Breathe, everyone …. breeeaaathe …. whew! Okay? Let’s proceed

Last season, we started with a right smart thumping of Racing, then lost to Hercules. So going into the third match, we had 3 points in the Liga.

This season, we started with a right smart thumping of Villarreal, then drew Sociedad. So going into the third match, we have 4 points in the Liga.

We had a short bench, an experimenting coach, a bedding-in new purchase and new president/board. How did we do?

This season, we have depth, but a couple of key injuries that will take some time. But we also have quality replacements, and a very favorable schedule over the next month or so.

Does anyone still think we’re going to die? Didn’t think so.

To bide the time until the review that your life-constrained mods will work up, this is a plea for calm. Some of us are veteran cules, some are newcomers. Most have become accustomed to seeing this club take care of business with style, going about the business of living up to the press plaudits. There was talk of a manita against AC Milan, Serie A champions and one of the best clubs in the world. They even have a Prince in the lineup.

So we drew a match against one of the best clubs in the world, a club with an excellent coach who devised a game plan that capitalized on the strengths of his club, and the weaknesses of ours. And it was a very good match to watch, one in which we left some goals on the table as we work off the rust and clunky off season. It happens. And had we started the Champions League campaign against BATE Borisov (last year it was Olympiakos), I rather imagine the mood would be a lot calmer. But it’s a pretty safe bet that after two Champions League matches this season, our number of points in the group will be the same.

And still, nobody is going to die.

Has success really spoiled us that much? As Sid Lowe wrote, we live in a world where a draw is a loss, and when we “lose,” someone must be blamed.

–Keita blows at DM
–Busquets is a crappy CB
–Guardiola is messing with things too much
–Cereal cold

There is plenty of blame to go around, and none. As Puyol said in his presser today, we win and lose as a team. Is it Busquets’ fault for not marking up on Thiago, or Abidal’s for conceding the corner? Or the midfield for ceding possession in the first place and not pressing the ball so that it never got that far? Or Messi’s for not scoring another goal or two? Or Villa for not providing the pace and width necessary to alter the Milan tactics. Maybe if Pique had been training harder instead of frolicking with his pop tart, he wouldn’t have gotten injured and would have been out there. Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe.

It’s also a new project, that its coach is still tinkering with. There have been some comparisons to the Rijkaard dismantling, comparos that are in no way valid. Even when the Rijkaard clubs were winning, things were tenuous, waiting for the first sign of failure for the claws to come out. Guardiola came in and fixed that stuff. The players present today are friends, and have been in many cases, teammates since forever ago. It’s different.

Rijkaard’s crew was a collection of individuals, brilliant ones, but individuals. This current crew is a team, and this team is one of, if not the best team in the world. We have strengthened ourselves in the transfer window with not one, but two world-class players, and it’s all going to be fine. And even if it isn’t fine, even if we don’t win all the silver, “Dancing With the Stars” and a Nobel Prize, we’re still going to be fine, because it’s just a game. A game played by millionaires in the employ of other millionaires.

Do we love it? You bet. But it also requires some bloodless perspective, and that perspective tells me that we’re going to be fine. Which club is reality, the one that dismantled the 4th-place side in La Liga with only one defender on the pitch, or the one that drew against a traditional bogey club at its house, then against one of the best clubs in the world, with a legitimate shot at winning the Champions League?

Maybe we’re neither, just a collection of athletes who, like the rest of us, get tired, have good days and bad days, make mistakes that they wish they’d never made, and can learn from.

It’s all going to be fine, people.

Categorized as Thoughts

By Kxevin

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


  1. Oh man. No ratings?

    Seriously, why is no one comparing it to Arsenal? 😆

    On a serious note, I’ve never seen Keita play that good at DM before but like one of the mom’s mentioned in the previous post, since we have 2 of the world’s best DM’s available, why not utilize them.

    I’m not complaining about anyone but Pedro looked extremely lost. Was he like that as well vs. Sociedad (missed that match)?

