A Chance At History: Sporting vs Barcelona LiveBlog

Starting immediately!

Barca lineup: Valdés, Alves, Mascherano, Abidal, Adriano, Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Thiago, Pedro, Messi and Villa

On the bench: Pinto, Fontàs, Piqué, Puyol, Maxwell, Keita and Isaac Cuenca

By Kari

Just your neighbourhood Barca fanatic


  1. Even championship caliber teams have poor games, but winning those games is what makes them great. Our mental toughness us really coming out today. Many tens that are weaker (no names), may have folded under these circumstances….

    p.s I a writing this in the 84th min and we are one up, I hope they don’t prove me wrong!!!!

  2. I know most people wont like this game or the way we played, but these are the games that win leagues, not the manitas. We were off today and Sporting were playing at 110% but we still managed to scrape a win. 3 points at a tough away ground, one which we drew at last season.

    The only annoying thing is that it looks like we have picked up yet another injury. I really hope it isnt too bad because the last thing we need right now is another injured defender. Guess its a good time for an international break!

  3. Hard tough match like many predicted but we did it: 3 points! At the cost of an injury though..

    1. Zut alors! As the French would say. Le sigh.

      But it looks like Abi will only be out 7-10 days according to the club’s official Twitter! Plus, Iniesta’s coming back soon.

    2. Yep. Coming back sooner than expected, though he’s recovering in Chile now. Probably another week or two at most.

  4. El Molinon is always a difficult ground but honestly I expected us to do better against a team that has only 1 draw in 5 matches. At least we were awesome defensively finally!

  5. One thing I noticed (and commented on in the LiveBlog) is Pedro’s troubling loss of form. I thought he had a bad game today (he did) but what’s interesting is what he said after the game:

    Pedro: “It was not one of my best games. I have struggled to play in this new position and I lost many balls.”

    I wasn’t aware he was playing a new position. Does anyone know what “this new position” is?

    1. false 9. he was running way more than normal. i didnt notice it either (bad internet stream!) but the spanish commentators mentioned it.

    2. i should say, they said he was running “around” more — like being in more parts of the pitch.

    3. wasn’t really a false 9, since he wasn’t moving into the the box all that much. He definately started in the centre, although drifted a lot to the left wing in the second half.

      He wasn’t too good but i was actually pretty impressed with his ability to fit so seamlessly into his new position.

    4. I believe he was playing at the tip of the midfield diamond, in other words “The Cesc position” or a False 10…

    5. Till Abidal’s Sub .. We were almost playing a 3-3-4 with Adriano and Villa on the Wings, Pedro and Messi swapping positions in the middle, Pedro would drop back and try to move horizontally thorought the match, He struggled to know what his real position was.

  6. shots on goal, after 6 league games:

    barcelona 48
    opponents 10 (4 from real sociedad, the only team with more than 2)

    EE 50
    opponents 22

    i dunno, i just decided to look that up

  7. Not the best game to watch, props to Sporting though.

    MOTM was Mascherano by a landslide, IMO he’s up there with Alves and Pique as one of Pep’s finest signings.

    Xavi was as fabulous as ever, and his Bergkamp turn in the second half got me off my seat.

    Pedro was HORRIBLE. Placing him at the tip of the midfield diamond to interchange positions with Messi in the Cesc postion had a lot to do with it. Should never EVER be given a free roaming role, does not complement his qualities.

    Thiago, bloody brilliant defensively, was on fire for a while in the first half but cooled down in the second. His outside of the foot passes make me week in the knees.

    Messi was below his standards as he’s been for some time now, props to Sporting for absolutely suffocating him every time he got the ball though.

  8. Abidal has a contraction in the femoral biceps in his right leg. The estimated recovery time is 7 to 10 days.

    (Taken from official site)

  9. Sender : Other Teams’ Fans

    Message : Mascherano,Fabregas,Keita and Thiago should enjoy warming the bench.

    Date : Summer.

  10. Goal.com rated Alves “flop of the match” and gave him the lowest rating of anyone on the field:

    “A poor performance from the Brazilian. Dallied in possession far too much and was almost caught out near his own goal a couple of times. Also failed to get forward as much and did not make his usual darting runs down the right.”

