Barca 1, Almeria 0, a.k.a. “Wallowing in it.”

So. Happy. Right. Now!
So. Happy. Right. Now!

Wow. What a golazo! That it was the only goal wasn’t really surprising when you watched the match for more than 10 minutes, as Hugo Sanchez unveiled a new formation, the 0-10-0, in an effort to keep us from scoring, shamefully playing for a draw at the Camp Nou.

Thankfully, the footy gods brought us the new, calm Pedro!, who spun and smoked a shot into the far upper 90, that was astonishing. Maxwell will get credit for the assist, but it’s a gift because that goal was all P!.

Who knew that it would be the only goal?

Guardiola rolled out a lineup that gave me instantaneous pucker: Valdes, Alves, Marquez, Puyol, Maxwell, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro!, Messi, Ibrahimovic. Why? Because Busquets will always have his moment, Maxwell gives away corners too cheaply and Marquez is still experiencing his Great Decline, which makes Puyol grab his fireman costume and run around too much. And whenever that happens, we concede.

Thankfully, Almeria had about as much interest in attacking us as I have in showering with a brick of limburger cheese, as The Fear kept them in check. “Can’t have them beating us 6-0. Nope. No way. Just kick them and the ball and off we go.”

And it almost worked, were it not for the aforementioned moment of individual brilliance saving the day. And a few more words about that golazo. Because Pedro! always attacks with the ball, the three defenders forming a triangle around him were playing him for the run or the pass. To his credit he realized this and decided that something from distance was just the trick. It’s his second strike for us that was crucial, that was again done with power and accuracy. And that moment was needed, because Almeria decided to man-mark Xavi again, as that is the tactic of this season and will remain so until Guardiola finds a way to beat it. I’d like to hand him the clue phone, which has someone on the other end saying “Busquets and Marquez don’t help!” With one constant follower and another shadowing, Xavi was effectively marked, and rarely allowed to be our devastating puppet master, except in non-danger areas.

This meant that Iniesta had to be the orchestrator, and that we had to one-touch our way into scoring positions. Iniesta, however, was just too anonymous and unselfish to a fault. He also looks like a little boy out there, with a body ill-suited to play the physical matches that the officiating dictates. And you can’t even say that the ref was having a bad match. He just wasn’t calling the ticky-tack stuff that we usually get. In every replay, the defender got ball first. It could be argued that the only call he missed was when he awarded a corner for a challenge in the box, but the defender didn’t touch the ball. So it’s either a penalty or a goal kick, dude. A corner is a punk call.

We also wasted Ibrahimovic by throwing long balls his way and saying “Do your thing, big fella,” or not working overlaps properly, which left Ibrahimovic’s three defenders to keep him company, with nobody taking advantage of the space created by his presence. It’s early days yet, but I’m sure he could be forgiven for thinking, just for an instant, “I could have stayed in Inter for this kind of stuff.” Pedro! worked very well with him, but you could see him trying to find space in which to work, being constantly shadowed by much of the very determined Almeria defense.

There were spaces to play into, that would come whenever Ibrahimovic took the ball and moved, and someone moved into the space that he’d just vacated. He lofted in a perfect ball for Pedro!, who should have done better with it. Then it was a perfect setup for Xavi, who knocked off a shot that the keeper still has no idea how he stopped.

And we spent more time arguing with the ref instead of playing the kind of one-touch football necessary to rip Almeria apart, bickering over alleged fouls not called. But every side that we face henceforth is going to play us physically, and the trick is to give it back when you can, and play through it when you can’t. Alves understands this, so does Puyol. The calls aren’t coming. Why should officials make the rich richer? Get over it and play football.

There were many bad signs in this desultory match that was a lot more tense than it needed to be:

–On one play Messi was charging the box, and Iniesta and Ibrahimovic stopped running, because they knew he was going to not even consider passing.
–Xavi didn’t touch the ball for stretches of time, thanks to diligent marking.
–We didn’t really control the midfield in an attacking way.
–Our defense is susceptible to full-speed attacks.
–Marquez, in his role as defensive mid, sucked more than a Pop-Sicle convention.

But as I said, Almeria wasn’t interested in exploiting any of those …. um …. challenges, so we could wallow in our collective mediocrity. We kept the ball pretty much forever, and Valdes made no saves. None, as in zero. The only ball he had to control near his goal was off a pass, and he flubbed it but was bailed out by his defenders. And that was that.

