Barca/Sevilla thoughts, aka “No, this isn’t the review.”

L. Paredes/Sport

Euler is coming to the rescue with the review, which is a good thing, since he’s a lot better at it than me.

But what he isn’t better at than me is stirring up the villagers, like Frankenstein on the roof, dropping trou to moon the peasants. So let’s do this, in the form of (mostly) bullet point-y type stuff.

Does anyone still think Messi is on form?

If yes, go stand in the corner. Let’s state this for the record: Messi is the greatest player on the planet right now. Even off song, he has a pigpile of goals and assists already. He’s also a player who is having significant complexities right now, and that is damaging his team.

Who doesn’t remember fondly when Messi was Leo the Lion, who wanted every ball that came close to him, moving constantly, reading the game like a dog-eared favorite childhood book that he’d memorized 10 times over. Compare that to the player who doesn’t seem to quite know the right spot to be, where to put the ball. That little extra shimmy and step is consumed by fatigue, so he is playable, stoppable by a physical, disciplined Sevilla side who rolled into our house thinking “Point. Let’s get a point.” A walking, trotting, aimless Messi directly contributed to that well-earned point.

Guardiola will have to summon whatever courage he has, and sit Messi. Otherwise, it will only get worse and eventually lead to an injury from overused muscles. Yes, 80% of Messi is better than most players alive. But not 50%. Sharp players don’t play the way that Messi does. I know that he wants to play all the time, but it can’t happen. Not any more. The evidence is too clear.

Is the Argentina NT stuff wearing him down? You bet. If his NT were playing better, I rather imagine there would be more spring in his step. But today, when they showed Messi face on, he looked terrible. And I mean physically. Tired, thousand-yard stare, like a guy who, if he were at work in the real world, his boss would ask him, “When was your last vacation?” Then he would suggest that he take one. And not tomorrow.

Let’s not wet ourselves over Javi Varas

If you hit the damn ball right at the keeper, it’s pretty easy for him to look brilliant. Yes, he evinced some good reflexes, but except for the horrific Messi penalty kick, he didn’t really have to move much to make his saves. We helped a lot by basically doing what Sevilla probably does in practice, which is hitting the ball at the keeper to keep his reflexes sharp. Is he Sevilla’s Man of the Match? Absolutely. And probably overall MOTM. But keepers have had better matches against us.

Keita and Busquets are different

Keita was brilliant today. So was Busquets when he came on. I’m happy that we have both on our side, but it isn’t an either/or, it’s a both. Keita is the physical facilitator who was everywhere today, truly from box to box. Busquets is the offensive addition. But I do think that both substitutions were in error. I wouldn’t have brought Pedro on. He’s been crap all year, and we lost something. If Keita is in the box raising hell, maybe some of those scrambles have a different outcome. Busquets for Xavi brought energy, but robbed us of the killer ball.

I’m sure that people will blame Keita for the result today, rather than listless, stationary attackers, when all the man did was go out and play his butt off. But he’s as unfashionable as Messi is fashionable. The other argument for Keita today was Thiago, who serves as the bridge for both he and Xavi, making the Busquets inclusion less of a necessity. That said, the Busquets substitution was too late, and shouldn’t have been for Xavi.

We stayed up too late reading Plzen a bedtime story

By not putting them to bed early as we should have, it cost energy that we needed today. It’s energy that resulted in everything being just a little off …. not enough to really notice. We still looked like us, but just enough so those amazing balls to the likes of Iniesta and Villa were overhit just a smidge, and the player’s legs were just a little bit heavier, the result being a near-miss, rather than a goal. The real way to beat the kind of defense that Sevilla was playing today was movement and one-touch football. That requires so much energy. So instead, we would get so many instances with Villa or Messi standing there, surrounded by a pigpile of Sevilla defenders, because people weren’t moving.

And by the by, the whole team is off song

We’ve been fooled by hammering some lesser clubs, but we can’t be fooled any longer: This club is having a bit of a spell. Yes, Sevilla came out and played the precise match that they needed to in order to get a point from this one. But if we are on form, we win 3 or 4-0. Easy. We were tired and off, they were fresh and on. It happens. What concerns me more is that there are no windows, no ways for the club to get that freshness, that sharpness back. It will just have to play through this patch.

One way is by finding new ways to freshen the stew, such as Adriano, who was almost a real difference-maker today. Mascherano is another. When Sanchez comes back, that effect should be immense. Speaking of ….

Boy, did we need our crocked Chilean today

Villa, Pedro and Iniesta were all faced off against ex-homie Martin Caceres, and all came up short. Caceres is too strong, big, quick and physical. So the very deficiencies that made him not cut out to play our system, make him perfectly suited to own the folks we put up against him. Ain’t that just about a bitch? Caceres had one heck of a match today, but a player who can run right past him would have created a great many problems. Villa is a brilliant striker, but he can’t beat my mama 1-v-1. Pedro is just off, and relies on being in the right place at the right time, rather than a skill set that would let him take on Caceres. And Iniesta is, and will always be, ill-used on the left wing, even if he had more success against Caceres than anyone else. Sanchez, or even Afellay, would have been perfect. Size, quickness and guile would have come in handy. As it was, it left us with only 2/3rds of the pitch. Adriano had fleeting success, it must also be noted. Why? Pace.

Speaking of Messi, he shouldn’t have taken the PK

Yes, you go down with your best. And had Varas stopped Villa or Fabregas, it would have been “Why didn’t Messi take the PK?” Those are the choices that a coach has to live with. Here’s a story: One of my bicycles was creaking like crazy. My genius of a mechanic and I just couldn’t figure it out. He disassembled, reassembled, lubed, Teflon taped and still …. the creak. A lesser mechanic put it in his workstand and said, “Hey, the chainring bolts are loose, and one is missing.” Creak gone. Problem solved. The moral? That sometimes, you need someone with less, to do more. Messi is smart, talented and a footballing genius. So like my mechanic who did everything except check the obvious, with too many things to choose from, you don’t get the right kind of stupid.

A striker, like Villa, doesn’t think. Blam! Goal. Done. Hard and low, or hard and high are pretty much a striker’s PK options. Then direction, as in left or right. Done. Fabregas? Same thing. Blam! I ain’t got time to think about that crap. It doesn’t even occur to me. Blam! Or how about Iniesta?

But as it was, Messi tried to outthink a quick, on-form keeper, which just wasn’t going to work. There are very few keepers in La Liga who wouldn’t have stopped that shot. Yes, your best player should take your PKs. But what about when your best player is far from your best player on that day? What then? Good question.

Mascherano? Yes, Mascherano

Another day, another match in which Mascherano was our best defender. How you gonna keep him down on the farm? He needs to be in the regular starting XI. What he does is just too awesome not to have. He has pace, physicality and an unerring sense of where to be. Does his short stature mean set piece problems? Yep. So don’t give up set pieces. He had a monster of a match today, that was fully Puyol-like. The midfield is crowded and the back line is crowded, so I don’t envy Guardiola that selection headache. But Mascherano has to play for this side. He owns everything in front and around him too often for it not to be so, and he did it on both sides of the pitch today.

Can we break a bus?

Yes. I know that some have said that this team has the same problems that it’s always had against parked buses, but I don’t agree. I think this team is light years better at breaking them, but it has to be on song. Look at the near-misses today, any of which with a club that didn’t play a looooong match (thankfully at home, away, and we might have lost today) on Wednesday would have been goals. The movement, the passing options, the dizzying high-wire act that works so well for us, was just a bit off today, so no goals. But the chances galore that went begging very capably demonstrate that we can break the hell out of a bus. Recall the time when we didn’t even get shots on goal against parked buses. And now look. It takes a keeper who has probably been presented for Sainthood by now, such is the effusion. But change one angle of a shot just a little bit, and he’s another close but no cigar losing keeper, and we’re still top of table.

Oh, yeah …. some ratings:

Team: 6. Some good, some clunk, some overthinking and not enough movement on or off the ball, making it easy for Sevilla to do what it did. This should have been a win today, which is easy to say from the fever-addled cheap seats.

Guardiola: 6. He got the starting XI right, but the subs wrong. Pedro shouldn’t have seen the pitch in this match, and Busquets should have a lot earlier. Same for Fabregas.

Valdes: 8. And would have gotten higher had he had more work. Unlike Varas, who had balls hit right at him, Valdes actually had to work for his brilliance, particularly when Abidal tried to give me a heart attack, on top of the flu.

Alves: 5. Off-song, and takes too many touches. The fluid, fluent, dynamic Alves needs to come back. The ball that he took in the box is a prime example. The moment was there to one-time it. Instead he tries to control it in the face of a charging keeper. That isn’t going to end well. Defensively, he is (increasingly) getting caught pinched in toward the center, requiring the likes of Abidal or Mascherano to bail him out.

Mascherano: 9. He was an absolute monster today from sideline to sideline, with key interventions and tackles. Not much to say aside from my effusion above.

Abidal: 7. He’s getting better and better, once he stopped trying to kill me with too-soft chest passes. His pace allows him to contribute to the attack and still get back in defense. Alves has to rein in his roam, by contrast, in the face of a more active attacking opponent. He’s so calm on the ball, and is more and more, making the exact right pass from the back.

Adriano: 7. Very good match today on both ends of the pitch, but particularly as the destabilizing attacking fullback. When the match started, his presence on the right was tactical brilliance from Guardiola, as it let him be Alves while Alves was …. well …. Alves. I understand why the switch to the left was made, but don’t agree with it, even as Adriano did pretty much the same thing on the left, which was cool.

Keita: 8. I might have to change his nickname from “Huh? What?” to The Facilitator, because that’s what he does. His presence, physicality and in-the-wayness doesn’t work against every club that we face, but it worked perfectly against Sevilla today. Time and again, when something happened, there he was with a foot in the way, a tackle or interception.

Thiago: 7. Interesting how Ray Ray and Schoen kept suggesting that he was having an off match, because of their offensive expectations. But if you think of Thiago as the Busquets to Keita’s Keita, he was having a delight of a match. He’s so aggressive and pacey on the defensive end that teams have to really watch the back door when he’s out there, or he will blaze in and kill an attack. And he’s so fast to loose balls. But man, is he still too casual with possession and risky passes.

