Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all the followers, and fans of Real Talk Football.

I'd like to take the time to say thank you for all the support, feedback and kind words.

As a Christmas present from us to you, take a look at this wonderful goal from Napoli's Edson Cavani.

Untill 2011, take care, and keep the support!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Champions League Draw

Champions League Draw

Roma v. Shaktar Donetsk

AC Milan v. Tottenham Hotspur

Valencia v. Schalke 04

Inter Milan v. Bayern Munich

Lyon v. Real Madrid

Arsenal v. Barcelona

Marseille v. Manchester United

Copenhagen v. Chelsea

Click here for the Champions League Preview

BBC African Player of the Year 2010

Real Talk Football would like to congratualte Sunderland and Ghanaian striker Asamoah Gyan, who today was announced as the BBC African Player of the Year.

The Ghanaian international had an excellent World Cup, helping his nation reach the Quarter-finals stage of the competition. The Black Stars were unfortunatel to miss out on a semi-final spot after a dramatic match against Urugauy.

His peformances at the World Cup caught the imagination of fans all around the World, while his 3 goals and excellent forward play throughout the competition earned him a record £13million move to Sunderland from Rennes.

The 25 year old joins the list of illustrious fromer winners such as Didier Drogba, Mohamed Aboutrika, Michael Essien and Jay Jay Okocha.

Real Talk Football

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Pablo Piatti: Another Argentinean Wonderkid

Last week, a player named Pablo Piatti, who is another Argentinean attacker who has been compared to current Argentine greats, scored two fantastic goals against Sevilla in a 3-1 win.

He was brought to Spain as 19 year old, and is one of the most technically impressive youngsters I've seen in a while, and commanded an £5.5 million transfer fee. Here's all you need to know:

Name: Pablo Piatti
Age: 21
Club: Almeria
Nationality: Argentinean
Club Apps: 81 Club Goals: 17

This is the first ... touch, power, precision ...

This is the second ... great technique, twinned with outrageous audacity ...

Champions League Preview: Last 16


Position: Group Winners

They fended off competition from reigning champions Inter Milan to top the group, while escaping tricky away trips to Werder Bremen and FC Twente with draws, and winning all three home games saw them finish as group winners.

Key Player: Luka Modric

The 25 year old Croatian has come into his own in 2010 with some fantastic performances; helping Spurs reach the Champions League and 4th place in the Premiership last season, while this year he has helped Spurs surprisingly top their group in their first ever Champions League campaign. He is now regarded as one of Tottenham’s most important players and one of the best midfielders in Europe. He will need to keep fit if Spurs are to progress further in the competition.

Possible Opponents: AC Milan, Lyon, Valencia, FC Copenhagen, Roma, Marseille

Starting XI:

Inter Milan

Position: Group Runners Up

A team faulting domestically, and a side struggling to defend their Champions League crown, getting through the group stage is the best thing Inter Milan could have achieved. Rafa Benitez has had a baptism of fire in Serie A, but he is lucky Massimo Moratti has shown understanding and support for the Spaniard as injuries to key players (who were vital in the Champions League success last year) has taken its toll on the Inter side.

Now however, they have done the hard part, getting out of the group as defending champions with a bit part squad and a new manager. Now it’s down for the club to strengthen in January if necessary but most importantly get the likes of Diego Milito, Wesley Sneijder and Walter Samuel back, then Inter have the proven quality that they could go all the way, yet it depends on if the manager can get the team there.

Key Player: Esteban Cambiasso

The 30 year old Argentine had been the remaining bit of cello tape holding together the troubled Inter Milan ship. He, of course, is a defensive midfielder, but he filled in at centre back a few weeks ago as Inter had ran out of defenders due to injuries and suspension.

Why is Cambiasso a key player? He holds the midfield together while Sneijder is allowed the freedom to pull the strings in midfield and dictate the play. A vital component to the Inter team.

