• Jim
      August 27, 2011

      A good read and insightful as ever, Euler. Well done.

  1. Nik
    August 27, 2011

    Beautifully done Euler. Hats off to you.

  2. blitzen
    August 27, 2011

    I love this phrase:

    The image above is one of those moments Barcelona produces of impending disaster for the opposition.


    You’re converting me, slowly but surely. I’m reading your tactical analyses much more thoroughly than I used to!

  3. SoccerMom
    August 27, 2011

    I am considering awarding class credit for Euler’s BFB analyses on my syllabus this semester.

  4. August 27, 2011

    Firstly: this is just amazing. It’s like tactics crack or some kind of variant. Just nothing like it. And I add in Zonal Marking reviews, which are fantastic, but not as detailed as these reviews. (Helps that, unlike ZM, they focus more on Barcelona than the opposition). Agree on everything (even tempted to watch the match again, just to pick up on some of this stuff. I noticed some live, like Xavi dropping deep, Pedro and Villa’s subpar games, Adriano’s beastly performance etc., but not in such detail)

    Secondly: Alexis is just amazing. Really. I looked back at the polls we did earlier in the summer, and only 36 people wanted just Sanchez (can look here for the results: http://polldaddy.com/poll/5136035/?view=results). I don’t blame them since some haven’t really seen him play outside of the Chile NT, but it’s still interesting to look back and see.

    I can’t wait for him to really get comfortable (he’s still a bit tentative, and as Euler says, really conscious of the system we play and trying to adhere to it). He’s going to be really special!

    Thirdly: completely agree re: limitations of Villa and Pedro! One of the reasons Messi is such a monster is not only does he not really have many limitations (he can even score with his right foot), he’s also very flexible and adapts to his teammates to play to their skills. It’s really remarkable.

    When you have so many talented players who read the game well and have the ability to change their game to suit the changes all on one team… well, it will get very ugly for the rest of the world.

    So many people are talking about Sanchez and Cesc being players we don’t really need and are luxury signings, but this really illustrates why Pep wanted both of them so badly and why Rossi wouldn’t fit as well as Alexis.

    Really, really excited for the season. For the first time since maybe the Treble winning season, we don’t have a fixed starting XI. But even then, I don’t think it was to this extent.

    Villarreal game will be interesting re: our backline. Wonder what formation we’ll use… Alves is suspended and Pique/Puyol/Adriano are all injured.

    Looks to me like: Bartra/JDS – Mascherano – Busi – Abidal, but with Rossi and Nilmar being so quick… Shame about Pique’s injury. Would have liked to have him mark Rossi.

  5. August 27, 2011

    If there is a person outside of FC Barcelona who can understand and explain how FC Barcelona play better than Euler, I do not know them. Thanks, Euler!

  6. August 27, 2011

    Hi everyone,

    I had some trouble posting this write up. Computer glitch. Anyway, part of my post didn’t get saved when it got published. It was in the section with the Fabregas goal. There was another image that needed to be in the sequence. Just added that part.

    It’s around the image captioned:

    Iniesta Receives the Ball in the Space Vacated By the Porto Holding Player; Sanchez Starts Diagonal Run; Fabregas Works to Follow the Play

    And thanks for the thoughts.

  7. August 27, 2011

    Why is my comment longer than all of the others put together?! Pick your jaws off the ground, wipe off some drool, and talk people! 😀

    • blitzen
      August 27, 2011

      My comment is now longer than yours. 😛

      • August 27, 2011

        Oh yeah?! Oh yeah?! …Yeah, you’re probably right. 😛

        But everyone lurves blitzen awards. Myself included.

  8. blitzen
    August 27, 2011

    This was both a sad and joyful day for me. Went to a funeral for a lovely and important man, and it was beautiful. Now here are some blitzen awards for all of you lovely people:

    MOTMOTM Award: I feel bad because I so often pick Iniesta, but…Iniesta. The man is poetry in the flesh, and the things he did even on that feeble excuse for a pitch are jawdropping. What on earth is he going to be like 5 years from now?

    It’s Always the Quiet Ones Award: Much as I always enjoy it when Iniesta gets a bit shirty, I was surprised when he booted that ball into the stands and was properly yellow-carded for it. I suspect the state of the pitch was incredibly frustrating for him. And speaking of which….

    Campo De La Patata Award: That was not a pitch, it was a potato field, complete with clods of earth and bare patches. The effect on on our passing game was obvious from the first minute, and I was terrified that one of our players (XAVI) would sustain an injury. There were many misplaced passes and bad giveaways due to unexpected bounces and I give our team tons of credit for looking as good as they did.

    How Do You Like Him Now? Award: Cesc Fabregas, for shunting haters to the sidelines while he slides seamlessly into the team and racks up the silverware. 3 games, 3 trophies. OK, only two of them are “official”, but that’s still pretty impressive considering he contributed in a meaningful way in each of those games.

