Levante – Barcelona Liveblog

Just keep winning, just keep winning…

Starting XI: Valdes, Puyol, Mascherano, Adriano, Busquets, Xavi, Thiago, Fabregas, Pedro, Messi, Sanchez

Bench: Pinto, Alves, Pique, Montoya, Iniesta, Cuenca, Tello

Join me shortly after the Madrid match, 4:00 PM EST

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106 Comments

  1. Blau-Grenade
    April 14, 2012

    I have to say that Adriano has performed well in the past few games. I hope he can continue his good form and contribute towards titles.

  2. G6O
    April 14, 2012

    What’s the idea behind all the crosses in the box? If it was to provide surprise, it has, but the more important thing is for a tactic to work, and it hasn’t…

  3. TITO
    April 14, 2012

    I don’t know what’s the tactic, at least i cannot figure it out.
    That’s why Valdes will never wear the number one shirt for the national team, no matter how much better he have become through the years.
    I cant see us scoring unless is a PK or some defensive error from them. We should at least try enough not to lose. Going to EC with 6 points behind is not the worst thing in case we beat them.

  4. TITO
    April 14, 2012

    Well, i got it wright for the PK, but that was a display similar to the games we lost or draw earlier this season, but somehow escaped.
    Anyway, quite a relief it was!!!!

    • G6O
      April 14, 2012

      Today the officiating was close to prefect. That does make a difference 😉

  5. messifan
    April 14, 2012

    That was a good defensive performance from Levante. I’m impressed. And they also looked threatening going forward.

    Barca did not played well today. The first half was horrible. No one showed up. The second was better but we didn’t create too many clear chances. Cesc and Thiago were awful. And it was a stupid move by Busquets to give away that penalty.

    Chelsea will play like Levante, so we better solve our scoring problem soon and start defending corner better (place Busi away from the box).

    • mega_tajh
      April 14, 2012

      Reallly? Imo Thiago had a great 2nd half and we should really change our thoughts on Cesc since he iis playing a different role from when he started with us. He was the only one keeping the ball coming towards the end also.

      • messifan
        April 14, 2012

        No, I thought both didn’t play well. Thiago gave the ball away that led to a dangerous counterattacking move. Sometimes, he rushed the play too much. As for Cesc, I don’t know what to think of him. I know he played different roles. But he just went missing for most of the game. Watching this game, I didn’t see the “want” until the second half.

        Overall, no one stood out for me. The team is bound to have good games and not so good games. And today was one of those days.

  6. sd
    April 14, 2012

    Good win. Sometimes games like this are required.

    It is insane what Messi and Ronaldo are doing this year. It is insane what Barcelona and Madrid are doing. They have completely changed the whole barometer to which success should be measured against. If you got 70 points it used to be enough to win the league. If you scored 25 goals in the league it got you the pichichi. 41 and 41 is something we should enjoy no matter how much one person irritates us. Its not inconcievable that they could both end up with 50 in the league and Messi could break 70. Some teams don’t score that many. Ridiculous. Falcao and Soldado would be star strikers any other time.

    • G6O
      April 14, 2012

      Messi will most likely break 70, he has 63 already with 8 or 9 games left to play. Question is is he going to break 75. 50 in the leagues would be a stretch for either one of them but two hattricks and it’s not totally out of the question..

  7. flyzowee
    April 14, 2012

    Every year for the past 3/4yrs weve been on the market for a new striker and that trend is set to continue.

    I love messi but the %tage of our goals hes scoring is unhealthy for a club of our stature.

    • G6O
      April 14, 2012

      The same would apply to Madrid though…

      Our problem this season has been that the players who were supposed to contribute a lot of goals in addition to Messi (Villa and Pedro) got injured and/or were out of shape. Something that can not be predicted. But yes, we do need another consistent goal scoring threat

      • mega_tajh
        April 14, 2012

        Once Villa comes back and do half of what he did last season out frontline should be fine with Villa-Messi-Alexis. Hopefully with a good preason players like Pedro and Affelay should be back into groove. Not to mention a a 2nd season Cesc and Cuenca all we need is a Lb and Cb.

  8. K_legit in Oz
    April 14, 2012

    If we beat Madrid and that in itself is a big if, we have to depend on Sevilla or Athletic taking points off them plus we have to beat Malaga, Espanyol at home and Betis away..its difficult no?

