Saturday 14 March 2009

Number of the day: 75


the percentage of playing time in which Barcelona had ball possession
during the first half of Wednesday's game against Olympique Lyon

ReLive: Barcelona-Almeria 5-0

Europe could approve FIFA's foreign player's limit

source: The Guardian
date: Thursday 26 February 2009

Fifa's plans to limit the number of foreign players do not breach European Union rules, an independent report declared. The 6+5 rule has been overwhelmingly approved by 155 of the organisation's member nations, but dismissed as illegal by the European Commission and most EU governments because they say it amounts to discrimination at work and a restriction on the free movement of workers.

Now the Institute for European Affairs (Inea), commissioned by Fifa to study the issue, claims the idea of restricting foreign players in league games does not fall foul of EU rules on free movement of workers. The Inea chairman, Professor Jürgen Gramke insisted the report, although commissioned by Fifa, was entirely independent. "We took no instructions from Fifa. Inea accepted this commission on condition that our requirements of complete independence were met."

The report says that, under EU law, the "regulatory autonomy" of sporting associations is recognised and supported. "The key aim of the 6+5 rule in the view of the experts is the creation and assurance of sporting competition. The 6+5 rule does not impinge on the core area of the right to freedom of movement.”

Fifa endorsed the rule in May last year, but six months later EU ministers said it clearly broke EU rules. The 6+5 rule established that at the start of each match, a club must field at least six players who would be eligible for the national team of the country of the club. But there would be no limit on substitutes and no limit on the number of non-national players that clubs can sign.

Today's report says that, at worst, the 6+5 rule could constitute "indirect discrimination" because "it is not directly based on the nationality of professional players". Instead it "merely considers entitlement to play for the national team concerned, and any possible indirect discrimination can be defended on the basis of compelling reasons of general interest".

Quota systems and rules limiting foreign players in football were outlawed in the Bosman case in 1995. The Bosman judgment had a dramatic effect on football, said today's report, opening up the use of foreign players to such a degree that up to 56% of national league players are now not eligible to play for the national team of the league in which they play. In addition, up to half of the foreign players are non-European. This development discourages young indigenous footballing talent, because clubs can recruit fully trained players from elsewhere, often cheaper, the report points out.

It says the central aim of the 6+5 rule is to generate and safeguard sporting competition. Gramke said the report's conclusions justifying the compatibility of the 6+5 rule with EU law also applied to other team sports such as handball, basketball and ice hockey.

The findings will bolster Fifa's challenge to the European Commission and governments to recognise the 6+5 rule. A Fifa spokesman said the report would form the basis of fresh talks with commission officials, including the employment commissioner, Vladimir Spidla. The Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, is determined to see the 6+5 rule in place by the start of the 2012-13 season and the commission is currently equally determined to block him.

read the full and original article here

Editor's Notes:

Timetable for Implementation
1. 4+7 for 2010-201
2. 5+6 for 2011-2012
3. 6+5 for 2012-2013

The Bosman Ruling interprets Article 39 of the treaty of the European Community to mean that no institutional impediment be applied such that the free movement of persons belonging to the member states for the purpose of employment within the European Union is restricted or causes direct discrimination on the basis of nationality.

The Inea report sites the wording of the 6+5 rule which mentions eligibility to qualification for the national team of the respective league and terms it as “at most indirect discrimination”. Further it points out that Fifa is an autonomous federation formed with the fundamental freedom of association and this in principle justifies its right to restrict market freedoms within its domain.

Read another article on the issue:
Ian Lynam: FIFA's 6+5 Proposal

Read more:
Barça B: Gai will get Spanish nationality soon
English and Italian clubs monitoring Barça youth
Proposal to limit spending on transfers and salaries

[Henrique] Hertha Berlin-Bayer Leverkusen

Bayer Leverkusen played this afternoon their 24th game of the German league. Bayer lost 1-0 against Bundesliga leaders Hertha Berlin.

Brazilian central defender and Barcelona loan out Henrique (22) played the whole game.

Barcelona bought Henrique last summer and decided to loan him out to Bayer Leverkusen for one season (read more here). This blog will follow Henrique's performances during this season.

