Real Madrid 2, Barca 1 (4-4 agg.), aka “Moral victories are for losers”

We lost. Let’s be absolutely clear about this. For about 35 minutes, we went into their house and got our asses handed to us. And those 35 minutes were enough. That they scored two goals from errors of the sort that humans make should in no way ameliorate the fact that mistakes were made.

And the fans on the losing side always seek a scapegoat, because we win as a team, but lose as individuals. It was XXXX’s fault, dammit. If only XXXX hadn’t done YYYY, we’d be the victors.

But is it really that simple, all the time? No.

I discussed this after the weekend, warning of a team with so much to prove, with so much riding on this match, a team playing as if collective effort could somehow erase the 5-point Liga deficit, erase the memories of a draw to Valencia and a loss to Getafe. For 35 minutes, the team from the capitol city was Osasuna with talent, putting us to the sword in a way not seen since we gave them the now-legendary manita. And we could have had one of those hung on us ourselves, were it not for one man, my Man of the Match, Victor Valdes.

Collective success, individual blame. It was Valdes who made the error that surrendered the goal that meant a 4-4 aggregate scoreline, right? If he doesn’t surrender that goal, it’s 3-4 on aggregate, and we win. That Wrongaldo shot was stoppable, and he should have. Boo, Valdes!

Every match comes down to moments of individual and collective failure. Messi 1-v-1 with Casillas, chances for Alba and Montoya, Song puts Messi through for a great chance. Iniesta misses a gimme, choosing to shoot over a gaping net. The team came out in their house like lambs to the slaughter, a bruising, physical, airborne game that was designed to take advantage of our weaknesses, designed to expose the failure of a system that is based on possession.

No, it was, as it always is, collective failure.

My view of the Copa, season competition and SuperCopa, is well known. The former just distracts from the job at hand, the latter is of value only if you win everything else, and can coin some snappy phrase like “Year of the Six Cups,” and can have a real purty picture on club membership cards. In and of itself, it’s fool’s gold, irrespective of the opponent. So I don’t really care that we lost, as much as how we lost. And how we lost had two parts, the ugly and the heart-swelling. Let’s deal with the ugly first.

A wounded animal is dangerous

Some silly people are already saying that the season is done, that a 5-point lead after only two matches is insurmountable. They lost the first leg of the Copa 3-2 in our house. There was so much for them to prove, so much for them to show their fans and themselves, by dismantling the intricate system that for lo these many years, has methodically taken them apart. But to do so, they had to play as men possessed. We weren’t ready for that.

They got to every 50/50 ball, outran us, outhustled us, did everything better, keeping the match bottled up in our end, peppering our goal with shot after shot, shots that go in against lesser sides, just as we have a chance to play our way into a match against lesser sides. We are able to withstand the onslaught of an Osasuna in their house, but there is a talent gap, and we just plain and simply weren’t ready for what we got.

On the first goal, it was simple as can be, and Mascherano whiffed on a clearance kick. On the second goal, again a one-on-one situation with an attacker at speed, Pique was skinned and Valdes victimized.

In both situations the system broke down, as long balls found their way to players who could isolate on a defender, our collective strength exposed as individual frailty. And it was 2-0, just like that. Could have been more. On a different day, probably would have been more, but Valdes came up huge. Colossal.

And he came up that way when nobody else did, when the failure of the team, of the system was so complete as to beggar description. That, dear readers, is the fault of the collective. Did Tito Vilanova have them ready to play? Good question. You can talk to a side all you want, you can tell your charges to be ready, that they are going to come at you like crazed animals, so be ready. From that moment on, it’s up to the players, and they were, almost to a man, found wanting.

The nadir came when Adriano, the last man on yet another lightning, jailbreak counter, flicked a foot at the ball, just getting a touch to it that was insufficient to keep it from falling into the path of Wrongaldo. So he tried to undress him, and received a justly deserved red. Last man, clear goalscoring opportunity, and that was that.

The weak shall rise

It was after that moment, after a little more battering, that our players rose up as a unit, and said “Enough.” Messi shook the sleep from his eyes, Iniesta started darting and dashing, Alba suddenly wasn’t overwhelmed, possession made the life of the back line easier, pushed them back into their half as we began an assault on their goal. The ball, the men were moving faster, the ineffectual passes over the top gone in favor of intricacy and artifice … and aggression.

