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Kevin Prince Boateng (KPB), At Nearly 32, The Newest Member of FC Barcelona January 22, 2019

Posted by michaeltomlinson in FC Barcelona, Spanish soccer.
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Apparently Boateng is as surprised as anyone by his return to the La Liga. But it may not be as odd as everyone is making it out to be.

kpb

The departure of Munir, and the ongoing tumultuous stint of Malcom at the Blaugrana has left a hole in the depth up-front at Barca. There had been talks of Carlos Vela leaving the MLS for a La Liga return, but those cooled leading up to this, seemingly out of no-where signing. Boateng joins the Catalan side from mid-table Serie A outfit, Sassoulo where he has netted 4, and assisted 2 in just 11 appearances. By all accounts KPB was as surprised as anyone, admitting he wanted to “run to Barcelona” upon being informed of their interest. That interest seemed to be expressed as late as Saturday, and the loan-to by option was sorted and he was announced by the club Tuesday. Barcelona has the option to buy the 31-year-old attacker after the season for a reasonable $10 million price-tag. These string of roster additions are just what every Barcelona pundit would have predicted for the 2018-19 season, a coming together of Arturo Vidal and Kevin Prince Boateng. Two enigmatic journey-men known for their individual flair and on-field intensity.

KPB was brought in mainly to serve as a back-up to Suarez on the left side of the front line. And while in the past Barcelona has shied away from large on-field personalities in favor of their tactical system driven personnel decisions, you could argue since the addition of Neymar there has been a shift in the front office’s approach. This shift in what some describe as the club’s “ethos,” is often linked to Barcelona’s famed academy, “La Masia” not producing first team players at the same rate that Catalan side is accustomed to.

Regardless of any ideological shifts within Barcelona, as an organization Boateng is still a talented scorer and creative attacker with a lot left in the tank. If he can replicate what Vidal has brought to the side thus far his loan period, and potential singing could be a revelation for both club and player.

Barcelona 8-2 Huesca. How it happened September 7, 2018

Posted by michaeltomlinson in FC Barcelona, Spanish soccer, Tactics.
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How does a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute turn into an 8-2 loss? On Sunday Huesca gave managers, players, and fans alike a crash course on how to make that happen.

Barca’s 8:

  1. They say a first goal is a sign of things to come, in this case, it was a lightly defended Lionel Messi at the top of the box, with just one man to beat. Messi, of course, slalomed past the now stumbling and falling defender and slotted his effort into the bottom left corner, with his wildly inferior right foot.
  2. An abundance of space, not just for Messi, but for everyone in a Blaugrana shirt, and especially down the flanks set up the second. Undone by an own goal, Huesca allowed a Jordi Alba run with plenty of space, but with very few teammates in-tow. So instead, the industrious fullback, from just outside the goalmouth sent a short pass off the foot of Jorge Pulido, and past the keeper.
  3. Same story as the second, far too much space to run into for Jordi Alba. Not to say work didn’t need to be done, but once Coutinho beat three defenders with a perfectly weighted 25-yard ball it was a simple low cross from Alba to a neat and tidy finish from El Pistolero. Suarez’ first goal of the 2018-19 campaign.HALFTIME 3-2 Barcelona (Huesca brought one back right before half)

     

  4. Just seconds being saved by the head of Huesca’s goalkeeper, Werner, on a rocketed volley by Messi from 6 yards out, Huesca was again beaten by the through ball. This time Suarez connected with Dembele straight into the left side of the box where the French international calmly placed his shot far post.
  5. Inventive pass from Messi dinked over the top of 3 defenders just outside the box to an on-coming Rakatic who sent home a picture-perfect half-volley from a tough angle 15 yards out.
  6. Coutinho with a through ball from the defensive half, beating a horrifically positioned Huesca center-back pairing. Messi gathered some 40 yards from goal beats a defender on his hip and slides one past Werner’s left to the bottom right corner.
  7. Did I mention Jordi Alba had a lot of space down the left? Well he did, a simple run past, um no one and a lead pass from Messi led to a tight angled tap past the keeper.
  8. PENALTY! Just what the game needed. Suarez taken down by the goalkeeper, Werner in the corner of the box. Like every Gerard Pique moment later in the game was itching to score, but alas Suarez took his own pen and ended it.