Sunday 10 August - Cup round 1: Rot-Weiß Oberhausen-Bayer Leverkusen 2-3
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 120 minutes.

Saturday 16 August - Bundesliga game 1: Bayer Leverkusen-Borussia Dortmund 2-3
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 23 August - Bundesliga game 2: Vfb Stuttgart-Bayer Leverkusen 0-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 30 August - Bundesliga game 3: Bayer Leverkusen-Hoffenheim 5-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Right back.

Saturday 13 September - Bundesliga game 4: Hamburg-Bayer Leverkusen 3-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Right back.

Friday 19 September - Bundesliga game 5: Bayer Leverkusen-Hannover 4-0
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Tuesday 23 September - Cup round 2: Augsburg(2)-Bayer Leverkusen 0-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Yellow card.

Saturday 27 September - Bundesliga game 6: Bochum-Bayer Leverkusen 2-3
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 4 October - Bundesliga game 7: Bayer Leverkusen-Hertha Berlin 0-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Yellow card.

Saturday 18 October - Bundesliga game 8: Eintracht Frankfurt-Bayer Leverkusen 0-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Friday 24 October - Bundesliga game 9: Bayer Leverkusen-FC Köln 2-0
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Tuesday 29 October - Bundesliga game 10: Werder Bremen-Bayer Leverkusen 0-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Friday 31 October - Bundesliga game 11: Bayer Leverkusen-Wolfsburg 2-0
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 8 November - Bundesliga game 12: Karlsruhe-Bayer Leverkusen 3-3
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Yellow card.

Saturday 15 November - Bundesliga game 13: Bayer Leverkusen-Schalke 2-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 22 November - Bundesliga game 14: Bielefeld-Bayer Leverkusen 2-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 29 November - Bundesliga game 15: Bayer Leverkusen-Bayern Munich 0-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Yellow card.

Saturday 6 December - Bundesliga game 16: Borussia Mönchengladbach-Bayer Leverkusen 1-3
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 13 December - Bundesliga game 17: Bayer Leverkusen-Cottbus 1-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Wednesday 28 January - Cup 1/8 finals: Bayer Leverkusen-Cottbus 3-1

Saturday 31 January - Bundesliga game 18: Borussia Dortmund-Bayer Leverkusen 1-1

Saturday 7 February - Bundesliga game 19: Bayer Leverkusen-Stuttgart 2-4
Substitute. Henrique replaces Castro in the 66th minute (0-2). Assist.

Friday 13 February - Bundesliga game 20: Hoffenheim-Bayer Leverkusen 1-4
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Sunday 22 February - Bundesliga game 21: Bayer Leverkusen-Hamburg 1-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Yellow card.

Saturday 28 February - Bundesliga game 22: Hannover-Bayer Leverkusen 1-0
Suspended. Henrique cannot play because of five yellow cards.

Wednesday 5 March - Cup 1/4 finals: Bayer Leverkusen-Bayern Munich 4-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Sunday 8 March - Bundesliga game 23: Bayer Leverkusen-Bochum 1-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 14 March - Bundesliga game 24: Hartha Berlin-Bayer Leverkusen 1-0
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

1. Hertha Berlin 49
2. Bayern Munich 45
3. Wolfsburg 45
4. Hoffenheim 43
5. Hamburg (23) 42
6. Stuttgart (23) 39
7. Bayer Leverkusen 37
8. Schalke 37
9. Borussia Dortmund 34

1st and 2nd place: group phase of Champions League
3rd place: third qualifying round of Champions League, winner enters the group phase, losers enter the Uefa Cup
4th place: qualifies for 4th qualifying round of Uefa Cup
5th place: qualifies for 3rd qualifying round of Uefa Cup

Medical: Abidal returns to the pitch

Barcelona player Eric Abidal (29), who is recovering from a thigh injury (read more here), returned to the pitch earlier today and did some recovering exercises.

The Frenchman ruptured one of the adductor muscles in his right thigh during the league against Espanyol on Saturday 22 February and was then expected to be out for eight weeks.

Read more:
Medical: Puyol out for three weeks
Medical: Jorquera out for at least one week
Medical: Abidal out for two months

All available players in Almeria list

Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola announced earlier today a list of 19 players for the 27th league game against Almería tomorrow at 9:00 pm.

