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Ronaldinho is a free agent. Sign him and play him at CB!!!!

http://tinyurl.com/lyzkra9

In other transfer news, Lazio agree €8,5 million fee with Feyenoord for Stefan de Vrij who had a very good WC and is only 22 years old. Meanwhile, we spent 20 on a 31 year old LB who is more comfortable as a CB.
ESPNFC did a little bit on Madrid and Barça. They wanted to see what would happen if you would combine Madrid and Barça and get the best XI and they came up with this:

Lopez
Carvajal Varane Mathieu Alba
Masch Khedira
Bale Messi Ronaldo
Suarez

Personally, I agree with 10/11 of these at the moment. I am just not convinced by Mathieu yet because I didn't watch Valencia play too much last season, but I also found it hard to replace him with Ramos, Pique, or Pepe. Or maybe slot in Kroos for Khedira because Masch is good enough in CDM as a lone CDM.. but depends on the opposition I guess.

And to me, honourable mentions go out to Neymar (Bale/Suarez) and Iniesta (Bale) from Barça, and Modric (Khedira), Kroos (Khedira) from Madrid. Your XI?
I don't think that would work well at all. Needs a proper CM to link play.
That's why I thought Kroos should fit in that CDM'ish spot and play more of a CM ahead of Masch.. but that front 4 don't contribute to defence too much, if at all.
Needs more Iniesta.
+4
Badge

Where would you put him?
Are you being serious st1or? Khedira over Iniesta?
CM instead of Masch or Khedira.
I would put Modric in for Khedira and Bravo in for Lopez
Modric in for Khedira IMO and Navas as keeper assuming he is signed.
I guess an Iniesta+Masch/Khedira partnership could work in theory.

@hikmat

I like Modric as much as the next guy but if we were to choose a CM+CDM partnership instead of a CDM+CDM, I'd like to think Iniesta would be the easy choice over Modric.

Well St1or, it depends on perspective. If we solely assess players based off of last season, it would be criminal keeping Luka Modric off this 11.

These line-ups are fun and all, but so many factors have to be taken into consideration when forming them. It depends on what kind of structure you prefer, what kind of tactics you'll implement, and how you generally want your team to play.

Call me crazy, but I think the best way to devise a balanced and complete line-up would be one without Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Or of course, simply using the Real Madrid 11 of last season. That'd work too.
Here's mine. It was quickly thought up so I've probably overlooked a thing or 2.

...............Diego Lopez...............

Carvajal....Varane.....Ramos..Coentrao...

............Modric.....Alonso............
..................Kroos..................
...........................di Maria......
...Bale..................................

..................Benzema................

Looks pretty good, right guys?

Everyone on that line-up is made to work. Anyone who's one-dimensional in their skill-set is left out unless of course they offer compensation by way of attuning to defensive responsibilities (i.e. Gareth Bale).

They are all generally selfless, but pose a multifaceted threat all the same. There is creativity in midfield without forsaking steel and physicality. The midfield, with the exception of Xabi Alonso, is mobile, flexible, and can adapt during the run of play, especially when Angel di Maria drops deep.

Benzema is simply the most intelligent forward I've ever watched in these last few years, so having him brings fluidity and finesse up front to compliment the directness Bale and di Maria can offer. This way, you don't just have a forward who craves goals...and flesh...you have one who offers other dimensions to his game too.

But this squad needs a name. I think...Real Madrid?
When Real Madrid played Barcelona in the league, they made the mistake of trying to play a pressing game using a 4-3-3. Problem being was Barcelona would always outnumber Real Madrid in midfield, especially since Cristiano Ronaldo wouldn't drop deep as often. So that deterred Real Madrid's ability to maintain control. It only happened in patches.

Even so, Barcelona were hardly the better side, if at all. If memory serves me well, Barcelona were quite fortunate to get away with 6 points. Great for Barcelona, but I really do think Carlo Ancelotti played his cards wrong (and he could've still gotten a result too).

