Xavi: Goodbye Luis

Xavi: Goodbye Luis

Upon Luis Aragonés’ death, one of the most (if not the most) influential Spanish players of all time, Barça’s Xavi Hernández wrote his tribute to one of the most important coaches of his career. In many ways, Luis Aragonés gave back to Xavi the joy of playing football. Aragonés was made the boss of the national team and he understood that, in order to win, he needed the best players. Here, a text Xavi wrote to say goodbye to this influential character.*

“You are not Japanese. You understand what I say, don’t you?,” he said to me one night. It seems like I’m watching him, in that hotel room, and I know I will miss him, a lot. I loved him very much. And I talked to him so much too.

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Judge admits case against Sandro Rosell

Judge admits case against Sandro Rosell

El Periodico reported this afternoon (original can be found here) that Spanish High Court judge Pablo Ruz has decided to admit the case lodged against Sandro Rosell by FC Barcelona member Jordi Cases on January 18th regarding Neymar’s signing. The reason to do so is, according the Catalan newspaper, an alleged “wrongful appropriation” (“apropiación indebida”) in a variant called “distraction,” a criminal offense in Spain. Judge Ruz explained, in a document released today, that “there are enough elements to investigate those facts,” just as the prosecution demanded, so there could be found any “irregularities that are relevant from a criminal/law perspective.

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The right to know and the obligation to tell

The right to know and the obligation to tell

When Neymar joined FC Barcelona, almost everyone was happy about the signing of the next Pelé, as some enthusiastic journalists dared to name him. His quality was unquestioned, yet some concerns arose when Santos certified that the transfer amount was only 17 million euros.

Neymar’s rights were owned by Santos, DIS and Teisa, two sport management companies. The transfer, as Radio Globo revealed, was completed for 17 million euros, 55% of which were for Santos FC and the rest, for DIS and Teisa, which hold 45% of Neymar’s professional rights. FC Barcelona, on the other hand, has always maintained that the total amount was 57 million euros. So, doubt was in the air: What were the other 40 million paid for?

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Johan Cruyff: “The most important aspect of a coach are his eye”

Johan Cruyff: “The most important aspect of a coach are his eye”

Diari Ara recently published an interview with FC Barcelona historic figure Johan Cruyff. The Dutchman talked about Pep Guardiola, thought back to his first year as a blaugrana player (40 years ago) and lots of other football related subject matter. The original interview (Catalan) can be found here.

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EXCLUSIVE: The vote of no confidence that didn’t prosper

EXCLUSIVE: The vote of no confidence that didn’t prosper
Almost two weeks ago, just a few days ahead of FC Barcelona’s Annual Member’s Assembly, the association Grup D’Opinió Barca (@GrupDOpinioBarca) presented a vote of no confidence against FC Barcelona’s directive board, based on a series of reasons. The group was represented by two of its members, Jordi Cases and Joan Arnés, who presented the vote, as it should be done by individual people, not as a group.

As they had little exposure to media covering world Barça, it seems at least fair to know the reasons behind this move and why it was presented a week before the Member’s Assembly. The motion was voluntarily withdrawn days later, as they realized they would need signatures of 15% of club members to meet legal requirements. That was not clear at the moment they presented the vote, but became clear a few hours later.

I contacted them (Go Barça: GB) to ask about the nature of the vote of no confidence, and the process in general:

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A “different” Member’s Assembly

A “different” Member’s Assembly

Last Saturday FC Barcelona held its annual Member’s Assembly. A rounded amount of  4,400 members attended the assembly in person, from the approximate total of 170,000 total club members. As transcribed earlier this week, the main events of the assembly were the approval of last year’s financials, approval of the current budget and amendments/additions to the club statutes. One of the most notable changes this year was the modification to the vote of no confidence, especially important as they were aimed to prevent future motions at the former 5% minimum. It was raised to 15% to match Catalunya’s current sports law, which introduced this observation three years ago. The regional law therefore obliged clubs to change their own regulations until last June.

