That Was Kind Of Awesome aka HAY LIGA!

Oi! Stop scoring so I can hate you! ...It's the hair that's giving you powers, isn't it? I knew it.

Umm… holy crap.

That was a partidazo (great game) if I ever saw one. Thoroughly enjoyed it (well, maybe not so much in the beginning, heh), and after a long day, the best kind of entertainment.

I’d take 2-2 at Mestalla any day of the week, except maybe Monday. (I like to start the week on an awesome note, and anything other than a win will have me sulking for the rest of the week). In fact, I would have gone for 2-2 if I wrote a preview for it, which is partly why this post is here.

Sorry for the preview no-show, guys. As one of the hardest away games of the season (yes, including CL) against a world class team in pretty good form, it deserved at least a little blurb. Maybe Pep decided to do some tinkering (heh, and I wonder how well Inter will do with the master tinkerer…? Yeah, moving on) so we’d have so much to talk about post-game that pre-game was pretty much unnecessary.

(Our previwer and blog overlord that’s not Kxevin is back, though. Yay!)

A big thank you to Ryan for hosting the Liveblog today. You did a great job! Thanks so much.

Some thoughts on the match:

–First things first, a bunch of hats off to Unai Emery and Valencia. I love the pre-match love-ins between managers — Pep and Unai have a lot of respect for each other. Probably because they’re both young and hip managers who gesticulate a lot — and when the two Dahveeds Silva and Villa were there… Suffice to say I spent much of my time not dedicated to Barca watching them.

They’ve always been strong at Mestalla, but coupled with a savvy manager who really, really pays attention to the opposition team… Well, you get something like what happened in the first half.

(If you can’t tell, I really like Unai. Been following him since his time at Almeria).

— Speaking of the first half, man, did we get roasted on the right, or what? It’s no surprise since the last time we played Valencia they started two leftbacks (one to attack, and one to defend). I mean, Unai pretty much said so in his press conference and, well, if it worked so well last year, why change it?

Which is why I’m a little disappointed in Pep and his team selection. In this case, they had Mathieu attack, and Jordi Alba defend. Nothing we didn’t already know, which is why the team selection had me scratching my head a bit. (Mentally of course). Hindsight is of course 20/20, and Mascherano’s skill set could have worked well at RB (I think he was playing there at least. Will have to watch more closely if I get the time to watch the game again). It didn’t though, and there was admission* of his mistake by Pep when he subbed in Villa and Thiago, both of whom I would have started before the match. We could have limited a lot of the damage and played like we did for the last 10 minutes earlier, but again, it’s easy to say these things in hindsight.

*Post game Pep said: “We leave with lessons learned and we’ll wait them [in the return leg in Barcelona].”

–Oh, and one thing that I want to stress here is that cules in general have a tendency nowadays of forgetting we play against another team. It’s expected that we walked onto the pitch of the current Liga leaders who also have the joint-top Pichichi and dominate them. Sure, some say, there are going to be some scares, but we have enough to get this done easy-peasy. Some passes weren’t connecting in good positions? Is it a bad pass, or was it a good interception? Considering that some fans sometimes think opposing players are pylons, the latter option isn’t, well, an option, so it must be the former.

That being said, we’ve got some kinks. Rustiness, new formations, yadda yadda yadda. Once we inevitably get over this little hump, watch out.

–Actually, keep watching regardless because Cesc-Messi is mucho sexy. (Pun had to happen. Sorry). As readers Blau-Grenade, blitzen, just listenin’ and the other people from the Cesc Faction (don’t deny it, there were factions, man. I don’t miss Cescgate) can attest to, Cesc coming was always going to have a positive effect. I think it’s because he knows I’m watching him, waiting for the slightest sign of weakness… 😀

Between him and Messi, they’ve either scored or assisted every one of our goals except for one. Oh my.

— On the subject of Leo, it’s a given now that fouling him in the box isn’t a foul, eh? That’s two penalties, one in each half, that he should have gotten. No doubt. And it’s not whining, complaining, or whatever to say so. It’s just a fact.

It’s funny in a frustrating sort of way, like the refs are saying, “this guy’s too good. Gotta give the defenders something to work with.” But I don’t find it very funny, to be honest.

Bah! I don't need your stinkin' penalties!

Moving past that, the pass he did in the second half to Villa where he froze four defenders inside the box was nothing short of Messi. Should have been buried by El Guaje; he’s played with the Chip the Goalie master for a season now. His man feelings for Valencia must have gotten in the way.

— Know who else got in the way time and time again? El Capita. It’s so awesome to have Puyol back. He was in fireman mode for the entirety of the first half. I missed those man-sized, inch-perfected sliding tackles. Note that they aren’t reckless; he’s going in in a way that, for all its strength, is controlled. It’s an art, man. To tackle like that is an art.

— He’s allowed to have these sort of matches once in a while. I mean, even machines have a time where its productivity goes down a bit, like when a computer is on too long and is all slow. (I hate that.) Though I think Valdes should have been more clear in his communication for the first goal, I’d say that Abidal didn’t have the greatest of matches today. Which is funny because usually when things go wrong on the defensive end, and people don’t understand why, Keita‘s blamed. (Tho, I think Keita’s skill set wasn’t meant for this kind of game).

As usual, these sort of plays start from someone in attack losing the ball and a sort of domino effect starts to happen. Abidal clears the ball both times and no goals, but remember why the defense was on the back foot both times in the first place. I’d place it on the team’s collective breakdown which steams from the different positions which was what Pep chose. Therefore, everyone has a part of the blame. :mrgreen:

Xavi was kind of awesome. When he came in, Thiago was pretty amazing too. Xaviago. I love it.

Busi had The Funk, and when he funks up the place (i.e. his passes go astray), we notice because of the position he plays. He looked a lot better in the second, and that goes for the whole team really.

Banega‘s alright, ain’t he? He had some nice moves. It’s kind of sad that I wait for La Liga Loca to give him some kind of backhanded compliment, though.

— Mascherano had the place on lock down in the second half. If that cannon went in, thus scoring his first goal in blaugrana, I think I could have screamed my roof off. Some proper smashing as well. And those interventions? Me gusta.