  9. April 14, 2012

    Cue calls of ‘controversial penalty’ and ‘degrading tactics’..so frustrating. where’s that HATERS GONNA HATE gif again?

    • G6O
      April 14, 2012

      Both penalties were 100%. No legitimate complaints from either side about anything.

      • April 14, 2012

        yeah,the complaints i’ve seen are all from madridistas,but those who fancy themselves on being ‘fair’.

  10. April 14, 2012

    Go read the liveblog from when we conceded till we scored. Its as if we were relegated. We go one goal down and people start whining. It was awful until of course, we went ahead and all was forgotten.

    Control your negativity people, at least in the LB. A simple request. We are still in all three competitions even after being 10 pts down at one stage. Believe!

    • SoccerMom
      April 14, 2012

      Ah I stopped in looking for you, Vj!

      First, for Migs: SoMa’s Crow Recipe. Peel back plastic film. Microwave for 3 minutes on “defrost old meat” setting. Enjoy with spork.

      For Vj: You gave us a lovely definition of “karma” in a recent thread. I just wasn’t sure how to express “The cosmos responds to my every fleeting whim” in the LB.

      Loveblog was so much fun! I might be a single gal again midweek, so I might tune in again with y’all for Chahm-pyons!

      • April 15, 2012

        Well what do you know, people actually read my rants!

        I think its different for people like us, but the cosmos has to respond to every action a Goddess makes, or something to that effect. 😀

        Good to know that we’ll be in the presence of divinity in midweek. Yes, I’m SoMa’s total fanboy!

    • Nav
      April 14, 2012

      I left the liveblog then because it was getting too much.

      • swamidigital
        April 14, 2012

        I also left the liveblog for the same reason, too much negativity. Where is the belief in the team?

        • Nav
          April 14, 2012

          People get swept up in emotions and it’s understandable. But I agree that it’s difficult when I’m going all “YES YES COME ON LADS!!!!” and most others are like “ah well the league is over and messi is slacking and cesc has disappeared”. Oh well. I still love you guys. <3

  11. Momo
    April 14, 2012

    Cuenca… What a player, brilliant footballing brain. Really changed the dynamic of the match. MOTM by far in my opinion.

  12. y2k156
    April 14, 2012

    A tough match but happy with the win.

    I hope Xavi does not have any injury.

    Coming back to penalties. For me, they were ok. I wonder why Busi wanted to cross his hands in front of his body instead of keeping it by his side. This was same mistake with Yaya did in CL Semi Final. If the ball had not hit Busi’s hands, it would have hit his face or chest. Then it would not have been a penalty.

    For me, Iniesta changed the match. Against opponents like Levante, i would always prefer to have Iniesta in the mix instead of Xavi.

    Messi and Ronaldo are getting crazier every year.

    • caosanping
      April 14, 2012

      Iniesta did change everything today. Before he was on the pitch, all the defending forces were on Messi. Whenever he got the ball, 5-6 players formed a circle immediately. After Iniesta was on, Levante players had to split 2 people to cover Iniesta because he is so good at dribbling and breaking into the box. After Alves was on, we started to see the real Barca because we have 3 players on the pitch that can dribble.

      Honestly I am a bit disappointed about Sanchez. He is not good at penetrating Levante’s backline today and he wasn’t linked up well with other attackers (except the assist to Messi). Of course the Levante defense was so well organized (maybe as good as to AC Milan) and there is very little space for him to run.

      The biggest problem we have this season on the attacking line is lacking connections among attackers. I guess constantly changing the attacking lines did bite back on us. It gives some unpredictability at first (Sanchez, Cesc, Cuenca, Tello all scored nice goals in their first few matches), but the understanding between players need time to build and now the downside shows on the pitch. Only Messi can score constantly because he has super individual talent. Other players can’t bypass even one defender after their playing style is learned. Even Messi sometimes got stuck in the muscles when nobody can do a wall-kick or one touch pass with him. Just see how difficult it was for him when Iniesta was on the bench and see how good he was when Iniesta and Alves were both on the pitch.

      • messifan
        April 14, 2012

        Agree with everything you wrote. The subs changed this game for us. Iniesta and Dani forced defenders to divide their coverage. Cuenca was excellent.

