El Clasico Liveblog

I’m calm. Win, lose, or draw I love this team.

Starting XI: Valdes Alves Mascherano Puyol Adriano Xavi Busquets Thiago Tello Messi Iniesta

Bench: Pinto, Pique, Montoya, Keita, Fabregas, Pedro, Sanchez

Evil XI Casillas; Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Coentrao, Khedira, Xabi Alonso, Ronaldo, Ozil, Di Maria, Benzema

 

Match starts at 2:00 PM EST. BYOCrazy

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185 Comments

  1. Humphrey Bogart
    April 21, 2012

    what is strange than in the last 3 season at the end of the season, crunch time, we always did come out strong and did what had to be done.
    This season we had 3 crunch games and have lost 2, it is just not the same team

    • April 21, 2012

      In my opinion it’s because of your small squad. Heaven forbid Messi were to get injured, what would Barca do? There’s no one else who can score a goal seeing as how Villa is injured. Yes Real Madrid get a lot of goals from Ronaldo but when Ronaldo doesn’t play Real Madrid don’t look any worse a team at all, it just forces them to play differently but they’ll still get the goals.

      After so many seasons of going deep into every single competition, fatigue – mental and physical – is bound to take a toll. And in my opinion this is one blight on Guardiola’s coaching record, his squad planning hasn’t been good. Selling Eto’o and parting with a bunch of money for Ibra was a terrible decision, as was the decision to begin this season with a small squad.

      • Humphrey Bogart
        April 21, 2012

        must agree, it is bitter that you can sub in a 63 mio. Kaka and we have to play with 2 canteros.

        Lack of squad depth was a main problem this season, hope we strengthen next season that you have a serious competitior again, which was not the case this season

      • April 21, 2012

        The problem with relying so much on canteranos is that for every Xavi, Iniesta and Pique you get an Oleguer, Tello and Valdes. Promoting canteranos is great but someone like Tello, well there’s no way he’s ready for this level yet, maybe in the future. And that’s why you need to buy a couple of more established players.

      • April 21, 2012

        I would in no way have Valdes in that list. He is a top top goal keeper.

        Tello is too early to judge, as he is still very inexperienced. But yes, you can’t always rely on getting Messi’s out of the Cantera.

      • blitzen
        April 21, 2012

        Thank you Bassam. Valdes is brilliant. VDB may not choose him over San Iker, but he is surely ahead of Pepe Reina in the Seleccion now.

      • April 21, 2012

        Come on Bassam, I know Valdes is a world-class goalkeeper but how many errors has he made that have gifted Real Madrid goals? Whether it’s passing the ball straight to Di Maria, fumbling Pepe’s header today and not positioning himself at all for Ronaldo’s goal. He’s a top goalkeeper but in my opinion he makes too many mistakes to be good enough for Barca.

      • jordi™
        April 21, 2012

        The irony is this is the ‘most complete’ template we had in his time.Last year Villa was dead tired at this time of the year and the only replacements were bojan and jefrren.This year providing he didnt break his leg, we would have been able to interchange our forward lineup with Alexis Villa and Pedro.Instead Alexis suffered injuries, Pedro had injuries and the worse form of his career and so instead of using Cesc every other game like at the start of the season, we had to use him in every game till he burnt also out.I think the only mistake we made was not signing a defender despite knowing Abi could still require a transplant.Mentally and Emotionally this season must have been very draining for the players so its a credit they have managed to give your team a run for their money.

    • April 21, 2012

      of course it’s not the same team. three out of our top 5 attacking players (Villa/Afellay/Sanchez v Messi/Pedro) have been out for most of the year, and Pique has been out too. Abidal is gone. It’s not an apples to apples comparison.

  2. htMillBay
    April 21, 2012

    Great game.
    Congratulations to RealM. No complaints as they came to play football today.
    The one extra day of rest made a difference as it was obvious Barcelona was more tired.
    Pep rolled the dice on Tello instead of Pedro. This shows how impressed Pep is with the youngster and he is a star for the future. Sure, his inexperience showed today but he is already being exposed to the pressure.
    The Liga was not lost today. It was lost over the season.
    Having a great protagonist like RM can only make FCB greater.
    So I actually applaud Pep for rolling the dice.
    Perhaps he knew that if we lost today the players will learn that the league title is something you must fight for over the entire season not in just one game.
    The Villa injury really cost Barcelona the title. He is one of the best strikers in the world although curiously some people in this blog do not recognize it.
    On to Chelski in 3 days. Hopefully we meet RM again in the CL Final for the mother of all clasicos.
    Pedro to start. A rested Cesc will play better. Alexis will also be rested. A 3 man backline since Chelsea will obviously park the bus.
    VV, Masch, Pique, Puyol, Busi, Xaviniesta, Cesc, Pedro, Messi, Alexis. 3-5-2.

  3. nia
    April 21, 2012

    What EE did to us is exactly what happened to them in the 08/09 season when we went to the Benarbeu and won the liga in their house. IT HURTS YO’ALL. No doubt EE have been more consistant than us and their front three reminds me of Eto’o, Messi, Henry, scoring at will. The thing i hope they wont replicate is them going on to win the CL, surely they have all the momentum. I’m not gonna lie, this defeat hurts a lot and the fact of losing to a Mou EE is the worst. I think i’d have dealt better with a draw. No use pointing fingers now, gotta keep going. They would heve beat us sooner of later in the liga anyways.

    • April 21, 2012

      You have to tell me what EE is.

      • messifan
        April 21, 2012

        Evil Empire

      • April 21, 2012

        lmao, that’s funny but also extremely ironic

      • Srinivas
        April 21, 2012

        Yeah its just as ironic as calling all Barca players divers and Uefalona.

