There Is No Such Uncertainty As A Sure Thing

Put aside your caber-tossing and hammer-throwing and whistle in your sheep dog, for it’s time to hunker down in front of TV screens and computer monitors to watch our team play in Glasgow.  Pour yourself a wee dram, if it helps to calm the nerves.

A 60% chance of rain.  8 degrees Celsius.  Football gods – do you know how much our boys hate the rain and cold?  They’re from Barcelona.  Maybe it’s just a way of evening up the odds.

In his press talks over the past couple of days, Tito Vilanova has stressed the ramifications of this game by stating, “This is possibly the most important game that we have left this year.”

A win means that Barça will secure a knock-out round position – provided that Spartak doesn’t beat Benfica at the Estádio da Luz tonight.

A win means that the remaining 2 matches in the CL group round can, and will, be played with B Team players if Tito has his way.


Celtic’s Party
Tonight’s match is a part of the anniversary celebrations for Celtic Football Club’s 125th year.  As such, the stadium mosaic will reflect the club’s proud history, and the stadium will be packed with close to 60,000 Celtic fans.  Only 700 Barça fans have officially travelled to the game.

Rod Stewart and Sean Connery are among the notable Scotsmen who will be in attendance. (Please pause to spare a thought for our fellow culé, Jim, who had to give up his match ticket to instead be present at his school’s parent/teacher reviews. Now that’s professional dedication!)  The club is also taking a massive 360° multi-billion pixel image of the stadium tonight, and is inviting the attending fans to tag themselves in the image once it’s posted on the Celtic website.

The home team has a lot of reasons for wanting to win this one, with perhaps the biggest motivation being more points to possibly seal their progression into the next Champions League round.


Blaugrana Past Results at Celtic Park
Barça has played 4 times in the Glasgow stadium.  In 1964, they drew 0-0 in the 2nd round of the UEFA Cup.  In 2004 (UEFA Cup Round 16), Celtic won 1-0 and bundled Barça out of the competition.

In 2005/06, Rijkaard’s team won 1-3 with goals by Deco, Giuly and Larsson in the UEFA Group stage.  In 2007/08, in the knock-out stage, Barça again won a tight affair 2-3 with 2 goals by Messi and 1 by Henry.


Tonight’s Barça
Expect Tito to put out the strongest team that he can field.  The midfield is missing Busquets who is serving the second of his 2-game red card suspension.  Tonight could also see the return of Piqué.

Let’s hope that Tito’s words of warning about Celtic’s strengths being set pieces and quick counters have been drummed into the brains of Barça’s defence, and that fast and low shots at goal undo Fraser Forster.

What do I know, but my predicted line-up would be:
VV, Alves, Bartra, Masch, Alba
Xavi, Song, Iniesta
Pedro/Tello/Cesc?, Messi, Villa

Bench:  Pinto, Montoya, Piqué, Song, Sergi, Alexis

Perhaps Cesc won’t be getting a start for the first time this season.

Still on the injured list are:  Puyol, Adriano, Thiago, Cuenca, Muniesa and Abidal.


Click here to convert the match time to your timezone:  Celtic vs. FC Barcelona

Streams for the match are usually found here, here and here.


“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley.
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!    ~ Robert Burns “Ode to a Mouse”


Messi will be looking for the opportunity to celebrate Thiago’s arrival by pulling that pacifier out of his sock:




  1. My thoughts.

    We didn’t had a bad game, just one of those million games the past 3-4 years already, somebody is parking a bus and you have to figure it out how to deal with it. The funny thing is that they come in different colors, tonight it was a green bus.
    As someone already mentioned, i don’t admire that football, but is up to them how they chose to play, and up to you to win the game.
    The thing is that we knew what is expecting us, and strange enough, we still are blaming this one or that one when things don’t go our way. My father used to tell me, when you play these “smaller” teams, and you play in a hostile atmosphere, you always have to aim to score first and quickly, so you calm them, and then is easier. The goal wont let them get into the game. We have the quality, just sometimes, some players dont have the right “balls” to take matters into their own hands, but rather play it sideways.
    Song had a descent game for me, with few mistakes, but overall i liked it. This game was screaming for Tello and his directness. To bad he didn’t get the chance.

    Now up for Mallorca.

