Jornada 2: Osasuna – Barcelona Liveblog

It’s a return to Liga action and Barcelona faces Osasuna. Fontas, Dos Santos, and Afellay didn’t travel today – make of that what you will. Montoya and Bartra were left out of the match squad.

Starting XI: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Alba, Busquets, Fabregas, Iniesta, Sanchez, Messi, Tello

Bench: Pinto, Mascherano, Adriano, Song, Xavi, Pedro, Villa


Match begins at 19:00 Barcelona time / 1:00 pm EST


Side note – I get 100 clicks free for coveritlive, so might as well use them today…


    1. Busquets should have stopped the cross, Pique should have marked his man. Alba provided no cover for his central defenders.
      Valdes had no hope whatsoever to stop that goal.

    2. Well, that may be true in the sense that for every goal conceded, the keeper is always looked at first. I think Abidal would’ve been able to prevent the goal whereas Alba looked lost covering the goalscorer.

  1. I’m starting to get frustrated. Barca are just walking out there, not even creating anything. Right now unfortunately, they deserve to be losing.

  2. Truly awful game from Barca. Surely it can only get better from here cos it can’t get any bleeding worse!

  3. one of those matches, where depending on how you look at it…you could say “yeah they won, but they looked like s**t” or you could say “the mark of champions, knowing how to pull one out at the end, or winning even on an off day”

    In Tito I Trust.

  4. Leaving aside the result — and it can be argued that Barcelona deserved the non-offside call given how many times the assistant ref had incorrectly ruled against them previously — I think it’s fair to say Barca were thoroughly outplayed here.

    I was especially impressed with Osasuna’s anticipation in cutting off the rondo angles. I gave up counting the number of Barca passes that were broken up or intercepted. Osasuna’s anticipation also extended to their one-touch blind passes into the spaces they knew Barcelona wouldn’t be occupying. Impressive job of coaching and execution. It wouldn’t have been unfair for Osasuna to win this match. And it can be considered unfair that they lost.

    1. Yep. Osasuna came prepared to give it all for the colors, and deserved better. The three subs were all decisive, the luxury of looking down the bench and seeing Villa, Xavi and Pedro!.

      I still don’t know how they didn’t score after that Busquets whatever that was in midfield.

    2. I agree with all above. The 1st half possession stat told the story. Barca 58% Osasuna came to play and had a great collective effort. It was extremely frustrating watching the game for 60 minutes. Once our midfield maestro came in it was a completely different game. He was able to link up with passes from deep in our end to the middle of the pitch so effectively that it gave us time to get ahead of their defenders tracking back. I like that Tito wanted to give Xavi a rest, but I also like the fact he wasn’t stubborn enough to keep him out!

    3. The miss on that shot was huge. I dropped my head as soon as Busi went all pretzel like and was accepting the fact that it would be impossible to come back from 2-0 down based on the way we were playing at that point. Much to my surprise the poor lad missed. I kept calling for Pedro to replace Tello and Xavi to replace Fab. It didn’t happen exactly the way I wanted it, but both players had an immediate impact. Villa also created great space with his runs. I really think it’s the mark of a champion to get out of there with the win. I know it’s so early and leagues are won in March, April, & May, but these 5 points are huge!

  5. Boy did we look nervous out there today. Osasuna were playing at a pretty frantic pace and we were trying to do the same and not pulling it off. Plenty of fouls and cards interrupted the flow of the game as well. It was only when Xavi came on that things calmed down on the pitch.

    And they had some pretty good shots at our goal; it might have been 2-0 or 3-0 to them before we scored. On the other hand we seemed to be shooting right at their keeper most of the time. Still, 3 points in the bag. Credit to Osasuna for bringing the game to us, but hopefully we’ll take control more firmly in our next matches.

    Also, that durned liveblog never let me join cause it was at capacity.

  6. Subs before 80 mins for the win!

    Seriously though, we didnt play great at all but I’ll take the 3 points!

    Its still early in the season. I’d rather we grind out the 3 points and steadily improve the form, than surprisingly play excellently, this early, and and not win or get the 3 points.

  7. nia, FTW!:

    WTH!!! WE ARE NOT LOSING THIS ONE BOYS. Credit to Osasuna taking the game to Barca.

