UPDATED WITH NEW VIDEO: Iniesta presents his award to the fans at Camp Nou

In case you missed it, and before Kxevin posts his biased match review ( 😛 ), here is video of Andres Iniesta presenting his UEFA Best Player in Europe award to the Camp Nou before today’s game against Valencia:


I am extremely happy that Iniesta won this award. He is not only my personal favourite player ever, but consistently one of the top three players in the world. It is very gratifying to see that goals are not the only criterion by which players are judged.

Congratulations, Andres! And long may you play for my beloved Barcelona!

UPDATE: Here is a longer and better video:


Categorized as Barcelona

By blitzen

Canadian, cule, corporate wage slave. Came late to the beautiful game, but fell under FCB's spell in 2006 and never looked back.


  1. Aww, thanks for posting this. blitz! I missed it earlier.

    Felicidades, Andres! Can’t think of a more deserving player that hasn’t won it before! (Other than Xavi… 😛 I kid, I kid. )

  2. Hmm, over at RMFB one of the explanations for the Ronaldo sadness seems to be that this was the anniversary of his father’s death and he wanted to not play the game and go back to Portugal for the day but that RM didn’t allow him to. That’s just one of many theories but it seems reasonable enough for him to be sad and to cry after the game. I don’t know the evidence backing up this theory over any other but it seems plausible enough.

    Though according to the interviews he says it was “a professional issue” and that the club would know why. So I don’t really know. I guess everything is just theories so far. It’s puzzling either way.

    1. God I cant wait till he leaves and takes Mou with him.It will be nice not to need 99 points or more in the future just to win the league.

    2. I am sorry but where would he go? The only club as big as Madrid is Barça and he will never be welcome here

    3. Yes, I’m afraid we’ll be stuck with dealing with him for the next few years. The good thing for us is that his game is highly reliant on speed and he is 27 now, so the expectation would be that after he turns 30 he will decline rapidly. While Messi is still 25 and has the skills to retool himself as a pure playmaker (while still being a great goal-scoring threat when in a position to shoot) as he loses quickness.

    4. Also, Madrid bought him for 94 million, but if anything he has been playing his best football of his whole career for them (at least in terms of goal scoring, we can debate his overall game) so his value has hardly declined. And with the FFFP rules, it becomes pretty much impossible for him to move.

    5. If he wants to go(Mendes is his agent), then he’ll go. PSG and Citeh would both pay his $200 million buyout clause. I think EE would take $140-60.

    6. Yes, Madrid would take the money and PSG and City have them. But as I said, with FFP now in effect such a transfer becomes impossible because there is no way PSG’s or City’s revenue can grow sufficiently in the next few years to cover it, especially given how much money they have already spent on players. The only team that is making enough of a profit to pay that kind of money is EE itself.

    7. The analysis that sounds most valid so far (shockingly from goaldotcom) is the parallel drawn between this and Mourinho earlier in the year being linked with moves away and not being happy at Madrid – ended up with greater support from the club and an improved contract. Looks like it’ll be an interesting few weeks…

      (also read elsewhere that he’s played games in previous seasons when it’s been the anniversary of his father’s passing, I’m not suggesting he’s not allowed to take it harder some years compared to others but this and the ‘professional issue’ makes that seem less likely)

  3. Congratulation Andrésito,about Time he won an Award! Very happy for him truly deserved.

    Players we’re already set to play until Iniesta’s Presentation stopped them..Not handeld well imo.

    Hopefully in January there is another Awardpresentation to celebrate.

  4. Sorry Off-topic here, but this is a comment I had posted last year in September, after we absolutely demolished Atletico 5-0 in the beginning of the season.