And so it was that a slashing, dashing run earned a free kick, that Messi dispatched with the fire and brimstone of a player fully aroused, ready to lead his team back from the brink.

Yes, we still lost, but the manner in which we lost allows me to say that I am proud of this club. I have no idea what Vilanova said to them at halftime, but any questions about his motivational skills can be put to rest, because we owned the second half. Some will say that they played conservatively. I say they didn’t have a choice. Our players had the murder eyes to a man. Yes, they had chances. But Valdes was having none of it. And yes, we had chances in a gripping second half in which one goal would have told the story: one for them putting it away, one for us grabbing an improbable draw, and victory in the tie.

The system becan to work, and you could be forgiven for thinking that they were down a man, not us. The way that we lost makes me proud, even as claims of a “moral victory” nauseate me. I don’t believe in such things. We lost. Own it. Recognize it for what it is. No, they didn’t get a real goal from open play, instead capitalizing on two defensive errors today. But you know what? Those count as well, and we came up short after two excellent chances at the death, one from Tello and one that from Messi that was just wide.

They celebrated as if they won the Liga, but they weren’t celebrating the SuperCopa, but rather an exorcism. It will be easy for them to remember that they won, just as it will be easy for them to forget that for most of the match, they were on the back foot. The way that our club fought back, fought for its pride, spirit and champion’s heart should make every last damn Cule as proud as can be. It is the fight that makes me proud.

“We showed them.” No, we didn’t. But we learned something from this match. We learned how to fight, to claw, to be numerically inferior and still play our game. Quality will out.

Are there problems?

To mine and Euler’s eyes, yes. The offense, the system has become too intricate. I have said in the past that the reason keepers always have magical matches against us isn’t because those net minders are so brilliant, but rather that out system of attack is so lovely and logical, that the ball will usually end up in one place. A smart keeper will figure out that place.

To score goals, we are building an edifice, but if someone yanks one straw out, the whole thing fails. A physical, aggressive team can disrupt that buildup, be it with fouls, playing passing lanes and getting a leg in, or disrupting runs with hips and shoulders. It is at this point that our plan b becomes individual brilliance — a free kick, a stabbed home slow roller of a goal, some “Glory be!” moment of wonder.

You can’t build a house on that. We have become very specialized, little, technically gifted players who can work wonders with the ball, working with speed, passing and movement to unhinge defenses. But Chelsea showed it, That Other Spanish Team showed it, Osasuna showed it. Aggressive, physical play can disrupt the clock mechanism, and then what? A Plan B? No. Lumping the ball to a traditional forward isn’t going to work any more than our current system. It’s even easier to defend, to my view. No, speed is the key … speed and agression.

More bright spots

Montoya subbed in for Alexis Sanchez, and should have. He was a wonder, a young right back tossed into the cauldron against the second best attacking player in the world, and he did alright. Even had a very good scoring chance that went begging. It happens.

Alex Song made his debut, and played very, very well, even slotting Messi through for an excellent scoring chance that on another day, he probably converts. Good touch, nice movement, physically strong and deft in close quarters. I can’t wait to see more of him.

So NOW what?

Be proud of your damned team, that’s what. They fought like lions, coming back from the brink when they could have rolled over and taken a hiding. We aren’t going to win them all, and for matches like these (I think) you look for lessons more than victories, and boy, did we learn lessons today. Will those lessons serve us well? We won’t have long to find out, as we face Valencia on the weekend, probably without Vilanova on the bench.

And do not blame. This isn’t the time for that. Or if you blame, excoriate the collective. Whine, moan, rail against the unfairness of it all, and then get it out of your system. Because I, for one, am so proud of this club for what it accomplished even in its failure: our sprites became men, spit in the eye of a physically superior opponent and showed that even with 10 men, we’re the best team in the world. And that isn’t a moral victory, it’s learning from making a mistake, and hoping that the lessons learned will help fry some much bigger fish this season.

Don’t focus on the plays that weren’t made. Those will happen. Focus on the resilience. Mascherano could have tucked his tail and gone into hiding. Instead he manned up and played as he always does, with key interventions including one that probably saved a goal. This is our team, all the time, not when it’s winning, just as these are our players all the time, not just when they are playing perfect football, dropping manitas on people. As a fan, as a Cule, you signed up for better AND worse. This is worse, but it got better pretty quickly. “Almost” is for horseshoes, curling and hand grenades.

