Membership and Identity: A Polemic

I went to the most beautiful place in the world for the first time last week. This post isn’t a match report, although the Atletico game merits discussion. Nor is it a loving paean to Camp Nou, although I could most certainly go on (and on) about its majesty.

Instead, let’s talk about what it means to be a fan, and what it takes to be a member.

If you’re not up to speed on the latest developments in membership policy, Isaiah covered the most recent changes recently. In summary, the new policies are slightly less restrictive than the ones first announced by Rosell when he was elected, but the bias against non-local fans remains firmly in place.

Don’t agree? You can now pay €125 a year for 3 years in order to (possibly, if you’re lucky) earn the right to become a member, but only if you show up at Camp Nou in person to apply. My permanent residence is some 19,000 kilometers (or 12,000 miles) away from Camp Nou, so that bit poses a little difficulty.

But back to my trip. The chance to study in London for a year also provided me with the opportunity to finally visit Camp Nou. I’m treating it as a once-in-a-lifetime deal, because who knows when I’ll be able to do it again?

And dear reader, it was a wonderful experience. Every fan not fortunate enough to be born in close proximity to the club of their heart should get to watch their team in the flesh at least once, as a reward for all those days and nights spent watching your team play at the most awkward hours, and learning to navigate the culture, politics and language of another country in order to become a ‘better’ fan.

tant se val d’on venim, (no matter where we come from,)
si del sud o del nord, (be it south or north,)
ara estem d’acord, estem d’acord, (now we all agree, we all agree,)
una bandera ens agermana. (a flag unites us in brotherhood.)

Which brings me to my topic of discussion. What makes a fan worthy of being a member? Or, to flip this question around, what makes restrictions on membership, aimed at narrowing the base, permissible? Let’s look at the main justifications put forward by the main proponents, including our current president.

1) Every member must have the right to watch games at Camp Nou. Therefore membership numbers must not exceed the number of seats.

I went to one of the biggest games of the season. It wasn’t sold out. The ugly truth is that right now we can’t fill our magnificent stadium for 95% of our games, even though the football on offer is wonderful; even though prices are lower than at many Premier League grounds.

Yes, there’s currently not enough season tickets to go around, but the demand is hardly coming from foreign fans, who can maybe make it to one game a year if they’re lucky. In fact, for some of us, membership is a purely symbolic status from which we would derive little practical benefit. But the status itself is still important.

2) The dilution of Catalan identity.

We have already 3.000-4.000 Japanese club members, which is good but one day we could have 50.000. Or 50.000 Chinese or 50.000 Russians, it’s the same. And those 50.000 Russians could one day decide that the president of Barça would be a Russian. He should have his legal residence in Catalonia, but that’s easy. – Sandro Rosell

I hate to belabour the obvious, but this is ridiculous. Let’s break it down.

  1. So what if we end up with 50,000 Chinese members? Membership is a symbolic (and financial) commitment. Fans don’t apply to become members on a whim. You can bet your bottom dollar every single one of those 4000 Japanese members knows every word of Cant del Barca and probably backwards too. Maybe that’s a flippant way of introducing it, but the more serious point I’m trying to make is this: the fandom of foreign Cules is based upon the entirety of Barca’s identity. They’re not just in it for the superstar players. You only have to look at the number of fans who are trying to master Spanish/Catalan because of their allegiance to Barca to see that.
  2. We’re being asked to swallow the logic that a Chinese fan would vote for a Chinese candidate for president, regardless of policy positions. This is dubious at best, but as it’s a mere far-off hypothetical, we’ll leave it and move on.
  3. So what if a Russian-born person became president? As long as they have a sufficient connection to Barca, what does it matter where they were originally from? Rosell knows full well – or he should – that the appointment of Swiss, English and German presidents hasn’t bought the sky down in the past. Let’s not forget who our founder was.

Scaremongering aside, the dilution of Catalan identity is an entirely valid concern. As I’ve previously argued, tradition is the life blood of football clubs. Barca is not Barca without its sense of locality and history, which is closely entwined with the history of Catalunya. This is reflected in the prominence afforded to the Catalan connection in the literature put out by the club.

The number of club members from outside of Catalonia and Spain is increasing daily, and the club wants to respond to that show of passion for Barça. –

However, the second key value loudly promoted by Barca in its advertising (and indeed in the Museum itself) is that of universality, reflected in the club’s outreach and charity work. Of course, no club is fully universal – that would defeat the point, identity-wise, but most of the so-called elite aren’t fully local either, Athletic Bilbao aside.

