Aleñá could have financed the signing of Eric García (Xavi Hernández Navarro)

Unlike Riqui Puig, who has preferred to bet on Barça, Carles Aleñá instructed his agent, Iván de la Peña, to look for a team in the winter market. Kind of not getting into Ronald Koeman’s plans, the Mataró midfielder ended up agreeing to leave on loan to Getafe, where one of his best friends, Marc Cucurella, plays. But, as ARA has learned, this was the alternative to his first choice, which was to be transferred to Wolverhampton Wanderers. The British offered seven million euros to keep it owned.

The same club that helped clean up Barça’s accounts a few months ago by signing Nélson Semedo for 40 million – in an operation led by Jorge Mendes – tried to go fishing again at the Camp Nou with Aleñá, who was looking forward to trying his luck in English football. , where he would have met Adama Traoré, also trained at La Masia. However, the Barça manager did not see the operation clearly: seven million is just half the market value of the footballer. Carles Tusquets rejected the proposal and, in return, the possibility of depositing money that the entity has now been unable to pay to advance the signing of Eric García, an express request from Koeman and Ramon Planes since Piqué was injured.

“If the club says it is not possible [fer fitxatges d’hivern] for an economic issue, we will continue with what we have until the end of the season “, explained the coach in yesterday’s press conference, hours before seeing the faces in the Barça offices with Tusquets and the three aspirants to the Koeman made a last-ditch attempt to repatriate Garcia in the short term despite the institution’s financial difficulties in considering any investment, the power vacuum that exists in the absence of elections, and the debate among the candidates. on whether or not it is appropriate to make an effort for a footballer whose contract expires on June 30. The Dutchman’s will was thwarted by a lack of consensus.

Joan Laporta, who always tries not to make judgments about Koeman, is not in favor of spending now and is betting on the free arrival of García in the summer window. The former president is in tune with Toni Freixa. Víctor Font, on the other hand, had a terrible day. “Eric is a unique case. The sports structure insists on the need to arrive now and it must be a possible investment, as there are no transition seasons at Barça,” said the candidate, who proposed to satisfy the ‘coach with a formula to pay for the modest transfer of Garcia – five million fixed – in installments. On the other hand, the footballer was pressing to be able to leave City now, as he has to play the European Championship between the eyebrows.

Rotations against the Cornellà

Beyond this debate, Koeman wants his Barça to take flight in the Copa del Rey after Sunday’s painful defeat in the Super Cup. Barça visit Cornellà in a single match with the casualties of Leo Messi due to suspension and Sergiño Dest due to injury in connection with the match against Athletic. “We know there can be surprises. It will be complicated, because they will play the game of the year and we are not used to artificial turf, for example. We will have to face the appointment with seriousness and mentality,” said the Dutchman. which has summoned more players from the subsidiary than usual and will make rotations that will reward the less usual ones, such as Junior, Trincao or Pjanic. Especially the lane, Jordi Alba’s substitute, still has options to leave in January. Several Spanish clubs have been interested in taking it on loan.


Florentino inaugurates another ‘low cost’ market (Martí Molina)

Real Madrid have wanted to advance to many major European clubs and are about to close the hiring of defender David Alaba. As he advanced Brand, the Bayern player, whose contract expires this summer and who broke off negotiations to renew with the Bavarian club, has already reached an agreement to arrive at the Bernabéu free. He would sign for four seasons with an annual salary of eleven million, the newspaper added. With this agreement, which has not yet been confirmed by Real Madrid, President Florentino Pérez is inaugurating a transfer market that, if the forecasts are met, will stand out for its low-cost operations, transfers and exchanges. Just in line with what happened in the summer of 2020.

Alaba’s father, George, denied the German newspaper picture that all the paperwork had already been signed. He acknowledged, however, that the whites are the ones best placed to get the services of the versatile 28-year-old Austrian footballer, who can play both on defense and as a winger. Liverpool was one of the clubs that had shown the most interest in the player, and had also been in the orbit of Barça, to the point that a verbal agreement had been published in some media between Alaba and Víctor’s candidacy. Source, which is denied from Yes to the Future. “There was nothing pairing up,” they nuance.

