Barca 3, Sporting Gijon 1, aka “Today, we wanted it. Bad.”

We have an assistant at work. Her name is Rosemary. And like that same type of person in roughly the same support position in so many offices, she is indispensable. She has all the answers, even for things that she isn’t supposed to have the answers for. She does so much, and is always there. You have a thought, and she’s thought of it already. The humor is always good, and you wonder sometimes about value.

The prima donna writers and self-important editors whip around, preen and demand and Rosemary just makes it all happen, stoic, good-natured and invaluable. Nobody ever says “We can’t get it done without her.” Ever. Even as it’s true, day in and day out, because it’s often true that the more important people are overlooked.

Like Seydou Keita.

He’s going to be sold this summer, and our club is going to be the poorer for it. But for right now, let’s celebrate his, as Ray Ray would say, majestical, essential, Man of the Match performance in the way that it deserves:

Everybody, right now, adopt a quizzical “Huh? What?” expression for 10 seconds.

Remember this post, and how much I said I hated matches after international friendlies? This is why. This is precisely why.

I’ve been offloading my DVR this weekend, making DVD recordings of matches. I had just finished the Real Sociedad draw, and said to myself “That match was the turning point of the season.” Recall that it came after we hung a manita on Villarreal, with energy, fire, movement and beautiful, beautiful football. It looked like it was going to be another season off to the races. Then came Sociedad, and we were up 2 goals in about 15 minutes, again playing like dervishes in a match that looked to be over even before it got going good.

Then the wheels came off and on the road, they stayed off. Draw after draw, a couple losses thrown in and suddenly it was a 10-point lead to an Evil Empire that, like us the previous years, wasn’t making mistakes, gritting it out to win matches that they really shouldn’t have, prompting “Villarato!” conspiracy cries as people wondered about refereeing, fair or unfair.

Kinda sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

And writers like me questioned this club’s desire, match in and match out, the longing for constant, incessant victory that drove this club as if it was being chased by the hounds of hell, the desire that made it look so easy, even if it wasn’t. That desire has been intermittent this season but today, it was on staggering display. Never before in the Guardiola era has the side faced such a situation in consecutive matches, that in each instance called for brilliance and desire, for that indefinable something called want.

It would be churlish of me right now to chide them for not having the spine they had today, for wondering where it has been all season. For as I have noted before, they are humans. And it’s damned hard to be brilliant, to be at your absolute best match after match, week after week, sometimes twice per week. Can’t be done. So rather than calling them out for it, as has been noted before, we should understand, even as we acknowledge their humanity.

Because it is that humanity that makes matches such as today’s so beautiful, so exhilarating, so dazzling. When people ask me why I love this club so much, I won’t point to the 6-2 or manita against EE. I will point to this match, when we played mostly crap, like a club that expected the gimme that everybody was calling for. People were taking shifts off. It’s Hee Hee Hon, second from bottom of the table, a side who concedes more road goals than a cadre of blind sloths. Dude. Come on! It’s freakin’ Hee Hon!

Valdes, Alves, Mascherano, Pique, Adriano, Keita, Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Pedro and Cuenca strode onto the pitch, an XI that should have been sufficient, that should have worked, dammit. But Gijon was having none of it. They bunkered down, protected each other, battled, fouled, picked up cards and played with that extra mojo, that want that does amazing things. When a cyclist, however accidentally, gets the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, he rides with the strength of 10 men. It’s the shirt. Seeing blaugrana stripes has the same effect on our opponents, more this season than any other, and they say to us, “It will take your best to beat us today.”

Gijon demanded still more as they fought, clawed and battled. And for minute after minute, we didn’t have an answer until, like a rocket lighting up the night sky, a brilliant, perfectly timed run by Adriano was met by a perfect pass from (guess who) Keita. Adriano slotted to Iniesta who tapped the ball home and suddenly, Gijon was outdone by another one of those moments of brilliance. You work and work and work and then, you let up for a few seconds, and your keeper is picking the ball out of his net.

Not that Gijon was battling just us. They were battling the people saying “You don’t have a chance.” “You have sucked at the Camp Nou for eons, last beating this club in their house when there was a 1 in front of the year. No. Way.”

A lot of teams would have hung their heads after that goal, and said “That’s it, boys.” Because the playing of defense, the bunker mentality was over. They had to score. And so they did that, aided by a monstrous bit of stupidity from a player, Gerard Pique, who might have reached his nadir. Outrun by a streaking Gijon player, he brought him down. Then argued about the deserved straight red. As he stomped off the pitch, pleading his case, you could see a staff member say, with a gesture, “Shut up and get out. You hurt your club, you idiot.” Did the player sell it? Yep. But he didn’t really have to all that hard. In a different situation, maybe that’s just a yellow.

But players also need to play to the officials, not just the opponent. It was already clear that the official was incompetent and card-happy. Pique made his job easier.

Off the ensuing set piece Adriano got owned by his man who popped a cross into our box, a cross that Valdes usually charges and deals with, either clearing it or scooping it up. Today he stood there with his arms out, waiting for the ball to come to him and the attacker beat him to the pass, flicking it home.

And again, Gijon had something to play for, with a man advantage, and the match was dwindling. It was feeling like a home draw, another stinking, stupid, Liga-destroying draw and then, suddenly, came the two tide-turning substitutions, in Sanchez and Tello. These entries did a number of things, but most importantly it told the players that no, our coach hasn’t given up on the Liga. And they responded like champions, like lions who looked up and suddenly realized that something was being taken from them by a house cat.

Sanchez was everywhere, Tello was marauding, Iniesta awakened with a glory and style that made him far and away the best player on the pitch in the second half. Was it the absence of Messi that freed him from his shackles? Good question, one that we can natter about later, after we enjoy the wonder of a player who just seems to materialize with the ball in the exact right spot to help a teammate. His isn’t solo glory. It’s beauty at the service of the team, and it was at its fullest flower.

Despite all of that, you wondered where a goal was going to come from, as Gijon were deep in the bunker now, determined to take a point. And then it came, from an unlikely source — or a likely one, if you’d been watching the match closely. Because all match long, Keita had been playing his butt off, defending, passing, being where the ball was, forcing Gijon to take its attacking game to the wings, being so much more than a holding midfielder. And he took a flawless pass from Sanchez, measured, and spanked an unstoppable shot into the far corner, off the dead run. Cometh the moment, cometh the man. Because for this match to be fair, it couldn’t really have been any other player to score the go-ahead goal.

In past reviews, Keita has gotten a high rating and people would say things like “You jackass, he didn’t do anything.” I’d always reply “Go back and watch, and watch Keita.” Today was much the same. Yes, he came to light on the goal, but just watch him and his constant motion, his anticipation, his almost unerring sense of the right pass. Busquets is a more talented DM, who fits better into the system. I won’t argue with that for a second. I will, however, contend that there are matches that call for Seydou Keita, and today was one of them. Busquets doesn’t score that goal. Probably the only player on the pitch who could have scored that goal, scored that goal. And it was a stunner, for its timing, audacity and absolute quality.

It was also a goal that the team absolutely needed, like Messi’s delight of a free kick in the last Liga encounter, a moment of unquestionable genius that undoes work rate and best-laid plans. Without a perfect pass from Sanchez, maybe the goal doesn’t happen as a hard-working Gijon defender rushes over. But all Keita had to do was measure and strike.

Simple, right? Sport probably won’t do a graphic of that goal, as the media outlet did with Messi’s free kick last week. Because Messi is Messi, and Keita is …. well …. Keita. That reality makes his goal no less astonishing, even as likely/unlikely as it was.

The score was 2-1 and Gijon had no answers. Not any longer. From the attacking, the passing, the movement, it seemed as though it was in fact we who were up a man. Physically, fighting a draw has to feel different, late in a match, than wresting for an equalizer against a club that is suddenly fearless and energetic. They fought and fouled, we controlled, and cule hearts were in throats for all it took was a lapse. Playing 11 on 10, there should always be an open man, if they could find him. They never could, never did because we played like the best and hungriest club in the world. I don’t really care why, even as it’s my job, sort of, to try to sit here and parse what happened. But I just love the fact that it happened. Tomorrow is the time for ruing the absence of that effort in Pamplona or other spots. Today is the time to say “I love this club, for the fire and audacity that it showed.”

