Spanish SuperCopa Leg 1: Barca 3, Them 2, aka “Dung occurreth.”

“Yo, homie! What’s up with that! Focus!”

Leg 1, of what is a trophy that wouldn’t make anyone that giddy were it not for the opponent — handy when you’re ginning up phrases such as “Year of the Six Cups,” but in reality it’s a matchup that always, always comes too soon to see anyone playing anything approximating their best football.

And yet, here we are, on a piping hot day at the Camp Nou that saw the match kick off in temperatures of 32C/90F, against an opponent that is of value predominantly as a barometer, though not really, because we didn’t really play like we would have played, because we have a match on the weekend that points toward the bigger fish that we want to fry. Mou Mou said he’d trade the SuperCopa for the Liga, and even if Vilanova didn’t say it, you know he feels the same way.

So. Rather than the new, aggressive, vertical FCB with all sides of the pitch open, we saw a shadow of the past — good in many ways — that turned what should have been a comfortable win into something a bit more fraught. Because that’s life, and that’s football during a match in which Osatuna and Getafe had as much say in how the proceedings went as anything else, a match which, last time I checked, we won. There is more handwringing over this win, than the Gamper loss. That was also for silver, need anyone be reminded of that. And silver named after the founding father of FC Barcelona. Jeez ….

And let’s begin at the beginning, with the crux of the matter:

Everybody screws up. It is, frankly, a wonder that goal keepers, like field goal kickers, don’t just sit in the corner, drooling and gibbering about imaginary beings, when they aren’t doing what they do. Because rare is the profession in which mistakes are magnified. A striker can have a bad match, and life can go on. If a kicker or keeper screws the pooch, it could mean the end of the season, a loss or in this case, a win that wasn’t as comfortable as it should have been.

Again, dung occurreth. An easy pass back to Valdes resulted in our keeper deciding “Hey, I’m going to be all fancy, and play this out with my feet.” A too-heavy touch allowed the ball to fall to the feet of a lightly pressing, opportunistic Dive Maria, who pounced, outdueling Valdes to generate a second, and immensely valuable, away goal for them. 3-1 is a lot different than 3-2, make no mistake about it.

But when Vilanova rolled out with a lineup of Valdes, Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Messi, Pedro and Sanchez, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I liked the aggressiveness of the attack, but I found myself already assuming that the left side was going to be closed for business, which it was. Adriano is a very different kind of left back than Alba, less integrative and more fond of the slashing solo runs, rather than the knit-together kind of play that Alba brings. So we became a center/right focused team, which allowed them to do what they do, which in our house, is to allow nothing to happen, and foul anybody who dares enter the 18-yard box with malign intent.

We made that task infinitely more simple by displaying precious little movement off the ball, attacking flair or anything that created real danger. Sanchez was last seen on a milk carton, Messi was sashaying about, occasionally venturing forward on a run that played directly into the hands of their defense and from time to time we’d turn the ball over in midfield, which resulted in a counter for them that more often than it should have, resulted in a set piece.

So as everybody gets all aggro on Valdes, it’s worth noting that when a team doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of beating you in open play, set pieces should be something to which a defense is preternaturally alert. And yet we kept giving them up, so when desultory marking resulted in a Wrongaldo header that left Valdes not a chance to do anything except pick it out of the back of the net, who was surprised, really? It was classic smash-and-grab footy of the type that saw us fall to Chelsea last season. Yes, we “won” the possession battle, and controlled play, and created semi-would-have-been-chances-against-Gijon. And it was all so pointless, because that cutting edge was absent, for so many reasons, but more importantly:

–It’s still effectively pre-season
–A Sunday trip to Pamplona awaits, a place in which, last year, we got our butts handed to us

But boy, was that action-packed second half surprising for those of us (pretty much everyone, I’d reckon) who expected more of the same. Their goal came off the aforementioned set piece. And less than a minute later, a jaw-dropping long pass from Mascherano found Pedro in stride. He took, controlled and fluidly rounded Coentrao to slash it past Casillas. Suddenly, two goals in the span of a minute, and there was more to come as we seemed to wake up. More importantly, Iniesta donned his cloak of visibility, and went hog wild, earning a penalty with an otherworldly move that suckered Ramos into a clumsy challenge, then he danced through their defense to slot a flawless ball to Xavi, that he slammed home for a 3-1 lead. All over but the shouting, until Valdes decided that he wanted to make things interesting in that second leg. Which happens.