The covid punctures the bubble

The coronavirus has turned the football world upside down and punctured the bubble of a sport where everything was estimated at tens of millions. Clubs have had to tighten their belts and adjust their budgets downwards, and sports salaries have been one of the plots most affected. Without going any further, Barça had to negotiate a 30% salary delay with their stars in order to square the numbers of a course where, at the Camp Nou, more than 300 million euros will be lost in terms of income.

It is never a good time to face a financial crisis. However, at Barça this delicate economic situation has come in a context in which the club needs to renovate the locker room, which will be difficult to carry out, at least as quickly as it would take at the Camp Nou. One of the operations that best reflects this problem is the frustrated signing of Eric García. In the summer, the Catalan club already refused to incorporate the Catalan defender because it did not have the 15 million requested by Manchester City, even if it was paying it on comfortable terms. It will not arrive in this winter market either, after the meeting between the three presidential candidates (Joan Laporta, Víctor Font and Toni Freixa) and the management board (chaired by Carles Tusquets) ended without an agreement – the sky blue team was now asking about five million for the player. Therefore, the footballer, if he returns to the Camp Nou, will be from next season, at zero cost, once the contract with City expires.

Signing up and selling, a headache

On the other hand, at Barça there are not only problems with signing. Also to remove ballast. Last summer he could not enter everything he wanted in terms of transfers and could not find a buyer for players like Coutinho, who did not enter the plans of the sports secretariat. This year’s budget, reformulated once the agreement with the players has been closed in terms of salary, was expected to be sold before June 30 worth 80 million euros, a figure that now seems difficult to achieve .

FIFA estimated in September that transfers would fall by an average of 30% and the ECA added that turnover in major European leagues would fall by around 4 billion as a result of the pandemic. These numbers, however, were made when the second wave of the covid had not even arrived and all countries were confident of being able to make the stadium public before Christmas. With the current situation the forecasts will be much more pessimistic, admit the sources consulted.

The dilemma shared by Sergio Ramos and Leo Messi

The problems are universal. The more money a club made, the bigger the kick-off and the more effort had to be made to balance the numbers in the treasury. If in the European leagues salaries accounted for almost 63% of the budget, with the covid has exceeded 70%, above the security threshold proposed by the football estates. It is not surprising, then, that, in addition to the salary adjustment, many clubs look favorably on getting rid of some of their franchise players to balance the accounts. This is the case, for example, at Paris Saint-Germain, where its sporting director, Leonardo, acknowledged France Football that, due to the pandemic, “PSG does not currently have the means to pay for the team’s two stars, Neymar and Mbappé”. So, for the first time, I opened the exit to one of the two, which seemed unthinkable a few months ago.


Who is the bearded trumpeter who pulled Messi out of his thumbs?

After the disappointing defeat in the Spanish Super Cup, Barça will also regret not being able to count on Leo Messi for the sanction he has lost due to the red card he saw in La Cartuja, a punishment he had never received in the his career. The Argentine will eventually have to serve a two-match suspension, a minor injury considering he was exposed to four games away. However, the club will write an appeal today with documentary evidence to reduce the penalty and try to make the striker only lose the commitment of Thursday’s Cup against Cornellà.

Gil Manzano will go down in history as the first referee to take Messi out of a match. And Asier Villalibre, as the person responsible for kicking the 10-yarder with the ball in play. Known as the Buffalo of Gernika, the Athletic Club striker is a unique character. In unrefined forms on the green, outside the playing fields he expresses himself by singing and playing the trumpet. Yes, the same metal wind instrument he pulled out to liven up Marcelino’s team celebration. A party that he made possible first by scoring a goal that led the game to extra time, then causing the expulsion of the main danger of Barça and, finally, encouraging his teammates for lack of public in the stands. This 23-year-old bearded man will never forget Sunday night at La Cartuja.

