No Room For Error: Barcelona-Valencia

Liga Preview: Barcelona-Valencia, Sunday 3:30pm ET

Didn’t we justย do this? I thought we already played them (and won) 2-0 at the Camp Nou. I thought we’d eliminated Valencia and moved on. Turns out we’ve been in multiple competitions this whole time. Leverkusen isn’t some weird northern Spanish club. Or so they tell me. Valencia remains southern, however, and certainly Spanish. And also capable of beating Stoke on a Thursday night. But it wasn’t raining and it wasn’t all that cold, I don’t think. Mehmet Topal don’t give a crap about your English-centric theories.

So it’s La Liga, so it’s Valencia, so it’s a 13-point gap to overcome now that Racing has failed to score in the Bernabeu (and had a man sent off for an innocuous handball and yaddayadda). We’ve heard it before and now it’s time to pony up and get on your horse and Charge of the Light Brigade and Custer’s Last Stand and Crazy Horse and infinite equine-related references that mean we can’t lose because now pride is at stake. Gallopin’ geebers, we’ve got to get some goals. At least we’re not at the Mestalla where the field is cut up and full of people who aren’t wearing blaugrana in the stands.

We’re at home, we’re at the Camp Nou. We’re where we’re usually safe (except a couple of draws) and where we know what the field conditions will be before we start. Xavi, Busquets, and Adriano all trained regularly, though Dani Alves didn’t because he’s suspended from the Valencia match and might as well rest up as much as possible. I imagine he’s running just one marathon per day in order to do so. Keita has also returned, which is a wonderful relief for our defensively minded midfield sections. Afellay trained a bit on the field, which is wonderful news.

Valdes, Adriano, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc, Messi, Alexis

Tello will have to come off the bench and play some solid minutes because he’s exceptional like that, but I think we can do this. I think it’s the Camp Nou and we’ll blank them blanekity blank blanks. Official Prediction: 2-0. A double for Messi and another clean sheet for Valdes.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.


  1. barca96
    February 18, 2012

    Sorry for the OT but the article on GOAL “the-real-liga-table-with-correct-refereeing-decisions” is down.

    Why would it be down? Did someone hack it or what?

    • IamXavi6
      February 19, 2012

      It’s down. But why would you want to read that article anyway? lazy journalism that does nothing to deflect any “whinger’ tags that may be thrown at Cules.

      It’s so subjective that it’s irrelelvant. The bottom line is we are 13points behind and that is entirely our own fault.

      As for the game – Think we will win 3-1 but it wont be pretty nor easy.

        • February 19, 2012

          I would argue that nothing in the world is truly objective .

          of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers : having reality independent of the mind

          Is there any phenomena that can be understood, discussed, etc. by humans without first being subjected to our individual minds?

        • SoccerMom
          February 19, 2012

          Maybe not subject, but very suspect!

          Hallo to you Bassam. Some golazos over there lately.

      • G6O
        February 19, 2012

        I don’t see which of their assessments of the calls you can dispute. If anything, they don’t even reveal the full picture because it just subtracts and adds the goals/penalties that should or should not have been called and a lot of the calls that went in Real’s favor were when Real were down a goal or level and then they proceeded to score more goals so the score became more lopsided, i.e. those were the kind of decisions that turned the whole game around and it is not clear how it would have gone had those situations been called correctly.

        This season there have been a lot of incorrect calls in Real’s favor and a lot of incorrect calls against Barca this seasons, with very few incorrect calls against Real and essentially none in Barca’s favor. That’s a fact. How much significance to give to that fact is up to one’s own judgement of the seasons, but the fact remains. I have commented a lot of on the issue and it has been mistakenly taken as whining. It isn’t, I am just pointing out that in a season in which due to injuries and fatigue we have not been able to consistently play at our very best, those calls do make a difference – it is easy to gloss over such situations when you give teams 5-0 thrashings, however when games are close you can still be the better team and deserve the win but because you’re not able to score 5 goals, one or two such calls can be the difference between the three points and a draw or a loss.

    • mega_tajh
      February 19, 2012

      I read that Madrid extremist forced hand. via Barcastuff facebook

      • February 19, 2012

        lol yes, us extremists are out there. Next on our bucket list, BFB!

        Then Kxevin’s new apartment! *Evil laugh*

        • mega_tajh
          February 19, 2012

          Lol Bassam sacarsim is that hard to read over the internet?

        • SoccerMom
          February 19, 2012

          I am picturing Kxevin coming home after a long bike ride to find Bassam sacked out on the new sofa with chorizo and olive crumbs on the area rug with blue and white scarves draped hapharzardly over the spare mod furniture and Mahou rings on the low-level coffee table calling out, “Hola Blog Boss!” while getting fingerprints on the remote and Kxevin really losing it.