    Seriously? Why do I even read this crap?

  11. I sort of was frustrated with Villa given no love from his teammates, especially Messi in the first half who refused to cut back a pass to a completely open Villa on the edge of the box and it would have most likely resulted to our second goal. I know Villa will get a low rating for this game, but despite again back to his old offside self, he continuously ran and ran always making himself available for long balls over the top, there were a few times our midfield(+messi) were guilty of hesitating to make those dink passes over the defence, Villa a couple of times was ghosting behind Botia and most definitively could of had a meal out of their defence, but our midfield would NOT make the pass. ARGGGHhh

    1. Actually he won’t, because someone ELSE is doing the review. But were I rating Villa, he wouldn’t get a low rating at all. Not his fault so many of his runs were ignored. The insufferable offside calls, however, WERE his fault. When he starts to press, the offsides begin. And he was pressing like crazy, to get that second goal that would ice the match.

    2. Villa was ignored last season too. It’s just the way it is especially now with Iniesta and Cesc gone.

  12. Hats off to Hee Hon. They played their asses off. But the same defensive depth that meant we weren’t going to drop a lot of goals on them also meant that they weren’t going to score. And that was that.

    A few observations from a very quick viewing before heading off to the Land of Nod:

    –The team wasn’t as off as many think. But that pitch was terrible. Cleats were digging in, balls were hopping and it was hard to properly estimate how much oomph to put on a pass. And don’t understimate the cumulative effect of the extra fouls, shoves and kicks that Hee Hon was delivering, and getting away with. That has been a trend this season, and one that I don’t like.

    –Watch this match again, next time someone considers lambasting Keita for too many back passes, and being loose with possession. This is the first match in a long time that Busquets had me screaming at the television. Stop doing that drag back, and just pass the ball. Forward, please.

    –Villa, after being ignored time and again, began to press. When he presses, the offside calls start to accumulate.

    –Messi was rather messy today.



    –Fabregas is a curse. We should sell him back, soonest. How many hamstring injuries did we have last year? Now how many do we have this year? What’s the variable? Exactly.

    –Was Maxwell a left back, or a pylon? It was hard to tell sometimes.

    This was a match in which our injuries hurt us. The very players with the pace and precision to break a defense such as Hee Hon threw out there, were crocked. Fabregas, with his touch and control in the box, would almost certainly have been able to notch a goal. That also would have allowed Guardiola to pull Pedro. But we were pretty much trapped, offensively, with the lineup that we had.

    Luckily, Hee Hon were more interested in not giving up a manita than really going for goal. So we’re top of table with EE behind us, and it’s back to business as usual in La Liga. The international break is, dare I say, well-timed. Players can heal, and get something of a rest. Well, Messi and Mascherano can’t, because it’s a WC qualifier. But Abidal, who was called up for France, certainly won’t be playing. Nor will Iniesta or Fabregas or Sanchez. All should be back after the break, it appears.

    1. I actually agree with EVRYTHING you said. Strange…lol(including the sarcastic dig at Cesc haha)
      Just to add, Messi was just as much offside as Villa that match.

      And Levante are the ones who are behind us, level on points but differ in goal difference. EE is in THIRD, by one point 😀

    1. Nope. No holidays right now in the States. But school has started up again and it always feels like the pace of life changes at this time of year, even if you are not in school.

      Plus, toss in a bad economy and job uncertainties and you have a bunch of distracted people. I know that’s why I have been distracted. Finishing up grad school and finding a job is a bit hectic.

      All this is probably not limited to just the USA. . .

    2. But it’s been really slow here for the past few days. I’ve been really busy for the past few days so I couldn’t really go online. Usually that would mean that I would have to read over 100 comments a day to catch up but now it’s just a few, which can be a good thing.
      But I don’t like the fact that that it seems that this good blog looks dead.

    3. I know that I’m too busy being a soccer mom rather than a soccer fan right now. Fall is soccer season for kids in the States. Sometimes life gets in the way of things.

    4. We have Fabregas now, nothing left to talk about 😉 A post on Hamstringitis might be a stimulating conversation. What is going on with their hamstrings?