And yes, I expected a third goal, because Gijon were pressing in their own futile way for the equalizer, which means that our magicians were going to have an increasing amount of space in which to pull rabbits from unexpected places. So sure enough, it was a glorious trio of rainbows that concluded this match, that sealed it once and for all. Sanchez (again) ran, leaped and almost in mid-air, flipped a side footed ball to Iniesta, who flipped a deft little lobbed ball to Xavi, who flipped a lovely arc of a golazo over a hard-charging keeper, a ball that seemed to take for-freakin-EVER to nestle home, even as you knew that it had to. So much brilliance in such a confined space just has to be.

It was 3-1, the team had fire in its eyes and Gijon was Hee Hon once again, but with a lot more respect than it had going in, because that candy-striped band of demons, whose coach rolled out with young’uns who had fire, who wanted to bleed for the colors, brought out the absolute best in the best club in the world. Moral victory? If such things exist, absolutely. Probably in a fairer world, we would get 3 points and they would get 1. But in this one, to the victor goes the spoils. And whatever happens in the Liga this season, this match was one for the ages, kids. Yep. Hell, even with 9 men we controlled the last minutes of that match, as those 9 men played the 94th minute like it the first. And that, my friends, is want.

Team: 6. This match should have been over in the first half. Too many players took too much time off, or were ineffectual. Gaudy possession stats do not a victory make. But wowsers, what a second half.

Guardiola: 10. He did everything right, even the psychological move of starting Pedro. The subs were the exact right subs, even as he didn’t want to, shouldn’t have had to use Sanchez. Even the yellow for dissent was well-timed. “The Mister is fighting for us. Let’s go!”

Valdes: 5. He didn’t have a lot to do today, and screwed himself with uncharacteristic reticence on the allowed goal, particularly at the near post, a sin for a keeper of his quality.

Alves: 7. A very good match, at times in the first half seemingly the only player truly interested in attacking. Even late in the match, he could fire up the jets to become a difference maker.

Mascherano: 7. I just don’t see any reason, any longer, why he isn’t a regular starter. He is always around the ball, and usually (couple of bad giveaways) knows exactly what to do with it.

Pique: 2. He hurt his club with his actions. And if a defender is injured during the Champions League match, his suspension becomes even more stupid. And he wasn’t playing all that well before he got stupid.

Adriano: 6. Fine attacking moves, with some excellent runs. But Mendy got behind him too often and too easily on that goal, even as he stiffened after that.

Keita: 9. A spectacular match for a man who we didn’t really realize we missed until he wasn’t there. Constant work rate, great passing and a wonder goal. Was involved in 2 of our 3 goals, something that is easy to forget.

Xavi: 6. Invisible for too many stretches, with a number of misplaced, badly weighted balls. Then, like everyone else, he came to vibrant, stunning life. Which was good.

Iniesta: 6. Perhaps he took the first half off, conserving himself for the second, which was as remarkable as I have ever seen Iniesta. Were this a score of two halves rather than an aggregate, it would be 1st half 2, second half 10.

Fabregas: 3. It was almost like he seemed surprised that Gijon was going to fight as hard as they did. And laying on the pitch, appealing for a foul after you lose the ball is ridiculous. Get the hell up and help your teammates. He’s still learning what his role is, but he needs to be a lot better than he was today.

Cuenca: 4. For yet another match, he was physically overmatched on too many occasions. Whether this is because defenses have figured him out or the pressure is getting to him, I can’t say. But he isn’t getting the corner on defenders any more. Not even close. Which means no real width.

Pedro: 5 Misplaced passes, too much weight on other passes and an intermittent cloak of invisibility made for not a great night. Look at the difference that taking him off made in the attack. No, he isn’t Sanchez. But he should be Tello.

Substitutes

Tello (for Pedro): 7. A difference maker. More pace than Cuenca, more strength and more fearlessness makes an extraordinary combination. I can’t wait to see him after a full preseason with the club. He gets the corner, and destabilizes defenses.

Sanchez (for Fabregas): 8. Off comes an ineffective player, on comes an effective one. Work rate galore, probably to his detriment, as he is out for about two weeks with a groin tear. Such a dynamic player who seems to always be around the ball, even when it isn’t meant for him. The pass for Keita was as flawless as the flick to Iniesta was audacious. He ran, he defended. So Blaugrana, so early.

Puyol (for Cuenca): incomplete. He was the grownup brought on to stabilize the back line, and help the club see out the final stretch.

Kill the umpire!

Keita: Many complaints about the referee. You noticed it on the pitch too? We did, but we shouldnt talk about it.

Masch: I’ll repeat what Ive been saying for a long time now. I don’t talk about referees. We have to overcome all that.

The refereeing was shambolic. Was it biased? No. He sucked for both sides. It only seemed that we got the worst of it because for so much of the match they were hunkered down, absorbing pressure. But lord, was it bad. And card-happy. When Iniesta complains? Dayum!

And yet, we overcame it. Which, as Mascherano says, is exactly what we are supposed to do.

Messidependencia?

Interesting question this one, because not only was Messi not in the lineup, but said lineup played kinda stanky. When they did play, you couldn’t help but notice more ball movement and less focus, in a good way. Without those internationals, I would have loved to have seen Sanchez in that Messi role, and a better overall performance. There were times that I really liked what I saw in terms of movement and aggression on a side where too often, the ball goes to No. 10, then everyone stands around and watches.

What you miss with the absence of Messi is that dose of mercury, that potential for something great, even when he’s sleepwalking through a match. What you gain with the absence of Messi should be a group of players who learn to play the game on their own terms, without a wee genius to bail them out. What we got today was something approaching that last ideal, once Iniesta and the gang woke up.

Next up is a Champions League home leg against Bayer Leverkusen, who today defeated Bayern Munich 2-0. We are up 3 huge away goals, and pretty much have to not implode to advance to the next round. It should make for an easier, less-fraught match. And I don’t even want to know what Messi is going to be like for that match.

Finally, LET’S GO, ESPANYOL!

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Recent Posts

Written by:

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.

147 Comments

  1. Anonymous_69
    March 3, 2012

    Keita is such an underrated player! A lot of Barcelona fans view him as “a hard working and humble player, that’s all.” Which annoys me. Because he is actually very talented. Take away his humbleness and give him Ibra’s personality, and I would still consider him a very talented player. He has many unique qualities that go beyond running a lot and being nice. Like you said, Busquets wouldn’t have scored that. Take away his goal and his involvement in the first goal, and he still would be my man of the match. He kept the ball rolling in a way Busquets would be proud of, almost.

    • He was a great player before he joined Barcelona and he’s Mali’s main man. The brilliance we’re exposed to regularly seems to make people underrate how good our not-Xaviesta-level players are though.

  2. James08771
    March 3, 2012

    Thanks for writing up such a quick review of the highest quality. Much appreciated. Do you think part of Cuenca’s ineffectiveness is a result of him playing on the left instead of the right, where he has had success? However, even if he was bolting in crosses, Pedro’s and Fàbregas’ lack of movement would have rendered Cuenca’s crosses moot.

    I think the CL match will provide Pedro another opportunity to prove himself as we don’t necessarily need a manita to advance. I know that Fàbregas is more of a direct player with this Barça team, but today he looked completely lost. Maybe he would be more comfortable playing with a bright, creative force like Messi or Alexis because his darting runs into the box are complimentary with such players. Hopefully he improves sooner rather than later.

    Thankfully Alves had a strong match, because he was the only attacking force on the right side. We’re going to need a more balanced attack as we move forward. I just love how we’ve earned great results in our last 2 Liga matches. We may not be in the best form (and we’re still trying to get healthy again) but I think that if we re-ignite the “want”, as you put it, we’ll soon see our form return. Hopefully that will coincide with a dip in form with the current La Liga leaders.

    Thanks again, Kxevin.

  3. barca96
    March 3, 2012

    WOW. It must’ve been deep into the night at Chi-town now. Thanks for the review!

    A sleepwalking Messi is still better than one without him.

    • hansh
      March 3, 2012

      Messi got to feel the frustration of the fan for a day 😀

      Anyone know who he’s sitting with?

      • barca96
        March 3, 2012

        He missed Milito so much that he made one guy kept his hair long to look like Milito. On Messi’s right.

