oh, clanging on hope and luck this Season/Half — per the CB SNAG — is just as ludicrous as hoping and believing you wouldn’t trip while walking along a thin-line rope, laid a-top a series of masts.

    Short and simple. For High Pressing to work effectively, we need depth.
    In attack: checked.
    In midfield: checked.
    In defence: unchecked.

    Yes, in the heart of defence, we have Pique; who is consistently inconsistent. Mashe; not a natural defender. Batra; not tested and trusted. Bagnack; oh, stop it! Puyol; sigh. That is not enough depth. We need DEPTH in the CB Cadre — a defender or two. And High Pressing cannot, cannot be a substitute for it.

    And well, Kxevin, did you say Rosell and his board are doing, whatever they are doing, for their own selfish ends? Be this so, how reasonably sure are you, that they cannot let bad things happen to the Club, deliberately or not, since they put themselves first, second, and the Club — third?…

    Okay. Yeah, we are looking from the outside. Yeah, we really don’t KNOW. Yeah, we can only speculate. But yeah too, we can speculate, and chalk-up reasonable, reasonable syllogisms.


    1. Simply put because by damaging the club, they damage themselves. So self-interest drives them to do the right things for the wrong reasons, so to speak.

      If we spend 50m for Luiz, the cules who don’t die in the aftermath of an apoplectic fit would do so the first time Luiz was out getting a soda while a counterattack formed. Cules can’t even take the idea of Sanchez fluffing a batch of easy chances, and he only cost 30m or so, right?

      Pursuant to any risk is an attendant reward. An expensive CB signing should be a real upgrade. An inexpensive one should provide depth, but quality depth that will be better than what we have on hand. So we have two categories, epitomized by player names: Luiz (expensive) and Mathieu (quality depth).

      In trying to look at it through the club’s eyes, is a Luiz better than a Pique or Puyol, meaning an automatic starter in the Gala XI? Nope. So what does your 50m buy you, except for big shampoo bills? Good question.

      In the Mathieu, is he that much better than Bartra where the 15-20m required to prise him loose will be money well spent? That is, when you look down the bench in search of a defensive sub, will Mathieu immediately leap to mind in that “Eureka!” moment? Again, good question.

      If the answer to either question is no or maybe, there’s your reason, as well as the example of the quandary that the club faces. Are we really going to sit a healthy Puyol? Nope. Which means that we spend 50m on the likes of Luiz, who really is a risk from the sporting view, for what?

      Hope that makes sense.

  18. By the process of elimination delineated by a user above (Hilal, I think),then quite simply nobody is good enough to play for Barcelona, and even if they are good enough, their clubs would not want to let them go. That’s I think the attitude that got us into this mess. After Chygrynskiy’s alledged failure (with which I disagree)the club has been unwilling to invest, because, as we say, everyone is too expensive, or too unsuited, or too unwilling to sign for us. So now we’re left sucking our thumbs, having had to play Barta against Bayern. I harp on about this constantly, I know, but last year two defensive players were indeed available. They were expensive, very much so, but they were I think what we needed. The board cheapened out and we all know the results. Now they’re doing the same thing expecting, perhaps, different results.

    1. Exactly. As I outline above, who is going to automatically sit Puyol or Pique? Thiago Silva? Maybe. But who else? So every option is a very expensive benchwarmer or rotation player. It’s a problem. Things almost have to get so bad that the quality and skill sets of available defenders becomes more acceptable, in context.

    2. Out of curiosity, whom would you sign? Would the money you had to spend be an issue, even if we really needed the investment?
      A lot of hard decisions have to be made. I understand and appreciate it. If the money is a problem, then the club should come out and say so. A lot more people would be a lot more understanding. Instead Faus said “money’s not a issue.” great. If it isn’t, then where are the defenders?

    3. Me, personally? Javi Martinez or Mangala, for two very different reasons. Mangala would stick under Puyol’s wing and learn to be a Barça CB, to gain the specific skill sets to accompany his size, strength and agility.

      Martinez already has those skills.

