Coming into the game, Deportivo La Coruña had yet to lose against a “B-team” in over 23 years, while FC Barcelona B was hitting a rough path coming from three straight defeats. The Barça kids were also weakened by the international break seeing three players joining up with their senior national teams as well as by a growing injury list. On the other side, Deportivo coach Fernando Vázquez could count on all his players and on good tea, confidence after going three games undefeated.
Víctor Valdés is about to leave FC Barcelona after over 20 years serving the Catalan club. He made it very clear that no one can stop him from leaving; it’s a decision set in stone.
But who will replace maybe the best goalkeeper in the history of the club? Who will take on what could be the most difficult goalkeeping job in the world?
In the third home game of the season Barcelona B welcomed Real Madrid Castilla to the MiniEstadi. It was also the return of Kiko Femenía who left Barça for Madrid this summer. Well welcome and welcome, “Kiko Femenía hijo puta es” might not be the welcome most people prefer.
Last season was Real Madrid Castilla’s first season back in the Spanish second division in five years and it had been even longer since they last played their arch-rival FC Barcelona B, 15 years. The two encounters then filled both stadiums and ended in wins both sides, 3-2 in Madrid and Barça B winning in Barcelona 3-1.
There wasn’t a big turnout at the Mini Estadi as FC Barcelona B made their home debut for the 2013-14 season against CD Lugo. Over the summer there have been a lot of changes to the B-squad at Barcelona and there were only four players left in the starting eleven since they last played Lugo at home.
As FC Barcelona won the league title on Saturday evening, fans filled Las Rambla around Canaletes to celebrate. And yesterday the Barcelona streets filled up with supporters as the team travelled through the city in an open-bus parade. totalBarça’s Alexandra was there to get you pictures from the celebration…
On Saturday night, Barça went out and trashed Mallorca 5-0. They did it without Messi, without Puyol, Xavi or even Busquets. Sure it was Mallorca and not Man United, Madrid or PSG. But still, it is one of many games that have proved that Barça is not dependent on one or a few players. Of course, Messi is important for Barça, but the team has never been dependent on him. There are games when he came to play from the bench and contributed to a winning result, changed the outcome of the game, like the other day against PSG or like that cold night in Ukraine against Shakhtar in 2008. Let’s make this clear: Barça without Messi wouldn’t collapse. The team isn’t built around Messi, it’s built to get the best out of Messi. The Barça style isn’t dependent on him.
As the referee blew the whistle for full time, Éric Abidal dragged off his shirt. Under it he had on another one, one with a very special message: “Merci mon cousin”. The message in French means “thank you my cousin”. As the first reporters found their way to the man of the evening, the first thing Abi told them was “Merci Gérard! Without him I wouldn’t be here today.”
Lionel Messi was lying down on the pitch looking up to the sky with his arms raised. Jordi Alba was kissing the club badge on his shirt. David Villa was sliding on his knees screaming of happiness. In the stands B team players Sergi Roberto and Marc Muniesa were going mad with their Barça scarfs and flags. So was the rest of the Camp Nou. Kids, grandparents, everyone was jumping, screaming, singing, raising their hands to their heads, wondering: did that just happen?
BOOM. It was one of those moments, when everything you were complaining about, everything you were thinking or worrying about became insignificant. The disappointing 1-1 draw game in Sevilla, played a few days earlier, didn’t mean anything anymore either. It was the 15th of March, 2011 and in the Barcelona dressing room, football had become meaningless. Xavi Hérnandez later described the situation as the worst moment in his footballing career and the worst thing he lived through in a dressing room that was no stranger to scandal and pressure.
Catalan journalist Guillem Gómez authored Francesc Calvet, El pagés que va triomfar al Barça, a book that tells the story of Calvet, a country man who took part in the mythical team of les Cinc Copes. In addition to being a part of that legendary Barça team, Calvet was also one of the first set of players who can be considered ‘La Masia players’. Gómez took time out to discuss with totalBarça his book and a little bit of blaugrana history. At the moment, the book is published only in Catalan, but a Spanish version is set to come and there is also a possibility for the book to be released in English.
I’ve been following youth football at Barça for a while now. And there have been many talents produced, many “safe” stars for the future. However, most of those “safe” future stars, those everyone thought would make it, didn’t. In other words, they didn’t live up to their potential. Instead, a few of those no one really paid much attention to, did make it.
