Mallorca – Barcelona Liveblog

3 points, 3 points, 3 points. Forget all the other nonsense swirling around La Liga like the water in toilet after you flush. It doesn’t matter right now, only the 3 points do. Pep decided to get his senior players on the pitch and went with a 3-4-3. This means Montoya isn’t starting so I’m going on strike.


Starting XI: Valdés, Puyol, Mascherano, Piqué, Iniesta, Busquets, Fàbregas, Thiago, Pedro, Messi, Sanchez

Bench: Pinto, Muniesa, Montoya, Keita, Xavi, Cuenca, Tello


The match starts at 1:00 PM EST. I’m going to take a quick nap before, so the LB will start when I wake up.


  1. Really, whoever decided that every hand ball should be a yellow card is a moron. Players are getting cards, suspended and even sent off for what sometimes isn’t even a hand ball, and even when it is, the hand ball is the most non-violent foul you can think of, so it is totally stupid to clamp down on hand balls in such a way. While we’ve seen plenty of health-threatening fouls go completely unpunished… You can always count on the people running La Liga to come up with some insanity like that

  2. Winning away from home with a man down for 30 minutes? Looks like we’re back to winning the tough games!

    1. Yes, nice to see us finally winning that kind of games with some consistency. We will need to win all of them from now on

  3. Great win. Let’s see – the team you’re managing is 1-0 up away against a weaker, but hard fighting opponent, you get a controversial, and possibly gamechanging, call against you (red card/free kick with a goal scored) – what do you do:

    a) Go ballistic at the ref, getting yourself red carded and provoking two of your players to get sent off
    b) Pull out 2 smart subs, score another goal, proceed to win the game?

    Bravo Pep.

  4. Pep Guardiola:
    “They would have reasons to decide those punishments, but I believe that the referees and the committee are not demanding the respect they deserve (no se han hecho respetar), and now they are suspectful of any of their calls. The problem is that they have not defined a clear line. They have let go a lot of things and now, someone can suspect of them. With a serious committee, Pique deserved a punishment for what he said, but then, the player that says that he’s been robbed, also deserves a sanction.
    They have to demand respect urgently, and they have to let the games be played and won on the field”
    We had 75% of possession in the game, and sometimes it is hard to believe that in 8 games we had 4 red cards. But we accept it, we keep playing with effort and without excuses.
    After winning everything the last 4 years and being exemplary in everything, at first you see a long season, and we could have let go. Now we’re in the end and we know so. Efforts cant be measurable. Or we, the entire group, go for it or we will not make it. I’m gratified that with ten players on field we didnt feel sorry for ourselves and we had generated more effort to create even more goal chances”

    1. This is a translation from Pep’s quotes from his presser.
      I agree with everything he says. It is weird the decisions of the committee, and he’s being fair in saying that as Pique deserved a sanction, also CR7 and everyone else. This team didn’t broke down in excuses and foul plays after Thiago’s red card. This team is made from different stuff. But it is also important to state that it is weird that playing as we play (one of the clubs that makes less fouls on la liga) we got 4 red cards in 8 games. And that EE has less red cards than us, playing as hard and dirty as they do. But still, this team will keep the effort, against everything and everyone. They rise to the challenge.

    2. Pep also pointed out some weeks ago that Messi got his 5th yellow for three hand balls, arguing with the referee and one foul. Which is absurd. And even more absurd is that this happened before certain players from other teams well known for their thuggish style of play got theirs. Same with this recent string of red cards. I am glad he’s talking about it and he’s doing it in such a way

    3. I am glad too. And I believe he knows when to speak up about it. This is getting ridiculous…

    4. Pep is good at mind games and people don’t realise that. Mou is aggresive and doesn’t beat around the bush, whereas Pep is passive aggressive. He is also putting pressure on the refs and the committee, coz surely Barca are not a dirty team, yet have players suspended left and right. I want to know since every hand ball is a yellow card, how come RM and any team playing us are never punished. I applaud Pep for speaking out coz now we have a shot at the liga.
      As they say in England, squeeky bum time and mind games for the end of the season.

  5. If I was new to football and just started watching barca this season, id be seriously wondering what exactly cesc brings to our Midfield. In a cesc – thiago pairing, it is thiago that brings composure and direction.