    They Might Be Giants Award: Was it just me, or were those Porto players enormous? Is this the tallest team Barça has ever played? I kept wondering what on earth they must be feeding them, since most of the Portugeuse men in my neighbourhood are little guys. Then I realized that most of the team weren’t actually from Portugal, and it made more sense.

    Who, Me? Award: Keita, for his epic “I didn’t do it” face after the foul that got him carded. Anyone has a pic of that? I need it.

    Red Is The Colour Of Love Award: The entire Porto team. Even though they ended up with two red carded players sent off, they were not a dirty team. They played excellent football, pressed strongly, used their size and strength to their advantage, but aside from the nasty foul that got Guarin sent off, there was no excessive aggression. Even Guarin himself knew he deserved the card and walked off with no argument. It was (should I say it?)…it was…(I’m gonna say it)…it was a victory for football!

    Get Thee To A Barbery Award For Egregious Hair Crimes: Villa, who found his hair gel again and decided twice as much is nicer, and Cesc, who appears to be housing a nest of squirrels on top of his head.

    Wave Your Flag Award: Cesc again, for inadvertently wearing the flag of the Catalan independence movement and causing a bit of a fuss. He claims he thought it was just a regular senyera, and I have no reason to doubt that. He apologized on twitter to anyone who was offended.

    I Could Watch This Gif For Hours Award: El Jefecito Mascherano. Just look at this: http://alaa.zamalek.tv/vip/masc.gif Smooth as silk. Impeccable. And Sabella is taking the ARG captaincy off him? Shameful. And on a related note….

    Dani Alves Memorial Award For Aquatic Excellence: Mascherano, for a blatant dive that was unworthy of him. Bad Masch.

    • August 27, 2011

      Keita face has to be .gif’d ASAP.

      Porto were a victory for football. Shame the pitch was so crap. They gon’ tear it up in CL, though they’ve got killer trips to Ukraine and Russia.

      David Villa hair went back to Napoli after the game FWIW. And Cesc’s hair is like that because that’s where he’s keeping all his medals. 😉

      And yes, Cesc has won a lot of people over. The first sign of weakness from him though and… muhahahahaha. 😀

    • Miguel
      August 27, 2011

      But Keita’s always rockin’ the ‘Keita face.’ It got stuck like that.

    • August 27, 2011

      They Might Be Giants Award: Was it just me, or were those Porto players enormous? Is this the tallest team Barça has ever played? I kept wondering what on earth they must be feeding them, since most of the Portugeuse men in my neighbourhood are little guys. Then I realized that most of the team weren’t actually from Portugal, and it made more sense.

      Yeah, this really surprised me when I heard it from the announcers. Apparently, from the starting 11 only Moutinho was born in mainland Portugal!

    • mom4
      August 27, 2011

      Euler review and Blitzen awards on the same night! Happy, happy, joy, joy!
      Now back to listening to the torrential rain and wind that is hurricane Irene and watching a marathon of Dr. Who (yes, I’m a geek).

      • August 27, 2011

        Hopefully, you’ll be a safe geek!

        Seriously, take care everyone!

        • mom4
          August 27, 2011

          I’m far enough west not to worry too much. I have my flashlights ready if the power goes out. Hope everyone in coastal areas stays safe.

      • blitzen
        August 28, 2011

        Thanks, mom4. It’s a loss for my whole country, actually. 🙁

    • Barcathegreatestever
      August 28, 2011

      Who me award is classic, someone ought to paste cookie crumbs all over his face.

  9. Ryan
    August 27, 2011

    Great analysis, Euler! It seems as ZM gets shorter and focuses on single, interesting events in a particular match, you have further expanded yours to be more thorough. It’s a great way to finish off a game, after the passion and flurry of match day are long gone.

    And for everyone on the east coast, stay safe and pray that we have power on Monday in order to watch the game!

  10. andrecito
    August 27, 2011

    “They Might Be Giants Award: Was it just me, or were those Porto players enormous?”

    hahaha..i kept thinking this every time guarin and hulk stood over a dead ball, getting ready to take a free kick..i thought they looked like a couple of high-end night club security assassins….

    • August 27, 2011

      …like a couple of high-end night club security assassins…


    • mom4
      August 27, 2011

      Yeah, like a bunch of rugby players.

  11. andrecito
    August 27, 2011

    lately i’ve been getting super-excited every time adriano receives the ball in the oppositions third…that final burst of speed, calmness, vision and perfectly weighted passes..like butter..

  12. August 27, 2011

    Porto’s attackers are very deceptive. They are all very broad and powerfully built. But they aren’t that tall.

    Hulk is 1.80 meters – looking at him he seems much taller. Rodriguez is only 1.75 meters. And Kleber while the tallest is 1.87 meters – he’s not a giant either.

    What Porto seems to be doing is trying to find powerful attackers who while far from midgets do not have high centers of gravity. This is partly what makes Hulk so good. His agility and balance for a player that broad and muscular is really something else. He’s almost built like a larger version of Alexis Sanchez.

