Brief Bayer redux, aka “Notes from a churl”

So. Personal manita for Messi. What is there to say, really, about this match from the best player extant? Everyone has soiled themselves, had orgasms and exhausted all superlatives in verbal, cyber and print chroniclings of his remarkable feat. 5 goals in a Champions League match. I followed it on Twitter, then went home to watch, and formed my own impressions. I’ll start by saying this isn’t a match review. So no ratings or anything of the kind, just a few observations and questions.

–I’m going to be a churl here and have the temerity to suggest that the headline for a justly-analyzed viewing of this match would be “Barca destroy willing opponent.” Bayer didn’t have a chance in hell in this leg. They knew it, and the played like it. “Pressure? Why, they’re just going to pass it around us, and no way in hell are we going to overcome a 3 AWAY goal deficit. Sure, that’s going to happen. Why kill ourselves?” So they didn’t. And we cruised in third gear, which was more than sufficient to kill them.

Another hard truth is that Bayer didn’t have the quality to overturn that deficit, even had they had the effort and willingness to do so. This was very different than the Arsenal/Milan match, where Arsenal had the quality and the wherewithal to overturn a 4-goal deficit. The circumstances were also very different, in that Milan’s were home goals, rather than away goals. But Bayer would have had to win 3-1 just to force extra time. 3-0 to advance, etc, etc. Either way you look at it, the possibilities were absurd to contemplate. Miracles are one thing, going into the house of the best club in the world with a 3 away goal deficit and hoping to overturn it is beyond miraculous. Does this affect how athletes approach a match? Good question. Watching Bayer play Bayern Munich on the weekend was a very fascinating comparison in belief vs resignation.

–I wouldn’t dream of rating Lionel Messi for this match. He has become like certain performers, who are critic-proof. “It doesn’t matter what that jackass thought of my beloved band. I thought they were magical.” I got a lot of that as a music critic, and player ratings aren’t a whole lot different. But I did note some things, gleaned from the first 20 minutes of so of the Bayer match, in the voice of someone who doesn’t really know The Truth of what they were watching:

Why is that No. 10 guy not trying? He’s just walking around or standing there. He ran toward those other guys, lost the ball then took his sweet time getting back up. Now he’s standing there again. Boy, that pale guy sure looks like their best player. Is he?” Rio Ferdinand Tweeted, early in the Bayer match, “Messi doesn’t look interested tonight….!!”

Yes, this was obviously mistaken. And the person who didn’t know The Truth would, later in the match say, “Boy, that No. 10 guy is something, isn’t he?” And what makes Messi critic-proof is goals. It becomes impossible to rate him over and for a complete match, because of those goals. He scored 5 of them, so his rating should be an 11. Which all depends. Interesting.

–Here’s another pain in the ass question: When Ibrahimovic sauntered around, stood in place and watched the match until the ball came to him, cules called him lazy. When Messi does it, he is considered masterful at conserving his energy, a genius at reading the match, etc. Leaving aside the personality differences and dedication to the cause, which are well-documented, what’s the difference? Yes, that’s a legitimate question. I got some interesting answers on Twitter. They should be even better here, given the quality of discourse. (This is, of course, leaving out the obvious personality differences, and ultimate dedication to the club and cause.)

–Nobody should ever scoff at anyone giving or not giving Messi credit for being a great player, because it doesn’t matter. So what if some say that he isn’t going to be the greatest ever until he wins a World Cup. Why does it matter? People will always use whatever malleable standard they want to champion their chosen player. So Thong Boy isn’t one the greats because he doesn’t make him teammates better, and hasn’t won the biggest trophies. He just scores goals. Messi isn’t one of the greats because he hasn’t won a World Cup. Etc, etc, etc, etc …. It doesn’t matter to fans and supporters of those players. Brazilians will hear Pele’s geriatric grousing and say “Yeah! Win a WC, then we’ll talk.” Argentines will say that Pele is silly, that Messi is already the greatest of all time, and so forth.

Like what you like, and do what you do. None of the rest of it matters. It’s similar to audiophile message boards, in which someone wades in with a silly question such as “What’s the best amplifier for $5000?” Then you get 927 different answers, all passionately argued, because everyone believes in what is the best to them, even as differences in perception, auditory perception in particular, means that the question is impossible to answer. And so it is with Messi.

–Ssssssh! This is two matches that Adriano has played without getting injured. Is a trend developing? Yes, I know I jinxed it, and he’ll probably get run over by a Barcelona Bus Touristic. But it is pretty remarkable.

–Speaking of remarkable, how remarkable was the Tello brace yesterday? Another good question. Bayer were truly beaten down by then, right? I like that he did it, I love that Guardiola had the confidence in Tello to put him into a match that was …. wait a minute …. fundamentally meaningless, over and done with. Still, the experience was good, and his talents were put on display: the dude has pace and is fearless. He doesn’t seem to respect anything or anyone, which is how a fast, talented young player is supposed to be. Is he the second coming of anything? We don’t even know if he is the first coming of Tello yet. Let the lesson of Pedro serve you well here. Or more recently, Isaac Cuenca.

–I was working on the day that Michael Jackson died. A lot of people forget that Farrah Fawcett actually died first on that day. Our newsroom swung into gear, then when Jackson died, Fawcett became a news coverage footnote. So it is with APOEL, who turned a pretty remarkable feat in taking out Lyon yesterday in the other Champions League decider. The Cypriot side that could moves into the quarterfinals, a thing that nobody, but nobody (except its most rabid fans) gave them a chance at pulling off. Scoffers will say that Lyon hasn’t been all that convincing this season, etc, etc. Still, APOEL is in the quarterfinals. Then some wee genius goes and puts 5 goals on the board, and nobody cares all that much about APOEL, except their fans. Hats off to them, and here’s hoping they don’t get us in the next round, because we aren’t Lyon. Not even close.

–In the “Who would you like to play in the next round,” Ramzi wins with his call: CSKA. For all of the obvious reasons, right?

Now to stop, before this brief thing becomes something not at all brief.

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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.


  1. Manish
    March 8, 2012

    We all know who’s more effective though during those ‘non walking’ periods.. that’s what matters…

    • Barca_Donut
      March 8, 2012

      When Messi looks lazy, it’s because he’s waiting for a gap to open up to spring into action.

      When Zlatan looks lazy…it’s because he’s lazy.

      • Miguel
        March 8, 2012

        I love your handle. I want to make love to your handle.

  2. mega_tajh
    March 8, 2012

    Kxevin brings up another worrying point. The sudden rise and fall of Cuenca so to speak.

    He was a bright spark when the team was in its bad patch of results but now he is looking kinda lost out there.

    Any ideas as to why guys? Talent doesn’t seem to be any issue with him, maybe just having a hard adapting with our fully fit lineup?

    • blitzen
      March 8, 2012

      He is 20 years old. 20-year-olds are inconsistent. He came in with a huge bang , was important when we needed him, and is now working his way into integrating more fully with the way the team plays. Let’s not forget that last season he was playing in the Segunda B division. He is on a huge learning curve and maybe a little out of his depth at times, but overall his progress has been good.

      • cuqui
        March 8, 2012

        This. Plus that opponents have seen that he’s effective in space, but if he’s got a body or two put on him he doesn’t respond well. Physical play shakes him at this stage.

        What is intriguing about Tello besides the fearlessness is his pace. When players try to body him on the wing he just blows by them. Need to see if he can play in crowds, but so far so good. Would be fun to watch Tello v. Bale in a dead sprint!

      • barca96
        March 8, 2012

        I’m still pessimistic on Cuenca.
        This is the order whom I think will shine the most in the coming seasons and next to it their bread and butter skill so to speak.

        Thiago – mad skills and vision. will last long.
        Tello – pace, can last long either
        Pedro – killer instinct, can fade once confidence is gone.
        Cuenca – going to the byline, one trick pony, oh so predictable after a couple of matches.

        • nzm
          March 8, 2012

          Tello also needs more arrows in his quiver. Once everyone gets familiar with his curling shot around the keeper, it will be easier to predict. At the moment, he has the element of surprise on his side, because not many opposition teams have seen him play.

          For his 3rd attempt last night, he would have been better shooting to his left of the GK instead of going right again.

          Hopefully his skills will mature as he progresses.

        • ViscaCalifornia
          March 9, 2012

          I don’t accept the premise that Cuenca has been neutralized. Without blowing by defenders as much as in his early appearances, he’s been providing width, linking up very well his (first team) teammates, and keeping possession with his great skill on the ball. The confidence the regulars have in him becomes immediately apparent. From the moment he enters, he’s receiving a lot of crosses which he seem to always control brilliantly (his traps are sublime in my book). He also makes smart/fast decisions with the ball – what Guardiola calls speed of mind. I don’t mean to suggest that he doesn’t still needs to improve, but This kid’s an obvious keeper.

          Tello is faster, and as we all know – speed kills. From a smaller sample size he appears to be a better finisher as well. I’m not, however, sure he’s any more of a talent.

          Love La Masia. Keep ’em coming.

      • G6O
        March 8, 2012

        The more worrying possibility is that he was simply an unknown quantity in those first games, but now teams know how he plays and can successfully neutralize him. Because as said above, most of what he was doing was using pace to get past a defender and then cross. Pace is a very useful quality but pace is actually a lot easier to defend than people think if pace is all you rely on – there is a reason Christiano has never been able to dribble his way through defenses against top quality teams the way he does against the lesser sides and it is that despite all the stepovers to show off in acres of space, he actually relies mostly on pace to do it and keeps the ball too far away from his feet, which makes him very easy to stop by a moderately well organized defense.

        The same concern exists regarding Tello.

        Pace can only get you so far in this game – people tend to not notice it because of the goals and the way he weaves through the defense, but Messi isn’t at all that fast compared to other top players – he is by no means slow, especially given his size, but he is nowhere near Christiano for example. And many of our players are like that – if you watch the rare occasions when we counterattack and compare them to the counterattacks of EE or some of the other teams, ours look like in slow motion. But we make up for it with skill and vision

        Cuenca is by no means the kind of unskilled player that only runs past defenders – there have been youtube videos of hum freestyling long before he made his first appearances for the club and he has those almost Ronaldinho-level street football ball control skills so he can definitely do a lot more than just cut to towards the line and cross. And he has been in La Masia long enough for him to have developed the passing skill and vision to not be so one-dimensions. But we haven’t seen it, hopefully it is just a matter of time.