We didn’t see their best, just as they didn’t see our best, which is one reason why I believe that El Clasic should be reserved for Liga encounters, rather than these pre-season things, or Champions League thing. To call every encounter, even when the two teams pass each other on the Metro El Clasic, diminishes the import of the name. Humorously, I suggested calling these early-season times something such as …. Jerome. Or maybe just the SuperCopa, which is what it in fact is. Imagine that.

There also wasn’t much to be gleaned from this one as regards tactics, because each team makes the other play differently. They turned turtle, we altered our usual style. Even their incessant fouling lacked a bit of verve, unsubtle rugby basics rather than the elevated art of thuggery in which they have been so fond. And even this last point was something of a regression, as last season saw them coming at us like something approaching equals, a rival to be played rather than a better team to be hampered.

What’s going to happen next week? Who knows, because both teams will be coming off weekend matches, with another weekend’s matches to look forward to. So it’s very doubtful that the mid-week encounter will be the all-out, enthralling affair that so many have come to expect from Big Two matchups. But we will watch, because that’s what we do, and we will gather here to discuss, in its aftermath, what it all means. But now as then, the answer will be nothing. Because hamstringing Liga chances, even this early in a season, would make the SuperCopa silver fool’s gold.

Which leaves us with the task of assessing how everyone did. Again, it’s pre-season, so it really is hard to tell, but you can look at this match as a micro-event, and make evaluations. So let’s go.

Valdes: A very good match, until The Howler. Strong in the box, seems more communicative this season. Still a little bit reckless on the charges and punch aways, but showed why he is a fine sweeper keeper, even as he evinced the kind of reckless stupidity that make people ride him like a rented Catalan mule.

Alves: Arguably the inclusion of Adriano freed up Alves to maraud, which shows how much respect we have for the attacking abilities of Coentrao. Very solid match, even if he seemed over-wound for this one. Caught out of position a few times, which is to be expected this early in the season.

Pique: Lord today, Piquenbauer is back, with a return to the excellent form that made him a no-brainer inclusion in the starting XI. Speed, aggression, stops, dude even played left winger for a bit. Not sure whether he will go on walkabout at some point, but I can’t recall a single match last season in which he played as well as he did today.

Mascherano: Stalwart, inevitable, and boy, howdy, did he warm my heart when he roared over and took out Coentrao after a series of ridiculous challenges from them. And That Pass. Shades of Rafa Marquez with that one. Smasch understands the game in ways that is rare for CBs, probably owing to his role farther up the pitch, as with Puyol. He knows where the ball is going to be, which is vastly more important than where it is, as Pique will learn.

Adriano: Now does everyone see why we bought Jordi Alba? It isn’t that Adriano isn’t a fine substitute. It’s that he isn’t a locked-down starter. He still roams, and isn’t quite sure where he wants to be, which means that his absences are often an impediment to our possession game. And he doesn’t really contribute on offense, except for those runs he makes, and the occasional shot from distance.

Busquets: Brilliant match, in creating and destroying. He was in more of a danger role as Xavi roamed more, and Busquets thrived, controlling, sliding forward and back, intercepting and making not only the possession pass but the attack starting pass. Invisible magic.

Xavi: Nice and solid, forced to hold the ball more than usual because of the static qualities of our attack. Worked some beautiful moves with Iniesta, and displayed instinctive movement for the goal off the pass from Iniesta. One selfish part of me hopes that he does retire from the Spanish NT. More for us.

Iniesta: Started out pretty awful, with loads of misplaced balls, badly weighted passes and general suckiness, before flipping the on switch in the second half with a display that makes many believe that HE is in fact the best player in the world, lacking only a mound of goals to make his argument. His footwork doesn’t seem real at times. He set Ramos up as perfectly as Xavi, with both plays resulting in goals.

Pedro: If he keeps playing as he has been, he’s going to get his exclamation point back. In this match and the RSO outing, he showed exactly why he is so deadly when he plays HIS game, rather than trying to play someone else’s (beating defenders off the dribble, etc.). Shoot, RoadRunner. Shoot! High energy, high effort, he is back to the “work quickly, but don’t rush” quality that makes him so brilliant.

Sanchez: You could be forgiven for thinking that we were owed change from last year’s gaudy purchase. Static and anonymous were his watchwords today. And whiny.

Messi: Kinda early in the season to be sleepwalking. Moments of danger? Sure. But far below his normal standard.


Tello (for Sanchez): Very strong, composed on the ball, aggressive when called for. My, how you’ve grown.

Fabregas (for Xavi): Came in, and promptly disappeared.

