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 Barรงa 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. Anybody else getting this message when opening this site?

    “Internet Explorer blocked this website from displaying content with security certificate errors.”

    I got a similar message when using my droid, too.

    1. Why you gotta embarrass Mom like that Helge? ROFL. I bet Mom uses stock browser on her phone too!

  2. I think if you look at Celtic and Deportivo match, I am not that confident with the David Villa situation. Why do you think Villa has a much bigger impact coming in as a substitute that a starter. The simple answer is when he comes in as a substitute, he goes and occupy the center of the pitch. But when he is in starting eleven, he starts on the left and stays there. If you are going to use him, he has to be used in the center.

    1. I’d say that about Alexis too. Alexis is tons better when he’s playing inside right, (from memory, just about all of his goals have come from here), but we all know who occupies that space. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Hi Everyone,

    I’ve been a silent lisetener here for a couple of years now. Love the site. Delighted to have found it. I give all of my wholehearted thanks to all of you who contribute here. What you have created is quite special and it keeps me checking in every day.

    Some background on me. I am Australian from Melbourne but happened to live in Barcelaon from 1999 – 2003. Yes those years, aren’t you happy I left?

    I am writing because after watching the Celtic game I think we need to open up a long conversaton on how to beat the bus. I know it has been described here before. In pieces. But now every single team plays this way against us. And it seems out management team has not cracked it. It also seems that our season hinges on this. So what is the answer? Assuming they ready this :), what do we want to tell them?

    Btw, I would have put Cesc on in the Celtic game. I am aligned with all the criticism of him from here, but his chaos seems to be one angle to break the bus….But I await the expert opinions….



    1. Welcome!

      Dang, do you usually stay up late to watch every game? If so, that would be total dedication ๐Ÿ˜€

      As for how to break the bus, my solution: HULK SMASH!!! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

      …just kidding, I don’t know. I’m sure other BFBers have more tactical knowledge on this matter than me.

    2. Hey Scott, Welcome.

      Regarding breaking the bus there are many scenario’s. This is possibly a very exhaustive discussion. But here are some scenarios that come to mind.

      Scenario 1: Messi!

      Messi! He can break any bus in the world, any day.

      Scenario 2: Wide are play

      Carry the ball to the by line in wide areas taking defenders with you to make the defense lopsided to open up space in the middle. In case of Barca, they have amazing midfielders – Xavi Iniesta Fabregas, and forwards Messi/Villa all of who have an amazing shot on goal and can score from the middle of the pitch.

      The main problem is the players who play wide for Barca, even as forwards, simply refuse to take on their defenders. This category includes Alexis, Pedro and Villa. The players who do take on players, in the wide area, and spread the play are Tello and Cuenca. And it is Tello in particular, who has caused Barca to remain alive so far this season. His name does not show up in the goals tally mostly because he is doing all the hard work on the side of the pitch.

      Scenario 3: The false 9 scenario.

      This is what Barca excel’s at. There is a carousel of players that go to the forward positions, and drop back, and if a defender decides to go with the person who just dropped back, it creates a hole in the defense which one of the other players in the Barca system exploits to score a goal. The best combination play I have seen to take advantage of this sort of play is Cesc/Messi. Xavi, does not go forward as often as Cesc. As a result Barca keep doing TikiTaka, but without scoring goals. Iniesta is the wild card. On a good day, he will have runs and score a goal, and on a bad day, he may not have any goals.

      People confuse Cesc’s passing ability from the back, the direct play aspect, with his runs forward, and willingness to stay forward, and assist/score. Neither Xavi nor Iniesta has the completeness, when it comes to passing ability and a knack of finishing as compared to Cesc. This can be seen from the Deportivo match. When he was on the field, there were goals galore, and he had shots on goal that the goalkeeper saved.

      Scenario 4: Freekicks from outside the area.

      Free Kicks: Messi/Xavi – enough said.

      Scenario 5: Crosses into the middle.

      Crosses from wide areas to the middle. We play with mighty mites, this option is exhausted. Until we start playing with bigger players this option is not very viable. Puyol was a monster at this – scoring goals with his head on crosses into the box. After his arm injury I doubt if he will do it again.

      Scenario 6: Corners

      Corners, Barca usually don’t score much from corners, as they don’t have very good headers of ball.

      Scenario 7: The Counter attack

      This art seems to have died since Eto’o and Henry have departed.

      Final thoughts.

      There are many many ways….but Barca seem to have become two dimensional, with Scenario 1 and 2 prevailing currently, and no other option being viable.

    3. Welcome, Scott. For me, the answer is a simple one: Movement.

      People clamor for a Plan B every time we face a parked bus, and say “Oh, Lawd, if only we had X or Y, to deal with those goal-denying colossi that bar our way to greatness.”