    Villa sure is an improved player from last season. Compare them. Last season he used to lose the balls quite quite a lot, made silly back heels, was off-side a lot, didn’t know what to do with the ball, kept the ball for too long, over thought every time he got the ball.

    I surely think he has improved by leaps and bounds. I’m surprised actually.

    Back to the match, in the 1st half he was lost but was sharp in the 2nd. He was even an LB on at least 2 occasions.

    1. Oh and Villa’s goal was a golazo but Messi’s FK was simply outrageous!!

      Did you guys see Dortmund’s goal? Last minute goal. No, it isn’t about Arsenal conceding goals at the latter stages of the match but that goal is an absolute beauty! Surely top 5 goal of the decade.

    2. ” but like one of the mom’s mentioned in the previous post, since we have 2 of the world’s best DM’s available, why not utilize them.”

      But then again, I also said that Busi isn’t a bad CB and Keita isn’t a bad DM. They could start on most teams in those positions and those teams would be grateful for them. But that’s because they’re talented and versatile, not because it’s the position that suits them best.

      We’re lucky to have such versatility. Who knows but maybe in the homestretch we’ll be glad they had practice in positions that are awkward for them.

      Agree about Villa. Very improved…well maybe not on Saturday but overall.

    1. The new Hector. Ramzi pill’s ..

      Here they are;

      Ramzi says:
      September 14, 2011 at 10:53 am
      Did everyone calm down? Alright here we go…

      1) The selection was completely reasonable considering the overall situation of the squad. If anyone think the defense was fragile you should think what would have happened if we had Adriano and Alves as fullbacks instead of having Abidal on the left to back Mascherano and Busquets.

      The way the first goal was conceded, I dont think even having Puyol and Pique would have avoided it. Its not like any of them is Bolt clone. Sorry. Truth hurts. The goal was an absolute quality of a forward exposing high defense line. It happened. It happens. It will.

      As for the second goal, its mainly a set pieces setup with flaws that Milan players got advantage of. Not the first time. We mark zones instead of players in set pieces (watch the goal again), and we dont even mark posts. Just the small box. Some midgets need to block the path of the giant runners of the other teams to give advantage to zonal markers (and goalkeeper) to deal with the cross. Not doing so caused the goal. That’s a technical instruction more than being players fault. I think (and hope) we will see some changes in that setup in the coming matches. Vilanova, I’m looking at you.

      2) Anyone who makes any passive comment about Keita’s performance in the match need to watch the game again, and again, and till he changes his opinion, he should keep on re-watching. No one would have done better as a holding midfielder in that game. So please, stop it. This is getting annoying as a casual trend. My Man of the match (for Barcelona) – by far!

      3) I didnt see anything special in this game that we didnt know since before. So I’m not sure where all this “end of cycle” came from. We struggle against parked buses since years (even when we had two bulls in offense in Eto’o and Henry). Nothing new. Really. It depends more on the quality of the bus parked than our players’ performance. And Milan parked an Airbus if you ask me. This is how our team is structured. As I said before the start of the season, Pep went for excellence instead of perfection. Everyone backed him in that. No one can change his mind now after a draw. No one should.

      Our keys of excellence that can actually help breaking buses are Iniesta, Sanchez, and Messi. You watched the game and you know what happened. The rest of our players expose the destabilized defense of the opponent, they dont destabilize it themselves. Especially Villa.

      Still we created more chances than you should expect. Lame chances maybe. Not so serious. But still. For the system we have and the situation we passed thru during the match, the outcome should be understandable.

      4) You should give a credit to Milan. Some Barcelona fans are getting too …hm…lets call it confident…. so they cant see that there is actually another team we plays against. It became a given that Barcelona players should enter the field and just sweep the floor with the opponent and toying with them like feather pillows. That’s delusional. When a team plays as organized, disciplined, and dedicated as Milan – with the quality players they have- bets should always be equal and anything can happen.