Does Barca want to be like Athletic? A great club, but let’s be blunt about the consequences of complete commitment to a localized identity. It means losing the ability to compete with others who aim for universality. It also means a betrayal of one important aspect of Barca tradition. I mentioned Joan Gamper above, a man who is a powerful reminder that the club’s identity has always had a cosmopolitan streak to it. At its best, the club has a powerful sense of localized identity while being open to new ideas and different cultures. The crucial historical influence of English and Dutch managers and players are good examples.

Most of the big names are a mixture of the local and the universal these days. Every club has to find a space on the spectrum that suits it, which enables them to preserve their identity and grow at the same time, integrating new fans into the fold without diluting what it means to be a fan.

Barca belongs to the family of four I met on the metro, who only get to go to a few games every season. It belongs to the little old ladies sitting behind the south goal who helped me find my seat, and to the passionate fans standing in the tier under ours who never stopped making noise all game. I’d like to think it has a place for those who stay up until 5 in the morning to watch games live from 10,000 kilometers away. I hope it has a place for someone like me.

Note: I recognise that this is an issue on which reasonable people may disagree. Hence the title, because this is me arguing my side.

By Linda

20-something Chinese Kiwi Barrister. Enjoys short walks on the beach, Argentinian players and Pep Guardiola. @blackwhitengrey for hot takes on all three.


  1. “Let’s not forget who our founder was.”

    Gamper! I was named after him! Ok, no not really (named after Miró) 😛

    Great post 🙂

  2. hear hear.

    a fine post, and a sentiment expressed much more politely than i would were i face-to-face with señor Rosell.

    1. Ha ha, arguing different sides calmly is kind of my day job. But I have to agree, this issue makes my blood boil too. Thanks!

  3. Call me crazy, but I mostly agree with the two reasons for limiting membership, although maybe not so much that I would ban foreigners from becoming members…

    1. imagine that members do indeed decide to go to the matches and cannot because members > seats. That would be a problem. Ok, it is a hypothetical problem at the moment, but it would still be a problem should this ever happen.

    2. Agreed with the notion that foreign members could hi-jack the club. Not sold on your theory that all Japanese socis know the Cant el Barça. Not convinced that Chinese socis wouldn’t automatically vote for a Chinese president, especially not since most of my personal life experience has taught me that most Chinese people mostly stick together. And I am not convinced that it would not matter if the next president were Russian.

    I know our anthem says “no matter where we are from”, but this refers to the fact that Catalunya always has been a destination for migrants. It did not matter whether they were from the North or the South, because they were in the stadium, all together, or in the bar watching the game, together! At least they were there.

    We (or most of us) are not, hence I understand why it is harder for us to be accepted as socis or even culés, and the idea that “we” might one day outnumber the local members is rightfully scary for the locals, because they might lose control over a very local institution, the love of which had been passed on to them by their parents and grandparents.

    1. I want to know how many games suffer from an inability to get tickets to members, and more specifically, how many foreign members are taking up these valuable seats before I accept #1 as a valid concern.

      And by point #2, I take it that you believe that one day, enough Chinese/Russians/any other pesky foreign group will pony up the annual fees to become members and fly all the way to Barcelona to nominate/vote for one of their own just based on racial identity. And that they’d join/come to vote in such large numbers that they’d outnumber the local Catalans voting. And that this foreign majority would not have the true interests of our beloved club at heart but instead the interests of racial solidarity, so they’d end up casting their lot and the fortunes of the club with one of their unqualified own.

      If so, then I respectfully disagree with you.

    2. You’re not crazy! Like I said, reasonable people can disagree on this issue. That’s why I wrote this post as an opinion piece.

      That said:

      1. See merge’s comment on why this is not a problem. Even amongst members who want season tickets (ie those who live in and around Barcelona and can therefore go) there is a waiting list for seats, which is a situation that exists for other hugely popular teams too. This problem has nothing to do with foreign members, but rather with season ticket holder attendance, given the consistent inability to sell out the Camp Nou.

      2. As a Chinese person, I must question your assertion that Chinese people mostly stick together. We feud like anything. 🙂 Anyway, irrelevant (I just found it funny that you would say that).

      We’re going to have to agree to disagree on how passionate foreign fans are and how well they know the club, above and beyond considerations of their own nationality. I think the people who run and comment on this blog proves my point.

      Like I argued in my post, Catalan identity is important to the club, and existing members are right to want to safeguard that aspect of the club. But no big club is truly local, not any more. The merit of Barca is (was) that it managed to incorporate new fans into their local identity in a dynamic way while retaining control over the core. Maybe other protectionist measures are necessary (see the discussion about criteria for the presidency) but not at membership level.

