The Barcelona Inheritance: The Evolution of Winning Soccer Tactics from Cruyff to Guardiola – Jonathan Wilson

June 21, 2020

“From Cruyff’s ‘Total Football’ to the epic rivalry between Guardiola and Mourinho, a gripping chronicle of the rise and fall of Barcelona’s dominance in world soccer. Barcelona’s style of play–pressing and possessing–is the single biggest influence on modern soccer. In The Barcelona Inheritance, Jonathan Wilson reveals how and why this came to pass, offering a deep analysis of the evolution of soccer tactics and style. In the late 1990s, Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team was disintegrating and the revolutionary manager had departed, but his style gave birth to a new generation of thinkers, including Pep Guardiola and José Mourinho. Today, their teams are first and second in the Premier League, marking the latest installment in a rivalry that can be traced back twenty-five years. The Barcelona Inheritance is a book about the tactics, the personalities, the friendships, and, in one case, an apocalyptic falling-out that continue to shape the game today. …”
amazon


Football is all about speed: The growing importance of coaching

June 15, 2020

“I moved to Barcelona in January 2008, six months before Josep Guardiola took over as the head coach of FC Barcelona. It was the beginning of four years of tika-taka. Although I have always liked Real Madrid more than their rivals, I was somewhat seduced by the style of football played by the Catalans, especially Messi, Iniesta and Xavi; the latter in that period deserved to win one of Messi’s Ballon d’Or. After a year of watching tika-taka, I grew tired of the often pointless sideways passing of the ball. The worse part was that, at times, it seemed as if Barcelona were unable to change their tactics, as a growing number of opponents had learned how to play them. I started to wonder whether Guardiola’s rigid belief in ‘one-system-fits-all’ was not only ruining the extraordinary players’ freedom but also showing a lack of tactical skills. …”
Football Pink


Champions League: Neymar’s Hat Trick Powers P.S.G. in Rout

October 5, 2018


“Paris St.-Germain’s attack overwhelmed Red Star Belgrade, 6-1, in the Champions League on Wednesday, with Neymar scoring a hat trick that included two brilliant free kicks. P.S.G. Coach Thomas Tuchel went with his strongest lineup up front, with Neymar, the World Cup star Kylian Mbappé, Edinson Cavani and Angel Di María. They all scored in the first half except for Mbappé, who had to wait until the 70th minute for his goal, created with some more deft footwork by Neymar.” NY Times


Paul Pogba: which clubs could offer him escape from Manchester United?

September 30, 2018


“Paul Pogba, who was stripped of the Manchester United vice-captaincy on Tuesday, could potentially leave the club in January after his relationship with José Mourinho hit an all-time low. But with a salary of £250,000 a week and a fee likely to be in the region of £100m, which clubs have the financial might to sign the French World Cup winner?” Guardian


Atletico Madrid’s Slow Start

September 12, 2018

“Atletico Madrid are off to a curiously slow start. It’s the rare year where there might be some cracks at the top of La Liga. The departure of Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid means there’s a crack of daylight at the top of the table. But, three games in, the perennial favorites, Barcelona, and Ronaldo-less Madrid are perfect and Diego Simeone’s team has already dropped five points. Is there anything amiss with Atletico, or have their opening three games been the kind of fluke that the next 35 games will make everybody forget?” StatsBomb


Claudio Marchisio, Andres Iniesta and football fans’ false memories

September 4, 2018

“This month marked the end of an era for Juventus, with former midfield general Claudio Marchisio ending his 25-year association with the club. ‘A thousand thoughts and a thousand images accompanied me throughout the night,’ the 32-year-old wrote of his decision to part ways with the club he joined as a child. Marchisio’s exit might have been overshadowed to a degree by Gianluigi Buffon also leaving Turin this summer, the World Cup winner having opted to see out his career with Paris Saint-Germain, but there’s something a little different about the departure of a man who has known no other home in his professional career.” The Set Pieces


La Liga: Why Real Madrid and Barca changes could pave way for Atletico Madrid

August 18, 2018

“The new La Liga season gets under way this weekend amid plenty of intrigue, especially for Real Madrid – as the three-in-a-row European champions begin life without iconic duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane. Real are by no means the only team going through a period of change, however, with similar – although less dramatic – transitions being experienced by their biggest rivals, Atletico Madrid and domestic champions Barcelona.” BBC (Video)