      C’est la vie! If you want an ever dominating team that never lose, play football manager and cheat so you get all the best players to your squad. That’s if you think there is any joy in that.

      Finally, Pep will still have a homework to do. The main problem with the Messi-Villa-Pedro offense line is that none of Villa and Pedro is welling to take responsibility. They serve as Messi co-pilots unlike Cesc for example who make advanced runs to the opponent box even when he doesnt expect the ball. Not to the same extend that a true nine would do, but still. We bake our bread based on the flour we have.

      The problem of Pedro and Villa NOT taking responsibilities by attacking opponent’s center backs even without the ball is that when Messi plays as false nine away from the opponents Center backs, the two center backs find no one to mark and cover so they start acting like defensive depth to the midfielders in front of them (and the fullbacks) who are checking our players. Center backs job become just to create diagonal cover for their team’s defense system.

      when a player play in an advanced position compared to Messi he creates more confusion for the center backs which give more space for Messi and co. Opponents CB will no more cover but will have to track and check. This is not happening. And this needs to be fixed.

      But generally speaking – again- this is how the team rolls for years already. What we changed this year was increasing system’s fluidity to pull opponents defense line away from the keeper and lob or slice a pass behind them for the space hackers (Pedro, Villa, Cesc…). Milan read that. They didnt check players but zones. They left no space between defense line and goalkeeper and so they terminated that trick. Teams read us on weekly bases. While we play our game they customize their tactics to counter our system. That is challenging for our technical department. Now I can tell you that coming up with new picks and tricks for the players to execute is easier said than done. So have patience and hope we keep the continuous progress we showed season after another.

    2. I agree with a lot of what you say Ramzi especially about how Milan defended against us – and they did it very well.

      However, the goals were avoidable and I don’t think they would have happened with Pique and Puyol in the side although we’ll never know. The first wouldn’t have been prevented by anyone once Pato broke through our line. That means we can’t let him do it at any cost. I don’t know what Mascherano was thinking about. Pato passes within a foot of him. He has to bring him down. It’s not as if Masch has any philosophical objection to cutting down opponents as they go past !

      In the second, despite the undoubted problems of zonal marking the bottom line is that Busi and to a lesser extent Abidal both had a chance to make a decent jump but as neither are natural attackers of the ball unlike Puyol and Pique you’d be struggling to slip a newspaper under their feet at the height of their jump.

    3. I completely disagree with you on the defense issue. We have played a lot of important matches with Adriano at LB especially the league and copa clasicos last year. Adriano was our best defender in both matches. His only mistake was not getting to that Thong Boy header. A line up of ALVES-MASCHE-ABI-ADRIANO is way better than one containing Busi.

      Other than that I fully agree with you.

    4. 18 goals in 6 games against quality teams. Worst one is Sociedad away who Pep is 1-(now)6-4 against lifetime. Table the MVP scapegoats? Not a chance, give them a roast. Fact is, sloppiness in the back third let in easy goals, not the end of the world but lets at least have open eyes. Giveaways in our back, way too many, yes even Villa and Pedro were culpable,
      Busi at CB? Not quick or physical enough, Heaven help us if Puyol goes down the road of Marquez and Milito after their knee injuries. The more teams are forced to stuff the box and attack on the counter, the faster stronger and beastly our CB’s have to be.
      Keita at DM? not nearly the awareness or inventiveness of Busquets to change direction and switch play. He tends to be very predictable in his passes which invites pressure. When Busi is DM Barca are more secure and press the the opposition, with Keita we are more helter skelter with a back and forth game. I think Keitas greatest contribution is in the grudge matches when the game is reduced to fists and elbows and dirty tackles, then he gives Barca an extra bite so we don’t roll over. Happens at the end of a lot of games lately.
      The rest is Team versus injuries, mental fatigue, jealousies, rivalries, arrogance, boredom, physical tiredness, lack of ambition. All the things that destroy great teams. Good luck Pep

  2. Even when the Rijkaard clubs were winning, things were tenuous, waiting for the first sign of failure for the claws to come out. Guardiola came in and fixed that stuff. The players present today are friends, and have been in many cases, teammates since forever ago. It’s different.