Possible Opponents: Shaktar Donetsk, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Valenica, Lyon

Starting XI:

Schalke 04

Position: Group Winners

The Bundesliga runners-up faired very well in the Champions League, topping the group from last season’s semi-finalists Lyon. The most impressive stat regarding their performances in this year’s Champions League campaign; they only conceded 3 goals. An excellent defensive record, thanks to German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and powerful centre back Christoph Metzelder.

Key Player: Klass Jan Huntelaar

The Dutchman has becoming somewhat of a journeyman, wondering around Europe for the last few years, taking a chance in the big time, playing for eight different clubs in the last eight years. After unsuccessful at AC Milan and Real Madrid, he has now found his feet at Schalke and has created a dream partnership with Champions League legend Raul. He has hit 7 goals in 13 appearance this season for Schalke, and is one of the clubs best players.

Possible Opponents: Inter Milan, Valencia, Arsenal, FC Copenhagen, Roma, Marseille, AC Milan

Starting XI:


Position: Group Runners Up

One of the most dominant clubs in the French Ligue 1 in the last 10 years, made it to the Champions League semi-finals last season, losing to the eventual runners-up Bayern Munich. They have struggled domestically this season, but similarly to Inter Milan; the most important thing is that Les Gones have made it through the group. The clubs domestic form is its priority, but a strong Champions League run would be just what the club needs. A semi-final finish last season, who’s to say they can’t go further this time around.

Key Player: Lisandro Lopez

The focal point of the Lyon side, the former Porto attacker is a veteran of the Champions League now entering his 6th season in the competition. With Lyon faltering in the league, he has still managed 9 goals in 14 appearances, and with the 27 year old has the Champions League pedigree, given the right service, he could score against the toughest defences in the competition.
Possible Opponents: Tottenham, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Man Utd, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Shaktar Donetsk

Starting XI:

Manchester United

Position: Group Winners

Manchester United continued their tradition of winning Champions League groups, but this one was more intriguing as they won all there away matches, most impressively a hard fought away win over Valencia.

Key Player: Nemanja Vidic

Untill last week, the key player for me was striker Dimitar Berbatov. However since he is now back to warming the bench at Old Trafford, the Club’s full time captain Nemanja Vidic is the key man. Manchester United never overpowered any team in their group, only scoring 7 goals in the whole group stage, but they were however resolute in defence, seeing them only concede 1 goal. This solid foundation is that which could lead their charge in this campaign.

Possible Opponents: Lyon, AC Milan, Marseille, Roma, Copenhagen, Inter Milan

Starting XI:


Position: Group Runners Up

Valencia finished 2nd in the group ahead of Rangers, and Bursaspor, with a total of 11 points. The Spanish side have played some excellent football in this season’s competition, and caught the eyes of their European counterparts with a 6-1 drubbing of Turkish side Bursaspor.

Key Player: Roberto Soldado

The former Real Madrid striker made his name at Getafe before joining Valencia to replace the outgoing David Villa. The 25 year old has started his career at the Mestalla well, scoring 5 times in 13 appearances. The Spaniard is looking to get himself into the International set up, and a decent Champions League campaign will aide that objective.

Possible Opponents: Tottenham, Lyon, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Shaktar Donetsk, Schalke

Starting XI:


Position: Group Winners

We all know the calibre of the European giants, and the quality of players at Pep Guaridola’s disposal. The Catalan club didn’t have a perfect campaign, drawing with Rubin Kazan and Copenhagen away from home (showing some form of a weakness), but Barcelona are clearly the favourites and the team to beat.

Key Player: Lionel Messi

He has been feature on this blog many many times, and everyone knows the quality of the 23 year old. He has 17 goals in 13 La Liga appearances, 6 goals in 6 Champions League games this season. Altogether 25 goals in 28 games, a fantastic season already, combined with Xavi, Iniesta and David Villa, Barcelona for me; are clear favourites.

Possible Opponents: Inter Milan, Lyon, Roma, Marseille, Arsenal, AC Milan

Starting XI:

FC Copenhagen

Position: Group Runners Up

The first Danish side to make to the Champions League knock-out phase, Copenhagen finished ahead of the ever improving Rubin Kazan and the disappointing Panathinaikos. Their home form was where they were most impressive, contributing them to 7 points out of a possible 9.