Villalibre, at present substitute of Iñaki Williams and Raul Garci’a, arrived at Lezama, the quarry of the Athletic, in cadet age. It was his first coach in grassroots football for the Basque club who gave him the nickname. “As a child I was more of a boss than my teammates. The coach said that he attacked them as if nothing had happened, he started telling me Buffalo and that’s how I stayed,” explained the footballer in an interview during the confinement. training in Lezama, it has not been easy for him to settle in San Mamés Gaizka Garitano, coach of the Biscayans, decided to stay in the squad after three transfers to Numancia, Valladolid and Llorca, accumulating eight goals in 41 appearances. with the first team.

Fito Cabrales and Aritz Aduriz

But Villalibre, as a good team player, does not play alone. He is accompanied by a group called Orsai, made up of five members of the Athletic dressing room who also disconnect with the music: Lekue, Vesga, De Marcos, Balenziaga and Dani García. “We even have a teacher who teaches us technique once a week. It’s a very nice hobby. We vote for the songs we like best and then we play them,” says the striker, who admits that the most versioned set in rehearsals is Fito and Fitipaldis.

Messi’s unprecedented loss of roles: the hot notes of the Super Cup final

If Fito Cabrales is one of Villalibre’s references when it comes to a microphone, his preferences are also clear on the pitch. To check this just look at the number he wears in his first season in the first team of Athletic. Gernika had no doubts or fear of pressure when he decided to inherit the 20 of Aritz Aduriz, one of the best strikers who have passed through San Mamés. Villalibre still has a lot to do if it wants to get closer to the legacy of the Gipuzkoan exariet. Now, after the glory, it’s his turn to catch his breath and not miss a single note.


Koeman’s resignation

Do you remember when Barça for the little ones did not concede fouls at home because they knew what their vulnerability was? Pep Guardiola had a lot to do with it, obsessive like no other to take care of small details. Against Athletic, the players fell on all fours over and over again, until Asier Villalibre ended up scoring the agonizing draw.


Koeman is also playing his future these months (Toni Padilla)

Those who know Ronald Koeman say that the Dutch coach is enjoying his first year on the Barça bench. After suffering a fright with a heart attack, he has learned that it is time to worry about important things. Alien to social media, he does not waste time in the intense debates that arise after each match but last a few days. His gaze is long and that is why he does not understand the disappointment of many Barcelona players with the performance of his team. Koeman believes that the season lasts a long time, that the marks are put at the end of the course and that it should be borne in mind that they have not made a sad signing. It lacks some reason.

But after the first half of the season, Koeman has failed to give stability to a project that needs it. His Barça, like the tide, is now moving forward, now retreating. And when the important appointments arrive it demonstrates a worrying emotional fragility, added to the problems of the Dutch technician to modify the course of the parties with the changes. Against Athletic, again, it took a long time to make substitutions even though his team had only shot once in the goal in 70 minutes. Marcelino García Toral won the tactical battle for him, as other coaches have done on important match days, such as Zidane in the classic, Simeone against Atlético and Pirlo in the match against Juve at the Camp Nou. The victory against the Italians in Turin is one of the few blows of authority of Koeman’s Barça after the first six months of adventure. And against Real Sociedad in the semifinals of Córdoba was played with fire. Ter Stegen turned it off.

The duel against PSG, key

The return to the Camp Nou is Koeman’s great opportunity to continue relaunching a coaching career that was withering away after an encouraging start. With the selection of the Netherlands he began to recover his optimism and Barça is now a dream come true for Koeman, despite having to speak with a provisional management board that cannot give him a single signing. Koeman, however, knows that, beyond the results, he will be judged by the evolution of his team’s game, if he wants to stay on the bench. The coach knows that football, a sometimes very cruel sport, will not guarantee that he will have a job next season unless he manages to get a very good grade this season. If his Barça face the next important dates, especially the duel against PSG, playing as he did in La Cartuja, the president who wins the elections will surely choose not to give him power next season. Now, in this strange officially frozen election campaign, the candidates are giving him public support. But if Koeman doesn’t generate consensus, changing coaches would be a weapon the new president would have to cheer the fans on and start a new cycle. There will be no shortage of candidates to occupy the local bench at the Camp Nou.