      Note the name I did NOT say: Thiago Silva.

      Re the Faus quote, I reckon he meant “for the right player/profile.” We would have spent 45m for Thiago Silva, were PSG willing to sell.

    4. I’ve never seen Mangala play, so I can’t say anything. Martinez might have required a tactical switch to the 4-2-3-1 and might have signaled the end of Xavi with FCB. Had I been the coach I would have proceeded in a sec. I rate Martinez quite highly but he has to be used as a strong Yaya-like DM to get the best of him, as Heynckes did during the Bayern’s trebble.
      Some of the prices floating around are rather ridiculous, even going as far as $35mil (or more) for Marquinhos. But honestly I think the club has only itself to blame. It thought it could keep winning with the same defensive setup as the legendary 2011 one and spent the money on Sanchez and Fabregas, instead of, say, Hummels or Martinez. It should have been obvious after the Chelsea disaster but Rosell cheapened out.

    5. Oh, definitely. Make no mistake, this club values a healthy bottom line as much as trophy celebrations, and for many, that’s a problem. As a soci, I am torn. I would hate to see the club damaged by fiscal irresponsibility, but I have yet to see any concrete evidence that such things were going on during Laporta’s tenure.

      He was never going to be able to have a presser to boast about record profits, to be sure. But I think that the club took a risk, and now that risk isn’t paying off in the way they had hoped. They hoped that Pique would be more stable, that Puyol would be more durable, that one of the Masia CBs would pan out in a meaningful way.

      None happened, and now the wait is too late, because all of the people who would fit the profile are either gone, or very expensive.

    6. With that in mind, we might as well save the money for next year. It’s too late now anyway, and David Luiz will I suspect make little difference. The entire set up will have to change. Either Alba or Alves will need to be told that we cannot affor to have them both bombing forward leaving the CDs as exposed as they were this season past.

    7. “After Chygrynskiy’s alledged failure (with which I disagree)the club has been unwilling to invest…”

      Have you forgotten the expensive Zlatan debacle?

    1. That story was regarding one game. The new allegations involve over 20 games. There is an outstanding warrant for Rosell in Brazil, which is why he doesn’t go there anymore.

    2. As far as my knowledge there is no warrant for rosell, And hence no formal charges.
      I don’t see a reason why should we jump the gun on this one, Not long ago messi was accused of tax fraud, But i don’t think anyone had any second thought weather he’s innocent or guilty.
      So unless sandro is formally charged and found guilty, I have no reason to be concerned by this.

    3. But Messi WAS guilty. He and his camp have agreed to a repayment schedule. It wasn’t “fraud,” per se, as much as an aggressive willingness to try to get around paying tax.

    4. I don’t really know what eventually happened with messi, I stopped following his news to be honest, The last thing i remember is that there were news of a settlement, Then messi’s lawyer’s denied it, If something concrete happened after that then i have no info about.
      By the way, A settlement is not an admission of guilt, It’s a way to resolve ‘disputes’ between two parties, Being guilty only happens after the court judge someone as such.

  19. Have been linked to this on Twitter: @rosell_dimissio

    Not that many followers right now and it’s en Catala, but the account is very active, and links to a petition. Again, there is that 15% hurdle, and I would be curious to know how many of the people who have already signed are socios.

    1. I wonder how much petitions laporta would’ve got if he still was the president in the twitter era.

  20. As you said earlier, Kxevin. Your contribution is your world view (and I take it as such), the way you see it, which is very different from mine. So, it’s your POV against mine. Does that help?

    Quotes, Per Kxevin.

    Quote: “If we spend 50m for Luiz, the cules who don’t die in the aftermath of an apoplectic fit would
    do so the first time Luiz was out getting a soda while a counterattack formed. Cules can’t even take the idea of Sanchez fluffing a batch of easy chances, and he only cost 30m or so, right?”

