Barcelona – Bilbao Liveblog

It appears Pep is going into this match with Tuesday firmly in mind, as Puyol and Xavi have been given some rest. Tello gets a surprise start. Who will be the Teacher and who the Student today?

Starting XI: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano, Busquets, Thiago, Iniesta, Sanchez, Messi, Tello

Bench: Pinto, Puyol, Montoya, Keita Xavi, Pedro, Cuenca

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  1. nia
    March 31, 2012

    told you’ll not too count on Osasuna.

    • Laurentiu88
      March 31, 2012

      still, league is nicer at 6 points than at 10 🙂

      we have to learn from them too – and I would say the difference this season has been in the great form of the other forwards besides Messi and CR. This year little Pedro, Villa, Sanchez. What a difference some extra goals would have meant!

  2. footballfan
    March 31, 2012

    No Muniain and Llorente for Bilbao. Bielsa must be thinking about UEFA cup too.

  3. March 31, 2012

    Damn, my comp hanged just as I was about to say my killer ending line. LB ended by the time my comp revived. Soon…soon..

  4. blitzen
    March 31, 2012

    I really enjoyed watching that game! Can’t wait to DL it. Stay tuned for some blitzen awards. 😀

  5. messifan
    March 31, 2012

    That was a really good game. For me, MOTM is Pique but everyone played really well. But the forward players need to finish their chances.

    • cuqui
      March 31, 2012

      Pique, Alves, Alexis!, Iniesta, Thiago, all great.

      But Javier Mascherano is MOTM for me. Phenomenal match.

  6. TITO
    March 31, 2012

    Good game, but not really what i want to see against Milan on Tuesday. Want to mentions just some things that i think should have been avoided like for example tooooooo much of dribbling, tooooooo much of fancy passes, toooo much of trying to come to the goal line to score.

  7. flyzowee
    March 31, 2012

    Welcome Back Pique!
    I think its official now…

    • Momo
      March 31, 2012

      Yes he was brilliant. Him and Masch make quite the pairing. Safe to say we have the closest thing to puyol’s replacement in Mascherano.

    • messifan
      March 31, 2012

      Lol…Where is Jim? He must really proud of Pique today 🙂

  8. Jafri
    March 31, 2012

    Only saw the last twenty minutes, but Pique was a beast! Was he that good the rest of the match as well?

    • Blau-Grenade
      March 31, 2012

      Pique and sMash were unbelievable today. Besides defending heroically, they were the ones that were attacking Bilbao all night with their runs from the back.

  9. TITO
    March 31, 2012

    Well, let’s just say that our back line was at their best, all of them.

  10. Momo
    March 31, 2012

    That Thiago touch in the second half… My word…

  11. mom4
    March 31, 2012

    Great game!

    but Mascherano and Pique, dang!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. flyzowee
    March 31, 2012

    I see only iniesta and messi bringing down that ball that thiago controlled and thats because ive seen them do it… Amazing!

    Imagine if that was pedro controlling it. His first touch might have put valdes under pressure…jk

  13. cuqui
    March 31, 2012

    @barcastuff: Guardiola: “The game against Milan on Tuesday will be the most important and most beautiful game of the year.”

    AC Milan: Be afraid.

    Be very afraid.

  14. Dani_el
    March 31, 2012

    Camp Nou’s homage to Messi

    Great game, I’m gonna download it because my stream wasn’t any good.

    And Barça may have a tour to Asia this summer, including Indonesia.

    I know someone in the BFB family that will be very happy!

  15. Dani_el
    March 31, 2012

    Camp Nou’s homage to Messi

    Great game, I’m gonna download it because my stream wasn’t any good.

    And Barça may have a tour to Asia this summer, including Indonesia.

    I know someone in the BFB family will be very happy!

  16. blitzen
    March 31, 2012

    Guardiola: “Wouldn’t change Mascherano for anyone, would never ever sell him. Unique transfer. Spectacular as player and person.”

    Hearts & flowers. <3

    • Kimcelona
      March 31, 2012

      When I read that I had the same reaction.
      Masche aint going nowhere..unless he forces out ofcourse..which I dont think he will 😀

      My hubby <3!

