Defense, aka “Is it offensive?”

“Hello! I’m a sieve. Not to be confused with our defense!”

In the elegance (or desperation, for you cynics) of repurposing, here’s a bit of news: Every now and again, the mods have e-mail natters about various things team related. Sometimes they lead to posts, sometimes not. The dialogue is almost always excellent, in that it shapes and forms notions and future approaches. Yesterday and today, we’ve been on about defense, and I thought it worth bringing to the family for some discussion.)

Luke (yes, you all remember him …) kicked things off with:

What’s wrong with the Barcelona defense?

A. Injuries depleted an already thin unit
B. Numerous players out of position causing defensive formation and positional issues
C. Mascherano regression to the mean
D. Voodoo caused by Real Madrid-loving gods
E. Urge to eat tasty, tasty tacos too great for defenders to care

Discuss!

I had some thoughts:

For me, none of the above. They are simple errors caused by varied and sundry things, including opponents playing us differently.

If you look at the goals that we have conceded, rare is the goal that isn’t rooted in an error, a “clean” goal, so to speak. The first Celtic goal was the last one in a while.

I think that it’s just the rub of the game. Someone would look at today’s two conceded and think “Dem dere boys got issues.” But one was a ridic Mascherano giveaway and a wholly uncovered right side, the other a debatable handball call in the box.

When the team plays mistake-free football, there are rarely conceded goals. This is why I think that Vilanova brushes off all “defensive crisis” questions.

Luke:

I think, as I said to you on Twitter, that is has to do with Pique still not being match fit, Alves possibly losing a step or just generally falling out of position, and Mascherano regressing to the mean for a career DM playing CB with another CB, Pique, who he doesn’t compliment his skills all too well

Me, again

What consoles me is I can’t think of a conceded goal that we wouldn’t have given up even with the first-choice back line. They have been those kinds of bust-outs. So while conceding goals is a bit worrisome, there aren’t signs of a systemic breakdown.

Euler came in with some excellent points:

The immediate problems in defense are clearly related to the run of injuries at the back.  That’s the baseline issue at play.  But the problems are also deeper than that.  Think it really starts with Abidal’s loss. More than even Puyol or Pique, Abidal over the past 2 seasons, grew into the foundation for Barca’s solidity at the back.   They never were able to replace his skill set fully.  Seemed they were rolling the dice that Thiago Silva would be in the shirt — it didn’t work out. Besides him there were no clear players who could provide what Abidal did — and even Silva was a problematic option due to his injury history (and his height somewhat).

One of the reasons why Mascherano’s not having the season he had last year is because he no longer has Abidal covering behind him.

Overall the problem with the back line is that the team has lost complementarity. The CB pairs are too similar in skill set, style or demeanor. Pique, Masche, Song, and even Puyol to a certain extent — all have the tendency to want to move forward — either to play out the ball or tackle. We’re lacking the complementary piece who will organize the back and provide covering solidity. This is particularly true in the air.

Alba is fantastic in attack. But he’s also a liability for this back line due to his height. The team is simply too small now at the back — the corner conceded to Celtic was so telling in this regard. The zonal marking worked perfectly. It’s just that Wynama had no problem overpowering Alba and winning the header — a header which was in a location zonal marking is specifically designed to stop.

If Alba is going to be the L FB then adding height to the CB spot was critical. The club didn’t do that. It’s another dimension to lost complementarity.

The other factor that’s going on is difficulty with the transition defense. Part of this is playing Cesc — his job is to make vertical runs. But those runs take him out of defensive position on the press.

And the bigger issue here is how the FCB attack is being defended. Teams have finally evolved a set of “best practices” to use vs the FCB system. Playing deep and retaining shape is an even greater focus now than in the past — but even more importantly teams know how to play that system better. That’s required Tito to devote more and more players to the attack. That’s why we’ve seen the 4-2-4/ 2-3-5 formations so often. That’s FCB’s “Plan B” so to speak. Crack open defensive shape by achieving numerical superiority vs. the opposition back line. This started under Pep last year. Tito’s building on that now.

That change has been instrumental to all of the comebacks the team has engineered this season. Really augments the attack. But I do think Tito doesn’t want to keep putting off those issues until the end of matches. So he has and I think will continue to take more risks early on to score first. But that’s going to create problems in the transition defense. It’s almost inevitable.

That’s what we saw vs Mallorca. The problem with the transition defense there wasn’t even at the back. It was primarily due to Villa’s positioning. Tito had Villa play almost like Messi in ’08-09. He put him on the right in a free role. He did this so that there would be an attacking pt of reference centrally in front of Messi and Cesc vs Mallorca’s “parked bus.” It worked great — every goal they scored was influenced by having a player at the 9 occupying the Mallorca CBs. But the trade off here is that Alves was required to also reprise his ’08-’09 role — he had to play the entire R flank by himself.

That worked great in the first half. But Capparos finally saw what was going on and made adjustments to the Mallorca transition attack. In the first half they kept trying to counter with balls in the air to Barca’s L — goal was to take advantage of Masche and Alba’s height. In the second half Mallorca started playing balls long into the space behind Alves on the R. Wasn’t really Alves’s fault — he was filling the role Tito wanted him to. Tito honestly should have converted back to traditional 4-3-3 up 3-0 so that we’d have a RW to track runs and allow Alves to play deeper. This is why Tito took Villa off and used Sanchez — Sanchez’s pace allows him to play centrally but still augment the transition defense wide on the R flank.

This is a theme we’ve seen over and over this season — breaking down the bus has been very effective in goal scoring but it has required sheer numbers which diminish the transition defense, especially when coupled with the lack of complementarity at the back. This is similar to the story of the Chelsea CL semis last season in terms of defense (attack has obviously been much better this season).

And there you have it

I and others have said before that Abidal was the biggest loss to the back line, for reasons that Euler spells out better than my “Abidal run fast, make others look better. Ugh.”

But it should never, ever go without saying that his sideline-to-sideline range meant that yes, Alves could screw up, and Mascherano or Puyol could get caught up the pitch. The French Greyhound was always around to bail them out, not just with defense, but with the right pass.

So what’s next? Is it as simple a matter of just waiting for Puyol to return, and Pique to regain full fitness? Not to my view, nor Euler’s. I suspect that this team will be walking a tightrope all season. The only difference between Celtic and Mallorca is that we scored first against the latter. Now more than ever, the first goal is crucial for this side, for so many reasons:

–Comfort
–Makes the other team come out and play
–Allows us the luxury of playing keep-away
–Inevitably leads to more goals

What I think is that the alleged frailty of our back line, which is in fact rooted in a riskier style of play, also means that players such as Pedro, Fabregas and Sanchez are going to become increasingly of value for their defensive abilities. I don’t think this will augur well for Villa, who doesn’t track back consistently enough to argue for increasing, rather than decreasing, minutes. And if Sanchez actually (shudder!) becomes productive on the offensive end, Wrongaldo isn’t going to be the only Liga attacker who will be sad. This new, attacking approach also makes everyone tracking back even more crucial. Note how Messi reverted to his old pit bull self against Mallorca, with excellent work on defense and midfield pressure.

So. What say you all? Do we or don’t we have defensive problems? As Luke says, “Discuss.”

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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.

124 Comments

  1. Luke
    November 12, 2012

    That’s right, I’m back babies!

