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Abidal wearing a shirt in support of Tito Vilanova / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

ESPN’s midseason review of FC Barcelona

Francesc Tomas, writing for ESPN, takes a look at how well FC Barcelona performed in the first half of the 2012/13 season. Tomas points out that Barça - a team coming into the 2012/13 season with a bit of uncertainty after Josep Guardiola announced his departure from the bench at the end of last year - have done an amazing job of rubbishing any doubts that they’re on the decline. “The voluntary departure of inspirational manager Pep Guardiola had the potential to send the club into a dark period of institutional uncertainty and sporting instability,” says Tomas, “fortunately, the board's decision to trust his relatively unknown assistant Tito Vilanova has paid off, as the calm newcomer surprisingly has taken Barcelona to the best ever start to a La Liga season, winning a jaw-dropping 49 out of a possible 51 points thus far.

He adds: “Full credit must be given to the collective effort of the best generation of players in the club's history. If one thing has become clear during the first trimester of the season, it is that a squad with this level of quality, professionalism and commitment can be trusted to make themselves and the highly-demanding Blaugrana community proud.”

Tomas, on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 = best), gives Tito Vilanova’s Barça a 10/10.

Read Francesc Tomas’ article in its entirety here.

totalBarça recaps FC Barcelona’s 2012

“If someone watched Barça play in the last days of 2011, then slept for a year and watched the last game of 2012, they would probably think that not much had happened,” writes Maria Ines for totalBarça. “But we all know that was not the case. 2012 tested our strength as culés in many ways, and, hopefully, helped us to learn from those experiences.”

Ines then takes her readers through the most important events of Barça’s year: Messi wins his third consecutive Ballon d’Or (“something that seems ‘normal’ to us now, but is a remarkable achievement”), Pep Guardiola announces his departure, Éric Abidal undergoes liver transplant surgery, and the team goes on to win the Copa del Rey against Athletic Club Bilbao.

All of this serving as a backdrop to the second half of 2012.

Barça swoops in for Alex Song and Jordi Alba and Tito Vilanova takes charge of the team. Ines notes that “everyone had their chance to comment on and predict Barça’s future and how they would play under Tito, and if the recent signings of Jordi Alba and Alex Song would pay off. Everyone had their say, everyone that is except the the [sic] most important voice, that of Tito. He preferred to show his ideas on the football pitch.”

And show his ideas on the pitch is exactly what he did. He leads FC Barcelona to the best ever start in La Liga history - winning 49 out of 51 possible points - guides the team to a Champions League knock-out round berth as group winners, and has his men are on the verge of clinching a Copa del Rey quarter-final berth.

Ines concludes: “The 2013 year will start on a different note from last year, but with the same spirit: the spirit of hope, of recovering Tito, of seeing Abidal again playing football. Hope of a brighter future becomes real with this remarkable group of players and amazing staff, whom I am sure will overcome any obstacle to create more reasons for culés to be proud of them.”

Read Maria Ines' article in its entirety here.


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