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Formal motion for impeachment of Sandro Rosell to be submitted

Formal motion for impeachment of Sandro Rosell to be submitted

A collection of FC Barcelona members, organized under the group Go Barça, is ready to present a “moción de censura” or a vote of no confidence against FC Barcelona president Sandro Rosell and key vice presidents Javier Faus, Carles Vilarrubí, Jordi Cardoner and Josep María Bartomeu. This is an act that members are allowed to perform under section 51 of the club’s statutes when they feel the club’s officials are not running the club according to said laws. This could have enormous repercussions if successful; the impeachment of Rosell and said other board members.

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Champions League Lookout: AFC Ajax

Champions League Lookout: AFC Ajax

A pantheon of European champions look poised to battle their way to Lisbon, where the 2014 UEFA Champions League title awaits. After a punishing defeat to FC Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of last year’s edition, FC Barcelona will attempt to bring the trophy back to Catalunya. Being drawn in a difficult group of all former European Cup champions, the Catalans will have a treacherous autumn, facing off against the likes of AFC Ajax, AC Milan, and Celtic FC. Each week, in the lead off to the kick-off of the group stage, totalBarça will profile one member of Group H in the hopes of better understanding the enemy. Maria Ines, writing from South America, continues the series this week with a look at Dutch opponents, AFC Ajax. Continue reading »

Éric Abidal: The value of people

Éric Abidal: The value of people

Before you start reading this I should probably say that the Éric Abidal subject is very sensitive for me. So this opinion piece is written from the conviction that idols, especially when you love a football team for most of your life, are bound to take a very special place in your heart. I’ve never been keen on admiring the striker, the top scorer. That’s too ‘mainstream’ I used to think. I used to admire more a figure that makes the difference away from the spotlight: Deco rather than Ronaldinho, Xavi rather than Messi, Pep Guardiola before Rivaldo and so on. On defenders, my preferences also go to the ones that build rather than those who destroy. Frank de Boer over Abelardo, Dani Alves beyond any other right back ever, and Éric Abidal above all.

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Filling the Boots: A case for Frank de Boer

Filling the Boots: A case for Frank de Boer

With the unsettling and tragic departure of Tito Vilanova, social networks and sports blogs have lit up with speculation about who the next Barça manager will be. The team at totalBarça weighs in on who might be the best man to fill the boots at our storied club. In this post, Maria makes the case for Frank de Boer. Anims, Tito.

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Tito Vilanova set to resign?

Tito Vilanova set to resign?

The sports media has exploded today with the possible news that Tito Vilanova has presented his resignation as FC Barcelona’s manager.

According to the first reports and speculation, his cancer has relapsed and he needs to focus on his recovery. Nothing has been officially confirmed yet, but a press conference will be held by sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta and club president Sandro Rosell at 20:30 CEST.

Leading sports publications in Barcelona are already headlining with the news. Stay tuned to totalBarça for more news as it develops.

Video: Six penalties and one goal

This weekend, the FC Barcelona Infantil team (U-14) won the Reino de León tournament. In a vibrant final, the Barça kids defeated Atlético de Madrid. But there is more. The match was decided on penalties … and there emerged Barça goalkeeper, Ignacio “Iñaki” Peña, who stopped six (!) penalties and then scored the last one to seal Barça’s victory.

Barça won 4-3 at penalties, with each team taking nine. Iñaki was one of the heroes, as Sport reports.

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Manel Estiarte: “There is no Guardiola method: it’s him”

Manel Estiarte: “There is no Guardiola method: it’s him”

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.

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Sneak peek: Pep Guardiola in Argentina

Sneak peek: Pep Guardiola in Argentina

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.

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A year after Pep, Part I

A year after Pep, Part I

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.

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Messi is a dog – by Hernán Casiari

Messi is a dog – by Hernán Casiari

What is that?? Reading this post’s title, this might be your first reaction. But at the same time, I would like to invite you to explore a bit more.

A few weeks ago a beautiful video became popular on YouTube. However, the notoriety wasn’t about the video itself, but the text that went along with it.

