Camp Nou – Where Teams Come to Die: Barca v Betis Liveblog

We’re looking to cut it back down to 5 points! Visca Barca!

…I don’t jinx my own team, okay?

Betis will no doubt be a tricky opponent–they’ve always given us trouble — but we’re playing in Camp Nou. CAMP NOU. No matter how much fight you put up, you’ll die eventually.

FCB lineup (official): Valdés, Puyol, Mascherano, Abidal, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc, Messi, Cuenca and Alexis.

3-4-3, no Alves or Pique.

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80 Comments

  1. Helge
    January 15, 2012

    No Piqué, but Puyol from the beginning… el Mister always comes up with new surprises!

  2. nzm
    January 15, 2012

    Think of Mom4 and hubby sitting at the game, won’t you?

    Tonight is special too:
    ~ Xavi’s 400th Liga game
    ~ Busquets 100th Liga game
    ~ Messi’s presentation to the crowd of the Ballon D’Or
    ~ the team’s presentation of the Club World Cup

    However, missing is Pep’s trophy. 🙁

  3. Helge
    January 15, 2012

    They certainly did not come to die 🙂

  4. incense
    January 15, 2012

    It’s a shame we started playing only after they equalised. Too many mistakes by our defenders. Despite the victory the team didn’t look very well.

  5. January 15, 2012

    I don’t jinx my own team, okay?

    You are trying hard though 😛

    • Ryan
      January 15, 2012

      I like to think there’s an EE equivalent of Kari, who started watching our game when Betis equalized and thus helped tempt fate for us to win (much to evil-Kari’s disdain). 🙂

      • January 15, 2012

        ^ This.

        My evil-self, but less awesome. And much lamer.

  6. January 15, 2012

    Let me be the 804656th person to say: why do we wait until we’re in trouble to play our best? After going up 2-0 our reaction was so predictable.

    Fair play to Betis though, who played really, really well.

    • xavi_purrnandez
      January 15, 2012

      it almost makes up for that bogus yellow card on Iniesta

      • nzm
        January 15, 2012

        If he hadn’t milked it, I’m sure that there would have been a penalty, but he did this little fake dive at the end which the ref wouldn’t have liked.

        • January 16, 2012

          Yes, I mean as much as I love Iniesta, and everyone crying foul over the yellow card, he did try to milk it. It was a penalty, his legs did get taken out, but like you said, he sort of exaggerated his falling and a ref is never going to like that.

  7. flyzowee
    January 15, 2012

    Sanchez like Henry. Every time we play them down the middle, they burst into life and score.

  8. BarcaGirl_Indo
    January 15, 2012

    thanks Betis for equalized earlier, so there’s enough times for the team to wake up.

  9. Kimcelona
    January 15, 2012

    Stop the press Barca got a penalty!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’m not gonna lie I went into “the world is gonna end” mode when Betis equalized BUT I was beating the table in stubborness, shouting, “we can do this!” as if me beating the table would will us to score lol!

    I hope for NO MORE matches like that at the Camp Nou. My pressure and my anxiety cant take it. This is one of those games where I saw Pep shouting at players after we conceded that second goal…he needs to do this all match long in away games it seems.

    Alexis was my MOTM. The guy worked hard and was causing problems all match. Iniesta was good too but please Don Andres CHUT DE BOL! more often.

    I dunno but I think the midfield needs to go back to doing midfield things. They’ve not been as spectacular this season, IMO. Too many times the ball is given away in midfield and the defenders have to scramble and run around like headless chickens to prevent a goal. Not cool…

  10. Kimcelona
    January 15, 2012

    Apparently Alexis said he wants to get the 3 points on Wednesday against Madrid. LOL! Now everyone is making fun of him.
    Someone should explain the Copa to him 🙂

    • Chiu
      January 15, 2012

      he’s just too excited to repeat the win like liga match 🙂

      last time i check, serie-a gave 3 point for a win in copa italia hahaha

  11. January 15, 2012

    Eklavya says:
    January 15, 2012 at 11:27 am
    Betis always find a way of troubling us, even if we eventually win.