The list:
Valdés, Pinto,
Alves, Piqué, Márquez, Cáceres, Sylvinho,
Xavi, Víctor Sánchez, Touré, Busquets, Keita, Gudjohnsen, Iniesta,
Messi, Eto'o, Bojan, Henry, Hleb

Jorquera, Puyol, Abidal and Milito are injured. Pedro will play with Barcelona Atlètic this weekend. One player will have to fall off the list tomorrow.

The team will travel tomorrow to Almería. They will take a flight at 11 am in Barcelona and are expected to arrive in Almería at 12:20 pm. They will stay at their hotel until leaving for the stadium.

Guardiola has special motivation for Almeria game

Will we be motivated for Sunday's league game after our Champions League match?

I don't know about the players, but I have a very clear motivation.

(click the cartoon to enlarge)


see more cartoons here

Guardiola wants goalkeeper, left winger and striker

Madrid sports tabloid As claims that Barcelona officials have been holding meeting to discuss how to strenghten the squad in the summer.

Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola would want to bring in a goalkeeper, a left winger and a striker, although it's uncertain the club will be able to sign players for these three positions.

Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain is currently working with an extensive target list that mainly includes settled players like Chelsea goalkeeper and Czech international Petr Cech (25) and Bayern Munich wing attacker and French international Franck Ribéry (25).

If Barcelona will be able to sign three players, at least two players of the current squad will leave in the summer. Barcelona attacker and Belarus international Alexander Hleb (27) would be on top of the exit list after having disappointed both on and off the pitch this season. Bayern Munich and some English Premier League clubs could be interested to sign him.

If the club signs a new goalkeeper, Barcelona goalkeeper Albert Jorquera (30) will again consider an exit, like he already did in January. And the arrival of another striker, could make Barcelona forward and Spanish youth international Bojan Krkic (18) ask to join another club on loan, something that some people from his entourage would already have advised him months ago.

Read more:
Barcelona speaking with Cech and Buffon
Hleb could be part of Ribery deal
Barcelona confirms offers for Bojan

Pichichi and Zamora (day 26)

With Barcelona players competing for the trophies of best goalscorer and best goalkeeper of the Spanish league, this blog will follow the events during the second round.

23 Eto'o (Barcelona)
19 Villa (Valencia)
18 Messi (Barcelona)
18 Forlán (Atlético Madrid)
16 Negredo (Almería)

0,92 Víctor Valdés (Barcelona)
1,12 Casillas (Real Madrid)
1,31 Diego López (Villarreal)
1,42 Riesgo (Recreativo Huelva)
1,58 Diego Alves (Almería)

Ex-Barça: Giovani to Ipswich Town on loan

English Premier League club Tottenham has yesterday officially announced the transfer of Tottenham attacker and Mexican international Giovani dos Santos (19) to Ipswich Town on loan for the rest of the season. The English second division club has officially confirmed the deal.

The statement on the official website of Tottenham reads: "Giovani Dos Santos has joined Ipswich Town on loan for the rest of the season. The Mexican international was a summer signing from Barcelona and has gone on to make 12 appearances in our colours. The 19-year-old scored his first goal for the Club against Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Cup last month."

Giovani dos Santos came through the Barcelona youth ranks and joined the first team squad in the summer of 2007. One year later, he left for Tottenham.

Read more:
Giovani says goodbye
Marquez: "Giovani couldn't deal with the pressure"
OFFICIAL: Giovani to Tottenham

Barça B: The tactical flexibility of the second team

author: Jaume Marcet

Luis Enrique tried last weekend against Alcoyano succesfully a different tacical system than the normal one. Barça Atlètic defeated the leader with an unusual 4-4-2 that satisfied the Asturian coach.

The normal system used by the teams of Barcelona's youth academy, as well as by the team of Luis Enrique is the same as the one of the first team: the 4-3-3 that the club has made its own over the last decades. This tactical system was first used by Johan Cruijff in the 1993-1994 season as an alternative for the classic 3-4-3. Since then, coaches like Van Gaal, Rijkaard or Guardiola have used it in the majority of the games.