  2. This was a replay of the Chelsea tie, frankly. We are just as vulnerable (as is pretty much any side in the world, it must be added) to an early goal, defense in depth by an opponent working like dogs that also got some very good breaks. That Xavi miskick was huge, and match-changing. It was like he was passing to the Celtic player.

    It also required some off performances. The corner that led to the goal, for my money, didn’t need to be given up. But better marking on the set piece means that the guy isn’t just running around free to bash in that header.

    Long and short of it is they played their hearts out, we didn’t. They were the better team on the night, and deserved the win. That’s that. People expecting this club to win every time it steps onto the pitch are misguided in the extreme. And blaming players isn’t the answer, either. Yes, some people were below par, but I’m not sure if people being ON par would have changed anything. It was just one of those nights.

    This was the match for other players to step up, as Celtic wasn’t going to allow Messi to be decisive. He could have helped the cause, however, by not sending that excellent early chance into orbit. Forster was also excellent on the day. That one-handed save of his was tops.

    We will still advance out of the group, and this moment of humanity by players that people expect to be automatons will be forgotten.

    1. Hello friend,
      the problem is that we can expect almost all teams – except the likes of ManUnited/Bayern/Dortmund – to play similarly. It is already there from some time in the last season, but Celtic managing this victory will definitely be a big boost to most teams.

      We only had three players who can successfully do risky things it seems, Messi Iniesta and now Alba. Inspite of having this enormous posession these were the only three who were trying risky passes. Two passes by Messi – in the 40th and 59th minutes – were out of this world. Similarly Iniesta receiving a ball from Messi and sending it back to him – the Messi shot which hit the bar, was another great try to penetrate. Alba tried few as well. But all others are too much afraid to take such risks. Xavi is becoming very badly predictable. With all his 100+ passes, he hardly made a couple of good penetrative ones.
      In such games, I sincerely wish, if we are not able to score one by half time, Cesc, Thiago come in for Xavi in the second half. I have only respects for Xavi for being the controller of our game, but controlling without having a goal is useless. I still do not want to accuse Xavi for that mistake. We have seen our other players make such mistakes too.

      Like wise, I dont think even if Messi had found the target from that early opportunity, it would have gone in . Forster would have stopped that too, as this was his day. There was a very similar situation in the second half too, when he made an excellent save from Messi. And Xavi and Villa too skied from such situations. But really, I dont want to pin on any player. If Celtic hadnt scored we would have been feeling ok about the players today, they did try hard. Like in the Chelsea match, we werent lucky yesterday.

      I am worried for Alves though. Like Xavi, he is getting very predictable. He is still lacking his speed of movement and thought. Of empteen chances, he made only 1/2 good crosses.

      One good factor though was Alexis improvement. Much better game and he suited the game better than Villa. Villa found it very difficult to adapt to the short passing in the tense situation.

      I am not sad about the result, but I am worried about us. We are going to face more and more of such bus and our intelligents’ department seems to be bankrupt of ideas.

  3. Whodda thunk that at this stage, Malaga – a team that had to qualify for CL in play-offs – is the only team so far assured of progressing into the next round? 😀

  4. Big deal, they’ll reach the next round and get knocked out by one of the bigger clubs.
    Once a small team, always a small team.

  5. congrats, celtic. it wasnt pretty, but they did it.

    its easy for me to be magnanimous when it doesnt involve our crashing out of the competition. 🙂

    like tito said a week or two ago, we were getting ever statistically closer to losing than we were to continuing our winning streak. 🙂

  6. This was a replay of the Chelsea defeats and I do not blame any team with lesser talent to use the same game plan against Barca. Pack your defense back, have your keeper play a steller game, wait for corners, send long balls over Barca’s high back line and watch Barcelona be wasteful of the few opportunties it can create. I can’t say Celtic played the better game or played harder than Barca. Not having Busquets certainly took from the midfield. Ball movement and the urgency to get behind Celtic when they were not packed in was lacking. Alba should not have marking duties on corner kicks besides standing by a post. I liked the idea of putting Sanchez and then Villa in the center. Getting Messi on the right and letting him drag across was also an attempt to try something different. Yet it becomes predictable if you continue to go it again and again. Or if you insist on trying to go through the middle. Alves and his crossing deserve to be criticized. As the game went on and the rain seemed to come down harder it seemed like perfect rehersal for what will come later on. Vilanova tried some different things and seemed to not be lacking ideas like last April/May against Chelsea. Happy to see Pique return.

