Friday Kickoff: Xavi to leave Barcelona; Suarez calls win “a dream”; and more

XaviBarcelona3-Malaga (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

It’s a real changing of the guard at Barcelona this summer.

After joining La Masia in 1991 and moving his way up the ranks to become one of the best midfielders in soccer history, Xavi Hernandez looks set to leave Barcelona this summer, ending his 23-year-stay by mutual consent. Xavi is expected to head for Qatar, according to multiple reports in Spain.

Xavi joins Carles Puyol, Cesc Fabregas, and Victor Valdes as veterans who are leaving the club this summer.

The departure of Xavi comes after a disappointing season on both a personal, club, and international level. Barcelona failed to win any trophies this season and the sight of Xavi sitting on the bench for Spain in their 2-0 defeat to Chile at the World Cup told a story of it’s own, that time has begun to catch up with the supremely talented Spaniard.

While nothing official has been announced yet, a formal announcement is expected once Xavi returns to Spain from the World Cup.

Here are some more stories to start off your Friday:

SUAREZ LIVES OUT DREAM OF BEATING ENGLAND

Despite coming from a country of just over three million people, Luis Suarez dreamt that his side could beat England, and his dream came true.

Suarez scored twice in Uruguay’s stunning 2-1 victory, the second goal coming when he put his laces through a strike and ripped a shot so fast that England goalkeeper Joe Hart barely had a chance to blink before it was by him.

“I’ve been thinking about this,” Suarez told reporters. “It was something I dreamed about happening quite a lot. When I saw the ball I closed my eyes and kicked it for all the things I went through, for the people that supported me. And it went in.

“Nobody could have imagined a match like this.”

The fact that Suarez was able to play in the first place was pretty impressive, considering that he underwent knee surgery to fix a partially torn meniscus less than a month ago. The injury and subsequent recovery forced him out of Uruguay’s first group stage match, a 3-1 loss to Costa Rica.

Suarez thanked the doctor who operated on him, Walter Ferreira, for keeping his World Cup dreams alive.

“”If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here,” Suarez said.

SPAIN WON’T SACK DEL BOSQUE

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has decided against sacking Vincente Del Bosque despite Spain’s poor display at the 2014 World Cup.

Spain has lost 5-1 to Holland and 2-0 to Chile, eliminated from the group stage faster than any defending World Cup champion. However, RFEF president Jorge Perez says that his federation has no reason to fire Del Bosque despite the recent results.

“From top to bottom in the federation we are all behind Del Bosque,” Perez told radio station Cope. “If we have the best coach around, why would we change?”

“He won’t be affected by the criticism. His family might convince him to leave, but we aren’t going to find anyone better. Del Bosque has not resigned. If he does, we will try to convince him to stay.”

Perez told Cope that he would be speaking with Del Bosque after the World Cup, but that he expected the veteran coach to continue with La Furia Roja.

“We still haven’t spoken with Del Bosque, it’s better to put a bit of distance between us and wait and then speak calmly in Madrid,” Perez said. “When Del Bosque signed the contract he said that if there was any motivation that we thought he shouldn’t continue, he would leave. But I want him to stay.”

HODGSON WON’T RESIGN

England manager Roy Hodgson has hit back at the press calling for his resignation.

The 66-year-old has a contract with the FA through 2016, but has failed to lead England to a win at the 2014 World Cup. The English fell 2-1 to both Italy and Uruguay, leaving them on the brink of going home after just three matches. In fact, if Italy fails to beat Costa Rica on Friday, England’s fate will be sealed after two games.

Despite the disastrous showing, Hodgson told reporters after the Uruguay game that he doesn’t plan on quitting.

“No. I don’t have any intention to resign,” Hodgson said. “I’ve been really happy with the way the players have responded to the work we’ve tried to do. I’m bitterly disappointed, of course, but I don’t feel I need to resign, no. On the other hand, and if the Football Association think I’m not the right man to do the job, that will be their decision and not mine.

“I think in both the games we’ve shown some elements of playing good football, and shown we are a team that’s making progress. But results decide everything and both results have been negative.”

QUICK KICKS

English defender Joleon Lescott has opted to join West Bromwich Albion on a tw0-year contract instead of a move to MLS. (REPORT)

Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery won’t need back surgery despite a number of reports in France stating the contrary. (REPORT)

Brazil national team winger Hulk returned to training on Thursday after sitting out Brazil’s second match, against Mexico, with a thigh issue. (REPORT)

Inter Milan are set to sign Rubin Kazan midfielder Yann M’Vila, with young midfielder Saphir Taïder moving in the opposite direction. (REPORT)

Veteran Serie A coach Zdenek Zeman has been named Cagliari manager for the upcoming season. (REPORT)

Iran national team head coach Carlos Queiroz will step down at the end of the World Cup. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? How big of an impact will Xavi’s departure have on Barcelona? Where does he rank for you among the best midfielders in soccer history? Do you see Del Bosque resigning at the end of the tournament?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in European Soccer, Featured, FIFA World Cup, International Soccer, World Cup 2014. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Friday Kickoff: Xavi to leave Barcelona; Suarez calls win “a dream”; and more

  1. Cheese says:

    Watching Suarez tear England apart was definitively the highlight of yesterday’s games.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      I wonder if he will get any hard tackles back in England for celebrating those goals like he won the World Cup. I know it’s club where you aren’t supposed to celebrate scoring on the ex, but it was interesting seeing the wild celebration of goals against the country whose league employs him.

