For Another Trophy! Barcelona vs Porto LiveBlog

It’s the usual procedure, y’all. (For newcomers, liveblog starts in half an hour i.e. 30 minutes). Since it’s an official match, regular rules will be in effect. Keep the swearing to a minimum, por favor.

Official Barça lineup (via @barcastuff): Valdes – Alves Mascherano Abidal Adriano – Xavi Keita Iniesta – Pedro Messi Villa

Barcelona bench(via @barcastuff): Oier, Fontas, Busquets, Dos Santos, Thiago, Cesc, Alexis

We’re Busi-less! Barça, don’t make Michele (nzm) cry on her happy birthday! (See what I did there? Eh? Eh? Yeah…)

By Kari

Just your neighbourhood Barca fanatic


  1. Question: Why doesn’t the host of the liveblog start it earlier? If the host is online, we doesn’t he/she start it like now, an hour before the game?

    Just wondering…

    1. Because it is not as simple as just pressing a button and letting the liveblog run itself. It requires constant attention, and perhaps the mod has something else she would rather do in the next half hour.

  2. I thought we are playing a full strength side until I saw Keita in the DM slot 🙁
    I know he got the MOtM award but that was Napoli for goodness’ sake.

    1. Busi at DM has become like a pacifier or security blanket for us cules. Now we must settle for the calming mantra of – in Pep we trust, in Pep we trust, In Pep… how come it isn’t working?

  3. Yippeeee!!!!!!.My first LiveBlog since I joined BFB.I hope this would bring luck to our beloved team.

    VISCA BARCA!!!!!!!

  4. Lol worked all night now waking up 11 min befor kickoff!!! I love it. By the way for us Americans, gol tv is not showing the league match on the schedule for Monday, anywone kneo if it is on tv here?

  5. Weird that Busi doesnt start up. If he’s on the bench he must be healthy. Or is it a way of showing confidence to Keita on his new position?
    And Oier instead of Pinto on the Bench? I think that IS a vote of confidence for Oier, who could be our first sub keeper for the next season.

  6. Get used to seeing Keita in the hybrid DM role, particularly as fixtures build up (don’t forget we play a difficult Villarreal side on Monday).

  7. Half an hour in and Iniesta has had the worse 30 mins of his career.
    I can’t ever remember him misplacing so many passes or delaying his accurate passes to when the player is in an offside position.

  8. Valdes and Pep discussing the game! hah

    Third cup (second official) for fabregas in three games…

    1. 12 trophies for Pep Guardiola, he’s the most winner coach on the club’s history.

      Xavi also becomes the most winner player on the club’s history.

  9. I hate it when TVs cut away from celebrations on the pitch to show ads. I would MUCH rather watch the hugging.

  10. Jim, to be clear, I wasn’t asking for champagne football. I was just saying that as much as Porto played us well, we have to look at ourselves too. We were off our game. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.

    But we won and we move on.

  11. nzm, you live in Barcelona–would you please go feed Cuenca? He makes my soul ache, he is so skinny.

  12. In defense of Keita, he wasn’t as bad as everyone suggested in the loveblob. He does not have Busi’s fluidity (yet), but he clearly improved in the second half, and the way he won balls and headers for us said volume about why he is playing against a physical Porto side. He also saved our butt when Alves bad touches acted up.

    It wasn’t down to a DM for a bad performance tonight. We weren’t at our best collectively. Keita will improve with reps at DM. He showed more calmness already. Need to lower the number of backpasses. Busi plays more forward passes because he is capable and has a better game-reading ability. Keita has a model to learn from, but his muscling power was much needed in a game such as this.

    For the record: To say we played like RM is totally unacceptable to me.

  13. It’s weird that FoxSports didnt show, Uefa giving the cup to Barça and the celebration…

    1. did he? I just thought he was trying to rip his jersey off and celebrate..

      Boy looked pleased as punch to score..I won’t deny I was very pleased too..I wanted him to score a goal really badly myself 😀

  14. I understand that Jnice, but we’ve seen us do this time and again. We have that rare knack of just doing enough to get by, controlling the game and we get our rewards late on. They were knackered by half way through the second half and with us not at full fitness yet I’l settle for just getting by in second gear.