        On another note,even though you sugarcoat it,you are a troll.Well you are not someone like that other RM fan who visits us to take part in discussion even when things aren’t going RM way.Then why not reserve your comments for RM blogs where Barca bashing is considered invaluable.(Forgive me if i sound little harsh! )

      • April 22, 2012

        Srinivas, I’m not trolling. I never subscribed to the UEFAlona thing. My personal opinion is that every team has refereeing decisions go in their favour sometimes, it’s just that with Barca they’ve had the quality to take advantage of the decisions by also playing well and scoring goals. In recent seasons, we’ve had reffing decisions go in our favour sometimes but we haven’t been able to take advantage with our play to win titles.

        As for Barca players being divers, I think we saw today that both teams have plenty of divers, as do most teams in general. I didn’t come here to bash Barca, if you read my comments you’ll see that.

        As for why I never came here when things were going Barca’s way, it’s because there wouldn’t be much new to learn. Barca not winning is a rare event, so I was interested what you folks thought about matters of tactics, team selection, etc.

  4. jordi™
    April 21, 2012

    I guess its now sinking in because I’m actually starting to feel distraught :'(

    • April 21, 2012

      You shouldn’t because this was bound to happen. No team dominates forever.

  5. Humphrey Bogart
    April 21, 2012

    This Thomas Roncero is really disgusting. Does he hate and disrespect Barca players also that much when they wear La Roja? did he think Iniesta was not good enough when he scored the winning goal in WC finale? how come, that when all FCB players are so mediocre, the most players in the team playing the WC finale come from FCB?

    • culegirl3
      April 21, 2012

      I’m guessing you’ve either read his blog or watched Punto Pelota today. That’s not such a good idea Humphrey Bogart..trust me, you’re blood pressure will rise from listening to that repulsive swine stand up on his soap box and subject all listeners/readers to his idiocy.

      • Humphrey Bogart
        April 21, 2012

        it is just so unblievable. Xavi and iniesta have given everything for La Roja, Xavi even played injured in the WC and they do not get the slightest bit respect in their home country; they would be heros in Germany but are smeared and belitteled in their own country

      • Ryan
        April 21, 2012

        I would consider the adoration Iniesta receives everywhere he goes as more proof than the ramblings of some biased commentator.

  6. Humphrey Bogart
    April 21, 2012

    team might have a new look next year: we need a LB for sure, maybe even a CB ( I mean Puyi is 34, Pique?) and a striker. Excited to see what will happen in transfer season

  7. Huckleberry
    April 21, 2012

    Why everybody talk about fatigue? RM plays the same squad every game with little change. Barça has more rotation than RM. What Barça has to adress is the frequent injuries and the bad finishing. It is as if after a while all our players stop scoring and constantly pass to or wait for Messi.
    I’m not too confident for the Chelski match.

    • Humphrey Bogart
      April 21, 2012

      xavi, iniesta, puyol have played nearly 4 season every possible game: Euro, confed, WC, then they had long runs in CL and CdR every season, Messi played in CdR, it is not about that season alone but accumulation of games

      • Huckleberry
        April 21, 2012

        Barça is not the only team with such a schedule. It is no excuse. Abidal and Villa could not be replaced adaequatedly. Pep had to convert Xavi to a striker – that’s the problem.

      • Humphrey Bogart
        April 21, 2012

        sorry but Barca is the only team with such a schedule: how many players from RM are on internatinal duty for Spain in the last years and how many from FCB?

      • April 21, 2012

        I don’t think the international call-ups are as big an issue as all the club games Barca players have to play in the last few seasons.

  8. messifan
    April 21, 2012

    I don’t find our small squad to be the problem tbh. My main issue is the constant experimentation done over the course of the season. Sure, injuries and opponents looking for ways to beat Barca have forced Pep to evolve the style, but there should be an end point. And that end point should have been a month or so ago.

    IIRC, we’ve many different lineups over the course of the season. The front players have not played together consistently. One week, we have Pedro, then we have Cuenca, then Tello, or Alexis or Iniesta or Thiago or Cesc or some combinations of these players but never a true starting eleven. I’ve conceded the league title a while ago and thought then that we could test our lineups and find a starting eleven. Thus far, we haven’t found that yet. Injuries and fatigue is a problem, but if we have a template, it’d be easier to use substitutes. Right now, we have no template. 3-4-3, 4-3-3, 3-3-4, or something else? You tell me. Sure the team can interchange position in association with others, but in order to do that they need to play together consistently. Play one role well then move on to the next. To go back to comments a while ago about a communist system of having people able to do everything in theory, the reality is that it will lead to inefficiencies. Let have one role and do it well, then learn another trade.

    Anyway, the team needs to rest and regroup. On Monday, practice how to get into the box and score goals. On Tuesday, let’s win and advance 🙂

  9. April 21, 2012

    Lovely to see most of the comments here. Just reinstates why this is one of the first websites i open when i go online.

    Tough luck for the game today. Sanchez was a huge miss. Luckily, when RM went flat exhausted, so did Barcelona. It was also a clean game, which hasn’t been the case for a long time. Made me wonder why we hadn’t approached the previous games this way. One could argue this is the game that RM had the least pressure. Even if we lost, we would have been on top with 4 games to go. Still, makes you wonder.

    Tello is really fast. Gives me the feeling that he is playing for the wrong squad. He is very direct, which makes me feel like he fits in the RM set up a lot. He’s been criticized a lot, but i think that’s a tad harsh. He is very inexperienced. Needs to work on varying his tricks.

    In any case, good game. Perhaps the game that showed most that Barca needed an actual striker ala Eto in the squad. Will be interesting to see how things go in the transfer market. IF rumors of Neymar joining you guys are true, then i doubt you will have the money to spend on a Cavani like striker. But we shall see.

    Hope we meet again in Germany! Cheers!

    • Humphrey Bogart
      April 21, 2012

      do not know what to feel. many people already talking about the end of a cycle, is it that, like J. Wilson said that you can only be 3 years at the top?

