Debunking the ‘La Masía XI’

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On the 25th of December 2012, Tito Vilanova made history. By sending on Martín Montoya to replace the injured Dani Alves 13 minutes into the blaugrana’s clash against Levante. Barça’s late coach oversaw a first XI compromised entirely of La Masía graduates – a rarity that had never been seen before, nor has been seen since, in FC Barcelona’s 116 year existence.

The accomplishment, in the club’s own words, “sent shockwaves around the globe”, catapulting La Masía into football’s international spotlight. In the years that have followed, an unprecedented level of attention has been showered upon Barcelona’s youth, with the ‘farmhouse’ forming the subject of political platforms (‘La Masía no se toca’), social media interest and wide-ranging debates regarding the club’s values or perceived lack thereof. More pertinently, it has been misused as the basis for impassionate appeals to incorporate Alejandro Grimaldo, Adama Traoré and, most of all, Sergi Samper, into Barça’s first team starting XI – a sentiment that is becoming more vocal and widespread from one day to the next.

In order to understand why the ‘La Masía XI’ has become the biggest myth in Barça’s recent history we need to retrace the steps of each of those eleven graduates to understand how they arrived at Ciutat de Valencia that fateful night.

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Café con leche: Improvement needed

Fiorentina's Argentinian defender Gonzalo (R) challenges Barcelona's Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic during the International Champions Cup football match between Fiorentina and Barcelona at the Artemio Franchi Stadium in Florence on August 2, 2015. AFP PHOTO / TIZIANA FABI        (Photo credit should read TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)

Barça loses to La Viola

In the penultimate match of the preseason and with only the Gamper left to play, FC Barcelona have added another loss to their preseason count, the loss on Sunday following defeats by Manchester United and Chelsea earlier this summer.

In a match where positives could be taken from the attack but only negatives could be taken from the defense, Italian side Fiorentina managed to grab a narrow 2-1 win over the Catalans.

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The Front: Sport (3.8.2015)

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AWAITING MESSI (Fiorentina 2 Barcelona 1)

Luisito scores again, but Barcelona pays dearly for its defensive errors

The Argentine and Neymar will be tried in the Gamper in order to be ready for the Supercup

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The Front: Mundo Deportivo (3.8.2015)

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Suárez does not fail (Friendly: Fiorentina 2 Barcelona 1)

The Uruguayan scored again, Barcelona had occasions, but the two goals conceded in the beginning punished them

Rakitić orchestrated the team, still in nascency, who will confront the Gamper as a revenge

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Cartoon of the Day: Sport

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Benítez will not eat sweets in Madrid!

“But basically because Florentino has asked me to lose weight.”

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Match Center: Fiorentina vs FC Barcelona

Match Center

Welcome to the totalBarça Match Center – from pre-game to post, we’ve got everything you need for Fiorentina-Barcelona. The match kicks off at 21:00 Barcelona time – find your local time here. If you’re looking for a high quality stream, check out our partnership with fubo.tv.

Result: Fiorentina 2-1 FC Barcelona

Check out the lineups, match events, streams and live chat, after the jump. As soon as the game is finished, you will be able to submit your ratings for the players as well.

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Pre-season blues? Not a chance!

LANDOVER, MD - JULY 28: Barcelona FC poses for a team photo before playing Chelsea in the International Champions Cup North America at FedExField on July 28, 2015 in Landover, Maryland. Chelsea won in a penalty shootout. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

The last couple of weeks have been absolutely horrid. After a decent game against LA Galaxy (which we should have won by a higher margin, we’re FC Barcelona for crying out loud), we got destroyed by Manchester United and managed to throw away the game against Chelsea.

For those of you wondering what I’m going on about, this has been the (quite exaggerated) attitude of many a Barça fan in the last few days as the club ended their U.S. tour and returned to Catalunya. So, to you lot, the glass-half-empty pessimists who criticize almost everything and relegate the benefits of the tour to the bin, please read more after the jump.

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Café con leche: Diplomacy, rumours, and more

Dani Alves vs Fiorentina MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

A velvet-soft solution

The club thought about it over and over again, but the final decision is to go with diplomacy. We are of course talking about the disciplinary case UEFA opened against FC Barcelona for the ‘esteladas’ and Catalan nationalist chants heard during the Champions League final in Berlin. UEFA hit the blaugrana with €30,000 fine for ‘inappropriate banners’ and throughout last week, debate raged over whether the club should appeal.

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Are they capable of Mission Impossible?

BERLIN, GERMANY - JUNE 06: Luis Enrique manager of Barcelona celebrates victory with the trophy after the UEFA Champions League Final between Juventus and FC Barcelona at Olympiastadion on June 6, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

The players are back, the new jerseys have been worn, and pre-season games have been played. It’s around this time of the summer where the focus starts to shift back to the team, the new season, and what can we expect from it. Careful though, expectations are tough to manage. We’ve been there and we’ve witnessed the pitfalls, but we couldn’t be happier that the team is where it is today.

The facts show that FC Barcelona created a legacy, rising and improving tremendously over the last ten years. This may be one of, if not the, greatest club sides in football history. In winning two trebles, they’ve done what no other team has. Can they top that?  It may be time to ask the question that has been on many culé minds. Will this generation of players seal their decade of timeless glory with the ultimate gesture?

Can this Barça side finally be the first team to defend the Champions League title?

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The Front: Sport (2.8.2015)

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THERE WILL BE A SIGINING

Barcelona prioritises the signing of a central defender

Abennour (Monaco) is the priority, while Vertonghen (Tottenham) is the alternative

The club will reinvest a portion of the money received from the Pedro sale to reinforce the squad

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