    Overall they are very sturdy and tall even in midfield. Guarin is a huge physical presence. And on top of that he is very skilled on the ball. Impressive player outside of that rash streak.

    It’s still very early but I have concerns over how Kleber is going to possibly fit in. From the games I’ve seen of them this season, he’s not very fluid and will have a lot of work.

    It will be fascinating to see how Juan Iturbe develops at Porto.

    • SoccerMom
      August 28, 2011

      i.e., it’s not that Porto’s attackers are so tall … it’s that Barça’s players are ‘pequenines’.

  13. Srini
    August 27, 2011

    Thanks Euler. Great review as always.

    News goes that adriano is out for the villareal game. And alves is suspended for accumulating 5 cards at the end of last season.

    Possibly fontas and dos santos will fill up both as a testament and test to barca’s defensive versatality. As early as the first game of the season it is known that the greatest challenge to barca’s excellence is the test of their endurance.

  14. can_we_go_Xalvies
    August 27, 2011

    Thanks for the tactical review Euler, really good to read.

    Its interesting to read how Pedro and Villa struggled against Porto’s backline and the reasons why its not particularly their fault, its just the trade offs of Pep’s tweaking, but if Afellay was fit for this game would he have been a viable option coming off the bench? would we consider Afellay as a dribbling winger?

    This team is looking more and more like a finished puzzle, Im so excited.

    • Anonymous_69
      August 27, 2011

      Afellay is very fast and a pretty good dribbler. His speed would have been great.

  15. Sheena
    August 27, 2011

    Fantastic review, Euler. Thanks for that.

  16. Puppet
    August 27, 2011

    I did notice throughout the game that Xavi was constantly coming back as an outlet for Valdes, but I guess I lacked the tactical insight to see that as a big change in his usual role. Thanks for putting that in the broader context, Euler!

    Also, VV’s save on Guarin was incredibly similar to Van der Saar’s save on Xavi in the Champions League final: both shots looked to be just curving in and both required acrobatic, full-stretch saves. Even more proof to the world that Valdes is one of the best keepers in the game.

  17. Maybe What I am going to say is nonsense. But I felt that we were pretty lucky to win this match. You may go gaga over how keita worked as a holding midfielder, but I am getting convinced that it is an exercise which pep should stop at the earliest. this also questions the logic of selling Romeu to Chelsea. He could have been a good back up better than Keita. We were lucky that porto didn’t had the quality to finish of their moves and we were pretty lucky with the goal. Pep Guardiola once said that he is more comfortable when the ball is in opposition half and that’s the truth with Barca. In the first half especially the opening minutes we couldn’t get out of our third. Keita wasn’t giving any cover to our defense.

    Whenever our defense gets pressured their first outlet is normally the DM. Busquets does a good job there. The funny part with Keita he gives the ball back to the defense immediately and that means they are back on the pressure immediately. that’s why we saw the back four and the keeper clearing the ball into the crowds more than usual. Xavi dropping as a DM? I don’t think it was done as a deliberate ploy but done once we realised that our play is getting stagnant in the defense.And it was only when Xavi dropped deep we started to create some moves.

    I think this is the new tactic which Guardiola has found in this season. Two season ago he did something similar promoting Busquets ahead of Toure. That worked for most of the part because atleast he was a holding midfield player. But it did backfire spectacularly at the San siro taking away a much cherished dream from all the Cules- winning the CL at the Bernebeu. And because of that we are hearing a bastard shouting that he is the one who stops Barca. I think he is determined to continue this experiment this season. We saw against Real Madrid the issue with this tactic. They over-run us at the Bernebeu. The truth that night was that had Real been not so hasty in front of goal, we wouldn’t have escaped from there with a 2-2 draw.

    If you look at the last six seasons you can see when we have been playing well. We always play well when we have a proper functioning DM in the midfield. The Rijkaard team had Edmilson the Toure, Guardiola in the first season had a Toure as immense as it can get, then in the last season Busquets has emerged himself. The better way to analyse Keita’s impact on our style will be to see how much of our possesion was above the half line. If Guardiola is interetested in emerging Keita as a holding midfielder then it would be better to change the formation to 4-2-3-1 formation. He did try this one extensively in his second season. That would give Keita some cover and will not take much away from our wings. With Xavi dropping from midfield in a 4-3-3 formation the whole team is getting drawn backwards.

    • Sheena
      August 28, 2011

      Regarding Romeu to Chelsea:

      I think that a major part of that sale was out of loyalty towards Keita. There is definitely a bonus in having Romeu get regular playing time and being able to develop as a player, and I do believe that the club will exercise the buy out clause in a few years.

      But if he had stayed, it would have meant Keita hardly getting to play as the DM position would have been filled. Last season, he was content to come off the bench to stabilize things late in the game, but with the arrival of Fabregas, him getting any playing time at all would require several members of our starting XI to be unavailable.

      Pep has said numerous times how much he values having a player like Keita on the team, and in order to keep him content, I think the Romeu sale had to be done.