      • Cheese says:

        You are reaching.

      • The Who says:

        That’s a stretch. You can criticize the guy for a lot of things but you can’t argue his passion. That’s what makes him such an impulsive and explosive player. The guy was written off for this World Cup, his team was written off and he scored a double on one knee and you’re questioning his jubilation?

      • ChriSLC says:

        Would you ask this about a Frenchman or a German playing in the Premiership scoring against England? I think not. The rules aren’t different just because he’s from a country that lacks a world class top flight.

      • Bob Loblaw says:

        He already gets plenty of hard tackles… and it’s usually from guys who’d never get a sniff of the National Team. They do it because that’s the only way they can stop him, and that’s what they’re paid to do. Not because they didn’t like his celebration against England (roughly only 32% of EPL players are English anyway *from Sept 2013).

      • GW says:

        Suarez is feared, hated and despised by anyone that is not a Liverpool fan anyway.

        His celebrations are unlikely to affect that to any great extent.

  2. Paul Terry says:

    Some thoughts:

    Del Bosque should be fired. After getting pummeled in first game against the Dutch he made no adjustments. That should’ve been Casillas’ last game, for starters. Also, for all Costa haters, he won the only goal that Spain has so far, so no, he was not the problem. The problem was the midfield and the fact that Villa was not allowed to start along side with Costa, imo. In any case Del Bosque is being criticized by most Spanish fans I know for his stubborn loyalty to certain players.

    As much as I dislike Suarez as a person, I also have to admit that he is perhaps the best striker out there. Btw, on his second goal he was so amazing on everything that England’s defender Cahill stopped to watch him fire that rocket past his goalkeeper. England is a huge disappointment, and Hogdson should be given the boot. Costa Rica may very well beat them as well, and it should not be considered a surprise.

    This WC is shaping out to have an all South American semifinal, except for maybe Germany or Italy. European teams seem to be very timid when they face South American teams.

    Finally, what if USMNT were to lose against Portugal and Germany was beaten by Ghana even by one goal difference, not unlikely scenarios, despite my support for USMNT? Where would that leaves us having to face Germany in the last game with everything on the line?

    • JayAre says:

      People may not know or acknowledge it but Europeans always have the advantage in most WC’s, weather its with weather or on their home continent or close to their home continent. The last 2 WC’s that were played away from Europe have been in places relatively weak in soccer which had similar climate to Europe while South America is the exact opposite of all those places. It’s hot, South American teams are pretty good and they are well supported. Most teams seem to be playing it out except England who seem to be the only ones to ever find some thing to complain about.(only one’s to complain about Manus field)

      As for Spain, their problem was getting stuck in their success and refusing to transition playing time to the younger players. There’s no reason Torres should be at this WC Gerard Deulofeu stay at home. I love all that Xavi and Ineista have done but it’s time for Fabregas and Mata to take over the reigns.

    • Mason says:

      Germany losing to GHA is a pretty unlikely scenario. Germany is just that good. Defensively, they can work the tactics (suggest high crosses) that the US played against GHA even better than the US did or they can apply high pressure to try and cause the GHA CBs into early giveaways. Offensively, they won’t worry about GHA’s high line, and will simply pass through it.

      3-0 Germany.

    • Josephnsantos says:

      Paul, Excellent observations! But discount the Dutch, they have a lot of talent and a superb manager.
      Joe n Santos, sr.

  3. deno says:

    XAVI TO MLS CONFIRMED

  4. away goals says:

    Will probably repost this in the daily running commentary, but bruno alves didn’t train for portugal today.

  5. Gio says:

    That club in Qatar must have offered him a heck of a contract. Think he would like it better in mls tho.

  6. Gio says:

    Hopefully Xavi doesn’t plan on leaving Qatar before his contract expires. They won’t let him leave lol.

  7. bryan says:

    from what i’ve come acrros, the Xavi contract is $11,226,534 (£6.6M). the kicker is it is tax free. but i think an MLS team is MORE than capable of giving him a similar contract. dude is just selling out like a punk!

    • Brian I says:

      I’m at work so maybe my sarcasm meter is off…but your last sentence was a joke right? Just want to be sure haha.

      • bryan says:

        yes and no. i certainly don’t think he is a sell out or a punk. but i am annoyed because we know NYCFC was interested.

        • Brian I says:

          Ahhh got ya…agreed it would have been nice to see someone with his level of vision and technique in MLS. He definitely has a couple good years left in him.

  8. dude1 says:

    Del Bosque should really be fired. You can’t let a result like that go, stagnation is clearly an issue.