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

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  1. BarcaGirl_Indo
    December 3, 2011

    this manita is one week too early… /nothappy

    lol, jk…

  2. K_legit in Oz
    December 3, 2011

    Soccermet says that is Valdes’s 2nd yellow card of the we’re fine

    • Jim
      December 3, 2011

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

  3. December 3, 2011

    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.

  4. December 3, 2011

    That offside call was genuinely awful though. Not even close. No sympathy for the linesman there.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      December 3, 2011

      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…

      • geraldpep
        December 3, 2011

        Horrendous call!! Awesome Cerebro assists anyway.. up up Iniesta!

  5. Kimcelona
    December 3, 2011

    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

    • Jnice
      December 3, 2011

      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.)

  6. Gogah
    December 3, 2011

    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.

  7. blitzen
    December 3, 2011

    So we won? Manita? Cuenca scored? AWESOME!

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

  8. December 3, 2011

    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.

  9. December 3, 2011

    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.

    • Chiu
      December 3, 2011

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

  10. December 3, 2011

    What are the roster rules for the Champions League? How many youth teamers / backups can Barça get away with starting against BATE?

  11. Ryan
    December 3, 2011

    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!

    • K_legit in Oz
      December 3, 2011

      That’s where one Alexis Sanchez will prove his worth!

  12. Helge
    December 3, 2011

    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.

  13. Chiu
    December 3, 2011

    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.

  14. G6O
    December 3, 2011

    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?????

    • lyd
      December 3, 2011

      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!

  15. andrecito
    December 3, 2011

    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?

    • culegirl3
      December 3, 2011

      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.

  16. andrecito
    December 3, 2011

    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..

  17. mom4
    December 3, 2011

    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?

    • K_legit in Oz
      December 3, 2011

      yeah seems he had a mild concussion but he’ll be fine for the game at the Bernebeau!

      • mom4
        December 3, 2011

        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.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      December 3, 2011

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

      • mom4
        December 3, 2011

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

        • Chiu
          December 4, 2011

          not that much mom4, his sallary got cut as part of transfer saga, LOL..

  18. December 3, 2011

    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.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      December 3, 2011

      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.

      • December 4, 2011

        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.

      • Anonymous_69
        December 4, 2011

        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.

  19. 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?

    • Chiu
      December 4, 2011

      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.

  20. Anonymous_69
    December 4, 2011

    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…

    • Chiu
      December 4, 2011

      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.

    • Helge
      December 4, 2011

      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.

  21. BarcaGirl_Indo
    December 4, 2011

    Kevin’s review is up, guys.

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