Alba (for Pedro): Too late to do much except get loose for the weekend.

And that’s that. Contrary to what you’re hearing in the “Lawd, lawd,” category, we didn’t lose. And a draw of any kind at their house means we win. Yay for us!

By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, Iโ€™m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, Iโ€™m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. Valdes wanted to play badly in the return leg at Bernebeu. He had a feeling that Pinto could be at goal if the goal stays at 3-1. So he made sure of hi inclusion. Honestly I thought Valdes recovered enough and forced a foul from Di Mari. Usually that kind of fouls on GK will be given easily. But looked like Valdes even pissed off the referee with his mistake.

    Iniesta was marvelous in parts. He was brilliant with the movement and skills in first half but the ball was very very poor. In the second half he slept till Pedro scored the equaliser. Then suddenly somebody woke him up and he turned up in grand style. For the first time I felt bad for Ramos. He got owned up. After the foul he couldn’t decide whether to complain for a dive or not. It happened that fast for everyone except Iniesta. The same with Xavi goal.

    But my Man of the Match would be Mascherano. Simply majestic.

  2. For heaven sake try Vills in middle for the return leg and move Messi to middle. Sanchez and Messi does not swap their places, which cuts off Messi from his major partner him crime – Alves.

  3. Wait, no comments on Pedro? Haha.

    He was one of those I was most excited about, him and Pique. Pedro hasn’t looked this good since he got injured early last year, and Pique similarly hasn’t been himself for quite some time.

    I’m so glad Pedro’s scoring frequently, as confidence stops him from overthinking things like he did for the majority of last season, and lets him do what he does best: popping up in the right areas of the pitch, and finishing his chances.

  4. Neither team was very sharp. Madrid were not pressing us all over the pitch as they did the last two time where they got favorable results and our link up play was poor, opting to go sideways over forward more often than not.Would not read too much into this game as both coaches kept there cards close to there chest with half an eye on the weekend games.
    So we no longer get numerical ratings? They always incited discussion :).

    1. We will once the season starts, and Comcast picks up BeINSport so that I can actually watch matches with a review in mind, rather than via some stream.

  5. Petition for Pedro to get his (!) back line up here.

    The Too Early to Tell Line is outside.

    On Tito: Very brave to try / experiment this Busquets box-to-box thing and pushed Pique up field to support the forward going Busquets. More interestingly, with the same squad, we became more direct than before. Xavi’s shooting intents made his possession known and that forwards such as Pedro, Alexis and Messi have more space to run because when defenders wary of your shooting, they instinctively come block you. If Xavi faked one and slid the ball to a wide-open Alexis in the first half, we would be leading at half-time. Busquets’ attacking mind also noticeable, together with Pique, who basically played a free role, roamed forward to midfield and swung some long range shots at Casillas. VERY DIRECT.

    I can’t read too much into this match, as I agree its still preseason. But playing Adriano has good effects down the road. 1) we didn’t reveal all our cards to them. 2) we know for sure now Alba is the first choice. 3) Adriano still got his minutes on this one and thus a message of trust was sent.

    Messi’s sleepwalk was also understandable, as we can clearly see his is not using his first gear. Wait till we turn the grill on for Osa-Tuna. Villa could be a wild card, but Pedro made the magic and I believe he will earn his exclamation point back very soon if continue like this.

    That said, Tito’s substitution timing needs to improve. Playing Alba around 85th minutes had a very unclear intention. Cesc who didn’t look all that ready came on and disappeared indirectly led to the midfield chaos. The timing wasn’t the best, but sometimes things like these are unpredictable.

    I am exciting to see Tito’s more experiments in this season. Victory in his solo clasico debut, more than enough to say he already won hearts at Camp Nou.

    *Victor Valdes is still the best Spanish goalkeeper*

    1. Osa-Tuna? Lol…how about Osa-Sauna since it’s so hot in Spain right now? I’m glad we’re going there this weekend instead of on some frozen day of winter like the past few seasons. Hopefully, our away form improves!

      Have to disagree about us playing direct yesterday. Sure Busi moved higher up than Xavi at times, but most of our attacking moves still require ten+ short passes to get to near their box. That’s not direct.

  6. Hey all. Life has kept me away, but in some sense I was very discouraged by last year’s proceedings. The loss to Chelsea was devastating and unexpected, but mostly it was a very cynical approach to the campaign by Madrid that I hated the most and left me almost numb to the entire season. In a way, FCB is symbolic for me for what sport is all about and seeing evil triumph over good is very difficult to reconcile.