It's a starting line-up that allows you to have an ideal positioning of the players on the pitch when you want to dominate the game, have ball possession and attack during most part of the match. Luis Enrique, the coach of Barcelona Atlètic, has naturally taken up this ideological and tactical legacy and from his first game he used this 4-3-3. The Asturian coach nevertheless understands that there aren't dogmas and that every football view should be flexible. That's why, starting from the basic system, Luis Enrique has tried two alternatives.

When the team needed to take risks and attack, he used a 3-4-3, a system that became famous because of being the system used by the "Dream Team". You give up one defender but you strengthen the midfield. But there are other types of games, in which the technical staff of the second team prefers to have more people in midfield given the conditions of the pitch and the opponent. That was the case last Saturday in Alcoy, where Barça Atlètic played with an unusual 4-4-2.

Apart from the four defenders and the three natural midfielders, the tactical change consisted of pulling back Jeffren from his position as right winger to the position of attacking midfielder in front of the three other midfielders. This left two players up front, Maric and Benja, who played together for the first time. On a small pitch and with an opponent who played very directly, the tactical plan of the second team proved to be very effective since the players of Luis Enrique didn't have to play with an inferiority in midfield and could take advantage of the weak points of the opponent's defense with two classic centre forwards like Beja and Maric.

At the press conference after the game, Luis Enrique explained the reasons for the tactical change of his team: "Our normal system is 4-3-3, and we even play 3-4-3 sometimes, but we can also play 4-4-2 or other systems. It's necesary to adpat to the circumstances of the pitch, the opponent and your won playing style. I like the idea that the other coach doesn't know how we will play. We can use different systems and be as effective."

Read more:
Barça B: Jeffren satisfied with U-21 debut
Barça B - Benja: "I'm very happy to return"
Barça B: Season possibly over for Victor Vazquez

[2008] The search of Txiki: Midfield

this post was published exactly one year ago:

Yesterday Catalan sports paper Sport gave a global analysis of the Barcelona transfer activity for next summer. In five episodes we bring this story to you.

In midfield Barcelona is looking for a defensive midfielder and a more dynamic player and has therefore contacted several candidates. Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso (26), who will be sold by his club in the summer, has also an offer from Atlético Madrid, but the player prefers Barcelona. Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard (29) will only come if his former manager José Mourinho becomes the next Barcelona manager.

Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fàbregas (20) is not a real option, although the fact that he could change his current agent in May for the agent of Thierry Henry, who has a good relationship with Barcelona, could be seen as a first move to make a future return possible. Sevilla midfielders Christain Poulsen (28) and Seydou Keita (28) are also on the Barcelona list, with the second having a transfer price disadvantage. If Barcelona midfielder Deco (30) leaves, Werder Bremen attacking midfielder Diego (23) could be the first option. Barcelona has already contacted the father and agent of the Brazilian international, who wants to leave Germany in the summer.

Although there are excellent reports about Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Luka Modric (22), the Croatian international played a bad game when Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain went to see him during Croatia-Holland in the beginning of February. Later this month he'll have a second chance in the game against Scotland. Begiristain already contacted with Dinamo Zagreb vice president Zdravko Mamic and with his brother Dinamo Zagreb sports director Zoran Mamic, the agent of the player. Zagreb would be asking 20 million euro.

(this is the third part of this story, the first part and the second part were published yesterday, the fourth part will be published later today, the last part on Saturday. The five episodes are: 1. Defence, 2. How it works, 3. Midfield, 4. Marital status, 5. Attack)

Read more 14 March 2008 news:
Betis interested in Edmilson
Capel has a madridista background

Friday 13 March 2009

Iniesta, Left or Center?

Being the hot topic of the week, I think it’s a good time to raise the issue of Iniesta Role in the team. where can he help the team more this season, as a midfielder or as a Left wing?

For the start, there are some points to make clear before getting in-depth:

The Henry/ Iniesta rotation on the left offered us lot of possibilities. Henry usually takes the Left wing seat in the selection, while he plays more as a second striker. Iniesta plays on the left wing, but at the same time while working on the offense build up, he still have the midfielder genes that helps him a lot to link with his team mates in the field, and generate assists. None of them has to be the one and only option. It depends on the games played. The same as Henry must not be considered only as the striker who take the left wing position. We also need to see more Henry as a striker in Eto’o place, with Iniesta on the left wing.

