A Confession: I believe in Marc Bartra

Manchester United's Adnan Janujaz gets around Marc Bartra to score a goal in the International Champions Cup on July 25, 2015 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Manchester United won 3-1. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Marc Bartra is both everything I love and hate about football.

To me, he’s a six foot tall contradiction: A walking, waking reminder of the fact that no matter how hard one tries, more often than not, the heart prevails over the head. And oh, he plays a little bit of football too. You see, the problem with the 24-year-old from the sleepy village of Sant Jaume dels Domenys is that my belief in him is unwavering, despite evidence to the contrary starting to become increasingly indisputable.

So, in the absence of tangible support, a reductivist construction of my argument is essentially as follows: I believe in Bartra because I believe in Bartra. And to think, I’m the guy they asked to write about tactics. As that’s obviously not a tenable argument – call it juvenile, redundant, fallacious or even all of the above – perhaps I should explain why in greater detail.


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.


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


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.


Café con leche: Piqué defends referees


In defense of the referees

At a recent event, Gerard Piqué spoke about many topics, one of which was about the refereeing in Spain. Piqué made it clear that there is no room for excuses, saying, “Winning the league will in no way depend on the quality of refereeing,” before also adding that the “referees are 100% impartial.”


Café con Leche: Piqué’s reckoning

Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images

Piqué’s insults go too far? 4 match ban seems to say so

The biggest talking point from the Spanish Supercup second leg was, of course, Gerard Piqué’s red card. The Catalan defender was sent off for insulting the linesman after he failed to call an Athletic player offside, which nearly resulted in a goal for the Basque club. The red card seemed harsh at the time, particularly as the linesman seemed to call almost every Barça attack offside, so Piqué’s frustration was understandable. However, the referee’s post-match report painted the Catalan defender in a very bad light and seemed to justify his sending off, and possibly even more.

According to the referee’s report, Piqué used the words “Me cago en tu puta madre” on the linesman, which translated directly to English reads “I s*** on your wh**e mother”. Very derogotary indeed, at least the english translation of it.