Ref, schmef, is what I have to say

Boy, did someone let me have it on Twitter, after I Tweeted: Wonder when pple will realize that the players won’t blame the refs because they know it’s all on them, not refs.

And the response: do you honestly believe that? they don’t talk about the refs because it’s futile not because there aren’t any problems.

And while it reassures me to know that I am, once again, stupid, allow to suggest an alternate bit of reality.

We’ve all heard our players, as well as our coach, talking about — rather, not talking about the officials. Guardiola has said it, Fabregas has said it, Iniesta has said it, Xavi has said it.

Despite all of that, we see the stories, about how the table would be were it not for X or Y refereeing decision, this sort of alternate world nonsense that is, customarily, the province of those whom we have, in the past, vanquished.

“They get all the calls,” bleats another manita victim. “How are we supposed to play against them and the ref?”

Then we sit here, in this space, and note that had the opponent defended better, perhaps …. And we are absolutely right to say that, just as I am absolutely right (in my own, cockeyed little environs) in saying that we aren’t 10 points down in the Liga because of the officials. Have the officials made calls that could have been called another way? You bet. Have those calls affected play? Absolutely. Are those calls the reason that we’re looking up the table at our most hated rival?

Aye, there’s the question, right? Here’s another way to look at it:

Real Sociedad draw: We’re up 0-2 and rolling, then we lose interest, with shambolic defending. Is that the fault of the officiating?

Valencia draw: Abidal gets Valencia off to a bright start with an own goal, a ball that Valdes has controlled and lined up. Perhaps the official put tape over Valdes’ mouth, so that he couldn’t talk to his defenders, then distracted our players so that they would again defend like dimwits on the second Valencia goal.

Sevilla draw: I’m going to be silly, here, and ask what might have happened had Messi not taken the worst penalty kick in the world?

Athletic Bilbao draw: What might have happened had Pique been on his game during the goal mouth scramble? Good question, right? Or what if we’d played any defense at all during that first Bilbao goal? Just asking.

Getafe loss: Villa shoots wide, Sanchez shoots wide, Messi goes a dribble too far, everybody and their mama can’t hit the broad side of a barn …. or they hit the post.

Espanyol draw: Let’s just leave two unmarked men in the box so that they can head home for an equalizer. And lost in the “ref should have called the Pedro handball” frawfraw is that Pique missed and easy one, then Iniesta skied another easy one, after the handball. And this doesn’t even include the rash of blown chances before that desperate attack on a reserve keeper.

Villarreal draw: Messi misses a sitter, with the keeper dead to rights. Why chip, when you can just slot it past him? Then Fabregas misses an open net.

Osasuna loss: Of course, the refereeing was the cause of our ridiculous defending in that match, right?

Isaiah made a previous reference to this foolishness in an earlier post, but I got to thinking about it, and wanted to document it, match by match, the errors that led to our points deficit. You math majors can work some figures if you like, but it doesn’t take a lot for me to see that if even a few of those draws are wins, even losses draws, That Other Spanish Team is a lot more nervous.

Further, if we take care of business the way that we have the past few seasons, we are 8 points up, at the top of the table. But because that didn’t happen, we are 10 points down with a fight on our hands. Did the officials miss some calls this season that could have benefited us? Absolutely. As they do every season. The difference is that in past seasons, we have been so incredibly good that it didn’t matter. So a bad call meant a 4-1 win instead of 5-1. Oh, well. Whatevs.

We should never, ever be a club that makes excuses, and blaming officials is an excuse, make no mistake about it. Mou Mou has been doing it all season, making a point of it as part of his strategy. But the fact that so many of their opponents wind up playing with 10 men has vastly more to do with the way that side plays, than any officiating controversies. Should they have had players sent off at some points this season? Sure, okay. But we’ve gotten a number of beneficial calls as well.

As Guardiola has said, officials are human, and they make mistakes. He’s right. But when an official has a bad match, they usually have a bad match for both sides. Opponents can often just as easily point out moments they have been wronged by those damnable, Barcelona-centric officials.


Bonus thought

I didn’t want this to get lost in the commotion of the last post, because it’s a very good series of thoughts that deserve to be grokked in their fullness. blitzen threw up a link to this post, where journalist Martin Pernau notes that the board is screwing the pooch, that the departure of Juvenil A coach Oscar Garcia was preventable and further, there are board-related complexities in the renewal of Pep Guardiola.

Then nzm rolled in to drop this bomb:

This year, Pep’s holding out for total control, and if he doesn’t get it, he’s going to walk. After the last pre-season fiasco, he’s determined that it won’t happen again while he’s manager – he was furious after the US tour. All Rosell can think of is turning the team into show ponies playing in front of sponsors and potential money machines.

Last season, Pep was a little untouchable – given that it was Rosell’s first year and he didn’t want to rock the boat too much. Luis Enrique took the flak. This year, it’s Oscar Garcia – turned down for the Barca B job in favour of Eusebio; doing wonders with Juvenil A and then stabbed in the back again when it looked as if Eusebio wasn’t going to work but was then renewed. Eusebio will have no doubt sold his soul to get the renewal. Little wonder that Garcia is going.

