The Match No One Cares About: Benfica – Barcelona

I settle into my desk chair this morning, all ready to get to work on things (or at least that’s what we’ll tell my boss), and I’m confronted with a question from a coworker: “Man, Cesc should win an Oscar, shouldn’t he?” I suppose that was inevitab

le, but besides it not having been an Oscar-worthy performance (not even a Golden Globe, people!), it’s somewhat boring to talk about. It was a harsh call, but one that seems inevitable in the replays. An off-the-ball incident that was probably seen from behind by a linesman or from an equally bad angle by the fourth official. It probably looked like headbutt aggression out of the corner of the eye. Doesn’t justify Cesc’s poor attempt at channeling Sergio Busquets, but it also struck me that Medel lost his head and invited a bit of that down upon himself; I don’t think it should have been a red, for what that’s worth, but certainly a yellow.

So it’s a question of “oh look divers” and “oh look calls going your way” when it should be “Mateu Lahoz is a freakin’ bad ref.” Sevilla can feel free to be upset about his performance, but it’s not like he was one-sided in his terribleness. At least five times he refused to call obvious fouls. Then a similar play moments later would result in a yellow. But it’s not a question of Barça getting calls or not; as Aupa Submarino mentioned on Twitter, “It is always funny when supporters of big two argue they dont get the calls at all. ” Sure, we do get some calls. No doubt about it, but often that is the cult of the superstar, not a question of shirt color. How could Messi not have gotten around that guy? Because that guy must have fouled him. We’ll call that. Mascherano flies in, obviously got the ball first, he’s Mascherano! We won’t call that. Monchi’s Men makes a similar point.

And now that we have a match on our hands tomorrow in the Champions League, we’re focused on whether or not Cesc was hit in the face or not instead of looking forward to a tough trip to Portugal. Benfica is coming off a 1-2 win at Paços de Ferreira on Friday, Lima having scored a brace in their comeback win. That put them tied top of the table with Porto with 11 points from 5 matches. Oscar Cardozo leads their scoring with 4 while Lima and Rodrigo each have 3; poor old Nolito, once a darling of the youth team but unable to break in permanently to the first team, has scored once so far this year.

Benfica drew 0-0 at Celtic on CL Matchday 1, so they’re tied 2nd in the group and are no doubt looking to get their home campaign off to a flying start against the obvious group favorites. Given that Barcelona has an extremely tough weekend match ahead, there could be a moment when the players are looking ahead rather than at the team right in front of them. Benfica could very well steal a march on the squad, especially if Tito introduces rotations again and the team isn’t communicating especially effectively.

A win isn’t vital for Barça, but a loss wouldn’t be a particularly great outcome; a draw would be acceptable and would likely preserve the top spot for FCB given that Celtic is traveling to Moscow and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a home win or a draw. What I hope to see is more attacking verve from Barça like I saw in the opening exchanges against Sevilla. Messi was really working, really pushing for that early goal and it rocked Sevilla back a little bit. The work rate was phenomenal not only from the little Argentine, but from the rest of the squad.

Then the first goal happened in one of those weird flukey ways where everyone goes “and that is cleared…wait what the…” The team reacted by possessing more (partly because of Sevilla) and then the second goal happened (hi, Busi!) and suddenly that abyss appeared. A first loss? A shutout? Fortunately the work rate never truly slowed, though Messi did turn into hyper ballhog Messi for a few minutes in there before going all pass master on the things. With Puyol, Iniesta, and Adrian back, the team has more depth than it did, though Thiago’s ligament injury seems him out for a while.

I have nothing but love for that guy (though I accidentally sold him in FIFA13 by someone meeting the outrageous counteroffer I made on a lark–fortunately he rejected their contract offer; phew!), but Thiago is simply not as good as Iniesta, so while I don’t want to make such a trade ever, I’m happier to have Andresito back than I am sad that Thiago is out for a bit. Hopefully he can come back stronger than ever and totally make an ass out of me by winning the Balon d’Or like 8 times in one year. I dunno what that means either, actually, but there it is.

It would be somewhat surprising to see both Puyol and Iniesta get significant minutes just coming off of medium-term injuries, but I really want to see them get some minutes. While finishing first in the Champions League group is probably extremely important down the road, I will always prize a clasico over anything else, so I would gladly sacrifice 3 points tomorrow for 3 points on Sunday. Fortunately, I don’t think we’ll have to do anything of the sort simply because that’s not how sports work.