Tusquets is left without a title

After the first half year of adventure, his Barça is neither meat nor fish. He has improved in attack, especially when Messi has regained the laughter he lost again in Sevilla. Barça have won 15 official matches, but have not won in 11. And in defense it fits too well, partly because of Piqué’s loss. Koeman, making his way, seems to be betting on some young people, but not all. From time to time he gives minutes to La Masia players, but he does it more out of necessity, as with Araujo or Mingueza, than out of conviction. Sometimes it is ordered through the ball in a style similar to the 4-3-3 and sometimes it is closed in defense, more garrepa. It often seems that he will be able to face the big clubs in Europe, but when the important dates come, his Barça is more like Quique Setión’s than the proposal for the future that he should symbolize himself. The Dutch coach is playing a lot, in the coming months. And he won’t make excuses. It will depend on him if he is a coach to cover the hole of a season or if, as he did as a player, he overcomes a bad starting point to end up touching the sky.


from Cruyff’s leading student to world-renowned technician (Albert Nadal)

This Monday Pep Guardiola turns 50 years old. Half a century of a life linked to football and commitment to an idea and a school that, without demeaning all those who have also contributed to it, has been christened the cruyffista model. Guardiola, who landed at the hands of Oriol Tort in La Masia when he was 13 years old from Gimnàstic Manresa, could hardly have imagined then that he would end up being Johan’s leading student only a few years later.

Although the story had begun earlier, with Cruyff’s always attentive gaze on the young footballers in the house, it was on December 16, 1990 when Guardiola made his debut, in Cádiz, with the first team. It was the beginning of a unique communion in football, a combination that would change the history of Barça. The first pages of the club’s most romantic story were beginning to be written, which would end up excelling years later, when Santpedor’s, without ceasing to be that privileged student of Johan’s, would end up becoming the coach with the most titles, joys and pride. they would take to the windows of Barça.

Cruyff’s intuition, combined with Luis Milla’s departure to Real Madrid, opened Guardiola’s doors to the first team, in which the position of 4 it was already beginning to be a hallmark of Barça football. “From this position I had a privileged vision of the game. It was very important for us, to always find the best way out of the ball. Quickly and intelligently. He had an exquisite technique,” he recalls in a conversation with ARA Miquel Àngel Nadal. Barça’s central midfielder between 1991 and 1999 was one of Guardiola’s first roommates at Barça. “Only on the road, eh! Not every day, he wasn’t my type,” jokes Nadal, who has kept a great friendship with the coach since the years that coincided with both Barça and the Spanish national team.

“Pep, despite his youth, was a footballer who identified a lot with Barça and his environment. He represented exactly his place in what was the whole football structure of Johan. Since he came from home, the his arrival on the team was like the missing piece to finish fitting all the parts of the puzzle together, ”Nadal describes. “It was like the extension of the coach on the field, because his position was where most balls went. His main function was to choose the best option where to get the ball and, that, in the philosophy of the game “Apart from that, Pep was very demanding. He always wanted to win and he always thought about football: he asked a lot, he was interested in both his position and that of his teammates, what was the best way.” to place ourselves, what movements we could make … You saw that it was his passion “.

“Together with Sergio Busquets, he is the best player Barça has had in this position”

Miquel Àngel Nadal Barça central (1991-1999)

Nadal, who defines Guardiola as “the person who has best captured Cruyff’s message,” also recalls the importance and ancestry of the Dutch coach in that group of players who would be christened the Dream Team. “His winning mentality was entrusted. We didn’t go out to speculate. We were ambitious and we played very offensive football. Apart from being a coach that the players had a lot of respect for who he had been as a player, you saw that everything he told us he came out naturally, he believed in it. He also knew when you had to stop and encouraged you when you needed to. He was a breakthrough in many ways. “

Evolution as a coach

Guardiola would end his career as a footballer away from Barça, where he returned in 2007 to re-float the subsidiary, which had just been relegated to the Third Division. Only a season later he was commissioned by then-president Joan Laporta to take the reins of the first team to begin the most glorious era of a coach on the Barça bench. “Pep is the son of Barça and Barça was his home,” journalist and ex-athlete Martí Perarnau told ARA. “As a coach he put on the field all those tools, instruments and knowledge that he learned for so many years at the club. To put it in some way, he didn’t have to make any substantial changes in his way of understanding. What he had done as a player, he took to the field with some footballers – Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets … – who have the same football language and practice the same style “. For four seasons on the first team bench (2008-2012) Guardiola won 14 titles out of 19 possible.