    I would, however, love for someone to explain how in the hell we won that match. I know theoretically:

    Xavi comes on, stability ensues. Pedro comes on, chaos reigns. Villa comes on, one more threat means that suddenly Messi has space. I know, I know. But still …. they should have had 3 or 4 goals even before we began the comeback. Yes, better to be lucky than good applies here. Boy, does it ever.

    Vilanova letting fly at the presser, too!

    (via @barcastuff on the Twitters) Vilanova: “My sending off? Told linesman it was a clear foul, apparently that’s a reason to send someone off. The other coaches are warned.”

    1. Barca won because of the substitutions indeed. Pedro is on fire right now. Villa is another viable threat. But Tito moved Sanchez to the center where he is much more dangerous than the wing and Messi played behind him. Imagine having to deal with Pedro on the right, Villa on the left and Sanchez coming through the middle. Messi easily took advantage.
      The second goal came from a cross from a position that was nonexistent in the final third after Abidal went down.
      Tito is showing a lot so far. He has the luxury to have witnessed what worked and what did not. He contributed to the past success and is not personally attached to the mistakes of the past. Cesc, Xavi, Iniesta, and Thiago should form a rotation. Pedro, Villa, Tello and Sanchez should form a rotation. And Tito needs to remain consistent with them. Will he have the courage to sit Messi from time to time though?

    2. Well, but we also could have scored 2 goals before we started the comeback. Iniesta had two good opportunities.

      Overall, a draw would have been fair.

      My definite Flop of the Match: Cesc Fabregas. I didn’t even see him or hear him mentioned by the commentatord until the 30th min. He simply lacked everything in this match, I can’t think of any part of his game that was positive 🙁

    3. Completely agree. For me he was a ghost and not a ghostface. I would’ve subbed him at half time. I wanted Tello subbed at half for Pedro. Not because Tello had a horrible game, but we needed a little more of Pedro’s tenacity to win the ball back and pressure the back line. We also needed his runs to create space. I didn’t see that from Tello today.

  8. How Messi can suck and still pop up with 2 goals, beats me.
    How confused and irrelevant cesc is in our team, beats me.
    How we’re going to replace what Xavi gives, beats me.
    Full respect to Osasuna but I’ll take the win, maybe Tito has some luck that Pep didn’t.

    1. 1. Because he didn’t suck, he just wasn’t otherworldly.
      2. Beats me, too. To be fair, he was asked to play the Xavi role today, and that’s just not him. He should play in Iniesta’s position, I think.
      3. We’re not. There is no replacement for Xavi, and I wish people would stop pretending there is. Once Xavi retires, the team will have to reinvent that position. Thiago can own that spot, but he is a very different player than Xavi.

      Tito made his subs in time for them to make a real difference to the match, and that is what carried the day. Kudos to Osasuna, they played well and their pressing pretty much played Busquets out of the game. But once Xavi came on, we started to take control. Then Pedro and Villa’s freshness and experience allowed Messi to get some space.

      It wasn’t a pretty win, but if we can take a positive from this game it is that the team showed mental strength to regroup and come back, and Tito seems to be less stubborn than Pep. He played the right players at the right time, and that helped us squeak out the win.

    2. 1. I haven’t seen the ball taken off him that many times. Dunno whether it was him or Osasuna being rather excellent today.

      2. Someone needs to come up with a role for Cesc, quick. Though it seems Tito is trying him out in many positions to find out what suits him best.

      3. I’d argue that it’d take Iniesta+Thiago+Cesc to compensate for Xavi’s absence, but even that wouldn’t be enough. Although it’d be best that we accept that there’s no one like him and we don’t have to think that far ahead for now.

      4. We’ve played what, 3 matches under Tito? I wouldn’t call someone winning 6 trophies in his first season that unlucky..

    3. Its just a feeling, I wouldn’t read into it so literally. and i wouldn’t call pep’s trophy haul lucky, it was won fully on merit.

  9. These are the kind of games we won or lost last season and am i the only one who thinks Cesc doesn’t add anything to the team.

  10. What a gutsy win for our boys! I’m proud of them. We didn’t have that sharpness for yhe 1st 60 minutes of the game, but once Pedro!, Xavi, & Villa came on are intensity and focus changed.

