Why Barcelona’s ground is called ‘Camp Nou’ not ‘Nou Camp’

June 27, 2022


“Less than three weeks working for The Athletic have been enough for me to raise an existential doubt that has nagged me since the day I set foot on English soil. ‘Why is Barcelona’s stadium widely regarded as the ‘Nou Camp’ in England?’ It sounded really wrong in my head. The Athletic editors listened to my enquiry and actually gave some thought to that. Barcelona’s home has been popularly referred to Camp Nou since it opened on September 24, 1957. However, there was a long path to that becoming its official name. …”
The Athletic (Video)


The Dust Settles: The Biggest Changes in Stats Perform’s Power Rankings Over the Course of this Season

June 12, 2022


“So that’s that. Another season in the books. Lots happened, but in some ways, lots stayed the same. As tends to happen, European football’s hierarchy tightened their stranglehold on silverware. Real Madrid, the very definition of footballing heritage, won their record 35th La Liga title and a 14th European Cup/Champions League. Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain continued their domestic league dominance. Elsewhere, it was a renaissance season for AC Milan, who won their first Scudetto in 11 years and returned to the Champions League for the first time since 2013-14. Forty-two years after winning the UEFA Cup in 1980, Eintracht Frankfurt won the famous trophy again, beating Rangers in the Europa League final. …”
The Analyst


Gavi’s contract impasse at Barcelona and the problem of too much football

June 9, 2022


“… Luis Enrique was speaking after Barcelona midfielder Pablo Martin Paez Gavira’s outstanding performance in last Thursday’s 1-1 UEFA Nations League draw with Portugal. Of course, you will know him as Gavi and the still just 17-year-old had been the game’s outstanding figure, showing tremendous personality and game intelligence to overshadow experienced Portuguese midfielders like Joao Moutinho and Bruno Fernandes. …”
The Athletic (Video)


Why Pedri might not ever win the Ballon d’Or?

May 24, 2022


Pedri is one of the most exciting young players in world football. He plays for a giant of a club in Barcelona, and already there’s little he can’t do on the pitch. So surely, one day, he’ll be in the reckoning for the Ballon d’Or award. But is it that easy? Seb Stafford-Bloor looks at the previous winners to find out. Illustrated by Philippe Fenner.
YouTube
W – Pedri


Salah vs Son for the Premier League golden boot: Who will win with a game to go?

May 21, 2022


(A version of this piece was originally published on April 15. It has been updated to reflect results in the Premier League since then and the recent form of Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min) The two favourites for the Premier League golden boot are in contrasting spells of form. Mohamed Salah has scored three times in his last 10 games, while Son Heung-min has 10 goals in the same period. …”
The Athletic


The art of the third-man run (feat. Son, Smith Rowe and De Bruyne)

April 18, 2022


“Xavi knows a thing or two about passing and movement patterns, and about how to navigate a way through the opposition press. … The third man is a relatively simple but fascinating concept to explore in terms of freeing up a player to receive possession in between the lines, or in some cases to break through on goal, after two team-mates exchange passes. Essentially, how player A passes to player B, who is marked and unable to receive the ball from him directly, via player C. Picture a defender playing the ball into the striker, who lays it off for a midfielder. …”
The Athletic


How Messi Became “The Flea”

April 11, 2022


“La pulga. La pulga atomica. Lionel Messi the atomic flea. The agility, the movement, the elusiveness. When Lionel Messi was growing up he was tiny. But with the ball at his feet he buzzed and zipped around the pitch. Back in Argentina they nicknamed him the flea, but by the time he was in Barcelona he had become the atomic flea. Seb Stafford-Bloor remembers Messi, Henry Cooke illustrates.”
YouTube


Inside the first 12 months of Laporta’s Barcelona presidency

April 3, 2022


“Amid the celebrations of Barcelona’s 4-0 Clasico victory at Real Madrid last Sunday, the club’s most powerful and influential figures came down to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu pitch to pose for a photo to mark the occasion. While club president Joan Laporta raised four fingers proudly, vice-president Rafael Yuste clenched a fist. Coach Xavi, his brother and assistant Oscar Hernandez and Sergio Alegre, another of the backroom staff, were grinning widely. Sporting director Mateu Alemany and international department director Jordi Cruyff were beaming too. …”
The Athletic


How Xavi’s new-style 4-3-3 is helping Barcelona rebuild

March 27, 2022


“… To some fans it sounded ridiculous to praise players for losing to their arch nemeses, especially given how little results had improved since Laporta fired Ronald Koeman as manager and brought in Pep Guardiola’s supposed heir-apparent in Xavi. But in the 12 games since — the last 11 of them undefeated — Laporta has been proven right. If you had to pick a single turning point in Barcelona’s season, the moment some hidden switch flipped from post-Lionel Messi malaise to the start of an exciting new project, that January Clasico was it. …”
The Athletic


Real Madrid vs Barcelona: Aubameyang score twice for El Clasico to give Barcelon 4-0 win over Real Madrid

March 21, 2022


“Barcelona boss Xavi will not rule out a remarkable late push for the La Liga title after his side’s thrashing of runaway leaders Real Madrid in a statement win at the Bernabeu. Real, who had won the previous five Clasicos, are nine points clear of Sevilla with nine matches to go, with third-placed Barcelona a further three behind with a game in hand. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice on his Clasico debut and set up Ferran Torres. Aubameyang and Ronald Araujo headed in crosses from Ousmane Dembele before the break and Aubayemang then flicked the ball into the path of Torres for their third. …”
BBC
Guardian: Aubameyang leads way for Barcelona with two goals in Real Madrid thrashing


