This One’s For the Captain: Barça 1 Real Madrid 0

You Shall Not Pass (Francesc Adelantado)
You Shall Not Pass (Francesc Adelantado)

Yesssssssssss. I’m elated. I’m not sure exactly what to say, how to put voice to this feeling, but it’s something akin to screaming Yesssssssssss for a prolonged period of time. I also want to hug Puyol and tell him that he’s a beast of epic proportions. I don’t know how the rest of that conversation would go, but wouldn’t that be so awesome, even if his next move was to karate chop me into oblivion for touching him?

He was immense. A mountain of flying hair and deadly tackling, a fiery bronco looking to trample madridista hearts. He saved our bacon time and again, sliding in to save the day and make Crynaldo sob. If I were in the habit of giving out Man of the Match awards, I’d consider him for it, but instead of trapping myself with that label, I’ll go with this: Caveman of the Match is…drum roll please…Carles Puyol i Saforcada! Congratulations, Captain!

Where to start with the actual review? Why not with the goal:

Pique steals the ball from Crynaldo in the box and begins a counterattack. He passes to Xavi near the center circle, who in turn plays it forward to Ibra who has dropped back, pulling Pepe with him. Pique continues his run up through the middle, becoming a center striker. Ibra one touches the ball back to Xavi, who has pulled left along the center line. Xavi turns and plays a long square ball to Keita, who then passes wider to Alves on the right. Alves is wide open because Messi is on the right in front of him, holding Arbeloa. Because Crynaldo has made a forward run and doesn’t play defense and Xabi Alonso and Marcelo have been held in the middle by Pique and Keita’s positioning, there is no one available to keep an eye on Alves. As he gets the ball, Messi makes a sliding run diagonally towards the box, which releases Arbeloa to go out and challenge Alves, but also holds Albiol on Messi. Pepe, then, is hanging onto Pique’s shoulder and Ibra is behind him. Sergio Ramos is covering Iniesta who has hugged the left sideline and sees that Ibra is ghosting in at the back post and makes an extraordinarily lazy attempt to get back as Alves lifts the ball across the goal over Pepe’s head to a waiting Ibra, who smashes the ball into the back of the net.

The blame for this goal, if you’re a madridista, goes to the entire team, which made almost no effort to get back, whereas moments before Crynaldo had run into the box and been chased down by the man who promptly made the space-creating near post run on the other end of the field. If you’re going to be lazy, you’re going to get burned. Kaka stood in the center circle and watched; Marcelo half-heartedly jogged back and confused himself by trying to figure out who to cover in our midfield, ending up trapping himself in between Messi, Keita, and Alves and covering absolutely no one; Sergio Ramos had no interest in getting goal-side of Ibra; Xabi Alonso didn’t cover anyone because he was playing the holding midfielder role and we cleared out the middle (in fact bypassing it completely as Pique stormed straight through it and Xavi actually ran down the left and then cut in behind Xabi Alonso into the middle as Alves received the ball); and Lassana Diarra took himself out of the play by attempting to win back the ball in silly situations far away, creating space behind himself that was easily exploited by Xavi passing around him to Keita–in fact, Lassana never got back on defense and Xavi was all alone at the top of the box when Ibra was scoring. Iniesta was following up behind Sergio Ramos and Messi was making the secondary run on the right side, meaning we had 5 players in and around their box against their 4 defenders.

Of course, if you’re cule, you’re fairly interested in pointing out that our offensive skill had a large part to do with scoring that goal. I’m not inclined to lay all the blame on RM’s players, but only because I want to give massive credit to the foresight, discipline, and creativity of Barça’s players. So when Marcelo got confused, I’d like to think it’s because he was confused by the brilliance of our midfielders and their Jedi mind tricks and whatnot. That makes me feel better.

And a snarky note, of course: why is it that Ibra can’t show up in big games? It’s unfortunate that he can score against minnows, but not big sharks. For instance, did you notice how invisible he was against Inter on Tuesday? It’s almost like he wasn’t on the field! His entry into the game changed so much today, but I don’t think I can really say that it was because Henry was so bad. When Henry was subbed off and Ibra on, we didn’t keep the same shape we had before, which was a tactical switch from Guardiola. Henry wasn’t particularly successful in that he didn’t score any goals, but he broke down the defense a couple of times and had some of the crosses been on target, he would have scored. Both Iniesta and Alves were guilty of poor final balls in the first half. Again, I prefer to think that Ibra was so good rather than Henry so bad and that that was the difference. Henry was playing what is now out of position for him (in the center as opposed to the wing), doing the heavy lifting, so to speak, by crashing up against their back line for 50 minutes. He is best for us down the left and I hope that soon we can see that again soon, though Keita and Inieta’s emergence as a dominate duo (or trio, with Xavi) is threatening to keep him out of the starting lineup altogether. Whether that is a long term negative or positive is not something I think I’m able to tackle right now, but it’s certainly noteworthy–Guardiola’s conundrum thanks to his glut of available talent is one problem coaches don’t complain about having, though.

Let’s talk to Busi, quickly, because of his obvious impact on the game. He was, in my estimation, terrible. I thought he passed the ball directly to opposing players at an absurdly high rate, including the moment just before our goal that sprung Crynaldo in a counter attack starting at midfield. We can’t have that in what was a fairly innocuous situation, but was turned into a potentially deadly one simply because Busi couldn’t put a 10 yard pass on target. Unacceptable at this level. What’s so strange, of course, is how damned good he was against Inter on Tuesday. I think that inconsistency is simply inexperience and that he’ll settle down over the next several years and show off exactly where he stands relative to other DM. The thing that’s obvious me, however, is that The Yaya should be ahead of him in the pecking order. Simply look at the way the midfield settled down once The Yaya came on, even when we were down to 10 men thanks to Busi’s stupid card.

The cards, of course, were rather random–I’m not generally the type that blames refs after a victory, but it’s hard to accept that the biggest match of the year (or at the very least this half of the season) is reffed by someone incapable of counting the number and seriousness of the fouls by a particular player. I’m referring, of course, to Undiano Mallenco refusing to give Lassana Diarra a card until the 48th minute, despite his cynical fouls throughout the entire first half. The commentators I was listening to (on ESPN Deportes) had a good point that Lass needed carded much earlier than he was and they counted off how many fouls he’d already committed, saying at one point that the next foul he committed, regardless of severity, would warrant a card. The next foul came moments later, but the card was withheld for  Beyond that, the inconsistency with which Mallenco called fouls annoyed me to no end. It didn’t matter who was making the tackle, it was impossible to know what was a foul to him and what wasn’t. At least he seemed to be inconsistent for everyone…

Another thing: players need to be punished for diving. Crynaldo, of course, was guilty several times, most obviously when he tried to get a penalty against Pique (which Marca bought, but which was not a penalty, but was a dive), but Alves and Iniesta were both guilty of it too. Funniest detail about Alves over-selling a foul was when Crynaldo felt like he could yell at him. Are you joking, you diving punkass? You do not have the right to yell at anyone for overacting. Period. I’m sad that some of our players chose to dive–I don’t like that at all, but we should also point out that Messi stayed on his feet despite being hacked a couple of times. Not that Mallenco gave out cards after giving the advantage or anything.

