Congratulations Atlético Madrid

Congratulations Atlético Madrid

It cannot be overstated how incredible of an accomplishment Atlético Madrid and Diego Simeone have pulled off. They are the true definition of bravery, what it means to be a team and you won’t see any one fight harder than them.

Congratulations Atlético Madrid, a most deserved champion….now go and win it in Lisbon.

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totalBarça are all monkeys

totalBarça are all monkeys

Change literally happens one person at a time. The #weareallmonkeys social media campaign ignited by Dani Alves and started by Neymar has exploded with over 100,000 tweets including the now infamous hashtag. It would have been remiss of totalBarça to not acknowledge our support for the initiative and its message that racism is a hatred that must be eradicated and that we are all same. We are all people, all humans, each of us vulnerable to the same fears and all of us capable of the same dreams. This campaign won’t be the end of racism in sport or society, but it’s one more step forward and when facing great challenges, they can only be tackled a step at a time.

In the coming days we will be inviting our totalBarça readers to submit their “we are all monkeys” image, of which some will be collated into a similar collage and one lucky entrant will receive a prize! Be sure not to miss out. Additional details to follow.

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A case for each: Messi, Ronaldo and Ribéry

A case for each: Messi, Ronaldo and Ribéry

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Franck Ribéry? Seems simple enough, three footballers, one winner. Of course the choice isn’t straightforward and seconds after a former victor names the 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or winner (BDO), debate will be unleashed. The Mig Toc’s opening piece, Ballon d’Or Debacle, asked what this award is actually for. “Is it an award for simply the best footballer, end of story, in a given year? Is it an award for solely the most impressive individual year irrespective of team success, or is it for the player whose stellar performances have contributed to his team (club or country) lifting silverware?” No irrefutable answer exists, whilst history suggests something not far from “one of the plain best footballers who via individual excellence propelled his team to triumph of major trophies.” So who deserves to win in 2013?

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Does Cristiano Ronaldo have beef?

Does Cristiano Ronaldo have beef?

Let us get a critical premise out the way: Lionel Messi, the man of every superlative, is the best footballer alive. Such is my opinion, but more credibly, numerous esteemed managers, players and former players think so as well. Over the years he has been pitted against pseudo-archenemy Cristiano Ronaldo, himself a phenomenal, historic footballer worthy of all praise. But the debate can be quieted rather simply. Messi is discussed, by several already anointed, as perhaps the best in the history of the sport; Ronaldo is not.

The topic here is not deciphering whether Messi is better than Ronaldo. He is. Rather, what follows is a continuation of the uncertain criteria and period of consideration that plagues the FIFA Ballon d’Or (BDO). Just because Messi is and, quite likely, will continue to be this planet’s superior footballer until his playing days reach their twilight, it does not entitle him annual BDOs. As concluded in The Mig Toc’s opening post, The Ballon d’Or Debacle, the BDO should fundamentally reward individual performance excellence which is integral to team success. Messi is the only winner of the recently (2010) merged FIFA BDO, much to the chagrin of chiefly you-know-who. So let’s ask: Does Cristiano Ronaldo have beef?

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How could Barcelona utilize a striker?

How could Barcelona utilize a striker?

As the Confederations Cup has evolved and Spain has marched ahead in the tournament, many have noticed the one major change in the lineup compared to the team that conquered Europe a year ago. Instead of using a false 9, Spain has used an actual striker – Roberto Soldado or Fernando Torres – and looked very lively in attack. The usage of a striker is something many have hoped to see in Barcelona as well, but as David Villa seems likely to leave the club during the summer, the change looks unlikely to happen anytime soon. But the question remains the same, is a striker something Barcelona should invest in?

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The foundation of a balanced team

The foundation of a balanced team

FC Barcelona’s defense has been talked a lot about. The ineffectiveness of our forwards has also been heavily discussed, as well as “Messi-dependency”. Xavi’s aging and Cesc’s difficulty in adapting have also raised concerns over the midfield’s future, especially now that young prospect Thiago Alcântara seems everything but certain to stay. Each area of the pitch has been talked about, each position has been speculated over. While all this speculation might well be justified, we should also keep in mind the most valuable lesson of total football; it’s all about the team working as a unit, together, and finding the right balance that allows each individual to use his strengths and contribute to the team’s performance.

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Keeping the youth on a short leash

Keeping the youth on a short leash

Barcelona is reportedly planning on loaning out some of the young stars this summer, such as Gerard Deulofeu, Rafinha and Sergi Roberto. No decisions have been made and no official talks have taken place but rumours are strongly suggesting that at least two of these three will not play in a Barça jersey next season. A loan could be an important boost for these young men’s career and would allow them to develop in a great environment, however, Barcelona must learn from the past and be careful to make sure that these players won’t be let go of for good.