The real question is what did we learn from this match? I think it was a lot, and I think we will see it on the weekend, and for the rest of this season.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Recent Posts

Written by:

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


  1. Sheena
    August 30, 2012

    Meh. Hectored.

    I don’t know, in a way I kind of expected that we wouldn’t win the cup. I didn’t expect us to play that badly, mind.

    Our season just seemed to have started off a little too well.

    Madrid draws, we win, we beat them, we eke out a win, they drop points again… I just couldn’t see us following that up with lifting the Supercopa at their place. The law of probability says that we have to lose sometime, and if a loss was going to hit us at any point, I’d much rather it be in the Supercopa where we can learn from it than in the league where it’d have really affected things.

    Plus, after we conceded those two goals and Adriano got sent off, I spent the rest of the match more worried about how many we would concede, and not really contemplating the possibility of us winning the cup until right at the very end when we looked like we might just steal it. I genuinely thought, after the first 20 minutes, that it had the potential to be a reverse of the 5-0 we laid on them. They even scored in the exact same minutes! Heh.

    As for Valdes’ error costing us, many have already posted this above, but he more than made up for it today. He directly led to a goal last week, yes. His fault. But honestly, Madrid had at least 3 or 4 one on one chances that should have and would have been converted today had it not been for Valdes. There’s no point leading 3-1 if you’re going to lose 1-6.

    Anyway, I’m not saying that our lead in the league is decisive by any means (because that would be ridiculous on so many levels), but boy am I glad that it exists, especially with us facing Valencia this weekend. The home games against Valencia over the past couple of seasons have always been rather memorable, I think, and have involved us having to come for behind, so it should be a cracker (though I’d rather a nice, comfy 5-0 for us but we can’t always get what we want).

    Visca Barca.

    • I agree with everything you said, Sheena. Especially about after we conceded those two goals and Adriano got sent off, spent the rest of the match more worried about how many we would concede

      And Victor Valdes! If it weren’t for him FCB would have been utterly embarrassed, a total humiliation. Totally made up his mistake from the 1st leg.

      There are so many we can learn from this match, about the things that need to be fixed. Take the lessons, fix the problems. If we can do that, I’m sure we’ll be okay this season 🙂

  2. KEVINO17
    August 30, 2012

    RM played with phenomenal intensity for 30 minutes and got two goals due to sloppiness. But there was absolutely no way they could have maintained anything like that intensity in the second half. Indeed, if Adriano hadn’t got sent off they would have been stubble to our sword.
    So Mourinho and his boys gambled big-time and it paid off. Next time, we will just have to be sharper and crisper all around the park.
    Barca does NOT need to change the system. It is a winning system. They just need to execute better.
    Indeed, for the whole second half, RM made it very clear that they won a desperate gamble but did not really believe in themselves.

    • ViscaCalifornia
      August 30, 2012

      First and foremost good piece, Kxevin.

      I completely agree that we don’t need to change our winning system. I would, however, like to see Messi play a free role more often as Villa, Pedro and Tello can absolutely succeed in the center – all three being clinical strikers. & It should be noted that when Alexis Sanchez makes runs behind the defense (like Eto’o used to), as he did in the league Classico in Madrid – that this tactic works. He does need to finish better, which he will. All that’s really required for us to score more – especially against teams that fortify their goal with two lines of 4 defenders like Inter and Chelsea in the last two Champions Semi-finals, is not so much a tactical or personal change but a mentality adjustment. It seems that all the squad members look for Messi to finish in the final third, deferring too much to ‘El Messiah’, forcing the issue, and thus passing up on opportunities for themselves – or even for other gifted players which we are in no short supply of. Better scoring opportunities would be created if we weren’t so insistent on creating them for Messi.

      One tactical tweak that could be considered is our attack from the wing. At the end of last season, many teams, most notably Chelsea, just gave us the flanks and clog up the middle to stop Messi. It appeared as though they were completely unconcerned that we would even try to score via any form of cross from the wing – perhaps due to our lack of height. While I don’t think we need a plan B in the form of an aerial striker, we need to keep opponents honest by making accurate crosses, and/or incisive through-balls from the wing. Dani Alves’s crosses were pathetic against Chelsea. He’s capable, however, of delivering much better balls – even if he’s inconsistent in this area. Still, I’d like Tito to move Messi out wide, or deploy Cuenca when opponents don’t bother to cover us out wide. Cuenca is ideal for the wing and could provide better (more consistent) service. With Alba attacking from the left and Cuenca on the right wing in certain situations, we could then play Montoya at right back to keep at least three men in relatively defensive positions. And all our fast players, such as Affaley, Sanchez, and now even Alba need to get around the defense when any open flank opportunities arise.