As a Barça coach, Santpedor showed his commitment to an idea and a model, with the ball always as the protagonist of the discursive axis, which amazed Europe and made him one of the most sought-after coaches on the planet. . His time on the bench would continue in 2013 at Bayern Munich. “Pep is planted in Germany as the 16-year-old dwarf who leaves home for the first time to see the world. In the Bundesliga he finds himself with the icy fields of the winter months, the game on the counterattack of any team and at any time , passionate stadiums like Borussia Dortmund … And, at Bayern, a very different culture in which they speak another language, both linguistic and football “, analyzes the author of books such as Mr. Pep (2014) i Pep Guardiola. Metamorphosis (2016). “In addition, there is the circumstance that when Pep is hired, Bayern was doing badly. But when he arrives in Munich, he does so after they have won the treble and this makes it difficult to adapt.”

In favor, Guardiola found in Bayern players eager to learn from the stamp of the Catalan coach, such as Lahm, Kroos, Boateng and Alaba. “Unfortunately, Thiago’s injuries make him unable to help spread this way of playing,” Perarnau adds. “Pep also adapts to players who do not have this profile, such as Robben, Ribéry or Müller, and makes a very important move: he places the sides inside, helping the midfielder and creating a line of three with which he breaks the rival counterattacks “. After dominating his main rival, Borussia Dortmund, and winning the Bundesliga with authority, Guardiola signed in 2016 for Manchester City.

“With Messi fake 9, Pep surprised. But the concept already existed. His great contribution to football is playing with the sides inside “

Martí Perarnau Journalist and former athlete

“In Manchester he is no longer the Pep who only knows Barça’s style in depth: he has already applied several variants thanks to his time in Germany. Apart from studying a lot like the Premier League, his first year in England was “It was a complicated course, but during which he learned a lot from another type of football,” said Perarnau. “It was a difficult course, with other circumstances in the process of making the team to measure.” “In his second year he would win the Premier League, breaking the 100-point record and continue to add titles. He has also had obstacles, but he has accumulated experience that allows him to speak very rich football languages ​​and master many variants, which he exposes according to matches.”

It is in Manchester where Guardiola will turn 50 this Monday. Al City, with the complicity of Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain within the structure of the club, as well as the confidence of President Khaldoon al-Mubarak, is living its longest stage on a bench: in November it renewed until 2023.


the hot notes of the Super Cup final (Xavi Hernández Navarro)

A final trailer. Jordi Alba gasped, for lack of passing lines, every time he had to serve as a winger. Messi, a starter despite the inconvenience, appeared very little. Pedri, surrounded by opponents whenever he received, was not right either. In two weeks in Bilbao, Marcelino has made Athletic an uncomfortable team. With a couple of clear ideas, and after beating Real Madrid in the semifinals of the Super Cup, the Asturian coach won the tactical battle against Koeman, who did not do too much to prevent his Barça from waiting at home less talented rival. What exactly did Barça play in the first final they played in a year and a half? To survive? Victory would not have justified such a poor proposal. Defeat, he portrayed it.