      • I do agree with that. But putting him as a holding midfielder is a huge injustice to the player. Atleast he should switch back to 4-2-3-1 when using Keita as DM.

  18. August 28, 2011

    Just wanted to say how totally awesome these reviews are, the attention to detail and the amount of effort that goes into it…thanks for taking the time, Euler. It’s a pleasure reading your reviews.

  19. Blau-Grenade
    August 28, 2011

    Thanks Euler. Lovely piece of analysis as always.

  20. Nik
    August 28, 2011

    In regards to the doubts of Keita playing in the DM position, recall that there was much consternation among cules last season when another player was being played out of position by Pep during preseason. I am of course referring to Abi, who most definitely did not impress upon first being slotted into the CB role. But Pep believed in him, and that faith paid off.

    Obviously, it’s not a perfect comparison. Abi and Keita are different players, and time may show that Abi was more suited to play CB for us than Keita was to play DM.

    However, in Pep I trust, and in Keita Pep trusts. So, I will too.

    • blitzen
      August 28, 2011

      ^ I heartily endorse this comment.

  21. mei
    August 28, 2011

    Euler , what a review.

    As far as keita is concerned , people , weve seen the play before :

    We tend to be concerned and voice those concerns when something does not seem right – like busquets displacing Toure at DM and making some costly mistakes early on , Abidal on CD even Messi as a false nine.
    Guardiola knows his players , and nows what it takes to play in the position HE! played in the past.

  22. Blaugranes
    August 28, 2011

    Very good analysis, Euler.

    I was thinking, may be Sanchez started his diagonal run because he thought Iniesta was going to provide him with a through pass that would run through the space between the two defenders in front of him. Instead Iniesta passed the ball to Messi. Sanchez kept running to link up with Messi.

    Fabregas’s run was excellent. In the previous years, Barcelona often lacked enough players inside the box, specially during counter attack. Keita made delayed runs in some matches. But Fabregas is a much better finisher than Keita, which would be very effective for us.

  23. y2k156
    August 28, 2011

    Excellent piece Euler. You are setting new standards. I have to say that your analysis is as good as any on the net.

    Porto did make it difficult for us. Messi was as usual the difference. Sometimes it feels as if he has made excellence so routine that people do not give him enough credit. He has been the difference maker in all of our matches this season, which is quite absurd even for him. Pep has been instrumental in making sure that Messi has team around who can bring the best out of him and that is such an asset. There are too many so called top level managers who are simply not capable of doing this.

    I think this is first season when we will not have a first 11 under pep but a first 15 who will be used based on opposition. I can think of only VV, Pique, Alves, Iniesta and Messi being sure starters in important matches, if they are fit. For opposition, this is really scary as we will also come at them with differentiated tactics and not just skills.

    About Keita, I do not think he will be as good DM as Smasch or Busi. He has been key player and i believe he will be good in that role, esp in 4-2-3-1 or 4-2-2-2 formation.

    At the same time, Villareal will be difficult match. They always give s trouble and with three of our best defenders out, i have to say that it is worrying. At the same time, they always give us a game so looking forward to it.

    • Jim
      August 28, 2011

      Did you mean to leave Xavi out of your list ? If so, I can’t agree. If fit, he’d be second name on mine.

      • y2k156
        August 28, 2011

        I do think that in some matches, Xavi might be on bench. Not the most important matches of course but e.g in CL Q final, i can see him being given a rest so that he does not play two matches in succession.

        • Jim
          August 28, 2011

          Ah, I see. Agreed that he will sit out some matches where he is fit to keep him fresh.

  24. irie_jamaican
    August 28, 2011

    Excellent job, again! Thanks Professor Euler.

  25. Humphrey Bogart
    August 28, 2011

    Professor Euler with regards to our depleated backline which back 4 would you like to see and why?

  26. Leckan1
    August 28, 2011

    You’re the greatest Euler. Hope to see many more comprehensive match-reviews like this from you in the future.

  27. mega_tajh
    August 28, 2011

    I do recall Keita started his playing career as a DM at Lens in France. I believe with more time as DM in our system he would get used to it.

  28. Barcathegreatestever
    August 28, 2011

    Fantastic review Euler, Bravo! especially the discussion of the post red card adjustments. Thankyou.
    I also thought Keita had one of his best matches for Barca. Very happy for him cause for a while he seemed pretty lost and just not very good.
    I’m really interested to hear your thoughts on a couple points if you would. One, forwards are consistently downgraded for not scoring. Actually they can even score and get downgraded for not scoring enough. I think it is perhaps the hardest position out there. Also, space created in the middle is not just a function of midfield movement and threatening positiong and runs made by Pedro and Villa is not just exhausting but vital for the work of the mids. Something I don’t think you have mentioned.
    Second when the outside backs play advanced positions, even a little it allows the defending team to get really compact in the middle, both in front of their own goal line and when pressing Barca in their own half. I thought Madrid did it very well with three defensive backs in the Copa. Effectively it puts the ball on the feet of the centerback and I’ve been very uncomfortable seeing Pique and Abidal dribbling and being responsible for getting the ball worked up safely. Masch may be the blueprint for the centerback of the future. Sometimes I feel they are switching the outside back roles all game. Anyway when Alves and Adriano play to support possession in the back there is way more room in the middle and Messi and Xavi don’t have to drop all the way to the 18 to see the ball.