    Pedro has me worried, he isnt closing down like before ( His MV assest) and hes killing attacks.

    But the team did well.
    Busi-> Beast
    Montoya-> Beast
    keita-> Stabalizng Beast.

  6. Team showed once again Charakter after beeing down to 10 for 35 min.. Sloppy Game but a vital Win.

    Glad to see Piqué scoring played almost without(remember only one loosing out a header against Ramis?).Still not in topform but getting better game by game.

    Didn’t understand Caparros decision to sub Chico, unless he was injured it looked strange since best Mallorcian defender imho.

  7. Milan lost Thiago Silva today, a huge lost for them. Will give us some relief when we attack them. Abate is out as well.

    1. Abate out as well? Why? This is a huge blow for them. If Nesta isn’t fit enough to start, they are going to suffer a lot. And even if he is, he hasn’t played in a while, and I don’t think he has any sort of partnership with Mexes.

      Abate out is arguably more of a difference maker than Silva out actually. Now we will be safer with Puyol at LB. Milan play narrow, Puyol will drop centrally a lot more, especially without worrying about the Abate threat.

      Sanchez and Messi will definitely start, but who will be the third attacker? Pep will probably go with Cesc, but I’d prefer basically anyone else if I’m honest. Pedro, Cuenca, Tello, or Thiago.

      Pedro is risky. He is getting better, but he is still not finishing, and his overall touch and movement isn’t quite at it’s best. But his work rate might be crucial in tiring out Milan. I think it’s a good strategy to tire out defenses with the high work rates of Pedro and Sanchez, then bring Tello on to destroy. Pep seems pretty intent on keeping Tello as a super-sub. Pep will need to give him starts eventually, but right now we have a really awesome game changer, and I would like to keep that until the end of the season. Besides, with Milan playing very compact and narrow, Tello’s speed might not do much.

      The perfect scenario would be for us to score a goal, Milan open up and attack, then Tello comes on and kills the old and slow Milan defenders.

      Now, the main question for me is: Pedro or Thiago for the LW? Thiago has been terrific whenever played in a forward position, and I think he deserves his chance to play after his harsh red card. Thiago is very powerful (Busquets-like) defensively, and he will also help keep possession better than Pedro, which will tire them out even more.

      Also, against Milan, we need dribblers. It’s the best way to carve open their defense. We need players who require double marking, that will open up spaces elsewhere. In the home game against them in the group leg, we missed that (Iniesta and Sanchez injured), and their defense was extremely tight.

      We need dribblers, and Pedro isn’t one. Neither is Cesc. We don’t know how Tello will do with the start. Thiago is a certain dribbler, he will beat his man, and we can count on him a lot more to deliver the right pass or shot.

      If Pedro isn’t having a good game, he will become redundant, and it will be like playing with 10 men. If Thiago isn’t having a good game, there is a lot more we can do with him. He can alternate with Iniesta regularly, his free kicks and crosses are always dangerous, and worst case scenario, he can do the Villa role of being a good outlet on the wing.

    2. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cuenca is the third forward. When facing top-notch defenses he hasn’t been too adventurous, but he’s shown he can beat defenders on the run, and his crosses are quite good. Plus, he’s played well on either wing. Maybe a Cuenca-Messi-Alexis front line? Though of course one never knows with Pep.

    3. Abate had a muscle problem at his right tighs.It was said that he need’s at least 14 Days to recover. Guess Zambrotta will probably play.But i wouldn’t exclude him yet since he wouldn’t be the first Player to ”magically” recover fast for an important match.

      Thiago Silve is confirmed to be out for 3 or 4 weeks thus missing out both game.

      Playing Thiago is a good Option since his skills and workrate are quite impressive. But I think Pep will probably root for Iniesta as LW and make sure that Cesc plays behind him.

    1. if this was done today it would have been a red card fro Puyol and a penalty 😐

  8. Amazing win by the boys,

    Not only did we manage to hold a lead after being 1 man down, but we also managed to eventually regain and hold possession we oh so missed during a big chunk of the second half. Kudos to the men at the back for keeping composed and defending well.

    Unlucky for Thiago who should not in anyway have been given that second yellow. Infact it was actually a good piece of reflex control that prevented any chance of the ball reaching a Mallorca player. the commentator mentioned it was a clumsy decision for Thiago to make, I have to disagree, Thiago has every right to control the ball with his body in that manner.

