Posts Tagged ‘ FC Barcelona ’

Fear and Loathing in La Liga

fear loathing la liga

Fear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona, Real Madrid, and the World’s Greatest Sports Rivalry, Sid Lowe

When I covered and watched La Liga extensively, Sid Lowe’s Monday La Liga column for the Guardian was a must read. Plus his appearances on Football Weekly and other podcasts brought me up to speed on the league and also gave greater depth.

His book on the these eternal rivals is a fantastic read. A book on either one would be a big enough task but to take both of them head on must have seemed overwhelming. Lowe does a wonderful job guiding the reader through the years, usually taking a particular person or moment to build up the era for the clubs. There is extensive research and discussion into the Di Stefano signing, and I also appreciated the time taken to explain the impact of the Civil War on each city and club, something that’s too often categorized as good/bad, impact/no impact. Everyone in the country was affected and Lowe explains how this moment in Spanish history rippled throughout the following decades.

I really enjoyed this read and further readings will continue to fill in the history of these two historic clubs.

FC Barcelona Strip Club posts

fc-barcelona-logo-wallpaper

FC Barcelona Dollar Date (2012/13 Preview)

FC Barcelona Dollar Dance (2011/12 Preview)

FC Barcelona Home 2007/08

Mileage Edition (FC Barcelona Home 2003/04)

ATF Edition (FCB Centenary Jersey 1999)

Half and Half Edition (FC Barcelona Home 1997/98)

Strip Club–Half and Half Edition (Long Version)

In the summer of 1997, Dutchman Louis van Gaal took over at FC Barcelona from Bobby Robson, with the team coming off a relatively successful season—second in the league, Copa del Rey winners and Cup Winners’ Cup winners.  In the off season Ronaldo had moved to Inter after one amazing campaign with the Blaugrana, but not to worry as the lineup was chock full of stars, including Vítor Baía, Ferrer, Fernández, Guardiola, Couto, Óscar García, Luís Figo, Hristo Stoichkov, Sonny Anderson, Giovanni, Rivaldo, Sergi Barjuán, Guillermo Amor, Pizzi, Nadal, Luis Enrique, Reiziger, and Iván de la Peña.

luis enrique

After falling to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup at the beginning of the season, this assembly of talent went on to win the Spanish Double.  The team got off to a fast start and led the league nearly the entire season, eventually securing the title by nine points over Athletic Bilbao, who had a made a late surge up the table.  Watching the league goals from that season, Luis Enrique was a machine, it was a reminder of how good Rivaldo was, and there were some fantastic goals against Real Madrid.  One other thing I noticed. . . either FCB wore their home kit almost every match or they could only score in the home strip.

rivaldo

In the Spanish Cup, FCB joined the competition in the Round of 16 and hammered Valencia, Merida and Real Zaragoza on their way to the Final, where they met Real Mallorca in Valencia.  An early goal from Mallorca had Barca on the ropes but Rivaldo, the tournament’s leading scorer, equalized midway through the second half.  Despite Mallorca having two men sent off before extra time started, FCB could not find a winner, having to win on penalties, with each team sending eight kickers to the spot.

In Europe the Blaugrana beat Borussia Dortmund to win the UEFA Super Cup but failed to progress in the Champions League.  Latvian champions Skonto were their opponents in the second qualifying round, and after a tough match at the Nou Camp, a 3-2 win, FCB travelled away and won 1-0 to move on to a group that included Newcastle United, PSV and Dynamo Kyiv.  Barca finished dead last in their group and were hammered 7-0 over two games with Kyiv.  I vaguely remember watching Tino Asprilla’s performance against the Spanish team at St. James Park in which he scored a hat trick (and even found the ESPN highlights with JP and Tommy Smyth).  Watching the highlights again, I was stunned by how Keith Gillespie tortured Sergi on the Newcastle left.

barcelona-97-home-use

This was one of the first jerseys I ever bought.  I can’t even remember if I ordered it from a catalog or found it at a store.  This was the last Kappa strip (who took over for the 1992/93 season) before the switch to Nike, and the Kappa color scheme tended to be more royal blue and bright red rather than the historic blue and claret.  One item I came upon in my research was that during the formation of the club, half the shirt was blue and the other claret, the sleeves were opposite colours and the shorts were white. One of the many theories explaining the origin of the kit colours — blue and scarlet — is that Gamper used the same colours as the Basel team, where he had played before coming to Catalonia. (Courtesey of FC Barcelona).  That season the club also had a European strip, which was an altered version of the home strip.

n_f_c_barcelona_1997_98-939735

The ring collar was a major design change after over 15 years of a standard collar, and the shirt also featured typical Kappa design features for FCB shirts, which included sublimated Barca and Kappa logos throughout the shirt and the Kappa logo down the sleeves.  The shirt is light but the collar is a little itchy so I always have to wear some sort of undershirt.  Blue shorts with the Kappa logo down the sides and blue and red hooped socks complete the strip.