    As for today and the game and the upcoming season: The last goal was idiotic given the circumstances, but I have every faith that EE is not the team it was last year. Tito is a perfect successor to Pep and FCB will continue to be the model for how to build a club.

    This is The Golden Age for Barcelona and it has everything to do with Leo Messi. As superb as Xavi and Iniesta are, Messi epitomizes the Barcelona way: His humility and willingness to sublimate his own persona to the greater good of what Barcelona represents is somewhat awe inspiring. Do I wish he had been more razor sharp today? Without a doubt. This tie should be a landslide at this point.

    Yet this is not the point: Messi is in the unenviable position of having to be both decoy and hero. The

  7. nice work kxevin..feels like ol’ times..

    pique’s shot from outside the box had me jump up off my futon..
    i know it will never happen..but id really like to see him play d-mid…

    count me in for p getting his !! back..i guess we need to wait a few more games though..

    i can’t stand how english commentators constantly accuse busi of being soft/play acting…he was getting hacked left and right today..and the fools i had to listen to brought this up everytime..
    how about the first hit he took from x. alonso–and flipped in the air–no call!!! i thought a card would come out when the play stopped..but it never happened..

    sMasch’s card was so sweet…when he goes to ground it’s like a samurai swinging his sword.. another jump off the futon moment..

  8. sorry, didn’t mean to post yet; continuing on; finishing quickly:

    Messi to a great degree, allows the rest of the Barcelona system to operate, even if he ‘sleepwalks’ through a match. The opposition must respect his talent, his drive, his passion, his genius, to such a degree that his presence on the field distorts their plans. Without Messi, FCB is incredible. With him, they are transcendent, regardless of his form on the day.

    1. “The opposition must respect his talent, his drive, his passion, his genius, to such a degree that his presence on the field distorts their plans. ”

      LMAO! I’m not sure if you are trolling or not.

    2. I am clearly trolling. I am extolling the virtues of the iconic FCB star on a FCB site.

    3. Your use of words to describe him is hilarious… As if he is some divine being that we mere mortals are not worthy of.

      There’s a fine line between being a fan of a player and bordering line worship

    4. Flowery language aside, he’s saying that Messi simply being on the pitch makes the opposition concentrate on him – regardless of whether he ends up doing anything significant or not – and this opens up the game for other people.

    5. Awwwwww, let the guy have his fun! We’re all given to a little hyperbole when it comes to our flea.

    6. Why not be a little over the top? We’re missing some of that whenever Ray Ray doesn’t commentate. ๐Ÿ™‚

    7. I apologize for going over the top. Maybe I had a little too much wine in me last night, but I didn’t use one word that hasn’t been used numerous times to describe Messi. As it turns out, I’m not an unusually big Messi fan. I do think he is the greatest player I’ll ever see play, but what I am really captivated by is the team itself. On any given day I might wax poetic about almost any Barcelona player (Iniesta’s performance yesterday has me agog). Yet Jafri paraphrased my intent very accurately: Even on what we perceive as an off day, Messi’s presence is impossible to quantify.

  9. Alexis was good in preseason but was a flop in the final third today. He couldn’t even beat Coentrao not even once i think. His falling over is becoming a little annoying tbh. He’s on the ground more than Bojan now. Tito needs to have a talk with him. He should play v Osasuna and be benched for the return leg.

    The team looks a little more secure in defence, especially Smacherano, he was awesome and it seems Pinquenbauer might be making a comeback. Return leg, i think Puyi should play. This tie is like last yr only deference RM didn’t draw the first leg. They were sharper than us yet, we scored the first two shots we had. Same thing happened today but, it was EE who scored with only their first two shots. Anyhoo, hope we have a good game next week and we don’t pay for VV error.

    1. here, here!
      Sanchez need to wipe that baby’s-gonna-cry-face or the who-me smirk off his face, stay up and take thugs on with his feet. I could swear I remember tons more steel in the Serie A highlight videos that got me so excited about his transfer. Man-up…we’re all midgets here!

  10. Over the last few years we’ve played them better at the Bernabeu than at home, so I’m not that worried about conceding that second away goal. This was a very good (but not great) performance and about as good as one could hope at this stage of the season. Pedro and Villa are like two new signings right now; the Pedro of 09-11 is clearly back.

  11. Thinking about Pique and Pedro warms my heart.

    If they can keep their performance, we have like 3 new signings (Pique, Pedro, and Villa), besides Alba and Song. ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. Usually cards make me nervous. Usually I complain that a challenge should have been better timed, less sloppy. Usually I think that fouls are the result of lazy defending. But that one was perfect.

