Barcelona suffered yet another defeat this weekend, this time against Valladolid, meaning that the club’s title chances took a big blow. Many players seemed rather uninterested on the José Zorilla pitch, prompting many culés to call for wholesale changes this summer. A big squad overhaul is easier said than done though, and it doesn’t always work.
“Great friend on and off the pitch, Carles Puyol, announced he’ll leave Barça in June!! Good luck, mate.”
Former Barca legend and multiple Ballon d’Or and FIFA Player of the Year winner Ronaldinho wished his former teammate good fortune on his official Twitter account after the Barça captain announced his departure at the end of the season. The two legends shared the same locker room in Camp Nou for five years where they lifted two La Liga titles and a historically massive second Champions League trophy in Paris.
In a totalBarça special, we bring to you the Back and Forth series! Throughout the season rumours and stories come and go. We constantly hear and read articles about players leaving, signing and retiring while others compare players, judge coaches and debate who’s better.
Now Youssef, Fahd, Stevenson, Aly and Eric are bringing these discussions to you. All five writers will share their views and opinions regarding certain matters that have been haunting many culé minds. Meanwhile, you vote who you agree with more and share your views with us as well through comments. Back and Forth’s last edition debated what was next for Gerard Piqué, and readers voted equally between keeping the tall defender and dropping him. Now, it is time for another debatable topic. Shall we begin?
Who should Carles Puyol’s replacement be?
You’ve had your chance to rate the performance of the Blaugrana and the results are now tallied up. Take a look at how the totalBarça community ranked the squad and see how the ratings played out.
Image: Claudio Chaves MD via mundodeportivo.com
During the international break, FC Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernández (34), sat down for an interview with Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher, now a sports writer for the Daily Mail, and a longtime admirer of the diminutive midfield maestro. In it he talked about the team’s dominant era, his evolution as a player and the future.
Barça were surprised by the set up of Man City because they have players whose playing style is more like Barcelona, and thought that they would want to have more of the ball. Xavi said that they were not strictly defensive, but they weren’t going forward either.
He described Pellegrini’s teams as usually attacking, possessive of the ball, opening up the game down the wings and pressing high up, which they didn’t do in the first game. Read more from the interview after the jump.
Sergi Samper (19) was the special guest on the Barça TV show ‘Promeses,’ where he celebrated his 10-year anniversary as an FC Barcelona youth player. The Barça B midfielder looked back on his ten years as a Blaugrana, during which he has assimilated the Barça philosophy fully, which has brought him at stage at which he’s working towards his first team debut.
Samper arrived at Barça aged 6, to take part in the FCBEscola courses. Two years later, he entered the youth ranks, playing for Benjamín B. Fast forward ten years and he’s one of the most promising players at La Masia. Read Samper’s quotes from his appearance on the show after the jump.
Javier Mascherano has now played 100 league games in the Blaugrana outfit, and although that milestone came in a disappointing defeat against Real Valladolid, it’s worth noting that the Argentine has put in many great performances for Barça.
The 29-year-old joined the Catalan club from Liverpool FC in 2010, where he used to play as a defensive midfielder before Pep Guardiola altered his position. Similar to his 100th league match, Mascherano’s league debut was a 2-0 defeat at home against Hercules. But since then Javier hasn’t looked back; and as they say, the rest is history. Mascherano has played overall 169 games for Barça and won all six possible titles throughout these four years. So far, only three Argentine players have made more appearances than him: Zuviría, Saviola, and of course, Lionel Messi.
Barcelona B play host to Ponferradina this weekend and as always, their goal will be to earn the full three points. The team now finds itself at a crucial point in the season, in a period that will determine whether going forward there is still danger of relegation. Barça B are doing quite well at the moment, being on the verge of breaking the 40-point mark. They still need some more points to guarantee safety though, as the experiences of recent years have taught us that the ‘magic’ points total that secures safety in the Liga Adelante is on average 47 points. Yet this season, with things so tight in the bottom half of the league, a team would perhaps need 50 points at minimum to feel entirely safe. Barcelona B are close, and the sooner they get those points the better.
Ponferradina will be by no means an easy obstacle to overcome though. La Ponfe beat Eusebio Sacristán’s men early in the season, and surely if Barça B take the match lightly, they will be punished. Traditionally, Barça B-Ponferradina matches are evenly matched. Last year’s matches saw both teams win at home against each other, with the blaugranas winning 1-0 in Barcelona and the team from Castile and León taking a 3-2 win at El Toralín.
Barcelona lost 1-0 to relegation-threatened Real Valladolid today, seriously damaging their title hopes in La Liga. Away matches have been a serious challenge for the Catalans in the second half of this season, and Valladolid proved no exception. Away from Camp Nou, Barça’s run of form is shocking: They have won just one of five games in 2014, kept one clean sheet in the last eight matches, and have not scored the first goal of a match since November 2013. Though one can remember that the players are human and have had a difficult week between the international travel, Carles Puyol’s announcement, and a personal tragedy to Andrés Iniesta, nonetheless there is something inexplicable about the downward spiral occurring to Tata Martino’s men. Make the jump as we try to dissect this puzzling match.
FC Barcelona’s director of football, Andoni Zubizarreta, talked after the Real Valladolid match, in which the Catalan team lost 1-0. The former goalkeeper chose put a positive spin on things and claimed that the team should use this defeat to learn from their mistakes. “This is a defeat we have to take in. We must reflect and learn from this because on Wednesday we have a very important game.” He went on to say that the game “was too dense. They beat us in every part of the pitch. In the second half, when we went for the win, we were unlucky.”
Saturday’s match was one of the most disappointing performances of the season. FC Barcelona lost against Real Valladolid away which means the league is now Real Madrid’s to lose. The fans were disappointed and so were the team. However, the player reactions are quite different than usual. While some players chose to self criticise their performances but look forward, others (Dani Alves) chose to take yet another swipe, his third of 2014, at the fatalism from the public. Check out what the players had to say after the jump.
WHY IS LIONEL VOMITING?
Leo: “Before they would say things that would make want to vomit…”
“…But this time I don’t think this is the case.”
Cartoon by Caye
Gerardo “Tata” Martino spoke this evening at the post match press conference, after a very unexpected and disappointing defeat away against Real Valladolid. The coach admitted the team lacked ideas to breakthrough their defence, but kept insisting that the team did not lack their usual intensity. “The team lacked ideas but not intensity. We completely failed in generating play and that’s what stopped us from getting the result. We lacked what makes us Barça: Good elaboration in our build-up, finding spaces, breaking through on the wings and having depth. But we didn’t lack attitude.” More from the coach after the jump.
totalBarça welcomes you all to the Liga match between Real Valladolid and FC Barcelona!
Saturday, March 8, 2014 @ 16:00 Barcelona time - Convert to local time
March 8, 2014
March 7, 2014