FC Barcelona’s defeat to Ajax Amsterdam on Tuesday evening marked the club’s 250th match in football’s premier competition, the UEFA Champions League/European Cup. Sport prepared a nice infographic that summarizes the main statistics over this long journey. All the triumphs and tribulations after the jump.
If you are serious about your fandom, Sid Lowe’s Fear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona vs Real Madrid is a nonnegotiable must have. Sid voiced his frustration during writing the book several times over Twitter, yet now I am sure he knows it was worthwhile. Not only is the writing, as we’ve come to expect, fabulous, the real power of this book is born from the research. The depth of research is commendable but more so, it is the quality of study that stands out. The sheer amount of interviews Sid conducted is impressive and more importantly he spoke to the right protagonists. The story of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid are told through the voices of those that lived it. Football books are growing in quantity and quality, but Fear and Loathing in La Liga stands tall among its peers.
Both the international press and local analysts pointed out the obvious: Bayern Munich put on a masterful performance on Tuesday against FC Barcelona. Some headlines inevitably called it the end of an era. The Guardian’s Sid Lowe called it “a changing of the guards”, while Graham Hunter of ESPN mentioned that “Barcelona has now passed the baton.” Jonathan Wilson, author of Inverting the Pyramid, argued that “while tiki-taka is not dead, Tuesday’s game showed that the center of New Total Football has moved from Barcelona to Munich.”
In a piece for The Guardian, writer Sid Lowe enlightens readers about Tito Vilanova, FC Barcelona’s manager from July 1 onwards and Pep Guardiola’s assistant for five years. Lowe says that while Guardiola’s departure left the club’s supporters, directors and players sulking, the announcement that Vilanova will take charge has made everyone feel reassured that the future is in safe hands. Read excerpts from the piece, which covers Vilanova’s career so far as well as quotes from Barca players about their opinions of him, after the jump. The full piece can be read here.
Ahead of the vital game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night, Sid Lowe, the Spain-based writer, highlighted the evolution of former Argentina captain and FC Barcelona player Javier Mascherano. The 27-year-old player, who arrived from Liverpool in 2010, essentially known as a strong defensive midfielder has under Pep Guardiola become a valuable centre-back for the club as captain Puyol battled knee problems and Pique struggled for form. Lowe debunks the theory that Mascherano is a liability in defense and notes how he has grown as a player through his willingness to learn, adapt into the system and whine less, traits that could have benefited a certain Swede who recently played for the club. It’s no wonder then that Guardiola said the following about Mascherano: “I never expected him to give us as much as he has: his value is unimaginable. He has been spectacular as a player and a person. Javier Mascherano is the best signing this club has made in four years.” Read excerpts from Lowe’s piece which appeared in The Guardian after the jump. The complete piece can be read here.
“Love the informal post-match analysis: the things you saw and missed, the arguments and details. Final conclusion: Barca better.”
Source: Sid Lowe’s official Twitter feed
Spanish football expert Sid Lowe has expressed his views on the ongoing Cesc transfer saga which many believe is about to end with Fabregas returning home to Barcelona. Writing for Sports Illustrated, Lowe is of the opinion that if the deal does go through, it will be best for both parties concerned: Arsenal will make profit on with the sale of a player they got for free from Barcelona, and have Aaron Ramsey back from injury and Jack Wilshere to fill the void; while FC Barcelona will have the services of one of the most creative midfielders in football currently. The piece gives a history of the Barca’s pursuit of Cesc, highlights how the transfer has been perceived from both sides and how Cesc will benefit from the deal by playing with a great team which includes many of his friends.
Excerpts from the article after the jump.
With eight trophies in a short span of two-and-a-half years, Pep Guardiola has had one of the brightest starts as a football manager. The brain behind the success of FC Barcelona, Guardiola has played an instrumental role in reviving the Catalan club, even though he is always ready to undermine his contribution. As Barca fans hope that captain Carles Puyol recovers in time for the game against Arsenal, Spanish football expert Sid Lowe, in a piece for The Observer, highlights the merits of Guardiola and reminds that Cules need their coach to be fit as much as Puyol or Messi. Lowe notes how Guardiola early on as a player showed signs of being a coach, with his thirst to learn the tactics from the experts of the game. The original piece can be read here. Excerpts after the jump.
After a great interview with Xavi Hernandez, writer Sid Lowe turns his eyes on yet another FC Barcelona player namely Pedro Rodriguez. In the piece, Lowe highlights the attributes of the player from Tenerife and discusses how coach Pep Guardiola’s great faith in the 23-year-old winger has paid rich dividends as Pedro has now become an integral part of the starting 11. Original article can be found @ Guardian.co.uk on 12 February 2011.