    There’s a lot more to come from us. I’m excited for this season. Sanchez and Cesc will give us a lot more firepower when we need it. My one worry is Messi’s health. That could be a season changer.

  15. Yay, done with the preseason with a 100% trophy haul! 😀

    Season starts this Monday. Our first serious match (of consequence) is Villareal at the Camp Nou.

  16. Happy with the win, we are winning games without being 100 % fully fit. Signs of a GREAT team!

    LOL this, Mourinho in love with C. Ronaldo


  17. Not the best of games if I must say so myself. Alves for me was the let down. He might have been going forward but his crosses were terrible. Inestia for me was the stand out withhis brilliant control and turns.. Great to see Fabregas in there and scoring his second goal for Barcelona.
    Can’t wait for the official starting of the Spainish La Liga!

  18. -Iniesta was awesome. Messi was good too. Epic finishing.

    -Good finishing by Cesc

    – Did I see Mascherano dive and Alves fall down easily after someone pulled his shirt?

    – Keita was average

    – Porto defended really well.

    1. – Did I see Mascherano dive and Alves fall down easily after someone pulled his shirt?

      Mascherano took a dive on our half that cost us a 2vGK opportunity on the other end. The ref didn’t call the advantage. I think he saw the dive but wasn’t sure, so he trolled us by calling a foul anyway :mrgreen:

  19. So we won? We won!!!! Another goal and trophy for Cescy. Poor Wenger. 😛

    Haven’t watched the game yet, but someone in the hateblob mentioned Adriano limping when he came off. Do we know yet if he is actually injured? Be very bad if his current run of terrific form is stopped short.

    Off to find a decent download.

    1. I didn’t see him limping, but he seemed to be struggling for a moment after a challenge. I then thought he picked himself up again and was fine, but he came off soon after.

      The two could be unrelated/it could have just been a precaution, and I haven’t seen anything about it since.

  20. Some channels are reporting that Guardiola asked a section of the Barca fans to stop chanting against Madrid. Anyone have footage.

    1. i saw it (on tv). it was after we had the trophy down on the field, it was at center field and we were about to make a ring around it. some fans started chanting and he wagged his finger at the stands. they stopped saying whatever they were saying, and then they began to sing the barca hymn instead.

  21. I’d make a new post but this one’s still good, I guess.

    Those discrediting value of our trophies, I refer you to this:

    To cules, this:

    Well done team! It just keeps winning!

    Porto played very well; and that shouldn’t be understated. Part of the reason we looked poor was because they forced us to make mistakes. They’re going to do well in CL this year. Hats off to them. (Should have kept their cool near the end though. Some cynical fouls. Glad to see Guarin (or whatever his name is) take his red card and leave the pitch quietly.)

    Iniesta had a monster of a match. Mascherano as well. Messi took some beatings but came up huge as usual. He’s so efficient. Just so glad he plays on our team.

    Wasn’t a great game from us TBH, and I wouldn’t want to watch it again. (Euler has my sympathy). The pitch was looking dangerous early on and almost got it done, but Leo to Cesc was magic.

    1. Buy water, flashlights, plenty of batteries and canned foods. Also, make sure anything of real personal value (photographs, videos, recordings) is kept high and dry. Also, buy/save water. This is the best advice I can give having grown up in the Caribbean. Finally, however you do it, have loads of water.

    2. To the water, I’ll also add that, to increase the chance of the roof staying on your house, crack open the windows on the leeward (non-windy) side of the house. If the hurricane’s eye passes overhead, the wind direction will change halfway through, so you’ll need to then open the windows on the other side of the house.

      This equalizes the pressure inside and outside.

      This is the best advice that I can give, having grown up in Fiji. 🙂

    3. i live in nyc @_@ so i have no idea what to expect >_< its so supposed to happened here tomorrow morning .. its already raining now.

  22. Firstly, the pitch was a total disaster. Nobody could do a change of direction on this field without pulling a patch of grass out of the field. The field was soggy and the field slippery and uneven. Given these circumstances, the Barca team did very well.