Barcelona Season Preview: Messi the Great Facilitator

August 18, 2018

“By any realistic measure Barcelona had a dominant season last year. They won their domestic league by 14 points, while losing only a single game. They also won their domestic cup. But Barcelona are a club destined to fail to live up to expectations that only they can set. And what came to define their season, more than the raging success of their domestic campaign, was a stunning Champions League quarterfinal defeat to Roma. And so it is that the team which ran up 93 points in La Liga set about correcting for a failed season.” StatsBomb


It’s the Sids 2018! The complete review of the 2017-18 La Liga season

June 2, 2018

“All that and in the end it came down to this … nothing. There were tears and plenty of emotion, Fernando Torres serenaded off and Andrés Iniesta sitting alone on the Camp Nou turf long into the night, lights out for the last time, but for the first time in history there was no dramatic ending and nothing to play for on the final day of the Spanish season. Not the title, not Europe, not relegation, not the Pichichi, not the Zamora either – and not even a first-ever unbeaten league campaign. Barcelona had lost that record seven days earlier, finally defeated 37 games in, without Leo Messi. Still, they did win a friendly in South Africa three days later, so that’s okay. They also won the league of course, which they were always going to. Only, they weren’t – not really. …” Guardian


Anticipating Anthem Protests, Spain Braces for ‘Verbal Violence’

April 25, 2018

“BARCELONA, Spain — A long hail of whistles and jeers from a crowd numbering in the tens of thousands might not be the most articulate way to express a political opinion, Arnau Pans acknowledged with a shrug. But, in his eyes, it can serve a purpose. Pans, 24, is a die-hard fan of the soccer club F.C. Barcelona and, like many such fans, an active supporter of the Catalan independence movement. On Saturday, for the fifth consecutive year, Barcelona — the most high-profile of Catalan institutions — will appear in the final of the Copa del Rey, the oldest soccer tournament in Spain. And for the fifth straight year, that means questions about free expression and the boundaries of political etiquette are being debated as vehemently this week as questions about team tactics and lineups. …” NY Times (Video)


Roma send Barcelona out of Champions League: ‘Debacle’, ‘ridicule’, ‘fall of an empire’

April 13, 2018

“There is certainly a consensus among the Spanish media: Barcelona got what they deserved in Rome on Tuesday night, suffering elimination from the Champions League at the quarter-final stage for the third consecutive season after an abject performance. Having a 4-1 first-leg lead overturned by a Roma team 21 points off the pace in Serie A was the last thing Barca expected, and it will take a while for reality to sink in as the Catalan giants come to terms with one of the most shocking results in the club’s recent history. …” BBC


Barcelona’s Piqué and Suárez rub it in after Roma’s own-goal gifts

April 5, 2018

“Roma scored three at the Camp Nou but their chances of reaching a first Champions League semi-final since 1984 are slim. This time it was not Lionel Messi who scored and while Luis Suárez ended his year-long wait for a Champions League goal, it was two own goals that set Barcelona on course for a first-leg victory. …” Guardian


Champions League quarter-finals: tie-by-tie analysis

March 18, 2018


“We run the rule over the last-eight matches, including the all-Premier League duel between Liverpool and Manchester City, and predict who will triumph …” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Grounds for closer inspection, part 1: Sevilla and Real Betis

February 27, 2018


“In the first of a new series, JAMES EVANS examines the evolution of pairs of stadiums across the world; starting with the Spanish city of Seville and its two clubs – Sevilla and Real Betis. …” Football Pink, Grounds for closer inspection, part 2: Portsmouth and Plymouth Argyle, Grounds for closer inspection, part 3: Barcelona and Real Madrid


The Inverted Sheepdog

February 27, 2018

“I’m standing just outside the Barcelona dressing-room door at Wembley, about an hour after Manchester United have been defeated 3-1 in the 2011 Champions League final. The dancing, singing and beer-drinking in the Catalan dressing-room have only just died down. I’ve been charged with interviewing two of the winning players, with the trophy, for the final Champions League Weekly television programme of the season and there is a desperate need for a player to emerge from the fiesta. Getting them agree to the damn request is another thing again. …” The Blizzard (2012)