Read an excerpt after the jump.
“It was a real pleasure to talk to him. Fascinating. I hope I’ve done him justice.” These were the words that journalist Sid Lowe wrote on his Twitter for Xavi, while promoting his latest interview with the 31-year-old player for The Guardian. Lowe has for long been a fan of Xavi, even saying that the FC Barcalona midfielder was his 2010 FIFA Ballon d’Or winner. Lowe retains some of the Spanish expressions that Xavi uses and even gives descriptions of how he reacts to questions, which infuses new life into the interview. With a visit to London just a few days away, Xavi spoke about the match against Arsenal, Cesc Fabregas, the El Clasico and Barca’s philosophy. Read the complete piece here. Excerpts from the interview after the jump.
Some may argue that that there are six FC Barcelona players in Sid Lowe’s La Liga Team of the Decade, which is part of his series for Sports Illustrated. But we will be frank and say that the real number is four – Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernandez, Lionel Messi and Samuel Eto’o, even though Lowe takes into account Eto’s performances for Mallorca. Lowe, often, we think, unjustly proclaimed as anti-Barca, may have partially redeemed himself in the eyes of Cules as he even includes Dani Alves and David Villa, who now ply their trade at the Catalan Club. So even if Lowe, taking a dig at the fans of Madrid and Barcelona, says that yes, there is a “bias” and that his team is “anti-Barca” and “anti-Madrid“, the truth is otherwise. If Lowe’s chosen legion was to play now, the reality is that much like Spain’s national team, it would be a Barca affair.
With 2010 gone, writer Sid Lowe, who was recently awarded Best Football Journalist by football site Soccerlens for his “outstanding work in covering Spanish football in 2010“, sat down to look back at Spanish football from 2000 to 2010 and compile his team of the decade for Sports Illustrated. He started off the series with Real Madrid. This time around, he casts his eyes on the Catalan club. Of the 11 players in Lowe’s list, six are key players in the current side. Coach Guardiola also finds a place with only two and a half years as manager. Here is his pick of the perfect Barca 11. The original article can be read here.
Original article can be found @ Guardian.co.uk on 20 December 2010.
‘Barcelona were brilliant at Espanyol. But this was another kind of brilliant’
Author: Sid Lowe
And then at last it happened: someone scored against Barcelona. There had been 31 goals since Villarreal striker Nilmar’s clever strike when the league’s third sexiest player out-sprinted Carles Puyol on Saturday night – and all 31 had been scored by the same team. Almería defender Santi Acasiete was the only non-Barça player to be have found the net in seven and a half matches when the man ‘Don Balón’s’ panel of ‘experts’ (or ‘women’, as they’re also known) judged only marginally less attractive than Aitor Ocio and Fernando Llorente hit a clean, low shot past Víctor Valdés – and Acasiete had found the wrong one. The aggregate score in Barcelona v Their Combined Opponents was 31-0 when, in the 62nd minute of the eighth match, Daniel Pablo Osvaldo did what Almería, Panathinaikos, Real Madrid, Osasuna, Rubin Kazan and Real Sociedad couldn’t do.
Original article can be found @ SportsIllustrated
By: Sid Lowe ‘La Masía nurtures Barcelona’s philosophy for technical excellence’
Date: December 9, 2010
In the end, it was Photoshop that did them justice. All of them. It was Photoshop that made the picture complete and the message unequivocal.
On Monday afternoon, Lionel Messi, Andrés Iniesta and Xavi Hernández walked out to the pitch at FC Barcelona’s Sant Joan Despí training ground and posed for a photo. The three stood together and in the middle was a blue and red football, Messi reaching to lay a hand on it from the right, Xavi doing likewise from the left. Iniesta stood with an arm around his teammates.
Original article can be found @ Sport Illustrated
By: Sid Lowe ‘Barca’s Messi shows he’s just as ‘complete’ as Real’s Ronaldo’
Date: December 3, 2010
Pep Guardiola blew out his cheeks, exhaling a huge lung full of air, and rolled his eyes. He could barely believe anyone would be stupid enough to think otherwise.
“But,” the Barcelona manager exclaimed Monday, craning his head forward and looking straight at his inquisitor with an incredulous look etched across his face, “who is more complete than Leo Messi?”
“It was not that they thrashed Madrid 5-0, defeated Mourinho and his unbeaten €292m team. It was that they did it their way.”
I wanted to write a column about Barcelona’s magical night yesterday, but there isn’t much left to say that hasn’t already been said, especially anything that would do full justice to Barcelona’s performance.
With that said, Sid Lowe did a great job putting down the Barcelona performance into words in his column in the Guardian today! Below is a reproduction of his column. The original can be found here.