Remember Pablo Aimar? He once did this and almost pulled it off. He also did this (who’s that guy in the #24? And what about that #4?). Granted, those were a few years ago, but he’s still a guy that you can look and go “daaamn” when he does that unexpected, creative thing. Hampered by injuries, if memory serves, he was such a talent that it almost didn’t matter. He was still sublime much of the time. He’s been with Benfica since 2008-09 and has made, if Wikipedia serves, 159 appearances in that time. Pretty good numbers, really.

Basically, this is going to be a tough match and I see us drawing it as we work toward full fitness for Sunday’s match. Focus will be key and no doubt Tito will screech bloody freakin’ murder at everyone who doesn’t focus (as will Puyol), but I think that Benfica is good enough to get a draw at home against us.

Official Prediction: 2-2. Some goals by some people, including Pedro and Messi. Nolito grabs one late to equalize.Rich Text AreaToolbarBold (Ctrl + B)Italic (Ctrl + I)Strikethrough (Alt + Shift + D)Unordered list (Alt + Shift + U)Ordered list (Alt + Shift + O)Blockquote (Alt + Shift + Q)Align Left (Alt + Shift + L)Align Center (Alt + Shift + C)Align Right (Alt + Shift + R)Insert/edit link (Alt + Shift + A)Unlink (Alt + Shift + S)Insert More Tag (Alt + Shift + T)Toggle spellchecker (Alt + Shift + N)▼
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I settle into my desk chair this morning, all ready to get to work on things (or at least that’s what we’ll tell my boss), and I’m confronted with a question from a coworker: “Man, Cesc should win an Oscar, shouldn’t he?” I suppose that was inevitable, but besides it not having been an Oscar-worthy performance (not even a Golden Globe, people!), it’s somewhat boring to talk about. It was a harsh call, but one that seems inevitable in the replays. An off-the-ball incident that was probably seen from behind by a linesman or from an equally bad angle by the fourth official. It probably looked like headbutt aggression out of the corner of the eye. Doesn’t justify Cesc’s poor attempt at channeling Sergio Busquets, but it also struck me that Medel lost his head and invited a bit of that down upon himself; I don’t think it should have been a red, for what that’s worth, but certainly a yellow.
So it’s a question of “oh look divers” and “oh look calls going your way” when it should be “Mateu Lahoz is a freakin’ bad ref.” Sevilla can feel free to be upset about his performance, but it’s not like he was one-sided in his terribleness. At least five times he refused to call obvious fouls. Then a similar play moments later would result in a yellow. But it’s not a question of Barça getting calls or not; as Aupa Submarino mentioned on Twitter, “It is always funny when supporters of big two argue they dont get the calls at all. ” Sure, we do get some calls. No doubt about it, but often that is the cult of the superstar, not a question of shirt color. How could Messi not have gotten around that guy? Because that guy must have fouled him. We’ll call that. Mascherano flies in, obviously got the ball first, he’s Mascherano! We won’t call that. Monchi’s Men makes a similar point.