Being Oneself: Marcelino and Athletic Bilbao

March 19, 2022


“For fans across the world, football has long been a game through which they can seek a subconscious identity. Through what their clubs represent and what they stand for, fans look to find themselves somewhere there, and through appropriation, it becomes an extension of themselves. With that in mind, the potential success of a club like Athletic Bilbao will send a lasting message across the globe—largely because of its distinct social identity in Spain. …”
Football Paradise
Football Paradise: When Barca bowed to Athletic Bilbao – Giant-killing legacy of Fred Pentland (March 2018)
W – Athletic Bilbao

On this day but in 1930, Athletic Club achieved our Cup number 11. On June 1, 1930, the lions met Real Madrid CF in the final played at Montjuic (Barcelona) and won 3-2.


Tactical Analysis: Napoli vs. Barcelona (Second Leg)

March 4, 2022


“Thursday night’s tie between Napoli and Barcelona saw the latter put on an absolute clinic in attack. It was a performance that pressed the rewind button, reminiscent of the philosophy which made Barcelona one of the most dominant teams of the 2000s. What were the dynamics behind this? Early in the game, Napoli implemented a 4-3-3 press in order to match/outnumber Barcelona in build-up. Here, Barcelona responded by matching Napoli’s 1st line of defense using a make-shift back 3. Using a back 3 allowed 1 fullback to advance creating a wide overload as such. …”
Breaking the Lines


New Year, New Me: The Biggest Changes in Stats Perform’s Power Rankings

February 24, 2022


“The return of European knockout football has us once again watching teams from across the continent go up against one another. But tournament football, clearly, doesn’t see every team play each other, and the beauty of it is that the best team doesn’t always win. And that’s absolutely fine. But what if there was a global league system, rather than one-off knockout ties, that could help us gauge the comparative strength of teams across the world? Well, that’s exactly what Stats Perform’s Power Rankings seek to do. …”
The Analyst


Cold-blooded Barcelona subdues Atletico with Tiki-Taka brilliance: Data and Tactical Analysis

February 11, 2022


“Barcelona dismantled Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou by becoming the first team to score four goals past them, since December 2012. This was Atletico’s one of the worst defensive performances in the Diego Simeone era. Colchoneros took an early lead in the 8th minute through Yannick Carrasco but it lasted just three minutes. The breath-taking equalizer by Jordi Alba assisted the Catalans to maintain the impetus in the first half and score another two goals, in the remaining half. …”
News 9 Live
YouTube:Tactical Analysis : Barcelona 4-2 Atletico Madrid | Xavi And Simeone’s Tactical Battle


Ajax, Barca, Bayern among Europe’s great treble winners

February 7, 2022


“The Bavarians’ success was remarkable given they changed their coach earlier in the campaign, appointing Hans-Dieter Flick as head coach. Flick had been the number two at Bayern and had filled similar roles with RB Salzburg and the German national team. Prior to that, he was coach of Hoffenheim in the regional league. While Flick inherited a team, he rekindled the fire at Bayern and won three major prizes. Bayern Munich joined eight previous winners of the ‘treble’. …”
Game of the People


Aubameyang, Xavi and Barcelona: Is this going to work?

February 3, 2022


“Xavi used to be an idealist. Two years ago, from the comfortable remove of Doha, he pontificated on what sort of forward suited Barcelona and who, in particular, did not: Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. ‘Aubameyang will kill you in open space,’ Xavi told the press. ‘But Barcelona need players who know how to move in small spaces. It’s not easy to think of players who have adapted well to Barca. Samuel Eto’o was perfect, as is Luis Suarez right now.’ Ah, well, nevertheless. …”
The Athletic


The Aston Villa Revolution Will Be Televised

January 25, 2022


“You’ll be shocked to learn that a lot of soccer coverage, maybe even most, is results-driven. For instance, we were exactly 22 minutes away from another dispatch on the fragile Manchester United restoration project; Ralf Rangnick’s vulnerable, developing creation meekly pressing its head out of an awkward cocoon stage against lower-table opposition. They were winning 2-0 at Villa Park, and the second Bruno Fernandes goal, thumped in off the crossbar, felt like something wriggling free. But United still lack the ability of other big clubs to put the game out of sight, and Aston Villa are surprisingly resilient. …”
The Ringer (Video)


Milan draw with Juventus as De Jong scores late winner for Barcelona

January 24, 2022


Frenkie de Jong
“La Liga leaders Real Madrid fought back from two goals down at home to rescue a 2-2 draw against lowly Elche thanks to a last-gasp Éder Militão goal in stoppage time. Real wasted a golden opportunity to widen the gap at the top of the table after second-placed Sevilla stumbled at home with a draw against Celta Vigo on Saturday. …”
Guardian


Football and cryptocurrency sponsorship: is the free-for-all over?