      As if Llorente would be any more effective than anyone else. It just means one big guy trying to head a ball, against three other big guys.

      The Celtic and Chelsea matches to me, the two most recent visits of a parked bus, were defeated by movement. With Chelsea, people forget that we created chance, after chance, after wonderful chance. Pedro hit the post. Busquets shot over an open net. Fabregas and Messi shot directly at Cech. More of the same at home. The bus was broken. Poor finishing was the issue.

      Against Celtic, with a bus well and truly parked, came two goals: the first was simply a rondo in the box, with a shot at the end. The second was the classic far post cross/putaway. Movement was at the core of both of them.

      If we play our game, move and attack, there is no parked bus that can stop us. Note how many little ones were in/around the box on that last sequence. It must have felt like a game of Whack-A-Mole to Celtic. And finally, bango. Winning goal.

      So. Movement. Voila.

    4. Regarding Llorente, Tito was quoted just the other day as saying that he wouldnโ€™t think someone like that would be content with the 4 games or so he would be getting. NOT a knock against Llorente, btw, he just meant that there would be very few times we would need a player like that.

    5. Absolutely Kxevin, movement is the key, but movement in the wide areas combined with movement in the middle would be more effective at breaking buses than just movement in the middle. For me, the current team is perfect. I would only like to see the forwards who play wide start to take their defenders on.

      I am not a fan of Llorente, and cannot envision Barca with a front player, with limited work rate and mobility, who cannot facilitate tiki taka. It would be a mistake to repeat Ibra. We do not need any more players who can play in the middle of the park, both in the midfield and front areas. Barca has enough.

      Barca needs players who can play effectively, in wide areas. And Barca has them, Jordi Alba, Tello, Cuenca, Montoya, Dani. I am somehow more excited about Montoya on the right than Dani Alves as of now. Tito/Barca has all the pieces of the puzzle and he has used them with his substitutions, to win matches.

      It is just that in the match against Celtic, Alexis and Pedro did what they do best, stay wide, get the ball, and pass it back. But, you see the problem here. Villa and Pedro are much better playing as forwards rather than wide players. They are finishers. Alexis is much better at playing Messi’s position than as a wide player as seen from the recent Chile international against Argentina. Pedro has scored some amazing goals of recent in the Spanish national team, but that area is occupied by Messi/Cesc in our team.

    6. I agree! Actually our system of fast ball and player movement is perfect against teams that drop too many back into the box. Sometimes it is not always executed perfectly, but the system is set up for it perfectly.

    7. I have to make a honorable mention of some of the defender based break the bus scenarios, and these are very defender specific. All the same, in a potential match against Real Madrid, these options would be very limited, simply because these defenders would be more concerned about defending rather than attacking.

      Scenario Jordi Alba!!! Very excited by this young man. He seems to have scored both for the club and country from his wide runs.

      Scenario Pique: Sometimes he takes the ball from the defense on a forward run causing chaos in the opposing half. He also stays in the opposition box for a few moments while Busi is covering the back, supporting the attack. The goal Pique scored in the classico rout of the white house during the 6 2 win comes to mind.

      Scenario sMash: He has the ability to make a pass all the way from the back, to a space between the defenders of the opposition. Pedro has got one or two goals out of this scenario.

      Scenario Marc Bartra: It was Bartra, in the game against Celtic, that caused 4 defenders to surround him in the middle of the penalty box, causing Alba to be free for his goal. In the same match, he met a header which he directed wide of the post. He could have easily scored on that one. He has that knack of going forward, that something extra. Very excited by this young prospect.

    8. I think you are very lucky to have lived in Barcelona. I have really started thinking about the possibility to move to Barca for at least one year, before the end of the Messi – Iniesta – Xavi trio.

      My thoughts on breking the bus.
      A great interplay of three players – Messi – Iniesta and Fabregas. These three together can make fast short passes in tiny bits of spaces. One other player who can do that is Thiago. With adequate support from players like Alves, Pedro and Alba, from the sides and Xavi and Busquests from the back, we could break any defence.
      Alba, especially, will be very important in the future for piercing any bus.
      Making Messi and Iniesta to have their tricky runs around the 30 yard region to earn free kicks. Now Messi kicks are looking dangerous each time.
      To have Pique to advance forward, all the way from the back, if possible even upto the opposition box, and make an excellent pass. His running will definitely take the markers out of Messi and even create space for Iniesta.

      In a worst case, Messi should play in the wings. There is no other player who can attract more than 2 defenders to the sidelines, creating space for others in the centre.

      Finally, if there is a bus, and we are unable to do anything, it is better to substitute Xavi with somebody like Thiago or Cesc, especially towards the last 20 or 25 minutes. We need to be really fast and direct at these moments and Cesc and Thiago suit that better than Xavi.