Fast forward a bit and you see improvements. Real Madrid changed their approach. Result? Narrow victory against Barcelona in the CDR final, but against a similar side, but one much stronger in Bayern Munich, a convincing 5-0 aggregate score-line.

Bayern Munich of Jupp Heynckes was almost a complete team. Perfect blend of technical quality and physical superiority. With such a balanced squad and a tactician in Jupp, they were the ideal team.

I think Real Madrid of last season is trying to emulate them. Hopefully this coming season too.
I am gonna go ahead and ignore that first post. And to be honest, with the right tactics, any squad has a good shot at beating the better side. i.e. Atletico, despite having a seemingly 'worse' squad than Madrid and Barca over all, won the league. So that argument is pretty pointless imo.

And another thing you have to realize is that by the time Bayern got to where they were, they took the time, season after season, to improve on their imperfections. That's something Barca have failed to do. We have needed a new CB for a few seasons now but our incompetent board has failed to bring in.
@Asasiyun

Agreed on the Modric bit, though I think Di Maria deserves an honourable mention as well. I only put him out of this because PSG will sign him for 100 billion or so.

What would a balanced XI without Messi and Ronaldo look like? I'm curious to know.. This is just the best over all XI, not the best XI against certain teams.

As for your last sentence, I could hardly agree. Madrid's best XI couldn't take a point from Barça in La Liga last season :p by that logic, Pinto should feature as GK :D

Atletico Madrid's title-winning run was an anomaly. They deserve every bit of credit for winning the league, but it was an anomaly regardless. They shouldn't be used as template so often since most of their game-winning matches weren't based off of tactical ingenuity so much as it was through perseverance and resilience.

And a load of 1-0 wins scored at the 86th+ minute.

But, unfortunately, that only gets you so far if you're up against a side who want it just as much as you, but with a more balanced squad. Their road-block was Real Madrid, if anything.

It isn't just about getting your tactics right. There are many great tacticians in this sport. Its about building a balanced squad that can adapt to any circumstance. I think that ensures long-term success.

Real Madrid were close to achieving it last season, and I'm worried things won't go as smoothly this season, but Carlo Ancelotti gives me reason to be optimistic.
Asasiyun: I'm not sure why you think atleticos wins weren't tactical ingenuity? I do agree that in sports, the extra bit of motivation is what helps you cross the finish line in first place but Simeone's team got their tactics right over the course of the season. And speaking of last min wins, the difference between Madrid's "successful" season vs a very disappointing one was a couple of last min face saving plays which by the way had little to do with tactics and more to do with, well, just sporting luck.

You can very well say that Madrid's has a balanced squad but in in spite of the lack of depth or equal talent atletico almost managed to pull off a win. I'm not sure where you saw a balanced side in Madrid. The team clicked in the middle of the season, slacked off a bit towards the end and scraped through the finish line. Compare that with bayern the previous year or barca or inter, who managed their trebles with absolute authority and several lengths to spare from their closest competitors. That isn't to say that Madrid didn't or doesn't have the talent to do it this year again. I think you are understating atleticos achievements and overstating Madrid's. A win is a win is a win. But not every win tells you the story.

We've about this earlier and I still believe Madrid will struggle in defense this year. Most people ignore defense when they analyze teams because it's not a glorious task to tackle and clear the ball. They say, "Offense wins you matches, defense wins you trophies." I do believe in that. You could win trophies through offense too but that becomes the anomaly. Almost every world cup winner has allowed 2-3 goals throughout the tournament. Germany allowed more this year and that is an anomaly statistically. Madrid's wins last year with the amount of goals they allowed is also a statistical anomaly. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to belittle Madrid's wins but there are times when teams like barca, united, bayern have won it all and then there are times when chelsea comes out as a winner. Don't assume atletico's league victory was a fluke. I don't expect them to win again this year, not because they aren't good enough but because barca and Madrid will be more prepared.
I think you slightly misunderstood. This is what I said:

"They shouldn't be used as template so often since most of their game-winning matches weren't based off of tactical ingenuity so much as it was through perseverance and resilience."

