Champions League Comments Post

Forget about the league for a moment: winning tonight will ensure that we sleep gently atop a 5 point lead with 3 matches left to play. By no means will qualification be assured, of course, but the trips to Scotland and Russia will become less foreboding. Especially if Spartak and Benfica can manage a draw (for our sake, of course–it’s 2-1 in Russia at the time of writing this).

It’s no easy task to defeat a rampant Celtic side, however. They’re coming off a 5-0 victory on Saturday against St. Mirren and they think they’re underdogs. They top the SPL table and it seems no one believes they can take a point off of Barcelona, much less nab all 3. Yes, they’ve just grabbed the SPL lead and will not relinquish it again, but there’s no Busquets (suspended), no Pique (injured), and no Puyol (injured). Who starts at DM? Who starts at CB? Song and Adriano, one imagines, but we’ll have to see if Bartra and Montoya get the nods.

This is a home match and, as such, it is virtually must-win. This is a match against a good opponent and, as such, it requires full concentration. Any lapses will be dealt with more severely than they were by Depor. The opposing defense will not rupture like a leaky dam. This is going to be tight, this is going to be tough. Celtic is here to play.

We could scream all day about history, about the last time Celtic and Barça met, about the ghost of Henrik Larsson (“I’m not dead yet!” he crows), but really, these are different teams than those. This is today and the historical anecdotes are just that: anecdotes. Play to the whistle, chicos.

By Isaiah

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


  1. Tello we want and Tito obliges. Pedrito off. Played well defensively and made a few good runs to end line, but lacking that quality in the final third for me.

  2. Liking the way referees are “favouring” Barcelona again by booking their players for a first tackle (or nothing!) yet allowing time-wasting, constant “little” fouls, bodychecks, shirtpulls,etc go unpunished…

    1. Jordi has been MOTM since the start of the match and deservedly gets the game ball. I think he was determined to atone for the own goal in the last game.
      Song was as solid a Barca DM as anyone could have been. He always seemed to be at the right place at the right time. We now have incredible depth at DM.
      Tito always makes subs at the appropriate time but it seemed Villa could have been on earlier. What’s wrong with Alexis? Jet lag?

  3. I was saying to myself how I was happy with the game, happy with the draw.
    Not really listening to the voice that said ‘but wouldn’t it show what a Champions Heart we have if we kill it? At the death?’

  4. Barca is the only team in the world which will score a goal in the final minute with the Right Full Back assisting the Left Full back.

    Total effing Football!

    What a win.

  5. WTF! WTF is this team!! I mean, how many times can a team comeback…this is crazy..not normal!..It has become like a habit.hahaha..when did Barca become known for comebacks? I have been following Barca since Romario’s time..never have I seen so many comebacks in one season in so few matches played…I don’t even get tense now days, knowing that this team will come back at the end…Ha!

  6. Final thoughts on the match:

    The game continued in the same vein as the first half…. bunched up in the middle, with neither Pedro nor Alexis taking on the wings, till Tello was introduced.

    After Tello was introduced, the wings of Celtic started to get under pressure from his runs. In the last play of the match, Tello was on the right, and the Celtic defense became lopsided. A couple of defenders were marking Villa in the middle. Jordi Alba was free to run into space and tap the ball into the goal from the Adriano cross.

    A final note on Bartra, this guy made quite a few interventions, on the counters, as the last man in the back. For me he was just outstanding, and very calming in the back.

    My MOTM – Jordi Alba, for the effort, and the overlap play provided on the left wing. He ran up and down all night, and finally for the goal, for not giving up, for the attitude.

    1. Not sure Tello had a lot to do with hat effort although it was a decent sub. However, Villla’s run took the CBs away. Great perseverance from Alba.

    2. yeah. Tello put in a cross as soon as he arrived. that itself makes other team take you serious and sometimes you are double defended, freeing space in center. Cuenca is masterful at that.

      Villa – he should start everytime. between pedro and tello for other spot.

    3. Yes, I would like to see that as well, Villa should start as a pure striker in the middle every time.

  7. Anyone living in Barcelona should head off to the Placa Catalunya for the Celtic celebrations. Yes I do mean celebrations ! They party win or lose.