One of the reasons of the drop in form we passed through is that we limited and squeezed our options in some positions. That’s why, while discussing the Iniesta case, I will pass on the methods we can apply to enrich our options and show more depth in the squad. The following months are the most important and we need to learn lessons from the past.

We all know that Iniesta can play on the left AND the center, based on every game needs. This is not the case. The question is: While we are seeking balance between performance and effort to keep our players as fresh as possible till the end of the season, where can Iniesta serve the team most?

To go directly to the point-too late: in some games where possession is a priority, the Xavi + Iniesta partnership is a must. yet, I still believe Iniesta makes the team better when he plays on the left. May be it’s a wrong time for me to raise this issue. The team started to perform well, and it happened to be when Xavi and Iniesta are running the show in the midfield. I think if I mentioned this last summer (and I actually did and no one complained), or may be after our first game against Numancia it would have been better. Simply because the partnership didn’t click back then. But here is my reasoning for preferring Iniesta the wing, over Iniesta the midfielder. Noting that when I say Keita as a third midfielder, its also applied for the other options there, based on the game played. So here we go:

1) Shallow Non-symmetric structure: Having Henry on the left wing and Iniesta as a midfielder creates a system chaos in a way. If Iniesta stick to his midfield role, we play without a left wing. Henry will be cutting into the box too often as a forward. Thats where and how he helps the team most. Instructing Iniesta to move to the left when Henry cuts inside means you will only have Xavi at the center and with only Yaya behind him. Messi cover up for that offensively when he cut inside helping Xavi with ball distribution and penetration. But when the ball is lost and dropped or cleared behind the offense line we create on the edge of opponents box, then: counter counter!

2) Cannibalization: it’s a system analysis, Marketing and project management expression. I tried to explain it using my own words, but then I found on Wiki a great explanation and here it is:

"Cannibalization is when companies, particularly retail companies, open outlets too close to each other. Much of the market for the new outlet could have come from the old outlet. The potential for cannibalization is often discussed when considering companies with many outlets in an area, such as Starbucks or McDonald's.

In project evaluation, the estimated profit generated from the new product must be reduced by the earnings on the lost sales." (Wiki)

In english it means: having players on the field who eat from each others Role. With Iniesta + Xavi in midfield, Henry + Eto'o in the crouded box, we actually have lot of that. For sure Xavi plus Iniesta is better than Xavi alone. But if Xavi Added value to the team is (A), and Iniesta added value is (A), then Xavi + Iniesta added value in the midfield is not (2A), it’s (1.5 A). Some may think we upgraded the midfield with half an (A) having iniesta there, while we actually lost half of the (A) added value that Iniesta can inject in the team if he played little further than Xavi and in a different role, like left wing. You get an (A) in midfield (Xavi) and another (A) on the left wing (Iniesta). I believe thats a bigger loss than benching one of the strikers, using a third midfielder who add physical balance in that department, and starting Iniesta to attack the left flank of the opponent.

3) Resources management - 1: In our case here, it’s important to see the added value of Iniesta in the midfield, his added value on the left wing, then compare. Iniesta is a player any team will die to get and hire to orchestrate the ball distribution. No doubt. But isn’t he too good to be employed as "an outlet" for Xavi? From the left flank he showed almost every time he played there that he can lead the team from the left to the box and take the game on his own. As much as I believed at the beginning of the season that he can play as a left wing, against all odds back then, I also believe he can actually score many goals through being a left wing. He proved it when he reached his peak and before he got injured. At least Iniesta penetration from the left with Keita running to the box can score enough goals to cover the loss of goals that may happen if we benched Henry, or played him in Eto’o position.

If you can have a Messi-type player on the left (Achievable), why will you give up on that to drag him to serve as a Xavi outlet? You need an outlet, start Hleb, believe it or not he can do the passing passing passing thing beside Xavi. Start Keita, Gudjhonsen or the best option for the future of that position, Busquets. And put on the left a player who can dribble two defenders while moving the ball in a 2 cm space near the baseline (remember?). A player who can open the field. And instead of playing beside Xavi who is suffering from a crowded defense in the center, play him on the left to stretch the defense wide. Thats how the midfield will be less crowded for Xavi to operate.