  29. Barcaleya
    August 28, 2011

    Thank you again for this wonderful analysis, Euler!

  30. Barcathegreatestever
    August 28, 2011

    If you look at the Xavi dropping deep picture you can see how there is no passing lane at all to Alves and Adriano would get instant pressure if played. Meanwhile Porto is able to put serious pressure on the back line forcing the mids deeper and deeper to maintain possession. After the Copa Barca opened the backs really square and I thought they immediately looked more comfortable through the CL final.

  31. August 28, 2011

    Remember all of those silly (but completely expected) cries from England about whether the “young spanish keeper” was good enough to mind the nets for United?

    I think that absurd concern is going to be forgotten quickly (at least for a while)

    De Gea stops a PK from Van Persie to protect a 1-0 lead.

    • Barka
      August 28, 2011

      Walcott shot through De Gea’s legs to make it 1-3 for Arsenal.

      • August 28, 2011

        I know. Odd mistake from De Gea.

        I did say at least for a little while. I guess that little while was only 15 minutes. =(

        But on the whole it just seems so silly to make these grave pronouncements about De Gea’s talent and future based on two games.

        Like all young players he’s going to have to continue to learn and get better. It’s silly to buy a player that age and expect differently.

        People in England are making it out as if De Gea’s hasn’t ever played in big games before because from there point of view if it doesn’t happen in the EPL it doesn’t exist. They have no idea how big an Atleti vs. Real Madrid match is.

        • Barka
          August 28, 2011

          Did people make a big ruckus over De Gea’s error in that Man City match?? I didn’t really pay a lot of attention to the Brit press so I’m not sure. BUt yeah I agree with you, De Gea’s talent is undeaniable.

          Still I think he’s been a bit shaky these past few matches. It probably has a lot to do with the diffference in playing styles between England and Spain. I remembered Pepe Reina also made silly mistakes at the beginning of his Liverpool career too, like in that match against Everton when Liverpool lost 3-0 and he was responsible for all 3 (I think) goals. De Gea can definitely improve a lot but it’s going to take quite some time and he mustn’t make any silly errors in big matches in the UCL for example.

          • August 28, 2011

            Huge enormous ruckus over de gea’s first few games. Huge. Talks about whether or not United should bench him. If he was a mistake purchase because he didn’t have the mental make up to play at Old Trafford.

            They’ve just put him under a microscope and criticize any slight issue just looking for reasons why he’s not good enough for the best team in the EPL.

    • nzm
      August 28, 2011

      Neuer’s getting the same reception at Bayern. The fans hate him. Trial by fire.

  32. August 28, 2011

    with regards to our depleated backline which back 4 would you like to see and why?

    Yes – this is looking to be a big problem.

    Villareal’s system is complicated and that’s really what you have to base your choice of substitutes on for the line.

    The key issue here is the positioning and runs of Villareal’s two man striker formation. Rossi and Nilmar (and Ruben) play very unorthodox in advanced position.

    I wrote about this in my tactical preview of Villareal last season for reference:


    Their two up top do not simply stay in the middle to occupy the center backs like traditional strikers do. Instead, they repeatedly split wide to each corner.

    This is really important for the match on monday because they can isolate themselves against the full backs.

    It’s going to be a major responsibility to ask a youth team player to man RB just based on experience.

    The barca RB will be isolated against Rossi who is going to look to cut in from the right onto his left foot.

    Unfortunately, Montoya played yesterday for the B team as it is and played 90 minutes. It’s going to be an even bigger question to ask Bartra to play RB.

    I have to think about this more (may try to do a post about it if I have time). But I think what I would do is play Masch and Fontas in the middle with Abidal in the right.

    At right back I would play Alexis Sanchez or Pedro. Most likely Pedro as he would be more familiar with how the Villareal system and how the strikers play.

    • blitzen
      August 28, 2011

      Puyol took part in full training today, so he may possibly get some minutes! Not as a starter, I don’t think.

      • August 28, 2011

        Good to see the captain coming back. They really need him – doesn’t even have to be as a starter – just as depth even.

        It would be a lot to ask Puyol to try to play after the injury and lay off to play against the movement of Villareal’s front two in his first game back.

        But he is Puyol!

        I think they need someone who is both mobile and can get forward. Getting forward for at least one FB is unfortunately one of the keys to beating villareal.

        And I really hope these rumors about Bartra possibly going to the Spurs on a sale/ buy back deal are completely false.

        The team cannot afford to continue to deplete its depth in defense unless they buy another defender. Hopefully it’s just nothing but it was reportedly in the Sunday Times.