    Expecting Luis (if got) to stifle every counter is as absurd as expecting Messi to convert every chance he gets. If there would be apoplexy in that Luis instance, would there also be such when Neymar, a hugely expensive and risky buy, fouls up a goal-scoring chance that would cost us a match?
    Sanchez was got 30m+, and he did lay to trash a phalanx of chances, a fair coin for his keelhauls. Luis hasn’t been got, oh, I hate optative propositions!

    Quote: “In the Mathieu, is he that much better than
    Bartra where the 15-20m required to prise him loose will be money well spent? That is, when you look down the bench in search of a defensive sub, will Mathieu immediately leap to mind in that “Eureka!” moment? Again, good question.”

    Yes, he would he would he would he would. Mathieu is MUCH, MUCH better than Batra, or are you kidding me?

    Quote: “Exactly. As I outline above, who is going to
    automatically sit Puyol or Pique? Thiago Silva? Maybe. But who else? So every option is a very expensive benchwarmer or rotation player. It’s a problem.”

    A fit Puyol, now, is not a fantastic Libero. And Pique has shown us he is not consistent. Asides Thiago Silva (who’s more of a Libero than the aforementioned two now), I’d readily pitch a David Luis ahead of them. Yes, he, in no way, would be an expensive bench sitter or a rotation player, no way. And yes he is a sporting risk, so as Neymar!

    Quote: “Things almost have to get so bad that the quality and skill sets of available defenders becomes more acceptable, in context.”

    No, I don’t subscribe to that. Once things get bad, as it is now, they should be a running for its fixing, and not when they get almost SO bad. Akin to one waiting until he gets almost SO drowned before he calls out for help?

    As I said from the outset, it’s your POV against mine. I hope that still helps.

    1. Understood. Note that those are questions, rather than statements of opinion. Personally, I wouldn’t buy Luiz or Mathieu, but in my ideal world, J. Martinez or Mangala.

      The club a huge risk that Pique would be stable and Puyol would be durable. Both risks have failed, and now it is between a rock (limited selection) and a hard place (those selections are expensive).

      Your point about Luiz perfectly illustrates my point about why I think the whole “Buy a CB NOOOOWW!!!” thing is overblown. If the tactics work properly, we are fine with CBs. If they don’t, we are screwed no matter who we have, but we still desperately need quality depth.

      Also note that my Luiz example was simply the reaction of many cules in the price/performance context, rather than any personal worldview. My personal view is that players are going to screw up. Even the most expensive ones. And people need to get over “We paid X million, he should be perfect and crap goals” thing.

      My comments are a pain in the butt, in that they don’t always reflect my view per se.

  21. This made me smile , from Barcastuff :

    French club PSG are monitoring the situation of Andres Iniesta and consider a bid. . [le10sport]

    Is it me or is it becoming a little personal with this club ?

    1. “If Barca pays the buy-out clause for Thiago, I will pay the clause for Lionel Messi.” – Nasser Al-Khelaifi(PSG owner)

      Yes..it is getting personel…

  22. Oh, well. Mais eh bien. We agree to disagree.
    I understood you, too.

    Ahoy. The Transfer Window is not closed yet. And what is that phrase about crossing fingers?


    1. Not sure on that, guys. If Abidal had stayed he could double up at CB which meant we wouldn’t really have needed to consider dropping 40m on a new one. I actually liked him more when he moved to CB than I did at LB despite original misgivings.

      His salary when put against the above doesn’t really register. Especially as it would likely have been a one year contract.

    2. Good question. Maybe he wouldn’t take it, maybe it never entered the picture, maybe they just didn’t want to take the risk, who knows?

  23. I’m not a regular poster here, and although unrelated to the article, I couldn’t help but notice the mention of “the next Xavi.” Kevin, I watched the video and completely agree with you that Messi could one day fill that role…but I don’t agree that he should. Perhaps playing him deeper would benefit the team, but for me there is no replacement for Xavi, not even Messi. Thiago wasn’t, Fabregas and Inniesta aren’t, and Sergi Roberto won’t be either. I think that we need to adapt our tactics, while still sticking to our philosophy. All the players that I mentioned bring an amazing skill set to the table, and it would be crazy to say that an unstoppable midfield couldn’t be created. I won’t get into details about tactics, as I don’t have enough knowledge regarding the subject, but all I’m trying to say is that rather than trying to directly replace star players, maybe it would be easier to try and focus on adapting.