        I don’t want to sound like a Debbie Downer but I thought we should by now be done with our experiment. Right now, I can’t tell what the best lineup for Barca should be. I know Pep wants to mix things up and makes the game less predictable. But with constant changes, the frontline just seems flat (injuries and loss of form should be a factor).

        In Pep’s prior years, opponents were forced to react to our game plan. But this year, we are forced to react to opponent’s game. I think that is counterproductive. Sure, we can experiment but do it in moderation.

      • Ryan
        April 14, 2012

        Wasn’t Sanchez part of the 1-2 that Messi scored? Sure, he wasn’t amazing in this game, but he scored a brace in the previous one.

  13. nia
    April 14, 2012

    I’m glad we beat the ‘frogs’ seeing how well they did play. They defended well and Kone was a danger every time he went up. What i’d like to see next time Messi scores, is a little thigh action, lol.

  14. blitzen
    April 14, 2012

    My thoughts:

    –Barça very bad in the first half. It was like everyone was moving in slow motion. Second half we looked more like a team that wanted to win.

    –Big props to Levante. They showed up and played hard. Yes, they parked a bus, but they also took their chances and attacked when they could. If Masche and Puyol hadn’t had such a good game Levante might have nicked another goal.

    –Both penalties called correctly. Busquets incredibly stupid to do what he did there. No complaints from me about that call. The penalty against Levante also correct, although Cuenca certainly did what he could to make absolutely sure it was called.

    –Thiago’s yellow card also deserved and idiotic from him. All he had to do was keep his mouth shut. Now he is out of the Clasico, not that he would have started, but he would have been another option for Pep.

    –Thank goodness Valdes didn’t get himself a card. I love Pinto to death but I do NOT want to see him play in this Clasico.

    –We talk about Messidepencia, but the fact is the team didn’t really improve until Iniesta came on. He was the creative spark the team needed.

    –People in the liveblog were very hard on Pedro, and he wasn’t great, but he also worked his socks off. In the first half he was the only player who even looked close to scoring. So give him a break.

    –Cuenca! appears to have stolen Pedro’s punctuation. He was excellent.

    –Masche is nice. So is Puyol. Can we keep them?

    • Nik
      April 14, 2012

      Agreed, though I didn’t think the Busquets’ call was right during the game. There didn’t seem to be any deliberate attempt to handle the ball and deny Levante possession.

      • G6O
        April 15, 2012

        His hands were in a completely unnatural position

    • Blau-Grenade
      April 14, 2012

      Busquets call was ball to body.

      While Pedro is a good player, he plays well when he is positioned as a centre forward. In this match he was playing as a winger and Barca at the current moment has much better options for that in the form of Cuenca and Tello. Pedro’s wing play is not the strongest.

      • blitzen
        April 14, 2012

        No way. That was a stone cold penalty. Not just the handball, it was obstruction in the box.

        • Nik
          April 14, 2012

          Do you have a link to the video? Cause from my memory, the Levante player smacked the ball straight at Busquets, who laid his hands flat across his chest to protect himself. I’ve looked in the Laws of the Game, and I don’t see any section where it says that having your hands across your chest is illegal. All it says is that a player should be adjudged to have handled the ball if he deliberately uses his hands to control the ball. I didn’t see the intent to handle.

          • ooga aga
            April 14, 2012

            no, his arms were away from his torso when the ball hit him. then he drew his hands into his chest as in “see? my hands were here when it hit me.” sorry, but the ref got this one absolutely correct. really dumb by Busi.

          • blitzen
            April 14, 2012

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sk6fUAedIOI

            He A) Had his leg up too high, dangerous play.

            B) Barged into the Levante player with his shoulders and hip.

            C) Yes he had his arms crossed. Doesn’t matter, see A & B.

            Penalty all day and all night. Bad Busi.

          • Nik
            April 14, 2012

            @ooga aaga Looks like he brings his arms in by reflex as the ball comes flying in at him. Doesn’t qualify as a foul for me.

            @blitzen Thanks for the vid. 🙂 I had forgotten he charged into the Levante player. Based on that, he definitely deserved the penalty.

      • blitzen
        April 14, 2012

        And when has Pedro ever been positioned as a centre forward?