January 22, 2022


“Up until now, football’s relationship with cryptocurrency sponsorship has felt like a complete and utter free-for-all, with no rules whatsoever. Slowly but surely that is starting to change. This week the UK government announced plans to crackdown on misleading ads for cryptocurrency companies, which would treat them like ads for other financial products, a move that could have far-reaching implications in the world of football which is increasingly dependent on the booming sector. Meanwhile Spain is leading a similar charge in the EU. …”
The Athletic


Players to Watch in 2021-22: The Analyst 50 (Part I)

January 21, 2022


“After a summer of frantic international football tournaments across the globe, the new domestic league season is now on the horizon. Ninety-eight teams will battle it out across the top five European leagues, with titles to be won, European football to be secured and relegation to be avoided and we wanted to give you a guide on some of the players to watch in 2021-22. We recruited the very best of Stats Perform’s data editors to give us a list of 50 players. These players aren’t who they think are the greatest – you’ve all read that. This is a selection of 50 players that we think will make an impact in 2021-22. Some are obvious, some less so. Let’s dive in to The Analyst 50, with the first 25 players. …”
The Analyst (July 2021) Part I (Video), Part II (Video)


Spain: 2021-22 La Liga – Location-map, with Seasons-in-1st-Division for the current 20 clubs & Spanish titles list.

January 20, 2022


“The map shows the twenty clubs in the current season of the Spanish La Liga [2021-22]. The map features the locations and crests of the 20 current La Liga clubs. Plus, the recently-promoted and -relegated teams are noted. (Promoted in 2021: Espanyol, Mallorca, Rayo Vallecano; relegated in 2021: Eibar, Valladolid, Huesca). …”
billsportsmaps
Guardian: Sid Lowe


Coutinho’s downward spiral: how it went wrong for Barcelona’s record signing

January 14, 2022


“‘All Barcelona fans, all around the world, are very excited about getting to know Coutinho,’ said Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, as the Catalan club’s new record signing was presented at the Nou Camp in early January 2018. … That welcome has not aged well. Flush with the money from selling Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain for a world-record €222 million the previous summer, Barcelona could have targeted any player they wanted. They fixed their gaze on Coutinho, and would not let go until Liverpool had haggled the fee up to €120 million, plus another €40 million in add-ons. For all that money, Barcelona have so far got 106 games, 25 goals, and 14 assists. … But the move has actually been a disaster, for the club and the player. …”
The Athletic


Valverde’s extra-time strike sends Real Madrid into Spanish Super Cup final

January 13, 2022


“By the time this was over, it was way after midnight in Riyadh, they were barely able to walk any more let alone run, and they were 6,500km from home but Real Madrid had made it. The last ball had been caught by Thibaut Courtois and he lay on the turf, clutching their place in the final of the Spanish Super Cup, Fede Valverde’s extra-time goal having settled a match that ultimately had the winner everyone expected but did not play out as anticipated. A fun night could have gone either way, from 1-0 to 1-1, 2-1 to 2-2 and ultimately 3-2. …”
Guardian
El Clasico score: Real Madrid edge Barcelona in extra time with Fede Valverde’s goal to reach Supercopa final


UEFA Champions League round of 16 classics

January 8, 2022


“Taking in José Mourinho’s touchline charge, La Remontada and plenty more besides, UEFA.com picks out a classic last-16 tie from each of the last 18 seasons. The 2021/22 UEFA Champions League is the 19th edition since the knockout round of 16 replaced the second group stage. UEFA.com picks out a classic tie from each of the past 18 seasons – all headline scores are aggregate. …”
UEFA (Video)


Sensible Transfers: Barcelona

January 7, 2022


“In this Sensible Transfers series, In this series, we will analyse teams, identify problem areas, and suggest solutions in the form of incoming players. Barcelona are still riddled with huge debt, and whilst they want to look dominant in the transfer market, the reality is they need to be selective with who they bring in. Xavi has returned as manager and promised a return to a ‘Barcelona-style’. So which players would fit into a ‘Barcelona-style’? Alex Stewart suggests solutions for an attacker and a left-back. Illustrated by Henry Cooke.”
YouTube


Getafe roll over Real Madrid in great escape bid inspired by Crystal Palace

January 5, 2022


“Giovanni Trapattoni carried a bottle of holy water with him, blessed by the sister who actually was his sister. In 2009 the Espanyol manager Mauricio Pochettino hiked to Montserrat to visit the black virgin, enlisting her help in avoiding relegation, salvation delivered soon after. And Raúl Madero, the Argentinian national team doctor, twice visited the wailing wall. The first time, before the 1986 World Cup, he asked for them to be champions; when he went back four years later, he thought that would be pushing it, so requested runners-up. True story, and when it comes to football you’ll try anything. Sometimes it even works. …”
Guardian


Overperforming Real Madrid? Underperforming Barca? Analysing how La Liga season could unfold

January 2, 2022


“There are many ways to win in football — but scoring more goals than you really should have, while conceding fewer than would have been expected, is a pretty good mix. Real Madrid have definitely been outperforming their numbers over the first half of this La Liga season, both in attack and defence. These are two big reasons why Carlo Ancelotti’s team have been able to open up what already looks a potentially decisive lead over their challengers — eight points over second-placed Sevilla, an astonishing 17 to champions Atletico Madrid in fifth, and 18 to Barcelona in seventh (albeit with Real Madrid having played a game more). …”
The Athletic (Video)


2021 was the year when football’s silent majority finally found its voice

December 27, 2021


A mural in Rome depicting Juventus president Andrea Agnelli puncturing a football with a knife. Juve backed the doomed European Super League breakaway.
“Remarkably, the website is still live. Eight months after the European Super League disintegrated in an embarrassing fireball, you might think its founders would be minded to erase all trace of their hubris and humiliation. But perhaps that would be to credit them with too much competence. And so there it remains to this day: ‘The Super League is a new European competition between 20 top clubs comprised of 15 founders and five annual qualifiers.’ Well, good luck with that. There is, of course, an alternative theory. After all, the Super League is still not quite dead in a legislative sense; certainly not if you believe the loud and persistent avowals of Andrea Agnelli at Juventus, Joan Laporta at Barcelona and Florentino Pérez at Real Madrid, the three remaining hoarse men of the apocalypse. …”
Guardian


