Café con leche: The rise of the Verminator

JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images

Not as shocked as the rest of us

180 minutes of football last season weren’t enough to break down Málaga’s defence and score, and yesterday it looked like the opponents were once again going to leave the Camp Nou with at least a point. But thanks to Thomas Vermaelen, the man with a point to prove, Málaga were finally beaten by Luis Enrique and his players in a fixture that was lost last season. The coach, however, is not surprised to see the Belgian win Barcelona three valuable points.

“[His goal] doesn’t surprise me because he is a player of the top level. On a football level, there are no doubts about him. He is physically still not 100 percent, though. He is a very important player when it comes to set pieces, he is an expert in the air,” Lucho said.

The match winner will also be rejoining his national side after reassuring outings with the Catalans. “I’m happy he’s going with his national team, just like any Barça player. It will be good for him, although they have to evaluate his fitness. It’s good for Belgium and its good for Barça.”

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Dear Thomas, we need to talk

Barcelona's Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen congratulated by his teammate Barcelona's defender Jordi Alba  (JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images)

The following is a piece of satire. Much like the rest of the culé-verse, I’m delighted with Vermaelen’s performances, and hope to see his excellent form and fitness sustained over the course of the 2015-2016 season.

Dear Thomas,

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

You were never meant to play. I said it, they said it, we all said it – and it wasn’t ice cream we were all screaming about either.

You were a figure of fun, subject to all kinds of repeated mockery, as chronic in its nature as your perennially torn hamstrings. See? It comes so naturally.

You were a living testament to ‘Wenger Knows,’ the latest in a long line of dummies sold to us. Hell, the last one even embraced it and started modelling his fashion line. Where’s your Tchakap? Get with the ‘systeme.’

There’s a reason why the Frenchman, long since called the professor, smirks uncontrollably like a schoolboy. This isn’t it.

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The Front: Sport (30.8.2015)

The Front: Sport (30.8.2015)

VERMAELEN THE SAVIOR!

A GOAL FROM THE DEFENDER GAVE BARÇA A VERY DIFFICULT VICTORY

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The Front: Mundo Deportivo (30.8.2015)

The Front: Mundo Deportivo (30.8.2015)

GOAL FROM VERMAELEN!

Barça overcame a difficult Málaga with a goal from the Belgian that breached the wall and beat Kameni

The referee didn’t whistle two penalties, allowed repeated fouls from the Andalucians and exasperated Camp Nou

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Match Center: FC Barcelona vs Malaga CF

Match Center

totalBarça’s Match Center has all you need for tonight’s liga game against Malaga CF. The match kicks off at 20:30 Barcelona time – find your local time here. If you’re looking for a high quality stream, check out our new partnership with fubo.tv.

Check out the lineups, match events, streams and live chat, after the jump. As soon as the game is finished, you will be able to submit your ratings for the players as well. Welcome to the totalBarça Match Center – from pre-game to post, we’ve got everything you need for Barcelona vs Malaga.

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Café con Leche: Denis Suárez is living in a Yellow Submarine

CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP/Getty Images

Denis to menace in Villarreal

First off, the big news of the day: Denis Suárez has sealed a permanent move to Villarreal, cutting short his loan with Unai Emery’s Champions League outfit, Sevilla FC.

Swapping sunny Andalusia for the second biggest city in Valencia – well, at least there’s a senyera involved! – Suárez will link up his new club imminently, whereby he’ll form a salivating front line composed with Léo Baptistão, Roberto Soldado, Samu Castillejo, and Matías Nahuel – an outfit which this writer, unashamedly, will love to watch.

Much like ex-blaugrana man and toffee of the month, Gerard Deulofeu, Denis had a vibrant start to his rojiblanco career which since seen its fair share of speed-bumps: after having fallen out of favour with Emery – a fantastic albeit less than personable manager – Suárez pushed to join the Yellow Submarine to increase his minutes (the Holy Grail for youngsters around the globe).

As for the details of the transfer itself, the financing is “complicated,” but the move will essentially see Villarreal pay a fee to Sevilla – reported to be in the region €4 million despite earlier reports intimating €2-3 million – to buy the player outright, with Barça’s blessing.

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A big year for Leo

VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images

Right now, Lionel Messi is right where he deserves to be. La Pulga has returned Barcelona to the top, and is now reaping the fruits of last season’s excellent work. The Argentine was handed UEFA’s ‘Best Player in Europe’ award at the glamorous UEFA Champions League group stage draw gala yesterday, but the Argentine’s first win in the race for the UEFA award looks set to be only the beginning in what promises to be a scintillating year for the 28-year-old.

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Preview: Barcelona must break through Málaga fortress

FCB_MAL_Preview

Málaga CF may have finished ninth in La Liga last season, but they are not to be underestimated. They are the only team in all of Europe to play Barcelona and not concede in 2014-15: The Andalusians took four points off Barcelona in 2014/15 and managed to win 1-0 at Camp Nou. 45-year-old manager Javi Gracia made a massive impact in his first season coaching in La Liga, and under him Málaga have become a superbly organized defensive team. Much like Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid in 2013/14, Málaga had Barcelona’s number last season – so can the Catalans break the curse?

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Cartoon of the day: Sport

Cartoon of the day: Sport

UEFA MVP VOTING

LEO 49 VOTES

CRISTIANO 2 VOTES (ONE FROM PORTUGAL)

D10S SWEEPS CR7

CRISTIANO: “WITHOUT ‘LITTLE’ BLATTER, I’M NOTHING”

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The Front: Sport (29.8.2015)

The Front: Sport (29.8.2015)

THE GREAT TRIDENT RETURNS

THREE CRACKS TO SCORE

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