Hernán Casiari is an Argentinian journalist and writer who lives in Barcelona. About a year ago, he posted a text called “Messi is a dog” (“Messi es un perro”), in which he proceeded to explain why Messi is so different from all other modern football players. He proposed an interesting analogy, one that Norberto Janenson (an Argentinian showman-magician) turned into a video.

Here it is, one of the most emotive and inspiring works on our very own Leo Messi. I tried my best to make sure Casiari’s words did not get lost in translation.

Enjoy!

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Match Preview: RC Celta de Vigo vs FC Barcelona

Match Preview: RC Celta de Vigo vs FC Barcelona

After a long international break, FC Barcelona gets back to action in a difficult visit to the northern Spainish city of Vigo. Despite almost two weeks with no competitive action, the culés have been busy in the news this week. The return of Tito Vilanova to Barcelona’s training sessions, as well as Eric Abidal’s long awaited comeback to the squad are without a doubt the best news the team could have gotten this whole season. Both have been fighting disease and are slowly coming back to where they belong, the pitch.

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Xavi: Blaugrana for life

Xavi: Blaugrana for life

I was trying to remember the last player who actually retired at Barça and I couldn’t. Historically, most players sign for Barça and then leave at some point. Some are consumed by either their ego, the fans’ demands, or just by the high pressure the team puts on them daily. Their performances, movements, gestures, words, and looks are discussed over and over again on countless TV and radio shows, until there’s nothing left. The press follows its own interests, but works for the board in charge as well. One wrong step and a player is out.

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Post-Match Review: Málaga CF 1-3 FC Barcelona

Post-Match Review: Málaga CF 1-3 FC Barcelona

Sunday’s game at Málaga was probably one of the most difficult for Barça in La Liga, considering Málaga’s good run of form and the fact that it was an away game. And it certainly lived up to expectations.

Barça started with the usual XI, with Mascherano in defense instead of  Puyol, and Dani Alves back. Málaga showed up with a couple of changes, most notably Roque Santa Cruz in front, probably to challenge Barça’s centre backs, replacing Javier Saviola. Dangerous Joaquin and Isco kept their positions, and made it clear why they’re among the best forwards in Spain.

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Match Review: FC Barcelona 5-0 Córdoba CF

Match Review: FC Barcelona 5-0 Córdoba CF

Yesterday, Barça played Córdoba in the second leg of the Round of 16 of the Copa del Rey. Despite resting players such as Iniesta, Xavi and Messi, Barça quickly found its place thanks to Thiago Alcántara and Cesc Fàbregas. Both midfielders had a fantastic game, especially Thiago, whose vision and precision helped the team to dominate Córdoba and give the opponent no chances. Thiago also offered a fantastic goal, the first one of the night.

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Barça’s 2012: A year at a glance

Barça’s 2012: A year at a glance

If someone watched Barça play in the last days of 2011, then slept for a year and watched the last game of 2012, they would probably think that not much had happened, that nothing had changed. But we all know that was not the case.  2012 tested our strength as culés in many ways, and, hopefully, helped us to learn from those experiences.

Upon reflection, the last 12 months have been a rollercoaster: some great moments, some sad moments, and some to learn from. I would say the events of 2012 will probably shape many of the years to come at Barça.

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Discovering Tito Vilanova

Discovering Tito Vilanova

Shortly after Tito Vilanova was appointed as Barça’s head coach, TV3 Catalunya broadcasted a special documentary that showed some unknown characters and aspect of Tito’s life.

His time at La Masía, his career as a professional football player, and the start of his career as a coach (when he had Piqué, Cesc, and Lio Messi under his command when they were kids), are reviewed in this three part video.

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Abidal’s great marathon

Abidal’s great marathon

A few days ago, Catalunya’s TV3 broadcast a special TV show about Eric Abidal’s long journey back to fitness. The special recalls some emotional moments, such as his first come back in 2011 against Real Madrid (Champions League semi-final), his Barça teammates dedicating the Copa del Rey to him in 2011/2012, and the very special goose-bump inducing moment when he lifted the 2011 Champions League trophy.

The video is full of emotional and significant images, moments and the thoughts that Eric shared with other people at the hospital, as well as his feelings when he heard the Camp Nou chanting his name during the 22nd minute of every game played while he was at the hospital.