      • Peterj
        April 15, 2012

        has pedro ever played as centre forward?lol

    • Ryan
      April 14, 2012

      Thanks for the link! He truly has grown in the team; even his passing has improved! And it’s great how often he wins possession cleanly… it feels a lifetime ago when he seemed a card magnet.

  15. kinukinu
    April 14, 2012

    Dear Messi,

    You are a king–a superhuman–an otherworldly being. There’s no disputing it.

    But…I just want to point out one teeny tiny little fact: when you are doing your magic dribbling thing you do and suddenly 6 defenders are swarming around you to try to stop it, sometimes they will succeed. However, the good news is that if 6 guys are all over you, that means up to 5 of your teammates are unmarked. Please note: on such an occasion, it is totally acceptable to pass the ball to one of said unmarked teammates.

    Also, I already love you, but thank you for making me love you even more by not doing things like lifting up your shorts and showing your thighs after you score.

    Thank you for your time.

    Sincerely,

    Kinu

    • Nav
      April 14, 2012

      He tries to pass, but sometimes passes are hard to make through 6 people.

      • kinukinu
        April 14, 2012

        Often, but not always. Maybe it’s just my perception but it seems like lately he’s been holding on to the ball for one dribble too many when he has other options.

    • messifan
      April 14, 2012

      Haha…he didn’t do that much dribbling in this game and to be fair, Levante was pretty compact. I love how he scored his first goal and immediately ran to the half-way line to restart the match. The guy wanted too win badly. Haven’t seen CR thigh-celebration; is it really that epic?

      Also, Ballesteros is a beast. The guy is just awesome. Ballesteros for la seleccion? Del Bosque should consider it since Spain doesn’t have that many good defenders.

      • Ryan
        April 14, 2012

        Nah, they’re fine with Puyi, Pique, Ramos, and Martinez filling the CB slots. Although seeing Ballesteros go would be awesome… has he ever been capped? A first cap in one’s mid-late 30s would be pretty amazing!

        • messifan
          April 14, 2012

          According to wikipedia, he has never been capped for the senior team. He is 36 and will be turning 37 in September.

          With Spain, Ramos should play as a right back. I like him there better than Arbeloa. Ballesteros can partner with Pique or Puyol, but that will probably be the slowest center back pairing in the world. I really like him and think he probably deserve a call-up to a friendly or something.

          So Del Bosque, if you’re reading this blog, listen to me!

          • pr17
            April 15, 2012

            I am also for ballesteros for euros. he was superb tonight and has been superb for past 2 seasons. He is great at positioning, good body strength, surprising agility (he outsprinted TB you know).
            I would partner him with puyol instead of pique or albiol or martinez. Worst case he would be first choice CB after puyol, pique.
            EL indian de camas Ramos has to play RB

    • swamidigital
      April 15, 2012

      He most often does try to pass his way out. Even if he is trying to create for himself he will look to play a 1-2 in that situation with someone else. Even he can’t make it work always in these situations, which is why it is important to keep width and have players beat defenders on the wings to open just a window more of space for playing through the center.

  16. ooga aga
    April 14, 2012

    great win. i love when we go one down. makes things so much more FUN!

    Pep: “the league is less impossible now”

    • Chiu
      April 15, 2012

      Next week classico will decide whether our chance would be upgraded to be possible.

  17. April 14, 2012

    As I noted in Twitterland, both penalties could very easily have not been called by anotber ref. They were soft. Correct, but soft. The only player who WOULDN’T put his hands up to cover his face when somebody kicked a ball at is Puyol. Because that’s how he rolls.

    As for the Cuenca penalty, again, Levante were stupid for not realizing that the ref was being rigid, and a sthe announcers noted, almost certainly thinking about a makeup call. That play in the box played right into his hands. Cuenca was a spark and full-on catalyst who made great things happen today. Hats off to Guardiola for the right subs.

    But for me, both penalties were very soft. Still a correct result, as if the two penalties cancel each other out, we’re left with the Messi wonder strike.

    Bad first half, average second. Massive ptops to Levate, who were organized, resolute and played their hearts out. They were undone by a few seconds of genius that I didn’t see coming. For realz.

    Mascherano is my MOTM. Spectacular all day, with even more fire than Puyol, which is saying something.

    • K_legit in Oz
      April 14, 2012

      “The only player who WOULDN’T put his hands up to cover his face when somebody kicked a ball at is Puyol.”