    • Blau-Grenade
      November 13, 2012

      Good to have you back Luke. Look forward to some of your posts.

  2. mom4
    November 12, 2012

    So, say Abidal pulls off another miracle and comes back. Even if health and anti-rejection meds are somehow a non-issue, our French greyhound is now a year older. If Alves at age 29 is losing a step, what of Abi at 33?

    So while Abi’s comeback may be be the feel good story of the decade, it may not solve our problems. If it solves our problems it will not be sustainable as he’s no spring chicken and like Puyi, will not be able to play forever *dang, but it makes me sad to type this*.

    Here’s the kicker; I don’t think he’s replaceable. So, I guess what I’m saying is… to hell with finding a “plan B” for our offense, we should be working on one for our defense. Our philosophy can stay the same, but our system, how we implement the philosophy may need to be tweeked a little.

    • adelhani
      November 14, 2012

      Hi everyone,to explain my self, i have to go 4-5 years back !!!
      we have to look back in the history of the transfers that FC barca made,
      07/08 :
      Milito :20 M ( although he was not fit and Real.M didn’t buy him for that reason)
      (20 M lost)
      08/09 :
      Martín Cáceres : 16.5 M ( in his case i think was not that wrong,but the amount is big !!!)
      Henrique : 8 M ( yes he didn’t play for Barca !!)
      Aleksandr Hleb : 17M ( he was never a scorer , never )
      (41 M lost)
      09/10 :
      zlatan : 70M ( but not for 40M + Eto )
      Keirrison : 14M ( don’t know what to say !!!)
      Dmytro Chygrynskiy : 25M ( another shocking ,money wasted )
      (74M lost)
      10/11:
      villa : 40M ( good but late)
      Mascherano : 20M (good)
      11/12 :
      alexis :26 M ( is good)
      Fabrigas 34 M ( more than should be, but very good player )
      12/13 :
      Alba :14 M
      song :19 M

      why to sell yaya for 30M and buy Mascherano & song (20+19 = 39 M)
      and he his much better than both together !!!
      Barcelona lost bout 125 M and yaya & Eto for not better replacement …

      In the same time Real Madrid bought in 2005 Ramos for 27M (when he was just 19) and Pepe in 2007 for 30M )
      and they are much better than what we have ….

      I have to say that pep.G ( i like very much ) made huge mistakes in Transfer market, and what barcelona saved Thanks to youth academy ( Xavi,insiata,busq….) wasted on players who did nothing.

      what Barca could do this year if we didn’t have money???
      there was no need for Song (19M) and got pogba from Manu for free 19 years old MD very strong and fast and 189cm .
      bought Agger from LV for the money.. ( he not long term investment, but for 3-4 years, has problem that he gets injured …)
      (the best replacement for King-abi ,can play LB)
      or lucio for free,
      I don’t think that Hummels is good defender for barca, because he is not fast and too ‘heavy ‘ (and we have one like him Pique).
      what can we do now ???
      sell villa for good price (because he is 31).
      buy aguero or (falcau), and get llorente or klose for free.
      get defender for short term and next year another one for long term (like real madrid did when they bought Raphaël Varane for 10M ).

      all what i wanted to say is : Barcelona saved a lot of money Thanks to the academy, and they should invest the money on top players with no risks, So i think in January they should go for defender, like Agger from LV, or Ivanovic from chelsea.
      in the summer :
      GK : they have to buy the next ‘manuel neuer’
      Defender’s : puyol ,pique,bartra,(Agger or Ivanovic), + 1 healthy defender.
      striker: sell villa & afellay and buy aguero (or falcau) and get klose for free.
      no need for neymar because you have Deulofeu

      play puyol just in the important games, like giggs in Manu and he will give you 3-4 years more,like maldini.

      • swamidigital
        November 15, 2012

        No doubt Barca have been poor in the transfer market but some of this is revisionist history. For example Yaya was sold because I doubt he’d be happy as a backup ‘glue’ guy slotting in wherever, whenever. Busi claimed that regular first XI spot, and Yaya is a starting quality DM anywhere but on our team. So he went. Zlatan as a footballer could have been great with us. But he was unhappy not being the center of the team, and his attitude was the reason he didn’t fit.

        You also make some good suggestions but make no account for how those purchases fit into the team.

  3. Benj
    November 12, 2012

    Just having a good hard think about who could actually come in, even in an unrealistic world, and really strengthen the back line in Abi’s place or even to replace el capitan? Having a look at the EPL’s top teams, theres only 4 that I’d even consider, and none of them would be available for sale apart from paying rtidiculous fees. Kompany, for his obvious class, ball playing and sheer strength, for corners and FKs. Agger for the same reason, although he pushes forward alot. Vermaelen, who can cover LB aswell, good in set peice situations, but inconsistent. Santon, but he’s a LB not a CB, but thats what we said about Abi.

    Otherwise, I’d love for us to just pinch Hummels and/or Subotic. Amazing CB pairing, they comppliment each other so well. Oh and what ever happened to Musacchio after the yellow submarine sunk? He looked half decent and still a spring chicken.

    Now off topic for a moment but I had to share this with my Barca Bro’s and Bro-ettes. I’m aware that there are a couple of cules here that support teams in other leagues, I beleive that one of the SoMa’s is a gunner? Im sure there’s a few more here and there? I would like to know why so many people seem to villify those who support more than one team?

    I am a Cule, but Im also a Red. I’ve been brought up supporting both Liverpool and Barcelona all of my life and for other Liverpool supporters, that is a crime punishable by keyboard warrior-ing ad nauseum. It’s not as though I support Liverpool and Everton or Liverpool and United, my teams are in different leagues and on the rare occasion that they do meet, I love it! Either way I’m happy!

    Just wanted to know if anyone else has faced this? Maybe it’s because these angry reds are in Liverpool and therefore can only support the one club, whereas I’m in Australia and don’t see the big deal. Apparently Im not a real fan and a traitor and all sorts.

    Cheers all

    • Skipper5
      November 12, 2012

      hey Benj, im also a LFC fan. i do think most people support different clubs, its just silly to berate some1 for supporting both Genoa and Everton…

    • K_legit in Oz
      November 12, 2012

      Whereabouts in Australia you at?

      • Benj
        November 13, 2012

        Over in P-Town, Perth WA. Yeah I just thought it’s very closed-minded to assume that if you love one club, you can’t love another, unconnected club…

        Skipper, I’m sure you’ve heard of Jaimie Kanwar’s Liverpool-kop? If not, head over there and I invite any BFB’ers to visit, have a look at the comments section and just be amazed at how terrible the conversation is.

        Makes me glad to be a part of a community of fans that can discuss without ‘Rodgers out’ ‘your not a fan’ and ‘classless’ every day.

    • Lev
      November 13, 2012

      The way I was brought up, you either support your club or not. You might sympathize with some other clubs, but that’s about it. It’s an “I might think other girls are hot, but I love my wife and I’m all hers” type of thing… Then again, being from Australia (as in, not from Europe) could be part of why it is not a big deal to you – you were just not brought up to be faithful to a sports club like us.

      Keep in mind that you asked the question, and I’m answering it for you. I don’t mean to villify you or to belittle you as a fan! What happens when Barça play Liverpool though? How can you possibly be true to either one?