    (Yes, it’s the last time)

  12. jordi™
    January 15, 2012

    I never realised the clean sheet record stretched to last season. April to mid January. Onwards to a new record !

    • January 15, 2012

      We were close the record (13). We had 12. Fudging Betis.

  13. January 15, 2012

    Goddamn how classy is Pep? (via barcastuff)

    Guardiola: “Penalty on Iniesta not given? If the referee didn’t see it, it’s no penalty. But this time we will appeal Iniesta’s yellow card”

    Guardiola: “Referees making many mistakes this season, do I have to hold back when talking about them? No, they don’t have an easy job.”

    • January 15, 2012

      Though by saying he’s appealing, he’s basically saying they were totally wrong and that it was penalty, lol. Love Pep and his politely insulting ways.

      Referee post match was trying to say he gave Iniesta the yellow not for a dive, but for protesting/dissent. Which, of course, totally BS as Iniesta says: “The referee already had his hand in his pocket [for the yellow] before I could say anything”.

      • blitzen
        January 15, 2012

        Yup. This club so rarely protests or even comments on referees’ decisions, so you know they are really upset about this one. As am I.

        And btw, what is going on with all the handballs this year? Some of them are unavoidable, but I can’t remember the team getting this many cards for handsies before.

        • January 15, 2012

          Getting in touch with their inner Argies? Dunno, honestly. Weird.

        • Ryan
          January 15, 2012

          One could say it’s getting out of hand!

        • nzm
          January 16, 2012

          Ya – all the handballs. Hasn’t Messi had got 2 yellow cards in 2 consecutive games for handballs? I think that his yellow against Espanyol last week was also for one.

          Same with own goals – although this works in Barca’s favour. 4 owngoals awarded to Barca. I think that it’s higher than the penalty count! 😀

  14. January 15, 2012

    BTW, this really is nothing new. Refs have *always* been this bad. We just usually crush everyone so emphatically no one really talks about it.

    We need to get back to that level. Today’s response to the draw was fantastic, but — and this is just my totally spoiled, demanding and expectant cule perspective — it really shouldn’t have come to that. Sloppiness was incredible and the lack of intensity was obvious. Pep definitely sees it but there’s only so much he can do.

    Like the momentum coming into Clasico though…

  15. Olufestus
    January 15, 2012

    carles puyol hasnt lost any of his last 50 games for barcelona 42wins 8 draws

  16. nia
    January 15, 2012

    Just when i though Camp Nou was the mecca of Barca, they conceded two goals. Like Chef Ramsey says, “F*** me”. I was in shock as i thought we were going to win comfortably. The defense was shockingly bad today and to be fair to Betis, they were not prepared to roll over and die for us either, guess they didn’t get the memo. I hope tonight lights the fire under the team to get back to work cause at this rate we’ll be giving the pasillo to EE, ARGGG!!!

    I’d like to give a shoutout to Alexis and VV, played welll tonight.

  17. G6O
    January 15, 2012

    Why is it that we go up 2-0 with such an ease and then simply can not score another goal and let the other team back in the game? Not the first time it has happened this season, fortunately they equalized in the 50th minute, not the 85th as other teams did so we had time to react.

    Also, it is really rare to see so many sloppy plays from this team – lots of misplaced passes, poor coordination of runs, etc. Very worrying. It wasn’t even a tactical problem that made the game difficult (although that was an issue too), execution was simply horrible…

  18. BarcaGirl_Indo
    January 15, 2012

    I know we can’t expect our player to destroy every team with 4-0, 5-0 every single match.

    But it’s just sad when I saw them played like against Espanyol and Betis. The team looked disjointed in my eyes.
    The opponents played well, credit to them, but it’s also a fact that we made it more difficult for ourself. Why need an equalizer to woke them up?

    We have great players and great coach, but something is missing. Is it 3-4-3? Too much experiment? Lack of “want”? Sloppiness? I don’t know.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      January 15, 2012

      Oh, and from what I heard from my TV, Camp Nou was loud last night. I’m happy for that.