Speaking of Messi, what’s going on with our little Argentine? He’s one-on-one with Casillas and then, well, let’s let Guardiola show you what happened:

Pep Disbelieves Too

Now, Casillas is the best keeper in the world, so it’s not shameful to miss against him, but it’s interesting (and distressing) that Messi isn’t scoring many of his one-on-one situations against any keeper. You can’t score them all, of course, but missing such a high percentage of them is not a good thing. If he buries that chance, it’s game over and that’s exactly what we need to do, a la last year’s late strike by one Lionel Messi.

To the ratings!

Team: 7 – This was a tale of two halves, with the first being trash and the second being much more our style. The defense was solid for the most part, but did fall apart at times.

Guardiola: 7 – Hey look, the same rating as the last match we played. How does that work!? We weren’t tactically superior in the first half, I don’t think, but we weren’t tactically inferior by any means. Then at halftime Guardiola adjusted and made the right substitutions (though I would still have liked to see a third one, but because of the red card our options were limited), though I thought that he should have subbed out Busi before his red card, but that’s just hindsight, you know?

Valdes: 8 – What else is he supposed to do to get a good rating from me? He effectively stuffed Crynaldo, which was great (feel free to argue that Crynaldo blew it) and didn’t make any mistakes. So…an 8.

Alves: 7 – This was a strange match for our right winger, which he started by flipping a series of crosses into Row ZZ of the third deck and which he ended up finishing by providing the inch-perfect cross for Ibra and the pass to Messi as well. He did dive several times, however, and was out of position defensively a couple of times, so I’m going with a 7 because he was good and bad.

Puyol: 10 – Read above.

Pique: 7 – Manly match, but he was burned for pace a couple of times both before and after he crashed their box.

Abidal: 8 – I thought he was fantastic and I wanted him to score that shot he took so badly. So badly. On Crynaldo’s shot it appears that Abidal was caught out, but he was dropped into no man’s land by Pique’s inability to stop Kaka’s run.

Busi: 4 – He was okay and was victimized a bit by the first yellow, but he wasn’t good and he was guilty of bad passing and getting a red card 30 minutes from the end.

Xavi: 7 – He’s been better and he’s been worse, but he was damned good anyway. 7 is not an insult, it’s just that he’s usually by far the best midfielder on the field and he wasn’t today.

Keita: 7 – A somewhat mediocre match for Keita, but he was obviously given more defensive duties and didn’t make as many forward dashes as usual. So disciplined and so willing to sacrifice for the team. It’s too bad he had to go off because of Busi’s mistakes.

Iniesta: 7 – A good match, but nothing spectacular. Him missing Henry on the back post was a disappointing moment and his dive was bad too. He certainly is talented, though, and proved he’s a better player than anyone on RM a couple of times. And yeah, I just said that.

Henry: 6 – Wasn’t as dynamic as I thought, but was still good. I’m hoping he continues to improve and continues to get playing time without getting injured.

Messi: 8 – An all-around awesome game by the little guy. What impressed me the most was his defense when were down to 10 and we needed someone back there to help out. Crynaldo could learn a thing or two from Messi. Or thirty things. Whatever.

Ibra: 8 (sub for Henry 51′) – Big dude scores goal. Jumps in air. Me likey.

The Yaya: 8 (sub for Keita 80′) – Does Laporta have a problem with the fact that The Yaya holds the deed to the midfields of every field in Europe? The guy is massive in so many ways. He’ll obviously have more playing time now as Busi will be suspended for the next match.

All right folks, have you say in the comments.

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater Philadelphia area.


  1. i thought real kinda outplayed us a littleoverall…. they definitely had alot of chances but captain puyol was our main man as usual today

  2. I really wanted Abidal to bury that chance, I’m fairly certain he’s never scored a goal since he’s been a senior player. That’s since he was with Monaco in 2000 and I don’t think he’s ever scored with France either. It sort of blows my mind.

  3. Great review, Puyol without a doubt the man of the match and spot on regarding Messi’s defensive role, which was central to our keeping shape after Busquets was sent off. I had to work right after this match and couldn’t focus at all: spontaneous smiles and laughter, the shakes, staring off into infinity recreating Messi’s final shot only burying it into the upper right corner with 97.311 cules losing it. damn classic. Messi’s miss at the end killed me, he deserved that goal, and he needs to get his confidence back before the World Club Cup et al. But he was fierce today, and will be forever and ever. amen.

    real’s strategy was great at the outset, completely shutting out xavi and iniesta by cutting the field in half. had we been (and by we I mean largely henry) more aware of their offside traps it could have been off to the races more than once!! also though, this is the best game they’ve played all season, BY FAR. and even though we were at about 55% of our game, we won. glorious. absolutely glorious.

    ps – so happy about abidal.

    1. “also though, this is the best game they’ve played all season, BY FAR. and even though we were at about 55% of our game, we won. glorious. absolutely glorious.”

      I think this is what makes me happiest when looking back at this game. This isn’t the best we can play (or have played this year), and they’ve never tried harder to win. And we still came up on top. As you said, GLORIOUS.

      I have to agree with you on Messi– he was so amazing all match and he really deserved to be on that score sheet. Some people seem worried about him, but I’m keeping the faith. A miss like that sucks, yes, but it hardly takes away from how well he played overall. I just want to see his huge goal-scoring grin again!

  4. Is the caption to the awesome Captain Awesome pic a Lord of the Rings reference? Movie 2 or 1, I cant tell sometimes, was recently on TNT and the quote is ringing in my ear.

    1. It indeed is a quote from LOTR. It’s from The Two Towers (Second book/movie).

      In the mines of Moria, as the fellowship flees from the Balrog, Gandalf confronts him on the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, and utters “You shall not pass!” and saves the fellowship.


    2. *clears throat* Because I am a huge nerd, that was at the end of Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf to the Balrog trying to chase the Fellowship in Moria. Nerd hat off.

    3. Aaa perfect. Thank you for the conformation. And Gandalf hair is < but almost equal to Captain Awesome's awesome hair so it was also a appropriate caption.
      And toast to the nerds!

    4. Two Towers was Fing awesome!!!

      I just had a marathon were i watched all three movies. The scene is actually in BOTH Fellowship of the Ring and in Two Towers

      The events in question certainly happened at the end of Fellowship, but there was a flashback in Two Towers where they elaborate on said scene. (They show Gandalf landing on the Balrog in the lake, thus surviving the fall)

    5. I love the books and the movies. That opening scene in Two Towers was so bad ass with Gandalf…I love these movies! It’s like Barca=the Elves and lovely football, the jedis and Madrid, EE aka Sauron, ok ok, enough of my nerdiness here!!!