If you notice, I said "most" not all.

They were quite fortunate to take advantage of a completely uncharacteristic mistake by Iker Casillas to score the opener in the Champions League final, but afterwards it was predominantly their resilience that kept in the game as long as it did.

They were set-up in their usual defensive structure, but their tactics played but a small role, especially in the second half onward, as they were broken through multiple times.

Sergio Ramos' header, which was something that was seen many times leading up to that game, can't really be attributed to "luck" if it's been reproduced so often.

The difference between Real Madrid of last season and the CL winners of previous seasons is that Real Madrid had won the competition not only during their transitioning stage, but with the fact that they had suffered from many injuries/suspensions throughout the campaign. The balance wasn't achieved until midway through the season, and it only faltered near the end due to the injuries to key players. Coincidentally, they would occur during opportune moments too, hurting not only the first 11, but depth as well.

I think I'm not understating Atletico's achievements and overstating Real Madrid's. I can see why you'd make the former suggestion, but I'm a bit puzzled as to why you'd suggest the latter.

- Real Madrid conceded 10 goals last season
- Bayern Munich conceded 11 goals the season before
- Chelsea conceded 12 the season before
- Barcelona conceded 9 the season before

In what way is Real Madrid's win an anomaly? Seems consistent with past winners of the Champions League with respect to goals conceded.

And no, I'm not assuming Atletico's title run was a fluke. I'm saying it was an anomaly.

Anomaly: "something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected"

Atletico weren't necessarily lucky. They were persistent and made the most of what they had. If you had followed them all of last season, you would know that while their tactics were solid, this wasn't always the case. It was very evident during their struggles. They were breached many times.

Yet they persevered and went on to win the league title.
By the way, Bayern Munich had some difficulties the season prior to last. Didn't look nearly as commanding in the group stages, and only really destroyed Juventus and Barcelona in the knock-out rounds. Had a difficult final against a very good Borussia Dortmund side.

Barcelona found it difficult during their last Champions League win too. Struggled against Arsenal, weren't as good against Real Madrid, and only really destroyed Shaktar Donetsk while making Manchester United look very bad too. I've decided to leave out the controversy.

Fans sometimes forget that their CL runs weren't always with "absolute authority"...
I'm sorry but Madrid has been in the "transitioning stage" for 4 years now...just because you get a new coach and a couple of new players, it doesn't make it a transitioning stage. By that logic Barca has been in that stage ever since Pep left. But it's not true just like it's not true with Madrid. I think a lot of the fans use that as an excuse when their teams don't win trophies and it's not just the Madrid fans, it's every fan around the world including us.
St1or, whether you choose to accept my opinion or not, at least understand the point I'm trying to make.

First and foremost, nowhere in my response did I discredit previous Champions League winners. That wasn't the point. Franky4finger's response seemed to imply that Real Madrid's Champions League triumph (and on a different note, Chelsea's) was different compared to the triumphs of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, and Inter. The difference being absolute authority. Or at least, this is what it sounded like.

So my point was not meant to prove Real Madrid didn't face any hardships or struggles. My point was to demonstrate that the aforementioned CL winners, just like Real Madrid, went through similar struggles. Its actually quite common.
Asasiyun: When I spoke of goals allowed stat, I was talking about Real Madrid's overall season (league included) because to me that is what shows what a "balanced" side is all about over a period of a year. Madrid had a strong showing even in the league but in spite of depth and overall superior talent they faded away towards the end while Atletico got stronger.