Alves as a right winger? Pep, my man, you tried that in the 09/10 Clasico in the Bernabeww and it didn’t work all that great. Osasuna? Well, Valencia ain’t Osasuna. /shrugs

— One of the consequences of playing us is that even when we’re feeling The Funk, we’re still pretty damn good. Valencia played their hearts out and still could, and probably would had we gotten that penalty, have lost. They were pretty much out of gas by the 75th minute, which Unai tried to rectify by putting in fresh legs. This is the trade-off the happens when you take the game to us, and press and all that jazz. You have to put the game out of sight or you’ll be under ridiculous pressure when you start to tire even a little bit.

If we had won this game, would it have been unfair? Depends. Did people think the Milan result was unfair despite them having two clear chances in the first and last third seconds of the game? When you have quality players, they usually find a way to settle games, whether or not your team deserves it or not. Football’s just that kind of game.

–On the subject of seconds, we get 4 minutes. A random red card happens during that time, and we’re about to launch another assault on goal and the ref blows at 3 minutes 30 seconds? Dudes, AC Milan would have scored in that time frame. *sulks*

All in all, this was an amazing match. We could have saved ourselves a lot of grief and hair pulling (and for Miguel, hand pain from punching walls) if we had gotten Thiago and Villa on from the beginning, but it is what it is. At least we got a very entertaining game out of it. The best so far this season, IMO.

Oh, and EE drew! I’m missing all the schadenfreude with this placement. 🙁

Ah well, he who laughs last, laughs the hardest, no?

See that guy? The one with the number 6? Assist him.

By Kari

Just your neighbourhood Barca fanatic


  1. I’ll comment on your post tomorrow, but for now, I would just like to say that that pic of Pep & Thiago is wonderful.

    1. The ‘u’ in shout got lost in the excitement of seeing my name in the article. Heh.

      I was so mad when Soldado missed that sitter, for some reason. Maybe because Barça kept falling for the same crap time after time. And I can’t belive Masche didn’t get his goal today.

  2. Some observations from me:

    – Masch was being owned by Mathieu. Pep should have swapped Puyol out to RB, had Masch play CB beside him and brought in Adriano much earlier.

    – Buckets just isn’t made for the back-line. He isn’t committed to the sliding tackle and is just too slow to get back. Once he switched to midfield, his talent showed.

    – This wasn’t a game for Keita, and it showed. Love the man, but for God’s sake, Pep, don’t play him against a team like Valencia with no one really in midfield to support him. He had to depend on Abidal to link up with, and that was not good.

    – The whole team was too slow, gave away too much ball, and had so many missed passes tonight. When Messi gives the ball away around midfield, dangerous things happen.

    – What was up with the pitch? It looked really dry – I don’t think that they had watered it much, so this might have accounted for the missed passes and lack of Barca fluency. It certainly better suited Valencia’s game.

    – Valencia played super-well. Unai schooled Pep tonight, and it wasn’t helped by Pep’s player choice and positioning.

    – Have noticed that Xavi is definitely playing a lot deeper for longer than usual. It worked well for Osasuna, but he was battling against Valencia. When Thiago came on, it got better. I think that part of the tactics is to have Thiago and Cesc do most of the running part for Xavi and leave him to be the General on the pitch who dictates the play.

    – Adriano introduced some speed into the Barca game, but no other player really travelled with him in support.

    – Our midfield did not work. When we don’t have a midfield, the backline looks like a chicken shack when under pressure. Hens running everywhere in panic.

    But what a game! I watched the Madrid game first, and then the Barca one. I’ve only just managed to return my heart to resting-rate, so I’ll go to bed now! 😉

  3. Hey! Me and Jim were also in the Cesc camp. I’ve always knew it was going to be Cesc-si (se-xy).

    Thanks for the quick review. I still have to watch the match though.

  4. Yup, there was no doubt that it was a brilliant match. The funny part is after 4 rounds of La Liga we lie at 4th place and Real madrid at 7th and most importantly Betis may open up a four point lead at top if they win tonight. Strange, it will be too much for the EPL fans who says that it’s a two horse race. Incidently EPL is becoming kind of a one horse race, forget the two.

    There is no doubt that Valencia did play really well. But there is no way we can judge how good they are, as there were tactical blunders done by Guardiola. As far as i am concerned Guardiola’s reluctance to accept that Valencia can cause problems was behind last night’s 2-2 draw. You cannot go to Mestalla and line-up a 3 man defense. People may argue that the 3 man defense wasn’t the problem as we switched back to it for the later majority of second half. But I would agree the opposite. After the break we immediately switched back to a 4 man defense with Abidal ruinning up the pitch and Alves constantly staying back. That brought the control back to our play and Valencia was slowly being priced out of possession. Following that Valencia stopped pressing heavily in teh midfield and that helped us to switch back to a three man defense.

    The problem for Guardiola is that he had to play Cesc Fabregas in the line-up and that meant he could only use a 3-4-3 formation. Cesc is more of a attack minded player and could not and will not settle into Iniesta’s position. As far as I am concerned, Guardiola should have started with cesc on bench with Keita and Xavi in midfield and Villa up front. We were extremely lucky that we didn’t go into the break 3-1 down or worse 4-1 down. After the first five minutes, Valencia realised that they could stretch teh back three with attack through flanks, something I have highlighted in a blog post – Everytime we lost the ball we were exposed at the back because of brilliant overlapping run from matthieu. The porblem with Barca line up was that alves was playing too up front, hence he also could not come down temporarily making the defense a 4 memeber one.

    I don’t understand the logic behind going into a tough stadium to visit and playing a three man defense. Especially when we are still searching the first away victory of the season. We had some brilliant result away from home – a series of 2-2 against Madrid, Sociedad and now Valencia. Guardiola needs to learn from these tactical issues. This may not harm us in La Liga, but it will definitely in Europe. The positives are that these things are getting exposed so early in the season, that means Guardiola have enough time to correct these, i.e if he really wants to.

    1. I wouldn’t call the English Premier League a one horse race. Man United is 3 points ahead. It’s not as close as La Liga, but it’s only week 5. Liked the rest of your stuff, that one comment just rubbed the wrong way.

    2. But United usually really picks up steam in the later half of the season. If they get a nice lead by December, it could look quite uneven by May.