This match was a win, but it wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t really that exciting, because Almeria were never going to score. Never. Not with one forward playing behind the midfield line and everybody else defending. The sole remaining option is to counterattack, but that was never going to work, even when Puyol whipped out the blade for a play that might, at another time and place, earned a red card. As it was he got a yellow and Almeria, for just a second, were able to walk in our shoes.

So, how to deal with that Xavi marking business?

Guardiola made the exact right substitutions with that very thing in mind, first removing Marquez in favor of Gerard Pique. The dividends were immediate, as Pique brought the ball up in his usual smart way, delivering it to the midfielders in a primo position. The result was an excellent Ibrahimovic shot on goal, that was parried away with a stellar save. This was a refreshing change from Marquez dwelling on the ball for too long, playing matador defense and generally being craptastic. So Pique was the first move, because by bringing the ball up, he bypasses Xavi and his marker, delivering the ball to the danger area and forcing that marker to track back on defense.

The second moves were to bring in The Yaya for the awful Busquets, who continued his recent trend of setting up attacks for the other side, and Keita for Pedro!. The only error of this move is that Keita should have come in for Messi, who was shit. Yes, shit. You heard me.

So suddenly, Pique and The Yaya were defenders, attacking with the ball in a move intended to move the entire pitch onto their end. Xavi could then come back to get the ball, or accept delivery from a big-ass house as it went rumbling past. Smart. Very smart. Yes, Almeria continued to play defense as if it were still 0-0, so we could calmly retain possession, and successfully stave off the occasional counterattacking foray in what might be one of the most unimpressive wins from us that you will ever see.

Evah!

Team: 4. Quit whining to the officials and play football. If you dwell on the ball too long, of course you’re going get fouled, or have the ball taken away from you. Duh! Lousy overall performance.

Guardiola: 7. He played people who we won’t be seeing against Rubin Kazan, which explains the Maxwell, Marquez and Busquets thing. But made the right substitutions when things began getting crazy.

Valdes: 5. Man up and control balls in your box. It’s your box.

Alves: 6. Good defense, but was too loose with the ball at times. His passing was also off, and he just wasn’t integrated into the attack.

Marquez: 4. This is how you play when you have a contract on the table? If you’re going to bring the ball up, don’t lose it. And at least try to stop an attacker, rather than putting your arms behind your back and letting him run past you. Oh, and playing a ball with your upper arm might be considered a hand ball by some officials. Yes, you had good moments, but they were outweighed by the bad.

Puyol: 7. Strong and solid, except for the late error. He continues to be the beating heart of this club.

Maxwell: 4. Did you at least yell at the guys as they ran past you? And stop conceding corners so easily. Oh. One word, three syllables: O-ver-lap. On the other hand, thanks for making Abidal feel so warm and secure.

Busquets: 4. How can you dribble a ball out of bounds? What the hell? And why are you so hell-bent on helping the other team score? That’s not what “Charity begins at home” means. You dwell on the ball too long and generally try to do too much. Did you watch how The Yaya played when he came in? No. Did you really watch? People are saying that you’re the future for us. I hope it’s a distant one. My heart can’t take it.

Xavi: 6. Had a few loose balls early, and he has to bury that chance. The keeper shouldn’t have had a shot at it. Controlled well when he was allowed to, but there were too many times that he made life easy for his marker.

Iniesta: 6. Our Ghostface nickname for you doesn’t mean you should disappear for stretches. And make up your mind when you have the ball, instead of getting caught in that “Should I shoot or should I pass” limbo? By the time you decide, the moment is gone.

Messi: 3. You did almost as much to kill our attack as the Almeria defense did, with your consistent ignoring of fellow attackers and constant one-on-one forays that lost ball after ball. Your first touch is a bit loose of late, and your passing lacks precision.

Pedro!: 7. Shoot, dammit! Yes, you did that second time, but you should have done the same thing that first time and you would have had a brace. Nice to see that you chose to take advantage of the acres of space that Ibrahimovic’s presence allowed you. It goes without saying that you’re my Man of the Match. But don’t let it go to your head.