      • Messiah10
        November 13, 2012

        I feel how Lev feels. I support Barca and that’s it. Now, do I fancy Dortmund because of their coach, players, and attractive football they play, hell yes. I even cheer for them when I watch Bundesliga games, however, I don’t bleed yellow and black. I don’t even know everyone on their roster, mostly because it to damn hard to pronounce their names! lol. I enjoy watching the EPL and do fancy certain teams over others. I fancy certain players over others, but that’s the extent of my feelings. There’s no “love” there. Just admiration.

        • Lev
          November 13, 2012

          “There’s no “love” there.” those were the words I wanted to say but couldn’t think of… I can completely understand being a fan of different clubs in different leagues – when I was a child I supported Ajax, Milan and Barcelona, lol. But I can only LOVE one team. Fortunately, given all that has happened the last 10 years, that team has been Barça for a long time now 🙂

          • mom4
            November 13, 2012

            Hey, that’s what I was trying to say below. There’s a fondness, a preference for some teams, but a love for one.

            I’ve gotta have those preferences because I am incapable of watching a game as a neutral.

            But others may feal more strongly about their second team, different strokes…

      • Benj
        November 13, 2012

        Hey Lev, thanks man and thanks to everyone for their open and honest responses, it’s great to hear a few points of view without hearing ‘its us or them, you have no choice’. I fully respect others complete love in one club, but I can’t help loving them both. I am tied up in Liverpool history after having lost loved ones at Hillsborough on my dad’s side, and yet my maternal abuelo’s side of the family supported Barca since before the civil war and up until he passed away, he still saw it as Franco vs Barca, and that kind of thing sticks with you. Not to mention growing up watching the likes of Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, Steve McManaman on one channel and Deco, Ronaldinho, Eto’o and my two favourite players of all time, Luis Enrique and Xavi on the other.
        I know that people feel I’m having my cake and eating it too, but I couldn’t separate my love for the two teams. My closet is full of Barca & Liverpool Jerseys, my walls covered in Istanbul 05 and Rome 09 posters, hell even my fantasy football side is annually named BarcaPool FC.
        Anyway as someone said, I’ll support my way, and I love the way you guys are so passionate about this amazing club, without rubbishing anyone who supports in a different manner.
        And to whoever asked about who I would support in an LFC vs FCB game, as has happened in the past, I say that I watch for the pure enjoyment of seeing Gerrard on the same pitch as Xavi, Pepe opposing VV, Messi v Suarez. I know that in todays day the result would be collosally in favour of Barca, but I’d just love watching it.
        Thanks again all and apologies for my long off topic posts, I’ll try to keep them back on topic.

      • Skipper5
        November 14, 2012

        when Barca and LFC play then im a Red. or should i say i will be happier if LFC wins. i do not have an absolute obsession with everything Barca, i do not follow anything else Barca besides the matches and this blog (was ever a greater compliment passed?) i admit i love this current crop of players and this style of play (bandwagon cule?). if Barca started playing Route 1 football and Valencia started playing as good as this Barca team then you can be sure i will be watching mo Valencia matches. Not so with LFC, i still watched even during the hodgson stint…

    • mom4
      November 13, 2012

      Hiya,

      I have a soft spot for several English teams:
      Liverpool because our friends who turned us unto this sport loved them so much.
      Everton, US keeper.
      Wigan, I like their coach and they are my underdog team.
      Arsenal, because of their style (one does get tired of watching the English sides thumping it up the field or out to touch constantly)

      I can’t watch a game as a neutral. I just can’t. If I’m at a bar with hubby watching American football, even passively, I will “pick” a team to cheer for (usually based on how the outcome of the game will affect my beloved Baltimore Ravens, sometimes based on which jersey I like better if the outcome doesn’t matter).

      So if I’m watching EPL futbol early on a Saturday morning waiting for the good Spanish stuff to come on, I need to have a vested interest. If one of my “pet” teams is playing I cheer for them. Arsenal, dysfunctional as they are, has dibs on my support above the others. They are “my second team” BUT, when Arsenal faces my Barca, there isn’t even the hint of sympathy for Arsenal in my heart!

      Anywho, I know Kxevin likes Montpellier, so there are others here who have a second team.

      Make your fandom your own and don’t worry about what others think!

    • November 13, 2012

      Well, some people would say that you can’t be a “real” supporter of a club unless you were born within sight of the stadium. I’m sure there are plenty of people in Barcelona who resent how “international” their club has become. So I would take what your Liverpool friends say with a grain of salt. There is no “right” way to support a team.

      My only real club is Barcelona, partly out of loyalty, but also because I just don’t have enough energy to be that emotionally invested in more than one club. I have other clubs I support for one reason or another—Arsenal, Villarreal, Toronto FC (god, they suck)—and others I like and want to do well—Athletic Bilbao, Rayo Vallecano, Swansea (for Laudrup). But in no case would I ever cheer for one of those teams against Barcelona.

      • barca96
        November 13, 2012

        Even though Barça was the first European team that I watched in 1992 CL final and supported (no thanks to my Dad being Dutch and a Cruyff fan), I only started watching football regularly in 1995 when I moved to Holland. Ajax was my team and Barça was my team. They were on the tv quite a lot. Most probably because of Cruyff.

        But my love for Barça only started in 1996 after Ronaldo moved there. Before that it was just a crush.

        Now I have 2 teams. And I’m lucky enough that the only time they played was the friendly in 1999 🙂

        So yeah I do think it’s ok to support 2 teams at once. But Barça is where 90% of my heart is partly because I left Holland in 2000 so it’s hard to follow them. Much easier to follow a big team such as Barça. Which tv station would like to broadcast the Mickey Mouse League (Eredivisie)? 🙂

        • Messiah10
          November 13, 2012

          I would much rather watch the Eredivisie than MLS!!! Unfortunately, I’m stuck with MLS games that I cannot watch nor particularly want to. I have been to Columbus Crew games when they won the title in ’08? me thinks. That was a fun year because they had Schelotto. He was simply inspiring and a classic Argentinian play maker. What a joy to watch him live.

  4. ooga aga
    November 13, 2012

    what do yall think about mallorcas first goal yesterday. how on earth did nobody in our defense pick up Pereira’s run? the sky sports guys were blaming alves but i would say pique was caught watching ball and totally unaware of pereira behind him. he should have looked around. either way, giant fail from our defense.

    • Messiah10
      November 13, 2012

      I agree no one picked up the run, but maybe because they thought, “well that ball will be dealt with. There you go Masch, handle it, oh no…wtf!…damn it!

      • Jim
        November 13, 2012

        Nothing to do with Pique who had to cover the possible run of the man on the ball. His positioning was spot on imo.

        First of all, ridiculous loss by Masch. There was absolutely no danger – he could have hoofed it clear, headed it out, kept possession or played a sensible safe ball back. He did none of these. Goal is completely down to him and its not the first time . . . You can see how annoyed he is with himself after the goal . . . and rightly so.

        However, having said, that Dani’s weakness is that he saw the possibility of the man breaking free but decided not to do anything until it was too late. He just doesn’t seem to see defence as his first priority unless he’s against CR7. He saw the man breaking behind Pique but did nothing until his run was so advanced that he couldnt catch him. Even if we were going to keep possession he was too far up the park for playing it out from the back.