FCB 97 98 strip

Of all of my FCB shirts, this is my least favorite although I like them all.  Nice piece of history though.

Strip Club–Half and Half Edition

 

barcelona-97-home-use

This was one of the first jerseys I ever bought.  I can’t even remember if I ordered it from a catalog or found it at a store.  This was the last Kappa strip (who took over for the 1992/93 season) before the switch to Nike, and the Kappa color scheme tended to be more royal blue and bright red rather than the historic blue and claret.  One item I came upon in my research was that during the formation of the club, half the shirt was blue and the other claret, the sleeves were opposite colours and the shorts were white. One of the many theories explaining the origin of the kit colours — blue and scarlet — is that Gamper used the same colours as the Basel team, where he had played before coming to Catalonia. (Courtesey of FC Barcelona).  That season the club also had a European strip, which was an altered version of the home strip.

n_f_c_barcelona_1997_98-939735

The ring collar was a major design change after over 15 years of a standard collar, and the shirt also featured typical Kappa design features for FCB shirts, which included sublimated Barca and Kappa logos throughout the shirt and the Kappa logo down the sleeves.  The shirt is light but the collar is a little itchy so I always have to wear some sort of undershirt.  Blue shorts with the Kappa logo down the sides and blue and red hooped socks complete the strip.

FCB 97 98 strip

Of all of my FCB shirts, this is my least favorite although I like them all.  Nice piece of history though.

——

For more information on this season, visit the longer version of this post here.

MatchDay Memory: Luis Suarez Then and Now

suarez fcb

Imagine a time in the distant future when a player named Luis Enrique joins FC Barcelona or a new Hughes is signed by Manchester United. That player will inevitably be compared to their predecessor, with the shadow of former glory always hovering around the player. For Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz, who joined FC Barcelona in the summer of 2014, not only was he not the first Luis Suarez to have played for the Blaugrana, but he will probably not be as successful in terms of trophies as his predecessor. On top of this, he also comes with his own unique baggage. I researched both players, looking at their acheivements and examining the impact of one and the future of the other.  The complete series can be found below.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Comments appreciated.  Thanks for reading.

MatchDay Memory: Luis Suarez Then and Now Part III

Imagine a time in the distant future when a player named Luis Enrique joins FC Barcelona or a new Hughes is signed by Manchester United.  That player will inevitably be compared to their predecessor, with the shadow of former glory always hovering around the player.  For Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz, who joined FC Barcelona in the summer of 2014, not only was he not the first Luis Suarez to have played for the Blaugrana, but he will probably not be as successful in terms of trophies as his predecessor.  On top of this, he also comes with his own unique baggage.

Part I  Luis Suarez Miramontes

Part II Luis Alberto Suarez Diaz

——

suarez fcb

In terms of perception, both on and off the field, it seems as if the players couldn’t be more different.  Miramontes was a scorer but also helped supply big time names around him, and similarly Diaz scored goals and created space and opportunities for those around him.  Miramontes’ trophy cabinet was bulging with club honors, but I noticed that Diaz has not won many honors with clubs he has played for.  Furthermore, teams continued to win without him, as Ajax has maintained their cycle of success without him and Nacional continued to win titles without him.  Liverpool is Liverpool and are an outlier.

Luis-Suarez-Balon-de-Oro-.-Mejor-Jugador-de-Europa-de-1960

Off the field, I could find almost nothing on the original Luis Suarez, while the current namesake has a laundry list of controversial episodes.  Part of the reason for his move from Ajax to Liverpool was the seven game suspension he received for biting Otman Bakkal in an Eredivisie game.  Then a year later he was found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra during an English Premier League game and missed eight league games.  Eighteen months after that, a ten game suspension followed for a biting incident against Branislav Ivanovic.  He came back from that and almost led Liverpool to the title before the 2014 World Cup.  That competition saw yet another bite, this time on Giorgio Chiellini of Italy, for which he was suspended worldwide for four months.

Despite a long list of offenses and despite FC Barcelona trying to occupy the moral high ground, the club went through with a transfer for the Uruguyan in the summer of 2014, concluding one of the most expensive deals of all time.  I was against the move on sporting and moral grounds.  From a sporting perspective, I didn’t see how he would fit into the team and there were greater needs that the club should have addressed, mainly in the defense.  They started to reshape the backline with Mathieu and Vermaelen coming in, but more work needed to be done. As for the attack, the club got rid of Sanchez, Cuenca, Bojan and Tello, and brought in Suarez and promoted Sandro and Munir.

