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.
On a rain filled evening in Barcelona, the newly crowned champions welcomed Real Valladolid to the Camp Nou for round 36 of La Liga. The torrential downpour led to the local authorities advising people to only venture outside if it was necessary, and while not a full stadium, plenty of people found it a necessity to go and see Barça lift the league trophy and celebrate as a team at the end of the match.
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?
FC Barcelona took to the Vicente Calderon field surrounded by the Atlético Madrid guard of honor, with friendly greetings and congratulations between the two sets of players. As the new champions of Spain, the blaugrana went into the game with nothing but pride forcing them to go for the victory, which they did in one of the most testing games of the season.
Although this season’s La Liga title seems like a small achievement to many football fans around the world, that is only due to the extremely high standards that Barça has set throughout the last five years, and the high expectations from their ruthless displays early in the season. However, the fact still remains that they have won this trophy because of an amazing showing in the domestic league, with the only slump happening later on in the season because of many unfortunate events at the club.
A league title is won by the best team, so imagine a team winning it with our point difference, and a possible 100 points collected, to equal last year’s Real Madrid record.
This is a translation of an article originally found in sports daily El Mundo Deportivo. You can find the original article here. Some information has been added to give a clearer view of the player.
Rodrigo Tarín Higon, born in 1996 in Chiva (Valencia), is the starting centre back of FC Barcelona Juvenil B and the captain of the Spain U-17 national team. The defender started his career at Valencia CF before moving to Barça at the start of this season.
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?
Avoiding the blame-game for the time being, the main thing learned from the previous few matches is that errors cost games. Defensively, there were three errors committed throughout the second leg against Bayern Munich, and they all resulted in goals. Offensively… there was no end in sight. Pedro had a good shot on goal, in a single unexpected long distance attempt. Dani Alves broke through the box with no one covering him, but then hesitated to finish it, waiting for someone to break into the box, to pass it to. The problem is that the Bayern defense recovered during his wait. The rest of the attempts were either similar or less important.
There are many reasons as to why these displays happened, and there are many theories as to how they can be addressed, but the one sure thing is that regardless of the scoreline against Betis in La Liga, Barça will not claim the title on Sunday night.
Real Madrid had battled to a 4-3 score at the Bernabéu against Valladolid, and so pushes our party to at least next week, if we manage to draw and win our next two games (including Sunday’s Betis game). So how will Barça bounce back after the German hammering?
With speculation abounding over who will stay and go this summer, another question often slips through the cracks, a problem specific to FC Barcelona: who will get promoted from Barça B? Every year, a couple of the club’s youngsters are given first team contracts and a chance to prove their worth. Last year, Cuenca, Fontàs, and Thiago joined the team. This year it was Dos Santos, Tello, Bartra, and Montoya. Next year, likely candidates for promotion are center-back Marc Muniesa, whose season was disrupted by a severe muscle tear this fall, midfielders Sergi Roberto and Rafinha Alcântara, and winger Gerard Deulofeu, crown prince of La Masia. Read on after the break to find out what challenges these youngsters might face in their development.
About a year ago, Pep Guardiola announced that he would be leaving FC Barcelona at the end of the season. Some of us cried, some of us thought “no way”, some of us were surprised, some of us were not and claimed that we really thought he’d leave earlier (myself among them).
By some strange coincidence, I was at the first game he ever directed at the Camp Nou, an apparently uninspiring draw against Racing Santander. Four years later, I met him at the end of his journey as Barça coach, during the week of hell, in April 2012. It’s hard to explain the changes, or the legacy if you want, I witnessed between his first game in charge and that day we got knocked out of the Champions League. But I will try.
Let’s keep this one short and simple. Everyone knows the task ahead, everyone knows of the difficulty. What remains is one shot, one opportunity to make history. Realistically, statistically, and perhaps even logically Barça will bid adieu to the Champions League on Wednesday. Yet sport is so often filled with magic, the improbable and unreasonableness. Sport is not scripted, the conclusion is not predetermined so there is always room for hope. “Hope is what makes us strong. It is why we are here. It’s what we fight with when all else is lost.”
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.
