Barca 5, Athletic Bilbao 1, aka “Let’s get our minds around this thing here.”

I don’t have many wishes, nor do I really believe in the concept as a construct of anything that we know on this plane of existence. But if such things were so, if wishing something could make it actually happen, I would wish that people could understand exactly what in the star-crossed hell we’re seeing here.

Because it is fundamentally absurd. Let’s recap:

–FC Barcelona has dropped two points this Liga season, in a draw to its most hated rival.
–In today’s 14th of 38 matches in the Liga season, it dismantled a brave opponent.
–Lionel Messi, 14 matches into the Liga season, has 21 league goals.
–This club is off to the best start in Liga history, amid a back line injury crisis of Biblical proportions.
–The club is 11 points up on its most hated rival, and 6 up on the second-place club.

It’s pretty difficult to get my mind around, but I admit to having a pretty little brain.

People, myself included, often scoff at cules who don’t understand how extraordinary this all is, calling them spoiled. But they aren’t spoiled. It’s just this is all that they know. Put another way, you come home from work, and your spouse greets you with a hug and a kiss, rubs your feet, brings you dinner then asks if there’s anything else you need. This goes on for four years. The first time you come home from work to a messy home, sore feet and leftovers, are you spoiled, or merely conditioned to expect great things?

This is the lot of the cule.

We squabble about players, fair or unfair coaches, rarely stopping to think “This club has THE best, or one of the best players in the world at every position. Of course it’s going to be hard for someone to just waltz right into that lineup and make a difference.” It’s The Way Things Are. What would be an excellent year for another club is “not good enough, we should sell him” for this club. And it’s nobody’s fault. It’s only the fault of the conditioning that leads people to expect the extraordinary.

In the one-paragraph recap of How Did We Get Here, Frank Rijkaard led FCB to two silverless seasons, whereupon Pep Guardiola took over and promptly won everything in sight. Trophies, card games, lotteries, stuffed animals at carnivals …. everything, then almost did it again and again, until having a season with no major silver and handing the reins over to his assistant, Tito Vilanova.

Now, forgive me if everyone knows all this, but I want to get it down so that we understand what we’re working with here.

While winning everything, the team played a beautiful, uplifting brand of football that gained fans left and right, sent press critters into spasms of ecstasy and left opponents and ex-player pundits to gibber praise.

This is what we have known since the 2008-2009 season. But it’s also a condition that makes what we are seeing here kinda difficult to understand. I finally got my head around it today, first watching us after having watched two matches from The Best League in the World as I sat there, wondering just what in the hell they were doing with the ball. And then, during our match, again understanding hit while watching a goal that didn’t come off, a magic trick in the box that made me actually scream “That didn’t just happen!” But it did.

We aren’t just seeing history, manifested in things like all eleven players on the pitch during a match being from La Masia, or Messi threatening Gerd Muller’s historic, “never-to-be-broken” record. We are seeing something extraordinary and expectation defining/defying, something made even better because it is quite the surprise.

When Guardiola left amid tears, shock and disbelief, nobody knew what was going to happen when Vilanova took over. Everyone figured “Hell, he knows the players and the system, and he probably won’t screw it up and stuff.” What Vilanova did instead was make this club more dangerous. Yes, it has always been at times direct. As Linda notes in her excellent post, the notion that before Vilanova, all we did was pass the ball around and then score some geometric lovely of a goal is an illusion, as well as being nonsense.

Rijkaard was a friend. And for a while, that was what the club needed in order to give its best. The problem with a friend is there is no whip hand. Enter Guardiola, who was a father. Stern at times, soft at others, he had a parent’s belief in things, a faith in players and a way of doing things that sometimes took things too far, or left things too late. Enter Vilanova, who is a coach, concerned with the system and its execution, perfectly willing to shift, discard, cobble and fiddle to achieve an intended result.

The progression is perfect. Guardiola taught them how to drive, then tossed Vilanova the keys.