  5. Thank you Kari for thIS review! It was a great game, most entertaining (though I would have prefered a baile from us), when I first saw the line-up I didn’t have any objections, I thought it could work but obviously it didn’t. First I believe Alves had an off day, he didnt press enough, I think because of his offensive responsabilities, but him and Villa didn’t do a good job on the field today. Both goals (and another scares) came from their left, and as you said Pep must have know the danger coming from Mathieu. They were fast, REALLY fast in their transitions, it was EPL fast. Well, Pep changed something on the second half, but I think until Adriano and Thiago came to the game, things werent looking to good for us. Adriano gave us the necessary width and he seemed to do everything Alves couldn’t, and I love our capitá, but taking him out left us with 3 really pacey defenders, Alves (RCB), Masche and Abidal. And that and their tiredness seemed to work fine. I also agree also with 2 statements; this wasnt a game for Keita, and most importantly, once they got tired, we seemed to find our game. The last 15 minutes were fab_olous! (I also was one of the Buy Cesc team .)And what happened to Villa on that one on one! And the shot from Masche, that would have been an epic first goal with the team. The game was most enjoyable, and we improved a lot, and as Pep said, we did learn a few things, those will be handy on our next encounter. I also want to state the fact (cause I had a discussion about this with my dark side madridista friend) it’s a lot different to tie this game, than to tie to Racing (no disrespect to them, they played an awesome game). So no injuries (but both penalties were so obvious!) but well, this was awesome to see. Next Atletico (no longer pathetico, Falcao was a great signing for them), let’s see what can we do to them on the CampNou. 🙂

  6. Great review Kari!! I agree with all your points. Its strange because now I think you’re secretly reading my mind 😉

    We arent perfect so its expected that we will misplace a few passes. Its then up to the defense to, you know, “defend.” The defense should be blamed when they mess up and today they messed up because of the selection and formation Pep used which wasnt able to cope with Valencia’s smart and quick attacks.
    I love Pep but I am, as well as many others it seems, disappointed in him not learning from last year’s encounters.

    But better to experiment now and work out the kinks to get as close to perfect as possible. I still think we’re not 100%. The fact that we can still put up great fights and play great when we need to is testament to the fact that this team is probably one of the best ever (I still think Brazil in the 70s and 82 is the best).

    And definately not to take anything away from Valencia, they played great, as to be expected at the Mestalla. Lets not all forget that only last season was Pep’s first victory there since he took over. The 08/09 season was a 2-2 draw, then 09/10 season was a 0-0 draw. Last season our first win their and that was a hard fought 1-0 win (and pretty fortunate as well).

    Now what scares me is Atletico and more specifically Falcao. He’s tearing it up at the moment and Turan/Diego are starting to find their rhythm. I’m scared. Someone pass me the aspirin!
    All these tough matches so early in the season are exciting but is leadin me to have premature heart attacks and increased grey hairs lol

  7. Kari the Koach? 🙂 (lame pun)

    Seems like it was good then worth downloading eh? I will do so later I guess, since I didn’t watch the match.

  8. Thanks for the pro-Cesc club shout out Kari, have to admit a sense of vindication on which faction I represented, and just to pile on, how many of the things we were saying were spot on… I truly believed Cesc read the game so much better than he was ever able to demonstrate at Arsenal, because he wasn’t surrounded by “like-minded” players – you could tell he saw things and tried them, and positioned himself but then lacked support and intuition from his mates to play things through. Nice to see him excelling. Three words, “hand in glove” – we clearly underpaid despite all the concern about the price tag…

    This was a cracker jack of a match. Wow. That is some nice brand of the beautiful game being played in La Liga. Unless, if one were a conspiracy theorist. Then you have to conclude the Barca and EE are letting themselves be challenged to shut del Nido up and keep the TV revs just where they are – no need to change that, look how competitive. That’s the only other possible explanation… other than truly superb futbol.

    Haven’t had much chance to comment lately – justsayin is in Spain with her mom at a wedding in Malaga, so I’ve been just listenin, and watching the just littles, and enjoying these conversation about telepathy and slime mold (looking forward to that esoteric post) I have my own ideas around complex adaptive systems theory that I think help explain Barca’s style of play too, simple rules that govern self organization in complex situations… nah! Barca is just awesome – no club holds a candle.

    1. Yes we are. That’s how I came up with my screen name. You know how marriage can be… she’s justsayin, and I’m just listenin’ … Easy, easy, just jokin’

    2. PS: not joking about in fact being hitched- just the nature of the last legal form of indentured servitude

    3. Which is often closely associated with, although significantly different and somewhat less offensive than slavery – I’ll go back to listening’ now before I get in trouble 🙂

  9. The most important think to take from this match is that the team “tiene cojones.” The league is strong, and we should get used to games like this away from home. During the Rijkaard era ties and losses were quite common. All I ask is that Valencia play the same way when Real comes to town.

  10. Cesc is going to be at the heart of Barcelona factions for the duration it seems. He’s winning over his detractors with 5 goals and 4 assists in all official competitions this year (and don’t forget that he has made the pass that made the assist on several occasions too, a la Xavi), but he has been most effective as the tip of the diamond in the 3-4-3, which seems to be controversial. It seems that a lot of BFB folks are criticizing the use of the 3-4-3 at Valencia, but this is the future. Barcelona were going to drop points in tough venues regardless of the formation. Injuries to Iniesta, Pique, and Sanchez, coupled with a dry pitch and an off form Busquets and Abidal (not to mention Messi was short of other worldly) and you have to say that a draw in Valencia is a good result, regardless of the formation.

    I completely agree with Kari in that Thiago and Villa should have started. There is way too much Keita negativity out there and I am not in that camp, but I thought the real problem in the first half was not the exposed right flank, but the inability to handle the Valencia press and link up with Cesc and Messi up front. It is unfair to compare Thiago’s effectiveness in this regard (playing against tired Valencia legs) with Keita’s ineffectiveness (playing in the first half against a rabid press), but it wasn’t until Thiago was in that Barcelona really started to control midfield. I would have liked to have seen him given a go to do it from the outset.

    Turnovers in possession were ultimately the cause of the attacks out wide. The purpose of the 3-4-3 is to dominate the midfield. When the team plays evenly with the opposition midfield, the 3-4-3 gets exposed.

    You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. There is no criticizing Pep’s starting lineup from me. I am speaking in hindsight and wish Thiago had been in from the start because of what I saw out there. Pep had no way of knowing that he would get off games from so many players. He made the appropriate changes to get a draw in a tough venue. Personally, I am not concerned that Valencia will be a major threat for the la liga title and if you are afraid to unleash your new system in this game, then you might as well scrap it altogether. It needs to be battle tested and one can expect a few bumps in the road. Playing the 3-4-3 in the Mestalla was the perfect opportunity to put the system under some real pressure from a good team. There were problems and they were addressed. A point was gotten. Penalties weren’t called and some point blank shots were flubbed and/or saved.