Disjointed, vulnerable and slow: Barça exposed by Chelsea’s tactical rigour

February 22, 2018

“The first leg, you suspect, went just as Antonio Conte would have wanted it to go – apart from the bit about not playing a square ball across your penalty area to Andrés Iniesta with 15 minutes of a Champions League match remaining. But that is the problem with great tactical plans: they always rely, ultimately, on that most fallible of species: humans. …” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


The ‘Two Worlds’ of the Champions League Keep Drifting Apart

February 22, 2018


Sadio Mané and Liverpool put five goals past F.C. Porto last week.
“As he readied his players to face Manchester City in the last 16 of the Champions League last week, F.C. Basel Coach Raphaël Wicky realized he had a problem. Ordinarily, Wicky would dedicate one training session shortly before a game to a shadow match: On one side, his likely starting team, and on the other, 11 squad members slotted in to simulate Basel’s forthcoming opponent. They would line up in the same system, adopt the same style, play in the same patterns. The aim of the exercise is to familiarize the first team with the challenge that lies in wait. …” NY Times


‘We weren’t even allowed swap jerseys!’ – when Shelbourne battled Barcelona at the Nou Camp

February 4, 2018

“A COFFIN STOOD stiff and isolated in the bowels of the Nou Camp as 11 Irishmen shuffled past in quiet disbelief. On their way through the famous corridors on a mild October evening en route to the away dressing room, the cohort of Shelbourne players passed by a museum, a dentist, a morgue and, puzzlingly, the most idyllic of chapels inside of which sat a wooden box. They were 1,300 miles away from Tolka Park, situated snug in-between endless rows of brick houses on Richmond Road in Drumcondra, but it felt so much more. This was a different planet altogether. …” the42


No Ne-exit For Neymar

January 30, 2018

“1) Neymar pledges PSG future. Time for a bit of a giant media reverse with beep-beeping and hazard lights in full effect. Neymar is going nowhere next summer except to Russia for the World Cup and no doubt a lengthy vacation in Brazil. His club boss says it, his manager says it, the footballer’s ‘people’ say it and heck, the football says it too. The player is ‘2000% percent’ going to be playing with PSG next season, whether the French club wins the Champions League or not. ‘I’m happy with my team-mates and I’m happy at PSG,’ was Neymar’s message after Saturday’s 4-0 win over Montpellier. So back off, Real Madrid and pack away any sneaky ideas in a bag marked, ‘not in a million years’.  …” Bein-Sports (Video)


An Englishman Abroad

January 26, 2018

“Thirty years ago this summer, Gary Lineker came to the end of a highly successful first season with Barcelona. Signed from Everton after his exploits with England at the 1986 World Cup, where he won the Golden Boot, he was an instant hit at Camp Nou, scoring a match-winning hat-trick against Real Madrid in the Clásico and finishing his first season with 21 goals. …” The Blizzard


La Liga At the Break: Valencia, Girona and Atlético

January 4, 2018

“In just a scant few days the La Liga teams will return from their truncated winter rest. Before we dive head first into the home straight of the season, let’s take a look back at what the first chunk of games has taught us, shall we? This isn’t technically the halfway-point as Spain’s domestic break comes after 17 games rather than 19. Don’t worry though, we’re not about to let that get in the way of a good ol’ rummage through the numbers! …” StatBomb


Barcelona halfway report: Midfielders

January 3, 2018

“… Go back to the summer of 2017 and many wondered if Andrés Iniesta was even first choice anymore. At 33 years of age, it could have been argued that the Spaniard had given all he had but the reality was that a change of system was needed to get the best out of the club captain. Ernesto Valverde deployed him in a position that does not require a large amount of running whilst still allowing him to see plenty of the ball. His importance to the team is once again obvious and while he will continue to pick up injuries, he has missed 40 days through injury this season, the reduced amount of KM covered should lessen his time out and allow him to be ready for the final stages of the season. …” Barca Blaugranes