Key Player: Jesper Gronkjaer

The former Chelsea winger has been vital to Copenhagen’s Champions League campaign this year, and is an undoubted quality individual, who is a the side main attacking threat. Despite the Danish team being the relative “minnows” of the Champions League; with their strong home form, anything is possible.

Possible Opponents: Man Utd, Tottenham, Schalke, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Shaktar Donetsk

Starting XI:

Bayern Munich

Position: Group Winners

Last year semi-finalists are struggling domestically (as so many others are in this year’s competition) but you feel Bayern Munch could go the distance again, as long as Franck Ribery and talisman Arjen Robben stay fit. The Bavarians only lost one game in the group stages, and that was group rivals AS Roma.

Key Player: Mario Gomez

The German international has finally settled in with the German giants, and has scored 6 goals in the group stages, making him the second highest goal scorer in the tournament so far. He joined Bayern from rivals Stuttgart 18 months ago, with a price tag of around €35million, and has taken the mantle of star player at the club with Robben being injured and Ribery looking disinterested. Bayern were runners-up last year, and they have enough attacking options to take them all the way again.

Possible Opponents: Arsenal, Lyon, AC Milan, Marseille, Copenhagen, Valencia, Inter Milan

Staring XI:

AS Roma

Position: Group Runners Up

Last year’s Serie A runners-up, made hard work of qualifying from the group, but managed to collecting 10 points. The real issue they have to address for the Italian side; is its lack of solidarity in defence; conceding 11 goals and only scoring 10 goals. Roma at home, are a very strong team at home, but they seem to struggle when they get into the latter stages of the Champions League.

Key Player: Marco Borriello

The Italian hitman was ushered out the door at the San Siro, and has taken like a duck to water with the Roma side. He has 4 goals to his name in the group stages, and is the key focal point of the Roma attack.

Possible Opponents: Shaktar Donetsk, Chelsea, Tottenham, Man Utd, Schalke, Barcelona, Real Madrid

Staring XI:


Position: Group Winners

Chelsea were one of the favourites to lift the Champions League crown, but with many experienced players leaving the club, domestic struggles and injuries to key players, the west London side have lost that favourites tag. However 5 wins from 6 matches means Chelsea are by no means incapable of performing, and will look forward to the knockout draw, believing they can beat anyone.

Key Player: Michael Essien

The Ghanaian midfielder has only just returned to the Chelsea first team, and I believe the club will no longer give away silly goals. Essien is widely regarded as one of the best midfielders in the World, paired with Frank Lampard in the Chelsea engine room, the Blues are more than capable of being the first London team to win the Champions League.

Possible Opponents: Lyon, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Copenhagen, Valencia, Roma,

Starting XI:


Position: Group Runners Up

Marseille biggest scalp in the group stages was beating English double winners Chelsea 1-0 at the Stade Velodrome. With this self belief, and momentum they feel they could cause an upset in the knockout stages. Manager Didier Deschamps took Monaco to the final in 2004, so why can’t he do the same with Marseille? Only time will tell, but they could be outsiders.

Key Player: Steve Mandanda

One of the most well known goalkeepers in Europe, the 25 year old has played at Marseille for 3 years and is seen as the safe pair of hands. His side only conceded 3 goals in the 6 matches, the best of the group.

Possible Opponents: Shaktar Donetsk, Tottenham, Man Utd, Schalke, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich

Starting XI:

Real Madrid

Position: Group Winners

The nine time winners of the biggest club trophy in the world; haven’t collected the biggest accolade since 2002. At the moment, after a huge spending spree this summer, they undoubtedly have one of the best managers in the World in Jose Mourinho, as well as one of the greatest players, that being Cristiano Ronaldo. Real possibly have the two best footballing assets needed in order to win the Champions League title.