The Barcelona Inheritance – Jonathan Wilson

December 18, 2021


“… His new book is The Barcelona Inheritance: The Evolution of Winning Soccer Tactics from Cruyff to Guardiola. Wilson takes his tactical knowledge and applies it to a specific coaching tree, albeit one that is quite famous. Johan Cruyff has traditionally been attributed with creating the modern Barcelona style of play. Even today, with every new manager, the questions are asked whether the new man can keep Barcelona playing the same tika taka style while churning out the next great generation of soccer talent every year. Wilson explores Cruff’s legacy through the men who succeeded him at Barcelona and in the Netherlands. …”
Review of Jonathan Wilson’s new book, ‘The Barcelona Inheritance’
Jonathan Wilson and The Barcelona Inheritance
amazon


What happened to Philippe Coutinho?

December 16, 2021


“In 2017 Philippe Coutinho became one of the world’s most expensive transfers as he completed a move to Barcelona from Liverpool, where he had been the club’s joint top-scorer in the Premier League, and top assist provider. However, ever since then his career has fallen. What happened? Why? And where is he now? Seb Stafford-Bloor explains. Henry Cooke illustrates.”
YouTube
W – Philippe Coutinho


The Data Day No 15: Our Rolling Football Blog

December 10, 2021


December 9: Villarreal qualified for this season’s Champions League despite not finishing in the top six of La Liga, the cutoff for traditional Europa League qualification. They did so by beating Manchester United in the Europa League final. And although they couldn’t chase down United to win Group F on Thursday, they did more than they needed to in Bergamo to carry on to the Champions League last 16 despite sitting 13th in La Liga. …”
The Analyst
SI: Champions League Group Ouster Is Barcelona’s New Bottom – Jonathan Wilson


Who owns Barcelona?

December 8, 2021


“Barcelona, unlike their Champions League rivals, are not privately owned and cannot attract private investment. They are owned by their fans – known as members or socios. What are socios? Who makes the decisions at Barcelona? Why has this type of ownership led to their current financial predicament? Written by Alex Stewart. Illustrated by Philippe Fenner.”
YouTube (Video)


Xavi gets tough: Basic hotels, communal meals and early arrivals demanded by Barcelona’s new head coach

December 6, 2021


“Three weeks back at Barcelona, after six years away in Qatar, Xavi has already begun to set in place the deep structural changes he has long planned to make on and off the pitch at the Nou Camp. The most visible immediate changes have been with the team — in Xavi’s first three games in charge Barcelona have been playing with more confidence and intensity, pressing higher and harder, taking more risks, breaking forward with more players. The doom and gloom that surrounded the Catalan club through the final stages of Josep Maria Bartomeu’s disastrous presidency has also been replaced by a wave of positivity and optimism — a feeling that despite the club’s huge debts and unbalanced squad they have turned a corner. That feeling is also shared by Xavi. …”
The Athletic
Guardian: Xavi is the epitome of Barcelona brilliance but times have changed


ESPN FC 100: Messi, Lewandowski, Oblak among No. 1s; Premier League has most representatives

December 4, 2021


“For the sixth consecutive year, ESPN presents its annual ranking of the best men’s players and coaches in world soccer! Welcome to FC 100. As always, rankings are broken down into Top 10 lists for positions, plus a countdown of managers, in order to present the most meaningful look at talent on the pitch and the sideline. Whereas last year was dominated by Liverpool and Bayern Munich — the clubs combined for eight of the 10 No. 1 spots — the leaders in this year’s edition are spread across six teams, with none having more than two men on top of their respective category. …”
ESPN (Video)
Go to: Goalkeeper | Right-back | Centre-back | Left-back | Central midfield | Attacking midfield | Winger | Forward | Striker | Manager


Analyzing Xavi’s First Game as Barcelona Manager

November 25, 2021


“Xavi finally made his debut as a coach in the Barcelona dugout. Since the departure of Lionel Messi at the beginning of the season, it has been evident that this season is going to be very difficult for Barcelona. As Antoine Griezmann was released on the transfer window deadline day, Barcelona’s star-studded forward line suddenly began to cross the line into agony. It appeared that Ronald’s Koeman’s dismissal was only a matter of time. Xavi finally made his debut in the Barcelona dugout after a short spell of 3 matches by Sergi Barjuan. However, the path in front of Xavi is not smooth at all. Barcelona has been out of the top four in the league table for a long time, and the threat of being eliminated from the Champions League group stage is quite real. In this team, Xavi does not have a specific target man except Luke de Jong, but his performance should not persuade Xavi to include him in the lineup. …”
Breaking The Lines


