Match Review: FC Barcelona 0-1 RC Celta de Vigo

Match Review: FC Barcelona 0-1 RC Celta de Vigo

Wastefulness is one of things you never want to have when playing a game of football. You know that you may not get many chances, but those that you do get you finish well. What happens if you get 19 shots, 15 of those being clear-cut chances? Are you allowed to waste them? Of course not. If you do, you are punished. The ball never forgives. If you make mistakes, it stings you. That was pretty much what happened with Barcelona in the match against Celta. The Blaugranas were looking for a response after the clásico, but ended up wasting a catalogue of chances and losing all three points against a valiant Celta side that did basic things well to inflict a second straight league defeat on the Catalans.

Continue reading »

He’s literally impossible

He’s literally impossible

On the 1st of July Nate Silver’s ESPN statistics and analytics blog FiveThirtyEight published the “Lionel Messi is Impossible” piece. Over social media recently I stated that it’s not the numbers that prove Messi is the best player in the world. What does then? To shorten what is complicated and longwinded reasoning, it comes down to a simple statement: you can just see it. Then a follower reminded me of the aforementioned FiveThirtyEight piece, though he ironically implied that Messi isn’t about stats and figures when the entire premise of the article he cited is stats and figures. Which is precisely the beauty of “Lionel Messi is Impossible”. Even though his genius is exponentially more than the box score, measurables are handy because there are no “yeah, but”s. These are hard, inarguable analytical facts which as I will go through to fortify Messi’s unmatchable grandeur. Now quoting the author Benjamin Morris:

By now I’ve studied nearly every aspect of Messi’s game, down to a touch-by-touch level: his shooting and scoring production; where he shoots from; how often he sets up his own shots; what kind of kicks he uses to make those shots; his ability to take on defenders; how accurate his passes are; the kind of passes he makes; how often he creates scoring chances; how often those chances lead to goals; even how his defensive play marking compares to other high-volume shooters. 

And that’s just the stuff that made it into this article. I arrived at a conclusion that I wasn’t really expecting or prepared for: Lionel Messi is impossible.

What I particularly loved about this piece was its scope. Morris crunches a ton of numbers to gives us a perfectly fair representative sample that analyses the gauntlet of football. It’s also a handy source to squash any annoying Ronaldo versus Messi debate. So let’s get into it.

Continue reading »

Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs AFC Ajax

Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs AFC Ajax

FC Barcelona hosts the pioneers of totaalvoetbal AFC Ajax Tuesday evening for round three of the UEFA Champions League group stage. Now approaching the halfway point of group play with a mere 3 points under their belt, the Catalans have a chance to get their campaign back on track in what few expect to be an easy group. With a humbling defeat at Paris Saint Germain (PSG) and a narrow win over APOEL Nicosia, Barcelona has shown its own mortality. And with so many among the Ajax ranks familiar with the Barcelona’s mechanisms, it would be difficult to argue that this should prove a walk in the park for the hosts.

Continue reading »

Match Preview: FC Barcelona – SD Eibar

Match Preview: FC Barcelona – SD Eibar

We are just one week away from the first clásico at the Bernabéu, and everything seems to be rotating around the big match in Madrid. The referee, Neymar’s form, Lionel Messi’s position, the potential return of Luis Suárez. However, people seem to forget that Barcelona have to play another match before travelling to the capital. Unknown Eibar are at the Camp Nou today, and given that the league table guarantees that Barça will go to Madrid above their eternal rivals, complacency might settle down amongst the players. Eibar though is the last team you would want to be complacent against. Read more…

Continue reading »

UCL Rivals: Paris Saint-Germain

UCL Rivals: Paris Saint-Germain

FC Barcelona will travel to France to square up against Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) on Tuesday. On paper, the Parisians are Barcelona’s strongest opponents in Group F of the UEFA Champions League and should be Luis Enrique’s toughest match yet. PSG have certainly caused trouble for Barcelona in the past, nearly knocking out Tito Vilanova’s weakened side in the 2012/13 UCL quarterfinals. It took some dramatic late heroics from a half-fit Leo Messi to defeat Carlo Ancelotti’s men, but much has changed in the last year and a half. How will the French giants stack up against Barcelona this time around? Read more after the jump.