    Pedro unfortunatly didnt have a good game, but he wasn’t the only player either. Messi on a few too many occasions gave away possession that could have easily cost us, same for Thiago despite otherwise having a good showing. Iniesta also looked a little off, it wasn’t his control or his dribbling, but at times he did look a little sluggish and not his explosive self. Fabregas is very hard to criticize because we know how effective he can be in a free role, and lately he hasn’t been effective, but at the same time he has been given a more fixed role by Pep and its hard to judge him when hes still working on his game.

  9. i think other teams have started to greet us with an unwelcome pitch! and our game did suffer and give up the idea of short an fast combination around the box. (i remember the pass from Messi to Pedro that was supposed to just leave him with the finish an instead it stopped some inches short)

    i wish Sanchez would play a little more often with the pass. I started to notice moments when he tries to finish by himself and not play with a pass.

    i think Montoya was great.

    Iniesta is so good in the center near Messi – which gives some sort of multiplier effect – don’t understand the need to exile him on the left.

    I watched both games on al jazeera with english commentators. they were saying there was no hand ball on Thiago but a clear second yellow on Alonso. Unfortunately for us the public pressure may have had an effect. In Thiago’s case i dont thing the referee could have even seen … eh.
    Real were pretty good against a not impressive Sociedad.I know they are still the master of their fate but I still smell blood in their game… just one loss away…

    1. The bad bitches many teams in La Liga have are bad in general, not just against us. Sure, teams often do “forget” to take care of the pitch prior to games against us but if you watch other home games of teams, the pitch is just as bad.

      My guess is that maintaining the kind of smooth carpet we play on costs a lot of money and some of the poorer teams in La Liga probably simply can’t afford it. That’s true all over Europe – the big and rich clubs have better pitches than the small and poor ones; it is better in some leagues than others but there is definitely a connection.

      And I strongly suspect this is it at least in part to blame for our poor away form – it is simply impossible to play the Barca game when the ball bobbles and bounces all the time, passes travel at a snail pace, and you can never be sure you won’t trip into some bump.

      Yesterday there was one moment that illustrated it well – Iniesta had the ball in the center of Mallorca’s half, there was a defender in front of him and Iniesta tried to do something but his leg got stuck in the grass and he didn’t even kick the ball which was promptly taken away from him by the defender. I’ve personally had the misfortune to have played a lot on poor pitches and am painfully familiar with that kind of accident – it made Iniesta look stupid when it wasn’t at all his fault, he just got tricked by the grass, and it wasn’t the only occasion in the game. Iniesta, BTW, and other players with extremely close control on the ball, are especially vulnerable to bad playing conditions, because they rely on very delicate movements with their feet to control the ball, and if the ball does behave predictably due to tall grass with lots of bumps, it completely ruins their game. But you need to have experienced it to know, if you haven’t, it is very easy to say “If we’re the best in the world, we should be able to play on any kind of surface”. No, exactly the opposite, the things that make you the best in the world also make you particularly vulnerable to poor pitches…

    2. Well explained regarding the Issue with the spanish Pitches.. It’s a costly Luxurly and the spanish Climate doesn’t help either
      I remember how Sergio Andrés, Xavi and Pep last season were unsatisfied about the poor pitch-conditions @Camp Nou and appealed for a change. About 300 000 Euros and they changed it Twice.

      Against Sociedad,Villarreal and Espanyol the pitch looked on optimal conditions.Match against Bilbao wasn’t beneficial for both Teams…

    3. All those pitches have since been repaired or replaced. In their last home game that I saw, I noticed that Osasuna’s pitch had a new strip of turf laid all the way through the middle from goal to goal where it was practically green paint during the Barca game there.

      I think that there needs to be some criteria laid down by the RFEF with regards to pitch condition. Fair enough that they don’t water the pitch or cut the grass, but when a pitch is cutting up so badly that it becomes virtually unplayable or dangerous, action has to be taken. Fines or forfeiture of points need to be introduced for poor pitches. There is no excuse.