      But truly Barça for me, més que un club

      Visca Barça

    6. Real Madrid = the Evil Empire
      Bernabeu = The Death Star
      Merengues = Storm Troopers

      Jason = nerd

  5. Although im fairly new to the blog.. i do think you are mis-rating busquets, i thought that LIKE EVERYONE else, he wasnt accurate on the passing, but he RECOVERED well, i mean he was holding the midfield until that second card, where he just looked awful for those last few minutes. so credit to him…

    Ibrah! immediately after he came in, i felt at peace ! and messi, just needs a little more recover time, we’ll get him back.

    1. Busi gets the shaft here a lot.

      Honestly, he deserves it most of the time… But yeah, I love busi, i think he is going to be the next Guardiola in 3-4 years time. Kinda like Pirlo. A holding Midfielder with Xavi’s passes, and Iniesta’s quick feet.

      I’ve seen him partake in some outstanding offensive plays. Like his assist in pre-season vs. Galaxy. (saw it live)

      For now he is inconsistent. He has an amazing game vs Inter, then not so much against Madrid. (maybe he is better in CL, than la liga? think CL Final)

  6. Offtopic from the derby, a question for the writers of BFB and readers. Do you think Guardiola is going to want Caceres back? Personally, I have really taken to the guy, and he’s been our starter at right-back for the last few weeks. It seems Guardiola never really liked him (I watched a fair amount of Barca last season when I was living in Madrid) even going to play Toure as center-back over him in the CL final. (Vindicated? I think so)

    Anyways, we have the right to buy him, but I’m wondering if our DS tried to play hardball with Barcelona for a lower price if Guardiola really wants him back or is ready to let him go.

    1. i was gonna make a comment about caceres in the last post too but decided against it because it was off topic. basically i just wanted to share something i read:

      Ex-Juventus defender Storgata unimpressed by Caceres signing

      Former Udinese and Juventus defender Massimo Storgata has slated the signing by Juve of Martin Caceres.

      Juve landed the young Uruguayan from Barcelona in August.

      But Storgata said: “What do I think about Caceres and if the €12 million was right? The Uruguayan strikes me as a decent player, but Juventus paid too much. The boy is still developing, but for the competitiveness of Juventus and the role of right-back in the future, they must look elsewhere.

      “At that price he should not be signed.”


    2. Well, first, Storgato doesn’t seem to understand we haven’t signed him. The agreement as I’ve seen it is €10.5million. I must disagree with him though. Based on current form, there’s no doubt that we should shell out for him.

    3. My thoughts are he isn’t in Pep’s plans for the future, but what does a mortal like me know?

    4. My guess is that no, he doesn’t like him much. He gave Caceres a bunch of chances in the first half of the season, but towards the end he didn’t pay him much attention. Even at the end of the season when things were done and dusted, Guardiola chose some of the young ones over Caceres.

      In the CL final, it would have been absolutely ridiculous to put in Caceres. He played against Atleti in a Copa del Rey match, I think, and was absolutely shredded to pieces multiple times in the first half. He recovered in the second, but still lacked the type of skill required to play in a final.

      This is all from memory (and relating to a player I didn’t care for) so I could be wrong.

  7. Great Review Isaiah. Game was intense, First half we were terrible and RM played the best game they could. That being said, going into halftime with the play like that, says a lot about how much better of a team we are. The one strategy they had was to flood the midfield and make things impossible for xavi y iniesta. Without Ibra in the middle, we werent able to create much, which was disappointing to me. I dont understand why we are starting Busi over Yaya, especially in a game like this. It just didnt make sense to me, if we had yaya from the beginning i honestly feel our control in the midfield would have been set, and the defensive role that great captain puyol had to undertake would have been cut in half. And thank god we had Puyol today, unbelievable. I sat with a bunch of friends whom i forced to watch the game with me(i live in LA and no one watches “soccer”) and they kept saying, dude that crazy looking dude is a beast, he just keeps robbing the other team from even getting a shot off. Yeah. Anyways, after watching the end of the first half i knew Pep would go into the locker room knowing exactly how to beat them, because honestly, i knew we were playing like shit, and that they were playing at their best. IPWT. So once we came out in the second half with actual movement and control, i knew once we brought Ibra in we were destined to break through. And Dammit, why did Pique get in front of Ibra on that set piece!!! Ibra had a tap in and i wish he had called Pique off, that would have sealed the deal right there. I was fairly annoyed that Busi stayed on and then got the Red. Didnt deserve it, but like Isaiah said, terrible game for him, he was just awful. But Alves to Ibra was sublime. Absolutely magic, world class crossing and finishing, it was just EPIC. Great finish especially going a man down, Messi played his little heart out. That being said, WTF is going on with his finishing when one on one?!?!?!?!?!? ive gotten to the point where i expected him to miss that opportunity and was blown away when he just WASTED it. I really hope the little guy gets his confidence back because we really need him this season. Great Game, Still Have A Huge Smile On My Face!!!!! VISCA EL BARCA!!! VISCA EL CATALUNYA!!!!!!

    1. As always its not the other team that played well but barca who didn’t show up ! Typical cule
      So how did you come to the conclusion that you were only at 50 percent or whatever and that madrid were at their BEST in the first half ? Didn’t they carve your defense opened even in the second half only for puyol to make a superb last ditch tackle and save the day ?
      Did It ever occur to you that you weren’t playing at your “best” because madrid was in fact the one who didn’t let you and that its not because you decided you just didn’t want to ?
      Give credit where credit’s due

    2. We werent at our best plain and simple, not because of madrid, bc henry should not have played, Ibra if he started would have made things a mess for you, and Busi does not deserve to start over Yaya. You had your best team out there, we did not, and we still beat you. and yes puyol made great plays, but hes part of the team, the heart of our defense, who can u say that about? thats right, u dont have anyone like that. Your supposed great offense couldnt beat one man, all we needed was one man to stop you, thats pretty sad for madrid fans, honeslty. But We are a better team, even when we dont play well. period. Any logical football fan can see that, madrid will win nothing this year, bc money doesnt buy trophies. Keep making excuses and thinking madrid played better, WE WERE DOWN A MAN FOR 30MIN AND MADRID STILL COULD DO NOTHING, BECAUSE WE HAVE A TEAM< DEFENSE, MIDFIELD, OFFENSE. WE HAVE A TEAM! YOU HAVE NOTHING BUT A BUNCH OF SUPERSTARS THAT DONT UNDERSTAND HOW TO PLAY BEAUTIFUL FUTBOL! VISCA EL BARCA!!!!!!!!