      • February 19, 2012

        I like that you’re giggling about the article when there have been multiple articles here in the last week about not blaming the referees.

  2. mega_tajh
    February 19, 2012

    I see Keita starting for some wierd reason. 3-1 to us Alexis messi cesc!!!!! Ps after pep lasting pc any1 worried he may not renew citing rest and stress as the reason? He do seem very worn out this season also.

  3. February 19, 2012

    so far, there are 9 comments in this article and 4 from the evil Bassam? ๐Ÿ˜€
    where are the cules?

    well, let’s win this game!

    • nzm
      February 19, 2012

      Bassam’s feeling more confident about coming back here now that there’s a sniff of victory for Madrid in at least one competition.

      Let the man have his day.

      He’s always been magnanimous in the face of Madrid defeat, so let’s see if he remains that way when they win. ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. nzm
    February 19, 2012

    In the week preceding the next big Barca game, Barca TV (here in Barcelona) plays all the past games against the next opponent, so this week it’s been a Barca vs. Valencia slugfest.

    Apart from the older humdinger Rivaldo hat-trick game that earned Barca 4th place and UCL position some years ago, last night they showed 2 more recent games: the 08/09 game with Hleb, Gudjohnsen, Yaya, Milito, Marquez et al, and the 09/10 game for which Pep was suspended and Tito managed.

    Both games were significant for one reason: Messi was subbed off!

    Was 09/10 the last season in which Messi was subbed off – apart from when he received the Ujfalusi ankle injury in the 10/11 Atletico Madrid game?

    • Jim
      February 19, 2012

      Pep: โ€œI canโ€™t work in a club that is so demanding if I donโ€™t feel it fully.โ€

      Don’t know if he’s using this to keep the players motivated or not but I’m not able to get my head around what Pep is looking for. Does he want to be in charge of a top world club? If so, there is nobody in a better place than him. He has complete support of club, players, fans and media as far as I can see. Compare that with Mourinho, Wenger or AVB. It doesn’t get better than this.

      Is he saying he’d like to be in charge but he can’t stand the stress? Sorry, but football management isn’t the job for you then. Stress is what Wenger is experiencing just now. What is causing the stress that all other football managers don’t have? Would he rather be the Rangers’ manager Ally McCoist? I have to say that part of the stress could be resolved by signing a longer term contract. It is on offer and would remove this constant angst he seems to feel about whether the team is responding or not. I know SAF is on the same contract but there is never this palaver about resigning or whinging about the demands of the job and he is a pensioner.

      If one of his players’ contracts was up in the summer and they stalled like this would he not be irritated at his inability to plan for next season? What are the board meant to do atm? Should they be looking around for a replacement and would that help his stress levels? He’s not going to be out of a job in the summer whatever happens which is more than a lot of the Spanish people he was talking about recently could say atm. If we lose the league is he going to be happy to walk away from the job leaving questions about whether or not he could have done more with the talent he had available or is he hoping for a back to back CL to leave on a high?

      I’m a great fan of Pep and there is no doubt that leading Barcelona is a difficult task but he is doing it well, it is going well and he needs to appreciate what he has and make a decision either way. For me, it is becoming an irritant.

      Is he going to feel it more fully elsewhere? Am I being too harsh? I don’t know but listening this morning to the football writers on Sky dismissing a story about him replacing Wenger and laughing about the remote possibility of him walking kinda got me thinking about what Pep himself wants to happen next.

      • February 19, 2012

        I still think he is using it as a motivational tool for the players.

        Oh and replacing Wenger? Don’t make me laugh

      • barca96
        February 19, 2012

        I agree with you 100%. I felt the same way but didn’t dare to speak up cause it’s something sensitive.

        One thing that I would to add is that a lot of fans are saying that Pep is stressed out so he should take a sabbatical.

        First of all, all the managers are stressed. It’s part of their job. Which job doesn’t make you stressed out?

        And we are fans of the club so we should demand for the best of the club, not that of Pep.

        He is getting paid ya know. It’s not like he’s doing it for charity or something.

        He knows that he is the right man for the job, he knows that he got the full backing of the players, the board and of the whole city of Barcelona in fact minus the Espanyol fans.

        So what more does he want?

        • February 19, 2012

          To spend more time with his wife and two daughters? To pursue interests outside of football? To not loose the 4 hairs that are desperately clinging to his head?

          The fact is Pep is fully within his right to want to take some time off to pursue whatever it is he wants to pursue.