    Everyone played their parts very well.

    sMash – 9 ,was a monster in the back – tackling, intercepting, starting plays from the back – he even bailed Abidal out. My man of the match.
    Abidal – 7, was his usual calm and composed self. He did several key interceptions, especially in the air. Lost possession that once in the first half when sMash bailed him out. He bailed sMash out in the second half when sMash’s headed pass to Valdes left Valdes in no man’s land.
    Alves -8, was involved in the game a lot. Always being there as an outlet and kept the ball moving. He was closed down a lot. Showed his stamina by making lots of forward runs towards the end of the game. What a sportsman.
    Adriano -7, had a solid game. Hulk, their most dangerous player, was on him most of the game, and even though Hulk got past him a couple of times, he stood strong for most of the match, providing an outlet for play on the left the few times he was given space.
    Keita – 8, had an absolutely superb match. Given the condition of the pitch, he was turning the ball faster than I have seen him do in the past. He intercepted several balls in the air, and was constantly a thorn in the Porto attack. He was being helped by Xavi in his role as a defensive mid. No, he is nowhere close to the quality of Busquets, who can hold the holding midfield position on his own, and keep the ball moving, allowing Xavi and Iniesta to play in front of him.
    Xavi – 8, Calm and composed on the ball. Kept facilitating the movement of the ball from defense to offence, the role he plays best. It was pressing by Xavi and Iniesta that made the porto player play the ball back, which Messi scored from. He was playing to the right of Keita for much of the game in a holding midfield position and not in front of Keita. Because of this, there was a large gap between Xavi and Iniesta, resulting in loss of fluidity in the ball movement in forward areas.
    Iniesta – 8, He received the ball to the left of the centre circle in the attacking half, mostly from Xavi. Made dangerous runs from there, and created several passes from that area which could have ended up in goals if the pitch was in a better condition. No Iniesta did not have a bad game. Xavi was busy helping Keita out in the defensive mid. And Messi was sulking. That left Iniesta surrounded by 3 players without an outlet. This was a deliberate tactic to leave Xavi behind the centre line with Keita by Pep. I will leave the tactical analysis of the match to Euler.
    Messi – 6, Not fully match fit. We still saw flashes of brilliance from him, especially one of the diagonal runs in the first half where he bamboozled all the defenders, and passed to Villa. Also, the assist to Fabregas.
    Villa – 8, The thing about Villa is, he plays a cat and mouse game with the opposition defenders trying to beat the offside trap, which he ends up loosing a lot. But it is not his game alone to lose. It is a game between two players in the Barca team, and the defence line of the opposition. The first player in our team is Villa, the second is the one who is passing the ball to Villa. There were several passes that were very close to being perfect for Villa. He could have got a hattrick today if the ball was turned around quicker to him. I do not totally fault Villa for those. Also because of Villa touching the backline, he drags one or two defenders with him, which opens up space in the false 9 position for Messi. Great game.
    Pedro – 8, Energizer bunny. Kept the ball moving. Did his role. Pedro would have scored on the second half breakaway on the pass by Messi, but the pitch let him down. The grass from under his foot gave way.
    Valdez – 8, Kept the ball moving from the back. A safe pair of hands. Given the condition of the pitch he had some stray passes. Can’t blame him for that.
    Sanchez – 6, some nice touches, some step overs. Kept the ball moving. Much promise.
    Fab – 9, no words for the change that happened on the pitch when he came on. Xavi and Iniesta were tired at this point. They needed a box to box midfielder, who could score, and help out in the midfield, and he was it. He provided the passing link between Xavi on the right, and Iniesta on the left.
    Pep – 7, Spot on for his tactics – made Xavi play to the right of Keita as a double pivot in the holding midfield role. Porto would have overrun Barca with Keita as a lone holding midfielder. Left Pedro on too long. Pedro started getting too tired to run on the 70th minute. Should have substituted for him for Fab then, and not the 79th minute.

    One final word on Porto. They play magnificent football given the size of their club. Excellent defense, and wonderful offence. Guarin let them down. They are a classy club with a classy captain – Helton, and a young manager. I would be proud to be their fan. Pleasure to see Hulk take on Barca.

    1. So Villa and Pedro get more points that Messi? I don’t think so. Talking about Porto, their coach said something like this : “The referee didnt call a clear penalty and I’m sure that if it would have been for Barcelona, he would have call it, it’s difficult to beat a team that has a clear advantage with the referees” I saw it in Punto pelota (I was hoping a little less hating cause we won the supercopa…)

    2. Messi was tired. He was sleep walking. The rating is relative to what Messi could have done on the pitch. Yes Pedro and Villa put more effort in the game than Messi did.