        • blitzen
          August 28, 2011

          Doubt very much Bartra will be going anywhere. He knows he is in Pep’s plans this year and will likely get promoted next season. Can’t imagine he would want to trade that for Tottenham.

          • Humphrey Bogart
            August 28, 2011

            At least not if there is a danger to get spanked like they did today,

            and thanks for the link to the Mou interview,

            he is such a hypocrite but even worse is that the media is falling over itself to l** his a****

            Of course a nice guy like Pep does not deliver this kind of headlines

  33. August 28, 2011

    Arsenal are just getting completely embarrassed now. 4-1. And the match may be more one sided than the score.

    Arsenal don’t even have a professional team out on the pitch. It’s a bunch of kids running around.

    Oops. Make that 5-1 now.

    What has Wenger done? None of this was necessary. But he just wouldn’t accept reality. He wouldn’t just move on.

    And he just won’t reinvest when they desperately need it.

    Three days left in the transfer window.

    • Humphrey Bogart
      August 28, 2011

      The problem is he may also destroy the self confidence of his young players who are forced to endure this kind of humiliation due to his denial and/or the boards way of doing thigs

      Suppose RvP is the next to leave, maybe followed by Wilshire

      • August 28, 2011

        Destroying the confidence of the young players is a huge issue.

        This is not development for them. It’s pure embarrassment. They are just being humiliated out on the pitch.

  34. jordi™
    August 28, 2011

    Arsenal getting humped. The Manchester teams scored 11 goals today.Of course the EPL is super competitive and those big scores never happen.

  35. August 28, 2011

    Ok. 6-1.

    I can’t even keep up my typing with United’s scoring.

    This isn’t a match. It’s a mockery. Arsenal aren’t even competitive.

    Also – after this Arsenal United game is over look for the cascade of focus on Arsenal’s back line.

    Now Arsenal’s back line is poor they are playing kids.

    But the problem at Arsenal isn’t even the back line as much as it is the team defending.

    Wenger really did his side a disservice today. He insisted on playing the same system they usually does.

    They’ve been playing a high back line – but there’s no organization or pressure up higher on their press.

    This is leaving their back line completely exposed.

    They are playing Jenkinson and Trarore at full backs – and so much of United’s attack is oriented around play through their wingers down the flank.

    There had to be more pressure and defensive help from the Arsenal wingers.

    On another note – the United defense has not looked good. Arsenal has had a number of easy chances they haven’t converted.

    RVP just scores. 6-2. Crazy match.

  36. Humphrey Bogart
    August 28, 2011

    Will be interesting to see if Wenger can survive a humiliation like that, the last team that got spanked like that were Rovers and they nearly did go down, and West Ham and they did go down

  37. August 28, 2011


    Rooney with the hat trick off a penalty kick.

    Would not be surprised if this ended 10-2.

    Arsenal has not fielded an even semi-respectable team today.

    Complete failure of leadership by Wenger. He knew exactly how difficult the start to their season was.

    And he just wouldn’t buy any players. Complete failure from their board as well.

  38. mega_tajh
    August 28, 2011

    So ManCity beats Spurs 5-1 and ManU beat(ing) 7-2. There goes the worlds best league huh.

    • Humphrey Bogart
      August 28, 2011

      No wonder, that SAF wants A.W. to stay on the helm for Arsenal, with him as coach they can bag 6 points at the start of every sesason,

      Arsenal are to M.U. what Patetico are to the EE

  39. Xingxian
    August 28, 2011

    Euler, wonderful review as always.
    Also, 8-2

  40. jordi™
    August 28, 2011

    8-2 O.o

    Was about to say the 4th official was heartless with 3 additional minutes.

  41. jordi™
    August 28, 2011

    Its honestly unfair to expose young players like that, and at old trafford no less.

  42. August 28, 2011

    United Embarrasses a comical Arsenal line up 8-2 and it’s evidence of how special United is rather than how lop sided and uneven the EPL is.

    Remarkable logic.

    8-2 anywhere else would just be evidence for how poor the league is.

    United are a terrific team. But this match was much more about that collapse of Arsenal as they didn’t even field a professional team.

    • Ryan
      August 28, 2011

      Remember the 8-0 match vs. Almeria? The British announcer spent the entire 90 minutes bemoaning the lack of competition and fighting spirit in la Liga. I imagine it would have been quite different had it been United-Arsenal he was watching.

  43. y2k156
    August 28, 2011

    Wow, 8 – 2 could easily be 15-5 and it would not be unfair. United also blew bunch of excellent chances.

    If this is not the wake up call, i really have to imagine what is. I admire Wenger for his philosophy but his insistence of not even paying market prices and buying (mostly) french players is simply too outdated in today’s world.

    Btw, Man City look scary. Man U are very good but for me, Man City have the better squad. If Chelsea do not buy Modric or some one similar, hard to see them challenging two Man clubs.

  44. Humphrey Bogart
    August 28, 2011

    I hope now canteros will think twice before leaving La Masia for Arsenal, just to be thrown to feed the wolves like that.