          The issue right now is that he is not making it easy on the club to prepare for the future because his contract is up in ~4.5 months. The uncertainty is something that leaves a lot of fans worried, and should leave the club hierarchy worried as well.

          However, I don’t think Pep will leave the club. He is always looking out for the best interests of the club and leaving the club in turmoil because he selfishly wanted to wait to the last minute to decide if he was going to stay isn’t in his nature. I still think it’s a motivational tool, a wild card he is holding onto longer than he has the last couple years because of the difficult position the team finds themselves in in the league.

          • Jim
            February 19, 2012

            I have a feeling that male pattern baldness won’t necessarily be cured by giving up the day job ๐Ÿ™‚

            The other two are valid reasons and only doable if you happen (like Pep) to be a millionaire. However, you are unlikely to capture the sympathies of the ordinary working ( or non working) population should you decide to thus indulge yourself.

            I think you are right that had he decided to go I would have hoped that he would already have let the club know. I just want a decision, not the current humming and hawing and bleating about the difficulties of a job that any other manager would die for. Just keep your thoughts to yourself and decide in good time ( by Christmas? ) each year.

          • February 19, 2012

            I would find it hard to hold it against Pep if he decided that instead of staying in the job when his heart and mind weren’t fully in it he decided to forego all the money he could be making (even half-assing the job) to spend the time with his family.

            If a person has the means, how can you fault them for putting their family above making more money?

    • nzm
      February 19, 2012

      He won’t sign until it’s all lined up for next season. He’s not letting the board get away with changing anything in the last minute.

      He’s now waited for critical player renewals, all of his coaching staff to renew, and now I’m hedging that he wants to know what the pre-season plans are and what players he can buy if there are any such plans for that. Zubi’s recently been in the UK sussing that out, and he didn’t go for nothing.

      You have to take Pep’s comment with a salt grain or two. There have been threats from the “other side” as well with regards to scouting for Pep replacements.

      Face it, there’s no better time for him to leave if he’s looking to do that. Arsenal will be looking for a new manager if they know what’s good for them; Tottenham will replace Redknapp if he takes on the England job; AvB at Chelsea is on shaky ground as he admits that he’s lost some of the players’ confidence; Ferguson must be getting ready to hang it all up and enjoy the time that he has left; Man City has always had an interest in Pep. Cruyff would leap tall buildings to get him to Ajax, and there’s Inter too.

      I don’t think that he will leave Barca, but he will stay strictly on his own terms and he will commit when he can see that the path ahead is clear for him. If that crystal ball remains murky in the areas that he wants to control, he’ll be out.

  5. barca96
    February 19, 2012

    Albelda (Valencia): “In the Liga, the team with a bit more luck is leading. Barcelona didn’t win some games despite deserving it.”

    That’s why I don’t buy into some people’s claim including some authors here that it’s down to our poor away form.

    It’s not like Madrid has been smashing every team. It’s not like they were the better team in all their matches. They got a some luck, decisions going their way that helped them to achieve all 3 points. That is something that we can’t deny. They have off games as well.

  6. Laurentiu88
    February 19, 2012

    Any news on Valencia line up? Read that Banega injured his ankle when filling the gas as he forgot to break the car properly; says Alba is also doubt with flu…

    but the real good news is that Xavi is back..

    • February 19, 2012

      Wow, poor guy!

      Er, I think you mean “brake” and not “break”? I have a funny mental image right now ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. February 19, 2012

    Ever Banega got into an unfortunate accident while refueling his car, which ran over his ankle requiring surgery via Marca and AS.

    If we think that we don’t have luck on our side, we should know that someone is having it worse. We could be a lot worse..

  8. Gogah
    February 19, 2012

    Pep Guardiola is the shit!
    He knows it and he knows you know it too.
    Hence the delay.

      • Gogah
        February 19, 2012

        sorry if it startled some.
        note the keyword is THE. A lack of it would have led to barca 96’s confusion.
        ‘The shit’ in slang means the real deal, the boss, the best, el puto jefe. hope that clears it.

        • nzm
          February 19, 2012

          Not startled at all. Just wondering about the context of your whole statement.

          Pep’s one of the most unassuming, unselfish, non-egotistical coaches out there.

          He doesn’t toot his own horn, doesn’t take credit for anything that he knows he can’t do without the team – THIS team, and you certainly won’t find him delaying his contract because he thinks that he’s the best.

          In an above comment, I outlined some possible reasons for his delay, and I’ll stand by them in preference to your thoughts that it’s all about his ego and that he’s the boss.

  9. nzm
    February 19, 2012

    BTW – for those interested in basketball.

    In 10 mins time, Barcelona and Real Madrid are due to start playing the final of the Copa del Rey.