And now that we have a match on our hands tomorrow in the Champions League, we’re focused on whether or not Cesc was hit in the face or not instead of looking forward to a tough trip to Portugal. Benfica is coming off a 1-2 win at Paços de Ferreira on Friday, Lima having scored a brace in their comeback win. That put them tied top of the table with Porto with 11 points from 5 matches. Oscar Cardozo leads their scoring with 4 while Lima and Rodrigo each have 3; poor old Nolito, once a darling of the youth team but unable to break in permanently to the first team, has scored once so far this year.
Benfica drew 0-0 at Celtic on CL Matchday 1, so they’re tied 2nd in the group and are no doubt looking to get their home campaign off to a flying start against the obvious group favorites. Given that Barcelona has an extremely tough weekend match ahead, there could be a moment when the players are looking ahead rather than at the team right in front of them. Benfica could very well steal a march on the squad, especially if Tito introduces rotations again and the team isn’t communicating especially effectively.
A win isn’t vital for Barça, but a loss wouldn’t be a particularly great outcome; a draw would be acceptable and would likely preserve the top spot for FCB given that Celtic is traveling to Moscow and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a home win or a draw. What I hope to see is more attacking verve from Barça like I saw in the opening exchanges against Sevilla. Messi was really working, really pushing for that early goal and it rocked Sevilla back a little bit. The work rate was phenomenal not only from the little Argentine, but from the rest of the squad.
Then the first goal happened in one of those weird flukey ways where everyone goes “and that is cleared…wait what the…” The team reacted by possessing more (partly because of Sevilla) and then the second goal happened (hi, Busi!) and suddenly that abyss appeared. A first loss? A shutout? Fortunately the work rate never truly slowed, though Messi did turn into hyper ballhog Messi for a few minutes in there before going all pass master on the things. With Puyol, Iniesta, and Adrian back, the team has more depth than it did, though Thiago’s ligament injury seems him out for a while.
I have nothing but love for that guy (though I accidentally sold him in FIFA13 by someone meeting the outrageous counteroffer I made on a lark–fortunately he rejected their contract offer; phew!), but Thiago is simply not as good as Iniesta, so while I don’t want to make such a trade ever, I’m happier to have Andresito back than I am sad that Thiago is out for a bit. Hopefully he can come back stronger than ever and totally make an ass out of me by winning the Balon d’Or like 8 times in one year. I dunno what that means either, actually, but there it is.
It would be somewhat surprising to see both Puyol and Iniesta get significant minutes just coming off of medium-term injuries, but I really want to see them get some minutes. While finishing first in the Champions League group is probably extremely important down the road, I will always prize a clasico over anything else, so I would gladly sacrifice 3 points tomorrow for 3 points on Sunday. Fortunately, I don’t think we’ll have to do anything of the sort simply because that’s not how sports work.
Remember Pablo Aimar? He once did this and almost pulled it off. He also did this (who’s that guy in the #24? And what about that #4?). Granted, those were a few years ago, but he’s still a guy that you can look and go “daaamn” when he does that unexpected, creative thing. Hampered by injuries, if memory serves, he was such a talent that it almost didn’t matter. He was still sublime much of the time. He’s been with Benfica since 2008-09 and has made, if Wikipedia serves, 159 appearances in that time. Pretty good numbers, really.
Basically, this is going to be a tough match and I see us drawing it as we work toward full fitness for Sunday’s match. Focus will be key and no doubt Tito will screech bloody freakin’ murder at everyone who doesn’t focus (as will Puyol), but I think that Benfica is good enough to get a draw at home against us.
Official Prediction: 2-2. Some goals by some people, including Pedro and Messi. Nolito grabs one late to equalize.
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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.

239 Comments

  1. Dave
    October 2, 2012

    Main thing in the Clasico is the Mid field is able to monopolize possession in Mf and dictate the tempo.Prevent it being open like the 2nd leg of the Super cup.

    Valdes

    Alves Song Masch Alba
    Busi
    Xavi Iniesta

    Pedro Messi ?

    • mom4
      October 2, 2012

      VV
      Alves, Song, Masch, Alba
      Busi, Cesc
      Messi, Xavi, Iniesta
      Villa

      Just kidding! Kind of 😉 Any word on Pique?

    • elacule
      October 2, 2012

      i kinda like it.

    • _Lily
      October 2, 2012

      We planning to give Madrid a one man advantage from the start? 😛

  2. mom4
    October 2, 2012

    Geez, can’t understand Alexis’ Spanish at all.

  3. lea_terzi
    October 2, 2012

    If I’m not mistaken, until the 78th minute this was one of our best matches of the season? The awakening of Alexis (who needs a shooting practice badly), the scoring form of Fabregas, Messi much sharper than I’ve seen him so far this season, team defense, movement, and a proper backline. And then everything happened at once. Anims Capita!

    • Jim
      October 2, 2012

      We certainly controlled the match well.

    • mom4
      October 2, 2012

      Now Messi can go after assist records.

    • Momo
      October 2, 2012

      Really??? I sure hope so.

      Although I am 90% sure it was his forearm/elbow from the countless times I’ve seen the replay.

  4. October 2, 2012

    One positive for clasico is madrid has been really poor away from home. But messi needs to sharpen a lot.

  5. Momo
    October 2, 2012

    That was a fantastic performance from the team. The usage of alexis on the wing as an outlet for counters was a brilliant move by tito.

    Fabregas looked as good as he ever has for us. I can see him getting 20 goals this season if he settles into this rythym.

    Busi was SUPERB, the man was everywhere. I think people don’t appreciate just how tireless he is, the man works non-stop. Covering for both Alba and Alves now, and his consistency in terms of performance is at xavi and messi levels now. Should be up for the Ballon’dor this year IMO.

    His red card was so stupid I’m not even going to address it.

    On the Puyol injury: FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU*K

    People blaming him for going all out for that header are just talking non sense. It’s who he is as a player, always a 100% no matter what the score. If he wasn’t like that he wouldn’t be Puyol. It’s a terrible, tragic accident that is potentially season altering for the team. That’s all it is. Puyol didn’t let anyone down.

    Also Tito needs to figure out this CB business ASAP, and IMO Song is not a center back.

    • Momo
      October 2, 2012

      Also worth noting that both Pique and Puyol got injured attacking in the opponents box. Weird…

  6. barca96
    October 2, 2012

    *wipes tears *

    Why did it have to be Puyol?