      • nzm
        March 4, 2012

        He’s sitting with the Barca coaching staff.

    • zashaw
      March 3, 2012

      That’s awesome! Messi likes football so much that if he’s forced to be a fan, he’s going to be the best fan he can!

    • BarcaOwl
      March 4, 2012

      That is a seriously adorable picture. I reckon he’d run on to the pitch to play if he could get away with it.

    • mom4
      March 4, 2012

      That pic is about 19 bizillion types of awesome with extra awesome sauce!

  4. barca96
    March 3, 2012

    -I’m sorry to already start criticizing your view and ratings but I thought that Alexis was poor. He screwed up one golden opportunity after an beautiful pass from Iniesta. All I see him doing good in the match was running about. Dispossessed easily a few times.
    I don’t know. I just didn’t see much good stuff from him apart from hustling.

    And he spends quite a lot of time on the ground.

    -It was a really good call of Pep to play Keita at DM. I said yesterday that I preffered him over sMasch at DM but NZM posted a line up from EMD or something that had sMasch at DM. Couldn’t sleep well (before the match). Thank God it proved to be wrong.

    -I LOL’d at Iniesta’s look after he was booked after protesting with the referee. He had such an innocent funny look when he walked away after being shown a yellow. It’s like he was running to hide at the corner 😆
    -Btw, maybe you should start adding an editor’s note at the bottom of your reviews before you having to explain how you evaluate the ratings and the standards for every player is different.

    • justsayin
      March 4, 2012

      I agree that Alexis was poor, as were all our forwards.

      Yes, a lot of running around and a lot of falling down, but he’s not really adding a lot for all his endeavors. He played much like he played against Atletico last week. He’s consistently a second slow with his passes/shot as well and he’s going to need to work on that to be able to assist and score goals. For me, he’s either hot or cold. Today, he was cold.

      • barca96
        March 4, 2012

        He’s consistently a second slow with his passes/shot as well</i<

        Can you imagine the kind of heat Villa would get if it was him. Villa does the same thing but get's a totally different support.

        • justsayin
          March 4, 2012

          Possibly from someone else, but I’ve faulted Villa for being slow, for his poor ball handling skills, for not finding another option than striking the ball at the keeper most of the time and for not playing the offside trap a bit better since his freshman season with Barca.

          I know it’s not fashionable to speak ill of Villa (and especially more so since his injury) but I give both Alexis and Villa heat for being a second slow.

          The difference, however is that I see promise in Alexis that I didn’t see in Villa. Alexis has foot skills and can take on defenders on the wings and that is some thing we lack and Alexis is providing. I believe he can develop the quicker thinking/passing that Barca employs as he continues to play in the system.

          Villa, IMO, was on a decline and an injury might only make it worse to bounce back to form. I believe he’ll come back as an impact sub, but I fear his best days are behind him. Don’t get me wrong – he was great in his day – but I don’t believe he will be able to rise to that point again, simply because of his age/injury.

          • Messiah10
            March 4, 2012

            Couldn’t have said it better. If Villa didn’t get injured, I think Pep would’ve sold while he can still get something for him. Chelski, maybe? RayRay and Phil said he was close to returning to full practice. Maybe he can make an impact in time for CL Final, then make a good showing at Euro’s, if he’s called back. If so, SELL!

    • nzm
      March 4, 2012

      The lineup was on Catalunya TV3 and so early in the day that it had to be a guess.

  5. justsayin
    March 3, 2012

    It concerns me that none of our forwards scored. It’s even more concerning that none of our forwards could score against Gijon who sit 19th in the table and have only won 5 games. And we had a lot of forwards today, 5 in total, and no goals.

    We never got out of second gear in the first half. Not sure why. Were we underestimating Gijon? We appeared to be because not until the equalizing goal did we step it up. And by “we”, I mean Iniesta. It’s likly he finally realized that the usual suspects were not on the field and he needed to make things happen himself. And that he did. He started making runs at the defense and opened things up.

    IMO, the red card on Pique was harsh. Yellow yes, red no. From where I sat, it was more shoulder to shoulder contact and a tangle of arms and legs right before the box which then the Gijon attacker used to his advantage to over exaggerate in hopes for a call.

    The blatant push on Alves in the box was a penalty.

    The reefing was poor and the amount of yellows shown didn’t even make sense. After a certain point in the game, everything was a yellow.

    Cesc was truly lost out there today. Not sure how much of that is his fault. What exactly is his position out there? What are they looking for him to do? Is he supposed to feed the forwards or is he a forward? Every game it seems he has a different job.

    And I second “Let’s go Espanyol!”

    • barca96
      March 4, 2012

      Nah, the red on Pique is justified. The Gijon player was through on goal.

      I agree with you on Alexis and Cesc. Cesc until now, only played twice in his natural position and that was when Xavi was injured. So we can’t really put the blame on him or expect much from him. He already scored more than he ever did at Arsenal.

      It is not an easy task you know going from midfield to being a striker. Playing in the middle of the park allows you much more time and vision. You need to have a striker’s instinct to play a striker.

      • justsayin
        March 4, 2012

        I, too, agree that the Gijon player was through on goal. I guess we differ in if we believe it was a “professional foul”. On replay, Pique did not pull his shirt, or hold him him back or kick him or trip him. At least, not clearly, IMO. It looked accidental, unintentional.

        To me it was shoulder to shoulder and then a tangling up of arms and legs. De las Cuevas pushed into Pique right before the box, trying to gain advantage and it was a dominoes effect from there.

        Not to say that Pique hasn’t committed professional fouls before, because he has and he should. But, IMO, Pique either didn’t have time to do it yesterday or decided he wasn’t going to risk it and regardless of intent, it worked against him in the end.

        Cesc still hasn’t found his place in Barca. It seems like he’s a natural sub/replacement for Xavi but interestingly Xavi seems to be much more available to play since Cesc’s arrival. Suddenly, Xavi’s achilles heel isn’t as bad to keep him off the pitch or maybe he plays through the pain a little more. I’m not complaining, because Xavi IS our midfield, but it does place Cesc in the difficult position of fining his “position” in a team that’s already master class.

        If there’s any room for improvement it’s in finding talent for the wings and Cesc is just not comfortable there. Alexis is working it out, Pedro seems to not be working it out, Cuenca IMO is limited in his skill set, Tello looks the most talented and the most comfortable there and I have high hopes for him, Villa is limited for many reasons and Ibi, I think I’ve already forgot what he could offer.

  6. blaugranaDOOM
    March 3, 2012

    Nice review. I agree with most of it. Keita was fairly dominant in the middle. Some team will be lucky to have him, but I think he stays. Barca don’t have another box to box player like that. I think he only goes if PSG or Liverpool offer 15 or more for him, which seems unlikely.

    I wouldn’t say we have Messi dependence. If Messi is out and we have Villa, Sanchez, and an in form Pedro, the score today could have been 5 or 6 nil. Without our best three strikers, we will only score 3 or so.

    I said in LB comments and elsewhere that is never a red for Pique. The blame for that should go to Adriano. What was he doing on that play? Anyway, Pique gets to the ball, goes shoulder to shoulder, the attacker cuts in front of him and hooks his leg in between Pique’s, and has no chance to get to the ball. The ref comes into the picture 3 seconds later, so he was 30 yards away and calls a red? Anyway, I put that down to a poor call and poor defending by Adriano.

    • barca96
      March 4, 2012

      It doesn’t matter how far the referee was. Pique brought down a player who was through on goal.

      It is not a case where the ref had to see whether Pique got the ball or hit the player first and the ball, all the ref had to know was that it was the last man and Pique brought him down. It’s as simple as that.

      • blaugranaDOOM
        March 4, 2012

        Well, I say referee positioning is very important. In this case, I would argue that it wasn’t even a foul. Just because a player goes down doesn’t mean its a foul. Contact does not mean a foul.

        • barca96
          March 4, 2012

          Pique bundled the guy over. The striker will always get the benefit of the doubt in that kind of situation. And there was no attempt to play the ball so the referee didn’t really need a hawk-eye for that.

          • Kimcelona
            March 4, 2012

            No attempt to play the ball? Pique got a foot to it afterall. He was going for the ball. He didnt bring the striker down on purpose. It was tangle and trip up. Nevetheless, you’re right, the striker does get the benefit of the doubt.