      • Oil_Can
        January 15, 2012

        I was very surprised that shortly after Betis scored the equaliser the whole crowd roared into a massive chant trying to give the Barcelona team a lift. It was amazing, Camp nou isn’t a typically intimidating stadium because of its fans, because usually on the field is where the opposition feels most of the pressure but its good that for once the crowd got involved and helped the team lift their game.

        • Ryan
          January 15, 2012

          They’re loud for some games – recall that VanPersie complained that he couldn’t hear the whistle because of the noise in the Camp Nou. 🙂

          • nzm
            January 16, 2012

            Ha! After that incident, we rewatched the Spain – Holland World Cup Final.

            Guess who kept playing the ball after a whistle had gone for offside? 😀

            At least he’s consistently hard of hearing!

          • Chiu
            January 16, 2012

            Good point about the Van Persi in WC final, nzm hahaha 🙂

      • nzm
        January 16, 2012

        They were loud because mom4 was at the game and leading the cheering!

        • Chiu
          January 16, 2012

          wow the effect of mom4 presence was amazing 🙂

  19. Jafri
    January 15, 2012

    Hey Kari/Calvin/ Other moderators reading this; If I want to send in a picture, so that maybe hopefully you might consider putting it up in the upcoming Clasico articles, where can I send it? No pressure, just a picture for your consideration 🙂

  20. Chiu
    January 15, 2012

    I was too sleepy to wake up, but just watched the highlight. Some thoughts:

    – We scored two goals in 12 minutes mark, which usually a sign of another steamrolling in Camp Nou. But Betis equalized and we have to fight back to score the winning goals. What’s wrong? Too relax after leading, conserving energy for classico, another glitch with 3-4-3 or Betis played damn good?

    – Alexis was involved in three goals. Look as if he’s finally integrating well with Barca style. His low shot for third goal was powerful and reminding me of his classico goal. Pleased for Alexis.

    – We’re back to 5 points behind EE. Still long way to go and I want to keep my “blind optimism” we’ll win la liga 🙂 . For those watching F1 and fans of Ferrari. Few seasons ago, Kimi Raikkonen was trailing 18 points behind Lewis Hamilton with 2 races remaining (max 20 points available). I rationally thought it’s almost impossible that Hamilton wouldn’t get those 2 points to seal the championship. But deep down, I keep my optimism, whatever could happened (accident, machine failure, chaotic rainy race and other bad things I could pray for Hamilton). And finally Kimi won both races to get maximum points available and Hamilton super unluckily got only 1 points because of skidding to the grass when heading to pitsop in Shanghai and mechanical glitch in early lap in Interlagos Brazil. That’s one of the most dramatic season ending in F1 history, IMO.

    • barca96
      January 16, 2012

      Wow. I did not know that but I do remember the last race in Brazil a few years back where the title was supposedly won by Massa until Hamilton came in collected just enough points to win the title.
      That was really an emotional race.

  21. Chiu
    January 15, 2012

    Anyone have a video link for CWC trophy and messin ballon dor presentation before the match? thanks

  22. There is no doubt that Guardiola and others have been really graceful with the handling of the penalty fiasco that is going on. I read somewhere that Spanish Federation is keen not to have Barca win a fourth title in a row. I thought that allegation was totally bogus. But now with every week passing with such decision, there has to be something in those allegations. Real Mallorca has a goal diallowed for a starnge offside call – Not only that the Real Mallorca player was clearly onside, he was also in his half when he received the pass. When you see that you have to ask whether there is a conspiracy. All our away draws and defeats this season had atleast one perfect penalty call turned down, had two of them been awarded we would have been above Madrid. But there is no doubt that we have to raise our game away from home.

    I believe Guardiola had played enough of the nice guy. I would like to him to make these calls a big issue in press ocnfereneces. If we don’t build this pressure, we will see more and more calls of the same type happening.

    • Chiu
      January 16, 2012

      It’s really disgusting if true!!!