So what the hell does all this have to do with the Athletic Bilbao match, dammit? Nothing, and everything. Athletic Bilbao is just another opponent, another brick in the wall of unprecedented Liga success. Athletic Bilbao is also representative of the thing that makes what we are seeing so extraordinary: no fear.

During the first two years of the Guardiola reign, the club had a head start because people were afraid of it. Opponents huddled on the rocks like otters when polar bears are on the swim, trying not to be eaten. It wasn’t until the last year of Guardiola’s tenure that opponents said “Hey, what would happen if we got down from the rocks, and fought back?” Different opponents chose different ways to fight back, but they all started fighting back, rather than sitting around, waiting for death by tika taka.

In the season of Vilanova, there is no more fear, so the victories, the dismantlings, are coming through sheer quality, through facing an opponent that comes at us like an equal, taking their best and putting the hammer down. It really is a spectacular thing. Bilbao came out fighting, pushing, shoving, pressing, gaining and holding possession, playing football. We kept turning the screws, coming closer and closer with plays, passes and runs in a match that was kinda breathless and, frankly, a little nervous-making.

And then, suddenly, boom. A sequence of beautiful play led to an ugly goal, a scrap picked up by Gerard Pique and bashed home, a goal worthy not of sonnets but of four-leaf clovers and an exclaimed “Hey, look what I found!” Yes, it was the beautiful play that created the luck but that first goal was, typically in this typically atypical season, typical of how Vilanova’s charges have been getting it done — any way possible.

The second goal too, came from circumstance created by exquisite play as Messi took a pass, rounded the keeper and, a little too cheekily, tapped the ball toward goal. But it look a lunging Athletic defender to slam it fully home. Beauty and circumstance colluding for our greater good.

That third goal, however, was a swashbuckling thing of beauty, an almost RM-like goal in which the pitch swapped ends with startling directness, and Fabregas slid a perfect ball to Adriano who, on the dead run and in perfect stride, slammed it home. All five goals today had one thing in common: minimal doses of the tika taka that people think is (still) the only way that this club can score.

This Vilanova Barca is less patient, and more dangerous because of that impatience. It is more dangerous because, like its coach, it is a results-driven beast that cares little for beauty. Yes, this club now, as always, seeks beauty and often finds it. But it will also bang a ball over the top to a running attacker, or clog the box with kicking sprites digging for gold with their cleats. The results are the thing.

Cesc Fabregas has found his way, becoming a valuable cog in the attack, a molasses-slow player who is, nonetheless, in the right spot with amazing frequency. Andres Iniesta is, before our eyes, becoming the player that his legend says that he already is, verging on becoming essentially unplayable. “Just foul him, dammit.” This team isn’t about clean sheets, or seeking perfection. It’s about scoring one more goal than its opponent, a pragmatism that already reflects the man holding the strings.

It seems so logical now, even as none of us could have possibly predicted that this would happen, like one of those plays where somebody flicks a back heel to someone, who volleys to someone else, who slide-rules a ball that rolls precisely to the feet of a player running at full speed, just like it was planned. We’re too busy screaming about the goal to think “Wait a freaking minute! That was pretty stupid. Let me see that again.”

But we need to understand this thing, this stuff that we’re seeing.

Curiously, this match comes hot on the heels of a very recent re-watching of the famous manita, an ass-whipping of epic proportions and probably one of the best matches of football that you will ever see played. Compared to that beast, Vilanova’s group is more precarious, leaving you on the edge of your seat until a Mascherano leg or Pique interception allows us to exhale. Yet it is just as controlled and so far more successful, even as it makes us rend our garments in emotion.

Only Iniesta and Busquets are playing at the mind-boggling level of that manita side, and yet this current club is doing better, making Liga history with every successful match. What will happen when everyone is fit and back to form, apart from cules fainting with glee? Good question, but one that doesn’t really concern me because I am too busy watching something remarkable.

Yet because people like to compare, at some point attentions will turn to Vilanova’s vs Guardiola’s. And I will laugh, not only because they are the same, but because only a churl would endeavor to parse joy.

