Don’t Forget the Final 89

The whole concept is that you’re better for 90 minutes. That is, really, the idea. At first it may not seem obvious, but after an hour and a half, it’s fairly clear. Take a gander at the first 5 minutes against Arsenal in 2009 and then the final score; after that, once you’ve digested the reality of what came to pass, tell me it isn’t about 90 minutes. Try. Just go ahead and try.

There was a moment not so long ago when 18 seconds separated Barcelona from the league trophy. The official site puts it this way:

Then came 18 seconds of madness on the penultimate weekend. Madrid came from behind to draw with Zaragoza, and just as they scored, Espanyol equalised with Barça at the Camp Nou. A great chance had gone to waste and Capello’s side made no mistake on the final day, rendering Barça’s goal-fest in Tarragona useless. “

It’s about the 90 minutes worth. It’s why both Guardiola and Puyol scream at players when the team is winning 4-0. It’s why you can never give up an easy chance even when you’re winning by a mile. Milan learned the hard way in the Champions league final against Liverpool and nearly relearned it against Arsenal in the round of 16 this year.

Why this Phil Simms-esque “the game is a full 90 minutes” diatribe? Because we’re down 6 points and there’s no margin for error whatsoever. Even if you say that the Clasico will get us to 3 points, there are still 3 monumental points that have to be overcome. Guardiola is right in saying that this will be a bit complicated. And it’s Mallorca that stands in our way at the moment, not what happens next week in Milan and not what happens in a month when Real Madrid visits the Camp Nou. Putting pressure on a Madrid team that looks like cracking in half at the wrong moment is exactly what the team has to do, but it’s no easy measure, not with a rear guard made out of popsicle sticks and badly applied rubber cement.

Our attack may be monstrous, but it will mean little if we allow Mallorca to put 3 beyond Valdes. Granada may have been lucky to get penalties to do just that, but they were still constantly attacking rather than being shown the side exit by a well-mannered, yet very insistent back line. And so, while the front is allowed to have fun, the back must be solid and stern, very Mr. Carson to the attack’s Lady Mary. There’s glory in keeping the house in order, you know.

So it is that Mallorca hosts Barç and the team has to continue to perform well while also continuing to put on the show that has made them so fun to watch recently. Messi can have another hat trick if he’d like, while Iniesta, Xavi, and Busquets are needed to hold down the fort in midfield, though Sport thinks Cesc will start head of Xavi. You can, however, start as brightly as you want, so long as you remember the final 89 minutes.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.


  1. March 24, 2012

    I don’t usually remember dreams, but this one happened last night:

    –We drew Mallorca, after getting an early PK that was anulled when Messi tried to dribble it. I was actually AT the match, on the sidelines. We scored, but I have no idea how.

    They scored off an attack that should have been a throw-in, but I obscured the ref’s view of the ball clearly going out of bounds. Valdes stopped playing, the defense was WAYYYY up the pitch and Mallorca easily tapped it past Valdes, who didn’t even move.

    The pitch was like a cow pasture, all chunked up and messy.

    Like I said …. weird.

    • nzm
      March 24, 2012

      Well – at least you were right about the pitch. 🙂

  2. blitzen
    March 24, 2012

    In other news, El Pais has yet another article on the situation at Real Madrid:

    In essence it says that Lass had an almighty row with Mourinho about a month ago. He wanted to leave last year but Mou blocked it and assured him he would play more, but has now left him on the bench in favour of local boy Granero. Mou doesn’t want to let Lass go because he wants the option of using him as part of a trivote. Suggestion that Lass may have gotten himself carded on purpose in the Villarreal game.

    Then there is some stuff about the favouritism shown to the Portuguese players (and Di Maria), all represented by Jorge Mendes of course. Rumours that Mou has had private meetings with them to encourage them to obey him blindly and present a united front against the press and “the Spanish” who persecute their failure.

    Pretty strong stuff, and normally I would dismiss stories like this out of hand. But this is Diego Torres from El Pais, not Marca or Sport. Usually pretty reliable. Whether the actual quotes or true or not, there is clearly something very very wrong in that dressing room.

    • hansh
      March 24, 2012

      If half of the stories that are coming out of the Madrid locker room are true, it’s still disgusting. Things seem to be reaching the breaking point and when things fall apart, it’s going to be very, very ugly.

    • Ryan
      March 24, 2012

      At least when Inter imploded after Mourinho, they had a fantastic year beforehand where they won a treble – I was expecting this nonsense AFTER Mou left, not during!

  3. Iyayei
    March 24, 2012

    Hi guys, I have been reading u for a number of years bt I’ve never commented until now. I can remember those 18 seconds of madness in the 37th journada of 06-07 season. It was a heartbreaking experience that I never wish to repeat. There’s one incident in Granada game which signifies Puyol’s commitment to this club. It was in the 2nd half, Pique squandered a free header and held his head in surprise. Instantly, Puyol yelled at him to track back and defend bcos at that time Barca were leading 3-2 and their goalie was about to hoof the ball inside the pitch.

    • March 24, 2012

      Welcome! Always good to see new names. Stick around for a while!

  4. mega_tajh
    March 24, 2012

    Barcelona line-up (Official): Valdés – Piqué, Puyol, Mascherano – Iniesta, Thiago, Busquets, Fábregas – Pedro, Alexis, Messi

    Called we would play a 3-4-3

    • ooga aga
      March 24, 2012

      we need pedro to have a good game, and he will, and he will score a goal. id bet the farm on it.

    • mega_tajh
      March 24, 2012

      9 Homegrown players Starting and may come to 10 with Cuenca and Tello on the bench!!!!

      Add in Xavi for Alexis and Muniesa for Masch and we get a straight La Masia 3-4-3 starting XI.

  5. stowe
    March 25, 2012

    “not with a rear guard made out of popsicle sticks and badly applied rubber cement.”
    this made me chuckle

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