Dani Alves might not have the pace he had when he first signed for the club in 2008 at 25 years of age, but he still remains a vital player for FC Barcelona. He has been criticized a lot this season, in part unfairly so, and blaming the defensive issues on him is unreasonable. Despite all the critics, I see Alves as one of the best Barça players this season. His ineffectiveness in attack at times or the space left open on his wing isn’t always his fault, yet in some people’s eyes, the blame is placed solely on him.
It has been a rather difficult season for FC Barcelona. The illness of Tito Vilanova and the injuries suffered by many key players have made the season more or less a battle for survival, even though the Liga title has already been secured. We all know that some things can’t be controlled, such as Tito’s unfortunate illness, but could we have done something differently to prevent the injury problems we’ve faced this season? Could we have learned more from the previous seasons when the same problems occurred, though to a smaller extent?
Cristian Tello has had another effective year in the FC Barcelona first team. The zippy 21-year-old winger has started double the games compared to last year, though Tito Vilanova has used him less off the bench than predecessor Pep Guardiola. Tello was on Barça TV Sunday evening as the guest on El Marcador. A summary of his appearance is after the jump.
Pep Guardiola recently visited Argentina which has led to this inspired bit of advertising by the local branch of soft drink giant Pepsi in which Pep and Real Madrid manager José Mourinho are compared. A translation is after the jump.
Pep Guardiola’s conference before 3,200 people at the Teatro Gran Rex in Buenos Aires was labelled as one of the most important events in sports in Argentina. Contrary to Barcelona’s media, which seems to have rapidly forgotten Pep’s legacy and is working to discredit him, Argentina’s football world stopped for a day to learn and to hear someone they consider an inspiration.
TITO STALLS ON REVOLUTION
“There will not be big changes, we will do what we thought would work before Bayern”
Ticking-off for Piqué; “Perhaps he thought that he would not be one of the changes”
Barça – Betis; let’s win to be two points away from the title
Valdés out, Messi will have some playing time
Neymar’s advisers: If you go to Madrid, you will be another Robinho
Messi, emphatic: I have not been speaking more with Guardiola
With speculation abounding over who will stay and go this summer, another question often slips through the cracks, a problem specific to FC Barcelona: who will get promoted from Barça B? Every year, a couple of the club’s youngsters are given first team contracts and a chance to prove their worth. Last year, Cuenca, Fontàs, and Thiago joined the team. This year it was Dos Santos, Tello, Bartra, and Montoya. Next year, likely candidates for promotion are center-back Marc Muniesa, whose season was disrupted by a severe muscle tear this fall, midfielders Sergi Roberto and Rafinha Alcântara, and winger Gerard Deulofeu, crown prince of La Masia. Read on after the break to find out what challenges these youngsters might face in their development.
Pep Guardiola held a conference this past Thursday, attended by nearly 4,000 people at the Gran Rex Theatre in Buenos Aires. Along with Guardiola, his friend and Barça’s former External Relationship Manager, Manel Estiarte, also gave a small talk on leadership and motivation.
I had the joy and pleasure of attending this conference, mostly thanks to Consultora Med, part of the organization committee that brought Pep to Argentina.
Former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, addressing an audience in Buenos Aires, declared that the chapter in his life as Barcelona coach was definitively closed. When asked about the possibility of an eventual return to the club, he replied: “That is a closed chapter. It would take a lot for me to go back to Barcelona … I felt a great sense of calm when I left there.” Guardiola went on to note that he had “great pride for the time I spent at the club. But life goes on and you have to seek other challenges.”
Image: BERNA BOSCO
About a year ago, Pep Guardiola announced that he would be leaving FC Barcelona at the end of the season. Some of us cried, some of us thought “no way”, some of us were surprised, some of us were not and claimed that we really thought he’d leave earlier (myself among them).
