Summer for Barça fans as been a bit of a mixed affair. The club made many brilliant signings but some players fell on the international stage. In the Euros, the blaugrana players of Spain crashed out at the hands of Italy, and Ivan Rakitić’s Croatia going out to eventual winners Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo. Even more upsetting, in the Copa America, Lionel Messi dazzled throughout, only to lose out in another international competition on penalties. After Leo was brought to tears at the MetLife Stadium, some FCB fans feared the worst for his future. Other fans recalled his incredible performances after the World Cup disappointment in 2014. Messi has made his intentions clear for this season after game week one.
There was a night in Berlin when hundreds of millions of viewers tuned in to watch a match between the best two clubs in Europe. Juventus had just beaten Real Madrid off a great performance from Madrid’s own Alvaro Morata, and Barcelona had just squeezed through a stacked Bayern Munich team, coached by Barcelona’s former manager, and perennial title winner, Pep Guardiola. The teams were different then than now, Juventus having a lineup with Pirlo, Vidal, Pogba, Morata, and Carlos Tevez; Barça still employed the services of Xavi and Pedro. Rakitic gave Barça the lead early on, but Morata equalized ten minutes into the second half. With the game tight and Juventus gaining ground, Messi’s shot was blocked wide and Suárez put it back in to give Barcelona the lead. To finish it off, as we all know, and Neymar struck late and gave Barcelona a 3-1 lead. They had won the treble: La Liga, La Copa del Rey, and the UEFA Champions League.
A lot has been said about the 2015/2016 season. And even though it proved to be a success (Yes, a double is a success folks), there was a bitter taste left in the mouths of all cules. Seeing our arch-rivals in Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid competing for top honours in the UEFA Champions League Final seemed a strange ending to a season that had started with so much promise. Celebrating the Copa Del Rey triumph proved an even stranger feeling. I personally can attest to feeling like I was jumping for joy for a 2nd place finish.
August 13, 1973.
Almost exactly 43 years ago, Ajax Amsterdam and FC Barcelona agreed to terms and Johan Cruyff signed a record transfer fee to become a Barça player. Cruyff was insistent that he end up in the Catalan capital, going so far as to threaten a boycott of the 1974 World Cup to pressure the Dutch federation into cooperating with his exit from the Netherlands.
Barring some manner of omniscience, nobody involved in brokering that deal for Barça truly knew how important Cruyff was destined to become. If they had known, they may well have paid even more.
It would be quite hard to think whether Barça would’ve achieved what they’ve achieved had they not had someone as great as Claudio Bravo back between the posts these past two years. Since the frightening days of Victor Valdes and his epic back up Pinto; Barça had been starving over a reliable goalie for the past decade. These worries became almost normal for a Culé back in the day. Heck, it almost felt like a challenge to see how good our defence line is every time we fielded Pinto on the pitch.
Being one game into our 2016/2017 campaign it is a fair time to look ahead and see what we have in store for us, the good Culés of the world that lose sleep over a spherical object not reaching an anticipated net. Also known as fans, we all share one thing in common in August – none of us are losers. At least not yet. We spend the summer first either rejoicing and basking in the glory, for a few, or analyzing what went wrong, for the rest.
On Thursday the 21st of July, Barcelona and Hamburg reached an agreement for the sale of 20-year-old Alen Halilović for 5 million euros. Barcelona have the option to buy the Croatian back over the next two seasons for 10 million euros as well as the first option to purchase the player for as long as he is at the German club, but is this the end of Halilović’s Barça dream?
Xavi Hernández was never a man of many words. Whenever the former Barcelona midfield puppet master spoke to the press, he did so to offer some words of wisdom and to offer opinions that always echoed the voice of logic. Xavi, now ready to begin his second season with Qatar’s Al-Sadd sat down with SPORT journalist Javier Miguel before joining his team’s preseason training in Austria for a comprehensive interview. TotalBarça is bringing you the whole interview in English.
“When I stop enjoying football, I’ll retire” – Lionel Messi, 2012.
Over the years, you look at the players that’ve come and gone, those that gave you joy and pride. You look back and think how it was only like yesterday, they put on their retro-looking jersey for the very first time and stormed the field like wildfire. And for the majority of those players, the ending creeped up over us like a scavenger on a hunt without us even realising it. So let’s take a moment to study the current facts.
Barcelona have started July by announcing Samuel Umtiti and Denis Suárez as the club’s first summer signings ahead of the 2016-17 season. Although culés did have an idea of Denis’ game, with the Galician having starred with Barça B in 2014, Umtiti’s capture for €25 million did raise a few eyebrows, given that the Frenchman was an unknown quality to many.
That’s exactly why Thursday’s EURO 2016 semifinal meeting between Umtiti’s France and world champions Germany was mightily important to Umtiti’s future in the blaugrana shirt. In his second start for the national side, Umtiti literally had 90 minutes to win the hearts of the most demanding set of fans in the world. And boy how well he did.