    3. Ethan you sound like those glory hunters on 🙂
      So you’re saying that if ibra started you would have steamrolled us ? Well maybe well never know all I know is that I’ve spoken to many cules before this game they believed that you would steamrolled us no matter who was on the pitch like you did against inter who if we went by your logic could say that they would steamrolled you if they had sneijder or if they had started balotelli …….see how stupid I sounded there ? Well I’m echoing you right there
      And you say that puyol alone stopped us from scoring ? Well he was brilliant no doubt about it , but from what I’ve seen valdes and pique have something with the fact that you kept a clean sheet maybe that’s just me though 🙂
      And we actually did something when you went a man down at 70th minute had benzema scored on that golden opportunity he got around the 80th or so minute we would be talking about a different match right now , I’m not a man of “ifs” or ” could haves ” but I thought i’d make my point anyways
      You’re right that you’re a better team though as you’ve been building this team for years dating back from even before laporta take the reign ( don’t think you would know anything about that though s) throught stability and patience we on the other hand have had a new team in each of the past 4 seasons so its only normal that you would be better than us in the long run But you Were NOT today and trust me we’re well on our way and by the end of the season you won’t recognize us

    4. chill florentino perez, i know ur alittle frustrated and all spending 270 million and losing to us(with 7canteranos and all) but its okay, ur gonna be alright.
      dont know how someone with a user name as florentino perez can be taken seriously let alone insult others

    5. Your Logic Amuses me. Obviously if Sneijder or Balotelli had started against us, it would have been a very different match, though we played exceptional, it still would have been much much different. Just as if we had started with Messi and Ibra in that game as well. And yes Puyol robbed you guys, Valdes didnt have to really do anything except get hit with ronaldo’s terrible shot. And you cant talk about what ifs with benzemas opportunity that didnt end up coming close to scoring. We had a real defense, and you couldnt get a real shot on goal because of that. I dont want to listen to these excuses about how we have had a team put together for the past 7 years, ya we are the only real team in europe to have a great youth system, are u honestly saying that is the difference? Bc if you are, that is a joke, Rijkarrd had those options as well but it took a coach like guardiola to put together the pieces. You have to keep putting together a new team every year bc your management sucks, as well as your president, year in and year out. And the funny thing is, if you spend the money you did to buy the players you did, you should be able to beat a team of mostly Canterano’s. We are a team, that is the difference, and ya come the next time we play you, it will be a very different game, a thrashing which we will deliver to you at seasons end, at your home. And fyi, i have been going to the camp nou since 05 season every year to watch games, as well as followed the team since 01, before Laporta, when the club was a mess financially. So dont come here and try and lecture someone who knows damn well all madrid can do is make excuses for the fact they can’t live up to expectations, nor will this team ever, just like the first galacticos. You should learn something from the TEAM we have, instead of defending a club that tries to buy their way to glory, which oh ya, still has yet to succeed for you. VISCA EL BARCA!!! VISCA EL CATALUNYA!!!

    6. Let me pay some respect to Real Madrid, as a team. They played very well in fact. It wouldn’t be such a good el classic if Madrid did not play so well.

      First of all, tactically, Pellegrini had it correct. In the first half, we did not play well. It is not simply because we sucked. It is because Madrid did some wonderful organization to stop us from playing our game. For a prolonged period of time, Xavi was not involved in many possessions. It was Pique who did his thing (dribbling up field and pass to the forwards) to start the attack. I saw Kaka swaying around the circle to press us. Almeria did the same damn thing, man-marking our midfielders, especially Xavi. When Xavi was man-marked well, we cannot trigger our attack properly. But since we pretty much have a bunch of players playing at the same level at the same time, Iniesta carried out some of the Xavi’s job, Pique also helped out, even Busquets who apparently did not play a good game to many of our cules did some of the organization job fairly. But hell yea, Madrid had the upperhand in the majority of the first half. Credits to Madrid. Pellegrini showed his class as a coach because he did not play dirty like Ramos, he played a great game with a plan that almost worked only for cr9 to strike that shot too casually that saw Valdes came up with that world-class save.

      But a loss is a loss, get over it. As Guardiola put it, sometimes you play well but still lose, sometimes, like this time, Barca played just ok but still won. Cheers for this great great el classic (catalan).

    7. clivee now see thats what i wanna see , no matter what win or lose you should always give credit to your opponent so good on you
      you’re wrong though in thinking im here because im a sore loser and didnt get over the loss i just wanted your fellow cules to give credit where credit’s due instead of acting like it was barcelona who decided to not play for whatever reason and madrid had nothing to do with it

      DREW …….you’re not very funny my friend , if you’re trying to be a comedian i suggest you also keep your day job

    8. peregrino gave us problems when he was at the yellow submarine, now of course you have to expect he will give us problems when he has hundreds of millions of euros backing him.

      so, i knew it would be a tough match.

      we had more shots between the posts. we strung more passes together more often. we had more shots between the posts. we also had more shots go near the posts.

      maybe you will give us problems next time florentino. but we won and it wasnt any less deserved than many of your victories in Liga this season.

  8. Funniest detail about Alves over-selling a foul was when Crynaldo felt like he could yell at him. Are you joking, you diving punkass? You do not have the right to yell at anyone for overacting. Period.

    Ronaldo got on Iniesta’s case for diving!!!!!!!!!!! Then Iniesta got sassy and shushed him up!

    video here:

    1. isn’t it amazing? even iniesta is pissed by crynaldo the bitch. crynaldo is pissed himself because someone else dived in front of him in broad daylight (oh ummm, stadium lights). he must be thinking:

      “stop diving! only i can dive at this level! you all are bunch of amateurs when it comes to dives!!!!”

  9. busi is still a dilemma to me. he was good against inter. and to me, he wasn’t too bad in this game either. he carried out his duty very well as a dm. he won many balls, shut down lots of passing lanes, carry the ball up field at times, pass pretty directly (abide missing the target sometimes).

    to me, he is another player who was good and bad. but the fact that pep chose him to start over yaya shows pep is going to use him more and more frequently. i’d say yaya is still our number 1, but pep might be playing busi to his best before yaya goes for the African cup thing, so that we won’t need to purchase a new dm.
    will this project succeed? i am more positive than i was now. but dude does give me heartattack when he dribbles or try something fancy. he still needs to work on some more tackling techniques. he is blunt at it and thats why the first card came.

    other ratings are just as fair as they can go. puyol, is, our, beating, heart, hands, down.

    1. almost forgot Abidal!!!!!! HE IS ANOTHER BEAST !!!! I am so glad he is with us and he has extended his contract. totally a joy to watch him eat any madridista coming his way. he totally owns the left flank and at times drop to the center to cover more areas. i think we won’t be so good defensively without him.