But how can we really know that a youth player will make it? That he will go all the way to the first team or even become one of the best if not the best in the world one day? This task might prove impossible. Because the ball is round and everything can happen in football, and everything can happen in life. Even the most talented lad can drop his focus for one reason or another or get injured or take the wrong decision at the wrong time. We simply cannot predict who will make it big.
Andrés Iniesta is not only one of the world’s best football players, finishing third in the most recent Ballon d’Or voting, he is also one of the most beloved footballers around the world. In fact, he is the only Barça player it is socially acceptable for a Madrid or Espanyol fan to like. But what makes him so popular? Why is Iniesta special in this way? To understand better what kind of a footballer and a person Andrés Iniesta is, here are a few anecdotes about his past that have undoubtedly shaped his present character.
Iniesta’s start at FC Barcelona was a tenuous one. The midfielder even later described his first months at La Masia as “hell”. Jorge Troiteiro, a footballer who shared a bunk-bed with the then 12-year-old Andrés, remembers that time well: “Most of the days he cried a bit, because he was away from his family. So, I joked to cheer him up. But the greatest thing for us was to see the Camp Nou from our window and we used to dream that one day we too would succeed there.” Success, however, would come earlier than Iniesta dreamed…
Barça B beat Real Madrid Castilla 3-1 in the mini-Clásico at a sold out Miniestadi. After the game the two goalscorers, Gerard Deulofeu and Sergio Araujo, talked about the game to the media.
Deulofeu commented that although it was a Clásico, the team wasn’t beset by nerves: “It was a normal game. We knew it was a classic, but we weren’t nervous.” He agreed that the sending off of Álex changed the game: “They played their defence quite high in the first half which prevented us from taking the ball with ease, but then came the red card and everything was a bit easier.”
As Culés, we are all extremely thankful to Josep Guardiola i Sala, a man that has achieved and changed so much at our club. But there is one particular group of people that might be a little more thankful than anyone else, a group of people whose lives and careers took a new turn when Josep Guardiola decided to let them make their debut for FC Barcelona. During his four years as coach of our beloved club, Pep gave no less than 22 youth team players their chance to make their dream of debuting for Fútbol Club Barcelona a reality. Five of these players also made their B team debuts under Pep.
Twenty-two players in four years is a large number and it means twenty-two changed lives. In this series, I will take a look at all 22 of these players, examine their career trajectories and how Pep and the chance to debut in the first team impacted their footballing careers and their lives.
In this edition, we’ll look into the stories of: The boy who was said to be the biggest goalkeeping talent at La Masia since Valdés, but who wanted too much, too early: Ruben Miño. And the boy who spent his entire childhood at the club but had to go through the hardest of challenges to get where he is today: Martín Montoya!
We are all extremely thankful to Josep Guardiola i Sala, a man that achieved and changed so much at our club. But there is one group of people that might be a little more thankful than anyone else, a group of people whose lives and careers took a new turn when Josep Guardiola decided to let them make their debut for FC Barcelona. During his four years as coach of our beloved club, Pep gave no less than 22 youth team players their chance to make the dream of debuting for Fútbol Club Barcelona a reality. Five of these players also made their B team debuts under Pep.
Twenty-two players in four years is a large number, and it means many changed lives. In this series, I will take a look at all 22 of these players, examine their career trajectories and how Pep and the chance to debut in the first team impacted their footballing careers and their lives.
In this edition, I’ll explore the backgrounds of the next two youngsters to make their first team debuts under Guardiola: Oriol Romeu and Sergi Goméz. Midfielder Oriol Romeu, the boy who once was too short for Espanyol, was supposed to become Sergio Busquets’ back-up at Barça, but when Cesc returned from Arsenal he saw an opportunity and left for England. Sergi Goméz, the Barça B centerback, once made Zubizarreta promise him more vacation time after a year playing with three different teams at the club, only to jump for joy when Zubi did not keep his promise. Read more about the two players after the jump.
It's not Messi that Barça is dependent on, it's these kids.
Xavi places the ball at the corner. His teammates fill the penalty area as he takes a few steps back. Seconds later, the ball is in the net. His perfect hit of the ball made it curve and go straight in. Neither his teammates nor opponents had any chance to get to the ball. The ball was destined for only one place – the goal. It was a true golazo, but nothing unusual for the 9 year old Xavi Pleguezuelo. He plays as a left back for FC Barcelona’s Benjamin A side and it’s not the first time he has curled a ball straight into the goal from a corner kick.