    • Dani_el
      March 31, 2012

      I was about to post it. Mascherano said this in response of the nice words from everybody:
      “Lot of praise? This club has given me more than I have given the club.” #fcblive from barçastuff

      He does and says the right things. I hope he stays long long time.

  17. Anonymous_69
    March 31, 2012

    Some people complained about Tello, but I thought he was fine. The ball was not played to him nearly enough, but his defensive work was great, and he made a lot of good off the ball runs (although the ball wasn’t played to him).

    Adriano has made a real case to start vs Milan. For me, Masch and Pique are certainties for the game, so it is between Adriano and Puyol. I think I prefer to start out more offensively with Adriano (he will also be better prepared for the speedy Abate), get the goals, then being Puyol on for the last 25 minutes or so.

    One of the main things I loved about this game was the directness. As soon as we won the ball, it went straight forward, directly to the attackers. Thiago and Busquets were vital for this. Messi and Iniesta helped the transitions go smoothly. I haven’t seen that kind of directness from us in a while. We probably won’t see that kind of intensity against Milan with Xavi dictating a slower tempo (I’m assuming, although Xavi can up it too if he wants). The directness was great, now the team just has to complement that with shooting! We killed them at times with some extremely fast attacks, but then we killed those attacks when we got near their box and refused to shoot.

    The biggest problem was, again, the finishing. Bad finishing against Mallorca, then against Milan, then against Bilbao. We seem to be in good form and are doing almost everything right, but the finishing is off. Now that we have gotten Pique back on form, Sanchez injury-free and improving, the difference maker heading into the end of the season can be Pedro. He has been improving, but his finishing is still severely off. If we can get another consistent scorer for these last two months, it will be the biggest possible blessing. Cesc improving and Adriano staying fit would be nice as well, but I don’t want to ask for too much :).

    • Messiah10
      April 1, 2012

      It’s hard 2 C where Cesc fits in with this lineup. I don’t think he has the speed to close down defenders and press high up the field as fast as Thiago, Tello, even Cuenca. I was hoping Pep would bring on Kieta to shore up that patch of possesion Bilbao had towards the end. He did and Kieta came up big and Xavi slowed the game down a bit which countered Bilbao’s counter-attack. Great game by Pep. Made all the right moves

  18. kinukinu
    March 31, 2012

    Regarding Tello: I rewatched the game and I think we were hard on him in the Live Blog. First of all, in the 5th minute, he picked out Pique with a great pass that almost led to a goal. Also, from the beginning he was pretty heavily marked, but I think he used that to draw his mark out wide, creating more space in the center for the attack. There were a few occasions where he was making a run or open for a pass from Messi and Iniesta, but they didn’t even seem to be looking for him at all, which leads me to think that perhaps Pep had a different plan for Tello today.

    A lot of people (myself included) have been calling him a one-trick pony, but in hindsight I think that’s a hasty judgment. Sure, he has one brilliant move that has been effective for a short period of time, and he capitalized on that for as long as he could–why wouldn’t he? As an impact-sub, he has a more limited role and “that move,” or even the mere threat of it, is just what the game needs. He usually comes in when the center is congested and the team needs a way in from the left. That wasn’t so necessary today–with Adriano and even Pique so involved in the attack, there were plenty of outlets. Sure, he had a couple of minor brain farts, but then so does Messi every game. And he was brilliant in drawing the penalty that sealed the deal.

    As a starter, he has to serve multiple purposes, and I believe Pep is working on developing that. I’m interested to see if this was a successful experiment and if he’ll get another start against Milan, and how that might change the way Milan defends at Camp Nou…

  19. pr17
    March 31, 2012

    woof. what a game.
    this game was a “no country for old men” ehh??

    Masche – what a signing. Classiest centre back in the game now. One of my dream duels is to see messi dribble past masche. Artful dodger vs the implacable rock.

    Good to see team show hunger, better ball movement and most importantly the astonishing pressing. We outpressed bilbao. Seems like pep wanted to show bielsa his progress in the pressing department as an eager pupil would like show his progress to his Master.

    • mega_tajh
      March 31, 2012

      I believe Pep was just trying out the game-plan for Milan, so expect basically the same, hope to see this kind of Pique for Tues game also.