    • Gogah
      January 16, 2012

      I agree.
      if pep is indeed the man who leaves nothing to chance, he should definitely step up and speak about this issue.
      Its almost like the refs think they are doing us a damn favour by giving calls that ought to be given.
      who the hell are they to balance the game? Arrgh!

      • barca96
        January 16, 2012

        That is too aweful to be true. The same could be said about UEFA wanting us to beat Chelsea in 2009.

        If someone who follows Madrid could do a count of the number if times a match they get calls in their favor, it would be awesome cause then we could really count how many points they should’ve lost and how many we should’ve won if not for bad refereeing decisions.

        That is why we need video technology so that no human errors are made.

        • Nav
          January 16, 2012

          To be honest, all this conspiracy talk is a little bit desperate.

          • just listenin
            January 16, 2012

            I don’t think anyone is suggesting it is a conspiracy on the level of people sitting in a darkened room, with a mysterious voice on a speaker phone in the “Heman Barca Haters Club” saying “we must stop that Barca from winning at any costs”. But, I will say again, it is pretty naive to think that people of power and influence, not getting what they want having spent a lot of money to try and do so, don’t have the ability to alter perception, make people insecure, manipulate and influence behavior,… happens everyday. We’re not talking about people who aren’t competitive and driven, what varies widely among such people is how ethical they are in their pursuits. So one man’s “conspiracy” is another’s power play and political influence. The latter crops it head if you try to get three or four coworkers together to decide where to go to lunch for goodness sake, so there is nothing far fetched at all in the idea that the pressure is being turned up and a variety of tactics are being used to try to change outcomes. (Note: see all government and bureaucratic interactions globally for countless examples).

  23. OSBAG
    January 16, 2012

    I think pep is being unnecessarily obstinate with this 3-4-3 formation. From the beginning, it was obvious that there was too much space on the defense for Castro and co to exploit.. I even thought alves was coming in to correct that only for him to play indecisively between) and RW… 3-4-3 is good when we are controlling possession which wasn’t the case yesterday

    Against Madrid I would surely prefer a solid back four to three. Three in the midfield could still manage to control possesion what with messi falling back to drag carvalho/pepe out of position..

    • Oil_Can
      January 16, 2012

      Is it the fault of the formation or is it that our Midfield and Attacking players just give up too much possession cheaply?

      In all honesty Against Espanyol our defence looked solid especially Pique, the Betis attackers looked a lot more composed and threatened more than Espanyol, but if we just held onto the ball longer and held more possession then maybe we wouldn’t have conceded those critical goals.

      you could see that our players were slightly out of form, Messi at times took an extra touch when he would have usually made a key pass or shot, Iniesta made direct dribbles but instead of making something out of them they just fizzled out, players were over stepping their runs and players were taking too long to pass. and so forth.

      Our Defence isn’t playing bad at all, they are positioning themselves very well and they bring the ball forward very comfortably. but if the opposition get the ball forward more than they should of course our defence will not be able to stop everything. 3 defenders or 4 doesn’t matter because when you take a player out of midfield to put in an extra defender you just make the job for the midfielders slightly tougher.

      • 3-4-3 against a team like Real Betis is a risk. They actually tored down both the wings, and that’s why Mascherano had some serious shaky period as Puyol or Abidal was getting drawn to the flanks. The biggest problem for me is Cesc Fabregas. He has been exceptional in going forward and creating chances. But it’s when we need to consolidate and control possession he looks a bit out of place in the formation. He is constanly trying to play the false 9 and false 10 role.

        • Srini
          January 16, 2012

          Umm.. The 3-4-3 bogey seems to be a bit lame for me now. We used basically a 3-4-3 against the strongest offense in the La Liga ..on their ground in the Santiago Bernabeu to overcome them.

          It is all about a bit more of focus. I have little to crib about a 4-2 win at home for anything else is asking for too exacting standards.