I’m not at all confident that Pep is going to renew, because I’m not sure if Rosell and co are willing to hand over that much power – à la Perez to Mourinho. However, if he does renew, he’ll have made certain that he will get his own way 100%. He’s just requested Puyol’s renewal which includes a contract for the capità that will see him working for the club when he retires. In the meantime, just as Pep is holding out on renewal, the board is “gently threatening” him with “leaked” contingency plans about alternative coaches to take his place.

It’s rather ugly and will most likely get worse. I’d wager that we’re only hearing about 10% of what’s really happening.

My .02 is that Guardiola is Laporta’s coach, and RoSELL hates everything about Laporta, from the car he drives to his underwear. As such, it won’t take much for a coach who was Laporta’s selection, and let’s add one for whom he went out on a limb and was richly rewarded for that risk, to get on bad paper with RoSELL and the Gnomes.

Further, if what nzm suggests is true, is Guardiola making such demands to force their hand and give him an exit strategy?

More good questions, and I’m sure everyone here will have plenty of answers.

Numbers, numbers

Forgive me for reTweeting a Tweet in the blog format, but in efforts to assuage my worries about this weekend’s match, I came upon an interesting statistic about Messi’s most-victimized Liga opponents, and observed nothing says independencia like Messi’s record against capital sides, noting his 17(!) withdrawals at the ATM, and 14 against the Evil Empire. Did it make me feel any better? Not really, but as you all know, the determined cule needs precious little more than an off-kilter sunrise to see gloom and doom.

And that’s what I know.

By Kxevin

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. “This year, it’s Oscar Garcia – turned down for the Barca B job in favour of Eusebio; doing wonders with Juvenil A and then stabbed in the back again when it looked as if Eusebio wasn’t going to work but was then renewed. Eusebio will have no doubt sold his soul to get the renewal. Little wonder that Garcia is going.”

    Wait, what? Explain how Eusebio will have “no doubt” sold his soul for a renewal?

    1. Word was that Eusebio was on his way out, having not impressed with Barca B this season.

      Whispers were put into Garcia’s ears that he was in line for the job – having been refused it when Eusebio was appointed.

      Suddenly, the club is announcing that they’re renewing Eusebio.

      Change of heart from the board? Someone willing to take a salary drop? Whatever happened, Eusebio has capitulated, in some way or another, to keep the job.

      Thinking about it after I wrote that comment, it’s also possible that Garcia was played along for some reason, and he was never going to get the Barca B position anyway.

      Freaking politics and back-stabbing.

    2. Having few details on hand, it’s hard for me to say that there was “politics and back-stabbing”. I mean, you say it yourself: “Eusebio has capitulated, in some way or another, to keep the job.” It’s not really “back-stabbing” anyone else if you keep your job. Perhaps the board wanted stability or saw that he was getting a couple of better results now. I don’t know and I don’t have an opinion, but loaded words are loaded words.

      I’m no fan of the Rosell administration, but that doesn’t mean that all their decisions are wrong. Perhaps this was the wrong decision, but it is not wrong simply because it was a decision made by this board.

      I don’t mean to attack you, not at all, I just think that unless there’s actual evidence of something untoward happening (something other than vague rumors), it’s hard to blame Eusebio or the board for Garcia leaving.

    3. I think he’s referring to the “Eusebio will have no doubt sold his soul to get the renewal. Little wonder that Garcia is going.” comment, which I’m curious as to where this conclusion was drawn.

    4. Nope – Isaiah wrote this: “I mean, you say it yourself: “Eusebio has capitulated, in some way or another, to keep the job.” It’s not really “back-stabbing” anyone else if you keep your job.”

      My back-stabbing comment had nothing to do with Eusebio keeping his job. I believe that he’s innocent in this and has renewed in his best interests. His renewal would not have been an easy one, as he would have had to negotiate based on the season’s performance.


      It’s what’s been happening with Garcia that is questionable.

      Put it this way: the club passes on promoting Garcia who has been stellar with Juvenil A and brings in Eusebio (sacked from Celta) to coach Barca B.

      Barca B doesn’t do well. It’s important that this team does do well, so that the La Masia boys have something to aim for, instead of being lured away by professional contracts at other clubs at younger legal ages than which Barca can secure them.

      Eusebio’s contract is up for renewal. There is a highly successful Garcia waiting in the wings, but the board chooses to renew Eusebio.


      If you read the link that blitzen posted, to which Kxevin has also linked, what’s been written about is what’s been spoken about around Barcelona at the moment. Most of it will never be put into writing, but stuff gets out!

      I’m no great fan of Rosell either, and I’ve also never said that everything that they do is wrong. I like his player purchases and I recently wrote a comment on another post about his excellent speech at the Laureus Awards ceremony. Credit where it’s due – and vice versa when it’s not.

  2. I never thought about it that way. I was thinking, may be Pep is delaying his renewal, just to get the best out of the players.
    But looking at this post, especially nzm’s comments, it sounds quite logical. Pep may not be looking for an a la Mourinho powers at Madrid. But he might want to have a control of some things happening around, which is affecting the team.

    I just hope Rossell & Co, realise this man is as important to the club as Messi, Xavi and Iniesta and not let him go. I am just afraid, because of what they did to Cruff.
    Will Rossell dare to let Pep go? I hope he wont.