The Barca Way Spreads Far From Catalonia

December 29, 2017


“Everywhere you look, the fingerprints are visible. They are there in those places where the lights shine brightest, and they are there where the lights don’t shine at all. At the summit of the Premier League; among the rich and famous of the Champions League; at suburban schools in the United States; at provincial, second-tier clubs in China; at village teams in Africa: In every corner of the world and at every level of soccer, there are indelible traces of Barcelona. Wherever they are found, they are present for the same reason. Across the planet, the word Barcelona — the idea of Barcelona — has over the last decade come to connote not just success but beauty, too. That has inspired countless clubs, large and small, to try to distill and import the magic, to find someone to sprinkle a little of that stardust on them. …”
NY Times


The Three Epic, Early Champions League Showdowns

December 14, 2017


“The draw for the Champions League round of 16 is set, and even though the first games will not be played for two months, we already know that at least one true European power will be eliminated before the quarterfinals kick off, and a couple more elite clubs could be in trouble. This is because the Champions League draw pitted some of the best teams in the world against each other in early clashes. According to Soccer Power Index, six of the nine best teams to make the knockouts have been drawn against each other. These three matchups — each of which consists of two games, one at each club’s home grounds — should give the Round of 16 a new level of drama. … ” fivethirtyeight, NY Times: Real-P.S.G. and Barcelona-Chelsea in the Champions League, YouTube: The Three Epic, Early Champions League Showdowns


Tactical Analysis: Barcelona 2-1 Sevilla | Barca’s diamond-esque shape hands them victory

November 21, 2017

“Despite being written off by many this season after the loss of Neymar and rivals Real Madrid’s dominance last season, Ernesto Valverde’s Barcelona side came into this game at home to Champions League chasing Sevilla in inspired form. 9 wins from their opening 10 games and Lionel Messi in the form of his life had shut up many critics as they cruised towards their 3rd league title in 4 years with a 4 point lead over 2nd place Valencia and 8 points over bookies’ title favourites Real Madrid in 3rd. …” Outside of the Boot


Girona offer Catalans pride after La Liga downing of powerhouse Madrid

October 31, 2017


Girona offer Catalans pride after La Liga downing of powerhouse Madrid
“Pablo Machín stood by the table football in the middle of the Montilivi dressing room where two teams lined up rigidly in 3-3-4, one in blue, the other in white, and told his players – the real ones in red – they should be proud. He didn’t speak for long, just a few seconds standing there among the socks, bandages and bottles on the floor, and when he finished there was applause from everyone and for everyone. There was no cava, Girona’s coach said, but there was a celebration and, he admitted, euphoria. …” Guardian


Ronald Koeman’s Everton story exposes shortcomings of the post-Cruyffians

October 27, 2017

“Long before he was sacked, a criticism of Ronald Koeman at Everton was that he seemed to regard the club as a stepping stone. ‘He called us Everton, he never called us us,’ as the former Everton captain Kevin Ratcliffe put it on Monday. Koeman’s ultimate ambition, as he has made clear since he took his first steps in management with Vitesse in 2000, is to manage Barcelona. …” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


It’s time to stop blaming the game – and the fans – for society’s ills

October 27, 2017

“Football can suffer from high visibility. Some ­people see far too much of it for their liking. Others cannot resist the profile it offers. ­Newspapers are always looking for ways to move it from the back pages to the front. Take the case of Douglas Ross, now Tory MP for Moray and an assistant referee (or linesman) at high levels of the sport. National outrage has supposedly been sparked by his engagement at the Nou Camp in Barcelona last week when he could have been abstaining in person at the House of Commons. …” The Scotsman


Argentina Savior Messi Enforces His Brilliance When His Nation Needs Him Most

October 12, 2017

“Twenty years ago, Lionel Messi, then a 10-year-old playing for a youth team at Newell’s Old Boys, headed into rural Santa Fe for a game against Pujato. These were always difficult, physical matches, and Messi took a kicking. … Messi has been getting the face on a lot recently. With Neymar gone, Ousmane Dembele injured and general chaos at the Camp Nou, it feels as though Barcelona’s perfect start to the season has been the result of him, fired by the ‘bronca’ that used to motivate Diego Maradona, dragging Barcelona forward almost single-handed. …” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Barcelona in the strange and symbolic eye of a storm over Catalonia