By some strange coincidence, I was at the first game he ever directed at the Camp Nou, an apparently uninspiring draw against Racing Santander. Four years later, I met him at the end of his journey as Barça coach, during the week of hell, in April 2012. It’s hard to explain the changes, or the legacy if you want, I witnessed between his first game in charge and that day we got knocked out of the Champions League. But I will try.
The coming summer was always going to be an exciting one for FC Barcelona and many other top clubs, but last week, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund made it much more so. On the field, the German clubs provoked panic in Spain by dismantling Barcelona and Real Madrid with four goals apiece, leading many journalists to declare that the center of footballing power in Europe had moved at last. But off the field the German clubs were reshaping the transfer market as well. Bayern Munich acquired 20-year-old playmaker Mario Götze, Dortmund’s homegrown maestro and one of the world’s best young talents, as well as being strongly linked to Dortmund’s striker and four-goal hero against Madrid, Robert Lewandowski (24).
Both the international press and local analysts pointed out the obvious: Bayern Munich put on a masterful performance on Tuesday against FC Barcelona. Some headlines inevitably called it the end of an era. The Guardian’s Sid Lowe called it “a changing of the guards”, while Graham Hunter of ESPN mentioned that “Barcelona has now passed the baton.” Jonathan Wilson, author of Inverting the Pyramid, argued that “while tiki-taka is not dead, Tuesday’s game showed that the center of New Total Football has moved from Barcelona to Munich.”
FC Bayern Munich are already champions of the Bundesliga. They were duly crowned victors on April 6th with a 1-0 win in Frankfurt, with six league matches remaining, and remember it’s only an 18 team league. It was however hardly a surprise when they did win with the gap between themselves and second place around 20 points for most of 2013.
Dominating is the only way to describe their season, which was the plan from the outset. Three years without a trophy was too much for the Bavarian giants to take and combined with Borussia Dortmund’s resurgence inspiring them, Bayern Munich’s board and staff set out to ensure that the trophy drought ended immediately. They won the league with six games left of 34 total, a new German record, and currently sit with 81 points (equaling the all time points total) out of an available 90, winning 26, drawing only three, and losing just once. In route they scored 89 goals (2.97 per game) and conceded a mere 14 (0.47 per game), besting by some distance any of the other current leaders in Europe’s top leagues. This is particularly true defensively, with FC Barcelona, Manchester United, and Juventus allowing 33 (1.03 per game), 35 (1.06 per game), and 20 (0.61 per game) goals respectively. In brief, Bayern Munich are good.
FC Barcelona and FC Bayern Munich, titans of arguably the two strongest footballing nations, face off Tuesday in the first step to determine who will then face one of those other titans in the Champions League final at Wembley on May 25.
Bayern will host the first leg at the Allianz Arena, a stadium that saw Barcelona win 0-2 in a preseason tournament in 2011 and draw 1-1 to get through to the semi-finals of the Champions League during the storied 08/09 treble.
But those were different times.
“I admire Pep Guardiola, but I don’t need any advice from other coaches. I know my team better than anybody and I also know a lot about Spanish football and Barcelona. There has been no kind of contact at all.”
- Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes squashing any sort of speculation he will call on legendary Barça boss Pep Guardiola for inside information. Though I very much doubt Pep, the gentlemen and culé he is, would have said anything anyway.
El Pivote (The Pivot) is a totalBarça column by Anoop Jethwa, a fully licensed coach in UK, about the trials and tribulations of FC Barcelona. From the positives to the negatives, this piece will dive deep into the living fabric that is blaugrana. We welcome your thoughts and feedback in the comments section.
El Pivote is taking a look at the transfers that may or may not occur this summer, the value of stats and science versus an eye for talent and overall what history can and should tell Zubizarreta about players joining Barcelona.
MESSI, AT 70%
Leo trained with the rest of the group and his evolution is positive but it is advisable not to play today
Roura corrects: “There’s no point in comparing with Guardiola”
Vilanova and Roura will make rotations and Barça will try to achieve a victory which would decide La Liga
Barça – Levante (20h)
April 18, 2013
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April 6, 2013