      Check back the game we lost 4-1 at the Bernebeau and look at the penalty we conceeded.

      • April 15, 2012

        LOL. That incident came to my mind instantly as I read Kxevin’s post..

    • Momo
      April 14, 2012

      Agreed about Masch being MOTM. I’ll go even further saying that he is on par with Messi as our stand out player of the season.

  18. yana
    April 14, 2012

    Some rambling thoughts, please bear with me. I feel so fortunate to have seen this team live. Among other many other things, I feel like it keeps within me that joy, to always to just enjoy this team, as Kari says, even when far, far away from the Camp Nou, and even more than that, that to “support a team” is a two-way thing.

    I think it’s easy to get overly stressed in the echo chamber when we are viewing on tv/streams. It’s just us and screens of varying sizes, maybe sharing thoughts on another screen (liveblog). We can !!!!!!!! when there are goals and pretty passing, but when things are tough, it’s so easy to exclaim about the things that are going wrong. Seeing a team live is a joy for the fan because of the excitement of the contest, but it is also a joy for the team because of the support from the fans. Viewing on a screen, we aren’t called upon to reach into ourselves to encourage our team — as Nav says above, “Come On Lads!” — they can’t hear us.

    The second match I saw at the Camp Nou was the match in October, against Sevilla. The one that ended in a 0-0 draw, the one in which Messi missed the penalty. We learned just how many emotional ways there are to whisper and/or yell “Venga Va!, Vale, Vamos” (I guess that would be Nav’s “Come On Lads!”) and spent the last 20 minutes on our feet, the crown leaning over the rows in front in a bodily desire to will the team on, it wouldn’t have surprised me if people lost their balance for focusing so much on the pitch and not their own feet.

    And the moment that I will keep with me always was the crowd chanting “Messi, Messi, Messi”. As you probably heard on the broadcast, this happened twice. Maybe not apparent on the broadcast was that the chanting *after* he missed the penalty was way louder, and longer, than the chanting leading up to it.

    We didn’t get to cheer the team on in victory, like the first time I had gone to the Camp Nou, but it means more to me now. I think viewing on a screen, it’s easy to focus on not winning, this missed chance, or that broken play — and I want to always remember that match in the Camp Nou, when for the fans, it was more important to focus on showing Messi we were behind him even without a win.

    Visca Barça!

  19. Srini
    April 15, 2012

    My thoughts –

    — Barca were lethargic in the last 20-30 minutes of the first half. Almost always pushing the ball towards the right flank for something to happen, and almost always Pedro trying to get into the middle and the ball smothered away by the tight Levante defense.

    — Both penalties were soft, but I thought the Busquets call was more clear than the Cuenca one. Earlier in the season, we wouldn’t have gotten it. But refereeing has been tighter as the season has progressed. And thankfully.

    — I was asking for Cuenca first up during the liveblog before the second half and boy, did he play well? The kid is a pure winger. He can take the ball forward towards the sideline and the baseline and that makes him far better than the inside forwards we have. That said, he is still frail.

    — Levante’s defense was superb as it has been all season. They were composed, organised and in full concentration. A contrast to Sporting, who showed brilliance as well, but were undone by a stark lack of concentration on the Higuain goal. Experience and high IQ always trumps inexperience and athleticism.

    — Levante’s Juanlu suffered as bad a broken leg nearly as much as Villa earlier season. Seeing him back in action was good. Levante’s early season performance was a function of this winger’s performance and it was good to see him back again.

    — The way Pep utilised Xavi and Iniesta was clever. Gives them enough legs and adrenalin for the Chelsea game.

    — Fabregas is now quite well integrated into the Barca squad. After never hesitating to pull the trigger earlier into the season, he now joins the others who won’t Choot the Ball.

    — Sanchez was gassed. Gives you perspective about Messi’s tireless performance despite playing nearly every game this season.

    — Puyol and Mascherano were superb. Enough said.

    • caosanping
      April 15, 2012

      Choot the ball! Hahah. I remember that video.

  20. cliveee
    April 15, 2012

    Noted on the loveblob: Levante is a top quality Liga side. Deserves to be fighting for the Champions League, and I hope they will be in.