  3. Kxevin, you should’ve put a name to the “inflammatory” comment, i don’t shy away from publicity of any kind. thank god i didn’t make any spelling mistakes though, now that’d have been downright embarrassing.

    your rage is unjustified. but it got us a post, cause obviously you couldn’t have crammed all that into a tweet. 😛

    to be quite honest, whenever i point out refereeing mistakes in this year’s liga, it does not concern refereeing mistakes against us. in 87% of the cases, we screwed our own games. we lost our own points.

    it mostly concerns different treatment the 2 main title contenders are receiving from the men in black/yellow/whatever colours are fashionable for reffing this fall/spring 2011-2012. because one team is getting freebies and the other is not.

    doesn’t that really upset anyone else but me here?

    also, i’m not quite sure why do we have to turn the other cheek and not address what is indeed a problem. sure, we cannot hound the officials like Mourinho does. but not a word because we’re Barca? that is outrageous and unheard of.

    besides, the Barca folk that actually matter, i.e. Pep, the players, you know the people that give out interviews, they do not talk about the refs. it doesn’t take my right to do so in any way.

    i am not sorry and i stand by what i said in my reply.

    1. I never like to out people without their permission. It’s the old schooler in me. And I loved the passion. It was clearly inspirational, because it got me to thinking about what might have been, were my contention true.

    2. Kxevin,

      I appreciate the old school! Love BFB and constantly clicking my “Favorites” link to get here. Although, I often post a day or two after the initial posts, so I wonder if I’m even seen? Keep up the wonderful writing and honest grading.

      A Fan,


    3. The players don’t talk about the refs mostly because they are aware of the potential backlash during future games from the refs that they criticise.

      I can’t remember where I heard it, or in what context – for some reason I think that it happened in the UK.

      A referee (possibly retired) was invited to speak at a lunch at one of the clubs, and in his speech he mentioned that if any players gave the referees any grief, then those players were remembered and singled out for “special attention” in following matches.

      Apparently you could have heard a pin drop in the room after he made his statement!

  4. I get shivers down my spine whenever I open a new BFB article and see “By: Kxevin”. It sounds pathetic, I know, but I deeply enjoy every article that you write. Your style keeps my eyes (and more importantly, my concentration) glued to the screen.

  5. hey did we loose to RM by 5-0 and then blame the referees?

    our poor game and the mistakes of the referees are not excluding causes – and no one is using the later as an excuse for our liga season; we’re just saying it is unfair, that despite some poor games the difference between us and them is not really 10 points.

    Let’s stop treating refereeing decisions as if they are laws of nature.

  6. “Further, if we take care of business the way that we have the past few seasons, we are 8 points up, at the top of the table”

    Also, this suggestion makes it seems as you think the team has, besides those few mistakes, played well enough to have dropped no points so far this season, as “we have the past few season”

    1. I think that, were we consistent, we would have dropped a normal number of points, meaning about as many as EE have. But we have been uncharacteristically slack at times. I suspect that we will be very good on Sunday, because of a full week’s rest.

  7. Refereeing decisions certainly aren’t mutually exclusive with our teams mistakes and poor form when you are looking at our current position in the table.

    Unless you believe there is a refereeing conspiracy, then when you average referee mistakes over a long enough period they equal out to 0 and don’t benefit any team. Yes, over a short period of time it may look like they are helping a specific team, but it is also possible to flip a coin and get heads 5 times in a row. Both of these instances appear to be short term trends, but they don’t indicate that the long term trend has shifted on direction or another – in other words all the short term trends dissolve into randomness when you look at a long enough time.

    If you think there is a referee conspiracy – remember how hard we laughed at the Villarato conspiracy?

    My main issue with people who highlight referee mistakes is that they have somewhat hypocritical stances. When decisions are going against us (or for our rivals) there is an outcry and we talk about how the referee mistakes are having such an effect on the league standings or outcomes. Meanwhile I’ve never heard anyone complain about referee decisions that help us – the comments are directed at how referees just make mistakes and it evens out in the end.

    Really these two positions are cognitively dissonant. If you want to complain about ref decisions having an impact on us this season, then you should also acknowledge that ref decisions have helped us win La Liga in at least one of the previous 3 years, not brush them off as inconsequential.

    1. mmh…
      Don’t you think the most obvious competition during which a ref helped us to a title was the 08/09 CL?
      I don’t remember a particular league match where the ref denied the opponent a clear penalty, an offside goal or gifted us one (during a close match, this does not have any serious relevance when you’re already up 3-0 or something).

    2. Villarato wasn’t born out of nothing, as much as I would like to claim it was. The typical argument at the time was that Barcelona was being overprotected by the refs and other teams couldnt play because the refs would whistle anything. The ref decisions were different – during ’09-’10 (I believe) we were getting the benefit of the doubt on almost every questionable offside call.

      We didn’t get penalties. But the EE getting soft penalties is a result of their style of play – they like to hold onto the ball in the box and invite challenges. We don’t do that = less opportunities where a ref has to decide if it’s a penalty or not = less questionable penalties.