    Xavi won’t play regular minutes for much longer. Everyone talks about our defensive combinations, and our attacking combinations…but it’s rare when our midfield is questioned. I wouldn’t mind if Tata tried experimenting with different combinations, and more playing time for players like Sergi Roberto and Song. Tito was a good coach, but didn’t bring a lot of variety to the table. I hope to see Tata fix that problem, and bring back a degree of unpredictability.

    1. It is evolution not revolution…
      I also think that it is a necessary evolution because other teams seem to have our/Xavi’s number. Not saying that he isn’t a great player or that he should be thrown away but in the biggest matches last year he was not at his best.

      A midfield trio of Cesc, Busquets & Iniesta is certainly more attacking between Cesc’s off the ball forward runs and Iniesta’s running forward with the ball.

      It will mean that our defense and offense will have to change in order to successfully accommodate the changes in our midfield

    2. When Messi loses that magical burst that makes what he does so possible, he becomes a guy who can retain possession, keep the ball moving with movement, but who can also pick out the killer pass. He is as close as this team will ever see to a Xavi replacement, although Sergi Samper, if he develops the way so many anticipate ….

      But yes, also an evolution, one that I think we will begin to see this season. Note already how Messi has been playing a more 10-like role in the pre-season. I don’t think that is an accident.

    3. There’ll be plenty minutes to share around the mids now that Thiago is gone and that’s as it should be but for my money Xavi will be there for the big ones – hopefully a bit fresher than he was at times last season.

      Not sure it’s fair to single out Xavi for not playing well. Re-watched the Bayern away game again last weekend and can’t believe the number of things that went against us that I’d forgotten over time. It was just Bayern’s night. However, the main points as far as Xavi was concerned were the state of the middle of the park which was almost unplayable and the lack of Messi’s movement. We carried absolutely no threat.

      Seeing that we should have shut up shop, Imo.

  24. Interesting post by Kxevin. Balanced but I feel a tad too optomistic. I think you have failed to take into account context. It was one thing not having depth in defending and make-shift defenders during the early Guardiola era but the context has now changed. Our style of play is no longer novel in the eyes of European coaches they’ve adopted strategies to overcome our brand of football. In terms of attack, teams have realised that barca is weak against two key aspects. Set-pieces and counter-attacks. Time after time these weaknesses have been exposed Chelsea, Madrid, Milan, Celtic, Bayen, PSG, Inter. Teams plan their whole attacking strategy against us based on those two weaknesses. Now I completely agree with Kxevin our defence as it stands would most likely cope with attacking teams in la liga maybe barring Madrid when it comes to guarding against exploitation of these wekanesses but it is in Europe where our lack of an established centre back pairing will hurt us.

    Adriano and Mascherano are not central defenders. Batra is inexperienced and Puyol is physically incapable of maintaining the intensity he plays with for even half a season. Not signing a centre-back is not something that will ruin our season we could win la liga and the Kings Cup. But as for Champions League… Unless our Puyol and Pique are fit and rested for the final stages our chances our slim.

    1. Aha! So the question becomes how did we become vulnerable to those two things?

      Set pieces is easy. You drill in practice about doing everything possible to avoid corner kicks, and if you’re going to foul, do so where it won’t hurt the team. You can watch a good Premiership side and get a master class on that.

      But that second aspect is the one that we saw exploited by everyone from Depor to Bayern, and its roots are in an aging general and loooong midfield lines.

      Look at a team from the Treble season, and note how compressed the team was. It was all short passes and short lines. If you got past one layer of pressers, there was another. If you got past that, the back line was pressed up, including a LB who was fast, rangy and powerful.

      Last year, Villa and Pedro were hugging the sidelines, Messi was standing up front, Alba was running around in the opposition box and Alves was as well. So when an opponent got the ball, that direct attack of Xavi and Busquets became so much more possible. And once you got past them, you got at defenders who aren’t real defenders, so of course they are going to screw the pooch. That Malaysia pre-season goal was a perfect illustration.