    2. Maxwell can play against Xerez.
      We should rest all the defenders who played today. Who dares to say this to Alves 😀

    El Capitan is the best! Shove it prem. league groupies.

    1. ESPN,, and all these people who think Puyol is not even in the top 20 CBs in the world (Behind mostly Prem. league players).

  11. clive, i alsso get a heart attack when i see busi trying to be funny
    but fortunately most of the times its successfull..
    it really looks awkward him dribbling lol
    he really wants to be like messi lol
    man..puyol is a beast!!pique too..
    abidal was caught out of position a few times during rm counter attacks..

  12. Great review, Isaiah. Pretty much on par with all of my opinions.
    But there are a few things I don’t understand at all.

    1. Some people believe Madrid outplayed us. Okay, I get that they had more opportunities than us (not by much, may I add) and had cron scored his, things may have played out differently. But none of that relates to the way a team played. Madrid was pretty disjointed, fouled way too much, dove in numbers, didn’t pass that well ever, but defended reasonably well. Barca went through long periods where the passing was superb, controlled large portions of the game, scored an excellent team goal, and won with ONE MAN DOWN. You’re not outplayed, with one man down, and still win.

    2. That the game was horrible or a let down. I think it exceeded expectations. Last year’s classico at the Camp Nou was played defensively and got boring at times. This game was never boring. Both teams had numerous opportunities, there was a lot of suspense (mainly when Busi got a red) lots of drama (cron vs Iniesta) and while Madrid defended plenty, it wasn’t over the top. It was reasonable. So I would give this game an A.

    1. You’re right about both, except I wouldn’t go as far as to say it “Exceeded expectations”. My expectations were a little higher, but it wasn’t a let down. It was a little worrisome how much we let Madrid play and create danger especially in the first half. Sometimes about 10 seconds before the final shot on goal im watching the space madrid are finding/about to find in our third and asking out loud “WHY IS THIS BEING ALLOWED TO HAPPEN!?”. I hope Pep doesn’t ignore that

  13. I had a radically different view on the match Isaiah haha. My review is up on the Offside. Also your point about Zlatan going invisible against Inter on Tuesday. . .sarcasm? Twas hard to tell.

    It is always good to win, but I thought we could have and should have won much more convincingly.

    1. ibra didnt play against inter, so im guessing, yes, sarcasm.

      and my bad if you were being sarcastic as well. 🙂

  14. At some point Messi came close to our defensive line, tackled the RM player somehow curving his body, and took the ball away. My friends (not barca supporters) were like wtf man what that dude is doin… felt so good 😀

    1. I love watching Barca games with non-fans. They so always so shocked!! “Wha..? How did he do that?” etc.

      Messi’s defending really impressed me. You happen to remember when that moment occurred?

  15. henry also did some good defending!
    at one point he robbed the ball on our penalty area..
    he is really superb..he just needs to get back to LW position..
    henry is the best LW we can ask for..

  16. Hey, I thought you weren’t the kind of guy that does player ratings?

    I admire your spirited defense of Henry. I thought that he was certainly one of the lesser players on the field, as he, well, just is in the Barcelona system, but he played a much better game than he played against Inter. In the same (most interesting) paragraph, you talked about the “dominant” duo of Iniesta and Keita–and maybe Xavi. Not sure what to think about that, but I’ll have my eye out from now on.

    For me, this was a very good match. Liga will come down to a hair’s width at the end, and I love it. As for Barca, well, we’re not the team we were last year. But a few weeks ago we were drawing teams like Mallorca (?) and I was thinking, we’ve lost the swagger. This week, this wonderful week, we’ve beaten hands-down the reigning Italian side over the last five years while displaying full-on swagger, and we’ve beaten our biggest rivals. This means, to me, a good run in the making in the CL.

    The team is much different than last year. I thought this was an excellent performance, and my mind was thoroughly boggled when, after ten minutes, Ray Hudson said Real Madrid were definitely the better starters. I totally disagreed. Start to finish, we never lost our grip completely on the game. Madrid had great chances, chances we didn’t quite match. And we went a man down (this has happened once this season and only happened once last year, to arguably last year’s reigning donkey, one Seydou Keita). So, we displayed the clutchest of clutch defense, the likes of which I never saw last year. The midfield magic was reproduced at a diet level compared to last year, sure. But midfield magic was definitely there, and we all saw it. Iniesta and Xavi are regaining form by the game now. When they come back to their top form, we just might be as unplayable as we were last year, and that’s not even considering the impact of the likes of Keita and Ibrahimovic.

    1. What really stood out to me wasn’t our attacking verve–if that was the story of last year–but our silky ability to get out of tough situations and making it look so, so easy. We did that last year, but this year (and especially in this game), it is so much more important. I mentioned it in the last thread, but it deserves reiteration. Again and again, we saw our players in situations where they had the ball, surrounded by so many defenders of massive quality. Most athletes would crumble in the circumstances I saw us play in today. But again and again, the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, and very notably Abidal used good teamwork and skill to CALMLY pass their way out of such situations. Puyol won us the game with his saves, but this kind of play made us look brilliant in winning without creating a ton of chances.

      Even when they aren’t dominant, they have moments in which you just think they could be and should be. I love this team.

  17. I’ve always loved Puyol, so it’s great to experience these matches where it is obvious to everyone how much value he still holds for Barcelona. I would give him man of the match twice over if it were possible.

    I have to say: I was also impressed by our forwards, hustling back and playing defense like they haven’t in a while. In particular, Messi, who had a couple of moments which should find themselves on a highlight reel. I wanted him to make that goal so badly, not to bury RM once and for all, but because he deserved to be on the score sheet for the match he played. I was almost worried that his match score would be effected by the miss and would end up being a little low, but I shouldn’t have doubted.

    And I have to ask about the ref situation: is it just me or are less fouls being called this year than before? Because in the past couple of games, there have been a number of incidents that were clear fouls but went unpunished. The trend continued in this game. I understand that fouls are inevitable, but shouldn’t the refs try and protect the players a bit more? Some of those looked like they could have ended badly…

    All in all, I couldn’t be happier. I just hope the team takes this win and builds confidence from it.

  18. Isaiah, you cannot really blame Madrid for that defensive laps

    If you were them (humor me), and had the option to
    a) Mark Iniesta, Messi, Xavi, Keita, Pique and or…
    b) Mark Ibrahimovic’s option from an Alves cross…

    honestly, who here doesn’t choose a) ???
    I think this instance, this exact situation, is why we sent an angry Cameroonian, and truckfulls of cash over to milan to get him.