  7. Guilleme Ballague: Tito’s team create less chances than Peps + they lost what we call automatisms.More individual than collective work now which makes it worse.
    Not sure if i agree fully with his analysis but tonight, that seemed to be the case. Besides, Barca for some reason always have trouble v ‘buses’.

    While i like Ballague most of the times, he annoys me when Barca loses. He always has a ‘i told you so’ comment waiting in the wings. I wouldn’t say he’s a barca hater but, he enjoys it more when Barca fails than when EE does, which is weired coz he’s a catalan.
    Barca haven’t been firing on all cylinders yet and the defence has really let us dowm. Spartak are gonna be another tough match, wouldn’t be suprised if we need to beat Benfica again to qualify in 1st.

    1. Tito’s team create less chances than Peps + they lost what we call automatisms.

      Oh goodness. This is just flat dumb. Guilleme is just talking out of his behind again.

      Yes this team based on growing up together in La Masia and playing so many games together is losing their automatisme.

      They wound up playing remarkably similar to how they did vs Chelsea but they’ve lost their automatisms.

    2. Balague is a utter knob. Shamelessly self publisher. He is really bitter towards Barca. He tries to act as everything is his exclusive, pompous ass. He seems to have a sneaky agenda, whether its backing the indefensible actions of Mourinho or being a spokesman for Rafa Benitez. He’s a troll masquerading as a journalist imo.

      Take him with a pinch of salt. The guys you should follow are Imo
      Graham Hunter (above all a top bloke and an excellent author/communicator),
      Sid Lowe( a brilliant writer in general and such a wide knowledge of the game in Spain) and
      Tim Stannard( who’s the funniest writer on the game imo)

      On his allegiance. He is an Espanyol fan and that carries its own inferiority complex, but also he writes for AS- a paper known for altering football footage to suit EE. Plus his co workers include such morons as Roncero and Hermel.

    3. Agree on Ballague. The smuggery, it burns!

      (He also searches his own name on twitter and blocks people who say bad things about him, even when they have never addressed him directly. Ask me how I know.)

      Will I be buying his book on Pep Guardiola? No I will not. But I will be interested to hear what others think of it.

  8. After the start Barca got off to in La Liga and the CL it was inevitable that the team would eventually lose. That game – the game where they just were off and couldn’t dig it out at the end – was coming. I’d much rather prefer that poor game to come in the group stage of the CL than in La Liga.

    So what’s done is done. The team was poor. Just move on.

    What’s interesting about that first goal Barca conceded was that their system of zonal marking on corners worked extremely well. It did pretty much exactly what it was supposed to do. But Alba & Alves were simply overwhelmed physically. That goal in ways was reminiscent of the corner kick goal Barca conceded in the Clasico at Camp Nou last season. Scored by Khedira in the scrum but set up by Pepe towering over Adriano on the corner.

    The team has simply become so small that they are going to concede on set pieces. Even if they do everything perfectly in terms of their system they are still going to concede on a non-trivial number of set pieces.

    Finally – a recurrent refrain this season has been that Barca is playing too direct. There’s not enough focus on retention and possession.

    Well today was the least direct Barca has been all season and the most possession focused. And it was also the worst the team has played.

    Like it or not the team needs to evolve. Pep saw that last season and it’s fortunate that Tito is pushing them further forward in that direction.

    1. Good observations Euler. Main thing for me in an attacking sense is for the team to become much more direct with quicker transitions and optimising counter attacking opportunities. This means Cesc and Villa and possibly tello.

    2. Also that corner off which they scored was needlessly given. One attacker was off, the other two were covered and the man delivering the pass wasn’t exactly mega-skilled in that regard. Sanchez is to be lauded for his effort, but he’d have been better off just covering the attacker and letting the defense deal with it.

    3. Hey Euler, can you do some reviews? Even if they are abbreviated one so they dont take you so long, at least we get something. Your public is longing…

  9. Spare a moment for the Celtic fans…they didn’t win the Champions league, nor played what will go down as one of the great games in the history of football..All the did is win the game against us..Yet they are delirious with joy..