Ibrahimovic: 6. Excellent play with and without the ball. But you can’t get discouraged when that little Argentine dude doesn’t pass you the ball. Nice passing, and you should have had two assists. But that’s life, right, against a defense shadowing you with at least three men. Oh, and happy birthday. Sorry that your present was to have your scoring streak broken.

Substitutes

Pique (for Marquez): 7. You made an instant difference with your intelligent forward runs. Nice work.

The Yaya (for Busquets): 7. See above, Man Mountain. Your control and defensive work in keeping your part of the midfield shut down rocked my world. And so calm with and without the ball.

Keita (for Pedro!): 6. Nice effort and movement. Funny what athleticism does for an offense and defense, isn’t it? Hope you’re all nice and loose for Tuesday, sir.

So, we’re atop the table, waiting to see what happens between the EE and Liga B front-runner Sevilla. Until then ….

By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, Iโ€™m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, Iโ€™m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

196 comments

  1. Guardiola says Busquets didn’t play badly, and played well tactically. But The Yaya and Keita were brought on to add weight to the midfield.

    Whatever, dude.

    1. i agree as well, man i wouldn’t want to leave you alone in a dark alley with sergio, poor guy wouldn’t stand a chance even if he’d saved a kitten from a burning tree and then flown up to the 6th floor of collapsing building to return with an infant in blanket. you’d still stab him in the back and leave him face down in a gutter ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    2. I also kind of agree. In the past I’ve found my biggest disagreements / misunderstandings of the game with you have emanated from the DM position, so I can’t say I can point out great DM play if it’s not embodied in great tackles, but Busquets did much better against Almeria than the previous opponents. There were only a few moments that looked really typical of him, but other than that I had no complaints–nothing too obvious. And, for the most part, I thought he kept it simple.

      But I don’t know…

    3. I watched the match again today. I didn’t see anything from Busquets that would alter my rating in any way. People might be fans of him. That’s their right. But in a 1-0 match, you can’t be as uncertain as he is on the ball, not that close to our box. Sorry, but you just can’t. When he plays well, he gets a high rating. Same with every player. But saying that “You hate so and so” is like asking the question “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” It’s indefensible, and insinuates by inference.

      It won’t be the last time, but I don’t hate any Barca player. I hate when they jeopardize our chances of winning, which was why Messi got the rating he did, as well as others.

      If you think I’m wrong, watch the match again, comment here and prove it. That advances the discussion. Saying “You hate X player” doesn’t, in any meaningful way.

  2. Hmm. I actually didn’t think Marquez was that bad. I would have given him at least a 5 for his first start after a long break and for really not working against team play the way Messi did. I think we just got a little spoiled with Pique’s style of continuously bringing the ball up on the pitch. But Marquez was never that type of player, preferring for long passes up the field. Some of them were pretty money.

    Messi was shit-tastic. Bojan should have been given some minutes and Pep should have kept P! in the match. I will say, I found the game extremely boring since Almeria had no interest in getting the ball back and just parked it. I only had one beer and I found myself dozing off.

  3. “might be one of the most unimpressive wins from us that you will ever see”

    Spot. On.

  4. jnice: thaaaaaaaanks for the “mysoccerplace” thing!! I hate to download them from rojadirecta. I’m about to watch the game right now, even though the ratings look as if we reach unknown levels of horror for FCB.

    kevin: don’t be so hard on ghostface… or he’ll show up in your dreams and scare the shit out of you ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Nice review Kevin.

    I’m anoyed at Busquet. Guys like Pedro, Jeffren and Bojan had to content with limited minutes, while Busi get playing time easily, and yet..

    1. Busi has to warm upto the season, at the least by January, when The Yaya will be out to ACN. I think that is the reason Pep is giving him these starts against lesser sides.

    2. remember he is in Spain’s squad, poor guy he’s not that bad, although comparing him to the yaya is like rudy fernandez vs michael jordan

  6. I think Guardiola was trying to make Busquets feel good. I agree that we’ve been spoiled by Pique and his talents. Marquez tried playing that way today, and it just didn’t cut the mustard. But thankfully, we had Almeria. Against a club really interested in scoring, we might have been in trouble.

    1. Yea I didn’t know exactly what role Marquez was playing or trying to play. I think it was Iggy from the Offside calling for his departure. I definitely don’t see how he can retire with Barca at this point, especially if Puyol is resigned, considering his own diminishing or projected pace. It’s sad how being only 32 means you become slow and worthless in sports. Maybe he just needs to take some tips from Ichiro.