    2. well said, it was almost as if he realised puyol wasn’t around and he had to take charge in letting the bullies know who’s boss.
      coentrao’s dazed look after was priceless.

  12. And mou talk about a goal been offside, or did he just watched the replay of soldado non-offside goal, someone tell me

  13. One of the plus point about the 3-2 scoreline is that our players will know clearly that they have to win. Usually when we approach the second leg agnst Madrid with a two goal cushion, our players always take it too easy. That was the reason why RM performed well in UCL second leg and Copa Del Rey second leg.

    1. I agree to an extent, but given that this is only the Supercopa, I think having a cushion and being able to not go all out at the Bernabeu would have still been a good thing.

    2. No it’s just not any Super Copa. The first La Liga Clasico is on the 7th of OCT. That’s just four matches away. A good win in second leg will increase the pressure on Mourinho.

    3. There’s a saying in hockey (and maybe other sports?) that a two-goal lead is the most dangerous kind of lead. At one goal you know you must keep your concentration up, but at two you might relax just enough to let your opposition come back and score two quick ones.

  14. I think v.valdes is a good goalkeeper,but i think this stuff about him starting buildup play with his legs is getting overrated nowadays. A keeper should clear the ball when the need arrives him to,not playing fancy with da ball.. I mean why cant he just boot the ball away in the 85th min for FFS???i hope he wakes up from this shit

    1. Ya beat me to it. This is absolutely wonderful news.This is the man who I firmly believe had he been healthy and on station, we’d have another Treble, even with the offensive cockups.

    2. The Ramires and TB goals would’ve been avoided for one.

      OT – Not sure if the way we commented needed to be changed though..

    3. Don’t follow the last bit about comments, Vj. Did something change? I come in through the Mod portal, so everything’s always the same for me.

    4. Oh good its back the way it was. Never mind.

      It did change, the text box used to comment from a user’s page to a comment floats up beneath the comment to which you wanna reply to. That time it stayed beneath every comment (like it does when one wants to comment, but not in reply to i.e. using the reply button), which sorta irked me.

      As you were..

  15. If he was fit we would have achieved La Liga and UCL success last season itself. Remember against Chelsea and Madrid we conceded goals from an area which would have been under the complete control of Abidal.

  16. Thanks, Kxevin.

    I thought it was a very good game except for that play. I’m not even tempted to say it would have been a better game without the other play, the sleeping through their corner and forgetting to mark the second most dangerous forward on the planet, but that goal was the only thing that woke us up. Sure woke Iniesta up.

    Why can’t Pedro have at least a provisional ! back?

    Iniesta gave up the ball more often (annoyingly often in the first half) than VV, tbf. It’s just a heck of a lot less dangerous to do it where Ini did it. After the goal he put on a show!

    Messi showed up for a few plays. If he had made that 1-1, the headlines would have screamed, “Messi leads Barca in first clasico rout”, but we would know that he wasn’r really playing up to snuff.

    Xavi’s back, hooray!

    That Pique kid we just signed this year looks promising. Mascherano was phenomenal! Adriano proved why we signed Alba, but also why we kept him. Busquets was proving to the world that Alex Song was right to call him the best DM in the world.

    Sanchez? Was he channeling Bojan? Maybe that unlucky #9 shirt is finally taking it’s toll. Put your big boy pants on and just play!

    Victor. This will haunt your dreams for a while. We were dominating and started to pull out a few pary tricks. You don’t have the luxury of joining in the party. You are still the best for our team, but learn from this!

    Abi’s training! HOORAY! But be safe!

    1. Messi showed up for a few plays. If he had made that 1-1, the headlines would have screamed, โ€œMessi leads Barca in first clasico routโ€, but we would know that he wasnโ€™r really playing up to snuff.

      And this is the thing about keepers. They are never allowed a pre-season, time to round their way into form, or a simple bad touch. Mediocrity or even adequacy isn’t a luxury that they have. When the goal goes in, it’s their fault, rather than the 14 things that happened to allow the goal. Rarely is a conceded goal as cut-and-dry as their second was yesterday, to be sure.

      –Pedro is another couple of matches from sustaining his form, and becoming Pedro! again. But he’s been sparkling this season. At present, if it comes down to he or Sanchez, Pedro wins. Slam dunk.

  17. Fabregas (for Xavi): Came in, and promptly disappeared.

    Alba (for Pedro): Too late to do much except get loose for the weekend.