  4. We haven’t forgotten about the Celtic match. I have received a response to my guest reviewer offer, so some thoughts will be coming later on today. Yep.

    1. Good. I’ve been craving it since the game ended. Keep checking site constantly and disappointed it’s still not up. I know everyone’s busy so not complaining. ๐Ÿ™‚ Just letting you know how much I love reviews. Especially yours Kxevin, because then I get to see you defend yourself from onslaughts of “rainbow munchers”

    2. Ha! Well I will tell you that it was really nice to come home, get dressed, do my ride, come home, get food and chat with wifey, then nibble at the Celtic match the following day. As a consequence of not staying up until ungodly o’clock banging out a review, I was FLYING on the bike Wednesday and today.

      Proper rest is crucial to us Masters (aka old fart) riders.

      But I can’t help but feel I’m letting down the side …. (sighhhhh).

  5. This might be probably OT – I know a lot of Cules have a chronic problem where the part of the brain responsible for looking at the bright side shuts down completely, so I’ve rounded up a couple or so positives to help ease their suffering:

    1. We’re winning – We are! So what if we aren’t exercising our divine right of scoring manita after manita. Its still 3 points. Better two games by a slim margin, than say hammer a hapless team and then drop points to one with a plan. That too with a makeshift defense!

    2. We’re scoring – Lots and lots! As opposed to certain parts in the bygone era where we couldn’t buy a goal. People not named Messi are consistently finding the back of the net too! Its a good sign people..

    3. We are coming from behind with ease – Remuntadas. Remuntadas everywhere! Even Cules aren’t being overly negative when we concede. Good times! Adjectives like resilience, determination and the age old cliche ‘never-say-die-attitude’ are being bandied around by Journos. This bodes well for the future!

    4. We haven’t hit our peak yet – Thank you Captain Obvious! But imagine the possibilities!

    5. We have exceeded all expectations results-wise – Ironic isn’t it? And its only Tito’s first year as Jefe. Who woulda thunk it?

    6. We’re dangerous from FKs again – Defenders are thinking twice before taking Messi and co. down in dangerous areas.

    7. We haven’t yet given Refs a chance to influence the result – as compared to last year.

    If that part of your brain is still unaffected, I’d highly recommend you to SELL IT!

    1. Number 6 is such a joy for me. Its been a while since free kicks have meant any danger for us (all through the Pep era). Now though Messi seems to have brought that other worldly consistency that is all around his game to free kicks.

      This could be a difference maker IMO, especially against buses where we’re constantly hacked down outside the box.

    1. It’s Thuram in the photo yet kxevin has confirmed they do look similar.
      In other news it seems we have confirmation on the deal to buy neymar for 40 m in a year or two since the annual financial report states that we have paid 10 m this year for long term commitment to buy for 40million by barcastuff.

      Or that could be a loan to have a certain pool of money to buy several players for that much(since our budget is roughly that sum) and we just paid an installment

    2. Okay. In all seriousness, that line item could be for the Neymar purchase. It could also be for a host of other things, though only a fool, given the rumors of a pre-arranged deal with Santos for the Peacock (nickname claimed!), would think that it was anything but.

      So. 40m, eh? So Santos gets an offer of 60m from PSG or Citeh, says yes, kicks us back our piddlin’ 10, and off ya go. So who knows. As I always say about transfers, it isn’t until the player is dancing the mambo on the Camp Nou pitch that I will believe it is going to happen.

      If it does, look for some crazy stuff to transpire this summer:

      –To my view, this is Villa’s last season with the club.
      –Sanchez could be on a surprise transfer list, though the price would be highhighhighhigh. You might also see one of Tello/Cuenca/Deulofeu packing their bags as well.

      So now, we wait.

    3. Gogah, you should have seen the dude at the El Prat passport control, the last time I was there on vacation.

      Officer: “It’s …. it’s …. you’re famous!”
      Me: No, I am just here on vacation.
      Officer: “No! You’re famous! I know you!”
      Me: “Here’s my passport (American, with my smirking mug).
      Officer: “Oh. Okay (winks). Gotcha!”

      My wife was bent over, she was laughing so hard. Then there was the year we were there for the Gamper match, and she and I were taking a walk around town. I was wearing blue shorts with a claret polo, and after about a half-hour, finally said to her, “You’d think people in Barcelona had never seen black people before!”

      Then back at the hotel we’re watching pre-match, and she says “Holy crap, you’re on TV.” T’was Thuram and NOT me, obviously, but it was rather funny.

      I could resemble someone less cool, for sure. The things he is doing as a retired player are pretty awesome. I’m not a fan of any current players, but am defo a fan of an ex-player.

    4. Nope. His spirit is admirable, and his battle gives us all joy as he takes step after step toward a normal life. But as a player? Nope.

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