Original article can be found @ Sports Illustrated
Author: Sid Lowe
Date: 18 November 2010
The Brazilian World Cup winner Mazinho, a member of the 1994 squad that was victorious in the United States, called him “complete.” According to the former Vasco de Gama, Fiorentina, Valencia and Celta de Vigo player, “he can use both feet, takes people on, has vision, can join the attack, and can finish off chances, scoring goals.” Then again, Mazinho would say that. After all, Mazinho is his dad.
But Mazinho is not alone in talking up Thiago Alcántara. Many call him the “pearl” of Barcelona’s youth setup, a “successor” to Xavi Hernández and Andres Iniesta — with a touch of Ronaldinho thrown in. His coach at U-21 level calls him “technically gifted,” while the man who first worked with him as a 13-year-old at Barcelona calls him “the purest exponent of skill on the ball.” Santiago Segurola called him “a virtuoso” in Marca. And writing in El País, Ramón Besa called him “exquisite.” As for Barcelona, they just need to call him. Soon.
Last season FC Barcelona and Spanish International goalkeeper Víctor Valdés (28) claimed the Zamora trophy for a second straight year after allowing the fewest goals in La Liga. In 38 matches, he allowed only 24 goals. Barcelona’s defense also stood out as one of the best in Europe. To date, it has been a bit of a different story this season. With 6 goals scored against them already, the Barcelona defense is looking less convincing.
The Ibrahimovic transfer continues to generate heated discussions among FC Barcelona fans. Count on Sid Lowe to put the pros and cons of the deal straight up. In his latest column for Guardian, the writer couldn’t sum up the entire saga better. Lowe suggests that while the club let go of Ibrahimovic, they got a significant signing in the form of David Villa, who was always the first choice of Pep Guardiola. However, as the headline suggests, this transfer came at a heavy cost.
Everyone watching Spain’s semifinal match against Germany on July 7, 2010, saw FC Barcelona forward Pedro Rodríguez (22) — or just Pedro, as he is known — get his first start in the World Cup. They saw him excel against a strong German team and effectively neutralize German defender Philip Lahm. But the last move they saw him make was to rush towards the goal and waste an almost clear scoring opportunity by not passing to Fernando Torres. A few minutes later, he was subbed out, and that final, lasting impression of a seemingly selfish act was burned into the minds of many, and many wondered, “What was he thinking?’” Writer Sid Lowe provides that answer.
Original article @ guardian.co.uk
Barcelona holds firm to leave Madrid clutching at straws with one game to go
By Sid Lowe
A cold, threatening chill went down their spine just before half past 10 on Saturday night. Suddenly, unexpectedly, fear gripped. Canguelo or cagometro, the heebie-jeebies, the ‘crappingyourselfometer’, the bogeyman … call it what you like, it was back. Captain Paranoia leapt on to their shoulders and, cackling malevolently, whispered into their ears: “you’re going to blow it”. They’d gone from cruising to crisis in a heartbeat – and their hearts were beating harder than ever, smashing through their sternums. In the Sanchez Pizjuan dugout Tito Villanova was gently, contentedly patting Pep Guardiola on the knee: it’s done. Five minutes later, Guardiola was furiously, violently elbowing it into submission. Once, twice, three times. No it’s bloody not.
Original article @ Guardian.co.uk
By Sid Lowe
One o’clock Saturday night, Sunday morning in the bowels of the Bernabéu and somewhere behind that mop of hair there’s a look of surprise. There may even be a hint of disgust. “If you say so, mate,” replies Carles Puyol, “but I don’t agree. Maybe some people don’t give him all the credit he deserves. Maybe you have ignored him, but we haven’t. Not us. We know he’s absolutely fundamental; we know that he’s among the best in the world and I think everyone recognises that.” Well, almost everyone.
author: Sid Lowe
date: March 22 2010
Barcelona’s talisman is so sensationally good at the moment that comparisons with football’s greatest players are wholly justified.
It’s not big and it’s not clever but sometimes swearing is the only thing that will do. Sometimes you’ve used up every other word and nothing else quite hits the spot. You’ve rummaged round the back of the sofa, rifled through the drawers, turned out your pockets and still come up empty. Pep Guardiola insisted that he was clean out of adjectives and frankly so was everyone else. Spain was suffering a severe shortage of superlatives last night. The Catalan newspaper Sport invited readers to send in headlines for what they had just witnessed and there were plenty of super, sensational and sublimes, some magic, magnificent and marvellouses, wows and wonderfuls, plus deities by the dozen, and even a ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’, but still there was no way to really do it justice. No polite way anyway. Just wide eyes, a wider mouth and a simple: holy shit!