      IMHO, of course.

    3. THIS!

      2. As a Chinese person, I must question your assertion that Chinese people mostly stick together. We feud like anything. 🙂 Anyway, irrelevant (I just found it funny that you would say that).

      I always find complexities with assumptions, such as when politicians assume that all black folks are a monolithic voting bloc. If they’d just talk to us ….

    1. Oh yay! Which one, if I may ask? And did you get a name and number on the back?

      (I finally got the Guardiola 4 Centenary jersey I’ve been dreaming about when I was in Barcelona. :D)

    2. I got a number-less one as I wanted it to be a ‘team’ jersey. My next one will probably be a Messi or Xavi one. 🙂

    1. *technical

      And yes, I did smirk at 0:12. 😀

      (I will stop “bogarting” this great post now, which I agree about a billion percent with…)

  4. If the club is worried about a de facto foreign takeover due to members voting for someone from their own country, then the obvious solution is to change the requirements to become president.

    Add requirements that they must have lived in Catalonia for a certain number of years, or they must have been a member for X number of years, or some other provision that will ensure that presidential candidates have the best interests of the club in mind.

    Honestly, what is the problem with a Russian or Chinese president? Assuming it is a problem presumes that they would have goals other than the continued success of the club, right? Maybe the thought is that they would privilege one group of members or fans over another group – HEY! isn’t that what Sandro is essentially doing?

    Despite being a soci, I have never attended a match. Unless I can find a scientific conference relevant to my interests in Barcelona that coincides with a match, my pilgrimage to the Camp Nou may be years away. I pay to be a Soci, and at the moment I receive no tangible benefits (although admittedly this is due to my own constraints).

    It just doesn’t make sense to me. My opinion is that it is more logical to change other aspects of the club if Rosell and co. are worried about the issues they have stated; and if they aren’t worried about the issues they have stated, then this whole thing boils down to a misplaced sense of nationalism at the best, and xenophobia at the worst.

    1. Broadly, neuroscience. In my (short) research history I’ve dealt exclusively with trying to understand how the brain integrates higher order visual information with the executive functions of the frontal cortex in the process of navigation. All the while trying to understand why Alzheimer’s patients lose the ability to navigate (usually very early in the course of the disease).

      But I’m still young, and there are so many things that interest me I have no idea where I’ll end up.

    2. A joke yes, but I’m so bad at statistics.

      That sounds very cool, where do you work? This summer I will be working on imaging microglial-modulated synaptic remodeling. I met with the professor last week, and I’m constantly amazed at how little I know.

    3. I met with the professor last week, and I’m constantly amazed at how little I know

      As a Master’s grad myself I have the great opportunity to re-acquaint that fact everyday of my life 😀

    4. Hey Vicsoc, I recently started working in the Mountain West (a guy’s gotta keep some prviacy, lol), getting a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. But I’m practically a neuroscientist.

      That work sounds interesting; I worked in imaging calcium transients in glial (astrocytes, though, not microglia) cells last year. Best of luck!

    5. trying to understand how the brain integrates higher order visual information with the executive functions of the frontal cortex in the process of navigation.

      But will your research explain why men refuse to ask for directions? 😛

    6. or why people, despite the apparent visual evidence, claim that a certain Portuguese is as good as a short Argentine playing for a rival team?

    7. Yeah that’s exactly what I thought when I read that as well. ‘Durr, so just limit the requirements of being president!’. I mean there already are certain criteria that one has to fulfil to be president right, whether its age or this or that, it does seem like the obvious decision.

    8. Very well said, vicsoc. Restrictions already exist on who is allowed to stand for election, so just add a stipulation that they have to be a permanent resident of Catalunya and have been so for x number of years.

  5. It’s true about our stadium not selling out. The stands during the game I went for against Villareal were far less packed than I imagined they’d be.

  6. As far as I know, it would be impossible for every soci to attend a match all together, because they need to ‘own’ a specific seat in order to obtain a season ticket, and there is a loooong waiting list for socis who don’t have a seat assigned yet (but I could be wrong).

    I have friends who have been socis since they were born (or almost), and don’t like to cede their seats or their families’ in seient lliure* mode because they don’t want to find themselves sitting beside a ‘too enthusiastic’ fan from the other team. I guess that’s why the tickets rarely get sold out.

    I am not a soci, but as a Catalan fan I wouldn’t mind 50000 Chinese people being, or the whole world for what it matters (the more the merrier!). I would mind a Russian OWNER, though, but this a completely different thing…

    I hope you felt welcome during your visit, Linda!