  7. Chiu
    March 4, 2012

    Some thoughts:

    – I agree with Kxevin, we saw the “want” back. Looked at the gesticulation of the players and Pep, buried in we’re still really really crave the league title. The comments we heard that Pep admitting lost in liga race was just to get rid of the 10 points mental load away from the players as early as possible. People usually doing the “self defense” mechanism in such circumstances by keep explaining all the reasons why we’re behind, say we confident to comeback and so on just to feed public opinion. Now, with that testimony, Pep indirectly has liberated the players to do such lip services. We can more focus in one game at a time, stop thinking about the 10 points, enjoy the chase and let see where the faith bring us at the end of season. It is part of being realistic and levelheaded, but at the same time the spark of hope is not off, YET. Just personal opinion.

    – Keita and Iniesta performance were fabulously amazing. Keita really live the common phrase: “we don’t know what we have until we lost it”. Remember when he’s in Africa Cup, some element missing from our game plans. I think if Iniesta could improve his goal scoring ability a bit, I dare to rank him equal with Zidane. His illusionista motion and ability to read the game really look like the re-embodiment of Zidane. ( I like Zidane so much since his Juve time, though he plays for EE)

    – Keita and Xavi goals were both awesome. I echo your thought and would bet all my money that Busi couldn’t do that Keiteeeeeeee drive. Xavi goal was simply world class, lobbing the ball with close range encounter to the keeper is marvelous. PSG want him with 62 million Euro? I agree with people that say that’s not enough to buy the soul and heart of FC Barcelona, plus the additional of world class skill set and experience they would get.

    – Pique red card was too soft. Deserved yellow but too harsh for red. I am not complaining here, but it was a wrong call from referee, which we all accept it; that’s part of the game 🙂

    – GO ESPANYOL! It’s much better if the fellow Catalan teams win the liga than the capital team, right? 🙂

    • Hahahaha at your last sentence I’ll assume you were kidding 😛 Espanyol preferring us over Madrid would be like saying Cules would rather a fellow Spanish team as in Madrid win the CL over Milan/Bayern/whoever right? They hate us specifically because we’re the fellow Catalan team. That’s how derbies work.

      • Xingxian
        March 4, 2012

        Brief end to my hiatus to jump in on a talking point:
        Frankly, if we DO get knocked out by ANYONE, I hope the Evil Empire wins the CL. I really do. I guess part of it is my partisan tendencies of La Liga > other leagues. I’m the kind of person who takes pride in this squad’s legacy in that it can accomplish so much in the face of such a powerful EE squad. Just like it’s not CR7’s fault that Messi lives and his legacy should not be diminished, so should any trophies we miss out on be diminished. Their roster is GOOD. My father keeps saying he can’t remember a full line-up as dramatically expensive and coated in international glory as the current incarnation of EE.

        Great review as always Kevin blah blah love and miss you all blah blah life’s great but still busy blah. Although the part where you mentioned we may very well not have Keita next season made me feel like clamping my hands over my ears and screaming “la la la I can’t hear you” at full blast.

        blah

        • messifan
          March 4, 2012

          Errr…if we don’t win the CL, I’d rather see other clubs beside RM winning. If this was before last April’s clasico series, I would agree with you about rooting for RM to win. But after that series, my dislike for RM has gone way up. I used to like Casillas and Ramos, but they have let me down.

          • justsayin
            March 5, 2012

            Me too. Anyone but RM. They aren’t a good example of the way the game should be played, on and off the field.

  8. barca96
    March 4, 2012

    Probably the only player on the pitch who could have scored that goal, scored that goal. And it was a stunner, for its timing, audacity and absolute quality.

    Now now, why would you think no one is is able to score that kind of goal? It was one heck of a goal but don’t tell me that Xavi, Sanchez or Cesc are not able to put the ball in the corner from that distance.

  9. Laurentiu88
    March 4, 2012

    great review

    iniesta truly did not want to loose this one!

    we should not be harsh on pique, he is not helped by masche’s deflection

    also, pedro’s goal that was called offside was correct because the ball came from a sporting player! this is what cesc was telling the referee. but it was hard to notice.

  10. Kimcelona
    March 4, 2012

    Damn, that was quick! Thank you, Kxevin!

    Keita was my MOTM too. Initially I would have just given it to Iniesta but after re-watching the match Keita was just every damn where! Cleaning up, passing, keeping play moving, getting into good positions in attack. Great game. He was solid and I missed his as-close-to-physicality gameplay in the middle.

    Iniesta was sublime in the second half. In the first I was waiting for him to break out of his shell. He NEEDS to do it more often. Too many times I have to be begging him to show his brilliance and I think thats why he may not get the recognition he deserves, imo, he may be too timid at times. Still number 2 for me!

    Anims Lexis! He’s a pretty fast healer so I hope he’s back by the Seville game. He is like a dream come true for me and to think I wanted Rossi over him in the summer :/ You can all throw tomatoes at me now lol

    I really didnt think Pedrito had a bad game. He’s slowly improving and I am GLAD Pep doesnt follow media hype and continues to start him. Really, how is he supposed to gain form if he doesnt get regular playing time? We need him , Pep knows this and thus is giving him the chance to get into rhythm for the end stretch of the season.

    And finally, while Pique’s card was as dumb as he is I honestly dont think that it was a red but I guess according to the rules of the game and the ref’s judgement he was last man and denied a clear goal scoring op? Hmm..He didnt even pull him down. De Las Cuevas(was it?) had a horrible touch and the ball got away from him, Pique like the big dunce he is clumsily runs into him and there is a tangle and trip up, and the “foul” was SOLD. Anyways I’m not complaining..maybe this will teach Pique some sense..or not. XAVI, of all people, had to push him away from mouthing off more to the ref and embarrassing himself and the club.

  11. BarcaOwl
    March 4, 2012

    That’s one quick review. Thanks a lot, Kxevin.

    • Messiah10
      March 4, 2012

      Yeah, Kxevin was practicing his “deadline” skillz! I kept surfing 2 BFB for a few hours after match, but thought he’d wait till tmw. Now I’m here and see it was late last night. SKILLZ!!! I’m fairly new and see he’s from Chitown. NICE! I’m from Naptown! We need 2 have a Fiesta for the CL Final!!!

      • Chiu
        March 5, 2012

        Agree, very quick finishing for such a quality review and it happens everyweek. Kudos to Kxevin.

  12. Judas Pissed
    March 4, 2012

    The chances of Espanyol even REMOTELY trying to beat EE today are a billion to one.

    • Jafri
      March 4, 2012

      To paraphrase Yoda: Do not, or do not. There is no try.

      • Ryan
        March 4, 2012

        Those are some pretty restricted options from the master Jedi!

  13. Helge
    March 4, 2012

    Great review, Kxevin. Thanks 🙂

    I agree with pretty much everything you said, except of one understatement.
    From the attacking, the passing, the movement, it seemed as though it was in fact we who were up a man.
    The way I experienced the match, it was from about minute 60 on that we seemed to be one man more. From that time on, the team showed that incredibly strong want that I envy Manchester United for. They have had soooo many matches facing adversity, in partiuclar during the last EPL campaign, where they still achieved a victory in the last quarter hour. Arsenal vs Spurs was an unlikely example of the power of want, too.
    I have not seen this attitude from us since the Iniestazo at Stamford. Yes, I think you can compare these two matches, with regards to power of volition. It’s sad that we are (and will be) still 10 points behind EE, as Pep said once again, this team does not deserve to be so many points behind.

    Ok, and another thing. Don’t really want to get into ref discussion, but I have to state my short opinion: He did not suck equally for both sides. We were disadvantaged. The handball was ridiculous. The sending off was a legal, but nonetheless a tough decision. Yes, he gave lots of yellows to Gijon, but that did not really affect their match or game plan. Ours was severely damaged by the sending off, and the penalty… do you know that this ref also whistled our match at Valencia, where he denied us two penalties, the first in aboput min. 25 after a foul on Messi from a player who was already booked?
    This ref was shambolic, but the wrong decision were not identically distributed.

  14. Jafri
    March 4, 2012

    Tiki taka: When it’s working, nine men play like twelve. When it’s not, eleven men can’t get past ten.