History of FC Barcelona

November 9, 2021


Barcelona’s Copa del Rey-winning squad of 1928.
“The history of Futbol Club Barcelona begins from the football club‘s founding in 1899 up until the present day. FC Barcelona, also known simply as Barcelona and familiarly as Barça, is based in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. The team was founded in 1899 by a group of Swiss, English, German and Spanish footballers led by Joan Gamper. The club played amateur football until 1910 in various regional competitions. In 1910, the club participated in their first of many European competitions, and has since amassed fourteen UEFA trophies and a sextuple. In 1928, Barcelona co-founded La Liga, the top-tier in Spanish football, along with a string of other clubs. As of 2020, Barcelona has never been relegated from La Liga, a record they share with Athletic Bilbao and arch-rival Real Madrid. The history of Barcelona has often been political. Though it was a club created and run by foreigners, Barcelona gradually became a club associated with Catalan values. In Spain’s transition to autocracy in 1925, Catalonia became increasingly hostile towards the central government in Madrid. The hostility enhanced Barcelona’s image as a focal point for Catalonism, and when Francisco Franco banned the use of the Catalan language, the stadium of Barcelona became one of the few places the people could express their dissatisfaction. The Spanish transition to democracy in 1978 has not dampened the club’s image of Catalan pride. In the 2000s – a period of sporting success in the club and an increased focus on Catalan players – club officials have openly called for Catalonia to become an independent state. …”
W – History of FC Barcelona
W – Joan Gamper
How society and politics gave us Catenaccio and Total Football
A Brief History Of FC Barcelona
Paulino Alcántara: Barcelona’s Filipino icon who blazed a trail for Messi
The importance of Catalonia – past and present – to Spanish football
In the pantheon of modern-day greats, where do Sergio Busquets’ unique talents rank?
YouTube: Barcelona, Johan Cruyff & Catalan Independence, La Masia: The History of Barcelona’s Academy

Barcelona face PSV in the 1977–78 UEFA Cup semi-finals. They also finished the season as Copa del Rey winners.


How Barcelona lost their soul

October 31, 2021


“‘This won’t last forever,’ Pep Guardiola said during his final season as coach of Barcelona’s first team in 2012. ‘Sooner or later, we will stop winning. Then is when we will have to see if we have faith in the way we are and the way we play.’ Barcelona had grown used to winning at that point — during Guardiola’s four years as coach they lifted 14 of the 18 trophies available, including two Champions Leagues and three La Liga titles. Everyone around the club was also proud of achieving such success with a team based around homegrown youth products, while playing an attractive style of football they believed was rooted firmly in their club’s unique ‘Barca DNA’.  Almost a decade later, it is fair to say that Barcelona have stopped winning. …”
The Athletic (Video)


Barcelona, Drifting, Fires Ronald Koeman as Coach

October 28, 2021


“Ronald Koeman knew even before he arrived in Barcelona that his journey as the club’s manager had ended. His team had just lost for the second time in four days, beaten by Real Madrid on Sunday and then by modest Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday. It was marooned in ninth place in La Liga. There could be, the club decided, no way back. The decision to fire Koeman was made while he and his players were still in transit. Barcelona’s president, Joan Laporta, had spent the flight back from Madrid consulting with several executives, according to Sport, the Catalan newspaper, and then informed Koeman that he had decided to end his 14-month tenure. A statement from Barcelona made the decision official a little after midnight. …”
NY Times


Life After Leo

October 24, 2021


“Even by the most charitable estimate, Camp Nou is barely more than a third full by the time the teams stroll on to the field. The Champions League anthem blares, drowning out the thin applause that had greeted the players. Fans pockmark row upon row of sun-bleached seats, stretching into the sky, lost in the vast stadium. On the far side, Barcelona’s motto, its statement of self — més que un club — is spelled out in the seats. As the players fan out, taking their positions, the lettering is still readable. To the left, in the arena’s second tier, where there was once a club sponsor’s logo, a yellow patch has spread. …”
NY Times


False 9 / El Clásico

October 13, 2021


“… The false 9, in some ways similar to a more advanced attacking midfielder/playmaker role, is an unconventional lone striker or centre-forward, who drops deep into midfield. The purpose of this is that it creates a problem for opposing centre-backs who can either follow the false 9, leaving space behind them for onrushing midfielders, forwards or wingers to exploit, or leaving the false 9 to have time and space to dribble or pick out a pass. The term comes from the traditional number for centre-forwards (nine), and the fact that normally a centre-forward traditionally stayed near the line of defenders until they got an opportunity to move past them toward goal. Key attributes for a false 9 are similar to those of a deep-lying striker: dribbling ability to take advantage of space between the lines, good short passing ability to link up with the midfield and vision to play through teammates making runs from deep to goal. The first false 9 in a World Cup was Juan Peregrino Anselmo in the Uruguay national team, although he could not play the match against Argentina in the 1930 World Cup due to injury. Matthias Sindelar was the false 9 of the Wunderteam, the Austria national team, in 1934. … By the end of 2012, the False 9 had gone “mainstream” with many clubs employing a version of the system. Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has been an exponent of the false 9 position to much success in recent years, first under coach Pep Guardiola and later under his successor Tito Vilanova. …”
W – False 9
The Evolution of the False 9 Role
YouTube: What is a False Nine?, Why Is Every Team Using the False 9? | False 9 Tactics Explained
W – El Clásico
How Barcelona lost their soul
Barcelona’s eight greatest Clasicos


Tiki-taka

October 10, 2021


Tiki-taka or Tiqui-taca ([ˈtikiˈtaka]) is a Spanish style of play in football characterised by short passing and movement, working the ball through various channels, and maintaining possession. The style is primarily associated with Spain national team since 2006 by the managers Luis Aragonés and Vicente del Bosque. Tiki-taka methods were eventually embraced by the La Liga club Barcelona from 2009, especially during the era of manager Pep Guardiola; however, Guardiola distanced himself and the club from the style: ‘I loathe all that passing for the sake of it’, stating, ‘Barça didn’t do tiki-taka!’, adding, ‘You have to pass the ball with a clear intention, with the aim of making it into the opposition’s goal’. Its development and influence goes back to Johan Cruyff‘s tenure as manager in the early 1990s all the way to the present. The first goal using this game system is considered to be the one scored in the qualifying match for UEFA Euro 2008, played in Aarhus (Denmark) at October 13, 2007, by Sergio Ramos. …”
Wikipedia
SI: Positioning, possession, pressure define Barcelona’s famous philosophy (Video) (Feb 23, 2015)
W – Vicente del Bosque, W – Luis Aragonés
4-3-3 vs. 4-1-4-1: Tactical Flexibility (April 2019)
YouTube: What is Tiki-Taka?, Barcelona Tiki Taka That Shocked The World