  8. So, I was thinking. Maybe there’s some super-secret sponsorship deal. A sponsorship deal with a pharmaceutical company. A pharmaceutical company that manufactures heart meds. That’s my explanation and I’m sticking to it.

  9. what a match. Celtic have to be applauded because we were flat and they defended well. On top of that they werent dirty. Kudos to celtic.

    Messi was marked out of the game. Alba was outstanding.
    Alexis – What should i say. He is overrated and seems to be decision made on watching youtube videos. As somebody nicely put it he is going afellay way. Cmon take some risks. run directly. He didnt even attempt one dribble for a former winger. He has talent but needs to use it.

    1. I agree that Alexis is dangerously going the way of Affelay. Both very talented but it seems they are overawed by the superstars playing around them and trying too hard to be accepted into the group.

      Bartra played very well and it seems the fans were right. Give the kid playing time!

    2. Yeah, you have to applaud Celtic for defending well and playing clean. There were some really gutsy but clean last ditch tackles in the penalty box.

    3. I did not see a single step over from Alexis, or Pedro in the whole match. Not once did Pedro or Alexis attempt to take their defenders on the wings. That is disgraceful.

  10. I don’t think that Alexis is overrated. He just needs to get out of his own head. Forwards are streaky. That said, until he does, maybe Villa or Tello should get some starts.

    1. On the Barca website it says Samaras. It also says Samaras on It says Samaras on The replay’s suggest a Masch own goal though.

    2. It was originally given as an own goal by the official stat keeper and then he/she changed it to Samaras. The only reason I can think of is that they decided Samaras’s effort was on target.

  11. Hoping to get a ticket for the return . Could be a cracker especially if we don’t have our CBs back. European nights at Celtic Park are something else.

  12. “So, I was thinking. Maybe there’s some super-secret sponsorship deal. A sponsorship deal with a pharmaceutical company. A pharmaceutical company that manufactures heart meds. That’s my explanation and I’m sticking to it.”

    LOL!! @mom4

    Good game by Barça. Unlucky not to break the bus earlier. And Masche was unlucky to score that own goal. It is impossible to anticipate heading a ball that the player 2 inches in front of you looks like heading. He is however with two own goals quite possibly the only player ever for Barça to have a negative 2 goal count, having yet to score in the right net!

    1. Yeah I don’t blame him for the goal. Samaras is huge and he was never beating him in the air. Both he and Song’ s attempts to mark him on that set piece were poor though.

    2. I think maybe when the shot is on target it can be claimed by the striker even if it takes a huge ‘deflection’

    3. That’s correct. The official scorer decided it was on target and changed his decision from O.G. to Samaras

  13. Two Observations from this game:

    One – We didn’t move the ball fast enough maybe they are tired.
    Two – We need creative forwards. When playing against a packing-bus team our forwards need to be able to beat their man in other to creates spaces for others. It seems only Messi and sometimes Iniesta takes risk.

    1. The ball was moving fairly quickly. The problem was off the ball movement got a bit static at times. When a team keeps shape well, you have to try to drag them around. Otherwise you end up spending a lot of time playing in front of them looking for one killer ball through. Think about Iniesta’s goal, not only did the ball move so fast but players moved too.

      Also in matches like this it would be nice to see Messi drift wide at times instead of deep.

  14. Oh, and hooray for our Valencian brethren. Also we are avenged by Shakhtar. Is it OK to post this as this isn’t a LB?

  15. I wish Alexis just started taking on players like a winger stepovers and other tricks. He seems to either have poor decision making or lacking hugely in confidence which is paramount for wingers and flair players. I think last year Guardiola’s system drummed the spontaneity and invention out of his play. Additionally getting told off by Messi can’t have helped his esteem

    Hes not even stretching the play as well as Tello, he checks back, stops up. Its extremely frustrating as a fan as he seems to have the raw materials to be top class.

    Nxt season he might have Delofeu and perhaps Neymar to compete with (plus Cuenca). Does not look good for him or Dani Alves given the wages they take home

    1. Agreed. He seems to have regressed. If he doesn’t step up this season might be his last, especially if Neymar comes.

    2. He is lacking confidence but the more I watch him play with Chile the more I am convinced that he is not a winger/striker. He belongs in the middle of the pitch going at teams but that is where Messi, Iniesta, Fabregas ply their trade. Sure he loses the ball but he attacks which is more than can be said about his tentative play right now. He assisted plenty at Udinese from similar positioning. He is contributing very little on the wings. At some point he should either be played in his true position or Barca must admit they made a poor purchase.