  10. Franco Was Atletico Madri … • Beverly Hills, California • 2 days 9 hours ago

    Its always like this. Barca always play with 13 players on their side (11 plus the 3 refs) while Madrid is always cheated with these corrupt refs that are Barca fans or were paid off.

    He obviously failed his maths.

  11. So, HOW is that triangle for a goal combination?

    Pique to Puyol, Puyol to Messi shot and off the post to Pique to score 🙂

    You would’t believe it! 🙂

  12. – A vital 3 points to maintain the pressure on EE. From the highlight, I consider our performance was just OK. We put adequate intensity to get 3 points with the CL big match against Rossoneri beckoning. Furthermore, we played with 10 men in the last 30 minutes made this win more pleasurable. Hopefully the balance and stability we had between home and away results would continue till the end of season.

    – Pep managed to rest Xavi in the bench was a good outcome too. The fresher Xavi could prove valuable in San Siro.

    – Last night we started with 3-4-3. After the news about Abidal liver transplant made public, I keep wondering Pep alone must be informed about Abidal health condition since last year. This could be one of the reasons why Pep was so insistent to keep experimenting with the 3-4-3 since the beginning of the season. He knew sometimes during this season; we will loss Abidal for the surgery and the team must be prepared to play without the first choice LB. This 3-4-3 might be one of his contingency plans, besides the motives to integrate Cesc and to practice a plan-B for classico or big matches that were unquestionably valid too. Just wondering.

    – The gap remains 6 points after EE win against Sociedad. Next week, both of us will play an equally tricky match; we host Bilbao in Camp Nou and EE will visit Pamplona. It’s still 9 games to wish we will unseat EE from the top spot. Keep hope Cules!

    1. Actually last night we were in more of a 3-3-3-1. Alexis was playing the 9 ahead of Iniesta-Messi-Pedro who were ahead of Busi-Thiago-Cesc. But with the pitch in such poor conditions the ball wouldn’t roll and they were unable to dominate possession in the midfield, which is key to playing three at the back. On top of it, Mallorca was able to attack us from wide positions, which is the other thing that will destroy a 3 man defense. Pep remedied the situation after about 30 minutes by moving Busi back to CB and Thiago to DM (where defensively he bossed, although he lost 2 passes in dangerous positions). This move fixed everything, until Thiago was sent off. Then Montoya subbed a pretty mediocre Cesc, allowing Busi to get back to the DM spot where he was fantastic to close out the match and Keita came on for Pedro, which really was when we took control of the match for good.

    2. In other words, Guardiola messed up his initial lineup, but managed the match beautifully with his subs.

    3. isn’t there always an initial gamble on how the game will develop?

      you are right about the game on wards, it was not going ok for us – but the Pep’s changes made all the difference. Also i thought that they started the second half trying to conserve the result, not pushing too much.

    4. At least he made changes this time. On other occasions, he’s refused to change tactics, and it’s ended badly. I think that this is where Tito’s influence and vision comes in. He can see the bigger picture re what’s happening on the pitch, while Pep is more focussed on the individual player movements. That’s why they are such a good team, and why Barca struggled with tactics and positioning when Tito was not on the bench earlier in the season.

    5. it is possible, they were talking a lot yesterday.

      zaragoza won again, this time with atletico. our game there might not be that easy after all.

    1. I enjoyed them, but I also remember that the rising popularity of BFB was making the large number of avatars slow down the site.

  13. Thiago Silva out for a month, according to reports. It looks like we won’t be the only side missing a key defender over the two ties (anims Abidal).

    1. Yeah, looks like Allegris gsmble backfired him. Gallian and Allegri talked about Bonera slotting in which means Nesta isn’t match fit.

    2. do you think Pep might use Keita this time too as in the previous game? hope that this time the fact that we’ll have Iniesta will matter.

    3. Don’t think so but would wish thou since he’s the best box2box midfielder imho. But yeah Cesc gonna play anyway which isn’t that bad 🙂

  14. Watched the Match between Espanyol vs. Malaga today. Malaga had the Chance to get even with Valencia CF and took the bait.

    Espanyol played better for the mayority of the Game but their own Stupidity backfired them at the second half two mistakes by Keeper Álvarez made them loose a sure win.Kameni was subbed in at the first hald and did some crucial saves..