    3. ‘Given the size of their club’

      Do you mean the individual players?

      ‘Cause those guys are huge.

  23. At some point, I want to see a forward line of Sanchez-Messi-Afellay. Just because everyone will be able to dribble and pass well. I love Pedro and Villa, but it is annoying watching them try to do a step over and trip on the ball. I like seeing the different style of attacks when can play. I remember a few times late in the season, we played Jeffren-Villa-Afellay. Pure speed on the wings, it was very different and fun to watch, and Villa was enjoying the crosses. Starting a game with Sanchez-Messi-Pedro will also be interesting. Pedro and Sanchez’s work rates together will be like having an extra player on the pitch. Maybe we can try Adriano and Afellay together on the wings as well. The two best crossers on the team. It would be better to play Pique as a 9 in that situation. Seriously though, this season I want to see Pique play as 9 a few times.

  24. Geez, guys, did we watch the same match? Just finished watching it, and aside from pitch issues (terrible!) that affected Barça’s passing game, and some bad communication at the back, the team looked pretty good to me.

    Almost 70% possession, 2 goals, no goals conceded (VV is more than a saint, he is a demigod). Watch it again without the tension of seeing it live and you will see we played a lot better than you think.

    I have some blitzen awards planned for tomorrow (APPLAUSE), but I have to go to a funeral first (Jack Layton, for fellow Canadians). 🙁

    1. in about 50 minutes, we’d had 6 offsides, those are missed chances and I think that was the worst of the game, it needs to be fixed.

    2. Bingo! The limited discussion about the micro mountain range, pseudo-cow pasture, slalom ski course, roller coaster without tracks nature of the terrain is funny. This pitch was a mess and had a significant impact on our play. Oh i forgot we dont make excuses…. There were a few close ups of the pitch and it was devastated with divots. It was worse than a dry, high grass Bernabeu for sure. Looked like a hundred bad golfers had their worst day on it.
      We played better than can be expected given the minefield called a pitch in Monaco.

    1. Messi would have been offside if it had been a pass from a Barca player. However, it was a backpass from Porto, you can’t be offside from a pass from an opponent. Therefore no offside.

  25. Awful pitch. Don’t understimate the effect of such a thing on the fluency of the passing game. Notice how much we passed in the air, because of the pitch, almost certainly.

    Villa pretty much sucked. Sanchez came on and right away, showed why if Villa isn’t careful, he’s going to be sitting a lot this season. Here’s the thing: You KNOW they’re running the offside trap, so stop falling for it. He also should have done light years better with that shot. He gagged it up.

    Pedro was pretty far off, too, with a number of crucial errors and abysmal finishing. The first-half chip was a joke, and he screwed the pooch on what should have been a sure goal, by concrete footing the ball to the Porto keeper. Yuck.

    The 3 subs (Busquets, Fabregas and Sanchez) brought back the command and control. Quite the defender, that Sanchez, and what. a. goal. from Fabregas.

    Porto pressed like crazy, and I think that with a reasonable pitch, that match wouldn’t have been close. At all.

    Keita was solid but still doesn’t have the fluency that I think our midfield requires. Abidal was clunkyfunky today, had any number of misplaced passes and could have given away a penalty had the ref not made the right call when the player ran into him and fell down. Mascherano was, once again, stalwart, and Adriano continues to play Maxwell into a deep, deep spot on the bench. Our etched-in-stone back line will be Alves/Pique/Puyol/Abidal, with Adriano as the first defender off the bench.

    Valdes has to talk. Mascherano had about zero idea that he was there, until it was too late. Thank Abidal’s pace for keeping the clean sheet.

    1. wow. try that pedro chip, on the volley, 100 times, with a class keeper in your way, and see if you even get as close as pedro did on his one chance (it hit the top netting). you won’t.

      unless we are thinking of something different.

    2. Another good performance for me. Pitch, early season and a decent Porto side who pressed well all made life difficult for us but for me the result was never in doubt and I could watch both goals over and over. Amazing how Messi put the keeper on his backside without even touching the ball ! Cesc’s goal was quality from start to finish.

