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.
“Well begun is half done,” said the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. There can’t be a better way to highlight the importance of having a good start to your league season than the wise old man’s words. When you are talking about footballers, a good start is enough to propel them until Christmas, at least. Look at Leicester City’s Premier League winning season if you are not convinced. Barcelona B, on their part, seem to have taken full notice of Aristotle’s quote. Gerard’s boys managed to record a second consecutive win with a 3-1 defeat of Hércules away from home, made it two out of two against a direct rival, but above all, they managed to take advantage of their momentum, something that had started to prove elusive for the team in recent seasons.
Round two of La Liga sees Barcelona earn a tough three points with a one to nil victory away at the new San Mamés. The low scoring affair was cagey and tense throughout with an early header from Ivan Rakitić deciding the affair.