    3. He played extremely well for Chile last week. And the week before against Madrid.

      In fact, I thought his performance vs. Madrid was his best in ages. Kept on taking on his man and actually win it. I don’t understand why he lost that confidence again.

  16. Apparently Xavi made 177 passes today – record in the history of the Champions League

    And as team we had about 950, which must also be a record

    1. I’ve been loving Alba for a few weeks now. He is the real deal. Now we could use a more defensive right back – kind of like Abidal when Dani was more of a threat, but on the other side.

  17. Terrific performance by the team. Real testament to how much composure and heart they are playing with this season.

    They literally never give up on a match. The confidence and self belief of the group is tremendous.

    This felt like it was going to be “one of those matches” but the team kept at it until the very last second and it paid off.

    It’s been said over and over – but this was a match that they’d likely wouldn’t have gotten this result in last season.

    1. hey man. I know you are busy but how about a post on defensive side of things with this patchwork defence of ours.
      An analysis of defensive errors with root cause analysis of how the breaks happened and how the players fared, would help immensely.
      Also some light on our defending on set pieces. Nobody seems to jump and there is nobody like a puyol who is actively seeking to head the ball out rather than re actively head it. Set pieces are damn difficult to defend, and mastery over them is a tough as mastering tiki taka but there ought to be something we should do better.

  18. Around the 88th minute I was still telling myself, “we can win this. Just keep at it.” Sure enough, GOAL! I never had that feeling last year. It feels so good knowing we can plug away and find an answer. We were a 3 great saves away from winning 5-1. That said, credit to Celtic’s defense and their keeper. The saves he made were very good. They weren’t spectacular, but he made them and that’s what counts. I was beginning to feel frustrated by our lack of creativity breaking down the bus. It felt like last season when we didn’t have an answer and kept trying to play through the middle even though it wasn’t working. Again, Tito made the right subs at the right time! Tello brought width and pace that Celtic had to respect. Villa made intelligent runs that Celtic had to follow and close down his space, thus creating space behind him. Messi seemed frustrated and looking for calls when most of their tackles were clean. He was whiskers away from 2 brilliant free kicks though. Or as RayRay would say, “Denied by a layer of paint!”

  19. Of course I’m delighted with the win but this trend of continuously falling a goal down isn’t good. Tito really needs to sort out the defense.

  20. I’m still really not sure what to make of this, but hooray for yet another come-from-behind win! Villa looked good out there; it’s a shame that his shot didn’t go in.

    1. Yes, Villa looked good. Wish his shot went in but I’m just glad that he’s playing so well.

      A lot of people here are being very harsh on our players. All I remember seeing over and over is the team REALLY trying to get goals. I don’t think I’ve ever seen us try that much. Non-stop.

      Hopefully we don’t have to keep coming back from behind. It is not very good for the heart (see Mom4 comment :D) But part of the reason why team has not given up this season even up to the last minute is also the many number of games where they’ve snatched victory from the proverbial jaws of defeat. Essentially, the team knows they can. That if they keep trying, they will be rewarded with the goal.

      So…I’m going to be contrarian to all the sour notes and complaints and criticisms I’ve seen in this thread. I shall declare that all the players played well (and I honestly think they did) and I shall continue celebrating til I fall asleep.

      What a win! Visca el Barca!!!

    2. Yeah, I didn’t come away with negative feelings from the game – mostly exhaustion from so many close games being decided right at the end. Imagine how the players must feel!

      The game did feel a bit more like our away form, despite being played at the Camp Nou, but Celtic are no slouches and our back 4+ DM was pretty experimental.

  21. A few quick notes after a late night:

    –Lots of negativity. The team is still undefeated this season. Winning is winning, pretty or ugly, early or late.

    –The “lazy Messi” jokes …. really? Sighhh …

    –Looks like Sanchez is now the punching bag of the moment. He missed some gilt-edged chances, yes. But good work rate, and he’s almost clicking. He deserves the same time that others have been given. Yes, the sub for him came a bit late for my tastes, and it’s doubtful it would have been made had Celtic been trying to attack. Ditto for Pedro. Villa and Tello are attackers, but aren’t at their best when it comes to defense and tracking back.