    This is what I was trying to say the other day on twitter. See, we were actually agreeing. 😀

  3. was afraid to comment bout KEITA in the rant post,cause many was blaming when i saw ramzi comment bout him via barca 96,it made me proud,cause i also thought he was brilliant as a dm.simply awesome,along with nesta and messi he was phenemenonal.

    abidal was boss until he got injured and to me that injury caused the corner.

    pedro and specially alves always try to come in instead of going out the touchline,that made milans work much easier.

    2nd goal is not our fault,its a brilliant leap from silva, though i do not agrree with ramzi bout the first goal.

    and one last thing,nesta reminded us why form is temporay,class is permanent,that messi tackle,any other CB would have tackled much earlier,not him.

    its a good game from us,but i see many bad passes from my team which i m not used to.

    all doom and gloom for this.come on.(in this regard i miss blaunero,where is he?)

  4. Remember when we tied Inter 0-0 in our first group stage match, and went on to win La Liga and was one wrong call by the ref from getting into the Champions League finals. Yeah, we’re going to be ok.

  5. I think us fans have grown accustomed to this team winning in style and hearing pundits praising the team too much. Speaking for myself, I’m starting to believe the hype and getting too confident, so this is a good humble pie for me to take. Still love Barca and of course the eponymous founder of my screen name 🙂

  6. Also, don’t understand the “Camp Nou was quiet/no fan support” comments. Don’t know if you were watching on a stream or what, but there was plenty of support. Nothing extraordinary but the usual “Barca!Barca!Barca!” was done every 10 minutes and fans even sang the club Hymn three times.

  7. Last year, we lost against Hercules at home and the following game, drew 1-1 against Mallorca (also at home), losing a lead when all we had to do was seal the game. Very much like the game yesterday.

    And that doesn’t take into account the Rubin Kazan draw.

    But that’s how it is now. A team that had a shoddy preseason full of niggling injuries, vacations, and international competitions, with new players and formations, and people expect us to crush the Serie A champions?(I did, but that was me expecting us to be on like Tron. But honestly, I think we would have had we had Iniesta and Alexis. Also, I think we would have won if Abidal didn’t concede the corner. Or if Villa’s hair wasn’t so spiky. See where I’m going with this?).

    I wanted a backline of Alves – Mascherano – Abidal – Adriano, but Ramzi brought up a good point in that we would have been even more vulnerable to a counterattack with that formation. I would have tried it anyway, and sub in Keita if it wasn’t working. I just hate when we concede like that, but we did the same thing against Mallorca around the same time last year. Nothing new, so the end of an era talk is premature, really.

    We had the test, passed or failed depending on your view of things, and have a lot of feedback to work with. By November, we have Iniesta and Alexis back — two of our three defense destabilizing players — as well as Pique.

    Milan are so proud at being able to draw us, they made a wallpaper to celebrate. Think about that for a second.

    We’ll be fine.

    (Tho, that’s not to say we don’t have things to fix. Set piece defending for example.)

    (Also, tbf to the people of the last thread, it WAS one where you were meant to rant in).

    1. I t wouldn’t have been vulnerable Kari. Adriano played last year with us in 2 Clasicos and he was even voted Man of the Match on totalBarça. He made crucial interceptions and goal line clearances. He’s only mistake was not getting *that* Thong boy header.
      The line up you’re talking about is way more better than one containing Busquets.

  8. Ramzi: ” If anyone think the defense was fragile you should think what would have happened if we had Adriano and Alves as fullbacks instead of having Abidal on the left to back Mascherano and Busquets.”