    • Helge
      March 8, 2012

      I think they promoted him too early. Didn’t he receive a professional contract, or at least he was guaranteed a contract for next season, after just 5 appearances with the first team?

      • G6O
        March 8, 2012

        Yes, but there is also that issue with players from the B teams only being eligible to play a certain number of games with the first team or be promoted otherwise. So after all the injuries, they had not choice I guess.

  3. blitzen
    March 8, 2012

    I’ll have more to say later, but I just want to mention here that Lionel Messi is now only seven goals from equalling Cesar’s record as Barcelona’s all-time top goal scorer.

    He is still only 24 years old. He could have another 10 years or more ahead of him.

    He can still get better.

    • barca96
      March 8, 2012

      And I was so sure he would only equal that record next season.

      • G6O
        March 8, 2012

        I remember that debate – the consensus was it was going to be next seasons. Yet he is on pace to score more than 60 goals this season. 60 goals!!!!

  4. March 8, 2012

    The fundamental difference between the way Messi’s pitch strolling is perceived as compared to Ibrahimovic’s is their speed in stepping up and quickly integrating into the game.

    that’s pretty much what i said on twitter. Ibrahimovic is largely a static player, mainly because of size. he’s quick for a guy his size, sure. but he cannot beat a saviola type player.

    Messi isn’t static even when he’s ‘resting’, at least that’s how i perceive it.

    Ibra watched the game as a spectator, sometimes baffled by what was going on while Messi watches the game as directly involved and ready to jump in, because largely, he knows what’s going on.

    that means that when the M-moment comes, Messi can jump into the game, collect that pass or run to that spot and do his magic. Ibra obviously cannot [could not]

    when this happened, Ibra looks disinterested, passive and in the end, like he’s not even trying anymore [sometimes it was painfully obvious].

    i was hugely pro Ibra and backed him up to the point of endless frustration, but there came a moment when even in my blindest, i couldn’t ignore the fact that he had, in fact, given up.

    given up on what? on fitting in the system. because 2009-10 was the season that we moved all our fire power onto Messi – the birth of the false nine – and everyone else was simply Messi’s assistant. Ibra was forced in a position he couldn’t adapt to.

    he had to become quick and agile and a servant [of passes] and for the better part of the season, he actually did try to do that. but once he understood that in Pep’s Barca, there is no try, only do, he stopped trying at all.

    which leads us to the second fundamental difference: Messi’s used to the system, so he can drift in and out of the game almost unnoticed [for the end result. take last night’s game, it didn’t matter that Messi was strolling most of the time, he popped up and scored 5 times!] while Ibra was not and his slipups were far more obvious.

    [it didn’t help that he stands out so easily in a sea of midgets. or that any foul was foul in attack because of his sheer size].

    which kind of ends the objective analysis of the matter.

    i could add that people were so pissed off with Ibra because of who Ibra is. a choker who had come to our team to choke on our team and prevent us from CL glory. people were harsher on Ibra than they’d ever be on Masia raised, polite, humble, decent Messiah.

    as for Tello, i know it’s way too early, but i think he’s a more solid candidate than Pedro ever was at taking the right / left? seat next to Messi.

    • nzm
      March 8, 2012

      It also didn’t help Ibra’s cause when he strolled around offside for most of the time. When the ball did come to him, possession would be lost because of his offside position. There was simply no effort to be spatially and tactically aware in relation to his position. It was almost like he was taking himself out of the game.

      • March 9, 2012

        hmm, Villa is the Offside King. are you sure you want to get into that comparison?

        • nzm
          March 9, 2012

          Sure – but Villa is offside going forwards. Ibra was offside standing still or walking back. 😀

      • Ibra was often like a block in our fluid movement. A fast or slow paced fluid movement of ours, when it reached Ibra, it was like there was a road bumper. Most of those moments, he was a hindrance to the fluidity of the movement. I dont think it was because of his lack of skills, but something else, mindset or may be he still wanted time to understand and adapt to it. (for eg: look at the recent Keita goal, which was assisted by Alexis. Imagine Ibra in place of Alexis, I really dont think Ibra would have made that brilliant one touch assist)

        Messi, even when he is passive, exactly knows where Barca’s passes are going to (He commented that all La Masia players know where the ball is heading to, before 2 passes itself), and can make a quick burst or whatever as required from a static position within milli seconds.

    • Bill
      March 8, 2012

      Amen! Not to forget that Ibra hid next to defenders when the ball got close to him, and never even attempted going into midfield to help out like Messi does

  5. olbucky
    March 8, 2012

    Pedro had some tough breaks yesterday. Two great saves prevented him from scoring and no support on one play denied him an assist. Even though he didn’t score his movement was good and I was encouraged by his play. Tello has been impressive EVERY time he has played with the first team. Thus far no defender seems able to keep up with him. I’m not sure what else he can do to move up in the pecking order. I’d certainly favor him over Cuenca at this point. It will be interesting to see what Pep does with the line ups in a few weeks when the league is all but decided. Right now I see Tello emerging as the best option on the left wing. I’m sure he’ll be great as a starter but he’s downright lethal as substitute. His pace against tired legs is proving to work well.

    On another topic. I’m surprised that Pep doesn’t use Thiago more as the Xavi replacement. More often than not he puts Cesc in that role. Cesc is a great feeder but plays nothing like Xavi and doesn’t really take command of the pitch the way that Xavi and Thiago do. On a given night Xavi and Thiago have very similar passing statistics in terms of total passes and percentage. They are both basically point guards. Cesc just isn’t that guy just like Iniesta isn’t that metronome guy. But having that metronome guy as part of the squad has been critical to Barca’s success. Over the last several years watching this team I’ve come to realize that I’m always nervous when:
    1) No Iniesta on the field. (what is it 47 matches without a loss)
    2) No Puyol on the field (We almost…never lose with him out there. He keeps everybody’s head in the game)
    3) No Tito – Pep needs him. End of story. (Bad things happen when he’s not there)
    4) Dani Alves wants to dribble the ball out of trouble in front of goal instead of just clearing it. He’s been doing this since he first came to Barca, yesterday was just the worst example. One day it will cost us dearly.
    5) No Xavi…or…Thiago . One of these guys should be on the field in that midfielder role at all times. They should be platooned and both will get lots of time. Xavi needs lots of needed rest extending his career. It all works out perfectly. Pep are you listening?

    Last topic on losing the league. I think it’s fairly simple. Pep had a squad that he was very concerned with getting everybody playing time and made the decision the not just primarily go with his best 11 as he’s done the previous 3 years. He brought everyone into the game and it hurt us. When we lost a game and Sergi Roberto is playing while Xavi and Iniesta are on the bench, that’s hardly a team on the decline. Should we be able to win without Xavi and Iniesta, sure, but with them we do. It’s not just that it wasn’t out best 11, sure we had the talent but the chemistry that out best 11 developed playing together week in and week out over the last three years was incredible. I think Pep had a tough time getting that out of the squad this year due to the varied line ups.

    The bottom line is that Madrid knows that our best 11 is still far superior to anything they can put on the field. That makes me feel warm at night.

    • Ryan
      March 8, 2012

      I don’t think Thiago recovered from the knock he picked up on international duty. Thiago plays a part in Pep’s plans, considering how often he’s played him this year.

      • olbucky
        March 8, 2012

        Hey does get a lot of time but in big situations Pep’s opted for Cesc in that position over Thiago. I think Thiago does a much better job of filling the Xavi void than Cesc does. I just think that Xavi and Thiago bring a unique element to the game in their style. Their per game passing statistics are remarkably similar.

  6. Helge
    March 8, 2012

    To put it short, the difference between Messi and Zlatan is what they do with the ball in the relatively short moments they get it.
    Although Messi is trotting over the pitch most of the time, he usually creates enough material for a 7+ min highlights video.

    Also, I would like to bring up an adventurous thesis: Messi helps his team more by constantly sauntering around than he would by moving faster.
    Due to the above mentioned things that Messi can do once he has the ball to his feet, almost any team doubles or tripples up on Messi. Even if he is in midfield, usually at least 2 players focus on him. Thus creating space for his teammates. He does it indirectly, simply thanks to his skill. Others create space by running around, Messi does by bein there. Now, if Messi moved a lot more, would the teams still double or triple him so much? Or would one of the players soon think ‘No, I won’t run around the whole pitch following that guy the whole time. That’s the task of a single man-marker’? I can’t imagine several players paying full attention to him if he moved as much as, say Pedro. But by being static, he seduces the opponent to mark him with 2+ players.
    And well, as long as you’ve got the skill to pass by 2+ players once the engine gets started, nothing is wrong with that (Ibra does not possess that skill, nobody else does!).
    This might be another reason, apart from energy saving, why Messi rests a lot.

    About Arsenal and Milan: For sure Arsenal has way more quality than Leverkusen and they had belief. Nonetheless, it was down to the mentality of Milan that Arsenal still came close to a wonder.
    The German commentator asked the pundit, Matthias Sammer, whether he sees even a slightest chance for Leverkusen for a comeback against Barca.
    His answer was short and simple: ‘With all due respect to AC Milan, this Barcelona is a much more serious club and they would never allow such a comeback’.

    • blitzen
      March 8, 2012

      Due to the above mentioned things that Messi can do once he has the ball to his feet, almost any team doubles or tripples up on Messi. Even if he is in midfield, usually at least 2 players focus on him. Thus creating space for his teammates. He does it indirectly, simply thanks to his skill. Others create space by running around, Messi does by being there.

      This right here is a very important point. There was a moment in yesterday’s game when Messi was literally surrounded by 6 or 7 Leverkusen players in a circle closing in on him. Everyone else was in space. Messi spun with the ball, picked his man and calmly slotted the ball through. He didn’t have to move on the pitch to change the opponent’s formation, they came to him.

  7. mei
    March 8, 2012

    Putting the names of Zlatan and Leo ? atrocious mistake , kxevin.

  8. icemel
    March 8, 2012

    This is Kxevin Review-lite? Tastes great and less ratings bickering!

    • Chiu
      March 9, 2012

      I deem this as sub-review, Kxevin. You cover some key aspect from the match day in general, just less the details and no “biased jack-ass” rating. 🙂 /jk. When you have no time, observations article like this is sufficient to satisfy the community. I personally always want to know your view after the match.