  13. A few general thoughts on Barca thus far:
    Injuries 🙁 what’s going on? It sucks that these things happen esp. to key players. We haven’t seen barca’s “best 11” yet. I’m blaming it on the preseason. I don’t think we had proper preparations, and now we’re suffering. Last year, we had key players coming back from the WC, so their physical conditions were much better. Dear football gods, please no more injuries!!!
    I don’t like the tactical changes. I can see why we want to try 3-4-3 but our defense is not the most stable and frankly a 4-3-3 is more suited for Barca. I’m not convinced with this 3-4-3, esp. when we don’t have key players to test it. I know that players are still learning the system but right now, we need consistent performances.
    People have said that Messi looks tired. Hopefully, he’ll get back to his normal self soon.
    Thank goodness for the international break. Let’s hope no injuries and players feeling fresh again. After the break, I’m hoping to see excellent defense and offense in a 4-3-3 🙂

    1. I just posted above before reading your post – yes, what is going on?
      The preseason may be partially to blame, but I wonder if they are not under some kind of new training regiment or certain drills that are making the hamstring particularly susceptible. It almost seems statistically improbable that we would have as many as we have without an underlying root cause impacting that muscle. The usual causes or over extending or contracting the muscle when fatigued or muscle imbalances between the quad and hamstring. It could result from trying to get in shape too fast (given the limited preseason, although Iniesta participated in preseason), and then over-stretching in match play, or something.

    2. You will notice that the players who were involved in tournaments this summer—Messi, Masch, Dani, Adriano, Thiago—are all OK. It is the players whose fitness level dropped from not having a proper preseason who have been injured.

    3. The only outlier in that theory is Sanchez, as he played in the Copa America and still got injured later.

    4. I was going to say that Iniesta played most of the preseason (tour) but then I remembered that their training in the US was compromised by the heat, so might still hold. It would stand to reason then that fatiguing them trying to play fitness catch up, isn’t working and is actually counterproductive – if this is in fact what is happening. Either that or Jeffren left behind a case of hair gel in the locker room… or whatever other personal care products were under scrutiny in his injury timeline and cause/effect analysis that was going on by the physios

  14. International break is bad for Mascherano and Messi, expect them to play the full 90 mins of every game.

    on the other hand, I wasn’t at all frustrated with the way we played however, for long stretches of the game we maintained possession well, until the last 30 minutes we began to tire and our performance dropped, but thanks to our willingness to stick to our gameplan, our possession really stung Gijon even having a sniff at our goal, and when we started to get tired so were they.

    another game Alves was given a conservative role, Euler was right when he said that Alves has to adjust to a new role, defensively he provides a lot of pace and energy. I can’t really complain otherwise because Mascherano benefits with Alves in defence.

  15. Not every game can be a gala and a manita, so I take the 3 points after our adventure in the eastern shores. International Break could not be more convenient now, just hope that Leo and Smash will not get any injuries. Hope VdB gives Xavi and Busi a break as La Roja is already qualified. Try some of the new guys, and as much Madridistas as possible, please.

    Congrats to Bilba for the first win in La Liga and the return of Llorente.

  16. It’s a win! And it’s our first league away win at a difficult venue to boot! I’ll take the three points! They can’t all be hidings.
    It really wasn’t that bad. I saw some good stuff out there.

    Pedro pedroness needs to be utilized. What position was he trying to play?
    Busi needs some practice being a DM again.
    And our beloved flea needs some rest.

  17. Marca trophies were given out today. Messi won Best Player Trophy. My question is how does MouMou win best manager? How is he better than Pep? I being beaten 5-0 a great achievement nowadays?

  18. The Abidal injury is not that bad, because he will only miss the two Euro qualifiers for France (I actually wish Messi had gotten injured for 7-10 days, he could need the rest, plus the two matches against Chile and Venezuela in the South American WC Qualfier won’t be a walk in the park).

    More worrying is the Cesc injury, many people thought that he had so many hamstring injuries at Arsenal due to their training methods and not giving the players enough time to regenerate from previous injuries. But apparently, he is injury prone even with our medical staff and training methods. Even worse, he transmits his vulnerability to the other players (yes, I’m a believer of the Cesc curse!).