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Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. mic
    December 1, 2012

    From what I remember our style of play was very similar when we played Athletic Bilbao last year in November. Even more vertical running I think, because they pushed us harder.

  2. Blau-Grenade
    December 1, 2012

    Very well written. Philosophical.

    Here are my reasons this side better this season:

    1. Alba on the left wing. Dynamite going forward. Fantastic overlapping play in the forward areas.

    2. Montoya on the right wing. Shuts the right wing down. Nothing goes by him. And his overlapping runs and assists in the forward areas are fantastic.

    3. Cesc Fabregas assimilating into the team – hassling the opposition, providing assists and goals. His contribution also opens up space for Iniesta and Messi on the pitch. I don’t need to go into his contribution in this match. But here is a glaring example of his unrecognized contribution on the pitch.
    But in the last league match where Iniesta was the MOTM, Cesc coughed up the ball from the defenders so Iniesta could provide the assists for the first two goals. He did the overlapping run that took the defender marking Iniesta out, so he could get the space to make his goal. He finished the match with a goal, which was assisted by Iniesta of course.

    4. I have to make a special mention of Tello as he has provided a match winning contribution in a few matches in the beginning of the season. His defending is not perfect, but his play in the forward areas is sensational. His contribution often goes unnoticed. Case in point. Everybody was talking about the Villa goals in the copay. But in the match he is the guy that won the free kick 20 yards out, that Villa scored, and then provided Villa with the assist for his brace.

  3. 505
    December 1, 2012

    athletic is one of those teams that always make me nervouse, no matter what their place on the table. the way our guys played last night (and for the past games) was just exhilarating. i think they seem to be enjoying that extra bit of risk that comes with the new improved plan A.

    tito rocks.

    you rock too, kxevin — great article 🙂

  4. Manish
    December 1, 2012

    If Messi is a 5.. Can we all agree that he is the most positionally aware. .. And the most efficient player on the pitch.. He hardly does the running..but always scores 70% of barca goal.. Don’t know how that works.. But if he is a five..then he is a true definition of an oxymoron

    • barcanyy
      December 1, 2012

      Watch Messi’s movement. There is such an economy of movement, he knows when to chase the game and when to conserve his energy. I think we all need to accept that he is no longer being asked to press as much as in the past. This has been a tactical change over the past couple of years and allows Messi to play almost every game. He scores every game and is at the center of almost every attack we have. I’m not sure what else you can ask of him. His understanding of space is incredible and he gets himself into dangerous positions without running around as much. I

      • G6O
        December 1, 2012

        We should always remember two of Cruyff’s greatest quotes;

        1. It is not so important how fast you can run but when you start your run

        2. If players are running like crazy all game then these are not very smart players as they lack the intelligence to make the ball to the running for them

  5. barcanyy
    December 1, 2012

    I think we should get pretty used to Iniesta at LW. Last year we had trouble playing all four midfielders together, but the addition of Alba has given us the ability to do so. Alba has been such an important player tactically; he balances the pitch and gives us the width in the left that we have been looking for for a couple seasons now. I’d love to here Euler’s take on his impact on the team and the possibilities he opens up. It has always been the missing part of our game to have width on the left with all our rig footed players who like to come inside. He gives them the freedom to do so without sacrificing the width that is so important to us tactically. His work ethic and sheer pace are incredible and have added so much to the team.

    • Momo
      December 1, 2012

      Agreed, much love to abidal but with alves slowing down, and messi moving to the middle an ultra attacking leftback like jordi just takes us to new levels of fluidity (much like messi-alves back in 08).

      You can see the effect it has had on iniesta’s overall level of play.

    • G6O
      December 1, 2012

      What happens to Villa then? Looks like long spells on the bench for him.

      • barcanyy
        December 2, 2012

        I think we will see a lot of him in Copa and to spell Iniesta occasionally. I can’t see him playing regularly in La Liga as long as the 4 midfielders can coexist.