Key Player: Cristiano Ronaldo

The Portuguese international has already won the Champions League title with Manchester United, where he was also a runner-up. He is in blistering form this season, scoring 24 goals in 32 appearances. A definite match winner, Ronaldo will be vital to Madrid’s campaign.

Possible Opponents: Arsenal, Marseille, Lyon, Roma, Copenhagen, Inter Milan

Starting XI:

AC Milan

Position: Group Runners Up

AC Milan finished second in what was seen as one of the trickiest groups, finishing just 1 point clear of Ajax. Two inspired signings in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho, going forward Milan to look a team who can unlock any defence. In the midfielder your concern is the age of the players, such as Seedorf, Ronaldinho, Ambrosini, Gattuso and Pirlo who are all over 30. The experience is there, but is the tempo and is the legs still there? Defensively again is an area where AC Milan may struggle, as they conceded 7 goals after only scoring 7, in the whole of the group stages.

Key Player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The magician returned to Italy after a spell deemed “unsuccessful” at Barcelona (he scored 16 goals in 29 games, and the winner in El Clasico). He has been sensational for AC Milan this season, scorng 13 goals in 20 appearances, with 9 assists.

Possible Opponents: Skahtar Donetsk, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Valenica, Schalke, Tottenham, Man Utd, Barcelona

Starting XI:

Shaktar Donetsk

Position: Group Winners

The Ukrainian moneybags somewhat surprised everyone by winning this group. How with 5 wins from 6 matches, the Miners showed that they are no slouches, especially with Arsenal shocking performances in the three away games they played, this was probably one of the most open groups in the Champions League. Shaktar conceded the least amount of goals in the group, and that is the reason why they ended up as winners.

Key Player: Eduardo

The former Arsenal striker scored 3 goals in 4 appearances, dismissing any beliefs that he wouldn’t be able to perform at the highest level ever again. He seems settled in Ukraine, putting his injury stained Arsenal spell behind him.

Possible Opponents: Marseille, Lyon, Roma, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Schalke, Valencia, Copenhagen

Starting XI:


Position: Group Runners Up

Arsene Wenger’s side beat Braga 6-0 and Shaktar Donetsk 5-1 in the group stages, but still managed to struggle and falter away from home, to mess up the much needed opportunity to take the top spot in the group. Now, the only English representative not to win their group, Arsenal have a very difficult second round match whoever they draw.

Key Player: Samir Nasri

The 2010 French Footballer of the Year has been excellent for Arsenal this season, and is widely regarded as one of the best midfielders in the Premiership. The 23 year old has scored 12 goals in 21 matches this season, and has scored some absolutely brilliant goals along the way.

Possible Opponents: FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Schalke, Bayern Munich

Staring XI:

The draw for the knockout stage is later on today, and of course you will get all the latest breaking news, as well as coverage of the draw itself on Twitter @RealTalkFB and on Real Talk Football Blog.

Leave below, who your predictions are for the draw itself.

Real Talk Football

Monday, 6 December 2010

Chris Hughton Leaves Newcastle United

The big news today is that Newcastle United have sacked their manager Chris Hughton, after 14 months in charge. The excuseRegrettably the board now feels that an individual with more managerial experience is needed to take the club forward”.

In one sense this comes as a surprise as the club sit comfortably in mid-table, sitting in 11th place with 19 points from 16 games. He’s had some memorable results this season including a brilliant 5-1 victory over rivals Sunderland, a 1-0 defeat away to Arsenal, and a 1-1 draw over Chelsea in the league as well as a 4-3 victory over the champions in the Carling Cup. But on the other hand; there has been speculation over his job for quite some time now, while a 5-1 defeat to Bolton and 3-1 loss to West Brom didint help his cause, its seems his time with under controversial owner Mike Ashley (below) has come to an end.

As I’ve said many times before, I’m not a fan of managers being sacked or being hounded by the media, but if a team is under pressure, struggling to rack up points in the league or even under the owner ship of an impatient billionaire; then I can somewhat understand the dismissal of a manager.