  11. Awful from Cesc, arguably his worst performance yet. His positional awareness playing deeper is atrocious. He provides barely any defensive cover…

    It seems the system at arsenal (or lack of it) has been imprinted into his playing style (8 years is a long time). He either needs to be played as a forward, or as the sole attacking mid in a 4-2-1-3 with two defensive covers.

    The final third is the only place where Cesc is world class. All that stuff people were saying about him being able to play in all mid positions is nonsense. Today’s performance was inexcusable.

    Keep him in the final third or sit him on the bench. Simple.

    1. It wasnt an awful performance at all. Unless you are talking about iniesta in the first half.I can only immagine if he did what sergio and andres did – giving away they ball in front of our box for what should have been certain goals.Or missed an open goal.Sometimes its almost as if people see what they want to see. Fortunately alexis passed that last time or he would have missed yet another chance and been scapegoat number 2.

    2. I didn’t have time to write about iniesta who deserves his own post frankly. It’s just that the cesc issue has been bugging me for a while…

      Cesc’s problem is more complicated, its that he has never seemed anything other than below average when playing in a position that is not in the final third.

      Where does he fit? Pep found a way to get the best out of him in the first half of last season but it came at the cost of defensive solidarity and a change in the formation that cost us points.

      I’m intrigued to see what tito has in store…

    3. I think the real problem is that when you are versatile, you get dragged around in different roles and its hard to find your place.Iniesta had his own battles with that in his early career. Adriano didn’t look like a Barca player when he was asked to fill in at right back or on the left wing or in midfield but as a left back he has found consistency and now apart from injuries no one can really say he doesn’t belong.

      Given time I believe he will find a role that he excels in.He’s lucky that unlike when Xavi was asked to replace Pep, Xavi is still here to help him and has not transferred to Italy. In the same way Xavi wasn’t like Pep and had to define his own role, Cesc will have to the same because obviously he is not a like for like replacement for one of the best midfielders of all time.

    4. You bring up some good points, particularly with the iniesta-versatility thing he’s dealing with.

      In the mean time though he’s probably got the best final pass on the team in the final third. If Tito can find a way to maximize that strength while minimizing his major weakness (ability to dictate play) then we’ll see the same cesc in the beginning of last season.

  12. GOD DARN IT!!!! Puyol has brocken his check bone after that collision, could be out for 6 weeks. Maybe he can use a mask.

    1. Unfortunately it is so. FCBlive confirmed it, even have a pic of him coming from the hospital.:(

  13. I don’t understand people talking about Cesc being asked to play Xavi role..How do you know this? Did Tito tell you he asked Cesc to play Xavi role?

    For all this talk about playing Xavi role..IMO, the problem is that Cesc just isnt doing what he’s supposed to be doing in midfield. I don’t think anyone’s expecting him to play Xavi role. They are totally different players. But as a midfielder isnt it one of the fundamentals to actually create play in midfield? He wasnt doing that. Alot of times he was no where to be found in midfield. Isnt he a midfielder by trade?

    1. Fabregas does not fit. After watching old games of his with the Arsenal it is clear that his better days are far behind him. I do not know what role he can possibly play.

    2. Did you watch him play for Spain this summer? He was great. I agree that his best role right now is not in central midfield a la Xavi’s position. I think he fits that “anarchic” role or b2b midfield role.

  14. If vilanova takes rotation seriously he will have to try different options along with different players , be it in the midfield or in attack.
    It’s not that Fabregas isn’t Xavi, everyone knows that.
    It’s that if xavi is to be rested in some games, somebody has to play in his place.
    Not his position or style.
    The only thing that worries me about the team is that due to their past great successes everything that looks unfamiliar and not working instantly seems to be easily discarded by the team and turn back to their usual system and tacticts.(fabregas anonymous?dont pass to him,sanchez missing shots and failing to dribble successfully?give the ball to leo).
    Not a good sign if we want diversity and a good rotation system.
    That learning curve has to be climbed.