    I’m going to completely disagree with you here. If Abidal had played in the center there would be no need to have a left back who was able to sweep up for the center backs. I do think Abidal and Mascherano are too similar in style to play centerback together in a match this serious, but I would have started Busquets and Abidal with Mascherano at DM.

    This would also mean that our left back had a more attacking tilt, as Adriano’s skills are better suited to attacking than Abidal’s. Since Milan was playing so narrow our fullbacks were the players with the most time on the ball and having Adriano pushing up would have provided more attacking thrust on the left – something we were obviously lacking at times during the match. (As an aside, one of the reasons Villa looks poor at times is his lack of support – he is often isolated on the left wing with no help nearby).

    I actually think the team would be more defensively solid with this lineup, as Milan looked to exploit pace against our high back line, and having Abidal stationed in the middle would have more effectively countered this tactic. Mascherano could play deep and drop into a back three when needed, and voila! defensive solidarity.

    1. Well said, Keita is even a better choice than Busi because of his aerial and tackling abilities. Adriano is an excellent LB with great range, If anything Abidal not playing CB is an indication he has lost favor with Pep in that position. Thats another discussion entirely and if true means we are really thin at CB.

      Asking for 3 goals to get the win against Milan has me shaking my head.

  9. Guys…As I always say the unavailable player is always the (missed) Man of the match. We conceded similar goals with any combination of defenders you may think about (I’m too lazy to get Youtube demonstrations now). I guess if we didnt have Puyol in the last minute, lot of fans would have confidently said “If Puyol was there, Silva wouldnt have scored”. Yes, I heard that before when he wasnt playing. When a defender is in a static status, he cant beat a header of a player jumping after a run. That’s in the alphabetic of defense. Thats why, I think our setpieces organization need modifications. Essentially in the CL and against RM.

    They had Cassano and Pato upfront. You just cant counter that by having Abidal and another center back. Cassano didn’t show up? True. BECAUSE we had three players at the back. Not two. Lets not get too carried away in hindsight speculations.

    As I mentioned directly after the game, people are so focused on the defense so-called problems. We forget that when you achieve 70% possession with over 20 attempts on the goal and 11 corners, you should kill the game before that last minute upset. I can safely say the problem was more in offense than defense. Unless if we throw the offense inefficiency on luck, then so we should do with defense unfortunate moments.

    1. I agree our defenders struggled because they made a standing jump ( one of the problems I alluded to about zonal marking) but that was because Busquets misjudged the flight of the ball and it ended up going over him and Abidal’s attempt was half hearted. I also think you’d do well to find a goal on YouTube lost because either Puyol or Pique let the attacker have a free header. They naturally attack the ball – Busi and Abidal don’t. Not their fault, it’s just not their game.

      It’s also must easier as Gullit used to say to destroy the house than build it. The attack has done well to score two goals in each of the last two games, especially against Milan’s defence. If our defence can’t keep them out then the buck stops there, imo. Great teams can win 1-0 on a regular basis.

  10. Unfortunately the past two games we’ve played like the Mexican team from that Simpsons’ episode. You know the one, where they pass the ball horizontally around a million times for no particular reason? The team, in the last two games at least (though they were signs of it in the second game vs Real and vs Porto), instead of pressing the advantage by kicking the opponent when he’s down, if you will, has instead preferred to pass the ball as a means of defense–in a way making the other team fall asleep, or irritate them. This is well and good, as possession has proved to be a formidable deterrent for the enemy. But I will always maintain that scoring more goals than your competitors is better than not allowing them to score. The ’08/’09 team showed an unparalleled intensity even when 4-0 up. This version, it seems to me(I repeat, seems–it has been so only in a few games so far), does not. A few commentators on the Guardian website pointed out, I think somewhat correctly, that it smacks of arrogance to play Busquets in the middle of the defense. Not every player is as versatile as Mascherano, and a coach cannot possibly think that fielding a makeshift defense is a viable solution. It was clear in the summer defenders were needed, but no, he wouldn’t have any of it. What now then?