    *seient lliure: socis who know they won’t attend a match, can free their seat -mark it as available- for some other to buy a ticket.

    1. Oooh, that’s interesting. I knew about seient lliure, but not the specific procedure for obtaining a season ticket when one becomes a member. Thanks for the info!

      My visit was fantastic – the people were very friendly, and the weather was a wonderful change from London. I really hope I can visit again soon, but once I’m back in New Zealand it’s going to be tough.

  7. Need to add nzm!

    Barca Girls version 5.0.2 PLEASE let this be the last revision!
    Humphrey Bogart
    me (soccermomof4, AKA SoMa4, AKA somomo, AKA any and all combos of so+mo+4)


      Question: If you weren’t a respectable, knowledgeable, true fan, who on FCB would you go all “fangirl” over?

      Me? Um…Xavi, claro! 😀

    2. Haha, SoMa4, nice call! 🙂

      If I was not of an age to be his mom, I’d definitely go for our B-teamer Sergi Roberto!!!

      But today I think the basket boys deserve a kind thought after his fantastic win against EE (Oeoeoeeee!) and I will go for Gianluca Basile, ‘Baso’. Here is hope for a fast recovery from his injury!

    3. I still have Lego Messi up—have to to find another–but every time I boot up I sing “Lego, Lego, Lego, gol” in my head to the Crackovia tune.

    4. HMMMM. I’m going to be typical and say Pique. Sorry. Teenage hormones come into play here. 😉

    5. Lol he’s flatout insane though hahaha. Amazing entertainment on my newsfeed. Did you see his tweet pic of his ‘christmas tree’ or Villa’s shoes? Or something about a duel with Chuck Norris? Oooooooooh

    6. Hahahaha! FAIL! 😀
      Serious, SoMoMoMoMo4, you many times do you need just to write a list?! I thought you were a mom….

    7. As long as there are new Barca girls that want to be included, they will be added *she says in a noble yet longsuffering tone*. And moms are great at lists…

      Seriously, no sooner do I get a list up than people are needing to be added.

    1. Me too, although I’m finding it a lot harder going than when I learned English. Wish I’d started earlier, maybe when I was a teenager.

  8. Positive words from Alves about the orogress of the talks.Let’s get it done.

    –This Arsenal tie worries me. With Nasri back, Van Persie fit and us without Puyol….

    1. Yep. Guardiola said last week that he was definitely out against Arsenal in the first leg. Guardiola won’t, but I would sure as hell go for Mascherano in the back line, and Abidal at his usual position. You need a back line person to make challenges against Arsenal, and not be afraid to foul outside the box, as our defenders (Abidal excepted) seem to be.

    2. I’m with you. We could concede a few goals with that back line. And as Eklavya said, we always mess up at this stage of the CL.

  9. Nice post, Linda. I guess I’m slightly on the fence on this one. I don’t agree with limiting membership, especially under the rules that Rosell has imposed. And this new 3-year plan to earn the right to possibly get into some kind of membership lottery is the worst kind of cynical cash-grab. It’s a “compromise” that isn’t going to please anyone. But I do think (and vicsoc made the point very eloquently above) that there should be some restrictions on who is eligible to run for president, ie. Permanent resident of Catalunya, soci for a certain number of years, ect. I would go further and impose restrictions on who is allowed to vote in club elections, which I know won’t make me popular with some on this board. At present I believe that members can only vote at the club in person. This makes sense to me. It’s not that I am afraid of hordes of Chinese socii internet voting as a way to control the elections. Please. I just think it is important to recognize that this is a club based in Catalunya, with a history and culture that go along with that, and it is not wrong to say that those who live there should have the most say in the daily affairs of the club.

    For the record, I also think there should be some way of monitoring how season tickets are used. Empty seats are unacceptable. A season ticket holder should be obliged to put unused tickets up for sale. If a seat goes unfilled a certain number of times in a season, the season ticket comes up for review. Use it or lose it.

    1. Fantastic comment, blitzen. I agree that there should be some restrictions on who is eligible to run, and I’m okay with the ‘voting in person’ rule too, for the reasons you stated.

      I’m not sure how to solve the empty seats problem, but it is a serious one that needs to be addressed. We could be 1) making more money off gate receipts and 2) generating more of an atmosphere.

  10. Excellent post, Linda, perfectly put.

    There are so many ways, equally simple and less vexing to foreign fans, of ensuring that them dirty furriners don’t take over the club. Rosell is simply operating out of a misguided sense of entitlement, and a damaging notion of Catalanisme.