October 3, 2017


Football fans await outside the stadium before the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs UD Las Palmas at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on October 1, 2017.
“At every Camp Nou game for almost six years now, chants for Catalan independence have gone up when the clock reaches 17 minutes and 14 seconds, commemorating the year the city fell to Felipe V, but not this time – not on the day they were perhaps closer to independence than ever before. This time, Europe’s largest stadium was silent. No fans could be heard, only footballers. Occasionally, the referee’s whistle rang out or somebody clapped yet there were no chants, no songs and no one to sing them. At the side of the pitch where Barcelona played Las Palmas, stewards in orange bibs lined up to keep an eye on stands that had no one in them. Ninety-eight thousand seats sat empty; barely a couple of hundred people were there, and many of those wished they weren’t. …” Guardian


Tactical Analysis: Villarreal 1-1 Barcelona | Los Cules held yet again by another masterful defensive display

January 19, 2017

“Two of La Liga’s top sides clashed in this encounter as the Yellow Submarine looked to continue their promising start to the season and cement their place in next season’s Champions League. In contrast, Barcelona came into this game in what could only be described as disappointing form in comparison to their usually high standards. 6 points off leaders Real Madrid who had a game in hand, a win was essential if they wanted to maintain any chance of winning their third straight league title.” Outside of the Boot


The Evolution of the Number 6: Beauty and the Beast

December 12, 2016

xavi-2016
“Football goes in cycles, the past is the key to the future and old systems and styles may become popular in the future. A good example of this is the 3-5-2 formation originally used in 1986 by the world cup winning Argentine team. The formation went out of vogue but has been resurrected by Antonio Conte in Juventus and in the Italian national team and is actually becoming popular as even Bayern and most recently Everton have used the formation.” Outside of the Boot


Sergio Ramos bares striker’s soul to leave Barcelona on ropes in title race

December 5, 2016

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“It was time, Ramos time. In fact, if anything, he was a little early. The clock had reached 89 minutes in the first clásico of the season and Barcelona were winning 1-0, Madrid’s lead at the top reduced to three points, game on again, and Luka Modric was standing by the ball out on the left where Arda Turan had gifted them one last chance, the kind of moment this man is made for. Thirty yards away, Sergio Ramos nodded “over here” at him, eyebrows, eyes and head gesturing surreptitiously. At least he hoped it was surreptitious. As he took up his position – offside for now, ready to step back on – Gerard Piqué watched him and tracked him, or tried to; in Piqué’s way was Lucas Vázquez, pushing, diverting, annoying.” Guardian


Tactical Analysis: Real Sociedad 1-1 Barcelona | Catalan frustration continues

December 1, 2016

“Barcelona went into the encounter against Real Sociedad at the Anoeta, winless since 2007 against the Basque side at their home. Barcelona have endured a dip in form in recent weeks compared to their high standards while Sociedad have been finding themselves in the top 5 in the league table, performing really well.” Outside of the Boot


The death of possession football

November 18, 2016

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“Former Bayern Munich manager and current Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, speaking after Bavarian side’s 5-1 triumph over Arsenal last season, was famously said: What I want, my desire, is to have one hundred percent possession. Bayern Munich had enjoyed sixty nine percent of possession in that game as goals from Robert Lewandowki, Thomas Muller, David Alaba and Arjen Robben gave Arsenal nightmares that probably suggested the extent of damage that possession football can usually do.” backpagefootball


The Future of Luis Enrique

November 18, 2016

“As Barcelona manager, you can imagine it’s a lot like spinning plates except you have 100 plates going at once and 100 million people watching your every move. The job places you under a very intense magnifying glass and while the successes enjoyed make it worthwhile, the stress can eventually take you down.” Barca Blaugranes


Manchester City 3-1 Barcelona, 2016 Champions League: 3 Things We Learned

November 2, 2016

“Barcelona have lost for the first in the Champions League this season, and it was an ugly loss. Manchester City dominated the Catalans in the second half and pulled of a fantastic 3-1 comeback victory thanks to a Pep Guardiola masterpiece of tactical brilliance, intensity and high pressing.” Barcablaugranes


Ever-evolving Guardiola keeps adapting, from Barcelona to Bayern to Manchester City

October 20, 2016

pep-guardiola-evolution
“When Pep Guardiola left Barcelona in 2012, there was one huge question about him. He’d grown up at Barcelona. He’d been a ball-boy there. He’d come through the youth system. He’d played for and captained the team. He knew Barcelona and its culture better than almost anybody else. It was a club that had formed him, and he was then able to reform it. He’d wound down his playing career elsewhere but could he really thrive elsewhere?” SI – Jonathan Wilson