Barcelona’s Suffering Shows No Signs of Abating

October 5, 2021


“It’s been a while since the Wanda Metropolitano was near full capacity. More than 60,000 fans, the largest crowd since before the pandemic began, watched Atlético Madrid welcome Barcelona on Saturday night, though welcome might be the wrong word, as the hosts were anything but hospitable to a Barcelona side arriving in the Spanish capital like a wounded animal following their humbling loss to Benfica on Wedneesday. The home fans could smell blood: The atmosphere in the Wanda was as feverish as it’s ever been, and the occasion marked a reunion between Atlético forward Luis Suárez and his former team. …”
The Ringer


Xavi, Pirlo Or Conte? Who’s The Right Manager For Barcelona As Koeman Nears Exit?

October 1, 2021


“It was predictable. After the summer shambles and behind the scenes chaos that unfolded at the Camp Nou, Ronald Koeman’s position has constantly seemed under threat and now after a Champions League hammering at the hands of Benfica, it appears he will leave the club. His brief spell at Barca saw them win the Copa del Rey last year and finish third in La Liga, but without Lionel Messi and co, they have found life more difficult. Their Champions League campaign has consisted of two 3-0 defeats and although they are still unbeaten in the league, three draws against the likes of Cadiz and Granada have left fans frustrated. So with Koeman’s departure all but sealed, which candidates can lead the club through this rebuild? …”
The Sportsman


Chelsea’s loss at Juve illustrates the challenges Tuchel faces in fighting for titles domestically and abroad

September 30, 2021


Leonardo Bonucci in action for Juventus against Sampdoria.
“Thomas Tuchel probably didn’t need a reminder of the difficulty in competing on two fronts this season, but Manchester City and now Juventus have given him just that in the space of five days. The chaotic circumstances surrounding his arrival at Stamford Bridge in January — replacing fan favourite Frank Lampard and thrust straight into a condensed schedule made more unrelenting by COVID-19’s impact — created a degree of breathing space in the Premier League that helped propel them to Champions League glory. Tuchel was of course under a degree of pressure to secure a top-four spot last term, but he harnessed that rarest of things under owner Roman Abramovich — a sense of freedom arising from lowered expectations — to galvanise this group to an improbable European success. The dynamic is different this time. …”
ESPN
Guardian: Tuchel and Chelsea are failing to capitalise on Lukaku’s specific threat
YouTube: Juventus vs. Chelsea: Extended Highlights, Bayern München vs. Dynamo Kyiv: Extended Highlights, Zenit vs. Malmö: Extended Highlights, Atalanta vs. Young Boys: Extended Highlights, Benfica vs. Barcelona: Extended Highlights, Wolfsburg vs. Sevilla: Extended Highlights


Analysed: Are Barcelona the new Stoke or are Stoke the new Barcelona?

September 25, 2021


“It’s fair to say that the atmosphere at Barcelona is not exactly rosy at the moment. The off-field chaos is impossible to ignore, with debts of over €1.2 billion meaning one of the world game’s most famous clubs faces the very real prospect of bankruptcy. Of course, such huge financial difficulties have spilt onto the pitch, with Barcelona forced to offload some of their most prized assets — including Lionel Messi, the best player in their history (which is saying something when Diego Maradona and Johan Cruyff have also worn their colours). This was always going to lead to a drop-off in quality in Barcelona’s performances on the pitch, but the fans still expect more than they’re getting. …”
The Athletic (Video)
Barcelona’s 54 crosses in one dreadful game – how Koeman’s side are ‘playing like Stoke City’


Marcos Alonso and the Genius of Thomas Tuchel

September 25, 2021


“Things got so bad, at one point, that even Marcos Alonso’s father was telling him to go. His fallout with his coach at Chelsea, Frank Lampard, had been spectacular and it had been total. Alonso had been substituted at halftime during a game at West Bromwich Albion, but instead of dutifully filing out to support his teammates, he had instead skulked off to wait on the team bus, stewing at the injustice of it all. When Lampard found out, he was furious. First, he rebuked Alonso for his disloyalty, his petulance, in front of his teammates, a public shaming that often functions as soccer’s nuclear option, and then he ostracized him entirely from his team. For four months, Alonso did not play so much as a minute of soccer. …”
NY Times
W – Marcos Alonso


2021–22 UEFA Champions League

September 22, 2021


“The 2021–22 UEFA Champions League is the 67th season of Europe’s premier club football tournament organised by UEFA, and the 30th season since it was renamed from the European Champion Clubs’ Cup to the UEFA Champions League. The final will be played at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It was originally scheduled to be played at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany. However, due to the postponement and relocation of the 2020 final, the final hosts were shifted back a year, with Saint Petersburg instead hosting the 2022 final. The winners of the 2021–22 UEFA Champions League will automatically qualify for the 2022–23 UEFA Champions League group stage, and also earn the right to play against the winners of the 2021–22 UEFA Europa League in the 2022 UEFA Super Cup. …”
W – 2021–22 UEFA Champions League, W – 2021–22 UEFA Champions League group stage
Guardian – Champions League 2021-22 draw: group stage analysis and predictions