        • Oil_Can
          January 16, 2012

          we surely won’t expect Pep to back away from his formation, if he were to change our approach for other teams it would conflict with our philosophy. Also Betis can exploit that space all they want, but the fact of the matter is if they don’t have the ball they cannot exploit that space, if we focus on keeping possession better or applying more intense pressure the less our weaknesses seem.

          • Chiu
            January 16, 2012

            I agree, its more about about focus from the team and concentration in executing the strategy. Pep have decided the formation he choose knowing all the consequences that we might face. Plus we hv been drilling this 3-4-3 for half season, so there should be nothing new for the players anymore.

  24. flyzowee
    January 16, 2012

    The 2nd Betis goal was scored from a position where a holding mid (busi) should normally be able to close down the space.

    But when youre being asked to drop into the backline when under attack then theres a gaping hole in front of the backline.

    • G6O
      January 16, 2012

      Don’t forget that Iniesta lost the ball very cheaply and this ultimately lead to the defensive breakdown and the goal. You can’t afford to lose the ball easily if you’re playing the 3-4-3 and we did that a lot today with our sloppy passing

      • nzm
        January 16, 2012

        Iniesta annoyed me with all the balls lost too cheaply last night. He, Cesc and Messi are all guilty of that – Xavi too sometimes. Last night Busquets was also giving balls away.

        Messi or Iniesta losing the ball somewhere around halfway virtually guarantees that the opposition is going to create mayhem in their half of the pitch.

  25. Srini
    January 16, 2012

    What incenses me about Iniesta’s booking is this – it is a clear foul by a defender who is fooled by Andres’ Cruyff turn and a penalty. Not getting penalty calls seems to be kosher for this year’s Barca’s season, but being booked when legitimately earning a penalty and not getting it? That takes the bloody cake.

    Am glad that Pep is going to voice his dissent and going to appeal the bloody call. I would even find it just if the referee does not get to manage another game in the Liga this season – his excuse about the yellow for Iniesta showing “dissent” is pitiable and unbecoming of his supposed role.

    Why is the best football league in the world – with the best players, the best tacticians, the best exponents of the game – run by absolute duffers and stark idiots as referees? Beats me.

  26. January 16, 2012

    Refs or no refs, we should simply just play better on the road. A team of this quality should not be relying on a late penalty call in a close game to win the 3 points. This team has the quality to make it so that the ref doesn’t even matter. Pointing to possible conspiracies or whatnot is not going to accomplish anything really, only paint Barcelona in a poorer light.

    I’m not too worried about giving up a 2 goal lead yesterday. Hell we could have lost the game. Full credit to Betis who played really well. I can’t remember the last time someone played so well against us at the Camp. Our possession stats were quite low (I think 58% only at one point). We need games like this from time to time to rid us of our invincibility delusion (at home anyway). This might even help our away form who knows.

    As for the season and the gap from the leaders. Again, I’m not worried. 18 games have been played thus far, which leaves 20 more to go. Not even at the half way point. I highly doubt Madrid wins 19 games (supposing they lose the one at the Camp). Even ONE draw out of 19 for EE puts the league back in our control. Long way to go- excited about the challenge as it is something new in Pep’s era.

  27. January 16, 2012

    And on Iniesta- minus the lost balls (esp. the one that led to quite a nice goal for Betis), I had to say:

    HIS FIRST TOUCH IS UNREAL. THE best bar none. I have to rewind so many of his touches over and over to appreciate just what the HELL or HOW the hell he managed to turn or control. Awesome AWESOME talent and I am SO happy he is ours.

    • Ryan
      January 16, 2012

      That one touch he had after receiving the ball from Abidal, where he both controlled and turned past his opponent, was pure magic. 🙂

      • January 16, 2012

        YES! That was AWE-mazing. Makes it look so very simple but to have the mind and touch to do it in game that quick is something else. Crazy

        • Chiu
          January 16, 2012

          His first touch is getting better and better, sometimes we don’t realise how magisterial it is because we see it week in week out. World class

  28. BarcaGirl_Indo
    January 16, 2012

    no matter what the formation is, 4-3-3, 3-5-2, 3-4-3, 1-9-0 if we played with lack of intesity and keep giving the ball away, we just inviting the enemy to hurt us..

    the difference is, 4-3-3 is safer when the midfield and front is careless with the ball..

    so I don’t think 3-4-3 is the problem here.. we won El Clasico and CWC final with that formation..
    but I might be wrong..