    Catalunya has always been a magnet, so Catalans will never be homogenous, which makes club restrictions based on nationalist notions difficult to apply. Further, while the club and the autonomous region (let’s get that language right, shall we?) are inextricably linked, they are different entities. People can be passionate as can be about the club, and not care a whit about local politics/customs. Should someone, no matter where they are from, who bleeds Blaugrana if cut, believes in, supports and loves the club be denied the fullest representation of that love thanks to a simple matter of geography? No. Hell no. Season ticket wait lists and presidential paranoia are just masks.

    And in the face of the club’s history, RoSELL’s restrictions seem even more stupid and narrow-minded:

    –The club’s founder was Swiss, but assimilated.
    –The club’s sporting father is Dutch.
    –Its most well-known, dazzling player is Brazilian
    –Its current best player is Argentinian

    If Ronaldinho wanted to become a soci, he couldn’t. Eto’o? Sorry, but no. I sure hope that Messi’s a soci right now, because if not …. well, you are foreign, after all.

    Even more stupid is the notion that anyone wants to grab control of the club, and would be willing to engineer tens of thousands (would need at LEAST 60,000 committed voters) of foreign socis in an attempt to hijack the club’s highest office. For what reason? Barca is “mes que un club” in every way, including its history, importance to Catalan culture/people and even rather parochial way of operating.

    Unlike say, Chelsea, who was kind of meandering until the infusion of Abramovich’s billions roused it from slumber, Barca is a healthy, thriving club that takes in more than 400m in revenue each season, and pumps almost all of it back into the club. What’s the payoff for a foreign president? Good question.

    And whatever hijinks a furriner might get up to, there is an assembly, and active cadre of voting socis above and beyond the assembly, to put the kibosh on that. Restrictions on any prospective president makes it even more difficult, irrespective of how voting is conducted. Don’t kid yourself, RoSELL didn’t want Internet voting for this last election because he wouldn’t have done as well.

    Limited restrictions are easy to impose. Bad feelings spawned as a result of stupid, exclusionary restrictions that have dimwitted xenophobia as their foundation are much harder to undo.

  11. Is Sagna suspended? I was watching the highlights of their last match against Partizan and he got sent off. Would he suspended?

  12. Hmmm….

    Speaking to Catalunya Radio today, however, Laporta denied that the club had made an approach for the Gunners playmaker, insisting that Villa was always their prime transfer target.

    He commented: “We did not want to sign Cesc. I chose to sign Villa at that time. We thought that Cesc was a great player, and I would like him to come to Barca in the same conditions that [Gerard] Pique returned from Manchester United.

    “What happened at that time was that we wanted to make an investment in Villa before the World Cup, he could have had a bad tournament, but turned out to have a good one. We tried to get him the previous year, and could not because Valencia asked for a lot of money. Cesc is not urgent while we have Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and Keita.”

    1. I wasn’t aware that it was an either/or. I think what he is trying to say is that signing Villa was his idea, but Rosell is the one responsible for the big summer push for Cesc (and the bad publicity that came with that)? As in, Rosell talks about austerity, but he was one prepared to break the bank for Cesc?

      Did he say anything about the Ibra loan deal?

  13. Speaking of goalkeepers getting sent off (and we were), Victor Valdes is currently on 4 yellow cards. I am worried that he may lose his temper or take too long on a goal-kick at an inopportune time and get himself benched for an important game. Now, I love Pinto, but frankly I don’t want to see him between the sticks against Valencia, Villareal, or, heaven forfend, Real Madrid.

    What do you think? Should he try to pick himself up a card against Bilbao this weekend and sit out Mallorca? Or am I being too cynical, and we should just let the cards fall where they may?

    1. Which isn’t until April. I am saying Valdes should get his card situation sorted out well before that.

  14. Excellent point about demanding certain requirements for a Barça president, rather than putting restrictions on the number of new (foreign) socis.

    Hadn’t really looked at it like that when I wrote my post.

  15. Brilliant Post Linda I whole-heartedly agree and therefore I don’t have much to add. But I really enjoyed your style of writing.

    About the last Post (Gijon Review) I was too pissed yesterday and saturday to comment but now that I feel better I just wanted to say Kxevin’s reviews were pretty much spot on except i think Ibi deserved more of a 2 than a 1 but that is not saying much.


  16. great news, puyol was seen running around today on the field. still training apart, but it’s a good sign. same too with jeFFren.