    If the 3-4-3 is to be more than a novelty, then the lessons learned from the day are more important than the 2 points dropped.

    1. Worth noting that most of the Keita negativity around here is coming from a single person with an agenda. Best ignored.

    2. Exactly the impression I got from the game and the liveblog:
      Many are calling for the definitive return to the “tried and tested” 4-3-3, but the game is evolving, and so are our opponents. With that in mind, Barca added new and exciting weapons to its arsenal this summer, and Pep is looking for the best, most innovative and unpredictable ways to integrate them in the system while emphasizing their individual strengths. Cesc is not Iniesta. Thiago is no Xavi. Alexis is not Pedro. This squad has much potential for greatness, but don’t expect everything to gel and magic to be produced overnight. It took several seasons for the 4-3-3 to evolve to the unparallelled heights of movement, passing and telepathy we’ve become used to seeing. Just re-watch the 2009 CL final – it might be called a “sloppy” game by our current standards, and yet at the time it was height of the genre. Personally, in Pep I trust and expect great things ahead.

  11. “A poor performance from the Brazilian. His game is to venture forward on the overlap and did this without retreating quick enough. Was caught out of position so many times and Valencia did well to expose the space, with Mathieu grabbing two assists with crosses from Alves’ position.”

    That was’s rating of Alves and awarding him Flop of the Match. I don’t understand how they call themselves experts or do “Tactical Analysis” when they can’t even understand the gameplan of last night.

    Many comments from different sites from so-called experts thinking that we were playing 4-3-3 and Dani just kept getting caught out of position.

    P.S Adriano is a much better winger “3rd attacker” than Alves.

    1. Many of the analysts out there seem to be missing that point. Even Zonal Marking, though acknowledging that Alves played high up on the pitch in the first half, seems to think that Barcelona were playing without a right winger. Maybe I’m delusional, but Alves was the right winger, not a RB pushing forward, in the first half. Maybe the world football press just can’t wrap their minds around the idea that Pep is really committed to the 3 man back line.

      Kind of off topic: Once Pique is healthy, the 3 man back line solves a lot of perceived squad depth problems. Pep will be able to rotate Alves, Pique, Puyol, and Abidal (Maxwell and Adriano presumably will get minutes as well) on the 3 man back line, with Fontas there in non crucial games, and Mascherano can be utilized as the DM back up. Although I think Keita will develop into a serviceable sub for Busquets at DM, Mascherano is a better option, in my opinion. If Pep is really making a long term switch to 3-4-3, then the perceived need for another defender doesn’t really exist unless injuries hit harder than they already have.

      The four man midfield also solves the dilemma many saw in the Cesc signing: there are more than enough minutes to go around in the midfield.

  12. so people are finally starting to realize, after one semi-bad match, that Messi’s passing has been off all season?

    yes, those intricate through balls..and that one to Villa late might’ve been THE best pass I’VE ever seen..

    but its the simpler ones, to maintain possession that he’s been having trouble with all season so far.

    1. Mmm…I have not realized this nor am I starting to realize it but if you say so you could be right of course…
      What I will say is that he did not have a semi-bad match, he had a stinker. I don’t recall any match this season in which he misplaced so many passes and he looked absolutely Bojanesque on his one-on-one. The fact that on a stinker he still delivers two assists plus the mind-boggler to Villa is testament of his greatness…

    2. I agree. I can’t remember how many times last night(had to watch it DVRed) I said ooooh Messi has it…um I mean had it. And yet even during a stinker he has the talent to pull off some flashes of brilliance.

      As for the whole season, I disagree. Messi, like Iniesta, tries some passes closer to goal that aren’t 100% likely to get through because he has the luxury of doing that. For example, Xavi doesn’t have that luxury because he’s tasked more with keeping possession and orchestrating the attack. I frequently see Messi and Iniesta try passes near the area only to have them blocked. They have that creative freedom. And every once in a while the pass will find it’s way through. Once in a while is enough as goals and assists are, after all, once in a while things.

      I do think our flea needs a rest again soon. Just don’t know when.

    3. Keep talking, folks. It will get people ready for the KRS ratings. 😀 Cuz yeah, Messi kinda wasn’t the man yesterday. It might, in some quarters, raise the specter of Messidependencia, right? To me, even though he stank, we still got it done and had a real opportunity to win (yes, or lose). Still.

  13. talkSPORT is reporting that Gai Assulin is “considering his future” at Man City already. Apparently playing with the reserves isn’t as exciting as he had hoped. Should have gone to Arsenal, Gai, you might have been a first-team player by now. 😛

  14. The Keita negativity, no matter who it’s from, should stop. He wasn’t the reason for the goals. It was a hell of a match. Abidal had a howler, but I reckon he was due.

    Valencia decided to do what more teams will do to us this season: attack hard, fast and aggressively up the wing, probably Alves’ wing. That’s the best way to take him out of the offense, and find his shortcomings as a defender. It’s like Route One into our box.

    It also shows how hard it is to play with the fire and aggression that we demonstrated on the weekend. If that team shows up, Valencia gets what Villarreal did. It didn’t, so Valencia got a draw that could have easily been a win for them. It happens.

    Cool part is if they win today, newly promoted Betis will be clear at the top of the table. Liga like SPL my ass!

    1. Thing is, despite 70 odd mins of making me bite my wrist, we could’ve won too! The performance in the latter stages was awesome! All the negativity in the Loveblob (thanks Ryan!) vanished..

    2. Keita has both strengths and weaknesses that Busi doesn’t. Busi has strengths and weaknesses that Keita doesn’t. Unfortunately both have been called upon recently to play in positions that are less comfortable for them, same with sMashe. Fortunately we are blessed that even when forced to play in these positions, because of their talent, drive, and dedication they are able to perform not perfectly but pretty darn well. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. IMHO, Busi could start at CB and Keita could start at DM for the majority of teams in the world and those teams would feel fortunate to have them. That being said, certain games call for Keita, this game called for Thiago. And we’re lucky to have both!

    3. Agree you on the Keita point. Alves was primarily doing an offensive duty having been slotted such high up on the pitch. So naturally he couldn’t track back that much. The key was Guardiola decided to use him in the attack not even in the midfield. That was the mistake. He did the same at Bernebeu once, but at that time we did well because we still had a four man defense.

  15. That was a game! Now I love a good 8-0 thrashing now and then but I have to admit that on Saturday, once we were up 6-0, my attention started to wander. Wish we had won, but the Mestalla scares me so much I’m happy we tied.