Frustrated turning point. Granted, the Spanish Super Cup does not have the glamor of the Champions League, but it is impossible not to see in the defeat of Barça in Seville (from Duckadam, a city of lost finals) features that evoke the triad of European defeats (Rome , Liverpool, Lisbon) of the last courses. Against Athletic, Barça made children’s mistakes on set pieces, just like at Anfield or Olimpico. They also suffered the effects of a physical inferiority and a lack of plan more typical of the times of Setión than of the Koeman era. Messi, present in the three painful precedents, also found no holes. After Villalibre’s goal to go into extra time, the 10 not only did not gather his teammates to try to lift their spirits, but ended up expelled, a victim of the purest impotence. I had never seen a red one. He has noses that the first one has arrived in what could be his last final as a culer …

The best center of the staff. To draw some positive conclusions, Araujo’s performance minimizes Barça’s penalty for not being able to advance Eric García’s arrival in the winter market. When Piqué was seriously injured, the arrival of the Martorell center-back became even more necessary, but the Uruguayan’s step forward has reduced the drama. Araujo is taking advantage of the opportunity to the point that right now he is and not Lenglet the benchmark of the team. Imperial in aerial play and correction, he only has to improve – in relation to his teammate on the axis – in the ball output, an art that develops over time. It is no coincidence that in less than a year it has quadrupled its market value. However, he will not be able to sustain the entire defensive line.

Antoine’s empty hands. Griezmann cost more than $ 120 million to decide major matches. And he was on the verge, despite the poor collective performance, of justifying part of the effort in the Super Cup. If the day of the Real Sociedad, with Messi injured, provided assistance for De Jong, in the final against Athletic, with the 10 on the pitch, he scored two goals as a professional finisher. Too bad they were useless. Williams, with a goal in overtime, erased his smile suddenly. Pay attention, by the way, to the Basque’s career against Barça. Last year he was the executioner of the elimination of the Catalans in the Cup. And this year he has raised the bar to give his club the second title in six years.


Barça lose their heads and bounce back from the Super Cup (2-3) (Toni Padilla)

The journey through the Barça desert continues. In Seville, the city where he had lost the Cup in 2019 against Marcelino’s Valencia, Koeman’s team was left with a silly face and lost the Super Cup against Marcelino’s Athletic (2-3). A final that seemed to be won, but Barça did not know how to protect the treasure that were the goals of Griezmann, one of the few footballers who knew how to live up to a match in which Barça did not deserve to win. Emotionally unstable, soft on defense and with no ideas on offense, Barça were on the verge of winning by playing poorly. But not like that. And he ended up losing the roles as Messi, sent off in the last minute of the match. The image of a hurtful defeat. As much by the result, as by the script and the game of the equipment during good part of a end where the Basoues, sometimes hard in defense, had more heart.

Winning a penalty shootout in the semifinals had sparked the adrenaline of a hungry Barça. Hungry for titles, hungry for glory. But the euphoria of the semifinal did not last long and hunger turned to anguish. Koeman’s team was caught in the defensive web of a reborn Athletic with the change of coach. Marcelino’s first game on the bench for the Basques, against Barça in San Mamés, turned out to be a testing ground that allowed the Asturian coach to improve his defensive system. And Athletic managed to get absolutely nothing to happen for 30 minutes. Only Ander Capa, with a shot that tested Ter Stegen, broke the monotony of a match that Barça started as if they had no esma, as if they had given him kryptonite. And that played Messi, recovered from his physical problems. But Marcelino knew how to isolate both the Argentine and his great accomplice, Pedri, well enough from the game. Barça got lost in the labyrinth of the Basques, waiting for someone to pull a thread to get out of the trap.

And the thread, of course, was pulled by a Messi who did not have the day. But the Argentine knew how to find Jordi Alba alone in the band in one of the few mistakes of the disciplined Basque defenses. And with a bit of luck, after a rebound, Griezmann managed to beat Simón with Barça’s first shot between the three posts. But what Jordi Alba gives you in attack, Jordi Alba can also take you out on defense. The winger always goes face to face, attacking. And sometimes they win his back. If scoring a goal just before the break seemed like a psychological blow for Barça to the Basques, Athletic Club did not take even 60 seconds to tie and leave Ronald Koeman with a slap in the face. Williams invented a pass to the back of the Barça defense and Óscar de Marcos overtook Ter Stegen, after escaping the surveillance of Jordi Alba. As in the semi-final against Real Sociedad, after giving the first blow, Barça was forced to start again. Then chewing sand.

