What would signing Eric Garcia mean for Barcelona?

It would appear that Barcelona are keen to re-sign Eric Garcia from Manchester City if reports are accurate.

The youngster learned his craft at La Masia but was tempted by a move to Manchester because of the carrot of being able to get first-team minutes under his belt. Something that wasn’t available to him at Barca at the time.

With a year left on his contract, Garcia has some thinking to do. Continue reading

Has Samuel Umtiti played his last game for Barcelona?

Unless Barcelona suffer a spate of injuries in the centre of defence over the next couple of games, it’s hard to see where Samuel Umtiti gets a look in after his horrific performance against Celta Vigo on Saturday.

The Frenchman was once an undisputed starter for the Catalans but hasn’t been the same since sustaining a knee injury which he decided to treat holistically rather than allowing Barca’s club doctors to sort the problem out. Continue reading

Fan Zone: Jason on Barcelona legends Cruyff & Messi, El Clasico and more!

Jason Pettigrove is a well established author and sports journalist as well as a content editor at FC Barcelona. Jason’s love affair with Barcelona goes back several decades and covers the tough, the good and the great eras of the Catalan club.

In the first part of the Q&A which is published below, Jason touches upon the connection he built with the club as well as his favorite Barca players and matches. Feel free to discuss the main points from the Q&A and to connect with Jason and Rami Soufi via their Twitter profiles.

1) You’ve been a Barcelona fan for quite some time. What made you support Barca?

I’ll try and shorten a long story! I went on holiday to Lloret de Mar in the mid 1970s with my parents, and the Barça shirt was the first one I bought. I saw the Camp Nou and also brought home some posters of Johan Cruyff, Johan Neeskens and Sotil to put up on my wall, as well as a Barça pennant.

When I was old enough to go to watch football, West Ham were my local team so I followed them for many years. My eldest son, who is now 25, played at the West Ham academy from the ages of 8-12, but he was bullied incessantly by his coach. It got to the point where I had to complain to the Premier League, and was astounded by the club’s attitude.

The week after he walked off of the pitch in disgust at his treatment, leaving football behind in the process, I was in Barcelona to see my first match at the Camp Nou – the 2007 El Clásico where Lionel Messi scored his first hat-trick. Barça were always my first love, but that was the point when I began to properly support them.

2) Who are your 3 all-time favorite Barca players and why? 

Lionel Messi – A player who can do it all and still be better than anyone else while do it all on the attacking front. Goals, assists, dribbling, passing, etc you name it and Messi can do it! Biggest point is we should remember that to be at the very top for as long as he has is astonishing as well.

Johan Cruyff – The Dutchman was perhaps the master. As a player he took the Blaugranes on a long journey which he would later complete as a coach when he guided them to their first European Cup while creating what was referred to as the Dream Team.

Pep Guardiola – From ball-boy to record breaking coach is probably the best way to describe Guardiola’s incredible journey with Barca. An imperious captain and a member of the Cruyff teams in the 1990s. Pep would later prove to be a managerial genius as shown by the titles won under his guidance between 2008 and 2012.

3) Name your favorite Barca player by position. One each from DEF/MID/ATT.

DEF – Gerard Pique – Once regarded as a bit of an afterthought next to club skipper Carles Puyol, Pique has matured into the consummate central defender. As big a part of the success over the last decade, his absence often corresponded with a drop in form defensively and exposed Barca’s back four.

MID – Arthur Melo – Although I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Arthur yet, he gives the team balance and purpose. The ‘new Xavi’ moniker is probably a little unfair, but the team looks so much more in control in the middle of the park with Arthur on the pitch.

Attack – Messi – The phrase ‘Messi-dependence’ is a little overused in my opinion, but
there’s little doubt he is the conduit through which all good things come. He is not just the team’s attacking spark and a football genius, but he is also the glue that holds the team together.

4) Most important Barca victory in your lifetime? Why?

That’s a very tough one as there have been a few important wins and for a number of different reasons. I think I will go with the 1992 Champions League win at Wembley. Simply put, for a world class club with world class players, it had taken them until then to reach the pinnacle in Europe.

Winning the cup got a huge monkey off of the club’s back, and though they probably
should’ve won more than they have since, that victory was a huge turning point.

5) Your all-time favorite Barca match? Why?