Xavi: 7. Lovely and inevitable, the only thing he lacked today was willing targets. He had to drop a bit deeper at times today, resulting in more work. It’s also a tactic that Thiago, as the bridge-maker, facilitates. Sometimes the best pass is the pass that you don’t make. Xavi demonstrated that today, instinctively feeling the Sevilla pressing and lane-closing and being more circumspect with the ball.

Iniesta: 9. He’s my Man of the Match today, attacking, passing, shooting, beating off the dribble, earning what should have been a penalty (“All ball,” my ass!) and tracking back on defense. He was an absolute wonder, and the value of the energizing effect of an injury, though you never wish such things on a player. But sometimes, forced rest still works.

Villa: 4. Move, dammit! Too stationary, and overmatched physically against Caceres. Moving him more toward the center just stuck him among the tall trees, where he had about the same effect. Yes, he had some chances, and really should have put the one away, but his right at the keeper tendencies continue apace.

Messi: 3. There were moments where he turned it on, and animated the attack. But he spent too much of the match not being at all effective, with misplaced passes, being in the wrong spot at the wrong time and not fighting as he usually does. I know it’s conserving energy for that late charge, but as noted above, below a certain percentage of quality and overall effort, Messi just isn’t as effective. He was way, way off today.


Pedro (for Keita): 2. Worthless in his return to headless chicken mode. On form, Pedro never seems like he’s chasing the match. Off form, he’s like that kid in a football game who is always chasing the guy with the ball, running hither and yon. Lots of effort, precious little effectiveness.

Fabregas (for Thiago): 3. Didn’t do much, aside from taking a right stout thwack from Kanoute.

Busquets (for Xavi): incomplete. Not enough time to get a rating, but boy, what an effect he had on the proceedings. His energy and presence were just what the midfield needed.

Programming note

Party Boy, aka Joan Laporta, will be on GolTV’s “A Solas” show, which airs Thursday at 7 p.m. Central Time (do your own math. You know I don’t do math.) Could be interesting, if they ask him the right questions. Finally ….

L’Affaire Fabregas

When the preternaturally calm Kanoute took a poke at Fabregas, the post-match nattering started. “What made Kanoute go nuts like that? Must have been something that Fabregas said. Was it racial?” And the elephant in the room again became a barrier, as initial reports were that Fabregas called Kanoute a “terrorist.” That must have been it, right? And the buzzing began. But Fabregas’ girlfriend is Lebanese. Hmmmm …. And Kanoute is from Mali and is Muslim, which must make him a terrorist, right? And so it went.

In fact, Fabregas called him out in no uncertain terms, for kicking the ball away from the spot as Messi prepared to take the PK. Simple as that. But in a hot, aggrieved situation in which Sevilla felt as if they had worked so hard for so long, to be thwarted by a dubious (to them) call, emotions were white-hot. Kanote snapped.

Note also that the player didn’t make these allegations, unlike the most recent “He said, he said” episode in which Patrice Evra has accused Luis Suarez of dropping the N-bomb on him not once, but ten times. No, this was just the rumor, nonsense kind of crap that was all facilitated by the elephant in the room, racism.

Until football confronts this beast in a significant, meaningful way that goes beyond bullshit two-tone “Respect” patches on player sleeves, it is going to be a problem. You can’t change the way that people are. Sometimes, life and exposure to people are are different can. But the game can, in a truly serious effort, remove them from the game either physically, or with penalties that make such behavior unthinkable. Monkey chants? Ejections. If it continues, empty the stadium. Maybe then bystanders won’t be so quiet. If a player is proved or heard to have done it, suspend him for the remainder of the season. Period. If a player makes an unfounded allegation, bye-bye. Zero tolerance. It can be done. The game’s governing bodies just have to get serious about this problem.

As it stands, it’s all lip service, and when a black player such as Kanoute snaps on a white player such as Fabregas, the first answer that will come to too many lips will always be that something horrible must have been said, and that “something” is invariably racist, right? And it’s all because the game is, from a human rights perspective, broken. Until the people who run it are serious about fixing it, this crap will continue.

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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. bhed
    October 22, 2011

    Agree with the ratings, but would take a couple of points away from Adriano. He’s generally been great this season, but gave away too many balls on bad passes today.

    • Jnice
      October 23, 2011

      He made a couple of good runs in the first half and I thought we could’ve used him more on the overlap, but apart from that I thought he was atrocious. In the second half he looked tired and gave away the ball far too much. One of those giveaways almost lost us the game, too.

  2. October 22, 2011

    I’ll save my full thoughts for the review but yeah, Iniesta and Mascherano were the two best players for us by some distance.

    I knew it before I saw it, but Pedro, or should I say Pedrito, was stinkin’ up the place. He’s been in this funk for a while, but it’s getting really bad. We could have honestly used even a semi on form Pedro. I don’t blame Pep for the sub, as how was he supposed to know that Pedro would be useless? His skill set was perfect for Sevilla.

    I miss Alexis. 🙁

    My two cents on the Kanoute/Cesc thingy: 13 year olds need to get off the computer and do their homework. Spreading stupid crap on tumblr or whatever is so uncool.

    Also, it didn’t really matter who decided to take the penalty before, what Kanoute did was an age old trick. I’ve seen that crap done a million times. The more delay for someone to take the penalty, the more they have to think — it’s not instinctual anymore.

    Had Villa been the one to line up, it probably wouldn’t have been any different as he would have been second guessing himself as much as Messi. You could see Leo trying to keep his concentration during the hubbub, but… Personally, I don’t blame him. (It was a pretty crappy penalty tho. He always waits for the keeper to make a move, but his concentration was already rattled. In the end, he just hit it to the right like he always does…)

    But I won’t disagree that he wasn’t bad today. I was disappointed by his workrate, or lack thereof. There was this one moment in the second half where someone (Alves?) lost the ball near the halfway line and he just stared at it. Hombre needs a break, fo’ sho’.

    I do think we’ve been spoiled by him quite a bit though. It’s not blasphemy to criticize him (or Pep), and pointing it out isn’t necessarily a criticism (just saying it as it is), but I do think that we should remember that they are, well, human too. Contrary to popular belief, they aren’t aliens. They shouldn’t get a free pass, but they should get some — I dunno — sympathy? Understanding?, too I guess. So people can appreciate them more when they are on form; consistency is hard to maintain and easy to take for granted.

    But hot damn! That was some great defending by Sevilla (exacerbated by our pretty bad movement off the ball, particularly in and around the box, and some awful passing). It was The Great Wall of Seville times two. We just couldn’t find a way through (but if we had Alexis… 😥 ) Hats off to them! Marcelino definitely did his homework and forced Pep to make changes early (notice Adriano move back to the leftback position late in the first half).

    Anyway, onwards to Granada.

    • Jim
      October 23, 2011

      I’ve heard a few people lament the absence of Sanchez, Kari, and I can’t really understand it for this game in particular although in general terms I think he has loads to offer us. I see him mainly as helping speed up our defence into attack. However, against ten men packing the area I’m not sure where he finds the space either.

      To be fair in the last twenty minutes there would have been no harm in him on a wing just attacking the defender and hoping for a result but don’t think it was a game made for him.

  3. Jnice
    October 23, 2011

    I thought Busquets was marvelous against Pizen and to be clear, calling for Busquets to play is not a criticism of Keita. It’s just that we know that Busquets has the ability to help the offense tremendously. Watch the last match and count the number of incisive passes he gave to players near the edge of the box. Watch how quickly he gave Xavi or Iniesta the ball to start the attack.

    That isn’t Keita’s game. And at DM, Keita isn’t able to do his box crashing thing, so he doesn’t really help the team offensively.

    I thought Alves was very poor in the first half and sorry, but Adriano and Pedro looked so lost it made me nervous every time they touched the ball. How many times did their passes to the inside get intercepted? BTW, that dangerous break Sevilla had in the 2nd came as a result of Adriano giving away a simple pass.

    As for the Messi penalty, I already stated what I thought of the penalty and Messi’s penalties in general, but Messi not taking the penalty isn’t even a question. He’s the regular penalty taker, period. It wouldn’t even have been reasonable for Pep or someone to tell the regular penalty taker that he isn’t going to take the penalty today (especially when the game is on the line).

    • October 23, 2011

      ^ Basically this re: Busi/Keita. Only adding that Busi hasn’t had a rest in a very long time, but still. This wasn’t Keita’s game, and I would have said that even if we won.

      One thing that really irritated me was when Villa was moved centrally, which meant Iniesta was moved to left wing (this was changed when Pedro came on, but that really didn’t do much if you know what I mean). Por que? Sevilla was already playing narrow; this just made our play go through the crowded center even more, which played into Sevilla’s hands. We needed width and incisiveness (we got the former in Alves and Adriano, but precious little of the latter, bar two great cutbacks from Adriano*). Pedro was supposed to provide both, but we got…nada. Except for him giving the ball away cheaply which, to be fair, was symptomatic of the whole team really.

      *Another thing I hate is when Alves gets near the box and then doesn’t know what to do. It really annoys me. It’s like he’s got tentativeinthebox-itits. Geh! Or when he constantly cuts back, which Sevilla knew and were playing for, instead of taking on the defender or going to the byline. You can do it Dani! Learn from Adriano and take on your man!

      In the end, as much as I have to tip my hat off to Sevilla, we made it much too easy for them.

      I know I’ve said this way to often, but we really, really miss Alexis (and Afellay.) Can’t wait till he comes back. With Pedro not doing so well, I’d even give Cuenca a shot before him right now, though I know Pep wouldn’t do that.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      October 23, 2011

      ^everything that you said. especially this :
      to be clear, calling for Busquets to play is not a criticism of Keita. It’s just that we know that Busquets has the ability to help the offense tremendously.

      calling for Busquets is NOT the same with blaming Keiteeee for this ‘loss’. it’s a fact that Busquets as our best DM can offer more offensively than Keiteee or Mascherano, and this is not a criticism for Keiteee.

      • October 23, 2011

        But as noted above, you can play Keita when you play Thiago, who is the grease that makes the lives of Keita and Xavi easier. Then Keita can break up a pass in the box and slide a pass to Thiago, who feeds Xavi and off we go.