    2. I think it’s silly to call for any player’s departure based on one or two performances. Marquez should take the offer on the table: 1 more year + 1 year renew option. It’s the best he can get at this point for Barcelona. Or he could go get a better deal at Athletico Madrid. But, I contend he is still good enough to play a back up role for us.

  7. Kevin, wasn’t it Yaya not Pique who made that run and passed to Ibra for that great shot? Maybe not, and I won’t be watching this match a second time to find out. Yuck.

    Xavi also said that Iniesta was man marked like he was,albeit not as crazy, which would explain some of why he was also anonymous at times.

  8. Chico did not get off Xavi all game.With them man marking both iniesta and xavi, this would have been a good game for yaya, as we saw how we improved with him pushing forward. Hopefully we have our A game for the mestalla in 2 weeks, im not worried though as we always do well in the big games.My policy about criticizing leo is , i dont, fate has an evil way of showing us how much we miss things we take for granted and id rather have him sucking for a few games than being out for 4 months, id rather not live 2007 again.

  9. if the club was interested in scoring we would have sliced and diced them

    messi was saving himself for the qualifiers

  10. the team just looks bored. there’s no spark or liveliness about them for long stretches of these games, despite having the ball. it’s the look of a team who walks onto the field knowing they’re going to get kicked and spend 90 minutes trying to break down a defensive line of 8-10 opposing players. which to be fair is all pretty true, but it does seem to be wearing on them. i mean: have we played a team that’s come out to just play football yet this season?

    hopefully the international breaks, a change of pace and system and responsibilities, will let our guys recover some zest for the game that right now seems sadly lacking.

    1. Sporting Gijon and Atletico came out guns blazing. I think that’s why we scored 9 goals from those two matches. Our 4-1 win over Racing may have been the same way.

  11. I dont blame Almeria for the way they played.From their perspective their goal difference hasnt been fucked, and now if there’s a close relegation scrap, they have 5 goals less against, and they have a chance of surviving in the way sporting did last season on goal difference.I guess this is how everyone will play us for the rest of the season. Pep just needs to tell leo if hes playing as a midfielder, or in the middle, he has to pass and playmake more.Hopefully Argentina manages to qualify, and he comes back out of the mode of playing to prove hes the best in the world.I hate when its Balon D’or time, he was like this around this time last season too.

  12. Stats so far this season

    Goals :

    Messi 8
    Ibra 5
    Pedro 4
    Keita 2
    Bojan 2
    Pique 2
    Xavi 1
    Alves 1

    Assists :

    Messi 4
    Xavi 4
    Alves 4
    Ibra 4
    Pedro 1
    Keita 1
    Busquets 1
    Maxwell 1

    P.S. WoW! P!

    1. Sure they’d add up to 25, but I guess the major share in those 25 would be that of P! & Bojan collectively instead of you-know-who, leave alone all those being scored by himself

      My prediction for this season stats had Pedro! scoring like 5-8 goals & providing 5 assists( I even thought I’d been too optimistic with him!!) I guess I’m gonna be proven wrong BIG time ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. let’s hope so! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      do you think P! will stay some years in the team? I really don’t know

    3. Depends on whether Pep will sign a replacement for Henry or be content with P! & Bojan. I say go for the first option and make P! the eternal super-sub ๐Ÿ˜›

  13. I just watched the game and I think Barรงa looked awful tonight. Little precision (no yaya), too much manmarking from the opponent, long passes by marquez, a strangely weak messi, a whole lot of complainig to the ref plus all the fouls we made. Ge got like 3 or 4 yellow cards I think, and puyol’s should have been red. The crowd was even encouraging the ref to end the game around minute 91!!! Quote from AS: ” El barcelona acaba pidiendo la hora” – “FCB finishes asking for the game to end” … or so ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I think, even though after today, that xavi-iniesta is too difficult to man-mark. Xavi was today by chico AND HOW, but I think Iniesta wasn’t that much, he was just not fit. To me they are unstopable when they are playing back to back both at the top of their game. Anyway, if you’re having problems in the midfield imagine:
    whoever ( busi, keita, pique, txig, marquez)
    xavi-yaya (looks like pep won’t do it so xavi-keita)
    messi-ibra-iniesta

    *messi and iniesta constantly helping keita and xavi to bring the ball up, and keita filling spaces like he does so well ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. I agree with the assessment that some players have half their minds on the qualifiers.