Continue reading »

Sergi Samper: A culé for life

Sergi Samper: A culé for life

Sergi Samper became the third La Masia graduate to make his official first team debut under Luis Enrique after Lucho trusted him with a starting spot in Barcelona’s Champions League opening match against APOEL Nicosia. Culés were clearly pleased with the 19-year-old’s performance on a night that didn’t bring out the best of the blaugrana, but many Barça fans were surprised by the midfielder, who seamlessly stepped into the shoes of the midfield’s Mr. Dependable, Sergio Busquets, his idol. This question was surely high on the post-match agenda for culés: Who is this kid, and what can he do?

Read more about Samper after the jump.

Continue reading »

UCL Rivals: APOEL Nicosia

UCL Rivals: APOEL Nicosia

FC Barcelona start their bid to win the UEFA Champions League (UCL) four years after the Wembley triumph with a home match against APOEL Nicosia. The Cypriot champions were the team drawn from Pot 4 in the UEFA Champions League draw, but that is about how much most culés know about the Nicosia-based team. This season, just like every year, we give you deep insight into every team Barcelona will face on the route to Berlin, starting with our first UCL rivals APOEL Nicosia. Read more…

Continue reading »

Match Preview: CD Alavés – FC Barcelona B

Match Preview: CD Alavés – FC Barcelona B

Barcelona B are in action for yet another weekend, with a match for matchday four of the Liga Adelante. Following two successful home outings against Sabadell and Zaragoza, the Blaugranas will have to prove that the opening day fiasco at El Sadar was nothing more than a bad day at the office, and that they still carry last season’s tendency of winning the majority of away games. It won’t be easy, as Alavés is a hard team to beat and the Mendizorroza a tricky ground to play at. But with some key players back from national team duty, Eusebio should have enough resources to at least pursue the win.

Continue reading »

Managing La Masia: The quiet makeover of Barça B

Managing La Masia: The quiet makeover of Barça B

Much has been made of the overhaul Barcelona’s first team has undergone this summer. 2014 has seen the departure of Victor Valdés and Carles Puyol, over 150 million euros spent in the transfer market, and what feels like a return to Pep Guardiola’s values with Luis Enrique. In particular, much has been made of Luis Enrique’s use of the youth team in preseason and the first two Liga games, in which 19-year-olds Munir El Haddadi and Sandro Ramirez each made their first-team debuts and scored.

A statistic making the rounds of late shows that Luis Enrique has already featured Barça B players more than Gerardo Martino did all last season. With Luis Suárez still banned and a sulking Gerard Deulofeu shipped out on loan, culés are delighted to have a seemingly ceaseless conveyor belt of talented youths to fill the gaps. Indeed, Barcelona B is brimming with talent in nearly every position, and seems perfectly situated to supplement the first team through the 2015 transfer ban. The timing couldn’t be better. Yet amidst the overwhelming focus on Luis Enrique and Andoni Zubizarreta’s renewal of the first team, few have drawn attention to the quiet work at Barcelona B over the last few years that have brought these talents to the surface. Read on after the jump.

Continue reading »

Match Review: FC Barcelona B 4-1 Real Zaragoza

Match Review: FC Barcelona B 4-1 Real Zaragoza

If anyone told you that Barcelona B would end up beating Zaragoza 4-1 in two weeks’ time of the opener at El Sadar, you would have probably thought the man was over confident, or blown away by last season’s extraordinary exploits. Yet that’s precisely what happened at the Miniestadi yesterday. Eusebio’s team not only beat a promotion hopeful, but they completely demolished Zaragoza. They did so with 10 absences, in the aftermath of a summer that saw many of the team’s stars depart. The storyline is just inspiring. What’s more exciting than the previously sloppy, chance-missing Dongou bagging a brace for the second week on the run, and Gerard Gumbau, some 19-year-old kid who had only previously played football in the Primera Catalana scoring seconds after he came on? These moments are moments only offered by Eusebio’s Barça B. Read more after the jump.