        Independent of Thiago, Busquets is our go-to DM option, not that Keita is really a DM. I just think it’s hard to appreciate Keita’s game, because he does so much that doesn’t really result in much except the other side not getting past him all that often.

        I also don’t think that Busquets does as well against physical, aggressive midfield attacks such as the one Sevilla played today. By the time Busquets came on, Sevilla were thinking about preserving the point, and being less aggressive, so his “That big man hit me and made me fall down” tendencies aren’t as big of an issue.

        • mega_tajh
          October 23, 2011

          I for one notice Keita contributions when playing as DM. Similar to a bee, Keita is always there in the opponents ears running left to right of the entire field. This game however didn’t call for that type of DM. Sevilla rarely attacked us only on a rare counter from a misplaced pass. The Xavi-Busi-Thaigo would’ve been sufficed since Busi isn’t that bad at breaking up counters also(especially with his smooth touches)

    • October 23, 2011

      I think it’s why a team should establish a rotation. Recall that back in the day, you’d see Henry, Eto’o or Messi taking penalties. Flexibility should come not only in attack, but in penalty taking, since keepers know tendencies of certain players. BANGS (Big Asshole Nonsensical Grouchy Swede) is another example. He would have tried to put the ball through the back of the net.

      I’ve never been a believer in a designated PK taker. Some keepers need hard and fast, some need guile.

      • jordi™
        October 23, 2011

        Henry? Sure about that? because I cant recall him ever taking one for us.

        Also, from my perspective I never thought rotation really made that much of a difference since Samu still missed a few (probably as many as he converted in that year)and Leo also had 1 miss that season.Come to think of it I actually hated when Samu would take them with all power and not enough placement. For me it has to be enough of a mixture so that if the keeper guesses correctly, its still not able to be saved because it was too high, to strong or just out of reach.

        If it means anything, Cesc has had some saved in the last year, and so has Villa for Spain so there is never a guarantee, although I’ve never seen Xavi miss (sample might be small admittedly :))

        • ooga aga
          October 23, 2011

          it alternated between samu and messi

  4. BarcaGirl_Indo
    October 23, 2011

    What concerns me more is that there are no windows, no ways for the club to get that freshness, that sharpness back. It will just have to play through this patch.

    unfortunately, I’m afraid so..
    especially Messi.. his NT coach definitely won’t rest him.. unless Pep give him a rest, it’ll only get worse for Messi, he won’t have any rest until Christmas.. *shudder*

    dear Alexis, come back, please!

  5. nia
    October 23, 2011

    For all that its worth, Sevilla played well but, Barca helped them out a bit. Very stagnant attackers and the offsides were just infuriating. MVP should be benched if they are going to play like this next time. Barca actually broke the bus but the finishing is what made Varas the next ‘saint’ and as for our ‘Messiah’, the guy is tired. When he lost the ball he didn’t make the effort to get it back, i guess the Argentina squad could be affecting his confidence.

    As we got a taste of the 3-4-3 earlier this season, i think it should be used as a plan b coz it seems to be tiring the players sooner and besides i think the team plays better with the 4-3-3 formation.

  6. October 23, 2011

    Tough draw, guys. Can’t say i wasn’t happy about it, for obvious reasons, but i remember how i felt after Levante game. Again, tough draw.

    I would argue that Pedro was not a wrong sub on paper. Actually, on paper, it was the right move to make. And i think that in particular is what blew the game away for Barcelona. Pedro came in as this game changer and had a complete stinker IMO. Had he performed average, the result wouldn’t have been a draw.

    What was also very surprising to me is the way Barcelona started the game. Adriano was playing a winger at the start and then he reverted back to left back. So in a tactical formation kind of way, you started with a 3-4-3 and then reverted to 4-3-3 after a 15 to 20(?) minutes. With Negredo out and Sevilla’s main threat coming from Navas, who attacks that right side, don’t you think that the decision to start the first half in a 3-4-3 formation was just abysmal. And i guess thats why Adriano was given instructions to revert back to left back. With that said, going into a game with a plan to play 3-4-3 and then suddenly reverting back to 4-3-3, i think it throws the team off a bit.

    I was discussing with Ramzi on twitter the last sub, which brought Busi in for Xavi. While i get that it was more of a get in there tall player and maybe try and get a header, i felt it was also a suspicious decision. Ramzi then went on to explain that bringing on Cuenca, which i wondered why Pep didn’t do, was also not the best of decisions because Cuenca is just not experienced and wouldn’t handle the pressure at that stage. This brings me to the question of: Why call up Cuenca if the coach will feel that he can’t rely on him even in the last 5 minutes of the game? I would feel a Busi in for Xavi is more of a step backwards than a step forward to scoring a goal. I know they have been piss poor for Barca B, but wouldn’t players like Kiko or Rodri been a better choice to bring along to the game? I felt with Sevilla sitting deep, you just needed more bodies in (Zlatan anyone?) and maybe stretching them even more to open up space for Messi in the middle.

    Finally as for the Cesc/Kanoute rumors. This is really getting sick and tiring, no? It isn’t something thats only found in spain, as the suarez evra claims fall under the same umbrella. And all fans do it. I really don’t understand the whole “Player X is calm, i just know he wouldn’t react badly unless something bad was said”. Kanoute is usually calm, so Cesc must have insulted him. Ozil is calm, so obviously Villa insulted Islam. Kieta is calm, so obviously Arbeloa is an SOB. All this happens before the final whistle is even blown as well. Something has to be done, but I’m not really sure what exactly. For one thing, Journalism needs to really be put under more scrutiny from government officials IMO. If a specific entity (again, I’m not sure who came up with these claims) came up with these claims, shouldn’t Barcelona file a lawsuit against them? They did file a lawsuit against the radio that came up with the drugs scandal. Surely this is a much more serious manner, no?

    Anyways, again, tough luck. Luckily for you guys, you play Granada next, which means goals galore.

    • October 23, 2011

      And btw, how fast did VV run to get to that Kanoute Cesc incident? That must have been a record or something. Kid loves his brawls doesn’t he?

      • Artur
        October 23, 2011

        Adriano was always there at RB when Sevilla attacked that flank at the start of the match.. Him and alves work very well together to split defensive and offensive opportunities. And judging by the oppotunities created on the offensive side I don’t know what you’re talking about when you say “it threw the team off” we must have had a shot on goal every 3 minutes…
        Bringing on an experienced off-form player vs a young player is a coach’s preference. While you may criticise him for something you may consider a “abyssmall” decision, keep in mind the sheer number of youth players that have been raised under Pep. I believe in 3 years Pep gave something rediculous like 18 different youth players a chance while a lot of them got promoted. You can feel free to criticize the formation Pep used for 15-20 mins and blame the loss for that, but thinking that you know Barca’s players better than Pep does is a huge assumption.
        Yes, VV is always there for his teammates. So is majority of Barca players when a teammate is attacked (READ: attacked) something that comes instinctively to a group of individuals when they have played and known each other their entire lives…. A feeling that a Madrid fan would probably not know what is like. No offense of course but I see how you fail to understand the emotional attachments between teammates here and might consider VV running to Cesc instead of watching him get beat up.

    • October 23, 2011

      Not what I had in mind when I thought about a troll invasion..

      • October 24, 2011

        Yeah…Bassam puts a cule to shame. Kiko or Rodri? WTF I’m not going to know those names for another few years.

  7. nia
    October 23, 2011

    I need to cheer myself so I say the next time Pique is fit enough to play, someone needs to give him a knock on the head and draw some blood. He seems to give the team good luck when that happens coz the statistics don’t lie.

    treble season: got a knock v Racing–blead some, won trophies.

    WC-la liga season: blead a lot, i lost count, must have had a few transfusions between matches and was just anemic in South Africa.

    Double season: i’m sure he blead, oh yeh vs Hercules and we never looked back even became ‘team manita’.

    God forbid this works for EE coz CR and Kedhira already gave to their ‘gods’as rumours around the web have been saying who ever bleeds, win the cups, EEEEEEEE!!!!!!


  8. October 23, 2011

    I start with confirming Bassam’s points. Just one remark regarding Cuenca: Pep took him to give him time in the last slice of the game if the game is already in the safe, not to take the responsibility of holding the team. So I dont think bringing him to the bench is wrong as long as he is not a game changer yet. Remember Barcelona seal the deal before the last 10 minutes of the games more often than they dont, so he will have more chance to play and collect experience cookies than the club will need him as a savior. Add that to the fact that he is the best young player at the moment for offense – Kiko is also good, but yet to find his steps right in the system of play, Rodri same as Kiko when it come to adaptation but barely half as talented.

    I still believe Messi was not as bad as people trying to make it sound. We are just too used to a Messi who single handed decide the games. No player can do that game in game out. For the way the game went he was one of the good -though not the best- players on the field.

    The game result was more to Sevilla’s credit than Barcelona’s failure. We at Barcelona hardly recognize that. They played a Kazan-ic defensive system where they evacuated the opposite flank when Barcelona attacked one wing and saturated all the cover in the center and the attacked wing to an extend. When Barcelona attacked the center, Sevilla evacuated both flanks and cemented the defense in the area. They were extremely disciplined that even in the last 10 minutes where you expect them to get a bit more sloppy, they still kept their focus. The fact that none of the players we subbed in fits the bill to unlock such games didnt help either.

    And I am yet to see how we are better dealing with such disciplined tactics. Pep still has a long way to go on that path.

    I usually say the absent player is always the man of the match when the match doesnt go your way. And for this one, it feels that Sanchez would have helped a lot. Lets hope he’ll be back soon and prove his worth. After all, he was the only forward I welcomed – without being a proper nine.

    Generally speaking, it wasnt a bad game, I enjoyed it more than some of the games Barcelona won with ease. I just wish if that was the level of the Liga game in game out.

  9. Judas Pissed
    October 23, 2011

    We are just going through our ‘Arsenal’ phase – where we think the ball has to be walked into the net. We were doing it against Plzen & I was getting infuriated – just shoot dammit!

    Also, will Valencia & Sevilla show the same level of effort against EE that they show against us, or will it be the 6 goal walkovers for EE like last season..?

    • October 23, 2011

      Since your last line is a “Real Madrid” question, i will chime in.

      I don’t think teams like Malaga, Valencia and Sevilla “don’t” show up against Real Madrid. This is like me saying: why did Racing not show up against Barcelona and yet play the game of their lives against Real Madrid.