The Five Months in Mexico That Shaped Pep Guardiola’s Philosophy

October 20, 2016

“It was as they were whiling away one of those long, sultry evenings cooped up in the comfortable surroundings of the Hotel Lucerna in Culiacán, Mexico, that Pep Guardiola outlined to Ángel Morales his vision of the perfect goal. Over the course of their five months in northwest Mexico, Guardiola, who would become the greatest soccer coach of his generation, and Morales, a journeyman playmaker from Argentina, spent hours together, eating, relaxing, talking. A decade later, though, it is that one thought, that purest distillation of Guardiola’s philosophy, that has stayed with Morales.” NY Times


The Fractious History Of Guardiola and Mourinho

August 27, 2016

“Ferguson never got on with Rafa, Clough didn’t see eye to eye with Revie and Mark Hughes doesn’t like anybody. Football is a game of intense passions, managers have let their emotions get the better of them on numerous occasions and feuds are commonplace; but you would struggle to uncover a conflict as enduring as that between Jose Mourinho and Josep Guardiola. The games’ two most highly rated managers will meet for the 17th time on September the 10th as they take their new sides into a Premier league season, both expected to bring glory to their respective ends of greater Manchester. Mourinho is expected to rebuild the Red Devils’ reputation as one of the powerhouses of European football, something that has been up in the air since the retirement of Alex Ferguson.” Football Pink


Over/Under: European club, season predictions for 2016-17

August 20, 2016

“With the new top-flight seasons set to kick off in Italy and Spain this weekend–and Germany one week later–and the Premier League just underway, there are lots of predictions to be made and questions to be answered. Will the competitive imbalance in France, Germany and Italy continue to be a problem? Will we see a surprise winner in any league? Will there be an outsider who cracks the Champions League elite? And just who will Jose Mourinho fall out with next? With all of those questions–and more!–in mind, we take a look at the European club landscape in the over/under prism to provide as much clarity as possible entering a nine-month quest for trophies and championships…” SI


Low crowds and chaotic La Liga fixture list cannot deter from guarantee of drama

August 20, 2016

“Spain’s football stadiums will be full this season – and that’s an order. Well, they’ll look full, anyway. The Spanish league will fine clubs whose grounds aren’t at 75% capacity, double for those who don’t reach 50%. The part of their grounds that are visible on TV screens, that is. There will be someone there whose job it is to count and sanctions will apply to the stand and the corners opposite the master camera – the televisual U, it’s called. The bit that can be seen. As for the bit that can’t be seen, well, that bit can’t be seen.” Guardian


Goodbye Dani Alves: Barcelona’s search for a new right back

July 19, 2016

“After nearly a decade of quality and assurance in the right-back position, Barcelona are left with a qualm. With Dani Alves departing for Juventus on a free transfer, and Aleix Vidal showing serious doubts about his ability to be starting for a club of this size, it is most likely that a new signing will be necessary at the Nou Camp, to take over the right-back position. Candidates have been discussed widely with many names being thrown into the hat. Throughout this piece I will look at a number of options, perhaps some ‘different’ names not so widely spoken of.” Outside of the Boot


Pep, Mourinho, Simeone and more: Ranking world’s top 10 club managers

May 26, 2016

diego-simeone
“Just as the Champions League format has allowed an elite group of clubs to dominate in recent years, the coaching landscape, too, is overshadowed by the personalities of a revered few who are hired at a huge expense with the guarantee of trophies. The perfect example of that is in the Premier League, where all the attention is going to be on Manchester’s clubs City and United when next season kicks off, despite their recent fourth and fifth respective finishes in the league. City will have Pep Guardiola in charge, while United looks set to have Jose Mourinho. It’s a personal rivalry that dominated Spanish football when the pair locked horns during two controversy-laden years at Barcelona and Real Madrid, respectively.” SI (Video)


American Dream

May 26, 2016

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“The United States has always fascinated me. I grew up in Rosario, the Second City of Argentina, and have lived in Barcelona since the age of 13. But from what I have seen on brief visits, there is nothing like the U.S.: how Americans live, what they have. It’s a unique country. The stadiums are incredible, and I can’t imagine a better place to host a special Copa América, a 16-team mini–World Cup bringing together all the top national teams from South America and the U.S. and Mexico over 24 days in June. People tell me it will be the biggest men’s soccer event in the U.S. since the 1994 World Cup.” SI (Video)