    1. That season was also before Barca instilled such fear that nearly every team played everyone behind the ball – it was much easier to play aggressively.

    2. I guess you’re right, but I feel they aren’t even trying anymore. It is obvious that most, if not all, teams will try extra hard when they face us, and so we must be even more excellent.

  11. OK American who were all “let’s sack Bob Bradley”, this guy is now Egypt’s manager. You guys ruined my country. I blame you. 😀

    1. It may have been a factor but it’s mainly due to him failing to reach the next African Cup of Nations. 6 years is enough, new blood is needed now.

    2. Our loss is your gain…I mean…our gain is your loss …I mean…Better you than us…I mean…um…sorry 🙁

    1. Back with a bang! I loved RoSell’s demonstration of how without the Qatar Foundation money the team would be forced to play football in the streets…barefoot…in rags… 😆

  12. @Gogah: Not suggesting anything other than Busquets is what he is. As with the rest of our defenders, he works best when he’s functioning as a sweeper, picking up balls from our pressing midfield when they occasionally leak through.

    We shouldn’t forget that Guardiola himself understands all of this, when he says we’re crap without the ball. With most teams, that isn’t true. With us, it should be written on a stone tablet. Mama said there’d be games like this. From a neutral’s perspective, it was a hell of a match. Well-played, hard-fought and clean (that early card for being a blabbermouth kept Van Bommel in check — whew!).

    I think that all of the defensive dissection neglects the fact that they really only had two good shots at our goal, making for an astounding conversion ratio of chances to goals. Not every team, or even most teams that we play, will have a good a ratio. So it’s all good. Our system works, but no system is perfect. Can’t be when performed by humans, right?

    1. On pep saying we are crap without the ball..
      yes you are actually restating what i ranted about in the earlier post. A lot of the respected folks are calling “relax” and apparently some ‘newcomer’ cules are over reacting. yes we are crap without the ball. but so crap? how many times have the players, the coach and the respected folks now been attributing all our losses/draws to “oh-it-was-just-two-freakish-attempts” or the “They-scored-with-the-one-chance-they-got”. If every time a team launches an attack our team looks vulnerable, then we got some serious issues, don’t we?

      you are saying most teams we play will not have a good ratio.
      Are you sure?
      Does pep know what he’s doing when he insisted on not buying a defender after selling chyg, rafa, milito, caceres. and the season’s barely started

    2. “Does pep know what he’s doing when he insisted on not buying a defender after selling chyg, rafa, milito, caceres.”

      Can you really argue with his results in the past 3 seasons?

    3. I think that lots of folks are panicking, even long-timers who remember what it’s like to …. shuddder, gulp …. not win.

      Teams get at our defense. Usually somebody will make an intervention, or Valdes will make a save. Rarely does a club have two gilt-edged opportunities such as Milan had. Usually they’re the scrambling sort of chances that Sociedad converted. And as an example, they had many opportunities to get at our back line and converted two, one requiring an excellent assist from Villa. We’ve even defended set pieces rather well of late.

      But flukes happen. Think about, for example, the Thong Boy goal that won the Plat del Reig. If the defense clears the ball as it should have, no goal. But it didn’t, and the ensuing scramble brought about the goal.

      Now. Would a defense built of pure defenders have stopped that Milan goal, or the Sociedad ones? Almost certainly, because they would have been in the box, hunkered down. But that style isn’t our style. Our defenders are attackers who play farther back on the pitch, which is in a way why Guardiola probably thinks “Why not mids as defenders?” It makes perfect sense for the system.

      So, we don’t have serious issues, per se. We do have “serious issues” when we don’t play our game, such as 3 of the 4 goals that we recently conceded. When we do play our game, we don’t concede, right?