I’ll give you two. First, the 3-3 draw in El Clásico that I mentioned earlier. It happens to be my first live Barça match and also Messi’s first hat-trick not to mention the atmosphere that was as good as I’ve ever known.

Second, the 2011 Champions League final. I was lucky enough to be there, and it remains the best 90 minutes of football I think I’ve seen, or will ever see. Pep’s Barça at their absolute peak, and there was nothing Sir Alex Ferguson’s Man United could do about it.

6) Pick two from Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele, and Antoine Griezmann for your team, and why?

For the short term, it would have to be Suarez and Dembele. Although El Pistolero is getting on a bit, he still knows where the goal is, and a lack of pace hasn’t dimmed his excellence in sticking the ball in the back of the net.

Dembele has had his critics, and I’ve been one of them, but there’s little doubt that he is a top player when he’s free of injury. I’m looking forward to seeing how he gets on
when he returns.

7) Pick two from Arthur, Frankie de Jong, Busquets, Rakitic and Arturo Vidal, and why?

Easy one here- Arthur and Frenkie de Jong. The future of Barça’s midfield. Rakitic has been a fine servant and doesn’t deserve the heat he’s getting at the moment, but the time has come for him to move. Vidal is a breath of fresh air, but if the club can get some decent money for him, his sale is a no brainer. Busi only doesn’t get in because he’s coming to the end of his career and, sadly, isn’t quite the player he once was.

8) What are Barca’s weaknesses? Some single out the full-back positions while many point to the central defensive pair being shaky with Pique slowing down. Some mention Neymar’s departure. Others refer to over dependence on Messi. Thoughts?

I think what makes Barça great is also their weakness. Full-backs pushing too far up and being susceptible and getting caught on the break, a willingness to always look for Messi when often there will be better options available, possession for possession’s sake which, though incredibly pleasing on the eye, needs to have more of a purpose sometimes.

9) Who is in your opinion the best player to ever wear the Barca shirt?

As with other questions here, it has to be Messi for me. Whatever he is asked to do, he does it better than all others. His goal-scoring exploits and his magical assists will stand the test of time, and his passing ability is beyond comparison. There hasn’t been another player in the history of football that ‘had it all.’

Barcelona must prioritise Pique’s successor

Time and again we are told of Barcelona’s dependance on Lionel Messi and how they wouldn’t be close to the same team without his influence.

That is ostensibly true of course, but there are other players in the team that are coming to the end of their professional careers and for whom the Catalans will find just as hard to replace.

One of those is their central defender, Gerard Pique. Continue reading

There’ll never be another Gerard Pique

He’s been making waves in the tennis world recently, and his acknowledgment that he only gets four hours sleep a night hasn’t gone down well with his employers, but Barcelona are lucky to have Gerard Pique.

The elegant Catalan has been a rock at the heart of the Barca defence for the last decade, and it’s fair to say that he’s the glue that has held the back four together over the last few years.

It wasn’t always like that mind. Continue reading

Long way back for Umtiti

It wasn’t that long ago that Samuel Umtiti was a fixture in Barcelona’s back four. An untouchable player and one of the first on the team sheet.

He’d taken to La Liga effortlessly and, considering how prices for players have sky-rocketed, at just €25m, he looked like an absolute bargain.

His skillset also complemented that of Gerard Pique perfectly, and there were never any question marks over his starting spot in the team.

In the space of a year, all that has changed. Continue reading

Attack still the best form of defence at Barcelona

Screenshot 2019-06-30 at 21.37.43

Here we are just a week away from the start of pre-season for FC Barcelona, and with the focus at the club very much on the front line.

Though a left-back is still sought to provide competition for Jordi Alba, the technical department seem hell bent on getting attacking signings in through the front door first.

Didn’t anyone tell the club that any title-winning team worth its salt is built on a solid defence?

Barca did ok for the most part in that respect in 2018/19, but when the going got tough… Continue reading

Top LaLiga Defenders in 2018/19 – Gerard Pique

Gerard Pique

Gerard Pique was this season’s second-highest scoring defender in fantasy LaLiga, coming in just one point behind his Barcelona and Spain teammate, Jordi Alba.

Pique finished the season with a total of 83 fantasy football points which was a good return for a defender costing a relatively cheap 7.5 million.