  9. nzm
    March 8, 2012

    Leverkusen were over-awed by the whole situation last night.

    Camp Nou would have one of the biggest pitches – certainly when compared to Bayer’s pitch.

    Leverkusen kept their shape and didn’t waiver from their tactics, but the pitch was too wide for them to defend. They’re used to playing much narrower.

    At one stage, close to the end of the game, all the Leverkusen players were bunched into the middle of Barca’s half looking like a cluster of ducklings trying to find safety in numbers as the foxes circled around them.

    I’m just thankful that they didn’t resort to playing dirty and causing some damage to the Barca players.

    I also think that beating Bayern 4 days before somewhat knocked the stuffing out of them.

    Good to see the Barca players come out of the game with no cards.

  10. Nav
    March 8, 2012

    Regarding Messi’s standing around: please recall Pep’s reaction to Alexis getting injured in the 90th minute of a 3-1 game by over-exerting himself. I’ve mentioned this before and I still maintain this: Messi has been asked to conserve energy on the pitch by Pep and this is why he isn’t as mobile as previous years.

    • Yes good point Nav!! Leo has been almost our only attack force this year, with all the injuries for Villa, Alexis, Pedro, Afellay… He needs to conserve himself and does exactly what Pep asked from Alexis as well… He uses his head!

  11. yassir (Formerly Extreme barca fan)
    March 8, 2012

    Kxevin, i disagree completely, here’s hoping we get APOEL. and let other giants of the game kill each-other.

    • mega_tajh
      March 8, 2012

      APOEL, Benfica, Basel(hopefully).

      I really want Basel doh. Would be a blaugrana love affair

      • I don’t want APOEL. There is something about them. Their stadium, their players, their fans and above all their spirits, could be a bit tricky for us. They will come out with “Nothing to lose, A World to Win” attitude. To make matters worse their self belief could be sky high now. Remember the Betis match last season. I would seriously want to avoid them.

        CSKA, that would be nice. But I don’t think Real will let that happen.

  12. March 8, 2012

    For Messi there are no words. No comparisons. As Lil Wayne once said, “he’s out of category.” You can’t rate him, critique him, because we don’t have a category or standard to judge by. He’s redefining the game every time he plays.

    I really like Tello. And I loved the fact Pep put him in and we pushed our heel further down on the neck, like a NCAA football team running up the score to gain more BCS points. It was a statement and there was room for mercy, no reason either. Tello is what Guardiola always hoped Jeffren could be. He reminds me a lot of Jesus Navas, but I think with a better shooting instinct for goal. Hopefully, Guardiola continues to bleed him slowly, and not rush it. All of his impact has come from coming off the bench. Could he be as effective for a full 90 minutes? I don’t think so, not yet at least. But, damn, we’ve needed a winger with pace for quite awhile. I’m excited to see what he can do.

    • Nav
      March 8, 2012

      He started against Real Sociedad. He scored the opening goal with Messi’s assist.

  13. Jnice
    March 8, 2012

    The Ferdinand tweet was more of a joke (that’s why he’s using exclamations)… he’s saying the opposite.

    Nice win, glad Messi scored 5… wished Pedro scored a few… thought Muniesa defended well… Tello scored 2 (still think he needs to improve his finishing)… that’s all i have.

  14. mega_tajh
    March 8, 2012

    OT: We haven’t had Neymar talk in a while. Anyone saw him last-night? fabulous strikes from him.

  15. March 8, 2012

    That player wearing the #10 jersey. He’s good.

    He, along with our style, has really gained FCB a lot of following here in India. Even our national television, who usually don’t give a f*** except for state sponsored propaganda, ran a 5 min segment on him. Yes he’s become that popular.

    Yes Leverkusen gave up after that 1st goal. Yes Messi is scoring goals for fun and for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, and yes he still has his share and critics and supporters and biased idiots out to reduce his ratings out of smite detractors. Guess what, I don’t care.

    I’ve spent the better part of the noughties wishing when, if ever, my team would have the talent to become a serious contender for the CL. Look what happened. We have one of the best teams in the world today, if not in history. Enjoy it. This only happens once a generation or maybe more. Years from now I will be proud to know that I had faith in this team ‘before it was cool’. Proud to have introduced to my family, the modern version of beautiful football. Can’t thank my lucky stars enough.

    Because that’s what drives me and many others to watch football during unearthly hours and in between work. Its the promise that its gonna be worth it. Unusually, it is. That alone is enough for me..

    • Laurentiu88
      March 9, 2012

      true that.
      for so many seasons on end we were beaten in europe, I was terrified of being drawn with an English side…
      then, there was that semifinal with madrid… but we were not well then…still disrupted by that Juda Muerete Portuguese that was my idol…
      then, there was that semi-final with Valencia, when we had a team and were the closest to winning that i ever knew until Ronaldinho…
      And now, it is not only that we are winning but we are playing football as few ever have apparently. My parents are only watching the Barcelona games, my mother screams each time we miss… 🙂 The people I meet in bars and end up talking about football…

      I imagine i will tell my kids about the times of Pep and Messi, and Xavi and Iniesta and all the gang.

  16. Ahmad
    March 8, 2012


  17. Gogah
    March 8, 2012

    I really wanted Ibra to succeed here. With a little bit of desire and effort imagine how amazing he could have been in this team.
    But it was never meant to be due to his attitude.
    I agree with the rise and fall of Cuenca and I’d advise everyone to not wet their pants too much on Tello. While he is certainly exciting, he’s barely started and still comes across to me as a 2 trick pony if there could be such a thing.

    finally check this out. an efficiency chart of sorts. Messi’s numbers are downright ridiculous. cesc gets a surprise spot up top.

  18. mega_tajh
    March 8, 2012

    So far so good for Spanish teams in Europe.

  19. Helge
    March 8, 2012


    Bilbao is outplaying ManUtd… if they just finished their chances!

  20. Helge
    March 8, 2012

    8,000 Basque fans make the Theatre of Dreams tremble 😀

    Well deserved equalizer by Llorente!

    Incredible how many fans traveled to Manchester, and how they dominate the fan chants 🙂

  21. sd
    March 8, 2012

    I don’t want to spoil for anyone BUT DAMN! Bilbao is playing great! They are dominating United. But its a really good game to watch as a neutral. Extremely entertaining!

  22. sd
    March 8, 2012

    What a ridiculous goal for Athletic. Everyone fell asleep.

  23. G6O
    March 8, 2012

    So much for La Liga being a shitty league with only two good teams….

  24. Ahmad
    March 8, 2012

    One of the best games I’ve seen this year.

  25. Helge
    March 8, 2012

    Now I cab see why Bielsa is considered a possible successor of Pep by some people 🙂

    Some controversy in the match, but definitely a deserved victory for Bilbao.
    Now I’m excited how United can do at San Mames, having to score at least 2 more goals.
    Maybe they’ll afterwards talk about how to win on a rainy Thursday night at Bilbao, and forget about Stoke 😀

    • March 8, 2012

      Biesla and Pep see football in a very similar way and share some key values/principles.

      Pep will renew, but anyone linking Pep or Biesla with a time like, say, Chelsea doesn’t understand either Pep or Biesla.

  26. Dave
    March 8, 2012

    Just glad Bibao are in the Europa. Class team

    • Helge
      March 9, 2012

      No, I hope thatv all the players stay at Athletic. With Bielsa as coach, they can build something big in the long term!
      Their football already looked better than what 95% of la Liga teams usually put together ^^

  27. March 8, 2012

    I hate linking every winning team’s players to Barca. Cavani, muniain, etc etc. Very annoying.

    • Dave
      March 8, 2012

      While I have huge admiration for Bilbao, its only natural that I should covet their players.

    • sd
      March 8, 2012

      I really do not want any of Spain’s other good teams players to come to leave their teams much less come to Barca or Madrid. Valencia should not continuously have to sell players to teams outside Spain and rebuild. I much prefer them to stay at their teams. Makes for a much more interesting and fun league. Teams outside of Spain I could care less about.

      I am in complete agreement with Eklayva about linking every winning team’s players to Barca. We have our own very good players.

      • March 8, 2012

        This is particularly true when it comes to Bilbao for me. I’m hoping they can retain all of their players and Biesla for next season, because they are a very fun team to watch.

  28. Helge
    March 8, 2012

    From the Guardian min-by-min report:

    Right on: “Athletico come from the notoriously uncompetitive Spanish league, but even if they are playing like a lower-level High-speed Barcelona clone, they’re looking every part the equal of the premiership’s second best team,” thunders Ben Dunn. “The lesser teams in the premiership clone passion and aggression and couldn’t live with this side.”

    Full-time: That was a bona fide thriller. Bilbao put on a performance that has seldom been equalled by an away team at Old Trafford, blowing the hosts apart. Only repeated saves by De Gea and United’s characteristic refusal to buckle prevented this tie from being over. It sets up a mouth-watering return leg. On today’s evidence, anyone hoping for an all-Manchester Europa League final is going to be disappointed. And anyone who thinks the Premier League is the best in the world is wrong. And anyone who thinks the Europa League is a rubbish tournament is also wrong. So there.

    Have to agree with it, this match was incredible, probably the best display I’ve seen this season (at least apart from Barca^^).

    • sd
      March 8, 2012

      Europa league is a hell of a fun to watch. You never know whats going to happen and as a neutral thats a lot of fun.

      The problem with La Liga is not that there are no other good teams other than Barca and Madrid. Valencia, Bilbao, Sevilla, Sociedad could give any team a run for their money. Its just that Barca and Madrid are much much better than anyone else. But that is not limited to Spain. Barca and Madrid are much better than anyone else in the world at the moment.

      • Anonymous_69
        March 8, 2012

        Exactly. The problem isn’t the quality in La Liga. Team for team, La Liga is unarguably the league with the highest quality football (not necessarily funner football, but football played at the highest quality).

        The problem is the level that Madrid and Barcelona have achieved is simply too high. Who’s to say that Barca or Madrid wouldn’t be just as dominant in the EPL or Serie A?

        Barcelona in 08/09 became one of the best team’s ever. The type of team that comes around every 15-20 years. One of those unique teams, like AC Milan early 1990s.

        The problem is that in this situation, the rival of this amazing team happened to be the richest and most powerful sports team organization in the world. They just kept buying and buying, until their level matched that of the unique team.