    Just a few moments earlier I was hoping that Tito would take Puyol or Busi out to rest one of them because they’re both key players and especially after Busi got a knee injury scare when he landed awkwardly.

    It was nice to see Messi getting all excited after the match to see Aimar. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen him getting friendly with an opponent player.

    If I’m not mistaken many years ago he said in an interview that Aimar was his idol and not Maradona.

  7. barca96
    October 2, 2012

    I was hoping that the player’s wouldn’t be too distraught by Puyol’s injury to closed out the match.

  8. Xavi6
    October 2, 2012

    those last 15 minutes screwed the whole match for me .
    We are getting unusual injuries , and with a thin squad , things are going much worse.
    We need a CB urgently , not buying a CB was a very big error .

    • _Lily
      October 2, 2012

      We actually don’t have such a thin squad these days – once Muniesa recovers, numbers 1-25 will all be taken up. Granted, several of those rarely see the pitch, but still, most either are used or will be used once they’ve recovered from injury.

      That said, I question the decision, too, but right now, we officially have Puyol, Pique, Mascherano, Bartra, Muniesa, Abidal, Song, and Fontas who can play as CBs. Unfortunately, Puyol has fallen victim to two freak injuries, Pique has been injured, Muniesa and Fontas are injured, and Abidal is still recovering from cancer. I’m not sure why Tito doesn’t trust Bartra as much as he trusts Montoya – maybe because there’s no Puyol, Pique, or Abidal for him to play with right now – but regardless, in four months we may have more CBs than we know what to do with. (Which will be a welcome change.)

      I do think that they need to stop counting on Puyol, though. I don’t mean that in a “make him retire” or “stop playing him” way, of course – I just mean that the club shouldn’t make the assumption that Puyol will be healthy for the entire season. He’s getting older, and while he’s still a great defender, the wear and tear is starting to take a toll on his body, and as a result he’s spending more time injured.

    • K_legit in Oz
      October 2, 2012

      Fontas is not injured

    • _Lily
      October 3, 2012

      Isn’t he? I thought I remembered something happening over the summer that was going to have him out for awhile. Huh. I must be misremembering.

    • Xavi6
      October 3, 2012

      These 25 players include many players you can’t count in to be in your first XI
      Now , we don’t have any viable CBs except for Bartra . Muniesa , Fontas are not entrusted to play in Barca . and Abidal is sick , while Pique and Puyol are injured .

    • _Lily
      October 3, 2012

      “Many” is an exaggeration, IMO – 18 of them have started a fair number of games for the club already, Alba is clearly a starting-XI signing, Montoya has proved himself, and IMO both Bartra and Muniesa will when they can. Even if you don’t include Muniesa, that’s 21 of 25.

      Not sure why you listed out all the ailments facing our CBs right now, since I already did. ?

  9. TITO
    October 2, 2012

    Last season it was our forward line, this season is our back line, i can only assume what disaster will hit us the next season.

  10. Dave
    October 2, 2012

    Anyone got a link to download Revista

  11. October 2, 2012

    Puyol will be out for 6 weeks, the club says. I suspect he will be back sooner. No surgery required, which means that there must not have been a lot of collateral damage.

    I’d like to take this opportunity to remind people that this club has, in all of the competitive matches it has played, only drawn once. The rest of the matches it has won, and it has won them mostly without Puyol. The quality of this club and its players should be such that it can survive the loss of any player. If that isn’t the case, then we need new players, which I don’t believe that we do.

    It sucks that Puyol is having such a run of luck. But I have full confidence in this group to take care of business in a way that will continue the strong start to the season. Do I believe that this club will win every match? No. But I think that there is a nucleus for greatness there. I confess that Vilanova surprised me in the way that he has this club playing, and it isn’t even approaching its best yet, need I remind people.

    No crisis, no problem, no worry. Even if we lose on the weekend, which I don’t believe we will, we still come out with a 5-point lead.

    No Puyol for 6 weeks? Okay. Now let’s do this.

    6 weeks, by the by, puts Puyol back in mid-November. If you look at the calendar (yes, I have), there isn’t anyone that we can’t take care of with the players that we have. But I believe that to be the case for the rest of this season. Here’s the list:

    EE, Depor, Celtic, Rayo, Celta, Celtic, Mallorca, Zaragoza, Spartak, Levante. This takes us up to the first week of December, when we face a damaged, down on its luck Athletic Bilbao. Is anybody worried?