    With Sweden, France (although no Frenchmen on the field today) and Argentina in the position they’re in, the matches Messi, Ibra and others will play over the next 10 days are the most important matches for them for the remainder of the year (dare I say, more than the Clasico or CWC).

    1. he just played a lot of years for madrid, don’t blame him ๐Ÿ˜‰

      and never scored a goal making more than a sinlge touch.

    2. I remember when he was the coach of the Mexican Olympic Qualifier team. What a joke. He was the disgrace of the country.

  15. Like I said in the liveblog, Pep stated that matches before and after the international break are the most dangerous, because of a tendency to get complacent and lazy.

  16. Post-match, Sanchez said he was satisfied with his team’s performance. I guess I’m just spoiled by our excellence, but how could any coach say he’s satisfied with losing? Because they didn’t lose by more?

    I know that goal differential could come to matter in a relegation scrap, but damn!

    What I didn’t see from our lads today were the dangerous diagonal runs. But as Ibra himself said, “It is difficult to play against so many defenders.” True that.

    But I don’t blame any side for wanting to not come out and get killed, it must be said.

  17. If a defeat against Barcelona is as certain as done, let it be a light defeat so it doesnt damage the team psyclogically for the following games where the win is more attainable, and without conceeding lot of goals so the opponents whom we consider as our main competitors against relegation struggle with goal difference when they get smashed by Barcelona conceeding 4 and 5 goals.

    Says Sanchez. Or I think so at least. And if it caught us by surprise, then thats a surprise.

    Besides, in his late substitutions he tried to hunt a draw, but it had to be a steal, for the players he had in his team, and the players he is playing against. And they were close in few late attempts.

    And I dont want to hear this “You can do nothing against lot of defenders” as we faced no defense yet compared to whats coming. Our basic goal for this season was to solve this problem, and we can. It wasnt the best game we played, but lets just say “it happens” not that “its normal”.

    I cant say there is one player who played worse than the other. The group dynamics were not inprocess for this game. Pep has to speak about it. But he has to watch the game couple of times first so he know exactly what to say. I have no doubt he will.

  18. To be more specific, What went bad in this game was not exactly the performance (sexy or not), nor the result. For me, its the bad signs tacticaly that I thought we threw behind our backs. And I really hope we will not fall in the same trap again, neither in big games where we take things more serious preparing for the match, nor against weak opponents where things are usually taken in a little sloppy way:

    – Pep substitutes were little late. Either Keita or Yaya had to be used earlier (if not from the start as I cant see the midfield without both of them).

    – We played exactly as we played in the first two games last season, technical midgets in the midfield against buses earn you possession all day and all night, but read this: Will not work! At least when Henry is not there either. The moment Iniesta opened to the left and Keita-Yaya came in to kick it as it need, the team improved. We needed someone to penetrate into the box and get advantage of Ibra pulling defenders out, we didnt have that one. Simply put.

    – “Mark your marker”, I said it before and I say it now. Chico marking against Xavi was impressive. Credit to Sanchez. But as I mentioned before the start of the season, if you cant get ride of your marker, mark him out of the game. If Yaya was in the midfield I would have recomended that Xavi switch positions with Yaya during the build up, pulling his marker out of service and giving yaya the space (if he need it) to contribute with Iniesta in the play making. Now that Yaya was not available, I expected us to be little creative.Example: Switching positions between Xavi and messi. Seriously. Let Xavi open to the right, and Messi play as a playmaker.

    Lot of lessons to learn from such kind of games. Thats a good news at the beginning of a season. it feels great that we earned 3 points in a game where we were not tactically up to it, but only the quality of a player who seems to be the most direct player we have finished the deal.

    Against a better team, we would have lost this one. Good early alert.

    1. Ramzi – I discovered this site after Pep’s fcbtransfer blog spot died (r.i.p.), overall a great job is being done here, thanks to everyone!

      My question for you is whether you, Ramzi, is whether you are righting anywhere besides the comments field here? I love Hector’s analytical pieces but miss your contributions to Pep’s blog. Thanks – Gilman

  19. I didn’t saw Marquez and Maxwell that bad either. As far as Guardiola regarding Busquets….do you seriously expect him to diss him in public after that game? I mean, I’m just saying.