  3. KEVINO17
    August 30, 2012

    Oh yeah, and Song looks phenomenal. Notice how his passes all make his team-mates look good. Busi and Cesc had better lift their games or he will be starting in front of them.

    Did he even bother to look down when Ozil bounced off him?

    A slick-passing hardman for only 16 million. What a bargain.

  4. The plan B stuff is quite tricky. What actually is it? To send in long cross into the box where we have forwards like Messi, Pedro, Villa etc to head it down. I would say no. A free kick can never be a Plan B because that depends on whether you managed to get fouled in a dangerous position. Even though a brilliant free kick taker should enhance the Plan A.

    How many teams have proper Plan B? And even if they have, does that guarantee success. I have repeated many times that our attack is becoming too static for my liking. Apart from Messi dropping down, there is no change in what our forward line does. Sanchez sticks to a single position and lately has been a mess. The fact that Pedro is back should see more switching the position between Messi and himself. A false 9 is a nice thing. But when you are going to use that in each and every match what surprise factor do you bring in? Defenders have stopped moving along with Messi and is right now teaming up together around the box. That’s why match after match we see him being marshalled out. God only knows how he still gets all that goal.

    For a change go back to the old system once in a while. Put Villa in middle, Pedro on the left and Messi on the right. Just think Pedro and Alba combining on left and Messi and Alves combining on right. Is that an inconvenience. Anyway Villa, Pedro and Messi will switch their positions at will.

    • Bajancule
      August 30, 2012

      I also think we should go back to the old system of Messi on the right every now and again.

    • ViscaCalifornia
      August 30, 2012

      You’re right on about the crosses into the box…It drives me crazy watching all the EPL teams just “sending it into the mixer” in the closing moments of the game when they are down.. but we need to make teams pay when they form a tight defensive shell in front of the goal. So – yes, move Messi out to the right wing. Let him get around defenses from the wing, and/or play balls to Villa’s feet. Just rotating him out wide for a period will force opponents to follow him, and create more space.

      Oh – and I agree that the False nine can be overplayed.

  5. nia
    August 30, 2012

    I don’t want to sound like a know it all but, i had a feeling we might lose this one. Things were going too well for Barca and too sour for RM so, the latter team had to do something to shut up Marca, AS and Sport. TBH, Barca were out played in the first half and i wasn’t even crying ‘solo robar’ that EE were leading by those two goals. I was just praying they wouldn’t manita us as i flashed back to 2010 when we handed it to them in the same mins they scored on us today.

    What i’m suprised at though is how Barca have played in the last two matches. Against Osasuna, they were just as horrible, be it they left it even late to repond in that match. Don’t know whether Tito will to start worrying now or wait and see how the team wil respond. A cup is a cup and for the other fans who say it was nothing, i have to disagree. It was important enough for the ‘Only One’ to field his best 11. Complacency is not the problem with Barca. Lack of concentration and no Puyi yelling at the whole backline is and an unwillingness to buy a proper CB is kinda becoming annoying.
    Anyways, this defeat should snap them back to shape, looking at the team after losing to EE is always heartbreaking. I hope Tito finds his best 11 soon and that injuries don’t start rearing it’s ugly head and rob us another season. I am proud of how the team played after going a man down and they didn’t panic. If they were clinical enough, they would have won, also, why Tello instead of Villa? Maybe Tito didn’t want him to get hurt by ‘Pablo’:). Season just started and like Pep said when he took over, ‘fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride, coz it’s gonna be an exciting one’. I believe in omens, Pep lost Gamper when he first started, team was eveywhere and in a mess. Tito almost has a finished team which should do good, He just needs to find his voice and yell at a few players and we should be all good. Last yr’s win of the supercopa was the opposite of RM victory this yr, so will we see a reversal in the liga?

  6. _Lily
    August 30, 2012

    I’m going to be honest: I didn’t have as high an opinion of how everyone played later in the match as most people seem to. Maybe it’s that I didn’t see the first half until later, so I wasn’t comparing it to that, I was comparing it to Barcelona in general.