  17. If you’re not a regular reader of La Liga Loca, you should be. Tim Stannard’s regular correspondent Paul from Barcelona (an Espanyol fan) had this to say about the game with RM yesterday:

    Well that was fun, losing at home against ten men. Basically Real Madrid were better, deserved to win and despite playing well, Kameni was beaten at his near post again. Espanyol are putting too much faith in the kids and we are getting beaten by experience. Madrid are nothing special and Manchester United and Barça won’t be losing any sleep.

    Usual Madrid fans dotted around the stadium. Ref was as you’d expect. Madrid had carte blanche after Casillas was sent off. No ref would ever reduce Madrid to nine so Xabi Alonso stayed on despite about six yellow card fouls. Marcelo was man of the match by a mile.

    Ronaldo giving the diving sign to Callejón was priceless. No doubt he went home to hurl rocks in his greenhouse.

    Paul, Barcelona

    1. Hmmm, I wonder what glasses Paul had while watching that game. I am a Madrid fan, but i also can look at the game from a neutral view.

      The ref was bad? Alonso deserved a red? Callejon, who is a real madrid product, looked for the smallest contact from iker to jump up and down. He even peaked at the ref while rolling on the floor to see if he got the call. That was as soft of a call as it can get. 5 minutes after, an Espanyol player handled the ball oh so clearly with his hand but that wasn’t called. Then we saw Khedira brought down in the middle of the penalty box and there was no call.

      Ronaldo, who i am not a fan off at all, had the best game he has had in a while. He tracked back and tackled an espanyol player to stop an attack. Have you ever seen this guy do that? And for what its worth, he hasn’t been diving this year.

      Alonso did 6 yellow card fouls? Then Espanyol did 12 red card fouls. Some fans seem to forget this is a contact sport.

      Anyways i should end my rant. I used to enjoy La Liga Loca a lot but they have been overly biased as of late. I am the first to criticize Madrid but i also give credit were credit is due.

      Also, congrats to your Basket ball team. You have manita’d our ass in that game once again. We can’t catch a break eh?

    2. While I didn’t see the match knowing that it was Callejon that went down, I believe you 100%.

      I hate that guy. He’s such a whiny little brat, diving all over the place, with his Hamsik-esque hair.. ugh.

    3. LOL, Bassam! For what it’s worth, I agree that Casillas should never have been sent off for that challenge (although I laughed my ass off at the time!). CRonaldo did have a good game, and I even noted his tracking back in the previous thread on this blog. I think Marcelo and Ozil were better, though. Ozil was literally everywhere on the pitch and when he came off I expected him to collapse from exhaustion on the sidelines. Your defense was still terrible, but it didn’t matter because Espanyol was playing like they were blindfolded. You could have left Aden on the bench and still won. (And if you read Paul’s review again, you will notice that he never said Espanyol deserved to win, he is pretty clear that RM was better.)

    4. No i understood the fact that he said we deserve to win. I was noting the whole card situation.

      Our defense is a real mystery, it really is. Pepe had his best game this season while Carvalho looked really blah in the first half. I remember the clearance at the start of the game gave me a semi heart attack. I think the team is trying to balance Marcelo being the wing back rather than left back. We are really susceptible to crosses, especially the low drive crosses. Call me crazy, but i think Adan had a great game for a goal keeper that was debuting in La Liga. I remember the lob at the end of the game that he got would have probably gotten past both Iker and Valdes as it needed a tall guy to parry away. Plus he was out to make an impression and he was not afraid to dive into crosses. I’ve always fancied our Cantera’s ability to produce goal keepers. Its their thing. Canizarez was a Cantera product. Its like the central midfielder position to you guys.

      We need to learn how to pack the middle more. If the team approaches games like they are ten men down and they track back like they did on the weekend, then our defense will get better, no doubt about that. But this teams needs some stability and matureness to be able to do that.

      I must add, its a Real Madrid thing. We never wake up till we hit a bump. Not until we are down a goal do we decide to step up our game. I think its because the team is really young and complacency comes with lack of experience.

      I know its a Barcelona blog and im here rambling about Madrid. But you cant say Barcelona without thinking of Real Madrid and vice versa right?

    5. What is your impression of Ramos? I thought he was quite good for Spain at the WC, but has been very blah this season. Gets caught out of position a lot and has let his temper interfere with his concentration on several occasions.