    When a team is too organized, and INTELLIGENTLY are man marking Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, etc etc. Sometimes we gotta throw the ball at Ibrahimovic and hope he can bring the magic.


    any non Cule’s might say, it was a tap in, but… a millimeter either way and the ball doesn’t go in. Plus it was left footed. He hit the ball perfectly…

  19. I don’t think that Undiano did bad. In fact, he once again proved to be the best referee in Spain. Undiano has a consistency. He doesn’t give yellows early but he waits for a number of fouls to happen and then gives the yellow card(which was to Arbeloa’s bad luck). You may say that Lassana played tough but so did Keite and Busi, and I think the main reason we saw such a rather fast paced game was the excellent refereeing from Undiano because unlike other referees, he doesn’t just give every damn touch as a foul. So there’s really no point in complaining about the ref.

    If you click on the link btw.(my homepage) you will see THE scene of the game, Iniesta telling Ronaldo to shut up. That was better than anything.

  20. Man, Crynaldo does the impossible everyday. He made Iniesta get aggravated. What Iniesta did, players do all the time, but Iniesta never does that.


    Crynaldo needs to be careful though… he is throwing stones in a glass house that is being held together by popsicle sticks and glue.

  21. Someone mentioned Henry’s inability to beat the offside trap yesterday. For that reason alone, he should get a below 5 rating. He beat the trap perfectly last year in Madrid, but was shameful yesterday, even lazy at times to run back on side after we won the ball in midfield.

    Loved Iniesta shushing Thong boy. One for the ages 😀

  22. Great work, man. I’ve enjoyed your article as much as Puyi’s unbeliveble efforts to save us. 10 is quite deserved.
    One thing only: Barca can’t get better Ref, I think he did a great job, handled the game perfectly.
    Great job anyway, thamx.

  23. – Busquets was good in this game. Aside of the handball that caused him another yellow, he was on the same level as everyone else. (But again, I have been told few days ago that you can’t blame a player if he uses his hand as it usually happens without intention ;), so no one has the right to blame this YOUNG player for this one I guess).

    – Henry was not bad either. I think he is improving. But he is still not in the form needed for this game. He contributed defensively, and made couple of good runs. But with the absence of Ibra we needed an offense reference, a station. He failed there. Which left a damaging impact on our offense fluidity. In such kind of games, you need a player upfront who can control and keep the ball after retaining possession so the other players spread themselves for offense build up. Again, he was too direct -EPL style- in a game where more calmness was needed. Add to that, falling in the offside trap too often. This, again, meant losing the ball.
    When Ibra entered we actually improved significantly. Not only he scored, but he linked with the rest of the players perfectly to contain possession after we became one man less. When we gained back the ball in our own half, we were able to send the ball to the other half to Ibra, where he controled and protected till we moved to back him. This way we escaped RM pressure on the ball in our own half. With henry it wasnt the case as we had to move the ball through our half up facing RM pressure. So, even though Henry was not bad/Lazy/etc… He wasnt that good either (not better than Busquets, of course). In the other hand, he customized his game once to play as a second striker/Left forward in this club and I hope he will customize his game to play as a striker as needed in Barcelona. As I can only see him in that position for the following two years (after this season) -A.K.A new larsson.

    1. you make a good point about having henry being the back-up middle man. After this year for sure, too. Does that mean replacing him with someone on the left, or using iniesta/pedro!?

    2. It depends on the options available. We need to weigh the buying option (Cost/Benefit/Risk/long term impact) and the already available options -including youth(Cost/Benefit/Risk/long term impact).

      My squad improvement roadmap is clear (though not popular): Obviously I am not a fan of buying an identical to the Xavi-Iniesta model (with less quality) A.K.A Cesc. If we can strengthen the holding mid position and buy a player who can click on both flanks, that is the perfect plan. (Villa or Silva) plus Mascherano are my favorite options. Silva for example can play both on the left and right wing(left footed on the right flank to do the Messi impact and on the left flank stretching the field and balancing it with Alves). He can also play as an AM better than Cesc. Thats why he is the deal for being quality and versatile which means adding remarkable depth without killing the youth players opportunities to prove themselves because giving them a chance will not mean automatically benching the new signing (he may play in different position in the same game).

      Villa can play on both flanks and as a striker. He is a better option than Silva if Henry decided to leave.

      Having one of these two means that we will have a quality starting line up of Messi-Ibra-Silva/villa and enough depth having Bojan-Henry-Pedro -Jeff added to that Brazilian we exiled to Benfica. Iniesta can then focus on inheriting Xavi in some games and partnering him in some others. Beside having JDS and co from the youth team as additional technical inputs added to Busquets, Keita, and Yaya as box2box mids while both Yaya and Busq can also rotate with Mascherano for the holding midfielder position.

      This is how I see us signing quality players without wasting the chance of using our youth players and without creating lot of rotation mess. But now that the election is approaching, I think popular signings will beat football common sense.

  24. Great Post again Isaiah!

    Awesome that we won. As I mentioned in the live blog, I was unable to find a free flowing stream to watch it! However, I was closely watching the Live-blog and the gamecast for updates.

    Based on the above two, I was freaked out because it really looked like they were peppering us with shots from all over in the first 15-20 minutes and valdes and puyol were making last ditch saves over and over.

    There’s been chat of this being untrue in the comments to this article but if i were to take off my rose tinted glasses here for a while, I sense the EE must have done something right to have had us all flustered and perhaps in that respect Isaish, the post match report doesn’t cover the areas of improvement.

    Hopefully i can find the game somewhere and see for myself

  25. Its 6 am over here and only NOW did I just watch the damn game on the DVR 🙁 . Working projects on weekends sucks. Anyways:

    – RM was more effective in the first half IMO. Pep summed it up well in the presser when he said we rushed things too much and had too much space between the lines allowing space for Kaka and Thong Boy to build up speed and run at our guys in the open field where the two RM’ers are at their best.

    – Ramzi is right (as usual) about Ibra vs Henry. Titi played good pressure defense, drifted wide, crashed the box, drew defenders with runs, etc. However, he was rushing things too much and his first touch (IMO) seemed to be off. In his last few games he seems to have trouble playing with his back to goal and he could not seem to stay onsides at times. A conflicting performance, good job on effort, not so good job on execution.

    – Does anybody have the first half possession stats? It seemed like around 55-45 to me which for us is pretty low. RM did a very good job of playing to their strengths in that half and had better chances IMO. It speaks a lot to Ibra’s impact not only with the goal but also with his hold up play that the game ended 64-36% possession even with us down 10 men in the second half! He was awesome in his hold up play when we were down to 10. You could see his rust when he lost it a couple of times but the merit to me was that he gained possession in the first place deep in RM’s half on a consistent basis with guys like Pepe on his ass. Even if he lost it, it made RM have to travel the length of the field time and time again and wear out.