Xavi is the best playmaker in the world, he is not easy to contain. It may sound practical to have Iniesta as a distribution assistant beside him but it sounds more practical to create the playmaking Chain I mentioned once before: Alves on the right, Messi cutting inside the box from the path between Xavi and Alves to get advantage of the space made by Henry or Eto'o, and Iniesta on the left with Keita between Iniesta and Xavi Crushing into the box to catch opponent defense with surprise and dropping back to play beside Yaya when needed.

Possession is a key principle in Barcelona Ideology, that’s well known. But there is another principle that is as important, but rarely discussed: Stretching the field wide. You cant focus on one principle and neglect the other, the whole system will collapse.

4) Resource Management - 2: Lets take Barcelona selection in the game against Lyon and imagine it didn’t click for a reason or another (this is football u know?), Lyon parked a bus and we failed to score for the first 60 minutes. What are the options we had on the bench as "game changing" cards? Who are the added values for offense? The 19 years old unused Bojan?

Coaches always need to put themselves in the position of keeping control on the game destiny, not to throw all the cards and wish wish wish and pray for luck. When you reach the second half and everyone is tired (Both teams), getting Eto'o into the game from the bench to run over the opponent exhausted defense can change the game. Same for Henry, or Iniesta. But when you have them all on the field, then the ones you install from the bench during the game are not better than the ones you already employed in the start up selection.

Its not easy to explain it, but its a deciding factor in football. its about the strategic approach you plan for the game, not just the tactics and selections you start with. And it includes lot of "what if? What if? What if?..." the more of them you have and know the answer for, the more you will be seen as a coach who master reading the games. Now without being critical, how many times the team was passing through troubles and we ended up only making one substitution at most? Guess why...

5) Resources Management - 3: Based on the points mentioned above this is another way to show more depth in your squad. It’s like the cheque’ financial role of showing the presence of more liquidity in the market than there is for real.

Employing Iniesta in the midfield means having only one big performer to serve on the left wing (Henry), and it block any possibility for other options in midfield. The depth of the squad Auto-squeeze. Make a slight change in the way the system function to activate the options available, and here you are!

In another hand, Keep some key players out if you can (and with the quality of our players we always can). Start Bojan-Eto'o-Messi against Almeria for example, with Yaya- (Busquets/Gudi/Keita/Hleb/Ramzi...) and Xavi as midfielders. you think this is not a good enough line up to win? Excuse me! They definitely are! They are better than any other team start up selection in the liga.

I know we can use better selections, but this way you have Henry and Iniesta among others on the bench. Not only as winning cards but also to save some batteries for what comes later. We were rotating at the beginning of the season even when the team lacked chemistry. Lot of fans were critical and demanded fixed selection. Hopefully Guardiola can overcome public opinion pressure, and -most importantly - the players ego and return to the policy that he knows its a need for the team. We needed to get back the balance after the shaky performance in recent weeks, now back to the basics!

6) Efficiency: by description, it’s the ratio of the useful energy delivered by a dynamic system to the energy supplied to it. If our system does not work unless if the best of the best of the world wide players are installed in, then this system is screwed. Why will you need a system if its solely based on individuals collective effort and not on the synergy created by the entire group? I don’t think our system is that dummy. It is definitely flexible enough to blind the potentials diversity of all our players in a well customized package. Injecting the less vital players in the mix for the starting up roles, if with the right doses, earn u results and keep you fresh.

Most importantly, efficiency in football also means to measure the amount of effort burned in the game to get a result. The system with lot of back and forth transitions already killed us before. We all enjoyed the beginning of the season when players were leaving traceable marks on every field they invaded back and forth, pushing themselves to the edge. But we didn't notice the amount of biological fuel that style demands, till the players' bodies screamed the "enough is enough" complain.

Now we are little more fresh than two weeks ago, we need to learn from the mistakes and do better in that mean. Keita/Busquets who drop back when needed to act as a gap filler behind Xavi and beside Yaya will serve this goal. It decrease the space the rest of the offense need to run through while switching between offense and defense. They will be closer to the opponent area, which means a better offense return, and less defense effort. Thats a kind of total quality management. So the player we install in the midfield for doing the dirty job actually enhance our offense. Iniesta can do it as well? we really need to exhaust our most skillful players to do the job that demand physical effort, while we have players who are physically better?