    –While folks are lining up to spank people, Messi and Iniesta weren’t at their best. If the Messi illness rumor was true, it would make sense. Hard to get air and be your best as an athlete when you can’t breathe.

    –Valdes was playing it out of the back again, possibly having something to do with the fact that every Celtic player was in front of their goal, so he had no pressure. Whatever. It was nice to see.

    –I didn’t know when, but I knew the team would score. You could see Celtic getting tired, and sitting deeper and deeper. And we kept making the runs. Only a matter of time, though I didn’t expect it would be so late. Hats off. For those clamoring for a Plan B against a parked bus, this is it. Runs. Constant runs and being smart with the ball. We did the same against Chelsea. The shots just didn’t go in. It happens.

    –We’ll know more about Bartra when he plays against a team that is interested in attacking. But he looked good the few times he had to put in some work. Adriano also had a very good match.

    –The Tuesday matchday is good. Should be enough rest for the weekend effort, which hopefully won’t require the team being pushed to the limit in yet another match. We’ll see.

    1. Agree. Kev, you just said most of what I wanted to say.

      I didn’t want to stress myself by having to disagree in detail with most here but you just did it so I will just agree with you 😀

      I love Iniesta, he’s my most favorite player, and even if he got a goal today, I actually agree that he wasn’t at his best. Same with Messi. That’s because we know what they’re both capable of. And for Messi it probably is caused by his colds. In any case, he is far, far from being lazy. It’s really irritating for people to say this when you watch the whole game and see everything he does.

      Alexis did pretty well.

      If I have any complaint about him, it is that he isn’t Messi or Ini or Xavi when it comes to first touches, bringing ball down, deadening it with his feet, etc – which is really unfair to him. He gets the ball in tight spaces and I expect him to be able to position the ball the way Messi, Ini or Xavi would. But he isn’t any of them so it’s probably unfair to expect that. When he receives ball and it strays two feet away from him thus allowing defender to get ball back or taking him one extra second to get off a shot, I get annoyed. But it was a difficult ball to receive. I just expect so much because I’ve seen M, I and X do crazy things with it. But he isnt any of them.

      And yes, Valdes was playing ball from the back again and no, the goal conceded was not his fault. To suggest that he should be replaced is foolish.

    2. When we face BUS’s like this, we need more and more runs, and the only players who do that or tries for some risky penetrating passes are Messi and Iniesta. When Cesc is there he too tries it. Though our possession is thanks to Xavi, he seems to play it safe mostly. It is good too, as we are looking at danger when the goal is in our half – sighh.
      I was wishing Cesc to come in for Xavi in the last 15 minutes or so. But it was nice to see even Xavi decided to try more, at the very end, than just passing side words. And our luck came back just in the last minute. I was afraid it will go the Chelsea way – the first leg – when the ball decided it will never go whatever we did.

      But cant agree really with Alexis comment. I am glad he should get all his time, but playing him in the wings may not be the best. In games like y’day when Messi was more deeper, Alexis could be ahead of him, more centrally. He was incredible for Chile in the last match.

    3. I thought Iniesta was worse against (suddenly Super) Deportivo than he was last night, though no one commented on it either match. People were railing at Alexis for not dribbling past his man, but both Iniesta and Messi were not successful dribbling through a swarming Celtic defense all match. When a team is pressing us hard those individual dribbling skills are more important because beating a player or two gives you a lot of space, but against packed in teams it’s all about very fast ball and player movement and those signature Barca goals. I don’t think Alexis had a good match, but I don’t know anyone would have been more successful dribbling, considering the amount of space and the fact that two of the greatest magicians with the ball were having a tough time of it.

    4. I was very confident they would score to “steal” the points at the end. That is until Villa hit the post. I thought that was the end of it. I have a crazy amount of respect for the work that alba puts in sprinting up and down through 95 minutes. Outrageous!

      Sanchez is getting a little too much stick. Early on it was obvious that it wasn’t gonna be his day. Still, he works very hard, and possibly too hard in this game. Thinking he might be trying to hard and not letting the shots happen naturally, too much effort, too much thought and then trying to make up for it on the defensive end and making a bad choice or two.