    I felt like the midfield did very little. Busquets had a rare off-game, and Xavi didn’t do much, either. Passes were frequently misplaced, and we had a hard time maintaining possession and control of the game like we usually do. Yes, we had our chances, but they had just as many. The fact that Khedira was allowed to get in on our goal with several players surrounding him and force Valdes to make a decent save speaks volumes about how poorly the defense was playing. And while I don’t like scapegoats, Adriano definitely did a lot of damage by drawing that red card.

    However – and this is a big however – I’m not really disappointed in the team. We had to lose sometime. If we weren’t a man down, I think we would have pulled it out, in part because Villa would have been an option and MVP are amazing. If, if, if. Whatever. Everyone has an off-game. Today was ours. I don’t think that Madrid threw us off our game, not really – I think that today simply wasn’t our day.

    I also see some positives in this. Madrid won, but they didn’t play that well either, IMO. They had a few standout players, but many of their players, including Ronaldo, just didn’t do much over the course of the game. Did they look all that improved from their recent draw with Valencia or their losses to us and Getafe? I don’t think so, not over the game as a whole. This was not a triumphant, amazing Real Madrid – it was a poor Barca and a mediocre Real Madrid.

    I was also happy to see Valdes recover from his mistake last week to play an excellent game and keep the scoreline from getting embarrassing, and I thought that Pique regrouped well from the early mistakes and ended up owning the entire pitch. (I may be alone in thinking that; again, that may have to do with the fact that my initial impression of Pique was based almost entirely on the second half.) He made several important interceptions and helped get the flow of the game going again. Ditto Pedro – he didn’t have much support, but he did a great job opening up the pitch and getting deep into Madrid’s half. Pedro can’t carry the attack, but he started a lot of good chances that unfortunately no one did anything with.

    A 2-1 when we played with ten men and no Puyol or Alves (I think we can play well missing one, but less so with both, not against Madrid, anyway) isn’t bad, and the loss should help wake us up… and thankfully, this wasn’t in the league. The Super Cup would have been nice, but better a loss here to Madrid than in the league, where it could cost us a much more important title.

    Madrid can have this win. We can’t have all the trophies, and while their confidence will be up, I’m not convinced it will give them an edge – they’re still not looking great. Hopefully they drop a few more points soon, while they’re still figuring things out.

    • August 30, 2012

      Well said! I didn’t think we played amazingly well with ten men, but I liked the composure and maturity shown on the pitch.

  7. y2k156
    August 30, 2012

    For a while in first half, i was worried that this might become manita embarrasing.

    For the first time since Pep took over, a team has defeated us fair and square. And for me, that is a huge turning point. Barca has been defeated bunch of times but sometimes it was teams giving up on ball or playing very defensive or refeering errors or we missing our chances. This is first time since Rijkaard days that i can say that the other team simply deserved it as they played better.

    At highest level, the margins are very small. It is to huge credit of Pep that Barca always came had that little bit extra. Villanova’s Barca is going to be fantastic as well but it is going to be human and no longer spectral but maybe just first among equals.

    As for the match, it is hard to plan against individual erros. Madrid were fantastic. Yes, we missed chances but so did Madrid and Valdes made more saves then Casillas. To win, a team has to fight for every inch and win more inches then opponent. Yesterday we failed to.

    Weekend is already setting up to be quite challanging. Valencia are never a easy opponent. Visca Barca.

  8. nia
    August 30, 2012

    I forgot to say ‘Shaka curse’ struck again. :(, those who watch presspass know what i’m talking about. 😉

    • August 30, 2012

      nia, how did you get access to presspass? I tried to watch it online, but it blocked for U.S. residents 🙁

  9. Jafri
    August 30, 2012

    Was anyone surprised at how Madrid came out guns blazing, trying to do all they could to stop the ball reaching their half? It’s nothing new, in those matches where Mourinho decides to take the bull by the horns, it’s been their only opening salvo – press, press, press and hope for a mistake.

    I think I’m echoing some of Kxevin’s words here, but our best counter to this pressing is fast ball circulation. The more they press, the more we kick the ball around, one touch, half touch tiki-taka. Take control, tire them out. Pick out the gaps while they’re running around.