      It all depends on your team, really. Real Madrid and Barcelona are a 100 million euros better than the next best club in the league. In other words, we are 3 and a half times better than the next strongest team. (That is not taking into account the accumulation).

      If a team is that much better, then why do they still drop points? Well, Real Madrid have made it a hobby of dropping points against teams like Levante, Racing, Sporting and Zaragoza. These are all clubs that are in the 10 times or more worse than Real Madrid. What happens when we face them isn’t really just a case of them showing up and playing the game of their lives (which even if they did, they are still far far away from RM or Barcelona), but rather RM getting complacent. We tied against Racing because we lost focus.

      To our (read RM) credit, we give a 110 against the likes of Valencia and Sevilla, that even if they show up, we still have enough to go through.The same way that Barcelona should have won the game even though Sevilla played very well. A missed penalty and shooting straight at the keeper is just a form of losing focus. And here is where fair TV right distribution comes into play. Go back 10 years and the strikers were much deadlier than now. They didn’t score more, but they really needed just one chance to score one.

      As Ramzi mentions above, as much as it is nice to rave about winning 6-0 and Messi and Ronaldo breaking scoring records, it’s time for this league to revert to the way it was before. We really have reached a point were 38 games are boiled to just two, and this is why they are such intensive two games. It was ok to rest players before a CL game, because you knew someone was going to drop points eventually. These days, every point counts. And if you don’t win with 9, then you are in a crisis son.

  10. y2k156
    October 23, 2011

    I had decided quite some time back about how i will not write anything about Kevin and his views of Messi but sometimes one does feel the need to express. I have read his reviews for last four years and he simply does not like Messi. And he loves French players. Its quite ok to be honest as i do like some players and do not like some other. Just that i will not try to put a coat of objectiveness into what i say.

    Coming back to the match, Sevilla always had more then 8 players defending their box. We never have height so this is a known problem. Breaking the bus is extremely difficult thing to do. See EE match against Levante where they were thwarted by so called bunch of players who were not even as talented as Sevilla. So before i call on any Barca players, i will say that it was Sevilla who did a great job defensively. They were dirty, but not too much. We still had chances, Villa’s one, Iniesta’s ones and Messi penalty that could potentially have got us winner any other day but it was not to be today. I thought their keeper and defense had immense games.

    Coming back to out team, Keita was not good for the match. Sevilla were sitting too back. He played well but he was wrong from tactical point of view. We needed Busi to move the ball quickly.

    Iniesta got so many good chances that if they had fallen to Messi or Villa, we would have most probably got one. I know that he is supposed to be midfielder but he is also supposed to put the thing back of the net so if he was not able to do that, i cannot say he had a great game. He had average game for me.

    Adriano had a ok game but not great. He has too much tendency of just doing his thing which could go good or bad. Yesterday at one time, i think he ran 30-40 yards without even looking up. Could be good or bad as i said and yesterday it sometimes went nowhere.

    Mascherano did have a monster game. At one point, he just out sprinted Navas, which is not something normal defenders can do. Boy has got some speed.

    Coming back to Messi, he was behind most of our best moves. He did make more passes that did not reach intended recipients but that’s because he was trying to find that final ball. I remember his try to find Iniesta which missed by only a little. Now I would say that for his job and considering the situation, he did quite good. Not genius level but surely excellent level. Comparing his passing to Xavi is too simplistic and something i would imagine reading over Soccernet forum. As for not pressing, i will wait for Pep to say something. I saw him sprinting sometimes and i saw him standing aside from players other times. I do think that this is tactical plan rather then his slagging off his duties.

    Coming back to the pk, I think he is the guy and should remain so. If he misses three or four in row, then we have something to worry about. Nowadays scoring penalties is not as easy. I think in EPL this year, 8 of first 9 penalties were saved. Gk’s are simply more prepared to save penalties. On top of that, sevilla gk was having one of the games of his life.

    Overall, i think such results happen over season and we should recognize other team’s contribution.

    • momo
      October 23, 2011

      I was laughing up until I realized you were serious…

      • y2k156
        October 23, 2011

        Care to explain why? I have given my opinion and if there are things that you do not like, would like to understand them, if its ok.

        • Xingxian
          October 23, 2011

          Kxevin likes Messi. The numbers he gives are largely SUBJECTIVE. When he gives Messi a ‘3’ or ‘5’ or ‘7’ it’s not like other players. He is saying ‘this much out of 10 based on his potential/expectations’.

          If he didn’t like Messi he’d give him much higher numbers and constantly be surprised by his skill. As it is, Kxevin has high expectations for Messi.

        • momo
          October 23, 2011

          Your first paragraph is idiotic and filled with false unjustified assumptions. Is that better?

    • SteveHK
      October 23, 2011

      I think the question “Are Kevin’s ratings biases for or against certain players?” is certainly a legitimate issue to raise. Instead of just giving my feeling about it, I think it is informative to look at a summary of Kevin’s ratings for players on BFB over a whole year (2009 – 2010)
      His 6 players with the highest avg. ratings for the season (with over 1 appearance) were:
      Abidal, Eric: 7.93avg, 8med, 27apps
      Valdes, Victor: 7.30, 7, 46
      Xavi: 7.09, 7, 47
      Keita, Seydou: 7.09, 7, 33
      Toure Yaya: 6.97, 7, 30
      Messi, Lionel: 6.85, 7, 46
      I am a teacher and my viewpoint and standards for fairness and objectivity for player rating comes from grading. If Kevin was a teacher, the Barca players were his students, and and these averages were his final grades for the season . . . well would we be happy if we were Leo Messi or his parents?

  11. can_we_go_Xalvies
    October 23, 2011

    last week people were saying that Messi is in form when he starts to involve his teammates more rather than take everything on. Yet this game he actually was more of a team player.

    Sevilla were extremely narrow in defence and that made it so difficult for any of our players to make a proper pass and even our shots couldn’t go through without hitting a Seville defender.

    Messi wasn’t off form, it was rather the team could have been a lot better collectively then they should, especially in the first half. there wasn’t much movement off the ball and we were kind of predictable.

    Again, Seville were so narrow we were one awkward deflection own goal away from winning this game.

  12. hammeronmessi
    October 23, 2011

    hey jnice,u r back,where the hell have u been?missed u a lot.

    messi a 3,villa 4,thiago a 7,xavi a 7.i never comment on KRS,but in this KRS i cant but comment and say i am quite puzzled.are you really that objective?never mind,your post,your judgement,your call.

    later, i will say why i have a disagreement with KRS of this match.gotta do some works.

  13. PhepheSa
    October 23, 2011

    Congratulations to nzm, Nav and all supporters of the all blacks on this blog. I’ts been a while and it must taste really sweet for you guys. Well played!

    • nzm
      October 23, 2011

      Thank you! I’m reclined on the couch now, recovering from this weekend’s 2 incredibly tense games. Thankfully, today’s was a good result, but only just! I think that all kiwi supporters will take the win, though! 😀

      Manchester Derby coming up. Finally one game that I can watch this weekend and not have a vested interest in who wins!

      • Nav
        October 23, 2011

        Boy oh boy that last 20 minutes. We were at a pub and no one took a breath. Jesus Christ I’m all tensed out. Still can’t believe it. 🙂

    • Nav
      October 23, 2011

      Honestly, as amazing and tense as the AB game was — I’m still saddened by the Barca draw.

      But boy oh boy did Man U get their arse handed to them.

  14. Jim
    October 23, 2011

    Just had a leisurely rematch of most of the match over breakfast. Now that I’ve calmed down I can see that the team put 100% into this match, that some of them ( Messi and Xavi included) are tired and that Sevilla stuck to their ( disappointing for them ) defence at all costs attitude.

    I can’t criticise Pep’s starting lineup ( although it came as a shock) because he’s trying different things and he has so often got it right that he deserves support from us when it doesn’t quite come off. And that’s what this was . . . it was a match where it was very close to turning out differently.

    Briefly, on some of Kxevin’s rather loaded comments 🙂

    Messi is tired and does need a rest. He was also injured in the last match and a sore achilles doesn’t make for 100% speed. At times he lacked the incredible acceleration from a standing start that has come to distinguish him from the pack and towards the end his fatigue showed in losing the ball on occasions. However, let’s get real. The only ways we were creating something last night were through him or Iniesta and I do find it difficult when people have a pop at him when he plays at less than superhuman level. Along with Iniesta and Xavi he was still one of our best passers of the final ball last night. Quick question for those who don’t agree with the statement that he was our most dangerous player, even last night. If he was as poor as some are saying would you have taken him off? Had you done that and been standing in Pep’s place last I think you would have received an interesting reception from the Camp Nou crowd.

    The penalty? Incredibly difficult circumstances to take a penalty in and unless you have taken, and missed, penalties it is hard to imagine what goes through your head. Those who can’t stand the pressure just blast it and it is hit or miss. Messi’s penalty was directed perfectly and had the keeper not stopped it would have hit the net at the side – the criterion for well aimed. However, it was at a good height for the keeper who guessed right ( and yes it was a guess despite Messi’s liking for that side. Look closely, Messi looks at both corners in his run up.) and moved early. Not going to catch me blaming him for that and it was certainly not, imo, “horrific”. I do think we need to start the discussion about whether he takes future penalties as he is starting to have to carry too much of the load for this team. I watched the same thing happen to Kenny Dalglish when he was with Celtic and he eventually found it too much and needed out.

    Didn’t quite manage the “briefly” there, did I?


    Pass marks from me to VV. If he doesn’t spot Abidal’s error coming we are one down. Also to Mascherano who didn’t put a foot wrong ( apart from the stupid booking and at sometime in the season he will cost us card-wise). He will have harder days at the office but did everything that I saw well. Iniesta was outstanding for me. He just was. Xavi also tried hard but played to much of the match too deep getting things going. A Keita issue ?- I’ll let others decide but that’s why he is also knackered. Despite our concerns about his achilles long term he never gets a rest. Wonder why that is? Because he is the only one who is essential to the team functioning as well as it does.