Luis+Suarez+FC+Barcelona+v+Club+Leon+O99YbAJeQzZl

Barca’s problems last year were breaking down compact defenses.  With no service from the wings and a bunch of wonderfully gifted midgets trying to pass through nine and ten players, attack after attack broke down and actually set up counters for other teams.  Adding Suarez doesn’t help.  Suarez, Messi and Neymar.  All great players, but there’s only one ball.  I think Messi should be moved back out to the wing and an E’too replacement of the 2006-2009 vintage found.

Then there’s the morality aspect. This player has bitten at least three people.  He has racially abused an opponent.  He has received one of the harshest bans ever from FIFA for this latest incident at the World Cup.  Why is the club signing this guy?  Rob Brown on the Barca Blaugranes site for SB Nation reduces it to its simplest explanation: on the field success.

The current Luis Suarez has a lot to live up to when compared to El Arquitecto. Who knows what will happen on the field.  After reading Wright Thompson’s profile of Luis Suarez Diaz again, I have no idea if the Uruguayan will keep his teeth to himself.  And how will this highly talented player mesh with an astonishing array of attacking talent?  Whereas the Spanish Suarez became an orchestrating midfielder, a precursor to Xavi and Iniesta, El Pistolero will have find his way in an attacking group of Messi, Neymar and Pedro while pushing young, rising stars like Munir, Sandro and Adama and others to the bench or back to Barca B.

MatchDay Memory: Luis Suarez Then and Now Part II (Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz)

Imagine a time in the distant future when a player named Luis Enrique joins FC Barcelona or a new Hughes is signed by Manchester United.  That player will inevitably be compared to their predecessor, with the shadow of former glory always hovering around the player.  For Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz, who joined FC Barcelona in the summer of 2014, not only was he not the first Luis Suarez to have played for the Blaugrana, but he will probably not be as successful in terms of trophies as his predecessor.  On top of this, he also comes with his own unique baggage.

Part I  Luis Suarez Miramontes

——

Moving forward fifty years, the talent of El Pistolero or Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz is undeniable.  From the streets of Salto and Montevideo in Uruguay, Luis Suarez used the beautiful game to escape poverty, eventually securing a spot with Nacional in Uruguay.  After growing as a player and making a name for himself at Nacional, where he helped the club win the 2005–06 Uruguayan League, he was discovered by Dutch club FC Groningen.  As Michiel Jongsma tells the story for Benefoot.net, club representatives were visiting Nacional to look at Elías Figueroa.  They left trying to figure out how to sign Luis Suarez, with the player also looking for a move, as his girlfriend, Sofia Balbi, had moved to Barcelona to study.  So at 19, Suarez headed to Holland, played for Groningen, and averaged nearly a goal every three games.

Ajax came calling and Suarez forced his move to the Dutch giants, scoring over 100 goals in three and a half seasons.  Suarez never won the league in a full season with de Godenzonen, but he did help the club to the 2010 Dutch Cup.  It was during the 2009/10 season that Suarez scored 49 goals in all competitions and won the Dutch Player of the Year award. European success eluded both the club and player during his time there, with their best finish coming in the 2008/09 Europa League in which the squad got to the Round of 16.

Luis-Suarez-ajax

During the winter transfer window of 2011, the Uruguayan player moved to Liverpool with Fernando Torres going to Chelsea.  His arrival was part of a rebuilding project for the storied club, along with Andy Carroll from Newcastle, which finally paid dividends during the 2013/14 season as Suarez’s partnership with Daniel Sturridge saw the Reds finish second and return to the Champions League after a four year absence.  His only silverware with the Merseyside club came in the 2012 League Cup Final.

Luis-Suarez-liverpool

Suarez made his International debut in 2007 and is currently Uruguay’s all-time leading scorer with 41 goals in 79 appearances as of the 2014 World Cup.  He was part of a wonderful cycle that saw Uruguay finish fourth at the 2010 World Cup, losing to the Holland in the Semi Finals.  The following year, La Celeste claimed the Copa America, with Suarez scoring four goals and being named the player of the tournament.  With that success, Uruguay qualified for the 2013 Confederations Cup, making it to the Semis before falling at the hands of the hosts Brazil.

Luis_Suarez uruguay

Heading into the 2014 World Cup, El Pistolero only played two matches after undergoing surgery after the 2013/14 season but knocked out England with two well taken goals, which set up a high pressure game against Italy in the third group game.  He did not score and was involved in an incident with Chiellini, but Uruguay progressed 1-0.  Suarez was suspended for the match against Colombia, who won to move on to the Quarter Finals.