    ” Obii says:
    September 25, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Not trying to take anything away from Messi’s brilliance, but the fact of the matter is, this team is built around Messi’s attacking talent. So if he’s not making those well timed runs into the box, he’s a waste of space. Players like Villa are already sacrificing a lot of their goalscoring potential to accomodate a better player. There have been countless times where I have seen Messi drop into midfield to link up and Villa has made one of his defense splitting runs, but is ignored, because the team is more tuned in to creating that same sort of opportunity for Messi. Not trying to say they purposely ignore Villa, just saying that it is a natural consequence of the way the team is set up around Messi. ”

    Ever since then, I have felt that this team caters even more to Messi. I could be wrong, but i get the feeling this has a lot to do with the sort of power Messi holds at Barca. I have begun to absolutely hate him not pressing defenders. Have we forgotten that our game-play works well because we start pressing defenders so early, giving them no time to think? Almost every single time the ball is with the opponent, Messi is strolling lost in his own thoughts, not pressing, just waiting. Pedro and Sanchez are going ape shit running their asses off but there is always that spare man who the opponent can pass to because Messi isn’t doing his job. I don’t care that he plays 70 games a season. I would rather have him play 40 if that means he goes balls out in all of them. This doesn’t even take into account how the team is actively always looking to attack through Messi, and as a consequence the diagonal runs made by Pedro and Sanchez are ignored.

    I would really love to read your opinions on this. Am I over-analyzing things? or is this a legitimate problem?

    1. -My theory on why the team almost always play through Messi is that the squad collectively know that if they give the ball to Messi then the team is more likely to win the game. I don’t think the staff have placed some sort of rule on the squad that they must always play to Messi or Messi himself spits his dummy every time a team mate ignores him.

      -It annoys me too when Villa makes a run and our midfield ignore it, but there could be reasons why they do that:
      -Opponents pressure our midfield a lot more heavily than they used to and this gives less time for Xavi or Iniesta to set up a long ball.
      -less of the ball movement collectively makes us more predictable and teams utilize the offside trap a lot better than they used to, could be a reason why our midfielders would hesitate to make more long balls
      -Messi is a more secure option to pass to as he can handle the ball well in extremely tight spaces.

      -Messi can play however he wants, as long as his actions are always intended to benefit the team. Also keep in mind the staff may advise him to not exert too much energy all the time.

    2. Actually Messi does get quite visibly angry every time he is ignored. Giving Messi the ball as a game-plan to win isn’t exactly the most sound. The way the game has evolved has made it all the more important for Barca to make a conscious decision to have alternate avenues for attack. I don’t mean a plan B. I mean bringing the best out of other forwards that we have, not just Messi. Teams are finding it easier to crowd out Messi in order to stifle our creativity, and by association, the goal threat of our other attackers.

      The answer to opponents pressuring is quicker ball circulation. I am no Euler, but I remember Guardiola saying that. I would think that quicker ball circulation would be more possible with forwards who have one guy marking them, rather than Messi, who has at a minimum 2 guys on him. Don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating using Messi solely as a potential threat, I am just looking to diversify the attacking portfolio of Barca. To be honest, Messi isn’t the most secure option to pass to as he does misplace the ball more often that Pedro and Sanchez. Granted, he is also more incisive than any one else on the team.

      Lastly, Messi CANNOT play however he wants. The modern game does not have space for players who do what they feel like on the pitch, regardless of how talented they may be. Villa, arguably the best striker Spain has produced, had to fall into a specific role. The whole Barca team has specific roles, albeit sometimes with loose boundaries. The pressing game of Barca is an EXTREMELY important part of the way they play. They are useless without the ball (again Pep is my source), so they need to regain it asap! Messi doesn’t help matters when hes standing around trying to use the force on opposition defenders in order to get the ball back, instead of pressing. Maybe the club has ordered him not to. I disagree with their decision, if they have.

      Sorry, getting a bit long-winded. 😛

    3. I would really love to read your opinions on this. Am I over-analyzing things? or is this a legitimate problem?

      Yeah, I’d say that while you raise legitimate concerns, you are definately over-reacting.

      Despite popular belief, Messi is only human. He will have good runs of form: he will have bad runs of form. He will play with boundless energy; he will look tired out there. He will make good decisions; he will make poor decisions. His role is to be the furthest forward in defense so we don’t see him getting back much, but conversely. he also has the responsibility of dropping back to help with possession.

      He is not above reproach, but I think we’d all enjoy him more if we stopped expecting perfection every game, in every aspect of the game.