    1. Er… you can’t recover that quickly even if you switch to world class physicians. He has history of injuries, it’s not magically going to fix itself just because he’s at Barcelona.

  19. Heh, barcastuff just debunked the Szczesny rumour I wanted to ask about, funny how it’s their first non match or quiz related tweet in days.

  20. HeeHon is a top team although they are now at the bottom. (what?!)
    Extremely well played by them, if luck went their way, they could have pulled off an upset. But things never really got out of our hands last night.

    Still not 100%, or not even 90%, except maybe, Thiago, Mascherano or Adriano. Messi has gotten better, but like others noticed, his decision making was bad, but that has to do with the fact that he is not 100%. The track back showed Messi the fitness is coming back.

    Pedro’s new position is that he was not playing as a winger. Thiago’s new position is left wing. Alves’ new position is at center back. Pep played Thiago on the left to emulate what happens most of the time on the right. It’s working well because Thiago’s technical skills see him create chances after chances for Villa, Pedro and co. Very impressive performance. Very stylish. Drooling over a lot of Ronaldinho moments during the game….That outside of the foot thru ball to Villa was exquisite.

    Mascherano! is not a back up, not plan b, he is a serious first team CB for us. Calm, fast, dependable, improved his game reading ability by a Yaya since joining us. To pick a bone in an egg regarding his flaw would be, nutmeg easy sometimes. That he will have to deal with. But Mascherano! is giving serious competition to both Puyol and Pique, like Keita to Busquets. #littlesunshines.

    Adriano is business, a serious one. He is a great great signing. Ever since he joined us, he has been showing his ability to dribble and protecting the ball. His pace and work rate is almost like his compatriot Dani. Nice shot on target for his goal, well deserved. Did anyone notice his technical skills during one-on-one plays are even better than Alves?

    1. Adriano is much better one on one than Alves and is Pacier. He’s much better at wing position than Alves.

  21. No blitzen awards, I’m not in the mood. Just a few thoughts:

    Mascherano, Thiago, and Abidal (before he came off) all had excellent games. Villa too, but he suffered from lack of support from Messi & Pedro. Xavi is pretty much a god.
    Pique starting to lose his rustiness and look more like himself.
    Adriano scored! We are continuing our policy of having everyone but the GK score, and who knows, that might just happen this season as well! I really think they should let him or Masch take a PK some game when we are already comfortably ahead. Of course, then we would get called arrogant. 😈

    Messi was really off his game, wasn’t he? Offside much? And being a selfish shellfish to boot. Didn’t help that Pedro was struggling with his new position and couldn’t provide his usual magic on the wing.
    Abidal’s injury sucks big-time, but for once I am happy to go into the international break as we should have most of our players in good shape by the time it’s over. Cross your fingers and toesies.
    Maxwell is having trouble getting his rhythm back. Not that he was terrible, just a bit invisible. Can’t wait for the Copa to begin so he can get some regular starts.

    Lots of hard fouls, especially on poor Busquets, he draws them like flies. I was afraid his skinny stick-legs were going to snap at one point.
    And can everyone quit whining about the PK that wasn’t given? It would have been a pretty soft call if it had, as Messi didn’t fall straight down and the ref didn’t have the advantage of multiple camera angles like we did. He used his judgement and I’m OK with that.

    1. Oh, one more thing. Anyone who doubts that Keita has been decent at the DM position should check out his stats (Liga games only) at:


      Look at how many balls he has recovered! His passing, his clearances, his fouls. (Now compare how many fouls he has received compared to Busquets. Poor Busi! Maybe he should run faster?)

      Also, looking at the stats, Messi loses a ton of balls. I suppose that is a function of his position and making his dribbles, but it looks odd.

    2. LOVE!

      I’d suggest that Keita doesn’t dwell on the ball as Busquets does. He takes, and sends the ball on its merry way. Thanks for the Keita comment. As folks know, it hews to my worldview that Keita is an excellent Keita. He can’t be an excellent Busquets, just as Busquets can’t be a very good Keita.

