Good things can’t last forever. Barcelona B’s winning run in the Spanish third tier came to an end on Sunday at El Collao, against a combative Alcoyano side that will certainly rival the Blaugranas for promotion. Gerard López did say last week that the match against Alcoyano would be war; the coach was proved right as the game was intensely contested and, above all, contained lots of controversy. The Blaugranas almost completed a miraculous comeback after coming back from 2-0 down, but this time round, they were defeated in the same way that the won last week, thanks to a late goal scored by the hosts.
Round three of La Liga sees Barcelona lose a tough three points at home to Alavés. The club was first undone with a simple cross to Deyverson that resulted in a goal, but minutes later equalized on a Jérémy Mathieu header from a Neymar corner. The contest was decided in the 64th minute after a bad clearance by Javier Mascherano that led to a goal from Ibai Gómez. Luis Enrique made seven changes to the team that started the previous match against Athletic Club before the international break. Even after the introductions of Lionel Messi, Andrés Iniesta, and Luis Suárez the club were unable to equalize.
Barcelona lost today, and the general consensus is that Luis Enrique did it again. He experimented with the lineup too much, underestimated Alavés, and cost his team the game. There is certainly an element of truth to that, but to simply write it off as a managerial cock-up seems a bit lazy to me. Luis Enrique is surely capable of mistakes – but he’s also a generally brilliant manager who knows his team well and is into his third season. He’s likely watched hours of tape of Alavés and knows how good they are. But he was under a different set of pressures from coaching Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, and Neymar.
In Spanish, the phrase a la vez means “both, at the same time.” Fittingly, Barça’s 1-2 loss to newly promoted Alavés was, a la vez, frustrating and potentially avoidable, but not world ending or an indicator of crisis.
The international break is a weird phenomenon — essentially hitting pause on early season progress while players travel thousands of miles for another team. So club fans hold their breath and look at their watches until it’s over, hoping everyone comes out unscathed.
Barça’s return to action against Alavés tomorrow is a welcome relief after 16 members of the squad were called up for nine different countries for friendlies and World Cup qualifying.
Ahead of the weekend, let’s see how (and where) Barça fared internationally.
“Good artists create. Great artists steal”
And so the age-old saying goes. Two paradoxes exist between Los Colchoneros and La Blaugrana, and they are not just found in the cultural authenticity of Catalonia in contrast with the fast lane of the capital, Madrid. The first paradox is found where one team currently finds itself; at the pinnacle of world football and excellence, and where the other aspires to find itself. The second paradox is found in the manner in which excellence is achieved: art, grit inventiveness, toughness.
The amazing creations of the football edits community have been a revelation for us at totalBarça this season, and if you follow our Twitter account you’ve no doubt noticed that we’ve been featuring the best work we come across. We decided to take this one step further and put together a series of short interviews with some of our favorite Barça-focused artists. These posts will showcase some amazing artwork, and explore the relationship between art and football fandom.
This is an exclusive translation of a story that ran in Sport this week. Find the original here: http://ttlbr.ca/2c6Qf2s
During the international break, attention usually swings away from club football. For Barcelona B though, the weekend was not the time for switching off. Gerard López and his charges hosted Villarreal B, one of the promotion contenders this weekend, in a match the coach conceded last week would be one of the toughest for the team in the first round of the league season. The Blaugranas though, riding the wave of positivity that has been carrying them for the past two weeks, managed to sink the Yellow Submarine and take a win that installed them as the sole league leaders. To get there though, the reserves had to suffer.
Barça’s 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao was an interesting game, and an exciting one to watch. It was a rainy night at the San Mamés, a night when Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez weren’t at the top of their games, missing several chances to score. Their defense was having some trouble with the high pressure Athletic Bilbao were playing with, and Barça’s midfield had to help break the pressure. Arda Turan lifted a cross into the box for Ivan Rakitić to head home, and Barcelona left the stadium full of 50,000 fans with an away victory. But that wasn’t the biggest statement made on Sunday night. That would be the play of Marc-André ter Stegen.