Last week, after the Villarreal match, a few members of the totalBarça team ranked the blaugrana based on their current form. Participants included David Clarke, Aly Abdel Wahab, Anna Vito, Youssef Awwad, and me. Lists were compiled, points were tallied, and this is what we came up with:
As well all know, the FIFA break always has a hyperbolic effect on the media outlets that mainly focus on club football. Suddenly, 90% of the squad of every team is either unhappy, being offered insane amounts of money to move elsewhere and, generally, every one wants a change. We get it, everybody needs to make a living, newspapers/tabloids included. But every once in a while a rumor comes along that shows up enough times in the news that you start to take it at least a little seriously.
With the hardest part of its match schedule now part of history, Barcelona B have managed to return to winning ways. After two consecutive defeats against direct promotion rivals Lleida and Reus, the Barcelona reserves had to negotiate an arguably lower obstacle in the form of relegation favourites Llosetense. With assistant coach García Pimienta at the helm due to Gerard López’s suspension, the blaugrana passed their test with flying colours, getting a professional 2-0 win and seeing two more Juvenil players make their B team debuts.
Earlier this week, my colleague John Muller wrote a piece suggesting that Barcelona midfielder and culé favorite Ivan Rakitić should be sold this summer, or, at the very least, that a move “could be a good thing for all parties.” The piece inflamed the passions of the totalBarça community like few posts here do. It was derided in comments and on social media as click-bait, warrantless speculation, and worse. Most of the responses were unfair. John wrote a thoughtful and original opinion piece that did what opinion pieces are supposed to do. It made me ponder the Croatian’s role in the team going forward, and the proper course for Barcelona’s transfer strategy should be. John’s position, speculative though it might have been, was well-considered and finely stated. That said, he’s wrong. The club doesn’t have a good reason to sell Rakitić, and will be best served if he continues his career in Barcelona. Here’s why.
It is a simple quote, yet it has the ability to define the most prolific period in world football. Johan Cruyff was a master of his arenas, but his vision for a simple and beautiful game was eclipsed by no man. Visionaries of his caliber are limited by centuries, not generations. Culés young and old have adopted his revolutionary style of play to become a symbol of their football, their Catalan football. This vision has led to FC Barcelona and Spanish football infamy, all while cementing Cruyff’s status as a cultural icon.
For his entire footballing career, Johan Cruyff was a catalyst for change, evolving the game with new ideas, mentalities and tactics. As a player, he danced around defenders like no one had ever seen, he was the leader at Ajax, driving the team forward, not with passion or fast running, but with pure skill. At Barcelona, he wasn’t just an incredible player, but the fans saw him as a representation of Catalan nationalism.
It’s easy to overlook a team’s flaws when they’re on a vicious winning streak. Things have never been this good for Barça, yet somehow this fantastic team got nailed recently with one awful record, and it regards their penalties.
No team in La Liga history has missed eight penalties in a single season. The South American trident may have already scored almost 70 league goals between them, but a penalty miss during an exhibition against Getafe won’t be as huge a regret as, say, in a clásico or a crucial Champions League game. They may seem insignificant as this team destroys one opponent after the next, but the numbers can be worrying.
This is an exclusive translation of a great piece in Spanish by Albert Morén writing for EUMD. He discusses the immense value of Pique and Iniesta in the context of the Villarreal match. Hope you enjoy it! [You can check out the original here]
A big part of the evolution of F.C. Barcelona this season has to do with Andres Iniesta. His performance has increased the weight of a midfield that until recently was more of a way station, and his status as the orchestrator has changed the way the leaders of this league attack. Luis Enrique dotes on him, protects him and gives him the minutes he can, always wary of his age and relevance in the system.
This is going to sound ungrateful, but it’s hard to say anything interesting about FC Barcelona right now without proposing to fix what’s most definitely not broken, so here goes: Ivan Rakitić may not be long for this team. And that could be a good thing for all parties.
On Sunday, in their draw away against Villarreal CF, FC Barcelona’s performance was once again marred by a few frustrating, and avoidable, defensive mistakes. Every great team has a weakness, and this season, Barça’s defense is the ugly sore on an otherwise flawless figure. This is hyperbole—at 24 goals in 30 matches, Barcelona have conceded at a lower rate than every team in the four biggest European leagues except for Atlético Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, and Tottenham Hotspur. If a defense’s chief responsibility is to not allow the other team to score, then they are, objectively, a very, very good defensive team.