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

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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

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“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