  5. KEVINO17
    November 13, 2012

    All excellent points. Of course, defence isn’t just about tracking back, it’s about pressing to stop attacks before they get started. Pedro and Alexis are great at that. They look like seagulls going after a chip.
    Interesting that Alexis has been injury free this year. I read they were putting him on a new diet to stop muscle tears. Cesc also seems to be getting a lot fewer injuries than at Arsenal. So maybe the Barca medical staff really know what they are doing.

  6. November 13, 2012

    Excellent article.
    Its a difficult situation, we do let in more goals, but that is bound to be because of the way we play now.
    I dont think there is any body better than Euler in analysing and explaining tactics.

    • Jim
      November 13, 2012

      I’m not buying this we have to lose goals because of the way we play theory. We don’t actually need everybody attacking to break a bus. If we allow one defender to join the attack we have seven attackers around their box. If we’re not gonna do something with that number we ain’t doing anything. Our problem has always been that both full backs attack at the same time. This should never happen. If our two wingers are providing the width that is enough. None of our goals came particularly from width anyway.

      We are losing goals because our defenders aren’t good enough. If we are fortunate enough to get Puyol and Piqué back together for a run of games the clean sheets will come as they did before.

  7. Messiah10
    November 13, 2012

    I know Messi has been praised for his pressing against Mallorca, but I didn’t see what others did. There were quite a few times Messi gave up the ball and I was yelling at him to get it back. It’s been like this for a couple of seasons as Kxevin and others have pointed out. I’m all for conserving energy, but if our defense is going to be the most effective it CAN BE then Messi has to track back and press EVERY time he loses the ball! I realize there are exceptions to the rule, i.e. a defender tackles the ball away from him and the ball rolls to far away or closer to a teammate to deal with, but I’m not convinced by this “conserve” energy method. ALL of our players, especially our front line, need to press and press like there’s no tomorrow. This prevents those passes to the midfield who then have time to pick out a long ball over the top of our back line. I had to stream the Mallorca game, so maybe I’m being a bit harsh in my criticism, but it’s not an isolated incident. To many times Messi loses the ball and just stops. No effort whatsoever to regain possession or even put a tiny bit of pressure on the opposing player. In order for our defense to be effective and stop conceding silly, ridiculous goals that we have been then everyone needs to step up. Oh yeah, we also need Abi BACK!

    • November 13, 2012

      Let the record show that I am posting under my own name, rather than having hijacked Messiah10’s moniker. (Hehehehe!)

      • barca96
        November 13, 2012

        I rather have Messi not track back rather than lose 20+ goals a season. Noone else can take it over from him.

        But why is the focus only on Messi? Xavi and Iniesta don’t track back sometimes as well and they are the ones who should do more as the protect the defenders. Cesc is the only midfielder (excluding Busi of course since he is a DM) whose aggressively tracks back.

        • Messiah10
          November 13, 2012

          Why would we lose 20+ goals a season? How do you even arrive at that number? Xavi and Iniesta track back more than their fair share. Most of the time Xavi doesn’t have to track back or press because he rarely loses the ball. When he does he’s right after the defender who took it. Iniesta doesn’t press as much as he used to, but he does track back and help out when teams are on a counter. He’s just not that effective at it. Messi is probably our best ball winner as well. We need him doing more defensively to help the rest of the guys out. If he’s our future captain then he’ll have to lead by example. I’m not bashing him btw. Obviously, by my username I have a very very very big man crush on Messi! lol. However, I can’t bite my tongue any longer or ignore the fact that he’s not pressing or defending much anymore and it’s affecting our team defense.

          • Ryan
            November 13, 2012

            I think barca96 is getting that 20 goals number by comparing the ’08 Messi who scored around 50 goals and tracked back, to the Messi we have now who scores 70 goals and conserves energy.

          • barca96
            November 14, 2012

            I got that number from the difference of pre-lazy Messi and three current Messi and I was being really generous with the numbers.

            Why is it ok for Xavi and Iniesta to not pressure? It is ok for you for Xavi not to track back when he loses the ball? But what if historical team mate loses the ball? I would like him to track back and help too. Same goes with Iniesta. Cesc is the only midfield besides Busi whose is always harassing the opponents.

            Yes Messi’s is very good at disposessing the ball but he is even better in creating and scoring so I would prefer him to stick with what he does best for the team.

            Perhaps when he moves into a midfield position 5-7 years later whenever he loses his pace, he can start pressuring all game again.

            Another thing to consider is, most of the times Messi loses the ball is when he is on a run. He is always a few steps in front of the ball in this scenario because he was on a run forward while the ball is stolen from him. Therefore he will most of the times be a few steps behind the defender who dispossessed him and be at a disadvantage.

            It’s different like when Xavi gets dispossessed. Xavi usually gets robbed off the ball while he is trying to control or shield the ball.

    • KEVINO17
      November 14, 2012

      Messi probably runs about 2 or 3 kilometres less than the other forwards. Maybe Tito has told him to save his energy. Watch Alexis the next time he loses the ball. Takes total ownership of the situation.

      • Jim
        November 14, 2012

        Yeah but scores how many less than Messi a season?

  8. Lev
    November 13, 2012

    Yay, another AKA!

    Definitely agree that Abidal is the one that is most missed, even though missing Puyol and Pique hasn’t helped. Mascherano not playing as well as a CB anymore – or getting found out by teams exploiting his weaknesses is a major letdown, too. Puyol coming back should help us but probably less than we hope. I remember the first half against Benfica. Captain caveman notwithstanding, the sieve was in full effect that night.

    Against teams like Mallorca and Celtic seemingly every chance they get is a goal. One of the differences with the past that has not been mentioned in this thread so far is that from 2008-2010 we had the best goalkeeper in the world saving Barça’s butt the countless of times it was left out to dry by our swashbuckling offense and defense. I think Victor is still a top goalkeeper, but yeah, there is a difference.

    So in my opinion we need the following:

    1. find a future replacement for Puyol, because it doesn’t look like Masche will fill that role.
    2. find a replacement for Pinto, at least someone with promise who can challenge for the no.1 spot – let VV step up his game.
    3. Find a replacement for King Eric. I also think that with Alba on the left we should try to find a replacement for Abidal on the right. Dani Alves is a top right back and I really like Montoya but they might not be the answer there.

    • Jim
      November 14, 2012

      We’re getting carried away again. Abidal was very solid at CB, less so at LB. he didd save us with his pace at CB quite a few times. However, Piqué and Puyol do the same with good starting positions and more importantly the ability to sense danger and snuff it out.

      Agreed on 1, agreed on 2, for 3 Alba is as quick as Abidal – we’ll need to see how good a defender he is as the games get tougher. Montoya shows signs of having good defensive instincts, unlike Dani, but will only be a work in progress for the next couple of years.

  9. Blau-Grenade
    November 13, 2012

    For me, with Alba operating on the left, the position that Dani operates, the right back becomes critical for defensive success. Montoya, I have found, has been a better defensive option than Dani, in the recent matches. Barca have a potential solution to their defensive issues in Montoya operating on the right. He should get more minutes. He is also taller and stronger in his built, and is more defense oriented than Dani.