    I’m not sure if this is a subtle criticism of Cesc or something, but in his defense, he was subbed in at Min 83 and played a total of 10 mins. He “disappeared” seems a bit harsh. In comparison, Alba came in at Min 87 and played a total of 6 mins. And you’re saying it was “too late” to judge. I guess 4 mins really made a difference.

    1. Yea, I question Tito’s substitution timing, it’s either too late or too forced. I’d rather let Xavi get a 90. Cesc did not look ready to command the possession plays or he wasn’t given enough instruction to do so.

    2. messifan, note cliveee’s comment below yours, one that I fully agree with. Not a subtle dig at Fabregas. Yes, I had quibbles with his price, but he’s here and he’s a Barca player. That’s that. No, a simple observation. At that time I Tweeted, in jest, “Did Fabregas come on?” I wasn’t the only one to notice.

      Hard not to think a healthy Thiago would have been the sub there.

    3. @Kxevin: My point is – Cesc and Alba came on four minutes apart toward the very end of the game, and yet one is described as “promptly disappeared” and the other “too late to do much except get loose for the weekend.” To me, it seems like an unfair assessment of Cesc. Just nitpicking on an otherwise good analysis of our players ๐Ÿ™‚

      @cliveee: I could understand why Tito did that; it was circumstantial. I didn’t think he expected us to lead by two goals before Cesc came on. After that he maybe felt the margin was good enough to give Xavi some rest and allowed Cesc and Alba to experience this intense match.

    4. Guardiola said it himself that his management of the team is very instinctive. It’s almost like how he feels the game. This is one type of substitution method.

      Even leading by 3-1, an awakened Madrid side could come back to 3-3. I know it’s only 3-2 now, but when a team with such strike force wake up to play you, conceding is a big possibility. Playing Cesc and take Xavi out could be a priority idea (Osatuna this weekend), but if he failed to feel how much the game will change after Xavi comes off and expect a sleepy Cesc to command the midfield, then that’s something he could improve on.

      I am not doubting Tito’s ability, as I said, it could really be a priority thing – “No way I’d risk my Xavi for this SuperCopa, I have more important matches”. Tito coaches the team and knows what he is doing. I only question the timing.

  18. Team defended better at CK’s than i imagined but mainly due Sergi’s and Piquรฉs awesome job. For a Team with a nack to conceed goals via CK’s we gave away too many opportunaties.

    Masch needs to workout on his duties at cornerkicks. He could easily headed the ball away Wrongnaldos goal’s instead he jumped late and not high enough..

    Overall i’m satisfied with the result there is still room for a lot of improvement but i guess that win yesterday was important for Tito.

    At least Valdรฉs will make sure that the Team won’t get too relaxed over the Game @Bernabeu

  19. I’d already forgotten the Valdes error. I slept last night with all beautiful passes in mind, particularly Iniesta’s ball to Xavi. My!

    To play like this in a clasico is already a morale boost. We will continue to compete like this regardless of the supercopa final result. Tito has more guts than I thought.

  20. The brilliance of Victor Valdes is that, even after this crap last night, he will continue to pass . Talk about mental toughness.

    1. As Vilanova himself said, we ask Valdes to play like that. If he doesn’t play like that, so many opportunities for attack starts are lost. Pinto hoofs it out a lot more than Valdes, and how often does the opponent take the long ball and come charging right back at our defense?

      The way our club attacks, a static keeper would doom our defense in so many ways. Should VV have noted the presence of Dive Maria and been more cautious? In retrospect yes, but it’s a play you’ve made a billion times. You never think that today will be the time that you don’t make it, right?

  21. What, no numbers on the reviews?? Did Kxevin take advice from the dark side??!! (correct me If I’m wrong but wasn’t it someone from the OTHER blog who suggested that?)

    Burn him at the stake!!!!!! Or throw a pigs head at him.

  22. Do you wish to be great? Then begin by being. Do you desire to construct a vast and lofty fabric? Think first about the foundations of humility. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation.

    I randomly came across this quote from St. Augustine yesterday while roaming the streets of Las Vegas yesterday before the game. It occurred to me long after the game, when I was trying to make clear in my own mind what it is about the team that I am so drawn to, that the idea that embracing humility leads to true greatness might lie at the heart of it.

    I’d like to believe that Barcelona really is more than a club, that its stars actually do realize that they are only playing a game but by doing it the right way, they represent the larger struggle by all of us to live our lives with integrity and do our work with humble hearts.

    I don’t think for a moment that FCB is all purity and light, but I do believe that they are trying.