Vinícius kickstarts Bernabéu party and comes of age as Real Madrid hero

September 20, 2021


Vinícius Júnior
“In the end, the police had to pull him out of there. There was a party back at his place and Vinícius Júnior was enjoying this more than the last time he was there and probably more than he should have been, but he didn’t care and you couldn’t really blame him: this had been a long time coming and when at last it did, boy was it good. Boy was he. After 560 days, football finally returned to the Santiago Bernabéu and, having conceded inside 200 seconds, twice trailed and been reacquainted with whistles, the Brazilian put Real Madrid into the lead and on course for a 5-2 win over Celta de Vigo that made a celebration of their homecoming. …”
Guardian
NY Times – At Barcelona, a Feeling Worse Than Sorrow: Pity


2021-22 UEFA Champions League Group Stage

September 11, 2021


The map is a standard location-map showing the locations of the 32 qualified teams in the 2021-22 UEFA Champions League Group Stage. There are several other aspects to the map page… 1). Groups A through H… At the very top of the map are the eight 4-team groups of the Group Stage, arranged with with each club’s home-country flag shown alongside. 2). Allocations vs. Qualified teams, by country… At the left side of the map page, Allocations (by member-nations) are shown, via a list of the top 41 UEFA Member-Associations in their current [2021-22] Country Co-efficient ranking. I stopped at 41 (out of the 55 total UEFA member-nations) because #41 is the current ranking of Moldova, and Sheriff Tiraspol of Moldova was the club from the lowest-ranked country to qualify for this season’s tournament. This is the first time a club from Moldova has qualified for the elite competition that is the Champions League. But it is not really any sort of fairy-tale story of a David making it into the realm of the Goliaths. …”
billsportsmaps


Johan Cruyff

September 9, 2021


Hendrik Johannes Cruijff OON (Dutch: [ˈjoːɦɑn ˈkrœyf] (About this soundlisten, internationally spelled Cruyff; 25 April 1947 – 24 March 2016) was a Dutch professional football player and coach. As a player, he won the Ballon d’Or three times, in 1971, 1973, and 1974. Cruyff was a proponent of the football philosophy known as Total Football explored by Rinus Michels, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, and one of the greatest managers. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Dutch football rose from a semi-professional and obscure level to become a powerhouse in the sport. Cruyff led the Netherlands to the final of the 1974 FIFA World Cup and received the Golden Ball as player of the tournament. … Cruyff is widely seen as an iconic and revolutionary figure in history of Ajax, Barça, and the Oranje. David Winner, the author of Brilliant Orange, wrote about Cruyff’s influential career in the football world, ‘There have been lots of brilliant football figures down the years, but none has been as significant as Johan Cruyff. … As coach at Ajax and Barcelona, he built thrilling sides, nurtured a remarkable number of genius players and influenced many of the most important teams in the world. .. Once radical and revolutionary, Cruyffian principles have become standard throughout the modern game. His blueprint for developing young players has been copied all over the world.’ …”
Wikipedia, W – Style of play and views on the game
Total Football Journeyman: From Mighty Magyars to Flying Dutchmen
Guardian: What formation did Holland’s Total Football side actually play?
Cruijff’s Total Football Guide (433-2)
W – History of AFC Ajax
W – Rinus Michels, W – Ruud Gullit, W – Frank Rijkaard, W – Marc Overmars, W – Dennis Bergkamp, W – Louis van Gaal
YouTube: Total Football Explained 5:09, Football’s Greatest International Teams .. Netherlands 1974 26:08, Netherlands – Argentina: Bergkamp Goal 1998, Johan Cruyff ● Flair Like No one Else (Rare Footage)


Fans don’t want legacy clubs dominating or state-funded clubs, so can football ever be happy?

September 4, 2021


“OK, so let me get this straight. We don’t want blue-blood clubs, like Liverpool and Manchester United, dominating for decades at a time and we are deeply suspicious of how enthusiastically these aristocrats embraced financial fair play (aka, Operation Drawbridge). When it comes to winners, we want to spread it around a bit — we like disruption. But we do not want these new challengers to be funded by oligarchs or sovereign wealth funds — unless it is our club, then it is completely fine — and we are not too keen on American investors coming over here and expecting to make some money. Is that right? If it is, many of you are going to be disappointed. But you will not be the only ones. …”
The Athletic


The Problem When Teams See Athletes as Assets

September 3, 2021


“One of the things that appealed most to Manchester City about Marlos Moreno was his flexibility. The club spotted him as a teenager, coming off the back of a breakthrough season in which he helped Atlético Nacional, his hometown club in his native Colombia, win not just a national title but the Copa Libertadores, too. Moreno, then 19, had the air of a rising star. He was the sort of prospect who stood out among the thousands of players around the world whose names and performance data flash in front of the eyes of the scouts and analysts at Europe’s biggest clubs. … Executives were sufficiently excited by the acquisition of a player they felt was one of the most promising in South America to mention his name to Sheikh Mansour, City’s owner. …”
NY Times
Who is Man City owner Sheikh Mansour and what’s his net worth?
W – Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan


Athletic Club 1 – 1 Barcelona

August 28, 2021


“Barcelona moved to the top of La Liga on goals scored as Memphis Depay rescued a point in an entertaining draw at Athletic Bilbao. Depay’s ferocious strike cancelled out Inigo Martinez’s headed opener after Athletic Bilbao had dominated. Both sides hit the crossbar and passed up numerous chances to claim all three points. Barca defender Eric Garcia was sent off in injury time for fouling Nico Williams when clean through. There is no doubt Ronald Koeman’s side are in transition – the loss of Lionel Messi leaving them in search of a new talisman and trying to find new ways to win. …”
BBC
10-man Barcelona forge their new side in the fires of San Mamés after 1-1 draw with Athletic Club
YouTube: Tactical Analysis : Athletic Club 1 – 1 Barcelona | Barca Tactics In The Post Messi Era, Highlights Athletic Club vs FC Barcelona (1-1)


Gerard Piqué shows his Barcelona colours as pay cut helps set up victory

August 16, 2021


“Gerard Piqué was 13 or 14 the day the Barcelona manager came to tea. When his grandfather proudly introduced him as the future Camp Nou centre-back, Louis van Gaal walked over and without a word pushed him to the floor. Standing over him, he looked down at this kid lying there and delivered a devastating verdict: you’re too weak to play for Barcelona. Twenty-one years, 567 games, eight leagues, eight cups and four European Cups later, a World Cup and a Euros too, he’s not just still standing; he’s carrying the club on his shoulders. Well, someone has to. …’
Guardian
Guardian: Barcelona lift post-Messi gloom with win over Real Sociedad
Five talking points from Barcelona 4-2 Real Sociedad (Audio)


2021–22 La Liga

August 11, 2021


“The 2021–22 La Liga will be the 91st season of La Liga, Spain’s premier football competition. It will begin on 13 August 2021 and will conclude on 22 May 2022. On 24 June 2021, the Spanish Council of Ministers resolved that spectators could return to stadium by means of a modification of the royal decree regulating the ‘new normality’, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Atlético Madrid are the defending champions, having won their 11th title in the previous season. RCD Espanyol, Real Mallorca and Rayo Vallecano are joining as the promoted clubs from the 2020–21 Segunda División. …”
Wikipedia
W – La Liga


Paying the Price for Premier League Riches

August 7, 2021


Andreas Pereira is known as the Preseason Pirlo. But he has nowhere to go.
“The headed clearance did not quite get the requisite power, or direction. It floated, rather than fizzed, out of Brentford’s penalty area, the danger not quite clear. Two Manchester United players converged on it, sensing opportunity. The ball bounced off the turf, not too high, not too quick, and hung in the air for just a second. And that is where Andreas Pereira met it.There is a reason some Manchester United fans have come to know Pereira — with equal parts affection and admonishment — as the Preseason Pirlo. …”
NY Times


How Barcelona’s wage bill has gone from highest in the world to on a par with AC Milan and Tottenham

July 24, 2021


“… That was Joan Laporta, Barcelona’s new president, who has essentially walked into a financial nightmare devised by Sir Alfred Hitchock. Speaking to La Vanguardia after his recent election victory, he painted a bleak picture. ‘We’ve encountered a squad with old-fashioned contracts and we will have to work out what to do,’ he added. ‘The existing contracts can be changed or restructured. After that, there are more drastic measures that we hope we don’t have to adopt.’ Barcelona are not alone in their struggles, as Real Madrid are finding things a little warm under the collar too. As The Athletic’s Dermot Corrigan has outlined in concise detail, Barcelona and Real Madrid find themselves in a bit of a mess when it comes to their salary cost limits for next season. …”
The Athletic (Video)


The Super League Thought It Had a Silent Partner: FIFA

May 22, 2021


“Tucked away in the pages and pages of financial and legal jargon that constitute the founding contract of the Super League, the failed project that last month briefly threatened the century-old structures and economics of European soccer, were references to one ‘essential’ requirement. The condition was deemed so important that organizers agreed that the breakaway plan could not succeed without satisfying it and yet was so secret that it was given a code name even in contracts shared among the founders. Those documents, copies of which were reviewed by The New York Times, refer to the need for the Super League founders to strike an agreement with an entity obliquely labeled W01 but easily identifiable as FIFA, soccer’s global governing body. …” NY Times


Money, Power, and Respect at the Champions League Final

May 10, 2021


“The grand spectacle is almost upon us. Real Madrid, the great but ancient empire of European soccer, have been swept aside for now; Paris Saint-Germain, the fast-rising upstart, have faltered in their ascent. As Chelsea and Manchester City, their respective conquerors, prepare to contest the third men’s UEFA Champions League final between two English teams, there is a sense that they are announcing another next great rivalry. … Now, Foden has been coached by Pep Guardiola for only a few seasons. Yet he is such an accurate embodiment of the Spaniard’s footballing philosophy—tactically versatile, endlessly fluid in his movement—that he seems to have been working with him since he was able to walk. … Both should be leading figures for their club for several seasons to come. …” The Ringer (Audio)


How Barca got themselves into €1.2bn debt: in-depth analysis

April 30, 2021


“Alex Stewart of Tifo Football explains how Barcelona‘s overall debt has risen to €1.2bn over the last few years and how they could get themselves out of this money pit. Barcelona are said to owe Liverpool more than 50 million euros, as per Diario Sport. These are the instalments that have to be paid as part of the Philippe Coutinho deal. Barca’s idea is to try to sell the Brazilian for that price so that the debt can be paid. Coutinho has made just 14 appearances for Barca this season, scoring 3 goals and recording 2 assists. Overall, the 28-year-old played just 90 games for Blaugrana. …” TRIBUNA (Video)