    Apart from those I really wasn’t impressed by anybody else. Adriano, Thiago, Pedro and Alves all showed real lack of control of the ball at times. Too many of the team to keep the fluidity going as quickly as it had to last night. Lack of quality balls from the wings and just as important too long before delivering them. As was mentioned, Sevilla crowd out the side where the ball is and the centre then shuffle across as it is moved from side to side. When you have ten players doing that in or around your box life just gets very tough for the attacking team and Alves often collected the ball standing still then waited before deciding what to do. Tbh, despite what Ramzi was saying about Cuenca, which I accept, I’d have been tempted to replace Alves with him and tell him when he collects the ball to run straight at the box as quickly as possible. We needed to destabilise them more. Thought Cesc might do it but he didn’t really.

    Disappointing but let’s learn from last year when every point dropped meant the team took pelters. Sorry, post much longer than intended 🙁

    • messi_fan
      October 23, 2011

      I agree with pretty much you said.

  15. nzm
    October 23, 2011

    – too many tired players
    – the wrong combo put out
    – nobody crashing the box to create movement
    – Messi pretty much ALWAYS aims his penalties shots where he put last night’s effort
    – too many small-small passes slowing up play when it should have been quicker (allowed Sevilla to reset their defence and get organised)
    – subs were wrong (Pedro WTF?)
    – why does Pep “experiment” in the vital games when points (i.e. wins) are needed?

    I gave up counting how many balls were lost when whoever was on left wing would pass back into the middle of the field and a Seville player would intercept the ball on the corner of the penalty box.

    We saw a very one-dimensional Barca last night. They only knew one style of play and it wasn’t working against an excellently defensive Sevilla.

    Pep still hasn’t figured out what to do in the park-the-bus situations.

    For those of you beseeching these teams to also play well against Real Madrid: RM will take the game to these teams. They’ll be fast – so fast that the teams won’t be able to set defence. Yes, Di Maria and Ronaldo will draw penalties, but that’s what needs to happen against defence like this.

    We were, once again, just too slow. Seville rattled the cage.

    • nzm
      October 23, 2011

      Damnit – I keep writing “Seville” when I know that they are “Sevilla” from Seville. 😀

    • yev
      October 23, 2011

      i agree, like others have said, we seemed slow in the ball rotation and couldn’t stretch the play enough. we need to work on our wing play, as i think we reset too much towards our centre. IMO having keita in, allowed our forwards to track back less which unfortunately seemed like slowing their off the ball movement…

      Barca controlled the game and it very well could have been a win. like ramzi said these games are enjoyable because they are played at a higher level. and really flesh out our system. we have a short squad; we need to be able to find ways to make the rotations work. I think we would be more ok with it if the league was more consistent with its balance.

      i think it is true with messi starting to carry too much weight; but who can realistically step up and take over? its more than just swapping him out, and taking the pk; its being a reference point (up front) for the team and that will take time to have. makes me miss etoo or even henry or a non crazy ibra. just players who added more dimensions to the system.

      great (non?) review kxvin and thank everyone for your comments, if i could i would “^this” above too many. Euler’s view is a great plus

  16. messi_fan
    October 23, 2011

    Just a few thoughts.

    Although Kxevin makes some good points against having a designated penalty taker, that is exactly what Messi is. And unless you let the designated PK taker know that in this match you’re going to let someone else take it because of XYZ, it can cause a lot of problems.

    Also, Messi is the designated taker for a reason. You can argue about his tendancies, his technique, or his waiting for the keeper to move first, but percentage-wise, he’s our best penalty taker (or at least he was before Cesc came) and certainly better than Villa.

    With regards to this specific penalty, like Jim said, the height wasn’t good. However, the keeper played it as perfectly as you could. I honestly don’t think that any shot aimed low-right would’ve got past him. Maybe we should start taking them high since those are unstoppable, but then you run the risk of a Baggio happening.

    There’s a reason why so many passes got cut out. Sevilla was set up from the get-go to stop the short extra pass Barcelona is known for. When these didn’t work, we started going for more intricate (aka low percentage) passes. It’s not that we suddenly forgot to pass, its that our passes had to split 4 or more defenders. Interestingly enough, a little more “selfishness” as we’re fond of saying on this board, would’ve gone a long way.

    • blitzen
      October 23, 2011

      he’s our best penalty taker (or at least he was before Cesc came) and certainly better than Villa.

      Not sure where you get that from. Villa is the designated PK taker for the NT and has an absolutely brilliant record with them. The one he missed at last year’s WC was an aberration and quite shocking for everyone.

      • messi_fan
        October 23, 2011

        I stand corrected. I was under the impression that Villa had missed a couple since the WC but clearly I was misremembering.

      • Ryan
        October 23, 2011

        It was the first Spanish missed PK in WC finals EVER, if I recall correctly.

  17. mom4
    October 23, 2011

    Guardiola: 6. He got the starting XI right, but the subs wrong. Pedro shouldn’t have seen the pitch in this match, and Busquets should have a lot earlier. Same for Fabregas.


    We need a rest, we’re not gonna get one. Sevilla hasn’t had to worry about Europe since August and was well rested.

    About the PK. Hubby says, “No not, Messi. He’s going to place it low and to the keeper’s left. He always places it there. Everybody knows he always places it there.” (to be fair, I do remeber one low and to the keeper’s right once)

    • messi_fan
      October 23, 2011

      I’m a bit puzzled about this Messi always hits it low and to the keeper’s left thing. The low part I understand since you’re advised to hit penalties either low and to the corner or high in the V. But as far as I remember, he just waits to see where the keeper goes and kicks it the opposite side.

      • nzm
        October 23, 2011

        I also knew that Messi would aim his penalty kick – even voiced it at the time that he stepped up to take it. It’s pretty much a given.

        The sensible thing to have done would have been to wait until the keeper moved – but he didn’t.

        I was seriously wanting the kick to be given to Mascherano last night.

    • mom4
      October 23, 2011

      Oh and when we are fighting a bus, why are we so slow on the transition. We get possession back and instead of moving it quickly we let them set up.

      Messi is tired. But I didn’t see anybody else other tham him or Iniesta really getting close to accomplishing anything offensively.

      Busi coming in that late, why! The game was screaming for him. We were saving him for what? Granada? I love Keita but sometimes a game screams for Busi.

      • nzm
        October 23, 2011

        ‘xactly what I said above about the slowness. Last night there were about 4 passes for every play when 1 or 2 would have sufficed.

        Says a lot when our best scoring chances came from….Iniesta? 🙂 (I know that he scores, but not as our first line of attack!)

  18. blaunero
    October 23, 2011

    I think what we are suffering from is a hangover from last year’s success and efforts. Some members of the team are there neither mentally nor physically. The rotation implemented so far has been in force for every outfield player except Alves and Messi, who to my recollection have played every game.
    At one point Messi last year was playing as badly as he is now. He was rested for two weeks before the Wembley final, and we know what happened. I believe his pride has to be hit to get a reaction out of him. Bench him or relegate him to the stands so he can get some rest. Otherwise this is the player we’ll have this year, tired, imprecise, can’t make the dribbles he was making easily before.

    • Jim
      October 23, 2011

      I think Xavi has also played far too much.

      Can’t agree with the word ” badly” about how Messi is playing. In the last week he has scored two great goals, hit the post with a thunderous free kick and produced one of the great dribbles at speed I’ve ever seen (post again). Apart from that he’s looked by our most dangerous player in the last three games ( along with Ini?).

      So far in La Liga I think he has scored 10 times, made 5 assists and had 46 shots in 8 games. This is playing badly?

      Come on, guys. Our wee whiz is tired. Cut him some slack and show him some love 🙂 .

      • blaunero
        October 23, 2011

        If he’s tired then he or Guardiola should have the guts to come out and rent him.
        Real Madrid is playing well and scoring. Milan is finding ways to win. Bayern is Bayern. And Man City will be a force to be reckoned with. We aren’t, despite thrashing most teams.

        • mega_tajh
          October 23, 2011

          That Milan comeback was just epic. Down 3 goals before halftime. Then in the 2nd half they come back and score 4 to win the game.

  19. justsayin
    October 23, 2011

    The loss of a game is usually not the fault of one player, however Pep’s insistence of finding a way of playing Keita in every match is very apparent and it is causing the team troubles. In the beginning of the season Pep made the poor decision of moving Busi to CB so Keita could play DM (putting 2 players at a disadvantage as they were playing out of position), he saw how bad that was going and so now Pep is changing his formation to 3-4-3 to accommodate Keita once again. Keita should be used as a sub when we need to lock in a win defensively. In a game like yesterday when we needed a goal, Busi presence was needed to read the game at midfield and feed balls forward. I think Keita’s contract is up this season and I’d love to know Peps thoughts on where he thinks Keita future lies in the club. Starter, sub or is this season Pep’s goodbye gift??

    • justsayin
      October 23, 2011

      I see that Keita’s contract was extended to 2014, .. so much for my theory that this season was a parting gift. Back to scratching my head ….

    • mega_tajh
      October 23, 2011

      I appreciate Keita when we have a Midfield of Xavi-Busi-Keita. This worked quite well last season when Iniesta was injured and it did us well.

  20. messi_fan
    October 23, 2011

    The next penalty certainly will be interesting. I always find this sort of thing fascinating. Suppose Messi takes it, where should he aim for?

    • nzm
      October 23, 2011

      He shouldn’t take the next one – plain and simple. The pressure needs to be taken off him.

  21. Xingxian
    October 23, 2011

    Just finished watching the 6-1 Manchester derby.

    Talked to a City supporter throughout. His excitement reminded me of the manita back in November

    • blaunero
      October 23, 2011

      Last 10 minutes were incredible. Deserved City win.

    • October 23, 2011

      Exactly what I was tellin my friend too… Was glad for yaya, silva, and el kun!
      Not a good day to be de Gea though…

  22. October 23, 2011

    WHOA WHOA WHOA WHOA WOW WTH I literally thought it wasn’t POSSIBLE for United to ever lose by that huge a margin. They’re such beasts whenever they’re behind or a man down or whatever adverse situations, that collapse was incredible.

  23. mega_tajh
    October 23, 2011

    Seeing ManU lose like that gives me the appreciation that were’re still undefeated this season and this draw looks so much better.

  24. blaunero
    October 23, 2011

    That Silva assist for the sixth City goal was simply outrageous.