    On a day that has seen one of my personal heroes (Lance Armstrong) officially fall from grace, I still have this idea to cling to: that there is one group of individuals in Catalan that are attempting to scale the heights of the sporting world without losing their souls.

    1. I still would like to believe that Armstrong is innocent. Innocent till proven guilty. I’m not really his fan because I was Ullrich’s fan but I really admire Armstrong.

      Last I heard which was at more than 12hours ago was that he has had enough and just gave up fighting. Doesn’t really mean that he’s guilty. He is maybe just sick of all this. He said his team mates know that he won it clean. So I would like to believe that.

    2. Are these the same teammates that are lined up to testify against him?

      Sorry, but no professional athlete that I am aware of would voluntarily give up his titles & the glory he worked so hard to achieve if he truly believes he is innocent. Pep Guardiola moved heaven and earth to prove his innocence in Italy.

    3. I was an Armstrong fan, but I agree with Blitzen. Too many stories have come out over the years about him cheating for there not to have been some truth in them. From ex teammates to assistants then on to the doctors who helped with that. Besides, for a sport that was riddled with doping, how could he possibly have dominated for so long? I know this is speculation but him walking away means he knew he was losing that fight. An innocent person never quits fighting the good fight.

    4. Armstrong was possibly the most tested athlete ever and he never tested positive. There is a strong possibility that what he has averred all along is true: that this is a witch hunt. Armstrong has bigger fish to fry at this point in his life and by refusing to fight a fight that he was surely going to lose, he will keep more people in the fold for his cause. I used the word ‘officially’ because that is what this is: an official ruling. Armstrong obviously made a lot of enemies in his life or this case wouldn’t even be open. I, like barca96, prefer to believe that he is innocent and can even make a case for it, but like Armstrong, I am exhausted by the whole affair. It is nothing but sadness for me at this point.

    5. Adopted Cule: Interesting juxtaposition of St. Augustine’s quote and where you found it – in Sin City.

      To add to this sentimental theme, it finally dawns on me that Puyi might not play for us much longer. The past two seasons, he was injured, so I could use that excuse. But yesterday, seeing him sitting in the front row of the bench without any signs of injury made me realize that Pique and Masche are our present and future leaders.

      And good to hear from you again. Last we heard, you just had newborn, right?

    6. It’s funny, the Lance Armstrong business has been burning up social media, as you can imagine. I have thought for a long time that he was guilty. Still do. I just don’t think that you “tire” of defending your good name and accomplishments. That’s bollocks. I think USADA had him dead to rights, with testimony from trusted people who were there during the offenses. The case was headed to arbitration, where the USADA has a staggering win record. By all accounts, they had Armstrong lined up, ready to put the smack down.

      His huffy missive notwithstanding, shame on him. Shame on him for doping if he doped, and shame on him for giving up the fight if he’s innocent. And now, for many, he’s this martyr. For me, he’s a cheat. And why gild the lily? Dude beat cancer to compete. That’s an amazing story, in and of itself. Do we think anyone gave a rat’s ass whether Abidal played well after his return from cancer surgery or not? Nope. He was back, saying to cancer, “Not this time. You can’t have this one.”

      The juice gives top athletes that last 3-5%. It doesn’t make a couch potato into a champion. But at that level, that last 3-5% is key. David Millar’s excellent book about his doping fall from grace is a very good read. It explains exactly HOW it happens.

      It’s funny, there was that brief period of people making doping accusations against our club, saying our sprites were chemically enhanced. People automatically assumed steroids, and said “Look at them,” in defense against the claims. But there is lot of stuff that footballers can take: EPO, HGH to aid recovery, beta blockers to keep the mind and body steady, adrenaline to keep them on edge, etc, etc.

      They were tested, and they were found to be clean. But you know what? Who really ever knows? What we do know is this: cycling is dope-ravaged. People who Armstrong has beaten like a gong have ether confessed or gotten busted. Arguing against that is the more than 500 tests, in and out of season, unannounced and otherwise, that Armnstrong has taken.

      He has never tested positive. Which means what? We do know that a number of riders who left his program almost immediately got caught doping. Was it the quality of the program? Many say yes. Ultimately, we will never know, unless his director sportif keeps fighting, and the testimony that isn’t now going to happen, happens.

      But for a man who has fought for and against so much, to suddenly turn turtle and say “Do what you will” just doesn’t sit right with me. And it never will.

    7. For the first time ever, I agree with everything you said here. Like I commented above in reply to Blitzen, innocent people don’t quit fighting the good fight.