    1. Yep, true. Infact, the whole team had a shitty game till around the 80 min mark and subs were made.

    2. Not equally shitty.

      Iniesta had a bad game, but at least he showed up. Cesc was more or less invisible. It’s not his fault that Osasuna were pressing/defending centrally and attacking down the flanks. But it was still his job to lend some sort of shape to the team, and he simply didn’t do that.

      It’s beginning to look like he’s not a central midfielder after all, merely an attacking one.

    3. It’s interesting how it’s so much easier to notice a player having a stinker of a match if they’re getting involved enough to screw things up. Iniesta certainly made several mistakes today, but in some ways it speaks to how often he was getting the ball and how he was an important part of build-up play.

      Cesc, on the other hand, was so uninvolved that you had to remind yourself of how badly he was playing, because you could have forgotten that he was playing at all. He didn’t do anything high-profile to screw things up.

      Interesting, don’t you think?

    4. He had more touches and more passes than Iniesta even though he played 10 minutes less. The reason you saw Iniesta more is because he runs and dribbles with the ball.

  15. Also, Rayo equal at the top with 6 points! 😀

    Bad news about Puyol though, will be interesting to hear what Mourinho/the Madrid press make of tonight’s performances/results…

    1. Oh no! They’re not FC Burger King Getafe anymore?

      (My stream was a bit blurry so I didn’t notice a lack of BK on their jersey)

    2. Assuming google translate doesn’t lie, Getafe is sponsored by Confremar, an international(Spanish?) processed/frozen food company.

  16. Wow. EE lost! I can’t believe it. Couldn’t ask for a better start to the campaign!

  17. Unfortunately, if Xavi isn’t playing the only one in the squad who can cover is Thiago. Cesc slows the play down too much as the 2nd midfielder.
    Puyol wasn’t great today IMO but he will be missed. It will allow us to take a better look at Bartra.

  18. I rate valdes highly but he needs to make himself bigger esp against strikes coming in from a tight angle.
    There was only one thing Llorente could do with that cross and that was to direct it towards goal and see what happens

    I was left with a similar feeling watching the goal we conceded in our 1st game at home.

  19. Random observations from today’s game:

    -So much sun shining on the pitch today. I was a bit surprised we didn’t wear the third kit because their red home kit was clashing with our orange/yellow kit.

    -I think Osasuna’s Llorente is more handsome than the soon to be ex Athletic’s Llorente.

    -Tito wore a grey sweater over his black polo. Rare sighting.

    -Everyone on our team played badly, except Valdes and our subs. Osasuna played so well. It was a bit unfair for them not to at least get a draw. How they remained so physically strong toward the very end was beyond my comprehension? Heck, they were playing with ten men after we had the lead and still looked threatening!

    -Referee Cesar Muniz Fernandez has the best gelled hair ever. Every time I see him officiating, he always has that slick black vertically combed hair.

    1. It was a bit bobbly, but not as bad as the frozen pitch with the bare bits painted green which was experienced last year. The main issue was the sun in the first half. Barca must have lost the toss.

  20. Here’s the thing: The team played crap for 80 minutes, then 3 subs made the difference. Simple as that. The defense was awful, lots of trotting and watching instead of taking notes from Osasuna’s players. The offense played too slowly, and people dwelled on the ball too much, despite the ample evidence that Osasuna was coming at us with the physical, pressing game that is usually effective against us.

    Look at their first goal, for example. Alba got owned, but Pique was ballwatching, and the combo platter of Alves and Busquets(?) just stood there and watched the Osasuna player take the cross. No pressure, no nothing, reducing the act to a training ground exercise. Ridiculous.

    Fabregas was aimless, Iniesta was crap, Messi was anonymous, marked out of the match by the very aggressive Osasuna defenders, Sanchez held the ball too long, trying his tricks and feints instead of passing and moving. It was, simply put, a mess.

    Xavi comes in, and notice how everything stabilized. Pedro! (yes, he has his exclamation point back) came in and brought chaos, which an organized defense HATES, and Villa was the additional threat that Tello wasn’t, because Tello doesn’t have the pedigree or the skills of Villa yet. Sometimes, you just need that big stick out there, but Villa also understands how to move in a way that moves defenders, even though he doesn’t have the ball. Defenses don’t WANT him to get the ball, which is different from Tello.