    Pep’s tinkering is wearing me down. I know it has to happen but my poor little soccer brain is having a hard time wrapping itself around the permutations. totalBarca has a contest going on. Before every game you are supposed to “get inside Pep’s head” and pick a lineup. I’m not even gonna try. Too hard this year. For all I know he’ll put himself in at DM in order to free up Busi to play the false 9, in order for Messi to play keeper one day. Oh well, in Pep I trust!

    AND…anims Blitzen’s mom!

    1. anims Blitzen’s mom!

      Pep prides himself in his tinkering. In the early part of the 08/09 season started he wouldn’t pick the same lineup. Shows that he is exercising his creativity and experimenting with innovations. That is a healthier sign for his stay here. Don’t forget he hasn’t signed an extension yet – better 2 points dropped than searching for a new coach, something we might hear from Interistas..

  16. Infantil A right back Guim (14), son of ex-president Joan Laporta (2003-10), has joined Arsenal after his mother moved to London. [md]

    How could Laporta an ex-president, a soci all his life, let his kid join Arsenal after all what has been happening??!!

    1. Because the kid lives with his mother in London? And the kid wants to play football at a team with a good youth system? And, you know, people go about living their real lives irrespective of trumped-up rivalries and media wars?

    2. there will be no saga. once laporta sees his kid is improving, he’ll get his wife to move back to Barcelona. so the kid will play with juvenil or barca b. no probs.

  17. many people will not agree with me,but i think its time we just stop with this 3 4 3 thingy.many of us may call it revolutionary but i m not one of them.our tried and tested 4 3 3 serves us quite splendidly and if we have to use fabulous then i think he should be used as false 9 along with messi.

    nothing wrong with experimentation though,but using it in an away game in metsella is quite dangerous.

    keita shouldnt have started IMO.though there is absolutely nothing wrong with him in this game.our midfield was quite horrible in the 1st half and cesc and messi was quite detachd from the midfield.

    with all being said and done we r quite lucky to get a point.(just remember the 2 soldado misses).

    strange to see messi play such a bad game but still those 2 assists and that pass to villa,just remind me that what is the standard of play we expect for him.

    xavi and thiago are the top players in this game.

    @blitz.anims to your mom.

    1. Hey Hammeron,

      It was with the 3 4 3 that Barca dismantled Osasuna.

      Also in the second half of the game, when Puyol got subbed out, Barca reverted to the 3 4 3 formation. That is when they totally dominated Valencia.

      My thought is that Pep had the right idea all along, he just put the wrong players on the pitch for the job in the first half. He changed that in the second half.

      Just look at Allas’s video. *

    2. 3-4-3 is a very good formation, but with it’s draw backs. It’s not that he used it was the problem. he used at Mestalla against this Valencia side was the problem. It was clear before the start that Valencia will pressure you in the midfield and have the quality to attack through the flanks. Against such a team that was suicidal. But it will work brilliantly against teams who sit back and try to absorb pressure.

      Having said that Guardiola should use the same formation against Atletcio. The reason being – Atletico midfield is not going to pressure us much. With Iniesta absent, 3-4-3 is the best option you got if you want to use Cesc.

  18. the tinkerman as the coach of inter.what a story.

    liked him from his chelsea days.a very very loveable man.wish him all the best

  19. Ibrahim Afellay has injured/ripped ligaments in his left knee during training. He will most likely have surgery tomorrow #fcblive

    Damn, this is awful.

    1. Well, he tore the ACL. That’s the bad one. If he’s getting the big cut, then he tore the hell out of it. Hence the 6 months. Often, the fix can be via getting it ‘scoped. Damn. Kid can’t catch a break.

    2. I don’t think he will be sold at all if he’s a good asset on the dressing room. As it happened to Milito, we got his back. If he isn’t he won’t be sold until he recuperates and gets his health back. A year from now. I hope he stays mentally strong, and that he will be all right. About the club, should we buy someone on winter?

    3. Ouch, that hurts in tandem with Sanchez. I suspect we’ll be seeing alot more Adriano & Thiago as we toy with line-ups. Anyone else Adriano could handle a more offensive role, similar to Alvez playing up vs. Osasuna?

  20. i have got some time but nothing to do,so thinking of a diving 11 where the goalkeep shouts the loudest(cause they have to dive).the formation is our standard 4 3 3.


    Alves Carvalho Lucio Marcelo


    Gerrard Schenider

    Robben Drogba Maria(Captain)

    and no place for ronaldo,he actually reduced his diving nowadays

  21. Afellay out, Sanchez out. That leaves us with a front line of…MVP. Hmm. Not too shabby.

    Also, this is Pep’s new boy Cuenca’s big chance. Expect him to be called up for the next match.

    1. I don’t know, Roma has improved over the last couple of games. I think they will give Lucho a bit more time.

      Bojan on the other hand is staring reality in the face. Enrique isn’t going to use him while his head is on the line – an indication of how much he trusts Bojan. I don’t see Bojan being a great forward in the Serie A.

    1. Betis may have the best fans in La Liga per capita. When do we play there this year? It feels more like a Bull Fight than a soccer match.

  22. Putting all the things together that happened over the last 3 weeks or so, it seems like we have a new Hlebruary, and it’s call Hlebtember… 😉

  23. Next three games for Betis are (A) Getafe, (H) Levante, and then away at EE.

    If they tie or win that last one, then we’ve got ourselves a season.

    1. Wouldn’t it be funny if they had enough room by the EE game that they could afford to lose? 🙂

      I have them winning Getafe, but Levante are playing well too. Shoot, they’re higher than EE right now!

    1. It would never happen, of course, but it would be great(for football) if teams without much financial muscle, but with great team spirit, atmosphere and tactics could really compete in the league. And if we got the CL. And if EE got nothing 🙂

  24. Trust in Puyol! There must be t-shirts with that already, right?

    Looks like the Serie A may be even more balanced than La Liga, both Milans winless right now.

    I love Barca and La Liga but saying us tying Valencia in a great game is proof we’re as balanced and as deep as the Premiership is delusional, in my opinion, and ignores the Table results over the last few years. I’d still argue week-in, week-out, especially with the more physical play, the Premiership is the most competitive and broadest pool of talent.