    4. We have looked the most dominant and most dangerous when Messi was playing active defense, in the early years of the Guardiola era. That’s absolutely correct – we would often take the ball from the other team in not just in their own half but in their own third and the score a quick goal, then be up by 4 or 5 at half time and game was over. We’re not doing that any more (I don’t know if people have noticed but while we keep scoring 5 goals on teams, the 3rd, 4th and 5th are usually coming in the second half, not in the first as they used to). We are pressing a good 20 meters further in our own half than we used to and Messi is mostly standing and not moving.

      However, given the tactical discipline of our players and given that we don’t even look like trying to press hard, this must be a conscious decision taken by the coaching staff, especially with regards to Messi. He can not play every game and chase defenders like Pedro does in the same game, it’s not humanely possible. He only played 31 league games in 2008-2009 and 51 in total. Last year it was 37 (would have been 38 but he got suspended for one game) and 60 in total, he was never substituted and only came in as a sub in three of the games. This is an insane amount of playing time. The only player in Europe who came close to playing that much was Ronaldo with 55. The problem is that we can’t afford to sit him down because then we can drop points. BTW, it is not our problem, but Ronaldo is also playing too many games for Madrid and for the same reason, but it is nowhere near as extreme.

    5. Maybe there’s something wrong with other strikers not scoring goals. Maybe our wide forwards should start shooting more instead of passing the ball back to the middle. The game yesterday is a perfect example of that. Pedro and specifically Alexis got the ball, they, 90% of the time, passed it back and the team literally tried to walk the ball to the net in a crowded area.

      If you look at all our wide players including Tello, Cuenca and Iniesta, none of them have the confidence to shoot from a 45 degree angle. Villa has that ability but he’s still not fit. The burden falls on Messi to at times create and almost every time score goals. There are no Eto’o or Henry or Villa typed players at the club to ease the scoring burden.

      So Obii, stop hatin’ on Messi 🙁

      Now I might have to start a Lionel Messi Fairness Committee and a Francesc Fabregas Jr. Fairness Committee. Or a better idea – let start a fairness committee for every player in this club 😛

  5. @obii

    a stat from the barcastuff: this is first time starting from the last season that we won despite messi not scoring a goal.during the last season the record stands 11 D and 4 L.

    messi has a bad game yesterday yet if Cescy didnt fluff the chance we could easily be up by 2 0.

    last year how many chances we failed to capitalize in the CL SF i dont know.this time aginst osasuna iniesta missed 2 glorious chances,no body mentioned that.

    my point is may be just may be messi doesnt trust that the other forwards can score and he takes the responsibility upon himself and the other players take the easy way and instead of taking the responsibility they give the ball to messi.

    this messi dependency can only b cured if we buy a CF like cavani and play messi as a classic 10.but alas instead of stepping up our technical stuff are rooted in the same system “no centre forward “.

    sorry messi had a pretty bad game but at the same time he is the only reliable scorer barca have at this moment.

    1. There is no solution to the dependency problem that does not involve new players. Let’s say Villa comes back to form and start scoring like he can – that would be very nice but he is 31 and most likely will not be in the club in two years time.

      So its betting on the youngsters (Deulofeu, Dongou) or buying new players (Neymar)

  6. Must be pick on Messi day..

    Its a double edged sword really..

    Messi doesnt score, but pressed- What’s wrong with Messi?
    Messi scores, but didnt press- What’s wrong with Messi?

    And then there are extreme cases:

    Messi doesnt score, didnt press (nevermind he creates space for other forwards to function..whether they take advantage or not, its probably also Messi’s fault!)- MESSI IS IN CRISIS!

    As mom4 pointed out, he’s human. Is he above criticism? Nope. But some of the criteria set for him is honestly mindboggling.

  7. Yeah, seems to be the reason for Ronaldo’s ‘unhappiness’.
    ( much like Rooney was ‘unhappy’ at Man U. 😉 )

    Thank God, Messi, Xavi, Iniesta don’t get ‘unhappy’.