      The main question now is do we start Adriano-Pique-Puyol-Alves or Puyol-Mash-Pique-Alves. Mash has been in imperious form so it would be tough to drop him, or maybe our 3-4-3 which has done well while at home.

      • Anonymous_69
        April 1, 2012

        I believe it’s either Adriano-Mascherano-Pique-Alves or Puyol-Mascherano-Pique-Alves. I think it’s between Puyol and Adriano. I think Mascherano is a certain starter. Today showed that Pique can play well even if Puyol isn’t on the field. And honestly, I think Adriano should start. He is a natural LB. He is Abidal’s sub. Besides obviously giving us so much offensively, on his good day he can be as defensively secure as Puyol playing LB. Because he IS a LB. If it was away, then Puyol. But at home, it being the second leg and we need some early goals, Adriano. But still, Puyol is our inspirational leader. I think Masch, being as amazing as he is, always needs to start. But so does Puyol… IDK, thank god it’s Pep’s decision to make.

  20. y2k156
    April 1, 2012

    Bilbao always make it difficult. Barca had to play real good.

    We should also commend the excellent defensive work by Bilbao. Javi Martinez was immense.

    • barca96
      April 1, 2012

      And he was playing CB instead of his natural position DM.

  21. Oil_Can
    April 1, 2012

    This was an extremely entertaining game to watch. A full 90 minute display of high intensity and high concentration.

    -Nothing has changed from the Milan game, once again our Defense has been impeccable.

    -Pique and Mascherano being applauded for their work, but lets not forget Sanchez also, who not only pressed hard but pressed effectively. He played till he dropped. Big KUDOS to him

    -Happy for Tello being rewarded with a start, although he was quiet it was already too much pressure for a player this age.

    -I would probably start Alves-Pique-Masch-Adriano against Milan, this allows us to shift adriano further up the field and bring in Puyol later on. The more tactical options the better.

    • Messiah10
      April 1, 2012

      I like the Adriano thought of starting everyone’s mentioned, but NO WAY Pep starts Capt. Tarzan on the bench in this BIG of a game.

  22. TITO
    April 1, 2012

    To notice also how are back four played is the fact that they first ever shot on the goal came in the 80th minute.

  23. Chiu
    April 1, 2012

    Next week we’ll play one day before EE. We play Zaragoza away on Saturday and EE host Valencia on Sunday. The pressure factor with playing later will haunt EE dream a night before the match. Hope next week would become a major turning point in our liga chase. We could count up that possibility considering Valencia capability. Meantime, we have to finish the business against Milan this Tuesday and cruise to semifinal. Visca Barca!

  24. Jim
    April 1, 2012

    Great game, great performance but let’s stay sensible about it. I don’t want to see this sort of approach midweek as it would play into Milan’s counter attacking which could well be more lethal than Bilbao, who tbh, did look a little tired. Imo, we need Xavi back to control the midfield but with Iniesta beside him. At the back it’s a close call but I’m gonna go with what I know best which is that Puyol never lets us down in big matches. If he’s fit he plays for me. Besides, I’d be happy with either him or Pique being stranded in the middle with a high ball coming into Ibra rather than Masch. however, if we plan to play an open game Masch’s speed comes into it a little more. Difficult decision.

    I have to say, despite the fact that I don’t think Tello is the finished article, I’d probably also start him. He kept his width well, wasn’t often found with the ball but does give the defence something different to think about. At home, he’ll get the crowd support and could be a great quick out ball. Atm, for me he’s ahead of Cuenca.

    Only real worry I have for the rest of the season is where the goals are going to come from. It’s amazing we are where we are with really only messi regularly hitting the target.

    Looking forward to it anyway – anxiety hasn’t set in yet.