    It kinda makes me pity the Cules. We have been used to winning so frequently that we some where along the line have forgotten the joy of winning, instead quibbling even when the team wins or losing a odd game..well, for once I want to be a fan of a lesser club and see how wonderful it is to have your dream come true…

    1. It kinda makes me pity the Cules. We have been used to winning so frequently that we some where along the line have forgotten the joy of winning, instead quibbling even when the team wins or losing a odd game.

      So true ….

    2. I could not agree more.

      I have friends who are Celtic fans and they are absolutely thrilled with this win. As they should be.

      I would like to take this opportunity to say how much I appreciate the welcome Celtic fans and the club itself gave to our players and the travelling fans. Truly remarkable.

  10. “Big deal, they’ll reach the next round and get knocked out by one of the bigger clubs. Once a small team, always a small team.”

    Ahmad, Celtic is a beautiful club with a huge history. There’s no need to disrespect our opponent, brother, especially not one whose fans have received ours with open arms. I even saw Celtic fans waving the senyera in the stadium.

  11. OH NO!! people are throwing out a lot of possibilities out there for who is going to win the CL and Barca have been thrown under the bus(see what i did there 😉 ) after that perfomance. That will teach me to stray away from Barca websites when we lose :s.
    Mind you They forget Barca have lost in the group stage before and gone on to win the CL.
    just like every team can have their theories on why their team will win it, i have a few too but, as we always see year in year out, not all the expected teams win at the end. Hey, even RM lost to the mighty Alcocorn and have since bounced back and won 3 title since then.
    Also found a comment on guardian that said “this Barca is like Man U of 2011”. Ha ha, i was like oh no you didn’t.
    Either way, a lot of teams hate Barca, are happy when we lose. I guess i just have to deal with it.

  12. yes we lost but just look at the other side of the defeat.

    Most of teams by now know that only chance to win against us is by parking the bus. Celtic is not the first team to park the bus this season. Look at the number of matches we have won this season even after the teams defend deep. Even in today’s loss we created good amount of chances to win the game.(2 woodwork and 10+ shots).

    The goals whatever we have let in today is not mistake from CBs. First goal partially yes.Its just celtic’s day but not taking away credit from them for their disciplined defense and good goal keeping. We lost quite a few matches like this in previous seasons and hopefully this defeat won’t affect our qualification to the next round.

    Personally I feel the way we play now is the best possible way to break the parked bus. I don’t know how a 6 feet tall CF is going to be fit into our tika taka.

    On a brighter side alexis had a good game. Messi created quite a few chances and scored a goal.Hopefully we will win this weekend’s tricky trip to mallorca and will maintain the 8 pt gap with EE.

  13. good post. we are creating chances and we are slightly unlucky not to score more. we could do better. but credit to celtic they were magnificent, and lots bigger than us.

  14. Johan Cruyff has resigned after 3 years as coach of the Catalunya National Team.

    Guess he couldn’t stomach that the next game was to be played at Cornellà-El Prat. 🙂

  15. News of the day is that Cesc Fabregas is the next victim of the Barça Baby Boom. His girlfriend Daniella is (reportedly) pregnant with a girl and is due sometime this spring.

    1. So I blame any problems we are having as a team on sex in general and parenthood in particular. This is quite baby boom we have going on here!

      @ nzm. There seems to be something in the water in Barcelona. I’m only gonna be drinking bottled water when I come there. Maybe I’ll play it safe and only drink the cava. 🙂

    2. Just stop it now, Blitzen! You know that the quality of Cesc’s performances on the field are inversely proportionate to his appearance1 What are you wishing upon us? Ee gads!

    3. Kevin – I think that it’s the other way around.

      The girls are insuring their futures by having sprogs with the talented sprites. Should things go astray in the future, those alimony and childcare payments will keep rolling in!

    4. Why not?

      But – please note – I didn’t call them that!

      If I had to label them, it would be to classify them as opportunists.

    5. Because I am sick and tired of the assumption that all “WAGS” (hate that term) are just “in it for what they can get” or looking to “tie their men down” by having babies. It’s widespread and it is unfair and misogynist and demeaning. I see that kind of thing all over the internet, and I would just rather not deal with it here. (Check Cesc and Daniella’s twitter mentions for some lovely examples.)