      But if we must build a new team for a new cycle will pep still be there? What will happen with Xavi? His decline in last weeks is downright alarming

      • April 21, 2012

        Will those people that said that be saying the same thing if you go on to win the CL? I would bet my very small bank account on it not being the case.

        Cycles don’t die in one season. You might lose some band-wagoners, but that’s about all that you’re losing.

        As for J. Wilson, RM and Barca all took turns in winning La Liga five seasons in a row some 30 years ago. RM won the CL 5 years in a row. Still to early to determine if a cycle has ended or not.

    • providence
      April 21, 2012

      basam did u see the foul given to Pepe when alexis pushed him during the corner? how is that different from the busquets – milan penalty.
      and khedira goal how is that different from the goal ribery scored in munich which u were complaining? u see now its not aba refrees wen it comes to barca

      • April 21, 2012

        Hmmm, i never complained about the Ribery goal. Or at least i don’t remember complaining about it. As for in terms of how they were different, they were different in many ways. Not gonna talk about the ref though (I try to avoid that). I thought he was decent. Plus he seems to be our good luck charm 😀

        I also didn’t complain about the Busi call. I actually thought it was a foul. The only logical debate i would put against it was that Puyol was also grabbing Nesta, but still, a foul.

      • April 21, 2012

        Busquets got a penalty for a “foul” that occurred when the ball wasn’t even in the field of play. Khedira’s goal and Ribery’s goal were completely different. After Pepe headed the ball, Valdes handled it and only then did Khedira touch it. That negates the offside because Khedira wasn’t “involved” in the play when Pepe headed it. Once Valdes touched it, the offside call was negated. On Ribery’s goal however Luiz Gustavo was in an offside position and standing right in front of Iker, obstructing his view and thereby involved in the play. Either way, I don’t think the Ribery goal was that problematic, I didn’t find it to be that bad a call. It’s one of those calls that can go for or against you, there was no big refereeing blunder there.

  10. April 21, 2012

    Congratulations to Madrid for a well played match, one that was fortunately free from violence.

    Thought Madrid’s first 45 minutes were very good. Mourinho finally made the RM defensive block more compact. Which has been a long standing issue for them. But today their block was much denser and that made a difference.

    I’m proud of Barca and Pep. Today just shows how remarkable winning so relentlessly for so long is.

    Today’s result wasn’t about tactics. Pep’s decisions weren’t perfect-no managers are.

    But overall he was just very constrained by the availability and fitness of players.

    He just didn’t have the tools needed to make the obvious adjustments that were needed.

    Regarding the starting line up – Pep has repeatedly spoken to how important Sanchez is to the team. If here was any way Pep could safely have him in the line up he would have.

    This was particularly unfortunate as Sanchez was exactly the player needed to stretch the field vertically with what RM were trying to do. Pep made the right choice in playing Tello especially given that system of defense.

    That was a move that worked well tactically – Tello got behind the defense several times. But he’s just so young the moment got to him at times – most notably that shot he ballooned. There wasn’t a great deal to do about it.

    Pep could have used Pedro – but Pedro has struggled in the past vs. physical defenders like Arbeloa and hasn’t been on good form. Tello’s pace was a useful way of trying to beat RM’s backline, especially given how compact they were the first half while playing their block in the middle of the pitch.

    Xavi is clearly hurt. He’s not moving well. Not sharp. That had a major impact on this match, just as it did vs Chelsea.

    Dani-he’s a wonderful footballer. But RW clearly isn’t his optimal position. He’s better coming from deeper with more space to run into.

    Barca has also tested the limits of how short a team can be. Without Pique and Abidal they just don’t have enough height. Given how long it’s been since Pique’s played using him this match was obviously a real risk and he still in fact may not be fully match fit.

    On that corner much is being made of Puyol’s clearance and VV coming off his line. Both problems obviously. But the play broke down before that.

    It was difficult to watch Pepe tower over Adriano on that corner to head down that ball. That’s exactly what the zone defense was designed to stop on corner. And the defensive player was positioned correctly. he was just too short & not strong enough.

    Under earlier circumstances – it would have been Abidal playing where Adriano was – and that goal would have never scored.

    Again all of these things are just obvious. There was no mystery here. I’m sure Pep anticipated their possibility and saw them in the match.

    He just didn’t have the tools to create answers.

    • just listenin
      April 21, 2012

      And there you have it… In a proverbial nutshell
      Thanks Euler

    • Huckleberry
      April 21, 2012

      But why did Pep not ask for some tools in defence? There was no unpredictable absense in the defense.

      • Humphrey Bogart
        April 21, 2012

        I would say what happened to Abi might not have been so predictable, also the many small injuries to Pique and his overall lack of form could not be foreseen

      • Huckleberry
        April 21, 2012

        we did not know, but Pep knew. the more astonishing it is, that Pep sold Maxwell…

    • April 21, 2012

      This!

    • Srinivas
      April 21, 2012

      Hi Euler,as a long time lurker of this blog,i want to thank you for all your great works. My only complaint is that you should me doing more posts! Pardon my ignorance but didn’t Sanchez was making lateral runs in the away clasico to occupy their CB’s laterally? How his today’s role differ from that? Also what do you think of thiago’s performance? I think he had a stellar second half making lot of dribble,and a great pass to Tello.Thanks

    • Messiah10
      April 21, 2012

      What he said. Pefect. Tello’s youth showed. Height is an issue. No 2 ways about it. It was difficult to watch the 1st leg vs. Chelski. Almost every corner we didn’t get a head on the ball.

    • Chiu
      April 22, 2012

      +1 person like this

  11. providence
    April 21, 2012

    In victory and in defeat. Barça have given us Culés so much that all we can really feel is gratitude. There are highs and lows, they are part of the beautiful game. The defeats make the victories all the sweeter. ♥ 🙂 we love u Barca!!! mes que un club!!!