      There is also the phenomenon of rose colored glasses and selective memory. The times when we got help from the ref are quickly rationalized and forgotten. When the calls are hurting us they are easier to remember, and therefore it is easier to find some sort of “pattern” in what is actually randomness.

    3. I so totally agree. It’s just human nature to remember injustices against you and forget those that happen to the other team.

      And agree that we just play a game that doesn’t cause that many fouls. We play the ball quick and don’t cause as many fouls by slide tackling or shirt holding or kicking players in the shins. Most teams do, especially RM. So, when the whistle blow the other teams play their fouling game immediately and most ref’s don’t want to seem to call early fouls and especially pull out early yellows. So, teams get a free pass. By the time we start fouling (later in the game by comparison) the ref’s seem to call fouls or show yellows immediately. It’s not right, but that’s how the game’s played. I’d have NO problems with Barca coming our a little more aggressive at the start of the whistle to set the tone.

  8. What would you say about Mallorca’s disallowed 2-0?
    Levante match, penalty and sending off while a friend of mine, neutral oberserver, said that the penalty was at least debatable and sending off clearly exaggerated (no intention of handball) and Sergio Ramos could have been sent off earlier (while Madrid was 1-0 down)?

    Maybe we are not 10 points behind due to the ref, but we do not deserve to be 10 points behind (that’s also what Pep says) because EE did not play so much better. They also had their poorer matches, but still won them – partially with the help of the ref (@Valencia).

    1. I would say those instances certainly helped Madrid gain some points that they MIGHT not have gotten otherwise.

      However, poor referee decisions are an inescapable part of the game (at least at the moment) that affect all teams. Therefore we shouldnt complain about them, but rather seek to minimize this factors ability to affect our performances.

  9. My biggest concern with Rosell is that he will at some point decide that he should have a hand in team building or coaching from his role as the president. Laporta was always the type of president to accept that he wasn’t knowledgable enough about the tactics and playing of football, and he relied on other people (like Crujff) who were knowledgable on the topic.

    I worry that Rosell will not accept his limitations and branch out. This could be why Pep is hesitant to renew – he isnt trying to seize power, but rather make sure his power isn’t seized.

    1. And yet, Laporta/Txiki have some questionable purchases in their past (Keirrison, Gone Adriano). I think we have one more season of Guardiola, so we’d better nab as much silver as we can this season and next. Transitions are never easy, unless some guy comes in from the B side then wins everything.

    2. Good point on the questionable purchases by Laporta. I’m still not entirely convinced that there weren’t some questionable practices going on with those given Laporta’s connection to the company that represented them, but that’s another discussion. It does highlight that every president we’ve had has come with good qualities and not so good qualities, they are just different.

      I’m not advocating that Pep be given total control of transfers either. His insistence on Chygrynskiy is a good example, as I think most of us can agree it was a good decision to sell him. The president shouldn’t be completely out of the loop, but transfer activity should be mostly decided by the sporting director and Pep.

      Interestingly I might take a different stance if we had a different coach. I do think the role Pep has in deciding transfer policy is something a coach has to earn.

    3. I don’t think that Rosell will interfere with the first team as far as take an active role in its management.

      At least, he won’t do it first hand. Rosell is not one to get his hands dirty at FCB. If there is bad news or something controversial to present, it’s left to someone like Bartomeu, Freixa or Cardoner.

      What he can do, and what he’s more than capable of doing, is to make life uncomfortable for Pep in other ways: no money for buying, no budget increases, meddling in the team’s itinerary (remember the Osasuna travel debacle from last season?); increasing the sponsorship obligations of the team to do PR activities, friendlies and meet-and-greets.

      Pep made his loyalties clear when he came out in support of Laporta just before the Rosell vs Laporta thing went to court.

      Pep will be trying to go for more control for sure. He wants to manage the pre-season this year instead of having a repeat of last year’s US disaster where they couldn’t even train properly on some days AND had to play in the Audi Cup in Germany on the way to the US. The schedule to catch the plane from Munich to the US was so tight that most of the team had left the stadium before the prize-giving ended. It’s stresses like this that he will be trying to eliminate as he plans the season.

      Kxevin: as much as I don’t think much of Rosell, to give him credit where it’s due, I do think that he buys better players than Laporta, but whether he buys and sells with Pep’s input is another story. Chiggy’s sale was certainly against Pep’s wishes. I think that Bojan should have been gone at the end of the 09/10 season because Pep really didn’t have him in his plans over the next season.

    1. Jeez…hopefully this hasn’t been part of the reason for Pep’s reluctance to sign a renewal.

      Maybe Cruyff’s wanting Pep to join him at Chivas!

    1. I can’t stand watching that program. Bitter men yelling at, and over the top of, each other. Tomas Roncero is an egotistical prat.


      Any special reason why I should watch it, blitzen?

    2. Because FCB has just suspended their access to the media facilities of the club, due to some unsavoury practices. Apparently they planted a hidden camera on the president of l’Hospitalet at the recent gala where Xavi received his award. They were trying to get information on Pep’s renewal. They have also been accused of focusing their cameras on the trainers’ lips in the open training session to try and “eavesdrop” on their conversations.