        Now there are two teams forcing each other to improve every year. A team becoming super successful usually finishes its cycle eventually, but there is a possibility here of that simply not happening, at least not for a while.

        Madrid and Barca will not let each other ease up. And without financial support, the rest of La Liga has no chance of competing.

        • G6O
          March 8, 2012

          For Madrid, their dominance over everyone else except Barca is not going to end. The problem is that they have been consistently the top earning team in the world for years now, and this seems set to continue for a while. They are actually making a profit. We are the second highest earning team but we pay tons of money for wages so we’re not in as good situation as they are. None of the Premier Leagues teams is anywhere close. This is aside from the issue of how much debt the two teams have.

          Even with the financial fair play rules, the situation is not going to change, if anything the disparity will worse because teams will not be able to borrow/invest their way into success, and those teams who are already worldwide brands are set to continue collecting the more revenue and, therefore, continue being able to buy the best players. So Real is going to have the best players in the world for some time, the question is how we will fight that – if we continue playing the best football, players will want to join us just so that they are part of the best team on the planet, and we the pipeline for youth development does not run dry, we will not have to spend that much money buying players outside of the team, so we will be able to compete with Real, even with less revenue than they have.

          But it does not look good for the other teams at all and in the long run something has to be done to break the vicious cycle of the rich getting richer and better compared to everyone else, although it is not clear what that something would be…

  29. Bill
    March 8, 2012

    So, Cuenca comes in, plays really well, then disappears after a while, and everyone asks “what happened to him?” The answer is simple really. He got the Bojan treatment. Some of these things you can see from a thousand miles away.

    Cuenca started off as a sub on the right side of attack, produced some Sterling displays there and was lauded by everyone. What did Pep do? He immediately put him in the starting line-up, expanded his role to a roaming player, played him as a false”9″and even played him on the left side of attack.

    As predictable as the sun coming up, his game wavered because 1. He is a young player 2. Too much responsibility and information for the said young player leads to confusion.
    So what does Pep do? He benches him for some games, starts him in others, leaves him completely out for others….and the poor guys confidence might be on it’s way to being shattered…just like Bojan.

    This is also happening to Pedro. He started out as Henry’s replacement on the left, played really well there, then had to move to the right because of Villa, and now he is moved everywhere, including that dreaded false 9 role. Another confused player with shattered confidence.

    Why did Busquets succeed? He had a specific role to start off with, one that he had played in the youth system, and Pep showed confidence in him and stuck with him through the inconsistent periods and through some atrocious mistakes he made as a rookie.

    Next up? Thiago. He is being moved around and given inconsistent roles and minutes. The exception to this rule are players with supreme talent and confidence. This might be the saving grace for Thiago and Sanchez.

    • Nav
      March 8, 2012

      Barca is a world class team — if you don’t have the talent and confidence you can’t don’t have the right to be playing in that team. Think about it, you’re going to be playing alongside Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Villa, etc. These guys are the best of the best. The competition they face is world class and there’s no time for fannying about with ‘letting players develop’ if they aren’t delivering proportionally. Busquets succeeded because he is immensely talented and has the composure of a veteran; not because he was only played in one position (and he wasn’t). And that’s exactly the criteria that’s used for Pedro, Tello, Cuenca, etc.

      I understand that introducing youth is tricky because you have to balance expectation with needs, but the reason Cuenca was fast-tracked into the first team is because we needed him. Villa and Pedro was out injured — having only Cesc, Alexis, and Messi was not enough. Cuenca needed to step up. If you can’t step up, ultimately you don’t have ‘barca quality’. In saying that, I’m not in the camp that thinks Cuenca is a failure because he hasn’t produced in the last few games. I think our physios can help him get stronger so he’s not so easily taken out of the game. But ultimately it’s his responsibility to make sure he has the talent and confidence to play for Barca’s 1st XI.

      • Bill
        March 8, 2012

        Starting out, did Busquets play any other role besides DM?

        As for playing with Messi and company, those guys didn’t start out as stars either, they were given small specific roles until they grew as players. Messi was handled exceptionally well by Rijkaard.

        I’m not saying that you can’t play them, i’m saying that they should be given limited, specific & consistent roles. So far, Tello is getting this. There have been games with no pressure like this last one where they can be inserted earlier.

        And if you insert someone like Cuenca because you need him, don’t bench him for long periods because he didn’t perform particularly well. That’s the time to encourage him and to keep on giving him small roles.

        • Nav
          March 8, 2012

          Busquets also played CB, and from what I’ve read he’s been attacking more in recent games.

          I comlpetely get why Cuenca was moved around though. He is more talented on the ball than Tello so Pep was seeing where he fits best. Also, didn’t Cuenca play vs Gijon and in the game before?

  30. sd
    March 8, 2012

    Just had a thought. Ignoring the language barrier, does anyone else want to see Messi do Saturday Night Live? What would they come up with? Any ideas?

    • Nav
      March 8, 2012

      And ignoring the personality. The guy is so shy he’d be shell shocked and probably just slowly walk off the stage.

  31. Lev
    March 8, 2012

    “He scored 5 of them, so his rating should be an 11.”

    Exactly. I have always argued that a player scoring a hat trick should get an automatic rating of 10, because in normal circumstances those three goals are all that is needed to win the match. So even if a player does jack-all for the rest of the match he has already won us the game.

    Example: Romario. If one were to judge this player on “effort” than he would never get a higher rating than 0.5 🙂

    Not saying that effort should not be rated, just saying that there are different rules for different players, hehe

    • Bill
      March 8, 2012

      Yep, and if Ibra popped up and scored goals as much as Messi, I wouldn’t complain About him. Actually, I for one did shut up until Ibra started being a waste of space in February

  32. blitzen
    March 8, 2012

    A few blitzen awards for all you lovely people:

    Shirt Off His Back Award: I don’t know who ultimately ended up with Messi’s shirt, but I hope it was Leverkusen’s goalkeeper. He would have needed it the most, as Leo had been stripping him naked all night.

    Forever Alone Award: Victor Valdes never gets to participate in goal celebrations, and there were so many of them yesterday! Poor VV. Luckily, his defense decided to let a goal through just so he would feel more included.

    White Flag Award: By international convention, a white flag is a symbol of surrender. Those waving a white flag are not to be fired upon. What no one bothered to tell Bayer Leverkusen, however, is that in Catalunya white is the colour of evil. Waving white shirts in front of Barça players’ eyes is the equivalent of waving a red flag at a bull. Seven goals later, Leverkusen realized their mistake.

    MOTMOTMOI Award: I’m giving this one to Stone Cold Tello, only because his terrific CL debut was overshadowed by greedyguts goalhogger Messi. The kid was cool as a cucumber, scoring off his first touch and staring down the GK.

    Credit Where It’s Due Award: After Bellarabi’s gorgeous shot swooped past Valdes, Pep turned to the opposing coach, and I could swear he said “Well done” in English. They would be speaking English, I assume? Anyway it was a nice goal and left Leverkusen with at least some shreds of dignity.

    Two Horse Race Award: Considering the brilliant performances of Atletico Madrid, Valencia & Athletic Bilbao in their European fixtures this week, how can anyone still consider the Spanish League uncompetitive? They were all playing against strong teams, too. These results serve to illustrate not only that non-top-two Spanish teams are just as good as teams in any other league (well OK, maybe not Zaragoza), but also the incredibly high level Barcelona and Real Madrid have achieved. Yes, maybe that does make La Liga a two-horse race, but that doesn’t mean the other teams are poor football-wise. Just poor money-wise.

    Trollhattan Memorial TOTM Award: Pep “Maybe I Do Piss Perfume” Guardiola. Not only did he troll the media prior to the game with his reaction to the question regarding the Chelsea job, he also gave a sly poke to the giant ego that is Pele in his post-match presser. The BarçaTrollDNA is strong in this one!

    Stooping To Their Level Award: Pique discovers that short people do in fact have a reason to live, in that they would have been able to get their heads onto that beautiful but slightly too low ball from a Xavi freekick. For the first time in his life, Pique wishes he was a proper Barça midget.

    Windmills Of His Mind* Award: Anyone who thinks Pep has become complacent after winning tons of silverware, bored, resting on his laurels, ect., needs to look at him pacing around the edge of his technical area, at 7 goals up and with absolutely nothing to prove, gesticulating, shouting, coaching his players towards perfecting their game. Any other manager in the world would have sat down at 3 or 4 goals up and left them to it, but not Pep. His brain never stops working, his desire to teach, to improve, to play the best football possible, never goes away. We are surely blessed to have him for as long as he allows us to.


    Round, like a circle in a spiral
    Like a wheel within a wheel.
    Never ending or beginning,
    On an ever spinning wheel
    Like a snowball down a mountain
    Or a carnaval balloon
    Like a carousell that’s turning
    Running rings around the moon.

    • BarcaOwl
      March 8, 2012

      Nice awards, Blitzen. I just have a minor complaint. Why, oh why do you have to give me the earworm at the end? 😛

    • Chiu
      March 8, 2012

      One of the best series of Blitzen award I have ever read. Completely cover the funny and non-tactical aspects of the game. Nothing to add or substract. Great one. Thank you

    • One of the best you’ve done!Windmills of his mind and White flag award were my two favorite. Thanks!

    • blitzen
      March 9, 2012

      It occurs to me that those lyrics also describe a rondo pretty well.

  33. just listenin
    March 8, 2012

    The main difference between Messi and Zlatan is… Obvious.
    One is the best player in the world, the other believes he is the best player in the world.

    • Roberto Senyera
      March 9, 2012

      I thought Bendtner thought he was the best player in the world?

  34. simple_barcafan
    March 8, 2012

    Messi – 1. Rests 2. Always involved or seems to be involved 3. Runs and shoots 4. Provides assists

    Zlatan – 1. Rests 2. Rarely involved or doesn’t seem to be involved 3. Stands and shoots 4. Nay…

  35. simple_barcafan
    March 8, 2012

    Hats off to Bilbao…Respect..

    • March 8, 2012

      With the trueness. But notice how shittastic their ref was. Blew the offside call for the second goal, then blew the handball call, which was clearly a makeup for something or other. Gives United life in the tie, even at San Mames.

      • simple_barcafan
        March 9, 2012

        cant be hepled..but Bilbao showed once again that la liga is not just barca and EE..