  12. Flippy
    April 21, 2012

    If I were Pep in the next few league games, I would start without Messi, just to show the team that they have to be able to win games and score goals without Messi saving our asses. Sometimes I feel like this team is getting complacent and relies too much on our little flea to create magic. Where are the days where we had players like Henry and Eto’o combining with Messi to create the most unstoppable trident there is? We have no wide threat. Alves never got a good cross in from the right (and even if he did sometimes, no one would be there, because we have no striker), nor was he able to beat Coentrao. Tello lost the ball everytime he took Arbeloa on, and the chances he did have he squandered with poor finishing and a lack of a left foot. If we had more threatening forwards, we would also have more control over the game, as Madrid’s defense would have to be more concerned on dealing with the threat of the attacking players than on stifling the play on the midfielders. The reason why we lost this game is that we could not attack, and that cost us.

    • Humphrey Bogart
      April 21, 2012

      I hardly believe that was what pep wanted, but the injuries to Villa, Alexis and pedro did reduce his options to a large degree

  13. Ryan
    April 21, 2012

    Interesting how the knives are immediately out for Valdes as soon as we don’t win the league. The guy has been absolutely massive for the team over the last 4 years and I hope he stays with us for years to come! (and he’s likely to get the Zamora this year anyway)

    • Humphrey Bogart
      April 21, 2012

      no knives from me, but he surely did not cover himself in glory in this game and against Chelsea

    • nia
      April 21, 2012

      I don’t blame VV, although he has been playing poorly for the past few weeks. In fact, i don’t blame anyone but fatigue and throw in a bit of bad luck. We’ve hit the cross bars, posts and missed sitters and it can happen to the best of them and missing our best players for most of the season through injury, it was a miracle that we were still in all 3 competitions and then throw in the Fifa factor, our guys are tired.
      Would it be wrong to wish Spain gets knocked out early of the Euro’s so our guys can get a rest? Actually, that might not matter now since RM are world beaters, Del Bosque will probably pick more RM players form now on. (I know, Iknow, i’m being a sore loser)

      • Ryan
        April 21, 2012

        He can’t choose from half the team though, unless he starts coaching the other Iberian NT. 😛

    • Messiah10
      April 21, 2012

      VV can play the ball out of the back better and with more confidence than any keeper in the world. Did he make a mistake? Yes. So what. Every keeper does. That’s why their keepers and not positional players. I’ll take VV any day of the week and any big game.

      • April 22, 2012

        You’re right.. as someone else pointed out to me, sure Barca could get a Neuer or someone who might be a better shot-stopper but isn’t as good at passing and the possession game. It’s a point that rings true. I’m curious about the young goalkeepers in La Masia, is there any keeper coming up that looks like first-team material for the future?

  14. Huckleberry
    April 21, 2012

    it just starts to get normal. Philosphies as Barça’s are not meant to win anything…

  15. Wind170
    April 21, 2012

    1. Lose the 1st half though, not quite sure what happens there.
    2. But the results and the stats pinpoints a few important area to be noted.
    3. You can play with ‘2 cpu’ in the advanced midfield, like the Italy under the manager who seems to be unemployed at the moment. However, if Xavi is one of them. An advantage of this measure is you increase the distributive power. However, it is better for some fresher legs to run that role, 1 with more speed and if better a more attacking mind & goal scoring ability. Coz, when in defend, the ‘2cpu’/1 of them can track back in time. If you see how the in-form Pirlo plays(AC Milan), you know that the role of Xavi has to change(instead of playing him like a forward), he doesn’t have the legs to run this role. Else it would put greater burden in defense.
    5. WF are extremely important for how Barca plays nowadays. It is questionable to put an attacking midfielder there all the time. They also have to able to put a cross(not necess a high one), or a splitting pass from there, not only from the middle of the pitch.
    6.
    No doubt, with the fluid formation or ‘formation-less’ formation they adopt, with the emphasis in transition time.
    And that is THE KEY to allow optimal expression of freedom ESP. in offensive style of play & transit from defense and offense.
    Huge demand are required from defenders. Puyol, Masch, even Pique are NOT fast enough defenders for high level opponents. Exp,tech,height for defenders is essential but also speed. Without that, you cannot optimal the advantage of this formation. You may say time is brutal, if you like .

    Defenders have to be invested in. That’s why it’s so vulnerable in opposition’s counter-attack. That’s why if you have some player from the midfield to transit to defense,e.g. Xavi. The problem exists,e.g. when he is on the wide right. Problems are not corrected when ‘disasters’ occur. If you can anticipate it, correct them before they occur.[~ with the Rjkard defense, Van Brt[/Zamb]]. Not indicating the slow defenders have to be all gone. But investment in new defenders and blood in some youngsters are important.

    If the 3 CBs are slow[e.g.Abidal, Puyol and Pique], problems may occur, e.g. Pato’s goal vs AC Milan.[Forgive me if the defenders are not them], but they are just for illustration.

    7. That’s one of the reasons why the conversion ratio of opponents are high if they are clinical in front of goals[e.g. insert today’s one]. True, you may say RM play a good match, but MORE to say, it’s Barca LOSE the match by THEMSELVES majority. That hurts (for some of you), I apologize. Both Barca & RM produce the SAME number of goal attempts. And the on target by Barca was even LOWER. YET they have 70%+ possession. It’s better to trade a little % off for the goal-attempt. It’s simple(clinche), If you don’t shoot, you don’t score.
    Even it don’t go in, at LEAST you try.