7) Seeking perfection: Having Iniesta in the midfield and Henry on the left, is a very rigid structure that is hard to customize during the game, based on the match conditions. To give you an idea about what that means let me pick the other option and explain its mobility:

-- Yaya Keita Xavi in midfield plus Iniesta on the left:

a) Iniesta on the left already create an outlet for Xavi, but instead of being an outlet between Xavi feet so they bounce on each other, he is a wide outlet whom the opponent defense get stretched to track.

b) If Xavi needed serious help in the midfield, assuming that Messi -keita-Yaya help was not enough, its easy for Iniesta to hurry for help dropping to the middle but just as often as needed to operate the game, then he bounce back to do his job. based on the previous cannibalization analysis, this way u get Xavi(A) in the center+ Iniesta(A) playing on the left +Iniesta (0.5A) assisting in the middle when needed.

c) While dominating the game, Iniesta on the left and Alves on the right stretch the opponent defense, making it less crowded for Xavi in the center, more lethal for Keita to run into the less compact Box to meet Iniesta and Alves crosses and create more gaps for Messi to penetrate through.

d) During the game we felt a need for more cover because the defense is little bit shaky at a certain period, no problem! Keita move to play as a second Defensive midfielder beside Yaya till things are more settled. More dominance in the midfield needed? just ask for it! Keita +Yaya as defensive midfielders, Iniesta+ Xavi attacking midfielders, Messi on the free role around the striker (Henry or Eto'o). Things going fine, we go the opposite way regarding the midfield-offense structure:2-2-1-1--->1-2-3.

Now imagine the team applying that. In one year from now the switching between the mentioned scenarios will become a second nature for the players. So the group systematic work will make us play a water like tactical structure that keep reshaping itself during the game based on the on-time needs. Now who can contain that? No team in the whole world!


For those who like Statistics (something I am not the best with), here is a report summarizing Iniesta status in the liga till now.

A) Iniesta games on the left:

Betis Sevilla-Barcelona 2-2
Santander-Barcelona 1-2
Barcelona-Mallorca 3-1 (Iniesta entered the game Min 66 and scored a goal Min 75)
Malaga-Barcelona 1-4
Athletic-Barcelona 0-1
Barcelona-Atletico 6-1
Espanyol-Barcelona 1-2
Barcelona-Betis 3-2
Sporting-Barcelona 1-6
Barcelona-Santander 1-1 (entered in the 39 th minute)

Briefing: 10 games- GF 30 goals (3 goals per game), GA 11 goals (1.1 goal per game) , gathered 26 points out of 30 points available 87%.

B) Iniesta games in the center:

Barcelona-Athletic 2-0
Barcelona-Sporting 3-1
Barcelona-Numancia 4-1
Barcelona-Almeria 5-0
Numancia-Barcelona 1-0

Briefing: 5 games- GF 14 goals (2.8 goals per game), GA 3 goals (0.6 goals per game) , gathered 12 points out of 15 points available 80%.

C) Without Iniesta(someone else in the midfield with Henry on the left):

Atlético-Barcelona 4-3
Barcelona-Espanyol 1-2
Barcelona-Deportivo 5-0
Osasuna-Barcelona 2-3
Villarreal-Barcelona 1-2
Barcelona-Real Madrid 2-0
Barcelona-Valencia 4-0
Sevilla-Barcelona 0-3
Barcelona-Getafe 1-1 (henry entered the game min 55)
Recreativo-Barcelona 0-2
Barcelona-Valladolid 6-0

Briefing: 11 games- GF 32 goals (~3 goals per game), GA 10 goals (~1 goal per game) , gathered 25 points out of 33 points available 76%.