      • replayed
        December 2, 2012

        Of course, the three *can* play together and all started the game against Celta de Vigo. I loved watching them together and can’t wait until the next time, even it’s with the NT.

  6. yana
    December 2, 2012

    Thanks for the great review, Kxevin. I don’t think anyone could have imagined that the start to the season would play out as it has. I don’t know how it works, but even as it’s true that this Barça is more edge-of-the-seat and heart-in-the-mouth, somehow instead of wondering when the stitching will come undone, I’m giddy with excitement of seeing where it will go…

    In the liveblog, I made a silly joke about if this was the same ref as the Sevilla match, then I knew his name was “Valenciano Mierda,” because the Sevillistas called him that, most vehemently. Which reminded me of an anecdote about being at an away match at the Sánchez Pizjuán which you all might enjoy:

    There were match programs on all the seats, which was: letter from the president, headshots of the Barça players, their positions/stats, the expected Barça lineup, previous results against Sevilla.

    There was no information about the Sevilla players/lineup. (My husband, flipping through: “how do I know who their players are?” Me: “I think the point is, if you’re sitting here, you are a fan of the team and don’t need to be told who is who.”)

    There was an analysis of Barça’s expected tactics and recent history, and the Liga table. Local ads. And then the last piece was a whole page devoted to “¿Quién es el árbitro?” — name, age, where he was from (important to know what kind of mierda he was to better be able to call him out, no?), his career history, how many cards given, how many times he had presided over a Sevilla match, his decisions for and against Sevilla…

    So. Detailed summary of the visiting team. Detailed summary of the referee. In other words, the match program was not a glossy souvenir. It was very much all about, “Who is Our Enemy Today?”

  7. Gogah
    December 2, 2012

    ” Rijkaard, the friend. Pep, the papa. Tito, the coach. ”
    I like that.

    I couldn’t watch the game itself, but looks like we owned it, guessing from the reactions.

  8. Jafri
    December 2, 2012

    Sooo did Messi get the first goal awarded to him or not?

      • Jim
        December 2, 2012

        Spot on assessment for me, Kxevin. A couple of points. I think everyone can now see the difference having genuine CBs playing the position. We all seem a lot calmer. The other is that I’m not sure why you missed Xavi out of your comment about playing at the Manita level. For me, he has been absolutely terrific despite having different midfield partners every week. I thought his through balls which people had been (wrongly IMO) criticising were spot on yesterday and, as happened a few weeks ago, when he is removed we see his value.

        • replayed
          December 2, 2012

          When teams open up to attack and Barca can play this more direct brand of football, Xavi tends to be a bit less central to the action than when he’s being the tiki-taka metronome. And sure enough, Xavi only had 88 touches in a full match against the enterprising Bilbao while he had 157 touches in 78 minutes against the bus parking Levante.

          But Xavi becomes just as essential as ever when things get too chaotic and need to be cooled down to allow Barca to regain their shape and defend properly. Meanwhile, Busquets becomes the one setting the pace as things transition quickly from defense to attack

          Essentially, Xavi and Busquets almost switch roles in open games compared to their usual tiki-taka duties. Xavi protects the defense and Busquets paces the attack.

        • Messiah10
          December 2, 2012

          Jim, agree completely with your Xavi post. Xavi has been unbelievable this year. I think he’s HEALTHY which is key. I must admit I was a bit harsh on him last year and was wondering if his age and sheer amount of games played was catching up to him. I’m so happy he’s proven me wrong. It was just niggling injuries that kept him from performing his best. IMO Xavi and Busi are still the keys to this team. I agree that Alba has been a immense signing and has opened up space for 4 mid’s to play, but it starts with Busi and Xavi HOLDING the ball and picking out the perfect passes to orchestrate the offense.

        • December 2, 2012

          Mmmmn, no. I didn’t mistakenly omit Xavi. He is playing very, very well this season, but he isn’t at that level.

      • nzm
        December 2, 2012

        Even the Barca website is confused – or maybe it’s me.

        I thought that Messi had 19 Liga goals before this game?