  25. blitzen
    October 23, 2011

    So Cesc is a racist now? What’s next? Iniesta is a fascist? Thiago is a warlock? Pedro doesn’t brush his teeth? Puyol eats puppies for breakfast? Ridiculousness.

    This was not a fun game to watch, for many reasons. This is the first time this season I have been really angry with Pep’s stubbornness regarding subs. Cesc should have been put on much sooner than he was, and what was the point of waiting until the last 5 minutes to sub in Busi? If you want to change the game, and he needed to, he should have made the substitutions around the 60th minute at the latest. Having said that, Pedro wasn’t actually a bad sub in theory. Pep couldn’t have known how poor he would be on the field.

    Villa should have taken the PK. It’s what he does.

    Messi should sit the next game. Unfortunately, so should Pedro, which doesn’t leave us many options up front. How about a front line of Dani – Villa – Cesc? Or just Cesc – Villa with a 4-man midfield (Xavi, Thiago, Busi, Iniesta)? Could work.

    Well, we takes our lumps and learns our lesson. Draws are the new losses, right? Sadly, this puts me in the position of choosing whether I want my beloved Yellow Submarine to win today (they desperately need the points) or to lose (so Levante can stay top of the League). Bah.

    • Xingxian
      October 23, 2011

      ‘Thiago is a warlock’
      I laughed out loud

      • Eklavya
        October 23, 2011

        I LOL’ed at whole first paragraphs. Puyol eats puppies and Pedro doesn’t brush his teeth. Ahahah

  26. mega_tajh
    October 23, 2011

    I want them to win today against Levante so maybe they can be on a high when they play Madrid on wed.

    Which also get me to this point. Not being Mou but how come after our Wednesday UCL game we play on Saturday and then now we are going to play on Tuedday. Our boys basically have little to no rest.

  27. Ryan
    October 23, 2011

    Seeing United’s worst home defeat ever in the Premier League certainly puts our draw in perspective, eh? City sure has a wealth of offensive options available!

  28. mega_tajh
    October 23, 2011

    BTW now with Cesc and Thiago here Pep is determined on trying to fit Keita somewhere in this team. I actually want Pep to try Keita as a CB, anyone has expert thoughts on this?

    • blitzen
      October 23, 2011

      My understanding is that Pep had floated that idea with Keita previously, but he doesn’t feel comfortable there so he didn’t pursue it. No, I don’t have a source for that, just remember hearing it.

      • Lou
        October 23, 2011

        You might be thinking of the 2009 Champions League Final. Pep asked Keita whether he would like to play as a left back, and Keita wasn’t too keen so Sylvinho got to start.

        • blitzen
          October 23, 2011

          That’s quite possible. But I do think if Pep saw Keita as an option for CB we would have seen it before now.

  29. BarcaGirl_Indo
    October 23, 2011

    what a match from England!
    David Silva is the best player in EPL at the moment..
    so happy for City..and well, I hate United so..yeah, I love the scoreline.. 😀

    being said that, I feel depressed again after reading your comments.. Messi tired, Xavi tired, this team is tired, Pedro regressing to Pedrito, wrong sub, late sub, Alexis and Afellay still injured, EE is on fire.. ugh.. 🙁

  30. The__K__Man
    October 23, 2011

    siento mucho lo ocurrido ayer, no fue ejemplar. no obstante hubo provocacion e insulto, ya sabeis. No le deis mas vuelta. gracias.

      • October 23, 2011

        Google Translate says:
        “Sorry what happened yesterday, it was exemplary. However there was no provocation and insult, you know. Do not turn round. Thank you.”

        Honestly, I even find the idea that people immediately assumed Fabregas must have insulted Kanoute absolutely ridiculous considering the context was Sevilla conceding a penalty and potentially the result after 91 minutes of hard, difficult defending. Emotions were running high, duh. How much are haters looking to find something to stain us if they’re irrational enough to automatically assume that? I’d get it if Kanoute just did it smack in the middle of the match but it was in a heated moment with a bunch of other players also arguing after Barca had won a penalty in injury time. Some people will look for ANYTHING to think of us badly. It’s disgraceful.

      • ooga aga
        October 23, 2011

        “im reallly sorry for what happened yesterday, it was not a good example. nevertheless i was provoked and insulted, you know. but lets not revisit it any more. thanks.”

        • Jim
          October 23, 2011

          Easy for him to say now. It had the desired effect.

  31. mega_tajh
    October 23, 2011

    Now reading Javi Varas claims he had studied Messi’s penalties on video prior to the game. Even with all the brawl going on he did look quite focused and ready for Messi.

  32. Blau-Grenade
    October 23, 2011

    Hello People, I am planning my visit to Barcelona Nov 15th to Nov 28th. I know hotels turn out expensive in Barcelona. Any recommendations on where I can stay (Aparthotels) much appreciated.

    My idea is to watch the Barca Zaragoza game at home on the 20th and enjoy the city with my wife and daughter.

    I have read all about the scams from TripAdvisor

    Any information on places to stay and visit would be very appreciated.


    • Nav
      October 23, 2011

      I loved my stay in Hotel Olivia and it’s right smack in Placa Catalunya, but they can be a bit pricy though for the quality of the room it’s well worth it.

    • nzm
      October 23, 2011

      When we first thought about living in Barcelona, we came on a reconnaissance trip (2 years ago) and stayed at Marina Apartments which have kitchens and laundries in them:

      They were very clean and very conveniently located – just along from La Sagrada Familia, so quite central without being in the noisy areas.

      Also look at this website for accom – we always book through here and have never had any problems: Just change the language to English at the top right of the homepage.

    • nzm
      October 23, 2011

      It’s ok to read about the Barca scams, but read about how to prepare yourself for them as well!

      We were downtown quite a bit last week with visitors and there were lots of pickpockets and scam artists still in town. Hopefully it will die down as the weather gets colder and they move on – i.e. not all of them are local and they get moved from place to place depending on tourist visitor volumes.

      Bob Arno is a professional security consultant and a pickpocket who does Las Vegas shows. His website is very informative, and you can find good advice at this link: Also check the Pocketology 101 and Purseology 101 links on that page for more detailed info.

      If you need a guide for a day or so to get your bearings, feel free to contact me! matdxb (at)

      • Blau-Grenade
        October 23, 2011

        Thanks a lot Michelle. I was going to book Sagrada Familia appartments.
        Thanks for all the links and information on scams. Will read through them.
        Thanks for all the great reads regarding how to prepare ourselves.
        And thanks a lot for your email.

        • nzm
          October 24, 2011

          You’re welcome!

          See you when you get here! 😉

    • justsayin
      October 23, 2011

      We stayed at the Hotel Montblanc on via Laietana this April. Clean, centrally located, well priced. I would recommend it.

      • Blau-Grenade
        October 23, 2011

        Thanks justsayin. I’ll check it out.

  33. October 23, 2011

    Quiero desmentir claramente que haya hecho algún tipo de insulto racista hacia algun jugador del Sevilla.

    Toda la vida he jugado con gente de todo el mundo y todas las religiones, comparto vestuario con un jugador malí, llevo un tatuaje árabe,

    Via @cesc4official

    STFU haters..

  34. October 23, 2011

    “Toda la vida he jugado con gente de todo el mundo y todas las religiones, comparto vestuario con un jugador malí, llevo un tatuaje árabe, y mi pareja es libanesa. No hay muestras más evidentes de que no tiene sentido. Ahora a pensar en el Granada que es lo que toca. Un abrazo.”

    Full tweet.

  35. Eklavya
    October 23, 2011

    Wait never mind:


    I can proudly say that after many years in football , I always maintained the best relationships with my team mates who came from different

    backgrounds, races, religions and nationalities. No one has ever accused me of being racist or bigoted in all my years of playing

    in the game. There is a simple explanation for that. I have never behaved in that manner. I will not tolerate anyone accusing me of things

    that I’m not. If they r frustrated by a decision that has gone against them on the football pitch then there r others ways to deal with it.

    that I’m not. If they r frustrated by a decision that has gone against them on the football pitch then there r others ways to deal with it.

    • Eklavya
      October 23, 2011

      oops. Copied one of them twice. Last one:

      To cry racism is cowardly and an easy option to excuse your own poor behaviour. My conscience is completely clear. Ive done nothing wrong.

      • blitzen
        October 23, 2011

        Really loving how Cesc is always on top of the rumour mill and quick to get his message out to the public. He’s not going to put up with any bullshit.

  36. messifan
    October 23, 2011

    Strange results across big European leagues. I hope our players can get over the last game and win on Tuesday. A few of them need rest as well; i guess with a small squad,there’s little rotation. And I’m absolutely disgusted with all these wild accusations; it happens everywhere, in sports, politcs etc… I can’t understand why some people are just so irrational and would consciously want to ruin others. It’s a crazy world we live in. But I do believe in karma…if you do good things, good things will happen in return; if you do bad things, bad things will happen in return.

    • messifan
      October 23, 2011

      p.s. Cheers…it’s not the end of the world that we didn’t win. Always looking forward to the next game 🙂

  37. October 23, 2011

    LOL, now this.

    John Terry is being accused of making racist remarks today at Anton Ferdinand..

  38. ElJefe
    October 23, 2011

    I don’t know what’s more mystifying, Messi’s erratic form and poor passing, or the fact that Keita always defaults to an ‘8’ rating in every Kxevin review regardless of impact on the game.

  39. October 23, 2011

    Let it be known: I saw David Silva first. Longtime BFB readers can attest to this.

    • blitzen
      October 23, 2011

      You mean David Silva existed before he joined the EPL? I don’t believe it. Next you’ll be saying this “Koon” fellow had a career before he started playing for City. Balderdash!

  40. blitzen
    October 23, 2011

    It’s official: Cesc Fabregas is a grown-up and a serious person. He called Kanoute, they clarified what happened, they mututally apologized. End of.

    I could see him as a future Barça captain, frankly. Boy has head screwed on straight.

    • October 23, 2011

      Yep. Sorted it out like adults.

      I asked Graham if he could talk about this new “if you can’t beat Barca, accuse them of racism” thing going on, but he quite rightly said that only players know what went on on the pitch. Respect for Cesc has gone up immensely. Racism is NOT a game.