    Pique should be back very soon after El Clasic, and I suspect that Bartra will be getting some time, particularly if the appeal of the Busquets red doesn’t come out successfully, and Song or Mascherano have to move up into the DM slot for the next two CL matches. Cross that bridge when we come to it, but I’m perfectly confident going into battle with any combination of back line players that we have, because as long as the entire team does its job, no worries. People are talking crisis, etc, but recall that RM only got two of its goals thanks to rather egregious errors, NOT open play. Did they have chances? Yes. So did we.

    Now, let’s spare every good thought that we have to send healing powers our Capita’s way, because he could use some love …. and luck.

    • Momo
      October 3, 2012

      Thanks for the uplifting comment. Really put things into perspective.

    • Blau-Grenade
      October 3, 2012

      I would really like to see Bartra. He looked good during pre-season. Would be great to see him on the field in the league.

  12. October 2, 2012

    Dang it! I just feel sad for Puyi. He’s been injured too many times, and this is just unfair and discouraging to a competitive player like him. Wishing Puyi a speedy and healthy recovery.

    Seemed like we played well in this game, so that’s encouraging for the clasico 😀 I’m still excited for this weekend’s game for some reasons. Since we have way too many injuries, the footy gods should grant us an awesome win this weekend.

  13. October 2, 2012

    This season it looks like our defense is the cursed one. What Tito needs to do after the Clasico is to give Bartra playing time regularly. We have to make sure he can do the job partially towards the end of the season.

  14. Messiah10
    October 2, 2012

    1st of all, my heart goes out to Puyi. Man, that was not pretty to watch. It sent shivers down my spine. I know we’ll do everything we can to take care of him. Best wishes.

    2nd of all, I’ve not seen so many bad passes in one game by Barca in a while. Masch takes the cake for me. He was pinging bad balls left and right. We’re actually lucky to have gotten out of the 1st half not being down. A lot of errant passes and sloppiness at the back. I was pretty worried. We’ll need to be much more crisp for EE. They won’t let us get away with the bad balls out of the back and cheap turnovers in our half. It was a weird game. We looked unbelievably sharp a lot of the game and unbelievably stupid in short bursts. That said, we won! 🙂

    • nzm
      October 3, 2012

      Just to put a little perspective on your Masch lost ball statistic:

      Currently, the stats on Messi (not including last night’s Benfica match), show that Messi has lost:
      76 balls in 6 La Liga games (over 12 per game)
      and 16 balls in the CL game vs. Spartak.

      http://www.fcbarcelona.com/football/first-team/staff/players/messi/stats

      Masch has lost 16 balls in 6 La Liga games and 8 in 2 CL games. He has also recovered 47 La Liga balls and 25 CL balls. 🙂

    • October 3, 2012

      Dang, that’s funny. Shows what we think we see vs what we actually see.

    • ooga aga
      October 3, 2012

      comparing the lost-ball stats of a penetrating-dribbler-striker, and a central defender, makes no sense to me. you EXPECT the former to lose many more balls, because of the nature of his job.

      your point that masch doesnt lose the ball much is still a good one.

    • Jim
      October 3, 2012

      It’s certainly not his worst fault and I’m one of his biggest critics here but there is as ooga aga says little point in comparing the two.

    • nzm
      October 3, 2012

      Uh no – Messi losing the ball results in more danger than Masch losing the ball. I can’t recall Masch losing the ball and the opposition scoring, but I can recall Messi losing the ball and Chelsea scoring. And that was just one instance where Messi losing the ball has set panic and disarray through the team.

    • ooga aga
      October 3, 2012

      thats simply anecdotal. messi loses the ball usually well down field, with the entire team behind him.

      respectfully disagree.

    • ooga aga
      October 3, 2012

      and again, when you are a forward, you take people on…thats what you do…and no forward beats defenders every time. you inevitable lose the ball and it’s part of the position.

    • nzm
      October 3, 2012

      I’ll add to that and say that most of Masch’s lost balls are the long passes to the forwards which don’t quite stick at times, or go out way up in the opposition’s half. Not many are short passes which he loses – except for the one in the Benfica match.

    • nzm
      October 3, 2012

      Anecdotal? No, it’s observational.

      Better watch next time Messi loses the ball around halfway then, and see the scrambling which happens.

    • October 3, 2012

      nzm, FTW.

  15. October 2, 2012

    Big Question:

    Fabregas has been excellent in last couple of matches. Sanchez scored a goal last night. But the moment Iniesta came in we saw the difference in control in the midfield. So my question is how are we going to start in Clasico. I do believe Iniesta, xavi and Busq in midfield is a must. That put Cesc in a difficult position. The only role he can play then is the false 9, but will Messi agree?