  15. lea_terzi
    March 4, 2012

    Thank you, Kxevin, for another wonderful, timely and honest review with just a hint of controversy we all love. Please, never change!

    I was going to argue about ratings for Iniesta and Alexis, but then THIS jem from Netherton caught my eye – way to lighten up the mood:
    http://soccernet.espn.go.com/feature/_/id/1029851/netherton:-why-mourinho-and-guardiola-should-change-sides?cc=5739

    Also, twelve point courier wrote a tactical review, that, albeit incomplete, is, for me, worthy of the match. READ IT: http://twelvepointsports.blogspot.com/2012/03/barcelona-3-1-sporting-gijon-i-used-to.html#more
    (in several instances it illustrates and takes Kxevin’s points further. I found the bit on Sanchez especially enlightening)

  16. lea_terzi
    March 4, 2012

    An appeal to moderators: could you please approve my previous comment, it’s linking to a hilarious article by Alexander Netherton and a tactical review of the match.

    Also, this from barcastuff:
    Barcelona have won the 4 games in which Messi didn’t take part this season. Goals: 17-1 [via fcb]

    • Helge
      March 4, 2012

      3 of them were CdR matches against 3rd Division teams.

  17. Gogah
    March 4, 2012

    brilliant review. encapsulates the match and my own emotions during it, exactly as it was.

    – keita’s goal just had to be. This was an immense goal, even messi would have been proud of. The way he was released by Sanchez was no less brilliant.

    – Speaking of messi, i wasn’t worried about his absence more than i was excited, cos we’ve always stepped up without him. this is the real barcelona. with him, it just becomes absurd, surreal.
    the bate borisov game, the inter 2-0 victory at home all come to mind where we’ve performed brilliantly without him.

    – Mascha is. He just is.

    – what does barcelona have to do to get a bloody penalty? Bleed?

    – We gotta re assess our lexus and figure out why it is going out to the repairs so much.

    – notice Xavi’s thought process before the goal was scored. He was released by the most orgasmic pass from his partner in crime, the don. he looks up to see that he’s alone with the keeper. he looks left first to see if yet another pass is possible, looks right to see if the linesman has raised his flag, then with an almost no-look, chips a ball which took all the time in the world to eventually reach home as you so eloquently and accurately put it.

    good stuff.

  18. March 4, 2012

    Both the situation for the red card and the goal were Adriano’s fault. Yet Pique is the bad guy again? Ok, his behavior after the card and after the game were not smart but it was a joke of a red card(yeah sorry….totally deserved) and if anything, more than half of the fault for the situation is with Adriano.

    So aeeehm…whatever dude..

    • Jim
      March 4, 2012

      Wasn’t going to get involved in this again. I watched the match last night, read the comments about Pique and couldn’t be bothered to defend him yet again. However, they have just shown extended highlights leading up to the RM Espanyol game and I’m now fired up again 🙂 Agree absolutely with Cesc Blanc with regard to Pique and Adriano.

      Pique (imo ) did not even come close to having a poor first half. His passing was spot on, his positional sense perfect, he was quite often the one who had to make the decisive forward pas after playing about with it at the back. not sure what incidents anyone would point to to back up anything less than a good first half. To blame the red card on him also takes quite a stretching of reality. One of our forwards lost the ball through a stupid attempt at a back heel.

      As the play develops, he who does no wrong at the back is completely skinned not even coming close to making a tackle ( would’ve been a good place to take a yellow but never mind.) He then, to his credit, chases back and is unlucky to have the ball deflect off him and into the path of the attacker who attempts to control it but the ball bounces awkwardly away from him allowing Pique to make a stab at getting it back. It is outside the box, the ball is bouncing sideways not towards the goal and Pique and he come together in a situation that is not even close to the blatant push on Alves in the box in the first half when Alves got the last touch on the ball and is manhandled off it.

      No wonder Pique was upset although it didn’t do any good arguing once the decision is given. It probably made it worse that the only other foul he was called up for all night was also not a foul as both players had their feet up at the same time but he was penalised. Did I mention Adriano’s stellar part in this incident? It was not Pique’s man who caused the trouble but Adriano’s. His defending just hasn’t got any better over time. He adds something going forward but is often a liability in defence.

      With regard to the goal Adriano was indeed at fault in being skinned so easily and I suppose you could add to that the three defenders in the middle who allowed the scorer to run unchallenged from the back post to the front. However, one who couldn’t be at fault for not getting a foot to the cross is again Mascherano – not unless he had 30 metre long feet. Have a look at his positioning ! Just after having his fellow CB sent off, he leaves the defence and races out on a wildly unsuccessful attempt to close down a ball a good 15 yards outside our box and is therefore missing in action for the rest of the move.

      My next gripe is about Iniesta. I’ve often said that he needs a little more arrogance in this team to believe that he is one of our few game changers. Otherwise, he will play through games letting others steal the limelight. He’s that sort of player. however, he didn’t just rule the game in the second half – imo, he had an excellent first half as well. As i was forced to head out to the pub last night I had to leave the Liveblog just before our goal but even by then you could see that it was going to come down to iniesta if we were going to do anything. He was a class above anyone else, including last night, Xavi. I didn’t see him lose the ball, his control was exquisite and the timing of his run for the goal couldn’t be bettered. What did he do wrong in the first half?

      On watching the game late last night and again just now I have to say that I do agree with kxevin’s desire comments. This team did want it and that was good to see. I also agree that Keita had a great game and would be a loss to the team although if he stays some of the youngsters will have to be moved on. Keita (I’m gonna add like Maxwell) has never let us down and if he does go it’s with my good wishes. He’s not as technically brilliant as the twins but then nobody in the world is.

  19. simple_barcafan
    March 4, 2012

    The question I want to ask his..why do ppl think that Keita will leave this summer? Does the club feel he is surplus to their requirements or does he feel he is not getting enough playing time…As far i see it, Pep loves him and would be reluctant to let go of him…Rosell too would not sell him, if Pep wants him in the team…

    • blitzen
      March 4, 2012

      There is a good argument for Keita leaving this summer, but it is by no means the certainty Kxevin seems to think it is.

      It all comes down to whether Keita wants more playing time. He could walk into just about any other team and be an undisputed starter. But according to the LBBVA Comparador, he has accumulated 838 minutes already this season in league games only (not including CdR or CL games). That’s about the same as Adriano, and more than Pedro. And he was away for almost a month at the African Cup of Nations. So that’s not bad at all. Also, if he does leave he has no guarantee of playing in the CL.

      And from the official site: “Nobody appeared in as many games, 56, as the Malian in 2010/11.”

      The other argument is his age and whether the club will want to sell him now while they can still get a decent price for me. In a business way that makes perfect sense. But I doubt very much if Rosell would sell Keita against Pep’s wishes. Not if he wants Pep to stay at the club. Pep clearly still counts on Keita and wants him there. Keita is still performing at a very high level–if his performance drops, that would be different. But right now I think it is up to the player. If he wants to stay, he stays.

      People had Keita all but sold off last summer, and he stayed. I think he stays at least one more season.

      • simple_barcafan
        March 4, 2012

        i think you are right blitz..

  20. Helge
    March 4, 2012

    Chelsea sacked Villas-Boas. Quelle surprise!

    But how stupid can one be?
    AVB always told his project needs time. The player material at Chelsea right now is not much better than their current position in the league. They are now in a transitional period, when will Abramovich learn you cannot expect immediate success???

    I hope this serves as a warning to Pep. IF there is any truth at all in the rumours from British media that Abramovich wants to have Pep as the successor of AVB in the next season, he will not be given more room for error than AVB, Ancelotti & Co. have been given.
    Abramovich might be so naive to think that with Pep, a Barca philosophy would enter Stamford Bridge. But that’s far from true. Pep should know that he cannot emulate the Barca style at any other club in the world, not even with billions of euros for the transfer market. It takes a decade or more for a whole re-strucutring of a club like Chelsea to bring them anywhere near where this club stands right now. Longevity needs time to be generated.

    Also, didn’t Chelsea pay about 30m € for the sacking of Ancelotti and his staff plus the signing of AVB?
    AVBs contract ran till summer ’14, so they will probably pay another 20m € in total.
    That makes 50m € for 7 month as a coach. This transfer even beats the 63m for Fernando Torres 😀
    Chelsea are definitely the best when it comes to burning money.