    6. It seems like i cant reply to your last post so i will reply here.

      Ramos was actually dropped from last game in favor of the more defensively disciplined Arbeloa. Here is why Ramos is caught out of position: Marcelo and Ramos can’t play together. You can’t have Alvez playing at right back with another Alvez at left back. Both attack, both leave a lot of spaces at the back, this will leave spaces in the back. Alonso is covering very well for Marcelo and that is why Marcelo seems so good this year. Di Maria, despite his really good work rate on that flank, he loses the ball a lot. And when he loses the ball, he freezes for a few seconds and thats all it takes for a counter to form. Once Arbeloa plays at left back, Ramos performs better because Alonso covers for Ramos instead.

    7. Hey Bassam,
      Always glad to see you pop in. I too (cantbelievei’msayingthismusthaveheadexamined) thought TB (oops sorry CR) played rather well and unselfishly yesterday. I saw him come back to defend during the game. Come to think of it he was also defending a little during the Portugal/Argentina game. At first I though this was a sign of the Apocalypse, I mean CR DOESN’T defend, but maybe he’s taking a page out of Messi’s book. As much as we hate to admit it, our guys wouldn’t have the success they have without your guys breathing down their necks. Ronaldo (mustnothyperventilate) is good for Messi’s game and Messi is good for TB’s. I guess what I’m saying is that without competition there comes complacency and mediocrity.

      BTW, Adebayor seems to be good for you guys.

    8. I mentioned this a while back. Ronaldo and Messi are redefining standards in their time. Especially this year. 24 goals in the league in 23 games? Greats like fat Ronaldo, Eusébio, Di stafino and few few others were able to do this. I’ve always wondered how it would have been to witness Maradona or Eusébio play as they are legends, but then again, here we have Fat Ronaldo, TB and Messi doing just that. These players come once every 20 years and to have seen 3 of them in a spam of 10 to 15 years, all i can say is respect.

      Now that i think about it, the last two decades have been the most significent in terms of legends forming with the likes of Zidane who can be added to that list. I’m pretty sure though 30 years ago a couple of people were sitting at the bar saying the same thing about the Football heros of their time

    9. In above, when I said Ronaldo I meant CR not the Brizilian(so used to typing TB). That being said, here’s to one of the greats on the day of his retirement!

    10. Paul’s dispatches are hilarious(ly biased) but entertaining. I recommend them if only for the comedy factor, both intentional and non.

  18. From barcastuff:

    Barcelona B coach Luis Enrique could have decided to leave Barcelona and join Sporting as first team manager next summer. [pelikano]

    The verb tense is a little odd, but I assume this means Lucho will be leaving us. Not surprised, just sad. 🙁

  19. I am usually able to exert a certain amount of self-restraint but always feel compelled to comment whenever this complex topic arises ever so gingerly on our beloved boards.

    Catalans are not ‘homogeneous’ because their relative economic stability (in comparison to struggling provinces like Extremadura and Murcia) attract greater numbers of national and international immigrants. But politically- and culturally-active Catalans (who may not be the most numerous, but tend to be the most media-savvy, or at least the most loud) would argue that Cataluyna is home to a homogeneous population with its own language, history and culture *independent* of other Iberian populations, including not only Castile but also Galicia, Navarre, the Basque country and so on.

    Catalan politicians on a local and national scale consistently refer to the region as a ‘nación’, with both cultural and political significance and therefore meritorious of its own political charter, or ‘Estatut’. The fact that the latest draft of the Estatut refers to Catalunya as a ‘nación’, in direct conflict with the Spanish Constitution’s designation of the united provinces as also a ‘nación’, is one of the reasons for the Estatut’s failure to be fully approved by the Spanish courts.

    It is true that football fans worldwide can love Barcelona and be indifferent to Catalan political ambitions (this would include the SoccerFam), while Catalan nationalists can take or leave Xavi & Co. However, it is simplistic to state in general terms that there is only a superficial, or conditional, or coincidental relationship between FC Barcelona and Catalan nationalism.

    I don’t care how much a membership to FCB costs. I am a public-institution teacher in a state threatening to chop my salary by 15% and send my mortgage into foreclosure. The FCB faces that I recognize live high on the cochinillo without my 200 bucks, ‘crisis o no’. And whomever they want to elect as president is none of my business. My people are too busy freaking out over future presidents of more local organizations, like, say … the state of Egypt.

    My impression is that our enthusiasm for the club (and its currently delightful manifestation in this season’s team) sometimes leads us to make assumptions based on sentiment rather than reality. We may ‘feel’ that FCB is not necessarily related to Catalan nationalism, or that Catalanism is not necessarily synonymous with Catalan nationalism, or that Catalanism is the sympathetic cause of an oppressed people in which any perceived xenophobia is imposed by those who would undermine its merits or outsiders who fail to understand its inherent virtue.