  10. February 19, 2012

    As I read the Guardiola comment, it’s a very simple statement of doubt from a coach who must be riven by it. I think he’s saying that it takes 1000 percent to coach and lead his team the way that he does, and if there is a shard of doubt in his mind that he can’t lead fully and in the manner in keeping with his desires, then he will stop.

    But he has always said that. It isn’t pressure, as if there could be any more pressure than taking over a team that hadn’t won silver in two seasons, then grabbing glory, time after time. It’s just that the difficulties of coaching a motivating a group of millionaires to a degree sufficient to get the best out of them will tax even the best coach.

    –The article about what the Liga table would be like without X or Y refereeing decision is bullshit. Plain and simple.

    • nzm
      February 19, 2012

      The team and training management had a bonding lunch together in a Barceloneta restaurant in Barcelona earlier this week.

      The players left Pep in no doubt that they wish him to continue.

      They toasted to the rest of the season, using a slogan (A por ellos) which translates to “Let’s Go Get ‘Em”.

      Now it’s up to the team to do the best by Pep.

      • Jim
        February 19, 2012

        And for Pep to do the best by the team ?

        • nzm
          February 19, 2012

          Doesn’t he always? ๐Ÿ˜€

          In Pep we trust, even when we purse our lips at the latest weird line-up, and question his sub tactics. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Laurentiu88
      February 19, 2012

      why is such art bullshit? or making such argument?

      it is not an excuse but it does offer a different picture

      the fact that one can point to so many decisions is a fact and in a league where two teams are so strong each decisions matters that much more.

      it just says ‘don’t be surprised when barca will win another clasico’ ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Gogah
    February 19, 2012

    Too much has been read into a comment that was initially said in a light way. It is not ALL about him knowing his place in the power balance in Catalunya, but there is an element of truth to it.
    Before i say anything, I consider myself a HUGE, huge fan of Pep, the player and coach, his methods, his character and what he represents as a person and have been lucky to watch him so closely the last 4 years.

    First of all let me say that i don’t buy into this thing of Pep is the most humblest, ego less person around who can do no wrong. I know that pep is an intelligent man and knows the role he has to play in the press. He actually does it with more efficiency than mou. Sometimes humility can spill over in to false modesty too and that is no better. I, too identify myself a lot with Pep and because i feel that, i’ve been curious to know what the guy really thinks and feels.
    like me, He chooses his words very carefully. Not completely naturally. and therein lies a glimpse of his character.
    I read somewhere that the fans do not deserve this anxiety and uncertainty. It is definitely annoying. Sure, I respect a man’s privacy and his intent to do what his heart feels, but if the man has so much love and sincerity for the club (which he no doubt does) then why cant he atleast be a little transparent with the fans? If he keeps harping on about this feeling that everything must be right for him to continue, why cant he atleast mention what those ideal conditions are. All i am asking for is only a little transparency and not always this diplomatic crap that doesn’t really reveal anything.

  12. TITO
    February 19, 2012

    Can we leave Pep alone and focus on the game tonight. I’m sure there can be a topic about Pep the coming days.

  13. February 19, 2012

    Liveblog might start a little late today. I have an oral exam in cardiology and it is running a little late at the moment.

    • SoccerMom
      February 19, 2012

      Cool. I have an atrial septimal defect. Come fix it.

      • February 19, 2012

        An atrial septal defect eh? I can tell you all about. Couldnt even begin to think about fixing it.

  14. nzm
    February 19, 2012

    Lineup anounced:

    Montoya – Puyol – Pique – Abidal
    Cesc – Busquets – Iniesta
    Alexis – Messi – Pedro

    • ciaran
      February 19, 2012

      Montoya deserved a start.
      Pedro doesn’t but I’m hoping today’s the day he turns it around

    • ciaran
      February 19, 2012

      No Jordi Alba in Valencia’s starting lineup… very unusual

        • hansh
          February 19, 2012

          I for one am glad. I don’t want Xavi to play until he is completely ok, in order to keep him healthy down the road.

          Also, here’s to hoping that Alexis can remind Pedro how to play with !!s ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Helge
        February 19, 2012

        I think Jordi Alba got a cold or something.

  15. Ryan
    February 19, 2012

    Banega is a big miss for them; he always causes us problems with his calm under our pressure. That should make it easier for Cesc and Iniesta, but I’m having Xavi withdrawals!

  16. nzm
    February 19, 2012

    Sebastian Vettel is Rosell’s guest of honour tonight.

    Step down from Bar Refaeli.

  17. Skipper5
    February 19, 2012

    working links to the game please…thanx

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