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…

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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.

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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!

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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?

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs Atlético Madrid

Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs Atlético Madrid

It all comes down to this. FC Barcelona and Atlético Madrid have toiled for a combined 6,600 La Liga minutes yet it all boils down to a single 90, with everything still to play for. Atlético Madrid’s season is interestingly similar to Liverpool’s. As the possibility of a league title become more and more real, both teams apparently had nothing to lose; until they had something to lose. Liverpool are theoretically delighted with a second place finish, it’s much higher than anyone predicted pre-season, yet when the title was literally within reach and an unpredictable slip took it all away, Anfield faithful can be as rational as they like, but in their hearts it hurt.

It will be the same with Atletí; tomorrow there is something very real to lose. What Diego Simeone and his legionnaires have accomplished this season is without exaggeration among one of the most impressive feats in modern football. Atlético Madrid operate with a wage budget less than Queen’s Park Rangers, reportedly around 66 million euro, Barça and Real Madrid both pay upwards of 200 million. Atletí as a club and it’s fan base would have bitten your arm off pre-season if offered a Champions League final and a top two La Liga finish, but it’s a very possible reality than in the coming eight days this miraculous Atlético season may finish as so many others before, empty handed.

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The Tactics Board-Part 1: Diego Simeone

The Tactics Board-Part 1: Diego Simeone

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. With our new mini-series ‘The Tactics Board,’ totalbarca will try to get into the shoes of the two tacticians, starting with the visiting coach, Diego Pablo ‘El Cholo’ Simeone. Read more after the jump…

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Be Yourself

Be Yourself

Just be yourself. We’ve all heard it, probably given the advice ourselves. Well, why shouldn’t that apply to a football team? What if this “change” and “evolution” being trumpeted is in fact the exact opposite? Why are Barça trying to be different when it is successfully unique?

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Match Review: Elche CF 0-0 FC Barcelona

Match Review: Elche CF 0-0 FC Barcelona

In Barcelona’s penultimate match of the season, La Liga finally stopped making any sort of sense. FC Barcelona-Elche, which was supposed to be a 0-0 snoozefest, turned into an insanely open, back-and-forth bit of madness (though still 0-0). Each of the top three teams in its “two-horse race” dropped points for the seventh straight game between them. And Barça, whom the media have unequivocally dubbed the worst-performing of the Spanish three this season, somehow still have a shot at defending their Liga title. It was a day to remember, the last piece of the puzzle before what is sure to be a historic finale.

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Tata overlooking La Masia?

Tata overlooking La Masia?

In a season when things have not been going very well for FC Barcelona, one would expect that the coach would turn to the club’s endless conveyor belt of youth talent for the answer to the team’s lack of fresh legs and fresh ideas. Instead, players from FC Barcelona B have only seen 72 minutes of first team football this season. Read more after the jump.

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Match Review: FC Barcelona 2-1 Athletic Bilbao

Match Review: FC Barcelona 2-1 Athletic Bilbao

The past couple of weeks have been horrid for culés. We’ve seen our beloved team lose the Champions League, the Copa Del Rey and the Liga (most probably, given the other contenders’ form) in three matches. We needed our team to respond, to show some signs of life. Well, if a response is a true exhibition of fighting spirit, then the game against Athletic was the perfect response. FC Barcelona came back from behind to beat a team that is challenging for Champions League football. They provided enough reason for optimism by playing their finest football for the final 15 minutes. Jump for more.

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Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs. Real Betis

Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs. Real Betis

Barcelona host last-placed Real Betis tomorrow in the 32nd match of La Liga. Only seven games remain, as Barcelona, Atlético Madrid, and Real Madrid remain locked in what has been the tightest title race in recent memory. The Catalans have been navigating rough waters lately: Severe injuries to key players Víctor Valdés and Gerard Piqué, a tough home draw to Atlético Madrid, and the shocking transfer ban imposed by FIFA earlier this week. Barça badly need a win – fortunately, Real Betis are not the most difficult opposition.

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Match Review: FC Barcelona 1-1 Atlético Madrid

Match Review: FC Barcelona 1-1 Atlético Madrid

And once again there is no victor. Two moments of magic were all that separated two gargantuan performances that will be praised in completely contrasting ways. FC Barcelona gave it absolutely all they had; yet in another very new-age Barça-Atletí flavored meeting the final score read 1-1. Of the encounters this season, tonight Atlético most embodied the ghost of Diego Simeone the footballer: Fouling consistently and physically. German referee Felix Brych was delighted to produce the first yellow, but when a second was more than warranted, the man in the middle cowered. Leo Messi had a quiet night thanks to his man-marking shadows, but the remainder of the side performed admirably and despite a godly Andrés Iniesta and terrific showings from Sergio Busquets, Neymar and Alexis Sánchez, the win was out of grasp.

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Champions League Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs Atlético Madrid

Champions League Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs Atlético Madrid

Three times so far this season have La Liga’s two Argentine coaches come to figurative blows. And three times so far this season no one could be declared the victor after 90 minutes (if one discounts the away-goals rule in the Spanish Supercup).