    And blammo. Two goals, a brace for Messi that might make people think he had a good match today. And That Other Spanish Team lost. It’s a long season, but keep in mind that they conceded only 14 points all season last year, and 5 already this year. Not sure what to say except the road is looooong ….

    1. Fair points all.

      My concern though is: What does Barca do without Xavi?

      We know he needs to be used sparely. He won’t be always available to start, and he might not even be available to sub once in a while. So who is going to step up to conduct the orchestra?

      Busquets has the temperament and the skills, but he’s much too vital at his current position right now. It will probably be a while before Song learns the Barcelona way enough for Busquets to relinquish the pivote role to him. What does Barca do until then?

      I suppose it’ll help when Thiago comes back, but I’m still not convinced he’s Xavi’s true heir.

    2. We will just play differently. Don’t forget when Xavi ruptured his ligaments we reached and won a champions league final with a midfield of Deco, Edmilson, van Bommel and Iniesta. We bested Milan who had Seedorf, Pirlo Gattuso and Kaka at their peak along the way. The absolute control we exhibit these days is not the only way to win as we proved in the past, and other Cl winners have proved.

  21. I know its not gonna happen buh Id really like to see Tello in a more central position or at the very least get tested there in the last 15min when we are winning coz that boys pace is not being maximised on the flanks.

    This is why ive hoped for more switching from our front 3 because messi cannot give us everything in the false9 position

    In 08/09 henry, eto’o and messi switched all the time and each brought different qualities to the CF position whenever they found themselves there.

    1. Good point, Tello is looking impressive. His shot against the post was very unlucky and Iniesta missed two clear opportunities to play him in for clear one on ones. I can’t see Cuenca or Afellay being picked over him in this form.

  22. Does Puyol look like a lion.. in the lemonade wife thinks so.. and and now if he wears a mask for his broke cheek bone..

    then we would have the following..

    puyol + mask + lemonade kit == Ghost and the darkness 2

  23. Love the way Pedro played , and Xavi is priceless
    Disappointed so far by our defending , and by the performance of Alexis Sanchez , he was proposed to offer more penetration and to be an additional goal scorer (20+ goals / season ) . He just takes the ball and passes it , and he rather passes the ball back than dribbling past the defender , and I noticed that at times there were a lot of space behind the FB he faces.
    also , his finishing left a lot to be desired

    1. Unfortunately Alexis was never a goal scorer so something like 20 goals a season will only come with time. With the patience we have with new signings I’m actually cringing at what awaits poor Song when people realise he isn’t going to be as good as Busi or Yaya from the first minute.

    2. Sanchez had 12 goals his last season with Udinese, and 15 last season with us. But to expect him to become, like Villa, an automatic 20 goal per season scorer is setting expectations up for a fall. He isn’t a scorer, but he is the kind of player who makes it easy for others to score, when he’s on form.

    3. I agree, at this moment he’s better and at giving a pass across the box than finishing off chances. I think what hurts him is people right or wrongfully just look at the fact that he cost 27 +11 million euros and wears the number 9 so they will expect things from him that he clearly isn’t. He’s essentially our Di Maria, but he just needs to get better at beating his direct opponent and shooting across the goalkeeper and not at him.

    4. If all of our players can only make easy for others to score , who will score??
      We are deppending too much on Messi

      Also , if he scored 15 in the last season with all of the injuries he took , it’s not harsh to ask for 20 this season

  24. I really don’t get this Cesc bashing. Let’s look at it logically:

    We have played a total of two competitive games with Cesc in the starting lineup. No, I’m not counting that 10 min cameo against RM and he didn’t play a huge role in pre-season either because of Euro duty.

    -Game 1 against Real Sociedad, he played alongside Xavi and Busi, and if I can remember correctly, he had a great connection with Messi (more so than Alexis-Messi pairing). In that game, he didn’t play in CM role, more advanced close to Messi. We won 5-1.

    -In today’s game, ALL starters played badly. Not just Cesc. Alexis was awful with his dribbling. I can only remember one pass from the left by him which Iniesta (another player who had a bad game) didn’t take. Messi was walking. Busi gave the ball away too many times, he almost conceded a goal. Alba didn’t cover Llorente for that goal. Alves went missing at some point forcing Puyi to cover for him. The list goes on and on…

    -So with a two game sample, some of us are saying that Cesc doesn’t fit our style anymore? He’s 25, he’s not going to replace Xavi immediately. He never played in Xavi’s position ever. Not even when he was a kid. Everyone should get a fresh start, including Cesc.