    4. Agree that Pep needed, really needed, to buy a defender this year. Puyol is coming back from an injury and he’s not going to be able to play full games much longer. Pique, is also hurt. Abidal is still finding his form. There’s not a lot of depth back there. I thought our defense was going to be a weakness this year when we didn’t find ourselves another much needed defender and thus far it has proven to be true, IMO.

  13. The mounting injuries are the big concern. Any points dropped in la liga this season are going to be crucial if Madrid keeps its form.

    When a fine defensive team like AC Milan is intent on keeping 8 outfield players behind the ball, it is not fair to accuse the team of passive possession as many of those lateral and backward passes are intended to lure the defense out of its compact shape. There was an amazing sequence of 36 straight passes that led to a cross that Messi almost got onto the end of that started at the 58:27 mark off a corner kick. Barcelona played the ball all the way back to the top of their own box, which seems really negative but they were just stretching out the compact defense, trying to create some space to attack.

    Credit to AC Milan for their execution of a less than positive game plan. They got the point they wanted.

  14. Anyone think it weird seeing Garay and Nolito play for the same team? But argh, Nolito almost just scored on United!

  15. When was the last time any team that faced Milan in the CL went on to win it? If my memory serves me right, it may well have been in 2006.

  16. “They criticize me because I’m rich, good looking & a great player!” Just a usual day at the office for our beloved Thong Boy.

  17. Win , lose, or draw – it’s Barca. Whatever the outcome, we roll through it. That’s what’s awesome about being a Barca fan. Chill and watch them.
    The most important thing Kxevin said for me, is, it’s a such a true (and rare) team. That’s what is special about Barca that something that goes beyond talent… Mes que un club. That, can move mountains.

  18. Good ol’ Cristiano. First he gets ‘Messi’ chants with the international team then they whistle him because the envy him. I really feel for him.

    My favourite thing, not a single mention of the Marcelo dive on the marca frontpage. you have to really search to find why he was sent off.
    Curiously, no mention is made of his worse dive in the first half.

    I suppose when Mourinho said that Ronaldo isn’t a diver like others, he meant Marcelo

  19. Hi all,

    Frustrating end to the game. After sleeping on it, I think that the team played well, overall. They were at least controlling the game for most of it. I actually was pleased with the introduction of Puyol. Although I think the move would have been better had it happened sooner like the 75th minute or so. By then, the team was losing its tempo and was giving possession away. I was fearing an equalizer for about 15 minutes and it happened. While I was happy with Keita’s overall performance, having Busquets in the DM role is essential for us because I think that without him there, we lose our ability to keep up our tempo sooner than we would like. I know that it was Puyol’s first outing but I think that if we maintained possession better, it wouldn’t have been too risky to have him out for 15 minutes or so.

    Another worthy option would have been to use Fontas instead of Puyol for that substitution. He needs the big game experience and his height would have helped, as Milan’s only chances at that point were coming from free kicks and corners.

    It’s all good though. For the return game in Milan, it will be right after an international break (like this one) and most of our Spanish players should get needed rests as they’ve already qualified for Euro 2012. Plus we’ll have Alexis and Iniesta by then. I’m sure we can win there and then take the group.

    Off topic, I’ve decided to do a project for my Social Econometrics class on a case study examining the causes for the rise of transfer fees in the major European leagues. I was wondering if anyone can provide me with a website that contains all transfers made in the last 5-7 years, including transfer fees. If such a site exists, it would be a great help.

    Thank you and see you all on Saturday.


  20. Manchester C. 1 – 1 Napoli
    Inter Milan 0 – 1 Trabzonspor
    Benfica 1 – 1 Manchester U
    Ajax Amsterdam 0 – 0 Lyon
    Racing Genk 0 – 0 Valencia
    Borussia Dortmund 1 – 1 Arsenal

    all izz well, cules.. everything’s gonna be just fine.. 🙂

    1. sssshhhhh..