In a matter of hours, the season-long stalemate between Atlético Madrid and FC Barcelona will spill over into the UEFA Champions League onto the pitch of Camp Nou, and not a previously ambivalent soccer-watching soul will be able to turn away.

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Messi and the Cornellà Curse

Messi and the Cornellà Curse

So what do we know about Lionel Messi so far? All-time goalscorer for Barça, four Ballon d’Ors , three Champions Leagues… The list goes on and on. Messi has a knack for overwriting record books and placing his name wherever he can. He torments opposition players with his godly skills and killer finishing. Yet, one fact still remains strange to the stats of the Argentinean: Lionel Messi has never scored in Espanyol’s new stadium Cornellà since it opened in 2009. With 236 goals in the league for the little man, it seems strange that Messi has yet to celebrate in the Espanyol stadium despite scoring goals against Espanyol in Camp Nou and in Montjuïc. It almost seems like the stadium which will host Saturday’s Derbi Barceloní has a curse over the 26-year old.

Will he break it today?

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Match Review: FC Barcelona 3-0 Celta Vigo

Match Review: FC Barcelona 3-0 Celta Vigo

Yesterday FC Barcelona defeated Celta Vigo 3-0, moving up to second place as Real Madrid lost later on in the evening at Sevilla. It should have been a cause for celebration, but the victory was deeply bittersweet, tainted by the image of Víctor Valdés crying as he was stretchered off the field with a torn ACL, presumably never to don the blaugrana kit again. The heroic keeper has done wonders to get Barcelona this far in the title race, but now the Catalans will have to make it to the finish line without him. With eight games left in the season, Barça are one point out of first place. Win out and they take the title: It’s a daunting task, but against Celta Vigo on Wednesday, Barcelona took one step closer to their objective.

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Carlos Blanco: La Masia’s best shot

Carlos Blanco: La Masia’s best shot

Do you know many center-backs with the ability to swing in accurate free-kicks, in Andrea Pirlo style, time and time again? I don’t know many, but FC Barcelona may have one of those extraordinary center-backs with such uncanny ability. 18-year-old Carlos Blanco has been the author of many spectacular goals during his eight years as a blaugrana. The odds are that in each compilation of the best goals of the season in the academy, you’ll see at least one of his pearlers. Recently, he has added another two to the collection with an audacious lob from the halfway line away to Damm and a spectacular long-range free-kick against Gavà. Surely, there is no one at La Masia possessing such accuracy and power in the shot as the 18-year-old centerback, captain and undisputed leader of the Juvenil B, Carlos Blanco.

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Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs Celta Vigo

Match Preview: FC Barcelona vs Celta Vigo

Following a spectacular clásico, FC Barcelona quickly welcome Celta Vigo to Camp Nou in round 30 of La Liga in their quest to regain the top spot. They are now one point short of top spot leaders Atlético and Real Madrid, and need to win their nine remaining games for any chance to win the league.

The game against Real Madrid is a clear message that Barça are out to take down any team that stands in their way of winning the treble, even when the odds and the predictions say otherwise. However, the problem was never the games against the big teams, or the small teams for that matter. The shocking defeats and draws that brought Real Madrid back into the running came from sudden drops of form, and an unreliability that the team would maintain a high run. So will this bad form resurface against Celta.

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The nine matches that will decide La Liga

The nine matches that will decide La Liga

This season has been truly spectacular so far. La Liga has been more of a roller-coaster than what people used to call “a boring two horse race.” After Barça dominated the top spot for most of the season, a slip up in February gave Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid the advantage to fight for that position. But after Sunday’s El Clásico, Barça were back in the title race with only one point separating them from the top two.

But now we enter the final stage of the league, with only nine games left to decide who will be crowned champion come May. These 27 points won’t be for the faint hearted, and if the players were serious about their treble talk, then the next nine games can only end in victory. Check out below each of the three team’s final nine matches, right after the jump.

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Match Review: Real Madrid 3-4 FC Barcelona

Match Review: Real Madrid 3-4 FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona went to the Santiago Bernabéu with the hope of closing the gap with a highflying Real Madrid, and take their last chance at possibly winning the league, as Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino said in his prematch press conference. They managed to accomplish that in an exciting 7-goal game, that ended with the visitors claiming all three points in a spectacular and nerve-wrecking contest.

Iniesta and Messi were the absolute stars of the show, with the former pulling off some of his best illusionist moves, leaving behind some of the greatest players like a child leaves rag dolls behind. With this win, Barça managed to end Real Madrid’s 31-game unbeaten run that extended back to the last Clásico, when the blaugrana defeated their rivals 2-1 at the Camp Nou. Also, with this win, FC Barcelona reaffirmed that they are not done with the league yet, and sent out a clear message to the strongest teams in Spain and in Europe that they can still dispatch any pretender team around. Continue reading »