        In one report, they say that he now has 20 Liga goals (which should be 21 if he had 19 before the Bilbao game) and in the match report they say that he shot 2 goals.

        Marca has definitely only awarded him one, and his tally on the Marca site stands at 20. Before the match, the Pichichi tally for Messi was 19 – I checked before it started.

        Barcastuff is reporting 21 Liga goals for Messi from various other sources.

        • G6O
          December 2, 2012

          Apparently the Barca website is following the Marca number. Don’t know why.

          It’s the official RFEF numbers that matter for history. If he keeps this up, there will be no doubt about the Pichichi anyway

          • nzm
            December 2, 2012

            Yes – the Pichichi isn’t the concern. It’s the official numbers which decide how close Messi is to Mueller’s record.

            The club articles also mention that Messi is 1 goal away from equalling Gerd’s record, so I guess that he really has 21 goals and not 20!

          • Does Marca really thinks stealing one goal from Messi is going to take the Pichichi away. He already has a lead of seven goals on Ronaldo, I believe.

  9. nzm
    December 2, 2012

    Some little tidbits:

    ~ Yesterday, the Class of ’87 all scored – Messi, Cesc and Piqué. Pedro – also born in 1987 – worked his ass off to give Messi his 2nd.
    ~ It was Cesc’s first goal at Camp Nou for the season – all others have been scored in away matches.
    ~ Piqué’s goal was the 4th goal this season after a corner kick. Things are looking up with our corners!
    ~ Adriano, with 5 goals for the season, is now in 4th position behind Messi (26), Villa (8) and Cesc (7).
    ~ 48 goals in the first 14 Liga games is the 2nd best goal tally for the team, behind the 50 goals scored in the 50/51 season.

  10. Messiah10
    December 2, 2012

    Kxevin, fantastic post! I’m glad you had the opportunity to write. Or was it that you couldn’t help yourself because of our boys exploits and MADE time! lol.

  11. barca96
    December 2, 2012

    After the 5th goal, it seemed that all hell broke loose. Even Xavi couldn’t control the midfield. It looked like an EPL match. Even my team can control a match better.

    I guess they didn’t really bother as the game was done and dusted. But it looked kinda worrying for them to be so unbelievable careless with the ball. It reminded me of the Supercopa at the Bernabeu.

    Thiago seems really lose with the ball. Either it is because he is just getting into the rhythm or he has been out for so long until I can’t remember how casual he is with the ball.

  12. barca96
    December 2, 2012

    -Busquets was immense! If he did a lot of his usual street tricks, he would’ve been MOtM for me.

    -Messi was poor. Really poor. He had more turnovers than successul ones last night.

    -Villa must’ve been really disappointed for being left out even after the team winning by 5-1.

    -It was so sickening to hear my SKY commentator keeping on bringing up the Messi/Own Goal 1000 times! It doesn’t matter to me. It’s just ONE goal. Sooner or later he will overtake Gerd Muller’s record. Geez..

    -On the other hand, I like the fact that they actually recognize Busi’s work. It’s really rare to see so many compliments on Busi in a single match. Really happy for him.

  13. mangut
    December 2, 2012

    Pique looked upset that Adriano kept the attacker onside and gave up the clean sheet. That being said, the team is showing more propensity to send a long ball and has evolved beautifully from what Guardiola started. Alba has added tremendously and as a defender he is growing on me. The frequent absence of Alves is also contributing to a better team. Fabregas is benefiting from improving his fitness, losing weight and being around Xavi and Iniesta. He disappears more often than he should but he is clearly a positive. I am glad to see that. Sanchez being out makes it easier for Tito to not have to force him onto the line up. What to do when he is healthy? I believe Villa needs more starting minutes now that he is healthy. The team is starting to round out into great shape with Puyol and Pique returning and Thiago back and the young ones getting minutes in the Copa and now in the CL. All that is left is for Abidal to return and add depth to LB and CB. The band will be back together! Records, awards, streaks, they come and go but watching this team right now with the confidence and effort it is playing with is a lot of fun. Win or lose they are not out of ideas and they are nearing 100% healthy.