Continue reading »

Comparing Douglas, Alves and Montoya

Comparing Douglas, Alves and Montoya

São Paulo FC fans all over Brazil are lauding the efforts of club directors after off-loading right back Douglas Pereira, whom many fans considered a liability and not worthy of a starting place on their beloved team. To be fair, Dani Alves is also seen by many Brazilians in a similar light domestically, but how one performs from team to team can sometimes provide quite the study in contrast. While assurances of his defensive abilities are plentiful online, numbers from Opta Sports compiled by ESPN Brasil do a little bit more to dispel the worries of non-Portuguese-speaking culés frantically combing the internet for more on who exactly this Douglas character is and what he could possibly offer on a right flank that has been so dominantly deputized by Dani Alves and to a far lesser extent, Martín Montoya. Continue reading »

The rise of Munir El Haddadi

The rise of Munir El Haddadi

FC Barcelona managed to begin the season with a 3-0 win against Elche, with Leo Messi bagging a brace and generally looking to be close to his effervescent best. However, the most grabbing storyline from the blaugranas’ winning league opener was the goalscoring first team debut of Munir El Haddadi. The 18-year-old, who will turn 19 on September 1st, put on one of the most complete displays a forward can produce, and scribed his name on the record books with his first Barça goal. Read on to find out who Munir really is, and whose feat he has been able to match over the past year…

Continue reading »

Match Review: CA Osasuna 2-0 FC Barcelona B

Match Review: CA Osasuna 2-0 FC Barcelona B

Barcelona B’s 2014/15 Liga Adelante season began with a defeat at El Sadar against promotion contenders Osasuna. What the reserves showed on the pitch at Pamplona must have surely left coach Eusebio with plenty to ponder. The team was lackluster, lackeing the grit and determination to match the hosts’ energy. Eusebio’s side created very few chances, and was forced to play with a backline that was totally in shambles. Avoiding relegation will be a challenge this season. Read more…

Continue reading »

Looking into Barça B 2014/15-Part 2

Looking into Barça B 2014/15-Part 2

Barcelona B are coming off the back of an historic season in Liga Adelante, having managed to equal the side’s best ever finish achieved by Luis Enrique’s team in 2010/11. However, last year’s squad has been stripped apart, with many players sealing moves abroad, others moving to La Liga clubs, and others released. Coach Eusebio Sacristán has a squad that includes just 15 players who were with the team last year, with the rest being new signings and players who were promoted from last year’s all-conquering Juvenil A side. Through this mini-series, which is to be split into two parts, we will attempt to give you an insight into your second favourite Barça team. Part 1 gave you an idea on those who are still here from last year’s squad. Read on to meet the rest of the squad, including all new signings…

Continue reading »

Looking into Barça B 2014/15 – Part 1

Looking into Barça B 2014/15 – Part 1

Barcelona B are coming off the back of an historic season in Liga Adelante, having managed to equal the side’s best ever finish achieved by Luis Enrique’s team in 2010/11. However, last year’s squad has been stripped apart, with many players sealing moves abroad, others moving to La Liga clubs, and others released. Coach Eusebio Sacristán has a squad that includes just 15 players who were with the team last year, with the rest being new signings and players who were promoted from last year’s all-conquering Juvenil A side. Through this mini-series, which is to be split into two parts, we will attempt to give you an insight into your second favourite Barça team. Read on to meet the squad…

Continue reading »

Operation Centre Back

Operation Centre Back

With the Luis Suarez transfer saga now finally over, it is time for FC Barcelona to turn its attention to one of the most burning issues in the footballing sector of the club. The purchase of a new centre-back. The search has been going on for years but has not managed to bear fruit. Yet the need for a centre-back has now stopped being just evident; it is rather best described as urgent. Still, the big question remains – Why is it so difficult to get our man? What does he have to be like? Read more after the jump…

Continue reading »

Argentina edges closer to World Cup dream

Argentina edges closer to World Cup dream

After Germany mauled Brazil 7-1 in the hosts’ worst defeat in history, it was up to Argentina to truly show their quality as a team against a very dangerous Dutch side to book a final date in Maracanã. But Louis Van Gaal’s men in orange were not an easy team to beat, and with uncensored images of the Germany/Brazil game still fresh in the players’ minds, both teams did their best to secure a clean sheet through heroic defending. Both teams succeeded. The scoreless draw led to penalty shootouts in which Sergio Romero came out as a hero blocking away two spot-kicks and sending La Albiceleste to their first World Cup final since 1990. More details after the jump.