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Questions with no answers

Questions with no answers

Barcelona has found itself in many unusual situations this season due to injuries, health issues, and transfer speculation surrounding some of the club legends. The dilemma that Barça faced with Éric Abidal can easily be called unusual as well. Given the circumstances, there were no right or wrong options, but yet, any decision would upset some. And the decision not to renew Abidal’s contract surely upset many.

To even understand the situation, one must keep in mind that Barcelona renewed Abidal’s contract when the player was going through his recovery and there were no guarantees that he could ever play again. Barcelona, as a club, took the risk of investing in Abidal, knowing that they might get nothing back football-wise. But the club never abandoned him and Abidal’s health was reason enough for the club to support him and stand behind him, and I think we all agree that this was a great decision.

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The disregarded youth

The disregarded youth

FC Barcelona is known to be a club that trusts its youth products and often gives them chances. We are all familiar with the stories of Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, and many other La Masia graduates who were introduced into the first team at a young age and ended up making a successful career in Catalonia. However, especially this season, it almost seems as if Barça doesn’t believe in its academy anymore, or at least, is far less eager to give the youth products chances on the pitch.

Many have wanted to see a lot more of Thiago this season, myself included. Questions have also been raised about the policy over Martín Montoya, Cristian Tello, and Marc Bartra; if they are as talented as their few performances indicate, what is stopping Barcelona from giving them more chances? These four men are perhaps the most radical examples of talented youth products that have been more or less snubbed this season.

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Dani Alves: The scapegoat for Barcelona’s issues?

Dani Alves: The scapegoat for Barcelona’s issues?

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.

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Running on fumes

Running on fumes

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?

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Keeping up with the evolution

Keeping up with the evolution

FC Barcelona’s recent loss to Bayern Munich has once again made the talk about “an end of an era” resurface. As eras remain impossible to determine while living in them, the media’s search for scandal isn’t something we should focus on. But there’s another question that has been brought up by various different parties that is worth asking; is the time of possession-based, attacking football with the formation of 4-3-3 over?

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The importance of Sergio Busquets

The importance of Sergio Busquets

If there’s one man in this FC Barcelona side who rarely gets the credit and appreciation he deserves, it’s midfielder Sergio Busquets. The old saying “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” applies perfectly to him. In the match against Bayern Munich, he wasn’t literally gone, but he was effectively marked out of the game by the opponent. We witnessed the result.

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Time to let go of Víctor Valdés

Time to let go of Víctor Valdés

Víctor Valdés (31) shocked a culé or two earlier this season when it was announced that he would not renew his contract with FC Barcelona and that he wishes to leave the Camp Nou. Now, for the first time in ages, Barça has found itself in urgent need of a new goalkeeper, and at the same time, speculation over whether Valdés will leave this summer or stay until 2014 has emerged. These two factors are somewhat contradictory.

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The future of Barça’s midfield in Thiago’s hands

The future of Barça’s midfield in Thiago’s hands

For many years now, people have speculated over Xavi’s replacement. It’s well known that Xavi isn’t getting any younger, and as much as we’d all love for him to keep playing forever, his time on the field is coming closer to its end. Speaking of replacements, many have seen Cesc Fàbregas as one, many even think that he was brought from Arsenal to fill in for Xavi. During the last year or two, however, we’ve seen that Cesc is a very different player to Xavi. Luckily for us, we have another young La Masia graduate in the team who has loads of potential and looks likely to be able to fill Xavi’s shoes when the time is right. And that young midfielder goes by the name Thiago Alcântara.

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The master of risk management: Tito’s defensive changes

The master of risk management: Tito’s defensive changes

Ever since Tito Vilanova was appointed as FC Barcelona’s new coach, the team has broken many records, scored tons of goals, and played some beautiful football. Perhaps not as breathtaking as some of the best of the 2010/11-Barça, but still, beautiful. However, it hasn’t all been all smooth, as Barça’s defensive problems have come to the point where the team has managed to keep a clean sheet only 7 times in La Liga. How have we come to this?

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The effects of Lionel Messi’s absence

The effects of Lionel Messi’s absence

Barça is often called a “one-man-team”. And the one man in the team is naturally Leo Messi. Now with Messi out due to an injury, Barça is more or less forced to look for other options, and the truthfulness of the term “one-man-team” should be revealed. However, I am not entirely convinced that this is an accurate term to describe Barça at all.

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The Ratings: FC Barcelona 5-0 RCD Mallorca

The Ratings: FC Barcelona 5-0 RCD Mallorca

Barcelona continued their march towards the La Liga title with a very easy 5-0 home win over Mallorca, even without Lionel Messi. The Argentine’s replacement, Cesc Fàbregas, ended up scoring a hat trick, but the biggest news today was the return of Eric Abidal to the game.

