Well, there really isn’t an off-season is there? With Copa America commencing on Friday and Euro 2016 just a week after, things are going to be juicy even while the blaugrana are not technically in session. And with that, we wanted to make a quick mention of our friends over at World F.C. They not only supply our wonderful totalBarça shirts, but they also recently came out with their new Captains Collection featuring national pride. Some of the gear for your viewing after the jump.
Copa del Rey final. Barcelona’s European internationals have left to join up with their national sides ahead of EURO 2016, the South Americans have left for the States in order to battle it all out in the Copa America Centenario, and those with no commitments have already started their holidays. For one man though, the end of Barça’s season signified the start of a crucial period. We are of course talking about the club’s technical secretary, Robert Fernández, who faces his first summer in charge of the blaugrana transfer dossier.
For most top clubs around the world, preseason is a bit of a pain, with lots of travelling and a lot of hard work to prepare for the upcoming season. The Barça squad, which will be unfamiliar due to the Copa América and European Championships, will have a training camp at the St George’s Park training complex in Burton-upon-Trent in England between the 25th and 30th of July, before playing their first preseason fixture in Dublin, Ireland against Celtic on the night of the 30th, then on to Stockholm, Sweden to play Premier League champions Leicester City on the 3rd of August and finally they come back to the United Kingdom to play Liverpool at Wembley in London, England.
Over the years, Barcelona have preferred to field very rotated sides in these friendlies, with lots of youngsters joining the trip to gain quality experience with the first team squad and coaches, and showing what they can do with the possibility of more first team action in their minds. But which youngsters could take the trip to England for the training camp?
Yet another La Masia season is over. Barcelona’s academy sides are now preparing for the customary summer tournaments, and for us here at totalBarça, the time has come to run the ruler over the young Blaugranas who stole the eye this season. Read on to find out about all the stars, the surprise packages, and the disappointments of the 2015-16 season in the world’s best football academy.
Going into this game, I didn’t think this team could make me any happier or prouder than it had last season. After the buzz last season created, with the team coming from the depths of Anoeta-induced despair to win the coveted treble, this season had a lot to live up to. If any team could live up to the lofty expectations a treble creates though, it was this one, and this game proved beyond any doubt that this group of players and its extremely underrated coach are special.
Barça’s rocky season is finally over, with yet another historical league title and the club’s 28th Copa del Rey sealed to end this magnificent season with a double. And now that the season is over, football fans shift their attention to the summer segment of the beautiful game – the transfer window. And luckily, for the first time since the summer of 2014, Barça will have a transfer window open to all sorts of possibilities, which means transfers are inevitable.
That said, the opponents aren’t here to hand the trophy to the Catalans. Sevilla have just come back from Basel after easing past Liverpool to retain the Europa League and make it their third in a row, and their fifth in history (including the Uefa Cup).
By wrapping up the Liga with Saturday’s win against Granada CF, FC Barcelona secured its sixth league title in eight years. There’s nothing inherently special about six in eight. It’s an arbitrary range that begins with the exit of Ronaldinho and, consequently, the beginning of the Lionel Messi epoch. Pep Guardiola took over in the summer of 2008, sold a few of the team’s most celebrated players, and focused the team’s attack around then 21-year old Messi. Since that summer, Barça have won six league titles and three Champions League trophies, as well as a bunch of other cups history cares less about.
This never would have flown if Pep Guardiola were still around. The Catalan coaching legend, the man who did more than anyone to shape the current generation of FC Barcelona players, would have hated every minute of the team’s play against Granada CF in the climactic finale of a long Liga season.
Instead of weaving intricate short passing patterns, even Barça veterans like Andrés Iniesta and Javier Mascherano fired long-range missiles over the unkempt pitch. Instead of counterpressing to win the ball back high, the team did most of its defending in its own half. Each time Neymar worked the ball into the opponent’s box and pulled it back to the penalty spot, à la Pedro Rodríguez or David Villa, Lionel Messi was nowhere around to slot it home. In fact, the greatest player on earth, the spark that fired the Guardiola-era engine, barely featured in the match. Messi strolled the sideline in the shade and distributed with mixed results from midfield, looking slow, beat up, worn out from a long year. If his team had played like this, Pep would have blown a gasket. He also might have lost the game.
This is it. Today, FC Barcelona face Granada CF in the title-deciding fixture in the final Liga round of the season. The work of an entire season could either be rewarded or rendered null at the end of the 90 minutes, which only highlights how incredible are the expectations of a club like Barcelona. After three consecutive Liga defeats against Real Madrid, Real Sociedad, and Valencia, the point gap between Barca and Madrid has shrunk to a single point leaving zero room for error. That was the moment when the players promised they wouldn’t slip up again, that they wouldn’t let the league trophy fall into the hands of their rivals.