But to sack a man who stuck with the club through its recent turmoil’s while taking the role as manager at St. James’s Park when seemingly no one else was interested in the job? To sack an individual who helped Newcastle clear their well documented “massive” wage bill and bounce straight back up in the Premiership at the first time of asking, and with a club record 102 points? All displays a distinct lack of respect for the man, and the job he has done at Newcastle, a commendable one at that.

As stated above; he achieved some great results this season, improved the club greatly and got them back on their feet after their embarrassing 2008/09 relegation campaign. He’s earned the plaudits for getting the best from his players, such as Joey Barton, Hatem Ben Arfa, Kevin Nolan and one of the best prospects in the Premiership Andy Carroll.

Despite all these positives, as far as I can see, he hasn’t done too much wrong, but now sees himself out of the job. From the information from fans, not only Newcastle but football fans; they are not happy with the decision, and many people are appalled by the decision. Some of the names linked with the vacant job are Alan Curbishley, Alan Pardew, Ian Dowie, Phil Brown (although I personally hope never to see this man in the Premiership again) and the runaway favourite Martin O’Neill.

Let me know who you think should take over at St. James’s Park, and what your thoughts are about the dismissal.

Real Talk Football

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Barcelona: Success Built From Within

On Monday 30th November, pretty much every football fan tuned into to watch one of the most aniticipated El Clásico matches in recent memory. For those unsure of what El Clasico is, its the battle between Spain two biggest cities, and their two greatest teams in History. It was billed as the clash between two of the best managers in the world and arguably the best two players in the world; Jose Mourinho v. Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi v. Cristiano Ronaldo respectively.

The match itself was captivating, with Barcelona displaying a group of players who have clearly played together consistently for the last five years. Real Madrid on the other hand, looked like a team of individuals while it seems Jose Mourinho got it wrong, so wrong in fact that they were hammered 5-0, and it was Barcelona’s fifth straight El Clásico win.

The most interesting thing, apart from the fact Barcelona have around six world class players and their ability and quality is unlike any other, is that eight of the starting XI came through the Barcelona youth team. All of which are Spanish nationals apart from Argentina’s Lionel Messi.

Barcelona is world renowned for their fantastic youth system, and it is as famous as that of the Ajax academy, another great name in the world of football. The link between these two clubs stretches further than any transfers in the past, while coaches and players have moved between the clubs in the past, the most important link between the two is that of Johan Cruyff.

Johan Cruyff plied his trade at Ajax and was recognised as one of the greatest footballers of all time, he also played at Barca for five years. But most impressively he managed Barcelona from 1988 untill 1996, winning eleven trophies; 4 La Liga’s, 3 Supercopa, 1 European Cup, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 1 Copa del Rey and 1 Cup Winners Cup.

Apart from collecting a lorry-load of trophies, he instilled this famed focus on youth development and established the importance of reinvestment in youth. Sir Alex Ferguson adopted the same method in the mid nineties bringing through the likes of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and many more.

During his playing time at the club, it was widely understood that Cruyff had advised the president at the time Josep Nunez, to develop an academy similar to that of the famous Ajax youth system; named “La Masia” academy, which in Spanish means “Farmhouse”. Ironic for the amount of brilliance and talent churned out of this “farm” in the last 31 years.

For a modern day example look at Arsene Wenger, who may have had a dry spell trophy wise in the past few years, but has brought through some great talent through the Arsenal squad without buying “big names”.

When Cruyff took charge in 1988, he replaced tough tackling physical players with a hint of technique, to players working within a team all playing football the “Cruyff way”, all comfortable on the ball, technically gifted and competing by playing not playing to compete. The system has developed over the last 20 years, and is of course still pivotal to any success achieved today.

Barcelona’s success, highlights the Cruyff Way, the founder of the Barca footballing philosophy, and is displayed by the strength of Barcelona’s squad and its impressive collection of silverware and millions of adoring fans worldwide.