    It could really be an exaggeration, but this blaugrana team played the right tactics for their players. The discipline, reactions and activity to cover each other up in their defense today were one hell of a football match to watch. After all, shutting out Barca for such a long time is really no simple task. Of course, we are in our bad day, but it’s mostly because they gave us hell, so our day was so bad.

    Negative defensive tactics or anti-football, whatever you wanna call it, Levante kept us out for 60 minutes and we were merely saved by a soft penalty. Plus, they weren’t really Anti-football as they demonstrated their ability to play the ball and create chances. Their misfortune was that certain Argentine player called Mascherano is with us. Hats-off to this Blaugrana side, a very mature (old, lol) team that played with much determination and intensity.

    Cesc needs to wake up. Right now.

  21. Peterj
    April 15, 2012

    No,he isn’t on par with him…without messi goals,where would the team be rite now..dont tell me some other one of our player would rise up to the challenge!dont get me wrong,mascherano has been good,but i think we woulda coped without him a bit,but who is gonna be scoring without messi.

    • Helge
      April 15, 2012

      Yes, this season, Messi is scoring and assisting even more than before. And the other players all lack goals.
      But this is not due to Messi ‘stealing’ their chances, the others have simply been quite poor in attack and ineffective.

      Messi was directly involved in almost 90 goals this season.

      I think one of the reasons why EE is ahead in la Liga is because Benz and Higuain also score 20+ goals and thus Real now has a deadly attacking trio as we’ve had with Henry, Eto’o and Messi in 08/09.

  22. Helge
    April 15, 2012

    ” Picture: Spanish king could miss King’s Cup final Athletic-Barcelona after he injured his hip while hunting elephants http://bit.ly/HIhnif

    Serves him right!
    Isn’t elephant hunting prohibited since decades? Even if they only used anaesthaetic arrows… I also despise people who hunt animals for fun.

    • blitzen
      April 15, 2012

      No, it’s quite legal in many African countries as long as you go with a licensed professional (and are not allowed to take the ivory).

      I’m not in favour of trophy hunting AT ALL, but the problem with elephants is that they are very destructive to their habitat. In the wild they roam through huge territories and the foliage has a chance to regrow, but since these days their territories are limited due to human infringement, they are in danger of literally eating themselves out of their homes. So their population has to be strictly managed.

      • blitzen
        April 15, 2012

        But I did not know this:

        In March 1956, Juan Carlos’s younger brother Alfonso died in a gun accident at the family’s home Villa Giralda in Estoril, Portugal. The Spanish Embassy in Portugal issued an official communiqué:[9]

        Whilst His Highness Prince Alfonso was cleaning a revolver last evening with his brother, a shot was fired hitting his forehead and killing him in a few minutes. The accident took place at 20.30 hours, after the Infante’s return from the Maundy Thursday religious service, during which he had received holy communion.

        Very quickly, however, rumours appeared in newspapers that the gun had actually been held by Juan Carlos at the moment the shot was fired. Josefina Carolo, dressmaker to Juan Carlos’s mother, said that Juan Carlos pointed the pistol at Alfonso and pulled the trigger, unaware that the pistol was loaded. Bernardo Arnoso, a Portuguese friend of Juan Carlos, also said that Juan Carlos fired the pistol not knowing that it was loaded, and adding that the bullet ricocheted off a wall hitting Alfonso in the face. Helena Matheopoulos, a Greek author who spoke with Juan Carlos’s sister Pilar, said that Alfonso had been out of the room and when he returned and pushed the door open, the door knocked Juan Carlos in the arm causing him to fire the pistol.

        @@

        (Wikipedia)

    • Srini
      April 15, 2012

      Hunting is a medieval enterprise. It has no place in the post-Enlightenment world. But again IMO, so is monarchy.

  23. Chiu
    April 15, 2012

    Chelsea will still play tonight in FA Cup semifinal. So practically they have one day less of rest before the CL match.

  24. Peterj
    April 15, 2012

    True…i still think our formation has been changed just to accomodate cesc,and its clearly slowing our game alot nowadays

    • Srini
      April 15, 2012

      I disagree.

      Cesc has been a very important cog in the 3-4-3 formation and has done well there. He hasn’t been bad as a Xavi replacement, but slightly better as an Iniesta replacement. All said, he has tracked back well and has done well in delivering the final pass, combined well with Messi and his integration has generally been smooth.