    – Pique’s role in the goal was the personification of a libero. Pure awesomeness. He makes me crap my pants sometimes when he runs so deep but wow, that was amazing. The errors against Kaka and Ronaldo IMO should be blamed on exactly what Pep pointed out: too much hurry on the part of our forwards/mids and too much space in between the lines. Also, RM did a good job of cross field passes which took advantage of our overloading pressure. Two of those Puyol slow motion Secret Service agent screaming N-o-o-o-o! and throwing himself in front of a bullet type interceptions came after RM switched play to the opposite side of where the ball was and found a wide open man

    – Valdes: slowly becoming the best big game GK in the world. Between Chelsea, Man U, and all his game saving stops in last years Camp Nou Clasico and this year’s… St. Iker has some serious competition for the title IMO.

    – Same old story with Busi for me. Inexperience = inconsistency. You are playing as a D-Mid!!! Stop with the unnecessary pirouettes and dribbles and Keep It Simple, Stupid!

    – The ref handed out some semblance of justice in the end. It ended up with 6 yellow cards for RM vs 2 for us (both for Busi). I actually think Keita deserved one for consistent bad fouls as well.

    – Did you guys know that this is the first time that Barca wins two in a row at the Camp Nou since the days of the Dream Team? This lacks total scientific validation but I think in a sense, RM plays looser at the Camp Nou than at the Bernabeu. Their players are ideal for playing counterattacking football with speed demons like Kaka, Ronaldo, and Higuain being at their best on the run in the open field. In the 1st half their best chances came on counter attacks. I think they did a very good job. The problem is that if Barca gets 65-35% possession at the Bernabeu like they did yesterday, the crowd will start booing in a short amount of time. At the Camp Nou they don’t care what RM does but the Bernabeu crowd DEMANDS constant attacking especially against Barca. Compare the two legs last season. At Camp Nou it was a tight cagey affair decided in the last 10 minutes with RM playing for the counter and at the Bernabeu they came out to attack and got massacred. Will that affect the RM tactics in April? It will be interesting to see.

    – Ronaldo accusing somebody of diving is like [Insert Example Here]

  26. I thought it was an overall great team performance, everyone-except for Busquets -came to the party. Talking about Sergio, Pep looked furious when he was sent off, I wonder if the boss gave the young-un a tongue lashing after the match!?

  27. This is worrying….


    I hate to question Pep, but if Yaya was fit then I cannot understand how he can start Busquetz ahead of him.

    1. It will be influential for his future at our club to play the next 3 or 4 matches. I hope Pep takes this warning serious and starts him more often now. But there’s also the possibility of the coach saying “Nobody can tell me which line-up to choose” –> Yaya benched –> City spending big money in January…
      In Germany, there are a lot of coaches who would act like that because they want to make clear who is the boss. Pep already made it clear to Eto’o. Hope he is more sensitive this time. ‘Cuz the Yaya HAS to stay!!!

  28. I’d like to point out here something I meant to mention in the review: I hate having to say this because on Team Evil, but Kaka is a nice person. Like someone who strikes me as a genuinely nice guy.

    Need proof?

    That’s him holding Alves back from arguing with the linesman in the first half. That’s f’in class, if you didn’t know. Biggest game of the year and instead of worrying about what anyone will say, he holds back his opponent from making an ass of himself. Awesome.

    Apparently the two are really good friends, which is interesting.

    1. Following Milan — and the Brazil NT as much as anyone — by all accounts he is an incredibly nice guy. Some argue with his religious enthusiasm, but he is close friends with as many of the more enthusiastic partiers so it seems he is also non-judgmentally nice which always gets extra credit 😉 .

  29. Can anyone who was at the match comment on this quote from Sid Lowe, regarding Henry’s problems in the game?

    “Beset by Madrid’s pressure, Barcelona’s best outlet appeared to be into the gap behind the back four and Thierry Henry spent much of the first half appealing for that very ball. Mostly he ran and called in vain. When Seydou Keita did play one through, it was overhit; on other occasions his frustration saw him fall foul of the offside trap…”

    It wasn’t something we (or I at least) could see on TV, but if anyone else did, does it change any analysis regarding Henry’s form? Lowe noted, along with everyone else, that Titi was beaten by Pepe, but I was still interested in the rest of the observation and if others agree.

    1. Real Madrid defense made sure not to keep spaces between them and their midfielders who were putting pressure on Barcelona midfield, but they were not approaching the half line so we can talk about a huge space between the defense and Keeper. Xabi in particular was the player who was serving this role so the defense keep thing tight.
      Yet the ball was played behind the defense more than once, but either henry was offside or he was outrun. So I can’t say it was an issue. The idea was hiring henry as a target man passing the ball to him so he attract the defense so that Messi and co hit the defense penetrating from behind after receiving henry pass behind defense. It didnt work.

    2. Exactly.

      Pep attributed our lackluster 1st half to our lines (defense, midfield, and forwards) playing with too much space in between them. In this half, RM did the opposite and did a great job of keeping compact, tight lines which made it very hard for us to find space in between. The result was that RM had a lot of space between our defense and midfield lines to launch counterattacks (their strength) through and we had a harder time getting the ball past center field. Yeah, their defense played a little high but I did not see it as anything out of this world. We tried long balls to break their offside trap and Henry was caught offsides or outrun a few trimes or Casillas managed to intercept. Our problem was the distance between the lines and our failure to consistently spread the field (notice in the second half how much more Iniesta hugged the wing).

      In the second half, our errors were corrected and we saw the effect. Pellegrini screwed up by taking out a midfielder (Marcelo who was moved back to fullback when Arbeloa was subbed) for another forward (Raul). This only left Lass and Alonso to man the midfield and managed to give us midfield superiority even though we were playing with one man less. Contrast that to Guardiola who subbed in the Yaya and moved Iniesta back thus playing with a 4-3-2 and using Ibra to hold up the ball in front. He essentially cut his team in half and the forwards were isolated for long stretches.

    3. I do agree with Sid Lowe’s comment. Henry had an unimpressive night, but at the same time he was put on a service diet. Runs were ignored or were very late to be acknowledged. I noticed it quite a few times.

      One example that comes to mind was iniesta’s long ball from right to left that ended up as an offside call. HE saw the possibility early. By the time he had executed it after thinking about it for about 3 seconds it was too late. Same thing with an Alves offside on the right side closer to the end of the game. Iniesta dwelled on it too long before releasing it. It wasn’t just him though.

      I realise I’m a bit of a minority opinion in advocating for more directness in isolated patches. Instead we seem to ignore opportunities based on a principle about how we play. For example, I don’t think that Abidal-led counter attack should have been smothered by Xavi getting the ball in a passback that early, and then hanging on to the ball.

      It’s hard to argue with something that works well as often as it does, I still think the midfield operates better certain days (a majoprity) more than others. Last night was an example of too much refusal to release the ball and keep it moving

    4. Thanks for the detailed points of view. During a game like this I have too much trouble breathing to keep the play by play in my mind’s eye accurately.

  30. And by the way, anyone is really surprised that Goal published a post talking about Yaya being unsettled? They are too creative to miss this chance after he was benched for this game.