    Hell of a selection problem there.

    As far as defense is considered there is no selection issue at all.

  16. October 2, 2012

    Just catching up on today’s CL results, and I noticed that BATE Borisov hlebbed Bayern Munich 3-1. Then I noticed that Hleb actually plays for BATE Borisov now! Be afraid. Be very afraid! 😈

    • ooga aga
      October 2, 2012

      no worries, the earliest we could possibly face BATE is….oh no, hlebuary!!!! aaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!!

    • October 2, 2012

      AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!

    • swamidigital
      October 3, 2012

      Don’t worry we can trot out the B-teamers again to put on a clinic of how Barcelona is supposed to play football!

  17. October 3, 2012

    What is the status of Pique injury?

    He was supposed to miss out for 2-3 weeks, but then shouldn’t he be available now?

    • n0n0trly
      October 3, 2012

      If you assume 2-3 weeks from the day they announced it, 2 weeks would be the 4th, and 3 would be the 11th. I’m guessing it’s going to be closer to 3 weeks, which is why he isn’t being mentioned yet.

    • Messiah10
      October 3, 2012

      Thanks for sharing that. I saw them greet each other right before FSC ended the broadcast. I was hoping to see what happened and if they exchanged shirts. It was cool to read that Aiymar is Messi’s childhood idol. He is quite a player.

  18. Gogah
    October 3, 2012

    There was no need to come flying in Tarzan style like that.
    Not only are we up 2-0 in their house, its towards the end of the game and He has also only JUST come back from yet another injury.
    I love the shit out of you Puyol, I really do, but you are much more valuable on the pitch / bench rather than on the treatment table.
    Anims.

    • October 3, 2012

      These guys are not going to play for the fear of injury, they play for the sheer joy of it. So don’t ask him why. He can’t help it, he is PUYOL.

      Saw this quote on Totalbarca:

      “Tomorrow they will announce that Puyol will be out for 10 months. On Thursday it will be three months; Friday down to one. On Saturday he will be ‘doubtful’. On Sunday he will play.”

  19. barca96
    October 3, 2012

    Gold comment from poster on a Guardian piece;

    Yazalde
    3 October 2012 5:30AM
    Ah, Madrid and Mourinho, never too far away from an implosion…

    This week it would appear old Luso-Hispanic frictions have come to the fore.

    Check this article in El Pais, if you can read Spanish.

    Otherwise, it simply states that the Spanish players have been wary of the power of Mourinho and his fellow country men. On excerpt of the article goes as far as saying that if Portugal had beaten Spain in the Euros there would have been a coup d’etat. The Spanish players have been constantly told to stop ‘rocking the boat’ by Florentino, but Mou can not help himself and has now managed to push the in-betweeners (Kaka, Ozil, Benzema and Higuain) to the Spanish corner.

    The news stems from the fact Ramos was busted wearing the # 10 shirt of Ozil (underneath his own # 4) during the Depor game. His intention was to take off the # 4 in the event he scored as a show of solidarity with the German. Needless to say Mourinho blasted Ramos and has been very critical of Ozil over the past 3 weeks.

    Cue in the Florentino fire truck…

    • 0speak
      October 3, 2012

      Is this really a “gold” comment? This kind of thing has been going on for a while now. Before Real’s 2nd leg victory in the Super Copa, there was a similar piece about dressing room disharmony in El Pais. The same thing happened before the Man City game, their victory in the April Classico, the 2-2 draw in January and so on.

      The tension between the Spanish & Portuguese camp will always be there. El Pais will continue to report on it. And Real will continue to perform on the pitch.

    • nzm
      October 3, 2012

      Will the last Turk in the team please shut the door behind him on the way out?

      Will Oezil go the way of Altintop and Sahin now that Modric is the new flavour?

      All this – and more – will be answered in the next thrilling episode of “The Days of Real Madrid”.

    • _Lily
      October 3, 2012

      It’s pretty clear that Casillas has had some tension with Mourinho for a long time, probably because Casillas actually has some semblance of a moral compass and cares deeply about the image of the club. Both of these qualities are admirable, even if I don’t think highly of his choice of club. As the club’s beloved captain, he also actually has some power.

      So, of course, he clashes with scheming, classless, unprincipled Mourinho, who wants all the power and all the trophies so he can move on and bother some other club.

      And Ramos has a temper and likes causing trouble.

      It’s really nothing new.

  20. October 3, 2012

    Official word on Puyol is 8 weeks. I still don’t think it will be that long. Pique went to the medicos and volunteered to take painkillers to play on Sunday. I’m sure the medicos rightly said “No, ya big dummy.” Ridiculous.