    • Mila
      August 28, 2011

      And yet even after Spurs – City, Bartra is being touted to be sold to the Spurs…. Why? Please let it not be true!!!

  45. August 28, 2011

    Also – up 6-2, Patrice Evra blatantly dives in the box to pick up a penalty kick.

    Just think about that. 6-2 – and he dives for a penalty.

    And there’s no comment on it. It’s just completely ok because there’s no such thing as diving in the EPL.

  46. Jackieboy
    August 28, 2011

    I feel bad for the Arsenal goalie, he’s such a good kid and stood no chances on either of those goals. Also, Man City does look better than than Manyoo, but I don’t see either of them being a threat to us as long as we stay relatively healthy.

  47. August 28, 2011

    I think this might be the first non-Barcelona club football match I go through the trouble of downloading.

    Yes. I think it will be.

    • August 28, 2011

      Replay is at 3:25pm on Setanta (I’ve got a free preview). Definitely gon’ check it out..

    • Mila
      August 28, 2011

      It is really worth it – the game was wonderful, opened and just wow!

    • Miguel
      August 28, 2011

      I fell asleep through it. It was just sad. I kept picturing a suicidal Wenger calling up Fabregas and telling him he was gonna ‘do it’ unless the Catalan came back to him. Arsene’s whole world just fell apart today. Or it should have.

      City looked really good today, especially considering it was Nasri’s first game. I was just so happy De Jong wasn’t in the line up.

      So is the Madrid v Zaragoza game being broadcast?

  48. Vj
    August 28, 2011

    This slaughter makes me worried about our backline problems. Do we follow suit tomorrow?

      • Vj
        August 28, 2011

        I’m genuinely concerned. OK I might be exaggerating a bit but yeah I’m worried. Some of these days someone might call us out like Arsenal..

  49. August 28, 2011

    Last season much too much was made of Man City being “negative” under Mancini. Mancini has been tactical and defensive in the past but not nearly that bad.

    It was very clear that Mancini saw last season as a transition year – he was still building his squad.

    And he really had one goal – do what’s necessary to qualify for the CL. He did that – and won a trophy.

    Last season they really didn’t have the players to play an expansive game.

    Mancini has unlimited resources to use – but he has bought high quality talent.

    I’m still just so surprised more teams – Chelsea especially – didn’t try to bid on Aguero.

    And on another note – Mancini is a much, much better tactician than the vast majority of managers in the EPL. That seems to have been a major reason why City dominated the spurs so badly today.

    • Barcaleya
      August 28, 2011

      Thank God, Chelsea didn’t get Kun.

      I don’t like them. I started disliking them during Mou’s reign and even though he’s not there anymore, I don’t like the club still. I love Torres and Mata though. But it would have been terrible if they got Kun.

      • Ryan
        August 28, 2011

        And don’t forget Romeu, he’ll be fighting for a spot soon enough I bet.

  50. Srini
    August 28, 2011


    Commenting here so that my question doesn’t end up in the clutter.

    I think that Alexis Sanchez is going to play the full back role on Monday. If I remember correctly he played that role in the World Cup game against Spain for Chile? Can you please confirm? He was the LB then. I wouldnt’ therefore be surprised if he reprised it, but at the RB position.

    Suspect the squad on Monday would be Valdes, Sanchez, Mascherano, Fontas and Abidal in defense.

    • August 28, 2011

      I don’t remember Sanchez playing at FB for Chile in the WC. He was repeatedly dropping deep to press the ball in his own defensive half.

      I would seriously consider Sanchez at FB as I wrote above. My only concern would be that he’s not familiar with how Villareal play and they have an unusual system.

      I’d probably use Pedro there with Sanchez ahead of him and tell Sanchez he needs to support Pedro on that flank defensively. It’s somewhat arbitrary but having Pedro in the deeper position may be helpful.

      We’ll see – Bartra did practice with the first team today. If I had to guess I think we’ll see Bartra at RB.

    • August 28, 2011

      One other thing I’d add about Sanchez at full back.

      Here’s the question I would ask him:

      Do you feel that you understand enough about how Isla has played behind you at Udinese and Chile to play that role?

      If Sanchez feels comfortable and says that yes I understand what Isla has been required to do and I can play that role I would strongly consider using him at RB.

      Basically that’s what they would need Sanchez to do against Villareal – play an Isla-like role and pay particular attention to the villareal strikers cutting wide.

  51. Humphrey Bogart
    August 28, 2011

    Seems Puyi is close to return,maybe we could turn to him in this case of emergency

  52. Barcathegreatestever
    August 28, 2011

    I think the Villareal game could be very tricky and being the first game requires as many experienced first teamers as possible. So Maxwell Masch Sergio and Abidal in the back Keita with Iniesta and Xavi and MVP up top. Cescs defensive qualities are a question for me. Alexis is completely unproven as an outside back. Start the rotations another day

  53. adopted cule
    August 28, 2011

    Great analysis as always Euler.

    The finishing note is the most interesting part about this piece, to me.