      So if you are going to re-institute the press, you will also have to compress the lines, to play the possession football attendant to a high-quality press, which keeps the pushed-forward team from being exploited on a fast counter.

      It’s why I say that the team needs CB(s) for depth, but not to keep from leaking goals. In the macro tactical sense, other things need to happen for that to occur.

    2. Therein lies the dilemma. We want to press more and compress the lines, but we also want to be more direct when we attack. Not easy…

    3. “Set pieces is easy. You drill in practice about doing everything possible to avoid corner kicks, and if you’re going to foul, do so where it won’t hurt the team. You can watch a good Premiership side and get a master class on that.”

      That never gonna happen. Sooner or later you will concede free kicks in dangerous positions. You cannot go with a plan that we will not concede dangerous free kick. Same happens with corner kicks. You cannot defend set-pieces with three or two(especially when Mascherano is playing) tall guys. All it takes for the opposition is to put a tall guy in near the keeper and Pique or Busquets have to cover for him. That leaves on guy to head clear when a pretty good deliveries. come. In that case you could also bang on the opposition set-piece deliveries to be seriously bad. Against PSG and Milan they were guilty of that last season. So it could happen again. There is no way we will stop conceding corners or dangerous free kicks. It will happen and we better be prepared for that.

    4. I also think that the reason we moved towards a more direct approach was to counter the “park the bus” strategy used by teams against us. If we do revert to the previous way of pressing/compressing, we still need to find a way to break the “bus”. And hopefully this is where Neymar might come in handy.

  25. One thing I haven’t seen discussed here is Bagnack’s inclusion in first team practices and the preseason tour. It seems that Tata has been impressed with the B-teamer in training and perhaps, we will be seeing more of him during the actual season, no?

    I would not be surprised if the answer to our great CB problem came from La Masia, which we have often turned to historically in times of crisis. I don’t want to be too hopeful and putting over-the-top expectations on the youngsters, but I am wondering if Bagnack might be our version of Real Madrid’s Varane. Ahh, one can dream, one can dream.

    I haven’t really caught all the preseason games, so I wanted to ask what have you all thought of his performances during the preseason?

    1. Well, the other day Blitzen and I had the following e-mail exchange…

      Me: “I have not been impressed by Bagnack from what I’ve seen so far, at least not in the sense that I think he is ready this year”
      Blitzen: “I have been impressed by the kid, but not to the point where I think he is ready to be our new CB signing.”

      It’s two sides of the same coin, really, it’s just that Blitzen’s coin is prettier.

    2. I also read today that Bagnack won’t even formally be registered as a Barça B player this year, but as Juvenil A–but he will train and play with the B team. IF true (and as far as I know it’s not confirmed), this is the same thing they did with Dongou last year. Dongou wasn’t formally promoted until the 2nd half of the season.

      So, while Tata clearly likes what he sees in Bagnack, the club doesn’t appear to be in any rush to leapfrog him into the first team, and nor should they be. He is only 18 and nowhere near a finished product.

      For me, a better prospect would be Edgar Ie, who was very impressive at the tail-end of last season (once Eusebio started giving him playing time) and during the tournaments he played in for Portugal this summer. He has some serious chops, and I hope he catches Tata’s eye.

    3. Like I said, he was away at youth tournaments playing for Portugal. First the U20 World Cup, then the Toulon Tournament. Then he had some vacation time.

  26. With regards to Kxevins response to me above: I agree that under Guardiola there was a better utilisation of space by our team that made us more defensively sound however my point about context remains. Back then, and I’m referring to the final stages of the Champions League here, teams attempted to play on an equal footing with us. The demolitions of Lyon and Bayern were good example of teams attempting to play attacking football against us but failing misreably.