  29. BarcaGirl_Indo
    January 16, 2012

    I don’t like to talk about referee, but this season so far the refs are really shameful..

    1 or 2 games, fine, they are humans and their job is not easy.. move on..

    but how many games now the refs suddenly “blind” or forgot that there are rules to follow when it comes to Barça.. like, you know, handball on penalty box = penalty, foul on penalty box = penalty..

  30. barca96
    January 16, 2012

    MawalTrees
    9 January 2012 10:27PM
    Personally I think people are getting carried away. For me his touch is overrated given how small he is, his eyes are nearer to the ball etc. There’s all those rumours about him being some sort of Barca cyborg, and lets not forget Liverpool with Bellamy absolutely murdered him not too long ago, along with the rest of those overrated pansies at Barca.

    Barca have been gifted 2x CL by Man Utd, gifts so generous they came wrapped with confetti sprinkled on top.

    I’ve seen him play a few times now and am convinced Shawcross would av him, plus there’s the Fifa bias against Wayne Rooney. He only has to turn up twice a year to win the La Liga.

    No he’s not a proper footballer, no wags, no scandals, has he ever even been red carded before? It’s all hype and not the sort of thing grown men should be wetting their boxers over imho….

    I suppose i’d sign him at my club but no more than 10million given the risks involved.

    I just don’t know what to say…and he received 11 likes for that comment.

    • blitzen
      January 16, 2012

      his eyes are nearer to the ball

      I’m dying. 😆

    • nzm
      January 16, 2012

      But then, to be fair, he had this to say about Messi, one day later!

      10 January 2012 11:03AM

      I sort of see where you are coming from but the players of yore you mentioned where not revered to the extent Messi is today.. To compare in hindsight say Nedved’s entire career with Messi at 24 hardly makes sense. Once Messi hangs up his boots he will be considered right up there with Maradona but possibly not Pele. Pele’s playing stats are not of this world nor his World Cup count. Messi could retire tomorrow and his legend will just grow and grow.

      Messi is the best because he does the special moments like the greats you mentioned but he’s a step ahead [unlike Ronaldo], that inbetween the special moments he’s still on par with Iniesta and Xavi. That’s the difference. He offers plenty of character, but his desire to win is so great, his discipline and emotional control so perfected you really have to study him hard to see the character out there on the pitch. He’s like that character Jason Bourne. You can’t watch swigging beer and chatting to your mates, you have to sit still and concentrate cos Messi is so subtle. His skills are great but his inteligence, temperament and timing in my view are even greater. He’s utterly deadly, a total predator, searching and probing all the time for the opponents weaknesses and completely prepared to exploit them when the moment comes.

      He’s one of the few players who probably can’t be any better than he is at this stage in his career. Wish I could say the same about Stewart Downing. And you defo can’t say the same about Ronaldo.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2012/jan/09/lionel-messi-ballon-dor

  31. yassir (Formerly Extreme barca fan)
    January 16, 2012

    Abidal just renewed …………….YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY

  32. lyd
    January 16, 2012

    \V/ – our Keeper of the Peace, had a really good game. Even though peace was disrupted twice but he indirectly kept a clean sheet for himself as both the goals were the consequence of defensive errors. Especially the 2nd goal as Abidal totally made a horrible decision while tracking back, which meant Busquetes had to leave Cruz unmarked. I don’t want to be
    too harsh on Mascherano for leaving the scorer onside. It was a well worked goal for Betis.

    I hope Pinto will take \v/’s performance as an inspiration!

  33. Calvin
    January 16, 2012

    The review is coming folks. This was such a great game I keep watching it over and over and not actually writing the review.

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