      Don’t get me started on Messi, or I’ll vex even more people.

    3. Just like people want Cesc and Thiago to be the next Xavi instead of the first Cesc and Thiago.

      Messi needs rest. Messi won’t be allowed to rest. It’s not a great situation but it’s what we have to deal with right now. Hopefully he gets rotated out some when Alexis returns and during the early copa stages.

    4. I’d suggest that Keita doesn’t dwell on the ball as Busquets does. He takes, and sends the ball on its merry way

      Dunno… Keita holds the ball up too. Busi does more of the taking and sending than Keita does. He doesn’t need the extra time or touches on the ball Keita does.

      Keita has played well, but anyone who thinks the team and more specifically, the midfield, functions better with Keita at DM instead of Busi is kidding themselves. I don’t understand why people aren’t allowed to be critical of Keita at all. If Keita passes the ball sideways, he passes the ball sideways. It’s just calling it like it is.

    5. Oh, I don’t think there’s a sense that people aren’t allowed to criticize Keita. As you know, for me everyone’s up for grabs. But of late, Keita has been responsible for everything from leaked goals to bathtub ring and the trauma of athlete’s foot. It’s more the excessive criticism that I think many, including me, find necessary to say something about.

      Is Keita Busquets? No. An on-form Busquets is inarguably a better option than Keita, which doesm’t mean that Keita sucks when he’s in there. They have very different jobs.

    6. Its difficult to say, against Sporting Keita came on as a sub for one purpose and that was to hold the lead. Keita is really good at making life difficult for our opposition, but sometimes he may hinder our possession game, but is he to blame? we usually concede goals after the team drop a few gears and we become complacent. example (Arsenal last season, AC milan in the first and last 30seconds.)

    7. I said Keita was decent as DM, not that he was better than Busi at the position. He has been the butt of a lot of crap around here lately and I wanted to point out his strengths. Just calling it like it is.

    8. Keita at DM works only if there’s Xavi in midfield and a proper defense NOT consisting of Busi. JMO.
      Furthermore, stats dont tell half the story. When I’m actually watching the game I can see the difference with Keita at DM and Busi at DM. This is not to say I hate Keita or I want him to be a next Busi its just the difference in quality passing and fluidity in midfield. Again, this is JMO.

      Yeah and the Messi stat isnt surprising to me. Over the years, the forwards, especially those that love to dribble, lose the ball more than players in the mid or defense. Its pretty standard.

      And the PK, no one’s really whining. Are we not allowed to point out missed calls? It was a missed PK and it wouldnt have been “soft.” Is there anything in the rules that says thou shalt not give penalties that look too soft? De las Cuevas clipped Messi’s ankles, he tried to stay on his feet but the opportunity had passed to try to regain control of the ball. Penalty. He was denied a clear goal scoring opp. in the box. But I understand that he ref missed the call. Their jobs are hard, blah, blah..
      And I dont think people are complaining only because of this ONE mistake but because of a pattern thats developing. I guess people are just fustrated that Messi gets fouled in the box and rarely, if ever gets the call his way, no matter how dangerous the foul.

  22. pruna and cugat (doctores FCB) say that the afellay surgeria went bien, still a 6 month estimate for his return.

    they also said that iniesta was about to come off the disabled list: “está ya a punto de recibir el alta”


  23. I am sorry if this is off topic.
    Thanks kinukinu for the response on the ‘I am the 99%’ matter going across the US..
    A similar movement, though, not exactly like so in its ideology is weeping across my country too..
    While it is a movement against corruption, in the US, it is almost a movement against supposedly neo-fascist corporate power in the US..

    Both movements are flawed in some regions yes..in my country’s case, the movement’s face has become a sort of a caricature while in the case of the occupy Wall street movement, they are not taken seriously enough as there is no fixed solution they are demanding, they are just protesting without answers..
    However, in spite of their flaws, they are doing something that needs to be done..Governments, the world need to realize that people are being exploited, the working class that represents the major demographic of the population in almost every country in the world is being subjected to extreme hardships and something needs to be done about..In my country for instance, only a few days ago, the Planning commission stated that if a family earns Rs. 32 (just over 60 cents) a day then they are not consider as part of the ‘poverty’ which is absurd to begin with..