A scare with Raúl García

Koeman, to try to give balance to his team, sacrificed Sergiño Dest already at halftime and brought in the right winger Mingueza. The idea was to be able to tie in short the always naughty Muniain and, incidentally, give back order to be able to risk attack. Barça needed their most talented players, but Messi, Pedri and De Jong were still in a cage. Griezmann did appear, touching the ball judiciously every time he got a space in the front. But Dembélé did not help him. The extreme is how Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a footballer with two faces. And in La Cartuja the Frenchman didn’t get one right. He was not the only one. The tactical battle between the two teams was accompanied by a lot of individual mistakes, bad controls and passes to the emptiness of the giant stadium of La Cartuja, where the desperate cries of the two coaches resounded. And also the cries of happiness and frustration of the Athletic players when they celebrated the second goal, the work of Raúl García after finishing off a cross from Muniain, who had won a foul precisely from Mingueza. But the VAR caught the Navarrese offside for a short time and pardoned Barça. A few minutes later, not even the VAR would save a defense that suffers too much with side centered face.

The goal disallowed at Athletic served to stretch the ears of a Barça that finally settled around the ball and closed an Athletic that plays everything in the counterattacks of Iñaki Williams, who collided more than once with an imperial Araujo. The young Uruguayan central defender was one of the few who took a step forward in a final with little football, without Koeman being encouraged to make further changes. And yet, Barça seemed to have the cup in their hands when Griezmann dressed as a hero with 15 minutes to go and finished off a cross from Alba. The Frenchman, playing the role of fake well new, slipped inside the area to beat Simon with a cross shot. Once again, Alba became Barça’s can opener. And in the second shot on goal, Griezmann scored the second goal. Unai Simón had not stained his gloves to make stops, but to catch the bottom ball of the net.

Williams decides

The final seemed decided, but Barça is a work in progress, a team still with doubts that reminds him of the fateful nights of recent years. And almost in the last play Asier Villalibre equalized again in a lateral foul badly defended by a Barça that has one of its heels of Aquilles in the plays of strategy. The goal brought the final to an overtime that started in the worst way, when Iñaki Williams invented a beautiful goal by sending the ball to the only place where Ter Stegen could not reach. The German could not act as a hero, he could not help a team that began to desperately attack the Basque defense, already with Riqui Puig on the field alongside Pjanic. A sterile domain, with Athletic taking advantage of Mingueza’s mistakes to go wrong with cons that hurt as much as needle punctures. A slow torture that was punishing a Barça that could have tied thanks to a shot by Griezmann. But the Frenchman is so unlucky that not even scoring two goals in a final is the hero of a club doomed to chain two years without winning titles, while Koeman, thoughtful, wonders how he missed a Super Cup that would have reinforced. Instead, it returns weakness of Seville.

Messi’s unprecedented loss of roles: the hot notes of the Super Cup final


The Super Cup graduates Araujo and Mingueza in a rejuvenated Barça (Albert Nadal)

Marc-André ter Stegen, for his decisive stops both during the match and in the penalty shootout against Real Sociedad, and Riqui Puig, for marking the decisive throw and coming out of ostracism, were the two names for Barça who they monopolized all the headlines after overcoming the Super Cup semifinals. But in a choral sport such as football, other players, until recently almost unknown to the general public, also signed a notable performance. These are Ronald Araujo and Óscar Mingueza.

The Uruguayan center-back, who reached the semi-finals after suffering an overload in his hamstring muscles in his right thigh, started out as a partner with Clément Lenget. Araujo is demonstrating the qualities that the current technical secretary, Ramon Planes from Lleida, saw in him to insist on taking him to Barça. Planes already had the Uruguayan defender under control before entering work for Barça. He has been following the player since he saw him make his debut in the Second Division of Uruguayan football with CA Rentistas, when he was 17 years old. Araujo’s strength and mentality were key factors in capturing the attention of the technical secretary, who was convinced that the power station had to be taken to Barcelona, ​​where the branch began to be set on fire. Real Madrid were also interested in him, but the white proposal came late, a few days before the final signing of Barça closed in exchange for 1.7 million euros more variable in August of the year 2018.