    • March 8, 2012

      Just popped over for that very thing. Godall isn’t a fan of RoSELL for obvious reasons, but he says that because Laporta took care of business as far as RFEF and the officiating crew, we didn’t get hosed. And because RoSELL isn’t doing likewise, we are. Pretty heady stuff! Godall essentially admitting that the Villarato stuff was true. Seems like there’s LOTS more to come.

      And his YouTube comments are here:

      • March 8, 2012

        So it kinda depends on who you believe. Godall either confessed to nothing more than Laporta making nice to the right people to make sure that we didn’t get screwed, or confirmed Villarato.

        Either way, the club ain’t looking all that good right now, and if it were possible for the Liga officiating crew to look worse, it does right now.

        I officially don’t know what to think. So I’m going to go to bed.

        Apologies for being out of pocket all day, but between work and training, this is the first chance I’ve gotten, and I was alerted to this stuff by a few folks on Twitter.


  36. March 8, 2012

    Oh, and Sport is offering up blather about Jordi Alba being all but signed, even though we haven’t said as much as hello to Valencia.

    • mega_tajh
      March 9, 2012

      One thing for sure is that under Rosell our signings have came in very quiet without party rumors.( Adriano, Mascherano).

      I believe the Jordi Alba signing along with others are in process since we haven’t heard from Zubi in a long time in any press conference.

  37. Dani_el
    March 9, 2012

    Thank you Kxevin for the no-review, though I was looking forward for a Messi rating. Last game I remember reading that in top of the all-out performance from Keita, he was the only one on the field (forgetting Iniesta) who had the modjo to do that goal. That, I believe, was taken in consideration for his high rating and MOTM “award”. Well, yesterday, 4 of 5 Messi’s goals had his signature, and I can think of few people who could do his thing. I also read an article from Marti Perarnau explaining about the “cargas fìsicas en músculos a la hora del juego” that roughly means the physical effort players do in short lenght runs, in order for them to prevent injury (that is why, that adding his 90 minutes game for the Chilean NT, Sanchez got yelled at, a couple of days ago, because he didn’t take care of not forcing his muscles that much). I also believe that Pedro’s injury problems come because of his intensity.
    We won, Tello was great, Messi was Messi, and we got some rest for Xaviniesta, and I noticed Cesc staying on the back to help defensively, and his assists were awesome too. I hope for this to be our CL.
    In another matter, I just saw Godall’s video, and he literally said this:
    “Tener buenas relaciones con la federación, nos proporcionó beneficios en el aspecto deportivo, beneficios como el saldo arbitral por ejemplo, nos han beneficiado en los lances de juego, ayudándonos a nosotros en vez de al rival”
    “Staying on the good side of the federation gave us benefits on the field, as with the refereeing. For example, giving us benefits on particular plays, helping us instead of the rival”. This is a serious faux pas, people (evil empire people of course) are already saying that this is an acknowledgment from our part that indeed, there was a villarato and we had favours from the referees because of Laporta’s “good relationship” with Villar. I don’t understand how it all came to this, but I believe he may have hurt the club more, than Rossell.
    The club may have to respond quickly to this.

      • Dani_el
        March 9, 2012

        Sorry, I forgot to translate this that explains thoroughly why Messi sometimes walks in the field :
        “Messi had suffered a series of grave muscular injuries, especially in february and march of 2006 that kept him from the Paris CL final, but also in december of 2007 and march of 2009(…)
        So when Guardiola came to the first team, there was an extensive plan of prevention and health care for Messi. Food, hydration and fixed rest were joined to a thorough preventive work. Juanjo Brau became his shadow, not only in Barça but in any trip with his NT. Each day Messi works during 45 minutes before training, and 30 minutes after, moving articulations, relaxing muscular tension, and working his lower limbs. People in the dressing room stress the importance of Messi’s dedication in the taking care of his own body. What was a serious problem, had become a procedure, taking in consideration a lot of daily effort.
        It is also important to remark, the evolutive process as a player. What in 2005 and 2006 was a winger who ran 90 minutes at full speed, maybe in offensive plays, or maybe in keeping track defensively, has mutated – by explicit decision from Guardiola – to an attacker that runs lighty and even walks for a lot of minutes, placing himself in central positions as a starting point, with short lenght associations with Xavi and co.; and that reserves his well-known accelerations and change-of-pace dribbles a few times per game: the chosen ones. That wild intensive Messi during an hour and a half, only gives himself away on the necessary moments: he has learnt to choose those moments. This measurements from the technical staff show a significative decrease in explosive physical efforts that the player does per game. As a result, his muscular fatigue has been limited exponentially and now he is capable of facing 60 games per season, with reduced injury risks, contrary to the situation 5 years ago. As a matter of fact, and in the marging of trauma injuries and knocks in the game, only an overload in the “recto interno” in august of 2009 and an elongation in the “abductor” on november of the same year, has been accounted as muscular injuries for Messi, in these 3 and a half seasons with Guardiola.”
        Martì Perarnau, published in Sport 25-II-2012

        • Chiu
          March 9, 2012

          This is an eye-opener rationalization why Messi frequently just strolls. Thanks for the effort Bro!

        • Ryan
          March 9, 2012

          Very cool look into the analysis and process of keeping Messi , strong, and injury free. Thanks!

        • just listenin
          March 9, 2012

          Makes perfect sense, thanks for this. It certainly seemed clear that it was by design, and “allowed”.

          • March 9, 2012

            Good stuff all ’round, Dani_el. Thank you. Looks like another difference is that Ibrahimovic did it because he felt like it. Messi is indeed responding to coaching dictates.

          • Dani_el
            March 9, 2012

            Anytime guys, thanks for the feedback .)

    • just listenin
      March 9, 2012

      So what are we saying? That there was influence, or bias, or a conspiracy in place to do us wrong, that we had to counter with influence (counter-conspiracy) so that the existing influence to do us wrong (take your choice; conspiracy or institutional bias that everyone says doesn’t exist) wouldn’t take the toll as it is now? And is any of it surprising, really? It is like running for political office with a pledge not to go negative on your opponent to gain advantage, until they make the first attack, and you retaliate, negatively, because you have no choice because it works.

  38. Olufestus
    March 9, 2012

    Okay! ‎​U̶̲̥̅̊ have got some blitzen award,now on t̶̲̥̅̊ợ̣̣̇̇̇ some olufestus award

    CLAUDIO GENTILE AWARD FOR MARADONA WON’T EVEN PASS ME AWARD-javier masherano!! He’s nt el jefe ƒσя nothing,even a bullet won’t even has passed him against bayer
    PEDRO AWARD FOR REEVELATTION OF THE SEASON-christian tello,dude Ȋ̝̊̅ƨ̣̇ a speed monster
    PELE’S AWARD FOR “AN ARGENTINE CANT BE BEST EVER–lionel messi!! Sir,are U̶̲̥̅̊ watching or do you need his dvd mailed to you?
    MESSI’s AWARD FOR “EVEN CASILLAS LOOKS MEDIOCRE AGAINST ME- robert leno,†ђξ bayern goalkeeper can’t do more than that against a messi who lives i̶̲̥̅̊n̶̲̥̅̊ a magnetic spetrum of genius(ray ray)
    BARCA’s NOV 29,2010 AWARD FOR MAKING MADRID LOOK LIKE A PUB TEAM-bayer neverkusen!!!! Reminds me of †ђξ orgasmic manita
    That’s all from me!!!! Ħöщ do you see mine?

    • lea_terzi
      March 9, 2012

      Definitely worth watching: 45 mouthwatering minutes, great footage, research and analysis, legends of the game and our own house favourite Graham Hunter with an opinion.
      And it was aired on ITV4 the night Messi made history. Again.

    • Dani_el
      March 9, 2012

      Thanks for the link, I was looking forward to watch this!

    • Roberto Senyera
      March 9, 2012

      So, blitzen, you never told me why you’re male or female. I guess I just presumed you were male and named after the male reindeer 😉

      • blitzen
        March 9, 2012

        I am female and named after myself.

        • Roberto Senyera
          March 9, 2012

          Seriously? Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Not at all.

          Your proper name cannot be blitzen? Lower case b — on your passport? C’mon. You’re pulling my leg.

          • blitzen
            March 9, 2012

            *sigh* Not that it should make any difference to anyone, but my last name is Blitz. Some people call me Blitz or blitzen, some call me other things.

          • Roberto Senyera
            March 9, 2012

            Well alrighty then. Carry on as you were.

            And thank you for being a lady Blaugrana supporter. I don’t see many of them in my neck of the woods. So, many props to you.

          • blitzen
            March 9, 2012

            There are a ton of ladies (and several broads 😛 ) on this site. Mom4 was keeping a list at one point.

          • March 9, 2012

            *Cue customary dig about Isaiah*

            Mom4’s list was incomplete. It didn’t have Isaiah..

            (What’s that you say? That joke’s not funny? Well neither is Isaiah. It’s funny because its true.)

          • Chiu
            March 10, 2012

            Are you Jacy Stephanie Blitz from Canada? 🙂

  39. Roberto Senyera
    March 9, 2012

    Hey. We’ve all heard of Cinco de Mayo, no? Well, what Messi pulled off March 7, 2012 was what I call Cinco de Marcho, si.

  40. Roberto Senyera
    March 9, 2012


    My you can be churlish at times. Thanks for your thoughts (honestly, no joking) and thank you even more for not giving us your player ratings when You Know Who (YKW) pots a personal manita.

    And, I have to disagree that Ramzi should win the award for picking our potential Quarter Final opponent. Although he was rather sage by choosing CSKA, I say bring on those LWBs. I want our club to have the satisfaction of knocking them out of a cup competition, again. Although, I want them over two legs (QF or SF) and not one. I’ve got little doubt that we’ll knock them out again and once again crush their spirits. I take great pleasure in LWB schadenfreude 🙂

    • Roberto Senyera
      March 9, 2012

      I really don’t think you’re a churl. Anything but, to be honest. However, you did call yourself that, after all 😉

  41. Roberto Senyera
    March 9, 2012

    Hey. You got one there — Blaugrana broads — respectfully, of course. If only for alliteration and all that jazz.

    • Roberto Senyera
      March 9, 2012

      Whoops. Put that in the wrong spot. That was meant to respond to Blitz a few boxes above.

