• Would André Gomes Suit The Premier League?

    Barcelona need to trim their squad. Although they famously lost Neymar last summer, those in the Camp Nou boardroom struggled to offload fringe players like Thomas Vermaelen and Arda Turan, so one of their main tasks this January is to move some players on. One of those players could be André Gomes, the 24-year-old Portuguese midfielder who Barcelona also reportedly tried to move on towards the end of the most recent transfer window, even after rejecting an offer of €35m at the beginning of June – a U-turn which summed up the club’s disorderly summer. While the player remained in Catalonia on deadline day, there has since been fresh speculation in Spain that he’ll be let go in January, with the Premier League the most likely landing spot. ...

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  • Sergio Busquets: Barcelona’s Raccoon

    The video was posted on YouTube in November 2012; it showed a raccoon edging its way into a yard full of cats, then plunging its paws into their feeding-bowl and scurrying off on its hind legs. Of course, this hilarious scene went viral, to the extent that it was still being shared years later; and, when I finally saw it, I thought only one thing. “That looks like Sergio Busquets.” ...

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  • The Story Of Kiko Femenía, The Unsung Hero Of Watford’s Bright Start

    It’s rare for a player to have been signed by Barcelona and Real Madrid. It’s even rarer for a player to have been signed by Barcelona, Real Madrid and Watford, yet that’s exactly what has happened to Kiko Femenía. The man who had previously played for the B teams of Spain’s two giants, Barça B and Real Madrid Castilla, was playing for Alavés last season and playing so well that Watford went out and agreed a pre-contract agreement with the right-back in February. He made the move to England in the summer and has hit the ground running, helping the Hornets to eighth place in the table. ...

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  • Pablo Maffeo: The Messi-Stopper On Manchester City’s Books

    “Man-marking Lionel Messi is almost impossible,” Massimiliano Allegri remarked in the build-up to the 2014/15 Champions League final when discussing Juventus’ potential tactics, but last Saturday night Pablo Maffeo put the “almost” in that “almost impossible” phrase. ...

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  • Manchester City Success Would Be Among Guardiola’s Finest Achievements

    The strike against everything Pep Guardiola achieved at Barcelona has always been his inheritance. To this day, his more fundamentalist detractors ignore his rare capacity for detail and reinvention and see Leo Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi and the rest as the thermals which elevated and sustained Guardiola's reputation. It's the kind of perspective which depends on a very limited reading of what that era's Barcelona actually were. It's also one which assumes, wrongly, that all of those players were on a predetermined course for the stars and that Guardiola was just in the right place at the right time when the sky lit up around him.  ...

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  • Rivaldo: Santa Disguised As Scrooge

    How good was Rivaldo, when ranked among the game’s greatest? Well, for example, you could argue that he, and not Ronaldo, was the crucial player in Brazil’s triumph at the World Cup in 2002. Sure, Ronaldo scored both goals in that final, but it was his strike partner who is credited with both assists - the first with a low drive that Oliver Kahn could only parry to the onrushing predator, and the second with a dummy from which Germany’s poor defenders probably still have sore necks. Looking further back through that tournament, Rivaldo’s hand is a clear part of so much of the action. Though Ronaldo netted the winner in the semi against Turkey, it is Rivaldo who set the tone with two or three excellent strikes from distance. Rivaldo delivered the vital equaliser in the quarter-final against England, easing the ball home just before half-time. In the Round of 16, with Belgium proving ominously resilient, Rivaldo fired a deflected shot into the top corner, breaking the Europeans’ resistance. ...

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  • Editorial: Paulinho Continues To Impress For Barcelona

    The collective sigh of Barcelona fans could be heard around the footballing world when the Catalan giants completed a €40million move for former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Paulinho in August, meeting Guanghzou Evergrande’s hefty valuation of the 29-year-old. They had set their hearts of Marco Verratti, warmed to the idea of Nice’s Jean Michaël Seri, and been all but promised Philippe Coutinho. Yet they had to attend the presentation of a man who’d washed out in the Premier League and spent the last three seasons earning ridiculous cash in China. ...

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  • When It Comes To Catalonia’s Independence Referendum, FC Barcelona Is More Than A Club

    “The day the Camp Nou chants for independence is the day independence will arrive.” That’s what Catalan politician Toni Strubell i Trueta’s father always said to him, as told in Sid Lowe’s increasingly relevant book ‘Fear and Loathing in LaLiga’. Well, that’s exactly what the Camp Nou did on October 7, 2012, when Barcelona took on and drew with Real Madrid 2-2 in front of their own fans. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo both scored twice, but that wasn’t the only storyline that evening. In 1714, the city of Barcelona fell in the War of Spanish Succession and, as such, in the 17th minute and the 14th second many of the home fans stood up and shouted “In-Inde-Independencia!”, a chant which needed no translation for the world watching on. It wasn’t just in the stadium either. Some of the punters at the bar in Barcelona’s city centre where this author watched that match also joined in. The chant has been repeated in that same minute in every home game since. ...

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  • What Happens When Lionel Messi Is Gone?

    One of the conveniences of a non-uniform European football calendar is that league cup indifference can sometimes be interrupted by a bigger fixture from abroad. And so it was on Tuesday night, as Barcelona's game with Eibar appeared shortly after Leicester's reserves had finished beating Liverpool at the King Power Stadium.To Camp Nou we went, then, and within forty-five minutes we'd seen Lionel Messi score another hat-trick and then, because he could, knife through the visiting defence once more to add a fourth.  ...

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  • Real Sociedad Are La Liga’s Surprise Package

    Despite everyone's insistence on doing it with the Kardashians, keeping up with Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga is never an easy task. They are blessed with financial riches and a selection of world class talent within their rosters, and every year, usually with a stubborn Atleti nearby, those two are the sides battling for the title. But after just three games this season only two teams have managed to earn maximum points: Barcelona and Real. Surprisingly, it’s not the Real who play in white under the guidance of Zinedine Zidane, but Sociedad, who play in royal blue managed by Eusebio Sacristan. ...

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