Adriano in doubt for derby October 30, 2013

Posted by michaeltomlinson in Spanish soccer.
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As reported by the Barcelona website, Adriano is doubtful against Espanyol… This will likely force Montoya into the LB role with Alba out…. In a shocking twist Barcelona is having trouble staying healthy in defense. No one saw this coming, When asked how Carles Puyol felt about all the piling up injuries he replied, “shocked.”… Probably…

Transfer deadline extravaganza!!! September 2, 2013

Posted by michaeltomlinson in Dutch soccer, English soccer, European soccer, French soccer, German soccer, Italian soccer, Spanish soccer, Transfer news.
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The unofficial FIFA Transfer deadline day thread, unofficially endorsed by Sepp Blatter’s jowls!

– Mesut Ozil just needs to pass a physical in Munich and he is set for a $42 million dollar move to Arsenal. It is said the he is set to make 6 million a year under the terms of his new contract with the North London club.                                                                                                         —          UPDATE 1: Check out Real Madrid fan’s chanting “Don’t sell Ozil as Perez announces Bale. What is his reaction you ask? To “Shhhhh” them of course. This is a must watch!


 

– Everton head man, Roberto Martinez isn’t ruling out keeping Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini amidst multiple reports Manchester United are keen on signing him. If this is true there reports this could free up $15 million necessary for the Toffees to bring Porto man, Fernando to the Merseyside.

– UNIMPRESSIVE MANCHESTER CITY NEWS!
Manchester City’s 20-year-old striker Harry Bunn joins Sheffield United on a month’s loan, according to the Premier League club’s Twitter feed. (external) In addition, 21-year-old midfielder Mohammed Abu joins Denmark’s Aarhus until the end of December.

– Liverpool has seemingly lost out to Atletico Madrid for the services of Ajax defender Toby Alderweireld. The talented 24 year old Belgian centerback spurned offers from many English sides to join Atletico for an undisclosed fee.

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Madrid’s latest Bale offer 93 million… Pounds, wait POUNDS? August 20, 2013

Posted by michaeltomlinson in English soccer, European soccer, Media, Spanish soccer.
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Yes, for us red meat eating, God fearing, likely obese Americans that comes out to around 145 million USD.. Or roughly the asking price of the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey franchise. Hell I could nearly buy an island the size of Great Britain for that much. That, or a fancy footballer from the most inconsequential country within it’s border. This news comes from a reliable source known as “twitter,” which is a large social networking site known for making it’s users be concise. When asked about it’s credibility Wikipedia responded, “Looks legit.” You heard it here first…………

Neymar signs for… Oregon State University? May 31, 2013

Posted by michaeltomlinson in Brazilian soccer, MLS, Spanish soccer.
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The Brazilian starlet was all but destined to be Barcelona’s next great South American star. Instead, Neymar has decided to take his talent South beac… Err Corvallis, Oregon! As pictured below the 21-year-old striker has closely monitored the progression of Portland Timbers GREAT Ryan Johnson and has decided to take on 4 years of eligibility, just like former OSU stand-out, Johnson. This of course makes a lot of sense due to a recent independent study which I just made up that says  U.S. soccer players have a 74% chance to be more successful in the pro ranks if they opt for the college route. A couple more interesting statistics, Neymar is now 69% more likely to puke immediately following a beer bong attempt gone wrong, but is also 93% less likely to contract gonorrhea after a transexual orgy… We all have our vices.

Is winning with proactive soccer a bigger accomplishment than winning by counterattacking? December 10, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in Chilean soccer, Spanish soccer, Tactics.
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I got to thinking about this after reading the final paragraphs of Nicholas Rosano’s excellent article about Universidad de Chile and its coach Jorge Sampaoli on SB Nation.

(Counter-attacking) has proven the recipe for teams outside of Argentina and Brazil to compete for the big boys in South America’s premier competition, but Sampaoli’s team seem intent on trying something different.

If Universidad de Chile can take down the big sides in Argentina and Brazil in both the Copa Sudamericana and Copa Libertadores while playing (proactive soccer), it will be a fantastic accomplishment.

I suppose it is; I certainly accepted it automatically on reading that, but then I got to struggling for a reason.

Attacking soccer is harder to pull off. It mostly centers around ball possession, and when you think about it, ball possession requires not only skill and tremendous teamwork, but also morale. You need to have confidence in your own ability and the ability of the teammate you’re passing to in order to play possession football successfully. So a coach needs to:

  1. Excavate players who are technically proficient enough to keep control of the ball
  2. Create an environment in which those players are familiar enough with their teammates’ movement to anticipate where they should pass the ball on the field.
  3. Devise a system that allows those players to exploit their talents.
  4. Inspire those players to belief in not only themselves, but also their teammates and the system they’re playing.
  5. Do this better than his opponent.