    But then came a change. Our defeat to Inter Milan signalled to the rest of Europe that an ultra-defensive approach, under which teams dropped deep and allowed us to play in front of their box while adhering to strict defensive lines, could limit our attacking threat to a large extent. But this approach proved not to be as succesful as expected as most teams could not be discplined for the entire match and Guardiola responded by pushing our wingers wide effectively forcing the defensive team to expand their lines across the pitch leaving room in the middle for our short passing play to have effect. Que Jose Mourinho to Madrid although he was initially unsuccessful he ultimately pioneered a great tactical approach to playing Barca.

    The first step is to accept that Barca will have possession. So you drop deep and allow us to have possession, but this is not enough, your forward line has to press Barca’s midfield and your striker should hassle Busquets but not just anywhere, only when Barca has carried possession just beyond the half-way line. The aim is to either force us to pass the ball back and begin the attack again or force the player in possession to attempt a risky pass. Secondly, you have to drop deeper than normal and maintain defensive lines, our response to this will be to push our wingers wide, but you tell your full-backs to ignore this and stay compact. Because you realise that Barca has no aerial threat and any ball into the box will most probably be won by your team. Barca’s response to this will be to push the full backs up and attempt to get a two on one against the opposition full back on the outside. This is countered by making sure yout wingers track Alves and Alba as was done by Robben, Ribery, Di Maria last season. Thirdly, you wait for Barca to lose patience and overcommitt which we will always do as we spread possession in front their defensive line, our full backs will come forward and our centre backs will advance. Eventually a pass will be misplaced at which point you go into phase 4. A fast transition into a counter attack. Secure possession long diagonal ball to your winger running into space left by the full back. Bar Alba or Mascherano, the rest of the Barca defence will be to slow to recover.

    I agree that a centre-back will not cure the above problem without us changing our tactical approach but you have to admit that a fast, agile defender with some anticipation will at leasr increase our chances of dealing with counters. That’s all I’m saying. Barca is going to concede the above type of goals unless a major rethink in approach by Martino occurs but even if a centre back would reduce our chances of conceding these goals by 20 per cent isn’t that worth it?

    1. Excellent comment. Nobody in their right mind thinks that a center back will prevent the chances created by exploiting the space behind our full backs, but he might mitigate the risk somewhat.

      I would add that the right CB will also go some ways to help prevent some of the goals we conceded from set pieces against M*drid, PSG and Bayern. Mascherano is simply too short, even the man himself admitted as much in a recent interview (I think in el País)

  27. ***
    It might interest you to know that Dongou scored a goal in his first ever match alongside Samuel Eto’o for the full Cameroonian National Side. He came into the game versus Qatar at half-time and broke the deadlock with his strike, before Cameroon scored three more, to finish 4-0 winners.

    Besides. The match was not an official friendly recognized by FIFA, more like a practice session between two full International Teams. Ergo, in actuality, neither his cap nor goal is officially recognized.

  28. Great post Kxevin!! doom and gloom or part of a big-picture plan? The market is definitely not friendly at this juncture, but our past transfer idiocy makes the fans doubt if, indeed, we know what the hell we’re doing. I think Barça’s system is trying to make having a defense obsolete – attack, press, repeat. On breakawy counter attacks our forwards are just as likely to make the interception as our center-backs. Anyway, Im gonna bet on a Puyol renaissance.

  29. Laurent Blanc confirmed that Mamadou Sakho wants to leave PSG in this transfer window and they’ll see what happens.
    Not that it particularly means anything to us but I suppose it at least means that he is on the market.

    I would definitely be satisfied with that outcome

  30. I think we have to be honest with ourselves,barcelona has never had good defenders, exluding Puyol. The only thing that has made our team look good has been our system.Us controling games in particular blinded us to the fact.

  31. Got a question – as a completely hypothetical scenario: If PSG were willing, who here would exchange Dani Alves for Thiago Silva?

  32. To be honest I wouldnt sell Dani. Besides his obivious quality, hes going to be fundamental to Neymar on a personal level this season.

    The critics will be out in full force and hes so young. He is bound to have some mess ups.

    I know the whole team supports him but Alves is his Anchor when the storms come in. IMO

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