      I knew your team won against the Mighty Dinamo and we’re all going to die..

      but this is a healing soul thread! 😛

    2. Don’t think we didn’t notice how EE got one of their own guys sent off, just in case they lost and needed the excuse. 😉

    3. As Mou went on to explain in the press conference, it was his plan to first miss a lot of chances, then score and then get his player sent off for precautionary reasons. Don’t you dare think it wasn’t part of the plan 😉


    Pep had just 3 years to prove to the world, to us, that he is barca’s man for the job. I’m very surprised his followers still doubt his work.

    What better time to experiment than the begining of the season. Don’t we all want barca to be invincible at the business end of the season?

    I think we need to keep our players motivated and pep’s tactics do just that. Do you honestly think that pep doesn’t know that he needs Busi at Dm to get the best of him?

    Our forwards prove time and time again that they are world class, messi is not going down anytime soon (still unplayable).
    Are we of little faith?

    Just a few weeks ago, we collected the 1st 2 trophies of the season, but a few days later, 80 000 cules couldn’t motivate the team to shine and they are pessimistic enough to think their reign is coming to an end.



      I agree with you and some of the sentiment here. I watched the Milan match (not the Sociedad match, though) and there’s nothing about the performance or the result that makes me worry about the long term state of our squad yet. And nothing that even nearly makes me think back to the waning years of Riijkard.

  22. Hey Everyone,

    Long time reader, but not a frequent poster. Just wanted to put in my 2cents on Keita debate. I was watching yesterdays game and noticed Keita playing DM. Personally, I think he has very good attributes (interceptions) and equally weak attributes (for what we need at DM) that we miss when he plays the position. What I notice is his movement is lacking (when we have possession and need an outlet) and he lacks the cunning passing ability that Busi has. Busi is very good at faking out the defender when pressure builds around him. Keita is very direct and is easily found out (in regards to where he is going to pass the ball).

    This game was a perfect example. Time and time again I would watch Iniesta and Xavi look for an outlet backward or for relief from pressure and Keita would be too far back or his positioning was off a bit and they would have to look elsewhere. The only reason I think I notice such movement (usually I do not) is because Busi’s positioning is always so good that when someone replaces him, you notice the change.

    All that being said, I like what Keita brings. He roams and breaks up tons of plays. He never gives up and sacrifices for the team. You cannot discount what he brings to the side. However, the little details that Busi gets right are multiplied when the opposition implements defensive tactics and we have to rely on fast movement of the ball.

    Sorry so the post is so long. People should not freak out. This is the group stages and we are still getting into our groove. We dont want the team trashing sides 5-0 now and run out of steam later in the season. So everyone please relax. We will get better as the season progresses!!

  23. I don’t get it …. because we comment or give our constructive criticism means that we’re freaking out or no longer supporters? I, personally, like reading everyone’s opinion of the game and how it was played and how it could be improved upon. If this is a place to just post positive comments, maybe I’m in the wrong forum.

    1. specifically people are reacting to comments such as triplo volanti:

      “this team reminds me of the 06/07 one and we all know how that ended. It’s time to start preparing yourself for the end of an era because if it isn’t this season it will be very soon.”

      and there might have been other comments like it. i guess it was a bit too gloom and doom, after only a few official matches. and the truth is, we need to be projecting positive thoughts into the ether. it really does affect things.

    2. If this is a place to just post positive comments, maybe I’m in the wrong forum. forum is far from it, IMO..

      constructive criticism is not the same with freaking out, right?

      you posted on previous thread that you want Pep to stop playing Keita as a DM and Busquets as a CB.

      I agree with you on that, and I don’t consider you “freaking out or no longer supporter”

  24. -well said NapaValleyCule!

    -i was thinking this morning…i’ve seen teams score in the first minute of a game..also i’ve seen teams score in the last minute of a game..but this must be
    the first time i’ve seen a team do both in the same game??

    1. well, that’s football, it’s not over until the ref blow the final whistle…

      imagine how it felt to be a Chelsea fan after the semifinal on Stamford Bridge in 2009?

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