      I wouldn’t go as far as you about Sanchez, Kxevin. He was okay, and maybe I’m expecting too much of him having watched all those YouTube clips but I’m reserving judgement a little till I see him over a few starts once he has learned the system, in particular what he does after he has beaten a man and his final touch, be it shot or cross. His quality isn’t in question, ‘though.

      I’m also a little concerned about the defence. Not sure who is in charge back there at the moment and for me it shows. I’d have liked to see somebody at least a little upset at the misunderstanding with Valdes. If Puyol had been there someone would have taken pelters, probably Valdes. I thought Alves was decent again but crossing is still an issue, I think Masch’s opinion of his own passing ability exceeds reality although he was good with the last ditch tackle. I’d like to see Abidal come onto a bit more form as well. He hasn’t been close so far to the standard he set himself last season while playing at CB ( and really needs to stop turning his back on shots/crosses). Of course, it’s difficult to judge as our defence is seldom under the cosh for any length of time. Still, it’ll be good to get Pique and Puyol back.

      Nice to see everybody now drooling over what Cesc can bring us. Again, I’d like to see how he does over 90 minutes and like others where he plays. By the time the subs came on Xavi and Iniesta had done the hard work tiring out Porto who by half way through the second half were dead beat. It must be brutal to play against them 🙂

  26. -wow–waaaaaaay too many offsides calls..but to be fair–from some of those replays- i thought we were on…but still..

    -also–waaay too much pressure on vv..but you know what i like–he never gets up yelling at the defense after he’s been tested..he kind of smiles-knowing he’s freakin’ badass…it really bothers me how when tim howard makes a save for the national team he gets up screaming at his teammates..he looks like such a jerk…

    it blows my mind that vv is not know around the world as the top keeper..really-my biggest hope is that over the next 3 years we can win another closet full of trophies so vv can get his starting spot on the national team in the next wc…people will complain about his distribution tonight- but i think he was given some shady passes and improper support..

    a couple questions for everyone–

    + it seems on a regular basis- pep’s first subs will be cesc, alexis, keita, adriano…does anybody else feel that (barring injury) we won’t be seeing much of thiago and afellay this season?..especially afellay. it is difficult for me to imagine in what situation he would be on the pitch.

    + does anyone else feel that smasch has won a starting spot?

    1. I suspect that Afellay and Thiago will get a LOT of time in the Copa, as part of that permanent Copa lineup. Also wouldn’t mind seeing us keep Soriano. He looked good before the injury.

      Mascherano has earned a spot, but where? Our first-choice back line doesn’t include him, which is unfortunate. But this is also Puyol’s last season as an automatic starter. I see Mascherano as an excellent CB. He could be what Pique needs once Puyol is gone.

    2. Why doesn’t our first choice back line include him? Masch just keeps getting better at CB. After the games against Madrid and Porto, we can also say that he is Puyol-ish in the way he dominates in the air despite his small frame. He is a lot faster than Puyol too, and it will probably be a while before Puyol gets anywhere near his pre-injury form. Once Puyol is fully fit and in form, he will still have a tough time regaining his starting spot ahead of Mascherano.

    3. I don’t agree. If fit and in form, Puyol offers more than Masch to me. He leads the team, has outstanding positional sense and, for me, a better idea than Masch for when to go to ground and when to just close down. I agree that Mascherano has played well for us but I just can’t see him pinning down a regular spot at the moment.

      I’ve a feeling Puyol may the sort we write off season after season but nobody remembers to tell him . . .

    4. 1) We’ll most definitely be seeing them during the season, especially in January onwards where there are Copa and Liga games in quick succession.

      2) I do. But when Puyol gets back, he’ll probably be taking a seat on the bench, which is unfortunate, but Puyi/Pique is our best and starting CB pairing. He’ll probably be replacing Puyol as his career winds down/as he looses a step.

    5. -also–waaay too much pressure on vv..but you know what i like–he never gets up yelling at the defense after he’s been tested..he kind of smiles-knowing he’s freakin’ badass…it really bothers me how when tim howard makes a save for the national team he gets up screaming at his teammates..he looks like such a jerk…

      it blows my mind that vv is not know around the world as the top keeper..really-my biggest hope is that over the next 3 years we can win another closet full of trophies so vv can get his starting spot on the national team in the next wc…people will complain about his distribution tonight- but i think he was given some shady passes and improper support..