    Conclusion: Pep has to stay !!!

  21. hansh
    March 4, 2012

    I have a bone to pick with Iniesta’s rating. First of all, he absolutely was extraordinary in the second half, easily a 10.

    But a 2 for the first half? Maybe someone else payed closer attention to him, but I got the impression that he was playing solidly, having a consistent game to link up with Adriano, Cesc, etc. Nothing near his best but nothing near terrible either, doesn’t that earn him about a 5 for the first half?

    Also: anyone have a list of which players got carded? Cause it felt like everyone, on both sides!

  22. mom4
    March 4, 2012

    Excellent review.

    Please don’t leave Keiteeeee!

    Strangely, after the equalizer the camera showed closeups of Iniesta and Xavi who then had SERIOUS game faces and I was confident we’d win.

    • hansh
      March 4, 2012

      I love those serious game faces! You have no choice but to have faith in them when you see them.

  23. blitzen
    March 4, 2012

    From Pep’s press conference:

    “Guardiola had special words for Keita. “He scored a golazo [amazing goal], he never plays poorly. He does his best whenever I need him. He makes my job easier. I hope he can stay in this house as long as possible.””

    So Pep wants him to stay for sure.

    • Helge
      March 4, 2012

      Even more than that, he says having met Keita was one of the best things that happened to him over the last 4 years!

  24. messifan
    March 4, 2012

    Did anyone see Athletic vs Real Sociedad game? That was a goal disallowed in that game. Again Liga refs making yet another mistake.

    • nzm
      March 4, 2012

      Yup – the ball went over the line but the goal was not awarded. Woeful.

    • Para
      March 4, 2012

      Meant to say, from @fcblive on twitter

    • nzm
      March 4, 2012

      It’s a brilliant interview – one of the best that they’ve had after the match. Keita is a jewel.

    • culegirl3
      March 4, 2012

      Thanks for sharing! Awesome interview, his Spanish is very good 🙂

      • hansh
        March 4, 2012

        As someone learning Spanish, this video makes me happy because I can understand almost all of it! I guess it’s easier to understand another non-fluent speaker, because they speak slower and use more standard parts of the language.

        • blitzen
          March 4, 2012

          Yes! I find it fairly easy to understand Keita, as well as Abidal and, for some reason, Pep.

          Worst are Sanchez (is that even Spanish?), Messi (mumbles), & Villa (Asturians talk so fast!).

          • hansh
            March 4, 2012

            You’re right that Keita, Abidal, and Pep are quite understandable. Pep must make an effort to speak clearly!

            Sadly for me the rest of the team is much more difficult. I understand about one word in five that Messi and Sanchez say, and the Castilian accent throws me off still.

            The Brazilians are ok 😀

  25. nzm
    March 4, 2012

    Only a 6 for Messi???? Kxevin – you biased idiot. Oh wait…… 😀

    In a further act of stupids, Pique, in his after-match interview, stated that his sending off was a pre-meditated act by the referee because he and that ref had had “words” after a match earlier this season, and the ref was out to get even with him.

    I also thought that, along with Alves, Adriano was also very active in the first half. It says a lot when the LB is the one who is playing the most direct and going forward more than the rest of the team is!

    Oh yes he has – http://www.hasandrevillasboasbeensackedyet.com/

    • messifan
      March 4, 2012

      So now, what will happen to Romeu? Hope he gets to play more often for his own development but with instability surrounding the club, I guess his development might be hindered.

  26. blitzen
    March 4, 2012

    Can someone point me to a link of what Pique said after the match?

  27. nzm
    March 4, 2012

    Kxevin:

    If you watch only Cesc, you’ll see that Gijon man-marked him for the entire time that he was on the pitch – they singled him out as the danger man and stuck a tail on him. That’s pretty hard to deal with unless you’re someone of Messi’s calibre.

  28. hansh
    March 4, 2012

    In case y’all aren’t watching:

    In the 24′, a comedy of errors in the Espanyol defense and good passing from Madrid lead to a goal for Ronaldo.

  29. Ryan
    March 4, 2012

    I’m not even sure why Espanyol make the effort to fly to Madrid, because they surely don’t put any once they step on the pitch.

    • messifan
      March 4, 2012

      Seriously, this is the first time I watch a RM game outside the clasicos and it’s not even a game. Where is Espanyol’s passing game? Well the upside is Espanyol’s chance of getting the fourth spot is decreasing.

      • vivaespana
        March 4, 2012

        I don’t think 4th spot was a realistic aim for them, and should they somehow get it, its a massive achievement. Bigger than RM/Barca winning the Champions League.

  30. Messiah10
    March 4, 2012

    I completely agree w/Kxevin’s rating of Alexis, even if he did screw the pooch on Iniesta’s pass. It would’ve been a briliant intro for him as the Super Sub to Save the Day! I will COMPLETELY agree w/you that he is spending a lot of time complaining and simulating yellow cards. That nonsense needs to stop! He said he came to Barca to learn from the best, Messi. So shut up, get up, and get on with it.

    • Jim
      March 4, 2012

      I’m just as worried by his injury record. He’s either pretty unlucky or else he’s one of those players that will have trouble putting together strings of matches. Hope not.

  31. March 4, 2012

    Messifan brought up a great question, what happens to Romeu now that AVB is gone? It’s an unfortunate situation for Romeu, as the pressure on AVB meant he already wasn’t appearing very often, and he isn’t likely to feature much with a new coach in the hunt for CL qualification. Expect to see the veterans on the field most of the time in the blue half of London.

    Thinking beyond the end of the season – Romeu was brought in specifically by AVB. Not Abramovich, not the sporting director. AVB was hoping to groom him to fit in the more attractive style he was trying to impose at Chelsea. Chelsea’s struggles and the backlash against AVB in the dressing room have put the future of that vision in jeopardy. There is a huge chance the next manager won’t see a place in his squad for Romeu.

    When you add in the manager merry-go-round in Chelsea Romeu finds himself in a place where he may not get a sustained run of games for several years, which would really hamper his growth. It’s an unfortunate situation for him, but it’s one of the risks he took on by moving to a club like Chelsea

    • swamidigital
      March 4, 2012

      It’s really too bad, Romeu showed a good deal of promise this year. Chelsea are just on a merry go round of expectations, panic purchases, and no real proper team building. They should have stuck with AVB, but then he did know what he was getting into given Chelsea’s reputation.

      • vivaespana
        March 4, 2012

        I think the fact that AVB had lost the backing of the players including the likes of Frank Lampard meant that he had to go, irrespective of the results on the pitch. You can have a project when the members themselves are against it.

        • swamidigital
          March 5, 2012

          Yeah the problem is they needed different players though, more than any new manager.

  32. Helge
    March 4, 2012

    Oh, quelle surprise!

    Espanyol 3-0 down, not a single yellow card, not putting up a fight at all.
    ‘This is just too easy for Mourinho’s side. Pochettino, who is very highly rated for his tactical ability in Spain will be mortified by how easy his team have made it for the league leaders.’
    **** them

  33. Judas Pissed
    March 4, 2012

    Espanyol in ‘beat 4-0 by EE’ shock. Will someone apart from us please put some effort into playing EE..?

    • messifan
      March 4, 2012

      CSKA Moscow on March 14, 2012 will put some effort.

      • Nav
        March 4, 2012

        1-1 was a very good result for EE. Doubt CSKA Moscow will be able to stand them at home.

        • messifan
          March 4, 2012

          But they will put some effort. Today’s match was like playing against eleven blue and white cones.

          • Nav
            March 4, 2012

            Didn’t think Espanyol would get anything to be honest, and glad I didn’t even bother following that farce. 5-0 is pretty shameful.

          • vivaespana
            March 4, 2012

            I think RM deserves some credit here. After a few shaky performances, this was a very convincing display. Espanyol are better than CSKA, and I think the Russians too will be demolished if RM maintain the same level as last night.

          • messifan
            March 4, 2012

            Ye, RM played well but Espanyol did not even try to play. I didn’t see any pressuring or passing in their game today. I was looking for an entertaining match but that did not happen. It was very one-sided. It kinda remind of the 2nd half of Barcelona-Valencia game.