    Because Barca plays a system where the wing backs(Adriano Alves Montoya Alba) bomb forward, a 3 man back line might be in order. A 3 man defensive line, of 3 of Pique Puyol Masch Bartra, with one of players bombing forward during attacking situations, could be a good solution to prevent break away scenarios. But this formation has its own issues as we have seen from going this formation last season against the white house. Also adding a person to defensive duties will compromising the attacking intent of the Barca team as, they will have one less player in the attack.

    So, the solution is no so black and white. It is a calculated risk and a fine balance between defense and attack, based on the team that Barca is playing. The transitions of formation when Barca attack and defend is key. Most goals scored against Barca are either set pieces or counter attacking scenarios. And they make sense to me.

    Set Pieces: Nothing much can be done here, Barca are a short team. They have to accept that the opposing team will put one against them in this situation and try to score a goal to compensate for this.

    Counters: Barca play with a high line, and many times they leave a big gap in the middle of the field. Classic, counter-attacking goal-poachers goals are inevitable when this type of defensive formation is in play.

    Euler alluded to Cesc, who likes to go into forward positions, leaving a hole in the midfield as one of the issues this year. In the game against Deportivo, it was Iniesta’s job as a midfielder to cover that position when Cesc would go forward, and play the role that Xavi plays, that is to become a defensive outlet in the midfield by falling back. But, Iniesta continued to stay on the left of the pitch in an attacking position. Although this resulted in a lot of goals by Barca, this also caused a leaky defense. So one of the issues with the current Barca is the assimilation of Cesc as a midfielder. There are still kink’s that need to be ironed out with how the team plays when he is around. Just as the current team is currently built to play around Xavi, what will ultimately happen in the coming years is that as Xavi declines, Cesc will assume similar playing style and responsibilities as in Arsenal, and the team will have to be built to work around him. The defense and attack will have to adjust to his runs forward, and that will be a work in progress that Barca will not be iron out this season, not with Xavi getting as many minutes as he does.

  10. Gogah
    November 13, 2012

    If you look at all the great teams, one undeniable common element in all of them is a good defense. A good team / system can always only be built on top of a good defense. Pep is known as one of the greatest teachers of attacking football, but he knew only too well of the importance of a good defense, which is clearly illustrated by how stingy the team was, under him, in terms of letting in goals in all the 4 seasons.
    Tito’s direct approach might be refreshing in the short term, but far from convincing in terms of a sustainable systemic approach over a long term. Even though Euler clearly de constructs, problems we are facing now, in my mind, are not going to completely go away with the return of all our defensive personnel. Yes, its true that almost all our goals have only come from unforced errors. But what if the current style of play increases the risk, not minimises, those errors? We need to not only summon the courage to think of replacements for an ageing Puyi and Abi, but also really work on fixing the consequences in the back resulting from this progression in style of our play. You’re spot on in predicting that we’re going to be walking a tight rope all through this season. Hopefully we’ll prevail. Visca.

  11. G6O
    November 13, 2012

    The thing is, as the original posts also discussed, a lot of the goals we have allowed this year have been truly freak errors or accidents that there really isn’t anything one can do to guard against.

    There have been own goals, penalty kicks for handballs, ridiculous giveaways, etc. Even against Celtic – the first goals was due to our lack of height, but the second was a Xavi mistake that he extremely rarely makes. Against Deportivo when we allowed four goals, it was a soft penalty, a free kick, an absurd own goal and only one goal from open play which, however, came after a corner kick that got deflected and the Deporitvo player managed to get it past Valdez so it’s not as if we were outplayed in that situation. Not much you can do about any of these.

    There are serious issues with the defense, that’s absolutely true, yet many of these goals happened due to sheer bad luck.

    • egcg119
      November 14, 2012

      I don’t think that’s sheer bad luck, I think that’s sloppy play. Mistakes are only bad luck if they happen very, very rarely. They are not happening rarely, they’re flying in thick and fast and it speaks to a lack of discipline in our defense. World-class defenders need to be at the top of their game mentally every second. If you get burned for pace, or beaten on a header, that’s fine. If you forget to mark someone or make a stupid tackle, as our team has continually done this season, I think that speaks to a systemic issue.

  12. barca96
    November 13, 2012

    Via Barcastuff

    Liga 2011-2012 awards > Best
    Keeper: Casillas
    Midfielder: Alonso

    These 2 awards are a bit weird to me.
    VV won the Zamora so how did Casillas manage to beat him? But in the end I still find it understandable.

    The weirdest of all is how the chose Alonso as the best midfielder?! Defensively Busi beats him. As a holding midfielder, Xavi beats him and overall Xavi, Iniesta and Busi beat him.

    • swamidigital
      November 13, 2012

      Those choices were probably purely because of who won La Liga.

    • Momo
      November 13, 2012

      I gotta disagree with you there, Alonso has been criminally underrated on these boards. He’s the reason EE play as well as they do, take him out and there a completely different team. Interms of overall reliance on a player I’d say EE need alonso even more than we need xavi.

      • Xingxian
        November 13, 2012

        100% agree with you Momo.

        I wouldn’t replace any of Xavi/Iniesta/Busquets with Alonso and I’m reluctant to remove a defender or forward for him, but if I were the EE coach *shudder* he’d be the first name on the teamsheet. Whether or not he can(/should) play is going to be the first question I ask before I start filling in any of the other positions.

    • nzm
      November 13, 2012

      The award that I like best was:

      Best Manager: Pep Guardiola.

      Mourinho must have loved that, after winning the league!

    • Doug
      November 14, 2012

      Alonso was voted as best holding midfielder.

      Don Andres was voted as best attacking midfielder.

  13. barca96
    November 13, 2012

    Has anyone here watched Wilfred Zaha play before or just a glimpse? This kid is pretty confident of his abilities even though he’s not even playing in EPL.

    He better be good and not another Defoe, Bent, Heskey, Walcott etc. Hype hype before they even achieve anything of note just became of a call up and in the end nothing.

    The only players from the English team that I look out the most for the past decade is Oxlade Chamberlain and Wilshere.

    • Messiah10
      November 13, 2012

      I think the youngster from Liverpool who’s 17 will be pretty good if he can work on goal scoring. He’s got blazing speed and makes intelligent runs already. Can’t think of his name at the moment. Had a call up already.

    • Messiah10
      November 13, 2012

      Also, from what everyone says, Zaha is the real deal. All the big clubs lining up a potential Jan. move for him. He’d be better off going to mid table team to get PT and develop, but if he takes the money, who can blame him.

    • Ryan
      November 13, 2012

      You forgot the biggest hyped flop of them all – Andy Carroll!

  14. ciaran
    November 13, 2012

    very interesting article Kxev, great to see that you are still writing.
    we do need another centreback, with pace but it’s unlikely we’ll be able to replace Abidal. Mats Hummels is the ball playing centreback with a bit of pace that i want. he has the positional sense to do so anyway.
    he makes interceptions like Busquets and then plays the ball like a central midfielder. He is also able to successfully play the ball forward directly.

    As mentioned above, the right full back position is important. Montoya is more tactically disciplined than Dani is so he is able to provide more cover at the minute. If we were to sell Dani next summer, as i expect we will, then I would love to see us getting someone who is defensively stronger but I’m not sure who fits the bill.

  15. nzm
    November 13, 2012

    By the time this discussion happened between the quoted mods, I was in dreamland, and about to head there again soon. 🙂

    My thoughts on this is a top-down perspective – we have the players, they’re just not doing the job as effectively as they could.