      Now of course Punto Pelota is kicking up a huge fuss saying that Barça is going against the spirit of the Spanish constitution by denying them “freedom of expression.”

      Please watch, it should be a lot of frothing at the mouth !

    3. Good grief – just reading about it now. 😐

      1. The President of l’Hospitalet has some major explaining to do.
      2. The trainers will never discuss anything of importance during open trainings.
      3. The spirit of the “Spanish institution denying them freedom of expression”??? Only what happened to Catalonia for the 4 decades that Franco was in power!

      I wonder if the French Canal+ TV team will say the same about RM banning them? 😀

      Amazing what lengths this stupid show has to go to so they can have something to report on. Miguel Garcia is PATHETIC to have allowed himself to be used in such a way(whether it was agreed upon before hand or not).

      So was the camera hidden or not? Josep Pederol (host) says there was no hidden camera or microphone AND that the camera was a meter away(within view I suppose).

    5. Thanks for the link, culegirl3. The relevant portion starts around the 12:30 mark for anyone interested.

      It looks like a co-conspirator was carrying a small (hidden?) camera and following Garcia around as he quizzed Zubi, Freixa, and then Bartomeu about Pep’s renewal. Zubi said he wasn’t worried about it, neither was Freixa, but Bartomeu spotted the camera and refused to say anything at all. Then Garcia reported back to his demonic masters that everyone seemed to have a lot of doubts and there wasn’t a good feeling about the renewal.

      (My personal favourite moment was Toni Freixa crowing that RM had tied! (in their CL game against CKSA). 😆

  10. I had a youth coach who loved to tell us that referees are part of the field conditions: sometimes they are terrible, but it’s just something you have to deal with. It can’t be your excuse for a badly played game.

  11. I wonder sometimes if the perceived tension between Pep and Rosell is a symbol of the two competing philosophies that the club is trying to resolve.

    Pep’s reliance on the youth team, focus on the character of his players (and the club), and Catalan approach symbolize the philosophy the the club needs to remain true to its roots. One of Rosell’s goals is to capitalize on the success of the team and turn the club into an international brand to increase revenue and improve the financial foundations of the team.

    The tension between these two philosophies is an issue the club is facing right now. It has manifested in changes to soci policy, arduous preseason trips to the USA, and many other ways. Pep’s renewal issues may just be a symptom of the club as a whole going through some growing pains and identity issues.

    1. Rosell may want to make the club an “international brand,” but make no mistake–he regards the club itself as Catalan to the core and wants to make sure it stays that way. Hence his policy of restricting membership and his remarks (before he was elected) about too many “foreign kids” in La Masia.

  12. Laliga referees=incompetent,champions league=competent…just watch bayerleverkusen vs barca again to know what am on about..if it were in laliga,two of our goals would have been disqualified for offside.

  13. In addition to the foolishness on the pitch in those games that Kxevin has listed above, what about the management tactics and fielded players for those games?

    Pep was in his “change the starting 11 for each game” phase, the tactics were a 3-man backline-or-die, and substitutions have never been a strong point when they are often made too late for the subs to have any impact.

    Granted that there have been many injuries this season, but there were times when I would look at the line-up, compare it to the available players and think, “what??”.

    I think that the most telling point for me came during the Espanyol game when Barca was 3 at the back and Espanyol were coming at them with 5 in front. It took until halftime for Pep to change it.

    I’m not sure if it’s stubbornness, a lack of a second plan, missing Tito or having a point to prove, but when Pep gets it wrong it’s horrible.

    Conversely – when Pep’s right, the world is full of unicorns, sprinkles and fairy dust.

  14. First things first, did you just Hector a post from Isaiah, a guy whose posts have become soo rate, some of us believed he’s a fictionary character?

    Secondly, did you just Hector a post about Iniesta?

    Does BFB have a guillotine?

  15. Off-topic:

    I was just watching the German version of ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’.
    500.000 € question:
    The name of the second biggest Canadian city translates to:
    a) Imperial River
    b) Noble Forest
    c) Royal Mountain
    d) Civil Field

    Without knowing which Canadian city is the 2nd-biggest, the answer to me was very clear… and so it was for the audience: 85% voted for the right answer (the candidate used his Ask-the-Audience-lifeline).
    I felt like it has never been easier to win 500k € … 🙂

    1. I’m Canadian and I can assure you a ton of people would get this wrong here. It’s not as easy as it seems, especially if you don’t know the second largest city.

      And if you have 500k on the line it becomes even harder!

    2. You don’t have to know that it is the second-largest. It’s sufficient to know bigger Canadian cities, such as (I’ve never been to Canada or the US nor do I study geography) Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal. Or do you want to tell me that many Canadians do not even know Montreal?!?

      And then Mont stands for mountain, and Real for royal. So a little bit of Spanish or French or English plus geograpical knowledge/football knowledge is enough to solve it. Usually the 500k questions require a much more specific expertise.

    3. No I agree with you. It is not a difficult question. Was just pointing out that you would be surprised at how many Canadians would get it wrong. Outside of Quebec, French is not so common so a lot of people wouldn’t be able to connect “Mont” as Mountain and “Real” as Royal. Easier if you speak Spanish/French, etc. As for football knowledge? This is land of hockey my friend.