    –After a lengthy injury layoff, why do I always forget how brilliant Iniesta is?

    –Busquets was stunning, by the by. So was Messi. One moment in particular stands out, when the midfield loses the ball, and he gets it back. It’s like he’s at 10x speed, while the Benfica attacker was in slow-motion. When he does that, it is simply impossible to make anything happen in midfield. He’s so quick, and skilled with his feet.

    • nzm
      October 3, 2012

      That Messi recovery happened so quickly that the Benfica player hasn’t yet realised how the ball was taken off him. 😉

  21. alpinegroove
    October 3, 2012

    The problem with Song playing as a defender is not only his playing as a defender. That also makes him unavailable to give Busquets some time off, especially now that Thiago is out as well.
    I believe that Tito knew for a while now that Puyol was going to be ready for the Clasico, and he probably never meant for Song to start as a defender in that game.

    He said the following after the match yesterday:

    “Siempre hemos tenido problemas con los centrales. Nos encontramos con pocos efectivos. Pero tenemos a Bartra.”

    “We have always had problems with the central defenders…We are left with few troops…But we have Bartra.”

    No mention of Song here.

    • October 3, 2012

      True, because Song is considered the incumbent now, without Pique or Puyol. That’s why he was the sub when Puyol went off vs Benfica.

  22. alpinegroove
    October 3, 2012

    More from Tito on the defense, Bartra, and Pique:

    “We have always had problems with the central defenders. We tried to sign over the summer because we are always faced with few troops. That requires you to retrain players…Mascherano played 14 consecutive games, and we could give him any rest. We hope to get Pique back, I wouldn’t say right now but for the Clasico. And if he is not ready for the Clasico, we hope that for later on. Additionally, we have Bartra, who will get minutes.”

    • mei
      October 3, 2012

      Don’t know how accurate this article is. I can however stress that the greek civil war is hardly openly discussed and most people don’t know why/how it happened and who took part in it.
      At least that striking contrast the article mentions is false.

    • October 3, 2012

      That article is mostly opinion piece, with some research. And it is excellent, particularly in describing the larger arc of events that are coming to their terminus in Spain.

  23. Bill
    October 3, 2012

    I love Puyol, but can’t help being mad at him for both injuries this season. They both were as a result of completely unnecessary actions. So the following sentiments are as a result of my frustration for not having him in an important upcoming game.

    On the first injury, we were leading, he had just come back from a long layoff, and there he was by the side line diving in kicking and fighting for a ball, with a player who wasn’t going anywhere.

    Yesterday, again, we were leading, the game was pretty much over, and there he is, not just going into the box, but jumping recklessly fighting for that ball.

    Sorry, but those two actions were stupid. Puyol being Puyol is no excuse for being an idiot. It would be different if those actions were as a result of him doing what the team relies on him to do, you know, stopping dangerous attacks by being at the right place at the right time.

    A player of Puyol’s experience should be wise enough to know how to play within himself for a few games, getting into the groove first and getting his legs back under him, before he starts pushing the limits. That’s not saying that he shouldn’t give his all for the team, but he should know when taking risks is necessary and when it is not.

    • Jim
      October 3, 2012

      He has flown in like that hundreds of times without ill effects. It was just bad luck that the defender made a back for him and he flipped over. If he’s fit o play he’s fit to play. Personally, I’d have subbed him at least ten minutes before it happened.

    • Messiah10
      October 3, 2012

      I was surprised to see him start TBH. I figured he may get 20-30 minutes to get him a run in like Iniesta for Clasico. Tito probably thought Puyi needed a full game to get into game shape for the Clasico. It’s just a freak thing. I have no frustration at Puyi because if he scores that header, we are 3 nil up instead of 2 nil. If Fica pulled 1 back at 2 nil, it would have been a tense ending to the game. Puyi makes that run on most corners. How many times has he done that? Hundreds. It’s unfortunate, but that’s how our Capitan plays and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Visa Puyol, Visca Barca!

    • October 3, 2012

      Sorry, but that’s how Puyol plays. The qualities that make him the beating heart of this club also make him hell bent for leather. You can’t have one without having the other. Puyol doesn’t have the skills or pace that he used to have. “Playing within himself” is a difficult thing to govern, and control. Which end do you do it at? Does playing within yourself lead to goals, or men getting behind you? Good questions.

      Blaming Puyol’s lack of restraint for his injury is like blaming the sun for rising. It’s what he does, and will always be what he does, until he can’t do it any longer. It’s like when Guardiola yelled at Sanchez for not thinking about his fragile hamstring in that one match. Sanchez’ game is fast and dynamic. If he isn’t playing that way, he might as well not play.