    I still have enough belief that he is smart enough to know his own interest. So I am still certain, he is here to stay.

    1. Depending, of course, on what he believes his own interest to be. If it’s titles, Barça seems like the place to be; if it’s money, then England is probably a better bet (though tax rates are changing rapidly, so I’m not sure how true that is); if it’s playing with his brother, obviously England; if it’s playing time, then I’m not sure.

    2. Exactly. Thats why I dont bother thinking about it. He is a Barcelona player now. Great. When he changes his mind, we will deal with it in due time.

    3. Agree with Isaiah.

      I don’t understand what Pep is thinking. Is he trying to make a all-homegrown players team? I don’t get it. I don’t see the possibility of Busquets reaching the level of Yaya even in 4 years. I don’t know, but I hope it works out… I just love Yaya too mucho, tooo damn muchooo. I’d rather lose Keita than Yaya…

  31. Reading this stuff about the Yaya being unhappy is very concerning, when Pep first came he seemed to prefer Keita and now he is pushing Busquets. I hope there is some reason for this and that Pep can play Yaya more often because he is still young and could dominate the midfield for years to come.

    I don’t like busquets very much, he tends to get to fancy for no reason.

  32. Isn’t the reason of Yaya’s situation because of African’s World Cup?
    I mean, the reason for me that Busi is getting more play time is because he will have to step up for the absence of Yaya and Keita in Jan-Feb so he needs to mature FAST!
    I feel for Yaya and his cut in his play but to me that’s the more reasonable approach. Keita is more of a box to box dude, Yaya could also play that way but his presence as a DM is much more prominent than Keitee’s. So, if we rely sooo much on Yaya as our midfield bodyguard well get screweeeeed in Jan-Feb.
    Maybe when he is done with Africa’s Cup he’ll be back FULL TIME and kicking asss

    I hope Laporta, Pep, Txiki, Yaya and Yaya’s manager see it that way and agrees with it.

    1. Hopefully we dont end up in a situation where Yaya decides to leave and we are left with Busquets as the first choice DM. Pep has his plan but when a player’s ego is involved you never know what might happen.

      Busquets will probably be a great DM in years to come but with him on the field there is most times an uneasy feeling.

      This is where Pep’s skills as a motivator come into play. Keeping Yaya content with decreased playing time until after the ACN while ensuring Busquets gets enough experience to cover him for that period is going to be very challenging

    2. I agree i hope we don’t get rid of Yaya just by looking how solid that dude is when he came in. Actually and honestly, i totally forgot that we were playing with 10-men or didn’t feel like it, i thought we were going to have to play more in our half -it happen for maybe 10min- but overall we dominated the second half with 10.

  33. What an exciting and tense game! I was lucky enough to watch el Classico at a Los Angeles bar filled with Barca fans where the tension and excitement were palpable throughout this match. Of course we would have loved a goal filled romp, but a single goal lead may have been the most exciting as the crowd jumped and cheered at every beautiful tackle from Pigue and at every Madrid-crushing stop from Puyol.

    At the start of the match I must admit I was surprised that the Yaya was not starting. For such an important match, I really expected Guardiola to play his most reliable and dominating defensive midfielder. Instead we got Busquets, who has always been inconsistent. I can maybe understand that after his great play against Inter that Busquets might look enticing, but a single glance at the Yaya should have made it obvious who to start. Many around me at the bar made the same comments at the start of the game.

    And beyond Busquets inconsistencies and his poor passing (for which he was not the only culprit), Busquets has always struck me as a cheap player. By “cheap” I mean that he often makes desperate, unnecessary, and unproductive moves when things are not going well for him. On Busquets inconsistent and bad days, he begins to flagrantly foul more, lunging at the ball when he is beat. He’s not the only Barca player who plays cheap at times — yes, I am looking at you two, Alves and Marquez — but that is no excuse for that type of play. The second yellow card exemplifies why this type of play is so dangerous, especially against such evenly matched opponents.

    And Madrid was definitely a worthy opponent for Barcelona. As previously mentioned, they controlled the lines extremely well during the first half and their speed on counter-attacks was impressive. As amazing as Puyol played, he was beat by C.Ronaldo’s speed a few times. And Madrid definitely made Valdes work, requiring a couple of good saves in the first half.

    Thanks to Alves for finally shaking off his errant crosses and connecting with Ibrahimovic. After watching a first half filled with mis-fired crosses from Alves, I was beginning to despair that we would get anything useful out of the fiesty Brazilian. Until that goal, it was tough to decide who infuriated me more, Alves with his crosses or Henry with his out of form play.

    El Classico was a great win, but I feel that there is still more room for improvement. We need to be tighter on our passes and controlling our lines. Madrid is good enough that if we don’t improve our game they could take the next El Classico. And when we meet Chelsea in Champions league, which I am assuming we will, Chelsea will be hell-bent on revenge and are currently in top form, so we won’t be able to afford sloppy passes and cheap play.

    I can’t wait to see how it all plays out . . .

  34. Guys, give the boys a break ! What I was watching was a team that gave every ounce of effort it had in a game where skill wasn’t nearly enough given the will to win of the opposition. They came determined to avenge last season, they got their tactics right in the first half, they have some of the best footballers in the world, they had the luxury of letting us come at them and hitting us and yet we handled it.

    At the heart of this was our threesome – Xavi, Iniesta and Messi who gave everything and showed world class skills throughout in not losing the ball in ridiculously hopeless situations in what was a congested midfield. Madrid had nobody of the class of any of them. Watch the corner we got in the 90th minute involving the three and tell me we aren’t privileged to be watching this team of ours.

    To me there are some games where you need to be counted and this was one. No, we didn’t have it all our own way or score a hatful of goals but don’t underestimate the effort or the skill in our achievement yesterday.

    Having said all that a couple of niggles.

    1. final confirmation for me that something is wrong with Yaya and Pep. You don’t put out your second string DM in a game like this ( although I didn’t think Busi was as bad as most of you seem to).

    2. Henry needs time to get back to to his best. He has lost a yard but I like the width and experience he gives us . I thought he was also unfortunate with a couple of the offside decisions.

    3. Keita, whatever his plusses, isn’t really up to scratch as a passer in our midfield. No cleverness, no weighting of passes. Not saying he shouldn’t play at times but it weakens our passing game and gives Xavi more to do.

    However, if we can’t enjoy the week we’ve had what’s wrong with us?

  35. i dont really think that the reason for pep not playing yaya
    is because he watns to groom busi..
    there has to be more than that..
    yaya is only going to be gone for ONE MONTH, not a year..
    who in his right frame of mind would put busi over yaya?

    and yes ramzi, villa or silva would be perfect as they can play at
    different positions…but i prefer villa though as he can play striker as well..and can score shit loads of goals..

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