Category Archives: Barcelona
By Michael Rowden
A certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic releases his book today, a tell all autobiography that gives a great, all-be-it one sided, insight into his time at the heights of European Football. Undoubtedly one of the more interesting sections of this book is his description of the time he spent at Barcelona under the watchful eye of Pep Guardiola, a man fast becoming potentially the best manager in modern day European football.
Zlatan’s time at Barcelona was surprisingly short considering the lengths Joan Laporta, Barcelona’s President at the time, went to get his hands on the Swedish maestro. I always wondered why a man who Barcelona signed on a 5-year contract for £40m would depart for Italy having only made 29 appearances for the best team in world football.
Regardless of what you may think of Mr. Ibrahimovic, I am well aware his reported ego divides many an opinion, I can totally relate to his frustrations with the current La Liga champions.
Okay – before you stop doing whatever it was you were doing to fall off your chair in fits of laughter at the title of this article, I have a confession to make:
As a passionate Liverpool fan I have in the past been accused by friends of being outrageously biased towards my beloved team – over-hyping our chances, exaggerating our achievements, and basically defending any action of any manager and player wearing the famous red shirt – something I vehemently deny!
So when comparing today’s Liverpool team to that of the modern-day Barcelona, who are still fresh from their Champions League final mauling of Manchester United – I instantly knew I’d be setting myself up for extreme derision and abuse. Surely this is just another outlandish claim from a typically blinkered Liverpool fan.
How can Liverpool, who finished 6th and 7th in the last two premiership seasons, were on the brink of administration and aren’t even close to be being the best team in England, be compared to a Barcelona team who have just won La Liga, the Champions League and arguably elevated themselves to the mantle of best club team ever?
Well, the answer is they can’t. Even the most deluded fan would feel silly making such a comparison… but is there even a tiny grain of truth in that opening statement after all?
The similarities may surprise you… Read the rest of this entry
By Tom Gaunt
Towards the end of last season Arsene Wenger stated that his English midfield prodigy Jack Wilshire could play for either the under-21′s or the senior team, but not both. On the face of it this seems fair, after all we do not want Wilshire burning out, especially with his rise to prominence in the senior team. In fact we should applaud Wenger for being so caring about the health of his young players, wanting them to have long, injury-free careers for both club and country. However if we dig a little deeper the picture of the caring nurturing manager changes somewhat. at the tender age of 19 Jack Wilshire has been played an extraordinary 49 times this season, hardly the behavior of a manager concerned of a young players health and more likely a manager so desperate for success that player health goes out the window. Maybe this is a little harsh, considering the fact that Arsenal did face severe injury woes this season, although nonetheless hypocritical to suggest England are taking advantage of him and overplaying him. Read the rest of this entry
By Tom Gaunt
On Saturday night we all witnessed a truly great performance by one of the great teams of the past decade, maybe even this century.
Whilst I don’t imagine that any current team, however well they played, could of beaten Barcelona in the kind of form they displayed on Saturday I also believe that they exposed the true ability of the Alex Ferguson’s current Manchester United squad.
Rather than recap in detail on why United lost on Saturday evening I will just touch on a few key points which highlight some areas which were not just tested but horribly exposed by the best team in the world. The first thing I noticed was the supreme confidence that most United teams have was not there. They looked nervous in possession and panicked whenever they were under pressure. I accept that Barcelona are a brilliant pressing side but it seemed that it was only the youth of Fabio da Silva and the class of Wayne Rooney that overcame this, the rest of the team looked like they were treading water. What it also showed was the lack of world class players in the starting line up. Read the rest of this entry
By Tom Gaunt
It is widely accepted that Barcelona are currently the best team in the world. Despite not winning the Champions League last season, most people accept that they sit on top of the pile. We will only know if this honorary title is justified over the next 2 months but I think we can safely say in World football they are considered number one. Taking it a step further most would probably also regard them as the team that plays the most attractive or beautiful football in the world, but are they really that exciting to watch. I don’t think so. Maybe it is a deep hatred for the club stemming from their unjust victory over my beloved Chelsea or whether I have a very different taste from most football fans, but I would prefer to watch Blackpool any day of the week.
Now don’t get me wrong Barcelona are a good team to watch, but I do find myself quite often bored. You may argue this is due to their domination, a one sided game is often very dull, but surely that does contribute to how exciting a side they are, and the desire held to watch them play. So this raises the question of what is good football?
My gripe is not specifically with Barcelona, I am not ignorant enough to suggest they play anything but excellent football, but by what parameters do we define good football. When I watch a match I want excitement and when Barcelona play 50, 10 yard passes around the midfield it does little for my heart rate. I have thought in recent years that Arsenal are a poor man’s Barcelona, as they seem to adopt this same style of passing the ball around without ever really going for goal. Now fortunately for Barce they are so precise with their passing that they can accurately dissect a defence and have the ball in the back of the net without raising a sweat. The top teams in the world are probably a victim of their own success with many of their games over after an hour and most happy to avoid injury and see a game out keeping fresh for bigger future battles.
When I pick what game I am going to watch on a Saturday afternoon, if my team aren’t playing, I always watch Blackpool as you are guaranteed a great game. There are always lots of chances, the pace is always frenetic and both teams get lots of chances. This to me is exciting and good football. The sad thing about the way Blackpool play is that it will probably see them relegated this season and whichever Championship team takes their place will I am, sure learn from how not to stay in the premiership and adopt the “Hoof it first, think later” approach teams like Stoke adopted to stay up.
Ian Holloway has got his team giving 110% and trying till the death, something many “stronger” teams could learn from. They have scored in every game at home and given their fans some great games. Based on their skill level alone they probably should have gone down a long time ago, but Holloway has got them playing with a freedom that has seen them beat Liverpool home and away and almost shock United and Arsenal (had it not been for a clear pens not being given).
Recently there was uproar at the ticket prices for the Champions League final, 150 Euros for the cheapest ticket. These are simply the mechanisms of supply and demand, proven by the fact that 80,000+ fans will happily pay this and more, all hoping as we will at home that it lives up to the hype; but if you are talking ROI I would suggest taking a trip to Bloomfield Road 14th of May to watch their must win game against Bolton. I can 100% guarantee it will be an absolute cracker!