Continue reading »

Argentina books semifinal spot

Argentina books semifinal spot

La Albiceleste are having a great run in this World Cup, and after beating Belgium 1-0, their dream is starting to turn into a reality. Alejandro Sabella’s men played their best game so far in Brazil on Saturday with Gonzalo Higuaín’s eighth minute half-volley enough to secure a spot in the semifinals. While they know they still have a lot to improve on, it must be noted that for the first time since they kick-started their World Cup campaign, Argentina played more like a unit rather than just a one-man team. They might have not “wowed” the Belgians as their coach Marc Wilmots liked to put it, but they did, however, nullify their opponents’ game. More details after the jump!

Continue reading »

Back and Forth: Does Barça need Luis Suárez?

Back and Forth: Does Barça need Luis Suárez?

In a totalBarça special, we bring to you the Back and Forth series! Throughout the season rumours and stories come and go. We constantly hear and read articles about players leaving, signing and retiring while others compare players, judge coaches and debate who’s better.

Now Eric and Allison are bringing these discussions to you. Both writers will share their views and opinions regarding a certain matter that has been strongly rumoured as of late. Meanwhile, you vote on who you agree with more and share your views in the comments. Back and Forth’s last edition debated who should replace Carles Puyol. Now, it is time for another debatable topic. Shall we begin?

Should Barça sign Luis Suárez?

Continue reading »

Messi & Di María send Albiceleste to quarter-finals

Messi & Di María send Albiceleste to quarter-finals

If there’s one thing we’ve learned so far this World Cup, even the predictable matches are unpredictable. While everyone expected Argentina to beat Switzerland in the round of sixteen, nobody expected that it would take this much struggle to earn the win. It’s been the same old story throughout the Albiceleste’s World Cup campaign in Brazil, the victory was thanks to their captain once again and the team still has a lot of work to do. Lionel Messi earned his fourth consecutive man of the match award with an incredible performance before setting up Ángel Di María’s goal with a magical run in the dying minutes of the game. More after the jump.

Continue reading »

The Barça B Progress Reports-Summer 2014: Part 2

The Barça B Progress Reports-Summer 2014: Part 2

Barça B had a season to remember in 2013/14. The Blaugrana reserves earned third place on the final standings of the Liga Adelante, playing beautiful, attractive, Barça-branded football and winning plaudits from everybody interested in Spain’s second division. However, as happens at the end of each season, the time for reflecting back on the team’s performance has come. With this mini-series, totalBarça will review the individual performance of each of the 26 players who appeared for the team this season, based on an A-F scale. Read on to find out who excelled, who surprised, who disappointed, and who could have done a little bit better…

Continue reading »

FC Barcelona B Progress Report: Summer 2014 Part One

FC Barcelona B Progress Report: Summer 2014 Part One

FC Barcelona B had a season to remember in 2013/14. The Blaugrana reserves earned 3rd place on the final standings of the Liga Adelante, playing beautiful, attractive, Barça-branded football and winning plaudits from everybody interested in Spain’s second division. However, as happens at the end of each season, the time for reflecting back on the team’s performance has come. With this mini-series, totalbarça will review the individual performance of each of the 26 players who appeared for the team this season, based on an A-F scale. Read on to find out who excelled, who surprised, who disappointed, and who could have done a little bit better.

Continue reading »

La Pulga strikes to save Albiceleste again!

La Pulga strikes to save Albiceleste again!

It was a similar story to Argentina’s opening game against Bosnia, three points earned on the back of their captain and not thanks to the team’s performance. Lionel Messi scored his second goal in the World Cup with a superb curler in the final minutes of a stale match. Iran, who were expected to be swiped by the South Americans, gave them a hard time with some excellent defending and organised positioning. However, while Carlos Queiroz’s men were able to hold la Albiceleste, they couldn’t tame the beast who rose at the dying minutes of the game to save his side some blushes. More details after the jump.