  8. Hello there!!!
    Had been following this blog for a while.. Could not resist the happiness of Iniesta being the best European Player, so I am writing for the first time. Would love to get some reply..

    1. Thanks Calvin. And yeah I am from Nepal, the Himalayan country. You are always welcome to my country.

    2. Been in Nepal! I travelled through and was in Thamel for a month or so at the local student guest house! Tom and Jerry’s was the pub of choice when I was there and for a almost broke backpacker like myself, Nepal was heaven..Wow I miss Nepal!

    3. Ya. Great man!! Even I miss Nepal. Has been out of my country for 3 years now. So you found some football fanatics over there?? And ya.. its a heaven.

    4. This seems like a good time to remind you all that if you look on the right side of this page you can find a “Readers Online” tab which, if clicked, will take you to a dashboard showing activity on this site. There is a “Maps” link that will show you where our readers have logged in from. Hey, we have a reader from Iceland! Cool!

  9. Why o why did I stay on totalbarca long enough to read some of the comments there. Smh at those “supposed” Barca fans.

    1. It’s a shame, isn’t it? TotalBarça is a brilliant site full of well-written & thoughtful pieces, run by some very nice & talented people. Yet at least 90% of the comments appear to be written by illiterate 12-year-olds with an agenda. I never comment over there anymore, there’s just no point.

    2. And here I thought their change to allowing only Facebook users comment would help reduce bad commenting!

    3. Well – it does in a way. I can’t even see their Facebook commenting plug-in when using Firefox! 😀

      I can understand why they’ve implemented it, because the troll situation was becoming downright ridiculous, but there was a lot of gold in some of the info links that the more serious commenters would post. I miss those.

  10. OT: But id really appreciate it if someone could help me understana the difference between having majority possession and dominating a game (if any) and whether in theory it is possible to dominate a game with inferior possession. Thnx.

  11. OT: Hulk and Witsel to Zenit for 80 million! :-/

    Guess Benfica have lost 2 top midfielders in the transfer window, might be less of a challenge in the CL group stage, still, not a fan of seeing players following the money so blatantly…

    (Plus surely Zenit could have had Afellay for a bargain 20mil if they’d asked nicely last week!!)

    1. Yep, just switched my Disqus ID over there to match this one (formerly Rích) – think I’ve seen you post there too?

    2. Yeah I comment over there now and then just because I respect Bassam’s opinion. Last time I did however the reaction I received from a few commenters were quite apalling. A shame really, I remember both communities actually got along well and we used to play a lot of Fifa el classicos online.

    3. Yeah there’s a lot of good analysis over there, plus I prefer their Disqus commenting system over any other that I’ve come across, shame there’s one or two that can’t tolerate any non-“HALA MADRID” comments! Made a couple of friends over there so there’s always hope.. 🙂

    4. I have never watched Witsel but is he really good enough to be worth that much??

      Also, that’s a very bad career move for Hulk – I don’t rate him nearly as high as many others do (Zenit overpaid for him too), but going from Portugal to Russia at his age is not exactly a step forward.

    5. Witsel has been “well-reviewed” over the past few months/last season (have only seen him play once this year) and was linked with ‘top’ clubs, but IMO Zenit certainly overpaid at 40m!

      I guess Hulk/Porto didn’t get the offer they wanted from a Chelsea or other major side, and I’m sure his 3rd party ownership (another of my least favourite aspects of modern football) made a big-money move to Russia, where he’ll no doubt have doubled his wages, a more attractive proposition…

  12. -I don’t understand all this attack on Cesc.

    R. Sociedad – I read the match comments post
    first but hardly saw his name being mentioned.
    When I finally watched the match, he actually
    had a good game.

    Valencia – Read the match comments post first
    ones again and thought that he had a stinker but
    after watching the match, he seemed to had an
    average to good match.

    – Messi was heavily criticized too. But I thought
    that Messi probably had one of his most un-
    selfish matches in a while.. He was really

    -Ozil looks like Prof Xavier in the latest spin off
    of Xmen: First Class.