      Also, in the case of our players, it doesn’t particularly apply:

      Villa & Patricia — been together since they were teens and he was just another kid with dreams
      Pedro & his gf — been together since he was 17 and he was nobody.
      Pique & Shakira — she doesn’t need anybody else’s money
      Valdes & Yolanda — she is a very successful model & doesn’t need the money either.
      Pinto & his wife — been together for ages and he’s not going to be on this team much longer. If she’s digging for gold, she should be moving on.

      That leaves Daniella and Antonella. If you think they are just having babies to ensure their future cash-flow…well, you can join the 16-yr old girls who like to abuse them on twitter.

      Nothing personal, Michele. I know it was just an off-hand comment. I’m just tired of the misogynism that surrounds women in the football world.

    6. mom4: we never drink the tap water here, anyway. It’s desalinated and over-chlorified.

      I’d be looking to those drink bottles on the Barca pitch – too much testosterone is being shared! 😀

    1. Source please?

      I didn’t see anything while they were on the field that could’ve led to a fight.

  16. Over 180 minutes of football, Celtic have
    led Barcelona for 95 of them.
    Barcelona have led Celtic for about 5

    What more is there to say?

  17. Here is something else: Celtic is the EXACT kind of team that will always give us fits. Particularly now that they have improved, as they are in effect the only team in the Scottish League. They are fast, direct, big, physical and excellent on the counter. And they defend like fiends. Relax.

    1. That’s why I think this is an upset on paper (in “talent” — at least how we loosely base it; on coefficients; on payroll…etc) but hardly anything to really go into hysterics about, in terms of both paranoia about what lies ahead and the absurd plaudits by the (mostly) British media.

      Celtic play in a league that constantly reinforces a style that works against us. Their players are tall, thick, and they frequently dominate that league because of two other factors: they are quick and organized. Against Madrid, Manchester United, Bayern…they could never play this way. (I mean, they could, but it would murder them.) For me, this says much more about Barcelona than Celtic.

  18. So we here at the mom4 household got Comcast back today. Our area only has the Spanish beIn channel(so we all get to practice our Spanish). Apparently the Time Warner/ Fios thing is only a California thing. According to hubby, when he called to cancel Fios the rep told him that he gets several cancellations a day because of beIn and the rep couldn’t understand why management wasn’t catching on to this. So anyway, it’s done now and my DVR will be set to record the Mallorca game. What we don’t do for this team!

    1. You can also change your DVR settings to activate the SAP, which BeIN~ has for all of its matches. Go to menu/setup/audio options. From there, change the default language setting to English, and off you go.

    2. Are you getting it in HD? I have fox soccer in HD, but not BeIN unfortunately. Quite annoying.

    1. Meh. I get the whole “injustice to football” meme, but I find this piece a bit mean-spirited considering that Barça has been nothing but gracious in defeat to Celtic. Brooks has a habit of overworking a joke until it becomes not funny anymore.

    2. even more hilarious is the amount of people commenting on that article that didn’t realize it was a joke lol

    3. I think that happens on every dirty tackle article. The most hilarious was his article on Pobre Tristiano getting left by the team plane at the Euro’s. This article was picked up by media around the world, even when a simple google search revealed pictures of him arriving back in Portugal. No one bothered to fact check a comedy blog post!

  19. Jeez – Bilbao are doing it hard against Lyon. Losing 0-2 going into halftime, with so many missed ops at the other end.

    1. I’ll let this post lie but please note that the BFB Site Policy states that we reserve the right to delete or edit comments that:
      ~ are solicitations and/or advertising for personal blogs and websites (please include a link in your name rather than in the comment itself, though some exceptions will be made).

      From now on, the link in your name should suffice, and we welcome your relevant comments on our posts. Thanks.

      (Good reading at your blog, BTW – all the best with it!)

  20. Loosing two important Players due to Injuries and still manage to win? There can’t be a better Gift for 125th Jubilee 😉

    Not the best Week for the spanish Teams in Europe. Still they’re topping Uefa’s Country rankings and are on the verge to snatch the first Place.

    @Provedence and Barca96
    Meh, a very desperate attempt to create a Controversy. Here is the Video on the said spat :

  21. seems as though ZM broadly agrees with my earlier sentiments, not just for this game but for the season: that Alex Song isn’t good enough and that our inaction in the transfer market to address our crippling dearth of real defensive players has and will continue to cost us games.