    8. Certain players in the current team have the ability to dribble or speed past defenders. They are seldomly seen. AFRAID to HURT the possession statistics?!!. Get more into box, long range shooting is less useful. You can be dispossesed sometimes(coz), but once inside the box, attackers have the advantage…That generates goal scoring opport / attract fouls. One cannot say it is cheating, no one tell defenders to kick at the legs. That’s why yellow/RED cards occur. That’s why butchers esp the one Starts with ‘P’ should be handed heavy suspensions previously. Don’t want to use that word, but it is fact. Winning is important, but win with grace. They are wicked, but are not intelligent in the long run. But are this the reason for not to dribble? injury can happens weirdly(considering Villa’s injury)

    8. Sure, it is a must-win match. But prompt X = to rush. It’s ridiculous to see Barca players put in so many long balls in the last 20+ min starting from the mid or back(often rush the play also).
    Considering the height of the players/or their ‘DNA’, hardly there will be benefits. They are too PANIC, no composure as someone said.
    That

    9. Not sure if he want to rest players despite indicating the importance of this match(Thiago instead of forward). There are too many midfielders but too few forwards. But when you see RM, their basic attacking tools are there. Only KaKa is left out, which is often the case.

    10. Astonishing to see ppl insulting players by calling f-word to some players when they did not a have a glaring performance.
    e.g. Fabregas’s play not good last match, sure. This match he is benched. Now some ppl wants him back. What is the rationale behind this?!!. Sure, he needs to link up more with others,track more if he is on the wing/ or being played there & have extra shooting practice(a NECESS), perhaps more dribbing practice as well. But you can’t deny that there is sthg special when he plays with Messi(partly due to their partnership in the youth ranks as sbody mentioned). He offers sthg that no other players can give because he has played in a different league before. That’s why Marcelo wants to ‘butcher’ him in THAT match. Directless X mean necess playing long balls. It’s just playing the ball faster(x rush)& closer to goal instead of circulating it madly X the end prdt. That’s why Sanchez, Affellay, Fabregas are useful in these circumstance.

    That’s the idea of fluid formation.
    To maximize the offense/defense ability but at the same time you have to have & USE the players to do it.
    You add a spice/ [any special flavor] into the soup, that’s totally different. It’s X-dimension. [3,4 or even more], Barca are good to have a strength in skillful [ftbal/sr], but the extra ‘spice’ will give the edge. It makes team difficult to defend/offend.
    That’s the counter to esp highly disciplined team/physical team.

    If you have it, you don’t use it. You cannot blame the others.
    You may say it is an ideological conflicts(in sports or even in the way you think & act in life). Don’t stick to the past. For most of the things expt1: gone is gone. One often see them did not use both wings effectively. One can get away with it sometimes, but not in top level matches. The evolving or metaphorphesis process has to continue. Xavi’s comment is partly true, the philosophy of the club has not changed. Attacking, but strictly speaking. It has changed. This season’s formation & even the tactics has changed. Cirumstances partly force it, True, injuries. But it is for the good. I am not cursing it. They force the ‘evolution’. Not sure whether his mentality affects the play sometimes Barca play when the play are extremely concentrated in the middle when the middle is already packed. hope not. The changes of’evolution’ will be beneficial one day. One will see. hopefully.

    10. The Barca manager is a rare one. One cannot see any managers in history willing to make changes as required for so many times in the past. Usually managers stick to their preferred formation even putting players out of their natural position(despite they cannot play the new postion well) because they are afraid to take the consequences in case of failures. Nowadays, managers are the one to be blamed & fired instantly in case of failures without even investigating the reasons clearly. That’s a depressing trend.
    That’s why he hasn’t signed the DOCUMENT yet. One has to note, DIGNITY is a very essential to human. You can’t blame him.

    11. However, it’s hard to find another daring one like him again. That’s why Alex Fergurson(Man Utd’s manager) want him to succeed his job. It’s an honorable compliment/praise considering the track records of A.F. It’s hard to find someone who are willing to spend more time studying formations & try/modify & app them nowadays. Even in other fields, these ppl are top class. ~ good girls or boys are waiting for good partners(They do not have to worry for it). But for them, it will be a major blow & his modern day sports.

    Because it takes time to build a great team & build on a purest form of philosophy, and to have the most pure playing style, learn, modify, apply & change, repeat the whole process again… You can enjoy it as an ‘Art’ if you like. But the basis is the scientific principles, that is more subtle and take more effort than usual. That’s when innovations take place. It’s good to have such thing coz nowadays in many fields/industries, in many places, ‘fast results’ are the ultimate aim, things can turn pretty ugly(no typo,chk).

    The clash of concepts app will continue, let’s hope the purest form prevail. But 1st they have to evolve(not dwelling/sticking to the past). Good to see Xavi’s facial expression when being subbed. He just need to be calm & sit down for clear,deep thoughts. Classy player but still need to change.The house or triangles can be shifted around not only in the middle. However, playing with more mobile ‘rivers’ together with forwards more early on may be necess considering the circumstances which are ~ in the next big & possibly season-deciding one. Considering the risks, yep there are considering the defenders they have atm. They have to cover for one another more quickly.Hope they will be fired up. If they want to qualify, they should always in composed mode/Not panic/[Use obj mind to control your subj mind]. Attack well(score!) & defend well as a unit. Conflict with JM’s or some other ppl’s ideas app will continue. But Barca esp Messi really have sthg to prove. haven’t seen that kind of fire in them recently. Hope the fire reignites & glow, not spark.

    [note: It’s just my thoughts, you can ignore them if you like or feel offended]

    • Ryan
      April 21, 2012

      I’m not following when you say that Abidal is a slow defender. He’s probably the fastest player on the team besides Tello!

  16. Humphrey Bogart
    April 21, 2012

    Did see an interesting article on Tweeter focusing on Barca’s problem with squad depth. One fact was frightening: Messi has played in the last 4 seasons more than 50 matches a season, the last 5 more than 40; there is a real danger he will be burned out sooner than later, he already looked very off the boil lately. I do not care if he wants to play, the club must take measures to protect it’s most valuable asset

  17. messifan
    April 21, 2012

    Well, words around twitter/Spain is that Pep was not happy with the lineup leak to radio Marca a few hours before the match.