Let’s look at that team that so easily dismantled Real Madrid, whereby eight of the starting XI were those who were trained, and developed at the club at the famous “La Masia academy”.

No.1 – Victor Valdes – Goalkeeper – 28 years old

Jose Mourinho once said, “Without a top goalkeeper, you can’t win big things”. Valdes may not be the best goalkeeper in the world, but he is undoubtedly in the top 10. He joined the Barcelona youth team in 1992, had a brief spell at Tenerife, before rejoining the academy aged in 1995. He stepped up to the Barcelona B team in 2000 and joined up with the first team squad two years later, and become first choice one season later.

Since then, he hasn’t looked back, becoming the undisputed numero uno, and to date making over 276 appearances for the Barcelona first team. During which he has won 4 Spanish La Liga titles, 4 Spanish Supercups, 1 Spanish Cup, 1 UEFA Supercup, 1 FIFA World Club Cup and not to mention 2 UEFA Champions Leagues.

No.3 – Gerard Pique – Central Defender – 23 years old

Gerard Pique joined the Barcelona youth system in 1997 aged just 10. His father is a Lawyer, and his mother is a doctor, while his grandfather was a director at the club.

The 23 year old has established himself as one of the best defenders in Europe, thanks to his magnificent partnership with fellow Catalan and club captain Carlos Puyol. Pique is a tall, strong and quick defender who is very physical, comfortable on the ball and most impressively reads play very well with excellent tackling attributes.

Pique has a brief spell at Manchester United where he made just 12 appearances in four years, with a loan to Real Zaragoza in between, before returning to Barcelona for a believed €5million. Barcelona was ecstatic to have him return as they felt he was rightfully their player anyway, before he was persuaded to leave as a 17 year old.

Since 2008, he has played 68 times for Barcelona, winning the 2 La Liga titles, 2 Spanish Super Cups, 1 FIFA World Cup, 1 UEFA Super Cup and 1 Champions League title. He has also represented Spain 29 times and was a member of the 2010 World Cup winning side. He is now the cornerstone of defence for both club and country.

No.5 – Carles Puyol – Central Defender – 32 years old

The undisputed leader of the Barcelona team, he is an idol to the fans, and has been club captain for six years.

He joined the Barcelona academy in 1995 aged just 17, and developed into a player capable of playing anywhere along the back four. Two years later, he joined the Barcelona B team, and in 1999 was given a first team opportunity under Coach Louis van Gaal, and the rest as they say; is history.

He has gone on to 341 appearances for the club, winning over 12 domestic trophies and over 17 individual honours. He also has 94 caps for Spain, and captained them to both the 2008 European Championship and 2010 World Cup trophy.

He is arguably, Barcelona’s greatest ever product to graduate from the youth system.

No.8 - Andres Iniesta – Attacking Midfielder – 26 years old

He joined the Barca academy aged just 12 years old, joining from Albacete, and has been at the club since. He played at La Masia for 5 years before following the trend of young prospects, by joining Barcelona B, playing for 2 years before joining the Barcelona senior team in 2003 (another starting under coach Louis van Gaal).

The talented midfielder is the maestro of the Barca side, had a slow start to his career, where he was a bit part player, even sitting on the bench for the 2006 Champions League Final. But since that year, he has managed to establish himself as a star player for the club. He has made 223 appearances for the side, collecting 13 trophies including 4 La Liga’s and 2 Champions Leagues.

In my opinion, he is the best attacking midfielder in the world, and is only 26 years old. He scores vital goals at vital times; including many in the Champions League, as well as the winner for Spain in the World Cup final win against the Netherlands.

No. 6 - Xavi Hernandez – Central Midfielder

The best centre midfielder in the world at the moment, joined the youth system in 1991, aged just 11 years old. He stayed at the academy for 6 years, before joining the Barcelona B team in 1997, where he spent 3 years honing and establishing his gameplay.