      That Puyol injury is one of the breaks of the game, but for me, I just can’t agree with the “he should have known better” talk. When the match starts, he is On. And he isn’t Off until the match is over, or he comes off the pitch. You can certainly ask yourself why Vilanova decided to play him that long, and spark interesting debate. But you just can’t blame Puyol for being Puyol. I also thought the Benfica player was being kind of an ass, but they were for most of the last half-hour of the match, once it was clear that they were done for.

    • Gogah
      October 3, 2012

      Ok, I’ll bite.
      First of all no one would be dumb enough to ask Puyol to not be puyol. We love him for all-in-on-forever-attitude. But the heart that he shows irrespective of the moment is the main reason he is injured today.
      I don’t know about anyone else, but I am asking him to only exercise a little bit of intelligence in making decisions, even if that decision is holding back, which is actually a luxury that he has earned / been given by the fans and the club. Just his sole presence does wonders for the team’s morale and focus. To compare, why has the club evolved messi’s contributions on the field to a more conservative approach (lesser pressing/tackling/harrowing duties)? Precisely so that all his energy is saved up for what he does best.
      Attack.
      And what has that resulted in. Crazy 73 goal seasons and what not. Puyol has nothing to prove. We are not asking puyol to not be puyol. We are only asking that puyol be puyol when services of ‘puyol’ are called upon.
      There was absolutely no need for a tarzan vine swinging attack on the goal from him. We need him to guard our ship at the back. but now he’s gone, not that we can’t handle it, but this incident has also made me think of puyol’s game. Here in BFB many a time, the question of “do we want messi to be 100% 70% of the time, or the other way round” has been discussed, with mixed reactions, but mostly leaning to the latter.

      But What about puyol then?
      The guy is 34+, an absolute legend and the heart of this club, who is still so indispensable and loved.

      you are defending his 100% nature. But dont you also want his longevity, a prolonged contribution to this club? I know i do.
      Ok there could be an argument “that is selfish, puyol wants to play for himself and how can i ask him to modify his game so we can enjoy him more?” to which i can only ask in return “doesn’t the capita have the best interests of the team at heart?”

      Even in nature when animals with their cubs are starving / exhausted, they make sure to feed themselves first before attending to the babies. Its because they ‘know’ their responsibility.

    • October 3, 2012

      No, I don’t want Puyol’s longevity. I don’t care about Puyol. I want the best Puyol, and then step aside when he is no longer the best Puyol. This is true of every player in the side.

      As for Messi, look at the match he had yesterday, and those “lesser” pressing duties. Nothing happened through their midfield because Messi pressed. Those duties aren’t lesser. They are the bedrock of how our club plays.

      The Capita does have the best interests of the team at heart. That is why he plays the way that he does. It just blows me away that people would question that. You can’t ask Puyol not to be Puyol. That’s just what he does.

    • Gogah
      October 3, 2012

      sorry, i dont think you’re getting what iam saying.

    • October 3, 2012

      I do. You’re saying that Puyol should play with introspection, going Captain Caveman when required, and settling into a nice sort of “mere mortal” mode when the superhero stuff isn’t required.

      Further, that his responsibility to the team includes playing the match in a way that is aware of the situation, and keeps him healthy.

      My point is that there is no way for him to do that. It isn’t in his nature. Other athletes can dial it down a notch. Not Puyol. For Puyol, the “best interests of the team” is to play 100%, to play his absolute best all the time. That’s his work ethic.

    • Gogah
      October 4, 2012

      Are you saying that Puyol, and even you, will not regret it one bit, if Puyol does anothery stupid showcase of his enormous heart and work ethic in a needless situation that results in a career ending injury?

  24. October 3, 2012

    The NextGen game ended 5-0, a manita for the Barça babies, including two spectacular golazos right at the end. If you can find a download, I highly recommend watching it. We have some young stars in this Juvenil A team.

  25. Ryan
    October 3, 2012

    Have Malaga learned from Valencia on how to sell their best players and somehow become a better team? They’re going to make it two wins from their first ever 2 CL games, in addition to their fine form in la Liga! I still wish they had kept Cazorla, but they don’t seem to be missing him so much with Isco stepping up.

  26. Judas Pissed
    October 3, 2012

    Madrid have pasted Ajax with another hat trick from Ronaldo. I’m seriously worried about weekend now…

    • mom4
      October 3, 2012

      We are not Ajax.

    • Barcaleya
      October 3, 2012

      Haha. Don’t know why I found this funny.

      Indeed – we are NOT ajax.

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