      Agree though seems a bit easy for a 500k question.

  16. Refs—you can’t live with them and you can’t just shoot them and you can’t live without them. Can’t do a thing about them so play above it all.

    The Pep/ Rosell/ Garcia / Eusebio thing?
    Mes que un mess.
    How sad would it be if egos ruined what we have?

    Isaiah hectored? Go read his Ghostface post! It’s awesome.

    @ Blitzen- That EPL thing two posts ago was a lot of fun. I got Wolverhampton.

  17. Delayed as it might be, I second the great idea of converting the blitzen awards into a post. They’re generally awesome, and anything to reduce the load on the writers and Isaiah, right?

    About the refs, what Kxevin said, but it wouldn’t be that much of a trouble for them to be consistent with the call with respect to us and EE. I mean it wouldn’t hurt if a couple of penalties be awarded against them and not to them given the nature of the contact in the box.

    But then again, this is RFEF who give Pepe a free hand to ..well be Pepe..

    1. We like you! We really really like you!

      If that’s a reference to something, I missed it completely. But in any case, after matches I always look for blitzen awards, and I’m sure I’m not the only one 😀

    2. Count my vote for Blitzen award as a post. You can do it alternately with the review, perhaps. I like blitzen award so much. So fun to read it.

    3. I like them too, but won’t they (with time) also slowly become a burden? Right now, they only appear once in a few matches when there’s an inspiration, which makes them more special and they retain their value. Having them after every other match wont be same thing, IMO.

      Just my 2 cents.

    4. Well, no one said they would be obligatory, just that they would be their own post.

      Anyway, thanks for all the kudos, guys, but I’m not in charge around here!

      Oh, and shut up, Miguel. 👿

  18. 8 Barca players in Del Bosque’s NT to play Venezuela: Valdés, Puyol, Piqué, Thiago, Cesc, Busquets, Iniesta and Xavi.

    Torres dropped from the team.

    Cuenca, Tello and Montoya selected for the U21 to play Egypt.

    Both games will be played in Spain, so it’s good that there’s no major travel for the local boys.

    1. I’m sad that Pedro wasn’t called up, but I understand why. On the other hand I am very happy for Thiago, and especially because Iker Muniain has also been called up–he really deserves it, and those two are so cute together!

      Torres… don’t even know what to say at this point. He needs a total reboot. Torres 2.0. Soldado is very deserving of his call-up and I hope he makes the most of it.

    2. So our players can’t rest next midweek because of the NT friendlies. This full week rest is so precious.

    1. haha this will really help with my catalan class..I am the Pedro of the class- regressing, but I have Uni work as my excuse so the teacher is taking it easy on me 😉

    2. So the Hleb of the class would be the guy who goes for catalan class and somehow ends up learning german?

  19. Rather than talking about bias toward one team or another, could we have a discussion about the way Spanish refs have failed to enforce the laws of the game? That’s what they are paid for; not to keep 22 players on the pitch, not to protect skilled players, not to “let the game flow”. Far too often this season, the refs have displayed some of those other priorities in our games.
    If one team persistently fouls the other, and is still hacking in the 80th minute, the ref has failed to do his job. Sending off players in the last few minutes of the game does not get them to abide by the laws. A ref’s job is to use every tool available to get the players to play within the laws. If one team refuses to do so, his duty is to send them off until the match must be abandoned. That would only have to happen once.
    The RFEF and its officials need to refocus on enforcing the laws, and letting the chips fall where they may. This is the only way to avoid continuing escalation of violence in the Barca vs. EE rivalry.

  20. I have big differences with Kxevin’s post. Let me get direct to the point.

    1) It is true that Barca have underperformed away and should have done better relative to their recent standards.

    2) It is also true that they have got some really bad decisions going against them and some lax refereeing vis-a-vis the tactical fouling and refusal of penalties when deserved.

    For every instance that Kxevin points out as factors that are internally responsible for Barca’s second place position, there are equal and even more external reasons for that.

    There are youtube videos that detail the refereeing errors, that if avoided, could have salvaged Barca’s performance or their position. As Pep pointed out, paraphrase.. “these players deserve better than a 10 point gap for their performances”.

    The trouble with poor refereeing is that it dramatically narrows the leeway for bad performance that is due because of injury, fatigue, and inevitable loss of concentration on certain occasions. Nothing exemplifies this better than the Osasuna game –

    Yes, Barca defended badly in the first half, but the first goal by Osasuna was legitimately offside, while Alexis’ rightful goal was cancelled out. Yes, Pique was sleepwalking to let in the third goal, but Alexis’ second one was genuine. A fair and just result would have been 3-2 in Barca’s favour despite Barca’s bad performance.

    Case in Point, the Valencia game. Yes, Unai Emery won the tactical battle in the first half by over-playing the left side with Jordi Alba and Mathieu. Yet, Messi deserved two penalties for blatant fouls and despite Valencia’s shellacking; the fair and just result would have been 4-2 or 3-2 in Barca’s favour.

    Thats just 4 points that were due, cutting down on the 10 points gap to 6.

    So, instead of this “I am holier than anyone else and won’t criticise ref errors even if they happen, because I am pure”..lets try to be honest.