    And the problem was simply that at this early stage in the season, the players don’t have that intuitive understanding of where everyone is going to be, how to control the flow of the game. Barcelona is at its best when it’s in control of the match; but I’ve seldom seen a team that looks worse when it isn’t. Thankfully our ball possession philosophy almost always guarantees that we’re the ones dictating terms, but in matches like these (And that Osasuna fiasco), the second the other team starts putting us under pressure, we look really, really panicked.

    But we’ve been there so many times. These players are World Cup/ Euro/ Champions League winners. They’re used to the pressure, they’re used to the aggression. We just need a little time for everyone to integrate – perhaps practice some rondos in training – and get the ol’ hive mind working again and all will be well.

    It’s just the start of the season. Madrid are going to be about this level in every match they play. But Barcelona? We’re only going to get better.

  10. Gogah
    August 30, 2012

    Dont feel like commenting or reading anything today.

    But how good was that Freekick!

    As good as any that I’ve seen.

    • Richzorz
      August 30, 2012

      Sorry to ruin it (kinda ruined it for me when someone pointed it out on a different site) but in the replay it looked like there was a slight deflection off Alonso that took it out of Casillas’ reach…

      Saying that I’m sure Cristiano fans are celebrating his goal as the best ever and ignoring that Pique should easily have dealt with it instead of deflecting it into a position for that (admittedly lovely) backheel flick and then he kinda messed up bringing the ball down…!

  11. August 30, 2012

    I am sad. I didnt contemplate an easy win as I was sure RM would be really hungry and had to prove a point to their fans.
    What makes me really sad is how poor our midfield was in the first half, especially the first 30/35 minutes. We all know that teams, especially strong ones like Madrid, always put in their 200 percent during the first few minutes and by about 10 minutes, we slowly impose ourselves into the game, because of the excellent passing orchestrated by our midfield with support from our defence and forwards. We lacked a confident midfield yesterday and Madrid managed to make maximum out of it. If I have to balme anybody for this loss, I would say its our midfield, inspite of having our best 3 there.
    Sometimes we looked like Argentina, didnt we. Messi having to come deep into our own half, trying to get the ball out. Unlike in Internatiional games, RM players followed him even in our own half, making it really difficult.

    For all motivational powers of Tito, I am afraid, he is not really sure how to use Messi. Yes, Messi have scored 6 goals in the last four games, but except for the goals, did any of us really felt that Messi was properly used by our team. I am afraid, Tito is at two/three minds as to how to use Leo. I hope this is cleared soon enough.

    An easy cup win have turned out in embarassment as we lost because of some stupid mistakes. And because of a lack of cohesion by the team as a whole. Even, Busquests who is fool proof was like a shadow of himselves. Is there something wrong behind? I hope there isnt.

    I was happy to see how we came back in the second half, but since we didnt manage to score a goal, that really doesnt count. At the end nobody would say, Barca played great with 10 man, they would just say, RM let them just have the ball.

    • Helge
      August 30, 2012

      At the end nobody would say, Barca played great with 10 man, they would just say, RM let them just have the ball.
      If they think so, it’s good! If they think this Supcerup win (over both legs) was a demonstration of the new superiority of Real Madrid, it’s good. Better an ‘over-confidenced’ Real Madrid in the league Clasico than a wounded one!

  12. Helge
    August 30, 2012

    Amen to that last part of your review, Kxevin!

    I still wanna get shot of a player criticism: Alexis Sanchez has rather been a disgrace for Barca than a delight in all of his matches this season so far. I can’t see any positive development in his play, still too focused on his dribblings and one-on-ones, and in both of them he is not as good as he probably thinks himself. I hope he gets some time on the bench to think about his diving and general play, because right now Tello and Pedro are way ahead of him, and I would also rather prefer to see DV7 against Valencia than AS9.

    • August 30, 2012

      What if we were to play football on the moon, maybe then Alexis would fall down less? Moon gravity is less than earth gravity, so nothing to pull him down 😉

      Serious note: My plausible theory of Alexis embellishing too often is psychological. In his second Liga game against La Real last year, he was in harsh contact with the opponent and got injured for over two months. And then more muscle injuries whenever he started going at full force. Remember Pep yelling at him at one point when he didn’t think of his physical limitations? That perhaps affects his mind this season.

  13. August 30, 2012

    By god some ‘journalists’ right? Keep quiet when we were winning, now come out like insects whenever we stutter a bit.