      Re Sanchez I thought he could have been subbed for Villa much sooner. This was the first time I have thought Tito was on a Pep substitution schedule. I was surprised to see Tello come on before Villa. He brought a little something different, but this wasn’t going to be a game tailored to his strengths. I thought Villa’s movement was better than any of the other wide forwards that played. I wonder if Cuenca was available if he would have been preferred to Tello. Tello especially at the end wasn’t moving very well to draw defenders away from the interpaly on the left. He was standing a little too much for my liking.

      Adriano was great. He recovered well defensively. Some of his long shots weren’t great, but I do appreciate him taking them. Another way to create space is to force the defenders to respect/defend shots from outside. This guy is coming up huge wherever he is asked to play.

      It did seem at times that both iniesta’s and messi’s touch was a bit from it’s otherworldly best we’ve come to expect. Possibly credit due to Celtic’s defending, but it seemed the ball was just a little more rebellious than usual for them.

      Did anyone not cringe when the FK was given to Celtic? I knew they were scoring from that play somehow. Regarding sMasche’s play and own goals? The own goals, are for me, bad luck, and disproportionate at the moment. Aside from that Javier did put himself in some bad positions, including missed tackles. Is he missing tackles that he made cleanly last year? Was he better covered last year? Is he tired? Is he confused by being paired with a different player every other game? Any and all are arguable and most would be fair. I just hope that P&P can hurry back to health and some normality and rotation can be reestablished.

      Barta, there is a clamor to anoint him as the next coming based upon this game. I have thought that he was always better suited than Fontas, but he is still a first year first team kid. they will not sacrifice his future by forcing him into games that could damage that and his confidence. Watching the way Pep has handled kids coming in, and assuming Tito was on board, it’s always systematic. Tito had this game earmarked for bartra for a while. Why? Cause it was a home game that the team could expect overwhelming possession. I am sure he’d have liked to toss bartra onto a game or two that was already in hand, but injuries and circumstances haven’t allowed it. That said the kid did well, he was composed, confident, etc.

      However, did Bartra being on the field keep Tito from going to 3 at the back towards the end when he was chasing a win as he has been wont to do this season?

      The true test will be if he rolls bartra out this weekend away to Rayo. It’s a tough away game, and under any other circumstances I’d not expect to see bartra. However, if sMasche’s ban is upheld the apparent CB choices are Song, Busquets, Adriano, and Bartra, with one of Song or busquets, most likely busquets, expected at DM.

      Otherwise, I think Tito has shown his anti-bus plan is gonna depend mainly on width. Thankfully, using natural forwards/wingers to supply it, not iniesta or alves or alba. There were always players hugging both touchlines to pull the fb’s wide and stretch barca’s favorite channels between the fb’s and the cb’s as much as possible. Requiring the wide forwards to provide tactical width so consistently will limit their contribution as we have seen. However, we have also seen what it does to facilitate others play. This includes allowing the fb’s to be running into the space they open at speed, which is where especially alves and alba are their most dangerous.

      Anyway, this is another case where the squad has captured full points when they might have dropped them last year. That is what it takes to win silverware. I hope that this extraordinary effort will pay dividends in confidence and rest later, like maybe being able to take a B squad to russia.

    5. Masch hasn’t been rested in way too long, and he has traveled back and forth between Spain and South America twice. Even Messi was rested after one of those trips.
      Luckily he got a red card…

    6. Long time lurker, first time poster. Love this site.

      I am an unabashed Andres Iniesta fan, and felt the need to comment.

      I actually thought this was Iniesta’s best game to date this season. He had the nice ball early that Sanchez pulled wide. He had the beautiful one touch in the air to Bartra in front of the goal, and he had the nice looped pass to Messi that forced a beautiful save from Forster. In addition to his nice goal, he could/should have had 1-3 assists.

      I think there are obviously some that have higher expectations for some players compared to others. I actually thought Andres hasn’t played well since coming back from injury, at least until this match.

    7. Agree that this was his best match sinCe coming back. I also loved the scoop pass to messi. Think he did well over all. Tackled back a few times, etc. there were just a few touches that are normally glued to his foot that went awry, same for messi. Thought it was interesting. Possibly fatigue? Cause it wasn’t conditions.

    8. The SuperCopa isn’t an official match or matches. It’s usually played before the season starts. This season was different. So, yes, we are still undefeated in all competitions.

