You can see it in their eyes

You can see it in their eyes

I can see it in their eyes because I’ve seen them before. I’ve been on a lot of different football teams during my competitive years and each always had a unique emotional feel and dynamics. Ok, they all weren’t wildly unique to one another, but you knew the special ones from the less special ones. And yes, it wasn’t the Champions League to put it mildly, but for a group of teenage, competitive guys who almost exclusively knew they’d never be playing at a higher level, that they had reached the pinnacle, our treasured regional competitions may as well have been the World Cup to us.

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Match Review: Levante UD 0-5 FC Barcelona

Match Review: Levante UD 0-5 FC Barcelona

Ten minutes into the game, it was a familiar scene. Barcelona were away from home on a shoddy pitch, patiently working the ball back and forth as they tried to break down the two banks of five men defending deep in front of the opposition goal. Then it happened – a stray pass in midfield fell to Levante, who broke quickly into the spaces left behind the fullbacks. Down Barcelona’s left, evading a desperate challenge from the exposed centre-back, then crossing to the unmarked man on the opposite flank. An easy goal – Barcelona have seen it too many times over the past two seasons.

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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.

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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.

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La Liga close-up: Real Madrid

La Liga close-up: Real Madrid

Spain’s incredible trio seems to be in line for another nail biting three-horse race. Atlético Madrid, FC Barcelona, and Real Madrid have stayed busy during the summer transfer window as they prepare themselves for another challenge, but did they strengthen or weaken their squads? Are their current players capable of enduring another trinity war? This article will focus on last year’s Champions League winners and the side that finally succeeded and ended the search for ‘La Decima.’ Barça’s fiercest rivals may face a tougher campaign than expected.

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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…

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Remember La Masia!

Remember La Masia!

After the ruling by FIFA to uphold the ban on FC Barcelona from the transfer market in 2015, many a fan are in a panic about how the team will succeed without access to external talent. Fear not, culés! The team can find answers from within… More after the jump.

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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…

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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…

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Canterano loans: A shift in policy?

Canterano loans: A shift in policy?

The announcement of Gerard Deulofeu’s loan to Sevilla sparked feelings of utter surprise for culés around the world. Nobody had expected the La Masia graduate to leave, as he had just made his return from a year-long loan at Everton, hoping to play some sort of role in the squad. Many question marks were raised. Is the club changing its policies? In order to answer this question we have to go back in time, and then view the situation in context.

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Barça may have sent Deulofeu away for good

Barça may have sent Deulofeu away for good

Barça may have sent Gerard Deulofeu away for good. Not literally, as he’s still under control till 2017 with a 35 million euro buy-out clause, but figuratively. Deulofeu has never been of the typical La Masia mould. He’s highly individualistic, at a younger age he named Cristiano Ronaldo his idol (in and of itself perfectly fine, but still an insight into the type of figure he aspires to emulate), was forced by the club to close a social media account (reportedly due to expressing an attitude contrary to the club’s) and has never been the “rah-rah Barça till I die” guy. He’s immensely self-assured, some say to the point of arrogance, and seemingly impatient. The club wasn’t sold about loaning him out last season, allegedly succumbing to the young man’s desire to seek more minutes. He left Everton feeling he “deserved to play more”.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

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This is what Suárez misses

This is what Suárez misses

I’m aware doom and gloom is the order of the day (years?), but despite the Court of Sport Arbitration (CAS) ruling reducing Luis Suárez’s match ban, FC Barcelona should do just fine without him. Details after the jump.

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Have the fabled centre-backs arrived at last?

Have the fabled centre-backs arrived at last?

As promised, Andoni Zubizarreta and Josep Bartomeu seem to have at last delivered the signings that have been demanded for years, giving Barcelona four natural centre-backs for the first time since 2010. Jérémy Mathieu was signed for €20 million, while Thomas Vermaelen has been brought in for a rumored €15m + 4m in add-ons for winning the Champions League. As is inevitable, following both of these signings cules all over the world and online have immediately broken into debate about whether they are good enough for Barça. Mathieu is too old and not a natural centre-back, the argument goes, Vermaelen is old, injury-prone and benched due to poor form, and both are too expensive. While there are some valid points, they are shrouded in the overriding negativity and unrealistic expectations that has surrounded every Barcelona transfer in the last decade. But what happens if you take those criticisms and apply them to Barcelona’s greatest teams?

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Match Review: FC Barcelona 0-1 SSC Napoli

Match Review: FC Barcelona 0-1 SSC Napoli

Being that it’s still preseason, I’ll be mild-mannered with my words. Given all the talk of revolution, changes, tactical shifts and experimentation, viewers were given nothing of that tonight in FC Barcelona’s 1-0 loss to SSC Napoli. That could have been any old game at any old time in the past three to four seasons. Is this really the new Barça given the mega-star attacking trident is absent, the first team mostly vacated on 60 minutes and players are obviously rusty and physically unfit? The answer is in the question. Nevertheless, despite dominating the ball, it was a match of minimal insight and anyone claiming to notice change at this point is willing it rather than seeing it.

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What to expect when you’re expecting

What to expect when you’re expecting

The season’s first official game against Elche CF is 19 days away, and I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited about a new campaign as I am now. But things have changed, a lot, and so must we. Last season, many culés, including myself, expected a lot from the team. The first half of the season was incredible and the team was moving in the right direction. And then it all fell apart. We’ve blamed the coach, the players, and the board for the unsuccessful, trophyless season but we deserve some of the blame too.