    We won a Champions League with Masche as a CB. Let me repeat that. Champions League. A trophy people are willing to, and have spent a billion euros for. The pinnacle in club competition anywhere. But I guess that’s not good enough for them huh?

    Football journalists. As useful as FFP..

  14. Peterj
    August 30, 2012

    I hope tito wont start alexis sanchez for like 8 games,just let him be on the bench.he is always falling down,whining and generally just poor. Pique and puyol should always start in any big match.

  15. Bajancule
    August 30, 2012

    Totally agree that the system has become too intricate. We’re very predictable. It’s just that we have enough talent that MOST of the time it doesn’t matter.

  16. BarcaRoja
    August 30, 2012

    I’ll miss Afellay, was hoping that he could’ve stayed longer with the team. I wouldn’t mind at all if Alexis was the one being loaned out instead of Ibi. Alexis is becoming more of a liability with his antics. I think Ibi could’ve contributed more to the team if he was given the opportunity. Best of luck to him! Though it would be awkward though if we faced Shalke in CL.

    Btw, great review Kxevin, sMASCHtastic and sMASCHing as always 🙂

  17. August 30, 2012

    Check out this video of Song from yesterday. Dude looks to the manor born, and that Ozil play was awesome. It was like, “Mosquitoes are pretty big in these parts”:

    –There’s also a deal on Tello’s renewal. He stays registered as a B Team player for now, draws a first-team salary. Good til 2016.

  18. BarcaOwl
    August 30, 2012

    Anyone watching the Champions League draw?

  19. Blau-Grenade
    August 30, 2012

    Hey Kxevin, that is a beautiful and very well written review. I enjoyed reading every word of it. Thank You.

  20. ooga aga
    August 30, 2012

    the big drama here is whether or not they can unscrew the little balls

  21. ooga aga
    August 30, 2012

    madrid get Man City! yes!!!!!!!!!!

  22. ooga aga
    August 30, 2012

    by the way kxevin i am glad you are writing a lot lately. thanks for all your work.

  23. August 30, 2012

    Really hoping Barcelona draws Ajax – would be two very entertaining matches.

  24. ooga aga
    August 30, 2012

    it would be good to not have travel far. benfica is good in that respect.

  25. ooga aga
    August 30, 2012

    crap! we have to go to moscow! no!

      • ooga aga
        August 30, 2012

        depends on when we go. but it’s also just a long trip.

    • Blau-Grenade
      August 30, 2012

      Messi Iniesta and TB at the drawing. Celtic the last one.

    • August 30, 2012

      Celtic rounds out our group. I think we can pretty safely book our knockout stage tickets. Not being arrogant, but on form, I just don’t see any of those clubs threatening us. So happy we didn’t get Montpellier, as it would break my heart to see us crush them.

  26. BarcaOwl
    August 30, 2012

    Celtic. That’s Scotland right?

      • BarcaOwl
        August 30, 2012

        Thanks, Kxevin. By the way, thank you for the review. Your articles are always an interesting read.

    • icemel
      August 30, 2012

      A classic battle of classic kits. If I had a foosball table it would be Barca v. Celtic.

  27. BarcaOwl
    August 30, 2012

    That Danish club sure has a tongue-twister of a name.

    • Ryan
      August 30, 2012

      Citeh can’t seem to catch a break with groups of death, eh?

      • _Lily
        August 31, 2012

        And Ajax keep getting stuck with Madrid. What’d they do to UEFA?

  28. ooga aga
    August 30, 2012

    first matches are still 3 wks off, sept 18-19

  29. BarcaOwl
    August 30, 2012

    They’re handing out the ugly shirt trophy.

  30. August 30, 2012

    Hehe, nice group for EE. Apart from the trip to Moscow, its an easy group..

    • August 30, 2012

      I think Dortmund and Citeh will be trouble for them, but they should come out. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them second in the group, though.

      • August 30, 2012

        I don’t think that it’ll be tough for them though. I see them coming out on top but they won’t have it easy, which is great for us!

        Ajax should change their name to Jajax though. The footballing Gods are laughing at them..

  31. yassir (Formerly Extreme barca fan)
    August 30, 2012


    • BarcaOwl
      August 30, 2012

      About time, I say. Just wish it was a prettier trophy.