    1. But it still remains a fact that Chelsea and United have just been trading league titles for a while now.

    2. I problem I think is circular. Balanced leagues tend not to win in Europe (EPL teams have won the CL/UEFA/Europa cup only twice in the last decade). If the Liga BBBVA became more balanced, its European contingent would not do so well in Europe. In the eyes of critics therefore it would be “a crap league.” Germany is the most competitive league–but they rarely go far in the CL. There’s no winning a propaganda war against the English media. They’ll maintain their prejudices no matter what. SO I’d much rather their being scared of Barcelona while ridiculing the league.

    3. I wouldn’t call a league that has been won 12 times out of a possible 19 the most competitive league in the world. In the same time period Barça and Madrid have shared the titles in an almost equal manner. La Liga has also had more champions during that period. 3 years of dominating by arguably ‘The Greatest Team Of All Time’ and ‘The Most Expensive One Of All Time’ don’t suddenly make La Liga a ‘Liga de Mierda’. Even the EPL’s top teams lost and were thrashed by us and EE (United, Arsenal and Tottenham).
      Let’s wait and see what this season has in store for us.

    1. so bad for him. hope Ibi won’t get sold. He haven’t had enough chances to prove. Hes potential to be our super sub/secret weapon and actually we dont hv kind of the real winger player in current team like Ibi.

  25. ah does anyone here have the download link for the game ? although it was a tie, it seems like really really good game

    and man that fabregas, he’s more than a midfielder now.. he’s our new goal-scoring machine LOL 😀

  26. How in the name of Jimmeny Cricket does Villa miss sooooooo may 1v1’s with the keeper. It’s almost weird. He gets in so often and then- nada. What is it? The attack angle, bad decision making about where to slot the shot? Bad luck?!?! It’s almost inconceivable that he doesn’t have a 30+ goal season given who he is and how he works his way past the back line with those relentless killer runs (I know I’ve read all the previous posts). How often does he smoke the back line and miss the finish It has to be 500 should be goals by now. I love Dahveed Veeya and am a staunch supporter, this is no hate, i love the guy, no disrespect at all in this observation, but what the #%^* is going on? We clearly should’ve beat his former teammates after Messi messimerized with that impossible pass. it was a very good shot! How are the keepers coming up time and time again with these massive saves on him… It has to be him, right? common denominator?? Has he lost a quarter of a step or a fraction of a second?

    1. Villa often shoots straight at the GKs, trying to tunnel them, but they are catching onto this now with him. He needs to find a new shootplan when it comes to these situations.

      And what about Messi’s miss when he was one-on-one with the keeper? Messi doesn’t miss those! He usually goes around the GK but this time he kept playing straight. Most unusual.

    2. I was surprised too that Messi missed – he seemed just a little off kilter the other day with intermittent moments of brilliance and blunder. I think you are right about Villa, but he has to start finding a way through, he has been central to so many chances that can make a difference. That said he has also come through in some pretty key situations… Like I said, I’m in the pro VIlla camp too, I would just love to see him capitalize on half of the ones that got away. There seems to be something that happens when he lands in there so quickly and close to the keeper that short circuits his decision making, or he loses his composure on the ball for a second like he is almost still shocked that they actual can squeeze the ball in to him.

  27. Now that Ibrahim Afellay’s injury has reduced our frontline to basically 3 and one of our stated aims of the transfer season was to augment our frontline, I have to ask this. Is there a UEFA/La Liga version of an injury exemption that one gets in the NBA to acquire a new player? Or the likes outside the transfer window?

    1. I only heard of that rule in the EPL, when not to long ago the FA gave some team permission to sign a temporary goal-keeper since their 2 gks were out with long term injuries.

      Also I doubt Pep will sign anyone come Jan. He is determined to use this squad of players and the B team whenever.

      BTW shouldn’t Jonathan Soriano be fit by now?

    2. If am not wrong, he’s out for 2 months. His injury happened in Aug preseason, so he could be back soon, maybe OCT.

    3. maybe we won’t see a new player in January, especially forward. Alexis will be back in november. MVP + Cesc can handle the business at the moment. Pep can call deolofue or cuenca for copa match.

  28. Well..i for one thought pep messed this up. While against villareal the tactics were spot on and backed by logic, against Osasuna and now valencia pep was lazy and just put together a team and thought they would win just by themselves. As mentioned in Zonal marking, it was naive of pep to get caught out by the same 2 left back formation emery deployed last year at Nou camp.
    Another mistake was empploying 2 DM in 3-4-3 when one typically uses only 1 DM in 3-4-3.
    The point is also excellently captured in this post –

    Also, I unabashedly belong to the anti keita camp and it seems quite a few are coming around to that camp. He is a brilliant squad player (if not the epitome of a squad player) but frankly at both the positions where he can play (DM and Box to box)he doesnt deserve to start and should come as a last gap solution. As DM, Busi / masch are way better and as Box to box, we miss out on added creativity of a second playmaker in thiago, iniesta and xavi. Note how our goals rate dropped when keita was box to box player in our 09-10 season instead of iniesta.
    I somehow think the hat trick he scored in 09-10 season was a total fluke (which made Pep realise he had a plan B, an inferior one i must add to plan A)and got him a run of 15-20 matches where he started undeservingly. Also for the past two seasons he stubbornly refused to play DM (which detracts from his perfect squad player image) and only started doing in this season when competition for places is more intense. My biggest gripe against keita is that he robbed / Cheated Xavi from Golden ball in 1999 Youth WC.
    I surmise that Pep connects with him for his humility, views on islam (Maybe Pep’s interest from his Qatar days)and possibly common tastes on few other things. And hence feels obliged to give a starting spot to him.

    I for one would sell him next year / January at GBP 5m+ and possibly bring back romeu at 5m from chelsea or promote one of the youth teamers like JDS as additional utility midfielder.

    1. Nonsense. Keita is a very useful backup for Iniesta, a more than decent DM who has improved as the season has progressed and is possibly the best bet in a physical game. It is no wonder that Pep trusts him so much. It has got nothing to do with his religion, ethnicity or whatever.

      Having said that, Keita can definitely improve better in Busquets’ role, while the latter has a lot more to do and lot more to learn if he is playing CB.

      The only thing I would want to do during the winter transfer season is to lap up a decent CF/winger as a replacement for the injured Afellay. For a cheap option, I would like someone like Juanlu who plays for Levante. Pretty good on the ball, has decent dribbling abilities and strong left footed player.

    2. with regards to our last game, Keita was the only suitable option to play in midfield. People may argue Thiago should of played but with the intensity at which Valencia pressed the other night, Thiago would lose as much if not more possession than Keita. Zonal marking also pointed out that lack of a right midfield or winger which would have helped Alves pin back Emery’s LBs.