Ever since the treble season we have been spoiled with spectacular football. We became used to watching the one and only Carles Puyol raise trophies up in the air as we celebrate yet another victory. But bit by bit these same players grew tired, and we just couldn’t accept that. I was furious at Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino for the way he managed the team by the end, I was disappointed at how the players showed so little hunger, and I despised the board for choosing to watch from the sidelines while football’s greatest ever generation neared its end. But then again, we always expected too much.

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Picture of the day: Number 5

Picture of the day: Number 5

I admit that I have been worried about who would take the number 5. Carles Puyol is a legend and some new kid coming along and wearing number 5 would not do it for me. Puyi himself must have been thinking about it too because he has given his blessing to Sergio Busquets. I must say that I approve. Wear it well, Sergio.

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Ex-Barça: Keita doesn’t suffer fools

Seydou Keita, now at AS Roma, neither forgives nor forgets. In a friendly last night against Real Madrid, Keita ignored Pepe during the hand shake. It’s being assumed, probably correctly, that he refused Pepe’s hand as in 2011 the Real Madrid man called Keita a “monkey.” You’d be hard pressed to find a more honest footballer or man than Keita, so if three years later he’s still resentful, I’m very inclined to believe Keita’s original accusation and defend his action last night. Then, at the end of the clip, Keita is seen hurling a water bottle at the thuggish defender. Why? Yahoo Sports report that following the hand shake fracas, as things escalated a little, the FOX broadcaster noted the fourth official point-out that Pepe spat at Keita. Pepe, never disappoints to disappoint.

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The ethos of austerity, or “The case of the inconsistent penny-pinchers”

The ethos of austerity, or “The case of the inconsistent penny-pinchers”

President Josep Maria Bartomeu recently spoke about how he wanted to “transform Barcelona.” In his speech, he praised the club’s economic growth, saying, “Barca’s economic health is not the end goal, but it is a good and essential tool that will guarantee the independence of the Club and benefit athletic and infrastructure investments.” As always, he concluded the speech by noting that Barcelona had reduced the debt and increased revenue to record levels. This has been a familiar party line from Bartomeu and his predecessor, Sandro Rosell, since they joined the board of directors in 2010 (Rosell famously declaring that the club could not afford color copiers). Despite running on a platform of transparency, rarely have these men spoken of the vision they have for the club in anything but vague platitudes - rather, the details and the accomplishments have come in the spreadsheets, in the money saved and the money earned. Read on for more.

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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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Why Alexis had to go

Why Alexis had to go

You just can’t have both Alexis Sánchez and Luis Suárez. I’m a little surprised to even be writing this because it’s really rather obvious, but given the cacophony of disbelief, here we go. It comes down to simple math in a way. Suárez is a top five world footballer, Sánchez is a top twenty or thirty. If that’s too simplistic, let’s get into it.

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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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Beko, the latest club sponsor

Beko, the latest club sponsor

Not that long ago Barça was the only football club free of sponsorship (aside from Nike obviously). Then came UNICEF, which warmed people’s hearts, then it was the “humanitarian” Qatar Foundation, which made perceptive people suspicious and of course soon afterwards the inevitable corporate sponsorship reality came full circle with Qatar Airways. Now, anybody who believes Barça can exist in the modern footballing world without additionally revenue streams, of which primary shirt sponsorship is a major source, is mistaken. It remains naiveté to still yearn for the days of a clean shirt. One has to ask themselves whether they want the money to buy and pay the best players and compete for the biggest trophies, or if one would rather football’s superstars all go to Paris, London and Manchester while Barcelona finds solace in being the home of moral superiority.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean the shirt has to be reduced to an auction for advertising space and sold off like vehicles in NASCAR. First the front, then the front and back, don’t forget the inside and now the sleeve. Should we all be expecting corporate logos to soon be imprinted on each leg, all around the socks, on the side of the shirts, or what about right across culé cules? But at the same time, it won’t be long before other mega clubs copy mimic this business idea and have sponsors paying for their sleeves, shorts and socks as well.

Sponsorship details 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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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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Neymar impresses in goalless draw

Neymar impresses in goalless draw

In a goalless yet entertaining game, Brazil were held to a draw in their second 2014 World Cup game against the always difficult Mexico. Both teams failed to capitalize on their chances throughout the 90 minutes. The result keeps Brazil on top of Group A with four points, with Mexico on their tail with four points as well. FC Barcelona’s Neymar Jr. and Dani Alves played the entire game. Continue reading for more details.

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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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Neymar shines as Brazil win their first game

Neymar shines as Brazil win their first game

The long-anticipated 2014 World Cup in Brazil finally kicked off today with an entertaining and somewhat controversial game between the hosts and Croatia. FC Barcelona’s Neymar Jr. and Dani Alves were selected to start the game against their European opponents and were able to lead their national team to a decent victory on route to a 6th World Cup trophy. Neymar (2) and Chelsea FC’s Oscar scored for Brazil, while Real Madrid’s Marcelo scored an own goal as the game reached full time with a scoreline of 3-1. More details on how Barça’s boys performed after the jump.

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If I were Zubi – Part 3

If I were Zubi – Part 3

Here we are, many thousands of words later, the third and final part of “If I were Zubi.” Having covered Luis Enrique and goodbyes in Part 1 then the goalkeeping and defensive situation in Part 2, naturally it’s time for the midfield and the attack. Having spent an estimated sum of between 50 and 70 million euros of the soft 100 spending cap on the defense, Part 1 left the remaining lines as follows:

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