  42. Roberto Senyera
    March 9, 2012

    Okay, serious question time for all of you keeners out there:

    1) Why are Xavi’s & Iniesta’s shirt numbers reversed between FCB and the Spanish NT (Xavi is 6 at FCB and 8 with NT while it’s the opposite for the PFA)? And why don’t they just swap shirt numbers on the NT so that it’s consistent with the club numbers?

    2) Alright, I know that Puyol is 33 and Xavi is 31 but here are the recent enough stats on the current squads all time La Liga appearances:

    Xavi 401 matches
    Puyol 359
    VV 317
    Iniesta 258
    Messi 200

    Puyol is the current club captain (and is older) but if Xavi has more club caps (league) and is touted as a future Barça coach then why isn’t Xavi the current club captain?

    • Helge
      March 9, 2012

      To your last question:
      Because Puyol simply is Captain Caveman, el Tiburón, der Ur-Katalane (which means as much as, there is nobody more Catalan than him). His aura is unprecedented!
      Nobody in the team can motivate, spur on or wake up the team better than he does. And nobody intimidates the opponent better than he 🙂

      It’s interesting though that Puyol has effectively one year less of la Liga football, although he is two years elder. And I know Xavi didn’t play every match either when he was around 20 years old…

      • Helge
        March 9, 2012

        damn! failed to close the html code 🙁

      • Roberto Senyera
        March 9, 2012

        Yeah, yeah. I get all that Captain Caveman stuff. But those La Liga appearances don’t lie and Xavi is the ‘brains’ of this squad. So, I’m just sayin’ and it’s not a knock against Puyol.

        I know I could look this up but did Puyol get his first team appearance before Xavi (I’m assuming so because of their respective ages)? And why is there 42 more appearances for Xavi? Was Puyol injured more often? That stat surprised me the first time I saw it.

        Insight appreciated. Thank you.

    • blitzen
      March 9, 2012

      1. The story is that both Xavi and Iniesta wanted the number 8 shirt, so they agreed between themselves that Iniesta would take the 8 for the club, but if they were both called up to the NT they would switch numbers. And so they did.

      2. Captaincy isn’t based on number of caps, it is based on seniority. Puyol was promoted to the first team at the end of the 1998-1999 season, and I don’t think Xavi was officially promoted until the end of the 1999-2000 season (he bounced back and forth with the B team for a while, then stepped in when Pep got seriously injured). Puyol was given the captaincy in 2004 after Luis Enrique retired. He had seniority, was Catalan, and had also by then exhibited his excellent leadership qualities both on the field and in the dressing room.

      • Roberto Senyera
        March 9, 2012

        Answer to number two makes sense. Thanks blitz.

        However, the answer to number one needs a little more clarification. Xavi is four years older, got to the first team before the PFA, and would have been able to earn the number 8 before Iniesta got a shot at it. So, if Xavi really wanted 8, why didn’t he request/get 8 when it became available?

      • Roberto Senyera
        March 9, 2012

        Oh, and what about the cap differential? Was Puyol just more injury prone? That stat surprises me.

  43. swamidigital
    March 9, 2012

    Although I tend to rate Messi highly, I too saw what you saw at the beginning of the game. And I do agree, even at five goals it wasn’t his finest or most complete game, mostly because the opposition faced did not put up as much a fight as they should have. I agree with many of your sentiments qualitatively regarding Messi in your reviews.

    However, at the end of the day football is measured in goals scored and given up. Possession, passing, work rate, etc. are not the final measure of victory in a match. These things are important in football for the influence they have on the final scoreline. This is why people rate Messi so highly. At the end of the day he scores and provides goals at a rate that no one else does. And it is plain to see that this is not solely a function of his teammates.

    At Barcelona we rate many things very highly, because of a particular aesthetic sense about how the game should be played. I too, share that sense, which is one reason I truly love this team. In fact, to be honest I am not so bothered by winning and losing (except for during a match itself where the passion flows), because what drove me toward Barca is just enjoying watching this beautiful team play. However, I think back to what Pep said in the lead up to the 2009 Champions League final, about how the team plays in this beautiful aesthetic style not only to entertain, and not just because it is a joy to watch, but because they firmly believe it is the best way to win a football match. And that is done fundamentally by scoring goals and preventing goals scored by the opposition. And Messi is the guy who most frequently puts the ball in the back of the opponents net. I realize there are things we have seen him do in the past that if he did them more now might make him even more influential in wins. But he has never scored goals at the rate that he is doing, and at this level few ever have. In fact, as he performed in the previous match no one ever has. And we say that often about Messi these days. I think it is simply that which you are underrating on final balance. I have no problems with any of your statements qualitatively, it is simply the weighting on final reflection that we might disagree on, and perhaps that too not by so much.

    I think back to another all time great in a different sport who I watched throughout my youth fervently, when evaluating Messi’s performance. Michael Jordan. If you compare Jordan’s performance and style of play in say… 87-88 against that in say… 95-96, you might find him slightly lacking in later years. He was more aggressive in all phases of the game earlier, and because we can quantify basketball better than football, we can also say he was more efficient and effective. But in 95-96 the Bulls were on the kind of run that Barca is on now, a truly stunning display of dominance that led them to the best ever record in the NBA. The reason they won so many games was because Jordan was the proverbial knife’s edge. He didn’t assert himself in all phases of the game like he had in previous years, or his previous three-peat with the Bulls, but he willed them to victory over and over precisely at the points that others could not. He was still just as dominant in regards to his peers, but in regards to his own personal high watermark you might say he was lacking. But it was perhaps not that he was lacking, but simply that he understood better how to carry his team to more victories. I see a little of that in Messi right now. I think in some ways it’s strange, because it’s a bit early in his career for him to have picked up on this. Then again he’s been playing for quite a while now already, so perhaps it’s not so surprising.

    Anyways, just my thoughts on rating Messi.


    • swamidigital
      March 9, 2012

      BTW perhaps 90-91 is a better comparison for Jordan since that was the first year they won the championship.

      Also I had the exact same thought in the early going, I was surprised Messi looked a bit uninterested because I thought he would be practically frothing at the mouth to play and attack given his very rare time off.

      However in regards to your statement: “Nobody should ever scoff at anyone giving or not giving Messi credit for being a great player, because it doesn’t matter. ”

      I would also say, it doesn’t really matter if people scoff at you for your rating, but you seem to put an awful lot of effort into defending it.

      I think it’s just the nature of the internet dialogue. Everything gets overly dissected online and without a conversation that conveys nuance and tone, and a flesh and blood person sitting in front of you, many people become overly dogmatic or harsh. But as a blogger I’m sure you’re aware of that.

      • March 9, 2012

        Nice comments, and true. And my energies actually go toward trying to get people to understand what went into a rating, and the lack of bias therein.

        But writing this brief post was rather instructional for me, as it finally made me realize that, as noted above, Messi is indeed critic-proof. Back in my music critic days, I once got so many faxes (yes, pre e-mail) that the departmental fax machine broke. And this was before noon. And it’s hard to make paying customers understand why the show that they shelled out money for, and clapped ’til their hands hurt was in fact, if you looked at it critically, a shit sandwich served on a plate of mud.

        Not that Messi is ever that bad. As Riquelme said, Messi could be standing there thinking about his mother, then get the ball and create a goal out of nothing. This is true. He’s a genius player, and there is for me no truer illustration of that than the fifth goal, off the dead run with zero windup. Blam. Impossible to defend, stop or predict.

        Those goals make him critic proof, because people say “It’s immaterial what ELSE he did. Look at those goals!” Or “What a run.” I see that that run ended in a defender taking the ball, an open teammate and a blown scoring chance. Someone else sees another mazy, crazy Messi run.

        I wish I had the time to have done a proper rating(s) for this match. I’ve watched it 3 times now, and would have given Messi a 7. And for the first time, I wouldn’t have bothered explaining it. Because as with him as the best player ever, or not, folks who think you’re biased are going to think that. Nothing you can do or say will ever make them believe otherwise. It’s the nature of fandom.

        I think of my saying, during the Michael Schumacher/Damon Hill row, that Schumacher was trying to get back on the racing line, rather than ramming Hill, as the latter’s supporters firmly believed. So I understand.

        • blitzen
          March 9, 2012

          A seven?!? NOOOOO!!!!!

          *throws self in front of Kxevin to protect him from the coming shitstorm of abuse*

          SAVE YOURSELF!

          • March 9, 2012

            Like the guy I pulled in front of me at a GWAR concert to take the gout of “slave blood” that Oderus was aiming my way.

            Interestingly, the reviewer over at The Offside gave Messi an 8.

          • Manish
            March 9, 2012

            *************** STORM 1*********************

            It’s about responsibilities..I wouldn’t expect Busquets or a Keita to be scoring a bucketful of goals.. but I would certainly expect Messi/Pedro/Sanchez to do so.. cause that’s their job.

            Ratings should be on a weighted responsibility… a striker losing a ball isn’t as dangerous as a mid losing it…so on and ….

            But everyone has their own opinions on things but when something is public and as emotional as BFB..

            Seriously, if there was some very logical and a standard reasoning to every rating.. things would be simpler.. and we wouldn’t have a lot of broken hearts around…

            Will there be a review…:|

          • March 9, 2012

            But why isn’t a striker losing a ball as dangerous as a mid losing it, particularly given how high our line plays, and the lost ball leads to a bust-out counter, as it did at one point during the Bayer match? In a system predicated on ball control, anybody losing the ball is a problem. As long as we have the ball, we can’t lose.

            An attacking player in our system isn’t just there to score goals. It’s the Guardiola way. It’s passing, facilitation of ball control, assists, rushing the box and midfield pressure. Goals don’t supersede all. Had Bayer been a real opponent, rather than someone waiting to die, who knows what could have happened?

            But if the system works, Iniesta steals the ball from an attacker and Keita scores a goal. Sanchez dispossesses an attacker which leads to the pass that leads to a Messi goal. It’s the system.

            I went back and watched the 2-6 Clasico win, and it was a remarkable display of dominance. So was the manita, because it was the system at its fullest flower. I don’t know if, at present, we are seeing that, because of the conservation demands forced upon it by the team’s best player. So Messi loses the ball and doesn’t chase it. Whether this is by design or something else, I don’t know. But he doesn’t. And that means one less defender on a team where everyone attacks and defends.

            See what I mean?

          • nzm
            March 9, 2012

            I would have given him 7.5 because he did lose a lot of balls.