    -Is CR7 really sad because of money? I really
    doubt it. He is alright making a billion dollar a
    year, okay maybe I’m exaggerating but he
    certainly makes more than enough so I really
    doubt it.

    It must’ve been because of him again losing out
    on a personal trophy. Not just that but he
    couldn’t even beat Messi when Messi didn’t win
    any major trophy and didn’t have a summer

    1. I wouldn’t call it an attack, it’s more a case of people being sad that he is not performing at the level we know he is capable of (and maybe some creeping doubt that he is actually capable of performing at that level) and just stating the fact

  13. It’s important at this juncture to figure out some nomenclature. If someone says that a player is having a bad run or matches, or had a bad match, it isn’t an attack. Just an observation/dissection of a player’s performance.

    An attack would be some collection of “facts” not rooted in reality, like “I don’t like Xavi, because he likes mushrooms, and I hate mushrooms. Barca should sell him.”

    In recent matches, Sanchez has come under the microscope, as well as Messi (I said he was human …. didn’t attack him. See?), Fabregas has been being examined for a while. All are legitimate questions, and that’s okay. The debate or observation doesn’t change the facts, right? Messi is the greatest player in the game right now. Saying that he’s been off song doesn’t change that. Fabregas is a work in progress, as is Sanchez. Some have called for the latter’s benching, which is precisely the wrong (IMHO) thing to do.

    And so we wait, and debate, which is the fun part.

  14. I think I am being misunderstood here. I am not hating on Messi for his poor work rate, or committing some other form of blasphemy. I am disagreeing with the tactics being followed by the team. If Messi is allowed to be static, and not help press, the team is unable to get the ball back as quickly as would otherwise be the case. This would leave us open for more dangerous counter attack opportunities taking into account the high line and the propensity of our full backs to push up. This is not me railing on Messi for some supposed off-form performance he might have put in. I am talking about the general trend of this team to not be able to press as effectively due to the freedom given to Messi. If 32 year old Xavi can start 47 games for Barca, on average, with an ankle problem and still manage to press hard, I’m pretty sure a 25 year old Messi can press hard for 50 games and not destroy his future to injury. Again, I am not saying this is all Messi’s fault. I am saying the club are making a conscious decision to do this and I don’t agree with it.

    1. “I could be wrong, but i get the feeling this has a lot to do with the sort of power Messi holds at Barca. I have begun to absolutely hate him not pressing defenders.”

      This is what you said and to me it reads like you hate him because he doesn’t press as intensely as the others. As others have stated numerous times, this is a tactical move and not just Messi being lazy. Seasons are long; no matter what players say you can’t play every game like a final.

      Somewhere along the line both Pep and Tito decided that it was better to have a Messi that was 75% 100% of the time as opposed to a Messi that’s 100% 75% of the time. Whether this has been a good decision will be evident after this season is over I believe.

    2. “I have begun to absolutely hate him not pressing defenders.” is not the same thing as hating him because he doesn’t press as intensely as the others. I hate one facet of his game. That is not the same thing as me hating Messi. He is, infact, my second favourite player, after Puyol.

    3. Well then that was the most awkward and roundabout way of stating that he’s your second favourite player. 😛

  15. I absolutely love Andres and I love that he has been recognised with an individual award such as this over Leo and TB.

    But I gotta say these awards are a complete joke.
    objectively speaking, He didn’t have a great club season blighted with injuries. Yes he was the best player of the Euros which was essentially a three week competition. Is that enough to weigh more heavily than some flea who managed to bag over 80 goals?

    ok, if international success is more valuable, then why didnt Xavi or another spaniard win awards in 2010, or 2008 for that matter?

    These awards have become a popularity contest not exactly based on merit and performance over the years. which is why i also fear that leo may not win the ballon d’or this year? Why? simply because people may just decide, lets not give it to the same person again and again.

    1. It is a bit strange that Iniesta won it now when Xavi didn’t in both 2008 and 2010 although this is a different award.

      But whatever, I’m just happy one Xaviesta finally got some well deserved recognition.