    Yes, Madrid deserve to be in the lead this season. They have performed fantastically well – both home and away. But they haven’t suffered from referee inconsistencies as Barcelona as. And if that is the case, there is no shame in stating so.

    It is difficult for the players and the club to state so openly (unlike for the shameless EE), because it cuts into the institutional adage that we overcome everything through our performance on the field.

    But is it a problem for bloggers who are supposed to say it as it is?

    I remember Kxevin doing a similar thing with the Busquets incident. It was patently stupid to assume guilt without adequate proof – and it was a reflection of the obnoxious reporting that was coming from Madrid and elsewhere – the end result of which is an unfair stigma persisting on Busquets.

    I make that analogy because our blogger need not do this. They can be objective and fair. And in being so, they can admit that refereeing errors have happened and that has tilted the story a fair bit. No shame in doing so.

    1. Even if we agree with what you say about the mistakes, Srini, what would whinging about it achieve. It would give satisfaction to those who think we’re on the way down, it gives our players a ready excuse for under performing and bottom line nobody apart from us wants to hear about this.

      I remember going for a tennis lesson once and after hitting a few rotten shots the coach asked me if I was aware that every time I hit a poor one I did about 6 or 7 practice swings. His point was that I seemed to be wanting to show him that I could play the shot although I obviously didn’t do it when it mattered i.e. with the ball. What he said has stayed with me – nobody wants to know about how you were unlucky with the shot, could have played it better etc. you either do it when it matters or you keep quiet until you get another chance and then you don’t waste the opportunity.

    2. Good post Srini. There is no harm in calling out refs when they make mistakes, just like there is no harm calling out players when they play badly. The referee is there to do a job and if he doesnt do it properly he should be called out, exactly the same way a player should be called out if he plays badly. The ref should not be beyond scrutiny, in fact the ref should be under the most scrutiny possible because his decisions can severely effect the game.

      Regarding the club and its stance, I understand it, I appreciate and I agree with it, however I do think it puts us at a disadvantage. There is a reason why coaches like Mourhonho and SAF constantly put pressure on the referees and that is because consciously or not it makes a difference when those ref’s walk out on the pitch. Referees feel under pressure to give favourable decisions to Madrid because if they dont they will get an onslaught of critisism and pressure from Mou and his band. The opposite is true of Barca, the attitude of the club gives the refs the feeling that no matter what they do its ok, no backlash will occur. Dont think for a second that doesnt play a part in the decision making process of the refs. SAF does the same thing with Utd and they get just as much help from refs in the EPL. Like it or not it is a tactic that works and one that a lot of top coaches use to influence the way a league season plays out.

      All that being said I do think we are a good enough team to play above all that, but the question really is why should we have to. More pressure should be put on referees to do their jobs properly.

    3. Obviously this issue is not as simple as “it’s [not] the ref’s fault!” Factors that influence outcomes are innumerable, officiating is only one.

      The refereeing system is imperfect. It can be influenced, bought and traded. It’s worthless to speculate about it by forcing a correlation with Barca’s standing, because no one can possibly know how results might have changed with better officiating (Messi may miss every penalty, etc.) Instead, one might ask questions like: how many errors have referees made regarding Barcelona? How many errors are typical for any particular game, how often are games poorly officiated, how many calls are usually missed or given wrongly, and so on. This way, the problem is framed in questions that can be answered and compared, rather than using nebulous reasoning to justify the standing, either for or against the team.

      So, how many errors do referees typically make, and are there a preponderance of non-calls/errors against Barcelona, or any other team for that matter? If so, then they are not being assessed fairly – literally, the competition is made unfair by unfair conditions.

    4. You’re still playing the “if game”. No one knows what would have happened if any of those calls had been different.

      When you can prove to me beyond a doubt that we wouldn’t have been 10 points behind if a single of those calls had been different I might come around.

      But you can’t. You are just imagining a different course of events that can never exist.

    5. No, I am not playing an “if game”. I am saying there were blatant referee errors that twisted the outcomes for certain games. “If” I am playing an “if” game, then so are those who say that “if” Barca played to their potential they would have won those games. The operative therefore is not quite the “if”, but what has transpired.

      And stating that referees’ mistakes turned outcomes is not whinging but stating facts. I am not saying that Real Madrid has built this lead because of a conspiracy, no!. EE has been great this season. They more or less deserve to get these many points that they have got. But “if” referees were as consistent and as fair as they were with EE, Barca would not have been 10 points behind. And one needs to state this as it is and not adopt a “holier than thou” position when one is commenting on it. It is a different matter for the players though.

    6. I’m in agreement with this. I feel like the question is framed wrong when asking;
      “is it the refs?, OR, is it us?” Seems a no win choice if you think things are questionable. I think the answer to the question when posed that way would have to be, yes, both.

      Have we been below our untouchable best? Absolutely. This has made us susceptible to hurting the wounded animal, or kicking when we’re down, kinds of stuff that actually can be deciding.