The coming summer was always going to be an exciting one for FC Barcelona and many other top clubs, but last week, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund made it much more so. On the field, the German clubs provoked panic in Spain by dismantling Barcelona and Real Madrid with four goals apiece, leading many journalists to declare that the center of footballing power in Europe had moved at last. But off the field the German clubs were reshaping the transfer market as well. Bayern Munich acquired 20-year-old playmaker Mario Götze, Dortmund’s homegrown maestro and one of the world’s best young talents, as well as being strongly linked to Dortmund’s striker and four-goal hero against Madrid, Robert Lewandowski (24).
Barcelona humiliated by Bayern
Luck finally ran out tonight for a certain Tito Vilanova, whose refusal to address defensive frailties in either of the last two transfer windows has led to a humiliating end to Barcelona’s golden era. Youngster Marc Bartra was forced to shore up a lack-lustre defense in a desperate attempt to fill the giant boots of Javier Mascherano and Carles Puyol. To cast a fresh-faced 22-year-old to the lion’s den of the Allianz Arena in Munich against one of the most potent attacks in recent memory smacked of desperation. From the first whistle it looked as if it wasn’t going to be the Catalan’s night.
FC Bayern Munich are already champions of the Bundesliga. They were duly crowned victors on April 6th with a 1-0 win in Frankfurt, with six league matches remaining, and remember it’s only an 18 team league. It was however hardly a surprise when they did win with the gap between themselves and second place around 20 points for most of 2013.
Dominating is the only way to describe their season, which was the plan from the outset. Three years without a trophy was too much for the Bavarian giants to take and combined with Borussia Dortmund’s resurgence inspiring them, Bayern Munich’s board and staff set out to ensure that the trophy drought ended immediately. They won the league with six games left of 34 total, a new German record, and currently sit with 81 points (equaling the all time points total) out of an available 90, winning 26, drawing only three, and losing just once. In route they scored 89 goals (2.97 per game) and conceded a mere 14 (0.47 per game), besting by some distance any of the other current leaders in Europe’s top leagues. This is particularly true defensively, with FC Barcelona, Manchester United, and Juventus allowing 33 (1.03 per game), 35 (1.06 per game), and 20 (0.61 per game) goals respectively. In brief, Bayern Munich are good.
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.
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. We welcome your thoughts and feedback in the comments section.
El Pivote is taking a look at the transfers that may or may not occur this summer, the value of stats and science versus an eye for talent and overall what history can and should tell Zubizarreta about players joining Barcelona.
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.
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?
After spending months warming the bench, the time for Marc Bartra has come. He started this season by featuring in occasional matches during Tito’s earlier constant rotation of the players, and didn’t disappoint in his performances. Yet as the season progressed he stopped playing altogether, until now.
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.
Prior to Wednesday’s Champions League clash against FC Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain F.C. had given their supporters plenty of reason to believe that the big-eared Champions League trophy was within striking distance. However, Barça limped their way into a sixth consecutive Champions League semifinal (3-3 on away goals) despite the strong counterattacking performance of PSG. While this defeat is likely to prove a valuable learning experience for them in the future, for Barça, the match threw into sharp relief the pragmatic (albeit slightly bitter) reality of imbalances that exist in the team, as PSG clearly succeeded in disrupting the blaugrana passing game and exposed the limitations of an increasingly fragile Barcelona defense.
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.
The circumstance for this UEFA Champions League return leg is drastically different from just weeks ago. A 2-2 draw in Paris is gigantically superior to a 2-0 deficit, yet, the team should approach Paris Saint-Germain not vastly differently to AC Milan. The objective must certainly be to score, multiple times, if not simply because Tito Vilanova cannot plan the match realistically believing the team will keep a clean sheet. More after the jump.
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:
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.”
On a celebratory night, many happy events scrambled to make the ultimate headline:
• Barça Keeps Cleansheet
• No Messi? No Problem!
• Cesc Fabregas Scores Hat trick
• Barça Thrashes Mallorca with 5 Golazos!!
• Tito Leads His Team at Home
• KING ERIC RETURNS!!
It was in the 55th minute that euphoria truly enveloped the Camp Nou, although all 5 goals had already been scored. It was in the 69th minute that the euphoria went from enthusiastic to explosive. King Eric was back on the pitch, one year after his liver transplant, and he looked like he hadn’t missed a game. More after the break.