You can do your conclusions based on the data listed above. There is one important thing I wanted to point, and it is related to section (C), its not true that we need Iniesta in the midfield simply because the other options sucks. It is obvious that with the other options in the midfield beside Xavi, we played the most difficult games this season we scored the same rate of goals and if you neglect the last two games played with this status against Atletico and Espanyol where the whole team had a drop in form so its not fair to hook it on the third midfielder, you will easily find that:

In the previous 9 games, the team: Scored 28 goals (3.1 goals per game), GA 4 goals ( 0.44 goals per game), Gathered 25 points out of 27 points possible 92.6 %

So Allow me to stick to what i wrote long time ago about: Guardiola favorite, not the fans'

When I show dissatisfaction, it’s not because we are not good, or very good, or very very good. But because I believe this team can seek perfection, creating a different level of football, that had never been witnessed before.

Ramzi Tanani

The Ultimate Game: Get Inside Guardiola's head

With Frank Rijkaard you couldn't get any honour by predicting Barcelona's starting line-up. Even hockey moms could. But this has dramatically changed last summer. Until this very day, nobody has been able to crack the code of Josep Guardiola's brain. Nor has anyone got inside his sleeves.

So this is your chance to prove not only your knowledge about the game of football but also your psychological insight:


This is not (as in: N-O-T) a place for discussion on team tactics or personal player preferences. You just give the system and the eleven names you think will start the game against Almería on Sunday.

You put them in the right position, so using the 4-3-3 (or whatever you think they will play) and putting the players from the right to the left, so the right back defender is your first name after the goalkeeper. If your line-up isn't clear, my interpretation counts.

Don't forget to add your (nick)name by clicking Name/URL under the comment box and fill it in, otherwise your after-game claim to glory will be dismissed.

You can give your starting line-up until four hours before the start of the game, in this case: until 5:00 pm barcelona time.

If you give your line-up before Guardiola announes his match list (or if at least 20 players are included in the match list or if I decide so), you get one point for the correct line-up. If you do it after that announcement, you get half a point. Who will have the most points at the end of the season, can call himself the winner.

This is the 35th time this game is organized.



mario ch
B. Beltrocco

Dan R



Barca nike


Cristi M
kamikaze kontiki
M4V3R1K's blog
Cali Socis

Knives Out
blaugrana poland

Number of the day: 4


number of yellow cards given during the Champions League game against Lyon
as a consequence of a fault made on Andrés Iniesta

Benzema will stay at Lyon next season

Asked about the rumours linking him with several European top clubs among which Barcelona (read more here), Olympique Lyon forward and French international Karim Benzema (21) has said at a press conference today that he will stay at least one more year with his club:

"I will stay at Lyon. I still have a lot of work to do, to make some steps forwards. I'm very good here at Lyon, the club takes part in the Champions League each season, I'm well-integrated. I will stay at Lyon next season.

I made my decision before the tie with Barcelona, although the games confirmed what I thought. I had said that I would made it after the 1/8 finals but I said that without thinking. I shouldn't have said that. Honestly, I've always wanted to stay with Lyon even when some bad results have made me doubt a little.

I still have to learn a lot, both on and off the pitch, before I join an absolute top team. I still have a long way to go. It's not that I don't feel ready. It's mainly mentally that I have to make progress. I'm only 21 years old, it's only my second season as starter at Lyon. I have plenty of years left to go to another club.

The results of Lyon this season won't have an influence. It's about me and the progress I still have to make to reach the highest level. The World Cup in 2010 didn't really influence my decision. I think president Aulas is relieved with my decision. But, together with my father, I already talked with him before. I have a career plan and my stay here hasn't ended."

Read more:
Abidal doesn't want to be part of Benzema deal
Txiki talks about the summer transfer market
Barcelona in pole position for Benzema

Barça Classic: Barcelona-Chelsea (april 2000)

Uploaded by odn-barca4life

Medical: Jorquera out for at least one week

Barcelona's medical staff has announced today that Barcelona goalkeeper Albert Jorquera (30) has sprained the external lateral ligament of his left ankle during yesterday's training session.

The Catalan goalkeeper is expected to be out for seven to ten days. This would mean that he won't be available for the league game against Almería and possibly also for the one against Málaga.

Read more:
Medical: Puyol out for three weeks
Medical: Milito joins group training
Medical: Abidal out for two months

The Pictures: Lyon (part 2)

(click on a picture to enlarge)

(click on a picture to enlarge)

part 1

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