Battle of the Blaugrana: Barcelona – Levante Liveblog

Well, Pep has rolled out a starting lineup I would never have expected, which is why I hate writing previews – I never get my lineup predictions correct.

Starting XI: Valdes, Puyol, Mascherano, Abidal, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Cuenca, Messi, Sanchez

Bench: Pinto, Maxwell, Alves, Thiago, Keita, Pedro, Villa

I have the feeling that this is going to be an interesting match.

Refreshments served shortly before 2:00 PM EST


    1. Thank goodness for that. I was sure I remembered shouting at the TV as he got yellows for time wasting in other games.

  1. Wonderful performance, I think that’s the best we’ve been in quite some time. The whole team looked great. Very encouraging and positive signs going into Clasico day.

    1. yes, one of the worst offside call ever..

      how can anyone did that to Iniesta? Iniesta, ffs!

      the only reasonable explanation is the linesman loves manita…

  2. Is it unreasonable that I’m upset about that 6th Don Andres gol being cancelled?

    The refs are messing up too much calls! And I don’t like it.

    Anyways, great team performance. Hope this is the start of our record-breaking run to victory lol

    1. Not unreasonable at all. I’m still annoyed. He deserved the goal and looked so happy to have scored.

      Silly, ref. (Made a silly call on Alexis in the 2nd half, too.)

  3. way too many incorrect offside goals against barca this season.
    there were two glaring bad calls today and it almost seems like the refs insist on favoring the opposition on ALL 50/50 situations.
    but what a game. clearly looks like we are shifting into a higher gear with the clasico looming.

  4. So we won? Manita? Cuenca scored? AWESOME!

    I couldn’t watch the game so I am looking forward to downloading it tomorrow. :))))

  5. Iniesta was sublime. So, so good. I missed him so much.

    He makes me want to write a crappy poetic homage filled with sniveling praise.

    Never get injured again, Andres. Please.

  6. ^^
    Mutual appreciation much?

    RT @barcastuff: Pep: “Girls maybe won’t like Cuenca very much, physically speaking, but at the pitch he does amazing things.”

    Worst. Wingman. Ever.

    1. where did u get that pic? his girl pretty hot. Cuenca just need to gain some weight and he dould physically better, LOL

  7. Cesc and Benzema both have 7 league goals. 😀

    With Villa and Pedro not scoring too frequently, we’re lacking a similar goal threat to Higuain, but still it’s pretty nice to have such a goal-striking midfielder in Cesc!

  8. 6 first team players (Pinto Pique Fontas Maxwell Thiago Pedro) and 12 B-team players will train on Mon and could be the squad for BATE game.

    Isn’t there a rule that each team has to name a 23-man squad list before the groupstages begin. And only players on this list are allowed to play?
    Then it would certainly be impossible to rest 13 A teamers.

  9. Nice to see we score again from set pieces. Last time Pique did the header from almost similiar set play by Xavi free kick. Now Cesc. Think we improve a bit in set pieces compare to last season.

  10. I don’t know what streams people were watching, but the one I was watching was in Spanish (so I didn’t understand the what they were saying) and after the Iniesta goal they changed the score on the screen to 6-0, then they rolled it back to 5-0, then they changed it to 6-0 again and switched to replays; as a result it did not become clear how the game was restarted because the picture resumed with the ball going into a throw in in the other half but the 6-0 stayed until the end so I assumed the goal was counted after all. I was really really pissed when I checked the official score 🙁 It is not like it was something where two players from both teams were close to the ball, the Levante defender was alone in vast amount of space and he took a mighty swing at the ball; how can you miss that?????

    1. When Alexis made it 5-0, i was hoping for a 8-0 to take to the clasico, just like last season.

      When Iniesta scored, i was really happy as 6 goals reminded me of the number we scored at the Bernabeu.

      When the goal got disallowed, i found the bright side thinking that a manita sends a appropriate message to EE and reminds us of the perfect game we pulled off last season.

      But yeah, how did he miss that ? Unbelievable!

  11. anybody else get that tingly feeling whenever cuenca gets the ball? his explosiveness to get around his defender and to the end line is pretty awesome..kind of reminds me of iniesta a couple of seasons be honest, i kind of thought that is what sanchez would do more of…but ive been surprised to see that he really doesnt get to the end line much with ball at his feet…why no 1-2’s with the midfielders in the box?? not dissing sanchez though…been getting super-excited to see him come on as of late..

    how about ballesteros’ tackle on cuenca when he almost broke his neck? i was a bit nervous there for a bit…btw…if you showed me a pic of ballesteros without his soccer uniform on…soccer player would be last thing i would guess he was!

    and i know its been said a million times before…but seriously…what in the world is up with playing leo 90 minutes EVERY game…at 3-0..or even 2-0…do you really think levante is going to start whipping us? i could see in there faces before the game the had no belief that they were going to win this game….if anybody cares to comment on this–can somebody please tell me that, other than winning the pichichi, is there even 1 benefit to keeping him on the field?

    1. As far as Alexis is concerned: I think we all forget he just started and was sidetracked early on in the season with an injury so not only does he have to get his form 100% back but he also has to get used to a whole new system that seems to change game to game. I’m confident his individual brilliance will shine through in the second half of the season.