  22. Seeing Alba rushing up and down the field reminds of a Hammy on Coke (Over The Hedge) … great investment.

    Can’t believe Masche has to take the blame … Bartra and Song both were just standing behind Samaras whereas Masche, although unlucky, at least was between Samaras and the goal.

    Song did well to replace Busi and his interplay with Xavi worked just fine but it seemed to slow down the game a little and lacked the usual genius. He was there when needed but couldn’t add a creative element to the game like Busquets does.

    Exciting game nevertheless and respects to Celtic

    1. Yup isn’t it? Song being a Premier League player was expecetd to be quick. But whenever I saw him play, he appears a tad slow. But still did well. Alba just keeps on running like Forest. Run Alba Run…

    1. What must be going through Cazorla’s mind, seeing Malaga do so well? They just keep winning! They’ll make a new record for a debut CL team if they win their next game. 🙂

  23. Oh Dortmund, how I love thee!

    They took the game to Madrid and then some. Despite some dubious calls against them from the ref, they kept their cool and gave Madrid a hard running, aerial game.

    2-1 and they top their table. Awesome result!

    Looks like Khedira did his left hammy.

    1. Son #1 says to me, “So now do you want me to record the game so you can gloat?” He knows I wasn’t able to bear watching it live.

    2. Very exciting game.

      3 or 4 brilliant Iker saves kept Dortmund from scoring more. Iker owns the 5 yard box.

      Pepe had a howler.

  24. My second favorite team in the world right now is Dortmund! 🙂
    Sad about Arsenal, though. 🙁

    1. I love it when Arsenal lose. Hope Wenger is still giggling away like he did when France equalized. W*nkers..

  25. Ajax certainly deserve a Europa spot (if they knock out EE, thats fine by me too 😛 ) for their focus on youth. To assemble a team after only spending 4.4 mil euros and then beating Citeh has to be a achievement of some kind. Hope they get a better draw next time #JajaxNoMore

    1. And all that after losing another of their 2 best players – van der Wiel and Vertonghen.

      City’s display in the CL is simply abysmal, though. Mancini really has a hand for disappointing CL seasons 🙂

    2. Citeh’s form all season has been extremely poor. They’ve won games late due to Dzeko’s heroics. They way managers are fired nowadays I’d think Mancini’s time is limited if they bounce out of CL at group stages again and fail to win the PL. Signing him to a 5 year extension was a ridiculous move. They only won the league on goal difference.

    1. Well, then you have missed a lot of even much better matches than this over the last ~2 years!

    2. Agreed – the Pokal Cup Final was a beauty if you can find a recording of that to watch. 5-2 against Bayern.

      They’re a little inconsistent with their Bundesliga results this season, but they’re still a work in progress. Young guys, awesome coach (I love Klopp) and oodles of talent.

      Mourinho’s comments after the match were hilarious – unlucky to win, Madrid was the better team. Fact was they were outplayed a lot of the time by a team who used the best of Barcelona and Madrid styles – they tika takka’d at tremendous pace and pretty much won the aerial contest. Madrid defence was hugely unsettled because of the constant pressure. If it hadn’t been for Iker’s huge saves, they would have won by more.

  26. Dortmund: sometimes it looked like tiki-taka in fast forward, or the direct version of it. So much directness in that match, from both teams. Almost no build-ups. It was sure fun to watch.
    Plus, Dortmund players looked like they were having fun.
    Alonso’s tackle in the box was a clear penalty. He got none of the ball, and all of the man.
    Whenever Pepe is too far behind an attacker, he simply pushes him from behind. He tried to do it when the first goal was scored, but he simply couldn’t reach…:)

  27. the champions league is throwing up some very interesting results.
    Malaga winning every game, Porto on form, Milan and Man City getting detroyed.
    Dortmund have been playing very well and Hummels is looking very impressive. I have to say, as much as i like our youth team i would like a world class centre back to start next to Pique, and i think Mascherano could do with a more experienced partner for when Pique isn’t there.
    Hummels ball playing is right up there and he is more mobile than other options. I know it’s too early in the season to be talking about next summer but hey…

    1. Hummels isn’t coming to FCB. He bleeds yellow and black. He just signed a 5 year extension. No chance.

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