            Yes, when our forwards lose the ball, it is dangerous – especially when it’s Messi and he loses it somewhere about midfield.

            So many quick counters have come from a Messi lost ball. It’s as if the rest of Barca says, “It’s ok, Messi has the ball and we can relax a little”, and then all hell breaks loose when suddenly that defender/midfielder gets past Busquets/Alves and is on his way to the goal. If Puyol or Masch misses him, it’s as good as in the net if VV doesn’t pull another brilliant save.

          • Nik
            March 9, 2012

            I personally would have given a 7-7.5 as well. Nothing against his performance, but it’s clear that he (and the rest of the team) didn’t have to get out of third gear to whoop Bayer. Let’s save the 10s for when Messi (has to) plays at his best.

          • Manish
            March 9, 2012

            @nzm.. hopefully none of the folks here are school teachers…

          • nzm
            March 10, 2012

            Manish: what do you mean with that teacher comment?

      • Manish
        March 9, 2012

        And I am the BIGGEST Messi fan around.. 🙂

        • March 9, 2012

          And see, I’m a fan of the club. The players within it are immaterial to me. Messi could be Eto’o could be Henry could be Ibrahimovic. Doesn’t matter a whit, even as I appreciate his abilities on behalf of the club.

          • Jim
            March 10, 2012

            Every time Messi dribbles he could lose the ball. That’s just a fact of life with dribbling but if he doesn’t try we don’t score half of his goals. It isn’t as serious as a mid losing it because we still have more players goal side than if Busi loses it in front of the defence. Are you saying you don’t want him to try or that he is allowed to try but not to lose it ?

            Seriously, and not trying to be contrary ( for a change 🙂 ), any ratings system which comes up with anything less than perfect for that display isn’t rating the importance or difficulty of scoring goals highly enough imo. In the top club tournament in the world a single player scored five goals in one match and none of them were easy.

            Those goals don’t come without the ball being lost in other attempts but count me as one of those who wants to see him try whenever he likes and won’t condemn him if he has a day when it doesn’t come off.

  44. justsayin
    March 9, 2012

    Xavi Torres, one of the most respected Catalan journalists, known to have top contact at FCB, is predicting that Pep will renew contract on Wednesday, the 14th.

    Here’s to hoping …

  45. March 9, 2012

    Former Barcelona vice-president Alfons Godall has urged the current club hierarchy to forge better relations with the Spanish federation.

    Barca have stated their intention to boycott a meeting with the RFEF on Tuesday because of their perceived ill-treatment by referees this season. The meeting has been called to decide a venue for this season’s Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao.

    Godall today claimed that former president Joan Laporta saw the importance of maintaining close links with the federation, in particular with his counterpart at the organisation Angel Maria Villar.

    Godall told Spanish sports daily Marca: “Not having a good relationship with the RFEF hurts us. We have to be close to the entities which exercise power and not turn our back on them.

    “Laporta cultivated very good relations with these institutions and that helped us.”

    Barcelona were angered by the decision to send off defender Gerard Pique during last Saturday’s Primera Division match against Sporting Gijon, a call Pique described as “premeditated”.

    They were unhappy with the RFEF’s decision not to take action against Real Madrid midfielder Pepe for an apparent stamp on the hand of Barca forward Lionel Messi earlier this season, and the Catalan giants also felt they should have been awarded penalties in matches against Osasuna and Valencia.

    • Nav
      March 9, 2012

      Why the f*k isn’t the club responding to this?

  46. Ron Mexico
    March 9, 2012

    @Kxevin: In regards to your comments about Messi not tracking back and how this is counter-intuitive to the “Guardiola Way”, I have a couple of comments.

    I do agree with you to an extent, because we have all seen, in the past, how complete a player he can be. However, I think you overemphasize a system that Guardiola seems to have changed, albeit slightly.

    Pep is a demanding coach who expects quite a bit out of his players. You can see this in his touchline intensity. If he thought that Messi should be tracking back and working harder on defense it may just be me but I believe that it would manifest itself on the field. And certainly, from time to time Messi does actually track back to this day. However, it is true that he also will seemingly “stand around”.

    Now, I think there are a few different ways to interpret this. For certain people this could be interpreted as laziness. It is true, for instance, that Eto’o was a fantastic pressing central forward. And perhaps if you look at Messi’s workrate in the defensive phase through the prism of Eto’o then Messi could be perceived to not be performing up to the ‘Guardiola Way’. But those two players play that position in completely different ways and are asked to do different sets of things. In Messi’s case, because he is often running at defenders and coming deep to receive the ball, positioning and space to receive the ball are crucial. Contrast that to Eto’o who was generally playing on the defender’s shoulder anyways and therefore was already close to the players he was closing down.

    What it comes down to is this: if you criticize Messi for not tracking back, you also have to criticize Pep for either instructing him to not do so or for consistently allow Messi to undermine his philosophy.

    Finally, you mention that if we have the ball we can’t lose, but if we don’t score we can’t win. It seems to me that Messi is allowed such positional freedom because he is the best in the world at winning games for a team. However, in order for him to do so he needs space to receive a pass, turn and generally run at the defense. The trade-off you make when asking Messi to press consistently is that it inevitably means he will be closer to opposition players. Allowed freedom, however, he can drift across the pitch looking for dangerous areas to turn possession into a chance.

    Suppose that’s how I view it anyways. Cheers!

  47. March 10, 2012

    Messi was quite good in possession against Leverkusen.

    102 attempted pass. Completed 87%. Attempted one long pass greater than 25 yards and completed it. One pass set up a shot by a teammate.

    He was dispossessed only once and turned the ball over once.

    He attempted 4 through balls completing 1. Given how difficult through balls can be and how narrowly Leverkusen were playing it’s difficult to make much of that through ball rate.

    Overall it was a somewhat odd defensive match for the entire Barca front line given Leverkusen’s how little they saw the ball and their tactics.

    Lerkusen had very little possession – 23%. That’s remarkable – they saw less than 25% possession. So Barca had very little defending to do.

    On top of that Leverkusne consistently looked to play the ball long to try to attack on quick transitions and counters.

    As an example of this – the Leverkusen keeper attempted 24 passes the entire game. Every pass attempt was played long. So when Leverkusen had the ball deep – the region where the Barca forward line’s upfield pressure is key to the Barca defensive system – Leverkusen attempted to play the ball long out of the zone.

    Leverkusen essentially bypassed the zone the Barca forwards had to defend. Generally they looked to play the ball long or in the air to take advantage of their height and avoid the Barca high pressure.

    As an example of this – take a look the defensive game of the players flanking Messi.

    Pedro’s work rate as always was very high. However, Pedro made only one tackle and had no intereceptions. Iniesta – no tackles and one intercepted pass. Tello – one interception no tackles. Messi – no tackles no interceptions – not significant different than the rest of the front line.

    In addition the Barca front line committed very few fouls. That suggests that they weren’t very involved with pressuring the ball as Leverkusen played the ball over them (the Barca front line often leads the team in fouls committed due to the high pressure) Pedro-0 fouls. Iniesta-0 fouls. Tello-0 fouls. Messi – 1 foul.

    When Barca needed to defend it was in the zones behind the forward line. Busquets – 4 tackles and 5 intercepted passes. Fabregas 3 tackles 1 intercepted pass. Alves – 3 tackles 1 intercepted pass. The only player in the midfield zone who didn’t have similar figures was Xavi – 0 tackles 1 interception. The backline showed a similar story to Busquets.

    The way Leverkusen played just reduced the impact that high pressure from the forward line could have defensively as the ball was played either over their zone or through it quickly with long passes.

    • nzm
      March 10, 2012

      Great stats, Euler – thanks!

      I guess that most of the tackles and recovered balls came from the backline – Pique and Mascherano?

      An 87% success for Messi with 102 passes meant that 12 passes were incomplete. When taken into the context of the whole game it may not seem a lot, or does it?

      It goes back to the discussion above with Kxevin regarding strikers losing balls vs. midfielders or defenders.

      It could also be that when Messi loses the ball, it has more impact on the spectators when compared to another player losing it. Viewer angst? 😀

      • Bill
        March 10, 2012

        Very good stats Euler! It definitely tells a better story about Messi’s performance. A very important part of his game, or any great players game is learning when and where to pick your spots.

        • March 10, 2012

          Statistics can deceive as much as they can be used to tell a story of excellence. If a player loses only 2 balls, but both result in scoring chances, what then? Statistics can often paint a different picture.

  48. barca96
    March 10, 2012

    Rafinha has been called up to the Brazilian U20 side.

    My thoughts;
    As a player I think it’s better to compete with the elite (Spain) and actually have a hope of winning something compared to mediocre (Brazil) who are so disorganized and with no style of play.

    I hope he chooses Spain above Brazil. Don’t want another Boateng but above all, I want him to enjoy playing instead of always getting criticism in Brazil where they always accuse the European-based players of under perfoming when playing for country.

    • Ron Mexico
      March 10, 2012

      As a fan first of Brasil (I was introduced to Barcelona by Rivaldo) I am delighted that he has seemingly chosen his father’s country over Spain. Looking forward it’s hard to envision him getting in the Spanish side any time soon with the wealth of talent available in the zone he is likely to be deployed in. Whereas, the Brasilian side has only a few options like Ganso and the rather young Lucas. If he does develop like people envision he will be, at the very least, in a very young and promising side quickly. Now, I understand what you’re saying: they need to find a coach who can organize a team that can compete at the modern international level. But if they do, a young core of Rafinha, Thiago Silva, Dani Alves, Neymar, Ganso, Dimao, etc. is a formidable group that someday could challenge for a World Cup in my opinion.

      • Ron Mexico
        March 10, 2012

        Just got off work and I’m a little out of it. The fourth sentence should read: If he does develop like people think he will he will be incorporated into a young and promising side rather quickly.

        Further more, Brasil have made a habit of performing rather terribly in the run up to major competitions (2002 WC springs to mind). I think the team that is fielded at the WC will be a strong one. Coincidentally, I think that tournament has the chance to go down as one of the all time greats, as there are a number of teams who could theoretically win it: Germany, Spain, Brasil, Argentina, France, Belgium (a dark horse!), The Dutch, Italy. Theoretically.