    For Valencia and esspecially for Emery it’s getting tighter. Right now the Fans are headet up against Emery and its not sure anymore that both Club and Coach will work together for a further year.VCF loosing out 23 Point’s made sure for a hard foughted Seasonfinish for CL Spots 🙂

    1. Forget to add impressive Display by Coutinho it wasn’t his best game but he showed his worth once again with a brilliant freekick. Very skillful player wonder if Espanyol have Clause to keep him..

    2. unbelievable that Malaga reached Valencia 🙂 maybe it will make them take the RM game in two weeks more serious?

      hope Osasuna continues its winning streak 🙂 Especially!!

  15. So, HUGE game this week.. I hope we can play our game. That Xavi Iniesta Cesc Messi can tie again some of the quick passes combinations – like Sevilla game.

    How do you expect the game to be?

    Do you think maybe Milan will play more careful this time, not to concede any goals?
    How will we stop Ibra this time?

  16. This is a pretty interesting article from ElPaís:

    “”Wednesday at Madrigal after the game, Madrid’s coach waited for his players at the dressing room, feeling pretty agitated. Even with the noise of the dressing room, his voice was heard above everyone else. A witness heard him say: “Now you have to go out and say to the press that the referee robbed us 2 points”. The dt was enfuriated. But apart from Cristiano, Pepe and the technical staff, most of the players were more concentrated in taking a shower that giving him attention. There were players that protested out in the open the chief’s order. Voices disagreeing with him were heard in the place: “Once again with the same old story! What we have to do, is to play better on the field!”
    The coach, extremely angry, walked out of the dressing room accompanied by Karanka, not long after, the club announced that no one would make public declatarions. Mourinho ordered silence.

    Players followed the last command, but they have talked to each other a lot since then. Thursday, Casillas and Ramos called a meeting with all the players, but none of the technical staff. The main subject was to reject the conspiracy denounces strategy that destabilized the team so much last season, in the belief that all of that only served as a excuse to the coach’s mistakes and to motivate rivals. They also talked about the need of organizing between themselves to give a solution to offensive mistakes in the last few weeks.
    The assembly surprised Mourinho. Coach, always worried about controling every aspect in the team, didnt like at all the way the meeting was set. That’s why he imposed silence, trying to sent one image to the outer world. When he realized he couldnt sent his line of communication, and distrusting of what some players could say, Mourinho gave a clean break(cortó por lo sano).”

    1. Interesting, but I would take it all with a grain of salt.

      Mourinho is a master of press manipulation. He has dedicated people working for him who report to the press, and “leak” stories to suit whatever plans Mourinho has.

      Before the CdR games against Barcelona, it was all about the feud between Ramos and Mou with Casillas as the third man – the so-called spat on the training grounds where Mourinho called out Ramos to explain why he hadn’t been marking Puyol for the corner kick, and Ramos telling him that he and Pepe had changed roles and that Mourinho wouldn’t understand why changes had to be made because he “had never been a player”.

      This is all a build-up to the clasico in April and the potential match-up in Champions League between Barca and RM.

      Don’t get sucked into it – there’s a few weeks to go until the clasico, and it’s only going to get worse before then!

      Just remember that if Mourinho doesn’t want it in the press, it won’t be mentioned.

      But it’s a good read if you don’t take it seriously.

      Whatever happens, just remember this: whenever Mourinho’s management team leaves a club, that club implodes for a few seasons. They will struggle to emerge from the sh*tstorm and the shellshock which surrounds them, as a result of Mourinho and his ilk permeating their tainted brand of leadership through the club, before they suddenly depart after their rape and pillage of RM.

      It will take an incredible new managerial team to undo the psychological impact that Mourinho has over his players. It’s like a strain of Stockholm Syndrome where the victims start to empathise with their tormentor. I sense that worse is yet to come for RM (at least the players) when Mourinho finally leaves the club. At the same time, there may be a few who breathe a sigh of relief that their incarceration is over!

      I long for the day when I can see the Spanish NT players of RM and Barcelona able to forget about these times, and the clasicos become the exciting events that they used to be.

    2. There’s always the possibility that within the layer of evil there is an unhappy camper or two who is so sick of being amongst all that crazy that they would go so far as to leak stories about what goes on in the dressing room.