  12. i definitely agree…and im not at all questioning his ability…just the specific play of him getting the ball close to the edge of the box, dishing off a quick pass, blazing past his defender, and receiving the ball again in a dangerous position..we havent seen that so much (i dont think)..i hadnt seen him play much before he joined the squad, but when i watched the highlight clips once we signed him, i kind of thought this kind of play was one of the reasons that pep got him..

  13. Cesc’c haircut?

    Worst haircut ever!

    But it seems to cause magical football powers so he should keep it.

    Iniesta was amazing. Messi’s passes to Iniesta for his 2 assists were pretty awesome as well. Cuenca continues to impress (nzm, you need to feed him more). Mascherano is NOT a makeshift defender anymore. Xavi was as cute excellent as ever.

    CL squad for the meeningless match? Thank you Pep!

    We’re so good—Let’s remember this the next time they happen to have a bad game.

    Has anyone heard anything about Puyi?

    1. Puyol against EE is critical. Dunno why I think this, just a feeling. Mascherano, Pique, and Abi can fill his spot very well but nobody can take his place.

    2. I don’t like his new hedgedog hair,
      however, between mullet and hedgedog, my vote goes to hedgedog hair, no question 😛

    3. Yeah, a mullet would be worse. But dang, a guy making that much money can afford a better haircut!

  14. I was thrilled with the performance today. We looked really, really sharp. It’s not a guarantee of anything obviously but this is exactly the type of football we needed to play before the Clasico.

    Pep has a serious selection headache now.

    1. Ikr, right? but that’s a good headache, we got too much quality players to leave on the bench..

      these are the players that IMO will play for El Clasico :
      VV, Alves, Abidal, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Villa.

      the other 3 I’m not really sure.

    2. I’m not sure Alves is a 100% certainty. I can easily examine a 3 man backline of Puyol Mascherano and Abidal.

      The others I agree with.

    3. The only players I feel confident that Pep will start are: Valdes, Abidal, Xavi, Iniesta, and Messi. After his two performances, I think it is safe to say that Sanchez will also start.

      I really want to be able to say Busquets and Alves, but knowing how unpredictable Pep is, we cannot be sure at all.

  15. We were so smooth last night. But still I think we have two more upper gears to go to. How did Messi missed those chances? He should have fur goals. But this performance opens more question than answers. The best performer, Cesc is a big goal threat. But he cannot be played in a traditional 4-3-3 formation. I am not so sure that we can try the 3–3 at Bernebeu. And what about Villa?

    1. I think the team was just relaxing a bit on 2nd half. Messi missed those chances because he’s just not entirely concentrate any longer, as the game hv been killed off. No worries: p. Next time he surely will score from such opening.

  16. Someone, I think Euler, gave the suggestion of starting Villa on the right and Sanchez on the left.The more I think about it, the more it makes sense.

    Villa on the left against Arbeloa is no good. Villa would never be able to hold the ball against Arbeloa’s physicality, he wouldn’t be able to out sprint him or beat him in the dribble.

    Sanchez vs Marcelo on the right would be an ally fight. It would constantly turn into one guy trying to beat the other guy to the ball in a sprint, one guy trying desperately to beat the other guy in the dribble, them two constantly tackling each other. Even though I like Sanchez’s chances of winning that personal duel, I don’t believe it is the best way to get the best out of him. And I definitely don’t believe it is the most effective way of exploiting Marcelo’s defensive game.

    How many times this season have we seen big, old, slow, bulky La Liga Strikers easily destroy Marcelo and cause a big amount of danger? And how many times have we seen fast, young, talented wingers being thwarted by Marcelo? I think any player with decent enough control has the ability to get by Marcelo. But I think the experienced players will have the most success against him.

    I see Villa having a fun time toying with Marcelo. Constantly staying behind him, on his blindside, always dragging him out of position, mentally torturing Marcelo. Then Sanchez on the other side would have a much better time against the more organized Arbeloa. Sanchez would definitely be able to hold the ball up against the slower Arbeloa. He definitely would be able to beat Arbeloa in the dribble. And he DEFINITELY would be able to sprint past him easily.

    Villa on the left and Sanchez on the right, we get two tough situations where the Madrid fullbacks have the advantage, and we have no one who can either hold the ball up effectively, nor fully sprint past their man if the chance comes up. Switch wings, and suddenly we gain an advantage. A subtle one, but these tiny details are what decide clasicos.

    If we win the battle against their fullbacks, it will force their wingers to drop deeper, and it can change the rhythm of the game. It will also make it harder for Messi to be triple marked, as it will only be Ramos and Pepe against him. And they will have to come high up to mark Messi when he drops. The space vacated by the advanced CB will be hard to cover when Sanchez and Villa are scaring their fullbacks (and hopefully staying wide to spread the 3 man defense).

    PS: One hope for the game is Xavi stays higher up the field.

    PSS: Cesc and Sanchez finding their feet right before the Clasico, Villa seemingly a little bit better, the results are finally coming our way, there’s really not much more we can currently before the big game. It would be nice to have Pedro fully fit, although I doubt he would start. It would be nice to have some sort of idea how we would lineup. But hey, you can’t everything…

    1. last time I checked, Arbeoala is doubtful for classico. During Arbeola absentee, EE play Lass as RB. With respect to Lass, I think he will have hard time against Alexis if he play RB.

    2. And another advantage of playing Sanchez on the right is that he scord two hell of a goal from there (albeit the second one was deflected, but it was still very nice!).
      The Madridistas will also have noticed those 2 goals and thus might want to double mark him. At some point though, there will simply not be enough players at hand.

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