      As I’ve said many times before, I don’t think there is some kind of widespread all inclusive every ref in the Liga kind of conspiracy. That’s not how these things work, it is how people use an all or nothing kind of mentality to blind themselves to what may be happening and call those who see it differently “conspiracy nut balls”. But a little help at opportune times from a few sympathetic or bought collaborators? Not at all a stretch. It’s not like there isn’t a history of corruption in sport or anything! It could be a little naive to think that these things can’t/don’t happen. If your experience has been lucky enough to spare you from such shenanigans then you are fortunate, or you’ve missed it when you were the target of it, because it happens. People would rather call people nuts sometimes than have to face that they are getting screwed beyond their control… The fact that Guardiola has in fact talked a bit about it this year however subtly, and that he has on occasion or two actually addressed the fourth official this year is telling to me. There is too much smoke for no fire, even if it is a little smolder, not a raging inferno.

  21. – My line up for trip to Calderon:
    Alves – Puyol – Pique – Abidal
    Xavi – Iniesta – Busi
    Messi – Alexis – Cesc

    – Players should be pretty fresh after the midweek free measure up to Atletico that just played in Europa Leaugue two days before the match. I’m cautiously optimistic we get the 3 points again, though Calderon always prove tough ground. Keita, Thiago and Tello could be subs in the 2nd half depend on the match situation.

    – I have no idea about the tactical approach of Diego Simeone. But the first thing come to my mind about him is the red card incident for David Beckham after kicking Simeone in the 1998 World Cup. Pretty stupid act by Beckham and a bit exaggeration by Simeone ensuing elimination of England from that WC, to a certain extent.

  22. Reading from various sources: looks like the CDR final will be staged at the Vicente Calderon. But the date will depend whether Barca play CL final or not.

  23. -I’ve said it before. UEFA needs to start implementing video technology! We are in 2012 already.

    -And just because we have the benefit of doubt before doesn’t mean we can’t complain when the other teams gets favorible treatment. It’s not a 1 or 2 game thing. It has happened a few times already.

    What you (Kxevin) listed out in the chronology are all true but the same can be said about EE. They had poor games as well where they were 2nd best but due to some referee mistakes, they had the upper hand.

    -Why is everyone so quick to jump on Rosell? Why is it that Garcia was stabbed in the back? Is it stated in his contract that he was supposed to get the job next season?
    Maybe Oscar Garcia didn’t want the B team job in the first place. Maybe he wanted to coach a 1st division club in England, Spain or England.

    Why is there a notion that Luis Enrique is a casualty of Rosell’s dictatorship? Again, maybe he is the one who wanted a step up to the 1st team. How much longer does the man want to coach a youth team?

    1. I support the use of video technology too. I dont understand the lame reason that FIFA have come up to implement it soon. This is the only real objective tools to avoid refereeing controversy. And yes, this 2012, perhaps the last year in this world history (if Mayan crystal ball is true) jk./ 🙂

  24. I agree with the sentiment of not blaming it on the ref, mostly because I am so sick of hearing soccer fans providing Mou’s list of excuses for our wins. That doesn’t mean I feel that the refs haven’t made mistakes, just that I would on the balance have no one complain about refs and just respect the results.

  25. Man!! Juve and Milan fans really hate each other…Looks like every country got that club where people just love to play that ref favoring card on.

    Ps-Italian football have been quite entertaining this year.

    1. Since the revelation of Calciopoli scandal, I don’t watch Seri-A any longer.

      I used to support Inter Milan back then. Read that Juventus is doing good this season, contending for scudetto again after that relegation punishment.

  26. Van Persie just scored a curling left footed shot near the edge of the box, reminded me of the kind of goals Messi scored quite a bit last year. What ever happened to those? Does it have something to do with the 3-4-3 that he doesn’t have as many opportunities to shoot from range, or maybe he’s just dribbling more?

    1. Yeah, great come back and deserved. Scratch Bale from my Wanted list after that blatant dive for the penalty.

  27. EE doesn’t look so sharp;still 0-0. They used to drop points when we least expect it.Keep hope. Go Rayo!

  28. From a German football news site:
    Eine eher schlechte Leistung reicht Real heute zum Sieg hier im Derby in Vallecas. Mit viel Glück und etwas Hilfe durch Schiedsrichter David Fernández Borbalán, der mit Abstand der schlechteste Mann auf dem Platz war, holt Real Madrid hier drei ganz wichtige Punkte auf dem Weg zur Meisterschaft

    They say the ref was by far the worst man on the pitch. And Real had quite some luck to win this match despite a rather bad performance.

    Sonebody tell me that the refs did not have any effect on a 10 (or more) points deficit. Or even better that Real deserves to be so much ahead. Fcuk it.

    1. Oh, and it also seems like there were a lot of dirty actions from the usual suspects, Ramos and Pepe, in the match.

      I’m sick of this.

      Justice shall be done in the CL !!!

  29. Kxevin – I completely agree. Reefing is a tough job and I think mistakes are made across the board. Sometimes they go against is and sometimes they go for us. I’m a big conspiracist, so I’m the first one to believe that there is something fishy going on, but I just don’t see it. I’ve watched too many games and over time the mistakes happen with all teams in all leagues.

    Today’s game, perfect example (off the top of my head) … Busquets hand ball in the box for a penalty not called and an offside call against Atletico that wasn’t that would have been a pretty good goal scoring opportunity.

    But, we don’t talk about those.

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