Better late than never. We did not voice an opinion on Leo Messi apart from some on-point comments on social media, but the little genius deserves a piece from totalBarça following Argentina’s umpteenth big tournament failure. Leo has put an end to his time with the Albiceleste and the fallout stemming from his decision is still sending shockwaves across the footballing world, even with Wales and Iceland garnering heaps of attention for their indelible displays in Europe.
With the signing of Samuel Umtiti, the return of Denis Suárez, and the imminent renewal of Javier Mascherano, Barça fans seem relatively happy about the start of the transfer window so far. While the rest of the window may yield a different conclusion, these first few signings hint at an interesting question: is Luis Enrique finally ready to plan for Barça’s long-term future?
An open letter to the Argentine National Football Team:
Hey fellas, how’re you all doing? Tata, it’s been a while. Hope life outside of Barcelona is treating you well.
The last time Leo Messi looked this fresh for Argentina was during the group stages of the 2014 World Cup. The team went on to reach the final only to lose to Germany in the dying minutes and a year later, they lost the Copa América to Chile. Luckily enough, Messi didn’t have to wait for another four years to get the chance to finally win silverware with his country, given that he has just helped his team reach a third consecutive final, this time in the Copa América Centenario.
To give credit when its due, even though Messi is on fire in this tournament, his teammates are finally helping him out.
The joke going around before the United States faced Argentina in the Copa América semifinals last night was that a third of the fans in Houston were there to support the hosts, a third for Argentina, and a third for Lionel Messi. To judge from the broadcast, the joke might not have gone far enough. There were Messi jerseys, Messi signs, even albiceleste flags with Messi’s airbrushed face rippling in the breeze. Only the most pious American fans pretended their guys had any chance against an Argentina side that’s playing like the best in the world, led by the best player in the world. Most just wanted to witness greatness.
Spain vs Croatia has the chance to be the most exciting game at the Euros so far. The race to be crowned the best team in Europe has definitely had its moments, but has also had its fair share of dour games, with less than two goals being scored on average per game.
A game between these two teams, then, who are two of the only teams to have scored three goals or more in this tournament, may potentially be one of the most exciting and technical games of the tournament so far, thanks in no small part to two Blaugrana midfielders who are vital to their respective countries.
Gone are the days when Spain were the undisputed kings of international football tournaments. Ever since the Dutch demolished Spain in Brazil, with Arjen Robben and co. putting five past Iker Casillas, the Spanish haven’t quite been the same. The talent is still there, but perhaps not in the same quantities and to the same degree that it was at both Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
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?