      No doubt Keita is a really good midfielder, that’s a poor argument you got there pr17.

      This worries me because Afellay was our only dribbling winger left in the first squad and we should definetly look into using a youngster or a winter transfer.

    3. can_we_go_xalvies – I agree that keita is good, but your argument that keita is only suitable option is not corroborated by how the match went. History has ample proof that when teams press / play physically like Inter in CL semis in 09-10 and RM in this years Supercopa first leg, keita has come a cropper. His physical presence is a mirage woven by some fans since he hardly wins any tackles / Disposses others and is innocuous with the ball (Thats why opponents dont pay much heed to him). Agree that thiago hasnt proved anything in those tough matches but atleast he offers something creatively.

      Srini – The point you make is my point too that Keita is a good backup (No more no less). Thats what i am screaming about. Pep shouldnt start him and only use him as a tactical sub. hence those guesses on why pep starts him. from pep’s sunshine boys comments and few others in the past, i dont think my surmise is far from the truth.

    4. You have a point about when the opposition press us high up Keita becomes vulnurable, but the fact that we lacked a right midfielder, Messi playing in the centre and Febregas playing an almost completely free position, It was inevitable that when the opposition win the ball we would instantly lose our shape when we try to press/defend and Valencia could find easy passes under pressure.

  29. @blau grenade

    Hey Hammeron,

    It was with the 3 4 3 that Barca dismantled Osasuna.
    Also in the second half of the game, when Puyol got subbed out, Barca reverted to the 3 4 3 formation. That is when they totally dominated Valencia.
    My thought is that Pep had the right idea all along, he just put the wrong players on the pitch for the job in the first half. He changed that in the second half.

    osasuna and valencia,u simply cannot compare the two,in terms od their ability,mindset,tactical know how and the venue of the game.

    when thiago came on we totally dominated valencia and it was the fatigue of valencia that also helped quite a lot in this sense.

    disagree on the right idea of pep,though kudos to him he rectified his mistake.IMO he should go with a back of DA,CP,JM AND EA,MF of SB,SK and TA and a front three of DV,LM AND CF.

    my take on 3 4 3,its high rewarding and at the same time very much high risk kindda tactic(yes,yes,the biggest risk is not taking any risk,i know),ready to be used against a lesser side not against a top side.

    and when pique,ini and sanchez come back,we may go back to our normal i hope we might not see it.

    havent seen how the dream team played,but i know they played mainly with the 3 4 3.while they r much more fun to watch then this barca,they also conceded a lot(a lot) in terms of this barca.(not my opinion,those who see both).

    anyway,the ATM game is upon us.we are gonna win by 3 0

    1. no,i cant imagine that.willian is a good player with the potential of being very good.can he be a starter?

      we now have a deep squad,but our injury luck isnt helping us.

      but IMO affelay is done for us,will be sold in the next season.

      what bout cuenca?havent seen him play,but hear great reviews from our reader.can he fill the void.

  30. whats the gain of playing 3 4 3 instead of a 4 3 3?

    is our 4 3 3 failed us?no?the margin of error in 4 3 3 is much higher than the 3 4 3.back in last season we r exhausted,but still valencia didnt create any noticeable chances,yet in this game in the first 55 mins they created at least 4 good chances.u can always say that we also created more than w.r.t the previous was messi that created those chances(though thiago,wow what a ball),not a collective one IMO.

    anyway i think with the injuries of ini and sanchez,pep was forced to play fab in this match and to maximize fab,he has to go for the 3 4 3.for all his goalscoing records as an actual midfield player cescy didnt do anything against milan.

    waiting for the happy return of ini,san.

    1. Hey Hammeron,

      Just read Euler’s review of how the 3 4 3 worked against Villarreal. All the matches in the past few seasons that Barca has played are mostly 4 3 3. There are a few caveats to the 4 3 3 , like Messi’s free role, Xaviniesta free role etc.


      Both have their systems have their advantages and disadvantages, but their effectiveness is primarily dependent on how the opposition decide to play barca.

      If we look at the Villarreal game, they play a narrow game. And the Barca 3 4 3 system worked perfectly there. This formation brought Villarreal much success in the past few years.

      Valencia played wide, or moved the ball frequently to the wing. They were able to come up with a numerical advantage when they arrived near our box.

      IMO here are the options Pep is likely to use to stretch the opposition defense, so Messi and Cesc get more room to play the false 9 and 10 roles. These two are already irreplaceable on the front line.

      Villa is a good cover for Sanchez IMHO on the left forward. He has learnt to play that role quite well in the last few matches. He usually hugs the left wing perfectly.

      Alves, Adriano at the right forward. He has already used them there in the last few matches.

      Lastly, Thiago has surprised me quite a bit in the last few games. He was always good at attacking but his improvement in the defensive aspect of his game has been tremendous.

      This might be a significant reason why Pep might go with yet another formation

      4 2 3 1 – where Busi and Thiago play together as two central holding midfielders. Xavi Messi Iniesta as the 3 attacking midfielders, with Cesc as the forward.

  31. “Imagine if we’d had our wits about us in the summer window, and signed Willian.”

    That does nothing except move Adriano up the depth chart due to injuries and puts Willian behind him. At the rate of injuries I’m not gonna be surprised when Cuenca gets some tick soon.

    Afellay out 6 months and someone says hes gonna be sold for sure? lol

    You think us Cules are hopeless, pessimistic, sky is falling type people? You should read some Roma blogs or follow some Romanisti on twitter. Awesome transfer window, and 3 games in they want Enrique out and pretty much banned from ever coming to Rome or something. They’re crazy.

    1. I do think that Willian is more attack minded than Adriano, hence my thought. He’s also pacier, and better with the ball at his feet. I re-watched the matches we played against Shakhtar (UEFA SC, Champions League), and he was a constant danger, getting on the bad side of Alves in a way that few players can (damn that Mathieu!).

      His price was right as well. Word was that he could have been had for 10-12m, probably because Shakhtar is still feeling guilty about the Txigrinski deal.

      –I think that fans in general are crazy. Recall that people in this space were questioning Guardiola, his tinkering, etc. I think footy is a results-driven world, and nobody has patience for the long view. I still wonder what might have happened had Guardiola not started winning right away.