  14. barca96
    December 2, 2012

    Oh, I already expected that Athletico players would lose their heads. Just like Guillem said (I can’t believe I agree with him), Jose’s team will always win the emotional battle.

    Once again, I am just perplexed at how impossible it is for Alonso to get red carded or even jsut a yellow. In the first half alone he had 2 tackles worthy of a yellow card but over and over again the ref let it go.

    Does he contribute a lot of funds to the Spanish FA or what?

    Ramos too should’ve at least been given a yellow for his swing to Falcao. He knew damn well that Falcao was behind him. The linesman was just a meter away. Unbelievable stuff.

    If Simeone was still a player, he would’ve definitely be red carded last night 😆

    • December 2, 2012

      It makes me doubt that the image of a footballer effects the cards displayed against. Otherways, there is no way Alonso stays a full match. But whenever he plays so dangerously you can see that its a spineless referee there. The Atletico game ref also was there for the now infamous Copa final, when all 11 Madrid players ended up completing the match, remember.

      I am also afraid, soon Messi might turn into a diving player, so that the ref wont carry on with the game, and instead will award a freekick/penalty or a card to the fouling player.

  15. nia
    December 2, 2012

    Perez (president Madrid, to Ronaldo when he said he wanted to leave): “Cristiano, if you go, make sure we get the money to sign Messi.” [as]

    If this is true, 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • nzm
      December 3, 2012

      That’s cool. He sure is hard on himself, but it demonstrates what a thinker he is. He knows that he stuffed up and you can bet that he learned a heap from making that mistake.

  16. mom4
    December 2, 2012

    I have a confession to make:

    My football team, the Ravens, lost today (because they were STUPID). And I’m upset.

    So what’s the confession?

    It’s really no big! I’m upset but not gutted. It’s not like Barca lost, or anything terrible like that. The Ravens had to lose sooner or later because they’ve been playing like crap.

    It’s so strange that a football club half way ’round the world can work its way into my heart to the point where its success is more important to me than my American team. Something’s wrong with me!

    The review struck home, Kxevin. I can appreciate what this team is doing. I can’t qutie wrap my brain fully around the enormity of it, but I have supported teams like the Ravens and Orioles whose success has come and gone and so I can appreciate it. This run of success is not normal. Breaking records every other game is not normal. Having the best (or nearly) at every position is not normal. It can’t last forever, but with this evolution that is happening (both exciting for the differences and comforting in that the essential identity remains constant) it can last a long time. This needs to be enjoyed.

    • December 2, 2012

      And often, it’s the stuff that doesn’t lead to goals that is jaw-dropping. It’s like when jazz giants play together, and they all start trying stuff that they wouldn’t otherwise try. They drop notes, not because they aren’t trying, or playing their best, but because the quality of the ensemble leads them to essay the impossible.

      It wasn’t merely that it was Monk playing with Coltrane that made those recordings so great. It was that those two giants were, even when they weren’t having an actual cutting contest, throwing down with the sheer quality of their playing. The standard is higher, as are the possibilities. And it’s extraordinary, even when it doesn’t come off.

  17. tiaali
    December 3, 2012

    I love this blog, but ‘philosophical’ posts like these are my favorite. Thanks for making time, Kxevin!

    I am a recent Culé, so I am one of the ‘spoiled’ ones, you could say. Nonetheless, it is precisely the characteristic that attracted me to this team in the first place, just the sheer beauty of their football, what made me realize from that first day in 2009 that I was witnessing something truly extraordinary. It reminds me of the first time I saw ‘The Garden of the Finzi-Continis’. I was only 10 years-old, so I didn’t exactly understand why, but I knew I was watching something great.
    What we are witnessing with this team is ‘único e irrepetible’, as Pep called it (well, he called the players that, but I apply it to the whole thing), and regardless of whether we accept it or not, it is ephemeral. It may last another season, or two or more, but like everything in life, it will end. And that is exactly why, given that I have been fortunate enough to coincide in this ‘our space of history’** with this team, that I make time every week to watch the matches, to follow the team (and follow kindred spirits), and even made the ‘pilgrimage’ to the Camp Nou so that, 20-30 years from now, if I’m still here, I can wholeheartedly say: I saw Guardiola’s/Vilanova’s Barça play and it was truly a sight to behold!