    • October 23, 2011

      I was discussing this with a friend earlier: There seems to be a widely accepted “Dark side” to football games that by not being on the pitch, us fans won’t know about.

      For Cesc to call to clear up with he said and apologize and for Kanoute to apologize for his reaction (Physical violence is never an answer to anything), then there must have been words said. Ones that are probably not appropriate to mention to the public.

      An issue that comes to mind is the Zidane incident at the world cup. And if you go back to the Clasicos, Kieta getting pissed at Arbeloa is most probably because he trash talked him and similar with Villa-Ozil incident.

      I think as long as the players act as adults and sort things out like Kanoute and Cesc did, it is all good. In the end, physical exhaustion plus the pressure of millions and millions of viewers watching makes the calmest players lose their cool.

    • blaunero
      October 23, 2011

      It’s easy to apologize after the event. It’s much more difficult to admit why Kanute did what he did. It was so clear what he and his mates were doing (viz. delaying action as much as possible to unsettle the p.k. taker) that I’m surprised none of Barca’s players have come out. Sevilla did a similar tactic against Valencia. It’s too bad really. Used to be a classier team.

  41. October 23, 2011


    I don’t think it was a matter of Adriano being at the right helping Alves. Navas is a right winger and hence attacks the left side of Barcelona’s attack. So Adriano being there at the right does very little to contain Navas. And the fact that Adriano was switched back to left by via instructions from Pep is a clear indication of that.

    I never brought into question Pep’s ability to promote or use youth team players. I just thought that in that particular situation, he was let down by lack of options on the bench that he can sub in. And this prompted me to ask Ramzi if it was a matter of Cuenca not being ready or not good enough (I haven’t seen much of Cuenca, except for the odd Barca B game and highlight videos). Ramzi explained to me that the kid is just not ready. That is why i thought it would have been better to get one of the more experienced B teamers for a tough game against a tough opponent. I do not know the squad better than Pep, nor better than a lot of people here, but I’m not sure were i claim to know it better. Or how that even fits in as an argument all together.

    And as for your final point, I was making a simple joke. But if it makes you feel any better, Pepe runs in like a maniac whenever there is a fight. I guess he loves his teammates as much as VV loves his….

    • Dani_el
      October 24, 2011

      So you compare VV with Pepe, that’s clever. Talking about disrespect and trolling with probably the most agressive and dirty player in LaLiga.

  42. mega_tajh
    October 23, 2011

    I need some Euler Knowledge!!! I know he is busy working hard to explain everything for us.

    • mega_tajh
      October 23, 2011

      Looks Like Levante is going top of the table all on their lonesome….

      • jordi™
        October 23, 2011

        gotta love kone, no fancy stuff just rifles home the ball as hard as possible.

        • October 23, 2011

          Like. A. Boss. That was so awesome. 😀

          And Juanlu, two golazos in one half. Hay Liga! Levante Leaders!

      • Ryan
        October 23, 2011

        At least it’ll remain a blaugrana-colored liga leader.

  43. Eklavya
    October 23, 2011

    Levante are the leaders! Where is Helge and his glasses? 😀

  44. Kimcelona
    October 23, 2011

    Iniesta was my MOTM though he missed some easy shots. (Yea I dont expect him to be as clinical as a stiker.) Masche was also a contender for MOTM. He was a BEAST in the match. I love him so. The guy was stopping everything that came at him and even when there didnt look to be any danger he was there just in case it would turn out to be dangerous. Xavi, Messi, Thiago, Abi and Alves all had a fair to good match.I like Keita and I know that sometimes your ultimate like for a player can cloud your judgement,but come on, an 8, a higher rating than the people who were actually doing something for us in order to score? Keita was indifferent in this match. He neither did anything bad nor did he do anything particularly outstanding. I feel he wasnt NEEDED in this match but he did his job. And just because people feel he wasnt a huge impact or of importance in this match DOES NOT mean we hate him, are comparing him to Busi or that we are balming him for the draw. Just as how you criticize Messi for the smallest things because you apparantly hold him to a higher standard than everyone else, Keita can be criticised too, this doesnt mean he should burn in hell.
    Villa was another one who was jsut there for most parts though he didnt do anything particularly costly/horrible. He could move more but he did have positive contributions when he did.
    Pedrito is concering me. (I’ve seen Kari say he’s slowly regressing back to Pedrito but I’ve always called him Pedrito, so what would he regress back to for me? 😀 )His form is dismal. I have said it and I’ll say it again. I CANNOT wait for Alexis to come back and light some fire under that azz! Poor touches, bad passes, bad control,bad decision making, bad shooting, just not as confident as we’re used to seeing him. He needs a wake up call or more motivation.
    Adriano’s decision making was not very good in this match. Must have been nervous against his old team?
    The subs were right for me but a little too late at some times. I wanted to see subs at or a little after half time.

    Overall we really didnt play bad but I would have liked for us to quicken the pace of the game: our passing and movement, just a little bit more. Credit to Sevilla though for being compact, organized and total tools near the end of the game to throw everyone (including Leo) off before the PEN. I dont like teams who only come to earn a point/not lose [badly] but I cant knock them for doing what they had to do against us. Javi Varas was the hero for them.

  45. Kimcelona
    October 23, 2011

    Oh yeah, HAY LA LIGA! lol!
    Blaugrana (even if Levante) on top!

  46. BarcaGirl_Indo
    October 23, 2011

    dear Levante, please don’t stop being awesome…

    now I’m going to watch some Six and The City…
    episode one : Why Always Me?

    OMG, these jokes are killing me… 😆

    • October 23, 2011

      61ory 61ory Man United 😀

      The top tweet for the ‘Johnny Evans’ trending topic was hilarious too. “Johnny Evans couldn’t defend the statement 2 + 2 = 4”

      Not to mention that at the end of the game 6-1 wasn’t trending but ‘8-2 Arsenal’ was. Hahahahaha.

  47. barca96
    October 24, 2011

    Saw the ratings and the first few comments and I thought that I should chime in.

    I did not think that Messi played badly!! He recovered so many balls and could’ve easily had 4-5 assists. You guys were complaining that he was selfish last week and now when he is constantly dishing out killer balls and it still ain’t good enough.

  48. barca96
    October 24, 2011

    And the win by City over United can’t be compared to ours over Madrid cos United played with 10 men for a long time.

    But do you guys think that there is a chance for a similar thing to happen to us? Madrid playing at Camp Nou and tearing us apart… I do fear it..

    • October 24, 2011

      Anything is possible in football so I would never completely rule it out, but considering the way we play, the amount of possession we tend to keep and the level at which we control most games I find it difficult to think of a situation where we would concede 6 goals, even with only 10 men.

  49. barca96
    October 24, 2011

    Who ever has this on DVR or downloaded the match, watch the move by Iniesta at 87:53. Simply breathtaking. Simple but so elegant.

  50. mom4
    October 24, 2011

    Oh, congrats to the NZ rugby fans here.
    Did they do the Haka before the game? I think it’s so cool that they do that.

    • October 24, 2011

      Sighhhhh Les Bleus continue to break my heart. So close, yet so far. I knew this match was going to be ON when, during the All Blacks Haka, Les Bleus formed an arrow shape and advanced toward midfield. It was an excellent match, though I have to agree with the announcers about the pragmatism of the NZ approach to things. I think that more of their fluidity and creativity wouldn’t have made the match as close. Hard to fault Weepu for the missed kicks. Those were some pretty crazy angles.

      Anyhow, excellent match, and I’ll echo the congrats to all the Kiwis in the house.

      • nzm
        October 24, 2011

        Defence won through for NZ. That late second-half passage of play where the Kiwis kept out France for 15 consecutive phases – that won them the game.

        The fact that they kept calm, didn’t panic, didn’t concede a penalty during that whole period, (that would have surely gifted the game to France), and then used the Frenach error to get up the field to hang on until the final whistle? Pure class!

        Richie McCaw played the game of his life.

        Report and links to photos of the (very NZ down-to-earth!) victory parade:

      • Nav
        October 24, 2011

        I love Weepu but in any other game he nails those angles in his sleep. I reckon the pressure got to him. Still, what a game.

    • nzm
      October 24, 2011

      mom4 – yes, they did do the haka, as always. This is a newer one that they do now which involves a throat-slitting movement. 🙂

      Kevin – it was so close! I think that once Aaron Cruden was injured, the game tightened up – the ABs weren’t so confident in running it anymore. Especially as his replacement Stephen Donald (the #4 choice for first 5/8th) was vilified as the guy who lost the Bledisloe Cup against Australia in Hong Kong, due to his poor kicking. In the end, however, his penalty kick won the match!

      Weepu was simply awesome in the quarterfinal against Argentina – drilling them through the posts from everywhere on the pitch, and then his kicking went to pieces against Australia and France. He practically subbed himself off each time. Came out later that he’s been playing the last 10 days or so with effects from the flu’!

      Here you go, mom4 and Kevin – the haka from the final!

      • October 24, 2011

        Lord today what a moment that was. Thanks for that. Apparently Les Bleus didn’t come up with the arrowhead thing until the night before, at their hotel.

      • Nav
        October 24, 2011

        Aaron Cruden is from my high school!

  51. mom4
    October 24, 2011

    FCBarcelona_es FC Barcelona
    El jugador @Carles5puyol sigue notando pequeñas molestias en el pubis y es baja por precaución para el partido de mañana #fcblive

    AW CRAP!!!

    • mom4
      October 24, 2011

      my stab at translation:

      Puyi has noted some discomfort (in a sensitive area) and is out of tomorrow’s game as a precaution.

        • ooga aga
          October 24, 2011

          i think “pubis” is “groin.” that is what also kept him out against sevilla. hell beback no worries

  52. Josep
    October 24, 2011

    varas was absolutely amazing. even if the ball is kicked right at the keeper there’s a big responsibility there, how often do you see the ball spill out?

    and in hindsight Messi shouldn’t have taken the PK. you can say that now, yeah.. I think after the fracas maybe swap him out but not before it.

    • October 24, 2011

      Oh, I still think he’s overall MOTM. He was delightful. I’m just holding off on the canonization.

      I go back and forth on the Messi thing. In hindsight, for sure. But if I’m Guardiola, I probably do exactly what he did, for psychological reasons if nothing else, even though I rather imagine Messi would have understood once Guardiola explained it to him.