This is enough to make you wonder why people do it at all, but the answer is easy: proactive football played well enough is more effective. It also might explain why Barcelona is so successful: players who have grown up together or in the same system will more readily anticipate their teammates’ movement, and the shared experience will make it easier to motivate them. That very upbringing also emphasizes technique. When you throw in a coach who also has the same background, you’ve got far readier ground for a world-beating side. At almost any other club, you’d need to start pretty much where Barcelona was at the beginning of the 1990s to get where Barcelona is today.

EURO 2012 Preview #4: Del Bosque tries to add even more central midfielders November 16, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in Euro 2012, Spanish soccer.
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Spain is a team for purists. I’m not having this participation by the likes of Sergio Ramos and David Villa. Look it up: they are not central midfielders. For the pure expression of Spain’s style, you need more than they’ve been playing. Pep Guardiola’s experiments with six central midfielders are brave, but they’re not enough. Spain needs more. Vicente Del Bosque knows this. This is what he has in store:

(more…)

So Newcastle United’s success is just a shadowy conspiracy to shift tracksuits. November 12, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer, European soccer, French soccer, Spanish soccer.
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This may look like an urbane midfield prompter, but actually it is a tracksuit billboard.

Daniel Harris on FCF proffered this explanation for Newcastle’s recent French signings:

Mike Ashley owns Sports Direct, whose main European competitor is Decathlon, a French company. Thus Newcastle buy French players, who can then be marketed in France as “Sports Direct”, wearing the tat and speaking in French, allowing Ashley to sell more towelling socks and tracksuits.

Plausible enough, if a bit too tidy:

Also true:

  • Venezuela uses no Qatari oil for some reason. The emirate’s sheikhs are desperate to break into the South American country’s market, so desperate they’ll try anything. Including a multi-million euro takeover of the club that happens to employ the country’s star striker Salomon Rondon, Malaga. Step one: buy Malaga. Step two: capture baseball-mad Venezuela’s imagination with Rondon’s endorsement. Step three: every hip young kid in Caracas is sporting Qatari oil.
  • Like many people, Suleyman Kerimov may one day need to flee Vladimir Putin’s wrath. What’s a Dagestani billionaire to do? Well, maybe pay a king’s ransom to bring Cameroon’s biggest soccer superstar to his personal top-division football club, Anzhi Makachkala. That way, when Putin’s goons come knocking, he’ll have a sunny, reasonably stable African state willing to welcome him with open arms. Goodbye freezing Dagestan, hello sunny Limbe Beach, Douala, Cameroon! Thank you, Samuel Eto’o.
  • Bill Kenwright actually has loads of money stashed away, waiting to invest it in Everton. But the theater producer has a love of the dramatic and, what’s more, his nephew Gus would do an amazing job in the role of David Moyes. The lower the club gets, the better the story. Twenty years down the line, he’ll make it into the biggest play Merseyside has ever known!

Just think of how good Barcelona and Real Madrid might be without messed-up internal politics. October 20, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in Spanish soccer.
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Gonzalo Higuain (center) suffers because he is associated with former Madrid president Ramon Calderon. Probably his association with Alfredo Di Stefano is not a problem.

Reading Sid Lowe’s most recent Sports Illustrated column about the debate over whether G0nzalo Higuain or Karim Benzema should start for Real Madrid, I was struck by what seems like a fundamental institutional weakness at that club: politics can play itself out in team selection.

It shouldn’t be that the identity of the president that purchased a player dictates whether he’s selected. If that even becomes a shadow of a consideration, the team is poorer for it.

I’m a Barcelona fan, though, so I would say that, but it’s supposedly happened at Barcelona too. Joan Laporta was chiefly responsible for bringing Samuel Eto’o to Barcelona; his political rival Sandro Rossell was instrumental in persuading Ronaldinho to sign. In Ronaldinho’s best years, he was surrounded by fellow Brazilians — Edmilson, Thiago Motta, Juliano Belletti, Sylvinho and the Brazilian-born Deco. In two years, Barcelona sold every one of Ronaldinho’s compatriots and brought in a group of players who, like Eto’o, spoke French — Thierry Henry, Yaya Toure, Eric Abidal and Seydou Keita (plus Lilian Thuram, who was already at the club). The rumor is that this was an intentional move to weaken Rossell and strengthen Laporta. The year when it began, 2007-8, was also Barcelona’s least successful under Frank Rijkaard.

It’s a wonder these clubs ever win anything.