    “He [Song] was clearly Barcelona’s weak link, and it’s difficult to imagine that Miku would have done so well against Sergio Busquets, who remains vastly superior in the holding midfield role. (Song also hampered Barcelona’s midfield play”

    “Barcelona weren’t terrible, but unquestionably missed strong, reliable players in defensive areas. A defensive ‘triangle’ of Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol and Sergio Busquets wouldn’t have allowed Celtic to break so dangerously, and would have made Barcelona less vulnerable at set-pieces. It’s another game when their refusal to sign a standard centre-back looks dodgy, with Song still yet to convince.”

    1. If you substitute the words “”Xavi” for “Song” I think those comments would be right. Song was excellent. Miku did almost zilch and Song wasn’t responsible for either goal. Yet, of course that won’t stop the scapegoating because apparently, it’s Songs fault Barca didn’t buy a CB. He represents a misallocation of resources.
      No mention by the Villistas of his contribution, which was pretty dire.

    2. I agree with you. Song is made a scapegoat. he was not bad, except for a couple of poor passes. He worked hard. This is a new system in which , even Cesc with all his past is taking his time to adapt. Why do we expect Song to adapt with a few games.
      It is just routine of British media to find fault with every player who moved to Barca from EPL. In the beginning they talked the same way about Mascherrano and Cesc too.
      Anyways, I would not say XAvi was our weak link.
      But its worrying that Xavi is quite not good, when we face bus.

    3. Perhaps ZM should be reminded of the Chelsea games last season.

      I’d like to see them lay the onus on Song for those games. 🙂

      It’s pretty simple: when the team plays the high defensive line, the team must score first to break the bus.

      Tito said before the game that Barca was aware that Celtic’s danger would come from set pieces and fast counters which is exactly how their 2 goals were scored.

      The defence may be copping the flak, but the Barca attack’s lack of success contributed way more to the team’s loss. Huge possession stats in favour of Barca, but nothing to show for it.

    4. “… Alex Song isn’t good enough …our crippling dearth of real defensive players has and will continue to cost us games.”

      cost us which games? the losses vs celtic or RM? or the one tie we’ve had all year? our record is better now than at the same time last year. is the writer suggesting we would have won all our competitive matches without song?

    5. i will say we are letting in too many goals, but neither is that songs fault.

      not saying i am decided on how long he will or should be with barca, but i agree song is un “chivo expiatorio”

  22. In fact, could someone explain to me how the holding midfielder (93 percent pass completion) is to blame when Barca can’t break down a parked bus. When has Busquets ever had a major role in doing that. He always patrols the periphery.

  23. In the last 15 minutes, why didn’t Tito move Piqué to centre forward? Pique’s played that role before in similar situations. Very frustrating seeing our tallest player on the periphery at that point.

    1. Maybe because we have proved repeatedly this season that we can come back staying true to our style.

    2. Overall, Barca were pretty damn good on the night, considering the opponent, the ground, etc, etc. But often, in football, the result is an imposter.
      Further, I thought Alexis was excellent. Saw no signs he lacks confidence. Just needs a bit of luck.

    3. Yeah, Alexis had a good game from what I saw, although I missed the first 30 minutes due to a blackout. I don’t think we played that well, but we didn’t play badly either. It’s just one of those games, I guess…

    1. It was extremely hard to not quote some of of the piece, but then, what to include? The whole thing is so comprehensive it has to be taken as a whole.

  24. OT: M’vila banned from France National team until June 2014 for an unexcused night out on the town with other players during a U21 qualifying game. Big loss if France qualify for Brazil 2014 WC. I’m very high on him, but seems he needs to adjust his attitude. He was suspended 1 game for refusing to shake Laurent Blanc’s hand after being substituted during a game. I admire France for drawing a line in the sand. Their team has had to much player chaos in the last few years.
    Here’s more on the story from the BBC:

  25. Watched the match again, read through all the comments here, and quick and dirty:

    –There were deficiencies in Alex Song’s game, but that wasn’t why Celtic scored two goals.

    –The goals, as usual, didn’t really come from not having “defenders who can defend,” as someone put it above. They came from a bit of slack marking that still would have been gotten away with, were Jordi Alba a normal-sized humanoid.