  53. October 24, 2011

    Hey, did anyone see that Sevilla struck an unpaid deal with UNICEF for the front of their shirt? Del Nido just kills me. That dude is awesome.

    Yes, it’s to tweak our noses, doing good while doing personal good. I love it.

    –In other news, Puyol and Sanchez trained apart from the group, Pique with the group.

  54. October 24, 2011

    And MARCA scammed the prolific Allas by changing the logo on one of his videos to their logo, to make it seem as if they had produced it. Wow.

  55. October 24, 2011

    Just a few thoughts as to why people think that teams “roll over” for the EE, while playing their hearts out against us:

    –Two very different styles of play. We are inexorable and logical, so a compact, fully committed defense can control us. You have to be willing to accept that you will be playing for a 0-0 and might get a lucky counter, rather than playing a straight-up match. That is, the game plan has to start with defense.

    They are slashing and fast, capable of destabilizing defenses by getting from end to end of the pitch with 2 or 3 passes. And when they get there, they have (don’t take this the wrong way, folks) better finishers.

    As Ramzi noted above, as we pass the ball around, it’s easy for a defense to shift to the point of attack, to defend in depth. It isn’t as easy against them, because they’re running at you full-tilt. It’s also why our possession-based attack works so well against them. The more possession they have, the greater the odds that they are going to kill you. Now this is also true of us, but not AS true. We keep possesion anyhow, but we don’t always move the ball as quickly or as adroitly as we should (like on Saturday). If our passing and movement are up to snuff, that match is a win. No question.

    We also need some pace. I remember one break where our wee midget was off to the “races,” and you could see Sevilla defenders outrunning him to get set up, and there was about zero support coming back. Compare than to the jailbreak days of Eto’o and Henry, where those two greyhounds could convert defense into offense like that.

    I think that the biggest reason for the desire for Sanchez, not the Messi-like abilities, but the infusion of destabilizing pace that he will bring to the table.

  56. October 24, 2011

    We are too used to our excellent football, fantastic passing goals, beautiful teamwork and incredible Messi which make us very not used to seeing teams playing so well against us and force us to play differently.

    Keita is not the best DM for us, but it doesn’t mean he is not suitable for this kind of match. Sevilla has a history of playing physical and strong against us. If you look at how many small players we have on the team, and how frail our first choice DM is, then you may understand why Keita started this match. It’s a safety option which can make changes to.

    Keita is not the best DM, but when Sevilla played unexpectedly defensive, and not as aggressive as we expected, Keita’s DM role become less meaningful. It made him look useless DM-ing because there is no (huge) need.

    I agree with Kxevin that the subs are too late (Busi) because if Busi came on a bit earlier, Keita would be able to crash the box which we in fact never saw him did in this match. That is exactly his best strength and we needed that so badly against a team parked so tight at the back and us not being at our tiki-taka best. But Oh, we think he is not suitable for this game because we are too used to beautiful team goals and fantastic passing attack.

    Keita crashing the box allow the unexpected happen. Sevilla and their coach envisioned the game EXACTLY RIGHT. That allow them to play at ease psychologically because everything they saw is just as they expected. With our random chaos generators malfunctioned, clogged space didn’t have enough movement, width support kinda sucked to produce anything good, we are down to a very expected passing around doing nothing mode.

    No we don’t need a Zlatan as we know midgets could head a goal, but if Keita has the work rate to do the dirty, defensive sense to prevent chaos, and more importantly the aerial threat and physicality to crash-a-box, why is he not suitable for a compact side that thinks a draw is like a win?

  57. blitzen
    October 24, 2011

    Just called out Tim Stannard (LLL) for referring to the Cesc/Kanoute racism nonstarter in his piece for F365. He should know better. He knows very well that Kanoute made no allegations of racism at all. Publishing Cesc’s denials without mentioning that there was nothing to deny in the first place is the kind of rumour-mongering I expect from the Sun, not him.

    His defense? “Everyone else is covering it.” Very disappointing.

    • October 24, 2011

      Agreed. It doesn’t make sense when usually careful journos aren’t as careful as they should be. Nice call-out.

      • blitzen
        October 24, 2011

        Thank you! And I note that Sid Lowe refrained from going there in his Guardian piece.

  58. adopted cule
    October 24, 2011

    Messi was clearly off in this game and I speculated throughout the proceedings that the knock he took at the end of the last game was the problem. I still don’t believe Messi is off form this season, though he does need a rest. The irony for me, and others have commented on it, is that Messi didn’t do much running at the defense at all in this game (perhaps because he was hurting or perhaps because maybe he heard some of the criticisms of his performance in the Plzen game) and his activity in this regard was missed by me, if not by anyone else. There was a bus to crack and his ability to draw defenders is the best option available. By the time he started to get active in this regard, Sevilla had already dug in deep and could see the finish line.

    As for the penalty, I called for Cesc to take it in the live blog because Messi didn’t seem to be 100%. I still want Messi taking the pks, but I felt with Varas feeling his oats and Messi not feeling his own, having Cesc step up and blast one was the better option at that moment. If Cesc had taken it, he wouldn’t have been in the fracas casting racial slurs at Kanoute either (just kidding).

    In Pep we trust.

    As a Barcelona fan, I live by this. In fact, before Pep came along, I was more than a casual fan, but let’s just say that I didn’t revolve my game days around making sure I caught the game either live or at the earliest possible moment the way I do now. Pep is the reason I love this team so much. That being said, I feel that this loss is on Pep Guardiola.

    I have so many questions that I can’t answer about this game. I can’t bring myself to watch it again, but I don’t think I’d get any closer to the answers even if I did.

    1. Why did Keita start instead of Busquets against Sevilla? This is not an anti Keita query, but rather a pro Busquets one. Perhaps it is Busquets theatrics that keep people from seeing his brilliance, but for me, in big games, his presence is as required as Xavi’s, Iniesta’s, and, Messi’s. (You can add Pique to my list as well, when he’s healthy. If Mascherano is indeed now a must play member in central defense, I believe it is Puyol who must make way, but I remain on the fence in that debate, feeling completely comfortable with either Puyol or Mascherano. A fully fit Pique offers things on the offensive side of the ball that neither Puyol or Mascherano can and possession is the best defense.) Busquets’ positional sense and the ball distribution and support of the possession game cannot be overvalued. I completely agree with Kxevin that Pep left his insertion into the game too late, about 87 minutes too late.

    2. I thought Pep would go with a 4-3-3 to start the game and insert Cesc at the 60-70 minute mark for a central defender to go to a 3-4-3 only because I didn’t think Cesc would be physically fit enough for an entire game. Instead, he started in a 3-4-3 with Adriano on the right wing and Barcelona looked dangerous to start the game in this formation. Also, I wasn’t at all worried about the Sevilla attack at any moment in this game, but I was concerned that in the 3-4-3, Alves was moving up too high on the pitch instead of staying at home. Why did Pep move Adriano back to the left back? This essentially had Barcelona playing a 4-4-2. I’d have to watch again. Was Iniesta really responsible for width out left? Alves spent a lot of time very forward on the right wing (ineffectively for the most part in my memory) but was still tracking all the way back to defend. Messi was out on the right wing at times, but I recall that he was dropping very deep, so deep he was almost taking himself out of the game. (Also, Messi was repeatedly dispossessed by a single defender!!! from this position, contributing to my–and others’–belief that he was hurting.)

    3. After the Adriano switch to left back, Villa was playing very centrally. With Messi dropping so deep and Iniesta kinda sorta playing the left wing, weren’t Barcelona playing basically a 4-5-1 and relying on the defensive backs Adriano and Alves to provide width in attack. (By the by, Adriano was either terrific or horrible in this game. His passes were atrocious too many times, but he wasn’t alone in this.) Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention, but I don’t remember Villa being involved much at all in the game and I think he would have been better suited in his usual role out left.

    4. Why Pedro for Keita? And didn’t Pedro come onto the left wing and Villa stayed central while we continued to rely on the ineffective Alves on the right wing? I said in the live blog that I thought Pedro would replace Adriano (and Cesc for Thiago). These moves would have allowed Barcelona to play the formation that has seemed most dangerous this year, with Cesc at the tip of the diamond combining with Messi, while Villa and Pedro provide width.. Instead Villa continued to clog up the middle and Thiago moved back to DM, where he would be replaced by Cesc. I can’t even write about this game without feeling like it was just a big messy pile of players. Did Sevilla do this to Barcelona, or did Barcelona do it to themselves?

    All that being said, as happy as I am to have Iniesta back and playing with soooo much brilliance at times, none of this would be anywhere near as big an issue if Iniesta had finished better on the day.

    I agree with much of what Kxevin has to say on this game, but the one thing I am in complete lockstep with him on is that Varas’ game was not all that spectacular. If you keep shooting the ball directly at him, he obviously has the reflexes to keep knocking it away. Barcelona was profligate in front of goal and that’s what cost them the win.

  59. October 24, 2011

    Record corrected above, the Party Boy “A Solas” will air on GolTV at 7 p.m. CT on Thursday, not Tuesday.

    • Josep
      October 24, 2011

      yep, I’m pretty excited for this as well. the show is quality.

  60. October 24, 2011

    So Phil Ball argues against Puyol/Mascherano, as well: 😀

    What is Mascherano? A defensive midfielder? Maybe. But when the occasion calls, he’s essentially a centre-half, all 1.74 metres of him. His anticipation of the play is first-class, like an Argentinean Bobby Moore, and his passing is simple but effective. He’s also very quick, and players like him, who are comfortable on the ball and who float somewhere between the defensive midfielder and the centre-back role, are the new vital ingredient in the post-modern game – as long as there’s a big guy around too, to clear those corners.

    • adopted cule
      October 25, 2011

      Seems to me Phil is saying that Mascherano is doing a great job back there, but the real point of most of Phil’s article is that ball playing center backs are vital for supporting possession and keeping offensive pressure on the opponent. Pique is Barcelona’s best ball playing center back. So you’re probably right in assuming that Phil would not think Puyol/Mascherano would be the best starting option. Pep has always said that the best way to keep the opposition from scoring is by maintaining possession and Phil is echoing this idea in this article. I happen to agree and that is why I think Pique is the first center back in the starting XI.

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