      It’s a keeper’s job to organize his defense. Tim Howard’s style is to yell at his defenders because 80% of the goals that the USMNT concede are from bone-headed defensive screw-ups. It might be that his backline truly is awful at following instructions, or that Timmy simply isn’t good at organizing his defense. Valdes’s style is usually much calmer, which he can pull off because his defense is smarter than most and their understanding of each other is usually excellent.

      Valdes worries me sometimes, though. I recall today his not communicating well with this defense and leaving us on Abidal hero-tackle away from conceding in the second half. For a top-level keeper, he also does let in goals that he shouldn’t be allowing (see the first Arsenal’s goal at the Emirates last season). I agree with your general sentiment though: his shot-stopping ability is vastly underappreciated and his distribution is second to none.

      [That actually reminds me of a message board conversation I read recently where EPL fans were complaining how Barca in general (and Valdes in particular at 87) is vastly overrated on the new FIFA 12 videogame. Actually, all of Barca’s players are way up there, and the starting XI looks like it has the highest cumulative rating of any team in FIFA history. if you’re interested.]

    6. FIFA finally gives our players the ratings they deserve. Not happy with the fact that Busi is only an 83, yet Wilshere is an 82, but I’ll let it slide. The Abidal rating is pretty low, too.

    7. 82 for Abi is to little in my opinion. But I see what you mean, still I think this is the best squad in Europe (maybe with ManCity and EE)

  27. If Cesc continues to play as he has, Pep will have to find massive minutes for him. His link olio and understanding with long-time Barca players is amazing. He is epic and is clearly further along than Sanchez at this point. It was interesting how when he was subbed on, Iniesta slid up to LW and Sanchez moved to RW, amazing to see such versatility from everyone. It’s becoming clear that Cesc is impressing and I have little doubt that by mid-season he will be fighting for a starting spot, BUT WHERE. HE IS EPIC.

  28. did any notice the huge double captain’s armband xavi was wearing? i couldn’t understand looked totally uncomfortable…

    yes–i agree about tim howard’s need to yell at his backline–because they are, for the most part, dreadful…it just looks like he is so disgusted and unenjoying himself to the point that it actually appears to me that he hates his teammates…i am just all about keeping a good vibe- and vv seems to do that pretty well…

    i really hope that we have a permanent copa lineup…so we can see ibi and thiago…am i remembering correctly that our starters have seemed to play a lot of copa minutes over the last few years?…soriano, sergio roberto, montoya..lets get them on! to me-i wouldn’t mind one bit losing that tournament in the semi’s or finals if we could watch an entirely non-liga/champions league starting squad..

    well–i am all about our etched in stone backline of dani/puyol/pique/abi…so i wouldn’t suggest changing it at the moment…but smasch has transformed so much-it is so commendable and a mark of a truly talented footballer and professional..although i was happy when he joined us, i thought we were getting a bit of a hack monster, that was going to need a long time to fit in…well, it seems to have taken about 3 games…i am more than thrilled that he is one of our cb’s of the future..also- i love that he wears titi’s old number..

    recently i have this uneasy nervousness a few hours before game time about our squad selection…for the last few season’s the squad has been so small..our biggest concern was how to get minutes for bojan or gudjohnsen or marquez or sylvinho…guys who were or became clear back-ups…now we have what seems an entire second team that is capable of dominating almost any team in world…and i want to watch them all play!

  29. i agree about cesc…remarkable the connection he has already with the team..i was so impressed with his goal..if i were him on that play–i would have been soooooo scared of being taken out by the keeper..but he was so cool on it…

    i would have never said this before 3 games ago…and i supremely love xavi and hopes he becomes co-coach with puyol after pep retires…but i can see cesc taking xavi’s starting position during liga/champs games…then xavi check’s in at the 55 minute mark, moving cesc up a level and taking out one of the forwards…then xavi would captain the copa team…i can’t believe i just said that 🙁 maybe i don’t fully mean that–but it’s an idea..

  30. In case it hasn’t been posted already –

    (Pep’s reactions to the two goals and some other telling moments in the game).

    My quick take (sorry if lots repeated) –

    The pitch was a disaster and the players had to deal with a lot of awkward bounce and possible slips. Having said that they managed to string along a decent tiki-taka, only to be subjected to some brave Porto press. I liked how Porto played. They were physical but not dirty (except for some unfortunate rash challenges in the fag end of the game), and their defense was very disciplined.