The meaning of family, team mates, and coaches (Pep Guardiola first, and now Tito Vilanova) is also covered in this 3 part video, that you can watch thanks to TV3.

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Post-Match Review: Real Valladolid 1-3 FC Barcelona

Post-Match Review: Real Valladolid 1-3 FC Barcelona

The days leading up to the last game of the year for Barça were a roller coaster for both the club and its fans. After contract renewals were announced for three of the most important players in the squad, Puyol, Xavi and Messi, the team welcomed Eric Abidal back to training after a lengthy recovery period following his liver transplant. However, elation was short lived as the next day, all were shocked to learn of Tito Vilanova’s relapse. It was a hectic week for the blaugranes. Having the coach ill, undergoing surgery, it’s always a difficult matter, but Barça today showed ‘seny, pit i collons‘ (calm, strength, and bravery) to defeat Valladolid and strengthen its position at the top of the table.

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Post-Match Review: Real Betis 1-2 FC Barcelona

Post-Match Review: Real Betis 1-2 FC Barcelona

The encounter between Barça and Betis was singled out by culés as one of the most important in the la Liga season, since it has always been said that Liga titles are won on difficult fields such as this one. An away match, small ground, loud crowd. In fact, Pep Guardiola’s Barça had never won at Betis’s field. So everyone was expecting to see a hard fought game.

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Piqué: “The good start gives us peace of mind”

Piqué: “The good start gives us peace of mind”

On Monday, Barça defender Gerard Piqué, who was sorely missed while injured and is now returning to good form once again, talked to the press ahead of the Champions League game against Benfica on Wednesday.

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Match Review: Levante UD 0-4 FC Barcelona

Match Review: Levante UD 0-4 FC Barcelona

Today’s match was highly anticipated as Barça was facing a challenge difficult to predict. Despite FC Barcelona’s good form, the team was playing Levante away, a trip that has proven to be complicated in the past. With that in mind, Barça started the game doing what it does best: controlling the ball and pressing the rivals from the first line of attack. It worked, but Levante provided a very ordered structure in the back, with at least 5 players present at every moment. They were also quick at attacking, which was even more evident after some time had passed. Balls were easily lost by Barça’s attack, as precision was not at its best, and Levante took advantage of that lack of concentration. They had two good chances to score through Barkero (12 min) and the dangerous Martins (38 min). Barça, in the mean time, tried too hard from the center of the attack. There were some good combinations between Messi and Xavi, while Cesc was a bit off and not reading the last pass well.

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Champions League Match Preview: Spartak Moscow vs FC Barcelona

Champions League Match Preview: Spartak Moscow vs FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona will face the upcoming game against Spartak in a chilly environment – one of the biggest enemies of the new Champions League clash will not only the opposing team, but the cold as well. Winter has already arrived to Moscow, and needless to say, the weather is quite different than that of the Mediterranean coast and what Barça is accustomed to.

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Match Review: RCD Mallorca 2-4 FC Barcelona

Match Review: RCD Mallorca 2-4 FC Barcelona

Ahead of the difficult challenge that is a visit to Mallorca, Barça had its own problems to solve. One of them, the defense, is slowly resolving, with the anticipated and most welcome come back of Gerard Piqué after a long time away from the pitch. Another issue is the old debate of what to do against defensive teams that do not hesitate to park the bus against us when needed. Many have stated that Barça still doesn’t have the answer to this problem, but Tito seems to be finding it, despite the loss at Celtic. That was one of the key things today.

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Eric Abidal: Your struggle is our strength

Eric Abidal: Your struggle is our strength

The following video, posted by Barça TV on its YouTube page, shows the progress and struggle of Eric Abidal to come back to one of his favourite things in life: playing football. After a liver transplant, the Frenchman and much missed left back is using the natural landscapes of Catalunya as his training field. Accompanied by inseparable coach Emili Ricart, part of Barça’s prep team, Abidal is slowly getting his strength back. His efforts are an inspiration and example for his team mates and all culés.

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