    Why? Because there is no leadership at the back. When’s Puyol’s absent, no one is marshalling the back-line.

    When Puyol’s on the pitch, he’s constantly keeping the back-line in formation, telling people where to go and which opposition players to cover.

    He’s a master at playing the offside because he doesn’t care about marking the opposition forwards. He puts them off-side so that the only way in which they’ll score is if Barca is unlucky enough to send through a ball that they have touched last.

    Someone needs to step into the leadership role down the back if Puyol’s not playing. Someone needs to be corralling the back-line players.

    It can’t be VV – he needs to concentrate on getting his own play sorted out, plus he’s too far back to read the positioning. It won’t be either of the side-backs because they’re too busy running up and down the sidelines to keep track of the play.

    It rests to a CB. If Puyol’s not on the pitch, it has to be Pique who takes the lead.

    Actually, the best thing that they could do would be to put Masch in charge of the back-line for a couple of games. It would make him think a lot more about his positioning if he had the added responsibility. He could do it, but I doubt that they would give the role to him over a Catalan player.

    Barca’s high defensive line requires a leader at the back. That’s why it’s so effective when Puyol’s on the pitch. It’s not only his play, but also his reading of the game and him telling the other players what to do.

    Puyol constantly talks to the back-line. When he’s not on the pitch, nobody is doing that.

    • Jim
      November 14, 2012

      I was with you all the way, nzm, until you got to your solution 🙂

      If you don’t have it, it’s very difficult o get it. A lot is instinct just as scoring is up front.

      • nzm
        November 14, 2012

        Yeah – thought that might get to you, Jim! 😆

        I still believe in Mascherano, though. There have been times when Masch has got it horribly wrong, but more times than not, he hasn’t.

        If he was getting it that wrong all the time, then new direction has to come from the coaches.

        It’s not just Masch as has been pointed out – it’s the entire back-line. The playing forwards thing is a directive from the bench, because all of them do it.

        If the back-line gets caught ball-watching, then Tito also gets caught just watching the front half of the team. Maybe he and Roura should split the duties.

      • Messiah10
        November 14, 2012

        HAHA. Lol. Jim you make me laugh. I love your unequivocal loathing of Monster Masch! You truly own it my friend! 🙂

        • Jim
          November 14, 2012

          Yeah, it must seem like that. However, I sat and watched Masch do the same last year and be praised almost universally. It’s hard for me to understand why the coaches persevere with him there when they don’t have to. They obviously have more faith in him learning his trade there than I do which is fine. Even if he does improve and get rid of his suicidal tendencies, at best we are left with an ageing, not very quick, small CB which can’t be the future.

          I would like to correct one thing. I don’t dislike any of our players. While they play for Barca I want the best for them and from them. I also think that Masch would still be a more than adequate replacement for when Busi needs a rest. I do think his stint at the back would stand him in good stead there.

          I just think a lot of this debate will go away when we get the two Ps back. Individual errors will be cut right down and we will defend better as a unit. If we know we arent going to lose more than one a game at most it also takes the weight off our offense. With Puyi in the side you won’t catch any of the FBs or mids jogging back defensively. I have faith !

  16. ooga aga
    November 13, 2012

    la pulga gets una pistola in the face!
    **http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/soccer-dirty-tackle/argentina-arrive-saudi-arabia-leo-messi-gets-gun-234822110–sow.html

  17. egcg119
    November 14, 2012

    I am fine with conceding goals to height. I’m fine with being caught on the counterattack if Alves or Alba are caught too far forward.

    I am not okay with the defensive mistakes – seeing a run and not tracking it like Alves, lunging in for a god awful challenge like Masch and getting burned, or taking a terrible touch and losing the ball. World-class defense is about discipline. If we’re outmaneuvered tactically because we commit too far forward, I’ll take that sacrifice. But time after time, we are simply losing focus, and its unacceptable. What I like most about Montoya and Bartra is that they are working their ass off every second to prove themselves, and as such make very few mistakes. They don’t have to be perfect players, but they compensate with effort.

    The situation is more systemic than personnel-related to me. Yes, Masch is playing awfully and we miss Puyol. But every one of our defenders is making mistakes this season. Tito needs to address this on the training ground, not on the squad sheet.

    • Messiah10
      November 14, 2012

      For a second time, this ^^^^^^^^^^^^^. The comedy of errors that have come from our back line is incredible. I hate to say it, but Masch is responsible for the majority of them. 🙁 Oh where oh where has my Monster Masch gone, oh where oh where has he gone???

  18. mom4
    November 14, 2012

    OK, anyone else with beIn sports have the Argentina/ Saudi game set to record on their DVR today?

    Today I checked the scheduled recordings on my DVR and it now has me recording the Malaga vs. Real Sociedad game in the time slot that had been the Arg. friendly. The friendly is nowhere to be found. I don’t think I had imagined it. Really ticked off right now.

    • Blau-Grenade
      November 14, 2012

      For me the top 3 goals in that order are
      Leo’s goal against Brazil
      Neymar
      Falcao

  19. November 14, 2012

    Hoping I get a chance to watch Holland – Germany today.

    Lots of young talent on show, particularly in defense, and it should be interesting to see how they fare.

    Bruno Martina Indi has been getting a fair amount of hype and seems to have cemented himself in the Dutch squad, I’m excited to see him in action for the first time.

    Van Rhijn has taken over from vd Wiel at Ajax and has looked very solid at right back (and he can also play centerback) – he could be someone to watch if Alves does leave next summer.

    Willems at left back has never impressed me, but he was very young and raw at the Euros so maybe the Dutch know something I don’t.

    • barca96
      November 14, 2012

      I was impressed with that kid Bruno as well. He seems to be confident.

      But I still feel that we will be behind Belgium (oh God) for the next few years. They simply have a better crop of youngsters who are able to be the core of the team (Hazard, Vermaelen, Vertonghen, Kompany, Fellaini, Lukaku, Courtois and Van Buyten) ) while Holland is still stuck with the same set of players for nearly a decade.

      It hurts me that our rival has a better team now and for many years to come but it is what it is. I’ve been away from the country for over a decade so I have no idea why we lack young talents of late and besides Van Persie we don’t really have superstars.

      • November 14, 2012

        It seems to me that Dutch football has stagnated a bit in the last decade. I put it down to both lack of world class players, but also due to lack of top down interest in the nation in developing players.

        Hopefully with the return of some previous superstars to Holland to coach or to be involved in the boardroom of several clubs, or even to play (like van Bommel at PSV) we are looking at the next decade as being a revitalization of Holland.

        And I agree, Belgium just has a bunch of better players than Holland right now.

  20. nzm
    November 14, 2012

    Very fast Argentina – Saudi Game – great to watch the skills.

    Rijkaard has taken the Barca game to the Saudi team.

    Ugh moment when one of the Saudi players broke his arm while falling in a tackle on Messi.

    • Blau-Grenade
      November 14, 2012

      Watched a few minutes of the game. Saudi is playing like Barca. Great to see that. They are moving into space and making lovely passes. The game is very fast.

    • Blau-Grenade
      November 14, 2012

      Wow, this is an end to end affair. I find myself supporting Saudi, they are playing their hearts out. Go, Rijkaard.