As far as goals allowed is concerned, Madrid allowed 38 goals in La Liga while Atletico allowed 26. Even Barca with its makeshift defense allowed 33. Compare that stat with previous UCL winners like Bayern (18) and Barca '11 (21). The previous Barca UCL winner from 2009 allowed 24 goals in La Liga. I misspoke about Inter because they allowed 34 in Serie A in their treble winning season although you can't compare that Inter side with Real Madrid considering the talent gap is enormous.

What you're calling "persistent" is what I consider tactically organized. They have limited tools to work with compared to Barca or Madrid who boast the top of the top players in the world. Atletico also had a tougher path to the UCL final compared to Madrid who I think had a stroke of luck with the sides it faced on the way to the final. Even then, Atletico allowed 7 goals and were 2 mins away from completing a UCL win with 7 GA if they had managed to keep Madrid out.

Also, about Ramos and your luck comment - You said Ramos' equalizing goal wasn't luck. Well, up until last season, Ramos had scored 4 goals in 8 seasons with Madrid in the UCL. Then he scored 3 in 2 games. A goal off a corner in injury time isn't "planned". It happens in sport but please don't tell me you were relaxed and confident that Madrid was going to score even though the clock showed 90+1 min.

As for absolute authority runs - I think Madrid had a better run in than most of the previous UCL champions but like I said earlier, I was talking about their overall season because to me you can measure a balanced team by their performance all year since cup competitions tend to produce wayward results with skewed numbers in addition to having teams face completely different opponents.

Do I think Madrid can win a treble this year? Quite possible though historical trend says otherwise. However, I still don't think Madrid is a "balanced" side at least on paper unless Ancelotti manages to devise a scheme where his not-so-stellar-defense can keep up with his out-of-the-world talent up front.
@Asasiyun

Out of all the biased gibberish you spoke, I am going to just pick out the CL win.

Against Shaktar, you said it best. Against Arsenal, we were the better side both halves by a mile. Arsenal just capitalized on their chances in the first half while we were wasteful. Against you guys, we were dominant and comfortable in our win. Against United, it was one of the most 1 sided finals I've ever seen.

It's funny how you say that in your last sentence.. I could easily say the same about Madrid. Almost lost to Dortmund and should have lost to Atletico. But it makes me sound like an asshole discrediting Madrid's deserved CL victory. Sound ironic?
SanchezAlexis, when a club signs a new manager who plans on implementing a different way of playing football coupled with some new signings, 'transition' is the correct term.

Real Madrid, during Jose Mourinho's first season, went through a transition from Manuel Pellegrini's Real Madrid. Carlo Ancelotti's first season under Real Madrid was a transition from Mourinho's Real Madrid.

Excuse or not, it is what it is. It has a very real impact too.
Spanish court has decided to prosecute Messi and his father for tax evasion even though the public prosecutor has recommended against it.
So what does that mean?
The case is moving forward on the assumption that Leo might have known about the creation of various companies to spread his income in order to avoid taxes. I'm not a legal expert but from other high profile that I've seen in the us, when an over-zealous prosecutor pushed forward with a case like this, the burden of proof lies on prosecution to show Messi has prior knowledge and actually approved business deals himself. That is generally difficult to do unless they have evidence. I'm not sure how things work in Spain but if you push for maximum punishment and can't prove it, you end up getting nothing. So who knows what the case details are but it will add unnecessary stress on leo which might affect him game. The worst thing that could happen is they find him guilty and he has to go to jail. The Spanish government is going after football players at a time when their economy is struggling to possibly show to the public that they mean business. It's surprising that this has drawn out so far because usually people settle and pay penalties and move on. Sports personalities usually do not handle their taxes although they may have prior knowledge of the tax plan. Most sports stars are either too busy to bother with taxes or to dumb to understand their business. Let's see what happens. I'm assuming there will be some showmanship in the court before all charges are dismissed.
Wishing you guys a warm and pleasant Eid :)
+1
Eid Mubarak to you all , have fun and Go Barca Go
+1
So Torres missed a goal from 3 yards which had become his typical style. Costa then scored from a fabregas through ball. Mou's like, "See? I told you!"
Torres missing from 4 yards out
https://vine.co/v/M0tEK02nVHb

#unfrickinbelievable
+2
Lay off the lad will ya? Its not that easy to score a 4 yarder with the goal gaping. Did you see how fast the ball was coming? xD
+3
Fernando Torres: Trolling his own team since 2010
+3
It takes some serious skill to miss the net from that range, what a talented misser he is
+1
What a legend #vamostorres
You guy's don't understand the pressures of scoring an empty goal...
+2
On paper....Messi, Suarez and Neymar sounds a SICK attack.!