    • footballfan
      April 1, 2012

      Agree with you re: tello/cuenca. I’d rather have a true winger in that position rather than dragging Iniesta there. My line-up would probably be something like

      Alves Pique Masch Puyol
      Busi Xavi Iniesta
      Sanchez Messi Cuenca/Tello

      • Laurentiu88
        April 1, 2012

        i wonder if Pep will choose a team without Keita for all the air duels…

        i guess it depends on how we can predict the game will develop? will Milan stay deep choosing to pressure us from time to time, seeking corners and free-kicks of which they had none at San Siro? In this case we need less caution an maybe more options in front… But he can also begin with a more conservative line up that will not be exposed to mistakes or present less defensive weakness – but this means that we expect to score this time sooner rather than later and then play with an attacking Milan?

        My guess is that Milan will try to exploit first our weakness and try to score – i don’t see them attempting to defend from start…

  25. Gogah
    April 1, 2012

    A fully fit and confident Adriano is really something.
    Can be way better than Abidal.

    • Jim
      April 1, 2012

      He certainly can be in an attacking sense but I’m not yet convinced defensively by him. I think he needs a lot of bailing out by the CBs. There is also the question of injury. I think he needs to stay fit for the rest of the season or questions will be asked about his future at Barca. I’m not as big an Abidal fan as some here but leaving aside Abidal’s situation he’d be on my team sheet before Adriano.

  26. Clouseau
    April 1, 2012

    Really enjoyed that match yesterday fun to watch 🙂

    Glad to see the Team Pressingplay as well as their directness, straight forwardly attackingplay.

  27. genesfut
    April 1, 2012

    id go with
    alves, pique, masche,puyol
    sanchez,messi, iniesta.

    tello to come in for sanchez 70th min,
    adriano for cesc 80th
    keita for iniesta 85th.

    sanchez will wear off after the game he had yesterday hence tello.
    later in the game milan will try anything to claw back hence adi and keitee,

    overall should be an easy 3 nil win,

  28. Brosep
    April 1, 2012

    To start Adriano or Puyol – why not both? It’s acknowledged that Milan is somewhat weak along the flanks, and for me, Pep’s decision to play Keita for the full 90 last week suggests he respects Milan’s attack enough that he plays more defensively than he would against a lesser team.

    It’s a tactic he’s used in big games before, something like Alves-Puyol-Masch-Pique-Adriano. It gives Barca full extension along either flank, if it needs to stretch Milan, and gets a little more defense on the pitch than we might usually play. Both Adriano and Alves have played as wingers this season, and it would allow for the 3-4-3/3-5-2 if Barca gets into cruise control.

    The rest of the lineup? Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta/Cesc, Messi, Sanchez. That Tello started against Bilbao suggests to me that he probably will not start against Milan.

    • blitzen
      April 1, 2012

      Something like “All the strength from this goal goes to Abidal.” It was sweet.

      • aaron88
        April 1, 2012

        thank you! can I give you an award?

  29. mega_tajh
    April 1, 2012

    So take the upcoming Milan game out for a moment and look at La Liga calender. The next 2 match days are going to be very important for both teams much so for Madrid.

    On Saturday we play away to Zaragoza while on Sunday EE host Valencia, then on Tuesday we host Getafe while Madrid have Atl. Madrid away on Wednesday. Important fact here is that we play a day ahead of them forcing them into getting a positive result one way or the other.

    With minimum of only 3 days rest sometimes only 2 things can get interesting, we just have to do our job in these games, Zaragoza away could be tough especially after the Milan game.

    Heres Hoping.

    • Laurentiu88
      April 1, 2012

      valencia does not look like a challenge anymore and will come after europa league game too.

      atletico might be interesting… hope alonso gets one more yellow too 🙂 and it is their challenge as rivals to leave them without a title 🙂

      • Chiu
        April 1, 2012

        Valencia and Atletico are the most capable challangers to get some point from EE before the classico. This next 2 match potentially would decide Barca faith in the liga race. Keep hope!

  30. April 1, 2012

    Valencia will be in no position do any damage unfortunately. First of all, they’re in terrible form. Second, they’ll be playing in Madrid. Third, there are only 2 full days off between their Europa game and the Madrid game.

    • mega_tajh
      April 1, 2012

      Whose to say, we all know EE drops point in the most unlikely cases while they succeed when we expect them to drop. Ie the Osasuna game where I really thought it would be tight.

    • Chiu
      April 1, 2012

      a draw would be the realistic target for valecia considering the short rest day after Europe league match.

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