In 1998, he made his senior debut, again another youngster given an opportunity under Dutch boss Louis van Gaal. He is the current vice captain and has gone on to make 363 appearances for the Catalans, winning 5 La Liga’s, 2 Champions League titles, 4 Spanish Super Cups, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 1 FIFA World Club Cup and 1 Copa del Rey. Also he has a European Championships, and World Cup medal with Spain.

Individually, he has collected a vast amount of awards and recognitions including numerous FIFA, UEFA and La Liga awarads.

In my opinion, he is the greatest midfielder since Zinidine Zidane.

No.16 - Sergio Busquets – Defensive Midfielder – 22 years old

The son of former Barcelona goalkeeper Carles Busquets, he was seen as a good prospect when he joined the Barca academy aged 17, but no one could of imagined how quickly the 22 year old has progressed in the last two seasons.

Since his senior debut in 2008, he has established himself as the sole holding midfielder for both club and country, a seemingly good prospect has turned into one of the best young midfielders in Europe. He has now kept the likes of Seydou Keita and Javier Mascherano warming the bench, while Yaya Toure was deemed surplus to requirements at the Camp Nou due to Busqeuts form.

At 22 years old he has 2 La Liga trophies, 1 Champions League, and 6 other trophies. He was also vital in Spain World Cup campaign, and had started in both the World Cup final for Spain, and Champions League final for Barca.

No.17 - Pedro Rodriguez – Winger/Advanced Forward – 23 years old

The boy born in Tenerife joined the Barca academy aged 17 years old. He played there for 3 years before heading off the Barcelona B team, making 55 appearances.

In 2009 he made his senior debut for the club, after Pep Guardiola had heard promising things about the youngster. He became a important cog in the Barcelona machine, starting on the left of the Barca front three, keeping Thierry Henry out of the first team.

At the end of the 2009-10 season; he was the only Barcelona player to have scored in all six different competition (Barca went on to win all six of these competitions). A speedy winger, with an eye for goal, Pedro is expected to continue in the same vain over many years to come. He was also a member of the 2010 World Cup winning Spanish team.

No.10 – Lionel Messi – Forward – 23 years old

What is there to be said about the 23 year old that hasnt already been said!? He is the reigning FIFA World and European World Player of the Year, and already rated as one of the greatest players of all time.

He began playing football at the age of 8 years old, playing for Argentinean club Newell’s Old Boys before joining the famous La Masia academy aged just 14 years old. His story is well documented, as he had been brought over by the Barcelona team, while growing up he had many hormone deficiencies, while the medical team and Barca board paid for his medical treatment.

He made his debut in 2004 aged just 17, making him the third youngest player for Barcelona of all time, after impressing at one season during the Barcelona B side.
Since then he has gone on to make 155 appearances for Barcelona, scoring 101 goals and creating countless assists (believed to be over the 60 mark), a sensational record.

In his six years at the Catalan club; Messi has collected 13 major trophies, as well as over 45 individual awards. He has 53 caps for Argentina and is widely regarded as the best player in the World. He has a €250million release clause in his contract, and is still only 23 years old.

This is proof that the players brought through from the La Masia academy are fruitful, and is testament to the how beneficial establishing and sticking to your own football philosophy can be. Just look at the names listed above, and try to put a value each name on that pitch.

All this has branched out from Johan Cruyff’s innovative and creative approach, which is something every club should be modelling themselves on. You cannot buy success, it takes time.

In relation to whether this can be incorporated in England, Johan Cruyff was asked about the faults in England national team, and he highlighted the current lack of youth development in England, stating that; “In England you have a real big problem. If you take the four top teams, there are almost no English players” adding that “there are too many foreign players, which is nice for Europe, but bad for the national team”.

He finally explained a simple solution to this problem, improve your youth facilities, invest in better coaching, and make it mandatory for each side to have five players who home grown and eligible to play in the first team.

It’s an interesting theory, and for a man who is due as much credit as anyone else for Barcelona’s success, it’s a theory I echo. It remains to be seen whether this could be implemented properly in the Premier League, yet it seems Barcelona’s football is a joy to behold, and people should enjoy the mystical football on show while they still can.