I really hope it comes true :)
And we already know what individually they can do off paper as well..

Lets see how the partnership goes..
If only football was played on paper. Could you imagine the field texture if it was made of paper? :D
Papiere de toilette?
+4
After Monaco refused to sign Valdes, who underwent knee surgery in Germany, will finalize his recovery at Bayern. German club also made him an offer to join them.

Class act from Bayern.

more hope:

poll: "Should Barça sign another centre back?" Yes 96% - No 4% #fcblive (19559 votes)

the 5 CB short list:

Marquinhos (PSG), Vertonghen (Tottenham), Vermaelen (Arsenal), Hummels (Dortmund), Blind (Ajax)
+1
Jeroen (free agent)

Anyone over 6' will do now :P
+1
Soo I'm exactly 6 feet. Heels OK?
I'm 1m83, which is pretty much exactly 6' too, but I'll just stick my neck out and get a Puyol wig. I'll instantly become a world class defender, because that's what resembling Puyi just a little does to you :)
Im 6 feet as well lol I heard Barca was preparing a 15m bid for Dani Agger. Just a rumor, but its something.
Apparently, zubi had the agger signing wrapped up last year but Tito was not keen on it. I'm not too sure about Agger. Liverpool had a leaky defense all year. You can attribute that to terrible defensive midfield play but it does say much about agger.
Agger isn't good. He was one of Liverpool's worst players last year. He may bleed for his club, he may be a pretty cool dude, but he's far from world class.
Its really sad when you realize the most World class CB we have is Mathieu. Hopefully Bartra can become world class with him beside him maybe.

Anyways from that CB shortlist, the only ones that I think should be considered is Hummels (if possible) or Vertonghen. The other 3 I don't rate too highly, especially when one is a DM/LB that sometimes plays CB
Vertonghen just recently signed a 5 year deal with Spurs.. he isn't going anywhere.

Reports are now saying that Miranda offered to join Barcelona but Barcelona must pay 30m for him. *sigh
Prank on Di Maria by David Luis :D - must watch guys

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JK-fnDDbbUg
older then the internet.
+1
K
Too far. Half of the other players out there would've lost their temper.
It wasn't even a funny prank. This is just being mean.
http://anasalha96.wordpress.com/

Check out my brother's FCB blog. It's fairly new, he wrote about "Probable 2014/15 FC Barcelona Midfield Structure" and "Exploring Possible FC Barcelona Formations 14/15". Thanks.
+1
Nice read. Iwith all the new signings its all gonna depend of what luis wants to do. IMHO i think the team will have a slow start to the season adjusting to a new style of play to counter the "parked bus" philosophy thats usually played against us but we have the quality to win all trophies this season im excited to see the new barca.
Another good topic to talk about is the young marc Bartra... He was a solid replacement for puyol last season and he was even more consistent than pique. Is he gonna end up another youngster with talent forgotten in the ranks of Barcelona?
+1
Mat hummels' barca Jersey selling in a Spanish store where Suarez n James jersey sold even before official confirmation.

Is there anyone goes mad now:)
+4
I prefer to stay calm in this case :/
Not gonna happen. If Klopp says neither Marco Reus nor Mats will leave this summer, they won't leave.


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Primera División Table

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20
C/L  C/L Qualifying  UEFA Cup  Relegation 

UEFA Champions League Table

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22

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