Here are the ratings for last night’s match:

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Tito’s first lesson

@sugwiGraphic: @sugwi

 

The Ratings: Paris Saint-Germain 2-2 FC Barcelona

The Ratings: Paris Saint-Germain 2-2 FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona got a precious away draw in Paris in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals. The result could have been better, but it’s still a positive one on a night marred by Lionel Messi’s injury.

Here are the ratings for last night’s match:

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The Ratings: Celta de Vigo 2-2 FC Barcelona

The Ratings: Celta de Vigo 2-2 FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona dropped some more points on the road in Galicia against Celta de Vigo, in what was far from a great performance. With the title pretty much sewn up and a tough Champions League pairing against Paris Saint-Germain coming up, this result is hardly something to lose sleep over though.

Here are the ratings for last night’s match:

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The Ratings: FC Barcelona 4-0 AC Milan

The Ratings: FC Barcelona 4-0 AC Milan

FC Barcelona salvaged their Champions League campaign with a vintage performance and 4-0 win over AC Milan after a 2-0 defeat in Italy. It wasn’t easy to turn the tie around, but an almost perfect collective performance ended up being enough to pull it off and send Barça to the quarterfinals.

Here are the ratings for last night’s match:

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The Ratings: FC Barcelona 2-0 Deportivo La Coruña

The Ratings: FC Barcelona 2-0 Deportivo La Coruña

In their last match before the decisive AC Milan clash for the Champions League, Barcelona cruised to an easy 2-0 win over the worst team in La Liga so far this season, Deportivo, despite resting most of their usual starters. There was hardly any drama, just a routine win that will hopefully provide some useful momentum for the Milan match.

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The Ratings: Real Madrid CF 2-1 FC Barcelona

The Ratings: Real Madrid CF 2-1 FC Barcelona

Barcelona’s slump has continued with a 2-1 defeat to a second string Real Madrid side at the Bernabeu. While the result has basically no effect on the team’s title hopes, it is still a very worrying sign of the team’s form, with a decisive clash against Milan approaching.

Here are the ratings for last night’s match:

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The Ratings: AC Milan 2-0 FC Barcelona

The Ratings: AC Milan 2-0 FC Barcelona

In what was one of their poorest European performances in recent years, FC Barcelona fell to a 2-0 away defeat at the San Siro against AC Milan on Wednesday, without creating a single clear cut goalscoring chance and putting their progression in the competition in serious jeopardy.

Here are the ratings for last night’s match:

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The Ratings: Granada CF 1-2 FC Barcelona

The Ratings: Granada CF 1-2 FC Barcelona

It was far from easy, but Barcelona put an end to a mini-streak of two league matches without wins on a road with a Messi-inspired 2-1 win at Granada, secured deep into the second half. The Argentine broke the 300-goal mark at the club and carried the team to yet another win in their quest for the league title. Here are the ratings for last night’s match: Continue reading »

The Ratings: FC Barcelona 6-1 Getafe CF

The Ratings: FC Barcelona 6-1 Getafe CF

Barcelona increased their lead at the top of La Liga with an emphatic 6-1 home win over Luis Garcia’s Getafe, in a match that was literally one way traffic from beginning to end, with six different players scoring the goals.

Read the ratings for this game after the jump!

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The Ratings: Valencia CF 1-1 FC Barcelona

The Ratings: Valencia CF 1-1 FC Barcelona

Barcelona dropped points on the road for the second consecutive time with a 1-1 draw at Mestalla. The performance and result were far from ideal, but still it is hardly a dent in the team’s title aspirations. Lionel Messi scored as usual, from the spot.

Here are the ratings for last night’s match: Continue reading »

The Ratings: Real Madrid 1-1 FC Barcelona

The Ratings: Real Madrid 1-1 FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona took a big step towards the Copa del Rey final with a 1-1 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg of the semifinals. While a win was within reach, this result still leaves everything in Barca’s hands for the second leg at Camp Nou.

Here are the ratings for today’s match:

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Match Review: FC Barcelona B 3-1 Real Madrid Castilla

Match Review: FC Barcelona B 3-1 Real Madrid Castilla

Barcelona’s Miniestadi was jumping as the teams took to the pitch in front of a sell out 16,000 crowd.

Top scorers in the Segunda Division, Barca B sat comfortably in 5th place going into this match whilst their 16th placed opponents Real Madrid Castilla were making their first trip to the miniestadi in 15 years and were hoping to do better than their last visit which resulted in a 5-0 loss back in 1998.

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