      The game has slowed because the players are quite fatigued. It is a very very difficult schedule that they have played and reminescent of last season (which was less taxing than this one), their speed of play has slowed down. They have however done better at home where the pitch suits them better as compared to the away games where the opposition has tried to maximise its pitch deciding advantages.

      I think they should be fine though during this “squeaky bum time”.

      • Jim
        April 15, 2012

        Cesc is a puzzling one for me. I was totally in favour of us buying him, he started off scoring exactly the sort of goals we had stopped scoring; the late run into the box kind which is almost impossible to guard against, then the goals dried up a bit and I ended up having to look to see what he was actually doing on the pitch. I rewatched a bit of yesterday’s match with this in mind and i’m a little reassured by it. He is still looking for the runs into the box but needs the ball at exactly the right time and this prevented two or three chances yesterday. He is also tracking back very well as has been said and I thought his passing in the bit I rewatched was pretty good.

        I suppose the real problem with him is, as has been said, his position. He is, imo, worth a place for games where we need something a little different but who to leave out – for me it’s not a midfielder. Alexis has impressed me with his work rate and the goals he has scored but not sure he is a good enough to take up a goal scorer’s position. Still want to see him beating a man. Pedro is working his way back but needs to get back to scoring quite a bit more or his place is in jeopardy.

        Cuenca, despite receiving quite a few accolades for his performance last night, is disappointing for me. I thought he had a pretty average game in total. He seems unable to beat his man and needs to rely on us getting him time in space to put the ball over. I lost count of the number of times his crosses were blocked by the first man or he failed to get past him. FWIW, I thought it was a pretty soft penalty ( as was Busi’s ) and I’m not sure why people were raving about his pass to Messi on the LB. It was a fairly standard easy pass to someone who had four or five round him and made the goal almost entirely himself. His worth, as it was in the last game, was in keeping the width which allows him time on the ball before he is closed down – the sort of position Dani gets into. If Cuenca is going to survive, and he’s too young to make final decisions on him, he has to be able to beat a man then put over a good cross. Tello has impressed me more with his shooting ability but needs to be able to cut inside as easily as he hits the byeline.

        I suppose what I’m wondering is whether we can afford to play more than one of Pedro, Alexis, Cuenca or Tello at any time and if so, who goes? Maybe Villa’s return will sort the goalscoring situation but he is getting on and we need to be thinking about his replacement.

        sorry for the length. Rambles on a slow Sunday while watching Chelsea in the background.

        • Jnice
          April 15, 2012

          As the season has progressed, I think Alexis has been taking on more responsibility and has beat a fair number of defenders on the dribble. He got a player on Zaragoza sent off doing exactly that. Also, we have to take into account what instructions Pep gives him. Looks to me like he’s been told to make diagonal runs beyond the last man rather than dribble and put in a cross.

          As for Cuenca, I think you’ve been too harsh on him from the start. Cuenca isn’t explosive like Tello is, but for my money, he’s a more well rounded player. Again, I’ve seen him beat a fare number of defenders (the reason he’s drawn 4 pks) and he’s able to cut both inside and play a ball into the middle (like he did for Messi yesterday), or go outside and put in a decent ball. The pass to the middle is a simple one, but not everyone does it. Adriano, Tello, etc refuse to make that pass all the time even when it’s the best option. Cuenca is a smart footballer who follows Pep’s instructions to the tee and that’s why he gets the opportunities he does. I first noticed his ability to combine intelligently with players during preseason and he’s been steadily improving ever since. He can only get better.

          • Jim
            April 15, 2012

            I’m pretty sure he will get better but if that’s where our space is created and he’s taking up a forward place we need to be getting more out of it. Just watched the first 15 or so minutes of the second half. He received the ball wide about 9 or 10 times, a huge amount of possession. He played three or four simple passes back or across which didn’t lose possession, tried to cross about the same amount and all bar one were easily blocked ( the other one came when the defender slipped in front of him and he crossed the ball). The other time he cut inside and attempted a chip through the middle which lost possession.

            He’s obviously obeying Pep’s instructions but what he’s doing just about any decent professional could do. I’m disappointed as I’d heard that he was something of a wizard with a ball – maybe my error – and he hasn’t really shown it for me so far. The person in that position for us gets the ball with enough time and space to mount a run at a defender which commits them. That, along with no great shooting ability, I feel may tell against him in the long run. What I would say is that I liked his attitude for the penalty – even although I thought it was a soft award. At least he committed himself there to go for the return which caused a problem.