    Guardiola has never ever ever criticized a player in public. That’s something he just doesn’t do and shouldn’t be done either. You do this in private.

    I hope Messi gets clear in his head once Argentina qualifies for the World Cup. That’s obviously a bit bothering him(if you look at some criticism in Argentina, it’s that he doesn’t take the game by its neck all alone, so this might explain why he is going Duke Nukem lately).

  20. //http://footballtalentspotter.com/player/sergiobusquetsburgos-8314.aspx

    Busi is here to stay, no matter what you say about him. He’s gonna improve. He’s destined to. He’s the Pep of The Dream Team, the way he was brought into the team, the position he played, the way he saved our asses in CL Final. Just a matter of regaining his confidence. The future of Barcelona & Spain…

    1. Not sure I trust that site with anything since it lists his nationality as unknown and his national team as Brazil. Say what now?

  21. With regards to Messi, his passing has been terrible the last few games, which might explain his reluctance to do so.

    One thing I can’t understand is why we keep trying to pass the ball into the goal. Against a 10 man defense, that requires a combination of:

    A) A perfect pass
    B) The intended target being on the same wavelength
    C) The defender not reading the pass

    C is where it usually breaks down against quality teams like Inter and Chelsea. From what little I saw of this match, there seemed to be a lot of problems with A and B.

    Which is why I don’t get why we don’t shoot from distance more. Look what happened when Pedro! took a crack at it. And we all remember Iniesta vs. Chelsea. Makes one wonder why we don’t do it more often.

    I’m not saying that we have to completely change the way we play and take a lot of hopeful shots. Just enough to keep the defense honest.

    In American football, even if a team has a great passing offense, it runs the ball every now and again to avoid becoming too one-dimensional. At the very least, it opens up the passing game since defense has to respect the run. And sometimes you get lucky and pull off a long run.

    We need to adopt a similar philsophy. Because for all of our attacking prowess, we are too one-dimensional. Teams know that we’re always going to try to pass the ball into the net. And we play right into their hands.

    1. I saw a bus yesterday and ibra didn’t seem to work very well against it. Plus… what are the “other options”? There are not many… madrid (benzema, ruud, pipita, raul), sevilla(o fabuloso, kanoute, negredo) or even valencia (villa, zigic) have more “striking options”

      I also think we always play in the exact same way, a very good one indeed and slightly changed with ibra, but we need to learn to change our game a bit at times.

    2. I agree that other teams have more attacking options. We had Bojan on the bench. Can’t remember who else. But I think it’s more a question of tactics than personnel. Our team is talented enough that it usually CAN pass the ball into the net. But it is also talented enough that it doesn’t NEED to.

      I’d like to see Ibra take more free kicks. More free kick trickery in general, actually. I’d like to see Maxwell doing overlaps. His confidence seems low right now. I’d like to see more mad dashes down the sidelines and crosses whipped into the box.

      I also think Keita and Pedro! could be the X-Factors. That’s why I keep harping on Keita needing to learn to shoot. Because he will get a LOT of shooting opportunities. At least 2 good ones per game. And while I still don’t think it’s fair to say that Pedro has better shot than Henry :), he definitely has a good one. And being able to shoot with both feet is definitely helpful.

    3. Ibra provided 2 perfect passes, 1 for P! & the other for Xavi. It’s a pity they couldn’t convert the chances and you are blaming it all on Ibra! Ibra against Inter was almost successful in breaking the bus, he just lacked that bit of luck to put the ball into the back of the net. The team overall created like 8-10 chances against that well-organized bus compared to the 5 chances we got against Chelsea over two-legs last season. Now beat that!
      It’s true we don’t have many well-proven striking options available like the examples you have mentioned. But with the limited resources available, I think the best possible solution to that problem would be to give Bojan & Pedro as many minutes as possible and bringing on Henry in second half most of the time. That would serve 2 purposes, to give the youngsters much of the top-flight experience needed & to have a plan B. After all Bojan & P! got to play only against mediocre opponents in CDR last time, except for few minutes Bojan used to play in La Liga when the points were virtually out-of-reach for the opponents.