    1. My opinion is that as the 2nd midfielder (Xavi’s position dictating play) he isn’t suitable. He is too direct but plays slowly at times. As the 3rd midfielder, the most attacking midfielder (Iniesta’s position) he is able to get forward without it affecting our build up play.
      Thiago is the best suited to playing the 2nd midfielder unless Sergi Roberto grows into it in the future.

    2. I thought Pique had a good game. He was one of the few, if not the only one. He had some great long, diagonal, & across the pitch passes that aren’t easy to make. The 1st half are defense couldn’t see! Maybe that had something to do with the goal. It’s frustrating to know that a cross or a corner will most likely be the way our opposition will score. It never fails.

  25. Now I could probably live with Madrid taking the Supercup!

    But it will be another heavy blow for them if we celebrate a trophy in their house after their already quite unpleasant start to the season 😀

  26. I’d also urge people never to forget that we started the Treble season with a loss and a draw, and people were ready to run Guardiola out of town on a rail. And then look.

    So before anyone goes counting chickens, and thinking a 5-point lead is worth celebrating, we haven’t seen the quality of opponent that they have. We still get Valencia right after the Wednesday SuperCopa return leg, then Getafe right after the international break, when we are invariably off song. And in Hlebuary, we get the Valencia/Getafe/Sevilla trio, with only Granada to ameliorate the danger.

    El Clasic is in October this season, which happens to be when Villa is on target for full fitness. Might he start? Who knows, but you better believe if he does, Casillas will be replaying that golazo in his head.

    There is a lotta lotta season to be played. Did I think that we would have a 5-point lead at this point, particularly playing as we have? Nope. But I’ll be more excited if we have a 5-point lead with one match left in the season.

    1. And important players will lose form and/or get injured. Hopefully it will be in the areas we have the most depth.

    2. Long ago, I had a conversation with a jesuit. Don’t remember any of the things he said, except the phrase, “the journey is gradual.”

      I think I’m going to live by this phrase this season. Just enjoying each game as it is. Today was exciting to watch because there were two teams showing their desire to win the game. Last week’s game was also great to watch because we played pretty.

    3. That’s the fun thing about Villa: there are so many golazos he’s scored! When you mentioned vs. Villa I instantly recalled his 2 slashing runs+goal combos in the 5-0 as well as his long range curler in the Super Copa. I’d take any of those from him gladly!

  27. Great day for me. India won against NZ and against the Aussies to take the U-19 Cricket WC earlier today and now us and EE were on the proper side of a 2-1 scoreline. Only thing that could’ve made it better was that if we’d played better than the dire performance out there today.

    Seriously things would’ve been really worse had they taken that simple 1v1. Instead of a 5 point gap in our favor, we’d have easily been down a point to them. And considering the fixture clusterf*** coming up after the SuperCopa, we’d better get our act together.

    That said, I’d be mightily impressed if we take our 5 point lead into the next Liga Clasico. But seeing as though it would only be October, I guess it wouldn’t matter much. There’s a long season to go, and already we’re seeing the use of a Song like player now that Puyi is out (or is he? Are we to see the Phantom of the Opera like character in the Opera that is our season? {photo via blitzen})

    Also, Bartra will get a chance. I hope we realize that even though we think we have enough depth on paper, you never really know with injuries. The ‘more’ depth, the better..

  28. Someone mentioned it above, but we definitely deserved the offside goal! I think I counted 3 offside calls that weren’t even close. The last one had Alexis? in the clear with a 1 vs 1 situation. He was so onside it wasn’t funny. How can a assistant referee have that bad of a game? I would feel aggrieved if I were Osasuna, but them’s the breaks!

  29. 5 points, yay! Not a celebration, just “yay”! 😛
    I really thought we’re going to lose points. Phew.

    We played crap, Tito made the right substitutions, Messi didn’t have a good match but scored 2 goals because he is Lionel Messi, 3 points on a tough ground.

    And of course, Evil Empire lost. Yay.

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