    **Miquel Marti i Pol (a Catalan poet, nonetheless 🙂

    • tiaali
      December 3, 2012

      My quote above is from one of my favorite poems ‘Ara Mateix’ from Miquel Marti i Pol (or ‘Ahora Mismo’, which is how I know it, since I don’t know Catalá). Well, what do you know? I just found this video where Pep is reading the 1st part of the poem (it’s a lot longer than what he reads). I know this is a football blog, so I apologize for the change of subject. Pep starts reading @ 4:26.

  18. KEVINO17
    December 3, 2012

    How come Cesc spent so much time on the treatment table at Arsenal but is rarely injure at Barca. He also looks a bit lighter to me – except for the beard.

    • nzm
      December 3, 2012

      He’s happier – lighter in body and spirit. 😀

      Plus, the medical/physio team at Barca is better, as are the dieticians.

    • Messiah10
      December 3, 2012

      I heard a caller on the BBC radio call in mention a similar comment about RVP. He’s been injury free at ManU this season, yet, besides last year, he spent the majority of his time at Arsenal injured. The caller said if he stays injury free at ManU it will say a lot about Arsenal’s medical and physio staff. Not sure I agree. Injuries can be fluke things. I know a lot of it can be preparation and preventative, but sometimes all that work can be for nothing. Look at the way Puyol dislocated his elbow. Nothing anyone could do to prevent that. I’m not knowledgable about RVP’s injuries at Arsenal to question the Arsenal medical/training staff.

  19. pr17
    December 3, 2012

    wow. what a match. One of those almost perfect games added to the list.
    – One vs villareal in 2010-11 (3-1)
    – One vs Sociedad in 2010-11 (5-0)
    – One vs Bilbao last season (2-0)

    what i loved was the pressing and the duration of the pressing. It was inhuman levels of effort. Wonder whether tito is using pressing selectively.
    Adriano’s goal was almost carlos alberto style in 1970 but better. Quality of cesc’s pass was better than pele’s who didnt have to thread it in amongst defenders

  20. barca96
    December 3, 2012

    A bit from Sid Lowe’s article over at the Guardian;

    During last week’s Copa del Rey game, when some Madrid supporters had chanted his name, others responded with whistles so on the eve of the Madrid derby, Mourinho called out the fans.
    If you want to whistle me, he said, I’ll be there on the pitch at 9.20pm, alone. Whistle all you like.

    And so it was that at 9.20, he turned left out of the dressing room, headed down the tunnel and up the stairs and on to the pitch, surrounded by photographers and cameramen. And virtually no one else. The game was not kicking off until 10 and the stadium was pretty much empty. Had it been a real challenge, he would have set high noon for 9.50 instead.

    “Mourinho never hides and always shows his face,” said his assistant, Aitor Karanka, who took the post-match press conference.

    I don’t understand why Karanka is so much up into Mourinho’s ass. If he was a long time staff or asssitant of Mourinho I would understand but Karanka is a long time Madrid associate (ex-player). Why would he back someone up so much who is so controversial and who doesn’t care about his beloved club and damaging it’s reputation?

  21. barca96
    December 3, 2012

    OMG. Cruyff sacked as adviser of Chivas. Sigh. Why he took up the job in the first place is a mystery for me. Why try to attempt to save that club when he is already heavily attached to Ajax and Barca (although not so anymore, does he still write for El Periodico NZM?).

  22. barca96
    December 3, 2012

    Atletico Madrid assistant coach German Burgos to Mourinho: “I am not Tito. I will rip your head off!”

    😆 I would love to see Mourinho poke Burgos in the eye.

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