  49. Laurentiu88
    March 10, 2012

    Mourinho is brilliant saying that we too are like them! 🙂 Even Sid Lowe tends to agree, saying all RM penalties were right calls (i assume even Getafe one? :))!
    This has become a joke! You have a game with three clear penalty calls and hint that things are not alright and now ‘we are all the same’, Pep too chases referees outside the parking lot? He too protests the clearest of decisions (i have in mind Pepe’s body check on Messi in 2nd leg of super cup when JM goes to protest)?

  50. March 10, 2012

    I don’t get the fuss about Godall comments. He basicaly just says that by having better relations with the refs we wouldn’t have to suffer from the refereeing disgrace we see this year and by no way that we would get fake penalties or smth similar.
    Although, I disagree with him I think the refereeing is Spain has been shitty and pro madrid for as long as I remember

    This Raul dive comes to mind since 2003

    This with Osasuna when madrid had Boluda as president

    And of course this, which is a classic one at least here in Greece because it was vs Olympiakos in the CL. Imagine what would happen if we got that call. RED and PENALTY while the score is 1-0

    Expect madrid to scream Villarato at the first soft penalty we get, although Laporta is gone. As Pep says, we can’t win them in this game so we better not get involved

  51. Laurentiu88
    March 10, 2012

    “Nunca he deseado estar a la altura de Mourinho” pep

  52. March 10, 2012

    B team is playing now. Fun line up. Espinosa – yes that Espinosa – is actually starting.

    And Rafinha is playing as a false 9 with Deulofeu and Kiko on the wings.

    Here’s a working link: (via @migeru_cb)

  53. yana
    March 10, 2012

    Okay, this is just ridiculously cute. Mini warmup kits! Mini adizeroes! Huge duffel bags! (well, probably normal size duffel bags, but they look huge in comparison.) Mini huddle! Mini lineup! Mini goal celebration! Mini badge-kissing!

    And perhaps we’ll see these pics again in about fourteen years’ time, give or take, when they’re posted again after the first team debut of one of these kids… 🙂

    • sd
      March 10, 2012

      Whats so mini about them? They are normal sized Barcelona players.

      Ridiculously cute? Yes, for sure.

      Mini? No way. Just simple, normal sized Barcelona players.

  54. Ahmad
    March 10, 2012

    Real Betis 1-0 Real Madrid

    Been in this situation too many times…

    • mom4
      March 10, 2012

      Too soon to be hopeful. Wearing my R. Betis scarf that I got over in Sevilla just in case.

      Must. Not. Hope.

    • kinukinu
      March 10, 2012

      didn’t they get the memo that scoring early against EE is the kiss of death? This will end 4-1 🙁

    • nzm
      March 10, 2012

      Change of referee from the first half!

      • mom4
        March 10, 2012

        Really? I’m not watching. I refuse to be sucked into the trap that is hope.

        • March 10, 2012

          Its not about hope for me, no way MAdrid will drop 10 points. Not with the refs helping them out at every corner. Just now it was 2-2. There was the most blatant pen not given to BEtis and then 5 minutes later MAdrid score. I am not sure if there is a conspiracy, I would seriously like to think not since it would spell the death of Spanish football, but there is definitely something going on. No way this much help over the course of a season can be attributed to luck. Betis deserved to get something out of this game and once again a team that played well vs Madrid was robbed.

  55. March 10, 2012

    Yet ANOTHER clear as day penalty not given against Madrid. IT is actually becoming really quite ridiculous now.

    • jordi™
      March 10, 2012

      Sergio Ramos just had a turn at goalkeeper too 😆

    • Jim
      March 10, 2012

      Just watched the last minutes. Were you referring to Ramos’ handball in injury time or was there an earlier one?

  56. March 10, 2012

    Hahahahahahaha. Make that TWO penalties not given. One right at the death. Pathetic refereeing again. This league is starting to become a bit of a joke.

  57. mega_tajh
    March 10, 2012

    2 Handball in the box not given, seriously.

  58. Gogah
    March 10, 2012

    didn’t see the game, but looking at all ur comments, seems like it was another case of shitty refereeing benefiting madrid.

    how much fun would it be if there was some way to prove mou bribing the refs and madrid getting relegated like say juventus

  59. Laurentiu88
    March 10, 2012

    what a joke people

    at 2-2 all the calls were going in RM’s way; their corner came after a foul of kaka, which should have seen red on two occasions (high foot and diving)

    handball. one. two. i don’t like when they give penalties for silly unintentional handballs like the first one, but dam it, second one was pure goalkeeping. as eurosport commentator saw it “Oh goodness me – the replay shows that hit Ramos’s arm and the whistle goes. Well then – what a game, the substitute referee the centre of it but Betis aren’t complaining as they haven’t had the benefit of the replay.”

    Did madrid actually win any away game this year without any controversy?

    • Laurentiu88
      March 10, 2012

      relevant quote

      ‘The keeper is up for this! Right at the death, Benat over it… half-cleared, the shot comes in from Montero and surely a penalty from Ramos! Stonewall penalty! Not given! Ramos stuck his arm out!”

  60. TITO
    March 10, 2012

    Ridiculous, the first one on Xabi was more unintentional but the second one or Ramos was stone wall penalty, even the whole stadium saw it, except the referees of course.
    And the third one Ronaldo scored, should have been offside call on Khedira (i have to see the replay again) cause i’m sure he was offside when he jumped but he more than surely interfered with the play and that is offside by the rules.
    Nevermind all the shit that has been happening, they will always get the 3 points this season no matter the opponent does.

    • Laurentiu88
      March 10, 2012

      I wondered too is 3rd goal could have been penalty but there was no replay… the ball did come from Khedira.

    • mega_tajh
      March 10, 2012

      During the 1st half it seemed like he had problems with his hamstring.

  61. messifan
    March 10, 2012

    Just caught up with the latest talking points.

    1) Dang! Pep was feisty today in his presser. Although, I wish he didn’t respond to Mou directly, I agree with him completely regarding accusations thrown at Barca. Just feel bad for those players who have put so much effort on the field, only to have some trying to discredit their achievements. Last year it was the doping case and the infamous “Por Que” speech, this year the ref/ref committee. Hope they stay strong and play their game. I know there’s a lot of people in this world who also admire Barcelona and what the club historically represents.

    2) Regarding points made on Messi’s evolution. I agree with some here that his role has changed from years past, and it could be that he is instructed to perform differently this year than last. It’s not fair to judge one’s performance based on last year’s criteria. Also, it’s amazing to see the amount of attention/resources the club has invested in him. I wonder when he’s with Argentina, does he performs differently (tracking back and defending more)?
    I’ve been following Messi and Barca for about three years, so I don’t know a lot about Messi’s prior development. Was he this talented as a kid? Or does his progression coincide with Pep’s era? Just curious.

    3) It’s wonderful to see underdogs winning and giving their all, let’s hope the trend continues next week. Let’s go CSKA Moscow!!! Also, credit to Betis for playing.

  62. Kimcelona
    March 10, 2012

    GO CSKA! Spanish dominance in the CL (other than Barca) be DAMNED!

    No matter how much I should cheer for EE in anything, I just cant bring myself to.

    Betis was great though and I am seriously worried about our away trip there…

    I hope Pep is taking notes…and the players see their (Betis players) never say die attitudes.

    • mega_tajh
      March 10, 2012

      Betis made EE give their all. They have to be drained against CSKA. 2-1 win for the Russians.

  63. March 10, 2012

    Sometimes I feel..

    Anyone still surprised at today’s outcome? How many times has this happened? You can only say its a coincidence if this has happened a couple of times. Otherwise you’re in denial.

    You have to raise your voice. Have to complain. I’m telling this again. We’re dealing with EE. They have a manager who is adept at bullying the refs into doing his dirty work. He even managed to retire a great ref. like Anders Frisk. Don’t even ask about the great UEFA/UNICEF conspiracy.

    If refs are finding it easier to side with EE even on the most blatant of calls, give them a reason not to. Sometimes silence is the best option, but you and I both know its not working. Yes, the other 18 teams might have bigger beef with the refs but who do you feel is more hard done by today? Us? Or Betis who gave their all today? If the ref had known that there would be an equally big shitstorm headed his way if he didn’t give the obvious penalties/cards wouldn’t Betis have benefited?

    Toeing the moral high ground is admirable. But don’t confuse it with remaining mute and letting thieves run away with the loot..

  64. Helge
    March 10, 2012

    Oh, this is so funny.

    I’m lovin it!

    2 clear hand penalties not given, another double by CR. Another match luckily won by EE.

    • Helge
      March 10, 2012

      Who does still think this league is not over?

      Or that the refs mistakes equal out for us and EE?

      This is fucking ridiculous.

      • Helge
        March 10, 2012

        Sorry, maybe I can sleep better afterwards, because I should sleep now but I’m still a bit agitated.
        Need to let out a cry of rage

        Good night 🙂

  65. messifan
    March 10, 2012

    Racing just sacked one of their three managers this week, so I guess Barca will be dealing with an unknown tomorrow. My guess would be Racing parking the bus and trying to get a point or three to lift themselves from the relegation zone. It’s a pity that their club is in such financial mess. I visited their website and their chairman page was blanked. Sid Lowe wrote an article about the chaos in the club a while ago. The situation sounds so dire. I do wonder, is Racing the only first league club in Santander? If so, maybe the management should attempt to strike some sort of partnership with the Santander Group and see if they could restructure their club? It would be a great community partnership. Just a thought.

    For tomorrow, I would like to see Messi, Cuenca and Pedro start. Pedro and Cuenca need to get into the playing rhythm. In midfield, I go with Keita, Cesc and Iniesta. In defense, Alves, Masch, (Barca B) and Adriano. Tello, Xavi and Sergi Roberto for impact subs.

    The game is at 1:00 pm EST. Daylight Saving is tomorrow for North American folks.

    At this stage, let’s focus on our play. I want to see intensity and commitment to our style. One game at a time and let’s win 🙂

    Also, I miss Kari and Soccermom!

    • messifan
      March 10, 2012

      P.S. An interesting statistics- Racing went into Administration last July with debts of over 33 million euros (Reuters, 3/7/12). That’s less than Torres’ 50 million euros transfer fee.

  66. K_legit in Oz
    March 10, 2012

    After Scumrinho leaves the EE in the lurch we will see it all go down…all the players will be sucked of any energy and that club will is just what Scumrinho does to a club

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