    –Their second goal was, like Torres’ goal at the Camp last year, a consequence of blind-ass luck. The ball just bounced the exact right way, with the entire team pressed WAY up the pitch. It happens.

    –Puyol trained with the group today. You know that that means.

    –Mallorca is going to be tough. For realz.

    –Celtic is class. So were our players.

    –Montoya was called up for the Spain friendly next week. Very cool.

    –Dani Alves did the presser today, and man, was he ON. Here are some choice bon mots:

    Alves: “Competition with Montoya? When Barça signed me, they never promised me I’d always start. I can only work hard every day.”

    “Ronaldo thinking he’s behind Messi because of his bad image? Everyone is behind Messi, because of Leo’s talent.”

    “If Ballon d’Or is for best player, the formula doesnt make sense as long as Messi is around. They should give a trophy per position”

    “Barcelona needs a plan B against defensive teams? We don’t need a plan B, but to stick to our philosophy and improve the plan A.

    “I’m not happy with my performances so far this season. The main thing is to get back at my best physically, the rest will follow.”

    “Team attacks more via left wing this season? Because I’m not as good! When I’m again in my best form, things will be more balanced.”

    “Plan B with tall striker? Tried that, but it didn’t work. Our idea is that players ‘arrive’ at the area, not that they ‘are’ there.”

    1. –Puyol trained with the group today. You know that that means.

      That he’ll get injured again during his first game back?

      Bite my tongue!!! Bad blitzen!!! 😈

    2. “Ronaldo thinking he’s behind Messi
      because of his bad image?
      Everyone is
      behind Messi, because of Leo’s talent.”

      Whoa. I seriously didn’t expect him to actually believe that he is on par with Messi.

      I agree with Alves. It is not a popularity contest or to see who’s the nicest person . It’s supposed to be the best player award. Best footballer. At least that’s how I see it. I never try to bring humility or personality when judging a player.

      “If Ballon d’Or is for best player, the
      formula doesnt make sense as long as Messi
      is around. They should give a trophy per

      He’s kinda right. How do you choose a Ballon d’Or? Best footballer? Most trophies?

      Imagine Messi plays for Espanyol. Would you still choose him as the Ballon d’Or? I would definitely still think that he is the best player.

      But then he wouldn’t go in any competition and wouldn’t win any trophy.

      I still would vote for him as the Ballon d’Or if he competed in all competitions till the end. Say like Arsenal.

    3. Yeah, but if the gave a trophy per position it would devalue the trophy a lot. I do think they should have a separate trophy for keepers, though.

    4. Reactions are going to be what they are going to be given the success tito and the team have had thus far overall and specifically in coming back from a deficit.
      This series against celtic has been fantastically illuminating for a number of reasons.

      As kxevin mentioned earlier, celtic represent a terribly tough match up for barca big, physical, direct, disciplined, strong, and fit. Further, everybody knew how celtic was going to play in both legs and they came out and did it very successfully. However, they were in both legs, led both legs, and won one of them. They were also not dirty or foul fests. They were terribly well organized, well defended, ridiculously efficient, and a bit lucky. It could be argued that the difference in the result of the two games came down to that luck, in the form of hitting the post and the crossbar. However, i think that the way celtic were in both games refutes that. It just shows how tough it is to be barca even when you have the personnel to complete the formula to do so. Luck is a necessary ingredient, along with the others including great games by the keeper. I was most impressed by the stamina and discipline of celtic’s players, both were remarkable.

      The biggest take home from these two games was that the most obvious formula to give your team the best change to beat barca remains the same. Again, i argue that this is the case because of the performance over both legs. The biggest take home is that it hasn’t been systematically or emphatically corrected this season, at least not yet or at least not with the personnel available for these fixtures. Whether it is fair to expect that that hole had been closed or not is another argument, it wasn’t.