    Reality, however, recognizes that the ‘més’ in ‘més que un club’ is an explicitly sociopolitical statement; that Catalanism is, for passionate Catalans, an impulse to nationalism; that nationalism — in all its forms, in any region– is simply the heads of a coin whose tails is xenophobia.

    The question remains: Is it possible, in good conscience, to enjoy and support a team whose club mission is both sporting and political? To find the whole ‘més’ mess as charming as it is off-putting? And to recognize that Catalanism can be cute as well as cutting?

    Why not?

    1. I’d say never hold back, SoMa, when the words are eloquent and on point. It’s a very, very complex thing, I think. On the one hand, you have the passionate fans who think Messi is a delight, and reallyreallyreallyreally like the club, but when the club falls on hard times, might well jump ship for Arsenal, or some other proponent of the Beautiful Game.

      And then you have the people for whom the club runs deep, who make an effort (as much as is possible) to understand it all, learn the language so that stuff makes sense, gets inside things to make them make even more sense, and essentially comes to meet the club not halfway or even most of the way, but by rushing over and coddling right up to its Catalan bosom.

      This leaves two very different sets of fans, and the latter set, I think, feel what RoSELL is doing more deeply than the former, precisely because of the question that you raise: The club is indeed sporting and political, and has become even more so, starting in the wake of the Rosell/Laporta schism.

      So Catalanisme is all the things that you mention, along with tinges of the xenophobia that are attendant to any nationalist movement. It’s the degree that I find troublesome. Both RoSELL and Laporta were avid proponents of Catalanisme, in very different ways, just like the different sets of Catalans, some who believe that you can become Catalan and the others who believe it is a birthright.

      The second part of your question for me, after “is it possible, in good conscience, to enjoy and support a team whose club mission is both sporting and political,” is if yes, how do you parse the aspects of the club’s overall mission?

      As Guardiola has defended his right to give press conferences in Catalan, and speaking as a journalist who received hundreds of e-mails for daring to suggest in a story about a trip to Barcelona that Catalunya is indeed a nation, it’s an endlessly fascinating question and debate.

      I was invited to a 3-day symposium in Barcelona on the matter of independence, that regrettably, I had to decline. Ethically, I couldn’t accept the paid travel/3 days of lodging. But I’d be willing to bet that the debate and discussion would have been amazing.

    2. “I don’t care how much a membership to FCB costs. I am a public-institution teacher in a state threatening to chop my salary by 15% and send my mortgage into foreclosure. The FCB faces that I recognize live high on the cochinillo without my 200 bucks, ‘crisis o no’. And whomever they want to elect as president is none of my business. My people are too busy freaking out over future presidents of more local organizations, like, say … the state of Egypt.”


      hope you’re managing ok. best of luck to ya.

  20. Wait so Nasri was re-declared fit? So you’re saying its possible Puyol can be declared fit then?

    If we can shut down RVP, and score an early goal Arsenal will have a LOT of trouble. I mean a lot. A LOT. Messi hopefully won’t be on ghost mode, and Villa will be onside. I could see a potential 4-1 seriously.

    Of course, JNice will be nervous as always though..

  21. As is usually the case in knockout rounds, the away-goal rule will be of prime importance to all teams involved. Everyone is familiar with the old adage, defense wins championships.

    Nasri, RVP, and Cesc are all world-class footballers in their own regard, but can the same be said for Arsenal’s back five? Especially considering the combination of injuries and suspensions they have, clearly their defense is going to be susceptible to Barca’s attack (even with their starting XI, the case would be the same). Couple that with Arsenal’s tendency to play open, attacking football, and you see why it’ll be difficult for them to keep a clean sheet on Wednesday.

    Even if Arsenal managed to score one, or possibly two goals, will our MVP trident fail to match them? It’ll take a horrible collective performance from our team not to perform and score, and I just don’t think it’ll happen.

    I’m very excited nonetheless. You gotta love European nights.

  22. Just watched FCBarcelona The inside Story again from 2003-2004 season. Such a great documentary. Wish bbc did another one, more recent. Anyways, crazy to watch the relationship with Rossel and Laporta go from amazing, to awful in a matter of a season.

    1. have to say it, with the defending of fulham, barca would rip them apart. the defending over the weekend against us, was much much better.

  23. Except of lucky ManUnited, I don’t see any English team that can even come close to winning the CL this title.
    My favourites: Barca, Real, Inter, Milan and Bayern. All the English teams, even ManUtd, are worse! But ManUtd has lady luck on their side, so I don’t count them out yet 🙂

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