Talent Radar: La Liga Young Players Team of the Season 2015-16

May 17, 2016

“For three years now, this website has continued to focus on the younger generation of footballers, often over-looked by mainstream media. For three years we’ve also published a Talent Radar Team of the Season across Europe’s top six leagues, having monitored these players in our Team of the Week and Player Rankings feature. You can read this for all details on Talent Radar, who is eligible under it and what else we publish within this feature.” Outside of the Boot


Hump Day Dumpster Dive: Crisis-hit Barcelona is crumbling to a domestic double

May 5, 2016

“By the time you read this, it may or may not be Wednesday. “Hump Day” is a cute concept, but some meaning is lost when you’re a functional alcoholic who treats Tuesday as the start of the weekend. But enough about your dad. Let’s dive into the dumpster together.” Fusion


Alexander Hleb’s Broken Dreams at FC Barcelona

April 24, 2016

“Alexander Hleb won the treble in his first season at Barcelona, but his move away from Arsenal wasn’t the platform he had hoped for. In the ensuing years, the Belarussian has spoken out about his regret of leaving North London. Still only 26 at the time Hleb was a central figure in manager Arsène Wenger’s team and alongside Samir Nasri and Cesc Fàbregas were forming a dynamic attacking trio.” Futbolgrad


Diego Simeone v Pep Guardiola: the defensive master faces the great creator

April 17, 2016

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“When Diego Simeone was appointed manager of Atlético Madrid in December 2011, he faced an awkward conversation with his son. Taking over in Madrid meant he would be spending less time with his family in Argentina. His son’s concerns, though, were rather different. ‘You’re taking on Messi and Ronaldo?’ the nine-year-old said and laughed at the implausibility of such an undertaking. Simeone has come out on top against Lionel Messi twice in his four and a half years in Madrid but he has chosen his moments well, twice leading Atlético to success over Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals. Tuesday’s victory was an archetypal snuffing out, a transcendent example of how to prevent an opponent’s stars from shining. Simeone took on the Messi problem and solved it.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Around Europe: Barcelona burnout; Ben Arfa makes his Euro case

April 12, 2016

ben-arfa-messi-vardy
“There were decisive moments in the title race in England and Germany, as respective leaders Leicester City and Bayern Munich came closer to the finishing line, though a shock result in Spain has opened the door to the pack chasing defending champion Barcelona. A new coach with a familiar name enjoyed a successful start at Lazio, while in France, a new hat trick hero has given national team boss Didier Deschamps a selection dilemma leading into Euro 2016. Here is what caught our eye this week from Around Europe.” SI (Video)


Tactical Analysis: Barcelona 2-1 Atlético | Red card = Atleti pseudo-compactness, Suarez and Messi capitalise

April 12, 2016

“In a repeat of the 2013-14 quarter final, Barcelona were pitted against Diego Simeone’s stubborn Atletico side who were riding high in La Liga, 6 points off their opponents on Tuesday night in 2nd place, having just swept aside Real Betis 5-1 at the weekend. Barcelona, on the other hand, came into this fixture on the back of their first defeat in 39 games to none other than their arch rivals Real Madrid at the Camp Nou. Facing the other team in Madrid just a few days later, who on their day have proven just as difficult to beat as Real, ideally wasn’t what they were looking for in terms of a confidence booster. However, considering the absence of key Atleti’s centre-backs Jose Gimenez and Stefan Savic and Barca’s quite phenomenal record against los Rojiblancos (6 consecutive wins), Barca would likely have come into this game, as they do in every other game, believing they could come away with the victory.” Outside of the Boot


Barcelona’s Evolution: The beauty of the build-up phase

April 8, 2016

Barca-Build-Up
“Nowadays, arguably the most important phase in football is the build-up. Whether a team uses long balls to reach the final third or plays swift ground passes to breach the opponent’s stronghold, the build up plays a pivotal role in determining the outcome of a football match regardless. Like a movie, there needs to be a build-up towards the climax or the final product. In football, it is a continuous and seamless process, interchanging between both building, finishing and defending phases at all times.” Outside of the Boot