      On the other hand, as you’ve said Mou has his team of PR people calling the shots and the man is a control freak so this could all be some made up bull crap by some very desperate journalists.

      It would be nice if Mourinho’s departure came sooner rather than later. He has been getting a lot of grief over criticizing the RM fans for not being supportive enough and his antics are costing him in the form of calls against them(although they don’t came as often as some would wish for). They say if he wins La Liga he’ll close up shop but I get the feeling he won’t go away until he’s won the CL too 🙁

    1. yes interesting article, thou’ Qatar F. is not an airlines 🙂 so funny the story of the Ramalah celebrations :))

      and i thought that they are predicting that this year Barca will top earning list…

  17. It’s been mentioned, but this game was another instance where the importance of Busquets to the team can’t be understated.

    Very early in the match it was apparent that Mallorca had expected to see a three man defense, and they tried to overload it right from the first whistle. This was most apparent when Mallorca was counterattacking – they had two forwards who were being joined high up by one of the midfielders, trying to get 3 vs. 3 against our back line. It worked for a while too, they looked dangerous on counters and we didn’t have enough protection at the back.

    It looked like Pep tried several things to address it. Early in the first half Thiago was playing fairly deep and to the right of midfield – almost playing where Alves would be but 5-10 yards further infield. This didn’t really work that well, and as the half wore on Busquets spent more and more time dropping into the defense. He was shuttling between DM and CB but near the end of the half he seemed to have settled in the defense with Thiago playing more central and deep in the midfield.

    It can’t be understated how important Busquets’ ability to make this transition is to the team. His ability to read the game and know whether he should be deeper or pressing higher up the pitch allowed him to essentially play one and a half positions on the pitch at the same time.

    The teams ability to adjust tactics to meet the Mallorca threat were essential in the clean sheet, and it is versatile, intelligent players who give the team this ability. There are other examples on the team – Iniesta comes to mind. In this match however, it was Busquets who was the key piece of the puzzle. He was my MOTM.

    Oh, and Montoya was excellent. Pep needs to find a way to get him more playing time (shouldn’t be too difficult considering our current FB issues).

  18. In Barca B news, they won 2-1 v. Alcoyano at the Miniestadi tonight, and Dongou scored, (his first in Adelante), the winning goal in the 80th minute just after he was subbed into play. 😀

    AvB was at the match, watching from the stands.

    1. yay! how did the babies control the tempo, maintained possession?

      oh Avb, im glad he is doing something productive now! To watch babies is so much better than to teach terry, lampard tactics.

    2. Unfortunately the game wasn’t televised, so none of us could actually watch. I listened to radio commentary, which was kind of fun.

      As for AVB I wouldn’t be surprised if he came to Barcelona specifically to talk to Pep about tactics, ect.

    3. 🙂 I wonder if Avb advices Pep to rescue Romeu from the medieval empire! (pun intended)

  19. It’ll be interesting (as usual) to see the starting 11 for the milan game. With Bilbao in mind, would it be reasonable to rest Xaviesta, and perhaps Alexis? The first leg being away, I feel Milan invariably will stay reactive the entire game. Not conceding should be their utmost priority.

    I would love to see Busi, Keita and Thiago take control of the midfield and Messi, Pedro and Cesc/Alexis stretch the milan defense. If that’s so, we’d see Thiago, Cesc, Busi, Keita as a new combination for a starting lineup (if my memory serves me right)! wouldn’t that be nice?

    1. Yes he should. But its crucial that he (and Don) stays fully fit against Bilbao. Im just concerned about the possibility of a niggling injury. Good thing is that Van Bommel is out for the 1st leg due to suspension.

    2. Bilbao will also have midweek Europa Leageu match. So they would come to Camp Nou with same burden too, fitness wise

    3. Thanks i feel a lot better. But burden or no burden, Bilbao would press and play bravely in perfect playing conditions. Two of the best manager who already encountered in a superb game and a cdr final to be played. Anyway, a cracker of a game awaits us.

    4. Why would they be rested,when milan is potentially a knockout game 4 us…so u think pep should rest them cos of bilbao?who cares abt bilbao,they play like shit rite now

  20. from siempro roja twitter: Today Abi will have his liver transplant at Hospital Clínic de Barcelona.

    Hope for the succesfull surgery. Animsabidal!

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