After the frustrated signing of Eric García at the gates of the closing of the last transfer market, the long-term loss of Gerard Piqué and the dubious physical condition of Samuel Umtiti have opened the doors of the first team to Araujo. The Uruguayan, who has 13 appearances this season (nine in the League, three in the Champions League and one in the Super Cup), has become the leader of the defense, even ahead of Clément Lenglet, who has had some ups and downs this course. Araujo has a black spot in his brief but promising history with the first team: the mistake he made in the draw against Eibar at the Camp Nou in the last game of 2020. After the match, the Uruguayan did not he hid and wanted to give his face: he explained that he cannot make mistakes like the one of that day, proving that wounds make him grow. Personality exercise at just 21 years old and a handful of matches with the Barça shirt.

Mingueza takes advantage of opportunities

In fact, if Araujo has not played more it is because he already suffered an injury that left him out of action for a month in November. This loss, together with the same conditions that catapulted the Uruguayan to the first team, gave the opportunity to add prominence to Mingueza, a footballer who has gone through all categories of football training at La Masia. Although Mingueza is central, the injury of Sergi Roberto -who is expected to return between the end of January and the beginning of February- and the discomfort of Sergiño Dest have also opened the gap for him to add minutes as a right-back.

In fact, one of the first times Ronald Koeman saw Mingueza live playing an official match was on the first day of Group E of the Second Division B, at the Johan Cruyff Stadium, which pitted the subsidiary against Gimnàstic de Tarragona. In the season of its debut with the first equipment it accumulates the same participation that Araujo this course: 13 (nine in Liga, three in the Champions and one in the Supercopa). Although the Uruguayan has played more minutes: 1,013 against 905.

Whether out of urgency or necessity, both are counting on Ronald Koeman in a rejuvenated Barça. The team that in the duel against Bayern Munich in Lisbon was close to 30 years on average came out with an eleven against Real Sociedad that did not reach an average of 26 years.


Koeman will no longer look the same as Riqui Puig, right ?: the hot notes from Real Sociedad

Ter Stegen fa de Messi. Without his best player, Barça was ashamed. You couldn’t tell. And less against one of the best-matched teams today. The change of drawing had led Barça to play better, but we only had the test with 10 in the equation and with Pedri as the main partner. With the captain unavailable, the Canary did not connect with a match that had excess of chaos. Dembélé became more involved and Griezmann did not know how to play the role of playmaker that touched him. Without Messi emerged the other out of this team. He wears gloves, is German and not only stopped two penalties in the final round, but saved his team from losing after 120 minutes with spectacular stops.

Discovering new facets. De Jong has scored three goals since Koeman brought him closer to the area with a very warm 4-3-3. Barça are discovering the arrival of the Dutchman, who has already surpassed his goals from last season. At the end of a very awkward first half against Real Sociedad, a header in a top position undoed the initial equalizer. De Jong still does not govern the wide area as expected, but in return he is getting used to deciding otherwise, paying more homage to his compatriots like Van Bommel or Cocu than to Sergio Busquets, whom in theory had to replace.

A catwalk penalty. What De Jong achieved just before the break he twisted himself shortly after the restart by committing a silly penalty, but a penalty in the end. The former Ajax player rejected with his elbow a lateral cross from Real when he had enough time to correct the position of his arm. The referee followed the current fashion and had enough of a slight hint of voluntariness to point the eleven yards, from where Oyarzabal, who is the best penalty kicker in the league, once fooled Ter Stegen. In the second, the German got it right.

The responsibility of a veteran. After seeing that Trincão was not able to contribute too much as a shocker, Koeman had to put Riqui Puig in overtime. The Dutchman would have preferred Depay’s place in Matadepera to the team, but as the club has no money he had to use it in an emergency. Once again, the young midfielder showed that he has enough quality to play for Barça, that his ostracism doesn’t quite match what he leaves on the pitch. Not only did he add one more march to the three-quarters of the field, but he resolved the responsibility of the last penalty with the serenity of a veteran. Will Koeman finally look different?