  21. simple_barcafan
    November 14, 2012

    Does anybody still remember Dmytro Chygrynskiy? 🙂

    • November 14, 2012

      Oh do I ever. The second biggest transfer failure of Pep’s time.

      • Blau-Grenade
        November 14, 2012

        It wasn’t a transfer failure. It was more politics because of which he was transferred. RoSELL was counting his pennies, and wanted to put Laporta down. Now the club needs that guy.

        Imagine a fully assimilated tall strong centre back with great distribution and ball skills.

        • November 14, 2012

          I can just as easily imagine an extremely slow center back who gives away cheap fouls around the box and isn’t capable of playing a high line.

          I know the official party line is it was a Rosell power play, and I don’t totally disagree with it, but as time has gone on his downsides are more prominent in my memory than his potential.

      • simple_barcafan
        November 14, 2012

        I am not sure if we can label him a “failure” when we didn’t even give him time to prove himself..Even palyers like Cesc who are La Masia players have found it difficult to assimilate quickly..

        • Jim
          November 14, 2012

          That’s a fair point. He wasn’t with us long enough for us to pass definitive judgement ……. But he couldn’t even tackle with both feet. He used to twist himself round to use his better foot and I’ve never seen a defender have to do that so awkwardly. I fear that wasn’t going to improve, nor was he going to get any quicker.

          • barca96
            November 15, 2012

            Chiggy? Honestly does anyone here think that he is good enough to play for Barça? I didn’t see any potential in him. He looked so uncomfortable. Pep basically judged him based on 1 match. Really poor choice.

            If he really was that good he would’ve been snapped up buying a bigger club now but he’s still in Ukraine.

            Bartra looks tons better than Chiggy is.

            A lot of people said that his long balls will come in handy but Pique can do that too and we had Marquez that year.

  22. nzm
    November 14, 2012

    Any chance we can sign the Saudi GK Waleed Abdullah? He owned his 5 metre box and then some. Was lucky not to concede a penalty when he brought Kun down in the dying moments of the game on the box edge, but the ref gave him a Yellow and Argentina a free-kick outside the box!

    One of the linesmen needed glasses – so many offside calls that were not offside.

  23. nia
    November 14, 2012

    Alexis got injured after 20 minutes in the game Chile-Serbia and is subbed off #fcblive

    SERIOUSLY??!! Hope it’s nothing serious 🙁

    • KEVINO17
      November 14, 2012

      And Borghi just got the boot. Maybe they’ll bring back Bielsa??? Hope this doesn’t mean Chile is going to go defensive.

  24. nia
    November 14, 2012

    WTH!!! Six Barca players in the starting lineup v Panama in a meaningless friendly and they will all probably play 90mins too 🙁 Messi and Mache played 90 and almost had his head blown of by overzelous security, Alexis got hurt after 20mins, Dani Alves will probably play 90 as well. This is just ridiculous and yet, no one from EE besides Di Diver played today.
    I hate international breaks, especially if it’s just for friendlies. ARRRRGGGGG!!!!

    • Messiah10
      November 14, 2012

      The Spanish Football Federation needs the money. There was a commitment clause in the contract for this game stating that so many Euro 12 players had to be involved and play. Unfortunately, for us that means our whole team! 🙂

  25. replayed
    November 14, 2012

    So could someone please remind me again why the Ibrahimovic experiment didn’t work out?

    I think FIFA need to update their Puskas award candidates.

    • Blau-Grenade
      November 14, 2012

      With his goals today Ibra will be in that list next year.

    • Blau-Grenade
      November 14, 2012

      Lovely goals by Ibra!!! It was more like Ibra vs England.

    • nzm
      November 14, 2012

      Amazing last goal – will definitely be the goal of the season.

    • Ryan
      November 14, 2012

      Poor rookie defenders having to defend a rampant Ibra! I’m not sure what the heck Hart was thinking with that joke of a header though.

  26. nia
    November 14, 2012

    Pedro’s scores for Spain at will ATM but, can’t buy a goal for Barca. Life’s not fair!!! 😉

    • Doug
      November 14, 2012

      Looks like both Pedro and Villa have scored. Both assisted by Iniesta.

      • Jim
        November 14, 2012

        Just watched the goals. Was someone telling us recently that Iniesta is out of form and that’s why he’s sitting on the bench ? 🙂

        • nzm
          November 14, 2012

          The benching did him good – he recovered form!

        • KEVINO17
          November 14, 2012

          Iniesta seems to get run down if he has to play a lot of games in a row. Indeed, he always seems to play very well after an injury break. It’s as if he needed the rest.

  27. Lev
    November 14, 2012

    “It seems to me that Dutch football has stagnated a bit in the last decade. I put it down to both lack of world class players, but also due to lack of top down interest in the nation in developing players.”

    It’s hard to develop them when at the age of 15 our academy players are bought by EPL clubs :s

  28. November 14, 2012

    A very good article.

    FCB have managed to get out of jail a few times this season and I suspect there will be a few more nervy games remaining.

    In La Liga, the defensive problems can be overcome for the majority of the time but in the CL beyond the group stages, these problems will be harder to conceal against more talented opponents.

    Against a very low block, I would like to see FCB start further down the pitch e.g. against Celtic, the starting positions were too high and this enabled Celtic to stay deep. Construct moves deeper and coax the opponent out generating space for the likes of Cesc and Pedro to exploit.

    A more cautious starting point would also provide greater support for the defence.

    This would be a short term strategy until the defensive issues are resolved with injuries clearing up and the team as a unit improving defensively.

  29. adelhani
    November 14, 2012

    Hi everyone,to explain my self, i have to go 4-5 years back !!!
    we have to look back in the history of the transfers that FC barca made,
    07/08 :
    Milito :20 M ( although he was not fit and Real.M didn’t buy him for that reason)
    (20 M lost)
    08/09 :
    Martín Cáceres : 16.5 M ( in his case i think was not that wrong,but the amount is big !!!)
    Henrique : 8 M ( yes he didn’t play for Barca !!)
    Aleksandr Hleb : 17M ( he was never a scorer , never )
    (41 M lost)
    09/10 :
    zlatan : 70M ( but not for 40M + Eto )
    Keirrison : 14M ( don’t know what to say !!!)
    Dmytro Chygrynskiy : 25M ( another shocking ,money wasted )
    (74M lost)
    10/11:
    villa : 40M ( good but late)
    Mascherano : 20M (good)
    11/12 :
    alexis :26 M ( is good)
    Fabrigas 34 M ( more than should be, but very good player )
    12/13 :
    Alba :14 M
    song :19 M

    why to sell yaya for 30M and buy Mascherano & song (20+19 = 39 M)
    and he his much better than both together !!!
    Barcelona lost bout 125 M and yaya & Eto for not better replacement …

    In the same time Real Madrid bought in 2005 Ramos for 27M (when he was just 19) and Pepe in 2007 for 30M )
    and they are much better than what we have ….