The former Manchester United player started at centre-back for Barcelona in 35 of their 38 league games in 2018/19. He received six yellow cards and zero red cards throughout the season.

From an attacking point of view, Pique contributed four league goals and two assists as Barcelona strolled to an 11-point LaLiga title victory. Continue reading

Is it the end for Samuel Umtiti at Barcelona?

Screenshot 2019-05-14 18.46.39

There was a time, not so long ago, when Samuel Umtiti was considered untouchable at Barcelona.

One of a select band of players that, come hell or high water, were not going anywhere.

Part of the furniture might be an apt description for the Frenchman at that point.

But how quickly things can change… Continue reading

Week 37: Best 11 Players of the Weekend in Fantasy La Liga

BOR(1)

Just one team- Barcelona won from the top 3 as they increased their lead at the top to 11 points over Atletico Madrid. Real Madrid lost again as they just want the season to end but they will finish in 3rd anyway and be ready for the Champions League.

But the excitement is all about who will get that 4th and final Champions League spot. Currently Valencia have 58 points and lead on goal difference from Getafe who also have 58 points and there is also Sevilla in the mix with 56.

Below we take a look at the best performers of this past weekend in La Liga- did you have them in your team?

Formation 4-4-2.

Goalkeeper: Diego Lopez- Espanyol

Diego Lopez has kept his 2nd clean sheet in a row after Espanyol beat Leganes 2-0 to go into 9th place. Lopez gained 7 points at the weekend and now is valued at 4m.

Defender: Jordi Alba- Barcelona

Yet another clean sheet for Jordi Alba and that is why he is rated as the best defender in La Liga Fantasy rankings. 5 points earned as Barcelona eased to a  2-0 win over Getafe.

Defender: Gerard Pique-Barcelona

People talk about Lionel Messi and the main reason that Barcelona have retained their league title. But the pairing of Alba and Pique at the back for the club has been instrumental, and their chemistry is unique. Pique made some great tackles and earned 5 points and his value is 7.5m.

Defender: Roberto Rosales- Espanyol

Roberto Rosales seemed like he was at the heart of everything happening for Espanyol as he helped to keep another clean sheet for the team who are now inside the top 10. Espanyol beat Leganes 2-0 and Rosales is valued at 5.5m.

Defender: Jaume Costa- Villarreal

Jaume Costa starred in Villarreal’s vital 1-0 win over Eibar which now guarantees the club safety for next season. Costa has 22 points for the season and is valued at 6.5m.

Midfielder: Raul Garcia- Athletic Bilbao 

Raul Garcia earned 8 points for Bilbao as they beat Celta Vigo 3-1 to shoot up into a Europa League spot. Garcia had the weekend of his season though as he scored the opening 2 goals of the game for his club including a penalty. Garcia is valued at 8m and has acquired 41 points.

Midfielder: Joaquin Sanchez- Real Betis

Sanchez was influential as the midfielder earned 7 points at the weekend to take his total tally to 37. He scored both of Real Betis’ goals including getting a last minute winner in a memorable weekend for the player.

Midfielder: Arturo Vidal- Barcelona

Vidal earned 5 points to make this team for league leaders Barcelona who brushed aside Getafe 2-0. Vidal got the opening goal and that was his 3rd of the season for the Catalan giants.

Midfielder: Sarabia- Sevilla

Sarabia continues to be an outstanding player for Sevilla and earned 4 points at the weekend. The player is ranked as the best midfielder in La Liga Fantasy rankings with 87 points and is valued at 7m. Sevilla just remain outside of a Champions League place and drew against Atletico Madrid 1-1 at the weekend.

Striker: Borja Iglesias- Espanyol

Borja Iglesias earned a brilliant 8 points as Espanyol beat Leganes 2-0 and the striker scored both goals including a nervous penalty which sealed all the three points. He has 69 points for the season and has scored a terrific 17 goals, claiming to be one of the best forwards in Spain right now.

Striker: Enes Unal- Real Valladolid

Enes Unal wouldn’t see his name on a player of the weekend too much but the Rayo Valladolid player opened the scoring against Vallecano and then assisted in his team’s 2-1 win over the club. Unal has 23 points and is rated at 5.5m.

Think you know Spanish football? Play https://liga-fantasy.com now!