  16. Saw the game and don’t have anything else that others haven’t suggested. But quickly, still –

    * Messi seems uncomfortable trusting his strike partners to shoot and deliver. Onus is both on him and others to do better on that accord.

    * Song’s integration so quickly was promising. He positions himself well, tackles well, passes well (but perhaps needs to work on weighing the pass) and is just a beast generally whose presence in the team seems pleasing to see.

    * Cesc seems to be going through a confidence problem and I think once he kills his own self-demons, he should be alright. The team got him his best position to play against Valencia, IMO, but he was very iffy, especially in front of goal.

    * Alexis and Pedro were quite good but the former is still shot-shy. Why?

    Riff-Raff elsewhere –

    * CRon’s melodrama seems very Rooney-last-yearish.. All tuned to get more moolah. Pathetic.

    * Llorente in tune for a free transfer next season. How can Bilbao screw this up so much? And after losing Javi Martinez as well. Sad to see the state of affairs in a well managed club that however seems to cling to a concept – exclusivist nationalism – that seems a thing of the past these days. Perhaps this will be the cue for them to change tack and adopt some modern ways in an otherwise well run and well coached club?

    * Spain’s economy is going further downhill with Catalonia leading the charge towards bankruptcy. Need to watch out for some surprises in store if things continue in this direction.

  17. It is a bit strange that Iniesta won it now when Xavi didn’t in both 2008 and 2010 although this is a different award.

    But whatever, I’m just happy one Xaviesta finally got some well deserved recognition.

  18. Celebrated Labor Day here in the US by…well…not laboring.

    Had a family outing at the bowling alley, did steak on the bbq, ate cupcakes with (you guessed it) red, white, and blue sprinkles, had a family (DVD) movie night, AND FINALLY was able to watch the game that I couldn’t download until yesterday afternoon because Pakman took the day off on Sunday.

    Due to comments I’ve seen, I expected to see Messi in zombie mode and Cesc looking like a Sunday league player.

    Ya know what? They weren’t all that bad.

    Cesc fluffed some chances but looked more comfortable out there than I’ve seen him in a while. Messi had a pretty good first half. Had an assist, should’ve had two. He didn’t seem very selfish (and believe me, I was looking for it). The second half he was a bit off but he looked exhausted by the end of the second half.

    Can I just say that the most encouraging thing to see is a fully functional Xavi. How long we’ll have him for is unknown. If he plays as many games for club and country as last year he’s gonna be hobbling around hurt again by the end of the season.

    Finally, we beat Valencia. Champions League team, Valencia. A well rested Valencia. A Valencia that didn’t have to play a game against its arch rival in the middle of the week…down a man no less. YAY US!

    1. Cesc had a beautiful game. I love his ball control, his balance on the ball, and his passing range. He has a different role in Barca compared to Arsenal, one that needs box to box work, and finishing in front of the goal. He is evolving his game, and also, the Barca teammates are adjusting to him. He has all the attributes to be successful in Barca, and be a replacement for Xavi. Xavi surely cannot play every single game this season. And Barca will need the best of Fabregas/Thiago Alcantara to get anywhere close to a title.

      A little bit of luck will help him.

      Hope he has one of those big games where he gets a couple of goals, and assists, and gets his confidence is back.

  19. There is a theory from “reliable” sources that Ronaldo is sad, cause he is still waiting to take the penalty kick…

    1. Hahahaha, is that the penalty kick from the lost game against Spain? I know Xabi Alonso takes penalties for Madrid. Has there been an occasion when Ronaldo was snubbed for a penalty taking opportunity?

    2. This is hilarious. Betting on why Ronaldo is sand.

  20. Hello all. Like all the above comments. Good to see the blog is still alive and well.
    First the positives- Song and Alba both very good and Xavi excellent. Great result against a team that were only held to a draw by Real thanks to awful offside call against Soldado.

    Now to things that worry me.
    Thought Cesc was very poor, Messi the same.

    Cesc.He needs to develop a personality and start imposing himself. He’s just too nice a fella and needs to get more bitter and competitive. Much as I hate to say it, I feel someone like Mourinho would be able to get it out of him.(although he’s failed with Kaka) He may be a great team mate but the guy is just way too passive for his own good imo.
    Secondly give him one position ie cm and let him improve gradually. Stop moving him around.