    At the end of both Super Cups, with the result very much hanging in the balance, Pep has chosen to use Fabregas, Xavi, and Iniesta on the field together and the ineffective duo of Pedro and Villa substituted off, effectively using a 4-4-2 in both instances(in the Porto match, because Xavi was playing so deep to ‘split’ the DM role with Keita, it looked more like a 4-2-2-2 as noted) and in both instances Barcelona’s attacking play was revitalized. Given that Pep is only carrying 4 nominal forwards on a team that supposedly plays a 4-3-3 over a brutally long season, I wonder if we are not going to see much more of this 4-4-2 or even a very fluid and attack minded 4-5-1 from Barcelona this year, with both Messi up front and Fabregas from the midfield given license to roam freely on the field to find space to exploit, a la Cruyff in the Ajax total football of the ’70’s.

    • August 28, 2011

      You’re asking one of the central question of this season. Given the disproportionate number of central midfielders the team has and the amount of talent those players have how does the team best deploy them as assets?

      Pep partially answered that question last season with Mascherano and Busquets. Trust the diversity of their skill sets and use them at other positions and in other parts of the pitch.

      In terms of personnel, a 4-2-2-2 or 4-4-2 diamond make sense for the reasons you’ve described (especially now with Afellay out and the team down to 4 forwards).

      But those formations bring up serious tactical questions that make them difficult to utilize for tiki-taka.

      The biggest issue with those formations is that they can become very narrow as you can lose width. That is a major problem for Barca as teams already try to defend narrow. This would largely facilitate those defensive approaches.

      Those formation also pose problems for barca defensively. They will not be playing a conventional 4-4-2 with wingers. In a 4-2-2-2 or 4-4-2 diamond it can be very difficult to press efficiently because you may not have players on the flanks to close down the ball.

      Finally, moving out of the 4-3-3 may risk losing Messi in his false 9 role. I don’t know if Pep wants to do that. If anything he is building the team completely around Messi playing in that false 9 with advanced players on both sides (without two forwards flanking him Messi’s passing would not be as effective when he drops deep).

      We may see some changes in shape like we did against Porto – but I think that won’t be a major approach (again, even against Porto it was in response to the sending off).

      Instead, I think we are going to see more redeployment of those talented midfielders to other positions so that they base shape can be maintained.

      We’ll see quiet a bit of Iniesta on the wing. We’ll see Fabregas as a false 9, etc.

      I also think we may wind up seeing a more advanced attacking player move back to full back at some points this season. The barca full backs are hybrid full back – wingers and there’s significant overlap between who the wide players in the 4-3-3 and the full backs play.

      When barca are in possession they convert to a 2-1-4-3 as it is with the full backs playing wide in the middle. I think Pedro or Sanchez could assume those roles if needed.

      • adopted cule
        August 29, 2011

        Unsurprisingly, your analysis here is tactically way beyond anything I conceived of, particularly the aspects of moving a out of a 4-3-3 potentially narrowing the field and reducing Messi’s false 9 effectiveness. What led to my suggestion was something far simpler: Hasn’t Cesc, in less than one full game on the field, already shown that he is miles beyond both Villa and Pedro, given that they are not as versatile as most of the other players on this team, in as far as implementation of both Cruyff’s and Pep’s total football vision. If my eyes were to be trusted, Cesc was clearly the fourth best attacking player on the team (actually my eyes told me he was just behind Messi, but I have too much respect for Xavi and Iniesta to just pop Cesc up ahead of them after 3 games). His runs from midfield are numerous and incisive. His chemistry with Messi has the potential to be electric, if it isn’t already. My thought was simply this: doesn’t he have to be on the field as a starting XI player, and if so, what does that mean for the formation?

        Your points about losing Messi as a false nine and about keeping width might be answered by an aggressive 4-5-1, which is what my emotional side wants to see: with Iniesta and Sanchez playing the wide roles, this can still effectively function as a 4-3-3 if it needs to. How much do you lose with essentially replacing Villa with Iniesta and Fabregas sliding into Iniesta’s spot? Sanchez is probably going to take Pedro’s starting XI spot because of his versatility in any case.

        If Pep really wants to keep the 4-3-3 shape, Iniesta vs Villa really might be an upgrade, but the glaring red flag might be losing the chemistry between Xavi and Iniesta in midfield.

  54. Barcathegreatestever
    August 29, 2011

    I can agree that Iniesta is better than Villa in the middle but not as a forward, they are just different. Cescs work was against 10 then 9 men. Barcas best moments in recent history were when they could penetrate out wide to the end line and attack from the end line as well as from Messis spot. Henry and Eto’o were the Kings at that. Villa and Pedro and also Sanchez and Affelay are going to destroy the offside trap by the end of the season. I’ll bet Pep has them working night and day on it.

  55. Very lengthy report on the match.

    Just wondering where you source the stats (passing, positions, etc) from? I couldn’t find much other than basic shot/possession stats for this game.

    Interesting to read another view point aswell – I took a look at the match from the opposition view.

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