    I have to say that pep.G ( i like very much ) made huge mistakes in Transfer market, and what barcelona saved Thanks to youth academy ( Xavi,insiata,busq….) wasted on players who did nothing.

    what Barca could do this year if we didn’t have money???
    there was no need for Song (19M) and got pogba from Manu for free 19 years old MD very strong and fast and 189cm .
    bought Agger from LV for the money.. ( he not long term investment, but for 3-4 years, has problem that he gets injured …)
    (the best replacement for King-abi ,can play LB)
    or lucio for free,
    I don’t think that Hummels is good defender for barca, because he is not fast and too ‘heavy ‘ (and we have one like him Pique).
    what can we do now ???
    sell villa for good price (because he is 31).
    buy aguero or (falcau), and get llorente or klose for free.
    get defender for short term and next year another one for long term (like real madrid did when they bought Raphaël Varane for 10M ).

    all what i wanted to say is : Barcelona saved a lot of money Thanks to the academy, and they should invest the money on top players with no risks, So i think in January they should go for defender, like Agger from LV, or Ivanovic from chelsea.
    in the summer :
    GK : they have to buy the next ‘manuel neuer’
    Defender’s : puyol ,pique,bartra,(Agger or Ivanovic), + 1 healthy defender.
    striker: sell villa & afellay and buy aguero (or falcau) and get klose for free.
    no need for neymar because you have Deulofeu

    play puyol just in the important games, like giggs in Manu and he will give you 3-4 years more,like maldini.

  30. Gogah
    November 15, 2012

    The Lexus is back to the Mechanic. will be out for repairs for a month or more. Fu**ing FIFA!
    Oh And.. Iam Zlatan!

    • barca96
      November 15, 2012

      Just when he put in 2 good performances on the trot and now he gets injured. Sigh.

    • G6O
      November 15, 2012

      A month… Damn… It seems like it will be another season like the last…

      When is Cuenca supposed to return?

  31. barca96
    November 15, 2012

    I would like to share this insightful article by Jonathan Wilson.

    The Question: why are more goals
    being scored?

    m.guardiannews.com/sport/blog/2012/nov/15/why-more-goals-scored-football?cat=sport&type=article

  32. barca96
    November 15, 2012

    What a penalty miss by Neymar. Hopefully some NFL scouts were watching the match.

    • Blau-Grenade
      November 15, 2012

      Just saw the highlights of that game. That was a terrible penalty kick.

      On the other hand his goal was really nice. He beat two defenders in open play, and angled the ball into the net.

    • Huckleberry
      November 15, 2012

      Was probably deliberatly, because the penalty was not justified.

    • G6O
      November 15, 2012

      Either something was wrong with the grass around the penalty spot or he slipped and lost balance. I didn’t see any signs of the latter so it must have been the grass. He hit that ball from below which he obviously didn’t intend and is actually not at all easy to do on purpose in a normal situation – that ball went straight into the sky at a 45 degree angle…

  33. ooga aga
    November 15, 2012

    11 liga matches.
    10 wins, a draw.
    38 shots on goal from opposing teams.
    14 goals against.

    -one own goal
    -two PKs
    -one FK
    -one shot deflected past VV by our defender (Sarabia/masch)
    -one deflected shot that landed right at the feet of an opposing player (Bermejo)
    -one deflected pass that landed right at the feet of an opposing player (Trochowski – nice finish)
    -two goals by Ronaldo
    -one goal gifted by Alves bad positioning (first goal against of season by Castro, Sociedad)
    -give away in midfield by Messi leads to Negredo beating Song
    -nice volley by Llorente (osasuna) to beat VV and Jordi at close range
    -the goal by Depor that bounced off VV hands after his sight was obstructed
    -Pereira’s goal for Mallorca this past wknd (again probably down to Alves)

    that’s all 14. weve scored 36.

    After 11 games last season we had given up 6 and scored 34.

    • G6O
      November 15, 2012

      We were actually beaten by the other team for very few of these goals indeed.

      It doesn’t really matter how many goals we have given up this season compared to last, what matter is how much silverware we will have at the end of it

      • ooga aga
        November 15, 2012

        i agree, all that matters is the silverware at the end.

        i posted the list of goals without comment, i wanted to see what others thought. i also watched youtube videos of some of the goals.

        my feeling after all is…calm. get alves back in form, recoop the other injured defenders. i dont see any big problems. “sloppy play” as someone above said, in a couple cases, but i wouldnt say there is some big systemic problem. lets wait a few more weeks, or months…i dont see anything big needing to change and i also dont share the sense of alarm others have that we didnt buy a CB this year.

  34. barca96
    November 15, 2012

    Via Barcastuff :

    Ibrahimovic (PSG): “When Messi
    scored against Man Utd, he suddenly
    was the best in the world. That’s
    how it is with the English.” [via bbc]

    I’m just lost for words. He is not just ill in formed but it seems that he really jealous at Barça and its players. He’s been making a lot of snide remarks.
    He can’t get over there fact that he wasn’t good enough here.

    • KEVINO17
      November 15, 2012

      Zlatan talks like this because he knows, deep in his heart, that he’s pissed it all away.
      Though I will admit that the man is a marvel in friendlies.

      • G6O
        November 15, 2012

        With Messi moving to the middle, it was either the wing or the bench for him. It’s not just his fault

        • barca96
          November 16, 2012

          @G60

          It doesn’t really matter if it is his fault or not. He just needs to stop taking pot shots. He’s being really childish. Hopefully we’ll draw PSG in the KO.

          • apanchippo
            November 16, 2012

            Well, i’m obviously a bit biased (living in Zlatans home-town where he is, to put i mildy, popular)

            Anyhow, that quote is by no mean directed towards Barcelona or Messi, is is purely directed towards british media. Zlatan has been belittled, and called worthless by british media many times.

          • barca96
            November 16, 2012

            @apan

            Even though it might’ve not been directed directly to Messi’s but why use him as an example? Because he sure didn’t become the best player become of that goal.

            He could very just said the truth. The Englishtown media only recognizes a non-British player if he had a good match against the English NT and/or any English team.

            That is the way they measure a player. Not what his achievements are over the years but against the English NT and/or an English team.

  35. yoyoma
    November 16, 2012

    do you know how many Full-Season Ticket Holders have FC Barcelona? sorry for offtopic

  36. November 16, 2012

    OFFICIAL: The logo of Qatar Airways will appear on the shirt starting in the 2013-2014 season:

    The contract signed by Qatar Sports Investment and FC Barcelona foresaw the possibility of including a new sponsor on the team shirt from the third season of the agreement

    Sandro Rosell has welcomed Qatar Airways, “an ambitious brand with global aspirations, always commitment to the utmost excellence in its field”

    The Qatar Foundation now becomes FC Barcelona’s Official Human Development Partner, which will allow them to continue promoting their shared values.

    http://www.fcbarcelona.com/club/detail/article/qatar-airways-shirt-season-2013-2014

    *backs away from the Kxevin slowly*

    • G6O
      November 16, 2012

      Sigh.

      It was expected to happen eventually.

  37. barca96
    November 16, 2012

    I don’t like it one bit. I don’t really like to jump on the anti Rosell bandwagon but this I do not tolerate.

    Now QF can basically put whatever they feel like. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    But the good thing base on Barcastuff’s tweet is that it seems that Unicef needs to approve it first.

    Unicef have approved the change of
    the main shirt sponsor to Qatar
    Airways. They will continue to appear
    on the back of the shirt. [md]

    So QF can’t put any ridiculous named on our shirt.
    But my biggest concern is, when wasn’t this part of the deal shared with the world?

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