          • vivaespana
            March 4, 2012

            What I am trying to say is that Espanyol did not purposely play that way. RM did not allow them to get any grip on the game. Midfield was very strong, especially Kaka.

          • messifan
            March 4, 2012

            I’m not accusing them of purposely rolling over and certainly not expecting them to win either. But from I saw Espanyol played poorly. There were moments with no Madrid pressure and Espanyol still couldn’t string a few passes together.

          • Ryan
            March 4, 2012

            I don’t think Espanyol are better than CSKA. I’d say that Honda is better than any current Perico, and that as a team CSKA showed more cohesion and less nervousness. Let’s not make the mistake of extrapolating Espanyol’s games vs. us as their standard of play throughout the season, because we all know they step up their game twice a year.

          • Chiu
            March 5, 2012

            CSKA will certainly play their heart out in Bernabeu. Optimising their quick counter and snatch the first goal could probably their only chance to complicate the tie for EE.

  34. messifan
    March 4, 2012

    Pique is in trouble for his post-match comment. I’m torn over this. Yes, he should be punished for accusing someone BUT the league didn’t punish Mou or Casillas for their actions during last month’s clasicos.

    • Humphrey Bogart
      March 4, 2012

      I am really not one for conspiracy theories, but that is taking the mickey: JM can wait in the carpark for refs and insults them, he and his players can openly accuse refs of favouring FCB and nothing happens and Pique, in questioning a more than questionable decision (not to forget the 3 denied penalties, that even Marca acknowleged) and is charged? What do these old buffons smoke?

    • culegirl3
      March 4, 2012

      There’s nothing that can be done. I think if we go down the path of complaining about crappy decisions made by refs(even if we are 100% right) we begin to sound like Mou and company. We’ve got to learn to be better than that and take the moral high road even if what we really want to do is confront these refs and make examples out of each and everyone one of them, but that’s just my opinion.

    • Nav
      March 4, 2012

      Pique just needs to STFU. When Mo and company do this s*** they are smart about it — they don’t single out refs and all the rest is speculation. Pique singled out a ref for a specific call during post match comments. Either become smart like Pep/Mou and learn how to complain about refs or shut the hell up and stop damaging our reputation. Stupid. Hard to think that he comes from a political family; he doesn’t have any political savy at all.

      • blitzen
        March 4, 2012

        Mourinho did single out several refs in his infamous “Por que?” speech. I don’t think any of them were based in Spain, though.

        • Nav
          March 4, 2012

          And he was reprimanded for it. But the thing is it was Mou that was banned — not one of EE’s key defenders.

      • jordi™
        March 4, 2012

        Err Mou isnt savvy at all. This is a man that listed 13 errors of a referee after a match last year then waited by another’s car this year. He s never indirect, he names names every time. His porque rant named Ovrebo (had nothing to do with him), Bussacca and Stark. Before that the guy made Anders Frisk retire because his conspiracy thoeries caused the man to get death threats.The big difference is when he says these things in Europe he gets touchline bans and fines from UEFA. On the other hand The Committee in Spain take a see no evil approach. Theres nothing clever or smart about what he does.That said Pique should know there’s one rule for Pepe or Mou and one for us.

        • Nav
          March 4, 2012

          Yes, Mou did it — not one of EE’s key players. Ramos didn’t come out and say ‘the ref was taking revenge against me’. Just pissed at Pique now because there might even be a chance he misses more games.

          • Humphrey Bogart
            March 4, 2012

            Ramos not, but Casillas accused the ref directly without any punishment

          • vivaespana
            March 4, 2012

            Actually Casillas was booked at the time and later he apologised for his comments.

          • messifan
            March 4, 2012

            No, he didn’t. He made that comment after the match but yes, he apologized later on.

            Someone did get punished after that game and it was the ref. It was widely reported in the Spanish media that he is forever banned from officiating RM matches.

            From that moment on, I lose all trust in the Spanish officials. Politics is dirty and corrupt, and I hate it.

          • Chiu
            March 5, 2012

            Well, it’s the same Spanish Federation that let eye gouging and stomping hand of fellow professionals leave unpunished.

  35. messifan
    March 4, 2012

    Lol at Pep or Mou to Chelsea rumor. Seriously, why would Mou want to go to a club in disarray when he’s building a young and talented team in Madrid?

    And Pep to Chelsea!!??? Not going to happen. Pep will stay at Barca for another year. You can’t make an aging team like Chelsea play the Barcelona way.

    I’m really intrigued with Chelsea this season mainly because I really like AVB and of course, Romeu and Mata. But Chelsea have a few problems that they need to fix. First, get rid of a few sub-standard players. Second, restructuring the board. The constant interference by the Board over football operation is not going to help the team maintain stability. Third, have a long term vision and establish a connection/system between youth and first teams. They’ve spent quite a bit on developing their youth players but very few have succeeded. Last, buy better.

    I feel bad for Romeu and Mata. Both want to succeed and win something, I guess it will take a while.

  36. Jafri
    March 4, 2012

    THANK YOU ESPANYOL FOR PUTTING UP A FIGHT AGAINST MADRID AND ROLLING OVER WHEN YOU PLAYED US. OH WAIT, I GOT THE ORDER REVERSED.

    Twats.

  37. March 4, 2012

    Been on radio silence most of the weekend, but a few notes:

    –Adriano played a whole match without getting injured. Say what now?

    –@nzm: Yes, they man-marked Fabregas. I got 50 million that says he is supposed to be able to deal with that.

    –Yes, Adriano screwed the pooch on the Pique situation. Pique still had options in how to play the man. In choosing to make the play that he did, he put his team in trouble. Then he compounded matters with those dimwitted “premeditation” comments, post-match. He hasn’t been good this season. And I will never lay the blame at the feet of a damsel. Ever. But Pique hasn’t really been that good since he became Mr. Shakira. And that’s on him. You handle your business. Puyol is swapping one model for another, and you don’t see him slacking. Iniesta is now a father, which means relationship, birth, etc, and you don’t see him slacking. Messi is frolicking with a maiden that moms chased with a skillet, and you don’t see his game going to hell.

    So anyone who blames a WAG is misguided. But something is up with Pique, and he needs to fix it. Now.

    –Krkic didn’t look bad for Roma in the derby yesterday. Yes, he will be coming back in the off season, unless we come down a LOT on his price, or Roma lose their minds. And he will be returning to a world that is a lot more complicated than when he left, with the additions of Fabregas, Sanchez, Cuenca and Tello. Ouch. Any other options for him that anyone sees?

    –As I said. Espanyol probably loved rolling over like dogs for EE.

    • March 5, 2012

      Bojan should be sold to a spanish side where he can play regularly. the Roma experiment would’ve worked even with the whole adapting to new league thing if he’d have been playing 90 min.

      as long as that doesn’t happen, he will never reverse the goddamn curse.

      that is to say, bringing him back only to bench him is identical to Castilla boys treatment onto return from FC BK. shouldn’t Barca be above that?

  38. March 4, 2012

    Oh, to barca96 and Jafri: Yes, Keita was the only player on the pitch who could have scored that goal. Look at the length of his stride and the way that he ate up the space. Couple that with the ease of the strike, and the power behind it. Sorry, but nobody that we had on the pitch at that time could have done that. That isn’t to say that nobody had the quality to make that kind of a shot, but the physical gifts required made it unique to Keita. No, that wouldn’t have been true with Messi on the pitch. But he was in the stands.

    Keita is also the only player these days it seems, willing to shoot from the outside.

    –Even better is Ramzi’s gift for prophecy, via Twitter:

    Keita can unleash long shots … if the team give him the chance to play more advanced

    Keep Keita closer to the box. I’m telling you…

    On a serious note: 60th minute Tello for Pedro, then later on Alexis for Xavi/Cesc. Unless result is secured, then JDS.

    –And Villas-Boas was undone by coots and underachievers. Shame on Abramovich for taking the punk’s way out and firing the coach. That just means that shit players won the day, which should never be allowed to happen. Imagine if our players had done what Chelsea’s have done, to Guardiola, who essentially assumed the reins of Rijkaard’s team.

  39. nsaati1
    March 4, 2012

    bojan is on a 2 year loan, why do you keep saying he is coming home, we dont have to “lower the price” untill next season???