    What’s going on at Barcelona? First, the footage Xavi’s off the record comment to the club channel after the clasico CdR and now this leak too.

  18. mega_tajh
    April 21, 2012

    Well now that we lost I’m really interested in any articles focusing on improving Barca than those detailing on how to stop us. If anyone has any please link them. One thing for sure is that we need new players next season, LB, CB and maybe a forward don’t have to be big names but capable players who can add to the team.

    Personally I wouldn’t mind seeing Jordi Alba but this guy named Fuchis from Schalke has really impressed me whenever I watched his games. CB is up in the air but maybe Muniesa will have a bigger impact on the team than we may know, him with Montoya should be promoted. Hopefully Villa comes back stronger and with the Euros we should get him back in full fitness and ready to go. Villa-Messi-Alexis frontline would’ve been enough goals to get us through this season.

  19. April 21, 2012

    Firstly – congratulations to Madrid. Nice, clean game and a deserved victory. That Ozil pass was sweet. The CR celebration was kinda badass too as much as I dislike to say it… If a Barca player did it, I’d replay it a couple of times.

    Secondly – congrats to Barca for pushing RM this far. Couldn’t be more proud. I love how the first thing Pep and the players do is congratulate RM for their victory. Humble in both victory and defeat. Couldn’t be better as fans.

    Thank you to all cules here for their graciousness in defeat as well! Visca BFB!

    I echo Euler’s sentiment that today wasn’t about tactics. It was about execution.

    Seeing Xavi playing through pain and being so ineffective was difficult to watch. Injuries, surgeries, fatigue, new additions and formations… The core of the squad has been playing non-stop for years.

    Add bad preseason, playing almost all possible games three out of four years and something’s gotta give.

    The squad was the most balanced we’ve had in Pep’s reign. Cesc, Alexis, Afellay, Thiago IN – Bojan, Jeffren OUT. You can’t play knowing Villa’s broken leg would happen (he played through a cracked shinbone towards the end of last season though) or Afellay’s ACL or the recurrent hamstring injuries…

    But Barca adapted, as all great team should. Saying it’s an ‘end of of an era’ because we’re not dominating as much is short sighted. It’s to be expected we wouldn’t do as well with a depleted and tiring squad. Was it the end of the era, after we lost to Inter? Was it the end of an era when we lost the CdR.

    I think it’s good for both players and fans to realize that losing is natural. You literally can’t win them all.

    The first half of the season – we had no forwards. The second half of the season – basically no defenders. Pep’s been making adjustments + changes based on these injuries (i.e. necessity).

    The dominate Barca from Wembley came after we sealed the Liga and had time to rest. We don’t have that luxury this season.

    I’ve always seen this season as the ‘transitional’ season. When Alexis, Cesc, Thiago have a season under their belts, we get our long term injuried players back, and while the Euros will prevent much of our squad from adequately resting, our preseaon stays in Europe this time.

    The soul searching is inevitable but just relax a bit. It was a good game and even if we won it, we’d still be a point behind.

    We have another final against Chelsea; I don’t know if we’ll score the goals we need to win, but the max effort will be there.

    Good enough for me.

  20. lyd
    April 21, 2012

    Just hope Abidal’s doctors prevented him from watching this.

    Its not mathematically over yet, but goodbye la liga for now. It was an honor to possess you for 3 years straight. Hopefully Ramos wont break the trophy this time! Kudos to a starved Real Madrid side for being consistent and lets see if they can keep it up next season. They actually tried to play football tonight, i felt, instead of the usual rugby under Jose.

    We lost, twice in a week, but we lost with style, staying true to the philosophy. As a fan, i would rather see this Barca team lose with grace than win by being defensive and counter attacking .

    Visca Barca! Now lets entertain Chelsea!

  21. Anonymous_69
    April 21, 2012

    People talk about end of an era stuff as if it’s this insurmountable and inevitable force that will somehow take away our quality, and there’s nothing we can do about it… That’s bull crap.

    Pep obviously has some work to do this summer, but with the right signings and preparation, the high level of our play will be retained – nay, improved!

    We have 50M for transfers this summer. Plus money from the Ibra sale, Caceres going to Juventus, Riverola sale, Keirrison and Henrique sales, I think it will be about 60M (if we’re lucky). In order to make the transfers necessary to get this team ready, I think we need a bit more than that.

    Unfortunately, there isn’t anyone else we can sell. Unless Villa and Afellay have fantastic individual campaigns at the Euros, we won’t get much money for them. We might be able to get some for Keita however.

    Really, what we need is a LB, CB, and, obviously, a striker. At LB, the obvious choice is Alba. There are also some other talented LBs out there for cheaper (Alba will be around 15M). A better option, in my opinion, would be to move Afellay to LB. Afellay doesn’t have a place in the squad otherwise, and really all we need is a sub for Adriano. Afellay and Adriano can exchange the LB spot for a few years (they way Marcelo and Coentrao do) until a better option arises (or maybe Afellay will become a great LB, who knows?).

    Saving money on a LB, we have to spend our money on a good CB and Striker. Rumours that we are negotiating for Thiago Silva are not true, but if we could get him for less than 35M, he would be fantastic. Javi Martinez is also fantastic, but he might be even more than 35M. Don’t really know of any other CBs that would be good for Barcelona. Hummels and Subotic aren’t realistic options for me. Pep isn’t interested in Botia. Muniesa will be promoted, but we need a world class CB to go along with that… Anyways, does anyone know what happened to Coates at Liverpool? He was supposed to be something special, but I don’t think he’s played much.