      The goals celtic scored weren’t flukes anymore than the goals barca scored. Celtic intentionally exploited barca’s defensive weaknesses on set pieces and counters. Case and point the first goal. Alba was there and straight beaten. That advantage is knowable, predictable, and exploitable. It is also not likely something that could be corrected by buying a CB over the summer. Does one player fix all the mismatches on corners? What about if both puyol and pique were playing? Gives a much better chance, but it remains a exploitable weakness. Also, celtic’s second goal. Can celtic predict that xavi is going to flail ineffectively at a ball that falls fortuitously? no. However, did they commit a strong pacey player to being close on sMasche? Have goals been scored at similar times in similar situations? Did they actually make an offensive substitution to ensure that would be the case? So even though the specific case was fortunate, the possibility was predictable. celtic maximized that possibility. that isn’t luck, or if it is then it’s at least making your own luck. and come on it’s celtic at home. you have to bet on some luck for them right 😉

      So obviously barca are still vulnerable to a team like celtic. Hasn’t anything been done? What can be done? What about an f’ing plan B?
      Really hate the “plan b” term. Because, how many different formations and attacks have we seen from barca? How many in this match? how many different ways does barca have of trying to make room for messi? if we call plan A the “standard” 4-3-3, then does moving sanchez into a nominal 9 in front of messi constitute a plan b? what about swinging messi to the right as an inverted winger, plan c? bringing the all time leading scorer for spain off the bench, plan d? how about cesc as false whatever, plan e? tello, plan f? so the point of plan b is a tall guy to toss crosses to right? what about pique as #9? Been tried before, the option is available, fits the “plan b” mold. Never been terribly effective as far as i can remember. in fact i think the team has come back more times this season with multivariate plan a than pique as #9 has ever produced. also, how many of dani’s crosses was anybody going to get to that somebody didn’t?

      what could be improved given what barca’s got at the moment?

      most obviously, busquets for song. These matches were another advert for how important busquets is and how replaceable he isn’t. Did song overtly cause either goal? no. but he almost cost a couple goals and was ridiculously lucky not to be tossed. Also, needing to sub song forced tito’s hand and forced xavi into the spot were the error for the second goal started. I also wonder if tito doesn’t start cesc if busquets is playing, or at least sub xavi for cesc sooner.

      obviously one or both of puyol and pique help shore up the defense in general, and on corners specifically.

      i think that if tito weren’t being so measured about villa’s recovery he would have started or at least come in sooner. on current form and later in the season villa starts. i think he is more dangerous in these type of games where space is tight and short passing and getting off tight shots is necessary.

      if thiago comes back and is able to play like himself he’ll be dangerous. his slashing style would’ve been a a useful tool to have, in addition to his ability and willingness to shoot.

      at least on current form, and i’d argue in general. this was not going to be a game for dani. if adriano was available i think he’d have gotten the nod. given more options at the back i think we might have seen a different formation if not from the start then at some point when chasing the game. i just don’t think tito was going to do anything with bartra starting an away CL match, especially on this fround, but put him in his most comfortable formation.

      i could type more i think, but this is crazy long already, sorry.

    5. ” what about pique as #9? Been tried before, the option is available, fits the “plan b” mold. Never been terribly effective as far as i can remember. !

      Thank you, I thought I was the only person who does not like it when we resort to playing Pique up front!

  26. 8 Barcelona players called up for
    Panama v Spain friendly: Valdes,
    Montoya, Alba, Busquets, Iniesta,
    Cesc, Villa, and Pedro

    How come Xavi was omitted? Not that I’m complaining cause he can make do with a rest but with him in, it would’ve been 9 players! Can nearly make up the whole team.

    And imagine with Pique and Puyol in. That would be incredible. Can Make up the whole team!!

    I’m glad Montoya is called up again. Hopefully this time he can keep Arbeloa out.

    I’m not too confident that Bartra can sit Pique or Ramos though.

  27. The only name that makes sense in there is Montoya actually.
    It’s a freaking friendly.
    In Panama.
    Playing against panama.
    It’s about time Del Bosque experimented with some of the Spanish abundance of talent it’s right in front of him to pick, integrating youth, evolving B plans and planning in case of injuries.

    But no he had to drag the WC and Euro holders half way around the globe while they played the whole summer for their colours , won the tournament and have a pretty stiff schedule in front of them to play a friendly and win. Against Panama *sigh

  28. Barca the real winners. Nice article.

    1. You’re being sarcastic right? Because that article was dripping in so much sarcasm that I don’t think I’ll be able to wash it off for days!

      His slagging off Barcelona’s possession-based game seems a bit late though, since Tito has gladly swapped possession for more attacking plays, in the league at least.

Comments are closed.