  40. K_legit in Oz
    March 4, 2012

    Pique’s acting like a stereotypical dumb blonde..shut the fuck up son and get on with your game

  41. messifan
    March 4, 2012

    Damn, I’ve been too active on this site today. So here’s my last post of the day.

    First, thanks for the review, Kevin! Agree with everything you wrote. Pep said in his pre-match press conference that he is also looking forward to seeing what the team can do without Messi, and I think he found the answer to be very satisfying. They showed a lot “want” in that match.

    I thought the first half was ok. When a team parked the bus like that, it was challenging to find a breakthrough. Cesc is not a striker and we were frustrated as a result. The sending off changed the team’s mentality. I thought the red card was harsh but what Pique said after the match was really stupid. Throwing out accusation at someone is a no-no for me. Pep probably told the whole team not talk about referee mistakes to the media and Pique did not listen. Personally, I would like to see see him being punished internally.

    Pique – I can’t tell if he’s been playing well since that Osasuna game because the subsequent matches were played against teams that didn’t really attack us that much.

    Pedro is another player who is really frustrating to watch. He has had a lot of injuries this season but he’s been given more opportunities as well and for some reasons, he is missing the confidence to take on players and start shooting at goals. I’m inclined to give him a few more starting matches and hoping for the best. I thought, he did ok in the first half but since Gijon defending so deep, nothing effective was realized. Cuenca needs to gain some muscles. He gets knock down too easily and it’s becoming annoying.

    Cesc is confused. Pep should assign him a role for the rest of the season and makes him play that role.

    Overall, I thought this was by far the best match of 2012. The fans were great and yes and the team also discovered that they can play without Messi. Also, Rosemary sounds like a real gem 🙂 We have one in our office as well!

  42. barca96
    March 4, 2012

    @barcastuff : the person who’ll have to judge a possible complaint against pique is a 85-year old ex-member of real madrid #fcblive

    • Chiu
      March 5, 2012

      Wondering why this same head referee didn’t lodge complaint when mou insulting referee in the parking area? It’s basically the same “attack” to referee. I don’t complain at all if Pique get punishment for his stupid allegation. But the other same cases must be responded equally too, to be fair.

    • kinukinu
      March 5, 2012

      This is a better comparison than you may realize–they call him “Imparatot” (“The Emperor”. ) (And the “Special One” thought he had the market cornered on megolomania in football!) Fatih Terim is the Mourinho of Turkey.

      • barca96
        March 5, 2012

        I did not know that Fatih Terim is a Mourinho equivalent in Turkey. I’ve always been an admirer of him for the way he brought Galatasaray up in the 90’s.

  43. Chiu
    March 5, 2012

    Some random thoughts:

    – Espanyol didn’t help at all. Next hope is Real Betis, they will play home against EE.

    – Messi and Busi will be back in action after a full week rest. Excited to see how the refreshed Messi performing. Pique should play as he’s suspended for next liga game. Puyol came in as subs in Gijon game indicate that Pep plan him for CL. A favorable match aggregate to provide Pedro another chance to restore his prime. My line-up for Leverkusen game:
    Valdes
    Alves – Puyol – Pique – Adriano
    Xavi – Iniesta – Busi
    Messi – Cesc – Pedro

    – EPL have many top jobs offering now. Chelsea manager is obvious. This season probably the last for Wenger. Rednkapp rumored to lead the Three Lions. Ferguson is on the brink of retirement too. Interested to see the coach constellation in EPL next season. I think some big names would arrive. Just wish it’s NOT Pep Guardiola!

  44. March 5, 2012

    i have to say, i love reading Kxevin’s reviews almost with masochistic passion.

    to be quite honest, nothing can possibly make me reconsider the opinion that la liga is lost and that now we’re just fighting for honour. in a way, it’s actually better this way. it kind of helps to know that RM will be simply cruising through opponents [although the 5-0 dismantling of Espanyol surprised even me. how low have Espanyol sunk. they’re almost as ridiculous as At.Madrid].

    so i believe the victory on Saturday comes as a result of not wanting to lose the game they didn’t expect to lose. watching the first half, except for lack of finishing, it’s all there. the desire to win, the acceptable passing, the chances.

    then comes the key moment, Pique with the red. that’s a red, no matter what spin doctors say. and with the way things are and the obvious double standards in refereeing, that could only be a red. also, Pique is a moron for those comments, they’re more hurtful than he thinks.

    and not only the red, but the quick equalizer kind of pushed us out of our skin. the game would’ve been a lackluster 1-0 without the red. this way, Barca showed a lot of strength and made some clear points. we can still kick butt when we want to. a fair warning for future opponents in competitions we can still win.

    but not as still liga hopefuls, come on! it’s ridiculous to still think it’s possible when RM dismember what’s supposed to be a hard team. yup.

    that being said, Pedro is confirming how average he is more and more with every game. hopefully he gets booted in the summer [and not Keita.]

    Alex still has fitting issues, but he’s fantastic at breaking through defences and speeding up play. much props to him for his performance. for a player i had no time for most of the season, he’s certainly proving me wrong lately.

    but it’s ok, there’s still Pedro proving me right.

  45. Chiu
    March 5, 2012

    For the first time, I’m just checking out the remaining fixtures between us and EE in the liga. Points to share:

    – Objectively speaking, their set of opponents and the venue will be more tricky compare to us. There are still reasonable possibility EE would drop some points. I have small wish that one of Betis, Villareal, Valencia, Osasuna and Atletico Madrid could do us some favor between now and 21 April.

    – Perhaps the 10 points wouldn’t be cut down quickly, but a few crappy results would put some pressure on them. For instance, if they just drop 4 points before the 21st April and we hypothetically win the classico; we probably could keep the title hope alive until the last “do or die” jornada. Of course all I said above come with hopeful postulation that we drop zero point.

    – Complacency from EE, perhaps??? 10 points is a very comfy gap in the top league. It happened to us two seasons ago where we end the league with only 1 point ahead of the runner up after leading by 12 points before winter break. It may occur to other team too, they satisfy and slack a bit, and then it’s backfired.

    – Up to now, EE yet to experience a bad form spell this season. Either they made comeback, referee “bail them out” or some magic from their billion bills galacticos save the 3 points. If they continue doing so, they would finish the league with 106 points. But if my history grade is valid, it only happened one time in La Liga record that one team can bag more than 100 points in a single season. So it’s pretty realistic too; to think they would lose some points, somewhere.

    PS: Guys, please don’t shoot me for raising this “unrealistic, delusional and so on and so on” and too many “ifs” comment. Just sharing my thought. Peace 🙂

    • March 5, 2012

      I also like your optimism. They will drop points that’s for sure but complacency will not be an issue. They are desperate to win the league and show as much in every game. Also, Mourinho is simply not the type to let them get complacent.

      We just need them to lose one and draw two to opponents other than us. Then the Liga is back in our hands. A big ask the way they are playing at the moment.

      • barca96
        March 5, 2012

        I don’t want to think far ahead but how many points does EE need to drop in order for us not to have to do the Guard of Honour?
        Anyone has the numbers?

        • March 5, 2012

          we just have to be under 15 pts apart before the Clasico.

          as long as it stays 10 pt, we’re in the clear.

  46. March 5, 2012

    New post up, folks. It’s Part One of a Q&A with Graham Hunter about his new Barca book.

  47. mega_tajh
    March 5, 2012

    The Guard of Honor is what pretty much set fire in our squad to go on and win a treble the following season.

    As humiliating as it is, it can be a great wake up call for certain players in our squad, especially if it happen on our home ground.

    One thing for sure is that after Saturday’s game the players responded brilliantly well after Pep said the “gave up on the league” quote.

    Maybe the exact response he hoping for.

  48. dessalegn_asfaw
    March 5, 2012

    Right on about Keita. Right temperament, right skills for the way Barca play.

    BTW, Barca should have kept Toure, too, if at all possible.

    But I’m worried about Sanchez. He keeps getting injured because he does too much weightlifting and other similar type training.

    When are the Barca training staff going to wake up?!

    If he goes back to his natural weight and body structure, he’ll won’t get injured nearly as often, and his touch, which used to be excellent when he was younger and not bulking up, will return. He may loose a little bit of strength, but that’s better than losing an entire career.

    • swamidigital
      March 5, 2012

      The training staff seemed to do a good job with Messi…

Leave a Reply