    As for Strikers, I think are options are Llorente, Cavani, Van Persie, and surprisingly, Leandro Damiao (we’ve been linked with him a bit). We shouldn’t be looking for another winger, second striker, attacking midfielder, ANYTHING LIKE THAT! We need a 9. Preferably one big and strong enough to lead the line. Damiao isn’t quite good enough yet. Either Cavani and Llorente would be brilliant transfers. Llorente is older, but Cavani is more expensive. They’re different players, each of them would offer something different.

    Based purely on what they would add currently, and forgetting age and price, I’d take Llorente. He would have an easier time adapting, and I think overall we require his skill set a bit more. And I still question Cavani’s build-up play…

    Van Persie is a different type of striker. He is more adapted to be a second striker, even a winger. He’s not as physically imposing and direct as Cavani and Llorente. Although he has played as a 9 this season, and in Spain he would be more than physically strong enough to lead our line. But still for those mentioned reasons, he’s my least favourite option. His skill set is the least required. He also has a crappy personality, is older, and is super injury prone (not this season though). However, he might be the only affordable option, and overall you have to say he is probably the most talented and highest quality out of the said options.

    So, my perfect scenario, if our transfer budget is around 60M: move Afellay to LB to sub for Adriano. Free. Buy Llorente. 40M. Sell Keita (even though he is awesome and extremely underrated). 10-12M. That would leave just about 30M left. I would bid that, along with a player from the B team, for Thiago Silva. Probably Jonathan Dos Santos. I know that doesn’t sound great, but Milan could really use a player like JDS and he would do well there. And although I like him a lot as a player, I don’t think he will be given his fair chance at Barca. If we succeed in getting another Striker, Cesc will be permanently moved to midfield. And although JDS is arguably a more talented CM than Cesc, Fabregas will surely be given all of next season to adapt to any midfield role is good for him. Besides, with Busquets slowly taking over the role of distribution and circulation to go along with his DM duties, a deep-lying CM like JDS might become redundant. And you can tell Pep already prefers to use Sergi Roberto’s qualities.

    60M to start with. Sell Keita for 10M. 70M. 40M for Llorente/Cavani. 30M + JDS for Thiago Silva (or another world class CB that might be available, although I don’t know any).

    Valdes (Pinto/Oier)
    Alves (Montoya) – Pique/Masch – Silva/Puyol (Muniesa) – Adriano/Afellay (Muniesa)
    Xavi/Thiago – Busquets (Muniesa, Masch, Thiago) – Iniesta (Cesc)
    Messi (Cuenca)
    Sanchez (Pedro) – Llorente/Villa

    I list Messi behind the two strikers because that’s what I assume the formation will be, with Messi more of a number 10 behind two striker (not wingers). I list Cuenca as his sub because I assume that when Messi isn’t playing, we’ll go back to a flat 3 attack in a 4-3-3. If we get an offer of over 25M for Villa, sell him and promote Tello. If not, keep Tello another year in the B team.

    • April 21, 2012

      Afellay at left-back? Not too sure about that

      • Anonymous_69
        April 21, 2012

        Afellay really doesn’t have any other chance of becoming an important player in this squad. He’s not a great winger, but he can become a good fullback. Besides having the physical qualities (very fast like Tello, pretty tall for a Barca player, doesn’t get knocked around easily), he is also double-footed (will help him adapt to left role), has always been solid defensively, and has the creativity (good vision and good crossing) to play as a fullback. Also, I feel as if playing as a wingback would help get the best out of his qualities. He can play as a winger in a counter attacking team because he has lots of space. He struggles in really closed space. As a fullback, he would have a lot of that space to run into, and he can facilitate counter attacks. Also, when given space, he is actually a very good dribbler. Once he adapts to the tactics of the role, I can see him battling, and very well winning, the LB role over Adriano.

        Another option is Tello, although I feel he is too talented an attacker to play as a fullback.

      • April 22, 2012

        Interesting. I haven’t seen a lot of Afellay, didn’t know that he was double-footed and a defensively solid player. Agree about Tello, he’s still very raw and his inexperience showed today, but he has the core qualities of an attacker and would be wasted at fullback.

    • mega_tajh
      April 21, 2012

      Afellay I see sadly leaving us this summer. Keita will stay we need quality depth not unexperienced youth players just to fill numbers. JDS I see coming in to play a part, Villa is here to stay at least 2 more seasons.

      A LB and CB are a must along with whatever affordable striker we can grab. Rvp will be the cheapest since I believe he has 1 year on his contract but if we are seriously interested in Neymar then no attacking player will come in till 2013.

    • messifan
      April 21, 2012

      Great post!

      Re. LB: I only saw David Alaba played once against RM on Tuesday, and he really did well. He’s 19 years old but he has the height, pace, strength and composure. Not sure if Bayern wants to sell him or what his asking price is?
      Also, I watched a friendly between Germany and France a few months ago, and it seemed that France has some good local players in the NT. I’m wondering if there are any good defenders in France. A few French players seem to do really well in the EPL. Maybe Barca scouts can look there.

      Re. Coates: Tim Vickery, BBC SA Correspondence, said Liverpool bought him for the future.

      I think we have enough midfielders and for me, this season has confirmed that a team of midfielders does not work. We need some specialists. But I don’t know if Llorente is the type of player we need. I’ve never been impressed with him (watch him mostly with Spain). And then, there’s Neymar. Rosell seems so adamant on getting him and most likely, he’ll be at Barca in a few years. Should Pep take that into consideration when planning the team next year? AND will Pep stay?

      If Villa has a good Euros i.e. scoring a few goals, then we should keep him. I think he still has much to contribute. And dressing room dynamic is almost as important as on-field performance. It really pains me to say this, but do we need Pedro?