    2. Willian is great in exposing spaces. That, he’ll not find with Barcelona.

      He is ok. There is a reason why no club seeks his services though for a very reasonable price. We have a load of players for the flanks. Imagine that even with all the injuries, you can still select 2 out of 6 potential players available for the flanks against ATM. Add the injured players and youth and you get access of wing-ers. No need to add another one on the payroll.

      We had (have) more important needs to purchase.

    3. Even if we had signed Willian, I think he would have had about the same minutes as Afellay in the end (had he not got injured), no?

    4. So, two matches? With his skill set shouldn’t any player of that type give our extremely attacking right flank a problem?

      His contract is up at the end of the year…and no one is linked with him. on top of that, Shakhtar don’t need tos ell. they never need to sell. they have money, and I don’t know if a renewal has been met yet. I didn’t read any reputable source that had him priced at available for 10-12m either (euro)?

  32. Twitter, via @barcastuff: Although they are allowed to, Barcelona won’t sign any player to replace Afellay, who’s out for 4 to 6 months with a knee injury. [cope]

  33. And re: Valencia, Keita, etc. It wasn’t Keita’s fault that Valencia kept getting jailbreaks up the Alves side of the pitch. Again, team goals. We concede goals in two ways: pacey counters and set pieces. If you let attackers run at your defense at speed, you’re almost certainly going to concede. The time to make the right decision is minimal. Look at Napoli by way of example.

    The kinds of runs that Valencia enjoyed were facilitated by clunky possession in midfield. It happens, and their pressure certainly didn’t help matters in that regard. And by the time the attack gets to Abidal, he’s thinking “Merde,” and sticking his legs out in the hopes that he can deflect something.

    Milan was the same. Pace and a set piece. Sociedad was bad possession in midfield, then a turnover leading to a jailbreak. It all starts with taking care of the ball.

    1. pr17 makes an argument based on the match review he posted as a link in his comment, which -no offense- makes no sense whatsoever.

      Besides, Keita plays because of his religion reminds me of the days when Busquets used to play because of his ethnicity.

    2. Speaking of set pieces, am I the only one worrying about Atleti’s Falcao? We haven’t been doing well vs. players strong in the air – the Colombian is going to test our back line if he gets any service.

    3. Him and Diego. The Brazilian is probably gonna be fit for this weekend’s game.

      El Atlético de Madrid terminó de preparar el partido contra el Barcelona con un entrenamiento en el Estadio Vicente Calderón, en el que se pudieron ver los primeros 15 minutos. Diego realizó trabajo específico junto a Oscar Pitillas.

      The dude’s their cerebro. Everything flows through him. Their passing game is on point this year. This Atleti is not pateti. They no joke.

    4. Alright. As much as we love KeitEEEE! We are going to have to face into the fact that he’s missing a little somethin’ somethin’ in most matches (I stress, ” most matches” because there are times when he fits the bill) He has an incredibly well defined and effective role at Barca… Wait until we need what he brings in the last 15-20 mins of a match and let him crush it.. But, c’mon, really? I’m not KeitEEE! negative, but I am also not deluding myself into thinking he can bring it week in, week out, game in, game out as a starter… It didn’t really make sense years ago when we had limited options, …but now? I’m willing to consider I’m missing something (other than the length of the injury list)… But this seems c’mon sense. We get 11 slots, KeitEEE, really? I love him for 10-20 in the right cagey affair, because he has an experience based savvy and disposition that is just plain hard to come by. He brings tough fresh legs, and a nose for conflict and pressure and the late deep run goal for 20 mins with a great understanding when things get dicey. That is Keita at Barca. OK, so he is playng well for Keita, but, without Busquets in the hole, we lose so much. When he isn’t there ,we are a different club, less controlled, less dominant, less disciplined… And Busi has similar or worse problems as a CB than Keita as a DM… This really seems a no brained of sorts. I get it,… thanks Keita for your service, and unwavering commitment and contribution, but ust get out of Busi’s (or even Mashe’s) way in the midfield. Go back and watch the CL final and find any rational way to justify moving Busi out of DM… He’s the best.

  34. I’d also point out that Valdes apparently still isn’t communicating with his defenders very well. He had that first Mathieu cross all the way. All he had to do was call Abidal off it, scoop it up and continue. Maybe he was screaming like crazy at Abidal to leave it, who knows? But I think it’s why he looks so exasperated after the first goal.

    I do, however, wonder how in the HELL that play in the box on Messi wasn’t a penalty.

    1. As Mourinho and Wenger will tell you, sometimes it’s better not to get penalties, to feel hard done by the refs. Let me present an analogy. I would never fight against a man who is otherwise handicapped by motives outside of his control or indeed injured. If I beat him it would shame me. If he beats me it would humiliate me. I propose therefore that Mourinho and recently Wenger secretly and deliberately portray themselves as victims handicapped by the hands of injustice in their crusade against Barca. If they beat us they would appear heroic and we mediocre; if we them, well then their excuses would be at hand and the media would call us UEFA’s lovechild. Thus it was last year. But if it were to happen to us, the referees mistakes, and we took it quite generously and in stride, it would embarrass and disarm them.
      Maybe I’m delving too much into this.

    2. No I hate to agree with this, but I do 2000% percent.

      It’s almost to the point where sometimes it seems us fans would rather draw, and get fucked over on a bad call, then to win.

  35. I also read the review,and euler mentioned that they play a unique style which the 3 4 3 nullify.

    Thats probably wont happen,but like to c sanchez in place of xavi and cavi in place of thiago

  36. I said ibi will be sold from a pragmatic view,not because its all doom and gloom.

    some r lol ing cause i mention he may be sold.i can give reasons

    not a starter


    still didnot adapted to our system

    cheap,can be sold at a
    profitable price

    his latest injury means his season is almost over.

    can anyone mention why he cant be sold?

    i absolutely like him for the assist though

    can any

    1. If I understand correctly, he couldn’t be profitably sold until he was healthy again in any case, which would be in the summer. If he’s healthy, then the only reason to sell him is that Barcelona believe he’s an injury waiting to happen or that he’ll never completely adapt to the system. He certainly can be sold if he wants to leave because he believes he won’t get playing time or if one of those two reasons are valid, but there is no conclusive proof that any of the above is true. I still believe he has a part in this team’s future. Whether that is true or not remains to be seen, but to believe he will be sold because of this injury seems like it’s jumping the gun.

  37. “The club has needs and the Qatar publicity helps. Qatar is clearly developing as a country and its foundation is trying to do good for everyone. I think it’s good for their image and also for ours.” – xavi

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