  32. Blau-Grenade
    August 30, 2012

    Iniesta, no words!!!! Just a chocking feeling. So happy.

  33. Leckan1
    August 30, 2012

    I actually clapped for a minute straight when Iniesta was revealed the winner. He deserves it and I’m very happy for him.

    It’s a shame Xavi didn’t get an award when he deserved it two years ago but what are you gonna do?

  34. yassir (Formerly Extreme barca fan)
    August 30, 2012

    So Iniesta wins Messi smiles and TB gives a TB expression, CLASSIC

    • BarcaOwl
      August 30, 2012

      A smile and a hug. I’m amused by the subtle distance that TB is keeping away from the Barcelona players. 😛 But then, I’m easily amused.

      • yassir (Formerly Extreme barca fan)
        August 30, 2012

        So the day is ours, we get an Easier group than EE and Iniesta wins the individual prize. good day.

      • nia
        August 30, 2012

        I don’t think it was TB keeping away from the Barca players, it was more the other way round. Messi came on stage and stood away from him, so did Iniesta. They had to be pushed next to TB.
        TB wanted justice today. He made sure to say he had won the liga and also beat Barca last night, lol.

        • yassir (Formerly Extreme barca fan)
          August 30, 2012

          TB has a serious attitude problem, someone as rich famous and handsome as he is, shouldn’t be worrying about an ugly prize, LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL.

    • August 30, 2012

      TB pulled an Iker-face there. Might’ve pulled an McKayla Maroney too..

  35. August 30, 2012

    Life is beautiful, and so is Iniesta. So deserved! Totally thrilled for him.

  36. August 30, 2012

    Iniesta got 19 votes in the vote for ‘Best Player in Europe’ award, Messi and Ronaldo both 17. (@barcastuff)

  37. August 30, 2012

    Iniesta got 19 votes in the vote for ‘Best Player in Europe’ award, Messi and Ronaldo both 17 #fcblive [via @barcastuff]

    He didn’t even get more votes than Messi 😆 So much for the trophies that he just described he won 😛

  38. nia
    August 30, 2012

    TB did and tried everything to pitch himself to win the best player in Europe awrd, lol. His face when he didn’t win was priceless. Makes up for yesterday’s lose.:)

    • BarcaOwl
      August 30, 2012

      But it must be especially irritating for him. Even winning the title last season couldn’t get the Barcelona players off his back. 😛

  39. simple_barcafan
    August 30, 2012

    Just wanted to say..I am proud of the team. And also proud of fans here, who after the loss, stood behind the team instead of whining and trash talk blaming X, Y or Z player…Gracias to Barca and its true followers..

  40. simple_barcafan
    August 30, 2012

    Don Andres!!! yes!!!!!!!!

    Group G
    FC Barcelona (ESP).
    Spartak MoskvaSpartak (RUS).

    RM well..have fun 🙂

  41. andres ito
    August 30, 2012

    ok..i am far from trying to commit blasphemy here–i’m just posing the question–was andres iniesta the best playe out of these 3 over the last year?

    personally, iniesta is my favorite player..ive always identified with him as the player i wanted to be like when i was back in the playing days,,i was more like a xavi though, haha..—but i thought messi had an insane year last year..and tb was great the outcome just seems surprising to me..

    • Ryan
      August 30, 2012

      Does it include play in the Euros? If so, then I’d say Iniesta had a better year than TB.

    • elacule
      August 30, 2012

      don’t you think it’s because he was great AND won best player in the Euro, and was on the Euro-winning side, which Leo wasn’t?

      my sense, given the voting, is that some folks who would have “normally” voted for Messi voted for Iniesta because of the Euro – so in a way Andres and Messi split the votes. Sure glad there weren’t enough for TB that it was a surprise upset, even that he would have more than Leo. In fact, i would rather Leo had 2nd to himself, by at least a couple of votes. But, thrilled for Don Andres!

      • _Lily
        August 31, 2012

        This is my take on it, too. Was he better than Leo on Barca? Well, no, not really, but he *was* great, and then he led the Spanish National Team to a historic victory and was named the best player of the tournament. I can see why some journalists would have voted for him.

        I think that it says something that they apparently thought that Leo was so good for Barca compared to Ronaldo for Madrid that it canceled out the fact that Portugal got to the SFs of the Euro. Ouch. That hurts.

Leave a Reply