      • Anonymous_69
        April 21, 2012

        I like Alaba, but Bayern Munich won’t sell. France always seems to be producing good left backs, don’t they? :). I’m a fan of Alba, but I don’t think we should shell out the 15-20M for him. Afellay and Adriano, with Muniesa filling in sometimes, is enough cover for LB.

        However, with Abidal, we are used to having a defensive LB, who forms a back three with two CBs when Alves bombs forward, and Busquets cover as DM. That doesn’t look like it will happen again, as I can’t find any LBs in the world with Abidal’s qualities. So we’ll have to play with two wingbacks.

        Usually when teams do this, they play a double pivot, so that one DM drops to CB, and the other DM covers. We won’t do that, so we have to be careful, and Busquets has to become even better than he already is. Good thing is, there is no better player in the world when it comes to knowing how to switch between CB and DM. He seems to play both positions at the same time.

        However, when he does drop to CB, it forces Xavi to drop to cover. And, as everyone has noted, Xavi is really struggling with injuries and exhaustion. Not to mention he isn’t young, and can’t constantly be covering as a DM, then sprinting up the field during a counter. Thiago can do this though. Thiago already plays very similarly to Busquets (which is why he can play DM), and he and Busquets can form a very dynamic duo, switching between AM and DM seamlessly during matches (shout out to Ramzi who told me about this idea – follow him @footballmood).

        At this point in time, Neymar is really not needed. He’s certainly talented, but his career might still go up or down. There’s no need to risk spending 45M on a player who might turn into Robinho, when we already have his position covered. I agree that Villa still has a lot to offer (if used correctly, as a second striker IN FRONT of Messi, beside the CF). But as much as people don’t like to admit it, not only do we have to buy responsibly, we have to sell responsibly. A 25M offer for Villa might be too good to resist, especially if Tello makes the next step during the summer and improves his end product.

        I agree that Llorente has never really starred for Spain. Although to be fair, he doesn’t get many decent chances. I think he surely must be a starter at the Euros, as in my opinion, he is right up there with Zlatan and Van Persie as the best striker in the world. He plays brilliantly for Bielsa’s Athletic Bilbao, which player a style similar to Barcelona’s (yes, it’s more direct, but that’s because Barcelona is WAY too indirect).

        I’ve also thought about selling Pedro, but I don’t think it’ll happen. Although if we were to sell him, now would be as good a time as any. People outside of Spain still have this image of him as a 20 goals a season forward who is a brilliant finisher and never stops running. Nobody has really taken a look at his form, and with luck, we can get quite a bit of money for him. Although unless Tello is promoted, we can keep him.

  22. Chiu
    April 21, 2012

    Congratulations for Real Madrid FC. It’s highly possibly just a matter of time before they’re crowned La Liga champion. A deserved winner with stellar performance and consistency throughout the season. Once again, Congratulations!

    Will comment about Barca later. Meantime, Visca BARCA!

    PS: All bandwagoners can jump off to white car now.

    • BarcaOwl
      April 21, 2012

      Heh, Chiu, I can see that happening like the scene where the little car stops and clowns spill out when you open the door.

  23. andrecito
    April 21, 2012

    awesome comments everyone…so, am i just over-exaggerating this in my mind, or was iniesta’s pass on the lead-up to the goal the greatest pass of all time, or what?

    • hansh
      April 21, 2012

      That pass was absolute art. No idea how it worked!

  24. mom4
    April 21, 2012

    Does anyone else feel just a hint of relief? Am I a bad cule for feeling that now I can enjoy the team/club and not have to obsess over success? Deep breath and now onto the CL semi and CdR final. No need to hold back for those competitions anymore. There’s disappointment but so much pressure is gone. I’ll run away and hide now.

    • mom4
      April 21, 2012

      Not that I’m happy we lost but a silver lining in the dark cloud thing.

      • Anonymous_69
        April 21, 2012

        Feel the same way. It’s like a weight’s been lifted. Also, there are some positives: We didn’t lose La Liga because of any single, tiny mistake. Madrid deservedly won it, comprehensibly so. This forces us (Pep Guardiola) to address some long-standing problems in the team, force us to make changes in the system that should have been made long ago, but no one ever thought necessary, because we were winning. “Why fix it if it ain’t broke?” How about, “Why wait until it’s broken to fix it?” Hopefully we’ll finally get a striker.

  25. Megster
    April 21, 2012

    I really feel sad but that’s life. You can’t always get what you want.

    Now on to CL and CdR. Viscaaa!!!

  26. Skipper5
    April 21, 2012

    idk if i agree that Pep made selection mistakes, after chelsea (and milan) we clamoured for width and now in Tello he gave us width and we still are’nt satisfied. Pep made the ryt decision to play Tello who, as Pep thought, got into excellent goalscoring positions but what Pep didnt see is Tello misfiring like that.That said, RM were very good value for the win.

    • Messiah10
      April 22, 2012

      Nice!

  27. Dave
    April 22, 2012

    Excellent posts from Anonymous ETC

    I think Pep has gone too far to alter the style. In 08-09, the style might have been similar but the personal was different. We had the option to go direct with Eto and Henry.

    Also the physicality and athleticism has been reduced- note the departure of the above 2 and Yaya.

    We HAVE NO OTHER OPTIONS.

    As mentioned above, we need a similar lb to Abidal-tall, fast,and solid in defence, who can also sweep if required.

    A world class cb. Silva etc

    A combative Mf- e.g Capoue

    A no 9. Tall, energetic and a finisher.

    Messi back to the rw for some games should also be an option.

    It is correct to note that poor away form and injuries have cost us but what we saw yesterday was a breakdown in tactics and positioning.

    There has been too much freedom given in attack, for example Messi dropping deep and no one to play the ball to up front.

    In
    lb similar to abidal

    cb Silva.

    CM similar to Keita

    CF- proven goalscorer

    DIRECTNESS

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