Continue reading »

El Pivote: Summer Holiday Report Cards (Part 2)

El Pivote: Summer Holiday Report Cards (Part 2)

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.

The dust has settled on the season. Now that we have the last few games of the season out of our minds, a quick reflection on the players’ performances over the course of the entire 2013/14 season is a good starting point for focusing on what we need from the players for the new season.

We had the Christmas report cards (part one and part two) for the players in January, and I will be using the same grading scheme again. In brackets will be what the player received in the winter break. (A quick reminder — here’s the simple grading scheme: A = exceptional, B = good, ticking along nicely, C = progress required next term to get back on track, D = struggling.)

Continue reading »

Barça B’s scrapbook for 2013/14

Barça B’s scrapbook for 2013/14

The 2013/14 season will go down as one of the best seasons in the history of Barcelona’s reserve team. The team led by former Dream Team midfielder Eusebio Sacristán marginally failed to equal the 71-point record set by Luis Enrique’s Barça B side in 2010/11, but still managed to finish third on the league standings, which the joint best performance in the history of the team, along with that of 2010/11. This season has been full of those moments that are worthy of inclusion in the season’s scrapbook. Read more to relive some of the most iconic moments, good and bad, in Barça B’s record-breaking season.

Continue reading »

El Pivote: Summer Holiday Report Cards (Part 1)

El Pivote: Summer Holiday Report Cards (Part 1)

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.

The dust has settled on the season. Now that we have the last few games of the season out of our minds, a quick reflection on the players’ performances over the course of the entire 2013/14 season is a good starting point for focusing on what we need from the players for the new season.

We had the Christmas report cards (part one and part two) for the players in January, and I will be using the same grading scheme again. In brackets will be what the player received in the winter break. (A quick reminder — here’s the simple grading scheme: A = exceptional, B = good, ticking along nicely, C = progress required next term to get back on track, D = struggling.)

Continue reading »

2013/14 individual league stats

2013/14 individual league stats

After a long and painful season, here’s a look back at the individual stats in the league campaign from the first team players. With the statistics broken down to 14 categories, we could see who former coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino favoured all throughout the season and the reasons that may be behind it. Take a look at the stats provided by Opta Sports after the break.

Continue reading »

Profile: Marc-André Ter Stegen

Profile: Marc-André Ter Stegen

After a day full of news including contract renewals, contract exterminations, loan returns and coaching changes, Barça announced their first recruit of the summer, the young German goalkeeper Marc-André Ter Stegen.

Born in Mönchengladbach on April 30, 1992, Marc-André Ter Stegen is considered to be one of the hottest young prospects in European football. The German made his first team debut with Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2011, at the age of 18. Since then, Marc has cemented his place in the first team and was crucial to the German club’s past three seasons, winning Bundesliga’s best goalkeeper award in the 2011/2012 season. More after the jump.

Continue reading »

Chronology of a rollercoaster Liga

Chronology of a rollercoaster Liga

Win or lose, tonight’s dramatic finale to the 2013/14 La Liga is sure to be spectacular, and it is a fitting conclusion to what has been a rollercoaster season for FC Barcelona and the top three teams in general. Overall, La Liga has been much more competitive than in recent years: In addition to having a genuine third challenger for the first time in several years, the title race has had more twists and turns than in the previous 100-point Ligas, in which dropping points more than a handful of times spelled certain defeat. Read on below for a look back at a crazy season.

Continue reading »

The Tactics Board-Part 2: Tata Martino

The Tactics Board-Part 2: Tata Martino

Things have come to such a point that a whole season depends on a single match. On Saturday, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid will contest one final showdown that will determine the La Liga champion. Both teams have fantastic players, but games of such magnitude cannot be won if the coach does not beat his counterpart for smartness in management. Tata Martino and Diego Simeone have a lot to think about going into the match. In this the final part of the mini-series ‘The Tactics Board,’ totalbarca will try to get into the shoes of Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino. Read more after the jump…

Continue reading »