    4. I don’t want to argue, that is just what i saw… beat that?

      I’d like ibra to look for some passes and score instead of giving them. pedro and messi can score but xavi and iniesta not that much ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. lol, that’s actually a bad performance for him. He usually scores at least a hattrick ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. Against a team from the very bottom of the table… lucky, lucky Real Madrid, their CL group is a fucking joke.

  22. Really lets us see how much Xavi means to our system. I actually thought he did well. He did retreat into defence (CB position in a couple of cases) but as someone else said that only worked when Pique came on and took advantage of the gaps left in midfield. We should have made more of our defence moving forward. They didn’t have an attack to mark yet seemed content to play the ball across the back too much.

    Again, though, we need to cut the team some slack. You can’t win every game by playing well – the more important thing is to win those where you aren’t playing well and this was never in doubt.

    Nobody really stood out for me but they all put in the effort in closing down. Not sure what Keita would have added earlier if he’d been on. He doesn’t open anything up and we had total control of the midfield the whole game anyway. Would he have been able to crash the box effectively ? Don’t know – things were pretty crowded.

    Btw, i’m loving what I’m seeing of Suarez on YouTube.

  23. I think that we need to rest some players. Rotation was a key factor in succeeding last season. We lack depth fo bench. And Almeria looked like sticky beforehand (they were more than that during the match…gooey I would say), but affordable to play against with Marquez and Busquets.
    We should get ready to see more teams defending like that. And not only at the Nou Camp, but away as well (despite the local fans venting their anger).
    Another issue that keeps on pissing me off is the referee situation.
    How can the EE newspapers stick to the “Villarato”? Am I wrong or have we had a penalty not taken every match we have played so far in La Liga? 6 in total?
    Well, I am drooling in anticipation for the Mestalla match…that should be a good one!

  24. Just today I read article describing Player Iker Muniain as the Spanish Messi & he indeed scored today LOL
    //http://imscouting.com/player_to_watch.aspx?id=K4cn2df5Tm4LrRNMhCcFbw||&name=Iker+Muniain

    1. Funniest article of the day :
      //http://www.goal.com/en/news/12/spain/2009/10/04/1540858/cristiano-ronaldo-urged-to-start-diving-by-real-madrid-teammates-

      Have a nice read guys ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. WTF ARE THEY KIDDING US!??!?! MESSI DIVIES AS IF HE’S BEEN SHOT? WTF?!?!!? THIS TIME THEY’VE TOO FREAKIN’ FAR!!!

  25. //http://www.goal.com/en/news/12/spain/2009/10/04/1540858/cristiano-ronaldo-urged-to-start-diving-by-real-madrid-teammates-

    Ok. Now I know its bs.com but this article caught my attention. Listing Marca as the source, it says that Ronaldo’s Real Madrid teammates are urging him to go down under challenges more easily and to follow the example set by certain members of Barcelona’s squad.

    “Ronaldo has been told to learn from Barcelona players Lionel Messi and Daniel Alves. When they are fouled, they go down like they are shot.”

    Now….I can’t really speak for Alves but Messi??? Even after receiving numerous fouls, he is the last player I’d expect to go down easily.

    Just thought I’d share this with you guys.

  26. I’m a first timer and a long fan of The Great Club i admire everything that goes down here
    This goes to Kevin i will like you to add 2 marks to Iniesta for the magic he wraught without which i might have committed murder and 1 mark to Messi for all the salvo he drew for us especially Racing and Shaktar

  27. LOL did you guys read the post match comments? I find these hilarious for some reason:

    Xavi: “I’ve never been marked like that before, it was crazy, almost obsessive. He followed me everywhere even when I didn’t have the ball or went to take a corner, he was there all the time. It drives you crazy being man marked like that.”

    Iniesta: “I feel sorry for Ortiz because he came to play and practically did nothing at all but follow me around.”

    1. “Talking about the tactical approach of the Almeriaโ€™s coach, Guardiola insisted he is not worried about other teams emulating the approach, ‘We merely lacked the ability to make inside passes. It does not worry me. When they defend against players individually, it is easier to attack as more spaces are created’, he finally surmised.”

      //http://www.totalbarca.com/2009/news/guardiola-this-match-shows-everything-has-a-price/

  28. fucking juve :v( poopie face 2-0 palermo first half

    jesus navas!!!!!!!!!!!!

    maybe i will switch over & stream the juve game.

    look on flo flo’s face was priceless :^)

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