      As for the tests, cheaters tend to be a few steps ahead of testers. Its hard to catch a chatter unless you know he is cheating, then try and figure out how to test for that. It takes years to do that. And if its true he was doing a whole blood transfusion after each cycle of steroid use, then it may be virtually impossible to catch him. But they have evidence.

    8. The more I read about the story, the more I have to agree with most of what you have to say here Kxevin. I don’t think I can keep my head in the sand any longer. Yet, and I know you won’t like or agree with this, I still believe that Lance should keep the titles, because the more I read, the more I am sure that perhaps literally everyone in those races was doping, thereby conferring no competitive advantage. The best trained and greatest cyclist of all time still won those races against an even playing field. They either need to expunge the entire last 20 years or so of cycling races or they need to accept the winners as they finished on the podium.

    9. It is good to contribute, though I fear it is short lived. School starts for me again on Monday. What with three children (the newborn is about to start walking) two jobs, and a full time school schedule, I’ll probably be lucky to occasionally catch the score of the Barcelona matches, which is a shame, because I believe that it is going to be a great season under Tito.

  23. I look forward to Euler’s tactical analysis of this match, as this match has a lot of tactical innovation based on our system.

    1) Same lineup as last season’s squad.
    2) Madrid’s fitness irrelevant to the number of chance we created.
    3) Interchangeability of players (a striking Xavi, Pi9ue, Busquet full-pitching, Random Chaos(!) Regeneration)
    4) Song to replace Valdes, jk.

  24. I was playing the Fifa 12 game, and my Barcelona only really started winning when I bought Manuel Neuer.

    I think VV is a good enough keeper, and he does suit the playing style, but I’d trade him for someone like Casillas in a heartbeat. That man’s reactions are unbelievable.

    1. Casillas on Blaugrana guarantees an injured Busquets and a busy back 4, possession will also drop by 10%+.

    2. Sell FIFA 12 ratings, that’s probably why. I don’t offhand recall what VV was rated, but I remember Thiago being rated much worse than he should have been, imo.

    3. I wouldn’t. Casillas is a static keeper who suits the style of his team. Valdes is an active, ball-handling keeper who suits the style of our team. To have a keeper that stands there between the sticks waiting to intervene would mean that we would have to adopt a different defensive philosophy. We have all seen the times that Valdes has become an extra CB, roaring out to make a play on a ball that another keeper would stand there waiting for, slapping his gloves in anticipation of a 1-v-1 challenge.

      With this club and the way that it plays, I wouldn’t trade Valdes for any keeper in the game right now. Don’t think Vilanova would, either.

  25. Anybody got a short clip of Ronaldo’s foul on Messi where he was pointing out on his shoulder, like i’m stronger than him, i just touched him with my shoulder, that’s why he’s on the ground?

    1. I think it was an attempt to convince the ref that it was a fair shoulder to shoulder contest for the ball. Just like Ramos tried to raise his hands as if to say ‘hey, I don’t know how Iniesta ended up between my legs’. Both are jerks.

  26. My only concern about the whole Valdes thing is that he only ever makes mistakes against Madrid now. I can’t remember the last mistake he made against anyone else.
    Alves was decent but didn’t make any real telling attacking passes.
    Pique and Masch were unreal in defense together, add Bartra and Puyol you see why we didn’t splash out โ‚ฌ30million on Thiago Silva.
    Adriano was good but Alba will certainly play the majority of the big games this season.
    Iniesta was sensational, he’s looking like he is going to have the season of his career. I can’t wait.

    On another matter, Tello is looking very very dangerous at the minute. He is probably the 1st choice sub in most situations now.

  27. Love the aka, Kevin ๐Ÿ™‚
    So, seems like our all-European, orderly pre-season is paying off? Also, let’s hope winning with Spain this summer will have the “usual” effect on our players (as in winning the Champions Leauge shortly after ๐Ÿ™‚
    Was very glad to see a beautiful (for this early in the season) and relatively controversy-free match, and especially players hugging and being decent to the opposition at the end of the match (in marked contrast to last year).
    That team in white will always foul, and their coach will always cry to the media, because they can’t help it, and because it’s their best bet to win. But if the hatred and the pressure could be brought down to manageable proportions, maybe watching and playing football could become fun once more and not the nerve-wracking experience of late.

  28. Should have won 4-1.

    I also don’t think Messi is already sleepwalking, at least not because of lack of energy or want.
    It’s only the Supercup, and if you say Messi was sleepwalking, players like CR, Ozil & Co. were in a coma!

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