El Clasico: Ronaldo, Real Madrid end Barcelona’s unbeaten run

April 4, 2016

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“On an emotional day at Camp Nou that served as a tribute to the great Johan Cruyff, Barcelona’s unbeaten run ended at 39 matches with a 2-1 loss against Real Madrid. Barça’s lead at the top of La Liga shrank to six points, and the gap ahead of Real also went down to seven as a result. Despite dominating possession, Barça couldn’t score in the first half. Madrid’s chippy defense frustrated the home team, as center back Sergio Ramos in particular showed no shyness in conceding fouls if it looked like he might be beaten one-on-one. The Barça players frequently looked toward referee Alejandro Hernández with their arms outstretched, begging for a whistle.” SI


Life’s a Pitch for Leo Messi

March 23, 2016

“Pitch concerns increase for Leo Messi as Suarez promises no return to naughty corner. Although Barcelona have a cushion at the top of La Liga that could comfortably house the most impressive of posteriors, the Catalan club will still be fretting and fussing outside football’s school gates as they drop their MSN at the rough-and-tough daycare that is the international break. Perhaps the biggest worry is over Leo Messi who has a fairly tough battle against Chile on Thursday night, followed by a clash in Cordoba against Bolivia on a pitch that looks a little like a post-apocalyptic cabbage patch.” Bein


The Story of Arsenal vs Barcelona: Will Arsenal ever beat Barca?

March 2, 2016

“The Story of Arsenal vs Barcelona: Will Arsenal ever beat Barca? Arsenal and Barcelona are frequently compared among football fans with their similar football styles; high possession rate, tiki-taka, total football, and etc. Both teams, almost every season, record highest ball possession rates in their corresponding leagues. Iniesta once said ‘I think Arsenal still play the best football in England. They play in a style in the way that most emulates what we do in Barcelona – and what is in our opinion the right way to approach the game … their football philosophy is the most attractive in England.’ As shown in this comment, one of the greatest products created by the Barcelona system obviously has respect for Arsenal’s football and also admits that Arsenal is somehow imitating Barcelona’s style.” Soccer Politics


Barcelona trio’s selflessness differentiates them from the rest

February 28, 2016

“The turning point of Barcelona’s 2-0 win over Arsenal came in the 70th minute of the match, Suarez to Neymar to Messi and inevitably to the back of the net. A swift move that not only put Barcelona well on their way to yet another quarter-final but showed just how good these front three are and why everybody is raving about them.” backpagefootball


Arsenal 0-2 Barcelona player ratings: Messi double puts visitors firmly in the driving seat

February 23, 2016

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“Arsenal’s Champions League campaign appears to have once again fallen at the second hurdle. It was always going to be tough against Luis Enrique’s Barcelona and to be fair to the Gunners they put up a fantastic effort against the Spanish giants. For large portions of the game Arsenal actually kept the Catalans very quiet and can be proud of their efforts, but a pacey counter-attack allowed Lionel Messi to open the scoring in the second half.” Squawka (Video)


UCL: Messi, Barcelona top Arsenal; Juventus comes back on Bayern

February 23, 2016

“There was late drama in both Champions League ties Tuesday. Lionel Messi continued to haunt Arsenal as Barcelona won 2-0 on a pair of Messi goals in London. Meanwhile, in Turin, Bayern Munich threw away a 2-0 lead and settled for a 2-2 draw against Juventus, though the German side will bring an away-goals edge with it to the return leg next month.” SI


How Arsenal must play in order to beat Barcelona in the Champions League

February 21, 2016

“Arsenal’s clash with Barcelona has been billed as another contest between two sides in a continual series, but it’s actually been half a decade since the sides previously met. It was so long ago that Cesc Fabregas was still with Arsenal — never mind him joining Barcelona, being turned down by Arsene Wenger when he wanted to return to England and then winning the Premier League with Chelsea.” ESPN – Michael Cox (Video)


UD Las Palmas 1-2 FC Barcelona: Match Review

February 21, 2016

“Often when Barcelona play teams, their respective position in the table means very little. Already this season we’ve seen teams who are rooted towards the bottom go out and play toe to toe with Barça and in the opening exchanges of this game, that was the case.” Barca Blaugranes