    Now to Messi. IMO Peps Barca were incredible when we had the trident of Henry, Eto and Messi. Since then as many above have said we have constructed the attack entirely around Messi so much so that its stifling the team and other players. Teams are forming a square around Messi and its working. Refs aren’t blowing for tactical fouling against him. See Madrid and Valencia. He needs to drop more to the wings.

    Alexis Sanchez. Sanchez is an extremely exciting player to me but the current system is reducing him to a very functional state. From a practical point of view I don’t expect him to get great freedom in the pressing style we have (hell even Henry and Villa had to conform) but I just wish he was more selfish and allowed to express himself more.

    Dani Alves. I know he is older now and was not risked on sunday, but I have my reservations we will see the cavalier player we signed in 2008. His link up with Messi on the wing would be great to see again.

    Pique, teams are now able to expose his weakness- his speed. Without Abidal’s pace and sweeping ability and without Puyol barking orders, Pique suffers. Why the club didn’t sign an aggressive aerial Cb is beyond me.

    With what I’ve written you’d swear Barca lost but these are just aspects I believe should be addressed less we see a repeat of the Super cup second leg and Chelsea last year.

    1. Oh my stars, this! Regarding Messi. Diversification of attack is crucial to a successful offense that doesn’t want to rely on an otherworldly power to score 70+ goals.

      During the first Guardiola year, we could score goals from Eto’o creating something out of nothing, Henry busting a move up the wing or Messi doing his crazy, mazy thing. And because any of the front 3 could kill you, all of them had to be respected.

      Now, even with Villa in the side, defenses can wait until he gets the ball and then react, though not to the degree of laggardliness they do with Tello, who doesn’t have the shotmaking prowess of Villa.

      Sanchez brings an interesting notion to the mix, because while he isn’t a goalscorer, he is someone who can put the ball in the net, as well as facilitating the scoring of others with his movement and passing.

      At present, balls go to Messi which, as Dave notes, makes it easier to play him. It also requires a lot more work for him to get free enough to do his Messi Thing. Messi is so much more dangerous when he passes and moves, working 1-2s with the likes of Xavi or Iniesta. But those tactically static runs at 3-4 defenders just aren’t going to work very often any longer. They’re too easy to stop.

      –As for the defense comments, it is becoming a tactic for teams to use long balls to get directly at isolated members of our back line. Our weakness is in individual defense. The surprise this season is that unusually lax possession has facilitated those kinds of direct attacks. As our midfield goes, so goes our defense.

    2. The one-on-ones in defense are a problem for us. Abidal was great cover normally in those situations because he would always get back to cover.
      Mascherano is great in those situations normally but when it’s a high ball he has obvious disadvantages.
      Alex Song is going to be a help in this situation. He is going to be more defensive than he was at Arsenal and is probably better suited to that role than Seydou Keita was.

    3. Why does this team not use counter attacking from an opponent’s corner etc more effectively, is it a personnel problem? It would vary attacking options. Can’t remember the last counter attacking goal?

    4. Because as soon as the ball reaches the midfield, they hold up the play. I don’t know why! It only allows time for the defence to set itself and by then the op is over. Frustrates me every time. If there’s no forward there, the midfield players need to learn that they too can take it forward and shoot! Those lagging forwards can cover the defence in case the ball is lost! Seems that there’s more importance placed on possession than there is to take a calculated risk.

    5. What we’re seeing is a stifling of any spontaneous play – every move is over-thought and over-played.

      Opposing teams are starting to see the moves because they’re happening too slowly, and in too small spaces on the pitch. Crowd the ball carrier and Barca will pretty much lose the ball every time.

    6. Our B teamers do when they are in the team, Cuenca last season and Tello both try counter attacks but what normally happens is we give the ball to Messi, someone pulls him back but because he doesn’t dive he gets a free less than 50% of the time and less than 50% of those times the opponent gets the yellow they deserve.

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