Eleven is obviously the ‘number of the week’ for Barça. It is not because FC Barcelona are currently 11 points ahead of Real Madrid, it’s because of something a culé should be even more proud over – last Sunday in Valencia, FC Barcelona featured 11 homegrown players for the first time as they won 4-0 over Levante.
In a special five part series, totalBarça will feature each of the FC Barcelona nominees from the 23-man shortlist for the 2012 FIFA Ballon d’Or. Over the next week, a different contributor will present a nominee and argue for why he should win this year’s prestigious award before the announcement of the final three contenders on November 29th. On Friday, Amanda emphasized Gerard Piqué’s strong showing for Spain over the summer. Today, Alexandra examines a man of many nicknames and infinite football skill, Andrés Iniesta.
He is known by many names: The solutions man, Illusionista, Da Viniesta, Don Andrés, Andresito, Pale Knight, San Andrés, El héroe de Johannesburgo, Heartbreaker, Choir Boy, El genio de La Mancha, El mago de Fuentealbilla, El Caballero Blanco, El Fantasmita, El Cerebrito, Dulce Iniesta, El Mago Iniesta, El Sabio, Gasparin, El dios del futbol, Anguila Eléctrica, El Anti-Galactico, Humble Genius.
In Swedish we often use the phrase “Kärt barn har många namn”. Translated it means something like ‘a loved child has many names’. In other words, we have many names for the things we love. This is also a good way to describe Andrés Iniesta. I’m not sure if there is another football player that has as many nicknames as Andrés Iniesta. I’m also not sure if there is a more beloved player than Andrés Iniesta.
Barça’s Juvenil A team walked into the match as not uncomfortable leaders of group 1. With two wins, one draw and two losses in their previous five games, but despite all that a draw would guarantee them qualification to the next round. However, they did not rest on that and made sure to win a great game with a final scoreline of 3-1.
“Give me joy in my heart, Henrik Larsson, give me joy in my heart, I pray, give me joy in my heart Henrik Larsson, give me Larsson ’til the end of day.. Henrik Larsson, Henrik Larsson, Henrik Larsson is the king of kings…”
The date is October 23rd, the scene is the Barcelona metro as the Celtic supporters make their way towards the Camp Nou. It is almost nine years since Henrik Larsson left Celtic but such is his impact that he will never be forgotten neither in Glasgow nor in Barcelona. Few footballers manage to have an enormous impact on the club they play for and their fans. There are even fewer who manage it in two different clubs. totalBarça received the privilege to converse with the one who did – Henrik Larsson!
“Where yah going?” a curious Celtic lad asks; two of his friends have just crossed the street even if Camp Nou is in another direction. His mate looks back and answers “Buying a Catalunya flag!” like it was the most obvious thing. Later as the Barça hymn starts at the Camp Nou, looking up at the Celtic fans in the top of the stadium quite a few Catalan flags can be seen, at least over 10 of them. While looking down at the Barça fans an Irish flag can be seen as well. This is without a doubt a meeting between two clubs that seem to have a pretty good relationship. Before the game has started it’s not difficult to understand that irrespective of the outcome on that green pitch tonight, the love between these two groups of fans will prevail.
In what was perhaps the strongest display of Catalan nationalism at any recent El Clàssic, I was lucky enough to attend Sunday’s match and experience it among local Catalans.
The ambiance was familiar, just like going to watch your local 5th division team. The same people always attend, everyone knows each other. People greet one another as they take their seats. But this was no 5th division game, this was El Clàssic at the Camp Nou, the legendary match up of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.
The rain poured down as time ran out with the result still at 0-0. Disappointment around the Camp Nou started to spread among the 98,000 people who had managed to get themselves there that December evening in 2008. For many it was a dream come true, but would their dream end like this–goalless in the rain? Carles Puyol had another idea, as he threw himself into the air. He did not think about how he would land or where he would go. He had just one thing in his mind–the goal. His curly locks fluttered in the air as Puyol seemingly emerged from nowhere to propel the ball toward goal, only to see it miss the target. However, the lion, Samuel Eto’o, who always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, was there to get a toe on it–1-0. The striker ran toward the corner, screaming with happiness, yanking on his shirt as the rain poured down, while the whole stadium exploded with cries of “¡Madrid! ¡Cabron! ¡Salud al Campeon!” This is one of the most magical moments of my life.