    Thought Porto tried to narrow the pitch as much as possible, but Barca’s flank play was erratic. Villa was caught in too many offsides, lack assurance in finishes while Pedro was very erratic as well, even if his work rate was as usual good.

    Xavi played much deeper than usual and did a good job helping out Keita. The latter was not very assured initially but as momentum built up, he turned out to have a strong game, as a physical bulwark against Porto’s hefty front line.

    Alexis was a revelation as a defender. The one tackle he had of Hulk after running down the pitch and calmly sliding the ball away from his feet was incredible. I like the way Pep has encouraged him to take his shots.. the curler was a bit off, but it was an encouraging sign. I feel that he is better suited though for the Right Inside Forward position instead of the left.

    Mascherano and Abidal did very well considering that they weren’t quite a pair before. Mascherano reminds me so much of Fabian Ayala now. Very majestic, assuring and seems far taller than his actual height. His accurate passing is yet another unappreciated attribute.

    Busquets brought a bit of calm in taking the ball forward but I feel he looks jittery dealing with air balls. Alves had a good game in defense, but was not his usual self forward, straying passes away and looking a bit off in attack.

    Iniesta had an up and down game, with the ups being majestically illusionista, while the relatively few and far between downs were out of character – the yellow card for example.

    Messi seemed to be drifting in and out of the game but he had those magic moments that redeemed his play.

    Fabregas seems a magnet for hard fouls and for the ball in goal scoring positions. What an intelligent player!. Pep will have a great dilemma whether or not to play Fab as a starter as the season progresses. He seems to not have missed a beat since he left at 16. Arsene Wenger must be commended for fine tuning Fabregas into what he is now.

    Have to commend Porto again for playing an effective game and keeping it very competitive. They will do very well in Europe this year, no doubt and will be threat to the established big teams.

    Monday is going to be tough for Barca against Villareal. Pep possibly had that in mind while resting Busquets for the first half. I suspect Alexis will start as well and Cesc will again play super sub.

    This season promises to be a dream for FCB fans. Visca Barca.

    1. Those of us who are fans of Andres’ FB page know how he likes to take pantless photos of himself after games. Who are we to judge? 😆

  31. Guys, we weren’t that bad. The pitch was horrendous and the ball played us almost as much as we played the ball. We cules panicked at the beginninng of last year. We panicked at the end of last year. And still this team manages to get the job done.

    I’m very pleased with Alexis but am so surprised by Cesc. I mean I knew he was good, but I think he’s gonna be astounding with this team behind him. Things are going to be good this year. Keep the faith!

    Messi wasn’t his usual awesome self this game but in 3 official games we’ve scored 7 goals. He’s scored 4 of them and assisted 3. Just wow!

    People in the coastal areas of the mid-Atlantic US stay safe! (I’m too far west to be in much danger, but I have my flashlights and candles ready if the power goes out)

  32. For the first time since ever. We don’t have a starting XI.

    Pep will choose players according to fatigue,match conditions, play style, etc.

    Last few years, When we play against EE, We knew Our best XI was “this”.Now,If everyone’s healthy, We’ll never guess the starting line-up.

    Stay Safe Guys.

  33. Keep calm. Have faith. Credit to Porto for having a clear gameplan in stifling us. But given the quality of our subs I was never in doubt of the victory. Onto the Liga now..

    Boy can that Cesc score goals!

  34. La Albiceleste has been moaning about not having a successor to Ayala for quite some time now… how long do you guys think it’ll be before Sabella decides he’s found half the solution to his problems at center-back if Mascherano keeps this up?

  35. So I attended the match and I have to say it was much more enjoyable than any match I went to at the Camp Nou. The fans were wild 2 hours before the game and continued to be so until the players left with the cuo unlike the Camp Nu when it seems sometimes that the people forget they aren’t watching on TV.
    Mou got lots of love from the fans . He really is our number one public enemy.

    As for the match itself:
    Masche was awesome. Probably the player we most cheered for during this match. Impeccable tackling skills.
    Iniesta is just outta this world. Gets himself out of the most difficult situations with extreme ease. Also he’s so pale it seemed he was glowing at times.

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