            Doesn’t mean I hate the guy – just an opinion. I have pretty much the same beef with Dani in that position, although just as I decide his distribution is hopeless he’ll pull out a gem. 🙂 Guess we just have to wait and see over the next while although as I said before it’s too early to make final decisions. What I would say is that there may not be as much time for the youngsters to shine as we would like since there is going to have to be a clear out of some sort, unpalatable as that may be. When we get everyone back we are going to have Messi, Villa, Pedro, Alexis, Cuenca, Tello, Affellay and maybe Cesc ( hopefully not Iniesta!) competing for the forward places with a new striker possibly also coming in ?

  25. messifan
    April 15, 2012

    Watching Spurs vs. Chelsea. Drogba starts, maybe Torres for midweek?

    • footballfan
      April 15, 2012

      Will be very surprised if Drogba doesn’t start against us. Hoping for an extra-time!

    • Ryan
      April 15, 2012

      What Drogba just did out of absolutely nothing is what scares me – the guy is just too strong!

  26. messifan
    April 15, 2012

    SPOILER ALERT!!!!!

    First Half Report:
    Chelsea played well. Drogba scored for them in the first half. He scored out of nothing. Chelsea didn’t defend that deep. They actually pressed a little bit in the beginning and they certainly rely on their aerial strength. Also, I see a lot of long passes. Spurs did not control the midfield but they did create two dangerous opportunities. Also, Chelsea looked very aggressive.

    • footballfan
      April 15, 2012

      And Chelsea “scored” another.

    • messifan
      April 15, 2012

      Uh oh…Another controversial decision. A corner for Chelsea. Terry fouled the keeper. Mata shot the rebound but the ball did not cross the line. The referee gave a goal to Chelsea anyway.

      Note to Barca: must defend corners!

        • messifan
          April 15, 2012

          Yeah, that was a poor decision. Spurs just scored. Cech fouled Adebayor in the box but Bale shot the rebound. And David Luiz is off injured.

          • Ryan
            April 15, 2012

            We were in a similar position a year or 2 ago with a dire decision. They had scored on us, but we fouled (Busi I think?) and thus had they not scored Busquets would have been sent off. I’ll take a goal conceded over a red and penalty any day!

      • footballfan
        April 15, 2012

        From what I saw, the referee is at a perfectly good position to judge. How he manages to give the goal when the ball doesn’t cross the line is baffling.

    • messifan
      April 15, 2012

      Dang! Bale is fast. He should do that run more often. Come on Spurs!!!

    • messifan
      April 15, 2012

      And Rameries just scored. Game over?

      • messifan
        April 15, 2012

        Lampard just scored from a free-kick. It was a really good goal. Game over indeed.

        • messifan
          April 15, 2012

          Malouda scored 5-1 to Chelsea. I did not see that coming. I thought Spurs were supposed to be good. They gave up after the phantom goal.

  27. Judas Pissed
    April 15, 2012

    David Luiz carried off. Bad news for him – good news for Barca.

    • messifan
      April 15, 2012

      Well, tbf David Luiz is an accident waiting to happen for Chelsea.

      • Judas Pissed
        April 15, 2012

        Still better than Gary Cahill tho!

    • Helge
      April 15, 2012

      I think it is rather a disadvantage for us.

      Because Gary Cahill is more disciplined and doesn’t go as much forward as Luiz. Luiz is a younger Lucio, but with a lot less defensive skill. He would have been the weak link in their defence.

  28. messifan
    April 15, 2012

    Regarding Spurs vs. Chelsea:

    Overall, Chelsea earned their victory. Spurs turned the ball over too many times. Their midfield was non-existent and they kinda gave up after the second Chelsea’s goal. Chelsea played to their strength i.e. long passes and counter attacking. I would be wary of Drogba and Ramires. They have speed. But I think Barcelona’s midfield will do a better job controlling the game. We should not rush our attack especially at Stamford Bridge. It’s going to be an interesting game.

  29. Jim
    April 15, 2012

    Bif choice to make at the back if Drogba plays. Left one on one he’s a danger. Need four at the back for a start.

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