    What I do have a problem with is apparently educated, apparently leftist, apparently free thinking individuals who trash the movements purely because they believe that they can garner attention..They agree that the system needs a clean up (in some cases they are conceited or ignorant enough to believe the system doesn’t) but whenever there is a movement aimed at change, all they do is criticize it without suggesting any way the movement could correct itself
    Sure, they may have their right to their opinion but surely they cannot be blind enough to see that the system is getting clogged up everyday by the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer..
    its no cliche, this is actually happening..

    You don’t have to support Occupy Wall street, or the Lokpal bill or India against Corruption but don’t be a hipster douche and trash it just because you think its cool not to conform.

    Sorry for the rant..maybe this was not the space to express it but i needed to say it somewhere

  24. As far as chants go, Atleti fans have hit a new low. Making fun of Antonio Puerta? Disgusting..

    1. Dunno. I think that some thoughtless Arsenal fans chanting a wish that Adebayor had been shot in that guerrilla action takes my personal cake.

    2. Nah, that one doesn’t hold a candle to the time where some gooners started hissing at the Spurs’ supporters, who have a significant Jewish support..

    3. That was a common occurrence for Ajax in the 90s. Ajax had significant Jewish ties that their fans had fully embraced – going so far as to wave Israeli flags during their matches. It was a common occurrence for opposing fans to chant Nazi slogans and to hiss during the games.

      It’s terrible, but for some reason football games tends to bring out the worst in people.

    4. Some people are really retarded and they tend to hang out together in same corner of the stadium.

  25. Briefly: Hamstring injuries suck.

    –Once you injure one, the odds of re-injuring it through inadequate recovery and/or therapy are exceptionally high. Like, say, you’re the best player on your club and everyone depends on you.

    –Even if you do everything right, there will always be the possibility of re-injuring the hamstring in the same spot, which becomes an area of weakness.

    –Stretching, massage and intensive physical therapy (including weight training) is one way to lessen the possibility of the problem reoccurring.

    –Essentially, hamstring injuries happen when the contraction of the muscle “outruns” itself. That is, the force applied becomes too great for the muscle itself, which is why most hamstring injuries occur at about the same spot, in the middle of leg, where the contraction forces are greatest. There are three grades, from 1 (probably what Abidal suffered) to 3 (probably what Sanchez suffered, a complete tear).

    Note again that the way Sanchez was pulled backward while still running forward almost guaranteed that he would have a very high probability of injuring his hamstring. Leaning back, the hamstring wants to do one thing, that is rather different from what it does when running forward.

    –The athlete almost always wants to come back before he or she should. This tendency is called rushus fabregasus.

    –With a sufficiently long history of injury and re-injury, the spot on the hamstring becomes a point of perpetual weakness.

    –Some athletes are more prone to hamstring injuries, usually because their muscles are bulkier and/or tighter. I have hamstring issues. Always have, always will. It happens. If you look at the way Fabregas moves and runs, with a very erect posture, it isn’t that big of a shock that he has hamstring problems all the time.

    Some therapies have included “teaching” athletes a new way to run, that accounts for the weaknesses in the muscle. Sometimes shorter, choppier strides are the answer. But because we run like we run …

    Bottom line is, expect more hamstring injuries this season, probably from the folks who have had them before (Abidal, Iniesta, Fabregas).

    1. There are few feelings worse than helplessness. Nobody can prevent injuries. Just about all we can do is hope for the best.
      Still, quite a distressing situation, and it cannot help the players’ confidence. Could this be the reason for Messi’s loss of form in the last few games? Is he scared to get hurt?

    2. No, I just think that like any player, Messi (shudder!) human. A team will play its way into the season, to be sure, so the side will be a lot better in a month than it is right now.

    3. I sure hope so. It could be too that maybe Messi doesn’t like the 3-4-3 so much. I for my part think he’s better as the false 9 in the 4-3-3. Sure, he scores a ton of goals in the 3-4-3, but in the 4-3-3 he could be so devastating.

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